After a whirlwind trip to the Dominican with 12 besties (and my mom - my #1 bestie), a rocking 30th birthday (complete with new J. Crew boots - thanks Drew, I'm obsessed) and recovering from island time (and devilish mosquito bites that are STILL itchy) I finally feel back to normal. And ready to get some serious bloggin' on!
If you follow this little corner of the Internet, and are my friend or family member, you know I turned 30 this week (and was a little apprehensive about it). To ease my apprehension, my thoughtful and hilarious husband Stu (aka Mr. Fo) planned a surprise birthday trip over Thanksgiving to the Dominican Republic with 12 of my favorite people! Isn't he the sweetest? And the coolest, I might add.
So instead of chowing down on turkey and watching football, we were celebrating in the sunshine this Turkey Day. Note: This is our 2nd time away for Thanksgiving, and we just may head out of town for each Thanksgiving that follows - I highly recommend it. You won't miss the parade or the turkey at all, you have my word!
We stayed at Excellence Resort in Punta Cana and it was muy excelente. It was beautiful and the people were friendly...plus the drinks flowed like whoa, so what more can you ask for? As hard as it is for me to relax (READ: VERY HARD), I managed to relax for the most part. I had a wonderful massage, copious cocktails and variety of naps soaking in the sun. Plus lots and lots of heart warming, soul enriching, belly laughter. Without further ado, here are some (READ: A LOT) of photos from our trip! Also, note that the crappy pictures were taken with my point and shoot and the good pics were taken by my friend Michael Flanagan, who photographs some of my weddings. There's no way I am responsible enough to take my good camera to the Dominican Republic. Not even at 30. Ha.
Courtesy of Mr. Fo's expert coordination with our travel agent, he had the hotel decorate my room with some birthday balloons, which was a lovely welcome after a fairly long travel day.
When we got in it was already dark (after a slightly sketchy yet hilarious shuttle ride), so we headed to dinner and had some celebratory "Mamajuana" shots, a Dominican specialty. Mamajuana is made with red wine, rum, honey and it soaks for a long time with tree bark and herbs. It's ... interesting....but we had to try the local culture. It's what you do.
Our days started with room service breakfast outside of our swim-up suite room, complete with a hammock and delectable french toast. French toast is so good, and I feel like I only eat it on vacation. I need to change this STAT.
We would then move the beach. We used these same beach chairs each every day; I guess we marked our territory? Or no one wanted to be near the loud people who started drinking at 10 a.m. Their loss.
Suffice it to say, thanks to Omar, our awesome beach "attendant" we were served tropical drinks galore and even got lunch brought out to us upon request. We didn't leave the beach for a solid few hours. Why would you? A popular lunch item was the Hawaiian pizza, which tastes delectable on the beach.
Our next big decision of the day was when we would make the inevitable move to one of several pools. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, right? At the pool we drank mudslides and el Presidente beers served right at the swim up bar - Holla! Man, the Dominicans know how to live. Side note, I don't even know if I've ever had a mudslide before, but they are simply delicious. I will be making the mudslide a vacation treat from now on.
We did a lot of horsing around in the pool....
Note, I do have a bathing suit on in the photo below. I promise. It just looks like I'm nekkid.
Speaking of horsing around, one our friends did a cannon ball in 3 feet of water which resulted in the photo below. (Side note, 30 year olds get lots of ailments on vacation - we had rashes, bug bites, random swelling of body parts, and several people limping around with sprained feet. These types of things did not happen when we were in our prime during college spring break.)
After a long hard day of lounging by the beach and pool, we washed up and made ourselves presentable for dinner. I should note that my island hair is less than desirable, so I basically would do my hair to put it up 5 seconds after I walked outside. Damn humidity.
Here's my beautiful cousin Theresa and I at dinner one night! (Missed you Laur!)
Natalie and I... Nat is a recent 30-er as well!
My mom and I....(who was a total trooper ignoring all foul language and excessive drinking. She just laughed the whole time.)
We all hit up the discoteca and danced the night away...dancing is also good for the soul.
Now let's talk about how awesome my friends are. They created these hilarious t-shirts for my birthday and surprised me with them on the beach!
The t-shirt was complete with a photo of me giving a thumbs down. Caption reads: "Jackie is 30 and not happy about it!" Lets just say that was a hit with the peeps on the resort. They called me "La hefa (the boss - I LOVED that) and also remarked about how I wasn't "happy about it." The "it" being turning 30. Hee! I can't tell a lie, I loved the attention.
Everyone got into the "thumbs down" thing.
My friends even brought my favorite treat from the U.S. - Trader Joe's chocolate covered almonds!
And the folks at the resort were so sweet. Roberto (the dude in charge!) had them make me a special cake :)
Totally random, but definitely worth noting were the cute little turtles in the open air lobby.
Here are some more random but awesome photos...
Here's Flanagan and I hanging on the beach with our rose colored glasses from the Pinkful Wedding.
And a beach parting shot... I hope to see you soon, beautiful ocean!
On a sappy note (because I'm getting sappy in my old age) I'm so happy that so many important people in my life could get together and celebrate birthdays and long friendships. I don't always sit back and take the time to reflect on my blessings and good fortune, but I'm really a lucky, lucky girl. Thanks to Mr. Fo for knowing what the perfect birthday gift would be!
Now that I'm back in action, I've got TONS to blog about including:
1) A list of 30 things I've learned in my 30 years.
2) Fabulous wedding photos
3) Fun showers coming up to blog about
4) and much, much more...
In the meantime, check out my two latest Tablespoon articles for delicious dessert ideas for the holidays!
Happy Eating and Happy Weekend!