Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cabo San Lucas Vacation

This February, Andrew and I celebrated our honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Andrew's parents very generously gifted us with the vacation--and we had an amazing time!

After a long flight down, we arrived at the beautiful Club Cascadas, a time-share resort with several villas, two pools, a lovely beach front, tennis court, restaurant and cafe.

We stayed for seven nights, and our entire vacation was super low-key (just the way we like it!)  We got into our vacation routine pretty quickly and did the same thing every day!

Every morning, I woke up early (6am!) to reserve our palapa (little built-in umbrella structures made from palm leaves).  We were warned by my in-laws that the palapas went fast, and our fair skin definitely needed some shade from the Mexican sun.  I scooted down to the beach every morning (and saw the sunrise and moonset!) threw my flip-flops on a couple of lounge chairs, and we had a palapa for the day!

After heading back to bed for an hour or so, we would get up and Andrew would make a coffee run. After a little breakfast, it was down to the beach!

We slathered up with sunscreen (Andrew teased me for using SPF100 on my face, but I plan on aging gracefully, thankyouverymuch) and lounged in the sunshine.  It was warm, dry, and very comfortable.  We did a lot of reading (Hunger Games, Steve Jobs, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), napping and people watching.   I maybe did just-a-bit of eavesdropping on a family in nearby palapa.  Andrew was pretty amazed that within a few minutes, I knew who was who, the names of all of the children, and had a pretty good insight into the family dynamics going on. (The uncle was a real pain, let me tell you.) I know this is rude, but it's a dirty habit that I can't break!

After a few hours on the beach, we had a little lunch, usually just a short walk down the beach.  I pretty much insisted on guacamole everyday.

Post-lunch, it was a bit more beach time, and then we hit the courts for our 2 o'clock tennis match!  The Club had a little sign up at the front desk, and I usually reserved an afternoon slot to get a little exercise (after all that guac!) and have a little fun.

I loved playing tennis everyday and wish Andrew and I played more often.  It's a great workout, and  I think a little friendly competition is good for a relationship!

After tennis, it was time for our afternoon dip in the pool, complete with swim-up bar.  Frozen margarita? Yes, please.  We were on vacation, after all.

After our swim, we got showered and dressed and enjoyed some cocktails out on our balcony, along with a game of Gin Rummy.  (Have I mentioned that Club Cascadas has no TV or internet?  It was so nice to spend a week unplugged!)

Once the sun set, it was off to dinner.  Most nights, we enjoyed traditional Mexican cuisine. Our favorite spots: Hacienda, Mi Casa, and Maro's.

One night, we went on a little sunset cruise.  Andrew was happy to be out on the water after our deep-sea fishing trip didn't pan out due to boat troubles.

We were pretty early to bed every night, and then got up to do it all again the next day!  We had the most amazing, relaxing time and can't wait to go back!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Update

The grass has sprouted!

I found some pretty blooms at Winston's.

And picked up a few chocolate bunnies for good measure...

from Serenade Chocolatier in Brookline Village

I'm ready for Sunday.  Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Now that spring is upon us, it's time to feather the nest with a bit of spring cleaning!  Andrew and I are pretty good about doing a regular weekly cleaning of the apartment, along with periodic touchups throughout the workweek, so I reserve spring cleaning for the tasks that only get done every so often.  (Think washing the baseboards and vacuuming behind the sofa.  If you do these things on a regular basis, I am in awe of you.)  Here are some ideas to help make the process a little bit more lovely!

1. Stock up with your favorite cleaning supplies.

 Basic H2
I'm trying to be more mindful of the kind of cleaning products I use, avoiding harsh chemicals for both my own health (breathing those fumes can't be good) and for the earth!  Not only is the Basic H2 line non-toxic, you're not wasting any packaging by reusing your cleaning bottles again and again! This all-natural super-concentrate comes with three spray bottles.  Depending on the ratio of concentrate-to-water, you can make an all-purpose cleaner, degreaser, and window spray. The whole package (with concentrate and spray bottles) costs about $20 and it lasts a long time!  (I've had my concentrate for- I kid you not- two years, and I still have about 1/3 of it left!)

Also safe and non-toxic, the Method line of cleaning supplies is great!  I love the clementine and pink grapefruit scents.  And have you seen their new advertisements?  So cute!

I have a good stockpile under my kitchen sink of old towels and pieces of Andrew's raggedy undershirts to use as rags.  After I'm done cleaning, I'll throw them into the wash to re-use unless they're totally toast.  I'm still not completely off the paper towel train (especially for day-to-day kitchen wipe downs), but for big jobs, I'll pull out the rags!

2. Make a list.

Making a list always helps me prioritize tasks in a way that makes sense (rather than just diving in willy-nilly). Usually I take things task-by-task, rather than room by room.  For example, I vacuum every room, then mop every room, then do windows.  You get the picture.

The other bonus to a little list-making? It's oh-so-satifying to check things off as you go!  (Another note--- I usually put my initials next to tasks I've completed.  When Andrew sees I've scrubbed the bathtub, washed the windows, dusted the bookshelves and cleaned the oven, he's happy to pitch in with some vacuuming and mopping so I don't have to do it all.  Is this called a guilt trip? I don't care.)

3. Play some good music.

Mary Poppins was on to something. I do find "a song will move the job along"!

4. Open the windows.

The best bonus of spring cleaning is that you can finally open up the windows and let in a little fresh air.

5. Finish things off with some fresh flowers.

A little bouquet from Trader Joe's is a great treat for all your hard work!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Celebration

Andrew and I will be hosting our very first holiday ever!

While it will just be a small gathering with my parents, Andrew's brother, and a close friend, I'm so excited to host!

I've already started working on a centerpiece, planting some wheat grass over the weekend.  I hope it will be tall and green by April 8th! I've never planted it before, but everyone tells me it's so easy and grows in a snap! (I'm looking at you, Annie.)  On a related note, I'm starting a new science unit on plant adaptations with my fourth graders, so they're all growing their own batch in little milk cartons!

I stopped by Crate and Barrel and picked up some egg holders to create some floral arrangements like these that I spotted on Pinterest.

(from Martha Stewart)

They're so simple and sweet and I think they'll be just perfect placed around the Easter grass.  I still haven't figured out where to get my flowers and am hoping that some florist has some little, pretty blooms.

As for the food, we'll be featuring both some old favorites and some never-tried-before recipes.  The star of the show is my uncle Lee's famous brisket (a Sarah Moulton recipe) that we usually have on Christmas Eve.  I'll also be making this Crispy Potato Roast (another Pinterest find!)- that's super easy to make (make sure you have a sharp knife to slice those potatoes super-thin).

 (image via - recipe from Martha Stewart)
For new recipes, I'm going to make dates stuffed with Mahon cheese and wrapped with bacon (no recipe here- just tasted it as a sample at Whole Foods) and, for a starter, an asparagus and gruyere tarte (from Martha Stewart).  A simple green salad should round things out!

I still haven't nailed down dessert.  Perhaps this lemon curd and pistachio sundae?

 (image and recipe from Martha Stewart)

Or maybe just a simple fruit crisp?  We'll see!