Summer, Sun & the South of Spain / Mi Alma Esta En Almería

June 12, 2015. A day filled with misty eyes and shaky goodbyes. It would mark the beginning of one of the most fundamental summers of my teenage years. I was 15 years old and officially half-way through highschool with a soul longing deeply for change, and a restless heart calling for an adventure. 

Five years ago on the day, I boarded a plane heading for Madrid. I was to spend the following slow summer months living in the south of Spain with the company of my Abuela and the sweltering desert heat. Armed with my passport in hand, my brand-new-hand-me-down iPhone 5, and an unwavering spirit it was over the Atlantic and through the Spanish countryside to Grandmother’s house I went. My eyes were as wide with excitement and hope as the Spanish sun that awaited me on the other side. For me, the journey I was about to embark on held a deep importance. 

Being a first generation Spanish-American meant veranos visiting family abroad. My summers growing up were brimming with the magic of the Mediterian coast and the warm embraces of family reunions. August days of vibrant desert sunsets, Fantasmikos and rainbow tongues, collecting the aqua blues and seafoam greens of sea glass along the dusty sand of the beach, the Earth shattering and soul shaking rhythm of flamenco shows in the park, childhood giggles between heaping bites of Abuela’s home cooked meals. I have been nothing short of blessed to have the honor of calling Spain my second home. 

The summer of 2015 was to be different though. I would be traveling alone, with 41 days of distance separating me from my parents and siblings. It was a long step away from the familiar, but I welcomed the change whole-heartedly. This new found independence offered me a crucial space to redefine what my Spanish heritage meant to me, and to freely explore a place I thought I had known so well. These lessons of self-growth presented themselves in varied manners. Some were as obvious to me at the time as the drowning warmth of the Tabernas. Others however, crept in slowly and quietly throughout the summer, like the cool air of desert nights that tip-toed in at the day’s end. Some lessons would take me years to fully understand and process; one of them would be the importance photography had in curating what Almería represented to me, both visually and metaphorically. My days were spent sitting on the hardened leather seat of my Abuela’s bike, weaving in and out of cobbled alleyways, exploring and photographing. The only camera I had available to me at the time was my cell phone camera, but it far from discouraged me. I captured the people of my city, the beaches in which my dusty feet had walked miles along the years, the range of colors from pastel pinks to dusty browns, and the ever present sun that loomed above coating me in golden warmth. When the heat became unbearable and my legs ached for relief, I would venture into the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía by the apartment I shared with my grandma, and stand in air conditioned awe at the masterful photographs that hung around me. Without even knowing it at the time, it was photography that served as a crucial tool to allow me to literally reinvent the image of what this incredible city meant to me. 

These are those photographs:

Food & Drink

Around the World in 5 Recipes (And Counting)

When I was about eleven, I was dead set on becoming a baker. I made business cards in Microsoft Word, and watched clips of Cake Boss for hours on end on Youtube. And yes, you are allowed to laugh at me. Although my dreams of becoming a baker have dissolved for the most part, I still really enjoy trying new recipes and playing around in the kitchen. My absolute favorite things to bake though are recipes from other countries and cultures. Researching the recipes, and learning about how and why they came to be has taught me so many lessons about so many countries. It’s also a super fun way to step out of your comfort zone and try cooking methods and ingredients you might not have thought to try before.

In this blog post I’ve curated some of my personal favorite recipes. All of these recipes use ingredients that for the most part can be found around the kitchen, and only require a beginner to medium skill set. I hope you enjoy and have an amazing time trying all these fun recipes and tasting your way around the world from right in your kitchen!

Please feel free to share your own recipes as well. I’ll be updating this blog post with new recipes as I find them so stay tuned! I still have lots of exploring to do…


First on the list are these amazing Mini Pavlovas from Curious Cuisiniere.

This was my first time ever making a meringue but this blog post does an amazing job explaining everything you need to know. The pavlovas were a big hit in my house, and definitely something I look forward to making again soon and trying the real deal come February when I visit New Zealand.

Find the Mini Pavlovas Recipe Here!


Alfajores are a lemony, sweet, soft, and crumbly heaven of a cookie that can be found around South America, particularly Argentina. One may never really think of putting lemon shortbread cookies, dulce de leche, and coconut together into one dessert but I promise you it makes so much sense. As well, I love this blog post by Muy Delish because it does a great job explaining how to chill and roll the dough for first time cookie makers.

Find the Alfajores Recipe Here!

These one of a kind brigadeiros are juusstt the right amount of sweet. Using only five ingredients, they couldn’t be easier to make. You can find these Brazilian chocolate fudge balls at all birthday parties and celebrations around the country. Rumor has it the brigadeiro was created in honor of Brazilian Brigadier Eduardo Gomes in the 40s. I find myself making these time and time again whenever I’m craving a little sweet treat.

Pro Tip: Coat your hands in butter when rolling out the fudge balls. You may not be able to pick anything up for a solid 15 minutes, but it makes rolling out the brigadeiros a million times easier. I promise it’s worth it.

Find the Brigadeiros Recipe Here!


Also from Curious Cuisiniere are these great Malawian Sweet Potato cookies, or Mbatata. Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa, located in the Southeast next to Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The country gets its name from the beautiful Lake Malawi, which takes up nearly a third of the country.

These cookies can also easily be made vegan by using a butter substitute. These cookies turn out amazing and I’ve gone on to make them a few times now.

Find the Malawian Sweet Potato Cookies Recipe Here!


I couldn’t begin to explain to you how amazing this recipe is. As someone from the south of Spain I love olive oil and this bread was everything I could have ever wanted. Pompe à l’Huile or Sweet Olive Oil Bread is a Christmas staple in the south of France and is one of the 13 desserts of Christmas. This was my first time ever making bread and using yeast, but this recipe by Saveur does a great job walking you through the process. I found it super interesting that in order to serve this bread you must break it off with your hands, as cutting it will break off the relationships you have with those at the table.

Find the Sweet Olive Oil Bread Recipe Here!


Lost Memories: Developing Three Year Old Film

In July of 2019, I finally developed the roll of film that had been sitting in my Pentax ME 35MM for 3 years. What I found was lost memories from my last days in Florida before my family and I packed up and moved back to New York, a day trip to New Paltz with my mom, and my first days of college in Westchester, NY. I hope you enjoy!


Ruby: How You Drive Me…Crazy

In honor of having my car for almost a year.

In January of 2019, after months of working anything from a babysitter to a cashier, I finally saved up enough money to buy my first car. I scoured the internet all winter break looking for anything that actually had a semi working engine for only $2,500. I came across a quirky maroon 2001 Subaru Outback Legacy Limited AWD Sedan. If that sounds like a longer description than it needs to be I would agree but, I promise you that’s what’s registered under my name in the state of New York. I found what felt like my dream car. She’s an interesting looking car to say the least, but she has all the features. Heated leather seats, power seat, windshield wiper heaters, heated side mirrors, a moon roof and my favorite part, a cassette player. Sure she had 167,000 miles when I bought it, but she was a Subaru in pristine condition with a CarFax report that could make any mechanic cry tears of joy. I bought her for $2,450 cash only, of course, from only a mildly sketchy man I found on a Craigslist like website. And like that, I had my first car. I went on to name her Ruby, a play on both her color and the fact that she was a gem to find. My parents, friends, and neighbors warned me on the concerns of owning such an old car. After all, Ruby and I are only 5 months apart in age. I understood what I was getting myself into, but I convinced myself that it was an investment I was willing to make. Long story short it’s been 10 months of having Ruby, and all I will say is that she has never failed to keep me entertained with mechanical mishaps. 

The first was during a weekend trip home in early February. My family and I piled into Ruby for a family-fun expedition to our usual trails in Bear Mountain State Park. I turn on the car to reveal the ever so torturous check engine light. I slowly looked over to my Dad who was sitting in the passenger seat, and gave him my best “you have got to be kidding me face.” I had just bought this car, and suddenly buyers remorse came flooding upon me. I was certain that I had wasted all my money, or that I was fooled, or that I somehow bought a lemon car. My parents proceeded to convince me that check engine lights may not always be as serious as they seem. So, we took the family minivan instead and proceeded along with our adventure. When we got home, my Dad and I went full Sherlock and Watson with research and found that in some cars, but especially older ones, if the gas cap is not tightened enough after pumping gas air can enter into the system and set off the gauge accidentally. I had just pumped gas into Ruby for the first time a day ago, and figured that had to be the issue. So, I tightened the gas cap as much as humanly possible and low and behold the check engine light turned off…or so I thought. Que the next two months of a check engine light strobe party. On and off and on and off again for absolutely no reason. My mechanic at one point said to me, “She’s just an old lady who aches when it’s cold. Wait until the summer and things will clear up.” And he was right. Spring came around and the check engine light didn’t come on for a whole month and then some. My mechanical dystopia had come to an end …or so I thought. Ruby decided that she didn’t like the cold or the heat. 

The summer slowly creeps in, as does the overwhelming warmth. Class is out and the open road beckons, as do the forested trails and glistening lakes of mid-state New York. But Ruby has other plans for the summer months. Despite Ruby’s phenomenal gas mileage the time had come again to refill.  I waited my turn in a Costco gas line so long you would think the end of the world is nigh and after a steady start and go finally made my turn to gas pump #2. Distracted by the idea of my next stop…a drive up my favorite parkway to an old trail with a good friend, I turned my car off in drive rather than park. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. My gear shift locked, my key became glued inside the ignition, and my car became a two ton boulder holding the line of a packed gas station. After a frustrating fiddle with the shift lock, me and an unsuspecting Costco gas station employee got her into neutral and pushed Ruby out of the line and to the side. We struggled some more, called his mechanic brother, watched a Youtube video, and even snuck a quick Our Father prayer in there before finally being able to remove the key from the ignition. We go to turn the car back on, but as we all know, things in this life never come that easy. Despite our struggle only lasting a total of 15 minutes, it completely drained the battery. Carlos, AKA the Costco Gas Station employee of the year, proceed to jump my car, stop traffic, push my car back into the line so that I can pump enough gas to get home, and then re-jump my car as I couldn’t leave the car on when pumping. I called my friend to let them know I wouldn’t be making it and drove straight home as it was too late for the mechanic at this point. The next morning, I go to turn my car on and pray that the battery will somehow turn on despite last nights series of events. And it does just that. It turns on just fine, as if yesterday was just Ruby having a temper tantrum similar to that of a five year old who couldn’t get their favorite candy at the store. My mechanic agreed, and after a quick battery test and look over he concluded that Ruby was exactly the way she needed to be. He figured it was just a freak accident that resulted from my foolish mistake of turning my car off in the wrong gear. I figured the man knew what he was talking about, and so I went about my way. And everything was great for a really long time. That was until it was early August, with plans to leave the country in a few days only to return hours before school move-in leaving me little to no time to resolve the issue, and to top it off I was running an errand for my internship and was technically on the clock. Picture yourself on a 90 degree August day, stranded in the suburbs of Rockland County, New York, in the parking lot of a ShopRite holding all the Denim Blue Liquid Dye available in-stock in your yellow grocery bag. I know, it sounds like the definition of an absolute rager. As I went to turn off my car, in park this time I will add, I heard a loud thud. I knew right away what had happened. So I tested my theory, and low and behold as I tried to turn my car back on, my gear shift was locked and yes you guessed it, my key would not budge from the ignition. I knew what to do from the last time, and so I hurried through the steps to avoid battery drainage. I got my car back in order so quickly, NASCAR personally recruited me as a pit crew member. But it was all in vain as my battery was still wiped. Naturally, I called my insurance for the convenient road-side service I was paying every month for. I’ll say it once more though, things in this life are never that easy. It turns out, I actually didn’t have road-side assistance and that the ungodly amount of money I paid monthly was the just the minimum requirement needed to remain street legal. I hung up and sat in my easy-bake-oven of a car feeling completely defeated. Until my phone rang with my boss on the other line. After all, I was on a work related trip and at this point had been gone for over two hours. My boss asked if I was alright in which I proceeded to explain my current predicament. Thankfully, my internship this summer was with some of the kindest crew of people you’ll ever meet. My co-worker came, and jump started Ruby for what was now the third time in the last month. I made an appointment with my mechanic for the next day to get this issue resolved once and for all. But as they say kids, be careful what you wish for. 

I demanded a full up and down, left and right thorough review of every inch and part of the car. It’s something that I will admit, I should have requested much earlier. Now, I want you to imagine what you think the worst mechanical failure could be. Maybe it’s derived from your own personal experience. Now I want you to imagine a price tag for this mechanical horror story. Did you picture $5,000+ dollars, a torn axle boot, close to gone brake pads, barely there tires, a shot battery, and my favorite part a leaking head gasket? Well congratulations, and step right up to claim your prize of a mechanic’s special 2001 Subaru Outback Legacy Limited AWD Sedan!!! The news shattered my heart into a million and one pieces. Ruby was my pride and joy. She was my first car. Something I saved months for. My first really big investment. My mechanic told me that at the age and price Ruby was, it simply didn’t make sense for me to invest in the mechanical work. You know it’s bad when your mechanic tells you it’s not worth giving him thousands of dollars (as if I even had them in the first place). He insured me though that Ruby was indeed safe to drive and that her demise would be slow and painful, not the Fourth of July on the side of I-287. Well that man’s mother did not raise a liar. 

Within a short month and back to school for the Fall semester, my car’s battery proceed to die twice more. I learned how to adapt at this point and bought myself a portable car battery jumper. The first time, me and two old friends, Youtube and the Instructor’s Manual jumped my car for what was the first time for me. The second time around the car battery was so far gone, that the odometer was turned off, the power seat useless, and the lock button pointless. Campus Safety was called and a much larger portable charger was utilized. I got the hint and forked up a painful close to $200 for a new battery. This next part is a much longer story that I will save for the next edition, but I stole my car back from the mechanic and went about my way. That was three weeks ago, and if you’re wondering where Ruby is now, well she’s still running somehow despite the fact that the car battery died once more despite changing it, and every time I go to start my car I feel like I should play lotto. But despite all this chaos I could not be more grateful for Ruby. She has taught me endless lessons, taken me to some beautiful places, and allowed me to make hysterical memories.

Study Abroad

2 Months, 19 Days, 5 hours, 55 Minutes

* Please Note: This blog post is a part of my scholarship application for Education New Zealand & Tortuga *

At this exact moment, I am 2 months, 19 days, 5 hours, and 55 minutes away from having my three year dream of studying abroad in New Zealand become a reality.

Why New Zealand you may ask? Well…

It was fall semester of my freshman year of college, and rather than work on the 5 page paper due the next day, I instead opted to Google places to study abroad. An article about studying in Wellington, New Zealand came up and it was love at first Google search. I proceeded to spend the next hour (or three) researching everything there was to know about New Zealand, Victoria University, and Wellington. The avid hiker and explorer in me swooned over the snowy mountain tops, steaming hot springs, and chilling glaciers of New Zealand. The artist, filmmaker and museum enthusiast in me gushed over Wellington’s Cuba Street lined with galleries and vintage shops, “Wellywood’s” amazing history, and the seemingly never ending halls in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. And the student in me studying Digital Media Production and Sociology grew intrigued by the unique programs Victoria University had in Design for Social Innovation and the Victoria Plus Programme.

I fell head over heels with New Zealand, so much so, that I proceeded to make a three year plan on my white board of how I was going to get there. Squares connected to circles that connected to more squares. That white board could have made the set designer from the film Beautiful Minds proud.

I’ll be 100% honest with you and admit that practically nothing on that white board went according to plan, but in the best way possible. Somehow though, the plane ticket is already bought, and I’ll be packing my bags come February.

I’m a strong believer that through traveling and exploring (be it just visiting a town next door you have never been to) and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you grow the most as a person. I look forward to the lessons New Zealand will be teaching me and the person I will become at the end of this journey.

I have always said that no matter where I end up in this life there are three things I want to be doing:

  1. Creating anything and everything.
  2. Making a difference.
  3. Traveling and experiencing new things.

Although I don’t know exactly what the next few months abroad have in store for me, I truly believe that the experiences I will have, the amazing classes I will take, the lessons learned, and the people I meet will be extremely influential in shaping who I will be in the future both personally and professionally.

I’ll be making it a point to update this blog frequently, to share all the amazing opportunities New Zealand has for me. I took my first photograph at 4 years old and have been obsessed with creating and telling stories since. I am so fortunate to have learned skills in computer graphics, photography, videography, and writing that enable me to tell the stories I want in many forms.

It’s been three years of work to make this dream come true. Summer jobs, winter jobs, a myriad of applications, and working 20 hours a week during the semester to try to save as much as possible. It’s been a lot of hardwork, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.