Photo Journal // St Vincent & The Grenadines Part Deux

Day 2 – Bequia

The highlight of my trip was most definitely my visit to Bequia. For whatever random reason I’ve always wanted to visit Bequia, so even when the sky was behaving quite schizophrenic on Saturday morning, I was super stoked to hop aboard the 8am ferry with Odini, Kern, Louis, Karen of SoKa and Jeremy of Fashion is Payne to Bequia.

The ferry itself is an hour-long ride and EC$45. Not too shabby to get to paradise.

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Wut?

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I love the colours in St Vincent.

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Once we disembarked (Odini didn’t get sick, much success!) we trod off in search of breakfast. Odini seemed hell bent on acquiring Mac’s Pizza, which was of course closed when we got there, so we opted for breakfast from the Gingerbread House instead. Not too bad, a bit pricy but such is life when the main clientele of a place is comprised of yachties.

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Instead of the recommended gingerbread, I opted for a shortbread cookie, a macchiato and some waffles which turned out to be pancakes.

After everyone finished eating we set off again to Princess Margaret’s Bay, which is a relatively short walk from the harbour.

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Just down some stairs…

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And around a bend…

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And then you’re there!

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One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Bequia was everything I was expecting. The only thing that could have made it better was if the water wasn’t so blasted cold, and if the wind didn’t keep blowing sand all over my face every time I tried to sun worship.

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If you look closely you can see the entire right side of my face (my right, not yours) is completely covered in sand.

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Following some spelunking at a cave near the end of Princess Margaret Bay, we decided to head over to Lower Bay next.

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People who live in St Vincent have NO excuse not to have amazing legs…everything is a climb boy…

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But then you get where you’re headed and it all seems worth it.

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For those of you who were wondering, we did eventually get Mac’s Pizza, on our way back to catch the 4pm boat back to the mainland. Entirely too short a stay in beautiful Bequia, but good company, good food and gorgeous surroundings can make the time fly.

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Some pretty good pizza to end an amazing day…like the boat said ‘No Complain'(ts).

Now when the world gets me down and I go to my happy place in my head, I’ll be in Bequia, xoxo.

Photo Journal // St Vincent & The Grenadines Part Un

So this weekend I hopped across to St Vincent and the Grenadines, mainly to visit my friend Odini (you may know her as the mastermind behind menswear label Peta Odini) but also to scratch an item off my bucket list – to visit Bequia.

When my obsession with getting to Bequia began, I’m not quite sure, but it’s been on my to-do list for quite some time now. When LIAT had a sale on fares earlier this year I rather spontaneously booked a flight for the same time I knew Odini would be home.

Our mutual friend Kern (check out his T Shirt line Shop F.A.W.) decided to beat me back on spontaneity and booked his ticket to come with, like, 2 weeks before I was scheduled to head up.

Day 1 – Jack Sparrow Tours

On Friday we met our tour guide, Iston, of Jack Sparrow tours for a full day of traversing the Leeward side of the island – from Fort Charlotte to Wallilabou to Dark View Falls near the town of Richmond.

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Fort Charlotte is small, but packed with history. Commissioned paintings show the bloody history of the Black Caribs, the French and the English as they battled for dominance of the island. You also see how the Free Slaves came to the island and settled. A really creative way of depicting the history of the island. I thoroughly enjoyed following the story through the art.

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The view from Fort Charlotte was stunning.

IMG_9321So this may be a smidge controversial, but along the Leeward coast, we stopped at a food truck near the fishing town of Barrouallie to sample the ‘black fish’ or pilot whale, which is still hunted in St Vincent. The meat itself had a texture reminiscent of smoked herring, but it obviously wasn’t smoked. Delicious really…and the yam and coconut dumplings were a great accompaniment.

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Next we headed up to Wallilabou Bay to check out one of the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean. They shot the scenes for Tortuga here, and there are a few props and scenes left behind that conjure up images from the movie in your mind. I kind of feel like I have to watch the movies again now. Our tour guide Iston was actually an extra in the films so he was super excited to introduce us to his former place of employment.

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A selection of coffins. Apparently these are from the scene where Jack Sparrow shoots himself out of a coffin while in Tortuga.

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We finally arrived at the Dark View Falls near the town of Richmond. This is after our tour guide stopped by some friendly neighbourhood dealers and grabbed a handful of very green Vincy (that’s marijuana) to show off to our British tour-mate. Anyway, Dark View Falls are gorgeous, but FREEZING cold. In fact all of the water in St Vincent seems to be freezing cold, but the Falls took WIN. We braved the cold water because we’d come too far not to. There you can see Louis (Brit) enjoying the refreshing pool while Kern and I contemplated how best to approach this popsicle situation.

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Too late to turn back now…

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Eventually we trekked up to the second falls higher up. My feet were NOT happy about what was essentially a hiking expedition over spiky ass rocks and cold ass water. My feet kept cramping up every time I stopped moving. I took my time, hence Kern is standing there like ‘Wtf woman, hurry up!’

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Small thing though…waterfalls are awesome photo ops, made marginally more awesome by selfie sticks.

IMG_9360On the way back from the Falls we stopped at a restaurant where I finally got to taste the infamous and much-lauded Hairoun Bitter Lemon. Fun fact: Hairoun takes its name after the Kalinago word for St Vincent, which is Hairouna. The actual brand dominates in St Vincent – their branding is EVERYWHERE and it seemed to be a fixture in every shop and restaurant. Also…quite delicious.

Stay tuned for Part Deux where I take you to the GORGEOUS island of Bequia <3

Out & About // Meet Me at Fanatic – ‘Fresh”

It’s Lent y’all. Time to purge the sins of Carnival away with our seasonal stint of devotion and piousness (kind of).

In keeping with the holy season, Sean decided to throw a vegetarian edition of Meet Me At Fanatic – out with the meat and in with the veggies (and a touch of fish, I guess for the people who think fish isn’t meat).

I don’t eat beef nor pork, and my best friend Sandi is pescetarian, so we both left the event feeling WAY more full than we normally do, since this was the first Fanatic that we could actually eat every single dish. Those small bites add up in a big way when you’re not looking.

Ambience wise, the crowd was noticeably less thick than I’m accustomed to, but the good thing about that was I didn’t have to elbow anyone in the face for taking my seat (which Sean constantly forgets/declines to reserve for me). DJ ShyGuy, as usual, kept the vibe up with a mix of his house, lounge and soca music.

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Drinky drinks. Cucumber and mint martini to fit in with the night’s theme of ‘Fresh’.

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Cous cous galette with mushroom ragout, topped with goat cheese.

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When I saw cassava ceviche on the menu I was perturbed. A ceviche with no fish? Quel horror! It was actually probably one of the most delicious dishes of the night. IMG_9264

Phyllo pastry stuffed with mushrooms, olives, spinach and raisins and drizzled with an agro dolce sauce (sweet and sour for us native english speakers).

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Super delicious lentil and roast corn patty atop a fennel-scented bun. Those kale chips on the side were the bomb dot com.

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We also got a nifty recipe card at the end of the event with the recipe for the patty.

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A smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade. My least favourite dish of the night, but only because I despise cream cheese. The reviews from the cream cheese lovers were great though.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any snaps of the spinach and mushroom fettuccine, or the desert, which was fruit clafoutis, but they were both God damned delicious.

To maybe make up for that (not really, I know) here are some bonus shots of the prep/plating:

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Thoughts // On being ‘alone’

I’m what you’d call a serial monogamist.

I love being in a relationship.

I’ve been involved in some degree of a relationship since I was around 14 years old. My longest period of singledom was probably in 2011…when I was single for about 7 months. Then commenced a three-year-long relationship.

I’m single now. And trying to stay that way indefinitely.

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I figured out that I do this thing where I throw myself into relationships in a big way, very fast. I don’t really give myself proper time to assess the situation, or the person I’m embarking on this journey with. I love being in love, and sometimes I do it foolishly.

Add to that the fact that I actually don’t date. I don’t think I’ve ever just gone out with someone for the purpose of assessing their personality. Maybe that’s silly of me but I don’t think we have a very robust dating culture in Trinidad anyway, so I’m sure I’m not alone. Perhaps that’s part of the problem…but dating presents a whole heap of other problems for me, which I’ll discuss some other time, maybe.

Anyway, 2015 will be the year that I focus all my energy on myself. No men, no distractions. (And of course now that I’ve said that out loud, Mr. Right will come strolling into my life tomorrow self)

I told myself I needed to take the time to really evaluate what I want out of myself, and out of a partner in a relationship. Not in a ‘make a checklist’ type way, but rather, really firm up in my mind what I should be willing to give, and expect in return. I think, if I look back on my past relationships, I almost always end up giving far more than I take. It’s always an emotionally and mentally exhausting experience for me, but I stick around because I really love the idea of adding to someone else’s life. But it always ends because imbalance does that to people.

I’m just tired I suppose, of allowing myself to be taken for granted…and somehow training myself to be okay with it. Not only will people take you for granted…they will betray your trust in ways unimaginable, until the darkness comes to light and your meagre imagination pales in comparison to reality (woah Ceola, heavy much?).

I never considered myself as being afraid of being alone…but maybe I was? I don’t feel scared now though…this is easily the most exciting thing I’ve done in a very long time. Having zero obligations to anyone but yourself is a very liberating thing. That and the fact that people cannot disappoint you because you do not allow yourself to have expectations of them. I am trying now to take everything people say at face value. I’m trying to live in a black and white world instead of the shades of grey I’m constantly colouring my life with.

My friend Veesha told me the other day, ‘you are bae’ (no I’m not leaving it in 2014, language police, you and your high horse could miss meh) today, and she’s right. I am bae. For all of 2015, I will give myself as much as I am always prepared to give someone else.

In 2015, I will travel. I may not travel by myself, because I know a lot of good people walking a similar road as I right now, but I will travel for me. For the last 6 years I have put off travelling, one of my favourite things to do, because I’ve been involved with people who just didn’t enjoy it or prioritise it like I did. This year I go where I want to because I have no good reason not to. I never had a good reason not to.

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I’ll concentrate on developing and expanding my career and my blog. I need to start diversifying, trying new things, adding different media to this space. I need to write more, for more publications on a wider variety of topics. I want to start new projects with new people.

I want to focus on improving my health and my fitness and get my body where I want it to be. I want to have stamina and endurance. I want to be able to lift heavier and heavier things, and do more push ups, more sit ups, maybe even a pull up! Lol. I want to run new trails (maybe even without stopping) and try new exercises and new sports. I want to get into the habit of feeding myself better.

I’m not saying I can’t do all these things if I was in a relationship…but again…this way means less distractions, less obligations and more time for myself, ie, less excuses.

It’s important to do these things for yourself. For me it might be travel or fitness or work but for someone else it might be studying, it might be starting a business or pursuing a hobby or a past time that you just never made time for before. They say sometimes your boundaries are just a matter of perception, and they’re right.

I have no kids, no mortgage, no loans, no overheads…there is quite literally never going to be a better time than now to dedicate my life to self-improvement, and making memories for myself…by myself…maybe.

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I owe it to myself…this time to be by myself and be all about me. I deserve to be happy, and that happiness should never be contingent on anyone else. People should only add to my happiness by being in my life, never diminish it with their absence.

And even after saying all that…I say this. I have never been, nor will I ever be alone. This period in my life has taught me a lot of things, but the one thing that brings me an immense amount of comfort is the knowledge that I have a wealth of people in my life who support and care for me. People who were always there and some who came out of the woodwork just when I needed them most. People who understand. People who love me and want me to be happy. People to spend time with. People to talk to every minute of every day if I wanted to. I am surrounded.

So there it is…all my business in the road (not really) for the world to see. I hope this speaks to anyone in a similar place right now. We’re some boss ass bitches with some boss ass lives and it can only get better once your head is on straight and you flip the shit upside down and start appreciating all the perks of having no one to consider but yourself.

The Carnival Beat Up

I remember my first year playing mas. My friend Roxanne and I were so excited…mainly because ‘ohmygod this costume makes us look like we have boobs!’

So we were more than content, come Carnival Monday, to throw on our costume bra, a pair of shorts, pelt some sneakers on our feet, a dust of glitter, a dab of eyeshadow, not nearly enough sunscreen and hit the road!

Our total prep for the day was probably all of 30 minutes…

Cut to now and I literally have to start prepping for Carnival three months in advance…maybe more for certain things.

Some people book their makeup artists as early as Ash Wednesday for Carnival the following year…or so I’ve heard.

I wouldn’t call myself a particularly low maintenance masquerader…but neither am I the over the top super high maintenance diva either. I fall somewhere nicely in the middle…upper middle if I’m honest.

Right now I have most things sorted – makeup booked (two weeks ago), tan booked (first year I’m trying the no-sun solution to my natural luminescent palour), costume on lock, monday wear on lock (I think…Val, can you confirm?), tights (Carnivalista and regular ol’ Diane purchased), boots (bought ages ago), and wax appointment this evening.

The only thing I have to do now is get my bag for the road and acquire the gems to decorate said bag and my cup (because according to my friend Andrew: you can’t have an ugly cup in your pictures. Point!).

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to show you some of the new, and maybe more unusual things I’ve found myself buying this year for Carnival. Who knows, maybe I have something here you hadn’t thought of…and you can go sprint to Pennywise/Wonderful World/Starlite/etc to grab it now while you have time.

First up…

Shibue Strapless Underwear

Fascinating…no? If there are any guys reading this blog then you may be at a total loss right now, but bear with me…it will all be clear in a moment.

So ladies…some of you may know off the bat why this is even a thing at Carnival time. For those of you who don’t, let me explain.

When you wear a pair of stockings with your Carnival costume, the stocking is usually the first thing that goes on, before you slip on the bottoms. Now, if you aren’t fortunate to have a bottom piece with enough coverage to accommodate a pair of tiny underwear beneath it (and believe me, that’s getting more and more difficult to find each year) you find yourself in the conundrum of having nothing between your lady bits and your stockings. No bueno. This is no bueno for all kinda of reasons. To date, my solution has been panty liners, but those pose a problem all their own – shifting, unsticking, crumpling up from all the vigorous wining, etc. It’s a complete pain in the ass and it’s remarkable no one introduced a solution to this problem earlier.

Enter the Shibue strapless panty. It’s basically a pair of underwear with the sides missing, and a strip of adhesive silicone on either end of what is essentially two triangular pieces of fabric that are joined in the middle.

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There you go! Problem solved! Well…we’ll see if it’s problem solved anyway. I got mine at the Carnival Pop Up Shop held in late January but I recently saw these for sale even cheaper in Wonderful World (Trincity Branch) at 2 pairs (one nude, one black) for $125 I think.

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If you’re wearing a wire bra, or are a particularly busty lady in one of Tribe’s notoriously padded bras, then it’s probably a good idea to premeditate your nip slip and cover those areolas up. Unless of course you’re part of the #FreeTheNipple movement, in which case, go through strong and hope you don’t get arrested.

These are pretty standard fare in Wonderful World (again, my go-to for any underwear related accoutrement) and I got three pairs for $25.

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Ignore the creepy stare…

Urifemme

I’ve been buying Urifemme for Carnival going on three years now. It’s basically a funnel to facilitate urination while standing up (for the ladies). For me, nothing is more horrific than the prospect of having to negotiate a filthy port-a-potty while drunk and wearing the equivalent of a spandex straightjacket around my waist. I haven’t always needed my Urifemme, because the bathrooms in Tribe/Bliss are actually quite clean most of the time, but it’s one of those things I need to have in my arsenal just in case. I get mine at Starlite Pharmacy.

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Flash Tattoos

So everyone and their mom have been on the flash tattoo craze. I managed to avoid it for the most part, but the drag queen that lives inside of me decided to jump all the way out and get some flash tats to match my costume in Bliss. It’s Indian Mas themed so I grabbed the Katnis and Apache sets from Flash TT. They’re selling at Bliss and Tribe distribution points today and have a few convenient locations for you to grab a set to complement your costume.

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So there you have it…a few unusual or first-time purchases for me this Carnival. May update this after tomorrow if I buy any other weird stuff…

Have a safe and happy Carnival everyone!

Thoughts // On Moving On

I’ve decided to add a new segment to the blog.

I noticed that my On 2014 post got a lot of positive feedback both on and off the blog…so I thought maybe people actually might be interested in reading a bit more about my personal perspective on certain things…like…life and such.

I mean you could also not want to read that, which is cool as well. Just ignore this post and wait for my next restaurant review or market trip.

Ok! Let’s begin thinking…about moving on…specifically from hurtful situations…presumably with people and love and all that stuff.

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There’s a running joke between me and anyone who will listen, that it takes me approximately four working days to get over ‘heartbreak’.

One might argue that maybe I don’t feel that much to begin with…so there’s that, and that’s debatable, but then there’s also the fact that I’ve learned a few secrets over the last few months.

(Really…I blame/thank the book Eat, Pray, Love. It’s cliche as all hell but I strongly recommend that book to anyone who is going through any measure of a ‘broken heart’).

Meditation is an exercise I try to do on a daily basis now. It’s a real struggle but I feel like my mind is so much clearer and so much calmer since I started. I don’t give in to anxiety the way I used to, and when I feel particularly out of control, I can put on one of my guided sessions (I HIGHLY recommend the Headspace app as an introduction to meditation) and immediately feel better.

Breathing is such an essential part of stress relief. It’s amazing, but not surprising, how we take the positive effects of controlled, concentrated breathing for granted.

It was after a yoga class one day, a while ago, that I told my yoga instructor that I found myself holding my breath through some of the more painful positions. She told me ‘That means you probably hold your breath when you experience difficulties or challenges in your day to day life as well. You have to breathe through it.’

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Gat dayum these yogis are brilliant.

I always remember her words when I find myself holding my breath, and I remember to breathe. Slow, counting down from ten and starting again if I need to.

So meditating is the first thing. It’s also, to me, the most important thing, because in order to start the process of effectively dealing with pain, you first have to stop your mind from spinning out of control, as it tends to when we’re in the midst of sorrow or anger.

Right, so you have your head straight.

The next thing I recommend you do is research oxytocin. Oxytocin is this pesky little hormone that our brain produces…otherwise known as the ‘love drug’. It’s that chemical that makes you feel the butterflies, the lightheadedness, the general dotishness that one experiences when ‘in love’, and particularly when you’re engaged in a sexual relationship with someone.

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Research it well and understand that that feeling of love…the actual feeling, is not unique. Everyone feels it. And you will feel it again, have no fear.

Now this isn’t to say I don’t think love is more than just a chemical reaction in your brain…there is always context to consider.

I’m sure situations attribute a lot to the overall experience of being ‘in love’ with someone but it’s important to remember that you’re not going crazy, you’re just having a normal human response to certain stimuli.

And here’s the kicker – women produce more of it than men. That’s nice and fair isn’t it? Oh well…we have to learn to operate with the hand we’re dealt kids.

Another valuable lesson I’ve learned…and it actually only came to me today…when you allow yourself to be optimistic, or look forward to something, it becomes considerably more difficult to hold on to bitterness and sadness. Sometimes this is easier said than done, I know.

I was very fortunate to have been given a new job opportunity literally the day after a breakup last year…so I had this immense feeling of optimism and gratefulness that kind of overpowered my misery. I am constantly reminded that I am blessed. And when you are as blessed as I perceive myself to be, I find it kind of petty and ungrateful to spend even a minute more than necessary wallowing in self-pity.

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Shit happens, yes, but so do amazing, wonderful things.

It’s important too, to note that sometimes when you’re doing said wallowing, and you’re up to your neck in self-prescribed despair, you can sometimes block opportunities or good things that are trying to enter your life.

Yes…you need to feel what you need to feel (I always tell people it’s important to feel what they need to…but just don’t drown in it) but you also need to acknowledge that life has not stopped. Allow good things to happen to you. Let them in. Allow yourself to be optimistic. Plan a trip, go hang out with your bestie, update your resume, laugh. Laughter helps a lot. You have to let the good in to work out the bad…and that’s SUPER abstract I know, but you’re smart…you get what I’m saying.

I’m constantly reminding myself to let good things happen to me even when I feel sad.

It’s ok to feel happy or hopeful when you’re getting over heart break.

Connected to this point, loosely, is perspective. I remember waking up one morning a few days after that same break up, feeling like complete crap and totally prepared to spend the day under the covers, listening to sad music, when I saw the news online that a school, which was serving as a UN shelter in Palestine had been shelled that night.

15 were dead and over 100 injured, mostly women and children. Palestinian boy scouts were reported to be sifting through the debris, trying to collect body parts for burial.

That was the slap in the face – I know nothing about suffering.

Whatever I was experiencing…it was a drop in the bucket compared to the sadness in the world. I had so much more to be grateful for than to be sad about. Losing someone sucks…yeah…ok. I hear you. But this life is too short to spend it not living for yourself and for the opportunities you still have.

Dammit I sound like a proper self-help book, and I hate pontificating, but I truly believe everything I just wrote, and I think about it constantly. Focus on the good. Focus on what you DO have, and focus on the people who choose to stay.

That is the sum of your life, that is the sum of your experiences in this world. You’ll get over it. You’ll find someone new. Someone who can love you how you deserve to be loved.

Or…maybe you won’t. Not for a while anyway. And that’s okay too. It is okay if someone chooses to continue their journey without you. That is their choice. And all it means is that you need to continue your journey as well. What they do from here on out is no longer your problem, and it’s no longer your business.

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Believe and embrace that quickly and darling you’ll be just fine. Oh also don’t let that shit lower your self esteem…that’s whack and we too old for those teenage habits. Cut that shit out.

Out & About // More Vino & Carnival Pop Up Shop

I’m desperately unprepared for Carnival.

Maybe it was the short season that left me thinking I had more time to get my shit together…but I’m 21 days out and still haven’t even been to Samaroo’s! I don’t even know who I am anymore guys.

I’ve been working out 6 days a week and I’ve been doing Slimdown 360 meals (more out of convenience than anything else) but when the weekend comes, I go H.A.M. on the carbs (kinda). I don’t know…I just haven’t stopped eating…and to prove it to you…here are some pics from my More Vino (or as I like to say Mas Vino) dinner date with my besties on Friday night.

My beautiful best friend Sandi perusing Vino's fancy schmancy menu

My beautiful best friend Sandi perusing Vino’s fancy schmancy menu

Hiyashi Wakame Salad

Hiyashi Wakame Salad

Crab Dip with Tsum Tsum Bread

Crab Dip with Tsum Tsum Bread and some next bread no one touched

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Tone Up Roll and Riceless Roll in the backround. To our credit, it was a riceless night.

Noting my significant lack of preparedness for Carnival, on Saturday I decided to check out the Carnival Pop Up Shop, which took place at Fluid Bar on the avenue. I’ve been meaning to grab some items like the Shibue strapless panty (more on that later) and check out the Carnivalista fishnet tights, and they were both going to be at the Pop Up so I figured I’d kill birds with stones and whatnot.

Shop Shari shell down the place with her amazing statement necklaces

Shop Shari shelling down the place with her amazing statement necklaces

Could totally picture a nude body suit & a Shop Shari Carnival piece for Monday wear.

Could totally picture a nude body suit & a Shop Shari Carnival piece for Monday wear.

Ear cuffs by Kimi See Tai

Ear cuffs by Kimi See Tai. Call her at 377-2557 to order your own. She does custom pieces as well. 

I've seen these Shibue strapless panties being touted on Facebook so I did a little research. Seems like a pretty nifty solution to the issue of what to wear between your stockings and your privates on the road for Carnival. God knows panty lines do us no good.

I’ve seen these Shibue strapless panties being touted on Facebook so I did a little research. Seems like a pretty nifty solution to the issue of what to wear between your stockings and your privates on the road for Carnival. God knows panty liners do us no good. May do a review of these before the big day. 

Grabbed me a pair of Carnivalista Naked fishnets in shade Toffee (because I'm getting a tan for Carnival and anticipating a shade darker). May just wear these on Monday though...we'll see.

Grabbed me a pair of Carnivalista Naked fishnets in shade Toffee (because I’m getting a tan for Carnival and anticipating a shade darker). May just wear these on Monday though…we’ll see.

BONUS PIC!

Went a smidge overboard on Zara over the holidays and ended up with apparently enough new items that I can wear an entire outfit comprised entirely of Zara. Wore this to my friend Nick's birthday lime on Saturday night. Only non-Zara item is of course my Lend & Borough bag.

Went a smidge overboard on Zara over the holidays and ended up with apparently enough new items that I can wear an entire outfit comprised entirely of Zara. Wore this to my friend Nick’s birthday lime on Saturday night. Only non-Zara item is of course my Lend & Borough bag.