Adventure Starts Here

Monday, January 6, 2014

More Than A Bikini

A couple months ago I blogged briefly about my introduction to a company called Tone It Up (TIU) and how it had connected me to a new life, and ultimately, a new me. Since starting my journey with TIU, I have received countless emails, Facebook messages, and texts from other women inquiring about my experience. I am often asked if I like TIU, what I get out of it, and so on and forth. While I do my best to answer such questions, I have to say, it is about so much more than just a plan.

What attracted me originally to TIU was the community. The community started off as a virtual experience I shared with a friend (aka. Entrenador). The two of us participated in a challenge called Bikini Series designed specially by Tone It Up, and featured several sponsors like Contiki Tours, Victoria's Secret, and Oakley. The challenge encouraged people to tweet and post about their morning workouts, healthy meals, and most importantly show virtual support and kindness to their fellow TIU teammates.

A snapshot from one of our 2013 Bikini Series check-ins!

At the end of the 8 week challenge, TIU picked 4 teams to win a grand prize trip, sponsored by Contiki. My friend and I ended up being one of the 4 teams selected to win, and for our trip, we ended up choosing the Costa Rica Unplugged Contiki Tour (more to come on this later). We were SO THRILLED! 

So many goodies from TIU, Victoria's Secret, and Oakley too!

To express our excitement, of course we tweeted, and in turn were retweeted, receiving so much praise and congrats from the entire TIU community! Then we received a tweet from another winning team, team A&J, telling us they also chose Costa Rica as their destination! 

Being so happy to hear from another team, we started talking details via twitter, and of course and it wasn't long before team A&J, suggested we all go to Costa Rica together!

OF COURSE, this was a BRILLIANT idea. Immediately, the planning begun. And after a few months of tweets, emails, Facebook messaging, and Instagraming, the time had come to experience Costa Rica!

 Upon meeting in person for the first time, it was like we had known each other for a lifetime. FINALLY we were together at last!

Pura Vida!

Though the 4 of us could not have been more different. I mean seriously, it was like the writer of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" predicted the future, our future. Only we were all in one country, and there were no pants, just lots of bikinis.

Although we had no idea what Costa Rica had in store for us, we all knew we were in this adventure together (which I will share more of in a later post). We were all tied together, connected and bonded like we never expected... and with that, we could (and did) conquer all! Our connection to TIU brought us together, made us stronger, more confident. And the craziest part of it all? We met on Twitter... TWITTER. Now, we text nearly everyday, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without team A&J.

The beginning of our Costa Rica adventure, and a lifetime of friendship! 

So now when I am asked how do I like Tone It Up, I am often at a loss for words. 'Like' doesn't even begin to describe it. Tone It Up is so much more than what it seems. It is a special community that encourages you to be a better person, friend, woman, a healthier, happier you, a sister, a mentor, a coach, a pillar, an inspiration, and  encourages you to share your love. TIU is a lifestyle, a feeling of belonging, a feeling of you can do anything- and when you lose sight of that- someone is always there to remind you.

Getting some post-workout TIU team LOVE on our Love Your Body challenge check in

So do I like Tone It Up? Yes, yes I do. What do I get out of it? Obviously it's a feeling that is hard to explain, though I can say it all starts with the community. And while I may never meet in person majority of the women I tweet and Instagram with daily, I hope they know that they, like team A&J,  make an unmeasurable difference in my life. 

With Love & Lipstick, 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Coffee Rica!

Pura Vida from coffee country! I am kicking off day ten of my trip, sitting poolside relaxing with a big cup of Costa Rican joe. While this trip has had so many amazing moments (which I will share more of later), the constant supply of coffee has been a definite highlight.

One thing my journey through Costa Rica has taught me is to value time, and my favorite moment of everyday has been my morning coffee break. 

Whether I am indulging in a fancy cappuccino or a simple cafe con leche, I take a little journey with every sip. A small and relaxing caffeinated trip! 

I never expected my morning joe to be such a integral part of my trip, but sometimes you need a new perspective. And perhaps a little cinnamon love! 

 A dear friend told me a little secret while out at lunch the other day. She shared her desire to add new spice to her morning routine, and to do so she made a simple change... Her coffee cup. She explained that even the most mundane or typical part of your day, can be tweaked ever so slightly to bring new light. Now, she smiles every time she sips on her coffee from her new floral cup.

Granted, my revitalized coffee venture involves a new country with a better view, something much more difficult to duplicate in my kitchen. But perhaps a small Costa Rican token or a new bag of brew will keep my coffee time hot after my return from paradise. 

With love & lipstick, 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Extra Baggage

We all carry extra baggage, and I don't know about you, but I hate paying those pocket-punching extra fees. So when I have a case of the "ineedtobringeverythings", traveling can be a pain in my coach-sized seat. 

 Even a seasoned traveler encounters packing problems from time to time. Generally, I can pack a suitcase for 7-10 days in about 5 minutes... And still look polished. However, this past week during my Costa Rica travel preparation, I hit a major road block. I found myself unbelievably overwhelmed thinking about what to pack. I couldn't grasp the concept of packing for 15 days in multiple climates, for multiple environments, and for various occasions. I even Googled online packing lists, but that just added fuel to the fire. 

"Twenty t-shirts"... I own 2! 
"Four pairs of tennis shoes"... I own 1! 
"Rain ponchos"... But those aren't fashionable!!
"Fanny pack"... Um, no. Just, no.

 I had none of this "recommended" gear. So, my natural reaction? Freak out and pack everything. 

 Just travel with my entire wardrobe? Perfect solution! 

Yes, I pulled out everything, literally EVERYTHING, I deemed excursion appropriate and started from the beginning. And out of all this mess, here is what actually ended up in my suitcase (specifically clothing):
  • 14- workout/hike/outdoorsy/casual tops (most wet/dry, 2 fitted tees, 8 tanks, most with a built in bra, 4 cotton tanks).
  • 12- workout/hike/outdoorsy/casual pants/shorts/capris- i.e. bottoms ( wet/dry: 4 capris, 3 pants, 2 shorts, non-wet/dry: 3 shorts)
  • 4- over shirts (3 long sleeve, one short sleeve, for wearing over the tanks above as needed)
  • 3- tissue shirts (2 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve- for wear over lace bralettes, suits and tanks for casual wear)
  • 2- casual sandals
  • 1- tennis shoe
  • 1- wet/dry hike/tennis shoe
  • 1- fun boots (mild hikes/nature walks, to wear on plane, with cutoff shorts, cute dress, going out wear)
  • 9- bras (1 regular, 1 strapless, 4 lace bralette, 3 sports bras)
  • 11- pairs of socks
  • 18- pairs of undies
  • 4- dresses (2 long, 2 short)
  • 1- skirt
  • 3- fun shirts (to match with shorts/ skirt for going out on the town)
  • 4- swimsuits
  • 1- swimsuit coverup
YES! I packed ALL of the above. Everything fit perfectly in a medium, easy carry suitcase I borrowed from a fab friend. This adventure was no place for my traditional roller bag. 

Its fits! (Pug not included...)

Now that I am all packed and ready to go, I can feel my stress level just melting away. My packing fiasco was a great reality check, and regrounded me as a traveler. With each new journey there is always something new to be learned, and for me, I was reminded once again how to drop that extra baggage.

Now I am ready to hit the skies bound for Costa Rica, confident nothing extra will be weighing me down. 

See you on the beach!

With love & lipstick,


Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Ultimate Journey

Over the past year (okay, like 14 months), I have been on a blogging hiatus. Sometimes life just puts you on fast-forward without a moment to breathe. So in a stitch effort to sew together all my adventures in the past year, here is a quick highlight reel: I was promoted at work and took on a new travel territory, which you will hear more about later. I continued my gardening and home improvement trends by reworking a few garden beds and demoing part of my basement. I have "inherited" a new annual travel hot spot in Arizona (sun city baby)! And lastly, I seamlessly transitioned from 30 to 31 years young. Other than that, not much has happened... 

 Just kidding. There is actually one major life experience I am leaving out. It is so major, I actually call it "The ULTIMATE JOOOUURNEEEYYYY" (dun-dun-dun). Okay, so it is not scary, but it does deserve a large booming announcer voice, like that heard during Wrestle Mania.  Anyways, here is the story...

At the beginning of 2013, my man and I decided we needed a MAJOR change. We decided to reach out to a friend for some guidance (I secretly call her Sensei). Having a medical background, Sensei took time to educate us and provide suggestions regarding lifestyle and eating habits. She stressed making healthy living a commitment, a part of our longevity, and not just looking at it through "diet" goggles. It was evident, we needed a change, and Sensei gave us a lot of ammo to make it happen (more deets about Sensei and her ammo later).

 Simultaneously, another friend reached out to me. I call her Entrenador. Anyways, Entrenador was always up to something crazily fun, and this time she asked me to join her. Little did I know this would pack that final punch I needed to knock me out of the unhealthy fight with myself. Entrenador and I started an 8 week journey through a company called Tone It Up (TIU). The owners, Karena and Katrina, work every hour of the day to motivate and provide guidance through their blog, website, and nutrition plan. However what sets them apart from any other company is not just their ability to inspire and love, but also the community they created for their members! This community can be found in all corners of Social Media, and is especially thriving on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Through these outlets, Karena and Katrina propose mini seasonal challenges, featuring recipes, workouts, words of encouragement, and of course, check-in hashtags.  

Anyways... Circling back, last spring Entrenador asked me to join the biggest TIU challenge of all, BIKINI Series (er, I mean #BIKINISeries). With nothing to lose, I said, "why not." So Entrenador and I went into an 8 week challenge where we checked in at 6am nearly every morning for our "#bootycall" workout (one of the famous TIU hashtags), focused on eating clean healthy meals, did a variety of training from yoga, to spin, to abs, to cardio training, to anything in between. Of course, we took pictures and tweeted EVERYTHING. 

Look at us go! 

Through the support and encouragement of the TIU community, and my TIU buddy Entrenador, I was able to get active and HAVE FUN doing so. AND as the weeks progressed, our commitment stayed strong.


Honestly, we started to ENJOY waking up at 5am to workout. Seeing Entrenador every morning for our #bootycall was the highlight of my day! And thanks to all of the retweets and favorites, our TIU friends (#TIUteam), got in on the action!

Hot yoga and coffee break!

 At the end of it all, we submitted a video explaining how much this experience has changed our lives. And oh how it did! 

Balance. Tone. Mind and body! 

OF COURSE all TIU challenges have a happy ending... great results! But for Entrenador and I, our happy ending included not just great results, but we were also selected as one of 4 teams to win the BIKINISeries grand prize! After such hard work and dedication, I am thrilled to take my adventure with TIU to the next level. Being awarded with a trip to Costa Rica is just amazing. I could never thank TIU and Contiki enough.

If it was not for everyone who supported me through this challenge, I would not be where I am today. A special shoutout to Karena & Katrina, Sensei, and Entrenador (which btw, means 'coach' in Spanish) who were all key mentors in my success. They really helped me find a new light in life.

Share. Love. Inspire. Sweat.

 Looks like I had something to loose after all, but what I gained was so much more. 

With love & lipstick,


Friday, August 10, 2012

Growing a Green Thumb

I have always enjoyed dabbling in new hobbies, trying new things, and finding new passions. But no matter how strong my desire to learn a new trade may be, it is generally out lived by my short attention span. My craft box loaded with scrapbooking materials, a sewing machine stacked with fabric, and the endless amounts of un-opened cook books can testify to my lack of follow through.
Though I am told I am a highly creative individual, and this is often a strong suit, it can simultaneously be a down fall as well. My big picture mentality with personal ventures can often lead to a massive dose of impatience on my part. So you could imagine my surprise when I found a hobby I not only enjoyed enough to execute, but actually committed myself to!
In short, I have a green thumb. Okay, maybe not a full thumb. Probably more of a nubbie, but nonetheless, my nubbie is a lovely shade of green.
Through my adventure of homeownership over the past year, landscaping has taken a large precedence in my "me time"... And I have loved every minute of it. I find myself researching plants late at night, frequenting nurseries on weekends, and spending my days up to my elbows in dirt. And though I have killed my fair share of greens, I have successfully planted over a hundred leafy and flowered friends. In my mind, it is all worth it, because the end result is absolutely glorious. There is no better summer feeling than kicking back with a blended cocktail and enjoying the fruits of my dirty floral labor. And while I have a long way to go before I hit master gardener level, I know this is one colorful hobby that, like my lipstick, isn't fading away any time soon.
Below are some of my trophies of achievement. In return, I would love to hear your sunny garden tales too!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Thank You Trend

In March I decided to do "30 Days of Thank Yous" as a spiritual cleansing before I changed decades. My goal was to hand write a thank you note once a day for 30 days before my 30th Birthday. In the middle of my venture, a life changing event occurred in the family of my soulmate. And while I still stuck to my 30 thank yous goal, I made the commitment to myself that this 30 day cleansing would become a classic trend in my life from then on.
During my 30 days, I made a point to thank those I never had before. I thanked some of the parents of people close to me for raising someone who has impacted my life. I thanked some of the people who had supported and loved my mom. I thanked individuals who I rarely crossed paths with at work, but made such a difference in the lives of our students. I thanked community members who work to protect the communities so many of us live and prosper in. I also thanked my Realtor for helping me find my dream home, my insurance company for all their hard work protecting my assets, and my garbage men for constantly dealing with my, well, garbage (they also received a case of beer). The list goes on and on...
There are so many more people I want to thank and show appreciation to for their hard work. Thus, as I said, I decided to make this a part of my weekly reflecting ritual. So now, at some point every week, I slather on a face mask, make a cup of calming tea, and write a thank you note or two. I have found such a release, a new outlook on life, by what others do and how they have directly or indirectly impacted the lives of those around me. And whether you have received, or have yet to receive a thank you of appreciation from me, note your awesomeness is infectious and changes lives.
You look fabulous making a difference. So go out there and own the world in your lipstick and stilettos... Just remember to say thank you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

30 Days of Thank You

Each year, we age. We get older. We get saggier. We get wrinklier. We get crazier.
Those major, potentially terrifying, milestone birthdays (the Dirty 30, Lordy 40, Nifty 50, etc) are inevitable. But even though we all know higher numbers will eventually arrive at the party, some of us are still a little surprised when said age knocks on our door.
Personally, I embrace such milestones. I was thrilled to turn 16 and 21 (duh- for obvious reasons), as are most people. However I am just as eager to be starring in (what I perceive to be) the next big hit. In fact, I am crossing off the days until my new year, until my new decade.
March 6th of 2012 marked the 1st day of my 30 day count down. In 30 days, I will turn 30 years old. I am eager to step into a new "decade", to place a check mark in a new box, and to change out my over-used number 2 candle for a brand-new, unlit number 3.
Now don't get me wrong... For the past 9 years and 11 months, I have lived the best 20-something life I could have ever asked for. My 20's were a sea of selfish, stupid, obnoxious, risky, adventurous, careless, wild, dramatic, giggly, short-skirted, lovesick, emotional, hung over messes. Everything was always over-the-top. I was always up for anything. And I never missed a beat.
Outside of being able to be a totally care-free, dumb young adult, my 20's were filled with more triumphs (and tribulations) than I ever could have expected. I received my bachelors and masters degree (in 5 1/2 years- total), I found my ideal career path, I lived on my own for 2 years in a fabulous apartment (most never live sans roommate), I bought my very own house, I discovered the cult world of pageants, I met my dream dog (Lexie), I met my dream man (Dan), I traveled to nearly all 50 states, I found my best friends, though I lost my father, I discovered who would always be there for me and who would always be the most important to me, I learned the importance of purging toxic people from my life, and I discovered the beauty in polishing off lost friendships. Yes, a roller coaster at times, but my vivacious, self-realizing 20's shaped me into the person I am today. So without further a due, I would like to bid a proper farewell to my 20's.
To count down the 30 days before my 30th birthday, I am doing something I call "30 Days of Thank You". I will be thanking and showing my appreciation to those individuals who have not necessarily just impacted my life (directly anyways), but have positively influenced the lives of those I love, or the lives of those in the community around me. The people I reach out to in these 30 days will not just be individuals I love. In fact they most likely will be people I hardly ever see, I have only met briefly, may be aware of but have never met, or may just very well be total strangers. Nonetheless, these people will be receiving a personal, heart-felt note or token from me, without hope or agenda. These individuals deserve to know their efforts have made a difference, their influence has made a difference, and that as a human being, they are truly valued.
In the end, some of my appreciation endeavors may be too personal for me to share, however I will make sure to post an update or two about some of the thank yous I experience (or really others experience, if allowed) when all is said and done. So until then, wish me luck on my "30 Days of Thank You" cleansing journey, and to stepping head held high into my lipstick and stilettos filled 30's.