Adults only hotel Riu Republica..was it worth the price?

My man and I went on our annual vacation down south. This year we tried an adults only hotel. It’s called the Riu Republica in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I was told it just opened in June. It was a lot of fun because I didn’t have to cook or clean, but rather just enjoy our time together which we did. Here’s a summary of our week’s adventure.

Was there enough activities?

Yes. The entertainers had games for everyone, BUT…they were too long to wait to play them. They would try to get 10 to 20+ people to sign up. So, you would get one turn and then wait another 10 minutes to play. My man and I did win at darts. He came 1st and I came 2nd. However, this is normal in most resorts. So, if anyone from resorts are reading this, can you please do a max of 10 people. While we want to play, we also want to enjoy the sun.

There was a fun game called Slip and slide that the tourists decided to do. They used one of the tables in the pool, added TONS of water to it and encouraged everyone to get on. Well, most of us did and it was a blast. I did hear though of someone tearing out their belly button ring because there was groves in the table:(

2 days during the week they had a foam party.  The pic above is from the event.  They played great dance, rock, and some country music. So, that was great.

What was the room like?

One word…HUGE!!! We had a king size bed…OMG, I loved having my own side of the bed. I would have to roll over 3 times just to get close to him. So, you can imagine how amazing my sleep was.lol

There was plenty of water bottles, alcohol, beers in the fridge, towels and pillows.

However, constant humming outside. We were facing east, which was what we wanted because we wanted sun in the morning. However, we couldn’t sit out there because the noise actually hurt our ears.

What was the weather like?

That’s the interesting part. It rained every morning and at least 2 times during the week, but these were HEAVY rain. I took a video to show you, but it’s on my other camera. So, it will have to wait sorry.

What about the food and drinks?

OK, so here’s where I’m a bit disappointed. There was 1 buffet, a snack place, and 3 restaurants we could eat at. The buffet had good food and quite a variety, but the restaurants all had buffet too and not open every day. Only the steak house had sit down menu that you chose from. Everywhere else was buffet. I really wanted a sit down dinner and something different. After all, that’s what it said was provided in the description.

The drinks were good. We had beer most of the time, and mimosa in the morning. One of the bar guys Leornardo made wonderful dry vodka martini’s with LOTS of olives for us. One girl at the pool gave me a shot with coffee cream and chocolate sauce…OMG, that was tasty. We tried the Mamajuana. YACK!!! That stuff will grow hair on your chest, even if you’re a woman!

What about the beach?

Ah yes the beach. The beach was soft and easy to walk on. With the crazy weather i.e. wind and rain it was hard, but we walked 40 minutes each way. We saw the Hard Rock hotel that we walked in to see. It’s HUGE. Not a place for him and I. We like smaller and more outside. This hotel felt like it was a shopping mall. It’s good for some people, but not for us.

So, would you go back?

We payed over $3600 for the 2 of us. It was fun, we met some very nice people, and there were no kids. So, would we go there again? No! The prices doesn’t make up the difference for things that are important to me like restaurants, quiet time while sitting on the balcony. Last year we stayed at the Grand Palladium Punta Cana and it was 2 times the size and cost us $2400. Oh and there was no one selling local artifacts which we liked to see during the week.

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How to eat well on $90 a week or $360 Canadian a month

I have been spending wayyy too much money eating out, especially since my salary went down as I am no longer acting in higher role. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy I am no longer doing that role because I was very busy and felt very isolated. I am back working with a great team who makes me laugh and they do things together like coffee or lunch. This is better than the extra pay. However, with a smaller salary I really need to smarten up on the spending. So, the first thing I did was try to find someone who mastered it and while I found a few ideas, they were not exactly everything I needed as they were American. However, I got some great suggestions from Bobbie from www.livinginretrospect.com. One of her articles talked about going through your cupboards and seeing what you have, then come up with a meal plan for 30 days. Yikes!!! I like variety, but not sure I could come up with 30 days’ worth of meals. I also needed breakfast and lunch where she provides great ideas for dinner.

I reviewed my previous grocery bills for the last few months, and no I didn’t keep my receipts. I should have but I didn’t. I looked at my withdraws from my debit account and found them to be way out of sorts. Some weeks I spent $120, while others I spent $60. It all depends on what I had on hand and if I actually wanted to cook, which I didn’t the past month.

The next thing I did was follow Bobbie’s suggestion and did an inventory of what I had in the fridge, freezer, cupboards and pantry. Well, I have LOTS of things I can use. I had things in the cupboard that I wasn’t sure what to do with them like sardines, and rice roll paper. So, now comes the fun part, finding recipes I can make with the ingredients I have on hand that don’t take too much time and not too many ingredients. I don’t have patients for either.

Let me warn you though that finding recipes is LOTS of fun, but it can also be very VERY time consuming. So, I thought I would give you a head start and wrote down a few that you likely already have.

Another important thing to note about me is I don’t ever follow the recipes exactly, but they always seem to turn our great. Just ask my man…because there’s never any leftovers.

One more note, I didn’t write down exactly what I bought at the grocery store, but I do know I went over againJ. However, here’s what do I have on hand to eat in the house to make these meals.

Meal ideas

what do to with a Roast Chicken

Rice dishes that taste better than take out Chinese (secret ingredient?)

  • I used what i had in the cubbard i.e. rice, and the fridge…left over roast chicken, carrots, zucchini, green onions and 2 eggs. Secret ingredients? I added ½ teaspoon of Sesame oil. Omg sooo good.

 

 

Chicken and rice soup

Left over roast chicken, carrots, celery, onion, chicken stock, Italian seasonings and cooked rice (or you can add uncooked rice to your chicken stock and then add veggies after it’s cooked. It tastes amazing.

NOTE: you can make your own chicken stock by simply boiling the carcus after you take off the meat and add the same ingredients above, minus the rice as that’s for when you are ready to eat it.

Thai Curry chicken and rice

Steam and veggies you have on hand, the add 1 teaspoon thai curry paste, can of coconut milk, left over roast chicken, and stir and make your steamed rice as you’re doing this and voila…

Pasta that’s somewhat healthy

cold asian noodle salad? /carrots/green onion/sugar snaps, noodles, (soy ginger dressing)

another one

http://domesticsuperhero.com/one-pot-spicy-thai-noodles/

I replaced a few items with carrots and celery

 

Sheppard’s pie with ground deer meat (it actually tastes better than ground beef)

http://www.thebackyardpioneer.com/2015/01/05/venison-shepards-pie/

I only used onions, cream corn and corn niblets, deer meat and cauliflower to replace potatoes

 

Salads

  • Thin sliced apples or grapes/lettuce/almonds (mustard vinegrette)

 

What I found for Sardines

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/eating-well-on-50-a-week/

Note: I’m not sure I’m going to try this, but thought I would post it for you;)

 

French onion soup

  • I like to cook my onions in butter, then add water and beef broth if I have it or chicken stock works well too, then the onion soup mix. I use whatever cheese I have on hand, but the best I found was swiss.

NOTE: Trick to make the toast fit the bowl? Use the bowl to cut the bread by using the inside of the bowl it like a cookie cutter.

 

If you’re looking to find ideas for things to cook and budget friendly grocery stores, here’s a few that I like.

RECIPE ideas

http://www.supercook.com/#/recipes

www.yummly.com

www.pinterest.com

FOOD places

www.Costco.ca (great price for hummus, coffee cream, zucchini, eggs, spinach and mini cucumbers)

www.Walmart.ca (good price on chicken breast and pork)

www.producedepot.ca (best fruits and veggies because they are not oversized. You know, the ones that was injected with god knows what)

 

Good luck and if you have other places to save money, please let me know. I love to save and try new things.

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Lookout Alfredo, here’s comes cream cheese

I had bought some fresh spinach ricotta stuffed pasta, but I didn’t buy the sauce because I was going to make an oil and garlic sauce, but The Man wanted a sauce. However, the spaghetti sauce was frozen. So, what did i do? Look up recipe for something with cream cheese and found this one on Food.com .

It was really easy, but I’m warning you…it’s VERY rich, so don’t put too much on. Maybe add a blop and dip the pasta in it.

Ingredient I used in the house

1/2 of the cream cheese recommended

2 tables spoons of butter as that’s all i had left

poured in 10% cream because we don’t have milk.

pepper….pepper…and more pepper…but not too much.

Spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta from Giant Tiger that cost $2.50 each bag. I used only one.

Also, I didn’t follow the instructions, but it turned out OK.

Here’s what the pasta and sauce look like separate. I know I know, I should have taken the photo together, but as I said before..when the Man is hungry, I just get enough time to take the photo when things are cooking..wink wink.

 

 

 

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Best, easiest and cheapest french onion soup for 2 people

My Man loves French onion soup that I make. He use to love the one at The Kegg, but after having mine, he prefers mine. So last night I was hoping to go out for dinner, but he asked me to make French Onion Soup. I love the man, so I did, but not without giving him a bit of the biz about not taking me out. For those that don’t know what “the biz” means, it’s teasing him.

The one thing you’ll notice in my recipes though is I rarely use the same ingredients. This latest version I used he LOVED.

Here’s what I used

½ Beef stock (store bought)

2 table spoon of butter

1 cup of water

Packet of onion soup mix

1 small onion chopped length wise. If you chop too small it doesn’t really taste like onion soup, eh!

2 pieces of white bread (whole wheat bread is too sweet for us)

2 square slices of Swiss or old cheese

 

Instructions

  1. Cut the onions into big pieces as that’s what makes the flavor
  2. Melt the butter on medium heat. Add the cut up onion to the butter and cook for about a minute
  3. Add the broth and water to the beef stock and water. I have also used my homemade chicken stock which tastes really good too
  4. Add the onion soup mix packet
  5. Turn the stove oven on broiler onto high. This is to cook the cheese
  6. Cut up the cheese into thin slices and make 4 slices. I prefer slices because shredding is a pain, but whatever works for you is fine.
  7. Toast bread and the use the onion soup bowl to cut out the circle in the bread. You can keep left over bread to make croutons or breadcrumbs. I just throw it out. It’s too much work for me.
  8. Place the soup into the soup bowls, then place the toast on top, but don’t push it in or the cheese wont melt in the oven. Then add the cheese to the top
  9. Place in the over for about 3 minutes, but keep looking

VOILA! Your soup is ready to eat.

P.S. This is the first recipe I actually wrote down with amounts listed. I never do because I like to wing it in the kitchen and so far, it’s been OK.

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Not one mishap…not 2, and then another

Men if you are reading, this one is not for you…unless you have teenage girls, t

hen you may want to read it.

It’s that time of the month…you know what I’m talking about ladies, period. Some of my friends are lucky and don’t have it anymore, but they have the hot flashes. I still have mine and I don’t mind it, but this time I’m a little annoyed. I bought a new type of tampons called Rexall because they were on sale for 50% off. However, they have caused me not 1, not 2, but 3 accidents!

I was getting ready to go out for dinner with my man. I had just finished a short workout at the gym, and changed my tampon an hour before. When I dried myself after the shower, everything was good. So, got in my car to drive to the restaurant when I got the feeling that something was leaking. I touched my pants and they were wet.  Are you kidding me!!! I just changed an hour ago, and…these are new jeansL. So, I called my man and told him I would be running late as I had to go home to change. We go out to eat and when I get home, again another hour after I just changed, another mishap. WTF!!! So, washed the first pair of pants and undies with soap and now have to wash another one.

The next day, I’m heading to work at 6:45am. I do the same routine, got changed first thing, took shower and leave 15 minutes after I get up. It takes about 25 minutes to get to work, when…oh oh…feel something leaking. SERIOUSLY!!! Luckily I have spare underwear at work from my gym clothes.

I have never had so many issues with tampons as I have with these ones. They don’t seem to soak up much at all. Maybe I had a bad batch, but I will not likely buy them again.

Lesson learned ladies, some things on sale are not always a good deal. You may end up paying for it later:(

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I wasted time and money shopping online

“Winter is coming.” I love that saying from John Snow in Game of Thrones. It’s his voice and when I hear it I get chills because…well, winter is coming, which it is here in Ottawa. Which means time to switch summer tires to winter ones, but this year I was trying to find rims. It costs a lot when I need to switch them every season i.e. $80, but if I had the rims already installed on them, the dealer said it would be $40. I still think that’s high, but I can’t do it. I told my man about the cost and My ManJ said he could do it no problem. Woohoo, $40 saved every year. My plan was to look for used rims online for about $100, but people had their winter tires with them and were selling for $300. I tried to see if they would sell separately, but no go.  So, during the summer, the fall right up until now, I had been searching on line for 4 rims and I found a few, but because I don’t know what I’m looking for I asked the HONDA dealer what I needed to look for and they gave the rim size to be 195/65R/15. I had a feeling that buying fromt them would be expensive, so when I asked them how much it would cost for their rims, they said….$80 each PLUS taxes!!!  OMG, that was the cost of my tires, or pretty close. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. So, I kept looking online in places like Kijij, usedottawa, but I didn’t feel confident in going to buy them. I even found someone online named Pat who was looking for me, but he didn’t find any since the summer. Funny how I found a whole bunch, but he didn’t. Oh well, keep searching.  So, I waited and waited until….as John Snow said “winter is coming” and, and it hit. The first snow fall. NOW I had to rush to find them or else we were going to spend another $80 to install and then do it again the next year. NO THANKS! My Man said to look at Costco. He found them for about $53 each, but I still found that high. However, if I calculate all the time I spend searching online, when I could have just bought them and be done with it, I would have saved time and money I could have been making in my business. I caved and called Costco, but they said it would take 2 weeks just to get an appointment and I wasn’t allowed to book the appointment until I actually have the rims in my hand! Seriously!!! So, next option was Canadian Tire. Instead of calling, I went into the store because the snow was on the ground and I needed them NOW…today. Good new, they had 6 of them, so I bought 4 for $270 approximately, but they could only do the install on Wednesday. Well, 3 days from when I bought them is much better than 2 weeks for Costco.

Today is installation day, but there is a downfall from this. They said it will take a few hours. Oh boy, what am I going to do for 2 hours? I don’t really like to shop at crappy tire as I call it. However, there is a restaurant across the street where I can go and write and have a beverage. DONE!

Hurray! Tires are installed and look great, and now…no more needing to go to Canadian Tire. Oh ya, forgot to mention the problems I had with buying the rims and ensuring I get the 1 year warranty on them. Ya, I don’t want to ruin your day or mine. I’m just happy I got my winter tires and rims installed. Thank you Canadian Tire for being fast with booking dates and having my rims available at a reasonable price.

20161124_0719501

The lesson here is when you’re trying to save money, be sure you know what you’re doing. Ask someone who has experience with what you need. Don’t waste too much time trying to save $100 like I did. If you don’t know the answer, ASK! And….always ask for better price or deal on installation or whatever you’re looking for.

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