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 🙂

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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!!!

Antigua… Another Great Getaway!

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Our 7th Annual Girls Getaway to the Pineapple Beach Club in Antigua (pronounced An-TEE-gah) was another successful endeavor! This totally relaxed resort (they actually describe themselves as “the most laid back all-inclusive in Antigua”) is full of breathtaking views, beautiful grounds and an accommodating staff. With only 180 rooms, this intimate spot provides a great getaway for those looking for an adults-only resort to simply unwind.

To start… which room???

If you can splurge just a little, the waterfront rooms are the way to go. This 2-story block provides a feeling of privacy while still being right next to all the action. The rooms themselves are fairly basic, but the unobstructed views just can’t be beat. Second runner-up would be a 2nd floor spot in the Beachfront rooms… though not as private, still a great view and only steps from the sand. You really can’t go wrong with any of the accommodations here as the resort is small and nothing is very far from the beach.

Pool vs Beach… The Great Debate

The beach here wins hands-down. We’re talking the powder white sand & aqua blue water that you travel to the Caribbean for! The surf can pick up a bit on windier days, but most times you’ll be floating carefree. Don’t get me wrong, the main pool is nice with its 2 levels and cascading water features, but it’s on the smaller side and just can’t compete with the open sea!

And of course there are plenty of water sports to take advantage of as well… you can snorkel right off the beach, paddle board, kayak, windsurf and more.

How About the Food?

You know this is an important area for me… and what I will say is that the food was fine. We ate at the buffet for breakfast & lunch and had no problem assembling a nice plate with plenty of options. There is a station at breakfast for fresh eggs and at lunch they offered custom pastas or meats/fish in the same spot. I’m sure it would get a bit repetitive if you were here for a full week, but for a 4 night stay, it was perfect.

As for dinner, we enjoyed the themed buffet on 2 of our nights, ate at the Pineapple Grill one night (reservations required 2 days in advance for this one as well as their other a la carte restaurant, Chef Pietro’s) and one night we paid a preset $35 for a very nice meal at their sister property, the Verandah, right across the street. All were good, although the service was a little spotty at the a la cartes. Overall, I found the food to be more than satisfactory, but just a little on the bland side.

I almost forgot about Mary’s Outhouse! Make sure you take the hike up to Mary’s for lunch one day & enjoy a great BBQ buffet in their rustic picnic area. It’s part of the resort & is located high up on the hill with incredible, panoramic views of the island. For fun, you can create your own “sign” to leave your mark here, along with hundreds of other guests.

Nighttime Fun?
20170125_211703Instead of the usual “shows” put on at most larger all-inclusives, the Pineapple offers nightly entertainment in the main bar area each evening. They had different singers, bands, and even a karaoke night. Most started around 8pm and were finished up by 11pm, which was fine for us after a long day in the sun. There is also a disco, that we really enjoyed one night – but I think that was mainly due to the great group of 10 Canadian girls who were there celebrating their 40th birthdays – otherwise I think it may have been on the quiet side 😉

Cocktails Anyone?
screenshot_20170204-172027Upon check-in, you’re handed the most deliciously strong rum punch… and from there, you’re on your way!  There is one main bar in between the pool, beach & buffet restaurant. This is the central gathering spot for the resort and you’re bound to make lots of friends here, including the bartenders. Cocktails are good (no top shelf liquor though) and the local draft beer, Wadadli, was delicious. They offer a decent white wine and both a Cabernet and a Merlot for the red drinkers, both of which were quite nice for an all-inclusive.

screenshot_20170205-122027“Must-Do” Excursion…
The resort offers its own snorkeling/sightseeing trip on the “Calypso Cat” for only $65 per person. I highly recommend this 1/2 day outing to either Bird Island or Green Island (based on the day). The boat leaves right from the beach at 9am & includes snorkeling equipment, a light lunch & plenty of cocktails. The staff were awesome and we enjoyed our day IMMENSELY! For more on this trip, check out my post with more pics on my Facebook Page.

It’s so incredibly beautiful here… with so many things to see and do. Unfortunately, 4 nights were just not enough. We never made it into St. John’s to go shopping (a 30-minute trip by taxi) or over to Devil’s Bridge (a 20-30 min walk from the resort) which had been on our list, but it only gives us a reason to come back, which I definitely plan to do!

Wearable Treasures!

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What souvenirs do you buy when traveling? T-shirts? A shot glass? Christmas ornaments? In addition to picking up a small piece of local artwork, I almost always come home with a piece of jewelry. It could be a ring with a stone native to the area, a high-end piece that I found for a great price, or a simple beaded bracelet from a local vendor on the beach. In any case, I love having a unique jewelry design that I can wear as a memory from each trip.

I recently came across a line of bracelets that was based on this very premise… Melanie Vandersluis began collecting bracelets from each of her travels. After a 7-week trip to Israel, France & Greece, she came home and decided to turn this passion of hers into a business.  Melanie Audrey, her Montreal-based company, creates beautiful, hand-crafted bracelets using natural stone beads or sturdy paracord designs. Each comes with its own unique story based on the people and places she’s encountered while traveling. Click HERE to read Melanie’s story 🙂

I have to say it took me a while to put my order together because I wanted them all! My first choice, however, was an easy one. Santorini, Greece is currently at the number one spot on my travel bucket list, so the set of Santorini Stacks was a no-brainer! Featuring 4 separate bracelets, each with Picture Jasper stones around the back and then one each of Larvikite, Clear Quartz, Larimar & Lapis Lazuli on front. Each stone has a wonderful meaning and worn all together, they are perfect!

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My general love of travel drew me to the Passport Wanderer. Made with 2 kinds of Jasper beads & Larvikite, these healing stones look great and the story sounded like my own personal fantasy (even though it’s written from a man’s point of view… lol!)

This is a great, neutral starter and would mix nicely with any of the other bracelets in this collection.

 

Screenshot_2016-08-26-09-46-38-1My final pick was the Heart of Gold bracelet… created for the kind of person that everyone should aspire to be. I’ll be keeping this one for myself but I’m sure to be ordering these for some special people in my life! This beautiful bracelet features Rose Quartz, Coral & Picture Jasper.

All of Melanie Audrey’s bracelets can be ordered in a small, medium or large & can easily be shipped to the U.S.  They come packaged in a little burlap bag & each story is included inside. Please note all prices are listed in Canadian dollars, so you’ll have to do a quick currency conversion to get the US price.

I love these bracelets & their stories… Thank you to Instagram for introducing me to Melanie Audrey! Check out her gallery at @bymelanieaudrey & shop right online at www.melanieaudrey.com.

Screenshot_2016-08-26-10-28-13-1Here are a few of my “treasures” from past trips… Starting at the top left I have a Mother of Pearl Ring from Puerto Vallarta, a set of white, yellow & rose gold rings from Bermuda, a Swatch Watch from Curacao, a CZ Necklace from St. Thomas, my “Pura Vida” bracelet from Costa Rica, my diamond Palm Tree Necklace (that took me 2 years to find) from St. Kitts, a rainbow bead bracelet from my most recent trip Punta Cana and a great Turquoise ring in sterling silver from Cancun.  Jewelry is definitely my weakness!!!

An Ocean Grove Sunrise for St Patrick’s Day

I’ve been lucky enough to live a few blocks from the beach for over 20 years now, but somehow, I’ve never made it down to watch the sunrise… until this morning.  Thanks to the time change & an inability to sleep lately, this was my view this morning…

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So amazing!  You can bet I’ll be making an effort to get down here on a regular basis in the months to come… and I recommend that everyone makes this happen at least once or twice!

Pura Vida in Pictures

 

20160130_172633Our Girls Getaway to Costa Rica was a complete success!  Perfect weather, an incredibly relaxed resort & the discovery of “Pura Vida” – the simple life at it’s best.

We really enjoyed the Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa, as it was a change from our usual “stock” all-inclusives.  The intimate atmosphere made everything so accessible… just a few steps from the pool, to the restaurant to the beach.  The service was excellent & the staff was friendly & knowledgeable, offering helpful advice on what to see & do.  We loved the open-air feel of the resort & enjoyed all of our meals & drinks outside in the beautiful, tropical setting.

For a full review of this resort, check out my latest article on Trip101.com:  “Discover Pura Vida at Costa Rica’s Flamingo Beach Resort”

But for the “Photostory” – just keep scrolling 🙂

I’m starting with my favorite thing to do on vacation…  Morning coffee on the balcony. Here it came with a great view & a strong Costa Rican brew.

Here’s our actual room from the inside & out.  Basic accommodations, but with everything we needed.  And our 2nd floor “Poolview” room was a winner as we could see both the pool AND the ocean – jackpot!

I loved heading over to the beach early in the morning and enjoying this long, beautiful stretch all to myself.  And I mean EARLY as the symphony of tropical birds had me up every day by 6am!20160130_0618302016-01-30 06.44.57

The sun rose from behind the resort, so the ocean lit up before the sand… so pretty to watch!

This the main Arenas Restaurant, with air-conditioned seating inside and this awesome screened-in patio outside, looking over at the beach.  Drinks & dinner were also available upstairs at the open-air, Sunset Lounge.
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We did make a few friends during our stay…  this guy crawled right up onto my chair to say hello one afternoon!PhotoGrid_1454433100894

Here are a few more shots from around the resort… As you can see, it’s all about the water.  The covered pool is for the kids – such a great idea!

We did venture out and took a Sunset Catamaran Cruise on the 47′ “Panache” – a beautiful boat, manned by a super fun crew.  We stopped to snorkel, had some snacks, enjoyed the complimentary cocktails and ended with an amazing sunset…

Speaking of sunsets… staying on the Pacific side of Costa Rica guarantees some breathtaking views every night.  These were taken as we walked down the beach to “Coco Loco” – a restaurant/bar that sits right on the sand.

Costa Rica is famous for its surf… Unfortunately the only wave I “caught” was this one, just as the sun was setting.

This really was a perfect destination… totally relaxing, friendly people and a great place to reconnect a little with nature.  The “Pura Vida” lifestyle certainly is amazing!

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Last but not least… for the Foodies:  Two delicious ceviches, fresh fish tacos (at the airport of all places) and my favorite cocktail – The Green Monster!  Cheers!!!