The Mysterious Spheres – Archaeological Site Finca 6

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When we were in Sierpe, Osa, a few weeks ago, we kept seeing these large stone spheres everywhere around the town and in fields. Here is one in the park ——–>>

Peter (friend, guide, Sierpe guru) had told us that there were several of these large spheres that were found here in Sierpe in the early 1900’s – one of two places in the whole world. Well, this sounded very interesting. How did they get here? People from a long long time ago? Space aliens from a galaxy far far away? Well, the answers were actually not too far away – we soon found out that they have a museum in Finca (farm) 6 – which is where the most recent spheres were found.

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My first hair cut in Costa Rica

After living in Costa Rica for over 14 months now, and having trimmed my hair twice myself (yikes!) –  it was time to get a professional hair cut.   My hair needed it and deserved it.  I dearly miss my hair dresser in Dallas – KYLE!!  But since I won’t be going back to the States till at least the Spring of next year, something needed to be done in the interim.

Enter mi amiga vecina (my neighbor friend) – Sophia – who just turned sweet 16, and has been learning English for the last couple of years.  She is beautiful, sweet and has lovely layered hair.  So I asked her the other day where she gets her hair cut, “Just down the road, in Los Angeles.  Do you want to come with me to get your hair cut?”.  Um, YES!!  Count me IN!

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GOING NATIVE! – in Sierpe, Osa, Costa Rica

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Sierpe is a teeny tiny town (population of 1200 or so) in the northern portion of the Osa Penisula, in the south pacific region of Costa Rica. Some tourists use Sierpe as their starting point for visiting Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park. It is very biologically lush with vegetation (think: jungle) and amazing wildlife (think: macaws, crocodiles). This was our first time to visit this part of the country, and I’m so thankful for super cool (taunis!) friends who let us tag along and showed us an amazing time.

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Battle of the Boxes – a RED wine review

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Due to popular demand, here is the boxed wine review for red wine (vino tinto)!

I got my hubby (a red wine connoisseur) to help with this one, here he is, in all his blind-folded glory:

 

Presenting – the Battle of the Red Boxes – Greggorio style:

 

PEÑASOL Vino Tinto Made in: Spain Cost (1 L box): c2,928 ($5.85) Alcohol: 12% Smell: “No smell. Maybe I’m stopped up or something? I don’t smell anything.” Taste: “Not really a taste to this. I must say I kind of like it though.”         UVITA Vino Tinto Made in: Argentina Cost (1 L box): c2,000 ($4.00) Alcohol: 12.2% Smell: “None. There’s no smell.” Taste: “I like it.”

 

 

CLOS Cabernet Sauvignon Made in: Chile Cost (1 L box): c2,790 ($5.58) Alcohol: 12% Smell: “Doesn’t really smell like much. Maybe rotten grapes.” Taste: “Don’t like too much (makes a grimace), but it’s OK. Not very flavorful. Un-describable.”

 

  DON SIMON Vino Tino Made in: Spain Alcohol: 11% Cost (1 L box): c1,500 ($3.00) Smell: “Now, this one has a good smell!” Taste: “Ew, has a bit of a bad after taste. But it’s ok, I could drink this.”

 

Greg’s conclusions:

 

 

Well, I wasn’t going to partake in the red wine taste testing, but after Greg’s review, I felt I must step in.

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Battle of the Boxes – a boxed wine review

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Well, this is one thing I thought I’d never do. A BOXED wine tasting/review (and a blind tasting at that)! Oh how my life has changed… but in a good way (the way I always finish this sentence since moving to Costa Rica, because it’s true).

When we first moved here, well even BEFORE we moved here, we had entertained the idea of cutting out all wine, beer, liquor from our diet completely. One of the reasons we were moving to Costa Rica in the first place was to live a healthier life style, and with our new frugal budget in mind (after we had both quit our jobs), this just made sense. The day after we had moved to Costa Rica, we were in the grocery store – picking out items to start stocking our kitchen with. We found ourselves in the wine/liquor aisle (hey, the paper towel was in that aisle as well!), and Greg mentioned that we should buy some wine and celebrate making the move to Costa Rica!

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Dentist in Costa Rica

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What is it like to go to the dentist in Grecia, Costa Rica?

Well… it’s actually all smiles.

Our friend Debbie recommended and gave us a business card for a dentist in Grecia, when we first moved here back in June, 2013. We didn’t have a need for a dentist right then, but kept her card for future use. Several weeks later, a woman who was staying at the property we were at came down with severe pain in her mouth. I promptly handed her the business card I had for Dr. Rebeca Perez of SMILES Dentistry, she called to schedule an appointment, and Dr. Rebeca spoke with her and told her to come in later that day.

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Life’s a beach!

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Last week we took a trip to the beach.  The far-away beach.  We went to the Guanacaste Region, Pacific Ocean, along the western coast of Costa Rica:

The best part was, our transportation there (one-way) cost only $8 (5 ½ hour trip)! We took the Pulmitan Bus, which is a step above the public bus, and only makes a few stops between San Jose and Playas del Coco, Guanacaste. The 5 ½ hour trip was broken up in the middle with a 20 minute rest stop. It was a lovely double decker bus, air conditioned, comfy seats and lots of leg room for Greg. It also had a shelf above us for storage items, plus they loaded up larger items (suitcases) below the bus before we left. We were on the top level, 2nd row, so were up high and had an excellent view.

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1 year anniversary of living Pura Vida

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Wow, it’s official – we have been here 1 year now!  June 17, 2013 was our “landing date” here in Costa Rica, from little ‘ole Dallas, Texas, USA.  The odd thing is – in some ways, it doesn’t seem like a year has passed.   But in many more ways – I feel like we’ve been here a while now – we have changed, grown, and become very comfortable and settled here.  Life is good, my friends!

Here’s a short recap of our transition….

Starting to pack for Costa Rica.  One room of our house in Dallas was designated
as the “packing room” (an organized mess):
 
Saying good-bye to my beloved Chili-Red Mini Cooper S:

 

Much celebrating and “well wishes” happened:
 
This was me driving to my LAST DAY OF WORK (at a stop light, don’t worry):
 
 
Last day of work and high heels(!):
 
 
Moved out of rental house and in with the Seymour’s and ALL OF THESE NIECES AND NEPHEWS OMG:
 
 
More celebrating – with Misty & Brady (sans kids) at a nice steak house (OH HOW I MISS good steak!!):
 
 
Then it was time to say good-bye to family:
 
 
June 17th, 2013 –  here we are with our 9 suitcases – ready to leave for the airport…
 
 
We arrived in COSTA RICA and woke up the next morning to this (OMG WE WERE HERE!):
 
Here’s us shortly after we arrived – hiking and hanging out by the pool:
 
 
And here’s us now after 1 year.  Pretty much the same, except….
Greg is slimmer and hotter!
I’m slightly slimmer!  
Both of us have longer hair!  
We don’t own much!
Our life is MUCH simpler!
And MOST IMPORTANTLY – BOTH of us are HAPPIER!
 
 Thanks to all of you who follow my blog, I cherish you!
Ciao for now! — Jen
 
PS – update on the BUG SITUATION

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Spanish – poco a poco

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First of all – check out my NEW SUPER CUTE LOGO in the above photo!  I’m loving it!  (See PS note below)…

OK, back to my post….  When we made the decision to move here, Greg and I started taking private Spanish lessons from a cool lady who came to our house in Dallas once a week. She was really awesome, and we dove into Spanish head first.

For a few months, at least.

Then life started becoming more hectic (as it tends to be in the States) – we were in the process of trying to sell our house, organize our move, and wrap up our Dallas life in general… and well, we were just too busy to study Spanish every night as well. So after 3 months of lessons, we gave it up, “for now”. We’d have plenty of time once we actually quit our jobs and moved to Costa Rica. Right?

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Easy Oreo “Truffles”

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Easy Oreo “Truffles”

Ingredients:
1 regular package original Oreo cookies
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (or other good quality chocolate, broken into pieces) ½ TB Crisco (shortening) 2-3 TB white frosting (from a can, works best!)  
Directions:

Break Oreos into a food processor, and process until they turn into fine crumbs.

Mix Oreo crumbs and softened cream cheese together until well blended.  Place bowl in freezer for 20-30 minutes (this helps with next step).

Roll Oreo mixture into walnut size balls, and place on waxed paper on cookie sheet.  Freeze for an hour.

Melt chocolate and shortening in double boiler.

Dip Oreo balls in chocolate and place on wax paper to harden (I tilt pan on angle, and use 2 forks to dip/roll).

Melt white frosting in microwave at half power until the desired consistency is reached.  Put into a small plastic sandwich sized bag, snip the end, and drizzle over Oreo Balls.

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How do you know rainy season is about to begin?

Greg and I had gotten in the habit of watching “The Good Wife” TV series in bed at night before going to sleep. We are NOT caught up yet to the current showings, so please no spoilers. It’s comfy in bed, we can snuggle, and at the end of our TV viewing, I love just slump down and go to sleep (teeth having been previously brushed and PJ’s already on!).

It was getting near the end of April and we were still in the dry season, but it had started getting cloudier and cloudier during the day – and it appeared like it would rain soon – but it had not. Yet.

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Where to get FREE e-books!

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So, have y’all heard of something called a Library?  This answer was so blatant and staring me in the face, I never even thought of it.

Right before our big move to Costa Rica, I went to visit my Mom in my teeny tiny hometown in Wisconsin. She had recently gotten an iPad, and asked me to help her with “reading books from her library”, among other things.

That first night I was there, we started going over some basic things on her iPad – she’s a quick learner, and picked up things in no time.  And then, she asked me about the library thing again.  I started looking at…. and the more I looked, I realized she could indeed log into her library, find an e-book she wanted, download it, it somehow went to her Kindle App on her iPad (wifi is amazing isn’t it?), and then she could go there and read it!

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Animal Tico-isms

What is an “animal tico-ism” you might ask?  Well, ticos have a way of associating things, with animals.  I don’t know why, and my tica friend does not know why either – it just is what it is.  It’s their culture.

Here are a few examples for you:

HORSE:  While out hiking with my tica friend, we pause to rest in the shade and drink some water.  She wipes her brow, sighs and exclaims:  “Geez, I’m sweating like a horse!”

I guess if you think about it – horses do sweat while running or working. Or glisten – which is what I do when I sweat. Really…

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Why Grecia?

Why Grecia?

Well, really I was sold on the little town of Grecia, Costa Rica when I first heard that people living here did not have heaters OR air conditioning in their homes – you just don’t need it!  That’s right – Grecia is supposedly the “perfect” temperature, year round.  This sounded perfect to Greg & I, who are both a little hot natured.  Also, it makes it easy on the electric bill.  Temperature’s get down to as cold as the high 50’s (fahrenheit) at night or in the rainy season, and rarely hotter than the low 80′s during the day.  See what I mean?  Perfect!

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Yes, there are Malls in Costa Rica… Plaza Real Cariari

Yes, there are malls here in Costa Rica.  The Multiplaza in Escazu is supposedly the nicest, but I have not been there yet (it is the “Rodeo Drive” of Costa Rica) .

The other day, me and my love hopped on the bus and went to the Plaza Real Cariari (you can find their website here, and their Facebook page here).  I have been there before with my awesome friend Lucy, who showed me the way, but this was the first time for Greg.  He was pretty excited about it.

We hung out in the Grecia Central Park for a bit while waiting for our bus time to arrive.

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The envelope, please – budgeting our new lifestyle in Costa Rica

One of the mental shifts we had to do when we moved to Costa Rica, was move from the “buy anything you want/do anything you want” mentality to being more frugal.  How did we do this?

Well, for starters, when Greg & I both quit our jobs at the same time, bam(!) – all income was immediately eliminated.  So, with our DINKS status (dual income no kids) being totally taken away (well, at least the DI part), we didn’t have much choice but to revamp our entire budget.  Hey, we were revamping our entire life anywayby moving from the States to Costa Rica, so it was as good a time as any to change up our budget and lifestyle.  Here’s what we did, and how we did it.

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Traditional Costa Rican way of living

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The other night we visited a cozy little restaurant up on the San Miguel Ridge, one ridge over from where we live.  We went with our good friends Lucy (Justa) and Steve, who had been wanting to take us there for a while.  The place is called Mirador Brisas del Monte, and really the best thing about it is the gorgeous views you can see from anywhere you sit inside the soda.

You can also sit outside in the back, where they have some limited seating. There are pillars throughout the café and outside with wood carvings on them, which the owner did himself.   The owner, Tom, is a friendly and very smiley guy – he was happy to show us around when we first got there.

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Why it pays to take the bus.

Every time we see a cute old Toyota Landcruiser from the 70’s/80’s, my hubby ogles it and talks about wanting to buy one.  These Toyota’s are everywhere here.  And I have to admit, they ARE pretty darn stinkin cute.  But then I think about actually paying for it (price of cars here, even older ones, are a lot more expensive than the States), the required basic insurance, the annual inspection fees, extra insurance, maintenance (which hey – with something this old, might be almost every day)…  it’s just not worth it to me. 

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Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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When my Mom was here visiting, we did a day trip to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens one day.  First thing in the morning, we headed out to Poas (got there about 9 am) – and WOW – it was a perfect morning!   Absolutely crystal clear sky – I mean, seriously – not ONE CLOUD in the sky.  I think Mom was our lucky charm.  Wilson, our driver/friend of Coati Tours said he’s been to Poas over 600 times, and the day with us was the MOST CLEAR, perfect-visibility-day he’s ever seen at Poas!

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Toucan Rescue Ranch

As you all know by now, my awesome Mom was here visiting us the last week of January (if you missed it, click here).

The favorite tour we did when Mom was here, was our visit to the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

What an amazing place!  All of the animals are rescue animals (as the name implies).  Leslie – the owner and animal guru herself – was there to greet us, and was our personal tour guide.  Leslie is incredible.  Down to earth, very well spoken, open to questions – you can tell she just loves what she does.  And she doesn’t just have toucans – which made me giddy.   I mean I like birds and all, but…  well, you can’t really cuddle with a toucan.

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