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Nautical baby shower

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Blessie & Mike’s Wedding

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REVIEW: Holiday Inn Express, Cambridge MA

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MASTAY DETAILS
December 25-26, 2013
1 king guestroom
Rate: $72/night at Hotwire.com
pstar-onpstar-onpstar-onpstar-onpstar-off

I would recommend Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA for proximity to stores and the MBTA (Boston’s transit system), and value.

We booked the hotel via Hotwire without knowing the hotel name before booking. The total cost at Hotwire came up to $91.41 / night. It was listed as a 3-star hotel in the Charlestown area for Boston hotels and recommended by 95% of Hotwire guests. The amenities were:

  • Free Parking
  • Free Breakfast
  • Free Internet
  • Business Center
  • Internet access
  • Accessible for the blind
  • Accessible for the deaf
  • Accessible path of travel
  • In-room accessibility

LOCATION
The location was very convenient.  It was 4 blocks away from the Lechmere station of the MBTA Green Line (see pink).  You probably won’t even need a car if you’re visiting within metro Boston.

MBTA map

There was a shopping center on the next block that includes Shaw’s supermarket, Rite Aid pharmacy, Dollar Tree and McDonald’s.  CambridgeSide Galleria (mall) was 5 blocks away, Museum of Science and Boston Duck Tours were 6 blocks away and Target was 4 blocks away.

PREMISES
The lobby was modern, clean and smelled like White Citrus of Bath and Body Works.

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA

The room hallways tho smelled a little less pleasing.

8th floor hallway Elevator

The lobby wasn’t large, but sufficient.  There was a door leading to the entrance of the parking lot which was very helpful when dropping off or picking up guests.  It is not a resort so there was really no outdoor space besides the parking lot and it was right by the road.

Lobby

I find it a little weird that they didn’t have ice machines on every floor.  They only had them on floors 3, 5 and 7.

STAFF
We arrived at the hotel around 6:00 PM on Christmas day.  My husband dropped me off to check in.  There was no one at the desk.  There was no bell so I decided to call the desk after more than 10 minutes waiting for someone to appear.  Two ladies came in from outside and one said “She didn’t see me.”  That was not true, coz she was smoking outside by the parking lot entrance where my husband dropped me off.

The front desk staff was honest.  We left our laptop on the counter and they kept it until we remembered to get it.

Around 7:00 AM the morning after, I had to call housekeeping for soap coz I dropped the one we had in the toilet.  I was told by front desk that housekeeping doesn’t come in until 8:00 AM.  For a hotel that caters to business travelers that usually start the day very early, this was a little disappointing.

ROOM
We were given room 810 on the top floor (8th floor).  It was just two rooms away from the elevators which was nice.  It was decorated nicely with modern furniture and amenities.  We had a view of residential houses and buildings.

Bed was comfortable and I didn’t have trouble with sleep. We were provided with 2 firm pillows and 2 soft pillows. One of the firm pillows did seem softer than the others. I usually don’t like firm pillows, they give me neck pain. But I didn’t experience this with their pillows.

King guestroom 810

King guestroom 810

King guestroom 810

The room had great features like the little reading lights by the bed and portable table by the chair.

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

There were a lot of electric outlets perfect for the business traveler, but I was disappointed they didn’t have USB outlets.

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

The desk was movable and can double as a dining table.

King guestroom 810

There was a fridge and microwave, and a nice big mirror.

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

Closet was a little small.

King guestroom 810

The climate control system worked good.  It made a little noise, but it was low enough for it not to be bothersome.

King guestroom 810
King guestroom 810

Housekeeping didn’t do a great job cleaning the room.  I found straw cover and another object I can’t identify on the floor.

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

There was also a red stain on the sofa.  It didn’t look like blood.

King guestroom 810

The emergency evacuation map was wrong.

King guestroom 810

The bathroom was on the small side.  Toiletries were provided by Bath and Body Works with the White Citrus scent.

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

King guestroom 810 King guestroom 810

The shower head was nice, but it had lime deposits.

King guestroom 810

Bathroom sink drain cover wasn’t working properly. I had to take it out for water to drain.

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AMENITIES
Internet
Internet was complimentary.  Password was provided at check-in.  Connection was slow (left).  My cellphone’s LTE connection was faster (right).

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA

At one point at night, connection was so limited I could barely do anything.

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA

Breakfast
The hotel offered complimentary breakfast M-F 6am-10am, Sa-Su 7am-11am.  It was more than the usual continental breakfast I’ve experienced in 3-star hotels.  The breakfast area was very clean.

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast area

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast area

There were automatic made-to-order pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelette, hard-boiled eggs, sausage patties, oatmeal, muffins, toasts, bagels, rolls, fruits, cereals, yogurt, milk, juices, coffee.  Orange juice was bland.

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

The hot food appeared to have been bought pre-packaged.

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA breakfast

MY RATING: pstar-onpstar-onpstar-onpstar-onpstar-off

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AT&T or T-Mobile

AT&T vs T-Mobile

I have been contemplating whether to stay with AT&T or switch to T-Mobile, both using GSM networks and available in my area.  I don’t mind being in a 2-year contract as I usually don’t switch wireless communication carriers in a short period of time.  The only factors that may affect my decision are COST and DATA SPEED.  I tested data speed at home, in our basement, at two workplaces in NYC, and the data speeds between the two wireless carriers seemed comparable.  So I’m down to COST.  Armed with a calculator, I started crunching the numbers…

For the comparison, I chose similar plans with three lines that I would choose for my family, and added iPhone 5s (what I use now) for each line.  Based on my calculations, we will be spending at least $602.77 more with AT&T than T-Mobile in two years excluding any discounts from work.  In one year, we will be spending at least $573.69 more with AT&T.  The only case where we will be spending less with AT&T is if we are on AT&T for less than 3 months.

The numbers clearly show that T-Mobile is the better choice.  In addition, there are a few more perks included with the T-Mobile plan like unlimited data albeit slower after a certain data allowance, tethering, and international data and text in 100+ countries.  And we love to travel!

Click image below to view my detailed comparisonWireless Plans Compared

Data is current as of 1/12/14. PDF copies of cost are available: AT&T Next12, AT&T 2-Yr Contract, T-Mobile Installment, T-Mobile One-Time.

REVIEW: Joe’s Crab Shack

JOE’S CRAB SHACK
Seafood in Westbury, NY (Long Island)
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I usually don’t review big food chain restaurants, but since this was our first time eating at Joe’s Crab Shack, I decided to review it anyway.  The restaurant in Westbury, NY is new.  It was very clean and staff were very eager to please.  Service was pretty quick and our server Nikki was friendly.  In the middle of our meal, the disco light went on and the staff gave us a dance performance.  I didn’t feel the staff enjoyed doing it very much.

Joe's Crab Shack Westbury NY

Joe's Crab Shack

APPETIZER:

star-onstar-onstar-onstar-onstar-off Classic Sampler $11.99
The sampler came with nachos with crab dip, great balls of fire and fried calamari.  They were all very good.  The balls of fire could have been a little more crispy, but it was still very good and it was my favorite of the three.

Classic Sampler $11.99

ENTREE:

star-onstar-onstar-onstar-offstar-off The Bean Town Bake $42.99
The Bean Town Bake had 2 whole lobsters, clams, shrimps, 1 smoked sausage, 1 corn.  It’s supposed to be shared between 2 people, but we found it strange that it only had 1 smoked sausage and 1 corn.  The seasoning was concentrated on the top and didn’t really penetrate most of the food coz of their shells.  It was a little bland.  The lobster was overcooked.

The Bean Town Bake $42.99

I love the pick that has “Stolen from Joe’s Crab Shack” written on it.  I of course stole it :D .

Joe's Crab Shack

DESSERT:

star-onstar-onstar-onstar-halfstar-off Sea Turtle Sundae $7.79
The sundae was good, the nuts were a good touch.  But it was too small for the price.

Sea Turtle Sundae $7.79

Author is not a food connoisseur and does not work in the food industry.

Iceland road trip plans for March 2014

Day 1, March 4

pstar-on Arrive at Keflavik International Airport at 6:45 AM.

pstar-on Pick up rental car and drive to Hilton Reykjavik Nordica for about 40 mins to check in and eat brunch.

Image from Hilton

Image from Hilton

 

pstar-on After lunch, drive to Blue Lagoon ($27 pp entrance fee with swimming) for about 46 mins.  Don’t forget bathing suits!

Image from Amazing Buzz

Image from Amazing Buzz

 

pstar-on Around 4:00 PM, drive back towards Reykjavik and stop by The Perlan for a nice view of Reykjavik and possibly dinner.

Image from Seattle's Travels

Image from Seattle’s Travels

Image from Tripadvisor

Image from Tripadvisor

 

pstar-on Head back to Hilton for the night, just 7 mins away.

pstar-on [Optional] Pick up at Hilton by Iceland Excursions at around 8:30 PM for a Northern Lights hunt tour ($47 pp).

Image from Iceland Excursions

Image from Iceland Excursions

 

Day 2, March 5

pstar-on Leave at 7:30 AM for Thingvellir National Park, about a 40-min drive.

Image from Sceneriies.com

Image from Sceneriies.com

 

pstar-on Leave for Gullfoss Waterfall at 9:30 AM, about 55-min drive.

Image from Walltor

Image from Walltor

 

pstar-on Leave for Geysir at 11:30 AM, about 11-min drive.  Lunch at Geysir.

Image by Julien Fumard

Image by Julien Fumard

 

pstar-on Leave for Seljalandsfoss Waterfall at 1:00 PM, about 78-min drive.

Image by Ross Ollom

Image by Ross Ollom

Image from all-that-is-interesting.com

Image from all-that-is-interesting.com

 

pstar-on Leave for Skogafoss Waterfall at 3:30 PM, about 23-min drive.

Image from Voyages Jules Verne

Image from Voyages Jules Verne

 

pstar-on Leave for Vik at 4:30 PM, about 26-min drive. Hike around the area for photos of Dyrholaey, Reynisdrangar, Halsanefshellir and black sand beach. Possible dinner at Strondin Bistro and Bar.

Image by Ross Ollom

Image by Ross Ollom

Image from Rough Guides

Image from Rough Guides

Image by orvaratti via Iceland on Tumblr

Image by orvaratti via Iceland on Tumblr

 

pstar-on Leave for Skogar Guesthouse at 7:00 PM or later for the night.

Image from Skogar Guesthouse

Image from Skogar Guesthouse

Day 3, March 6

pstar-on Leave at 5:00 AM for Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon to catch the sunrise at 8:18 AM, about 160-min drive.

Image from Laekjarhus

Image from Laekjarhus

Image by Ivan Meljac from Bing

Image by Ivan Meljac from Bing

Image by Saleh AlRashaid

Image by Saleh AlRashaid

 

pstar-on Leave at 10:00 AM for a 4-hr drive to Hveragerdi and hike to Reykjadalur Valley.  Bring bathing suit for a dip at the geothermal spring.

Image from Iceland for 90 days

Image from Iceland for 90 days

 

pstar-on Head back to Hilton at 6:00 PM, about a 35-min drive.

 

Day 4, March 7

pstar-on Visit downtown Reykjavik in the morning, then possibly lunch in the area.

Image from Beers & Beans

Image from Beers & Beans

 

pstar-on Return car rental at Keflavik International airport, then depart for New York at 5:05 PM.

 

Saks 5th Ave Bridal Sample Sale – NYC

Saks 5th Ave Bridal Sample Sale
December 5-6, 2013

Saks Wedding Sample Sale

Click here to see all upcoming events. To submit an event, click here.

Shop Cyber Monday deals at Amazon!

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Christmas Tree Cutting 2012

It was a gloomy day. But it didn’t hamper our mood for our favorite holiday. We set out to Long Island, drove an hour and a half and arrived at Carter Christmas Tree Farm to cut our Christmas tree.  This post is almost a year late, but since Christmas is coming soon, I thought I should about the farm. I thought the farm was beautiful and worth posting.

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