Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antoinette's Birthday Fun

Our friends, Antoinette and Doug, asked if we wanted to meet up for sushi last Friday.  Of course we did!  I found out the morning before they got here that it was also Antoinette's birthday, which she had failed to tell me!  Facebook knows all..........

Anyway, luckily, no rain.  We recommended I Love Sushi because they were bringing their puppies and we needed outdoor seating.  Met there, we pulled up and parked just as they were pulling up.  Got an outdoor table.  Food was amazing, and Kurt had a few too many drinks. I had an amazing banana smoothie. It was an fabulous lunch with awesome people.  We had a great time.  walked around Jaco a little afterwards do Doug and Kurt could buy grass seed (almost impossible to find in this country) and Antoinette could look for a shirt she wanted and saw the last time they were here.  She found the shirt, as well as a dress, and the boys got their grass seed that was finally in.  They bought the place out (of all 2 boxes).  I told them we need to do sushi for every birthday.



Had to get something notarized and learned some things about that system.  basically, only lawyers can be notaries in Costa Rica.  Also, not all lawyers are notarizes, it's a specialized training on top of being a lawyer, much more intense that in the US where you basically fill out some documents and send them in.  I was a notary, but I needed m signature notarized so I had to find someone here.  It was easy, just picked a lawyer's office, went in, he spoke English, signed and that was it.  Easy peasy.

We thought we were getting out car back this week, talked to our lawyer again today, and now customs is saying within 20 days.  I would scream, but I look at things differently here and it is what it is.  this is not the country to be pushy or not patient.  Things take time.

A company came to our house today in relation to solar panels.  They also gave us some ideas on conserving energy in the house.  We have to go to the municipality tomorrow to get our wiring and architectural pictures and get them to the guys, and then we go from there.  We are getting panels as well as a system that heats water.  Pretty soon, we will be like totally off the grid!  Also, because of the amount of panels we are getting, we may end up having almost zero bills per month.  Basically, if you use less energy than the panels produce, then ICE, the electric company, buys the energy back from you.  They then apply it to other bills you have, like internet, cell phones, satellite.  So, if we may have no regular utility bills by the time we are done each month.  Our only bills per month then would be food and gas for the car/scooter.  And then other yearly bills like insurances and the like.


 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cooking in Costa Rica and Sushi Wednesdays!

I have been cooking a lot in Costa Rica and eating a lot at home.  Trying out a lot new recipes.  Some good, some not.

One of my most recent favorites is falafel burgers.  SO good. The recipe makes exactly enough for Kurt and I for dinner.  I make them and put them over rice, and add some fresh guac and hot sauce to the top.  The first time I added some black beans to the rice as well, so it was kinda a mix of a Costa Rican and Middle Eastern meal.  Have made that twice, both times super good.



Another meal I made recently I really liked was pasta with cauliflower alfredo sauce.  So, healthy alfredo sauce!  Made oregano garlic parmesan toast to go with it.  Kurt was not a huge fan of the cauliflower sauce, but I loved it.  It made a lot, so I froze the remainder.



I also made a homemade spicy marinara sauce to go with pasta, with extra to freeze.  That one was a winner for everyone in the household.  Whoot.   This recipe is flawed that I posted though.  It said to use 4 oz of tomatoes, and I knew that could not be right, that is barely a serving.  So, I upped it to 28 oz as I saw other recipes called for.

I made these pancakes in muffins tins.  You can't see from the pic but they cave in the middle so you can put fruit or whatever in them.  I just put the fruit all over the top for Kurt with syrup.  He liked them a lot, but there were way too many.  Next time need to freeze the remainder or have them the next meal.

 

We don't drink very often, but the other day at the grocery store, Kurt found Rum and Coke in a can!  He of course has to buy it.  He liked them both, but the Bamboo brand slightly more.  And my vodka drink was super yummy.

 

 
We are still eating out only about once a week unless we have friends visiting.  However, I recently discovered that Jaco sushi places have half off on Wednesdays!  So last Wednesday, we ventured out to Tsunami Sushi for half off.  The entire menu is not half off, but about 75% of the sushi rolls are.  We had an awesome meal.  We will def be doing that more on Wednesdays.  Really enjoyed the meal.

 

Scooters and Pharmacies

So, I posted before about the scooters we got, which we are loving.  This is a good thing, since we have been without a car since August 2.  While our friend was visiting the States, we borrowed his, but since he got back, we have been solely using the scooters. 



Basically, when you move to Costa Rica and drive a car here, you have 90 days to pay the taxes on it.  This is not simple though.  You have to leave the car with a customs agent who has to have someone from the government inspect it and put a *value* on it.  This is not based on USA blue book.  It's their calculation.  You have to turn over a copy of the title as well as the invoice from purchasing the vehicle, your passport copy and some other random items.  Once they determine the value, you pay between 30-50% tax to bring your car into the country.  This seems really high, however, buying a car here is SUPER expensive and will be about 50% higher than the USA anyway, so either way, you are going pay this *tax*.  Anyway, there have been some complications with getting a valuation on our car.  First, our car is a 2013 Nissan Xterra, which apparently has not been valued yet in Costa Rica.  So, this is confusing for them I guess.  We are supposedly going to have the car back next week, but as with anything in Costa Rica, I am not holding my breath or holding anyone to that approximation.  It will be nice to have it back as it is rainy season, so we basically cannot do anything that involves leaving our house if it is raining.  And you totally cannot predict the rain.  Some days, nothing.  Other days, rains all day.  We try to when we see it is sunny, get on the bikes and do what we need to do, like the gym, grocery store, any errands.

Anyway, back when we first started riding the scooters, I started hopping on the back of Kurt's bike because it was just easier.  There is this hill and bump at the end of our street that had gotten worse because of the rain and some work trucks that came through.  The wheel on Kurt's turned weird and the scooter fell.  We were barely moving, so it just kind of tipped over.  Kurt fell one way, I fell the other.  The way I fell, my leg fell on the exhaust? which is very hot.  So, a big part of my leg was burned, like really far down.  I did not even realize this at first.  I thought I had scrapped my leg really badly.  I was shaking it hurt so bad and started to walk home because there was no way in hell I was getting back on the scooter, LOL.  Got home and realized it was burned.  It hurt so bad though, I could not even touch it.  Kurt got some bandages for me and I put those on, but they were not really good since when I would change them over, they would pull skin off that was regrowing.  This was all right before we had Lisa and Brian in town, so I avoided going to the pharmacy to get something.  Once they left, we went to the pharmacy and they gave me a cream that was an antibiotic, pain reliever and something else I can't recall.  This stuff worked immediately.  It made me feel better and it started to heal the area.  So, now it is totally healed for the most part.  However, it is still red and looks crappy.  I am hoping it eventually looks like my actual *leg* again and not like an injury.

I quickly got over my fear of the scooter though and jumped back on.  No falls since.  That part of the road is fixed now and before it got fixed, I was getting off the bike and Kurt would walk it up.  He felt really badly I got hurt and he was not going to fall there again with my on the bike.

Kurt's allergies have started to act up here again, so he took his old Flonase nose spray into the pharmacy to get it filled.  They don't have Flonase here, but they gave him something similar that he says is working.  Whoot.  Love not having to visit a dr to get a prescription. It rocks. 


 
Wow, time flies in Paradise!  No postings since August 17?



We had our first visitors over the last weekend in August.  Lisa and Brian, two of our friends from Michigan, came to Costa Rica.  Lisa found some insanely low price via Delta to fly out and booked it.  Lisa is a friend of mine from high school in Manistee, and Brian is her husband.  Lisa is also an attorney, like I formerly was in my past life.  They are the ONLY people I know who travelled more than Kurt and I did.  They also are obsessed with animals and have no children, so they are very similar to us. 



Anyway, Lisa and Brian flew into San Jose late, so they spent the night then headed over to Jaco in their rental SUV.  They stayed at Los Suenos, which I recommended since they are Marriott fans.  We got to see the pool area and their room and the place seemed very nice.  They also got a kickass rate because it is "low or green" season here.  Saturday they got here mid afternoon, and Kurt and I headed over on the scooter to find them.  Los Suenos has some killer speed bumps on the scooter!  Found Lisa and Brian by the pool so we laid there a bit and made a reservation online to do Jose's Crocodile Tour in Tarcoles at 4 PM.  We got a call seeing if we could come at 315 instead so we raced over there.  Got there, and the guy who owns the place goes to our gym!  Kewl we know somebody who runs a tour we really like.  The tour was awesome, saw lots of birds and crocs.  We saw this bird I have never seen that is pink, but not a flamingo.  Called a Spoonbill.  Click here to see a pic.  Mine came out blurry as they were far away and it was starting to get dark. 



After that, headed into town for dinner as Lisa and Brian were getting hungry after a long day.  We ate at Taco Bar that night and everyone had a great meal.  After that, stopped at the pharmacy as I needed some bandaids and Lisa needed sunscreen.  While there, we think we saw a prostitute with her pimp getting some medication for a medical "issue".  That was our interpretation anyway, haha.  Called it a night after that, as we knew we were getting up early the next morning.




Got up early Sunday to go to Manuel Antonio National Park and on a hike.  Drive there was easy, parked and paid for our entry ticket.  While in line, we were approached by a park ranger who offered to give us a private tour.  We hired him, and off we went.  He told Lisa if she did not see a sloth, we would get our money back.  This was perfect since seeing a sloth was the main thing Lisa wanted to do while in Costa Rica.  She also wanted to see a tapir, but those are in really remote areas we did not have time to get to this trip.  I have never seen a sloth at Manuel, so I was excited the guide said that!  We saw not only one sloth, but like 8!  It was sloth craziness!  We also saw both capuchin and squirrel monkeys, which was awesome, since squirrel monkeys are rare outside the Osa.  It was an awesome tour. 



Our Guide, Leo, also offered to do the Damas Monkey Island Tour with us the next day, so we set up a meeting place for that and left.  Left there and had lunch at this awesome place called El Avion, which my friend Kim recommended.  It was soooooo good.  I had a lobster burger, and shrimp soup.  Both superb and our view, from the best table in the place, was killer.  I also had a great banana drink.  That night for dinner, we ate at Los Amigos.  Awesome day.




Next day was the Damas Monkey Island Tour.  Had to get up insanely early for this one and met Leo in Quepos.  Headed to the river for the tour.  This tour, Lisa really wanted to see an anteater.  Leo said he would try and find one.  We were also guaranteed to see a crocodile or our money back.  First thing we saw were capuchin monkeys.  We pulled up to the mangroves and the monkeys were jumping all over us and the boat.  It was somewhat chaotic.  They really like bananas.  After that, we saw a boa and the anteater.  The anteater was not what I was expecting though.  It was a variety called the silky anteater, which is a lot smaller than the anteaters I have seen.  It is orange, and the one we saw was pregnant and high up in a tree sleeping, kinda like a sloth does.  Very kewl we saw one though.  The views in the mangroves were relaxing and stunning.  I love the mangroves. 



After the tour, we headed into town to have breakfast at another place with an amazing view.  I have a breakfast burrito that was incredible.  We decided to chill at the beach after that.  Parked and rented chairs.  Then this woman approached us and asked if we wanted massages.  Duh.  Everyone but Kurt got hour massages.  Walked some on the beach, Kurt and Brian drank a few rum and cokes, and Lisa and Brian ended up going parasailing for only $75 total!



 Lisa and I got offered free surf lessons too, but we turned them down since we were both wearing bikinis which are not what you wear to learn how to surf.  All of us got way too much sun.  No clue why I forgot sunscreen, but it was not bad and had faded by the next day.  Dinner that night was without Kurt as he had to co-host his one radio show, so we decided to try a place I have not been to called Pajara Pinta.  It was incredible.  They use all local, natural ingredients.  You can't even order a Coke.  I got this mahi wrap that was awesome.  We also ordered hummus for the table to share.  The lemonade I got was incredible as well.  It was so good I took Kurt there on Saturday night for date night a couple weeks ago.

Lisa and Brian left the next morning, but I would say the trip was a raging success!  Can't wait for more visitors.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Life Update

Not a lot of posting lately, as life is just happening and nothing ultra exciting is going on.  Which is fine with me, as too much excitement exhausts me.

We fired our yard guy.  Well, told him we did not need his help anymore.  When we first started using him, he worked hard and for the entire day and showed up every day except Sunday.  But as time went on, a lot of things he did started to annoy us.  First, every day, Kurt would get up at 655 AM to unlock our gate.  Kurt is a light sleeper, so basically once he gets up for the morning he cannot come back to bed and sleep.  The guy started just showing sporadically.  Which annoyed Kurt since he was getting up early to let the guy in every day.  And the guy would never tell us ahead of time if he was not showing up.  We talked to him about it, asked him to let us know or text if he was not going to be over.  He did it like once then just started showing when he wanted again.  We might have been able to deal with that, however, shortly after that, his work product started to diminish.  I kept telling Kurt we were being "ticoed", which basically means someone from Costa Rica taking advantage of people not originally from here because of the language barrier or whatever.  He was supposed to work from 7 AM until 4 PM with an hour lunch.  He started showing up later and later, taking longer lunches, leaving earlier, and wanting to be paid for the 8 hour day.  And it is hard to tell if he even is there or not as he works throughout the property.  Also I have no desire to stalk my workers and follow them around to see if things are being done.  We also noticed he was bringing him one kid to work and playing with him instead of working, taking calls, talking on his cell about 50% of the time while working, and taking many breaks to talk to or hang out with the guys working across the street on the neighbor's property.  Anyway, finally enough was enough.  Kurt decided that we are going to work on our own property for a while, and if we get sick of it, hire someone else to do the job.  Lots of people around here need and want the work and will actually do it.  I am not going to pay someone to simply hang out at my property and work at 50%.

Speaking of working on the yard, I actually did some yard work.  Which is very rare.  I don't mind doing almost everything around the house, but I don't usually do yard work as I hate getting dirt on my clothes, in my nails, etc. We had a huge storm the other day and a lot of branches, bromeliads, and leaves fell in the yard.  Kurt was napping, and I went out with the wheelbarrow and started picking everything up.  Once Kurt woke up, he came out and helped me and we got it all done pretty quickly.  The lawn guy would have take an entire day or more I think.  He would pick up a branch, drag it to a pile while talking on his phone.  Take a break, get water, take another call.  Anyway, the yard work is exhausting!  Like another work out for the day.  I could really feel it in my legs the next day as I was working different muscles than a normal workout.

I have been cooking and baking a LOT.  I made mashed potatoes from scratch for the first time in my life the other day.  Kurt was thrilled as mashed potatoes are one of his fav foods.  I also have been making a ton of different muffins and breads as snacks for us.  I also finally bought the ingredients to make my chickpea cookie dough here and its nice to have that snack around again.

We went on this crazy hunt today for a dehumidifier.  Annoying.  Could not find one anywhere, and Kurt was driving me insane as he was getting more and more annoyed.  Certain things that would be simple to find in seconds or order online in the States are difficult to find here sometimes.  I told him to just let me post online on one of my boards and I would figure it out quickly, but instead, we went to like 10 places looking.  Of course, as soon as we got home, I figured it out pretty quickly.  Have a couple leads for used ones we will check out, or we will buy closer to San Jose on our next trip out there.

Still dogsitting for another week or so.  The cats will be happy when this is done with, as they have been stuck in one room since the dogsitting started. Poor kitties.

I found this app that lets me call the States for free on my phone called MagicJack.  Love it.  I am now calling my Mom every Monday night as Kurt is cohosting a radio show with a friend.  He is going to be hosting another show on Fridays soon as well.  I was so excited to find a way to call the States free of charge.

We are going to get an estimate for getting solar power at our house.  The most expensive bill by far here is the electric bill per month.  Supposedly with solar power you can reduce your electric bill by 75% plus.  So we are going to get info on it.

Pura Vida!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, baby Midas!

Midas is one!

I can't believe how time has flown this past year.  My baby is one!  Luckily for me, he still acts like my baby.  :)

I lost my boy Vito a year ago, which was devastating for me.  Even though he was sick and I knew it was going to happen, it did not make it any easier since Vito was my favorite.  He was such a loving, happy go lucky doggy.

However, I can now see a LOT of Vito in Midas, and I think in a way, Vito is still with us, through Midas.  Midas is so friendly, happy go lucky, and always nice to all humans and other animals.  He is also obsessed with Gretel, just like Vito was.  He is such a sweet dog, never getting angry and always giving lots of kisses and love.  The other day, Gretel tried to push him in the pool and he did not get mad at all.  Oscar and Gretel are always trying to steal his snacks, and he just lets them take his food.  he also will let the other pugs eat before him, and be the third to eat at the pug food dish.  He patiently waits.

Some unique things about Midas.  He LOVES to play fetch. I have never had a pug who fetched.  He can play for hours.  Sometimes he has issues giving me the toy to throw, but he always brings it back!  :).  Midas does what we call "fake bark".  He will want someone's attention, but instead of barking he opens his mouth, acts like he is barking, and nothing comes out.  He will also do fake bark on command.  I know he can actually bark as we have heard it, but he mostly choose to fake bark.  Midas is not big on human food, and does not really beg Kurt for snacks like the others do.  However, if you have anything that is sugary (i.e. candy, cereal, muffins), he will literally freak out and hound you.  Only sugar though.  Anything else is not that exciting to him.  Midas loves Costa Rica and the nice weather.  He spends a lot of time outside, even by himself, just sitting on the porch or running around the yard.  The other pugs like to be inside with us or near us on the porch.  Midas wants everyone outside all the time watching him.

Tomorrow, we are going to either make or buy Midas his own birthday snack.  I will try and take a picture, but I have a feeling the snack will be gone very quickly.......

Happy Birthday, Midas Ezekiel Haskell!  We love you to the moon and back.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Dogsitting

We are dogsitting our neighbor R.J.'s dogs for three weeks (started last Thursday).  He is back in the States getting married.  The dogs are two Yorkies that get along perfectly with the pugs.  But, it is a houseful of pets and kinda crazy!  :).  Luckily, we like dogs more than people..........

I made my own applesauce today.  Apples are not cheap in Costa Rica as the apples we know in the US are not grown here.  However, for some reason, the grocery store had them marked half off today, so I bought some and made awesome applesauce.  It turned out great.  It was pretty simple really, with the exception of the labor of peeling all the apples.  I used 12 apples, so that took me some time.  I had to do two batches too since I did not have a big enough pot to cook them all at once (really need some more kitchen pots here).  Also, used my new food processor and it worked awesome.  Yay!  Here is the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cinnamon-Spiced-Applesauce-15584.  Also, made another batch of guac while the apples were cooking.  I am a pro, I don't need to even look at the recipe any longer, :).

I also made Vegan Cream of Broccoli soup the other day.  I had broccoli that I needed to use up and this was made.  Super easy and looked yummy, however, it was for Kurt since I don't like broccoli.  I

Next on the list to make is cinnamon bread.  Was going to make tonight, but was kind of worn out from our workout tonight.

We took RJ to the airport on Thursday and afterwards stopped in San Jose to pickup the plates for the scooters.  Got those, then decided to stop at Taco Bar in Escazu for lunch, then Pricesmart to get a membership and Walmart for grass seed.  Pricesmart is like the Costco of Costa Rica.  Americans love it.  Lots of things we are used to from the US, but for reasonable prices instead of the crazy prices the grocery stores charge for American products.  There really is not much American I wanted, however, I really did not want to buy some things in bulk like paper towel, toilet paper.  I also got a food processor much cheaper than they are in Jaco.  We bought a bunch of candy and crap, and were sorry we did after the fact.  Will not be making that mistake next time.  I think it's because we had not seen some of the stuff in so long, we were like OH, that looks good, let's grab that.  Overall, great trip though.  And, we finally found grass seed.  No place in Jaco seems to sell it, or they are out.  Walmart and EPA had it, but WalMart had the kind that I wanted.  Whoot.

Oh!  I finally got mail.  We signed up with this company where you get an address in Miami, and then your mail gets forwarded to Jaco.  You get an email telling you that you have mail and you can pick it up the next day.  All sounds great except that we got an email, went there, nothing. This happened 5 times and they never had our mail.  SOMEHOW a miracle happened today and ALL our mail appeared there.  3 Pinconning Journals (kurt's mom got him a subscription a while back), a card from my sister, and my new drivers license.  Hooray for mail!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Pool Chairs

We decided when moving here to simply buy things slowly, as we found exactly what we wanted.  We are in no rush to fill the house with "things", and we have no need for having everything done immediately.   I have been watching Craiglist and Jaco boards on Facebook to see if things come up to buy that speak to me....

I previously went to a wedding in Florida for my friend, Katie.  At that wedding, outside, there were there amazing chairs that I loved.  I told Kurt I wanted one, but in Michigan, you cannot really have outside furniture for most of the year, so it was pointless to get one.  Plus, in MI, the only time I really spent outside was working out, not sitting on my back porch relaxing.  Here, we are on the front porch and in the pool area all the time, so awesome furniture makes sense.

Anyway, I saw some awesome chairs listed and HAD to look at them.  So, we headed to Hermosa Palms today, the area where the chairs were at, which is about 15 minutes from where we live.  It is down this horrible dirt road (this road would seriously drive me insane if I lived in Hermosa).  Got there and LOVED the chairs.  The couple had other stuff for sale too, but nothing that we need for the house, unfortunately.  Made an offer on the chairs, she called to get someone to deliver them, and we are the proud owners of some super kewl pool chairs.  We have already napped and hung out in them.  The pugs quickly figured them out too.  I have a feeling that once Bugsy is better and outside again, he will be loving those chairs and will lie right in the center of them.  :).

Tonight, I was proud of myself.  I really wanted to skip the gym and get fish tacos or a mahi burger from this new place that opened under the gym.  The chef is from this place that closed that I loved called Bohio's.  Bohio's closed because the owner is in prison for money laundering or something and awaiting trial.  So, Bohio's closed, and I guess the chef opened a new place.  It's nothing fancy at all, but I am guessing the food is incredible.  Of course, it's right under the gym and tempts me daily.  Then Kurt says, you know, you really can take a night off from working out, you work out twice a day.  He was NOT helping at all.  Anyway, I said no, I want to work out, and we did, and I made healthy dinners.  That may not be the case next time, LOL.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Car Stuff in Costa Rica

We have an SUV in Costa Rica, a Nissan Xterra, that Kurt drove from Michigan to Costa Rica.  This post is about the maintenance we have had to do on our car while here and the cost.

First, we needed an oil change right after I arrived here since Kurt drove so far to get here.  We took it to a place that you drove up to and they lifted the car in the air, with us inside. No wait.  The cost was about what it is in the States, but we got higher end oil. Super nice guy who owned the place.  Very close to our house in Herradura.

Today, we needed to get a flat repaired and changed, and wanted the car detailed since it was filthy from Kurt's trip down here.  Took it to the local gas station we usually fill up at.  In Michigan, a car detail would cost around $150.00 (for inside and out).  Also, there is generally an appointment that has to be made, and you usually have to leave your car there for hours.  In Costa Rica, drove right up and got in.  Total was $11.00.  They did an awesome job.  The tire patch was $6.00.  The guy fixed the tire, then switched it over for us and put our spare back underneath the car.  Super fast service.  Not sure what the cost for that in the States would have been.  But, I know it would not have been as easy or fast.

We ate at a new place or date night for sushi called Arigato.  I updated my restaurant post to include a review, but thumbs up to this place.  :).  Jaco was crazy busy today because of the holiday.  We lucked out though and got a table right away at Arigato.  SUPER long wait at POPS for ice cream.  Usually we walk right in and up to the counter.

I was a cooking fool today.  I made a new batch of guac and tartar sauce, as well as a strawberry banana bread.  I also made a new recipe of smashed potatoes for Kurt and black bean burgers.  I made a new pudding too which only has three ingredients and was super yummy and healthy. 

I also finished painting the wood for my closet that Kurt is going to build. So, hopefully he starts on that soon.  I would love to hang all my clothes up and stop living out of suitcases.

Bugsy it done with his antibiotic shots at the vet and now gets drops at home only.  We have a recheck appointment on Thursday.  Each time we have gone in though, they seem to think his eye looks better and better.  We have been barring Bugsy from going outside though as we don't want him to get into anything that will bother the eye.  He spends a lot of time in my bathroom in the sink.  Weird cat.  LOL.

Pura Vida!