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Vacation Needed

Not that I don’t love my blog but I love this even more. :D

You didn’t hear from me last night because we were busy researching vacations. Brandon and I haven’t been on vacation in two years and it is time. We are both in desperate need of the kind of quality time together and relaxation that only the Caribbean can provide. We’re hoping to go sometime in May or June (anniversary and birthday months). I would LOVE suggestions that you might have for budget-friendly Caribbean destinations. We’re leaning towards the Dominican Republic due to the amount of affordable all-inclusives it offers.

Back to yesterday (Tuesday)…I went to ashtanga and had my first good practice since the accident. My body is finally starting to feel back to normal. I didn’t experience any back pain but still played is safe and did a restorative bridge instead of the backbend series. I am so grateful that my body is healing. Being injured is the worst!

We ordered in lunch at work because we were prepping for a big meeting. I had a sandwich with hummus, avocado, sprouts, red pepper, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard on whole wheat with a side of fresh fruit.

Dinner was an Indian feast!

Chicken Tikka Masala over brown rice with naan on the side. I just put the recipe up on Bakin’ and Eggs tonight! This is Brandon’s plate – I had a slightly smaller portion with a side of mixed greens. If you’ve never cooked Indian food at home, you must! So flavorful and delicious!

Wednesdays are my “no early exercise/sleep in” mornings so I was happy to get eight wonderful hours of sleep. I had breakfast at my desk.

Banana oatmeal topped with TJ’s pumpkin butter and almond butter.

I had a major veggie craving at lunch so I made a big salad.

Spinach, sprouts, carrots, dried cranberries, feta, avocado and a TJ’s veggie burger topped with honey lemon dijon vinaigrette and with a slice of French bread on the side.

I rarely use store-bought dressings. I find it so easy just to whip up quick vinaigrettes. I had a request last week for my homemade dressing recipes so here’s what went into today’s mix.

Note, I don’t measure anything when I make dressing. This was a squeeze of lemon juice (from one slice of lemon), a squeeze of dijon mustard, honey, olive oil (maybe one teaspoon of all of those things) and salt and pepper. Also, I do NOT adhere to the normal one part vinegar to three parts oil for vinaigrettes. I usually go with a 1:1 ratio. Play with at and adjust to your taste!

I was hoping to run today but got stuck at work until almost 7 p.m. so running was replaced by coming home to clean, eat dinner, blog and relax. Oh well! Tomorrow is another day…that is starting very early with an ashtanga practice.

Dinner was leftover eggplant parmesan.

Just as good the second time around. Why is eggplant so delicious? Yum!

I hope you’re all having a good week. Mine is so busy and flying by. I’m already getting excited for yoga teacher training this weekend! We’re starting the power yoga portion of our training.

{ 43 comments… add one }

  • 1
    D February 23, 2011, 10:28 pm

    This is the first time that I’ve commented, but I wanted to say that I really enjoy reading! I went to the DR (Punta Cana) a few years ago and I LOVED IT there! It was so relaxing and affordable. GL with the vacation search!

    • 2
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:14 am

      Thank you so much for your comment. I really enjoy hearing from readers – especially first time commenters! :)

      Thanks for the feedback on Punta Cana. Definitely one of the areas we’re looking into.

  • 3
    micki February 23, 2011, 10:51 pm

    Aaah, vacation. That’s when you get away and just enjoy your visit with loved one[s], not working or stressing out right? :)

    Glad to hear the injury is starting to fade!!

  • 4
    A girl February 23, 2011, 11:04 pm

    I lived I. St Lucia last year and it is GORGEOUS!

    • 5
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:15 am

      I am SO jealous that you lived there! We stopped there on a cruise a couple years ago and it was beautiful. I really want to go back and do the hike up the mountain.

  • 6
    Angie (Losing It and Loving It) February 23, 2011, 11:41 pm

    Oh HEAVEN! Kev and I love the Caribbean. We go to Jamaica every Dec. and stay at Couples Swept Away (couples.com). We love it so much that we have not gone anywhere different in 4 years. Every time we think about trying something new, we just can’t LOL We celebrated our 10th anniversary four years ago with a vow renewal on the beach. It was MAGICAL and I have never experienced anything like it. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

    • 7
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:16 am

      We’ve looked into Couples Swept Away in Jamaica in the past (when we were honeymoon planning) and it looked amazing. I had totally forgotten about that place. Thanks for the reminder.

      I really appreciate your input!

  • 8
    Alaina February 24, 2011, 12:42 am

    My parents loved going to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. My aunt and uncle love going to Turks and Caicos. That’s a destination I would love to go. :-)

    • 9
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:17 am

      Turks and Caicos is definitely high on our “must-visit” list but I don’t know if it’s in the budget for this trip. I’ve had friends who’ve honeymooned there and it looks amazing.

  • 10
    Laura February 24, 2011, 4:56 am

    My husband and I just went with friends to Punta Cana this fall. We stayed at the Paradisus all-inclusive resort, which was published as being one of the top 3 resorts in the caribbean! You should look into it as we got it for a great deal. If you are consistent with checking expedia and other websites, you can even get an upgrade to the exclusive section of the Paradisus called the Reserve. We were able to find this upgrade for $7 more per person! Crazy! Just check a lot of websites and do it every day. You’ll find something great!

    • 11
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:24 am

      Laura – thank you so much for the input and the tip on getting the upgrade. Luckily, we’re planning our trip for the low-season so we’re hoping we can get a good deal and find upgrades!

      I just googled the Paradisus and it looks beautiful. We would love to find a resort that someone has been to so that we have a better idea of what to expect. Sometimes it’s so hard to tell online.

      How was the beach and the food? Were there a lot of children there when you went?

      • 12
        Laura February 24, 2011, 1:10 pm

        The food was good! We went to quite a few restaurants at the Reserve part of the resort, and not as many at the main area, but the few that we went to were yummy in my opinion. We also got room service once or twice and thought it was very good. There are a FEW kids, but not a ton. I can’t recall being annoyed by screaming or splashing at all. And there are lots of secluded little get away areas both in and out of the pool that people with gets never really go to. The rooms are really nice, and the beach is just like what it looks like in the pictures! I would definitely go back, so I think that says a lot!

        Also look into a chain of resorts called “Excellence.” We stayed in one in Mexico and it was an amazing experience! Smaller than the Paradisus (the paradisus is big) but great food and great service.

        I hope you find one you like :)

        • 13
          Laura February 24, 2011, 1:11 pm

          Oops, I meant people with “kids” not “gets” – typing too fast!

  • 14
    Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) February 24, 2011, 5:18 am

    You look SO GORGEOUS in that picture!! Man I wish I could go on vacation right now…! I am so jealous- I would LOVE to go to the Carribean!! I’m going to Italy this summer though, which I’m looking forward to :)

    Eggplant is amazing. And that looks DELICIOUS!!

    • 15
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:25 am

      Thanks Emma!

      Italy sounds amazing. Food + vino heaven. Brandon and I really want to go to Europe together – we’ve both been separately but we’re dying to do a big trip.

  • 16
    Kristy@RunTheLongRoad February 24, 2011, 7:46 am

    A few of my in-laws went to Punta Cana. They loved it. I don’t know the name of the resort where they stayed so I’m not much help :(

    I’m sure it will be a fabulous getaway though! Something to look forward to!

  • 17
    Becky February 24, 2011, 8:37 am

    Ohh, I’m dying to plan a tropical vacation! So beautiful! I couldn’t think of a better place to relax and recharge.

    I made channa masala last night. It was my first attempt at Indian cooking and I was delighted. It was so much easier than I expected and really delicious! Maybe I’ll try you’re recipe next.

  • 18
    Kira February 24, 2011, 9:07 am

    LOVE the Caribbean. For our honeymoon, we went to Excellence Punta Cana, and it was heaven, though maybe not as budget-friendly. Last year, we went to Puerto Rico and had the best time. It wasn’t quite as sitting-on-the-beach-w-a-pina-colada relaxing, but we definitely want to go back.

    • 19
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:27 am

      Thanks Kira! We’ll check out the Excellence. We’re going during the low-season so we’re hoping that we can find some good deals. I just want to find a place that someone can recommend since it’s so hard to tell by just looking online.

      We’re definitely looking for more of the, “sit on the beach and read with tropical drinks” vibe for this trip! ;)

  • 20
    kat February 24, 2011, 9:09 am

    I’m interested to see your responses here…Joe and I are in the exact same mode…researching Caribbean vacays. But we’re trying to go a little sooner, in mid-April during the public schools’ spring break. I have a friend that went to Punta Cana DR and also loved it…I just can’t decide if I am into an all-inclusive. Part of what I look forward to in a vacay is experiencing a different culture and I’m just not sure you can get that in a resort…but I probably wouldn’t be complaining too much as I sit on the beach with an umbrella drink in my hand….. ;)

    • 21
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:34 am

      We prefer to not do all-inclusive but budget is huge for us on this trip so we know that if we go all-inclusive we will be able to control our spending a lot more. Also, we kind of want to go somewhere and totally relax.

      Good luck planning! Have you guys checked out Luxury Link? There are just so many amazing places in the Caribbean! Let me know what y’all decide on.

      • 22
        kat February 24, 2011, 8:42 pm

        i know, budget is huge for us, too. we’re not seasoned travelers…sounds like you think all-inclusive is the way to save $$? the numbers sound big but i guess we’d spend that and more when we get right down to it…good point.

  • 23
    lauren February 24, 2011, 9:28 am

    we honeymooned at Cocobay Resort in Antigua. IT. WAS. PHENOMENAL. Each couple had their own little villa & was all inclusive. You can find amazing deals on luxury link for all sorts of great resorts!

    • 24
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:35 am

      Lauren – I’ve heard such good things about Cocobay. We went to Antigua on a cruise a couple years ago and it was beautiful. We’ve definitely been hitting up Luxury Link! Love that site.

  • 25
    L Reed February 24, 2011, 9:34 am

    Check out the Turks & Caicos! My family owns a place there and we LOVE it. Amazing…

    • 26
      Jen February 24, 2011, 11:36 am

      Turks and Caicos is very high on our “must visit” list. I’m so jealous that your family owns a place there. It looks so insanely beautiful!

  • 27
    Jessica February 24, 2011, 10:43 am

    The DR is relatively inexpensive and I think the people are awesome. I found Jamaicans always trying to sell me something (not that I can blame them gotta make a $). We went to Turks and Caicos for our honeymoon and loved it. Northwest Point was inexpensive relatively but we had to hoof it to get to places, next time we’ll stay in Grace Bay. Good luck planning and enjoy!

  • 28
    Claire February 24, 2011, 11:03 am

    I think the Dominican is a great choice! On our cruise that was my absolute favorite port! Happy Planning :)

  • 29
    Whitney February 24, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Although not budget-friendly, The Atlantis in the Bahamas is an amazing place to stay..restaurants, shopping, waterpark, lots of fun! I am going to Antigua for my honeymoon in June! :)

    • 30
      Jen March 2, 2011, 11:31 am

      My husband has been to Atlantis and said it was incredible. I think we’re looking for a more low-key vibe for this trip but Atlantis is on my list of resorts to visit!

      We stopped in Anigua on a cruise in 2009 and it was so beautiful. You will love it! Honeymoons are the best! :D

  • 31
    Cara @ ChicMeetsHealthy February 24, 2011, 4:19 pm

    I made some orange honey balsamic dressing today! you are right, it is so easy and totally worth it to check what you have on hand!

    • 32
      Jen March 2, 2011, 11:32 am

      Awesome! I love the addition of the orange to the balsamic – sounds delicious!

  • 33
    Jenn February 24, 2011, 4:42 pm

    I don’t comment often but had to comment to say that I would recommend staying away from the Dominican Republic. I went there for a long weekend for a friends wedding and felt SO unsafe the entire time. The ride to and from the airport and resort was very scary with people walking around with guns. The resort itself had signs warning you not to leave. We were in an all inclusive, and the food was horrible and covered with flies at all times. I really didn’t understand how people were eating food they had to shake several bugs off of! And everyone in our party got sick – really sick – like lost a day or two of their time there to lying on the bathroom floor sick. (Most people were there for a week). I didn’t eat anything (b/c of the flies) and was starving, but didn’t get sick.

    Alternatively – I’ve been to the Cayman Islands, and they were beautiful, no buggy food, and I felt very safe.

    Both trips were in 2010, with the DR being in May.

    • 34
      Jenn February 24, 2011, 4:44 pm

      Ok – I’m replying to my own comment b/c I just read through the posts above and I see someone recommending the Excellence Punta Cana – that is where we stayed in the Dominican Republic. I hate to disagree, but you could offer me a free paid vacation with an armed guard and I wouldn’t go back!

      • 35
        Kira February 24, 2011, 10:14 pm

        That is almost the complete opposite of our experience, and if you read through the TripAdvisor reviews for Excellence Punta Cana, you would see that most people had an experience akin to mine. When we went in June of 2008, we didn’t see a single person with guns. Anyway, I’ve found that TripAdvisor reviews are generally helpful at getting a feel for a place. I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but we have send other friends of ours to the Excellence Punta Cana and they have all had a wonderful time.

        • 36
          Jen March 2, 2011, 11:30 am

          Kira – thank you so much for sharing your experience with both Punta Cana and Excellence. One of the hardest things about making travel decisions is reading through reviews because people have such different experiences. I have heard many good things about the Dominican Republic and we definitely haven’t written it off!

      • 37
        Jen March 2, 2011, 11:28 am

        Jenn – thank you so much for taking the time to comment about your trip. It seems like people have varying experiences when it comes to travel and it’s so helpful to hear everyone’s stories – good and bad.

  • 38
    Stephanie February 24, 2011, 10:26 pm

    This is also my first time posting. I went to Punta Cana last April and stayed and Iberostar Punta Cana. It was amazing. I highly recommend it!

  • 39
    Catherine February 25, 2011, 11:19 am

    So exciting! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip… I’ve always wanted to go somewhere tropical with Jeff :)

  • 40
    Sabah February 26, 2011, 7:06 am

    I don’t know if you already know about Travelzoo.com but every week they come out with deals on flights and hotels to all over the world! You should look into it!

    • 41
      Jen March 2, 2011, 11:24 am

      Sabah – I love Travelzoo! They have some amazing deals. We’ve definitely been checking out the specials every week since we’ve been on the vacation hunt!

  • 42
    kathryn March 1, 2011, 9:35 pm

    I have to put a plug in for Belize. It is A-mazing in so many ways.

    • 43
      Jen March 2, 2011, 11:23 am

      Belize is definitely on our list of “must visit” places!!! We looked into it for our honeymoon. It looks so amazing.

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