Tuesday, September 12, 2017

To the 9-5 worker from a Small Business Owner

A note to the 9-5 person from the Small Business Owner: 

I used to be just like you. 
Get up day in, and day out, get my kid ready and head to work, Monday through Friday. Sometimes even on Saturdays if I got the overtime! I would enjoy my weekends with family, friends, and had a normal life. 

One day, I decided I wanted to go after a dream like most Small Business Owners. My guess, is that 9 times out of 10, we small business owners aren’t aware of all the small things we will face when we make the decision to work for ourselves.

Let me explain.

You see, I remember being that 9-5’er thinking.....MAN! That Small Business owner has so much fun! They get to go to fun networking events, get to set their own schedule, and pocket all the money they get! Wooooo weeee! 

What I didn’t know was the reality. Those fun networking events are a hope that at some point we MIGHT meet someone that will somehow "know someone" who might think of me or my services in the future. 

And sure, we set our own schedule, and yes we sleep in, but only because at times we are up at 3 am updating our website while everyone sleeps. We set our own schedule because we generally work around everyone else’s schedule, and even when 5pm hits… the work well, it just doesn’t stop there. I can't tell you how many times I have put my daughter to bed and got right back to work. 

I know what you are thinking, but all of that MONEY? You get to keep all that money! This is where the big lie comes in.

The reality is, small business get hit hard with leases for space, business, selling, food, and even water-use permits. We have to pay accountants and taxes sometimes MUCH higher than employment taxes. We have to hire lawyers to review our contracts costing us time and money and when we finally do bill or charge our clients… (Because we also sometimes do our own accounting)… we DON’T GET PAID FOR 30-60 days! 

You see… Larger businesses who employ us don’t care that we still live paycheck to paycheck. They just care about their NET Terms. So even if we issue an invoice we have to BUG them for payment. 

That’s it! Add Bill Collector to my list of duties! HAHA 

Sure it sounds like fun in theory. But a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. We have to hire repair people, have supply and equipment costs, contractor costs, gas and electric costs, transportation costs, and those Negronis during Networking… yeah they hit our bottom line too. 

… AND on top of all of that, we have our Regular life drama. You know… like flat tires. *rolls eyes* 

We do sometimes miss the mundane things like  having a group of people to chat with at the water cooler. “How was your weekend Stephanie? Oh yeah? You are almost due Jess?” Ohhhh the days…

The point here is, I know you all know someone who is on their small business grind. Who posts a lot on your Facebook about their new business, their products or services for sale, whether its homemade Frida cookies, handmade bags and wear ables, or original works of art. These people are grinding. HARD. At 1 am when you are sleeping, at the Farmer’s Market when you are enjoying your BBQ at home, or in the Kitchen when you don’t feel like cooking on Mother's Day. 

Guys... without a brick and mortar, a restaurant, or a store where you can walk-in, there is NO WAY some of us can make a living. It is important to remember that while your work is at an office, 90% of our work comes from the Social Media most people use to repost memes, connect with friends, and yes even support small businesses.

Support your friends, acquaintances who have their own gym, their own catering business, their own jewelry shop, barber shop or salon, those we create works or art, who cook for you, clean for you, and cut your grass. The items or services you buy from them could be the difference between whether their business survives another month, or whether their kids get shoes this semester. Seriously. 

And if you can't support a small business help the ones you trust spread the word by sharing with your friends. You don't know if one of your friends is looking for the perfect earrings for her wedding. 

We LOVE what do we do, we wouldn't be sharing it with you if we didn't.

We love being able to share our talents, passion, and journey with you, and we appreciate all your support. If given the chance I promise you, we would all do it all OVER AGAIN! 

The small business community is a tight knit one that supports each other... I don't know about you, but my personal favorite is seeing small business owners collaborating together. Sharing passions and business to promote one another. 

And If you are one of us... crazy enough to follow your passion and want to join us, you will have a whole new family of support too! 

So share away, buy local or small business and don't forget that the holidays are coming up too! Too soon? LOL 

Oh and small business owner... I see you. Keep hustling baby... because this month, will be better than the last because of that hustle! #CantStopWontStop

Lastly to my fans, followers, and supporters... Thank you for making my dream come true, week after week, month after month, dia tras dia. I feel blessed. 

Signed at 1:45 am... after updating my website ;) 

 ~ A Small Business Owning Single Latina Mama. xo


Monday, July 17, 2017

Mexico City... the Good the Bad and the UGLY (Part 1)

I have been very fortunate to travel these days. My travels post-win have taken me from San Diego to Japan, New York, and all over the republic of Mexico. All of this travel has been the perfect inspiration, motivation, and cultural infusion that a learning Chef like me needs. 

I am back today from 3 weeks of back-to-back travel. I am exhausted, two pounds over weight, and nursing my ego. My last 4 days of travel included a visit to Mexico City. A place so chock full of culture, gastronomy, and history. I was thrilled to be there for my second time as the first time I was there to work and only got to eat and play for one night. This trip with 3 of my closest friends, and only sleep to stop us, was what had us excited for over one month!   But what was planned to be one of the best culinary, cultural, and nightlife girls trip ended up being nothing more than a trip leaving me with a bruised ego, a broken heart, and a questionable concept of a city so many have boasted only good things about. 

Simply put, Mexico City you disappointed me. 


We flew out early Thursday at 6:00am. Our flights out of Tijuana were riddled with bad luck at boarding, delays on the tarmac, but we managed to board the plane and enjoyed Clamato Michelada's on our 3.5 hour flight.  With a bumpy and rough landing that sounded like we may have blown a tire... we were nothing more than excited to be in Mexico City, to finally experience everything EVERYONE always talks about. 

For our first day it was just Kay and I. Kay is a winemaker from the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's wine country. She is a statuesque 6 foot tall, blonde hair, blue eyed model looking woman. This was her first time in Mexico City. She was beaming... and honestly so was I! 

We were nestled in the middle of Roma Norte and walked to Lardo for lunch. We were seated right away, in a table tucked right next to the service station. We asked for the Chef to send us whatever he likes, 4-5 courses approximately, as we were not too hungry and already had dinner plans. The server looked at us like we were asking for ramen in a Mexican restaurant. Kay explained again and the server finally walked away, as we prayed he understood what we were asking (we both speak Spanish). This was one of the top 10 restaurants listed on multiple websites... why was this so confusing? 

The food was just ok. I definitely would not rank it among the top 10 restaurants if my choice was solely based on food and service. Our first course there... tempura green beans... maybe ramen wasn't so far off! LOL 

That night we met with Kay's Mexico distributors. The two gorgeous ladies met us at Casa Virginia, one of their favorite restaurants. The place did not disappoint! The double white linens were luxurious as were the vaulted ceilings, colonial crown molding, and stark white walls. It was a HUGE step up from Lardo. Make sure you have the Portobello Risotto and Foie Gras... TRUST ME. 

During the course of dinner we asked our friends online, and in person where we should go out to have some drinks. I explained that every time I visit a new city, I always try to visit at least one Speakeasy... they recommended:

Gin Gin (Roma Norte)
Condesa DF Rooftop Bar (Roma Norte) 
La Nacional (Condesa) 

We went straight to Gin Gin. When greeted by the host he asked if we had a reservation. We said we did not. He pursed his lips and said a reservation was required. We could see empty tables, but understood and asked if there was space at the Bar. He said fine, asked us to follow him, he walked us through the restaurant as we soaked it all in and then took us to an empty room with a bar. There was a girl that looked not a day over 18 mixing drinks behind the bar. We were the only people in this area. We sat there for about 10 minutes waiting for the bartender to finish making 2 drinks and give us the cocktail menu. Kay ordered something simple a Hendricks and Grapefruit Juice and I ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz. It's a Gin Bar... when in a Gin bar... order Gin! 


The bartender asked a nearby colleague/cashier to google the drink. I asked her outright about 2 minutes later if she knew how to make it otherwise I could just order from the menu. She said she did not, so I asked her what Egg White drinks she had? She recommended one from the menu and I said ok. We sat there for 5 minutes watching her under pour our drinks while trying to hold the jigger in a fancy way. I wish she knew I don't care how nice you hold the jigger so long as I have a stiff drink. The drinks tasted exactly like they were poured. Underwhelming. We paid our tab, tipped 15% and left. 

We arrived at Condesa only 10 minutes later. Walked up to the door to be turned away and told there was a private party and the bar was not open. We asked for recommendations. He turned to us and said, "walk through that park and on the other side, there are bars".... We walked across the park. And guess what... no bars. Just a 7 Eleven and dark unknown roads. Who sends two people across a park without specifying anything specific? Sigh. 

We ordered and Uber and headed to La Nacional Condesa. After our Uber driver drove us around the block a couple of times, we realized either the place had closed, or it was now called something else because it was no where to be found. We returned back to our apartment defeated, and called it a night. 


Ellie and Tonya flew overnight to arrive in Mexico City at 7am... guess what? They were also delayed by 1 hour and arrived closer to 8am. By the time they made it to the aparment it was nearly 10 am and we were all starving for breakfast. 

Concha and Cafe de Olla - Pasillo de Humo
We visited Pasillo de Humo a beautiful restaurant with amazing light, open space, rich woods, and a modern rustic appeal. They greeted us with a complimentary Mexican bread called a Concha. We drank Cafe de Olla (Mexican coffee with cinnamon), and ordered way more than we could eat. It was delicious but the Tlayudas of Huitlacoche, Squash Blossoms, and Crickets were definitely the best! Eat here... you will love it! 

New Mole and 1330 Day Mole - Pujol 
For lunch we had reservations to go to Mexico's most famous restaurant. Pujol. I have been a fan of Enrique Olvera for over 10 years and eating here was a dream come true. Kay brought with her some wines to share with the Sommelier and we enjoyed two Lechuza wines through our meal. It was an ultra modern restaurant, with open floor plans, an expansive window allowing light to stream in and visuals of the restaurant herb and vegetable gardens. Since there were 4 of us and Courses 2, 3, 4, and 6 offered four options, we each had a different plate and then rotated each plate so that we could taste all the dishes. Essentially we tasted 19 different bites from the Pujol tasting menu. We all enjoyed our meal, some courses more than others. But overall we all agreed it was definitely positioned where it was for a reason. It is very modern and pushing the boundaries of Mexican Food. Toward the end of our dinner a man sitting in adjacent table comes over and says to us... "You know, I just want to congratulate you. It is wonderful to see 4 beautiful women dining here." We accepted it but all remain perplexed until we noticed the place was full of only men or couples. We were the only single women at a table. 

Chicken Live Mousse- Maximo Bistrot
Dinner for the night was at Maximo Bistrot. Chef Eduardo (Lalo) came out to greet us on arrival and I was start struck to meet him. We were still stuffed from the 19 courses ealier so we ordered light... but the Chef still sent out some delicious extra bites. I wish I could tell you what our favorites were... but for me... This was the BEST dining experience of the whole weekend. Every single thing was cooked to perfection. Actually I take it back... the Erizo Risotto was beyond luxurious! OH and Ellie and Tonya tasted the Chicken Liver Mousse for the first time and loved it... so that tells you VOLUMES! Eat here and don't you DARE miss your reservation! Sooooo Good! 

Kay had made reservations at POE Speakeasy, so we rushed out of dinner and headed there early. 
Now, as someone who has been to MANY speakeasies all over the world. I know one thing. You make a reservation and/or get a password WELL before you will arrive. That night POE had a special DJ and it was going to be a great night. So Kay and I made the reservation via Facebook Messenger with the Bar directly. They confirmed. 

When we arrived at the door the door man was on a walkie ear piece and kept talking to, or pretending to, talk to someone. He said he didn't have the reservation and would check again. Asking Kay for her name three different times. Meanwhile allowing other groups of people through without checking for their reservations. One man, even showing up in cargo shorts and running shoes. They were all let in before us. At one point Ellie caught the man taking pictures of us off to the side. Then saying he was calling the Manager. He later came to Kay and explained he would not be allowed to let us in. Kay showed him the proof of the messages and confirmation and the man continued to refuse. I got involved and asked what the problem was. The man looked me up and down and shook his head. After waiting for him again to call his Manager, the man returned and said there was nothing he could do for us. Night Two is already starting off in the wrong way. 

Gin Gin was right next door but having had the experience we had just had the night before we couldn't even bother. 

We drove to Condesa DF to see if tonight they ALSO had a private party. Round 2 at Condesa was not the same. They showed us to the elevator and we headed up. However, we were seated between two couples so busy making out, they never noticed anything. The place was desolate and empty. We sat there for 20 minutes waiting for our drinks to be made listening to some eclectic electronic slow music. We couldn't stop laughing at how our night was already turning out to be such a mess AGAIN. There were over 7 servers standing by the bar just joking and laughing. We received our drinks except Ellie, because the margarita type glass was overflowing. The server took it back and took about 12 straws of her drink out before returning with 3/4 of her drink in the glass. Mine was a raspberry sake drink that tasted like raspberry Kool-Aid. The smart one, was Tonya, she ordered beer. We asked for our bill as we felt like we were intruding on the dates happening on both sides of our seats and well honestly the drinks were NOT good. 

Our next stop was Cafe Paraiso. We stopped there because a friend owns the place. I couldn't reach him as it was already late on a Friday night, but I remembered the curly haired hostess with the mostest. The line was long but people kept coming up to the guards and getting right in. Regulars maybe. I saw the hostess and walked up to her and explained who I was and asked if we might be able to get bottle service. She said she didn't remember me and said they were filled to capacity and she would not be able to help me. I asked if we should stand in line. She didn't answer me and walked away as if she didn't hear me. I called out to her and then realized it wasn't worth begging. We got an uber and headed to our next destination. 

We arrived to Jules Bassment around midnight. Ellie had been there before and she said she was let right in. This time, the doorman said you could not get in without a reservation and turned us away. We were in the middle of Polanquito with no where to go. At this time, Tonya gave up, she got an uber and headed back to the Apartment. The night was a fail and we all knew it. 

But I didn't want to give up. We walked around trying to find ANY bar at this point. There were none. We ended up at the restaurant across from Jules and as we were speaking with the Host, we saw a wall with flashing lights behind it. We asked where that was and he explained the entrance was through the alley way! We got excited. We followed a girl heading that way and entered SCOTCH

Scotch is an all-white walled speakeasy that isn't really a speakeasy. It is more of a stuffy, smoked out, snobby party. People and servers are constantly bumping each other out of the way as loud music is bumping and no one is dancing. The drinks are expensive and hard to get to since their are seats at the bar. 

Now this is where the night turned into one of the worst nights of my life. As I was standing just behind the first seat at the bar behind a man with his leg propped over the next two bar stools, I looked down and saw that my face was looking back at me. The 20-something year old had taken a selfie with me behind him. He was typing in What's App messenger to his friend telling him how Large and Fat I was. His friend was responding "Be careful her double chins may swallow you up" Also instructing him to stand his ground "She may eat you to get these chairs." It took every ounce of me to not hit him. I was furious. I tapped his shoulder and told him that he should be a little smarter not to talk about the person standing right behind him when they can see what he is writing. Being confronted he negated the messages and said he wasn't talking about me. At this point I got even more furious and asked him if he thought I was as Stupid as I was Fat? I told him I saw the picture he took and told him that he should really not judge people he doesn't know.... He extended his arm shook my hand and said Hi, I am David. The two guys sitting at the bar had girlfriends who returned to the stools. David went on to whisper into his girlfriends ears what happened as she turned and laughed at me. 

We got our drinks and walked out to the restaurant out front. After we finished our drinks, we headed back to our apartment and went through all the drama of the night. 

I began crying. I couldn't hold it back anymore. The truth is, words do hurt. They ridiculed me, laughed at me, joked, and even took pictures of me for their own enjoyment.  

I am grateful that Ellie and Kay were there to listen that night because I have never felt so discriminated, judged, and humiliated for being plus size or a woman. We discussed all the Uber Drivers who down rated me every single ride making me lose 5 points while there, the countless rude comments by service workers, all the people who rolled their eyes when they saw 4 women walk up to a restaurant/bar with no man. We discussed all the women who made comments loud enough for me to hear about how fat me and my friends were, or the countless number of men who would look the other way when I was asking for help or even better, the Volaris Captain who when Kay and I asked "Do you know where the restrooms are" answered only... "Yes I do."  

I posted a short status to FB that night. Upset and vulnerable. There was an overwhelming outpour of support and love from my community. It made me more confused. How could there be so much love in this world and also people who feel it is ok to say such vile things about another human being, taking pictures of someone to joke and mock someone who is a mother, a daughter, and fellow Mexican? It has me questioning what is happening with our culture and society? 

Mexico as a whole should not be defined by the ugly pompous and sexist behavior of the few in Mexico City! 

Mexico City, I really hope you understood that you need to be kinder to your tourists. If you have a group of 4 strong, powerful, and independent women exploring your town, it should not matter how much they weight, or what they look like, or are who they are accompanied by.  

That night we decided we would forego all nightlife from now and and focus on only tourist things like visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, Xochimilco, and the Zocalo. 

Ellie and Tania decided to fly home a day early since they were so over it. 

Kay and I, we wouldn't allow the ugly people to ruin our trip. We would rewrite our Mexico City experience and that we did.... 

(To be continued... )

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Claudia Sandoval Day! Oh it's a thing!

Among the most incredible things that have come from my success on MasterChef and my philanthropic work in my community, the accolades that bring me the most joy are the ones where I am being recognized by the communities that I live in and am actively working to better. 

Some of these include, California State Senate Women of the Year 2016, a Commendation from the City of La Mesa, which I lived in when I was on the show, and the most fun of all, December 15th being declared Claudia Sandoval Day! 

Yep you read that right... there is such a thing as Claudia Sandoval Day! Because on December 15, 2015, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors proclaimed this: 

"Be it proclaimed on this 15th day of December 2015 is hereby declared to be "Claudia Sandoval Day" throughout the County Of San Diego."

Many of you have asked how I will celebrate. The truth is, with a couple of signature Claudia things! So I made a list in hopes that you will join me! 

  1. MEDITATE: Wake Up and Meditate for 15-30 minutes. Don't check your phone before. Just wake up, open your eyes, close them again, focus on your breathing, relax yourself, and allow your body to relax and allow any thoughts to go right through you. Don't start making a list of what you will do in the day. Just try to relax and meditate. 
  2. DELICIOUS START: Have a delicious breakfast of choice. If you ask me I will likely have Chilaquiles, eggs over medium and some refried beans. Don't forget the cotija cheese! 
  3. HUMILITY: Identify three things in your life that you are grateful for. If they include people, you should call them and tell them. 
  4. SUSTENANCE with ROCKS: Who are the FEW people you call when you need an ear, who always have your back, don't judge you, and who always answer your phone call. Invite those people out to lunch! Thank them for their time and support. You wouldn't be you without them! 
    1. Now if I can provide some encouragement. I suggest going to a local taqueria and asking for an Adobada Mulita! Two delicious corn tortillas with melted cheese, adobada meat, avocado, onions and cilantro... You can thank me later. Otherwise, tacos always do the job! HAHA!
  5. CONSCIOUSNESS: Think of 2 things you have done well lately. Give yourself props for it. Now Identify 2 things you could do to take your day-to-day life to the next level. It can be reading, writing, drinking more water, walking, attitude, meditation, smiling more, whatever.
  6. RECORD YOUR LIFE: Get outside, to the mountains, the forest, the beach, a ranch, your garden... anywhere! Get out there and take pictures of your surrounding area. Take pictures of your kids running in the sun. Take a couple selfies until you get just the right one. Or simply, take a picture of yourself consciously enjoying the outdoors. Sometimes we record our lives by posting pics of our coffee or our lunch on Social. This time. Record it for YOU! Take real life memory snapchats of how amazing you are today. How much smarter you are than the day before, and how far you have come! You rock! Record it!  
  7. NIGHT CAP: Enjoy your favorite drink or vice of choice. In my case: Nikka Coffee Grain Whisky on the rocks. If you love Chocolate Milk, drink Chocolate Milk! Whatever your favorite drink is! Enjoy it. Now, find a good fun way to laugh, watch a video, dance silly with your kids, make funny faces in the mirror or play a game with friends, whatever you do, it must be FUN! Go on be a kid! 
I know some of these seems silly. But these are all inspired by friends in my life who have taught me how to be conscious, be silly, meditate, have fun, and enjoy a night cap! Hope you enjoy Claudia Sandoval Day as much as I do! 

Cheers~ SLM

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Hardest Thanksgiving

Growing up, some of my Mexican friends would tell me about how they didn't celebrate Thanksgiving because it wasn't a Mexican holiday.

My mom grew up in the states being naturalized in her pre-teens and attending schools in National City, California where my aunts and family settled. For us, Thanksgiving was part of our traditions. A part of our assimilated ways. Some very American turkey was always at our table, but my Mom's very Mexican stuffing also make it to the table as well. I still can't forget my Tia Gloria's salsa and my Tio Cuate's famous Ham. I swear that ham's glaze was to die for!

Over the years, things have changed, the dynamic of the family has changed, and some people have come and gone. People have moved away, but what always stands when my Mom and me come to the table in prayer, we always prayed for all those near or far, close or forever gone. Always wishing them a blessed Holiday no matter where they are.

This year, on paper I had two huge opportunities come up that would mean I would not be here for Thanksgiving. I specifically say on paper because as per usual... things always look good on paper.

When I mentioned these opportunities my awesome Mother turned to me and said, "These are amazing opportunities you can't turn them down! Go! Do it! You don't know if you will have this opportunity again." She is right...as per usual.

It is the day before Thanksgiving at 4pm and in less than 24 hours I will be traveling to Mexico City for the IV Foro Mundial de la Gastronomia Mexicana... that pretty much translates to the Fourth WorldWide Forum on Mexican Gastronomy. It is the who's who of Mexican Cooking and products, and I am excited to be there. This will be my first visit to Mexico City and being thrilled is an understatement.

What I didn't mention before is that Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE Holiday. I prefer it over Christmas.


For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share with everyone you love, your close friends, your family, your acquaintances, with God and even yourself, how Thankful you are for everything you have been given this year. Some years, are harder than others, but every Thanksgiving, we are reminded to be grateful and take note of each blessing we have been given throughout the year.

This is by far the Hardest Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for. I have had one of the best years of my life. This last year has afforded me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams! I have met incredible people from all walks of life, in all kinds of businesses, and from all over the world. I have traveled, shown my daughter places I have only dreamed of, and visited paradises I only wished to see in pictures. I have paid off my debt, both school and personal, I have established a home, furnished, it, and somehow, still have my bedrock of die hard friends and family who never leave my side, keep me grounded, fight with me, cry with me, work with me, and continue to push me to say... you can fucken move mountains if you set your mind to it.

I am working so hard to continue to achieve long term success, to prove to my munchkin that nothing that is valuable will ever be given to you, you must bust your ass and work HARD for it.

On this Hardest Thanksgiving while I am flying to Mexico City, I want you to to remember all of the people who have to work on this day. Who have to spend time away from their families. Who want to be there but can't. Who wish they could hug their family member because they are serving over seas, or are stationed far from home. Who wear a badge or scrubs and have to work 12 hour days to make sure sick people get treated, our streets are safe, and any turkey fires get put out. I want you to hug your families tighter and remember that we are all SO blessed to have each other. To be alive.

May god bless you and your families on this Hardest Thanksgiving no matter where you are in the world.

Provecho Familia~ SLM

Monday, June 6, 2016

Updating the Bucket List!

Woah has this been quite a year!

2016 is well underway and I realized today when Mr. Brewer mentioned that he wasn't feeling creative, that I myself, had stepped away from some of my more creative endeavors. 

Things, like this very blog have just been low-lying on the totem pole. What with interviews, appearances, events, dinner services, being a daughter, owning a business (WOOHOO), missing my family, and trying above nothing more to treasure every moment with Munchkin. 

The journey has been longer, more arduous, and less glamorous than most would think, but I am thankful for everything that I have been given. Even the not so glamorous. 

One thing I got to thinking about was figuring out what things on my bucket list I had crossed off. Over the last couple of months, if not the last year, I know there have to be a couple, and I wanted to do an update so here we go~! 

*Find joy in life again *************DONE

* Learn how to swim (So afraid of the water!)

* Swim with Dolphins

* Take a cruise *************(Planned for November 2016)

* Learn how to scuba dive (Doing this on the Cruise)

* Visit a white sand beach *************DONE -Okinawa, Japan

* Fly on an airplane (so afraid of heights) *************DONE

* Stay at a job for more than 5 years *************DONE

* See Mariah Carey in concert again

* Get married at a church (since I never did)

* Write a book (or finish one for that matter) *************DONE! Published 5/10/16

* Visit Greece! (Ahhhh to walk where Socrates once roamed!)

* Visit the Vatican and Coliseum in Rome

* Visit France (ahh...To visit the land of love…)

* Visit Italy (eat the food, and gelato… mmmmh)

* Earn more than $70,000 per year *************DONE

* Own my own business (Preferably a Restaurant) *************DONE

* Have GREAT credit

* Ice Skate

* Have another child (as I always intended it)

* Go camping again

* Visit the Grand Canyon

* Visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York

* Run a full marathon (26 miles)

* Buy myself a Louis Vuitton Bag

* Have a Mercedes (a NEW one)

* Have one full week of worry free vacation *************DONE

* Have lobster in Puerto Nuevo again (mmmm) *************DONE

What about you? What would be on your Bucket List? Have one?

If you dont, Make one! Its a great way to track your progress and make sure you are taking EVERYTHING you want from your life and creating the experiences you want from it! ;)

-Cheers~ SLM

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Adventures in Fair Food

By now we all know I am a foodie at heart. There really is nothing out there I won't try at least once. 

Whether its Uni (Sea Urchin) or Escaramoles (Ant Eggs), the sky is the limit and nothing culinary scares me.

So when my friend Wendy brought me along as her plus one to the San Diego County Fair Media Party... I was ready to take on even the most adventurous of fair food.  

Fair goers have been introduced to things like fried frog legs, and chocolate covered bacon year after year. However, rumors were circling about a special pickle that is an absolute must have.  Also getting buzz around town, were the likeness of deep fried starbucks, sriracha dogs, and shark tacos. I couldn't wait. 

So here is what my perspective is of these... interesting bites. 

Shark Tacos

We all know I loveeeee me some fish tacos! After all, I live and breathe Mexican food... 
But these tacos had soooo much breading on them, I literally couldn't tell what type of fish I was eating. I kept thinking to myself, are you sure you gave me a SHARK Taco? I decided to move on, and explored the next thing that sounded good... 

Parmesan Garlic Fries

C'mon can you ever go wrong with parmesan and garlic? I thought no, I was wrong. The "fries," were more like chips. Warm, but fried to a dehydrated crisp. They had been robbed of all their potato flavor and it took away from what should have been a delicious garlic parmesan sprinkle. Sad day. Sad potato day indeed. 

Deep Fried Starbucks

Ok. Ok. I will admit.. I am quite the Starbucks afficionado..BUT... these little balls of delight really delivered. They were dusted with cinnamon and sugar and then topped with whipped cream and served in, you guessed it, a Starbucks cup. 

These little balls of heaven resembled Starbucks so much, I wanted to just keep eating. Hands down... they are delicious. They are not what you expect, because I mean... what can you expect deep fried Starbucks to look like? But they managed to merge two of my favorite things. Churros and Starbucks... So I am a fan.

At the same location I also picked up something that jumped out at me right away...

Chocolate Covered Chicharron (Pork Rind)

Yup... you read that right. 
Skeptics, I am here to tell you... you will eat your words.
This chocolate covered crisp was so well balanced and so unorthodox that it quickly became my favorite of the night. 

No, I am not kidding. 

I don't even like chocolate! Yet, I was seriously thrilled that this made the menu. The salty crispiness of the chicharron reminded me of a rice chocolate bar but with a bigger depth of flavor. Trust me on this, you should at least try it! 

Sriracha Corn Dog

We all know Sriracha is as common now as Chipotle was in the 90's... so why not have a Sriracha dog right? I was curious to see how this would be executed and so, I ordered one up with zero apprehension, after all, I love me some spicy food. 

Firstly... the look of it is not that appealing. You are essentially getting a corn dog with Sriracha drizzled on top... Is this really it? Wendy and I kept asking ourselves. While this dog proved that you really can put Sriracha on ANYTHING... the surprise came as I was about 3 bites in and realized that the dog inside, was not just a regular dog but a hot link! ALERT! Someone Hurry! Get me a Margarita! 

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

This is one of those things that can either go really wrong, or really well. Corn when done right can really deliver in the flavor department and can truly be both sweet or savory. 

Although, I wish I could rally behind this idea, seeing as it is imported from Jalisco, Mexico, and the fact that corn is such a huge staple of my cooking and heritage... this ice cream really didn't represent corn the way it should. There was so much cream and sugar, that the actual corn taste was lacking. In fact, it was nearly unrecognizable. 

While this is a great idea, the flavor balance was off for me... but hey, try it, maybe your serving will be better than mine. 

The Pig Trough

I know, I know... it sounds gross.. but trust me.. I was convinced first bite in! Seriously! Crispy Pork Chicharron topped with delicious BBQ Pulled Pork and finished off with Cole Slaw! Man that is good. 

While truthfully, it begs for a bit more presentation the almost nacho like idea of the chicharron made my down-home Mexican self very happy! 

Peanut Butter Deep Fried Pickle

During the process of waiting in an extensive line for the most talked about item this fair season... I saw my great friend, and Discover SD writer, Leslie Hackett. She had just purchased her pickle and was preparing to take her first bite. I was scared. Scared for her. Scared for her taste buds. 

Her first bite was met with a gushing mixture of salty pickle juice and melted peanut butter. Her face was indescribable and before she could be asked any questions by the group around her, she bravely took a second bite noting that she didn't get enough peanut butter in that first bite. 

And there it was... the face of utter dissatisfaction. 

It wasn't what she expected and quickly offered me a bite. For the sake of this blog and my curios palette, I decided to just take a bite. I mean, its a pickle and peanut butter, two flavors I know and love...and YUCK. 

Exactly what you are imagining, is EXACTLY what it tastes like. Two flavors that should NEVER be mixed. Pickle juice, melted peanut butter, crispy batter, what is happening in my mouth right now? Ugh. 

So there you have it... I am sure there are other things I didn't capture, but fortunately the San Diego County Fair will be opening this coming Friday, June 5th and will remain open until the 4th of July. Go to SDFair.com for details or discount tickets, and special events... oh and don't forget the free concerts! 

Have a wonderful rest of your week and please, get out there and start an adventure! 

~Cheers - SLM

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cynicism and Hope

There are times, where I wonder to myself if I can ever become cynical about dating, and love.  I have friends who deem me “stupid” or “naïve” because I still believe in true love. You know, that ideal that you grow up with as a young girl? That hope, that someday, some man, with his charming smile, humor, and deep rich eyes, will make the butterflies swirl in your insides, and your feet light and flirty?
You know exactly what I’m talking about, that “AHHHHHHHHHHH he is sooooo Amazing” feeling!?
Well call me dumb, naïve, or even crazy and unrealistic, but this Single Latina Mama, believe it or not, still has hope.  

Perhaps it’s the fact that not enough time or dates have come and gone that I’m so bitter that the cynicism has set in.
Regardless of what you feel love should be or is, for me, Love is simply just that, Love.
I sometimes like to believe that if everyone thought the way I did, always choosing to see the beauty in people instead of what is wrong and flawed, our world would be a MUCH better place.
I know I’m getting sappy on you! If you need a shot of 5 hour Energy, I totally understand!!  
What I’m trying to say is, well gosh darn it, having hope doesn’t mean I’m dumb! It just means I believe when you have chosen to lose hope.  
Why be so damn cynical anyway?
Don’t you think that if you might have given somebody just a little more credit, or just a little more love they might have perhaps responded differently?
I mean just think about it, what if someone had been more loving to you? Or rather, what if they had given YOU more credit or appreciation? Would you have responded differently?
Cynicism isn’t about them, and their issues, its about you, and your perception of them.
I am rough around the edges, we all are, there is no mistaking that, but through the rough patches in life we face, like any coarse wood being sanded down against its own grain, we are slowly smoothing ourselves out!
–Cheers! ~SLM