Expat Extra – Irina and Jim Just


Welcome to another Expat Extra!

When I first moved here and started going to yoga classes, one of my friends asked me: “Have you met Irina yet? She’s a hoot!”

And indeed, Irina IS a hoot. She has enriched my life here in Costa Rica, especially with her and her husband’s fabulous dinner parties (Jim is an excellent chef). She is always feisty and fun to talk to, she loves a good pinot noir wine, and whenever I see her she is wearing my ankle candy – I enjoy her immensely.

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Cut I

OK, by now – a lot of you know I’m not normal. I’d even go so far as to sometimes say I’m crazy. Or unique. Whatever. No label necessary. I’m cool with how I am and love myself, so that’s all I have to say.

After quitting my job in the States, and moving to Costa Rica to live a more simple life, there were other changes I knew I wanted to make as well. This was the time to do it, right? Some changes were made with a conscious effort, others seemed to happen naturally. And yes – Costa Rica has helped with almost all of these things; however, that’s not to say that moving somewhere else (or staying put) couldn’t help with these things too.

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The Paperback Version of the Costa Rica Chica Cookbook is here!

Just wanted to let you all know that my Costa Rica Chica Cookbook is now available as a lovely paperback version!  It’s a beautiful larger book (8.5 x 8.5″) with full color gorgeous pictures for each and every recipe!

Click here to order from Amazon!

Click here to order from Create Space!

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Expat Extra – Steven Friedman

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Today on the Expat Extra, I am featuring Steve & Martha Friedman. They are living their Costa Rican dream ON THE BEACH. Yep – they reside in Playa Hermosa (which means “beautiful beach,” how appropriate is that?) in the Guanacaste region. I’ve been to Playa Hermosa, and it is a charming little beach.

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Costa Rica Chica Cookbook

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Hello everyone! I just wanted to take a moment to formally introduce you to my newest book that has just been published:  COSTA RICA CHICA COOKBOOK (<— click here if you want to skip the rest of this post and BUY NOW – it’s ok, I don’t blame you).

I’m so excited and proud of this book!

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Project August

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Lately, Greg & I have seemingly been so busy, we were having trouble finding time to just sit down and work on projects that we wanted to focus on. Don’t get me wrong – retirement has been great – but we are still young(ish) and our minds are always going with ideas of things we want to do, work on, or accomplish still.

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Expat Extra – Jennifer Turnbull-Houde


Hello everyone! I am starting something new that I’m very excited about. Every now and then (under no set schedule, as I live in pura-vida-ville), I am going to be doing a little segment called “EXPAT EXTRA” where I will be interviewing an expat and telling you their story.

So, here is my first ever EXPAT EXTRA!  Today I am featuring the young and lovely Jennifer Turnbull-Houde.  I feel a certain connection to Jenn because she and her husband Matt landed here in Costa Rica just a month after we did in 2013 – so we are kinda anniversary twinkies.  They quit their cushy jobs in Boston and moved here to live a more simple and happy life, very similar to us, except they did it in their early 30’s!  Here in Costa Rica, they work hard on their blog, books, and trip planning services – but now they are working on something they love, and in a place with no more winters (win/win!).  Check out her homemade jam she makes (below) – the picture alone is making my mouth water!

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Jen’s DIY Foaming Hand Soap


A lot of DIY recipes for this call for liquid castille soap, and while I’m sure I could find that here in Costa Rica somewhere, I couldn’t fathom where to even begin looking for it. So in the mean time – I did this recipe below.  It works great, is so easy, and is SOOOOOO incredibly cheaper than say… Bath & Body Works.

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Jen’s DIY Hot Cocoa Mix


Hi guys!  I know it’s only August, but fall is right around the corner, and I wanted to share with you this easy-peasy hot cocoa mix recipe.  After it’s made, you just add boiling water to a few tablespoons of the mix, and stir it up!  I love this for when I don’t have any milk in the house and it’s chilly out (it’s currently Rainy Season in Costa Rica, and we’ve had our handful of cold days already).  Warms me right up.

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MASQ`SABOR – Mexican food in the heart of Grecia!

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If you are Facebook or Instagram friends with me, you’ve seen me post pictures from Johnny’s Masq’Sabor Restaurant before. It’s now time to dig a little deeper.

Meet Johnny Lara, owner and operator.  You’ll see him any time you visit Masq`Sabor, he’s always on site 6 days a week (see hours at bottom of post).  He is a hard worker, smart business man, and passionate about his food – 3 things you absolutely need to be successful in the restaurant business.

Masq`Sabor, which literally means “more than flavor,” has been open for almost a year now (September 12th will their 1st anniversary).   Johnny has whipped this little restaurant into a lovely place to sit with friends or by yourself, and have a bite to eat and drink.  He also has free Wi Fi, so bring your laptop or phone along and hang out for a while.  His place is clean with bright colors on the walls, and windows that look out onto the street.  A couple of fans keep it cool and the air well circulated.

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Sunscreen and Bug Spray for Costa Rica


So you’re coming to Costa Rica – either for a vacation, or (get back Jack) to MOVE here.
You want to know about the sun and the bugs.

Well, I’m here to tell you – the sun is pretty potent in Costa Rica.
We are only 10 degrees North of the Equator, after all, my friends!

You know what that means. The sun will be more intense here in Costa Rica,
no matter what you are used to in the States.

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Tamarindo Beach Trip

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Have you heard of Tamarindo? It’s in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the west coast / Pacific Ocean.  We were there last week for an awesome little “vacation”! We had an opportunity to pet sit for friends in exchange for a stay at their beautiful home – right in the heart of this quaint little beach town.  Even though we aren’t super fit or tan and didn’t walk around with surf boards everywhere – we still fit in – because pretty much the whole town is tourists. Everyone speaks English.  Everyone takes the American dollar.  Playa Tamarindo (the beach) is known for surfing, and the town itself is sprinkled with good restaurants and lots of touristy shops.  We traveled there by bus, which worked out great.

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Bus from San Jose to Tamarindo


Last week we traveled from Grecia to Tamarindo by bus.  We heard from our friends about this direct bus from San Jose to Tamarindo called “Empresa Alfaro“.

Empresa’s station in San Jose is in the Coca Cola area, just one block from the Grecia Bus Station:

To Tamarindo there are two departure times:  11:30 which we took, that goes through Liberia first, and 3:30 with goes “straight” to Tamarindo.  We wanted to get there as early in the day as possible, so we took the 11:30 (note:  these prices are out of date):

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Are we residents of Costa Rica yet? Are we, are we??

cedula irina

Look at this lovely couple holding their cedula (residency) cards!

Unfortunately this couple is NOT us, but our pals Irina & Jim.  They applied for their residency in December, 2012 and it took 18 months for them to get their cards.  I’m very happy for them.

You’re probably wondering where we are in our residency process?  Well,  it pains me to tell you – that we just aren’t quite there yet. Actually it’s fine. Some people get residency really quickly, others not so… It is what it is, right? Pura vida.

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2 Year Anniversary In Costa Rica


Wow, you guys!  Today is our 2-year-anniversary of landing in Costa Rica!  Here’s us on Jun 17th, 2013 in Dallas before heading to the airport with all of our earthly belongings:

In a lot of ways these 2 years have gone by swiftly, but when I think about all we have done, it DOES seem like we’ve been here a while… here’s our “2 years” at a glance:

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States Trip 2015


Well, I’ve finally recuperated from our States Tour. Jet Lag, Travel Hangover… whatever you want to call it. It took my 5 days to get back to my Pura Vida routine. And that’s ok. In our 3 weeks in the States, we were in all 4 time zones, 8 different states, flew a total of 8 flights, did a 3-day drive of 2100 miles, and stayed up past our bed time every night. And I wouldn’t trade any of it. Best part? Spending quality time with our Mom’s and siblings and nieces and nephews.  Oh and eating a darn good burger every now and then.

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We’ve got SPIRIT, yes we do, we’ve saved money, how about you?

small spirit

Well, we did it. We flew Spirit airlines, for the first time ever. And we survived.

There are a lot of negative posts out there about Spirit, and yes – I perused them all months ahead of our scheduled trip. And they definitely made me hesitate. I was ready to forget about Spirit and go with an airline that I was familiar with (American), which had a direct flight from Costa Rica to Dallas, and we had done several times with no hiccups. But I soon discovered a pattern in the dis-Spirited comments about Spirit – it seemed that mainly people were complaining about hidden and extra charges that they knew nothing about.

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Greg and I do not dance… at all. But we were told about this dancing place by a couple of people, and definitely wanted to check it out (or at least I did) – just to people watch and have a good time. So, we went on Sunday with our friends Beverly & Ed.

What a blast! The place is locally referred to as “La Piscina” (meaning “the pool” – which is next to it and has been empty for years).  It was almost all Ticos (we were 4 of the 5 Gringos there), it was outdoors but covered, a live band, all Latin music, smiles everywhere. The band was really good – both music and singing wise. There was a huge space for dancing in front of the band, and then tons of tables beyond the dance floor.

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As Eye See It

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My dad always told me “once you get to be over 40, you’ll need glasses”. In my 20-something invincibility I was like – right, Dad, whatever. I’d always had 20/20 vision, and was really proud of it (I was one of those rare beings that was born with perfect eyes that would last a lifetime).

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Cachí Trip Part II – ALL THINGS FOOD


First of all, if you missed Part I of our Cachí trip to visit The Mike’s, click here.

Now – the best part of our trip (well, besides our cool friends, of course):

As I may have mentioned yesterday, Mike is super talented in the kitchen. While we were there, I got to play Sous Chef, which was really a blast.  I seriously look up to him – he’s been cooking forever and it seems like everything he makes looks mouth watering-ly amazing.  And whenever I have a question, I turn to him and he always has answers or suggestions for me.

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