Friday, October 17

Current Obsessions for October!

Hi Friends,

I am picking back up with a current obsessions post, this one everything I am 'oohing and aahing' about this month (and some things I already have and use that people have been asking about)...I have also mentioned a current fave "haunt" of mine which you should definitely check out while here in Jamaica.

Obsessions for October

Pacifica fragrance / Juice Beauty face care / Tech accessory / Vera Bradley crossbody handbag / Puma shoes / Archipelago scented candle / Handmade home decor / Lilly Pulitzer Hot Spot 17-Month 2014-2015 Large Agenda

I have been using a roll on perfume all Summer that many peeps have been asking about, and at first I was hesitant to say (as sometimes it is great when you stumble across a fab perfume, you want to keep it to yourself :-) however, in the spirit of sharing and caring - I would love to let you in on the secret that the perfume everyone thinks is some over the top expensive eau de parfum, it is a very "cost effective" roll on by Pacifica for $14.99!  Pacifica is a wonderful 100% vegan and cruelty free Beauty Company you should check out more of the products, but the current stock can be found in Fresh Market and Whole Foods as well as online.  My current faves are vanilla coconut and fig. Of course I love a good, exquisite perfume just as much as the next person (especially for the evening's out) - however this one just works perfectly well for day wear and is not heavy at all.  

My Agenda on the go, for the months of August to December 2015 is a large Lilly Pultizer Agenda which I just love and use constantly.  I am a huge agenda buff and collect them sometimes more than I should (for one year) but this one is beautiful and keeps me super organised (it's in a weekly format.) I have two of them as one is for my Public Relations and Social Media roles, and one for everything else which is mostly personal. 

  The links are above for all products - I love the Vera Bradley Attache in Boysenberry for transporting my laptop and files in style, they stand out and are very resistant to wear and tear, highly recommended!

Juice Beauty is another fave organic beauty Company that carries a great line of products for the skin, I love right now the Nutrient Moisturizer   which is decadent but not in a heavy, greasy way on the skin.  In fact I use it day and night.

If you love to exercise or are into fitness and are tired of looking/hunting to find that perfect tank top, sports bra or just anything to workout in (like I was doing) - then try Fabletics. You can become a member and fill out all the details of what you like in workout clothes, and each month they send you recommendations based on what you like - so cool.  Now you can opt out at anytime if you do not want an outfit they have chosen for you from month to month. While we are on the workout outfits, a good pair of running or workout shoes are absolutely vital.  My current obsessions is anything Puma and I love their running shoes (link above.)

I have always been in love with candles, and this scent from Archipelago is amazing - the black forest scent is one that is very fitting of the Season upcoming and cooler temperatures, and so long lasting. It is one of my faves and has been for the past year.

The ladies over at A Beautiful Mess have done it again...they now have a beautiful book "Happy, Hand-made Home" which is full of all their amazing DIY projects that they so successfully do over at their popular blog.

Loving this sweet Starbucks phone cover from Etsy! (link above under the collage.)

Ackee and vegetable wrap by Chef Conroy at Christopher's at Hermosa Cove. Chef is always ready to whip up something not on the menu and he caters to vegans and vegetarians.

Pan seared Lobster with penne

Right now I am hanging out more and more at Christopher's at Hermosa Cove Resort in Ocho Rios.  My good friend is the Executive Chef there and comes up with the most mouth-watering but simple dishes...I also love to see what he is working on when he is not in peak busy time and I wander off to the kitchen to check out the home-made pizza and sauces he is sometimes working on, or the home-made coconut ice-cream...need I say more, make reservations when you are here!

Wednesday, October 15

New Blog Design and Other Stuff!

Hi Friends,

You may have noticed that the Blog has a new "look"  - which is more simple and scaled down - and I love it.  It has been two years since I started this Blog and want to continue on with posts about this beautiful island that I have the privilege of living, to recipes, events, fashion, stories, and even health and fitness posts.  Since I started the Blog in 2012, things have changed and I have found myself wondering sometimes where to take this Blog in the next few years.  As I never want to get bored of writing (writing is a passion) but also in the respect that I have also taken on more work outside of the Blog and at times it has been hard to keep up here.

This Summer I traveled out of Jamaica alot and therefore lost some of the time I had to sit down and write my regular features...but I intend to get back to it, with new features, fresh story telling and just anything that I think you; the reader might be interested in.  Do leave a comment or drop me a line if you are wanting to read a specific post or feature here.

I also spent alot of time at the beach and "falling in love with my life" again as well as gazing at beautiful sunsets and taking more and more pictures of them. Taking a little time out of the busy days to reflect, have a swim, write or read a book has certainly helped to keep me stress free. The Summer went by super quickly and now it is mid-October and many of you are now feeling the much cooler temperatures...well remember to check up on my fave boutique hotels listed and posted about on this Blog and see what specials are running until December, which is the start of the Winter Season. 

One of the beautiful late Summer sunsets in Ocho Rios...I intend to take more pictures of the sunsets we have in the Fall as the color changes (subtle but more brilliant) and then when we get to the months of December to April, the colors are hugely different with the brightest, crispest clearest oranges I have ever seen.

Fitness and clean eating are still  growing priorities and I have been trying to make more and more "clean" recipes for Chris and I. Would love to share a few of what I call my "Farmer's Market Brunches" and breakfasts soon on this Blog. My fitness journey continues and I find more goals to aspire to each week and month.  If you live in Jamaica, I encourage you to visit Stush in the Bush (which I have linked to here and is on my sidebar) to have a tour of the sweet organic farm, taste some divine vegan dishes and meet the fabulous duo of Chris and Lisa.  Keep in mind that they have a delivery service on the North Coast of the fab salad dressings, marinades, vegan products, organic greens and herbs, and much more.

Delish balsamic onion (vegan) pizza at Stush in the Bush.

Will also be announcing some other fab news soon about lovely new places and offerings in Ocho Rios...if you plan to visit Jamaica soon, keep in touch on the Blog and keep reading!

Wishing you all a fab Fall, with lots of yummy treats, PSL's (pumpkin spice latte's!) delish and healthy home cooking, and more reading!

Friday, October 3

{Yoga Retreats in Jamaica} Inner Peace Yoga Retreat - More details!

Hi Friends,

Beautiful white candles and incense helped set the mood and tone of the evening Yoga Classes. (Pic courtesy of Sarah Gringich)

Continuing on with part two of the report from the amazing Inner Peace in Paradise Yoga Retreat which was held last week at the beautiful and chic Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios last week from the 23rd to the 28th of September and led by International Yoga Instructor, Sienna Creasy.

If you missed part one, read it here.

Yogi's climbing to the top of the majestic waterfalls with their Tour Guide, Tony.

The Yogi's not only had two decadent and wonderful Yoga Classes to partake in everyday (an early Am class looking out to the blue sea and a late afternoon, pre-sunset class which ended with the post sunset colors and many lit white candles placed all around the Yoga Pavilion) they also had the chance to leave the hotel a few times to check out some unique excursions nearby.  One was a picnic half day trip to the fabulous Coyaba River Garden and Waterfalls, which is presently getting a light overhaul and has been re-named, all new information will be updated on this Excursion soon, and how to book!

The top of the top of the waterfalls! (fit ladies!)

The group were guided by a very able Tour Guide up to the top of the waterfalls where they were able to dip into the falls, and try out some of the swimming "pools" on each tier as they climbed up. Yoga poses were optimal when at the top per Sienna!  After the energetic few hours - they were treated to an elegantly set up picnic catered by Chef Maurice and his team at the hotel...Chef's gazpacho soup, vegetarian pasta salad, veggie burgers, and organic green salads with green goddess dressing was a lovely ending to the day. The timing was perfect as everyone went back to the hotel to continue swimming, paddle-boarding, snorkeling...chilling on the beach or to make a spa treatment appointment at the award winning The Ocean Spa.

Gazpacho soup to start, together with roasted vegetable pasta salad, and an array of other healthy dishes was set up at the waterfalls site for the Yogi's to nibble on during the day.

A chick pea wrap made with cashew paste - absolutely divine.

The food during the week was a healthy and yummy combination of freshly prepared dishes. Salmon, healthy pastas, salads galore, ackee dishes, wraps, lentil dishes...and Chef is going to be sharing some of these recipes with us next week. This was the chick peas wrap he did up for one of the dishes at lunch one day, and he made it with cashew paste, to keep it more vegan.  It was delish!

Jamaican ackee and saltfish, green banana and "johnny cakes" our national dish, and a fave at breakfast with the Yogi's. (pic courtesy of Sarah Gringich)

A fave meal by everyone were the breakfasts, served up buffet style and the most popular dish, the Jamaican ackee and saltfish, green banana and "johnny cakes" - which I have written about on the Blog and you can find the recipe here.

Pineapple in abundance at the Farmer's Market // Yams on display and our Group of Yogi's checking out the fare while Chef Maurice narrated about our vegetables and fruits in Jamaica....

Not to be forgotten, was another special Tour that we offer at the hotel, and arranged especially for the group - the Shop and Cook with Chef Cooking Tour - which we did on Friday....Chef decided to do an Escovitch Fish with Bammy - which he prepared by soaking the bammy in almond milk instead of milk so that the vegans could enjoy (Lead Instructor, Sienna is a vegan - check out my interview with her right here to learn more about being a vegan!)

If you would like to have the recipe, see my post here with a full directional and picture guide:

And the week ended with a fabulous dinner party over the villa next door, a the beautiful Clearwater - where we let sky lanterns off at the end to send out innermost inner-peace thoughts out to the universe, and to thank Sienna and Jamaica Inn for a week that went well - with not only new friends meeting and bonding, but everyone talking about booking for next year!

 Sienna, Lead Yoga Instructor at the Retreat gets help with her sky lantern from Kyle Mais, General Manager of Jamaica Inn, and Ritchie.
Yogi's bonding and enjoying the "vibe" of the evening, sky lanterns let off from the terrace all in a row, and me with a glass of vino!

Keep in touch on this Blog as we set up new plans for our next Yoga Retreat, and write up from time to time on Sienna and her Yoga Retreats that she continues to plan around the island, with one coming up in November and December at Round Hill Hotel (if you missed this one!)

Follow Sienna on Facebook to keep up with her Yoga Retreats...(as she creates event pages for each retreat.)

Follow Jamaica Inn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with all things Jamaica Inn!

Other Fab Resources:

Tending the Heart Fire by Shiva Rea (highly recommended by Sienna)

Caribbean Potluck (fab new Cookbook by two of our fave ladies here in Jamaica)

Spiritual Gangster - (for all the most cool and Bohemian yoga wear around... and what Sienna wears!)

Monday, September 29

{Fab Inspiration} A Very Fab Yoga Retreat!

Hi Friends! has been awhile since you have heard from me, and I am back and in my "Start of Equinox" mood to get back to the Blog and write, write, write - let us just say I am inspired again and rearing to go.  I hope you have all been well, and thank you for continuing to read and support this Blog.

We recently hosted at Jamaica Inn, The Inner Peace in Paradise Yoga Retreat and it was the first one we have ever had, and I have some pictures to share with you.  It was a very successful week in terms of guest satisfaction from all angles - the decadent Yoga Classes with International Yoga Instructor - Sienna Creasy to the fabulous array of healthy dishes and juices prepared by Chef Maurice and his very able the unique and fun excursions and the chilling out on one of the Caribbean's best beaches.  If you missed this Post where I interviewed Sienna, here is the link:

The weather was absolutely perfect and guests also had lots of swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding time!

Some of the pictures shared here were taken by Yoga Instructor Sarah Gingrich, who flew in from Boston to help Sienna run the Retreat.  All in all we are very pleased with the feedback and are already planning the next one, keep posted on the Jamaica Inn Blog and website.

I have decided to make this a three part Blog post as there is so much to cover and so many pictures, so stay tuned for part two tomorrow.

At our Opening Cocktail Party and BBQ on the Beach the Yoga Attendees had the first chance to meet and mingle with fellow guests and to meet our long standing staff members who were on hand to serve up martini's, mojitos or really anything your heart desired from the Premium Bar.  Chef Maurice and his team whipped up some wonderful dishes (many healthy salads were also on hand!) for a fine BBQ in Jamaica Inn style set up on the beach complete with white tablecloths and silver....the night was complete with the resident band piping out some lovely tunes while the bonfire was lit up on the beach to make it even more magical.

Sienna worked her Inner Peace vibe into the first class of the Retreat which was held just before Sunset on the first evening - everyone was made to relax, unwind, breathe and encouraged to find an inner peace which would be the trend for the next five days.

 The candles and incense set the tone and vibe for each evening class - set up overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Photo Credit - Sarah Gingrich.
 Yogi's can paddle-board and do paddle-board Yoga, have you ever tried?

 Yogi's dining  - each breakfast and dinner was set up family style at the hotel so everyone could have a chance to bond and talk about....Yoga! 
 Sarah took this beautiful picture just post sunset, isn't it gorgeous?

One of the surreal events that the guests got to be in on, was an actual turtle hatchling experience! We managed to get everyone over to a beach nearby to observe and help with the process....more on this in the next post. 

There is so much more to report on, the Waterfalls-Picnic experience, the Farmer's Market and Cook with Chef excursion, and the closing party.  Plus, I will have a few recipes of some of the healthy dishes Chef set up this past week at the hotel to share with you.

If you are someone who has been thinking of going to a Yoga Retreat but have never had the chance, I can tell you from a non Yogi to anyone out there reading, it is a very fabulous, peaceful and surreal thing to do. I did my first official Yoga Class on Saturday evening with Sienna (that was the last class of the Retreat) and I was just so taken with how relaxed I felt after (not a feeling I have alot) - that I am now going to incorporate Yoga more and more into my exercise regimen...I would love to get two classes per week and add that to my current running and weight training routine.  As for Retreats, you not only get the wonderful Yoga, but you also get to try new things you may not have thought of doing before (climbing waterfalls to the top), witnessing turtles hatching, trying paddle-board yoga....etc, etc. 

Hope you have enjoyed part one of the report from the Yoga Retreat just held at the beautiful Jamaica Inn...thanks to Sarah Gingrich for supplying us with the Yoga pics, paddle-board, breakfast and turtle pics above.

Monday, August 18

Try This: Jamaican Style Ackee and Saltfish!

Hi Friends,

Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica and many guests to the island just love it and ask for it each morning at breakfast. Most, if not all hotels in Jamaica serve up this unique and delish dish as the "Traditional Jamaican breakfast."  Over at Jamaica Inn, Chef Maurice has given us a glimpse as to how he serves it up.

Jamaican style ackee and saltfish, our National dish.

A little history of this famous dish - the ackee fruit was imported to Jamaica from East Africa before 1725!
To prepare the dish, salt cod (packet salt fish may need to be boiled down and should be free of 'pink' mould) is sautéed with boiled ackee, onion, scotch bonnet peppers (optional), tomatoes, and spices, such as black pepper and pimento. It can be garnished with crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes, and is usually served as breakfast or dinner together with breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas.
Ackee and saltfish can also be eaten with rice and peas or plain white rice. When ackee and salt is combined with plain rice it is often called seasoned rice which is a delicious one pot meal that is usually eaten on Fridays as a quick and easy meal for dinner.
In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, "ackee and saltfish" is eaten widely, although canned ackee is more often used than fresh in some foreign countries.
You should be able to find tinned ackee in a supermarket near to you for this dish!

Recipe (Serving up for 2-4)
Ingredients needed:
½ a pound of salt fish
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small sweet pepper (yellow/red or green) slice julienne style
1 medium tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper - chopped finely **
2 stalks of escallion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of vegetable or extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Only use scotch bonnet peppers if you would like the dish spicy**
 - Put saltfish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour.
 - Pour off water; add fresh water and cook until tender.
 - De-bone and flake saltfish.
 - Heat Vegetable Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sauté onion; garlic; escallion; tomato; scotch bonnet             pepper and sweet pepper for a few minutes until tender. (about five to six minutes.)
  - Add flaked saltfish; Grace Tinned Ackee (if not fresh ackee) and black pepper.
 - Toss lightly; cover and allow to stand over low heat for about 2 minutes.  Serve up!
Chef Maurice serves up ackee and saltfish over at Jamaica Inn with fried breadfruit and lightly sauteed plantain - a true Jamaican breakfast! (a green scotch bonnet pepper is pictured on the plate - remember these peppers are very hot!)

Me...taking pictures of the dishes in the natural light...!

Enjoy this most famous Jamaican dish!


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