Take Me Down to Mexico

January 20, 2017
"Take Me Down to Mexico, Rosarito San Felipe, Baja California..."

Frank and I took a quick jaunt south of the border. We left on Sunday, we weren't sure when Frank would get out of work - Playoff Games - so I booked a night at the Quality Inn El Centro on Hotwire. We lucked out a bit and hit the road earlier than expected and no traffic was to be found. We clocked in at four hours. Our first choice for dinner was not open, but thankfully, we found Jalisco Grill just before it closed for the evening. The combo plate and chimichanga hit the spot and the frosty Tecate was refreshing. Back at the hotel, we finished binging Sneaky Pete. The hotel was worn, but clean. I am not sure why it warranted a 'Love it' from Hotwire, but it met our needs.







With a full tank (Mexico stopped subsidizing their gas prices at the first of the year), we made one stop at Starbucks before we headed for the border. Thick smog covered the sky and it didn't let up until we were well past Mexicali. The border crossing into Mexico was undergoing construction. There was no waiting about 8am and we were able to pass without saying a word or showing any documentation. The highway to San Felipe is in great condition (way better than those in California), it's easy to navigate and the views are pretty scenic. After 2.5 hours we spotted the Rockadile which marks the turn off to El Dorado Resort.





Frank's uncle and aunt have a house and a couple solar lots in that community. They escape the Chicago winter every year in January. This trip, they invited Frank's mom to join them. They also invited us down. We were welcome to stay at their place, but we opted to rent a beach bunglalow in Victors RV via Airbnb. If I can afford beachfront, I'll choose it every time. But before we checked in, we met up with them for a brief tour. They have a lovely two bed two bath house that sits between the Sea of Cortez and the Mountains. As an added bonus, there is a rooftop deck that offers panoramic views. The community has a couple pools, clubhouse with activities, private beach access and a couple of restaurants. There is a small market and gas station nearby so the set up is very convenient. It's easy to see why they enjoy it. The house is available for rent the rest of the year.









Solar lots in Eldorado Resort are raw land without electricity. Many park RVs on these lots. Though there are a few homes with solar and/or wind.







The pools near their place are newer. The other is in La Ventana del Mar which is closer to the beach. There are luxury condos on that side surrounding the golf course that are modern day ruins. When the real estate market in the states went bust, San Felipe was severely impacted. Houses, condos, hotels all remain unfinished. Folks had big dreams, but now only the skeletons remain. But I digress, the pool area is large with a lap pool, lounge pool and large hot tub.







The Morning Light

January 11, 2017

When the Night Sky Kisses the Light of Day

January 4, 2017


2017 = 365 Opportunities

January 3, 2017
Welcome 2017! Whether you gave 2016 a swift kick or a wistful good-bye, I hope the new year has been treating you well. Mine was pretty quiet, with any luck that means a peaceful twelve months will follow. I know many choose a word to shape their year, however, I prefer not to assume or make intentions. I'd rather it unfold organically. At least, that's been the case for the past few years. At year end, I've reflected on the daily joys and challenges; and then, chose the word to sum up the 365-day journey. 2013, Simplify; 2014, Celebrate; 2015, Persevere; 2016... Thankful. Sure, there were many bad days scattered among the good, but at the end of it all I was thankful for health, love and family. And Take5 candy bars.

Traveling was a large part of our 2016. It was love at first sight when we set foot in Nicaragua, we returned to favorites like Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland and Louisville. Our time in Cincinnati was brief, but we were definitely intrigued. Food always plays a big role in our lives, but rather than trying as many new places as possible we stuck to those that are reliably outstanding - Cleo, Joe's, Marisco's Playa Escondido, I'm looking at you. My annual year in review is lacking as a result, but in any case the following was the notable of 2016:

Biggest regret - Not letting go of things I cannot change

Do More - That brings joy


LOCAL EATS


[Photo: yelp/el dorado cantina]

Biggest Craving - Tableside Guacamole, El Dorado Cantina



Best Bite - Spicy Cigars, Cleo



Welcome to the Neighborhood - Shang Artisan Noodle


[Photo: yelp/TonyT]

Best Value - Komex Fusion


[photo: facebook/buddha belly deli]

RIP - Buddha Belly Deli. I'll miss Pho Dips and Dragon Breath Fries.


TRAVELS



Life Changing - Noble Ale Works; Anaheim, CA



Best Eats - Austin. It continues to hold the title. The BBQ is just unreal.



Most disappointing - Portland Eats, the exception was Pine State Biscuits.



Most relaxing - Casa Serena; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

ENTERTAINMENT

Best Song - Cake by the Ocean, DNCE. I'm so embarrassed to admit it, but it's so catchy - it makes me happy.

Best Album - Falling into Place, Rebelution

Best TV Show - The Crown, Netflix

Best Concert - Rebelution at Mandalay Beach, Moorea Beach Club

Best Movie - Snowden? I'm coming up empty for box office picks.
Television Movie - HBO's All the Way


The Happy of 2016

December 30, 2016
I have heard so many complaining about 2016 being the worst year ever. I'm not sure if the media is to blame or if it's due to politics, celebrity deaths, or maybe, they've suffered actual turmoil. It's been a pretty OK year for me. Sure, there have been kinder and less stressful years, but none were as bad for me as 2015. I survived that, and others will survive 2016. If we all take time to look back, I'm sure we could compile a list of things, moments or memories that brought the happy into our every day. Mine is something like this:

Since Frank and I shared our home this year; we had little time alone - just the two of us - something we've taken for granted in past years. It made our lazy days in Nicaragua, unexpected time in San Diego and gallivanting all over San Francisco more special. We were free to be us. No distractions.

Baby giggles, seeing the world through a toddler's eyes and witnessing the curiosity of a pre-teen was simply the best! That joy, wonder and interest is the magic that makes one's heart full.

Appreciating the gift of everyday, getting another chance to try again, to do better, or maybe, even, fall apart.

Often, it is as simple as watching Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

That's a Wrap

December 29, 2016
Now that Christmas is over, can we move along to summer? Please! How's that for a bah humbug? The warmth might not return quite as fast as I'd like, but at least the days are getting longer. I might see the sun again soon. I can't be the only one that misses daylight, can I? I'm lacking vitamin D in a bad way.

That said, I hope you all found the magic of Christmas this holiday. I had these cute santa babies to help keep me in the holiday spirit. Addy is beginning to have an understanding of the holiday happenings, and Lex was pretty oblivious, but she did seem to enjoy the ornaments best for her first Christmas. Santa didn't pay Frank & I visit this year since there were no kiddos in the house, but I think he would've enjoyed Pipeline Porter & nutella stuffed sugar cookies as much as I did. He did bring the kiddos all sorts of goodies - Nick must have been especially good this year, he was thrilled to find a PS4 under the tree.

On christmas day Mike, Tuco and Blaine came out from Pahrump. My dad, Amy, Jeff and the kids came over, along with Frank's uncle, and later, his cousin and her boyfriend too. I cooked a ham and the fixings. Parmesan salad and Snow tunnel cake too to keep up mom's tradition. I thought this Christmas might have been a little easier since it was the second without her, but the sting of sadness didn't fade a bit. Even so it was nice to enjoy the best gift of the season, gathering together.













I Choose You - A Pokemon Birthday

December 21, 2016
Last month, we celebrated Nick's 10th birthday. Like most kid's his age he's been obsessed with Pokemon. He told us months before his birthday that he wanted a Pokemon themed party. I looked into various options and narrowed down party ideas to two and I let Nick have the final say. Instead of a painting party (Pikachu) he chose a party at home with a bounce house. I wasn't sure a bounce house would fit in the backyard, but I measured twice and it'd be tight, but it would indeed fit. I didn't account for the bounce house to move with all the kids jumping inside of it so one of our bushes took a beating, but otherwise the bounce house was a great success. The Incredible Hulk didn't quite fit the theme, but no one seemed to mind.

A couple months prior to the party, I bought the Pokemon decorations from a Facebook garage sale group, $7 well spent! Invites and Thank you cards I downloaded from Etsy. I taped dollar store table clothes together to create pokeballs and I made a Pikachu balloon that was a crowd favorite. I found free printables online to dress up odds and ends that tied everything together. I also created a game called, Pikachu Pop. I stuffed small Pokemon toys (Amazon) into balloons and had the kids catch them all by popping the balloons on their butts. It was a frenzy of screams and giggles - a real hit! Amy had a friend make the Master Pokeball Cake. It was the perfect center piece for all of our snacks. Treat bags were Pokemon cups (party city) filled with treats and Pokemon wristbands (Amazon). Said and done, a fun time was had by all.



























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