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What Your Abuela Didn’t Tell You — Post Grad

They say life flashes in a blink of an eye when you are having fun, or when you have spent the last year running around freaking out about your future. That’s how I’ve felt the last year  and a half since I graduated from DePaul University last November.

  I never expected to miss college as much as I have the last year. I miss constantly being busy, having your days planned out, always being around your friends, and really working towards something bigger. Upon graduating high school I was so ready to leave, I was ready for something bigger, to move out west and find somewhere I would fit in. 

  I feel like everyone prepared me to go to college, teachers, college advisors, older peers, and of course my Abuela. She would say the cutest things like “Cierras tus piernas” and “La marijuana es malo” she said the darndest things! But seriously, she always told me to take care of myself, and to study and learn a lot. I was so lucky to be furthering my education, something that is very important to me as my family in Cuba couldn’t when Fidel took power. 

  But when it came to preparing for post-grad, there wasn’t any direction except for officially being thrown out into the real world. 

  1. Everyone’s journey is different

With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever to compare yourself to others. We see people get accepted into graduate schools, travel all around the world, and get their dream job. It can get very overwhelming especially when you feel like you aren’t where you thought you would be. Whether you decided to dive straight into a career, travel for a year, or find yourself in a place where you don’t know what to do next — do what is best for YOU, not what is best for the person you keep stalking on Instagram. 

  1. Don’t try to stick to your college routine 

      It’s obvious that your routine is about to change, but don’t try to force your routine to be like how it was in college. I’ve tried so many times to mimic my schedule like the one I had from college. I time block, try to wake up at the same time, and structure my day around a schedule that wasn’t feasible for me. I’ve learned to flow and adapt to where I am now, not where I used to be. 

  1. Socializing takes effort

I didn’t realize how easy socializing with your friends and seeing people was in college. You are literally running around in the same circle as all your best friends- it’s so easy to run into them, study together, or just grab dinner after class. In post grad, everyone has opposite schedules, running around in opposite circles, and sometimes going out does not seem fun. With that said, put in the effort, keep friends that make that effort. Find new things around the city to do together and call the ones who don’t live in the same city as you. My friends were a crucial part of getting through the first year of post-grad, so I put in effort to keep them close.

  1. You are allowed to change your mind 

This is the number one thing I wish I had known in college.You are not tied to a degree, a job, or really anything. You don’t have to stick to the one path you set for yourself your freshman year, or even your senior year of college. You are always growing, your experiences are adding value to your life, and that shouldn’t inhibit you from doing what you want. If all your life you grew up and wanted to be a doctor, and one day you went to a fashion show and wanted to become a fashion designer — do it! Don’t be afraid to take that leap. You are the only one in your way. 

  1. Take that gap year 

Think about it…you have probably been on the go since you were 14 — your freshman year of highschool. Studying to get into college, extra circulators, testing prep, and being a teenager is straight up exhausting. Then you enter college, and spend four years partying, dating, working, and taking a full class load. It can be taxing on the mind and body, making it okay to take a break. Whether that be one month, six months, or two years. Take some time for yourself, rediscover your passions, travel, do all the things you said you wanted to in college but didn’t have the time to do. Time is only on your side, go with it, not against it. 

  1. Sleep deprivation isn’t cured overnight. 

The first couple weeks after graduation I would get so mad at myself for sleeping till 9 am, and then I really beat myself up for the days I slept till 11 am. I couldn’t understand  why even if I went to bed at 10 pm that I was still sleeping so late. It wasn’t till I started to go to therapy and seeing my doctor regularly, that I started to show more self-compassion for myself. I had over 4 years of long nights, 8 ams, my blood had become cuban coffee, and I am tired, was an understatement. I gave myself time, and patience, and a lot of sleep. 

  1. Right vs. Wrong 

Life is not black and white, there is no right or wrong. You are exactly on the path you need to be on. 

  1. You are not alone. 

Lastly, you are not alone. There are so many fresh out of college young professionals, that are freaking out as much as you are. Don’t let their LinkedIn profile picture fool you. Start talking about how hard post-grad is, come together with your friends and support each other. You don’t have to go through this transition alone, everyone is rooting for you. 

Personally, post-grad has been rough, but everyday I am getting through it. I’ve discovered a new sense of myself + it has truly brought my friends closer together to bond about how we don’t have our lives together. The best thing we can do is enjoy the present and the season we are in life right now.

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Cafecito To Go: Vail, Colorado


Hello my cafecitos, 

Over MLK weekend, I traveled with ten of my friends to Colorado. This is the second time I’ve been to “Colorful Colorado” in 7 months, both times I’ve been taken away by its beauty. After a quick flight to Denver, we made the three hour drive to Frisco for a weekend in the mountains. We rented a cozy Airbnb, big enough to fit all of us comfortably. Upon walking into the house, it was a mix of luxury and comfort. With a hot tub and a huge kitchen this place was designed for amazing post ski relaxation sessions. The kitchen gave us the opportunity  to cook most of our meals at home, really letting our group create meaningful memories (as well as saving my wallet from immense strain). If you end up in Colorado for a fun weekend on the Vail slopes, my biggest recommendation is to have your own car or rent a car. The drive to the slopes was about 30 minutes away, Lyfts + Ubers are unreliable, and most won’t drive that far. 

Eagle River Preserve:

On our way to Vail, we had a “if we see something interesting, we are going to stop” game which was a great change from the fast city pace. We stopped at the Eagle River Preserve, parked the car, explored the 72-acre land, and walked down to the river. Beautiful is an understatement. After exploring and taking some pictures, we felt ready for a fun weekend ahead. 

Vail Skiing:

Now for the main event! Skiing — like Rachel Green we wanted “shoop shoop shoop” down the slopes in Vail. I only skied one day, and once was enough. If you love hitting the slopes, I recommend going around to the different resorts. Buy any ski passes ahead of time as it will save you so much money. If skiing isn’t really your thing, Vail Village has so many cute shops, and restaurants to stop at during your day. We decided to end the day at the Ski Lodge for the coziness of the fireplace. We drank Irish coffee and snacked, as we talked about our crazy day on the slope. Thankfully, I was able to practice my ski skills on the bunny slopes at the children’s teaching school. 

Continental Divide Winery: 

The next day we went to Breckenridge and explored the town. Our first stop was the Continental Divide Winery – a hole in the wall, locally owned winery. We originally went there with the intention to participate in a wine blending class, but unfortunately they were booked up, so I suggest making a reservation. Instead we did a wine tasting, which was super affordable. For under $20 we were able to try 5 pours of wine. It was so fun to taste all the wines, and laugh around the large tables. The perfect apres ski activity. 

Empire Burger

After being tipsy from the wine, we needed food. We headed to Empire Burger for good old american post drinking food burgers, fries, and boozy milkshakes! A great place for a large group to meet. The burgers were juicy, and the shakes were delicious, but what really got me was the full range of sauces to choose from. Anywhere from parmesan peppercorn to wasabi mayo — a wide variety of 20 sauces is the way to my heart. 

Cabin Coffee Co.

Another stop in our day in Breck was for a “pick me up” coffee break. We stopped by Cabin Coffee, a local coffee shop, in Colorado. The coffee shop was spacious, warm and had a lot of instagramable photo ops. 

Butter Horn

We mainly ate breakfast at home, but on the last day we gave cooking a break and stopped by a small breakfast restaurant. This ski themed restaurant in Frisco was a few minutes walk from our Air bnb. We started with Irish Coffee’s and had delicious meals that kept us perfectly satisfied until lunch. They have homemade bagels which, along with 20 sauce options, is a key to my heart. I had lox and a bagel and it was so delicious. Definitely a hot spot for a morning outing. 

Siempre Viva Clothing + Los Libros 

I have been waiting to check out these stores for over a year now. My friend’s cousin owns these two stores nestled in Beaver Creek Colorado. Siempre Viva is a boutique that ethically sources homemade clothes from Mexican artisans, and only works with companies with ethical morals. I wanted to buy the whole store. Lucky for me they ship all over the United States. Across the courtyard is there bookstore Los Libros — a coffee shop and bookstore heaven. For a break from all the skiing, stop by grab a coffee, buy a book, and sit in the nook that overlooks the village. 

Vail Brewing Co

You can’t be in Colorado without stopping in one brewery. We had some time to kill so we stopped by Vail Brewing Co at Vail Village. To be honest what made this experience great was the customer service. I am not a big beer fan, but the server at the counter was so helpful and sweet. He knew so much about flavor profiles and helped me pick something I would like. They don’t sell food, but you can bring our own. It’s a great place to watch a sports game, play board games (we had a blast playing Scrabble), and drink good beer. 

BOL 

We were celebrating our friend’s birthday so we needed a place that can fit 10 people, and this worked really well. This restaurant did have a higher price mark, but worth the while, they had everything from duck ramen to pizza flatbreads. They have a bowling alley we wanted to check out, but it had a 2 hour wait, so make a reservation! 

Ollie’s Pub & Grub + Co. Bar

With all the skiing and wandering around, I really only had the energy to go out on the last night. We headed down to a few bars in Frisco to celebrate our trip. First we headed to Co. Bar for darts, pinball, and cheap drinks — something we don’t see often in Chicago. They played all latin hits and I was all for it. The bar got crowded so we decided to end the night at Ollie’s for a ski shot — Phi Phi Alpha, I’m ready for my close up. 

I am so grateful that I get to travel with my friends. I’m hoping this can be a yearly trip, but hopefully next year we can travel somewhere warm.

Besos,

Anais

Photos courtesy of Allie Klawitter Photography

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10 Things I Learned in 2019


Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2019 is over, but I am so glad that this chapter is finally ending. This year has probably been the hardest year of my life, but with all the discomfort came growth, new sense of adventure, and the best friendships I’ve ever had. Before the year was over, I wanted to share a few important lessons I’ve learned this year.

  1. Take Care of Your Space

I used to not care about the decorations in my room or the furniture in my apartment. For the entire time I lived in my previous apartment we had a whole empty room with one bookshelf, and I didn’t care that there wasn’t a dining room table. I always saw it as well I’m never home and I don’t want to be home, so why I would I spend energy?. Something shifted in me when I moved into my new apartment. Even though it was fully furniture, I wanted to make my room somewhere I wanted to go — I fully worked on getting new bedding, a tv with a tv stand, storage and organization bins and it has completed changed how I feel about being at home. Everything has a place and I feel so in place. I mean, after all, I do pay to live here I might as well make the best of it.

2. The Year of Boundaries 

Creating boundaries is a topic that comes up during almost every therapy session I’ve had. In the past 8 months, I have learned how to create boundaries with everyone, even the people closest to me. By creating boundaries, I’ve learned to say no and only give people what I can give people. I can’t take one other if I don’t have enough in my cup for myself. Words are important when it comes to creating boundaries, but it is all about the action and sticking to your gun, which for me has been the hardest part.

3. There is no excuse for being a bad friend

To say this year has been a very hard year is an understatement, but I always made sure I was there for my friends, and when I couldn’t be there I communicated that to them. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for others. At first, I thought it was because there was something wrong with me and I wasn’t being a good friend, but from seeing some other friendships, I learned that it wasnt me. Friendship is a two way street.

4. There is no shame in medication

At the peak of my depression this year, I finally discussed with my doctor about getting on antidepressants. For years I was always against the idea of going on medication, but as time went on and nothing has changed. To be honest, I felt defeated. I felt that my depression had won. Through therapy and opening up about my journey on Instagram, I learned that just because nobody talks about it doesn’t make it bad. Today, I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time and a big thank you to my medication.

5. You can change your mind about ANYTHING.

Whether it be where you live, your degree, you career choices, literally ANYTHING you can change your mind about. You don’t have to stick to one path.

6. Blondes have more fun.

‘Nuff said ; )

7. Advocate for your needs

This year in therapy I really worked on advocating for my own needs. I tend to put the needs of others first without communicating my own which only results to an empty cup. This year I learned how to tell others what I needed, and put my needs before others. It is still a work of progress, but I feel so much freedom in doing so. 

8. Every death brings a different kind of grief

This year was another hard year with the death of my [grand]mom. I was still grieving my Abuela, who passed almost three years ago, so I expected everything to tackle on my back. This time was different and I felt different. I can’t quite explain it, but it was a different kind of grief. I’ve learned to honor how grief makes me feel and to feel it out. I learned not to judge the differences.

9. The beauty of change


Changes don’t have to come when something is broken, or when the universe forces you out of something. Changes can come just for the sake of something new. This past year I moved into a new apartment and changed my serving job, and it was such a healthy change. Changing my environment and routine has been so healthy for me and helped my mental health tremendously.

10. It’s okay not to be okay, and it takes time to be okay.


Everyday I’m working to be better than the last. Some days are better than others, but I’m stronger than before, and everyday working on myself. This year I’ve been so grateful for my mental health journey. 


Well that’s all kids, this year and decade are coming to a close. Thank you all who supported Cafecito in Chicago. I am so excited for all the amazing things that are to come in 2020. I wish you un prospero ano with many grapes, pots and pans (classic Cuban tradition to ward off negative energy), and amor! 

Feliz Ano Neuvo, 

Anais

Follow my Cafecito in Chicago adventures on Instagram!

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My Current Favorites

Hey-lo *in your best Tia Concha voice” 

When I was younger, I used to watch A LOT of beauty vloggers on YouTube. I would spend so much time watching KathleenLights (still one of my favorites, una Cubana QUEEN), BeyondBeautyStar, and Zoella, just to name a few. My favorite videos to watch were Monthly Reviews. Nobody saw me the first 4 days of the months because I had so many favorite videos to watch! 

I wanted to throw it back and go old school with what I’m currently obsessing over right now. There is a little bit of everything for everyone — beauty, food, Chicago finds and more! 

  1. Hair Accessories 

I am on the hair scrunchie train and I am not coming off. I’ve loved mixing up look with a scrunchie or a headband. I’ve bought so many scrunchies in the last few weeks that I’ve had to cut myself off. A few of my favorites are from Lululemon, because they are great to work out in, and I love grabbing a pack from Francescas. I’ve also been loving these turban headbands, they chic up any outfit — I grabbed six headbands from Amazon for under $15. 

2. Fun Sunnies

Nothing makes me feel more myself when I am out at bar, the DJ is playing J. Balvin and I throw on a pair of a fun pair of sunglasses. I’ve been loving these clear pink heart-shapped glasses that are always in my bag before a night out on the town.

3. Room Decor/ Organization

I have been on a home decor/ organization kick since moving into my new apartment. Once my room is all set, I will be doing a room organization and decor post, but in the meantime I’ve been on buying new things for my room weekly. Before, I didn’t really care how my room felt, I improved with what I used and honestly I was working myself thin, that I didn’t want to be home. My type A workholic-self thought that the longer I was away from home, the more productive I was being, or the more social. Even though, I am still type A and a workholic, I am trying to enjoy the space I have and be at home, and comfy as possible. Also, having a place for every single thing has been amazing, is this what adulting is like? I can’t wait to share the final product. 

4. Vogue Editior — Jenna Rettert

I am always looking for new instagram influencers to follow. My friend introduced me to Jenna Rettert  and I am obsessed with her! She is a Beauty Editor at Vogue and has the best sense of fashion and beauty that I’ve seen in a long time. Her Instagram stories make me want to change my blog to Cafecito in New York City. She also has a really cute pup!

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Spooky seasonnnn 🦴💚🕸

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5. Disposable Camera

I know I’m a little late on the trend, but I love documenting life through photos– it’s why I love Instagram so much. In high school, I always had a disposable camera with me, I’m not really sure why I stopped using them. They make memories feel so nostalgic. I started to pick up the trend again, and put all my photos in a photo albums. I am so excited to one day show my kids and grandkids the loving and fun life I’ve been living.

6. Cafe La Llave Nespresso Pods

 think I just bought cafecito in the next ultimate level. First, shoutout to my roommate for having a nespresso maker, this couldn’t be better for me. The nespresso makes making cafecito in the morning so much easier. Next, a big shoutout to Cafe La Llave and Don Francisco Coffee for sending me so boxes of the nespresso cups, I’m all stocked up  for the next 3 months, honestly probably sooner than that as I drink 3 a day. I just pop a pod in and bam in less than a minute I have hot, fresh, cafecito con la espumita y todo, just like Abuela would make it.

Photo by: Allie Klawitter

7. Antique Taco

Now something for all my Chicago lovers. My new favorite taco place in the city — Antique Taco located in Wicker Park. This place has been on the list for a while, and once I finally went it lived up to the hype. We got a full spread. Queso, elotes, tacos, and margaritas! You can’t go wrong. I tried the potato and poblano taco and the shrimp taco. The potato was by far my favorite taco I’ve ever had, the taco had POTATO CHIPS. If you are in the Wicker Park area, check it out! There is also happy hour from 4-6 which is an added bonus.

8. Pacifica’s Coconut Essence Hydro Mist

This has been my go-to beauty product lately. I picked this up at Target and use it almost everyday. It is so hydrating and wakes my skin up, like cafecito for my face! It’s perfect for before putting on my makeup, for hot and sweaty days, for a refresh after a workout class, and I’m so excited to use it for the colder months. The spritz is so refreshing and helps enhance that no-makeup look. 

These are some of my day to day things that I’ve been loving lately. What are some other thing, people, or places I need to try before my next obsession’s post? Let me know via Instagram!

Besos,

Anais

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12 Fun Facts about Cafecito in Chicago

Hola mi gente!

It’s been a while since we last heard from each other! How are ya? How’s the family, the job, the animals? Good? Great! I wanted to give you more of an insight into my life. I share a lot on my blog and Instagram, but there is so much you may not know about me. So I present to you ”12 Fun Facts about me, Cafecito in Chicago.

  1. My name is pronounced (Ae-n ah-EE s).My parents named me after the French-Cuban author Anais Nin. It was definitely a harder name to grow up with as many people didn’t know how to pronounce it. I used to not care how people would say it, but as I got older I grew more confident in my name. 
  2. I’m really into astrology and always eager to learn more. I’m an Aquarius sun, Sagittarius moon, and a rising Leo. undefined
  3. In middle school I won two awards; one for “Driest Sense of Humor” and another forMost Likely To Be a Ninja” 
  4. My lucky number is 12 — hence why I chose to write 12 things about me. 
  5. I played the violin for 10 years. It was a really big part of my childhood and early teenage years. I went to a magnet middle school, overnight sleepaway camps, spent hours in rehearsals and private lessons, and even had the opportunity to travel for competitions. To be honest, it wasn’t something I truly enjoyed, but today I’m grateful for the experience.  
  6. I actually am not 100% Cuban — plot twist I know. My dad is full Cuban, but my mom is half Puerto-Rican and half Italian.  
  7. One of my top priorities are my friends. I take my relationships with others very seriously, and my friends are my world. I am truly the happiest when I am in the company of a close friend. I even wrote a letter to my college friends on my blog!
  8. I love going to concerts. I am so lucky my parents taught me the magic of live music. My first concert was Hilary Duff when I was 7 years old. I’ve seen Fall Out Boy, U2, 30 Seconds to Mars, the Jonas Brothers (3 times now), Zedd, Bassnecter, just to name a few.  undefined
  9. My drink of choice is gin + tonics, I’m hoping to get into making craft gin + tonics soon so send me your favorite recipes!
  10.  When I was younger I hated exercising or any type of physical movement. My parents put me in dance which became a hobby that didn’t last long. I hated P.E, and could barely run the mile, and now I can’t picture my life without fitness. I take different workout classes 2-3 times a week, and have run two half marathons! undefined
  11. I can’t fall asleep unless I’m listening to the Rain & Thunder Sound Therapy from the Insight Meditation Timer and have the fan on the highest speed. 
  12. I traveled a lot with my grandparents as a kid. They took me to Alaska, Hawaii, New York City, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina. They put a huge emphasis on traveling and experiencing new cultures. I take this trait with me and have a desire to travel all the time.  

That’s just the tip of the iceberg about me, but I hope it gives you a bit of an insight! You can follow more of my day to day life on Instagram!

Photography from Allie Klawitter Photography

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Cafecito To Go: Denver, Colorado


Hello!

Visiting Denver was on the top of my travel list for 2019. I was so excited when my friend Danielle was down to come with me to the Mile High City. Denver was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. Literally, the altitude was so high that I couldn’t breathe. What a weekend of old friends, art, good food, and better drinks.

I wanted to start with the Airbnb we rented. Located in Lincoln Park, this house turned into townhouses was absolutely perfect. The living room, kitchen, and deck was shared with another tentat who lived down the hall. All the doors are locked with keypads, so your space is secured. Our room was massive and came with a little balcony.  If you would like more information about the room, DM me on Instagram!

Cherry Creek Trail:

We did A LOT of walking in Denver. On Monday, we walked over 5 miles around the city. My favorite place to walk through was the Cherry Creek Trail, located right in the middle of the city. The walls of the trail are filled with artwork and graffiti. A perfect place to go for a jog or for a bike ride! 

Amethyst Coffee 

This coffee shop was ~~all the vibes~~ Decorated with plants, and amethyst crystals (which is my birthstone so I love the energy it brings), this coffee shop is so aesthetically appealing. I got a latte and Danielle got a matcha latte–both very creamy and the espresso was strong! Come prepared with a metal straw, as they don’t provided plastic ones! Definitely recommended if you need a place to get work done or a coffee break with a friend!

RiNo, 

River North, also known as RiNo, is the arts district of Denver. The streets are filled with murals, street arts, boutiques, and restaurants; very similar to Wynwood in Miami. They do First Friday art walks, where all the boutiques are open and I was so bummed I missed it by one day. RiNo has a yuppie crowd, so there was a lot of young energy in the crowd. It also isn’t very far from Coors Field, which is surrounded by all the bars. 

Denver Central Market

The Denver Central Market is a must stop during your time at Denver. Located in RiNo, the arts district of Denver, the market has anything you need. From drinks, to dinner, to ice cream, the Denver Market as a little bit of everything for everyone. We started their on Friday night for drinks at the bar Curio for affordable cocktails and a hip vibe. I loved the young essence that filled the Denver air. 

  A few days later, we stopped back in for ice cream at HighPoint Creamery. I went with the Mint Chocolate Bark in a waffle cone, so creamy and delicious. I do wish they had more alternative ice creams that weren’t sorbet, but the ice cream wasn’t heavy so I didn’t feel sick afterwards.

The Source Hotel + Market Hall

I am truly impressed by all the different markets Denver as to offer. We went to the Market Hall at the Source Hotel in search for some good drinks and food. We weren’t disappointed. There are two sides of the market. We walked around, explored the shops, took some pictures in the lobby, and checked out a few menus. We finally agreed on Woods which was located upstairs for dinner with a view. A mountain view, vegan mac and cheese, and locally brewed cider is what Denver dreams are made of. I definitely can’t wait to go back and check out more restaurants in the market. 

Habit Donut Dispensary

No trip is complete without sourcing out a good donut. I found Habit through Denver food instagrams, and I was drooling just by the sight of it. Habit is known for adding airplane size liquor into their donuts, and if it wasn’t 10 AM I would have been all about it. Instead I went with the Feed My Habit, raspberry and white chocolate donut that still comes to me in my dreams. Mark my words, I will be back for a boozy donut. 

 City O’City

What is a trip without seeing some CHAARG sistas? Recommended by my friend Elaine, we met up at City O’City for dinner. The menu is vegetarian focused, and so delicious. I went for the City O’Burger, and for a girl who eats meat, this “burger” didn’t disappoint. The real star of the show were their fries, crisped to perfection. I will never look at a fry the same way ever again. The menu has a wide variety of sandwiches, to all day breakfast, and heavier entrees–a lot of bit for everyone! 

C Squared Cider 

Denver is famous for its breweries, but if you are someone like me who doesn’t like beer, hanging out at breweries doesn’t seem to be a fun thing to do. I was grateful to find a cider brewery. I was recommended to this place by a few people, so I took it as a sign to check it out. This brewery was located in a huge warehouse, and the downstairs area is a huge gaming area with XL beer pongs, and connect four. The area was closed on the night we went, but something to look forward to when I return. We hung out at the upstairs bar and enjoyed flights of cider, so you can say I was in my happy place. Another spot with a great mountain view. 

First Draft

Our last drinking spot of Denver was First Draft. It’s one of those tap and drink places where you get a card and can try different drinks. I gravitated towards this place by their huge patio. When we were there they had trivia going on, so there seems to have events and activities going on. I tried different wines on draft. I love these kind of bars because it comes with no commitment, you can try as much as you need to, without worrying about not liking a drink. A patio weather favorite. 

Exploring more of Colorado is definitely on the top of my travel list! What did I miss in Denver? What city should I go to next?

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Cafecito To Go: O’ahu, Hawaii

Alohaaaaaa!

Back in August, I got a phone call from my grandparents that they wanted to take me to Hawaii as my college graduation trip. A two week vacation in Hawaii? How could I say no to that?! My cousin, Jon, was going to be graduating from the University of Hawaii Manoa so it was going to be the much needed family time and rest that was deserved. I can’t believe the time has come and gone to go on this trip. Before sharing all the delicious food I ate, and all the views, I wanted to thank my grandparents for taking me on this trip with them. I am so grateful to have loved ones in my life that taught me to prioritize travel.   

Disclaimer: The time of this trip was 65% dedicated to relaxing. I am such a busy-body and want to do everything and anything I can do in the most amount of time, but during this trip I had to find comfort in just sitting and relaxing. This isn’t a total adventure guide, but we did get to do some really cool stuff.

I was very fortunate that my grandparents are Marriott timeshare owners in Ko’Olina. Think of Ko’Olina as the Key Biscayne of the island with mostly resorts. It is a community with all the big name resorts; Disney, Marriott, and the Four Seasons, and the home of four man made lagoons.  The community is surrounded by a large golf course, filled with shops and restaurants. A little something for everyone.

>>FOOD:

Let’s start with all the eats + drinks.

Moku Kitchen:

A great spot in Honolulu where we met with my cousin and his fiance for dinner. It’s a farm to kitchen restaurant located in Honolulu. When you are there you must have their jalapeno mashed potatoes, LIFE CHANGER. I got the I NEED A DOLLAH (ain’t that right) tequila cocktail, and after that it became I NEED A NAP. I got the duck tacos, and it was absolutely delicious. A fun and upbeat restaurant, and great for large parties.

Island Vintage Coffee:

A coffee shop? For Cafecito in Chicago? Groundbreaking.

You know I needed to find the island’s best coffee. Hawaii grows their own coffee beans. Driving through the cites, I saw many coffee farms, so the coffee is legit. There are a few of these coffee shops around the island, luckily I had access to one in Ko’Olina. I would run to the coffee shop for my morning breakfast and coffee. This place was already packed by 7 AM. A ray of food and coffee options, I went with the Island Latte–which is sweetened with coconut milk and hazelnut and the Cacao Moana Bowl, which was more delicious than pictured.

Pizza Corner

Another joint located in Ko’Olina, great for after a day on the beach and when you have no energy to cook at home. Come with a group of people who enjoy pizza because the pies are huge. Pizza Corner is New York style pizza that comes in one size…18’’. It is a great spot to go after a long day and as a plus it is BYOB.

Down To Earth:

Leave it to me to find the Plum Market of the island. Not only did they have my favorite brands like Siete, Simple Mills, and a kombucha aisle for days, but they also had a great smoothie and food bar. I picked up some goodies that made me feel closer to home and picked up a bomb smoothie.

Marukame Udon:

Marukame Udon made all my noodle dreams come true. These noodles were THICK, and I honestly have been dreaming of them ever since. Don’t be intimidated by the line outside the restaurant, it moves very quickly. I haven’t even gotten to the best part…the TEMPURA BAR. Yes, a self serving tempura bar, with anything and everything you can think of fried. THIS is what truly dreams are made of.

Cafe Maiko

 After you enjoy Marukame, end over next door to Cafe Maiko for matcha dessert. This cute small store front is a matcha concentrated cafe. Anyway you want your matcha, they have it. Lattes, shaved ices, frappes, soft serve, this is a matcha heaven. I personally went with a matcha and vanilla swirl, with matcha powder. The matcha is so fresh and rich, I was bouncing off the walls afterwards. This is a great pit stop before a day at the beach!

Sunrise Shack

  Sunrise Shack is a Team CHAARG favorite, so I knew I had to check it out. The original shack is located in the North Shore, and is made up of all my Instagram dreams. I was in the Waikiki area, so I knew I had to visit the location in the Outrigger Hotel.  The decor of the place is everything I want in my future backyard. Bright yellow colors, beachy and laid back theme, such a cute spot! The menu is loaded with smoothies, superfoods, and bulletproof coffee. I was so full from the day, but I knew I had to get something. I asked for a light smoothie, and they recommended the Tropical Smoothie. The fruit was one of the freshest fruit I’ve ever had in a smoothie, and the cute turtle paper straw. If you are in Waikiki, run don’t walk.

Tsukuneya Robata Grill

Our last meal of the trip was Japanese food tapas style. I only have two words to describe this dining experience…FRIED CHEESE. This place is great for large parties. Small portions of japanese appetizers, sushi, and tsukenya; which are small pieces of chicken on sticks with different sauces.

>>THINGS TO DO:

Halewia:

Halewia is a small beach town located on the North Shore. It is the home of the famous shave ice spot, Matsumoto. The line was too long, so we didn’t go there, but we did stop for shave ice across the street at Aoki’s. The shave ice was flavorful and the decor was so cute. The rest of the town is filled with street art, restaurants, shops, and food trucks. A great spot to hangout in after a day at the beach.

Bydo-In Temple

All I can say about this Japanese temple is that it is absolutely breathtaking. The drive through the mountains feels like you are driving through Jurassic Park. I will let all the pictures do the talking, but this place is so peaceful and magical. A must see while in O’ahu. The admissions is $4 and is cash only.

Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

The flea market at the Aloha Stadium consist of over 400 tents filled with local art, souvenirs and fresh fruit. This is the perfect place to pick up your friends and family souvenirs because they are a fraction of the price. I definitely recommend picking up fresh coconut and drinking the water out of it, the only way one should drink coconut water. I met a sweet man selling his wife’s art made out of fresh plants. Check them out on Etsy.  The flea market is open every Wednesday and Sunday.

Diamond Head

Hiking Diamond Head was my favorite thing we did on the trip. I love a good hike, and this view was absolutely breathtaking. The hike took about an hour round trip, and was a moderate hike. Definitely not challenging, but something my grandparents wouldn’t be able to do. Take the risks, and jump the fences for the best look out of Waikiki Beach. At the entrance they have Dole food trucks with Dole Whip, and fresh smoothie bowls, and bites to fuel you before your hike.

Snorkeling Spots:


These are a few spots that I went snorkeling in:

The lagoons in Ko’Olina–I mostly went to the one outside our resort, but if you go to the public beach behind Paradise Cove there is a great spot. This is the spot where you can see turtles on that side of the island. I recommend going when there are not a ton people and the tide is high. There are a lot of rocks though, which makes snorkeling tough.

Waikiki Beach: This is another great snorkeling spot, I would be advised that the waves are stronger in the summertime, as they move from the North Shore. Again, snorkel at your own risk when the waves are rocky.

Hanauma Bay State Park: I went to Hanauma Bay when I went to Hawaii in 2014, and a great snorkeling spot with very clear water. Before you go in, you must complete watching an ocean conservation video. You can take a tram ride up and down the hill for less than $2 each way. This is a big tourist spot, so either get there very early in the morning or closer to sunset. Parking is tight, so getting there early helps.

Coming back to 60 degrees and rainy Chicago weather definitely makes me miss Hawaii. Until we meet again,

Alohaaaa,

Anais

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My Travel Essentials

It currently is 60 degrees in Chicago, so basically summer is here. My favorite thing to do over the summer is travel—I am either looking forward to going back to Miami to spend time with my family, or eager to go someplace new. Traveling in comfort is a priority for me, and

in the last few year I’ve acquired a few travel essentials that I can’t leave without. These products help me get through long layovers, adjust to new locations, and make anywhere feel like home. In honor of leaving for my two week trip to Hawaii, I wanted to share my 5 top travel essentials.

  1. Sunscreen–face + body

  I’m usually trying to escape the Chicago cold when I am leaving on vacation, so sunscreen is very important. Whether I am going on a beach vacation or just back home to Miami, I make sure I always have an ample amount of sunscreen. My go-tos are the Alba Botanica SPF 50 for sensitive skin and the Bare Republic SPF 30 Face Mineral Sunscreen. I can go on and on about sunscreen and the benefits, and how bad UV rays are for you, but all I’m going to say is wear sunscreen kids!

2. Activate Charcoal

    Activated charcoal is a staple for me when I am traveling by airplane. Activated charcoal has so many great benefits but I use it to help absorb any toxins in the body and can help alleviate bloating. After sitting on a plane with recycled air and the germs of about 40 people in a close space, I often get off the plane feeling bloated. I take two activated charcoals after a flight to debloat and feel fresh after a flight. I keep a few on hand during vacation in case I eat something that doesn’t make my body feel great.


3. NUUN Hydration

Nuun is a new thing I’ve added to my packing list. I normally add them to my water after a long run, but bringing them on my trips has been a game changer. When I am on vacation, I am trying as many coffee shops as I can and drinking all the margaritas, which puts drinking water on the back burner. NUUN is an electrolyte supplement that helps me keep hydrated in even the hottest temperatures. I am excited to bring this on my next vacation to Hawaii to keep me hydrated for all the runs and outdoor activities I will be doing. My favorite flavor is strawberry lemonade, and the sport’s tri-berry.

4. Essential Oil Roll Ons

I cannot live without my essential oil diffuser. Every night I diffuse lavender oil which has helped me sleep so better. I recently received these essential oil roll ons and I am obsessed with them. I get pre-flight anxiety and having something I use in my everyday routine helps calm my nerves. Lately, I’ve been using the Let Go roll-on by Ellis before a flight and before going to bed in a new location. I also take a peppermint roll-on which helps with any digestive issues or headaches I may get while traveling. It is always in my reach and I will not travel without it.

5. Snacks

This may seem like the most obvious thing, but being prepared with snacks makes all the difference. Nothing is worse than being hangry with a splash of airport anxiety. I keep different snacks in my carry-on just in case of any layovers or if I get hungry on my trip. Airport food can be overly expensive and they usually don’t have the healthiest snacks. They also help when arriving to my destination, especially when I don’t know the next time I’ll eat. Again, this is not Hangry in Chicago, she is not cute. Some of my favorites are RX bars (I can’t wait to try these new flavors), Mama Guava bars, and Trader Joe’s Plantain chips.

I cannot image traveling without these items. It helps my travel anxiety immensely, and I will have all these things with me throughout this summer.

Am I missing anything? What are your travel essentials?


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Growing Up Cuban American

Hey hey,

Or as they would say in my house acera, que bola!

The name for my blog Cafecito in Chicago is inspired by my Cuban culture. If you’ve been following for a while, you already know I throw words out like cafecito, croquettas, and pilas without any context behind it. Today I wanted to open the door and let you into my Cuban home. I didn’t really appreciate being Cuban until I moved out of Miami. It was so normal, I didn’t see what was special about it. Now, I see it in a whole new light, and I am beyond grateful to be Cuban American.

Here is my perspective of growing up in a Cuban household in Miami, Florida.

The mornings always started with Radio Mambi (la grande) playing through the alarm clock radio. The household fluttered with soft beats from bongos filled the house. Abuelo got ready for work for his job as a city inspector. He put on his suspenders proud that he is able to have a full 9-5 job, after years of not being able to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. Right before he was about to register to continue his education, Castro rose to power.

It’s about 7:30 a.m. and the breakfast table spread included sweet pastries, pastelitos, of cream cheese and guava, pan cubano, and cuban coffee. Cuban coffee is not like any coffee, it’s an espresso shot of rocket fuel that is consumed at all times of the day. Mami and abuela give you good morning kisses, and yell behind me “ponte un sweater” (put on a sweater) because it’s 65 degrees outside in Miami. If the weather hit anything under 68 degrees, Miami was having its own polar vortex.

  It’s time for la escuela (school), and la guagua (the school bus) is right around the corner. As a kid, you had one job—go to school, work hard, and do well. Many of our grandparents and parents, didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. I was taught early on that getting an education was important, and something that should never be taken for granted. You were expected to “ponerse las pilas,” which literally translates to putting on your batteries but they meant it as focus on school. My Abuela was 1 of 8 children growing up, when her mother got ill she had to drop out of the second grade to help take care of her family. Yet, she still sat with me everyday to make sure my homework got done.

  I would rush through the door from school and come home to a plate of croquettas. Croquettes are the chicken fingers to a Cuban kid, rolled and deep fried ham paired nicely with soda crackers. Abuela always managed to get a croquettas, either from her doctor at la clinica, or a distant uncle’s house, or from a quick run to Winn Dixie. This was peak hour of commotion in the house. Either la vecina (the neighbor) that lived next door caught you while taking out the trash so you stopped to have a 45 minute conversation, a prima (cousin) was over at the house, or a friend that worked with your tia’s neighbor’s hairdresser was on the phone telling you about their friend who came from Cuba. It never mattered who was at the house, or on the phone, everyone was family.

  As a Cuban, we love to celebrate. Any quinceanera, when a young woman  turned 15, wedding, baby shower, every victory and milestone was worth celebrating. Birthdays started with getting trays of mini pastelitos, and the wet spongy cake filled with vanilla pudding (and if you ask me the grossest thing ever).  Every party led to rounds on rounds of dominoes, basically Cuban checkers, accompanied by Celica Cruz and Willy Chirino belting through the speaker.

 Growing up was filled with weird habits and quirky traditions that now hold a special place in my heart. Like not being allowed to walking around barefoot, because you’ll get sick, but if you do get sick, Vivaporu (Vick’s vapor rub) was the cure to anything. Everything was a storage container, soda cracker cans held rice, cookie tins held pins and needles, and nothing went to waste, not even a zip-locks bag. Abuela always had strawberry candies in her purse, and you were never really sure where they came from, but you didn’t question it.

   The end of the day ended with arroz con frijoles and  some form of a banana; fried plantains topped with garlic were always my favorite. Abuelo told stories about his teenage years in Cuba, and the ruckus that he caused with his cousins, running up and down the streets of Havana. If political climate was tense in the United States, you would hear the words “I didn’t leave Cuba for this.” La noticia (the news) played in the background, and ruined your weekend plans, because after the chaos in Miami Gardens your Abuela was not going to leave the house. Walter Mercado gave his astrology predictions con mucho mucho amor and if you were able to stay up past 8:30, we watched our favorite novela. Then finally, calabaza calabaza cada uno a su casa—time for bed.

We are all made up of history, traditions, and cultural habitats. I am so proud of where mine come from. A beautiful beacon, 90 miles south of Key West.


Besos,

Anais


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15 Things That Bring Me Joy

In January, I set the intention of doing more things that made me feel good throughout the day. I wanted to do even the smallest things that bring me joy and improve my mood. As the self care industry is bigger than ever it seems like it’s all about trendy infrared saunas and over priced facials, I have to be honest, it does get very overwhelming especially for someone who is into wellness trends. So this month, I went back to simplicity. What makes me feel good every single day? Some things I did everyday, others a few times a month, but it did show me that even the smallest things can make a difference. So here are the top 15 things that made me feel good this month.

  1. Wearing earrings—it takes even the simplest outfits and transforms them. I love going for a pair of hoop earrings with a cute sweater and jeans to go out; makes me feel empowered and put together.
  2. Diffusing essential oils as part of night time routine
  3. Having a go to fragrance – currently going back + forth between this and that


4. Having a go to fragrance – currently going back + forth between this and that

5. Wearing makeup; even if it’s a little mascara. Makeup and I have been through some phases in lifetime. Sometimes I want to hoard it all, and other times I want nothing to do with it. I’ve realized that as long as wearing makeup is done because I want to do it then, then it will make me feel good.

6. Matching PJs sets

7. Dancing in the middle of the dance floor with my best friend.

7. Being in my childhood home–something I took for granted in 2018, but realized it as important to visit home as it is to go and explore.

8. Carbs–no more carb shaming in 2019!

9. My #NoScariesSunday Rountine–-read more about it here ; )

10. A long phone call with my mom—thank you for always listening to me rant!  

11. Making my bed–I’m very proud that I’ve built this habit in 2018

12. Being warm in really cold weather—the 2019 Polar Vortex is not cute

13. Taking a SoulCycle class with friends [duh!]

14. Making homemade cafecito—I don’t know what took me so long but I finally got a mocha and espresso cups, I’m ready to shout at all my friends quien quiere cafe?

15. Dinner parties with my friends, what’s better than fresh seafood, wine, and friends?


Overall these things improve my mood, which has been hard to do with the weather in Chicago. It is always about coming back to the simple things? What makes you feel good? What should I try this next month?

Besos,

Anais

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Winter Skin Care Routine

Hello!

If you read my last post, you may know I’m trying to build one healthy habit a month and exploring different techniques, products, and overall gaining more knowledge on doing so. This month I dedicated it to doing small things everyday that make me feel best self. I like to call it Feel Good January. One of the habits I’ve been working on is trying to cracking down on my skincare routine. Today, I wanted to share my skin care holy grails, and my tips and tricks.

But first, here’s a little background on my skin;

I would say I have normal to oily skin and can be a tad sensitive to harsh chemicals. When I was about 11 years old, puberty hit me like a ton of bricks. I was the only person in my 5th grade class to have acne. I would show you a picture, but it’s a tragic situation and nobody needs to see that.  That was when I started the intense skin-care routines, Proactive, dermatologist appointments, harsh face washes with 2% salicylic acid, the total works. I was so embarrassed of my skin. Looking back, it was definitely 100% hormone related. Fast forward I do think my skin looks great, I don’t get large breakouts, a few small pimple maybe when I’m about to get my period, but nothing major.

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My skincare routine—

I wash my face about once a day, twice if I’m wearing makeup. I usually wash in the shower, so after a workout or when I take a shower at night. For me, I realized when I washed my face first thing in the morning and at night, it would remove all the natural oils in my face, and I was breaking out frequently. I always make sure my face is clean, without excessively washing it. I do also want to preface that I use more moisturizing products in the winter to keep my skin as fresh and glowy as possible. Winter is not cute and there isn’t a fountain of youth around.

When it comes to products I try to use as many clean and organic products as possible. All the products I use are cruelty free and can be found at Whole Foods. I use the Think Dirty app on my phone that helps me detect how clean my products are. This app is amazing if you are just getting into clean beauty. It will tell you what ingredients in the product are harmful to your skin. You can find me in the skin care aisle scanning all the face washes.

As for face wash, I’ve been loving the Avalon Organics Intense Defense. It is filled with Vitamin C that helps keep my skin moisturized and smelling like a cute orange. Then I’ll go in with my Pacifica Coconut Water Rehab Moisture Cream. This product is great for someone like me who is a total #girlboss, is up late at night getting work done, or deals with little stressors throughout the day. This moisturizers definitely helps my skin when it gets put on the back burner.  

Every Sunday as part of my #NoScariesSunday Routine, I do a facemask. For the past three years, I’ve been using the Aztec Healing Clay mask, mostly because one bottle has lasted me this long, but I love it. The mask comes in powder form, and I add equal parts water, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and rosemary oil.

Now let’s talk about my favorite skin care brand–cocokind. This is a clean and conscious skin care brand, and I truly think it is amazing if you are just diving into clean beauty. After I get out of the shower I use the raspberry vinegar toner which is great for acne prone skin, and does remove the few blemishes I do get. Then I will use the organic facial repair serum. This leaves my skin feeling so smoothe, I am obsessed. Two pumps goes along way. Lastly, I use the the MyMatcha stick for literally everything else. It is great for chapped lips, or even underneath my eyes to make sure I don’t look like a zombie. I also have the Macabeet stick which is my go-to tinted chapstick. They also have a turmeric stick for spot treatments, which I will gladly accept as a BDAY gift ; )

Cocokind can add up to be on the pricey side, but I definitely think skincare is an investment, and pro-tip they sell some products at TJMAXX for a discounted price.

Fancy skin care is great and all but what you put into your body truly does affect the outcome of your skin. Water is your bodies BFF + your skin will love you the more water you intake. Foods high in good fats like avocado, nuts, and fatty fishes are essential for healthy looking skin. And plenty of sleep will go along way.

Everyone’s skin is different and it does take some time and work to figure what is best for you and your skin! At the end of the day, do what makes you feel your best + make you glow from the inside out.

XOX,
Anais

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Thank You 2018, Next.

Hello my little croquetas,

I hope everyone had a happy holidays filled with family, lechon, and cafecito. I enjoyed every second of stuffing my face with pan cubano and soaking up the Miami sun.

I can’t believe 2018 is coming to a close. The best way I can describe this past year is it was somewhere between well that didn’t suck that much and suddenly so much has changed and everything is different. 2018 brought me closer to so many people [shoutout to my SoulCycle fam], I’ve challenged myself as a leader of the CHAARG community, and finally graduated college! And ultimately, I’m truly grateful to be alive. 2018 was the year of a lot of letting go and seeing things go away. I spent the year trying to relieve baggage. From donating//throwing away physical items I was holding on to, to watching many of my friends move away to chase their dreams [and I’m so freakin’ proud of them]. 2018, you were good, but I’m ready for better.

Now for 2019…I can feel it in my bones–it’s about to be the year we make sh*t happen.  If I post it on the internet, I’m held accountable, right? This is how this works?

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Photo by Cristina Ramos Photography 

But seriously, 2019 is going to be BIG. It’s going to be a year of a lot of growth, the year of big accomplishments, the year of everything I’ve been manifesting to physically come true.

I’m the kind of person where I am writing out my goals and intentions 3 weeks before the new year. I get so inspired and I love preparing for the new year! *bringing out the palo santo as we speak*

A few of my new year resolutions are to travel to 3 new states, do small things everyday that physically make me feel good [apart from working out and nutrition], do more things that are out of my comfort zone, and ultimately keep growing and really become the person I truly want to be.

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Photo by Cristina Ramos Photography 

This upcoming year I want to document and share more than ever! I want to document my growth, and what better way than that the platform I’ve created! I’ve been taking inspiration from The Happiness Project  by Gretchen Rubin and Refinery29’s Try Living with Lucie by adding elements that matter to me, and creating my own project and taking inspirations for what I’ve read in the past. I mostly want to build off of my habits each month and document how it helps me grow as a person. This little series doesn’t have a name yet, but I am excited to document it through content on this platform.

I hope everyone has a great New Year! Don’t forget to eat your 12 grapes and walk down your street with a suitcase for good travel in the New Year!

See ya in 2019,

Anais

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Read When You Are Not Ready

I worry, alot. Especially when it comes to the future. Hand in hand with my worrying comes planning. I’ve tried to plan ever since single moment of my life since I could remember. From what I am going to do 10 minutes from now, to 2 weeks from now, to 3 years from now – or so I thought.
Recently there has come a point where I don’t have the next moment planned. My chapter of undergrad is coming to a close and I am not ready.

I am not ready to start writing a new chapter, mostly because I don’t know what I am going to write. The ambiguity has left a very unsettled feeling in my stomach.

For the beginning of fall, I was in a constant state of anxiety. I was wide awake at odd hours of the night playing in my head how the future could play out. I made to-do lists, and constructed plan A-Z. Then I had to take a step back…

Why I am really freaking out?

Am I freaking out because this chapter is closing or because I don’t know what the next chapter brings?

I think choice B was correct, did I just pass the test of life?

Then came the sigh of relief. Fear is me holding back. Fear is what is always holding us back.

It’s okay to not be ready for the next chapter. It’s okay to not know what your first word might be or in what direction the story is going. It’s certainly okay to just have a big question mark on everything.

It is not okay though to live through fear. That’s the energy sucker right there. It’s like having your phone brightness on 100% and playing 3 hours of candy crush and then wondering why your phone is about to die.

So what now? We celebrate. We celebrate that my hard work the past 4 years has payed off. We celebrate the unknown. We celebrate the possibility of anything happening. We celebrate the changes that are about to come, that are going to help us grow. How amazing is that? How amazing is it to know that literally anything can come your way.

Being afraid keeps us staginant. It doesn’t move us forward.

I am still not ready for the next chapter, but I no longer live in fear of it.

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk,
Anais

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Hello, Universe? Yes.

Greetings from sunny LA,

I’m in the LA for the week + even though I am preparing to write an LA Wellness post, I know it might take me a few days to get up after my trip… Let’s be real maybe a week, but I wanted to share an experience with you. When I started Cafecito in Chicago, I wanted to write posts similar to conversations that I would have over cafectio with my family + friends. So make your espumita, grab your cafecito + let’s have a conservation over cafecito.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a Friday off of work and I woke up from a text message from my friend Kellen asking if I wanted to go kayaking. A million thoughts raced through my head, “I have to help CHAARG with a project at 4, what if I don’t make it on time,” “I have so much work to do” “Money! Financial responsibility!”  and a bunch of blah blah blah, but something in me said Anais, stop with the excuses, get up, go have fun, and kayak. It was on my summer bucket list, and something I really wanted to do. Why would I say no?

We went out and kayaked on the Chicago River and it was a great time. It was everything I wanted it to be filled with adventure and great memories. It felt so rejuvinating to be back on the water and I felt so connected with myself.

It dawned on me, I need more YES. I need to say YES more often to the opportunities the universe naturally brings my way. YES to what is right in front of me, instead of looking to see if I can find something else. This is the time. There is no tomorrow, next week, or later guaranteed, it is right now. I am definitely guilty of thinking too far into the future and thinking of the “what ifs”, but I am vowing to letting that go. I vow to say YES. I am leaving the “I’m not sure because” behind, and I invite you to do the same.

One of my daily affirmations is “I am exactly where I need to be”, yet sometimes we push back thinking we have too much going on and tend to ignore/ trust the Universe’s ability to guide me to where I need to be.  Without that trust, these opportunities will not come [if you haven’t read the Universe Has Your Back, I 100% recommended doing so]. Trust that you are always being guided on the right past and to the best life you want to live and those opportunities will come to you.

This week  I’ve been taking this skill and trying to implement on my California Adventure. This isn’t my first rodeo around Los Angeles, so I asked myself “how do I make the best of a trip that I’ve lived multiple times and even once was my temporary home” The answer was right in front of me, I say YES to the flow of the day, I accept the journey the universe has to offer for me today.

Since kayaking, other opportunities have come my way that before I would have probably turned down. Opportunities that have strengthened my relationships with colleagues and friends, which when those vibrations are the highest, my life is at its best. I’m excited to see what adventures life will bring today. 

How are you vowing to say YES? What opportunities are you going to allow to come your way?

Adventure awaits,
Anais

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Empowered by Cafecito: KennoDecor

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Hello my little espresso beans!

I am so excited to release my new series; Empowered by Cafecito! I love surrounding myself with people who take control of their life, work hard, and empower others along the way.  And of course; those who can do it all do it with a cup of cafecito in hand.  I truly believe we have the power to lift each other up + that we shouldn’t take that for granted. I wanted to give back to the fellow bosses that I’ve look up to + have gotten to love in my community!

This week I am featuring Shannon Kennedy; the owner behind the Etsy craft business KennoDecor. She makes customized hand-made wood pine + twine signs. It’s the perfect home decor! Talk about a straight up #girlboss!

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Read more about Shannon’s story + business:

  1. Can you tell us more about your business? When and how did you get started?

KennoDecor was founded July 2017 when I opened a shop on Etsy.  Witnessing my mom start her business when I was fifteen gave me the courage to begin my own. KennoDecor grew out of my passion for creating. I have always used arts & crafts as a stress reliever so creating a business incorporating the combination of calligraphy & wood seemed like the perfect way to share my love of creating with others.

  1. What fuels your inspiration? Where do you get inspiration from for your pieces?

Every piece I create is something I would hang or feature in my own home. I’m into personalized decor so my pieces reflect that. Typically, when I go to the craft or hardware store and see slabs of wood, an idea for a piece immediately pops into my head. I’d like to say that I have a creative eye so that makes things easy for the most part. When I’m in a rut, I browse through home decor magazines and websites for inspo!

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  1. What//who empowers you?

Knowing that the pieces I create are cherished by my customers truly empowers me. Receiving kind words and thank you notes from customers gives me the courage to continue forging my path as a small business owner. Outside of Kennodecor, exercising and finding a way to move everyday rejuvenates my body and empowers me to take life by the horns.

  1. What is one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Find your passion. For years and years I was unable to identify my own, but I am happy to say that I have finally found mine in creating. Once one finds something they are truly invested in, mold that into a business model.

Interview friends & family with their own businesses. This is something I did and continue to do. It’s a great way to learn tips and tricks to maintaining one’s business and can be inspirational, as well.

Be fearless. There are times that you will second guess yourself in starting your own business. These moments of self-doubt are when you need to push even harder.

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  1. Where do you hope KennoDecor goes? What is one big dream do you have for your business? 

My hope is that in the next year or two, I’ll be running my business fully part-time. Of course, I want to continue expanding my business and the products I create. The next step for KennoDecor is emerging into the wedding and events arena. My ultimate goal is to make a living with KennoDecor by opening my own home decor store.

6.Where is your favorite place in Chicago to get cafecito? 

It’s so hard to choose! When I’m wanting to splurge, the Cortadito from 90 Miles in Lincoln Square is one of my top picks. However, on a normal weekday you’ll see me strolling around with a Dunkin’ iced coffee in hand.

[90 Miles has such great Cafecito!]

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I can’t wait to tell the stories of all the people who will be featured during this series!

XO,

Anais

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Cafecito To Go: New York City

“So maybe it won’t look like you thought in high school, but it’s important to remember that love is possible. Anything is possible. This is New York.” -Carrie Bradshaw

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I have finally crawled out of my post-New York City depression to be able to share my wonderful trip to the Big Apple [tbh still don’t understand why it is called this]. My mom invited me on a 5-day trip to New York so I mean… I guess… sounded like it could be fun.

The last time I visited NYC, I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade, so I was going into this trip with fresh eyes, an open mind, and a jammed packed itinerary [seriously, I wrote up an hour-by-hour itinerary, so hit me up if you want it]. I wanted to share what I did; from the food I ate, to the classic tourist things, and everything in between.

I do want to thank my mom for flying me out to New York so that we could enjoy the city together!

Pocion Lounge
As soon as we arrived, we knew we needed a drink. Our friend Silvia took us to this cute place called Pocion Lounge which was a vegan bar and lounge. There motto is “Healing with Booze + Natural Bites”. SIGN ME UP. This place was so cute! It was decorated with neon lights and floral arrangements . I had a margarita served in a science beaker which was everything a science major could ask for in this life. The menu was filled with vegan bites and exquisite cocktails. Definitely a hidden gem in the Washington Heights.

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Ludlow Coffee Supply
We woke up bright and early to the questionable smell of the city. What was the first thing on my mind when I woke up? Well, coffee of course! We had a mini-spa day planned in the Lower East Village so we hopped on the subway and walked around to find coffee and breakfast. We stumbled across Ludlow Coffee Supply, a cute coffee shop! I got an iced almond milk latte and avocado toast. The toast was pretty standard and the latte was creamy and strong in all the right ways.The vibes in this shop were everything I did not know I needed, and I wouldn’t mind if my next apartment looked like this coffee shop. Decorated with record players, plants,  and wooden accents; this was a place I could see myself writing a blog post or catching up with a friend if I lived in this city.

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Chillhouse
I first learned about Chillhouse by watching Refinery29 videos and really wanted to go. I wanted to do something really nice for my mom so I booked her a 50 minute The Works massage and the Full Rodeo manicure. She said the massage was great and the mousse hit all the right spots. I chilled around the lobby while my mom got her massage.  Then, I went in for a Tier 2 Gel Manicure, which obviously meant I had to get an intricate design. I went with the Discoteca nail design, and I am still in love with my nails. I got to pick my own colors, and even though it’s been about two weeks, the nails still look brand new. I also should give a special shout-out to the staff because our appointment was running about 5 minutes late.  I didn’t even notice, but they felt bad about it and got us free drinks! A++ service.

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World Trade Center
After a relaxing morning, we headed to Tribeca to visit the World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. I didn’t take many pictures, but all I’ve gotta say was the museum was absolutely beautiful and definitely worth checking out if you ever find yourself in NYC.

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Then, came my favorite part of the trip: heading to DUMBO, Brooklyn. This was not something I had on the itinerary, but it was one of those instances that the best times are always unplanned.  We took a ferry down to Dumbo. Taking a ferry across the Hudson River is officially my favorite form of transportation, and Chicago needs to get with the upgrade [I’m actually sure there is some kind of water taxi…]. We walked around the port and hung out by the cliffs to watch the sunset. ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL. Couples were taking engagement pictures and dogs were splashing around in the water; I could see why Dan Humprey never wanted to leave Brooklyn. Next trip, I want to dedicate more time to have dinner in Brooklyn, so I will definitely be returning. The night ended with a ferry trip through the Hudson River, which took us back to Manhattan.

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Central Park
What the itinerary stated: Go to Strawberry Fields in Central Park then go to Plaza Hotel

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How the day went: Took a $140 bike tour around Central Park, stop to have a mini photoshoot with your tour guide, and an hour and a half later actually see Strawberry Fields.

I know this sounds like the most tourist thing in the world and quite pricey, but I’m so glad we did it. I got to see so much more of the park than I originally intended. I also got to learn so much about the history of the park from different TV and film trivia, as well as all the activities that go on year round. Plus, our tour guide was such a sweetheart. Definitely one of those “say yes to the adventure” moments.

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The Shops at the Plaza Hotel
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Okay, I told you this got pretty touristy, but the going to the Plaza Hotel has been a dream of mine, ever since I first saw Eloise at Christmastime (one of my all-time favorite movies). I’ve always said [well tweeted] that I will one day stay at the plaza hotel. Unfortunately, non-guests can’t technically enter the lobby of the Plaza. Instead, we went down to the shops and enjoyed a glass of rosé at 2 PM, paired with mini donuts from The Doughnuttery. The Doughnuttery has a few locations around New York City and has a bunch of unique and delicious flavors from fruit cereal donuts, which is one I had to chai tea donut flavors! They were honestly so good, I ate them before I could photograph them.

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The Sex and the City Tour

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Yes, Pleasure Chest is a stop on the tour.

When my mom first booked our trips my mom had one request; to go on a Sex and the City Tour. How could I say no to that? She booked our tickets through On Location Tours and got us premier seats. This was a great way to see many parts of New York and to see where one of my favorite shows’ was filmed. We stopped for New York pizza, got to see Carrie Bradshaw’s stoop, and drank Cosmos [we are bringing Cosmos back ladies, get your Tito’s ready]. I don’t want to give too much away, because it is definitely an experience you want to live out.  I also was thriving off the fact that I was probably the youngest person there and knew most of the answers to the trivia questions.

If you are a fan of the four fiercest women who lived in Manhattan in the early 2000’s, this tour is for you.

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Carrie Bradshaw’s Stoop

Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee was high on the list of top things to do in the city. I had seen this coffee shop all over Instagram and needed to experience the hype for myself. And, would I really be Cafecito in Chicago if I didn’t try some of the best coffee the city had to offer? Blue Bottle is only in select cities, but all over New York City, making it super accessible in NYC. Once my “6 PM I need caffeine crash” came along, I figured this was the perfect time to try it.  This espresso was STRONG, let me tell you. I had an almond milk latte which kept me going for the last few hours of the day. Bonus: they used MALK almond milk in the latte so I knew the ingredients were clean and legit.

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Spring Natural Kitchen

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Located in the Upper West side, we decided to go to this cute health-conscious restaurant. The menu had a had a variety of gluten-free and vegan options, as well as grass-fed, free-range meats. This was my kind of heaven. I started with a gin-based drink called The Herbalizer and a Fresh Black Linguine with Seafood, both of which were FREAKING AMAZING. The seafood was so fresh and delicious, making it natural that the whole plate was gone in under 15 minutes. If you are more restricted when going out to eat, from either health or dietary reasons, I would definitely recommend Spring Natural Kitchen. It truly has something for everyone.

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Jack’s Wife Freda
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I had planned a whole trip to SoHo around eating brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda. This cute brunch spot lived up to the hype. The space was quite small for how popular it was, but we got there at the right time to score a table with no wait time. This food lived up to the hype. I got the Madame Freda, and I am still dreaming of it to this day. I mean the egg was on TOP of the sandwich, life-changing!

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SoHo + Chelsea Market

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I categorize these two together because they both were great places for shopping and dining. SoHo had every store you could imagine for shopping, and the Chelsea Market was filled with cute shops and tons of restaurants. My favorite part of the Chelsea Market had to be all the rooms that featured so many different kinds of local vendors. The vendors sold anything from custom bags to jewelry, candles, and art prints.  

Rooftop Szn
If you know me, you know I love a good rooftop bar. We ventured around the Flatiron District, going to a couple of rooftops.

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230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
This was definitely a spot to be on a Sunday night in the city. The bar had a glamorous lounge surrounded by windows that created a breathtaking view of the whole city. Then, we headed upstairs to the rooftop, which displayed another breathtaking view of the city. The atmosphere was very chic. Also, no rooftop experience is complete without a $12 frosé.

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Top of the Strand
Located in the Marriott Vacation Club, this rooftop had a calmer vibe than the last place. What made this place so unique were there signature crafted cocktails that all looked so delicious. We got to try a bourbon cocktail, which is something I usually don’t go for, but it was smokey and delicious. A great way to end the night!

SoulCycle-East 83rd Street
Did you really think I was going to visit New York and not ride at SoulCycle? I rode with Junior at 10:30 AM and let me just say one of his walk-in songs was Burnin’ Up by the Jonas Brothers. From that point forth, I knew I was in the right room. I always enjoy a ride at SoulCycle and I love being able to do one of my hobbies in another city. Who should I ride with the next time I’m in NYC?  

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New York City was just a wonderful time, and I honestly fell harder for the city then I could have imaged. I can’t wait to go back!

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Are you an NYC lover? What places do I have to visit when I go back? Let me know!

Will this Cafecito in Chicago one day become Cafecito in New York? That’s one secret I’ll never tell…

XOXO
Anais

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What’s in my Beach Bag: Essentials for the Perfect Summer Day

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Happy Summer, friends!

Summer is hands down my favorite season, and after a few weeks of Chicago not getting the its summer memo, it is finally in full swing. Living in Miami meant summer  24/7 and going to the beach was socially acceptable year round. Over the years I have created my version of the “perfect” beach bag filled with every essential for the best beach day.

Beach Bag

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**Dog not included**

This is a total “duh moment”, but having the perfect beach bag is the key to the perfect beach bag. I personally love to go for an oversized tote bag, I used to rock a cute mini backpack, it’s not the greatest fit for all the items. A great tote bag has plenty of room, pockets, and comfortable straps [nothing hurts more than putting on a stramp after getting a sunburn, we’ve all been there ladies + gents]. The CHAARG Adventure Tote has been my go-to bag the last year and is the perfect Mary Poppins bag. The two side pockets are so big and keep from freaking out about losing my keys [again, I know you’ve felt this panic].

Water Bottle

Hydration is the number one important thing about going to the beach especially on a very hot day, so everyday in Miami. I always make sure I have a water bottle filled with water (most of the time ; ) ) I’ve been loving this LOLE water bottle, its made of metal and keeps my drinks so cold for basically the whole day. Pro tip: add ice to your bottle before leaving the house so your bottle stays extra cold while at the beach. Hydroflasks ++ Yeti’s also make great beach drink ware.

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Snacks

A beach day isn’t complete without any snacks. When it comes to snacking at the beach I always go for very hydrating foods. Watermelon, pineapple, ++ cherries were today’s pick, but cucumbers, strawberries, carrots, ++ coconut water are some of my favorites. Also, 21+ snacks are always appropriate, not a necessity, but appropriate ; ). If you’re staying for a good part of your day, it’s the perfect opportunity to try a new sandwich or wrap idea you’ve been eyeing on your insta feed.  

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PROTECT YO SKIN

Okay, let’s talk about the most important thing SKINCARE. As cute as the sun can seem, it honestly it is so bad to be out in the sun for more than a few hours, and even worse without any proper protection. I know we all want to be our best shade of coco-gold, but skin cancer is not cute either! We want to be wrinkle free as long as we can, ladies. I will be the first to admit [as I sit with my back facing a fan dealing with a  serious sunburn right now], I am guilty of only putting on SPF 4 Deep Tanning Oil and not understanding why I was so sunburnt?? Every skin type is different, so it is important to do what’s right for you. For those who need all the SPF, I recommend the Alba SPF 50 for Sensitive Skin. It is fragrance free, free of parabens +phthalates, ++ is good for the coral reefs and oceans, which most aerosol bottles can’t say. So basically this sunscreen is a win/win in my book, good for the environment, good for me. I personally layer both as I am blessed to be able to achieve the tan I want, but I can also burn easily if I am not protected. + for those who do burn, fresh aloe vera straight from the plant is so refreshing. Remember to reapply your sunscreen about every two hours and maybe more frequently if you decide to take a dip in the water.

Face

Fresh faces are beautiful faces, and during the summertime I take advantage not wearing any makeup, but protecting my face from harmful sun rays is so important. I’ve been loving the Burt’s Bees BB Cream with SPF 15. I’m pretty sure this product + I are beauty soulmates. It is a non-toxic, lightweight product, and has a powder finish. It doesn’t feel sticky on the face + most importantly protects my face from the skin. It is just enough coverage to hide any blemishes or dark spots.  The main ingredient Noni extract which is suppose to help protect your skin environmental stressors + help with anti-aging. For more about Noni Extract read about here! AND it’s under $20, AHMAZING.

Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray

I’ve been using this product for years, especially during the summer. It is a great spray to put in your hair after a long beach day to keep those beach waves for any post-beach activity. I always keep it in my bag in case my friends + I decide to go to go out for drinks + food after the beach. This product is also great if you want to create the illusion that you’ve been at the beach all day when in reality you’ve binged watched two seasons of Sex and the City [or is that just me…awk]
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Sunnies

“Future so bright, I gotta wear sunglasses”

 [I’m officially the lamest person we both know].

But seriously, find a pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV/UB. When I’m not feeling sunglasses, I usually go for a baseball cap—this “But First, Cafecito” baseball cap has been my go-to lately + if I say so myself completely on-brand ; )

Here are some other favorites
Cub’s Baseball Hat
Ray Bans

Summer Reading

Okay, when it comes to reading on the beach, I’m a fake [lol]. 9/10 I bring a book to the beach I won’t read it unless I’m alone. If you are into reading a book on the beach instead of your twitter post, like me; here is my summer reading list:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Run My World by Kesinger
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Paula by Isabel Allendale

If reading hard copies isn’t your thing or you might wanna lay out, try audio books so you can enjoy both worlds with ease.

Am I missing any beach essentials? Let me know what your must haves for the perfect beach day? Let’s Talk!

Stay gold beeches,

Anais 

 

 

 

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Dear College Friends…

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Get ready for this to get REALLY sappy + please consume a margarita and wear tiny glasses while you read this because it’s only fitting

I decide to write this blog post because what better way of saying I love you + thank you for being a great friend then writing a letter for the internet to see—if i didn’t post it online were we even really friends?

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All jokes aside I’m currently in an uber on my way to watch many of you graduate AND LEAVE ME FOR THE REAL WORLD (I’m v emotional right now) but I’m thinking of all the moments we’ve had the past few years. All the overpriced nights out, all the laughs, all the long nights in the library, all the SoulCycle rides + sweat seshes,the hearts to hearts, and all the times I’ve I sat back and been so grateful for all the people in my life.

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My mom also preached the importance of friends. She would always say “Be good to your friends, because you one day wake up + not have any” [She’s a true philosopher], but growing up I always thought, well duh, but that statement really settled and made sense when I started college. Our friendships are so special because we show up for each other. No matter how busy we’ve been I can always count on you. + that is something I haven’t been able to say about a lot of people before.

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Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for changing my life and growing with me. Thank you for being my friends even when I wear tiny glasses in a bar after one too many vodka spirits.. Thank you for opening my mind to new perspectives, thank you for being genuine and kind[except for you Colin], being assholes sometimes[especially you Colin], being my people. [yeah Meredith grey I don’t just have a person, I have people].

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This is Colin

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Throughout life I was never one to be attached to places. In high school I was ready to leave, I didn’t really care who I left behind, and when I transferred to DePaul I didn’t  think about the people I would meet and the friendships I’d make. Graduating from DePaul is different because now I have something that I don’t want to leave behind. I know this isn’t all goodbyes + I’ll see many of you all the time, but  graduating college is a little extra special because I get to see you all flourish out in the world.

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I am incredibly proud of where you are about to go in life. I am so grateful that I got to see you grow into the people you are today and witness your highs and lows. I’m grateful to have future PRs people [idk what you call that sorry I’m in the sciences], doctors, politicians, lawyers, physical therapist, whatever Liz + Colin do, in my social group + all the free stuff will be greatly appreciate it.

I am huge believer that we were all meant to cross each other’s paths and I couldn’t think of better people to cross with.  Whether I had gone to DePaul from day one or not, you all make the experience feel so full. Being a few thousands miles of home can be tough in college but you all made Chicago feel like home. Thank you for being my forever family.

Much love from the bottom of my heart

Your forever friend,

I AM MIAMI.

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Chicago Spring Staycation

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Hello friends!

Do your Spring Break travel plans ever go like this–you and your friends are planning a wonderful vacation to somewhere warm and tropical! Miami, Mexico, anywhere it is socially acceptable to drink a margarita at 9AM. Then as time goes on and spring break is right around the corner, you and your friends realize that you are all broke, have to work, or still have a final [my rage on the quarter system later]. That’s basically what happen to my friends and I this winter when trying to decide what to do for our mini vacation (DePaul only got 4 days of Spring Break…what the heck). Knowing that I was going to stay in Chicago for the week with a lot more free time, I decided to make it the best staycation ever.

Whether you live in Chicago and are looking for new things to do, or are visiting Chicago, there is a little bit of everything for everyone!

The week started on a Tuesday [Monday was spent as a total final’s recovery//spring cleaning day]. Bright and early, my friend Wes and I headed to the West Loop in search for The French Market, a charming market filled with different restaurants and so much variety. 

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Our first stop was of course a cubano, then we went to Flip Crepes for what was basically a lox crepe burrito, and ended our little trip for empanadas at Lito’s Empanadas–the chorizo and egg was too good! Safe to say I was stuffed for the day.

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Later that day, I headed to Whole Foods with my friend Melissa for a margarita, because what is Spring Break without a good marg??

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On wednesday my best friend Katie and I had the ultimate best friend day planned. We started the day at AIR Lincoln Park for a challenging Aerial Silks class. After multiple attempts to the #AIRPOW, it was time for the next part of our day, well deserved R&R.

We went down to MudBum Facial Bar in River North for 30-minute facials. I took the next 30 minutes to completely unplug [which is honestly very hard for me] and enjoy the experience. I got the Detox Facial for a deeper clean it’s number one activate ingredient was charcoal which really helped with the process of really clearing my skin. I felt so glowy the rest of the night!

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Next on the ultimate best friend day agenda was dinner at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba in Lincoln Park. I’ve had my eye on this restaurant for months and I was so excited to try it out. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is Spanish tapas bar. The food was worth the hype! We started with a pitcher Black Raspberry Sangria– a perfect combination of a sweet and tart drink. Then we each choose three tapas to share. My top favorites were the Chicken & Ham Croquetas [this is a total duh, gotta get my croqueta fix anytime I can!], which were so fluffy but crispy,  the goat cheese baked in tomato sauce, and the Citrus-Cured Salmon. All the tapas were amazing ++ I definitely loved going in and sharing different plates with friends. It’s a great way to explore what everyone’s variety in taste. We ended the night with desserts. Hanging on to my Cuban side, I of course had to have the flan! It was not as great as how my Abuela used to make it, but it was pretty darn close. It was such a great night, hanging out with my girlfriends, and trying new foods. I definitely need to go back and work my way through the menu!

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Thursday are for girl bossing day! I had to work in the afternoon, so I hopped on the bus and headed to Intelligentsia Coffee in Lakeview. I love coming to this coffee shop when I have a lot of  work to do. There long communal tables make it so easy for working with a friend and still having elbow room, the music they play are always BOPS [lots of ABBA this day], and don’t get me started on their coffee! My go-to is always an Oat milk Latte, but I wasn’t feeling coffee that day [alarming…I KNOW], so I got a iced-matcha latte which turned out just as delicious and creamy!

 

We started the weekend with a bang. **spoiler alert** We were running the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday, and with every great races comes a great expo. We headed to McCormick Place, which is an adventure on it’s own. The expo was so fun; we tried samples from Power Protein, and Brew Dr. Kombucha, took photobooth pictures with Barefoot Wine, and checked out some awesome Nike gear.

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And at night we celebrated! My dear friend Katie passed her Organic Chemistry class so of course we had to bring the champagne out! Our friend Jesselyn had curated a perfect cheese spread with brie, gouda, different crackers, and pretzels. Just call us the Real Housewives of DePaul.

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Then it was the event I’ve been waiting for..the Judah and the Lion concert!! Judah and the Lion is one of my favorite bands right now and they did not disappoint. The room was filled with some much positive energy, it was contagious. Their lyrics speak about unity, self worth, and love I’m getting chills just writing about it. It is always an evergrating feeling to come together with a room of strangers, singing your favorite songs at the top of your lungs, and feeling together. They covered Lean On Me by Bill Withers, and I’ve never had such a spiritual experience at a concert. Amazing. 10/10.

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When planning my spring break adventures, I thought “how would I love to end my last spring break as an undergraduate?” Running an 8K ofcourse! Katie and I ran the Shamrock Shuffle around Chicago! Besides it being 28 degrees when we started to run, once I felt the circulation back in my fingers it was a great time. I met my goal of running it under an hour! Last but least for the week, we ended at Goddess and the Baker for a post-run coffee.

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Spring Break flew by, but I spent the week with people that I love doing all the things I love! If you are in the Chicago area, let me know if you visit any of the places above! Tag me on instagram and use the hashtag– #CafecitoinChicago

 

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Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Busy” in 2018

Hello!

Today I wanted to talk about an intention I’ve been implementing in my life in 2018. I’ve been putting this off writing this because I want to make sure that I’m really diving deep into this but, in reality, I’m probably never going to be an expert on this, I just want to share my insight.
In 2018, I stopped saying the words I’m busy.
That’s it. Simple. I am no longer busy.

I will be the first to admit that I burned my fuse very quickly in college. After my junior year ++ only being 21, I found myself physically, emotionally and mentally drained. I filled up my plate way to soon, and found myself not wanting to do anything I loved. Stress took over my body and I did not react well. I’m pretty sure my mom was ready to get a phone call that I had a mental breakdown at any moment. At the end of 2017 ++ the end of fall quarter 2017, my body was covered in hives, and as I started to reflect on what needed to change for 2018, I knew how I managed my time and stress needed to change.

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So I started to journal what I wanted from 2018 for about a month, and through writing, I came up with I am no longer busy, I have all the time in the world, but I don’t have the energy to do it all. I thought about how I was scheduling my energy instead of my time. It all started to click and it started to make sense. I had a shift of how I started to think.

I threw time out of the window, and began to start thinking about how I viewed my energy. My energy started to look like a bank account. I have only so much to spend, so what am I going to spend it on and how am I going to spend it. The same when I was spending too much money, I would quickly run out of money, and of course it’s the time that an emergency would arise and I would have to scatter for money—I didn’t have a savings account for my energy. I made a list of just three things I wanted to focus on—school/career, CHAARG, and myself. These are the three things that take up most of my energy and what I want to spend my energy on. How I spilt this up is maybe a blog post for another day.

My perception on the word busy has changed. I became an ultimate believer that if anyone wanted to do anything, no matter what they have going on they will make time for it. I often used the word busy, because I was so burned out. I didn’t really know how to say no to something, because I was embarrassed at the fact that I was too tired to do anything, and to be that looked like failure. Before the rise of the wellness community of Instagram, people didn’t really post when they were taking a break or slowing down. The #girlbosses that I looked up didn’t seem to take a break, and they were very successful, so I need to go go go to become successful.

Since my perspective has changed, I have been able to be a more engaged student, a stronger leader, a present friend. My brain fog has cleared. My stress and anxiety have decreased dramatically and I’m finally getting a full night’s sleep. I feel a deeper connection to my highest self. Every day I journal the things I want to get down, what do I want to do that feed into my higher goals, and am really mindful of the things that the universe presents throughout the day.

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I do have to admit, I haven’t perfected this. It’s finals week at my school, I’m sick, have low energy, and sleep deprived. I am mindful of it still, every minute I can I still work on trying to have all the energy I can have. Some days I still struggle to find the balance. It’s always about the little steps that you can take everyday to live a healthier life.

Hasta la próxima,
Anais

 

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A Miami Girl’s Guide to Winter

Usually, when I tell people that I’m from Miami, the first thing they ask me is why would I leave the beautiful Miami weather for the cold Chicago winters? First off, have you been in Miami really anytime of year?? It’s hot, humid, and I am sticky all the time, not cute.  In reality, I’ve gotten really lucky with the mild winters, I like to think I brought some warmth to Chicago, but others call that Global Warming. With the temperatures already dropping to a nippy negative 15 degrees I know this winter is going to be a slap in the face! Fortunately, I’ve been over-preparing myself since the first time my Abuela told me to PONTE UN SUETER in 68 degree Miami weather. Over the past few years, I’ve been collecting a few tips and tricks to surviving the winter.

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  1. THE ESSENTIALS: VITAMIN D AND WATER

We’ll start with the boring stuff–but probably the most important one. During the winter, you are not being exposed to the sun as often and even when it’s sunny the rays are not as intense; the days are shorter, most days are gloomy and dull, and if you are anything like me leaving the house is very difficult. The sun is a great source of Vitamin D, so when we aren’t getting any is when we start our bodies to feel weaker and our moods start dropping. I recommend taking a capsule of Vitamin D everyday. It is great for your immune system and can help getting through the winter months.

Water also becomes so much more important in the winter, of course, you should be drinking water year round, but the winter is so dry and dehydrated that a little extra water makes all the difference.

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  1. DIFFERENT SOURCES OF LIGHT                                                                                      The sun is out for what feels like 7 minutes of the day, and being deprived from sunlight is what also gives us that blues feelings. Recently I got a Himalayan Salt Lamp, and it has made all the difference. It helps clear the air in the room, and has made sleep so much better. It gives my room a little bit of brightness when the sun starts to go down at 3 PM.

The happy light is also a great source of additional lighting, which helps elevate mood levels and  sleeping through the night.

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  1. CREATE A HOME AWAY FROM HOME

This is for the people who now live in a colder environment than what they grew up in. In the winter is when I feel the most homesick. All my family and friends are in the warmth, by the beach and as much as I love living in Chicago, home is always home in my heart.  So, I started to do little traditions that remind me of home and overall make my soul happier. I make more cafecito, I listen to my favorite Spanish tunes, and ask my parents to send me my favorite snacks. I try to make the effort to call home more often and talk to my family. Any reminder from home that keeps me from hopping on a plane and moving back home is helpful.

  1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH HAPPY PEOPLE

This is a given for anytime of the year, but I think it is especially important for the winter time to surround people who lift you up and brighten your day when the sun is not shining too bright. The winter time can feel very isolating as everybody wants to stay in every weekend, the weather can affect people’s mood, and simply getting out of bed can be very hard. Grab a friend to hit the gym with, or plan a dinner party in your own home. Keep the laughter and smiles going all winter long.

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  1. SWITCH UP YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE                                                                        Going to the gym can get so boring after the second time. It’s too icy outside to run, workout classes are so fun, but they can add up and get expensive, but working out is as important in the winter months  as it can help you beat the winter blues, and can even help you stay warm longer. This winter I’m working on trying more non-traditional workouts. A few weeks ago a friend and I went rock climbing for a challenging upper body workout, trampoline parks for a invigorating   cardio workout, and ice skating! This way you are still getting the workout you wanted, but not dreading the time you are about to spend at the gym.  IMG_3791.jpg
  1. EXPLORE YOUR CITY

A big city like Chicago is bustling with activities that a fun but most importantly inside. Cities are filled with so many cool museums, and often are giving free day passes to residents during the winter. As a student I’m always sitting at the library get homework done, or writing a blog post, and sitting in the same space can make me go a little stir-crazy, but I use the winter time to go and try new coffee shops, [I recently tried the WormHole in Chicago definitely a new favorite!] This way I’m changing up my location while trying new places and supporting local business! Don’t live in a big city? Maybe try visiting a local major city or a staycation at a nearby hotel. Planning a mini-vacay will help relieve the cabin fever with the excitement of visiting a new place.

I know the winter can be rough, but you will get through it! Spring time will be here in no time! What are some of your favorite winter activities? Let’s chat!

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Sending you warm love,
Anais

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Cafecito To Go: Nicaragua

Hey there!

These past few weeks have been crazy busy! I finished another hectic quarter of school, celebrated Thanksgiving with my roommate and her family, and then hopped on a plane and traveled to Nicaragua for two weeks!

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I went to Nicaragua with Global Brigades on a Public Health and Medical brigade. Global Brigades is student lead organization that works with communities in rural areas in Central America to help build create sustainable communities.  Colleges and universities from around the world go to countries to volunteer in Medicine, Public Health, Water, Business, Human Rights, Dental, or Engineering Brigades.

My trip to Nicaragua was a beautiful experience. I am so grateful for the time I spent in the country, the passionate and hard working people  I met, and the wisdom they passed down to me what every single one of them taught me.. We danced in the rain. We ate too many plantains. We played “landa” (Spanish for tag) and sang Suavemente from the tops of our lungs.  I honestly don’t think I will ever be able to fully put into words my experience.

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Throughout the trip I did document what I and I wanted to share it with you! Nicaragua is a beautiful country, and you ever have the chance to visit, I HIGHLY recommend going.  

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We stayed in the city Matagalpa and I must say, this city knows how to party. Stores played music every night and the streets were constantly flooded with people.  

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Kiss Me is a chic ice-cream shop in the city, delicious unique favors from tres-leches, lavender, and peanut butter-banana!

My little cafecito heart was flourishing in Nicaragua. So much great coffee, so little time. I had probably 4 cafecitos a day and I was in heaven. My favorite coffee shop was Seleccion Nicaraguense, it was such a comfortable and homey spot with a beautiful patio. I of course had to take a few bags of coffee home.

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Traditional Nicaraguan breakfast; always with a side of coffee.

When visiting the town of Las Curenas, the women gave us a tour of their Ceramica Negra (Black Pottery) business. All their pottery is handmade by the women who live in the community. From mugs and vases, to wind chimes and animal statues, all their poetry was so beautiful. The hard work that the women put into their business was so inspiring.

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The nature side of me was so excited when we visited Selva Negra, an eco lodge and cafe right outside of Matalgapla. If you ever visit Nicaragua, I suggest spending the afternoon or even a few days there! We hiked around the property, watched a beautiful sunset and then stayed for treats afterwards.

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Lastly, my favorite part of the whole experience was working with Global Brigades, other DePaul students, and all the locals I met. Each of them inspired me to go back home and do MORE, live MORE, laugh MORE, give MORE. It was a humbling experience to work alongside people who just truly cared to better their community.

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Until the next cafecito,
Anais

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Trader Joe’s Essentials

Over the week, I posted a poll on my instagram story on which grocery store you liked better, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The results are in; Trader Joe’s was favored, and that brings me to my post today– My top 10 favorite Trader Joe’s products. TJ’s is basically heaven on earth, and my best friend Katie and I’s ideal hangout spot (no really, we go grocery shopping together all the time). I shop at Trader Joe’s for all my dry foods, spices, meats, and last minute meal options. To be honest, I don’t usually buy my produce at Trader Joe’s, I prefer to buy it at Whole Foods, and I am not the biggest fan of frozen foods. 

Without further adieu, here are my 10 favorite things at Trader Joe’s Top 10 Products:

  1. Clarified Butter (ghee)IMG_3051

    Ghee is an awesome alternative to butter often used in ayurvedic medicine, but that ishhh can get expensive. Trader Joe’s sells this container of clarified butter (similar to ghee, but differs in production) for ONLY $3.99, that’s a steal! I love using this for sauteing vegetables, and in my bulletproof coffee! Clarified butter is so much easier for your digestive system, and perfect if you have a dairy sensitivity.  

  1. Nutritional Yeast

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Cheese and I have a love/ hate relationship. I love cheese, but cheese hates me. I think we can all agree that pasta is not complete without a sprinkle (or 3 cups) of cheese on top. Well, my stomach truly disagrees, but then the Trader Joe’s gods blessed me with nutritional yeast and my life was forever changed. And I know you can get nutritional yeast, but have I mentioned the amazing prices at TJs??? It is high in Vitamin B, and has a great cheesy flavor, honestly I think it’s magic.

  1. Seasonings IMG_3047

I don’t have a favorite seasoning to share, but I think Trader Joe’s is the place to buy all your seasonings. They have a wide variety from your basic salts and peppers, to chili lime to everything bagel seasoning all at a reasonable price. My current favorite right now is the everyday seasonings. I love using it on chicken and turkey, it’s packed with flavor, and makes cooking meals so fast and easy.

  1. Organic Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli IMG_3032

Being in college means that I naturally eat pasta 3-4 days a week (eating pesto tortellini as we speak). Eating white pasta wasn’t doing me justice, so I was on the hunt for a pasta alternative. I tried a differnt a version of this before, and it just clumped together and it was no bueno, but I really like the fusilli. I can eat bowls of pasta for days and feel less guilty about it! Top it off with some tomato basil marinara and nutritional yeast, and you got yourself a meal.

  1. Spinach Flour TortillasIMG_3041

I can not say enough about these tortillas. They are so good and fluffy and make a great tortilla for breakfast eggs, and I love using them for personal pizzas.

  1. 8 minute Steel Cut OatmealIMG_3038

I love a good oatmeal, but I hate how long steel cut oatmeal can take. And I can hear your thoughts “Anais, why not try overnight oats?” I have and it didn’t work and I was very upset and hangry, so I’m moving on. This oatmeal cooks so fast and makes breakfast in the morning super simple and delicious.

  1. Well Read California Red WineIMG_3044

Where my wine lovers at?!?!?! I saw someone talk about this wine over Instagram, and after I heard the person said 7$, I was sold. The wine is a California Blend, and is sooo good. So naturally, wine has sulfates, but most wines have added sulfates in it. This wine is organic and cheap and makes my little bougie heart sing. The wine is also 12.5% alcohol by volume, and after one glass I am singing Pony by Ginuwine planning out my the first SoulCycle class I’m going to teach.

  1. Sunflower Seed SpreadIMG_3058

This is for alll my nut spread lovers. Sunflower seed spread changes the game. I like to buy mine unsweetened, so I can’t vouch for the sweetened, but this stuff is so good. It is on the saltier side so it’s a great pairing with a blueberry bagel, or very sweet apples. The best part about it is if you do want it on the sweeter side, you can control how much sugar goes in it.  

  1. Mandarin Orange chicken 

(I ate all of it before I could get a picture…oops)

Okay, I know I said I didn’t like the frozen foods, but I will make an expectation for orange chicken. This chicken is soooo good, omg, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. At my Trader Joe’s it was voted Best Frozen Food, so you know it’s legit. It’s nice for days I don’t want to meal prep and want something quick. I recommend mixing in some rice and sauteed veggies and bam, you have a great meal!

  1. Organic Coconut AminosIMG_3063

This is the newest addition to my kitchen, but I am loving it so far. I was hesitant to buy it, but I used it to cook some peppers and mushrooms, and I loved the taste. It feels like I’m at Benihanas and the chef is making a heartbeat out of of fried rice. It has a very similar taste to soy sauce, and I’m really excited to try new recipes with it.

I know this list is a little different as Trader Joe’s has so many different meals and treats, but this is what works best for me and my meal routine! I cannot live everyday without these essentials  in my kitchen.

What are some of your favorite TJ favorites? What should I pick up next time I’m grocery shopping?

Sending you love + light,
Anais

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New Blog, Who Dis?

IMG_7911.jpgHello friends!

Call TMZ the rumors are true, THE FASHIONISTA IS DEAD. That bishhh had to go…just kidding!! Her love for blogging and writing are still here, but she needed a makeover. Welcome to “Cafecito in Chicago”, my new blog that’s about anything and everything. Lifestyle, fashion, wellness, fitness, college, welcome to all sides of me.
Let’s backtrack, over the past year I have been working on being the best version of myself. To be completely honest, I love who I have become and am still building to be (no shame for self love). Along with my self growth, I’ve been working on my blog and my Instagram platform. I was left feeling like the title “The Fashionista Says” did not truly represent me. I wanted to show more of myself on my blog and incorporate much more than the surface things-fashion and beauty, but dig deeper. I want to use my platform as a way to share all the things I love, and all the lessons I am learning as I go through my 20’s.

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So how did Cafecito in Chicago come to be? I wanted my new blog name to be a complete reflection of myself. First Cafecito- which translates to little coffee is basically a shot of Cuban espresso, which I have been drinking since I was probably five, it’s most likely the reason I wanna crawl in a hole when I don’t have a cup of coffee. Drinking cafecito is a popular social activity in the Cuban culture, it’s an invitation to come drink coffee and just chat about life, similar to how I want my blog to be. Growing up in Miami, I have so many vivid memories of my abuela turning on the espresso machines, or as we like to say cafetera, as soon as she thought somebody was going to come over. So just like my abuela invited loved ones with her cafecito, I’d extend an invitation with mine, let’s chat through a metaphoric shot of espresso.

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Now the Chicago part, I currently attended university in Chicago, Illinois, and moving to the city has probably been the best decision I have ever made, and I know that this is exactly where I need to be. I know I may not live in Chicago forever, but this city is where the journey of my 20’s started, and only less than 2 years, it already has been a rollercoaster and I cannot wait to see how it continues to shape me over the next few years. So this is my ode to you Chicago.
On my blog, you can still read through all my old blog post, I did not want to get lost through cyberspace, and heck– I worked really hard on them for you to enjoy. I am so excited to continue writing and sharing through this blog. You basically now have the key to my soul, and I barely open up on a first date, so this babe this is commitment. Thank you for everyone who I have talked my ear off about launching this blog, has helped me with pictures, the logo, and everything in between. Thank YOU for reading and sticking around.

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Salud,
Anais