Rose Self-Care/Beauty Products I’m Obsessed with in 2020!

1. Moroccan Magic Argan & Essential Oil Lip, Rose

Why I’m obsessed:
  • Aromatic like fresh cut roses but is not overpowering.
  • It is totally flavorless. No weird taste of fragrances or unhealthy artificial sweeteners.
  • It doesn’t slide around like a cheap grease and it doesn’t bleed outside the lip area.
  • It absorbs so well yet keeps your lips smooth, sleek, and hydrated.
  • This is the only lip balm I don’t have to constantly reapply, but I do anyway because of how beautiful I feel when I do.
  • Perfect to wear alone or under lipstick and matte lip paints, if you’re into that.
  • It’s organic! Take a look at the ingredients. You’ll fall in love.
  • Easy to purchase; sold at Target for about $4; also available on Amazon.

2. Rose-Geranium Balancing Ritual, by evanhealy

This is a beautiful skin-care starter set that says is compatible with all skin types. I’m in my early 30’s and I have combination skin and I absolutely in love with this set and the results it gives, even from the first use. I’ve been using it for about 2, almost 3 weeks. It balances and soothes the skin and the rose geranium essential oils are divine to the senses. Now this is self-care!!

This set includes 5 items:

  • Rose Cleansing Milk
  • Organic Rose-Geranium Facial Tonic HydroSoul
  • Organic Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum
  • Rosehip Vetiver Day Moisturizer
  • French Rose Clay
Rose Cleansing Milk
Why I’m obsessed:
  • The cleansing milk leaves face feeling so soft and nourished.
  • The skin on my face feels clam and balanced.
  • Skin feels soft and supple; minimized pore size.
  • The facial serum is so luxurious. It absorbs so well without a greasy feel and leaves behind a beautiful glow.
  • Applied alone it can be very concentrated so that would be great for those with mature skin.
  • For myself, I like to rub about 5-6 drops and a 3-5 sprays of the HydroSoul between my palms and then massage onto my face, neck and décolletage.
Organic Rose Geranium Facial Tonic HydroSoul
Why I’m obsessed:
  • The HydroSoul is in a spray bottle and is nice to spray on after cleansing or any time your face needs nourishing a drink of moisturizer.
  • Tones the skin very well
  • It’s like a rose petals kissed your face and left a heavenly botanical scent.
  • Can be used to custom dilute the concentration of the facial serum to fit individual and changing skin needs
  • Can be used to mix with the french rose clay mask powder and to soften the clay mask right before removing
  • It’s organic!
Organic Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum
Why I’m obsessed:
  • The facial serum is so luxurious.
  • It’s organic!
  • Smells like fresh cut roses of course
  • Absorbs so well without a greasy feeling and yet skin has a beautiful ethereal glow.
  • I could apply make-up on after this and it did slip around my face (I wait for it to fully absorb for a few minutes before applying any make-up).
  • It works very well on the face, neck and the décolletage/chest area. I like to rub about 5-6 drops of the serum and a 3-5 sprays of the HydroSoul between my palms and then massage into skin….Amazing!
Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer
Why I’m obsessed:
  • Quick absorption
  • The texture of the formula is like a firm cream/jello pudding. Maybe that sounds weird but I love it on my skin. (not actual pudding…)
  • A feeling of cool/chill, even when applied at room temp.
  • Skin feels supple and appears slightly matte after applying.
  • Like a big drink of rose infused water for the skin.
French Rose Clay
Why I’m obsessed:
  • After rinsing, skin feels super soft, and lifted.
  • My pores appear much smaller and skin glows from within!
  • It’s in a dry powder form so shelf life is longer than if it was premixed with a liquid. (Just be careful, as the powder is super fine and easy blows away, once cap is off as with any powder product).

3. Thayers Natural Remedies, Facial Toner – Rose Petal

Why I’m obsessed:
  • Generous bottle size but also available in a cute mini misting bottle (Target)
  • Alcohol-Free, natural, gentle, and effective! Uses witch hazel (a botanical), instead of harsh alcohol.
  • No Parabens or Phthalates
  • Made with rose hydrosol, not fake fragrance.
  • I love using this daily and especially for monthly hormonal skin breakouts.
  • Minimizes my pores

4. All Things Lavender Seattle – Lavender Rose Deeply Moisturizing Lotion

Why I’m obsessed:
  • Gentle on all skin types
  • Organic locally sourced ingredients that are mostly botanicals
  • Smells very “Rosey” but with captivating and calming lavender notes
  • Absorbs so nicely; non-greasy formula
  • Note: Once the pandemic hit, they packed up their stand in Pike Place Market (Seattle, WA) and moved to the east coast. The store now operates exclusively online at allthingslavenderseattle.com

These are my absolute favorite ‘Rose’ self-care/beauty products that bring beauty and nourishment during these crazy pandemic times that I love and I think you will love them too!

If you enjoyed my photos of roses on this post, then stay tuned for my next post about where I visited to capture these shots and how you can visit too!

This is probably my favorite shot! Look at this soft and innocent dandelion among these beautiful roses! How cute is this??!! I feel magical when I look at this picture, seriously though how sweet is this. It reminds me of a child surrounded by strong protective women like mamas, aunties, and grandmas or something or something poetic like, “Its’ OK to be a dandelion among all the roses. Bloom where you are, as you are!”

A day trip to Seattle, before the world changed.

I had a strong, nearly complete post that sat in my drafts for a few months. I was nearing the completion of it, at the end of February. As the virus gained more attention, my inner voice/common sense/discernment/intuition, whatever we call it now, told me, “Shhh, be still now. Time to go inward, prayer, family, time to rest and go within. Stay centered.”, and just very deep root and heart chakra stuff. Then I saw the American freedoms and all over the world quickly change as we have come together as human beings for a greater cause. Now we are called to adjust and take care of each other. <3

The news that would follow in the coming weeks and over these past 2 months would get most everybody on the same page.

As you can imagine the situations surrounding the virus unfolded, life changed, and the draft of this post needed more thought.

I always have that energy to head out for adventure, visit a cool places and spaces, try new things! Just travel to get out and see something awesome. Maybe go somewhere cool that wasn’t too far, but just enough to feel newish and well.. you get it, I hope. Also Southwest airlines had the best deals advertised, the “$59 Wanna-Get-Away?” deals were just incredible, in terms of average airfare prices?! Since I enjoyed Seattle so much a few years ago on a girls trip, naturally I had to see just how fun it would be to visit Seattle in a day; Like a 12-hour travel/eat/take pictures/fun-filled day! What the heck you only turn 33 once and my mom wants to come with me?! It was honestly one of the best birthdays ever so special to my soul! Mom-Daughter day trips rock!

No. I am not sponsored by Southwest Airlines ….yet? I wish I was!

View of Downtown Seattle from Space Needle’s new glass observation deck, January 28, 2020. 605 feet high.

So in my spontaneous birthday seasoned mind, I’m thinking, “$120ish to travel to and from Seattle? Short 2-hour flight?” What fun could be had in 8-9 hours on foot and using LYFT to get around in this beautiful city? Hmmm….”

If you are on the West Coast and you have an entire day to spend, it is possible and so worth it, to have an amazing day in Seattle and be back in time to iron out your clothes for the next work day! Of course, you could just take off some vacation time and have a 2-3 day or extended visit. For me, I was just very busy in every area of life, but for some reason, this year I had this need to go somewhere. It was also the thought and experience of getting to travel inexpensively to a cool coastal city, all in 1 day (11-12 hour day total). We departed San Jose at 8:45 AM, landed in Seattle at 10:30 AM. When it was time to head back home, we departed from Seattle that evening around 8:30 PM, landing back in San Jose at about 10:20 PM. I live about 10-15 minutes away from the airport. I went home, got ready for bed with my family, and then we all had the next weekday routine ready and carried on with the week.

Tips

  • Check out the Southwest Airlines Wanna Get Away airfare low price calendar. Also, there is a new travel app called Hopper with great airfare and hotel deals.
  • Aim for a departing flight early in the morning and the latest possible return flight back home to really get the maximum use of time.
  • Use LYFT to get around the city. Don’t rent a car if you’re only there for the day. It’s just one day [about 8 -10 hours of feet on the ground free time]. I hear the public transportation in the city is actually very good and inexpensive, but in respects to time, especially if you are unfamiliar, I wouldn’t want to waste precious free time possibly getting lost or detoured. We used LYFT and we loved it! I do hear the monorail can be taken from the shopping mall to the Space Needle and museums very quickly and it’s a lovely train ride. I think we just wanted to do things easy and without any possible hassles.

Now, here are some pictures of freedoms enjoyed before many of our ways of life changed, to protect ourselves and the vulnerable populations now.

The beauty of this is the easy-going way about it. No intense packing/unpacking. Just your phone, a cute bag, and a light but windproof jacket. When you think Seattle, you think rain, but I would totally wait on buying an umbrella or rain boots. That could be better spent once you are there and you see all the cool and unique things at Pike Place Market.

2 legit reasons not to buy an umbrella or rain boots before arriving in Seattle:

  1. I would want to buy these in Seattle for that genuine and unique attachment to your trip, like a souvenir.
  2. Would if it doesn’t rain? Don’t go and buy rain boots and an umbrella before your trip there, unless they are really that cute, I guess.

Pssst…. It didn’t rain when we went, but I think we were just very very lucky and blessed. Chances are you own these items already, anyway.

My mom is so much fun to travel with. She has a fun spontaneous heart! Seattle is a great city that is not as far as some might think. Being from Northern California, it is a very enjoyable day trip that you can fit 2-3 activities in. We spent a good 9 hours just taking in the city, walking, shopping, and dining. We used LYFT to get around to places that were too far or to save some time. We departed San Jose Mineta airport at 8:45 AM, landed in SEA-TAC airport at 10:30 AM. We caught a LYFT and began ourY

Our LYFT dropped us off in front of Pike Place around 11:00 AM the place came alive and bustling with action. The fish were in full toss! The musicians were jamming. All this on a Tuesday morning!

Pictured above were some lively fisherman singing and offering us samples of delicious smoked salmon. I bought the cup of fresh crab salad for about $10.00. Let me tell you… it was super delicious and freshest seafood I’ve ever had. The crab salad was served with with their market-made spicy cocktail sauce. I think the portion size was very good for the price, given the high quality. The Ocean-to-Table freshness was a real treat. You can get great sea food in SF but I think the water quality is just a lot better in Seattle? That is just a guess. It just tasted so good.just amazing, This is served in a clear disposable cup you can walk around with. Onward!!

Here, I had some very fresh and delicious crab salad. It was the first culinary treat I had. Being someone who fasts, this was actually the most optimal thing to eat before having a bigger meal. Shrimp salad was also available but fresh Crab salad is a very special treat.

Further down our walk through this wondrous market, there were all these fresh fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, pastries, cool souvenirs, dumb souvenirs, and live musicians playing their heart out!

So my mom and I LOVE LAVENDER anything. We stopped at this beautiful lavender stand that sells self-care and cooking products. All of their products are infused with Washington grown lavender essential oil. The company is called All Things Lavender – Pike Place Market. The owner was super sweet. My mom picked up some a couple bottles of the Chocolate Lavender Hand and Body Lotion. It smells so good and yummy at once. I chose the Lavender Rose scent. I’m on the rose everything obsession right now. I keep it at my dresser and use it all the time.

Another treasure I picked up: Lavender infused honey (pictured below). I love a good local honey, even if not local to me. Whatever, its just so good! Honey for toast, teas, dip your french fries in it, use it in place of syrup!

We walked all the way through the Market, where all the hand crafters and artisans sold their eclectic arts and unique goods. This is my favorite part of the market because it is so charming and inviting. There are so many treasures and so much great food to try. It would probably take me 2 entire weeks to try all the culinary treats that this city has to offer!

All Things Lavender – Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA.
Pike Place Market Lavender Co.

We must have spent a good 1.5 hours browsing, taking pictures, and picking up cool finds. Next, just across the the street, we visited Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Beecher’s has two locations – Seattle and New York City. You can see the cheese cream being made and stirred right from outside the store front window! It’s like the Ghirardelli Square of Cheese in Seattle. While we were here I tried Beecher’s World’s Best Mac & Cheese. It is hands down the best Mac & Cheese I have ever tasted as of yet! Seriously good and seriously creamy and sharp mac and cheese. I bought the regular size at $6.00. The portion was generous. It was the perfect snack size fro 2 people or maybe a very fulfilling portion for 1 person. My mom and I shared it. We knew we were saving our appetite for the other treats and lattes along the way. Everyone, this is a must when you visit Pike Place Market. I promise I’m not trying to overhype this.

Truth be told, Beecher’s makes some bitchin’ mac & cheese!!

I also took home some a modest block of Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar. It fit right in my purse and since it was a solid good, it’s was OK to take back with me as a carry-on back home…lol yes I carried a block of cheese in my purse. LMBO!! So worth it, who cares.

Also, there was absolutely no lines anywhere. II credit this to visiting the city on a Tuesday. A Tuesday morning. at that. I highly this. Who cares if it’s not Saturday or Sunday, especially for a day trip. Saturdays and Sundays really only matter if you are interested in the night life or a specific event.

Next, we headed just a short few steps up to the alley way to Pike Place Market Chowder Company. Here we had the flights tasting of the award winning chowders they offered, pictured below.

Pictured: Large New England clam chowder, left; Chowder Flight, right. The flight includes any 4 chowders you choose from the menu. I chose the New England Clam Chowder, Seafood Bisque, Manhattan Clam Chowder, and the Seared Scallop Chowder..

We sat at the bar stools and enjoyed some award winning chowders. It was served with fresh sour dough already which is very soft and fresh. I skipped the bread bowl to just be one with the chowder. Some posts will say oh my gosh don’t get caught in the hype of Pike Place Market chowder. Supposedly there are so many other places for chowder; which I am sure there are. Being someone who has favorite places for chowder in the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz, I think I know some good chowder. You have got to try Pike Place Market Chowder. It will not disappoint you, I guess unless you’re a super bougie food snob. I think even a someone with a snobby taste palate would not be able to resist this chowder.

Of course you can’t go wrong with the classic New England Clam Chowder. It boasts bacon and it is super delicious! Still I recommend trying the flight of 4 chowders, your choice on which ones you choose from the menu (there are 7 different ones to choose from). They also ship chowder back home in case this is something you may be interested in. They’ve got it covered when it comes to making sure you try their world famous chowder, so order the chowder flight/tasting!

Musicians playing music in front of Pike Place Market!

There was Just a sprinkling of tourists such as ourselves and the rest really gave off the local vibes. Speaking to this, the people in Seattle are very nice and friendly from what I experienced. It was so open and free because of how relaxed and uncrowded it was. It felt a lot less touristy. It made feel like a local because of how light we packed and without all the crazy stressful packing that a typical tourist would probably do. I think we were the cool kids that day!

Next, we caught our visit to the Space Needle. The Space needle is 605 feet tall. It was built in 1962 for the World’s Faire Expo. The grounds where the Space Needle is located, is where the World’s Faire Expos were formerly held, since the early 20th century.

View from the Space Needle observation deck around 2;30 in the afternoon.

…a beautiful coastal metropolis…

If you enjoy those famous bustling foggy coastal cities with vibrant culture (2nd best to SF in terms of culture), and a culinary scene that’ll make you wanna stay a while, put this on your West Coast bucket list. I’m from Northern California and I love San Francisco naturally, despite the recent observations and opinions. After visiting Seattle twice now, i terms of travel love – I can say all of the SF bay area has 1/3 of my heart, Kauai, Hawaii has another 1/3 of my <3, and now Seattle has the last 1/3 of my heart!

More pictures =)

Beautiful art museums now stand on the original site where the World Expo was held in the early to mid 19th century.
Grabbing a latte from the mother of all Starbucks. This is the first Starbucks coffee house that ever! A Seattle must, especially on your 1st of 2nd visit. Starbucks <3!

The Pink Door

The culinary fare is …”built around the Italian classics: simple, fresh and seasonal.” – Jackie Roberts, owner.

What I love about The Pink Door, besides the insanely delicious Italian food is the “old-world” retro ambiance and combined with modern presentation!

The Pink Door – Fresh pappardelle pasta tossed with rabbit bolognese (bottom), meatballs (top, left), shaved sautéed brussell sprouts (top, right), Irish Coffee and a Mezcal cocktail (middle)
Chocolate Hazelnut mousse torte.

At about 7:00 pm we headed back to Seattle airport. We landed back home in San Jose, CA a little after 10:00 pm. Little did we know how much life would soon change… So I am thankful for this last travel, for now. <3

God bless the city Seattle, the people who live there, and all people everywhere as we overcome these challenging times.

Be well and stay healthy! Looking forward to visiting again after our cities have healed.

Air-Fryer Avocado Egg Rolls

I visited The Cheesecake Factory recently with the hopes of having one of my favorite appetizers for lunch. When it came time to order, I asked for the delicious Avocado Egg Rolls. Our server, who was super nice was like, “Oh great choice, those are so delicious, I love those too! I’ll get this order right in for you!” Quentin and I were like, “Yay, these are so good! Yummy!” Our server returned to our table moments later and …duhn duhn duuuuhhn… said, “I’m so sorry but we ran out of these today.” =(

We ended up choosing a different choice from the menu. Not a huge deal of course, but don’t you just cry a little cry inside for a moment, when the place runs out of the menu item that brought you there in the first place??

We had a great lunch and continued on with our Christmas shopping but it was stuck in my mind… “At some point before the new year, I will have me some dang avocado egg rolls!” Hahaha…behold, this recipe!! It is not meant to be a copy-cat recipe to the ones at The Cheesecake Factory, but they came out tasting very close anyway! I chose to pair this with a side of sour cream instead of the sweet cilantro dipping sauce. Maybe at some point I will attempt a sweet cilantro dipping sauce, but for now these are just some easy yummy avocado egg rolls with a side of sour cream with a cilantro garnish. These can be whipped up quickly in one football game quarter. These are perfect for entertaining guests too. For this recipe you will need an air-fryer that is the 1 quart size or larger. This yields about 3-4 full sized egg rolls.

Yes…I know.. in the picture, the rolls look like they can be filled more. I will make these again and use more filling so they are filled to the top! I think that would make it both taste even yummier and look better too.

NOTE: If you do not own an air-fryer, not to worry. You can deep fry them as you would with the traditional method of frying egg rolls, skipping steps 5, 6, and 7. I personally like using the air-fryer though, because it saves oil, the health benefits of cooking with less oil, and they cook quicker.

I recommend to cut them in halves after these are done cooking so you get 6-8 pieces, especially if you want enough to go around for a group. But you can also serve them whole and get full pretty fast. Prep time: 10-15 minutes. Cook time 6-8 minutes. Total time: 16-23 minutes. Enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 egg roll wraps
  • small amount of water in a small dish
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • jalepeño-garlic infused olive oil (any cooking oil will be fine)
  • sour cream (amount as desired for garnish/dipping) Any sour cream works. I like using Daisy brand. I bet the mexican-style sour cream would be heavenly!!
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, as garnish/presentation

Instructions

  1. In a small-medium sized bowl, mash your avocados with a fork or potato smasher until they are just coarsely mashed. You will want to leave it chunky. Do not make it very smooth. Slightly mashed chunks are better for this so coarsely mashed is best.
  2. Add the salt, lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced onion, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Gently fold in the ingredients, enough so the ingredients are mixed together well (but not wildly like you’re beating eggs, otherwise the consistency will be too smooth and will taste like hot guacamole…no bueno, haha.) The avocado should stay chunky.
  3. Lay an egg roll wrap flat onto a flat surface with a corner pointing toward you. Dip your clean finger or small basting brush into the dish of water and moisten the edges with water (This works to seal the edges to prevent filling from escaping).
  4. Spread 3 maybe 4 tablespoons of filling into the wrap, horizontally. Fold the short edges over the filling, pressing edges to make a seal. Then roll it up, away from you and seal the top edges of the wrap.
  5. Repeat this with the remaining wraps.
  6. Preheat the air-fryer to 390F.
  7. Brush on your favorite cooking oil. I love to use an infused oil such as Calivirgin Jalapeño-Garlic Olive Oil, but you can use any kind. My other favorites are olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. I bet peanut oil or sesame oil would add some nice flavor too. Be creative! Make it your own!
  8. Place the egg rolls so they lay horizontally/flat into the air-fryer basket and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning once halfway through the cook time. (Check them at 6 or 7 minutes, as air fryer temps can slightly vary and the filling can burst through the side, if overcooked.)
  9. Remove egg rolls from the air-fryer and onto a cutting surface.
  10. Cut in halves. A pizza cutter works great but any knife of course is just fine.
  11. Serve with a side of sour cream.
  12. Optional: Garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Delicious 5-carb chocolate chip cookies!

Chewy, melty, and perfect with milk, coffee or by itself! These chocolate chip cookies are just over 5 carbs per 1 cookie (5.3 net carbs, 120 kcal, and 9 grams of fat). These are vegan too (for my plant based babes)!

It’s the holidays! Family, fun, and indulgence is in full swing. John Legend’s Christmas album is playing and I’m eating, drinking, and being merry! This is great and all but while many of us are praying for peace in the world or maybe some Apple earbuds, a whole lot of us are also praying we don’t pack on an extra layer. The gym rats will say something like, “Oh my gosh, don’t worry about that. Moderation blah blah blah… just enjoy the holidays and eat to your hearts content.” Ummm sure…pffft. Ha!

We shouldn’t be consumed in overthinking our food choices, especially now during a time of year when gratitude and having peace within is highlighted. Still, many of us for various health goals and diet needs want to partake in some sweet foodie indulgence without feeling derailed from our those goals. So I wanted a cookie that I could share with Carol in break room, bring to a Friendsgiving, or maybe just to Netflix at home and convince my husband that my keto cookie hack is the real deal! Boom! These cookies are hubby approved in my house so this is the cookie that makes the cut. Oh and here goes the annoying but reassuring sentence for my allergic to everything health nuts:

“These cookies are damn delicious, hubby approved, kid approved, keto, paleo, low-carb, vegan, gluten-free, diabetic friendly and all the rest of that “mas putó” stuff us foodies laugh and mock about.”

NOTE: This recipe uses almond flour so take this into consideration if you have any nut allergies or those you serve these to.

So Yummy!!

Ingredients (yields 16 cookies)

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup keto chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp keto maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce (“unsweetened” or “no sugar added”)
  • 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract (I prefer almond but any flavor you want to try is good also)
I found all of my ingredients at Sprouts Farmers Markets. We have many in the SF Bay Area. If you can’t find a Sprouts, try a WholeFoods or likely even at your local grocer. These days, most if not all of these ingredients are standard items grocers will carry. If you are having trouble finding the Keto Maple Syrup or Keto Chocolate Chips, Thrive Market (online) is a sure thing.

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 175C/350F.
  2. Line a baking pan with wax or parchment paper.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium to large mixing bowl. Making sure to mix well because sometimes the coconut flour will clump just a little bit.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix all the wet/liquid ingredients. Mix well with a whisk or fork.
  5. Pour the wet mix into the bowl of dry mix and mix until a dough forms.
  6. Scoop 12-16 cookie dough balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the tops of the dough/balls a little tiny bit.
  7. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until edges are a nice golden baked. Time will vary depending on your oven so I would start checking them at 13 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven. Lift them carefully while still on the parchment paper and onto to a cooling rack or counter top to cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Eat, enjoy, let go of any guilt and self loathing! =)

See helpful photos of the instruction steps below!

Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 6
Helpful tip: The dough was a little sticky to I used a butter knife the slide the portion sized ball of dough I preferred onto the baking pan.
Step 7

1 day in Cancun, 3 days in Isla Mujeres, Mexico Caribé

Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres

This past April, I traveled to the island gem of Isla Mujeres. To get to the Island, you will take a ferry from Cancun. Its 13 miles away from the mainland (Cancun). This is great because you can experience both places. I had originally planned for a stay in Playa del Carmen but I had to change our location almost last minute due to the unprecedented sargassum blooms affecting most of the Caribbean. I began googling which places were not affected by these swaths of seaweed. After all if you are going to spend hard earned money on a dreamy beach vacation, you want to plan and research to make sure you will get what you pay and worked so hard for, right? Behold, the beautiful Island of Isla Mujeres. No sargassum seaweed. Clear jewel toned water, white sands, and relaxation.

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres
Captured sunset on Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

I once saw a show segment on the travel channel about this island. Visions of Isla Mujeres soon returned to my mind. The pictures from the Travel channel and Google would soon be reality when our April trip came around. The people, the food, the coffee and the clear waters are something out of a dream. Rent a golf cart as your island vehicle and explore the island from Playa Norté to Punta Sur! You are sure to find fun, happiness, wellbeing, oh and some gooooood tequila! On the island there are beautiful Mexican people and culture, happy world travelers from all over tasting fine tequilas, piña coladas, Mexican beer and the yummy street foods! Word of advice: For authentic dishes and flavor, I recommend to observe and ask around to the locals about where to eat. This will help to ensure an authentic flavor experience.

Many places here cater to tourist taste palates and sometimes authenticity is sacrificed by the eateries that want to accommodate to the tourist taste palate here, in my opinion. The best food I had on this trip was actually in beautiful Cancun. We had tacos Al Pastor and good Mexican beer. The Al Pastor meat with the fresh pineapple slice, salsas, and fresh tortillas were delicious. We also had some fish tacos at an Acapulco style place. The freshness and flavor there was perfection. The cheese used in the food here is on another level too! Similar to Oaxacan style but from a golden cow or something. Amazing and melty!

Cancun is both Urban and Island vibes. You can easily find yourself in the “hood”. Not going to sugar coat that. We stayed in Cancun just for when we arrived late at night from our late arriving flight. We stayed overnight and half a day and actually felt very safe but we did hear some stories on the news that kept us on our toes street wise. We just exercised our regular good common sense we use when we travel to our own cities here in the states. No big difference and of course be kind and respectful as a guest in a new place.

Our stay in Cancun was short because we wanted to get to our beautiful place in Isla. While in Cancun, we made sure to visit El Meco Mayan Archeological ruins – Amazing and not overrun with tourists. This is great if you really want to feel the energy here and take great photos without a bunch of people photobombing. It is a short taxi ride from anywhere you are in Cancun. It’s absolutely beautiful and you will see many iguanas bobbing their heads as if dancing to some rhythm only they can hear. Haha, it is actually their way of warning you “Hey man, this is my home!” The males are territorial so they do this a lot but it cool to see. I keep a respectful distance. It is their home, afterall. Ok enough words, here are some pictures!

Ultramar Ferry Terminal, Puerto Juarez, Cancun.
It costs about $26 USD (about 550 pesos) per person for a round trip ticket we would use again on the day we retuned to go head home. Highly recommend!

We stayed at the all inclusive Privilige Aluxes Resort at Playa Norté beach. I highly recommend to stay here! Resort grounds, services, amenities, staff, service, rooms, food was excellent. You mere feet from the beach! Coffee on your balcony overlooking paradise. All inclusive is offered, however we chose all inclusive “breakfast only” because we wanted to explore the food in town for lunches and dinners. It worked out perfect and slightly less expensive this way. We don’t like to stay in one place for all meals. We like to explore!

Privilege Aluxes also boasts it own private beach lounging area on Playa Norte. You can take advantage of the private beach lounges and drink service, head over to those clear waters. Your room, to the lounges, to dreamy turquoise waves all just steps in between each other.

Playa Norté is clear, bright blue water, soft white sands, caribé music, beachgoers dancing and sipping tropical drinks, people in love, friends living it up, and families too. There were lots of families which I appreciated. Although we went at the height of spring break season, it was much more calmer than Cancun’s college Spring Break vibes. Cancun is for the party. Isla Mujeres is so much more chill but still carefree and can easily turn into a fiesta! We had a little taste of Cancun before we arrived in Isla. Isla was just what I was looking for but Cancun needs to have a trip of its own. For sure on my list to go back for!

Punta Sur – The southern tip of the island

Here it is very rocky but rivals the northern point justly with its vibrant green mossy steep rock cliffs and sandy bluffs. This landscape against the jewel blue waters makes you want to jump in, but I advise not unless you are on a boat with an experienced snorkel or dive team. The tides are rough and sharp rocks. There was one group of fishermen who dare to walk out into the water pools. They were wearing hard hats and thick rubber boots and even then I thought they were crazy brave. I have healthy respect for the ocean’s force and temperament. Lucky for us tourists, there is walking trail that winds around the cliffs of Punta Sur. This was my favorite part of the trip!

The Tortugranja! (Turtle Farm)

One of the places that was a must for us was the turtle farm and sanctuary. This place is a safe haven for endangered sea-turtles and different types of land dwelling turtles!

The way to see the island is by golf cart. There are several cart rentals on the island. We got our golf cart rental for 24 hours and it ran us about 1100 pesos (61 USD). It included a full tank of gas. The tank allowed us to travel around the entire island twice! There is no Uber or Lyft on the island so if you want to see it all, do this! You will not be disappointed.

Random cool pictures on our island adventures!

A Volkswagen bus transformed into a taco truck! #eatlikelocals
The night sky illuminated by the full moon. So pretty!

After a night of good drinking and music at Lola Valentina, an adventurous search for coffee! We found it at ‘Cafecito’

Cool mural across the street from Cafecito

We found this bar and grill ‘The Joint’, nestled among the trees and stands for fresh coconut water near Punta Sur. Here we found live music, sangria, and good eats!

Our 16 hours in Cancun and 3 days in Isla Mujeres was the perfect getaway and I wish I could relive it! There is so much to do on the island. I plan to visit again and spend more time in Cancun too. This is a great place for families but a perfect getaway couples. I could even imagine a chill girls trip here would be so much fun. Well, I could post more but then it would be a spoiler and too long of a post. SO, I encourage everyone who loves some chill slow-paced dreamy island vibes to visit this beautiful paradise!

Love,

Marissa aka Sunny-soul!

Exploring New Mexico!

In September 2018 and May 2019 I traveled to a land of enchantment, family, and rich history. New Mexico! I had the best time visiting with beautiful family and seeing this enchanted land. Everyone is very kind and there is so much culture and art here. I visited some very cool places such as Albuquerque, Santa Rosa, Santa Fe, and Chimayo. New Mexico is also known for its amazing green chile and red chile. The culture is rich with its history that is rooted Native American and Spanish culture. There are so many places to visit and things to do. In October they have the annual Balloon fiesta. I could list them all but then this post would get way too long. Here are a just a few of my favorite pictures from New Mexico.

To eat, I recommend Cocina Azul , located in downtown Albuquerque to satisfy your enchilada and sopapilla craving! You will not be disappointed with the food.

Catedral Chimayo, Chimayo, NM.
Known for the miraculous healing chamber of blessed soil that people travel all over the world to experience. There is an interesting story behind the construction of this catedral. The artwork is original from the Spanish missionaries.
The morning view from my great aunt’s home (a palace), over look another beautiful adobe style palace, in Albuquerque.
Downtown Albuquerque!
The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM.
A world famous place to professional divers. It is very deep and very blue. A beautiful desert oasis!
I dedicate this post to my grandmother Mary Velasquez-Valverde. I was blessed to be able to travel with her to New Mexico in September of 2018. She was called home to the Lord in early April 2019 and was laid to rest in her hometown of Santa Rosa, NM in May 2019. I love and miss you grandma Mary!

Revere Coffee & Tea – downtown Redwood City, Ca. – Absolutely love this place!

In August, I visited Revere Coffee & Tea located between Jefferson Ave. and Main St. in downtown Redwood, City California. It was about midday when you need that “pick-me-up” to take you through that last half of the work day. I walked in and was greeted by the friendly baristas Mary and Ally. They were so nice and hip to my favorite hot drinks.

Stop in to Revere Coffee & Tea!

At their recommendation I order a  Matcha Green Tea Latte and a Coconut Latte. Both drinks were amazingly good. I love coffee and tea houses that spend time on the presentation. My drinks had cute designs in the foam too. They were so pretty I almost didn’t want to drink them because of how cute they were!

The Matcha Green Tea Latte. A must-try when you visit Revere Coffee & Tea!

The Matcha Green Tea Latte is a zen experience in a cup. I watched as Ally meticulously whisked the matcha using the real traditional Japanese  matcha whisk with coconut milk (coconut milk request was a custom request). The foam was so perfect. There was a nice amount of foam and it was thick and creamy but it did not take up the entire drink, which I appreciated very much. It was flavorful without so much sugar. Sometimes at more large chain cafes, the green tea lattes have too much sugar syrup. This is not the case at Revere Coffee & Tea. It had just the right amount of slightly sweet and right when you expect to be overtaken with sweetness overkill, it graduates into creamy matcha bliss!

The Coconut Latte at Revere Coffee & Tea

Next, I tried the Coconut Latte that Ally highly suggested and I am so glad I did! This is also a hot drink made of two espresso shots, creme de coco, and coconut milk. It was delicious to the last sip and definitely gave me the midday pick-me up I had set out to find. The coconut taste was very present but not overwhelmingly sweet, but just sweet and flavorful enough to keep you sipping!

While sipping these yummy drinks, I decided to have a look at their menu. I’m a big foodie so although I came in for a caffeine fix, I then got the craving for a snack to take back to the office. I decided to try the Levie Toast. The Levie Toast pictured below is made of slices of pancetta and lemon glazed cucumber slices, atop two halves of sourdough toast. The salt of the pancetta is nicely balanced with the cool and crunchy thin cucumber slice;. And who doesn’t love sourdough?! You can imagine how good this is on a hot summer afternoon. This was a great snack that wasn’t too heavy. It was a perfect mid work day snack. Revere Coffee & Tea also offers an Avocado Toast on the menu. I look forward to trying this soon!

The Levie Toast  – Thins slices of pancetta and lemon glazed cucumber slices laying atop two sourdough bread slices. Great summer time eating! Perfect to enjoy on to go!

I want to say thank you to Mary and Ally! Both ladies who are super sweet and love what they do at Revere Coffee & Tea! The owner’s name is Lily. I hope to meet here on my next visit and tell her what a wonderful and cute cafe she has and a gem in downtown Redwood City, Ca. More pictures shown below.