Goal Get It

It’s what some might call “Resolutioners Season” at the gym but hey, you gotta start somewhere right?! So if you need to embrace that #NewYearNewMe life, then have at it! After a little over a year of being married, enjoying life and eating all the foodz I haven’t gotten around to working out as regularly as I used to. I’ve decided to make a resolution to workout at least twice a week.

For all you gym junkies…I know this may not seem like a big commitment, but not going to lie, in 2017 there were weeks, possibly months at a time, that I didn’t workout at all. 😬



Only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, according to one commonly cited statistic. So rather than making a promise to workout everyday, I’ve decided to commit to making a small lifestyle change that will result in a bigger change.

I’m off to a good start so far, around Christmas time I signed up for the #Shredfor2018 challenge with my sister @urbanohana! The challenge started December 23rd and ends on January 5th. 14 days and 6 classes to complete the challenge. I’m proud to say I’ve completed the challenge!! Woohoo! 🎉

Here’s how I’m committing to my goal:

  • Schedule Sweat Dates: It’s easier for me to commit to going to class if I have made plans to meet my sister or a friend. It’s also a great way to catch up with friends I’ve been meaning to meet up with! Sooo…who wants to go to class with me?!

First class is free at Shred415! (New clients only)

One week free at CorePower Yoga! (New Clients Only)

Message me if you are interested in taking a class together!!

  • Sign up for challenges at the studio: monthly challenges at the studio have helped me stay on track and schedule workouts in my calendar ahead of time. Now that I’ve completed the Shred415 challenge, next up is to hit the mat 10 times at CorePower Yoga. Right now they have a challenge where you can “choose your own”: 10, 20, or 30 classes.

Alright 2018, let’s do this!

2017 Travels

As 2017 comes to an end, I wanted to look back on all the adventures and traveling I did this year. From exploring the streets of a new city, indulging in various eats, to visiting museums and more…the stories and memories made are what makes each trip special.

Here’s a look back on my 2017 travels, including a few of the restaurants & sites I recommend to visit!

New Orleans, Louisiana

1. District donuts sliders brew: if you’re in NOLA, do yourself a favor and head over to Magazine St. so you can enjoy donuts from District Donuts! They change the menu daily, you can check their Instagram to see the donuts on the menu. We were also lucky enough to go a few weeks before Mardi Gras, so we picked up a King’s Cake with some of the most unique and delicious flavors: pandan, ube & lemon.

2. Johnny’s Po-Boys: This place has been around since 1950. It’s a casual counter-serve restaurant and they are famous for their po-boys!

3. Oak Alley Plantation: A historical experience where you can explore the 25 acres and learn about the impact of the Civil War. Highly recommend taking a guided tour, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

Los Angeles, California

1. Kazunori Handroll Bar: this place is awesome!! Choose from a set menu from 3-6 handrolls. The fish is fresh and the rice is warm, the quality is on point. If you like sugarfish, you’ll love kazunori.

2. Smorgasburg LA: it’s a market for food and shopping, but mainly food. 😜 shrimp Daddy, Chichi Dango, Donut Friend, wokaholic and mama musubi are just a few of many food booths that I tried. Hands down, shrimp daddy & chichi dango are the ones worth waiting for. If you love hawaiian style garlic shrimp and shaved ice then you will love these!

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

We traveled to Bora Bora for our honeymoon. Bora Bora is a destination I have always dreamed of visiting and this trip was a dream come true. We flew to LA and stayed for a few days then out to Tahiti to break up some of the flying.

1. Conrad Bora Bora Nui: if you are looking to experience pure beauty and relaxation, this is the place. I have never seen such beautiful clear blue water, stunning scenery and white sand beaches. The overwater bungalows are unlike any other place I’ve stayed. It was amazing to wake up every morning with the ocean outside the window and being able to dive right into it.

Seattle, Washington

1.Piroshky Piroshky: located in Pike Place market, this little Russian bakery has some delicious pastries they make daily. Get there early because the lines get crazy!

2. Biscuit Bitch: I loved everything about this place. From the signs that said “order here bitch” to the cheesy grits. They have a “trailer park to table” mentality and I absolutely loved it. Prepare for a food coma after.

3. Chihuly Garden & Glass: if you’re already visiting the Space needle, the Chihuly Garden and glass is a site you won’t want to miss. The sculptures are so intricate and beautiful.

Barcelona, Spain

1. La Tasqueta de Blai: endless pinxtos and sangria! It’s a self-serve casual pinxtos bar. One thing I loved about it too is that since I’m allergic to nuts, the server was nice enough to walk over to the buffet and point out each item to stay away from.

2. Quimet y Quimet: a standing room only tapas bar. One of the coolest places that I’ve eaten at, choose from a wide selection of montaditos and tapas. Everything was delicious! Definitely order the goat cheese with honey and caviar.

3. So many sites to see in Barcelona and just outside of Barcelona, will have to do a separate post, but my favorites were of course Gaudí’s Casa Battló and Sagrada La Familia, Montserrat and the Salvador Dalí museum.

Looking forward to travel adventures in 2018!

Baked Hawaiian French Toast

For the past few years, I’ve been making this French toast recipe for the ohana on Christmas. It’s quick, easy and can even be prepared the night before!

I like using freshly grated cinnamon, add as little or as much as you’d like! Anytime we have King’s Hawaiian Bread in the house, Drama goes crazy because he’s obsessed with it.

If you’re preparing the night before, it’s a good idea to wash and chop all the fresh fruit toppings needed for the next day. For some added crunch, I add unsweetened coconut chips. You can use flakes too, but I recommend using an unsweetened version since there’s plenty of sugar in the toast and syrup! 🙂 We went to Tahiti over the summer and brought home some guava jam! For a tropical touch, I added a drizzle of the guava jam plus the amazing maple syrup my parents gave me from their recent trip to Canada.

Sticking with the tropical theme, instead of regular whipped cream as a topping, I love using whipped coconut cream. It can be found in the frozen section by the cool whip! It’s a great non-dairy alternative too.

Mele Kalimaka, Maligayang Pasko, Wesolych Swiat, Merry Christmas from my ohana to yours! 🎄🌴🍍

Baked King’s Hawaiian French Toast


  • 1 package of King’s Hawaiian bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of fresh grated cinnamon


  • Fresh cut strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Unsweetened coconut chips, toasted
  • Maple syrup
  • Guava jam
  • Whipped coconut cream


Preheat oven to 350F. Use a 9×13 baking dish and brush evenly with melted butter. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs. Add milk, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and grated cinnamon. Whisk ingredients together. Tear the loaf of King’s Hawaiian bread into small pieces and spread evenly in baking dish. Take the mixture and pour evenly over the bread until saturated. Sprinkle a little sugar over the top of bread. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm. Top with fresh fruit and toasted coconut chips. Add a small scoop of whipped coconut cream. Drizzle with syrup and jam. Enjoy!

Give something that means something

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American Red Cross Blood Drive at Old St. Patrick’s Church Chicago

Did you know that during the holiday season there is a decline in blood donations? Usually this decline occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. While we all get busy with holiday travel, unfortunately patients don’t get a break from needing transfusions. According to the American Red Cross, every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Next Tuesday, November 28, 2017 is #GivingTuesday, a global movement where you can help others through the gift of your time, donations, goods or voice.

For the past few years, I have been going to Blood Drives and donating to the American Red Cross. It only takes about half an hour and they usually have juice, treats, and sometimes gift cards just a thank you for taking the time to donate. To make an appointment at an upcoming blood drive visit, redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED-CROSS.

This year, I wanted to do something else to get involved in my community. I am thankful to have my immediate family to celebrate the holidays with but do miss my big ohana & friends back home in California.

At Filipino parties, food is the star of the party, next is the dancing and sometimes karaoke. My Lola used to make trays of lumpia (Filipino eggrolls) and more for the family. It also made me think of how my sister and cousins used to visit our Lola and take her out for sushi so she wouldn’t feel lonely.

I will be volunteering Thanksgiving morning at Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, Chicago Chapter. Their mission is to relieve isolation and loneliness among the elderly. They are a non-profit volunteer based organization where they host countless social gatherings, celebrations and holidays for the elderly.

morales fam


RIP Lola Lydia. Love & miss you.

“Our motto, flowers before bread, expresses our philosophy that people need the special pleasures in life in addition to the basic necessities. Love, dignity and beauty in life are as essential to life as physical needs.” -Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly


Getting ready for Thanksgiving

Countdown to Thanksgiving! Just a few more days until Thanksgiving Day & I’m in full prep-mode for the holiday! Growing up I’ve always loved watching Martha Stewart and would get excited about coming up with different crafts and ways to set the table for the holidays.

thankful tree

I saved the leaves from a craft I made as a kid for one of our Thanksgiving family parties. I drew a bare tree with branches and had everyone write on a leaf & share what they were thankful for.

Now living in Chicago, we’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for my ohana for the past few years. I got married last year in November and it was the first time I hosted Thanksgiving for my ohana plus my in-laws. I leave the turkey & ham up to my parents while I prepare all the sides!

Here’s how I prepare for Thanksgiving:

  • First, start with the menu & check with the ohana what items they will be bringing (my Polish ohana will be bringing some pierogi & roasted sweet potatoes; Mom & Dad will bring the ham & turkey!)
  • I write out my menu & make a list of ingredients & check the fridge and pantry for items I already have
  • Make a couple trips to the store: Last week I picked-up all the shelf stable items during one trip and today I picked up the floral, produce & dairy
  • Prepare sides ahead of time, will get started on some of the sides tomorrow night & Wednesday so that way I won’t have to prepare everything day of 🙂

I put together all the floral arrangements tonight in just under one hour (probably could have done it even faster but I was simultaneously arranging while watching the Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion..if you watch are you Team Shannon? or Team Vicki? lol) All you need are a couple of bouquets and vessels to create some beautiful arrangements! I grabbed a large bouquet of mums, winterberry twigs, cranberries & of course a pineapple. Mums are great because they are quintessential of fall and they last for more than a few days! It’s also much more cost-effective to create your own arrangement. I made three separate arrangements (including the pineapple) for a total of $24.95 by just using one large mum bouquet and winterberry twigs.

What are some of your Thanksgiving prep tips? Favorite recipes? Share in the comments below! 🙂


Table runner: Threshold for Target

Floral & pineapple: www.marianos.com

Pumpkins: $1 spot at Target!



Holiday Dip: Beet Dip with Roasted Cauliflower & Delicata Squash Chips

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Last week I got to meet some of my Instagram friends in real life at The #TipsySassyGoodLife Fall Dip Party! From the Bloody Mary bar to Dip Pong, it was fun getting some holiday inspiration from all the Instagrammers who attended the event.

I wanted to make a dip that felt warm with lots of color. It’s an easy dip that can be prepared even a night or two before!


  • 4-5 red beets, roasted
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice

1. Blend all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze half a lemon to brighten up!
2. Serve with delicata squash chips. To make the chips, slice squash using a mandolin and
toss in olive oil with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350F continually turning
chips until crispy. Save the seeds & roast to add some texture to the dip!
3. Top dip with squash seeds, goat cheese crumbles (I used Cypress Grove Purple Haze; the lavender & pollen add another layer of flavor) & parsley for garnish.

For all the #TipsySassyGoodlife dips, head over to The TipsyHousewife’s blog: https://thetipsyhousewife.org/holiday-dips/.

Photo by @angelagarbotphotography

#AlohaPopz, One year later

It’s been one year since the best day ever, my wedding day!! I can’t believe an entire year has flown by. Smoochies and I got married on 11/11/16 in Palm Springs, California where we exchanged our vows together with our families and friends. It was the perfect day and it would not have been possible without our amazing ohana and friends.

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

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Roxy + Ed-8521.jpg

Our wedding was truly a reflection of us, incorporating traditions from our cultures and celebrating our love for each other.

Hawaiian traditions: Ti Leaf and lava rock rite represents the union of two people and an eternal commitment. Lava rock represents the commitment of the bride and groom to each other. The purpose of Ti leaf and lava rock ritual is that it strengthens and blesses the union of the bride and groom.

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

Filipino Traditions:

The Wedding Coins, also known as Arras, symbolize the prosperity that will be shared by the new couple. The Wedding Coins symbolize the couple’s commitment to mutually contributing to their relationship, their children, and their community.

The Wedding Veil, represents everything and everyone who will protect them, their home, and their families.

The Wedding Cord, in the shape of a figure 8 (infinity) is a symbol of their intimate union and a sign of their bond to each other and their inseparable unity.

Polish Wedding Tradition – Bread, Salt & Vodka

With the bread, the family wishes that the bride & groom will never go hungry. The salt reminds the couple that their life may be difficult at times and they must learn to persevere.

One glass is  filled with water and the other with vodka. Whomever chooses the vodka will be the head of the household. (I got the water shot lol).

#AlohaPopz: Cake Topper-California Lustre; Wedding Cake-Over the Rainbow Desserts

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

Growing up in Southern California, my sister and I used to be part of a Halau (hula school) in our hometown and also part of Hawaii Club in college at UC Irvine. I wanted to do something special for Smoochies, so I surprised him by performing “E Pili Mai,” which means Sweetheart mine, come to me. I secretly took lessons from Lanialoha Lee at the Aloha Center in Chicago. 🙂

Happy Anniversary Smoochies, one year down & forever to go.

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

Philadelphia, Contigo PhotographyPhiladelphia, Contigo Photography

Philadelphia, Contigo Photography

Wedding gown: BHLDN, 8 E. Walton; Bhldn.com  // Shoes: Kate Spade, 56 E. Oak; Katespade.com // Hair & makeup: Chelsea Nicole Makeup & Hair; Chelseanicolemakeup.com // Groom’s & groomsmen’s attire: The Black Tux, 918 W. Armitage; Theblacktux.com // Bridesmaids’ dresses: Vow To Be Chic; Vowtobechic.com // Wedding planner: Abby Lee Events; Abbyleeevents.com // Cake: Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Desserts; Romanblas.com // Sweets: tropical glazed doughnuts, Chicago Cubs groom’s cake, Chicago mix popcorn and s’mores // Photographer: Florescio Films; floresciofilms.com/weddings // Entertainment: DJ belTRON, Soundcloud.com/beltron; Halau Hula a Kawika Laua ‘o Leinani Hoike, Kawikaleinani.com // Hula Lessons: Aloha Center Chicago, 1626 W. Lawrence; Facebook.com/alohacenterchicago // Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas; Weddingpaperdivas.com // Calligraphy: Calligraphy Chick; Instagram.com/calligraphychick

Moments at the museum

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit the local art museum. So I thought I’d share a few tips on how to fully enjoy moments at the museum.

Buy tickets online or get there early!

If there’s a particular exhibit/museum you want to see buy tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in line, or risk not getting into the museum at all.

The Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibition is currently at The Broad in LA. I was lucky enough to catch it on my trip to Seattle this summer at the Seattle Art museum. We didn’t have any tickets but woke up early and got in line about an hour & a half before the museum opened to get day-of tickets.

Also keep in mind discount days or Free days at the museum! Bank of America offers free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. (If you’re not big on crowds, try to avoid weekends & discount days)


Infinite Kusama: Seattle Art Museum

Make a list of what you want to see.

Try not to spend your entire day at the museum. At the Art Institute of Chicago there are thousands of pieces of artwork on display, to be honest it can be a bit overwhelming! Find out what exhibits/pieces are currently on display and make a list of what you have to see. Plus, after spending a few hours walking around I usually start to get a little tired & hungry (but then again I am always hungry…just don’t go to the museum when you’re hangry).


Jeff Koons: The Broad LA


Takashi Murakami: The Broad LA

Take some time away from the lenses.

Yes, I know that is me taking a selfie. After trying to snapchat & take a photo in the first installation I learned quickly that the 30 seconds goes by faster than you know. Also, at other museums I’ve found myself elbow to elbow with other visitors trying to fight to get a good shot. In those moments I try to remind myself to fully enjoy the experience without getting caught up in capturing the most insta-worthy shot.

Have fun!

When there are exhibits that are immersive, take it all in & have fun with it.


Dalí Theatre and Museum


Room of Obliteration: Infinite Kusama; Seattle Art Museum


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

dali museo

Dali Museum & Theatre

Do you have any tips on enjoying moments at the museum? What are your favorite museums?

8 Travel Essentials

It’s #TravelTuesday & I’m super excited because I’m headed to Barcelona this week with Smoochies! It will be my second time in Barcelona, I traveled there 10 years ago on a Mediterranean cruise with my family. I’m looking forward to enjoying delicious tapas, revisiting La Boqueria, Gaudí’s works and visiting the Dali Museum.

I’m almost done packing & wanted to share 8 of my favorite travel essentials!

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  1. lululemon vinyasa scarf: I always get cold on the plane, and sometimes even a hoodie won’t cut it. I love the vinyasa scarf because it’s super versatile & can be worn many ways but it keeps me warm (not hot) on the plane without fussing with a blanket that usually ends up on the floor. It’s breathable, sweat-wicking, soft and cozy.
  2. J-Pillow Travel Pillow: From 4 hour to 10 hour flights, I swear by this pillow. It is so much more comfortable than those donut neck pillows. I could be sitting in the middle row & this pillow supports my neck. The pillow is also ultra hygienic, you can throw the entire pillow in the washing machine, not just the cover.
  3. Kiehl’s Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist: The air is always dry on the plane, this spray is cooling & detoxifying and revives my skin. It smells great  with soothing plant extracts & lavender, geranium & rosemary essential oils. You can spray it over makeup too so you can get off the plane being like #iwokeuplikedis.
  4. Flight 001 Spacepaks: My sis introduced me to Flight 001, (she’s crazy organized & clean…basically the Monica Gellar of the ohana) & I’m glad she did because packing has become so much easier with these spacepaks. I tend to overpack, but these spacepaks streamline packing…and unpacking by organizing items by category.
  5. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: I hate styling my hair but this spray makes styling easy. It’s a great alternative to dry shampoo, which doesn’t really work for me since I have black hair. This dry spray not only smells good, it builds volume and texture & absorbs oils at the roots.
  6. Totally B. Right skincare set: I’m obsessed with Benefit Cosmetics. I’ve been going to the boutique in Bucktown for years now. This pack of minis is reasonably priced & perfect for travel. The triple performing facial emulsions one of my favorite products. It’s oil-free and has SPF 15!
  7. Comfy shoes: I just got some new Hush Puppies that are crazy comfortable. I plan to do a lot of walking in the city and want to have comfy shoes while looking cute! These boots are light, water-resistant and have leather linings for extra comfort.
  8. Nut Allergy Translation card: I’m allergic to all nuts (except donuts) & unfortunately had to go to the ER while I was in Tokyo because I wasn’t careful enough when asking about ingredients. Having a severe nut allergy is super annoying and can definitely get lost in translation. I carry an epi-pen with me at all times, but having a card or a screenshot saved on my phone is a great way to let others know about my allergy so I can avoid a trip to the hospital.

 Follow my travel adventures in Barcelona on Instagram @roxypopzchicago. Let me know if you have any recommendations on sights/places to eat in Barcelona & share what are your favorite travel essentials!

Taco Tuesday

If you know me, then you know that I have an obsession with all things pineapple. One of my favorite taco spots in Chicago is Big Star. I love the tacos al pastor and the “Ensalada de Big Star.” The tacos are perfectly marinated and have little pieces of pineapple. I decided to try making my own version of the tacos & salad at home.

grilled pineapple

Steak Tacos with Grilled Pineapple

  • Hard taco shells
  • Red cabbage, chopped
  • Avocado slices
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Skirt Steak
  • Pineapple slices, grilled ( I grabbed cored pineapple from the refrigerated section of produce to save some time too)

First I grilled the pineapple slices on the stovetop (I use a grill pan that I purchased from the Korean market & put on top of my gas grill) with some olive oil. Once the pineapples have some nice grill marks you can dice them up & set them aside.  I grilled the meat next so that the steak could soak up some of the pineapple flavor from the grill. Season the skirt steak with salt & pepper, then grill to your desired temp. Let the steak rest and assemble the remaining taco ingredients.

skirt steak


Fish Tacos with Avocado Sauce

  • Tilapia Fillets (you can use any white fish, like cod or Mahi Mahi too)
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Queso Fresco
  • Tortillas

for the avocado sauce

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic

To cook the fish, I coated the fillets in a little bit of cornstarch, then dredged in the egg wash, followed by coating with panko bread crumbs. Grill in a non-stick pan with a little EVOO, grill both sides just until the fish gets flaky. Use a spatula or fork to break up the fish.

For the sauce, I grabbed a handful of cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 ripe avocado, lime juice, half a container of a small sized greek yogurt and olive oil then blend. The sauce gets pretty thick, so you can thin it out with some water or more lime juice. I honestly just kept adding in a combo of water, EVOO & lime juice until the consistency and taste was just right. 🙂 You can make the sauce ahead of time too and keep in the fridge.

Once you’re ready to assemble the tacos, just add the fish and top with some veggies, queso fresco & the avocado sauce.


  • Bag of romaine lettuce
  • pumpkin seeds
  • queso fresco
  • radish, thinly sliced
  • black beans (which I totally forgot to throw in! lol)
  • avocado, diced
  • pepitas/pumpkin seeds


  • mayo
  • greek yogurt or sour cream (I used the leftover greek yogurt from the avocado sauce)
  • chipotle hot sauce
  • EVOO
  • lime juice

For the dressing, blend all ingredients until smooth. You can add more EVOO if it’s too thick. Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and add as much dressing as you like! Enjoy!

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