valentine's day, cake, dinner party
If you’re anything like me and your middle name should be Procrastination, then you’ve come to the right place! Hence, this guide being posted on the day of Valentine’s Day! For the past three years, I would normally attend a Galentine’s Day brunch with girlfriends at a lovely restaurant. Absolutely minimal work…I just showed up, ate, chit-chatted, paid, and left. But, this year work was a complete GD-blocker! Sadly I wasn’t able to attend the annual Galentine’s Day Brunch so at the last minute I decided to host Valentine’s Day dinner. 
 
 
Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate love and friendships after a hectic Christmas season and long AF January! And hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner can be extra special and inexpensive. Here’s is how to pull off a successful Valentine’s Day dinner (on a budget)!
valentine's day menu, salmon, ravioli

* Create a simple menu. Since we’re all coming straight from work I didn’t want to be in the kitchen forever to cook a meal or have them waiting too long. I love Italian cuisine! It can be simple, filling, but most importantly fast and delicious Make sure your dinner is partially premade and partially homemade. So I purchased lobster ravioli from Trader Joe’s. I’m making semi-homemade tomato sauce and tomato Feta soup. I purchased a baguette and salmon to make a simple smoked salmon Crostini.

* Ask your guests to bring wine or dessert. Not only is it going to save you time from having to get everything, it’s going to save you money. Don’t worry it’s not déclassé. Your friends truly won’t mind. Besides, you’re cooking them a lovely meal and entertaining them.

* Create a beautiful tablescape. Don’t get caught up in expensive red roses. Get flowers in soft hues with a whimsical touch from your local grocery store or a street market vendor. Seriously, everyone is selling flowers today…even the gas stations! I have classic white dinner plates and actually found my gold trim dessert plates at Goodwill! My vases were a gift, but if you don’t have any go to the Dollar Store and quickly grab one.

* Create a color scheme and stick to it. My color scheme is white, gold, and pink. Make it easy on yourself! Get colored napkins. White is seriously your best friend for dinnerware.

* Create a balance playlist. Your playlist should be whatever you and your guests enjoy listening to. Mix up the genres. I’m making my playlist on the metro ride into work. I’m mixing the genres with an upbeat theme of love and friendship.

Just because you procrastinated, that doesn’t mean this should be stressful! Make it simple and fun! If you feel like you’re becoming overwhelmed, order an amazing pizza and eat it with candles lit, music flowing, and have a glass of wine. I, personally, just love to entertain and set the atmosphere so I do extra work that my friends don’t necessarily care about but they appreciate it which makes me love doing it more. Enjoy Valentine’s Day whether you’re single or you have a significant other!

 

Besitos,

Melizza

 

haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-relax-13-final

We’ve all had weeks where we think to ourselves “WTF…can I just stop being an adult?” And if you haven’t please do tell me your secret! Lol well, last week was one of those stressful weeks that I wanted to crawl into bed and say, “F*** it!” But, I was so busy I would legitimately have to schedule in crying session (which never happened). So when my friend said she was doing a staycation I didn’t think twice and packed my bags. We stayed in a hotel in the Financial district, explored new restaurants, watched girly shows on TLC, and danced the night away. Our staycation only lasted 24 hours but we felt like we were away in another city for an entire week.

Here are my top 5 reasons to do a staycation:

  1.   It’s less expensive than an actual vacation.  Staycations help you save on expensive airfare, car rentals, accommodations etc. I took the train to our hotel and allocated that fare to something else I wanted. We found an amazing deal on our accommodations. Using Airbnb is another one of my favorite options for accommodations.
  2.  You’ll see your city in a different light. We explored new restaurants, shops, and venues in a neighborhood that we’ve never lived in. I legitimately felt like a tourist in another city. New York has a million new things to see and do. I’d just advise you to make a list and plan out where you want to do and what you want to see. The best part is you can’t really get lost.
  3.  You’ll connect more with yourself and loved ones.  I spent this staycation with my former roomie (turned friend) and we got to know each other more and we bonded over super girly things!
  4.  You can COMPLETELY unplug. I didn’t answer any emails or phone calls while I was relaxing. I wasn’t out of the country, so my family had no need to panic when my cell went straight to voicemail. I was liberating not being chained to my electronics.
  5.  You’ll feel completely refreshed. Our staycation only lasted 24 hours, but it felt like I was gone for an entire week. I went to work the next day feeling as if I could wrestle a lion with my bare hands (which I would never do in real life even if I could).

haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-relax-4-final

So start planning your staycation! You deserve a little R&R. A little bit of research and planning can help you learn new things about your city and maybe even help remind you why you have stayed and haven’t relocated.

Besitos,

Melizza

Volez, Voguez, Voyagez, Louis Vuitton, Exhibition
Like a bear during Winter, it seemed like my body began its own preparation for hibernation. Add in the holiday spread and forget about it! But this Winter I wanted to make a conscious effort to stay stylish like the women on my Pinterest boards! I gave myself a healthy spending budget to purchase some comfortable and stylish jeans, sweaters, and footwear…you know, give myself some kind of incentive to get dress and leave my home. So when I decided to take my best friend to the Louis Vuitton New York Exhibition I pulled out my Plus Size Refuge Destroyed Pearl Applique Crop JeansCharlotte Russe, metallic and white slip-on sneakers, and my vintage fur coat. I wasn’t about to let this amazing outfit go to waste!

We arrived at The American Stock Exchange Building here in NYC which is “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” until January 7th, 2018. From the moment you enter, you can sense you won’t be disappointed. The tour opens with the most symbolic object of the House: the trunk and retraces the adventures of the House of Louis Vuitton and its founders from 1854 to the present. It even features select articles on loan from the Palais Galliera and the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris along with objects and documents from the Louis Vuitton heritage. This historic journey was designed by Robert Carsen and curated by Olivier Saillard and is worth the wait!

Tickets can be reserved here. Guided tours are sold out for the duration of the exhibition.

**This post contains affilitate links**

Besitos,

Melizza

manicure, nails

Only the heavens know what gave me the brilliant idea to apply my Jamberry nails for the very first time this late at night. I sat at my desk chanting to myself “I think I can. I think I can” like the Little Blue Engine. Two episodes later of Southern Charm and my determination and energy were practically nonexistent. I wanted to call my consultant like she advised, but I knew she’d be asleep and wouldn’t be thrilled to walk me through a simple process at 1:30 in the morning. I thought to myself, “This isn’t Rocket Science Melizza…What were those tips again for ridding my nails of these air bubbles?”

The clock read 2:35 a.m. and I was beyond exhausted. I rolled over and told myself I’d contact my consultant in the morning before rushing out to catch my flight. And  my body groans as I climbed into bed with a pounding headache knowing I have less than 3 hours before I would l be tempted to smash my alarm against my bedroom wall.

With a quick morning text over to my Jamberry consultant, she recommended using a heated spoon or knife to press out the air bubble and once again reminding me to work from the cuticle to tip. And again I thought “This isn’t Rocket Science Melizza!” The need for my nails to look professionally done was increasing rapidly and these air bubbles were messing up my vision. But, I had less than 20 minutes to do my makeup, hair, and get some caffeine in my system before dashing out to the airport. This technique would have to wait until I landed in Miami. From afar my nails look great but as I type these words at the airport, I’m literally cringing at these air bubbles and almost desperate to use the hand dryer in the restroom and a plastic knife to press them out. But, could this really be done with looking me suspicious? I wasn’t willing to risk be detained for the annoying air bubbles in my nails. It would just have to wait until I arrive at my hotel.

manicure, nails

I was excited to know Jamberry offers over 350 designs. My consultant chose this beautiful matte lilac color with rose gold tip near the cuticle, which was definitely my style. This design was supposed to last about 2 weeks, but the only thing I would think about while pressing and heating my nails was “Is this worth it?” I mean my salon manicure only last 2.5 days before chipping. And on the 4th day I couldn’t take it anymore and grabbed my acetone to remove the polish.

By the time I checked into the hotel it was late in the evening, all I wanted to do was to shower and rest. But, I was constantly reminded of the air bubbles on my nails. I practically torched my nail beds to smooth out these air bubbles and did a decent job but it wasn’t as smooth as I wanted. My ultimate desire was for my nails to look like I had them professionally don’t without the salon price. Sure I was complimented many times about my nails, but I swore these air bubbles would be the death of me.

My Jamberry manicure did chip like a normal salon manicure and didn’t last the advertised two full weeks. Now it lasted longer than my regular manicure, but those air bubbles were a thorn in my side. I would like to think that I may give it another try with the tips from my consultant. But, I can honestly say I haven’t been turned into a believer and that probability is extremely low.

manicure, nails

I could blame my dissatisfaction on multiple things. Maybe it was me and not the product, maybe if I had a hotter blow dryer, or maybe if I didn’t do it at 2 am I wouldn’t have had the air bubbles. But either way, I realize I don’t have the time, patience, nor the desire to trim design to my nails or to torch my nail beds to get that smooth perfected look that I desire. It involved more work than I wanted to do. This should have been tried on a lazy Sunday when I had the time.

If you guys have used Jamberry let me know your experiences with the product. Do you have any tips for women thinking of purchasing Jamberry instead of going to the salon or purchasing press on nails?

Besitos,

Melizz

Fashion to Figure Dress, Sincerely Tommy Necklace, Nude sandals

 I wrote the following over two years ago and I have only shared it with my mom and sister. But as I sit here in my Miami hotel room, I decided to share it with you.

 

~ October 15, 2015 ~
My trance abruptly ended as the aircraft’s obnoxious seatbelt signal dinged and its captain notified the flight crew and passengers to prepare for landing. One could have easily attributed the decrease in pressure I felt to the flight descent into my hometown’s airport. But, I knew better.

Less than three hours earlier, I felt as if I was suffocating under the weight of my proverbial baggage prior to boarding. I mindlessly stared at the one-way boarding pass my fingers loosely gripped wondering if I’d ever purchase a returning ticket. Only a handful of loved ones knew the truth behind my hasty return home. To everyone else, my social media beautifully masked the pretense that I was extremely happy and living ‘the’ dream in the big city. It never once revealed what I was struggling with while pursuing my dreams.

selfie

Whether it was because of pride or the fear of being vulnerable and judged, I chose to hide the depths of my struggle. Yes, I was proud that I had won a national contest, met a celebrity fashion stylist, attended wonderful events, and worked during the coveted fashion week. But, truth be told, I felt lost in the Bermuda Triangle of trying to find myself in a city of millions and making a name for myself within the fashion industry. I felt alone. I felt unsure of myself and I began to question my decisions, my identity, and my self-worth, which isn’t normal for me. And not to mention that I felt drained mentally, financially, physically, and emotionally.

Fashion to Figure Dress, Sincerely Tommy Necklace, Nude sandals

I yearn for the moment life’s pressures and turbulence would cease and my ride would be nothing but smooth and clear skies. But, deep down I knew it was not meant to be so. Moments of turbulence will occur and moments of intense pressure may cause you to feel as if you’re in desperate need of an oxygen mask. Don’t lose hope or become discouraged! You’ll survive the bumps and will regain your ability to breathe. In these moments you learn more about yourself: your needs, your wants, your truths, and most importantly your strength. Persevere and focus on your final destination! You can do it!

It’s been two weeks since I left the city. I spent my time home being surrounded by the people, places, and things I love. Through being vulnerable with my communications and my interactions I continue to learn more about myself. I was inspired by many. I learned things I didn’t know and related to their journey pursuing their dreams and some of their personal struggles, which made me realize I wasn’t alone.

Fashion to Figure Dress, Sincerely Tommy Necklace, Nude sandals
Dress: Fashion to Figure, Necklace: Sincerely Tommy

As I stare out of my aircraft’s window, I can’t help but replay all the moments that have lead to this moment of returning. In this moment, I have come to appreciate life’s pressures and turbulence. It has made me stronger, more confident, and even more resilient and independent. I am encouraged, inspired, and know I can accomplish my dreams of becoming a well respected and renowned fashion stylist not only in New York City but internationally. Take flight, soar high, and enjoy life’s ride.

xoxo

Fashion to Figure Dress, Sincerely Tommy Necklace, Nude sandals
Photographer: Rose in Arrow

 I’ve had many conversations with different friends who are following their dreams and we’ve all concluded that we don’t feel like we share the turbulence we experience. I believe we should share some challenges because even the greats faced challenges. Failures aren’t really failures. They are lessons and evidence that you’ve tried. So keep trying and pushing. And don’t worry if everything isn’t social media perfect either.

Besitos,

Melizza

ASOS Dress, WhoWhatWear Dress, Plus Size Fashion

If my life were a sitcom, the past two weeks would have had my viewers on an emotional climatic edge! With my rocky path of personal growth and development center stage for everyone to see. My closest friends can attest to some of the most bizarre yet comical conversations and interactions I’ve had with the opposite sex (old and new), my professional & personal dilemmas, and even the reappearance of characters viewers thought were killed or written off from the very first season!

ASOS Dress, WhoWhatWear Dress, Plus Size Fashion

There were moments where I’d sit to catch my breath and something else would happen unexpectedly like a football hitting me in the face out of nowhere. We’ve all seen that scene and have winced from the second-hand pain and the second-hand embarrassment that follows. I seriously thought to myself almost every day, “where’s the freaking film crew?”

But one night, while restlessly tossing and turning, I wondered “what am I putting out that’s inviting this chaos in?” And the simple answer was: allowance. I was allowing certain things that I shouldn’t have entertain to enter my life as if my life were a hit sitcom like ‘Insecure’. But it’s not! And I was emotionally drained.

ASOS Dress, WhoWhatWear Dress, Plus Size Fashion
Dress: ASOS, Heels: Who What Wear, Necklace: H&M
I knew I had to immediately let go of a few luxuries and a few love interests. And as a single boujee woman in the city, that was hard! But, like an executive producer and screenwriter, I decided to write out quite a few characters that weren’t beneficial to the plot and will not be making any future cameo appearances. And to symbolically match clipping loose ends, I went and got my hair clipped. I’ve also been purging my wardrobe of pieces that no longer match my journey.
 
My mantra became “let the past be the past” and it really helped me to live and enjoy the present. I can sincerely say that I’m becoming more grateful for the life I live instead of feeling entitled to a life I desire. These are stepping stones for my personal growth and I know much more will be added and much more are needed. But, I was reminded that stepping stones are best put under your feet and not above your shoulders.
 
ASOS Dress, WhoWhatWear Heels, Plus Size Fashion
Photographer: Henrietta M.
 
“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C.S. Lewis
 

Besitos,

Melizza

Wilsons Leather Roma Handbag Backpack, Fashion To Figure Metallic Skirt, Just Fab Booties

So I’m almost like a child when it comes to holding my handbag. You know, that one that begggssss you to bring an item on an outing and you dread saying yes because you know you are going to end up carrying that said item. Well, that’s me with my purse!

The first thing to consider when selecting a handbag is what will you put in it and how will you use it? Then consider what outfits you can wear it with. In theory owning a large purse that can carry all of your essentials sounds fantastic. But by midday holding what feels like a ton of bricks is pure torture. And like Erykah Badu sang, “you gone hurt your back.”

Wilsons Leather Roma Handbag Backpack, Fashion To Figure Metallic Skirt, Just Fab Booties

I once had the nickname of Mary Poppins…any and almost everything could be found in my purse. But unlike Mary Poppins, my purses don’t look like upholstered furniture. That’s why when Wilsons Leather asked me to choose an essential Fall handbag I went with their Genuine Leather Roma Square Backpack. It was a no-brainer! The leather is ultra soft and smooth to the touch. Almost like butter but still has great structure…it’s seriously amazing. I knew I would look chic and technically I wouldn’t have to carry my handbag. Win. Win.

Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Fashion To Figure
Since having the Roma backpack, I’ve used it as an everyday bag. No. Seriously, I’ve used it EVERY day! I’ve used it for: walking around the city, meetings for work, I’ve even taken it with me on a date, and to go dancing with my girls! It is the most versatile handbag I own! Hands down! 
 
I’m all about K.I.S.S (Keep It Sweet & Simple). So when purchasing a new handbag consider these three simple things:
  1. Style and Purpose
  2. Material
  3. Quality

Ladies, you deserve that new handbag. So go purchase one right now!

Wilsons Leather Roma Handbag Backpack, TrueGault shoes, Chico's Pants,
Photographer: Ebony Bolt

Sweatshirt: Joe Boxer, Cuff: Fresh Threads Boutique, Metallic Skirt: Fashion To Figure, Shades: Charming Charlie,Leather Backpack: Wilson’s Leather, Booties: Just Fab Abriana Bootie,

Besitos,

Melizza

**I received these products courtesy of Wilsons Leather, however, all opinions are entirely my own.**

Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Levi's,
Seemed like New York finally got the memo that it was Fall. Temperatures dropped overnight and I was more than happy to unpack my sweaters and boots.
 
Like many women, I share one of the top fashion concerns during this season. Which is looking larger in our coats and in our layers. There is an art and science to layering. It is more than smothering yourself in multiple sweaters. There should be a balance between aesthetics and functionality. So I’ve teamed up with Wilsons Leather to show how you stay stylish without sacrificing warmth.
Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Levi's,

My solution for not smothering myself in layers is by simply purchasing a warm coat. Now, this may seem like a “DUHHH” moment, but many women purchase coats based on appearance alone and not functionality. They figure they can just add layers to stay warm. And I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling like a stuffed turkey unless it’s after a Thanksgiving dinner.

The fabric content of your coat is the most important detail when shopping for warmth. If you are coat shopping and need help with the best coat materials to keep you warm start at looking for the following five below:

  1. Cashmere
  2. Gabardine
  3. Leather
  4. Nylon
  5. Wool
Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Levi's,

Please don’t let the company’s name fool you. Wilsons Leather has many styles, fabrics, and sizes to choose from. Leather is not the only option. I chose this chic latte faux-shearling coat because I wanted my coat to make a sophisticated fashion statement while keeping me warm.The faux-shearling is ultra lush. It looks and feels like real shearling. To make matters better, or possibly worst, it’s so comfortable and cozy I legitimately can fall asleep in it.

Ladies here’s a shopping side note for this coat: you may want to size down. Always check the sizing chart. I’m in between a size16/18 and I chose a 2X, but I should have chosen an XL. Thankfully there’s a matching belt in addition to the buckle closures so I can still define my waist.

Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Levi's,
Coat: Wilson’s Leather , Bodysuit: Ashley Stewart, Denim: Levi’s
Booties: Just Fab Abriana Bootie,  Leather Backpack: Wilson’s Leather ,Watch: Gift, Belt: Steve Madden
 
Wilson's Leather, Calvin Klein, Levi's,
Photographer: Ebony Bolts

With so many stylish options for Fall and Winter pieces at Wilsons Leather, there’s practically no excuse to leave the house by freezing or looking frumpy this season.

Besitos,

 

Melizza

**I received these products courtesy of Wilsons Leather, however, all opinions are entirely my own.**

Red Banana Republic Dress for the 1st date
I usually get asked what it is like dating in the Big Apple and a robust laughter usually escapes my lips following the question. I don’t have any horrific dating stories to share so far. I hope I’m one of the lucky few to never have stories that make me want to become a cat lady. So far dating in the city has been an enlightening experience. I’m narrowing down my wants and needs. Learning what I can and will not tolerate in relationships.
Red Banana Republic Dress for the 1st date back view

I’ve embraced the single lifestyle and I actually enjoy it. Yes, I would love to have a significant other, but I refuse to settle for just anyone. I haven’t met anyone that makes me want to leave the single lifestyle behind and I must admit living in the city does not help much. New York is a city of convenience, excessiveness, and accessibility with most of its residents focus on their careers. I’ve learned to date without placing pressure on myself or other and to go with the flow…haha but don’t worry because I control the valves.

So whether it’s the first date or fifth, here are 5 style tips I live by while getting ready for a date.
  1.  Make sure it’s comfortable and it fits properly. I’m not just talking about your shoes But while we are on that topic, wear shoes you can walk in. You may not take a cab in between venues. As for your clothes, you don’t want to be readjusting yourself the entire night. It will make you look uncomfortable and nervous.
  2.  Confidence is key. It is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have.
  3. Natural and minimal is the best for the first date. Show him your glamorous side later on.
  4.  Wear a color or outfit you feel the most confident in. Everyone knows confidence is attractive! So wear the color you feel great in. I feel the sexiest in coral and wine to name a few.  
  5.  Your look should reflect your environment. If you guys are going to a sporting event heels and a body-con dress will stand out like a sore thumb.You want to blend into the scenery, but standout to your date.

 

Dress: Banana Republic, Earrings: Target, Purse: Thrifted, Heels: K-Mart

Dates can be nerve wracking, but one should just go in with an open mind, manners, and kindness. You can only control what your actions and attitude, if your date is rude or makes you feel uncomfortable you have every right to leave.Don’t force yourself to be anywhere  or with anyone you do not want to be with.

Just remember that being polite and confidence can move mountains! Happy dating!

 

Besitos,

Melizza

preppy, preppy style, southern prep

The moment I saw this flamingo dress I was immediately attracted to how quirky and cute it was. I debated for a while whether to purchase it or not. I was on vacation in Florida so of course, it matched my location at that time, but I would be returning to New York in a few of days. Fall was arriving soon and it didn’t fall into a Fall color scheme nor did it match my metropolitan environment.

As I sat in the dressing room for more than 20 minutes I thought about how I was completely in love the silhouette, neckline, and its print. But, it screamed “southern prep”. I paused for a moment and wondered if I felt as if the southern preppy style was exclusively for white women? This thought alone unexpectedly brought up some past emotional issues I had about being mixed.

preppy, preppy style, southern prep

My color or race was never an issue while growing up in St. Croix. The skin tones of my family members come in a wide range. It was normal to me and I never thought twice about it as a child. The women on both sides my family are classy, feminine, and beautiful. They wore stylish pieces and always looked ‘put together’. It wasn’t as if certain styles were reserved for my black relatives and certain styles were reserved for my Puerto Rican relatives. One could argue that maybe I was just too young and naive to notice, but based on the photo albums I’ve seen, I beg to differ. It wasn’t until after moving to America, that I realized racism wasn’t a just history lesson and where I would have experience my most memorable experiences with colorism. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in the Caribbean because it does. What I am saying is that I was introduced to heavily in the states.

I went to a fairly mixed high school in Florida, but at times I felt like I wasn’t “black enough”. I was constantly being called “high yella” and was constantly being told I spoke ‘like a white girl”. To top things off, I didn’t have an ‘urban’ style. I remember purchasing a Baby Phat top to just fit in and it felt completely wrong… completely unauthentic. At times, I felt as if I had to be a stereotypical version of a black woman to legitimize my ethnicity.

preppy, preppy style, southern prep, classy

The urban style was created out of the need of representation for African-Americans. In the 90’s it was reserved for R&B and hip-hop artists who embraced street wear brands. This dress is the furthest thing from urban clothes but I felt the most authentic in it… more than I did when I tried to rock that Baby Phat top. As I continued to sit in the dressing room reflecting on my experiences surrounding my racial identity in relations to my style, I wondered if I was alone in feeling like this and if I had a disconnect with my culture. Shopping behaviors come from internal motivations like emotions, experiences, and culture. But, do we ever stop to think about those motivations?

My experiences are just snowflakes at the tip of a gigantic iceberg concerning racial identity and style. We Americans rely on clothing as an economic and social indicator because we don’t have official marks of rank such as a caste system or aristocracy. We are constantly trying to label things and place them into boxes. And when something doesn’t fit into the (perceived) norm it feels like there’s a malfunction. Including when one of a certain ethnic group dresses outside that group’s perceived style.

Who would have thought a simple garment could have the power to bring up such a heavy topic?! Fashion is usually seen as superficial, but there is a rich history, psychological factors, and depth! That’s why I love it. If you are interested in learning more about the psychological factors clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner literally wrote the book on this phenomenon called, “You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You

Society’s influence on how we perceive ourselves including our style is extremely powerful. So ask yourself, will you take control of that power or will societal and cultural norms have complete power over you?

Have you ever experienced colorism? If so, let’s chat!

Besitos,

Melizza

 


preppy, preppy style, southern prep
Photographer: Elizabeth Buckshon (@roseinarrow)

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