13 Moments from 2013

2013 was a year bookended by a beginning and an end for Greg and I.  Beginning of our new life in Costa Rica, and the end to Greg’s Dad’s wonderful life.  The year began with both of us leaving our jobs in May.  We then moved to Costa Rica in June, and attended Dad’s funeral shortly thereafter – he died 3 days after we had arrived in Costa Rica.

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Baby, it’s warm outside! My first Costa Rican Christmas.

I must say I was really looking forward to my first Christmas in Costa Rica.  I’ve always liked Christmas while growing up in the states – the music, the lights, the shopping….  But I didn’t like how stressful and commercialized it had all seemed to become for me, the last several years living in Dallas.

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Early reflections on early retirement

If you would have talked to me 3 years ago, and asked me how I’d feel about quitting my job and entering early retirement, selling everything I owned, and moving to Costa Rica; I would have burst out laughing and said:

“Excuse me?  What are you talking about?”

And then I would have asked you: “Where is Costa Rica, anyway?”

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Our first visitor!

It didn’t take long – less than 5 months – to have our very first visitor in our new Costa Rican home!  My Mom #2 (Greg’s Mom, my Mom-in-law, Shirley – is her name) visited us for a week and it was a pleasure to have her.  It was her first “real” visit to a foreign country, and she did great on her flight and going through customs, all by herself.

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7 things I didn’t think I could do – thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I saw this quote the other day, and it really got to me the more I thought about it.  Turns out, I’ve already been doing a lot of the “things I thought I could not do” – just this year.

1.  I never thought I could retire in my early-40’s.

But yet – here I am.

2.  I never thought I could make my own pesto sauce. 

This may sound odd to you, because I now know that making pesto from scratch is quite easy. While living in Dallas, I had looked up recipes for pesto several time, but I think the food processor business just scared me.  Whenever we dined at Italian restaurants, I’d ALWAYS order a dish with pesto sauce.  And now, I make my own – and it tastes so gourmet to me, it’s crazy.   BTW – swirled with tomato sauce on my homemade pizza?  – THE BEST!

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Costa Rica’s unusual bonus deals!

So, in the US, you know how stores sometimes have “special bonus” deals with certain products?…  like:

–Buy a can of shaving cream and get a FREE RAZOR to go with it!

–Buy a bottle of Shampoo, and get a bottle of Conditioner for FREE (savings of $6!!)!

–Buy bottle of Sunscreen and get a FREE lipgloss tube (with SPF 15) to go with it!

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What a difference 6 months makes…

6 months ago Greg & I were living and working in Dallas, Texas.  Here’s a handful of ways our lives have changed since then.

1.  Same sound, different Pavlovian response…

6 months ago when Greg’s phone would go off with his “ting, ting” sound, it would almost ALWAYS mean bad news, stress, long dicussions, and a lot of times end with him going into work (inevitably on a Friday or Saturday night)…  And trust me that “ting, ting” went off ALL the time.  Greg & I BOTH got to the point were we truly dreaded it.  All we had to hear was that first “ting” and we both stiffened and braced ourselves for the worst.

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Junk Mail

I remember seeing “Costa Rica directions” for the first time, on our trip here in early 2012.  We were driving a rental car and I had requested the address for a certain hotel we had reservations at.  This was what was sent to me:

“From the catholic church in La Fortuna, we are located 6 km west of Arenal volcano.” 

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Well, after eating my way through Texas and Wisconsin, I am ready to be back home in Costa Rica (it’s so strange calling Costa Rica home, y’all).  A week in Dallas and a week in Wisconsin (cheese capital of the country, if you didn’t know) have been great, truly.  But um, a little hectic, and a little food-overloaded!  We met with friends or family over a meal out, I think, every single day.  People keep asking us what foods we miss the most from the States, and at this point I don’t miss anything anymore!  Greg did enjoy his share of craft beers and Mexican food, and I enjoyed my share of non-boxed wine and Wisconsin cheese (fried cheese curds anyone?).  But, let me tell you, we are ready to get back to our healthy eating and way of life here in Costa Rica.

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For those of you who are thinking about moving here, what kind of clothes should you bring?  Well, I can only tell you what my experience is thus far.

When I lived in Dallas….  um, well, I was a bit into designer labels.  I loved my Coach purses and True Religion and Seven jeans.  And I had LOTS of shoes (almost ALL heels and wedges).  It was hard trying to decide WHAT exactly to get rid of before I moved here, without knowing exactly what I’d need here.  However, I think I did a pretty good job of thinking it through.  And surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought – to get rid of my designer labels, and a TON of other unnecessary things as well.

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You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers.

So, this is just an “answering questions” post… some questions sent to me by my subscribers (which I love, keep ‘em coming!).

What is the exchange rate?

It is currently approximately:  500 – 1.  Example in converting colones to American dollars:  ₡ 30,000 = $60.00; or ₡ 2,500 = $5.00 – approximately.  This is using Jen’s easy method of “approximate” calculating – move the decimal point to the left 3 places and double.

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What do you DO all day??

What in the world do you DO all day?  I get this question a lot…

Well, each day is different, but will tell you what I did the other day.

Got up about 5:30, made a pot of coffee, did some “computer/electronic business” (facebook, emails, instagram, words with friends…  I know, but there’s some things I just can’t give up!…), then went outside and enjoyed a beautiful morning overlooking our pool with the central valley behind it.  Had coffee with our friends who we are living here, always good conversation – and the mornings are always SO nice and sunny  (even now, in the “green season” – which is a nice way to say “rainy season”).

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Why I quit my job and moved to Costa Rica…

People have told me that I’m brave and that they admire me.  Venturing out and doing this crazy thing – quitting my job in my early 40’s, giving up my income, and moving to and living in a foreign country.  And I think some of my friends and family secretly think I’m crazy (they’re just too polite or nice to say it).  It’s true – it IS weird.  It IS crazy.  This is NOT the norm!  When Greg & I first started talking about it, I was like, well this is nice & fun to talk about, but there’s NO WAY we’ll ever really do it.   I mean – who really up and quits their job and moves to a foreign country with no plan of working before retirement age?  Well, it turns out, I do.  We do.

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Where I am right now.

I’ve been here in El Cajon de Grecia, Costa Rica, for 6 weeks now.  Hard to believe, really, if I think about it…  but it all seems pretty natural – so far, anyway.  Eating a more healthy diet, hiking, walking, living more naturally (no doing my hair or makeup these days, unless going out for lunch/dinner with friends, and even then WAY less maintenance than before)… it all just FEELS good.  People talk about culture shock, which is a very real thing, and I read up on it a few times before our move here, feeling I was very “prone” to this.  Anytime there is a change in my life (good or bad) – it seems I have a bit of “culture shock” (for lack of a better term)… a bit of stumbling around for a while, till I get back into a schedule and feel comfortable with things again.  So, I admit, I have had a couple of bad days (1st time was on day #3 after seeing a scorpion and a roach right in a row, followed shortly thereafter by the truly bad news of Greg’s dad passing away).  I do realize I’ve only been here 6 weeks, and according to Wikipedia, Culture Shock (which consists of several stages – kind of like a grieving process or a 12 step program) doesn’t really set in until after living in a different country for 3 months(!).   So come Oct. 1st, I guess I have a lot to look forward to – especially since the WHOLE month of October is supposed to be the worst of the rainy season (people say it can rain ALL day EVERY day).

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Chica Bands review & free giveaway!


OK mi amigas, here is my very 1st blog review and free giveaway!

I’m excited about it, because I’ve worn Chica Bands for some time now, and given them as gifts to my friends, and I LOVE THEM.  My friends LOVE THEM.  Why, you ask?  This is no “normal” headband, for one – it really and truly DOES NOT MOVE.  That’s right, folks.  Even while you are running, tumbling, playing soccer, baking, cleaning house (you get the point).  Seriously – you put it on, and it holds your hair back and STAYS IN PLACE.  Whether you are sweating up a storm, or sprinting like mad… or just going out to dinner with friends.  They have TONS of super cool and cute designs that are stylish too.  I’ve worn them working out, and I’ve worn them out on the town!   Now that I live in Costa Rica – I wear them ALL THE TIME for hiking, after a shower while my hair is drying, or just hanging out…  they are just the best!  What can be better than a super cute AND functional headband??

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A personal post…

Sometimes life takes turns you can in no way anticipate…  and you just have to go with the flow and do the darn best you can at the time.  That’s what happened to us…  after years of planning our HUGE move from Dallas, TX to Costa Rica, the day had finally arrived.  Monday, June 17th, 2013 we departed with our 9 pieces of luggage in tow; and after 3 different flight delays, finally made it to Costa Rica by early, early morning the next day.  We had arrived!  We were ready to start our new life!

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