Thursday, 30 August 2012

9 Costly ‘Extras’ to prepare for as Homeowners

9 Costly ‘Extras’ to prepare for as Homeowners
Buying a home is very exciting time.  There is so much to think about with the buying process that people often overlook some of the extra costs that will pounce on you as a new homeowner.  I found this article on an amazing website called but have edited it to fit our Real Estate market in The Bahamas.
When people have a budget in mind for their house they typically factor in the cost of the home, the taxes and fees required for the transaction and then focus on the monthly mortgage payment amount. 
As a potential new homeowner, it is important to factor in the following extra costs so the excitement and joy of becoming a homeowner and fulfilling a dream does not quickly fade and become a nightmare! So, if you’re planning to buy a new home, have just signed the paperwork, or are moving in next week, this list is for you. And if you know someone who's moving in, share this with them.

1. Window Coverings, Treatments, Hurricane Shutters & Security Screens

“Oh, look at all the windows! It’s so bright, so spacious, the views are lovely!” Well, yes they are. But you don’t want people viewing you at night, or looking in whenever they want, so all those windows need coverings. If it’s a new home, you’re going to be spending hundreds (and probably thousands) of dollars on blinds, curtains, curtain rods, tie backs, valances, and shades (even more if you're not too handy and have to have someone come and fit them for you). If it’s an old home, you may be fine for a year or two with what is there, but you’ll need to decide if you want to live with the old owner’s treatments or have your own.  You also need to factor in hurricane shutters and in some locations security screens for added protection if the home you are buying is not already equipped. 

2. Landscaping and Grounds keeping  

Walking around new neighborhoods, you see all sorts of beautiful landscapes. And there, almost always, you’re on your own. Depending on the size of the yard and the HOA rules and restrictions, you could be looking at $10,000 - $30,000 worth of landscaping materials and labor. Want a deck or a patio? That’s even more money. And then you may need sprinklers, irrigation, and other services. If you move into an old home, that’s no guarantee of a great yard.  So, do your homework. See if you can hustle the homebuilder for a finished back yard too, or ask the seller to drop the price to cover landscaping.  Or be prepared to live with it as is until the additional funds come along.

3. Major Appliances

New home builds will sometimes include utilities, but not always. If you buy an existing home, you may not have any appliances included, or they may be old.  So figure on spending a nice chunk of change when the time comes to move in or upgrade.

4. HOA Fees

In Nassau, gated communities are first on everyone’s wish list.  However, Condos and Homes in gated communities come with a Home Owners Association. In theory, they’re a sound idea. They are their to keep the community looking great, and deal with trash collection, playgrounds, community pools, street lighting, common areas, security, and so on. Of course, in practice many people hate the HOA because they extend their reach far beyond what most people consider fair. They can tell you what colors you can and can’t paint your house, what type of blinds and window treatments are allowed, what you can and can’t put in your yard, and the list goes on.  Some are just a few hundred a year, while in the higher-end neighborhoods, you may not see much change out of $1,000 every month! Did you see that one coming? Before you buy, make sure you know what the HOA dues are, but remember, they can go up annually and you have little say in the matter.  Be sure to allow for this in your monthly budget.

5. Furniture

Of course tastes can range from Ikea to custom-built furniture, but what you need to know is that most homeowners completely underestimate the amount of furniture they’ll need. This is especially true when upgrading from your starter home into a bigger home. You may now have two areas for relaxing, a living room and family room. You could also have a den, a library, a nook or study, extra bedrooms, guest rooms, outdoor dining/living areas or even a game room. Depending on what you’re moving into, you could have a very empty-looking house that needs to be filled. Get ready to go shopping.  Or get creative, talk to people who are updating their house, try consignment shops and garage sales.

6. Insurance

There are a few different types of insurance you need to have when buying a home. First, you must have homeowners insurance. If you have a mortgage in The Bahamas you are required to have catastrophe which covers hurricanes. If you live in a duplex or other type of connected building, the insurance may be covered in your HOA dues, but you should also have contents insurance, based on the value of your possessions. Banks also require life insurance policies, which is not substantial but still an extra monthly expense.

7. Property Tax

Property Taxes in Nassau vary depending on the price bracket of your home and occupancy status and it is still another expense to add to the long list of ‘extras’. The good news for first time home buyers is that you have your first 5 years exempt, but take it from me, those first 5 years fly by!  After that the breakdown owner occupied property is: For the first $250,000 of market value is tax exempt, more than $250,000 and not exceeding $5,000,000 of market value is ¾%, more than $500,000 and not exceeding $5,000,000 of market value is 1%. 

8. Utilities

This can be quite a shock, especially the electricity bills in Nassau. And what’s worse, depending on when you move in, you could really get a wake-up call. You will want/need your air-conditioning more in the summer months, so you may budget based on the winter bills, only to be unprepared for summer.  Ask neighbors have they have been paying or be sure to ask the previous home owners during the negotiation process. 

9. Repairs and Maintenance – Who Knows!

One of the biggest unknown expenses of owning a home is the repairs and maintenance costs that can hit you out of nowhere. If you were formerly renting, that was all taken care of. Now it’s all on you. If the water heater breaks, you pay. If the roof leaks, you pay. If you need a new well, you pay. If there are plumbing issues, you pay. And these bills can be steep. You’ll soon find out that hourly labor costs for plumbers, electricians, and builders are usually a lot more than the hourly wage you get paid.  It is important to have a reserve fund for emergency household expenses, and factor that in as a monthly ‘expense’ to put away money into a household repairs fund so when the fridge breaks you have the money to repair/replace it.   

As a licensed sales agent and appraisal associate, I would be more than happy to help you through your home purchasing experience and aim to make it as smooth as possible!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Life Lesson #2 - Always ask yourself - Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?

On my path to self-improvement I have picked up something else I wanted to share with you all. 

Jackie Leavenworth shared this question on Saturday August 11th during a lecture I was attending at the Florida Association of Realtors conference. 

When things are not going right always ask yourself this little question BEFORE reacting "Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?" 

And then just this morning I was reading something and there was the same piece of advice, worded slightly different but nonetheless the same concept! Is someone trying to tell me something? 

If you are cool, calm and collected at all points in life then you are really lucky and I want to be like you! If things do rattle you everyday, sometimes, or occasionally perhaps this short and simple question may be able to bring you closer to being that cool calm and collected person you really aspire to be.  Maybe post it up on your computer, or on your fridge...

Living in this busy busy world, there is lots to get done and lots going on.  One thing goes wrong and it can really throw off your day can't it? Guess what folks, it really does not have to! And if you remember this question you may not be perfect all the time, but I bet it will save you a lot of wasted energy.

It helped me out huge just the day after I heard it - I think it was a test! On Sunday I left the hotel at 9.30am to arrive at the airport for 10am with lots of time for my 12.15pm flight, arrive in Nassau before 2pm and hit the beach with some friends! YAY! Had my bathing suit all ready and was really looking forward to a nice Sunday afternoon.  That was my plan.  

Only I arrived at the airport and found out the flight was already delayed until 2.15pm which would realistically put me in just before 4pm by the time I got my bags, so the beach was out.  Filled with disappointment and emotions starting to build, I asked myself this key question - Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy? Simply an inconvenience.  I thought, well I have all this work to do that I did not get the chance to do while in Orlando, I will find my gate and settle down to do that.  I had a very productive day in the airport, enjoyed a starbucks and the use of the free internet and power socket... not what I had planned but it ended up being not all that bad.  I felt great having put in several hours of work and I was also really proud for not overreacting and wasting energy. All in all I walked out of Nassau airport at 6pm - not my first choice on how to spend a Sunday, I mean for heavens sake I could have almost made it to London in that amount of time... but life happens and you have no control over it!

This scenario could have gone a whole lot differently - When things do not go our way we get upset, angry, say and do things we always end up regretting and lets face it - looking a little bit silly! We also exhaust ourselves with negative energy of stress, which is not good for us!  It is stress that is killing us.  When you are not at a sense of 'ease' you are in 'dis' ease... dis + ease = disease.   

So when something goes 'wrong' and you start feeling those building emotions, before reacting ask yourself 

"Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?" 

(Keeping in perspective that tragedy includes things like severe illness, loss of life, a disaster, 9/11, and other life changing events)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chillin' on a Dirt Road... In Graham, Texas

As you may know, one of my favourite things is to travel and see new places.

In April we went to Texas!  We flew into Dallas/FW and stayed in FW for a couple of nights before heading out to the ranch.

Wildcatter Ranch was everything we had hoped for and more. Neither of us had been on a ranch holiday.  We knew we wanted to relax, in a relatively 'authentic' country style place, have a few things to do, and just enjoy the rugged beauty of the Texas country.  We certainly achieved this staying at Wildcatter.   We stayed at OT's Cabin for 6 nights and we did not want to leave on the Wednesday morning when we had to check out.

Wildcatter Steak House
The Wildcatter Steakhouse on the ridge is superb.  The service there, and actually everywhere on the Ranch was top notch.  The decor of the restaurant is really great as well, country style, but not tacky.  Some of the dining rooms have the most beautiful view from the top of the ridge, and the bar is a great spot to hang.  One of my favourite touches were the latches on the bathroom, like a barn gate.  I appreciate the details.

Beautiful view on the Trail

There is certainly enough for everyone to do.  We went on 3 trails with Jeremy, which were all super enjoyable. The first one was an hour and a half, and we headed up the side of a hill and enjoyed the views from the ridge.  Another time we rode past the cows in the fields and down along the river.   There is canoeing down at the river as well, but unfortunately we did not get a chance to go, we were so busy relaxing :)

Long Horns you can feed every morning! So cute!

The skeet shooting range is awesome! Being a girl, I did not have the experience shooting that my boyfriend did but Jay was very helpful and I did not feel useless at all.  He showed me how to do everything properly and gave me tips to hit more!  We each had massages one day at the Sage Room.  That was early on in our stay and put us in a relaxed state of mind.

Ranger taking a dip! 
The pool area at Wildcatter was designed so well.  It fits right in with the nature look, and the infinity pool overlooks a valley below - there is no better place to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Life Lessons #1 - Looking for the Humor in Life

"The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday" ~ Unknown 

After reading this above quote about a week ago, it has inspired me to try and learn as much as possible to be better than the person I was yesterday... 

If you are aware and make a conscious effort, you can pick up lessons from life everyday... and I thought it would be fun to share the life lessons I start picking up along my journey and perhaps they will also help you also be better than the person you were yesterday.  This first one is definitely for me... I get so caught up on my 'to do' list the day can fly by as a race to get things done and I miss the joy and humor I could have relished in. 

Life Lesson #1 - Always find the humor in a situation - Life is too short to be taken so seriously! 

I had the honor of listening to key speaker, Jeanne Robertson, on Thursday August 9th at the Florida Association of Realtors convention in Orlando.  She is HILARIOUS! I think I will hear her voice every time I hear the word America in her North Carolina accent now! HA! But she had a message... To find the humor in mostly everything each day - being 6'2" at a very young age she learned very quickly that life would be challenging if she did not choose to laugh at herself and find the humor in the situation.  

Jeanne Robertson

It's okay to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, when your day isn't going well, when your spouse makes a mistake or argue about something super trivial, when that person who drives you nuts could easily put you in a bad mood... I could go on and on!  Perception is reality, so if you choose to get frustrated by every little thing you'll lead a stressful life but if you choose to find the comedy in daily life you will enjoy your day so much more and see things from a different perspective! 

So challenge yourself and when you feel yourself getting bothered/frustrated/upset/angry - ask yourself if you can find something funny about the situation? After all isn't it some of the most crazy stressful situations that become hilarious stories that you tell a couple of weeks later? Try and find the humor in them from the start! 

Monday, 6 August 2012

8 Reason’s why you should buy Real Estate in The Bahamas

8 Reason’s why you should buy Real Estate in The Bahamas

  1. It’s a buyers market! Cash is king right now and there are many great deals to be had if you are in the position to buy.  Property prices that were once over-inflated have come back to a reasonable price.
  2. It’s better in The Bahamas! Arrive in the Bahamas and relax.  The pace is slow and the people are friendly.  Grab a Sands beer and hit the beach!
  3. Strong Rental Market – With the new resort of Baha Mar under construction and many contract workers coming in, the rental market is booming.
  4. Our proximity to major cities!  With direct flights to London, Toronto, many cities in the US (Dallas, NYC, Miami, Atlanta etc) it is easy as pie to come to your second home!
  5. Island Hopping is heavenly! – If you have a base in Nassau you can spend weekends on the family islands – explore new places and soak up the tranquility and beauty of the Bahamas.
  6. Currency! – The Bahamian Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar and you can use US dollars one for one in the Bahamas.
  7. Building has now become so much easier! ‘Pre-fab’ homes have come so far and there are now amazing options for hurricane safe beautiful island cottages.  My dream is to buy a little piece of property in Eleuthera with an ocean view and have a 2 bedroom cottage to rent out to visitors, and a get away for us to go when we can! 
  8. Fantastic new developments – Take advantage of developer prices in this buyers market and get great deals. Here are just a few examples: 

PS. I am a real estate agent so contact me at if you are looking :) 

Back to Blogging!

After quite the hiatus from my blog I am back.

2012 has been a whirlwind of wonderful travels and fun adventures but I have certainly missed writing my blog! 

Stay tuned for updates... 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Spring is here! Tips on Spring Cleaning!

Spring is in the air! It’s the time of year that we all feel, or are supposed to feel, compelled to give our homes the once over ‘spring clean’.

This however can seem incredibly daunting and most people do not know where to start.  Even myself, a person close to being OCD with organizing, sees the idea of spring cleaning looming in front of me. 

So, as I am a ‘planner’ I was going to break my ‘plan’ down for me and thought why not share it with my followers. 


STARTING POINT – Break it down… if you are a list writer, write a list of all the rooms in your house and then start with one room in the house, even if it is just the powder room, or start from the back of the house and work forward – whatever works best for you! Identify what needs doing in that room specifically and get to it!  


In each room you will have to do a few things, some of course maybe more.


1.      DECLUTTER! Take a scan of the room and see what you can ‘repurpose’.  So often we just pass things by and do not even notice that ‘watch box’ that you got for Christmas and is still sitting on the tv stand in May, with the 3 links that you will never need.  Go through your closet and think about what you have not worn for the entire year.  Even if I kind of like something, I think – but I have 4 other shirts I would wear before this one and it will not get worn – give it to someone who actually would wear it.  Don’t be afraid to tackle that junk drawer in the kitchen, once you empty it out it will not take long to organize. 

2.      Clean windows – the worst of the spring cleaning jobs and probably the best place to start.  Get the right equipment so it is easy – buy a squeegee and have a good supply of old cloths or tshirts.  Directions: To start, dip a sponge into a bucket of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Wet window; rub dirt away. Dampen squeegee; starting at an upper corner, draw it down pane from top to bottom. Repeat, overlapping strokes and wiping rubber edge with sponge after each stroke. (For large windows, ''snake'' squeegee back and forth; then touch up edges.) Dry windowsills with a cloth.

3.      Wipe down – doors, above door frames, light bulbs, fans, picture frames, light fixtures, blinds, and curtain roads all gather dirt.  Do you have slatted closet doors? It is amazing how much dust gathers in the slats. 

4.      Curtains and Carpets - For synthetic carpeting, rent or buy a shampooer/extractor -- a machine that cleans the fibers and removes traces of soap using hot water. Open windows and let air flow to help carpets dry. If you have wool carpets or rugs, or any that are valuable or delicate, contact a professional for cleaning. Vacuum and steam-clean curtains or have them dry-cleaned. If you'll be replacing heavy curtains with lighter ones as the weather gets warmer, it is especially important to remove dust and dirt before putting the curtains away for storage.




1.      Clean Out the Refrigerator… This task is a daunting undertaking; make it more manageable by breaking it down.

·        The first step is to wipe up spills immediately so surfaces won't become stained.

·        Make it a habit to throw out old food once a week.

·        Every few months, wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Wash removable shelves and drawers in the solution (let glass shelves come to room temperature first so warm water won't crack them).

·        Loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by wetting the area with the solution, allowing the residue to soften. 

·        Use a toothbrush to scrub crannies. 

·        Twice a year, vacuum or brush dust from the condenser coils to keep the system from overheating.

2.      Clean out the pantry.  Had a few old cans, or half eaten bags of chips sitting in there for you do not remember how long? It’s time to purge.  We feel this need to hold on to things sometimes, but if you know you are never going to use it, get it out of there and free up the space.  If canned goods are not expired, donate them to a local soup kitchen or charity.

3.      Organize the Tupperware, pots and pans.  Taking the time to match up lids with containers, and tidy up your pots and pans will save you time in the long run. 



Maintain Household Appliances:

1.      Washer and Dryer – does it need a service?

2.      Air-conditioning vents – do they need cleaning? Summer is approaching and you want your air-conditioning to be working efficiently and effectively.

Restock Housekeeping Supplies

You'll need all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, specific products for problem spots such as mildew in tile grout, as well as natural cleansers such as baking soda and vinegar. Stock up on sponges, rags, scrub brushes, new mop, broom and toilet brush and rubber gloves, too. Looking to go green this year? try The Copper Pot's awesome green cleaning products 


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Ask around in your community, the local Salvation Army, Children’s homes etc are always in need of people’s throw-a-ways.  If you are in Nassau, the Bahamas humane society has a thrift shop and they can actually make money on gently used items that then goes towards the animals. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Life Lived that Matters by Steven Kroschel

I just watched the documentary 'Dying to have known' by Steven Kroschel and it speaks about the Gerson treatment.  It is a wonderful documentary and it ended with this soliloquy which I found very moving.  Tying into the 7 habits of highly effect people, Habit 2 is begin with the end in mind... 

I will group this into my words to live by - alongside my personal mission statement and desiderata :) I hope this inspires a few other people as it has me. 

“For each of us eventually, whether we are ready or not, someday it will come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or on what side of the tracks you lived at the end.
It won’t matter if you’re beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built. Not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered
or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you
are gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.
A life lived that matters is not of circumstance but of choice.”

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Get Involved! Get Involved!

Being involved in charity is a win win... why win win? Because one gets as much out of it as they put into it.  It certainly doesn’t mean someone does it for a selfish reason, it is simply a tertiary effect, so I write this blog to share all the things I have found that I personally benefit from being involved, in hopes that others will see the personal benefits and be inspired to get involved.  And the more people who get involved in giving back, the better society will be! 
  1. You save money! I have so much going on on a regular basis I don’t have time to shop, whether it be browsing online or going shopping on a saturday.  Also, because you are so occupied with other things (planning events, helping getting things organized) you don’t have as much time to watch tv, read magazines and ‘want’ for the latest fashions, trends etc.  You also start to surround yourself with people who are more focused on charity and not superficial things that you do not have to validate yourself with material things. 
  2. You learn a lot about yourself - doing things on a volunteer basis has a certain liberation.  I was never quite sure of myself, my strengths and my capabilities, until getting involved.  When you are young and new to the work force, there is a pressure you feel, at least I did.  Getting involved in charity has allowed me to break out of that shell and figure out that I am capable, and also, to constantly evaluate my weaknesses and improve. 
  3. You learn what is actually important to you! and with that you build self-confidence.  Getting involved has helped me figure out who I really am.  To embrace my passions and beliefs I have become a stronger person.  I stand strong on certain issues and have flexibility on others.  I no longer worry if everyone agrees with me or if everyone likes me.  It has helped me to figure out my life purpose and put me on a direct path that no one can pull me off of.  
  4. You look out of your ‘bubble’ and gain a better perspective on life - perhaps this can also tie into saving money.  All of a sudden having the most stylish clothes, gadgets and ‘things’ loses importance.  It falls to the back burner as your primary thoughts are about helping whichever cause you are dedicated to helping.  You have more constructive things to discuss.  I will never forget this quote that was on my english teacher’s wall.  “Great Minds Discuss Ideas, Average Minds Discuss Events, and Simple Minds Discuss People” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.  Petty gossip and idle chit chat no longer holds the importance that it once did, because you gain a wider perspective on life and can see past the little bubble you were once trapped in.   
  5. You meet a lot of people that you have a lot in common with and meet amazing people that you aspire to be.  I have made so many new friends and met so many amazing people through charity work.  The conversations I have had and the advice I have received from people who have been involved for decades longer are invaluable.  I am honored to be friends or acquainted with the people I have met since October 2009.   
  6. Your social calendar is packed - I am never bored! If i do have a quiet evening that I have the luxury of relaxing, reading or a morning to sleep in, it is worth more than gold.  Between meetings, fundraising events, volunteer events you always have something great to do, and it is nice to know it is for positive reasons. 
  7. Embracing different personalities - When we are in our ‘safe bubble’ we hang out with people that are just like us.  People we have known for years, people who do the same things as us etc, so life is pretty easy.  When you start volunteering you are inevitably going to meet a lot of people that are different from you.  When you see that you are all fighting for the same cause and learn to accept people’s differences its a growing experience.  It also transfers over to everyday parts of your lives and you appreciate different personalities.  We are all struggling to survive, whatever our struggles may be - some may struggle trying to make ends meet, some may hate their job, some may be going through a difficult divorce, the list is endless.  You never know how much a simple smile can do.  
  8. You can feel proud that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.  It is so easy to complain.  I hear it all the time - ‘they’ should really be doing this better, ‘they’ need to do this.  People do not like to break out of their comfort zone and routine and always make excuses for why they cannot help.  Even if you start with one hour once a month you are making a difference.  I’m not saying one has to be involved in every aspect of bettering society, but simply choose one aspect that is important to you.  We’re all working towards the common goal - helping better the beautiful country we live in.  So ask yourself, are you part of the solution? ‘cause if you are not - then yes, you are part of the problem... Superman is not going to show up and solve all of our problems, and I personally, I’m certainly not expecting our government to either... 
  9. You realize how fortunate you really are - whatever area you choose to work in charity, whether it be helping the elderly, children, animals, sick - you will take inventory on your own life.  Naturally, working in animal welfare we aren’t working in wealthy neighborhoods... We are working in areas where people do not know how to properly care for their animal or cannot afford to do so.  It is so easy to get caught up in wanting for more - we live in a world of consumerism and we are taught to desire nicer and more.  When you work with people who can barely feed their children, kids who are wearing shoes that are falling apart, let alone pay for the spay or neuter of their dog, you realize that having a house, food on the table, and clothes in your closet, and a job are all you really need - the rest is gravy.  You can really see the true value in what you are so blessed to have. 
  10. You face and overcome personal challenges - one of the things I am most happy with is overcoming my fear of public speaking.  I never thought I would be able to go on the radio and speak, but when no one else was available and it wasn’t going to happen if I did not step up to the plate, I had no choice.  I was nervous as all get out.  Then I was asked to speak at a Rotary meeting.  Holy Crap! Never in my life did I think I could do that.  But when you care about something bigger than yourself, you take a deep breath and just do it.  And over time it has gotten easier and easier.  I was even able to make a speech at my best friend’s wedding.  Something I thought I would never have the guts to do! 

In closing, I’ve heard all the excuses - “I don’t have time, my emotions cannot handle it, I wouldn’t be any good,” but thats all they are... excuses.  If you really care about the world becoming a better place, get involved... and you’ll see how you really do get back what you put in. 
If one person that reads this is inspired to give back to their community my time writing it was well-worth it! 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

An Island Girl in my Island World: It aint’ easy being Green in The Bahamas... but yo...

An Island Girl in my Island World: It aint’ easy being Green in The Bahamas... but yo...: Being environmentally conscious in Nassau is a bit of a challenge for me. In fact, it overwelmed me so much after living in Canada for 6 ye...

It aint’ easy being Green in The Bahamas... but you can help by making one easy green decision everyday!

Being environmentally conscious in Nassau is a bit of a challenge for me.  In fact, it overwelmed me so much after living in Canada for 6 years because I felt that without an island wide recycling program and most people in The Bahamas not making environmentally conscious decisions, that we were doomed and there was nothing I could do. 
However, as with other things living here in Nassau, I have learned it is better to do a little bit than nothing at all.  So, if you are one of those people that find making the decision to ‘go green’ is all or nothing, try some of my tips - and share any others which you may have for the rest of us. 
When I wake up each morning one of my goals are to make at least one ‘green’ decision for the day.  I try to buy as much organic food as possible but it is very costly here.  Another goal I have is to source out more local food products, because we have to start being conscious of the carbon foot print the food items on our table are making.  I even want to start my own vegetable garden but unfortunately not enough time for that at present! One day soon! 
  1. The easiest of them all - Grocery Shopping - take your reusable bags to the grocery store.  Try to keep them in the car, or in a spot that you will have to get them before you go to the grocery store.  I usually keep them in the trunk of my car so they are always there.  I also find that taking reusable bags not only benefits the environment but it helps me too - you only have about 4 bags and the handles dont cut into you like the plastic ones do.  And if you are a person like me who would rather come to near death and calamity in order to bring everything into the house in one trip than make more than one (don’t ask me the logic but its how i am!) you can put 2 bags on your shoulder and two in your hands!!!  However, if you happen to forget one week, just save the plastic bags for other household uses. 
  2. Reuse your produce bags - I actually have special mesh produce bags, but I have in the past forgotten them and used the plastic ones.  So what I do is just take the produce out and put it in the fridge and put the plastic produce bag back in with my reusable grocery bags to reuse it on my next trip. 
  3. Start composting - It took me a while to do this but now I made the plunge I am very pleased about it.  I used to cringe at all the organic waste that was going in the trash.  And when I forgot an item in the fridge only to find it when it was rotten, I felt terrible guilt throwing it away.  At least now I can compost it!  It’s so easy, I purchased two tumbleweed compost bins and imported them.  They are perfect because we have dogs and I cannot have an open compost pit... that would be a delicacy for them and disastrous for us! It is really neat, and I have a compost caddy on my counter with little ‘compost-able’ bags for it, and once it is full you trot it out to the compost bin and dump it in.  No mess, no stress! The reason I ordered 2 bins was because once the bin is full you do have to let it break down for 4-6 weeks.  So we will just add to the other one in the mean time and rotate them.  Then you can just spread the compost material around plants, trees or on the lawn of your yard for happy trees, flowers and grass!  If you are interested in purchasing a tumbleweed please contact me and I could look at putting together an order. 
  4. Carry your own water around and stop using plastic water bottles - and what better way than in a Tervis Tumbler!  I never leave home without my tervis.  It is great that a few restaurants like Chives have a big water jug and you can just fill up.  I hope more places will start doing that - but a lot of places you stop into like banks, and doctor’s offices or offices, do have a water cooler with the little cone cups.  You can just fill up your tervis and go on your way!  If you would like to purchase a Baark! Tervis and lid please email me at 
  5. Purchase the option with the least plastic/packaging materials or buy the bigger container.  If you can get two rolls of paper towel wrapped together, why buy 2 individually wrapped rolls of paper towel?  Also, I always buy the largest detergent option because those little ones do not last long at all! 
  6. Save items - Schools are always looking for used materials for crafts.  In fact, a friend of ours who has a student at St. Andrews gave us a list of items to save.  Just get a cardboard box and put it in your laundry room/car port or somewhere out of the way, and add items until it is full and drop it to a parent or school you know will benefit. 
  7. Pack your lunch! and Rethink that starbucks or that take out food - It takes a little prep work in the morning or the night before but packing your lunch is good for the environment, your wallet AND your waistline!  With all those benefits it's a no brainer.  Lunch bags are readily available at many places, and you can use plastic containers that can be used many times over.   In addition, can you can forgo a coffee once a week, or just take a traveling cup in to be served in that would help a lot! Does your office have styrofoam cups that you drink tea in every morning? Take your own mug in and use that! 
  8. Eat Fruit instead of a packaged snack - grab a banana, apple, or orange for your afternoon snack instead of a bag of cookies, chips or chocolate bar! Again better for your health AND the environment! 
  9. Don’t let water run down the drain!  Water wastage is my biggest pet peeve.  Don’t dilly dally in the shower, let the water run while you are brushing your teeth, and when you wash the dishes, fill up one side of the sink with soapy water, wash them, put them in the other side of the sink and then rinse a bunch of them.  
  10. Cans for Kids!  Do you drink sodas? Soda cans are one of the few items that can be recycled here in the Bahamas.  There are several drop off points, one being at the Bahamas Humane Society Shelter on Chippingham.  
  11. Cardboard recycling! Get a new big screen tv? or some shipments come in big boxes? Call Bahamas Waste - they now have a cardboard recycling division. 
Please share any additional tips that are specific to life in The Bahamas! 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Island Girl's Top 10 Restaurants in Nassau...a first in a series!

Off the beaten path (well not too far off) in my island World...

As 2012 rolls in I feel an incredible amount of patriotism towards The Bahamas.  I love the country that I live in and I want everyone who comes here to be able to experience the best aspects of it.  Today someone asked me what I really recommend doing and I was totally caught off guard.  It’s amazing how easily you forget your favourite spots when put on the spot, so this was part of the reason for my inspiration to do this series. 

I thought I would write a series of blogs giving people tips to things that I consider awesome in The Bahamas – so when people visit they do not miss out!

Since I love going to restaurants my first ‘Top 10’ will be my favourite restaurants in Nassau.  It is really fun to do a list like this because sometimes even I forget about places and this made me put my thinking cap on to reflect, and also verbalize what makes these places special.

  1. The Kitchen – I don’t like eating at just any place since you have to wonder what people put in the food.  I know the folks that own the Kitchen and they are good people! It is open for breakfast and lunch and their menu changes daily.  They offer a wide variety of Bahamian meals or traditional home cooked meals.  The yummy sandwich menu stays the same and their sandwiches are delicious.  If you are a sandwich connoisseur order the tuna salad.  
  2. Le Petite Gourmet – Another lunch spot, Le Petite Gourmet has provides a French twist on their dishes.  Chef Julie has a changing menu that always has a soup, a hot dish, a sandwich and a few other specials.  And if you do have dietary requirements Julie will customize two dishes into one to make your experience enjoyable.
  3. Chives Café – My favourite lunch spot!!! Chives is our healthiest option in Nassau, and there are always a couple of vegan options on the menu.  I plan my drives out west so I can stop at Chives while I’m in the area to either have lunch or at least pick it up to go.  Lise usually has premade meals to save you cooking that night.
  4. Seafront Sushi – This is my all time favourite restaurant in the world actually.  Perfect for Lunch or Dinner.  Sushi is my favourite food, and I have yet to go to a sushi place where I enjoy sushi more.  The service at Seafront is excellent as well! Try the headhunter roll, seafront crunch, birthday roll, sashimi appetizer, gyoza (steamed or fried) and the Seafront rice…just to name a few! But really you cannot go wrong with the rolls.  Be sure to sit downstairs – not sure why, but it’s much better!  Being gluten sensitive and lactose intolerant this is a great place for me.
  5. Olives – I’ve only been to Olives for lunch since I work in town.  The arcade where it is located reminds me of a little
    European street
    .  You can sit in a few different spots and they do have air-conditioned sections which is key for summer.  The best meal is an appetizer of fried calamari and a greek lamb gyro (or chicken) with fries, and a cool refreshing greek beer.  If you have dietary requirements like I do, they serve a nice array of salads. 
  6. Green Parrot Harbour Front Lounge – Location and ambience are my favourite and beat out Seafront in that department.  Sitting in the little courtyard makes me feel far away (and because I love traveling this is a great thing! And if you are visiting Nassau, you will just love it!).  A nice glass of wine with a thin crust ‘Yukon Gold’ pizza (mushrooms, potatoes and truffle oil) or ‘Napa Valley’ pizza (goat cheese, figs and prosciutto) are perfect for a week night dinner.
  7. Lucianos of Chicago – okay okay, I know I love the setting of Green Parrot, but this is my all time favourite setting on the harbour.  It was the home of first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, so the building offers charm and character whether you are dining inside or out.  It is on the pricier side in comparison to the other restaurants on this list but it is typically delicious and the service is usually exceptional.  This is not to say they don’t have an off night.  We have had a few, but I keep going back because it is a timeless classic and enjoyable place for a special dinner.
  8. Café Matisse – Again, a little more on the pricier side, so for me it’s a special occasion spot but it is such a pleasurable experience.  The service is ALWAYS wonderful, and the food is delicious.  Café Matisse closes for about a month in the summer while the owner goes to Italy, and then reopens with a fresh new menu.  It is the chosen spot for many business lunch meetings, and a popular dinner spot, so do make reservations.  If it is cool enough sit in the courtyard.  Can’t you tell I love dining al fresco?
  9. Nobu – Yes the chain… Nobu is located in the Royal Towers of Atlantis.  It’s trendy, it’s busy and it’s expensive.  So why is it on my list? Because there is no where else I can find a Lychee Martini! Be careful though.  One and I’m tipsy, two and I’m drunk, and three you’ll be carrying me straight home but they go down so smoothly. The famous rock shrimp and miso cod are also scrumptious.  Make a reservation if you can, if not, be prepared to eat in the bar area if it is a busy time of year.
  10. Blu – Is new! I’ve only eaten at Blu once so far but it made my list because I am a big fan of the rejuvenation of downtown Nassau, and Elizabeth on the Bay is the first new project.  The container port is being relocated and soon tourists will be able to wander down the harbour front and actually enjoy the beauty of the harbour.  I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years, and the waterfront is the best spot to go, especially in the summer.  People could wander and stop at restaurants to eat and/or drink while buskers played along the walkway providing background music to be enjoyed.  The memories bring feelings of happiness and relaxation back to me.  And so that is how I felt when I ate lunch at Blu.  There have been varying reviews and it's not cheap, but my lunch was tasty and delicious and the service was first-rate.