Love is.

morningThe sound of a tiny sleepy yell of “Tia?!” – searching the room until discovering us in a mess of pillows next to the bed. Laying together in our PJs watching cartoons and laughing out loud when “baby brother” makes drool infused noises to get our attention.

Happy Valentine’s Day tiny beans.



My favorite memories from Christmas as a child are:

  • Always being given the turkey leg because I was the youngest.
  • Putting the baby Jesus in the nativity scene at midnight.
  • The grandma and grandpa barbies my grandparents got me. The giant box had a grandma Barbie, a grandpa Ken, a girl and a boy, I think the girl would be “Kelly.” Back then at least, “Skipper” was a teenage barbie, but “Kelly” was the younger one. It also came with McDonald’s mini happy meals and birthday hats. I loved McDonald’s back then as well, so this was the most epic Christmas gift I could receive.
  • Random people at Christmas. I didn’t realize this until I got older, but I remember people’s friends (of my Mom’s, or my Aunt’s  ETC.) coming to Christmas dinner last minute. My Grandma or my Mom looking through their gifts before everyone arrived to see what they could re-gift to this last minute guest. Now that I’m older I realize whatever the reason this last minute guest was with us probably meant a sad or unpleasant family situation. My family never wanted anyone to go without at least having a gift to open. The effort I saw as a child to put something together for others means everything to me now.
  • My grandmother’s decorations. Besides speaking several languages, having birthed 7 children, being a great cook, a world traveler and being and staying truly in love with my grandfather since they were teenagers, my grandmother was an incredible artist. She could paint, draw, sew, knit, you name it. She made things for us until the moment she died, beautiful dolls, quilts, clothing – but my favorite were her decorations. Not store bought, hand made with such intricate details. My absolute favorite was a toilet seat cover with Santa on the top, and when you open the lid to use the toilet, Santa is on the inside part but with his hands over his eyes.
  • My grandpa’s mini foods. I still love anything mini, I remember one Christmas specifically my grandpa making mini sopes, one of my favorite food’s in miniature. They were so cute, and so delicious.
  • Making the holiday menu. I didn’t help much with cooking as a child, but I was always on menu duties. My grandpa or my mom would write out what the holiday menu was going to be on a note pad and I would create  one for each person, on nice paper, with fancy colorful pens. They were then carefully placed on each person’s table setting.
  • Three Kings Day! I’ve never been into Santa, but the much less talked about or celebrated 3 Kings have always been my thing. I loved keeping our Christmas tree up until after January 6th, cleaning my shoes and waking up to one last gift for the holidays. Then the best part, eating the “Rosca de Reyes” and waiting to see who got a plastic baby in their slice. In 2012 my grandmother saved me a piece of “Rosca” in her freezer so I could eat it the next time I visited. I got to eat it when I visited for the 80th birthday that same year.

M & I have a tradition of doing non tangible gifts for Christmas, experiences or events. This year we gave each other a trip to New York City. We’ve both been there, but never during Christmas time when the whole city is decked out in Christmas lights!


One of my favorite nights we walked through Bryant Park to people watch. The Song ‘Christmas’ (Baby Please Come Home) was playing loudly, there was a giant tree, lights and people everywhere. We watched the ice skaters and spotted several little children learning to ice skate by holding and pushing to giant penguins for support. It was such a cute, simple, Christmas time moment.


At 230 Fifth – a rooftop bar with front row view of the Empire State Building, we tried to stay warm with their hot spiked drinks. One which inspired our much better version of their  Vodka Peppermint Hot Chocolate, with M’s homemade honey, vanilla & cinnamon whipped cream – which was a huge hit with my family on Christmas eve.

The end.

New Orleans – The Big Easy


A little bit of France, a little bit of the South, a little bit Vegas all mixed together makes the magical city that is New Orleans.

M & I visited during Thanksgiving, and it was EVERYTHING. Absolutely one of our favorite trips.

There is nothing I can write to do this place justice, but I’ll try.


The food. It was even better than we imagined. We arrived on Thanksgiving day. All restaurants are open with special Thanksgiving menus, there is a big parade, and there are people walking around the French Quarter. We ate at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill. A Southern  Thanksgiving buffet feast including Turducken gumbo, cajun turkey, shrimp and grits, freshly chucked oysters. A guy in a turkey suit ran around making sure everyone was taken care of. I won’t describe every meal, but this was the perfect “alternative” Thanksgiving meal we could have had eating at a restaurant. So fun, so us.


Continuing with food – oysters. Every menu listed a variety of oysters. I thought a raw oyster is already perfect as is, so why ruin it by grilling it,  or frying it. I was so gladly wrong. Very wrong. Charbroiled oysters with garlic and herbs served with french bread, fried oysters with buffalo sauce and blue cheese on top, oysters cooked in a mushroom sauce, fried oysters in a po’ boy, oysters Rockefeller. All amazing. We still got several dozens of raw oysters throughout the entire trip, but we tried every variation of the cooked ones as well, and oh my goodness they were all heaven.


Beignets, yes we had them every day. At Cafe Du Monde with a cafe au lait. An order to go on our way to sight see. Some from their competition to see if they measure up, on and on. So amazing!


(Where had red beans and rice been my whole life? Incredible.)

Having such great food in California, I feared things like beignets would taste the same as the one’s I’ve had. The climate difference and the fact that they are below sea level actually has a big part in the ‘only in New Orleans unique taste’ when it comes to anything with bread. These beignets were one of a kind delicious!


We tried Muffuletas from central grocery, an Italian deli, and walked across the train tracks to sit on a bench overlooking the Mississippi River while we ate them. Everything was such an experience, these giant sandwiches were so good!

This was such a great weekend to visit because the weather was still very warm, but the Christmas decorations and lights were up. The city is so beautiful already, but adorned with lights – was so cool.


We went to so many interesting bars. The cocktail is said to have been originated here. We had great drinks, at a carousel rotating bar in our historic hotel, a French 75 where it was invented ETC. Every place and drink had a story!

The places. The people.

We did a walking ghost and vampire tour while drinking a local beer. Drinking is not only allowed on the streets, it’s actually highly encouraged. To the point that if you don’t finish a drink at a restaurant, they will give it to you in a to go cup. So fun.


(Here I am standing in front of Delphine LaLaurie’s home)

We visited a Katrina museum which was extremely moving, sad and informative, it made us love the city even more. We both got out of a cab once and immediately said the same thing. After hearing our drivers story, of how him and his family got out of the city during the hurricane we were almost in tears. He also told us about his grand-kids and the time he drove Dwyane Wade around & he happily spoke to his granddaughter on the phone.

We visited two beautiful plantations, with so much history, and so many beautiful trees (my favorite part).

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We walked around their “Central Park” – New Orleans City Park, which is twice the size of Central Park, it has botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, fields, an amusement park, a carousel, a lake, too much to do in one day, even a cafe that sells – beignets!


We went on a Cemetery tour in the oldest Cemetery in the city, in a horse drawn carriage. We toured the French Quarter on the way, and being on the carriage made you feel like you were back in time. I loved all the colors, and imagining what it looked like without cars. The Cemetery was beautiful, we saw Marie Laveau’s grave (Voodoo Queen) and learned all kinds of facts about what it took to be buried there. If you research this Cemetery it says to be the most haunted in the world, I didn’t feel scared, I loved walking around and looking at all the graves.


In fact, I didn’t feel scared anywhere in New Orleans, all of it was so fun – except for one time in the middle of the night in our hotel – which is also known to be haunted, as one of the oldest Hotels in the French Quarter – the Monteleone, I woke up in the middle of the night hearing weird noises. Then I fell back asleep.


We visited the oldest Catholic Church in the United States, as you exit there are people dancing, playing music or asking to read your palm at Jackson Square. So many different colorful stories anywhere you turned.

Loved every minute of this trip.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Podcasts I Listen to While Straightening My Hair


My favorite podcast ever (and the rest of the world’s). I love anything crime, but this takes it to another level. First season is about a guy in jail for the murder of his high school girlfriend. The podcast is put together flawlessly, with music, and actual phone calls with the guy in jail. You can’t listen to an episode and not get hooked. Second season just started, a totally different kind of story, but really great as well.


Of course I started listening to this because of the title. This podcast is amazing because it follows different stories, so you get something new with every episode. My favorite part is that they’re not always stories of the criminal, but many times from a different perspective. Like the latest episode is about a diver that works for the police to recover evidence thrown in bodies of water.


This podcast moves from crimes more into scary, urban legends, horror etc. What I like about it is that the guy researches supernatural or scary stories and kind of gives you a history on the topic and then a few stories or accounts on the subject as well.

Magic Lessons

Someone told me before I went on my trip around the world in 2009 I had to read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read it while on my trip, in one single sitting. This book spoke to me, I highlighted, folded pages, re-read, quoted, etc. I’ve been a fan of her ever since. Hearing her first Ted made me love her even more. Of course when I heard she had a podcast I knew I would love it. Not sure if it will continue, but it went along with promoting her new book “Big Magic” – she helps people who are stuck creatively, these are the “magic lessons.”

Dear Sugar Radio

Before I went on a long trip to Australia, New Zealand and Bali a few years ago I asked friends for book recommendations. I ended up loading my Kindle with the Hunger Game Books and “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. An incredibly moving book about her journey hiking the pacific trail alone. This is her podcast with someone else, where  people write “Dear Abby” type of letters – but instead it’s “dear sugar.” I didn’t love it right away, but now I get so excited when a new episode comes out. Her voice is so soothing, and their advice – even when I don’t agree with it always forces me to think outside of my norm. On one of the first episodes Cheryl called Elizabeth Gilbert for advice, and I thought – o.m.g. of course these two women are friends.

Missing Maura Murray

So I have a love hate with this podcast. Without being mean I think the hosts are odd, and not in a good way. I think at times they are extremely disrespectful, entitled, clueless and silly. However, the case in which they are obsessed with and covering (with no journalism, investigative background, or being linked as family or friends) is fascinating. A girl about my age has been missing for 12 years and no one has any idea what happened to her.

Women of the Hour

Lena Dunham, writer and actress on the TV show called “Girls” which I binged watched this year, created this podcast. Also to promote her book, it is so well made. Perfect editing, music, etc. Known as a vocal feminist she brings up really interesting issues in every episode, has lots of interesting guests, and some really funny stories.



Of course without a doubt my biggest blessing is love. My loved ones are what drive my entire life. Of course I am beyond thankful for my health.  I don’t take it for granted every day my body allows me to walk around and explore. For those things I am eternally grateful.

It’s all the other every day details I want to focus on today:

  • when everyone at work compliments my outfit and I’m like “I know right”
  • when my uncle what’s app’s me with a never before seen picture of my mom when she was 18
  • lunch specials
  • when the perfect song comes on during a long run
  • when my 4 month old nephew smiles at me – he stares right at me, uninterested by anything or anyone else and just smiles right at me
  • when I have leftovers to eat for lunch and they taste better than the night before
  • when my 2 year old niece holds my hand all on her own, not when I ask to so we can cross the street, but when we’re just playing or walking and she reaches up to my hand casually, gets me every time
  • when I park at the roof of my apartment building and I’m just in time to watch to watch the sunset
  • when someone leaves a gift for me on my desk at work
  • leaving work early and hitting all the green lights
  • making spring rolls with my family and eating as many as possible, I personally call mine spring burritos because I always add too many toppings!
  • breakfast in bed
  • when my aunt, who doesn’t know how to use Facebook, and uses my uncle’s account because she locked herself out of hers – tries to message me by commenting on my pictures. I once posted a picture and quote from the Shining and she wrote in all caps “QUIEN ES DANNY???” (who is Danny)
  • when we’re both on board with ordering pizza delivery
  • when you quote Mean Girls in real life or in social media and people STILL get it and think it’s funny, it will never get old, ever, and it will always make me smile
  • when I say something funny at work and everyone laughs, this is my fuel
  • when I get good service, especially at a restaurant, it makes my meal perfect
  • when I ask someone at work how they are, and they don’t answer because they’re too self involved but I end up telling myself I didn’t want to know anyway – THEN someone else walks by and asks what I’m laughing at


Wipe Out!

My work participated in a Wipe Out run. It was ridiculously fun! Best part was that one of the guys who was supposed to run didn’t show up, and M got to take his place and do it with us. I was a bit nervous about the obstacles, but they ended up being a blast, our entire 8 person team laughed the whole way through.


M running through the wrecking balls. Only one of us made it all the way through this one.


Love these 3 pictures in a row. You think a water slide would be fairly simple to go down…


We finished!

Happy Halloween

When I worked at a night club Halloween weekend was always fun. My friends and I would share old costumes, and dress up as something different all three nights in a row. My favorite thing was hearing the security calls on my walkie-talkie radio. You just couldn’t help but laugh when you would hear security looking for a Teletubby who had started a fight with zombie nerd.

This year driving to my office job in full Minnie Mouse costume was fun too. Lots of funny double take looks from cars driving next to me on a busy street. I laughed the whole car ride.

minnie mouse