Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Trip to Mexico

Last Christmas, Flavio and I booked a trip to the Mexican Riviera and we'd been looking forward to it since. We had both been before, but never together, and four months of anticipation didn't disappoint - it was ridiculously beautiful and fun and we enjoyed every minute. Here are some photos...

We stayed at the fantastic La Tortuga Hotel & Spa in Playa del Carmen, which I highly recommend. It's a boutique hotel with a great pool and restaurant and the service was outstanding. As soon as we arrived, they served us a cold cocktail and any stress we had immediately melted away.
{La Tortuga's pool}
We dropped our bags, headed to the beach, and we were both shocked by the view. I'd forgotten how turquoise the water is, and how soft the sand feels. Instant paradise.

We started our mornings with delicious café con leche, fresh papaya juice, and a beautifully presented breakfast, and then we'd head to the beach.
{precision fruit plate, breakfast}
Once we had our toes in the sand, we'd set up camp, relax, read, and mainly just gaze out at the stunning view. It was warm and humid and when it started getting hot, we'd order drinks or go for a swim. We liked playing shark, where one of us would hide under water and then swim up and 'bite' the other. Flavio was usually the shark. :)
{heaven on earth}
{LOOK at this place!}
Eventually, we'd order lunch. Eating with my toes in the sand is my new favorite.
{fish tacos with a view}

Then we'd order more drinks...

And a couple more...

Some afternoons, we headed (stumbled?) back to our hotel, stopping for paletas, or lunch,
sightseeing through the colorful markets at Avenida Quinta, and then going for margaritas and a swim back at our hotel.
{Hand-woven traditional fabric in the markets}
{flor de jamaica}
{swimming with margarita}
{doing my best drunken George Washington impression}
While most of the trip was spent relaxing on the beach, Wednesday was our main day of adventure. We joined a tour group and went down the coast to Akumal to snorkel with the sea turtles...
{ready to snorkel - Akumal Beach}
{tortugas! so peaceful.}
{fish and coral}
{under water, rain overhead} 
{rainbow while snorkeling}
Later that day, we went ziplinining, canoeing, cliff jumping, and snorkeling in a cenote (a Mayan underground sinkhole).

{cenote snorkeling}
{stalagtites at cenote - this is a pet cemetery, ancient animal bones found buried here. So beautiful!}
We even cuddled a spider monkey named Lala at the end of the day. NBD, just another Wednesday in paradise.
Thursday, we had a bit of misadventure. Flavio reaaaallly wanted to go to the pyramids at Chichen Itza, a 3-hour drive away. We had both already been before, so I wasn't that excited about going, and totally preferred to spend Thursday drinking on the beach -- we're so good at it! -- but since he really wanted to go, we woke up at 5 AM and started making the trip in our tiny rental car. Along the way, we were surprised by two new, very expensive toll roads ($30 worth of tolls). When we rolled up to Chichen Itza, we realized we didn't have enough money for the entrance fees. Yep. We spent most of our money on the tolls, and didn't think to bring extra cash or any cards!!! We begged the ticket guy at Chicken Itza to let us in, but no dice. So, seriously annoyed, we made the longer,  non-toll road trip back to Playa del Carmen, and en route, almost died speeding over a giant, unmarked speed bump. Thankfully, after 7.5 hours of travel, we made it back alive, and by 1:00 PM, we were sipping drinks by the sea, happy again.
{eating the worm}
Friday, we liked piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. We were so lucky with the weather on this trip. And Friday was absolutely gorgeous...until like 4:00 PM when the blackest clouds I'd ever seen rolled over the beach at warp speed. It all happened so fast - it was crazy, within a matter of minutes it went from blue skies to black, and it was pouring. We attempted to run back to our hotel but had to find shelter in a little restaurant off the beach. It was exciting, and memorable. We eventually braved the storm, ran back to our hotel soaking wet, and once there, ordered champagne and snacks up to our room and listened to the rain fall. It was a romantic way to end a wonderful trip. 
{ominous clouds rolling in, pouring rain}
That night, after the rain cleared, we went out for a delicious last dinner, and finished the night by toasting my new obsession, papaya margaritas (must re-create at home). We walked through the crowded streets and markets, watching an Easter procession in the main square, soaking up the last bit of our getaway.
{papaya margarita}
It was a trip to remember. Playa del Carmen, we'll be back!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The power of vulnerability

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed this week. Our refrigerator is broken, I'm tired, and there is so much grading to do. I have a lot to be thankful for and I realize it, but at the same time, coming back from vacation is hard. Anyway, I really love this TED Talk by Brene Brown. It reminds me that we're all in this human struggle together. If you haven't seen it, it's a must. Watch 'til the very end.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Felices Pascuas!

Happy Easter! We're back from an amazing week in Mexico and I can't wait to share photos soon. In the meantime, we're enjoying cuddles with our favorite Easter bunny (we missed Guiri sooo much!) and chocolate treats paired with a Sunday movie marathon. The end of a trip is always sad - thankfully, these tips are helping - but at the same time, nothing's sweeter than being home.

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was little, my parents would set up an egg hunt and my brothers and I would run around the yard searching for well-hidden eggs. Some eggs were filled with candy, while others were filled with cold, hard cash. Over the years, the egg hunts have continued and I am really missing my parents and brothers and our tradition today - hopefully we can all be together next year. These annual egg hunts are one of my fondest memories, and inspire me to make a point of celebrating Easter Sunday with something fun. Some years, Flavio sets up an egg hunt for me :), last year I made carrot cupcakes, and this year I put together simple Easter baskets. They were fun to come home to after a week away.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Noted on a Friday

After spending the week scrambling to get everything squared away before Spring Break, it's finally here. Papers are graded, lessons are planned, and we are Mexico-bound Monday. (!!!) I celebrated with a revitalizing yoga sesh this afternoon and there is bubbly waiting to be popped tonight.  Just some laundering, packing, cleaning, and three sleeps left before we're livin' la vida loca. I can't wait to snorkel, margarita, and explore with my favorite person. I hope everyone has a great week, and I look forward to sharing some photographs when we get back. xo

This week wasn't all work. Here's some of the play...

A Monday Happy Hour at Sycamore Den.

Tuesday night done right. Perfect for a near 90 degree day.

Spontaneous fun: Wednesday dinner and drinks at my favorite Mexican spot, Cantina Mayahuel. Best margs in SD, period.

Coming home to this sock-stealing sweetheart.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Noted on a Friday

I have major vacation anticipation right now and instead of wishing the time away in a countdown to Spring Break, I made it a point to stay in the present and celebrate each day this week. Whether baking a pie or meeting Flavio downtown for happy hour, planning afterwork fun switched things up and helped me feel positive about each day. I'm looking forward to a mystery date this evening and then making a conscious effort to focus on the now and enjoy this weekend. I hope you have a good one. xo

Here are a few things that made my week...

Cupcakes and (decaf) coffee with a friend.

April showers (and rainbows) bring May flowers.

Meeting up for a cocktails/oysters/Mexico-vacation-planning happy hour.

Wine, snuggles, and a movie on Thursday night.

Pretty roadside flowers on an afternoon walk.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Baking, I have missed you. Earlier this week I saw bright, beautiful sprigs of rhubarb at the store parked next to neon pink strawberries and baking a pie of the same ingredients sounded like a fun way to welcome spring. I love strawberry rhubarb's puckery-sweet compote and overall, this was an easy pie to throw together on a quiet Thursday afternoon. Here is the recipe I used -- and despite having trouble with the crust, I recommend it. I'd never made strawberry rhubarb before today, and though my pie may not win any beauty contests, it tasted amazing as dessert and will be perfect for breakfast tomorrow.

{ombre rhubarb}
{ready to bake - ignore that I messed up the lattice}