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 25, 2013

Christmas Memories: Then and Now

Driving in the car this morning, Moises shared his regrets for not making it out last night. He had a fever and was in bed by nine. But we went this morning and had a Christmas breakfast with his mom and sister and family. It was lovely. Daisy, my sister-in-law, lovingly prepared the turkey (pavo) and pork (pierna), both totally delicious. We bought the French bread to make sandwiches and grabbed some bags of chips at Bodega Aurrera. We ate a four course breakfast with family, and that is what Moises said too as we drove home, that Christmas is about family. Thinking about it, Christmas is about family and friends who have become like family.

me and my three brothers at Christmas


So I would like to share my Christmas memories with you, my blog readers. In my mind, like snapshots, I think of Christmases past. I remember that my dad liked pork roast on Christmas, not the ham that my grandmother prepared. Christmas was crowded around the antique table for fourteen in my grandma’s little dining room, with the oversized chairs that came from Uncle Joe, my grandmother’s uncle. I remember Uncle Joe’s huge ears and the way his house smelled, like moth balls and faded memories. I remember how my grandma always invited strangers who had nowhere else to go, and my father didn’t like that either, grumbling about why he had to spend Christmas with somebody he didn’t know. Grandma invited them anyway, the widow from down the street, a distant cousin we barely knew. The scents of my grandma’s stuffing, her spaghetti with cheese and the turkey my aunt brought from her house. The cookies and the hugs and all the laughter. I also remember my parents in true Mad Men style, they drank cocktails while Uncle Rich chain smoked cigarettes. I miss those Christmases, but all those relatives are now gone to Heaven, never to be played out again. My mom, dad, grandparents, Uncles Rich and Ron, my mom’s sister Peg. I can hear you playing the piano and singing Christmas carols still, Aunt Peggy.

me at Christmas 18 months


Left are my cousins and Uncle Bud in Ohio, my brother in Tampa, my nieces scattered in England and California, so far away for the holidays. Mom, I will never forget how you decorated the day after Thanksgiving, the hundreds of ornaments and figurines you had, the way you loved Christmas. I remember after Mike (my brother) died, Christmas was never the same. My dad cried every year, but you didn’t, Mommy. Even when the Huntington’s disease left you unable to walk or eat properly, you still loved Christmas … and your family. You never forgot me like your sister did when she got sick.

me and Denise at Christmas 8 years of age


So we missed the big celebration last night, but it is now Christmas Day. So filled with promises and hope, and I truly love the way my husband’s family, a true Yucatecan family, never holds grudges or resentments. We didn’t go last night, but we were welcomed this morning. And I realize something; this is my fourteenth Christmas in Cozumel. So now I have a whole new list of Christmas memories … our first Christmas here when our house was new and our dogs just arrived from the states, the year the rains came so strong we could barely drive down 30th Avenue to get to Daisy’s house, the year my husband went to Merida for the holidays (2011), and I celebrated both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with good friends. But we swore we will never be apart again as long as we can be together, and Moises said that too, that he did spend Christmas with his family last night, me.

I remember every year on Cozumel Island as a year having a whole new family to love and care for. I do regret not being able to stop at a friend’s Open House last night or seeing the baby at her first Christmas,  but there will always be next year, and my continuing new Christmas memories of Cozumel.


Merry Christmas to all!

Dec 14, 2013

Baptism Joy

Moises and me with our precious Godchild
Moises and I were honored to be asked to be Godparents to Moises' niece nine month old baby. She was the oldest and biggest of the ten children being Baptized last Sunday at the Corpus Christi Church.

Godparents, parents and baby Isabella


Isabella's gown was made in Merida by hand. My sister-in-law, Karla, supervised and took care of the making of the gown. It was completely handmade and had different types of embroidery. She looked gorgeous in it!

Definitely a Gerber baby moment
Isabella took it all pretty much in stride. In fact, she was actually coming dow with a cold or was it from the cold water poured over her head again and again? She had enough when the below photo was taken, but for the most part, she was a perfect angel.

Isabella after the Baptismal water


The priest that officiated made the occassion very special. He is such a lovely and spiritual man. Thank you, Father!




Dec 1, 2013

Good Luck Ironmen Cozumel!

Photo courtesy of Facebook La Perlita Cozumel page

Ironman competition in front of El Cantil Condominiums 
Swim is complete. Now they are on the bike competition. The photo above was taken by local professional photographer, Armando Alentado. Many locals and tourists alike are waiting for the run portion of the race.


Photo by my friend Heather Bryan


Results soon. Go Ironman competitors! More info on the Ironman Triathlon can be found on wikipedia here. There is also a tracker where you can check on your favorite competitor here. Good luck!




Nov 27, 2013

Some of Our Comfy Sofas

Zia Salsa group
We have had great success with our sofa groups over the last 8 years we have had The Magic of Design Furniture & Interior Design. Most of our sofas and chairs are imported from the states. It makes for comfortable seating. I think these sofas will go really well with the new rustic furniture we are having made in Puebla.


CEN-23 coffee table with drawers in Naples Turquoise finish

We also have chairs that coordinate with our sofas as seen below.


Riley Slate
Riley Slate Accent Chair
Lucinda Quartz

One of my new favorites is the Lucinda Quartz sofa, which will be arriving in a few weeks. I think I would like to combine it with the Hacienda Dining Chair and the Dos Pedestales Dining Table.
Hacienda Dining Chair in Chocolate Finish


Dos Pedestales Dining Table

Oct 16, 2013

Varicose Veins Update

me August 2013

I went for my first treatment yesterday for the hidden varicose veins. The bad news is that it hurt like hell. Dr. Morales Bravo said that people with narrow veins feel more pain with the injections. Also the smaller the vein being treated, the more I would feel it. So the spider veins are more painful to treat than the larger veins. The good news is I have no swelling, no bruising, my legs look better already and I slept reasonably well. 

After twenty injections (I counted the band-aids as I took them off), my legs felt like a bit of a pin cushion with various aches and pains last night. But this morning, other than a general tiredness, I feel pretty good. The amazing news is that the spider veins are already going away on one leg. The other leg, where he did four injections close together, is still full of spider veins - but they should fade with time. The most pain I have is in in right calf where he treated the one vein that was really hurting beforehand. 

I highly recommend Dr. Morales Bravo and this treatment. If you have any symptoms of circulation problems - like heavy legs or leg cramping at night, see spider veins on your legs or get swollen legs or ankles - it is definitely worth a visit to your GP. He or she can check the pulse in your foot to see if the blood is flowing properly. If not, you could go to Cancun or any vein specialist. I am really glad I took care of it now before it got worse. More information on the treatment I had, sclerotherapy, can be found here on Mayo Clinic's website. For information on Dr. Morales Bravo in Cancun, click here.

Oct 1, 2013

Old Lady Road Map



Courtesy of Dr. Morales website (definitely not me.)



If you had asked me at twenty whether I would want an Old Lady road map, I probably would have said no. Why worry about tomorrow? That’s how I was in my teens, twenties and even in to my thirties. Even at 58, I talk myself in to believing I am still young. I ignore the crow’s feet and laugh lines around my mouth. I look in the mirror at times and wonder who that person is that stares back at me, but I convince myself that I don’t look all that much different.

I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and seafood. I limit red meat and pray I get enough fiber. I lost thirty pounds two years ago and religiously keep track of my carbs, protein and fat. I get my blood work done to know my cholesterol and triglycerides readings. I am checked for sugar and blood pressure and it all looks really good. I feel for my age, I am a healthy person. But once again since I have no Old Lady road map, a health issue has come along that surprised me.

Having sore legs the last few years really didn’t come as a shock. I work on my feet, run around all the time and almost never sit still except while doing computer work. Even then, I get up a lot and try to stretch. I go to the gym and attempt to work on cardio. I do like to walk. Then last month due to some canceled flights, I ended up on seven flights in five days. When I got home, my legs felt heavy and weird, swollen. Everybody told me to keep my feet up and drink more water. But I do drink water, probably at least three liters a day. I don’t drink anything else. No soda, juice or alcohol. But it didn’t seem to help.

Finally after a month of this, I went to Dr. Cruz and he ran all the blood work to make sure it wasn’t something serious. It wasn’t my kidneys, liver, sugar or blood pressure. All normal. He checked the pulse in my foot and said it felt weak. So he suggested I go to a vein specialist to see if I had a blockage from all that travel. He was concerned for thrombosis or a clot.

My appointment was yesterday. The doctor, Dr. Morales Bravo, in Cancun, a vein and vascular surgeon, looked at my veins with a type of ultrasound and showed me the problem. I have hidden varicose veins. Can you imagine my surprise? I know I had ugly spider veins, but I don’t have varicose veins, I screamed. You are confusing me with my grandmother, who had the gnarly, ugly beasts sprouting from her calves. He told me that he needs to do six to eight treatments of sclerotherapy.

It was quite disturbing when I read about it that the doctor actually kills off the vein that is varicose, and he reroutes the blood to another vein. Who knew that we have 400% of the veins we need in our bodies? Again something that would be helpful to explain in the Old Lady road map.
More info on this procedure can be found here from the Mayo Clinic.

The good news is I had no blockage or clots. I spent last night going back and forth if I should do the procedures. Since I have symptoms, it seems I really have no choice. By the way, it was not due to any lifestyle choices, but purely genetic. Varicose veins run in families. 

After reading both Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic’s websites, they both recommend the procedure I am getting for my problem. I also got a personal referral from a neighbor, who has been going to Dr. Morales for four years. She could not have recommended him more highly.


So my post is two-fold. One is introduce the idea of the Old Lady road map, that I think a lot of us could use and would be happy to buy. Now somebody just needs to write it. The second reason is to alert other women my age about this problem. Since I saw no veins popping out of my skin, I assumed I was fine. Varicose veins start long before, hidden away undetected to the normal person. It turns out one in five women over 50 will have some type of problem with their veins. Since we have all become so much more attuned to tracking our blood pressure and diet to arterial hypertension, it is probably a good thing to also know about this type of hypertension. If you have spider veins, there is a good possibility you could have varicose veins hidden away, espcially if you have a family history of varicose veins. My suggestion is to get the ultrasound in Cancun, especially if you have any swelling or heaviness in the legs, as I did. The visit costs $600 pesos. You can find out more information on Dr. Morale’s website, here.



Sep 16, 2013

Cozumel Fireworks in the Rain Rain Rain

Independence Day photo courtesy of Bill Bryan


The theme of this year's Independence Day festitivies is rain, rain, rain. We are now on our third week of rain. Hard to believe but true. Not complaining as the rains keep the ocean cool and prevent a hurricane coming our way. But I have to admit, it is getting kind of old.

Fireworks photo courtesy of Bill Bryan



Around 11:30 last night, I was woken from a light sleep by the fireworks. I wasn't sure they were even going to have them. A few hours earlier, we had guests at our gate, well really not guests, but locals who had gotten stuck in the rain and hid under our car port (glued to our gates) ... one even had a moped. We went to bed, so not sure how long they were out there.

Another shot by Bill Bryan


Happy Independence Day, all! It is still raining.

Sep 1, 2013

Cincinnati Visit Part 2

Bobby Lammert and family
You know the old saying, you can't go home again. Well I did, but boy was my memory lousy. I happened to sit in a room across from one of my brother's best friends for many hours and never realized who he was. My brother even gave me prompts, like remember Bob this or Bob that. But the guy I remembered was named Bobby and was thirty years younger! Sorry, Bobby Lammert, and if you make it to Cozumel, I promise to cook you that flank steak you liked so well.

We have a new tradition of meeting up each summer, my brother and his girls and a few select friends of my brother. One of the ones I enjoy speaking to and also talk to throughout the year is Liz. She is just such a wonderful, warm and together person.


Liz and me

The other is Tom, who shared his home with all of us. He has been a constant in the lives of my nieces and really like another Dad. I am honored to call him my friend.


Tom, my brother's good friend


One of the highlights of the Cincinnati visit was a party that my niece, Sarah, put together for us to see our first cousins, Julie and Lisa, their children and spouses and one of my favorite people in the whole world, Uncle Bud. Everybody should have an Uncle Bud, a guy who always believed in us, clowned with us and loved us unconditionally.


Uncle Bud



Our cousins Lisa and Julie
Seeing Jule and Lisa again was awesome. It was a tiny bit sad as their mom passed away in January. But she will live on in all our memories, love you, Aunt Peggy. I really need to pull out some of the old photos with Bud with Elvis hair and Peggy with her beehive and cat glasses. I just love those old photos!


Adorable Emmet with one of the puppies

One of my favorite photos from that day was of my cousin Lisa's younger son, Emmet. What a doll and of course, he is holding a puppy!



Aug 31, 2013

Cincinnati Visit Part I

Me in Cincinnati
Now home almost a week, I can finally clear the cobwebs of my brain and begin to tackle all the emotions a trip back to Ohio brings. It had been seven years since my last visit. I feel like I am reciting how long since my last confession. It is almost the same process. Each visit back brings the ghosts I think I have finally put to rest running about again.

Good points of my visit ... seeing family and friends, visiting my parents' graves, staying at a wonderful place (Mariemont Inn) ... more to come about that on my Gargoyles & Graffiti blog. Great food and beautiful architecture. I forgot how gorgeous Cincinnati is.

Bad points of my visit ... feeling the void of my aunt's passing, worrying about the health of one of my favorite relatives, seeing how old everybody is ... when I don't see them, they don't age ... and just having too little time. Always too little time.

Gorgeous lobby of the Mariemont Inn


My cousin Julie & her three children


And of course the theme of the trip ... puppies, puppies and more puppies. My brother now has twelve dogs, of which four are to be sold. The rest are Bella, Worley, Paisley, Chocy, Churchy, Tinkerbell, Rocket and not to be forgotten Baby Ruth. The four puppies entertained my cousins' kids for most of an afternoon. We had a great time last Sunday with everybody.

Patrick with one of the puppies


I am always amazed and awed by the friendships my brother has that have endured more than thirty years. Two of his good friends have also become my good friends as well.

Friends Liz and Tom with my niece Emma


My brother Tim with one of his puppies


Last but not least, there is my brother and his two daughters. My niece, Sarah, was visiting from England so that was the main reason I went to Cincinnati. Her little sister, Emma, flew in with her new husband and my brother, Tim was there too. A wonderful time was had by all! And, wow, boy can my brother cook.

My niece Sarah visiting from England enjoying a Margarita


Aug 15, 2013

New Ashley Sleep Mattresses at The Magic of Design

Memory foam mattresses from Ashley Sleep 
Memory foam mattresses are now in stock at The Magic of Design. We are stocking the Augusta series, but there are many other options including plusher memory foam, gel and latex mattresses. The firmest, the Augusta, is set up in the store and it feels Heavenly to me, not firm at all, but supportive. The full article on the new mattresses is available here. These are US sizes and there are two options for boxsprings ... one with feet like we have in Mexico and the other a standard foundation.

Remember, we post news every month. So if you want to keep current with what is going on in the store, like our Facebook page and you will know when the news is available and any sales or specials are running. 

Our 20% to 70% off sale started on July 15th on all in-stock merchandise. Come on by while supplies last.

Jul 31, 2013

Cozumel or Corfu: You Decide

Photo courtesy of Cozumel Diving

Underwater Cozumel is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Having traveled much of the globe, there are few places that compare to Cozumel for its beauty and clarity underwater. I believe I have only found one that is equal. It is at Paleokastritsa Beach on the other side of where the cruise ships dock in Corfu, Greece.


Paleokastritsa Beach at Corfu, Greece


There were signs for scuba diving. I liked that it has the clear waters of Cozumel, but you can see mountains all around. I vote these two places the prettiest waters in the world. Which do you think is more beautiful?

My niece and I had a harrowing trip to get to Paleokastritsa Beach though. We found a taxi driver at the pier. He was driving a new Mercedes Benz four door C series car, I believe. We haggled over a price and finally agreed on 80 euros, if memory serves. What we didn't realize when he agreed to take us to this beach is how short the trip would be. He drove about 120 miles an hour through mountain roads. We were thrown against each other the whole way, we arrived at the beach, he downed 2 beers while we took photos as fast as we could and we were returned in the same fashion. 

If you make it to Corfu, do your best to make it to Paleokastritsa Beach. It is definitely worth the trip. More info on this beautiful beach can be found here.

But if your schedule does not allow a trip to an island in Greece, you can enjoy the same waters right here in Cozumel.



Jul 29, 2013

Sleepy Sunday Stroll Part II

See the people under the structure


 I am not quite sure what this structure is, but there was a man and a little girl relaxing underneath. They may have wanted to stay out of the sun. The only other people we saw ... a man selling from a cart and a couple on the beach further north. It was a quiet time before the madness begins!

Moises taking pictures

Moises continued taking pictures. That was the main purpose of our stroll. He had just taken a photography class from the University here in Cozumel (UQRoo) and wanted to practice what he had learned. 


Coca Cola stand

I don't have a fancy camera and just use my camera on automatic. My goal is more for cool content, and I especially loved this photo of the Coca Cola stand. It is the screen saver on my phone.

Man and his cart on the Malecon of Cozumel Island

There is something almost Havana like of the photo I took of the man tending his cart. The old truck nearby appears well-worn. The trash can is nice and beat up. I could feel the solitude and peace while taking this photo. Can you?



Jul 28, 2013

Sleepy Sunday Stroll Part I

Moises photographing me while I photograph him
Moises and I chose a sleepy Sunday morning to walk around the Malecon area by the Navy base in the north. We parked the car and took a little stroll. Moises had his camera. I had mine. It was around 9am, so the sun was shining but not yet really hot. Humidity was low and there was a subtle breeze in the air. What a great time to do this!

By the airport on Cozumel Island


Sol beeer truck


One of the few vehicles we came across was a Sol beer truck making deliveries to the beachside palapa places.


Statue north end of Cozumel Island

Does anybody know who this is? 




Jul 12, 2013

Towel Buddies & A Trip to El Cielo

Chuck on the boat after a swim at El Cielo wearing Kandy's towel


Yesterday was one of those perfect days. My good friend, Kandy, planned and executed a wonderful surprise birthday party for her husband, Chuck. We celebrated his 60th birthday. Kandy, Heather and Bill worked so hard to pull it all off and it was a great success.


Kandy looking radiant after her dip


We left El Cantil dock around 3pm and lazily made our way down to El Cielo, a spot near Colombia Lagoon, that is known for white sand, shallow depths, clear water and a group of starfish that live nearby. We had a swim that included a rain shower, back on the boat for some great food and then the ride back.


Mary back on the boat

Heather and Desiree resting after their swim

It was an amazing day and I'm glad I took the afternoon off to be with friends. Thanks, Kandy, for inviting me. Happy birthday, Chuck!