Sunday, 31 January 2016

DIY Wall Art

I really wanted to update the artwork in our hallway leading from our mudroom past our bathroom into the main living area of our house.  The problem was that a) I wanted it to do it cheaply and b) I couldn't find anything that I liked anywhere.  Then I remembered a pin I saw on pinterest over the years and decided to maybe try to do that.  
So I took my feeble attempt of workout art and decided to paint over them.  They were terrible,  I am not sure how I talk myself into some of things I try to do, I really don't.

So I painted them all black because I knew that using white paint would take forever to cover the pink and teal paint that was already on them.  It took several coats to get it right. Once I perfected the black paint, I let it dry for 48 hours so that when I put the painters tape on, it wouldn't peel.

And then because I wanted to display these where people would see them in my house, I grabbed some chalk from our chalkboard wall and a ruler and measured out the distance I wanted between the stripes.  

Then I laid the painters tape on the first one.  I then painted the larger black stripes white.  Since I wanted at least 2 paintings in my whole way and I didn't want them to be identical and I wasn't sure I could pull off polkadots or chevron stripes on my own, I decided to do different width of stripes.

So I made the stripes on the second painting smaller and I think this is my favourite of the two.

Getting the white to cover the black paint proved quite challenging.  I ended up using a coat of white chalk paint left over from another diy project and that made a huge difference.

This is with the chalk paint - the coverage was so much better over the black paint.

And here they hang.  From a distance they look great and unless you don't look too closely you don't notice the imperfections but I notice them every single time I walk by. Every single time.  And each time it frustrates me a little bit more.  So what happened was even though I let the black paint dry for 48 hours, it still lifted when I took the tape off.  I then touched it up with the same black paint but it dried differently then the other black paint so you can notice it.  Or at least I can.  I thought about taping the white again and repainting the black but then I worry the white will peel and then it will become this never-ending cycle of repainting and taping stripes and I am not really up for that. Perhaps one day when Michaels has their canvas boards on sale, I can buy 2 and do them like these and the mistakes will be gone.  But overall, I am pretty happy with how these turned out and they match our placemats from IKEA that I bought forever ago and just never used and they match our coasters that I got on sale at Chapters a few weeks ago.  

Total cost: $0 - I had all the supplies left over from previous projects!!

Not too bad for the most creatively challenged person you know :)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Five On Friday

Yay! It's Friday!!

  1. Greg spent 4 evenings after work this week working on making our laundry room more functional. I told him it had to be done or we were selling our house and moving into a house, any house, that didn't have a laundry - mud room combination.  I mean seriously, what home builder came up with this and thought it was a good idea???  It is literally the worst idea in the whole world for house building.  Although I remember looking at a house in Cougar Ridge that I loved but it's bathroom was in the main floor half bath.  That might be even worse then what we have but I am not certain.  Stay tuned to the blog in the coming week or so for a glimpse of what it now is.  And I am very happy with it. 
  2. The weather here in Calgary has been ridiculous.  We have almost no snow left on our lawn and before we left for mexico, I the snow mountains I was creating from all the snow we had got were as tall as I am.  Which considering how short I am doesn't say much but they were huge!!  Penelope is sad that her snow hill is gone and she seems to think that winter is over for the year but I keep telling her it's going to get cold out again but she doesn't buy it.  She is gonna be really disappointed I am sure any day now.
  3. I love watching tv on my iPad which Greg thinks is really weird.  I love netflix because I can watch it on my tablet and I have downloaded the CTV, GLOBAL + CITY TV apps and I can watch shows like MasterChef, Hells Kitchen, Criminal Minds, Greys Anatomy + SVU all on my iPad anywhere in the house! It's great.  We don't have a tv on our main floor and sometimes while I am cooking supper I get bored and this is a great way to stay caught up on my tv shows.   On Wednesday I subscribed to Crave TV.  My sister had it through SaskTel +  I "borrowed" it to finish watching Seinfeld late last year.  It quit working for me the other day and I was quite annoyed because I had just started watching Sex And The City again from the beginning and didn't want to stop.  So I decided since it was now available for all subscribers and not just certain providers I took the plunge.  I watch SATC while I treadmill run and it seems to work for me.  I can get in 2 epsiodes before I start to lose my mind.  If I could find a way to watch Family Feud on my iPad then I would be in absolute heaven.  It's my favourite way to spend a Friday or Saturday night.  Thankfully Greg doesn't mind watching it haha.
  4. Today I randomly stopped in at Value Village to see if I could find some vintage decor to brighten up said renovated laundry room.  While nothing like that caught my eye, I remember my friend Jyl telling me that she found a lot of her Sweet Valley books at the one in her city so I thought I would take a look.  I found 2 Sweet Valley Twins books when they were in elementary school and I was so happy.  Finley doesn't share my glee at the moment but she will my friends, she will.  How can one not love Sweet Valley??  I always wanted to be Jessica, I think because in real life I was more like Elizabeth.  A few years ago, they released Sweet Valley Confidential and it nearly ruined my love for Sweet Valley.  It was terribly written and the characters had changed so much and not in a good way.  I truly believe that it was written to get an extra buck out of devotees like me.  Luckily for me, I got mine from the library.
  5. We have been keeping a food and bowel movement diary for Penelope this last week.  About a year ago, she was tested for celiac and it came back negative and she didn't have any deficiencies in her blood work so we were referred to a paediatrician who told us that she was just really in tune with her body and called it a day.  I thought maybe she is right because she never used a pull up or has ever had a accident so I never thought much more about it.  However, it seems to have gotten worse and she is having bowel movements constantly and they cause her so much pain until she can actually pass her bowel movement.  Last Thursday she cried all the way home from school because she suddenly had to go so badly and spent 26 minutes on the toilet.  I called my family doctor immediately and we went and saw him.  He thinks she might have IBS so she has to get some abdomen ultrasounds and blood and urine analysis and she has to give a poop sample to the lab too.  She does not do well with needles so Tuesday afternoon could be pretty fun with her.  We told her if she didn't lose her mind, we would go to Marble Slab for ice cream when she was done. So far the trigger seems to be gluten but we are trying to expose her to different foods to see if the IBS is more then just with that.  We are doing a month long diary and then will cut foods that seem to cause her problems and see if that helps.  I had no idea that little kids could even get IBS and the internet is almost non existent with information for kids who suffer from it.  Hopefully we figure out what it is that makes her sick and get her back to being a healthy regular little girl soon!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

DIY Medal Hanger

A year or so ago I purchased this medal hanger on etsy.  The color and saying was really ugly but it was on clearance and shipping from the US so the cheaper the better since shipping costs were so high.  I kept it as is for awhile before painting it hot pink and using stickers from Michaels, put on the saying "I just felt like running" from Forest Gump on it.  It sat like that a long time but soon the little clips couldn't hold my race bibs so I needed an alternative display unit. 
It looks very boring and tiny on this giant space so  I needed something big and maybe kinda bold.

I bought this on one of the Facebook groups I belong to for $3.  The color was not great but the size was.  I originally painted it hot pink before we left for Mexico but I hated it. The pink looked awful on it.

I ended up painting it white which I liked until I hung it up since it blends in with the walls.  I have no interest in repainting it for a third time so it is staying like this.  

Then I went to Walmart to buy a towel holder and I needed Greg to install it.  I am not good at making things even as you have seen previously.

And here is my new medal display.  I have more bibs somewhere and another wristband to hang up but I am really happy with how it turned out.  There is lots of room for more bibs and medals too!!

Thank you pinterest for this success!!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Crown Paradise Club!!

The resort was really good.  We loved it as you can tell from all of my posts on our trip.  Sadly this is the last one.  Or maybe it is a good thing if you are tired of reading about how amazing our trip was hahaha.  
The sunsets were amazing when the clouds weren't hanging around.  This was from the infinity pool while we waited for the french restaurant to open.  I think this might be one of my favorite photos from our trip.

This photo was taken the first time we saw it as we walked through the tunnel for the very first time.  Needless to say we were so very excited to be there.

And we met Chewbacca within 5 minutes of arriving and we had 2 very happy people hahah.  God he must have been hot in that costume.  

The middle pool at night.  It was so pretty and apparently it was warmer then the infinity pool but not once did we go to this pool and I have no real reason as to why other then the ocean views from the infinity pool.

This is the infinity pool.  As you can see, you have both a great pool view and ocean view at the same time.  This was our home base every single day.  Basically what most people do is when they are on their way to breakfast, you go to the pool/beach you want as  your home base and reserve your lounge chairs.  You do this by throwing your towels, books, sunscreen on them so people know they are taken.  Kids Paradise doesn't have lounger chairs and you can't reserve the ones at the adult pool.  You make this the home base with your stuff and then you rotate between the areas  you want while leaving all your stuff there.  Nothing goes missing and I left my iPhone and iPad in my bag and they were always still there.  If you don't do this then you get stuck with the ones in the water like you can see in the above  photo and  those kinda suck.

This was the adult pool.  This is where you came to chill while your kids are in kids club or if you have extra family to watch your kids while you chill.  The pool is open until 9 and bar until 6pm.  We hung out here a few times.  It was pretty nice and it is a swim up bar in a jacuzzi and is the warmest pool on the resort.  

We did a lot of this on the trip which is really rare for us if you are familiar with our normal vacations.  We read a lot, we swam, walked the beaches, picked seashells for the girls classmates, we ate food, we drank good drinks, we slid down slides, we got a lot of sun, we coloured and we basically just relaxed and it was so awesome.  I loved it.  

One of my biggest complaints was lack of schedules available for shows that went on each night.  We were there for 3 or 4 days before we found a schedule of the night shows.  Most were held at the theatre/club across the street from the resort but they do have the fire show on Tuesday nights.  It was pretty cool.  It gets chilly at night but Finley loved every second of it....

Penelope not so much and she slept through the entire show.

During our stay there were 4 cruise ships that came in and left during our stay.  The marina was close to the hotel and this was the view from our door to our room.  2 were absolutely insanely massive and 2 looked really little compared to this one.  I didn't like the cruise shippers.  They tried to steal the beach chairs and loungers on the beach but the security team at the resort was on top of that so that never lasted too long but they would all park their umbrellas and chairs on the beach blocking your view. It sucked.  Most looked like they had way too much sun anyways.  

There was so much to do on the resort, Greg went kayaking.  I tried to go kayaking but the waves scared me and it was hard for me to get on them and I lost my shoe and somehow it floated back to shore and I found it again.  They had movie soundtrack trivia, daily exercise in the pool, bingo, ping pong, pool volleyball, balloon fights, zip lining, chess and so much more.  I almost won the bingo too so that was indeed a big moment for me.  

There were bathrooms perfectly located throughout the resort so you were never too far away from finding one if you needed it.  They had showers to spray the sand off you before you went back to the pool areas which was quite handy.  

They had a boutique in the lobby and a little convenience like store that carried essentials like sunscreen and snacks.  Sunscreen is very expensive if you forget it like we did so try not to do it.  And by expensive I mean like 267 pesos!!  It was insane.  There is a grocery store about 5 minutes from the resort that you could walk to to get any extras that you wanted.  The sunscreen there was no cheaper there then on the resort so think that is a good idea for it either. 

The resort did a good job of keeping you busy most of the day and even in the evenings if you want.  We only went to the one evening show not because we didn't want to or they weren't good but to be honest I was usually fast asleep by 9pm.  Lame I know but days filled with sun, heat and booze leads to early bed times.  

I know I posted a lot of photos on Instagram during our trip and I know there were a lot of blog posts about my trip and I didn't really plan it that way.  I thought I would just have one blog post but it turns out there was so much I wanted to post because it truly was such a great family friendly resort that was really affordable.  I hope that perhaps I have convinced at least one of my friends to take this resort into consideration when planning their next hot vacation! We can't wait to go back!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Living The Beach Life

Oh the beach.  I have a difficult relationship with it.  I hate the sand and how it sticks to you when you are wet, I hate how it discolours bathing suits, I hate how it gets everywhere.  I hate running or walking on it because it bothers my knee.  I don't get the appeal of making sand castles or structures or anything else in the sand.  It's just gonna get crushed as soon as you finish.  Greg and the girls love it so we spend a lot of time on it.  I also don't particularly care for the water.  I hate how cold it is, I have a fear of getting swept up in the waves so I try to avoid them and I stress out when I watch Greg and the girls jumping in them and having so much fun.  I love walking on the hard sand, listening to the sounds of the ocean and watching the big waves come crashing in.  There is something just soothing about it.  It's some of the relaxing time you can ever spend.  

Watching the sun set on our first night there.  It was a little cloudy but oh so pretty.

We spent every morning walking along the beach.  It was a great way to get our days started.  

Big Waves.  Usually in the morning they weren't too crazy but as the day went on, then they could get pretty big.  The girls loved it.  
Building a sand castle early one morning before the beach got too busy and too hot.

The girls decided they wanted to bring seashells back for all of their classmates.  After our first attempt at collecting them we thought we would have to buy a bag from a souvenir shop but we ended up collecting so many!

We didn't have room in our suitcase for sand toys but they were guys selling them beachside so we bought some for the girls to  use and then we passed it on to a family who had arrived the night before we went home.  

A view of the seating areas in front of our resort.  It was really nice.  Attached to our resort was the Crown Paradise Golden which was the adults only version of our resort.  They had cabana beds beach side.  They looked so awesome!!

Walking back towards our resort

Playing in the water as the sun set.  It was my favourite time to be on the beach other then first thing.  

Greg going in to find the  big sea shells.  He was much braver then the girls and I.

Greg on his kayaking adventure.  He said getting into it and getting going was tough but it was really fun.  It was funny watching him come back to shore.  The waves basically just throw it back to shore. 

This is another part of beach and sand life I don't understand.  Being buried.  Why do people want to be covered by sand?  I really don't get it and the girls love being buried and love burying Greg.  

Our final sunset of our vacation.  What a great trip it was.  Stay tuned for my final blog post on the trip (finally) tomorrow!!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Room + Restaurants

When we got to our resort on that first Friday, our room wasn't ready yet.  They took our bags and gave us wristbands so that we could go eat and walk around the resort.  We were hungry after our flight and we hadn't a real lunch yet since our flight was delayed leaving Calgary it kinda messed everything up.

This was the entrance into Le Papaya or something like that.  This is where we ate the majority of our meals.  They had a kids section that had mostly western kid friendly foods and this where Penelope and I ate most of the time hahaha.  Just kidding, I did try some good foods at the regular buffet too.  They had a great breakfast where they had omelette and egg making stations, all kinds of pancakes, waffles, and french toast and fruit galore.  They had fresh fruit juices and smoothie stations.  It was my favourite meal of the day.  Breakfast went from 7am - 11am and it was best going before 830am.  It got really busy after that and you had to wait in line to get in.  Lunch was from 1 - 4 and that was ok if you ate a late breakfast, unlike us.  This was pretty good and there was always some kind of taco and fajita station that was pretty good.  Plus they had a pasta section and a deli section.  And they had ice cream for dessert too.  There was a snack station that was out towards the beach that opened at noon until 6 and they had nachos, french fries, deep fried sweet potato puffs, deep fried tacos, hot dogs, salad and freshly barbecued hamburgers.  The burgers were good but Greg said the cheese wasn't so much.  The fries and nachos were great for snacking throughout the day.  Supper was from 6pm until I actually I have no idea.  10 or 11 I think.  With exception of our first night there, we ate supper right around 6 and it wasn't too busy.  Supper had lots of fish, Mexican food, pasta stations, fish on the on-demand stations, sushi on a couple of nights.  It was a really great variety of food each night.  Greg was very adventurous, Finley was surprisingly adventurous, I was a little adventurous and Penelope was zero adventurous.  She literally ate the same thing every day and didn't complain once. They have staff in the buffet area that get your drinks, clear your plates and they are all fantastic.  Juan was my favourite and he even made the girls origami cranes one morning.  Another time, Penelope dropped her plate and her lunch fell everywhere she was so upset, by the time she got back to our table and we were going to get her a new plate, one of the guys had already gotten a plate full of the same stuff she had waiting for us.  It was that amazing.  At the end of the day, it was still resort food but it was way better then any resort food I have had previously.

This is a collage of our room.  It was insane.  We are not sure how we ended up with a suite like this but we were not complaining.  All we asked for was at least 2 beds but we got so much more.  It was gigantic, and without a bit of exaggeration, it was almost double the size of mine and Greg's first place together.  We had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a gigantic soaker tub in the master bath that you could access from our room or the bathroom that was behind us.  The second bedroom had 2 beds so the girls didn't have to sleep together.  We had a huge living room area, dining room and a kitchenette where the fridge was stocked daily with 5 water bottles, 3 pop and 2 beer.  We had a desk area where Finley did her homework and a huge balcony with 2 seating areas.  Greg was worried he might have agreed to some kinda upgrade when we checked in and we would be billed for it but they never did.  The wifi was $15 a night which is excessive but Greg had to have it because work was busy and he needed to be able to check it throughout the day.  For some reason + we are not sure why either but they gave us enough prepaid codes for the whole week for free!  They were so awesome.  

Our rooms were cleaned daily and spectacularly.  Occasionally we would go back to our room when they were cleaning it and they did a thorough job.  They even put the girls dolls back on their beds and made their blankets into a little ducks.  They were so awesome!!!

When we sat outside at the buffet place for our meals this what you got to see.  It was great aside from the pigeons who were trying to steal our food.  They were a little crazy.  The bar in front is the beach bar and i think it is open until 11pm.  If you wanted a stiff drink this where you came.  They put 2-3x more rum in your drink then any of the other bars.  To the right of this was the beach snack area that I mentioned earlier with burgers and fries and such.

The view at supper time from the buffet place.  It was so awesome. 

The resort has 3 restaurants on the grounds but you need reservations to get in and they start taking the reservations the day before you want to go at 8am.  Our first experience was at the Japanese restaurant.  The sushi was a little dry and I accidentally thought that the orange stuff was spicy sushi sauce but it was 1000 islands salad dressing hahahah.  They had a all you can eat salad and sushi bar once you ordered.  I had the vietnemese shrimp rolls and they were pretty good.  Greg had calamari and miso soup and he said they were amazing.  We both had the tempenyaki.  You could chicken, beef, shrimp or combination of all 3.  I normally always do shrimp but for some reason I did combination as did Greg.  The shrimp was really good and so were the vegetables but the chicken and beef had good flavor but were a bit on the dry side.  For dessert, we had tempera ice cream which had a light tempura batter and then deep fried.  It was so delicious.  Overall the meal was great, the servers were awesome and we recommend if you do go this resort that you eat here. 

My absolute favourite place to eat there was definitely the french restaurant.  Every single thing about it was amazing and delicious.  There was like 5 courses and so so so so good.  I skipped the soup course but Greg did not.  I think the most amazing thing they did was my steak.  In the menu it was  a blue cheese crusted steak.  I have come to enjoy goat cheese but i do not like blue cheese and yes i have tasted it.  So I asked our waiter how much of it was crusted and he asked if i didn't like cheese and that they would make it without it.  Not only did they make it without the cheese crust, they basically reinvented the steak for me and wrapped it with bacon and put sautéed mushrooms on top.  It was literally the best meal I have had in such a long time.  The whole meal was perfection.  The shrimp appetizer, the the organic and goat cheese salad with an amazing sweet homemade dressing and chocolate mousse in a bowl made out of melted chocolate!!!  If you come to this resort and don't eat  here, you are seriously selling yourself short of a spectacular meal. 

There was a third restaurant on the resort that was Italian.  I went to bed early but greg and the girls went.  Greg enjoyed his, penelope hated it and had jam sandwiches from the buffet on the way home and finley ate part of her pizza.

As you can tell we were very happy with our accommodations and food at Crown Paradise.  We are typically easy to please and easy going people but I think even you are not, you would still be happy. There were some bad reviews that popped up after we booked but they were definitely unfounded. Everything was so clean and the food was really good considering you were still on a resort.  Staff was great and friendly too.  

Friday, 22 January 2016

Kids Paradise

Seriously one word.  Amazing.  This is what sold us on this resort.  It was amazing in photos and amazing in real life.  Actually it was even more amazing because we thought it was just the pirate ship but it was SO MUCH MORE then just the ship!!

The pirate ship was pretty cool.  It had 5 slides, you could go under it in the middle, you could go on top and steer the ship.  

When we got to the resort, not only was there a pirate ship but there was an awesome castle with 3 more slides and a dragon that sprayed water out of its mouth.  Seriously it was amazing.  

The girls loved racing down the slides together.  It was nice that they allowed this to happen safely.

Finley loved being the queen of the castle.  She also used the castle to hide from Penelope too which as you can imagine drove Penelope crazy haha.

This wasn't in the kids paradise per se but it was zip lining for the kids.  It was over at the infinity pool and Penelope loved it.  She was a little scared the first time but she went and was hooked and did it nearly every day that we were there.  They technically only do it Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 9 +10am but if you ask nicely and they have 2 people at the entertainment booth they will do it every morning.  Finley went up to the starting area 2x but never did it.  She refused the first time flat out and lost her mind the next time.  She never went back up.  She has some fear while Penelope knows NO fear.  Which is both a good thing and a bad thing haha.

Even adults had a blast in kids paradise.  The mornings and around dinner time were the best time to hang out here.  The afternoons were crazy busy and there were just too many kids.  

And if you are worried about cleanliness in a kids pool area, here is what they do.  Every morning there is a guy who goes into the pool before it opens and uses like a underground vacuum cleaner and sucks out all the sand and dirt that accumulates in there daily from kids who switch between the pool and beach.  They also wash down the floors, tables and chairs every night and again in the morning before it opens.  They do this to every beach chair, lounger, table and floor surface at every pool and the beach area.  I was very happy with the kids paradise and the cleanliness of it.  My only complaint about it was the on demand chipmunks singing on their sound system haha.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Kids Club

We loved the Kids Club at the resort but it almost never was.  Greg had told me there was a kids club that kids 5 and over could go to and play and do stuff with workers at the resort but I was like I would never.  But then I did and it was great for all of us.  Paloma, Eli, Pati + Beni were fantastic with the kids.  They taught them spanish and they did so much.  I am so glad that I got over my apprehension of leaving the kids with them.  They had a great time and Greg + I enjoyed some one on one time.  As long as you didn't leave the resort, you could leave the kids in the club.
They did tons of crafts and got to play with glitter and glue.  They made masquerade  masks, origami baskets and had their faces painted.

They played sport ball and mini golf and had treasure hunts.

They bowled and played water polo

And they had lots of water balloon fights.

They watched movies, played games, and made so many new friends.  The 2 kids sitting beside the girls are actually from Canmore.  The resort was filled with people from Canada and especially a bunch of Calgary and a few from Edmonton.  

The resort also offers baby paradise for babies 18months to 4 years and a teen club for older kids but i am not sure of the ages for those.  They have video games and things like that. 

The girls absolutely loved kids club and loved getting to play fun games and watch movies even if sometimes they were in Spanish. They always wanted to be in kids club and got upset when they had to leave hahaha.  I guess that means they do a really good job there.  I think a lot of it was because it was structured and I think they both missed that part of their day when they are at school.  Just another reason why this is one of the best resorts and why you should really check them out if you are  looking into an all inclusive.