the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Having left Ohio in 1981, I have been moving south ever since. First to Florida, then for the last 17 years, I have lived on the island of Cozumel with my husband and two dogs. Expat, designer, writer, photographer ... all my passions with a Mexican twist!

Dec 23, 2012

Christmas Sentiment

Christmas ornaments photo courtesy of Chellie Haydon Castellanos





Hard to believe another year has flown by. The older I get, the faster it all goes. Add to the fact I live in the Caribbean and it never really feels like Christmas. The charity is certainly there. I have seen many photos on Facebook of Santa Ron giving out shoes at Kelley's and Candy Cane Corki handing out candy canes. Christmas Day, Dive Choice Mexico will be at Las Fincas with more gifts, a charity that I hold true to my heart and give to every year. 


Candy Cane Corki

Still it is hard to get in the mood of the season. Where is the snow and the gigantic decorated trees I remember from my childhood? Decorating a palm tree is just not the same. But I have to admit, not having to put on a big coat and gloves has its perks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Dec 5, 2012

Beauties in Cozumel

Josefina and her girls
I saw this photo today on Facebook and could not get over how beautiful it is. I have known the woman in the photo, Josefina, since long before any of her girls were born. That is one of the lovely things about Cozumel, the small town appeal.

You can see the joy in her smile and the girls are all loving their food, but the photo is more than that. It is about family and values and the reasons why we all came to Cozumel. As the island grows, not all good has come of it. So that is what makes me so happy to see a photo like this. And if you are ever in the need of a wonderful birthday cake or awesome cupcakes, Josefina does that too. Visit her Facebook page at Cozumel Cakes.

Nov 25, 2012

Ironman Cozumel 2012


Map from Iron Man Cozumel website
A new Cozumel tradition ... we now host the Iron Man Cozumel in November. The website for all things Iron Man at Cozumel can be found here:
Iron Man Cozumel

The weather was challenging yesterday with lots of breeze and cool air from the north, what we call a norte. Hopefully it will calm down today. So far, the breeze is less but the temps are still a bit challenging.

We wish all Iron Man competitors best wishes! Go Iron Men and Women!

Nov 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!




Photo taken on Melgar November 18 2012


I try to practice gratitude every day. But Thanksgiving is the official gratitude day holiday, the day we are thankful for family and friends, business associates and the life we choose to live. From the Caribbean island of Cozumel, I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.


Sep 15, 2012

Viva Mexico: Happy Independence Day

Lucia Angulo in the center with Mr. & Mrs. Freddy Marrufo

Lucia Angulo, whom I call Lucy, is the granddaughter of my neighbor and the daughter of Minerva Mari. I have a beautiful painting hanging in my office that Minerva painted of Lucy when she was about 14. Now she is the Ambassador of the Independence Day festivities. Go Lucy! xxoo


Desiree with her Independence Day manicure 2011


It is that time of year again, when Cozumel stops for a few days to enjoy the festivities of our Independence Day. Information on the festivities can be found on Cozumel 4 You. We will have fireworks tonight and music and food tomorrow. 

The "Grito de Dolores" and the history of Independence Day in Mexico can be found on Wikipedia here.

Even the State Department got in on the act, when Hilary Clinton sent us a message for our Independence Day. That message can be viewed here.

And if you happen to be in Cozumel, there will be a great party at Woody's on the square. It is also to celebrate the owner, Nelly's, birthday. She is a super gal and a client of ours. She will make you feel welcome. Visit Woody's facebook page here




Viva Mexico!


Sep 2, 2012

Pregnant Ladies' Parking Spaces

Amber days before her baby was born
I gotta say, Amber looked exactly like the sign post a few days before her darling little daughter was born. Note that it says the space is reserved for "Futuras Mamás." I love the fact that we have spaces up front for pregnant ladies at Mega. I love even more that they are on the honor system, and the signs seem to be respected. 

Now the whole world wants to know, what are Amber and Rodrigo naming the baby?

Best of luck with your new bundle of joy! :)

Aug 17, 2012

Transported Back in Time with Rye Bread

Homemade salad with rye bread from Holland
Today I found a brick of bread labeled Rye bread, Pumpernickel, from Holland. Amazingly, a small brick of it weighed 500 grams. Being from Cincinnati, Ohio, I love rye bread. Growing up we had 26 varieties of rye bread available to choose from. I am lucky to find one hard loaf of Centeno Negro in either Chedraui or Mega, so this was quite a find. It was in the international section by the sliced ham and turkey at Chedraui.

But when I opened it up, to my utter delight, it was so much more than expected. This was not any ordinary rye bread. This was like the brown bread my mother used to make. As I took the first few bites before my salad was prepared, see the photo above ... I was transported back in time. 

I was a girl of 10 or 12 again, helping my mom in the kitchen. We had collected cans for a few weeks, cutting out the tops and saving the cans. We used the size that baked beans come in. Then on this special Saturday, my mom would make the brown bread from my grandmother's recipe. She would pour the thick mixture in to the cans and bake them in the oven. When the bread cooled sufficiently, we would turn them upside down, get out the hand can opener and open the bottom. Then I would help push the brown bread through the can and pop it on a plate. Grab a slab of cream cheese and be transported to Heaven.

If any of you have German or Dutch roots or have ever had this type of brown bread and loved it, I highly recommend this treat. I think it was $42 pesos for 500 grams. It is made by ven der Meulen of Holland. I could taste the molasses and for a few minutes, I was no longer in Cozumel. I was back in Ohio, enjoying my Saturday treat with my mom.


van der Meulen Dutch Pumpernickel wrapper

Miss you mom!

Aug 11, 2012

Coffee Filters

Coffee filters at Chedraui on Cozumel
I know I live in a sleepy little town when the discussion online revolves around where Chedraui, one of our local grocery stores, keeps the coffee filters. For years, the only place you could find filters was by the coffee makers. For us from the states, it just seems wrong. The other day, I noticed they are finally also selling coffee filters by the coffee. Now that is progress!

The best price I found on coffee filters was 300 (in 3 boxes of 100 each) at Costco in Cancun. But if you need filters here, Chedraui is the place to go!

Jul 11, 2012

The Magic of Design new website



Our new website,The Magic of Design Furniture & Interior Design,  is now up and running. We have bigger photos that you can sort by room, style or project. New and improved slideshow and our new color scheme and logo. Thanks, Ian, from Communication Common for making us such a wonderful new site. It has been seven years since he designed the old site for us. As much as we loved it, and it was state of the art when it was new, it was time for a change. 




I love it. Hope you do too. If you have any comments or questions, we would love to hear from you.







Jul 10, 2012

La Choza Restaurant: a Wonderful Cozumel Tradition

La Choza Restaurant
La Choza, on 10 near the corner of Rosado Salas, is one of my favorite restaurants in Cozumel. The Peralta sisters have been serving up great food for years, and their enthusiasm and pride in their wonderful restaurant shows. I hear there is a brother involved as well, but I know the three sisters as they buy furniture from our store. Always with a smile on their faces, they come see  me and are serious buyers, not shoppers, and I am always glad to see them.


One of the owners, Maria Carmen Peralta


The famous Cristian








When I can between appointments downtown, I stop for their fabulous breakfast. I get scrambled eggs with ham and cheese and it is always served with delicious beans on the side. The wait staff couldn't be nicer and I know at least one of the sisters is in the kitchen making something wonderful.


Their colorful and festive location has wonderful murals and decorative touches to remind us that Mexico is a fun and friendly place. And the chips with their famous salsa cannot be beat. 










Enjoy a margarita or beer, or as I do, a fresh squeezed orange juice. Que rico! (Literally how rich, but means really tasty!!!)

Jul 2, 2012

Mayair Flight: What a Delight

Mayair Cancun to Cozumel


Today was one of those perfect days. I went to Cancun on a Mayair flight that was full in the morning. A little bumpy, but fine. The driver who was supposed to pick me up either forgot or couldn't find the keys to the truck (for those who live in Cozumel, you can totally relate ... us foreigners usually walk around never really knowing what is going on and it isn't a language barrier. I think it is a polite thing. Nobody wanted to admit they just forgot about me. LOL) So I walked to Terminal 2, hopped on a bus, went to downtown Cancun and grabbed a cab to my first appointment. A few errands later, I ended up at Costco. They sure don't have as many things as they used to, but I still found a lot of treasures for both business and personal use.

Off to my freight forwarder to load the truck with furniture and back to Mayair at the Cancun airport Terminal 1. The flight back was a delight. There were only two passengers, an employee and the pilot. I love the new pilot. He has braces and is very cute when he smiles. We were in the little 4-seat Cessna so were able to fly very low. The green colors in the water on the Cancun side, the ebbing and flowing of the slight waves, the wonderful mistiness in the middle as we made our way back. Then to see beloved Cozumel. Everybody should see this island from a small plane sometimes. It makes me fall in love with it all over again.

What was even more amazing about it is I left on the 8am flight and was back in Cozumel a little after 4pm. In  the old days using the ferry with all the errands I ran, I would be looking at getting back between 9 to 10pm.

Thank you, Mayair. More information on their flights can be found here.


Jun 20, 2012

Cozumel: A Day at the Beach



These wonderful beach photos were taken on the east side of Cozumel and are courtesy of This is Cozumel.










Enjoy!

Jun 6, 2012

Galo Ramirez: artist extraordinaire

Galo posing with a 15 ft. painting he worked on in Cancun


Galo Ramirez is an old soul. He is also an incredible artist. Like a Renaissance man, he is a professional in many mediums - paintings, murals and statues for starters. He has worked in Cozumel for years and had many exhibitions on the island and elsewhere. Even though he is from Mexico City, he is a true Cozumeleño. Laid back, sincere and with a charismatic personality, it is impossible not to like him. I think he is terrific. I consider him not only an artist I like to work with, but a real friend.

Galo has a studio in his home at the corner of 25 and 1 South. Whenever the door is open, it signifies you are welcome to go in. He greets you with a handshake as if he has always known you, offers tea or a more adult beverage. He shows you with enthusiasm what he has in his showroom, but that is only the beginning. He also displays many of his works elsewhere. We have dressed models with his paintings. I especially love what he did with the Penthouse in Palmar Condominiums. I also have his paintings on the walls in our showroom, The Magic of Design.


Palmar penthouse model with contemporary art from Galo
Hall piece in waterfront condo
He has worked with clients of ours to finish the decoration of their condos. For example with our clients, Dr. Lourell and Lynda Sutliff, - once the furniture was in place, he went to meet them and together they chose five paintings that complement the interior furnishings. They are terrific.

Sutliff painting to complement the furniture

Jazz series painting that coordinates with the room



For Kandy Stahl and Chuck Long, they had some of his paintings in their home in the states they brought down. They also added more once they arrived to live here full-time. Kandy and Chuck are collectors of art and artifacts from many local artists. More about some of their other pieces in another post!

One of the most exciting projects I worked on with Galo was a painting five meters wide (about 15 feet) for a client of ours in Cancun. I worked on the furniture with the owners and we picked a beautiful, bright geometric print fabric from Germany for the accent pillows. This fabric then became the theme of the project. (I will try to dig up the sample to add here at some point.)

There were chocolate sofas, cream leather chairs, dark chocolate woods and red accent chairs. The geometric print worked to tie it all together. Sandy and Luis, the owners of the new 5,000 sq. ft. home, met with Galo and me to discuss their wall painting. They wanted it to be special. The couple flew from Cancun for the day and we visited the exhibition that Galo had at the Casa de la Cultura, some paintings he had at Playa Azul hotel and his studio. Luis loves jazz and Galo discovered this in conversation, and Galo has a jazz series of paintings that are super popular and impressive. 


From that, Luis and Galo met a few times to come up with the concept of the painting. I wanted a diptych or a triptych (split it up in to 2 or 3 paintings that flowed from one to the other,) but Luis insisted it be in one piece. This was a challenge as how would we get the painting to Cancun and in to the house? In the end, Galo actually built the frame in the living room and painted it on site. He spent six weeks in Cancun working on the painting.

Here it is in progress:

Work in progress


Here is the final product with Galo and the proud owners! You can see the scale of the piece. It is really incredible!

Final piece créme de la créme
 Galo's work can be found on his facebook page, click here

May 28, 2012

Funny Photo at Cozumel

Don't throw trash!
I have been very neglectful of my Cozumel blog, with traveling and now posting on my Gargoyles & Graffiti blog, with all the great things I saw on my trip. But I couldn't help posting this.


It is a sign that says more or less ... to take care and keep a nice ambiance, show your education level and don't throw trash. All around the sign was trash on the ground. Too funny! Got to love Cozumel. Maybe the trash throwers speak Mayan, instead of Spanish. :)

Apr 22, 2012

Family Lunch on Cozumel













A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to lunch at my sister-in-law's house. I brought along my new camera to try out the panoramic view.  The above photo was everybody eating lunch, taken here on Cozumel. I think the photo came out good, but I have a lot of practicing with my new camera ahead of me.

Apr 18, 2012

The Magic of Design Showroom

Cemera rattan sofa from Pelican Reef


Ashley Cross Island desk and Hillsdale stool


Coaster table & stools




Going down memory lane, I came across some photos of our store, The Magic of Design, that I want to share with our readers. We have been providing interior design services to Cozumel since 2003. We opened our first showroom in February of 2005 in the old house at 10 and 11. In 2007, we moved to our current location. In 2008, we expanded our showroom. 


Coaster dining set




Having a thriving furniture business in Cozumel is tricky. Cozumel is an island, therefore not a lot of people want to invest a ton of money in their furniture, as if they leave, they normally cannot take the furniture with them. We are pleased to still be around, able to provide good quality product and service to the island. Thanks to all of our wonderful customers!


















Update - We have had a brisk few weeks in the store. Every person who came in and bought from us is a repeat customer. That really makes me happy as it means we are doing something right. Thanks to our clients, and thanks to our staff to make it all possible.

Apr 17, 2012

Driving in Cozumel: Be Careful





This has been a very sad time in Cozumel. Locals and ex-pats feel so bad about the accident that took the life of Val Robichaux, the retired physician from Colorado who was killed while bicycling. More information on this accident can be found here. This CNN report was written by the son of the man who died. I would like to send our heartfelt condolences.


People die all the time on the streets of Cozumel, not just cyclists. People on mopeds, tricycles, even walking ... in cars and trucks. It is a tricky place to drive. In the downtown area, the houses are so close to the corners, it is hard to see around. And many, often taxi drivers, merge way out into the intersection to view the cars. My heart stops at least once a day when I think somebody is going to barrel in to me at a stop sign. They have the stop and I don't but sometimes I slam on the brakes. 


Another pet peeve of mine is the "Cozumel right turn." Whether on a moped or a bicycle, the driver will go ahead and turn right when they have a stop and try to squeeze on to the shoulder, even as I am driving straight. No stop at all. And don't even get me started on the buses. One today on the highway returning from Residencias Reef (km. 13 approx.) passed our car after hugging our bumper for a while, then passed another car, then passed a truck with oncoming traffic coming at it. The bus driver swerved to the right to avoid the oncoming car, forcing the truck on to the shoulder of the road. Another near miss, but all I can say is that bus driver is just "an accident waiting to happen."


I would love to hear solutions to our traffic issues. What works? Laws being enforced perhaps, for one. What else? I would love to hear everyone's input, and again our prayers to the family of Val Robichaux.

Apr 5, 2012

Another Blast from the Past





I came across two photos I could not resist posting. One is of Moises and me at Versailles with our then state-of-the-art Sony camera. It took those little hard disks, before the floppy disks. Hard to believe that was only ten years ago ... 2002.




The other photo was taken by my mother-in-law, Daisy, when she and I went on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. This photo was taken in San Juan, Puerto Rico ... Jan 2003.



Mar 30, 2012

The Magic of Design: Parking Lot Madness

Plaza where our store is located on March 30, 2012
Today was the last legal day to pay the fees for license plates in Cozumel. I feel the government is very generous as they allow us a three month leeway to get our license fees paid. They are due in January, but the police do not begin to fine motorists until after the end of March. I think this year is the worst ever, even though the fees ranged less than $20 usd for the mopeds and less than $30 usd for the cars. 


Our store sign is located above the staircase with doors covered with people


The entrance to our store became a mob scene late in the day and the police even came by. Not anything of a violent nature or anything. Just people speaking loudly and playing music, a lot of trash being thrown around and people loitering everywhere. Who would want to wait for this? We paid our fees  on 4 vehicles in January. It appeared to be more individuals than businesses these last 3 days.


I swear every year we will close next year for these couple of days.