Saturday, January 31, 2015

Finally caught up on some quilting!

On Thursday we had to euthanize our lovely grey cat, Ba'el.  She was not eating, had heart and kidney failure as well as thyroid problems.

This was not an easy decision.  Decisions like this never are.  She had been part of our lives for 17 years. 

Ba'el was my constant companion when quilting.  I knew that my sewing room would feel really lonely.  Postponing sewing would only make it worse. 

So after coming home from the vet's I went for a long walk.  On icy side walks.  You have to concentrate hard when you walk on ice.  I found that that kind of concentrating helps centre my thoughts.  After the walk I headed for the sewing room.

 I started working on block #2 for the Pumpkin Patch Lane block of the month quilt. 

Not sure what I'll work on tomorrow, but time in the sewing room is a must.  Otherwise I'll avoid going in there for months. 

Our other cat Tina doesn't like to come upstairs much any more.  And she has never been very interested in quilting.  Somehow I don't think she will be taking Ba'el's place in the sewing room.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quilting and vacation planning

For Christmas, my dear husband enrolled me (and paid for) a block of the month club at my local quilt shop.  He had to tell me about it before Christmas as the first block instructions and fabric were handed out in early December.  With Christmas, a number of family and friends passing away (4 to be exact) it wasn't until last week that I was able to start working on the block.  It was to be finished before January 23 when the next block came out.  Well it wasn't until January 25 before I managed to get the block finished.

Here is the first block for a quilt pattern named "Pumpkin Patch Lane"

I was really intimidated by the block so I found loads of excuses to delay starting on it.  Once I got started, the block was a lot of fun.

An e-mail friend contacted me to see if I would like a spool holder that had been given to her.  She included a photo and I said yes please!  It was dropped off on Monday and is great.  The spool holder measures 30" high and 25" wide with storage at the bottom.  I haven't counted how many spools it holds, but it holds all the threads I have!

So now I have to re-organize my sewing room yet again.  Now that is always fun.  You never know what I might re-locate during a clean up.

Now for the trip planning. 

We had our first trip planning meeting last weekend.  This is for our spring trip to Walt Disney World.  There are 6 of us going with 5 staying on Disney property.  Planning included the ins and outs of meal planning, how we will meet up at the park, getting to the airport and even ideas on what to pack.  I'm sure there will be more meetings which I'm looking forward to.

The family member who will not be on property is staying at a time share.  A good friend has arranged for him stay there.  Unfortunately, trying to get information from the company that runs the time share has been a nightmare.  The staff actually working at the time share resort are great.  But a lot of the information has to come from the main company. 

He is trying to get confirmation that the reservation at the resort is in his name. (Would be nice to know he actually has a place to stay.)  When the park shuttles come and where the shuttles drop and pick guests up? (Be much easier to meet up with him if we know where and when they will drop him off.)  Any expenses he has to plan for?  All the questions that usually come up when you plan a trip. 

So while he is waiting for a number of weeks for answers to his questions and concerns he gets a phone call.  Call display says it's from the management company for the time share.  Great, they are calling with some of the answers.  Nope.  It's a sales pitch.  "You have won a free vacation.  All you have to do for your three day vacation is sit in on a time share sales pitch."  How is it free if he still has to pay for the flight, food, etc.?  The sales agent would not get off the phone and finally our family member has to hang up.  This is at 7 in the morning!  Not a great way to start the day.

Here's hoping he finally gets the information he requires soon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year and Trip Planning

So how did 2014 end for us?  Not well.  First DH had two uncles pass away.  So there was a funeral on the Friday before Christmas and a viewing the Monday after.

Then on the final day of the year my Mom's last sibling passed away at the age of 97.  She was in a nursing home in Bakersfield, CA.  From what we have been told she had a lung infection of some sort and the nursing home did not give her the antibiotics that the doctor at the hospital prescribed.  No idea if this is true, but it is what her family told my mom.  Not very pleasant for Mom to think about her sister passing away under circumstances like that.

Then we heard that the father of two wonderful kids that we know through friends had passed away.  He had Huntingtons disease.  Our prayers are going out to all those who love him.

Here's hoping that 2015 will be much better for all!

We do have another trip to Walt Disney World planned for this year.  Celebrating both Mom and my birthdays.  I have posted photos of the backpacks I've made for our group a while back.

There are several firsts for this trip:

Our cousin RB will be joining us for his first visit to the "World".  He has some serious health issues so we are really hoping that everything works out.  Mom really likes showing WDW off to new visitors.  In fact all of us get a kick out of this.  It's the wow factor that really adds to our enjoyment.  We are looking forward to taking RB to WDW.

A good friend of RB is letting him use his time share in Orlando.  So for a very low cost RB will have a lovely suite complete with kitchen (to help keep down costs).  He won't be renting a car and will be relying on the time share's shuttle service.  He's promised to blog about the experience of staying at a time share (off property) and not renting a car (which is what people usually do - but he can't for medical reasons).  I've been enjoying reading his thoughts on the trip so far.  And RB's enthusiasm is really contagious.

There are six of us going and we managed to get a direct flight to Orlando.  This flight happens once a week so we either had to stay 7 days or 14.  Naturally we chose 14 days.  So we are going to have the luxury of time.  I'm sure it will still go too quickly.

For the first time I chose to use an official Disney travel planner, "The Magic for Less" for my immediate family.  Previously we either booked through Flight Centre or direct with Disney. 

One benefit of using an agency that specializes in Disney vacations is that they watch for deals.  And if one comes out it is automatically applied to your vacation.  We got the good news on Monday that a discount came out and over $1,000 was saved for the four of us.  And Mike will keep looking for discounts for us!

Now the friend that is coming with us (SB) booked her trip through Flight Centre.  Several issues here and it's been a learning experience for all of us. 

My group has our luggage tags and confirmation for our airport to resort transfer.  We've had them for several months.  Our agent, Mike, requested that they be sent as soon as we booked our trip. 

The travel agency Flight Centre uses does not submit all the information immediately to Disney.  In fact, SB will not receive her luggage tags or confirmation for her airport to resort transfer until two weeks before she goes.  If there is an issue with the mail, she may not get it in time.  Yet she's paid for this service.

So I ended up calling Magical Express and asking for another luggage tag for her as she will have two suitcases.  Normally only one tag is sent but Magical Express has no issue with providing another tag.  The cast member, Maria, said that it would be sent out right away.  So at least SB will have a confirmation for the airport to resort transportation in time for our trip and one of her luggage tags.

SB had another issue.  The official itinerary with her Disney confirmation number would not be mailed until just before the trip.  She needs this confirmation number to link to her My Disney Experience account.  Without this she would be unable to make early dining reservations, book Fast Pass Plus for rides and shows. All of which she is paying for.

We called and we were told we'd get a call back.  That didn't happen so we went to Flight Centre in person.  There we found that even if SB had the correct confirmation number there was another issue.  The agent did not have SB's correct phone number. Not only that, the agent had given the travel agency they use the wrong phone number.  The travel agency in turn gave the incorrect number to Disney.

We tried to link the confirmation number we finally got to SB's My Disney Experience account.  But Disney has security set in place to prevent fraud.  It couldn't match her name, confirmation number and phone number.  Which is when we realized Flight Centre was using a wrong number.  So that had to be corrected.  Another trip back to Flight Centre.  We weren't going to wait for phone calls that don't happen.

To make it more frustrating the agent had difficulty understanding why this was such a big deal.  She seemed to think everything could be done when we got to WDW.  We tried to explain that Disney has changed things recently.  You need to book everything early and that even guests staying off property have to pre-book or else wait in long lines...but she just didn't get it.

Then the discount was announced.  The agent decided it would be "not worth" it to try and get the discount applied to SB's trip. 

This seems to be a theme with Flight Centre staff.  A few years ago Disney came out with free dinning.  My family was going for 10 days during the time when free dinning was offered.  Our agent at Flight Centre tried to dissuade us from cancelling and re booking to get the deal.  After all it would cost $50 per person to do this.  Really....spend $200 on cancellation fees to have 4 people eat for free for 10 days. Lets just say we prevailed and the trip was cancelled, re-booked with free dinning added.

So here's hoping that this will be the only post that has a rant in it.  I highly recommend using an agency that specializes in Disney vacations when going to any Disney location.  You will get great service and the best prices.  Plus really good advice.