It's Been a Long Time Coming... |- 06-28-2017 -|

HI GUYS!!!!!

It finally happened! The project I've been been working on for months. Spending countless moments preparing photos, finding great skin care routines, eating delicious foods at hole-in-the-walls and restaurants all around Florida and occasionally New York, going out and enjoying free/cheap adventures and one of my favorite parts.. store hauls during super sales and how to style the new pieces mixed with the old pieces.

This blog will not just be a "one subject" site, but more of a Lifestyle blog. Being a ~BROKE~ college student, I am the epitome of the The Struggle in all aspects of life. I know what it's like, especially living in a metropolitan area such as Orlando, to not always be able to afford the major theme parks but instead Google away "free things to do in the summer" because that's how my friends and I roll. I know what it's like to not afford the latest fashion trends because there is literally a $-5 balance in the bank (admit it, we've all been there!). Instead I'll be here to help you and your friends style old clothes into the likes of the seasons trends, and you happily knowing you didn't spend a fortune to look runway worthy!

This project has been near and dear to my heart for many years for many reasons which you all soon learn with this new adventure, I hope to touch many live in a positive aspect- to appreciate life whether in rags or riches, alone or gathered with friends and family, and to always A L W A Y S enjoy this wonderful life you are living! I truly hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do now and will in the future as it continues to grow. I hope you stick around, follow my adventures, stories, fashion, life, great foodie spots, but more importantly that you go on these adventures and make your own memories along the ways!

 

Best Wishes,

   Naya xoxo

Finding Peace Amongst the Chaos... |- 07-01-2017 -|

I was so scared to take this because I am TERRIFIED of birds but they were irresistibly cute! LOL

   Living in Orlando, you are bound to spend a lot of time in Downtown- whether it be for graduations, concerts, clubs, dinner parties, etc. All you see is the glass apartments and offices, the cars zooming by and the farmer’s markets, fairs and parades crowding the street every weekend.

   However, right in the middle of all the chaotic city life you will find the beautiful Lake Eola Park. The picturesque lake is surrounded by a 0.85-mile paved trek with stunning views wherever you stop to sit and relax. In the center of the lake you’ll see the wonderful fountain that is a monument for my city. For a closer look, you can rent out the swan paddle boats and go around the lake.

   One of my absolute favorite parts about Lake Eola is the wildlife- mainly all the swans and ducks roaming around you while you walk and especially when you’re having a picnic (You guys... if you’re scared of birds like I am… you would’ve died because I know I did!). During the spring/summer mating season in the evenings you can even catch the swans laying over their nests, with their heads snugged into their feathers, for the night. A happy little “awwwww” moment was walking around a small pond and being able to see a duck watching her little ducklings swim nearby.

   There are so many fun things to look at and enjoy around Lake Eola Park. When you go, take 25 cents to buy some feed for the birds that are located all around the park and pack a picnic basket with some delicious fruit... or rice and beans like my family does #HispanicsBeLike and relax on the lawn to enjoy the swans, the breeze, but especially to enjoy the simple fact that you are blessed enough to enjoy a wonderful day at the park.

   I hope you find peace and serenity amid the Orlando chaos like I always do; bask in the Florida sun and warmth before heading home to drink some warm coffee and binge-watch on Netflix!

P.S. Upcoming Lake Eola Park Events:

   - Tuesday July 4: 4-10 PM is Fireworks at the Fountain, where you can see the magic in the sky and in the water! Live music, entertainment, food, drinks, and all you can imagine right at Lake Eola Park

   - Friday July 28: 6-10 PM is Movieola- every last Friday of the month is a movie now on the East Lawn- Sing will be showing but get there early for the pre-movie karaoke!

            For more info go to http://www.cityoforlando.net/parks/lake-eola-park/

 

Best Wishes,

   Naya xoxo

A Foodie's Dream... | - 07-05-2017 -|

Jibarito Burger

   I absolutely love going to a restaurant and enjoying e v e r y single bite of the meal. It’s even better when you can share your experience with people you love and especially writing about it, remembering every single bite as if it was just now when you finished your meal.

   Being a proud Puerto Rican made me choose this gem of a restaurant first. If many of you are fans of Diners, Drive-ins, & Dines hosted by Guy Fieri, you might have seen that a few months ago, there was an episode of two restaurants featured here in Orlando. Of course, I went to both… possibly on the same day... don’t judge. Right here in O-Town is the lovely Willie’s Pinchos Sandwich Shop. Catering in what I believe to be the most delicious, finger-licking, no-talking-while-eating sandwiches, Pinchos (Spanish version kabobs), frituras (quick fried meals), and other perfection. Best part is that the most expensive thing is just under ten dollars!!!!

   Two of the sandwiches are called “Jibaritos”- a regular lettuce, tomato, cheese, potato stixs, but the twist is the platanos (fried plantains) instead of bread. I on the other hand, did not photograph my food because well… I was hungry and I couldn’t wait. I had a simple steak sandwich with everything, which I HIGHLY recommend! On the side of all meals you get French fries with “Mayu-Ketchu” (Mayo + Ketchup mix) sauce- a staple for Puerto Ricans. For drinks, you can have all of the regular sodas or you can dabble in the Latin sodas such as Coco Rico which is a coconut flavored soda, Malta India (carbonated malt beverage), or Kola Champagne, which is something of a bubblegum/cream soda flavor in my opinion. If you’re going to eat Hispanic food I suggest you go all the way up to the drinks- I promise you won’t regret a thing!

   Willies’ is a small restaurant but that’s what makes it perfect. It’s not something grand, something fancy, it’s a place where you go at the beginning, middle, and/or at the end of the day to relax and enjoy a trip to Puerto Rico with your taste buds. It is important to support small businesses and local restaurants so before you get a regular burger at the Drive-Thru put 1718 North Goldenrod Rd., Orlando, FL 32807 into your GPS and enjoy, trust me! Don’t forget to go and like them on Facebook at Willie’s Pinchos Restaurant.

 

Best Wishes,

   Naya xoxo

Sit Back & Take a Breath... |- 07-12-2017 -|

   One of my favorite hideaway places in all Central Florida is the quaint little town of Mount Dora. It’s about a 20-45-minute drive from Orlando but it is oh so worth it. I’m sure many of you have seen those Christmas Hallmark movies where everybody knows each other, the small local owned business shops with adorable gifts and decorations, the restaurants are full of laughter and joy, the visitors feeling welcomed, and the town just picture-perfect. That is exactly what Mount Dora is!

   Once you’re done walking around the main square, right off the town is Lake Dora. This is honestly one of my favorite places to just sit, relax, look at the view, and just reflect. It is far enough that you cannot hear the cars and other “city” noises, so all you have is yourself and the sounds of nature. Sitting in the gazebo (below), you can occasionally see large fish and alligators swimming around. Though I haven't been on it yet,  you can take boat rides on the Dora Canal you can see families of Otters gathered around, swimming around.

   It’s a great place to set up a picnic on the lawn under the large tree, you can either set up your own lunch at home or get take-out from one of the restaurants (in the coming week or so, I’ll tell you about my favorite spot!) and enjoy the breeze by yourself with a good book or with friends and family.

   One of my favorite times to go to this little gem is right before sunset. You can catch all the birds flying to their “homes” or sitting on the posts, resting for the night, the slow drone of the light aircrafts flying over the lake, the quiet sound of the water lapping from the fish jumping out of the water and swimming around. The sunset there is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen. The reflection of the sun on the water as it slowly lowers, making the water glow and shimmer. It truly is a captivating view- every single time I go to see it, it’s like I’ve never seen it before.

   The next time you’re looking for eye-catching views to take pictures of, enjoy nature, and a new adventure to go on, head over to Lake Dora and bask in the beauty. It’s a magical place to wind down, reflect on your life, and to sit back and take a deep breath.

 

Best wishes,

   Naya xoxo

My Everyday Skincare Routine… |- 07-16-2017 -|

The answer to my acne, red marks, good for sensitive, normal-to-oily skin all under $30!!

    Growing up and to this day whenever someone looks or (accidentally) touches my face, they always say the same thing, “Oh my gosh, your skin is so soft and smooth!”. A few months ago, I got a pretty bad allergic reaction to makeup that made little pimples pop up everywhere. They eventually all popped (if you’re squeamish and not a popaholic like me, I sincerely apologize) but furious red marks were left all over my cheeks. I had never suffered from any acne issues growing up. So, seeing this come all at once I was honestly having a meltdown. Testing products to clear my face over the months, I found the best suiting skincare routine that has really cleared all the marks I had and the tiny pimples that appear from time to time. Many who have seen my skin transformation are constantly asking what products I use to keep my skin as clear as possible now and I’ve finally gotten the time and the platform to put them all in one list and tell how I use so here we go!

   Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser: It’s such a nice, purifying, clean feel afterwards that clears your pores! I either use it in the morning or at night, every day. If your marks are red, I would not use it every day in my opinion because more dirt and grime would enter my pores and makes my face worse so I would suggest using it 2-3x’s a week until it clears a bit.

You can find this at your local Target ($4-5) and Walmart ($8-9).

   Stridex Cleansing Pads: I HIGHLY recommend these tiny pads! It works well for sensitive skin and non-irritating. It works by soothing on the skin because of the Aloe, cleans your skin- you see the day’s dirt which is kind of disgustingly fascinating- sorry once again LOL. They really clear away those tiny pesky pimples that randomly appear by the salicylic acid found in the wipes! I would recommend you use it every day- depending on what you do during the day and how dirty your face gets, 1-2x’s a day will be fine until further notice when you can start using it once!

You can also find this at your local Walmart ($3-4).

   Lush Cup O’ Coffee Face & Body Mask: I will say this is the most “expensive” product but it is oh so worth it! I bought this product 1½ years old and I’m only halfway through the tub, it really goes a long way. It’s a nice cleanser and exfoliates the skin with the ground coffee found inside it. Let me tell you right now, you will N O T look wearing this mask, you will frighten your loved ones when they look at you, you will frighten yourself when you look in the mirror, so no you will not take cute selfies because it looks like mud on your face but you do you, boo! The outcome is worth it though, my face has never been smoother and more glowy! Because this does work as an exfoliator I would use it only once every other week. Once your face clears up, using it once a week like I do is just fine!

You can find this at your local Lush Cosmetics store ($10-20)- price depending on size.

   Advanced Clinicals Jojoba Clear Skin Oil: The jackpot! The amazing jojoba oil!!! I cannot fully express my love for this oil but I will try! I found this at a TJMaxx when I was just strolling through and I’m so glad I bought it! It’s a great moisturizer to apply during the day or before makeup, it calms the blemish-look and reduces the redness of the acne marks that are left. In a matter of two weeks I noticed an incredible difference. What once was red polka dots all over my cheek became barely-there spots that blended with my freckles. The red marks are practically all gone but I still use it nightly. If you’re Hispanic, you know that when you’re having trouble sleeping you put a little Vicks Vaporub under your eyes and you’re out in seconds- this oil has the same effect with the soothing smell that lulls you right to sleep! Now if you have normal to oily skin like me, you might be thinking this oil will make matters worse but it balanced my oils and had no issues with it. I use this 2x’s a day with only three drops and that covers my face and neck area so it goes a long way.

You can find this at your local Walmart ($8-9) or drugstore ($8-12).

   I would like to finish off by saying that what works for me may not work for you, but if you’ve tried almost every product out and none have really helped, these products, which are mostly natural, may help and I’m just here to suggest great products for a great price! I hope these you just as much as they’ve helped me over the 6 months-1 year that I’ve been using these products!

 

Best wishes,

    Naya xoxo.

The Not So New York Style Pizza… |- 07-19-2017 -|

The stuck on garlic.. giving me Dairy Queen Blizzard vibes

   Being from New York pizza is a delicacy. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, hot or cold, in a restaurant or while walking on the street. The huge slice, the gooey cheese that might burn your tongue but you don’t care, the crust that’s just crunchy enough. I can appreciate the fancy $10-14 dollar slices but I can also appreciate the $1 slice and a can of soda. I like to consider myself a pizza aficionado, while I know New York Pizza is incomparable to other pizzas but I can list some AMAZING pizza shops here in Florida that are worth the trip but I’ve also had some that weren’t so great.

   In Altamonte Springs, there’s a little pizza shop called Broadway Ristorante & Pizzeria- before I say the bad I will say the good. It’s a small quaint restaurant so it’s never packed and you get communication with right away. The customer service was amazing, I would give it a 10/10. Immediately when walking in, the server will take you to your table and get your drinks. Our server for was extremely friendly, understanding, and helpful with everything we asked for. Unfortunately, the food was a different story. My first issue was the appetizer of calamari. Though I don’t eat seafood, everybody at the table said it was under-fried, gummy and just not the best overall. Another issue was grease factor- a greasy pizza is okay, I mean who really wants a dry pizza? However, there is such a thing as drops of grease to dip your crust in (good stuff, let me tell you) and then there is grease just going down like if it was a slide when you point it down. It was heartburn central and I am not exaggerating! The last issue was the condiments left on the table. There was cheese, oregano, pepper flakes and garlic. They were all fine except the garlic… as you can see from the picture, it was old. VERY OLD. Not one flake came down, I was disappointed to say the least. 

   Let me add this as a reminder: this is MY opinion on the restaurant and the food, you may like very greasy pizza, you may like slightly fried calamari, and you may hate garlic on your pizza so it doesn’t affect you that the shaker was old. If you go and you like hurray! Tell someone who will like it, because the service was amazing and it was a nice place, but if you’re like me, this may not be the best pizzeria for you. In the posts to come, I’ll talk about one or two of my favorite pizza shops here in Orlando so don’t miss out on the fun, yummy stuff coming up!

 

Best wishes,

            Naya xoxo

Food, Glorious Food... |- 07-22-2017 -|

heaven on a plate, let me tell you!!!

   Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, the food staples are: rice, beans, meat, and occasionally plantains on the side. However, on occasion there'd be the treat of fried snacks and "appetizers". In my chubby little soul, getting those snacks was better than the happy meal at McDonald's! I'm talking about corn meal rolls (sorullitos), smashed plantains with garlic-cilantro sauce (tostones con mojito), fried pork rinds (chicharrones) and so many more goodies! My favorites though, were alcapurrias (plantain rolls stuffed with ground beef) and bacalaitos (salted codfish pancakes). I'm constantly trying to find the perfect alcapurria and bacalaitos in town. I usually find an okay one but you guys... I finally found the PERFECT ONE!!!! 

    Located in Kissimmee under a tent right outside of their church, is a group of people serving fresh bacalaitos, alcapurrias, and pinchos (chicken skewers) made in the kitchen inside the church building and grill, each under $5 ($2.50 each to be exact). With your food you can either get a Coca Cola soda products, water, Malta India, classic hispanic sodas or a freshly made Piña Colada that is TO. DIE. FOR!!!

   They're only open on Saturday's from 10 AM to 2 PM so you may have to wake up a little early and drive for a bit but the trip is definitely worth it. I may or may not be salivating right now typing this wishing I had some right now.. UGH. This is just a tiny flavor of the island, i hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

   ADDRESS: IGLESIA DE DIOS PENTECOSTAL M. I. KISSIMMEE III 1630 suite A. Right next to the road you'll see the sign that says all the food! If you don't see a tent, drive around the building to get to the back where they'll be parked with their truck!

*THEY ONLY TAKE CASH!!!*

 

Best wishes,

   Naya xoxo

A Trip to Cuba In Less Than an Hour... |- 07-25-2017 -|

   You might already know that one of my favorite little towns in Central Florida is Mount Dora and for good reasons (see 07-12 entry). After spending a day looking through all the shops and enjoying the views, you may get a whiff from the restaurants as you pass by but with all the choices, you may get confused on which one to go to. Now, I haven’t gone to all the restaurants, but one of my all-time favorites is the Cuban restaurant in town, Las Palmas.

   The minute you walk past it, you can hear the wonderful music and you can practically taste the food with all the rich smells flowing out of the restaurant. You’re immediately transported to Cuba and its rich culture. Most of the time, when it’s not packed to the max, you’re brought warm Cuban bread with just the right amount of butter which is unlike any bread and butter- maybe it’s because I’m always starving when I eat there and everything tastes great but still, that bread alone is to die for. If anybody knows me, I’m that person to always get the same thing from the menu because I hate being disappointed; however, when it comes to Las Palmas, I’m constantly getting something different because everything is just sooooo good and I want to try everything.

   My favorites are the Roast Pork with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains *insert me drooling here*, mofongo relleno de masitas de puerco (seasoned mashed plantains stuffed with pork chunks) with mojo (garlic sauce), a garlic Cuban sandwich, or the bistec encebollado (thin sirloin steak with caramelized onions on top) with any side because honestly, they’re all to die for. The desserts are just as delicious, from the tres leche (sponge cake made with three different milks) to the flan frito (fried custard pudding). Every bite is filled with different spices and unique flavors that you loved growing up or will learn to love, the more you eat the plate. Not one meal has had a fault and I don’t play with food, if you may have noticed.

   Though food is important, the restaurant itself is just as important. I’ve gone enough times to know most of the waiters, and I can say that they’re all incredibly nice, funny, and care about their job environment. There’s a constant back and forth of cleaning the tables, serving their tables, seating new customers and coming back to check on you for anything. The service, the quality, the look, everything, is just great!

   It’s a great place to enjoy the food, the culture with the good Caribbean music flowing, the posters and decorations that all transport you to “The Pearl of the Antilles”. I hope you go and enjoy it just as much as I do and fall in love with it just like I did when I first went. Talking about this place makes me crave it so I may go back… soon, very soon LOL.

ADDRESS: 351 N Donnelly St., Mount Dora, Fl. 32757

 

Best wishes,

   Naya xoxo

Left picture: front of menu with website below- check it out beforehand.
Top right: mofongo con masitas de puerco
Bottom right: Roast pork dish (both mentioned above)

Making A Masterpiece… |- 07-29-2017 -|

   Spending quality time with friends and loved ones is a big thing for me- time is never guaranteed so when the opportunity knocks, you open that door and run out, don’t even lock the door *please note: do not follow that rule in the real world. LOCK YOUR DOOR *. Doing art projects are always a fun thing to do- the excitement of figuring out what to make, the quiet concentration, the laughter when your art becomes... “eccentric” to say the least, and the countless memories you make with the people around you.

   Located in Longwood, Florida is a fantastic woman by the name of Laura Miller, who teaches paint and ceramic from her home studio, by the name of “Coffee and Canvas”. Immediately when walking in, her artwork is hung all on the walls and sitting on easels waiting to be worked on and the small to large ceramics she has on the shelves or waiting to be painted by maybe you, as well as refreshments to have while you work.

   All I’ve done is take the ceramic session for a girl’s night out/birthday gift. We were each given our own clay and other utensils to use for our creations. Since we all chose different things, M. Laura gave us all one-on-one lessons on how to do mold the clay into our objects. Once you get the hang of it, you begin to truly have fun, laughing at each other when someone’s heavy hand makes a giant thumb-sized dent, or when your elephant ends up having a crooked leg compared to the rest (poor Mauricio).

   Once you’re finished making your piece, M. Laura will put it in the kiln to bake it, and in two weeks’ time you can return to it. Of course, painting it is just as fun! She lets your imagination run loose and lets all your creative juices flow, never once judging, just encouraging. If you’re a perfectionist, it may take a long while to get every detail. The colors appear light on the ceramic art but once it’s baked again, they will be much more pigmented, so don’t worry, and don’t go overboard because it will show!

   So, the next time you want to have a small intimate outing with a couple of friends or a big group, instead of going to the usual places, think outside the box and make an art piece that will not only be a cute decoration for your home but also remind you of the good quality time you spent with people you love.

   You can see all her party/group prices, where SHE can come to YOU, and so much more on her website:

http://www.coffeeandcanvas.org

 

Best Wishes,

   Naya xoxo

1: Cup & Saucer (can be used after final bake)
2: Business card
3: My little Mauricio!
4: sweet docile owl & angry bird owl

Real New York Flavor in Orlando… |- 08-02-17 -|

   If you’ve ever visited or lived in New York, you know food trucks are life. Bagel carts, halal trucks, hot dog carts. Here in Florida, the food truck craze is slowly coming upon us, and thank goodness because I don’t know about you, but sometimes their food is better than restaurants and sometimes, you just don’t want to go through the whole restaurant ordeal. While there are food truck events here in town all the time, not all of them are andI do have a favorite now. In right in Central Florida, The Pastrami Project Delicatessen is my new favorite spot and just the right flavor that takes you on a taste bud trip to a nice diner in New York.

   Located in Winter Park, is a food truck, but it’s no regular one that you’ve seen. The Pastrami Project truck was featured on ‘Diners, Drive-in, and Dines’ and as you all know, everything Guy Fieri tries is delicious and makes your mouth water… I can attest to this since TPP and Willie’s Pinchos were featured on the same episode (more details on episode below).

   The truck is open from 7 am until 2 pm and they serve breakfast, lunch and meals that are so hearty, you can eat them for an early dinner. Ranging from a huge everything bagel with Egg and cheese that just oozes yolk all over that makes the most delicious mess you’ve ever eaten ($5) to a Big Tony (double decker Reuben sandwich - $20) with a side of coleslaw and half of a pickle, like any good ole New York diner meal on every meal choice, you will never be out of choices. To finish off your meal, you can order up a slice of New York Style Cheesecake… UGH *heart eyes*. All you need on the side is a nice cup of gourmet coffee to sip while enjoying your meal which you can find right next to TPP’s truck at Gratitude Coffee!

   You can either take it home, sit in your car, or eat in the patio sets and table they have there to enjoy he music, conversations with the truck owners, and the other customers which I always like to do. It’s a wonderful experience that you should all try and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

ADDRESS: 175 E Par St, Orlando, FL 32804

   Don’t forget to comment, email, social media me, anything if you’ve gone to any of the places and enjoyed them!

   >>> P.S. Check out TPP’s website at www. pastramiproject.com & August 26 they’ll rerun the episode of his on Food Network @ 10 PM

   >>> P.P.S. check out www.orlandomainstreets.com to see all the restaurant events in Orlando this Friday-Sunday and the amazing deals, all to support our local community!

 

Best wishes,

   Naya xoxo