Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hi Friends! Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy Halloween! Please be safe tonight, especially if you are taking the kiddos Trick or Treating. We usually don't get Trick or Treaters (Boo!-pun intended :)) so I had my fun dressing up on Saturday night...but, that's not to say I won't have some candy corn tonight! Have fun! :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Halloween Grab Bag

It's hard to believe that Halloween is on Monday. That means most parties will commence this weekend. Yikes! Since we've been traveling a lot lately, we've managed to miss most of the Halloween parties we've been invited to. I had pretty much written off a Halloween costume for this year...that was until we decided to have some folks over this Saturday and attend the neighborhood Halloween block party. Not wanting to spend much on a costume at this late date, I made a mad dash to a few go-to places for some essentials.

First stop...Pier 1. I can always count on Pier 1 for fun finds, and as luck would have it, I found this super cute (and according to the husband, very appropriate...ummm, what's he trying to say?!?) headband for only $4.95! I thought it was perfect (even if it is appropriate), especially for the price!

The next stop was Sephora to pick up some fun makeup. A girl can always use a trip to Sephora, right?!? This was the perfect excuse! I found these awesome eyelashes by Make Up For Ever that are sassier than most and I love the glitter liner on them! They were $15 which some may say is a lot for eyelashes but, 1. I adore false eyelashes (most of my close friends know this!) and, 2. with New Year's Eve right around the corner, I'm sure to get several uses out of these. I also picked up some BareEssentials glittery eyeshadow in true gold and a beautiful red lipstick by Sephora.

All of these festive purchases paired with a few things from my closet: a black dress, fishnet tights, knee high boots, rhinestone hoop earrings and...Voila! A Halloween costume for less than 50 bucks! Not to mention the lashes, eyeshadow and lipstick are all things that I can use again.

If you're in the same situation this weekend, don't spend tons of money on a silly french maid costume that you most likely will only wear once. Look for things that you already have and add a few accessories to make it even more fabulous!

Happy Halloween, y'all! Have fun this weekend and be safe out there!

So, what's in your Halloween Grab Bag?  I'd love to hear your ideas! Feel free to leave your comments below. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 5

Yes, one more post from our adventures in Curacao. This is the fifth and final post. We had so many incredible experiences, I could go on posting up to 20 or more parts but all good things must come to an end, right?
With that being said, I wanted to share a few more experiences from Willemstad. Having grown up on the Georgia coast, I am fascinated by the sea and anything related to it. In Willemstad, there is a captivating pontoon bridge, named the Emma Bridge, that swings in and out when vessels need to pass through. The bridge connects two sides of the city divided by the sea. Pedestrians use the bridge all day long to get from one side to the other. It's actually a really busy footbridge! When we were in Curacao last year, we discovered Iguana Cafe, the perfect little oceanside eatery offering local fare and the best spot for watching the bridge. We made a stop at Iguana's again this year to watch the bridge at sunset. Since you really have to see the bridge in action to appreciate it, I took some video for you. Check it out below!

Here are a couple of still shots as well...

Tallest bridge in the Caribbean that is parallel to the Emma Bridge.
This is a view looking inland. 

Other noteworthy must-see places in Willemstad:
The GrillKing: This oceanside restaurant is the perfect destination for drinks, dinner and to watch the ships passing. Since Curacao is only 30 miles from Venezuela, there's a good chance you can see a thunderstorm in action over the Venezuelan coastline. We saw one both times we've been to dinner at The GrillKing. The menu is extensive and the portions are very generous! You can expect to find several choices including seafood, ribs, chicken and steaks. Be sure to sit oceanside and enjoy the scenery and the breeze. You won't be disappointed!

Turf Sampler: Ribs, Chicken, Pork and Sausage 
Red Snapper with Shrimp and Mussels in a delicious garlic sauce

Little Holland: If you are a cigar lover, this should be your number one stop in Willemstad. The selection is impressive and the prices are reasonable. The husband stopped here twice this trip! And for the ladies...they have some of the most beautiful hand embroidered linens...anything you can think of...table cloths, runners, napkins, place mats, name it and they have it! In addition, they also have ceramic collectibles from Holland as well as gifts and keepsakes. Oh, and they also have a sweet little cheese case with delicious cheeses from Holland. If you are into cheese (which I totally am!), you should really stop in and take a look.

Until next year, farewell Curacao! From wonderful food, unique people, fantastic shops, diving, snorkeling, sightseeing and even a Dutch vow renewal that we were invited to while there, we enjoyed our visit throughly! We can't wait to return to our Sweet Curacao! In the meantime, we will miss you! :(

Well, that concludes my Curacao posts. Have any questions? I'm happy to answer any you may have. Just leave a comment, just below my signature. As always, thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by Iguana Cafe, The GrillKing, Little Holland  or Curacao Tourism Board. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 4

We had so many great food experiences while in Curacao, I just had to give you another post involving food. We discovered this really cool open air market, similar to a food court, by talking to a local on the street in Willemstad. I took some video so you could fully experience this place without actually being there. Take a look...

We decided to eat at Grasia di Dios, which means Grace of God. This is where we were greeted by the sweetest Englishman named John Tweed. You see, John is a man of God and that translates into his business and his passion for good food. All of his employees are Christians and very open about it, which as a Christian myself, I really appreciated it. After talking with John for a bit, we finally decided on lunch. I had the conch with fried rice. It was to die for! The conch was cooked with butter, onions, celery and bell peppers. It was tender and oh-so delicious! The husband is in love with goat meat and decided to have the goat stoba with polenta. It, too, was tender and very good. You wouldn't even know it was goat. It's so much like beef, but better and leaner. You should try it sometime! Below are some pictures of our lunch. Enjoy!

Goat Stoba with Polenta

Conch with Fried Rice

Waiting for our lunch!

I promised John a good pic of his business name on the blog!

With John Tweed, the owner.

Hungry yet? If you ever visit Willemstad, please look up this little market and say hello to John. He's there everyday. We ended up making a mad dash to see him again for lunch before rushing to the airport for our flight home. He took great care of us and prepared our lunch on the fly so we didn't miss our flight. Thanks, John!

Up Next, more from Curacao! Stay tuned...

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by Grasia di Dios  or Curacao Tourism Board. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 3

You all know how much I love food and the husband loves it just as much. Lucky me! Because of that, food experiences are always a very big part of our travels. Curacao was no exception. In Curacao, we had some absolutely amazing and exotic food! All the restaurants we visited were wonderful but our very favorite place was Landhuis Misje, hands down. I stumbled upon this place on the internet with the help of TripAdvisor. Landhuis Misje is located in Westpunt, just a few minutes from where we were staying. It is literally a wide spot in the road. I adore places like this! So unassuming, yet so delightful. We walked in and instantly felt like we were dining in our best friend's back yard. This place is intimate, romantic and peaceful all wrapped up in one. The restaurant is basically a house with most of the interior comprised of the kitchen. There are no tables inside the house. All the tables are outside in the back yard or on a covered patio. Before heading out for dinner, we had an appetizer of local meats and cheeses and therefore didn't choose an appetizer at the restaurant. For starters, I had the homemade sangria, which was wonderful and the husband had an Amstel Bright Beer (a Dutch Caribbean beer only available in Southern Caribbean Islands). We had two rounds before dinner came as everyone on this island is on island time, which I love! :) I hate when meals are rushed. I love to linger! For dinner, I opted for the perfectly grilled shrimp in a spicy garlic pesto, accompanied by fresh green, red and yellow bell peppers, served with basmati rice. The pesto was so exotic and the ingredients were so fresh, the flavors jumped around in my mouth, creating a beautiful medley for my taste buds. I couldn't get enough! The husband had the evening special which was a goat stoba (very similar to a stew), with fresh veggies and herbs, served with coconut rice. This dish was equally delicious! For dessert, we went with the homemade flan, a recommendation from our sweet server. Delish! It was love at first bite, and we knew that we must come back before leaving Curacao. We made reservations that night for Friday evening. Photos from our first visit...

Our local meat and cheese plate with Pinot Noir before heading to dinner,
put together by the husband

Wide spot in the road

Goat Stoba Main Course

Grilled Shrimp Main Course

Flan Dessert

Back side of the restaurant/house

Happy Girl!

The second time we visited Landhuis Misje, we again had the homemade sangria and Amstel Bright Beer. Since we knew how delicious our dinner would be, we ate very little during the day so we could indulge! We started with Oxtail Stew which is listed on the menu as something you should "try before you die." The husband and I completely agree! It was like nothing I've ever had...hearty, tender and full of flavor. This oxtail was fresh from Argentina and is delivered weekly to the restaurant. We basically fought over it! In addition to the oxtail stew, we also had the bruschetta. It included simple ingredients that together, sparked an explosion of flavors. I will definitely try to duplicate it in my own kitchen.
For the main course, I had the Piska con Coco which was grouper and veggies cooked in a savory coconut and tomato sauce, served with coconut rice. In one word, it was: heavenly! The husband had the Keshi Yena, Version # 27. This dish consisted of oven baked pasta with tender beef stew, raisins, onion, garlic, thyme, gouda and pecorino cheeses. It was an excellent combination of flavors and very savory. He was only willing to part with one bite! ;)
For dessert, we tried the Nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream. With beautiful presentation, it was tremendous and the perfect conclusion to our meal. Before leaving, we spoke with the chef/owner who opened this great place just a year ago. She was very humble and grateful for our kind words. Our experiences at Landhuis Misje are ones I will not soon forget. When we return to Curacao, we will return to Landhuis Misje, without a doubt.
Pictures from our second visit...

Half way through the bruschetta, we realized we forgot to take a pic!

We also forgot to snap a pic of the oxtail stew before diving in...oopps!

Keshi Yena, Version #27

Piska con Coco Main Course

Nutella Crepe Dessert

With the Owner, Graciela

Landhuis Misje is only open Wednesday through Saturday. Only a few tables are available so I recommend making a reservation to ensure you get to experience this little jewel.  They have a website that allows you to make reservations directly with them.

Up next, Part 4: More Great Food Experiences! Stay tuned...
As always, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by Landhuis Misje or Curacao Tourism Board. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 2

Now for Part 2: On Tuesday in Curacao, we visited the very cool Ostrich Farm. This was an awesome experience! The Ostrich Farm is located just down the road from the Aloe Vera Plantation. It's easy to see both in one day (See earlier post: Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 1). Like the Aloe Vera Plantation, this farm is also 100% waste free. Very impressive. They have emus, ostriches, pigs, roosters, and crocodiles. These animals are all treated extremely well...probably better than you and I! We took the tour given by Alexander who was not only funny but also very knowledgable. We really enjoyed him! We saw ostriches of all ages, watched some brave Dutch people ride the ostriches, held an ostrich egg and even stood on an infertile one to demonstrate how strong and sturdy the shell is. Ostriches aren't the smartest animals out there but they sure are fun to play with! For your viewing pleasure, check out the video below. I had the opportunity to feed two young ostriches at the same time. I wasn't really sure what to expect but it was super fun, indeed! Clearly, they were more interested in the food than me! 

Our guide, Alexander. He was awesome!

Brave Dutchman riding one of the Ostriches!

Hey Buddy!

Standing on an infertile ostrich egg.

Holding the infertile ostrich egg. It was quite heavy!

This was a great way to spend the afternoon while taking a break from my beloved sunshine. It was truly an adventure, especially if you consider the almost head-on collision and the almost flat tire we got on the way. Thankfully, we found a run down tire shop just up the road from the Ostrich Farm and the owner was so kind to fill up our tires. I wanted to get out to take some better pictures but the husband didn't think it was a good idea. I snapped this quick pic from the car...

Random place where we were able to snag some air for the tires. 

Our rental car. They gave us a free upgrade...for an automatic.
I think the manual would have been better! 
This was before we left on our adventure. 

What a day! I hope you enjoyed this recap. As always, thanks for reading. 

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by the Aloe Vera Plantation, Ostrich Farm or Curacao Tourism Board. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 1

This week, the husband and I are vacationing in Curacao for the second consecutive year. We absolutely love this country and could not wait to get back! The people are friendly, helpful and just delightful to watch and interact with. Both times, we have stayed in a condo, rented a car, gone to the grocery store, etc., so as to get an authentic experience. Sure, we've done the all inclusive resorts in other countries but in Curacao, we like being amid the locals.

A little about this beautiful land: Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela. It's one of the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands, which all lie below the hurricane belt and are known as some of the best diving spots in the world. When in the capital city of Willemstad, you can actually see the coastline of Venezuela. Because it was a Dutch colony, up until October 10, 2010, there is a heavy European influence here which makes for an interesting culture. When we were here last summer, we kept seeing signs campaigning for independence from the Netherlands. We tried to keep up with their local news since our last visit to follow the outcome but since neither of us speak Dutch or Papiamento (the local language), we couldn't quite figure out the results. To our surprise, we just so happened to return on the anniversary week of their independence. The people here are so nice, they called it Curacao's First Birthday, not their Independence Day. I thought that was interesting and very non-confrontational! There have been celebrations all week and we have enjoyed watching and experiencing the culture.

Yesterday, we decided to take a break from the sun and do some sightseeing. When we were here last year, we packed in a great deal of sightseeing but there were still some things we missed. There is plenty to do on this sweet island! We took in the Aloe Vera Plantation and the Ostrich Farm. Both were interesting and worth the visit. At the Aloe Vera Plantation, we watched farmers harvest the Aloe by hand, and learned more about the unknown uses of the Aloe plant. I had no idea you can eat and drink aloe! I left with a burning desire to plant some back home in Atlanta! In the Caribbean, Aloe plants are also a sign of good luck...I definitely need to plant some! Our tour was given by a native Curacao lady who has lived her all her life, with the exception of a two year stint in North Carolina...random, I know! Check out some of the pictures below...
Peeling the first layer off the Aloe plant

Harvesting the Aloe gel. It's stringy like okra. Interesting fact: the aloe plant is part of the onion, leek, and garlic family.
You can tell by smelling it when it's first cut. I had no idea!

Check out the irrigation system. All the water used is recycled waste
that is purified and used for watering. 

Another shot of one of the fields

Up close and personal with an Aloe plant

Farmers harvesting the Aloe by hand

The Warehouse where the Aloe is peeled. This is the first and only piece of machinery the plants touch.
Mostly everything is done by hand here. 

One of many fields of Aloe plants

Yours Truly at the Aloe Plantation
This was a great experience! A truly holistic plantation. Nothing is wasted! They also sell a wide variety of Aloe products...just about anything you can think of. I asked and they do ship to the US. It takes about two weeks, with the exception of December for obvious reasons. We learned so much about the Aloe plant and it's uses. This plant really is the world's first aide kit. If you are ever in Curacao, I recommend visiting this plantation. You will love it!

Coming up next: Adventures at the Ostrich Farm. Stay tuned!
As always, thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by the Aloe Vera Plantation, Ostrich Farm or Curacao Tourism Board. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fun Fall Updates

Well, I think it's safe to say that fall is here. For those of you that know me or for those that have been reading this blog, you know that I have been fighting summer's departure tooth and nail. I'm a summer lovin' girl through and through (see earlier post: Autumn is Closing In...)! This time of year can always be a little tricky when it comes to wardrobe and domestic updates, which only fuels my burning denial of the season change. However, I've pretty much decided to embrace the season change because 1. there's nothing I can really do about it and 2. I still have one more tropical vacation on the books! :) With that being said, I went ahead and started updating my home for fall. 

I made a trip to Michael's and found some great gourds at half price that make an understated, yet classy centerpiece for the dining room table. I purchased two bags, a bag of small ones and a bag of large ones. A great centerpiece for only ten bucks!

I also thought it would be fun to make a fall wreath. I purchased a plain grapevine wreath, flowers, leaves, berries and ribbon and original fall wreath for less than 19 bucks!

The husband LOVES candy corn so I made sure to stock up! After filling all the candy dishes, there was a ton of candy corn left over. I channeled my inner domestic creativity and decided to use the candy corn for vase filler.  Check it out!

All in all, I guess I am a little excited about fall and the upcoming holiday season. I'm just always a little resistant at first! ;) How are you updating your home for the season? I'd love to hear your ideas!  Happy Fall, Y'all! :)