Archives for July 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sandy Toes

“You can shake the sand from your shoes, but it will never leave your soul.”
Author Unknown
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OR…your feet, legs, and other various (ahem)”places” it finds its way into! There’s not much I love more than having my toes in the sand, but getting it off myself at the end of a beach day seems near impossible! Until, I ran across this pin on Pinterest.
Why have I never heard of this simple little trick?
 Simply rub some baby powder on your skin, and the sand will rub right off!
I’m speechless…
Happy Tuesday, Sea~Shell
Thursday, July 24, 2014

One tequila, Two tequila, Three tequila…FLOOR

coronarita
It’s National Tequila Day, y’all!! It’s H O T here in the great state of Texas! In my opinion, nothing beats the heat like a great BIG frozen Patron Coronarita! What’s your favorite tequila cocktail?
 As always, please drink responsibly!
Cheers
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sweet, Juicy Pineapples

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Our family loves pineapples! I can’t help but sing the theme song to Sponge Bob Squarepants whenever I see one of these peculiar looking fruits. Picking a sweet, juicy pineapple from the grocery store…is a struggle. Especially after eating the most unbelievably delicious pineapples we had ever eaten, during our family trip to Maui last summer. There aren’t even words to explain how much better they taste in Hawaii. Its almost as if they are a completely different fruit than what we get here in the continental US. At the resort, we struck up a conversation about pineapples with another vacationer. He shared a very interesting tip with us. Although we can’t have fresh Maui pineapples here at home, this trick makes store bought pineapples a very close 2nd place!
The natural sugars settle to the bottom of the pineapples during shipment and while sitting on the grocery shelves. This method forces the natural sugars to trickle back down throughout the fruit, making it sweeter and very juicy. Who knew?! It’s so simple, and it really makes a big difference!
Start with a fresh, whole pineapple. Turn it on its side, and slice off the top. Then turn the pineapple upside down onto a plate, and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. We like to let ours “marinate” overnight. Then slice and enjoy!
 I found a few other interesting tips on The Huffington Post website. I have summarized a few of them below. Be sure to click on the above link to see their entire post.
The pineapples you get at your local grocery store or farmer’s market are as ripe as they will ever get. Once picked, they do not continue to ripen. Don’t leave a green pineapple out on the counter in hopes that it will ripen. You will end up with a spoiled fruit, trust me I know from experience! The green and brown color variations that you see, depends upon where the pineapple was grown. A green pineapple can be equally as sweet as a brown one (I try to choose pineapples that have a combination of both green and brown colored flesh). The sweetest part of the pineapple is the outer flesh, so when slicing off the outer skin, shave thinly. Don’t worry about those “brown eye” spots. They can be cut out in a shallow diagonal “v” cut to insure that you keep as much of that sweet outer surface as possible (see Huffington Post article for a photo demonstration). Pineapples kept at room temperature should be eaten within 2 days, and refrigerated pineapple will last about 1 week. Pineapple cores contain Bromelain, an enzyme that is an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, digestive aid, and also interferes with tumor growth. Take that, cancer! Fun fact…pineapples are a great meat tenderizer!
 I picked up this pineapple slicer/corer at Bed, Bath, & Beyond today for $20. I was curious after seeing a similar one on this same Huffington Post article. I prefer to slice it by hand, but I’m anxious to try this when I’m in a time crunch.
*** For those 21 and older…we like to drizzle a little Malibu Coconut Rum on sliced pineapple for parties or an adult beach snack! Please drink responsibly!***
Thank you for visiting!!
Friday, July 18, 2014

From a Cat to a Cowboy…A Caribbean Graduation Celebration

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2014 has been a big year for this momma! I turned 40 in March, and my oldest daughter graduated high school in June. In just 2 short weeks, I will load her up and take her to college. Where does the time go?? To celebrate this milestone event in her life, she invited Michael & I to tag along on her senior trip to Cancun with friends. We made lots of wonderful memories. It is definitely a time we will cherish forever!

We stayed at an All-inclusive beachfront resort, The Fiesta Americana Condessa Cancun. It was about a 15 minute ride from the airport, smack dab in the middle of the hotel zone, near the market area. It is located between the Nichupte Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. Upon check-in, we were greeted by a waiter who immediately brought us a welcome cocktail of our choice. We arrived a few hours before check-in, but our room was ready so we were able to settle in and head straight for the beach to meet the rest of the group who had arrived a few hours earlier. There are 3 Towers (Sun Tower, Sea Tower, and Moon Tower) with 4 different room options…Garden View, Lagoon View, Ocean View, and Ocean Front. There are also 4 types of suites available…Junior Suite, Master Suite, Governor Suite, and Presidential Suite. We had an “Ocean View” room in the Sun Tower. It was very clean and roomy. The rest of the group had booked a few weeks earlier than us so they were able to get the less expensive option, “Garden View” rooms, but were upgraded to “Ocean Front” rooms in the Sea Tower at check-in for a small up charge. So, if you’re planning on staying at this resort, you may want keep that in mind!! Book the cheap room and try for an upgrade when you get there! Some of the services available at the resort include free wifi, spa, fitness center, laundry services, room service, ATM machines, kids club, doctor on call, and facilities for the disabled. 

 

Lobby
Ocean View Room
Sun Tower
Sea Tower

 

Moon Tower

There are 4 restaurants on the property. The dress code is casual in all of them except for the Rosato Italian Restaurant, which requires pants for men, long skirt/dress for women, and no sandals for either. Children under the age of 5 are not allowed in this particular restaurant for dinner. We ate in all of the restaurants except for the Rosato Italian. Again, we are on a beach vacation and do not think it should be “required” to dress up to eat! All of the food was excellent. A fan favorite was the shrimp tacos at Cevicheria, an open air eatery near the pool. There are also a couple of small buffets set up around the pool at lunch time, which is nice. The service is outstanding. I would personally like to give a “shout out” to Victor! He went above and beyond to make sure we were well taken care of.

 

K’ambu poolside/beachfront restaurant

There are 2 very large pools. An upper level infinity pool spills over into a lower level beach pool (which is also connected to the kids pool). The lower level beach pool has a swim-up bar. There is wait staff for the pool and beach, assuring you always have a drink in hand. The popular drinks among our group were the Superman shooter and the Miami Vice frozen cocktail. There is plenty of seating around the pools, but shaded seating is very limited!! As with other all-inclusive resorts, you have to get up very early and go “stake your claim” if you would like a shaded lounge chair.  There are various daily activities and contests. Some of them are really fun. We participated in the paper airplane contest and Michael won!

 

infinity pool and beach pool

infinity pool
swim-up bar
poolside seating
beachfront massage palapa
Miami Vice

The beach is enormous! The sand is white and powdery, and the water is absolutely gorgeous. It is really rough though. The red flags were up the entire time. Perfect for some fun boogie boarding! There is a lifeguard on duty!

There definitely needs to be more beach seating in my opinion. That’s really the only complaint I have about this resort. I can sit by the pool at home. When I’m at the beach, that’s where I prefer to be!!

At night the pool bar closes down, and there is a small bar off the lobby. It appeared that they were expanding this bar area because there was a large section blocked off that was under construction. This is a good thing, because this bar was waaaay too small for the size of this resort!

We went into the market area at night. Tip…if you walk just outside the resort gates, you can catch the bus into town for $1. It was ideal for us because we had a large group. Or, the resort has taxi’s available. Senor Frogs was the first stop. It was a huge hit with the teenagers, not so much for the adults. This place was insanely crazy, and got increasingly crowded as the night went on! Loud music, the tequila was flowing, glow in the dark paint was slinging, and there was lots of dancing. Senor Frogs was definitely the place to be.

The second night we went to Margaritaville. This place was dead, it was kinda sad. But, we still had a good time!

 On the last night all the teenagers did the party hopper bus. It was $75 and took them on a 6 hour bar hop to Senor Frogs, Congo Bar, and Coco Bongo. They loved it!

Half of our group went scuba diving. 2 were already certified, but the others had to take a 2 hour class, available at the resort pool, before the dive. The boat ride to the reef was a bit rough, but they had a blast exploring!

My favorite part of the trip was swimming with dolphins at Dolphinaris. It was about 10 minutes from the resort, near the airport. The price includes full day admission to Wet ‘N Wild Water Park, which is connected to the dolphin park. The “dolphin swim program” lasts 60 minutes, 40 of which is spent in the pool. We were placed into groups of 10 or so. We each got one-on-one time with the dolphins, which included a hug, kiss, hand shake, and dolphin “ride”. Hang on to your swimsuits girls!! There is a photographer and videographer capturing the entire event, but the prices are outrageous! It is Mexico, so negotiate a deal.  It was such a great experience. Love these amazing creatures!

We had such a great time on this trip. I am so thankful for this one last “hurrah” with our girl before she begins this next chapter in life. I am so proud of the amazing young woman she has become. I’m sad to let her go, but excited to see what her future holds. Go POKES!

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Magen’s Bay Dreamin’

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I took this photo in Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas. It’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. This quote by Jaques Cousteau phrases it perfectly!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Consumer Report Warning for Spray-On Sunscreens

I’ve never been a fan of the spray-on sunscreen! Yes, its convenient. But, I don’t feel that it gives the same level of protection that a lotion sunscreen provides. I’ve witnessed many sunburns and partial sunburns due to spray-on mishaps. I cringe when I see people spraying their kids at the beach. Good Morning America reported this morning, that the FDA is calling for an investigation on the potential dangers of spray-on sunscreens. Of particular concern is the possibility that people might accidentally inhale the mist overspray, with the greatest risks affecting children. The FDA is advising that spray-ons not be used on children, for now, unless there is no other option available. Even then, spray it on your hands and rub it on, being careful on their faces near the eyes and mouth. Adult usage is fine, but they advise not to spray it on your face. If you choose to use it on yourself, be sure to apply properly and use enough, especially if its a windy day. Re-apply often. Tests show that spray-on sunscreens can be effective, but only with proper application!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fabulous Fortieth

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I celebrated my 40th birthday this year (sigh)! I must admit, it was a tough pill to swallow! But, I wasn’t going to allow that little (ahem…big) number faze me. So…I got even with the BIG 4-0 and celebrated fabulously in Cozumel, with my family and great friends. Definitely the best birthday gift I’ve ever received!

 

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, The Occidental Grand Cozumel. It is a beautiful resort on the southern end of the island, just 20 minutes from the airport. This resort is actually surrounded by a tropical mangrove, giving it an amazingly lush, jungle setting. The property is beautifully landscaped, and well maintained. There are free roaming tropical wildlife. We spotted iguana, javelinas, snakes, crabs, and various birds. It was March, so the weather was warm during the day and cool at night. It did rain a few times, but it passed quickly.

fountain along the pathway
crab next to the pathway
very interesting bud hanging from a tree

 

pathway between the villas

There are 6 restaurants, 4 bars, 3 swimming pools (including an adults only oasis), a fitness center, supervised kids club with activities, day and night time entertainment, and a spa on the property.

adult pool area

 

adult pool

 

bridge path from the main pool to the adult pool area

We stayed in a “Deluxe” room, which was the cheapest option. The room was a comfortable size and nicely decorated. We had our own private patio. There was a mini-fridge that was restocked daily with bottled water and sodas. The bathroom was large, with a separate shower and bathtub.

our villa

 

wild javelina outside our patio

Our friends stayed in the Royal Club, which houses the suites. The Royal Club has its own concierge, a restaurant, and a private pool and spa area.
Despite all the “pro’s” the resort has to offer, we did find a few “cons”. It was spring break and they were overbooked. Our friends traveling with us, were told their reservation could not be found in the system. After an hour of haggling, we got it worked out (thus the Royal Club upgrade). Apparently we weren’t the only ones with issues at check-in, because I spotted a few angry guests at the front desk throughout our stay. The commode in our room would not flush. We called maintenance several times to have the issue fixed. A toilet that does not flush + tropical humidity=disgusting!! There were, what appeared to be, rolling black out periods. The electricity went off daily at different time intervals. We ate breakfast in the dark the first day! A major “con” for us was no swim-up bar, and no wait staff for the pool and beach, which meant long lines at the very small pool bar. Would I choose this resort again?? Maybe? We will most likely try another resort next time.

The restaurants were good. We did not eat at all of them. A few of them have dress codes that include pants for the men, dresses/skirts for the women and closed toe shoes for everyone. That was kind of an inconvenience! We’re on vacation, the last thing we want to do is dress up to go eat! Breakfast is served buffet style in the La Posada restaurant. We ate lunch at the Beach Club & Bar which is near the pool/beach area. It is also buffet style and they grill burgers (very delicious, juicy burgers) and one other meat option daily. There is a small bar in the main pool area. Each day they feature a “drink of the day”. Our personal favorite was the “Scooby Doo”. All of the fruity cocktails are made with fresh fruit!!  If you tip them, they will make your cocktails extra strong! Be careful, or you will be the drunk girl barfing in front of everyone at the pool! I may or may not know that from experience?! I’ll let you be the judge of that!
There is a long bridge that takes you from the main resort area over to the pool/beach area. If you look closely, about half way across the bridge and to your right, there is an alligator and her hatchling in the water. The kids loved that!!

bridge from the adult pool to the main pool and beach area

The beach is located directly next to the main pool. There is covered seating available, although it is somewhat limited. I had to get up at 6am every morning and walk over to the beach to save us some chairs. If you would like a shaded lounger on the beach, take note or you won’t get one! See my previous post titled “reserved”.

grass umbrellas on the beach

 

the view from my chair

 

beach seating and lifeguard shack

The water is absolutely gorgeous! Very calm, crystal clear water!

Ahhhh!!

The sand is white and powdery! There are shells everywhere!! Here is our collection of favorites!

 

me in my happy place
Lucas

 

Daddy & Lucas

 

burying Kash

 

Rozi

 

Kash

There is a little cart set up on the beach where you can pick a pottery item and paint it right there on the beach. This was so relaxing and fun!! You paint it, and then they fire it in their kiln overnight. It is ready for you to pick up the next day. Our cost was around $10-$15 a person, but varies depending on the size.

our creations

We ventured into the downtown square a couple nights. It was about a 10 minute taxi ride from the resort. There are little shops and vendors set-up to purchase souvenirs, etc…We found a small tequila shop, Plaza Confetti, that offered us lots of free samples! It was excellent tequila. They had the most beautiful unique hand painted tequila bottles and shot glasses. We chose the Casa Corfadia 100% Agave Reposado Tequila and these 2 shot glasses.

There are many restaurants and bars downtown. We especially enjoyed The Thirsty Cougar ! They have the biggest frozen cocktails I have ever seen! Yummy too!! We had dinner at Casa Mission. It was delicious but, the margaritas were so strong we could not drink them! For dessert, we had the “sexy coffee”.

our sexy coffee mix master

Our favorite “find” of the trip was definitely Alberto’s Beach Bar ! It’s about a 15 minute walk, by beach, to the south of the resort. This restaurant is literally on the beach. Talk about fresh seafood! As you are sitting at your beach front table, their boat pulls ashore loaded with freshly caught seafood that they serve to your liking! We had the shrimp ceviche, fajitas, and quesadillas…all fabulous! Our cocktail of choice was the “Dirty Monkey”. They should call it the mind eraser because I don’t remember much after I drank mine! Alberto’s is absolutely a must while in Cozumel!

Our family is in love with this tropical paradise! My only regret is that we did not do the 3 reef snorkel tour. I will definitely be looking into it for our December cruise stop! We look forward to visiting again!

 

 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

R E S E R V E D!

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If you’ve ever been to an all-inclusive resort or on a cruise ship, you can relate to this! If not…here’s your “heads up”! In my experience, there is limited seating around the pool and on the beaches. Especially if you’re looking for seating that is shaded! Unless you wake up before the sun comes up, and head over to the beach or pool to stake your claim, you most likely will not get a lounge chair! But, there is a small problem! Everyone has the exact same towel. So…you are forced to leave a personal item, of some sort, in the chair along with your towel so that you know which “toweled” chair belongs to you! It’s not an ideal situation. I usually leave a sunscreen bottle or book. Most people will not bother your stuff, but I have had people move my property & steal my chair that I got up at the crack of dawn to reserve! N-O-T cool!! When I saw this beach towel on Pinterest, my first thought was “why didn’t I think of that?”, and my second thought was “I need this now!!”. I look forward to using this on our December cruise to the Mexican Riviera! It gets the point across for sure! Do you have a friend or family member that loves to cruise or travel to all-inclusives? This makes a great gift (you’re welcome)!! It is small enough to fit nicely into your luggage. Be sure save the packaging. It comes packaged in a zippered plastic bag, which is great if your towel is still wet and/or sandy when packing up your bag to go home! I found it on Amazon for around $35 (including tax & shipping). It ships really quickly. I received mine in less than a week with standard shipping. The link to purchase is below!