Wednesday, July 29, 2009
What can I say!? Turns out there are some definite advantages to living in the Rockies - even if it is in a small town. People travel from all over the world to experience scenes like the one above (taken at Yoho National Park - specifically Emerald Lake) and I have it in my backyard!!!!
This picture is just a spoiler of the wonderful mountain pictures to come. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to scheduling more posts for my vacation so you'll have to wait for my return. But I fly out tomorrow (from Cabo) and should be home sometime late on the 1st. Look for loads of updates and the announcement of the winner of the giveaway very soon!!!
Hugs and kisses from sunny Mexico! :o)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The last time I saw chicken (or beef or lamb or pork for that matter) it looked something like this . . .
What a strange sentence you probably say - and yes you're right. But above, ladies and gent, is the last time I ate chicken. As of right now I don't plan on having chicken ever again.
I have become a pescatarian.
That's what I'm calling myself - a pescatarian. I eat veggies, lots of fruits, grains, a limited amount of eggs or dairy (no milk), and seafood. But no pork, beef, chicken or lamb (that last one hurts btw). I've been gradually moving towards this point for a while now but I think I'm finally ready to go full-fledged!!
It's actually been weeks since I started and I have yet to stray from my pescatarian lifestyle! :o)
While I could pretend that this shift has to do with the ethics of eating meat and the like (and yes it was a consideration) it primarily has to do with my belly. It talked and I listened! Often after meals I would feel bloated, heavy, and generally unhappy in my tummy. This only happened when I strayed away from fruit/veggies/seafood. Which probably helps to explain why I was gravitating towards this lifestyle anyways.
Since I started my pescatarian way of life I feel better - like oodles better!!! I'm never sluggish or bloated. I always feel great and I love it. And as an additional bonus I've lost about 4lbs!!!!
I figure I can't be the only one who is drastically changing her diet - what changes have you made lately?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Yes it's true - my feet have been known to itch here and there.
I guess by know you've figured out I love food. I also love health and wellness. and I definitely LOVE traveling! In fact I'm sure some of you are starting to wonder if I ever stay put. lol
The answer? Not so much! :oP
In fact if I had my way I would travel even more and to more exotic destinations. The only thing stopping me is time. You see given my work I don't currently feel comfortable taking off for weeks on end. And for the fiance it's perfectly impossible.
But I still get away when I can. A short while ago I was in Mexico. This past week I was in the Rockies having a ridiculous blast (posts to come) and as you read this I'm back in Mexico.
Where in the world am I this time!? At a wonderful luxury resort in Los Cabos (Baja California, Mexico) called Cabo Azul! Woot woot!
It's an all-villa resort known for it's amazing three-level infinity pool.
The villas are ridiculously tricked out with everything you could hope for in a vacation suite!
Cabo Azul is full of wonderful design elements. Could you imagine the fun a wedding photographer could have in this place?
Yes. That's right. The resort has an amazing five story (!) open air chapel. And I'm strongly considering holding my wedding here!!!
I'll let you know how it all turned out when I get back!!! :o)
Hasta luego amigos!!!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Most of you know that I'm engaged to get married. Part in parcel with the joys of this momentous occasion comes the trepidation of wedding dress shopping. Every girl wants to look absolutely awesome on their wedding day. And that includes having all the jiggly bits under control - or better yet absolutely gone!!!
Most of us do squats, runs, and sit-up our way to fitness. But most of us (okay maybe just me) neglect our back. Sure it's an integral part of our bodies but how many exercises do you do that target your hind view? I know I don't.
But your back is pretty well one of the few things you can hide in evening dresses, bathing suits, or simple summer sheaths. The last thing I want is spillage (you know what I mean :oP).
Enter SELF magazine. They've posted a workout that will help you sculpt your way to a sexy back. I have to say I've started to incorporate moves like this into my workout routine and I'm already seeing the difference. I'd never had a line down my back before and I kind of love it.
Don't believe me? Give it a try!!! :o)
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The time has finally come. :o) But first let's talk about Cancun.
While in Cancun, Mexico we stayed at the Westin Resort & Spa. A beautiful place although decidedly more modern than some of the other places we'd called "home" during our Yucatan/Quintana Roo trip.
That's not to say it wasn't fantastic ('cause it was) but it was however more slick and less full of character than our other accommodations. Having said that modern and slick has it's advantages! :oP lol
We were only in Cancun for one night - basically just so we could sleep closer to the airport instead of far away. While at the Westin Resort I indulged in some seriously good eats. You see we had chosen to stay in the Royal Beach Club section of the resort. It sounds more expensive (and it was) but you also got one crazy deal. The RBC section included private beach and pool areas, a breakfast buffet, and unlimited cocktails and appetizers at night. Really it was more like a buffet dinner. And it was good!!!
You can't really tell but my plate was mostly loaded down with seafood. They served these wonderful fish rolls which I loved. I also developed a particular penchant for these guys:
Desserts!!! On pedestals!!!! lol Want a close-up?
Can you also believe I made it through an entire Mexico trip and only had ONE (seriously strong) frozen beverage? Nuts!!!
The beach in Cancun wasn't very deep (or is that wide). It also contained lots of ground-up coral making it kind of rough. But that doesn't mean it wasn't capable of producing some lovely sunsets!
I have to admit by this point I was sad. Not only because I was leaving Mexico but mostly because I had to say good-bye to my mommy. I'm quite close with her and it was an absolute treat to travel around with her. I don't get to see my parents nearly enough.
Still I was grateful that I was given the opportunity to share so many wonderful moments with my mom. She'd wanted to go to Mexico for the last 30 years. And I finally took her there. :o) I'm kind of pleased as punch about that!!!
I'm going to get in trouble for posting this picture. But c'est la vie! :oP lol Sorry mom!!!! But I like it! Don't be mad.
On our last morning we enjoyed the buffet breakfast at the hotel. They had so many wonderful eats to choose from but my granola, yogurt, fruit bowl was my favourite part. You see I had spent so much of my trip fearing the water (mostly 'cause of the water they washed it with) that it was a relief to finally enjoy the wonderful tropical flavours!
The morning of our departure just flew by (they always do)! It was with a melancholic heart that we said good-bye to the beautiful grounds of our hotel and headed to the airport.
On the flight out of Cancun we were treated to a spectacular view of the hotel zone:
While looking out my window I found myself wondering when I would next get to return to Mexico. Of course I never dreamed it would be soon! :o)
On the whole, my trip to Mexico was amazing. I got to enjoy varied locations - a bit of resorts, a bit of history, and a bit of lonely stretches of beach. I loved everywhere I went and it's no exaggeration to say that I made memories to last me a lifetime. I honestly could not think of a better way to celebrate my call to the bar.
I loved it all!!!
Now here comes the part you've been waiting for - the giveaway!!!! While in Mexico I thought of you bloggies and bought a little something for you from the Mayan vendors at Chichen-Itza:
Do you like it? It's a small hand-decorated ceramic container. The lid can be removed allowing you to put whatever you want inside. I thought it would make a great hiding place for jewellery, keys, or even pocket change.
Want to see a side-view of the hand painted details?
It's a cute little piece and I'd love to give it away to one of you bloggies. A little piece of Mexico from me to you! :o)
All you have to do to enter is the following (entry open to non-bloggers as well):
1) Comment on this blog AND
2) Link back to this blog (if you have a blog)
Once you have done that email me the link to your post at tobethewholepackageATgmail.com
If you do not have a blog to link back from then just email me and let me know. I'll happily include you in the giveaway! :o)
Remember you have to fulfill BOTH steps in order to qualify. I'd hate for you to miss out on the giveaway just because you forgot to email me.
Contest ends at 4pm PST on Saturday, August 1st, 2009. Now go and spread the word!!!! :o)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wow! Talk about falling off the face of the blogosphere for a whole week!!!!!! Eeek!!!
First came a heat wave that kept me up until 3AM every day (I have no AirCon so I was seriously suffering). Of course that massively threw off my sleep schedule. Also not good. Needless to say the last thing I wanted to do in the blistering heat was sit at my hot computer.
And just when the weather got better I went away for a business trip. I know it sounds like a drag but it wasn't. It was nothing short of AMAZING!!!! You see I went to attend court in the Golden, British Columbia area. I woke up really early each day (up by 5AM) to start working on files even before court. And in the days leading up to my trip I worked. A LOT.
But then there was my reward. I would finish my matters for the day and since I couldn't go back to the office I would instead go and PLAY!!! And boy did I play! I had many wonderful Rocky Mountain explorations.
In fact yesterday I think I had one of those "highlight" moments. As in, if they were to play a highlight reel of my life that moment would make the cut.
But enough about my most recent adventures. I still have to finish my Mexico recap. So here's the plan. I'm going to make my final recap a two part edition. With one posting going up late tonight and another tomorrow. The giveaway will run all of next week and I'll announce the winner when I return from my trip to Cabo (I leave Sunday - wee!!!).
I'll also do my very best to schedule posts while I'm away. :o)
On with the Recap . . .
Treasures of an Ancient Civilization
One of the things I was determined to do in Mexico was to visit some amazing Mayan ruins. Yes it was more touristy than I'd kept things up until that point but I figured Chichen-Itza was a must-see!
Of course I was determined to avoid the hordes of bus tourists that descend on the ancient grounds every day. I figured the best way to do this was to stay right near the ruins. Enter the Hacienda Chichen - an amazing Colonial Hacienda built for the Spanish Crown shortly after the discovery of the ruins.
At one point the Hacienda even housed the archaeologists that came to excavate Chichen-Itza. Indeed, small cottages were erected on the grounds of the Hacienda to house the men. And that's where we stayed.
The Hacienda itself was chosen by National Geographic Traveler as one of the few hotels to be listed on their must stay list. Specifically, it was honoured as a site that actually contributes to it's surroundings. And although the Hacienda has a bit of a turbulent history (I learned while I was there that some of the foundations of the main house were built using the stones from the ancient pyramids) it was nonetheless amazing.
For starters it had THE most amazing grounds! Lush gardens, beautiful fountains, open air terraces, and an incredibly lush jungle. In fact I don't think I've ever heard such a massive amount of birds!!!!
In fact the Hacienda itself was home to its own share of ruins. Such as the ancient gates that led to the Hacienda in its hey-day.
If you follow the path beyond the arch you come across the well that once provided water for the whole Hacienda. And a little further the Chapel where the wealthy and noble dwellers of the Hacienda worshipped.
The whole Hacienda was just amazing and without a doubt its place on the National Geographic list was truly deserved!!!
Probably THE best part of the Hacienda is how ridiculously close it is to Chichen-Itza. In fact you can see some of the ruins from the main house. That's because as it turns out, the family that owns the Hacienda also owns all the land that Chichen-Itza is on (and the Mexican people own the ruins themselves).
If you're thinking that it's absolutely horrible that such an amazing part of the Mexican heritage is owned by a family . . . well you're not alone!!! Turns out the land originally belonged to the American explorer that excavated Chichen-Itza (Mr. David Thompson). When he was done in Mexico he returned to the United States along with many of the treasures from the ruins. But before leaving he sold the land to the current owners.
Needless to say the Mexican government was less than impressed and banned Mr. Thompson from returning to Mexico. Today, the loot from Chichen-Itza is at Harvard University's Peabody Museum. I would be seriously curious to see the gold and silver art dredged from the bottom of the ancient sacred well (cenote).
Getting off my soap-box now. :oP
Where were we?
Oh yes - we hit Chichen-Itza as soon as it opened and had it basically to ourselves. The site is in a continual state of exploration. You see the structures themselves were taken apart by the Spaniards. The stones for the pyramids and other temples lay scattered all over the ruins. It's not uncommon to see incredibly perfect rectangular rocks (with carvings!) just lying in random places.
The local Mayan people continue to work tirelessly to put the ancient ruins back together:
Think of it as one giant jigsaw puzzle lost not only due to human intervention but also to the passage of time. The jungle has a way of claiming back the land. Some of the pyramids currently resemble no more than large mounds of dirt. Me thinks that the work at Chichen-Itza will never be finished.
I wonder what secrets the Mayan ruins will reveal. It's kind of exciting actually (and yes I'm a bit of a geek)!
But I couldn't help but be in awe of such perfect structures. Such perfect and incredibly ancient structures!!!!
Above is a picture of the Temple of the Warriors. It's an endless amount of columns with warrior scenes etched on them. Behind them is a temple where warriors attended before and after battles. If you've watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto well then I'm sure you can imagine what went on there. And I'll leave it at that. :oP
I really can't explain how amazing Chichen-Itza was so I'll let the pictures do the talking . . .
And did I mention the grounds are absolutely massive!?!??! Massive!!!
Still, despite the 45 degree heat (Celsius) I was blessed to be able to see some amazing sights. Such as the observatory (look familiar? :o) pictured above.
There's no denying the bloody history behind the Mayans. But on the whole the ruins are so vast and inspired (if I can use that word) that one can't help but be impressed. I loved my visit to the ruins and I would recommend it to anyone! Preferably early in the morning, away from the hordes, but that's just my preference talking. :o)
All in all I walked away a whole lot more proud of my heritage (somewhere in my vein courses a tiny bit of Mayan blood). It was a great visit. And I was sad to leave the lush beauty of Chichen-Itza for the coastal city of Cancun.
To be Continued . . .
Friday, July 17, 2009
I can happily report that I had a wonderful eight hours of sleep and I feel completely regenerated. You see the last couple of days marked the return of my big bad trial. Thankfully it wrapped yesterday but I got home after about 12 hours of work and was completely drained.
I slept like a baby. Sleep was just what I needed. :o)
Tonight I'm looking forward to posting the final recap of my Mexico trip and a GIVEAWAY!!!! lol It's good times here in bloggie land.
But for now I thought I'd share with you a random picture from my massive collection. This beauty was taken on the Santa Monica Pier in Christmas 2007. I had loads of fun on that trip and this picture is a good reminder of that. Plus I just love the birds flying, the wave coming in, and the colours. :oP
Enjoy your Friday peeps - see you later!!!!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Just when I think I've found all the awesome blogs out there I find another one!!! Such was the case recently when I started reading Mission to Another Marathon.
It's not a food blog but it is a training/weight-loss blog. Marlene, the author, has come so far in such a relatively short period of time! If she's not an inspiration I don't know who is. :o)
Plus by all accounts she has a really good heart. Often participating in charity races. In particular, I was drawn by the fact that she is currently helping to organize a race in Toronto called Run4Rett.
You see, Marlene has a friend with a daughter that suffer from Rett's Syndrome and started this event.
Rett's syndrome is an unfortunate disease caused by a random genetic mutation. Essentially it's a severe neurological disorder affecting 1:10, 000 female births. It is often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or a non-specific development delay. Many girls experience seizures, scoliosis, and the inability to communicate verbally. As a result girls and women with this disease are dependent on families or caregivers for life.
This year will mark the second year that Run4Rett will be held. Last year's event raised over $50,000 for the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association and attracted over 425 people!
Marlene is helping to organize this year's run/walk 5k and 1k which will be held on Saturday, October 17th in Richmond Green Park (in Richmond Hill, Ontario).
If you happen to be in the Southern Ontario area in October I highly encourage you to sign up through the Running Room.
And even if you can't make the race I do hope you'll consider checking out Marlene's blog! She's an inspiration and a blogger with heart! :o)
Monday, July 13, 2009
So I say it's time we return to the Mexico vacation recap. When last we left off I was in Tulum with the fiance and my mother. The purpose of our trip to Tulum had been to go and check out a potential wedding site. It turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. Gorgeous. Perfect for a destination wedding. And also bleeding money.
Unfortunately, on our second night there the lady who ran the place told us (and believe me she was gutted while explaining things) that they didn't know if they would be around in a couple of months. Much less in November 2010. I was sad - in fact I'm still disappointed. Nonetheless I was determined to still have a fantabulous time on my Mexico vacation!
And next was the beautiful colonial city of Merida - the capital of the Yucatan. Our trip to that city had nothing to do with wedding related activities. We were just going because we had heard it was beautiful. You see once upon a time Merida was once amongst the richest cities in the world (all thanks to the production of henequen into fabric). And it shows!!!
Do you see that ridonculous mansion!?!?! I took the picture on the Paseo Montejo. A massive tree lined avenue very reminiscent of the Champs Elysees in Paris. Simply stunning.
To be honest I was expecting Merida to be nice but I was really WOWed by the city. It was full of beautiful architecture, fantastic museums, wonderful stores (I picked up an amazing silver bracelet and some beautiful and inexpensive designer linen pieces), expansive plazas, and beautiful hotels.
Now not all of the city was as sparkling and clean as the Paseo Montejo and the restored hotels. Some of the city had a bit of a gritty appearance mixed in with the history. In that way it was REALLY reminiscent of Europe. I figure it's bound to happen with old historical cities! I think it only added to the city's charm!!
The history of Merida was absolutely pervasive everywhere we went. Take for instance the Cathedral - stunning architecture and constructed in part with the building stones of an ancient Maya temple.
The public buildings of the city were also incredibly beautiful. In fact some of them were reminiscent of the Sorbonne (Paris IV) buildings where I studied in Paris.
The art inside the buildings was also absolutely incredible. They were full of gut wrenching works that showed the history and beliefs of the Mayan people. Such as the fact that the Mayan believe man was created from corn.
The paintings also showed the brutal way in which the Spanish Conquistadores destroyed Mayan artifacts.
And the way in which the Mayans were ultimately enslaved by the Spaniards.
Such beauty and sadness mixed together in one magnificent locale!
On the whole there were a couple of things that stood out from my trip to Merida - the first being the people . . .
So proud of both their history and the fact they were Yucatecan! A pleasure to be around!! :o)
And probably the biggest highlight of my trip to Merida was my hotel. Oh. My. It was magnificent!!!!
We stayed at the Hotel Hacienda Merida and I could not have loved it more. In fact it's been voted one of the Best New Small Luxury Hotels of the World by Conde Nast. And I can see why:
The Hacienda was very small and wonderfully appointed. The love that had gone into creating the place was evident throughout! You see the place is owned by a French man of Corsican descent (an incredible host) who turned his vacation property into a hotel. He's filled the place with wonderful touches such as paintings done by his father:
On our one night in Merida (yes our time there was too short) we enjoyed a glass of wine while enjoying the beautiful courtyard. It was honestly one of the most memorable moments of our trip!
The arcade was light up at night making the setting romantic . . . relaxing . . . perfect!!
Needless to say I LOVED LOVED LOVED the Hotel Hacienda Merida. It was absolutely special! I've travelled all over the world and I can honestly say it ranks right at the very top of my favourite places I have ever stayed. Maybe even at the very top!
Not only would I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Merida but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you stay at the Hacienda Merida. In fact, I can honestly say I would stay there in a heartbeat!!!
All in all my time in Merida was too short. I loved it there and I look forward to going back sometime in the future. Swine flu or no swine flu! :oP lol
PS: It was 45 degrees and I was dripping in sweat in the above picture. Hence why I look all hot and bothered and my wet hair is pulled back! :o)
PPS: The Hacienda is super reasonably priced for what you get too! Awesome value for your money!!