I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Yesterday it was two years ago that I stood on the most gorgeous beach I had ever been to and watched my beautiful daughter marry her wonderful husband. And so it was with much excitement and happiness that I got into my car yesterday, and took a little road trip; it was in preparation for my return to that gorgeous beach.

It was a wonderfully sunny day and I set out on the hour long trip to Point Roberts, just across the border from Tsawwassen to pick up two of four items that I ordered on Amazon this week for my upcoming trip back to the British Virgin Islands.

Many items that we as Canadians attempt to order online are from the USA and can not be delivered to Canada, for some strange unknown reason. Especially when ordering from Amazon.com. It's very frustrating. I have, in the past, had items shipped to a friend in Palm Springs when I knew he was headed up this way shortly. But that is inconvenient for him and he isn't making a trip here any time soon. So what to do? I recently ordered a sweat shirt for my son-in-law and had it shipped to my daughter's friend who has a cabin just across the border. But that won't work for things I want for me. To the rescue - a friend online who happened to notice my FaceBook post voicing my frustration. He recommended a service in Point Roberts, called The Letter Carrier, that accepts packages for a nominal $3 fee. And the important point is, it's not a post office box number as most USA orders won't send to one of those either.

On this trip I am picking up a waterproof bag to use at the beach. As I am traveling alone, I won't have anyone to watch my valuables when I go into the water. This small pouch (6"x5") is just the right size to hold my passport, credit card, and cash. The second item is a watertight case for my digital camera.

Since my last few snorkeling experiences were so amazing, I have decided I need to take underwater pictures. I looked into an underwater camera, but I would have to spend $250 - 300. Canon makes a really nice one for just under $300 but I really don't want to spend that right now and I already have a great little digital camera that takes really good pictures. So online I went to see what a watertight case for it would cost. The hard plastic fitted ones cost more than the underwater camera I liked, so that would never do. But in my search I found soft, ziplock-type, bag ones.

I found two that fit my camera. One was the Vivitar for $34.89 (just the case, not all the accessories pictured below) , and the other was the DiCAPac for 21.38. I ended up going with the DiCAPac, and I am now wishing I ordered the Vivitar. As you can see from the photos, the Vivitar has a pouch built into the bag that holds the camera in place; the DiCAPac doesn't which means that it is tricky to keep the camera in place inside the bag. It's also difficult to work the buttons on the top of the camera and I think the fitted bag would make that much easier.

I first did a watertight test with the bag, placing a wad of tissue inside and then submersing it in a kitchen sink full of water. Once I determined that it was indeed watertight, I then took a couple of pictures with the camera in the bag (but not submersed). At first I thought it wasn't going to work at all as the camera had a problem focusing and then shut down with a message on the screen 'Please turn off and try again'. I tried several times and got the same message, and one other that said something about focus malfunction. I then realized that I needed to insert a rubber ring that came with the case into the lens compartment on the inside. This extends the compartment so that the zoom lens on the camera can extend all the way out. Once I did that, the camera started up with no issues and the photos I took were of excellent quality. I can't wait to try it snorkeling. I will definitely be posting pictures on here once I do.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


My new glasses were waiting for me on my desk when I arrived at work on Tuesday morning.

I opened the package with some trepidation, half expecting them to be the wrong frames, the wrong prescription, broken... something wrong. Instead I found exactly what I ordered, all in one piece, and they fit great. Pretty much perfect in every way. I highly recommend Zenni Optical for a much cheaper alternative to spending hundreds of dollars at the optical store. Even if they don't fit, you can take them in to somewhere like Costco or your local optometrist and have them sized.

It is going to be so much better going to the beach now - I will be able to read and watch the boats in the distance without having to switch back and forth between prescription sunglasses and a cheap pair. It's also one less thing to have to pack.

Speaking of which, I am losing sleep these days over a couple of conundrums, one of which is how to carry a significant amount of money when one travels (which I will address in a future blog post) and the other - trying to determine whether or not I can manage with just carry-on luggage for my upcoming trip. I really want to do it and, if I do manage, it will be a first for me. One of the main reasons I don't want to check luggage is that I have so many connecting flights, I am really worried it might get lost. Also, it wouldn't hurt to save the $25 to check a bag; on three legs of my trip that would save me $75.

The biggest hurdle is toiletries. I have so many. I have always said that if I could only take three things to a deserted island it would be Timothy Dalton (or Tom Selleck, or Colin Firth, or George Clooney - I am not that fussed as to which one), a pillow, and my hair products (yes, yes, I know it's more than one product but it IS one category so I count it as one). Also, while we are on the topic - if I could only eat one food while I was there it would be potato if I could have them prepared in all the different ways with all of the corresponding condiments. I mean, is there a more versatile food on the planet?!?

So many of the products I use every day fall into the prohibited list for carry-on. As we all know by now, no gels, creams, or liquids in a container larger than 3oz can be carried onto the plane. And for Canadians, this can be really frustrating as most of our products are labeled in metric so what exactly is 3oz in metric? I had to look it up and here it is: 3oz is equal to 85grams or 88ml, because heaven help us all if the manufacturers could manage to use the same unit for measuring.

Here is a picture of what I would pack if I was checking my luggage. As you can see, it includes a large can of spider killer because I am terrified of spiders. And yes, it is a lot of stuff in large containers, but remember - I am gone for just over 6 weeks. Also, the bottles of shampoo and conditioner would be the regular size but I would only buy that size for a trip so don't have any on hand for the photo. I forgot to put in bug spray, my nail polish, top coat, and remover in this photo. A word about nail polish remover; I found a box of six individually wrapped felt pads that are soaked in remover but I bought the small bottle of liquid remover as I prefer it. After trying to fit everything into the small baggie, I may go back and buy the pads as they could go right into my suitcase.

I realize that with the money I save on checking a bag onto three legs (to Yuma, to St.Thomas, to home) will more than pay for new toiletries but because I have a week in Mexico before flying to the BVI for a month I would need to buy two sets of everything and I don't want to do that. So I am trying to take enough for both legs of my trip, although I probably will need to buy more of some items, like sunscreen, once in the Caribbean.

I went in search of small packages of what I want to take with me and it was a frustrating experience. I found LOADS of toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo & conditioner, But the hairspray was nowhere to be found and the nail polish remover, sunscreen, and mousse were much harder to find. I finally found all three at Wal Mart (although the nail polish remover was not with the small sized toiletries in the shampoo isle, but in makeup with the regular sized bottles). One thing I find really frustrating is that a lot of creams and lotions that are not packaged for travel but just standard product packaging are 3.3 ozs or 100ml. It would be nice if the manufacturers got on board with the restrictions and started to package these items in 3 ounce containers so we could take our usual products in our carry on instead of cheap alternatives that may not perform as well.

Now I have to try to fit all of my small liquids and gels into a single 1 quart baggie. I bought the GLAD ones, as they are actually 1 quart. The Ziploc ones are either too small or too big. So far I can't fit everything in. But I understand that the screeners are becoming a bit lax and so mascara, concealer, and deodorant don't have to be in the bag anymore. And I was thinking that, if I spread my stuff out between several of those grey bins, perhaps I could get away with two baggies? Worth a try? Oh... I have no idea what to do.

I guess one thing I will be doing is using a flip flop on any spiders.

Below are photos of what I am trying to carry-on and then what fits into the baggie and what is left over. There is no perfume in the picture as my 3oz bottle of Warm Vanilla Sugar is at work. But it won't fit either. (OH! And I just noticed there is no toothpaste in any of the pictures. BAH!!)

Because it may not be clear what is in the photo, here is a list from left to right:
eye cream, nail polish remover, contact lens solution, Lise Watier Metamorfix, OFF bug spray, Sally Hansen Insta-Dry top coat, sunscreen, nail polish, hair mousse, moisturizer x2, face cream, concealers (two shades - one for under eye, one for face), Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion, mascara.

****UPDATE**** Here is a great article I came across today about how the rules for liquids and gels unfairly targets women travelers.

Friday, February 11, 2011


My week of hiatus has been quite busy. Sunday evening I was at a birthday party for a good friend who is much much younger than I am. It was in a cozy restaurant in Vancouver, The Cascade Room, that had a cool glass wall at the entrance etched with the old motto 'Keep Calm and Carry On' that was posted around London during WWII. I was a bit puzzled by the place - the decor definitely leaned strongly towards a British theme, yet 'Cascade' is very B.C. Regardless of the owners theme confusion, it was a lovely way to spend the evening with an intimate group of 10 or 11. One couple there had recently written their first screenplay, which they then raised the money to produce. My birthday friend, Laura, worked on the show. And it turns out part of the funding came from one of the owners of Club Penguin, where my youngest works. Small world.

I honestly can't remember what I did on Monday, but I know it was something (oh I just remembered - I updated this blog with a new look and spent a couple of hours finding my son-in-law his birthday present on line - a travel hoodie by BURTON. I had never heard of such a thing before... they have an inside chest pocket perfectly sized for a passport, the neck contains an inflatable pillow, the hood has built in ear-plugs and a piece that pulls down over your eyes so you can sleep. Ingenious!! Rob flies several times a year for his new job so is really coveting one. They are all sold out in Canada and really hard to find, on line even. But I finally found and ordered one in his size and, since the company wouldn't ship to Canada, had it sent to a post office box in Point Roberts which is just across the border from Tsawwassen. The PO Box belongs to a friend of my daughter's so Rob should have the hoodie in time for his birthday. And since I know that neither of them read this blog, I am safe in telling you). Tuesday I headed into Yale Town to get my hair done, with a stop at the Dermatologist to get the sun spots burned off of my face with nitrogen. But she said that, at this point, lazer treatment would do a better job. At hundreds of dollars more, I don't think that will be happening any time soon. So I left looking the same way I arrived. Before my hair appointment I had lunch with my daughter, Ashleigh, as she works right in Yale Town. It was great to spend some time with her. After another great hair color and cut by Isolde (Izzy), my son's girlfriend (and yes, I pay her - I was taken advantage of far too often by friends and family alike when I was a hairdresser) I met up with Tana, my movie make-up friend who hired me to work in the 'glam' department last summer, to get caught up. She has a new man in her life, he lives in Florida and she met him while on a work trip to Montreal, and he sounds too good to be true. Does he have a brother? A young-ish uncle? Can we clone him? How about a good friend who is just like him??? All kidding aside, it would be wonderful to meet a man like he sounds to be. I am very happy for her. And we had a great meal with one of the best desserts ever, at the Hamilton Street Grill. If you live in Vancouver and ever go, make sure to leave room for the Warm Gingerbread Pudding. It's very filling so definitely a 'share'.

Wednesday I cut a friend's hair (no she didn't pay me in cash but she and her family have done so much for me so I won't let her pay me) and then came home and crunched numbers for my taxes all afternoon. Now I just need my T-4's and I can take it to my accountant and - hopefully - get a fat return so that I can get lots of dental work done on my trip to Mexico.

Yesterday (Thursday) I did a whole lot of nothing much, and rested up a bit for a huge party later that night. It was for the launch of a new production company, New Image Entertainment. Raugi, who plays janitor Dang in our show, gave anyone on the crew who wanted them VIP tickets. I had two. I tried to get first my son and then Tana to join me but Tana was ill and Christopher didn't get back to me. So I dressed up and headed down early to meet said son for a bite to eat and talk about an online journal/newsletter he is starting. It was great to spend a couple of hours with him and I asked him again to come to the party. He said he would need to go home and change and he was exhausted from working a lot on some projects he has going and he had to be up early the next day so he didn't come. When I got there, there was a line up to get in and once I was finally inside, the place was packed. I tried to check my coat but they were charging $3.50 and I had no cash on me. I went to use their ATM machine but it was out of cash so I had to carry the thing all night. I went straight up into the VIP area and wasn't there a minute when an actress I worked with on jPod grabbed me with a cry of, "Oh My God! I don't believe it's you!" I was really happy to see a familiar face and really happy to see her again. She's a lovely person and I enjoyed working with her. We chatted for a while and she introduced me to her boyfriend, another actor, who said if he had a dollar for every time he heard "jPod".... Well, it was a pretty great show to work on with absolutely wonderful people. I can't blame her for talking about it all of the time. I consider myself very blessed to have worked on it, and I have made life-long friendships with others who did.

The Main Floor Where the Riff-Raff Were (those without VIP passes); Raugi Yu and Me

Today I am going to lay pretty low again. Maybe go for a walk. Tomorrow I am back in Vancouver for brunch with the birthday girl I mentioned earlier, and one of her friends that I haven't met yet. Then the three of us are going to a play called August Osage County. It's supposed to be very good and I know at least one of the actors appearing in it, so am looking forward to it.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit anxious about the limited amount of free time I have before my trip and all I have to do for it before I go. One major thing I have to do is talk to a credit union here that offers re-loadable Visa cards. I don't have a very big limit on mine. I don't want to buy travelers cheques as they cost so much by the time you pay the fee to buy them and the fee to cash them. I don't want to be carrying a huge amount of cash - although I will have to for the first leg of the trip as the dental services in Mexico are strictly cash only. Apparently there isn't even a bank or an ATM to be found in Los Algodones. It's presenting a bit of a dilemma for me. Once in the BVI's I can go to an ATM and pull out cash but there's a limit on how much per day and I don't want to be having to go day after day to reach the amount I need for the hotels. And I don't even know if there is a bank on Anegada. So I am hoping that I can get this card, even though I don't have an account with them, and that it has no limit as to how much one can load on it, and that there is no issue with it being accepted everywhere. It's the only solution I can come up with at the moment.

I thought we were back at work on Monday to get a head start on the new banked episode, but I got the call sheet last night and we start on Tuesday. AND, as I knew would happen, my new glasses from Zenni Optical were attempted delivery yesterday. There was someone in the office Monday - Wednesday and I was hoping they'd come then or when we got back. It just figures they'd come one of the two days no one was there! (I have stuff I order online delivered there because I am never home to accept a parcel and then have to drive miles to pick it up at the depot on the weekend). Fortunately, Zenni doesn't use FedEx, because if they did, they would attempt delivery again the next day and then I'd be making that drive. They use a company that actually called me late in the day yesterday to ask what day would be convenient for them to come back with the package. WOW! So I told them Monday. Great. We don't start till Tuesday. BUT I just checked and someone will be there. YAY! I can't remember if I wrote about buying these glasses - I don't think I did -so I will do it now.

I have a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses that I bought about 12 years ago and I won't ever go back to non-polarized lenses but they don't come cheap; I paid $500 for them that long ago! Now that I am getting old (Bah!) I don't need my vision corrected for reading. I can see perfectly fine close up without lenses. (That's what happens to those of us who are far-sighted.) So when I am at the beach I have to take two pairs of sunglasses - my prescription ones for distance, and a cheap pair of drug store ones for reading. It's super annoying to have to keep changing back and forth, which I do a lot because I don't just bury myself in a book when at the beach like I do if I am indoors; I keep looking up to savour the location. So I have wanted graduated sunglasses for some time now. I recently went into my optometrist to price them, and they wanted $900 for polarized graduated lenses!!!!!! No way am I going to pay that. So I went online to Clearly Contacts, a company my friend uses and raves about the prices. But I found that they don't sell graduated sunglasses with polarized lenses. I was fed up. Then I decided to do an internet search and I found Zenni. Not only do they sell the lenses I want, but they have large frames - which I really want, to keep out as much sun as possible as my eyes have gotten a LOT more sensitive lately. I filled out the order and hit the button that would complete it and give me the total price. My eyes nearly fell out of my head. With shipping, $108.58!!! I felt that, at that price, I was taking a bit of a risk that they might be total crap. I read their terms before I ordered and wasn't reassured much when they said they do not guarantee anything; there's no money back, not even if they get lost in the mail. Clearly Contacts has a fabulous return policy, so I couldn't help but feel a bit apprehensive. But I decided that the small amount of money involved was worth the risk, and I ordered them. The next day, a trifle late, I decided to search the internet for any Zenni reviews. There's lots - a bunch on YouTube, and they are all favourable. So I am really looking forward to getting them when I go to work on Tuesday.

Monday, February 7, 2011


So I have spent the last day and a half putting together this new look for my blog. I love it.

Let me know what you think. If you have trouble reading some of the text due to the color of the font, let me know and I will darken it a bit, but I am really loving these color combos.

It all says CARIBBEAN to me!!

Here is a great website I found that helped me immensely as well as provided the background for free: The Cutest Blog on the Block

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I feel guilty that I haven't posted a whole lot on here lately. I see my readership drop off and I know that I am losing people every day. It's hard to know what to write about when all I am doing is working.

It's been a lot of fun though... the working thing. Such a great show; lots of laughs and really great people. I am sad when I see the number of binders (containing the lined script and my notes) lined up on the shelf near my desk at the office, each one representing a completed episode. We are off on haitus this week and when we return next week we start episode 118. How did it go by so fast? With one more week of hiatus in March, that leaves only 8 weeks before we wrap the show on April 15th. We are all hoping to hear, sooner than later, that we are coming back in July for season two.

So what to do in the two months off between April 15th and (hopefully) coming back in July? I could try to get on a couple of MOW's (movies of the week). But then life is all about work, work, work. And what do we work for if not to be able to follow our passions in our free time? My passions are my kids (who are all grown up and don't really want mom around all the time any more), my faith, writing, and travel. As you know I have been longing to get back to the Caribbean since I was there for my daughter's wedding in February 2009; I can't believe they've been married two years next weekend! But then - I can because it seems like a lifetime ago since I was in the beautiful British Virgin Islands. How I miss that place.

SO... SO.... I AM GOING BACK!!!!!!!! YIPPEEEE!!!!!!!

Just this past week, I booked a flight (FABULOUS price on Ticket Pilot - ended up being $860 including taxes!!!), one night on Tortola at Beef Island Guesthouse in beautiful Trellis Bay (I arrive too late for the ferry to Anegada), a 17 night stay at Neptune's Treasure on Anegada, a 9 night stay at Sebastian's On The Beach on Tortola, and one night on St. Thomas for the early flight home the following morning.

I arrive on Tortola to start my stay on my BIRTHDAY, April 28th. Best birthday present to myself ever ever ever.

Before I head to the BVI though, I am flying to Yuma Arizona where I will take a taxi to the Mexican border and walk across to the small town of Los Algodones, spend a week at a B&B, and get some much needed dental work done. I have wanted to do this for years. I hate the dentist; I have a very deep seated terror due to growing up in England where the dentistry hadn't changed much in 200 years (or so it felt like) and one dentist slapped me across the face when he was done (I was 6) for being the 'worst patient he had ever dealt with'. So I haven't been in the past 20 years or so, I only go when in a lot of pain. I have a few teeth that need fillings; I'd like to have the mercury fillings replaced with porcelain; I need some bridges; and I want some veneers on the top front teeth. I plan on using this year's tax return to pay for the work, so I will see how much I get back and how much the estimate is. But I have high hopes that I will be able to get most of it done as the prices are 70 - 75% LESS than here in Canada. I have spent the last year researching getting dental work done in Mexico and there are highly qualified dentists that cater to the US and Canadian people and we actually account for most, if not all in some cases, of their business. I have every confidence in the clinic I finally decided on, TLC Dental. I just hope I can behave in the chair and they don't feel like slapping me.

So ... this blog is about to get a whole lot more interesting in the months to come. I hope you all stay with me, and a heartfelt thank you to those of you who have. I appreciate each reader and I LOVE getting feed back.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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Here's my Amazon Store called Sandra's Selections, full of my favourite things and constantly updating it as I discover more fav's. It's more for fun than anything as I've never made a cent off of it.