Travel Diaries: Tampa and New York

I was lucky enough to travel for work last month and I really enjoyed myself, even though I wasn’t able to explore as much as I would have liked to since I was working most of the day. 

The thing I loved the most about my visit to Tampa was that I was able to eat delicious food the entire time.

First place we went out to was a little BBQ place called Hungry Harry’s. I love finding little hidden gems and they’re BBQ sauce was amazing. I enjoyed the chicken, greens, and mac & cheese.

I also ordered a vanilla peanut butter pie and it was like eating a little slice of heaven. 

We also went to Ybor City to eat at Columbia Restaurant, the “gem of Spanish restaurants” and Florida’s oldest restaurant. 

I tried the signature salad there, the 1905 salad, which includes ham, cheese, and a garlic dressing. I also had the Pollo Manchego, which was breaded chicken breast with sundried tomatoes and cheese and of course we tried the sangria. I really enjoyed the food there and also loved the artwork outside of the restaurant.

The next week I was able to visit New York. We stayed in a hotel near Times Square, which was great because we were able to were able to walk around and explore the city with ease. As soon as we got settled into our hotel we walked down to Times Square to take touristy pictures.

We were also able to meet up with a friend and explore Chinatown and Little Italy and I caught up with a friend at an Italian restaurant. I also ran into the Naked Cowboy!

Our last night there we met up with friends at a club in Harlem and had a great time. I really liked New York (it was my first time), especially since it was so easy to get around the city at any time (I ride public transportation in the Bay Area and sadly you can’t go anywhere late at night). Only downside of our visit was that the weather was gloomy…but humid. 

Can’t wait to get out and travel/explore more.

Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

I love baking. I think that’s mostly because I have the biggest sweet tooth so making delicious baked goods just makes my heart and stomach happy. I recently found myself with some blueberries and decided to try out a blueberry oatmeal cookie recipe. I adapted a oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe and just swapped the chocolate chips for blueberries and came up with this yummy treat!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 36 minutes

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions

1. Beat butter or margarine, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2. Add flour and salt, mix well.
3. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water and add to mixture. Stir in rolled oats and blueberries.
4. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. 
5. Allow cookies to cool then enjoy these delightful treats! Makes 3 dozen (I was greedy and made larger cookie portions so I had less than 3 dozen)

Check out the original recipe that I modified here

Tuna with Hummus and Avocado

One of my go to lunches lately has been tuna with hummus and avocado. This recipe is so simple, quick to make, healthy, and really cheap. All you have to do is pair it with pita chips or crackers and you’re good to go. 

Prep time: 5 minutes

What you will need

  • One can of tuna
  • 2-3 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1/2 avocado
  • salt and pepper to taste (if desired)

Instructions:

1. Mix tuna and hummus in a bowl. Add in avocado and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

So easy to make and it’s pretty filling. I usually buy 2-4 cans of tuna and just make this for lunch throughout the week. 

Date Night: Brunch, Mimosas, and Latin Flavor

Memorial Day Weekend was a couple of weeks ago and I really needed that 3-day break from work. I also got to spend Sunday Funday with the boo. We started the day with friends, brunch, and Bottomless Mimosas at S2P Communal Bar + Restaurant in San Jose. It was great because there was a live band and DJ so the vibe was great. And the staff there knew we were trying to make the most of the Bottomless Mimosas service so they were on top of it. The live music/band is supposed to be part of a weekly event they’re hosting through August so it’s definitely worth checking out. 

I was also really excited because I was having a great hair day, was able to wear a cute jean dress I found on my first ever thrift shopping trip, and loved my spring inspired makeup look (peep the pop of blue under the eye and bright pink lips)

Later that night the boo and I had date night at Pisco Latin Lounge. We’ve been subscribed to a monthly dating service called HowAboutWe where we pay $18/month and have access to deals on different dates and can sign up for a free date every month. This month’s date included customized Pisco infused cocktails. Our bartender included hints of vanilla in our drinks. We were also pretty hungry so we tried the fish tacos there and they were AMAZING! We each ended up ordering three. 

I also really liked the vibe of the lounge area and they had Latin music playing all night.

Overall it was a great weekend!

* If you’re interested in subscribing to HowAboutWe, you can get $50 off your first date using this code: http://couples.howaboutwe.com/refer/328810 

Want to Look and Feel Better? Drink More Water

I’ve been trying to increase my water intake and make sure I drink more water consistently because of all of the amazing benefits associated with it. I have a lot of goals around health, skin, and hair and drinking water is a great way for me to reach my goals.

  1. Drinking more water can be used as a weight loss strategy. I’m trying to lose weight and drinking water can help you feel full longer so you don’t eat as much,
  2. Drinking more water helps improve the look of your skin. I’m trying to have that Beyonce #flawless skin and this a great way to help get me there. 
  3. Drinking more water can help with enhancing hair growth. Growing long, healthy hair starts with taking care of your body from the inside out so drinking more water is the way to go!

I’ve recently discovered a phone app that helps me monitor my drinking habits and ensure that I drink the suggested amount of water everyday: Daily Water (I have an Android phone by the way). I have been using this app for about a month and I’m loving it. My water intake has increased dramatically and I have been really consistent with drinking about 2 liters of water everyday (Disclaimer: I’m only consistent during the work week but on the weekends I’m terrible with keeping up with this).

The app allows you to set your weight, the time you wake up, the time you go to sleep, and the size of the cup/bottle/mug/etc. you’ll be drinking out of. The app then sends you reminders throughout the day to drink water so you can make sure you hit you daily water intake goal. The app lets you choose different sizes of water containers, tracks your drinking history over a month period, and grades your drinking habits. 

One tip that I have is that using a larger water bottle makes drinking more water throughout the day. I have a 1-liter water bottle and knowing that I only have to fill it up and drink it twice a day makes the task a lot easier. Also, having the bottle within arms reach and visible means is a visual reminder to take sips throughout the day.

I’m already starting to see the benefits of drinking more water everyday and I love that it’s leading to more healthier me!

Sources: WebMD; WikiHow

Turkey Sausage and Black Bean Soup

Lately, there have been four things I look for when cooking for myself during the week: Is it quick? Is it easy? Is it healthy? Will it last me several days?

After a full day of work, the last thing I want to be doing is standing over the stove for hours so I try and look for recipes that I can make pretty quickly and also easily because I’m a bit of a klutz. 

I’ve been trying to eat a lot more healthy. I’m not a diet person because I LOVE food but that doesn’t mean I can’t make smart choices when it comes to food. I know the saying that losing weight is 90% what you eat and 10% exercise so I’ve been trying to little things here and there nutrition-wise to help me on my health/fitness journey.

When making meals I also want to make sure the food will last me several days because 1) I don’t want to have to cook something new every day 2) I spend less money on food when I’m able to make a pot of soup or something that will last me several days.

I found a recipe that I am LOVING and has started to become my go-to weeknight meal. It fits all of these criteria, it’s super delicious, and apparently it’s under 200 calories (without the cheese and avocado toppings). 

Check out the recipe below. I doubled the original recipe so that I could have enough to last me the week but feel free to cut the ingredients in half or check out the original recipe here: http://sportyafros.com/nutrition/turkey-sausage-and-black-bean-soup-recipe/ 

Prep Time: 10 minutes (includes dicing bell peppers,slicing sausage, opening cans, and draining/rinsing black beans. Keep in mind, I’m the slowest food chopper ever so your prep time might be shorter)

Cook Time: 20 minutes

What will you need:

  • 2 Green Bell Peppers, Diced
  • 1 Package of Turkey Kielbasa Sausage, Sliced
  • 2 Cans of Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cans of Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed
  • Small Jar of Salsa 

Instructions:

1. Spray a medium-sized pot with non-stick cooking spray and add the turkey sausage to the pot to brown. Then add the diced green bell peppers to the pot with the sausage to brown a little bit.

2. Add your chicken broth and bring the pot to a simmer. 

3. Next, add your drained/rinsed black beans to the pot. Last, add 1/2 cup of salsa (I like a little more kick so I add about 2/3 cup).

4. Stir the pot a few times. Cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Serve!

5. Optional step: Pour the soup into your bowls and top it off with shredded cheese and avocado! Delicious!

Designer Spotlight: Ivy Kirzhner

I’ve downloaded, and quickly become addicted to, this iPad game called Covet Fashion. It allows you to express your inner stylist as you enter fashion competitions with real designer clothes. It also allows you to vote on fashion looks and gives you the opportunity to win real life prizes. One of the other things I really like about this game is that it has introduced me to some designer brands that I’ve fallen in love with. Now, I’m not in that stage in my life where I’m ballin’ enough to spend my money on designer clothes, but this game allows me to pretend and play dress up for now (until I’m able to get established in my career and buy clothes like that for real). One of the designers that I’ve fallen in love with is Ivy Kirzhner.

Read More