Things To Do on A Weekend Trip To Temecula

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Temecula, a beautiful valley nestled in Riverside County, and a place I’ve been fortunate to call home for the past 26 years. When I first left for college in 2011, Temecula was very unknown. When asked where I was from, people would respond to my answer with a sense of confusion. I would reply, it’s between San Diego and Los Angeles. Fast-forward to today and you will find many people now know where Temecula is, and might have even visited.

Temecula is home to over 40 wineries with stunning views, this is what draws many tourists in. Not only does Temecula have wineries, but there are also breweries, speakeasies, and even an Old Town that has an effervescent scene day and night, basically a lot of opportunities to get drunk. Temecula is the perfect location for your next girls trip or couples get away. Recently, there has also been a surge in the presence of bachelorette parties in town. One of my favorite parts about living in Temecula, is the endless opportunities of food selection, I will include my favorite restaurants in this blog post as well.  I’m going to break this article down on three areas to visit in town that are popular. Look out for a later blog post on my favorite wineries in town.

 

Wine Country

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The possibilities are endless in Wine Country, with over 40 wineries to choose from. Each winery has something different, whether it’s the views, wine, food, or decor, you will find something unique in every location.

If you go wine tasting, I highly recommend, ubering around town. If it is a group of you, look into booking a limo/transportation service. For group transportation I recommend Vineyard Coast Transportation, contact Hugo at (951)-303-4923. Having transportation figured out is key, to allow yourself to have a great time worry free.

There are a couple wineries that offer brunch, I suggest starting there to ensure a smooth day of day drinking. My favorite winery that has a brunch is Miramonte Winery. Two other ones to note are Leoness Cellars and Lorimar Winery.

The wineries typically close around 5-6 pm so plan to come early. There are a couple that are open later and many of them have live music to enjoy. Check out the winery’s calendars as well to see if there are any special events while you are in town, such as Salsa dancing or cover bands.

Here is a link to a comprehensive website, which lists all the wineries in alphabetical order and gives you their hours and costs on tastings.

https://www.temeculawines.org/taste/winery-listing.php

 

Old Town Temecula

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Old Town Temecula has grown and changed so much. When I was a kid, I remember it being a small strip with country style buildings. Some of those buildings are still up today which give it its old town flair. However, there has been so much new added to Temecula that has made it vibrant and exciting. From the countless restaurants to unique bars, there is something for everyone. I’m going to list some of my favorites and go-to’s.

Food & Drink

1909

1909 has an eclectic menu and is best known for their weekend brunch. They are also known for having exquisite bloody marys. The restaurant is spacious and has indoor and outdoor setting, they also have a ton of beers on tap. If it is your first time visiting Temecula, I would pick this as a food stop.

The Goat & Vine

This is currently the highest rated restaurant in Old Town Temecula. I have never been, and don’t know why but it will be high on my list for our next date night out.

Espadin

Espadin is more new to Old Town Temecula, but it has made its presence known. It has some of the best Mexican food for a nice sit down and has festive cocktails. They also have Mezcal in house.

Devilicious

It originated as a food-truck and now has its own restaurant location. They have an array of crafted foods with bold flavors. Their taproom is also impressive and they often have live music or events throughout the week.

 

Nightlife

The nightlife in Old Town Temecula is lax, but can get pretty turnt depending on who you’re with. Most of the bigger places do charge a cash cover so be prepared.

Blackbirds’ Tavern

This is our go to for going out when we want chill vibes. I say chill vibes because the whole outdoor area feels like a backyard kickback there are several fire pits you can sit around and talk. There is also corn hole and benches to sit at. Ideally this place is best to socialize and grab a drink. But then again there is also a D.J spinning in an interior part of blackbirds. They play hip hop and top 40 so it definitely gets fun!

Bailey’s

Baileys is much bigger than Blackbirds. They have two levels of dancing, the bottom floor is hip hop and top 40 while the top floor is Latin, you’ll hear anything from cumbia, to bachata, etc. There is also a huge outdoor patio area to socialize and grab drinks.

Pub & Grub

I haven’t been to pub & grub in years, it used to always be our go-to. I have some friends who prefer going here over any others but I haven’t found myself wanting to go back.

Here are other locations worth noting and visiting. The great thing is that Old Town Temecula is all on one strip so it is super easy to walk from location to location. Check out; Lukes on Front, Temecula Beer & Wine Garden, Public House, and The Bank. If you like country music Stampede is a good option however it is 18 and up so be warned.

 

Speakeasies

There are two in Temecula. One is called Thompson and Twain and it is located inside Crush and Brew. Show up and put your name down and they will text you when your spot is available.

The other speakeasy is located inside Devilicious and it is called Apparition Room. You can reserve a spot for up to 8 by texting (951)514-6332.

Both speakeasies have amazing cocktails and are an immersive experience into the prohibition era.

 

 

Pechanga Casino & Resort

One of the biggest reasons why people became familiar with Temecula, was because of the casino. My dad worked there as a security guard when I was a kid, and since then I have seen the casino double in size. They are constantly expanding it, they just recently unveiled their new pool resort. If you are not a guest of the casino, you can purchase day passes for their pool resort. You can also rent cabanas and make a whole day of it.

Pechanga offers a lot more than gambling, if thats not your thing. There is a spa, comedy club, and a ton of restaurants to choose from. The restaurants range from a fancy steakhouse, buffet, food court, and everything in between. The nightlife in Pechanga is also plentiful, from the round bar to the Eagle’s Nest Club, you can spend a good amount of time exploring the casino.

 

Those are the big three attractions in Temecula, the wineries, old town Temecula, and Pechanga casino. Growing up, I always said there was nothing to do in Temecula, as an adult there is plenty to do. We love having out of town friends visit us and show them around our beautiful valley.

As a Local, I’m going to list some of my favorite restaurants if you want other options outside of the three locations mentioned.

 

Food Recommendations

Mexican Food- Aztek Tacos, hands down. Before I ever worked there, this was the only place I ever ate Mexican food at, because lets face it nothing compares to mom’s.

Sushi- Firefish Sushi, 100% the best sushi. Ed and I have tried sushi in so many cities and at the end of the day we always end up comparing it to firefish.

Burgers- Burgers & Beer, duh!!!! If I could be sponsored by a restaurant it would be Burgers and beer. I love this place! It has a huge menu aside from their specialty burgers, and also has happy hour every day from 3pm-close. This is also the best place to watch sports, there is TVs everywhere!!!

American- Bushfire Grill. This place screams quality. Everything in here is delicious and fresh. There is so much to chose from, the food is on display too, so you can see some of what you are going to get before ordering.

Chinese- Chef K. I had given up on Chinese food in Temecula because the quality was so bad. We tried Chef K and all hope is restored. I’m craving their honey walnut shrimp now lol.

 

 

There is a lot more to do in Temecula that I didn’t mention, such as the Promenade Mall, Vail Headquarters, and Farmers Markets. I urge you all to visit because it took me leaving for four years to truly appreciate the beauty of my hometown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 days of Vegetarian Eating (With Meal Ideas)

I remember many years ago I asked my husband what he would do if he came home and we were having only salad for dinner. The conversation went something along the lines of him mimicking Salad and then proclaiming how much he loves meat. Well fast forward to a few years later and here we are at Trader Joe’s gearing up for a week of plant based/vegetarian eating. I say vegetarian because we did have products that contained dairy such as yogurt, whey protein, and tomato basil soup.

I’ve watched several Vegan documentaries and I have gained a deep interest in finding alternative ways of eating. Today there are so many substitutes on the market, that make eating meatless a breeze. I found so many of these substitutes to be more appetizing than their regular meat friends. Doing this challenge with my husband was fun, it got us excited to try new recipes.

I will admit, eating meatless did take a lot more preparation and planning. The only reason it was more difficult, was because it was a new routine for us. We have mastered our standard meal prep, but trying something new gave us both a desire to learn new ways of eating.

One thing I did wonder was if my workouts would have been compromised due to not eating animal protein. In order to combat this, I made sure to eat sufficiently, and take in a lot of nutrients through vegetables and nuts.

We really enjoyed eating this way and we both said there were certain meat substitution products we would make key purchases. Ideally I would like to move towards a pescatarian diet in the future. I will continue to explore other plant based/ meat substitution products. Do you think you could challenge yourself to not eat meat for a week? If you are already a meatless eater, what are some of your favorite meals?

If you would like to see some meal ideas and tips to get inspired, keep reading!

Lunch #1

I didn’t take a picture of my lunch, but it was delicious, quick, and easy. We bought the Italian meat-less sausages and prepped them the night before. As a side, we had steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes on the side.

Dinner #1

Tomato Basil Soup from Costco (contains dairy), I cooked lentils and added them into the soup for extra protein. We also roasted broccolini in the oven with balsamic as a side, and a piece of whole grain toast to dip into our soup.

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Lunch #2

I made fajita bowls without meat! Cut up bell peppers and onion and put it to sauté with chipotle sauce. I purchased canned black beans and Israeli couscous to add to the fajitas. It was my first time trying Israeli couscous and it was delicious, I can’t wait to use it again. Like I mentioned, one of the best parts about this week of eating was trying lots of new things!

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Dinner #2

TACO TUEASDAYYYYYYYYY!!!

For dinner we decided to make vegetarian tacos. We used cactus, onion, and soy rizo for the tacos. We added avocado to the tacos and my husband also added vegan cheese to his. It was my first time trying Soy-Rizo and it was amazing, it was not oily at all like regular chorizo and had a great flavor. We also used Mission organic tortillas to put the tacos in.

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Lunch #3

Trader Joes sells this amazing Vegetable and Soba Noodle stir fry kit. We prepped this the night before and we also added Edamame to it to add more protein! The kit comes with veggies and a pack of soba noodles (not pictured), it also has a sauce you stir fry everything with.

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Dinner #3

This dinner was one of the easiest ones. To be honest, everything we typically cook is easy and efficient. We bought the Quinoa Cowboy burger patties from Trader Joes and cooked them in the oven. As a side we did green beans and side salad with raspberry vinaigrette.

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Lunch #4

I made my husband an Avocado/Chickpea/Edamame Toast. The night before I prepped the avocado and put it in a to go container. Luckily Ed has a toaster at work so he was able to toast his bread.

Since I don’t have a toaster at work, I ate at my second job. I asked the kitchen to make me fajitas without meat, so it has cactus, bell peppers, onion, tomato, with a bit of beans and rice, so yummy!

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Dinner #4

This was my favorite meal that we did! We bought the brown rice and yellow lentil spaghetti which is packed with protein and tastes just like regular pasta. We then used an “Autumn Harvest” soup sauce which had tomato and pumpkin and butternut squash. My husband also cut up mushrooms and onion and cooked it into the sauce. The final part was my most favorite, meatless meatballs from Trader Joes. They had such a delicious flavor, I was craving them the next week.

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Avoiding meat and dairy, is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth!!! You don’t have to completely cut certain things from your diet at once if you don’t want to, but you should strive to find alternatives. You never know if these alternatives are better tasting than the original ones. All the meatless substitutes we bought were better tasting than the original products are products we would buy over their originals. I’m looking forward to continue to find new ways of eating to reduce our environmental impact.

 

Must Visit Pumpkin Patches in Southern California

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I know I should have published this blog a lot sooner, since we are halfway through October but better late than never. There are still two weekends left in October which means there is plenty of time to visit a Pumpkin Patch before this season is over. Whether you are going with your boo, friends, family, or kids, these are my favorite Pumpkin Patches in Southern California.

5. Bates Nut Farm (Valley Center)

Address: 15954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 9am-5:30, Weekends 8:30am-6pm

Admission: Free, Parking $5.00

The only reason Bate’s Nut Farm is #5 is because I have never been there. However I have seen many friends go on Instagram, its big, and in a perfect location which is why I had to mention it on this list.  This pumpkin patch also has tractor hayrides, straw maze, and a petting coral.

There are plenty of options on picking a perfect pumpkin to take home and carve or to just decorate your house. There are also wheel barrows to take cute photos with as well. I will make it my goal to visit this pumpkin patch next year and check it out for myself.

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4. Tanaka Farms (Irvine)

Address: 5380 3/4 University Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday 9am-6pm

Admission: $4 per person, Children 2 & younger are free. Parking is free Monday-Friday. Parking passes need to be purchased on the weekends for $10, they sell out so it’s important to reserve them online.

Okay not going to lie, the reason I like this pumpkin patch is because of the Hello Kitty theme. I’m 26 years old and still a sucker for hello kitty decor. This pumpkin patch has become a lot bigger since we have gone in 2016. I would advise to go on the weekends, when they have an array of activities available such as pumpkin blasting, ATV rides, face painting and their own Tanaka Grill serving lunch.

Another thing I love about this Pumpkin Patch, is the U-Pick Vegetable section, you can pick and take home vegetables like Brussels sprouts, squash, zucchini, and more! It is a great opportunity to teach kids about eating vegetables and show them a good relationship with food! There is also a produce market stand, where you can take locally grown produce home, talk about farm to table!

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as you can see these photos are from 2016, my picture taking skills have improved since then so I apologize for the sub-par quality lol.

 

3. Pumpkin Station (Escondido)

Address: 13421 Highland Valley Rd, San Diego, CA 92128

Hours: Monday- Sunday 9am-6pm

Admission: Free!

This is one of my favorite pumpkin patches because it is also an actual farm. Pumpkins are grown in many shapes and sizes. There is a hay ride, which normally includes some valuable information on how pumpkins grow. Now the main reason why I love coming to this pumpkin patch, is because of the beautiful sunflower fields. There are so many rows of sunflowers and you are actually able to walk through them. Not only that, but they also have a U-Pick Sunflower Section, where you can cut down your favorite girasoles (spanish for sunflower) and take them home.

There are a few rows of pumpkins, but this pumpkin patch makes my list because I have always dreamed of frolicking through sunflower fields. There is also a small petting zoo! The best part is its free and you can take as many photos in the field as you want, just be gentle with the flowers and don’t pick any outside of the U-Pick area.

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2. Live Oak Canyon (Redlands)

Address: 32335 Live Oak Canyon Rd, Redlands, CA 92373

Hours: Monday-Thursday 4-9pm, Friday 4-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-9pm

Admission: Pricing ranges based on the day you are visiting. On weekends, adults are $12, Kids 3-10 are 7$ and kids 2 and under are free, during the week it is two dollars cheaper for adults and kids. Parking is also free and plentiful.

This is definitely the best pumpkin patch in Southern California, it’s huge and there is so much to do! From the petting zoo, pumpkin cannons, corn maze, and all the carnival rides, this pumpkin patch has something for every age! One of the best parts of this pumpkin patch is that they sell alcohol and you can walk around with it. Nothing like enjoying a nice IPA while walking around the scenery.

Live Oak  sells individual tickets for each ride/attraction, each ticket is worth a dollar and the cost of the attractions vary. There is also a wristband option sold on certain days which allows you to take advantage of multiple attractions for an affordable price.

What drew me into this pumpkin patch, was the photo ops! Especially the two Pumpkin houses in the patch, they are aesthetic and can give you the perfect photo in seconds. I like coming to this pumpkin patch in the evening to get the best lighting for photos. Another tip, ride the train ride and I would save the train ride for the evening when they turn on the lights at the patch because it looks so dreamy with all the twinkle lights on.

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1. Peltzer Pumpkin Farm

Address: 39925 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92591

Monday-Sunday 9am-8pm: activity times range by day

Admission: $2 admission for everyone, Children 1 year and younger free with paid adult

Pumpkin Patch on a Winery? Do I need to say more? This is Peltzer Pumpkin Farm’s 13th season and every year they add something to it, to make it the magical place it is today. This pumpkin patch is truly for all ages, there is face painting for the kids, pig races, and even wine for the adult. Peltzer offers one of the best wine tasting experiences in Temecula, with your tasting card you also get a bread and wine pairing.

Some of the activities you can take a part of at the Pumpkin Patch are Petting Farm, Gem Mining, Pony Rides, Tractor Garden (free), Train Ride, John Deere Mini Carts, and Carnival Games.

Every weekend in October they hold their October Nights event which showcases various food trucks at their food truck alley, as well as a Blacksmith Bar. Aside from all the activities offered at Peltzer, this pumpkin patch has beautiful twinkle lights, there are a ton of pumpkins to capture the perfect shot of the pumpkin season!

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Austin, Texas Guide: 3 Day Weekend in Austin

If you need to know anything about me when I travel, is that I leave no room to waste. We land and we hit the ground running, we stay out late and wakeup early and we don’t take naps (maybe in the car rides). This guide is perfect for someone who doesn’t have as much time in Austin, but is down for the adventure and wants to cover as much as possible.

Austin has been on my bucket list for many years now. From the sizzling barbeque, to the buzzing nightlife, Austin is a foodie and adventurer’s dream. When my husband found out that he had a day off for Labor Day Weekend, we booked an early birthday trip for me. Flying from Los Angeles, there are many good flight deals and you can even fly roundtrip for $125 based on the time you go and through the help of tracking apps like Hopper and Skyscanner.

Since we only had a limited amount of time in Austin, I composed a very detailed and efficient travel itinerary that would allow us to maximize our time there. I will include the itinerary at the bottom of this page to help any future travelers plan out their trip if necessary.

Hotel: We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. If we were to ever go back to Austin, I would definitely stay there again. The location is prime, located right by Rainey Street, you are instantly connected to the wild adventures Rainey street offers day and night. There are also an array of delicious restaurants and foodtrucks to grab late night drunchies. Aside from the location, the hotel is beautifully decorated, the rooms are stocked with great amenities, and the hotel offers free drinks daily during a happy/socializing hour. The rooftop pool was one of the best highlights from our stay and the hotel also has live music at their restaurant “Geraldine”. Another big bonus from this hotel is that it is pet friendly, you see dogs coming in and out constantly. Oh and I can’t forget the free coffee from their coffee shop during your stay, to fuel your adventures.

Driving Situation: We decided to not rent a car and we are glad we didn’t! The airport is not even that far from the downtown/heart of Austin. Uber and Lyfts were plentiful and fast. You will also find rentable electronic scooters everywhere, another more exciting way to explore the city. With my guide I included distances between locations to see which method of transportation was the most efficient. Ideally, we like to do a lot of walking on trips when we can, to make room for the food haha.

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Day One (Saturday):

Day one started with a 3:30 am wakeup call. You would think we would have gone to bed earlier, but being who we are, we were in bed by 12:30pm lol. Our flight departed from LAX at 7am and landed in Austin at noon. We took an Uber to our hotel where we were greeted with some local beers and were luckily accommodated into our room early.

Our day in Austin began with lunch at Bangers, which is a sausage house and beer garden. Luckily we got there at a good time and our wait was only 30-45 mins, which meant we had time to enjoy the sunshine and some Hazy IPA’s. They have a backyard bar with 207 different beers you could choose from! The food was delicious and definitely one of our favorite meals of the weekend.

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With a nice day buzz going, full belly’s, and happy hearts we began our adventure into Austin. We took an Uber to Zilker Park, where we rented Canoe’s at Zilker Park Boat Rentals Canoe. I chose this rental spot based on reviews and its location on the river. We kayaked through the river and into Lady Bird Lake for some stunning scenery and refreshing rows (except when my paddle broke in half and were were subjected to rowing the canoe with one paddle and a mini broken one lol). We wish we would have brought our bathing suits with us to take a dip in the water because it was pretty hot at this point. Barton Springs Municipal pool was also next door and would have been a nice addition, however the line was pretty long and we had other opportunities to go in water later in the weekend so we did not make it a priority due to the time frame we had.

From Zilker Park we went to our next destination, which is the iconic “Greetings from Austin Mural”. The Texas heat got the best of us, we were getting covered in sweat, but it didn’t stop us from taking a good picture in front of the mural. From the Mural we walked to the Churro Co Foodtruck for a snack, water and some shade to cool down.

 

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From Churro Co Foodtruck, we took an Uber to explore the downtown of Austin most notoriously known as “Dirty Sixth Street”. We went to an arcade bar which was super fun and had a lot of games and white claws available. We then found a sports bar to catch the UT Austin Longhorns game which was going on in the city. If we would have had more time in Austin, this is another activity we would have liked to attend. Football is huge in Texas and the environment at a college game is so hyped. Finally we went back to Rainey street and explored the bars in the evening time before going out at night with a sorority sister who also happened to be in town.

The nightlife in Rainey street is my perfect environment, it’s super chill yet alive, it’s packed, yet there are many options to chose from. The setting for the bars in Rainey st are so unique, they are historic houses turned into bars. You walk in through the front door and there is even an outdoor yard. Each place is so eccentric so I recommend visiting Rainey street multiple times to see as much as you can. We started out at The Container Bar, which is huge and has more of a club feel with the DJ spinning all night. We also visited Unbarlievable which is funky and like nothing you’ve experienced before. More noteworthy bars to visit; The Alibi (has a lot of TV’s for sports and also a white claw pina colada), Half Step (spacious and a variety of speciality cocktails). We ended the night with food from the foodtrucks on Rainey St. We had the best gyro from Big Fat Greek Gyros.

 

Day 2 (Sunday)

Started the day with some free coffee from Cafe 605 conveniently located in our hotel’s lobby. An uber was called and we were off to find some of the most iconic murals in Austin. We began by visiting the Austin Motel which has a picturesque sign. From there we took a quick walk to Jo’s Coffee to take a picture with the famous “I Love You So Much Sign”, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t the most excited for this mural out of any. I had always seen so many pictures on the gram of this location and I thought it would be a sweet visit with my hubby. We then hopped on some Bird Bikes and rode down Congress street to find the next mural. The whole ride up and down Congress street was entertaining, it was colorful and artistic everywhere you looked, it felt like a movie scene. The next mural we visited was by Magnolia Cafe which is the Love from Austin mural.

By now it was lunchtime and we were hungry and in need of some shade from the sun. We headed to LA barbecue for lunch which has extraordinary reviews. My man being the planning genius he is, read online that you can preorder your food online. When we got there it was the best decision we made, the line looked about 2 hours long and went from the inside of the restaurant all the way outside in a zig zag. By the time we were done eating, people that were at the end of the line outside still had not made it into the line inside. If you go to LA Barbecue order online and you pick up at a window in the back, you can then sit outside or inside and enjoy your meal. The food was great but we realized we ordered too much and would not eat the leftovers. We boxed up the remaining food and decided to take it to someone who was homeless and needed a lunch.

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After lunch, we took Bird Bikes to the Texas Capitol and explored the building. We did one of the free walking tours and took in the knowledge of the Texas government. The architecture of the building is grandiose. After walking through the capitol we decided it was time for a drink. We called an Uber to take us to the Wonder Bar, something my husband had found on Instagram. He knows a key to my heart is a place with photo ops and this place is just that plus some uniquely crafted cocktails. The ride was about 22 minutes but well worth the drive. The Wonderbar is interactive and the perfect place to cool down from the Texas heat. Since we were already in that area, we explored the shops around it. Even though we had a busy day, it was only 4pm so we decided to go to Rainey street in the day and catch some live music. We ended up at the Clive and had some Moscow Mules and we saw a local band rock out.

We headed back to our hotel and took advantage of the free happy hour before going to the rooftop pool. The pool was so relaxing and also had a bar up top to keep the buzz going. We stayed at the pool till the sun went down and then we decided it was best to get ready for dinner. Everyone recommended Torchy’s Tacos so we went! Unfortunately they were short staffed that day so they told us thee wait was going to be about an hour for our food. We got chips, salsa, and guac to hold us up, by the time we got our food it didn’t taste too fresh and was average. This was my first and only experience with Tex-Mex so I know I have to go back and give it another shot, but at this moment, I stand with my belief that California has the best Mexican food aside from Mexico.

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Day 3 (Monday):

For our last day in Texas we saved the biggest adventure yet, Tubing in the San Marcos River. This activity has always been on my bucket list, because what is better than floating down the river, catching a tan, with a drink in hand? This activity does take up a good amount of time, so we debated doing it or not, but we are so happy we ended up doing it, because it was the highlight of our trip. We booked our tour through Texas State Tubes and they provided an exceptional time! They picked us up in downtown and took us on an adventure in a school bus. They even stop at a gas station for you to pick up your needs for the day, beer, white claws, chips, and water were the only things we needed for the day. They then provide you with a cooler for you to store your goods, don’t forget to purchase ice at the store for your cooler.  You then are given a floaty and tie yourself to your friends and cooler. It was the perfect way to spend the day, I would love to come back to Austin and do this with a gang of friends.

We got dropped off at our pick up spot and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the hotel/airport. Even though we were pretty toasted at the airport, everything went smoothly and we caught up on the lack of sleep on the plane ride home.

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Adios Austin, you were truly an adult playground for the foodies and drunkies to enjoy, I cannot wait to be back.I hope this blog inspires some of you to check out this gem of a city. There are so many things to see and do, if you only have a three day weekend like us, this blog will be very helpful (and tiring lol). If I were to go back  I would also make a trip to Lake Travis and rent out a boat if I was with a group. We did see a lot of bachelorette groups while we were there and honestly, Austin is a great spot for a bachelorette if you want something different than the typical club experience.

Love From Austin

Jess

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PS; Here is my itinerary, if you would like to screenshot it and save it for your future travels this makes it really easy and i put a lot of work into it, I would love for others to benefit from it too ❤

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How I Travel for Free Multiple Times a Year

Free? Yes, you heard that right. Get Money to Spend Money? Count me in!

If you follow me on Twitter or know me in real life you know I constantly rave about my Capital One Venture Card. I first applied and received my card in February 2016. It was my first year post grad and I was not making that much money but I knew I wanted to find a way to keep traveling. Before I had this credit card I had my typical bank credit card. I had it for over 4 years and was saddened when I realized the rewards I had amounted in those 4 years was virtually nothing. So I began to do my research on which credit card would give me the best benefits and I came across the Capital One Venture Card.

Since I’ve had this card in February 2016, I have cashed out on free flights to these places, 2 roundtrip flights to NYC, Roundtrip flight to Denver, Roundtrip flight to Cancun, Roundtrip flight to Austin and now a future trip to Cabo in April. After two years of having the card I got my husband to jump on the credit card so we can take advantage of getting free flights together.

 

With the holidays around the corner, now is the perfect time to apply for a credit card that rewards you. You will be spending money from now till December, you might as well spend money and make some back for a future spring break or summer trip. I have a link at the bottom that allows me to refer people to sign up for the credit card.

 

There are many great Travel Rewards cards out there but these are the reasons why I think the Capital One Venture Card is the best.

  1. You are not restricted on where you can use your rewards. This is a big one for me especially because I book flights on different airlines. There are a lot of great travel rewards credit cards but many of them will only allow you to use your points/miles on that specific airline. Not only are you able to redeem your points on any airline, but you are also able to use your miles on Hotels, Airbnb bookings, car rentals, and anything deemed “travel”.
  2. You earn rewards miles on E V E R Y T H I N G, not just based on flights purchased, gas, groceries, and restaurants. There is also no cap on how much rewards you can earn, so charge everything on that card! You earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase you make.
  3. MY PERSONAL FAVORITE PERK of this card and why every new member should get it. There is a sweet sign on bonus for new members. If you spend 3,000 in the first 3 months you are given a $500 miles bonus. So pretty much spend $3,000 and earn $500 for a future trip.
  4. No foreign transaction fees. If you are traveling and want to use your card in another country you have the ability to do so without getting charged hefty fees, which definitely do add up over time. Just don’t forget to call their customer service line and notify them about your trip so you are able to use your card!
  5. ANNUAL FEE. Yes there is one. Typically with cards that reward you so greatly, there is an annual fee, but honestly the rewards heavily outweigh the $95 annual fee. But wait, there is a bonus, your first year your annual fee is waived!!!
  6. Other Perks worth mentioning:  TSA Pre Check & Global Entry: Receive a credit of either $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck with your Venture card.             –Travel Accident Insurance: Use your Venture card to purchase your flight, and you’ll automatically get travel accident coverage of up to $250,000 with Visa Signature Benefits. Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver-Rent a vehicle using your Venture Card and refuse the car rental agency’s collision damage coverage. You’ll receive secondary coverage for collision damage and theft on a domestic car rental and primary coverage for international rentals. Lost Luggage– Pay for your ticket with your Venture Card and receive up to $3,000 if your luggage is lost or stolen. 

 

It’s 2019, do yourself a favor and get yourself a credit card worth using. Be the person that sets their card down for the group and take advantage of the points and collect their portions of the bill later.

One of the best ways to use this credit card is to simply charge everything on it. At the end of the week, add up all the expenses and transfer the money from your checkings to your credit card debt. This will help you keep your balance low.

Another tip to maximize your rewards earnings is to make any big purchases on your credit card especially if you already have the money in your account to transfer it over. For example, when I was taking classes at CSUDH, I would pay for my $800 classes with my credit card, then transfer the money I received from my loans to pay off the classes. Find any big expense you have been saving for, charge it on your card and then pay it off, in the end you earn miles and accumulate for a future trip.

My final note, upon applying for the credit card it says you need excellent credit. Don’t let that discourage you from applying. I applied for the card my first year of post grad I didn’t have a crazy high credit score and my income wasn’t super high. Another benefit this card will bring, is that it helps you build your credit tremendously. My husband’s credit score jumped up by 50+ points after 8 months of using this card consistently.

If you are ready to apply, click on the link below to take you to the application process via my referral. If you have any more questions, ask below and I will be glad to answer them!

 

capita

https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/lp/referrals/?referralCode=YC7YCG6B&customerName=Jessica&programCode=3001&pId=923811

 

 

The Ultimate Cancun / Tulum Bachelorette

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Bachelorette Parties! My absolute favorite thing ever. There is nothing like celebrating your best friend with a girl squad with days filled of booze and wild adventures. This bachelorette is Nacho average Vegas rendez-vous (which I absolutely love). My best friend getting married wanted to do something different and more adventurous. We considered our options and it came down to Miami, Cancun/Tulum, or Cabo San Lucas. In the end Cancun & Tulum got the most votes so down the Riviera Maya we went. It was everyone’s first time visiting that region, except mine. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Riviera Maya three times prior to this trip (shoutout to my mom). I took it upon myself to help with the planning because there is nothing my Virgo soul loves more than planning a sick and overly-detailed itinerary. I will admit we crammed a lot of adventures in the days we were there. I asked the girls and the bride what they wanted to see and I tried to piece it together as best as I could. If you’re more of the relaxing type this itinerary might be a wee bit overwhelming, but if your soul craves adventure and can run on little sleep this itinerary might work for you. Either way I grouped the traveling in the most strategic way possible to ensure as much could be covered in little time. This itinerary could also be used with couples traveling to the Riviera Maya.

Flight: I had been monitoring flights for a month or two before we came out with a good deal. Volaris typically has the best rates for flights to Cancun. If you live in Southern California, choose to fly out of Tijuana. Flying out of Tijuana will give you domestic travel rates and prices are always lower. We flew out of Tijuana and used the Cross Border Tunnel (CBX) which conveniently crosses you into the Tijuana airport directly. Book your tickets online, they can also be purchased with Volaris while you book your flight.

Currency: Pesos. Cancun will accept dollars but many of the tourist locations will value your dollar a lot less than the national average. If you are going with a group, I recommend you have pesos and change. Going out to group dinners are a lot easier, if everyone can throw down the exact cost of their food + tip, don’t forget to tip!!! Throughout time, I have found that my favorite and most convenient way to get pesos is to withdraw from an ATM at the airport. You get the best conversion rate and you only pay a small fee to withdraw money.

Length of Trip: We did my friend’s bachelorette during Spring Break so we flew out early Wednesday morning and came back late Sunday night, so 5 days.

Air BnB: Since it was a group of 8 of us we booked AirBnB’s and it was the best decision ever. I searched to find the best possible options. Our Cancun airbNb was huge, elegant, and in a perfect location. Our Tulum airbNb was eccentric, looked like a treehouse, and was so unique. I will link the two locations. Both of them had really great hosts, especially Allistair in Tulum, he went above and beyond to make sure our stay was amazing. I would recommend these airbnbs to groups for any situation.

Travel: We booked shuttles through the same agency. This shuttle picked us up from the airport, took us to our Cancun airbNB. It also took us down to Tulum from Cancun. Finally it picked us up from Tulum and took us to the airport. The company was great, and extremely reliable. When we were in Cancun we rode the public bus to get around because our airbNb was conveniently located. When we were in Tulum we took taxis around because our airbNb was located in Tulum town not near the hotel zone. Taxis were affordable especially since they were split by 4 each way.

I will include my google doc itinerary, in case anyone wants to model their trip a similar way, Enjoy ❤

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Day One: We booked an early, direct flight from Tijuana to Cancun. It was about 4 hrs and 35 mins. Safe to say most of the girls got sleep on the plane because once we landed in Cancun it was go time. Originally we had booked a private catamaran yacht for all 8 of us plus the captain. When we got there, there was a mix up between our scheduled yacht. Through some negotiations we managed to get on a boat with unlimited alcohol. We caught the sunset, had music blasting, and endless palomas. The ride was so serene, the water was clear. We jumped in the open ocean. Riding the boat was pure bliss and felt like the culmination of a bachelorette party in paradise.

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Day 2: Chichen Itza Pyramids, Cenote Ik Kil & Coco Bongo

The next morning was an early wakeup call at 7am. Despite being hungover AF, we all pulled it together and made it to our pick up spot. Through previous experience, I booked through Cancun Adventure and have always found the best rates. The more tours you book at a time the greater the discount. They also pick you up and drop you off which is super convenient.

We started the day with Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The architecture is breathtaking and the photo ops are plentiful. From there, the tour took us to one of my favorite cenotes, Cenote Ik Kil. We had time to swim and eat lunch, which was included with our tour. On the way home, the tour also stopped through a picturesque town.

Our night consisted of a group dinner at Mextreme, really great food and entertainment for parties. They even brought out a midget stripper and did a little show for the bride. From there we walked to Coco Bongo for a club night like no other. We purchased bottle service, which I highly recommend because the club gets awfully crowded. Coco Bongo is like no other club, it’s a spectacle. There is live performances to iconic songs and tributes to bands like Queen. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of the trip.

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Day 3: Tulum

Our previously arranged shuttles picked us up at our airbNb in Cancun and took us directly to our airbNb in Tulum. I wish I had pictures of the airbNb in Tulum because it was honestly a dream. It was big beautiful wooden house with 4 mini houses in one. It had a pool in the middle and at night lit up with twinkle lights. Although we were tired from the club night before, we rallied. First we went to El Camello Jr to get Mariscos, this restaurant is well known and was walking distance from our airbNb, warning the portions are HUGE. We decorated the air bNb for the bride and took a tequila shot and bounced to the “Hotel Zone of Tulum”.

We started out by visiting Azulik Hotel to explore Ik Lab and innovative and immersive art experience. From there we walked to the beach. Unfortunately, Tulum’s beaches have been covered with a lot of seaweed the past two times I have been there. You can’t visit Tulum and not ride bikes, its the thing to do and the best way to cover the most ground in the hotel zone. We stopped at my favorite pit stop, Matcha Mama and got acai bowls to cool down.

We went home and got ready for night time. The night life in Tulum, is different, its not like the clubs in the U.S. They hardly play hip hop, so if you are looking to twerk you’re in the wrong place. The music is super chill and the vibe of the nightlife is trendy. Drinks are super expensive so plan accordingly!

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Day 4: Xel-Ha

If there is one attraction you must do when visiting the Riviera Maya, it’s Xel-Ha. It’s the ultimate paradise and it includes all you can eat buffets and drinks (alcohol included). The park is beautiful and you can spend the whole day there. From cliff jumping, snorkeling, floating on the river, the adventures are endless. We spent the whole day at the park and then headed home to get ready.

We decided to explore Tulum Town which was conveniently close to us as opposed to the Tulum Hotel Zone. We found a bar that played hip hop upbeat music so the girls were happy.

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Day 5: Last Day

I could tell we were all tired, tired from the trip and some even tired of each other lol. But hey thats just the nature of traveling with seven other girls for five days. Our flight did not depart Cancun till 8:30 pm so we had a good amount of time to adventure one last time. It was also one of our friend’s twenty sixth birthday so we started out with a brunch to celebrate her and the bride. We did brunch at El Pez, unfortunately it was super windy so we could not sit outside. The view inside was still beautiful and the food was basic nothing special.

From brunch, we took a taxi to Grand Cenote. Make sure you have cash or pesos for admission. Even if you are not going into the cenote you have to pay. There are shaded hangout spots for those that opt out. If you are there though, please go in the water its refreshing and an experience like no other. You even get to swim under a cave with bats in it, total adrenaline haha. The water is teal and this cenote is a great location to get some gorgeous instagram shots. We got a taxi home and packed our belongings. Some of us walked into Tulum Town for a last lunch and it was by far the best seafood I had the whole trip. If you get a chance you must try the seafood at Los Aguachiles in Tulum Town. We boarded our shuttles to get to the airport and had a safe and smooth journey home.

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Even though this was my 4th time in the Riviera Maya, there is still so much more to do and uncover. I will definitely be making a couple more blog posts on this region because it is my favorite region to travel to. The culture is rich, the food is exquisite, the adventures are endless, you can’t go wrong!!!!

If you would like a PDF version of the itinerary please email me at jessicamarquez951@gmail.com or simply leave a comment below with your email and I will send you the information. Feel free to ask any questions !

Till the next adventure!

xoxo, Jess

 

Useful Links

To Book Excursions and Tours : https://www.cancunadventure.net/

Air bNb’s we stayed at

 

 

 

Mexico City Guide: 3 Day Weekend in Mexico City

El D.F., La Cuidad, El Distrito, La Capital, y Mas Importante Donde Naci.

Fun Fact: I was actually born in Mexico City and most of my mom’s family currently still resides there. As a child my summers were spent in Mexico. My mom started sending me to Mexico as a child by myself at the age of 11. I would spend most of my nights crying because I was homesick and did not like the food (typical picky child). I did not appreciate her efforts to send me to Mexico, however, looking back on it now as an adult it was one of the greatest cultural blessings she could have gave me. I strengthened my Mexican roots, connected with my family, practiced my native language, and explored the culture. I had been longing to go back as an adult and do the tourist things, too bad no one was willing to pay for my flight like they did when I was a child. My husband and I decided that this year (2019), we would travel to Mexico City for his birthday trip in February.

Flight: With the help of the Hopper App, we tracked flights. I saw them for as low as $100 roundtrip but we waited a bit to buy them until we were sure we were going. We ended up paying about $125 roundtrip with Interjet. If you could get a good deal and fly with Interjet I would highly recommend that airline, you get complimentary beer and chips. Oh, and the seats are spacious and comfy.

International Travel: Due to the fact we live in Southern California, we chose to fly out of Tijuana. If you are close enough to do this, I highly recommend it. Since you are flying from Tijuana to Mexico City you are flying domestic which means you can get cheaper flights. We used the CBX (Cross Border Tunnel), it is highly efficient and smooth.            TIP: I recommend you buy your tickets in advanced through the website, and yes you do 100% need your passport.

Currency: Mexico uses the Peso, and the exchange rate fluctuates constantly. Not only that, but different businesses can choose the rate they convert the dollar to the peso. My biggest piece of advice is to convert your dollars to pesos. You can do this in a multitude of ways. Our favorite method is pulling out from the ATM in Mexico with your ATM card, you get the best conversion rate and you only pay a flat fee to your bank for using a foreign bank. If you have time, another method is to do it is through your bank at home, you just pay the service fee. Personally I do not like doing this method because that means you are carrying around a lot of money (depending how much you pull out). Finally, if you do not prefer to carry around physical cash you can use your credit card, try choosing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, like my personal favorite; The Capital One Venture Card.

AirBNB Experiences: It was our first time using AirBnB experiences and I can honestly say wow, wish I would have used them before. We did two activities through AirBnB experiences and had the most amazing time. I will definitely continue to use them. I will link the two experiences we booked at the bottom , because I did a good amount of time researching, reading reviews to make sure we chose the best.

Getting Around in Mexico City: UBER!!!!! I was highly surprised at how smooth Uber worked in Mexico City. Most cell phone plans allow you to have international data at no extra cost. If you are not sure, call your cell phone provider or make sure someone you are traveling with has data abroad. Uber is extremely cheap and they are everywhere in Mexico City, we never once had trouble calling one. Tip: Most Ubers in Mexico do not display an Uber logo on their car, look for license plate numbers!

 

So now that the logistics are over here is our long weekend trip to Mexico City.

 

Day 1:

We flew from Tijuana to Mexico City on a direct flight. Mexico is ahead of California by 3 hours. Once we arrived in Mexico City, we Ubered to our hotel, Hotel NH Collection which was conveniently located in the Reforma neighborhood. Choosing which neighborhood in Mexico City was extremely difficult. We went with a practical approach and chose a hotel close to many of the tourist attractions and had opportunities to walk.

Although we landed around the evening, we wasted no time, we had already planned our first night in CDMX. Through AirBnB experiences, we booked a Tacos+Beer+Lucha Libre night. The hosts were hilarious and truly loved lucha libre, they encouraged us to yell the obscenities and get into the spirit. After the match we went to a well known taqueria called El Califa.

 

 

Day 2

This day called for an early wakeup call, 3:30 am to be exact. I booked a birthday surprise for my husband. It was a beautiful hot air ballon ride over the pyramids of Teotihuacan. After deliberate research, I found the best deal with SkyBalloons MX. Our driver picked us up and gave us one hours drive worth of fascinating history. It was our first time on a hot air balloon and we had an amazing experience, with the most serene views, totally worth the lack of sleep. From there our driver became our friend and told us he would drive us till 4pm when we had to be back for the next pick up. Included in the hot air balloon adventure, is a buffet brunch and access to the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

The pyramids were breathtaking and you were able to climb to the top for the best views. Bring a hat, water and sunglasses because it gets hot out there! From the pyramids our driver took us to an extra outing, he took us to an authentic Pulque tasting. Pulque is know as the drink of the gods. It is advertised everywhere you go in Mexico City, but finding the true and authentic pulque is more difficult. Our personal driver dropped us off back at our hotel to recoup for our next adventure.

The rest of the day called for another Air BnB experience, a futbol game at Estadio Azteca. Our guide Alexis, was phenomenal, he picked us up and took us to the game with other travelers. If you have time, I highly recommend doing a game in Mexico, whether it is at the famous Estadio Azteca, or a nearby stadium. One of the best parts of watching a game in Mexico, is that you do not have to get up to get drinks or food, everything is catered to you.

Even though we had been running on very little sleep, we did not end the day after the game. We took advantage of every minute in Mexico City and continued to explore. We walked around the lively Plaza Garibali at night, and walked near the Historic Center of Mexico City. We decided to end the night with a treat and visited the famous El Moro for some churros and chocolate. The line looked long but it moved quick and was well worth the wait.

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Day 3 (Sunday)

Day 3 was also another jam-packed day. If I would have had more leisure time or would have stayed closer to our hotel, I would have definitely taken advantage of a carless Paseo de Reforma which happens every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. Do it like the locals do and ride bikes, skates of jog through the Reforma without worrying about cars.

We started our day by exploring the Castillo de Chapultepec. Aside from the beautiful architecture and scenic views, there is a lot of history displayed throughout the whole castle.

From the Castillo, we took an Uber to our next destination, el Museo Frida Khalo. I 100% recommend you purchase your tickets in advanced online, select the best time for you and you will skip the line. Purchase a photo pass at the door to be able to take pictures at the museum, otherwise you will be told to put your electronics away.

From the museum, we walked to el Mercado de Coyoacan and had delicious tostadas for lunch.

The next stop was my most favorite of our trip, Xochimilco! I had seen so much buzz about Xochimilco, that I knew it was something that should not be missed. Tip; you can bring your own alcohol and snacks onto the trajineras (boats). The price is set per trajinera not by the amount of people on them. You can also buy alcohol and micheladas all throughout your journey from vendors on their own little row boats. After a long day, we decided to head back to the area near out hotel to watch the NBA All Star game over some drinks. We finished the night with dinner at La Casa de Tono, which had many delicioius, authentic Mexican options.

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Day 4 (Monday):

Although we did not have the full day in Mexico, our flight did not leave until 5pm, so that meant an early morning to squeeze in some last minute sights. From our hotel we walked to the Angel of Independence to get a day view of the magnificent monument. From there, we called an Uber to the Museo Soumaya, we did not go in due to time constraints, but lets be real, I came for a picture of the building which looks like a tiled whale’s tail. Our next stop was one I found through Instagram & was well worth visiting. We visited La Biblioteca Vasconcelos, which is definitely the most breathtaking library with an intense layout.

Our next stop was a view of El Palacio de Bellas Artes. To get the best view, go to the Sears across the street and take the elevator to the 8th floor. You will find a cute cafe with open air seating which allows you to get the best view of this magnificent building.

We couldn’t leave without trying the cuisine at Contramar. Right when we got there it was packed and buzzing, a reservation is strongly required. We got lucky and were seated without one.

Finally, we called an Uber to take us to out hotel to gather our belongings then head to the airport. There is so much to see and do in Mexico City. I discovered more things after visiting, so I know I will be back. This is a great place for families to visit as well, there is a lot for children to see and do! Teach them about history at young ages and captivate their interest in culture!

xoxo

Jess

 

 

>>>Links

 

 

 

Hot Air Balloon Rides

https://www.skyballoons.mx/

 

Something in me

told me to go back to my “blog”. I just reread my first blog post back in 2017 where I said I was going to go for it. Well guess what, it’s 2019 and I never went for it. 2 years later and I’m in the same position wondering what could have been of this had I gone for it. Then all those similar thoughts seem to trickle in….”what if I would have made my fitness IG back in 2015 at the dawn of those profiles”, “what if I would have gone straight to grad school finishing my degree in 2015”, “what if I would have planned better and did not move back to my hometown after college”. Life will be filled with these moments of doubt and worry. I have found the easiest way to divert these thoughts is to focus on the good and the plentiful. It hasn’t been all loss since 2017, I got married to my best friend, we’ve traveled to about 4 new states and our dream destination of Thailand. I actually understand and enjoy sports. I finished my post bacc in speech and language pathology, I found a new fitness passion, spinning, while still staying true to my lifting roots. I’ve connected, inspired, and motivated people.