Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

African Comfort Food

Every Tuesday on board the good ol' AFM is African Night. Some look forward to is all week some dread it....personally, I LOVE it... though they do tone it own for us so they don't burn our mouths off. While I was working in the Galley, I asked my lovely day workers if they'd teach me how to make my FAVORITE African dishes so I can make them when I go home. I have yet to actually replicate what we made that day, but here is how you do it!

Me an one of my 'teachers'- Marina

Bentia(not in the pictures) started by teaching me Onion Stew(my all-time Favorite!!) You start by sauteeing onions until they are nice and soft.

Then you add spices- this is Jumbo, a local spice, which from what I can tell is essentially beef bouillon, but has lottts of MSG as well:)

You add salt, pepper, jumbo, chicken powder, beef powder, she added a little thyme, then tomato paste until it's the right color red, and a little bit of water.

You have to stir it often or it WILL burn onto the bottom of the pot.

Plantains are a HUGE part of our African meals on board. First, we have to peel all of them- we do between 8 and 14 cases every week!!

Once Peeled, we cut them up

Then Fry them up- In my personal opinion, the darker they are, the better the flavor:)

On to the beans!!! You start off with the same base as the onion stew, but with about 1/2 of the onions.

You have to boil the beans(Black Eyed peas) for a whilllee until they're nice and soft, and all of the water has evaporated off of them.

Once the beans are cooked, you add the 'red stew'.

This is the KILLER spicy sauce they cook up and put on the side for the TRUE african lovers... I can't even be NEAR them when they cook this or zap it in the food processor... it makes me sneeze, cough and makes my face burn!! That's how spicy it is!!!!

Mmmm gotta love it- that night we had fried sea bass with it. The rice is buried under all of the yummy sauces... it was a great night for my taste buds:)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pizza Time!!

I thought you guys might like to see how pizza is made for 400+ people. We normally make over 50 pizzas with enough for everyone to have 3 slices. Three VERY large slices.

The Ingredients

She's a sauce licker.... I'm a dough eater


Sneaking some of the Broccoli cream sauce...

Pizza night is sooo muuchhh funn!!!!:)

Monday, September 12, 2011


Every Thursday from 12:55pm- 2:30pm I work with a group of kids from the school on board, aka The Academy, and teach them drama. That really means having a glorified play time- especially with the youngest ones, but I do really try to get them learning.

The first class I have is from 12:55- 1:40. This is my 2nd and 3rd grade class and my biggest, which has a whopping 7 kids. Yes- only 7. They range in personalities like crazy, which definetly cracks me up sometimes. I have a few who love the class but rarely actually pay attention, one who is my listener, and the others like to just be silly. At least there's room for that in a drama class. Once I get them focused and paying attention, we have a great time:) Last week I started them on script reading. I attempted to explain a cold read to them, but they were all really confused... we'll work more on that later. But they were all excited to have a script in hand and ready to go. (Ps- does anyone reading have good scripts for 7 kids of this age- or a script that I can adapt. The one we're working with is good for now, but I want all of the kids to have more than just 1 line- a few only have 1 line, and I wanna get them reading out more. )

My second class is my 1:45-2:30 which is my Kindergarten and 1st grade class. I have 1 kindergartener and one 1st grader. It's definetly a challenge getting only 2 kids to play a game, as most games are defintely for at least 3 kids. I can't just play Duck Duck Batman or anything like that... I gotta get really creative with these guys. I have learned that they LOVE to pretend. Most of the time they mimic eachother a bit, but I think over time they'll figure it out. We played a game where they were pretending to be little seeds of a tree that were growing up, and one was wayy into it, but kept peeking an eye open to the other, who wasn't as excited. But.. again- with time:) I think these kinds of games are ideal. We also played a game where I was a toy store owner and the kids were toys, and I had to leave to do things and when I came back, I find the store in different shape than when I left... they loved that one. Especially when the shop owner called the police and the police told them they werent toys but little boys... making me the silly one:) haha. (If you have any games for 2 k-1 kids.. let me know- I'll run out of ideas after a while.. )

It's been a great time for me- it's always fun, and I'm ALWAYS learning a bit more about teaching, how to effectively get the kids to listen, and what works, but also what doesn't work and how not to do things:) I'm really looking forward to seeing what kinds of things we come up with over the rest of the year. I'm also really excited for the Christmas show that happens every year on board that I've been asked to help with. Any ideas? Haha... I'm fishing for ideas on all fronts;)

<3 M

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember...

I remember September 11, 2001- do you?

I was in 8th grade in my US History class. Mrs. Reese, my very favorite teacher, was teaching us- I think something about artifacts or something. I remember her leaving the class for a few moments and coming back with this look on her face. Something was terribly wrong. I think our class was one of the first to know because this was personal to our teacher. Her husband is in the army and was sure to be deployed. Little did we know that she was pregnant at the time. She hardly got any words out before the PA system came on and the Principal attempted to tell us what happened... no one believed it until Mrs. Reese turned the tv on and let it speak for itself.

I was sitting next to Kaylyn- one of my closest friends at the time, and her heart just sank. Everyone started talking to one another after a few minutes. She told me that she needed to call her mom who was only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. It turns out some of her family friends were indeed in the building when planes crashed.

Another boy in my class was saying that his mom is flying from DC to LA- he was worried his mom was on the flight. Thankfully, as it turned out, she missed the flight. I was sitting there mystified. Part of me was wondering if this was really happening. Part of me was totally terrified. I knew my mom worked close by to the pentagon... questions began rolling through my head... "Is she alive? Did she get hurt?"... If I remember correctly, my mom saw the plane coming down that hit the pentagon. I can't even imagine.

We were all called into an early lunch that day and dismissed quickly after. I didn't understand why. Were we at risk of being attacked? Was something else wrong? Did they just want us to be with our families? What about the kids whose parents are trapped in traffic or at work. My dad was home not long after I got home- I think he brought work home with him. My sister was home because they got out early too- but I think she quickly went to a friend's house. Me- I remember watching the TV blankly for a while... just confused...not sure if it was really happening. My mom wasn't able to get home until very late that night- she was required to stay at work until all pediatric patients involved in the day's events were taken care of.

I remember after a few days, selfishly complaining that I couldn't watch my usual TV shows becuase it was all only news(we didn't have cable yet). Looking back I think to myself, "Man- how stupid of me... people were dying and all I cared about was my own entertainment."

I think it finally set in after a while. I remember my writing teacher had us write daily. Not long after September 11, she had us write about our reactions to the day so that we could process a bit. Later in the year, I wrote a short story about a girl who was supposed to be there, but wasn't. Clearly it effected me in ways I didn't know when it first happened.

I think the thing that really struck me about the whole thing is how many people were spared. many were not, but there are so many stories of people who were supposed to be there but weren't. They missed their train, they overslept, they were sick, they took a day off.... it's just incredible to me. A miracle, really.

Remember this day- it will be important forever in American history. For those who were directly effected by the events, I pray that despite all of the evil, something good has come of all of this for you and your family. To the firefighters, police, and EMT's who were there that day- Thank you. To all of you brave soldiers- thank you for putting your life on the line for me. To all of those who have lost soldiers- they are so corageous and I hope you are proud of the freedom they have protected in our nation.

It still baffles me how someone could be so cruel as to purposefully take so many lives from people who did nothing wrong. They attacked our nation as a whole when only very few did anything to deserve it. I'm not going to say our country is perfect and blameless- there are definetly things that are corrupt and wrong. But it breaks my heart that so many had to die for the satisfaction of another nation. This event has struck up a war that has yet to be over, which has not only caused the death of many Americans, but many innocent souls in the east.

We can never forget this day. The world forgot too many innocent people to forget.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


After much deliberation and waiting, I have finally had the change I've been hoping for- a JOB change!! On August 30th, I was able to transfer from the Galley to Reception.

I was in such need of a job change. It wasn't that I totally hated my job, or didn't like the people- I adore everyone that I worked with- we were such a solid team there at the end. It was just honestly getting boring. My main jobs that I was asked to do were wash and prepare rice(6-8 6inch hotel pans full), peeling onions, garlic, or ginger, and baking. I LOVED the baking parts, and the rest were fine the forst 5 times I did them for 2 hours, but after a while, peeling things for a few hours just gets to be a bit boring and annoying... my mind was crying for some attention.

It's also not that I thought Reception would be the best job in the world for me- it's certainly not my dream job, but it's Different. You might wonder what a receptionist does on a ship. Well- for those of you from UMBC- it's much like working at the Harbor desk, but also, for those who know my job record- it also reminds me a lot of working at the pet hotel I worked at. It's like Harbor Desk because I'm in charge of keys and the desk has to be manned 24/7, but it's also like the pet hotel, because I have to put together packets for arrivals and departures as well as answer any questions to new people.

The likeness ends there. I work one of 3 shifts- the 7am-2pm(I have yet to do), the 2pm-9pm, and the 9pm- 7am(or 8am on the weekends). During the day time, my responsibilities mainly include answering phones, giving keys when needed, fufilling basic requests, as well as disembarking crew, and manning the fire panel and 911 phone. In the evening, I'm responsible for embarking crew as well as all of the above. During nights, I man the phones and such, but the main reason I'm at the desk is to man the fire panel and 911 phones.

The fire panel is the system which reads when detectors notice an abnormality. We have a prewarning(a small beep) when a less important detector reads an abnormality, and a FOB(Fire on board) warning when a high-value detector goes off. My job is to disarm the alarm and alert the officer on duty, who then checks it out. If I don't answer the alarm within 2 minutes, the alarm on the entire ship goes off, waking everyone up, which I DO NOT want to happen unless 100% necessary. Once the officer reports back, I act accordingly. Also, I'm in charge of responding to 911 calls. We get false alarms often, but we do get the occasional emergency, for which I either have to pull the alarm, call the duty officer, or call the Emergency Medical Team(the most frequently used).

So, on nights, once I've done my duties(laminating, embarking crew, being sure embarkations and disembarkations are in order for the next day, checking the car boards, answering phones, updating phone lists, etc etc etc) I'm allowed to kind of hang out. I can watch movies, play games, talk on the phone.. write my blog(like I'm doing right now)- all as lonnng as I can hear the fire panel and 911 phone.

It's been a great transition for me. I notice a smile on my face much more often. Though the sleep schedule is a little tricky, I havent missed a night's sleep yet(or a day's sleep as is the case when I work nights), and I LOVE seeing people during the day:) It's just nice.

I'm interested to see how I like the job in a few weeks. I'll only be working at Reception until December, but who knows. :)

Ps- for thsoe keeping track... T minus 15 weeks until I come home for vacation!!! Hooray!!!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Sweetest Moment Yet

One day, I went down to the dock to say bye to a few of my Gateway friends who were going home for vacation(though ended up coming back... that's another story though);) Once I got down to the dock, I realized that there was a very familiar face being held by a nurse friend of mine. One of my little guys from the ward- Jonathan was back for a post-op checkup. Now, I hadn't seen this little man since he left to go to the hope center, which I unfortunately never seem to get to, so I was VERY excited to see him. He grabbed on to me and didn't let go for quite some time.
As I took him back to the tent to give him back to his mom where she was waiting, another very familiar face came RUNNING out from the tent and gave me a big old hug. We need some backstory....

In March, I helped out with the surgical screening, which I wrote about after it happened. There was a little boy who was about 5 years old there with a cleft lip. His little brother was 1 and to die for as well. I ended up waiting for quite some time with them as they waited to be screened, then given an appointment card, and put into the system. I wrote down that they'd be coming to the ship on August 22, and when I was down on the dock, I knew in the back of my mind that it was indeed the 22nd, but I'd forgotten until I saw this smiling little boy running for me. It was by far one of the sweetest moments yet. He was so excited- as was his mom. His little brother was exhausted and not so excited, but you know.. that's to be expected. I got to spend time with this little man on the ward pre and post op and it was a joy to be with him. It was a little tough because he didn't speak English, but it was a great time all around:)