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Life

In Volunteer on
April 18, 2015

Esperanza Soap – #SoapIsHope

Esperanza Soap is my new obsession.

#SoapIsHope

First let me give you a little bit of background on the soap! It’s all natural and hand-crafted. It comes in several different scents/flavors.


*Image curtsey of Upward Ventures!

I personally had the opportunity to try the Cocoa Mint Flavor. This flavor is a mixture of real mint, cocoa butter, and peppermint essential oils. Yummy. 

The first thing that I noticed about the soap was that is smells so delicious! I can’t stand soaps that have no smell or that smell too strong and this was definitely a happy medium. You could smell the minty-ness in the steam in the shower but after I got out it didn’t linger on my skin all day long.

If you don’t use a loofah or washcloth when you take a shower, you might want to try using one if you plan on trying this soap! Many of the different flavors have natural exfoliants like sea salt, pine needles, and coconut shavings which can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin.

Reminder: When you are trying any new product for the first time you should always patch test it first. Use a small amount on a small portion of your skin to ensure that you won’t have an adverse reaction to it all over your body. 

I normally have extremely sensitive skin… I can’t wear anything that has a strong scent and some of the different soap brands that I’ve purchased from the store have left my skin dry and un-moisturized or even with a red rash.

When I went to Cancun last month for spring break, I had an awful allergic reaction that left me with itchy hives all over my body. I was still recovering from some of the after effects from the hives – mostly extremely dry patches on my skin. The exfoliants in this soap really helped me with this issue! I rubbed the bar directly against my skin instead of onto a loofah or wash cloth. Over the next couple of days my skin was slowly feeling softer and more moisturized.

Esperanza Soap is a company started by the organization Upward Ventures.

There are so many benefits to supporting this organization! First, they’re all about women’s empowerment. The goal is to build a factory in rural Las Malvinas, Santa Domingo and give five women in the community jobs to be able to support and empower their families.

Upward Ventures has a powerful message. It reminds of the old saying: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Rather than just donating money that will only temporarily help people in impoverished areas, they want to empower them to be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

Being blessed with the opportunity to travel has allowed me to  truly see how thankful and grateful I should be of my circumstances. Although I do not have everything I could ever want in the world, I have everything that I can ever need. I personally feel that it’s my duty to give back and to allow other people to experience that same opportunity.

One of the things that I definitely take for granted is soap and access to clean water. I never have to wake up in the morning and wonder how I’m going to be able to get clean for the day. There are many places around the world that lack access to clean water and soap. In fact, two million children are killed from sicknesses such as diarrhea or other infectious diseases each year. 41% of these deaths are preventable! Esperanza Soaps will be providing the community in Las Malvinas that lacks a sewer system with a way to make a positive health impact and save lives.

I loved using this soap. I am a huge fan of anything that’s all natural and hand-crafted. The fact that I can know exactly what products went into this was a huge plus for me. Also, the fact that I can now say that by supporting this organization, I will actually know the people whose hands helped to make and craft this is really special to me as well.

Unfortunately these soaps are not currently available for retail. Upward Ventures is still fundraising to build their soap factory. There are a few more days left in their campaign for this venture. If this product and cause interests you at all, I would urge you to donate and spread the word while you still can! There are even some perks for donating… like getting a free bar of soap in the mail! Check out their Indiegogo campaign here.

Please share and spread the word!

 

In Life on
November 11, 2014

21 Candles

I’M FINALLY 21!
 
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Thank you to everyone who made my 21st birthday so special to me. I am so incredibly thankful to have been blessed with another year of life to keep on living and loving.

 
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Birthday Mani-Pedi’s with my cousin Marley.
 
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A feast fit for a foodie.

 

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Birthday Brunch with my best friend Nicole

 

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In College on
September 25, 2014

Back To School Essentials

This week marks the first official week of Fall!
Fall is my favorite season, especially because I get to partake in my favorite past-time: Back To School Shopping!
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I took a few weeks off to sort out my life and now I’m settled in for my last year of college. But now I’m back! I gave the blog layout a little refresher while I was gone too! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

I know that mostly everyone has been back to school for a few weeks now, but if I’m honest with you… I back-to-school shop for the entire month of September. Seriously, I’m always the poorest in September because I’m buying tons of stuff to fill my desk and my dorm room. So let’s just pretend like you all are just like me for a moment and you’re all still shopping too. 😀

 
Shall we?
 
Here we go!
 
Here are some of the Back To School items that I just can’t live without this year.
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1. Agenda
My school used to give out agendas for free, but after my sophomore year, they decided to be more efficient and sustainable and sacked the whole idea. (Apparently people weren’t using them.) So for the last two years I’ve shelled out the extra cash to get this Lily Pulitzer agenda. Did I really need to spend $30 on an agenda book? No. There are plenty more affordable options. Like this one here, here and here. I just love that it’s so colorful. It makes me actually write down the work that I have to get done (Me actually doing it is another story…. #senioritis.)
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2. Travel Tumbler
I love love love coffee. Especially iced coffee. I don’t drink it much in the summer time, but come the first day of class, it’s as second nature to me as the blood running through my veins. It’s a habit that I’ve been trying to kick; I’ve been trying to get into drinking Iced Chai’s more often. One thing that I absolutely hate about drinking coffee: when your plastic container sweats all over your hands. It instantly ruins my mood. I grabbed this coffee tumbler from TJ Maxx for $3!!!!!! 
 
*insert angels singing here* 
 
Yes, you read that right. Three. Dollars. What is life?
This has been a lifesaver! It’s reusable. (So sustainable and environmentally friendly. Think of all the plastic you’re saving from going into the ocean.) Dishwasher safe. (Not that I have one at school, but very important for some people.) Plus, my favorite on campus coffee shop gives you a discount when you bring your own cup. I carry this baby around with me to class filled high with my coffee (or Chai) and sip away. The best part – it doesn’t sweat all over your hands because it has a double layer. Win for you. Win for the environment. Win for all.
*not pictured: my tumbler for hot drinks, but it promise, it’s equally as cute.
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3. Water bottle
Ok. Let me be honest with you here. I wish that I used this water bottle a lot more often than I actually do, but that’s just not the case. First of all, I don’t have a water filter in my room, so I grab a plastic bottle from my fridge and pour it in. I know, I know… it defeats the purpose, but hey, you win some you lose some. This water bottle was a gift from the Rec Center at my school for winning a competition during training. I have a larger Nalgene brand one that I bring with me when I teach Zumba classes (because it fits twice as much water in it, but it’s too bulky for me to want to lug around to class.)
 
4. Laptop cover
I used to have a plastic-y silicone laptop cover case (you know what I’m talking about, literally everyone has them to cover their Macs.) I had one in purple and when that one cracked I got another one in turquoise. But I found that they collect way too much dust and grime – especially when the majority of my time using my laptop is spent in bed with Netflix and Cheez-Its. (I’m telling you, when I took off the case there were lint balls from my fuzzy blanket and orange crumbs everywhere.) I wasn’t going to change my Netflix-ing ways so I just changed the laptop cover. This laptop skin is so cute, I always get compliments on it. Plus my laptop feels 10 lbs lighter – much better for when I have to bring it to class.
 
I bought mine online, but you can google search Marble Laptop Decal and find one for you too!
That empty space on top of my pink CD case is where I usually leave my Canon camera (which I was using to take these pictures!) Any one have any suggestions on a way to hide those charging cords? Comment below!

 

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5. Laptop Case
I did a Google search for “cute envelope macbook pro case.” This one showed up. I fell in love. Bonus point: it comes with the CUTEST charging cord carrier. It was a match made in heaven.
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6. Cute Desk Accessories
My desk is where I get a lot of stuff done. My homework, my “job” work, my to do lists, my blogging, my writing…. Sometimes it’s just more fun to be surrounded by things that inspire you. I put a lot of thought into each desk accessory. My stiletto heel tape dispenser was a gift from my coworkers Kyle and Katelyn (Thank you, girls!!); black floral frame is from TJ Maxx. I’m not sure what to put in the frame yet… maybe an inspirational quote or a picture of my family. Something to make me smile while I burn the midnight oil. 

 

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A lot of the stuff on my desk has been accumulated from the last three years of school. If I could start over, I would totally try and get everything in acrylic or black for a really minimalistic look. But I love what I have so far. It’s a great reflection of how my style has evolved.
I hope you were able to find something to inspire your next shopping trip! What are some of your back to school essentials?

 
In Life on
August 30, 2014

Dear Maya, My Sister’s Keeper

Dear Maya,
 
As this post goes up, you are moving into your dorm room for your first year of college.
 

Let me start this letter to you by saying, I know we were not the closest siblings growing up. In middle school and high school we fought constantly like cats and dogs. We argued over the smallest things and refused to speak to each other when we got into it. However, all of that changed a few years ago when I went off to college.

 

 

 
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – I’d like to think that’s what happened to us. We were around each other enough to argue all the time over the meaningless things. Instead we valued the little time that we had together when I was home for the weekend and on breaks.
 
I have watched you grow from a quiet, shy, young girl to a fiercely confident young woman who constantly speaks her mind.
 

 

 

 

 
I have seen you grow creatively. Your passion for fashion grew from forcing me to watch Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model with you to watching you sketch your own designs and witnessing them come to life. And now I am so proud to tell the world and anyone who will listen that you are achieving your dreams of attending school for fashion design. 
 

 

 

 

 
Despite all of the pointless arguments and disagreements that we may have had in the past (and that we will most likely have in the future too), I hope you know now that I love you tremendously. I couldn’t have asked God for a better sister to go through this World with. 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
I hope that as you enter this next big chapter in you life, you remember that I am and always will be your Number 1 fan. I will always go to bat for you no matter the time or the situation. And I will always be the first on the sidelines to cheer you on.
 
I don’t need to tell you that I know you will accomplish great things because you’ve already made it clear to the world that you will.
 

 

 

 

 
Remember that no matter how old you get (and no matter how high your heels may be) you will forever and always be my Baby Sis.

 

I love you to the moon and back.
 
XOXO ♥♥♥  
In Boston, Foodie Files, Places To Eat on
July 31, 2014

Row 34, Boston

Family dinners are my favorite, especially when we go out to eat. We recently tried this place in the Seaport District called Row 34.
 

Our table wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we walked around for a bit. And I got to play tourist.
 

 

Despite having grown up around Boston, I’ve never really experienced the city. So this summer I’ve been taking every chance I can to play tourist. 
 

 

 
Recreate this look:
It didn’t take too long for us to be called back to the restaurant. As starving as we were, we hurried back as fast as we could.
 

 

The best way that I can describe being in Row 34 would be like being in a modern warehouse turned diner .
 
The decor and everything definitely had a modern feel. Sleek lines, lots of black, white, and grays.
 
 
But the kitchen was similar to a diner set up. The chef called out orders to the staff in the kitchen and passed them through just like the would if you were at a old school diner.

 

 

The coasters had cute little sayings on them.
 
We were seated right next to the wine fridge, so we got to check out all the labels before making our selections.
 
We sipped on some dranks and put in an appetizer of calamari (our family’s usual go to appetizer) and fried oysters.
 
My mom didn’t like the first beer she ordered. They were kind enough to let her sample some other flavors before she ordered another. 
 
BTW, they brew their own beers… Momma was craving a Sam Adams Summer and was so disappointed that they didn’t have it – but she forgot all about it by the time her second beer selection rolled around.

 

 Fried calamari, before it was devoured. 
 
Fried oysters, on a bed of french fries. 
This plate literally didn’t last two minutes at the table before it was gone.
 
 
We checked out the menus, but somehow we all ended up ordering the same thing.
Lobster rolls.
 

 

 

Since we’d devoured our appetizers within minutes of them arriving. We sat around moping until the food arrived. Look at all those hungry faces…
 
We didn’t have to wait too long….
 
Before we were presented with this:

 

 

Ethel’s Creamy Lobster Roll 

 

 

Warm Buttered Lobster Roll
 
Like I said, we all ordered lobster rolls.
 
My Dad and I got the classic Ethel’s Lobster Roll, while my Mom and my sister Maya went with the warm buttered lobster roll. 
 
If I had to pick a favorite, I would hands down pick the warm buttered lobster roll. I had a bite of my Mom’s and was begging her to switch with me. 
She didn’t.
 
That’s okay. As you can tell, I still enjoyed mine.
 
 
When dinner was over we went straight to dessert. My parents skipped out, but Maya and I ordered a fried peach pie to split.
 
 It arrived very quickly and came with a vanilla cream sauce.
 
 It was piping hot when we cut it open. It even sizzled when I poured the cream sauce on top!
 
Just look at how delicious that looks.  
 
Don’t believe me?
 Here’s your proof: I practically licked my plate clean.
Overall, dinner at Row 34 was yummy and a lot of fun, but a bit pricey. They call themselves the “workingman’s oyster bar” but let’s just say that if my parent’s didn’t pay for dinner, I would not be able to afford it myself (especially as a poor college student).
 
Honestly, you can find a lobster roll combo that’s just as good somewhere else like in Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston for much, much cheaper. So don’t order that unless you’ve got some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket. They do offer a dish called the Shellfish Tower that has an assortment of seafood (oysters, clams, etc) for around 80 bucks. If you go with a group and split the check it could definitely be worth it.
 
Visit the Row 34 website here
Be sure to let me know if you go for a visit, and what you think!