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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Best Restaurants to Take Your Mom in New York City

Clean up your apartment then buy some eggs and milk to put in your fridge because your mom is coming to visit! Mom visits are the best no matter your age because they are always happy to see (and nag) you after greeting you with a warm smile and a hug. Hopefully she likes the big city and wants to sightsee and take in the buzz of the crowded streets. After all that meandering, you both are bound to get hungry, but where to go? You want the restaurant to be nice and upbeat but not overly trendy with fashionistas taking IG stories everywhere. So where to? I'm here to share the answers. 

Here is my list of the best restaurants to take your mom when she comes to New York.

Maison Pickle
Mole (upper east side) 
The Writing Room 
BG restaurant in Bergdorf Goodman

Beauty & Essex 
Gelso & Grand
Mercer Kitchen 
Lure Fishbar 

Smith & Wollensky 
American Cut
Quality Eats
Kashkaval Garden

Top of The Standard 
La Sirena 


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How to Plan the Perfect Vacation From a Guy's Perspective

Guest-blogging for The Chic Paige… for Taylor Paige… for someone whose real name in itself already is somewhat of a nom de plume, no? When I was first asked to contribute a piece to a blog of “,” I felt intimidated in the best of ways – or excited one might say. I do love to travel; I do try to be stylish; and just in case I didn’t already believe it myself, I do know now that at least my S.O. thinks that I’m chic, too. In short, I’m flattered. 

Yes, our first trip together (to Cuba of all places) went very smoothly. And that is owed to, first and foremost, Taylor Paige who is herself an “evolved human being” (if I may return the kind compliment from her previous blog entry, mine is version 2.0). Truthfully, as my S.O. so convincingly and compellingly argues in version 1, it really comes down to the basics of respectful human interaction. The fundamentals of any relationship, romantic and otherwise. And so voilà: Here are 4 tips to ensure the success of a trip with your S.O. – from a guy’s perspective.

1. Don’t simply propose to go on a trip together unless you really mean it
This may sound rather trite and intuitive. Yet I challenge you to raise your hand because you’re the one who has never suggested going on a trip with someone (e.g., your S.O.) because it conveniently fit into the conversation or made for a nice suggestion in front of your group of friends. Ironically in my case, it happened just like that: I voiced the thought because it fit nicely into the conversation we were having in the presence of my S.O.’s entourage (at a rooftop cookout, mind you). The difference is, I really wanted to do a trip together. So, take note: You will not want to scramble to come up with a reason for why you suggested a romantic getaway if you weren’t planning on following through. Period.

2. Be involved in the planning from the get-go. And show it.
As is known, some people love to plan trips while others loathe it. That is okay. Yet especially if it was youwho conceived of the idea of traveling together, my advice is to show how engaged you are in preparing for your trip. I learnt this the hard way. For while I am not a last-minute planner (at least I don’t think I am), I do take my time to delve into articles, peruse travel books and consult friends who are either from or have been to wherever it is I am going. (If anything is intuitive, learning about your destination is a non-negotiable must. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of going there? You can ask 
Taylor Paige who will effortlessly convince you of the value of learning at least the basic communication formulas and local lingo of your destination.) But I digress… I noted that I like to take my time in planning for the trip, which is okay. However, especially if you go to a place like Cuba, where you will not have the luxury of browsing and booking an AirBnB excursion led by a local the day before (much less the morning of), you need some advance planning; advance planning that you communicate regularly. My S.O. expressed her excitement about the upcoming trip on a daily basis in the form of text messages with lovely suggestions for on-site activities, excursions and accommodations. I expressed (also on a daily basis) my appreciation for her thorough search and ideas – claro. But I should have also made known the outcome of my own research on at least an equally regular basis. Why? Because while I had certainly done my own due diligence, I came to suspect and eventually realize (thanks to her very subtle and sweet hints) that my S.O. felt she was shouldering the bulk of our trip’s preparations. That is an impression you do not want to convey and/or want your S.O. to have. If you do your own research (and I hope you do) and have your own suggestions for your vacation together, make them known. It signals commitment and conveys dedication, which nurtures excitement and gives your S.O. continuous reason to – quote – *pause for deep breaths followed by warm fuzzy feelings of joy and bliss*.

3. After the trip, make your photos and videos available within, say, one week (max.). 
This trip was another opportunity for me to (finally) take this seriously. I sadden a bit when I think of the dozens of photos I have of family, friends (and my S.O.) that I have never shared with them (and with her)… for no significant reason other than – and I am embarrassed to say this – comfort and convenience. For you can look at and watch those photos and videos together anytime, right? Yes, BUT… Connect via AirDrop, send an email, hand them over on a USB, … Just make them all available no longer than one week after your return. Because if you do – who knows? – they might find themselves on your S.O.’s style blog. 

4. When you have the opportunity to write a contributing piece for your S.O.’s blog about the trip you took together, do it sooner rather than later.
In spite of the prominent announcement for a guy’s/my modest P.O.V. at the end of the original HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT VACATION WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND, I doubt that many were anxiously awaiting my contribution. But that doesn’t matter. Because regardless of how many may look forward to the sequel of a blog entry, you can safely assume that your S.O. is looking forward to (reading) it more than anyone else. I am no fan of making assumptions, but you can safely make one here. Don’t rest on your laurels from having been asked to contribute to your S.O.’s blog. Get it done ASAP (unlike me) and have fun doing it (like me). 

(Taylor Paige’s S.O.)


Sunday, November 24, 2019

3 Ways to Stay on Trend While Staying True to Your Personal Style

We've all been there...

Endlessly scrolling through pages and pages of clothing from *insert your favorite online store here* while tapping "add to cart" every five seconds. It's so easy to get sucked into an endless vortex of the newest and the latest trends, it can be hard to continue to incorporate your own personal style into your day-to-day looks. I've been reflecting and noticed this has been happening to me! No bueno. So to put a stop to that, I reached in my closet and put together one of my favorite looks from this year. Not worried about being trendy or wearing what everyone else is wearing, just feeling good in my own chic ensemble. 

Here are 3 easy ways to stay on trend while staying true to your personal style.

Pick trends that complement your vibe and your body type 
One trend I am in love with is layering shirts or blouses under strapless or spaghetti strap dresses. I had never tried until this season and I'm so glad I did. A classic cut blouse with a structured mini dress is a recipe for stylish success and complemented my shape perfectly. What clothing pieces make you look and feel amazing? wear that + a trendy item = fabulosity

Don't just wear it because it's in your face
Try not to let instagram and online shops completely sway you and zap the life out of your paycheck with new purchases every week. Give your wallet (and the environment!) a break and really ask yourself, do you want this because it will be a statement of your own style or just because you keep seeing it everywhere? If it whispers sweet nothings into your ear and you have to have it - get it - but if it doesn't give you life, keep it moving and stack your saved coins.

Fashion goes in and out of style 
From the newest "it" bag to the trendiest'll probably go out of style in a snap.
Chances are, you may have similar items in your closet already. Go to through your wardrobe and see if you can find anything that is similar to the current trend. style it, then strut out of the house. 

The big take-away? Fashion, but make it YOU. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

4 Sweet Ideas to Spoil Your Significant Other

So you're in a relationship that's got your heart fluttering and your eyes seeing millennial pink hearts everywhere you gaze. You love when they text you to just say they're thinking of you or when they call at night to wish you sweet dreams. Or maybe you've been in a relationship for a loooong time and you need to remind your significant other that you acknowledge their existence and still actually care. 

To keep the good going, you want to do something nice for them...but what should you do? Performing sweet gestures for the apple of your eye will let your partner know that you care and that you want to make them happy. Here are 4 sweet ideas to spoil your significant other.

Surprise them with a cute picnic 
This works in the spring or summer and doesn't take a ton of time to prepare. Grab a picnic basket, fill it with meats, cheeses, fruits, crackers, wine (don't get caught drinking in the park) and cute candy. Food is the way to anyones heart - so add a surprise picnic to a sunny day and you'll be sure to make your boo smile. 

Get something for them based around their interests 
Ok - so this one takes some listening. What is your partner into? Get something for them based on that. For example, if your S.O. loves James Bond movies, get them something small and cute related to one of the movies. They will like this kind of gift because it takes thought and they will know you listen to them and what their interests are.  

Make them a well crafted Martini. Shaken, not Stirred... of course. 
Speaking of James Bond,,,why not shake up a cocktail for them? This can be fun especially afterwork and is cheaper than most cocktails at bars. Google your boo's favorite drink, make it for them, then toast to you both. 

Cook Dinner for Them
Cooking is just cute and you don't have to be amazing at it. Pick something easy like pasta or pizza google a recipe and make it happen.  Whenever someone cooks you something you smile and can't wait to dig in once they hand you your plate. Your partner will feel the same. Even if it's gross, hopefully you both can laugh about how bad it was then Seamless something better afterwards. 

Finally, it's completely worth pointing out that the key to all of these things is to do them for no reason. Not only for special occasions, birthdays or any other pre-specified reason.

Just because you care. 


Sunday, November 10, 2019

How To Survive Family Work Events When You're not Married and Don't Have Kids

So you get an email announcing that there will be a family day event at your job. *cue the eye roll* 

No matter how well executed these types of events may be, they can be awkward and difficult to navigate. Especially when you're not married and don't have kids often because these get-togethers are tailored around just that. Not showing up may make you feel unsupportive to your company and may potentially look bad but going will be kind of awkward to your entire soul. 

So what do you do? 

By the way, I want to enforce that don't think being single with no kids and marching to the beat of your own drum is a bad thing. But I also have no issues with the idea of being married with kids if that's something that creates happiness. Both lifestyles have their shiny qualities, however one isn't better than the other (in my mind). 

Often going by yourself to work events can cause unwanted probing questions like: "Are you dating anyone?" or "Do you have a boyfriend?". One year at a holiday party, I confidently and cutely answered "no" because I didn't care to go into my full dating life to work people. That type of response always fosters frowning I-feel-bad-for-you-faces and "aw, well you'll find someone" reassurances. The thing is, happiness can exist without a significant other. But for some reason society wants us to couple up because that's just what people do. *cue another eye roll* I guarantee all marriages, ain't happy ones! I am against doing something just because it's the norm and just because everyone else is doing it. It's almost 2020. Let's unpack and throw away these normalities that are old and outdated. 

Until those above said social norms are deep in the dump, here are 4 ways to survive a work event while rolling solo.

Show up and Look Good
When you look good, you feel good and this will show as you make your way into the room to say hello to your coupled-up co-workers. By looking your best, you will automatically feel more confident than if you just strolled in looking meh with messy hair and a poorly pulled together outfit. 

Plan to Hang out with a Co-worker You Like Before the Event
If you're having anxious feelings about the event, voice them to a trusted co-worker and ask to sit with them at the gathering before it happens. You don't have to be attached at the hip to them the whole time, but it will give you a good home base should you find yourself wandering aimlessly in the sea of parents running after their kids in the blow-up bouncy house and finger paint. 

Bring a Friend
If your workplace allows you to bring a friend, take advantage of that! Just make sure the friend is workplace friendly and won't get shitfaced because this is supposed to make your life easier - not harder. You don't want to worry about the behavior of the person tagging along. With that said, choose your buddy carefully so they can have your back throughout the event and relieve some of the pressure. 

Keep the Conversations, Polite, Short and Sweet
Small talk can be painful but sometimes it can be nice to chit-chat with people you normally don't see on a daily basis at your job. Strike up conversations about the food you just ate, if they have any vacations planned or maybe a show or movie you just watched. When the conversation naturally fades out, politely exit by going to refresh your drink or crossing the room to catch up with someone else. 

And there you have it...Tools to survive Family, well, and work event. 


Monday, October 28, 2019

4 Tips to Make Cheap Look Chic

ahh...Shein. my go to frugal fashion fave. 

I've done a post on Shein and how to make their clothing look more high end last year, but as the trends change, it's time to update those tips and share more ways to elevate a kinda cheap outfit into a polished, pulled together look. You don't have to spend tons of money to look chic and sophisticated. I am the high, low queen - I found a pair of gorgeous Louboutin black patent leather pumps at TJ Maxx in NYC! But that's another story. For now, 

Here are 4 tips how to go from cheap to chic

Add a statement belt
A belt will always add effortless style to your outfit and can be a fun way to show your personality. I opted to grab my stretchy, studded belt to sinch my waist and take this sweater set over the top.

Be picky when picking your patterns and colors
Black and some neutrals can be great go-tos when shopping at more inexpensive places. Bright colors and loud patterns tend to show the imperfections of the garment more so than darker colors. 

Sometimes go for the crazy pattern!
You never know until you try right? I picked up this very loud and curtain like dress and was pleasantly surprised. It's very "country girl meets the big city" right? I added a belt to give myself a waist, threw on some boots and a hat. giddy-up

Grab a wide brimmed hat
I'm not sure about why wide brimmed hats give me such a sense of value but I feel it every time I put one on. I think you'd feel the same. From the simplest outfit to the most detailed, it will most likely work every time. 


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Color Blocked, Cocktails & Tacos

If I only have a few more perfect weather days before the cold sting of winter floods NYC I will be happy. I can't tell you how much I loved wearing this outfit on a warm but not crazy hot day in NYC.

I was heading to brunch and wanted my feet to be happy and my vibe to be chic. Color blocking is rolling into fall trends so I mixed it in with a little summer fashion since the sun was still shining.

The yellow blazer against the burnt orange shorts came together without any fuss but I also want to point out the sleek black crop top I'm wearing. It is from Gergana Ivanova's clothing line! I've followed her for sometime on IG and am so happy to support her collection!


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Earning My Stripes

I've been living in New York City for about six years now, which is completely mind blowing! 
Time continues to fly by with a blink of an eye. 

I can't help but to reflect on how far I've come...from living with roommates in Astoria, Queens to moving on up to the Upper East Side all by myself. An accomplishment I have earned and am super proud of! NYC is definitely not for the faint of heart and you have to have ambition and push to survive. I feel like I've earned my stripes by making it work here for this long. 

So I wear them. 

As a nod to myself, I threw on my oversized zebra blazer from HM, some reebok classics, ripped boyfriend denim and made my way to the West Village to celebrate life in the Big Apple. 


Friday, August 23, 2019

How To Deal When Your Dream Job Just Doesn't Work Out

Have you ever had a moment when you reflect on what you do for work then wonder “How the hell did I end up here?”Not doing what you thought you would be doing in life can be difficult to cope with. Especiallyif there is a time constraint on your “dream” career. I’ve been there and most people I know have been there, too. So how do you deal with the feelings that come along with your career not working out like how you thought it would? The ups and downs (mostly downs) of my dance-life and my now Executive Assistant-life have taught me lessons about what I thought I could do vs what I’m actually capable of. 

Grab some tea; here is my story and how to deal when your dream job just doesn’t work out. 

When I was just a kid, I remember going to my mom’s job and seeing her very grey and corporate work environment. The cubicles, the magnetic key fobs and the breakroom with a refrigerator full of Tupperware and condiments with people’s names written on them are all etched in my mind. She is extremely successful and was one of the higher ups in the company. An Original Boss, before it was trendy. But that never appealed to me and I said I would never end up at a corporate job. My sites were set on becoming a professional dancer and living a life in the arts. 

Fast forward to senior year of college (I went to arts school in Philadelphia and absolutely loved it) and I am traveling to New York City on a weekly basis for auditions and callbacks to try to land a dance job. On Broadway, Cruise ships, Cirque Du Soleil, company work, commercial work. ANY. DANCE. JOB. I was in full pursuit and planned my auditions weekly. Every few days, I would wake up at 5am to catch a 6am MegaBus to NYC to commute to a few auditions that day, then commute back to NYC around 6pm. I had tunnel vision and was doing what I felt all the right things were to land a job. Graduation day rolls around and one of my best friends wasn’t there because she had already received her job offer and was away to start rehearsing. Although I am happy for her success always, it was hard not sharing that particular moment together and because I couldn’t talk to her about my feelings of dance job-lessness as her career was just starting off.  

Fast, fast forward to me moving to NYC from Atlanta after a year of saving money and dancing (unpaid) with small local companies. I worked at Thumbs Up Diner in Eastpoint, Georgia waiting tables, as a receptionist at Atlanta Ballet, Cobb Center (hello free dance classes) and I ended up in Scary Movie 5 because they needed dance extras. All the dance scenes were cut but I’m in there standing around Ashley Tisdale and the barre - a ballet barre, not a boozey bar. I was officially living in New York City (well…Astoria, Queens with roommates) and my purpose was to find that BIG dance gig. 

The wide eyed excitement quickly faded since I was on my own and trying to navigate adulting in the Big (and mean) Apple. Audition after audition, no luck. An annoying roommate scuffle later and I decided to move to another, more expensive, apartment, still with roommates of course, in Astoria. I had to work a few jobs to pay my rent and try to stay in shape. A brief Pilates internship in Brooklyn (indentured servitude basically), worked at the front desk at Equinox, Soho (they paid $8 an hour), and had various server jobs. I found myself exhausted, broke, had less time than ever to audition and was no closer to any kind of a dance break almost 2 years after I graduated. 

What. Was. Life. 

I know dancers who had been in the same situation. Some waited 6-8 yearsfor their first big contract. Did I really want to wait that long for something that may or may not happen? Could I really sustain this life of a million dumpster jobs until the dance job I wanted surfaced? l was trying to stay with it and as optimistic as possible but all the rejection was emotionally exhausting. I felt like I wasn’t enough and second guessed myself in everything. I felt I was failing in what I sought out to do. Discouraged and disheartened. I played around with the idea of seeking one job that could sustain me. I had no intentions of completely leaving the dance world to find some other career but just wanted some stability. 

The straw that broke the already rickety camel’s back was when a co-worker at my restaurant job text me asking if I had heard if the restaurant closed down. I happened to be close by the café and walked past it to find the sign completely torn down and the windows had been covered with brown paper. The restaurant shut down and the management didn’t even have the courtesy to call and tell us. That lit a fire inside of me that something had to shift.

I had to get creative and make something out of nothing. I investigated receptionist jobs at companies in New York City since I had worked previously as a receptionist at Atlanta Ballet. The starting salaries were more money than I ever thought I would make dancing anywhere so why not? I scraped together my resume and pushed it out to whoever was hiring. I had no clue what I was doing but I submitted to anywhere that I could. Predominantly to stuff on Craigs list. 

Somehow, a few headhunters found my resume and called me in to meet with them and spruce up my skills. I was skeptical of these so-called headhunters because I had never heard of way to get a job like this and I didn't know if I was getting scammed or not. I decided to just go for it because the joke would be on them since I didn't have any money to steal anyway. However they turned out to be legitimate and they saw value in me which was a nice feeling after constant plateaus in the dance world. I interviewed for a few months then I hit gold and landed with my current company. Bye, Bye $8 an hour. I've been with my job for about five years now and although my journey within the company has been anything but smooth (my rocky entrance into corporate life is a whole other story) I'm currently quite content. 

Transition into a space I never thought I would be in taught me I am capable of thinking in ways I never thought I could. It has allowed me to reach other dreams, like moving into a cute apartment in Manhattan, (with no roommates!) and also traveling the world. I've seen Spain, Italy, the UK, Portugal, Cuba, and France. I finally was able to begin to make payments towards my student loan that was just painfully accruing interest because I had to defer it since I couldn't afford to pay it. And maybe most importantly, I've been able to help those who may need a little help financially.

I will always love dance and that won't change. It is inscribed in me forever so will always be part of my life. Not falling into my dream job made me discover more about myself that I even knew was in me.

Here are a few ways to deal with not landing your dream job:

Give yourself a Break
When things aren't going how you want them to it's so easy to beat up on yourself. When you do this, it can feel like everything you're doing is not enough and will make you second guess your decisions. Be kind to yourself. If you are putting in the time and effort to reach your goals, you're doing the right thing. Take a few moments to do something nice for yourself because you deserve it. 

In your current career or job decide: will you stay or will you go? 
If you're having regrets about shifting away from your dream job and feel you want to give it another shot, listen to that voice. Is it realistic to go after what you really want to do? If it is and you want to give it another go, do it. If it doesn't make sense and is unattainable, reevaluate your approach. Maybe what you love could be done as a hobby or on the side. I realize this could be difficult especially if you have anyone depending on you financially. Talk it over with yourself and also whoever may be impacted by your decisions. 

Realize that someone else's successes are not your failures
In other words, stop comparing yourself to other people. Just because one of your peers has reached a goal you haven't yet does not mean you failed. Sometimes I get into a spiral of insta-stalking (thanks social media) someone's life and wishing I had their success but then I have to get a grip. I realize everyone's path is different and what's for me is for me. Then I also remember social media is just a compilation of happy, successful, and very staged moments in someone's life. 

Accept whatever your current career or job is
This. right. here. I had to acknowledge that nothing fulfills me like how art and dance fulfills me. I'm just wired this way and I understand that. Most things, including my current job are not able to touch me in this way. Which is completely OKAY. I'm not saying to settle if you want to reach other goals, but accept what your current job is giving you. And accept what it will not give you. Whether that be fabulous financial stability or loads of personal fulfillment with not so much earning power. If it's not giving you either of those things, get up outta there. 

Talk it out
My entrance into the corporate world left me confused and bewildered (like I said, another story). I had to talk it out so my feelings weren't just bottled up in my head and making me crumble. I talked to family and finally a therapist. Mental health is important and discussing troublesome feelings is an excellent way to cope with what you may be going through.  

Make the most of out of your current situation
So you're not doing what you thought you would be doing. Most people aren't! Whether you decide to pack up and roll out or stay where you're at; continue to want to do well at whatever you're doing. Doors will open because people will see that you're trying and they will want to help you.


Monday, August 19, 2019

How to Plan the Perfect Vacation with Your Boyfriend

So it happened. 

Your significant other asks if you want to go away on vacation together. *pause for deep breaths followed by warm fuzzy feelings of joy and bliss* Amazing! After the sparkle in your eyes clears away and the initial flattery and excitement wears off, now what?! Do you say yes right away or do you take time to think about it? What will traveling together be like? Who pays for what? Do you have to spend every moment of the trip together? Will you clash when it comes to where to stay and what to do? What if the AirBnB is terrible! Will this trip bring out the worst in each other and ultimately end the relationship that's just beginning to take off? Ah! 

All of these thoughts flooded through my brain when my boyfriend asked me to go on vacation with him. Solo world traveling, I can do. No sweat and no problem. However traveling to the Caribbean, with a man, for a long weekend had me lost in the sauce. This was uncharted territory on my personal relationships map. I was so excited he asked but in true Taylor fashion, I took my time before agreeing to anything. 

Since this was baecation numero uno, I had no clue how to plan for it or what to expect. Before saying yes, I talked to a few of my friends about their experiences traveling with a significant other and what their "norm" was. Talking it out definitely helped me to navigate if I wanted to go or not but ultimately it was my own gut feelings mixed with a little research that convinced me to say yes. I came across "how to travel with your significant other" blog posts and YouTube videos...but not many how to actually plan the trip and the conversations to have before you go away together. In light of spreading a little more knowledge on the subject, here are my top 6 tips to plan a baecation.

1. Think before you say yes or no. Let your S.O. know you'd like to take some time to think about taking a trip together. A little extra time will help you clearly sort out if you feel going away with this person is a good idea or not especially if the relationship is new. If you have any second thoughts that you would feel uncomfortable with this person for a prolonged period of time or it just doesn't make sense financially, probably not the best idea to go.

2. Talk about how you will spend $$. Will one person pay for the other all the time or will you split the bill? Luckily, my boyfriend is an evolved human being and simply asked me about how I felt about spending money while we were away together. We took the 50/50 approach with everything: flights accommodations, stuff to do, visas and food. Although, I expressed I didn't want to count every penny we spend to tally up who paid for what. I felt that would detract from the flow of the trip. Chat with your boo to figure out what works best for you both before the trip.  

3. Decide where to stay together. Will you stay in an AirBnB or would you be more comfortable
in a hotel? Talk it over about what you are thinking in terms of accommodations. I don't stay anywhere scary or crusty and that was properly communicated! We sent a few pictures of AirBnBs back and forth and picked one we both liked. 

4. Express your concerns. If you are unclear or worried about something regarding the trip, tell him! Discussing will hopefully resolve any reservations you may be thinking. 

5. Be ready for all the togetherness. This was a big one for me. I currently live by myself and I've never lived with a man. I wasn't sure how I would do being in the same space as my boyfriend for a few consecutive days. I asked him about how traveling would be and he spelled it out. Commuting would all be together - just like how we sometimes commute to the beach in New York together. We didn't separate during the trip, but he let me know we didn't have to spend the entire time of the trip together and we could do activities independently. Definitely helpful if you need some time to yourselves. 

6. Relax and enjoy it! If you were asked to hop on plane somewhere to a beautiful destination, chances are that person is excited and willing to get to know you a little better. Take in the culture of wherever you both are traveling to and soak in all the good times. You will have lots to talk about and reminisce over once the trip wraps up and hopefully it will have been a positive experience. 

I think my first trip with a boyfriend went pretty smoothly, but let's ask him to see what he thinks. Be on the lookout for part two of this post from a guy's perspective on what makes a baecation successful!


Oh and in case you were wondering, we went to Havana, Cuba and it was vibrantly fabulous! If you're curious to know what traveling to Cuba is like, you can read more about it here or if you're more into visual vlogs click here


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

How to Wear Fruit and Why it's Good for You

Did you know smelling citrus fruits can boost your body's production of serotonin? AKA the happy hormone! They can also reduce stress hormones and promote calmness. 

Orange you glad you clicked on this post? Ok, Ok...sorry for the painfully corny opener but you've probably gathered that this quick post is about cute fruits. I'm not sure if wearing citrus has the same effect but I definitely felt feelings of calmness and bliss lounging on a rooftop in Meatpacking in my one shoulder, lemon and orange top. 


Sunday, July 14, 2019

What to Expect when traveling to Havana, Cuba

As soon as I stepped outside of the Jose Marti airport, I immediately (started to sweat) was taken with excitement after laying my eyes on Havana, Cuba. Only a hop, skip and a jump from Florida, my boyfriend and I had a colorful long weekend in the Caribbean. 

Charming Habana is so much more than the amazing content you can see on Instagram. You will see first-hand how a communist society functions and how it impacts the people who live in it. Despite crumbling buildings, lack of access to basic goods (on one of our tours, our guide told us she couldn’t find toothpaste), and very scarce rations provided from the government in “Bodegas”, Cubans are warm, welcoming and upbeat. While getting ready to go on our trip, I really didn’t have any concrete ideas about how Cuba would be before getting there. So here are a few things you can expect if you ever visit Havana, Cuba. 

Scenery of Havana & A Hidden Forest
In your hotel or AirBnB, you will probably hear Cuban music playing from the streets in the evenings. As you stroll through old Havana, you will meander past seafoam green, pastel pink, and baby blue buildings. Vintage candy colored cars come around the street corners honking their horns while trying to not run over the tuk tuk like taxi drivers in the narrow streets. To my surprise, there is a forest in the middle of Havana. We stopped there during our car ride and thank goodness we did. I was beyond happy because it was roasting hot outside under the Cuban sun. The forest has plenty of shade and a relaxing stream to give yourself a break from the heat. 

Getting there
Ok. It’s really not as impossible as you may think. Sifting through the muddy regulations was the most difficult part. There are now 11 ways you can travel to Cuba as an American. Peace out cruise ships because getting to Cuba this way is now a no-go. You can find out all “licenses” that will permit you to go hereThe license isn’t a physical document or piece of paper.Took me a minute to figure that one out. It’s just the category you select from when you book your flight and get to the airport to get your travel visa. We went under the “support for the Cuban people” license. This means we were not allowed to do anything to support the Cuban government. 

This license is kind of vague and there isn’t a rule book on what constitutes this type of support. To stay compliant, we made sure any tours we booked were OFAC compliant. All of our guides and tours were given by local Cuban born people. We also created a detailed itinerary for what we would be doing since lots of idle free time would be a no-no. 

It’s kind of hard to know what is government owned and what’s not when actually in Cuba.  A tip If you are looking for a vintage car ride is to look at the license plate to determine if privately owned or government owned. If you see the letter “B” on the plate, it’s a government car (don’t get in there). If you see “P” it’s a privately owned car (safe!). 

Public Bathrooms:
Toilet seats weren’t really a given in my experience in Havana. Maybe brace yourself for that. A bit of culture shock when there is no seat on a toilet (not that I would sit my bare ass on any public toilet seat. Squat life). Even more shock when you have to throw used toilet paper into a bin next to (but not in) the toilet. Whoa buddy. I came across this first, in the airport bathroom, and the next times were in restaurants. I also read toilet paper isn’t necessarily something that is always provided so I brought a roll but did not have to use it since toilet paper was provided in the places I visited.

We have bodegas in NYC but in no way do our corner stores function like the bodegas in Havana. The only similarity may be the bodega cats. The Cuban people go to these small shops knows as Bodegas, once per month to get their food rations from the government. The ration amounts are based on how many people are in a family’s household. Basic rations could include: 5 eggs per person, a little salt and cooking oil, a few pounds of rice per person, a few pounds of chicken per person, a few pounds of coffee and some sugar. Rations help families have food since wages are often only 25-30 pesos per month. This made me think of when I first came to NYC and made around $490 per two weeks. Even though this amount is poverty level by US standards, I would be extremely wealthy in comparison to what most Cuban people make. Eye opening.

The Food
I had heard from people who had been to Cuba before that the food was nothing to brag about. Most of the goods that come to Cuba are imported and as a result most foods aren't that fresh. I have to honestly say that the food wasn't too bad at all! Peep the delicious tacos I had!

Most people in Havana speak Spanish with some or very little English. Our AirBnB host spoke English as well as our local tour guides. Brush up on your high school Spanish vocab so you can have a basic conversation with your host or the locals around La Habana. Another option is to venture to Cuba with a Spanish speaking person to help you chit chat with anyone you encounter.

Grocery stores
This is not your Fairway or Whole Foods experience. Lightyears from it. The grocery stores do not have rows and rows of endless brand names goods with equally never-ending rows of generic products on the shelves. If you’re someone who likes to buy your food from the grocery store while on vacation, ask your local tour guide if any stores you may consider buying things from are government owned first. This way you can avoiding purchasing any goods from these types of government owned markets in order to stay compliant. Most government owned establishments will be very, very cheap. Like .5 cents in US currency for a pound of a particular vegetable cheap. The government can afford to sell produce at this cost while if locally owned, the goods will cost more. One of our tour guides mentioned the government provides land to farmers at no cost but requires a non-negotiable fee of 90% of their goods. The local farmers must give away most of their goods for no pay! The other 10% of goods the farmers harvest gets sold to private locally owned businesses at higher costs. So, the farmers have an opportunity to make some money this way. Local businesses sell fruits and veggies at a higher cost as a result, but spending your money here will support the locally owned Cuban businesses. 

There are two currencies in Cuba. The CUC (the money foreigners use and what we used) and the CUP (local money). You will have an opportunity to exchange your cash at the Jose Marti airport and you will want to bring plenty of cash with you. You can try to put your bank card into a Cuban ATM but it won't work and then you'll be sad in Havana with no cash. Be sure to bring as much cash as you need for the duration of your trip. Also, a pro tip is go to your bank and convert your USD into Euros. For example, I brought about $300 Euro and exchanged it to about 330 CUC. #winning

Stray animals:
I hadn’t read about how many dogs and cats there are running around in the streets of Cuba. Most were cute and none were aggressive. Even the dogs that looked like the zombies from the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. Just something to be mindful of if you plan on visiting. 

The People 
Most people we interacted with were kind and welcoming and we had no issues during our time in Cuba. There are people on the street who may try to sell you something or ask for money. Pretty typical of any big city. NYC life has me unphased by this but if you do not live in a city this may be something to adjust to. Just say “no, gracias” a few times and the person will get the hint. I will say, if someone hands you a flyer, take a look at it before you throw it away. Someone handed my boyfriend a flyer and it ended up being for a “dark and decadent underground club for artists”. We decided to go, and it was a dark and decadent night indeed. There we people dancing on top of the couch in the middle of the dancefloor while using the beam on the ceiling to sensually swing from the ceiling. Look for the coffee bean face.

Overall, I’m thrilled to have visited Cuba. It’s differences helped me to understand how a third world country exists in 2019. The visit also allowed me to take a step back and realize all that I have and come back down to earth when I start complaining about all that I do not have. For more visuals, check out my Cuba travel vlog on my channel! 

Is Cuba on your travel bucket list? 

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