Meet me at the Ontario Mills 'Accessorize Your Spring Sale' Makeover Event

Thursday, May 5, 2016

*This is a Sponsored Post with Images Courtesy of Simon Center*

As most mom/daughter relationships go, we have a thing: We LOVE to go shopping! As in, shopping is not just something that we have to do, but is instead an all-out event that we look forward to.

Shopping to us always includes breakfast, lunch and between checking out what's in, hot and now...and of course some much needed mother/daughter bonding time happens in between the racks.

Sometimes we shop for an event, say a wedding, while other times we just look through aisles in the hopes that we find something that we "need."

I tend to be all over the map with my style inspirations (blame it on my inner creative), while my mama has a classic style that is so uniquely shopping is always a great time because I give her options that she might not otherwise think about; and mom, of course, has made me fall in love with accessories. Or, in my mom's own words, I have learned to live by the motto that "a pair of shoes, purse or accessories, will instantly elevate an outfit."

Now it's my turn to share my love of shopping by giving moms accessory styling tips during the Ontario Mills Accessorize your Spring Sale on Saturday, May 7 starting at 1 p.m.

When you stop by to meet me I promise to also share a gifting ideas for the moms in your life and hand-out a few $50 Gift Cards when you follow my tweets, Facebook updates, and Instagram photos...And just in case you can't meet me on Saturday, don't worry - the sale runs until May 31st!

With a wide selection of jewelry, bags, shoes, hats, sunglasses, tech gear and accessories, moms, and those shopping for moms on their special day, can shop effortlessly to find stylish accents for spring - with my help, of course!

Savvy shoppers (you!) will also find additional savings at all of the centers’ over 200 brand-name retailers, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, Brooks Brothers, Tommy Bahama Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger, J.Crew and more with deeply discounted spring merchandise and a sneak peek of summer arrivals.

Make sure to find your #founditatsimon accessory finds by tagging them with #accessorize so I can check them out and like them on social media.

Ana Lydia

Bloggy Time at #LLBLOGHumpDay

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When I announced that the world famous #LALLBLOG / #LBNC Lifestyle Blogger National Conference would be retired, I received emails, calls, messages and the such, to tell me that I was leaving an unfillable void in an otherwise (blogger) conference world filled with fluff.

Besides the educational value that #LALLBLOG / #LBNC brought to the blogging industry, attendees lamented the inability from other events to create a conference environment conducive to the same camaraderie that we encouraged.

Former #LALLBLOG / #LBNC attendees also compared conference food with the foodie delights that became our trademark, our speakers and panels against recycled content, and well, you get an idea...

Hearing these stories for the last few months has not only made me feel great about the work that I have done for the last six years, but has also made it truly hard to not go back on my decision to pivot the #LLBLOG blogging community.

Since my announcement earlier this year, I have been working under the radar in between Film School and life to create, yet another, series of Blogger/Influencer events that will 'inspire' others and shake-up the industry - in a good way, of course.

In addition to our first #LLBLOGnotaConf, which will be held in the GORGEOUS Carmel by the Sea, in mid-May, I just announced the first #LLBLOGHumpDay Lunch that will be hosted by the LA Oaxacan restaurant Tlayuda LA on Wednesday, May 4.

Besides the yummy food that we will delight on, I expect to have a great time chatting about blogging trends and the likes with other bloggers and influencers - and share more details about the pivot #LLBLOG is currently undergoing.

I hope you join me at either, or both events, by RSVPing here:

#LLBLOGNotaConf Blogger & Influencer Getaway

#LLBLOGHumpDay Blogger & Influencer Lunch

Ana Lydia

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Opens in Universal Studios Hollywood

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

One of the benefits of having a family member, in my case my hubby, work for a major Hollywood studio, is having access to things (activities, movies, et all) that normal folks, like me, don't have; and while rarely share these experiences or talk about them, let alone blog about them, I knew that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening up at Universal Studios Hollywood is all sorts of exciting for pretty much everyone in So Cal, let alone Los Angeles, so I made an exception.

So I got to see and experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter a couple of weeks back in a super exclusive, super private, like less than a few hundred people in the park, event. As in, there was NO LINE and we got on all rides twice (all rides being a total of two rides).

Let me get this out of the way: Other than my niece and stepdaughter being COMPLETELY obsessed with Harry Potter, I only recently saw the first two movies. So I am NOT a huge and lifelong Harry Potter fan. But I do like the movie series (because I haven't read the books) and especially love anything with owls. So there you go.

That being said, you can imagine that I was going in with childlike wonder yet not huge expectations about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but excited none-the-less.

Let's start of with what's important: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood IS a true representation of the production design and art direction of the movies.

Absolutely and beyond a measure of a doubt: GORGEOUS.

The Hogwarts Castle is especially breathtaking and perched atop a man-made hill that overlooks the San Fernando Valley, I promise you that no view outside of Universal Studios Hollywood could possibly compare to the beauty of this location. Period and end of story.

As for the entertainment and rides. Let me get right to it: There are TWO rides (The Hogwarts Castle and the rollercoaster); ONE interactive get-your-wand show (that is merely preparing eager eyed Harry Potter fans to walk into a wand shoppe and spend a pretty penny); and one occasional (possibly hourly) sidewalk/outside performance that was all sorts of -meh-.

As for the rides, because they are, ahem, "size prohibitive," (I saw several people get turned away because they didn't fit into the chairs), I suggest that before you get your hopes up and stand in line with a few hundred people to try out the chairs for size if you are a little on the hefty/pudgy/large/plus size. (and by pudgy, I'm a size 16 and 5'9" and had plenty of room - but I don't have a large *upstairs* or large belly, if you know what I mean)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has one large restaurant - which the architecture alone is worth the dining experience; two Butterbear stands, and several shops. Actually, most of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is composed of shops...lots and lots of shops, with so much branded and themed merchandise that I was overwhelmed going through it all (and I'm a shopper!).

Then there is the train as soon as you walk in, but even with a private super exclusive private party with very few people, it was very hard to get to it or take a photo from afar.

Did I like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood? Absolutely. Both my hubby and I enjoyed it VERY much!

Was the food good? I would rate the food above the amusement park norm; and the world famous Butterbeer was just a bit too sweet for me, but as liquidy foamy butterscotchey as it was, my hubby loved it so much that he ordered two and walked around with a sugar high for the rest of the day.

But, and this is my but: I was there with a few hundred people in mild weather...and the sidewalks already felt crowded and hot, so I can't possibly imagine what it will be like to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood when it opens or during the peak summer months.

That said, a true diehard fan will have the time of their life and the interactive ride inside of the Hogwarts Castle is definitely worth riding (given a choice, I would ride this one over the rollercoaster), and if you can't possibly stand the lines on a hot San Fernando Valley day, definitely try the restaurant. (Note: Rumor has it that folks will wait upwards of two hours, possibly more, to enjoy the rides - so be prepared).

Ana Lydia

"Falling Out" Short Film

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's been some time since my last school update, so I thought I would tell you about my first narrative short film: "Falling Out."

“Falling Out” is a short film about the friendship between Tiffany and her best friend Amanda...and the ultimate betrayal no woman should experience. 

I wrote and directed "Falling Out" after being inspired by social media rants about female frenemies  - especially those that happen as we go through different stages of our lives.

I wrote, produced and directed "Falling Out" for my Directing course, given the following parameters:

- No more than three minutes in length (it was 3.30 - so points off for that!)
- 2-3 Adult Actors
- No Children or Animals
- Focused on showcasing my directing talent 

While planning is a forte of mine, no planning could have prevented the imbalance and questionable focus from the footage in my main camera. Try as we may, we couldn't make that footage work, so we had to reshoot one scene and use most of the footage from the camera that was never on a tripod. 

In other words, we made it work as best we could.

As for my story,  I'm especially proud that my professor totally got my story and continuously praises me for my storytelling abilities. In a room full of men, this was no small feat - so excuse me as I jump up and down with sheer excitement.

Film, I have come to found out, is a collaborative industry. So it goes without saying that I'm beyond grateful for all the help and hard work from our crew, the creative talent of our beautiful actors brought to our film, the amazing support from Einstein's Bagels, and the delicious snacks from Crispy Fruit!

There's still many stories to tell, but I can't do it without your support. So please see "Falling Out" and share with your friends. 

With gratitude,

Ana Lydia

Spicy Citrus Shrimp Soup Recipe

Monday, March 14, 2016

*Sponsored Post that also Contains Affiliate Links*

During lenten season, Catholics like myself, honor this holy time by abstaining from eating meat either for the entire forty days of the season, or on Fridays leading up-to Easter Sunday. 

As a Mexican-American, I tend to cook the vegetarian dishes that are typically made during this season in Mexico (by way of Guadalajara); but sometimes I mix it up a bit by giving those traditional dishes a new spin to make them more appealing to my non-Latino hubby, or add a fusion twist to non-Latino dishes that are perfect for meatless days.

While shrimp soup is one of those dishes that my hubby and I order at Thai restaurants, it's too light of a dish to eat as a main course; and the shrimp soup I grew up with had a combination of seafood and a fishy broth that I'm not a fan of.

Inspired by what my hubby and I love from the Thai soup and taking away what we don't like from the Mexican seafood soup, I created a recipe that was substantial enough to eat as main course when paired with a light cactus salad.

Ingredients to prepare the Spicy Shrimp Soup* include:

1 lb. Fresh medium-sized shrimp - cleaned and peeled
4 Medium-sized tomatoes - chopped
1/2 Medium-sized white onion - finely chopped 
4 Peeled carrots - chopped
4 Celery ribs - sliced
1 Peeled chayote - chopped 
1 Green bell pepper - chopped
3 Peeled small gold potatoes - chopped 
3 Garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 Spear lemongrass - sliced diagonally
2+ Serrano peppers - sliced diagonally
1/2 Bundle cilantro 
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/3-1/4 Cup Knorr Chicken Granulated Bouillon  (affiliate link)

*Serves 6-8 medium-sized bowls 

  1. Add hot water to a 4-qt stock pot leaving two-three inches at the top. Bring to a boil.
  2. Dissolve Knorr Chicken Granulated Bouillon  (affiliate link) once the water is boiling.
  3. Add the lemongrass, serrano peppers, potatoes, and carrots. Reduce the heat.
  4. Once the broth is simmering (15-20 minutes), add the bell pepper, chayote and cilantro. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  5. Heat olive oil in a 8-qt stock pot over a medium flame.
  6. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and tomatoes.
  7. Cook until the tomato is falling apart (5-10 minutes), then add the celery, turning quickly for 1-2 minutes or until the celery begins to change its color.
  8. Slowly add the broth and vegetables from the 4-qt stock pot into the 8-qt stock pot and keep cooking under medium heat.
  9. Once the soup starts a rolling boil, add the shrimp, cover and turn off the heat.
  10. Uncover the soup in 2-3 minutes, lightly mix and serve with a garnish of fresh cilantro.
Note: Keep a teapot or third pot of simmering water aside just in case you want a lighter soup or you over-seasoned your batch. Add this hot water to your soup before you add the shrimp if you need to.


I hope you enjoy this easy and flavorful soup that is sure to delight everyone sitting at your dining table - whether during the Lenten season, or on any other day of the year.

To get more Lenten season recipe ideas, or to get inspired with new and interesting Latino vegetables, I invite my friends in Southern California to visit my kind sponsor Northgate Gonzalez Market.

Ana Lydia
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