8/8/17

The Beloved Hotel, Playa Mujeres

Beloved Hotel
Upon arrival, Edgar greeted us and took care of our bags. Guest services had champagne for the adults and Shirley Temples for the kids (ages 3 and 8). The rep made sure to advise that The Beloved Hotel was kid-friendly. After Edgar helped put our bags away, he explained some of the all-inclusive amenities. 

Beloved Hotel Mexico
We consistently encountered courteous staff. The only less than adequate service came while dining poolside on the second day. Service at onsite restaurants is slow, but at the Isla Grill it was slower than the norm. The server took our drink orders when the food came (about 30 minutes after we ordered), and we had to go to the bar to ask for our drinks.


Beloved Hotel Playa Mujeres

We continued basting in the sun while waiting for refreshments. A manager walked by and noticed the oversight. He retrieved our drinks immediately, but our server never returned.




Cancun HotelOverall, my party preferred Isla Grill to Aroma and learned to stick with shrimp and steak dishes. I had a duck dish that had been cooked to death. The smoothies I saw a bartender making did not contain any fresh fruit. Chocolate cakes and brownies looked more appetizing than they tasted.


The homemade ice cream, however, proved impressive. We also fell for the sushi bar, which opens at 6:00 in the evening. Kids’ items are standard fare, like pizza  and nuggets, but kids can order from any part of the menu. Snacks in the room are free and refilled daily, including drinks. Outside food and drinks are not allowed.


The breakfast was fantastic! And this is coming from someone who hates buffets. I found plenty of fresh juice, fruit, nut, and yogurt options. I even took some fruit to snack on later. Loved the iced coffee and almond croissants. Others in my group liked the shredded chicken, eggs, waffles etc.

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On the one occasion we ferried to Isla Mujeres, we stopped at Privilege Aluxes Hotel for brunch. I took one look at their buffet and it did not compare to Beloved's. I opted for juice only instead of eating there. Since we found the resort to be quite relaxing, this was our only outing.

Cancun All-Inclusive HotelThe hotel remained sparsely populated during our April stay. Often, we had a pool to ourselves. Lounge chairs at the pristine beach were plentiful. FYI: Plenty of children, my nephews included, went crazy over the kids' club.  

Cancun All-Inclusive
This germaphobe found no cleanliness issues. Showers are see-through, but suites do have curtained tubs.

We saw an HGTV host staying at The Beloved, which I consider an indication of the resort’s quality. I'm glad we ventured outside of the commercialized Cancun Strip area.


Playa Mujeres Hotel

Playa Mujeres Resort

6/24/17

Blood Orange Marinade Recipe

I couldn't pass up a $1.49 asparagus bunch and 4/$1.00 blood oranges at the farmer's market on my way to a cookout. My friend who was hosting had never tried asparagus, now she loves it. I concocted this marinade for the veggie at the last minute. I plan on making it again to pair with grilled shrimp.

Blood Orange

You'll need:
  • juice of 1 small blood orange
  • 1.5 tbsp organic white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 4.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of lemon sea salt

Place juice in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar and oil. Add sugar, salts and pepper. Whisk until marinade ingredients appear blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Whisk before serving if needed.

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4/26/17

Sigmund's Pretzels, NYC

Pretzel perfection! How else can I describe the mesmerizing morsels that danced about my mouth? I stumbled upon this wonderland while browsing booths at the Union Square Holiday Market. Luckily, you can indulge in Sigmund's Truffle Cheddar and other varieties all year long at various NYC markets, including Urbanspace Vanderbilt near Grand Central.

Pretzels

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3/20/17

Credit Report Spring Cleaning


credit report

When did you last think about credit? Does the possibility of a dreadfully low score haunt you? Planning to finance an expensive project soon?

Even the richest among us need to access credit periodically. Spring is the perfect season to take action.

Step 1:

Request a free copy of your credit report from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This government sponsored service offers one report from each major bureau. Do not let onscreen offers for credit scores lure you! Those aren't free. And, instead of selecting all three reports I suggest rotating between Equifax, Experian and TransUnion once every four months. This hack lets you monitor changes throughout the year without spending a dime.

Step 2:

Request a credit score from www.CreditKarma.com. This site gives a great estimate on your score. Remember, each bureau publishes its own version at a cost. Plus, retailers select if they want to use one, several or an average. Rankings range from 100 - 990. Your goal is to gauge where your score falls.

Step 3:

Scour the report, searching for inconsistencies and truths. Did you open every account listed? Is a bill you paid still showing a balance? Is a debt that passed the statute of limitations listed? Do not promise to pay debts you even suspect are erroneous.

Step 4:

Pay or protest. Make arrangements to clear genuine outstanding balances. Demand that lenders solidify in writing repayment agreements, interest rate deductions or any sort of deal. Dispute questionable lines of credit by following the bureau's procedures. It will research the inquiry and update it after deeming a debt erroneous. Then, it will share its findings with its competitors.

Following these easy steps, every season, will put you on a path to controlling your credit score and its impact on your financial future.

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2/24/17

Eventbrite

Eventbrite

Eventbrite allows users to find mostly free events. Organizers can sell tickets or simply use the service to reserve seating and track attendees. I found the site when a favorite restaurant used it to give away free meals during a reopening.

I also happened upon a cool contemporary opera concert and numerous industry expos. Explore Eventbrite to find low or no cost events in your area.

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1/25/17

Sweet Corner Bakeshop, NYC

When a European tourist on his honeymoon is desperately trying to arrange a way to send cakes back home, you know they're good! Sweet Corner Bakeshop is the perfect anti-Starbucks.

Watch bakers prepare sweet delights that showcase skill and imagination. The staff is just as sweet and attentive, a rarity these days! Even though I don't visit as often as I'd like, the fact that my barista remembered my first order the second time I stopped by left a lasting impression.

http://sweetcorner.com/



Coconut Dulce de leche Pound Cake

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How to Buy Cheap Broadway Tickets!

Before attending my first Broadway play, I believed affordable tickets meant sitting miles away from the action. Follow these tips to see spectacular shows without spending a fortune.

Wicked, Rear Orchestra
1. Enter lotteries. Most shows offer these daily and place winners in awesome seats. I'm talking close enough to spy on the conductor! Tickets average around $35 with a maximum of two entries per show. Get $10 off your first show on TodayTix when you enter my code DLZUK at checkout. http://todaytix.com/refer/DLZUK

Book of Mormon, Front Row Center
2. Buy rush tickets. These go on sale when the box office opens. Some theaters cater strictly to students or young adults while others offer general admission. Like lottery holders, rush buyers often score orchestra or front mezzanine seats.
Fun Home, Stage Side
3. Check out seating charts. All venues post layouts online so it's easy to compare options. Even nosebleed seats in some theaters, especially smaller ones, offer excellent views. Mezzanine options generally cost at least $20 more than lottery or rush.

Curious Incident, Rear Mezzanine
4. Join loyalty programs. Modern theater thrill seekers have often overlooked money saving options. Besides selling tickets online, plenty of sites and apps offer friend referral credits. And, some sites give customers points for rating shows or checking in to performances that they can redeem for rewards.


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10/26/16

Lincoln Road Mall, South Beach


Lincoln Road

This outdoor mall lends to the encapsulation of South Beach. I strolled through on my first night in town and at various times thereafter. Locals and tourists alike congregate here at all hours because Lincoln Road Mall offers something for everyone: dining, retail, bars, clubs and galleries. Although I missed them, I found out that farmers and collectibles markets are also held there.

The mall is well-maintained and truly designed for pedestrians, with some areas blocked off to vehicles. Almost every restaurant offers drink or appetizer specials and al fresco dining. For people watchers, there are public seating options. I didn't buy anything but food while exploring Lincoln Road Mall and engaged in my share of window shopping. Some streets adjacent to the mall are worth exploring as well. I did so on foot and discovered more shops and even residential areas with interesting architecture.

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10/17/16

Free Crunch Gym Pass

Been slacking all summer? Stop stepping on the scale hoping for a miracle. Check out Crunch's free 3-day pass. Besides weight, what have you got to lose?

Visit: https://www.crunch.com/guest-passes/?d=3

Guest Pass


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10/3/16

7-Eleven = Free Coffee Heaven

Download the 7-Eleven app if you want a free cup of joe every day this week. Offer applies to any size and usually rolls around yearly!


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9/27/16

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

I bought some pastry flour intending to make a pie. Then my oven died! Wary of baking a pie in my convection oven, I settled on biscuits.

The recipe I adapted from FaithfulProvisions.com is the best using whole wheat flour that I've found.

Whole Wheat Biscuits


I made a slight alteration, using a cup of Arrowhead Mills Pastry Flour and 1.75 cups of King Arthur Whole White Wheat Flour.

See: http://faithfulprovisions.com/2012/05/16/whole-wheat-biscuit-recipe/ for details.



7/25/16

Chipotle Chiptopia Rewards

Like a dumped lover longing for a second chance, Chipotle hopes to woo customers with loyalty rewards. Grab a Chiptopia summer earnings card at any location and make a purchase before 7/31 to earn free chips and guac.
https://chipotle.com/chiptopia



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5/22/16

Westside Community Garden, New York

Guess what's in bloom at Westside Community Garden? Tulips galore. The plot, tucked away in a mostly residential area, offers tranquility from NYC's continual grind.

Besides stunning flowers visitors can partake in concerts and other, mostly free, events.


tulipsTulips

Westside Community Garden depends on the kindness of volunteers and donations. So don't cheap out.

Drop a few bucks in the collection jar!

Visit www.westsidecommunitygarden.org/ for a list of upcoming events.








Garden
Tulips