Homemade Organic Almond Milk

 

Hello Friends!

Today I want to share with you how I¬†make my own Organic Preservative-free Nut Milk. I used to buy Almond Breeze at my local food store for years but after reading more about preservatives and their effects on our body, I decided to make my own Nut Milk every week. Preservatives and additives are placed to keep food fresh longer however they can remove the nutrients found in the food and can exacerbate allergies. That is why I choose to make my own fresh batch of Almond milk every week as it is simple, alkaline and nutrient rich. Almonds are high in vitamins E, Manganese, Biotin, Copper, and B2. ¬†I also love the fact that I can control the number and¬†quality ingredients that go into my body. This recipe is easy and has a light nutty taste which is perfect for cereal, smoothies, baking, and drinking. Once you try it, you will be making your own milk every week. Let’s get started!

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Here is the Healthy Plant-based Nut milk recipe:

| Serves 2 people |

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups ¬†of Raw Organic Almond ¬†(Soaked)
  • 4 cups Pure Filtered Water

Tools

  • High Powered Blender (I use a Ninja)
  • Nut Bag (I bought mine on Amazon)
  • Glass milk Jar container (to store your milk in about a liter)

Directions

  1. In a large Bowl, add nuts and enough water to cover the nuts. Cover and let soak overnight or 6-8 hours at room temperate.
  2. Rinse the nuts and place them in your blender with 4 cups of water
  3. Blend until milky Smooth
  4. Place your nut Bag in a large bowl and strain your nut milk. Squeeze and twist the nut bag as much possible to extract all the milk.
  5. Transfer your milk to the glass milk jar and store in the back of the fridge for up to 4 days.

*TIPS: If you want a more concentrated nutty flavor, add less water when blending. Also, you can choose to sweeten your milk with dates, agave, or vanilla.

Hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try. If you have tried it, please let me know the results. Was yours creamy?

XOXO

Christina

What The Health: A Must Watch Documentary

Hello Friends,

I wanted to share my thoughts on this highly controversial documentary What The Health available on Netflix in hopes to inspire you to change your diet. What the health portrays the journey of a man in search for answers on the world health crisis and disease prevention. It suggests that major corporations and pharmaceutical companies alter our perception of what a healthy diet means by allegedly contributing to politics and world health organizations. The filmmakers which also created Cowspiracy are not trying to force viewers into giving up animal products but instead to provide facts in hopes that you have the knowledge to make the best decision for your life.

I understand the information may be shocking and unbelievable to most of us but the film actually backs up its fact with research. For example according to the ¬†World Health Organization. “GLOBAL REPORT ON DIABETES”. 2016¬†the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. The number keeps increasing every year, however, no cure has been found since 1980? Maybe it’s because we are only treating the symptoms. Someone who is diagnosed with diabetes will be told by his doctor to take insulin, stop eating sugar and include exercise into his/her regimen. However, the complication of diabetes get worse over time and then you are at risk for heart disease and side effects from medication etc. No one is aware that diabetes is curable. Yes, curable. ¬†And to see so many people suffering from illnesses that are “Man-Made” is devastating. This documentary goes into details of the food pyramid. For one the data shows who created the food pyramid and its effects on our health. I made the connection when I heard of the¬†numbers of¬†pets nowadays¬†dying from¬†diabetes, cancer, heart disease; the same diseases¬†we humans are facing. What is the connection? Our Diet! What we¬†eat¬†is killing us and we are not connecting the dots. We are so¬†disconnected¬†from our bodies that we no¬†longer understand¬†its function. For your body to perform at its best, it needs fuel FOOD. Not fake food Real food. Real food is food that we find in nature, organic, and untouched by man. The golden rule is “if it is made in a lab it takes a lab to digest” Our body¬†is our¬†home, the¬†vessel¬†which allows to you live in this lifetime and¬†create your dreams. And before we can achieve any¬†financial goal¬†we need health.

Health is the most important part of our survival. Without health, we cannot live the life we dream. If we have all the money in the world and no health then we are unhappy, unhealthy, and poor. Wealth doesn’t come from financial or material gains it comes from a healthy mind, body, and soul. Once you know yourself, love yourself, and accept yourself for who you are, you become powerful. And it all starts with our diet. This documentary expanded my awareness on the subject of health but also made me understand the need for compassion in our society. I would highly recommend watching this documentary¬†for information purposes and not criticism. Be open to the data and make your own analysis. I learned that we are fed countless information through the media and it is up to assess the data and create our¬†lifestyle.

I strongly recommend everyone to start questioning every decision they make about food. As every time you eat you are either creating health or treating illness. Why do you eat certain foods? And what effects do these foods have on your body? We are not synthetic beings, therefore, we should not eat synthetic foods. The documentary left me questioning 2 things, what is the human diet and how do we obtain ultimate health? If you have watched the documentary, what were your thoughts?

With deep respect and appreciation,

Christina

 

My Soul Cycle Experience

 

Last weekend, my friend Bia invited me and a couple of her friends to Soul Cycle. She decided to celebrate her 25th birthday Cycling! What a great way to kick-start your birthday by burning some calories and toning up your body right?

Our class started at 8:30 am bright and early on a Saturday morning.  I was a little bit nervous because it had been a while since I had cycled and I wanted to be sure I could keep up.

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Located at the entrance of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, the facility is extremely clean and well kept. The bathrooms are stocked with all the supplies you can possibly need such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, lotion, deodorant, tampons, hair dryer, razors, shaving cream, hair ties etc. You can tell they really paid attention to details when they designed this place.

They also have lockers and cycling shoes. We headed to the cycling room and searched for our bike number. A friendly staff member helped set my bike to the correct height and made sure I had a towel and water. Once the instructor arrived the room was transformed into a party place. Lights were dimmed, the music flowing and we started pedaling. I loved the motivational words the instructor kept affirming as we were going through each exercise.

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Picture from SoulCycle website

The class is not only about the legs. All bikes were stocked with 2-5lbs weights for arm exercises. Around 20 minutes into the exercise, our instructor included arms, shoulder, and upper back exercises into our workout. It was done while pedaling, a really great full body workout, I could feel the fat crying lol!

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Overall I would highly recommend this place because cycling is a great workout plus the facility is very clean and the staff is genuinely happy to help you reach your goals. I, on the other hand still experience butt pain, not muscle pain but the pain from the cycling seat which makes it uncomfortable for me when working out. I guess no pain no gain, right?

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Have you tried Soul Cycle? If so, what was your experience? Do you experience pain from the cycling seat too?

Xoxo,

Christina

Loaded Vegan Sweet Potato Crust Pizza – Healthy, Plant-based and Gluten free Pizza

 

I was looking for a healthier option for pizza and came across gluten-free recipes all over Pinterest. This sweet potato crust pizza is gluten-free, delicious and so nutritious. This Pizza is fully loaded with veggies which are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Without any further adieu, here is the recipe! 

| Serves 2 |

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes (enough to yield 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup All purpose Gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence seasoning¬†
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of dairy free pizza sauce

Toppings

  • 1/2 of one large Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
  • A Handfull of Kale
  • A Hand Full of Sweet Corn¬†
  • 1/2 Cup of Red and Orange Bell Peppers
  • Dairy Free cheese of your choice (I love provolone slices by company Follow Your Heart as they are soy free, non-GMO and truly delicious. Found at my local Publix)
  • Fresh Cilantro leaves for a little bit of garnish and a pinch of Black pepper to taste
  • Avocados to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400¬ļF degrees, and set a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Peel and cut your sweet potatoes into quarters. Add potatoes to boiling water, turn down to simmer, and boil them for about 20 minutes or until a knife easily pierces through.
  3. Drain potatoes from the water, and mash well in a large bowl.
  4. Add one cup of your sweet potato mash, almond flour, baking soda, Herbes de Provence seasoning, and salt to a large bowl. Mix the dough well with your hands until the mixture resembles a ball of orange pizza dough.
  5. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper, and press out the dough to a large circle. The dough should be about a 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the dough are slightly browned.
  7. Remove your pizza from the oven, add the sauce, vegan cheese, and desired toppings, and bake for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  8. Slice up, and enjoy with some fresh cilantro, black peppers, and avocados!

Hope you guys enjoy this recipe and give it a try. Always tweak it to your liking and let me know your favorite Pizza recipe!

Xoxo,

Christina

 

My Top 3 Recommended Books for a Happy Relationship

 

Since dating my now husband Ralph over 9 years ago, we were often asked by friends and family about our relationship. How are we still happy and in love as the first day we met?How do we manage not to argue with one another?

Before I share my experience, I want to make a point. And it is that a “Healthy relationship is possible”. I think there is a big misconception on relationships in our society. On one end we want the relationship to be just like the beginning and the other we believe it is not “realistic”. I can say from my own experience being in a toxic relationship versus in a loving one that relationships can be wonderful, romantic and passionate but it does take work. The main reason I believe people are afraid of relationships is that we don’t understand one another. Being in a loving relationship is beautiful and is possible for anyone who wants it. But you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You have to be willing to give it your all, to open yourself up 100% and understand that you may get hurt but still choose to give of yourself every day. Sometimes we fall in and out of relationships thinking the next one will be different however we have not changed or learned from the experience. I truly believe in life and relationships you must always keep growing and contributing. If your relationship is not growing, well simply it is dying. That is a natural fact of life, anything that stays stagnant will eventually die. And in order for your relationship to flourish, you must put in the work.

I believe a lot of my relationship success is due to the fact that my husband and I applied principles from the following books and to this day review them constantly. We continue to grow both as separate individuals and as a couple with a common vision. We fall in love with one another every day because we are committed to each other in this relationship. We have learned a lot from one another and have read books and watched seminars on relationships to strengthen our bond.

Here are¬†My Top 3 Recommended Books for a Happy Relationship…

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom By Don Miguel Ruiz 

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When it comes to relationships, we seldom focus on ourselves. We see self-care as an act of self-indulgence, however, self-care is not selfish as you cannot serve from an empty vessel. You must first work on yourself because you are your first priority. Take care of yourself and love yourself so you can become the best version of yourself. You can do this while you are in a relationship or single. Self-care is taking responsibility for your life and becoming your own hero. That is why I recommend reading The 4 agreements first because I strongly believe the key to a great relationship with anyone starts with yourself. In The 4 Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz explains how as children we made agreements with our parent’s realities as well as the outside world. By doing so, we believed in their ideals which created our dogmatic character. However, we are able to break free from those beliefs if we do not accept them as true or agree with them. The 4 agreements are as followed.

  1. Be Impeccable with your Word –¬†Use your words to inspire, lift, encourage and create a positive influence on yourself and others. Basically, don’t use your words to hurt people and yourself.
  2. Don’t¬†Take Anything Personally –¬†Learn to respect others even when¬†you don’t agree with them. It helps you deal with negativity from others and yourself.
  3. Don’t¬†make Assumptions –¬†Since none of us can read minds, assuming what others¬†are thinking¬†about you only creates negative results and consequences. Always ask questions before concluding and you will have clear communications and understanding every time.
  4. Always do your Best –¬†At the end of the day, you should always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did your very best. And if it was your last day on earth, you will not have regrets. Please, keep in mind that your best may be different from day to day.

The author also created “The 5th Agreement” which suggests the key principle Be skeptical but learn to listen. By reading this book and applying the concepts to your life, I am sure you will strengthen your character and will become the best version of yourself which will resolve in a happy relationship.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex By John Gray

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Interestingly¬†enough, I haven’t¬†actually read The Book but my husband and I¬†have¬†watched the live¬†French edition on Youtube every year since 2009. It has become our yearly ritual or a kind of relationship review or assessment. It was first recommended to us by my parents in law who also gifted us the book. The 2-hour interactive video is charismatic, funny and engaging. The video stars Paul Dewandre¬†who explains his personal struggle to understand his wife Corrine. The concept of Mars and Venus explains how fundamentally different men and women are and how the feminine and masculine energies communicate. Most relationship problems can span on the simple fact that we do not understand each other and how the opposite sex thinks.

For instance, the video showcases the example of a man who comes home after work and does not pay attention to his wife immediately. She automatically perceives it as “He doesn’t care about me” but for a man, his objective is to leave the best for last. That is because men come from a mentally from the planet Mars which objective is to FIX a problem First; whereas women come from the mentality from planet Venus which is to Talk and explain her feelings about the problem. That alone to a woman can make her feel heard which is ultimately what she wants. So, if you are a man don’t offer a solution to your girlfriend or spouse when she comes to you with a problem¬†instead comfort her and listen to her, you will lower the wave as it is said in the video which will create harmony in her. However, if you are a woman, don’t probe your man for answers about the situation as he does not process the problem the same way you do, give him some space and let him come to you. Ultimately, in every situation, you should not ask what would I want to be done if I was in his/her situation? but ask how can I support him/her so that he/she knows I am here? It goes back to agreement number 2 which is not to take things personally. Once you use these concepts, you can both ride the wave of happiness together. I recommend all couples to read The book or watch the live¬†show as it is extremely important for any relationship to understand how both sexes communicate.

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts By Gary D Chapman

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This last book is a game changer, especially after reading “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”. Now that you have a better understanding of men and women, it is time to understand how they love. The 5 Love Languages offers the final key I believe every relationship needs, “The how to love Handbook”. More often than not, the reason for a breakup or divorce is because we no longer feel the connection, passion, trust or romance we felt at the beginning of the relationship. The “honeymoon phase” is gone and now we are living in a day-to-day world of work and paying bills etc… The book explains the distinct difference between falling in love and loving someone. When we fall in love we tend to not see the other¬†persons’ flaws because everything they do is perfect and wonderful but once the honeymoon phase¬†is over, we may wonder if we even like this person. We fall into the world where laundry is never done, dirty dishes are in the sink and hair is over the counter. The challenge is that when we fall in love, both sexes express several love languages but the key to happiness is to speak your spouse’s primary love language.

The 5 love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmations
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

I highly recommend taking the Quiz on the website to find your primary love language or use the questionnaire below. As Chapman says “Love is a choice and it makes a difference”

  1. What have you most requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely what would make you feel most loved.
  2. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of how you feel loved.
  3. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.

I hope you found this blog helpful. I truly believe these books are incredibly life-changing and recommend every couple to read them. Please let me know if you’ve read these books and the impact it has made on your relationships. Ultimately, a great relationship starts with you taking responsibility for your own happiness.

With Love,

Christina

Delicious Vegan Banana Pancakes – Refined sugar, Oil, and Gluten-free Pancakes

 

I am so excited to share my Healthy Plant-based banana pancake recipe. These pancakes are one of my favorite weekend breakfast meals. They are easy to prepare and really tasty. These pancakes are made with simple ingredients are gluten, oil and refined sugar-free and truly delicious. If you prefer sweets in the morning, these will not disappoint. Here is the recipe!

Delicious Vegan Banana Pancakes

| Serves 2-3 |

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups of Gluten Free all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs of coconut sugar
  • 2 tbs of baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp wheat germ
  • 2-3 tbs of oatmeal (optional)

Garnish

  • Blue Berries
  • Strawberries
  • Mint leaves
  • Raspberries
  • Maple Syrup

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mash the bananas using a fork. Add the almond milk and vanilla extra and stir until well mixed
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, oats, baking powder, wheat germ, coconut sugar, and salt. Stir until combined.
  3. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, careful not to over-mix.
  4. Heat a nonstick pan. If your pan is large enough, you can cook 2 or 3 at a time. Wait about 2 minutes until you see bubbles form. Flip and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes or until golden brown. *You can keep the first batch of pancakes warm by putting them into a preheated oven at 200 degrees (F) until ready to serve. 
  5. Serve your pancakes with your choice of garnish, I suggest some fruits, nuts and pure maple syrup.

Have fun and tweak them however you like. Cooking should be fun and enjoyable. If you tried the recipe, please let me know your thoughts.

Bon Appetit!

Christina ūüôā

6 Rituals For A Deeper Connection With Your Partner

 

Most couples go through the honeymoon phase where everything is exciting,¬†fresh and new. Then the honeymoon comes to an end and life¬†becomes a routine where the relationship is no longer a priority. This is true for people in relationships and for married couples. That is why it is important to set up rituals. I strongly believe rituals can keep a relationship going strong for years. Chances are, you and your partner already have rituals, you just probably are not aware of them. Creating a “Couple’s Ritual” is creating a conscious recurring exchange between two people in a relationship that is meaningful and fulfilling. Using these rituals on a consistent basis will create a daily reminder of the connection and love you share with one another. I personally have found that having a daily Couple’s Ritual has helped build and solidify a deeper connection between my partner and me.

Here are 6 Rituals for a Deeper connection with your partner:

Spend Mornings in Bed Cuddling together

This ritual is by far a game changer for me. Most of us wake up in the morning, turn off our alarms and rush to work. By taking just 5 minutes to cuddle, snuggle, hug and feel each other’s skin creates a bond that allows you to connect on another level¬†with your partner. Even if your significant other wakes up at a later time than you, just spoon in bed and initiate the cuddle. They may be half asleep but they will surely remember the warmth of your skin and automatically¬†feel connected to you. Also cuddling releases oxytocin and endorphins, hormones known¬†to make you feel good and create a deeper sense of connection. These are nonverbal cues that let your partner know how you feel. They convey the message “I feel safe” “I love you” “I feel understood” and “I get you”.

Talk about the Good Things that Happened Every Day

Most couples come home and complain about the day (I was guilty of this until my husband pointed out my sudden negative outlook on work). I recommend¬†not asking your spouse automatically “How was your day?” But to making a simple shift in the question and asking instead “What GOOD things happened¬†today?” You see, the slight shift in the question emits a completely different response. Instead of focusing on the stress of work make the conscious decision when you leave work to leave the troubles of work at work. This way your home will always be a place of love and happiness. ¬†If you still feel the need to vent or talk about the happenings at work or of life follow the ritual number 3.

Going on Nature Walks to Express Gratitude

We don’t realize it often enough but nature and being in the outdoors makes us happy. Researchers have found that people who live close to parks or green areas tend to have less stress and a more positive outlook on life. If you feel stress or have negative thoughts or just feel in a rut go on a nature walk. Couples can do this too. And a great tip is, as you walk start to think about the things you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big. The smallest recognition will make you realize that the problems in your life are not so significant. And when doing this with your partner, you will feel more connected to each other. I find that taking a quick walk around the neighborhood park after dinner or on the weekends helps to diffuse any situation.

Cooking a Meal and Eating Together  

You know what they say: The couple who cooks together stays together! Although cooking may not be your forte. Taking the time to cook and eat together as a couple brings the opportunity to communicate and enjoy the fruits of your labor together. Too many times we create relationship roles which can get mundane. By cooking together, both your partner and yourself will be spending time together and learning something new. Regardless, cooking will create fun memories and even your own recipes!

Having Open and Non-judgmental Communication 

Communication with the opposite sex can be challenging especially if we do not want to hurt the other person’s¬†feelings. I found that many couples refrained from expressing their feelings and instead bundled it up inside. This is very detrimental to yourself and to the relationship because when you are not dealing with an issue right away it will eventually come out like a storm. In order to avoid this from happening, I recommend having hard conversations earlier in the relationship and when you feel something is bothering you. Too often we expect the other person to know what is going on in our heads and express disconnect but unless you speak and express yourself clearly and without judgment, the other person may have no clue of your emotions. Take your partner aside and look him or her in the eye and let them know you have to talk about something that has been bothering them. Also, make sure you hold your partner’s hand when you say this so they feel you are coming from a place of love and vulnerability. Once both couples have expressed their feelings and resolved the issue, hug, kiss and express love. This will let your partner know you love and accept them no matter what happened in the past.

Dream Day

My husband and I created this ritual called “Dream Day” when we came back from our honeymoon. After spending a week on a cruise dreaming about life and the future we realized how happy it made us to constantly be reminded of what we were working towards. ¬†And now our typically Saturday morning start with us waking up and talking about our dreams and goals. We even look online at the places we want to travel and dreams we want to accomplish. We realized this exercise brought us closer together as a couple and made us realize why we are meant for each other. We have a common vision for our lives and are working towards it.

I hope these rituals are helpful to you and your partner. One last tip though, choose one ritual at a time or incorporate your own slowly. The key here is to create Your “Couple’s Ritual” with your significant other in order to have a stronger sense of understanding and connection for one another. One way to start incorporating rituals into your life is to just¬†do it. Once you do the ritual consistently, you will see a change in yourself, your partner and the relationship.

If you try these rituals, please let me know how it has worked for you and your partner. Also, share other routines or rituals you may have tried and the benefits it has brought to your relationship below. I’d love to read them!

Happy Ritualing!

xoxo,

Christina

 

 

 

 

 

Our Honeymoon Cruise- 7 Day Caribbean Cruise

For Ralph and I, planning our honeymoon was probably more exciting than wedding planning. This was going to be our first official vacation together. We have traveled with family before and for business but never for vacation just us two. This was also exciting for me because it was my first ever cruise! We chose a 7 day Caribbean Cruise aboard the beautiful Celebrity Reflection going to 4 destinations: Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Haiti.

Day 1

We started the day in sunny Miami where our friend and best man Guliano¬†drove us to the Port of Miami. We checked in and were greeted with a glass of wine. Although we don’t enjoy alcohol, we did the whole intertwined arms drink in each others glass thing. Hey… Why Not? We took a quick tour of the ship then checked into our room. It was a beautiful luxurious stateroom with our very own balcony. We started to unpack then went to the main pool deck for some Ping Pong! Of course, I lost to the Champ (Ralph) but in my defense, the wind was rocking the boat. We ended the day with dinner at a Sushi restaurant called Sushi on 5 meaning¬†deck 5. The chef was really funny and made us a complimentary chocolate cake.

Day 2

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We woke up the next day to the oceans deep blue ties feeling rested and refreshed. Day 2 was a day at sea. We headed to breakfast on deck 7 and took the opportunity to enjoy the pool deck and solarium. We spent the day lounging in the jacuzzi then relaxed in the indoor pool. We also upgraded to some Wifi to get some work done but even the high-speed internet was slow. When we returned to our room later in the evening, our bed was freshly made and decorated with some dark chocolate and an invitation to dine at Opus. The service was wonderful and the food delicious.

Day 3

We woke up in Cozumel, Mexico at 7 am. Ralph and I had booked excursions the night before and met with our tour guide, Melissa. We took a short 5-minute drive to the activity park where we fed manatees and played with dolphins but the most exciting of all was snuba diving.  Yes, Snuba not scuba. Snuba is when your oxygen tank is hooked to a floating raft instead of on your back. It was my first experience snuba diving and I was a bit scared, to be honest, but if I could recommend one thing it would be this. Under the ocean is a whole world of corals and fish and deep blue horizons. I felt so small in the beauty and depth of the sea. After snuba diving, we spent some time in the pool then ate some authentic Mexican food and even had time for Tequila at the tequila factory (High recommend the almond Tequila). We ended the night by watching a comedy show on board after dinner.

Day 4

We woke up to another beautiful day and in another beautiful location, Grand Cayman Island. Grand Cayman is a pretty small country, you can probably drive around the whole island in one hour. Ralph and I decided not to book the excursion on board but to be spontaneous and see what is available. We gravitated towards a Segway tour around the island. This tour I could not recommend it enough. It was an amazing sightseeing tour of Grand Cayman and 7-mile beach. Our tour guides were hilarious and even thought us local Cayman phrases such as (What going on Titi/ Bobo?). After our tour, we dipped our toes in the turquoise colored 7-mile beach then jumped in the pool of bar where we played with floaties. We tasted some Cayman fast food then ended the night on our private balcony with a front row view of the beautiful Caribbean sunset.

Day 5

We docked in Jamaica and decided to be spontaneous again with our excursions. Unfortunately, all activities were booked and we ended just up taking it easy getting a massage and relaxing by the pool at Margarita Ville. The DJ was awesome, he had me dancing the whole time. We didn’t understand the time change and had to run back to the ship but unfortunately, we ended up leaving 2 hours later not exploring Jamaica as we wanted and missing the authentic Jamaican experience. We ended up going to the casino on the ship where we played Black Jack until midnight.

Day 6

Day 6 was the one I was waiting for (Going Home to Haiti). I was excited to zip line over the ocean but when I stepped out onto the balcony that morning it was a bit gloomy. It rained until noon which caused most of the water sports activities to be canceled. However, we were able to Zip Line. We were greeted by traditional Haitian dancers when we arrived in Labadee and took several pictures before gearing up for the excursion. We headed up a steep hill then stepped into the lift-off area. The view from up there is just spectacular. Words cannot express how beautiful it is. Imagine Lush mountains, blue and turquoise water, islands in the distance and the smell of salt in the air. Before we knew it, we glided over the ocean with both hands and feet in the air. We ended the day with sand on our feet and smiles on our faces.

Day 7

The last day of the cruise. Day 7 was another day at sea. I woke up early and headed towards the fitness center where I took a yoga class followed by a simple walk on the treadmill with a view of the ocean. Ralph took the time to play some basketball and Ping-Pong which he won of course. We had another great date night on board at an Italian restaurant called Tuscan Grill. The food was exquisite. We also met wonderful crew members from all over the world. And before we knew it, it was time to pack.

We truly enjoyed our honeymoon cruise and I would strongly recommend taking a cruise has a honeymoon vacation. You’ll get to wake up in a new location or country every day. Disconnect from the outside world. Rest and relax. Meet people from all over the world. Have constant dates with your partner and explore new locations every day.

We hope you guys enjoyed this blog post and we would love to hear about your honeymoon experience! Comment down below!

Xoxo,

Christina

5 Tips For Planning an Eco-Friendly Wedding – Green Wedding Guide

If you are a conscious bride like me, you are all for helping the environment. On average, a wedding produces over 500 pounds of garbage and emits about 63 tons of greenhouse gases such as CO2 into the environment a year. That was a statistic I definitely did not want to contribute to on my wedding day.

There are several alternatives to some of the basic wedding necessaries without sacrificing your vision, your sanity and your budget. Your wedding can still be the most beautiful experience of your lifetime without harming the environment. Here are some of My Tips for Planning a Green Eco-friendly wedding. 

Finding a Sustainable Venue/Location

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Choosing a green venue is completely doable. One of best ways to cut down on energy is to use outdoor venues where the sun can provide most of the sunlight. Also, hold both your wedding ceremony and reception in the same location. It will minimize your carbon footprint and will be very convenient for your guest. There are tons of state parks and tropical gardens or estates that provide outdoor venues. We tied the knot at Bill Baggs state park in Key Biscayne Florida (On National Forest Day). It was a perfect place for a green wedding as we were able to use the natural surroundings for decor which allowed for a no waste ceremony. The location also was perfect for a sunset wedding and had a beautiful view of the ocean.

Ethical Wedding Bands

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If you’ve watched the movie “Blood Diamond” you may be worried about the poor mining practices that yield great profits at the expense of the environment and against human rights. Buying a conflict-free wedding band is not only a great way to commit to your marriage but also to the environment. Don’t be afraid to ask your jeweler for details. Where was the stone found? Is it fair-trade? Try recycled metal such as gold, antique and vintage or artisanal jewelers. These choices will¬†help to provide a fair wage¬†and safe working conditions for the workers.

Local Florist and vendors 

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When it comes to flowers and decorations, choose in-season flowers from a local florist. Use locally grown organic flowers and recycled leaves. They are usually pesticide free and with less travel, they are safe for the environment. We used 3 simple elements for decor at our wedding: Flowers, Leaves, and Candles. Use soy-based candles if possible as they are healthier for the environment. Using leaves was a great way to reduce waste and reuse an element. Most florists have scraps of leaves available for free. Check out second-hand shops or flea markets. They are a gold mind for decorative pieces. You might even be surprised by the quality.

Eco-friendly wedding dress

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Finding the perfect wedding dress for an eco-friendly wedding does not mean walking down the aisle in a biodegradable dress.  It means, paying attention to the fabric used, renting or reusing a dress, supporting an ethical wedding dress designer or buying a sample dress like I did. I wrote a whole blog about my wedding dress shopping experience. I bought a sample dress but you can also use upcycled dresses or go to trade shows for green wedding events.

Green Registry and Invitations

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Millions of tree are cut down every year for single use paper products. This is such an unnecessary deforestation when we know, we will throw away the invites once they are registered on our calendars. I recommend sending E-VITES (save the dates) or seeded paper which will regrow once in the grown within weeks. We used the paperless option with Zola for our registry and The Knot for our wedding website. These websites allow you to create free websites and invitations to send to your guest via email. For our registry, we created a fund where our guest can deposit money instead of buying a gift and a percentage of the money will be donated to a charity of your choice (Great way to plant trees).

I hope you find these tips helpful and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below and Happy Planning!!

xoxo,

Christina

 

 

 

 

How To Plan a Beautiful Wedding in 4 Months!

 

When I tell people I planned my wedding in 4 months and was completely stress-free, they think I am joking. Seriously, who plans an entire wedding in 4 months? How do you even find a venue that is available in 4 months? Whether you are newly engaged or on a long engagement the thought of marrying your true love is excited but can be stressful because we want everything to be perfect. I found that letting go of perfection and focusing on the outcome was really the Key to my wedding planning experience. Remember that all the little details will not matter in the end, it is all about the experience.

Here are my Top 7 Tips on How to Successfully Plan a Wedding in 4 Months or Less…

Get Married on a Weekday!

Yes, a weekday. This is my top most important tip. Most people get married on the weekends as it is more convenient for everyone but most of the desired wedding dates are not available. Getting married on a weekday has many benefits which include venue availability, vendor availability, discounts on weekday events and vendors, and so much more. When I was planning my wedding I wanted to tie the knot the same date of our engagement (March 21st) as it was a special occasion for us but that date the following year was on a Tuesday. To my surprise, everything was available for that Tuesday (with discounts!). I strongly recommend looking into weekday weddings. Your guess will just have to miss a day of work or make it into a mini-vacation if they are traveling.

Keep it Simple! 

Wedding planning¬†doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. Focus on the details that are important. I recommend¬†first to start by choosing a budget then the location. If you need inspiration and ideas go on Pinterest. There are tons of wedding planning ideas and boards to choose from. Narrow down your choice of color scheme,¬†themes and decor -There is always something available¬†if you keep your eye open.

Hire a Wedding Planner!

Most people think hiring a wedding planner is too much money or too much of a hassle. I think the opposite, you pay an experienced planner for their expertise and connections. Remember they have done this before, they can get what you need to be done in less time than you think which makes it both stress-free and convenient for you. There are a lot of DIY brides who create beautiful events but from my experience, they also are responsible for cleaning after the event. Now, why do that if you can have someone take care of all the details for you. I recommend setting up an appointment and chat with a local wedding planner. They can take care of most of the important details (such as contacting vendors and decor) on your wedding planning list which leaves you with ample amount of free time to do whatever you want. Ask them questions get to know them on a personal level and see their portfolio, you will have a better sense of who to hire once you feel they understand your vision. My wedding planner Cristina was wonderful to work with and is the reason for my stress-free wedding experience.

Make a Guestlist!

Depending on your wedding date you need to send invitations no later than 3 months in advance. Paperless invites are always a great option as they are fast and great for the environment.

Purchase your Wedding Attire!

I wrote an entire blog about my wedding dress shopping experience which only took 15 minutes! For most brides getting married in 4 months is not enough time for a bridal salon dress; unless you purchase a sample dress. A sample dress is a dress that the brides try on in the store and bridal boutiques can sell at great discounts. I know some brides want that experience of purchasing a new dress but I see it as buying a dress at a luxurious store.

Get organized!

Ultimately nothing will get done if you don’t plan it. As my favorite quote by Benjamin Franklin says “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Download a wedding checklist or create your own in regards to your wedding planner. Create time blocks every week to work on your wedding. I used to plan once a week on Sundays and add any appointments to my calendar for the week then check it off my list once it is done.

Go Minimal!

My wedding was a green-themed eco-friendly wedding which was pretty minimalistic. Going minimal doesn’t mean boring. It means taking the environment into consideration and using your surroundings for decor. Get crafty with your favors and centerpieces. If you are short on time, pick simple projects that will have a greater Wow factor.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how I planned my wedding in 4 months. Always remember to have fun and be patient. I’d love to hear your wedding planning story, please leave me a comment down below.

Xoxo,

Christina

 

 

How I Found The Perfect Wedding Dress in 15 Minutes!

When I was younger I used to daydream about the kind of dress I would wear on my wedding day. ¬†Back then, I was into the ball gown Cinderella dresses but as I grew older my style evolved and I rotated toward a more natural style. After watching countless hours of “Say Yes To The Dress” on TLC for my sisters wedding 2 years prior, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted.

Now, how did I manage to purchase my perfect wedding dress the same day and in less than 20 minutes? I have to credit my sister for her persistence. I had ordered a dress made in China custom to my size because I wanted something¬†different but very “Me”. However, it looked nothing like what I ordered when it arrived. I was devastated and hopeless.¬†The big sister to the rescue! My sister took the 5 am flight from Jacksonville¬†Florida to Miami on November 19th and called¬†Brideofflorida that morning to make an appointment. ¬†The sales rep told us although they are usually booked on the weekend and have to schedule weeks in advance, one of her brides had canceled on her last minute and they¬†had one available¬†spot for 3 pm. Yippy! we made it the appointment on time and met with our friendly sales rep. I explained that my wedding was less than 4 months away and I that I am looking for a sample¬†dress. She assembled a couple of dresses and we¬†headed towards the dressing¬†room.

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I tried on the first dress,¬†an ivory square-neck trumpet dress with ruffles on the shoulders. It was nice but I wasn’t excited about it. I mean it is not enough to look good on your wedding dress, you must also Feelgood. As I was walking back to my dressing¬†room, another bride walked out onto the stage with a beautiful blush A-line Beach flowy dress. I am not usually a pink girl but this dress was breathtaking. I literally¬†watched in Awe for a few seconds then asked my sale rep if I could try that dress. As soon as the other bride returned to her dressing room, my sales rep acquired the dress. She kindly helped me into the dress and it fit me to “the T”. As soon as I walked out of the changing room and looked into the mirror, I¬†knew I had found my “dream dress”. I twirled around like a ballerina smiling from ear to ear for a few minutes and just like that, I had found my dream wedding dress in 15 minutes!

It was the second and last dress I tried. I walked out of the store with my wedding dress in hand and a little parting gift from Bridesofflorida . It was truly a great experience.

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Some tips to help you find your Dream dress:

  1. Don’t pick a wedding dress¬†simply because it is trendy. Go for a style that fits your personality and your wedding theme.
  2. If you find the dress you love,¬†don’t try another one. Too often we change our minds quickly especially if we have too many options, therefore if you love it keep it.
  3. Don’t bring a big bridal party. ¬†I only went wedding shopping with my sister who knew what I wanted and I knew would be truly honest with me. One person’s opinion is all you need.
  4. Don’t¬†go wedding shopping early. We often forget what we buy and lose the excitement of dress shopping. My experience shopping last minute made me really appreciate the moment and the dress!

I hope you find my wedding dress shopping experience helpful. Please let me know in the comment below, your Wedding dress shopping experience!

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HOW I FOUND MY WEDDING DRESS IN 15 MINUTES

Happy Wedding Dress Shopping!

xoxo,

Christina

 

 

 

Our Dream Wedding – March 21, 2017

The most important part of our wedding was exchanging vows and becoming husband and wife. After being a couple of nearly 9 years, Ralph and I finally tied the knot. We wed on National Forest (March 21st, 2017) and planted a tree to symbolize our union and love for each other and the environment. We are so fortunate to have found one another and grateful to be able to spend the rest of our lives together. Special thank you to our parents, maid of honor, best man, and guest for sharing this special day with us. Here are the pictures of our special day.