Monday, May 21, 2012

Jamaica, mon!!!

my three years of marriage have been so unbelievably amazing. our anniversary celebration took place in ocho rios, jamaica and it was waaaaaaay beyond our expectations! we booked this trip in march and had been on the countdown ever since. finally our time arrived so we drove to atlanta and spent a night, then flew to the beautiful island of jamaica. when we arrived to the airport in montego bay (a shack) we were escorted to a bus that would take us to our resort. we knew that we had an hour and a half ride ahead of us to ocho rios so we made friends with the luggage guy. he showed us to the 'best' seat on the bus which was conveniently next to his and were on our way...
the drive was long even though it felt like we were traveling 100 mph on the wrong side of the road! the way people lived along the way was nothing even remotely imaginable. im talking houses made from sticks - plastic tarps for a roof - dirt floors. it was very heart wrenching knowing that we were headed for a billion dollar resort when the people of that same village lived this way.
i was forewarned by many that jamaican sellers live off tourist dollars. when traveling to a resort in any country this is inevitable. jamaica is also widely known for drug dealing... and within one hour of being in their country, we were offered drugs. yes - on a bus full of tourists. we politely declined and that was that.

finally we arrived at our resort, the riu ocho rios.
it. was. magnificent.
we walked into an open air lobby that was ginormous and beautiful.
we were given our bags and went to check in. while standing at the desk we were handed welcome drinks that they called baby makers! regardless the given name it was delish!
then we were informed that we had been upgraded to the delux wing!!!!!!!!!! it was already turning into a fantastic trip. so we found our room, admiring the breathtaking views as we walked, and started to realize we were truly in paradise. our room contained a fridge stocked with water, diet soda, and jamaican red stripe beer, liquor dispensers filled with anything you could possibly need, a california king bed, and a balcony that overlooked the ginormous pool and the heavenly crystal blue caribbean sea.  yes, we had most definitely found our paradise.
we changed into our bathingsuits and coverups, ate lunch then headed straight for the beach. being on the deluxe wing most definitely had its advantages - it was a LOT less crowded and we had no problem finding a perfect spot. here are a few images of the breathtaking beach -
time flew by and that continued every single day. the heat was indescribable and davids feet got scorched the first day. if you had no access to the beach or a pool i really have no clue how you could deal with type of weather... but we did have access... and we soaked it alllllll up! thankfully my spf 70 did its job keeping me from burning as bad as i normally would. the ocean was surrounded by natural reef that anyone could snorkel over and also had TON of swimming room. it amazed me because i absolutely do NOT swim in the ocean - atlantic or pacific. if i can't see my feet, im not going in! in mexico, the ocean was literally ALL reef so swimming wasnt much of an option, but here we pretty much stayed in the ocean all day long.

jamaicans sat on jet skis in the water trying to sell to all the tourists. they gave rides to people and one man even came out of the water with armloads of jewelry. we literally fell over laughing! they definitely work hard for their money! one man would go snorkeling every morning faaaaaar out over the reef and collected conk shells bigger than ive ever seen. he would swim his way up to shore and sell them... it amazed me!
and everyday for us was the same - get up around 730 and have breakfast - go to the beach - lay out and read for about 20 minutes - get in the ocean and swim - walk up to the pool and hit the swim up bar - lay out some more and dry off (which took a whole two minutes) - have lunch at the jerk hut which is amazing - then do it all over again until the sun was gone. we would clean up and go have dinner then enjoy the resorts nightly entertainment. my favorite was reggae night.

another view of the amazing beach and the most beautiful view while having our morning coffee -
here are some photos of the amazing swimming pool featuring beds, tables by the swim up bars and an infinity pool.
on thursday night street vendors were let inside the resort to sell their goods. david got a bamboo cup hand carved with his name and i got a beautiful handmade turquoise bracelet. both items we will cherish forever!
friday morning david took a sailing lesson for 20 bucks which lasted about 20 minutes, then we got to sail on our own. it was the most amazing part of the trip for my man! he insisted on being called captain the rest of the trip, and even named his boat the black pearl. being that far out, just us on a sailboat in the middle of the sea, was scary but super awesome. And of course he did it like a pro!
that afternoon, after hours of convincing him he would enjoy it, we kayaked. that was my highlight! i used to love kayaking and doing this on the caribbean sea pretty much made my life :-)

saturday we had an excursion planned to go to dunns river falls. it's a 600 foot waterfall that you climb, and it was way more strenuous than i had planned, but was so great. you got to fall backwards into deeper areas - slide down rocks like a water slide - and best, literally stand under the falls. it took about two hours and was worth every second.
we enjoyed more of the beautiful caribbean sea and snorkeled when we got back to the resort.... we had to enjoy every bit of sunshine that was left. thankfully our water camera had a few more snaps left so we got these priceless photos -
that evening we cleaned up (quickly) and headed back to the beach to take some more photos. we were already getting super depressed that it was our last night - it had seriously flown by.
sunday was our last day and we had to catch our bus at 10:30. we woke at 6:30, grabbed a carafe of coffee and a few pastries smeared with hot nutella and headed to the beach. we soaked in every second of sunshine we could and the views this early in the morning were breathtaking.
we swam our last swim in the ocean. it was a sad day and we were not ready to leave but it had to end at some point and we were seriously missing our pups. we checked out, got on the bus and were gone. it went so fast but we felt so incredibly grateful to have the time we did.

we also vowed that would not be the last time jamaica saw our faces! that's a fact.
Friday, May 4, 2012

tomato seedlings

to me gardening is like finding gold. it fulfills something in me that i cannot put in words. you pick a plant and bury it in the earth then watch it grow. but it all takes your time and your care, and the way you care for the plant determines its growth... it just all amazes me. then the food you get from what you have grown... amazing!

i have always gardened with already grown plants - the ones you buy at nurserys that are ready to be transplanted in the ground. it's quick and easy and convenient. i do use seeds for peas and beans, but a tomato plant is different. they take time... lots of time.

this year i wanted to test my green thumb at starting tomato seeds (again). a few years back i did this and was very neglectful of my seeds. i let them sprout and gave them water and light, but never got around to the transplant part. this season would be different.

i started with getting the seeds i wanted - organic black krim tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes. i used a burpee seed starting kit to house the seeds. these kits are self explanatory and very easy to use.
after depositing the seeds into the tray, i watered them, placed the lid on, and kept them on a shelf away from direct sunlight. within one week they were starting to sprout. once all the tiny seedlings were showing, i removed the lid and placed them in front of a window - and here is where the magic happened! they kept growing and growing! once the sprouts started producing leaves, i thinned them out leaving only one sprout per square.
i continued to let them grow for a few weeks. tomato plants will eventually get there first 'true' set of leaves, and when that happened, i trimmed the bottom set of leaves away so all the nutrient supply would go to the real leaves, allowing the plant the nutrition it needed to grow.

you know your plant is healthy when the stalk looks 'hairy.'
some of my sprouts ended up falling over and dying, but the majority thrived!!!
i picked the best plant i had and transplanted it (extremely carefully) into a small pot.
i take the plant outside during the day when it's very warm to get some 'real' sun, but always bring it back indoors. our weather here has been a bit up and down, so for now the plant is staying inside in front of a large window.

and after 5 weeks of being transplanted, here is what she looks like today -
next step is to plant her in the ground!!!!

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