Nov
07

On my bucket list sat the Waterfall Villas in Costa Rica for many many years.
The main reason I wanted to visit Costa Rica was so that I could stay at this beautiful, serene, scenic, vegan-friendly resort.
Situated in the lush Baru rainforest, the Waterfall Villas are completely secluded and offer a true escape.

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

These pristine, private waterfalls are accessible only by guests of the hotel (us.) We were lucky enough to have the waterfalls all to ourselves during our stay. (!!!) The constant flow of the crystalline waters was breathtaking. We bathed in the waterfalls for hours….

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

The rooms at the Waterfall Villas are adorable and offer a balance of the elements using authentic Feng Shui architecture and design. Every room is equipped with a balcony that overlooks the top of the waterfalls. We chose a rainy day to pull the sofa in our room out on to our balcony and we napped the entire day. (!!!!) I have never been more relaxed than I was that day. Our room also had a private outdoor meditation garden, these open air spaces allow for the ever moving Qi energy.

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

Waterfall Villas

Upon arrival, the owners scheduled our private candlelit vegan dinner. Yes, a private vegan dinner. Served in an outdoor pavillion overlooking the waterfalls. We enjoyed a vegan lasagna and carrot salad.

And then every morning a vegan breakfast was provided, prepared fresh by a private chef. We indulged in vegan banana pancakes, fresh pineapple, hot tea, and a fruit smoothie. The pancakes were phenomenal, the best I’ve ever had.

Waterfall Villas

Breakfast also consisted of cereal and Costa Rican fruits: sun-ripened bananas, papaya, watermelon, and pineapples.

Waterfall Villas

Our experience at the Waterfall Villas is tough to describe with words.
There were minimal words spoken while we were there and I’m leaving this blog post to a minimum, allowing just enough…. I encourage that you check out the Waterfall Villas for yourself…..

Waterfall Villas

A healing journey was promised and attained.

Love

Crista


Oct
25

Would you ever consider hot dogs, saltine crackers, and ice cream as part of your “diet” regimen? No, seriously, would you? 

I’ve just recently been exposed to this 3-day crash diet people call the Military Diet. Before I offer any reaction, allow me to share this so-called diet:

DAY 1:
Breakfast– 1/2 Grapefruit, 1 piece toast, 3 tbsp peanut butter
Lunch– 1/2 cup Tuna, 1 slice toast
Dinner– 2 slices any meat (3oz), 1 cup string beans

DAY 2:
Breakfast– 1 boiled egg, 1 piece toast, 1/2 banana
Lunch– 1 cup cottage cheese, 5 saltine crackers
Dinner– 2 hotdogs, 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2banana, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

DAY 3:
Breakfast– 5 saltine crackers, 1 slice cheddar chese, 1 apple
Lunch– 1 boiled egg, 1 slice toast
Dinner– 1 cup tuna, 1 cup beets, 1 cup cauliflower, 1/2 banana or 1/2 cantaloupe, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

DO NOT vary or substitute any of the above foods, salt n pepper may be used but no other seasonings allowed.

After 3 days of crash dieting, you eat “normal” without “over doing it” and after 4 days of “normalcy” you would start back on the 3 day diet, so 3 days, off 4 days, on 3, off 4.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve learned about this diet from two overweight girls who have no interest in clean eating and exercise. From what I gather, this diet is very low on the calorie count and high in protein in comparison to carbs. For someone who is “overweight”, eating this diminutive amount of food every 3 days will mirror the act of starvation and I’m sure that it will shock the system and cause a pound or two of weight loss a week. I’m not sure I believe that you could love 10 pounds a week or 40 pounds a month as they claim.

I can see how this “emergency crash-dieting” may be beneficial for someone entering the military, needing to meet BMI requirements however I can see in no way shape or form how this “diet” would be beneficial for the general population. This is in no way a healthy diet, or a healthy way to lose weight. (plus, what happens when you are done dieting and you start eating normal every day again? weight gain.) Regardless, it is disconcerting to think that the US Military actually recommends this “diet” to it’s people, when I heard about this diet from the two girls, my stomach rolled, I almost barfed. Hot dogs??? Blagggghhh. (people feed those things to their KIDS!!??)

I’ve never understood why those people who are looking to lose weight are so attracted to crash-dieting or fad diets? Does it seem easy? Obtainable? not-a-lot-of-work-for-a-lot-of-benefit? If you’ve gotten as far as realizing that you are overweight/unhealthy and you’re ready/willing to do something about it, why not take the next step at making changes that will be long-term? For example, CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS, EXERCISE. Eat clean foods instead of garbage (examples of garbage: hot dogs, vanilla ice cream.) This isn’t rocket science, people. You don’t need scientific studies to maintain a healthy body, just clean foods & exercise.

Here is my idea of a 3-day Clean Eating Regimen (not a diet, a life-long regimen):

DAY 1:
Breakfast: 2 cups of green juice (kale, apple, carrot, cucumber, celery), 1 banana, 1 handful of nuts
Lunch: mixed veggies & hummus, applesauce
Dinner: marinated broccoli and mushrooms, corn and tomato salad

DAY 2:
Breakfast: 1 fruit smoothie (1 orange, 1 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 banana, 1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice), a sliced avocado
Lunch: a large green arugula salad with oil & vinegar dressing – include a variety of veggies on your salad
Dinner: vegetable stir-fry, a small bowl of seasoned quinoa

DAY 3:
Breakfast: 1 fruit smoothie (1 green apple, 1 cup carrot juice, 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 1 tbsp agave nectar), warm quinoa with berries and nut milk
Lunch: a cup of edamame, a green potato salad
Dinner: lentils with kale & butternut squash

Anyway, it is disheartening to know that people are so desperate to change their image that they will follow any lousy diet they’re told about. There is no person in their right mind who could think that hot dogs, saltine crackers, and vanilla ice cream are wholesome enough for the body to offer long-term healthier results, yet they eat it because they’ve been told that it will melt their fat right off of their bodies……

What is your reaction to this Military Diet?

Love

Crista


Oct
24

rambutan / lychee

In my previous blog post, I mentioned the lychee fruit that we fell in love with. Everywhere we went, Chris carried them in the pockets of his cargo pants and I always had a few in my backpack. Every other day or so, we’d purchase a bag of the exotic fruits from a local Tico selling street side.

I vividly remember the Tico’s calling this fruit a “lychee” and we ran around Costa Rica all week telling everyone about these lychees that we couldn’t get enough of.

The gal from this blog mentioned that the pictured fruit is not a lychee, rather a rambutan. She wrote a post featuring the lychee fruit, and I do notice that the fruit pictured in her photos is most definitely different than the fruit we experienced in Costa Rica.

I’m so confused… why were the Ticos calling this fruit a lychee?
I decided to do more research. Instead of finding clarity on this topic, confusion. 

Let me explain to you what is blowing my mind right now. 

Listverse.com names this fruit a rambutan in their “Top 20 Fruits You Probably Don’t Know” list. 

Costa Rica Country Living calls this fruit a lychee. Not only do they picture this red fruit, but they also show this fruit in a yellow variety (is this still called lychee?) (oh, I just read that the yellow version is a “wild lychee”)

To make things even more complicated InsideCostaRica.com calls this fruit mamón chino (or the Costa Rican rambutan.) Mamón Chino translates to Chinese Sucker. The Eye On Costa Rica blog and the California Native both agree that this fruit is called a Mamón Chino.

As if I’m not already feeling dizzy from all of this rambutan/mamón madness, my head was spinning after I read the definition of Mamón at RuralCostaRica.com. The definition is as follows: “This is a small, bitter fruit that has a small pit in the middle. The mamón chino is another variety of the fruit with soft spines on the outside husk. This “Chinese” version is known in English as the Asian fruit ‘lychees’.”

I am convinced that this fruit is not officially a lychee, however I am bewildered by the Ticos for naming it as such.

rambutan / lychee

Love

Crista


Oct
21

Traveling to Costa Rica is hectic, yet rewarding. My understanding that vegan food is easily accessible in Costa Rica was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the country. That, and adventure. A girl who appreciates vegan, organic, clean foods can appreciate the local foods offered in Costa Rica.

Upon our arrival into San Jose, I experienced anxiety, worry, trepidation. The airport experience was chaotic and upon realizing the lack of traffic regulations, renting a car seemed like an awful idea. We chose to drive in to San Jose, which was the opposite direction we needed to be headed because I had heard of a few vegan restaurants in that area. Although the guy behind the counter at the rental car company advised against it, we did it anyway. We could not read the street signs, nor was the “map” any help. I use the word “map” very loosely. Eyes wide open, sitting on the edge of my seat, we were driving in to a crazy busy city without any idea of …of.. anything. Well, we knew we were hungry for vegan Costa Rican food.

We never did find the restaurant originally sought after, however we did stumble upon El Gourmet Vegetariano. Upon sight of the restaurant, the universe became a bit brighter, our anxiety released, and our journey was officially validated.

El Gourmet Vegetariano

We found a place to park the truck, which was scary considering we could not read the street signs and we had all of our valuables packed in the vehicle. In Chicago, if you park on the wrong side of the street at the wrong time, you are ticketed. Would this happen in San Jose? We still have no way of knowing.

Dodging the rain, we stepped in to the restaurant. In broken english, the server asked “do you know we have no meat?” “That’s why we’re here.” *smiles* He handed us menus that we could not read (they only had a spanish version available) so we pointed to the pictures representing the meals we were interested in. (so that’s why photos are so important) We crossed our fingers in hopes that we’d made good decisions. Ends up, we were served one of the best meals we had the entire trip.

El Gourmet Vegetariano
My salad consisted of cucumber, tomato, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, avocado, yucca, pejibaye, plantains, and palmito. Served with oil & vinegar.

El Gourmet Vegetariano
Chris ended up with this palatable veggie burger. Seriously, the most scrumptious veggie burger I’ve EVER tasted. Oh, and those fries….. 

Through the continuous rain, we set off to our destination after lunch. We were looking at a full 3 hour drive. In the dark. In a foreign country. With minimal street signs and street lights. In the rain. We only got lost 7-10 times. We only had to stop and ask directions 7-10 times. High.Anxiety.

Costa Rica
This cute little market (Coca-Cola branded) we found along the side of the road lightened our mood. We purchased Costa Rican candies, honey, and lychees. The lychees ended up being Chris’ favorite fruit, in fact he took it upon himself to share them with every American we met along our trip. We met a group of people on our zipline tour who mentioned a bowl of these fruits decorating a table of their temporary home. They would have never known the lychee to be an edible fruit had they not met Chris.

rambutan/lychee
Chris carried a knife set along with him the entire trip, mostly to crack open the spiky balls of fruit. We purchased bags of bags of this fruit, mostly from Ticos selling on the side of the road.

rambutan/lychee

Late in the evening, we finally made it to our first temporary home, Cuna Del Angel in Puertocito. It was beautiful. There is so much story to tell but that is enough for one day. I’ve got to get on with my day, and pack for our big move.

Love

Crista


Oct
19

i am back home. from a country often mistaken as a Third World Country. where (many) people live in homes without windows and doors. they do not shower with hot water. they do not have WINDOWS or DOORS. OR HOT WATER. there are minimal street signs. there are no street names. addresses don’t exist. do they? work? money? eh. will-sell-lychees-on-the-side-of-the-street-for-money.

Costa Rica

a country that shows minimal litter. in fact, you would feel guilt from littering. there are no fast food joints. i saw one McDonalds and one WalMart. just one. of each. their food is fresh. organic. natural. they make do with what is available in their own country. you see a fruit growing on the tree, that fruit will be your breakfast. you see a fish swimming in the ocean, that fish will be your dinner. the Ticos don’t serve italian food and chinese food and thai food. they serve costa rican food. it wasn’t hard to find vegan food. in fact, i was pretty confident walking in to any restaurant or soda.

Waterfall Villas

do you know what eco-friendly means? the Ticos do. we ziplined through the Osa Mountain Village, hundreds of feet above the jungle platforms were bulit and ziplines were installed WITHOUT anything being screwed or nailed to the trees. don’t disrupt the natural surroundings.

Osa Canopy Tour

do you remember the days before mobile devices went mainstream, we had to stop at local gas stations to ask for directions if we were lost. sometimes, the gas station attendant was creepy. sometimes nice. sometimes helpful. sometimes, too creepy to stop. in Costa Rica, everyone is nice. and helpful. one guy even drew us up a map! we never once turned on our mobile devices in the country of Costa Rica. without legit street signs, we were free-ballin in a sense. there are no goole maps. just drawn out maps. well… and the maps provided by the rental car company. i… think… this is the right way…. uh… feels like the right way… let’s stop and ask. EVERYONE, regardless whether or not they spoke our language, was willing to help. this one family even let me use the restroom inside of their home! (we had been driving for hours) there are no McD’s or gas stations to stop at in time of need. well, you might find a gas station every 60 kilometers or so…

San Jose Costa Rica

this time of year marks the Green Season for Costa Rica, which doesn’t phase the locals one bit. they’re out with their bikes and scooters, umbrellas and ponchos. we were out too. i liked the rainy season. the weather was pleasant and predictable. the beaches weren’t crowded and we got extra attention at the hotels we stayed at.

Pura Vida

Love

Crista


Oct
05

We have been EXTREMELY busy lately with travel and our new apartment buildout. 

My boyfriends parents made an offer for us to remodel their 2000 square foot basement and to move in (temporarily).
Sooooo later this month, we are moving out of the city of Chicago and in to their house which is located in a small suburb about 45 miles away from the city.
happy face.

While Chris does the buildout of the basement (almost single-handedly), I have been at our Chicago apartment cleaning up and packing up. Chris & I cherish and nurture the little time we get to spend together these days, on the weekends he’s often at his parents house while I’m at home sleeping all alone. Throughout the week, Chris is at his parents house while I’m on the road for work.

We’ve got very little time to finish up the remodel, pack, and be moved in. We’ve already rented our Chicago apartment and these people are ready to move in ASAP. In fact, they are moving some furniture over next week!

Call us crazy, we booked our trip to Costa Rica smack dab in the middle of this buildout and move.
While we’ve got 22 days to finish up the remodel and to get moved in, 6 of those days will be spent vacationing.

Because of all this busy-ness my eating habits have suffered, my workouts have suffered, and my poor blog is suffering.
sad face.

sad face or happy face, this move will be well worth it in the end for us.
We have been given an opportunity of a lifetime to pay off some debt and save a lot of money. It is important that we do this prior to getting married, having babies, and buying a home (in the city of Chicago).

We’re beyond excited.
And his family is excited. On a daily basis, they express their excitement, “I can’t wait until you guys finally move in.”
In fact, Chris’ dad has allowed us to do this buildout exactly how WE want it done. WE pick out the paint colors, WE choose the kitchen cabinets, WE choose the flooring, etc…. I’m almost certain he has allowed us to do this because he wants us to stay there for a very long time.

Chris’ mom & I have worked very hard at putting together Pinterest Boards, collecting inspiration for the buildout. I’m thinking this place will be pretty badass. 

 

one of the walls in our living room will be made of barnwood, situated similar to this wall. we have actually pulled wood off of an abandoned barn ourselves…..

instead of barstools, we are putting swings at our dining room peninsula… inspired not only by this photo, also by the swings at Molly’s Cupcakes

our bedroom is already made up of similar colors (greys, silvers, purples, damask patterns) and we plan to expand on it

my favorite room: the bathroom. i have taken it upon myself to decorate our bathroom in mermaids. naturally, our bathroom will be constructed around this theme. we love the colors in this photo.

aaaand these are the bathroom cabinets we are inspired by but ours will be slightly different… while we will still construct a double sink, we will also have a lowered area in the middle that will act as a vanity (so I can put my makeup on like a princess) 

Chris is obsessed with the color “matte black” so of course we will incorporate the color in to our new home. there you have it, matte black kitchen cabinets 

Wish us luck as continue the grind.

Love

Crista


Sep
30

on my recent trip to Florida, i had an opportunity to visit with grandma & grandpa

i was eager to share a vegan birthday dinner with them at a local vegan cafe – which did not disappoint.

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

we LOVED the Dandelion Communitea Cafe

the Summer Of Love Rolls dipped in a “dreamy cocounut peanut sauce” served as an appetizer

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

while grandma & grandpa shared a Portabella Mushroom sandwich,

I devoured the Polynesian Banana Fantasy wrap (spring greens with banana, carrots, celery, cucumber and walnuts tossed in Curryous dressing, topped with gnome-grown raisins & coconut flakes)

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

my wrap was served with Whirled Peas which is similar to a Guacamole made with peas

i MUST find a recipe to make this at home!

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

grandma & i fancied the Chai Soda

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

no matter where we go, grandma is shopping :) …here she is checking out the tea selection

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

do you see what i saw??

VEGAN CUPCAKES!!

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion has a cute little garden where they grow their own herbs & spices for use in their dishes. 

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Haines City, FL

we took our cupcakes back to grandma & grandpa’s house and indulged in the comfort of their home

Raphsodic Bakery

Raphsodic Bakery

Raphsodic Bakery

grandma & grandpa recently celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

pretty impressive, right?

i know how lucky i am to have grandparents that are a shining example of love & curiosity.

they often say to me “we’re always up for trying something new”

50 years of marriage

Dandelion Communitea Cafe, 618 N Thornton Ave, Orlando, FL 32803 
407.362.1864

 

Love

Crista


Sep
27

there don’t seem to be many (decent/non-chain) restaurant options available in Orlando…… but during our trip to Orlando, the girls and I trekked up to Winter Park to visit Ethos Vegan Kitchen. we found the yoga studio, a vegan bakery, and another vegan restaurant all in this same area.

Ethos felt oddly familiar and i realized that i had been to their restaurant before – but at a time when it was in a different location. i loved it then and i loved it this time.

My girlfriends label me the “vegan yoga girl” (mockery) and while they appreciate healthy eating, they’re not necessarily hip to the “vegan restaurant scene”

….based on the feedback they shared, i think they loved Ethos (or at least liked it enough)….

Ethos Vegan

Black Bean Soup

topped with vegan Sour Cream

Ethos Vegan

Chickun Marsala

Sautéed chickun and button mushrooms covered in a Marsala wine sauce on a bed of spaghetti.

Ethos Vegan

Bay Cakes

a rendition of crab cakes is made with chickpeas, chopped celery and fresh herbs. dressed with a spicy remoulade and served with basmati rice and asparagus.

Ethos Vegan

i have got to find a recipe and make an attempt at making those Bay Cakes.

i often make vegan “Tuna Salad” using chickpeas in place of tuna (soooo tasty)

i ate the Crispy Chickun Salad (not pictured) which consists of baby spinach and mixed spring greens, and topped with crispy chickun, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cucumbers, carrots and red onions.

as a vegan, crispy “chicken” is not often an option. i was craaaaving.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen, 601 S New York Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789 
407.228.3899

Love

Crista


Sep
27
GIRL PARTY: A collection of free thinking empowered young women who can openly discuss whatever they desire to share with like minded women of similar interests without shame or fear of judgement. ((source))

We all live in different parts of the country.

We are as similar as we are dissimilar.
We got together in Orlando over the weekend for a work event and we took advantage of our time together.
We entertained ourselves with water slides, a rock wall, yoga,
We drank virgin strawberry-basil drinks by the pool.
My friends indulged me, participating in every activity I recommended because it was my birthday.

Orlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLOrlando, FLEthos VeganOrlando, FL

….we had so much fun….

Love

Crista