Thursday, December 31, 2009

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Everyone knows that Mike and I have a deep love for Punta Cana. It's where we first vacationed alone together in 2003, where we got engaged in 2004 and where we got married in 2006 (sorry, I know I have mentioned this before). We took a break from visiting because we went four years straight and decided to explore other places.  Although I heart Mexico, being back in Punta Cana has made me realize my true love for this place. Once we stepped off the plane, I felt like I was back home. The air, the ocean, the food, the people was a wave of familiarity that hit me hard.

During our Christmas vacation, we visited different parts of the coast and got to see some of the other areas besides all the resorts along the coast. It was a new experience for me and quite an eye-opener. Mike and I were thinking, "Hey, maybe we can live here". This week, we looked at real estate, specifically condo apartments and wondered, "What kind of business can we run if we decide to pick up and move?". I talked to my mom and stepdad about it and my stepdad put it into perspective - if we decide to get permanent residency in Punta Cana, then it won't be a vacation for us anymore, it would be our regular life.  -- hmmm, it would be kinda sweet to live in Punta Cana but we wouldn't be able to just lie around on the beach all day, we would have to work.

So, back to the usual routine in Toronto. Boring and uneventful, just waiting for the next vacation when we can soak up the sun and feel like we are at home again. What makes it special now is that we have friends who we can visit when we go. It will really feel like we are coming home.

If you are interested in visiting Punta Cana but would like to learn more about it, I highly recommend checking out Punta Cana TV. You willl learn a lot about this special place, I sure did.

Product Review: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner

I have been eyeing this creaseless shadow since my friend Pernia came for a visit earlier this year. I was at Sephora before she picked me up to go for bubble tea. She was complimenting me on my eye makeup which I applied myself (I have a habit of going to Sephora, taking off all my makeup and starting fresh by testing out potential purchases). The eye shadow I tried was Benefit's Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner (in skinny jeans). I put it in my mental list of "future purchases at Sephora" because I didn't really need to spend any money at that moment. Pernia, on the other hand, went and bought it the next day. I can't remember which shade she bought.

Well, yesterday, I finally ventured out of my condo and attempted to Boxing Day shop. I headed straight to Sephora to see what was left on sale. I did come across the cream shadow, 50 % off.  The shades available were Strut (smoky denim), Flatter Me (toasted mauve) and Tattle Tale (butter cream). I bought the first two for $12 each!!! I am so glad I waited. I love how smooth it goes on and how you can work it in if you want a more dramatic look. Bonus is you can also use it to line your lids. I don't know if every Sephora store has it on sale but I would run out and pick one up soon or go to the one at Square One (they have about 7-8 left).

[blarkness rating: 5 out of 5]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Survivor 20 - Here we go!!!

With Season 19 completed, I can't wait for Survivor 20 - Heroes vs. Villains. It all starts February 11, 2010. For all those who were fans before and gave up watching every single season, you should watch this upcoming one. It should be good!

Poo-tasties / Chocolate Haystacks


Back in 2005 at Occidental Grand Flamenco, I ate these delicious chocolate "things". We didn't know what they were called so Mike and I decided to call them "poo-tasties" (don't ask me why). These "poo-tasties" brought back memories of my childhood. I can't recall who made them for me or how they are made or even what they are properly called.


Then fast forward to 2009 at NH Real Arena, I found my "poo-tasties" at the lunch buffet on our last day. It made me trip!!!  When I saw them, I immediately put three on one plate, as I used another plate to get my lunch. I got back to the table and explained to Mike that I got three because they might all be eaten by the time I go up for seconds. Luckily, I was smart because when Mike went to get his food, he informed me that they were all gone.

 Here are the three poo-tasties from the resort

Here is my attempt at making poo-tasties 
(or my version of chocolate haystacks)

I have no idea what is in the poo-tasties that they make in the DR but chocolate haystacks consist of maybe chow mein noodles or cornflakes or oats or coconut. I made mine with 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, Special K and some shredded coconut. I ate a couple after they cooled down in the fridge and I have to say - they are quite tasty!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

OMFG - Nintendo DS is broken


I just finished playing my daily dose of Animal Crossing and proceeded to insert the game cartridge for Cooking Mama 3. I heard a crack, snap and a pop. I looked and the right side of the lid popped out!!!  It's cracked all around the right button. I can't believe this. Mike says it's because I play it too much.

I am devastated that my DS broke. Many of you may think...who cares, it's just a gaming device.  Well, this gaming device means a lot to me since it was given to me by my late brother. It was his. He lent it to me back in January 2007 and since I was so reluctant to give it back to him, he let me keep it and bought himself a new one. Ever since then, he has bought me Cooking Mama 1 & 2, Nintendogs, Cake Mania and many more. He also supplied me with endless games and even traded them in for me when I finished them. To me, I wanted this DS to last me forever because it meant that a piece of my brother was always with me. Technically, it still works, the lid will just be hanging off when I play it.

But something just dawned on me. I am holding on to electronic or materialistic things that belonged to my brother because I feel like if I hang on to them, I will still have a part of my brother with me. I realized this is very superficial of me. No matter what electronics die on me, it doesn't mean that I am growing further away from my brother. Those things don't matter because regardless of them, I will always hold a place in my heart for him. TV may stop working, Macbook may conk out, iPhone may reset, all that doesn't matter. It doesn't mean that I am losing bits of him. I will always have Gino and memories of him in my mind and heart and no gadgets can replace those.

Now with that said, I will look for a new DS (hopefully a cheap one) and retire the one that Gino gave me. I will put it with all of his other things I have kept. Gino - wherever you are, sorry I broke your DS. It has travelled with me everywhere and been with me always. I guess it's time for a new one. If you were still here and I told you about this, I know that in an hour you would be at my place with a new one.

Vaseline Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning Cream

My husband is a big fan of Vaseline's Cocoa Butter Lotion. While shopping for our recent trip to Punta Cana, we were out of luck in finding Banana Boat's Aloe Lotion (or gel) - it's our staple. After looking at all the body lotions, Mike picked out this deep conditioning cream. It works wonders after a long day in the sun and a hot shower. It is thick, and I mean really dense but once you are able to smooth it on your skin and rub it in, you begin to feel all the moisture soaking up. We use a whole tube in a week. There must be something with the ocean water, pool water or the water at the resort because our hair and skin looked fabulous and glowing (with the help of the cream) but now that we are back home to the dry air and cold wind, our skin is just not the same. We find the cream hard to rub on but it still provides lot of moisture. I plan to pick up more tubes to get us through the winter and then will switch back to the lotion in the summer.

[blarkness rating: 5 out of 5]

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's resolutions

I don't really believe in making resolutions but I still secretly make them in my head. I pick three things that I want to do in the new year and see what will happen but if nothing comes out of it, I won't beat myself up over it. Here are some of my resolutions:
  1. Continue to go to the gym - before leaving for Punta Cana, Mike and I started working out at our condo gym. I woke up daily at 5:30 am to workout and also on Friday nights at 10 pm. I hope to keep it up in the new year.
  2. Quit smoking - I was trying to quit before getting life insurance but then I realized that I loved smoking too much. I know that is a bad and disgusting habit so I will try to stop.
  3. Stop buying books until I read the pile that is sitting on the floor - I have the tendency to buy books and then not read them. I have a huge pile on the dining room floor just waiting to be read. I am going to promise to not buy anything until I go through the pile.
  4. Try not to get so upset and annoyed at work - my office has a bad vibe, there is no morale, no one cares about anyone and everyone is unhappy. In order to keep myself sane, I am going to try to go to work with a positive attitude and make the environment a place that is welcoming.
  5. Avoid becoming a hoarder - Mike is obsessed with the show Hoarders on A&E. I saw a few episodes even though it's painful to watch. Mike made a comment that he can see me becoming a hoarder (this is very disturbing). My mission is to go through all my stuff and weed out junk - my nightstand, magazines, stationary, cards, bills, DVDs, clothes, makeup, etc...The main task is the locker. I know I have bins in there that are filled with useless junk.
What are your New Years resolutions?

    Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Back from Punta Cana

    It's been two days since we have returned home and I am so upset to not be sitting on a beach. What a difference - it's so dark and dreary here and in Punta Cana, it's hot and sunny. Now I see why everyone heads south in the winter (birds and retired people), it's too depressing to be stuck in the cold (thank goodness there is no snow though).

    Our trip to Punta Cana was a good one. We were greeted once we step off the plane with warmth and sun. An instant picker-upper. Another bonus was NH Real Arena, the resort we booked at was amazing (thanks to Mike for picking it out).  I won't go into great detail about my review of the resort, I'll save that for another post or maybe the travel blog that Mike and I might start but here is a list of my likes and dislikes of the resort:

    1. Beach - I miss Bavaro beach - the powdery white sand that you can squish between your toes forever and the turquoise blue ocean
    2. Layout - the resort has 600+ rooms in two buildings on either side of the two pools. This resort is not big at all and everything is walking distance. I especially love the covered walkways. When it rains, you can still get to the lobby without getting soaked.
    3. Food - I got to eat what I was looking forward to eating - lots of fish, poo-tasties (this is what I call them but it's basically a chocolate haystack), paella, papa fritas (french fries) and nachos with salsa and guacamole, oh, and the little donuts!!!!
    4. Tanhtra rooftop bar - drinks, comfy beds, flashing lights and a guy lighting is ass on fire...pure entertainment.
    5. Modern look - before I use to like the hacienda villa type looking resorts but after being spoiled at Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya, I tend to lean towards the "W Hotel" look. The rooms are huge, there's lots of space and don't worry about the huge hole in the wall. It didn't seem to bother us. I love the modern look of this resort from he rattan/wicker furniture around the resort (at the bar, beach, pool, lobby and patio) to the pool area, it's just a cool look.
    1. Breakfast buffet - I expect a lot from breakfast. Don't ask me why because I don't even eat breakfast when I am at home. I was a bit disappointed when we first ate breakfast at the buffet. I found that it was a very small selection. We missed breakfast a lot but a little secret we found out was if you order room service for breakfast, it is much more appetizing and the bonus is, you can eat it on your balcony while you enjoy the view of the ocean. [Who am I kidding, I just said this because I couldn't think of anything to write]
    I honestly can't find anything negative about this resort. The staff is hard working and will do anything to please you. It is well-kept. There is free wifi in the lobby, numerous bars to get drinks, bathrooms everywhere you turn, lots of beach/pool chairs and tables, kid's club, bowling alley, elevators and so much more.

    Beach at NH Real Arena

    With this trip being our 5th time to Punta Cana, we finally decided to leave the resort (back in 2003 we went on an ATV excursion and went to Santo Domingo). We made it out to Punta Cana Beach (quiet and stunning) and Macao Beach (lots of waves for surfing). It was nice to see the south and north tip of the east coast, just enjoying the drive and seeing what is outside the resort.

    Mike and I at Punta Cana Beach - it's beautiful here

    Punta Cana Beach. No this is not a postcard, it's a real photo. 
    It's so different from Bavaro Beach.

    I would definitely recommend this resort to others. R&J, if you are planning to go away in February, you should consider this resort. Call us and we can explain why. To everyone else, check out our photos in Mike's Photo Gallery and comment on here if you want from info. It's back to reality now. Luggage is unpack, passport back in the drawer and until next time...the new researching begins for June.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Good Reads

    One of my favorite blogs, Ramblings of a Fab Brunette had a very cool widget for Good Reads. I checked it out some time ago but didn't have the time to really look through what you can do with on the website. Last night when I should have been packing, I finally signed up for an account. I put together my list of books I am currently reading, books I have read and books that I want to read. This site is a great tool to manage your books.  My BFF, Julie reads a lot and when I ask her to recommend a book, she always says, "I have tons of books but I can't remember which ones I liked". She signed up today and loves it!

    If you are an avid book read, I highly suggest signing up for an account.  Click here to check out my page. Now I have to get cracking and start reading more...