One of our chickens, Priscilla the Plymouth Rock, died over the weekend. DT and I were out of town and came home Monday night to find her lying on the floor of the chicken coop. We don’t know what happened – there didn’t appear to be any trauma or distress. She just died.

I feel terrible that it happened while we were gone and to have found her like that. I hope she didn’t suffer. I wish I knew the cause.

I know that in the grand scheme of life losses, it’s a chicken. But she was our chicken, our pet, part of our lives, and I’m still very sad. It’s so different without her and it’s amazing what a gaping hole can be left by a yard bird (my dad’s term of endearment for them). I feel like a crazy crying chicken lady.

Chickens eating mozzarella

The girls devouring a ball of fresh mozzarella – Gertrude, Deborah, and Priscilla.

I wrote about our chickens before – all three have/had such unique personalities, and Priscilla’s was really one of a kind. As far as chickens go. DT and I thought of her as the dim younger sister, always one step behind, trying to keep up, a bit slow on the uptake. The exception for this reputation was her figuring out how to weasel through the fence barricade we set up so they stay confined to the back of the yard. Gertrude and Deborah would be so mad and flustered (pace-pace-pace, back and forth-back and forth along the fence) to see Priscilla liberated on the other side.

And was she ever chatty. She looooooved to squawk and we were so entertained by her. I always enjoyed our talks. The yard is much quieter now.

I found this photo in a post from a backyard chicken group I follow and saved it on my desktop months ago. This, in a nutshell, perfectly encapsulates our funny Priscilla (and looks a whole lot like her):

Priscilla's mantra

Anyway. Again – perspective. But I’m sad and doing some grieving and adjusting to the change that is life without her. I just wanted to acknowledge and pay a small tribute for her being her. I’m thankful to have had sweet, strange, clucky little Priscilla in my life, however short our time was and no matter how silly it is. I won’t ever forget her and I know our family won’t either.

Rest in peace, Priscilla.

Dam to Dam 2015

DT and I headed south last weekend to run Des Moines’ big Dam to Dam half marathon.

I was extremely slow on the uptake with photos over the weekend….I just didn’t have the ol’ shutterbug in me. I’m a little bummed that I missed some good shots, but I’ll also get this post out quicker without much to edit. :-) See? Trade-offs, I guess.

While I’m missing the visual flair, I still wanted to write about the weekend because we found some new little treasures (and revisited some old favorites) in Des Moines and I didn’t want to forget them. AND I wanted you to know about them too.

First – big, fun news. Hellraising Hot Sauce has officially entered the Des Moines market! Through family/friend connections, DT and I met Rory at AllSpice Culinarium in the East Village neighborhood. We dropped off an order of sauce on our way into town and got to see his fantastic shop.

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 1

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 2

We ate our ritual, pre-race meal at Tavern Pizza Friday night. Nightcaps at Charlie’s Filling Station (their specialty – Screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed OJ) before a quick, restless night of sleep.

Saturday/race day was much cooler and wet than we expected. It wasn’t pouring ran, thankfully, but misting enough to be annoying and downright cold as we waited at the starting line.

I borrowed/stole this selfie from my brother-in-law Tom.

Dam to Dam 2015

Up front L-R: friend Pat, brother-in-law Tom. Behind L-R: DT’s sister Jill, DT, me.

DT and I crossed the finish line together and it felt so good to be DONE. High five!

We headed to Exile Brewing for celebratory post-race beers at 9:30 am. They were delightful.

DT, me post-race

DT and I ate lunch at Court Avenue Brewing Company. We nearly fell asleep at the table once we had food in our bellies. Sooooo….nap time!

Later, we met up with Jill, Tom, and a group of friends for drinks at MALO. It was packed! Next stop for drinks was Royal Mile.

We’d heard so much about Fong’s Pizza, we had to check it out. The rumblings were true – Fong’s makes delicious pizza. Super thin and chewy crust, zippy sauce, and a bunch of topping options.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend! I always feel like our time in DSM goes by way too fast. We’re already plotting a return summer visit so we can get another Iowa fix. ;-)

The New!

Just a quick post to announce something exciting for DT’s and my little hot sauce endeavor….the launch of!

We’ve been relying HEAVILY on our Facebook page to promote our business and share updates about what we’re up to. We’ll continue to be active there of course, but this website is going to be an awesome resource. You can learn about our sauces and the peppers we use, see Instagram pics, find recipes and inspiration to use Hellraising Hot Sauce in your cooking, read the HHS blog, and ORDER ONLINE!

Cool, yes?

Many thanks to Rough Ride Creations for bringing this site to life – it will be a tremendous asset to our lil’ biz.

Please go check it out! :-)

Spicyland in Costa Maya 2015

Our last stop of Winter Cruise 2015 brought us to Costa Maya, Mexico. This was a brand new port for both DT and me, so we were excited to check it out.

DT always does so much research for our trips, I’m lucky that way. Here, he found us another gem in Maya Chan, a day resort about 20 minutes away from the cruise port.

It was a verrrrrrrrrrrrry bumpy cab ride….the twisty backroads were either under construction or badly needed to be. The drivers to and from took it slow and dodged bumps and potholes as best they could.

Maya Chan entrance 3

Maya Chan is a family-run operation. Kevin greeted us at the entrance and proceeded with the tour. As you can already see, the grounds were spectacular.

And yes – that is a dog lying in the sand below….but don’t worry, he’s alive! It’s a little jarring to see that figure in the photo. We counted four dogs that hung out at the resort and on the beach. To be a beach dog….whatta life!

Maya Chan entrance 1

our cabana 1

It was a very rustic place – wood Adirondack chairs and huts lined the beach.

Here was our home base for the day.

our cabana 2

The friendly Maya Chan staff brought welcome drinks along with chips and salsa/guacamole. Their guacamole = SO fresh and delicious!

welcome salsa and guacamole

Maya Chan kayaks

Most of their equipment (kayaks, inflatable floaties and rafts, etc.) was included in the cost of the day pass. We didn’t get too ambitious, though – we stuck close to the beach and explored up and down.

Maya Chan bar 1

Maya Chan beach 1

You can see the cruise ships off yonder.

Their tree house was a fun little perch!

Maya Chan treehouse 1

It was cozy up top but had great views of the water and surrounding resort.

view from treehouse 1

view from treehouse 2

me in the treehouse

The steps back down, though….ayyyyy! Steep and skinny. Those railings got the death grip from me!

Costa Maya beach 3

It was another AMAZING day….the weather on this trip was surreal.

One definition of paradise could include a sunny day on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, a glass of wine, and a/an [e]-book.

iPad on the beach

I’d say I accomplished all of those things pretty successfully at Maya Chan.

Costa Maya selfie

Maya Chan bar 2

Maya Chan beach 5


When it was time for lunch, Kevin gathered us around their counter, filled with freshly prepared food. A make-your-own-taco bar!

Choose your meat, then add some or all of the authentic fixings – sauteed peppers and onions, pickled onions, beans, cheese, rice, homemade salsa, guacamole, and hot sauce.

lunch buffet

They were so accommodating and offered a vegetarian plate for me.

veggie fajita fixins

I loaded up those tortillas with the beyond-flavorful ingredients….sooooo tasty! Easily one of the best meals we had on this trip.

veggie fajitas

bar kitty

Bar/beach kitty! And can I just say – about a THIRD the size of our big, fat, slobby felines at home!

Costa Maya port 1

Back on the ship, waving goodbye to our last port. Where has the week gone??

Costa Maya coast

The sixth night's little towel friend

The second-to-last night dazzled us with another fiery sunset.

Night 6 sunset 1

Night 6 sunset 2

Night 6 sunset 3

And with that, another cruise in the books. Another wonderful, relaxing, beautiful, fabulous, amazing, leisurely, FUN, have I also mentioned WONDERFUL and AMAZING?, cruise.

Until next winter, then!

Spicyland in Roatan 2015

Wednesday morning….I stepped out onto our balcony as the ship was docking in Roatan.

docking in Roatan 1

Perfect timing!

docking in Roatan 2

Another gorgeous (HOT!) day ahead.

Caribbean skies – morning, noon, and night – just slay me. Unbelievably beautiful, without fail.

Mahogany Bay morning

Since we did excursions of some kind at the other three ports on this cruise, it was kind of nice to just hop off the ship here and walk to a fantastic beach straightaway.

Remember two years ago at Mahogany Bay?

Mahogany Bay entrance


I didn’t take as many photos this year, but it was just as we remembered.

view from the pier 1


view from the pier 2

After sufficient Roatan beach/sun/lounging/reading/drinking time – and sweating our ears off, this by far was the warmest stop – we headed back to the ship for a late lunch.

Psssssstt….do you see what I see??

Hellraising Hot Sauce planted

DT and I planned a little covert operation with our Hellraising Hot Sauce on this trip. We planted a bottle of Sweet Suffering at the Blue Iguana Cantina, where made-to-order burritos and tacos are served for breakfast and lunch.

There’s a condiment bar and you can accessorize your meal with a slew of fixings – a variety of salsas, vegetables, crema, cheese, and that’s right, HOT SAUCE. Two big, long rows of hot sauce bottles.

We slipped ours in the first day and made a game of passing by each morning and afternoon to see how much had been used.

The situation was a bit puzzling at times. Some instances Sweet Suffering would be right there in the lineup – others it was nowhere to be found. So we thought we were totally busted; that the keeper of Blue Iguana hot sauces recognized the invader from outside the usual inventory and it was tossed. But then the next day it would be back again. But then two days later, gone once more.

It TOYED with our emotions! Kidding, kind of. It was just fun to see it, standing proudly on a Carnival cruise ship, holding court with the other sauces. And when we could see that it had been used, when there was less sauce in the bottle than there was before….very cool. (DT: “Sweet Suffering is out there, I checked the level – it’s DOWN! People are using it!!” Me: “SHUT UP! Can you believe it??”)

You know, we’re just big hot sauce nerds now. This is how we spend our time.

Roatan sunset 1

Roatan sunset….

Roatan sunset 2

Roatan sunset 3

leaving Roatan

….like I said at the top of this post – Caribbean skies, man.


Roatan sunset 4

Night five's little towel friend

The fifth night’s little towel friend.

Our cruise is winding down….waaaaahhhh! Our last port is coming up, and it was a new one for us – Costa Maya!

Spicyland in Belize 2015

We took an excursion to Bannister Island two years ago when our cruise stopped in Belize for the second port. That island has since been renamed Starfish Island and yes, you guessed it, we went back.

Belize sunrise

morning in Belize

Beautiful Belize morning sky!

Belize sunrise 2

Belize sunrise 3

Belize tender 1

Belize tender 2

Belize tender 3

Starfish Island 1

Starfish Island entrance

Starfish Island beach 1

There was good reason to name the island what they did – there are starfish all over in the water. I can’t believe we didn’t notice them the last time we visited.

starfish 1

starfish 2

starfish 3

Our time there was super relaxing….I mean, we were on this little island in the middle of the Caribbean. Just a wee blip in the sea with the sun shining down.

Starfish Island beach 2

off in the Caribbean

DT and me, Starfish Island

It is at this time I will tell you the sad story about my left baby toe. I never thought I’d post such detail about my feet on this blog, or online anywhere for that matter. I know how I am about seeing people’s feet, and I know some people are twenty times more disgusted about it than I am. I’ll keep this brief.

my feet

I think I broke my left baby toe. Broke, or significantly dislocated it. Our second night in South Beach – our room at The Richmond was relatively small and had some funny corners going on. On my way back to bed in the middle of the night, in the dark, little room with strange corners, I very forcefully ran my left foot into the bed frame. I heard a rather unfriendly SNAP and then, ohhhh OUCH.

broken toe 1

It swelled and bruised pretty quickly overnight and the next morning when I pathetically limped my way aboard the ship Saturday. These photos are the aftermath three days later. What a dumb, stupid injury.

broken toe 2

Gross! I know, I’m sorry.

I spent the week with the ibuprofen DT would set out for me and makeshift ice packs while we lounged throughout the days. No big whoop. Just ugly and sore. ;-)

I won’t ever show you my feet again, I promise. Well, at least not black and blue and mangled.


seabirds 1

seabirds 2

The tender back to the ship left relatively early in the afternoon, so I’m glad we made the most of our morning on the beach.

Starfish Island beach 3

Belize selfie

Glory in Belize

Belize view

my Belize selfie

I must take photos of me because my husband does not. Hiiiii!

leaving Belize

We witnessed a beautiful Caribbean sunset….

Belize sunset 1

Belize sunset 2

Belize sunset 3

DT and me, Belize sunset

Belize sunset 4

Belize sunset 5

Ahhhh! This isn’t quite like what we see back in Minnesota. Exquisite.

Wednesday brings us to Roatan, next post!

Spicyland in Cozumel 2015

This year’s cruise brought us back to Cozumel, a port we visited two years ago and discovered Nachi Cocom. About that creature of habit thing mentioned in the previous post….it was a no-brainer, we had to return to this beautiful day resort!

Cozumel port 1

Cozumel port 2

Nachi Cocom beach 1

Nachi Cocom beach 2

We easily fell into the pattern of two years ago….lounging and reading with drinks on the beach in the morning, ordering lunch, eating their delicious noon meal, then spending the afternoon poolside. Not a bad day, right?

Nachi Cocom restaurant

Their lunch was served with fresh ingredients, just as we recalled. Lots of flavor and spice.

habanero salsa

Habanero salsa



chicken tacos

DT’s crispy chicken tacos

veggie fajitas

My veggie fajitas

Nachi Cocom pool 2

Nachi Cocom pool 3


Nachi Cocom pool 4

It was pretty much just as wonderful as we remembered. And as you can see, the weather was perfection.

DT and me, Nachi Cocom

DT, are you wearing the same shirt as the last time we were here?? Hahahaha

back to the ship

Back to the Glory….one port down. This is when the cruise really starts to fly by.

Carnival Glory hull

Carnival Sunshine, Glory

Carnival’s Sunshine (formerly the Destiny) parked alongside our ship.

Cozumel selfie

Carnival smokestacks

We hopped around the upper decks as our ship was preparing to depart Cozumel. Fun to peek next door and see what’s happening on the other ship.

view from the top

coast of Cozumel

Cozumel selfie 2

Kind of love this pic.

leaving Cozumel

Adios, Cozumel! Adios, Sunshine!

The third night's little towel friend.

The third night’s little towel friend.

Up next – we make a return stop to Belize and the former Bannister Island, now Starfish Island! Oooo….


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