Where the Magic Happens

So we redid our master bedroom this weekend. Well, redid is probably too intense of a word for what actually happened. Really we just painted. But it took two days and it looks completely different so I believe that counts as being redone.

Here is the before!

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Before I moved into the condo, Evan lived here with Brotherman and their friend Ian, and Brotherman had the master bedroom, shown above (there are 3 bedrooms). Once they moved out and I moved in, Evan and I took it over. We have been meaning to paint the room since September and have been holding off on doing anything else to it until that happened. What was the point of getting new bedding and stuff when we were going to change the colour anyway? There have always been other priorities on the weekends though, so we just kept putting it off.

But along came Easter weekend, and well, voila.

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The after! Such an improvement!

I knew we wanted to paint it gray, and luckily Evan had the paint already so we didn’t even have to purchase it. Really lucked out there. We painted the walls gray, and we painted the trim (it hasn’t been put back on in the pictures yet, so ignore that), all the doors including the bathroom and the closet, and the ceiling white.

Before from another angle…

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After!

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The white door thing behind our bed Evan found on Kijiji. They are just closet doors that he put together and then secured to the wall to act as a headboard. He is a creative minx and I love it. He’s had it for a while, but I think it looks especially good now on the gray wall. The red design that is poking out of the before pictures is something Brotherman painted on the wall, and it worked really well with his room but not so great in ours.

We also replaced the red curtains with cordless white blinds from RONA.

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Which are awesome. They were over $100 at Home Depot but we found them at RONA for like $30, so that was a pretty sweet deal. We will probably add curtains as well. Thinking maybe white and yellow.

I also painted the black side tables white to match everything else.

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They’re not quite done yet, so ignore the black on the legs. I got these for like $14 a couple years ago from Ikea and I’m happy to report they are still going strong. I was planning on spray painting them, but then I had the white paint out anyway so I just got it done. It worked out surprisingly well.

And then the new yellow bedding, also from Ikea (recent, bought on Monday).

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I really love it! It’s a totally different room! Super quick and inexpensive reno and it was definitely a team effort between Evan and I. I actually really enjoyed the weekend painting with him.

I was worried Winnie wouldn’t be a fan because the giant fuzzy moose blanket that is usually on our bed, which is her favourite, doesn’t really go with the new decor so we took it out for now. But she is all over the yellow duvet cover.

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So her fur probably will be too with all the spring shedding. You just make sure your bum is clean before you get all up here, Winnie.

Easter Weekend

Hey ho! Happy belated Easter! Hope you guys had a good Easter weekend filled with all the good food, all the chocolate tinfoil eggs (and Mini Eggs and Cadbury creme eggs), family, and beautiful weather.

I am 3 out of 4. It was gorgeous outside all weekend and I am pretty sure that spring is finally here to stay, but I sadly did not get a chance to enjoy that. Evan and I spent Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday doing the family Easter things, and the rest of Sunday and Monday redoing our master bedroom (I am very lucky that every grown up job I have had has given us Monday off as well as Good Friday, even though it is technically only an official holiday for banks and government). I would have rather spent time outside instead of painting, since it was beautiful, but there will be many beautiful weekends and I was glad to take the time and get the painting done. We’ve been planning on doing it since I moved in in September, so that needed to happen. Anyway, more to come on that. First I want to talk about the Easter adventures.

Friday morning Evan and I packed up the truck, picked up Brotherman and Kelly, and headed to Belleville to spend Good Friday with Evan’s mom and nana. We stopped along the way at one of those awesome Asian bakeries that Evan introduced me to in the summer.

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#justeatrealcarbs ;)

Those may just look like plain buns, but each one has a sneaky surprise inside. The one on the top is bacon and onion, which is obvious, but some of them had a hot dog inside, or chicken salad, and barbecued pork.

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They are really, really good. Though they are VERY filling. I was full after my first one, but I soldiered on and we pretty much polished them off on the way up in the car. I was already half into my food coma when we arrived in Belleville and the Easter celebrating hadn’t even started yet. I only had a few hours to digest before this plate of deliciousness came my way.

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Ohh boy. I just need to take a moment here and say I LOVE EATING HOLIDAYS! And also, Evan’s nana makes the BEST curry. Seriously the best. There was meatball curry and chicken and potato curry and coconut rice and I could not get enough of it. Everything was so good. I have mentioned this before, but I love that Evan’s family embraces the curry dishes on holidays, as my family is more about the typical turkey and ham (which I do love very much, but it’s nice to try new things). Maybe I just love traditional family recipes, because I really do miss the Easters of yesteryear when we would spend them at my own nana’s and she would make cabbage rolls and pedaha (perogies).

It was also Evan’s nana’s birthday on Friday, so we followed that up with birthday cake and I had a few Creme eggs as well. We all just sat around the table talking and eating for about two hours and it was a really nice time. I have a lot of fun with Evan’s fam, and his nana especially makes me laugh hard. She has the best sayings, like “Tell the truth and shame the devil!”

We left on Saturday afternoon and made a quick stop to meet Evan’s dad and stepmom Loulou for coffee/Timbits at Tim Hortons. I asked Loulou how she was as soon as I saw her and she said “Ohh, not good, not good…” all dramatically, so I was immediately like “What?! Why? What happened?” and she said because her favourite blogger was slacking on blogging.

Oh I see how it is, Loulou. I promised her that I would step it up, so here I am stepping it up (HI LOULOU!!!).

That was a really nice visit as well and I didn’t take any pictures BUT… I do have a good one to share with you.

Remember this little chickie?

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Evan’s dad and Loulou hatched her from an incubator last year and she is not only all grown up now, she spent 21 days sitting on an egg, and last week hatched her own beautiful baby chick named Raisin.

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She looks like a proud mama, eh? (and a bit like the muppet Sam the Eagle?) Loulou says she is being an amazing mom.

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I never used to think chickens were cute, but that was before I spent time over at Evan’s dad’s residence, also known as the bird/donkey/pig farm. They are pret-ty adorable.

On the way home from Belleville we stopped at McDonald’s for Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry’s and that was just a big ol’ cup of disappointment. I mean, I ate the whole thing, but I didn’t love the experience. The chocolate in there was NOT Cadbudy Creme Egg chocolate. It was fake chocolate. I used to work at Dairy Queen when I was in school and I will tell you this. Dairy Queen would never pull that. DQ Blizzards that have chocolate bars in them have pieces of the ACTUAL chocolate bar in them (and I would know because I spent quite a lot of the time sneaking into the freezer to eat Reese’s PB Cups and Skor bars). Just wanted to let you know in case you’re hankering for a McFlurry. Stick to Oreo.

Sunday morning Evan and I prepped for the painting party and then headed over to see my beautiful nana!

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And she was just as sassy as ever. You know I have to remind you that she is turning the big 100 in just over two months (100!!!! She is incredible).

My dad and his sister, my auntie Nancy, were in attendance as well, so we all had a good Easter visit together.

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She is always so happy to see us.

Evan got in on the nana action too. We told her all about our recent Cuba trip and showed her all the pictures. She LOVED the dolphin pictures. She was just dying over them.

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I know all of our pictures of the nana recently look the same, of us on her bed with her. But that is where she is the most comfortable, even though she is still mobile, and is still going downstairs to the dining room for all her meals. Breakfast is still her favourite, and she was telling me that she loves to eat porridge and eggs and yorgurt and bananas every day (this is probably where I get my hefty appetite).

The biggest issue with Nana is she is very close to being 100% deaf. Her hearing hasn’t been great for a long time, and it has been very difficult to talk to her on the phone for the last two years or so (she still calls me at work anyway, and if I yell really loud she can hear me kind of…but forget trying to tell her any sort of phone number or postal code. You’ll be trying to tell her all day long).

But otherwise she is all good, still spry, still the most positive person I know, and at least she can see (her sister passed away when she was 96 and she was completely blind, so I think my nana has the advantage there. Deaf > blind).

We eventually made it home and spent the rest of the day painting. We stopped late, so making dinner was out of the question… So, SUSHI.

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Order-in sushi is the best. All kinds of delicious right there.

And those were the Easter activities.

And just one more photo to share with you, because it absolutely kills me…

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That is my good friend Dawn’s beautiful baby Scarlett. She likes the glasses already.

Weekend Eating + Workout Playlist

So the Cuba recapping is all done. Back to ye ol’ regular grind over here, meaning nothing too exciting has been going on.

This weekend was pretty low key. My friend Sherrie left for the Dominican on Sunday (am I allowed to be jealous even though I just came back from somewhere hot? because I am), and she has this tradition where she has a going away party whenever she leaves the country. So that’s what was going down on Friday night. I love a good friend gathering so I was all for that.

Evan and I stopped on the way for dinner at a Thai restaurant in my old Whitby neighbourhood called Sweet Basil Thai. I used to get takeout from there all the time and it was just as sweet as I remembered. I got the red curry chicken, which I can never seem to stray from.

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With coconut rice on the side. DELICIOUS. As you can see in the above picture my curry bowl is on top of another shallow decorative bowl, and my favourite way to eat curry is to put a few spoonfuls of rice on a separate plate and then spoon some curry on top, and then repeat. I thought that little half bowl would be perfect for that, so that’s what I did. Evan noticed this and said “I don’t think you are using that bowl correctly… I think it’s just for decoration.” I was very adamant though that the little dish was PERFECT for eating my curry the way I like. The server came over when we were finishing so I asked her if I used the serving bowl correctly and she immediately started laughing and said “No, I’ve never seen anyone eat out of that dish before. That’s why you have a side plate.”

Oh well. The dish was clean and adequate for getting curry into my mouth so that’s all that matters, right? We were really laughing about this.

We also got complimentary shrimp chips to start, which…tasted pretty shrimpy in chip form and I was not a huge lover of them.

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But I did love the peanut sauce it came with.

We eventually made it to Sherrie’s intimate gathering of about 8 people. It was REALLY fun. We played games all night and I laughed so hard I thought I was seriously in danger of having a heart attack. I took no pictures at all. Eventually everyone either left or went to bed and it was just Sherrie and I still up. We ended up staying up and talking until nearly 5am. I feel like I am still paying for that decision. My usual bedtime is around 10. I lived with Sherrie and her parents for a month about two years ago after a breakup and Sherrie and I would frequently have late night talks for hours, so it felt like old times.

On Saturday Evan and I had plans to visit Dawn and Mark and baby Scarlett, so we picked up Taco Bell for everyone and headed over around lunchtime. No pictures again, but it was a fun visit with them and the Taco Bell was pretty delicious. I got the taco supreme combo with soft tacos and it was so trashy and good. I haven’t had Taco Bell in YEARS.

We didn’t eat the most healthy dinner either… We came home and were both feeling lazy, so we got butter chicken and rice from an Indian takeout spot near us that Evan calls “Buddy’s Chicken.”

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Again, trashy and delicious.

Sunday was spent doing the usual groceries, laundry, etc. And we finally made dinner for ourselves. Stuffed green peppers (okay so those were purchased from the grocery store, but still a step up from the fast food we had been eating all weekend), steamed beets and salad with oil and vinegar.

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I felt like I ate crap for the majority of the weekend, so that was a nice change.

And that was my leisurely weekend.

I have still been trying to run a few days a week, and since the weather is still hit or miss (it’s snowing today, ahhhh!!!!) I have still been doing the mindless treadmill thing. Which means I need good tunes to run to, to distract myself from wanting to cut my legs off. Enter my Spring 2014 playlist!

Bad Blood - Bastille
Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons
Cardiac Arrest – Bad Suns
Come With Me Now – KONGOS
Coming Of Age – Foster The People
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Lightning Tent – Wildlife
Love Me Again – John Newman
Monster – Imagine Dragons
Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Sleeping With A Friend – Neon Trees
Speeches – Walk Off The Earth (okay so this was on my last playlist, but I still really love it)
The Walker – Fitz And The Tantrums (playlist highlight!)

Yin Yang – USS (also a playlist highlight!)

If you like, check out my playlists page!

Cuba: How was the food?

That is the first question people ask me about my Cuban vacation. And how was the food? Always asked skeptically. It’s a legit question. Cuban resorts do not have the best reputation as far as food goes. I have heard many horror stories of getting sick from the food, from my own friends (none of us got sick!). They also do not seem to have a lot of condiment options, sauces, spices, etc. I pretty much live for sauce, I eat things FOR the sauce, so I was concerned about this. I also heard a lot of stories about resort food not being fresh. Like using the same dinner dish in the buffet for lunch the next day, etc.

I feel bad snarking on the food in another country, especially when Cuba doesn’t receive a lot of imports from outside countries. Evan and I were reading about it when we got back, and I think their main trade partner is Venezuela. So they are limited. It’s not like North America where we have access to absolutely everything imaginable. I don’t want to get into the politics of it all because I am not educated enough about the situation there to go on about it, and trying to compare it makes me feel a bit like a greedy, glutinous North American. But of course, food is a very important part of vacation, and people want to know about it.

The food on our resort was good. It wasn’t GREAT. But it was good. There was a lot of variety and though some things were on the sketchy side I could always find something to eat that I enjoyed. I actually wish there were more traditional Cuban dishes, because the things that I did not enjoy were mainly the things they made to try to appeal to tourists (pasta for example). Before you read this please know that I am probably the least pickiest person on the planet. I will eat anything, try anything once, and I really only draw the line at chicken feet, pig snouts, and cow hooves.

Things that our Cuban resort did right:

1. Ice Cream.
Oh my God, the coconut ice cream was to die for. I had it twice a day, in a cone as a snack either before or after lunch from the ice cream guy behind the snack bar (who was AWESOME), and again in a bowl for dinner dessert. I loved it. I have a serious craving for coconut ice cream right now. I want it. I want it in my FACE.

2. Shortbread cookies
Our resort had these little shortbread cookies hanging around that were also conveniently located in the ice cream stand with the awesome ice cream guy, and in the buffet. And I would crush those delicious little cookies on top of my coconut ice cream to make the best dessert imaginable. Such a good combination.

3. Fruit
The fruit was very fresh and amazing.

4. Olives
Specifically green olives with pits. They were so good.

5. Smoothies
The lady who worked at the breakfast smoothie bar was my girl! She was there every day except for Friday (her day off) and I hit her up every day for a fresh fruit smoothie with banana, pineapple, papaya, and guava (which Kelly calls lotion fruit because it tastes like lotion, and I kind of have to agree with her). I feel like the smoothie lady was the one true Cuban friend I made. Well, and the guy who ran the pasta station.

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I enjoyed him, but I did not enjoy his pasta.

6. Hotdogs
I don’t know what was in the hotdogs…probably the same leftover bits that are in the hotdogs here. But they were good. Just ask Evan.

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He likey.

I ate a lot of eggs, beans and rice, chicken, pork, fruit, and salad.

So, the buffet. Breakfast was easy. They had an omelette station and eggs made to order, so that was all fine. Most of the time I got over easy eggs and the only day I got an omelette was the first day when I was loading up my plate with all the things.

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The French toast was REALLY good, I had it every day. Did not enjoy the sausage. At all. I stayed away from it the rest of the week. I also stayed away from dairy. I thought both the butter and the cheese had a funny taste. You know how milk tastes different depending on the season, or your location? It may have been that, but to me the butter and the cheese especially had an almost slight mildew taste… This was very disappointing for me because I LOVE cheese. It is my favourite food ever. EVER. End of story. Chapter ends.

So I just avoided it, but I was sad about it.

The bacon was interesting…it had some skin with coarse hair on it. Like bristle-y hair. Sometimes the pork did as well. I still ate it, but I was on the lookout for that.

I never went to the buffet for lunch (I always went to the snack bar or Cuban a la carte), but most of my dinners looked like this:

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The fresh vegetables were pretty much limited to lettuce, tomato and cucumber. I never saw celery, and all the carrots I saw were pickled, which was kind of weird. But that could be a culture thing also. Those green beans, corn and peas were definitely canned or frozen, but I don’t mind frozen vegetables and I LOVE canned green beans, so all good. That plate is much more healthy than what I was hoping to eat there. I wanted to load up my plate with everything in the buffet, but some things were just a bit off and I couldn’t do it.

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I had to abandon the above salad because of the yogurt dressing (I thought it was Ranch, but surprise no). I thought it would be a good idea at the time, but again, the dairy and that weird taste. I just didn’t trust it. Sometimes the buffet had oil and vinegar around so I went with that, but otherwise I was sans dressing.

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That was the best night in the buffet. Wednesday I think. For some reason they had more options than usual, just that night. I got turkey breast, pork and beef, and it was all very delicious. And I have to mention that I really liked the beef meatballs also.

This was my very first buffet dinner and I learned very quickly that no.

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I was SURE the pasta bar was going to be my best friend, but the tomato sauce was just…like a tomato paste. No spices or anything. So I stuck with the beans and rice.

Our resort had a few a la carte restaurants, but we all only went one night since you had to make reservations and it was difficult to coordinate with the kiddos. Evan and I had reso’s for the Italian restaurant one night, but they were for 6pm and I wasn’t ready to leave the beach yet!

We all ate together every night in the buffet, and the one a la carte we made it to was the seafood restaurant.

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Just a big family dinner.

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I started with a fruit salad…

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And then an actual salad…

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Those green tomatoes were GOOD. Not so much the pickled carrots, but what can ya do?

I followed that with soup, like a creamy vegetable chicken soup, with croutons, and it was surprisingly really good.

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And then LOBSTER!

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It was not quite as good as the lobster we had at the dolphinarium, but it was still pretty good and a nice change from the buffet. Of course coconut ice cream followed this. Coconut ice cream followed every dinner.

The seafood restaurant had a really great atmosphere and it was right on the beach, so pretty beautiful views as well.

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Evan and I did also hit up the a la carte Cuban restaurant, El Guayabero, for lunch on two separate occasions. It was also right beside the beach, so it was very handy to just walk over in our beach garb and grab a quick lunch.

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It was definitely a step up from the buffet and I would say we had the best meals of our entire week there.

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The first time I started with the fresh fruit salad, which included pineapple, grapefruit, papaya and lotion fruit.

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And Evan and I shared the spaghetti also…

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Which was not great due to the same sauce issues…but it was alright. The amazing chicken made up for it though!

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That chicken was actually cooked with garlic under the skin, so that was a pleasant surprise. I loved it.

The next time we went there I started with a fresh salad.

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The salads there are not exactly what we’re used to, but they do the trick. Notice again the pickled carrots.

And again I had a really great main dish.

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Pork steak! SO GOOD. So amazingly good. Evan ordered the same and we were both raving about it. And their fries were great as well. Again, just ask Evan.

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He likey.

You could get fries in the snack bar near the beach 24 hours a day, so I had a lot of those. Their Ketchup was much like their tomato sauce so I was not a fan, but luckily we brought our own from home.

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Yeah I like fries with my Ketchup. We brought our own hot sauce also. I would recommend bringing both Ketchup and hot sauce if you’re going to Cuba. Trust me, you’ll use them. I might even bring my own salad dressing next time.

The snack bar also had hamburgers, hot dogs, and Roberto’s pizza at all hours!

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I had many a personal pizza on the beach. That was my first one, and from then on I got them without cheese. It didn’t taste quite like the pizza here, but it was still good.

So that was the food. Not totally blow-me-away amazing, but not too shabby at all. I’m actually kind of glad that everything wasn’t crazy good, because I would have eaten about twice more than I did and I would have come back and my pants wouldn’t fit. But I only gained about two pounds and I am pretty sure I can thank the alcohol for that. Because THAT was delicious. Pina coladas, mojitos, the Brisas cocktail, all the rum, Bucanero (beer), all day every day. Just living the dream.

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If you’ve been to Cuba, how was the food at your resort?

Evan’s mom recently went to Cuba, to a Spanish-owned the resort so they had more varieties of food, and she said the food was AMAZING!

Resort Shenanigans

Hola!

So I am stilllll dragging out the Cuba trip. Sorry. Just a few more resort adventures I want to talk about and then the food and I’m all done. Don’t worry, nothing else exciting has been happening here over the last week or so, so you’re not missing anything. Annnnd once I’m done with the recapping I’ll probably go back to having not much to talk about.

Anyway, the majority of vacation time was spent at the resort, with Evan and Brotherman and the family. Definitely a lot more low key than my Jamaican vacation… In Jamaica I remember drinking all day and then partying until 3am, with nary a nap in the mix. I am really not sure how I did that. This vacation was not exactly like that…but that is okay! We had some fun family times. I really loved having the kids around. They were super fun, especially on the beach and in the pool.

Typical resort day looked like this: Wake up, roll out of bed and into my bathing suit + cover up and hit up the buffet with Evan to meet Brotherman, Kelly and the family for breakfast. Be at the beach by 10am, pina colada in hand. Bury Carson in the sand.

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Beach around until noon-ish. Break for snack (coconut ice cream). Beach around until 2ish. Break for lunch. Beach around until 6ish. Go back to room, shower, get ready for dinner. Go to Havana Club to meet up with the family for a drink before dinner.

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Drink all the rum.

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Eat dinner. Go back to beach bar for drinks and entertainment by the pool.

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Usually be in bed by 11. Repeat.

Sometimes we would switch it up and hit up the villa pool in the afternoon, or go on market adventures, but we all tried to stay on the beach as much as possible because it was just so beautiful, and for most of the time we were there the weather was perfect.

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Ridiculous, right?

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Brotherman and Carson

I need to tell you that Carson makes me laugh really hard. He was carrying around this little Canadian flag pillow that had a happy face drawn on it, and it was basically the Most Interesting Pillow in the World. When we were talking about swimming with dolphins, Carson said “Pillow swims with dolphins 10 times a year.” Oh really. Pillow is apparently 40 hundred 5 hundred thousand 40 million and 82 and a half years old. When Kelly asked Carson if he knew where Pillow went to school, Carson paused and then said “Pillow doesn’t go to school… Pillow goes to WORK,” which, I guess you maybe had to be there, but the way he emphasized “WORK” made me laugh for about half an hour.

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Carson with the sweet truck he scored in the market.

Carson and I really enjoyed laying around in the surf and and letting the waves push us up onto the beach.

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They were pretty intense, and it was a lot more fun than it sounds…

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As you can see. This made Carson just die laughing. He wanted to do this for hours.

If you stood at the shore long enough the water would recede and it would be like quicksand.

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Trouble in paradise.

Little Victoria was also a really good time on the beach. She is insanely cute.

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Victoria seems to have napping down pretty well.

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

That is the life right there.

We made a lot of sandcastles. And sand villages.

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One day Evan and I were walking along the beach and we came across a little crab.

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He was really hilarious, because he would try to sneakily hide himself in the sand by throwing sand all over himself with his claws.

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And we were all “Nice try, but we can still see you…” A group of older men came over to see what we were looking at, so we showed them the crab and then they formed a circle around him and started kicking sand all over him and laughing like maniacs! They wouldn’t leave him alone. Such bullies. I wish we didn’t show them the crab in the first place.

Sometimes in the afternoon we would head over to the swim up bar at the villa pool. Usually by Carson’s request (the pool was Carson’s request, not the bar).

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Carson calls Brotherman “Uncle” or sometimes “Buncle” (which makes me laugh), so he likes to call Evan “Uncle Brother.”

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When we were at the cottage in the summer, he was trying to figure out my relation to the family and what to call me, so he called me “Uncle Brother Daughter.” Umm, not quite. Not quite. But he seems to have figured it out now and just calls me Lindsey.

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Which is correct.

One evening we were at the beach bar after dinner and they seemed to be setting up for karaoke.

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I really, really like karaoke. Not because I’m a good singer (I’m not), but I think I might enjoy making a fool of myself. Really I just enjoy singing very loudly and very ridiculously. I would never, ever pick a serious song and attempt to sing it well (because I can not sing seriously anywhere but my shower or my car), so my game plan is always to pick an entertaining song that I know all the words to, and sing it funny. Laugh and the world laughs with you. It’s always good to be the first to make fun of yourself.

Anyway, I debated making Evan sign up with me and singing a duet of Total Eclipse of the Heart, but in the end I sang solo to Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams. I got really into it.

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And there was honestly a huge audience and I was kind of nervous, but then I just embraced being ridiculous. There is quite a long guitar solo in that song and I didn’t really know what to do for that, but my adrenaline was pumpin’ so I busted out the dance floor air guitar. Always a hit. I was pretty proud of my performance, even if it was followed by a fine older gent who sang Sweet Caroline which is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser

The next night I was getting a drink at the beach bar and this 60+ year old man from Montreal was all “Wait a minute, I remember you! You sang Summer of 69 last night! THAT WAS THE GREATEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!!!! You are a true entertainer! You should be singing here every night!” And then to the bartender “You need this girl in your entertainment lineup!” so I was feeling pretty proud of myself, I cannot lie. I may have curtsied. That is kind of the reaction I was hoping to get. I just like to make people laugh.

I think that is basically it. Just a lot of relaxing time otherwise. It was a very good vacation with these three:

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And these guys:

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And can you guess what is happening here?

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Because I don’t really know either.

Scooter Touring + Tourist Market

Evan and I had a few other off-resort adventures that were a lot less structured than the catamaran trip. It was pretty much us just wandering around and checking out the area. I don’t know when I’ll be back to Cuba, so I wanted to explore a bit and see some culture. I still don’t feel like I saw enough, but, next time.

The coolest thing we did was rent this sweet scooter from our resort.

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Only 13 pesos for two hours! The convertable peso is nearly on par with the Canadian dollar so it was about $13. Not too bad at all. We did have to fill it with gas, but it was like 4 pesos, so not too bad either. We filled that sucker up and were on our way.

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We drove the scooter all along the countryside and through two different local towns. And I have to say that my mediocre-travelled soul found it very eye opening and enlightening to see how people live.

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We saw houses ranging from the thatched roof variety…

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To basic structures with no windows or doors.

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To more elaborate two storey houses that look more like what we are used to in North America…

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To apartment buildings…

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Evan actually lived in Trinidad for about two and a half years (and worked for an ad agency! I know, he is so worldly and cultured) and he said that it was quite similar there. Structures ranging from the very basic, to the elaborate, with a lot of fluorescent porch lighting and window slats. It made me wonder, could I live like this? I mean, I did grow up in the middle of nowhere in a house that was basically a cottage, so maybe yes I could. But why is our own culture so obsessed with having the biggest nicest houses, with the perfect yard, and stainless steel appliances and granite countertops and master bedroom ensuites and all the fancy things? I think there is something to be said for living a simpler life. The people that I met all seemed incredibly happy. Do they care how many bedrooms their neighbour has? Or what kind of tile is in their bathroom? It kind of makes me want to move to a beach hut somewhere. Maybe not Cuba because I’m not sure I could live with certain things (government censorship, Communism, etc), but it is interesting how different things are depending on where you live in the world. Man, I really need to do more traveling.

Welp, that’s my deep thought for the day. Moving on. Driving through the towns was a really cool experience.

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There were many scooters on the roads, many cars as well, and a TON of horse and buggies in our area.

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I’m not sure if that is typical or just because where we were is so touristy and tourists eat that right up.

As we were driving on one of the country roads, I waved to a family sitting outside of a house and they waved back like “Come on over!!!” and looking back I regret not stopping. I would have loved to talk to them, and because I am nosy I wonder if they would have showed us around inside.

We did stop in the town a bit closer to our resort as we had some extra time left…

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And in the below picture that tent behind me is a snack bar, or maybe just beer bar, where some locals were having a drink. So we went over and I got a cerveza.

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I really wish I made better friends with the locals so I could ask them more questions about their life. But I felt weird being like “Hi there, tell me how you live” anytime I did talk to anyone. It was mainly just small talk. I did notice that many people were dressed very well. They would come out of a simple house wearing high heels and designer duds (designer looking, anyway) and well, whatever floats your boat, but if I lived there I would probably be dressed for the beach the entire time (Evan again said he noticed Trinidad was like this).

Eventually we headed back to our resort and we could not stop talking about how glad we were that we did that. It was a good time.

Earlier in the week we rented some bicycles from our resort for free and biked over to the local market.

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They were not exactly quality bikes and they were the kind that to brake you had to pedal backwards, so they took some getting used to.

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But we figured it out, and neither of us went over the handlebars, so that’s a win. The market was just off another resort near ours, Club Amigo, and you can also walk there from our beach, which is a LOT quicker than the road. But we did not know this at the time. Anyway, we got there, and the market was pretty cool.

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I actually felt a lot safer there than I did at the market I went to in Jamaica outside of Montego Bay. I was not hassled NEARLY as much, and no one tried to convince me to go into the back of their shop with them to “look at something”. When we had the bikes with us we ended up leaving them with some locals running a booth and I felt completely safe doing that. I found the people to be super friendly and talkative.

And they had some hot items!

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Lots of hand carved wood, and lots of leather.

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We ended up visiting the market a few times during our week there, and we got some pretty awesome souvenirs. There were a ton of carved cars also, because you know Cuba is about the old cars!

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There were old cars everywhere, mostly taxis.

The market also had a snack stand, where you could get beer, and there were some people wandering around selling various food items. Like this “cookie”.

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Which was not a cookie at all, but it was quite good.

We also checked out the public beach that was near the market, the Guardalavaca beach.

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I did see quite a few local people enjoying this beach, which made me happy because I like to see people enjoying their own country. You could also walk to this beach from our resort beach and it only took about 15 minutes or so. On the day we rented our scooter we had some time to kill while we waited for the scooter rental ladies to get back from their lunch, so we kept walking along the beach to this big rock area along the shore.

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There were all these random staircases that didn’t really lead to anything so it makes me wonder what used to be there.

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We did find a path that led over to a couple of restaurants.

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We did not eat there, and looking back I wish we did just to check it out… But we figured the food would be similar to what we were eating on the resort and we’d have to pay for it. I bet it would have been an experience though. We did talk to one of the owners for a while.

And that’s that. Just leisurely resort happenings left to tell you about, and of course the food!