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: , , , |5 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

Looking Up at The Happier House

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” »

By | December 10th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |21 Comments

House Hunters International

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.

By | November 11th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |19 Comments