Top Three Lessons Learned In The First Year Of Blogging


Our current obsession Lia the owner of A Girl in Her Thirties blog shared her top three lessons she learned during her first year of blogging.  Be sure to check out her amazing blog as well at
Interestingly, the person who taught me to read was not a teacher, it was my mother. To motivate me, she promised she’d throw me a reading party when I was able to read my first paragraph. Her logic was, I needed to be able to read the writing on the cake. So, we practiced syallabic patterns every day, because that’s how you learn to read in Spanish, until I was ready to combine them and make words, and then we read sentences. Finally, the day of my party arrived. My mother invited everyone we knew to a park. There, she presented me with a huge sheet cake that read “Felicidades”. That day, my mother taught me that important milestones are to be celebrated.
This is why, when the anniversary of the day my blog went live came around twenty-five years later, I decided it was time to twirl around in confetti and celebrate. I invited a few of my closest friends, distant friends, and an entire community of online readers to join me in celebrating the commitment I had made to finally telling my stories and publishing my writing.

We celebrated my “blogiversary” at Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co., the new brewery in the Bird Road Arts District of Miami (more on them in a future post because they’re so amazing they deserve their own post!). We ate Boricua food, drank craft beer, and laughed for hours. Then, as is my custom, I got a little reflective. So indulge me in these self-reflections.
What I have gained from my year of blogging:
I have connected with others in a way I never had before. I have met people who have, like me, been battling with their pasts and presents. I’ve met people who love reading and writing, and people who can relate to some of these very raw and personal posts. Sometimes my writing is uncomfortable and painful for me, but when others respond to it, I realize we humans are a lot more interdependent than we like to admit. And that has humbled me.

I have gotten to know myself better. It is no secret, at least if you read my posts, that I can be very insecure. Self-doubt is like that recurring nightmare, the one where you’re free falling from a very tall building and you wake up in shock right before the moment your face smashes against the concrete. Despite my insecurities, writing this blog has helped me recognize my strengths and face my faults.

I have found a constructive way to channel my creative energy. In my life, I’ve always been in search of what’s coming next. The next job, the next place, the next anything that will make me feel something. I realize now that it’s because I’ve been created in my maker’s image. Thus making my creativity something that has been embedded in my DNA. Not being creative feels contrary to my very physical composition. I know now that what I had been searching was a way to create. And now, I no longer seek for what’s next.

What I wish for you in any creative endeavor:
Truly connect. This world will have you believe that you have to be selfish to survive. I disagree. If you’re blogging or creating art, or pursuing any other passion project, realize you have a responsibility to your craft and your audience. The least you can do is respond to others kindly with a “thank you and have a nice day”.

Aim for self-exploration. Being meta-cognitive is one of the highest skills we can develop as humans. And I am firm believer in self-actualization through self-exploration. I aim to inspire anyone who reads this blog to dig deep, to the point of discomfort, and face the things about yourself you fear most. Turn your thoughts into a hobby. Then, turn your hobby into a passion. Finally, don’t be afraid to dedicate a balanced amount of time to then perfecting your craft.

Do not stifle your creative side. I know from experience that doing so will make you feel like a bird with clipped wings. No one in your life, especially you, will benefit from you suppressing a healthy desire to create. It doesn’t have to be public or for money, just for yourself. If you’ve been thinking about painting, go buy some canvases and brushes and get to it. If you love photography, take a day off, go to your favorite spot in the city, and shoot till the battery dies. How do you know something is worth doing? If you haven’t been able to stop thinking about a project, it’s probably your heart’s way of telling you it wants to do it.
This past year has seen some of my most trying times. I know for a fact, if it hadn’t been for my writing, I would not have been able to process it all. Starting this blog was like lighting a spark that would ignite me. And that, was cause for celebration!

MISSION UNITED and Deliver the Dream to Host Veteran Family Retreat

Editor's Journal, Featured

United Way of Broward County’s veterans initiative MISSION UNITED and Deliver the Dream will hold a free Veteran Family Retreat for Broward County post 9/11 veterans and their families from Friday, July 15th to Sunday, July 17th. Retreat participants will be given a life changing opportunity to take a break from the stress of their daily life, reconnect with family members and meet other veterans. 

At the retreat, families will participate in structured activities such as assorted recreational indoor and outdoor activities, discussion groups, interactive games, creative workshops, team building exercises, and more. These activities are designed to have a positive outcome that transform coping skills, improve communication between family members, and strengthen the bonds between each family and each family member. This therapeutic retreat will also feature a panel discussion about services available to veterans through MISSION UNITED.

Dr. Papantoniou Provides 9 Ways To Get True Beauty Sleep


The quality and length of sleep you receive every night can have a profound impact on your skin’s overall health. When we sleep our bodies recharge. Not only do our bodies recharge, our skin does as well. Dr. Kaleroy Papantoniou is a board certified NYC dermatologist who explains that,

 “ During sleep we heal, restore and eliminate toxins from the skin. If sleep is compromised, so is the body’s ability to carry out these essential skin functions. During the first three hours of sleep your body will start producing the human growth hormone from the pituitary gland. As we age, this hormone is necessary for the maintenance of youthful and radiant skin. Without this hormone release, skin is not repaired from daily damage and thus induces the aging process.”


The middle two hours of sleep is when melatonin is increased. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake patterns) but also acts as an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damaging free radicals.


The final three hours, or during the active REM sleep stage, levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) decrease. Dr. Papantoniou explains that, “The skin’s temperature also drops to its lowest point allowing muscles to relax and become immobile, giving skin its deepest recovery of the night.”  


1. Supplement Your Sleep

As we age, our bodies naturally produce less melatonin, which affect our skin’s ability to repair itself at night. If falling asleep is becoming more difficult, you may benefit from taking a melatonin supplement or using a topical product with melatonin to help combat decreased hormone levels. Melatonin works best if taken at night about 30 minutes before going to bed. This is when it serves its purpose, and helps to increase the depth and duration of restorative sleep. Restorative sleep, in turn helps accelerate and optimize the skin’s repair cycle, says Dr. Papantoniou.


2. Cleanse Twice

Have you ever washed your makeup off before bed, yet mysteriously woken up with liner smudged under your eyes? Turns out that’s normal, especially if you used long-lasting makeup, which really does live up to its claim. Here’s why: 12 to 24-hour foundations, mascaras, eyeliners, and eye shadows are all made with polymers that don’t easily dissolve with soap and water, or water-based makeup remover.


Dr. Papantoniou says, “To really remove all traces of your makeup, take a cue from Korean skin care and wash your face twice using a method called “double cleansing.” First, use an oil-based cleanser to remove your makeup (the oil breaks down the waxes and polymers way more effectively than soap and water). You can purchase an oil based make-up remover for this or even use coconut oil on a Q-tip to gently remove more stubborn makeup. Then, use a gentle non-soap cleanser to rid your skin of any leftover residue. An example of a gentle cleanser is Vanicream’s Gentle Cleanser or CeraVe Facial Cleanser”


3. Moisturize

While you sleep, your skin naturally repairs and restores itself, and cleaning it before bed maximizes this effect. Dr. Papanatoniou points out that, “During the day, your skin fights off all sorts of assaults, from UV rays to pollution; at night, there’s less damage control to do, so the beauty products that you apply may be more effective. Applying night creams to clean skin in the evening is the best time to soften your face; not to mention, it can feel soothing and relaxing as you prep for sleep.”


4. Put on a Sleep Mask

“Overnight masks are a great way to treat your skin and give it extra attention,” says Dr. Papantoniou. The skin undergoes more cellular repair during sleep and can be more receptive to products at this time.” She recommends using an overnight mask a few times a week in lieu of going through your usual nighttime regimen. Simply cleanse, slather on a layer of the mask, and go to sleep.


5. Keep Your Hair Off Your Face

Pull your hair back into a loose ponytail or wrap it in a scarf before going to bed. This will prevent the hair’s natural oils from rubbing off on your skin. This is especially important if your hair is unwashed or you are prone toward acne break outs.


6. Get The Right Pillowcases

It’s worth it to invest in some soft pillowcases, because friction from harsher cotton fibers can accelerate the development of permanent creases. Dr. Papantoniou suggests trying a smooth silk or satin pillowcase, which prevents trauma to the skin and reduces the probability of your skin forming lines and wrinkles while you sleep. Also remember to change and wash your pillowcases at least once a week.


7. Rejuvenate With a Retinoid

Choose an anti-age cream or serum that packs real power. These vitamin-a derivatives are key to youthful-looking skin. “But because exposure to sunlight can deactivate their potency, it’s best to apply retinoids at night,” says Dr. Papantoniou. Start by using an OTC retinol-containing cream or serum every other night until skin becomes more tolerant to the side effects, which are often dryness and sensitivity.


8. Apply Eye Cream

 If you are having problems with eye bags and puffiness after you wake up, applying eye cream before sleeping will solve this. Gently apply the cream around your eyes especially under it to replenish the skin surrounding your eyes. Make sure you stay hydrated during the day; this can help prevent water retention and will combat your sodium intake during the day.


9. Mind Your Sleeping Position

Train yourself not to sleep face down. This habit can cause premature wrinkles and creases. It’s better to position yourself properly while sleeping. This will also prevent your face from rubbing against pillowcases and sheets. If you are lucky and can sleep on you back, that is the best way to prevent wrinkles and creases from sleep habits.

Broward College Announces Launch of Business Accelerator



Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.


“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”


Business accelerators, like the one at Broward College, share some of the characteristics of incubators; however, the businesses in an accelerator have a solid business plan and are closer to launching products or ideas to market. The acceleration period is very short and intense, and is characterized by a structured program aimed at preparing business for venture capital funding. Sponsors, including Broward College, provide initial funding, work space, and expertise to small groups that can demonstrate a path to success. In return, the sponsors take a small equity stake in the new business. Pending business circumstances, the College may invest up to a 2 percent equity stake in a business which has graduated from the accelerator.


Bob Swindell, President / CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance said, “Our community leaders understand the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as an economic engine driving growth. Broward College’s new business accelerator will be an important addition to South Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”


South Florida is quickly emerging as a desired destination for start-ups and small businesses, with 139 companies on the Inc. 5000 list. Entrepreneurs consistently cite the climate, international flair and access to Latin America, lack of income tax, cheaper cost of living than Silicone Valley and New York City, and entertainment offerings as reasons to relocate and begin their businesses in the tri-county area.


“According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 10 percent of working Americans are self-employed and about 30 percent of American jobs are held by the self-employed and the people who work for them,” said Mason Jackson, President and CEO of CareerSource Broward. “Entrepreneurship is a career pathway that should not be overlooked, and Broward College is doing something about this path to the American Dream. This is helping people fill a lifelong dream of being their own boss and at the same time stimulating economic development and job growth.”


As the entrepreneur ecosystem continues to grow, the community must adapt to meet its needs. Business development programs from CareerSource Broward and others will partner with Broward College to create programming and provide mentorship and contacts to businesses across the South Florida corporate landscape through the accelerator. Curriculum will cover everything from coding and marketing to accounting and human resources, while the collaborative environment will foster the exchange of best practices and ideas across ventures. 

Located on the seventh floor, the new accelerator will continue building on the creative energy ignited by FAT Village and others with a split floorplan and characteristically cool features associated with the startup community. One side of the dedicated floor will cater to shared space and small meeting spaces surrounding a training and idea center with white boards, tables and décor to inspire creativity and camaraderie. The other side of the space will be outfitted for networking events and business presentations with access to an expansive veranda overlooking bustling Las Olas Boulevard.

The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside — or have weekly contact with — the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.


For more information on the business accelerator, please contact Don Cook, executive director of marketing at (954) 201-7238 or

Trustworthy You Should Try Green Bar & Kitchen


Kimchi 'Beef' Tacos_Green Bar Express

Flavorful, familiar and filling are the words that instantly come to mind when describing the menu at Green Bar & Kitchen (1075 SE 17th Street Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.) The restaurant has managed to masterfully create plant-based dishes that walk a fine line of exotic and familiar. You will not find your standard vegetarian burger at this place. Instead you can attend “Taco Tuesday” or stop in on Wednesdays and enjoy a sweet and savory wonton which is filled with vegan cream cheese and one of Green Bar and Kitchen’s signature burger mixes.

Veggies Running Wild
The menu line up will leave you feeling like there is nothing off limits for Green Bar Kitchen, which is the overall goal. The owners Elena Pezzo and Charlie Grippo along with their new chef and director of operations, Adam Brigham want you to come over to the green side and the menu demonstrates that. Imagine chowing down on a chick’n salad sandwich that tastes exactly chicken and finding out that the only ingredients are: peas, soy protein, mayo celery, red onion, raisins and cranberries on millet/flax bread. Or imagine having plant-based version of loaded fries placed in front of you that are seasoned with chili, cheese and scallions.

“We really want to show people that they can actually go vegan and not feel like they are missing out,” Pezzo said.

It is our humble opinion that they accomplish that goal. While we can appreciate the new spices one might unearth while crossing over to a plant-based diet, there is a unique and long lasting effect that comes with being able to recreate dishes that you have eaten for years that end up being much better for you.

“You are not going to end up feeling tired or heavy after one of our dishes. You will have energy. That is how you should want to feel after a meal. You should be full and energized,” Brigham said.
Trustworthy Tip

Don’t be afraid to give the dessert menu a try. While our past encounters with vegan desserts have left a strange after taste in our mouths, we are certain that won’t happen to you at Green Bar & Kitchen. We did the leg work. The restaurant’s baker Mikalea Barnes ,who admittedly is not vegan but just bakes that way, employs her dual palate when creating the restaurant’s signature desserts. She has earned the title of the “Non-Dairy Fairy.” You can find doughnuts, cupcakes, whoopie pies and soft serve ice cream. P.S. They also do brunch. You’re welcome.

Dinner snacks range from $3-$7. Soups and salads range from $5-$13. Burgers range from $9-$12. Tacos and bowls range from $10-$12.