Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Puerto Vallarta - Part 2

Here I am with a silly 'I can't believe that we are in Mexico' grin plastered on my face.

Note to self:
 Don't wear a polyester tank top, a polyester long sleeve shirt, pants, socks, and runners when arriving in Mexico ...

What was I thinking???
It was hot and humid and oh, did I mention hotWe weren't in moderate British Columbia, Fraser Valley temperatures any more.

It was about at that time, complete with permanent red-faced-Lori complexion, that someone on the shuttle bus bellowed out 'Let's make a Tim Horton's stop'.  We all giggled and settled into the ride to the resort hotel. 

For those interested, check out this web site of our  5* Riu Vallarta hotel:

I tried to snap a few pics as we weaved in and out of traffic.  Boy oh boy, do Mexicans ever slink by close to each other.  I was surprised when I looked down and I swear there was only about 8" between the bus and the next car.

Anyway ... one of the first sights of interest was this thatched roof.  Maybe constructed with palm leaves????  It was beautiful to me ... and we saw many like it throughout the week. 
*  Notice the Payless Car Rental sign ... English.  Smart move for attracting tourists arriving at the airport from Canada and the USA.

Well, as I mentioned earlier, there are many signs with the Spanish and English languages ... but many without.

Don't know exactly what this road sign says, but we passed it along the way.

At one of the red lights, and standing right on the center line ... not much more than 8" like I said before ... there stood a vendor peddling his wares.  See the flowers in the window?  You can't tell with this shot, but they were beautiful exotic flowers too.  
The bus driver ignored him and we sped onward.
Riu Vallarta is in a type of gated community about 25 minutes from the airport.  Inside the gate are many condos and hotel complexes.  Right away I felt safer that it had this little bit of extra security.

We arrived at about 6:00 pm ... if I can remember correctly ... I was still in a 'I can't believe that we are in Mexico' fog.
Here is a shot of our hotel lobby provided by Trip Advisor.  (Note:  I took many pictures, but I believe that I will supplement with a few borrowed pics.  Just a heads up)

Photos of Riu Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta
This photo of Riu Vallarta is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Beautiful tile floor, huge flower arrangement, open air ... no doors to the lobby ... just stunning.  I wondered at the fact that the ceiling lights were turned off.  Power outage?  No.  I figured out later that it is most probably to keep the heat factor to a minimum.  In the evening, when needed, they were turned on.  Oh, ceiling fans were twirling everywhere.  There were a lot of hand painted designs on the ceiling ... and walls.  Quite unique and Mexican.  
Get a load of this Customer Service Desk.  Intricate iron work, fantastic coffered ceilings.  Love the tufted purple circular bench in the center.  Probably 14 foot ceilings.  All open air.  Took my breath away.

And this was just the lobby.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Puerto Vallarta - Part 1

After months and months of silence, I have come back to the blogging world ... and to tell you the honest truth, I'm kinda excited about it.

April, May, and June of 2011 was busy with middle child's wedding preparations and STRESS.  Dreamer married Dan the Man and now live about 20 minutes away ... I will post about that grand event later.

July and August somehow didn't happen ... or at least didn't have anything contained in their days to bother posting about.  

But on September 1st, Hubby announces to me that he needs to take a week off.  All work and no play makes Hubby a dull boy.  I quickly research hotels and B&Bs in our beautiful province of British Columbia, and await the okay to book the locations I had found.  In what seemed like the last hour, we instead toss around the idea of  the possibility of an Alaskan cruise.

I remembered that one of our condo tenants is a travel agent by trade.  I send a quick email telling her the week we have free and the amount we would like to spend.   In lightening speed she fires an email back saying that there are no cruises to be found, but what about an all inclusive to Mexico?

Mexico?  Drugs ... and crime ... and kidnappings ... and the D-word that plays havoc with your intestinal tract?

"Are you kidding?" I asked.

She wasn't,
and in less than 24 hours we were booked to go to Puerto Vallarta
for the week of September 10th to 17th.

I purchased ear buds at the Dollar Store, and readied myself for the long ... almost 5 hour ... flight. I am not keen about heights, and flying is far from a fun time time for me.  But with free access to many TV stations on a little screen embedded in the back of the seat in front of you, the hours quickly flew ha ha) by.

Arriving in Puerto Vallarta was uneventful except for the fact that as soon as we exited the plane, security escorted us to buses parked outside the airport building.  Hmmmm we wondered, what was happening? ... The temperature inside the bus was easily in the high 30s and the humidity was unbelievable.  Only a few got to sit down, the rest stood for the 'rapid transit' ride to the baggage and customs area.  There we grab our bags off of the carousel and wait in the customs line.  I was pleasantly surprised that all signs had English on them as well as Spanish.

We had previously been informed by our travel agent about going through customs.  Customs in Mexico is a roll of the dice. Or more accurately, a push of the button. You will be asked to press a button connected to a little traffic light that will tell your future:  Green light, and you just walk through, or Red light and your bags are inspected.

Hubby pressed the ominous button, and upon it flashing 'green',
we were motioned to proceed to the exit.

Next was getting through the crowds of venders and time share people.  We had been warned about them.  They are indeed very aggressive and are quite difficult to ignore ... but we persisted and pushed and pulled our bags through the crowd through the doors and through to the outside.  There we spied our Sun Quest agents in bright red t-shirts.  We gave our names, they loaded our luggage, and we climbed aboard the hotel shuttle bus.

In minutes, we found ourselves rumbling down the streets of Mexico.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gmail Motion

It has been a long time since posting here at It's A Wonderful Life blog.  Life got in the way AGAIN.

Although not much of a personal post, check out this link for Gmail Motion.  It is the wave of the future for sure.  Not only has it been proved to be easy to learn, but it improves productivity at the computer AND increases physical activity.
That latter one is a definite plus especially for us bloggers.

I give it a big thumbs up.

After watching the short video presentation, click on the TRY GMAIL MOTION to check it out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

The ability to wait for something without excessive frustration
is a valuable character trait indeed

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago ... give or take a bit ... Genius asked out his girlfriend out for the first time.  They went to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  It's a wonder they were able to stick together and not lose each other in  the crowds ... but they managed and have now celebrated one year together.

For a memorable occasion, Genius took her to a lovely restaurant in Cloverdale called Elizabeth's Chalet for dinner.  As the pictures show, they dressed for the formal event to make it even more special.

From there the went to Granville Island and attended a play called "Almost, Maine".


They enjoyed it immensely and came back saying it was a winner.

All in all the evening was a great success and gave them memories to cherish.

Ain't love grand?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Ring is Missing

A few days after the Valentine's engagement, Dreamer was chopping vegetables for a casserole dish.  All was well with the world as she peeled, and chopped, and minced while adding to the casserole.

And then she screams ...
"Oh, no.  My ring is missing!"

*** Here I insert the fact that the ring was sized at 7 1/2 and Dreamer's finger is only a 6 1/2.  It's amazing how one size can make all the difference! ***

Meanwhile back in the drama of it all ... Johnnie-Girl flies down from the second floor office and 'us three' go into action trying to find the missing, less-than-a-week-old engagement ring.

Fortunately Dreamer remembers seeing it on her finger AT HOME IN THE KITCHEN while chopping the veg.  Fortunate, yes, as we had spent all that morning thrift store shopping and running one errand after another.

After about 10 minutes of frantic searching ... with much prayer for assistance from God Above, Johnnie-Girl miraculously fishes the ring out of the compost bucket.

Sticky and dirty and smelly ...
but the ring was found.
What a relief to Dreamer

Without a moment's hesitation she runs it up to her bedroom and places it in a secure place in her dresser drawer.
She comes back down to the kitchen and lays prostrate on the floor.
The last 10 minutes of her life had indeed paid its toll on her body.

As I type this post, Dreamer is on her way to the jeweler to have her ring sized down a notch.  I heard her say that she would rather lose a finger by having the ring too small than to go through losing the ring again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

She Said Yes

Well, a week has passed, but I was not allowed to share the news until now.

Last Monday ... yep it was Valentine's Day ... Dan the Man proposed to our daughter the Dreamer.

And she said Yes

The next few months ... they hope to tie the knot in May or June ... are going to be cRaZy ... to say the least.   With lots of fun thrown in too.

Stay tuned as I share with you 'what I can' of the wedding preparations.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Poisoned Cookies

Tonight Johnnie-Girl is going to see a movie with a bunch of fellow fun-loving young adults.  At their last 'get-together' it was reminisced how they had previously snuck an entire pie into the movie theater, divided it up onto plates and handed it out to their group.

Illegal ? - YES 
but also daring and wildly diabolical

In an attempt to continue tradition, Johnnie-Girl baked up a big batch of  contraband movie treats. 

And being a smart young thing, it soon dawned on her that cookies do not last very long in this household.  What's a girl to do?

A simply constructed warning  sign was soon atop the cookies

It worked like a charm ... but did have us all wondering ...

For those who dare here is the recipe that she used.  It has been modified slightly from the 'Company's Coming' cookbook entitled Cookies.

Oatmeal Chip Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup medium coconut

Cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time.  Add vanilla.

Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.  Bake in 350 F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes 5 dozen

Important Note:  The above mentioned cookies are POISON FREE

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Demetri Martin

Johnnie-Girl introduced me to the comedy of Demetri Martin on youtube.
Funny guy.
Mostly a genius dry wit, but sometimes a bit crude for my taste in comedy.
Worth a check out though ...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mooning Required

For the past few weeks I have been having great difficulty with a pinching pain in my right leg.  It starts in my 'behind' ... (can I use that word in a blog?) and circles around my leg and ends on the bottom of my foot.
Ouch Big Time
Through some internet research by myself, I believe that I am having trouble with my sciatic nerve.  Apparently it is the longest and widest nerve in the human body.

The pain is there when I sit, when I lay down, when I walk .... ouch ouch ouch ... and I can't seem to relieve it.  

Friends and hubby suggested that I visit a massage therapist.  And after putting it off for some time, I called this morning and luckily got in today.  The health clinic recommended not to see a massage therapist but rather a chiropractor.

Now the first and last time I have EVER gone to a chiropractor was about 30 years ago.  It was a scary and very painful experience.  Although I don't even remember why I went there then, I do remember the sheer pain and the cracking of bones ... my bones.

The receptionist I talked with today, however, assured me that times have changed.
With fear and trepidation, I enter the health clinic. 

The chiropractor is young ... about 35 ... but has a genuine smile.  He was gentle and apologized for any pain he gave me all while explaining that he WILL get me better.

For modesty sake he gave me a large pair of stretchy shorts to put on.  They helped to calm me down for the first while, but then he had to 'drop my drawers' exposing one 'cheek' to administer massage and then put on these electrodes (?) to stimulate the muscle.  The electrodes felt good and then bad and then good and then bad as it buzzed away.  Did I mention the need for a giant ice pack on my gluteus maximus?  It was an experience for sure.

I go back to see him on Monday.

Despite the mooning requirement, I want to get relief.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Best Western Heritage Inn

A couple of times during the year, hubby and I head about 10 or 15 minutes south and check in to the Best Western Heritage Inn in Bellingham, Washington.  For those of you that don't know, if you stay in the USA for 48 hours, you are permitted to bring $400 each worth of merchandise and not pay duty.  That equals big savings for us.
Because we crossed the border at 6:30 pm ... 3 hours AFTER we had hoped to cross ... we were rather peckish.  The extra 10 minutes to Bellingham seemed too far to travel before we could eat, so we drove up  and down the main street of the little town of Lynden.
It was Friday night
and we couldn't believe that the whole town was asleep!

But lucky for us, a strip mall had one shop open ... the Fairway Cafe.  If you are in the neighborhood, check it out.  Big portions and friendly service.

Lynden is a Dutch community and so it is no surprise to see windmills spotted here and there throughout the town.
This one is lighted up and acts as a landmark for the the mall area.

After a hearty meal, we drive a few more minutes south and find our hotel.  You would think that after the 10 or so times we have stayed  at this hotel, I would have taken pictures of the pretty heritage exterior ... but no ... completely forgot again.

There's always tomorrow.

Each room has a handy mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker.  We always bring bottled water while traveling and pick up a few items of fruit for snacks.  I like to keep things cold in the fridge.

 Of course the room features a big flat screen TV, and we checked out a few DVD from the check in desk.  They even supplied microwave popcorn to make movie watching that much more fun.

 Nice desk for your lap top with wireless connection.  Don't you love the picture on the wall?
Now there is grand entrance I would like in my home!

 The restroom was nice. 
We so enjoyed the large shower.
At some time they must have removed a dated bathtub and lined the area with tile.  Good idea.

And finally the personal toiletries.  Quality ones too.  Call me cheap ...  YOU'RE CHEAP ... but I take home the unused soaps and shampoos.  I keep a basket of such items at home to share with guests that forgot theirs.

Works for me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Accuquilt Studio

Today is February 2011.  Did I totally miss January?  I can't even remember December ....

As I hold on while the world continues to spin faster, today it dawns on me that I forgot to tell you about a Christmas present I received the middle of December.  Forgetting must be a old age thing ... But my present is totally state-of-the-art ...

I got an ...

Check out the tutorial videos on the AccuQuilt web site above, and you will be as wow-ed as I am.
In essence, it is a hand cranked cutting machine to accurately cut out classic quilt blocks
and cool quilt applique quickly and perfectly

 They have many different 'dies' available, and although they are fairly expensive,
they are well worth it

 I haven't taken any 'in action' photographs ... Accuquilt videos are much better anyway ... 
but in a nutshell you place your layers of fabric (up to ten layers with the Studio model),
 put a plastic sheet on top and then you crank it through the Studio in mere seconds.
Voila ... accurately cut blocks ready to sew ... and many have the dog ears cut off already!

For your information, they do instruct you to mark where the blades are on the dies with a Sharpie felt pen.  And although black works, the metallic silver makes the pattern pop out of the die
and thus helps in proper placement of your fabric.
The 'picks' are used to pick out the occasional thread trapped in the blade groove.
The Studio came with one,
but for $4 at a local hardware store I picked up complete set as a back up.

This is my latest die ... Can you believe a fast and easy way to make Prairie Points?!
I hope to show how this works one day in another post.

And although the Studio is a new addition to my sewing room,
I thought that I would share with you an old friend.
This 'pleasantly plump' little sewing companion has been on my sewing room shelf for years.
She inspires me!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chilliwack Car Wash

One of my favourite things
is going through a car wash
... I know ... weird, huh?

Simple things for
simple minds I guess

During a 'road trip' to Chilliwack, we found this carwash.  And because we found ourselves in a very dirty car, we followed the herd and entered the shoot.

 As  a side note, we ventured to Chilliwack to check out their thrift stores.
I had a list of stops, their addresses and a trusty GPS to get us there!

 We had about a 20 minute wait ... if you can believe it ... to get suds-ed
and so I snapped a few pictures to keep entertained

 Check this out ... Cloth Towel to wipe down the inside of your car
Armor All to nourish your interior dash et cetera
and Air Fresheners ... one vanilla scented
and the other New Car Scent ... CRAZY!

 We insert our credit card in the rusted out WashWorld payment machine

 We look on as the truck in front of  us vanishes in the mist and spray

 On a very cold winter January day, it is a wonder that we desire water to be any where near our vehicles.
I didn't get a picture, but there were icicles outside the car wash on other buildings

 Suds-ed down and then ... I lost interest in him

 Here is us when we entered the washing machine

Such cool patterns

Like watching a monsoon-type storm from the safety of your car

 And then the peace that follows a storm ... with the back-drop of the clear mountains

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