By | November 30th, 2017|Categories: Cooking Show, Recipes|Tags: , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 12 oz bag of Britt Coffee: Eleven Dollars

What happens when a choreographer stays at The Happier House? We put on a show!

I always knew musical theater and dancing were in my blood, especially when the dancing never actually involves my feet. I’m what you call an arm dancer, so my guest choreographed a routine perfectly suited to my abilities.

“What? More elbow? Got it,” I said while counting out loud to the beat. I was about to sing “I Hope I Get It” from The Chorus Line but was quickly handed a coffee cup and told to practice more. And I practiced folks. I practiced my little coffee mugged arms out.

My guests were a blast and besides dancing in my kitchen, enjoyed many of the spots they found in The Costa Rica Escape Manual. I love when people visit and feel the same magic I do in Costa Rica. And as with all of you who have stayed at The Happier House, I’m happier now for having made new friends.

I hope they come back because I have another idea. One singular sensation. A thrilling combination. One that may involve blenders. I’m already practicing.

And a five… six… seven… eight.

How to Screw up a Mango Salad

By | March 27th, 2017|Categories: Cooking Show, Recipes|Tags: , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Jar of Imported Bertolli Spaghetti Sauce— $3.90

If you want to stay on a budget, do not buy a jar of imported tomato sauce. This is a high priced item that I refuse to purchase, which is why Rob is the fun guy when he shops. When I asked why he bought it, all he said was, “It’s good.” My husband has absolutely no issue indulging his Italian appetite when he craves something.

Purchasing this is such a rarity that there was a herald of arms announcing the sauce when Rob arrived home. There may also have been trumpets, but all I could hear was my father’s voice declaring I’ll be homeless by Friday if I continue being irresponsible with my money.

Does a jar of good tomato sauce bring you joy like it does my husband? If the answer is no, move to Costa Rica. Things you normally ate in the States are too expensive here, so when you do purchase them, it’s like Mardi Gras. I promise to toss beads at you when you buy that really good mozzarella cheese.

So this video is me making an inexpensive Happier Mango Salad, one in which I screw up pretty good. This gives you great insight to my skills in the kitchen. I’m surprised I haven’t starved yet.

This mango salad is guaranteed to make you feel a little happier. And a little happier is better than any jar of expensive tomato sauce. Continue reading “How to Screw up a Mango Salad” »

Pumpkin Pie Plantains

By | March 14th, 2017|Categories: Cooking Show, Recipes|Tags: , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: One Plantain— 40 cents

Rob is definitely the funny one in the relationship. He even tells funny Brooklyn stories with characters straight out of central casting: Pina Colada Pat, Frankie the Fist, Fat Joey, Skinny Joey, Ice-Pick Joey (that’s actually a terrifying guy with a not-so-funny story).

There is nothing humorous about me. I come from a long line of Eastern European/Russian ancestors that have not uttered anything comical since 1832. It is rumored that in 1832, someone blew a fart at the dinner table and a seven-year-old boy laughed. He was never seen again.

My husband is Italian, and these lunatics plan their life around fun activities. I’ve just learned to say yes to all of Rob’s ideas. “You want to go kayaking?” Sure. “Hike up a waterfall?” Why the hell not? If it were up to me, I’d sit in my room all day reading Tolstoy’s, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Spoiler alert: he dies.

My husband will even wake up in the middle of the night and ask me if I want French Toast… just because it’s fun to eat five hundred, carb-rich calories at three in the morning. Like I said, he’s nuts.

But I can make Rob laugh when he watches me cook. So I am making these videos just to see him smile. His smile can turn a mediocre day into a pretty good one. And when it’s a good day I can ask him to remove the fourteen hornet’s nests that are growing around the house.

Today I’m making plantains. They cost 40 cents each, and anything that cost 40 cents is worth making a video about. But I know most people in the United States don’t make them because they are weird and seem complicated. Who needs that in their produce? Not me. I want it easy.  So this is an easy, cheap plantain recipe that will impress your non-plantain eating neighbors at the next block party. I bet they don’t have a sense of humor either. But they will after you make these.

Continue reading “Pumpkin Pie Plantains” »

Permaculture in Costa Rica

By | November 17th, 2015|Categories: Cooking Show, Nature, Tourism|Tags: , , , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 5.3 oz Greek Yogurt— $1.25

Watch this introduction to an upcoming interview with Nikko from Essence Arenal. Nikko is a fascinating person, so look for the full-length interview in the near future.

Essence Arenal is a hostel that utilizes the principles of permaculture to grow their own food. The hostel is perched on top of a hill beside the majestic Arenal Volcano. If the views aren’t impressive enough, Nikko’s commitment to a sustainable lifestyle makes this the perfect spot to visit and explore. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, there’s no better place for a sun salutation than on his recently constructed yoga deck. While standing at the edge a warm sensation washed over me. It’s easy to see how Nikko could rediscover himself in this place. Anxiety and worries have no adhesive power here.  Layers of troubles will wilt away, one by one. Life is wonderful when not burdened by the heaviness of stress.

Nikko is an interesting fellow. He’s from Germany, grew up in Spain, and sailed to Costa Rica searching for a new adventure. After fifty countries, he fell in love and decided to call the small town of El Castillo his home. But a small town can’t stop Nikko from having big ideas. He desires a kinder, gentler world: one where our surroundings provide us with all of the nourishment we need.

“When I was designing our landscaping I thought why not grow palms and plants that you can eat? Why not be able to eat your own landscaping!” Nikko said. He also grows his own coffee. Nikko is lucky I didn’t pitch a tent right on his coffee farm.

One of Essence Arenal’s goals is to provide their guests with healthy, organically grown food on their own property. They are also committed to educating their guests on the benefits of permaculture and healthy living. Everything has a purpose. While many are quick to point out the impossible, there are others striving toward better solutions. You’ll know these people when you meet them, they are passionate and generous with their time.

I look forward to sharing more of this Building Up an Appetite episode with you. Until then you can read all about Essence Arenal in my book, Happier Than A Billionaire: The Escape Manual.



By | November 29th, 2014|Categories: Cooking Show|Tags: , , , , , , |

Costa Rican Cost of Living Update: 12-ounce jar of Smucker’s Orange Marmalade—$4.60

We are excited to release the first episode of our cooking/adventure show Building Up an Appetite! Enjoy Mardi Gras in Costa Rica, a tour of Flamingo, and a fun night dancing to Canadian Blues legend, Donnie Walsh, at Marie’s Restaurant.

We sit down with Donnie the day after the show for an incredible interview in which he discusses how he met Dan Aykroyd and became the inspiration for the famous Blues Brothers. We follow him on his journey to where he is today, living on the beach in Costa Rica.

My friend Ewa and I prepare a delicious meal while Rob and Donnie take a fishing trip to Playa Del Coco. While waiting for them to return, I whip up a delicious mango salad with fresh fruit picked right out of Ewa’s backyard. It’s one of the things I love most about living in Costa Rica, picking fresh fruit right off the trees.

This show is dear to our hearts and we can’t thank all the people who made it possible enough. Over the course of seven years living in Costa Rica, I have encountered many incredible things. I’m elated to have this moment to share some of them with you.

Over the next thirty minutes, you will see magnificent views, epic beaches, wild monkeys, toucans, coatis, and much, much more.

Will my husband catch any red snapper or just sink the boat? Watch the show now to find out!

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