The Simple Things

The world is really a messed up place right now.

Ebola.  ISIS.  School shootings.

If we think too much about it life can get overwhelming.  We need to stop and think each day about the simple things in life that we are thankful for and make us happy.

I stress a lot about saving money, but yesterday this was put into perspective.  I was at the doctor’s office in the waiting room (waiting for my primary care doctor who is always running one hour behind, even at 8:30am) and a young man at the counter was uncomfortable when he was told he had a $10 co-pay and owed $10 from the last visit.  He asked if he had to pay today and when the receptionist said yes, he hesitantly handed over a bank card and told her he wasn’t sure how much money was in his checking account.  This made me step back and realize I am lucky that I do not need to worry about paying for my medical bills.

Here are some simple things that make me happy right now:

1. Today is Friday which means it’s pizza and cocktail night with my husband.

2. To make it an even better Friday, the Dodgers are playing game 1 of the playoffs tonite.

3. Even though I have a horrendous drive to and from work each day, it is very pretty this time of year with views of the changing leaves, the Potomac river, Georgetown and the Washington DC monuments.

4. This picture that I printed and framed for my family room.  Love the red umbrella.

Eiffel tower view from the street of Paris

What simple things make you happy today?

5 Food Trends that Should Die

Food trends come and go.  Here are five food trends I hope go the way of the pet rock very soon.

hamburger witih egg

1. Kale – Coating it in butter or oil to break down the texture (think kale chips), which most people do, really ruins the point of eating kale.

2. Quinoa – Does anyone really like quinoa?  Most people don’t even know how to pronounce it correctly.  I’ll stick with brown rice, thank you.

3. Egg on top – I like eggs, but not on top of anything.  I don’t even like watching someone else eat something, like a burger, with an egg put on top of it. It’s just wrong.

4. Small plates – I want a reasonable sized plate of food in a restaurant…not 6 or 8 “small plates” that add up to costing fortune.  Plus, how do you know how many plates to order and they tend to come out of the kitchen at random times.

5. Bacon with everything – I like bacon, but since I gave up eating mammals and birds I don’t want bacon thrown in everything because now I sound picky asking restaurants to “hold the bacon”.  Even when I was eating bacon, I still did not want it on my donut or mixed with ice cream.

What did I miss?

Open Water

What is it like to be driven in a boat for two hours 40 miles off the coast of Australia into open water and be told to jump in?  For me, terrifying!  I always freak out a little when I get in the water off a boat to snorkel.  When we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (years ago on our honeymoon) the first thing I saw when I got into the water and my finally got my breathing relaxed was a reef shark.  Yikes!  I looked all around and couldn’t see anybody else because we went with a small boat of only about 6 people and they had all already swam off in different directions.  I think the shark was as scared as I was though and swam away to hide from me.

My snorkel man had no problem though.
snokel man
A few years before this trip a couple was left behind by a dive boat and the story inspired the movie Open Water.  Luckily this was still fresh in everyone’s mind and there were multiple counts of people before boats would leave so I am here to tell you about our trip rather than you hearing about it in a movie.

Restaurant Quality Guacamole

Add avocado to any food and it is called “California style”.  I may have grown up in southern California, but I never really liked avocados or guacamole…until I had the guacamole at a restaurant called Rosa Mexicano in Washington, DC.

I started making guacamole at home using Rosa Mexicano’s recipe and it is just as good as in the restaurant! I get annoyed when I see recipes that are supposed to be from a restaurant, but then do not turn out anything like the restaurant version.  To make it even more authentic, and how it is prepared in the restaurant, use a molcajete.


Store bought chips do not do this guacamole justice.  Make homemade chips by cutting up corn tortillas into wedges, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with a little salt and then bake until crispy.

This guacamole pairs perfectly with The Perfect Margarita.

Springing Forward

Spring is my favorite season.  I love watching the trees and flowers bloom and come back to life after the winter.  I find it amazing that they do this year after year.

The cherry blossoms are particularly beautiful in this area.  I have been to the cherry blossom festival in Washington DC, however there are plenty of trees right by my house that are stunning without needing to fight the festival crowds.

cherry blossoms

Each fall I think about planting bulbs that will bloom in the spring and I finally did it this past fall.  I planted close to 100 bulbs of varying types that bloom at different times to give me “color all season long”.


The bulbs needed the ground to be frozen for 4 to 6 weeks.  Check!  No problem there.  My only other possible obstacle is the deer.  My husband is convinced the deer already dug up the bulbs and ate them.  I don’t believe this though.  Some of the bulbs were labeled “deer resistant” and some were not.  I think the deer are going to be kind to me and I am confident my yard is going to have an explosion of color this spring.

What is your favorite thing about spring?

The Winter Blues

When is this winter going to be over? It’s been long and cold with much more snow and ice than normal. Every week there seems to be something…ice, snow, extreme cold…maybe some of each. I tend to go into a funk in the winter, but something about the calendar turning from February to March gives me a spring in my step thinking winter is almost over.

Instead I woke up to this today.


Winter is supposed to come “in like a lion and out like a lamb”, but this is no lamb.

My Oscar Dress

If I were a celebrity going to the Oscars, I would choose something elegant, but with a touch of sass.  I don’t understand celebrities who don’t look good on the red carpet.  They have so many choices that when they pick an awful dress, they must be doing it on purpose to try to stand out.

I don’t really care about who wins any of the awards, I just like seeing what the women are wearing.  My favorite actress lately is Jennifer Lawrence, so although I’m not loving her short hair, I still want to see what she is wearing!

What is your favorite part of the Oscars?

The 7 Beaches of Caneel Bay

Staying at Caneel Bay on the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands is like staying at seven different resorts all in one since there are seven beaches on the resort’s 170 acres, and an eighth beach also within walking distance.  Each beach is wonderful, but a little different.

1. Turtle Bay Beach

This beach is my favorite, especially early in the morning.  None of the beaches get really crowded, but I like getting here early when nobody else is there.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

There is good snorkeling and swimming for Chris.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

And I like watching the boats go by.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

2. Scott Beach

Scott is my second favorite and I like it in the afternoon when the sun is shining on this side of the resort.  Although I have never had issues with kids at Caneel, Scott is one of two adults only beaches at Caneel.  We have never snorkeled at this beach, but apparently there is sea grass that attracts sea turtles.  Most of Caneel’s beaches do not have any services (drinks, towels, etc) however I have seen a waiter come to Turtle in the afternoon and Scott has a supply of towels and a small stand where you can get drinks made during certain times.

Scott is the longest of the beaches at Caneel.  Here is it as seen from the water.

Scott Beach St. John

And as seen from land.

Scott Beach St. John

 Scott Beach St. John

3. Hawksnest Beach

Chris loves this beach.  The sun shines on this beach in the early part of the day and by late afternoon is completely shaded.  The water is very warm and Chris likes to end the day here with his chair pulled into the water.  There is good snorkeling here and nice views of other beaches that are not part of Caneel.

Hawsknest St. John

Hawksnest Caneel Bay

Hawsknest Caneel Bay

4. Honeymoon Beach

Ahh, Honeymoon.  This beach is breath taking it’s so beautiful.  It requires a short hike to get to it so it’s not as convenient to get to, but it’s worth the walk.  Snorkel boats also show up in the afternoon so it’s best to get here in the morning.  This is also the only beach that does not have rooms on it.  A stand was somewhat recently opened that rents chairs, water sports equipment and you can order food from Caneel.  I like this beach less since the stand opened, but it is still beautiful.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

Here is the view of Honeymoon from our room.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

And the view of our room (in the distance) from Honeymoon.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

5. Paradise Beach

This beach is also adults only and only has a couple of rooms near it.  It is the perfect beach for a quiet sunset and it is quite small so usually there are only a few people on it.  The downside here is that there were a lot of sea urchins in the water when we were there so we had to be careful.

Paradise Beach Caneel Bay

6. Caneel Beach

This is the main beach where the boats dock and is next to the front desk, water sports desk, restaurant, bar, etc.  It is probably the most “crowded” but still isn’t crowded.  Non Caneel guests can also use this beach.  Families with small children tend to stay here for the convenience of being near everything.

Caneel Bay

7. Little Caneel Beach

This a really small beach that is really only used by people staying in the rooms on the beach.  Again, this one is close to all the facilities and great for families with small kids.

Little Caneel

All the beaches are great, but if I had to pick, I would spend the morning at Turtle and the afternoon at Scott.  The variety of beaches is one of the reasons we love Caneel so much.

Heart Shaped Box of Chocolates

HeartValentine’s Day is synonymous to a big heart shaped box of chocolates to me.  My birthday is just after Valentine’s Day so when I was a kid my mom would buy me a huge box of candy because it would go on sale the day after Valentine’s Day.  The first Valentine’s Day with my husband he brought me a box of Teuscher champagne truffles, which are made with Dom Perignon champagne, and have been my favorite chocolates ever since.  I loved these so much that I sat on my bed and ate the entire box the same day.  He still likes to tease me about this.

Whatever Valentine’s Day means to you, I hope it is a happy day.

Charming Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is one of those cities I would have never visited if it were not for my husband wanting to go there.  I was skeptical going there, but Charleston was a hit!

We stayed at Charleston Place which was all done up for Christmas.

Charleston Place

The lobby, bar and common areas were wonderful, however we did not care for the room because it felt tired and dated.  We loved the bar because it was a combination of locals and tourists and the restaurant, Charleston Grill, served us one of the best meals we have ever had…and we have eaten at 3 star Michelin restaurants.  We had the chef’s tasting menu so each course was a surprise and every bit was delicious.  They were kind enough to let us split one wine pairing between us since we wanted to enjoy the food and not get too drunk.

One day we just walked around the city.  My favorite part was looking at the houses that were in immaculate condition.  I could see myself sitting on one of those porches with family and friends sipping some sweet tea or cocktails.  I could see my husband spending all his free time working on the house.

charleston houses

Visiting plantations is one of my favorite activities in southern towns.  I normally do extreme amounts of research before going on trips, but with this trip I was, “going with the flow” and did not do any research.  It would have actually helped for this day though because when we got the plantation, it turned out it did not have a plantation house because it had been destroyed.  There were extensive gardens, however not much was in bloom.

Charleston Plantation

Our last day was spent exploring one of the nearby islands. This trip was in late November, so it was not beach weather, but we still had a nice walk on the beach. It was a cute little beach town that I imagine would be a blast in the summer.

We had a great time in Charleston and found it to be a quintessential southern city.

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