Friday, June 30, 2017

Measuring Success - June 29, 2017

Happy end of the month! June went by so, so fast. In fact, I normally have this post written earlier in the week and this week? Totally wrote it Thursday night at 9:00 PM. It's normally the first one I crank out and here I am a little lost on what to say.  June wasn't a good month, it was actually a really good month!

The past few months, I haven't stuck to my usual format for this post. I used to go over my heart rate, my endurance, how my clothes fit, photos, measurements and weight.  And today, that seems a little restictive.  Maybe it's because I've finally hit that place where I'm okay with where I'm at, maybe it's because some things this month were good and some not so good. Either way, this month, I'm going to follow my gut and take a slightly different approach.

The Good
Last month, I gained weight. Five pounds. I went back over the dreadful number that I worked so hard to get past on the scale.  So this month, I buckled down. I kept with my workout schedule, but I did something new and actually tracked my food.  Every day. I realized how many calories were in my favorite Cookout tray (that was super depressing) and learned that overall I actually eat pretty healthy.  Tracking just helped me realize that I didn't need that extra snack or Starbucks drink.  By doing that I lost 7.4 pounds.  That's pretty awesome!

I did yoga with my friend Chrissy. Chrissy and I have had a growing friendship over the years. I met her though my friend Sarah when she lived in Fayetteville.  I learned that she was an awesome crafty person and I became one of her best customers! She made me jewelry, placemats and even an amazing painting that still hangs in my kitchen today. Then I got into yoga and she became my far away yoga buddy.  Then they moved back from Arizona, where they were stationed for a few years, and now she lives just south of Richmond.  So we decided we needed to have a girls day! I drove up Friday night, we had pizza and beer and the next morning we went to do hot yoga in VA Beach. It was a different experience because there were only three of us.  I'm used to a fuller class! But it was fun to do yoga with my friend! Then we had an awesome lunch and walked on the beach. A year ago, I would not have traveled to do yoga. I would have laughed at you a little if you did it.  And here I am, all excited about it.




My shoulders look awesome. I took this photo for my Stitch Fix post and wanted to post it here. I've worked really hard on these bad boys, so I'm happy to show them off.



The Not So Good
I didn't want to call this "the bad," because it really isn't anything bad, it's just not as good as I want it to be.  I took my measurements last night and I gained inches in my waist and hips (0.5" each) and stayed the same in my bust and arms. I did lose 0.5" off my thighs, so that's good! I guess I just expected with a 7 lb weight loss that I would see some inches come off as well, not gain them!

Comparison
For me, comparison photos are still the best indicator of success.  The change happens so gradually that if I don't look back at where I came from, I don't always see just how much I've actually accomplished.  This time last year, we were on our Alaskan cruise. So I've had tons of photos pop up on my Timehop app and I can't help but be amazed at how different my face looks now.


At this point last year, I'd been going to the gym for about six months, but I hadn't kicked it into high gear. I was still doing about three to four classes a week (versus my six or seven now) and I hadn't really changed my eating habits that much. So while I was definitely in better shape than when I started, I hadn't had that much change. I look at that pic from last year and the one from a recent wedding and I can't help but be proud.  I see a thinner face, but I also see someone that is so much happier and more comfortable in her own skin.

So July is almost here.  Tomorrow actually. We'll be celebrating my husband all day tomorrow and I'm so excited for it. He's truly my favorite person and there isn't anyone that I would rather spend a whole day celebrating (except maybe myself). My goal for July is my last 3 pounds before I hit a total of 25 pounds lost.  I'm at 22 right now and I would so love to be able to say I've lost 25. It's just a nice, round number. Other than that, I'm going to keep up what I've been doing and enjoy our vacation and summer.  Happy Friday folks! How's your journey going?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 2017 Stitch Fix Review

Confession time - whenever I get a notice that my fix is being styled, I obsessively refresh the app until it says that it has shipped so I can peak and see what I've gotten. I know, I know. Totally against the whole "surprise" thing, but I can't help it! And it's still a surprise because you never know how things are going to look on you!  I was super excited when I saw that I was getting - it looked like a 5/5 fix!

If you aren't familiar with Stitch Fix, check out this blog post for information on the service and on how it works.  For those of you that know Stitch Fix, let's get to the good stuff!

Diba Dreamer Sandal, 8.5 - $65


I really liked these shoes out of the box. The neutral color and straps seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, the sandals were too small.  The color was also quite terrible on my skin, so I didn't request an exchange.  I tried to photograph them on my feet, but the straps looked really weird.  Anyway, back they went.

Skies are Blue Reginald Crochet Detail Top, L - $54

 I love my stylist, Kelly. Kelly gets me. She gets me so much that she sent me this beautiful green shirt that she knew I would immediately love.  And I did! Then Aaron reminded me that it looks exactly like half of my other tops. So while I loved it, I didn't need to spend $54 on another top that looked like what I already own. Back it went.  I'm still a little sad about it.


Gilli Ryland Knit 2fer Maxi Dress, L - $78



I was a little skeptical about this dress. I'm short with short legs.  Long skirts and dresses are generally not my friends, but this dress was really flattering! I didn't love it at first, but when I put it on, Aaron really liked it.  I actually thought it had too much cleavage at first, ha.  When I looked in the mirror, I was pleasantly surprised.  We have a few weddings later in the summer/fall and this will work great for those! I kept this one and am so excited to wear it!


Skies are Blue Henlow Knit Halter Top, L - $38

I love this top. I loved it in the peak, I loved it out of the box and I loved it on.  It's really comfortable and flattering! I've worked hard on my arms/shoulders, so I love being able to show them off! I also really appreciated the price point! I rarely get tops less than $40 from Stitch Fix!  Obviously, I kept this one.



Can we talk about my shoulders? Cause they look awesome!

Dear John Corbin Frayed Hem Short, 12 - $58 



Dear John is one of my favorite brands for shorts. However, they are all over the place with sizing! I have a size 14 pair from last summer that are huge on me! Like I can take them on and off without unbuttoning or zipping. But this pair? I barely got over my butt. I liked the white and frayed hem. I was excited for them! But I didn't know if sizing up would help or if they were going to be like my other 14s and lose their stretch really quickly and then be too huge to wear.  They were also shorter than I prefer, so back they went. 

What do you think? Would you have kept something I didn't?




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 Summer Bucket List

Since last week I talked about some big bucket list items we crossed off last year with our Alaskan Cruise (read about them here and here), I thought it only fitting that I share my Summer 2017 bucket list!

I'm not entirely sure when bucket lists became a big thing. But they definitely are! I have a Google doc with my bucket list that I can just add to whenever. It's forever changing as I think of new things I want to do.  My latest idea is an international yoga retreat.  One of my instructors just took a group to Bali. Yes, please! Sign me up! But since that isn't happening anytime soon, I thought I'd come up with one for this summer. A more attainable list, you might say.  Most of these I've had in my mind for a while, so most are already planned!

Week at the beach
This one is already planned, so I'm super excited for it. We'll be heading down to Emerald Isle for a week with my parents and I am so, so ready!

Visit at least 2 NC lighthouses
I have great plans while we are at the beach to visit some lighthouses! Growing up, my dad's parents loved them. My grandfather loved Hatteras in particular and documented when they moved it! I've lived in NC my entire life and have never been to one of the lighthouses, how crazy is that? While I would love to visit them all, that probably won't happen, so I'll stick with two.

Go hiking in the mountains
While I am not an outdoor person by any stretch of the imagination, my husband is and I've found a few things that I enjoy. Hiking is one of them. I don't have to sleep with creatures, I can go home to air conditioning and a shower. We've been hiking in Umstead, but have also talked about doing doing some hikes in the mountains. Maybe doing a day trip or an overnight.

Go to a food truck rodeo
Durham has tons of food trucks and food truck rodeos and I've never been to one! Aaron is usually working when they are happening or we have something else going on. I definitely want to try and make one this summer.

Concert!
It has been so long since I've been to an actual concert.  I think the last one I went to was Garth Brooks with my mom last March. My friend Laura and I have tickets to go see Sam Hunt, so I'm pretty sure this one will get ticked off the list!

Mini yoga retreat
This past weekend, I drove up to Virginia to hang out with my friend Chrissy. She's a yogi, too. She lives in the country and doesn't really have many yoga studios near her, so we drove over to Virginia Beach and did a power flow class there.  It wasn't really a "retreat" by any means, but I traveled somewhere to do yoga! That was kinda cool!

After our yoga class, we went to this amazing farm to table restaurant, Commune.  I had a pimento cheese burger and side salad that were delicious!


We walked on the beach for a little bit and I managed to get burned in like 30 minutes. We saw King Neptune. The last time I was in VA Beach, it was cold and rainy.  I much preferred this version of it! It was a success!





Try 3 new local restaurants
Durham is what I would consider foodie heaven, but we always get stuck in the rut of going to the same places.  There are so many awesome local restaurants near us, we just need to go try them! So my goal is to try three new ones by the end of the summer! I'll report back later!

Visit a new state
I love to travel (in case you couldn't tell!). We had a small travel budget this year thanks to everybody and their brother getting married. But we have some pretty awesome vacations coming up like the beach and a trip to Tennessee with our friends Danny and Sarah. I haven't been to Tennessee before so this will get checked off, too!

Read five new books
Once upon a time, I was an English major. I read really deep, though provoking books. Now I work full time and live at the gym, so I read smut romance.  I've been making an effort to read more non-smut romance books and since I have some time off, what better time? I read fast, so ten should be easy.

What about you? What's on your summer bucket list?







Friday, June 23, 2017

Where Have You Been All My Life - Favorite Finds Part I

I learned a long time ago that while super creative people that come up with totally new ideas are amazing, they are fairly rare and that there is a certain art to taking what others have created a finding a way to make it your own. One of my former bosses used to say, "We don't reinvent the wheel, we just tweak it." Bloggers are pretty much the same. We take good ideas and adapt them to us and our readers. My idea for this favorite things post came from some of my favorite bloggers' series about Friday favorites.

I probably won't do this post every Friday, so I just left it at Favorite Finds. Also, alliteration makes me happy. Sometimes, you just find new items and think, "Where has this been all my life? Do other people know?!?" and you have to share it. These are my recent finds!

Photo courtesy of schick.com
Schick Intuition Razor
I'm sure everyone and their brother knows about this razor, but I am cheap. I hate spending lots of money on razors, so I never bought this one. But the refills for my usual razor were out and I had an Ibotta coupon for this one, so I bought it. And holy life changer! I can shave my legs in about two minutes! I don't have to lather them up first, then shave. You just shave! It's amazing! I am slightly annoyed that they are more expensive than what I normally use, but I consider the fact that I will show up to the gym with hairy legs less often a win. 




Poshmark
My friend Traci over at Choosing Better told me about Poshmark. I am what you would call obsessed. Poshmark is like an online consignment store. It's great because it's on your phone, so people are always looking at the site! You can sell pretty much anything on there! Traci told me about it at a blogging class, but I took my sweet time using it. One day I posted a few items and once the notifications started rolling it, I was hooked!

If you've never tried Poshmark, you can use my reference code URABC and we both get a $5 credit! Win win! Traci has a really good post on how to tell on Poshmark and it's what I've used and have already sold three items in a week! Yay! You can find her post here.  It's helped me sell five items in about two weeks!

What I like most about Poshmark is that it's easy. It's easy to post your items, to share your items and to ship them - they send you a prepaid label, you pack the item up and ship it out via the USPS. When you're listing, you can see exactly the amount of money you'll make off the sale. It's a great way to earn some spending cash on the clothes you don't wear. It's also a great place to find items that might be out of your usual budget - like Lululemon! 

Photo courtesy of origins.com

Origins Mask Brush
The last time I was at Origins, I picked up some items for me and gifts for my mom and mother-in-law. I was pretty close to a free gift, so the lady suggested I buy the mask brush to get me to the free item. I thought it would be dumb, but that thing is actually really useful! Who knew?! If you do face masks regularly, which I now do weekly, it's a super easy way to apply your mask and apply it evenly. And it's only $11. Not a bad deal!






Banana Chips
These are my newest snack obsession! I am not a huge banana fan as I need them to be exactly right to not be gross when I eat them. They can't be too mushy and they can't be too hard. Banana chips are the answer to that issue! I first realized I liked banana chips when I had them in the new Sargento Sweet Balanced breaks (another good snack option). I found myself wanting to eat all the banana chips first! So I grabbed a bag of them and it was love and it was love at first crunch! Try some if you haven't!

What are some of your favorite finds?  Happy Friday friends!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cruising Alaska Part II - It's Not Just for Old People! Adventures in Alaska

Raise your hand if you think Alaskan cruises are for old people? I'm raising my hand with you because I kind of thought they were too. I love to travel and I have always wanted to do an Alaskan cruise, but I still thought they were for old people. But really, they're for all adventuring people!

Now, let's be clear. If you want to bask in the sun in a bathing suit and do nothing, this is not the cruise for you. Some places, like Ketchikan, don't see that much sun and don't expect to sunbathe. At all. But if you like nature, cool history and really good seafood, you'll be just fine!

Let's talk the fun stuff. Let's talk our adventures!

Seattle, WA
We sailed out of Seattle. I specifically wanted Seattle for one reason and one reason only. If you know me well, then you can guess it: Starbucks.  Seattle is home to the first Starbucks and my obsession with Starbucks is strong, ya'll. But I also love seeing new cities and Seattle seemed cool.

We had a little extra time before boarding on Saturday and we had a full day after disembarking the following Saturday. Here are our Seattle highlights!

Lunch at the Space Needle
We did this on the front end. Fun fact, it was Pride week and this was parade day! We thought it was going to be terrible getting around, but we were in walking distance so it was just fine! It was a really gorgeous, clear day, so we were able to see everything, including our ship!


You could even see Mt. Rainier in the distance! Such a pretty day!



First Starbucks
No trip to Seattle is complete for any Starbucks aficionado without a trip to the first Starbucks! Fun fact, this isn't the actual first Starbucks. It's actually a few blocks from there, but I didn't care. It was a 30 minutes wait to get in line and I happily told my family they could leave me there if they wanted, but I was doing it. They stuck it out with me and I got some new Starbucks mugs! Whenever I travel to new places, I always try to get a Starbucks "You are Here" mug. I have quite the collection going!




Duck Boat Tour
Dad's knee was bugging him at this point after standing in line at Starbucks, so this ended up being Aaron, Mom and I. It was so much fun! We rode around the City and through the lake! Our favorite part were the boat houses.  We're also pretty sure we saw Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, so that was cool too!



Juneau, AL
Juneau was our first stop and had the most to do by far. I've told everyone that I would love to go back to Alaska, I just don't know that I would cruise it again. It's a great introduction to some of the towns, but I'd like more time in some of them! We did one of our two big excursions in Juneau and we kicked around town afterwards.

Helicopter Ride and Glacier Walk
Two big bucket list items for me right here - helicopter ride and walking on a glacier! I'm sorry, if you go to Alaska, you better go see a glacier. If you don't, you're doing it wrong. Better if you can touch it and walk on it! We got to fly over the glacier to see it - it's HUGE! We were then dropped off on the glacier and learned facts about glaciers, how old they are, if they're growing or shrinking (this one was shrinking) and we got to drink glacier water!

The view of the glacier from the helicopter. You can see how far back it goes!


You can really see the texture of the glacier in this photo. 




Aaron did a "glacier push up" to drink some of the glacier water!




Red Dog Saloon and Crab Legs
The Red Dog Saloon is one of those tourist trap places that you can't help but love. The waitresses are dressed as wenches and they sing dirty bar songs, many of which I knew from my Irish bar-going days in Fayetteville!  Also, crab legs are a must in Alaska! This is where Aaron learned how to eat crab legs!





Sitka, AL
Have you ever seen the move "The Proposal" with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock? It's set in Sitka!  Sitka was my second favorite place and where we did our other excursion.

Wildlife Watching and Volcanic Beach
We went wildlife watching in Sitka. We saw a bear, lots of eagles, sea lions, and whales! So many whales! We also visited a beach with volcanic ash sand.

This is a photo from the beach. The sand is black from the volcano. It was also cool to do this beach because they usually aren't able to get to it due to weather.


Eagle! We saw so many of them!


We got really, really lucky when we were out watching whales. They were right beside our boat! We saw at least three or four of them and one even did came out of the water and did a back flip!



Our guides were super cool on this trip and drew a map for us (like they do everyone!) showing our route, where we visited and what we saw. 



Ketchikan, AL
We were only in Ketchikan for four hours and it rained the. whole. time. Not like a misty rain, but a get you wet to your bones rain. And I was determined to see some totem poles.

Totem Heritage Center
Alaska has some great history with their totem poles and we learned about a Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan that had collected some of the old totems and had preserved them. We went on an adventure to find them!

The Totem Heritage Center was not within walking distance, so we rented one of these cars. It has a little more power than a golf cart, but not by much! We drove through town until we fond the Totem Heritage Center.



But we found it!


So many old totems! And there were plaques that explained what each one meant.  Some represent death, some marriage, some are familial and other are territorial.



The last stop on our cruise was Victoria, British Columbia.  I don't really have anything on here for our adventures there because we really didn't do much there.  We walked around town, had a gelato and some coffee.  We didn't pull in until 6:00 PM and most of the places had closed by then. So we just hung out and then headed for the ship. 

Sarah's Tips:
  • There are so many things to do in Alaska, but most of the really cool excursions aren't cheap.  Pick one or two things you can't do anywhere else and spend the other days in town. You will still have lots of fun!
  • Get on a glacier! Or at least go see one! I don't get much into politics on here, but many glaciers are receding, not growing. They are still huge and majestic and not like anything else you will ever see, but they might not always be there. Take time to go see one!
  • Alaska is all about nature, but people also live there. Learn about the people and the history while you're there, too.
  • Eat! Eat! Eat! The ships has food, yes, but I guarantee you it's not nearly as good as what you can get in town. And if you find a shack selling crab legs with picnic tables out front, even better!
We loved Alaska and I totally get why people go back so many times! I would definitely go back to Juneau or Sitka and Aaron wants to eventually do one of the land adventures too and see Denali. If Alaska is on your bucket list, don't wait until you're old to do it. Do it while you can still adventure!


Looking at the Hubbard Glacier from the bow of the ship! 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cruising Alaska Part I - Planning Your Cruise

Alaska is one those places that is on most people's bucket lists and if it's not, it should be! About this time last year, we did an Alaskan cruise with my parents. We wanted to do one more big trip before we started talking kids and it was also my dad's 60th birthday, so we went for it. I didn't have a blog last year, so I only really posted photos on Facebook. But now that I have a blog, I thought it would be fun to do a couple of posts on our cruise!

My dad snapped this amazing shot of another cruise ship in Yakutat Bay. 


An Alaskan cruise is not like a regular cruise, at least from what I have heard. We hadn't actually cruised before this trip, so I have nothing to compare it to. But I can share what we experienced, what we loved (and didn't) and what we learned! I'm going to split this into two posts - Planning Your Cruise and Our Favorite Experiences.

Once we decided that we were actually going through with this cruise idea, I did a lot of research. I'd never cruised before and Alaska is big! I wanted to make sure that I knew all that I could. Pinterest was amazing and full of great information.  What I'm telling you probably isn't anything new, just what worked for us and how and why we planned our vacation the way we did.

Choosing Your Cruise Line
Choosing your line and your route can be done interchangeably, depending on what your major concern is (route vs. ship). Your main cruise line choices for Alaska are going to be Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Celebrity and Princess.  The ships are smaller to fit through the Inside Passage.  One blogger wrote, and it has stuck with me, that you go to Alaska for Alaska, not for what you can do on the boat. And it's so, so true. Your Caribbean boats have more attractions, more food, more...everything. But on an Alaskan cruise,you're up pretty early to visit the towns and most of the cruising is scenic, so you're up most of the day. There isn't a ton of nightlife and, honestly, when you have from 7 am to 11 am in a town, you really don't want to be up super late the night before.

Our ship!
We chose Holland America because my parents had cruised with them before and had a really good experience. They were also right in line with Norwegian on their pricing. We had decided before that we weren't interested in Carnival for this cruise and wanted a nicer line.

Pros
  • Smaller ship, so getting off and on the boat didn't take forever. 
  • Food was good (pro), but was also what I call hoity-toity food. A meat and potatoes dude like my dad would not be happy (con)
  • Staff were super nice and attentive. Mom did have some words with one of the ladies taking reservations for dinner, but no issues after that! 
Cons
  • Smaller ship so there wasn't as much to do. There was a library with games and books, which we utilized at night. There was also a casino, which Aaron utilized, some shopping, and entertainment lounge.
  • Smaller ship so there weren't many food options. There were options, but not as many as I would have liked. I have heard people say that you can eat and eat and eat on a cruise and by God, I wanted that! But I didn't get it. They had a coffee bar, a few restaurants (reservation and one cafeteria style), but that was about it. Not many choices.  
  • Food options were limited. Let's say my goal was to mostly NOT eat on the boat. It's also Alaska and I love seafood, so that played a factor, too.
Sarah's Tips
  • Talk to others that have cruised to see what line they did and what they enjoyed. We actually met a couple at breakfast one morning that had cruised Alaska multiple times (apparently, this is normal) and said that Holland America was the best and had the best food. I don't know that was our experience, but it was definitely good information. 
  • Look at the decks for each ship. See what ship you're going to be on for your dates/route and what kind of food and entertainment options there are.  
Choosing Your Route
Alaska cruises for the Inside Passage have a standard route that they do: leave either Seattle or Vancouver, Juneau, Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier, Ketchikan, Sitka or Skagway, Victoria or Prince Charles and then back to Seattle or Vancouver. Your ports that you stop at in Alaska generally depend on your line.  Holland America always goes to Sitka and Norwegian and Carnival mostly goes to Skagway. Almost all lines go to Ketchikan and Juneau. 


Edge of the Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay next to a mountain. 
Our route was Seattle, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria B.C., and Seattle.  We chose this route because we really wanted to visit Seattle. When we scheduled our flights, we made sure to have extra time on the front and back end of the trip to explore Seattle. I'm so glad we did, it was amazing!  Sitka was one of our favorite towns and where we did one of our two big excursions.  More about that tomorrow!

Sarah's Tips
  • Figure out the cities you know you want to visit. If you've been to Seattle, maybe port out of Vancouver. If you've been to Glacier Bay, choose the route with Hubbard Glacier.
  • Check out the excursions that you can do in each town on a route. Juneau and Sitka had the most of the towns we visited. The others were great for just kicking around town. 
  • The month that you decide to travel will also help determine your route. June-July is the mid-season for Alaska cruises and when most of the excursions are available!

Choosing Your Room
I've heard that for Caribbean cruises, you don't really need a window. Most of your time is not spent in your room.  On an Alaskan cruise, that's about half true.

When I was doing my research, there were a lot of people that said that balcony was the only way. We did a window and were really pleased with it. Most of the time, we were out on the deck, especially during scenic cruising, or we watched from many of the restaurants and lounge areas.  I did enjoy the window for the days when we were feeling lazy and laid on the bed and watched the towns disappear into the distance. On our line, your room level also determined certain perks like if you had standing reservations or not.

The view from our cabin!
Sarah's Tips
  • Check your budget. Do you have enough budget to upgrade to room with a window or balcony? Does it mean cutting doing something else fun, like a big excursion? If so, don't do it. Always go for the big excursion. If you budget allows for it, go for it!

Packing
Ya'll, there are so, so, SO many posts about what to pack for Alaska. What not to pack for Alaska. Here's the down and dirty: lots of layers, nothing really fancy, casual.

Other than your fancy dinner nights, you won't need a dress or dress pants. Yoga and athletic pants are totally acceptable, even welcomed, for most activities. Alaska is an outdoor playground. You'll be whale watching, bird watching, hanging out with puppies and fisherman, and all that doesn't really require fancy clothes. In fact, they'll be in the way. One of our tour guides told us that everyone in Alaska lives off the land in some way. Remember that and you'll be good!

Let's be honest - this is what we looked like most of the time!
Formal night! Dress is from Rent the Runway.
What We Wore/Was Useful
  • Jackets - You only need one or two. It gets really windy and chilly on deck and in Ketchikan it's pretty much always raining. So a jacket with a hood is great.  If you have one that has a lining that zips in and out, that's the best. Otherwise, I would have a light, waterproof jacket and a warmer jacket. Focus on hood and waterproof.
  • Shoes - Tennis shoes. I brought others and lived in my tennis shoes and Toms.  The only time I wore fancy shoes was for our dressy dinners and I wore the same pair each night. 
  • Tops - 3/4 length tops, short sleeve tops and cardigans are your friend! Weather changes all the time and it can be hot and sunny one minute and wet and cool the next. Temperatures were pretty much around the 60s. A couple of nicer tops are good for when you might be going to one of the ship restaurants and want to look a little nicer. 
  • Pants - Jeans and athletic pants. We wore jeans a lot for days in town and the day we did wildlife watching in Sitka, we wore athletic pants (yoga pants for me). Comfortable pants are a plus!
  • Dresses/Fancy clothes - We had these for 2 nights and used them. Ladies, I highly recommend using Rent the Runway for this!
  • Binoculars - These are great for whale and other wildlife watching. We got some really lightweight 8x40 binoculars at REI for about $90 and they worked great.
  • Small bag/backpack - Instead of dragging your huge purse with you, a simple cross-body bag or light backpack is great for carrying what you need (wallet and ID, phone or camera, binoculars). You'll have it most of the day, so you don't want it too big.
  • Mini surge protector - cruise cabins have one outlet in them. I bought this plug in on Amazon for $10 and it allowed us to charge our phones and my ipad at the same time. 
  • Dramamine/Motion sickness medication - I got seasick the first day. Thankfully we were at sea for the first day so we didn't miss anything, but it was pretty horrible. I now know that ginger ale and granny smith apples are your friends when you're nauseous!
What We Didn't Use
  • Heavy coats - you don't need really heavy coats or big shoes for glaciers, they provide all that for you.
  • Camelback - I borrowed a larger daypack from my friend and ended up not using it. I just stuck to my crossbody bag.
  • More than one pair of fancy shoes! I say this for the ladies, especially ones like me that love shoes! You really don't need them. 
Sarah's Tips
  • Figure out what excursions you're going to do and plan for them (wildlife watching = binoculars, hiking = hiking boots)
  • For ladies, I recommend using Rent the Runway for fancy nights. I actually did the unlimited plan for a month so I was able to keep 2 dresses for as long as I wanted. 
  • Fancy shoes - As a shoe lover, I always bring a ton of shoes. I literally wore three, maybe four pairs, the entire time: Toms, tennis shoes, heels for my dresses, and flip flops around the ship. 
Costs - What You Should Expect
This was a really expensive cruise for us. We budgeted for about $5,500 for this trip. We wanted to be able to do everything we wanted to do and not have any regrets. I'm not a huge fan of doing the same trip over and over, so I try and wring everything out of a big trip.

When all the smoke cleared, we spent about $7,000. Our cabin and flights were about $4,800. The flight to Seattle wasn't bad, but still not cheap, and we had a room with a window.  Plus, all the extra expenses the ship tacked on (drinks, cleaning fees, etc).  We did two big excursions which was another $1,500 and the rest was spent on other stuff (spending, souvenirs, adventures in town, etc).  It adds up rather quickly. It was a lot of money, but I can honestly say that neither of us felt like we missed out on anything.  If you do an Alaskan cruise, be prepared to spend some money!

Sarah's Tips
  • Buy drinks and bring them on board. We were first time cruisers and didn't know that you can bring on a bottle of wine and sodas, otherwise we would have. This will definitely help cut down on some costs!
  • Look into drink packages. We looked into these and they didn't really make sense for us, but if you're a big drinker, they are definitely the way to go!
  • Be prepared to drop some money on this. There are ways to save, but you also don't want to skimp on your excursions and fun stuff! 

Guys, we stood on a glacier. That ain't cheap, but knowing that I've stood on a glacier? That memory is priceless!

Tomorrow I'll be talking about our favorite adventures in Seattle, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan! Have you cruised before? What was your favorite trip?