Merry Christmas from our new kitchen! Last Christmas we had a big open room, and now we have a beautiful space that we can cook in, decorate and just live in.
This Christmas season has reminded us that as much as you have planned, life and God sometimes have other plans for you that are beyond your control. Some of those things are sad, some of those things are annoying and sometimes those things can be good! And sometimes, those things remind us to slow down, hug a little longer, and relax.
As 2022 wraps up, I hope you can soak in a little more Christmas magic and that these last few days are relaxing, productive, and fulfilling to end the year on a good note.
Itching for a little getaway? Here’s what to do, and what not to do if you’re spending 48 hours in Miami. Our impromptu weekend trip to Miami was driven around the purpose of going to see Lady Gaga’s Chromatica tour and last stop at that. So please enjoy this travel guide that is written with some dry humor based on the roses and thorns from our recent trip.
What to Do in Miami
Stay in South Beach. 100% no questions asked and on Ocean Drive. The vibe from Ocean Drive to Collins Ave is like night and day. I’m so glad we stayed on the western part of South Beach just off Ocean Drive at the Marriott Stanton.
Book a Hotel with Amenities, on the Beach. If we didn’t want to, we honestly didn’t have to leave our hotel. We had direct beach access, a private pool, a top-notch sushi restaurant, Starbucks, a bar, and a cantina restaurant (& a gym, but we didn’t entertain that life in our 48-hours). What more do you need? Oh, I’ll tell you, complimentary margaritas (2 each), complimentary beach chairs, and prime walking to the beach and the rest of Ocean Drive. The only complaint was the wait for the elevator, so we just got more exercise with the stairs!
Go to Gianni’s at the Mansion. Gianni Versace’s mansion located right on Ocean Drive is a must, from the atmosphere to the food it was an incredible experience. Interested? Check out my guide to Gianni’s to see more!
Stop by the Palace for a Sidewalk Show. As we were headed back from our Versace’s lunch, we were in the midst of a free and insane drag show at the Palace, we of course stopped, hooted and watched — but that would be an experience and the mimosas were definitely flowing!
Buy J. Crew Swim Suits. This isn’t really to do with Miami, but something to do before you come. At the age of 32, I finally appreciate buying a decent swimsuit… my life has been changed.
What NOT to Do in Miami
Don’t Go To a Concert at Hard Rock Stadium. Enough said, just salty.
Don’t take the 6AM Flight. Because no one likes waking up at 3:30am to get to the airport. Our last few trips we’ve been spoiled with late-night flights in (which we did on our way to Miami) or mid-afternoon/evening flights home. We booked the 6am flight in hopes of getting home early, but with delays and just not being worth it just book the late flight and take the extra PTO, you’ll just be happier and won’t be disappointed when you don’t get home early. Also; wear a parka in Miami International Airport – because it is an ice box and horrible.
Don’t walk 40-minutes to Brunch After a Gaga Let Down in 80-degree heat & humidity. Need I say more? Just pick a different place, or take the Uber – maybe decide to walk home, but definitely not there.
Overall our 48-hours in Miami were filled with yummy drinks, pool time (& drinks by the pool), and walks along the beach or Ocean Drive. We obviously went there for a reason, and everything else was a bonus – plus it was a new city for B and I to explore together, so that is always a priceless memory to add to our scrapbook. ❤️
One of our favorite things about travel and Palm Springs is all the good eats, cute restaurants, and different memories we create along the way. I will say, eating out in Palm Springs adds up quickly, I feel like everything is a minimum of $18 and goes up from there – another reason to make this trip a 4-5 day vacay instead of a full 7-days! But honestly, we never regretted any meals and got to try out a few new spots, while returning to our old favorites.
A few weeks before our travel to PSP, they dropped their dining in mandates/requirements – so we were able to enjoy a pre-covid kind of life, even though the next best thing about dining in Palm Springs is you can basically sit outdoors anywhere you go!
gigi’s – best experience
Gigi’s was our first dinner in Palm Springs – and honestly, it was incredible. As soon as we were seated by the hostess and offered complimentary champagne (to which we said, yes please) – the experience was great, the food was amazing, and the atmosphere was intimate and magical. Not to mention the service was so attentive and on point – we were so well taken care of by our server and the rest of the staff.
The cocktails were tasty and had their own unique twist. I ordered the How Cosmopolitan and it came out yellow but was so tasty and refreshing, I had to order a second one! B ordered Gigi’s Martini that was served with crispy fried olives – we have never seen that before and it was definitely a yummy treat. When we get back to Gigi’s I definitely want to try the Tea Snack Tower that they offer for their Hors D’oeuvres – because everything on that list looks unbelievable. We had the GiGi’s Onion Dip Bacon Powder with Waffle Chips and Caviar and the Pig In a Blankey Wagyu Beef Sausage with a Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Puree, Wellington-Style, served with a pink truffle mustard aioli (pictured bottom right). I ordered the Wedge Salad for my main dish, while B got the Charred Broccoli Waldorf salad and Crispy Brick Jidori Chicken, everything was amazing. Honestly, our only complaint was the Brussel Sprouts, they were not crispy and only offered big pieces of bacon. I’d love to try their brunch out next time we visit also, but 10 out of 10 at Gigi’s for us.
In & Out Burger – We love this west coast chain. From the atmosphere, amazing customer service with friendly faces, double cheeseburgers, and animal fries – we had to hit up this favorite twice while we were in Cali. Not to mention we love supporting companies who don’t buckle to corporate America and the backward narrative.
Wilma & Frieda’s – This is another favorite, especially for brunch. We actually ate here three times – once at the downtown Palm Springs location and twice in the El Paso, Palm Desert location, which we prefer for the views and neighborhood. Ordering their homemade biscuits is a must! We also got to try some of their bakery treats, the W&F Bar was brought out to celebrate my birthday and it was incredible, we also tried their strawberry pop tart and that was incredible too. They also serve delicious and reasonably priced mimosas!
Tropicale – Another incredible spot with a great atmosphere, drinks, and delicious food. The way to go here is definitely small plates to share with the table – although the entrees are also delicious. Heading here early for a happy hour cocktail is also a great go-to, but reservations are a must as they fill up fast! The inside is definitely sexy, but the outdoor space is magical and pink.
Copley’s in Palm Springs – This is where we dined for my birthday dinner. Copley’s is known for its incredible and spacious outdoor dining space and offers mountain views. The garden walled entryway is a dreamy welcome and the trees throughout are also magical, as the sunset, the lights lit the patio for a truly intimate evening – luckily we could see our dinner! We started with the Chicken and Lemongrass Pot Stickers to share at the table, they were great. From there, B ordered the Ahi Tuna Special, which he loved and I got the Charred-Grilled Center Cut Pork Chop (pictured below). My favorite part of this, however, was being surprised with our desserts being lit with gold glitter candles that B snuck to the waiter for my birthday – I was so surprised, it was awesome!
The Pink Cabana – This is probably the cutest place we ate at and an influencer’s dream for those in-feed photos. Our family friends also picked and arranged this spot for us. I give the Pink Cabana mixed reviews. The champagne selection wasn’t my fave (but that is kind of a problem in California, IMO), and the appetizers weren’t the best – also sitting outside was great, but once it got dark we couldn’t even see our food, also our server wasn’t the greatest, I think we were too much fun for him. The main courses were however incredible, I got a Wagyu steak special that was served with mushrooms, broccolini, and sweet potatoes. B got the Pescatarian Tagine and only wished there was more of it – he also ordered the Hot to Trot cocktailwhich he enjoyed, but wished it was a little more spicey!
Starbucks Reserve – We of course had to stop at the Starbucks Reserve in downtown Palm Springs. Steps away from the Marilyn Monroe statue, we had no clue what to expect, but it was pretty cool. I was not expecting craft coffee cocktails (sans alcohol) basically – B ordered The Melrose, which was a cold brew shaken with cherry bitters, and topped with Bordeaux cherries (see the first photo, on the right).
Since being home we’ve gotten back into our gut-healthy eating lifestyle, but as I mentioned we love exploring and trying new food when we travel. From the endless patios, views, trendy spots, and unique food dishes we are always here for it.
B was definitely on an ahi tuna and spicy cocktail kick, while I was all about the meat and desserts. We also were able to dine with our desert-dwelling friends four times while we were in the desert and they are truly such great company, our dinners were filled with multiple cocktails, laughter, and delicious food – and honestly what is much better in life than that?
I’ll have to admit, the start of the new year did not have me excited. There was nothing ‘new’ to look forward to, and I was feeling less than motivated about making goals for the new year. My IG caption for NYE was; “Hey 2022, we have no expectations for you!” – and that has been widely true after the last two letdowns, I feel like it’s the safe bet. Not to mention, we got hit with the Rona the first week of January, soooo our month has been widely focused on that and taking care of our health.
In my 2021 recap, which was also a bit delayed, I reflected on a lot of the positives that did come with the year, which honestly can be summed up in my goal successes from this past year.
Goal Successes: I paid off my student loans and way ahead of schedule might I add (like 10-months ahead of schedule), which was such a great accomplishment and huge relief. I continued to invest in myself and started therapy, went to a lot of doctor’s appointments to figure out what was wrong with me, which resulted in a completely changed my diet/lifestyle, and eating better food.
Typically, I liked to share in detail my goals for the year – but I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, I’m going to still write them down in my notebook and work on conquering them this new year. It’s a lot of the same honestly, with a few more specific ones but I’ll continue putting my mental and physical health first (through food, exercise, self-care, making me a priority), take trips for B and me, save more money, continue to work on my anxiety and build boundaries.
I will say, I do firmly believe in making goals, setting intentions, and making priorities for yourself. They help you adjust and prioritize, reel yourself in, or push yourself more. I actually already accomplished one of my 2022 goals… so I’m hoping that will be a bit more liberating and help me continue to do more things that I want to do with B.
Here is too minimal expectations, letting our hair down, and having some fun this year!
My last kitchen reno update was from August with demo officially underway. Fast-forwarded to mid-September we confirmed our ‘contractor’ and got work started, as we finally got city permit approval – which was honestly such a pain in the butt and took way longer than anticipated. So to give an abbreviated update on a big project that has lasted over the last 3-4 months, I’m going to touch on a few of the roadblocks – but spare the gory deets – cause we are in such a better place.
OK, let’s get into it. One of the biggest outcomes of the permit process was the need to actually add and build a new foundation for the 2ft by 8ft area we were expanding as opposed to doing a cantilever. This added to the timeline and budget, but in the end, honestly a better solution. So this first part of the process was SLOW, waiting for the brick, cement, and all the layers to dry and settle.
Cabinet Drama & Delays. Another roadblock that we didn’t anticipate was our kitchen cabinets. We were confident and told that we would be able to get those measured and ordered (before our footprint was complete). WELL, that wasn’t the case. The original cabinet company we decided to go with seemed to have a lot of upfront misinformation and we had to wait over a month before we were even close to being able to order cabinets (aka half our timeline) – as they requested to have drywall up before measuring and working on any layouts. Needless to say, the deadline of making Thanksgiving… or even Christmas was shot especially as lead times increased on top of that. Long story short, we ended up finding another (local) cabinet company who worked with us a million times better, had great communication, great solutions for our space, and a fair price compared to the original company (and the cabinets have been ordered!)
Contractor* Be Gone. At the beginning of November, we kindly said thanks for all your work to our ‘contractors’ and took over the rest from there. We quickly realized as more of the aesthetic work was being done that the attention to detail was missing severely and B and I are way too picky, spending a ton of money and have a vision and like things the way we like them. *grins* We ended up having to finish cleaning up the mudding, all the painting, flooring, finishing electric fixtures, adding all the trim work, and will end up doing the backsplash once we have cabinets and counters in place. This was a little extra sticky because it was a family friend who we went with, and have worked with before – but it just wasn’t going to work out for the full project like we’d hoped.
*I’m using the word “contractor” because it’s the easiest way to say our family friends who were doing the work for us.
REAL TALK: Dealing with the workers day in and day out, and living in the construction was EXHAUSTING. It NEVER ended – this heightened once the workers were actually in the house. And B and I were not in a good space as a team – we were stressed, arguing, upset, and frustrated with the work, progress, communication, lack of communication, games, and everything else in between and we were just over it. The unfortunate best thing for us was to get as much done from them, give a firm cut-off date and cut ties for our sanity. The sanity still took a bit to get back to… but I think we are finally in a better place (until we have to install the backsplash I am sure). 🙃
Now What? Basically, we are in the ‘wait for cabinets’ stage – which we’re hoping come sometime in January?! We have a big open room just waiting for it to truly become a kitchen. We are also waiting for our stove to be delivered again, so hopefully no more delays from that end. We were able to finish the floor install over Thanksgiving with a huge help to my parents – and again, thank goodness, because the attention to detail my dad has doesn’t even compare to our ‘workers’ and I know B and I would’ve been pissed… but I’m digressing!
We cannot wait to host in our kitchen, I honestly just cannot wait to have a sink on the main floor… and for my dining room and rest of the house to get back in order with everything misplaced. So, until then, we wait!
I had to come back from my month+ hiatus to celebrate a biggie. Today marks ten years with B… a whole decade, a whole third of my life ♥️! Our first date was on May 5th — and I always just use that date as the start of our relationship, because #FunFact: B never officially asked me out, we just were ever since our first date together.
Looking back, we were pretty inseparable since our first date and I know my when my parents rolled into town that weekend after our first date, and I was asking to go hang out with him at a bar they were like who is this dude? *smiles* There were so many early on signs that pointed to B and I being meant for each other, but I think my favorite was when we “found” each other in a crowd after my first half marathon. B was literally the first person I bumped into, before I could even find my gigantic family who I came with! It was just one of those movie moments that made you all starry-eyed. And if you’ve ever been in the aftermath of a race, you know it’s quite crowded and a sea of people.
Usually, we celebrate with Chipotle — but this year we’ll be making our own chicken lettuce wraps as we wrap up a 30 day gut cleanse and no alcohol, but that’s ok 🙃! We’ll be celebrating in the spirit of last year’s Cinco De Mayo funand dreaming of taco pizza – but at least we’re in it together.
A year ago today, we were all just starting to process the initial impact of the coronavirus… we had hope that it would be a blimp in the year, and not actually consume an entire year or completely turn our world’s upside down. We had optimism and hope, even as schools, gyms, churches and restaurants closed down. One good thing that came of the coronavirus, literally hitting on my birthday, was that turning 30 didn’t hold the weight it did leading up to the day – the pressures changed (but I am sure they’ll be back soon enough!) And here we are, welcoming 31.
This past year my anxiety reached new levels, a new kinda of anxiety, which has made me finally make my mental health a priority, even if it took 8-months. I’ve learned to go with the ups and downs, and when I need to take a break and when I needed to push out of my comfort zones to better my mental health. I’ve learned when I need to communicate the pain, the struggle and where I am at in the moment, so that other’s know how I feel and why decisions are made. While, not a whole lot of this past year made sense, what was right, what was wrong — with so many different opinions and thoughts, it came down to doing what made sense for me, what made sense for B and I. And not all of those decisions probably made sense to others, and I know future decisions won’t make sense to everyone either — but we are still trying to navigate into some semblance of normal, and that is still going to be disjointed for awhile.
I hope 31 brings back more moments of normal. I hope that I can continue to grow personally, continue to grow more in love with B, create new memories, focus on friendships, look for the positive, share love, learn new things, start making new plans, celebrate the precious moments, while cutting out the negativity in any shape or form it may be. So here’s to 31, another year of possibilities and hope!
Happy New Year! It’s that time again — that time to reset and refocus our energy, our priorities and look back at successes and even failures from the previous year, things we’ve learned about ourselves. And with that, it’s important to review your previous goals – and if you didn’t have any, you can only go up from here – so here is a quick update on how I did with my 2020 goals.
My 2020 Goals Successes: I paid off my credit card debt, before my 30th birthday — and even better, I’ve kept the credit card paid off. It’s so refreshing and freeing to have that under control. I also successfully completed one of my fitness goal of running 6-races, which proved more challenging because they all got delayed into Q4. We were also able to squeeze in one trip, which I will take for how 2020 went. And, I think that I fulfilled my goal of saying “No” which was also a bit easier, because you know, covid — and maybe one of the few things I’ll thank covid for.
Here are my goals for 2021:
Pay Off My Student Loans by December 2021. With the pandemic, student loans got a break with 0% interest among other things for most of the year — so I made sure to take advantage of that, while also paying more on my loans due to the money I’ve saved without having other expenses (car, gym, spa). With the help of my rain-man hubby, we’ve calculated for me to be on track and student debt free while I’m still 31! Being able to pay these off all by myself, while I’m still relatively young and 9-years post graduation is something I am truly proud of and fortunate to be able to do.
Monthly Volunteering. I unfortunately got out of dog walking volunteering, which I was doing almost weekly pre-covid. I then was trying to get a goal of at least monthly, which I was doing pretty well with, but the end of the year not so much. So my goal is to get back to that monthly volunteering for at least 2-hours, and then if things get better, I’ll start going more frequently. This will also help push me to do more “social” things without actually being social.
Good for the Soul. Focusing on things that are good for the soul and things I enjoy doing is going to continue to be a priority. Things like: Friends, travel, good food, bubbles, saying no, house projects, decorating, speaking my truth, reading, creating, dogs, sleeping in, and watching Bravo. Traveling is always a priority and on our to-do list (& oh so good for the soul), and we already have two trips outlined. This past year has also proven to enjoy the simpler things in life, like hanging out just B and I, playing games, listening to music and laughing the night away — hopefully we can just add a few more friends and family to that scenario.
Continue to Invest in Myself. This is both mentally and physically. Due to affect effects of covid, I’ve found that working out and staying healthy is going to be more of an effort, also sadly, because my former gym ended up closing last year due to financially hardships. So I’ve already started to purchase more at-home fitness equipment to help workouts become more attainable, without an excuse of not having equipment. Mentally, I’ve been needing to find someone to talk too since the spring. Again, I’ve made excuses not being able to find anyone that feels right — but I need to get it started. I spoke to someone in college and it helped immensely.
As you may have noticed, a lot of these goals, seem to be getting back to a normal life and piecing together the after effects from the pandemic (which BTW is still happening). And one of those biggies will be my fitness goals. I’ll be sharing those more specific goals on my upcoming Fitness Friday post — I think it’s important if you want your health and fitness to be a priority and is a personal goal, to make specific goals attainable and specific to fitness without just saying; “stay in shape” or “work out.” And I’ll be sharing my fitness goal failures too.
I also recently did one of those word scrambles, where you look at a bunch of letters and pull out the first four words you see. My four words were: Health, Family, Love and Strength. I think these are good mantra words to hold onto and focus for my new year — even if it’s a silly little internet thing.
What’re your goals? Share one or one of your focus words in the comments below!
Hi my bees! It’s time for a ray of optimism in a year that is seemingly turning out to be one shit storm after the next. And I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t been able to maintain the optimism as much as I was in the early months of quarantine.
Goal #1 is to meet my running goal of 2020 and run six races. Since last Fitness Friday, I’ve been able to sign-up and add another race to our fall list — making a total of four races (including my January run). Which makes me only two away from hitting my six! I was hoping to get a half in, but I’m not sure if that will happen — maybe it still will, we will see!
Goal #2 is to run at least 2x a week, starting tomorrow! I have been recently reminded that my workout routine has been less than consistent — and I need to lean in a bit more on fitness, exercise and getting outside more consistently than I have been, especially to help deal with my stress and anxiety in a healthier way (which FTR, has been through the roof 24/5 lately).
So I’m taking my race obstacles and anxiety obstacles and I’m going to step on them to more opportunities and reaching my goals and ultimately feeling better inside and out. What’re your current obstacles, and how can you jump on them to new opportunity?
Here’s to staying strong, staying active and reach our goals!