Events Social Good

    Via Colori Brings the Colors of the World to Houston

    via-colori-9Community. That word grows in importance to me every day. This year more than ever, I desperately NEED that community – the reassurance that good, caring people walk among us. In a time where negative headlines and difficult news infiltrate our personal bubbles and magnify our echo chambers, it may feel like you need to hold a flashlight through the darkness to find something worth pursuing and contributing. Houston Via Colori® Street Painting Festival, a fundraiser for local nonprofit The Center for Hearing and Speech, brought 25,000 Houstonians together to raise $400,000 on Nov. 19-20. If you needed more reminding that there is good in the world, look no further.

    If you follow me on social media, you may remember seeing my post about the Via Colori Blogger Happy Hour. I was beyond honored to host a party with some of my closest friends in blogging to introduce the Center for Hearing and Speech. We were lucky enough to have Kendra Scott and Isle Pedispa team up for a fantastic nail bar featuring Kendra Scott’s new nail polish line.


    It was incredible to bring the two things I love together in one format. By sharing my love for social good with local Houston bloggers, I felt like I was helping the Center for Hearing and Speech get the attention it deserves. I even got a little emotional while talking about my nephew Jaeden, who is hard of hearing and doesn’t yet speak, when sharing the medical miracles made by the center.


    After the event, I was on a social good high. My friends all gathered together and posed in front of the Blome’s Paperie flower wall, flashing their Kendra Scott manis, sipping Stella Artois and feeling inspired to do more in Houston. Brian, my boyfriend, even attended his first real blogging event to support me (yay!). Those strong positive feelings came full circle when I attended the festival for myself and saw the whole, colorful picture.



    More than 200 local and international artists turned the streets of downtown Houston into a massive outdoor art gallery with chalk murals inspired by the festival’s theme, A Colorful World. Via Colori also showcased 16 youth artists from local high schools through its Via Apprendista program. Colors and themes from across the globe danced across the pavement as onlookers gathered in amazement. My personal favorite (I’m a tad biased here) was the John Lennon portrait by Houston-based artist, Tim Walker (@mrsketchbook). Tim was the mastermind behind the sponsored square the folks at the festival gave me for being a media partner. You can check out ALL of the great art here.

    img_8522 img_8544 john-lennon

    Music played, crowds gathered, and I even ran into a few friends who were admiring the festivities. The festival featured 25 performers on three stages, including American Idol alumni Jessica Meuse, who capped off the weekend with a performance on the Reliant/NRG Main Stage.

    The money raised from Via Colori will help fund critical health and educational services for local children with hearing loss. I was so amazing to read that in its 11 years, Via Colori has raised more than $3 million.

    A HUGE thank you to Via Colori for being so wonderful to work with during this entire experience. Words cannot express how grateful I am for this opportunity and to live in a city with such active hearts. 

    Special thank you to the sponsors who helped make the Blogger Happy Hour happen: 
    VERTS Mediterranean Grill / Kendra Scott / William Hill Estate /Stella Artois / Isle Pedispa /Petite Sweets / Blome’s Paperie / Bramble & Bee / KIND Snacks

    via-colori-10 via-colori-5 via-colori-6 via-colori-7 via-colori-8 via-colori-stella via-colori-12 via-colori-13 via-colori-15 via-colori-18 via-colori-20 via-colori-21 via-colori-sarah


    Flea Style: A Saturday Well Spent + Lemon Glaze


    As my apartment FINALLY comes together, I’ve been on the hunt for unique pieces to put in out home. Rather than feature modern pieces, much of my home decor is an amalgamation of vintage items and handmade tokens from friends or craft shows. There is something so special about having an artisan’s touch on a product you own. Those pieces carry heart, dedication and hours spent to become a statement piece on your mantle or bookshelf. There is just an energy evoked from handmade goods that no store-bought, mass produced product could ever emulate.

    I was SO thrilled to be approached by Flea Style to share details on their festival happening Nov. 19. Lemon Glaze was a vendor who I was recently introduced to and the shop owner Carmen is as sweet as ever. I fell in love with her sweet ceramics that featured cute bird motifs and Texas vibes.

    Here are just a few of my favorite piece that Carmen has created:


    screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-53-49-am   screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-53-09-am

    I can’t wait to swing by Flea Style to see the incredible vendors and spend probabbbbbly more than I should. To give you the full picture, Flea Style is an event hosted twice a year with two huge indoor marketplaces in Dallas and Houston. The events houses 120+ artisans and small businesses that sling a highly curated array of items from art, furniture and paper goods to clothing, jewelry and dog gear. Vendors are carefully hand-selected by the Flea Style team and must hawk vintage, handmade or one-of-a-kind items.

    Not only is the event a treasure trove, but it offers live music, food, adult beverages and activities from photo booths to giveaways.

    If you do stop by the festival at Silver Street Studios, make sure to find details here about tickets and the location.

    Social Good

    Everything You Need to Know About Via Colori Street Festival

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn blogging, it is often hard for me to come by opportunities that get my heart beating faster and moments when I know that what I’m doing is part of a bigger picture. When I visited the Center for Hearing and Speech last month, it quickly became apparent that I am now one thread contributing to an incredible Houston tapestry: Via Colori.

    For the last 10 years, Houston has been painting the town with love at the Houston Via Colori Street Festival. This year’s festival, taking place this weekend from Nov. 19-20, will captivate the city with more than 200 artists, music, food and drink, and creativity. The most important part: ALL proceeds from Houston Via Colori benefit The Center for Hearing and Speech, a local non-profit that serves children with hearing loss.

    Alba Amezcua at 2015 Houston Via Colori

    Sounds amazing, right? Here are the details:

    Downtown Houston at Hermann Square at City Hall and the surrounding streets of McKinney, Bagby and Walker.

    Saturday, November 19, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Sunday, November 20, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    How much does it cost to attend the festival?

    General admission pre-sale is $7 (online through 11/18), $10 at the door, and VIP Lounge Passes are $40 each. Tickets are good for both days of the festival. Click here to learn more.

    When I met with the Center for Hearing and Speech, I learned that not many people know that the organization is the beneficiary of the festival. As a transplant to this city, I think EVERY Houstonian deserves to know about the amazing work that the Center for Hearing and Speech does in their community.


    If you’ve been coming to this blog for some time, I’ve gushed over my nephew Jaeden. Born with Down syndrome yet still perfect in every way, Jaeden is such a light to everyone her meets. His happy spirit and beaming smile continues to get me through each and every dark tunnel I’ve had to experience over the years. What people don’t realize about Jaeden from photos is that he has hearing loss and cannot speak. I never understood how his hearing deficiencies were detected in the first place or how his doctors and speech pathologists would help him to vocalize as he grows up. The Center for Hearing and Speech made it clear to me that some miracles are backed by more than faith, but by diligent professionals and advanced technology.


    The Center for Hearing and Speech is the only full-service resource in Houston to teach deaf children to listen and speak without the use of sign language. Since 1947, the center has helped thousands of Houston-area children gain listening, speaking and literacy skills – the tools they need to improve their quality of life and achieve success in society. I even found out that a member of the Blogger Union moved to Houston specifically to treat her son’s hearing!

    Hearing and speech are key tools in learning and socializing. In Jaeden’s case, how could I have expected him to grow up imitating the sounds I made if he couldn’t hear me articulate them? When I toured the Center for Hearing and Speech to prep for the festival, I was so fascinated by the technology within the classrooms, as well as the opportunities students have through cochlear implants and hearing aids. If you’re curious to know more, I highly encourage you to click here to watch the video.

    While the speech and audiology clinics help students 3 weeks old to 18 years old, the Melinda Webb School is an early education program with immense amount of attention placed on students 18 months to 6 years. The center also provides awareness and education to families and educators in the Houston community.

    There are times where I feel so connected to Jaeden, but to hear him speak? That would be the most incredible feeling in the world. I can’t even imagine the conversation we’d have and my eyes well up with tears just thinking about him. While Jaeden lives in Florida and has his own path through speech and hearing therapy, I am SO grateful to be tied to an organization that gives the gift of hearing and speech to children like him and their families.

    If you’re interested in attending the Via Colori festival, snag your tickets here and make sure to stop at my square to say hello! I’ll be there all Saturday, so tweet me at @Jillian_Writes. If you’re inspired to make a larger impact after the festival, check out the volunteer opportunities at The Center for Hearing and Speech here.

    Cassandra and Raul Gallardo at 2015 Houston Via Colori.


    There’s No Age Limit to Success

    No Age Limit to Success

    The quarter-life crisis.

    Yes, it’s a thing, and no, you don’t have to feel bad about having one.

    Aptly named for the period when you’re a fourth of your way through life, the quarter-life crisis is increasingly common among twenty-somethings. It can be described as a feeling of disappointment, either with yourself or with what you haven’t accomplished yet. You’re anxious about your future, and feel as though you’ll never reach your goals, professionally, romantically, or otherwise.

    It’s possible that previous generations felt the same way, and they simply didn’t have a name for it at the time. However, some studies show that today’s generation might have a harder time dealing with this point in their life, largely because of the new presence of social media.

    Through social media, you can see your friends moving on, achieving the things you always dreamed of. You also see celebrities younger than you building empires that seem completely out of reach. However, it’s important to remember that you should never compare your daily life to others’ highlight reels.

    Today, we are faced with a lot of pressures that older generations were not. Between students loans, a harsh job market, and relationships that seemingly get more complicated the more we’re plugged in, millennials are under more pressure than ever before to be successful. When you consider everything you’re up against, you have to give yourself a break. It’s understandably hard to stay positive, but constant negativity is just going to breed more negativity.

    When you really get down, take a step back to reflect, and gain some perspective. Even though you might feel like an old crone, you’re still young, and you still have a long road ahead of you. Hell, some of the most well-known successful women didn’t make it big until their 30s. J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Kristen Wiig, Vera Wang, Tory Birch—none of them were household names until after they turned the big 3-0. And now, they’re some of the most highly sought after professionals in their field.

    If you feel like you haven’t reached your goals yet, just relax. You have plenty of time to make all of your dreams come true. The important thing is that you continue trying, and never give up. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. and hold your head up high.

    You’ve got this.

    Growth & Inspiration

    My Blogging Break: Busy is Not Successful

    Busy is Not SuccessfulI’m baaaack. If you are on the go and don’t have time to read this podcast, check our the audio file on below.

    No life can be predicted or planned to a T. You move new places, fall in love, hate love, meet new people, fall back in love, travel and catch the trains of opportunities as they fly by in varying routes. Everyone’s path is distinctively their own. I’ve thought about this a lot as I try to find my own train. I get easy distracted, spill my coffee on my map, get lost, and ask all of the bystanders around me which train I’m supposed to catch—as if they know where I belong. In the grand scheme of things, I missed a lot of trains.

    At the station of our lives everything seems abounding and almost overwhelming, but was it always like that? Adolescence has a familiar workflow, a rather calculated trajectory that directs us from point A to point B. You’re taught to get good grades to get accepted into best colleges. Go to the best college to earn the best internships. Do your best at those internships to get the best job. Find a good husband so you can start a great family. It makes sense. I get adolescence.

    If you must ask, what I don’t get is adulthood. We find our space in society to function and that’s it? You’re content and loved. You have a fantastic job, an amazing partner who understands you and you make enough to afford the clothes from Anthropologie’s fall collection. I have all of these things. I feel like the natural wiring of my brain’s itinerary would be expected to skip to the next chapter: marry your boyfriend, buy a house together, have a baby, climb the corporate ladder, retire. If that is the way I was raised to think then my brain wiring, well, malfunctioned somewhere down the line—figuratively and literally.

    Let’s start with the figurative malfunction…

    Malfunctioning isn’t a bad thing. (Remember when Eleven breaks out of the creepy prison in Stranger Things when she would have been expected to function as piece in the US Department of Energy’s sadistic puzzle? Or when the giant furnace garbage compactor stops right before that TERRIBLE scene in Toy Story 3 where every millennial in the theater cried their eyes out as our favorite cartoon toys held hands waiting to die? Malfunctions can save people, well, fictional toys and people.) I, like many of you, am wired to want a lot of unexpected, scary, big things… more than I thought I could handle.

    I want the fantastic job I already have, the boyfriend I have, the future we may possibly have, the promotion I hope to have—all of it. What I also want is confounding; it spins me in my place and makes dizzy when I try to catch the non-stop train to that comfortable future picket fence and retirement plan.

    I want my creativity to live here on this blog, in newspapers, in magazines, and at my office job. I want my thoughts and writing to be seen. I want to say things and do things that help change the course of the lives of others. I want to read your comments and e-mails while feeling like this little project that started in my bedroom at 2 a.m. has a purpose. More importantly, I want to find and feel confident in a purpose.

    I think we all have more than one purpose in life. We can be chef/engineer, a writer/scientist, or a social media manager/journalist/blogger like me. It’s possible, but the important thing is to not only believe in yourself, but BE KIND to yourself.

    The literal malfunction…

    You all may know but I work a full-time job, write for publications, and write at this blog. Cup of Charisma started as a way to get writing jobs, and ta-da—I got a few. It also helped catapult my career in social media, a side of communications I didn’t know I’d love so much.

    It all sounds wonderful—I get it. I know you’re cringing reading this and are about to deem me moronic, privileged. I LOVE these things in my life and wouldn’t ever want to change them, what I don’t love is how I treat myself to pursue them.

    Earlier in September, I had a strange bout of migraines and nausea that I didn’t really calculate to be much. The worst bout of sickness came after a high-stress conversation with my family and boyfriend about life in general. (Everyone who knows me knows that I will spew my ambitions and deep life questions like a faucet when asked how my day was.)

    The following day I woke up and my face completely fell asleep on one side. I kid you not, I thought I was a 27-year-old stroke victim. Of course, I resorted to WebMD instead of a doctor. There’s a Rilo Kiley lyric that says, “I do this thing when I think I’m real sick, but I won’t go to the doctor to find out about it because they make you stand real still in a real small space as they chart up your insides and put you on display. They’d see all of it, all of me, all of it. All of the good that won’t come out of me.”

    I think of this lyric every damn time I go see her. Despite all of these jobs and what life looks like on the outside, my internal instincts tell me I’m not good enough to be more than decent. This time, I ditched Jenny Lewis’ song and I actually called a doctor; she told me to come in immediately. To make this long long story short, I damaged my trigeminal nerve—this typically happens to women in their 50s. It’s a nerve that controls the whole left side of your face and if damaged enough it can cause permanent pains that the internet calls “excruciating.” I just irritated the nerve endings, but it was a reality check.

    No, I don’t have multiple sclerosis and I’m not an aging women over 50. What causes MOST health problems in this country? Stress. My doctor clued me in: I have one body and if I don’t calm down and stop judging myself so hard I’m going to permanently ruin it.

    The Resolution?

    While I enjoy taking my passions to the next level at full speed, I am making a promise to stop killing my body in an effort to maintain it. I’m still going to be a dreamer and a doer, but I’m adding self-care to my growing to-do list. This blog will undoubtedly exist, but so will Saturdays and Sundays of mental rest.

    Being “busy” is not the equivalent of being “successful” and it’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

    I’m back, rejuvenated and excited to take on this journey of making my goals become realities, but they keyword is “reality.” We are not superhuman and we need to make the time to enjoy the quiet spaces between one dream to the next. When you do hop on the train you’re meant to be on, with all its many stops, are you going to stare stressed at your screen while the world’s scenery just meets your peripherals? The world needs your full attention; YOU need your full attention.







    How To Make a Gallery Wall + 20 Must Have Pieces

    How to Make a Gallery Wall

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a place of my own. As a child, my parents always held superior reign over my bedroom decor. My tiny room at my old home in Florida had been renovated to whatever my creative father could muster. I had a princess bed one year, walls painted with a kaleidoscope of colors, a dinosaur room, a room with 3D music notes stuck to the walls, etc. My last and final bedroom from ages 15 to 25 was a New York City-themed shrine, complete with a mural of Times Square and at least 30 framed Playbills. (Envision the decor of your favorite Jewish deli.) As a newly minted 27-year-old, I finally have an apartment of my own that’s completely bare.

    Cue the gallery wall art mission.  Continue Reading