The Duff: A Review

I got the chance to see a prescreening of The Duff. I saw a preview for it not too long ago, and while I thought it looked interesting, I didn't think it would be worth seeing. But hey, I'm all for free tickets.

D.U.F.F. stands for designated ugly fat friend. The film talks about feeling worthless in school, being labeled no matter who you are, and going through life awkwardly. It's an easy watch, you can have fun without investing your whole mind into it. Teenage movies are either hit or miss. The Duff, while it had nice components, wasn't consistent. It would have realistic moments and relatable quotes...then suddenly, I was bombarded with a formulaic plot line, cliche 80s characters, and unauthentic scenes.

I loved the opening montage. It had a quote implying that high school isn't the same as it used to be. There aren't just jocks and cheerleaders, nerds, and burnouts. People are unique. The AP kids hangout with the football kids now. People are not as one dimensional. However, it points out that high school will still have groups and labels. They aren't as basic as they used to be. 

Yet as the movie unfolded, I realized it was contradicting that quote. The 'most popular girl in the school,' was a bit over the top. She was tripping people, throwing their books down, and recording embarrassing videos of other girls to post on youtube. Uh, no one would get away with that these days. Yes, there are mean girls in school. But if you're trying to make a realistic film, realize that no one acts that insane unless they are trying to have a Regina George moment or something. 

Not going to spoil the whole thing for you, but the movie ended with a classic homecoming dance moment where the 'ugly weird girl' becomes beautiful. I mean, come on. Homecoming isn't that big of an event anymore. People go with their date or their friends and have fun. It's not a huge reveal. 

From a film lovers aspect, it wasn't innovative. I feel like it tried to copy elements from recent teen films but hey, it was a fun watch. I think some people will find it quite entertaining. The message of the film was inspiring without being too cheesy. I think it could be touching to people in middle school, high school, or even adults. It teaches us that labels do not define you, YOU define yourself. 

However, I think about the humor of the film. It appealed to a lot of audiences and had a lot of unique jokes. It's not gonna be a total flop film, but it's not gonna become an iconic teen film. I would actually recommend seeing it. It was fun to watch and I wanted to see what happened, but I wouldn't pay to see it. I give it a 6.5/10. The film will be showing at a theatre near you starting on February 20th.

I Don't Need Meninism

The urban dictionary definition of 'meninism' is: "Meninism is a mockery of feminism and proves that we can't request equality without white men making everything about themselves." YES!

Rant time: Why do privileged white men have to make a fuss about things that don't even directly affect them? For thousands of years, who has had the upper hand? WHITE MEN. Now I'm not hating on men or generalizing all white men. I realize there are many men who believe in equality, and I'm eternally grateful for that. As a society, we are making a lot of progress. I'm just pointing out a clear flaw here. Don't make women's struggles a joke. Feminism isn't about getting retweets or getting your 13 year old friends to like you. Feminism isn't a parody.


So don't you for a second think it's okay to say that minorities don't have to struggle anymore. "Women can vote now. Segregation and slavery are over. Blah." Sure, that may be true but that doesn't mean prejudice and inequality are completely gone. I know, I know: reverse racism and reverse sexism do exist. There are black people who are racist against white people, and there are women sexist against men. Is it wrong? Yes. Yet when it truly comes down to it, I don't see how that affects you, considering 1) it's individuals who do that rather than huge chunks of society, 2) you have more privilege and 3) you haven't dealt with the prejudice they have.

I understand, guys. There are double standards in the world and as a male, you might feel insecure, objectified or stereotyped.

What you are forgetting is this: feminism isn't about disregarding men. It's about equality for ALL. We want to include you in that. Sure, we want equal pay for women. Sure, we want society to be able to accept that a woman can be whoever she wants to be. HOWEVER: We also want men to be able to be whoever they want to be. Whether that be fat, skinny, feminine, masculine, sensitive, strong, assertive, submissive, tall, short, etc.

You can be who you are, and that's the great thing about feminism. I was so shocked to find out the word "anti-feminist" even exists. There are different definitions of the word online based upon interpretation. Yet as we all know, 'anti' means 'against.' Feminist means you believe in feminism. Feminism is defined as "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men." Therefore, 'anti-feminist' means you do NOT believe women and men are politically, socially and economically equal.

Feminism has extremists, but that doesn't mean we should disregard feminism or make it into a satirical joke. Feminism affects you. If there is no gender equality in the world, both genders have to deal with the issues. Feminism isn't criminalizing you for having kids or for having no kids or working a 9 to 5 job or staying at home. Feminism says, "that's okay! that's your choice." I will say this: I love cooking and wearing pink dresses but that doesn't mean I all of the sudden don't need feminism anymore. We need equality. We are NOT victims. We are not DEFINED by our genders. No matter what extremists may say, we are proud to be who we are and will express it.

So let's work together on making everyone feel like they have the opportunity to express themselves for who they are, not for what their gender role is demanding of them.

Glitter Liner? Yes Please!

Adding glitter makes everything better. Clothing, food, decor, makeup: EVERYTHING. I like to add a
little sparkle to things without being too flashy, and I found the perfect makeup product to do so. In 8th grade, I bought this pink glitter liner from target for $1. (I believe it was the elf brand) It was subtle yet classy, and it was a way of expression for me. And let me tell you, crying never looked so beautiful.

Lately I've been thinking about glitter liner. I've been looking for one that is: cheap, liquid, and comes out nicely. I think I've found it!

Sephora is known for their super expensive makeup. Dior, givenchy, YSL, stila, etc. Yet they do have a cheaper brand, called, well, 'Sephora.' I was browsing the store looking for this glitter liner and found some in the little boxes by the register for $5. They had purple, blue, brown & gold! I got gold of course.

I had second thoughts about it, considering I've use sephora's products before and they weren't affective, and didn't turn out too well. But hey, I got it anyways.

I opened the tube and applied it to my eyes, without any other product on it. It came out clear, straight, and showed up nicely! It was true to the color displayed on the tube. Also here's a plus: it doubles as mascara! I'm curious to see how long it will last, though. Overall, I give this product a 8/10!

Where the Ducks Go: A Tribute to JD Salinger


J.D. Salinger passed away on this day in 2010. I hope he's in the afterlife on a beach somewhere, surrounded by bananafish. I hope he's getting published in the New Yorker weekly and he's full of youth. I hope he never has to worry about phonies or ducks or museums. I made this video in honor of Salinger & Holden, considering they have impacted my journey so immensely.

Salinger has had a huge impact on my life. Catcher in the Rye captures the thoughts I had that I couldn't fathom into constellations. (thanks, John Green, for that metaphor.)  It's a book of such controversy. Some people complain about it and blame murders on Salinger. Some people think it should've never been published. And on the other side of the spectrum, I see some people clinging to it because it's become a literary trend amongst young adults trying to convey a grungy image. Like the Woody Allen quote, "Oh, Sylvia Plath, interesting poetess whose tragic suicide was misinterpreted as romantic by the schoolgirl mentality." A lot of people questioned Salinger his entire life and found his lifestyle romantic. He never wanted people to analyze his life. He is an author, not a therapist - as he would say. He never wanted to be idolized or romanticized. 

Yet every time I open up Catcher in the Rye, my soul responds with such empathy. Oh, Holden Caulfield, while most readers are attracted to your bad boy mentality and reckless lifestyle, I just understand you for who you are and want to be your friend! I relate to you, Holden. The stream of consciousness painted on each and every page makes me scream and laugh and cry.


Thank you, Holden. Thank you, Salinger. Thank you.


Hair Growth Mask: {Coconut Oil!}

I'm usually complimented on how fast my hair grows. I donate my hair yearly because, well, it grows insanely fast. People ask, "what's your secret?" To be honest, it's always been natural. Eating well, not dying my hair, using good shampoos, not overheating my hair, going outside in the sun - it's truly that simple.

However, sometimes we come to a hair stalemate. It's not a bad thing to dye your hair. It's not a bad thing to straighten or curl it every once in a while. However, sometimes, it's possible to over do it. This coconut oil hair mask is a quick fix to that hair stalemate you might be at, and works on all hair types.

The amount of coconut you use truly depends on your hair length and how thick it is. I know some people who could cover their entire head with a couple of tablespoons, but for some - it may take a cup or two.

Coconut oil has taken over the world these past few years - finding itself as an alternative in recipes, DIY beauty, and even home repair options! It certainly has a lot of power. When you're having a hair disaster - don't fear. Coconut oil is here. (Let's just pretend I didn't say that.)

Coconut oil has benefits other than just hair growth. It thickens hair and makes it feel shiny & fresh. For extra growth, add a bit of cayenne pepper to it. Cayenne peppers really stimulates the scalp and works wonders on hair growth.

Here's what you should do:
1. Start out with dry hair. Grab heaps of coconut oil out of the jar and rub it together with your hands (feel free to add cayenne pepper, I always do!) so it becomes easier to apply. Apply to hair.
2. Wrap head in towel or shower cap and leave on for 45 minutes.
3. Shower as you normally would. There you have it!

Forget deep conditioning, unnatural products or expensive salons - this is the way to give your hair the nutrient it needs and revive it from the drought it's been in.



Ancient Hymn

I wish to offer the world more than just beauty and plastic moments.
I wish to offer the world depth, conversation, poetry and wisdom.
I hope you do not deny me when I open those doors.


The doors were bounded by fake roses, because, you know,
I couldn't afford buying new roses every week.
Maybe I just didn't like watching something so beautiful die.

"What's in a name?" Well, what's in a glance?
Much more than you think.
(much less than you think.)

When the flowers bloom, my hair turns red
burning away winters doom & her brittle ends.
His & her & her & him
living in a virtual world
of
nostalgic grins and late night swims.

you'll always be my ancient hymn
(you'll always be my ancient hymn)

Mediterranean Sushi {Recipe}

Why am I calling this sushi when it doesn't have any fish in it? Well, some sushi is vegetarian. You may ask, where's the rice and seaweed? Maybe I didn't know how to do that and maybe I didn't want to.

"Okay then why is it considered sushi?" My answer would be...because it looks like sushi and has a better ring to it. Call it a roll-up, or whatever you want. Regardless, it's a whole new twist to Mediterranean food and a cute appetizer or snack. Now let's get started.


What you'll need:
One cucumber
Feta cheese
Hummus
1/4 red pepper
A vegetable peeler

What to do:
1. First, take out all your ingredients. Cut up the red pepper into little pieces. (you won't need to use more than 1/4 of the pepper. )
2. Set the pepper aside, and get out your cucumber and vegetable peeler. Peel off the skin first, then continue peeling. You will eventually get long strips of cucumber! Odd, isn't it? It doesn't matter if the cucumber strips are uneven / short / or ripped up a bit. I found most of them worked out. Just try to scrape the cucumber firmly.
3. Once you get your cucumber strip, add a little bit of hummus to it. (make sure there's some on the ends too so it sticks together when you roll it up.) I mean a little bit of hummus, too. The cucumber strip is thin!
4. Add your red pepper and sprinkle feta cheese on. Don't add to much or you won't be able to roll it up!

Simple as that. A Mediterranean paradise. Oooh I can see eating this poolside. Now I miss summer. Winter, why must you take all the vitamin D out of me and make me want to sleep all day? Enjoy everyone. XO

The Tea Experiment / #6

Alright, alright. You caught me. I know I talked about yogi tea in my last 'The Tea Experiment' post but I couldn't resist. This is my tea now!

I invested in tons of flavors and variations of their green tea and loved it. However, I'm really weird when it comes to caffeine  I don't want to have too much caffeine a day, and I don't want to have it at night. As we all know, caffeine makes you awake and stimulates your brain - and I have enough stimulating thoughts! I don't need to think any more. I don't need more creativity. Sometimes, I just need to rest.

For my night time tea, I chose the 'Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin' tea by yogi. It's a rooibos blend of tea with cinnamon bark, cocoa shells, cardamom seed, nettle leaf, licorice root, mullein leaf, schisandra berry, and vanilla bean. All organic, of course. 

It's not super sweet or super spicy, it's a fair mixture of both. It naturally has no caffeine and is supposed to give you healthy skin? I'm in. On average, I've been having 1 cup a night for about a week. I haven't noticed a huge difference in terms of my skin. Yet obviously, these things take time. I will say, I have noticed a more healthy glow to my skin! Everything looks softer and more delicate. Then again I am sleeping a lot lately...but that's besides the point.

This tea is feel good, taste good, and look good. Perfect for anytime of day. Oh no, I'm a yogi now...

{ Chia Seeds! }

Let's talk about chia seeds!

{ THE BENEFITS }

  • friendly to all diets: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, etc
  • low calorie
  • easy to add in your meals
  • 6 times more iron than spinach
  • 6 times more calcium than milk
  • full of fiber! 2 tablespoons has 41% of your daily fiber
  • 100% more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon {i need that}
  • double the antioxidants found in blueberries
  • 50-70% more potassium than a banana
  • 2 tablespoons has 32% of your daily magnesium
  • natural source of vitamins 
  • cancer preventing & fat burning
That's a whole lotta benefits.


Now with all of this talk about chia seeds, when can you actually use them? Here's some creative ideas.
1. Add them to your smoothie. You won't even notice.
2. Making guacamole? Spinach dip? Salsa? Add chia seeds for that extra boost!
3. Sprinkle them on top of your pasta or spaghetti.
4. Add them to your salad or wrap. They won't be complete without them!
5. If you're making brownies or cookies, chia seeds can easily be added into the mix.

Chia seeds blend into anything you put them in. It's like getting the health benefits without being a health freak. Now this is what I call superfood.

The Power of a Sunset

Whenever I see a sunset, I think of all the memories associated with it. The people I've spent sunsets with. I reflect on everything I could possibly reflect on. A sunset is filled with magical powers.

A sunset to me symbolizes so much. The beauty of it doesn't last long. In the picture above, I started walking on the Brooklyn Bridge when it was daytime. The sun started setting on the walk, and before I knew it, it was nighttime. Sunsets are sacred and to me, they carry moments inside them. They make me realize the beauty of the world around me. They make me realize how infinite I am and they make me want to get up and do something. It's an adrenaline rush of emotion that I can't even convey.

Never miss a sunset.

Snowy Saturdays

Snowy saturdays full of ups and downs, bagels with cream cheese, the sweetest bernese mountain dog and an even sweeter boy. (Did I mention vanilla cinnamon tea & a whole lot of super mario? That too.)





The Soundtrack of My Soul: 11 Albums I'll Always Love

Music is much more than just music. Music isn't music without passion, emotion, & a soulful connection. Here are albums filled with poetry, hymns, and lyrics that live deep within my soul. Here are albums I will always love regardless of the circumstance. It was hard to narrow it down to eleven, yet I did it. Come and take a peek inside the depths of my soul and perhaps you'll find something you like. XO

1. Valdosta EP - Mayday Parade
Mayday Parade has so many good albums, yet the Valdosta EP is too much emotion to handle. Full of acoustics of heart wrenching, soulful ballads that never fail to make me feel. 'Your Song' always makes me reflect on my life more than I usually do. From nostalgic skylines, to dreams I've always wished could've been real, to heartbreaks that never can fully heal. Mayday Parade, why must you always make me cry? You beautiful, depressing, yet BEAUTIFUL people.

2. Ceremonials - Florence and the Machine
An album of such spirituality, rebirth, and renewal. Whenever I hear 'Shake It Out,' I feel like dancing in a field of lavender and roses in a long plaid dress. Florence makes me feel like I can do anything with this album and I couldn't thank her enough for guiding me through hard times. Bittersweet goddess Florence - thank you for making me dance in my backyard through darkness. "It's always darkest before the dawn..."

3. Born to Die - Lana Del Rey
Sonically, visually, and poetically: Lana kills me with her effortless artistic gleam. She is a beautiful soul with more depth than most people - and that shows throughout this entire album. In fact, this is my all time favorite album. Lana tells a story with each and every lyric and takes me to another realm. True love is redefined through honest poetry. Born to Die taught me a lot about love, and helped me realize who I am. Born to Die is the summer I came alive. The summer I loved. The summer of life.

4. Year One - Never Shout Never
Never Shout Never has had several albums within the past decade, but this remains my favorite. Full of demos, youth, summer and passion. Ukelele and autotune never sounded so lovely. This album takes me to blonde hair and making mistakes in middle school. Yet here I am - still listening to this album while driving around. I love this album because it's so raw. It's not trying to be anything. It's just there, yet I seem to connect with it on such a deep level. Eternal youth is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

5. The First Days of Spring - Noah and the Whale
Never has spring felt so painful. Freedom, moving on, letting go, looking towards hope: themes that radiate from this work of art. This album is like a novel: different for every person that reads it. You can interpret the lyrics however you wish, but The First Days of Spring is one of those albums that really go together. As an artist, I appreciate that more than ever. "Blue skies are coming, but I know that it's hard."

6. Where the Road Parts - Chase Coy
The soundtrack of so many stages of my life. Chase has always been an underrated artist in my opinion. His soft voice, his nostalgic words that shine light on every season - full of imagery of autumn leaves and sunshine. I could lay in the grass and look at the stars for hours while listening to this album. 'All Those Nights' is actually on my top 25 songs of all time. "All those nights we danced by the moonlight, conversations about nothing till midnight.."

7. Pure Heroine - Lorde
Musically speaking, Pure Heroine is one of the most innovative albums I've heard in years. Yet lyrically, I can't help but feel like I'm walking the halls of high school wanting to escape. I can't help but remember falling in love for the first time. I can't help but feel like driving around my hometown. Thank you Lorde, for taking pictures with lyrics.

8. Speak Now - Taylor Swift
I started falling for Taylor when she was featured in the corner of a page in some indie teen magazine back in the day. Speak Now is my favorite album by her - filled with ballads of heart break, friendship and love. The memories are painted onto each and every song. It's impossible not to relate to this album in someway. While Taylor knows her impact on the world, she will never know what she did for me in 5th grade, high school, college, and beyond..

9. The Scene Aesthetic - The Scene Aesthetic
Two men named Andrew and Eric form an indie band called The Scene Aesthetic. They dominate my life with music that speaks to my soul and makes me cry. The end. 'Beauty and the Breakdown' became a huge hit and their music traveled through all levels of myspace and owned it. Yet us myspace kids remember The Scene Aesthetic and how they sound like divine angels. I'll always be happy that The Scene Aesthetic exists.


10. Made of Bricks - Kate Nash
Cutesy wishful thinking mixed with badass feminism. Insecure tears and lonely obsession. Missing and longing for something, for someone. Yet at the same time, not caring....prancing down the road. Kate Nash makes me feel like me again. Kate Nash makes me realize I'm worth it, no matter what anyone says to me. She never was one to worry about the proper form of how a song should be, she just writes and sings. I always respected that and found her music so unique. Kate uniquely pieces this album together with honest lyrics and a different take on life that I've always found inspiring. 'We Get On' is the anthem of so many stages of my life.


11. The Princes Tale - Lauren Fairweather
This entire album reminds me of Severus's and Lily's relationship. Oh wait, because it IS about that. Take me back to Hogwarts...take me back to Orlando. While this album is about a fictional relationship (that I cared about very much), I related to the feeling of being a misfit, the feeling of wanting to get on that train and go far away to a world of unknown. Severus, thank you. Lauren, thank you.


Fashion Feature: MODAYM

Hi lovelies! Today I am talking about an up and coming website for fashion: Modaym!

Modaym's philosophy and mission is: "Infinite talent & unique style." As an artist myself, I love how Modaym allows emerging fashion designers to promote their brand to shoppers all over the world. When you purchase an item, you are purchasing it directly from the designer. It's also nice knowing you can support an authentic artist without worrying about the middle man. And here's something we all love to here: free shipping to everyone in the US.


Some items featured are this lovely statement Katya dress by designer Paola Cortez. Sheer, chiffon, and black: chic for any ocassion.

I've always loved jewelry, but oh my gosh - Maryam Salemi Fine Jewelry is to die for. It makes me feel like a 1820s queen that's about to sail the Atlantic to start anew in America. The precious gemstones, diamonds, gold - delicately gorgeous. 

Handbags? No problem. Get quality designer handbags directly from Modaym. Red, maroon, white, black - your perfect staple colors for all year round. Which one is your favorite? I personally can't decide. I had a fashion overload while on the handbag page!

Not only just handbags, but there are many other accessories to choose from. Scarves, hats, gloves, shawls, etc. In the spotlight at Modaym is VÈVÈLLE scarves, for those who love vibrant colors and patterns.

Just for opening an account on Modaym, you get $10 off your purchase. And here's the best part: with any purchase you make on Modaym, you can get 10% with this simple code: Pink2Modaym. Get your fashion fix at Modaym.

Hot Cheeto Kale Salad {Recipe}

Hot cheetos are my absolute guilty pleasure. I've been eating them non stop since 5th grade, after my friend Radha introduced me to them. Quite frankly, they are the reason I'm not toothpick thin. They are one of the reasons I won't go completely vegan. It's impossible for me to eat them in moderation. If I have a few, I have the whole bag. Once I'm done with the whole bag, I want another whole bag. Hot cheetos are addictive, spicy, and delicious.

After being introduced to the snack, I was eating them weekly and sometimes daily...all throughout my school years. One year for Christmas, my mother bought me a 50 pack of them. Let's just say it didn't last very long. If you take me to a gas station or grocery store, I don't hesitate about what I'm getting. It's always hot cheetos. Sometimes I debate between hot cheetos and hot fries, but cheetos win 75% of the time. I took a break from them in an effort to loose weight in high school. I lost twenty pounds, but my entire being was missing those fiery endorphin-causing crunchy cheetos. So I went back to them and I don't regret it one bit. And let me just say: I am so lucky my boyfriend Andrew is also obsessed with the snack. And I mean obsessed. The amount of money we've spent on snack runs has to be in the thousands by now.

A lot of people are shocked to hear I am so in love with hot cheetos considering I'm a overall healthy eater. I'm a vegetarian with vegan tendencies, tea enthusiast, veggie and fruit lover, and so much more. I rarely eat fast food, in fact, I can't considering I'm a vegetarian. I'll pick kale and white bean soup over cheddar broccoli any day. Low fat option? I'm on it. Vegan option? Yes please. Low calorie version? Sure. Organic? Oh yes! I'm not one to miss out on a health benefit.

Yet I don't regret eating hot cheetos. They are apart of my heart and soul, to be quite honest with you. Why should I let them go? They never make me feel sick. I'm at a happy weight. I feel good all the time. I don't have any health risks due to them. So, judge me all you want but I'll always be eating these guys.

I was really excited when I found this 'Flamin' Hot Cheetos Kale Salad' recipe on popsugar. Andrew and I would always joke about making hot cheeto casserole and making hot cheeto crumbles a spice to put onto things such as pasta, salads, soup, etc. Then I saw this recipe and realized..."I'm not crazy! Let's do this."

I made my own version of a 'Hot Cheeto Kale Salad.' It was delicious! Many people add croutons, tortilla strips and onion strings to their salads. I think I'm going to be adding hot cheeto crumbles from now on. It adds the crunchy spice I need.

Here's what you'll need:
A box of your choice of greens (I did a kale & argula blend)
1/2 cup of chia seeds
1 cup of red wine vinegar & olive oil dressing
A bag of gardein 'chicken' strips (for vegetarians)
A can of chickpeas
A bag of hot cheetos
3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions
1. First, heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add "chicken" strips, sauté for 5-7 minutes or until browning. When these are done, put them in a small bowl on the side to cool down.

2. In a larger bowl, empty all of your greens after they've been washed. Pour a cup of red wine vinegar & olive oil dressing, little by little, while tossing the salad.

3. Once the blend of greens is coated with dressing, you are free to add the chickpeas and chia seeds. I added the entire can of chickpeas (after being drained) and 1/2 cup of chia seeds. Toss.

4. You will not need an entire bag of hot cheetos for the topping. Personally, I ate most of the bag I had and left some at the bottom. Once they were at the bottom, I closed the bag and smashed it with my hands and random kitchen utensils. (you'll find something.) If the bag is too full, I recommend transferring a small amount to a different bag.

5. Once your hot cheetos are smashed into dust and smaller pieces, you are ready to serve. Add the salad to individual bowls, add the chicken on top, and let your guests decide if they want hot cheetos crumbles on top of their salad. I like to add more chia seeds on top!

/ / / / /

This is an easy yet satisfying recipe. Packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants - this salad takes all other salads to a whole other level. The red wine & olive oil dressing is your source of antixoidsants and heart healthy YET calorie free fats. The chia seeds have protein, omega 3, fiber, potassium and calcium. The kale is bursting with protein and vitamins, and the chickpeas are filled with cancer preventing vitamins. Dang! This is my kind of salad.





The Tea Experiment / #5

Guys, I ran into a bit of a disaster this week. A tea disaster. I've been a tea lover my whole life - white, green, black, oolong, you name it! I love the taste, the benefits, and how it makes me feel.

Last week, I found out that a lot of the brands of tea that you and I are drinking are not exactly so healthy after all. Sure, there are antioxidants. Yet there are also pesticides, GMOs, artificial and "natural" flavoring, and harmful packaging. Certain teas have been found to even have formaldehyde in it. Uh, no thanks! Let's talk packaging.

According to Dr. Mercola, “paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins. Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is also used as a pesticide. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It has also been implicated in infertility (it has a spermatoxic effect in male rats) and suppressed immune function.”

So then I thought: I'll just switch to loose leaf. Nope. 100% of teavana's teas were found to contain pesticides. Not only that, a lot of them contain heaps of sugar and artificial flavoring. Hm, wonder what that could be. Not to mention a trip to teavana costs twenty dollars. Nah. I'll pass. 


You may be sick of coffee or soda, so you switch to tea. Which is always a good switch! Tea is calorie free and antioxidant rich, and all of them are diverse in flavor. But do you want to consume lead, formaldehyde, pesticides, and epichlorohydrin? I would just like to consume tea leaves. 



I'm not much of a health freak. But I drink tea daily and I drink it for health benefits - not for more health issues. This is why I drink yogi tea now. 

I tried yogi a couple of years ago and loved it, however, you know me. I always love trying different teas! I'll drink whatever I can get. Here's why yogi is the superior tea.


There are a lot of organic teas. But some seem so pretentious to me. They're overpriced, only in certain stores, and there isn't much of a flavor choice. Yogi not only has a diverse choice of flavor, but they have teas for different people. Immune system, digestive system, energy, detox, weight loss, fertility, and so on!


Yogi is organic, so it's not going to be sprayed with harmful pesticides that seep into your tea. There is never any artificial flavoring. Some of them will have "natural" flavoring which is ocassionally questionable, however, the ones I drink are just organic ingredients. The one I can't stop drinking right now is called 'green tea energy.' 


The ingredients are: organic green tea leaf, organic lemongrass, organic panax ginseng root, organic eleuthero root, organic spearmint root, organic kombucha. 

Sounds good to me. The taste is clear and is reminiscent of spring evenings in the park of renewal and love. Yogi is famous for their inspring quotes on each and every tea bag. Mine at the moment says "When there is love, there is no question." Imagine starting every morning with organic tea and a inspirational quote.


I vote yogi. My favorite tea brand that I know I can always count on. 10/10. To check out their tea, go to their website here. Their tea is very attainable so you can find it in the tea aisle at your local grocery store.


An Ode to Pink

Pink...I don't know what it is about that color that can convey a whole aesthetic and make anything I'm doing feel a bit cuter. I love pastels, thats no secret. Lavender, mint, baby blue! And we can't forget silver and gold...so shiny and glittery. While lavender will always have my heart, pastel pink is full of love, cuteness and passion.

I've always loved Valentines Day simply because of the color scheme. Every year I would go to school all decked out: pink, red, lace, hearts, candy - everything! Picking out those two dollar valentines day cards along with a piece of candy for my 2nd grade classmates was an art, and I had it down. In high school, I remember pink floral dresses, red lipstick, and lollipops all day long. Love was in the air and I wanted everyone to feel it. (Now I just sound annoying.)

I like to take that Valentines Day aesthetic with me all year long. Pink is a mixture of red and white. Red: the color of passion, desire, war, sin, love, and depth. Then we have white, the color of innocence and purity. Perhaps that's why I like pink. It's innocent and pure with a personality. Pink is so powerful yet so feminine. Pink is beautiful.

Here is my photo board of what is inspiring me & photos where pink is conveying that beauty I was talking about! XO

BU$INESS WEDNESDAY: Networking Tips

A lot of people will tell you networking is the way to make it in any business. And I'm here to confirm that 75% of the time, that is true. Other factors are important, but networking is the reason why the Kardashians are famous. Networking is how celebrities build up their fanbase from 1,000 to 1 million. Never forget about your talent, integrity & faith...but ALWAYS keep networking in mind. Networking is honestly just a hobby of mine, and I found it to be beneficial to me not only as a business woman, but as a human being. Here are my personal favorite ways of networking.

1. Craigslist: Many people stay away from craigslist because it's full of scammers and pedophiles. Which is true. While apartment hunting, I can't even tell you how many owners were "overseas with their family" and wanted us to "send over the money to get the key." (Good one.) But between all of these scams, you will find hidden treasure.

To keep up with the latest opportunities, check craigslist every few days in the categories that are applicable to you. (for jobs and gigs) While living in New York, I got my first NYC job and my first internship within weeks. You're probably not going to get a lead role in a feature film from craigslist. Cosmo magazine doesn't post "hiring" on craigslist when they need new editors. HOWEVER, a lot of small and upcoming businesses post on craigslist, and it's a great way to build your resume. Whether you are a model, photographer, writer, journalist, graphic designer, actor, etc - you can start getting gigs on craigslist and work your way up to better gigs. 

Because I'm constantly on the move, I'm always checking craigslist in different cities. NYC, Cleveland, LA, etc. And you know what I found to be true? A great majority of the gigs are worldwide. If I want to work for a website, send submissions to a magazine, or do a product review, I can do that no matter my location. If I see something I'm really interested in, I can always relocate or the company can figure something out. This has always been helpful to me. 

2. Immersing yourself in your education: Whether you are in high school, college, trade school, or living the work life, IMMERSE yourself in it. Most places offer perks! Listen to your high school guidance counselor, he/she may have great local internship opportunities. And who knows what benefits that internship will give you. You may think those job fairs are lame, but they are actually really helpful. During college, the theatre department would always give out free broadway and off broadway tickets. Um, yes! My college gave me free tickets to opening night of The River and I got to meet Hugh Jackman, Anna Wintour, Jerry Seinfeld, Ivanka Trump, etc. Talk about networking. Take advantage of those opportunities. No matter where you are on the journey of life, immerse yourself in all of the awesome things your school or workplace will give to you. Even if it's free meals on your break. Still pretty cool, right? 

If you immerse yourself in your education, you will be learning. You will be there. We can touch the surface of every life experience just to get through the day, but if you really dive deep into every experience you will find it beneficial.

3. Get to know your peers: For my age, I've been all over the place. I've had tons of groups of friends, that changed yearly due to us just being in different places. And by different places I do mean location, but also different places in life. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean we left on bad terms. It just means we don't see each other daily like we used to. But knowing all these people in my life means something to me. They have all touched my heart and soul in ways I can't even express, and if it were my choice, we would all still be in touch. 

Getting to know those around you is one of the most beautiful things you can do. At my last job, I worked at a coffee shop with some pretty ordinary people. But those ordinary people were so full of diversity and artistry and I loved having conversations with them every day. From musicians, to graphic designers, to makeup artists, to martial artists, to journalists. From college students to mothers, I learned so much from them and it was always more than just making lattes: it was an inspiring, joyful experience. Imagine if I just looked at them as coworkers. What would that experience be? 

When it comes to my peers, past and future: I never update my contacts on my phone because you will never know when you will need someones contact information. I have people in my contacts I haven't talked to since middle school! Insane? Maybe. But at least if someone contacts me I won't have to ask who they are because I deleted their contact. For example, there was this girl I was really good friends with in high school, but after she graduated, we didn't talk for 2-3 years. Then I randomly saw her on the subway in NYC? What? I still had her number and that made me feel oddly accomplished. You never know where fate will throw you. 

4. Social media: Some people may look at me like I'm crazy. I love instagram, sue me. Honestly, instagram for me is a way of expression. It's like a photo album of my life...in little snapshots of my day to day activities. Not only that, it helps promote my blog, and I get to meet other cool people from all over the world. The reason why instagram is my favorite form of social media is because twitter and facebook give too much away. I find it hard to be expressive and artistic through that. To me, twitter has always been fun but also in a sense, kind of pointless. And facebook is so you can put every detail of your life so everyone and their family can be nosy and know every life experience you've ever had. (No shade, haha.)

My advice when it comes to social media? Be yourself. Capture the things that make you happy. I've always been self aware and self confident, but one thing that makes me proud is my instagram showcases who I am. If you are afraid of certain people seeing your instagram, maybe it's because you're afraid of showing who you are/or not BEING who you are via social media. It's true, a lot of people use social media to take on another identity. But if you can say, "I don't care if my mom, my ex boyfriend, my friends, my coworkers, or my family sees my instagram. It's me and they don't have to like it." That's when you're rocking who you are and that's something to be proud of.

People will see you on social media. And if you are being yourself and they like you, you get a follower. But maybe it's not just a follower. It can turn into someone you may collaborate with...which has happened to me several times. And once you collaborate with someone, they're always on your business list!

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So there you have it. My favorite networking tips. There's always the obvious ones - handing out your business card, meeting new people, etc. But I found these to be incredibly helpful for myself and I hope they helped you too!

Super Mario 3D World: Recap

My boyfriend Andrew and I have successfully completed Super Mario 3D World, and all I can say is..."wow."

It's just like every other Super Mario game, except the graphics take it to a whole other level. The beauty of each world captivates me and truly takes me to another realm. I've never really cared much for graphics, but the graphics on Super Mario 3D World take my breath away! Ahhhh.

In terms of characters: you can play as Mario, Luigi, Toad & Peach. (And a special character you can unlock once you beat the game). They're all good to play with, but I personally like playing with Peach because she has a gliding ability that comes in handy a lot during this game. You can play with up to four people so this is a group friendly game - perfect for get togethers! Always a plus.

Now let's talk power ups. Your character can transform into a cat that scratches his/her opponents and climbs up walls to secret areas full of coins, stamps & stars. You also use power ups that make you throw fire, boomerangs and cannonballs. Plus you can turn into a Tanooki that makes you invincible to all of your attacks!

There are many worlds (many of them secret) which makes this game last. Some levels are harder then others, and I would be ashamed to tell you how many times we had to sacrifice ourselves or how many times we died for making dumb decisions. But, hey. The best part is you can always go back to it and perfect your score. To find out more and see more gameplay, just click here!

On Being a Complex Individual

You may scroll past this post thinking, "Oh, I'm a pretty simple person." But are you?

A lot of people will be shocked to find out they may just be a well rounded individual. You might be blonde and intelligent. Maybe you're a doctor who likes to make jewelry on the side, or an actress who also sings. Perhaps you're a really classy person that likes to crack an inappropriate joke every now and then. These seem like ordinary things...right? Well, not for everyone.

I guess sometimes people just want you to fit inside their perfect box. As much as we all say we hate labels, when we label people, it makes it easier to identify them. And once we identify them with that label, it's hard for us to see that person as anything else but that label. Which down the line, can be extremely offensive. It can lead to conversations like..."Oh, you do that? I would've never guessed because you're black/white/gay/straight/a woman/a man/ETC."

As an artist and as a person, I feel limited sometimes. Limited in the sense that I can only be THIS or THAT, not both.

I am worried that one day people will form an image of me and see me only as that. I love acting, writing, singing, dancing, cooking, directing, blogging, fashion & so many other artforms. And I don't think it's fair that once I'm seen as one...the others begin to fade in everyones eyes...

I'm much more than what you see. I'm not just a girl. I'm not just a blogger. I'm not just an actress. I'm not just a daughter. I'm not just a girlfriend. I'm not just a coworker.

I'm Maria Elena. And like you, I'm a complex individual. Full of quirks that make me who I am. It's okay to have a lot of interests or talents, that's only apart of being human; and you should never let anyone make you feel wrong about being a complex individual. We all are, and isn't that what makes life so interesting?

13 Things to Do When You Have a Headache


Headaches are one of my least favorite things in the world. First of all, they are a symptom of everything. Therefore, you can never tell WHY you're having a headache in the first place. Second of all, there are several different kinds of headaches and I often find it hard to diagnose which headache it is.

So, yeah, I get a lot of headaches but they have become more manageable over the years. I don't like to take aspirin right away, because I don't want to become immune to it. The more you heal your headaches naturally, the less they will come. Here are 10 ways to get rid of your headache without using aspirin.

Things to do right away:

1. Take a shower. I can't stress this enough. At least 75% of my headaches go away after I take a shower, and 100% of the time it gets better. I'm not talking anything crazy, do your thing. Shampoo, condition, bodywash - whatever. Or just stand there while the water hits your temples. Whatever you wanna do...but showers always help.

2. Use essential oils. It doesn't matter how you use it. Peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oil has been proven to help headaches, allergies, as well as sinus issues. Lavender may make you sleepy and peppermint may make you more alert, but they all have a bunch of benefits! Whether you want to dab it on your skin or you have it in the form of a lotion, just inhale and exhale.

3. Clean. If you aren't in a clean environment, your head will NOT appreciate it. Being surrounded by dust, dirt, or mold is only going to make you congested. Your goal is to feel fresh, and then you'll be less prone to headaches.

4. Drink water. Not to be caption obvious, but water always deserves an honorable mention. Water can never be bad for you. Dehydration and headaches go very well together. Not to mention, water flushes all the toxins out of your body. Drink up!

5. Use a cold compress. Just put an ice pack or a wet rag on your head for 10 or 15 minutes. This is my favorite because the entire time the cold compress is on your head, you feel no pain.

6. Go outside. It doesn't matter how the weather is and it doesn't matter how long. Fresh air and being in nature for even just 2 minutes will soothe your body and soul!

7. Brush your teeth. This may sound odd...but a lot of headaches are linked to your teeth. And if you brush your teeth and gums really nicely - it will help your headache! This is really good for people who have sinus headaches or headaches related to bruxism. Not to mention, peppermint does help headaches. ;)

8. Eat. Eat something revitalizing and refreshing - I recommend strawberries, watermelon, orange juice...something full of antixoidants and nutrition! A lot of times headaches are just caused by being hungry or not eating well enough.

9. Take a break from technology. Whether you're staring at your computer screen covered in work, or you're just bored so you keep refreshing instagram...keep your head up and live in reality for just a couple of minutes. You'll feel a lot better!

10. Get up and get going. A lot of the time when I have a headache, it tends to go away once I get up and do what I need to do. Whether it be going to work, spending time with my loved ones, or running an errand.

Things to keep in mind for next time:

11. Take vitamins. No matter how healthy you're eating, chances are you're not getting enough of some type of vitamin. I usually take a gummy multivitamin because they're easy to take every morning and have a good amount of all of the vitamins I need. Not only will this rid your chance of headaches, it will make your immune system a lot better.

12. Sleep comfortably. Sleep problems are every headaches best friend. Not sleeping enough and oversleeping causes headaches. Sleeping in the wrong position causes headaches. Changes in your sleep schedule causes headaches. It's crazy. You shouldn't have to analyze your sleep habits. My advice would be to make sure you are sleeping comfortably and doing what feels right for you.

13. Think about your caffeine intake. A lot of people run to caffeine when they have a headache, but this is not a healthy thing to do. This means you get headaches when you have caffeine withdrawals. I think we all forget that caffeine is a drug and it should be taken in moderation!