Thursday, April 30, 2015

trinidad, cuba day 5

we started our first day in trinidad with a talk from a local city architect at our hotel. since trinidad is a huge tourist destination, we listened to the architect's opinion on needs of the city in order to accommodate the level of demand. when the city was first named a UNESCO heritage site in 1988, there were only two hotels. now there are six hotels but water and other resources continue to be tight compared to tourist demand.

we then took a walking tour of the square area with the architect and after the organized tour, we all went our separate ways to explore the city. many people visited the large church in the middle of the square. mom and I stumbled upon an open air market, did some shopping and topped off our purchases with a round of mojitos!

cienfuegos y trinidad, cuba day 4

after spending three days soaking up the sights and sounds of havana, we were excited to take a ride out to cienfuegos and trinidad for more exploring! 

the morning started with a talk from a deputy ambassador from the EU which everyone really enjoyed. after our discussion, the group boarded our bus and trekked the 4 hours to cienfuegos and trinidad. prior to our trip, I had done some research on havana but didn't have a chance to look up cienfuegos and trinidad.

as it turns out, the perfectly preserved spanish-style town of trinidad has been a recognized UNESCO world heritage site since 1988. our short trip to trinidad provided some of the best memories of the trip [certainly the best shopping of the trip] and I'm so glad we had the opportunity go visit these smaller, yet equally exciting cities.

trinidad's square on the top of the hill

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

havana, cuba day 3

we started our third day in havana with another morning walk on the malecon. this morning, we went the opposite way and nearly walked the entire harbor and old havana. we walked through neighborhoods and really got a feel for the local vibes as people scurried off to work and school for the day.

the group delegation met with an archdiocese from the catholic church and also had a meeting at a jewish synagogue - meanwhile, mom and I headed to the university of havana instead since this wasn't on our itinerary but was an important stop for us as my mom is a professor. despite looming clouds, we hopped in a convertible taxi and headed to the university.... little did we know it was just the beginning of a wild [and very wet] day in havana!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

havana, cuba day 2

we woke up on day two refreshed and ready to embark on our first full day in the city. our hotel is located in central havana, right on the prado walkway through town. we started the day with a long walk down the prado to the malecon, a five mile seawall that stretches the coast of havana. 

the streets were bustling with parents walking their uniformed children to school, people heading off to work, and lots of horns honking. we wandered quite a long way down the malecon, speechless at the sights of dilapidation everywhere. houses on every block were completely collapsed, yet the beautiful materials once used were still apparent. spanish tile work and art deco doors with what looked like hundreds of years worth of wear on every corner, yet, only fifty or so years had passed since some of these buildings were constructed. we snapped lots of photos of the houses on the malecon and quickly headed back for our tour of morro cabana castle and the cabana fortress with a local architect.

the view from our hotel

Monday, April 27, 2015

havana, cuba day 1

soooo I'm back from a week long trip to cuba with my mom and the world affairs council of atlanta! what a trip. words can only scratch the surface of the experience, it was truly an unforgettable time. as a travel delegation from the world affairs council, our programming was policy focused. given the pending changes between the US and cuba, it was just such a great time to go! 

if you've been living under a rock, US and cuba relations have been a huge focus lately - obama and raul castro recently met, hopefully the embargo will be lifted in the near future in what's been termed the "cuban thaw." many people never thought they'd see that happen within their lifetimes. with all of this political excitement, my mom and I have been anticipating this trip for months - really since the day we signed up back in november. there is truly way too much information to share in just several posts, so here we go with day by day highlights and overviews of our trip! click here for some cuban cha cha to set the mood, I can't get this song out of my head...

Friday, April 24, 2015

fashion friday: JETS swimwear

I first discovered JETS while on a trip to sydney and melbourne last year. the center aisle of the swim department at david jones featured a stunning black and white peplum JETS suit [below] that was just unreal... like skillfully designed architecture on body, the lines and curves were out of this world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

chicken + vegetable stir fry

growing up, my mom made us stir fry every once in a while and I always liked it, especially the baby corns. after college, I asked my mom for the recipe and realized that in order to make stir fry, you need a wok. at that time, I gave up on the thought of stir fry because I could barely master the microwave, let alone acquire and manipulate a wok.

finally last year for my birthday, I asked my mom for a wok. she did a lot of research and found the most amazing electric wok for me! after trying a few new recipes, I still end up coming back to my mom's tried and true chicken stir fry recipe. as long as you plan in advance enough to marinate the chicken overnight - you can have an extremely healthy and delicious dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

blackberry acai margarita

two weeks until cinco de mayo, but who's counting...?! being from texas, I don't need an occasion to justify a pitcher of margaritas with some queso and guacamole. it's pretty much cinco de mayo at least once a week in my world. but in all seriousness, cinco de mayo saturday is a great excuse to get together with friends over drinks on a patio somewhere to just relax and waste the day away.

I will be in new york over cinco de mayo this year [ironically, this is not the first time this has happened]. while I will definitely seek out a margarita in manhattan, I'm in love with my new cactus margarita glasses I bought while treasure hunting on a recent trip. so I'm celebrating cinco de mayo two weeks early to break in the glasses and try a new margarita recipe.

I am heading to cuba super early tomorrow morning with my mom - cheers to adventures and new places! perhaps I should finish packing before having too many of these blackberry acai margaritas?!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

everybody wins! atlanta raffle for reading

today marks the annual raffle for reading fundraiser with everybody wins! atlanta at monday night brewing. the everybody wins! mission is to improve children's literacy and develop the reading skills of students in low-income elementary schools through shared reading experiences. children's literacy is a cause I feel so passionate about - I've participated in children's lunchtime reading programs since my freshman year of college... you just never know how much you're impacting a child with only 30 minutes a week of your time.

I first found out about everybody wins! when I moved to atlanta four years ago, and immediately wanted to be a part of the cause. now, I'm not only thrilled to be a weekly elementary school reading volunteer, I'm also so excited to be a part of the young professionals council for everybody wins!

the two reading programs that deliver the everybody wins! mission are power lunch and storytime. power lunch is a reading mentorship between an adult and an elementary schooler. while the child eats lunch, the volunteer reads aloud. studies show that reading to a child is the best way to improve literacy. the storytime program brings beloved childhood stories to life through live storytelling performances. kids get to volunteer to be characters in the book and act out the story live, it's hilarious to watch these kids on stage! the storytime program really engages the imagination and demonstrates the importance of reading for fun, not just for school.

monday night brewing

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

styling a pleated skirt

I recently popped into the mall and wound up buying much more than planned, my favorite addition obsession is a pleated black midi skirt. I've been wanting a pleated skirt for a few seasons now but I couldn't quite find the one, skirts can be tough - too short, too long, too wide, etc. so when I randomly laid eyes on one that fit like a dream and happened to be on sale, I knew it was fate. 

here's how I plan to style my pleated skirt in the spring-y weeks to come...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

lucy's puppy pawty!

I'll admit I may have been slightly carried away with puppy pawty, it was just so much fun to plan a dog-themed party. weeks ago, stephen mentioned that lucy's birthday was coming up and I started running with the puppy pawty idea and never looked back. and that is how we ended up celebrating the occasion with 8 dogs (and their humans)!

since the weather was fantastic, we grilled out in my building's gated courtyard. the dogs were free to run around and play while we noshed on burgers and booze. I was a little nervous about having all the dogs together, but they were great! and the puppies got a special surprise, peanut butter pupcakes.

peanut butter pupcakes

since I've never baked or cooked any food for animals, I was a bit apprehensive about making pupcakes for puppy pawty to celebrate lucy's birthday. what if the dogs didn't like them? HAHA. these pupcakes were devoured in a matter of seconds and left the dogs sniffing around for more. definitely a crowd pleaser!

Friday, April 10, 2015

fashion friday: lorna jane active

back in my nordstrom days, we would often put on fashion fridays to showcase trends, spotlight designers, and share new products for employee "education." think of it as a trend-focused or themed fashion show! we didn't have a fashion friday every friday, it was always somewhat of a surprise unless you were involved in organizing the show. as soon as everyone knew it was a fashion friday, all employees headed down to the first floor to grab a seat in the front row before the store opened. I loved fashion fridays back then, and now, I'm recreating my own fashion fridays on the blog.

it's only fitting that my first fashion friday would relate back to nordstrom. a few weeks ago, nordy announced a partnership with australian active brand lorna jane for an april 2015 launch. lorna jane also recently opened a shop in galeries lafayette paris. it seems lorna jane is poised for a global take-off!

founded over 26 years ago by lorna jane clarkson, the brand is largely focused on promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. the line is comprised of fresh and funky, functional and contemporary pieces that take you from the gym to brunch.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

emerald coast treasure hunting

after a long weekend in florida, we're back to reality today. I'm still reminiscing on easter weekend, taking a few days off work (and actually not working) was much-needed. spending time with family and relaxing was perfect. the weather was nice and we ventured to the beach a few times. one morning started out a little dreary and since my parents are still doing some beach house decorating, my mom, sister, and I set out to do some treasure hunting.

rainy days at the beach are perfect shopping days, especially when we head to our favorite consignment shops over in panama city beach. whether we're hunting for beachy furniture, huge ornate shells, or decorative items that go home with me to the city, we could spend hours perusing the shelves for treasures.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

easter brunch at the beach

this easter, we have a full house with my grandparents visiting from arizona. it also happens to be my grandmother's birthday! we decided to celebrate both occasions with a boozy brunch and birthday cake. on holidays, my family usually eats an early dinner meal but since we're at the beach, we didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen all day. brunch was a great decision! we made our favorite breakfast dishes including scrambled egg and sausage casserole and blueberry crumble, then toasted over mimosas and bellinis [screwdrivers as well].

after brunch, we headed to the beach to enjoy the weather and play some beach golf. it's days like this when I really need a one piece swim suit.

cheesy scrambled egg and sausage casserole

growing up, my mom made this casserole every year for christmas morning. we devoured it immediately after opening presents! it's the perfect warm breakfast that you can make ahead of time.

fast forward, now I love making this egg casserole any time we have a big group for breakfast. I've made it on mountain trips and beach trips, for christmas vacation and this year, for easter brunch. it's really simple and everyone loves a hot, cheesy breakfast any time of the year! I hope everyone has a beautiful easter with friends and family.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

an afternoon in seaside, florida

we love spending long weekends at the beach over the spring and summer, usually we stay pretty low key at the beach and pool all day. if we work up the energy to leave the house, we'll definitely venture over to seaside for a few hours especially to catch the sunset at bud and alley's.

seaside is a master-planned community, complete with its own school and church - and was the site of filming for the truman show. the picturesque town of seaside is always bustling with people during the spring and summer months. and for good reason, this charming town has a lot of offer. my family has been visiting seaside for over 15 years and it's definitely a special place. here's how to waste the day away along the beautiful streets of seaside, florida.

Friday, April 3, 2015

pool toys to make a splash!

last summer, my friends bought a floating beer pong table and it was so much fun. I knew I had to invest in one myself and since we're down at the beach this weekend, it was the perfect time to buy one. we'll use this all summer long at the pool with family and friends. I also can't wait to see my dad's reaction... I know he'll want to dominate the beer pong float.

but seriously how cute is the donut?! happy easter and cheers to many more spring weekends with family and friends!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

weeknight chicken cordon bleu

I have a new favorite weeknight dinner. this dish gives new meaning to winner winner chicken dinner. it is seriously so good and insanely easy, I don't even mind cooking this after a long workday. I'm so addicted, it's now on my weekly rotation... I've been making it once a week for about 6 weeks now. that's how I know it's good enough to share! not to mention, the smell of this dish while baking is enough to make anyone's mouth water.

who doesn't want to sit down to a warm dinner of chicken covered in light layers of ham, with melty provolone cheese oozing on top, buttery bread crumbs and white sauce to top it off... did I mention, this takes less than 30 minutes?! what are you waiting for - make this dish ASAP and thank me later.