Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mexico Days 1, 2 and 3

 I am recapping our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I already recapped the airport and travel stuff, so I a am diving right into our trip. 

Right after we arrived to our condo, we all got unpacked and changed since we arrived around 5:30 pm at our condo. We took some photos of the view and then headed to dinner at Cafe De Olla. We have been there many times before and it offers amazing chile rellenos. That is what my in-laws and I had. The girls shared a quesadilla with beans and rice and Rory had an octopus dish. It was very tender and really good. Plus we shared guacamole. And if you know me, you know that we pretty much had guacamole every day!

Puerto Vallarta Mexico
The view from our condo.

Sutton at dinner. And she definitely had a lot of guac that night!

It may not look pretty, but it was delicious. this is the chile relleno.

After dinner, we stopped for some gelato (for the girls) a couple doors down and then walked back to the condo. We were all exhausted after a travel day.

Sunday morning we grabbed breakfast at Freddy Tucan's and walked around that area for some shopping. I always tell myself to shop early so you are not waiting until last minute and scrambling to find things.

After breakfast which was more of a brunch, we headed up to the pool for many hours. The girls did so well swimming all week. They learned so much and it was great to see that their swim lessons made a difference even a year after stopping them due to covid.
The view from the rooftop pool.

That blue X is to keep people apart. If you are with family, you can move your loungers close and hang out, but otherwise, they ask you to keep apart.

After spending about 4 hours at the pool, we got ready and headed to dinner. This time we went to a new to us place called Sonorita Olas Atlas. They specialize in their al pastor tacos. We love our Panchos Takos, but knew it would be difficult for 6 of us to go there with the long lines and small restaurant. 

We got an order of guacamole and chips, watermelon margarita's for Rory and I, a half order of grilled onions and then tacos. I got the al pastor tacos with poblano peppers and onions and the girls got flank steak tacos. The girls loved their tacos and I think we finally got them moved from deconstructed tacos to the real deal.

Watermelon Margarita

I am still dreaming about these tacos.

After dinner, we walked around for a bit and then headed back to the condo. We relaxed on the patio and all just chatted until bedtime.

Monday morning we headed to another favorite breakfast place, Coco's Kitchen. On the way, we had to stop and get some cash from the ATM and Rory snapped this photo of the girls and I. Look at their dresses and how adorable they looked!

After breakfast, we walked around some more, did some more shopping and scoped out a ring for me and my MIL. Then we headed up to the pool and spent another 4 hours there. The pool was on repeat daily and so much fun. I sadly didn't capture many photos on Monday.

That evening we headed to Joe Jack's Fish Shack where we once again split guacamole and chips and I had shrimp and chips (fries). Rory had the combo fish, shrimp and chips. My MIL had a burger and my FIL had a sea bass special. Everything was amazing and we ended the dinner with our favorite coconut pie. I live for this pie!

After dinner we headed down to Los Muertos Pier to take some pictures and show the girls the pier and the sunset. These pictures don't do it justice.

The view from the pier looking out to the Bay of Banderas

Los Muertos Pier
Los Muertos Pier

Puerto Vallarta at night

We made our way back to the condo and chatted until bedtime. As you can see our vacation is pretty chill. We spent a lot of time relaxing, enjoying the pool and eating our way through Puerto Vallarta. Stay tuned for the next couple days in Puerto Vallarta!
Monday, March 29, 2021

Mexico During the Pandemic

I want to recap our Mexico trip, but first I wanted to share with you what it was like being in Mexico during the pandemic. Where masks were required, occupancy limits, safety, etc.

And a picture of the girls in Mexico to brighten this post up!

Now this applies to the state of Jalisco which is where Puerto Vallarta is. When I read the rules, it said that most mandates had been lifted as of February 12th. I am not sure which rules they were referring to as PV mimicked the United States quite a bit with more checks.


We had to wear our masks in our condo building in all areas other than our condo and at the pool which is a roof top pool. We did not have to wear our masks on our condo patios either. We had to wear masks to enter into a shop or restaurant but could take the masks off when we were seated for food. If you had to go to the bathroom, you had to put your mask back on. 

Even though they sold fabric masks and we saw others wearing them, they encouraged everyone to use the disposable masks. We brought them so we could throw them away often (cutting the ear pieces first) as the girls tended to drop theirs numerous times.

We did not have to wear our masks while walking around outside nor at the beach.

Temperature Checks

This is one that I was not used to. Sure I get the temperature checks at doctor's offices, but we had a temperature check upon going into any restaurant whether it was an indoor or outdoor restaurant. Some restaurants used the infrared scanners (which I am sure are expensive) and some were just the touchless thermometers. 

We also got checked every time we entered into our condo building.

Hand Sanitizer

Before we entered into a restaurant or shop, we had to have a squirt of hand sanitizer. And our condo building gave us the option of the hand sanitizer or washing your hands.

Covid Tests

As you may have seen, but you have to have a negative Covid test before entering into the United States. This has to be done up to 72 hours prior to your plane departing. We did this on March 18th and our flight was March 20th. We were all negative thankfully.

Now to schedule your tests, many hotels offer it for free if you stay with them. Since we were not staying in a hotel, we had to schedule our own. Prior to leaving, I was on the Trip Advisor forums looking up all information on Puerto Vallarta during the pandemic and part of that was the Covid tests.

The US/Mexico relationship changed and allowed for us to get the antigen test instead of the PCR test which saved us a lot of money. You can try to get it covered by your insurance, but I declined to go that route since we got ours done for 650 pecos each or about $31 each. We just budgeted this into our plans and our money allotment.

Also, I recommend going on TripAdvisor and seeing how to set up your appointments ahead of time. I found a forum with an email address for someone in Puerto Vallarta through the hospital system. I emailed her about our interest and she emailed me back with all the information I needed to provide. I had to provide full names matching the passport, where we were staying, DOB, email address, date you want to be tested, and where we were flying back into to determine the type of test. I did this for all six of us and we got our appointments set up. 

We were also told that we could have waited until we were in Mexico and gone to one of the 4 testing places to schedule it when we arrived. I wanted to schedule ahead of time to make sure we were all taken care of prior to our vacation. No need to stress when you are on vacation about these things.

We were instructed to fast for two hours and bring in our passports. I wondered about the fasting for two hours, but when we took our test, we understood why. Now I am not sure if you have had a Covid test in the US. I have had two and they were nothing like this.

I went back with Avery and Rory went back with Sutton. My in-laws went back one by one by themselves. They have you sit down, put your head against the wall and then they stuck a brush like swab way up your nose. I know this is how they used to do it, but I am not sure if they used a brush like swab. They scrapped around and took cells from way up in your nose. They only did it on one side, but it hurt and was awful. Since I had surgery 3 times on my nose, this was awful. Avery and Sutton cried and Rory gagged. And when he said he gagged, we all knew why we were instructed to fast. They don't want you throwing up. 

We got our results within 2 hours and they were emailed to us. It included a QR code which we showed when we got to the airport to check in. We were not able to check in online the day before as you have to provide your negative test. 

So upon checking in, they scanned our QR codes and verified our negative results along with our passports and then we were able to obtain our boarding passes.

Social Distancing

We were told to social distance if you can at 1.5 meters. I feel like this was more of a suggestion than anything as when we went to the Farmer's Market Saturday morning, no one was social distancing. They didn't separate the tables much if at all in most restaurants. Some did take some tables out, but most were normal.


I guess before February 12th, they had the capacity of restaurants and stores at 50%, but that was taken away. 


Even though Mexico is a third world and developing country, we felt very safe in Puerto Vallarta. We did not feel that we were going to get Covid there. People and places take precautions and in some instances we felt they were even more controlled than in the United States.

Do you have any other questions on traveling to Mexico during the pandemic? What was your experience if you have been there since the pandemic started?

Friday, March 26, 2021

Friday Favorites and Happenings

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

Happy Friday all! I can't believe March is almost over. This month flew by. April brings Easter, my mom's birthday, warmer weather and all the flowers. So many good things to look forward to. And I feel like I am finally recovered from daylight savings time. We were in Mexico when the time changed, so we went from 2 hours ahead to one hour ahead and then back again. It took all week to finally feel normal again.

Anyways, onto Friday favorites and happenings.

ONE. Before our trip to Mexico, I bought some black sandals. I have been searching for a cute pair for a couple months now and nothing stood out to me. Ok, nothing that was reasonably priced. I have always wanted the Miller sandals by Tory Burch and now I want the Miller Cloud version. Anyways, I didn't want to spend $198 on a pair of sandals. 

I went into Target to grab some of my kids favorite protein bars and check out the sandals. I tried on three pairs and went with the one below. And they held up beautifully in Mexico. 

Anamaria Toe Loop Strappy Sandals

Side note: my last pair of black sandals was also from Target. They were a gladiator style sandal that I wore for 2 or 3 years and they broke two months ago on a warmer day when I wore them.

TWO. Speaking of the girls favorite protein bars, I have never shared them here. My girls are obsessed with these. They have one every school morning. They eat it on the way to school and then they have their breakfast there about an hour later. This keeps them from complaining about hunger. And they remind me of those carnation breakfast bars I used to eat as a kid. But these are better for you. We have tried all three flavors: chocolate chip, vanilla and peanut butter cup, and the chocolate chip is the girls favorite.

Think! Kids Protein Bars

THREE. This Tuesday was Rory's birthday. Last year his birthday was right after the pandemic started and we didn't get to celebrate him properly until a few months later. We had presents and pizza at home last year. This year, the girls made Rory some birthday cards, we gave him a gift and then him and I went out to dinner for his birthday. 

Usually we surprise the birthday person with dinner, but this year I let him pick. His first choice has a strict reservation policy where groups of two have to be paired with groups of 6 and we couldn't find a time outside of 5 pm and 9 pm. It was for a teppanyaki style dinner. So he went with his second choice of a steakhouse. We went to Land and Ocean. They have several of them all over the US, but this was our third time going there. 

For dinner we had steaks, a cheesy potato skillet, asparagus, lobster and some mushrooms (on Rory's plate). We started dinner off with an amazing calamari that had onions and peppers in the same batter with an amazing aioli on it. We didn't have dessert as my in-laws brought Rory four different desserts from a local bakery that we love. 


steak and lobster

The birthday boy.

This is just one of the desserts. We ate the other three with the girls Wednesday night.

FOUR. As part of Rory's gift, I got him some amazing lounge sweatpants. My hairstylist told me about the brand Vuori and I was looking for something for myself (but didn't get anything YET) and decided to get him something. They are cheaper than Lululemon but I heard they are just as amazing. I will report back after Rory wears these. I have my eye on some joggers.

Vuori Ponto Performance Pant

FIVE. Weekly funnies.

Especially when he is on work calls.

I too spent way too long laughing at this.

I am almost there.

I know my husband would want this too.


Have a great weekend. I am linking up with A Little Bit of Everything.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Traveling During the Pandemic

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

You might have guessed from my lack of comments and interaction last week that we were in Mexico. We finally got to go on our long awaited vacation. This was our first time traveling during the pandemic. I mean, we have gone 3 hours (by car) over to California, but we haven't been on a plane in a year. So crazy to think about that. But I wanted to document some of the airport/travel stuff and then I will do another post on what it was like in Mexico during the pandemic. Plus our time in Mexico.

Now prior to departing, we were updated via American Airlines that we had to fill out a health survey to get into Mexico. We were given a link in an email and I filled out one for each of our family members and took a screen shot of each entry to have the QR code to show upon arrival into Mexico. This basically takes care of the forms you used to fill out prior to entering another country. But this time, it was more health and Covid related.

We were also instructed via email and at the airport that we must wear our masks at all times unless you are actively drinking or eating. We bought some disposable masks via Amazon (here) for us adults and then some for the kids via Costco (but you can find similar ones here on Amazon). The girls did great wearing their masks and only pulled them down under their noses a few times. Then we told them to bring them back up. And everyone on the airlines were amazing. 

Here are some shots from each of our flights just to give you an idea on what it was like flying right now.

Masked up and sitting next to my Aves. This was a small flight with only 2 seats on each side.

Rory and Sutton. They only took their masks down for the photo.

This was on our flight to Puerto Vallarta. I was sitting next to Rory's parents.

Look at how empty our flight was. Also, the guy behind us, we flew with his family to and from Mexico on all flights. We didn't know them, but now we do and have a lot of friends in common.

Our flight was again pretty empty on the way from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles that Rory and I each had one of the girls in a row to ourselves.

When we got on the airplanes, we were given sanitizing wipes to wipe down our whole areas. We used these plus some that we brought with us.

Now I also want to point out that most of our flights were pretty empty, but one of them was completely full. This means we were all sitting next to each other and it just seemed weird. If you have to social distance in the airport, but then you can sit right next to a stranger, it just didn't make sense. What Covid doesn't count on airplanes?

Anyways, another thing I wanted to point out that was very different was food and beverages on the plane. On our small flights that were an hour and a half, we were not given any food or drinks. Not even water. I wish they would have warned us about this as we would have purchased water in the airport. When we arrived in LA, we went searching for food and about 75% of restaurants and stores were closed. Luckily, we did bring snacks on the plane, but we wanted to get brunch or breakfast in the airport. In the international terminal, only a few things were open, so we all ate something from Starbucks and got coffees (steamers for the girls).

Now onto the flight from LA to Puerto Vallarta, we did get a bag that had the sanitizing wipes, a bottle of water and some biscuit cookies. And we were able to get as many bags as we wanted or needed. This was the same for the flight from Puerto Vallarta back to LA. And we did not get anything on the flight from LA to Reno. Just wanted to give heads up if you travel through any of those airports.

I am not sure if it is different traveling through other airports, but next time we travel, we will bring even more snacks and water bottles (that we can fill up in the airports).

Another change was when we were deplaning, they did it row by row. You had to keep seated until the row in front of you had left their seats and were on their way to the front of the plane. This allowed everyone to stay away from each other.

Another change we experienced was when we arrived in Mexico. When you get off the plane, you head directly to customs which was the same, but this time when you get to the line to enter, you walk through a temperature scan to see if you have a fever. You do this one at a time and then you show that you have filled out your health questionnaire. You also go through the temperature scan before you go through security in Mexico on the way home.

When you get to the customs station, they scan all of your QR codes, they ask you some of the same health questions again, then they ask each person to pull down their masks as they check your passports and stamp them.

Otherwise, everything else seemed pretty normal. They still called us up by group number to get on the airplane. You could still bring your personal belongings on the flight. They still offered flight entertainment. The flight attendants were still very nice. You got your bags the same way and loaded them the same way.

I have another change related to traveling in Mexico, but I am saving it for the Mexico post on what was different.

Next week and the week after, I will have my Mexico posts (our time there) including the traveling through Mexico.

Have you traveled by airplane during this pandemic?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Dyeing Easter Eggs With Cool Whip

This is a repost from last year and two years ago. To my new followers, this is a great way to dye eggs. And to my die hard followers, this is a reminder of a great way to dye eggs.

Note: I have seen a lot of people complain that they did not get the results that I did or that their color completely wiped off. Follow these tricks and tips below and you shouldn't have any problems

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

What you need:

White distilled vinegar
12 large eggs
Food coloring
2 containers of Cool Whip
Disposable pan
Paper towels
Disposable gloves

I made my hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot and they came out perfect. I used Skinny Taste's recipe and they were cooked perfectly, though 3 cracked.

Do it:

1. Soak your eggs in a bowl filled with the distilled white vinegar for 20 minutes.

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

2. While your eggs soak, put your Cool Whip into the disposable container. Side note: I get my disposable aluminum pans at Costco. You get about 30 pans for $6. Total steal and they are good quality.

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

3. Using the food coloring of your choice, add several drops to one side of your pan. Then you can add a second color in if you desire. Repeat this for the other side using other colors.

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method
This isn't enough food coloring, but I just kept adding more after I swirled it until I was satisfied.

4. Using a toothpick or knife, swirl your food coloring in. Make sure it gets swirled in deep into the Cool Whip.
Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

5. Put on your gloves. Take out an egg and pat it dry using a paper towel. Then put your egg in the Cool Whip mixture. Make sure you turn it a couple times allowing the Cool Whip to cover your egg. Leave the egg in the mixture. Let the eggs set for 20 minutes.
Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

6. Rinse off your gloves or get a new pair. Fill a bowl with water and take an egg out of the mixture. Gently place it in the bowl, rolling it around to get off all the Cool Whip. Do NOT run the egg under water. I would do a few eggs and then change the water out.
Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

7. Take the egg out of the water and pat dry with a paper towel. 

8. Store in your egg carton.
Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method

Dyeing eggs using Cool Whip Method
Friday, March 19, 2021

Friday Favorites and Happenings

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

Happy Friday all! This weekend is my mother-in-laws birthday and next week is my husband's birthday. So we have a lot of celebrating to do.

ONE. I recently found the NYX Shine Loud Lip Shine. Say that 5 times fast. Anyways, I saw it all over Instagram how you can wear this all day and it won't get on your mask. I went to three different Ulta stores to find it in a non obscene color. And the closest I found was hot pink. I did buy it since I had a huge credit on Ulta and I tried it out a couple weeks ago on a Friday night when I had dinner with my friends. 

I didn't take a photo as the hot pink was bright. But I did pair it with clothes that worked with the hot pink. I wore my mask into the restaurant and when we left. I drank some wine, water, ate my food and wiped my mouth many times. And guess what...the lip shine never came off. It wasn't on my mask or on the napkin. Total winner.

It is pricey at $11.50 each, but that isn't bad when comparing it to Tarte or Dior which I love to wear both in their lip glosses.

I am on the hunt for another color like Trophy Life or Movin' Up. I will keep you posted. 

Have you tried the NYX Shine Loud Lip Shine?

NYX Shine Loud Lip Shine

TWO. I was going to make a whole post on Easter decor and some of the new items we got, but then decided to add them here since I don't have a ton of Easter decorations. I am slowly adding to our collection, but when some of my favorite home decor stores closed, I missed out on some amazing decorations.

Also, I haven't gotten out the metal baskets and empty eggs that I usually put around the house.

Felt Easter Egg Garland
I got this garland last year and I think it was from Pottery Barn.

Easter Decorations
The light up Easter eggs and bunnies are from Target (from a few years ago).

Easter Decorations
Easter egg and sign (Target from a few years ago), Easter egg candle (and it smells good!)

Bunny Garland
Bunny Garland (gift from my MIL)

Flower Garland (Target dollar spot)

Spring Wreath

Easter Bunny Tray
Easter Bunny Tray (This is my husbands from when he was a child)

Easter Stuffed Carrots
Easter Stuffed Carrots (I put these randomly around the house)

THREE. At my sister's baby shower, one of her friends got her this trail mix below as a snack for her at the hospital. She said they have snacked on this at work and told me it was sooo good. So I bought some at Costco and she was right. It has pretty much everything that I love in a trail mix...almonds, dried coconut, macadamia nuts, coconut macaroon almonds and dark chocolate drops. So good and pretty healthy for you.

Keto Trail Mix
Hoody's Keto Trail Mix (You can get it on Amazon, but it is way cheaper at Costco)

FOUR. I am always on the lookout for good t-shirts and tank tops. And that doesn't mean that they have to be expensive. I loved the American Eagle ribbed tanks last year and even some from Target. I saw that Wild Fable (at Target) had some new racerback tanks and the snaps actually open whereas my American Eagle buttons were just for show. I grabbed a black one and a beige one and they are amazing. They run small. I found this with the racerback tank I bought last year from Target (without the snaps) as well. I usually wear an extra small, but sized up to a medium in these. Plus I got them on sale for 20% off, so that makes them $6.40 each. Such a steal.

Wild Fable Raceback Tank

FIVE. Weekly funnies.

Kids these days. I LOVED the Sandlot!

This will be very real for everyone when things open back up.

This is my kind of meal planning. Minus all the fast food. I would just put money aside for my favorite lunch places.

Have a great weekend. I am linking up with A Little Bit of Everything.