The Colors of Old San Juan

December 7, 2016

travel

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When Puerto Rico comes to mind, most people imagine the colors of Old San Juan. From the bright buildings to the blue cobblestone streets, to the vibrant ocean water peeking through the cityscape, every inch of Old San Juan is bright and happy and bursting with life.

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We stayed at an AirBnB on Calle San Sebastian, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the location. I highly recommend staying in Old San Juan for your first trip to Puerto Rico because it eliminates the need for a car, which is great because parking is next to impossible in this area. The red building above is home to my favorite bar, Aquí Se Puede. One evening Victor, his father (also named Victor), my dad and I had the whole place to ourselves. The bartender was a phenomenal mixologist (he made best old fashioned I’ve ever had) and even played Sam Cooke upon my request.

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Getting lost in Old San Juan isn’t so bad when the view is like this. Every corner is filled with color, and check out the blue cobblestone!  There were a few places we visited more than once, and La Taberna Lúpulo was one of them. It’s an open-air dive with an impressive beer list and laid back vibe.

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Another hit on the trip was Las Palmas Restaurant which was about ten feet to the right of our front door. The food was amazing – I fell in love with crab and rice and tostones on this trip. The alley between the restaurant and our apartment featured picnic tables, umbrellas, and music and every Sunday locals gather for a block party.

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Up Next: El Yunque!

Forward

November 29, 2016

life

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Okay, we’ve all had time to process the shock of the election. If anything, I think it woke us up as a nation and made us pay attention to a divide we had previously been trying to ignore. Many people, including myself, are more inspired than ever to act out in hope, kindness and love. As disappointing and scary as it initially felt, I found solace in the blogs, articles and public figures that promoted the importance of positivity. Here are some of the people, places and things that shared my grief and lifted my post-election spirits…

The season finale of Showtime’s The Circus

The Daily Show election special

Desus & Mero on Viceland (The election special is good, but just watch ’em on the reg anyway.)

Hillary Clinton’s concession speech

Women on the heartbreak of watching Trump win

Chelsea interviews Senator Barbara Boxer

Leslie Knope’s letter to America

Coming Together by Joanna Goddard

Emily Henderson asks her readers why they voted for Trump

Alan Sorkin’s dramatic letter to his ex-wife and daughter

A podcast about Oprah…unrelated, but hey, it made me feel a lot better.

I registered on Issue Voter to weigh in on issues before Congress votes and reach state reps directly.

Before the Flood (free on Hulu)

Anything and everything Gloria Steinem

What the Fuck Do We Do Now?

November 9, 2016

life

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Listen, I’ve never been one to post political rants on a Facebook page or stir up a political conversation in mixed company, but this is my tiny sliver of the internet and for once, I have a passionate feeling about an election. This is the first election where I really paid attention. I read the articles, visited the candidates’ websites, and watched the debates, and all the while, I really didn’t believe this would happen.

I want a woman in the White House, yes, but that’s not the reason I voted for Hillary. She has experience, relationships with other countries, and QUALIFICATIONS that tell me she can do the job. I don’t care if she lied; every politician lies. I don’t care if she’s been under investigation for Benghazi or emails. She held her ground on both fronts and endured rigorous investigations and nothing came of any of it. She is qualified, she is a public servant, and she has spent her life trying to help people. At the end of the day, that woman has the strength of ten men put together. And Beyonce. She has Beyonce.

And, if that’s not enough, looking at Trump should make up one’s mind. This is where I feel a real disconnect because I cannot wrap my head around any woman voting for a man that says and does the things he has during this campaign his lifetime. It’s one thing to be a crass old man with narrow opinions, but to lead a country with these views? Are you not bothered by the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic comments and actions? He thinks so little of you and you want him to lead you? To represent you? To defend you? To inspire your children? What am I missing here?

At the end of the day, the bottom line is this: the purpose of public office is to serve the people. To be a voice of the people. To inspire and encourage. To. help. people. One candidate has spent her life listening to others and making changes to improve policy. The other has perfected the art of self-promotion.

I’m still processing everything, I’ve truly never dealt with these feelings before. I think I’m still shocked, still trying to understand how this could happen. I’m angry at this country and feel like people aren’t good. They can’t be if this is a testament to their judgment, right? Like, that feeling I get when I’m driving (sidenote: I “suffer” from incredible albeit internal road rage) and I feel like everyone is a raging idiot and the future is doomed because if we can’t even drive down the road, how the hell are we going to get through something serious? Well, it’s like that. Times ten. Sprinkled with the incredible fear that an egomaniac has the nuclear codes.

I’m angry at the sound of his voice. I’m angry that everything that is good is his idea and everything that is bad is someone else’s fault. Is this what our country believes? HOW did we get here?  HOW did we come to the conclusion that an unqualified man that has insulted so many people should lead the free world? (Have you ever seen this really dumb movie, Idiocracy? I keep having flashes of that movie when I think about our future. *laughs turning into tears*)

I’m angry that I still don’t know how he’s going to fulfill these wild promises that are ultimately scary and dangerous. Matter of fact, I don’t know anything about any of his policies because he’s been too busy tweeting petty insults to offer anything of substance. I’m angry that I feel like my voice was overshadowed by irrational racists, and I’m angry that I’m angry at the people of this country. I’ve never been good at holding on to anger. It’s a waste of time. I want to do something, anything, to feel better. To fix it. To bounce back. To shake this feeling of loss. So many have started on the path to rebuilding. I look forward to overcoming this feeling and pushing forward, and although this got me misty-eyed, I’m not there yet.

El Morro

October 26, 2016

travel

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Guys. I am so behind. I’ve traveled to some really fun places this past year but I’m so behind in sharing. Truth be told, I didn’t even finish posting the rest of L.A…. and that was in January! Maybe I’ll do a flashback post.. idk, haven’t worked it out yet. Stay tuned. ANYWAY. Look! I went to Puerto Rico! It was fun and colorful and adventurous and here’s what I did first…

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We stayed in Viejo San Juan, which is like the Orlando of the island: touristy and colorful. It’s totally walkable which is exactly what we did our first morning. We walked to El Morro, a national historic site located at the edge of the island. It makes for a beautiful photo opp, and it was free and relatively vacant, so you know I was all about it.

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This type of history is not exactly my cuppa tea, but from what I gather, Columbus landed on PR, claimed it for Spain, later the Dutch wanted in on the action but didn’t last, the British invaded somewhere along the way, and after the Spanish-American War, the U.S. took control of it. It was partially restored and used to monitor the surrounding waters in WWI and WWII, and the surrounding lawn was converted to a golf course.

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We climbed to the top for the gorgeous views. I’m not sure if you can tell, but my knees are totally wobbly here. Anything for that vacay shot…

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I didn’t anticipate such a hilly lanscape in Puerto Rico but it adds to the character and beauty of the island. We returned to the El Morro area a few days later and the lawn was filled with families flying colorful kites. It was a really cool sight to see.

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Stay tuned, I still have brightly colored buildings, blue cobblestone and a rainforest to show you! Xx

summer music / 3

October 18, 2016

entertainment / life / weekend

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My last hurrah of the summer music scene was a Blink-182 concert in Tampa. I went back to the same venue where I saw Dashboard, this time in celebration of my sister’s birthday. Blink always brings back amazing memories (like wearing out Take Off Your Pants and Jacket on my Discman during a family vacation to Key West).

Funny story: All-American Rejects and A Day to Remember opened the show, but we got stuck in an hour-long traffic jam trying to exit the highway for the venue. I guess the show was more popular than we had anticipated. My sister really only wanted to see A Day to Remember, she didn’t care about the other bands, and as the minutes were ticking by and we were not moving, all I could think about is that we were missing the only band she wanted to see ON HER BIRTHDAY. We pull into the venue and run from our car like bats outta hell. As we we’re walking up, I hear Swing, Swing playing. All-American Rejects opened the show and ADTR hadn’t played yet! I was so relieved we didn’t miss her band. We hightailed it to our seats just in time and the rest of the night was on cruise control.

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I was somewhat heart-broken to learn that the original three members had broken up and singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge had been replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. DeLonge’s distinctive voice was missed, but the new Blink’s new album, California, which they played a lot of at the show, was on brand and sounded fantastic. Obv, I took some liberties with my iPhone concert photos..

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Favorites of California include: Bored to Death, She’s Out of Her Mind, and Kings of the Weekend

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The stage effects were better than any I had seen all summer. Jumping right out of the gate, the band came on stage, flaming “FUCK” a blazing, and flashed album art by Lichtenstein-esque street artist D*Face on a huge screen in the background. The encore and my favorite, Dammit, ended with a big burst of confetti that caught the stage lights perfectly.

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It was a lot of fun, and the perfect ending to my summer concert series. There’s something about summer that makes me nostalgic and happy in general. Maybe it’s the way the sun feels the same every year, or the fact that loud rock music played outdoors takes me back to the same state of mind, no matter how old I get. Whatever it is, it feels like a little piece of magic, and I’m glad I got to feel it again this year.

For other show recaps and playlists, check out: Weezer, Panic! at the Disco!, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness | Dashboard Confessional x 2

Part Two: Williamsburg

October 12, 2016

travel / weekend

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Day two of my Virginia adventure took me to Williamsburg to visit my oldest friend (not in age, but in relationship). Leigh and I have been friends since freshman year of high school. I think we bonded over a mutual love for Celebrity Jeopardy and mutual hate for pep rallies and school spirit in general.

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I didn’t want to arrive empty-handed to Leigh’s so I popped in Sugar Shack on my way out of town for a few sweets. Oh-mah-gah. I grabbed blueberry donut holes to snack on while driving to Williamsburg and I still dream about how fresh and delicious they were. Coupled with a big cup of dark roast coffee, and I was in heaven. They had so many fun donut flavors to choose from, so I highly recommend this place if you have an opportunity to pop in one of their many locations. (They’re in Florida!)

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Leigh, her husband, Ben, and daughter Harper lived in Williamsburg and since my visit, they’ve welcomed baby Caroline and moved back to Florida.  They were gracious enough to show me around Williamsburg so after getting settled, Leigh, Harper and I took to the streets and explored America’s second oldest college campus, William & Mary, and Colonial Williamsburg.

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We walked around and caught up on life, all the while feeling sorry for the kids who’s parents took them on an educational vacation instead of to Disney. We made it to a cute cafe where I almost had a panic attack when tasked with pushing Ms. Harper and her stroller out of the door by myself. I don’t know how people do it. There were chairs, and people and maneuvering and I literally wanted to say “Make way! Lady with a baby!”. It was seriously only 10 feet but it was easily the most difficult thing I did that day. Fortunately, Harper was all smiles and oblivious to my panic sweat.

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Our next stop was Jamestown Settlement. It was pretty cool, even though the weather had turned chilly and misty. Nevertheless, we saw some cool old stuff, walked around, and chatted. Some of my favorite things.

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For dinner, Leigh, Ben, Harper and I ate at Dog Street Pub, the cutest little gastropub in Williamsburg. They have an extensive beer list (always a win), delicious food, and a bustling atmosphere. The building itself used to be a bank and remnants of its history can be seen in the classically shaped windows and marble floors.

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The next morning, I left a very gray Williamsburg early to drive back to Florida. Per the recommendation of my hosts, I took the ferry across the James River as a scenic alternative to going back the way I came. I was grateful I had an opportunity to visit with friends, even if it was a short stay, and that they were kind enough to welcome me into their home. Of course, I’m even happier they’ve moved back to Florida so I can bug them on the regular now.

 

 

healthy chicken meatballs

October 10, 2016

food

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Free time has been nonexistent around here lately, so my apologies for (once again) for my absence. BUT! This recipe is kind of perfect for those with no time to spare. I actually made these healthy chicken meatballs while my facial mask was drying and decided to snap a few photos on my phone for this post. Multitasking: check. This recipe makes four servings so I make it on Sundays and reheat for dinner during the week. Also, this recipe is low-carb, low-sugar, low-fat and therefore, low-guilt. I don’t think comfort food gets much better than this…

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Chop spinach and wilt over medium heat on the stove. Drain any excess water from the spinach. While it cools, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 9×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Dice a whole red onion.

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Part One: Richmond

September 19, 2016

travel / weekend

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What would summer be without a road trip? For the long July 4th weekend, I drove north to Virginia to visit friends in Williamsburg. My first stop though, was Richmond, a city I had not visited before, but immediately took a liking to for it’s natural beauty, culture, and good food. Here’s a glimpse into my one-day highlight tour of Richmond, Virginia…

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My first stop was Libby Hill Park. Located in the Church Hill area, quaint brownstones line small streets leading to this picturesque park. It was a great way to get acquainted with Richmond because the Jamestown River and downtown cityscape can be seen from the same spot.

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summer music / 2

September 12, 2016

life / weekend

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Funny thing happened earlier this year: I found out my hands down, all-time favorite of all time forever and ever band, Dashboard Confessional, was pairing up with another favorite, Taking Back Sunday, on the Taste of Chaos Tour. What was even more incredible was they were scheduled to play Tallahassee. What that whaaaa?! No one ever comes to Tallahassee, at least, not by choice. So in a frenzy of excitement and disbelief, I purchased two tickets to the Tallahassee show. But before that, I purchased four tickets to the show scheduled the day before in Tampa. I didn’t want to risk the Tallahassee show being cancelled and missing Dashboard. Four tickets was over zealous, yes, especially considering I didn’t have a single soul to go to either show with at the time, but, like… yolo.

Fast forward two months, I was able to sell two of the Tampa tickets but still had two I wasn’t going to let go to waste. I had concert buddies for both shows: Saturday – Tampa show with my sister; Sunday – Tallahassee show with my bestie. It was everything I hoped for and more… oh, and did I mention that I GOT TO MEET CHRIS CARRABBA?! Who’s that? Just the lead singer of Dashboard and the man of my adolescent dreams, nbd. Here’s a recap of me fangirling my way through one of the best weekends of my summer…

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So, let’s just get to the good part, which is the first part. I met Chris Carrabba! Our tickets allowed us early entry to the venue and a small, acoustic, pre-show performance, and we were pleasantly surprised with a meet and greet. Despite me sweating balls and downing an $11 Dixie cup sized jack and coke, I was still super nervous.  He was of course, lovely and kind and despite the look on his face below, very gracious.

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loosing my mind   |  #2002

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Currently Into #4

August 15, 2016

life

Eventide+Yan+Web-6

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Eventide Collective // I’ve grown slightly obsessed with searching for affordable art online. There are so many choices and more popping up everyday. While some sites definitely have quantity over quality, Eventide Collective has perfectly curated collections of modern photo prints available for purchase online. From beach landscapes, to Vegas lights, the prints on Eventide are beautiful and offered in several different sizes. I love each collection and frequently reference the site when looking for inspiration for my own photo shoots.

Flat white // Everyone has their go-to coffee drink. Maybe you’re a purist and drink it black. Maybe you go all out and order that frappucino with the jazzy drizzle on top. For over a decade, my fancy drink (you know, the one you order when you have enough stars for a freebie) has been a triple grande non-fat no whip white mocha. I know, it sounds obnoxious.  Here lately though, I’ve been addicted to a non-fat flat white. It’s just restretto espresso blended with milk, but it is so dang smooth. It’s definitely the grownup version of my previous sugary white mocha.

Sword and Scale // On a recent road trip, I discovered the true crime podcast Sword and Scale. The hour long episodes tell stories of some of the most gruesome and unbelievable criminals in recent history. I’m a true crime junkie, and working in the industry only fuels my curiosity into these cases. I like the format which details cases primarily through recorded witness testimony and news reports. If you’re like me and love Dateline and Serial, check out Sword and Scale.

Anthony Bourdain // I got hooked on Anthony Bourdain while researching my New Orleans trip. He’s hosted a few shows over the years, and while the formats have varied slightly, they all pretty much center around him traveling, meeting locals, and eating regional food. I like all of these ideas and his dry, witty writing so I’ve been binging on No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown. Bourdain has been everywhere from Sao Paolo to Brooklyn and has shared some of the most exclusive trends in food and culture with a generally down-to-earth and accessible vibe. Even though he’s very much a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy, I dig everything he shares in his travels and confidently use his shows as travel resources.

jcrew

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J.Crew swim // I’m taking one last trip this year, to Puerto Rico, to finish off the summer the best way I know how: exploring, eating, drinking, and beaching. I’ve needed a new bathing suit for awhile now, but I don’t exactly jump at the prospect of bathing suit shopping. To alleviate some of the pain, I turned to J.Crew. They’re playful patterns, bold color combos, and classic cuts create excitement more so than dread when looking for a new suit. Familiar with the excellent quality of J.Crew, I went with a timeless black bikini that I’m confident will remain in style and good condition for years to come.