A Happier Father’s Day

Fathers Day Costa Rica

Costa Rica Costa of Living Update: Repairing one busted rear spring on an SUV — $125 for parts and labor

For those who have read my books, you know that I love to talk about my family, especially my father. He’s a Renaissance Man: one versed in literature, Roman history, and the ability to find the best deal on cases of C & C Cola. He never buys bottles, only cans because it’s it easier to stack them dangerously high in the garage behind the lawnmower and hedge clippers. This becomes a suburban version of The Hunger Games when you’re thirsty.

So for this Father’s Day, I’m sharing with you an email exchange with my dad that I included in my second book, Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. Writing and sharing my work has been quite a journey for me, and I can always count on my dad to come to my rescue when I’m feeling down:

From: Nadine

To: Dad

1:13 PM

Subject: The Worst Book He Ever Read

I got a one-star review today. He said it was the worst book he ever read:

“I’m halfway through and struggling to finish it: it is simply one of the worst books of any genre that I have every tried to read. Nadine, in particular, is what would be called an “ugly American” by many ex-pats living in Costa Rica (or other foreign places). Instead of appreciating and blending into the culture, she appears as a bull in a china shop in nearly every chapter.

My wife and I are contemplating a retirement move to Costa Rica (or the Caribbean). My father built a house in CR in 1995 and we have made many trips to the country. Likewise, the Caribbean where I have almost thirty years’ experience as a visitor. Trust me, this book has almost nothing serious to offer the person seeking good information of making such a move. It is a serious undertaking, with many pitfalls that will happen to you if you don’t understand the culture…”

And it doesn’t stop there, it goes on and on and on. He practically wrote a book about how much he didn’t like my book.

Seriously Dad, the worst book of any genre? Is it the worst book in any language in the world? How about the worst book in every universe on every Starfleet?

Because if that’s true… it sounds like a pretty shitty book.  Continue reading “A Happier Father’s Day” »

By | June 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|20 Comments

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

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!” »

By | June 10th, 2017|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |23 Comments

How to Screw up a Mango Salad

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” »

By | March 27th, 2017|Categories: Cooking Show, Recipes|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

Pumpkin Pie Plantains

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” »

By | March 14th, 2017|Categories: Cooking Show, Recipes|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

Paradise Cookies

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.

 

INGREDIENTS

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” »

By | February 28th, 2017|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , , |10 Comments