MOSQUITOLAND - A Novel by David Arnold

I was strolling the aisles of Barnes and Noble the other day, looking for a novel to read. I didn't know what I was looking for. Something adventurous yet inspirational, I suppose. I picked up 7 books...and unfortunately, I had to narrow it down to one. That one was Mosquitoland, a novel by David Arnold.

The cover was mesmerizing. Not to judge a book by it's cover, but both the outside and inside cover gave off the aesthetic of Americana nights. What caught me by surprise was how it was called a "modern American odyssey." That captivated me considering I'm going on an odysseys soon myself!

It's all about a "not okay" girl named Mimi Malone, going on a road trip across the US to visit her sick mom in Cleveland. Along the way, she meets some interesting people and learns more about herself. I don't wanna give anything away, but let's just say the trip doesn't go as planned.

I really enjoyed this, which is a shock because it's either hit or miss with me and young adult literature. Mimi is one of those characters that makes me want to pack a backpack of a few essentials and go on an adventure. She makes me want to face my fears. I felt ready to embark on a journey, you know? Very good read. 8.5/10

Pros: An easy, quick read. Always captivating. Very quotable. True to what it claims to be: a "modern american odyssey."
Cons: Not a lot of character introduction and background information. Some small plot holes / confusing moments, but you get more clarification as you read more.

I Can Do It On My Own

I haven't added angsty webcam pictures to the internet since freshmen year. Welp, here you are internet! (I didn't know what else to add.)

I've always been rather independent. However, I still appreciate a helping hand from others every now and then. I guess I assumed that's what the world would do for me. And when I wonder why no one does help me, it's the same thing. "Maria, you're stronger than everyone else. Maria, you never needed anyone else." They're right, I am strong and independent. However...I keep asking myself the same questions, over and over again. "Since when does being strong and independent mean you have absolutely no weaknesses?"

I like opening up to you guys. It's like no one is listening but at the same time everyone is. Anyone who wants to listen can. I feel like I've been through so much struggle in my life but I kept it to myself because I never wanted anyone to pity me. Yet deep down, I was hoping someone would notice. I was hoping someone would say, "Hey, have you been alright lately? You haven't been yourself." But even if they did ask that, I would probably smile and say, "Oh yeah! Haha just busy." 

I think of all times I've hugged people while they cried in my arms. All the times I drove people to random parking lots just so we could talk. All the times I welcomed 2 AM texts without judgement because we all know I was up anyways. 

But I'm afraid to even tell someone I'm in a bad mood! I feel so vulnerable and weak just by writing this. I feel like if I put down my shield even just for a few moments, someone will take their sword and cut me open. A lot of the time, I feel like I'm slowly winding down. Like a car from the 90's or a Xbox that has been played too many times. I wish I could talk about the specifics. I don't know if I ever will be able to. I'm never going to give up.

But I do have a story to tell. There's a reason I'm good at giving advice. Sure, I've been reading magazines religiously since the 1st grade and I watch a lot of inspirational films. But I've experienced so much in my life that I do not tend to share with the common man. 

I see so many strong men and women coming forward with their stories. Sometimes they speak up right away, however, sometimes it takes years for them to gain the courage. I want to be there to inspire and to help. I want to come forward with my story one day. I want to prove everyone wrong one day.

Until then... thanks for reading.

Maria Elena


Green smoothies used to be unheard of for the general population. Then, the internet happened and the green smoothie trend began. Whether you like them or not depends on your first experience with one.

Did you get the wheatgrass melody or did you get the peach paradise with kale added? The possibilities are endless, but it can get expensive, even if you make it at home. Here's what you'll need.

Serves 2 people.
  • one banana 
  •  1/2 cup of strawberries
  •  1/4 cup blueberries 
  •  3-5 ice cubes 
  •  2 tablespoons of chia seeds 
  •  a splash of almond milk  
  • one packet of VIVARISE (this is what makes it green) 

This smoothie is perfect because you can use basic ingredients (strawberry, banana, etc) to make the smoothie tasty, but you can still get more green than the average person would get in their green smoothie. VIVARISE has wheatgrass, chlorella, alfafa and SO much more plant based ingredients that will give your smoothie a green tint without the green taste.

This smoothie tastes like your average strawberry banana smoothie with the green benefits of VIVARISE, the fat burning of blueberries and the protein of chia seeds. Yes please!

Age of Adaline - A Review

I got the opportunity to see an advanced screening of Age of Adaline, coming out in theaters on April 24, 2015.

As the trailer states, it's about a woman named Adaline who doesn't age, which obviously causes complications in her life. 

The cinematography, fashion & hair is what caught me while watching Age of Adeline. It's not something I primarily pay attention to while watching a film but wow, it was stunning. The saturation was pulled down just a TAD, however there was a light sepia hue over most of the scenes which kept the warm feeling going.

Blake Lively is beautiful, we all know that. However, I just wanna give a shout out to the hair/makeup crew and the costume designer(s). They captured every era with such grace and I envied Blake's hair the entire way through. I may have to make a Pinterest board dedicated to it. 

The movie felt long yet went too fast. I know that's a rather contradictory statement, but let me explain. The relationships in the film and Adaline's history progressed within minutes. Yet at the same time, certain scenes took much more time than they actually needed to, causing the film to feel slow. 

Metaphorically and symbolically speaking, I felt the film lacked consistency. There was a narrator that spoke from a scientific standpoint, and I wasn't sure how accurate the facts were. Then, the characters would speak in such a meaningful way throwing out 2 metaphors a sentence, and later progress into 80s teen film cheesy-ness. I like to leave a film learning something and I just felt at a loss for words.

Michiel Hussman's performance did not impress me. He was acting like a creepy rapist, to be quite honest. I felt uncomfortable watching him. He was no where near romantic and I had NO idea how him and Adaline's (Lively) relationship formed. There was some confusion there. Not to mention, there was some weird familial relationships that made me even more uncomfortable. I don't wanna give it away...but you'll see.

But enough about all that. The film has an interesting concept to it: a woman that never ages. There's a lot of ways you can go with this. I like the general concept of the film and the general meaning of the film, however I don't think it came across the right away, which is kind of the point of film-making. It teaches us all that aging is a GOOD thing - which is something a lot of people need to realize. But I just feel like I didn't get much from this film. I wouldn't watch it again, unless I was trying to get hair inspiration. 5/10. 

MYSPACE (Demo) - Maria Elena

Hi all. Thought I would share this with you. A while back, I wrote the lyrics to a song that would later become 'Myspace.' The melody was running around my head...and sooner or later, it became this. I realize it's a rather rough demo, but hey, I recorded it on the GarageBand app on my phone. I hope one day I can master it.

I'm proud of it because of what it means to me. Myspace is very sacred to me. While many people are embarrassed of the good ol Myspace days, I cherish it. I met so many lovely souls and it really changed pop culture as we know it today. This song is about that time. This song is for Tom and the cool kids I met along the way.

Always. x Maria

i'll text you on my flip phone
"meet me at the park"
i'll be wearing skinny jeans
sitting in the dark

then maybe you'll come over
we'll take some mirror pictures
listen to some pop punk
pretend to drink liquor

and I know
i'm living in the past
but i know you think about me every now and then
i know you think about me when the clock strikes ten

so would you add me to your top 8
on myspace
before it's too late
before we have to say goodbye
(i really miss you but i gotta find some piece of mind)

i bet you're in your basement
blasting linkin park
i wish i could be there now
but there would be no spark

then maybe you'll IM me
"come to the arcade"
you'll be wearing black converse
driving me insane

and i know
i'm living in the past
but i know you think about me every now and then
yeah i know you think about me when the clock strikes ten

so would you add me to your top 8
on myspace
before it's too late
before we have to say goodbye
(i really miss you but i gotta find some piece of mind)

please don't fade away
no, please don't make me say goodbye.

so please just add me there 
and i'll never disappear from your virtual heart
you're a pixelated work of art

i'll text you on my iphone
"meet me at the park"
i'll be in the blue  sundress
sitting in the dark

i know you're not here now
but we have our memories
when they sing "dear maria"
please think of me.

i put you in my top 8
on myspace
where you'll be waiting
where our love will never die

i really miss you, i, i know
our love will never die
i really miss you but our love will never die


This past weekend was so adventurous, but so is each and every day when you 1. spend it with someone you love, 2. never settle, 3. be open to new adventure, and 4. stay true to your heart.

I gotta admit, I've been busier than usual. But I still want to share the joys of my life with you all. In 9 days, Andrew & I will be heading on a plane to California and staying with his super kind aunt and uncle. We will be visiting apartments, drinking good coffee, going to the beach and checking out the unique vegetarian scene there. Did I mention we will be going to DISNEY LAND? AHHHHHH. I cannot contain my excitement. Basically, we're just getting a feel for it to see what we want.

So there you have it! Now, here's what my week was like. (the fun stuff, at least.)

I had a credit at The Exchange so I thought I would get Spyro. I LOVED Spyro growing up, but only really played it for PS1. I'll keep you updated on my progress once I get further in. I got distracted and switched to Kingdom usual. SERIOUS TALK THOUGH: Giant Eagle has amazing veggie sushi. Nom.

Friday's #OOTD. I love this modern, summery, gingham pantsuit-like outfit. I felt super cute in it, plus I appreciate my naturally wavy hair, yo. The crop top & the pants are from Forever 21. The book in my hand, you ask? You shall find out in a future post once I finish it.

I don't know how I feel about Sundays. If any day has a feeling, it's Sunday. Even if you don't have work/school the next day, Sundays just feel...odd. Some just like to relax but I get really bored on Sundays UNLESS I'm with Andrew. We love hiking if it's nice out, and wow, it was so beautiful today. We met a chocolate lab, the sweetest Japanese tourist, and some pretty cool trees. Nature is so blissful. 

The trees are still bare, but every now and then you will see flowers blooming and leaves turning green.  The change of seasons is one of the most beautiful things to see, and I'm so grateful I get to see it. 

ICE CREAM AT ROSATIS! Hometown glory at it's finest. Andrew took this amazing photo and he ate this amazing ice cream cone. Honestly, it's the only dairy I will tolerate. Something about Rosati's is like no other. The experience, the ice cream, the setting. Romantic and cozy.

Half way through Kingdom Hearts 2, loving it. (I realize the photo is from KH1, but it's the only picture I had on my phone and it symbolically resonates with my mood.) I was really disapointed to hear that there is no Kingdom Hearts stuff at Disneyland. I wanted to meet Sora, waaaah. On the other hand, thank you TBS for making my nights an absolute BLAST for airing Big Bang Theory 8-11. I can't get enough of it. WHAT'S GOING ON.


My weekend was full of eternal hope & happiness...but the best is yet to come, as always. Have a lovely Monday. x

Redefining "Lazy"

I bet you slept in till 12 before and I bet someone criticized you about it. Whether it be your mother nagging you or a friend just messing around with you, I bet it has happened before. And why is that?

I mean, it just seems odd to me that we would be criticized for wanting to sleep. For survival reasons, humans are designed to sleep half the day, eat 2000 calories worth of food and drink gallons of water on a daily basis. So there's that. I'll never understand society sometimes.

I love relaxing and eating and laying down and napping but that doesn't mean I lost my passion and work ethic, for crying out loud. I'm sick of people feeling bad for procrastinating or not being productive.

Here's my message for you:

I love relaxing and there's no reason anyone should be bitter about it. When I live, I REALLY live. When I work, I REALLY work. And when I relax..I really like to enjoy it. Sue me.

It's not my fault society has unrealistic standards. You are responsible for your life. If you want to work a 9-5, have 4 kids to watch after, go to college, work two other jobs on the side, be an active part of ten book clubs, run marathons every weekend, and get 2 hours of sleep then be my guest. But don't be all bitter when you see someone having a good time on their day off.

Your mental / emotional health is important. Don't forget that.

{I Got Interviewed for Perfect Peonies} ❀

Hey everybody! Just dropping by to let you all know I got interviewed by beauty blogger Nicola Da Rita of Perfect Peonies.  I loved answering the questions and I hope you enjoy reading. Here are my first five answers to the interview, and you can view it in full here. Enjoy lovelies!

Where were you born, what was your family like? 
I was born in a suburb 20 minutes outside of Cleveland, Ohio. The family member I have the fondest memories of is my grandma. Although she passed, we still have an amazing relationship. She loved me unconditionally and we had a SOUL connection that I will forever cherish.

 Where did you live growing up? 
I grew up in Ohio, and it was a lovely place to grow up. All four seasons beautifully unfolding every few months, neighborhoods were like family, and I felt like I could discover something new everyday. I'm very fond of my hometown, but I know I can't shine here. There's no where new to go and there's no one new to meet. I will always come back, but I can't stay here. 
As a child were you a girly girl or did you hate anything pink, or were you even a little of both?  
Honestly, that's hard to say. I was forced to play sports and hated it. I remember wearing pearl necklaces and lipstick to my softball games. Yet at the same time, I somehow ended up being the only girl at my day care. We would constantly play video games, Yugioh cards and wall ball - which I loved. They wouldn't let me play wall ball at first simply because I was a girl, yet they invited me to the team later on because I was a better catcher than all of them. That's right, guys. In all seriousness though, I got along with both genders. I enjoyed rolling around in the mud and playing video games just as much as I did playing barbies and giving makeovers. Everyone was always asking me if I was a girly girl or a tomboy and I was just like, "I guess both? I'm me." Gender roles are a silly thing, which I now realize.

What is your daily makeup like? 
Usually I just keep it simple - a little bit of highlighter around my eyes and some mascara. And 1-2 times a week some lipstick!

What's your favorite skin care product? 
I love making homemade face masks with everything from coconut oil, to honey, to green tea. For daily use, I love Mary Kay's botanical line. 

♪ Music for the Weekend ♪

Happy Friday my fellow musicheads. I am a sucker for new music. Literally, I dedicate time every week for discovering new music from artists. And... it seems like within the past few months, we've been getting TONS of new material here. Not from the the biggest pop stars, rappers, and bands. But from artists that have been dormant for a while. During my music search, I came across these singles and albums I think you all should give a brief listen to. They all bring something new to the table and i think you will find that it will revitalize you. Enjoy your weekend. XOXO

All That - Carly Rae Jepsen {Single}
Poor Carly. She's never really been taken seriously. Regardless of what you think of her music, 'All That' is worth the listen. I never really payed attention to her as an artist but this song is a masterpiece. It's reminiscent of 'Sometimes' by Britney Spears, with it's own vintage vibe to it. It's nice to see an artist push the boundaries of what's "trendy" now. Are the 90s back yet?

American Nights - Plain White T's {Album}

I saw no promo for this album but it's amazing. It embodies the classic simplicity of Plain White T's. If you think about it, they were one of the first indie-acoustic-quirky-soft voiced artists that made it. The songs are summery, and make you feel like you're laying on the beach, staring at blue skies. Acoustic simplicity with a hint of Myspace with a hint of Beach Boys realness. The entire album alltogether is a really cohesive piece that makes you want to see fireworks and eat hot dogs with every person you ever loved. Really, it makes me so happy.

American Candy - The Maine {Album}
My pop punk roots are very special to me, however, The Maine was never my favorite band. First of all, I love the album art of American Candy. The album is innovative and new - welcoming a new audience to their music. Some people are probably thinking, "The Maine? Wow, what an awesome new band!" Little do they know...The Maine has been rockin it since I had scene hair.

Future Hearts - All Time Low {Album}
All Time Low and me go way back. Their song 'Dear Maria, Count Me In' is one of my favorite songs ever, obviously. They know their audience quite well, because this album blew up amongst their fans. An album full of teenage angst, breaking free, and an all around "fuck it, I'm doing me" attitude - therefore, this is the PERFECT summer album. You're gonna wanna mosh to 'Kids in the Dark' and you're gonna wanna cry to 'Missing You.' Plus Mark Hoppus and Joel Madden are featured on the album. Ahhh, every closet emos dream!

Ship to Wreck - Florence and the Machine {Single}
Florence and the Machine never fails. It's not their best, but you know what? It still has poetic lyrics, powerful themes of spirituality and nature, and Florence's angelic voice. I am so excited for their new album so I can dance in the middle of a forest and enlighten my soul, like I usually do to Florence's music.

The Wolf - Mumford and Sons {Single}
Remember when Mumford and Sons blew up? It was so sudden. No one ever thought a folk banjo band would be on the radio. They really started a movement and they deserve credit for that. Well, they're back. They're music seems to be less raw and a bit more sped up compared to their last album. I'm hoping for some more acoustic songs, but hey. This song is a JAM and makes me wanna stare out the car window while thinking about all my life decisions. 

An Ode to Every Buffalo Sauce Ever

I love buffalo sauce SO much. I mean, I love sriracha, hot sauce, tabasco sauce, chipotle sauce, and so on. Spicy sauces are necessary for my palate to be happy. Although I'm not big on fast food, I decided to review all the buffalo sauces from the most famous fast food chains considering I grew up devouring buffalo sauce and I feel I'm basically an expert on it now. Not that that really matters in terms of anything, but here ya go. Knock yourself out.

The aroma pinches my nose and makes my mouth start to water. When Arby's buffalo sauce first met my taste buds, they were very happy. Cayenne red pepper is the prominent ingredient in their sauce - the taste is quite basic yet basic in the way you want it to be. It's the perfect amount of spicy with a HINT of sweetness. It's not crazy impressive, but hey, I would still dip pretty much anything in it. If you are looking for a buffalo sauce similar to your typical hot sauce taste, this is the one for you. 8/10.

Burger King:
Burger King's buffalo sauce was my first, so I'll always have a special place for it. I love pairing it with their onion rings, but still. The ingredients on the packet are size 6 font because there's so many. The simpler the buffalo sauce, the better. It's creamy instead of liquid, and it seems like there is more dairy ingredients than peppery ingredients. Don't get my wrong, it's an amazing tasting sauce. However, I think it qualifys as buffalo sauce. Perhaps a chipotle sauce. NEXT. 6/10.

Hellooooo beautiful. If you are buffalo sauce obsessed, chances want a sauce that's actually spicy. Chickfila challenges all of us spicy food lovers with a sauce that makes you regret eating it out of the packet..yet you never quite learn your lesson cause it's THAT good. I love dipping their waffle fries in the sauce, they compliment each other perfectly. Chickfila and Arby's buffalo sauce is very similar, but Chickfila wins the race due to being a bit more spicier and tangier. 10/10.

I would never go to Mcdonalds, so why even bother trying their sauce? Mcdonalds marketing team keeps on changing their vision. Have you seen the commercials lately? Pretending they make everyone happy, pretending they offer healthy options, pretending they are a local cafe. MAKE UP YOUR MIND! Anyways...I can't actually eat here cause they offer no vegetarian options. Oddly enough, even their fries have beef in it. Their buffalo sauce is actually quite unique, spicy yet savory. Maybe they added beef powder and beaver anus flavoring to it. Hm. 4/10.

While all the other buffalo sauces are a shade of orange, Popeyes buffalo sauce is a shade of red with perhaps an orange tint. It's as liquid as could be, and is made of 85% hot sauce. (that is not a confirmed number, just by observation) The taste is oddly bland, though. It could be because the options Popeyes offer is already full of spicy flavoring, but hey, what do I know? I expected it to be flavorful, therefore it doesn't interest me. 5/10.

Although it's called buffalo RANCH, I decided to give it some spotlight anyways. This used to be one of my favorite sauces. Ranch is good but it can be too banal. Buffalo sauce is good as well, but it can overtake the flavor of what you're actually eating. Buffalo ranch is unique for a fast food chain! However, they changed the recipe up a bit lately and it has this weird celery taste due to the celery seed they added. Also, it would be awesome if they made it maybe a bit less ranchy? 7/10.

My First Rocksbox {REVIEW}

I have received my first Rocksbox as apart of their blogger program and let me tell you - they honestly makes me feel like a royal socialite or something. Designer jewelry sent to my doorstep every month with a personalized note from professional stylists? I mean, wow. Rocksbox is makin' me feel all special.

I view subscription boxes from a very practical matter, and a lot of times you have to do some searching to figure out if this subscription box is for you. Let me explain so you can save yourself the time.

Here's a quick synopsis of what Rocksbox actually is:
  • Price: $19/month
  • Three pieces of designer jewelry in each and every monthly box
  • You take a style survey at the beginning, create a wish list, and give feedback on every box. The Rocksbox stylists will create a box customized just for you based on your style!
  • You do NOT get to keep the jewelry. You ship it back whenever you would like, and they provide you the shipping materials.
  • If you do wish to keep a piece of jewelry, you can use your monthly shine spend they provide you.
  • If you break or damage a piece of jewelry, you do not have to worry about paying for it. Yay for warranty!
I really loved the pieces they picked out for me. The necklace is the "Maddie Crystal" necklace from Perry Street. I love statement necklaces that have elegance and a modest sense to them, and this was perfect. Nothing too flashy, but it still makes a statement. 

It's up to you to decide if Rocksbox is for you. I like to try things out before I commit, so here. For a free month of Rocksbox, use the code "themariaelenaxoxo" once you get to checkout! Enjoy lovelies. 


I can't even tell you how many fictional characters and public figures I would love to meet. I admire so many of them, as many people do, BUT... would I be compatible with them? Would we be eligible as best friends? For example, as much as I love Rachel Berry (Glee), we would bump heads too often due to our "star" attitude. And as much as I love Sora (Kingdom Hearts), our worlds are CLEARLY separate and he has too much on his hands to worry about being friends with me anyways. He is the keyblade master after all. These are things to think about when making a BFF wish list. Anyways, here's mine.

1. Leonard Hofstadter - Ever since I started watching The Big Bang Theory, Leonard was my favorite character. I just had a soft spot for him. He's open minded, constantly gets everyone thai food, is obsessed with Halo night, and is a really talented physicist. OH - plus he puts up with Sheldon, which is basically impossible. My dream is to go to San Diego Comic Con with Leonard and then end our night playing video games and eating thai food. Then we can talk about his relationship problems without Sheldon bringing up science and Howard bringing up weird sexual stuff. I hope Penny and Raj stop by. Wait, this isn't happening...never mind.

2. Titus Andromedon - Let's face it, Titus wouldn't be a good friend in terms of helping you out when you're sad and buying you soup when you're sick. Some may even say he's self-centered. However, I would love to spend endless hours spilling the tea with Titus. He's shady in the most ruthless way and I need more people like that in my life. He tells you when you look bad and he tells you when you're dating someone crazy. He's honest and hilarious and he's TITUS. Titus, we may both be poor, but we still slay at life.

3. Lorde aka ELLA - I can see it now. Midnight bonfire, orange juice in our hands. Talking about all the big subjects in life while the wind caresses our long locks of hair. Then the night will end in us collaborating. The song will probably be called "Queendom," or something. Whatever.

4. Miley Cyrus - I'm not even kidding when I say this. If I could party with anyone, it would be Milez. She is my ride or die, no matter what. I've always loved Miley regardless of all the scandals and rumors. Basically, Miley is the baddest bitch in the game. She's been killing it before she even turned 13, and now all I want to do is party with her all the time. WHAT HAS MILEY CYRUS DONE TO ME? Everything. She has done everything to me.

5. Tom AND Donna - Okay. Tom and Donna are amazing on their own. Yet as a trio, OH, would we shine. I'm just trying to imagine - we would make amazing business deals together, we would treat ourselves on a 24/7 basis, and make fun of Ron all the time. Did I mention Whine and Cheese club would take place twice a week? Exactly. Tom and Donna, please enter my life.

6. Everyone at Hogwarts - I was thinking about every Harry Potter character, and I couldn't choose just one. If you go to Hogwarts, you are automatically a better person than me and everyone I know that doesn't attend Hogwarts. Basically, I love them all. ATTENTION: If you go to Hogwarts and want to be my friend, just let me know. Send me an owl or something. I don't care if you're a terrible person. Hell, I don't even care if you're a Hufflepuff. I know I'm in the "muggle" world, but I won't tell anyone if you reach out to me.

You NEED to Be Watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

YAY - I started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (starring Ellie Kemper) last night! It's been the talk of the Netflix world for a few weeks now and now I finally see why.

Basically, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) gets kidnapped in 8th grade along with three other women by a creepy reverend who believes they are the only living creatures alive after the "apocalypse." It sounds like a terrifying thriller but it's what makes the show so great.

When she is finally rescued, she heads off to New York City to start a new life. She hasn't been in the real world for over a decade so everything is different and she still has A LOT of learning to do. Ellie Kemper is the perfect candidate for this role, and one of the only people that can pull of the optimistic, happy-go-lucky, innocent adult.

So, a women who was rescued from a cult starts a life in New York? Not your everyday idea for a television show. Risky, but risky in all the right ways. Like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards or Portlandia, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is refreshing and pulls in a diverse audience.

The show is literally HILARIOUS. It makes me laugh out loud and the next day I was quoting is constantly in real life conversations. I also found myself singing "PINOT NOIRRRRRRRRR" every few hours.

It captures the everyday struggle of New York (probably thanks to Tina Fey) without sacrificing classic NYC themes, such as construction workers, sketchy clubs and rich white people participating in gentrification.

When I was watching the first episode, I fell in love with Kemper's performance as Kimmy, however, everything changed when Tituss Burgess walked into the room. I don't know what it is about him. This man is pure comedic gold. It's nice to see a character that is black and gay that isn't defined by the fact that he is black and gay. He doesn't follow any stereotypes which is quite uncommon for television revitalizing is that? Honestly, this man has such a natural gift of hilarious facial expressions, accents, and reactions. End of story.

The writing is inventive and modern with a hint of sarcasm. Sure, there's laughter as well as there's inspiration moments - however, you can tell the writers and producers make sure they don't follow a formula. We need more television like this.

We all hopped on the Orange is the New Black train as soon as we could. I mean, who knew everyone would go crazy over a television show about a bunch of women basically doing nothing in prison?

Well, let me tell you, you want to jump on the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt train as soon as you can. It came out in March, so it's still early, but sooner or later - it's going to be the talk of your cocktail parties and coffee break meetings. Season 2 is confirmed because yes, they really did do that well.

NARS Lip Pencil: Satin & Velvet Matte {Review}

Being a Sephora Beauty Insider is pretty awesome due to an awesome free birthday gift every year. For 2015, the Sephora birthday gift for beauty insiders was two Nars lip pencils in satin and velvet matte!

My eyes were instantly drawn to the velvet matte, because I am crazy for shades of dark red. However, after trying them both, I fell in love with the satin. It was suddenly the best lip product I ever used. It gave my lips a natural blush tint without going too over the top. Sure, I have other natural pink lipstick shades but they scream "I AM WEARING LIPSTICK." It stays on easily, keeps them lips moisturized and doesn't wear off with eating, kissing, or existing. Which is something quite vital, in my opinion.

The velvet matte is a classy red that goes on the lips very smoothly. It's candy apple tinted, and considering it's matte, it's perfect. Red lipstick is always the most glamorous when it's matte.

Lip pencils / crayons are great in that sense because you can put it on correctly without being an expert. Lipsticks are easy to smear and it's sometimes hard to stay "inside the lines."

I am wearing the satin lip pencil in the picture to the right. It reminds me of cherry blossoms and smiles, and it actually looks good with my super pale skin! Yay! I've stated it before, I am not a HUGE make up fan. But every now and then that product comes along.

NARS lip pencils are now going to be a beauty essential for me.

Choolaah Indian BBQ: A Culinary Experience

It’s quite common to get excited when a new restaurant opens up near by. Whether you live in the middle of nowhere or amongst millions in a huge city, a new restaurant opening up means new opportunities.

Choolaah Indian BBQ just recently opened in Northeast Ohio and is already taking the world by storm.

I usually have low expectations whenever a new restaurant opens up. All I really consider is the quality of the food and the service. I mean, it takes time to build a business, financially AND aesthetically. Yet when I first walked into Choolaah, I was shocked it was the only one of it’s kind. Like Chipotle or Panera - it seemed to have a very clear image. Trademark slogans and symbols. Nutrition information. Wide, clean open space. A very CLEAR menu with vegetarian and vegan options. Fast service. And of course: quality food and service.

Andrew took this photo! (instagram: @arflip) And every other photo. ;P
Fast casual eateries are growing rapidly. People want quality food fast. They want to be able to customize it and they want to know what they are consuming. You can sit down and eat, have a business meeting, or do what you need to do without tipping or worrying about pricy menu options.

I had indian food a few times, but I never really fully immersed myself in it due to fear. I’m really happy Choolaah is introducing a new food experience for thousands of individuals like myself.

I got the chickpea masala and samosas with the Choolaah fire hot sauce. The chickpea masala is perfect for vegetarians looking to try something simple yet savory. The bowl was filling for my stomach but didn’t take much out of my wallet. It starts with basmati rice topped with delicious chickpeas smothered in a zesty gravy.

And don’t even get me started with the samosas. They were the BEST SAMOSAS I ever had. So crispy yet so soft on the inside. The hot sauce was intense and rich, tasting like hot peppers and curry went through cell fusion just to make this piquant sauce.

I am really satisfied with my Choolaah Indian BBQ experience. I know they are planning on opening other locations in the future, and I am VERY thrilled for their future and to see them thrive. Find out more about them here!

MARIA ELENA: Life Update ♡

I never really did a 'life update' before. However, I want to have the best relationship with my readers and share what's been going on in my life. Alas, here is a brief update on my life and what I have in store for all of you.

  • I've been learning how to speak Spanish! (with the help of my favorite app Dualingo, books, and Spanish speaking people.) It's such a beautiful language and damn, it's going to come in handy. I travel too much to only speak English and French.
  • I still haven't gotten Mario Party 10 yet, but wow, am I excited or what? Daisy deserves more screen time from what I've seen so far. Regardless, I can't wait. In terms of gaming, I'm still reliving Kingdom Hearts. Also, I'm always up for a round of Smash Bros. Slide into the DMs to get my friend code. 
  • My birthday is coming up! April 6th. I will be turning 19. Not that age really matters but I guess that is relevant to what's going on lately, right?
  • A lot of collaborations are also coming up. Excited to share with you everything from my Rocksbox collaboration to an upcoming interview with a certain musician. Coming soon to Pink Chanel Suit!
  • I'm trying to use my impact for good. I'm starting to realize how much I care about equality for all and bringing awareness to social issues. I don't have millions of followers, however, I do have some. I'm a living, existing human and I can spread the word. I really think it's important to respect and learn from other cultures, to never discriminate, and to love the world for what it is. 
  • I'm at a stalemate and I'm okay with it! I feel like a lot of people are confused about what I'm doing. "Are you going to school? Where are you working at? Hey, are you still dating that one guy? Wait, where do you live now?" I appreciate the concern, but I'm fine. These questions can come up when one goes through such sudden changes so fast. It angers me how people expect me to have everything sorted out at 19. No one EVER has everything sorted out regardless of age. So why expect that from me? However, I'm really happy with my life and good things are coming. So...BACK OFF, YO. (or you can stay pressed.)
  • California, here I come! I had a hard time figuring out where I wanted to go after high school. As many of you know, I decided to go to New York instead of Los Angeles. I loved New York with all of my heart but I have to follow my intuition and experience the whole wide world. So yeah, I'm going to LA! Nothing is set in stone yet, but I have a lot planned out.
  • I'm appreciating your love SO MUCH. A LOT. TONS. x1933593. You guys don't understand how much an email or instagram comment means to me. When you guys share your feedback on my creative content, it keeps me going and makes me feel more than alive. Eternally grateful for all of you.
That's really about it. Every day of life is an adventure. And I've been living that adventure, with ups and downs, obviously. I've been so many places doing so many different things - and I'm proud of myself for it. Looking forward to the future but always appreciating the past. XO