Friday, August 18, 2017

A Second Mother's Day

One of the many beauties of living in Costa Rica is that I get to celebrate two Mother's Days.  I get my official day in May, where I am treated like royalty and then again, in August I get the same special treatment.  It's nice to feel appreciated and I get double the appreciation in Costa Rica, having two days just for me.

The funny part is, my celebration in May is a little more subdued because the only people in Costa Rica that celebrate mother's day in May are the expats.  In August is when everyone goes crazy. The stores are all decorated, Mother's Day paraphernalia everywhere.  The schools offer special handmade or store bought gifts for a small price and the best part of it all; the kids don't have school! Mother's Day is actually a holiday in Costa Rica, can you believe that?!  They sure know how to treat moms in this country.

So I take full advantage of my two special Mother's Day celebrations because mom's should be celebrated every single day anyway.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Planning A Party On A TIGHT Budget

I am no stranger to budgeting, especially when it comes to party planning.  But this year, my budget seems to be even tighter than ever before.  I don't mind having to stick to a budget when I plan parties because in all honesty, I think it's a good thing.

I really do not need to spend a heap of money on party decor and unnecessary favors.  As we all know, decorations end up in the trash at the end of the day and a lot of the party favors do too.  As much as I love all the DIY touches of my decor and how much flavor it adds to the theme and atmosphere of the actual party, DIY doesn't always mean cheap!  So budgeting helps me keep the DIY to a minimum.

I've also started taking a simpler approach to party planning as it's just less stressful that way.  And keeping the menu simple has also been a great way to keep the stress of party planning at bay.  When planning a party, a simple menu is key as well as budget friendly.

I love parties and I love party planning but I find that when I keep it low key and minimal is when I have the most fun.  Parties aren't about fancy food and over the top decorations.  It's not about going overboard spending a ton of money on a one day affair.  Kids don't care if you spend $50 or $500 on their party, they just want cake and the ability to run around and have fun with their friends.

Parties are about coming together and spending some good quality time with friends and family; being able to catch up and reminisce with people you haven't seen in a while.  People have busy lives these days and a party is a good opportunity to escape that hectic day to day routine for a few hours. It's about having some good old fashioned fun.  So even though I am planning a party on a super tight budget, I remind myself, it's not about how much money I spend on this party. It's about the memories we create and the moments we share with the ones we care the most about.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Goodies From Boston

My mother in law got back from Boston about a week ago and, of course, she brought back a few goodies with her for me and the family.  Goodies like perfumes and colognes, clothes, shoes and fun items for the kids and the home as well as a few extras.  But the best thing she brought back for me from her short visit were 24 Jamaican style beef patties.  YUM!

If you have never heard of a Jamaican beef patty, please take a few seconds to browse google.  Make sure you have a napkin, because you will inevitably start to drool over the images.  And then you too will understand my obsession.

An authentic Jamaican style beef patty is this super flavorful and savory flaky pastry with a variety of spicy fillings.  The original filling is beef, but these days you can get chicken, vegetarian, spinach and shrimp.  And you can get it really spicy or take it on the mild side.  Growing up, a Jamaican beef patty was not just a special treat, it was like taking a mini mind vacation from everything going on around you to enjoy a small delicious piece of food heaven.  That first bite is a mouthful bursting with flavor and spices.  Almost puts you in a damn food trance.  And once you eat one, you can't stop there.  You look forward to the next time you can sink your teeth into another.

If you live in an area where Jamaican style beef patties are plentiful and easy to come by, well then, I am jealous.  I live in a country where there are no patties to be found or bought anywhere.  Price Mart use to sell the boxed frozen version a few years ago, which were also very tasty, but they don't anymore.

The only thing you can buy here (that does not even remotely resemble a Jamaican beef patty in taste or design) is the Afro Costa Rican version of an empanada, which they call a Paty(pronouced pat-ee).  In my opinion, it doesn't even come close.  But I made due for a number of years with the Paty.  However, I just can't anymore and that makes me miss my beloved Patty even more.

So when my mom told me she could send me some Jamaican patty's with my mother in law, I started salivating.  I was sent 24 patties for my family to share.  As of today, we have none left.  And yes, that almost brings a tear to my eye.  I'll be dreaming of patties until the day comes I can have a few more.  You may wonder, why don't I just make the damn things?  The problem is, I can't.  No one I know personally can actually make an authentic style Jamaican beef patty.  The flaky crust, the delicious filling, the taste and texture.  It's a science that very few have mastered.  And those who have, sell.  So we buy.