Posted on Aug 17th, 2014 by Allison (Reviews/Recommendations, Whatever)

Yes, they really do taste like cotton candy. The sweetest, most delectable grapes I have every tasted.

Where did I find these sugary little jewels, you ask?

Why, Central Market of course. They lured me in last year with a sample… walked around the store letting people try them. But they sold out before I could purchase a bag.

Last night I walked in to the grocery department and there they were… I grabbed one of the few remaining bags and couldn’t resist popping a few in my mouth before I got them home. I haven’t finished off the bag yet (but will soon!) and am already counting the days until next season.

They’ve only been on the market since 2011… Have you ever experienced this yumminess?

Learn more about them in this NPR story.

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Posted on Dec 30th, 2012 by Allison (Bali, Reviews/Recommendations, Travel)

Bali is a wondrous place… especially if you’re into pampering and massage.

A fabulous local massage therapist makes house calls and charges 150,000 Rp (about $16) per hour. I enjoyed a reflexology session last week.

For Christmas, my kids decided to treat me to a pampering spa experience, and selected Sedona Spa in Ubud.

Brandon dropped me off this morning and I was led through this flower-covered arched path to my private room – the Gardenia.

I was in heaven even before I got on the table.

While water gurgled, birds sang and meditative music played in the background, I received an incredible one hour massage. This was followed by a stimulating coconut body scrub… and then a coconut milk body mask.

Are you jealous yet?

As I showered off the scrub, my attentive Balinese therapist was preparing my flower bath (she was a little surprised when I asked for cool water, not warm) – along with fresh ginger tea and a fruit plate to enjoy.

I generally I prefer showers to bathing. I find I get bored soaking in hot water – and most tubs are rather uncomfortable for me. But this was an experience and a half, and one I’d like to have again.

The deep tub was so comfortable, the water cool and refreshing on a hot Balinese day – and the luxury of bathing with flower petals made me feel like a goddess.

I sipped my tea (and took a few photos), and swirled the flowers in the water with my toes. I wanted to stay in that tub for an hour :)

When my flower bath was over, I was given a sarong to wear and led to the salon where I enjoyed a hair cream bath, scalp massage, hair steam treatment and neck/shoulder massage…

And because my facial skin is so sensitive I opted out of the facial and asked for a foot massage instead… and it was a good choice. He accompanied me to the shampoo bowl and back, so my feet and legs were being nearly continually massaged for another 45 minutes. Oh happy, happy feet.

A manicure and pedicure topped off the treatment and I felt like a brand new woman. And by now, the hot sun had made way to a thunderstorm which nicely cooled things down a bit.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Wow – how much did that cost!???”

Any guesses? If you guessed $300 you’re wrong. But that would easily be what you’d pay for an equivalent treatment in the states or Europe.

$200 you say? Wrong again. $100? Nope.

The grand total was approximately $50 US for 4 hours of heaven. If you don’t count the $1800 airfare to get here, that’s a bargain. Even WITH the airfare it’s a bargain – and one I’ll take advantage of again.

Thanks Brandon, Jennifer & Ashley. I absolutely loved my gift. Next time, let’s all go together!

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Posted on May 27th, 2012 by Allison (Music / Entertainment, Reviews/Recommendations)

Normally a crime drama girl (NCIS, Criminal Minds, the Mentalist, In Plain Sight) with a little humor thrown in (Psych) or SciFi (waiting for a new Dr. Who season…) I have a new favorite TV show… a musical drama called SMASH!

I know I’m a bit late to the game here, since the season ended a couple of weeks ago. But I recorded it on my dvr and just finished watching the last episode and wow – love this show!

Premise is about the writing, producing, casting and creating of a new Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Fantastic cast, interesting characters, fabulous music – heroes, villains, starlets… it’s got it all. I can’t wait til next season to begin as they take the new show to Broadway.

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Posted on Apr 28th, 2012 by Allison (Music / Entertainment, Reminiscing, Reviews/Recommendations)

My friend, Paul, wrote a blog post recently of how he wastes spends his time playing games on his iPad.

It got me thinking… Growing up, I loved our family game nights: Sorry, Pit, Uno and, of course, Nertz. We played Nertz pretty fast at our house, but Nertz at Michelle’s was a serious, frenzied, “take no prisoners” affair.

Then came Scrabble, Risk, Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary. And eventually computer games like the classic Kings Quest.

Loved them all…
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Posted on Mar 16th, 2012 by Allison (Bali, Reviews/Recommendations, Travel)

My birthday was so spectacular that it is taking me awhile to get through photos and videos to post. So in the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my new food discoveries here in Bali.

While in Costa Rica last year, I discovered my love of a good mango. Mangoes were so plentiful and fresh – I just couldn’t get enough. I purchased a few from my local grocery store in the states, and they’re okay, but just not the same as a fresh, ripe from the vine mango in Costa Rica.

I was hoping I might find similarly fresh and tasty mangoes in Bali, but it is not their season. Instead, I was served an interesting fruit I’ve never tried before – fresh mangosteen.

Pretty purple/red on the outside – white, juicy fleshy sections on the inside. The texture of the fruit is kind of like the soft areas of a honeydew. Or maybe a bit like a peach. But the taste is different than either…. it is reminiscent of many fruits – but hard to describe.

It was very good, different than I would’ve expected. When we stopped by a farmers market the other day, one of the vendors offered me a mangosteen ‘gratis’, in hopes I would purchase more. One bite and I was hooked!

It was even sweeter and fresher than the mangosteen I had eaten for breakfast the day prior. I purchased 5 and paid 5,000 Rupiah. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only .55 cents – basically 11 cents each. I think they often sell for over $3.00 EACH when imported into the states (if you can even find it).

So mangosteen is the new mango. And now I’m going to go to the market and buy more!

Have you ever tried fresh mangosteen?

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Posted on Jan 27th, 2012 by Allison (Reviews/Recommendations)

I have found a new favorite tea. And if you like strawberries and chocolate I think you will too.

Introducing Strawberry Chocolate Tea by The Republic of Tea.

Yummy, yummy!

Naturally caffeine free (so I can enjoy a cup at bed-time), naturally sweet, smells and tastes delicious. A perfect 0 calorie, aptly named treat. I think I’ll have a cup right now!

Ingredients: Rooibos (red tea), carob, cocoa kernels, chocolate flavor, strawberry flavor, sweet blackberry leaves and bourbon vanilla beans

Try it and let me know what you think.

Do you have any other really yummy teas to recommend?

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Posted on Dec 7th, 2011 by Allison (Music / Entertainment, Reminiscing, Reviews/Recommendations)

My first crush...  Jonny QuestI’ve had a few (sometimes inexplicable) celebrity crushes over the course of my life…. mostly in my youth.

Jonny Quest (yes, the cartoon) was the first. He was followed by a string of mostly musicians… teen heart throbs like Davy Jones, Donny Osmond and David Cassidy, etc.
My 3 crushes

Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing – but admit it… you loved them too, or someone just like them in your own music era. (FYI, I fell for musicians in real-life, too…)

Anyway, during the 80s I developed a celebrity crush on Richard Page, lead singer/songwriter from the band Mr. Mister.
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Posted on Aug 14th, 2011 by Allison (Reviews/Recommendations)

Meet my newest addiction, thanks to Ashley.

I’d never tried a Chai Latte before (I know, can you believe it?) but had a sip of Ashley’s while she here a couple of weeks ago. OMG – love at first sip.

How can it be I’d never tasted this delicious hot, sweet drink? I live in Seattle, after all, the coffee shop capital of the world.

Ashley gave me a rundown of the different types of Chai out there, and insisted that Oregon Chai is the best (or at least her favorite). While at Central Market last week, I discovered Oregon Chai concentrate on sale for 2 for $4.00 – less than half the regular price. I bought a couple of each of the varieties (regular, slightly sweet, and caffeine free – made with red tea instead of black). I like them all – but prefer the sweeter varieties (of course).

Because I enjoy drinking this in the evening, the Caffeine Free variety has become my favorite. I always have it in my Laurel Burch cat mug, a favorite gift from my friend, Jana.

And topped with a little whipped cream and cinnamon, it’s simply divine.

What are your thoughts on chai?

Any brands in particular to recommend? Want to write a chai haiku? :)

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Posted on Feb 21st, 2011 by Allison (Reviews/Recommendations)

I have one final post to share about my Cost Rica trip – filled with wonderful pictures from my last few 5 days in the country. But I haven’t had a chance to work on it – and wanted to share why.

The last few weeks I’ve been working, nearly non-stop, on preparations for a “Breakthrough Telesummit” that Margie (my main Virtual Assistant/web design client) decided she wanted to put together.

The woman has a lot of vision – but, sadly for me, not much of a feel for what is involved and how long it reasonably takes to bring her vision to life :)

So I’ve taken what should be a 12 – 36 week job and pulled it off in just 4 weeks. The telesummit took place this weekend and was a smashing success. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to many of the 24 speakers and they are really INCREDIBLE.

This was a high caliber event – speakers like Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup For The Soul), Marci Shimoff (Happy For No Reason/Love For No Reason), Cheryl Richardson, T. Harv Eker, Tim Sales and more.

All for only $20.

Really, it’s an incredible bargain.

The calls were all recorded, and anyone who registers gets 60 days access to listen to them. Margie has decided to leave enrollment open for one more week (til Sunday, February 27th) – so I wanted to let you know about it.

If you are looking for a breakthrough in your business or in your life, I really recommend you invest the $20 and listen to these speakers. Even though it is billed for “network marketers” - it’s really for anyone wanting to make more of their life, business and relationships. Or to start a new business or create something new. Most of the speakers didn’t even talk about network marketing (though a few did).

Anyway – just wanted to share what I’ve been doing and invite you to take advantage of the offer.

Having heard nearly half of the speakers so far, I can say it’s well worth $20.

Check out the website (yes, I made it) for details on the speakers and their topics – and to register if you’d like.

OK.. back to work!

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Costa Rica: Day 3

New year’s day was nice and relaxing. Friends of Brandon & Jennifer came by to visit and share what they’d learned about the process for gaining residency and the various hoop jumping necessary to prepare for the birth of the baby in June. The Engelhardts are really great people and we enjoyed some very interesting conversation. I’m glad I got to meet them.

I also took photos of them for their newborns birth announcement for their family in Holland.

And here are the lovely Pearce ladies in the garden.

We went out for an early dinner at a wonderful little open air restaurant just down the street – Monte Companas.

I experienced my first Costa Rican mixed fruit drink here – and it was delicious. This was peach, mango, papaya and starfruit. And I think it was only about $2.

I was lost looking at the menu (in Spanish), so just took Jen’s recommendation for a traditional Costa Rican meal – Arroz con pollo – rice with chicken. It was served with french fries (which seemed a bit odd) and steamed vegetables. It was very, very good – something I’d order again. I was so eager to eat it I forgot to snap a photo first. Sorry.

The food is only one of the great things about this restaurant. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere comfortable and inviting, and the prices very reasonable. They also have a playground for the girls (making it a great “date night” restaurant for Brandon & Jennifer), and an absolutely incredible view.

I give it 4 clams.

I’ll leave you with a couple of scenic photos I took on the way to dinner. You can click them to enlarge a bit. These were taken from the same place in the road – one shot to the southwest, the other to the southeast. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, isn’t it?

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