Tuesday, December 24


I love the festive spirit of the holidays. This is the very first time I will not be in the states or with my parents for Christmas. Although I am a little bit sad about it, I am excited to experience a Christmas in Costa Rica with Paris and his family. Christmas is, after all, about being with the ones you love.

I'm not sure what is going to happen with this little blog in the New Year. For the past few weeks, my mind has been occupied with moving back to the states and being away from Paris. I know that it was my decision to make the move and I am confident that it is the correct decision. But it doesn't change that fact that it is still scary. Paris and I will do the best we can to see each other during the year and hopefully, if everything goes as we would like, he will be joining me in the states at the end of next year or soon after. I didn't want to keep writing about and dragging on all my worries so I just haven't been writing anything. I'm fairly confident that I will come back to this space after my move is over in early January. So hopefully you will all stick around until then!

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 5


Two weekends ago, we took a little day trip to our friend's family property in Cartago. Cartago is a beautiful place and it is known for being mountainous and much cooler than the Central Valley Area where we live. As soon as we got there, I fell in love with the house and the surrounding land. It is the perfect getaway place. The house was just a main room, the enclosed deck, and the bathroom. It was the perfect size for a weekend home when really, all you are going to be doing is sleeping in there. The rest of the time would be spent on the deck or outside where there was a gold course, a lake to fish in, and beautiful scenery to simply sit back and look at. Why we were only going there for the first time, I'm not sure! But we had a lot of fun just hanging out, eating tons of BBQ food, and enjoying the fresh air. It is these kind of days, where you find a new favorite place that I just love.

linking up today with Rachel and Chelsea for the Expat Diaries and Nicole for TreatYoSelf Thursday!

Monday, December 2


Sopa Azteca, Aztec Soup

One of my very favorite dishes here in Costa Rica is called Sopa Azteca. It is essentially tomato soup but even better. I distinctly remember the very first time I had it almost 4 years ago at my host mom's house and knew I was in love. Now that the holidays are here, family gatherings are becoming more and more prevalent and this dish is very popular to serve .. lucky me! In fact, just last week I was lucky enough to have homemade Sopa Azteca two times. Even luckier, is I learned how to make it myself. It is a little bit labor intensive but also so worth it. Here's what I learned.

What you need:
1large tomato per person
half a chicken breast per person
shredded mozzarella cheese
tortilla strips (homemade or store bought)
red pepper
hot sauce
salt and pepper

What you do:
1. Start by putting the chicken to boil in water with oregano.

2. Cut up the tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, cilantro, and red pepper. It doesn't matter how big or small you cut these because they will all eventually be liquified. Put everything you cut up except the tomatoes into a pan to simmer. These things are called olores or smells, and they are used to give the soup flavor so you can decide how much or how little of each you put in based on what you like.

3. Start to liquify the tomatoes in a blender. Put a laddle full of the broth from the boiling chickens in with each tomato you are blending. Once full blended, pour the tomatoes into a colander that only lets liquid through. Drain all liquid possible and set the left over tomato aside. Do this until all tomatoes are liquified.

4. By this time, the olores should be fully cooked and soft. These also go in the blender with more broth from the chicken until fully liquified. This is very important because this mixture does not go through a colander but straight into the soup so it needs to be 100% liquid.

5. Let the soup come to a boil. Once boiling add any other herbs or flavors to your liking. Here is where you add salt and peper, more oregano, and the hot sauce (if you like hot sauce). If the soup is very runny, you can also add a little bit of flour to make it thicker, again, to your liking.

6. When you serve the soup, you also add the chicken, shredded cheese, tortilla strips, and avocado! All the flavors together are amazing and if you ever come to Costa Rica I recommend this dish 100%, especially homemade.

I hope you enjoy!
If you are interested in any other recipes you can find them here.

Wednesday, November 27


Last Friday in Costa Rica it was Teacher Appreciation Day. Let me just start off by saying, in light of recent events, I found it very ironic. Nonetheless, it was a day less of being in class that included a free lunch, some beautiful scenery, and lots of laughs with my coworkers. The place was called Colinas del Poas, and it was a beautiful outdoor recreation center nestled away on the mountain of the Poas Volcano. It was just lovely. We didn't do that much other than enjoy the sunshine. Some of us may or may not have taken naps on the grass and may or may not have been judged by the less "campesino" teachers. Regardless, it was a much needed break for my coworkers and me. Not to mention, I got to visit a new corner of the country I had never been before. Always a plus!

Monday, November 25


I've still got a lot of things I want to get done before the end of the year and time is certainly running out! This week my goal is to focus on finishing up loose ends at school. That means getting the rest of my exams graded fast. It also means finishing up final grades by the end of the week so I just don't have to worry about them anymore. 

I briefly mentioned yesterday that I am not so sad to be saying goodbye to the school where I have been working for the past two years. For the most part, I have really enjoyed working at this school. They gave me my first opportunity to be a teacher and I will always be grateful for that. However, over the past two years I have known that I did not want to work at this particular school forever. Some of their practices and rules are not ideal for someone who is seriously interested in being a teacher, aka helping students learn. When I say this, I mean that the school doesn't emphasize education as the most important part of going to school. To make a long story short, my goal this week is to finish all of my final responsibilities at my job as quickly as possible. That is one chapter that I know I am ready to close from my time here in Costa Rica.

What are your goals for the week?

The Nectar Collective

Sunday, November 24


Once again, I'm going to give this ol' blog another chance. It has been really nice taking a step back from this space but sometimes I just miss it. I really enjoy sharing what I'm up to and the pictures that I take, but every now and again I get a little too obsessed with all the other parts of blogging. All my bloggers, out there I know you understand this. I know I mentioned this in my last post but blogging can just be so weird and it is never something I thought I would get involved with but here I am! So here's to another try .. hopefully you'll stick around with me :)
Reading: final exams and final grades! The end of my school year is just around the corner .. thank goodness!
Writing: my last two assignments before the final exam of my online class. Again .. thank goodness! the year is really coming to a close, fast.
Listening: to episodes of homeland. I mistakenly started watching this series and it is addicting. I pretty much have one playing as I do almost everything else.
Thinking: about how I cannot wait to leave my school. The administration there has really shown their true colors the past few months and I am unfortunately not too sad to say goodbye to them.
Wishing: I could be in two places at once, but that's a topic for another day.
Hoping: that December is just as great in Costa Rica as it always is at home.
Wearing: as many dresses as possible. It is getting hot!
Loving: that Starbucks in Costa Rica is using red cups. I've only been to Starbucks here twice since it opened in the beginning of the year and even though they don't sell PSL they do sell Peppermint Mochas and they are using red cups ;)
Wanting: to find the perfect Christmas gifts for everyone.
Needing: nothing new right now. I mean, there are always some things that would be helpful but I am learning to get by with what I have.
Feeling: a little nervous about my big move in a few weeks.
Clicking: through a bunch of blogs that I need to catch up on!

Tuesday, November 12


As many kids in the states did, I grew up eating a lot of PB&J. Then later on in my high school/college years I grew to love peanut butter. When you live abroad, you quickly find out that most other countries don't really like peanut butter (???). They just don't get it! So I usually stock up and bring a few jars of my favorite kind: Skippy Extra Crunch. Unfortunately a few months ago, some ants got into my last jar .. darn them! Luckily, my friend Katie saved the day and brought me a small stash. As an expat, one of the greatest things is having a visitor from home who offers to pick up a few things you may need ;)

Lately I've been into grilled PB&J. You know, like grilled cheese, but instead of the cheese you slap on some peanut butter and the jelly of your choice. It is not the healthiest choice but it is quick to make and reminds me of home. Oh and if you're into the regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the grilled kind will blow you away.

What food reminds you of home?

Sunday, November 10


Blogging is weird. Like most of us who blog, I never thought I would fall into this hobby. Now that I do partake in blogging, it often times feels like more than just a hobby, but like an obligation. As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I have some goals for this blog. In order to attain those goals I need to go things like read other blogs, form connections with other bloggers, get my statistics up, etc. So taking a full week off from doing all of those things may have set me back a little bit. But really, it's okay. It felt food to not check my blog stats one single time, let alone 4 times every day. So once again, I think it is time to try and find some balance between blogging and the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 2


With only two months left in 2013, there are a few things that I want to accomplish before we welcome the new year. I'm taking some advice from Chelsea, and creating 4 goals to finish up before the end of the year. 

The first two are things I have already started and want to continue. I've been making some easy, yummy salads during the week and I'm sure I will be able to keep up with it. I've also got the grades to keep up my A in the class, just two more assignments and the final project and I'm home free.

My last two goals will be a little more time consuming but also more on the fun side. In just two weeks, my workload is going to be drastically cut so I will have plenty of time to work on them. I never actually go around to starting the photography tutorials I bought .. just not enough hours in the day! My final goal for the year is to introduce sponsorships on my blog. This is something I am really excited about and have been toying with for a little while now. I'm a little nervous to see how it works out but once I put some time into it, I'm confident I'll be able to get it off the ground.

Do you have any goals you want to finish before the end of 2013?

Thursday, October 31


I don't really care for Halloween. It's just not my favorite holiday.
However, this video is hilarious.
You're welcome:)

Wednesday, October 30



Someday I will be a great cook. My apartment here in Cost Rica isn't really conducive to cooking. We have no oven, and only two burners that have three distinct heat settings. Yes, I can make endless amounts of pasta and cook up fried egg upon fried egg. And sure, I've been able to make a few recipes here and there. But a lot of them are more of just preparing things. Cut up a bunch of ingredients, throw them together, voi la. A lot of times they taste great, but I don't really consider it cooking. I want to be able to cook real, intricate recipes. Recipes for risotto and anything wrapped in prosciutto are the kinds of recipe feats I want to one day master. I'm excited to go home and hopefully learn a thing or two from my mother about making some great food.

Do you have any recipes that you have been able to master?

linking up today with Taylor for Someday I will...

Monday, October 28



Okay guys, I know my goal for this week is to take it easy and to take some extra time for myself, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. I finish my full-time job here in mid-November and then it turns into part-time for the final two weeks. Add in my last 5 weeks here in Costa Rica and that is 7 weeks of way too much time on my hands. So I got to thinking, I'll find another job to keep me busy! Insert: online tutoring. For the past three years I have been tutoring privately while living abroad and just recently (unfortunately) found out about online tutoring. So far I have applied to one company and was rejected. Rejected! Let me tell you, this girl does not like the word rejected. So naturally that switch inside of me has turned on and my mind is saying I'm going to get what I want (anyone catch that reference?).

Now that I am in go-getter mode, I thought I would share some tips with you on how to get what you want.

1. Do your research. You never know what opportunities are out there until you go looking for them! I never would have thought to apply for online tutoring jobs if I hadn't done an initial search of how to make some extra cash. Now I know that there are dozens of online tutoring companies I can choose from.

2. Ask questions. In my opinion, the best thing you can do when you don't know the answer to something is to ask. You never know what you're going to find out and it will most likely help you in any situation, as long as you ask in a polite and concise way.

3. Just do it. There is no time like the present. The longer you wait to do something, the less likely you are to do it, so you might as well get started today.

What is your advice for going out and getting what you want?

linking up with Totally Posted Tuesday


Happy Monday, everyone. This week's picture theme for Weekly Wishes is selfie! This here selfie is from our trip to San Carlos in March when we visited the Baldi Resort.

Last week's goal was to eat a little bit healthier. I am pretty serious about this goal, so I offered up some tips that have worked for me and an easy recipe to try out! It's nice to say that I definitely accomplished my goal from last week. My favorite way to eat all of my vegetables was to make a big salad at the end of the day. The thing that made me the happiest, was the increase in my energy level. I'm usually exhausted by the afternoon and I always attributed it to having to wake up at 5:30 every day. Now that I have been eating healthier I just don't get as tired during the day. I'd like to keep this goal every week, to see what other positive changes come from it.

My goal this week is simple. I want to take a little bit more time for myself. I have been so busy lately with lesson plans, tutoring, and writing papers that I usually end the day without having had any time to relax. So this week I am going to make sure I get at least one hour to do no work at all ... and not feel bad about it! Any tips on how to do this??

The Nectar Collective

Friday, October 25



1. This week I came up with one of my best projects in school yet. Both of my sixth grade classes are making murals that represent peace. Since we can't actually paint on the walls I've put together a bunch of big pieces of poster paper to make one big piece. We're even allowed to display them once they are finished! (this is huge because we are normally not allowed to display any work on the walls)

2. I am really going to miss my sixth graders, and my eighth graders, and my ninth graders. I found out that for the sixth grade graduation, both classes chose me as the teacher they wanted to dedicate their graduation to. I'm not supposed to know yet but it makes me so happy that I've had such a positive impact on them.

3. Lately I have been totally rockin' in my online class. I'm glad because it is hopefully getting me back in the groove for next semester when I will be a full-time student again!

4. Paris and I went on a date Wednesday and it was perfect! Because of Paris's new work schedule and some of my private tutoring hours rearranged we both had the afternoon off and decided to take advantage. We got some dinner and saw the movie Gravity. The movie was okay but the best part was spending some quality time with each other in the middle of the week when normally our busy schedules keep us occupied.

5. I am so ready for the weekend. We have to family parties to go to tomorrow and Sunday I am declaring as my day to do whatever I want! Which will most likely be finally reading the last Divergent book ;)

Happy Weekending!

linking up here today with Casey for Fresh Face Friday!

Thursday, October 24


Pico de Gallo Ingredients

Pico de Gallo

Going along with my goal of eating more fruits and vegetables this week, I decided to take my own advice to make it a little more interesting. Here in Costa Rica, pico de gallo is eaten all the time. I've watched Paris's family members make it countless times to be used at family parties with rice and beans, meat, eggs, tacos, chicken, you name it. So I decided I would try to make it myself to have on hand so that I can easily add some tomatoes and some flavor to anything I eat!

All you need are those four ingredients up there: lemon juice, onion, cilantro, and tomato.

First, chop up the amount of tomato that you want to use. I used two big tomatoes so that I could throw the extra pico de gallo in a tupperware and keep it. Next, chop up some onion. I used a little more than half of the one you see. Next goes in the chopped cilantro and to top it off the lemon juice. For the two whole tomatoes I would use the juice of a whole lemon. Mix everything up and add some salt if you like and you are done! Super easy right? 

Next I thought I would show you an example of how you can use your freshly made pico de gallo. A breakfast burrito! Because I don't like to make a big fuss in the kitchen (maybe one day) this "recipe" is also super easy.

On top of a tortilla, scramble an egg, cut a few slices of avocado and add your pico de gallo. 
That's it! Told you it was easy.

Tuesday, October 22


Fruits and Vegetables

In keeping with my goal for this week, I planned ahead and went to the produce stand by my house and picked out some fresh fruits and veggies. This here haul is already halfway gone so I may need to get some more sooner than I thought! Like I said yesterday, I really want to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet because, well .. it is healthy for me! So I have thought of a few tips to make it easier for myself and for anyone else interested as well!

1. Prepare. I can't tell you how many times I have had the good intentions of eating all the produce in my fridge but then finally going to grab something and it has gone bad! This is why you need to do a little prep work. On Sundays I have started cutting up a whole pineapple or sweet peppers and throwing them in a tupperware for easy access later in the week. You're more likely to grab some cut up fruit when you're in a rush than take the time to cut it up when you really want to be doing something else.

2. Get what you like. There is no point in buying a bag of apples just because they are good for you, if you already know you don't like them! Buy the things that you like, even if you have to splurge a little here or there, because you will actually want to eat them.

3. Try something new. In order for #2 to work, you need to know what you like! While buying all that produce up there, I asked Paris what those spiked fruits were called. It is roughly translated into "suckers" and we definitely don't have those in the grocery stores where I'm from. Being that a whole bag of them was only $2 we bought some. After peeling off the shell/spikes what is left is essentially a big skinless grape with a huge pit inside. And if you can see, grapes are already good in my book. It never hurts to try new things because you never know what you might find.

4. Make it interesting. Sometimes you just don't want plain old fruits and vegetables. To make them more appealing, add something else! My favorites are peanut butter with apples, or some ranch dressing with sweet peppers. Another thing that I love to add to my salads is feta cheese and lucky for me I was able to find some feta that did not cost me an arm and a leg (cheese here is so darn expensive!). By adding a little extra, your healthy food can be a little more exciting.

5. Mix it up. When all else fails, mix it all together! Fruit salads, regular salads, just put it all together and dive in. You won't even know you've just finished a whole bowl of things that are good for you.

Do you have any other tips? How do you incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet?

Monday, October 21


Happy Monday, everyone. Today I am linking up again with Melyssa's Weekly Wishes. I wanted to use this picture again because this week's theme is creativity and I just cannot get over how cute these little monkeys are. They were carved out of coconuts! Have you ever seen anything like them?

Okay, moving on from the coconuts. My goals this week are some recycled goals from previous weeks that I really want to improve upon. 1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. This is important to me. Lately I have noticed just how poor my diet is and I really want to change it and not just for a week or two but until it becomes a habit. I have already gotten a little head start and bought a bunch of fruits and veggies and I've even got a few posts lined up for this week to make sure I am eating them all. 2. Get ahead with my online class. Yesterday I took my midterm for the class. Luckily I was able to use my notes that I spent hours this week making because if I wasn't, it would not have been pretty! I really want to make sure I am putting the correct amount of time into this class every week so that my assignments and my studying sessions are not rushed like they were the past month.

These goals shouldn't be too hard this week (I hope!). What are your goals for the week?

The Nectar Collective

Saturday, October 19


Here are some of the pictures that have been hanging out on my iphone lately. 

 Some very cheap and very good margaritas and great company.
 I still can't get enough of this beautiful sunset. The sunsets in Costa Rica are my favorite.
 Some wildlife on the way up from our volcano trip and a shot showing my friend the abandoned hospital.
 More sunset pictures with my favorites.
 Juevos rancheros and a breakfast pizza for our last breakfast together. So good.
My favorite little guy and some creative pictionary at school. Can you guess who it is supposed to be? Honey Boo Boo. My students are the cutest.

Friday, October 18


How cute are these little coconut monkeys? While walking in town on our beach trip, we stumbled across them in a little souvenir shop! There are so many "typical" souvenirs that are sold everywhere but I had never seen these little coconuts before. 

Katie left very early Wednesday morning and I already miss having her around! It was so great having her around, we pretty much did not stop laughing the whole time and that is something I really miss.

My students have been growing both very antsy and very lazy lately. They don't want to do any work and at the same time they are driving me crazy! It is starting to rub off on me too. We just have 6 more weeks of school left and I cannot believe it. After that I will be done with my second year of teaching.

More and more I am looking forward to next year. I already have some things coming together both work and play wise and I am getting anxious for the next two months to go by.

I plan to spend this weekend studying like crazy and then taking my first exam for my online class. The first exam since my finals three and a half years ago! I plan on rewarding myself by reading the entire third Divergent book as soon as it comes out next week!

linking up with High Five for Friday!

Thursday, October 17


After our day at the beach, we headed about 20 minutes down the road to a family friend's house. We arrive and it is extremely clear that the person who lives in this house is a hippie of sorts and someone doing their best to live off the land and off the grid. It reminded me somewhat of my post last week about trying to live with less things but to the extreme. He talked to Katie about how he hasn't been wearing shoes the past two months because the energy from the land keeps his body healthy. Now, I am knocking his lifestyle because to each his own. However, I do believe that there is a difference between trying to simply live with less and trying to live with as little as possibly and I was definitely exposed to that this weekend. At the same time, his house was just a stones throw from a beautiful and very peaceful beach that we got to snap some gorgeous sunset pictures on. I think the sunsets in Costa Rica are just beautiful and I was really glad the rain from earlier in the day didn't ruin our chance of seeing the sun go down.

Now I'm ready for the next weekend to be here!

Tuesday, October 15


On Sunday morning, one of Paris's friends very kindly offered to take Katie and I to a volcano on Sunday since Paris had to work. We decided on the Irazu Volcano because it was close to the Sanatorio which is something I thought Katie really would like (and she did). Now, my last trip to Irazu was not completely successful as it was freezing cold and completely cloudy so that we couldn't see anything. This time, we went earlier in the day but we were still victims to a really cloudy day and did not see much of the crater. We were, however completely prepared for the cold and spent a little bit more time walking around. 

Even though it was a bummer we couldn't see anything, I think Katie was excited to be on a volcano for the first time. Paris's friend was surprised to learn that the only volcanoes in the USA are located in Hawaii which neither of us had been to before. It was also really interesting to us that most of the people visiting this volcano were Costa Ricans rather than tourists. He told us it is a fun, cheap day trip for ticos, who usually bring a picnic lunch or some snacks to enjoy.

Monday, October 14


On Saturday, Katie, Paris, his sister, a friend, and myself hopped in the car and headed to the beach for the day. We went to Jaco beach which is one of the easiest beaches for us to get to. We bought a few chairs and an umbrella and began lounging. Unfortunately we only had a few hours of beach time because the rain started. We packed up our stuff from the beach and headed into town where we stumbled upon a sign that said $2 margaritas and we just couldn't walk any further. We spent the next few hours sipping on our drinks and having a really good time.  It was one of those days where we hadn't really planned much but it turned into one of the best days we could have had.