Summer Refreshers

Now that it is officially summer and finally warm in most places in the US, I feel like we need to talk about cool drinks. Not drinks with alcohol, nope, not today (but you can for sure add some if you’re feeling it), today is all about super refreshing, healthy, ice cold summer drinks. But with a little fizz, cause all drinks can benefit from some sparkles and bubbles!

SOO. Let’s jump right into talking about these recipes today since we have not one, not two, but THREE to chat about.

First up: Cucumber Melon Refresher

Just like the title states, this drink is super refreshing thanks to the cucumber, honeydew and mint. It’s super simple, basic, not too sweet and most definitely needs to be ice cold to drink. If you’re into minty drinks, this one is for you! It’s also a great one for using up all that summer melon!

Second: Mango Lemonade

SO GOOD, but then how could anything mango and lemon not be good? It’s super sweet, yet tangy from all the lemon. This would be so fun to drink while sitting in the sun, by the pool or simply to sit and sip throughout a picnic.

Third and last: Hibiscus Agua Fresca

This one is possibly my favorite. Well, OK, I can’t choose a favorite (that’s why there are 3!), but this one is just really, really good. I love anything hibiscus and this agua fresco is full of lime, a little ginger and sweetened with honey. Such a great refreshing drink to sip on after coming in from the heat.

Ingredients:

Cucumber Melon Refresher

  • 6 cups cubed honeydew
  • 2 Persian cucumbers or 1 english cucumber skin removed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 2-6 tablespoons honey or agave depending on your taste
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • chilled sparkling water for topping

Mango Lemondade

  • 2 cups very ripe mangos peeled and diced (about 3-4 )
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • sparkling water for topping

Hibiscus Agua Fresca

  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice and lime wedges for serving
  • sparkling water for topping
  • fresh basil or mint

Instructions:

Cucumber Melon Refresher

  1. In a blender, combine the melon, cucumbers, mint and salt. Blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, being careful to not push too much of the pulp through the strainer. Discard the pulp. Stir in the the lime juice and honey. Chill the puree until ready to serve.
  2. To serve pour a little melon puree into a glass filled with ice. Top with chilled  sparkling water.

Mango Lemondade

  1. In a blender, combine the mango, honey and lemon juice. Blend until completely smooth. Pour mixture into a jar and chill until ready to serve.
  2. To serve, pour the mango mixture over a glass filled with ice and top with chilled  sparkling water.

Hibiscus Agua Fresca

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the dried hibiscus, ginger, water and honey. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. Strain the mix through a fine mesh strainer, discard the hibiscus flowers and ginger. Stir in the lime juice and then chill the mixture until ready to serve.
  2. To serve, pour the hibiscus mix over a glass filled with ice and top with chilled sparkling water.

Cheers!

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Sprinkled Dipped Chocolate Churros

If you’re planning on hosting a Cinco de Mayo party, finger foods and appetizers are an absolute must. What kind of a celebration would it be without chips, guacamole and of course, churros?!

These babies pack a sweet punch and are bound to be an instant crowd pleaser. Just add a refreshing margarita and Chimichurri skirt steak, and you’ll have yourself the ultimate Cinco de Mayo spread. Keep scrolling to recreate these irresistible dipped churros and prepare to fall instantly in love…I know I did.

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Ingredients:

For the churros: 

  • 1 ½ quarts canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

For the toppings:

  • 1 cup dark melting chocolate discs (I used Ghirardelli for both)
  • 1 cup white melting chocolate discs
  • sprinkles
  • chopped nuts of your choosing

Instructions:

For the churros:

  1. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan until it reaches 370 degrees. You want it to be about 1 ½ inches deep.
  3. Combine water and butter in another saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon consistently for about a minute (until the dough forms a ball).
  4. Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time (with a wooden spoon) just until combined, not longer. Tip: Don’t over-mix the dough once the eggs are added. It will make the dough too dense.
  5. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping star tip.
  6. Carefully pipe out 5-inch-long strips directly into the hot oil (I squeeze with one hand and cut the dough off with scissors with the other). Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  7. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. While they’re still warm, toss the churros in the cinnamon sugar mixture until completely coated.

For the toppings:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. After your churros are baked, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and cooled, melt each chocolate separately in the microwave. Be careful not to over melt the chocolate. I melt mine in 30 second bursts, stir, and then melt again.
  3. Dunk the churros ¾ down into the chocolate. Tap lightly on the outer edge of the chocolate bowl to release some of the excess chocolate. Set down onto a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle immediately with your toppings. Repeat with remaining churros until all of your chocolate is used up!

These are easily one of my favorite desserts! I’ll be dreaming of them for weeks…

What will you be serving at your Condo de Mayo party?

Upgrading Your Look With Just One Item: The Kimono

I think we all can relate to having days where you just can’t be bothered to get too dressed up with your outfit. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep or maybe it’s laundry day. We all have days where only a simple tee and jeans will do, but there’s a chic piece of Spring outerwear that is not only super comfy, it’ll instantly upgrade your look with barely any effort.

Kimonos! I cannot tell you what a huge difference a simple, detailed piece like a kimono, silk robe or caftan will do for your look. They add plenty of character and print, turning your outfit from basic to fabulous, in a matter of seconds.

Beach weather is almost upon us and of course, the beauty of being able to style a kimono during the warmer days ahead of us is that it is very versatile, so you can wear virtually any simple tee or cami, some denim (including shorts) and sandals and you will come out looking chic as ever.

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Blueberry Streusel Muffins

I don’t know a person out there who doesn’t love a blueberry muffin. (I love, love.) But I also consider them an occasional treat rather than an everyday breakfast item. While a blueberry streusel muffin might not normally sound like the most nutritious breakfast out there, it’s worth remembering that not all muffins are created equally. Unlike your typical blueberry muffins, these blueberry streusel muffins are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free…..and most importantly they are insanely delicious too! So whether you have a food intolerance or just want a healthier option, these blueberry streusel muffins fit the bill. Check out the recipe below and enjoy!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Yields 12-14 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffin dough:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, packed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. blueberries

For the streusel topping:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a small bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients thoroughly. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

3. Pour the batter into the cake molds and top with blueberries. Use a spoon to lightly swirl the blueberries into the cake.

4. Mix together the ingredients for the streusel, until it forms a cookie dough-like texture. Crumble the streusel onto each muffin cup and pop in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides and is golden brown. Turn out of cake molds and cool completely before cutting. Happy eating!

Pretty Spring Salad

With friends and family coming over as it’s getting warmer, it’s not always easy to find the time to create the perfect lunch with my busy schedule. But, I’m trying! I love using Pinterest to search for easy, healthy recipes, plus getting them to look as beautiful as they are delicious is half the fun. Filled with detoxing ingredients that are rich in amino acids, glutathione, and fiber pectin, it’s perfect to start off a healthy eating plan while removing all toxins from your system. This light edible flowers salad is perfect for impressing guests with minimal effort, treating yourself or snapping a photo to add to your Insta feed (you won’t be able to resist!).

Ingredients:
-One package of mixed greens
-About a handful of edible flowers
-1 bunch of radishes
-4 carrots
-2 green onions
-Half of a radicchio
-Olive oil and vinegar for the dressing
-Pears or apples (or both)

Directions
1. Thinly slice all of your vegetables, and create carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, adding olive oil and vinegar to taste.
3. Garnish with flowers for a gorgeous final touch!

Guide to Spring Denim Must Have

Is it Spring already? It’s ridiculous how fast time flies these days! Well, a new season calls for a wardrobe change and there are a number of cool trends in store for us this year. Sometimes, updating your style for the new season is as simple as refreshing a classic fashion essential – such as denim. Like most Cali girls, I love my jeans and my collection is pretty extensive. From boot cut, to denim jackets and the perfect cut-off shorts, it’s the easiest fabric to wear. Here are some Spring denim trends for 2018. Which is your fav?

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The Skinny Flare

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The 80’s High Waist

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The Culotte Jeans

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The New Straight Jeans

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The Wide Leg Jeans

Bookworms Unite

Ever wonder if people are still reading books these days? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m still a total bookworm and to this day I’m a sucker for actual books rather than digital readers. Whether it’s a page turning piece of fiction, an informative political novel or uplifting biography, a good read keeps our imaginations alive and if anything, keeps us entertained. While I haven’t had much time to read over the last few weeks, but you will always find me cozied up in bed, on the couch and on the plane, scanning pages whenever I possibly can.

I’ve gathered some books that I’m dying to read this year and trust me, some of them look like real page-turners! If reading more was on your New Years Resolutions list this year, I highly encourage taking the time for yourself to relax, sit down somewhere and flip through one of these. Scroll down to see my picks!

DIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World by Krista Suh

The creator of the Pussyhat Project gives you her inside tips on how to weave (literally and figuratively) around the weird world. She encourages you not only to how to DIY a lot of things, but help you take down the patriarchy, live by your own rules, and to have fun!

Back Talk: Stories by Danielle Lazarin

Another refreshing story about self-love, Lazarin puts together a stunning collection of stories about women and their unexpressed desires. The accounts entail how women defiantly push the boundaries that our world and social norms have narrowly put together for her.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith

Written by renowned essayist Zadie Smith, this novel touches on her take on contemporary culture. She puts interesting perspective on big influencers, popular places and trending phenomena, and answers the general question of why we do what we do. It will definitely leave you understanding the world a bit better.

White Houses by Amy Bloom

This exciting fictitious novel is about the very close, intimate relationship between journalist Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt, which turns into a very secret, scandalous affair. It entails her journey from her status as “first friend” in the White House down to their last days together, and Hick never lost sight of her love

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

(I know, the book came out last year, but its film adaptation had multiple Golden Globe and Oscar nominations! Which is more reason for us to pick up the actual book and start reading it.) This book follows the intimacy that grows between an adolescent boy and a research student staying at his family’s mansion on the Italian Riviera. Both of them are unprepared for their attraction to each other, not only is it unexpectedly romantic, but the backdrop of ’80’s Italy is all-engrossing.

Oscars Worthy Popcorn

“Weekend ready” is an understatement, is anyone else excited that it’s Friday? With the Oscars just around the corner, I’m feeling inspired to create a glittery snack that seemed totally fitting for a glamorous night. If you’re watching the show this weekend, pop open some red wine and try this with your friends!

Ingredients:
-Desired amount of popcorn (you can make it fresh with kernels on the stovetop, use microwave bags, or even use premade popcorn)
-Olive oil spray
-Salt and other seasonings to taste (optional to use garlic powder, or sugar if you like sweet popcorn)
–Edible glitter (I used gold and silver dust, plus gold star flakes)

Directions:
1. After popping your popcorn by your preferred method, place it in a large bowl and spritz it with the olive oil or butter spray. Mix until evenly coated.
2. Add salt and seasonings to taste. Mix thoroughly, and sample to make sure seasonings are to your preference.
3. Transfer to your serving bowl, and lightly dust the popcorn with the gold and silver dust. I kept the 2 colors separate. Top off the entire bowl with gold star flakes for extra sparkle! Enjoy!

Baked Conversations

It always feels like February has officially begun when we start seeing conversation heart candies in grocery stores. I don’t know about you,but seeing those little sayings in their red and pink boxes just make me happy. And, these sweets happen to incorporate some of my favorite color palette (pastels all day, every day please). So, what’s not to love? With these signature Valentine’s Day candies on the brain lately I wanted to share a recipe that I had found to whip up a conversation heart inspired treat. These baked White Chocolate Conversation Heart Donut bites are delicious, easy to make, and obviously so fun to decorate.

Just in case you were considering throwing a donut decorating party to celebrate your Valentines or Galentines this year, this recipe serves as the final piece of persuasion you needed.

Ingredients:

For the donut batter

  • donut pan
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • gel food coloring (red, yellow, green, orange, purple, pink)
  • 8 ounces coating white chocolate
  • candy coloring (yellow, green, orange, purple, pink)

 

Instructions:

1. Whisk cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add your dry ingredients into your wet and whisk just until combined. Try not to over mix or else your batter will be tough.

2. Butter or spray your donut pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Divide the batter into 5 small bowls. Color each bowl, with the gel food coloring, into pastel colors.

4. Add the donut batter into a large piping bag and fill each donut cavity until ¾ of the way full. If you don’t have piping bags, don’t worry—use a spoon instead. Piping bags just give you a more even distribution. Bake the donuts for about 7 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

5. Let the donuts cool in the pan for about a minute, then flip onto your work surface and let cool. Repeat until all of your batter is baked.

6. Melt the coating white chocolate in the microwave, in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.

7. Divide the chocolate into 5 small glass bowls. Color each bowl with the candy color. Try to match the chocolate to the pastel color donuts.

8. Dip the tops of each donut into the chocolate. Place the donuts on a piece of parchment paper and let harden.

9. Put a couple of drops of the red food coloring onto a small piece of parchment paper/aluminum foil/wax paper.

10. Dip a small paintbrush into the red food coloring and write the sayings onto the tops of the donuts.

What cute catchy phrase will you write on your donut?

How To Make Your Super Bowl Party A Touchdown

It’s that time of year again for the Super Bowl and I’m so excited! The Super Bowl is one of my favorite times to throw a party, especially in my new house this year,  I like to invite all my family and friends over to watch the big game and to make so many wonderful and delicious snacks to munch on while watching.

Check out some of my favorite recipes to make so you can be the MVP of your own Super Bowl watch party!

Team Spirit Popcorn

No matter who you’re rooting for, this sweet popcorn recipe is a delicious way to show your team spirit

Recipe from Two Sisters Crafting

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups of popped popcorn
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • Regular M&M’s (with team colors)
  • Pretzel M&M’s

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are melted
  2. Pour the marshmallows mixture over the popcorn slowly, making sure most of the popcorn is covered. Leave a little bit of the mixture leftover.
  3. Place popcorn onto a cookie sheet and drizzle the remaining marshmallow mixture on top.
  4. Add the M&M’s, then break into pieces and serve.

 

Game Day Pizza

This is another super easy way to turn a party favorite (who doesn’t love pizza?) into a game day treat. All you have to do is take a normal cheese pizza and use pepperoni slices to create a football shape. Add strategically-placed cheese to make the laces, and you have a party ready pizza.

 

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed French Bread

Don’t let the lengthy ingredient list on this recipe scare you, its actually very easy to make and I promise will be one of the first dishes at your party to be finished! If you can, heat this up right when your guests arrive so it is served warm with the cheese melting.

Recipe from The Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1/2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (add more if you like spice!)
  • 1 packet dry ranch dressing seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese4 cups packed shredded cooked chicken

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Cut a large rectangle through the top of the bread, but make sure not to cut through the bottom of the bread. Remove top and hollow out to middle to create a bread bowl.
  3. Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, sour cream, ranch dressing, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder in bowl until combined.
  4. Add in bleu cheese, 3/4 cups cheddar and 3/4 cups mozzarella cheese and stir. Then add the chicken.
  5. With a spoon, add the mixture into the bread bowl and top with the rest of the cheddar and mozarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes on a baking tray, until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  7. Let bread cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve!

 

Enjoy your Sunday Super Bowl guys!

Coconut Hair Oil Challenge

I have an insane obsession with coconut oil and, to be perfectly honest, if you aren’t up to speed on all the health benefits behind this omega-3-packed oil, then you might want to brush up on your research. In fact, I have admittedly used coconut for almost every purpose you can think of—body lotion, cooking oil, lip balm, cuticle oil, makeup remover and baking. The only way I hadn’t used coconut oil, up until recently that is, was on my hair. One of my girlfriends swears by its magic as an all natural hair mask, which got me thinking that, with the dry winter season, it was about time to add one more use to my roster of coconut oil remedies. So, a month ago, I set out to do just that.

Today I’m letting you in on my experiment with putting a coconut oil hair mask on my tresses once a week for a month. Scroll down to find out how I did it, how it felt and my overall review on whether I think this word of mouth beauty DIY works or not.

The Process

This coconut oil hair mask itself is quite simple. I just picked up a new jar of my favorite extra virgin organic coconut oil at my local market and started slathering it all over my hair. At the recommendation of my friend, I applied the oil over dry hair and I admit it felt kinda funny to be rubbing oil into dry hair. But you can apply it to wet, shampooed hair if you’d prefer. I scooped the coconut oil into my hands, rubbed my hands together to make it an oily consistency, then evenly coated all strands with the oil, using about two tablespoons total (you will need more with longer hair and less with shorter hair). I focused mostly on the ends, which needed a little more love and went lighter on the roots. Then I used my fingers to comb through my hair to distribute it evenly. Once again, it feels weird, but after doing it twice I completely got used to the feeling of oil in my dry hair. I applied the coconut oil at nighttime before bed for a deep conditioning effect and wore a fabric shower cap over my head to go to sleep, so as to not ruin my pillow case.

The Results

The first time I rinsed out the coconut oil hair mask, I wasn’t quite used to the feeling of how oily my hair would feel in the shower. It took about two rounds of shampooing in the shower to get that oily feeling out and I used conditioner after too. Once I towel dried my hair and let it air dry, it did feel thicker and more hydrated. The best part was that this feeling multiplied after every time I did the mask. By the third week of doing a coconut oil hair mask, my strands felt much thicker and shinier and my hair felt stronger and softer in general.

Why It Works

There is lauric acid in coconut oil which has a low molecular weight, it allows the oil to actually penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing the hair with vitamins, minerals and the medium chain fatty acids. Coconut oil is a fabulous way to give your hair this healthy boost it needs because it is rich in antioxidants, it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. So, it leaves the hair feeling not only moisturized, but clean too. While many of our shampoos, conditioners and other hair products tend to be full of harmful chemicals and toxins, coconut oil is 100% natural and seriously good for your hair and scalp. You can use coconut oil as an intensive overnight hair treatment like I did or as an everyday hair oil, using just about ¼ teaspoon. I recommend using extra virgin organic coconut oil as a great chemical free hair conditioning treatment replacement.

Would you try a hair oil coconut mask?

And, do you have any great DIY hair mask recipes you love?

Tell me about your favorite hair masks in the comments below so that I can give them a try too!

Not #Goals, But Goals

January can suck. Let’s be real. It’s cold, dark, Christmas is over, and statistically, 80% of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. So, I decided to write a kind of manifesto for 2018. A guide meets commitment list, to the things that I believe matter most or can help most, when it comes to life goals.

I titled this post ‘Not #Goals, but Goals,’ because sometimes the ‘#goals’ you see online are just unrealistic or worse, make you feel downright crappy about yourself. A lot of those social media #goals are about the perfect brows or the perfect waistline and I got sick of that being something we place so much importance on these days.

 Life can sometimes spiral and become overwhelmingly busy. Women are particularly good at putting themselves last on a long list of priorities. But I want to put us back at the top of that list. I’m a firm believer that the smallest of changes can make the biggest difference. It’s easy to forget that there are so many elements in our lives that we do control. Ok, our paycheck, family members, lack of sleep etc – is predominantly out of our hands. But who we hang out with, what we eat, whether we exercise, what we read, how we think… that’s up to us.

I’ve just had a few days away from my busy schedule, to regroup, think and do one of my favorite things: read. I love to read, it centers me again and helps me think straight. So here’s my manifesto. What’s your manifesto, fill in your answers below too!

My Manifesto for 2018

My biggest goal this year: to launch my new business concept.

How to make it happen: do my homework on the subject matter and write a pitch.  Then, set up meetings with the people I know who could help make it.

I’ll stay active by: Working out at least three times a week. I do a mix of pilates, Barre class and hot yoga. Walking rather than cabbing, when I’m in cities.

I’m keeping: the positive people in my life as close as possible and recognizing the difference between a true friend from an acquaintance.

I will challenge myself by: striving to keep a better balance between work and play. By putting down boundaries, I want to learn to switch off more.

I will learn: to take the time to reflect, in order to be more creative. It’s important to be a dreamer, not just a doer. This quote by E. L. Konigsburg sums it up. “Some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up and touch everything. If you never let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you.”

I will laugh: as much as possible. Even when I feel frustrated or tired. I’m going to try and laugh at situations because there’s always that split second of choice.

I shall geek out over: more documentaries.

The recipe I’ll master: beef wellington. If Master Chef Junior kids can do it, so can I!

I want to visit: Bermuda. I have never been and the pink beaches is calling me!

I need to improve: my patience. Both with myself and my loved ones. I run at a fast pace and need to remember it’s ok to slow down and not rush at everything. I also need to remember that worrying never solved anything.

My favorite quote for right now: “None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” – Nanea Hoffman

Don’t forget to fill out your own answers!