Seams and Sprinkles

A sweet and fashionable life, one post at a time.

Powered by Blogger.

Organic Beauty Reviews

In one of my very first posts this year (it might have actually been the first now that I think about it) I shared that I was working to get towards owning and using organic beauty products. I have done a great job of finding new things to try; unfortunately, they all have not been the best experiences for me so far. Today I am going to share some recent brands I tested out that I purchased all at Target on a recent run. You can't leave that place without a whole cart full of stuff!

I will start with the things I love first and then go into the things I am not sure I am sold on just yet, but am giving a little time...I did spend money on each of them after all.

Love, love, love, totes amazing...

Pacifica Kale Luxe Oil-Free Multi Cream

This daily moisturizer is specifically formulated for oily skin, which I deal with on a daily basis. I combine this product with the Kale Luxe Oil-Free face wash. The combination has helped me keep my face clean, minimize my pores and start to create an even canvas. I love how well it works without making me feel like I have gloopy lotion all over my face. It is great for day or night use as well, which I really appreciate.

Yes To Face Masks

These face masks both worked so wonderfully. Some other products had been starting to break my skin out and I noticed an immediate difference using the charcoal detox mask. It helped soak away those pimples popping up right away and even my skin tone back out. My face didn't hurt or get overly dry afterward either which was a relief! I also really liked the brightening mask, which I tried a few days after. It was also a mud mask so they both contributed to getting my complexion under control again. I am hoping to try a few of the other kinds very soon, too!

Pacifica Underarm Deodorant Wipes

These underarm wipes come in a few different scents, so don't worry if you are not sold on coconut. I have recently started getting back into yoga during my lunch break so these have been a great help to save time after the sweaty seshes. They are the perfect amount of clean and refresh you right up all in a little disposable wipe. I have really been enjoying all the Pacifica products I have tried, so liking this furthers my faith in continuing to buy from this organic brand for my other beauty needs.

Meh, so far I am not really impressed...

Pixi by Petra Color Correcting Foundation

I really, really wanted to love all of these products. There was such a great selection at Target and from what I saw; it seemed to be things that could really fit my lifestyle. I purchased this powder foundation with along with a few others I will share that I had been pairing altogether. I am not sure if it is the combination of the other items or brands or what, but this brand of items was the only thing I swapped into my routine and my face does not like it at all! I have had a lot of breakouts on my face and my face has been extra oily and my pores are visibly larger. Being that the prices are comparable to what I would pay at Macy's for a larger brand, I was pretty disappointed in this result. I am still testing it out to see if my chemistry starts working with it or not after an extended period, but this may be heading for the garbage soon.

Pixi by Petra Sun-Kissed Bronzing Powder

Based on the issues I discussed above with breakouts, oiliness and enlarged pores I am not too sure on which product to call out for causing these problems. This is why I am not quite sold on them yet and am still working on what would be best for me. I do have to say though, I really like this sun-kissed color for a bronzer. I am pretty light and I just need an extra pop of color so I don't look like a ghost. I definitely don't want to be confused with an Umpa Lumpa by being super orangey and all that jazz. Color-wise this one is spot on for my fair skin!

Pixi by Petra Vitamin Makeup Mist

This mist seemed like it would be great, but it could also be a culprit of the acne and oiliness. I have since discontinued it in my morning beauty routine just in case. The mist is supposed to be useful in several facets, such as a morning refreshing primer or a refresher throughout the day. I had hoped it would be perfect as a makeup setting spray, but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe it would be more helpful as a travel item, but we shall see.

Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Mask

I don't want to hate on this product too much because I enjoyed the benefits of it right away, the mask part was just huge. From the photo, it seems like they want you to cover all around your lips, but that just won't work for me since my skin seems to be susceptible to breakouts right now. I ended up cutting the mask down to fit my lips, but that was a bit of a pain in the patooty. It did hydrate right away and make my lips smoother, but I only had the benefits of that for about a day. I would suggest using this when you are getting ready for an event or photos and want those lips to be on pucker point!

I hope my personal experience testing out these organic beauty products for the first time will be helpful in choosing items that would work best for you. I think I really do love everything about Pacifica best so far and will probably need to keep adding more of their products into my regimen. Please tell me all about your favorite and most effective organic beauty products in the comments below!

The Numbing Current: A Reflection on My Infertility Journey

Maybe you have seen books that outline what to expect when you are expecting, well so far I have not needed those books, although there have been many years of trying without successful results. I think even if I read a book about what to expect when you are not expecting I still would not have been prepared for the pain and all-consuming emotions I have gone through to date. It is my hope that sharing my story can do a few things and these will also be good reasons to stick with me until the very end of the post.

  1. You can feel a little comfort that you are not alone and your feelings are okay to have if you are in this circumstance. Please know I am here if you need support! 
  2. You can get educated on a common issue that I didn't know about and may help you advocate for yourself with your gyno (I will get more into this later). Please ask me more questions about my experience if you need to.
  3. If you cannot relate and everything has gone according to plan for you, this will show another side of the story and help you be more aware of others you may be hurting without meaning to. This happens a lot, and you just may not realize. 
  4. If you know me or not, this will help you understand me and hopefully give you some insight and freedom to interact with me on this subject. 
  5. Together, we can stop making these things so taboo!

As you can imagine, I have wanted to voice this story for a while, but it has been pretty rough. I would say up until this point for about a decade I have been in and out of a suffocating and debilitating depression around this topic. I go back and forth with how to even start sharing what I want to say, but let's just go ahead and do it memoir style and start at the beginning, so to speak. 

As a child, I grew up with many unfortunate circumstances from being poor to living through various types of abuse. I became guarded and jaded as a mechanism to cope with these difficult circumstances. I learned many of the best lessons in what not to do. Somehow I was different, resilient and was able to overcome these issues. I was successful in school and eventually moved out to California to make my own life and define things on my terms. What my 20/20 hindsight is telling me now is that it was really to make my own way and become who I was supposed to be all along and it just kept getting lost by the terrible loudness of the toxic environments I was exposed to growing up. 

I had the desire to be a parent very early in life, probably around 18 or 19 years old. I did what I thought I was supposed to do and prevented it from happening as my now husband and I knew through our upbringing it was not the right thing to do—yet. We still had college to complete, financial security to achieve and a home to make. We did all the right things; we worked hard, excelled in school and did our best to enjoy every moment in life. However...deep down I was hurting. I felt the strong calling to be a mom and afford my child the life I never had. My husband and I are the oldest of our siblings and nurturers by nature (ha-ha, new rap group name). I cried often, pleading with him that we could make it work. If everyone else who is irresponsible manages to somehow make it work, why couldn't we? I felt incomplete and just hurt knowing a huge part of me was still unfulfilled. *Let's STOP here* This freaking hurts so bad. Typing this knowing that this was so long ago and my heart has been longing for this for over a decade just plain sucks. SUCKS! I would say more harsh words, but I promised myself I would try to stop cussing so DAMN much!! 

Anyway, I am always glad my husband kept us logical because I would hate to repeat the same vicious cycle I grew up in. Although I continued to be sad deep down, we kept chugging along checking off the "you are supposed to" items on life's to-do list. We get our degrees, have a lovely wedding in Cancun, Mexico, buy our home, new car and even land a stint on HGTV to remodel the front part of our home. I don't want to complain and say we are not blessed because we absolutely are. I am very grateful for what I do have; just sometimes the emptiness I feel from not filling what I believe is my ultimate calling in life consumes me. 

At this time we try for a bit and nothing happens. After a year as instructed I go back to the doctor and share that I have tried with no luck. She orders blood tests for my thyroid, diabetes and other potential chemical imbalances. She shares that with infertility, 30% of cases are related to female issues, 30% are related to male issues and a whopping 40% can just be any combination of the unknown. UGHHHHH!!! The tests I take all come back normal and she offers no additional advice or assistance and refers me to the infertility side of the house...nothing else, just like I was another number to the medical industry. The first thing I was supposed to go through was an HSG test, which would show an x-ray of my fallopian tubes and let us know if my tubes are blocked or not. Well, guess what, life happens yet again and we find out our dog has cancer and we have to put him down. Shortly after that, we find out our water heater has been leaking for a while. For the following months, our house was a construction site repairing all the damage. At this point, I decided it would not be the optimal time to move forward with the next infertility stages because of all the stress and sadness we were under. I have since learned that the reason stress is not good for you while trying to get pregnant is due to the heightened amounts of cortisol in your system in preparation for the fight or flight reaction. This is when your body realizes, hey this lady seems like she might be having issues and is probably not a hospitable habitat for a baby. 

The science makes much more of an impact on me than all the people out there who have no idea what it is like telling me to just relax. Don't tell me to relax. We have been on vacations, mini trips, you name it. From some of the whitest beaches and most beautiful oceans, that offer the most ideal relaxing experiences, all of that and still have not been given the opportunity to be parents. If you see your loved ones stressed out, just be there for them and support them. There is no way to not feel some stress in these circumstances. All these infertility situations are hard and you feel like your basic genetic rights as a woman are taken from you. The one thing you are supposed to be able to do, you can't. Could you just relax if someone took away the thing you find meaning from? How about if you never could read a book again, enjoy an exotic vacation or a delicious meal? Could you relax then? Not so easy, right?

My husband and I got married a lot earlier than most of folks we know. And as we waited to be blessed with our bundle of joy, we attended several weddings over the years and now it seems like baby shower after baby shower. It feels like the more and more I want it, the more and more I notice everyone else getting what I yearn for. In your face at work, at after the other. Like it is literally in the water where I live and although I drink it somehow I have gotten the control version and the scientists must be watching me in pain from afar. I love everyone in our life to death and I absolutely wish no ill will on anyone and while I have always felt happy for their joy, I have always felt more sadness for me. I know it seems selfish, but this is honest. Think about it in the way of how introverts are supposed to adapt to an extrovert world. This is kind of similar; us infertility warriors are supposed to show up to showers, listen to non-stop stories and still maintain relationships when you don't even feel like getting out of bed some days. We are expected to always put on a happy face and be there for everyone when things go right, but where are people for us when things are going wrong? Not many people want to talk about that...and it hurts. Don't worry about saying the right thing; just be there if you care. It can get pretty lonely being the couple without kids who desperately want them. 

So fast forward to 2017...I am 30 years old...this means I have been feeling the calling to be a parent for 12 years. We went through the HSG test first and it came back clear so I thought maybe we would be okay and it was just the stress getting to us before. We still try to hold the "try without trying" philosophy hoping that things will just happen, but they still don't. Events become increasingly more difficult for me to put on a happy face and I am crumbling on the inside. Certain group texts make me cry embarrassingly at work, I start not wanting to be out in public and I try to focus more on blogging to try and find my own identity. I grow more in this area and am still growing to be more successful at it, but it still doesn't take away the whisper in the back of my heart reminding me that we are still not parents yet. 

I vividly remember September because there were baby showers and announcement things all around me like a riptide. As soon as I came up for air, I was swallowed again by the pounding tide and it...was...relentless. I got to the point where I had no more tears to cry. I was empty inside, outside and in my eyeballs. At this time, I knew we needed to move forward and start taking the steps to figure out what the issues were so we can address them. Since the HSG test was clear, our next steps were to have a fertility consultation appointment. I went in with the idea that I would likely get prescribed medicine and the only thing we might encounter is ongoing mood swings because my hormones would be jacked. I was so hopeful at that time because I had heard many success stories and felt it we had a good chance since it seemed to work for so many people. 

*Standby for my shocked face* Well, things didn't go smoothly. At all. At my first appointment, which infertility is only half covered by my healthcare as if I wasn't dealing with enough, we find out on the ultrasound that I have a large cyst on my right ovary called endometrioma. This means taking medicine is not an option for me until I have surgery to remove it. The pills work in a way that tricks your brain into producing more eggs and increase your chances of getting pregnant, unfortunately, this could also trigger the endometrioma to grow and burst. I know—this is the part where those scientists watching the control water spread mayo on the shit sandwich I keep getting. I am devastated. So devastated. Why can't I catch a break is all I keep thinking. I did everything right, I was a good person, why oh why must I still continue to hurt and be hurt. 

We go to follow-up appointments and find out that this endometrioma is caused by a disorder I have and will always have called endometriosis. It is more common than you think and can be genetic. The only way to cure this is by removing my ovaries, which is very counterproductive to what I am trying to accomplish here. Endometriosis is often linked to infertility due to the obstruction it can cause for the sperm to get to your eggs. Endometriosis I hate your stupid freaking face. So, in November I had surgery to remove the cysts that were currently present. I was terrified, but I am so grateful for my husband who has been so supportive of me and understanding to what I need through these past few months. After recovering, we were instructed to try for 5-6 months naturally again using ovulation kits and then to come back when we are ready to try to take the medicine (if no endometrioma are present of course...gee golly). 

The first few times I used the smiley face ovulation kit the doctor suggested, the strips and reader kept giving me error messages several days in a row. I lost it a few times and cried uncontrollably because gosh darn it is like everything we can or can't control is working against us. I just had surgery for goodness sakes, is that not enough?!? I finally wised up and stopped using the reader and just figured out for myself that the strip will have two lines and I don't need the smiley face or middle finger, I mean blank circle to tell me if I am ovulating or not. So, here's to hoping that something finally happens for us in the next few months and if not, here is to hoping I can take the medicine at that point to increase our chances and if not, I guess we will be saving up for the $30k IVF treatments and hope that works. 

I have not completely lost my hope yet because I do know we have options still, but I am so tired and exhausted. I have been going up this steep hill for so many years with one rock slide after another and I just need to have room to breathe already. I hope soon that I will be able to report back that the miracle has happened for us and I will be more grateful and hold on to every moment more than you can imagine. 

I hope that this helps you see the uneasy side of getting pregnant because I will say it, just having sex doesn't get you pregnant and starting your family fairytale. I know the brainwashing from all the movies and sitcoms have us all fooled but we have got to wake up. I hope you will ask about endometriosis if you are having any unusual pain or not getting pregnant so you can advocate for yourself before stepping into the more expensive infertility office. I also hope you can understand through this journey of mine that some people are hurting and don't mean to be sad when you are happy, it just hurts too much sometimes. 

Let's start more conversations about this and stop being scared to be there for each other and help each other advocate for ourselves. We need to be more open so we all don't feel alone or misunderstood and keep evolving these real situations so they are less taboo. We can be more mindful of what we say, like maybe let's retire "when are you planning to have a baby," and other things our society has made normal for us that can accidentally hurt others. I hope you are with me!

If you have questions or comments, I would love you to share them with me below. I want to help you in any way I can. Thank you again for being a part of this journey with means a lot!

Hump Day Quickie: How I am starting 2018

Hi everyone! Can you believe we are chatting in a new year already? I know I certainly cannot; time really does fly. I thought I would share somethings I am trying to implement in this new year to make sure I am set up for success and I hope some of these things will be beneficial for you to consider, too.

My overall goal word this year is enlightenment. I like to take in as much information is as I can, but this year I want to focus that information internally and make myself a stronger individual living at peace with the world and the journey I am on. The more I have been reflecting on my goals, the more I feel like I am in the middle of a mid-life crisis...but I feel like it is in a good, controlled type of way! To help me sort out my thoughts and let go of anything holding me back I am meeting with a life coach and so far have already had some great revelations from it. Yahoo, some mental health is on my path forward and I could not be more stoked to get rid of any unnecessary baggage!

Next, I listened to a podcast recently that had me thinking about what I put in and on my body. It discussed (and reminded me) that our skin is an organ and how sensitive things like our face and armpits are and we are putting gross chemicals all over it. I had already been considering this since my face continues to break out no matter what I do. I have since transitioned over to Pacifica beauty products for my face wash, lotion, and liquid foundation. My next step has been to add some miles to my life by purchasing organic fruits, vegetables, and other food whenever I can. I know it costs more up front...but isn't more days to live worth it? I think so! Over time, I hope to incorporate organic and natural products to replace all the other stuff I have lying around. I am not jumping into cutting everything out completely, but over time I want to be better and have better habits. I think I will be more successful overall with this approach. Yahoo, some better internal and external health is also on my path forward!

Another action item I am hoping will help me continue to grow is investing more in my relationships. I want to spend time investing in those that invest in me and really make time for quality time. It doesn't mean that it has to be huge chunks of time or expensive events, just quality time chatting and being there for each other. As life goes on, I realize more and more that this is a valuable cornerstone of my life. Shout out to all those who have been there for me when I have really needed it (bless your souls...seriously)! I invite new and old friends to join me on a coffee date or random text exchange to connect better.

These are just a few things I am using to lay the foundation for this year and many more goals trickle down from there. A huge help to me outlining what is most important to me and deciding on how to set these actionable goals has been the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner by Lara Casey. This is my second year using it and I can vouch for its value. I looked back on my last year and this amazing tool kept me on track even in my crappiest of times (and there were many of those). If you are still looking for something to help you get out of your own way and map it out, I think you will find it very useful!

I would love to support you and check in with you some time to see how you are doing with your goals. If you feel like sharing so I can do that with you, please leave me a note in the comments below and how I can reach you to follow up at a surprise time! I would be so excited to do that and support you in your life adventure this year. So write it down there for me and let's make a deal to make it a commitment for both of us.

Cheers to an absolutely fabulous year, friends!

Vaycay Recap: Our Thanksgiving in Panama

As another holiday is upon us I thought it might be a good time to share and reflect on all we did during the last one! I can't believe that was almost a month ago. I do have to say, getting away for this Thanksgiving was so refreshing this year. We had some flight credit from last year and decided to try a new place that we had never been before; Panama City, Panama!

It reminded me a lot of California since it is so long and there is a variety of landscapes to see. Panama City was on the Pacific Ocean side, but that did not take away from the beauty of it and November just happened to be a good time before it really heated up for their summer season. Don't get me wrong, there was still major humidity that my hair absolutely hated, but it was bearable. Well we have a lot of things to get through on this itinerary so let me just jump right in and tell you all about it, but please be forewarned, we do a lot of experiencing a new place through the food and this is going to be a lot to read but stick with me so you can plan your vacation there, too! On a final note, I will be doing lots of links so you can read more if you ARE planning your trip at some point. Enjoy the rundown!

Day 1- Sunday, November 19th 

We arrive after a red-eye straight flight from CA with legitimate red eyes from not sleeping, but that does not stop us from hitting the ground running and ready to start the day! We checked into the amazing Hard Rock Hotel there and our room on the 33rd floor had a great view of the ocean and city. One thing I really loved was how there were different music paintings and memorabilia all throughout the hotel. Right away we felt the tropical weather, but it was breezy this day.

We decided to walk along the Amador Causeway to Casco Viejo, which we were told is about a half hour walk from the financial district where we were staying. Let me tell you it is actually over an hour walk there! It was lovely and a lot of locals use it to walk and bike along the coast so I didn't mind it too much. When we arrived it was a photographer's dream. They had the cutest doors and charm all over the place. I just could not get enough of the scenery and photo opportunities (huge shout out to my Instagram hubby on this part of our trip).

By this point in the afternoon, we certainly worked up a big appetite so we headed to the Red Lion and ended up ordering Peruvian food, which is one of my absolute favorites thanks to my half-Peruvian hubby for introducing me to this fusion of Latin American, Asian and Italian-like flavorful food. I had the Lomo Saltado and Joe enjoyed a seafood Chaufa. I also tried the Panama Lager for the first time here and it was soooo good!

After that, we headed back for our long walk to the hotel and took in the city a bit more. After we got back, we unpacked our bags a bit and got situated and relaxed a little bit. That night we decided to stay in and enjoyed some wonderful tapas at Ciao inside the Hard Rock. I chose some fancy Peking duck quesadillas with a beer and Joe had a delicious chicken barbeque pizza and a Caipirinha, which is a Brazilian cocktail.

Day 2- Monday, November 20th

Monday after a good rest we were ready to hit the walking again. This time we headed through the neighborhoods so that we could get to Ancon Hill to do a nice hike and see a great view of the city. If you are ever in Panama City, this is the hill with the large Panamanian flag at the top that you can see from everywhere! The interesting thing is how it goes from city to jungle-like right away once you reach the base to hike up. It was very beautiful and lush. I think both Joe and I were really impressed with the large ants hauling things all up and down the hill! I was also really excited to see some cuy (large guinea pigs... they eat these in Peru!) but they ran too fast for me to get a photo of them.

After hiking around and enjoying the views, we headed back down to Casco Viejo to have lunch and decided to try another Peruvian restaurant (hey... we love our comida Peruana). This time around we ate at Nasca 21 and ordered a big variety of goodies to restore our energy after all that walking and hiking around. We ate ceviche mixto, causa limeƱa Lomo Saltado, and Chaufa de Mariscos. We paired this meal with an Inca Cola, which to me tastes like bubble gum!

You all know I love my ice cream so the next place we went to in Casco Viejo was one of the highlights of my trip! We headed over to the adorable and hip Ay Mi Negra dessert bar. I ordered the Fruity Pebble ice cream roll up that also had sweetened condensed milk drizzled throughout. It was unbelievable. Don't pass this place up if you go there; it is to die for!!

Next up we took our long walk back along the causeway to get back to the hotel to hang at the infinity pool overlooking the city. It was some much-needed relaxation after burning all the trails all over the city the past few days! If only I had remembered to bring my book down to enjoy. After we were back to life, we headed just across the street to Tumba'o for dinner. I ordered the Choripan and Joe had a hamburger with Gouda, bacon and an egg. I stuck with the Panama Lagers and Joe enjoyed the San Blas Mojitos all night long! We had a good time hanging out here and listening to the music.

To keep the night rolling, we headed up to the 62nd floor of the Hard Rock Hotel to party at the outdoor lounge. The view was beyond epic out there. You are so high up it is scary, but it was breathtaking and certainly worth it. There was lots of seating all around so you almost felt like you had your own booth! We enjoyed whiskey sours and maracuya (passion fruit) mojitos.

Day 3- Tuesday, November 21st

On Tuesday I really needed a little Starbucksies, so we headed out for about a 20-minute walk through town to find one. It was a cool little two-story location with lots of space for working and enjoying the city view at the top, almost like a library. So, we sipped our coffee and relaxed for a bit before hitting the town again.

We were getting close to our hotel when we stumbled upon another Peruvian restaurant called Lima 18 for lunch. This time we had a delicious three item sample platter called Ronda Marina, which included mixed ceviche, arroz con mariscos, and chicharron paired with none other than a refreshing Inca Cola! We also ordered fried yuca balls that we had to take to go because we were just too stuffed to finish it, which ended up being a deliciously spicy, and cheesy snack later that day.

Our evening was an awesome dinner show with traditional Panamanian dancers at Tinajas Restaurant. We had been to a show in Peru that was awesome like this so I was really looking forward to what theirs would be like. Here I had a seafood soup with a salad and Joe had their version of Arroz con Pollo. The show was pretty good and showcased many traditional dances. I would say my favorite part was the solo drummer piece, he did a phenomenal job! I also loved the outside of this building... too cute!

This time we finished our evening up at the top of the hotel on the inside bar since the outdoor portion was closed off. I loved all the plushy couches and mirrors they had everywhere in this lounge area. It made us feel very fancy!

Day 4- Wednesday, November 22nd

It wouldn't be a trip to Panama City without seeing the Panama Canal, so the first thing we did was wake up and take a taxi over to Miraflores to see it! We got to see an informative history video first when we arrived and then we headed to view the canal. Unfortunately, we were not able to see any boats pass through while we were there, but it was a very interesting place to learn about and see in person. There was also a cool museum inside to walk through that showed many interesting facts and even had a display so you can see the captain's view while driving a boat through the canal. It really is amazing how these large vessels are able to pass through.

After we hung out there for a while, we headed back towards Casco Viejo to have lunch at the fish market that has a dozen or more little restaurants to chose from. We ended up eating at Restaurante Econo Fish that had a wonderful creole flair to it. We enjoyed portions that were a mega-feast for two people that included mixed fried seafood, stuffed plantains, and steamed garlic clams. I wish we had walked around more to build our appetite for all this food, but we ate as much as we possibly could! Our waiter was also very helpful and even walked us over to a cheaper souvenir market to get some good deals for our friends back home after our lunch!

When we got back to the hotel we took it easy and lounged around for a bit in our room and had a few drinks together and chatted about what our favorite parts of the trip were thus far. Before we headed out to dinner we also took a moment to book our Thanksgiving plans through the hotel to enjoy a full day on a catamaran to the nearby Taboga Island for the day, which I could not wait to do! If we had more time I would have loved to travel to the Carribean side of the country to visit the San Blas Islands that look amazing (I am such a sucker for the Carribean blue water).

For dinner, we walked just a little beyond our hotel to a Greek place (aren't you proud of me for not having a Peruvian meal?) called Sulvas. After our heavy, fried lunch I needed more vegetables in my life so I went with the Greek salad pita and Joe had an Angus Greek pita. They were very good and refreshing, which was much needed after our afternoon of pigging out! We called it a night after this since we needed to be up early to catch our ride for the final day's journey.

Day 5- Thursday, November 23rd (Thanksgiving)

What a week! I have to say this Thanksgiving day was full of tons of fun laughter and unlimited Panama Lager. We headed from our hotel to catch the Red Cat catamaran first thing in the morning to ride out to Taboga Island, which was about an hour away from Panama City. We had the opportunity to partake in unlimited beer and cocktails throughout the trip. They stopped the boat about halfway there for those that wanted to jump out and swim before we continued on to the island. We were fortunate enough to meet a friendly like-minded couple from Pittsburg named Emily and Chris that we hung out with all day long. We chatted, laughed and said our "Happy Thanksgiving" cheers as much as possible! Emily is also a blogger (gahhhh), so be sure to check out her blog, Urban Contradiction.

When we reached the island our friends swam from the boat out to the island and Joe decided to follow suit, but quickly found out that it was a lot further away than it looked! I went with the safe option and took the little boat that dropped you right by the shore so I could take my sunscreen and phone to capture more photos with me! Once on shore, we swam in the warm water and collected amazing seashells for my sister. It is a long-standing tradition I have to collect them everywhere we go for her. We enjoyed lunch on the boat and danced to a variety of music the whole way back. I couldn't have asked for a better last day activity!

Once we returned we showered up and got ready for one final Peruvian course back at Lima 18 (for our "Thanksgiving meal"). We had the ceviche as an appetizer and enjoyed Lomo Saltado and Tacu Tacu for our main dishes. We clinked our glasses to the holiday with Pisco Sours in the true Peruvian fashion. Now that's what I call an awesome Dia de Gracias!

We ended our night with Emily and Chris for one final hoorah before our vacation winded down by having a few drinks at our hotel, seeing the 62nd story view and a few final drinks at Tumba'o. Our day was definitely made by these amazing folks and I now think we need to spend our Thanksgivings in new places because it really does help you appreciate life that much more!

Once we were back, we packed up all our humid-ridden clothes, knickknacks, and mild sunburn to head back home to our little Kirkland (this has been the longest we have been away from him). Since we were traveling all day, there was no black Friday shopping for us this year but no need to worry, I was caught up on all the sales by Cyber Monday!!

If you are thinking about going anywhere in Central or South America, please reach out to Heart of Travel to get your itinerary scheduled. Chelsea was phenomenal in recommending many of the places we went to that you read above and is now a local friend of mine so I would love to keep supporting her passion because she is great at it!

I hope you enjoyed this recap of our trip and start making your way to see the sights of Panama soon! I appreciate you sticking it out with me to the end of the post :). Tell me your favorite place to go or where you are planning to travel next in the comments so I can be sure to add that to my travel wishlist. Cheers to the next adventure Y'all!

Holiday Party Style: The Little Black Dress

Cue it... IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!! I don't know about you, but my favorite time of the year is definitely the winter holidays. There is just something so magical about the season of giving, spending time with loved ones and believing in Santa! I am glad to add new traditions of our own each year to the mix to make it really special to us. My favorite traditions now include making my favorite Crock-Pot hot cocoa bar, wearing onesies on Christmas morning and taking holiday photos with our pets (a crazy, yet cute experience each time).

This year I was beyond blessed to join The Blog Bloc and really get my creative juices flowing by meeting so many amazing creatives in my area. I cannot express how much fun it has been to meet new people, navigate out of my comfort zone and enjoy the opportunity to learn so many new things from so many amazing people all throughout the year! What better way to commemorate these moments than to get together with my girls from this amazing group at a fun and new location- The Sawyer Hotel in the downtown Sacramento area.

We thought it would be fun to each wear a favorite little black dress that made each of us feel and look great and celebrate our own unique styles. You certainly can't go wrong with a black dress for the holiday events you have coming up because it helps hide the imperfections and highlight your assets, can be used for any variety of event and is always easily dressed up with a splash of color or perfect accessories!

Photography provided by Seeking the Sea Photography

I chose a Grace Karin black Vintage Tea Dress that you can find in a variety of patterns and colors for very reasonable prices on Amazon. I am a lover of the vintage style already, so I always feel my best when I have these beauties on. I especially love that hourglass shape they give you. I added in a Grace Karin black petticoat that you can also find on Amazon for some extra fancy fluff for your upcoming special occasions. Now, it wouldn't be a holiday party without some razzle-dazzle sparkles would it?

I don't think so! For my sparkle, I was fortunate enough to stop by The Pomegranate Boutique and happened to find the cutest Peter Pan-like collar necklace that worked perfectly with the cut of the dress. Thank you so much, Stella, for gifting me this lovely piece that worked so well! I also had some black stockings with little gems on it that I figured why not add them in for even more of that evening flare. And with that, you have my simple, yet slightly holiday spicy little black dress getup!

Now that you have some of my personalized party dress inspiration, please head over to my fellow blogger's pages to get even more ideas and find the style that makes you feel your cheery best at Racquel and The Kachet Life! But before you go, be sure to tell me what your favorite holiday party style is below in the comments. Enjoy amazingly blessed holidays, friends!