Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This week, the topic of "patience" has come up in my life multiple times. Coincidence? I think not. With almost one month lef...

This week, the topic of "patience" has come up in my life multiple times. Coincidence? I think not. With almost one month left until our wedding, finding patience was a daily struggle (until now).

It all started the moment I send out invitations. Yes, this has been going on for a while.

A few months ago, I eagerly sent out our wedding invitations to all of our loved ones. I couldn't wait until they told us they could make it to the most important day of our lives. We got back a few RSVP's right away from our closest friends who told us they wouldn't miss it for the world.

But then weeks and months went by and we hadn't heard from a lot of our invited guests. And now two weeks until the RSVP's are due, we have yet to hear from a decent amount of people.

Patience is a virtue. This I know. And I also know that I, among many other people, struggle with finding patience. This is why it is an art and it must be practiced.

If you follow my Instagram (@sandsoulandspirits) then you know I have posted several quotes from Joel S. Goldsmith. He is the author of a book I have been reading called The Art of Meditation. I have found so many insightful thoughts within its pages that I felt the need to share, hoping someone could benefit from it like me. Topics range from patience, to being in the present, to finding peace within yourself.

On a personal note, I had been reading this book quite slowly due to wedding planning and starting a new job. I was feeling frustrated about my lack of advancement because I am generally a very fast reader. Let me tell you, I am SO GLAD, that I did not read the book as quickly as I had wanted to.


I will share with you a tidbit of the book below. This segment helped me through the stresses of life and wedding planning. If I had read these pages months ago, it would have never resonated with me and I would not have stopped to reflect on the words and grow from them.

And this blog post wouldn't exist.

End of personal note...on to the quote.

"Most of us are unwilling to wait until the moment in which a decision is necessary; we insist on knowing the answer in advance, the day before, the week before, or the month before. We want to know what is around the corner; we want to know today what is going to happen next week or next month, and even what decision should be made for next year, instead of waiting until the actual moment when the decision is required..."

It had gotten to the point where I was asking guests if they could make it before the RSVP's were due. I just had to know! Deep inside, I knew that I feared having an empty wedding after all the time and effort I was putting into planning.

"We have acquired the habit of impatience and the result is that instead of waiting for God's decision to be made manifest, we let fear creep in and then, afraid of the possibly unfortunate effects of indecision, rush in and act on the basis of our own best human judgement"

Whether you are spiritual or not, you may have heard of the phenomenon "everything happens for a reason".  For me, if I have 50, 80, or +100 wedding guests, it doesn't stop the fact that I am marrying my best friend and celebrating the union of our families. Finding out whether or not someone can be in attendance to our wedding doesn't make us any less married. With impatience comes the fear of the unknown which in turn leads us to make choice which we may possible regret in the future. Rushing into something can have it's downfalls and consequences.

We get so caught up in this mindset of "I" that we forget to see the bigger picture. In the end, what is meant to happen will happen. Whatever is going on in your life right now can wait for when the moment comes, even if you don't think it can wait.

The way I see it is:
  • I can worry about it, have sleepless nights, stress, and do everything in my power to find a solution now 
  • Or be mindful and at peace

Either way, the end event/goal/objective will be exactly the same because what is meant to be, will be. The difference between the options above is that only one will cause you to have a mental breakdown. Trust me, I've been there and I choose peace.

I highly recommend taking the time to read Goldsmith's book. I have learned a lot about myself, both spiritually and mentally. I bought my book in a used book store, you never know where you will find hidden treasures! If you have liked what I have quoted from him in this post and in the past months, I have included a link below to the book on amazon (in case your local used book store doesn't have it in stock).

Did these quotes ease your mind on something? Do you think you'll read Goldsmith's book? How do you practice patience during those hard times? Leave a comment below for myself and other readers to reflect on!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Just how no two children are alike, music therapy sessions vary from client to client. What goes on inside a session depends greatly on y...

Just how no two children are alike, music therapy sessions vary from client to client. What goes on inside a session depends greatly on your child’s/client’s needs and preferences. A typical session will include a hello song to indicate the start of the session, music interventions to work on social/emotional, perceptual/motor, language/communication, preacademic, and musical skills. A goodbye song closes the session and the work done within.

Without knowing the needs of you or your loved ones, here are some things you can expect in a music therapy session.

Music in the form of singing, dancing, playing, or listening
As you can expect, music will be present in some way, shape, or form in music therapy. Whether we sing a familiar song to facilitate speech or play the piano to strengthen and coordinate finger dexterity, you can expect to be filled with some sort of musical element during the session.

Music therapists have years of training with a wide variety of clientele in order to work with specific needs. With this training and vocation comes the skill of patience as music therapists know that the goals you are working on come with time. Like any therapist you may have worked with, research around your area and find a professional that meets you and your child’s needs.

Safe Environment
Depending on the music therapist’s specialties, their therapy space will be designed to work best with their clients. You may find a small, empty room for children who need close spaces to succeed, or a large gymnasium-type facility for those working on rehabilitation. Regardless of the specifics, the therapy space is a safe, confidential environment where the goal is to reach each client’s goals.

Learning and Self-Improvement
The purpose of music therapy is to guide you or your loved one into achieving the goals and objectives outlined either through an assessment, IEP, or other therapies. Each session is a stepping stone to the goal and each session will be a step closer to the desired direction.

Board-Certified Music Therapist
No matter the variables between professionals, the one thing in common for every music therapist is their certification. A music therapist will have completed an approved bachelors, equivalency, or equivalency masters college music therapy curricula, internship, and passed the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. When researching professionals, be sure to check that they have completed these steps and are in good standing with their certification.

For more information about music therapy, please visit

Monday, January 15, 2018

About a month ago I wrote this post about my idea to start a cleanse. I had quickly glanced over the program details and menu plan and s...

About a month ago I wrote this post about my idea to start a cleanse. I had quickly glanced over the program details and menu plan and saw healthy foods and thought, this is it! Over the course of the month, I managed to round up some pretty spectacular people who were ready for the challenge. 21 days as a raw vegan is no easy feat.

I didn't realize exactly what the cleanse entailed until day one into it. Raw veganism. Have you heard of it? I had seen a video about it once but that was the extent of my knowledge. Being vegan seemed hard enough. Basically, it is being vegan as well as not cooking the foods above 118 °F (48 °C). So it is now day four of the cleanse and we are doing our best to keep going to the best of our ability (disclaimer: we are cooking our dinners). 

The idea of this raw vegan diet sparked a though in my mind. WHY? I understood the animal rights/cruelty argument but this cleanse was not about that for us. We were also not interested in the weight loss aspect of a diet. For us, that seemed like a natural consequence.

We were interested in the health aspect. I wanted to rid myself of gastrointestinal problems after my gallbladder surgery and Scotty, well, he eats what I cook. 

It wasn't until I started the cleanse when I wondered about the specific health benefits and why I couldn't cook my foods. I read some blogs and learned about the reasons behind this type of diet and let me tell you, I came out more motivated than I ever imagined. Let me share to you why.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE CLEANSE ... well it's science for me

Alkaline. Before the cleanse I had never heard of this before and now, it's the main concept of our diet. Through my research I learned that high alkaline foods lead to more alkaline urine pH levels which leads to healthy cells and balanced essential mineral levels

This article gave me all the information for this post, but basically you want to keep your pH (potential of hydrogen) level of the blood at about 7.365-7.4. And this is determined through the foods you eat. Your pH level is a balance between acidity and alkalinity in your diet.

Examples of (healthy) acid foods: 
  • Blueberries
  • Dry Beans
  • Seeds
  • Agave
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Examples of alkaline forming foods:
  • Leafy and root vegetables
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Onion
  • Garlic  
  • Fresh green vegetable juices
  • Almonds

We are currently eating all of these foods in our cleanse and are incorporating them in ways that I had never imagined! I guess you have to when you want to spice up your meals. Our current favorite recipe for example, has us chopping up walnuts in our food processor and using it as "taco meat"! Sounds crazy but it works and is surprisingly yummy!

So why should we not cook our veggies? Simply put, when exposed to different heats, foods loose their nutrients. This is very hard for us to grasp as we like the comfort (the dreaded word) of a warm meal. We are working on this, kind of.  

I say lifestyle because a diet is short term and you need to keep at these habits to see the benefits. Through research, the benefits of consuming alkaline forming foods are found to be:

1. Protecting bone density and muscle mass
This was particularly surprising to me as we always think of protein as being the muscle provider to our bodies. But this makes sense as an alkaline diet balances ratios of minerals that are important in muscle formation and decrease muscle wasting as we get older. Since we learned this, this has been our main motivator during the cleanse. 

2. Lower risk of hypertension and stroke 
This happens through decreased inflammation. Other benefits in this realm include reducing risk of high cholesterol and kidney stones. The article mentions memory loss as well, but I would like to see more research on this. 

3. Cancer protection!
I had heard of this before. It seems that those following this lifestyle do so because of previous health concerns like cancer. So I'm thinking, why not adapt this lifestyle now to prevent future diseases or illnesses? To read the study behind this claim, click here. 

4. Weight Loss
By eating less acidic foods your body decreases leptin levels and inflammation which affect hunger and fat-burning abilities. This one is pretty self explanatory, all the weight loss diets you see around involve some sort of veggies on your plate. From my own personal experience, I gained 10 pounds transitioning from a pescatarian diet to eating meat, while maintaining the same lifestyle and activities. We are not trying to loose weight so we don't limit our consumption during meals.

Other benefits I have noticed in myself within four days of clean eating include 
  • A surprising amount of energy, considering I have not been drinking coffee or matcha
  • My skin looks noticeably better
  • My gastrointestinal problems has decreased enormously (more on this later)
  • I feel lighter. 

The cleanse lasts 21 days but for a lot of people, this type of food consumption is their reality! I have found it incredibly hard but I have learned a lot about myself in just four days. 

I have learned that food is primarily for comfort in my life and I see  saw no nutritional value in what I was eating. I have also learned to empathized with vegans and vegetarians when it comes to eating out. I live in Southern California and even here it was hard to find raw vegan restaurants.  Most importantly though, I have learned to take care of my body. I feel great and I see benefits already in my body.

Remember my cleansing goal to end my gastrointestinal problems? Today, on day 4 of the cleanse, I felt zero GI discomfort for the first time in a year. This to me is all the victory and result I need to know this is good for the body.

So before you run to the store to try and fix whatever is going on with your health, try switching things around in your diet and find a natural solution to your ailments. Your body is stronger and more capable than you think.

Thanks for making it this far on this post. Quite lengthy and more science based that I normally write but my life is changed if I keep this up and I would love the same results for you! If you are doing the cleanse leave a comment with updates, tips, or stories! I love having a group of strong people to share this journey with. If you are not doing the cleanse, what's stopping you? What health issues do you struggle with and what solutions are you looking to find?  xoxo Lety      

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Getting ready robes... you know what I'm talking about. The ones I've seen are usually flowery or solid colors. That's when I...

Getting ready robes... you know what I'm talking about. The ones I've seen are usually flowery or solid colors. That's when I came across the featured robe, I went crazy!

Every girl wants their wedding to be different however with social media and Pinterest at our fingertips, it's hard to do so. It seems like everything has already been done!

I'm all about traditions though, so in that sense, I am happy to see things being done again and again. When it comes to style though, I love seeing how each bride plays with their own personality to create the perfect wedding for themselves.

The "getting ready" portion of the wedding is wonderful! It's truly the only (uninterrupted) time you'll have with your friends. It's also the perfect time to take some cute pictures! Not only are the robes functional during this time, they look awesome on camera! And with that in mind, the robe search begins.

Everybody has different taste and there are so many different robes to choose from. Today, I want to focus on these Turkish style bathroom robes that this bride and her crew rocked! I've also included a couple of other options just in case that's not 100% what you're looking for.  

With that being said, here is this weeks...


How gorgeous are these robes and the women wearing them? I love the combination of colors and pretty much how I've never seen them before. That's enough for me to get them.
You can get this cute robe here!
Photography by Top Shelf Photo

I found a similar style through Amazon. I love Amazon because I feel pretty confident in their shipping and to be honest, Amazon Prime is a game changer. Free Shipping? That'll save you some $$$. I also love how this robe has a hood! I could totally see myself walking around my house with this robe on long after the wedding festivities are over. Perfect for spa days.
For this more traditional robe click here!

The classic floral robes are just that...classic! They are beautiful and honestly that's why they're so popular, you can't go wrong with them. I love how there are so many colors to choose from, so no matter what your wedding colors are, you can find a robe that will fit your theme.
Now, you know I love good deals. This robe is the best value for the least money. Not only is it cute, it's cheap AND it has pockets! Sold.

I hope you found this Wednesday Wedding Inspiration useful and could see yourself rocking one of these robes on your special day! If you liked this list and would like to see more on robes, let me know! I love to hear your feedback! xoxo

Monday, December 18, 2017

A few days ago I posted a poll on my personal Instagram account. The question was whether I should make Nutella Churro Balls or Magic S&#...

A few days ago I posted a poll on my personal Instagram account. The question was whether I should make Nutella Churro Balls or Magic S'mores Bars. See, what I love about the holidays is the tradition to give gifts to your loved ones because it makes me take time out of my day to think about those who have blessed me with their friendships.

I would love to be able to gift my friends things they need, however with budgeting this year Scotty and I realized that it would not be possible to overspend on presents. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to thank my friends for an awesome year so I decided to give my girlfriends home-made candles and our guy friends some treats!

This is where the poll comes in. Both options are equally temping however, the Nutella Churro Balls won the polls with a whooping 80% to 20%. Therefore I present to you a deserving recipe:


Thrillist uploaded  a video of the recipe, which you can watch here. And if you really want to go the homemade route, Cafe Delite posted their original recipe here with homemade dough.

I've tried my hand at baking enough to know I'm no good at it, therefore I went the Thrillist way and bought dough in a can. It makes the process super fast and super easy!

If you do decide to make your own dough, I would love to hear about it! Feel free to comment below if you make these amaze-balls. And let me know how they turn out!

UPDATE: This treat was a success among our friends! Everyone loved them and texted us immediately after eating them. Buying pre-made dough makes this recipe extremely easy and it took me about 20-25 minutes to make one batch of these (18 balls). I 100% recommend you make these for someone today. xoxo

Friday, December 15, 2017

Well, 2017 is coming to an end. It's about now when we look back and reflect on the year; what we would have done different, where we&...

Well, 2017 is coming to an end. It's about now when we look back and reflect on the year; what we would have done different, where we'll be next year, etc.

I believe that every year we are working to get closer to our optimal selves. 2017 was a good year for the realization of that. I have incorporated yoga and meditation into my life but I know that something is missing, something extremely important. Diet. 

I don't mean diet as in I want to lose weight, I mean diet as in cutting out processed foods, eating more veggies, not eating as many sugars. Have you set out these goals for yourself before? I know I have.

So why am I bucking down now?

To be honest, I want the challenge. I am writing this as I sip on my morning cup of Joe. In this challenge there is no caffeine. The thought of this intimidates me because a part of me feels that I depend on coffee to get my day going. Through this cleanse I will learn "mind over body".

Coming to terms with the aforementioned, I am committing myself to 21 days of an organic plant based diet.

The idea came from one of my yoga teachers who leads a 21 day cleanse here in southern California. I loved the idea of starting off the new year with this cleanse and quickly went to get more information.

I understand that eating well and buying organic foods isn't the cheapest option but I was shocked when I saw that signing up for the cleanse would be more than $400! I completely believe in the value and think that having a professional leading the group is worth the money. To be honest, I would do it but reality is, I am not there financially to where I can drop $400 for a 21 day group.

I was sad and disappointing that my financial state would deprive me of something I thought would improve my life. I didn't let my sadness get to me though. 

My solution? To find a cleanse online and do it myself for free!

Sound hard? I think so. 

The biggest challenge I see for myself is the determination to keep going. I can imagine it will get tough and I will want to quit. But this is exactly why I am doing it. I know I will want to quit. I know I will be tempted to eat a cheesecake (yum). But I want to train my mind to be stronger. This is that training.
And you know what? It's 21 days. Who knows how I/you/anybody will feel after 21 days of detoxing but I will find out.

So where do you, reader, come in?

I want you to join me! The 21-Day cleanse begins January 11, 2018- January 31, 2018.

The class my yoga teacher leads has a group of detox-ers that meet every week. While we are doing this remotely, I would like to have a group (internet, text group, whatever) of supportive individuals. When one of us gets down or wants to quit, we are there to support them and remind them what they are doing this for.

Not only are we building a connection of like minded people that want to better themselves, we are showing support for those who want to better themselves.

Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?

Joining is pretty simple. Shoot me an e-mail saying you want to join or leave a comment below with your name and e-mail and I will get in touch with you.

This cleanse is completely free. I will e-mail you back with:
  • A meal plan with outlined meals
  • Recipes in the meal plan
  • Informational booklet
All you need to do is commit to 21 days. You can do it! The more people the bigger the support group. And there is strength in numbers. Join!!

I hope you will join me in this challenge. Whether you are doing this to lose weight, transition to a vegan diet, to train your mind or for any other personal reason- rise up to the challenge and begin the year with accomplishments. This is completely free and there are no hidden costs. I'm doing it and don't want to do this alone!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

If you have ever planned or are planning a wedding, you know it can be stressful. There are so many moving parts that it's hard to ke...

If you have ever planned or are planning a wedding, you know it can be stressful. There are so many moving parts that it's hard to keep everything in order, especially when there are many emotions involved. In the midst of all the planning though, it can be easy to forget why you are going through all the stress. It is so you can spend forever with your significant other!

So whenever you feel like your head is going to explode because your planner isn't communicating or your family wants to add more guests to the list, take a step back and shut your brain off with wedding details. Here are some ideas that you can do, but really, as long as you're not thinking "wedding", you're doing it right!


1. Yoga
2. Go for a walk
3. Watch Netflix/Hulu/Amazon
4. Have a glass of wine
5. Have a sunset picnic with your S.O.
6. Read a book
7. Make your bed (it will make you feel better, trust me)
8. Watch funny Youtube videos
9. Count your blessings
10. Crochet

11. Volunteer in the community
12. Listen to music
13. Reorganize your drawers/closet
14. Write letters for your loved ones
15. Drink a glass of water (you know you need to drink more water)
16. Vacuum your room
17. Go for a run
18. Meditate (even for 2 minutes)
19. Donate the clothes you don't use anymore
20. Practice mindful breathing

21. Make a smoothie
22. Create a music playlist for stressful moments
23. Order take out of your favorite food (you deserve it)
24. Nap
25. Take pictures of your favorite people and things
26. Take a candlelit bubble bath (Extra: Put Netflix on)
27. Call a friend to say hi
28. Make a homemade face mask and indulge
29. Put your computer away for the day
30. Make cookies and give some to your neighbors

My favorite anti-stress routine is number 24! What's yours? Did you find this list helpful? Leave a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading today's blog post!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Birthdays! They come once a year and we should treat them for what they are... a celebration of life! While I can describe the joys (and...

Birthdays! They come once a year and we should treat them for what they are... a celebration of life! While I can describe the joys (and trials) of turning 25 I thought I might let the gif's speak for themselves.


1. Waking up like...

2. Entering an existential crisis when you realize you are a quarter of a century old

3. And you're pretty much an adult

4. How you expect to be greeted at work 

5. How you actually get greeted at work

6. Realizing you have a year until you're kicked off your parent's insurance

7. But on the plus side, you can now rent a car without added fees

8. You have to reply to endless Facebook posts

9. You know you'll be spoiled by the people that love you 

10. How you imagine your night to go

11. But you're a responsible adult now, so you go to bed early

12. Happy birthday, you wonderful you!

If it's your birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Isn't 25 great? What do you think? What's the best/worst thing of being 25 years old? Don't forget to comment and share with others who might enjoy this!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hello and happy (late) Thanksgiving! This year, Scotty's family decided to have Thanksgiving brunch in Los Angeles! The review on the...

Hello and happy (late) Thanksgiving! This year, Scotty's family decided to have Thanksgiving brunch in Los Angeles! The review on the blog today is for Maggiano's Little Italy near The Grove shopping center. I have to admit that I am not big on traditional Thanksgiving foods so when I learned that we would be eating Italian for Thanksgiving I definitely got in the spirit. I hope you find the information below useful! Let me know if you decide to try Maggiano's next year for Thanksgiving!

Maggiano's Little Italy for Thanksgiving
Location: Maggiano's Little Italy in Los Angeles, California
Address: 189 The Grove Dr, Suite Z80, Los Angeles, CA 90036  
Cost: $44.95 per person
I highly recommend getting a reservation, especially if you have a large party. Our reservation was at noon, the restaurant didn't seem that busy when we arrived but it did start filling up closer to 1:00 pm. There are different rooms to sit in: the lower inside, outside terrace, and upstairs private rooms.

The Setting
Outside Terrace

We got seated in the outside terrace. As you can see, there are a few empty seats. This picture was taken as soon as we arrived (noon) and the tables began filling up a little while later. We had a bread basket on our table along with a bowl of olive oil with balsamic vinegar.

The Menu
The concept of the menu is pretty self-explanatory, there are a few options per course and you pick two, not counting the first course. Servings are limitless and you can order as much as you want of the two options that you picked. The only downside is you can't mix and match for the refills. So say you picked the house salad and the Cesar salad, then those are the only refills you can get. But honestly, it's all-you-can-eat, so really there is no downside.

First Course

On the left is the Artichoke and Roasted Pepper Bruschetta and on the right is the Classic Tomato Bruschetta. We got a platter full enough for our party of 6. We knew we wanted to save room for the real deal (pasta and turkey) so we didn't go past one platter of the first course.

Second Course
Maggiano's Salad
Cesar Salad

We chose the Maggiano's Salad and the Cesar Salad for our second course. The Maggiano's Salad was my favorite and the Cesar Salad tasted just like another Cesar Salad. They were good but again we were mostly anxious for the main course.

Third Course
Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia with Sage, Lemons, & Tomatoes

This is where the fun begins! Our choices for this course were the Traditional Roast Turkey Breast with Gravy and the Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia. I apologize because due to the excitement/hunger I was not able to get a picture of the turkey.

The plating consisted of turkey slices with some gravy. While the plating was nothing out of this world, the taste was incredible! The meat was extremely tender and delicious. I notice (as I am writing this post) that the turkey already comes with gravy AND stuffing... We ordered stuffing as a side but in the future, I would not do this so that we can have two different sides plus the stuffing that is already included. I am an advocate of more bang for your buck!

The tilapia was nice. I was definitely more blown away with the turkey, which surprised me as I am not a big meat or poultry eater. Whatever your preference is, if you are looking for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, get the turkey. A cranberry sauce is included as well which is nice!

Focaccia Sausage Stuffing

The stuffing (pictured) was delicious! The addition of sausage was a nice touch and added to the hartiness of the meal. Stuffing is always my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner/meal.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The mashed potatoes were good. They weren't anything special but looking back at the picture I took, they sure look good.

Gnocchi & Italian Sausage

I want to take a second to highlight the gnocchi because it was my favorite item on the menu. Just looking at the picture makes my mouth water! I knew going into this meal my favorite part would be the pasta because Maggiano's specializes in Italian cuisine. The gnocchi has bits of sausage that add to the overall flavor and the pasta has amazing consistency! We definitely ordered about 4 or 5 of this plate and I recommend getting this if you are thinking of having your next Thanksgiving dinner at Maggiano's.

Pasta of the Day

We picked the pasta of the day because our server described it so deliciously, we couldn't help ourselves. Essentially, it is a giant tortellini stuffed with cheese and chicken on some white sauce. I wasn't a fan. It really wasn't that great and we actually had a couple left over. Now I'm kicking myself because the Cheese Raviolis sounded so good! So conclusion: I would choose a different option. Maybe have the raviolis and I can live bi-curiously through you.

Fourth Course
Warm Apple Crostada

I have a personal motto: There is always room for dessert. In this case, there is always room for two desserts, the warm apple crostada and tiramisu. My favorite dessert is tiramisu and I will have to say I liked the flavor of the crostada more.


Although I enjoyed the flavor of the crostada more, I love the experience of having coffee with my tiramisu. I ordered a cappuccino and it took a little while for it to arrive at our table, but it wasn't a big deal as I understood more people were arriving and the feast is so complete that I can imagine the servers were very busy.

I think setting our reservation at noon was smart because we were attended to very nicely and received our food with perfect timing. More on the service later below.

The Service
Part of having a positive restaurant experience is the service that comes with it. Our server was very attentive to our needs and brought us extra gravy (a bowlful) and cranberry sauce. He was on top of our drink needs and we didn't have to wait long for refills. As the restaurant started filling up around 1:30 service did become slower but at that point we didn't need as much attention and we were happy to just sit at the table and talk. I really appreciated how my plate was removed and replaced after the second course. My favorite part of this whole experience is being able to take home leftovers. Scotty and I have been indulging on Maggiano's for the past 2 days and it has been glorious!

If you indeed decided to dine at Maggiano's (this particular location) for your next Thanksgiving meal, I have some parking recommendations that we wish we had known. Maggiano's validates parking at The Grove's parking structure for two hours. If you plan on arriving and eating within this time frame, this is the best option for you. If you want to spend some time around the area (The Grove is a nice shopping mall with a movie theatre), then I recommend paying for valet parking in front of Maggiano's for $10. Otherwise, parking at The Grove's parking structure will cost $24.

The Takeaway
Once again, I have managed to write a very long post. I like to hit the details in case someone is interested and when it comes to an important decision like choosing your Thanksgiving meal, I believe details are important.

So here are the major points to know about:
  • Your menu consists of Thanksgiving foods with classic Italian options
  • Cost per person is $44.95
  • You get to pick 2 items per course and it is unlimited food refills for only those 2 items 
  • Arrive early for fast food and little service wait time
  • Park at The Grove parking structure if you plan to spend less than 2 hours at Maggiano's- valet park for +2 hours
  • Leftovers for days

This concludes the first review on Sand Soul and Spirits! I really enjoyed our Thanksgiving brunch and being able to spend time with Scotty's family. I recommend Maggiano's for your next Thanksgiving venture and hope you found this review helpful. Maggiano's has many locations all over the USA, you can find the nearest one to you here.

How did you and your family spend Thanksgiving? Have you gone to Maggiano's for their Thanksgiving menu? What did you think of it? Or did this review help you decide what you'll do for next year? I would love to read your opinions below, leave a comment! Thanks for reading today's post! 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ahhh, Black Friday. What can be better than a day who's sole purpose is to sell things we actually want at reduced prices? That elect...

Ahhh, Black Friday. What can be better than a day who's sole purpose is to sell things we actually want at reduced prices? That electronic you've been eyeing will probably be on sale. I actually got my Taylor guitar on a Black Friday sale. You'll find something.

Every month, I'll scout Amazon and find either useful or random items to spotlight. Here are November's finds.

AMAZON FINDS: Black Friday Edition (2017)

1. Amazon Echo
In case you missed it, I recommended the Amazon Echo on this past post. It's got a good discount through Black Friday and I think that if you have been wanting to try it out, now is the time to do it (you'll save some $$). SNEAK PEEK: If you enjoy reading Sand Soul and Spirits then there is an exciting opportunity that has to do with Amazon Echo coming up for the new year. Heads up! You'll want to have one of these bad boys.

2. Anne Klein Watch
This watch is so stylish and minimalist. It instantly caught my eye and it had to go on the list! Who said Black Friday was only for electronics?

3. Power Strip
Don't tell me you couldn't use one of these in your house right now. And this one is on sale from $48.99 to $8.99! I love a good deal.

4. Multiple USB Charger
Charge your whole family's phones, tablets, camera batteries, and smart watches at the same time. Or be a good person and become the phone charging hub at the airport. A lot of practical uses for this one.

5. Fuzzy Blanket

Even in southern California you could use this. Imagine waking up to watch a beautiful sunrise in the crispness of the morning, with a cup of warm coffee between your hands and a cozy blanket around you. It's the little things.

6. Kombucha Starter Kit
Uh... why did nobody tell me this was a thing?? I probably could have paid this off with all the Kombuchas I buy.

7. Kombucha On Tap
This just keeps getting better and better!

8. Veggie Spiralizer
I didn't touch my veggie spiralizer until I found a filling and amazing spaghetti squash recipe (here). I have now used it more times this month than this past year. This is a good addition to your kitchen after an intense Thanksgiving dinner!

What did you think of this month's list? Did you find something you liked? Comment below and stay tuned for exiting opportunities with Amazon Echo. Thank you for supporting Sand Soul and Spirits!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

When I think about things to write about I usually get inspiration from things and events that have affected me personally. In late 20...

When I think about things to write about I usually get inspiration from things and events that have affected me personally. In late 2016 I started experiencing issues with my gallbladder (though I didn't know it at the time). I remember looking online to try and find someone who had similar symptoms and feelings as me and to my surprise I couldn't find much!

I want to take a few minutes to write about the process of
  • Feeling something was up with my body
  • The uncertainty of what was happening
  • The pain that comes with gallbladder attacks 
  • The choice of getting surgery to remove my gallbladder
  • Life with no gallbladder

I'm not going to include any stats or information about the gallbladder and stones in itself because I found that information to be in abundance online. Gallbladder issues are quite common and there are certain aspects (such as ethnicity, age, lifestyle) that can create these problems.

So let's start from the very beginning. 
I began noticing a change in my body in mid 2016. By change I mean something that felt like acid reflex. I remember very vividly not being able to fall asleep one night due to this "acid reflex" and no amount of Toms would help.

Mind you, I've never had acid reflex before in my life. I had drank a lot of champagne fruit punch that night though (it was heavenly) so I didn't think much of it.

Fast forward to late 2016. At this point I had gone through a few "acid reflex attacks", as I called them, which consisted of slight uncomfort for approximately two hours and no remedy. The pain got to be pretty unbearable at one point that I thought about going to urgent care.

I should probably mention my pain threshold is pretty high.

The attacks only occurred at night and were pretty random at this point (more on this later). It wasn't until December 2016 when I found out these "acid reflex attacks" were actually "gallstone attacks" and finding out wasn't fun at all.

The day it went down.
I was traveling in Hawaii when I got one of these attacks. TMI (too much information) to follow: It was late and the usual pain was happening, the only difference was this time, I was throwing up. 7 times to be exact...yes, I was counting.

The pain got to be so much that I went to urgent care. I was crouched over the entire ride there and time seemed to stop!! I don't even think I am over exaggerating this you guys, it was that bad.

Long story short, I got there and waited maybe 5 minutes before I was attended to. I must have looked terrible as I was attended to pretty quickly and got tests done. My nurse gave me some morphine and it seemed to work as I was feeling better than ever! The doctor informed me I had a gallstone and prescribed me two medicines: one for pain and one for nausea.

Now, fast forward to June 2017. I had been dealing with gallstone pains on average once a month. This was pretty consistent and to this day I am shocked at how the body seems to move in cycles. The process was always the same: Start feeling pain, take my pain medication, feel sleepy, fall asleep. A couple of times the pain was so bad I had to take two pills.

One beautiful day in June 2017 I ran the Bryce Canyon Half-Marathon in Utah. That night I experienced pain so intense that persisted even after taking two pills, which was the most I could take. This was the last straw and I decided I could no longer go on like this. I later found out dehydration can cause gallbladder attacks (that would have been good to know).

So I went through the next process:  

Removing the gallbladder.
This basically consisted of:
  1. Getting more tests done. At this point I found out I had TWO gallstones now. I grew a whole other gallstone in 6 months! This is bewildering and slightly gross to me.
  2. Getting an endoscopy test (and asking for Cafe Rio while being high on anesthesia)
  3. Getting the gallbladder removed at the hospital.
  4. Recovering 

The removal is fairly easy and painless. I was extremely nervous as I had never undergone surgery before. Luckily, I scheduled a super early appointment so I was half asleep when I was being prepped and I was equipped with a stress relieving, heart rate decreasing piano playlist on Spotify (Music Therapy Win).

Here is my recollection of the surgery: Being asked to take my earrings off (and being scared of my newer piercings closing up), being wheeled to the surgery room, being put on anesthesia, breathing, and literally 3 seconds of consciousness.

Next thing I knew, I was being woken up and being told everything went fine! And then I went back to sleep. And then I was woken up again and checked up on. Basically this went on for a while.

You can leave a few hours after the surgery but in my case, I did not want to wake up so we stayed in a hospital until the afternoon (no joke). My poor mother and brother were with me the entire time while I slept. Completely pain free, just sleepy.

Let's talk about the recovery.

I believe they ask me to refrain from strenuous activity and lifting for 2 weeks and I was expected to do minimal walking for a couple of days after surgery. I would do some laps around the kitchen and then return to my nest on the couch to watch Netflix. Not much of a lifestyle change for me.  

Everybody is different and I've heard of people who return to work withing a few days. My doctor even told me of a patient he had who got on a cruise the next day! I'm not sure if any of this is reassuring or comforting to you. I had the best time being pampered by my family!

The toughest part about the entire recovery was removing the tape they put on my stitches. I realized that I was being a big baby about it though when I went to my check-up with the doctor and he ripped them off without harming me. I repeat: I was a big baby.

I will mention the concerns I had during the entirety of this process. This may seem trivial to most but my biggest concern were the scars. I don't know why as I rarely walk around without a shirt on.

The surgeon made 4 incisions on my body, 3 on my torso and 1 in my belly button. They are the tiniest of incisions and are kind of cute to me now. Speaking honestly, I barely notice my scars and am proud of them. They are a part of who I am.

My other concern was how my body would react without a gallbladder. And this, my friends, is what I continue to struggle with even to this day. It has been 1 year and 3 months since my surgery and my digestion is no longer the same. Does it cause me problems? Yes. Do I get frustrated my stomach isn't as sturdy as it used to be? Yes. Do I miss having gallstone attacks and being rushed to urgent care?No.

So do the surgery. Get your gallbladder removed. No amount of digestion problems is worth the pain. At least not for me. 

Looking back on this blog post, it is pretty long. If you are reading this (and read the entire thing) THANKS! I want this blog to be a resource for people so if you had to get anything from this post here is what I would hope you learned:
  • Dehydration can cause gallstone attacks. Think twice about running a half-marathon.
  • Go to the doctor early on. The doctor can give you some medication so attacks may be slightly more tolerable. 
  • Scars are history to your body. No shame!
  • Everybody's body reacts differently. Some watch Netflix for weeks, some go back to work, while others take cruises. Just listen to your doctors recommendations. 
  • Do what is best for you. If your gallstone attacks are not bad OR you don't have any don't feel pressured into getting surgery to remove your gallbladder. I do know that some attacks may be a risk to your health and then you have to have emergency gallbladder removal. 
  • Be aware of timing. When I started my journey with my gallstone (which I named Gullum), I began with one stone. By the time of the gallbladder removal I had two stones! I suggest getting the procedure done before your whole gallbladder is filled with Gollums. 

Are you thinking of getting your gallbladder out? Or have you had the surgery? How has life changed for you since the procedure? Did you have similar experiences as me? I would love to hear about it in the comment section below! Thank you for reading this blog post! I hope you found some useful information! 

If you found this information useful, would you mind sharing to to someone who could also find it useful? Thanks!