All posts by Desiwood

Shoes for travel

I love shoes!  I have always had too many!  I can’t help myself.  With the long distance move hubby and I did almost a year ago, I got rid of many of my old shoes.  Hubby started buying me many new pair once we got settled in our new home.  I have one major piece of advice on the topic…..DON’T buy CHEAP shoes!!!!!!  On the other hand, there are always shoes on sale.  I tend to buy very expensive shoes on sale.  Sometimes I by lesser prices shoes, but there is a comfort or quality reason for this.

I just got back from a more than 2 week and less than 3 vacation in the Baltics in Europe.  Hubby and I took a separate suitcase for our shoes.  This is not unusual for us.  His shoes are very heavy because he is a big size (14 US) and he buys quality also.  Our shoes add a lot of weight to our baggage.  Whether you are travelling or at home, reward your feet with quality shoes.  Your feet, back, and neck will appreciate it.  They also last a lot longer than cheap shoes!  You can build a comprehensive shoe stock that can last for decades, if you buy “good” shoes.

Travelling and life require both no heels and high heels, if you want to be fashionable and comfortable.  In the past I erred on the side of high heels.  I liked the way I looked and my outfit looked.  Also, hubby is a foot taller then I am.  We looked better together when I was taller.  I’ve abandoned that recently, but not without some problems.  It turns out that one of my legs is slightly longer than the other.  In high heels, the heels wore down to adjust to the same height.  Without heels, there is not adjustment and it gives me pain problems.

I post today front and side views of the shoes I took on our most recent vacation that ended a few days ago.  Some cost over $1,000 a pair and some cost less than $50 a pair.  Those are full retail prices.  I never pay full retail.  There are too many sales out there.  Can you tell which are the expensive ones and which are the  more affordable ones?

In a future update to this post,  I will tell you which brands these shoes are, the retail cost, and the sale costs.



The Tesla Experience

I have been very “bad” in not attending to this website.  I have over 62,000 unchecked comments.  They are mostly spam and trash.  Tonight, however, I post about the Tesla experience.

Hubby’s brother took out two deposits on the Tesla 3 back in March 2017 or was it earlier?  He was a previous/current owner of 2 Tesla vehicles…both model S.  Over time we discussed it, and I wanted the Tesla 3.  I wanted to be more green.  I wanted an electric vehicle.  We sold our home in NJ, which we had converted to solar and moved to Florida.  Guess what?  You can’t really have solar in Florida.   Thinking of the Tesla 3, we sold one of our vehicles before moving.  We have a 2nd vehicle available to us 24/7 because of family and love our other hard top convertible.

Finally, earlier this year we received an email that our Tesla 3 was ready.  Nope.  It was only the fully loaded one in Black.  We live in Florida.  I don’t want a black car.  We deferred.  We have again received an email that we have to choose our options in the next couple of weeks and that our Tesla 3 will be ready for delivery to us.

Finding a Tesla 3 to actually sit in is not easy.  Most that have been produced are delivered to customers and you will find few on any traditional show room.  Hubby is 6’6″, so it was important to us to make sure it was roomy enough.  Hubby’s bro went to a Chicago showroom to check it out.  Yep.  It is big enough.  We then went to Miami to check it out.  Yep, it is big enough.

I love this car!  On the other hand, getting specific info from in store Tesla personnel is tough.  All outside colors, other than black costs $1,000 extra.  No problema here.  I don’t want a black car.  Here are the colors we found.  I know, they are hard to figure out.  There is black shiny, black matt, really dark gray, really dark blue, light silver, white, and red.  I was leaning towards red, but hubby said “no”.  We will go with the light silver.  Much more to come.  Hope you enjoy our journey.  The interior color is still up in the air.  I’ll share photos of the actual vehicles next.  You know I posed with them.  Great car.  Great price.

“My” iguana is back home, so I booked another visit to our 2nd home

Hubby and I moved full time to Florida this past June.  We have had a huge iguana, as well as some smaller ones, living in our backyard.  We live on a small lake and “our” iguana loves sunning himself in the backyard and in the crook of one of our trees.  He is a shy one.  I have heard stories from others living in Florida that they can be aggressive.  Ours is not.  He runs away if we approach.  It is hard to believe how fast he can run if we approach.

We were traveling in December and January.  While we were away, my Mom told me that she had seen in the news in New York that the Florida weather was so unusually cold that the iguanas were falling out of the trees from it and not surviving.  Since we were away, we did not know.  We returned to our Florida home and, much  to my surprise, there were no iguanas around.  Finally last week, “our” iguana came back.  No, I don’t know if it is the same one.  It is just as large as the one that has always “lived” here.  “He” is back to his usual sunbathing in our backyard and lounging in our tree overlooking the lake.

Now that he is back, I booked our next trip to our “2nd home”.  Our primary residence may have changed in the last year, but our favorite 2nd home did not.  We are returning to Majestic Mirage in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for my birthday in August.  We will also celebrate our wedding anniversary while there, which is in September.  I post one video today, to show you why we had to return to Majestic Mirage.  It is of our suite there in November.  I have wanted to post it for awhile, but was hesitant.  The suite is gorgeous.  I had already been there for a few days and was looking bloated in my bathing suit.  Hubby was having a hand tremor while shooting the video.  It’s not the best video, but it was as tremendous an ocean front suite as you could ask for!  We had to go back as soon as possible.  We are also hoping to go back again for New Years.

We were spoiled in some ways living in New Jersey.  We had air available from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  They were all major carriers and set their schedules far in advance.  Where we are living in Florida, the best priced air does not set very far in advance.    We are used to planning multiple trips a year or more in advance.   That is not possible here because of the air schedules.  We will get used to it.  Every market and every trip are different.  Know  your market and plan accordingly.

For this trip we are traveling Southwest again.  Their prices are hard to beat with two bags free plus carryon and personal item.  We again booked the resort and private transfers through Costco.  For the last many years their prices were better than anywhere else.

Between now and then, we will be on another adventure to northern Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltics, and Russia by both air, land and sea.  That trip is not a bargain, but will be great.  The anatomy of booking any vacation is always different and serves different needs.

I hope you enjoy the video.  I wish it was better to show off how gorgeous this suite and resort is/was/will be again.

Making the Chocolate Cigar and Frozen Mojito at Majestic Mirage

I recently posted a video of me eating the chocolate cigar and drinking the Frozen Mojito when I was at Majestic Mirage in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Thanksgiving Day.  I promised I would post a video of how the two are made.  I am doing so today.  This video was taken earlier in the day, the same day I had mine after dinner.  This was a perfect ending to a great dinner.  No pumpkin pie for me.  I actually don’t like pumpkin pie.  I have no idea why not.  I love pumpkin soup, another dish I was exposed to in the Dominican Republic.

The videographer was my hubby.  He did a pretty good job and only wobbled a little bit, with a quick recovery.  It’s not easy holding a small camera for so long.  You will hear me commenting and laughing next to the camera, but the focus was on the food preparation.   The gentleman providing the explanations is the General Manager at Majestic Mirage, Jose-maria Gutierrez.  He was speaking to us in English, to another couple in French, and to the chefs in Spanish.  He is an amazing man with a passion and strong background in fine food and beverages.  He is hoping to have a weekly cooking workshop at Mirage later this year on its own internet video channel.  I hope so.

If you want to see me enjoying the final product, just view my previous blog post here entitled “Best Cigar Ever”.  If you have any questions about these two delightfully delicious items, post them to comments here.  No comment gets posted until I approve it.  I will gladly answer questions.  I’m a little slow because of the huge backlog of comments.  Right now I have over 42,000 of them, but I am working on reducing that.  Many take up my time that are spam or trash and I have to go through them.

Enjoy the video!  I enjoyed being there and consuming.  I have to admit, it was a very fun-filled day on this topic.  After the presentation, they served us all the items and then I had them again for dessert after dinner.  YUM!!!!

Because of the length of the video, I had to upload it to YouTube.  Here’s the link.



Best cigar ever, and you don’t smoke it!

Did I get your attention?  Are you wondering what I could possibly be talking about?  It’s edible!  It’s not a real cigar.

After the hurricane at home in Florida in September, with house guests who had to relocate with us and then company from New Jersey in October into November, we finally got away to our home away from home in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  We’ve been going to Majestic Resorts there for about a decade.  A new one opened about a year ago.  All our moving and other family issues prevented us from getting there until one of our usual times, Thanksgiving.  The new one, Majestic Mirage, exceeded even our expectations.  It is all suites and all-inclusive.  It has a very high end Mediterranean feel.  The beach is beautiful and filled with palapas and Balinese Beds.  The resort itself is not big, but not too tiny.  There are so many open spaces.  There is butler service, but every staff member treats you wonderfully.  I could go on and on about it.  The best thing is that it is affordable!

Today, though, I am posting one short video of the end of my Thanksgiving meal.  It was in their “French” restaurant.  It looks like a cigar, but oh so much better.  The wrapper is chocolate.  The inside is cream filled with a slight taste of cigar smoke.  It is served in a glass ashtray.  What looks like cigar ashes in the “ash end” is sugar!  When I say this was delicious, I am understating it.

We were lucky enough to get a kitchen tour and see a demonstration of how these are made.  I will do a separate post of that.  It is a bit long.  I give you the short version here of me enjoying it.

It is served with a specially made mojito.  This is also shown on the upcoming video of how both are made.  What a great Thanksgiving dinner we had from beginning to end.  We are trying to decide whether to go back for Thanksgiving next year, as we usually do, or change it up and go for Christmas and New Years.  It’s a tough choice.

In case any of you fashionistas are wondering, the outfit I am wearing is a Halston.  It was new for this trip.  Hubby saw it on-line on sale and I had to have it.  It’s all his fault for finding it.  haha  I am a huge fan of on-line shopping, as long as you know what you are getting and how it will fit you.  This was certainly not a “cheap” item, but the price was great compared to in a fancy retail store.  It was ordered through the on-line site of a high end store:  Neiman Marcus.


Best coach international flight ever!

Once in awhile one gets very lucky with air travel.  It seems less and less a happening these days, but there are so many internet tools out there that with good research and some patience, you can find that deal a good amount of the time.  It gets more complicated with international air.  It gets even trickier with first class air.

The only true secret to decent first class international air is a good mileage/loyalty program.  For about a decade hubby and I have been flying from New Jersey to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Almost every one of those flights was first class.  We flew out of both Newark, NJ and Philadelphia, Pa.  There were a very few flights when we flew coach, only because the price was sooooo cheap we could not resist.

We recently moved to southeastern Florida.  I booked our next trip to Punta Cana before we had even moved.  It was over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hubby and I agreed that the international flight was so short, 1st class wasn’t really necessary.  I came across a BARGAIN on Southwest.  It happens.  That is not the best part of this story.

First:  when booking a well-known trip, I know that air and resorts often go on sale at different times.  The resort dates are not that important, within a given range.  The air can vary dramatically.  Package deals usually offer the worst flights and I almost always book them separately.  There are, unfortunately, some places where you are a captive of the airline and have no choice but to book a package.  Luckily for me, that has never been a problem.

What made this air trip so exceptional, you might ask.  It was on Southwest, so you do not get to choose your seats in advance.  On our return from Punta Cana, there were only 6 people on the entire jet!  It was like flying on a private jet.  I forced hubby to take video……of me and the interior of the jet.  Yes, it was a fluke.  The surprising thing was that the plane down to PC was 100% full.  No one was going home that day.  Good for us.


Thanksgiving at Majestic (Mirage) Beach

Anyone want to see what I was doing on Thanksgiving? I’ll show you. We just got home from our most recent visit to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I will share some more of the videos and photos we took along the way.

We stayed this time at Majestic Mirage. It did not disappoint. On this particular day, the water was a little rougher than usual, but not as rough as is standard the further north you go along the coast. Within a day or two of this video, the waves were calmer, there was not the sand being churned up at the water line, and the seaweed disappeared.

We also visited next door at Majestic Elegance for a bit of time almost every day. We have been there many times and it came to feel like home. The more days we spent at Mirage, the more we could feel it becoming like home away from home.

We could only visit portions of Majestic Colonial because they were closed for renovations. Some of the areas were accessible and it was fun to watch them putting the final touches on the things for the re-opening that was yesterday.

We have stayed at or day toured other resorts in PC, but Majestic seems the right fit for us. The total package of pricing, beaches, pools, service, beauty, food, spaces, etc., keep us going back to Majestic Resorts. I keep researching, but have not found anything that would make me trade our choice.

Enjoy the video!

Wine whine

I love drinking red wine, and it is supposed to be healthy for you.  I am very often asked what brand or type of red wine to drink.  No one can tell you that.  You have to experiment by yourself.  The house, the grape, the year can always vary.  Your tastes will also change over time.

I like dry red wines.  I do not like fruity ones.  Your tastes may be different.  I drink wines from all countries…..always trying out something new, whether high end or low end.  The most expensive bottle of wine I ever drank was $400 per bottle and we had two.  It was an accident…..a big accident.  Maybe someday I’ll tell the story.  It was the best wine I ever drank, but I do not need to pay such prices.

There are many wines for less than $10 that are good.  There are many wine shops that put on sale wines from all over the world.  Try them.  Expect to pay at least double in a restaurant for the same wine.

Today I provide a wine whine.  Hubby and I LOVED the wine the night we opened it.  We did not finish it.  The following night, tonight, we went to finish it and were entirely disappointed.  It did not “save” overnight, despite being corked.  Some wines save well and other do not.  I post a photo of the wine at issue.



Spring and Change

I have to laugh at some recent comments to this site that claim that my blogs are not long enough. Those that follow me here, on Trip Advisor, and on Face Book never say that. haha Those that have been following me for years tell me that any sentence with a comma, semi-colon, or colon turn off readers in today’s instant world.

Every year in the climates that have it, Spring brings change. Usually we travel in the Spring. This year we limited our travel to Florida. Most years we go to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic also. In prior years we have travelled to Europe and Asia. We have always loved Spring travel. This year family obligations have prevented us from doing the usual amount of travel. We have in the past traveled for three weeks at a time. Shorter travel time this year.

One of the benefits of not be off and about is to enjoy the yards we have created. Some have been “on purpose” and some have been “accidental”.

My main thought is that, as big or small as your home or your property is, make it “your castle”. Use the inspiration of travel and what you see to make it special.

I post some photos today to show you what I am talking about.

The first is of a Japanese Maple we bought years ago, along with a bench we found on sale at Home Depot. We bought both “cheap” and have nurtured them over the years to be a special place for us to enjoy.

Japanese May 2016

The second photo is of some wild growing honeysuckle and some hosta. We are in the process of moving the honeysuckle to another place, as you will see.

honeysuckle and hosta May 2016

Another photo is showing some “blue” flowers, which ae the most rare, that have come up without our knowledge from other plantings. along with some of the new rows of honeysuckle that we have transported.

What is it May 2016

I almost forgot our most recent garden muse. I heartily suggest that you add some to your garden, whether big or small.

green garden lady

Preserve those memories

tans will fade, memories foreverI find myself constantly suggesting and reminding others to make the effort to preserve your memories. There is no excuse today not to do so. The days of having to buy expensive cameras or video cameras and need the knowledge to know how to get the “right” shot are long gone. Snap and record away……and SAVE those images!

For your old images, the scanners and other reproductive media means, are easy to use. Scanning old photos costs NOTHING if you have a simple color scanner available at low cost. I recommend a laser color multi-unit that scans, faxes, and prints. There are so many out there. I am currently using an OKI unit, but also have an HP unit. They last forever and the drivers are constantly updated. There are so many free photo programs out there, that you don’t need to spend a time to keep your current memories or update your old ones.

The one thing I have not yet found to be inexpensive, yet not expensive, is old fashioned video 8 from decades ago. Some family members have passed on some old ones to me and I am still researching the economical way of doing that. Some deals seem great until you look at the fine print. Some family members have had them reproduced to CD or DVD only to find they are copyright protected and can’t be shared with others.

Anything newer has no such problems as you can do it on your own computer with ease…..for free! I do suggest that you have a real desktop computer to do advanced stuff. You can take the photos with phones, pads, or laptops, but to do editing and saving, you should have a desktop. Too many people are avoiding them these days…..just my personal opinion. The storage on desktops these days are amazing for cheap. I also use more modern external hard drives for photo and video history. You can also save to “the Cloud”. There are so many choices and no reason not to record and save your memories.

I leave you with a photo today that looks vintage and was not taken by me to remind you of the thoughts expressed above. There will come a day when you want to remember a certain special something… the digital age there is no reason not be able to see it too!