Blue Apron or Hello Fresh?

I said I would give my review and here we go! I honestly don't know why I chose to sign up for Blue Apron first but I did, probably because they were the first to tempt me with a promo code or a FREE box! Haha They must know my trigger words. I love to cook and sometimes I get into this rut where I cook the same things. Also, since my daughter turned 2, she began to boycott naps. Yes, please feel sorry for me! With that being said, no naps means she gets extra hairy around 4pm, the exact time I start to prep and cook dinner since my hubby gets home around 5:30. Again, I like to cook, so for me it is a process that I enjoy to start early, have time to prepare and throw in extras to see what flavors I can create! But.....when you have a child crying at your legs because she can't watch a show on TV that is not on at that time, the dinner struggle becomes what can I cook with the most amount of ease?? I love my crockpot but seriously get tired of the same old stuff and I try to cook healthy and the crockpot for me screams comfort food, just like the meals my mother made! Yes I know you can make healthy dinners in the crockpot, but we all know that we have our recipes that we cook over and over again because they work, and our kids eat it without complaining. Because who wants to slave over cooking a dinner only to listen to your child or husband scrape the fork on the plate separating the green things from the white things and what are those red things? Am I right or am I right?

Ahhh so you suggest I get on Pinterest? Well I am already on there and I have like 3 different tabs for food that I NEVER cook! 1.) Because I don't have all of the ingredients on hand or 2.) Because when I go to the store I do not want to buy another cabinet full of things I will never use again. 3.) Because see when I actually do go buy all of the things for a new recipe from Pinterest I forget why I have coconut milk in my cabinet and never make the recipe. So hello Blue Apron. Thank you for joining the party, or am I?

Blue Apron was my attempt at trying new recipes without the stress. I bought it with some promotion and honestly you should never buy anything like that without a promotion because they are everywhere!! I just received another $30 off code in my Zuilly shipment! So once I signed up, I was able to choose which day I wanted it to be shipped on along with how many meals for how many people. I chose 2 people 3 times a week because that seemed to be the best "fit" for us. Well not really because a few times a week we have my step children and then we have 4 but the other days we have 2, but we always have a small child who doesn't really eat an adult portion but I am tired of sharing everything I have....kidding. Sort of. And then you check the calendar to make sure you are going to be home at least 3 meals for the week and not eating out or gone. You get the point, signing up and making those decisions was stressful enough! Haha. My first box was delivered and I couldn't wait to open it! My 3 recipes were Seared Chicken and Fregola Salad, Mexican Beef Quesadillas, and some Teriyaki salmon thing. Out of the 3, I chose to cook Seared Chicken and Fregola Salad first since it was just the hubby and I eating and it looked yummy! Everything arrived in 1 big box with small tiny brown paper bags with small labels to which recipes, although you had to decipher how many green onions went with each recipe as there wasn't a "box" within a box. The first meal is always fun to cook because you have time and you are excited to make something new, but realizing the chopping, peeling and sautรฉing and switching of pans is creating more dishes than you want to clean up, but you press on. Recipes were fairly easy to follow but with foods I have never heard of (Fregola salad), you really have to read and pay attention instead of just throwing crap in a pan :)

After all of the steps, it was ready to eat! It was delicious!

 I honestly struggled to find when I was going to make the next recipe since we had things that popped up so I ended up making the Mexican Beef Quesadillas when my hubby was on call at work, but good lord they were to die for but I felt like gut rot after as I did not drain the grease like I maybe should have!

 The anxiety of the whole thing was the worst part for me because I felt like I had this fresh food in the fridge and if I did not cook it, it would go to waste and I didn't want to do that since I paid for it! A few more days passed by and I finally decided I would make the last recipe and it was more work than I thought and it was not good, we both did not eat it and ended up eating popcorn for dinner! It even looks like poo plated ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Needless to say I was NOT in a rush to order anymore boxes or order from another similar company even though that was my intention! I wanted to try both companies and compare and then eventually subscribe to 1 or the other! My first Blue Apron came August 26th and I did not order Hello Fresh until January 11th! Haha. I wasn't kidding.

Hello Fresh

I honestly felt like the ordering process was a little more user friendly here and this time around I went with the 4 people option and 2 boxes a week for only 2 weeks because now I have commitment issues! Haha So the first box arrives and again I am excited to break into it to see what our meals consist of and what they are like! I love that each box has everything into it's own box (except the meat, but that is a no brainer) although I can see them being too bulky and big for some people's fridge! I chose the most kid friendly meal to start with since I was going to be feeding a 3 year old and a 16 year old. The recipe was Beefy Taco casserole with a side salad. Well, I don't eat salads unless it is from a restaurant so this was a complete wasted ingredient for us. It was easy enough to make and yummy enough to eat! Easy to assemble but a tad messy to eat!

Our next meal was Honey Ginger-Glazed Chicken. Ok, how cute are those little fish bottles with soy sauce?? I love anything mini and have been known to hoard small condiments from hotels and airplanes! No shame in my game! So before the box came, I received and email notification that they could not send the chicken tenders so they sent chicken breasts instead and informed me that I should just cut them into strips as a substitution. Well, I didn't follow that direction and just left it as a breast, much easier that fondling a raw chicken breast.

Somethings, well a lot of things I found annoying about this "meal kit". 1.) Why can't the garlic come chopped or minced? 2.) Same thing with the ginger. 3.) Who wants to take the time to trim both ends of each sugar snap pea, especially when I don't even like them!? Ugh, but my hubby does so I pressed on to correctly complete this recipe.

In the above recipe on how to prepare your meal, you will notice it says "Pour in 3 TBSP white wine vinegar (we sent more)". Why would you send me more? Another step that I have to do that I don't want to do because I am lazy and that is why I bought this box. Why can't the exact amount be sent? Hmmmm maybe I am a little out of sorts as I am writing about this recipe after the fact that I happened to get "something" after eating this meal that gave me stools with ease ( if you catch my drift.) for 4 stinkin days and then out came the Imodium after I saw no end in sight. TMI? I am a nurse so you will just have to get over it! Haha I am not saying it was the meal, because my hubby ate the same thing and was fine but you know how it is when you think of the last thing you ate or drank before you became ill. No bueno. Nonetheless, it was very tasty with great flavors!

Our final week of meals was due to be shipped on Tuesday and we received an email that it would be delayed due to an ice storm that hit us here in the Midwest. I appreciate the heads up as it is no problem for me at all to receive it a day later! This weeks menu was Juicy Apple Pork Burgers and Ginger Beef Stir Fry. So I decided to go for the burgers because I had actually saw that a friend had made them a few days before and they looked amazing! 

Again with the salad, boo but the rosemary fries were spot on! I also failed to take a photo of the finished product and I can not remember why, but we all loved them! The zested apple in the burger mix was crazy good!

Since my box came a day late, I was so nervous that the meat would not be good since it was sitting out an extra day. I am sure it was fine but after the last fiasco, you can imagineI was a tad more cautious. Unboxing the last meal I was sooooo over it again. Why did I order this stuff again? Another freakin ginger box with SUGAR SNAP PEAS! If you look below, the ingredients were almost the exact same as the ginger chicken the week before and I thought maybe they would have noted what they already sent me and tried to hook me up with variety, nope.

So instead of using the sketchy beef, I substituted for Costco salmon, which is a favorite in our house. I trimmed and cut 1 bag of the peas again, cursing the entire time then tossed the second bag in the fridge for my hubbys salads at lunch. Also, instead of sending me those adorable little fish of soy sauce, they sent me like 10 packets of soy sauce. Ya know the kind you have to tear open at the restaurant with your teeth? Yep, I had to individually open each packet to get 4 TBSP of soy sauce. I may have laughed in disbelief, no, I am sure I did. The glaze that you make is delicious and I will probably keep that for salmon glaze again! The flavors I achieved with Hello Fresh was top notch! Probably my favorite thing about them because seasoning is key!

Overall, I have decided that I will not do either again and just stick with what we already love & cook or pull out Ina Garten recipes when I am feeling fancy! I just love her. I do feel that 2 meals a week was right for me as the pressure to cook them was not as intense and maybe I am the only one that feels this way, but remember this is MY review and I do know a lot of people who love both of these companies. Maybe I went into it thinking it was to make cooking easier and in some ways it does, but for me I want dump and go majority of the time or one pan wonders :) This has been fun and if you have any comments, feedback or suggestions I am open to them all! XOXO

Easy over Experienceย 

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I was driving my daughter to preschool last Monday and I was listening to her babble in the back seat pointing out every thing she loved while looking out the window. Toddlers really do have a way of making you stop and smell the roses as they find joy in the most simple things. She kept repeating herself about how cute these little trees were and how she wanted one at Christmas, so when she started to shout "MOM I AM TALKING TO YOU," I finally turned around to see what she was pointing to. They were just small ornamental pine trees in this yard by her school. She just couldn't believe they had real Christmas trees in their yard and she wanted one of those too. No, she wouldn't remember if we have had a real tree at Christmas yet since she just turned 3, but it really made me stop and think about how I may be choosing the easy route over the experience. Why? Because it is easier. And we have become so obsessed with finding the quickest, cleanest, and most thoughtless option, we often forget that most things in life come with a valuable lesson or experience. So why have we become so busy that we do this? Busy on our phones, computers, and trying to keep connected to the world. What for? Don't get me wrong, I am writing this because I had the revelation that maybe that is exactly what I am doing right now and stopping to ask myself why, has led me to this post. I am guilty. I don't know why looking at my phone has become more enjoyable and taken over the many joys in life. I find it actually more depressing than anything to open up FaceBook and see the animal abuse, the child abuse, the politics, the hate, the bullying, the killing. And yet, I am choosing to waste time on that rather than baking, blogging, exploring, reading and simply just living my best life. I have decided to give this whole Easy or Experience thought a go. Seriously. We have a fake Christmas tree. Why? Haha because it is easier. Less mess, no pine needles, and I don't have to water it or hunt for that "perfect" tree every year. Because in this society we are all about perfection. So this year, we are getting the real thing baby!! We are going to go as a family and find whatever tree my daughter thinks is great, and that will be our tree. I will still put up the fake one, because I love the season and I love the celebration, but we are going to experience it with new eyes. Who knows, it may just become a new tradition for us! If you hear me complain about the mess, kindly remind me of this post!

If you are my friend on FaceBook, you may have recently seen my post about my cake pops.....they were made with love! Haha. Another lesson for me. My daughter loves cake pops and asked me for Mickey Mouse ones for her Birthday. Every year I either have someone make me the cutest cupcakes or cookies, buy the decorations and buy all of the food. Why? It's easy. I am not sure what else I am too busy doing at that time, but apparently I am. But when your daughter asks you to make Mickey Mouse cake pops, Pinterest to the rescue.  The process it takes to make them is long! Finally I was done and I was frustrated, annoyed and felt bad because they were.....well ugly. But my daughters eyes lit up when I showed her the Mickey Mouse cake pop just for her. She said "Mom, I love it. Thank you". "You made this for me?" Yes baby girl, I made those. My heart melted and yet these hideous looking cake balls were a pain in the butt to make, it was so worth her reaction. ( I have yet to decide if I will make them next year). Bwahhhhaaaa.

Now that it is Fall here in Iowa, most of us are cleaning our yards up before the first snow! EEEK! Last year I managed to rake up a small pile, just enough for my daughter to jump and play in the leaves, then hired it all to be cleaned up and taken away. I have terrible allergies, so I try to avoid raking and playing in them myself. I took sweet photos of her last year playing in them so when she is older she can see how "awesome and loving" her Mom was to let her do that. Haha (insert sarcasm). This year, for the ultimate experience, I made sure that I was a big girl and took my allergy pill. I used the blower to gather the leaves and then I raked them into a HUGE pile, big enough for all 3 of us to play in. The dog, daughter and I :) I forgot how much I actually like to rake and do yard work. I do have a garden, but it is not the same! Is it really that hard? The simple answer is no, no it's not. AND I have this really great picture showing how much joy it brought her :) No that is not the pile!

The list goes on and on. It is a choice that we have to make every day living with children and even relates to our spouses! I totally know there are times that you can not jump in a puddle or play in the rain, but the times that you can, why not let them? What is it seriously going to harm? The amount of excitement from my daughter when I let her play in the rain is exceptional! Best day ever. What's another outfit change when you have already changed 3 times that day already! Haha. And going back to the spouse thing, I am not an expert, actually I have learned a lot in my short life. But what I do know is that when I make the choice to choose love and kindness, my world rotates a lot more smoothly then when I choose stats. No keeping score, no counting flaws, but taking the time to leave a note somewhere, sending a nice message throughout the day goes a long way! You may be asked a favor by your significant other and to you it seems so crazy that he or she thinks you have this time and doesn't he know that you are already busy enough? I promise if you choose to look at it as an opportunity to show love, it will change your life! I have a friend who has 3 kids and is married and we were chatting about kids and the work and all the same things we always chat about as women, and she mentioned she made her husband his lunch everyday. What? Are you serious? I was a little taken back and didn't understand why it was nothing to her but only to realize that it was her choice. She wanted to and enjoyed it. She already made 2 other lunches for her kids, so why was it so much harder to do 1 more? A light bulb went on inside my head. This was one of her ways of showing him love and appreciation. It would be kind of hard to be mad at your wife then sit down only to realize she made the food you are eating :) Bwahhhaaa At least he has to think about it!

I tend to avoid things that are messy. Hate to admit it but I do. Why? Because it's all fun and games until someone has to clean it up. Painting is messy. We have painted...a lot.

Playing in the mud is even worse. But we did it. Someone else seemed to enjoy it too.

Halloween is not my favorite Holiday by any means. I am perfectly fine to skip carving or de-gutting pumpkins, but yet again I have my daughter to thank for allowing me to experience it all over again this year! And it just keeps getting better! What happens when 2 perfectionists try and de-seed and carve 1 pumpkin? Haha it was hilarious! My daughter carefully plucked each seed from the pumkin and no seed was left behind :) We cleaned and cooked our seeds for the first time together and fought over who got to eat the last one! So much fun!

How many things in your life could you change to experience it, instead of just doing it? I am going to make a list with my daughter for this winter and we are going to write down things that she wants to do. Yes, she is only 3 but have you ever talked to a 3 year old? They know EXACTLY what they want to do :) Haha. So far on the list is the ride the train at the mall and build a snowman! If you think your child forgets things, maybe you should give them more credit that you are because my daughter will remember there are sheep at Von Maur the instant we step inside that store....even as a 1 year old! They KNOW!

I know people are so sick of politics and hearing about them and people's opinions are being plastered all over social media and in our very own streets, but are you looking at this election with the easy or experience aspect? It is so easy to sit back and post such hate, negativity and spew awful words from your mouth but are you gaining anything by doing that? A lot of posts are focused on "How will I tell my children?" You tell them that change happens, a lot, and it is hard and uncomfortable and sometimes very painful, but you are strong enough to move on. There will be more change in their lives that will occur other than just changing Presidents. You show them love and grace and they will respond positively. Certainly I am a little scared of how President elect Trump will handle this job, but instead of rioting, damaging our country, or using Facebook to post such nonsense, maybe I will try to experience it from another angle. Remember when your Mom told you "Not to judge a book by it's cover?" Maybe we all should apply that to this. Above all, this is our America and it can only be great again when people start choosing love over hate. Go out and volunteer instead of wasting time rioting. We are putting our police officers more at risk when we display this violent behavior. People make mistakes all of the time, we are all sinners but we have a forgiving and loving God. Let's be more like that. YES we are in for quite the experience so buckle up and do your part to make it worth it. We are in charge of ourselves and our actions so let's put our best foot forward and pray for Trump, pray for your friends, your family, your children and your enemies. Love trumps ALL.

November always has a way of making me reset, rethink and show gratitude. Maybe it's Thanksgiving, the Holidays or just family events. I don't know but I hope that after reading this blog you come out with maybe a new perspective or have your own "ah ha" moment too. Maybe it is for your kids, your spouse, or yourself. Trust me when I say that the memories and experiences that come from living your life are much greater than any other "business" that we choose to fill our time with!

Much love friends and cheers!!

Vacation with my Mini

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Whew! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I can't even believe I have the time to sit here and write this! But this crummy weather, my hot tea and couch were calling my name. If you follow my blog, you will know I ONLY pack in a carry on suitcase 1.) because I am a control freak and scared to loose it and 2.) I am impatient and don't like to wait to pick up luggage, but this last trip to Cabo with my family, I caved and checked a bag. Seriously the best decision ever. And I will NEVER again choose to fly out at 5:30am ever again....getting up at 3 am is not for anyone! I was traveling alone (first time internationally) with my 2.5 year old daughter and it is too hard to pack for her in 1 suitcase let alone a carry on! Diapers, life jacket, clothes and shoes. And there was NO way I could've made it through the airports with my child, suitcase and buggy all intact without checking a bag. So I sucked it up and checked it, but next time, if I stay at a house like we did this time, I will wait and buy diapers at the Mega Mart and save myself some packing space :) The best part was that my daughter was an absolute gem the entire trip! She had a few 2 year old moments but seriously the trip was so nice and it helped by having a cooperative child....every Mother understands this! 

We flew first class our entire trip thanks to my little blue card (not pill) from my fun job as a Stella & Dot stylist! Why not right?? I sell it for fun, I will use my income for fun! Now I am not sure I ever want to travel coach again :) But if you think you get stares when you fly coach with a child, you should see the looks and comments you get flying first class with one! The eye rolls and the sighs! Haha but I loved the cover up comments when she was a complete angel and actually quieter than the snoring man 2 rows back. One lady said, "oh thank God for iPads" No honey, thankfully I have been fortunate enough to travel with her since she was 4 months old and she is used to it and loves it. But yes, thank God for iPads too :)  Have a toddler and traveling soon? I would like to pat myself on the back for packing an amazing backpack for a child! 

1.) Window cling ons. I may have to give some credit to my daughter for wanting these at Target and the idea then coming to me. Best.Idea.Ever. No mess, cheap, and reuse able! 

   2.) Water Wow books! Fill a plastic paint brush up with water and paint pictures and then re-paint once they are dry!  Lots of different ones to choose from too! You can find them at Target, department stores like Younkers and of course the airport if you want to pay double!

   3.) And this shoelace and block thing from Target dollar spot! Is there anything you can not get in that money pit they call the dollar spot? UGH! Kept her attention for ever! Keep on taking my money Target.

My family picked us up from the Airport and drove us to our home away from home! Our first time using a home booking site since we usually plug in a place to go on Expedia like an all inclusive! It was actually really nice! Gated community, large pool, private (rocky) beach, and close location to downtown. It was in Cabo Bello and our home was called Casa De Esperanza or House of Hope. You can learn more about their mission at hopeforloscabos.com as all donations for the house and car (after costs are covered) go directly to various areas of need in Los Cabos. The house has 3 bedroom and each room has their own bathroom. Staying somewhere and doing good all at the same time is a win win for me!

     Since my husband and I have been to Cabo 2-3 times before, I was more relaxed knowing a little about the location. We tried to eat at all of the "it" spots for my family to see and experience and hit up all of the little trinket shops for crap we all didn't need, but what is the fun if you don't come home with maracas? Haha Oh and a drum, a bracelet and a "drug rug" or poncho as I call it! Never heard it called that before! But my little lady looks awfully cute in it!

Eat here: 

1.) Cabo Wabo

2. The Office

3.) Captain Tony's 

We did not party here: (Although there were a few babies in the bars)

1.) Cabo Wabo

2.) Squid Row

3.) Jungle Bar

Walking the marina is always fun! Lots of shops, restaurants, Starbucks & entertainment. I know I am not young anymore, but I will still never understand the need to walk the streets with only a swim suit on. Does that make me old? Either way, we saw a lot of booty and drunk people :)  Always very entertaining.

  You must do the touristy thing and go to the Arch. Rent a glass bottom boat, and take a little ride to Lover's Beach, Pelican Rock, the Arch, stinky seal rock (seriously smells so bad) and lastly Divorce Beach, but swimming is not recommended here. Surprised? Me either ๐Ÿ˜Š 

      She was not too sure about the boat ride! Haha 

Biggest funny of the vacation. Yes it involves my daughter. So I was showering with her when a little wall lizard came out from the drain and ran out of the shower onto the baseboard. Of course my bug loving daughter thought she needed to catch it. I laughed and let her out to catch it thinking that they are so stinking fast, there will be NO way she will catch it. Low and behold, she walked over to it, reached down and picked the darn thing up no problem. UGH!! So out of the shower I go to get a cup (with no lid) to keep it in. Brilliant I know. Well she played and played with that lizard until he no longer had a tail, then it was time to let me die in peace. RIP lizard. Only my child.         

  

Of course I did a little "work" on my vacation! Yes, selfies are my job, and just wearing it out and about people see the goods and want to know where they can get it!  Showing off Stella & Dot's accessories and their versatility is part of the work, but also a selfie shows how simple it is to look "put together" for any occasion. I think if people really understood how easy & fun this job is, more would do it! They just hear "selling" something and say no way. But having a stylist on my team paying off student loans and saving for a trip to Disney is more motivation to help others earn extra money too! Oh and if you didn't already know, this vacation is a big ol' tax write off, just ask me how!! 

*Follow me on Instagram for outfit and jewelry details ashleyn2504

A huge thank you to my family for setting up this very fun vacation and for making memories that will last a lifetime! I already miss you all and look forward to the next time we get to see you!

 

Much love Cabo! Until next time :) โœŒ๏ธ    XO

Lady and Red 

 

Travel Costa Rica-Libera-Guanacaste

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I have a long list of places that I want to travel to and this was near the top. Visions of a tropical rainforest, turquoise blue waters, and a variety of animals you only find in a zoo. Who wouldn't want to see that? I am slowly but surely checking off destinations but since having a baby I have become the bigger baby about leaving her. I have said it before and I will say it again as I am not ashamed...I am a control freak and when things are out of my control my anxiety goes through the roof. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me "oh she will be fine" I would be rich....and still anxiety ridden. Listen, I know she will be taken very well care of and I knew she would have a blast with Nana, but that is not the point. Well I had to get over it because the plane was leaving no matter what. Thank God for iMessage and Facetime. This is my baby giving me kisses, how could you not miss that face?

Needless to say we both survived the 8 days away from each other and I have already made it clear to my hubby that the next vacation I am not leaving her for that long...at least not this year :)

After a 5 hour flight from Chicago we finally landed in Liberia, Costa Rica. The airport was built brand new only 2 years ago and it was really clean and nice. Make sure you have a taxi or shuttle scheduled because they charge you $80 for 2 people to get to your hotel when the hotel only charges $55 for 2 people in a private taxi or $25 per couple on a shuttle. Upon landing and while driving to our resort, the visions I had of this country was not what I was looking at. It was brown, dry, hot, and looked just like Mexico. I was a little bummed I am not going to lie. We decided to stay at the RIU Palace as it was an old standby that we knew what to expect having stayed at 3 other RIU resorts. And also...1.) Because I was so out of sorts leaving my child I didn't need any more stress of researching and picking a new place and it being a disaster like Barbados :) (See Travel Barbados blog post for a good laugh). 2.) We were going to stay at the Westin but when I went to book it the price went up $1,500 per person and I am a cheap. 3.) We are old and all we want to do is lay around, soak up some sun and maybe hit up a few touristy things. Done with the excuses. We love the RIU Palace in Puerto Vallarta but this RIU was probably our least favorite. Yes, I read the reviews and searched through Trip Advisor, but I am convinced that the people who write glowing reviews never get to travel and the poor reviews are people who think they are going to have the best food of their life and best accommodations at a at best 4 Star property. Forgo the expectations and just enjoy the ride, it is much better that way!

The decor is very modern and the colors do not seem to fit the location but the view looking out was all I needed. We spend majority of our time outside trying to un-thaw from winter, probably why the hotel was packed with New Yorker's and Canadians! Haha

We would enjoy a glass of wine here each evening overlooking this view. Not to shabby eh?

We did walk over to the RIU Guanacaste property which is right next door and if you stay at the Palace you have the option to hang out there if you would like, no charge. The decor and vibe were much more Costa Rican if you ask me with lush landscaping and more earth toned palate.

For what we did the RIU accommodated my butt just fine. There was an empty chair pool side every day waiting for us, a seat at a their several restaurants and buffets, and more importantly friendly staff waiting to assist you with whatever you could possible need. And they win the award for best dirty monkey drink! Who doesn"t love chocolate and bananas??

The weather is warm and toasty, and was aย whopping 98 degrees Thursday of our trip. I would say that is hot especially when the humidity is 60-70 percent too. The locals say that their summer goes from September until May and after May it rains almost every day along the coast for 1-2 hours each day then stops and more like every day all day in the rainforest. We had all sunny days, even at the volcano. The best part was spending 8 whole days uninterrupted with my hubby. We have such a great time together and this trip was nothing short of that.

I think that walking the beach each morning is the best way to get out and explore the raw culture of a country, no matter where you may be. Each morning brought something new for us and it just kept getting better! First off my husband discovered that our beach had jelly fish :)

No he wasn't hurt and no I did not have to pee on him. Nasty. But we saw plenty and depending on the day we saw hundreds or none. After a lot of Google searches we discovered the bottom photo is a Blue Button jelly fish. We encountered monkeys in their natural habitat almost every day and while I am terrified of spiders...I didn't see a one!! Yippee. Lots of lizards, frogs, and birds but all very harmless.

( I am not the idiot who tries to touch or capture wild animals so I wouldn't know if they were harmless or not). There was a trail next to our property at the RIU that people were talking about stating we had to go to the Monkey Bar. So we took the trail one day and if I could white knuckle my own hands, I sure was doing just that! I was freaked out. The thought of being on this trail, alone with lots of foreign animal scurrying about was freaky. I did give my hubby a good laugh that is for sure. I am usually the brave and confident one but after reading some crazy article in The Mens Journal about a man who went missing in the Costa Rican jungle, I was freaked. We finally reached the monkey Bar and it was just that. A bar that had a tree just across the street with several monkeys just chilling minding their own business. I later learned you are not supposed to smile at them because they show their teeth as a sign of agression...note to self for the next time.

On one of our last walks it was a Saturday and the locals had all come to the beach to enjoy their family time and we saw thousands of tiny fish had washed up on shore. The little children were collecting them in their toys and taking them back to their parents...something my child would do, although she would have it in her mouth! Birds were swooping down picking up these fish left and right as it was probably the easiest meal of their day. All of a sudden these 3 men ran out into the water throwing a string wrapped around a scrap piece of wood with a lure attached to it. They all reeled back in these huge fish like it was nothing! Incredible to see. I guess that was going to be their dinner that night.

It is those types of experiences you can not buy.

In my "older" age I love trying new things and foods. At our breakfast buffet there was this fruit with snot like seeds inside of it and whatever made me want to try it is beyond me but I am sure glad I did.

It turns out that I LOVE passion fruit and ate it every single morning. Convincing my husband to eat it after he tried it was another story :) See for yourself. Snot? or not?

Before we left I really wanted to do the Arenal volcano tour, so once we had a few relaxing days under our belts we booked the tour through a travel guide at the hotel. Gray line tours did a great job and I highly recommend them. It was about a 3.5 hour ride in a van there and back but you can't describe the experience unless you see it for yourself. Andย what else do you have to do the next day besides sit poolside and relax? Get up and go! You won't regret it.

That is what I had pictured Costa Rica looking like. Absolutely stunning. Our driver quickly pulled the van off to the side of the road or just stopped in the middle of the road several times for us to capture photos of monkeys, pizotes (as seen below), volcanoes, and of course a couple of selfies!

We selected the tour with the volcano, the rainforest hike, and the hot springs. The hike was more like a walk and not a hike. We are the dumb tourists and wore flip-flops but if we would've bought different shoes for this "hike" we would've been pissed. We were fine. Just remember your bug spray. I had read this in previous posts that mosquitos were bad. I led the pack, after the guide of course so he could take the first snake or spider bite :) Kidding. sort of.

Next stop was the hot springs. They took us to this hotel called The Springs Resort and Spa where of course the Bachelor had filmed and Sharon Stone happened to be walking into the spa as I was walking by...eeek! This place was breathtaking.

This is the view from their lobby, where I would've just sat for hours. The views, the springs, the people, the food....ahhhhh I want to go back. I think this would be a perfect place for couples or just a group of girls for a trip!

It is our tradition that when we stay at a RIU we must see the Michael Jackson show because it was the first one we saw together and it is so funny. Hard to believe that they can look and dance so much like him. So this is the Michael Jackson of Costa Rica :) Pretty good I would say.

So peace out Costa Rica until we meet again, if ever. Happy travels to all and if you have any comments of suggestions feel free to let me know or ask!! If I put every single detail it would be a book and if I wrote every single praise or fail I would be one of THOSE people :) Cheers!