Monthly Archives: June 2011

Eating off the Resort

As much as I like relaxing, I’m a bigger fan of doing things on vacation. By our third day there, I was itching to get off the resort so we took a collectivo (a random van that stops on the side of the highway and takes people down the road for $2 each. Sorta sketch but it worked.) to the actual town of Akumal and explored. The food on the resort wasn’t too great so I was happy to find a restaurant in Akumal called Turtle Bay that had a lot of vegetarian options.

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If you know me, you know that I love hummus, so obviously we had to try the Mexican variety. Umm, not so great. Nor was my vegetarian sandwich. The bread was sort of stale and there were too many beets in it. Oh well, just the fact that you could actually get food like this in this sleepy little village made me happy. After lunch, we walked to the beach and then took a taxi back to the resort.

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The following day, we took a trip to the nearest city: Playa Del Carmen. Playa is famous (maybe, or maybe I made that up) for it’s 5th Avenue, a street with tons of shops.

It was cool but every single shop had guys saying, “Hey Lady, come look at my silver.” or, “Hey Man, you want to buy a Cuban cigar?” and even, “No cigar, how about some weed?” It was very annoying. I probably would have bought something if the sales people weren’t breathing down our necks so badly. Although, some things were not authentic. Want proof? Amidst the rows of Mexican agave nectar, look what I found:

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Still, it was good to walk around and we spent some time on the beach before finding a good dinner spot.

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Jason spotted a restaurant called 100% Natural which was 100% up my alley. Obviously, we had to try it out. We started out with some ceviche. I did eat a bit of seafood on this trip.

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I ordered some sort of tofu taco for my entree. Like Turtle Bay, this was just okay. Jason liked his chicken fajitas (apparently Mexico signaled the end of his vegetarianism), but my tofu was seasoned weirdly.

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Still, it was better than the food on the resort so I was happy. Our shuttle came to take us back around 9, so we bid adieu (why did I just randomly say something in French? I don’t speak a word of it and I’m talking about Mexico) to Playa and got ready to go to sleep for our rappelling and zip-lining excursion the next morning.

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Akumal, MX

I came home to a dead car battery (Jason’s, not mine), no food in the house, tummy troubles from eating California Pizza Kitchen in the Cancun airport and ants in the kitchen.

But despite all that, it’s good to be home. By the last day or two of our trip, we were both ready to get back to our normal lives. Now if only our normal lives didn’t contain that thing called work, right? Although, then I guess I couldn’t afford to go on vacation at all.

The last time I went on a big vacation, I brought my computer and blogged every day. While that was a great way to remember the trip, it just didn’t work fort this trip. Our hotel had free wifi but it was only in the lobby and it was sort of a pain to get there with the computer. (We did end up bringing it.) So I’ll just share some of the highlights.

We stayed at Gran Bahia Principe – which was located in Akumal, a sleepy little town known for their sea turtles, about 60 miles south of Cancun.

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The resort was huge. It was more like a small campus. There were actually three different resorts in the complex – Akumal, Tulum and Coba. We were in Coba which was rated highest on trip advisor. I’m not sure why; I think it might have been the newest out of the three.

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Our room was the typical resort suite – a king sized bed, big bathroom and little sitting area.

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The first couple of days were spent either by the pool or by the beach.

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Coba had two pools – both of which were right by our room. One was called the activity pool and was bigger, with water sports and music. The other one was quieter. Both had bars in the pool. I preferred the quiet pool, but enjoyed both of them.

The beach was a little farther away. The Akumal and Tulum sections of the resort were on the beach, but Coba was not. It was about a 10 minute walk, or there was a tram that came around and took you.

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After two days of pure relaxation, we were getting a bit antsy (at least I was) and wanted to leave the resort. I’ll leave our excursions for the next post.

I hope everyone enjoyed the guest posts! Thanks again to those who provided me with one. I loved reading them!

Guest Post – Coupons & Healthy Living

I’m excited to be here guest posting on In My Tummy. Lee’s giving me the chance to talk to you about couponing today. Who doesn’t like saving a little money, right?

I used to think that coupons were great, if you wanted to save $.55 on a box of Toaster Strudel or $.30 on a can of Hormel Chili. Big whoop.

But coupons and healthy living are not mutually exclusive. You can eat well and still save big at the same time.

Step 1: Know your store’s coupon policies.

If you live in the southeast, Publix and Kroger are probably the most prevalent chains in your area. The majority of Targets and Walmarts are of the “super” variety as well, meaning they basically contain a full grocery store with fresh produce, meat and bakery items.

Points to know:
All these stores accept manufacturer coupons.
• Publix and Kroger will automatically double manufacturer coupons < $.50 in face value.
• Publix, Kroger and Super Target also issue their own store coupons (on their websites & in-store)
• They will allow you to combine one store coupon with one manufacturer coupon per item.
• Publix (at least in the ATL metro) will also accept competitors' store coupons (e.g. Super Target & Kroger)

Publix and Kroger run Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) sales on a long list of items each week. You don't have to buy 2. This just means each item will ring up as 50% off at the register. Combine a BOGO item (50% off) with a manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon; now you're talking big savings.

(Note: If you live in Florida, BOGO is just that. The first item rings up at full price, the second one rings up as free…whether you actually take it or not. So your out of pocket totals will always be a little higher.)

Use drug stores deals to nab toiletries and diapers for free to close to free. Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens will combine store coupons and manufacturer coupons as well. They also issue register rewards (“Up Rewards” at Rite Aid, “Extra Care Bucks” at CVS, “Register Rewards” at Walgreens) when you purchases certain items each week. These “rewards” print out on your receipt at act like gift cards that you can use towards anything on your next purchase. Pay in separate transactions at the register to “roll” these rebates towards the next items, and walk away spending very little out of pocket.

Be sure to sign up for your store’s member loyalty cards, and scan them every time you check-out to get the advertised discounts.

Saving Star is a new website that offers e-coupons that you can use in conjunction with paper coupons. Register your store loyalty cards on their website, then select your e-coupons. Every time you swipe your store loyalty cards at the checkout, the e-coupon savings are added to your online Saving Star account. Once you have at least $5 in savings, you can select your payout, either a direct deposit to your bank account or Paypal account, or an Amazon gift card.

Step 2: Know where to find coupons.

I always buy two Sunday newspapers, so when I find good deals, I can get at least two of them. If you see coupons coming out for an item, you can be assured that it will be going on sale within the next few weeks. Hold on to your coupons for when the item goes on sale to get rock-bottom price. But there are many more resources for coupons than just the newspaper. Knowing where to find coupons for the things you like to buy is key. You’re not likely to find coupons for organic products in your Sunday newspapers. You can almost always get coupons by going directly to the company’s website or Facebook page. Some of my favorite organic sites include:

www.stonyfieldfarms.com
www.cascadianfarms.com
www.horizondairies.com
www.mambosprouts.com

My go-to sites to get manufacturer coupons on everything else are:

www.coupons.com
www.smartsource.com
www.redplum.com
www.allyou.com
www.cellfire.com
www.shortcuts.com

Step 3: Let other people do the work for you.

Subscribe to couponing and deal spotting blogs. They will constantly update you on new coupons that are available and how to pair them with weekly sales.

Helpful sites:

Money Saving Mom
Passionate Penny Pincher
Southern Savers
Saving Money Living Life

There are many more tips and nuances to couponing. The Coupon Mom’s Book is a comprehensive place to get started. Also do a Google search to find couponing workshops in your area.

I’ve seen my monthly “stuff” bill (grocery/toiletry/diapers/cleaning products, etc) go from over $600 to $325 a month since I started couponing seriously. No more buying generics and shopping exclusively at Wally World. It’s all name brand stuff from regular stores now.

And don’t forget, churches, food pantries and other charity organizations can always use donations. Toiletries, non perishables and baking items can easily be gotten for free or close to free with sales and coupons.

Now go forth and save. And stop by Atlanta Running Mom to say hi!

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