Monday, January 24, 2011

No Problem, Mon: Jamaican Vacation

7-mile beach in Negril

For 10 days at over Christmas and New Year's, my family and I went to Jamaica!

My parents, brother and I flew into Montego Bay and had hired a driver to take us to Negril (~50 miles) over on the west coast of the island. We spent 4 days/5 nights at Country Country, which are beach cottages on the famous 7-mile beach of Negril. Our two cottages were a 30-second walk to the beach and I loved the laid-back feel of the place! Since there were only 24 cottages and not too many guests, we never had to fight for beach chairs or towels. We would have breakfast (included) at the beach bar every morning. My favorite was the banana pancakes with fresh fruit (papaya!) and pineapple juice. A lot of Jamaicans walked the beach selling their wares and we also bought fresh, warm, fluffy coconut bread from the bakery man on a daily basis. Yum! :) The rest of the day was spent wandering the beach, tanning/reading and water sports. That's my Mom and I parasailing in the picture below! Such an amazing 15-20 minutes with the most breathtaking views. It was expensive at $45/person (we negotiated) but my Dad treated us :) In the evenings, we would find restaurants out on the main road for dinner like jerk chicken shacks or (and this isn't a joke!) a place called "Perfect Restaurant" which actually WAS the best meal we had in Negril! (Oxtail with rice and "peas", which is rice and red beans.) Then we would play our favorite card game til 10 or 11pm, sleep until 10am and do it all over again.

I miss this!

Parasailing with Mom...amazing!

Country Country

After the glorious 5 days in Negril (with only 1 day of bad weather where we explored since there wasn't much sun and all the water sports were shut down for the day), we rented a car and drove down to Treasure Beach for the last 5 days. Luckily, my Dad is an amazing driver...because honestly, cars should not be rented in Jamaica! The potholes are EVERYWHERE and they are insane. We even encountered unpaved roads and had to get out and push the car at one point! But, nevertheless, it was fun and with the car we were able to do our own thing and take some neat day trips. We stayed at Jake's in Treasure Beach, which consists of a Mediterranean-style villas on some small cliffs. This was on the south coast and the weather was amazing the entire time! The food at the hotel wasn't the best (except for the Baked Oatmeal every morning!) so we ate at the adjacent restaurant, Jack Sprat's, a lot. We took day trips to Pelican Bar, Y.S. Falls and a small, not-overrun-by-tourists-town called Alligator Pond where we got interviewed live by a local radio station! More reading and more card games, plus making friends at the bar while drinking delicious passion fruit margaritas. New Year's Eve was spent at Jack Sprat's with a bonfire, fireworks, a few hundred tourists/locals and a stage complete with bands and DJs.

That's me reading! Our villa at Jake's.

Treasure Beach

Pelican Bar (ate freshly caught fish & played Dominoes with the owners!)

View from the villa.

This doesn't do the potholes justice, but you get the idea!

It was a phenomenal trip! Jamaica was more expensive than anticipated, mostly because tourism is by-and-far the largest industry for the majority of the country. Still, I definitely want to go back one day!
  • Take as many swimsuits as you own! I only took two and it definitely wasn't enough...even though I only own three. Good thing I had enough beach dresses!

  • Jerk chicken in Jamaica is actually doused with BBQ sauce. It's not the "spicy jerk" that you find in the States! We actually think that type of jerk chicken is found in Trinidad or some of the other Caribbean islands.

  • Jamaicans are incredibly friendly, but of course you only have to be careful that you aren't getting ripped off as a tourist. Even the little convenience stores away from the hotels weren't that cheap! And they really do say "No problem, mon!" all the type... but the whole Bob Marley thing is definitely a tourist attraction, as Jamaicans love their dance hall music.

  • I would stay at both of these places again! Country Country was small, laid-back and low-key while Jake's was more expensive but still IS Jamaica, after all! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011


iPhone for Verizon

Kindle 3

[via here & here]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

I've had a fantastic 3 day weekend! There's been a lot going on so I figured I would do some brief updates.

  • In case you don't follow me on Twitter, my dream job called on my birthday to schedule an in-person interview! I'm flying out at the end of the month and am SO excited/nervous! :)
  • I also spent the weekend telling some of my best friends and roommates about the interview, in case something does happen very quickly and I have to be open to it...some of them were rather surprised but they have all been incredibly supportive for which I am so thankful!
  • I went shopping after work on Friday. Bought a blazer from H&M ($54.32) to go with black pants for my upcoming interview since my old suit is...well...old! Plus a dark gray cardigan and little black dress from Nordstroms ($68.40 but used a gift card I got for Christmas).
  • Bought ice cream for $2.99 and watched "The Godfather" with friends on Friday night, which I had never seen but was surprisingly good!
  • On Saturday night, I drove to a girls' night. We had an awesome dinner ($30) at a really cute, trendy and inexpensive small-plates restaurant. The atmosphere was awesome and the food was delicious! I had a small salad, ahi tuna entree and a small dessert plus half a glass of sangria...the perfect amount of food. Yum!
  • Sunday was a full day of football and going out with friends after bootcamp class.
  • Went rockclimbing for the first time ever today and had a BLAST! Fantastic mental and physical workout. The price was $25 for the required first-time lesson, gear and 1/2-day pass. I definitely want to add this to my workout routine, even if it's just a few times a month!
What did you do this weekend? :)

Work Out Routine

I absolutely love to work out. Scratch that...I absolutely love to take workout classes! Since I'm really petite at only 4'10" and under 100lbs, I've never "needed" to work out, but I've always, always wanted to just to stay healthy and for my own mental well-being. I feel lucky because I know for a lot of people, working out is a struggle!

Disclosure: I never have been, and never will be, a runner. And I don't like using the machines at the gym! From when I was little all the way through middle and high school, I took dance classes. In college I took two different recreation classes every semester, from dance to stretch to kickboxing. After college, it took me six months to finally join a gym. I'm now in my third year of membership at 24 Hour Fitness (thanks to the fantastic Costco deal!) and I'm addicted to the classes. I've tried a variety of classes but have settled on my favorites: Turbo Kickboxing (TKB) and BodyPump (BP). For TKB, I love the high-energy, the awesome music and the fantastic instructors. It's great for cardio but also great for toning, since you constantly have to keep your "guard" up in front of your face which works your arms. I've been taking that class since October 2008 when I got my gym membership and I go 1-2x a week.

BP is new to my workout regime as of September 2010. I knew I wanted to add weightlifting to my routine but had no idea where to begin. And the lifting area and all the machines at the gym intimidates me! I asked one of my TKB instructors one day and she suggested I take her BP class. I did...and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for! It's a barbell class (you can read about BodyPump here) that is set to music. I started with the lowest weight possible on the bar for my very first class, 5lbs total (2.5lbs per side) for all the exercises: warm-up, squats, lifts, curls, presses and abs. As I continued to take the class only 1x per week, by mid-December I had increased my warm-up weight to 10lbs, squats to 25lbs and a range of 10lbs-15lbs for everything else! That's a 5x increase for squats in 4 months. :)

I also do a bootcamp class on the weekends. I have a friend from college who is working on becoming a personal trainer so after we had seen each other frequently at the same gym, she asked if I would want to join. How can I turn down a FREE outdoor workout?! We started in July 2010 and I have been going ever since...sometimes it's just the two of us so it's like a private class! We do everything from sprints, jump rope, stairs, lunges, army crawls, jumping jacks, abs and stretching. It's amazing cross-training!

So, no matter what the cost, I will always be a member of a gym that has the classes I love. My physical and mental health thank me every day and it helps me feel so good about myself!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm 25 today! A quarter of a It's weird to officially be in my mid-twenties, but I am loving it because I feel old enough without actually being old...if that makes any sense. ;) It's a great start to what I know will turn out to be a fantastic year!

My birthday snuck up on me after all the craziness of December and my lovely 10 day Jamaican getaway with the family. So, I'm doing a last-minute, low-key get together for happy hour with friends tonight. On Saturday I have another friend's Bachelorette party downtown so that will sort of be round two of my birthday celebration! And, as usual, my parents and brother mailed me a large box stuffed with gifts that I can't wait to open. :)

Happy Friday, everyone!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011: Be Open

Instead of a resolutions or goals for 2011, I am going to focus on something. At first, I told myself I was going to focus on LOVE...mostly because I absolutely love New York City and I want to find love. But thanks to Amy Spencer's recent post on her Dating Optimist blog, I realized that that I cannot just "find" love. So, instead:

I am going to be OPEN.

Be OPEN to moving to New York City.
Be OPEN to love.
Be OPEN to a new job.
Be OPEN to new experiences. (Rock climbing. Weekend getaways. New friends. New Meetup groups. Anything!)

I going to focus on this really hard. I'm going to put all my thoughts out there to the universe. I'm ready for all of the above. It might take a few months or most of the year, but that's okay.

Bring in on, 2011! I'm welcoming you with open arms. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Goals Review

By the second half of 2010, I had basically forgotten about my goals for 2010...but now that it's the new year, I need to recap no matter what!

  • Max out Roth IRA
    My final $200 needed for the $5K limit for 2010 was auto-transferred from my checking account last week. This is the first time I've fully-funded my IRA in one year, instead of going through to March of the following one!

  • E-Fund to $15K
    I accomplished this in June and it's still sitting pretty. :)

  • Continue with CFA exams
    I didn't pass Level 1 when I got my results in late January. After much contemplation (and the lack of a life for the 7+ months I spent studying in 2009), I decided not to continue with the exams for now. I might try again in a few years depending on my circumstances, but it was incredibly difficult to study without a direct support group (ie family in the city or a significant other) who could cook/help out with other tasks while I studied.

  • Take golf lessons
    I took a golf class in March and it was a small but fun group! Golf is an expensive hobby and since I don't have the money to devote to becoming really good (green fees and lessons), it's something I'll only do occasionally. But I still like going to the driving range when I can!

  • Knit 3 items
    I finished a beanie, a simple scarf and am currently halfway through an infinity scarf. I can't seem to just sit and knit, and I'm not good enough to do it while watching TV because I need to focus.

  • Volunteer
    I volunteered from January until September when my position wasn't exciting anymore. I did have fun in the beginning so I definitely want to find other options, especially one where other volunteers are more in my age range so I can potentially make some friends.
I don't plan on doing goals for 2011, but am having a blast reading all of yours out there! And I will be focusing on a resolution instead...

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