Oh those city walls in Dubrovnik

dubrovnik, croatia

dubrovnik windows

The beautiful city walls of Dubrovnik should be at the top of your bucket list when visiting. Inside the old city you will find narrow streets full of restaurants, a church,  stores and of course… many, many, many steps so make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. You can enter the city walls from the old Harbor or Pile Gate but either entrance will give you access to spectacular city views.

fortress in dubrovnik

Not only will you feel like if you are in an episode of Game of Thrones but walking thru the city walls will give you the best views of the vast blue water surrounding the city.  I spent most of my money there eating back ice cream – Cokolada Extra Ice Cream.

war museum

Dubrovnik is a city full of history and one of my favorite experiences was taking the cable cars to the top of the mountain and visit the Museum of Croatian War of Independence. The building itself is a fort and you can climb the stairs to the top and see the city from a different angle. Afterwards you can even rent an ATV and go on a safari trip up there as well.

boats

There are so many things to do and places to visit. You can take a ferry to Lokrum Island from the old city port and bathe in the nude beach (not my cup of tea but I heard its beautiful) or hike up to the fort.  You can also island hop the Elafiti islands and enjoy the beaches and the hiking trails.

dubrovnik 2017

I truly fell in love with this city and its people! To see more of our adventures in Croatia check out my video.

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Healthy made delicious

desiree-rodriguez

It’s a new year and I am sure that some of you probably had “eating healthy” on your list as one of your new year’s resolution. I know I did and broke it the next day but don’t worry as I want to introduce you to one of my good friends, Desiree Rodriguez. Not only does she inspire people to eat healthier but she has a list of amazing plant-based recipes that anyone can make. Desiree loves incorporating her Puertorican roots into her dishes and you will be amazed how easy and delicious they are to make. Her collection of original and Latin inspired plant-based recipes along with her blog will definitely motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle. We sat down to have a quick chat with her and her future plans. Don’t forget to visit her website at www.ricanvegan.com to learn more about her and her amazing recipes.

Can you please explain what consists of a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet consists of eating only real whole foods that are nutrient dense such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. This way of eating does not include eating any meat, fish or animal byproducts such as cheese, eggs, or cows milk. Also, processed foods containing chemical preservatives, excess sugar, salt and oil are avoided.

Who is your favorite role model?

My favorite role model is Oprah Winfrey because she is very inspirational and she inspired me to find what I love to do and make it my job. My blog is the combination of my love for creating recipes and helping people and without Oprah helping me realize it I would have never started it.

Any tips and advice you can share to help us start making healthier choices in our busy schedules?

Planning and making your meals in advance can help ensure that you will always have a healthy meal available to eat when you have a busy week ahead of you. Preparing double batches of your meals also saves you time because you would only need to cook once and can eat twice. I would also recommend carrying healthy snacks with you where ever you go so if you get hungry you can eat one of your snacks and avoid buying something unhealthy.

Any future collaborations in the works?

I am actually getting ready to film a recipe demonstration video with another blogger who makes vegan dishes. We are collaborating on a dessert recipe that consists of making ice cream from frozen bananas instead of milk. That video will be posted on my blog and YouTube channel. I am working on a cookbook that will be available on my blog later on in the year. I have The Spark Program which is my 6 week plant-based coaching program where I work one on one with people helping them properly transition to eating a plant-based diet.

Vegan-Chocolate-Chip-Banana-Nice-Cream-Sandwiches

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Making a statement while caring for patients

dr. marium-kazmi

Meet Dr. Marium Kazmi! I’m so happy to introduce you to one of my best friends – she is smart, kind, and a master with the make-up brush. She is not only a doctor but also a philanthropist and role model to her younger sisters. Just recently she had the honor of cloaking her younger sister, Rabiya, with her first white coat who is also following in her footsteps to become a doctor. She has indeed become an inspiration to her family and others as well. Her positivity is always contagious and did I mention she also makes a bold fashion statement in the office? She can make any outfit standout when she wears her coat. Her passion for helping others not only constitutes of being a mentor but also in helping her home country. Marium and her husband donated to the Lahaute Foundation who provide clean drinking water to the villages in rural Pakistan. Their donation made it possible to build a well for one of the villages and provide clean water. Women like her are individuals who are not only working hard to succeed but are also making a difference in the world. They put others before them and never forget where they come from. I wish her nothing but continued success!!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in medicine?

Medicine is such a wonderful field but as with all good things comes immense responsibility. My biggest advice is never to give up if you aspire to pursue a career in medicine. The journey is a long and hard one but the amount of joy you get from helping your patients is well worth the sleepless nights on call, the stress of exams and many sacrifices you have to make in your personal life. Make sure to balance your work and family life, many times you have to miss a lot of important occasions in life due to the long hours but surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends always helps.

Who was your role model growing up?

Growing up my role models were my parents. They immigrated from Pakistan and worked hard to provide everything they could for us. My parents were always helping people who were experiencing difficult times, they’re belief is that you should try and help everyone in any small or big way you can.

What advice would you give to working women who want to make a fashion statement in the office?

I feel that any working professional should always dress the part because your choice of clothing is a reflection of you. It shows you took the time to look presentable and respect your patients and coworkers. As for a fashion statement, I think each person has their unique style and it should reflect in their clothing. Most importantly for me, my choice of clothing for the office always has to be comfortable.

reception table
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Skydiving with my friends

Sky Diving

It was soooo exciting and I just can’t hide it! I finally did it – I went skydiving and it was awesome! It was a bit nerve wrecking as I saw all these skydivers land in the field nearby while driving to the Homestead General airport. The process there was pretty smooth as we went inside the building and registered with the staff. It consisted of watching a video (reminding you once again how you may die) and signing your life away on a bunch of documents.

Once we were called we headed towards the dressing room where we were strapped tightly into our harnesses and given a quick tutorial on what to expect and how to land. Then the time finally came when we met our tandem jumping partners and started to board the plane. I guess we had a popular flight because we were squeezed pretty tight in the plane as there were several jumpers flying with us. I was pretty nervous as people kept boarding the plane but as soon as it took off and you could see the houses below, it felt like I was traveling to another city and wasn’t thinking about jumping off.

inside the plane

Once we reached the right altitude the big clear door opened and the jumpers started to jump off the plane. There was a fun group of 3 people who all jumped together and they must have gotten great footage from the Go Pros attached to their helmets. My turn finally came as I was the last one to jump. My tandem partner counted down READY…. SET…. JUMP… and all I could do was scream. But I wasn’t screaming because I was scared, I was screaming because I was soooo cold. I forgot that we are about 13,500 ft off the ground and it was very chilly and windy but it only lasted for a few seconds (although it felt like forever). As soon as I left the plane we were falling and all I could see were clouds and square patterns on the ground. The feeling of freefalling is unexplainable as you are not feeling like you are falling, you are not feeling nauseous, but you somehow feel free and when you open your arms it truly feels like you are flying.

soaring

We spun in the air in circles, which was pretty fun, and before you know it the parachute was pulled right as we went thru a cloud. It was so beautiful and I kept trying to grab a piece of the cloud here and there but it doesn’t work that way – you can’t just grab a piece of the cloud and put in your pocket. I took the reigns of the parachute for a while as I pulled left and pulled right and the views were amazing as you could see the Everglades, the Keys, the ocean, and even downtown Miami.

clouds

We finally reached our landing spot and it was pretty soft as we landed on a bed of rocks that felt more like a water bed. I was the last one out of the plane and it was so special to see that all your fellow jump partners made it to the ground safely. For those 15-20 minutes, we were all like a big family supporting each other and having a good time. It was a camaraderie that I will never forget and that was probably one of my favorite moments of this experience. Shout out to the guy with the pink helmet, need to know where he got that – I have to get me one of those.

I highly encourage everyone to try this at least once in your life as you won’t be disappointed. I was a bit nervous at first as this is something new that you are getting yourself into but this is what makes it all so cool. When you face their fears you feel a sense of empowerment and accomplishment and you feel like telling the world… Bring It On!

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Bridal Shower Bliss

bride to be
2016 is the year of marital bliss for two of my best friends. It was a hectic start to the new year as everyone was multi-tasking, crunching numbers, and working around the clock to meet deadlines. From eating Eiffel towers cake pops to celebrating in a country theme luncheon, it is an amazing year for my friends and an amazing display of bridal showers.

The first bridal shower of the year was a Paris theme backyard escape. As you enter the backyard you can’t help but notice the beautiful greeting table that contains the initials of the Bride and Groom, a sign-in book and an Eiffel tower. The introduction to this theme began with the entrance where the guests can start feeling the emotions and vibes upon signing in. The tables were decorated with small lanterns and vases with pink roses. A huge sign hung on the wall that said “She Said Oui” and giant posters of the Eifel Tower could be seen all over the backyard. It definitely felt like I was in Paris.

reception table

The main event was off course, the Dessert Table – especially the Macaroons. The Table had small Eiffel towers placed in the center and the macaroons were the highlight. They were delicately created and tasted so delicious that I loved all the flavors. A nice touch was labeling all the desserts as there were plenty. The red velvet cupcakes were decorated with the Eiffel towers and beautiful patterns. It also helped that the plates and silverware were pink with the Paris theme and the goodie gifts contained a “Merci” note.

Moving on to Spring, my other good friend just wrapped up her country themed luncheon at Loui’s restaurant in Coral Gables. This theme had elegant touches of rose bouquets and lemon-filled vases throughout the tables. The welcome table was full of mason jars so that everyone can write done a marriage tip for the bride and a beautiful scrapbook. My favorite game was a skittles game to help break the ice with all the guests. We each had to pick a color of a skittle from a jar and based on the color you chose you will have to describe a situation. For example, if I chose the color red then according to the game host I will need to tell the person next to me what I do for a living. It was a nice game to get to know each other and the bridal shower was a hit with the delicious appetizers and desserts.

mason jar

I can’t wait to attend her wedding later this year as I know it will be a success but more importantly she will be the happiest girl in the world. From macaroons to strawberry filled mason jars, it is a year of happiness for my dear friends and I wish them nothing but the best in their new chapter in life.

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