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About three weeks ago, Bob and I took our belated honeymoon in Belize.  We spent a week on Ambergris Caye, a small island just a 15 minute flight in a (tiny) plane from the mainland.  We stayed at Matachica, on the northern part of the island which is quieter and less inhabited than the southern portion where San Pedro, the only “town” to speak of on the island, is located.  San Pedro consists of three narrow streets, all about a half mile long, that are full of pedestrians and golf carts (the preferred method of transit on the island).  We only saw a handful of cars the entire time we were there and they were all taxis.

We spent most of our time on the beach or swimming in the pool and the sea.  We also got a lot of reading in and definitely caught up on our sleep.  And I tried paddle boarding for the first time, something I’d wanted to do for awhile.  The highlight of the trip was an afternoon snorkeling Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley – which is exactly what it sounds like – and area full of nurse sharks and gigantic stingrays.  They were harmless and swam just inches from us.  We even got to touch them in the wild (the sharks felt like sandpaper and the sting rays felt like wet, slimy mushrooms).  We also saw sea turtles, eagle rays, lobster and a super long, super scary green eel.

Side note, our resort was just a few houses north of John McAfee’s place and we arrived the day after his neighbor was murdered.  We heard about it our first day there, at the bar, from two guests who had heard the gunshot (and met the now-deceased neighbor just days before).  A day or so later, it was all over the news and most of the major networks had descended on the island.  Dateline even filmed a segment on our resort’s grounds while we were swimming in the pool just a few feet away.  If you haven’t heard about this crazy story, you can learn more here.

view from the plane flying from Belize City to Ambergris Caye

view from the plane flying from Belize City to Ambergris Caye

Matachica

Matachica

the view north from Matachica's dock

the view north from Matachica’s dock

there were tons of crabs (and geckos) running around the resort

there were tons of crabs (and geckos) running around the resort

Pineapple Casita - our home for the week

Pineapple Casita – our home for the week

the inside of our casita

the inside of our casita

the infinity pool at Matachica

the infinity pool at Matachica

the hot tub and, my favorite part, lounge chairs IN the pool

the hot tub and, my favorite part, lounge chairs IN the pool

complimentary paddle boats, kayaks, bikes, snorkel gear & paddle boards

complimentary paddle boats, kayaks, bikes, snorkel gear & paddle boards

san pedro / ambergris caye

san pedro / ambergris caye

puposas at Warugama

puposas at Waruguma

Waruguma

Waruguma

san pedro / ambergris caye

san pedro / ambergris caye

jaguars - one of two nightclubs on the island

jaguars – one of two nightclubs on the island

Daddy Rock - the second nightclub on the island, although it wins #1 for creepiest club name

Daddy Rock – the second nightclub on the island, although it wins #1 for creepiest club name

palm tree love

palm tree love

sign in the belize city airport bathroom

sign in the belize city airport bathroom

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What are you up to this weekend?  We’re going to a comedy show tonight at Lincoln Hall to see Neil Hamburger and Tim Heidecker.  Very excited for that!  Saturday Bob works so I use it as my errand and “catch up” day.  Then, on Sunday, we’re going to the Cubs vs. Cardinals game at Wrigley.  Should be a fun weekend!  Although, I’m really excited for next weekend when I get to go home for a few days and relax on my parent’s beach in Grand Haven, Michigan.

The house I grew up in, where my parents still live.

The view looking south, towards Grand Haven pier.

The view looking north, towards Muskegon, MI.

(personal photos)

 

 

 

Is it Friday yet??  After 9 years in Chicago, I have yet to visit Indiana Dunes so Bob and I are going this weekend.  I’m looking forward to swimming in clean water (not something you can do around Chicago), enjoying the beach breeze and catching up on some reading.  We’re going to go in the early afternoon so we can grab dinner at Three Floyds Pub on our way home.  What are your plans for this weekend?

(photo via chicagonista)

We aren’t taking our honeymoon until November but I’m already dreaming of the beatiful beaches of Ambergris Caye.  We’ll be staying at Matachica Resort, which we fell in love with after scouring their website and reading their reviews (bonus – they don’t allow kids under 12!).  I’m hoping we can get scuba certified before we go.  Belize has the 2nd largest barrier reef, after Australia.

Where is your favorite tropical spot?

(photos via beach tomato)

I’ve been meaning to share with you the two great restaurants we ate at while in L.A. last week — the Lazy Ox Canteen and Natas Pastries.

The Lazy Ox (241 S. San Pedro Street) is located in the Little Tokyo neighborhood. I went for lunch, with three other people, and we all absolutely loved our dishes. When we came in, they encouraged us to share the plates but we all had something specific in mind so we ignored them and ordered individually instead. This meant the dishes came out a bit staggared, rather than all at once, but it worked out just fine. I had their veggie burger and it was easily one of the best I’ve ever had. The veggetables were high quality, as was the bun, and extrmely well marinated. I’d order it again in a second! The restaurants decor was also to my liking – low lighting, lots of wood and a very relaxed atmosphere.

(photo via la times)

Natas Pastries (13317 Ventura Blvd) is in the Studio City neighborhood of Sherman Oaks. We actually discovered it by accident – I needed to use the restroom so I went in planning to buy a cup of coffee to gain access. Well, that all changed the moment I laid eyes on their elaborate and drool-inducing pastry display. (Check out their online sweets gallery and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.) I ended up ordering us each an eclair. I’m normally not a fan of eclairs, so I’m not sure why I chose them but I’m so glad I did! They were huge and absolutely delicious – like no pastry I’ve ever had before. I seriously cannot recommend them highly enough. If you’re an eclair fan and in L.A. you must try them. Even if you’re not a fan, I bet these will change your stance — they’re that good.

(photo via dining with the catty critic)

We just got back from our trip to California for Coachella. It was our third year going but first time renting a house rather than camping — I can’t even begin to explain what a difference that made! Instead of being ready for it to end by the third day, we were all hoping for more time. Being rested and showered made such a difference.

The house we rented was seriously amazing. It was super modern with four huge bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge pool, hot tub, fire pit, a blood orange tree in the yard and a gorgeous mountain view. One of the living room “walls” was actually a huge sliding glass door that opened fully, allowing the living room to open up to the outside pool. Renting this place in Palm Springs meant a 40 minute shuttle ride to the festival each day but it was more than worth it. I don’t think we’ll ever camp there again.

house pool party

(personal photo)

The only real bummer of the weekend was the weather on Friday — it was much colder than normal (in the 50’s) and not many people were prepared for that, including us. It was a big energy zap but it was warmer on Saturday and in the low 80’s and perfect by Sunday.

Coachella is held two hours outside of L.A. so it attracts a lot of celebrities. This year our big celebrity sighting was Aaron Paul, who plays Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad, one of my favorite tv shows. Apparently Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lindsay Lohan, David Hasselhoff, Aziz Ansari and Robert Downey Jr., among others, were also there.

Coachella grounds

(personal photo)

Ok, now to the music. My favorite show by far was Modeselektor. I also really enjoyed The Gaslamp Killer; Breakbot; NOISIA (they played sans Martijn van Sonderen); Alesso; Flying Lotus; Zedd (always a good time); and SBTRKT (fourth time seeing him but it was the best one yet). But Modeselektor stole was definitely my number one — they were incredible.

And I have to at least mention Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s performance that closed out the festival Sunday night. They had five guests — 50 cent, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar and Warren G. 50 cent was a surprise to us but the Eminem part had been leaked beforehand so we were expecting him. While I didn’t expect to care or be excited for him, when he came out it was hard not to be. He’s totally not someone I normally like but he had really powerful stage presence and I couldn’t help but like his performance. I also couldn’t help singing along to California Love, Gin and Juice and Gangsta Party with the 75,000 other festival goers under the dessert sky surrounded by the surreal beauty that is Coachella. Oh, and how could I forget about them performing alongside a hologram of Tupac?! It was surreal and truly a once-in-a-lifetime show.

Snoop & "Tupac"

(photo via power98)

But one of the best parts of the entire weekend was the huge group of friends we went with – 15 in total. We lounged in the pool during the mornings, danced together during the festival and made s’mores and chilled out in the hot tub when we got back each night. It was a fun group, made even funnier by our comedian friends Carlie and Doni. You should check out their videos and website so that, in a few years, you can brag about liking them from the beginning.

Coachella by night

(personal photo)

Overall, it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to go back again next year! I’ll leave you with a video from Modeselektor’s performance. (You can see our blue light saber waving in the crowd a few times.)

B & I are on vacation and on our way to California to attend our third Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. It’s pretty much our favorite week of the year and this year, for the first time, we’re renting a house in Palm Springs with friends rather than camping. I’ve had great experiences camping at festivals but I’m super psyched to go the house route this year, especially since the house we rented looks super nice and has a pool, hot tub, grill and fire pit! Anyway, goodbye for now and I will return to you next Tuesday. Hope you all have a great week!