Ma Bella Vita

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Fortunate Fridays!

Hello my dear followers!

Where did the week go? My apologies that I am just posting this at this time. Post should have been up this morning but life took over.

Anyways, here I am to share the highlights of my week and blend that with the things that I felt fortunate for during the past 7 days. And here we go:

1. A belated father's day celebration with family last Saturday --- tons of food, dancing, and a whole lot of family talk. My sister also invited one of her best friends (whom I love) and we were able to have a pretty awesome conversation. Is always nice seeing family together under one same roof. We had quite the fiesta (as typical Dominicans).

2. Having the courage to pursue the things that I am passionate about and making a living from them (as oppose to settling) -- God knows this takes courage but as the saying goes, "jump and the net will appear". This may sound cliche and I didn't quite believe it for some time but is true.

3. Learning to absolutely LOVE my own company again -- after my last relationship came to a close, I struggled to get myself "back together" (I still want to write the post about this. Feel it can help some of my readers). I thought the day would never come but I am finally learning to love myself and my life again to the fullest. As the saying goes "it is better to be alone than be with someone that makes you feel alone". I don't know what the future brings or whom I will end up with. All I know is that I believe in love and I welcome it with open arms. Until the love of my life shows up I am learning to make myself myself happy and love the life I am creating. 

4. Being laser focused on my career and business -- I've been spending a good amount of time lately not only working on being the best employee I can be and making my clients happy but also in developing the skills that will make me excel at what I do. This is super exciting to me and I feel quite blessed to have the available resources to make myself professionally better each and every day.

5. Last but not least: Free Kayaking in Manhattan --- one of my besties (Hi Jessica!) signed us up for some kayaking and although I almost cancelled (instructions said you "must" know how to swim) I went for it after reading there were life jackets involved. We had an awesome time despite getting yelled at by the guards for going too far a couple of times. It was a pretty fun day (sorry about the quality of the photos. I forgot my real camera so had to rely on our regular phones).

....after our Kayaking experience we decided to walk by trader joes but on the way there we passed by a Japanese place my friend loves so we decided to stop for some Japanese Dumplings:

...Firs time having these, and hopefully not the last. So delicious.

And finally, other Yummy foods ate this week:

Grilled salmon, Shrimp, Veggies

Chicken Fajitas (homemade)

Have you guys tried these? They're amazing

...and that was my week in a nutshell + the awesome things I feel grateful for and don't take for granted.

What was the highlight of your week? Have you ever tried Kayaking?

Thanks for reading.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Fortunate Fridays! {tales of a pretty awesome week, plus tons of pictures}

Good day my loves.

We have made it to the weekend! I've had quite the busy week (what's new?!) and wasn't able to post most but I made a decision to at least make it in here for my Fortunate Friday series. How was your week?

Here are some of the things that happened to me this week which I feel fortunate for:

1. Awesome book finds. So, I listen to a few really good podcasts (i'm writing a post on that very soon) and I've been getting some pretty cool book recommendations. Needless to say, I have been spending some time ordering and picking up books from my local library (one of my favorite places in the world). Here is my "books in queue" stack:

The One Thing (reading now)
The Four Pillars of Investing (pending)
21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires (read)
The Women's Guide to Successful Investing (pending)
The Confidence Code (pending)
The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received (read)

And here is what I am currently reading (I am hooked on this book):

2. Jillian Michael's DVD 6-Week 6-Pack: I started the week with a made-up mind to incorporate this DVD in to my life for the next 6 weeks. Monday was day one. I almost felt like throwing up during the first workout but is getting easier. Has anyone used this one?

3. Work I am passionate about and the ability to make it work: I say this a lot but I am thankful that things are falling in to place slowly but surely. Things had been scary at first but lately I have been feeling so full of life an excited to get to work as I wake up every morning. I feel like I am dreaming sometimes. For anyone out there hesitant to follow their passion, please reach out to me and I can share my personal perspective on this topic. 

4. Spending time with my dad on his birthday: It was my dad's birthday yesterday so we went out for a birthday dinner. He is a fan of seafood so he choose the infamous Red Lobster. As usual, he had his seafood platter and I opted for some chicken tacos as I was not really in the mood for seafood. The tacos were pretty good. Spending time with family, and my dad whom I love so much, was truly priceless.

Don't these look good:

We HAD to embarrass him as the staff sang him happy birthday.
...that chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream was pretty delicious (whats a bday without cake?!)

 Some of the family (grandma joined us!):

5. Last but not least -- An amazing fourth of July weekend with amazing friends: I have to admit that towards the end of last week I was feeling a little down on myself as I had no set plans for the "big and exciting" 4th of July weekend. Thankfully, some 'serendipitous' and 'spontaneous' plans appeared in my life and I had one of the best weekends I've had in a very long time. I kept telling myself "live a little" and it just made me realize that I work so much that sometimes I forget to live and have fun with people I care about and that care about me. I am now working on "living a little" more often.

...It all started with a trip to PinkBerry with one of my best friends (Hi! Yosi!)

What she had:

What I had:

...we then wondered the streets of NYC, people watching and such. We ended up at 42nd street which is the capital of CRAZY (so many people around. I had forgotten how insane busy that area is).

Decided to play along and become a tourist during my time downtown. Lets not even go in to the fact that I've lived about a 40 minute train ride away from the city for 20 years and counting. I should really take advantage of the City Life more often:

We got hungry so we arrived at one of my favorite restaurants -- Havana Central:

..We weren't very hungry so opted for some appetizers (shrimp, feta & spinach, and cheese empanadas- highly recommend) PLUS some delicious sangria made to order right at our table (also highly recommended):

...amazed at the waiter's skills as he made our drink (he was also handsome, friendly, and hitting on my friend):

...we then ran in to some friends and of course had to take a picture and then proceeded to chat for hours on end.

By the time we headed home it was past midnight so we got to welcome the 4th of July right in the middle of times square. Cool stuff.

[that was my Friday-going into-Saturday last week]

On Saturday during the day I met up with another good friend of mine. We went for a walk, talked a whole lot catching up on life and then ended up at a pretty delicious restaurant in Harlem (full review coming soon):

Hi Jess! 

On Sunday I kept it low key. Went to the gym with my bestie:

...and then spent some quality time with my niece whom I love so much:

And that's all folks. That was my week in a nutshell. What are your plans for the weekend? what are YOU feeling particularly thankful for lately?


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid Week Motivation: My Current Health & Fitness Routine

Hello everyone!

It is July 1st! Can you believe it?! Lets take some time and enjoy the view.

Felt this would be the perfect occasion to bring back the "Mid Week Motivation" series (if you missed the previous posts search "Mid Week Motivation" on the search bar to your right).

Today I want to chat about what I am currently doing for my health, fitness, and lets be honest- my sanity! I don't know about you but maintaining a fitness routine helps me be more focused, motivated, excited, and disciplined with pretty much everything going on in my life. As the saying goes, when in doubt, work out!


Honestly, I am not doing anything crazy. For the past several months (pretty much since the beginning of the year) I've kept pretty consistent with the cardio portion of my workouts. During the past month or so, I have been incorporating weights and strength training in to my routine, as noted in this post.

CARDIO: So basically, 5-6 times per week I am at the gym. I have found that hitting the gym at around 11:00 am-12:00 pm on most days is what works for me the best (I currently work from home during the first half of my day and then head out to my other job in the late afternoons). Find the perfect time that can work for you and make it happen. Remember that all you need is at least 30 minutes of high intense cardio. 

My routine is currently at 45-50 minutes plus a cool down. I use the elliptical for about 15-20 minutes and the treadmill for the remainder. 

I proudly wear my Spartan shirt to the gym when I want to feel fierce. Little do people know that race almost killed me. But I made it out alive :-D

WEIGHTS: I do workouts incorporating weight training and strength training about 2-3 times per week. Either Monday, Wednesday, Friday OR Tuesdays and Thursdays depending on what I may have going on in a particular week. I have been using my workout DVDs but strongly considering signing up for a gym class incorporating weights at a local gym. I enjoy working out at home but it would be nice to  break the routine a bit, and meet new people while I'm at it.

Post-workout shameless selfie


I dislike being strict with what I eat or denying myself anything. I simply made a decision to make a conscious effort to eat something that is good for my body each time I eat a meal. I currently eat 3 times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) PLUS snacks whenever I am hungry. I don't believe in starving to death waiting for a next meal- that's something that can simply set you up for failure. If you are hungry, eat something! Just remember to make a conscious effort to make it healthy.

I cook, I bake, and I love to eat {if you think I'm lying just scroll back to prior posts, there is a good amount of food involved, and more to come}.

Restriction is not for me and allowing myself to eat well is something that has worked for me tremendously in terms of getting fit, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping cravings at bay (don't get me wrong, I still get cravings but definitely not as much as before). Plus, I never feel like I am depriving myself.

Just yesterday I was watching a show about this "new" diet that allows beer and drinks in moderation. Some idiot on the TV show (one of the hosts) said "oh wow that is genius". I am sorry, but having things in moderation is something people have known for....ever....some people just choose to ignore it seeking the easy way out. I know the word idiot sounds harsh but I'm just being honest. It's been common sense for a while. 

Ok peoples, thanks for reading. What is YOUR current fitness routine? Or, if you plan to start one soon, what are the plans??


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Absolutely Awesome Almond Butter- Banana Bread Squares

One of my favorite things to bake is Banana bread. I may not share that much here on the blog but is one of my "most commonly baked items". Although I have a sweet tooth, I do make a conscious effort to make my treats as "healthy" as possible. This past weekend I cached the baking bug and decided to check the web for yummy {and somewhat healthy} recipes. I found this one on the Cooking Light website which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Once  I realized I had the ingredients in my pantry, I got to work.

Another thing I love is almond butter and so, I adapted the recipe to include 1/3 cup of almond butter. Guys, this was the best idea I've had in a very long time. Absolute Heaven.


Prep Time:
Click on the Cooking Light recipe above for exact measurements. Didnt see the point of copy/pasting on here. I followed the exact recipe except for the fact that I added the 1/3 cup of almond butter. 

To the Oven We Go at 350 degrees {couldn't find my favorite banana bread pan so a random pan had to do}:

...thanks to the pan, instead of baking regular banana bread I had to make the best out of what I was able to find. I had the "bright" idea of turning this  calling this recipe banana bread squares and prepped them in to snack bags to have them as a treats throughout the work week:

Perfect timing as I ran out of my granola bars, so now I have a nice home-made replacement :)

I may or may not recommend smearing a nice dollop of almond butter on top of these before you eat them and while you're at it, pour yourself a cup of almond milk. 

You're welcome. 

Tell me, what is YOUR favorite thing to bake?


Monday, June 29, 2015

Life Hack: How to clean your rug if you don't have a vacuum cleaner

Hey everyone!

Happy Monday. Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I was able to hang out with friends on Friday but other than that I was low key at my apartment simply working and slowly but surely getting through "deep cleaning" my whole place.

Today I want to share a "life hack" I learned from my momma.

So, this past weekend I had a guest at my apartment {who happens to be my best friend} she did what real friends do and pointed out at how ridiculously filthy the rug in my bedroom was.

I kind of knew this considering my vacuum cleaner broke down about a month ago and I haven't had a chance to get myself a new one. Also, considering the experience I've had with 'cheap' vacuum cleaners, I decided I need to get something of quality next time I make such a purchase (whenever that happens because seriously, who wants to go vacuum cleaner shopping?!).

So anyways, I remembered something my moms taught me growing up- when you don't have a vacuum available, use a broom! Hello!! I immediately apologized to my best friend whom simply laughed at me because she knows I am cheap frugal. She was probably thinking the reason I don't have a good vacuum cleaner is because of that same reason. She may or may not be right.

So anyways, I got to "brooming" and this was the end result:

Not perfect but sure beats whatever situation I had going on before!! And by the way, this was quite the arm workout. Killed two birds with one stone.

The trick is to lightly brush the broom on the surface of the rug without too much pressure as you brush everything out. 

My plan for the rest of the year is to actually "deep clean" my entire apartment. I am calling it "the Zen Reorganization Project". I want to throw out the old or the extra and just keep the necessary stuff. Sometimes we accumulate so may things it can get out of hand.

I am usually VERY organized and try to make everything look spotless at all times. I cant do anything in a messy apartment! However, lately things have been getting a bit out of hand. Specially because I have been working so much. But, as always, no complaints. I am actually excited to rearrange my whole apartment and get through all the "nuts and crannies" God know how long that's going to take me! Lets just say my bathroom needs a serious intervention. 

What cleaning "life hack" can you share with me? Would love to hear some ideas! Also, any quality vacuum recommendations please send them my way. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wholesome and Delicious Saturday Morning Pancakes

Good morning my dear readers,

Happy Saturday. Last night I had so much fun. Was able to go out and hang out with one of my favorite people in the world- my best friend. We celebrated a new accomplishment in her career and had quite the good time at Local 138, a pretty cool and low key bar in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (with pretty awesome drink specials...umm $3.00 drinks?! count me in).

But anyways, enough about that. This morning I woke up craving pancakes. My friend stayed over (she may or may not have drank too much) and so, what better way to spend some quality time with her and chat about the adventures of the night than over some delicious pancakes, eggs, and coffee.


I've been substituting cashew or almond milk instead of regular milk for my pancakes and let me tell makes everything so much fluffier and better. 

Prep Time:

Mix it all up- until smooth & silky:

1/4 cup of the batter over low-medium heat, make sure skillet is hot, once it bubbles flip it:

Final Product...

...Dont forget to add some nice fruit and awesome coffee with soy milk on the side ;)

Bon Appetite!

What are your plans for this weekend?! Hope you all spend time doing some fun stuff and/or simply in the company of loved ones.

Thanks for reading!