Viva Mexico! (Part 3)

As they say, “All good things must come to an end.” This unfortunately held true for vacation. Good news the last day ended on a very high note. In the morning we went swimming with dolphins. We got to pet them, dance with them, give them a smooch, smile with them and go for a ride with them (they stuck their mouths at the balls of our feet and swam; it was so neat). We had a blast!

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After swimming with the dolphins we went to Playa del Carmen beach with the two sisters we met. It was a gorgeous last day on the beach and the water was a perfect temperature.

Statue on Playa del Carmen

We stopped in one of the many Senor Frogs so that one fo the sister’s could get a drink.

Me and Zack Senor Frog

Me and Laurie Senor Frog

Zack and the ladies

I saw these funny signs on the wall

Sign 2 Senor Frog       Sign 1 at Senor Frog

We even saw a fish weighing contest. I’m not sure how it works, but my guess is everyone goes out and brings back their catch of the day. It took a good ten minutes before they got the marlin up to weigh it. Pretty certain that the fish weighed more than the four of us together.

Marlin on Playa del Carmen

We ended the day with dinner at the seafood restaurant, a view, and then drinks with friends.

Sunset last night

It was a fantastic vacation (and much needed). I can’t wait for the next one! 🙂

Beach love

 

Viva Mexico (Part 2)

When we left off yesterday I was in Mexico with the boy enjoying a wonderful, relaxing, much-needed vacation. In planning the trip I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that had a pool and a beach where I could lay around and do nothing. What I didn’t realize is that I’m not good at sitting around doing nothing. Sure, I get in the occasional slump with my workouts, but I always feel better when I’m moving. I think I get it from my dad. Any time we’ve gone on a beach vacation he is not able to sit still. Turns out, I’m not good at it either. The good news is, I wasn’t alone. The boy was more than happy to not stay on the resort or just sit by the pool.

On Tuesday morning we got up, had breakfast and then headed to Cozumel for the day. Cozumel was just a quick 25 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. When we arrived we met a couple who happened to be staying at our same resort. They had been to Cozumel before and recommended we rent a vespa for the day to see the island. Boy were they right! I’ll admit I was completely out of my comfort zone on the vespa, and was sure at one point that we were going to get hit by one of the many crazy drivers on the road. The good news is that after we were about a mile out-of-town there was a separate road for bikes and vespas. I had confidence that we were going to be fine, because the boy owns a motorcycle. I swore I would never get on one, and after riding the vespa I still never will. The good news is we survived.

During our ride we stopped at a little bar along the way to lunch and look what I found, a terrible towel.

Steelers in Mexico

I felt right at home! After a pit stop we continued to cruise the island. The views of the ocean were incredible The sky was bright blue and the water was incredible shades of blue and green.

A view from the top

For lunch we ate at a little bar at the top of a hill/cliff. The views were also incredible

Lunch view in Cozumel

After a wonderful day at Cozumel it was time to head back to the resort and enjoy a relaxing evening

Cozumel

After a crazy exhausting, but fun day at Cozumel I felt like I could give the whole sit at the pool or beach a try. The resort didn’t have a real beach, but they had this area with sand, some ocean and lounge chairs & beach beds. It was pretty!

Beach day at the resortI took my iPad with me to read. I was good for part of the day and then started to get antsy. Good news was we ended up meeting two women who were sister’s who had just arrived to the resort. We were having so much fun that the boy and I invited them along for dinner. We had a blast!

Me and Laurie Zack and Julie

On Thursday the boy went diving for the day. I hung out at the “beach” for a little before meeting up with the sister’s and the couple we hung out with in Cozumel. It was a great day of hanging out in the sun. Later that night was spent enjoying dinner and a few drinks with friends.

On Friday we hung out by the pool and met some really sweet people from England. We spent the day hanging and drinking with them and had a blast. It really was a good day! I couldn’t believe our trip was almost coming to an end. I was so bummed. I could easily stay for another week, but was also ready to come back to Austin (not work, but my own bed).

Saturday I did something that I had been wanting to do for years – swim with dolphins! Which, I think this a great place to stop. I’ll share pictures of my last day on vacation and my final thoughts on my wonderful vacation!

Viva Mexico! (Part 1)

It has been 12 years since I went on vacation. 12. Years. I’ve taken a lot of trips over those 12 years to visit my family or a quick weekend to see girlfriends who live in RI or for work. It has been 12 years since I went on my last, until now. The Sunday after 4th of July I boarded a plane and headed to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Well technically Playa del Carmen via Cancun, but that’s not the point. 🙂 I got on a plane and went on VACATION and was disconnected from the world for 8 whole days! IT WAS WONDERFUL!

I’m lucky to have gone to college with a guy whose mom is a travel agent. I haven’t spoken to him in years, nor had a spoken to his mom. I know how wonderful she is, and know she could definitely plan a trip, so I know she was the person to go to when the final conversation came up with my boyfriend about going on vacation. As expected Leslie was more than happy to help us out. She gets deals everyday for fantastic trips around the world, and our trip was no exception!

I was over the moon about going on vacation. I was ready to step away from my life and doing something for me. I think my boyfriend was excited about the trip too, and even if he wasn’t I was excited enough for the both of us!

We boarded the plane at 7:30 a.m., the plane took off at 8 a.m. and we landed in Mexico at 10 a.m.

Happy to be heading to Mexico with this guy!

Happy to be heading to Mexico with this guy!

We had a 45 minute drive from the airport to our resort. We stayed at the Occidental Grand Xcaret. It was a beautiful resort, with a view minor issues that were easy to overlook because WE WERE ON VACATION! When we arrived at the hotel we grabbed a bite to eat while we waited for our room to be ready, but boy was I ready to change into my bathing suit, have a cocktail in hand, and sit by the pool.

I took this picture from the entrance into the main lobby. What you can’t really see is the ocean in the circle in the middle of the photo. I didn’t really notice it until the third day we were there, but once I did realize it, I knew what a special picture this is.

A view to the ocean/paradise.

A view to the ocean/paradise.

Day 1 in Mexico included: lunch at the buffet restaurant, cocktails by the pool, and dinner at the Steakhouse restaurant. Picture’s a little dark, but here we are after dinner.

First night dinner

Day 2 in Mexico included: breakfast at the buffet restaurant, going into Playa del Carmen and walking around 5th street, having lunch on the beach, time by the pool and dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant.

Not only can I spot a Starbucks from miles away, which I found two while on vacation, but I can also spot froyo. Originally I only saw gelato places, and then we passed this place

Froyo!

Froyo!

I didn’t indulge in any froyo because I was so full from lunch, but I saw it. 😉 Later that night I went on a nice date with this guy

So handsome!

So handsome!

As you may know I am gluten intolerant. I was a little worried about going on vacation and having to play the game, is it definitely gluten-free? Most days it was easy to determine if food was safe, but occasionally I had to ask. Sometimes the staff understood, sometimes they didn’t. To my surprise when we went to the Mediterranean restaurant they had a gluten-free pasta (I was pretty shocked). It was a brand I had recognized, but never had. It was really good!

Gluten free pasta

G-free pasta in Mexico!

For dinner I enjoyed a nice shrimp dish

My gluten free dinner

The boy enjoyed a piece of fish with steak on top (at least I think that’s what he had). He enjoyed it and thought it was amazing!

Zack's dinner

This guy enjoyed a nice chocolate cake and a double-espresso

Pinky's up!

Pinky’s up!

I somehow lucked out and had dark chocolate covered strawberries…WHAT? So amazing!

Mmm dark chocolate covered strawberries

Mmm dark chocolate covered strawberries

I think I’ll stop here with this post and continue with more of the trip tomorrow. I have to say overall, just two days into the trip it was amazing! Just what I needed!

Baby shower for a friend (Part 2)

As you read yesterday, I threw a baby shower for two friends this past weekend. I decided to stick with their theme for the baby’s room, which is jungle, and get decorations to match. What better place to go for personalized, adorable jungle themed decorations than Etsy!

First, I searched for invitations. There were so many out there to choose from. They were all cute, but it was the wording of the final invitation that caught my attention.

Invitation Edited

Photo courtesy of shop owner.

Seriously though, how cute! Thanks to Designs by DVB for designing these adorable invitations. It was very easy to work with the shop owner. She responded to messages in a timely manner, and had the invitations ready to go and shopped in just a few days. The parents-to-be loved them and immediately placed their copy in the baby’s book.

Sticking with the jungle theme I found these adorable diaper cakes on Etsy that I decided to place around the room.

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Photo courtesy of shop owner.

I messaged the store owner (Diapercake4Less) and quickly found out she would be closing her shop for a couple of weeks to celebrate her son’s birthday. No worries! There was plenty of time to get them ordered at the beginning of July and have them in time for the shower. To my amazement, when I contacted the shop owner on July 2 (per her instructions) she had already completed the diaper cakes! She informed me that she would send them out the following Monday, which she did, and I had should have them just a few days later, which I did. They were a perfect addition to the shower. I added the balloons to make them a little bigger since the room was so large (the rec room at my apartment complex was the venue).

Diaper cakes 1 Diaper cakes 2In addition to the diaper cakes I found this great banner on Etsy by NiuDesigns. The shop owner was wonderful to work with, and even though this was one of the last things I ordered for the shower it arrived in plenty of time. I positioned it on the gift table where everyone would see it as the parents opened up their gifts. Another great addition to the shower.

Its a boy bannerThe parents loved the sign, as well as the diaper cakes, and they couldn’t wait to take them home and incorporate them into the baby’s room.

One thing I didn’t take pictures of was “Wishes for the Baby” wall. I found a printable documents that guests could fill out for the baby. For example, one of the wishes said, “I hope you learn…” Guests filled these out and then hung them on ribbon using these adorable clothes pins on Etsy (TinyLittleCharms)

Tiny little charms clothes pins

Photo courtesy of shop owner.

I ordered the monkey, elephant, lion and giraffe. The parents loved this! They couldn’t wait to take them home and share the wishes with their little boy one day.

Thanks to The Party Stork for supplying the wishes cards, wild guesses card (when the baby will be born and how big he’ll be), and our two games (match the adult animal to the baby animal and old wives tales – does it predict a boy or a girl). They were both a hit!

Of course the most important question is, what was on the menu?! I put together a menu that was easy, and included mom-to-be’s favorite foods. I found theme matching food cards at The Storks Shop on Etsy that I put with each item so people knew what they were eating.

Appetizers: Hummus and veggies & Salsa and chips

Side dishes: BLT Pasta Salad (gluten and dairy free), Quinoa Salad with asparagus, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese & Fruit Salad

Main dishes: Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers, Chicken marinated in Italian dressing & Brats

Dessert: Funfeti cupcakes & a Candy Bar (Gummy Bears from Sprouts (best gummy bears), Jordan Almonds and Homemade Cookie Dough Bites)

I took pictures of some of the food, but got so distracted I didn’t get pictures of all the food.

SaladsDessert BarCandyI had a blast putting together this baby shower for my friends. It’s a lot of work prepping, cooking and setting up, but it’s something I love to do! I love planning parties and executing them. It makes it that much more enjoyable when it’s for family and friends. Here we are three days later and I’m still recovering. 🙂 At the end of the day, it was a blast and the parents-to-be were very pleased.

Baby Shower for a friend (part 1)

Note: This is a two-part blog.

This past weekend I threw a baby shower for two friends of mine. The father-to-be is best friend’s with my boyfriend, and the mom-to-be has become a friend of mine. A few months ago they were preparing to go to a doctor’s appointment to learn the gender of their baby. At first they wanted to know and share the news with friends at a baby gender reveal party (this is definitely a new trend), but then they changed their minds and decided they wanted to find out together with all their friends. Did I mention that I offered to bake the cake that revealed the gender? Oh the pressure to keep a secret – from everyone!

Two days before I moved into my new place and got the little piece of paper telling me whether or not my friend’s were having a boy or a girl, I had a really crazy dream. Let me preface by saying, I’ve had deja vu moments, but I’ve never had dreams where I’ve talked to someone who has passed or dreamt something that ends up coming true. Well, Wednesday night I went to bed and had the following dream – I’m in the kitchen baking a cake for the baby reveal party. As I start to fill the middle of the cake with frosting there is a knock on my door. I open the door to find the parents-to-be. The mom-to-be says, “Why are you filling that with blue frosting?” To which I replied, “It’s blue because you’re having a boy.” The mom-to-be asked how it was possible I knew they were having a boy since they hadn’t given me the piece of paper. I looked at her and said, “I just know!” I woke up not thinking much of it.

That Friday while I was moving the parents-to-be came over with the piece of paper inside a sealed envelope. After they handed it to me and left, I stood there staring at the envelope. I was nervous to open it! I knew they wanted a girl, and was hoping they wouldn’t be disappointed if the paper said boy. Well, I opened the envelope and the piece of paper read, “Baby Boy!” Ugh! My heart sank. For a brief moment I felt bad for them because I knew they wanted a girl. Then I quickly turned my attitude around and thought, the most important thing is that they have a healthy baby.

Saturday morning I woke up and baked the cake along with 2 dozen cupcakes with blue frosting in the center. Chocolate cake per the mom’s request and funfeti cupcakes for everyone else:

Chocolate cake before adding the frosting:

Cake before

Chocolate cake after the frosting is complete:

Cake after

Cupcakes with blue frosting!

Cupcakes with blue frosting

Here we are a few months later and we just celebrated the parents-to-be this past weekend with a shower. I had a fun time picking out invitations and decorations, along with planning the menu. The theme of the nursery is jungle – so that was theme for the baby shower. More to come tomorrow! 🙂

New Adventures in 2014

Yes it true I’ve been terrible at keeping up with my blog this year. It’s not because I was being lazy, rather I’ve trying my hardest to “balance” work life and my personal life. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, married, have children, are a single parent, etc., creating this balance is not always easy. It’s definitely important though to create that balance so that you are happy. If you aren’t happy, then those directly around you won’t be happy either…domino effect.

The first half of the year required me to travel at least once a month for work, sometimes twice. During the times that I was home there was always something happening – birthday’s anniversary’s, gatherings, moving, etc. On top of all the traveling I was still a one woman marketing show until April – I was doing logistics for x show, developing marketing materials, working on social media, putting together in-store demos, etc. Most days I couldn’t remember what I had done, worn or eaten. I really wanted an assistant, and still do.

I definitely won’t complain about any of it (traveling or all the work). One of the things I love most about my job is traveling all over the U.S. and connecting with people who are looking for tasty and delicious gluten-free options for their stores or restaurant or people who have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or multiple food allergies and can’t stand anything they’ve tried. It’s been quite the year! I’m loving the month of July because it’s been relatively quiet (and even relaxing thanks to a trip). Things will start to pick up in August so I’m enjoy this while I can.

So where have I been? San Francisco, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Anaheim, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Chicago, IL (yes twice); Pittsburgh, PA; Houston, TX; and most recently Playa del Carmen, Mex (more to come). Crazy! I’ve already looked ahead to August and I have another 8 trips coming up…WHAT?!?! I don’t remember any time in my life when I traveled this much. It’s crazy to think too because I have friends who traveling every week for week, some to multiple cities in one week. It’s exhausting even if it is fun. The hardest part other than people away from home (and your own bed) and the food. I’m always glad to come home and get back on my normal routine of clean eating and workouts. My newest craze – spin!

But I’ll leave that for another day. I said I would do my best to keep it brief, but still fill you in on my first half of 2014. Here’s to more new adventures!

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Coming back!

Happy Tuesday y’all! It’s been SEVERAL months since I posted last, and a lot has happened. I took a break from blogging to focus on things that were happening in my life (both personal and professional). Over the last couple of weeks I have gotten some very sweet comments from people who have found my blog. It really got me thinking about how I could incorporate writing this blog back into my life.

The blog started out as a way for me to share with my family and friends what was happening in my life when I moved to Austin. It ended up becoming much more! I found myself sharing things about what I was eating, what workouts I was doing and tips on creating a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to me. It’s something I work at every day, and trust me I have my moments of weakness, and by no means am I perfect. As I’m sure I’ve said in many blogs, everything in moderation.

So, what does this post all mean? I’m coming back! I can’t promise that I will post something every day, but I can promise that I will be better at posting more. I want to use this blog as a platform to connect with others who are looking to live a healthy life, looking for tips and tricks, and sharing adventures along the way. Stay tuned this week for a brief (I’ll do my best) recap of what’s happens since I last blogged.

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