TELESCOPE EYES

Woltor Dreissen

my man & i
we are the sun

we are too golden,
too fiery 
for this world

this heavenly love of mine
is the center of my solar system
giving me life

i give him all of my stardust
so he can shine bright

your telescope eyes are so blind,
you're 93 million miles away

not even an astrophysicist could comprehend the phenomenon of 
the two flames that turned into one
to give you summer days

MY EXPERIENCE WITH VEESTRO'S 21 DAY CHALLENGE (PLUS A DISCOUNT CODE!)

Tuscan Calzone
We've all heard of meal plans. They're all graciously delivered to our door, making us feel like kids at Christmas all over again. Some of them are pre-packaged meals, while others give you the ingredients so you can cook the meal yourself. Both are equally awesome, however, most of them lack vegan and vegetarian friendly options, making veggies everywhere feel very neglected.

DISNEYLAND DATE + BEAUTY & THE BEAST INSPIRED OUTFIT

It's a good time to be a Beauty & The Beast fan. The live action film just came out, Disneyland officially has a BATB-themed restaurant, and there's merch EVERYWHERE. Is it 1991 again?

While I love all Disney films, Beauty & The Beast has a special place in my heart. I've obviously seen the animated version a gazillion times, but I also got the opportunity to see it while it was touring a couple of times. Plus, I got to see Susan Egan (Belle on Broadway) sing her songs from the musical live at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer of 2016! I love experiencing the story of Belle & the Beast through every medium possible.

But the reason it hits home is because it was the first musical I was ever casted in. Sure, it was just a high school production and I was only casted as a salt shaker, but oooooh, was it magical. Right then, right there, I was introduced to one of my deepest passions: theater. To this day, anytime I hear the score, tears start streaming down my face. So needless to say, I was pretty frickin' excited to see the live action film, despite the fact that I ended up having mixed feelings about it.

I'm so excited to share with you this Beauty & the Beast inspired #ootd and Disneyland date, all taken with my new Canon Rebel!

Dress: Unique Vintage (they also have an AMAZING Beauty & The Beast collection. Unique Vintage always delivers)
Cogsworth Purse: from Boxlunch, by Danielle Nicole Handbags 
Shoes: Keds

Spring at Disneyland. You just can't beat it. (Well, unless we're talking about Halloween or Christmas.)

Attempting to be cute at Minnie's house.

Cogsworth is such a little cutie! This purse from Box Lunch makes me so happy.

So, I tried the grey stuff and the dishes were right. It was delicious! It was a vanilla-esque buttercream frosting with red velvet cake and raspberry flavoring on the inside. The biscuit at the bottom is lemon flavored!

The cauliflower steak sandwich however, was SOOOO much better. It was so amazing to see Disneyland offer an unconventional vegetarian option. It had a lot of flavor and was paired perfectly with pomme frites!

My whatta guy, GAS-TOOOOOON!

My dress is so feminine and puffy! Madame Wardrobe would love it.

I hope Minnie didn't mind me leaning on her fence.

I wish my shoulders were back more, but whatevs.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme,
Maria Elena

COTTON CANDY BEACH VIBES - #OOTD

It may still be snowing on the East Coast, but spring has officially hit in Southern California, which means you'll be seeing me at the beach waaaay more than usual. 

This look is inspired by those sugary sweet summery days where you don't have a care in the world. You know, those moments filled with boardwalk dates, carnival food diets, romantic flings, and the oddly satisfying aroma of sunscreen in the air! I thought, "Why have cotton candy at the beach when you could be cotton candy at the beach?" 

While my new pastel hair could make any outfit look bright and flirty, I felt like this Unique Vintage Hamilton Swing Dress dress was the cherry on top. It's the perfect shade of peachy pink and reminds me of vintage Coney Island days! 😍

And in terms of comfort, I give it an A+. My bust tends to be bigger than the rest of my body, meaning I usually have to wear unflattering dresses most of the time. However, the dress fit true to size and the straps made it customizable to any bust size. 

Outfit details:

Dress: Unique Vintage (I'm wearing a medium)









xoxo,
Maria Elena

Natural Products Expo West At Anaheim Convention Center AKA Vegan Heaven ♡

This past weekend I got the opportunity to attend Natural Products Expo West at Anaheim Convention Center! When I saw the coverage of the expo last year, I thought, "This looks AMAZING. I have to go." And interestingly enough, a few days before the 2017 expo, I found out it was right down the street from me! So naturally, I went.

Natural Products Expo West is a trade show for...well, natural products. There were industry professionals everywhere: buyers from Whole Foods, Kroger, Sprouts, you name it. Bloggers, writers, influencers. Companies, businesses, distributers. Cooks, beauty gurus, veganistas.

Basically anyone in the natural food business! I attended as a blogger (obvi) so the event was really stress-free. I recommend attending if you're interested in natural products, a vegan/gluten-free lifestyle, organic products, etc.

You basically get a bunch of free food and samples handed to you all day. And yes, they're all natural - so it's perfect for special diets! Plus you get first dibs on new products, which will make all your natural-product-lovin' friends jealous.

Here's some of the highlights from my experience at Natural Products Expo West!


The rainbow Zevia wall was absolutely adorable. Zevia's ginger ale basically got me through cold & flu season without all the sugar, so yeah, I LOOOOVE their products. They had a full out DJ too, making the experience pretty awesome, to say the least.


I got to sample Daiya's "award winning" vegan queso cheese! Mmmmm, it was so good. If I'm being honest, I don't really like their cheese, but this had something special about it.



We all love Yogi for their organic teas and inspirational messages. To see those messages hanging from the ceiling was surreal. 


Oooooh, and we can't forget Steaz! Steaz is affordable, delicious iced tea made of primarily stevia or cane sugar. Some of their varieties are unsweetened. All are equally delicious. Plus they remind me of simpler times! I discovered Steaz during one of the most transformative Spring's of my life. 


Pacific was sampling all of their dairy-free milks! My fav was the Hemp. Their soups are delicious too!


The Silk / SO Delicious area was ADORBS. A small trailer serving dairy free treats? Count me in!


Vita CoCo was giving me some serious beach vibes. There were so many companies serving popcorn, but these mini-boxes were just so tempting. 


Sick of making vegan pancakes from scratch? Now you don't have to! Follow Your Heart created a vegan pancake / waffle batter and it was soooo decadent. Gosh, I love Follow Your Heart so much. They have the best cheese, the best dressings, and I can't wait to try their vegan egg.


This was about half of my haul! I also left with some coupons for Tofurky, Follow Your Heart, Brazi Bites, Earth Balance and more. Unfortunately I missed the Califia Farms and Beyond Meat booth but hey...there's always next year. 

Attending Expo West was such a valuable experience. Although I've always been a vegetarian with vegan tendencies, expo west gave me a reawakening. It made me want to pay more attention to natural products again and "spring clean" my kitchen!

In the meantime, I'll be snacking...

The Ultimate Guide To Self Care

Art by Vicky Webb. Buy her art here.

Self care: it's something we hear about a lot. But...what actually is it?

Contrary to popular belief, self care isn't just lavender-scented bubble baths, brisk fall walks and diving into a really good book. Self care is different for every person.

For an introverted person, self care might mean locking yourself in the house and hibernating all weekend. For an extroverted person, self care might mean hitting every party known to man until you can't stand up anymore. Different things inspire us and different things help us relax, so it only makes sense that our self care is very...well, different.

For me, self care is letting my mind, body and soul take a break from hard work and societal expectations.

I can only be "on" for so long. After only a few hours of socializing, I start to feel drained. A couple more hours later, I feel like death. Because of this, I'm constantly giving myself permission to miss not-so-important events and avoid social contact. It might sound wrong, but it makes me comfortable.

Honestly, sometimes all self care is for me is a large bag of hot cheetos and a Disney movie. It's really that simple. It makes me feel good and it takes me away from reality for a bit.  

But at the same time, self care isn't always the feel-good, relaxing things. In order to live your best life, your environment should be clean, your body should be healthy, and your work should be done so your stress level is kept low. A lot of people think self care means procrastination and laziness but that's usually not the case.


For example, if dirty laundry is overflowing in my hamper and dust is accumulating on the floor, I have a hard time thinking straight. A cluttered workspace (or home space) will only clutter your mind. If my to-do list is full, I start to feel anxious. I can't even watch a movie without having all the things I need to do in the back of my mind. Because of this, a huge part of my self care routine is making sure I get those little things done so I can just relax and indulge in the finer things in life!



via GIPHY

While our ideal night of self care might include gourmet Belgian chocolates, a bath sponsored by Lush, Kardashian-approved face masks and the finest organic teas, I feel like that's a romanticized version of self care. I firmly believe that we should practice self care everyday. It doesn't have to be this day long, ethereal experience. It can simply be making a scary phone call, treating yourself to ice cream or giving a stranger a compliment.

But before we get into the ways to practice self care, I'd like to give you some general tips that I think will come in handy in everyday life. Self care should be a huge part of your lifestyle, so it's important you do it right!

Off we goooooooo!


1. Give yourself a break from the news.
Back in the good 'ol days, we would only hear about news if we were watching TV or reading a magazine. Sometimes it would come from word of mouth. But now...every single news story is presented to us online. You literally can't escape it. I think we all need to give ourselves a break from the news, politics, and social justice every now and then for the sake of our own health. We went from hearing about maybe a few news stories a day to hearing hundreds. I just don't think that's human.


2. Remember the things that gave you joy as a child and do those things.
Dancing? Coloring? Snacking? Reading? Think about what really made you tick as a child and explore that side of you again. Don't get too caught up in the adult world's expectations of you.

3. Stop reading emails after 5, 7, or another appropriate time.
I'm guilty of checking my email all day. As a freelance writer, this is absolutely terrible for me to do. I don't have an actual clock in or clock out time, so when I check my email all day, that puts me in "work mode" from dawn to dusk. Not a good idea, friends.

4. When waking up in the morning, do 3-5 things before going on social media.
Okay...let's just be real here. If Twitter is the first thing you see when you wake up every morning, are you actually even living? Believe me, I'm addicted to social media, but it's probably a good idea to prioritize the real world. I realize checking social media is important, and it would be ridiculous for me to suggest otherwise. But before scrolling down your feed, do something else. Brush your teeth. Make a cup of tea. Something!


via GIPHY

5. Let yourself indulge financially.
Okay, this is coming from a VERY frugal person. If you're already spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month on unnecessary nonsense, this doesn't apply to you. But if you find yourself saving every penny you get like me, allow yourself to treat yourself to a weekend vacation or fun date night every once in a while.

6. Know your triggers.
It can be easy to get caught up in your everyday responsibilities, causing you to put off self care. This is why it's important to know your triggers! For me, I know it's time for me to give myself some care when I no longer feel like myself. If I'm feeling like a robot with no inner compass, passion or motivation, I know I gotta get down to business and self care it up.

7. Make to-do lists and get that sh*t done.
To-do lists can be quite overwhelming at first. In the long run however, they pay off. When you don't have all the things you need to do written down somewhere (whether that be in your iPhone or in a journal), it constantly lives within the back of your mind. When you actually take time to write it down, you realize you don't have that much to do after all. A lot of the things on my to-do list end up being quick, (almost) painless tasks, like making a 2 minute phone call or remembering to pay my student loan. To-do lists will keep your mind in a good place, I promise!

8. Don't let anyone tell you you're "selfish" or "lazy."
I grew up in a household where I was considered lazy or selfish for wanting some me time. As I transitioned into adulthood, I realized it's not just a parent thing. Self-care-shaming can come from your friends, employers, colleagues, or even random strangers. As an introverted, hard working individual with mental illness, I find myself needing some extra time to breathe, which can be hard for others to understand. But you know what? They don't have to understand.


via GIPHY

9. Allow yourself to half-ass sometimes.
This is going to come off wrong, but I promise, I have a good point! One of my more controversial opinions is that humans aren't hardwired to work as much as we're expected. 40+ hour work weeks, exhausting commutes, with limited pay and benefits? No thank you. I consider myself a very hard worker, but that's because I allow myself to chill sometimes. If I gave my 110% everyday, I would've burned out years ago. You don't have to be a hardworking overachiever like Dwight Schrute every single day. Sometimes, you can be a Jim Halpert that half asses and jokes around, but still ends up being one of the top salesmen because he ends up getting his work done. Be the Dwight Schrute about things you're passionate about and be the Jim Halpert about things you have to get done anyways.

10. Make sure your sanctuary represents you and keep it clean.
This is something that I lived by my entire life. If I don't feel like my space is expressive, I feel trapped. My apartment has to represent me and be my general aesthetic or else I'm uninspired. Whether it be your room, dorm, or apartment, decorate it with art you like! Get trinkets you think are cute! Clean it often (as you can) so you stay fresh and motivated! Make sure it's cozy and radiates the energy you're craving! Too often, I've lived in spaces that were dark, dirty, and full of negativity energy. While it may seem like NBD, it was one of the most depressing eras of my life. Remember, it's not a space, it's a sanctuary!

Now that we've went over general self care lifestyle tips, let's get down to business and talk about how you can practice self care! As I said earlier, self care is different for everyone. However, these suggestions will help you get things going!

Take a walk, alone or with someone you love.
Stay hydrated. With water. Not soda, not gatorade, not tea. Water!
Watch a mindless feel-good movie...or a stimulating feel-sad movie. We need both!
Create a self-care playlist, filled with songs that inspire you. 
Put a journal to use. You can use it for anything: to do lists, poetry, or just diary entries. 
Take a bath with a fancy bath bomb and a fancy green tea.
Clean and do laundry because your place is starting to look trashed and you've been wearing those pants for waaaay too long.
Indulge in each and every season by eating seasonally, practicing traditions and celebrating holidays.
Call or text someone that calms you down. Whether it be your bestie, your boo, your mom, or your therapist. 
Go out in the sun and get some vitamin D, even just for a few minutes.
Reflect by a body of water. 
Go to the library and check out an interesting book. 

There are HUNDREDS of ways to practice self-care, but those are just some basic, generally universally relatable ways to do so. If you have more personal or unconventional ways to practice self care, please let me know! I'm always looking for ways to get my care on.

In the meantime, stay cozy and healthy.

Xoxo,

Maria Elena