Back and Jet-Lagged!

Oh, heyyyy!

I’m back…and I’m jet-lagged!

I told you I wanted to “unplug” for a while but what I didn’t tell you was that I was going to be unplugging while in Europe!

Last night we arrived home from a 12-day vacation to London (four days), Bruges (one day), and Paris (seven days). Holy cow I don’t even know how to recap this trip.

The palaces, the churches, the art, the food, the crepes (!), the people, the stinky metro, the views, the beauty, the history, the 60°F weather.

st.chapelle sacre coure  eiffel tower

french onion soupthe top of arc de triumph

 

There was so much beauty seen on this trip.

 

It may take me some time to gather all of the pictures and recap these amazing memories, because this was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

I am keeping it short and sweet for you all today; I really just wanted to say “hi” and let you all know what I was up to. As much as I loved being on vacation, I always enjoy coming home to family and friends and the comforts of home. I missed my normal American food. I missed my smoothies for sure! I missed my bed. But mostly I missed my family, friends, and puppy.

My body will be thankful once it is back on central time zone time, well-rested, and back to a clean whole-food diet! Waking up at 3:30 this morning with a cough and feeling like it was 9:30 am in Paris meant my body was ready to be awake = not enough sleep for me last night. But waaah waaah I was just on vaca for 12 days. I’m not complaining.

Oh, and one confession. I didn’t completely unplug. I did check facebook, read up on a few blogs, and check email in the evenings in the hotel however I tried SO hard not to participate in any FB, twitter, or Instagram action. Meaning, I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t hit like on all of your photos. So even though I didn’t 100% unplug, it was a huge disconnect compared to what I am used to. I didn’t have my phone with me at all during the day! 🙂

I missed you all! I hope you have all been well. What did I miss while I was gone?

Our Villa in Turks and Caicos and My First Video

Well after a full day of being home from vacation, I am feeling pretty settled. All of the laundry is done, clothes are all put away, the fridge is restocked, and the house is semi-organized. It feels good.

For some reason my appetite was totally off yesterday (Dana said the same thing too, actually). We didn’t have any groceries in the house when I woke up, so for breakfast I just scooped myself a big ol’ healthy scoop of peanut butter. It was more than what I wanted which was nothing, but I had an appointment to go to and errands to run, so I needed fuel.

When lunch time rolled around, I still wasn’t hungry, but munched on some carrots while I whipped up a huge smoothie. In the blender I threw strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kale, kefir, aloe vera juice , and a touch of water to help it all whirl.

smoothie

It was tasty and very filling, but I wasn’t in it like I usually am. I just ate it t nourish myself.

What I was craving was some comfy veggie soup, so I dug through the freezer and found my last bag of garden tomatoes and my last bag of bone broth and got to work.

garden tomatoes

In a large soup pot I sautéed onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in some coconut oil. Then I added savory spices, dried parsley, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper, followed by the thawed tomatoes and bone broth. Last I added in a bunch of chopped rutabaga (what I feel is the forgotten vegetable). I covered the pot and let it simmer for a good hour. At the end of the cooking time, I added in frozen peas and frozen green beans.

This soup was very similar to this veggie soup recipe I made a short while back.

It turned out fantastic! I had a bowl for dinner while watching the THREE hour finale of the Bachelor. Lucky for me living in central time, it was on from 7-10 pm so I didn’t have to stay up as late as you eastern timers. I was very shocked at his decision and admit I got pretty choked up over both the break-up and the proposal. They seem very happy together. Let’s just hope they stay together!

veggie soup

Moose was super pumped that mom and dad were home from Turks. He spent most of the day catching up on sleep and totally veggin’ out.

moose

When I see him after being away for some time, I am always blown away at just how big he is!

That was my little spurt of normal life; now back to recapping the Turks and Caicos vacation…today I want to show you where we stayed!

Our Villa in the Turks and Caicos

Upon arrival to the airport in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, we had to take a taxi to catch a ferry to get to North Caicos where our villa was. Unfortunately we missed the ferry by 10 minute and the next one wasn’t leaving for another two hours. So, we changed into our swimsuits and shorts and hung out at the pier while we waited.

I was so antsy and anxious to see our place and just relax, so inevitably the waiting time went by real slllooooowwww. But, alas the ferry arrived and we were transported to our island!

ferry tic

 

Upon arrival, we were greeted by another taxi driver, Mac, who brought us to our resort.

The resort we stayed at was JODO resort at Sandy Point on North Caicos, and I have nothing but incredible things to say about this place.

We were greeted by Mark, who manages the resort. He walked us through the villa and gave us some info, suggestions for things to do, and answered some of our questions. We were also greeted with a bottle of wine and a CD full of island music to get us feeling the island life.

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We unpacked, showered, and hit the hay early. We woke up nice and early the next day and were showered with sunshine! And so began our vacation!

The JODO resort has two homes; one is the main house and one is a guest house. We stayed in the guest house which was more than enough space for the two of us.

The front porch:

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The living room:

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I loved all of the vaulted ceilings.

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One of the bedrooms…(this bedroom had AC which was super nice for sleeping)

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Washer and dryer in the bathroom…

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The kitchen…which was fully stocked with everything you could ever need. We were so happy we were able to do all of our cooking (except a couple of meals) while we stayed there.

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The front entry way and steps that lead up to the second bedroom…

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The second bedroom which overlooks the ocean and opens up to a walk-out balcony…

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Here is the main villa…They are still in the process of finishing it up but it will soon be available to rent. This would be an awesome place to bring a bunch of friends.

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We sat in the front of the main house most evenings and watched many beautiful sunsets!

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They provided plenty of toys…stand up paddle boards (photos to come soon), kayaks, snorkel gear, water floaties, beach chairs, boogie board, an electric car, etc etc etc! Everything was so well thought out.

sup and kayak

nemo tci

We pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves which is something I have never experienced. I felt like we were VIP!

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The people of JODO were so accommodating and we felt so at home in our gorgeous villa. Everyone on the island was super friendly and welcoming. Our villa and the people over-exceeded my expectations. It was hard to say good-bye.

This is a very new place; we were only the third group to stay in the guest house. The main house should be open in a year or so. I really want to spread the word on this place because it is seriously so wonderful. They thought of everything!

We put together a little video of the villa to give you a better look. This is my very first video so please be kind! Enjoy!

Food and Drink in Turks and Caicos

I’m back! It feels SO good to be home after quite the incredible vacation to Turks and Caicos followed by a weekend in Colorado.

I don’t even know where to begin in recapping, but I have to start somewhere so I how about I tackle the food part?!

As I mentioned, while we were in Turks and Caicos we stayed in a villa complete with a full kitchen (serious reviews to come on this villa because it was extraordinary). We did all of our own cooking at our place and went out to eat only a few times.

I loved having our own kitchen and have decided that I prefer it over staying in an all-inclusive resort. Reasons: 1. We can eat whenever we want 2. It helps my digestive system to stay somewhat on track while away from home  3. I know exactly what’s going into my food and 4. I don’t have as many temptations (i.e.: millions of desserts).

We used my meal planning chart as a guide to help with packing food for the trip as well as meal ideas while we were away, and did a pretty good job of sticking to it.

Here come the food photos!

turks and caicos breakfast

We did our produce shopping at a little market near by. There were only a few small markets on our island but we were able to find everything on our list!

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Chicken caesar salad…

chicken caesar turks and caicos

Veggie and turkey bacon omelets…

eggs turks and caicos

Lentil taco salad…

lentil taco salad turks and caicos

My comfy tummy breakfast…

fruit turks and caicos

Homemade piña coladas with pineapple juice, coconut milk, and local rum…

pina colada turks and caicos

Freshly caught red snapper which Dana fileted for us…

red snapper turks and caicos

 

Grilled romaine with olive oil and grilled red snapper…

red snapper turks and caicos

One of our lunch’s out was at a beach called Mudjin. There was a very small menu (and nothing healthy to choose from) so we went with conch fritters and french fries…

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Romaine salad with carrots, quinoa, olive oil, salt and pepper…

salad turks and caicos

I’m thinking a full-on review is in order for one of the restaurants we went to called The Silver Palms. So, more on the restaurant later. The food was outstanding!

Dana and I split the conch stew….

conch stew turks and caicos

And the lobster tail…

lobster turks and caicos

Both of our dishes were so fresh, simple, and absolutely delectable.

I can’t forget to mention the homemade double chocolate cake with cream cheese chocolate frosting and homemade coconut ice cream on the side….

chocolate cake turks and caicos

My mouth watered just looking at that photo again!

We bought plantains which we drizzled with rum and olive oil and placed on the grill…

plantains turks and caicos

They were SO good!

On our last day we had to be out of our place by 10:00 am or so, and caught a ferry over to the main island Providenciales where the airport was, so we stopped at a beach restaurant for lunch. I ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad (I really didn’t get too creative there did I?) and Dana got the fish tacos.

chicken caesar salad turks and caicos

There you have it! Our vacation food in a nutshell. My belly did a pretty good job holding up to the food while we were away, however I am VERY happy to be home where I can really eat completely normal again.

I have so much more to catch you up on but this will have to do for now! I have mungo loads of laundry and unpacking to do.

I can’t wait to tell you more about our trip!

Hope your week is off to a great start! I missed you all!

 

From Turks and Caicos to Colorado

Greetings from Colorado! We are on the second part of our vacation; celebrating a family birthday out in Boulder. We have plans to go snow-shoeing or cross-county skiing today! A little bit of a change from our tropical Turks and Caicos getaway, but so fun!

I’m going to hold off on the recap post from Turks for now because I am typing on the iPad which takes me five years…BUT I just wanted to say hi and give you a couple of teaser photos until I’m able to a share more.

So here you go!

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I look forward to catching up more later! I hope everyone has been well! I’m off to explore beautiful Colorado!

Xoxo,

Melanie

What to Pack for a Caribbean Vacation

The moment has arrived…we are on our way to Turks and Caicos! I plan on taking a break from the computer this week but I still have a few posts that will be coming your way! So while I’m away, everyone behave. 🙂

As much as I love traveling, I always have the hardest time packing. I don’t want to over pack but I don’t want to under pack. The whole process turns into a bit of a fiasco and I wind up packing things I don’t need. You know what they say though, practice makes perfect. I guess we’ll just have to keep traveling in order for me to figure it out! 😉

Once again I did my best and packed what I thought was “necessary”, and I’ll find out very soon if I did a good job.

Lucky for us, the weather in Turks is 80’s during the day and mid to high 60’s in the evening, so we don’t have to pack warm clothes by any means. This means I can pack more light clothes! Kidding, I truly did try to be realistic packer.

Here is a list of items I put together that one should remember to pack when traveling to the Caribbean or any other tropical destination…

What to Pack for a Caribbean Vacation

1. Apparel

  • Swimsuits
  • Swimsuit cover-ups
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Workout type clothes
  • A few “nicer” outfits in case you go out to eat
  • One long-sleeve cardigan or shirt
  • Flip flops
  • Tennis shoes

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2. Sun protection and LOTS of it

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats

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3. Hygiene items

  • Safety kit (Neosporin, alcohol wipes, ibuprofen, tweezer, etc.)
  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Razors
  • Face wash
  • Body lotion
  • Bug spray (the bugs really like me unfortunately—I learned this from our trip to the Dominican)
  • Hairspray if needed
  • Hair dryer

3. Games and Entertainment

  • Card games
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Snorkel gear
  • Hand paddle ball
  • Nerf footballs
  • Music

books turks and caicos

snorkel turks and caicos

flippers turks and caicos

4. Miscellaneous

  • Camera
  • Camera charger
  • Underwater camera
  • Tri-pod or camera gorilla
  • Backpack for day trips
  • Garbage bags to keep inside of backpack dry on day trips that involve water
  • Beach bag
  • Zip-loc bags to bring snacks on day trips
  • Water bottles
  • Amenity kit for airplane–eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, lotion, antibacterial, ear plugs
  • Beach towels if not provided

bags turks and caicos underwater camera turks and caicos

I hope this helps at least one person out there who’s frantically trying to pack for a Caribbean getaway!

This is definitely just what I needed to do to make sure I had everything packed that I would need for this trip. We also packed food, and a lot of it. Watch for that post coming your way soon!

Check in with you later!

Food Photos Vacation Style

Happy Friday! Yay!

As you may know, I love food and I enjoy taking photos of my food. I decided to round up the rest of my food photos from my recent vaca to show some more of my eats while I was away.

Starting with our in flight breakfast of steel cut oats, fresh berries, and a bagel with jam.

In flight lunch…not my favorite chicken, not my favorite noodle dish, cooked veggies, an awesome greek salad, whole wheat roll, and cheesecake. I really enjoyed the salad and the bread, which ironically ended up being the theme the rest of the trip.

Some of my meals from our all-inclusive hotel, Celuisma, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. You may have seen a couple of these photos from my previous posts.

A lot of veggies….

Creamy oatmeal and fruit…

Awesome omelets made by one of the hotel’s wonderful chefs, “Sixto”.

Fajitas from the Mexican-themed restaurant.

Kabobs from Kokomo’s, which is their restaurant on the beach.

A few of the many desserts…

More veggies…

A fish called Mori from the Caribbean-themed restaurant…

Tasty fresh rolls and breads…

Rice and beans…

Black bean soup…

I didn’t take photos of all of my meals and realize I neglected to take one photo of my four pasta meals I had while I was there. Not very authentic I am aware, but they had a build your own pasta bar nearly every night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mmmm carbs. My body had to have been so confused with the changes in my diet. I loved every second of it.

That wraps up most of my vacation talk. Now that it has been almost a week since we came home, it’s back to reality! I need to start getting creative in the kitchen. I’ve been slackin’.

Have a great day!

Working Out on Vacation

Holy cow. Dinner last night was the bomb. Sautéed onions, black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, salsa, cheese, all topped with an over-easy egg. Oh my goodness. I just can’t explain how much I enjoyed this dinner. It was so easy and so healthy and protein packed.

For dessert I had Fage Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with maple syrup (unphotographed).

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I mentioned a couple of days ago that I managed to get workouts in on vacation one way or the other. Staying active is so important to me for so many reasons. I am a much more pleasant person to be around once I’ve gotten some activity in. Just because I am on vacation doesn’t mean I’m not going to move my body.

Three of our mornings in the Dominican, we laced up the old sneakers for runs along the beach. You cannot beat this view.

It was a good thing we had a beautifully scenic route because running in the sand is slightly torturous if you’re not used to it. Running two miles in the sand felt like running 6 miles on the pavement.  Because of the uneven surfaces of the sand, your body continues to be surprised each time you land, not knowing what it is going to need to adapt to next, which challenges different muscles.

Training on uneven surfaces (beach, trails, etc)  is actually highly recommended for runners because it does challenge your body so much and helps to develop other muscles that aren’t always the main focus in pavement running (not that I’m a running expert!). I was glad we were able to get a few runs in while we were away.

After I posted the above photo, I realized that Dana and I were wearing very similar outfits in a photo from our 15k race last summer.  How about that, right?

After our first sweaty run, we decided that wearing shirts was absolutely not a good idea because of the insane heat especially since we weren’t used to it. The rest of the runs were completed in this attire…

It helped cool me down but only by a little bit.

Two times we headed to the hotel’s gym. I am kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo of the quaint space, but did pull this one from their website to give you some idea of what we were working with. We warmed up with 5 minutes on the stationary bikes before hitting the weights. One day we focused on back, shoulders, and biceps, and the other we focused on chest, triceps (with some core work mixed in). It had what we needed!

I participated in beach aerobics one day. Can you find me? I am the palest gal out there (it was our first day of sun).

Went for walks on the beach every day.

And even got to swim and climb waterfalls on a Safari Tour one day which was extremely difficult and scary too!

Were my workouts on vacation as strenuous as workouts at home? No, definitely not. But seeing as I could have completely neglected workouts all together on this trip as some people chose to do, I feel pretty good about my activity level. Nobody wants crabby Melanie, especially not the husband, so getting physical activity in is a must.

Speaking of workouts, it’s time for one right now. Off I go! Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to MOVE!

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite ways to stay active while on vacation?