A Miami Rose Thanksgiving | Complete Guide to Holiday Hosting

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you’ve never done it before, can be a bit stressful. Making sure the house is presentable and the food is warm and tasty is no small feat, so to make sure everything gets done in time, planning is key.

A Thanksgiving Tale

In November 2014, when we first moved in to our new home, I took on the crazy task of hosting Thanksgiving for our family. We would normally have held the feast at my in-law’s house, but they had just recently sold their home and were in-between residences. So, I volunteered! I can’t believe I did it. I had amazing help from the family with cooking the traditional dishes, but there was one problem hanging over my head in the days leading up to Thanksgiving – my dining table had not arrived.

Not only was I supposed to host our immediate family, but friends as well, and needed to seat 12. How was I going to seat twelve people for one of the most important holiday feasts if I had no table? Needless to say, I was in a panic. I called the company where I had ordered the table from, and they said it was still in transit. Then I called again and it had been shipped to the delivery company. So I called the delivery company—mind you, this was the day before Thanksgiving. After an hour of getting transferred, and almost breaking down into tears when I told the dispatcher “How am I supposed to have Thanksgiving tomorrow with no table?!” (it was a man who, when he heard the tremor in my voice, probably went into a panic that I was going to have a meltdown), they were finally able to schedule the delivery for that very evening. Excellent!

Aside from the drama with the table, Thanksgiving that year was amazing. I wasn’t even sure how I had pulled it off with so much confusion going on with our move. Then, again in 2016 (a month after I had given birth) I hosted Thanksgiving again.  How did it go? It was awesome, for a second time. I knew that it wasn’t just luck, so I decided to figure out what I had done to make it such a success and share it with you all so you could do the same.

How do you win at Thanksgiving? Plan. Even if you’re a go-with-the-flow kind of person, this is the one time of year that you might want to consider mapping out a good game plan so you can actually enjoy the big holiday! This guide is full of just about everything you need to make Thanksgiving the best one yet. Whether your family has passed you the cooking baton or you’re preparing a spread for your friends, hosting your first Thanksgiving can seem a daunting task — but it doesn’t have to be! With a little bit of strategizing and a foolproof menu, you can pull off the big feast without a fuss.

Thanksgiving Guide

From turkey how-to’s to guest list planning and a detailed 3-week timeline, I’ve done all the research for you in this complete guide. 30+ pages of the best expert tips and foodspiration from Williams Sonoma, Food Network, Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit Magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, Delish, Real Simple Magazine, Whole Foods, The Kitchn, Camille Styles Entertaining, and more.

How do you get the full guide? Easy! Sign up for my mailing list below and it’s my gift to you to say THANK YOU. On this list, you will receive email updates from The Miami Rose to hear more about the relaunch, helpful new content, and even regular freebies. When you download the guide, let me know what you think by commenting below!

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Pregnancy & Parenting | Top 9 Pregnancy Apps

With the HUNDREDS of pregnancy apps out there, wading through all of them is a mission – I would know. During my pregnancy with Rose, I downloaded and tried out at least 50 various free apps so you don’t have to! From pregnancy tracking to massages and food delivery, here are my top nine pregnancy apps for making your life as easy as possible during those crazy (and wonderful) 40 weeks.

 

Pregnancy Apps

An overwhelming trend I found with so many pregnancy apps is the ever-present message boards. While message boards can be helpful when it’s 3 am and you need a quick answer for a burning question, or for a support group with other women who share your birth month, message boards should not be the backbone of the app. Unfortunately, most of the pregnancy apps that I came across relied heavily on their message board capabilities and really provided no other useful features that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Each app seemed to be a clone of the next: overloaded, off-topic (and many times, noticeably incorrect) message boards accompanied by basic weekly or monthly growth trackers. In a word, they were garbage – thank goodness they were all free. My top three favorites are The Bump, Nurture, and Ovia Pregnancy, and here’s exactly why:

1200x630bfThe Bump

This was my number one for so many reasons. Every time I opened my phone, I clicked on that little icon and read something new. Your home feed immediately opens to your personalized page with your week at the very top. You can click to read all about your baby’s development (and your own body changes), 3D baby view, weekly reminders, and easy sharing buttons to send to your partner or a loved one. The home feed also displays a healthy number of informed and timely articles sprinkled with the occasional one-question survey or relevant message board topics that are trending. They are constantly replenishing with new content that is backed by sound research, as well as helpful guides and product reviews with the latest new baby trends. And, it’s PRETTY to look at.

The next feed features real answers, which you could consider to be their message boards, but it is a more structured and informed format. Instead of discussion topics, you are able to select your category and search for or ask a question. Women then respond with their mom answers. What I really like about this Q&A feature is the ability to report certain replies, and their strict etiquette policy – no trolls here! They also have resident experts (bios and credentials included) who answer as many questions as possible, so you know you are getting answers from trusted professionals, not just other moms. While experienced moms are usually right (yea we are!), it’s always smart to get the opinion of a physician or specialist.

Finally, the last page of the app is for your registry. You can link your registry from BabiesRUs, Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, Walmart, Target, The Land of Nod, Babyearth, Crowdrise, and Buy Buy Baby to manage through The Bump app. You can also explore their catalog of over 10,000 items from all of your favorite major retailers, accompanied by research from The Bump moms. Then, once your registry is ready, you can share it easily from the app!

Additional features: weekly bump photo album, weekly baby photo album, community forums, explore option, multiple child stages feed.

1200x630bf-4Nurture

My second-favorite app here. It’s just as pretty to look at as The Bump, but different in design. Your home feed is, again, customized to your week and day, and shows a realistic (but not gross) graphic of your little one. Every day it prompts you to complete your daily log, which serves as both a tracker and a reminder – sometimes I forget I need to drink all that water! It’s a simple check-yes-or-no task that takes less than 30 seconds to fill out. Super user friendly, super helpful for tracking prenatals, water, sleep, weight, exercise, kegels, spotting, cramps, morning sickness, and even your mood. You can also select to update your medical log with info like fundal height, heart rate, blood pressure, baby’s heart rate, cervix state, or an ultrasound photo, but that’s not required for the daily log. Based on your answers, it gives you personalized comparative insights into your recordings and charts for tracking your progress. I love a good chart, don’t you? The home feed also touts helpful professional articles, just like The Bump, and fun community polls, like “Do you consider yourself a healthy eater?” (I try! But I love pizza too much).

The Nurture community page is full of discussion groups that you can join. While this may seem similar to the message boards problem I was talking about above, it’s NOT. Their categories are so nicely and neatly organized that my OCD self is quite fine with it. You also don’t see the feed of every single group, only the ones you choose to join or the app assigns to you (for example, based on your due date, the app will enroll you in the group for your birth month). So, if I don’t want my community feed filled up with all of the unsavory details of your pregnancy sex life, or in-law drama Q&A, then it won’t be. And, most of all, I love their group rules: Be kind, and have fun! Anyone who does not follow this one simple rule will be asked to leave our community.

Their next hot feature is a cool and fun one – timelapse! Need I say more? The app guides you through the process and creates an album of all of your progress photos for you. Want to see your belly grow before your eyes? Take a picture of your bump every week and upload it to the Nurture app.

Finally, their alerts are quite helpful, although they usually tend to point out the obvious. If you haven’t logged in any exercise (guilty!) it will alert you to go for a walk. Bummer, I know, but like I said, helpful. It has notifications, the ability to schedule new appointments, and add reminders for yourself (like a question you have for the doctor, or a new item you want to check out). Another plus? Your partner can join in on the fun and link to your account in the app by downloading Nurture and signing up.

Additional features: health profile, dashboard, checklists, export data pdf, care team contacts, bookmarks.

 

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Ovia Pregnancy

While Ovia has the same main home feed features as The Bump and Nurture apps like helpful articles, weekly growth updates, and cute real time feet-and-hand size trackers, it isn’t as chock full of information as the other two. It is also not as visually appealing, which plays an important role in my book. While it isn’t ugly, it falls short of The Bump app. However, Ovia has several features that The Bump does not. You can take a quiz about your health to customize your home feed to display relevant topics to you, such as general health, prenatal nutrition, C-section, midwifery, hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes prevention & management, preterm history, short cervix, daily & weekly progesterone tracking, mental health, patient advocacy, and breastfeeding prep.

Their second feed is a personalized calendar that automatically updates what week you are on, and where you can record doctor’s appointments, notes, milestones, and add data, such as mood, blood pressure, weight, activity, symptoms, sleep, nutrition, and medications. While the main feed reminds you daily to take your prenatal, you are also able to add detailed information daily to the calendar, which is very handy when it comes time to share things with your doctor or midwife. I don’t know about you, but sometimes they go through the motions so quickly at appointments that I forget to mention a symptom I was curious about, or a medication I took two weeks ago. Add that to “pregnancy brain”, and you’re just walking through life in a fog. This app eliminates that problem and makes it easy to keep track – although, it does not prompt you every day like Nurture does and isn’t as user friendly.

Additional features: community feed, MyQ insights, kick counter, contraction timer, food safety lookup, medication safety lookup, symptoms lookup, goals.

 

Make-Your-Life-Better Apps

Who doesn’t want a life-improving app? Well, these have it, if you ask me. From registries to shopping to stress reduction, these four apps have definitely made my life better.

1200x630bf-1Babylist

When deciding what I wanted to get for baby Rose, I came across the problem that I wanted several different things from several different sites! With Babylist, you can put anything onto your baby registry from any store, big or small. You can even ask to be gifted help & favors, like home-cooked meals, second-hand baby clothes, or help walking your pup. This registry also helps to support indie shops and makers by allowing you to add unique gifts that you wouldn’t be able to find at a big-box store. I myself had a few items on my registry from Etsy! Plus, we all know the rules about not asking for cash, but what if that’s what you REALLY need? Don’t judge! With Babylist you can start that college fund (or diaper fund) with help from your village – they transfer the cash straight to your bank account. They also provide free insert cards for your baby shower invitations, and can link or transfer items to your Babylist if you have another registry. I have to say, I also really appreciate their guides and “best of” lists. They are always up-to-date and they give you great sample baby registries with distinct themes or budget guidelines. Downside? No completion discount, since Babylist gathers items from every single store imaginable. Upside – install the widget icon to your internet browser and you can easily add any item on the internet to your Babylist.

1200x630bf-3Zulily

Hold onto your PayPal accounts ladies – this one is dangerous! I can’t tell you how many times Max asked me “What’s this Zulily PayPal charge AGAIN?!” But the deals are JUST. TOO. GOOD. Believe it or not, I’m not a serial shopper. It’s hard to believe, right? I mean, isn’t that all bloggers do: shop? Nope. You have just met a lady who doesn’t particularly like to shop unless there’s a real reason. Sale? Nah, I don’t really need anything right now. But this app will change the game. Everything is on major sale, and the prices are too good to resist. While generally I discovered the quality of off-brand women’s clothes that I ordered from here were unwearable, the kid’s pop up shops for clothes, shoes, toys, and accessories were top-notch name brands that I know and love. Gymboree, Rosie Pope, bon bebe, Leighton Alexander, Carter’s, Aden & Anais, Kidkraft, Chicco, Motorola, Disney, Boxed, Melissa & Doug, and hundreds more, all at up to 70% off. Yes, they are flash sales that last about 3 days each, so you have to check the app every couple of days for new deals and brands. If you wait too long, the item might sell out or the sale could expire, so it takes smart planning and knowing what you really do need to use this app effectively. Otherwise, you will buy everything.

colorfy-iconColorfy

Any pregnant woman knows that the hardest part of being pregnant is all the time you will spend in the doctor’s office waiting room (usually without a good phone signal). The stress, the anxiety, the anticipation; WHYYY??!! Here’s my easy fix: coloring! Enter Colorfy, my favorite coloring app – no wifi or signal needed. Coloring is for kids, you say? Well, it turns out coloring can be beneficial for adults — namely for its de-stressing power. The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity. When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres, says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala. “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” In simplest terms, coloring has a de-stressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries.

While there are tons of free coloring apps out there, I have tried them all and this one is my go-to. They update their designs seasonally, and offer you the chance to upgrade for more pages. But with at least 50 free designs that are updated all the time, I didn’t find the purchase necessary. Categories include basic, florals, animals, famous, messages, cats, lifestyle, gardens, patterns, mandalas, oriental, exotic, places, fun, zodiac signs, special dates, authors, and weekly volumes that contain seasonal specials. All you have to do is select your page, tap to color, and save or discard at your discretion! Before you know it, the nurse will be calling your name to go pee in that cup.

Additional features: draw mandala, take a photo, messages & more, get inspired gallery, virtual gallery.

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Instagram’s official layout app is simple, easy to use, and convenient. Instead of knowing ahead of time how many photos you want to use ahead of time and pre-selecting a rigid layout, you actually select the photos FIRST (maximum 9 at a time). Then, Layout shows you several configuration options to choose from, all of which can be edited, moved, flipped, scaled, and rearranged at the touch of your finger. Not sure you like a photo in the configuration? Replace it. Want to change something to mirror image to complete the aesthetic you are going for? Done. Borders, or no borders? Your choice. This app is a winner – that’s a no-brainer.

 

Services Apps

These apps are the ultimate indulgence for any pregnant woman. They are luxuries that can quickly turn into monthly (or weekly) expenses – so be careful! Just remember, and keep telling yourself: YOU DESERVE THIS.

1024x1024srPostmates

If you are hit by nausea and food aversions in early pregnancy, OR just can’t imagine standing on your tired feet during your second and third trimesters in a hot, smelly kitchen, bending over and lifting and stirring just to make a dinner you aren’t really digging anyways, OR don’t even want to leave the house to pick up takeout, then a food delivery service is for you. My favorite is Postmates, but since you might not have that in your area, there are other alternatives like Uber Eats. What are these services, you ask? Well, depending on your location, the app displays restaurants and shops in your area that are available for delivery (soooooo many choices). You select your spot, order from their in-app menu, and a nearby driver picks up your food (or other items) and delivers them to your door. What I like about Postmates is that they constantly run promotions like free delivery, and you can even get things from the pharmacy or specialty stores like Office Max, PetSmart, or Best Buy. You can even rack up $$$ by sharing your sign-up link with friends. The downside? No cash – the app has to be hooked up to a form of payment, like Paypal or a credit card. It’s really easy to add tip, though, if you like.

logo-85cfd8371147731e0a4d32b3a79abd20-300x300Soothe

Their motto is “Massage Delivered To You”. Need I say more? Sign up, and get started. You can book a massage for one, couples massage, rebook a therapist you loved, or even get Soothe at work. Select from deep tissue, Swedish, sports massage, Pre-Natal (YEP – they have it as a real category!), male or female; 60, 90, or 120 minutes, and your date/time for your appointment. Set your location, pay through the app, and get ready to relax. It’s like massage on demand. Remember, ask your doctor before getting a Pre-Natal massage, and wait until after your first trimester.

 

 

Have you taken my mom survey? Take just five minutes to answer the questions in my survey  below to help me figure out how to best meet your needs and deliver helpful and fresh content that you can use in your daily lives.

Have your own ideas about motherhood? What’s not out there that you NEED in your life to help you rock at being a mom? What stigmas are you sick of seeing spread? Comment below to share your wisdom.

Coming soon:

  • Monday Weekly Planning worksheet
  • Mommy Schedule template (working/work from home/full time mom)
  • Universal Babysitter Data worksheet
  • Travel Prep checklist
  • Traveling with Baby: A Comprehensive Guide
  • Product Reviews
  • Top Products for Ages 3-6 Months, 6-9 Months, and 1 Year
  • Meal Planners for Pregnancy, Toddlers, and Family

…and more!

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pregnancy apps

Pregnancy & Parenting | Calling All Moms!

After determining my new focus in Rebranding & Finding My WHY, it’s time to take action. I can only be an authority on the things that I have experienced – therefore, I’m asking for your help in this mom survey.

Take just five minutes to answer the questions in my survey below to help me figure out how to best meet your needs and deliver helpful and fresh content that you can use in your daily lives.

Have your own ideas about motherhood? What’s not out there that you NEED in your life to help you rock at being a mom? What stigmas are you sick of seeing spread? Comment below to share your wisdom.

Coming soon:

  • Monday Weekly Planning worksheet
  • Mommy Schedule template (working/work from home/full time mom)
  • Universal Babysitter Data worksheet
  • Travel Prep checklist
  • Traveling with Baby: A Comprehensive Guide
  • Best Pregnancy & Mommy Apps for 2018
  • Product Reviews
  • Top Products for Ages 3-6 Months, 6-9 Months, and 1 Year
  • Meal Planners for Pregnancy, Toddlers, and Family

…and more!

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Click below to sign up for email updates from The Miami Rose to hear more about the relaunch, helpful new content, and even regular FREEBIES!

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Branding | The WHATs and WHYs of Doing It (Again)

Rebranding – say what? Well, let’s start with branding, including the WHAT and WHY.

What is branding, and why is it so important?

Your brand is, essentially, how you are perceived by your audience: the first impression. It is the relationship between an organization and an audience. In this case, that’s you! How I am seen by my readers defines my brand and image. With as many people as there are in the world, and online, there are an infinite number of brand personalities – but as I talked about in my previous post, I had become an echo and not a voice. I had fallen into an easy routine of what I thought the typical blogger should be and I neglected to remain authentic to myself (and to you). By going back, and ensuring that I have a strong brand that truly represents me and who I am, it sets me apart as an individual; as a human being and as someone who provides value.

Why am I sharing these “secrets” with you? Why bring you behind the scenes? Well, in doing this, YOU ALL hold me accountable to remaining true to my brand and for me, that is a great motivation to continue to bring you helpful and relevant content. You now hold an expectation for me that I intend to keep.

In my last post, I talked about my WHY as a blogger: to help. But what does that mean for my brand message?

My mission, vision, and promise to you as my readers moving forward is one of usefulness. There are so many ways for bloggers and influencers to share their unique gifts with their audience (whether it be advice, style, recipes, or how-to lessons) that I want to be sure that, above all, I am helping my readership. I hope to prove that to you all moving forward – otherwise, what is the point in keeping up with my blog? If I am not offering anything that you can use in your life that provides value, then I have failed in my mission.

The difference between your brand and visual identity

Visual identity and branding are two terms that are often used to describe the process of creating a brand for your business. However, the two terms have different meaning.

A visual identity is the visual aspect of branding that businesses create in order to evoke the certain feelings and experiences with the brand.

It includes anything visual that your brand produces such as logo design, fonts, photos, and any other visuals that you use to communicate your brand. Your visual identity is part of your branding that communicates the overall message, values, and promise of your brand through anything that is visual. So, what’s the look I’m going for? I’ll give you a sneak peek of my visual inspiration board!

Miami Rose branding inspirationMiami Rose branding inspirationMiami Rose branding inspiration

This whole process is new (and exciting) for me, so I’m working on making this perfect over the next couple of months. Along with a visual makeover of the site, I will be refreshing old (but loved) blog posts, gearing up for new and helpful content, and doing some online spring cleaning, too! Click below to sign up for email updates from The Miami Rose to hear more about the relaunch, helpful new content, and even regular FREEBIES!

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Related Post | Rebranding & Finding My WHY

branding whats and whys

Rose Gold Hair

Rebranding & Finding My WHY

Hello to all my readers! I’ve been missing from the blog for a while, but I’m so glad I get to take the time to chat with you today about something that’s been on my mind and in my heart for a while: it’s my “why” as a blogger. How could I understand my brand (or begin rebranding) without even knowing why I blog?

Why You Need a “Why”

Your “why” is the reason you even started blogging in the first place. Your “why” is your primary purpose and main goal that you want to achieve with your blog and influence.

Well, when I started this blog 3 years ago, I had NO CLUE what blogging was really about! I started after seeing other bloggers online and on Instagram, not because I wanted to make money, but because I felt it would be a good creative outlet for me. Dance, drama, painting, sewing, writing, I loved it all, but this felt like an untapped facility. I jumped into my blog without even knowing what I was doing, to be honest. I stumbled through figuring out how to do “the blogging thing” with no direction, no goals, and no WHY. I was just blogging for fun – for myself, and no one else.

Fast forward to this past summer, and so much in my life has changed. Namely, I have learned a whole LOT by becoming not only a member of Style Collective, but from working there! I really wish that I had all of the knowledge that I possess now about blogging, because I definitely would have started off differently. But, it’s never too late to go back and discover your purpose, right?

I found myself asking “Why do I blog?” Not to mention, there were times when my husband was asking the same thing. Originally, I blogged to give myself a hobby and creative outlet (and I thought it would be cool!) but I had no goals and no vision for the future, much less how I was going to accomplish it.

So WHY do I blog.

The Journey to Finding my Why

Well, I thought and thought. And thought. That is why I have been so absent – I needed to rediscover my purpose in this space. I remembered back to 9th grade, when I took the PSAT and it gave me my “ideal career” results. Nurse, social worker, teacher. In short, I was meant to help people. I didn’t particularly like the results at the time (I had a mind to be a successful stage actress, or a NYFW designer), but now looking back on my life and career path, it was an obvious fit. I was meant to help people. And to top that, not only am I good at it, I enjoy helping people and find fulfillment in it. Coaching, teaching, and now continuing my calling by helping bloggers grow through Style Collective. So, that same spirit needs to be reflected in my space here on my blog.

When you remain true to your “why,” you have a clear direction for the content you’re creating, because you have a guiding purpose.

My “why” is to help others.

So why would people even want to read my blog if I wasn’t delivering anything more than a diary? The truth is, it’s important not to be an echo, but a voice. I had become an echo of what I thought a blogger should be, and not my authentic self.

What could I offer my readers that is unique to me, and my life? I love fashion, but I’m not being true to myself when I only do fashion posts (who gets dolled up everyday when you work from home? Not me!). I love DIY, but I really don’t have the time or passion to do it on a consistent basis – it’s more of an “as needed” occurrence. I love to cook, travel, and decorate my home – these are all things that make me who I am. I have had many struggles, and unique life experiences that I can share. I am an authority on my own life, right?

The point is, there are tons of fashion/lifestyle/mommy bloggers out there – but only one ME.

Rose Gold Hair

Providing Value

When I started, blogging was a hobby, but it was more than that. It was a reason for me to get all done up, to put myself together, and to focus on creating my own goals. My life has changed since then, just as it does for everyone, and since my blog is a reflection of my life and experiences, my blog should change with me, too. I want to align with my “why.” Everything I post should accomplish that main goal or primary purpose in some way: to help.

I possess authority in many things through my life experiences and educational background. I can’t give you advice about flying a plane, but I can help you through the milestones of pregnancy, motherhood, fertility struggles, home decorating, life organization, early childhood education & special education, products, cooking, hosting, and being a work-from-home mom. The Miami Rose will embark on a new mission in alignment with my purpose of helping my readers and providing you all with something that can help you, whether it is a product review of an item I wholly endorse, or the ultimate travel guide for hitting the road with a baby!

Rebranding an Image

Along with a new purpose and direction, comes a new look. Who doesn’t love a makeover? So, I will be gradually undergoing some site changes over the next couple of months, and unveiling new topics, features, and images. I’ll even be revamping some old (and dearly loved) posts along with presenting new, helpful content.

Why would a blogger rebrand? Why would a blogger even brand in the first place, you also ask? Well, in my next post I’m going to talk about what branding is and why it is important to develop a personal brand as a blogger.

Thank you to all of you who have stuck by me from the beginning, and accepted that this is a journey, not a pre-set experience. I’ve always aimed for my blog to reflect my life, and this is another step in the direction to remaining authentic.

P.S. I want to thank Annie Spano, the founder & CEO of Style Collective – and my amazing BOSS – for constantly giving me the new knowledge I need to refine my blogging journey; and to my husband, for giving me the confidence and support I need every day to be brave and do what I know is right in my heart (and not care what the haters think).

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Foodie Friday | Rose Ice Cream

With summer in full swing, I have been wanting to try out a few new ice cream flavors, and this one was at the top of my list (for obvious reasons)! I scoured the internet and Pinterest especially for the perfect recipe, and I think I finally concocted my own version to create a creamy, gelato-like, rose-scented ice cream.

What does rose ice cream even taste like, you may ask? Simply: it tastes the way a rose smells. And it is incredible. For my recipe, I added cinnamon to help bring out the sweetness of the rose flavor, and create a delicate blend of fresh flavor. If you give this a try, you won’t believe your tastebuds.

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Rose Ice Cream

(makes about 2 quarts)

2 cups heavy whipping cream/double cream
1/4 cup Rooh Afza, bottled Rose flavored syrup (find here)
3/4 cup sugar, or adjust to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
fresh organic rose petals
2 teaspoon rose water
1 tsp cinnamon

1. In a standing mixer, combine the cream, Rooh Afza, sugar, rose water, and cinnamon. Mix at medium speed until sugar is dissolved and well blended.

2. Set standing mixer to high and let the mixture whip for 5-10 minutes. You don’t want the consistency of whipped cream, you just want to add some air and lightness to the cream before turning it into ice cream. This will make the texture dreamy when it’s frozen.

3. When ready to make the ice cream, place the chilled cream mixture in the ice cream maker and follow instructions of the ice cream maker. You might want to adjust the sweet/sugar at this time. Chilling the ice cream will make it taste a little less sweet than in unfrozen form. So do adjust accordingly.

4. Add the lemon juice and churn for 5 more minutes. Freeze for at least 6-8 hours.

5. Garnish with rose petals before serving.

Fashion | Summer Transition

How is it August already!? I can’t believe that summer’s end is quickly approaching and I’m already planning for NYFW in September (and Rose’s 1st Birthday in October – HOW???).

In Miami, it’s an endless summer when we are talking about the weather, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to follow along with the trends of the season like everyone else! So, I have rounded up some of my favorite day dresses that can transition from Summer to pre-Fall by adding a cardigan, button down underneath, or chic boots. Plus, they all still work for anyone in an area that has more than one climate during the month of September. This specific maxi is Forever21, but you should scroll down to shop all my transitional faves – Enjoy!

Foodie Friday | Lemon and Blueberry Cake

Zesty, fruity, fresh, and fun – this sweet lemon cake full of fresh blueberries will remind you of summer lemonade and blueberry pie. Using fresh produce is essential for the perfect bite of tart and sweet. Bright fragrant lemons and deep, rich blueberries are so visually stimulating that they will have your mouth watering before you begin your prep for this cake! I was even lucky enough to use some of my mother’s fresh blueberry jam to make this juicy cake – so, if you can get your hands on some homemade jam, preserves, or compote, I highly recommend using it in this recipe. If this isn’t the perfect springtime dessert to have at your next brunch, lunch, or evening affair al fresco, then I don’t know what is.

This recipe was adapted from the queen herself, Martha Stewart. She has had her ups and downs, but no one can deny her personal branding success, as well as the plethora of amazing ideas, recipes, and crafts her team has come up with over the years.

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Lemon and Blueberry Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
1 cup fresh blueberries
blueberry jam or preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Add blueberries, leaving a few aside for the topping.

  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

  4. While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.

  5. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely. Prepare frosting (recipe below). Between the two cake layers, apply the blueberry jam or preserves, about 1/2″ in thickness. Frost cooled cakes and top with blueberries.

Whipped Frosting

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and water. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved (or mixture registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until glossy, stiff peaks form (do not overbeat), about 3 minutes; reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and beat just until combined. Use immediately.

DIY | Travel Itinerary & FREE Printable

If there’s one thing I love getting excited about, it’s travel! In case you couldn’t tell by my Fashion Itinerary printable, I get really organized when it comes to preparing for vacation. It may seem excessive to some, but I enjoy it immensely. Not only do I get to explore the area before we even get there, I have specifics to look forward to – with no stress! Pre-planning (for me) is definitely the way to go. That way, I don’t wake up on our first day of the trip and say, “What do we do?”. Everything is done and all we need to do is follow our schedule and enjoy.

However, I am also a big fan of spontaneity, which is why most of the things I like to schedule can be cancelled free of charge. And don’t forget to build in some free time to relax, too!

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This is how my process goes: once we pick our destination, duration of the trip, flight, and hotel, I do a bit of research and make a list of great things to do, see, and eat in the area. Most places have a great tourism website to help out visitors, or you can also try several different travel sites to help you plan the best trip ever! Once we have our list of things to must do/see/eat, I start filling in the calendar.

For us, food is such an important part of our travelling experience. Whether it’s trying a friend’s recommendation or the top-rated eatery in the city, we definitely make it a big “to-do”. If one or two restaurants are on our must list, I sometimes plan the rest of the meal calendar around it (i.e. the best establishment in town may not have reservations on a Saturday, but they may have availability on a Tuesday, so we don’t discriminate). After filling in the important dining choices, I will begin to fill in the rest once our activities are determined for each day. This allows us to research dining options that are close to our location, and we can choose an appropriate time. I am a big fan of making reservations through Open Table. It is free, and you can cancel them at any time. I think my ultimate worst nightmare would be finding myself in an unfamiliar place either, a) hungry and not knowing where to eat, b) hungry and having to wait a very long time for a table, c) hungry and not liking anything on the menu, and d) hungry and feeling cranky on my AMAZING vacation. For these reasons/fears, and so that we can experience our trip to the fullest (pun intended), we peruse the menus in advance to help select where we will be eating each meal.

Once we have narrowed down our selection, I create a binder with all of our trip details: itinerary, confirmations, receipts, menus, and guides. Yes, I know this may sound crazy, but guess what? It works! We even still have our binder from our honeymoon (which was SO helpful) as a memento, and to help us in the future when we want to visit again, make a recommendation, or just remember the great time we had. To me, the preparation and planning make the trip really worthwhile, and it allows you to truly relax once your trip begins.

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I have created this easy chart for you to keep your trip schedule organized. You can print out the pdf and hand-write your items in with pencil or pen, or you can download the Word document to type it up and print. Here is an example of how I fill mine out!

Tip: I include the time, name, address, confirmation number, and sometimes telephone number of each item directly onto the itinerary. This way you don’t need to rifle through your papers/email to find what you are looking for. Once the itinerary is filled out, save it on your phone (as a document or snapshot) so you can access it easily and effortlessly! It’s all in one place.

Need help packing? Use my Fashion Itinerary to plan your outfits of the trip!

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Teavel Itinerary Example

download the PDF file

download the Microsoft Word file

 

Fashion | Casual & Cool

Sometimes, you just have to keep it easy. With the year round heat in Miami, you better believe it gets even worse in the summer. Not only does it mess with you sweat glands and hair, it messes with your brain! You just feel yucky and cranky and you can’t think at all because of the suffocating humidity. Sometimes I can’t imagine wearing anything else but a comfortable pair of jeans and a crisp, breezy white shirt. Luckily, my closet is full of those! Most people would probably discover that they own a lot of black clothing items due to the simple fact that black is versatile, pairs well with almost anything, and can be slimming. Well, not me. Black also soaks up the sun and gets way too hot, way too fast (never get in a car with black leather in Miami while wearing shorts, friends) so most of my closet items are whites and creams, made from lightweight fabric. So for anyone coming to Miami Swim Week in a couple of weeks, here’s a tip: the sun doesn’t set until around 8, so pack for all-day sun!