Road Trippin’: Palm Desert

Have you ever had one of those weeks in which…

  • you realize you’re doing the work of three for the price of one,
  • so you question your entire being and existence,
  • begin to feel terrible about yourself
  • and then your father calls you to tell you a family member is on their deathbed,
  • so then you start crying in your cubicle, trying to figure out when the next flight out of Orlando is (said family member is now in stable condition, thanks for your concern)?


Wait… and you’re telling me that it’s only Tuesday?


Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. *rolls eyes and takes a swig from bottle*

As I continue to battle my self-diagnosed seasonal depression and continue grasping at straws, I invite you to join me in happier times–my summer road trip. And yes, I’m totally aware that I’m way behind on these blogs so bear with me!


After taking in the majestic views of The Grand Canyon, we set our sights on the land of Coachella–Palm Desert.

Where we laid our heads to rest:

My husband’s coworker and her husband were gracious enough to host us during our stay in their lovely home.

Fun stuff:

Salvation Mountain: My husband and I finally got around to watching “Into The Wild” last year. It is a 2007 American biographical drama adapted from Jon Krakauer’s 1996 non-fiction book of the same name. In the film, Christopher McCandless travels across North America and one of his stops was Salvation Mountain, Slab City.

Located about an hour from Palm Desert, Salvation Mountain is a hill made from adobe, straw and paint, encompassing messages of love, peace and Bible verses. It was created by local resident Leonard Knight (he appeared in the movie as himself!) and is considered “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” by the Folk Art Society of America. It really is a unique sight–a towering, colorful hill, displaying the message that “God Is Love,” in the middle of an empty landscape.

East Jesus: Also found in Slab City is East Jesus, an art installation that invites guests to imagine a world without waste. Empty bottles, discarded television sets and dolls missing their limbs are given a second life as mixed-media art at East Jesus. Since the Slab City residents are always adding to the installations, I plan on returning in May while I’m in town for the PRSA conference.

Mud Pot: Do any of you have the TripAdvisor app on your phone with the location settings turned on? While driving back to Palm Desert, a notification popped up on our friend’s phone, letting us know that we were only minutes away from the Salton Sea Mud Pots.

Past reviewers on TripAdvisor marveled at the uniqueness of this “off the beaten path adventure” and we thought, “we are already here, might as well, right?”

After driving down a dirt path for a few miles, we stopped by a massive field with a power plant and got out of the car. The smell of sulfur hit me the second I opened the car door and I began to gag, laugh and choke on my own spit. Why were we here?

We held our breath, walked over to some mud mountains and heard them gurgling… Mud slowly trickled down one of the mud volcanoes and we all looked at each other. It was time to leave.

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The only picture of the mud pots that any of us took.

Nomz:

Reservoir: We did brunch at Reservoir, the casual, outdoor restaurant at Arrive Hotel. My favorite part of the restaurant was that it faced the hotel pool and every California stereotype came alive before my eyes (California girls, they’re unforgettable!). If I had a dollar for every female trying to find the best angle for their Instagram picture, I would have been able to afford one California-priced cocktail.
Hart Family Winery: Founded in 1980, the winery is the oldest continually owned and operated winery in Temecula Valley, producing boutique wines that include Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. Halston and I were fans of their Roussane’s smooth and fruity flavor during our wine tasting and ended up buying a bottle to enjoy on the winery’s porch. The wine tasting at $12 for 6 wine tastings.

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Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery: At Palumbo, we enjoyed the $15 tasting which includes 5 wines and took in the gorgeous vineyard from the winery’s patio.

 

There are over three dozen wineries found in Temecula so it was a little bit hard to choose which one to go to, but we were happy with the choices we made. Next stop, Napa (I wish)!

Have you visited Palm Desert/Palm Springs before? What did you do? 

xx

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Fri(yay) Lovin’ #6

I think we can all agree that trying to pencil in some much needed “girl time” is hard once you become an adult so when you’re able to squeeze in not one but two entire evenings to catch up with friends, your heart basically explodes.


It’s been a busy week for me, between work events (click here for SeaWorld announcement), impromptu gatherings, a random photoshoot that will probably not launch my modeling career and getting ready for the inevitable departure of my boss today — I’m basically riding a rollercoaster of emotions.

#bestbossever

But it is Friday and my heart is happy so we can get back to our regularly scheduled Fri(yay) Lovin’ post in which I share the things that made me smile this week!

Parabo Press:

A few weeks ago I was scrolling around the “Explore” tab on Instagram and came across Parabo Press. They are a photo printing service for “design-minded photo takers.” Once you give them permission on the app, they can pull images from your social media accounts or your phone’s photo album and you can create calendars, square prints, glass prints, engineer prints and more on elegant matte paper. They currently have a special deal going on for square prints (check their Instagram bio) — 20 free prints, just pay for shipping — which is guaranteed to get you hooked on their service!

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Some of my Instagram pictures coming to life!

Dead Lizard Brewing Co.:

We grab a drink at our local brewery quite often and have never really thought to visit another one until last weekend when we found a $35 Groupon that included four flights, a souvenir cup and a brewery tour of Dead Lizard Brewing Co. so we called up our friends and headed out.

The brewery is located inside a warehouse near the Mall at Millenia and it is owned by husband-and-wife duo Richard and Patricia Dine. The story of how the name came to be is simple: the owner saw two dead lizards on his porch and the rest is history.

We weren’t able to go on the tour because you have to reserve your spot ahead of time, but we did get to enjoy the environment and beers! I had the Key Lime Cream-Sic-Ale, the Orange Cream-Sic-Ale, the Trippy Pippy’s Red Dred Ale and a stout, which I was surprised I actually enjoyed because I am not a fan of any stout.

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The brewery has a menu of appetizers and small bites or you can just walk outside to one of the many food trucks that frequent the brewery’s parking lot.

Party Flavors Custom Cakes:

Our anniversary is coming up in ten days and we are looking forward to eating our weight in cake after our visit to Discovery Cove. We chose Party Flavors Custom Cakes for our wedding and instead of having to keep cake in our fridge for a year, Party Flavors actually bakes you a simple cake on your anniversary — you just have to give them a week’s notice and the flavor you’d like! For the wedding we couldn’t decide what flavor we wanted so each tier was different: Lemon, Strawberry, Amaretto and Bailey’s. We decided on Amaretto for our anniversary cake which is actually their most popular flavor. The staff is extremely helpful and easy to work with and the cakes are pretty much thebomb.com so I highly recommend them.

Is anyone checking out the new CycleBar in Winter Park over the weekend? I’ll be there on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, ready to die on a stationary!

xx

21 Day Fix: Athletic Prowess Of An Uncooked Noodle

In seventh grade, I was awarded a shiny, gold, medal. It was given to me out of sheer pity by my physical education teacher during our Field Day. It was a participation medal for being the worst left midfielder in the history of soccer. Things haven’t improved much since.

I’m not sure if you’re aware but I have the athletic prowess of an uncooked noodle, so starting the 21 Day Fix after a lifetime of putting zero effort into working out was quite the adventure.

Stats:

Weight: 143 pounds

Waist: 31 inches

Good luck sleeping tonight, kids.

 

Round One of the 21 Day Fix: Random Thoughts

  • Day One, Total Body Cardio Fix: After thirty minutes of surrenders, side shuffles, x-country skiers, knee pulls and oblique crunches, I needed my inhaler. It was hard keeping up, but I powered through. The most exercise I had gotten recently was running barefoot from the garage to the mailbox on a particularly cold and rainy day. There is no way the instructor, Autumn Calabrese, is real and I am 99.9 percent sure she is a robot created by BeachBody to boost sales.

 

  • Day Two, Upper Fix: I went too hard on Day One, refusing to modify any of my exercises and woke up in the most unimaginable pain. The upbeat music on the DVD didn’t fool me anymore. Today I was Kat the Modifier. Kat is the only girl on the DVD series with a normal body. She demonstrates the modified exercises for us weaklings and only uses a pair of light weights (which is perfect because I still haven’t run out to buy heavier weights…). This day wasn’t any easier. With exercises like the transverse twist, push-ups and planks to scissor twists and front raises, I seriously wondered if Sleep Gym was a thing I could sign up for.

  • Day Three, Lower Fix: My legs were still in pain from Day One and I had no idea how to alleviate them. Turns out that the only way to make them stop hurting is to exercise some more. I was starting to get the hang of this! My legs were on fire from the side lunges, sumo squats and thigh lifts and I completely forgot I was in pain.
  • Day Four, Pilates Fix: Instead of routines with repetitions like the past few days, the pilates workout focused on six series which focused on different areas: abs series, high-plank series, C-series, side series, Superman series and lower-plank series.
  • Day Five, Cardio Fix: I didn’t know someone existed that could be more excited about the 21 Day Fix than Autumn, but there was Maddie, one of the girls on the video, making us all look bad. I’ve never done a burpee in my life and I kind of looked like a baby trying to stand up. And the oblique knee pulls were a cause of great concern because both of my hips continuously popped during the repetition. Hold that thought, let me check WebMD and see if there’s something wrong with me…
  • Day Six, Dirty 30: The name is a lot more terrifying than the actual workout and I found it to be similar to the Total Body Cardio Fix, but less intense. I will say I still haven’t mastered the art of the plank and lost my balance, causing me to fall flat on my face during the workout.
  • Day Seven, Yoga Fix: Woo-hoo! Recovery Day! I loved this workout because it gave me a chance to cool down, but I hated it at the same time because my mind wanders a lot during yoga. I fell behind and found myself laying on the ground questioning life a.k.a. in the Corpse Pose.
Look at me, a flippin’ natural.

Lessons learned:

  1. Buy heavier weights. Towards the end of the week, I found myself wanting to move on from my old aerobics weights and try harder. My lack of car stopped me from getting new ones.
  2. Try harder at portion control. Between lunch outings, celebrations and the Super Bowl I can say my diet went out the window.
  3. Do the modified exercises when I’m tired!
  4. Don’t focus on losing weight. Since last week, I haven’t lost or gained any weight, but my resistance to the exercises is increasing and I feel better about myself. And who knows, this might be the thing to catapult me into marathon running. Jokes!

I’ll be going to Colombia, Mexico and Tennessee back-to-back-to-back starting next week, and I thought that keeping up with the workouts would be difficult. Luckily I found this blog that breaks down each workout so I’ll be getting well acquainted with it.

I’ll try to not fall off the wagon this week! Any words of wisdom?

xx

Flipping the Bird Friday: My 2009 Nissan Altima Paperweight

This week’s sour mood has been brought to you by Nissan.

I’ll just leave this right here,” I thought, as I sneakily left a Nissan brochure on my dad’s nightstand on the last day of my Puerto Rico vacation. That was seven years ago.

A few months following that, I turned 18, walked across the stage, received my high school diploma and a shiny, new 2009 Nissan Altima. Life was perfect.

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This little car took me on so many adventures, starting with my very first speeding ticket and car accident (back-to-back because I was a terrible driver) to getting caught on every red light camera in Central Florida (you’re welcome for the influx of cash, City of Orlando).

But little did I know that this car had a secret bubbling inside of it, waiting for the perfect moment to blow up in my face and leave me questioning everything in life…

On Monday, I drove my car to the shop because the two front tires needed to be replaced. I thought nothing of it and my husband took me to work, come to find out that by midday, my car still hadn’t been worked on because the mechanics couldn’t start it. They said the smart key’s signal wasn’t connecting with the car.

I decided to do some online snooping and quickly came upon pages and pages of Nissan customers who specifically bought different Nissan models in 2009, complaining about steering lock mechanism failures. That had to be it.

One tow truck and one Nissan dealership diagnostic transaction later, that was indeed the problem, and a costly one at that. The part I need replaced ranges from $400-600, plus labor, rounding up to a whopping $1,000 (not to mention I still haven’t even replaced my two front tires!).

Turns out that Nissan was and is aware of this issue and a few years ago, extended the warranty for the fleet of cars affected by this. My vehicle registration number falls in that group. However, because I missed the window of opportunity as I was unaware of this warranty (warranty ended March 2015) and because I’ve driven too many miles (silly me, should’ve moved to a state in which everything is a lot closer together), I do not qualify to get financial aid (I believe they pay up to a percentage).

Their regional offices tried to explain the above to me (after having me wait an entire day to call me back), justifying why they could not help me but I could care less. If I owned a business and I know I sold you a sh**** product with issues, hey, let me make it better for you. Let me help you out. They also tried to pin this on me by saying, “Well, the last time you brought your car in was in 2009…”

THAT IS BECAUSE MY CAR HAS NEVER HAD A PROBLEM. I WAS HAPPY WITH THE PURCHASE. I CHANGE MY TIRES. I CHANGE MY BRAKES AND SERPENTINE BELT AND WIPERS. I GET OIL CHANGES. I AM RESPONSIBLE.

Luckily my car gave up on life at a shop. I cannot imagine having gotten stranded somewhere at night and having to figure this out on my own.

If you’re one of my Twitter followers, I apologize for the barrage of tweets towards Nissan, but they really struck a nerve with me this week.

I’ll leave you with this so that you can laugh:

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Have you ever been let down by a company or received less than stellar customer service? How did you deal with it?

xx

 

Merry Chistmas* To You!

Christmas is a month away!

Cue A Very She & Him Christmas on repeat (and the only way you should jam out to holiday classics), quoting Elf nonstop (Bye, buddy! Hope you find your dad!) and CHRISTMAS DECORATING!

(And I apologize for skipping over Thanksgiving but I have no desire to deck out my home with a giant inflatable turkey.)

 

The Christmas Psycho (my self-given nickname) has already paid a visit to the Fernandez-Figueroa household (as it turns out, we aren’t legally married yet and I can’t change my last name. Living in sin, for the win!). Living room and outdoor lights are already set up (are you jealous, neighbors?)!

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As I sat in the living room, admiring our beautiful tree and trying to figure out where to buy a tree skirt that doesn’t require me taking out a loan, I noticed something peculiar about our Target “Merry Christmas” garland.

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OUR GARLAND SAYS MERRY CHISTMAS! I’m not sure if I should keep it and be ironic or demand my money back. Either way, I dug through our trash (cold piles of chicken bones and beer bottles, if you’re wondering) only to find that the receipt was in my purse the whole time.

Anyway, all this Christmas talk reminded me of the ever-growing list of people I want to buy presents for this holiday season and I find myself wishing, “If I only made a little bit more I could afford a present for so-and-so…”

Halston and I both make a decent living, don’t have crazy debts to pay off and yet there I sat on the couch, feeling bad for myself because I can’t afford EXTRA PRESENTS. Reality Check. Clearly I’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas: a little less consumerism and a little bit more Jesus.  Can I get an amen?

Take a few minutes today to enjoy the cool weather and give thanks for all you have! And make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter tonight while I document my stay at the Gaylord Palms and check out ICE! 

 

xx