Sasha – love and light

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Pink October. This international health campaign’s main goal is to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. In the US, the campaign started in 1985 with the objective of promoting mammography. Through the month people around the world wear pink ribbons to honor survivors, to remember those to the disease, and to support the progress being made to defeat breast cancer.

I met Sasha a little over a year ago. Since day one we just clicked! As the months passed by, I got to know more and more of this beautiful soul, and I’m so grateful to call her my friend.

Sasha was diagnosed in 2015 at age 26 with stage 3 breast cancer. She went through 6 rounds of chemo, a lumpectomy and 38 sessions of radiation. Through the support of her family and friends she overcame one of the most traumatic experiences of her life. Sasha shared her cancer journey through social media outlets and became the hope and inspiration for other women who needed guidance and a sense of positivity. Cancer has changed her perspective on life, spreads love and light through her infectious smile and charming personality. She is currently 5 years cancer free!

Sasha, thank you for sharing your story … xoxo Elisa

The Legend behind Wonder Soil

This article is dedicated to my wonderful dear friend Patti. May she rest in a wonderful and colorful afterlife.

If you’re in the plant trend since the Pandemic, you may want to listen closely. For me, this product has been my go to outdoor plant mix of all time. And do you know what the best thing is? Is that my girl developed this product and my plants love it! As she was developing product through the years and talking about it, I was able to see all the different tests and sample she was conducting – with my own eyes! She would share countless amount of product with me to test for myself.

We lived near each other for a few years, though she moved to Las Vegas permanently to push her factory and production. Again, I was lucky to see this factory in motion when I would visit her. All her time and love went into her product. She would share statistics on how golf courses in Vegas would reduce the water usage to keeping their greens in immaculate condition. To the normal person, not me anyways, I didn’t think of how the golf courses stay green in the desert? But, she’s right… cost a lot of damn money and time to keep them luscious with a lot of hard work in that unforgiving sun and heat. Her products make it easier in care and water usage – this in turn would save money in labor and water.

I had always used the wafers, (and of course my favorite part is adding the water – see video below) and the Sprout House but I had no idea that her products had multiplied over the years! If you’re the kind of person that forgets to water your outdoor plants; the wafer will save you (ok, save your plants). Did you know that in comparison to your better names soils from Home Depot you need to water them more than twice as much as if you would use Wonder Soil? I tested this with my own plants, with a written diary and all. Of course some plants are thirstier than others but I can guarantee you that if you go away for the week on that long deserved vacation, this fabulous mix will keep your beauties alive!

So what is this Wonder Soil? (from their website) WONDER SOIL® has forged ahead to become the front runner in COIR INNOVATION with numerous patents issued. WONDER SOIL® IS committed to reduce the international environmental carbon footprint by producing state-of-the-art expanding planting mixes that are PEAT FREE AND save up to 50% water, space, freight, power, and labor. WONDER SOIL’S® patented mixes are 100% biodegradable and promote faster germination with stronger root systems, better growth, and healthier plants.

I will always love her with all my heart and have been very lucky to have had her as my friend. Wonder Soil continues to be a family owned company. Order your wafers here!

Much love, A

Start your engines!

Since I was little I loved watching Formula 1 with my twin sister. I don’t remember how or why we started watching all the weekend races. But, I know we wouldn’t miss one. At that time my favorite was Senna, today I love Hamilton. So, when I found out that Red Bull Racing was going to bring their Pit Stop Challenge, along with a real racing car, to my job, I got super excited! 
Miami will host it’s first Formula 1 race in 2022. The Miami Grand Prix will take place in the Miami International Autodrome with a 10-year contract. It’s great to see that Miami is growing in their world-class events. We already have the Miami Open for tennis, another one of my favorite sports. Hopefully there will be many more of these cool events coming in the future. 
Did you know Red Bull Racing pit stop crew holds the world record of 1.82 seconds? Wow! 
Challenge yourself and your friends for the fastest time. Perhaps even winning from the records holders 😉

The Red Bull Pit Stop Challenge is taking place today at The Doral Yard. And it wouldn’t be a proper event without a cocktail. The special cocktail of the day is the Yard Prix, made with Simple Vodka, Red Bull Yellow Edition, San Pellegrino Aranciata. Join me in the fun!

xoxo Elisa

White Hot Fire Place

Another renovation update. This one is a quickie. In the Georgia house we have a 2 sided fire place. I can’t wait for cooler weather to start a fire in this baby! The fire place faces the dining room and part of the entry, where I have my favorite seating area.

See the bird pee?

This fire place in close inspection looked like pigeons pee’d down two sides of the brick wall. You know, the kind you see on the outside of an old building or a train station. As much as I love the brown brick, it looked clunky in the room, not to mention dirty. I took to scrubbing with a bathroom scrubbing brush with Borax and dishwashing liquid – a concoction I saw on Pinterest. I was excited because it was starting to look less like a bird urinal and looking like it had a make over. Then, the damp brick dried and my scrubbing did little to nothing. It re-exposed the unsightly drip. This sealed the deal for me to white-wash the brick. Since I scrubbed the brick clean already, I was already to get to the fun part of painting.

I went with the white wash brand Romabio in Avario White, I ordered a gallon of this online at Home Depot for about $53, a masonry brush $14 and a sponge $4. I watched 2 Youtube videos and felt I was ready for war. (Here’s one…. here’s two)

You have to dilute the paint (it has the consistence of cream cheese – smooth but thick). I filled the manufacturer’s instruction and calculated what I needed. I started with half the gallon and added the appropriate water. Stirring for about 5-10 mins. If you’re familiar with baking you know to add a little water at a time to avoid clumps. I know this rule but I just dumped and stirred. I shoulda listened to what I know. It took me twice as long to stir it smooth. And by the way, it was deceiving, I had to make half a batch more in the end.

THINGS YOU GOTTA DO BEFORE STARING TO PAINT: Frog tape the border between the brick and your floor. Protect your floor with a tarp or sheet. Wear clothes that you don’t love.

Let’s be real here. I watched a guy on Youtube and he seemed to be doing this with no sweat and no mess. HE LIED TO ME. I walked away looking like that pigeon who pee’d on the wall – shat all over me. Like big fat droppings everywhere, on me and on my tarp. Unlike regular paint, white wash is relatively easy to clean up luckily. And the masonry brush? Toss that, I ended up using a regular wall paint brush to get in all the mortar lines.

As I began this procedure I was unsure, thinking what have I done? I’m not sure I like this? It took me about 4 hours to paint the whole thing and in this time I could see the first side I painted was turning more opaque in front of my very eyes. Ohhhh, she’s starting to look a little sexy! I let her be, I packed up and had some tequila for my efforts.

The beauty of this white wash is that you have 48 hours to decide if you like it or not. You could sponge of some of the pigment off to show more brick. You could add another layer, it’s so flexible. We decided just to do the one layer.

Then…..the cast iron fire place guard. I spray painted that baby with a high heat matte black paint from Krylon. After a few coats, I decided I’m going to paint the decorative shield in Satin for a little detail, they don’t make hammered paint in high heat apparently.

I did this project so quickly I was able to fit in wallpaper stripping in the kitchen! Ready to prime for the next trip….#winning

Introducing: Alan from The Wood Shop Miami

Hot Guy Corner

∙ First, I would like to thank you Alessa for considering me for your blog. It truly is an  honor. I am very grateful and very flattered.  

1. Tell us a little about yourself:   

Hello my name is Alan Jason Richards Jr. I am 42 years old. I was born in  Ashford, England. I come from diverse parents. My father is British and my mom is  Salvadorian. I have been living in Miami since 1986. I married my high-school  sweetheart, Jackie in 1997. We met in 1995 (a long fucking time, right?). Anyway,  we have three amazing children, Alizee (24), Savannah (19) and Vincent (13). 

 2. Three words to best describe yourself: 

I always find these tricky, because is hard to speak of myself personally. I am always  attempting to be better or be the best version of myself; however, at this particular moment in time, I find myself truthfully being, dedicated, motivated and creative.  

 3. Tell us about your business: 

 My business is called “The Woodshop Miami”. We pride ourselves in custom   woodwork. We create custom woodwork fabrication entirely from scratch. We create one of a kind pieces for our clients. The work that we perform ranges from: 

* Custom Kitchens

* Custom Closets 

* Custom Vanities

 * Furniture Fabrication

 I can truly say we do wood working at any and all levels. I also design, also finish and installation. The business as an entity strives to always go above our client’s   expectations, while providing a seamless experience. 

 4. What is your ideal project? 

 I would have to say that my ideal project, would have to be (coming from a person that has to wear many hats and is in the trenches of every aspect of this business)  having the client say “wow”. That is what I consider the ideal job.  

 5. What has been your biggest accomplishment? 

 On a personal level, my biggest accomplishment is the amazing family I have  created alongside my wife. On a business level, my biggest accomplishment/s have come when I have had to complete successfully a difficult/challenging project. That challenging feeling takes me to the next level, which keeps me focus, on task and determined. I really enjoy that. Of course, once the work is completed  successfully.

 6. What has been your favorite project so far? 

 It’s really hard to say what has been my favorite project so far. I have done so many. What I do enjoy and can be consider my “favorite” is when client’s allow me to use my creativity and give me free range to create. However, if I had  to pick one project that I have liked the most “favorite”, I would say the Ferrari kitchen (video below). It was a fun experience using different/new mediums.  

 7. What has been your biggest hurdle? 

 My biggest hurdle has been trying to balance my business life with my family life. It seems tremendously difficult at times. The woodshop takes a lot of focus and   dedication in order to remain successful. My family also falls under the same, but I try to do the best I can.  

 8. When and how did you get into this field? 

 At the age of 16 I got a summer job with a construction company. I started from the   bottom as a laborer, then worked myself to a carpenter apprentice, trim carpenter, lead carpenter, job site supervisor, then project manager. I learned how to build cabinets and I was hooked with creating something out of nothing. I decided to quit the job I had at the time and decided that with my skills, I could be my own boss and venture into starting my own company.  

 9. For someone who wants to start a business in this industry – what is your best   advice? 

 The best advise that I could give anyone, who wants to start in this kind of business is to ensure that they have a solid background in carpentry. Be versatile, focused and take pride in what you produce. In this business, I have come to learn/understand that the secret to success is in the details. 

 10. Where can people find you? Alan Richards (Owner of The Woodshop Miami)

 Instagram: @Thewoodshopmiami

Call me donor, Milk Donor

Breast milk is not called liquid gold for nothing. Did you know formula was not the only option you had for your little one if breast feeding does not work out?! Two months into my breastfeeding journey I noticed that I identified myself as being an overproducer. This means I was producing more milk per eating session than my baby needed…..Three times more! I quickly began filling my freezer and began running out of space. I had no idea what to do but knew this precious liquid. gold had so many benefits. Every ounce counted! One night I had a friend tell me about breast milk donation. I have never heard of this before, but there it was! That was my answer – becoming a breast milk donor. Milk donations can be classified into two groups: formal and informal.

There are certain rules one has to follow as a milk donor. All donors must adhere to the strict guidelines of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, also known as HMBANA. Milk frozen cannot be older than 6 months kept in a regular freezer or greater than 12 months in a deep freezer. When pumping milk must be pumped into clean and sanitized pump parts and stored immediately. New donors were always screened and asked questions to ensure the milk being donated was in the best condition.

Breast milk donation has become much more popular over the years as social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram have many support groups. Many mothers will either post a story looking for a donor mama, or post a story looking for a baby to donate milk to! This is known as informal donation. There are no required medical exams unless the mother chooses to offer or ask for it. Mothers usually will disclose life style, dietary restrictions etc in order to narrow down families in need. Informal donation was the route I ended up going with, I put out a post and within minutes I had THIRTY moms asking for donor milk. WOW what a feeling! I sat there and read each and every message and then decided on which family, and make consistent donations. I began my journey three months postpartum to a little 8 month old baby girly. We would meet weekly and usually provide 2-3 gallon sized ziplock bags worth of milk separated in increments of 6oz. I was able to get her to her year mark. I was almost sure that 7 months into my journey I would somehow slow down in the production I had. Boy was I wrong!

After we got the baby girl. whom for privacy reasons I will refer her to her as Baby A, to her year mark, my freezer began quickly filling up again. I wanted to find another mommy I could help, and this time I was able to actually help someone I now consider a friend! Baby J was only 3 weeks when she began relying on my milk donations and she is currently 3 months and still thriving.

Whether you are a mom in need of milk, or one who simply over produces it, I’ve come to learn that the breast feeding community is one badass group of individuals!

Out and About – Bunbury Miami

Bunbury is one of my favorite places in Miami. I’ve met Paula Costa, the owner, in 2008 when we worked together at Novecento, she was the Beverage Director. She then ventured out to open her own place. She decided to become a sommelier when she was 18 years old. Her massive experience in the wine world and her passion and commitment for her craft it’s definitely what makes Bunbury so special (and successful!).

My love for this Argentine wine bar started back in 2014, when it first opened in a sketchy neighborhood in Edgewater. I think the space was a former sort-of mechanic shop. The patio was lovely but humid and since the ‘garage door’ was always open it was hot inside as well. But no one cared, it was always packed. Full of great energy, amazing wine selection, and delicious homemade empanadas.

In 2019, Bunbury moved to a much bigger (and air conditioned) space at Square Station in the Arts & Entertainment District. At the new space the wine bar became a restaurant with a full bar and even a coffee shop called Fonda Cafe by Bunbury. The space is massive compared to what it used to be, but it still maintains it’s cozy charm. And the bigger space means a bigger wine selection, there are more than 100 hand-selected wines! Make sure to look at ‘Paula’s list’ on the wine menu. One of my favorite is the Achaval Ferrer ‘Quimera”. And let’s not forget the delicious food. My go-to’s are of course the empanadas, the brie crocante with the most amazing fig vinaigrette, burrata with prosciutto, charcuterrie board, and the tablita Malbec.

Make sure to visit this lovely place. 100% recommended! 🙂

xoxo Elisa

Happy World Plant Milk Day!

I wasn’t looking into taking dairy milk out of my diet, but a couple of years ago Alessa convinced me into joining her on the Whole 30 diet. I wanted to loose a few pounds so I said “why not!’. One of the ingredients I had to take out of my daily intake was dairy. This is when I started looking into milk alternatives. Plant-based milk is lactose free making it great for those who are lactose intolerant. It’s also low fat, low cholesterol, and easy on the digestive track.

World Plant Milk Day is celebrated today, August 22nd. Plan-based milk provides key nutrients and minerals, and it’s a great alternative to dairy milk. World Plant Milk Day was created in 2017 by the co-founder of Plant Based News, Robbie Lockie. The day became a collaborative effort between PBN and ProVeg in 2018, with the campaign encouraging millions of people around the world to make the switch from dairy milk to plant-based alternatives. Some of the reasons people decide to switch to milk alternatives are due to milk allergies, lactose intolerance, vegan lifestyle, any inflammatory disease, and ethical concerns.

Compared to 1 cup of whole fat, cow milk:
  • Oat milk has almost as many calories as cow milk (130 vs. 148). Almond, rice, coconut, hemp, and cashew milk are lower in calories.
  • Most have 25-63% of the fat of cow milk, with the exception of Hemp (8 g)
  • All are lower in sugar (<3 g) except for Oat and Hazelnut (17 g and 13 g vs. 12 g)
  • All are lower in protein except Soybean, Pea, and Flaxseed (9 g, 8g, and 8 g. vs. 8 g)
  • All have comparable sodium except coconut, which is much lower (15 mg vs. 105 mg)
  • Pea protein milk has more potassium than cow milk (450 vs. 322 mg); soy is comparable (390 mg)
  • Almond, pea, and flaxseed milk have more calcium than cow milk (560, 560, 450 mg vs. 425 mg)

Years ago I tried soy milk and I didn’t like it at all, so that really put me off from trying other milk alternatives. Since I had to let go of dairy for a whole month, then I started looking into the alternatives again. I can’t live without my cafe con leche in the morning, and my cortadito in the afternoon! The first plant-based milk I tried was almond milk (the most popular one). I wasn’t really a fan of it. Even though I love almonds, the taste of almond in the milk was too overwhelming for me. Then coconut milk, again I love everything coconut, but not the milk. Third one, which I kinda liked, was macadamia milk. Since I wasn’t really into any of the ones I tried I went back to my usual 2% organic milk. But, then I found the Plain Extra Creamy Chobani Oatmilk. Made with the goodness of organic, gluten-free oats. A good source of calcium, vitamins A and D, without nuts, dairy, or lactose. Oh and so creamy … I was in heaven!

The consumption of plant-based milk has risen in recent years. The sale of plant milk gross more than $21 billion in global sales. The environmental impact on land to produce dairy milk is huge. Making plant-based milks better for the planet, but that doesn’t mean there’s no environmental impact.

Here are some stats from Global Citizen:

  • Best for lowering your carbon footprint: Almond and Hazelnut
  • Best for water conservation: Oat and Soy
  • Best for land: Oat and Hemp
  • Best practices: buy organic and diversify

Whatever milk alternative you choose, make sure to read the label as some plant milk may contain excessive sugar. Also almond milk is not suitable for children under two years of age, as it does not have high protein content. As always, do you homework before switching or trying anything new!

xoxo Elisa

Sneak Peek

I just couldn’t help giving you a little peek into the transformation into the house in Georgia. Please keep in mind, I admit, it is about 90% done in all the rooms I’m about to share but you’ll get the direction it’s going in. A lot of paint and sweat has gone into it thus far…..

The living room – this is still an on going project – the 3 walls are painted with 2 layers of primer and 2 layers of paint with built-in primer. I researched the best paint and primer for wood slat walls (thank you Sherwin Williams), and before you yell at me, there was so much lacquered orangey wood it was bad. These wood panels were the trend in the 70’s. Not to mention there is wood on the floors and ceiling. Each wall took me an average of 7 hours per wall, up and down the ladder. What made it a long daunting task was that I had to paint each groove of the slats then roll over it with a roller so I did not get paint brush marks – repeat 4 times per wall. It was hell. I can’t finish the 4th wall until Eddie is done with the kitchen…..soon my friends, soon.

The entry has been my next plan of attack, as mentioned in my last post the wallpaper had to go. I began to strip….the wallpaper. Strip, strip, strip, primer paint, then paint 2 coats, wood filler there, a couch here, a DIY macrame piece there and there you go a nice spot to sit by the fire place with my organite, smudging abolone shell and a prosperity acorn from Italy : )

As soon as you walk into the front door you are/were greeted by a planter and the 2 sided fireplace. I get the fact that they put the planter here for 2 reasons: to make the entry be an entry so you were forced to turn left and that it would be a great decorative piece if you were able to maintain healthy plants there. Well, the way I see it is that there is not enough light there to have the plants that I want and the dining chair on the other side of it felt cramped. We decided to knock it down. It was a very well made piece with a more wood than you can imagine and enough nails and staples to sink Noah’s ark. Bravo builders!

Now this automatically leads to begin stripping in the small dining room….the wallpaper. Not to toot my own horn here, but at this point I am a master stripper…of wallpaper. I have past the point of frustration and have learned the ways of it to be therapeutic.

I LOVE STRIPPING……wallpaper!

I will continue to decorate with items that ‘sparks joy’, that takes time to collect.

Next on the to-do-list:

  • finish the kitchen, including kitchen flooring.
  • ugly pink bathroom. I bought the floor tiles already! It was on sale at Lowes. Frankie says this bathroom reminds him of a gas station bathroom. Ugh.
  • scraping and painting the ceiling.
  • the blue bathroom. To me it’s not ugly, just super outdated.
  • sanding and staining the floor boards.
  • white washing the brick fire place.
  • then the biggest project, the guest house.

I’m guessing we will be done renovating 2030?

This knee pad has helped me reach the lower parts of the walls in comfort! I used it each time I strip : ). Link

Welcome Baby Lola

Lola’s birth was the most precious and invaluable memory for the rest of my life.
Sublime! I felt so present, I was experiencing the last birth of my life. As you know from my last post, this pregnancy was difficult. So, when I saw her for the first time, and to know that she was ok and healthy, I felt my soul coming back to my body. I cried so deeply from the happiness that everything was so perfect.
I feel so blessed and grateful that she chose me as her mother.

Lola is a rainbow baby, a name coined for a healthy baby born after losing a baby due to miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death. The name “rainbow baby” comes from the idea of a rainbow appearing in the sky after a storm, or after a dark and turbulent time.

~ Gisella ~