First I Drink the Coffee, Then I Do the Things

If I had to pick a favorite morning ritual, unfortunately it wouldn’t be a trip to the gym, or waking up and enjoying a nice hot shower, or sitting down and reading the daily news.  In my little world there is no question that a proper morning cannot begin without a creamy, delicious cup of hot coffee. Bonus points are awarded if I’m sipping it outside on a balcony somewhere, and double bonus points if there’s a water view involved. 😉

20180729_074609There’s just something about that first taste… that warmth that travels to my stomach & awakens my brain.  I look forward to it each & every day, from the moment I open my eyes.  Lately, I even find myself getting up extra early so I can savor my quiet cup before anyone in the house has begun to stir.  I head out to the upstairs deck off my bedroom, where I slowly awaken in a perfectly arranged little sitting area that has become my haven.

Not only is the coffee itself precious, but the perfect mug or cup enhances the experience as well.  I prefer one on the lager side, with a comfortable handle & a sturdy bottom.  I love finding cute quotes, beautiful pics or something that makes me laugh.  My son has added a few to my collection, making me a very happy mom in the morning.

 

IMG_20161115_084712If addition to the perfect brew & the appropriate cup, location is what really seals the deal. My absolute favorite spot is sitting on a cruise ship balcony, watching the sun come up, surrounded by an aqua blue sea – there is simply nothing better.  Second prize goes to a hotel balcony, looking out at the beach or a cool city view.  But my own little deck does the job as well – providing a peaceful place for me to begin my day.


I don’t recall my parents being overly-dependent on coffee while I was growing up, but I do remember my grandparents’ unbroken morning ritual. I would wake to the sounds & smells of my grandmother’s percolator chugging away… a symphony that would bring their morning to life. To this day, that rhythmic sound surrounds me in warm memories of the times I spent in their many homes, in addition to various hotel rooms, as my grandmother never left home without that pot!

IMG_20180611_091210_029My coffee life began with a very basic automatic drip machine and was eventually replaced with one of the best inventions ever… the Keurig. I can’t tell you the number of times that efficient little device has saved my sanity in the morning!  When I feel fancy, I whip out my French Press, but these days I’ve simply been using the Keurig’s hot water feature to concoct my beloved, Keto Coffee – an actual instant mixture of ground French robusto beans, MCTs oils, grass-fed butter & a dose of collagen, which I blend with heavy whipping cream, cinnamon & a dash of turmeric.  It sounds elaborate, but is really quite simple and the rich creamy taste satisfies like no other.

IMG_20180523_211556_438I usually enjoy just that one cup in the morning, with a possible second if I have the time. Every once in a while I’ll grab a cappuccino in the afternoon from my local Cafe Volan, or a decaf after dinner to settle a particularly heavy meal.  I’m one of those people with a fairly high sensitivity to caffeine, so my “cut-off” time falls roughly around 3pm or I’ll find myself staring at the ceiling at 3am, contemplating all the world’s problems.

I’m enjoying my faithful cup right now as I write this, and am slowly gaining the strength to face the day.  I’m thankful for these quiet morning moments… and hope that everyone who appreciates this delightful brew is savoring every sip!

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Don’t Forget Facebook!

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I haven’t been neglecting my blog on purpose, I’ve just been finding it easier to post little snippets directly on Facebook lately!  Recipes, articles, travel tips & recommendations can all be found there, when I’m not on here!  So please “Like, Follow & Share” my Facebook page, Trips and Tastes and be sure to check out all my pics on Instagram as well!

Thanks for the love!

All-Inclusives… Yay or Nay?

20170801_063332I was inspired this morning by this great list of all-inclusive resorts published by Caribbean Journal. Some I have visited before & some have been on my bucket list for quite some time. I’m a huge fan of the all-inclusive concept & have been checking them out regularly since 1998 with our 1st trip to Sandals 🙂 They’re certainly not for everyone, but the ease with which they operate, and all they have to offer, makes them a no-brainer in my book.

Sandals Royal BahamianI’ve been to Sandals, Beaches, Excellence, Melia, Iberostar & several other all-inclusive chains, big and small. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the more laid back, less cookie-cutter resorts, without an overwhelming number of activities or the invigorating “party” atmosphere. It could just be that I’m getting old, but I like to think at this point in life, I’m more than capable of entertaining myself… lol. Don’t get me wrong, I always love some local, live music in the evening & I’ll never pass up a good snorkeling or boating excursion. But usually I’m just there to relax, read my book on the beach, do a little sightseeing & enjoy a delicious meal each night!

The beauty of an all-inclusive (AI) lies in its simplicity… one-stop-shopping if you will. Pick your resort & then enjoy everything a small beachside village would have to offer, without ever having to leave the property. You’ll have the option of fine dining from all nationalities, shops, a beautiful spa, a gym, a water sports center & more. Easy peasy.

Pineapple Beach Club

Perfect local entertainment!

With that said, it becomes more a matter of personal preference when selecting the perfect AI. For me, it’s all about the beach & the food. I don’t need a super luxurious room, a fancy spa or lots of theater-style shows, but those amenities are important to some, and widely available.  I enjoy a good “adults-only” resort (or at least an adult “section”), but when traveling with my son, I need to adjust our requirements a little and include a good pool & an active kids club.

AIs are found mostly in Mexico and the Caribbean with an extreme number on the Yucatan Peninsula & in the Dominican Republic. You definitely get what you pay for, however sometimes the brand name alone, dictates a higher price but not necessarily a better experience. It’s important to read reviews & be clear on what type of resort you’re looking for. Here are a few things to consider:

Size of the resort.  AKA… how far do you want to walk to the beach or to dinner.  Layout plays a part here as well… some resorts lie parallel to the beach, while others form a long, perpendicular strip from the main road to the sea.  Another trend seems to be combining multiple properties into one, creating a huge mecca of dining options, pools, etc.   It all depends on what you need to keep you entertained and your mobility level.

Variety (and quality) of restaurants. If a buffet for breakfast & lunch and a few a la carte options for dinner are sufficient, any AI will do.  However, if you want access to room service, need to order breakfast off a menu or would like a high-end French meal for dinner, you’ll need to stay on the upper end of things. Some of the smaller resorts may only have 2 or 3 restaurants, but if their focus is on quality, you should still receive an excellent variety of fresh & creative food.  Some of the best food I’ve had at an AI was at the Excellence Punta Cana last year… here’s just a snapshot of the types of items available at the BREAKFAST buffet!

Room accommodations.  Do you want to be next to the ocean? Do you need your own swim-out pool? Are 2 beds a requirement?  As with all resorts, most AIs offer a large variety of rooms and the cost will most likely be determined by the view & proximity to the beach.  Many AIs now also offer an exclusive section (usually adults only), that includes a private stretch of beach, select restaurants and other upgraded amenities – it’s up to you to determine if this extra expense is necessary.  Reading resort reviews on TripAdvisor or other trusted sites, is the best way to find this out for each particular resort.  Here’s a perfect example… our room at the smaller, Pineapple Beach Club in Antigua wasn’t the most luxurious, but it literally sat on the water, with a huge balcony… I couldn’t have asked for anything better!


Location.  Do you want to explore the town/culture/sights or just stay put? Some of the best resorts are often farther from any centralized “downtowns” or local hot spots.  Consider your sightseeing needs when making our selection.  Also, depending on the length of your stay, you’ll want to consider the drive time to & from the airport.  In Cancun, for example, most resorts are on the main strip, with a quick, 20-min ride from the airport.  If you venture out towards the Riviera Maya area, however, you’re looking at 45 mins to an hour.  For shorter trips, the closer the better, but if you have the time, the ride is often worth it.

All-inclusives offer something for everyone and are often easier when traveling with kids or a larger group. It’s also nice to pay for everything up front & not have to worry about extra expenses once you arrive (other than trips to the spa, gift shop or unplanned excursions). Personally, I like to make as few taxing decisions as possible when I’m on vacation, so the concept works wonderfully well for me.  The only way you’ll know for sure, is to do your homework, get recommendations from friends & try it out!

Here are a few links to some of my favorites:

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Melia Caribe Tropical – Larger, well-established resort in Punta Cana.  Go for the upgraded “Level” if you’re leaving the kids at home 😉
Excellence Punta Cana – Beautiful, adults-only resort.  Amazing food & my favorite stretch of beach.
Iberostar Costa Dorada – Smaller, open-air resort on the north coast of the D.R.  Great food & service.

COSTA RICA
Flamingo Beach Resort – Experience “pura vida” at this laid back, boutique resort.  Soon to become a part of the Margaritaville chain… hoping that doesn’t spoil the atmosphere.  Here are some pics from last year’s visit 🙂

ANTIGUA
Pineapple Beach Club & Galley Bay – Both part of the Elite Island Resorts chain… Visited the quaint Pineapple this year (here’s my review), looking to try the more upscale Gally Bay soon!

Don’t Be Afraid of That Crazy Wrap Thing!

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Network marketing, direct sales, even pyramid scheme… whatever you want to call it, if you believe in the products that you’re using, and they’re positively affecting your life, why wouldn’t you want to share it???

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Last month, I joined an exciting health & wellness company called, “It Works” as an independent distributor. This 16-year old, debt-free company, is best known for their body contouring wraps, but they truly offer so much more. I had been looking for a way to lose some weight & also incorporate a healthier lifestyle that I had embraced while training for my 1st half marathon this past spring. I’d also been looking for a new side business, so when the 2 opportunities came up together, it certainly caught my attention.

I’ve sold other health-related products in the past with this same sales format. I signed up with Arbonne, but only truly loved a few of their items, which wasn’t enough to “tie me” to the company. I sold Silpada Designs for 5 years, & despite my love of jewelry & their beautiful pieces, a combination of the “home party” sales model & their inflated sterling silver prices just didn’t create the formula I needed to really succeed.

20170610_132401But this time around, something seems different. I want to get my hands on every single product! And I’m actually experiencing my own amazing results! I’ve lost 5lbs in my 1st month & and I have this new-found energy that’s empowering! In addition, I have an amazing team leader who’s there for me day or night, answers all my questions & sometimes even talks me off the ledge if need be! I feel lucky that she found me & was patient with me while I tried the products and slowly decided to dive in & become a distributor.

20170626_172150The It Works product line is diverse, but not overwhelming. The products are all-natural, plant-based, and designed to help in various facets of your life. Stress, weight gain, joint pain, trouble sleeping, wrinkles, stretch marks – all the things we always want to fix! And they’re affordable… nothing crazy that’s going to break the bank. To check out the company and the products for yourself, here’s the link to my web site: www.kristinmatteo.itworks.com

My personal “Triple Threat” is a combination of 3 products that I’ve been using since I started. They’re helping me to gradually lose weight, while gaining energy & providing my body with the nutrients it needs.

IMG_20170630_112741_587Greens on the Go – This is my favorite of all the It Works products! Each individual packet contains 8 servings of fruits and vegetables and a combination of over 52 nutrients & superfoods. Simply empty the little packet into a bottle of water, shake & go! I drink mine mid-morning or in the afternoon if I need a little boost. The Greens are available in 3 flavors: Berry (my favorite), Orange, & Chocolate (great mixed with milk or in a smoothie!) and come with 30 packets per box.

IMG_20170611_191548_734I recommend using the next two products together in regard to weight loss:
Ultimate Thermofit – This tablet, taken twice daily, boosts your metabolism with the super antioxidant, acai berry and a red hot pepper blend called Capsimax®. I take one with my breakfast & one with lunch to get my metabolic rate going!

Fatfighter – This carb inhibitor & fat blocker utilizes prickly pear cactus to naturally absorb some of the fats & carbs from your “less healthy” meals. I usually take the Fatfighter with dinner, as that tends to be my heaviest meal of the day and the one that could cause me the most damage 😉

20170606_170119Other products I love are the gentle, 2-Day Cleanse, the WOW – Wipe Out Wrinkles Cream, the Protein Powders (in Chocolate or Vanilla), and of course, the original Body Contouring Wraps & Defining Gel.

The best part of this business is that you can work it from anywhere… all you need is a cell phone!  So check it out, contact me with ANY questions, and start thinking about what you’d like to try.  And I promise not to stalk you… I’m just excited to share what these products, and this business opportunity, could potentially do for you!

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And don’t worry, my love & passion for all things food-related has not gone astray… it’s just about finding the right balance & enjoying everything in moderation!

Shameless Self-Promotion ;)

moneyThis blog has been neglected lately! I’ve been busy opening an Etsy shop with my photos, joining the company, It Works! as an independent distributor of their amazing health & wellness products, and I’m even working on an article with Under Armour, as they want to feature my “half-marathon” story!  I’ve also designed a new website to keep these adventures in one central location – www.kristinscorer.com.  Add all that to my “day job,” along with my son’s baseball, karate & end of year activities, and you have one busy mama!

IMG_20170613_185542_764But the reason for this post, is not that I’m complaining, I’m actually EXCITED!  I love having all of these opportunities for my personal growth and hopefully, they’ll each become profitable, at some point, in their own way.  It can be a struggle finding the time for all these new “passions” of mine (don’t forget my travel & food obsessions as well!), but I’m squeezing it all in & enjoying the creative process! Thanks to those who have shown great support & encouraging words on each of these start-ups… it means the world to me!

Follow this blog to join me on my journey 🙂

The Calm Before the Storm…

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In a few short weeks, the crowds will arrive and the summer season will officially begin at the Jersey Shore. I love living here, but I have to admit, I’m not ready to give up my empty beaches and boardwalk quite yet!

We’ve had a few mild mornings and I’ve been trying to take full advantage… enjoying long walks, bike rides, collecting shells, taking pictures and mostly just relishing in the solitude. Nothing quite compares to having that empty stretch of sand all to yourself where you can stroll, explore, & search for treasures while listening to the soothing sound of the surf and digging your toes in the sand. It’s the most peaceful and calming time for me… and always so hard to leave!

The locals know how precious this time is, and how beautiful this time of year here can be.  Everyone’s seen the crowds and heard the horror stories of wall to wall people spread across the sand, and bodies bumping into each other in the water, so I wanted to share a handful of my morning pics, and even a little poem… lol… to give a glimpse of life here in the “off-season” 😉  Enjoy!!!