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” »

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!” »

Paradise Cookies

By | February 28th, 2017|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 150 grams of coconut flakes — $2

Paradise cookies (or Coconut-Lemon Cookies)

What’s better than cookies? Paradise Cookies made in Costa Rica at The Happier House. And if you don’t like cookies, well, watch anyway for the snazzy banter. I made this recipe while Rob was fighting a wasp nest. The duel ended in a draw.

What I love about this cookie recipe—besides the fact that it’s easy—is that the flavors are not overpowering.  You don’t have to be a serious coconut lover or lemon fan to enjoy them.  They have a light crispness to them.  Great for grownups and kids.  Awesome with a nice strong cup of coffee.



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup butter (one stick actually) softened

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1 egg

¼ cup lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest if you are using a real lemon if not you can leave this out

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 ½ cups sweetened coconut flakes

Continue reading “Paradise Cookies” »

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” »

Happier Than A Billionaire in Costa Rica: 5th Anniversary, The Book, and The Journey

By | September 6th, 2016|Categories: Cost of Living, The Happier House|Tags: , , , , , |

Happier Than A Billionaire

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 15 ounce Country Crock margarine — $3.33

It’s been just over five years since the official release of my book, Happier Than A Billionaire. Some things have changed, while others have stayed the same, and this may cause some confusion to many who are new to our story. This post is a short recap to clarify why we started this journey, how it has changed along the way, and where we hope it will take us.

So why did I name my first book Happier Than A Billionaire? After working seventy hours a week in order to live the American dream, we were still stressed out and miserable. We had no time for each other or anything else outside of work. We started to suspect that more stuff was not the key to finding real happiness.

Studies prove this, and it is evident by stories like those of the Tyco executive who stole his company’s cash to fund lavish parties, complete with Jimmy Buffett playing guitar and an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s “David” urinating Stolichnaya vodka. The executive was later convicted of embezzlement and spent six years in jail, where I’m certain his urination issues did not involve vodka or ice sculptures. And our suspicions were correct. We moved to CR with a few suitcases and started living the happiest times of our lives. We were not billionaires, but happier than the ones we read about.

Happier than a Billionaire is about making the most of our resources and being grateful for everything we have. It was never our plan to be “living in a van down by the river” although we did live near a river, where Rob tested our handgun that he had just set on fire after hiding it in our fireplace. He shot into the ground, blew out our water pipes, and at that point, I’m sure our landlord would have preferred we lived in a van down by the river. Continue reading “Happier Than A Billionaire in Costa Rica: 5th Anniversary, The Book, and The Journey” »