Tag Archives: way of life

Philly, Hey!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies. One minute I’m traveling; the next I’m back in school preparing assignments and presentations. Sometimes, I truly wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.

Last month, right before I started my my second semester as a Graduate Student, I decided to do a small weekend getaway trip, with some of my girls, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I booked us a really nice hotel room in Center City at Loews Philadelphia Hotel. We had such a breathtaking view of the city. It was one of those views that reminded you of the beauty of architecture and sunlight brightening up the sky, and the serenity created by skyscraper lights. Can you tell I love cities? Because I do. I’ll admit Philadelphia is far from my favorite city but on that weekend, it definitely grew on me.

We decided to walk to our first destination. It was supposed to snow in a few hours and we wanted to enjoy walking, while we could. It wasn’t too cold so it was perfect. In the middle of Midtown Village we came across Finn McCools Ale House.  Here I discovered and had my first White Russian. I don’t know much about cocktails, and at 25 maybe I should know a little more than I do,  but wow was it strong. Luckily, I shared the drink with my friend. We left Finn’s very happy and probably a tad buzzed.

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As we walked towards the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens we came across beautiful murals and graffiti art. Had to stop and take pictures.

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The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is a beautiful project that started in the late 1960s by Isaiah Zagar. It’s a remarkably stunning work of art that opened up to the public in 2008. At first sight, you can’t help but to look in awe at how detailed everything is. Every corner, every inch, is truly magical. We literally stayed there for about two hours just mesmerized by everything. We took so many pictures wanting to capture every moment we created there.

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It started getting colder and that was pretty much our cue to walk back towards are next destination. On the way, we stopped by Strangelove’s Bar. I’m 100% a beer girl so I was more than enthusiastic to try something new. We ended up spending about 1.5 hours just talking and enjoying our beer selection. It was a nice spot and we clearly got sucked into the vibe.

Before heading to Philly, almost everyone I talked to told me to check out the Reading Terminal Market and that’s what we did next. At this point we were starving and all we wanted was food. The place was crowded and the options to eat felt endless. We ended up separating, half of us got Philly Cheesesteaks  while the rest of us got some Soul Food at Keven Parker’s Soul Food Cafe. I devoured my food. It was absolutely mouth watering delicious. There’s no other way of putting it. We couldn’t leave the Market without getting some famous Beiler’s Donuts. The line was insane but totally worth it.

It was early, around 7PM, but it was raining, and phones were dying, so we decided to head back to the hotel to charge for a bit. The plan was to head back out for a few more bar hops, before preparing for our evening festivities, but the bed felt too good for a few of us. The rest of the group headed down to the hotel bar. Never underestimate the hotel bar! You might just end up having a pleasant time with some fancy delicious cocktail, that you keep calling by the wrong name…yep, totally me.

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Eventually, we got dressed for the night. It was an interesting one to say the least. If I had to summarize the night in one word it would be random. We spent most of our night at Time Restaurant. It was a great place divided into three sections: one for dancing, one for live music and one for simply sitting and drinking. After that we somehow ended up at Wawa. That had to be the most crowded Wawa I’ve ever seen.

The next day, before heading back to my house we had Brunch at the famous, and highly loved, Green Eggs Cafe. Beforehand, we had mimosas at Caribou Café, a Parisian bistro, to kill the 1 hr and 45min wait we had at Green Eggs. It was such a cute little French place it took everything in me to not order food.

To end our Philly adventure we took a picture with the Love sign like any other tourist. It was absolutely freezing at this point and we couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

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Philly, was a good adventure. The trip definitely warmed me up to its possibilities. Philadelphia might not have the best public transportation system, but it’s not lacking great bars and places to eat. So if you want a nice weekend getaway why not give Philly a try? I did.

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Last Day In CA

“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” – Vincent Van Gough

It was officially Monday; our last day in Los Angeles, California. We had to wake up super early to move our cars, and it was brutal. We were so tired from our hike the day before. On our search for a parking garage, by accident, we ended up driving by the famous Skid Row. It was by far the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. All the poverty broke my heart. I was truly baffled and speechless. It was one of those experiences that made you grateful for what you have. A reminder to always give thanks for your blessings. At that moment I missed home.

We couldn’t find the right parking garage and it was already 9:00 am. We decided to just have breakfast. Of course, we couldn’t find non-meter parking (meter prices were ridiculous,) so we decided to get our food from Poppy + Rose to go. We really wish we could have ate there because it was a quaint spot; perfect for a relaxed morning with friends.

We ate our breakfast in the car and then head towards FIGat7th. I guess this is LA’s way of modernizing its downtown. Think of it as a mall. We didn’t stay long just stopped by Target, which by the way had a whole liquor area. I was pretty taken aback by that. I haven’t seen a Target with liquor in NJ.

At this point, we were wide awake and just ended up parking the car at a parking place right around the corner of the apartment. It was time to get ourselves ready for Beverly Hills.

Before heading out, we decided to find one of the Los Angeles Angel Wings, which is a part of the Global Angel Wings Project.

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We looked like total tourists and enjoyed every second of it.

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When we arrived at Beverly Hills we were in shock…talk about a total 180 from downtown LA. We parked and thought, “we’ll only stay for two hours max. What can we possibly do for a whole day here.” Yea, we spent our entire day in Beverly Hills without a single care in the world.

It was a perfect day in Beverly Hills. The weather was fantastic and the atmosphere was peaceful. First, we came across this small chocolate shop, Diane Krön Chocolatier. Damaris wanted to get some chocolate for her family. We started talking to the owner and to our surprise she was Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal chocolate connoisseur. She was an absolutely lovely woman with so much kindness. She allowed us to taste some of her delicious chocolates and nicely packaged the chocolates Damaris purchased. It was the perfect welcome to Beverly Hills.

Once we hit the main strip, we came across all the high-class expensive name brand stores that I would never shop at on a daily basis. Dior, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Vera Wang (wedding dress goals,) Tiffany & Co. It was all there!

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We walked in awe. Everything was beautiful and expensive. Surprisingly, we didn’t feel poor, even though we totally were compared to the riches we were surrounded by, which is probably why we didn’t go into any of the stores.

We had lunch at 90210 Pho – A Modern Vietnamese Kitchen. The food was good and prices were affordable. We had the funniest waiter who loved that we were from the East Coast. We considered doing a tour of the mansions but ended up not doing so. We walked around some more and then came across Amorino Gelato Al Naturale. Talk about tasting the softest and most delicious gelato ever!

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Before heading back to downtown LA, we drove past some of the Beverly Hill mansions and swore one day we would own one. They were spectacular! With dreams in the air, we parted ways with Beverly Hills and drove right back into reality.

We ended the night at the Ace Hotel Upstairs. It was interesting, to say the least. We didn’t stay long, even though we tried. I think it was 70’s night; not really our crowd. Just like that ended our final day in Los Angeles, California.

California was definitely a 2016 highlight. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the West Coast. I’m glad I was able to share that with some of my closest friends. We definitely learned a lot from our trip and were able to experience things we didn’t think we would anytime soon. It just goes to show that all you really need to make a dream come true is a little push to make it happen. So thank you Steph and Damaris because only by pushing each other did we make this a reality.

Exploring My Backyard

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Mark Twain

With graduate school and work being my top priorities, it feels like I don’t have time for much. However, I realized that for not having time like I used to, I have been doing quite a lot. Yes, clearly except for keeping up with this blog, which I truly apologize for.

So you may be asking yourself, what exactly have I been up to with my limited time? Well school work, of course! But also exploring my backyard. No, not my actual backyard, there’s not much there but a great space for contemplating life. What I mean is that I have been exploring New Jersey and my surroundings. I love to travel, but when you have so much going on, seeing what new adventures you may find close to home doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

I realized that for not being much of a big deal, New Jersey can be quite surprising, and with neighbors like New York and Pennsylvania can one really complain? Alright, yes, but you get my drift.

My backyard exploring began with wine tasting at the Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, NJ.

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There are so many wineries in NJ and PA that I have no idea why I haven’t become a winery expert by now. It’s honestly the perfect thing to do on a cool Sunday afternoon with a few friends.

Where I found myself next? Well….Even though Atlantic City seems like it’s not part of NJ, well at least to me, it actually is. My best friend Shakia and I attended the 2016 Atlantic City Seafood Festival.

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As I walked in I asked myself if there was such a thing as too much seafood and beer?

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“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost” – Erol Ozan

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I had what, at that time, tasted like the best Crab Mac and Cheese ever! My taste buds were so happy they urged me to take a cup with me home. Unfortunately, the next day it wasn’t as marvelous. It must of been the hunger and moment wrapped into one.

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We came across a friendly Chowder cook-off. All proceeds went to charity so it was only right to taste ALL of the Chowders. I never had so much Chowder (corn, clam, vegetarian) in my life! I think I had enough for the next year and a half.

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To finish off our adventure at the AC Seafood Festival we did a beer tasting of New Jersey beers! It couldn’t have been anymore perfect! Never underestimate the power of a good ‘ol festival. There are tons of festivals all year around. Look up some festivals in your backyard and give it a try, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Philadelphia Restaurant Week snuck up on me, but there was no way I was missing out. Shakia and I ended up going to Fratelli’s Italian Bistro where I had the Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms, Penne Alla Vodka, and Tiramisu for desert.

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I would give the restaurant/food a 3/4. Food and service could have been better but it was still good overall. I think I’m going to make it my personal mission to indulge in Restaurant Week every time. There are just so many restaurants! And I sure do love food!

Then I found myself creating art at ArteVino Studio in Hoboken, NJ for my friend Stephany’s birthday. This would make my fourth painting! Maybe I should open up my own studio at the rate that I’m going, but paint and wine events are so much fun. There’s a ton available all over, not only in NJ, NY or PA!

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I wasn’t really pleased with how my painting came out, but I had a great time with my friends and the experience was well worth it.

I like to think that I can do it all because time will never be just right. I don’t fear stress or being tired (my newfound life on a daily basis,) but I do fear not being able to explore and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Though I’m swamped with adulthood, I will never stop looking for my next adventure, even if it’s in my own backyard, and neither should you.

Remember when I longed for a warm scarf?

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly” – Tony Robbins 

The sun was out, the wind was blowing and the day was still young in San Francisco, California. [Read the beginning of Day 2] We ordered a Lyft and headed straight to Mission Dolores Park located in the Mission District. Dolores Park was once a Jewish Cemetery and ironically it is one of San Francisco’s most popular parks.

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The park was filled with happy people, dogs and music. We picked a spot and just hung out for a bit looking at the scene and the clear blue sky. I only wished it wasn’t as chilly as it was but, we made the best of it. While walking out, we bumped into a few swings and of course, I took advantage. I absolutely love swings! 

After the park, we were off to explore the famous Mission District. Our first stop was Amnesia Bar. The bar was small and quaint. We sat on the stools, ordered our beers, and appreciated the live band playing Bluegrass. It wasn’t really our scene but we made the best of it.

A few minutes in and we realized how hungry we were. Our last Lyft driver recommended a Mexican Taqueria that apparently had the best tacos in San Francisco. Since we were only a few minutes away we figured it wasn’t worth ordering a ride. However, at this point the wind was becoming unbearable and we were freezing. Few seconds into the walk and all three of us were shivering, but somehow when we saw Xanath Ice Cream, Stephany and Damaris craved some. So yes, we had desert before dinner. They both ended up getting cones and I got the smallest cup available. The ice cream was really delicious so I wouldn’t say it was the worst decision made during our trip. After finishing our ice cream, we went back out into the freezing wind, not stopping until we reached El Farolito Taqueria.

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Steph, Damaris and I walked into a dark and sketchy place filled with drunk men. We stood by the door confused; I refused to eat there, even though Steph actually contemplated the thought of staying. **shakes head** Turns out we were in a bar and not the Taqueria. I was so relieved! I already craved tacos and I was extremely hungry. The line was long, the place was not that big, and it wasn’t the most sanitary. Oh well.

While waiting in line to order my two tacos and tostada, we encountered yet another man under the influence of drugs. At this point we all thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me!” Things got extremely awkward. I wondered if we could take our tacos to go, but eating outside was not an option…way too cold for that. Fortunately, after a few minutes of ranting about some girl, the man ended up leaving because they kept telling him to be quiet. Once we sat down it was all history from there. Goodbye tacos.

We were so full we didn’t think walking was possible but somehow, we were determined to do a bit of bar hoping before calling it a night. Remember when I longed for a warm scarf? Well as soon as we stepped foot outside, we all longed for a warm winter coat! It was insanely cold outside. The wind and chill was unbearable. We managed to make it to Cava 22 Bar. I was so cold I had no desire to even have a beer. Steph and Damaris ordered something to drink, but as soon as they finished we ordered an Uber to head back to Nob Hill. We fell asleep as soon as we reached our beds and wrapped ourselves with the warm blankets.

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Thursday welcomed us with a bright and sunny day. We had our morning mimosas and were ready to enjoy our last day in San Francisco. It was such a beautiful morning that we decided to walk to our first destination, the Full House, house.

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Not even five minutes into our walk and we decide to stop in a cute little coffee shop, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, for some tasty coffee. I had the Coconut Crème Javiva. I was extremely pleased with my selection as we walked and talked about our trip thus far. About 10min into our pleasant walk we came across St. Dominic’s Catholic Church.

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The church was absolutely stunning and we couldn’t pass the opportunity of checking it out. It was super peaceful inside. There wasn’t a mass going on so I took the opportunity to give thanks for the experiences and memories I was making. I also prayed for my grandfather who at the time was seriously ill. I’m not Catholic but I believe prayer is universal; it is received regardless of where it’s done.

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Finally, we reach the house of Danny Tanner and we were shocked! So everyone remembers the white house with the red door, right? Well that house no longer exist! The owners transformed the house completely [please refer to the picture above,] probably to confuse the tourists. Almost had us for a second too. I mean it’s a genius idea, but we were pretty bummed out by the transformation…[cue Full House theme song]

What ever happened to predictability?
The milk man, the paper boy, evening T.V

Everywhere you look (everywhere)
There’s a heart (there’s a heart)
A hand to hold on to….

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To be Continue…

Trust.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible” – Mandy Hale

Trusting is hard. However, the funny thing is that you can’t live without trusting…I mean at least yourself. No trust in yourself means no faith in yourself and ultimately, that negativity limits your changes of succeeding. 

About two years ago I didn’t trust anything. Love was playing games, I seemed to keep failing and though I truly wasn’t alone, I felt like I couldn’t trust anything but the dreams that lightened up my night while I slept. I was scared, scared to be stuck, scared to fail, scared to not find love, scared to wait and embrace the uncertainty of the future. I was fragile and my heart was filled with insecurities.

Then, as many already know, I was encouraged to do my list and tackle on things I had put on the back burner. I didn’t realize it at the time but the list challenged me to trust. It challenged me to trust in myself and my capability of not only accomplishing the things on my list but, trusting that I could discover the bits and pieces of myself that make me who I am.

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When my friend Krystal asked me to join her May writing challenge I was excited because who doesn’t love a challenge? [Check out her Blog] Each week we will focus on a word and funny enough this week’s is Trust. Trust is the foundation of my blog because when I had none, this blog allowed me to open myself more as I unfolded the tasks on my list.

I also challenged myself to trust in the uncertainty of life. I have come to realize that because nothing is certain everything is possible. Two years ago, when trust was merely a word without any foundation, the thought of uncertainty made my cringe. Today, I proudly stand on the ledge of uncertainty and look straight, awaiting the unknown.

Trust can be scary but scarier is to live in fear of life. Trust in your failures because they will make you stronger. Trust in the unknown because it creates a bridge of possibilities. Trust in love because it gives us hope…. but most importantly, trust in yourself because you have the power to be great!

Why Be Great?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates

In the past few weeks I have been throwing around the word “great” quite often.

Be great!” “You’re great!” “Simply be great!” “Don’t be afraid; just be great!

Then I was finally asked why? Well, why not? In the past I spent too much time focusing on the old and not enough time focusing on the present, on the new. I didn’t realize that it diminished my ability for greatness. It stumped my capacity to achieve greatness and simply made me stuck. I became depressed and lived day by day wishing I could go back to fix where I believed it all went wrong.

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One day I woke up and looked around me… I realized that there is a lot that I should be grateful for. I realized that life is merely but a puzzle that I have to slowly piece together. I realized that there’s no other version of myself that I rather be than the version that is simply great and thus, this blog came about.

It’s time we all start accepting ourselves for who we are with our flaws, mistakes and failures. We need to realize that despite of it all, there’s nothing else we can do but grow because greatness isn’t defined by our accomplishments, but by our self-acceptance and belief in our potential to succeed and achieve whatever we put our minds too.

I have two quotes that I wake up to everyday:
“Write your own life story.”
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”

So here it is: I am not telling you writing your own life story will be easy. I am telling you that writing your own life story will be worth it, if you simply believe it. Therefore, do yourself a favor and SIMPLY BE GREAT!

Just Breathe

Have you ever forgotten to just breathe? I mean to just take a second to sit down, stop thinking and simply just breathe

Today, I was reminded of how important it is to just stop everything and take some time to reenergize. I was reminded that there is such a thing as taking on too much.

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A few weeks back I realized that November is around the corner and that 24 is peaking through my window. I started panicking because I haven’t even completed half of My List. I quickly started planning the remainder of August. After I finished packing up August with plans, I took a few minutes to think about my year and realized that it has been quite a fulfilling year:

  • I saw three Broadway Plays
  • I had my five year high school reunion
  • I vacationed in Cancun (snorkeled and swam with dolphins)
  • I celebrated St. Patricks Day for the first time
  • I ran my first 5K
  • I got my first massage
  • I rock-climbed
  • I have read three books
  • I roller-skated (I thought it would be a huge fail but it was amazing)
  • I partied on a cruise with friends
  • I took GRE prep courses
  • I went wine and cheese tasting
  • I went to a concert

Of course, after I wrote this down and took a look at it, it didn’t seem like enough. For the next few days, I started juggling so much that I was practically walking around holding my breath. Every second of my day my mind was racing with something I had to do or needed to do. 24 hours just wasn’t enough; everything needed to get completed as soon as possible.

Then my friend sent me this, “Never give up on something you really want. It’s difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret.” This really made me think… Why are you rushing? What’s the real problem? I let those questions sink in and today received this advice…don’t take on too much to the point where you jeopardize everything you have been working for…prioritize and don’t forget to take a moment to just relax. Funny, because not that long I was asked when was the last time I relaxed. I didn’t have an answer. For the rest of my afternoon I sat on my backyard, with my grandfather, and simply read my book as the wind caressed my face. I was finally breathing.

I decided that for the rest of the week I’m going to just focus on the first task at the top of my list and take it from there. It’s easy for me to forget that the only person on this journey with me is ME. I need to focus on what I am doing and not rush to catch up with everyone else. It’s easy to get distracted and be consumed by the idea of “catching up to others” or “feeling left behind” but the real triumph is staying true to your journey and working towards your goals at your own pace.