Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ultimate Wedding Contest

I would like to take a tiny tiny moment to talk about registries, especially because I was very against them in the beginning (I actually still am, but, I'm getting to that). I believe that having a registry is like saying "Only come to my wedding if you're going to buy me something, and even if you don't come to my wedding, you should still buy me something, because I was nice enough to invite you." You always have to end your bridal shower invites with "The bride/couple is registered here, here, and here" or include it in your website reminding everyone that 'hello, you need to buy them something!'

Maybe the problem is that I see it as being spoiled, but I do recognize also that it's customary and a really kind gesture from friends and family to want to shower you with gifts to express their love. I, however, get really stressed when it comes to registry stuff because I'm like "how the hell does this work??" I hate it when people just say "Oh she's registered at Bath and Body Works."

Wha--??? What's that got to do with me?! What do I do now?? It's stressful to me and I also don't like having to pick from a list of things what to get someone.

HOWEVER! I firmly recognize that if there weren't registries, all your loving family members that don't want to give you impersonal cash will end up getting you a whole bunch of toasters, blenders, and table cloths if they don't have a list of stuff to choose from. So I went ahead and made a stereotypical registry at Crate and Barrel just because there's also a $100,000 contest that goes along with it:

Hey! Lookie who's the third entry on the list! If anyone is interested (and I can promise that if I win, I'll get everyone some ridiculously overpriced Crate and Barrel items) head on over to Crate and Barrel's contest page and vote for us!

$200 dining room chairs! That's all I have to say about that! We're also considering other registry options because what we really need to start our life together is big money for house payments, new furniture, and future babies! What's the point of getting a mess of blenders and toasters if you're stuck in the same small crappy townhouse that's overflowing with stuff as it is?!

Enter Deposit-a-gift!

It's a registry you set up by just entering in what you want: A house, new furniture, a honeymoon, a new car, and entering the value. Your family and friends then deposit money into your deposit-a-gift account and they can pick what they want the money to go towards. But the great thing is, in the end, it's still cash, cold hard cash, but your family and friends can feel like they're contributing to something that you really want; something that actually has meaning; something that you actually have real use for. And to make it even better, every time we walk into our new home, we'll remember all the loved ones who helped us get there as opposed to how we'll feel about the third toaster we received collecting dust in the basement or worse; given away/sold. (Bonus! You can use it for baby showers, bridal showers, graduations, ANYTHING!)

In the end, I'm still opposed to registries, but I do accept that it's an honor and not being spoiled or rude to accept gifts from family and loved ones... but please, no toasters or blenders!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And then it was gone

I put my wonderful but just not right wedding gown up on's classifieds site 5 days ago. I recognize that these things take time BUT I was getting nervous. See, I put the dress on weddingbee because it's a harmless, training wheels classifieds place. Not too serious, just wanted to put it out there, see if there were any nibbles. More serious sites like is a for serious wedding gown classifieds site. I mean, all they do is sell wedding dresses... it's completely dedicated to unloading your wedding gown. There's also a $25 fee to put your wedding dress up there, that's serious!

Well, as I said, I was getting nervous that no one seemed to be interested, so I went ahead and put the dress up on's classifieds site. It's also a blog that happens to have a classifieds tab. Still not too serious, but a little more... business, they actually ask for the dress info, size, measurements, etc... Yeah, I put the dress up there yesterday. I got an e-mail this morning from a woman in California... she was willing to pay my asking price as long as she gets free shipping. I said OK, and gave her my PayPal info. SHE SENT ME THE MONEY THIS AFTERNOON! I figure it'll take her a few days to figure out the money or figure out her feelings. Nope, that girl got me paid!

I lost $87 from PayPal fees, but I consider it the dumba$$ tax for buying a dress and not being ready to buy it. I know that it kind of seems like $87 could have been used for a DIY project or something, but then I say 'Oh yeah! The dress I'm getting instead saves me $1800!' That's the difference between a great cake and Betty Crocker box cake, the difference between a great bouquet and some weeds I pick from my parents' yard, the difference between a $200/night honeymoon and a $400/night honeymoon resort (especially because it's Kyle's money!)!!!

All of a sudden, I have to ship a dress! That's awesome! And this weight is now off my shoulders. I'm short $87 BUT I'm back to square one, no longer in debt with a dress that wasn't right for me. *Sigh* It just feels  like a relief. I've never been so happy to be right back where I started!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foder's Travel Guide: Costa Rica

Now, it's already 9 PM and I'm just now starting this post... It's not smart, but if I don't do it now, I'll be doing this all day tomorrow at work instead of working. So without further dudes (Family Guy), here's my guide to Costa Rica hotels!

First of all, almost, if not all of the hotels I am skimming over are villa- or bungalow-style hotels with individual buildings for ultimate romanticism and privacy. This is not because I'm some sort of snob, but I had no idea these types of places existed and I had no idea there was so many of them in Costa Rica AND I had no idea they were so affordable... for real.

Here's a very helpful map of Costa Rica with all the important regions outlined:
This map is from a website for one of the hotels... can you tell which one? But anyway, the main areas I'm going to touch on (aka the ones where I found the best hotels) are Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Alajuela, with a few outliers in a couple other regions.

First, in Guanacaste, is the Hilton Papagayo. I know, a Hilton, but it's a Hilton with separate little buildings. I don't have any pictures since it looks exactly like every other Hilton, but here's a map!

I know this is a ridiculous and difficult to read map, but it's just to show all the different bungalows!

Also, this is the first Costa Rican resort I'd found so far that's all-inclusive, I didn't even know Costa Rica had all-inclusive resorts!

Next up is Capitan Suizo, little bungalows that have built in hot tubs!

Not so fancy but still private and isolated. I don't remember at this point... because I've been looking at soooo many, but I think this one was also well-priced. Once we narrow this down some, I'll do a more thorough analysis of price, amenities, etc...

Anyway, moving on, next is Hotel Punta Islita:

Also not particularly captivating, but with hammocks, hot tubs, nice porch, great ocean view, and a good price tag!

Moving right along, next is Anamaya Resort and Retreat Center:

This one has a great selection of casitas and cabinas, I love all the windows, the great views, and the outdoor hot tub. This is another well-priced place, but still not as fancy and boutique-y as some of the ones coming up.

Next up is another all-inclusive resort, Recreo:

I love how it's round. I love the floor to ceiling windows, I love the jacuzzi outside, and I love the bathroom. This place is really well-priced for all the inclusions.

Well, it's hard to believe but we're already done with Guanacaste! These are all a bit easier to get to because the Libera Airport is in Guanacaste, where as the San Jose airport is in, you guessed it, San Jose, in the middle of the country.

I'm going to move next to Puntarenas because it's the other Pacific coast region of Costa Rica. Puntarenas is home to our current favorite; Oxygen Jungle Villas!

*Sigh* Compared to all the others, it's just so much more luxurious. I guess the appeal is that as much as we like the jungle scenery, we aren't crocodile dundees, I need to know we're not roughing it, because I'm no toughy, if I see a spider in the room, I'm gonna' freak out... I know what you're thinking, maybe she shouldn't go to Costa Rica. Shut up, I'll be fine. I'm just trying to justify why I want to stay in a fancy boutique villa :)

Puntarenas has lots of other great hotels to offer, like Flor Blanca:

With outdoor hot tub and living room!

Red Palm Villas:

I think though that I've already eliminated this one because it's too expensive for what it is; even though it's really nice, it's not nice enough for the price.

This place however, is more than nice enough for it's really really great price; Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat:

Wow, was what I said when I first saw it. You can say wow too. Well-priced, outdoor hot tub, open air living room. One of my new favorites! HOWEVER, it turns out it's even harder to get to than Oxygen, or at least it takes a lot longer... based on initial observations. Jury's still out.

Lapa Rios is another all-inclusive:

Not the best one so far, but still, all-inclusive is great, and I love the open air aspect. Worth considering for now.

Next is my personal, but most indulgent (expensive) favorite; Rancho Pacifico:

I could keep going and going, this search would be over if not for the price, which is much higher than Oxygen :-( HOWEVER it's still not as high as the hotels in other parts of the world, like Hawaii. This retreat has everything that I loved about Oxygen but also with everything I wish Oxygen had, like infinity hot tubs! Didn't even know I wanted that! Well, for now, let's move on.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge:

Open air, nestled in the jungle... well-priced.

Buena Vista Luxury Villas:

Another great luxurious option. Not as special as Oxygen or Rancho Pacifico, but definitely fancy and new. This is another kind of expensive option.

Latitude 10:

Yet another great open air villa. Didn't get much info though on the website but another great, well-priced option!

Next up, (almost there) another fantastic hidden gem; Casa Chameleon:

Complete with open air living area and bedroom, and your very own infinity pool! Check it out, I can roll right out of that hammock into my own pool!

Finally, the last great gem in Puntarenas is Moana Lodge:

Another really, really well-priced option with a great hot tub and a nice openness, and a cool safari feel.

Well, I can't stop now, we're more than half way! Next is a single option on the Caribbean coast, in the Limon region, called Shawandha Lodge:

This is another example of the more restic resorts that make you feel like you're in a hut in the jungle. It's also very cheap but the bathroom's a bit kitchy though. But the island of Tortuga is off the coast... Maybe I'll be able to visit Jack Sparrow :D

We're now moving inland, I was surprised at how many great resorts were inland, most are in the middle of great nature reserves or at the base of active volcanoes! In the San Jose area (that would be really easy to get to...) there's Monte Azul:

This one's more minimalist because it's some sort of art retreat center. It doesn't have a lot of luxuries, but it's clean and new and inexpensive, just a cool option to consider.

The last region we're going to look at is Alajuela, which sounds cool to say. There are volcanoes jungles, lots of great scenery, but no beaches, which isn't a huge deal, but worth mentioning. First up is El Silencio Lodge:

Even though it's in the mountains, and there's no ocean views, it's still a really luxurious option with a lot of amenities for a great price! If we decide to stay inland, I think this is a front runner.

Next up is Tenorio Lodge:

This one I had to put up here because it's like the inland equivalent of Oxygen Jungle Villas. The only problem is that everyone shares the two jacuzzis... Yeah, pretty sure Kyle's not going to go for that, but like I said, it looks a lot like Oxygen Jungle Villas but with a volcano in the background!

I already showed you Arenal Nayara Hotel and Gardens:

Spectacular bathrooms, open air spas, and a hot tub on each villa porch. Warm and inviting and again, with a great view of the volcano, and a good price tag to boot.

Next up, Hotel Mountain Paradise:

Very cool looking bedrooms, but on the whole, there aren't many windows, it's not as open as the other resorts. It feels more like a hotel.

Lastly (!!) I've saved the most stereotypical treehouse resort for last; Hidden Canopy Treehouses Boutique Hotel:

Not as "new" or modern, but still really nice and romantic, great-priced little treehouses and they still have hot tubs! There's also the great sun roof and the floor to ceiling windows.

So, that post only took 4 hours, it's time for me to go to bed! My computer is crawling with all these pictures. I hope that it's not too much info for anyone, I mean, if you never intend to go to Costa Rica, just ignore it! If you have any advice though, or if you are planning on visiting Costa Rica, and you've made it this far, well then Thanks! I found all these hotels on TripAdvisor. And now Kyle and I can finally go through and narrow it down. I'll be back next with more details, prices, inclusions, travel details, etc...

Next up...: We. make. a. decision!!!!! Hopefully...