Travel : Washington D.C. 2019

Sometimes it’s time to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC, and find some bustle somewhere else.
    Weekend getaways tend to be my favorite. I can pack a small backpack with me, have a new adventure and go back to work on Monday like nothing ever happened.

A friend recently told me about Bolt bus (and yes, I may be late to the party.. even though I took one about 5 years ago to get to Boston, and completely forgot they existed) and it was time to hit the road.
I visited Washington D.C. a long time ago as a kid. I must have been around 10 years old. I still remember the bright baggy mustard pants, and the turquoise and purple windbreaker jacket I was wearing(It was the late 90’s okaaaay) Think, little Dominican girl dressed like The Fresh Prince, hahaha. My dad’s car ended up leaving us on the side of the road, and our choice was to rent something, anything to get there the rest of the way.    The closest rental car spot only had a limo left…it was the best entrance I’ve made to the white house. How can you possibly beat that?
Adulting is a little different, I hopped off the bus and roamed the streets, taking  in everything so I can remember it this time.
Getting caught in the rain, and not really caring about my hair or clothes was just an extra touch of freedom.
One of my favorite things about has got to be the endless amounts of free museums. If you find yourself visiting, I promise you,your biggest expense is going to be getting there and figuring out where you’re sleeping. And that wasn’t even too costly. I didn’t really do any bar hopping, but museum hopping was all the rage this weekend. Check  out The Smithsonians if you plan on visiting.

Event: You’re Invited to Art Auction & Chill

Great things are happening!

You ever have that feeling in your gut… that fulfilled feeling where everything feels like it’s falling into place? Well that’s how I’m feeling, especially knowing that I’m surrounded by the right people.
This talented group of artists have been a blessing, and it’s not in disguise. We’ve all been working off the clock, creating and building in all our different mediums.
We’re a bunch of painters, illustrators, graphic artists, photographers, and designers who have bonded into so much more. We’re so proud of this growth and we’re really excited to be hosting our first event soon, and we want you to be a part of this experience.
Come and show some support, laugh a lot, and win some art to take home with you.
This is only the beginning.

RSVP is available HERE

I can’t wait to see you there!
Best,

Travel: Chicago 2019

Me and my grand ideas.
I was hanging out with my little brother watching wrestling, roaming on my phone while I hear the announcements of body slams and choke holds. Round trip flight to Chicago for the cheap. I ran across the room to get my debit card and booked without even thinking about it—- for a day.
Yup, you read that right!
Why spend the weekend in NY spending money doing something I can do any time, when I can spend my money someplace new?
I message Kat in the morning with a text a little something like this ” Want to go to some museums and eat deep dish pizza this weekend?”
Her and Ed’s flight were booked a few minutes after. Gotta love it!
The invitation was extended to more friends, Kika, Frankie and Cesar were all ready to go.. and I was ready to plan it all out.

We arrived at the airport, everyone had a backpack stuffed with whatever we would need for a quick overnight trip. Technically, we’ll be arriving Saturday morning, and roaming around the city the the whole day, Then checkin in to our Airbnb, and roaming a bit Sunday morning before our flight right back home.
Yes, we were exhausted.
But it was all worth it.

Check out our adventure below… hoping we have many more!

Travel: Bermuda 2018: Tie Dye Blues

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We’ve been counting the days. I recently peer pressured Kat into taking a trip with me,and guess what.. it worked! She hasn’t had a vacation in God knows how long, and I was on a mission to get out of New York. Seemed like a win-win to me.
I did all my homework, our itinerary was done (see how I make mine HERE) and I was already packed. (See how I travel with only a carry on HERE). I couldn’t wait to go through TSA and just land my butt on  my seat. I left work early and mid way to airport I realized I had forgotten to pack a bra.
Oh, well… it’t not like I’ll be needing it. Let them breathe!

Kat and I landed in Bermuda at 10:30pm, I got us a bottle of wine from the duty free and made our way to our airbnb. Our hosts Ashleigh and Pedro were sweethearts. Especially when they mentioned that most restaurant have already closed their kitchens, so she stocked us up on bread and cheese.
Grilled cheeses and a glass of wine before bed. Yum.
In the morning we were giddy, and it hit us…. we just woke up in Bermuda!

Since we were going to be starting our day in the island of St. George’s, we called our cab and put on some comfy sneakers. We knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking today, and I was ready to see all of it.

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Our cab driver Philip gave us a bit of a run down on the island, and after talking to him for a few minutes we all laughed at how funny life is. Apparently he was on the same flight we were! I guess we made a new friend.

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He dropped us off at Gates Fort, one of the tips of the island. We wanted to start all the way in the beginning.
The wind was blowing, the view was absolutely stunning, and everyone was so friendly. I put on my glasses because I want to be able to see everything, I want to soak up every single second of it. We pass by some construction workers, they greet us, and we greet them back. It looks like they’re working on some of the streets lights. They have the nicest tans I’ve probably ever seen.

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We keep walking and in between every other tree you can see a glimpse of the water right past it. The blues are so bright, both the sky and the water meet, and it seems like tie dye, swirling different shades of blue.
Blue seems to be the color of the island because every time I pass  someone new, they’re screaming at me
” You’re wearing the right colors!” The first time I said thank you and smiled.. but then it kept happening. ” That’s right girl, Blue!!!!” I keep laughing, but I have no idea why.

Kat and I keep walking and a jogger passes us. She had just stopped to take a breath and greets us. “Hi girls, welcome to Bermuda” I swear.. everyone so far has been so inviting and this alone makes me love Bermuda to the fullest. Cheryll shared some of the island’s history. She pointed to islands across the water and it seemed like everyone here was willing to share a bit of their culture with us. It was inviting, and most definitely helpful because we didn’t have to pay for any tour guides! hahaha

 

Travel: How I Travel With Only A Carry On

Flashback to October 2017, my parents are getting married in the Dominican Republic. Everyone is jumping on a plane and there’s so much to bring a long with us.
I’ve already packed about 4 days before our departure. My carry on is by the door, and a few days later, the night before our flight my dad is trying to pack at last minute. Everything is overstuffed and many things are missing like socks, both regular and dressy. He looks at me, proud of himself, and I’m like —No, move over.

I ended up packing his, my little brother’s and an extra bag.
Fast forward to today and it’s time for another one of my escapes. If you’ve been paying attention, I like to spend as little as possible when traveling. (See how I travel on a budget HERE) one of the things that saves me some cash, is not checking in a bag. Some airlines charge about $50 per bag. I avoid those fees by traveling with a carry on bag that’s included with my flight.

Carry on’s are pretty small, so I constantly get asked how I travel with only a carry on all the time. This time I decided to share.
I’m a huge list  maker, and if you’re not, that’s okay. Maybe mine will help you.

And to make things a little quirkier and colorful, I decided to draw a little something for the occasion.

This is how I pack my carry on:

In the event you can’t read my chicken scratch, some of my favorite tips are :

– wear comfy slip on sneakers at the airport, it makes it way easier to get through TSA. You don’t have have to worry about laces, or falling over when doing so when someone behind you is trying to rush. Also, wear some thin socks so your feet don’t have to touch that cold and dirty floor.

-When picking out your clothes, try sticking to the same color scheme. It makes matching much easier, especially if you want to mix and match pieces. This is also a great way to have a cohesive look on your Instagram!

-If you like dresses, you’re in luck. I like packing a bunch bc it means I don’t have to carry extra things to coordinate an outfit. Dresses and even rompers are a complete fit.

-When packing, try the the rolling method. Everyone is different, and lately I’ve been seeing alot of the packing cubes, which I’m sure are great. But rolling the clothing nice and tight gives me the ability to squeeze a lot of clothes in one place. It’s like playing Tetris, making sure every space is filled. Rolling also means no wrinkles, when you decide to wear.

-This is probably a given, but make sure you charge everything before leaving home. Your phone and camera should be full. If you have a camera, invest in extra batteries, Amazon even sells third party batteries, and it’s nicer to switch batteries rather than lugging around another charger.

-Since we’re talking tech, try getting a solar powered power bank. I personally like the solar powered ones because I can clip I on to my backpack and it charges itself throughout my day. I bought this one. It won’t ever be uncharged. (unless it’s night time and the sun isn’t my friend)

-Before even leaving to the airport you should get on Google and download their offline maps. Find the instructions HERE. This has been a huge game changer for me. In some places you don’t have access to Internet. When I visited Cuba, I was so glad I had maps downloaded, I always knew where I was, and even with no internet the maps are interactive because you have saved all that information. Try “starring” your favorite places too. Like where you want to eat, or even where your hotel or Airbnb is for easy finding.

-Always wear SPF. You should be doing this evening you’re not on vacation. And if you’re somewhere tropical don’t get blinded by the “I want a tan so bad” craze. You will get one, the sun is stronger in certain places and your health comes first.

-On the plane ride, bring a big scarf with you. Parshminas are perfect because they double up as a blanket. It gets pretty cold up there. You can also use the scarf at night in case you didn’t bring a jacket. And if you’re going somewhere warm, you can always use it as a sarong. When sleeping you can use it as a head wrap. Pieces that are multi purpose are perfect for traveling.

-I like to pack granola bars. I keep some in my backpack for the flight. Sometimes the snacks are teasers and pretzels and water just don’t cut it. They especially come in handy when I’m sightseeing and can’t find somewhere I want to eat. It can hold me down until I actually get to dinner time.

– Also, bring an empty water bottle with you. Yes, you read that right. When going through TSA, you’re not able to bring liquids. Bringing an empty bottle is efficient because yo can fill it up at a fountain and avoid paying $7 for a bottle at the duty free. Also, you get tiny bottles from the flight attendant.

-Have your passport and itinerary ready and close to you at all times. If you don’t know how to make an itinerary you can read this post HERE. I explained how to go about making your own. This helps with knowing which gate to go, and information needed. Another tip I like to do is to make a scan of my passport and paperwork I might need and email to myself. You never know if you misplace something and you don’t want to get stuck overseas with no identification.

-and my last tip for now… You’re on vacation, try unplugging from social media for a bit. Bask in all the culture around you. Have fun, meet new people and experience life. You can always upload later.

I hope this has been helpful, and if you use any of my methods, please share with me! I would love to see how it worked out for you.

Happy Traveling!
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts about my trip to Bermuda!
Best,

Travel: How I Travel on a Budget and How to Plan An Itinerary

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A friend recently called me “The Human Planner” I giggled because it’s the first time I’ve heard that about me. But when I stopped giggling I thought about it, and she’s kinda right. I plan everything.
One of the many things that have to be in order is when I decide to travel, things like what to carry in my bag, an itinerary with details like flight information, my stay address and contact info, and of course what I actually want to do, see, eat… all broken down into days.
Yeah, it sounds like a lot, and most likely irritating. In my defense it’s more like a guideline, so I know where to start off my day.
The worst part of being on vacation is being limited to time. So why would I want to start my day not knowing what I want to do, which means I’ll be wasting time thinking about where to go first and not knowing if it’s open or not. Let alone on how to get there.
In my personal experience these are a few things that work for me:

  1. When should I travel? What are the best days to purchase?
    Again, in my opinion, we all have our things that work for us. There are  many who say booking your flight a few weeks before is usually the cheapest, there’s another myth that says Tuesdays at 7am is when  flights are the cheapest. Myself, I like to hunt for the best prices, and yes, I use many websites to do so. Comparing prices from Jetblue, Delta, Spirit and many airlines can be a little easier with expedia or websites similiar. One of the things that I like to use is Hopper. This app  “watches” flights for you, and let’s you know which days are cheapest and higher in rates by month and by color.  One of my favorite tricks is to open up two Jet Blue’s Fare Finder tabs side by side, and pick a one way trip. One tab gets the “from” destination while the other tab get’s the “to” option. This way i can see and play around with dates compared to prices.
    For example, let’s go to Puerto Rico:Blank 11 x 8.5 in
  2. I often get asked “how do you have and get so many days off of work?” How do you find the time?
    Every job is different, and I’m blessed to have one that let’s you accumulate Paid Time Off days according to how long you work there. The longer I work here, the more days I accumulate. So, If I’ve been working for a year, every month I gain a day of PTO time. Not counting the first 3 probation months, 12-3=9 PTO days that I have earned. After the first year, I earn 1.66 days or some random number like that. so in 2 months, instead of earning 2 days, I’ve gained 3. The longer I work here, the more I gain. Next year I’ll probably be gaining 2 days per month.
    Every job is different. Find out what your job offers you. Don’t be afraid to have a talk with your Human Resources Coordinator and see what benefits you gets that you actually don’t know about.
    Another thing that I keep in mind, is not calling out. (Even when I’m sick) In my mind, if I’m sick, I’m going to be sick anywhere and anyway… I might as well just go to work and not waste one of my hard earned days, doing nothing at home. (My coworkers will have to deal with all the coughing.. I know, not nice)
    Another thing to keep in mind is to manipulate your days off. Yes, this sounds mischievous. but I promise it’s not. Most jobs have holidays where you don’t have to go to work.  For example: Labor day is a day where I know I don’t have to go to work. So if I can incorporate a vacation around that time, that’s a day I don’t have to waste and can have an extra day to actually have fun and enjoy myself. Extra points for you if you sneak in your days off too.
    I only work Mondays through Friday. Let’s say Labor day is on a Monday. If I’m smart about it., my flight can be on Friday, right after I get out of work. I have Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday that I don’t have to worry about requesting days off. If I want to stay longer, and let’s say use up more time.. I can fly back home the following Sunday. I only have to use 4 PTO days (Tuesday-Friday), for a 10 day vacation. Isn’t that like secretly genius!?IMG_6055.2
  3.  How can I afford to travel all the time?
    Yes, traveling is very expensive.  I wish I was rolling in dough, throwing dollar bills up in the sky.. but the way I get paid, and the way my bills are set up… child please. I’m a firm believer that if you really want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. If I get paid bi-weekly, I budget my bills, and spending expenses accordingly. If I take out $100 every time I get paid and set it aside (and my advice– in cash and leave it at home so you won’t be tempted to spend it)  You better believe that 6 months in, you just saved $1,200.  You can take a nice vacation with $1,200.. and if you want to save more or less you can… or if you need more time, give yourself more time. Every person is different, every paycheck, responsibility is different.
    Also, I try to limit my spending when I’m saving. Which sounds pretty obvious, but I nice reality check that I give myself is — Would I rather be spending my money on dumb stuff here, or cool stuff somewhere else? ——-That usually stops me dead in my tracks.
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  4. Where can I  live where traveling?
    Everyone has different preferences. Many people appreciate hotels, while I don’t mind them.. they’re not my go-to. I have never had an issue with Airbnb, and they have done me well. I’ve used them for almost every single trip, Puerto Rico 4 times, Cuba 3 times, Paris, Madrid and others.
    My mindset when traveling is to live how the locals live, I want to experience the culture and I can’t do that from a fancy hotel room. When I stay in an airbnb I get a homey feel to things. One of the best things about airbnb is also the fact that you get to earn credits when you refer someone. They save money, and I save money on my next trip. ( So if you guys haven’t signed up and do, please use my link when booking, I would appreciate you forever. My friend Cintia recently when to Cuba, and we she stayed at her airbnb she saved $40, while I earned $20 off my next booking, so when I went to Bermuda, I already had a $20 off coupon waiting for me at check out. It’s a win-win!
  5.  Where do I pick where I should stay?
    Alright, so you have your flight picked out, you’ve saved up some cash and you decided you’re going to stay at airbnb (hopefully you used my link too) now the question is what neighborhood should you stay in? There are so many options, how can you possibly decide where to stay. Super easy.
    This is probably my best tip that I can give you.
    First off, start making a list of all the things you want to see. Maybe all the places you want to eat too.  After you’re done with your whole list order them in order of importance to you. What are the places you possibly cannot miss? Will you go home and regret that you didn’t see something?
    For example, when going to Paris, on everyone’s list is the Eiffel Tower, but is there anything around that neighborhood you want to see as well? Maybe the Arc de Triomphe?
    When you make a list of all the things you want to see, get on google maps or even an old school map if you like to be cool like me. Mark down all the locations from your list, and the neighborhood that has the most points win. You save so much on transportation costs because you’ve chosen a place to live that’s close to all the venues you want to experience. Plus you can always visit the other locations by neighborhood.. I’ll explain in the next point.
  6. How do I make an itinerary?
    You’ve chosen where you want to stay, and now it’s time for you to have some order. Try making a list by days. Add the Date and the information needed. If my flight is on August 16th, I’m going to need to write the flight number, the time of my flight, what time is boarding, my confirmation code, and other information I might need like my terminal, gate or even seat numbers. I know we have boarding passes, but sometimes having everything in one place is very helpful. Make sure you list the time you arrive as well. Estimating time after is helpful as well. If my flight lands at 10pm, I’ll probably need time to go through customs, grab my bag if I checked it in, and figure out how I’m getting to my hotel or airbnb. (Make sure you google how long the taxi drive is as well, or if it’s even worth it. Public transportation can be easy to figure out and way cheaper than a cab. If I landed by 10pm, I should be at my destination around 11pm, and instead of you having to look through emails, if you wrote down your address in your itinerary you already have your address handy. Writing down your hosts name is also a nice way to remind you to greet them accordingly, also that way you know who to ask for, write down their contact information as well, incase you need anything as well, like maybe extra towels, a cab number or even the wifi password.
    Now let’s get to the fun stuff, all the things you want to see and do. I group things together by neighborhood. When visiting Bermuda, I knew I wanted to see the unfinished church in St. Georges, I also wanted to stop by St. Peter’s church and also visit the crystal caves and see some Warwick shipwrecks. Doing all of these in one day is possible, but because their locations are so scattered, it wouldn’t make sense to do so. Plus I’ll be rushing to try to make sure everything is still open. If I make a day trip to St. Georges and see everything I want to see there, I only have to pay one cab fare over there, and don’t need to go back because that day is done. I can plan to see the shipwrecks which are in a complete different neighborhood the next day. Not only do you save money on transportation back and forth, you also save time.
    Another piece of advice I can offer is to group things together by leisure or activity. If you’re planning a day at the beach, it only makes sense to do more water activities that day like parasailing, or jetskiing. Don’t confuse your day (or your body) with walking around historic sites all day, and then going snorkeling. It’s two completely different activities, and they both definitely require different kind of clothing. On day one of Bermuda it was mostly sight seeing, so we knew to wear sneakers, and we were mentally prepared to walk into different venues. If I had on a bathing suit, walking into a church randomly with my chest exposed, it wouldn’t be the most appropriate.(True story, this has happened)

These are a few of my favorite tips when I’m planning my next trip. I hope they have helped you. I know it sounds like a lot, but remember that everyone is different, you don’t have to do everything as listed. Many times, I use my itinerary as a guideline of my vacation. I don’t always do every single thing as described. Remember to have fun and let the wind take you. Safely of course. Make friends with people, be open to new experiences and most importantly make memories.
Happy planning, and of course, if you have any questions or tips you also want to share, feel free to drop me a line.
Happy Traveling,

Travel: Twenty Nine In The Big Easy

Turning 29, you would think I was I would be panicking knowing that I’m only one year away from the big 3-0. Today doesn’t even feel like my birthday. I’m sitting in the airport for a flight that I had rescheduled for 8am instead of 2pm. It’s currently 4:30 in the morning, and my eyes feel heavy. I lay my head on my carry on book bag, and take a nap. The sound of a little kid wakes me up, and he’s the cutest little thing, just staring out the window, watching the snow fall on the planes.

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A few hours later I find myself in New Orleans. My sneakers aren’t really my friends right now. When I arrive at my airbnb, my host Katie introduces me to Grace, who just landed as well. I ask Grace if she has eaten already and she gladly agrees to find some food with me.
I let her pick the place and we settle at a nice organic spot near Jackson Square.

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I order a salmon Po Boy, while she goes for crab. Oh, my goodness… talk about delicious. We depart ways since she has a conference to attend to, and I decide to roam… give my feet more reasons to hate me.

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Grace is an absolute doll. I mentioned that I was going on a ghost tour later that night, and she signed right up to join me! I was so looking forward to that. I know I needed sleep, but I was pushing through.

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Birthday’s usually tend to be this big grand thing. I don’t have my birthday up on social media, haven’t advertised it in a few years. Though my day was nice and quiet, I have to thank God for my blessings. I am experiencing new food, in a new city, with new friend. God is good.

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I’ll be posting up more pictures on my instagram @millistephaniaphotography if you want to go sneak a little look.

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Great Vibes & Chill: Vision Board Workshop

Don’t you just love “feel good” moments?
Today was all about that, and I couldn’t be more inspired than how I feel right now.
The gorgeous and inspiring, @allthingsada and @readingsbyvida hosted an intimate vision board workshop. This get together made all the gorgeous women who attended vulnerable to the point where they almost ran out of tissues.  Imagine opening up to a room full of strangers? It was beautiful.
We all want to become a better version of ourselves, and today we had the chance to tap into our goals, both long term and short.
This event was made to uplift us. Remind us that we have to manifest the things we want for ourselves into existence. When things are physical, they tend to be more real. We  rummaged through magazines, and shared scissors and glues to make our masterpieces.  Our vision boards needed to be a reflection of our talk and I gotta say, I like how mine came out. I keep staring at it!

This event was sold out in about 3 hours when it was posted, I was so glad i didn’t hesitate to sign up when I did. Now there’s a long waiting list for the next one, and I’m not surprised at that one bit. I think this was such a feel good wake up for all the girls who attended, and I only hope others get to bond the way that we did.

Also, shout out to @nycfoodmuse for being my collage partner and a friendly face in the crowd.

To sign up for the waiting list go HERE, to see Ada’s instagram click HERE, for her blog HERE and her youtube HERE. Follow Vida on her instagram HERE, and check out her website HERE… oh, and of course, don’t forget to follow me on instagram HERE.

Vlog: Santo Domingo 2017

This family trip has been pretty bonding. I’m a big sucker for creating and saving memories. I keep my camera on me at almost all times. As much photos are pretty telling, videos are everything. I remember my mom having countless home videos, and the older we got, they seemed to fade. Now that we have so many kiddies running around, it’s time for me to pick up the habit.
This is a quick summary of our 2017 family vacation. —- Enjoy!

Family: La Hora Loca, After the Vows

After the ceremony it’s time to party!

What, did you think we weren’t gonna get get down and dance all night. Ha! You must not know Dominicans very well.

After we left the church, we arrived in style back to El Palacio Royal. Everyone was already seated and waiting for the wedding party to arrive. Mami seemed liked she was in a better mood after the vows. And knowing my dad, as long as Mami is happy, he’s happy.( Plus less of a headache.)

The venue was absolutely gorgeous. The attention to detail was insane. The little trinkets at the table fit right in with the romantic and coral theme.

I was kinda peer pressured into saying a few words, and even though I’m a great speaker—in English. I knew I had to shut this down in Spanish.

Knowing all the up and downs we have all gone through over the years, all the bickering we have all done towards each other, family is family. And even though we don’t always get along, you guys are it. My step dad to me is my dad. He’s the kindest man I know.  If anyone ever asks— he’s the real deal. And I know, I’m so blessed to have him in my life, our life, mami’s life. Being her rock.

The spot light was on them, they danced their first dance in the most of bubbles and confetti, and they looked so magical on the dance floor.

After taking a bunch of pictures (I couldn’t really hold my own camera all night, since I had to be posing. I handed it off to my Michelle and she rocked it)

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The food was delicious. I wish I had a plate right now and  I heard the drinks were on point. I think all the dancing I did was enough to keep me occupied. Everytime I would go up to the bar for water, the bartender made sure he picked on me in a flirtatious way.

After taking all the wedding pictures mami kept hassling us to do (and which we still haven’t received from the vendor) I wanted to change. I had a second dress I couldn’t wait to get into. A mermaid style yellow number that made me feel like “chiquita banana”. I loved it, and apparently so did everyone else, because I kept getting compliments all night.

“La hora Loca” (which translates to “the crazy hour”) happened in a blur. The lights dimmed down, the fog began, and the music changed from soft to party mode. Right on time too. Mami changed into dress number 3. Funky hat’s and glasses were given out , and the crowd goes wild. I even caught Mami playing limbo, and my dad dancing to La Macarena!

This was such a special day for my family. My parent’s looked absolutely gorgeous. We don’t always see eye to eye, but now that I’m much older, I’ve learned to appreciate them so much more. I wish them all the happiness in the world.
And before I go, here’s a little drawing. I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t create something new!