Lowered Expectations

By | October 24th, 2017|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

Sunset Suite Bathroom

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: A three bedroom villa at a popular five-star resort— $5000/night

Enjoy this free chapter from my next book, Happier Than A Billionaire: An Acre in Paradise. I think we’ve all met people like this.

“When the Dinklemans arrive, we should hand them a cold drink. That would be a nice touch,” Rob suggests this morning.

That is a horrible idea.

I’ve grown increasingly anxious about our upcoming venture into hospitality. To ease my nerves, I peruse one-star reviews on luxury resorts. This gives me endless hours of amusement. I’m obsessed with reading about people who are especially hard to please. And many of these people seem to be lumped together as prestigious Gold Card Members of a certain five-star resort chain.

I’m always intrigued by people who inform me that they are gold card members of anything. I was once a card member of Costco. Unfortunately, there was nothing gold about it. I unwisely purchased a skyscraper-sized box of Pop-Tarts, along with a large bag of individually wrapped cream cheese packets that was set to expire in ninety days. Rob didn’t want the cream cheese to go bad, so he spread it on each Pop-Tart and ate them all day, every day, for three months. This inevitably led to a twenty-pound weight gain and sporadic twinges of angina.

You might be wondering what one has to do in order to become a prestigious Gold Card Member of a five-star luxury resort, and I am here to tell you. It appears the only requirement is to complain, a lot, about everything.

“But Nadine,” you’re asking, “do these expectations really ruin a perfectly good vacation?” Bet your complimentary shower cap they do.

Once one is in this fraternity, there are perks abound. Perks I was not even aware existed. But then again, I was raised thinking an ice machine in the lobby was the echelon of high society. Continue reading “Lowered Expectations” »

A New Yorker Gardening in Costa Rica

By | July 14th, 2017|Categories: Mountain House, The Happier House|Tags: , , , |

Happier House Garden

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: A Thousand Bougainvillea Plants—Free when your husband is a lunatic

The weather has been beautiful in Costa Rica with the perfect mix of rain and sunshine. We have amazing lightning shows at night, with claps of thunder so loud it rattles the windows. Mornings begin with misty clouds drifting across the hilltops; temperatures so cool it feels like I’m still living in the mountains.

I think often about my time in Grecia, where this whole journey started. Rob and I didn’t know what to expect when we moved to Costa Rica. The idea was risky, ridiculous, and romantic. Little did I know, it was the beginning of something great

Below is a chapter from Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. It chronicles the move to the beach and the beginning of our next adventure, one which included a truck full of plants.

Rob knew we would have a garden one day. He has a way of seeing into our future. Continue reading “A New Yorker Gardening in Costa Rica” »

Editing Has Begun: The Fourth Happier Book is Well Under Way!

By | June 10th, 2017|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

First Chapter Happier House

Costa Rica Costa of Living Update: Price per Gallon of Super Gasoline — $4.15 (And there was nothing super about it.  My car immediately stalled after filling the tank)

As many of you know from following my Facebook page, I’ve been diligently working on my next book about building The Happier House. Why am I not entering the culinary profession after my smash video, How to Screw Up a Mango Salad you ask? I stay in my lane folks, and for me, that means documenting the stupid things my husband gets us into. This is the perfect profession since it requires minimal effort from me. Like right now, as I’m writing this, my husband is pruning a palm tree with a weed wacker. All I need is eyesight and an elementary school education to predict how this day will end.

I’m so excited to share with you the first chapter of my fourth book. You’ve all been so wonderful to me, and I often think of you as I write. I imagine that person in bed who only has ten minutes to read before falling asleep. Or that individual who loves armchair travel, and dreams of moving abroad one day. Taking you on this journey with me has been a dream come true. I can’t thank you all enough.

Burrito Man

“I’m starting a burrito business,” Bobby says while standing under a palm tree. “I’m calling it … are you ready… Bobby-ritos.” He splays his hands in the air as if revering a neon-lit Vegas marquee. To seem polite, I look up as well. I do not splay or revere.

Tonight, people are approaching me with the very first thought on their mind. They pick me straight out of a crowd or corner me in the bathroom. It appears I wear an expression of someone who is keenly interested in what others have to say. Most times I am. But not tonight.

Continue reading “Editing Has Begun: The Fourth Happier Book is Well Under Way!” »

Looking Up at The Happier House

By | December 10th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

Brasilito Moon

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bag of Sun Chips that Rob and I devoured in one hour—$4.82

The Happier House recently hosted two wonderful guests, Jim and Dawn. As we were showing them around the Sunset Suite’s outdoor kitchen, Rob began a very long and tedious explanation on how to light the barbecue.

“You see here Jim, the automatic lighter switch is broken so you will have to use this Bic lighter,” Rob explained, holding up the device in case Jim has started fires in the past using only flint and kindling.

“Okay, I think I got it,” Jim replied.

“Well, you have to light it where the gas comes out underneath, somewhere in the middle.”

“Yeah, I’ll remember…”

“It’s important Jim, that if the gas is on too long, you will want to shut it off and wait a few minutes then start again.”

Rob continued rambling to our guest, even suggesting the “Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosy” rule of turning the propane tank nozzle on and off when I finally interrupted.

“Honey, didn’t Jim tell you he works for NASA?”

“So you’re like a rocket scientist?” Rob asked.

“Yes. My job involves dealing with jet fuel when necessary.”

Well played Rocket Man. Well played.

Continue reading “Looking Up at The Happier House” »

House Hunters International

By | November 11th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

House Hunters International

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bottom of the Line Weedwacker—$267. Cost of repairs after breaking it on the first run—$6

What a couple of weeks! No, not the election, I was on House Hunters International! Large close-ups of my face appeared on televisions all across the world. If you missed it, check your local listings for the title of the episode: “Happier Than a Brasilionaire.” Yes, that reads “Brasilionaire,” because we live in Brasilito.

It was exciting to appear on a show that I watched back in the States while dreaming of a different life. Sometimes I’d go on a House Hunters International marathon, viewing them back to back and driving my husband nuts. Are you a wife who does that to your spouse? Well keep it up because eventually, you’re going to see Rob and me on your screen, duking it out while trying to find the perfect place to start a bed and breakfast.

One of the funnier moments was when Rob and I tour what I like to call the Tomb Raider house: an empty shell that was never completed. Apparently, one person’s post-apocalyptic nightmare is another’s Buckingham Palace. Rob imagined crown jewels and crumpets while I Googled the symptoms of rabies after getting bombarded by a closet full of bats.

house-hunters-international-snapshot2

My husband is a real can-do sort of guy, who was convinced all he needed was a magical hammer and a positive disposition to finish this particular house. I was the high-maintenance wife, insisting that our guests may enjoy rooms with less bat guano and balconies where they can’t fall to their death. But what do I know? I’m new to the hospitality business.

This show was a great opportunity, and I wanted to look my best, so I did not wear sensible shoes. Women will understand this. And Rob went all out and wore swim trunks. Men will understand that. Project Runway has not yet contacted us, but I’m anxious to discuss the variety of tank tops Rob sports, all of which come in a package of five. He’s truly breaking ground with his fashion choices.

I can understand if you haven’t seen our show yet because this little thing called the United States Presidential Election was taking place. From what I can tell, everyone is getting along and singing Kumbaya around a campfire. Or maybe that’s what my brain wants to believe. It’s easy to kid myself because a flock of parrots just landed in a tree right in front of me. Life is good here. It’s a happy one, and I want everyone to feel as happy as I do. Sadly, I think it could be a while before that happens.

If you feel like you need a break from the commotion, stay at The Happier House. Or better yet, why not just move down here and share the joy? You can wear tank tops all day and sensible shoes if you wish. And that goes for you guys in the UK too. I heard Brexit and our election has been rough on you as well.

Costa Rica is a place for everyone. It cured many things in me I didn’t know needed fixing. It’s a kinder, gentler place and the world needs more of that right now. The Pura Vida lifestyle is a real thing, and once you experience it you can’t imagine living any other way.

Organic Watermelons

I Grow Big Melons

And for all those who are dealing with anxiety, Happier Than A Billionaire is here to help. If you have not read it yet, our misadventures are sure to make you laugh.  Follow my Facebook page where I share pictures of sunsets and pretty beaches. Or follow me on Instagram where I share snapshots of watermelons with snazzy captions like “I grow big melons.” My husband is not on Instagram, so I can take credit for all of his hard work without him ever knowing.

Thanks for following our journey. I have a feeling this year is going to be quite interesting, and I’m going to try to stay happier throughout it. If you think you might want to join us here one day, check out my latest book: The 2016 edition of The Costa Rica Escape Manual.

I’ll be sending sunshine smiles and pura vida vibes your way for a long time to come.