Month: March 2019

Great visit, even better service afterwards!

Things we enjoyed. We stayed 4 times and walked around PDC a whole lot. Always felt secure (although we did not party and wandered around the area late at night).

Nice looking resort. Recently upgraded rooms. Seemed clean. Air con worked amazingly. Always warm water. Continental breakfast was really WAY better than many”non-resort” resorts! Notably Cynthia and Humberto in front desk. They worked hard and went over and beyond to assist us.

Things we did not like. You have heard the testimonials. You understand there could be audio noises at night. We had one night very loud and the following three nights we did not hear the sister resort’s music in any way. Must depend on that night along with also the positioning of your area.

Pool and poolside was from the color a great deal of the afternoon so that the pool was colder than my 10 years old favored. The principal thing we did not enjoy when we got in our area. It smelled awful like moldy/mildew tropical. I understand that is the tropics. However, it did require two days of terrace door open to clean out the odor thoroughly. However, other guests said their area did not smell in any way. They also mentioned a fly fishing riviera maya mexico trip very close to the hotel. We must try it in another time.

So general, we’d stay here again. Fantastic deal for the price, good site. I believe I’d just request a separate room next time when it smells overly plump.

Hacienda Paradise is a really great resort, with charming rooms and setups, as well as the team, make your stay really Pleasant. The hotel is well located between the 5th Avenue (stores ) and the shore. The report quality/price is quite excellent.

Great place. My son was reserved in a different place that seemed dangerous & self – Gonzalo made space available for my son to proceed to the Hacienda which was quite comfy. The one issue is another door hotel with loud audio & Morning on weekends.

That Darned Cat: DIY Cord Protector

Greetings!

As promised I’m sharing with you, my ingenious technique for preventing those pesky felines (I mean, loving fur balls) from chewing your $80 macbook pro cords into oblivion! This is the first in my new series, That Darned Cat! where I try to solve the problems that cat ownership bestows upon us, the lucky many, who choose to let those evil beasts live in our homes.

This hack cost me about $5 and can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot or any other big home improvement box store.

What you’ll need: scissors or an Exacto knife, and 1/4″ clear plastic tubing, a willing participant to do the work for you (Thanks I.F.!). The tubing comes in rolls of 12′ or greater. You won’t need the whole thing, but if you have a macbook, chances are you also have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc. Take care of those cords too and save the rest for when those cats smarten up and decide to chew through the plastic tubing. Although, I’ve completely dissuaded my cats from ever doing this – they just aren’t attracted to the thicker plastic tubing. They love those ridiculously expensive, uber-fragile mac cords. Curse you Apple. I once thought your high prices were for quality – I now know they’re only for arrogance and pretension.

Believe it or not the tubing isn’t in the electrical area of the store, its in the plumbing section! Don’t as me why, don’t ask me how. All I know is that I searched for months after reading a version of this hack on another blog and FINALLY I found a knowledgeable employee who could tell me where it was. God bless Janine at the Lowe’s Home Improvement in Ames, IA!

What you do is, you measure out the length of the cord you want to protect, and transfer that measurement to the cord. I did the super fancy skilled method of holding the tubing up to the cord and cutting the tubing where the cord ended. But you can use a measuring tape if you want. You know, show me up. Be skilled at things. SEE IF I CARE!

Once you have liberated a section of the tubing from the roll, you’ll take the exacto knife or your scissors and cut down one side of the tubing so that you could actually uncurl it and it would lay out flat into a 1″ x 3ft’ (or however long your cord is) piece of plastic – or silicon or whatever manmade disturbing concoction it happens to be. By the way, don’t uncurl it. You want it to keep its shape. Once you have cut down one side of the tubing, you may open the “wound” slightly to wrap the tubing around your power chord.

Voila! Instant kitty repellant in a non gaseous/chemical form – until you heat it up somehow, like letting it hang over a heating vent or something. I haven’t tried this, but there’s no reason the tubing should ever be warm or put you in any kind of danger. Unless you’re desperately protecting a cord that has been destroyed by kitties and has way too many exposed wires popping out every where. You’re just asking for an electrical fire that I, personally, and my life hack here, cannot help you with.

That’s all she wrote, folks!

Cheers.

Smash-hit appetizers for a crowd

I recently helped a good friend of mine organize a fundraiser for exceptional Iowan gubernatorial candidate, Jack Hatch. The event was the first of many in the ‘Women for Hatch’ campaign and I was tasked with bringing some appetizers. I’m sharing them with you because they flew out the door, literally. No, not literally, but they were gone in a flash!

I didn’t take pictures because, well, I’m a silly goose so I’ll share with you the inspirational women I got them from. Thank you Pinterest – you saved my cooking conundrum, once again.

I made Spinach Artichoke Dip tartlets – of which a version can be found here.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls

13.3 oz roll of refrigerated french bread loaf, I used Simply Pillsbury
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup light sour cream
2 Tablespoons fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Pepper
1/8 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Garlic Salt
1/8 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Sicilian Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 10 regular muffin cups with non stick cooking spray.  Unroll package of french bread loaf and slice into 10 equal size slices, about 1 inch thick.  Press each slice into about a 3 inch round, I did this by pressing in between my hands.  Press into the bottom and up sides of the muffin cup.  Set aside.

2.  Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook and stir spinach until wilted, about 3 minutes then add garlic, cook and stir for another minute then turn heat off.

3.  Place cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach and garlic, Parmesan Cheese, Ancho Chili Powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper into a medium bowl.  Mix until well combined. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dip into each of the centers of bread bowls. Top evenly with shredded cheese and bake for 15-17 minutes until just turning brown on edges. Remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes before removing from oven.

10 mini spinach dip bread bowls” from www.pickypalate.com

Here’s what I did:

bought the pillsbury simply french bread dough

Went to Sam’s club and bought their Artisan spinach and artichoke dip and a tub of 4 shredded italian cheeses.

Then, I assembled and baked per her instruction, except I cut the dough into 1/2″ pieces to get more out of the dough – I got about 12-13 cups, instead of 10. However, you really need to take one out and cut it in half to see if its cooked through. After 20 minutes mine were still doughy. Reduce the heat to 325 and bake for another 5 minutes. Test again.

I recommend that you cool these completely before serving. They are good hot, but SO MUCH BETTER at room temperature. The flavors really come alive. Also, once cool, they can be easily stacked on top of one another so I arranged them in a kitschy country bread basket kind of deal. Looked great, casual, fun, and delicious!

Then, I made these herbed cheese cucumber bites. They were a crazy big hit!

The original recipe asks you to buy fresh oregano and cream cheese. I used goat cheese, and thinned it with some sour cream and skipped out on the oregano. But I did buy chives, sage, and basil. I added a little salt and lots of fresh black pepper. I garnished with pepper.

These hold up well but you want to refrigerate them until serving.

If you have blue plates to serve both of these items in, or on, DO IT. Food looks so much more appetizing on blue plates.

That’s all she wrote, folks!

Beautifully Decorated & Comfortable Rooms

This resort is centrally situated on the very lively streets in Playa Del Carmen. If you just step from the resort, the roads are lined up together with all the resorts and nightclubs. Hotel staff is extremely courteous. Breakfast is made new in the dwell counters on top floor regular using homemade salsa. Throughout our stay in 2017, there was some building work going on from the resort which led to a few alternative arrangements and early afternoon building sound but has no other complaints.

In a city that is known for large hotels and VRBO condos, it is lovely to discover a resort that’s merely rock-solid travelers’ resort. Clean, small rooms which are on the small side – ideal for a busy excursion in which you want a secure, well-located neat, clean, relaxing lodging. The staff is great and talkative: they recommended a cozumel jeep and snorkel excursion near to us.

The resort has a fantastic situated on 5th Ave., a pedestrian-only zone with stores, restaurants and pubs and it’s 1 block from the shore. The staff was so friendly, and the resort was very nice with a little pool along with a cute lounge area overlooking 5th ave. The resort was clean, quiet, comfy beds and the shower had high pressure and warm water. I’d certainly stay again.

There are just 21 rooms in this resort. If you want WiFi, request the password in front desk; the password to the placard inside the place isn’t valid anymore. Breakfast is included with all the room, and the breakfast terrace is quite beautiful, coated with palapas and well appreciated by two neighborhood women, which will make your breakfast to purchase.

The team are the heart and soul of this resort and made the experience exactly what it had been. Ivan and Humberto on the front desk had been super hospitable and the housekeeper Jesus did an excellent job daily cleaning the space.

There are two pools to cool off and lots of common areas to hide in and unwind (including one which overlooks 5th Ave, which means that you can maintain almost any room and get the best perspectives ). Safety is on the door so that you can go and come at any given hour of the day. Breakfast is basic but tasty and the type ladies are cooking will cause you to the pick of what’s on the menu.

The one thing I could fault was that the net was out and in compared to other areas I’ve stayed in about Mexico. If you’d like somewhere in one of the activity although not with the loud music of those nightclubs, then remain at Casa Ticul. It is a peaceful paradise.

Women for Hatch! Impressions of Politics in Iowa

Greetings and Happy Easter!

Last night I attended a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch. As a New Yorker, fresh from the cutthroat political forays of a very mature, very wealthy, and very “old family” kind of atmosphere, I found the vibe of this event to be so wonderfully refreshing. It was about the issues, the people, the giving and the food. By the way, my appetizers for this event were a smash hit! You can read more about those here.

Most importantly, it was about getting Jack in office by keeping it real. The women were real, the men were real, everyone was polite and honest. There was no insulting, name calling, or aggressive scandalous banter about Jack’s opponent, Terry Branstad. There was just the sad truth of the issues – Branstad has had 20 years of power, and in that has given too many favors out to those who would not help the Iowan succeed. Women for Hatch agree its time to do some spring cleaning in state administration and we’re starting with the governor’s office.

Jack Hatch is about women. Women’s rights and women in politics. He has announced that 50% of his directors, when appointed to governor, will be women. He supports increasing the minimum wage, encouraging growth in small business, investing in teachers, and creating affordable health care for all, among many other great things. If you haven’t checked him out, you should. He’s a great candidate that I fully support and would be a welcome reprieve from the 20 years of Branstad governing this state has survived. Details of why you should vote for Jack can be found at Hatch for Governor.

Back to the party. This state is truly remarkable. As a political scientist, I’ve studied the campaign system, election cycle, caucuses, etc. but I’ve never had the opportunity to attend anything but a town hall meeting or other very open and public event. Even when things are open in New York, they fill up quickly. This state boasts a smaller population with with ten times the political fervor and participation of New York. I’ve been here 3 months. I was already invited to a fundraiser and I’m going to help Cynthia Paschen who is running for Iowa State Senate promote her campaign by putting up lawn signs. In New York, I applied to countless internships, and even called up politicians to ask how I can support their campaign. The only option I was ever given was to front money. As a college student, money was not an option. The only politician that would meet with me was the then Senator, Hillary Clinton, and even then I had to track her down at a upstate New York promotion she was holding at my undergraduate college and wait in a line for two hours to shake her hand and have 5 seconds to say something. Introductions would have been a waste of time.

Its not her fault. Its the name of the game in New York. Politics is such an old business there that your name has to be Rockefeller or Kennedy or you have to have millions of dollars to get somewhere. Politics is old in Iowa too, but its cleaner, nicer, more polite, and full of opportunities. Take for example, a man I met from Jack’s team last night. He has 600 times the experience I have and he’s 2 years younger than me. Iowa provides opportunities – even D.C. opportunities (of which the finance manager has) that I would never have had when I was 1 of 300 bajillion other aspiring hopefuls from a nameless family in the poorest county in the state.

I’ve fallen in love with Iowa, its countryside, its people, and its politics. I’m looking forward to November, the caucuses, and voting in a state where politics is not a dirty business, it is respected, celebrated, and participated in by many. Where a thriving purple zone shows the true friendly competition of a diversity of views. This is one of the few states left where the race isn’t won in the primary folks, its still won in November and I myself am looking forward to that!

That’s all she wrote, folks!

© 2019 Exploring Ames

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑