Edibles!

Fitness Friday week 5 – Get up, stand up!

It’s been 4 weeks! You knew it was coming, another transformation photo! Even if you don’t think there’s a difference, I still encourage you to snap the pic. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see a change but over time it’s apparent. Pregnancy is the perfect example. I never wanted to take the growing belly selfies, but with a gentle push from friends I did and I’m so thankful! Looking back at those weekly shots in the post The Most Selfies I’ve Ever Taken, I now see the progressive changes that I wasn’t recognizing on my own.

If the reason you don’t want to take another photo is that you haven’t been putting forth much effort, then great, let this be a fire under you hiney to get back to it!

This week we’re going to talk about posture.

When your ankles, hips, shoulders, and head are lined up comfortably one above the other, your posture is correct. Your knees should not be locked, but slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart.

I found this clever image that helps identify where you might be falling, or standing rather.

Why is posture so important? If you ask any chiropractor or physical therapist, they’d say “good posture means good health”. It allows your joints to work properly without unnecessary pressure where it doesn’t belong. It maintains muscular strength in the areas that decrease pressure on nerves. The list goes on including simply looking better… healthy and alive!

I’ve been amazed at the difference I’ve felt when focusing on my stance. I did it this past week and I’m actually sore from it! A good ache of course, soreness from contracting muscles to keep my spine straight, especially between my shoulder blades. After being pregnant and now a new mom, I found myself slouching as if I was still carrying pounds of baby in front of me.

It’s harder than it sounds to keep conscious of your posture. Most of you have probably corrected your posture while reading this and a good majority of you will forget about it before the end of this post.

This week I challenge you to be fully aware of your body, head to toe. When you’re cooking, working at a desk, holding your baby, standing in line at the store and even sleeping!

So how we’d do with last weeks challenge? No processed sugar was to be consumed and hopefully forgotten about… ha… ha… ha. I give myself a B+ considering effort, environment and temptations declined. The Sunday after I posted the challenge, we went to a “Candyland” birthday party. What’s funny, is nothing there was my favorite kind of sugar. It wasn’t like there was a Rice Krispie treat cake or chocolate covered nuts, however I still found myself being tempted by the flavors that were offered. I admit I nibbled here and there and regretted every bite that wasn’t worth it, which was all of them! Lesson learned.

Moving on.

This week is all about the food prep. No matter what diet you’re on or nutritional plan you follow, being prepared is always helpful. The number one thing I hear when this topic is brought up is time. It’s time consuming to get out the tubberware, chopping block and utensils to dice up your fruit and veggies. And who has spare minutes to cook up your protein and separate it all for the week? You do.

When you want something bad enough, you make it happen!

I personally enjoy it, I guess you could call it my kitchen therapy. I pour a glass of wine, pull my hair back and turn on my favorite music (or if I really want to nerd out, I’ll turn on a health documentary or cooking show). Then I lay out all of my ingredients and all of the storage containers and prep away! I intended on doing this and snapping all the pics from my own kitchen, but then I woke up and it was today, Friday. For the sake of all you that love visuals, me included, here are some beautiful examples I found.

If you’re not up for organizing full meals, start with just preparing a few containers of cleaned cut fruit and veggies. Something you can reach for in a hurry or in a “must snack now!” moment. If you open my fridge you’ll usually find celery sticks, sliced cucumber, other veggies and cleaned fruit ready to be eaten. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into the fridge with major mind hungry (meaning in my head and not in my gut) ready to devour the first thing I saw. Due to convenience, I’d just grab a veggie bag with maybe some hummus, mashed avocado or bean dip.

What if you don’t eat all of your prepped veggies before they start to turn bad? Throw them in a skillet and you’ve got dinner with rice, roll them up in butterleaf and now you have lettuce wraps, toss them in a little oil and roast them at 400 until they’re crispy.. oh so good! My recent favorite trick is to throw them in a blender after being cooked (in anyway) with some seasoning and nut milk. Heat and eat like soup or dip with crackers. Yum!

This weeks homework:

1. Every moment you consciously think of your posture, fix it! Did you already forget?

2. Make time for one session of treating yourself to stocking the fridge with prepared fresh food. You’re worth it!

3. Take the next transition photo. Deep breath, you can do it!

4. Remember that fun little workout we recorded on week one? Do it again and see if there’s any improvement in your numbers.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

9. Food Prep! Make it easier to make better choices.

10. Keep you posture in mind. Good posture, good health!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Friday #3 – Dirty Sugar Free

This week starts with a confession. My name is Erika, and I love gum. I have chewed this tasty delight as long as I can remember. I can especially recall an increase in my gum chewing once I started on the “health kick” 10 years ago. If I thought I was hungry when it wasn’t time to eat, after each meal instead of dessert, long car rides where snacking is too easy, at the movie theater where treats are too tempting, at the gym, on a run… the list goes on. Why is this a confession and not a suggestion?

Let’s investigate.

Gum gets it addictive sweet flavor from one of two things, sugar or artificial sweetener. So if you choose the “real” sugar brand like Chiclets or Double Bubble, not only are you asking for cavities (my mom used to work in the dental field, can you tell?) but calories! The average piece of bubble gum has 20 calories, 5 carbs and all 5 of those carbs comes from 5 grams of sugar. Not a horrible choice if you’re used to inhaling a few cookies after lunch, however if you generally stay away from dessert and choose to have a few (or dozen) pieces of gum a day, you’re looking at consuming an extra meal without even swallowing a piece of food! Yikes!

If you choose the ever so popular “sugar free gum” which is 99% of the options you see at gas stations, you’re looking at ingesting a pretty powerful ingredient known to have side effects that most Americans complain about. I properly introduce you to Phenylalanine, the chemical making up 50% of Aspartame which we’ve all heard about.

Check this out…

If you google top side effects from Aspartame and then search for the most common symptoms Americans report, they’re almost identical!

-Headaches/Migraines

-Fatigue

-Inflammation

-Abdominal discomfort

-Insomnia

-Depression

-Anxiety

-Weight gain

Did you see the last one? Weight gain! I suppose that’s one reason I chose this for our topic besides the general (frightening) health risks included. How can a Diet Coke or piece of gum prevent wight loss? Of course, it takes more than a drink to pack on the pounds, but consistent intake of this chemical seems to be proven to mess with more than just our taste buds.

My challenge for is this week is to avoid anything with Aspartame, Phenylalanine, Equal or NutraSweet… None. Zilch. Nada! This will be hard for me since I thoroughly enjoy my gum, but I’m curious to see if I can feel a difference in a quick 7 days.

Some of you little researchers out there (myself included) might be asking, what about Splenda, Stevia, Xylitol and all the others? Challenge accepted! Next week I’ll have further info and my personal opinion. This would be another hard one for me since I consume flavored protein shakes daily and we know powdered vegetables don’t taste like chocolate without some additional sweet lovin’.

Physical challenge! We’ve hit the stairs and picked up sticks, this week we’re bringing it back to the basics, walking! When you park at the store, don’t do laps looking for the closest spot, park far away and embrace the extra calorie burnage! Shoots, if you’re really feeling it, pick up the pace and speed walk! See if you can get your heart rate up before reaching the entrance. Have a friend that lives nearby? Walk to meet in the middle and enjoy a conversation that doesn’t include a “like” button or emojis. If you don’t live close enough, meet at a coffee shop then stroll from there, no excuses.

This weeks homework:

1. Take an update photo. Are you excited about this or dreading it!?

2. Keep reading the labels before opening the box!

3. Walk. Then walk some more and then a little more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Friday fitness – week 2! Pickin’ up sticks

How’d the stairs treat ya… better yet, how did you treat the stairs? Hopefully it got your heart rate up and your legs a little wobbly. More than anything, I would love to know that it kick started the fitness wheel for you and now it’s rolling!

This week I’m introducing one of my favorite tricks to sneak in a few extra moments that burns calories and maintains strength. Like any other activity, it only works if you do it!

I used pop-cycle sticks, you can find these in the art section of any store that has an art section. Note: I don’t suggest going to the freezer aisle and buying a jumbo pack of fudge-cycles to eat and save the sticks, it made me sick.

Feel free to change the number amount of each movement to better suit your fitness level.

There’s 2 ways I find this little dandy works best for me.

1. On a day off around the house or while you’re getting ready for work, set a timer for every 30 (or 15 or 45) minutes. Every time it sounds, grab a stick or 3 and have at it! This dilutes the overwhelming task and doesn’t consume your entire morning or evening.

2. Set a timer for 30 minutes (or 15 or an hour) and plow through as many sticks as you can!

Another idea (that I rarely do but love it when I do) is to partner up! Find a friend and take turns pulling sticks. A bit more entertaining when you’re either wishing for an easy one or watching your partner endure a hard one!

Write this down and prop it up next to your stick jar!

-“everyone works out when they want to, determined people do it even when they don’t want to!

Last week we practiced portion control by being more aware of the nutrition facts and quantity suggested per serving. Continuing on that track, this week start by looking at the ingredients. If there are more than 6 ingredients or anything you can’t pronounce (properly) then don’t even waste your time with the serving size… just put it back and find something else.

Let’s try keeping our food intake as close to its natural state as possible. If you’re in a hurry and starving at a gas station, reach for the bag of nuts or fruit verses the yogurt covered pretzels, “baked” chips or trail mix. Sure those options sound healthier than a Butterfinger, but look at the ingredients, it can be so deceiving!

This weeks homework:

1. Create your collection of sticks with a variety of workouts and use them!

2. Read the ingredients before looking at the nutrition facts. Less is more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

Have you taken your original starting picture? I hope so because next week we take another one!

I’ll have to admit this past week has been a struggle for me with family in town and a thousand mile road trip to see more family! Here’s a sneak preview of the love Shanti has been surrounded with! Next post, family adventures!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Friday – week 1!

I walked into the gym feeling the way maybe a 30 year old would feel on the first day back to school – collage, teacher, desk, notebook… got it. Gym, treadmill, weights, machines… got it, now what? I’ll have to admit I was ready to post this first workout like a champ from the fitness center, but something changed the moment I walked into the gym. For what it’s worth I laughed when I did an about face. I didn’t even fake like I left something in my car or got a sudden stomach bug, I just laughed like I had lost my mind and walked out.

Needless to say this lead me to the perfect beginning place, a quiet empty space in which I had nowhere to go but up, literally. The stairwell! We’re currently living in a 19 story high-rise building that has a small gym and also an inviting set of steps that has become my new best friend.

Reasons I love stairs

1. You’re going somewhere (no thanks to you treadmills).

2. It’s super for the legs without destroying your knees or lower back.

3. You can vary the workout! I’ll sprint up one flight for cardio, skip a step with slow movements for a butt burn or stay on my toes for a calf tightening.

4. Nobody is standing there waiting for you to finish so they can do it.

So this week my physical challenge to you is to find stairs. The local school stadium, a nearby hotel, the mall, the park, etc. they’re out there, just look! If you live in a cow town and the only steps you have are the 6 leading up to the library, use them! I’ve also taken every chance to use stairs even when there’s an escalator or elevator available. If you want an extra challenge, incorporate some movements at the bottom or top of the climb. I did this in an airport back in Da Nang, Vietnam (while waiting for my flight to Ho Chi Minh) .

Food, we gotta eat! This subject is tricky since it seems these day there are uncountable amounts of diets, ideas and theories. None of that, too much of this, avoid those, eat that but only if it’s prepared this way…. it’s endless! I’m going to keep it general this week and invite you into the world of portion control. No matter what your diet might be, let’s pay attention to the quantity.

Just because they’re organic, whole grain, sugar free and tasteless (not a typo) doesn’t mean you should eat them by the buckets. If it’s 100 calories per serving and 10 pieces is a serving and there’s 6 servings per container, guess what… if you sit and watch Netflix while finishing the box of your “healthy” snack, you’ve consumed a solid amount of your daily caloric intake. A trainer once told me, “just because it’s a gluten free donut doesn’t mean it’s not a donut”. (This was after I was trying to justify my dairy free frozen treat).

Here’s a prime example – I found an “all natural vanilla” because it appears innocent and sounds like a decent choice (I know ice cream shouldn’t really be in a “diet” but for those of you who like your desserts, this is for you). Let’s look at the label:

Without even analyzing the actual “nutrition facts”, start by looking at the serving size. It’s an itty bitty 1/2 cup. Not a bowl, not even a coffee cup size but a half of a measured cup. If you’re not a baker, go get a real measuring device and see what your serving of ice cream really looks like. Then look at the label again, 12 servings!! So if you finish this dandy container over the weekend, you’ve consumed 1,560 calories – 720 of those are from fat and 168 grams of sugar! Thats 6x the amount of sugar you’re generally supposed to max out at per day… total! (You should gasp in disbelief here).

Point is, be aware of what you’re eating. Put a proper portion (or less) on your plate, then enjoy. Don’t invite the temptation for just a few more. This especially includes eating out. Try ordering your meal with a to-go box. If you feel like a nerd doing this, just remind yourself that whoever is judging you is either A- jealous that they don’t have the willpower or B- impressed that you do. When the dish comes, keep a healthy portion on your plate and put the rest in the box for later. DO NOT go for the doggy bag while in the restaurant, you’re not starving nor will your leftovers dissolve before getting to finish them. You can do it!

This weeks HOMEWORK:

1. Snap a photo of your beautiful self. This will be the “starting” photo of our journey. In a swimsuit, your undies, a mini dress, a speedo, birthday suit, whatever… this is for you!

2. Take 3 minutes of your day (today) and record the following. We will use this as a simple guide to gage improvement. Every 2 weeks, we’ll do it again to see how amazing our endurance can increase with a little effort.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

3. Embrace full awareness of everything that goes into your mouth… No handfuls, quick bites or food straight from the container. Please measure, save leftovers and consume only what’s needed.

This week I’ll be repeating these two phrases when I feel tempted to either skip a workout or eat just a little more:

-everyone works out when they want to, determined people do it even when they don’t want to!

-a moment on the lips is a month on the hips 😬

Have a super week!

Please note, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, life coach or any other label that would give the idea that I’ve been properly trained in the world of food and fitness. I’m just a girl who loves both subjects that’s willing to share my ideas along the journey.

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

7 years ago today…

What were you doing on this exact date 7 years ago? I was zipping up my backpack to load up before my mom dropped me off at the Sacramento airport for the first day of an unpredictable journey around the world. I can recall having no fear or at least no hesitation in the adventure I was about to embark on. Just excitement and a new found enthusiasm for life!

As each year unfolded and my passport filled to the rim (with about 80 stamps!) I encountered new friends, adopted cultural traditions and continued to allow my mind to expand. Sometimes it’s surreal when I look back on the photos as it usually feels like I’m talking about someone else from a book I read or movie I saw. If you want to see a clear layout with links of my first exciting year on the road, take a look at the 2012 archives!

I was going to make this post about some of my favorites from around the world, cuisine, music, architecture, etc. but as I began to write I felt more drawn to explore what kind of lessons I gathered from a variety of places. Could be that I’m 9 months pregnant and my sensitive hormones are on high, or simply because I’ve never really stopped to ask myself such a question.

So Erika, where did you learn some significant lessons and how did you walk away from it a better person?

PERU – Although I visited several different cities throughout the country, a little village has always stood out to me. I rarely go back to a place I’ve been, but the magnetic pull was too strong for me to ignore in Huambutio. I was invited to volunteer there in a variety of things from teaching English to painting walls, cooking and even to coach gymnastics.

The lesson here was simple, appreciation for the simple things.

Sounds obvious or cliche, but there were a few events that triggered this conscious thought. First was the toothpaste. We taught the kids how to make their own toothpaste (that they got to take home) and the importance of dental health. The enthusiasm and gratitude they showed was outstanding! Something we may all take for granted or even see as a thoughtless item we look for on sale at Target, but these children guarded their portion like it was gold. Makes me wonder if they had ever used any… ever. Next was meal time. The children’s breakfast everyday was 1/2 of a hard boiled egg with a scoop of plain oatmeal (not your Starbucks brown sugar, toasted nut and cranberry shenanigans, but warm oats and water). We would divide an apple into 1/8 slices in order for everyone to get a bite as a snack and occasionally got to accompany it with a few pieces of toasted corn. Lunch and dinner was whatever we picked that day from the garden. A clear memory I have was the evening they said we were goin to make corn bread. Now, I was aware enough to not aimlessly look for a box of ready make Betty Crocker, but I was on the scout for cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients. I can’t remember how long they let me look before informing me that we actually have to go pick the corn to start the process. After I was done blushing, off to the garden we went! An experience that made every bite of that bread savored as if we had spent hours preparing it… because we did!

I suppose all of this hit me harder than I was expecting when I flew out of Peru into the states to visit family. My first stop was Dallas, Texas… home of everything huge! I had my apple bits, a few nuts and some cash to get me buy as I plopped down in the food court during my layover at the airport. A family sat next to me who didn’t go out of their way to be discreet. The children were clearly mad at the toy they got in the happy meal, a meal that they didn’t want to finish for whatever reason. After fits and French fries on the floor, the meals went into the garbage. I’m not claiming that we need to starve to appreciate fullness, or go without toothpaste to love a good sale at Target. I will admit however, that I may have judged this situation in the moment, but looking back now it was an opportunity that invited me to reflect on my own behavior. Had I carelessly disposed of food that could of been leftovers or compost? How many times did I complain, especially as a child, about the items in front of me with no gratitude that I even had options!?

Moving from food to activity, we ventured to the outdoor area and I was pleasantly surprised at the creative use of items that would typically land in the trash. Used plastic containers, snack wrappers, laundry bottles, juice boxes, warm out shoes and more. I loved it!

This experience as a whole opened a new part of my character to this day (even ask those close to me), it’s left me very aware of waste, unnecessary abundance and a love for keeping things simple. I am that weirdo that has 1/4 of an apple in my fridge with full intentions of eating it. I order a to-go box with my meal whenever we enjoy the luxury of eating out. I choose not to go to Costco and buy a village sized pack of paper plates on sale because I “might” need them someday. By no means am I claiming some sort of award winning lifestyle, just sharing the lesson that 7 years later still sticks in my everyday existence. And now with a little girl due any day, I hope to carry this in our family and raise a grateful human that appreciates her surroundings and has gratitude for our simple luxuries.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Homemade Kahlúa!

It’s one of my favorite unique gifts to provide during the holiday season. Great for family, friends, neighbors, work partners and my personal favorite, the wrapped gift for a white elephant game!

If you want to get fancy with a long list of ingredients and a lengthy process, I suggest going online and searching recipes. However here, you’ll find a simple list of 4 items and easy approach that’ll make a quality liqueur you’ll be proud to share!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups – Your favorite vodka! (only 1 cup if you want it less strong)

1 1/2cup – Richly roasted dark coffee (I use locally roasted beans)

1 1/2 Cups – Organic cane sugar (use up to 2 cups if you like sweeter)

2 Tablespoons – Organic Vanilla extract (I use Madagascar Vanilla for a rich flavor)

Step 1. Brew your strong coffee.

Step 2. Add the sugar while your coffee is still hot. Stir until sugar is dissolved then add the vanilla.

Step 3. Let cool to to room temperature before adding the vodka.

Step 4. Funnel into a large container (I love using mason jars) so it can marinate as long a you need it to before distributing into adorable bottles that seal. While your masterpiece is developing into beautiful flavors, feel free to create artistic labels. If you’re gifting it, selling it or keeping it, labels just make it seem to take it up a notch. I like to use non adhesive tags so my recipients can re-use the bottle for something different once it’s empty.

So there you have it, a simple and delicious way to spread some love to those around you! I like to let mine sit for at least 48 hours before distributing, however if you’re in “need now” crisis, feel free to enjoy immediately!

Just in case you’ve never experienced the splendor of a coffee liqueur, here are some tasty ways to enjoy your new bottle in the cabinet!

-mix with milk over ice (and a splash more vodka if you want an extra kick!)

-freeze to make cubes and drop in, well, any beverage! Whiskey, chocolate milk, etc.

-top over ice cream

-use with coffee and creamer

-layer in a shot glass starting with Kahlúa, then Baileys and topped with triple sec

-splash with hot cocoa and top with whipped cream

-throw it in a blender with cream, ice, whipped flavored vodka

-add to recipes! Tiramisu, brownies, cheesecake, coffee cake, truffles, cupcakes, cookies, pie, fudge, frozen yogurt… you get it!

Disclaimer: I didn’t make any of the recipes below nor did I take any of the photos. I just want to show you a few of the several variations this delightful drink can provide.

Although most of the ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store, here are two links to the non-edible items from above.

Glass Flip-top Bottles

Labels with twine

Enjoy! Eat, drink and be Merry!

Categories: Art, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Here comes the bride! 9-28-17

The term destination wedding refers to a location outside of your hometown that generally involves a gorgeous landscape in a distance place. Typically it lands at a snow capped mountain resort, inside a foreign castle or in my case, on a stunning tropical island. I called Barbados home for just long enough that it really wasn’t a “destination wedding”, however for a handful of our guests, it most certainly was!

If you’d rather just skip to the amazing Wedding video, click here!

Let’s begin with the landscape. Well, for starters it’s a beach!! We chose a quaint little surfers bar overlooking the southeast coast called Moonraker at Surfers Bay. It offered a partially covered outdoor seating area with a U shaped bar and an open section for my favorite part, the dancing! Our guests had the option of kicking their shoes off and walking in the sand, dancing on a wooden deck or socializing around an oversized bonfire. So we had love, earth, wood, fire, water, sun, stars, open air and an abundance of positive energy from all of the friends and family that gathered… a recipe for the perfect wedding.

Accommodations – Surfers Bay restaurant and bar was conveniently on the property of a colorful hotel called The Moonraker.

The wardrobe – Most of you have read a story or few that included my dear friend Bree. From our adventures in Chiang Mai, Thailand to her first visit to Barbados, she’s been a beautiful addition to my traveling adventures. What you may not of known is that when she isn’t backpacking, she’s an incredible fashion designer that has even worked in NYC for Ralph Lauren (friend bragging moment). As her gift to me, she designed and tailored my gown start to the very last pin before I walked the aisle. Matt wore a classic beige jacket that was once wore by his dad who was there with us in spirit.

The jewelry – I felt so honored to walk the aisle with an arm full of authentic bangles and an ankle decorated with jewel covered bands, all from India (another gift from Bree and her family). My wedding ring set is a combination of Matts opal birthstone and a diamond band given to me by his mother, a ring that was once given to her by his father…. again, I’m honored. The unique funky earrings? Those were $7.99 from Claire’s (a handy accessory boutique in the states).

The flowers – Instead of pre made bouquets or red roses, I went to a local florist (the day of the wedding) who so graciously allowed me to pick 12 flowers from a variety of local bundles in their back freezer. I don’t know too many businesses elsewhere that would of been so eager to help a last minute Gypsy bride.

The ceremony – my walk down the grassy aisle lead me to a dozen of my dearest girlfriends from around the world, each holding a single tropical flower. As I hugged and thanked them for their friendship, attendance and love, I collected each flower leaving me with a bouquet tied up by a strip of lace that was left over from my dress. This was all being serenaded by Matt on the guitar before he passed it along to come and greet me for the rest of my walk. The service was guided by our dear friend Derek who peacefully spoke about higher connection and divine love. We said our own vows, exchanged rings and sealed it with a kiss.

Drinking and dining – The Bajans and their heartfelt gifts. Instead of presents we asked each local guest to bring a dish to share. (If you’re wondering what the island cuisine consists of, take a moment to check out the posts Welcome to Barbados, let’s eat! and Mr.Delicious doesn’t serve pig tail . Our wedding spread ranged from traditional recipes to creative desserts and most definitely extended beyond what any catering company could of offered. Drinks? Not a dry mouth in the place, if a guests didn’t bring food we invited them to bring a beverage to place on the open bar. Wine, champagne, cases of local beer, liquor, juice, soda and what Barbados festivity would be complete without rum punch! Música! Personally speaking, I can survive any party regardless of food, drink or decorations as long as I have happy people and good music. As if our plans couldn’t of gone any smoother, in walks Dj Trev! He perfectly mixed every genre we wanted to hear, left out all of the songs we didn’t want and had a dance floor that never went empty. He was the icing on our wedding cake!…and the party kept going… and going! I’m so grateful for the experience and love we were able to capture, I’ll hold it dearly forever!

…to be continued.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love in the shape of music, art and traveling sand

Ok, catch up time! I’m currently sitting on the floor of the Fort Lauderdale airport. Why the floor? Ever have the time and space for stretching, flexing or relaxing? Use it! Check out my favorite airport session in the post Workout and rest up in Asian airports

Ok, why am I in route and where am I going… I’ll get back to that after I do a quick round up of the last few weeks. Here’s a few events that I probably should of done entirely separate posts for, but I didn’t, so here we go.

Music, art and beach time!

I’ll give you one guess on the talent that mom and I chose to spend time with? After the  several posts I’ve published on here, you’d have every right to assume it was the band Heritage. How lucky we were that my talented friends Dannica and her brother Ben were starting it off! Schatzti and the String Boffin opened in this backwoods feeling venue with grass as the dance floor, fire pits for warmth and a wooden built stage. Look familiar? This was the original venue in which I was first introduced to their happy and healing tunes. Welcome back to the Backyard Boogie



Art comes into play with a birthday! Matt celebrated his back on October 26th by hosting his first art reveal! From creative paint to photography and light painting, there was a variety of eye and mind stimulation. Go ahead, take a look around! 

Like what you see? Check out the real deal on his website by clicking Here!

We created a little bit of food art to compliment the drinks for the guests attending.

What goes well with food, drinks and art? Music of course! He brought in a few of his instruments for a proper set up and led with an open invite for whom ever wanted to participate.

What a stunning sunset to close out a successful birthday event!

The beach visit of this post has a warm undertone as there was great purpose for mom and I to wander to the shore with an empty container and camera. My sweet Grams back in Oklahoma has never seen the white sand of Florida and often questions the texture and shells that lay within. With this knowledge, mom had a brilliant idea of collecting some and bringing it back to her home in middle America. Good call mom!

Side note, I really did bring it back to her and it’s now the hot topic of her visitors (who are all used to the red dirt and rocks of Oklahoma).
So that wraps up a few pages to the last chapter, and yes, there’s a new one about to begin!  Thanks for supporting and being such a grand part of this incredible journey. I now invite you to love yourself and those around you with the pure kindness. Cheers to all of you beautiful souls! 

I’m being asked to stand as they just announced, “Now boarding, flight 385 direct to Bridgetown, Barbados.”

Next stop… Sandy toes and sun kissed salty hair!

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Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

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Cliffs, Caves and fish cakes!

Once upon a glorious backpacking trip, I went to visit my cousin in Japan and had an amazing time! You can check it out by clicking on any of these posts. During the events, I came accross this happy guy that brought an abundunce of laughter to the already entertaining journey through the country of sushi and hi-chu’s. Craigg and I connected quickly while belting out Alicia Keys seen in This girls on fire! After years of attemted and failed reunions we’ve finally managed to make it happen and wherelese besides good ol’ Barbados. Along with him is Kristina, a vibrant little lady with a passion for adventure and new experiences… My kind of girl!


First things first, Legendary fish cakes! “Legendary” is this sweet well known shack that sells out by lunch and simply closes after the last cake is gone. 


Craigg captured me giving a brief explanation of what these little jewlels are made of (typically it’s a ball of fish, potato, bread crumbs and herbs deep friend and served up with a dipping sauce). You can also get it “in bake” which means in a homemade bread roll.  A proper order would be “2 in bake and 2 fish cakes with peppa sauce”. 

Moving on to our mini island tour. This is the same ride you’ve experienced with me seen in If these walls could talk, would you want to listen? Except now, I’m the driver (enter eyes wide open face here). First stop is straight up to the Animal Flower Caves. This is located at one of the most northern points of the island in the parish of St. Lucy. 

I’ve done a post on the history of this place, so I’ll leave it up to you to do your own research if you’re interested in the actual historical sight. For this round, it’s just picture time!



Walk around to the more eastern side of the point and you’ll find cliff sides embracing the power of the the North Atlantic Ocean.


Next stop was the view from top of Cherry Tree Hill

Finally, no East Coast tour would be complete without a stop at Bathsheba.


So for all of the tourist that check into your accomodations on the south coast then don’t leave the souvenir shops or swim up bar, I invite you to branch out and explore beyond the hotel rum lunch… I mean punch! Rum punch.

Kristina, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your short and sweet visit to this magical place. I invite you to travel with your heart pure, your mind free of expectations and your ears and eyes wide open! 

I’m sure you noticed the spectacular quality of most of the photos above. I give full credit to Craigg, his camera and a little (a lotta) bit of talent. 

Please visit his website at doublegphotography.smugmug.com or follow his eye catching work on Instagram @ craiggjb_

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