141. Our Holidays in Costa Rica 🎄

Saturday 12/16- Randall called Ramie earlier this week to check his availability to come help at the shipping company today. A 40’ container would be arriving today that had to be unloaded while the driver waited. It was due to arrive at the warehouse around 11, but Randall called Ramie at about 9am and told him that the container was already there, but Randall wasn’t. He was on the road and it would still be a couple hours more before he arrived back in town. Randall asked Ramie to go to the shop and start unloading what he could by himself. Eventually Lowell showed up and the two of them started unloading. After not too long, Ramie ended up tweaking his back and was having a hard time bending and lifting so he was on forklift duty after that. It took the majority of the day this time because there was a lot that had to be unloaded by hand, but eventually they finished up and Ramie headed home to rest his achy back. He even took the rest of the week very easy and let his back get better, which it eventually did.

(Yes, I told him that he is absolutely not allowed to hurt himself doing this kind of work because I need him to be able to work in our yard and around the house… I wouldn’t be able to do all of the stuff that needs to be done here without him!)

While he was out unloading containers and tweaking his back, I stayed home and worked on our blog, listened to my music that Ramie does NOT enjoy, and did some other things around the house. I was a little bit productive today but I did enjoy the opportunity to relax for a change.

Thursday 12/21- Remember a couple of blog posts ago when we were at the dentist office so many times in such a short period of time? Well, guess who’s going back again? Yeah- me. ☹ I have another tooth ache, and I’m pretty sure that it’s one of the same ones that she worked on before.

Needless to say, I’m not thrilled about this! Just like last time, I got in the chair, opened up my mouth, and she took one look in and told me that there was a crack in that same damn filling that she just repaired. There are multiple reasons why this could have happened, but the solution would be to re-drill out part of it and re-fill it again. Which meant more of that damn Novocain that I dislike so much. I told her that since she was already numbing up that quarter of my mouth, she might as well replace any of the other fillings in the same area that needed to be fixed. There was one other tooth that she recommended re-filling, so she took care of the two teeth and sent me on my way with fingers crossed that no new problems would arise and that the repairs she made today would fix the problem that I was having. Am I regretting opening this can of worms with having old fillings drilled out and re-filled? A little bit. Does it irritate me even more that knowing the last time they tried to do this for me in the US I had a similar problem and ended up with a crown? Absolutely!!

Friday 12/22- Today was the end of year appreciation party for the volunteers that help at the Turtle Reserve. The event was being held at a place owned by the same person that owns the property that the reserve operates on. This place used to be hotel, but is no longer in operation and is only used periodically by the owner and his guests (it’s a really big place, I can’t imagine the guy has THAT many friends!) The owner has also agreed to let the reserve use the very large kitchen and outdoor space for these types of events. Our house was “on the way” for Val and Marshall as they were headed to the gathering so they offered to pick us up. We were the first ones to arrive and were shown around the property. It had potential to be a fully operational hotel again and was in the perfect location not far off the main highway but tucked back enough to be hidden from the sights and sounds of civilization. It also had a massive pool (that we didn't realize we would be welcomed to use so we didn’t bring our suits). David, the final member of Ramie’s turtle walking group, showed up a short time later. The hosts brought out food and beer, but it was still just the five of us. Jokes were made that only the “winners” of the turtle nest hunts were invited to the get together and it would only be us this evening. Eventually, about an hour later, other volunteers slowly filtered in. Since the walking teams don’t really interact with the other teams because each team has their own separate day that they walk, many of the volunteers don’t know each other. We spent most of our time hanging out with Ramie’s team and sitting on the edge of the pool with our feet in the water and our plate of food on our laps. At sunset everyone moved back up to the hotel with it’s amazing view of the ocean to watch the sun go down over the Pacific and, of course, snap a few pictures. Shortly after sunset the bugs started to come out and we decided it was time to head home. It was a very nice way to say thank you to all the volunteers for all the hard work they put in this season. 

Saturday 12/23- Today I decided that I was going to be productive. I was in the mood to bake, which doesn’t happen often, so when I do get the urge, I make it worthwhile.

The plan was to make Ramie a double batch of his favorite peanut butter cookies and attempt to make some new recipes for myself: peanut butter almond flour cookies and coconut flour shortbread cookies, as well as a batch of my tried and true black bean brownies. 

As most of you know, I have some dietary restrictions so I have to get creative with my baking. Unfortunately, baking with my alternative flours often turns out disappointing and this time my shortbread cookies turned into crumbs when I tried to remove them from the pan. The best way to describe the result of my efforts was delicious tasting (at least to me) but the texture of cornbread muffins after you smash and crumble them over and over again. I wasn't going to let them go to waste, though, so I saved the bigger chunks to eat like cookie bites and used the rest of the crumbs in my home made coconut yogurt to get a flavor similar to cookie dough ice cream. Definitely not a fail, just not what I was originally planning. 

Peanut butter cookies & Bailey's... breakfast of champions?

After spending the majority of the morning and early afternoon in the kitchen, which gets quite hot with the oven going, it was time to jump in the pool and cool down before we had our Christmas video calls with our families. Later on that evening, after the calls with the families, we had reservations at Whale Tail Brewery to see one of the local rock cover bands that we really like, “The Boys” previously known as Mojo Daddy, the same group we’ve gone to see multiple times before. This was their first show after one of the other members left and they are rebranding as a new band. Tracy was back in Canada so Geoff was living the bachelor life and we invited him to go along to get him out of the house. As usual, the band and company were both good and we had a fun night. I think we were home around 9:30 which is a perfect “late night” for us! 
Yes, that's the lead singer standing on the table

Sunday 12/24- Merry Christmas Eve. We didn't have any plans today, so Ramie decided it was his turn to do some cooking. Yes, he can cook when he wants to. He even has a few specialties that he is in charge of. Since I made cookies for him yesterday, today he decided to make a batch of sweet potato chips for me. We don't have a deep fryer so he uses a large kettle and can only fry about 15-20 chips at a time. He spent a couple of hours making the chips, and I honestly can't remember what we did the rest of the day, so it must of been pretty uneventful. Unfortunately, I would have to share my delicious sweet potato chips with our friends tomorrow for our Christmas celebration, I guess I’ll just have to send Ramie back to the kitchen again soon.

Skye loves raw sweet potato. She wanted to see what was going on and get as much as she could

Yep, I've got the life!
Monday 12/25- Merry Christmas to all of our readers!

This is our 3rd annual Christmas at the beach and our group keeps growing a little bit each year. For those of you who are new to our blog, the brief background story is for our first Christmas here we didn’t really know what to do since we didn’t have our families to celebrate with like we used to. Being from the Frozen North, I thought it would be fun and novel to spend Christmas on the beach, so that’s what Ramie and I did, just the 2 of us. The following year we invited Geoff and Tracy, and now this year our group would grow a little bit more.

We were missing Tracy who was still back in Canada, so our crew for this year was Geoff, Ray & Wesley and their doggy Izzy, and of course Skye. We always celebrate at secret beach because remarkably, the more popular beaches actually get really busy on Christmas. We didn’t start quite as early as we sometimes do, and we got there around 8am. It was Ray and Wesley’s first time at this beach and I think they liked it. As we’ve described before, we typically have miles of empty beach all to ourselves and there are very few people ever within sight. Everyone brought a variety of drinks and snacks to share and we sat around talking, hanging out, and when we needed to cool off we would take a dip in the ocean or hop on a boogie board. 

OMG! Im so excited, I get to go for a ride and to the beach!

Our Christmas tree this year

The gang!

Dad, I'm doing it! I'm actually swimming!

Doing the Baywatch slow motion run!

Sure, I'll take a Tequila shot!

Izzy even got her own chair

The waves today were amazing, they were spaced nicely, just the right size, and not breaking too fast. These characteristics allowed us to catch some really good waves. We did have to share our boogie boarding waves today, though. It turns out that the stingrays were celebrating Christmas by playing in the waves too! If you were in the right place at the right time you could see the rays riding the high waves before they would break. Some of them were really big with about a 6 foot wingspan. At one point I had a giant wave towering in front of me with a stingray that was as wide as I am tall directly in front of me. It was like looking into a huge aquarium, but I knew that in a split second this would be right on top of me. There wasn’t much I could do but jump to the side instead of jumping directly into the wave like I would have if the stingray hadn’t been there. Fortunately, as the wave crashed, the stingray didn’t end up crashing into me.

Unfortunately, there was just no way to capture these amazing sights without a Go-Pro or some sort of fancy camera strapped to your chest or head and filming everything that you would see. They were only visible for a second and you just never knew which wave they would be in.

Christmas on the beach ended around 1:30. We were all exhausted from boogie boarding, the beverages had run dry, and the sun moved to a point where we didn’t have any shade left other than up in the parking area.

One tired puppy on the ride home!

OMG! Best day ever!!!

Once we got home it was time to give Skye a bath (which she doesn't care for) and get cleaned up. By the time we finally sat down we were completely wiped out and slightly sunburned. 

We somehow mustered the energy to cook a nice Christmas dinner of steaks and mushrooms, and I think we were in bed around 7:30.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday 12/26- The rest of the week was mostly just a regular week and back to the grind for me while Ramie was on babysitting duty. What??? Well, I suppose I should say puppy sitting. Randal and his wife were going on a little getaway and asked if we would watch Molly their teacup poodle. She’s a bit younger than Skye and very tiny, but she’s one of those little dogs who thinks she is a full size dog. This was the first time that we would be watching her, so it could be interesting… The last time Skye and Molly met, Skye was scared of her. I don't know if it's because Molly looks like a living breathing chew toy to Skye or the sheer amount of energy this puppy had, but it would be interesting to see the dynamic between these 2 over the next few days. Well, as you might have guessed, the first day was a bit crazy. Molly didn't stop running and chasing Skye. Yes, the little ball of fluff chased our little chicken of a dog. When one of them would get tired they would lay down and try to rest, only to have the other one come up and try to pester them. Back and forth all day long! At one point, Molly was so focused on Skye chasing her she ran directly into the pool. Fortunately, Ramie was right there and quickly got her out and dried her off while laughing his butt off at the same time.

The second and third days were slightly calmer. They would chase each other around sometimes, but mostly just followed each other around and explored the yard. Randall picked up Molly late in the afternoon on Thursday and Skye pretty much slept the rest of the evening. The last 3 days were a little bit stressful considering I was trying to focus on work and those two dogs were bouncing off the walls, and their favorite place to run and chase each other was under my desk and around my feet. Overall I think it went fine, but I was glad when Molly went home. 

Sure, I'll share my spot with you Molly

Skye, just stood there while molly was frantically pulling. 


Thursday 12/28- It's been awhile since we’ve been to San Isidro and Ramie had a list of things he needed for various projects, we needed dog supplies and, of course, were ready to re-stock on groceries. Since it seems like every time we go to San Isidro we stop and buy more plants, I told Ramie we would not stopping at any viveros today, and surprisingly he agreed, no more plants until next rainy season. I was a little bit excited to go shopping today to see if there was anything on clearance after Christmas. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. There was absolutely nothing! Well, I take that back, there were a few items marked down on clearance, but nothing that I was interested in and it definitely wasn't like shopping after Christmas in the US. They don't have large inventories of all of the Christmas stuff to begin with, apparently here they really only order what they think they will sell prior to Christmas.

The one good deal that we were excited to find was in Walmart. While I was at the meat counter trying to decide what to stock up on for the next month or so, Ramie was scoping out the freezers for items that looked interesting. While I was trying to decide how many kilos of hamburger and chicken breast to buy, he came over and was excited to tell me they had smoked turkeys on sale. There were 4 smoked turkeys left and about 20 regular turkeys.

When I was finished getting what I needed from the meat counter I went over to the freezer to check it out. It turns out that these were fully cooked and actually Butterball brand. This was our opportunity, either we buy the turkey now or we might have to wait until this time next year before we see them again. A mid-sized turkey would cost us $47, but after enjoying that turkey at Loren and Nancy's at Thanksgiving and knowing how much she paid for it in November, we knew we wanted one, especially a smoked one. We actually debated about buying two, but we still had one more stop to make after Walmart and Ramie was pretty insistent that we would not have enough space in the freezer for 2 turkeys. He may have been right, but I was willing to try to make space. I mean, they are fully cooked, so I could just thaw it out, take all of the meat off the carcass and freeze it in smaller packages. Plus, it’s probable that we would eat most of a turkey this week before it would even have to make it’s way into the freezer. We decided that it would probably be best to only buy one. But it smelled so delicious!! We could smell the "smoked" flavor through the packaging and we couldn’t wait to get this thawed out and eat it!

Sunday 12/31- Today we spent a good portion of the day preparing to host our first ever International Virtual Family Game Night- New Years Eve edition.

One of the companies that I work for does an online holiday party and Ramie and I think that it’s a ton of fun and wanted to host one of our very own. While we really would like to do it with more family members, we decided that, at least for this first round, it would just be easiest to pick our most techy family members and invite them. If this goes well, maybe we can figure out a way to get more people involved. Unfortunately, some of the games have a limit of 8 players, so for those we have to keep our group small.

Anyway, this is our first time hosting a zoom call, even though I participate in them all the time for work, and Ramie did too when he was working back in the US. One of the curveballs that we are trying to minimize is that, because of how the games work, not only do we have to share our screens so everyone else can see and participate in the games, but the participants (including us) each need to use their phone as a keypad/controller to answer questions anonymously and participate in the games. So, they need to see our shared screen on the zoom call on one device and also be tech savvy enough to access the shared game’s websites from their own smart phone. There are just so many moving parts and we tried to make sure everything was foolproof before we started playing tonight. Of course, Zoom itself is another curveball. Since I only have the free version of Zoom, we were limited to meetings lasting no longer than 40 minutes, and then it kicks us off. Since our plan was to play multiple games and “hang out” longer than 40 minutes, we would have to sign off and log back in several times. Yeah, DUMB! All of this is why Ramie and I spent the day, each on our own computers and phones playing mock games to fine tune this for tonight.

Game time was scheduled to begin at 7:15pm, and in true Costa Rican fashion, our power chose this time to go out for an extended period and was out for about the first half of the festivities. Have no fear, though, thankfully we have battery backup to keep our internet online and our computers batteries last a while, so we were still able to make this work, albeit, from the dark, so our video probably looked like something from the Blair Witch Project.

We played multiple different games and were done around 9:00. Everyone said that they had a great time, and I know we did. This was our way of trying to be part of the holidays with our family from so far away. We were in bed by about 9:30, but we knew we would not be sleeping well or for long stretches of time tonight. The fireworks had already started around Uvita and would go off randomly. We both managed to fall asleep, but around 11:30 the noise really started picking up. We could see some of the fireworks from our house, but mostly just saw flashes because we have so many tall trees nearby. By 12:10 it was completely silent and we were able to sleep without interruption for the rest of the night! Happy New Year!

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of December rainfall total was 14.9 inches.

The Official Casa Costa Breeze 2023 end of the year rainfall total was 173.50 inches or 14.46 feet!!

Pura Vida!