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!

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!

Postcard

Testing 1, 2, 3

Is this thing on?

Hey there! Remember me? Miss me? Work has been ruling my life these last five days so unfortunately I wasn’t able to share with everyone what’s been happening. Let’s just right in….

Friday

Went to an Awesome Austin Happy Hour with some old friends and met some new friends. After happy hour I met some friends for a night cap (I had water since I was driving :-)).

Saturday

Up and at ’em early! Started my day with Chocolate shakeology and a nice bowl of berries.

Saturday Breakfast

After breakfast I loaded up the car. Road trip to Dallas with my co-worker for Southwest Foodservice Expo.

Road trip

ROAD TRIP! Nothing beats great company and great conversation on a road trip. Serious bonding time!

After setting up the booth my co-worker and I headed to CVS to pick up some supplies. To my EXCITEMENT, DELIGHT, SURPRISE, JOY, ETC. I discovered Uncle Julio’s across the street. I thought it was a Maryland/Virgina restaurant. WRONG. Saying I was excited is 110% an understatement.

Uncle Julios

Uncle Julio’s

Decorations

The decor

Margarita

Skinny Guava Rita. Hits the spot EVERY time!

Dinner

Fish tacos on corn tortillas for dinner. SO good.

We were highly entered sitting at the bar. Had a few good conversation with some people, and encountered one or two not so cool people. One guy actually tried to convince me that Dallas and Houston were nicer than Austin. OY!!! P.S. Uncle Julio’s is opening in Austin on July 15…I’ll be there for drinks so have a skinny guava rita ready for me Uncle Julio!

Sunday

Got up first thing in the morning and headed to the hotel gym. Ran into some old friends.

LiftingHello old friends!

Had a great strength training session before heading to the expo for the day. During the show we sampled pizzas, brownies and blondies, and talked to people about Smart Flour Foods and our products. It was a good, busy day.

photoThis was the set up for our booth. So colorful, right?

After a long day at the show we grabbed a bite and drinks.

Monday

Got up and worked out before heading to the expo.

BikingRecumbent bike

This is a good mode of cardio right now since I’m still waiting for the green light to get back to my regular routine. It was good to put some miles in on the bike.

After my workout it was back to the convention center for another day of sampling and chatting with people who came by the booth. All-in-all it was a great show. When it was over we broke down the booth and loaded up the cars. 3 hours back to Austin. I was on a mission to get back to see some of the hockey game. My friend who moved to Austin from Chicago is a Hawks fan. I promised her that I would watch the Stanley Cup games with her, but I keep going out of town. When I got back into town I sent her a message saying I was heading to The Tavern; she followed up with this:

Convo with MaryYep, that’s a great friend!

Congrats to her Blackhawks on winning the Stanley Cup. It was hilarious being in the bar surrounded by dozens of Hawks fans and watching them watch their team win.

Tuesday

All about catching up and moving things along. It was a good day. Really excited about the next projects I’m working on, and a little quiet time to work on those things that I had to set aside. Here’s to another amazing week in Austin and an amazing week ahead!

Question: Which city do you think is cooler: Austin, Houston or Dallas?

Traveling Thursday

Wednesday was so busy working, running errands for work, spending time with new friends, and hoping that I didn’t over sleep and make my 5:30 a.m. flight yesterday. I am happy to say I made both flights, slept on both flights, and had smooth traveling on both flights. I hope it’s the same when I go home. 🙂 Needless to say when I got home, I had to turn on the computer and get to work. With our launch around the corner and a show next week things are BUSY.

I figured today I would dedicate this blog about traveling when gluten free. Some tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. As many of you gluten free friends know, it is hard traveling and finding food at airports that is both healthy and gluten free. I have some go-to traveling snacks that make traveling a breeze:

  1. Shakeoloy – In a clear container I put a scoop of shakeology, 2 TBSP of PB2 and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. I bring my shaker with me, and once at the airport I go to one of the coffee places and buy a cup of skim milk. Sometimes I asked them to add ice, which always gets me funny looks, but I like my Shakeology shake cold. Once I’m ready for my shake I mix it all together in my shaker. This is also a great snack when you are staying at a hotel because you can always get milk.
  2. Larabars and Kindbars – These are good go-to travel snacks. It’s better to buy them before you get to the airport because they mark them up a good $1.50-$2.00. If you can buy in bulk, buy them in bulk. They really are a great snack when traveling and they are relatively healthy.
  3. Apples – This is a good, healthy snack to bring with you. Wash them before you leave and then throw them into a bag where they will stay clean.
  4. Celery and peanut butter – Another good traveling snack. You can cut the celery up before you leave, measure out the peanut butter and have it ready to go. Be careful with this snack on the plane because of people with peanut allergies. It has been in my experience though on Southwest that they let you know if you can have peanuts. Still a good snack when traveling. You can do the same with apples and peanut butter.
  5. String cheese & almonds – This is good if you can keep the string cheese a little cold. It won’t go back if it’s out for a few hours, but I think it’s better when it’s a little cold rather than a little warm. Pair this with almonds and you have a complete snack.
  6. Beef jerky – Good traveling snack; just make sure you measure it out before you leave and put it in separate bags so you don’t eat the entire bag. You could also do turkey jerky, but I have read several articles lately that talk about healthy snacks and beef jerky is at the top of the list.
  7. Breakfast cookies – Yes, I said cookies 🙂 There are so many different recipes out there that you can find that are yummy and healthy. Many of the breakfast cookie recipes I have found call for rolled oats. Thankfully, it easy to just substitute gluten free rolled oats for regular rolled oats. Here are a few of my favorites:
  8. Granola and Granola Bars – Make sure you measure granola out instead of bringing just a big bag, otherwise you might eat the whole thing. Haha. Make homemade granola bars is super easy. I have a recipe at home and will post it at a later date, however you can find several good ones on the internet.

These are just a few of my go-to traveling snacks. They are easy to pack and travel with, and do not take up much room in your bag. I swear, sometimes my bag is filled with more snacks than clothes. 🙂 A) I want to make sure I don’t get hungry on the move and B) I never want someone I’m visiting to go out of their way to make a meal gluten free for me. I 110% appreciate it when they do, but don’t want them to feel like they have to. I’m just as happy with my snacks.

Question: What are your go-to traveling snacks?

Groundhog Day

Tuesday felt like Monday all over again. Got up, went to work, ate the same foods and caught up on my DVR. There were a few differences to the day:

  1. I got my TX license! It’s been really funny showing my ID at a restaurant or bar. Some people give me a funny look, others people make a joke that I’m one of those people who are invading TX. Since it hasn’t really been and issue I didn’t think about if I would have problems at the airport until yesterday when I was at work. I was super worried that they wouldn’t let me through security without my actual license. I was have been VERY upset. Good news is I don’t have to worry about that because my license has arrived. Still very upset I didn’t get to keep my MD one for memory sake.
  2. I had less back pain today than I had had in weeks, so I was hopeful that the injection was finally starting to work. Turns out it was just a mini break. I woke up today (Wednesday) with shooting pain down my leg. The doctor and I will be having a serious talk next week because I need to get better so I can start working out again; not just upper body stuff. I’m sleeping TERRIBLY without my workouts, not to mention I just feel off.
  3. I am BEYOND exciting to be going home to see 4 of my 5 family members (my brother won’t be there :-() this weekend. I haven’t been home since February so this is VERY long over due. I’m so excited for my trip, so I packed last night. I felt like I did when I was a kid and was going to sleep away camp. I would pack weeks in advance because I was so excited to go see my friends. I'm going home

Yes, those are my running shoes, and yes I will be working out when I’m home. My mom has a recumbent bike and I plan on take FULL advantage of it. I made sure to only pack what I needed, knowing very well that I could always do laundry or run to CVS if I need anything. 2:30 a.m. wake-up call tomorrow!

Question: Do I go to sleep tonight or just stay awake and sleep on the place?