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Could you retire at 38? After I read this blog post, I grabbed my Magic 8 Ball.  And the answer is, Reply hazy, try again. 😦 But, Yes, in my imaginary world. Sadly, that world hasn’t become a reality. The Powerball isn’t rolling my way, my bank account hasn’t afforded me a private island yet and I sit in a cube five days a week. I’m knee/hip/chest?-deep in a mortgage, car payment, credit card bills and two felines. It’s sooooo American of me, right?

But, then I hear a story like Billy and Akaisha’s. Or Amy Vanderhoof’s. Or Shayne and Shannon McIntyre’s. I admit, Jealous Jackie comes out. But, Inspired Irene triumphs. I ‘m amazed, hopeful. I mean, for real, Shayne and Shannon travel the world with a bag of surfboards and two kids.

Although it doesn’t look like I’ll be retiring at 38, the dream is alive and kicking me in the ass. If it were just the thought that counted – and not the money – then it’d be possible. Because I think about it everyday. Am I the only 30-year-old (whoa, I just typed 30!) that does research on island life, sailing, raising my 2 cats and a kid (maybe on that kid part; haven’t really figured that life aspect out yet) sans Facebook, iPhone and a 24/7 media barrage? I can’t wait to get out of debt, but it’s not in hopes of buying a Range Rover or upgrading to a platinum wedding ring. (Don’t get me wrong, I would looooove a platinum upgrade!) Instead, I’m opting for a way to retire … get out of the rat race … stop climbing stuff … I mean, what’s not to love about wanting a life that includes making margaritas at 2pm (WARNING: This activity can be dangerous!) and playing eye-spy the clouds at the beach. It’s all I’m asking for … is that too much? Come on, who’s coming with me!!??

Maybe there are more people my age that can imagine life without social media and smart phones? Maybe there aren’t. Maybe I’m loco. Maybe I love rice and beans, the smell of coconuts and the sight of a solid tan line against clear blue waters too much. Now, if I could just learn to like seafood …

Until then, though, I’m content with my debt and semi-private, 30-year financed CBS island with a hammock and a hottie 🙂

I’m sitting in front of a computer.  That means, I’m not on vacation anymore.  That means, I’m bummed.  No more pina coladas, no more Michael Jackson trivia, no more after-dinner shots 😦  Free ice cream at 11 a.m. is gone.  Rock climbing is over.  Free pizza has come to an end.  Back to the real world we go.

For seven glorious days, I was riding the seas of the Eastern Caribbean aboard the massive (4,000+ people!) Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas.  I miss island life.  I miss room service.  I miss watching my brother tear up a dance floor like a 9th grade report card.

Shrimp pasta in lobster sauce!

The entire fam made it on the ship, which was great!  Despite a rocky start (just a little food poisoning to get us moving!), we made it to Port Canaveral.  Our cruising destinations were: Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten/St. Martin.  What was my fave?  St. Maarten 🙂  The French side!  The Dutch side!  The nudie beach!  The free housing for firemen and teachers!  The cheap drinks … I could go on.

View from St. Maarten

You know when you get somewhere and you just feel … comfortable?!  That’s what St. Maarten gave me.  Seeing all the ships moored in the bays made me want to sell my house, quit my job and buy a sailboat.  I could deal with the tourists, the cruise ships sailing in and out, the hurricanes … all for a bit of paradise and amazing views.  Ahhh, if only… lotto, anyone?

Check out more of my cruising pics here.

When I was in the 7th (or 8th?) grade, my basset hound Snoopy had puppies.  (Side note: They were the cutest freakin’ things in the world.  We had tri-color and brown and white ones!  The neighborhood girls would knock on our door and ask to play with the puppies.)  When we sold the puppies, my brother and I split the profits.  Get money!  I thought it was going to start raining Nintendo games and Z. Cavericci jeans.  It didn’t.

Instead, my mom made me put 1/2 the money into a mutual fund that she found out about.  The company literature looked like a Highlights magazine had swallowed it and spit it out complete with games and cartoon-y pictures.  It showed me how much money was in the account and how much it was growing (this was in the good ol’ market days, I guess).

And grow it did.  I think only put like $250 in there, and when I graduated college … I emptied it.  It was enough to buy me a return ticket to Rome, Italy; a Eurorail pass; a lot of hostels; my first Birra beer; one night at an amazing hotel in Venice (we splurged); a rental apartment in Cinque Terre, Italy for two days; a ferry trip to Corfu, Greeze.  It was amazing.  I learned about culture.  I learned about food.  I learned about traveling, and my friends, and myself.

I’m not really sure how to bring this together … but, anywho, I was reminded of my Europe trip when I read this article about McDonald’s taking their corporate stick and pushing it into the mouths of the Italians — Italy minister defends boost for McDonald’s burger.

I know the locals need their fast food … but, why don’t you see chain restaurants from Italy, or Japan, or Australia, or wherever, infiltrating our market?

I’m backtracking here for a sec.  Thanksgiving.  The four-day weekend was much-needed and very welcome.  I wanted to take the four days and go on a bender of sorts — lots of eating, drinking and sleeping.  Not necessarily in that order, though, it would make sense in that order 🙂  And, to my surprise, great success!  Anywho, and now that the pictures are off the camera (hence this belated themed post), thought I’d share some of the fun we had.  In the kitchen, at least.

My bro, CK1, had Thanksgiving at his pad this year and offered up the staples of turkey, stuffing and mashed hella’ good potatoes.  Seriously, could have eaten the whole bowl by myself.  So, I decided I wanted to make butternut squash ravioli.  Taking on this task (along with a recipe from Michael Chiarello that I very loosely followed), I realized, yet again, how much I love my KitchenAid.  I love it like I love sporks.  As in, I know it’s not a must-have kitchen gadget like, say, a fork or fire extinguisher.  And, like a good knife, using a KitchenAid makes you feel like a pro.  Martha uses a mixer like this, Emeril uses one, too; I must be channeling Martha and Emeril.  Not.  Sans Martha, I still manged to squeak out some semblence of butternut squash ravioli.


And outside the kitchen, JP and I managed to dust off our bikes and get some exercies and fresh air.  We biked downtown on Thanksgiving night, which was a quick 10-minute ride!  Good to know!  With that ride under our belt, we felt confident we could do it again.  So we did.  On Sunday (or was it Saturday?), we made our way to the beach.  Blue skies and perfect puffy clouds made for some good scenery!


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