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#Thankful

Hello friends! How have you all been? We are almost out of 2020 and I know that for a lot of us it is a relief. You can bet that when I celebrate New Years I will CELEBRATE the new year. Not that 2020 was ALL bad. In history it probably will go down as one of the worst years but I think we learned how resilient we can be. Even in the midst of a global pandemic we found ways to be kind to each other, make each other laugh with some of the funniest memes I've seen yet, and we worked on ourselves while spending more time with our loved ones. Those that we lost will be dearly missed and for those that have worked hard to keep us safe and care for us when we got sick, I am beyond thankful. I wanted to just come on here, this little space of the internet where I can say what's on my mind, and tell you all that I am thankful for your readership. Your comments always make me so happy and when I get private messages about a post I am thrilled. Thank you! Keep them coming. Thank you to all the friends, family and internet friends that supported my art by making purchases on my Society 6 shop and commissioning me to make art prints and designs. Let me not forget those of you that seeked me out to photograph your beautiful families in your most special moments. It was more than I expected and I am so, so grateful. Beyond me, I am thankful for my family's health and for my friends that are just thriving and it makes me so happy to see them doing so. What are you all thankful for this November 2020? Love you all!

Voting Early in Hialeah

Election season will soon come to an end friends. I hope you all have taken the opportunity to cast your vote! This year I did the early voting thing because I plan to be out of town on Election Day. The closest early voting place was the J.F.K Public Library in Hialeah. I love this library. I've featured some photos of the art surrounding this book heaven on my Insta and I've done some research about the City of Progress within its walls and among its shelves. On that hot and sunny Friday morning I was there for a different purpose. To cast my vote for president as well as other elected officials. I stood in line for about 30 minutes, maybe less. I wore a mask. I social distanced. I didn't accept any flyers from people handing them out. As soon as I got in line the older gentleman behind me started to make conversation. Agh early morning small talk is the best lol. I now know that there is an older man who lives in West Hialeah that has worked at the Miami International Airport for 25 years, he just retired and lives with his wife and grown children. His daughter is in Cuba and she wanted to be a doctor but ended up being a pharmacist because she did not like seeing hurt people. He recently sent her money so she could get herself a motor scooter to get around. Once we were inside the library I lost track of my new friend. His guajiro hat and stories will be missed at my next election. As I weaved my way through the crowded library I was offered hand sanitizer many times. A came up to a lady with my ballots in hand and she asked me if I was there to vote. What a strange question. I thought of replying as my brother sometimes does to silly questions "No I'm here to hunt deer." But alas I did not and instead replied with a simple "si." In my little privacy booth I pulled out my cheat sheet on my phone and shaded in my choices. Back in the hallways a lady guided me with her puckered lips to where I would cast my ballot. Another older man greeted me and asked me two questions. "Did you fill out your ballot?" I replied yes. "Are you happy with your choices?" I said "mmm eh." My ballots went into a machine and I was out the door with a final spray of hand sanitizer. Do your duty friends! GO AND VOTE!

4 Basic Elements of a Minimalist Photo

Hello and welcome to another blog post! Last week I conducted a quick Instagram survey asking what you all would like the next post to be about and most of you said you wanted a post with photo tips! And because your wish is my command, here is a post all about how to shoot the perfect minimalist photo. Minimalist photography is characterized by its simplicity of subjects, colors and composition. There's something just so fresh about a minimalist photo that makes the eyes linger. If you want to capture these kinds of photos or if you're simply wondering why you can't help but double tap on IG when you see a minimalist photo, this post is for you! Use of Negative Space Negative space is empty space in your photo to which your subject is offset. It can be anything from a clear sky, a field of grass, a blank or unadorned wall, the ocean, a lake, an otherwise empty table or floor. Negative space makes your subject stand out and therefore can make it more striking to look at. Isolate your Subject The point of a minimalist photo is to draw the viewer's attention to your subject. As you frame your shot, look for a way to isolate your subject from any other distracting elements in the area. If you want to capture just a palm tree, move around it until you have only it and the clear blue sky behind it in frame. You might have to get super close to your subject, or very low to the ground, or shoot straight up into the sky until you can get it all by its lonesome. You get it! Color Play I like to keep the colors in my minimalist photos to a minimum -lol- and I like to create contrast between my subject and its surroundings. A pop of color can make your subject stand out more and draw and hold the attention longer. It also keeps it from getting lost in the negative space. This is achieved by using one color for the background and a contrasting, bright color for your subject. Composition This goes for ALL photos whether minimalist or not. Use the lines and shapes in the photo to guide the eyes and tell a story. Use the shapes and shadows to ultimately lead the viewer to what you want them to look at.

Add a Little Green to Your Scene

Plants are in. A quick scroll through Instagram will reveal that most people are finding the benefits of keeping a green buddy nearby. If not for a boost of serotonin then at least for a great photo. Either way, plants are known to be mood boosters, natural air purifiers and help keep us in touch with a little bit of the natural world. Specially when we spend a lot of time indoors. And like us, plants need some tender love and care. But some plants need less tender love and care and make great companions for those of us that have not been gifted with a green thumb. My very average green thumb has experimented with different kinds of plants. May those that perished rest in peace. But these three are the troopers of the indoor green world. Snake Plant If you manage to kill this plant I will personally give you an award. It is the Bruce Willis of plants. And my favorite aspect is that she is very happy staying in one planter forever and ever amen. You can keep them outside or inside. She doesn't care. She's going to do her plant thing and thrive. Water her when you remember. Keep her by a window or don't, whatever. She doesn't care either way. She is however, toxic to pets so be sure to keep her away from your furry friends. Devil's Ivy Not sure why the harsh name but she's a sweetie pie. One of the coolest features of this plant is that she starts to hang outside of her pot after a while giving your indoor area a really cool tropical vibe. You can keep her in water or soil and she'll do great in either. If you do keep her in water, change it every one or two weeks so she can get some fresh oxygen. Peace Lily The Peace Lily is a drama queen but she's just wanting your attention is all. Don't be afraid when you come home and she's all droopy. Give her some water and she'll be good as new. She likes to be watered once every week and if you give her too much she'll let you know with some yellow leaves. Don't give her enough and she'll also let you know with some brown leaves. Of all three, this Lily will give you a couple of really cool looking flowers once a year. They will stick around for a couple of weeks and then Peace out. LOL Get it? Peace Lily. Peace out. Okay. You get it. Let me know if you own one of these cuties! Have any care suggestions? Tell me in the comments :-)

Keep it Simple, Make It Beautiful

Very soon I will be turning 30. Honestly, I don't care much for turning the big three o. I would rather live in an eternal 29 but this is how life works and in the end age really isn't nothing but a number. Right? Right?! In all seriousness, I hope I inherited my parents' genes which keep them looking younger than they actually are. But in case I didn't inherit them, I have consulted with my dearest dermatologist on what should live in my make-up bag to keep me looking my best. Dr. Hernandez suggested I keep an at-home make-up kit and another, smaller on-the-go make-up bag. This way I can keep my face looking fresh even if I don't go home until the end of the day. The good doctor also knows how I feel about complicated routines so she made it real simple for me to stay beautiful in my 30s. For your at-home kit the must-haves are sunscreen, mascara, primer, concealer and setting powder. And for on-the-go, keep powder sunscreen to re-apply, compact mirror, lipstick, blotting sheets to absorb oil, setting spray to stay FRESH. "Okay, great Dr." I said. "Do you recommend any brands?" "MANY," she answered. For sunscreen Cerave 30-50 is her recommendation. Less than 30 you're not getting enough protection and more than 50 is not a thing. To reapply sunscreen she likes Super Goop's Hello Sunshine Invisible setting powder with 45 SPF. Her go-to mascara is the Korean brand Crying Heroin. For primer she suggested Benefit brand and for concealer Born This Way by Too Faced. And let us not forget lipstick: Pat McGrath. Sunscreen is in! Check out Super Goop's extensive range of sun protection. Sun damage is, after all, the number one cause of skin aging. If you're looking for my dermatologists deets, write me! And if you want to wish me a Happy Birthday, leave me a comment below :-)

Book Review: Plastic by Frank Strausser *No Spoilers*

Welcome to my first book review on the blog! Today, I come to you from my parent's dining room table because I got bored by myself at my place so I came here to bother them. Last week I finished reading my Kindle copy of Plastic by Frank Strausser. Since then I have been ruminating on what I read to be able to bring you a book review that is as fair as possible and also as short as possible so you can get back to what you were doing. Synopsis: We follow main character Dr. Harry Previn, a plastic surgeon, through some sticky business he gets dragged into involving Hollywood celebrities, agents, producers and that whole world. Likes: I really enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes of the plastic surgery scene. Strausser did a good job of making me feel like I was the eyes on the wall at a surgeon/patient consultation and I was very much interested and invested in the surgical procedures. Dislikes: No character development!!! I read this whole book and did not care for any of the characters, not even a little bit. I didn't even dislike them. Plain and simple just didn't care. The plot was boring and lacked action, suspense, adventure. Just a lot of dialogue and us listening to Dr. Previn's thoughts which were as entertaining as zoom meeting on how to conduct a zoom meeting. Rating: I will use a tea cup scale to rate books on this blog. Just because I like tea and I drink tea when I read. One tea cup being BAD and five tea cups being GEWD! Strausser's Plastic gets 🍵🍵 two tea cups from me. Have you read it? Did you like it? Will you read it or pass after this review? Tell me in the comments!

A List of My Favorite Things -With Links ;-)

One of my favorite things on Instagram is tagging. Location tagging, account tagging, but most of all product tagging. Why? Because there are some really cute things people are using that I want to use too! How else am I going to know where they got it if they don't tag it? So thank you to all those of you I follow that tag where you got your things :-) And in the spirit of sharing where we get our favorite things (some of which I am wearing in this post's photo), I will share with you a list of my favorite 20 things and where I got them. If you click on the links and buy the things I might make some money. A girl has to hustle :-P Misfit Vapor Smartwatch I'm a big fan of tracking my habits so this smartwatch is a great add to my accessories drawer. It keeps tabs on my steps, heart rate and I can record a ton of different exercises (but mostly I record cycling, meditation and walking). Fujifilm X-T10 Mirrorless Camera The vintage looks of this DSLR are what drew me in. It's lightweight so it's easy to just drop it in a backpack, purse of hang it on my shoulder. My favorite feature is the wireless transfer of photos from the camera to my phone. Fixie Bike I like things simple and nothing in life gets as simple as a fixie bike. One gear. Go. Livho Blue Light Blocking Glasses Protect your eyes friends! Block those blue light rays from your phone, computer and tv. Since I started wearing these my migraines have gotten better and I fall asleep much quicker. CLAVUZ Soak Off Gel Nail Polish Set When COVID-19 hit and nail salons closed this was my answer to keeping a fresh gel mani. Now that salons are open again this is my answer to saving some dough. HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner with LED Light Bou Bunny is a big fan of pushing hay out of her carrier whenever she's in the car so this little portable vacuum with a A/C power plug helps me keep things clean. CONFETTI WATERCOLOR Palette My favorite watercolor palette to use when I'm looking for bright and easy to mix payments. Venus Vera Bradley Razor and Shaving Cream Can we talk about how incredibly sweet smelling this shaving cream is? I was not a believer in shaving cream, I honestly thought that soap does the job and does it cheaper. But friends, this shaving cream creates a rich lather letting the razor glide through leaving ZERO nicks and cuts. LOVE! ME! Bath Pure Hemp Lotion Moisturize your skin and indulge the senses with this body lotion. She's my nightly go to after I shower and before bed. Sephora's Matte Red Lipstick Is it really me if I'm not wearing matte lipstick? It's not. Monat's Be Gentle Face Wash My combination skin has made it a challenge for me to find a face-wash that wont over-dry my skin or break me out. This one is the only one that I have been able to use for a prolonged period of time with no issues. Monat's Air Dry Cream Wash your hair and apply this cream after towel drying and your good to go! I'm kind of lazy when it comes to styling my hair so this air dry cream is a life saver for me. It leaves my hair frizz-free and shiny. What's not to love? Aveeno's Mineral Facial Sunscreen There is a sunscreen revolution happening and I am here for it. Protect your faces friends! Sun damage is the leading cause of looking old. Aveeno's mineral sunscreen keeps you from looking oily and it protects your face. Watercolor Art Print of my Bunny I painted it for you. Colorful Bubble Stickers by Me! For you. Watercolor Boho Girls Planner Stickers These are not by me but I love them and use them to decorate my planner and they are so cute! Ponte Las Pilas T-Shirt by Martha of Miami Because we have to! Blue Sky Planners Here's to hoping that 2021 will give us more to plan. Solar Powered String Lights My favorite way to light up my yard. Get you some. Tailwind This is what I use to schedule my Instagram posts. Say what?? You don't actually post everyday at the exact same time? Nah lol

The Importance of Letting Go

When I was 26 I fell in love. Hard. I wasn't even looking to fall in love which, if you know me, was rare. Those days in my life were spent daydreaming about some handsome boy I would meet under love-story-type of circumstances and we would live happily ever after and go on adventures non-stop. But when I met this person, which for his privacy's sake I'll call Ronaldo, I had just about given up on the idea of meeting someone in the style of a Taylor Swift song because I had other things going for me. I was enjoying my job, my friendships, independence and traveling. Then he walked in. All tattoos and beard and straight teeth and muscles on his muscles. I should have known he was trouble, pero no. Ay Keilita caramba (as my dad says when I royally mess up.) Ronaldo asked me out and I said yes but then the day came and I chickened out and canceled at the last minute. This happened once more and then on the third ask I actually did go. He made me laugh, told me I was smart, took me places I hadn't been to before, called me in the mornings and nights and texted me throughout the day. We were both gym rats and worked really well together, when we worked out we didn't even need to talk to know what the other one needed. Some nights we would talk until two or three in the morning about everything and anything. I was happy because I thought I had found my person. Then, very slowly and so quietly I didn't even notice things began to change. He would say things like "Tu no me quieres de verdad, yo no te importo...." and all that manipulative monologue which I didn't recognize at that time. So I tried harder to show him I cared. He met my parents, visited my church a couple of times, came to a few family functions . And that was it. No one saw him after our first year together because he stopped trying. I was convinced I was the problem because he told me so. "Ya tu no eres la Keila de antes," was one of his favorite lines. So I would try to be her again. Except I couldn't because I was always walking on egg shells and la Keila de antes was happy and full of joy and trust. Any problem that would come up, I would be the one to solve it. I'm talking everything from a doctors note because he missed work to helping him sell his car to then buy another car. I was basically Olivia Pope minus the fancy apartment and big wine glasses. My projects, my friends, my family, church, everything, took a backseat to him. My face was breaking out, I was always sick, and I was always crying. Pero ahi seguia yo caramba. Because I was convinced I could fix us. He blocked me several times as a way to get me to "behave". My misbehaviors included but were not limited to: disagreeing with him, not answering the phone when he called, taking too long to text back, going somewhere without texting him that I was going there, not letting him look through my phone, and many more. It was an emotional rollercoaster. One day we were good and the next we weren't. I was basically addicted to the "good" times so I was willing to walk through the really dark and terrible times to get my next "high". I did some research and this is apparently called emotional addiction. My brother, my cousin May and my best friend slapped sense into me, figuratively and sometimes also literally. They reminded me of who I was. They showed me what I had become but most importantly they stood up for me when I didn't know how to stand up for myself. They helped me re-wire my brain. The last time Ronaldo blocked me friends, was the last time he blocked me. Cuando se le paso su perreta me llamo pero no conteste. Me escribio, pero no conteste. Me dejo un voicemail, pero no respondi. Hasta un email me mando. Pero NO conteste. Antes el me bloqueaba y ahora yo lo bloqueo. Me libere! Sure I missed him sometimes but then I remembered how AWFUL he was and I got over it. I went out with my friends, read books, ate well, slept well, rode my bike, went to the beach, watched movies, laughed, went on dates, grew my hair, did my nails, walked, journaled, danced. I'm thriving. My health is good again, I see my family and my friends much more often, I have projects I'm invested in, I'm happy. But most importantly, I have peace. I was convinced I could make it work, but friends, what's not meant for us won't ever work and the more we try the sadder we will be. We will break off pieces of ourselves to fit through some door that's not for us. I learned that the hard way. Look at your healthy relationships. They are based on give and take, balance, growth, sympathy, compassion, communication, loyalty. Le deseo que este bien, pero bien lejos de mi. If it's not meant to be, let it go because it will make you sick and keep you from the things that ARE meant for you. Had I stayed with Ronaldo, I would have never started this blog or started my online shop or been there for my friends and family when they needed me and I would have never been able to do my job as well as I do. Also, he was taking up the space meant for some cool dude out there who is meant for me. Porque lo que esta pa ti, nadie te lo quita! And now I leave you with this Bible verse: Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:17. <div id="amzn-assoc-ad-e4030b0c-8132-4514-aaae-b2658aeca48c"></div><script async src="//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US&adInstanceId=e4030b0c-8132-4514-aaae-b2658aeca48c"></script>

A Saturday Cleaning Playlist

If you grew up in a Cuban household like I did, you likely remember been woken up to your mom or dad's favorite singer blasting from an old radio somewhere in the house. As you got out of bed and sleepily walked to the kitchen for breakfast you might have found your mom mopping or dusting while singing along or your dad dancing it out while doing some work in the yard. Now that I'm older and have my own place, I keep this tradition alive by blasting my own tunes on Saturday mornings while I clean and tidy up. Below, I present you my Saturday Morning Cleaning Playlist and why I chose each song. Ahora Quien- Marc Anthony. We're going to start it slow. Get warmed up while I drink some cafecito and tidy surfaces to make dusting easier. Tu No Metes Cabra- Bad Bunny. Call my mom on FaceTime while this is playing because she hates this kind of music. Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels- Todrick Hall. I pretend I'm on a runway strutting as I spray and wipe, spray and wipe, spray and wipe wooo! Truth Hurts-Lizzo. Do some lip synching to this using the broom as a mic. Not much brooming happens. The Greatest-Sia. I play this one while vacuuming because I can hear Sia's screams over the vacuum and keeps me pumped. Hostage-Sia. Now I'm ready to mop the floor so I'm sliding around with intermittent lip synching when I pass the mirror. Sunset Lover-Petit Biscuit. Start winding down with this one while I clean the bathroom. Seven Seconds- The Band Perry. First time I heard this song I couldn't believe it was The Band Perry. I remember them being way more country. This one is for when I'm done and rewarding myself with a seltzer while hanging out in my hammock. What do you listen to when you're cleaning? Tell me in the comments! :-D

Best Photography Advice I've Ever Received

When I was in college my favorite class was black and white photography. I took that class because I needed some credits to graduate and it didn't really matter what class it was so I figured why not something easy peasy lemon squeeze. It was a super fun class because we got to shoot photos with film cameras and develop them in the university's dark room. It was so old school; I felt like a magician dipping the photo paper in all the different chemicals to then see, like magic, an image appear on the paper. My professors were an older couple, both photographers, both hilarious. They didn't like "cute" photos. They preferred new perspectives on typical things. That is why I got a C on a postcard-like photo of a boat and a A+ on a sinister looking photo of a hot dog oven in the school cafeteria. For the life of me I cannot remember their names, but I can recall the three pieces of photography advice that to this day ring in my head anytime I'm out shooting. The Best Camera is the One on You One of the must-haves for the class was to have a film camera. I got so caught up trying to figure out which one was the best one to purchase I ended up going to office hours and asking my professor which one he recommended to get. He asked me what I had been shooting photos with so far and I showed him a disposable camera I had purchased until I could get a better one. Mr. Professor said that was the best camera I could use because I had it on me already. Fancy cameras are great but if they're so fancy that you're always thinking about how you can't take them places because they can break, then they're useless. That's why I love the iPhone. It's always on me and ready to shoot at a moment's notice. Shoot the Obvious Photo and Then Keep Shooting The boat photo I got a C on was a very obvious shot. I walked to the bay, saw a boat, centered it on my view finder and took the photo. I was done. If I were to do it again, I would try to get photo of the boat reflecting off the water or maybe just a section of the boat with a backdrop of sky. So, to get a really creative photo, get the very obvious, "cute" one out of the way first. Get it as Best as You Can on Camera, then edit As you're out shooting, don't think about how the photo will look like after you edit on your phone or your computer. Get it as close to what you want it to be on the viewfinder. Get the lighting as best as you can ON CAMERA. Editing lighting too much, for example, might leave you with a grainer photo. Get close to the subject instead of cropping the photo later and you'll end up with more details and better lighting. Get close! It can be uncomfortable, but the best things happen out of your comfort zone, friend. What is the best photography advice you've received? Tell me in the comments below :-)

It's Because of Ya'll

Let me start out by saying that I'm writing this from Dallas hence, the Ya'll. Second of all, THANK YOU! Thank you to all my friends, family and strangers who have supported me by purchasing my stuff on Society6 and reading this blog. I'm always filled with so much joy when I get comments on my latests posts or a notification that someone is now in possession of something I made! When I started painting with watercolors and keeping this blog I did it because I have things to say and to show. Honestly, I didn't think it would be read by many or that I would get the response that I've gotten on things I've designed. This little space on the internet makes me so happy and it's all because you all find it useful. As you all know, I'm also making my way out of some debt I got myself into which I have written about here. So in addition to adding to my joy, you all are helping me reach my financial goals. Since I started doing this I've paid off an additional credit card! Calling my debtors and giving them their money was liberating to say the least. My life is simple, friends. I don't want a bunch of fancy things or expensive trips. Mostly, I just want to have peace of mind and love in my heart and a comfortable place to live that makes me happy and that I can share with others. I write that to say that my main goal with getting out of debt and being financially secure is not to amass wealth but to be able to help others the way you have all helped me. Have a great week and see you here next Wednesday :-D

My New Friend Christa*

Walking is one of my favorite ways to be active and of getting places. Before COVID-19 I walked to work every morning and back home in the afternoons. On Bumble, I met my friend Reesha and we started walking our neighborhood in the afternoons. It became one of the parts of my day I looked forward to the most. One, because Reesha is great to talk to and two, because something always happens when we walk together. One particular evening a couple of weeks ago, Reesha and I decided to walk the trails in the Miami Springs golf course. We spotted not one, not two, not three but FOUR foxes just prancing around the grounds. We thought "oh wow for sure always something cool happens when we go out to walk." But we didn't know what the evening had in store. As we neared the end of our walk, I spotted a woman walking about half a block ahead of us. It was dark but I thought I saw her stumbling and asked Reesha if she saw the same. She did not but when we got some feet closer, Reesha realized that the woman was indeed stumbling around. First. I suggested that we hang back and let her get a little further away in case she was a zombie but also so we could keep our social distance from a (more likely) drunk lady not wearing a mask. But then I re-thought the situation and decided that maybe it was best we help because that's the right thing to do and because I would be really annoyed with myself later if I didn't help. So for purely selfish reasons lol. We ended up getting to Christa* just as she fell to the floor. She was deeply embarrassed about falling and kept insisting she could walk home which was still a couple of miles from where we were. Reesha and I discussed and decided we should get her an Uber so she could get home safe. So we did and waited with her while the car came and then put her in the car when it arrived. Up to that point we were feeling pretty good. Then the driver asked me "did you call the car?" I said I had. "Do you know what happens if she throws up?" No. "You have to pay a fee." Okay. "It's a $200 cleaning fee." Oh well let's hope she doesn't throw up. "You ever heard the saying 'no good deed goes unnoticed'?" Yes. "Well I have a similar one, 'no good deed goes unpunished'." I almost cried because, friends, ya'll know I'm broke. So Reesha said: "Let's drive to the lady's house and make sure she's okay!" And we ran to Reesha's car. And we drove to our new friend's house. And she was okay. And I didn't have to pay a $200 cleaning fee. And now all three of us go walking in the afternoons. *name changed to protect identity.

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