Vacaciones de Primavera

Unfortunately it’s over, but we had fun! My family and I, along with my sister and her family, vacationed in Dominican Republic.  We stayed at Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa.  This is an all inclusive resort about 25 minutes for the airport.  We were all in for a treat!!

We (Casa de Leyva) flew out of Miami directly to Punta Cana. SN: I grew up in MIA….and the airport still sucks! Too many people…too many concourses…too much going on!! 😝. From Miami, it was only an 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Before we knew it…we were at the resort and met up with my sister and crew. 

We did a little pool time when we first arrived….

Source: Resort website

 and beach 

 

In most all inclusive resorts, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from.  Most of them have foods that you can find in the states: French, Italian, Asian fusion, etc.  When we travel, we like to at least try local fare.  We stumbled upon the DR from an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel.  My BIL was ready to go!!!  We ate Oceana on property.  Hubs, being Cuban American, used his fluency in Español, to tell our waiter what kind of food we were looking for.  Lorenzo (our waiter) knew exactly what to do… 

 LOBSTER!  I don’t eat lobster and had the braised short ribs, but man…everyone loved it!   

Julian and I

  

Aidan, me, and Julian (looking COOL!)

  
 

All of my loves!!!❤️

 
  

Jolie, my niece (with her photo bombing Mama aka my sister)

  

#1 nephew Ray, Mo, and BIL Pete

  

Jolie returned the photo bombing favor! 😂

 
 

Oldest cousin and the youngest, Gavin

 
The first evening was a success! A stroll back to the room allowed a great photo op 

 

Day 1 (first full day) brought a beautiful morning….

   We had a great breakfast at Oceana and time at the pool again.  I can’t tell you how many cocktails I had in this trip, but that’s the beauty of all inclusive!! 
The property had many other sites to see… 

    

   
 I’m not a big fan of birds because they kind of freak me out. But these were so pretty, I overcame the uncomfortable feeling to snap a few photos. These “lovely” birds were my alarm clocks every single morning!  Forget about hearing the roar of the ocean…I heard the crowing of flamingos and peacocks! 

Lunch lended to a Dominican favorite …

 Sancocho: hearty soup with different meats and veggies.  It’s a popular Dominican meal and very filling! It’s served with white rice.  This is the exact meal we saw on Anthony Bourdain’s show. 

I woke up on Day 2 needing to do some exercise.  I managed a run on the beach that was challenging.  I could only get in 1.88 miles, but it was better than nothing. At the end of my run….

 …..these guys were there to greet me. #freakout

Another great breakfast and we (Mo and I) had a nice surprise from our hubs..facials and massages at the Dreams Spa by Pevonia.   Whoa!! I’d only had one other massage in my life but never had a facial.  I should say that I will be having another one….soon!   

Post spa treatment selfie!!

 What a treat!!!

Day 3 started with no run (because I slept in!) and a great breakfast.  After hanging around the pool and beach again, we had another treat for lunch from our “guy” Lorenzo at Oceana.. 

 Chicarrones (fried pork skin and meat), tostones (fried plantains), white rice, habichuelas (red beans).  This is another Latin favorite that I have had the pleasure of eating at home! 

Day 4, sadly our last day, allowed us to have a traditional Dominican breakfast  

 Front to back: Tostones, Mangu (mashed plantains),Fried eggs with Dominican salami, cooked onions, and Fried cheese. 

We were sad to leave but we had such wonderful folks that took care of us in the resturant…

 Lorenzo and Andrea with the Kid Crew (Julian and Marc in the back; L to R: Aidan, Jolie, and Ray; Marc in the front)

My likes: 

  • the pool and the beach. I/we couldn’t get enough.
  • the authentic Dominican food and not just the “stuff” we could get at home.
  • All inclusive! #nuffsaid
  • All the helpful staff- friendly and helpful (when needed)

My dislikes:

  • We didn’t give ourselves enough time to leave the property for excursions. #nexttime
  • The property could have used some minor upgrades, but it was still a nice place to stay. 

It was  fabulous vacation with my wonderful family.  Once again, we ate and drank our way through a town…this time in a different country!  I wish we could have stayed longer but back to reality, it is.  (So we can go again!!)

Adios, DR! Until next time…..

How was your vacaciones de primavera?

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Spring Break Tidbit

As I sit here posting, I’m sunburn from vacationing in….Dominican Republic.  

 #paradiseatnight

Yes…we in the Casa de Leyva were able to have a family vacation in Punta Cana, DR. The best part is being able to enjoy this with my sister and her family. I will have a filled post for you in when I get back from this 4 day jaunt (it’s over on Easter Monday😢). I just wanted to share a little today. 

I managed to get a run in this morning 

 …but let me tell you, running on the beach in the wind should count as a CrossFit WOD! Man…was that rough! I tried to make it to 2 miles (as my OCD normally allows) but that packed hard sand I wasn’t ready for. Plus,  I figured something is better than nothing, right? I will try again tomorrow, as it will be my last full day here.  

Hope you all have a GREAT Easter! Enjoy HIS resurrection! 🙏❤️

Heaven in Haven

My last post, I eluded to the fact that Hubs and I had a date night! And what a date that was!! We went into Tampa…whoa…like 30 minutes from home…to hang out.  We did some shopping for our upcoming Spring Break va-cay with the boys and my sister and her tribe. 

I had read about a resturant on a great blog Eat a Duck some time last year. SN: follow them!!!   We are always looking for other resturants, away from the “norm”.  It peaked my interest because of the extensive Scotch and Whiskey offerings they offered. I immediately knew Hubs would like this place.  

Haven in South Tampa is a different kind of dining.  Small plates, great offerings of meats and cheeses, a variety of cocktails and a huge variety of cocktails, wine, and spirits. #score 
   

We had a great seat because we were right in front of the huge TV for March Madness basketball! 

 We started off well!😉

  Hubs and I opted for red wine instead of scotch (next time, Haven…next time!).  A tasty Chilean Carmenere

 ….and a hand selected array of cheese and meats 

 Let me say…the funkier the cheese, the better.  And if you have the cheese coupled with the sampling next to it…oh my!!  The cheese in the forefront (the white),on the left, was cheese made with sheep’s milk. That was a first for me! It was like butter…like texture.  Our meats, Iberian ham, Hog head cheese (sounds gross but delightful) and Bison summer sausage. Double oh my!!!  And then…. 

 OLIVES!!!  My favorite…any which way you can give it to me!  They were pitted olives but who cares??? They were yummy!

The resturant has an array of small plates, very similar to tapas if you are familiar.  They don’t call themselves that type of resturant, but that’s the best comparison that I can give.  It’s typical that a part of our size have any where from 4-6 dishes for dinner. 

 From left to right: Malaysian pork ribs, Burrata & Cremer potatoes, Conchinita Pibil Tacos

  Lobster & Hog Jowl Fricasee and Lemon Thyme Gnocchi (with Crab)
  Skirt steak and Bone Marrow

For a complete menu description, check it out here.

I love the variety of foods and there were many things that I hadn’t had before!  I stepped out of my comfort zone during this meal!   The  seafood dishes were a real first for me, as I usually don’t like seafood.  The only thing I could not bring myself to ingest was the bone marrow.  I thought I could…ala Food Network style, but I couldn’t.  I’m thinking of it came to the table a different way or Hubs spread on the bread  before I saw it, I would have eaten it.  It’s smelled great! But I generally have a problem eating something that I am aware of the function in the body…like organ meats and such. 

We were so full, dessert was even an option! 

We had such a pleasurable evening during our night at Haven.  If you are ever in Tampa, FL, please add this to your list of places to eat.  

 👍The Leyva Stamp of Approval👍

Thanks for reading! Eat up!❤️

Any resturants you’ve tried lately you want to share? I’m all ears….!

962

Boy, weekends sure go fast! They go even faster when you are busy! I started the weekend off with a 5k organized and hosted by the Brandon Running Association.  Outside of the yearly Gasparilla run (in Tampa), this is the closest run I’ve done by my home! And when I mean close, I mean 2 minutes from my house!  This was the 35th Annual Shamrock Classic 10k/5k/1 mile Fun Run. You all know I am a lover of all things St. Patty’s  Day, so let’s do this!!! 🍀.  

 I’ve been meaning to this run but “life” hasn’t really allowed me to.  This year, the stars were aligned and I was able to get it on the race calendar. 

The racing conditions were perfect…68 degrees by start time. We started (and finished) at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Grill

 This place is special because it’s where I healed Hubs surprise 40th Birthday party (6 years ago!! 😂). I got my race bib..:.

 …and we were all off! The 5k was an easy, flat, straight shot course.  

 The 10k did the same course twice. 

Again I was star struck because I finally saw Amanda from Cupcakes and Miles! We were running and I thought I recognized her and so I just ran up and said “Hi!”.  This was unlike last Saturday when I saw Keira at a 5k in Winter Haven (FL) and totally flaked out! Amanda ran the 10k because she’s awesome! SN: if you aren’t following either one of their blogs, do yourself a favor…do it! We said we really needed to get together when we are racing locally so we can at minimum have a photo op and a chat!! Next time, Amanda!😉

I raced on Saturday with a heavy heart for a friend of mine.  She’s going through some tough times and I really just ran and thought and prayed.  I didn’t  focus on my pace or time;didn’t focus on the course; I just was some place different mentally. I have to say, I need to run like this more often.  Focusing on something else, someone else instead of my selfish me! I was blessed with a PR this race…43 seconds faster than last Saturday! I’ve been “preaching” about just enjoying the run and the process of getting back and it truly happens.  I wouldn’t want to have to have my friend go through what she is going through, but obviously when you just place your focus elsewhere, you can be successful!  I even feel selfish being happy that I PR’d!

 I placed 6th in my AG, which made me happy. Of course I have no idea how many where in my AG (probably 6!),but I was happy to be there. It also means that I can place somewhere, maybe even higher next time! #psyched

  The post race fare was great…the usuals (bananas, pretzels, bagels, PB) and hot food (pasta!!).  Then of course….beer!  I didn’t partake this time because Hubs and I had a date and I had to get going. Next time, BRA!  It was a great race and I am excited to participate in another BRA race. They have a 5k in December to add to my list. 

How was your weekend? Any PRs?

Erin Go Run

Yesterday was my favorite holiday of the year….St.Patrick’s Day!🍀. I’m quite sure it all stemmed from my first of two trips to Ireland.  I worked for my Dad one summer and one of the perks was a work trip to the Emerald Isle.  Man….that was love at first site!! Erin go Bragh!

I was lucky enough to return about 10 years later with my sister. Man…the stories I can tell! But I gotta keep it clean…😂 

   Mo and I at the Cliff of Moher

So, I proudly wear my green and celebrate being #Blirish (you know…Black and Irish!!!).   

 I was able to get home and run while the sun was still out (Thanks you, Daylight Savings!).  Hubby was in the kitchen cooking some Irish fare.  I was greeted with a liquid libation of Hibernian proportions.  

 Jameson Whiskey Ginger

  • Jameson Whiskey
  • Splash of Ginger Ale
  • 1/2 of fresh squeezed lime

#helloGORGEOUS.  I really was cheating on my usual..Absolut on the rocks with two lime…but for the occasion,it was totally worth it! Sláinte!!

A few sips and out the door I went… 

 ….for a good 2.6 mile run.  It was nice! 

I was greet upon my return with a great meal 

 Shepard’s Pie (with Ground Chicken)

  Corned Beef and Cabbage

I usually make my Guinness Dark Chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Cream Cheese frosting…but I couldn’t swing it this year! #damn

All and all, it was a great day!  I got to celebrate my day with a great run! 

How was your St. Patty’s Day?? 

Do you guys get a shirt every year like me? 

 This one is one of my favs! The kids got new shirts but I didn’t find one for myself! This oldie, but goodie served it its place! #fail

13

  How’s that for a number?  There are a few things I may be superstitious about, and this would be one! #13? Really?  I will wear the number with pride….and secretly hope I don’t cross a black cat, walk under a ladder, break a mirror, or spill some salt! 😂#issues

Today was the Law Enforcement Torch Run 5k hosted by The Winter Haven Police Department.  I’ve wanted to participate in this run for some time, but scheduling always got in the way.  This run benefits Special Olympics.  My friend Leslie and I decided this was our year! 

Me, Donald (Leslie’s son), and Leslie

It was a beautiful morning to run, from a weather stand point. But as an allergy sufferer, NOPE! Pollen was in full effect this morning and I forgot my Benadryl! #damn

The race started at the public library  

 and went around Lake Silver.. 

 This is an old photo but this lake is beautiful, day and dusk!  And the end of the race looped around Central Park 

Source: Google

  
It was a great race for a few reasons…

  1. GREAT cause!  
  2. GREAT community support! Teachers, Parents, and Students from the boy’s school, St.Joseph Catholic School.
  3. I spotted one of my favorite WordPress bloggers,Keira, but I was too afraid to go over and say “Hi” for fear of her thinking I was crazy or something!
  4. Leslie and I PR’d this baby!! Yep…we sure did! I saw a number today, that I hadn’t seen in a while!! I’m so excited and inspired to keep on pushing! #enjoyingtheprocess 

What a great way to end this week!  Oh, and get this…my oldest, Julian, turned 15 on Thursday (March 10th)!!! What???? 

 WHEN did that happen??? And apparently the right of passage includes a cell phone AND a learner’s permit.  Not in my house!!!😂😂😂.  How ’bout we just get you some clothes and some Yeti gear! Yeah…that’ll work a lot better!!!

How has your Saturday been?

Who RUNS the World???

Thanks, Queen B for that anthem!  Happy International Women’s Day!  I like a day when we are celebrated…for out likes and dislikes; our opinions and objections; our strength and weaknesses. The beauty of being a woman is the choice  we have to be what we want in this world and how we can make a difference.  There are many women to inspire us with their words, their actions and their convictions. Here’s a few that I like… 

 As cheesy as this may be, she was/is my girl!  She was the first real mainstream female superhero and made all us little girls that we could get respect, be beautiful and kick some serious a**! I wanted to be her…and truth be told…still do!!😂 

  What’s not to love about FLOTUS Michelle Obama. I really don’t care what your politics are, she is an inspiring and intelligent woman. She had a career and a voice before taking on the FLOTUS role.  Her voice and involvement with children’s health today has helped pave the way for changes in our schools and at home.  I am excited to see what she does once out of the official limelight!

  You may not recognize her from this picture because generally what you see is her iconic movie star picture.  I love Audrey Hepburn because of the style and class that she portrayed on the silver screen. But her work and philanthropy outside of tinsel town is what makes her a superstar!!! 
  My sister, Mo is literally amazing. An attorney, a wife and a mom to 4 amazing kiddos that get to call me “Auntie Ang”.  She may feel crazy sometimes (don’t we all??) but she does it with grace and style!   

 Then there’s this lady right here…my mom!  Mother of 2; Grandmother of 6; multiple college degrees and the reason why my sister and I are who we are today. This is a perfect day to celebrate Moms and not only Mother’s Day. ❤️

I could go on and on, but you’d be bored! Make sure you celebrate YOU too!!  

 
Do you have some strong ladies you like to share about?  

 #boom

Surprise……

Guess what I did this weekend?? No…not a half marathon! No…not a 70.3! No….not even a 5k! I.went.CAMPING!!! Wha???? That’s right….camping! My youngest Aidan is a scout and this was the required camping necessary for the Bear badge. When I found out, I thought “Perfect thing for Dad (Hubs to me) and older son (Julian or J to me) to do together.”.  Right?? Already I had a day planned out for myself…nails…toes…lounging on the couch watching what I want to watch!! But…no…Aidan says to me “Mommy, you went with Julian when he was in scouts.” Well…just stab me in the heart, why don’t ya????  Well, great!!! I’ve decided to go..

Saturday (i.e. The Day of camping), Aidan was in the District competition for the Pinewood Derby 

 …and guess who placed third in the District? #thisguy

After that…it was back to the camp site for ourdoor fun (or at least that’s what i was told!). Just to give you an idea of what kind of camper I AM

 ….my LV was with me! 😂. But in my defense I was some place else prior to the tenting and I honestly didn’t think of changing my purse when we left home! #oops

Just to give you an idea of my private little hell..err…abode ….

 …I had a lot of head space because it was 6′

   ….This thing slept 8, even though we are 4
 …..and a little lamp to light my way if I needed to at night! Yeah…right!!

My likes: my kids had a BLAST!   

He was on the Red Team (meaning he cooked breakfast in the morning!)

 Aidan learned how to use a pocket knife (badge requirement) and he got to do it with his Dad (aka Hubs)

   Most importantly, much to my chagrin for the outdoor sleeping, I was making memories with my family! #winning

My dislikes: Ummm…:sleeping outside (aka in a tent) wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. We didn’t bring our air mattresses, so it was floor all.night.LONG!  The freaking rooster that started his “cock-a-doodle-do” sh*t at 2:30am, and every hour on the hour…yeah…I could have done without! Let’s just say, we all had a taste for chicken from breakfast!!!  I wanted to press the freaking “snooze” button on that rooster!! Kudos to all of you farmers out there because it is obvious now how and why you get sh*t DONE!!

Basically, I would go again, if my kids asked me too, but I’d have to prep myself again for outdoor sleeping.  As I told my friend “it wasn’t as bad as I thought, I just wouldn’t rush to do it again”.😂

How was your weekend???