a snowy start

What a way to start the year — freezing with a smile on my face!  I had not been back to the Mitten since Jan 2012 and that year, we had no snow until our last day and mostly balmy weather.  Well, this trip couldn’t have been more different.  It was the perfect weather for cross-country skiing, eating P-I-E, drinking hot tea, playing cards, and opening presents.  A great way to start the year indeed!

Michigan Vacation

a late start

This does not bode well for new resolutions.  It’s the first week in January and I’m already behind!  It doesn’t help that we spent two full days trying to escape the snowy, icy tundra that was the state of Michigan.  But according to Mrs. Glass-Half-Full (*she’s only a teeny-tiny portion of my alter-ego not eaten by Mrs. What-The-Hell-Happened-Half-Empty) it means that I got to start the year with a bit of an adventure.  I think getting stuck in Minnesota on a record cold night counts.

I have so many thoughts — about this space, my other space, goals, hopes, attempts, and a new word for the year.  All of course to be shared in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  If I can get it together.  I can’t believe that this little space turned 6 years old on Jan 1 and that I’m still at it (as embarrassing as it may be).

Here’s to another fresh start (albeit a late one)!

Minnesota from airplane

weekend scene

This wasn’t my weekend scene, but the Hubs’ from a Paris cafe, circa 2012.  I was just wishing that this is what I did over the weekend.  An accurate photo would have been a one of blankets, one and a half empty boxes of tissues, and a bottle of Nyquil.  I laid on the couch all weekend with what started as an allergy attack and has manifested into a sinus infection (or so says the doctor in my head).  And it was a one-two punch with some severe PMS just for good measure.  But I caught up on old movies, slept — a lot, and watched an America’s Test Kitchen marathon.  Yum.  Here’s hoping I perk up soon.

Cafe in Paris



weekend scene

The first weekend of Autumn actually felt a little fall-ish.  We greeted this change in seasons with a (much-needed) monsoon and blustery winds.  But the weather cleared just in time for us to head down to the bay for a little gathering of friends and acquaintances.   And the rest of the weekend was filled with other menial and important endeavors.  We’re ready to head into the last full week of September.

Sept Weekend Scene

a sublime escape: the dominican republic (part 3)

[Part 1] [Part 2]

Secretly slipped away among the swaying palms on the beach is the simply sublime Samana spa.  It’s not near the beach, it’s on the beach.  And a couples massage was the perfect way to relax after a hard day of snorkeling and lounging under a cabana.

Sublime Samana Spa 3

Sublime Samana Spa | The Dominican Republic

Samana Samana Spa | The Dominican Republic

As if that wasn’t enough pampering, we enjoyed a “romantic dinner for two” on the beach.  I was so surprised that it didn’t feel cheesy, but indeed romantic.  When Brad talks about that night, he often recounts how perfectly satisfied all five senses were.  The weather was perfect: warm with a slight breeze; everything smelled delicious, but not overpowering; clearly our eyes were treated to twinkle lights, moonlight shadows, and a feast for a king; our taste-buds enjoyed the most delicious and fresh four-course meal; and our soundtrack the lulling ocean waves.  It really was quite unbelievable.

Our private champagne-clad cabana felt genuine and special and I had to let my cynical self go and enjoy every minute of it…which didn’t take long.  After sitting and sipping our champagne, we started with oysters and then onto beef carpaccio.  We each chose fish for our main course and a locally caught selection cooked up nicely.  And for dessert we had fresh fruit with the best Dominican chocolate fondue.  I thought we would have to roll our way back into our room.

Samana Beach Dinner | The Dominican Republic

Samana Beach Dinner | The Dominican Republic

Samana Beach Dinner  | The Dominican Republic

a sublime escape: the dominican republic (part 2)

(See Part 1 here.)

Our room was perfect.  Not only was it bigger than our current home, but having a fully furnished kitchen was such a huge convenience.  On our third day we made the 9km trip into town (via taxi) and stocked up at the supermercado for snacks and lunch supplies.  It was a great option instead of having to eat all 3 meals at the restaurant; even though I must say, the food was fantastic.  Everything was so fresh and carefully curated.  And don’t get me started on the service.  The staff was perfection…never hovering but always at the ready.  And so kind!

It was also quite the treat to have a jacuzzi on the terrace… well, treat for the hubs as he had a soak nearly every day (if not twice a day).  It was too warm for my liking, but still, it was romantic.  I don’t remember if I mentioned that we were only 1 of 4 parties staying in the entire place.  A few Europeans showed up for the weekend, but other than that, it was a virtual ghost town…which we loved.

Sublime Samana Apartment | The Dominican Republic

 Sublime Apartment 3

Sublime Apartment 4

Sublime Apartment 2

  Sublime Apartment 5

Sublime Apartment 6

[More pictures after the jump.]


a sublime escape: the dominican republic

Finally… pictures of our escape to one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean.  To celebrate the hub’s graduation and 3 years of insanely hard work, we indulged in a place that is truly sublime.  We stayed in the Dominican Republic’s Sublime Samana.

Very rarely do we ever consider returning to the same destination (too many other places on our life list to visit), but this one is the exception.   Our flight was super easy from our Gulf Coast origin, and the nearly 2hr transfer to our hotel didn’t feel near as long.  If you are lucky enough to be close to JFK airport in New York, then you can fly JetBlue directly into the newly opened Samana airport and you’re just 20 minutes away from the hotel.

It had been 9 years since we had a holiday with just the two of us, so we felt it was time.

The Dominican Republic Samana Beach

The Dominican Republic Hammock

The Dominican Republic Samana Beach

I found this amazing spot via Mr. & Mrs. Smith, however when I tried to book it, they did not have any rooms available at the advertised discount, so I ended up booking via the hotels website directly and it was just as cheap.  Sublime Samana is also part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and it very much lived up to its reviews.  It is incredibly chic and relaxing.  The rooms were fantastic, the location could NOT be beat, the food was beyond delicious, and even the music was cool (playing the most recent Daft Punk album!)

Sublime Samana Hotel Review

Sublime Samana Casitas

Sublime Samana at night

We are still ooohh-ing and awwwwe-ing every time we think of what an escape it was.  This is just part one, more photos to follow this week!

old books of art

I’m fascinated by the work of Russian artist Ekaterina Panikanova.  Such a mix of nostalgia, ephemera, whimsey (and maybe a little sadness??).  I think it would be quite something to see in person.  Kudos indeed Ms. Panikanova.

Artist Ekaterina Panikanova

Her work reminded me of an installation I saw in Fredricksburg, Texas while we were traveling around last month…  I’m not sure who the artist was for this particular piece, but it was interesting enough that I snapped a photo of it with my phone.  But instead of old books, this artist used clipboards with pages from old books.  It’s certainly a little more DIY-ish, but still visually interesting and a similar medium used.

Red in Fred Art