Lunch in St. Barts

When we vacationed in St. Martin last month, we made a decision to also visit Anguilla and St. Barts since those islands/countries are 30-40 minutes from St. Martin. Each experience was quite different from each other. St. Martin was an international hub for those wishing to escape winter, Anguilla for those wishing to escape people, and St. Barts for those wishing to meet the rich and famous.

The ferry ride from Philipsburg to St. Barthelemy was very bumpy as the winds are notoriously strong during the winter months. Luckily my husband and I do not get sea sick and we had a lot of fun during the ferry ride. We were greeted by French officials, speaking only in French (of course) and taking delicate time to look at our passports.

Once permitted to enter the beautiful volcanic island, we took a look at the marina and were enchanted by the many restaurants, bistros, and shops. The first shop that we entered was Dolce & Gabbana and there he was, Domenico Dolce. The boutique was new and he stopped by to help decorate it. They asked us to join a fashion show and after party but we were there just for the afternoon and had to politely decline.

We visited a number of boutiques, had some fabulous lunch at La Cantina and walked around the mesmerizing marina. We also had amazing cappuccino at Le Repaire.

St. Barts is the French riviera of the Caribbean. The population there looked like they were mostly of European decent and while having lunch in La Cantina, I was taken back to my time in Paris. I enjoyed observing the French, their gestures and depth of conversion (they could have talked about plumbing, and we probably still would have enjoyed listening to them), the way they held their cigarettes in such an elegant way and the way they gazed at us. It was charming.

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St. Martin in Winter (Adults Only)

After my husband and I were brave enough to take our toddler with us on an international trip in the summer to Costa Rica, we soon realized that there is no such thing as a vacation with children. Trips yes, but not a vacation.

Let me me make a clear distinction here for those that do not have kids. A vacation is a temporary period in a person’s life where you completely surrender to yourself and your own needs. You focus on what YOU would like to explore during this period in time and you relax. You wonder around or you simply do nothing. You enjoy a meal for as long as you would like and you sunbathe, sleep in, and lounge around for as long as you would like.

This simply does not happen when you travel with children. Sure, you can explore but you have to do it with caution. Sure, you can have a drink, but be ready to down it quickly in case someone decides they no longer want to be in the room or place where they reside at the moment. You may also be able to check out a beach and catch some rays but you will do it while building sand castles and such.

Alas, we booked our official “vacation” in 2+ years and although it wasn’t easy leaving the little one for an entire week but did make it easier with FaceTime. We are also lucky enough to have a pair of extra hands and who else can best replace a parent, than a grandparent.

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Marigot Bay

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View from Fort Louis

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Philipsburg Marina

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Overall, the experience was incredible. We met so many interesting people and explored so much that I am not sure if this qualifies as a relaxing vacation that we intended to have. You will not see a lot of people hanging around the resorts on this island because there is just too much to do.

We also didn’t expect to see such an international crowd. We met Americans, Europeans, South Americans, and those we could not even really identify. I expected to hear a “Jamaican” type accent but it was a dialect I could not understand when heard spoken amongst the natives. They are lovely people and we hope to return one day and bring our son with us.

Anguilla, December 2016

During our vacation planning process to St. Martin, we made sure to include a day trip to Anguilla as it is considered quite the hidden gem in the Caribbean. And that couldn’t be more true, it really is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen.

It was only a 30 min boat ride from Marigot, Saint Martin. After some bumpy waves, we had finally made it there and spent the day swimming in the turquoise water and digging our feet into the warm white sand.

We spent some of the day on Shoal Bay Beach and the rest of the time, we hung out on Sandy Island, a small island with only one restaurant present, five minutes from the main land.

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Shoal Bay Beach

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Approaching Sandy Island by boat.

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Sandy Island

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Great food on Sandy Island’s restaurant.

We also had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people there. From the cab driver Stoney that drove us around the entire island, insisting that we don’t pay him until we depart, to the inspirational couple that decided to take a year off to sail the world (check out their blog here). It truly was an incredible experience.

You can also watch a video of our trip here.

Quick & Easy Blueberry Muffins From Scratch!

My son is obsessed with Blueberry Muffins and I wanted to make something healthy, quick, and delicious for him that he can snack on.

This recipe is based on the Jordan Marsh recipe, which allegedly has a bit of history. The original recipe was used by Gilchrist but was adopted by The Ritz-Carlton in Boston.

It turned out that after Marian Burros wrote an article “The Battle of the Blueberry Muffins”, one reader said that they were actually not from the Ritz-Carlton but from the Jordan Marsh department store.

This version has a lot more sugar and butter, as well as fewer eggs than the Ritz-Carlton muffins. It also requires that the blueberries are meshed which makes them more moist and allows them to stay fresh longer.

I kept the sugar out one time and only sprinkled it on top. I also didn’t mesh the blueberries and both times they came out delicious!

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries, washed, drained and picked over
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
  5. Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
  6. Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove muffins from tin and cool at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day, if they last that long.