A recap of my 2019 trips!

If you know me then you know I’ve become at trip addict. In the last few years I’ve gone on several vacations but 2019 was the year of being booked and busy. I truly believe it’s important to plan trips whether they are local, domestic or international. Taking time away from your every day routine is needed for the mind, body and soul. 


 

Houston, Texas – February 2019.

My first trip of the year started down-south in Houston, Texas. My best friend had recently moved to Houston and being that it was my first time there I spent the weekend with her. The atmosphere was different yet amazing because the weather towards the end of February was not scorching hot, but in the low 70’s to mid 50’s. Coming from Chicago in the dead of winter that felt like heaven. Although, my weekend was short I would definitely go back and explore a bit more. 

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Miami, Florida – May 2019.

My second trip of 2019 was in Miami, Florida with my two close friends from work. This trip was in celebration for one of my friends birthday and of course we wanted sun, beach and sand. Hotels in Miami are pricey but some suggestions I recommend would be to stay at a boutique hotel where it’s much smaller but let’s face it you’re really just in your room to sleep and get ready. Another recommendation is to stay at a hotel that is off the strip because the closer you are to Ocean Drive the more money you will pay. Either way you can’t go wrong with a girls trip to Miami because there’s always a party going on day and night.

Tanned and ready for a night out in Miami
Beach please.

Seattle, Washington – July 2019.

My third trip of 2019 was to visit my family in Seattle. I have to say I got lucky when my sister married my bro-in-law because I gained a beautiful-loving in-laws. 

I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle and see its main attraction The Space Needle and when I did I was in awe. The Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall and while up there I was a little scared but excited.

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Spaceneedle Vibin’

 

Pike Place Market was another iconic place to visit in Seattle and if I had to describe it I would say it’s like a Farmers Market day in Chicago only 10 times bigger. Also, the first Starbucks built is at Pike Place Market, so you know I had to take picture in front of it. Did you know that the infamous Gum Wall is also located at Pike Place Market? The brick wall’s are covered in used chewing gum in Post Alley under Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle. Of course I had to place my used chewing gum on the wall and as nasty as it sounds it was something I can say I did once in my lifetime. 

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Another place we went to visit was Rattlesnake Ridge, a hiking trail in Washington that’s in the Snoqualmie Region — North Bend Area. The hiking trail lasted about 2 hours going up and a little less than 2 hours coming down with small breaks in between for water or to rest. The elevation of Rattlesnake Ridge is 1,160 feet and the highest point is 2,078 feet but once we got to the top the scenery was breath-taking. If you’re into hiking like I have become then this is definitely a place to visit. 

 

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Click on the links below to learn more about the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, The Gum Wall and Rattlesnake Ridge Hiking trail.

Space Needle – Pike Place Market – Gum Wall – Rattlesnake Ledge Hiking Trail


Denver, Colorado – August 2019. 

Colorado has been the place where everyone around me has gone to visit. Finally, I had the opportunity to visit for myself. Hiking the Rocky Mountains and going on trails was on the agenda. Our first hike took place at Gardens of the Gods and I was amazed to see such a beautiful park with red/orange colored mountains and learning the history behind it.

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Another trail I hiked while in Colorado was the Rocky Mountain National Park. Unlike Garden of the Gods this park encompasses protected mountains, forests and alpine tundra.

“It’s known for the Trail Ridge Road and the Old Fall River Road, drives that pass aspen trees and rivers.” 
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This is definitely a hike you don’t want to miss out on when visiting Colorado.


Aspen, Colorado – November/December 2019.

My last trip of 2019 was also at Colorado but this time in the beautiful city of Aspen for a wedding. I stood in a small town known as Snowmass, Village and the scenery was breathtaking. Homes, hotels, boutiques and stores are surrounded by mountains.

At night the sky is filled with stars and the lights from the city cast a silhouette of the mountains. There are many activities offered from skiing, hiking trails, gondola rides to the night scene at bars/lounges and everything in between. 

I stayed at the Limelight Hotel and the amenities offered were amazing. Breakfast is complimentary and there was a play area for kids with computers, a television connected to a Play Station and games that adults can enjoy too such as, Ms.Pac-Man and foosball. The hotel had a spa area and an outdoor heated pool overlooking the mountains. 

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Never thought I’d be wearing ear-muffs with a bathing suit. 🙂

The day of the wedding was like a fairytale out of a Disney movie. My first winter wedding and I was lucky to be a part of it. Aspen was definitely the place for the perfect winter wedding overlooking the mountains. 

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Although my trip was not as long as I would have liked it to be, I am grateful for my time spent there. Aspen stole my heart and I definitely would go back. 

 

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2019 was a year of losses, gains and most importantly self-growth and as always living and learning. (:

–Until next time–

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2018 Reflection

Reflection time..2018 was a year of many changes. In the beginning of the year I told myself I could do more, make more and be happier. I didn’t realize that all along I needed to leave a place in order to come back to what would be a different role but what I’ve learned being there in the past is something I appreciate even more because I brought that new knowledge into this job. I also took chances and went to a media/journalism conference in Miami by @hispanicizeevent it was inspiring and put many things into perspective for me and I met some awesome entrepreneurs such as @lejuanjames 🙌🏽 After my conference I came back to some wonderful news that I got the job I’m at now and although I was sad to leave those coworkers who helped me, I was also excited to start a new journey. From covering the international salsa congress and many more…This year I also hit an milestone in my life…my 30th birthday. It’s crazy how much a person can change the way they think…from my 20’s to now I see the world differently and yes sometimes I may still overthink (who doesn’t?) but overall I feel even more humble, conscious and I’m taking more chances in life, scary or not. Life doesn’t wait for you and you shouldn’t either so laugh often, take chances even if it feels scary but also be wise about them. It’s ok to say no and it’s ok to say yes. Learn from your mistakes and move along. To those new friendships I’ve made this year I truly appreciate you all. I’m not going to be “cliché” and say I’m coming into 2019 a new person but I will say is that I’m ready for the new year and whatever else life brings me. Good, bad or neutral that’s just life. 🤷🏻‍♀️🙃 #happynewyearseve

#Thisis30 – DAY 55: Realization

Sunday thinking had me realizing it’s been 55 days since I turned 30. Whoa! Where does time go? Can someone hit the pause button please?

To be honest lately I feel like I’ve been going through some self changes. However, it seems like I’ve been feeling like this for the past year or so. I’ve noticed that I don’t worry or dwell too much on things I can’t control. That doesn’t mean I still don’t overthink things because as human beings that is totally normal. But, every thought you have in your mind YOU control. This is something that I’ve learned to do because thoughts can also kill you emotionally. I’ve also learned to be a happier person and to just go with the flow of things. Now many of my close friends and family would say I’m already a goofy and happy person. But, sometimes the silliest people hold a lot inside.

From being a kid to my teens, 20’s till now I have learned that this thing we call LIFE can change in the blink of an eye. Here are some things that life has taught me in my 20’s and how I feel now.

My 20’s have taught me growth, that it’s ok to NOT be in charge all the time and that it’s ok to say no, to love like it’s your last, hate less and laugh more, to be patient, believe in yourself and that you don’t need validation from anyone. To be grateful, remain focus and stay grounded.

My 20’s have taught me to be open, to not compare myself to others, to be vulnerable but still have my guard up, to be positive, humble, to learn always and take notes, to not give up because the hardest part is starting something but the finish point will be worth it. Don’t worry about failing because the best stories come from those who have failed but got up again and succeeded. I’ve learned to not take people for granted, to try new things that scared me before, to treat everyone equally, to refrain from saying something and walking away if it’s not positive, to help and give more.

My 20’s until now has given me the realization that I needed for myself. Life is not always what it’s meant to be and that’s ok. Nothing is written in stone and you are the author of your life. Everyone’s story is different and that’s what makes us unique.

I’ve loved and also lost loved ones at such a young age. Those early moments in my life has kept me elevated and a stronger person to help me reach this path of realization.

#Thisis30

November 11, 2018.

Love at first sip with T’HO COFFEE: A New Type Of Brew.

My friend/blogger invited me to an event where Entrepreneur Patricia Acheson the CEO of T’HO Commodities Coffee (Pronounced TEA-HO) held an event to help kick-off the coffee brand here in Chicago.

My first experience sipping the coffee was “whoa” this coffee is amazing. A rich taste was left in my mouth and I was drawn in. The aroma in the atmosphere had a cocoa like hint to it from the coffee being brewed. I also love how T’HO gives back. The coffee comes in a brown biodegradable bag and reusable cans. T’HO is also looking into a program where the cans are able to be reused/refilled. The coffee brand also accommodates to their customers, as stated on their website under Coffee Inquiries, T’HO Coffee will cater to all your coffee needs and and even customize a blend that fits your restaurant’s unique brand.  T’HO will help take your Brunch Menu to a whole new level…” Once you fill out the form a specialist contacts you in 24 hours! How neat is that?! 0

The idea of T’HO Coffee was proposed by the Founder, Diego Rodriguez when het met Patricia Acheson in 2017. Ms. Acheson was working a full-time job all while picking up extra shifts at “Crown and Acre, a high-end bar in the Financial District, where Diego supplied his specialty coffee.” A friendship was then developed as the two discussed over coffee, life lessons and business. Mr. Rodriguez has hosted his own cuppings, opened coffee shops in the Bay Area and is now a master roaster.

The name T’HO comes from the city in which Diego Rodriguez was born in T’HO, Mexico; The Crossroads of Maya history and today it is now known as the city of Merida, Mexico. From his childhood memories of working on cocoa farms while his mom and grandmother roasted beans all day to growing up and meeting “legendary coffee connoisseur’s” he was already on the path for great things.

“When he was 22 he moved to San Francisco in hopes of opening chocolate shop, but his plan took a pleasant turn when he met the specialty-coffee living legend, Erna Knutsen who introduced him to the magnificent wonders of the coffee industry.  Soon after his experience with Erna he was introduced to Alfred Peet, owner of Peet’s Coffee.  Peet adored Diego and took him under his wing.  Diego mentions many times how they were very close friends until the day he passed. Peet even left Diego a gift with a note and at the end it said: “Diego, you really are a great coffee man”. “ 

There mission is simple yet positive as stated below T’HO is all about giving, encouraging and motivating.

WHAT’S OUR MISSION AND VISION?

Yes, we have a passion for high quality coffee, but that’s not all that defines T’HO.  Every day that you wake up and put your feet on the floor, we believe an opportunity for positive change awaits us all. T’HO wants to be a part of helping people make that change, and we decided to start our movement with coffee.   We chose coffee as our first product, not only becauseDiego is a professional coffee connoisseur, but also because 83% of the adults in this world start their day with a cup of coffee.  And when you open a bag of T’HO Coffee every morning, you will find “T’HO ENCOURAGEMENTS”; a motivational card that promotes a positive change in all aspects of life.  We plan to encourage this change within offices, cafes, homes, stadiums, restaurants, and all other venues.  Any place you can get a cup of coffee- T’HO will be there.  

 Mission: With coffee, we will strive to create the reality of aesthetic living. 

Vision:  To start a movement that promotes positive change by creating products that make life more enjoyable while keeping the environment clean. 

HOW DO WE GIVE BACK?

T’HO is keen on paying it forward.  We promote a clean environment by using 100% biodegradable bags and reusable coffee tins.  We promote a clean mind by donating time and funds to Mental Health Awareness throughout the world.   Learn more on our “Giving Back” page.

To know more about THO Commodities, the origin of the coffee and where to buy it…you can visit https://www.thocommodities.com and visit their Instagram @THOCOMMODITIESCOFFEE

Summer outfit deets 9/2/18…

It’s sad to say but Summer is coming to an end. The weather in Chicago this time of the year can be tricky from being extremely hot/humid to warm or cool. But, when we do have those few hot/humid days left I have to take advantage of wearing shorts! However, I have accepted the fact that I am not big on wearing shorts. I prefer rompers, jump suits, ripped jeans or summer dresses.

IMG_2696Yesterday’s outfit I decided to rock a pair of shorts I had sitting in my drawer for over 2 months with the price tags on them still. I think that when it comes to shorts I don’t feel as comfortable in them but I did feel ok with them on yesterday. Also, when it comes to coordinating outfits I love playing around with COLORS! Forget overthinking if something matches and just take the risk because I can guarantee IMG_2718that it will and would also end up working.

 

Shorts: Charlotte Russe
https://www.charlotterusse.com

Top: Mandee https://www.mandee.com

Also, stay tuned for my “This is 30” Vlog series coming soon on Youtube at “Lulus Insights”….In the meantime I’ve been posting mini vids on my IG: @littlelulu2u or Snapchat@littlelulutou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hispanicize Miami 2018- Recap

Hispanicize Miami is one of the largest event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers from journalism, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship. In it’s 9thyear the 4-day event took place April 17thto April 19 at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. The event entailed keynote speakers, workshops, showcases, celebrity meet and greets, exhibitions, award ceremonies and concerts.

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Being that it was my first year attending I did my research ahead of time because I didn’t really know what to expect. I came prepared with casual yet business like attire, my camera and of course business cards. While at the event I was able to connect with a few people and absorb everything I was surrounded by. My favorite part I would have to say would be the keynote speakers and meeting social media phenomenon LeJuan James.

unnamed-6Some pointers I took with me was to not say the word, “just” or “try” all the time and own what it is that I’m doing and being confident in my work. Body language says a lot without having to say a word and when you’re confident it shows.

I would definitely love to come back next year to Hispanicize Miami and this time connect with more people in the media industry.

 

Till next April!

IG: @hispanicizeevent

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Q & A with: Salsa dancers, instructors & performers, Tito Ortos and Tamara Livolsi

Salsa dancers, instructors and performers Tito Ortos and Tamara Livolsi have been dancing professionally for years and their advice to others is to, “never stop learning.” Both agree that any discipline you receive in life will enrich your knowledge and help you become a better dancer or in anything you do. “We’ve taught and helped many people with dancing but we still learn from others. There are many new things we learn ourselves.” Tito:Tamara perform 3.jpg

Who are some of the Spanish musicians/bands you’ve danced for and taught? El Gran Combo, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle and Tito Nieves to name a few.

What was it like dancing for them and teaching Salsa? “First it’s always an honor to dance for musicians. The group El Gran Combo, they are very laid back, simple and mischievous. They like to have fun but are also very hard workers. Tito Nieves is also very easy to work with.”

The duo had danced and choreographed for other artists prior but one day their lives were changed when an opportunity began to open more doors.

How did you get the opportunity to choreograph for well-known artists? “Both Gilberto Santa Rosa and Victor Manuelle were doing a concert together named “Dos Soneros Una Historia” and we performed and did the choreography. Then it opened new opportunities because that is when “El Gran Combo” became our next group to work with and so on.”Tito:Tamara perform 6.jpg

The couple first initially met in New York but didn’t really get to associate with one another until 3 years after when they realized they had friends in common. In 2000, Tamara began a salsa dance group and Tito joined. At that time, Tito and Tamara began dating and began their journey together as dancers.

“The television show ‘Sabado Gigante’ held a competition for dancing one year and the network Univision paid for everything for us to show and perform. Tito won but I was just really there because for me it was for fun,” said Tamara.

Tamara was born in Argentina but at the age of 5-6 months old, her family moved to Puerto Rico where she was raised. Although she began a group in 2000, she has been professionally dancing since the age of 15. “My mother was a professional dancer and I never thought I would be one too because I was going to study and become a Veterinarian,” said Tamara.

Tito was born and raised in Puerto Rico and growing up his father was a musician. “In 1992, my dad created a band and wanted me to be involved with music. I then took a class with a teacher in Puerto Rico who was also a director and then I began rehearsing and became a part of my dad’s group.” Tito’s first teacher was Papito Jala Jala. Although Tito majored in Biology, another route was in the works for him when dancing took his time and he went with it. When I asked if they had world titles the two noted that they don’t dance to compete but do it for fun, to perform and most importantly, to teach.

Who are some people you both looked up to growing up? “Vivian Alaya and for reference Griselle Ponce.” said Tamara

“I would say my teacher, Anibal Vaszquez, Mike Ramos but today the list goes on.” said Tito.

“Tito likes to study music and dancers from before and is well rounded in that,” said Tamara.Titio:Tamara perform 11.jpg

After learning about Tito and Tamara’s story and becoming professional dancers, I was inspired because it didn’t happen overnight. Both, took chances and opportunities in their lives and it led to new journeys and amazing adventures. Here’s to their advice, “NEVER STOP LEARNING.”

http://chicagosalsacongress.com/

Chicago International Salsa Congress 2018 – Recap

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This year marked the 17th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress and this exciting 4-day event was filled with musicians, performances and dance workshops. The feeling once you step into the salsa congress is like no other. There’s a joy that comes over you and it doesn’t matter if you’re not a dancer because the overall experience is breathtaking. Many come for its sole purpose and that is to enjoy themselves, experience and witness what the event is all about.

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As always it never ceases to amaze me on how performers from different states, cities and around the world come together under one roof to showcase their best performances. Passion, creativity, love for music and dance is shared with the crowed. This year in particular there was more of a focus on the youth program and dance. I was stunned to see such young kids go on stage and dance their hearts off. After learning what Rosita Ragin-Alamin, co-founder and producer shared with me, she noted that it is important because these kids go on stage in front of many people and learn to become confident. I could not agree more because if there is something where kids can learn how to feel that poise within them they can conquer anything.

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During the day, DJ’s and guest DJ’s play music continuously throughout 3 ballrooms and the main hallway area to keep the energy going. The evening weekend line up featured, JR and his bachata band from New York, Orquesta Guayacan direct from Colombia, La Sonora Ponceña of Puerto Rico and Sunday night closed with the best of the best from the Midwest with an incredible jam session under the direction of Chicago’s own Edwin Sanchez and Angel Rodriguez.

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Each year I always look forward to the different workshops held during the day such as, SalsaArobics, Bachata Footwork, Ladies Styling, Mambo Shines, Cuban Salsa, Cha Cha, Brazilan Samba, Afro Mambo, Kizomba, Vogue and the list goes on! The classes are an hour long and usually there is one or two instructors leading the class in each ballroom for different classes. At the end of each workshop session the instructor allows the class to record him/her as they demonstrate the routine one last time. Instructors also offer a one-on-one private dance session.

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If you’re interested, then you definitely do not want to miss out on next year’s Chicago International Salsa Congress! February 7 -10, 2019. For more info, click on the link below and visit them!

www.chicagosalsacongress.com

Ericka Dip and Antonio

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Rosita Ragin-Alamin & Saladeen Alamin (Co-Founders and Producers)

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