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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stray Dogs Giveaway

Stray Dogs Giveaway

In case you missed my top ice cream spots in Tucson post, I included Stray Dogs as one of my picks! How could you not want one of their decadent milkshakes from the photo alone?? Well, I partnered up with Stray Dogs to giveaway one $50 gift card for you and a friend to fully indulge in milkshakes, delicious burgers, pizzas, etc. There's more good news: their patio is dog friendly which means you can bring man's best friend with you!

How to Enter:
Stray Dogs Giveaway
You can enter on Instagram, Facebook or both for more entries. View the links below to enter.

To enter on Instagram, go here.
To enter on Facebook, go here.

Need Ideas on What to Order?
Stray Dogs Giveaway
Thanks to Stray Dogs, they fed Rachel and I with a variety of delicious options. Stray Dogs takes pride in sourcing fresh ingredients and making everything as homemade as possible, whether it's their pizza dough, or the glistening donuts that are topped on the milkshakes. Additionally, their cooking includes: hormone-free beef, no added nitrates and no preservatives. Gluten-free and vegetarians are welcomed as comfort-food options. So what did we order?

Sonoran Dog
Stray Dogs Giveaway
Sonoran Dogs are such a Tucson tradition and Stray Dogs creates one with the perfectly cooked bacon. We noticed a couple other tables were also eating the Sonoran Dogs while they watched their Sunday football game on the multiple screens in the restaurant.


Island Burger
Stray Dogs Giveaway
I would honestly recommend any burger since the beef quality was perfect and also not as greasy as some burgers can be. As noted earlier, they use hormone-free beef.


Pizza
Stray Dogs Giveaway
I wanted to try two different types of pizzas so I did half "Hair of a Dog" and half "BBQ Chicken." If I could only choose to have one, I would go with the "Hair of a Dog" type! It has your basic mozzarella, red sauce, bellpepper and then it also includes a fried egg (I loved getting pizzas with eggs in Italy!), bacon, sriracha and... wait for it... french fries! All of these ingredients combined made a great pizza. But if you prefer classic, then the "BBQ Chicken" is a satisfying option.


Loaded Shakes
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson
My first time eating at Stray Dogs was for their milkshakes alone. You. Will. not. Be. Disappointed. I've tasted all three of their signature: Churrochata, Loaded Donut and The Munchies... and any of those will deliver happiness to your tastebuds. The wait for these will be a little longer than your regular milkshake because of the freshlymade garnish. I.e.: churros for the Churrochata, a giant donut with frosting for the Loaded Donut and cinnamon donut holes for The Munchies. Also be sure to ask what their featured shake is– I loved their Strawberry Lemonade milkshake from Fourth of July.

Thank you again to Stray Dogs for the cheat-meal worthy occasion and also for partnering up with me to giveaway the $50 gift card. Good luck everyone!!


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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

Living in a desert means the summer heat lingers to mid October or so. To compensate with the Sonoran sun, it is a must to cool down with ice cream. Thankfully Tucson has plenty of ice cream spots, and in no particular order, I would like to share some of my favorite below!

1. The Hub Ice Cream Factory
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

The Hub is a delicious restaurant and also carries ice cream to go. Before the Hub Ice Cream Factory opened up across the street, you would always see a line out the door of the restaurant for those craving their creamy and thick ice cream. When they opened up the Hub Ice Cream Factory, they expanded their ice cream selection to popsicles, chocotacos, cookie sandwiches and more. However, I prefer to enjoy the crafted 22 flavors on their own– three which are sorbets and vegan options as well.

Get it now: S'mores


2. Peñas Raspados
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

Now, what would Tucson be without it's Mexican-influenced ice cream creations?? Peñas Raspados has this delicious creation called a "macedonia" which includes the following: la lechera, ice cream, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, pineapple and crushed pecans. If you want the traditional raspado with shave ice, they have that available as well but I prefer this since I don't like the shave ice texture. For those with an extra sweet tooth, get it topped with an extra scoop of ice cream!

Get it now: Macedonia


3. Stray Dogs
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

It was love at first sight when I first came across these insane milkshakes from Stray Dogs. I tried one within the first week they opened– it was a butterfinger milkshake topped with a freshly-fried donut. The shake was amaaazing and surprisingly not too an overkill on sweetness. I've tasted all three flavors of their shakes (Churrochata, the Loaded Donut and the Munchies) and I can vouch to say you won't be disappointed with any of them. They also have a rotating flavor each month. Don't forget to get a burger while you're there– they locally source their ingredients when possible.

Get it now: The Loaded Donut


4. Isabella's Ice Cream
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

Every local Tucsonan will tell you how happy they were when Isabella's Ice Cream decided to create a brick-and-mortar location! Before this, Isabella fans had to hope to see the ice cream truck at special events throughout Tucson. I'm not sure what they do to the ice cream to make it so good but it is incredibly creamy. They offer your traditional flavors but also fun flavors like rosé.

Get it now: Vanilla


5. Sullivan's Eatery & Creamery
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

I've been here a few times and the sundaes never leave me disappointed! Sullivan's Eatery & Creamery has a huuuge list of sundaes to choose from, and even offers a full menu of sugar-free options. The inside has a cute, vintage-diner vibe to it, with a toy train that goes around the entire restaurant. I also love how each sundae comes complete with a wafer and cherry on top!

Get it now: Strawberries, Bananas & Cream Abdul Jabbar


6. The Screamery
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

While newer to Tucson, the Screamery has been bringing a competitive edge to the ice cream market for the last few years. They take pride in how their ice cream is produced with only grass-fed dairy. The honeycomb flavor is my absolute favorite because I love the chunks of honeycomb. However, if you can't decide on a flavor then the ice cream flight is a great option! You get to pick six sample-scoop sizes, and this is big enough to share with another person... that is if you feel like sharing.

Get it now: Sweet Cream Honeycomb


7. La Garrafa
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

La Garrafa offers Mexican-sorbet and ice cream flavors to the Tucson market. They opened last year and always have a crowd when I come in. For those who love chamoy, get their mango sorbet topped with sorbet and tamarind Mexican candy! Nieve de Garrafa is a style where the product is created in a wooden bucket through hand churning and La Garrafa is the only location in Arizona to incorporate this technique.

Get it now: Mazapán topped with condensed milk and fresh strawberries


8. Frost: A Gelato Shoppe
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

When Frost: A Gelato Shoppe opened in Tucson, it rapidly grew popularity as being one of the few gelato locations in town. Frost's flavors are consistently great and each flavor is delicious, whether you're getting a sorbet or gelato. My only wish is that they would let you get two flavors for the small. When Allegro gelato was in Tucson, I loved the fact that I didn't need to choose between two flavors for the small since I could get both. However, I still enjoy Frost even though I can only pick one flavor. Their panna cotta is my absolute favorite but isn't part of their regular assortment, luckily you can request a special order of any limited-edition flavors!

Get it now: Rum Raisin


9. Cashew Cow
Top Ice Cream Spots in Tucson

Tucson evens offers an all-vegan ice cream shop, Cashew Cow. I've tried vegan ice cream from the grocery story but let me just say that Cashew Cow really knows what they're doing. While it won't be as creamy as ice cream with dairy, they still do achieve a nice consistency. P.S.: Please excuse my poor manicure ha ha.

Get it now: Raspberry


Now, it's your turn to indulge and let me know what you think! Or if I missed some of your favorites, then let me know so I can try it out. Happy SUNDAE everyone!


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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Thanks to Maynards Market & Kitchen, I had the opportunity to attend their delicious Italy Meets AZ six-course dinner. Italy has always held a special place in my heart and I was particularly excited to attend this dinner because the chef is from my study-abroad home in the beautiful town, Orvieto.

La Dolce Vita
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

My fascination for Italy began when I learned about the Roman Empire in elementary school and from that moment on, I told myself I would study aboard in Italy. While a student at the University of Arizona, I decided to take a few semesters of Italian to prepare for my aspiring adventure. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Magellan Circle helped me achieve my goal by providing me with a scholarship to partially cover the costs of the trip. My adventure to Orvieto, Italy began!

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

The program was based in Orvieto but offered several trips to the different Italian cities. During the program I enjoyed studying advanced photojournalism with my journalism professor, Kim Newton, and intermediate Italian with my Italian professor, Beppe Cavatorta. However the most rewarding aspect of studying abroad in Italy was learning how to truly enjoy life. In the Italian culture, they savor every minute of life (culinary cuisine, art, wine... much wine), and it was a great reminder for me to do the same in the fast-pace world that we live in.

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

I'm tremendously grateful to the program founders, Alba Frascarelli, Claudio Bizzarri and Dr. David Soren for helping me accomplish one of my goals. Orvieto is unlike any other city, which is why I was excited to learn about Chef Simona's background.

Italy Meets AZ Dinner
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards embraces Tucson's recognition as one of 10 UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy and celebrates the culturally diverse food of the region by inviting worldly chefs to present a creative menu. The Guest Chef series debuted by inviting Chef Simona Fabrizio from Orvieto, Italy. Chef Simona immersed herself in the Tucson culture to gain a deeper understanding of the locally-sourced foods in the Sonoran region. Together, she collaborated with Maynards Executive Chef Brian Smith to craft a phenomenal dinner.


The Menu

First Course
Cured meats, local cheese, olive oil, balsamic, quice paste, honey mustard, pistachios, chiltepin candied pumpkin seeds, barrio bread and my personal favorite detail– dosmanos honeycomb
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


Second Course
Black ravioli filled with fresh figs, ricotta, gorgonzola and walnuts salsa, crispy prosciutto and crispy sage, balsamic, nasturtium
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


Third Course
Roasted red kuri squash soup, tarragon mousse, apple pepita relish, black garlic oil, Patagonia pea tendrils
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


Fourth Course
Pan-roasted chicken breast, gnocco alla Romana, Mediterranean pesto, yellow tomato puree, confit yellow tomato, green beans wrapped in pancetta
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


Fifth Course
Braised-beef short ribs, Hayden Mills polenta, oyster mushrooms, caramelized cipollini onions, Parmesan, crisp garlic, black truffle jus
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


Sixth Course
White chocolate panna cotta, Maynard's red and white wine poached pears, wine reduction, chocolate almond praline
Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

While all dishes were delicious down to the last intricate detail, there were favorites. My table couldn't stop talking about the braised-short rib. It was definitely a close second for me but my ultimate favorite was the black ravioli with the ricotta and fresh figs. I love pasta but only in small quantities and this hand-made ravioli was the perfect umami blend of flavors: the creaminess of the ricotta with the sweetness of the figs, paired well with the slightly saltiness of the prosciutto.

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

In addition to the beautiful courses, the ambiance of the dinner matched that of the dishes. I loved how the table centerpieces included both Italian and local influences. I appreciated how much thought went into planning this dinner.

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ

One of the exciting parts of the dinner was anticipating what dishes would be created. Maynards kept the menu a mystery until guests arrived to the dinner. The main reason for the mystery is because both the executive chef and guest chef collaborate together after the guest chef gets acquainted with Tucson. Together, they create a spontaneous dinner that reflects the two unique worlds coming together. The remaining three dinners will reflect the same spontaneous process to deliver fun creativity to the table. The next event of the series will take place on December 11.

"It was an honor to work with Chef Simona from Italy," Chef Brian said. "I look forward to welcoming more chefs from around the world to come and experience our Sonoran desert."

Maynards Market & Kitchen Guest Chef Series– Italy Meets AZ


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

With my upcoming wedding in February, I started looking at options for lashes. Naturally, my lashes are nice but for wedding photos, I was looking for an extra pop. Thankfully around the same time, a Tucson lash-technician named Wendie contacted me if I would be interested in reviewing lash extensions as a sponsored service. Wendie owns her business, Lashed by Wendie, and does phenomenal work on all of her clients.

Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

Wendie is well trained in the three different styles: glam (the fullest), hybrid (a mixture of glam and natural) and also classic (natural). Of these three, Wendie customizes the set to fit the individual's eyes. For a little over a month, I was able to try out both the glam set for my bachelorette in Cancún and also the hybrid. For inquiries or appointments, call/text Wendie at 619-458-6464. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to see more of her work.

Glam Lash Extensions
Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

The glam was my initial set. The entire process took about two hours to guarantee perfection. Wendie also installs the lashes based on the individual's eye shape. I told her in the past, I struggled with makeup artists getting the shape of my eye right. Wendie nailed both sets of lashes! The glam set will offer you the greatest curl, volume and length.

Hybrid Lash Extensions
Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

I decided to give the hybrid set a test for my wedding to see which I preferred. The hybrid I fell in love with for every day wear! My getting-ready time was cut in half because I would do only face power and brows then be out the door. On weekends, I refrained from doing my makeup and just went around fluttering my lashes. These look natural and fantastic in photos. The two photos at the top of this post (me in the navy blazer) feature full face makeup but no eye makeup other than the lash extensions.

Lash Differences
Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

  1. The first photo is a picture of my natural lashes with one coat of mascara. My lashes can get long and full if I layer mascara but that takes 15-20min to perfect...no joke.
  2. The second photo is the hybrid set that I currently have. These are natural looking with a splash of glam...hence the name hybrid.
  3. The third photo are the glam lashes to flutter for any special occasion! These are longer than the hybrid and fuller. I felt like Sophia Loren, or at least her lashes haha, in these.
Don't repeat my mistakes...

Wendie gives a lash-care list and lash brush and I still made mistakes unintentionally. Within the first 24 hours of having lashes, you're not suppose to get them wet or do exercise as the lash glue needs to completely dry. I did pretty well with the no working out part, however I messed up the next day. I went to rub my eyes in the morning, as I do each day, and completely forgot the lashes were there. It definitely loosened some of the lashes as it hadn't even been 10hr since I had the lashes applied. As I became more aware, I took better care of the lashes.

What to you need to know...
  • While reactions are rare, they can happen. Wendie recommends trying out the lashes two weeks before a special event. This enables enough time for not only a reaction but also time for you to see if you would like longer or shorter lashes.
  • Wendie uses natural synthetic lashes, meaning her extensions are vegan approved! 
  • I love the lashes but unfortunately my Ironman training doesn't. My swimming goggles crush the lashes, as well as my cycling glasses. After my training, however, I plan to get the lashes again. I save so much time, as mentioned before.
  • The lashes are delicate which makes them a little high maintenance. You will be fine during weight training, spin classes, yoga and running. 
  • It is important to use a small makeup brush and foam cleanser to clean the lashes daily. This will make your lash application and fills last longer. Oil buildup will breakdown the glue. 
  • Yes your eyes will be slightly red (see the image in lash difference) immediately after the lash application but they clear 15-30min later.
  • The heavier the lashes, the sooner they'll need to be refilled.
  • Depending on how well you care for the lashes, you can expect each set of the lashes to last 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks you will need to get a fill, which will cost half (or less) of the amount of the initial installation.
  • Wendie's Cost breakdown: 
    • Classic: $100 initial, $50 fill 
    • Hybrid: $140 initial, $60 fill
    • Glam: $160 initial, $70 fill
Lash Extensions Review: Everything You Need to Know

If you're interested in getting the lash extensions, I recommend applying to be one of Wendie's lash babes! You get 50% off any set and all you need to do is tell her why you deserve the lashes. You can also enter a friend to share the love. <3

Overall, I love the glam but I would prefer to use them for special occasions like my wedding. The hybrid are a dreaaam! Don't forget to contact Wendie– glam sets usually are over $200 and this is a great deal for the quality of work she provides. Thank you again to Wendie for sponssoring me with the glam set and hybrid fills!


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Monday, September 4, 2017

Top Five Things to Do in Cancún

Bachelorette in Cancún

After five wonderful days of exploring part of the Yucatán Peninsula, I bring you my top five list of things to do while in Cancún. If you're looking for an in-depth experience, then check out my Bachelorette in Cancún and Chichen Itza and Valladolid posts.


1. Chichen Itza and Valladolid
Top Five Things to Do in Cancún

I made it a priority to see the Mayan ruins because they are relatively close to Cancún. The excursion is an all-day trip, you leave your hotel around 7:15am and get back around 7:30pm. You can also choose to have an English speaking guide if your Spanish is nonexistent like mine. The pyramid, cenote and Valladolid were worth this 12hr trip!

Chichen Itza and Valladolid
What to know:
  • The Translamex tour runs $50 since we booked it with our resort tourism coordinator.
  • The bus ride is two hours each way.
  • A delicious lunch buffet (I don't usually like buffets but this was great!) is provided if you book this tour.
  • Cenote X-Cajum, Valladolid and Chichen Itza are included sights in the tour.
  • Get the churros! We had only 15min to visit Valladolid and the churro line was long because each order of churros was hand rolled in cinnamon sugar and filled with your choice of chocolate, la lechera or caramel.

2. Mandala Beach Club
Bachelorette in Cancún

Of course it's a given you will be on the beach while in Cancún and why would you not want to with the beautiful, turquoise ocean?? Mandala Beach Club is directly on the beach and adds a little extra to your trip if you're looking for a bit more than laying on the sand.

Bachelorette in Cancún
What to know:
  • We paid $30/person to get in and have a cabana. That money goes 100% towards food and drink credit. The guy in the entrance will try to sell you more expensive options, but you can get as low as $30.
  • The food is outstanding! They don't try to rip you off with low-quality food; we were all pretty impressed with the quality and plating. There honestly wasn't one item I did not enjoy.
  • You get to meet other travelers. Even though it's a "club" the music isn't so loud you can't talk with others– which added to our experience.
  • The pool is refreshing and closest to the food and music– the beach is right out front as well. 
  • Order the piña coladas! While I normally don't like overly fruity drinks, we ordered these since we were on a beach and thought "why not?" They turned out amaaazing! The pineapple-coconut ratio was perfect.

3. Eat Mexican Food
Chichen Itza and Valladolid

This seems like another obvious one but make sure you do it! Cancún has several excellent steak houses but you're really missing out on eating some of the best Mexican food if you don't get it here. Below are two of my favorite restaurants we dined at and these are my recommendations from each...

Porfirio's:
  • The salsa assortment they bring out is amazing and varies from spiciest to most mild.
  • We loved the ceviche here!
  • Gabby ordered tacos 3-4 times while in Cancún and she would say they were the best here.
  • Churro cart!! If you order churros, they come in this cute cart and with three different dipping sauces.

Hacienda Siesal:
  • Their queso dip was hands down the best I've had. It's a blend with Mexico's famous Oaxaca cheese.
  • Carne Asada was awesome, and is available in multiple dishes,


4. Coco Bongo Night Club
Bachelorette in Cancún

Coco Bongo is definitely worth experiencing while out in Cancún! I could see why it is a widely know club and why everyone recommends it. This club is different than your traditional club since there are choreographed and aerial silk performances in between dancing. The performances were choreographed to musical numbers, cinematography and top music hits.

Bachelorette in Cancún
What to know:
  • Go on Thursday. Friday is notoriously known for being packed since they put as many people in that will fit.
  • The $75 gets you into the club, unlimited drinks, a table and of course access to all of the performances. We had credit from our Airbnb so we were able to book a great deal with our renter.
  • Girls dress in anything from jean shorts and a crop to a bodycon dress.
  • The dancing is nonstop and there is nowhere visible to sit...so if you're not comfortable in high heels then I would recommend sandals. A lot of the girls there wore sandals or flats, but of course I love my heels and opted for that. :)


5. Mambocafé Salsa Dancing
Bachelorette in Cancún

Mambocafé was one of my favorite experiences of the trip! There was a live band with singers, and they danced along as they performed. My bridesmaid, Gabby, found this spot for us which was outside of the Hotel Zone. It was great to see what the local life of Cancún was like, and of course to dance! We only heard Spanish around us and truly felt immersed in this experience.

Bachelorette in Cancún
What to know:
  • We arrived at 11:00pm since the performers were suppose to arrive by 11:30pm... They did not arrive until 12:30am.
  • Arrive early enough so you may get a table. The place gets packed.
  • To have a table, you just need to make one purchase. We didn't drink any alcohol on Saturday and simply ordered water.
  • The dance floor is packed but full of great energy!

*Sponsored* If you're looking to book accomodations during your visit, be sure to check out vacations rentals from All The Rooms to easily find the best deal!


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