Thursday, September 11, 2014

Adding colorful touches to our home.. {Pen & Paint feature}

One of the reasons I love Instagram so much is because I've connected with the most creative women that are also inspirational to me. I love connecting with new people and Instagram has allowed me to find more artists to connect with.

While living in Cupertino I had the pleasure of connecting with amazing artists and handmade shop owners amongst them I found Lindsay from Pen & Paint. Lindsay is a mother of two and an artist at heart. She is always creating, I've seen posts on instagram early in the morning in which she is sketching with her felt pens or doing some watercolor art that she most of the time turns into printed art to be sold on her Etsy shop. 

On my blogging bucket list is to feature handmade artists and shop owners I love on Stroller Adventures, however I wasn't sure if emailing them to ask to feature them would be well received by them. So in May, when Lindsay made an open call on Facebook for bloggers that would like to collaborate with her and her shop, I immediately emailed her to say how interested and excited I was about this amazing opportunity! 

I'm so glad I did, because who wouldn't like to learn about an inspirational artist that sketches colorful drawings in watercolor and adds encouraging sayings and quotes to keep you going throughout your day? Such as this one:

This print is located in our upstairs hallway, the one we walk by more than I can remember each day. It is a great reminder to be a better person. There is always room for improvement and this encourages us to keep going to becoming better each and every day.

You most likely already know how much I love my family, my extended family and how much we miss them all specially since moving to Central America. To us family is priority, we are a very tight family on both sides. It's the way we were raised and the way we are raising our little family. It felt right to add this print to place we are most during the day: our kitchen counter! 

I am getting many compliments from friends and neighbors that are fellow expats like us for this print, they agree that family is everything!

There are so many other prints I love like the Believe in something wonderful  and the one that is a reminder of the weight loss journey I am  on, my list of favorites could go on and on specially since she has roughly 150 print options! She also has some very cute and colorful ones that I've been looking at for our kitchen. 

Disclosure: I received two 5x7 prints from Pen & Paint for this feature, however all images and opinions are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Restaurant you must visit in Ensenada Baja Mexico

One of the things that I love about traveling is trying new restaurants and savoring different tastes. While vacationing in Ensenada, we had a list of restaurants and wine we wanted to enjoy. We knew that in the past year it the restaurant industry has evolved and there are many new restaurants to try and amazing chefs. 

With the growth in popularity of Valle de Guadalupe aka Baja's Wine Country where you'll find some of the best wines in Mexico, Ensenada has put their best foot forward with delicious restaurants that create their own menus; the options are unique to the area, recipes are authentic which makes for an interesting and exquisite food tour. 

On a Thursday evening my girlfriend and I left our families behind to spend an evening out catching up on life and talking in person instead of over the phone or facetime. We began with watching the sunset as we enjoyed some wine and cheese and ended in the best restaurant I have dined at to date in Ensenada. It is a new, up and coming restaurant named UVE. 

UVE stands for Union of Valle and Ensenada or in spanish "Unión del Valle y Ensenada", Valle as in Valle de Guadalupe. UVE prepares dishes using only ingredients from the region. I told my friend I wanted a delicious salad with a unique and equally delicious vinaigrette and this is when her excitement couldn't be contained to share with me her latest restaurant find that had only been open for a couple of months. She said: "wait 'til I take you to a very chic, minimalist and delicious new place". Both my friend and I love minimalist decor and design so once she said that word I too was excited to find out what this place was all about.

I honestly did not know what to expect, but once I saw the outside of the four story high building all I could think was the owner must love traveling. The outside of the building is so simple yet very modern, with a large living wall. I know all about living walls because I've seen many of them on Pinterest and StumbleUpon where most of the ones I've found have been in Europe. Little did I know that there was one in my own beloved Ensenada. 

We chose to take the stairs to the second floor, but there was an elevator with an attendant waiting to take you to the floor you chose. The first floor is a wine boutique offering the best wines from the region and from around the globe, the second floor is where the kitchen and dinning area is setup, the third floor has a piano and dinning area too and the fourth floor is also for dinning. The view from the second and third floor is mostly to the living wall and all the amazing plants in it, with lighting effects that make you feel as if you are in a rainforest. 

As we made our way into the restaurant we were greeted by Francisco {the host} who let us chose our table and suggested some options from the menu as our server came to serve us water and take the order for our drinks. After a few minutes going over the menu I decided on a green salad with berries and a house honey-mustard vinaigrette, my friend decided on a tiramisu.

My salad was fresh, you could taste all of the ingredients {goat cheese, walnuts, berries} in the vinaigrette and it looked perfect! My friend's tiramisu also tasted and looked fresh, it was honestly the best tiramisu I've ever tasted. I began asking questions about the restaurant and of course taking pictures, yes the blogger in me wanted to share all about UVE restaurant. The staff was amazing, they had perfect timing and never did we get interrupted in our conversations. One of the details I loved about UVE is that they bring a stand that is table height to hang your handbag in it and place it in a corner of your table, this way you are not worrying about your handbag being on the floor or falling off the chairs.

I enjoyed the ambience so much that we went back the following night for date night, same friend but now with our spouses. My husband also didn't know what to expect, but I had talked about how special and different it was that he was excited to have dinner at UVE. This time around we took the elevator and as we entered we were greeted by the host, he smiled since he remembered us from the night before and we had told him we'd be back because I wanted to enjoy their dinner.

UVE Restaurant has a wide variety of coffees, in fact my friend was telling me they have the best coffee in town. You can easily see why.

It is family owned and operated, the family has selected the perfect team to convey the experience they were searching for. In fact they're a traveling-foodie family that have been in many countries and cities and through the restaurant they want their customers to feel part of that experience. We had the chance of meeting the owner Mr. Garibay strives for excellence in everything he does, which is why when he began working on his idea for UVE he contacted the best. He traveled to Paris to invite one of the chefs that works alongside Pierre Gagnaire {one of the best chefs in the world, who's received many awards and accolades} to travel to Ensenada to train his staff and develop new recipes alongside Claudio Rodríguez. UVE's concept is based on restaurants with 3 Michelin Awards, making UVE more special

Another detail about this restaurant and the main reason why it is called UVE is because it is the only restaurant in Ensenada in which you can try wines from different vineyards that Valle de Guadalupe has to offer, you simply purchase a pre-paid card with the amount you choose and you are given a wine glass. There is a display with different wine bottles from different vineyards and each one has its own valve, using your pre-paid card you purchase the wine you chose to try and you can purchase as little as an ounce so you can taste all the wines and then decide on the one you'd like to enjoy with your meal. I knew what wine I wanted so of course I went with my favorite wine from my favorite vineyard: Monte Xanic's chardonnay. They are also the only restaurant in the region to have a great variety of champagne and wines from Europe. 

For dinner we started with a fish ceviche that had mango in it and gave it the perfect balance and texture along with a bowl of onion soup. Simply delicious, so delicious that I didn't realize I didn't take a picture of it before we began eating it {I guess we have to go back ;) }. After our appetizers I had ordered "pollo campesino" which is skinless-boneless chicken breast in a rich and creamy sauce made out of goat cheese, apples and mushrooms it is served with a side of creamy risotto and grilled vegetables of the season. 

For dessert we ordered an apple strudel with hazelnut gelato, it was the perfect combination of flavors. 

And we also ordered a vanilla gelato with a red fruits sauce and some mint, also delicious combination of flavors and textures. 

I should mention that every meal, bread, gelato, dessert, etc. is prepared in house fresh every single day, like I said they strive for excellence!

If you were to ask me what I liked most besides the food {because it is obvious I loved the food} I'd say the ambience, it was an experience I look forward to enjoying again when we travel back to Ensenada and I'd say that since I went two nights in a row it just shows how much I liked UVE. I can't wait to go back and enjoy my delicious meal once again and try new dishes from their menu. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The iPad case that allows me to multitask! {review}

Since moving to Costa Rica our family iPad has been getting used more than before by our family, the preschooler uses it to practice shapes, numbers, letters and more; the third grader uses it for homework and to play mine craft, designer and practice her German.

Living over 2,700 miles away from family and friends means we are also using our family iPad to FaceTime with them and stay in touch. Due to all this usage we were searching for the perfect iPad case that would not only protect it, but also make it easy to take anywhere and one other key feature we needed was it to be able to stand alone. Perhaps the case we had before did allow this except for the stand alone feature. 

Sometimes when I facetime my mom I'm multitasking: cooking or cleaning while talking with her, the kids love playing games with their family and friends but holding the iPad with one hand and  using the other to play wasn't comfortable or safe for the tablet as it could fall and break the screen. 

We had been researching all the options locally and online to determine which case we'd purchase once we were back in the U.S. for vacation, narrowing it down to two options both were from (*)Speck but we were going to decide once we saw them at the store. A few days later I received an email offering us the opportunity to review (*)Speck products and of course I jumped at the opportunity immediately! 

I explained to (*)Speck what our needs were as far as an iPad case and I mentioned I had narrowed it down to the iGuy Case and the HandyShell. This is when we were recommended to try out the HandyShell, which I'm so glad we chose it is lightweight and you have full visibility of your screen, in addition it stands alone with a handle it has on the back that you can also use to hold onto your tablet. 

After receiving our new HandyShell we took the old case off and placed the new one on, the kids were excited about the handle and stand alone feature and I was happy that we finally had a functional case. 

We got to use the new case a week before our return flight to Costa Rica, but hadn't used it to its full potential that is until our flights back home. Our daughter placed the iPad in stand alone position on the plane's tray table while she played on it, she also used it to watch a movie while in flight. When we had arrived at our layover destination she simply grabbed the tablet by it's handle and walked with it in hand. 

Back at home I have been enjoying this new case by multitasking as I was before while I FaceTime with friends and family, reading my recipes while I cook and I've been watching a lot of streamed movies because now I can have it with the handle positioning it horizontal or vertically and while I'm washing dishes I can catch up on my favorite shows. 

If you are looking for a new iPad case we highly suggest you look at all the options (*)Speck has, they have colorful ones, cases and covers; they have over 30 different options at reasonable prices. They also have excellent customer service and are all about having happy customers, as I mentioned before they helped me chose the best iPad for our family needs

Disclosure: We received a HandyShell iPad cover for review purposes, all opinions and pictures shared on this post are my own.