Monday, July 30, 2018

BATTLE OF THE BLOG

So blogging. Ugh! I have a semi love-hate relationship with you right now. If I’m being honest a lot of it comes from the IG algorithm. I wish they would just go back to chronological order already. The algorithm favors the big “guys” virtually making it impossible for the rest of us to grow. I won’t get into all of the nuances but the more likes you get the more likely you are to be seen on the feed of new people as well as your current followers. But if people aren’t seeing you how can they like your post? Whatever (insert eye roll).
Aside from that, blogging is very time consuming and sadly the more I climb that good old corporate ladder the less free time I have. I’m not one of those girls who has a blogger husband taking my photos while I’m out doing my day to day activities. I have to schedule shoots, pick 4-5 outfits, scout the location, pack the outfits (think packing for a vacation and how annoying that is...this is essentially the same thing), shoot the looks, o and let’s not forget about changing in the car trying to avoid the strangers walking by judging. And then there’s the final step of finding time to put the post together! In fact I’m sitting here now writing this post on a red eye instead of sleeping! 
So maybe I’m just tired and cranky at the moment. Because as much as I’m complaining and for as long as I’ve been feeling this way, I’m still going strong! Well strong might be an overstatement, but I haven’t given up!! I really love shooting and working with talented photographers like Brittany of Work It Berk. And what other outlet do I have to tell people that parasols are my new favorite summer accessory?! And how would I document travel with no blog or IG. 
So for now I’m here, but for later? We shall see...

WEARING: jumper & sunnies from TJ MAXX(CUTE OPTION), PARASOL FROM AMAZON
WORN TO: explore scottsdale

**shot by WORK IT, BERK**

Monday, July 9, 2018

DUSTY ROSE

Sooooooo as I eluded to in my previous post, I’m struggling a bit to keep up with blogging. I’ll go more into detail with my next post but for now enjoy this impromptu shoot I had with my dad cause that’s all I have time for at the moment....SMH. 

But how fab is this Catherine Malamdrino dusty rose duster I scored at Marshall's for the super low-low???? And ummmmmm yes to these Anne Klein platforms also scored for a steal at DSW!

WEARING: catherine malandrino duster (SIMILAR UNDER $25), articles of society jeans (SIMILAR FOR $64), ANNE KLEIN LALIMA PLATFORM SANDALS, AEIRE YELLOW SUNGLASSES
WORN TO: BBQ & graduation dinner
let's get social

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Monday, June 18, 2018

CUBA: PALADARS, CASA PARTICULARS & MORE

I've been a terrible blogger. I'm hanging on by a thread when it comes to blogging, but I wanted to make sure to wrap up my Cuba series, and leave you with details on where to eat, where to stay and how to get around. 

THE FOOD
When you tell people you are going to Cuba, as it relates to the food, you hear 2 things 1) "O the food is going to be so good" 2) "I hear the food is not good there". I would say the truth falls somewhere in the middle. I had some really, REALLY delicious meals b/c I knew where to go (keep reading). I think a lot of people who've had bad experiences are eating at government owned restaurants inside hotels, where apparently spices and seasonings are rationed out and the food is just...bland. Well as an American I stayed away from anything government owned and ate at paladars which are restaurants within family homes. How cool is that? Here are some to note:

Dona Carmela - The food was so good and I was so hungry I didn't take a picture but it's a MUST. Arguably, the best meal I had in Havana (Queen Bey has been here!). I could have stayed there all day eating the best black beans I've ever had while listening to live salsa music on the patio. Make sure to stop by and visit the large CHRIST STATUE which is also in the area. 

Lamparilla 361 - This place is super cute and trendy and fun and the menu is eclectic ranging from tacos to ceviche to cornbread and chicken (so good) and delicious daiquiris the size of your head.


 La Guarida - This is probably the most famous restaurant in Havana, made popular by President Obama, Beyonce & Jay Z. Well folks, it was least my favorite meal. The lobster I had was not good (made me sick actually) but the restaurant itself is unique & so beautiful. It's a must for the ambiance, but not for the food. Reservations are also a must and if I could do it over I would have gone during the day to really see how beautiful this place is, and probably only would have had drinks :-/ 
Vistamar - If you want to feel like you are on vacation GO HERE. The outdoor seating is literally on the ocean. The waves are crashing right there as you eat and it is quite spectacular, not to mention the food is really good! 

HOW TO GET AROUND
Because we really wanted to make sure we were immersing ourselves in the Cuban culture, we had a driver for the duration of the trip and we stayed in a lovely casa particular with a lovely man named Mario and his staff!
(Look at those floors!)

But first let's talk about Julio! Julio was our driver extraordinaire for the trip. If you are traveling with a group he is the way to go! He promotes himself as a driver but he is sooooooooooo much more than that! He's a translator. He's a tour guide. He's a concierge (and knows all the good restaurants), and he can tell you all about Cuban life from the history, to current day. O and did I mention he provieded us with a local phone so we could always reach him? Contact him at juliomoret@nauta.cu!
(Julio, in red, translating a convo b/w my dad and one of his Cuban Mason brothers)

WHERE TO STAY
What can I say about Mario and the beautiful Casa Miramar? The photos & reviews on Airbnb are 100% accurate. It's a stunning traditional Cuban, dare I say mansion? That comes with a full staff, managed by one of the gentlest souls I ever met, Mario. 
(The front porch)
He was up every morning making us breakfast, and every evening when we returned home, he was sitting on the porch with Rocco (the dog of the house) waiting to greet us. I missed both of them as soon as I got in the car and headed to the airport.
(Fresh squeezed mango juice, fresh fruit, ham, veggie croquettes muffins & more)
(Mom journaling on the side porch)
(Me & Mario!)

And that my friends is Cuba! To my fellow American do yourself a favor and go soon before you know who cuts off travel there!

let's get social
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Thursday, May 3, 2018

VIÑALES VALLEY

As I stated in my IG POST “Viñales Valley, what can I say?! I love you! I’ve never smelled air so fresh & so clean in all my life.”
Viñales is a valley about 2.5 hours outside of Havana, but it’s well worth the trek! And when you go, because you must go, you have to explore with my favorite Cuban, Humberto a.k.a Chino! Viñales is beautiful in and of itself, but Humberto made the trip for me and my crew. CONTACT HIM HERE
He’s so personable, funny & passionate about what he does and don’t get me started on the delicious meal we had at his family home. Go for the fried snapper, yellow rice, & chicken noodle soup! I loved our eye opening conversations about life under Raul, every Cubans dream to own a car and Cuban trap music vs reggaeton. Ha!
(when you see your boy you haven't seen in months)

Aside for the yummy food, titling convo and jam session, Humberto took us all over the valley, introducing us to all his friends along the way. Our first official stop was at a tobacco farm where we sat for hours surround by pigs, chickens, dried tobacco leaves, rum and tipsy conversation :) We learned all about the process of marking cigars and then we got a chance to roll our own and smoke them of course!
(tobacco leaves)
(lit)
From here we hopped on horses and rode to his friend’s house where we watched him make his own sugar cane juice that we then used to make our own cocktails and mocktails!
 (sugarcane...getting ready to have some drinks!)
After an hour or so with him and his lovely family we hoped back on our horses and rode to the top of the valley and hung out near the famous Hotel Los Jazmines and watched a live salsa performance before we ended the day back at Humberto’s House.
(Hotel Los Jazmines)

All in all, it was a great day and an experience I will truly never forget. And again, I owe a lot of that to Humberto and his friends. Don't forget you can book a tour with him HERE. We did excursion #1!
wearing: zara pants, target cap, AERIE SO FLY SUNNIES (2 for $22, available in 9 colors), converse

let's get social
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Monday, April 23, 2018

CUBA: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

If you follow me on INSTAGRAM (shame on you if you don't...kidding...sorta) than you know I recently spent some time in Cuba and I had an eye opening, fantastic trip submerged in the culture and surrounded by the people. I'm kicking off this travel series by sharing some photos that super talented local photographer and filmmaker Manuel (BOOK HIM HERE) took of me and my crew + sharing the 10 things Americans should really know before they go. Enjoy!
(Read about these girls on my IG)
(Feliz de estar en La Habana)
(My dad talking to one of his many Mason brothers he ran into in Havana! He was basically a celebrity there.)

(My Cuba Crew)

1. The easiest way to travel to Cuba as an American is under the category Support for the Cuban People. In a nutshell this means you are interacting with locals and staying away from government/military owned entities which include all (or most) hotels. So stay in an Airbnb a.k.a casa particular where the owner or a staff is living there with you to engage with. Dine at paladars, which are restaurants within a family home. Take a cooking class or a dance class. Have a beach clean up day. Go to artists markets.The options are endless!

2. Bring a copy of your itinerary showing your Support for the Cuban People. Delta didn’t ask me any questions, but my friend who traveled on United was grilled a bit about why she was going when she arrived for her flight.

3. You need a visa but most airlines offer them. I got mine for $50 when I checked in online at delta.com and picked it up at the gate. Easy breezy!

4. You also must have travel insurance, but again most airlines include it in the ticket price and your boarding pass serves as your insurance card, but double check with your airline.

5. Have any prescriptions in their original package and have a copy of the prescription with you. No one checked ours but I read online where some people ran into issues, so better safe than sorry.

6. Figure out how much money you’ll need and bring $100 or $200 more than that because US debit/credit/atm cards CAN NOT be used in Cuba, so when you run out of money you might as well head home :) I cut it very close!

7. Even with the dollar being weaker than the euro, you're money will go further if you convert to euros first, because Cuba charges a 14% fee to convert dollars to CUCs (the local currency) AND euros are much stronger than the CUC. I think by converting my money I saved around $50.

8. Bring wipes just to be safe! There's toilet paper, but not everywhere! Hahahahaha.

9. Snacks and small toiletry items like toothbrushes or nail polish remover aren’t easy to find so plan accordingly and bring everything you need with you. I didn't and my poor nails were busted the whole trip. But trust and believe, I had my snacks!  

10. Print addresses, phone numbers, confirmation #s and emails of EVERYTHING since WiFi is not readily available. This is not the trip to wing it when you get there. Planning is key, but leave some room to take recommendations from locals!


And in case you missed it, you can book your photo tour with Manuel HERE, and get my two piece skirt set HERE.