Pardon my French braids.

About a year ago I set out to try to learn to French braid my own hair. When I ran high school cross country and track I loved when my team mates  would French braid my hair on our down time at invitationals. It was so comfortable & light, perfect for running – plus it made your action pictures look better than the normal tight bun or pony tail.

Without team mates I haven’t had my hair in French braids since. The last few years I’ve noticed the trend of wearing these as a normal fashionable hair-do – (outside of being 10 or under, or competing in sports.) To recreate what I saw seemed like learning another language, but I kept seeing so many cute braids and I wanted in!

I googled and googled, studied pictures and diagrams and started watching YouTube videos. One YouTube beauty star created two long beautiful French braids while saying she couldn’t figure this out and never believed would get the hang out of it – but sure enough with practice she became a pro. After exhausted arms, starting over and over, giving up, then trying again I thought she was full of sh*t. I couldn’t get past the beginning,  and I would end up sweating and frustrated.

I kept trying though! Eventually on my niece, who is perfectly content to sit still if she has a favorite movie on. I had a rough couple of starts, but finally something just clicked and once I got past the beginning I kept grabbing hair until I finished a full braid on her tiny head. I was so excited! It took more practice on my tiny model to figure it out on my own head. Now I have it down, and all my co-workers are always like “OMG love your hair, did you do that yourself?”

Yes. I. Did.

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I saw the braids combined as a bun and had to try, so fun.

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Thankful for my little model.

May 26 2007

10 years ago today I was being surprised by my family as I walked down to take my seat at graduation. They stood – blow horns and all – spelling out my name in the stadium crowd each with a letter on their shirt. I got extra tickets for the ceremony for “my brother’s girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend” who turned out to be another amazing surprise – my favorite cousins all the way from Mexico.

The week leading up to graduation my friends and I set out to go out every night. Each place was picked for the significance (drink special) it had on a specific week day. We completed the task knowing we would never return to these college bars.

Since my house was next to campus, all our families and friends gathered there the morning of graduation, drinking champagne and taking pictures. Then everything happened so quickly. I tripped on stage getting my diploma, went sight seeing all around town with my family, ate endless amounts of foods, sang along at a piano bar – went out one last time and woke up on my air mattress needing to pack up and move out. I fit as much stuff as I could into my friend’s family’s van, then we drove to meet my family for one last meal together at our favorite burrito spot – and we were off. The next day I was on a plane to Europe.

My life has been non stop ever since – in 10 years I’ve traveled to more than 24 countries, worked for one of the most prestigious hotel groups in the world, lived alone in a beautiful downtown studio in San Francisco, backpacked the world for almost a year, managed a night club, became an aunt, paid off all my student loans becoming completely debt free, gave back and paid it forward, ran a couple of marathons, got engaged to the love of my life and stayed close to my family throughout.

That was fun! Thankful for the past 10 years.

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Museum Of Ice Cream

Had the best and cutest time visiting the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles Art District.

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Pink everything.

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The nicest Museum workers I have ever encountered – super cheery, helpful, happy to take your picture and give you ice cream in almost every different room. This was the telephone room where you hear a bit about the history of ice cream from Seth Rogan (it was invented in China!).

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Venice

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Ice Cream sign mimicking the Hollywood sign.

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Even their trash cans were cute!

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In this mint chocolate room they have mint growing in cacao soil so it grows being naturally infused with chocolate!

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Bananas!

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Gummy Bear room!

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Hahaha!

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Charcoal cookie dough!

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Sprinkles pool!

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Eating the last bit of a strawberry pancake ice cream sandwich. Such a fun experience!

Lunares

My nieces tiny hands love to make their way around my face, neck and décolletage so she can try to pull my moles off. Sometime she tricks me into lifting her up, thinking she wants hugs – to then be quickly attacked. This is a habit her brother has caught on to quickly. I had never been more aware of how many moles I had until those two were born. They don’t have moles, so they’re fascinated by mine. One in particular on my clavical; my niece is relentless with. Mole is such an ugly word, in Spanish they’re called “lunares.”

One of the many words I find far more beautiful in Spanish than in English.

I have memories of singing a famous Mexican love song with my grandparents as a child about a “lunar” next to a lovers lips. I sang parts of this song to my niece when she was a baby, and when I sing it now she smiles with a recognizing look, but refuses to sing along to even the very easy part of the chorus.

So thankful for my niece and nephew turning the dots on my body into a reminder of love love love.

52 Books

I’ve always been a reader. I have memories as a child of loving a book about a pie that rolled out the window while it was cooling, and just kept rolling and rolling. I read it before I could actually read – from memory of it being read to me so many times. I then read it to anyone who would listen, over and over.

I assume the same of any reader, but to me growing up,  reading was a way to pass the time. While my family worked at my grandparents commercial laundromat I read about an elf in stripes. As a bored teenager I read dozens of Babysitters Club books and set out to start my own babysitting club.

I never measured my reading, and after High School and College without assigned books I would go months without reading, and then pick up a book here and there. in 2012 I decided to start a measured goal of reading 12 books a year, one book a month. I reached my goal in 2012, 2013 and 2015 (most years reading more than the 12).

I noticed through the years I got much faster at reading – a mixture of that, and rushing to avoid a late library fee that found me reading 4 books in January of 2016. I began to wonder if I could keep this up for an entire year. 52 books? I set out to try. I didn’t reach 52, but I came close. I am beyond proud, I read 4 times as much as any year before and learned so much. It was a year of so much growing, and traveling through all the stories I read.

Here is what I read in 2016 (Each book is linked for your convenience) :

1. The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

2. Life Is So Good by George Dawson

3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

5. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

6. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

7. Millenials@Work by Chip Espinoza

8. Born Free by Joy Adamson

9. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou

10. Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

11. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

12. Just Kids by Patti Smith

13. Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

14. What Are You Hungry For? by Deepak Chopra

15. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

16. How to Estimate With Rsmeans by Saleh A. Mubarak

17. Spinster by Kate Bolick

18. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

19. Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

21. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

22. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

23. The Body Book by Cameron Diaz

24. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

25. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

26. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose by The Oprah Magazine

27. The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven

28. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

29. The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz

30. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Elizabeth Gilbert

31. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

32. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

33. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

34. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

35. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

36. Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet by Kellyann Petrucci

37. Balancing in Heels by Kristin Cavallari

38. The Signature  of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

39. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

40. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

41. Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

42. The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

43. The 13th Disciple by Deepak Chopra

44. Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi

45. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

46. Marley and Me by John Grogan

47. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (My second time reading this)

48. The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder

49. The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

50. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

51. Commonwealth by Ann Patchet

Books I started in 2016 but haven’t finished:

  1. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho (My second time reading this)
  2. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  3. How Not To Die by Michael Greger
  4. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown

Audio Books I listened to:

  1. I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan
  2. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon
  3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

To more traveling through reading in 2017!

Traveling is.

a state of mind.

It’s eating a home made version of our New Orleans favorite meals on Fat Tuesday, with traditional cocktails AND dessert. (homemade by M)

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It’s reading a British novel during my lunch break. Imagining myself riding the train with the character, the way I did on my college graduation trip to the UK.

 

It’s going to a  Museum for an exhibit from Germany, that has been all around the world, then eating a feast at a local restaurant.

 

Traveling is everything.