Tag Archives: beauty

Welcome to LA

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” – Buddha

It has been three months since I went to California and my life since then has completely changed.

 

It was a trip where I was able to put a lot of things in my life into perspective and remind myself that “impossible” still spells out “possible.” My trip to the West Coast played a huge factor in helping me stay determined, and continue to strive to accomplish the goals I had set for myself at that time.

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We can overcome challenges as long as we believe that it is possible.



My time in Los Angeles started with a challenge. It was a morning of revelations; realizing that what my friends and I envisioned Los Angeles to be, really wasn’t. It wasn’t a magical place where everything shines and beauty fills the streets like the sunlight fills the sky. It was a place with struggles and untold stories; a place where the sparkle of diamonds easily takes the attention away from what’s bleak and hidden.

After taking and overnight greyhound bus from San Francisco [Read about my last day] we find ourselves starring at the streets of downtown LA. It was not what we expected. The poverty was evident and it made us wonder how such a famous city got to this point. It was around 7am and the sun wasn’t out yet. We headed straight to my friend Albert’s apartment, who so generously allowed us to stay with him for the next four days. After settling in, we headed to the Grand Central Market to eat some breakfast. The market was filled with all types of delicious food! We ended up getting breakfast at the famous Eggslut. I had the best bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel I have ever tasted.

I wish that throughout our stay in LA we would of went back to try some of the other foods available at the market because I have heard some great reviews… so if you ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, please go get some food at the Grand Central Market. 

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After we were done eating, we picked up our rental car and parked it in a parking garage for the rest of the day. To make matters worse like if we weren’t already concerned by the poverty in the city, as we left the garage, the situation escalated when we were followed by two men. It was one of the scariest experiences I have ever encountered on a trip. Luckily, we were able to escape them but it definitely reminded us of the dangers that three girls traveling alone could easily encounter. When we arrived back to the apartment we were pretty shook and swore to stay with Albert for the rest of our stay in the city.

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Later that day we took the LA Metro to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of Los Angeles biggest and most known attraction’s comprised of all the Hollywood Stars. The area kind of reminded me of 42nd street in New York City because it was lively and busy. Honestly, I felt a bit star struck as I stood there and took in everything going on around me.

As we walked down the Walk of Fame and looked at all the different names on the stars we came across the TLC Chinese Theater.

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We didn’t go in but we inspected the outside and loved what we saw… a little reminder to go on and change the world.

After a few minutes of walking it dawned on us that we were hungry; it was time to get some In-N-Out Burger. This is a huge must do in the west coast.

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When we go in I see the biggest line I have ever seen at a fast food restaurant. However, they weren’t joking when they said In and Out. Regardless of the line, the food came out pretty quick and I must say that the burger and animal fries were quite delicious.

We had a rough start with the challenges we faced in the morning but by night time things definitely got better and we started seeing the city in a different light. After our burgers, we walked on the stars some more until we came across the Baja Beach Bar. We saw some great drink specials and just like that it was time to start drinking and time to start celebrating our first day in LA. I really loved this place because it had a nice relaxed vibe to it, a good beer selection and great service.

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Next we were off to Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. This bar was fun and retro with a cool 70’s theme all around. We walked in through a refrigerator door and I was sold immediately. The place was packed and it was before 10pm! That should say something, right?

We headed back to downtown LA and Mrs. Fish was our next stop. We ended up spending most of our night in this nightclub listening to an amazing live band. I had such a great time dancing and singing along to the songs that I knew. Even taught someone how to two-step. We left after the band finished performing straight to Perch Los Angeles, a French inspired rooftop bar. Perch has an incredible view of downtown Los Angeles.

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It was the beauty I was expecting to see the instant I stepped out of the Greyhound earlier that day. There’s beauty everywhere sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. 

We enjoyed the view and about an hour later walked back to Albert’s apartment. The streets of downtown LA were peaceful and in the darkness the sounds of laughter filled the skies. Before calling it a night, we went into Pellicola Pizzeria, a cute hip pizzeria that shows movies every night. The pizza was tasty and after we pleased our bellies we were happy to be safe and proud to have made it through the day.

[To Be Continued…]

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I longed for a warm scarf…

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times” – Asian Proverb

Day 2 started with homemade mimosas and extreme bewilderment as to why it was so ridiculously cold. [Read Day 1] I longed for a warm scarf and a cozy jacket. So what do I do? I purchase the fluffiest scarf I could find at Walgreens. Once I had my fluffy warm scarf, I was ready to tackle on the adventures that awaited us.

Our first stop was the Painted Ladies. We decided that it would be ideal to walk there since it was approximately only a 15 to 20min walk from where we were staying in Nob Hill. During our walk, I was just in awe by the beauty that surrounded us. There was something about the architecture in San Francisco that gave the city a modern vintage look.

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On our way we passed Japantown. Apparently, the Japantown in San Francisco is the oldest of the three remaining Japantown’s in the U.S. which, all happen to be in California. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore Japantown, but it was nice to learn of its existence.

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When we finally arrived to the Painted Ladies we were confused. For some odd reason we thought that the Painted Ladies was the location of the Full House (the sitcom) house. However, it’s not! The Painted Ladies is actually one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. Right in front of the Painted Ladies is Alamo Square Park where people usually sit on its hill and enjoy the view of the beautiful colorful houses. Unfortunately, the hill was fenced up and tourists had to take their beauty shots from across the street.

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The infamous Chinatown was our next stop. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the second-largest Asian community in North America. Chinatown was filled with an abundance of culture and history. There were stories being told all over the streets through the form of art.

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By this point we were starving and wanted some food. We go on the look for some authentic Chinese food but, instead end up having Sushi at Sushi Taka, a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi burritos and rice bowls. The irony, we skip Japantown to eat in Chinatown and end up getting Japanese food. Sushi Taka was a small spot in the corner of Kearny street and was only take-out. The line was long but we waited because that only meant that it would be worth it. All three of us order the Sushi burrito and decide to eat at the park in Portsmouth Square, known as the heart of Chinatown.

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The square was filled with pigeons, adorable Asian elderly locals, kids and your few random scattering civilians/tourists. Everything was so serene. We sat by the kid’s playground. As soon as Steph took a bite of her Sushi burrito, she saw a new world and stated that it was the best thing she has ever had. In the midst of Steph’s revelation, an elderly man decides to feed the pigeons right by where we were sitting. The pigeons flocked towards us, and as the man grinned with happiness we fled to a new bench fearing the pigeons and their hungry eyes.

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Apart from the awesome Sushi burrito, the best part of Chinatown was the dance group composed of older Asian women. It was the cutest thing ever! They were performing traditional cultural dances. If I knew what they were doing I would of joined in the dancing festivities.

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Off we go to find a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beforehand, I do some quick research and read that there was a nice view of the Bridge in Presidio Park. Therefore, we tell our Lyft driver to take us to the park. After our awkward drive, we find ourselves in the middle of a huge hill with no idea where to go. So what do we do? No, we don’t climb the insane hill as shown above instead, like good tourists, we ask a local girl walking her dog. She points us towards Inspiration Point.

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Inspiration Point was truly inspirational; just breathtaking. From the point you can see Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Palace of Fine Arts and the East Bay.

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I am absolutely obsessed with scenic views because there is so much power in them. They hold dreams, inspirations, love, hope; they hold stories of success, failures, sacrifices, beginnings and ends. All we simply have to do is get lost in them and we are sure to discover something valuable. 

Inspiration Point and all its beauty did not have a view of the Golden Gate so our search continued. After waiting for our lost Uber driver for about a half hour, we made it to the Marina District.

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The Marina District houses the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck and the design reflects the impression of a Roman ruin. It was stunning to look at. There’s always so much meaning behind historical buildings. I always find it interesting.

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As we started walking towards Crissy Field we came across baby ducklings! Yes, it was an exciting point in our trip! We don’t see baby ducklings everyday.

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Finally! We found our view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was perfect. However, in the midst of all the perfection was the strong cold wind blowing so fiercely that my scarf didn’t feel as warm as it did in the morning. There I was again longing for a warm scarf. I sat down as the cold winds caressed my face and took the opportunity to call home. It was nice to feel home close to me as I viewed a historical landmark.

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I looked at the Bay with gratitude and thought of how perfect the moment was. I was truly and genuinely happy.

To be Continue…

Cali, the West Coast, why not?

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

I finally did it! After years of dreaming, I finally made my way to California. All I simply needed was my dream and two friend’s with the same vision.

My friend Stephany proposed the idea to me. At first, I was hesitant because I was focused on all the problems I had going on at the moment but, after a few exchange of words Steph convinced me to take a week off work. “Cali, the West Coast, why not?”
Then we reeled in our friend Damaris who was down for the cause as soon as the idea was presented to her. Soon after we were ready to start planning our trip to Los Angeles, California. In the midst of planning, Damaris had a genius idea; why limit ourselves to Los Angeles? Why not visit San Francisco too? Next thing you know using Expedia we booked an affordable flight to San Francisco and an overnight Greyhound from San Fran to LA.

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Early on Tuesday, May 24th we were at the San Francisco International Airport trying to decide how we were going to get to our Airbnb. After weighting our options, we decided to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit,) the train. We would then get off at the stop closest to our destination in Nob Hill, the area in San Francisco where we were staying, and from there take a Lyft. The BART was definitely an experience. For starters we had no idea how to figure out the ticket machine! If it wasn’t for the local lady who kindly assisted us we would of held up the line for quite awhile. Also, traveling on a train with six suitcases (two per girl) is not as easy as it sounds. No, we didn’t overpack, we were carrying sheets and pillows for our trip to LA…I’ll explain that at a later time. When we got off at our stop Steph and Damaris struggled getting their suitcases up the stairs. It was quite hilarious because an older woman, who was struggling just as bad as Steph, offered to help her with her luggage. The lesson here is that you are never too old to be a good Samaritan. Once we all finally made it up the stairs it hit us… we were in San Francisco, California. We were in the middle of a super busy street, we couldn’t find our Lyft and it seemed that even when we did, the driver wouldn’t have a spot to load our suitcases. Luckily, our driver finds us, she looks at us and our six suitcases like we were crazy, we loaded our stuff, get cursed at by an old man driving, reminding us that we were “not in New York City,” and just like that we were off to Nob Hill.

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We have been traveling since 5Am EST and arrived to our Airbnb around 12pm PDT. We gained three extra hours and we were tired but, more than ready to venture out into the streets of San Francisco. Our first task was to find and ride a San Francisco Cable Car.

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After walking up and down a few steep hills and after waiting what seemed like forever, we finally made it into a cable car! The destination was Fisherman’s Wharf. We paid $7 for a 2min ride down a hill. I didn’t really get to enjoy the ride because it was super crowded and the lady that charged us was extremely rude (don’t work with people if you don’t like people.) However, in the end I did get the experience so it was all worth it.

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When we arrived to Fisherman’s Wharf it seemed as if it got colder and the winds became stronger. It seemed crowded but not too crowded and, the streets were clean. It was a peaceful late afternoon down at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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As we walked and looked for some food, we came across some beautiful street art by a sweet Peruvian man. We loved his work so much we each bought something! He even gave us a discount!

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We stopped to eat at Capurro’s Restaurant where they had a delicious lunch special (half a crab sandwich with a side of clam chowder soup and fries.) 

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We enjoyed our tasty beers and laughed a lot. Everything seemed perfect and it felt like we had so much time left in our day. We walked Fisherman’s Wharf and came across a lot of boats, shops (Steph got her self a San Fran hoodie) and a lot of chain restaurants we were used to seeing back home. Steph and Damaris even made a new friend.

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As we walked closer to the shore of the San Francisco Bay, we saw Ghirardelli Square from a far.

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At this point it was freezing and the wind was uncontrollable. The Bay looked like an abyss filled with unknown secrets and stories. We admired it for as long as we could and then decided to head up the hill towards Lombard Street, where San Francisco’s famous crooked street resides.

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On our 2min cable car ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf we passed Lombard Street so we figured the walk up wouldn’t be so bad.

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Wow, were we wrong! We had the most intense workout. We walked one steep hill after another. Anyone who decides to visit San Francisco, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a daily workout.

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The crooked street housed a beautiful scenic view of the Bay Area. It was absolutely breathtaking. This is just one of the many views in San Francisco that leave you at a lost of words. After admiring what Lombard Street had to offer it was time to head back to our Airbnb. We walked so much and up so many hills, that by the time we got back we literally couldn’t feel our legs.

Just when I thought we were calling it a day, Steph and Damaris start craving Crêpes. So out we go around the block to Crêpes ooh La La. It’s a small place and nothing flashy but wow are the Crêpes amazing! The French man was also super adorable. He had a conversation with Damaris in French and I loved every second of it… as per usual.

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I had the strawberry, banana and Nutella Crêpe. It was worth every single penny! While we were there we had an unfortunate encounter with a drug addict. This was the start of a social issue we slowly started realizing in the San Francisco area. Soon after, it was time to call it a night. We head back, put on our PJ’s and collapse.

We survived our first day in California. 

Not that long ago I had long hair…

Not that long ago I had long hair. Actually, I had processed long hair. Every 6 months I would relax my hair and make sure I killed my curls, what at the time I considered “bad hair.”

“Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.”– Ian Thomas

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Let me start from the beginning. I am Latina; born of parents from the Dominican Republic. My mom has very curly hair and my dad does as well so naturally, I was also born with very curly hair. However, my hair wasn’t only curly it was thick! I remember I wore my hair curly a lot and that straightening it was a process my mom struggled with. One day I went to the hair salon and was told I was getting a “deep conditioning treatment” and next thing I know I had beautiful straight long hair. It was like that for the next 14 years, but don’t get me wrong, I still “curled” my hair…so I thought.

Fall 2012 I went to study abroad in Europe. My biggest concern was my hair. I have no idea how to straighten my own hair  (I still don’t.) I was so nervous because I didn’t know if I was going to find someone who knew how to manage my “processed” hair correctly. For the most part, every week abroad was a different hair stylist until, I gave up the last few weeks, and washed and go everywhere I went.

I learned a lot about my hair abroad. I realized that my hair wasn’t curly anymore. They weren’t coils, they were loose waves…kind of looked like spaghetti. Every time I relaxed my hair I killed my curls and damaged my edges. Throughout the years, every hair stylist I went to would tell my mom and I that I didn’t need a relaxer but, I was too obsessed with my straight hair to care. Abroad, I finally understood why I didn’t need to continue relaxing my hair…

My curls are beautiful!!

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It was time to become obsessed with my curls. It took me a few years to make the actual move but last year, I chopped a reasonable amount of my processed hair, and started my transition from processed to natural hair. With all the internal changes I was going through, I thought it would be the perfect time to get rid of everything that hid who I was. It was finally time to be ME! It definitely hasn’t been easy. There are days where I miss my long hair and wish my hair would just grow already. Then there are days were I am so happy I don’t have to straighten my hair every single week! However, I don’t regret my decision. My hair is healthier and stronger than it has ever been in the past!

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My transition still has some time before it is fully complete but I am changing with my hair. I’m cutting the bad out of my life, conditioning the good so it can get stronger and better and slowly growing into the woman that I am…because there isn’t anything else that I wish to be than Simply great!

New Meanings

Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning – Paulo Coelho

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As I sit here writing: I am thinking about love and all the different meanings my life has given it. I am thinking about the new year and the possibilities roaming around waiting to be found. I am thinking about what I left behind in 2015 and what I hope to gain in 2016.

I spent my Thanksgiving and Christmas surrounded by family and love yet feeling lost. I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was missing.  I’ve had this feeling for quite some time now and after a year of adventures and self-discovering it seemed out of place to feel so lost. Until it finally came to me, I’m terrified to feel comfortable where I am in life. I am not in a place of ultimate happiness; it’s not a place where I could add a new meaning to love.

It’s great to be surrounded by family, to come home to them and feel safe, but safe is comfortable, safe is settling.

I realized that what I need to do is find a new meaning to love and find happiness in something different and uncomfortable. 2015 was the year of self-discovery but 2016 will be the year of accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, self-discovery never ends because there is something new to learn about yourself with each day that passes. However, this is the year I will discover new meanings to everyday emotions.

I challenge everyone to step out of their comfort zones and find new meanings to love, hope, faith, courage…to life. You might discover something unexpected, something that causes you to simply be great!

 

Pumpkin Picking!

I hate the cold. There’s absolutely nothing about the winter that I like other than warm PJ’s and fuzzy socks. Now, fall? There’s so much more to love: colorful leaves, hoodie season/boot season, fall TV, my birthday, Thanksgiving and pumpkins…lots of pumpkins!

Pumpkins are fun! They come in all different sizes and different types of roundness. You can paint them, carve them, decorate your home or personal space with them, use them to make tons of goodies (like pumpkin pie,) and the best of all, pick them from a pumpkin patch!

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I finally went pumpkin picking at Terhune Orchards, in Princeton, NJ, during their Fall Family Fun Weekends. The day consisted of: pony rides, pedal tractors, tractor drawn wagon rides, a corn stalk maze, an adventure barn, a live band, food and much more! It was absolutely amazing. I was surprised to see the farm so packed. Honestly, it excited me even more. Funny how sometimes something so simple can make us so happy. 

Two of my sorority sisters, Lianne and Christina, accompanied me on my latest adventure.

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We talked and laughed throughout our entire time together…most importantly they picked me up when I was down.

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I’m all about cherishing those simple moments. The ones that don’t take much to make you happy. We are surrounded by simple opportunities that could really teach us something about ourselves, the people around us and life itself. It’s all about finding it within yourself to take that step towards something great. 

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Find those moments, learn from them and cherish them.

I decided that pumpkin picking will be my personal yearly event to celebrate the fall season with my family and friends. 

I truly believe that Autumn has arrived with hope and love!

Good Company

There’s just something refreshing about being surrounded by good company.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition.” – Mark Twain

When I think of good company a few things come to mind: happiness, laughter, being myself, adventure, relaxation and motivation. I like to surround myself with people who will ultimately inspire me; people who at the end of the day remind me to always be great, even in the moments that are not so great.

A few weeks ago it was my friend Stephany’s birthday. To celebrate we had Brunch at Zylo Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. 
[Click Here For More Info On Brunch]

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I told Steph about my new hobby, photography, and she was more than thrilled to allow me to take pictures during our outing. I was so excited to carry a camera all day. I felt like such a creative bumblebee just buzzing around collecting sweet shots of honey. I was able to capture unique moments. Moments that tell more than one story. Moments that are now forever imprinted and that can be remembered if one day forgotten.

We sipped on mimosas for 2.20 hours and ate until we couldn’t fit anymore food in our stomachs. So yes we ate, drank and laughed. Could it have gotten any better than that? Of Course!

Hoboken has a great view of New York City being located right next to the Hudson River. It has the type of view that will make you get lost in it…and we did.

We came across an Arts and Music festival! I was so excited.

We all walked together finding something to laugh about with each step we took. So much life and vibrance everywhere! We inspired each other to keep smiling. It’s the small things that count and those moments we spend with those that make us better. Surround yourself with those that make you great. Surround yourself with those that inspire you. Surround yourself with good company.