Cabo Wabo

Soooo, as some of you might remember me having mentioned, I recently went on a big family vacation to Cabo San Lucas. It. Was. Awesome. And RIDICULOUSLY hot. But mostly just awesome.

And I realize that this recap is coming super belatedly, but it’s taken me about this long just to dig myself back out from the week-long email build-up that occurred while I was out. Funny how this backlog is really never something I experienced back when I was doing government work, hahahaha.

Also contributing to the delay is the massive amount of schnauzer sickness that I have also been handling since my return. Whether it was due to the stress of being at the sitter’s, or something he ate, Harry chose last week to become quite sick, resulting in a totally ruined rug, $500 in vet bills, and lots of used cleaning supplies. I’m happy to report that he is both eating and pooping normally again now… but Harry feeling better apparently means that now it’s Daxter’s turn to be sick, of course.

 
I gotta say, I did miss those faces though. Anyway, I AM back now, and I have some fun photos of the trip to share! I am very happy to announce, first of all, that Sean has officially survived his first Powell Family Vacation ® — Hooray!

Since dating me means pretty much means also dating my family, this was an important milestone in our relationship. The vacation on a whole was really quite successful. It was beautiful there, of course, with clear water and clear skies (though, as mentioned, it was soooooo hot. I’m pretty sure I lost weight just from the sheer volume of how much I sweat throughout the week, and the poolwater felt like bathwater, it was so hot.)

But, still, beautiful.

We stayed in an awesome resort (the Playa Grande, where my brother-in-law’s parents own a timeshare), and there was much pool-lounging, beach-going, and eating. Oh man, the eating. We cooked the majority of dinners in the suite where my parents, sister & bro-in-law, and his parents were staying, as they had a full kitchen and there’s a Costco and a WalMart not too far outside of the resort area. This was hugely cost-saving and also a really fun way to make sure everyone had time together most days even if we wanted to do our own things otherwise.

We did get to eat lots of our lunches out, though, which was great because the seafood in Cabo is SO fresh and delicious. We explored several of the restaurants in the marina and beach areas, and on our very last day, Sean and I even managed to track down the best shrimp tacos that probably exist in the entire planet. They’re at Los Claros, in case you were wondering, and here is my Yelp review that backs up my claim.

Aside from the food though, the real star of this trip was this little nugget:

Mia is SO much fun now! She’s starting to really learn how to communicate and use words (well, a couple of ’em, anyway), she has the best facial expressions, and she is a little waterbaby — she loves to swim! This trip was like 85% about spending time with my beautiful niece and 15% about working on my tan, let’s be honest.

ANYWAY. The fact that these are pretty much all the photos I have to show from the trip should be a testament to how great a time I had. I guess I was just too busy having fun and reading three of the many, many books that have been sitting sadly on my Kindle for so, so long.

And now that I’ve officially broken my blogging hiatus, I’ll be back soon to share some of the other things that have been going on in my little life over the past couple of weeks, one of which is the world’s longest and most awful car trip to Richmond, and another being a killer recipe for peanut sesame noodles. Mm-mmm!

Fatkinis in Paradise

Back in January, my family and I made plans to go on a giant summer vacation together to Cabo San Lucas. It’d be the whole gang — my parents, my siblings and siblings-in-law, my sister’s parents-in-law (they actually have a timeshare down in Cabo, and are prett much the whole reason this thing is happening), Sean, and me — and the timing, I figured, would be perfect! I’d have more than six months to get my body back to bikini-ready shape after typical holiday-season slacking. It was just the motivator that I needed to get back on the wagon and drop some libbies again, right?

Weeeeell, actually, wrong (as we already know.) I have indeed managed to shave off about 20 – 25 pounds from what I had regained, which is awesome, but in the months since I have clearly stopped making any attempts to hide the fact that I’m not actively dieting anymore. And yet, this tropical vaycay was still looming, looming, looming… and I realized that sooner or later, I’d have to face my body and whether it was bikini-ready or not.

Now, first up, my feelings about the term “bikini body” in general can now pretty much be summer up by the following (adorable) graphic:

But even so, hey, I’m not immune to the pressures that society puts on people to want to look a certain way. I mean, I’m a mass consumer of media in all its various forms, so of course I’m not, hahaha. So I would be lying if I said that the idea of baring skin by the poolside didn’t cause me at least a little bit of stress. But you know me, I’ve never really been able to subscribe to the idea that skinny feels better than food tastes or whatever, so ultimately it came down to whether I wanted to get myself all bent out of shape over how I looked at the beach, or if I wanted to, you know, continue enjoying my life the way it is. And I mean, I know I probably sound super douchey saying it out loud, but my life is pretty stellar right now.

S0 since I am, at least currently, totally uninterested in torturing myself both physically and mentally over a vacation (which, hello, is supposed to be relaxing anyway), I came to realize that the best way for me to get beach-ready probably wasn’t to agonize endlessly over my bodily imperfections. No, I’d take a different approach.

Rather than forcing myself to do a juice cleanse in the hopes that it’d shave another 1/4 of an inch off my general body circumference, I decided to do a mental cleanse instead. I rejected the notion that summer is limited to people who wear single digit sizes. I faced the fact that I am really not as important as I make myself out to be, and people out there enjoying their own vacations really don’t give two hoots what I, some random stranger with outrageously colored hair, am wearing at any given time.

I know, I’ve talked a bit about this kind of body acceptance before, of course, because it’s always been true. But my past posts were written with the looming idea that I still needed to lose weight. So, you know, I could love my body and all, sure. But in the back of my mind I was still telling myself, “Just don’t love it so much that you stop wanting to fix it.”

Weeeeell, obviously I have a little bit of a different perspective about things now. I don’t want to have to fix anything anymore. And you can say that’s just me being lazy, but it’s not going to change the fact that I fully embrace the fact that any body really can be a bikini body. After all, just like bodies, bikinis come in lots of different shapes and sizes. And whether you have thunder thighs or flat butt syndrome or belly flab or big boobs or small boobs or no boobs, you’d be pretty amazed at how great a relatively tiny amount of fabric can make you feel, if it’s the right cut.

This idea of there being different swimsuits for different bodies isn’t news, of course. I’ve been reading magazines for years, all offering advice on what swimsuits work best for different body types. Small bust, wide hips, broad shoulders, hourglass, there were options for all, and the features usually even came with photos of real-life women illustrating the effects of properly allocated swimwear.

In retrospect, though, I realize that while these articles might have been a great way to showcase poolside fashion, they still fell into the trap that a lot of  mainstream fashion does when it comes to dressing one particular type of body shape: they don’t really know what to do with it, so they just cover it up. Which, yes, granted, not everyone has a nice flat tummy to showcase between the top-part and bottom-part of your swimsuit, but does that mean we’re not allowed to show it at all?

I have distinct memories of flipping through magazine pages as the feature addressed pear-shaped and straight-shaped and hourglass-shaped figures and showcased adorable, fashionable bikini looks for each of them, only to finally get to the “Full Figure” or “Plus Sized” section at the end and have it be full of one-pieces and tankinis.

Yeah, kinda like that.

And hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some might fine one-pieces and tankinis out there. I’m a big fan, myself.

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Terrible iPad selfies aside, this is literally my favorite suit to ever exist in the history of swimwear. I pretty much just hung around the house wearing it all yesterday afternoon because I didn’t want to take it off, that’s how much I love it. I mean, aside from the whole wet swimsuit + full bladder predicament that surfaces every once in a while, I’m all about the one-piece. But I think you know that really isn’t where my issue lies.

I just don’t love the message that it sends when the media showcase all these different kinds of women looking fab in two-piece swimsuits… except for one kind. Because even larger, thicker, curvier, whatever-er women can still look totally bangable in ‘kinis, and not showcasing that fact, as unintentional as it may be, still perpetuates the idea that we should be hiding our bodies because there’s something wrong with them.

Luckily, I think the tide is finally beginning to turn on that front. Maybe it’s due to the resurgence of vintage-style clothing coming back into vogue (high-waisted bottoms FTW!), or maybe it’s because of body positive figures like GabiFresh (I believe she’s the originator of the term “fatkini”), but either way, I am so on board with all women being able to wear whatever the hell they want and hopefully feeling beautiful and confident while doing so.

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Which is why next week you will see me, proudly rocking my own fatkinis (given how much I’ve admitted to hating the word “fat,” I actually really love the term “fatkini”) and maybe even inspiring other women to do the same. It’s your body, after all. Wear what you want!

And that goes double when on vacation.

Out with a Bang

O hai, final day in May! You kinda snuck up on me there. This month has seriously been a complete whirlwind, with some seriously cool things having filled my schedule (the Chobani dinner and — have you heard me mention it enough yet? — Reach the Beach in particular come to mind!). Last night I got to finish off the month with a delightful performance of The Music Man at the Arena Stage in DC.

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76 trombones led the big parade…

I’d never been to this theatre before, but it was a pretty cool concept! It really was set up like an arena, with the audience sitting on all four sides of the small stage in the middle. It definitely meant that there was some creative staging, although I’ll admit that having the actor’s backs turned to us some of the time wasn’t totally ideal. I thought the actress who played Marian was quite spectacular, but while the actor who played Professor Harold Hill definitely captured the spirit of the character, well, he was just no Robert Preston.

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Of course, prior to finishing out the month of May with a flourish of Prof. Hill’s conductor’s baton, there was other thing that took up a rather large chunk of my time. You know, that laying on the beach drinking highly caloric frozen cocktails thing. That St. Maarten thing. And I know that I’ve already given you a snippet of the photos that I managed to take myself (though few and far between they were, relatively), but my glorious photog brother Ben and his fiancee Taylor have officially finished editing their multitude of photos… and you know what that means!

I feel it should be noted that I did, after all, manage to fake enough bikini confidence to brave four of the five days in one. And for those of you who may be curious, every single one of my bathing suits came from Old Navy (though the hot pink bikini is probably the only one that is still in stores). LET THE PHOTO OVERLOAD COMMENCE! (All photo cred goes to Ben Powell Photography.)



My mom, my sister, and I playing around the hotel pool.

We stayed at the Summit on the Dutch side of the island. It’s really close to the American University of the Caribbean, so we’d actually stayed here before when visiting Dan and Jen while he was in school. (My family spent Christmas 2008 in St. Maarten, and I also returned the following March for Spring Break my senior year.)

There was the cutest pair of Frenchies that belonged to the owner of the hotel’s restaurant, “Deep Bleu”! They kept us company during a few of our lunches. One of them had that amazing ugly-cute messed-up teeth/hanging out tongue thing that some smooshy-faced dogs get. Totes adorbs.

We spent most of our time lounging around the pool that first day, but made a late afternoon jaunt over to Mullet Bay, the closest (and best!) beach to where we were staying.


It didn’t take long for all of to hop into the water, which was delightfully temperate. I love bobbing around and jumping in the waves, it’s so much fun! It took all of one wave to knock my mama over, haha. She’s so cute. 🙂


Salty, sandy, and already freckled!


The hilarious thing about this shot is that it wasn’t even staged. We were really all standing like this, haha.

After we got cleaned up from our beach adventures, we headed out to a local restaurant called The Boathouse for dins. I vaguely remember having come here before. I got mussels, which were okay, and a guavaberry colada which was delicious. Making and selling guavaberry liquor is one of the only non-tourism related streams of revenue for the island!


I AM A GIANT.

Note to self: bring a fellow female who is taller than 5’2″ on your next vacation so you won’t feel so awkwardly ginormous in pictures like this.


There may or may not have been karaoke during dinner. Heh.

After a full day in the sun and a filling meal, I was way too wiped out to go out or anything that night. In hindsight, this was probably a very smart decision, since my sister and her hubby both met some of their med school friends at a nightclub and were not in the best shape the next morning, bahaha. I think I was fast asleep by 10:00, and I didn’t wake up once during the night, which is rare for me (I’m a very restless sleeper most of the time). Comments like this tend to make people hate me, but it really is true that laying around in the sun all day takes it out of you. Must be all that Vitamin D creation, eh?


Overview of Marigot from the fort

The next morning our group ventured into Marigot, a little… town… area… place? over on the French side. It boasts St. Maarten’s only indoor shopping mall (about 1/16th the size of Tysons Corner, haha) which is filled with very expensive stores. It also has a WONDERFUL French bakery called Serafina’s, where I procured a small salmon quiche and a bite of everyone else’s croissants, hehe. This is also the place where I got the Harry & Daxter chocolates that I mentioned in my other post.

Marigot also has the big outdoor souvenir market where you can buy anything from dresses and handbags to paintings, jars full of sand, and rum. Oh, the rum. My wallet is rather glad that I abstained, since my past trips to St. Maarten had me coming back with all sorts of trinkets, but it was still fun to walk around. After we wrapped up in Marigot, we dropped the ‘rents back at the hotel and us “kids” went over to Baie Rouge. No pictures of that particular beach seem to have made it through the ringer, but rest assured it was very fun!

Later that day, in the early evening, I also went to help take Ben and Taylor’s engagement pictures back at Mullet. There’s nothing quite like that sunset lighting, I tell ya. I can’t wait until they’re done editing all of them, some of them came out really cool. Here’s one little teaser:

Can you believe I took that? Sure, it was with Ben’s amazing 5D Mark III, his amazing lens, and with his specific tutelage, but still. I’m quite proud!

The following day was spent at Orient Bay, arguably one of the most popular tourist beaches on the island. They have a great setup where waiters come out to your beach chairs and bring you drinks, food, whatever! I tried to ask our server if they had coconut water, since down there you can sometimes find vendors who will just pop a straw into a young coconut and hand it over, but he said sorry, he took the last one! I settled for another BBC instead.





Me and my “big” sister, hehe.

Our final full day in St. Maarten was spent with a final trip to Mullet Bay, cocktails by the pool afterward, and a full-scale family photoshoot. (Oh come on, would you really expect anything less?

Aside from missing my pops, who is in Africa right now on a work trip, this is the entire combined Powell & Robinson gang (including one future Powell, of course!).

And just the polka-dot-tastic Powells, hehe.



We spent our final hours on the island at Sunset Beach, which is the beach right in front of the airport. You can see the planes coming in right overhead, and if you’re not careful where you’re standing when the planes take off, you can get sandblasted right into the water!! I took another couple of shots of Ben and Taylor underneath an incoming 747, so hopefully one of them came out and I can show just how close the planes fly in. It’s super cool!

Okay. Phew. I think that just about covers it. For those of you who have made it to the end, I commend you. What a month, eh? I hope you all had a May that was as incredible as mine! Bring it on, June. 🙂

Scenes from St. Maarten

Oh hai!

I’m officially back (physically, at least) from the sunny shores of St. Maarten and am rapidly readjusting to life in the real world. I’m feeling fairly anxious about all of the work I have lying in front of me, but I’m trying not to crumble under the self-induced pressure. I think I needed to bring a little more of that island mentality back with me, eh?

At any rate, here are a few snapshots of my family vacation. The main reason for going down was to attend my brother-in-law’s medical school graduation (he attended the American University in the Caribbean!), so when you see him dressed in an awesome and hilarious robe, that’s the reason why. I’m still editing a bunch of photos, and Ben took the majority of them (I got to be the photographer for Taylor and his engagement shoot on the beach!), so prepare yourself for even more photo overload as the week goes on!

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The view from the balcony of my room. I know.

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The poolside bar.

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My sister Jenny, lounging; the most amazing frozen cocktail ever: The B.B.C. (Bailey’s, banana, & coconut)

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Jenny & Dan, his parents, and my mom at his graduation.

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I missed Harry & Daxter so much that I picked up chocolate versions of them at a fancy chocolatier in Marigot. Harry was filled with peanut butter and Daxter was filled with chocolate ganache and POP ROCKS. 😀

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My “big” sister, my cleavage, and me hanging out at Mullet Bay.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Here’s to short weeks and shorter workloads… in my dreams. See ya on the flipside!

A Beach Wedding

Friday, I went to the beach.

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And although I did stick my toes in the sand (not that there was much of a choice) there was another reason behind the trip.

Pre-Wedding Posing

Steve and I had a wedding to attend! My first beach wedding ever, in fact.

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The festivities couldn’t commence without self-taken pictures in the bathroom mirror of my wedding outfit though, natch.

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Hahahaha, I’m such a dork. I even got my nails “Shellac’d” for this gig. It’s nail polish that’s supposed to last 2+ weeks!

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With my track record with manicures, however, we’ll have to see how things go, haha.

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Steve was a groomsman in this beautiful beach wedding that took place in (or rather, on!) Rehoboth Beach, DE.

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Studly.

I accompanied his parents and played the role of that obnoxious person that nobody knows who is taking too many pictures. Heehee.

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Groomsmen in Wait

The boyf performed his duties beautifully, of course.

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And I only have one thing to say when it comes to the Whasian (!!!!) ring bearer and flower girl in the ceremony.

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O.M.G.

Let’s just get a closer look of that adorbs-ness:

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I die.

But of course, there was really only one star of this show.

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From daughter…

Rory & Jen!
… to wife!

And with a kiss (that I failed to get a good picture of, haha) Rory and Jen were married. Congratulations, guys!

Take your seat

Time to celebrate!

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First with cocktail hour, of course. Vodka soda for me!

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In lieu of traditional throw-away favors, Rory & Jen made a donation to a no-kill animal shelter, which I loved! They have a dog, so I thought this was a fantastic way to include her in the wedding (of course, I have all sorts of plans to literally include my dogs in my someday wedding, haha. Are you surprised?)

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There was a great spread, too! The weddings I’ve been to lately have REALLY been on the ball when it comes to the eats! Let’s hope the trend continues for the next three I’ll be attending…

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Cocktail hour included a fruit & cheese platter, plus passed hors d’oeuvre (including the AMAZING bacon-wrapped scallop below!)

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And dinner started off with a spinach salad with dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, blue cheese, and a super garlicky dressing.

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Before hitting us with a full-scale buffet of deliciousness!

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Prime rib AND chicken AND crab cakes, OH MY! I couldn’t even make it through my plate, there was so much food. Nommmm.

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I love weddings.

The sweetest part of the whole thing (other than the cake)? Rory took dance lessons to prepare for the big day! Not to worry, though. He wasn’t the only one showing off on the dance floor:

Dance Party!
Rave on.

I even managed to get Steve to cut a rug with me for a dance or two. 🙂

We stayed late to help with the clean up and whatnot, which led to its own silliness, haha.

Flowers. So hot right now.
Flowers. So hot right now. Flowers.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous wedding. 2011 Weddings: two down, three to go!

So after some deliberation, and the 249,892,348 words that made up this way-too-long post, I have made the executive decision to switch my weigh-in day. I recently received a comment on an older post suggesting I switch days from Monday to later in the week. The reasoning is that it might change my mentality about how I treat the weekends (in which I usually go balls-to-the-wall… oops.) Plus, I have to admit that it does feels weird tacking on my weigh-in to these huge weekend catch-up posts each week. We’ll see how it goes!

Purely for the alliteration, I’ve picked Wednesday as my new weigh-in day. Hopefully by then I’ll have actually kicked this cold (it has been holding on with a DEATH GRIP) and will have some happy news to report. I can’t lie, it’s been kind of nice not worrying about my weight for the past 2 weeks… but hopefully this little weigh-cation won’t end miserably… bum bum bum.

Are you a yay-weddings or nay-weddings kind of person? In case you couldn’t tell, I LOVE WEDDINGS. I fully realize I’m nowhere near getting married anytime soon, but that doesn’t stop me from watching marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress” and keeping a “Someday” board on Pinterest. You know. Just in case. 😉

PS: Thanks so much for the kind words and amazing experiences shared through your comments on Friday’s post. If you’re ever in need of an ally in this weight-loss battle we fight, you’ll find about 25 of them there.