Arroz Con Pollo! Arroz Con Pollo!

I’ve mentioned my grandmother, Yaya, had 9 kids, but did I mention she had 30 grand children.  This lady would cook for the entire family every Sunday almost without fail. Everything she made was incredible, however she did have her occasional critics.  While I love my family, we are a bunch of sarcastic hooligans, and this worsens with hunger. Hanger and sarcasm are hereditary, trust me.

A typical Sunday in a house filled with 50 hungry Cubans looked exactly as you would imagine.  You walked into the house and were greeted with the wave of loud conversation and laughter, plus the smell of whatever she had cooked that day and the lingering smell of whatever delicious dinner she made for my grandfather, Abuelo, the night before.  

There were people everywhere.  Some were already eating at the dining table, some had set up shop in front of the TV (definitely if it was football season), some at the bar in the kitchen, and everyone gossiping.  As you pile in you had to find Abuela and give her a huge hug (mandatory) and then find our plates and serve our food on a first come first serve basis. She always had more than enough, but liked us to have that fear of not getting food if we didn’t show up early.  

If you were a betting man, you would definitely guess that Yaya was likely going to make Arroz Con Pollo for lunch on Sunday.  I didn’t appreciate it back then as much as I do now. I took it for granted and always complained asking why she didn’t make Vaca Frita or Garbanzos.  In hindsight, I would give anything to have a plate of her Arroz Con Pollo just one more time. It’s the dish I miss the most, by far.

As a mom of three now, I totally see why she made this so often.  Besides being delicious and universally liked, it’s a one pot dish.  What mom doesn’t love hearing one pot! She was cooking for an army, so she had this cartoonishly big cast iron pot that would somehow feed us all. But for the sake of this recipe you can use a regular sized one.  

There aren’t any millennial modifications here.  Not just because this recipe makes me nostalgic, but it’s more about comfort than calories here.  

This recipe makes for 8 (probably a little more because Cubans always go overboard)

  • 1 tablespoon salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup Mojo Sauce
  • 6 chicken thighs bone in, skin still on
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups valencia rice
  • 1 teaspoon Bijol
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 beer (any works lately I use Modelo because it’s what I have)
  • ½ cup of dry white wine


Combine half the salt, half garlic powder, black pepper in a plastic gallon bag along with the ½ cup of Mojo. Shake until the mixture is well combined.

Pat the chicken dry and place in the bag with the spice mixture. Shake the bag, making sure the chicken is well coated.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch high-sided skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, using tongs. Use wine to break up the brown bits from the bottom.

Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and garlic and mix together.  Add the chicken back in and bring the heat down to a simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile rinse the rice in a strainer or bowl and add the bijol to get the right yellow color mix with your hands or a spoon.   Remove the chicken from the pot to shred it (optional you can leave it whole and leave it in the pot) Add the rice and cook until the rice begins to turn in color and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, bring the heat back to medium high.  Start adding the liquids. I do the beer first so that we can be sure it cooks out.  Then add the 4 cups of stock making sure the rice and chicken are covered. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. If you shredded the chicken cook until the rice is tender.  I like it a little soupy, but this is your preference to keep it covered until the rice absorbs more of the liquid. It takes anywhere from 20 to about 35 minutes. Let the skillet stand covered, about 10 minutes before serving.

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Unwritten Rules that Someone Needed to Write Down

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone did something that defies all common sense.  This action was so beyond common sense that it prompted you to say “How could you do that?” and they blankly stare back at you as if they didn’t know there was an unwritten rule about this action.  “What do you mean you didn’t know?” I feel there are a handful of these rules that absolutely offend me. Therefore, in order to rid these offenders of the excuse that “they didn’t know” because it’s an “unwritten rule” I am going to go ahead and just write them down, right now and give some clear examples:

Rule I

If I tell you that I am watching a TV show or about to watch a movie, do not under any circumstance tell me how it ends or what is going to happen.  Scenario:

Me: “Hi Chris.  Thanks for recommending Sons of Anarchy to watch.  I just finished season 2 and I’m hooked.

Chris: “Oh that’s great Cristina, let me know when you get to the part when &%$#@&! Dies.  That was a crazy scene.


Rule II

When we are at a restaurant and the waiter puts down our food and you look over and see my plate and think “Wow, that looks delicious” do not dare touch my plate and try my food before I have tried it.  I knew it was going to be delicious, that is why I ordered it. Take a minute. Control yourself. I will offer you a bite when I’m good and ready. Scenario:

Me: Hi waiter.  I’m going to be bad today.  Give me the cheeseburger and side of french fries.

Amy: Oh.  Good for you, Cristina! You deserve it!  Waiter, I can’t eat that I’m trying a glutten free thing.  Bring me a salad please with some grilled chicken.

Me: Wow Amy! So proud of you for sticking to your diet.

Food comes, waiter puts down the food, and Amy instinctively grabs a handful of fries.


Rule III

When you need a favor from me, and we aren’t best friends or really even friends and we barely speak to each other at all.  Don’t text me with “Hey there. How are you?” We all know this is code for I need something from you. Maybe you sort of care how I am doing, but had it not been for that favor you desperately needed you wouldn’t have texted me at all.  So let’s skip the small talk. I am totally fine doing you a favor just because you are you, and I am me. We don’t need to indulge in this merry go round of polite pleasantries. Text me how I am doing randomly, when you need absolutely nothing.  That is the best.

John: [text] Hey Cristina! It’s been a while, how are you?


Rule IV

Don’t ever give me parenting advice that I did not ask you for.  There is almost no exception to this rule. Keep all parenting opinions or thoughts to yourself unless explicitly asked. There are so many scenarios I could throw out here, but let’s go with this one:

Me: Oh my god.  I am so tired! My 4 month old just won’t sleep through the night.  I am so exhausted. This is so hard.

Jane: Oh well you should try what I did because my baby has been sleeping for 12 hours since she was 8 weeks old.  They say it’s luck but I know it’s good parenting.


Rule V

Inch Up- I would like to thank John Cena and Jimmy Kimmel for doing their part in spreading awareness on this issue [if you didn’t catch that click HERE].  When you are driving and you get to a red light do not stop so far behind the car in front of you. Inch up! When you’re making a left, don’t stay behind the line you may miss the turn, Inch up! Do your part.  I get it. Some people aren’t in a hurry, but some of us are perpetually late or trying to make it somewhere in a hurry and your inches could be the difference between us making the light or not!

Do you have rules? Send them over! Let’s do our part!

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The Day I had to Breakup With Instacart

It was a sad day.  The day I realized that I could no longer use Instacart.  This cuts deep. I am the person my entire apartment building silently judges behind my back for the amount of times Instacart gets delivered.  I get the phone call from the front desk “Cristina, your groceries are here, again.”

I know what it looks like.  I just didn’t care. I’m lazy.  There you see, I took the judgment right out of your mouth.  I’m completely and utterly aware of how lazy I am. However I thought Instacart was justifiable.  

I am a mother of three, and live in an apartment building where taking groceries up is not always easy.  Yes, my kids are in school now. Yes I could go on a morning after the gym, but I just got so used to this.  

I was also doing the math correctly, so I thought.  I thought I had understood that if you calculate the Taxes and the Fees each delivery it’s only about $10-$12 and if you pay for the Membership ($120 for the year) you are only paying the fees and the tip each time.  This is not cheap, however if you factor in that it saves me about an hour and a half of shopping and the headache of getting everything up into the apartment it just seemed to equal out.

Considering how much work I could get done. I told everyone I knew, Instacart is the way to go.  I’m so in love with it. The app is so amazing. Well you know what they say…. Love hurts.

Today after receiving my groceries, I unpacked everything, and went to rate the delivery.  I gave it 4 stars because my milk carton was damaged and can’t stand up straight, but my shopper was great.  I gave my driver an $8 tip and closed it out.

Then there it was, my delivery driver left the receipt in my bag.  I found that Publix only charged Instacart $162.40, and there was an ambiguous $11.99 Grocery Non Food item charge.  When I opened the Instacart App to try and figure out what that was, I saw Instacart had charged me $193 for this transaction.  As you can imagine I was not pleased. Who am I kidding I was f%&*#@%g pissed.

I took my 8 deep breaths and called them to see what was going on.  I got the nicest customer service rep, Dylan. Who in the nicest way possible told me [I’m going to paraphrase this.  Dylan I hope I do you justice] that Instacart charges more for groceries from Publix as their cost of doing business. To which I replied, “that doesn’t make sense.”  Publix is not charging you more for the groceries, it’s just Instacart charging more. “Why” I asked.

We aren’t talking about my groceries just costing an extra $5-10 we are talking about $40.  When you do that calculation $40 x every time I’ve used instacart over the last year and it comes out to $1,920 in the last year.  This is on top of the “member fee” I paid, on top of the tips, and on top of that service fee I sometimes forget to waive. By the way if you use instacart they hit you with a 20% service fee on each transaction that if you don’t expressly waived  it gets tacked on.

Things I could do with $1920:

  • Take my family on a pretty nice beach weekend
  • Buy a designer handbag
  • Sponsor 5-10 classrooms on
  • Buy a piece of furniture for my girl’s bedroom that they/I  have been needing/wanting
  • Most importantly, dDone my own damn grocery shopping an additional 6-7 times for the same price

Holy shit.  For the first time ever I am disgusted by my laziness.  I don’t like things that make me face my flaws head on.  I tell Dylan I am not blaming him, this isn’t his fault. He is convinced he is just explaining this poorly, that I should speak to the manager.  

So the manager comes on the phone, and I ask him to explain to me the non-grocery item.  To paraphrase “Sometimes the driver includes someone else’s items in the checkout. That’s why we never want them to leave the receipt inside the bags. OH IS THAT WHY? I’m starting to unravel at this point.  

I say, so then what you’re saying is, since all the rest of these items were actually mine, my cost for these groceries was actually $150 and so that’s just an additional $12 that I paid to Instacart.  So really, my “upcharge” as they so lovingly called it for this transaction was $40 plus the fees and the tip and the tax.

Oh but, Cristina, we say it really clearly on the app that we have higher than in store prices.  You see that image, you see that teeny tiny little white lettered warning, I should have known. This is my fault.  I have to be honest I had noticed that before, but again figured it was a harmless upcharge. Not $40 per transaction.  

I told the manager to kindly review my account.  To note how many times I’ve used instacart this year, and then to note I will never use Instacart again in my life.  There is no convenience in stealing people’s money. People who are just trying to feed their families. People who are too busy with work or other obligations.  

I would love to tell you that all of this has inspired me to get off my ass and go to the grocery store myself going forward.  But I’m not a liar. I’m probably going to Amazon or Shipt whoever will have me.

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Dawson’s Creek: That Time My Binge Went Too Far

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Dawson’s Creek and two things immediately filled my mind during what the internet so adorably dubbed #creekweek.  The first was obviously going to be “I don’t want to wait” that Paula Cole song that we all love to hate, go ahead and CLICK HERE  so you can listen to that as you read the rest of this article.  The other less interesting, but more obvious emotion that  entered my mind was “dam I am oldAF.”  Once these two thoughts subsided, I immediately remembered a rather low point in my life. More accurately [arguably] the lowest point in my TV binging career.  

I need to lay out a little backstory before we go any further. Dawson’s Creek came of age roughly around the time I was coming of age. I was a skinny, flat chested (this has not changed), smart and [obviously] hilarious girl.  As we all know this does not bring all the boys to the yard in high school. However I was one hell of a best friend which wasn’t always as fun as it sounds.  Anyways, I digress. TV was then as it is now my escape. So Dawson’s Creek means something to me. I stopped talking to my father for a week when he filmed over the VHS recording of the finale.  Back in this time there was no Tivo, DVR, Hulu or YouTube. I couldn’t just find another copy.  This was devastating.

So in a wave of nostalgia, I decided to search for Dawson’s Creek as my retro binge.  What is a retro binge, glad you asked. It is a term I am coining right now, in this moment, to identify one of the many binges I always have circulating.  I have a system for binging, nothing here is random. Retro binge is a show I have seen before, typically from the 90’s early 2000’s that I am re-watching.  Has my TV habit offended you yet? Well hold on this story gets more offensive.  We are back to my wave of nostalgia, I wanted to watch Dawson’s Creek and scoured the internet.  It was no longer in syndication on any current channels, not on HULU or Netflix and at the time Amazon wasn’t a thing. I thought to myself, I’m just going to purchase one season. Famous.  Last.  Words. 

Guys, this hole was deep and it was dark, and it was so expensive.  That one season for $14.99 turned into 6 seasons. You know you have a problem when you know that your husband will get the Apple alert that you bought another season of Dawson’s Creek, and click confirm my purchase anyway.

Also Dawson’s Creek is from a time in TV when there were around 22 episodes per season because there was less TV shows back then and they just needed to fill time.  Are you ashamed of me yet? Please say yes, do not spare me the harsh judgment I deserve.

My only saving grace in this story, is that I stand by my assertion that this show as it was extremely flawed, is excellent.  The characters paddle their way into your heart, and despite their many annoying conversations, or poor decision making or just really boring life drama, you just love them.  Call it nostalgia or an outright refusal to admit when I’m wrong, this one is worth making your retro binge list.  And so it is with this semi-proud,  semi-shameful introduction that I bring you the fruit of my labor.  Some things I learned watching Dawson’s Creek as a full fledged adult. 

1-  The opening credit: You are thinking of that song that is still playing in the background.  Well hate to be the one to break it to you. That song is no longer the theme song for our beloved cast of misfits.  Why? Oh don’t worry I googled this immediately, back in the day the rights to theme songs were only considered for “on air” and syndication uses.  The idea of DVD sales and especially online streaming were not even a blip on the radar. Paula Cole’s fee was too high a price to pay and they settled for Janna Ardan’s “Run Like Mad”. See what this looks like here.

2- Cry Face Originated here:   James Vanderbeek’s cry face was Claire Dane’s cry face before Claire Danes and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

3- So Many Familiar Faces:  Besides the fact that basically the entire cast went on to do their fair share of major things, which proves again that this show was epic, they had some pretty interesting guest stars:

4-  The finale can still make you cry, and not just cry but UGLY cry.  SPOILER ALERT for the 5 people who probably haven’t seen this.  Jen Lindley, was so misunderstood throughout her time at the creek.  She just couldn’t find a guy to love her the way she deserved.  She had me forever when she sang “Teenage Wasteland” standing on top of a chair in college [watch that here] So watching her say goodbye to her daughter and each of her creek compadres was heart wrenching even though it was the 22nd time I had seen it.  Something about seeing that as a mother was particularly brutal.  This was such a beautiful finale, gut wrenchingly sad, and I could have lived with an ending that was much more uplifting, but beautiful nonetheless.

5-  They were the most incestuous friends of all time, yet it never did and still does not bother me.  First Dawson dated Jen, and then he realized he was in love with Joey. While Pacey had a really random fling with a teacher (the first of many times you wonder where their parents are). Joey and Dawson dated, that ended.  Joey dated Jack while Pacey dated Andy while Jen dated Scott Foley and then Henry (the love sick freshman). Jack is gay so Joey breaks up with him. Then Pacey and Joey finally get together and leave on a boat for the summer (no parents).  Somehow Dawson pulls Pacey’s hot older sister who is in college and they hang out for a while.  Jen is single and becomes a loose cannon again, which btw only meant getting drunk at prom. Joey and Dawson kiss right before leaving to college… They go to college, will they won’t they Dawson and Joey try again.  There’s a slightly interesting moment Joey might date her college professor, but back to Dawson.  Then Dawson is dating an annoying actress while Joey flings with Chad Michael Murray and then onto Oliver Hudson.  Pacey dates Audrey (Joey’s roommate). Pacey and Audrey break up, somehow Pacey and Joey are locked in a K-Mart and we remember that’s who we are rooting for. Sigh. It doesn’t happen fast forward many years and it takes Jen’s death for Joey to finally admit what we always knew… it’s Pacey.  If I saw anything as clearly as I saw that coming, I would be wildly successful and filthy rich for “something”.

PS: it should be noted that almost to the day of me finishing Dawson’s Creek in all of it’s glory,  it appeared on Hulu (yet another reason for you to go get HULU!!)

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I Blacked Out… Again.. at Target

I was sitting in my car just staring out the window, and the sound of an old Taylor Swift song snapped me out of a trance.  “What just happened”.  I looked at the time, and realized I had lost an hour of my day. The last thing I remember I was pulling into the parking lot and heading to Target to grab laundry detergent and paper towels.  The next thing I know, I am sitting in the parking lot, a little [more] disheveled, with an AMEX alert on my phone that says $225 spent at Target. “What. Just. Happened.”

I can already hear my husband “just paper towels huh, what is this banana slicer for?”  I won’t have an answer either, in the moment I just felt like I needed this tool, you know, to help slice bananas quickly.  I have three kids, I need to save time where I can. This banana slicer is revolutionary, and will save me seconds of my day.  Just peel the banana, put it in the slicer and BOOM! Sliced bananas. I had to have it. Oh my god! And it was only $4.99. What a bargain!  He will glare back at me and ask “But where are the paper towels?” I’m staring blankly as I suddenly remember, that I didn’t even get the one thing I had gone to Target looking for.  Now he is looking at me like I have lost my damn mind, and he won’t be wrong. Target has struck again.

Target, you wiley mistress.  You sly temptress. You fill me with lattes, and calming music and give me this not very large, but just large enough red cart for me to fill with endless amounts of trinkets that I can somehow justify to myself within seconds of seeing that I must have.

Target, how do you do it?  I feel like we should all call for an inspection of the air.  Is there a special chemical that you are pumping through the vents that immediately shifts my mood and causes me to spend money like I’m a newly made rapper at a club for the first time. Because when I am there I am Making. It. Rain.  Throwing money around like it don’t mean a thing. I’m a wanna-be baller, shot caller. I’m drinking champagne when I’m thirstay type of money spending.

Throw pillows, yes.  New frames, obviously.  Fake plants- throw that right in here.  Now that I’m in this aisle, my bathroom does need a freshening up.  Oh look school supplies [college savings plan be damned] they need this new pencil case and all the crayons, folders, markers, and construction paper that will fit in my cart. Which makes me wonder why Lisa Frank hasn’t made a comeback yet, but I digress.  What?!?! There’s a whole Chip and Jo section! They make plates?! I could probably use new dinner plates, and napkin holders, and these place mats! Look at these candle holders? They are gold which doesn’t currently match my decor, BUT I can fix that. I can buy these gold candle holders and coordinate it with the gold frames I saw back there, and look at these little gold decorative book-ends.  Wow I really love the way this all looks, what else here is gold? Ok that’s good. I’m checking out now. Oh wow but look at this wall of La Croix I need one of each please, except the Coconut (nobody likes the coconut).

I make my way to the checkout counter, avoiding eye contact with all other women who have also failed their Target objective.  I mean look at that lady with all the clear bins, diapers, a lamp shade, socks, a beach bag, that gold elephant and the new Nate Berkus frames.  I bet you she was here for just the diapers and probably forgot the wipes. No judgment lady. I am in the struggle.

Once the cashier finishes scanning my items, she looks right at me “Want the Red Target Card save 5% off your purchases” and each and every time I contemplate it not for the savings but to avoid the inevitable eye roll I have coming when my husband gets home.  Sigh, no just ring me up. I’ve made my bed… at least I got a new throw pillow to lay on.

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Tales from a Camping Quitter

It was just a regular Wednesday night, and there we were eating dinner when my husband looks up and says, “Let’s take the kids and go on an RV this summer.” Naturally, my first reaction is to burst out laughing.  I mean you have to understand my husband is in no way Davy Crockett.   I love this man deeply, but he is a tech guy who has a deep affection for his laptop and internet. He has never been camping a day in his life, we don’t own a BBQ nor does he have or know how to use any pertinent camping equipment.

As for me, I am a bonafide city girl.  I understand the appeal of roughing it… for other people. However I could have told you before this trip with absolute certainty that I am not one of those people.  Perhaps it is my affinity for central air conditioning, non-communal hot showers, working WIFI, television, and of course a closing a door.  Call me crazy, I like a little luxury on my vacation.

Then, there are our children, Blake, 4, Dylan, 3, and Tristan 1 ½ . Only one is fully potty trained. I do more laundry in a week than a professional wash and fold does in a month.

Anyway to put the entire conversation in a nutshell, on June 27 my husband pulled up to our building in a 30 ft RV, and the trip began.

Here are 9 things I learned about myself, our family and ‘Merica on our trip

  1. Cruise America: when rookie or non-professional people want to rent an RV and cruise around America, this is where they go. The most common question we get is, where did you get the RV? Well we picked up our RV, Bertha, as I so affectionately named her, at Miami’s finest Cruise Americapick up point and we were off!
  2. There is such thing as RV envy.  I mean our RV was nice, Big Ups to Cruise America! But after having been now to more camping grounds than I thought I would ever see, I can tell you people have AMAZING RVs. These bad boys had rooms and beds for everyone, flat screen TVs, and all state of the art. I found myself looking at these RVs longingly (what was wrong with me).
  3. The elusive water heater. The first day we learned the hard way that once you hook into the “shore line” you should just turn your water heater on (if you plan to shower). My husband took the kids to the pool while I was preparing dinner. He came back and we were getting ready to bathe them (which is almost always like an episode of WWE) and we find the water is freezing. So to avoid this:

Make sure you turn that heater on. It takes about an hour to get going.

  1. The internet is not found everywhere. There may be the appearance of internet everywhere, however it’s like a dangling carrot when you are sitting on an RV in the middle of a campground. We burned through more than 10 gigs of data aboard Bertha. I got enough WIFI on one night to watch Netflix. Anyone who knows me, knows that getting through two weeks without any TV would be nearly impossible. Hi, my name is Cristina, and I’m a TV-aholic.
  2. I hate potty training. Potty training is only that much harder on a moving vehicle, and actually brings you to your knees begging your toddler for mercy. We had to make a pit stop for some groceries, particulary we had to find a coffee maker, coffee, and of course food. We stopped at a Winn Dixie, and my husband and I got all the essentials. At checkout, my semi-potty trained 3 year old looks at me in a panic and shouts “POO POO”, as she clenches her adorably plump butt. It’s one of those parenting moments where you don’t even have time to worry about the embarrassment, you just go into action. I put her over my shoulder and sprinted to the back of the Winn Dixie with a 3 year old chanting poo poo. We made it. As I strutted through the store, singing “poo poo in the potty” in my mind, I realized we still had ten more days before we returned to a reliable toilet.
  1. You can argue about poop. There is nothing fun about connecting a sewer pipe that transports the entire family’s “poo” and even less fun draining and disconnecting it. My husband tried to put a ban on pooping on the RV. This lasted an entire day. Again, call me crazy but I like a little privacy when I go. Our fight had us saying things like “you need to go poop in the community bathroom”, “No babe, please I need to have a little privacy when I go.” Married 7 years and proud to say that before this trip we never really discussed this. For those wondering, he stuck to his rule and never once dropped a deuce on Bertha.                                
  2. Camping is a way of life. We met quite a few great people on our journey, and through each conversation or simply just observing them it was clear this wasn’t their first rodeo.  One man even semi-mocked us by saying “Oh that’s your rental over there.” Yup sure is! We were shamed for having a rental! We walked with our heads held a little lower that day.
  3. I love my family.  Not that I didn’t know this before the trip.  However spending 24 hours a day with these 4 other people in a tiny 150 sq ft RV could drive anyone crazy.  Somehow we are closer than ever.  Were there times where we wanted to jump out of the RV while it was moving, yes.  We spent so much time in all these different places, together.  Definitely makes it one of the best trips of my entire life.
  4. I also really love hotels. 10 days in and life on Bertha was grinding on us. It was a very rainy day, the campground was covered in mud, and laundry was piling up. It was this glorious day that my husband looked at me and said “do you want to skip our next 2 campgrounds and go to a hotel tomorrow?” In that moment, I remembered why I loved him so deeply.  For he was not a camper either! The next day I used every ounce of data I could find to find a hotel.  We were no longer going to Berman, GA to stay in a campground we were going to Atlanta to stay at a hotel in. I have never been so happy to see a hotel in my entire life.  We opened the door to our room, and it hit me I was not the only one happy about being in a hotel:



My husband brought up Starbucks (naturally) and we went to dinner.  That night we relished in being camping quitters.

After all the “poo” I talked, I would do it again. Maybe not next summer… While camping is not my favorite thing in the world (had I mentioned that yet?) in a couple of years when the kids are a little bigger, I think an RV trip could definitely be our thing. However there’s no way it’s going longer than 6 days, got that husband? We all get a little uncomfortable go see amazing new places and just be together. Not bad. Actually sounds pretty dreamy. Until we meet again, Bertha.

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Surviving Weekly Newsletter: Volume 1 (3.19.18)

Top o’ the Morning To You!

It was St. Patty’s Day this weekend!!! I’m a mother so this means nothing to me, I went to a very civilized dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday and came home.  But to those who drank green beer and went after it this weekend… I hope you have some good coffee, Advil, and dark sunglesses with you this morning because if you’re reading this newsletter you are probably over 27 and once that has happened to you- you just don’t bounce back like you used to.  So hold on tight, today is probably going to suck just a little more than a regular Monday sucks.

But luckily for you I come bearing gifts…

Some Things To Get You Through This Week

Pilot Season Is Upon Us

What does this mean, I am going to fall on the sword and try to watch as many of them as I can so I can tell you what to avoid. Don’t thank me- honestly, it’s an honor to serve.  Remember I am doing this for you. So far here’s what I have for you:

Rise:  Think dramatized Glee. Ted Mosby (not his name on this show but he will forever be Ted Mosby- if you do not know who this is please google and correct the situation)  is now a high school English teacher feeling uninspired and wanting just a little something more- so he takes on the theatre department, who is currently run by [brace yourselves] Rosie Perez enter a little drama and poof- beautiful inspiration ensues.  Now this show has been overhyped everywhere- do not listen to the hype.  This show is good- it’s watchable.  It’s uplifting and the kids can sing (it’s the girl who voices Moana).  I am going to give this a Proceed with Cautious Optimism flag…

For the People: I wanted this show to be good, so badly.  I will tell you again in case you haven’t read my Confessions of a TV Addict Blog  I am a Shonda Rhimes groupie.  So this show was coming out of her team, and it’s about do-gooder lawyers and they’re all young and attractive (like every single do-gooder lawyers is) with attractive superiors so naturally this show was going to be a homerun.  Sigh, it is not.  It’s about as lame as one of the lead characters name, Sandra Bell.  Look if I am being totally honest, I will probably continue watching because, as we have established, I have a problem.  However, brutal opinion: SKIP!

Premiering this Week

Billions– Back for Season 3 this Sunday, March 25 on Showtime. Billions first two seasons were incredible, if you hadn’t caught it yet I highly recommend!

Station 19– Series Premier this Thursday, March 22 at 10 following Scandal. Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, about young attractive Firefighters around the corner from Sloane Memorial.  Again, please see For the People- this will likely be terrible but I can’t [not] watch.

Rule # 1 for this newsletter: If there is ever a show you feel we should be watching- Always let us know.

Recipe of the Month

Each month, I hope to bring you a recipe that has worked well for us here in our little circus of a home.  Some times I may surprise you and you may get more than one recipe.  This will strictly depend on my level of confidence in the kitchen that month.  However for now, let’s say “month”.  This month- My Abuela’s Picadillo I made a few tweaks here and there because well, health, but this meal is consistently a fave.

In Miami, not all Heroes Wear Capes

Recently in Miami, a man tried to commit a hit and run, but the people of Miami had a different fate in mind.  It involves a few courageous citizens blocking his escape, but the true hero brought down the hammer [literally].  Check out the full article and video here

In Case You Were Feeling Good About Your Finances

Blue Ivy Carter bid $17,000 on an acrylic painting of Sidney Poitier, and then just for fun, raised the bid on herself to $19,000.
You can find the uplifting story on how a 6 year old is living your best life here

What You Should Watch on Netflix

Dave Chappelle is kind of a controversial guy.  I mean he made his way up the stand up comedy ladder, had a hit show on Comedy Central, and just walked away to go to Africa [or something crazy] leaving behind a $50 million offer to stay.   Whatever you think about Chappelle I urge you to put that aside and watch this two part special on Netflix.  My husband and I totally disagree on which one was funnier. Since I have the better sense of humor, take it from me Equanimity is flat out one of the funniest stands ups I have seen in a long time.  However The Bird Revelation definitely had its moments.
Chapelle covers everything from perfectly describing what it felt like to vote in the last presidential election, to finding his son’s rolling papers and it had us crying of laughter.  Each episode is only an hour which is just enough time for you to watch in bed, while only falling asleep for the last couple of jokes. Sorry Chappelle, you are hilarious but after a certain amount of time of me laying in bed falling asleep is just a certainty. Catch it ASAP and let us know which one you thought was better!

Stefon Returns for St. Patty’s Day

You don’t have to be an avid SNL watcher to appreciate Stefon in this clip of SNL from this weekend’s Weekend Update.  Full disclosure, I love Bill Hader, and it’s mostly because he can’t make it through a scene without laughing.  Hit the link for a little St. Patty’s Day giggle…

Lil Dicky Premiers His “Freaky Friday” Video And Kendall Jenner Has a Sense of Humor 

Lil Dicky premiered his video for the song “Freaky Friday”.  I will venture to say that there are some of you that don’t know who Lil Dicky is.  He is a white comedian turned rapper who tells you with his rap name what he’s carrying in his pants.  He’s made songs with Snoop Dog and in 2015 he dropped his first real album, which my husband loved.  Naturally, I hated it.  So unlike with my affinity for Shonda, I really wanted to hate this.  Sigh.  I couldn’t the song is actually pretty catchy and the video is hilarious.  You may or may not have heard people talking about it since it features Chris Brown with cameos by Ed Sheeran and DJ Khaled.  But the real reason is because Kendall Jenner discusses exploring her vagina.  Click here to watch!

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Thank you for following along! I’m hoping to get more and more information on  here that is not important at all BUT sparks a little joy on your Monday mornings.  If you want to forward to someone you think may enjoy, please do! I hope you stay along for the ride…

PS Next Monday we are doing another GIVEAWAY!! Trivia contest on our IG story… the answers may or may not be in our newsletter!

Confessions of a TV Addict

Confessions of a TV Addict

Hi, my name is Cristina, and I am a TV-aholic.  But can you blame me? This is the golden age of television, seriously it’s a glorious time to be alive people.  Every time I turn on the TV there is a new commercial or ad showing me a new show that just will fulfill me in the way that no other television show can.  Netflix emails are becoming my favorite emails, because it’s as if their algorithm sees into the inner workings of my soul. I sound sick huh? Yeah, my husband felt (feels) the same way.  So he took matters into his own hands, and cut the cord. Can you believe him?! The nerve of this man. He justified it by saying not only will he be saving my brain from a slow painful death but also we would be “saving money”,  I get it raising three kids is kind of a fortune, but we all know that true motivation was to cut down on his having to watch one more Shonda land drama in bed.

I want to sit here and tell you that I took it in stride.  I mean it’s just TV, and if I am being honest, was watching too much of it.  I was watching everything, and if I wasn’t watching it yet, it was on my list.  That’s right I have a list. The list is not written down anywhere (that would be embarrassing) it’s a running list in my mind of the shows I need to watch once space opens up.  My own personal Netflix cue.

So back to my meltdown post cable and DVR intervention.  It was ugly. So I did the only thing I could do, resolve.  I discovered Hulu and Netflix (this was almost 4 years ago).  Turns out thanks to modern day technology, I actually wasn’t missing much.  Not to mention that my apple TV let me watch HBO and other stations ON Demand.  His plan had backfired. I was now watching more TV than ever and it was actually easier than ever since I no longer relied on my fickle DVR.  I no longer had to worry when a show was airing, or if my DVR would catch it, or delete it before I saw it. My husband in trying to help his TV addict wife, actually enabled me to be the best TV addict I could be. And now I am here to share with you the fruits of my labor.  

While I may have over dramatized the depths of my addiction, I obviously had to cut some shows because I am a mom and my time is now precious. TV is how I chose to wind down after a crazy day.  If you find yourself in a similar boat, I hope you enjoy this list of what I currently call my favorites (this changes from time to time). The following is a list of shows that survived post mom apocalypse.  In case you were looking for something to dive into, and by dive I mean binge down like only a true TV champ could.

  1. Grey’s Anatomy: I am going to catch shit for this one. Especially making it number one out the gate.  Grey’s and I have been through it all together. It started while I was still in college. For those of you that can remember, this show had everything you needed.  Hot doctors, forbidden love affairs, and just the right amount of humor behind all the drama. Grey’s took a turn. We all know it. I am not blinded by my die hard love and affection for Shonda Rhimes (we can explore this at another time).  However I stuck through, because I value loyalty above all, and Meredith Grey is my GIRL! And I am happy to report that Grey’s has made a major comeback. Last season I found myself dying to know what was going to happen, more so than other shows (cough cough, Scandal you have forsaken all of us).  So I would urge you to catch up on the episodes if you dropped off. Because McDreamy died, and while this was devastating we all know Meredith was way more fun single.
  2. A Hand Maid’s Tale: I don’t know where to begin with this beautiful diamond in the rough.  This was actually a fruit of my husband’s labor, as it is solely found on Hulu. Before you right this off, this show on it’s own makes the $13 fee to hulu worth it.  Also you could watch it within the free two week trial period no problem (it is that good). Big talk? No way. The acting is BEYOND and the story is set in a future world that would scare the shit out of you (maybe depending on your sex or your level of feminism).  The first season is finished, so you are free to binge the shit out of this immediately. Like stop what you are doing and GO! Also to back up by hard core recommendation this show just took home all the Emmy’s- literally all of them.
  3. Game of Thrones: this wasn’t going to make the list because at this point how Basic am I to suggest this show.  However I cannot make an accurate list of shows you should be watching without putting this on. It would eat away at my integrity (yes you can have integrity within your TV addiction).  I started this show on a dark and stormy night when I was bed rested and waiting for my second child to make her appearance. Here I am 5 years later, proud mother of 3 dragons watching another Mother of actual dragons run the world.  And loving it! Guys to be honest, once the last episode of Game of Thrones ends, send help. I feel like my heart may not be able to take it.
  4. Younger: Have you heard of Younger? Younger is about a beautiful, smart 40 year old mom post divorce who is trying to get back into the publishing world she left behind to raise her daughter.  However she can’t get her foot in the door because of her age, and so she tells a little white lie that she is 25 and as you can imagine hilarity ensues. I realize as I am typing that the premise is absolute garbage, BUT it’s actually so good.  It’s light and funny and she’s dating a 25 year old tattoo artist that is just dreamy. It’s just what you need after a long day of stepping on legos… current season on TV Land but the ones before are also found on Hulu so this $13 subscription is just paying for itself at this point.
  5. Westworld: It’s the new fantasy show on HBO, and I really hesitated to put this on the list because I’ve already mentioned Game of Thrones.  I also hesitated to add it to the list because I really can’t even be sure I fully understood what happened, but I feel that is what catapults this show into TV gold.  I will not tell you the premise of the show because it will not help my case. The show is led by Anthony Hopkins, excuse me, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Thandie Netwon and Rachel Evan Woods, which all on it’s own should be enough to give it a shot but as an added bonus, James Marsden plays a chivalrous cowboy (yes!). This show is layer upon layer of storyline.  It’s so well written and acted that only A Handmaid’s Tale could have beaten it. The new season starts in April so this may be the perfect time to start.
  6. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This show was on my list for about a week, because at least 3 verified TV addicts that I associate with suggested it.  Per my strict protocol this moves a show straight to the top, and it was dead on. First it is set in the 1950’s which is a dream era for costume and the set design is beyond.  To top it off it follows a housewife turned stand up comic (think Joan Rivers), and it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with her. Also just as a bonus Tony Shalhoub plays her father- which if you have sunk down the TV hole as far as I have you know this means quality.  You can find Mrs. Maisel on Amazon, comes with your Amazon Prime membership- I assume you’re an Amazon Prime member because, who isn’t.
  7. This is Us: I had honestly written off network TV because I felt they just weren’t bringing their A game.  They got lazy and all their shows were generic and predictable (sorry Shonda). Then I saw the first episode of This is Us and it was over for me.  I couldn’t love Milo Ventimiglia more unless he was playing Jess from Gilmore Girls on this show. But in all seriousness the show tackles real life family issues from race to health to just how damn hard marriage can be.  Grab the tissues and do it.
  8. Friday Night Lights: This show somehow slipped under my radar when it first aired and I have no excuse for it, because I didn’t even have kids at the time.  Somehow Coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tammy didn’t walk into my life until about a year ago when I binged the entire show in a month on Netflix. I didn’t mis-type.  Actually watched the whole show in a month. Another shout out to the hubby for pulling the plug on me. If you had told me I would fall in love with a group of high school football kids just doing their dam best to get through high school in small town Texas, I would never have ever believed you.  Here I am to tell you, full hearts, clear eyes, CAN’T LOSE!
  9. Sons of Anarchy: Jax Teller rode his Harley into my life about a month ago and I am already half way through this entire series.  I had a couple well respected TV authoritative friends tell me that I had to watch this show throughout the years. I couldn’t get passed the motorcycle crew storyline.  There was no way I was going to be interested in that. BOY was I wrong. Forget that Charlie Hunnam plays a smart, sensitive, murderous, grungy looking biker that you absolutely fall in love with, it’s more than that.  The cast is incredible, and you just become so invested in this group of degenerate bikers that I am currently looking all over the internet for a t-shirt that says SAMCRO so that I can rock my support around town.
  10. Breaking Bad: Walter White is the chemistry teacher that would have bored you to death in high school, but the most bad ass mofo of a crystal meth producer you will ever see.  This show is heavy, I can’t call this a bingeable show because this shit is dark.  But the writing is insanely good and the acting is unbelievable.  I end up somehow rooting for the drug making menace of a man over his rational pragmatic wife and the rest of the world.  Seriously, if you haven’t somehow seen this show, move it up on your list (I know you have one, we all do).

Well back to my husband’s intervention…. For two years I had made my peace with nothing but basic cable and my Apple TV hacks.  I was happy go lucky, it had been a solid 6 months since I had last complained.  Then there was sudden knock on my door. It was AT&T Uverse, turns out the only one who couldn’t hack a pulled plug was my husband.  

PS – I lied I have a list on my phone, hidden in my notes of TV shows that I need to see.  Up next for me is the Santa Clara Diet

Surviving Cristina

Me in a Nutshell

I’m Cristina.  I’ve been married to my husband, Robert, for 10 years, and some would call him a saint.  I wouldn’t, I would actually make the argument that I should receive an award or something, but most people, most people would say he deserves a statue erected in his honor.  I loathe those people, but they’re probably not wrong.  We have three amazing children together, Blake (a girl) 7, Dylan (also a girl) 5 and Tristan (a boy) 4.  If you are wondering if he was named after Brad Pitt’s character in Legends of the Fall, the answer should be obvious.  If you are doing the math we had 3 kids 3 and under, and it is exactly as hard as that sounds.

I always wanted to be a writer.  But I was the first in my immediate family to have the opportunity to go to college, and writing seemed a little like a dream. Naturally, I went to law school {insert sad face emoji here} as this seemed logical, mature, responsible (at the time).  Fast forward through the some pretty brutal and boring years of my life, and I survived the bar and began practicing.  

Once I had Blake, I tried to work out a deal to work from home.  My boss shot this down, and my husband took this as an opportunity to keep me pregnant for what felt indefinitely but was just around 3 years.  I never went back to being a lawyer, because well, I hated it. Don’t feel bad for the law, it hated me too and I didn’t mind.  I decided to focus on my kids who were so little and time is just so precious.  Somewhere between changing Dylan and Tristan’s diapers or cleaning Blake’s poopy accidents (as potty training children is the bain of my existence) I realized that I needed something in my life that involved adult conversation and absolutely no one else’s bowel movements.  I launched an online business called Baby Love Luna where I sold baby and kid clothing and accessories.  I absolutely loved running my own business, and learning how it all works.  However it grew a little too big too fast, and then my kids grew a little too big too fast and I decided it was best to close down shop.  

Which brings me here.  Surviving Cristina.  On some days a guide for to survive life with a circus of monkeys that make demands and basically run your life.  On some days it’s daily observations and things I’ve learned along the way.  Most times it is a place for me to go and unleash all my thoughts so that my husband doesn’t have to pretend he is listening to my rants at night.

I’m a, wife to one, mother to three, self-diagnosed TV addict, a hater of fitness but a prisoner to it’s benefits, home cook, with a nonexistent organizational habit and just trying to survive this life.  

Welcome to the madness.

Every week (if I can) I send out an email with some cool articles, recipes, book recommendations, or just shit that flat out made me die laughing.  If you want to receive Surviving Weekly just sign up here.