Friday, July 21, 2017

Ideal Summer Park Reads

by: Courtney Hayes

While there’s nothing quite like curling up in your bed or in your favorite chair with a good book, the Summer weather brings on the opportunity for another kind of reading experience, one that can bring you closer to strangers and change the way you perceive the words in front of you.  There are coffee shops, libraries, and beaches, but there’s also a magical place out there where people go to play, to relax, to be alone, or to be with friends: the park. So if you’re about to venture to the park to enjoy a beautiful Summer day, what conversation starting, thought provoking, or feel good reads can you bring along for company?


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


This poetry book about blossoming from the dust of an old relationship into the light of a new life came to popularity last summer. Kaur’s mix of short and long poetry and her experimentation with form and imagery make this book an experience in emotion. If you want to feel something this summer that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful, this quick read will be your saving grace! 


As You Like It by William Shakespeare


It’s never a bad time to give Shakespeare a try. As You Like It has an undoubtedly summer vibe about it: Rosalind and Celia flee into the forest, meeting up with the likes of Orlando, Oliver, and Phebe, but since the girls are in the disguise a mess of a love web begins to unfold. You may know this as the play that She’s the Man was based on, so why not dive in and see where the similarities end! 




Once and For All by Sarah Dessen


 A queen of summer, Dessen knows how to write a realistic and enriching novel. In this one, the daughter of a wedding planner is cynical about love, but can one boy (a former king-of-dating) change that? With romance and wit galore, Once and For All is definitely a novel that will get you hooked on Dessen (or if you’re already a fan, make you dig your claws in deeper).



The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


This may seem like a random addition to a summer reading list, but no list is truly complete without a thriller. James’s novel is short and spunky, offering a great introduction to British Literature. When a governess takes to a country house to take care of two orphans, weird things start to happen. Time to curl up in the park and start reading about ghosts and ghouls in the beautiful countryside!



Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson



Both a novel and a poem, Carsons’s Autobiography of Red is a truly unique read. Based partially off of Greek mythology, it tells the story of Geryon, a boy who is also a winged red monster, as he takes on adventures in artistry and romance. Moving and lyrical, you won’t be able to put it down, or stop visualizing the images Geryon captures. 




Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


This memoir, written in the form of a letter to his son, captures the essence of living in American as a black man, both in the past and today. Coates has a wonderful way with words and this book is enlightening in both complex and simple ways, and it feels deeply personal. This memoir offers a great opportunity to learn and discuss social issues in America today.





The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares 



Another queen of summer, Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) knows how to paint the perfect picture of summer friendship and romance. This novel is a family drama: two families who were once one family own the same beach house and use it at alternative times so that their new kids have never actually met. Sit down and enjoy the drama and the emotion that Brashares is so good at creating. 


Things That Happened Before the Earthquake by Chiara Barzini



The events of this book take place around the 1994 earthquake in LA and follow Eugenie, a Roman teenager whose family does not understand much about American culture. You’ll be inspired and intrigued by her unique character as she swims in new seas, and since summer is all about adventure and discovery, it’ll give you some insight on the trials of adapting to a new environment. 





Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa




A true summer escape needs a little fantasy. Graceffa’s novel follows Rowan, marked for death by population control in a world that has been ravaged by climate change. This dystopian novel introduces new characters for us to fall in love with, and it’ll keep your heart racing from beginning to end! 








So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister by Anna Akana    



Akana has used her social media platform to talk about mental illness. After her younger sister committed suicide, Akana put together this compelling collection of essays about dealing with depression, self-esteem, and self-love. Moving and insightful, it’s the perfect read to really make you think about life.



What are some of your favorite Summer Park reads? Have you read any of the ones in Courtney's list? We'll write to you all soon! 



Love, Nashi & Courtney

About the author: Courtney Hayes is an editor and writer with a degree in English Literature from McGill University. She has a passion for adventure, comedy, animals, and theater. You can follow her on Instagram @x_courtneey_x

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Favorite Picture Editing Apps


Editing pictures so they look perfect on our feeds is a daily job for a lot of us. I don't use them for all of my posts, but sometimes pictures need a little extra magic, especially when they come from our phones. I use them a lot to create the edits I post on Love, Nashi's Instagram feed. That's why today I want to share with all of you, my favorite picture editing apps so you can use them to make those Summer pictures perfect!

Snapseed

Snapseed is one I use quite a lot because it allows me to edit small details. What I use it for the most is to enhance colors. Sometimes we want the pinks, blues, and greens to look brighter to give a picture life. The brush option and saturation can help me do just that. The app also has some other cool features like lens blur and glamour filters. It is a quick and easy app to have on your phone. 

PicsArt

I use this app to make so many edits. You can crop, add stickers, add text, make your pictures square, and so much more. It also has a great variety of filters. My favorite feature about this app is that it makes making those black and white pictures with color accents. I also use it a lot to blur things in the background. It takes some time to figure out to use all of the features, but it is even fun during the process of learning. 

Pic Collage

This is the most basic of editing apps. We all need that to be able to make collages. What I like about this app is that sometimes I can even make my own phone backgrounds with quotes and sayings. So it isn't only about making collages. 

Font Candy

Font Candy is another app I use for the edits you see on Love, Nashi's Instagram feed. You can edit pictures for different social media outlets, they have a big library of pictures, and even artwork and sayings. I use the shapes in artworks a lot and simply add some text. You can also do some interesting things to edit background pictures, even blur them out behind some text. Their font library has got to be my favorite thing about the app. 

Ripl

Ripl has been a recent obsession and if you follow my Instagram, you've definitely seen me use it for my Let's Talk Coffee Series! I love the way that you can make short videos or moving collages with your pictures. You can even add text and music. They have different types of layouts you can use and you even have the options for them to be static images. It is really fun and easy to use!

What is your favorite picture editing app? Have you used any of my favorites? Make sure to join the conversation in the comments or any of my socials. 

I'll write to you all soon. 

Love, Nashi

Monday, July 17, 2017

Too Faced vs L'oreal (Better Than Sex mascara dupe)

It’s been a major talk in social media for over a month now. Is the new Loreal mascara a dupe for Too Faced Better Than Sex? Many beauty gurus, bloggers and beauty enthusiasts like myself have reviewed it and put it face to face against this high-end mascara and they agree that it works just as good if not better. I wanted to put this theory to the test. Especially since Better Than Sex is one of my top 3 mascaras of all time.

After looking for L'oreal's Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara since May, I finally found it at Walgreens on sale for $8.99. It was literally a surprise to find it because that day I hadn't even been on the hunt for it. Getting right into the comparisons of the two, the price is one of the biggest differences between these two mascaras. The Better Than Sex mascara sells at Sephora for $23. While the L'oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Lengthening Waterproof mascara retails for $9.99

Another big difference is that the Loreal Paradise mascara is waterproof, while the Better Than Sex mascara is not. Although there is a version of the Better Than Sex that is waterproof, I have never personally used that one myself.


Other than that, even their packaging is similar! They did not hide the fact that they are trying to imitate this high-end brand. Their mascara tube colors are both a beautiful rose gold, and when you open them, even more, similarities come up. One of them is the hourglass shaped wands. Yet, their bristles differ. L'oreal's bristles are shorter and stiff, while Too Faced has longer and more flexible bristles. The mascara formulas are very similar. Not too dry, but not incredibly liquid either. 

I wore these side by side and have worn them separately on various occasions and despite in the way the formula applies and consistency I have not found any major differences. They both wear and look incredibly similar.  My lashes curled beautifully and the curl lasted without dropping or making my lashes feel heavy. I had lashes for days with these! 

I didn't experience any flaking or smudging during my trial runs with them. I sometimes even forgot I had makeup on and would scratch at my eyes. So, I am definitely calling this one a dupe in my books. What do you guys think? 

Do you think is a dupe? Will you try this new drugstore mascara phenomenon? 

I'll write to you all soon. 

Love, Nashi

Friday, June 30, 2017

All The Bright Places Book Review

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This was a book I never expected to love, with characters I thought I would soon forget. Yet, it has clung to my heartstrings in a way that I know it will be one of my favorites for a very long time. Jennifer Niven has written such an eye-opening story through Theodore Finch and Violet "Remarkeyable" Markey that actually left me speechless after finishing this novel. It was not at all what I expected. All The Bright Places is the type of book that changes you and your outlook on life. 

It is important to remember that this book is about mental illnesses and these illnesses are a big part of the plot and who these characters are. In my opinion, it talks about heavy topics in a light and serious way, until it becomes heavy entirely towards the end. Lately, I am really into books that talk about all of these taboo topics in a very open way. Especially in a way that the message can reach the younger generations in a way they can understand. 


The writing in the book is amazing. I think Jennifer Niven did an amazing job in creating this story. The character's voices are so raw and their thoughts are so full of emotion every step of the way. The characters (Finch and Violet) are so different and their individual voices can not be any more different. This is a great thing since narration takes turns between the two of them. 


I think my favorite part about this book is that you loose track of time while reading. Before I knew it, I had gone through half the book in less than a day. I finished the entire thing in like two days. 


I highly recommend this book, and I could spend hours talking about it and my favorite scenes but I would have to give away any spoilers. I truly loved this books, but you must remember that it is a heavy one emotionally and it could trigger those who suffer from a mental illness. It really centers around the topic of suicide, depression, and death. The book is a real tear-jerker. I cried so much that my heart still feels heavy and it has been a few weeks since I read this book. 

Have you read All The Bright Places? I would love to learn what everyone thought about it in the comments. In the meantime, I will write to you all soon. 

Love, Nashi

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How to Plan the Best Summer Staycation



Are you feeling bummed out because Summer Vacations are here and while everyone is traveling you think you will spend your days at home watching Netflix? Let me tell you that you are wrong! You don't need to splurge on a big vacation or travel to a different country or Disney in order to have an amazing Summer Vacation!

The truth is that I adore traveling as much as the next person, but sometimes I just don't have the money to hop on a plane to visit a new destination or even some of my favorites. Vacations can really take a toll on your pocket, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy your Summer vacation doing something amazing locally. Staycations can be just as fun as actually traveling to a different state or country, but they can be very budget friendly. Here are some ideas of how to have an amazing 2017 Summer Staycation!

Plan a Picnic at a Local Park

Picnics are such a great way to spend a day outdoors. You can fly solo or have a bunch of friends or family join. The best part is that everyone can contribute something and make it a special occasion. Find out what parks are nearby locally and you've never visited. Bring some food, drinks, music, and a big blanket and you're set! The Summer day will pass you by chatting about with your loved ones while you enjoy some delicious Summer themed recipes. 

Have a Themed Movie Night

Enjoy staying in and watching Netflix? Want to binge watch that hot new series? Or even rewatch an old one? Invite your friends and make it a party! Better yet, make it a themed party! A few years ago I had a Harry Potter Themed Movie Night and it was amazing. We had a table full of snacks and our wands ready! 

Don't feel like staying in? A movie night also doesn't mean you need to stay at home. Find a drive-in movie theater or see what they are giving at the cinema. Maybe there is an event nearby where they will show a movie in the park or anything like that. Do your research and let your town or nearby towns surprise you. The point is to make an event out of it and enjoy it! 


Have Some Water Fun

It doesn't matter if it is at the beach, in a pool or a water fight! Having some water fun is a big part of what a Summer Vacation is because it helps you cool down. You could have some great laughs during a water balloon fight, read an amazing book by the beach, or take cute insta pics with your friends by the pool. Maybe there is a water park in your town or a town nearby and you can make it a day trip with your friend or family. Just go out there and have some fun! 

Go to a Local Festival

There is nothing better than going to a festival. Here in Puerto Rico, we have festivals all year round, but during Summer my family and I like to look for which ones may be happening each weekend and simply making a trip out of them. You get amazing food, shows, and local crafts from vendors. Most of them are sometimes themed (especially here in Puerto Rico). You could also see if there are any Summer Music festivals happening near you. The trick for an amazing staycation is doing your research and finding out the best places to be and when. 

Plan a Road Trip

I live in Puerto Rico and there are a bunch of towns that I have not visited yet, many with attractions for only $1. So whenever I know I will have a free day with nothing to do and feel like adventuring I will research what to do in Puerto Rico, and if I find a place I like I see what else you can do in that town. That is how the road trip with my best friend came to be. 

You can do the same no matter where you are from. Find a few places you want to visit and make a road trip out of it! Trust me, you will have an amazing time and you can save loads of money by making it a one-day road trip and bringing lots of snacks and beverages with you in the car. 

Tell me, what is your favorite Staycation idea? I would love to hear from you in the comments below or in any of my social medias: Facebook (nadeshka.monroig), Twitter (@nashimonroig), and Instagram (love_nashi). 

I'll write to you all soon! 

Love, Nashi

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Skin Care Tips

Every year, Summer takes a toll on my skin. I don't consider myself as a person to have sensitive skin, but the extreme heat I experience living in a Tropical Island during the hot Summer months always leaves my skin needing some extra help. During the Summer months, I experience my most breakouts and my skin burns easily when exposed to the sun. This is why I kick my skin care techniques to full blast. Especially when I want to enjoy amazing sunny days at the beach or by the pool. These are my must have Summer skin care tips to enjoy your radiant looking skin even on those too hot for makeup days.


Stay Hydrated

I consider this to be the most important one of all. I've said this before on my blog and skin care posts, H2O is your best friend. Especially on hotter months. It is easy to get distracted by sweet teas and lemonade, but it is important to drink more water. Staying hydrated will not only make you feel better on hotter days, but your skin will thank you for it. Also, load up on fruits that will keep you hydrated like melons. Fruit is a great way to feel refreshed on a hot Summer day. My favorite Summer fruits are watermelons and strawberries.

Exfoliate

Exfoliating already is an important part of a skincare routine, but during Summer it is important to keep your skin free of impurities and from dead skin. This will prevent breakouts and any risk of skin infection. You don't even need to splurge on an expensive exfoliant, there are many cheap options out there and you can even make your own. Just be sure to use one that works best with your skin. 

Wear Sunscreen

One hour under direct sun withour sunscreen and Red Lobster might have a new face. I sunburn so easily! During Summer I always carry sunscreen with me. And I'll be the annoying person in the group reminding everyone to apply and reapply. I love a good tan as the next person, but I know how painful a sunburn can be. Not to mention that it is not good for your skin. There are many amazing products out there for all types of skin, and even makeup that includes some SPF to protect your skin from those UV rays. 

Wear Minimum Makeup

I hate the feeling of melting makeup during Summer. That's why I trade up my full coverage glam for some BB creams and leave it only for special occasions (when there is air con blasting). During Summer, I don't look for much coverage. I tend to be more focused on protection. I want to protect my skin at all times. BB creams are a great way to do this because they sit comfortably on the skin, give you a healthy glow, and usually are loaded up with SPF. Sometimes I even only use concealer and setting powder. Whatever my Summer makeup look may be, I always load up on the lip balm. One thing you won't be able to make me trade up on Summer is colorful eyeliner and mascara. They are my guilty pleasures! 

Hydrate your Skin and Lips

So we've already talked about how staying hydrated is important, but you skin might need a little extra hydration help. Always remember to wear lip balm and protect that perfect pout for all the amazing Summer selfies. Another great trick for an extremely hot day is to cool off your skin with some face mist. Sometimes I even use my rose water and witch hazel setting spray to refresh my skin.  It feels amazing. Lastly, we tend to shave or whatever a lot more, so make sure you moisturize and take care of your skin. Also moisturize after a long day under the sun. The lesson is that during Summer moisturizer is your best friend. 


Take Care of your Feet

I take care of my feet all year round because there is no need to use winter boots in Puerto Rico, but during Summer I like to give them a little extra attention. Make sure they smooth and exfoliated. Also, Summer is a great time to pull out all of that colorful and fun nail polish. The brighter, the better! 

Protect your Scalp

I've talked about having sunburned skin, but you don't know real pain until you have a burned scalp. Having a sunburned scalp is not fun! And many people forget to protect their scalp. A traditional route is wearing less hair products and using hats. You can also use sunscreen in any any area where you might have an exposed scalp situation going on. Whatever the technique you decide to use, make sure you protect that scalp! It is almost as important as protecting your ears from getting a little too much sunburned. Ouch! 

What are some of your favorite Summer Skin Care Tips or even Summer products? Make sure to let me know in the comments, Instagram (love_nashi), Facebook (nadeshka.monroig), or Twitter (nashimonroig). I'll write to all of you soon!

Love, Nashi

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Puerto Rican Flancocho Recipe


I remember having flancocho a lot as a kid. My great aunt used to make it all the time, and I distinctively remember it being absolutely delicious. Nobody else in our family used to make it, only she did. Once she passed away, the memories of flancocho became a distant memory. This year, I have decided to dig up all of these recipes from my family. This is my great aunt's flancocho, using my mom's flan recipe. It is super simple to make and really gives it a different twist to two classics: flan and yellow cake. 

Ingredients

For the cake:
  • Box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake - Follow the instructions listed in the back of the box. I always substitute oil for butter. I like the way the cake tastes this way, especially yellow cake. 
Flan:
  • 6 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar - for the caramel
  • cooking spray and a round cake pan

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray your cake pan with cooking spray and sprinkle the sugar inside. Put in the oven to caramelize until the sugar is melted and golden brown. 
  3. Whisk together your box cake mix. Set aside.  
  4. To your blender, add your cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, evaporated milk, and condensed milk.
  5. Blend until everything is well incorporated.
  6. Once your sugar has caramelized, take the cake pan out of the oven and wait a minute or two before adding your flan mixture. 
  7. On top of the flan mixture, scoop some cake mix slowly and without mixing the two until most of your flan mixture is covered. In the cake pan I used, I did not use all of the cake mixture. I used about 3/4 of the entire mix. 
  8. Bake in your oven for about 45 minutes or until your cake is ready (a toothpick comes out clean).
  9. Once you take out, allow it to cool to room temperature before flipping it onto a serving plate. Now you're ready to enjoy it to room temperature or refrigerate to enjoy it cold.  

Have you ever had some flancocho? What is your favorite dessert creations? Share with me your recipe creations on Instagram by using the hashtag #LoveNashiBakes and tagging me @love_nashi. I would love to see how yours turns out. I'll write to you all soon. 

Love, Nashi