Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh, Mexico

As if I wasn't excited enough about our first anniversary trip, I stumbled upon our exact destination listed as one of MSNBC's "Top 10 Beaches We Love". Fabulous! Here's what they have to say about it:

10. Tulum Beach

The increasingly popular Mayan Riviera destination of Tulum, 80 miles southeast of Cancun, couldn’t be more unlike its northern resort sibling. With a beach presided over by Mexico’s only waterfront Mayan ruins, the unspoiled white sands that hug the Caribbean here offer visitors the chance to get in touch with their inner chi — not the excuse to party. Indeed, what few beachfront resorts exist here tend to host yoga centers, not all-inclusive nightclubs, along the sand. Meanwhile, on the beach below Tulum’s cliff-top castle, you can bask and swim where the Maya once came ashore, in superb waters protected by the world’s second-longest barrier reef, the Great Maya Reef, which provides countless underwater pleasures among shallow coral reefs, coast-hugging sand banks, and offshore atolls.

Apart from its status as a Top 10 beach, here are my own reasons for being piss-my-pants (pardon my French!) excited about Tulum:

1) Despite the fact that I spent 4 years of my life in California, mere hours from the Mexico border, the closest that I've come is a second-hand account of a Memorial Day weekend that included a foam party in Tijuana. Tijuana, people.

2) We're vacationing on someone else's dime; I won the trip for reaching a sales goal at work! There was just one caveat: in order to make the most of the deal, it only made sense to go the all-inclusive route, which has never appealed to us. That said, as the MSNBC description suggests, this will not be a club-til-you-drop, drink-as-many-watered-down-cocktails-as-possible type of resort. We'll also be renting a car so that we'll be able to explore authentic Mexican life when our fellow resort-bound Americans get to be too obnoxious!

3) We just had 10 more inches of snow dumped on us this week, and I am so desperate for warm weather that I could literally hurt someone. People who claim that they like the winter, for instance...if you're one of those, just keep your mouth shut! Dreaming about a beach vacation is like chicken soup for my winter-weary soul right now, and it's about the only thing getting me out of bed.

4) I've been wanting to make a big fuss over our first anniversary. The past year has gone by so fast, and we've both been so busy and stressed out that we really wanted a special way to take time out to celebrate, just the two of us. I'm thinking that 5 days on a beach, away from normal life and responsibilities should do the trick!

Shockingly, I haven't always been into the tropical scene. In fact, I used to bristle at the very idea of beach vacations, having decided that there were simply too many more "important" travel destinations to blow precious vacation time sweating away in the sand.

I blame this unfortunate stereotype on all of the cool kids in high school (a.k.a. my husband)who returned from their spring breaks in Cancun, in all of their tanned, beaded-haired glory, narrating ad nauseum their tales of blacking out and wet t-shirt contests. Not my thing. Ok, fine, maybe I was just a teensy bit jealous too!

Of course, I'd relent and give up a few hours to hang out at the beach while touring Barcelona. I even enjoyed myself (minus the second degree sunburn I sustained) in Cinque Terre, when we were forced to spend nearly 8 hours literally roasting in the Mediterranean because it was the height of the tourist season and the only hostel with any vacancy wouldn't allow us to check in until 5:30p.m, and it was way too hot to do much else!

In fact, I've always loved everything about the ocean. Living in California as a transplant from the Midwest, the coast was always a thrilling novelty, and I never missed a chance to explore a new stretch of beach. That is, if I was lucky enough to succeed in persuading one of my friends to take me after a lot of groaning. Native-born Californians have no CLUE how lucky they are! So, as you see, it's not a matter of disliking the ocean or tropical destinations as a rule, I was simply under the impression that "real" traveling involved museums, sightseeing and jam-packed itineraries.

Our honeymoon changed all of that for good! Each day in St. Barths consisted of lounging on one beach or another, or in our villa's pool with a view of a beach. I wasn't simply content, I was perfectly HAPPY with this situation! Why hadn't anyone let me in on this secret sooner?! I realistically spent half of that week trying to come up with a viable way for us to sell our home and belongings and move to the island...we're not talking just daydreaming here. Sadly, I haven't yet gotten creative enough to come up with a workable plan, so frequent trips to sunny places will have to do for now.

So take it from me: frowning on sultry destinations in favor of hectic tours of every historic monument in the entire city is dumb :) Sometimes, it's ok to just relax. Bring on the Margaritas!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday Brunch

We made a desperate run for groceries yesterday for the first time in over a month. Actually, make that TWO grocery runs (why oh why can't a single store carry our entire list?). Before we ventured out, an inventory of our pantry had revealed a sad state of affairs: several cans of tuna, a jar of salsa and some packets of hot chocolate. Apparently, we had been relying on the we're-recovering-from-the-flu-and-taking-care-of-a-new-puppy excuse to avoid grocery shopping just as we'd been using it to justify our willful neglect of laundry, bathroom cleaning, and snow shoveling for weeks on end. Something finally had to give, though, because our lack of a properly stocked kitchen was threatening to sideline, yet again, a major household event.

You'll be happy to know that the crisis was averted, and thank god for that, since today's brunch was extra special. We dusted off the twice-used power juicer that we purchased several years ago after the infomercial had us positively convinced that living without fresh-squeezed juice is worse than not living at all, and when we had money to burn on frivolous kitchen appliances. I digress...
First up: the peels of no less than 36 oranges filling our sink. My husband would say I have an issue with exaggeration, but we seriously used two entire bags of oranges on this little endeavor:
Said oranges, waiting to be squeezed into a pitcher of liquid crack, er, sunshine:
Say hello to my husband and his buddy, Jack LaLanne...

I see a few drops! Good to know that 36 oranges yields at least a shot glass of juice.

Now we're cooking. Screwdrivers, anyone? No? More for me! Don't look at me like that...it's almost noon!
Hello, delicious! A little thick and syrupy for my taste, but it's nothing a little H2O (or vodka)won't fix.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice is nice and all, but the greatness of the Sunday brunch staple that is banana pancakes should not be underestimated:

Cue the stomach growls! Meanwhile, Gordon tries to distract himself from the smell of bacon permeating the entire house by trying to figure out what to do with his first rawhide bone, unaware of the puppy-sized pancake that is being made just for him. Though there's not a photo to show it, Louie prefers to man the kitchen, keeping a hawk-eye on that aforementioned bacon:
Finally, just to prove that while this vignette demonstrates how highly cultivated we are, having brunch and everything (do I hear someone laughing out there?), we still know how to keep it real:
Maybe it's just me, but enjoying my freshly squeezed O.J. from a Biggie glass makes it that much sweeter!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

La vie en rose

It's fitting that my first post follows Marion Cotillard winning this year's Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf. Leave it to a French actress to exclaim, "thank you life...thank you love!" as part of her impassioned acceptance speech. It sums up fairly well everything that I adore about French culture.

Pardon My French refers to my at times obnoxious love affair with all things French :) It started when I first set foot in Paris as a sixteen year old, it's what first spurred the utter obsession I have for exploring new places, it has absolutely guided all of my major life decisions and shaped my perspective on pretty much everything.

So that covers my title and a bit about me. I have no idea what the blog itself will be...probably just me rambling from time to time about some aspect of my life with my new husband and dogs. Sounds enthralling, I know :) Thanks for indulging me!

Back to the awards...I'll have another post shortly!