Latest Posts

Oahu, a Hawaiian Paradise!

 

If you have never visited Hawaii before, I really think that you need to re-assess your bucket list and add this heavenly place to your must go places to visit! The island of Oahu is one of the many islands that you could visit in Hawaii and the one that I’m covering today; however, I am planning to go to Maui soon (next month ūüėČ )and I am planning to blog about it as well so make your you don’t miss that. ¬†For now, let’s talk about Oahu!

“E mahalo kakou I ka mea loa’a”

“Let us be thankful for what we have”

Hawaiian Proverb

Getting there: 

Honolulu (airport code is HNL) offers a very easy to navigate international airport with 3 main terminals.  If you are planning to visit a neighbor islands, you have the option to take a a domestic flight from this airport.  I flew from Phoenix, AZ and went with American Airlines with a direct flight.  It was about a 6 hour flight and cost me $650 although a friend of mine was able to secure a great deal for $351 so make sure you shop around.

By the way, many get confused between Oahu and Honolulu. ¬†In a nutshell, Oahu is one of the main 8 Hawaiian islands, while Honolulu is a city located in the island of Oahu. ¬†Most of Hawaii’s population live in Oahu.

Lodging:

There is a hotel for every type of person in this island which adds to its already established reputation of being a paradise destination.  We chose to stay at a budget friendly hotel located within a quick walk to Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.  Best decision ever for those that mainly want to relax by the beach, on a budget, while also enjoying the variety of restaurtans the are nearby.

Things to do:

1- RELAX!

Seriously…find the nearest beach (not too difficult to do while vacationing on an island), order your favorite drink, and breathe in…YOU ARE IN HAWAII!

Please…if you are a sensational chick, a nice pedicure will make you feel like a $100 bucks!

2- HIKE

While many might prefer to spend most of their time by the water scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, etc…you might want to consider joining a hike through one of the tours to enjoy the beautiful mountain views along with some impressive city views…so don’t leave your tennis shoes at home!

CCA7C3A8-F23D-4B20-90C2-CC3478EEB1FF

We chose to give the Pali Lookout a try and we were pleasantly surprised with the experience. ¬†Not only it is within 10 minutes of downtown but you will be treated to some of the the most beautiful panoramic views. ¬†It does get a a little windy and some don’t like that but I personally had the best time!

E0BEC644-8B28-4695-A64E-46C0DF8D9594

Pali Lookout Views

3- Maita’i Catamaran

This is the best way to enjoy a scenic lazy day with a group of friends and family.  Just take a spot in the boat, grab your favorite drink and get ready to enjoy the ocean breeze, and the views of the most iconic places of this island, including Waikiki beach.  I just threw on a very comfortable French Connection cotton dress that was perfect for the day.

4D7B3098-E191-499B-B830-0E96D4B34703

Maita’ Catamaran in Oahu, Hawaii

4- Pearl Harbor Memorial

This is a must do ESPECIALLY if you love history.  While security is tight and you will not be allowed to bring in certain things such as back packs, and cameras bags, (which you will be able to leave in a locker) the experience is amazing.   You will have the option to do a half or full day tour which makes planning for other activities really flexible.

77B0CEBC-E758-4CE2-B374-ED8799916BEC

5- Byodo-In Temple

Last but not least, I do want to highlight this incredible Buddhist temple.  I am so grateful for the friends that highly recommended this often overlooked Hawaiian landmark.  Click HERE for the link to their website so you can get admission details.  If you are looking for a quiet and peaceful experience in a traditional Buddhist temple, this is the place to go.

IMG_5755

What to Bring

So you made up your mind and you are ready to go? Below is a list of things that I would highly recommend that you don’t forget:

  1. Bathing suit…of course!
  2. Sun glasses
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Comfortable shoes: I wore flip flops while on the beach but also brought my tennis shoes for the hike
  5. Camera
  6. A small bag to take to the beach or on tours to carry a towel, etc. ¬†(I highly recommend bags that you won’t worry about if it gets wet)
  7. Light dresses, comfortable jeans, tank tops

That’s all I have for now. ¬†I hope this post inspire you to think or plan your next vacation. ¬†I would love to hear your comments below on whether you are planning to go or have been to Hawaii before. ¬†As I said earlier, I am planning another trip to Maui next month and would love to hear your recommendations.

Hope you are having a sensational day!

Nicole

 

 

 

Charming Seville, Spain!

Hello my sensational travelers!

I have been meaning to blog about Sevilla for a little over a week now and I am finally getting to it tonight!  In a nutshell, you should not go to Spain without visiting this electrifying city.  All you need is 2 Р3 days to enjoy what this energetic city has to offer.

The weather was great in October. ¬†It averaged about 78 degrees Fahrenheit and we enjoyed sunny skies. ¬†We also arrived to Sevilla by bus. ¬†I have to say that it was pretty easy to get there from Sagres, Portugal (about 8 hour ride) and I found the bus transportation system easy to use. ¬†We stayed at a Hilton and while it had a nice accommodation, it was a little removed from downtown so we had to take a taxi every day (which wasn’t difficult). ¬†If I had to do it again, I would stay in a more centric place.

Personally, my favorite landmark was the Cathedral.  Not only is considered the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world but it is truly captivating to just look at it.  So if you have a couple dates to visit this city, these would be my top 5 most visit / do:

  1. Visit the Cathedral of Sevilla
  2. Climb the Giralda Tower (the view at the top is incredible!)
  3. Visit the Real Alcazar
  4. Bring home some olive oil and cherry wine
  5. Have tapas and an authentic paella
  6. Watch a flamenco performance…ok, we ended with top 6 instead of 5 ūüôā

But let me explain it better with pictures!

 

 

Cathedral Entrance

At one of the many entrances of the Cathedral

 

Cathedral at Night

The Cathedral at night

img_0416

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon with some sangria and tapas

Ovejas Negras Sevilla Spain

If you are looking for a restaurant, I highly recommend Ovejas Negras.  Great ambiance, moderately priced and delicious food.

Giralda Tower View

Giralda Tower view next to a handsome olive tree ūüėČ

I sure miss Sevilla, and I want to go back!  Have you been? Did you like it as much as I did? I am excited to hear about your experience in the comment section below.

Until next time my friends!

Nicole

 

 

July Goals: Catch Up Month..Yikes.

So here is the thing about goals…LIFE HAPPENS and more often than not we need to learn how to be gentle with ourselves so we are motivated to pick up where we left and move forward. ¬†With that said, I’m going to need to revisit my June goals and evaluate what still needs to be done…that’s why this is my catch up month ;). ¬†Below are the goals that I posted last month. ¬†I am really committed to do better in July…let’s do it!

Career:

  • Read ‚ÄúHow Women Rise‚ÄĚ by Sally Helgesen & Marshal Goldsmith. I really want to read this book in July so let’s keep this one.
  • Network with at least 3 people at my job that can guide me in professional advancement interests. ¬†Done!
  • Inspire and engage my team by generating weekly material regarding development. ¬†Done! ¬†I will continue to do this but no need to document here anymore.

Health & Fitness:

  • Log at least 45 miles. ¬†That would be an improvement when compared to May (39 miles)
  • Yoga once a week
  • Daily calorie count in the sprit of being self aware
  • Try three new healthy recipes

Finance:

  • Clean up MINT app so that I can properly track expenses
  • Revisit 401K contributions. 401K contributions are maxed out for the rest of the year…so happy that I am back on track after going through the home purchase.
  • Make a budget I can stick to for the rest of the year.
  • Plan a budget-friendly trip

Spirituality:

  • Meditate at least three times a week for 15 minutes
  • Spend time with the Lord every morning
  • Finish lesson 3 & 4 of Proverbs Bible study

Relationships:

  • Visit grandma every weekend
  • Make dad‚Äôs feel special on Father‚Äôs Day! Had a beautiful day with my uncle and reached out to many dad’s.
  • Attend my best friend‚Äôs kids birthday parties
  • Reach out to two close friends that I have lost contact with recently
  • Invite Nancy and Dana to see my new house

Self development:

  • Be able to play Wayfaring Stranger in the piano
  • Improve blogging skills by posting 3 times a week
  • Finish photography lesson..

I’m really looking forward to July and making some of these happen, wish me luck! ¬†What about you? ¬†Do you set up goals for yourself on a regular basis? ¬†Are you gentle with yourself when you don’t? ¬†I hope you are!

Looking forward to your comments and until next time!

Nicole

Let’s go to Portugal!

Widely known for it’s beaches and wine (especially Port!), Portugal is also a country rich in history, beautiful landscapes and great food.

Here is some general info about the country. ¬†Portugal’s total population is about 10 million people (at the time of this writing) and their main language is Portuguese; however, English is also widely spoken in most urban areas. ¬†You might also find you have an advantage if you speak Spanish or French. ¬†Make sure you bring Euros as that’s their main currency.

The weather in the month of October is usually ranging from 59 to 78 degree Fahrenheit and we personally enjoyed sunny skies. ¬†It couldn’t get any better.

In this post I want to highlight two of my favorite places in Portugal. ¬†Let’s go!

Pena Castle Palace

This beautiful and romantic palace is located in the Municipality of Sintra which is about 40 minutes from Lisbon. ¬†Not only the colorful and impotent castle is a sight to look, but Sintra is a welcoming city that you don’t want to miss.

 

DSC00113

This is me at the main entrance of the castle

DSC00121

Side view of the Pena National Castle

Also, the castle is located at the top of the mountains which offers a majestic view!

Pena Castle View

View from the Pena National Castle in Sintra, Portugal

While in Sintra, you also want to visit the Castle of the Moors located just at a walking distance from the Pena National Palace.

Sagres РEnd of the World

Definitely my favorite spot in Portugal. ¬†If you are looking for a place to watch some of the most beautiful sunsets by magnificent cliffs, this is the place to be! It is located in the Algarve region in the Southern area of Portugal. ¬†We rented a car, and it took us about 3.5 hours to get there. ¬†The drive was easy and scenery. Sagres is quiet and you won’t find a lot of tourists there. ¬† It also marks the most southwestern point of Europe. ¬†You will want to visit this place if you want to experience what many believed to be “the end of the world”.

Sagres Portugal

Sagres’ Cliffs, Portugal – End of the World

DSC00271

Sagres Fortress – Portugal

DSC00311

Beautiful sunset at Sagres, Portugal

DSC00242

Cliffs at Sagres, Portugal

What did you think? ¬†Is Portugal on your bucket list? ¬†I am now fascinated by cliffs because of this trip and I can’t wait to discover similar places. ¬†If you know of any and have recommendations, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below. ¬†If you are reading this post, chances are that you perhaps have some recommendations and I would love to hear what you have to share.

Thank you for reading and until next time!

Nicole @ Sensational Chick

 

 

 

 

My First Green Juice!

So I decided to give it a try.  While I never doubted all the health benefits associated with juicing such as an increase in energy levels, weight loss and building immunity, I had still to make one.  For some odd reason I thought I had to be a well known and proclaimed celebrity juicer with a secret recipe and sophisticated blender.  Now that I look back, I realize that I was just making excuses for myself so if you are in a similar boat, I am going to make it really simple for you.  Here we go:

  1. Ingredients: 8 ounces of water (you can substitute with almond milk for a creamier version), kale, cucumber, spinach, green apple lemon, and ginger (ginger paste will also work).  Feel free to use the amounts of each ingredient that works best for your tastebuds as long as you are properly balancing them all.

    Green juice veg

    Spinach, cucumber, kale, green apple, lemon, and ginger

  2. Mix it all in a blender: No need for a super duper blender. This affordable Black and Decker one will work just fine.  I bought mine at Amazon, click here if you want to take a look.
Green juice blender

Mix everything in a blender

3.   Green Juice..Check!  And there you have it.  A simple and delicious green juice that will help you feel more energized throughout the day.  Personally, I love it the most when I mix it with almond milk although mixing it with water will still give you a tasty lighter version of the juice.

Green juice

Yummy green juice, enjoy!

Can’t wait to here your thoughts and insights on additional recipes that you might have. ¬†Don’t hesitate to leave a comment as I want to try other versions.

Have a sensational day and until next time!

Nicole

It’s Fiji Time!

What time is it? It’s Fiji time! ¬†That’s the most serious answer I could get when visiting the enchanting archipelago! ¬†After a few days, you really no longer care what time it is ;).

Fiji consists of an archipelago of over 330 islands.  From those 110 are permanently inhabited. They rely mainly on revenue from the tourism industry and sugar exports.  And yes, Fiji bottle water is from Fiji!

Getting there and cost:

In my previous post “Beautiful Sydney, Australia” I revealed one of my most precious discoveries…I purchased my trip through Groupon under the getaway section. ¬†I live in sunny Arizona, and the deal departed from Los Angeles. ¬†A day day trip to Sydney and Fiji cost me $1999.00 and it included roundtrip airfare, all hotel accommodations (pretty decent ones) and transfers to hotels from the airport. ¬†The airfare alone would have cost me $2000.00 if I would have tried to do it on my own so I was pretty happy with the package.

Nadi International Airport is their main entry point and is located in their main and largest island Viti Levu.  The airport is relatively small which makes it easy to get through.  Also, the Fijian people are incredibly welcoming so you should make some time  talking to them and learning more about their ways of living.  There is much to learn and you will enjoy the conversation.

Temperature is mostly warm all year around.  I personally experienced an average of 78 degrees Fahrenheit in mid September.  It was perfect!

Below are a few pictures of my wonderful time in Fiji with my friend Nancy!

Savala Island: 

IMG_1819

Savala Island

Oolala day trip to Savala Island was a great choice!  We got to enjoy the crystal blue waters of this deserted island.  Great snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming.   Personally, I just wanted to enjoy the water and relax under an umbrella with a refreshing drink!  It was a memorable day!

IMG_1814

Nancy and I at the beach (Savala Island)

IMG_1802

Yes, the water is that clear! ¬†That’s me! Nicole ūüôā

The Garden of the Sleeping Beauty:

Another great attraction that you won’t want to miss is the The Garden of the Sleeping Giant. ¬†This garden houses Fiji’s native plants as well as an impressive collection of orchids. ¬†We spent about half a day at the garden but you could spend the entire day walking through the place and enjoying the peace and beauty of this majestic place.

IMG_1862

Nicole at The Garden of the Sleeping Giant

IMG_1879

Don’t you love the tree huggers? They protect the garden!

 

The garden houses more than 2000 kinds of orchids.

Namaka Market:

You can’t come to Fiji without experiencing kava! ¬†Fijians use kava to hold a special ceremony whenever they have a special guest. ¬†The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. ¬†Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia, and areas of Micronesia.

 

Mud Pools:

Interested in hitting the spa?  What about a very natural spa?  While in Fiji, you can visit their popular mud pools.  They are made from hot spring water that is mixed with volcanic ash to form a mud bath pool.  Fijians claim that to take full advantage of its therapeutic value your first need to coat yourself in mud, followed by standing in the sun until it dries.  The last step is to wash it off in the hot spring water.

IMG_1882

Last stage of the mud pool “process”.

IMG_1880

Does it look therapeutic to you?!?

Fiji Hindu Temple:

IMG_1836

Sri Siva Subramaniya Tempe

If you want to experience the cultural and architectural diversity that Fiji is known for, then Sri Siva Subramaniya is a must stop.

Will I go back?

Yes, in a heartbeat!  I would probably also combine it with a trip to New Zealand.

What do you think? ¬†Are you planning to go to Fiji any time soon? ¬†Have you been before? ¬†I want to know your thoughts so please don’t hesitate to comment. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Nicole

Beautiful Sydney, Australia

Is visiting Sydney part of your bucket list? Well, it was sure part of mine and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. ¬†Traveling to Australia was a dream come true. ¬†While I knew that I was going to have a lovely time, the city exceeded my expectations by far. ¬†Personally, I traveled from Phoenix, Arizona and although it was a long flight to get there, I will do it again in a heart beat! ¬†It is definitely a place that I want to go back to! ¬†Here is a summary of my amazing trip.

Getting to Sydney and cost:

I found what I thought was a great deal in Groupon!  Yes, I said Groupon.  A 10 day trip to Sydney and Fiji cost me $1999.00 and included round trip airfare from Los Angeles, CA, all hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, and transportation to and from the airport to the hotels.  Click here to be directed to the Getaway section of Groupon and search for your all inclusive trip.  The hotel locations were in a very centric place and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the hotel accommodations.

I will warn that the trip was loooong.  A 14 hour flight is not easy to take; however, the City of Sydney is so beautiful is well worth it.  I also went at the beginning of September and the weather could have not been better as the temperature ranged from 60 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you are in Sydney: 

You will be amazed by how friendly the people are, the streets are incredible clean, and the architecture is incredible. ¬†Sydney Harbor is like an aquatic playground. ¬†With only a few days to spare, I chose to purchase a Hop On Hop Off Cruise ticket that would allow me to explore Sydney by water. ¬†The cruise had a very flexible schedule that stopped at the main landmarks and destinations including: Darling Harbor, Circular Quay, Watsons Bay, Manly, and Luna Park. ¬†Once you are at the Sydney Harbor you won’t miss the majestic views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Bridge. ¬†You can purchase the Hop On Hop Off ticket for about $38 for a 24 hour pass.

DSC01256

Hop On Hop Off Cruise – 24 hour pas

 

IMG_1779

View of the Opera House from the Hop On Hop Off Cruise

One of my most beautiful memories is riding in the Hop On Hop Off Cruise and taking the incredible view of the city from it. ¬†You might want to note that the term “cruise” is used lightly since it is more like a boat designed to transport people from landmark to landmark.

Many is another stop that you will want to take advantage of.  The place reminded me a little of Southern California.  The island has a laid back vibe, with bike trails, great restaurants, activities and much more.  The atmosphere is welcoming and it is a great way to spend the afternoon.

IMG_1753

Manly Beach

 

Taronga Zoo:

You don’t want to miss this attraction! ¬†Not only it is one of the many convenient stops from the Hop On Hop Off, but you don’t want to miss the charismatic kangaroos that Australia is so well known for.

IMG_1726

My friend Nancy and I at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

IMG_1733

My date for the trip!

Blue Mountains:

Katoomba is the name of the city that houses Australia’s Blue Mountains. ¬†If you are interested in leaving Sydney for a day this is a great option. ¬†Katoomba is located less than two hours from Sydney by train. ¬†The train is easy to use. ¬†All you have to do is purchase a day pass and get on board. ¬†This part of Australia reminded me a little of the red mountains in Sedona, Arizona. ¬†The main difference is that the mountains have a a natural blue haze that results from the forest when it releases oil that then mixes with water vapor and sunlight.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DSC01446

The Three Sisters at Echo Point

DSC01425

Main Entrance

Will I Return?

Absolutely yes! ¬†There are so many other places that I didn’t get to visit in Sydney. ¬†While I was proud of myself for finding such a great deal in Groupon, I have to admit that I would have liked to stay longer if I would have known what a gorgeous place this is.

Hope you found this post beneficial. ¬†Let me know what you think and if you are planning to visit anytime soon. ¬†I am planning to go again in a year or two so I’ll be interested in your thoughts if you have visited this amazing spot on Earth recently. ¬†Let me know and until next time!

Nicole

 

Embracing Change Through the Power of Optimism

glass-300558_1280Have you ever met a pessimist that is open to new ideas?¬† I haven‚Äôt.¬† That’s what led me to reflect on the impact of optimism in the workplace this week.¬† When I say optimism, I am not talking about ‚Äúwishful thinking‚ÄĚ but a personal choice to focus on the best possible outcome even after acknowledging the not so good.

I a am a leader for a ¬†company ranked in the Top 50 of the Fortune Magazine and as you can imagine, change is the norm! When ‚Äúchange is the only constant in life‚ÄĚ is probably best that we learn how to embrace it and what better way than cultivating an optimistic outlook.

According to Inc Magazine, many of the issues business leaders struggle with, including personal ‚Äď professional balance, get easier when we approach them with optimism.¬† Personally, I believe it so I am extending the right to each one of you to call me out on it if I ever sound like a Debbie Downer!

Click here for the link to the Forbes article that inspired me to write this note in the spirit of self-development.  In summary:

  1. Optimists start businesses. They see opportunity when others see uncertainty!
  2. Optimists are inspiring communicators. They are often very charismatic.
  3. Optimists rally people to a better future. They are always excited about it!
  4. Optimists see the big picture. They see beyond their most recent experience.
  5. Optimists elicit super human effort. Who doesn’t like a super hero reference!?

I hope you enjoy the article and feel free to email me directly if you have topics that you would like to learn more about.

Until next time!

Nicole

I got a puppy!

IMG_5442It is official! ¬†I am the proud owner of an 8 week tiny Boston Terrier! ¬†I am beyond excited and loving every minute of it, even those precious minutes that add up to hours in the middle of the night. ¬†Yes…she whines non stop and wants tons of attention but I am here to give it ūüôā

For many years I considered getting a dog. ¬†I’ve had two beautiful kitties for over 12 years and I always thought that getting one would interfere with my work (I travel a lot) and limit my flexibility but I finally realized that I kept on making excuses for myself. ¬†Yes, she comes with work, but she also comes with love, kisses, joy, laughs, and sweetness. ¬†Her name is Boston and so far the kitties are ignoring her. ¬†I hear that they will adjust to each other just fine since the puppy was introduced to them at a really young age.

Now I keep on wondering why did I wait so long to get a puppy?! ¬†She brings¬†so much happiness to my life that I wish I would have done it earlier. ¬†Are you also thinking of getting a puppy? ¬†I want to hear all about it! ¬†Leave a comment or even better share a picture! ¬†Not sure if we can share pictures on the comment section of WordPress that wouldn’t that be fun? ūüėČ

Nicole

 

June Sensational Goals

June 2018 GoalsI am really excited to start my first official blog by documenting my goals for the month of June.  There is something to be said about reflecting in advance what I would like to see accomplished in the next 30 days.  Personally, it brings me joy!  The act of proactively taking  control over my life makes me feel empowered and in charge of my destiny.  I am proud of the woman that I have become and I am determined to have a say on the woman that I will become tomorrow.  Here we go!

Career:

  • Read “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen & Marshal Goldsmith
  • Network with at least 3 people at my job that can guide me in professional advancement interests
  • Inspire and engage my team by generating weekly material regarding development

Health & Fitness:

  • Log at least 45 miles. ¬†That would be an improvement when compared to May (39 miles)
  • Yoga once a week
  • Daily calorie count in the sprit of being self aware
  • Try three new healthy recipes

Finance:

  • Clean up MINT app so that I can properly track expenses
  • Revisit 401K contributions
  • Make a budget I can stick to for the rest of the year
  • Plan a budget-friendly trip

Spirituality:

  • Meditate at least three times a week for 15 minutes
  • Spend time with the Lord every morning
  • Finish lesson 3 & 4 of Proverbs Bible study

Relationships:

  • Visit grandma every weekend
  • Make dad’s feel special on Father’s Day!
  • Attend my best friend’s kids birthday parties
  • Reach out to two close friends that I have lost contact with recently
  • Invite Nancy and Dana to see my new house

Self development:

  • Be able to play Wayfaring Stranger in the piano
  • Improve blogging skills by posting 3 times a week
  • Finish photography lesson

Don’t forget to be fabulous in June!

Nicole