Epic Birthday: Exploring Havana, Cuba!

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It’s a beautiful day for travel inspiration, and I’m here to get you hooked on Cuba! If you have an interest in history, architecture, or culture – this is a great place to visit; if you have an interest in gorgeous views, exploring, and bright and colorful building – this is a great place for you! Overall, Cuba has made me top 5 list of places to explore and I can’t wait to visit once more [once the political feuds calm down – bummer] through the help of Norwegian Cruise Lines!

I am extremely fortunate to say that I was able to enjoy my birthday in Cuba and extremely lucky that I was able to convince my sisters to join along in the festivities [granted it didn’t take much to convince them… it was really an immediate YES from everyone]! So after buckling down and confirming our amazing trip through Dreamtrips, we began to pack – 5 months later…. But we eventually made it!

Welcome to Heaven – err, I mean HavanaIMG_2099

For our first day in Havana, we enjoyed a LARGE breakfast on board the ship before going through customs. Cereal, fruits, cheese, pastries, and coffee galore – we don’t skimp on our meals when there’s a full day of adventure ahead.

Customs was much simpler than I had originally assumed, we each went into a booth to present our passports, got a stamp and were on our way to the exchange station. Easy-peasie!

The grand day of my 21st: Viñales, Cuba

I’ve always wondered what Cuba would be like. Run down and rugged like the news tells us, or historically well-kept with secrets of gorgeous views (totally unbeknownst to the world) – it was the latter.

Tobacco Farm

After boarding our excursion bus we made our way to our first stop, about 1.5 hours inland to a tobacco farm where we got to see tobacco leaves drying and a skilled cigar master roll a few as we passed around a cup of cafesito [cuban coffee].

After purchasing a bundle of 40 cigars for our loved ones back home, we went back onto the farm and tried some delicious sugar cane – with a splash of rum. Delicious! Then back onto the bus we went for our next stop about an hours away to a gem of a location.

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Enjoying the scenery in Viñales with my sister Perla

The second stop of this excursion was in a small town with a grand view (I mean, look at that!) where we enjoyed an amazing lunch on a cliff-side with a few friendly visitors that included rowdy pigs (fun story about them later) and friendly cats who loved the attention we willingly gave them. With a 3-course meal of local delicacies, we all truly immersed ourselves in the scenery as we were all pleasantly bewildered by the grand view. We spotted a few cowboys riding their horsed down the steep cliff-side to the smaller towns within the valley and continued to gaze at the lush mountainsides behind us.

Remember the pigs? Our rowdy little friends? Well these cuties made a stop at our deck for lunch right before their bath time – and boy did they need their bath. As cute and pink as they were, we weren’t expecting them to be covered in mud. Yup – pink on top and muddy on the bottom. Surely we realized this as they brushed up against a fellow travelers purse and left their ‘gift’ alongside. Soon enough, the farmer next door came on over and shooed them back to their home for a bath. Yet, I still want a micro pig.

Our next stop was in a busier town, with a great market with local vendors. I treated myself to some new artwork because why not, its my birthday 🙂 After walking around for about an hour we went on our way to the last stop of the day – the rum factory for Havana Club! This factory was about the size of my childhood home, with about 10 workers labeling and packaging the bottles of rum. The hustle and bustle of the room increased as the tour group of 30 walked in, so we made our way over to the shop next door for samples and postcards.

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Las Joyas – my best friends for life!

 

This jam packed day of adventure was the best gift I could have asked for – yet we celebrated once more on board the ship with a magnificent dinner spread where we ate for about 2 hours [told you we don’t mess around when it comes to food]. The best way to end any celebration, is with family – and that’s exactly what we did. Cheers to amazing travels, and even more amazing sisters to share these fun adventures with!

Be sure to check back in next week for a continuation of this post as I delve into our trip so that YOU can plan your own Cuban adventure!

XOXO, my very best wishes –

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Working Women Have Their OWN Space in Gilbert, AZ

Welcome to ThriveAZ – a space for women to work alongside like-minded individuals and empower each other while doing so. A space – to create! I mean, for me it definitely was [check out this fun new piece I made during my “work” break]!
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Let’s Get S**t Done!

Now if you’re like me and you have a habit of being easily distracted in your own home while trying to get work done – then you NEED to visit ThriveAZ and seriously consider joining!

I spent the second half of my work day at Thrive earlier this week and cannot believe how productive I was – I mean really – I never focus like I did at Thrive! I am not one to force my friends to do anything I wouldn’t do, so this is me being real and recommending something I believe in. Thrive is a community built around strong women, and I believe in that.

So, are you anything like me when it comes to being productive? If so, take a look at Thrive – I promise you’ll love their space!

Below are the amenities included in your membership, and for only $400 for the year you get access to all these goodies + and more!

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never focus like I did at Thrive! I am not one to force my friends to do anything I wouldn’t do, so this is me being real and recommending something I believe in. Thrive is a community built around strong women, and I believe in that.

So, what do you think? Ready to take the next step and visit Thrive? If so, let me know and I’d be more than happy to meet you there for one of their Wine & Whine nights!

XOXOged!

Upcoming Workshops and Markets

Good Mornings you beautiful humans!

2018 has been off to an amazing start – I set my intentions to focus more time and effort into the shop side of Sunday Mornings and MUCH more time into transitioning this blog into a DIY + Tutorial blog (more on that coming soon). Alongside this whirlwind of a new year, I have been much more involved in the communities around me and will be hosting several workshops + selling at various markets in the next few weeks [eek, very exciting!].

See below for the dates and location of the planned events through April [as of now]:

 

February 8th, 2018 – Workshop

Gilbert, Arizona @ The Art House

https://arthouseclasses.com/products/embroidery-101-workshop-arizona-love

 

February 10th, 2018 – Workshop

Avondale, Arizona @ Universal Cup Coffee

https://www.facebook.com/UniversalCupCoffee/

 

February 15th, 2018 – Workshop

Phoenix, Arizona @ PinspirationAZ

https://www.verlocal.com/pages/payment_page?listing_id=22664

 

February 17th, 2018 – Workshop

Phoenix, Arizona @ The Farm at South Mountain

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-embroidery-plant-edition-tickets-41922475252?aff=efbeventtix

 

March 31st, 2018 – Market

Chandler, Arizona @ Rawhide Event Center

Pinology Market

 

April 7th, 2018 – Market

Gilbert, Arizona @ The Art House

https://www.facebook.com/thearthousegilbert/

 

Wishing you the very best that 2018 has to offer,

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XOXO,

Crystal

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Ready to Kick-start the New Year?

Welcome back Loves!

It sure has been quite some time since my last post, so please forgive me. Senior year has definitely taken my by surprise and I admit to stepping away from the blog as I focus on my LAST year of college! (In case I decide to get a Master’s, more on that later).

While I have figuratively been away, I have had some time to think about how quickly this year has gone by. I know it’s cliche and seemingly true each year, but 2017 in particular has flown by! So I got to thinking, and decided it would be my personal mission this nee year to embrace each day and make 2018 count! First step – focus on my health.

With that I mean I need to take a break from my fast food cravings (no matter how delicious they taste in the moment, they don’t taste as great once you know the harm they do to your body *major sad face*). Now rather than doing a full recap of my life over the last 4 months since my last post – that will be coming soon since there’s been plenty happening – I want to kick start the 2018 planning by inviting you all to ride the health-kick train with me!

Ready to ride the health-kick train?

Month of Meal Planning

 

Personally, I’m a ‘planner’ and it’s easiest for me to keep track of, well, everything by writing it all down [and erasing it to make it look neater] and storing it on my desk to see every day. Because of this, I have created a **drum roll** CALENDAR! I honestly didn’t know how to go about it at first and it is not perfect, but I am so excited to share it with you all here: Monthly Meal Plan.

To make life a tad easier (since meal planning is not easy) I’ve formatted the calendar into weekly quadrants so they can be used as a note taking page and work for years to come!

Are you ready to start the New Year and kick-start your healthy routine? I would love to read any suggestions you have about meal planning or even your favorite recipes! Share your ideas with me by commenting below!

I’ve missed you all! Thank you for reading –

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*Freebie* Embroidery Template!

Good Morning Loves!

It has definitely been quite some time since my last post (I apologize!). This Summer has definitely been one for the books – with travel, crafts, moving, and a new job – I’ve been swamped! But never fear, I am back and this time with Freebies! So I have a new weekly post coming your way which will always be tagged as Freebie Friday – If there are any requests on free digital aids, comment below and I’ll do my best to create those for you!

New Goodies IGI figured, what better way to come back to the blog than offer a sweet treat to my readers to share a slice of what I’ve been occupying myself with? SO – for anyone who has noticed my recent obsession with embroidery, now is the time to give it a go for yourself.

If you’d like to see some of the pieces I have already made feel free to checkout our Etsy! Give it a like and share with your friends, I’ll even include a discount code below for all of you for an extra 10% off any purchase.

Thinking about taking up a new craft? How about embroidery! Practice your running stitch with this FREE template!  Arizona Love

 

I can’t tell you all how happy it makes me to come back to the blog and read your comments – thank you all for the support!

Etsy 10% off code: THANKS10

Have a wonderful weekend loves – I’ll be back with more freebies next week!

XOXO

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Peruvian Adventure!

This has been an adventure – to say the least! I was fortunate enough to travel to Peru this week with my college on a group trip. From Cusco to Machu Picchu, and off to Puerto Maldonado’s rainforest! We are currently flying to Puerto Maldonado where we will be staying at the Inkaterra Field Station – I’ll have to share that experience with you all later this week once I return home to The Valley of the Sun.

Check out this adorable baby alpaca? The little cutie I was holding was only a week old and the one next to me was two weeks old. I actually began to shed tears because I was THAT happy!
A bus tour ended with us visiting Sexy Woman hill – well, I don’t actually know the real name but that’s what the guide told us was the Americanized name. It’s hard to tell how large the doorway is – but it’s double my size!I bought a few gorgeous landscape art pieces by local artists and can’t wait to hang them!And look at these babies!!!!!

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts 💕

New in Store!

Guess what, Loves?! We have some great NEW additions to our shop – feel free to give them a look and let us know what you love! I’ve been working on some new goodies for some time now and have just found the PERFECT spot to showcase my work – keep an eye for that to be reveled shortly (as soon as I make exclusive pieces).

Can you say, cacti-obsessed? I know!

I would greatly appreciate your help if you took some time to favorite our Etsy Shop and share it amongst your friends, we’d love to share our work with more amazing humans!

XOXO

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Pastries and Pink

Gooood Afternoon Loves!

This weekend was  jam-filled with work and eventually led me to being quite filled with sweets! I started my first training day at this gorgeous cake-house in Scottsdale and my pastry-chef dreams were reignited! I mean, how can you NOT fall in love with this spot? Macarons, cupcakes, gorgeous custom cakes, boba and more – count me in!

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Macarons, cupcakes, gorgeous custom cakes, boba and more – count me in!

I’ve created two beautiful stock photos of vines found at Ruze Cake House and adjusted their brilliance to work as a simple backdrop for any stock photo need!

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My first day was amazing – and I truly cannot wait to go back this Sunday for my FIRST shift on my own [scary stuff but I’m pumped]! I mean, really, check out the gorgeous backdrop we have in-house for all of our aesthetic-loving customers.

IMG_8457SO – if you’re ever in Old Town Scottsdale and craving a scrumptious macaron – this is the place to be!

 

XOXO

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Pops of Color in Cacti

Have you been searching for a fun way to add color to your walls or to just have a fun DIY girls night? Then this is the perfect craft for you!

This craft sort of sprouted accidentally as I noticed I had several blank canvas piling up on my desk [craft supply hoarders, I know]. With our pop-up shop at The Farm the following weekend, I figured I should spruce up the plain white canvas with some BRIGHT colors to attract attention and hopefully some buyers ( ;

So here’s the step-by-step with some freedom!

Supplies:

  • Any size canvas (I used 8×10 pieces from a bulk pack at Michael’s)
  • Acrylic Paint in an array of colors
    • Honestly, I had several neon colors laying around and figured I’d put them to use. Find your paint, and start arranging them in fun groups of colors you like!
  • Various paint brushes
  • Pencil

 

Creative Freedom starts here

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As you can tell, I chose about 5 colors of paint and used them for each piece. By having a vibrant background it allows the true piece to stand out – perfect since I love my plants!

All you really have to do is sketch an outline of something you like (I found the Opuntia and Saguaro to be the easiest) and just go with it! Don’t stress about perfection, let your creativity flow!

I’ll be sure to add templates for paintings in a future post, but for now – let your mind wander and try painting your favorite plants or landscapes (I promise, it’s relaxing).

Have a creativity filled day Loves!

XOXO

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The BEST of Seattle – The Emerald City

If Seattle isn’t on your bucket list of  ‘U.S. cities to explore’ add it now! Coined the Emerald City for the vast greenery that meets the Pacific Ocean. Today however, I am not going to talk about nature, it’s all about downtown – the urban jungle and why this place makes it to my top 10.

Quick Guide to Downtown

  • Parking
  • Pike Place
  • Waterfront
  • Space Needle
  • Monorail

Parking wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, found a great spot at the mall, Westlake Center (underground public parking). The cost of pricing was typical for a big city- $20/day. The mall itself had several levels of retail space, including typical anchor stores like JC Penny, Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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Iconic Pike Place

Five minutes from Westlake Center is one of Seattle’s top attractions, Pike Place Public Market. This bustling farmers’ market is filled with handmade goodies, gallery worthy artwork, fresh seafood, fruit, beautiful flowers, pet toys, and quirky trinkets galore! Make sure you stick around to watch a tourist complete the perfect catch from the playful fish vendors. Visiting from out of state? They can ship anything. It is also home to the original Starbucks.

Tourists beware* Plan on spending HOURS browsing the hundreds of goods and chatting with the talented artists and craftsmen eager to chat. I didn’t keep track, but I am pretty sure it took me over two hours and I know I missed a handful of booths.

The Waterfront

The walk to the waterfront takes about 15-20 minutes. There’s a ton of steps or at least it felt that way… and unfortunately they’ll still be there on your way back! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

There are however handful of ‘stops’ you can make on your way down to keep you entertained. The ‘gum wall’ is there ready for some epic selfies, local breweries, and multiple galleries, you can pop-into to break up the walk.

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Waterfront park is sandwiched between the Seattle Aquarium and Pier 57. The aquarium has a package deal that includes a cruise, but they also have an ‘a la carte’ price list, see below or follow the link for all their attractions and fees.

Aquarium only

Adult (ages 13 & over) $24.95
Youth (ages 4-12)* $16.95
Child (ages 3 & under) Free

I have always loved ferris wheels and I couldn’t pass up the ‘Great Wheel’ on the Seattle waterfront. The views are spectacular. The attendant gave about 3 go -arounds worth; it was nice to sit, relax, and soak up the city from 152 ft.

The Seattle Space Needle

It’s a given, you cannot visit Seattle and not see the Seattle Space Needle. Built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, the 600 ft+ landmark offers a 360 degree view of this captivating city. Bustling with people young and old, it is easy to see the fascination. Home to the Children’s Museum, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Science Museum, Museum of Pop Culture, you must set aside multiple days to see it all.

I’ve gone ahead and added links to each of the museums for your reference.

Monorail

Exhausted yet? I sure was. I recommend the monorail, conveniently built just steps from the Space Needle. What’s the cherry on the top? The monorail drops off at Westlake center, on the top floor of the mall right where I started!

Do you have any ‘must see’ attractions or restaurants in Seattle we should add to our list? If so, please do share your recommendations with us in the comments section below.

Until next time!