Author Archives: Belle

1 Sangria, 2 Sangria, 3 Sangria…Floor Sangria

Have you ever yearned and longed for something you can’t have?

Sigh – the story of my life.

In this case, I’ve been longing for good old’ spanish Sangria from back home.

I bet you’re thinking: “What’s up with this chick and food?”

Panama was voted by the NY Times as the Number 1 place to visit on 2012. As I am a Panamanian, I can give you a million reasons why you should visit. That would also make me a biased writer.

But, please, do check out the NY Times article, as I’m not making shit up:

I have not been back home in almost two years and there are a lot of things I miss.  I miss the house I grew up in and the distinct scent coming out of the kitchen on the first floor; an indication that my palate is about to be satisfied. I miss sitting around the dinner table with my parents and sisters.  I miss our blatantly open conversations filled with name calling, complaining and gossiping. I miss my blunt, opinionated, no-nonsense and straight to the point friends.  And what is a dinner date with friends in Panama without a refreshingly delicious Sangria.

I have tried Sangria in many different countries and restaurants and none compare to the ones I have tried at several restaurants in Panama City. If I had to describe Sangria in three words, I would use: sweet, sexy, and dangerous.

All the combination of flavors give my palate and interesting tickle. Its taste, is very reminiscent of the passion and fury of a flamenco dancer. The biggest mistake you can do when drinking Sangria, is drinking it too quickly.  Due to its sweetness, you do not think of the combination of liquors involved and end up drinking it too fast without realizing, you are intoxicated beyond belief.

Since I couldn’t have what I so badly craved, I asked my friend and Panamanian restaurateur to share the Sangria recipe he uses at his restaurant and I made some minor alterations as I was preparing it.


4 cups of a dry red wine. I like using any cheap Cabernet Sauvignon

5 tablespoons of sugar

 1 cup of Orange Juice

1 cup of Ginger Ale

5 ounces of Rum (I prefer Panamanian Ron Abuelo, but I know it is not readily available everywhere in the States).

 2 ounces or more of Vermouth

Lemon zest

Chopped fruit such as apples and grapes


1. Place the chopped apples and grapes in a pitcher

2. Mix the wine and the sugar in the pitcher until the sugar has dissolved

3. Mix in the orange juice, ginger ale, rum, vermouth and lemon zest

4. Chill for 4 to 6 hours before serving in order to let all the flavors do their “thang”

5. Pour over ice and chopped fruit

6. Close your eyes, enjoy and dream.

Tis’ the Season for Recession Proof Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ah, Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Anyone who has tried it, will agree with me: it is sweet, it is perfection, it is addictive, and it is expensive…like a boyfriend.

At $4.32 with taxes, the “Tall” Starbucks version of this elixir is bound to break your bank. How is a girl supposed to put money away for shoes  the kids’ college fund?

But pumpkin spice seems to be something I can’t  be without and since I  keep losing bets at work that make me have to bring them in, I  put together my own homemade version of this drink – boy is my husband going to be excited.

 Somebody suggested I bought the Pumpkin Spice Creamer at the grocery store, but that is not very glamorous at all…is it?

Let’s get started.  First things first, put the Britney Spears station on your Pandora.

Done? Ok.

Second, put something on TV that will have this effect on your kids for at least 30 minutes (in this case, Elmo). This should give you enough time to make your drink and enjoy it too.


- 1/2 cup of WHOLE milk. Go ahead and go the skim milk route, but it’s just not the same.

- 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree. I would have made my own out of a pumpkin, but I was too eager to try it and ended up getting a (gag) canned product.

- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

- 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice

- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

- strongly brewed coffee – in this case, from my Keurig.


Ingredients - Oh, there's Sophie.

Whisk the first six ingredients together.
Please forgive the poor quality of my pictures. I will add a camera to my Santa list...since I've been SUCH a good girl.

You may microwave the pumpkin milk, but I chose to boil it. Anything to over complicate my life and get more crap dirty…right?

 Meanwhile, brew some strong coffee in a sassy coffee mug…

Doesn't make me a bad person

Mix the pumpkin milk with the strongly brewed coffee from the sassy mug, add a little of whipped cream and sprinkle some cinnamon and VOILA!

Orrrr….add a LOT of whipped cream.

So? Was it perfect? Pretty damn close.

Enjoy. Un beso.

Late Post – Last Thursday & Friday’s Themed Lunch (Round Things & Rainbow Theme)

The hubby has been back since last Thursday so we have been busy spending time with each other and the girls, hence, I just haven’t had the chance to post last week’s two lunches.

Last Thursday, I was running out of ideas but I decided to go with a round theme. All week, Mia has been appropriately dressed according to the theme. Even the lunches have carried a theme throughout her daycare activities. For example, Thursday she wore a polka dot dress and they worked on drawing circles and reviewing her shapes.

Round Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich, sliced cucumbers, grapes and a plum

 Mia’s favorite book when she was a baby was Rainbow Rob. So Rob inspired Friday’s lunch. I’m kicking myself in the butt for not taking a picture of Mia’s rainbow outfit, but like the other days, they did rainbow related activities at daycare.

Taste a rainbow of foods and vegetables for better health :)

 Except for the fries and nuggets in the picture above, Mia had a week full of healthy lunches. Per her daycare provider, she ate every single one, and I have enjoyed seeing her little face light up when I would should her my “master piece” for the first time. But honestly, it was a lot work! There are moms out there who create bento lunches for their children EVERY SINGLE DAY! I don’t know how they do it.

This week was supposed to be “Cultural Week”, but I’ll give it a rest and focus on enjoying my nights spending time with Matt as opposed to making lunches.

Buenas noches.

Insanity Week 3 – Fit Test #2

Today was the day! My mountain was waiting so I got on my way!

Insanity asks that you take a Fit Test every two weeks so you can see your improvements for yourself (or to see how badly you suck and  realize that maybe you should just quit).

I didn’t do TOO bad. I thought I should have done better. But I took it easy on the knee exercises (which are about 90% of them), and I felt super bloated and heavy. Then, again, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten this an hour and a half before I started the routine:

Grilled mojo chicken with arroz con guandu y coco and bacon wrapped asparagus.

 Without further due, here are the results:

                                 8/8/11                                                                8/21/11

Switch Kicks                                69                                                                          85

Power Jack (Knee Killers)    50                                                                          52

Power Knees                                77                                                                          82

Power Jumps                                25                                                                         32

Globe Jumps                                8                                                                           12

Suicide Jumps                            10                                                                          14

Push-Up Jacks                            18                                                                         24

Low Plank Oblique                   30                                                                         37

 I definitely feel fitter… Matt thinks I look fitter ;)  But most importantly, I’m just happy that I set my mind to do this and so far, I am succeeding. Two weeks down, 6 more to go!

You can now somewhat see our little muscles :)

 A friend asked that I put up a couple videos, please don’t give me shit about the Power Jacks! I know I am not going into the full squat position, but it’s not bad for someone with two knee surgeries. And please check out my tiny workout partner, isn’t she the best? Gah! I can’t figure out how to upload videos to my blog! Help? Anybody?

Here is the link to the youtube videos:

Insanity Update – Week 2

These workouts are no joke. To tell you the truth, I have missed 2 days. One, was because I was having an insane afternoon driving my pink-eyed kid to the doctor, driving around different Walgreens trying to get her  itty bitty teeny tiny eye drops that would make me $85.00 poorer. By the time I got back, I had to bathe them and get them ready for bed, prepare lunches, etc. There was no way in hell I was going to do a workout that day.

On top of that, I have had two knee surgeries and as the workouts progress and I become more intense, the knees go from being really sore to being really painful. So before you go on to call me a quitter, I’m still going through the workouts but I have had two days where I have had to put my sanity (and knees) before my desire to push myself to the limit.

Iced knee & Entourage. Somebody please bring me a glass of wine!

Oh The Places You’ll Go

This, is who she was:

And this, is what she has become:

 She is an infinite display of smiles and laughter, passion and drama, selflessness and self-indulgence. There is no question that the youngest of my three sisters has made our lives both interesting and immensely happy.

As she is the last of my little sisters to go off to college to play Division I tennis, I thought it would be wise that I (her big sister), should offer some words of encouragement and advise.

I have always been told, that being a “Student Athlete” at a University is different than being a “Student”.  I agree.  As a Student Athlete, you need to find a way to balance both your Education and Athletics and that you excel in both. This is no easy task, but to someone as bright and belligerent as she is, I have no doubt in my mind that she will succeed.

Being a Student Athlete is a wonderful experience and will contribute greatly to your personal growth and development. As a former student athlete myself, this is what I have learned:

1) As tired as you may be or as cold as it may be outside, DO NOT SKIP CLASS. EVER.  You’ll be missing class a lot as it is due to your responsibilities as a member of the team.

2) Every once in a while you’ve got to miss a class, for your sanity.

3) If your professor tells you to read a chapter (or 2 or 3 or 10) for next class, read. You do not want him surprising you in a class with a random question and you end up  looking like a schmuck.

4) Professors have office hours for a reason: so they can see who is interested in their class and who doesn’t give a shit. Just pay them a nice visit or two.

5) Upon your arrival to University of Wyoming, you will make 6 to 7 best friends right away: your teammates. Be nice to them, respect them, encourage them, love them. They are your future workout buddies, doubles partners, roommates, maids of honor, bridesmaids, godmothers to your children, your friends for life.

6) At the time you may not think so, but you have just become adopted by somebody else: your coach. If she is anything like mine, you just found yourself a mom away from home. And I’m not kidding. She will encourage you, and push you, and yell at you, and cry when you have let her down, and be happy for you when you have succeeded. Hopefully you won’t go through this, but she will take you in after you’ve had surgery and nurse you back to health.  During these moments, you may not see it this way, but one day you will look back and think of her and finally say: SHE WAS RIGHT! I absolutely CAN do this! There is always a little bit more in me!  To me, that moment came after pushing my firstborn out for an hour. To you, I hope it comes sooner.

7) Always run for every ball. Every single ball. Specially at practice. There is no better feeling, than the feeling of completing a succesful practice/workout.

8 ) Every day you go into practice, ask yourself, what can I do to get better? When you’re done, ask yourself, did I get better?

9) If your coach tells you not to drink during season, don’t. Trust me.

10) Here is a story  and you can take it however you want. Matt and I both had 6:00 a.m workouts one morning, but it was Halloween, and we decided to party it up the night before. Possibly the worst idea ever. Yet, we woke up and we both went to the early morning workout. It sucked!  But we still think back and talk about it often.

11) Your days of playing for yourself are done. 5 other people depend on you playing smart, playing creatively, and NEVER giving up.

12) Seniority is bullshit. If you, as a freshman, did not enjoy picking up balls at the end of practice or gassing up the car in 10F degree weather, what makes you think any other freshman would?

13) As hectic and busy as your life will be, ALWAYS make time for the friends you have made. Because one day when you decide to go visit that person to catch up on what’s been going on for one whole semester, they may not be there anymore.

14) There will be plenty of times when your friends are going to be heading out to party (again) and you will have to stay behind because you have an early match. You may say to yourself: “I wish I could do that”. Just think that as you’re suiting up to fly to Hawaii to fight for your school’s reputation, they’re looking at you thinking: “I wish I could do that”.

15) I leave you with this quote from Dr. Seuss:

“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your
right foot with your left.”

I love you and I’ll always be here. And now that you’re on your on your own, show them what you’re made of. Show them what you’re capable of. We all already know.

Wednesday Theme – My Daughter Ate Cinderella

When I found out I was expecting  a little girl, I was so excited because I finally had the perfect excuse to buy all the Disney Princess DVD’s and watch them again with my own little princess.

However, these days, all I hear about is Disney Princesses. In order to avoid a tantrum in the morning on my way to work, we HAVE to listen to the Disney Princess CD. When Mia wants to play, we just HAVE to play dress up where she is ALWAYS the Princess and I’m ALWAYS the horse.

Quite honestly, I’m fed up! Every time we watch a Disney Princess movie, all I do is think about what a horrible example they’re setting for my daughter. Example: both Princess Aurora and Ariel got married at age 16; Snow White lived in a house with 7 men after knowing them for only a couple of hours; Jasmine ran away and Pocahontas went after the white guy…errr nevermind that one. Anyway, my favorite is Belle because she was an intellectual and loved reading, then again, all Belles are kinda cool ;)

This is my latest Facebook status complaining about a Disney Princess movie: “This has been bugging me for a while and I just have to bitch. If Ariel can sign her life away to Ursula when she decides to lose her voice so she can grow legs and hit on Prince Eric; couldn’t she WRITE a note to Prince Eric letting him know what’s up? ‘Eric, you need to kiss me or I’m f***ed. Love, Ariel’ “

That post got a lot of attention from my Facebook friends, and a friend from college suggested I read “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”. So that’s the inspiration for Wednesday’s lunch: “My Daughter Ate Cinderella”.

I’m sorry…I tried to make Cinderella look less evil…FAIL

Cinderella is sitting on a turkey sandwich. Her face was made out of Provolone and Sharp Cheddar, red lettuce for the headband, boiled and egg and used sugar snap peas for her eyeballs, and cut a strawberry for her lips. Please go to this website for the template:

The little frog is a green apple with peanut butter and I used green grapes and chocolate chips for the eyes. Those berries were supposed to be a bracelet, but I failed miserably and broke the spaghetti they were in.

I have to go night night. I had a long day again and without going into many details, it involved:

a) Rain and getting VERY wet: I can feel my throat getting sore.

 b) A three year old and a pink eye, or two.

c) Walgreens not receiving the prescription from the Dr.

d) Going back to the Dr. to pick up a written prescription.

e) Returning to that same Walgreens with two cranky/tired/hungry kids and a cranky/tired/hungry mom.

f) That Walgreens sending me to a different Walgreens because the prescription wasn’t there.

f) Me losing my composure.

g) Spending $85.00 on less than an ounce of eyedrops.


Tuesday Theme – The Hungry Caterpillar

I’d be lying if I said I came up with this on my own. I got the idea of this caterpillar kabob out of Annabel Karmel’s cookbook “First Meals”

I was so excited to show Mia her bento this morning but she had other plans. She woke up cranky and didn’t even want to see my creation…ungrateful little *_)*%_$*@.

Alas, here it is:

Ants on a log with a twist and Caterpillar Kabobs

 Mia is not a fan of celery, no matter how decorated they are. So I used raisins and peanut butter on a banana instead. The caterpillars are sitting on a bed of silky coconut rice. Their little tails are fans of green onions, as are their antennae. Their heads are grape tomatoes and I used cloves for their eyes.

I’m told by her daycare provider that she ate everything but the lettuce.

The Things I Do For Love – Themed Lunch Week – Under The Sea Monday

I am exhausted.

It feels like Matt’s been gone forever, and he still won’t be back until Thursday.  It was an early morning again, doing the same thing I do every day Monday thru Friday: getting me ready and getting the girls ready to start our day.

Since everybody is starting the school year this week or the next, I thought it’d be really cute to come up with themed lunches for Mia to take to daycare. So here it is, Mia’s Under The Sea Lunch:

Look at this stuff, isn't it neat?

 This was pretty easy to do. For the “octopus”, I cut 8 slits out of a hot dog for the “tentacles”, then I boiled it until the “tentacles” curled. I was going to dye the buttered parmesan spaghetti blue, but I’m always iffy about adding any preservatives or colorants to my kids’ meals…sooo, I decided not to. I made tiny starfish out of carrots and watermelon starfish with fondant cutters. And of course, no Under the Sea themed lunch would ever be complete without goldfish crackers.

This morning I showed Mia her lunch, her face immediately lit up and she said: “WOW Mami, that is so cute”. I live for moments like this. I had a long day today, a tough workout (yes, I haven’t given up on Insanity…yet) and as tired as I was, I spent about an hour cooking and arranging her lunch for tomorrow. I know I could’ve been watching a movie and drinking wine instead, but that won’t give me the smile I got this morning when she sees her new lunch theme tomorrow:


Bellies, and babies, and beaches…OH MY!

After about 15 minutes of lots of tickling and chasing around, my three-year old daughter rested her body on top of my belly. As she laid there, she asked me if I could take her to the beach. It was impossible not to think of a time not long ago (even though it feels as if it was ages ago), when she and I were at the beach, for the first time ever.

Laguna Beach, CA 2007 - 14 week old baby Mia in my belly

I was born and raised in Panama were two oceans are only a 2 hour car ride away from each other. So if you wanted to, you could bathe in the Pacific Ocean in the morning and then drive over to the Caribbean and swim in its warm and crystalline waters.  I have many fond memories of time spent with my parents and my  sisters at the beach. And if I was competing abroad and lost at an early round, you’re damn right I was going to  head straight to the local beach to check it out, usually accompanied by another fellow loser :(

Shark Week has officially scared the hell out of my husband, but I still hope my two little girls grow to love the ocean as much as I do. I hope for them to grow to respect the ocean and all of its living creatures, and I also hope they are able to think back and reminisce on a lot of beautiful memories.  I know they’re still little and will not remember anything, but I’m pretty sure I have given them a good start.

December 2007 - This was me 7 months pregnant with Mia - When I would get into the water, I could feel her move and kick a ton. She loved the ocean immediately!

 Mia was born in February of 2008 in Irvine, CA. But four months later, we made a trip and we took a similar picture:

June 2008 - 4 month baby now frolicking OUTSIDE of the belly

 Six months later, when Mia was about to turn 1, we made a trip to Panama again.

Isn't it amazing how fast they grow in just one year?

It didn’t take long for Matt and I to realize that, well…we kinda made a very good looking baby…and we should do it again! I was very pregnant when we decided to leave our home in California and move back to Florida. But, I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to deal with a move…so Mia and I headed to Panama where I would stay and give birth to our second child.  Although Mia missed her “papi” and I missed my love so much, we enjoyed being spoiled rotten by our friends and family. And of course, we took advantage of the beautiful beaches my country has to offer.

Dominika and I taking a stroll at 28 weeks

Unlike her big sister, Dominika didn’t move at all while we were at the beach. I remember getting nervous because I wouldn’t feel her move. So I would get out of the water, sit down and count her kicks just to make sure everything was ok. Even out of the belly, she is just not a big fan, and doesn’t like the sand…it gets her dirty :)

 This is one of my favorite pictures ever taken. Mostly because it is so sweet! My little Mia kissing her unborn baby sister. But I appreciate it more knowing that moments like that didn’t come often. I would ask her to kiss my belly, and she would turn to me and ask me to put my belly away.

Belly Kisses

After Dominika was born, we did a lot more moving around and I’m sad to say that we didn’t take her to the beach until she was a year old! And we didn’t make nearly half a fuss as we did with Mia when we first took her to the ocean. Then again, she is the second child, the one with less pictures taken and an almost empty baby book… I hope she forgives me someday.

Regardless,  here she is,  outside of my belly:

Little Dominika - all "tutued" up at the beach

I find it so beautiful that a human being can be tucked away warm and safe in its mother’s womb one minute; and not long after that I am able to embrace them and play with them and show them everything that I love or enjoy doing.  It is amazing to think of all these beautiful memories that we have created in only three years and I simply cannot wait to take many more OUT of belly pictures. And this all happened, because two people fell in love.

Laguna Beach, CA - 2007


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