Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Christmas in Pictures

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas with your loved ones. We had quite an eventful holiday, but it was wonderful. I love that we get to do so much and see so many people from BOTH sides of our families.

(I know I keep saying this, but I just wish that my Mami and my Mom were still here!!! I miss them soooo much!!!)

The best gift (other than this baby of course!) was having Roxana home for the holidays. We were completely and utterly surprised to find her at her parents home on Dec. 20. WOW!!! Richard cried so much when he saw his sister. I cried, too! (In fact, writing this makes me all teary-eyed again.) Roxana has been gone for two years. She's been cloistered in a monastery with Carmelite nuns who are not allowed to go out and have any contact with family. When we visit, we see her in her nun outfit (or penguin suit, as we say jokingly!) through some metal bars. It's been very tough for her family, but this is the life she has chosen. For whatever reason, she was allowed to leave and she is here with us for THREE months! She wants to go back, but I pray that she stays. Not because I don't want her to be a nun, but because I don't want her to be a cloistered nun. I want her to do what she feels is right, but we want her to share with her family. When her grandma was critically ill in the hospital, we couldn't even reach Roxana to let her know -- and if we had reached her, she wouldn't have been allowed to visit the hospital anyway. Thankfully, Abuela Meri is home and doing well.

Here is a photo of Roxana and Richard the day she came home.

And here she is with her mom on the right and her grandma on her left (and her grandma's sisters).

Christmas Eve was very nice. I was happy to have my Titi Mae and Jorge join us at my in-laws' house. I love spending time with them and I cherish our family time.

After dinner, they were caught red-handed in the dessert section (heee!).

Here's our self-portrait for the evening...

And family photos by the beautiful Christmas tree...

On Christmas morning, we had our traditional BIG breakfast with my family. I baked two quiches, bought some ham and cheese, clementines, hummus with pita chips and some cheese danishes from Starbucks. Titi Mae got bagels from Einstein's, pate, and she baked a delicious cheese artichoke dip. YUM!!!

Then we opened presents...

And some family members went to bed and passed out afterward (I won't mention any names!)

Richard and I headed to my in-laws house next, where they dressed up the dogs (I got this doggy dress at the Target Dollar Spot for $2.50).

Then we opened presents...

Richard's grandma seemed to really like the soft cuddly throw we got her!

And we got a good laugh at my father-in-law and Richard's uncle FLASHING us with their awesome new robes!

My BFF was sick with a cold so we couldn't visit them this year since I am pregnant and all. Teehee! But we did get to go to Richard's cousin's house. They made a delicious dinner and this beautiful flan.

Oh, and by the way, my chocolate ganache cheesecake was a HIT!! My family and Richard's family loved it! In fact, my hubby said I "outdid" myself. Hmmm...

We ended the night watching Roxana sing some religious music and play the guitar. I missed seeing her play music. She's gotten really good! Richard joined in and sang with her. I LOVE this photo of the two of them...

I am finally working on my December Daily album -- after a brief scrapbooking hiatus during my first trimester! I still cannot stand the smell of my scrap room, but I actually have the urge (and need) to be creative so I am plugging along! I am on Day 16. I will post photos soon...

I guess I should have warned you about this loooong post at the beginning! But if you made it this far, I just want to say THANK YOU to all who left me sweet comments on my previous post and to those of you who come to visit my blog and leave me comments. I truly appreciate you!!!

Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR filled with love, health and happiness!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Blessing


I hope you are all enjoying the holidays and cherishing each moment. I know it can get so crazy this time of year, but for me it's still the MOST wonderful time by far. It's all about sharing, caring and giving (with a few in a hurry, rude Miamians thrown in for good measure!). I love spending time with my family (even though I miss my departed loved ones the most during the holidays and it's just not the same without them!); I love the cool Miami weather (yeah, it's 67 degrees! Whoohoo!); and all the shopping, decorating, music, baking and eating, too!

Although I must admit this year has me feeling a bit less energetic (to put it mildly). All my decorations are NOT up, Christmas cards just went out on Monday, Richard and I wrapped gifts last night till 1 am, and I am only baking one batch of sweets this year...

Why am I feeling tired, nauseous and grossed out by red meat? Lightheaded, not enjoying the smell of my scrap room/studio, and craving chocolate milk and starches? Plain cheese pizza, rice and beans, bagels with cream cheese -- bring it on! For the record, I am also having a love affair with fruit right now.

Well, you see, Richard and I have been truly blessed...

And we're expecting a little Vanessa or a little Richard (no worries -- that won't be her/his name!) in late June.

I am 13.5 weeks along.

Lots of emotions going through my heart and mind right now. It's been an emotional roller coaster ride with all these hormones raging. So much excitement. So very blessed. So many questions. Missing my loved ones. Trying to stay healthy. Changing priorities. Seeking strength and faith to guide me along this wonderful journey. Not knowing who to lean on sometimes.

So that's the BIG NEWS that I couldn't wait to share with everyone!!! And the second reason (other than LOTS of work!) why I haven't been blogging as much lately. :)

But I am feeling a little better and looking forward to counting my blessings this holiday season. Life is good.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Launch Party

I know that I have been missing from the blog world for a few weeks, but I have good reasons to have been MIA. One of the reasons will remain a "secret" for a bit longer (check back in a couple of days!), but the other reason is work. Lots of work. Did I mention work? It's been a busy and challenging year trying to get all our publications out on time. This week, we finally released the four final magazines for 2010. But none of our pubs can compare to this one.

After almost three years planning and developing the concept, researching, writing, designing, producing and printing this baby, it's FINALLY here! I present to you "The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom," a book we published in partnership with Emilio Estefan and Estefan Enterprises.

It's a one-of-a-kind, coffee table book that chronicles the pain and suffering that Cuban Americans have endured in search of freedom. It also celebrates their achievements after arriving in America. It includes historic images from many sources, including The Miami Herald Archives, and tells the personal stories of many. There are three versions: Freedom Flights, Pedro Pan and Mariel (each one lists the names of all Cubans that arrived here during that time period).

I have to tell you, the book looks AWESOME in person (and I'm not just saying that because I worked on it!) It just came together beautifully. The editorial and design team worked day and night, even weekends, sometimes till 1 am to meet deadlines. But we did it! I am so proud to work with such talented and dedicated individuals!

The big launch event took place this past Tuesday at the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami. We had a VIP guest list and a limited number of books for sale. Emilio Estefan was on hand to autograph books and talk to everyone.

Richard joined me for some photo ops. He has read most of the book already and he really likes it. Trust me, that's a huge deal. I may not be Cuban, but my hubby is and he is as honest as they come. He is my biggest supporter but also my critic at times. Okay, maybe he had ONE complaint. LOL!

Many people from our company attended. Folks from all areas that worked on this book and it was a great feeling to see it so well received by many.

The book is on sale online at and you can still get it before Christmas so hurry up and order! It costs $34.95 plus shipping and handling. You can also pick it up at some CVS Pharmacy locations (and save on shipping) in Miami starting tomorrow (see website for locations). In 2011, we will expand the distribution, but we wanted to make it available here in Miami in time for Christmas.

If you're in South Florida, there will also be extensive coverage of the book in The Miami Herald's Sunday paper.

Now that the book has launched, I look forward to some much-needed R&R and to spending the holidays celebrating with loved ones...

I'll be back soon with more exciting news! :) Merry Christmas my friends!