My Overnight Oats Recipe

Ok so I got a lot of questions about my overnight oats since I began making them a few weeks ago. I love any meals that make my life easier and I cannot begin to explain how much these have saved my life in the mornings. They're so delicious and easy to prep - so here we go.

First off, I knew I wanted to make these by batches so I decided to buy mason jars that I can just grab and go in the morning. I found a pack of 12 for $11 at Bed Bath & Beyond that were perfect.

What you'll need:

  • Oats
  • Almond milk (or whatever non-dairy/dairy milk you prefer)
  • Honey
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Cinnamon

I start of by pouring 3/4 cup of dried oats in my mason jar. I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats or their Gluten Free Oat Bran. The difference is the oat bran is made from the bran of the oats and is higher in fiber but both taste good! I found this brand at my local supermarket but you can use whatever brand of oats you like. I just recommend getting quick cooking oats (or rolled oats that are cut smaller) so that they soak better overnight.

After you pour in the 3/4 cup of the oats, go ahead and add your milk of choice. I use unsweetened almond milk. Add enough milk to cover or soak the oats. I stop pouring once the milk has gone slightly above the layer of oats.

Next you add a spoonful of chia seeds, honey and cinnamon. How much you add of each it's up to you. I like adding a few swirls of honey since I use unsweetened almond milk. But if you're using regular almond milk you might wanna chill with the honey since it'll already have sweetness from the milk. As an additional layer I add coconut flakes to some of my jars, just to switch it up during the week.

Once you've added all your ingredients, mix it all up in the jar. Then cover and store in your fridge. In the morning you can slice some strawberries or throw in some blueberries. (You don't want to leave the fruits in overnight because they can get soggy). I like to also add some sliced almonds, walnuts or granola. Just something to add a crunchy balance to the creamy goodness. 

I typically prep 4-5 jars in the beginning of my week and have them every morning. This has made my morning so much smoother because I literally just grab and go. If you're always on the go like me, these will save your life. Overnight oats are also very filling, which is perfect for someone like me who's hungry every 2 hours. They hold me down big time! But also they're sooooo yummy and healthy! 

I hope this all made If you have any other tips or ingredients you think would be a great add-on let me know in the comments! And tag me on IG (@melzlookwellz) if you make them!





Tools to maximize your photography business

We all know those people that think sharing their gems will somehow make them less successful. I dislike those people. Just kidding, (maybe). But honestly, spreading knowledge will never dim your light. So I wanted to share some tools I use to help me manage the business side of my work. Creating is fun and I truly believe that is the most important part of being an artist. But let's be real, we also want to make a living doing what we love. Am I right?

Ok, let's get into it.

  • Invoices (aka: secure the bag)

This was a game changer for me. Getting paid is cool but once you're serious about starting a business you have to have the receipts! I use a site called Blink Bid. It's basically a software for invoicing, estimating and production. You can create jobs and fill in all of your info, the client's info and a description of the job. 

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Blink Bid has a built in catalogue of items associated with the business of photography. So you can add in things like: photographer's fee, assistant fee, casting fee, discounts, travel fees, make-up artist, equipment rental and more. 

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Another great thing about it is you can use it not only for invoices but also to send estimates to your clients. I particularly love that because it let's me set up a job and then send it to my client to review and sign. It works as a contract pretty much. Which, by the way, Blink Bid has built in terms that you can adjust to your preference. This is very important because as creatives who want to run a business we have to secure the bag. So you can set up your own terms for deposits, usage rights, and more. Once you're done adding your fees, adjusting your terms, etc., then you can click on print estimate (or invoice) and it will pop open a new tab on your browser with a PDF-like page that you can simply save to your computer (example below). I recommend having a designated folder to keep all your invoices organized and easy to find. 

 This is an example of what an invoice looks like when exported from Blink Bid. Again, these terms are totally customizable and the items listed are just examples of fees you can add. 

This is an example of what an invoice looks like when exported from Blink Bid. Again, these terms are totally customizable and the items listed are just examples of fees you can add. 

I've been using Blink Bid for more than a year now and absolutely love it! I just find it so easy to use and I can simply type in some numbers and export to my computer. I don't have to worry about copy and pasting or typing out terms and conditions, it's all saved in my settings. Lastly, Blink Bid also keeps track of my reports for my yearly or monthly profits/losses. It's an investment that is worth it if you're serious about the business side of your photography. I think it's about $140 a year but they have a free trial so I would definitely try it out to see if it's for you.

My next go to tool is the Square Up app. As a consumer, you have probably seen people use it. It's the app people use when they have that squared, white card reader plugged into their phones to swipe credit cards with. Which is very useful for small business owners. Even though that's how I first learned about the app and how I began using it, it's not what I use it for now.

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I use the Square Up app as an invoicing tool as well. See although Blink Bid is amazing for creating invoices and keeping my yearly reports, I can't receive payment through it. So for my clients that wish to pay by card, I like to use the app to do so. Square Up let's you create a basic invoice with a job description and fees. It then sends the invoice via email to your client and allows them to enter their credit card to pay (there's a fee of about 3%). I love this because its so easy for the client to do plus allows for a professional and trustworthy transaction to happen. We all know CashApp, Venmo and QuickPay is cool, but not all clients are down to pay via these apps. The other cool thing about Square Up is that it let's you add your custom invoice number. Therefore I make sure that whatever invoice # I used in Blink Bid for that client, I also use on Square Up when I send it. I can also attach the Blink Bid invoice or estimate file on the Square Up invoice so the customer can view the file and terms before submitting payment.

Square Up is available as an app but it also has a desktop version which is just as great. I mostly use it on my phone and it's literally the best thing because I can invoice people on the go without having to sit down in front of my computer. It's perfect for self-employed or freelance folks who pretty much run their business on their own and have to be able to do so from their phone at times. Also did I mention it's free? So if you're unsure about investing in Blink Bid just yet, then you should definitely start with Square Up.

  • Model Releases (aka: protect your neck)

I use the Easy Release app for model releases. You can upload your logo to the app and fill out all the model and session info. Then you and the model can literally sign the release via your phone and email it once done. Easy Release has a standard built-in version of a model release but you can also create your own custom terms. The app costs $9.99 in the App Store and it is definitely worth it. I like how it let's you take a photo of your model if you want to use as a reference later.

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Now, I admit that I haven't been as consistent as I should be with these. For those that aren't sure, basically a model release is a contract between you and your model that gives you rights to use your image(s) you please, so long as it's not defamatory to the model. The reason this is important is because if a brand or company happen to want to use an image of yours, you cannot do so if you don't have a model release. Most companies will ask for one. But even if they don't and you get away with using the image, the model can actually come for you in court if they have interest in taking some of the coins you earned from that publication. So you want to make sure you are protected as an artist. Also make sure that your release has a consideration clause which basically states that the model is receiving something in exchange for signing. This can be worth $1 or more. So giving them the images from the shoot is something of value, for example. But you can also literally give them $5 or something and that'll do.

  • File Delivery (aka: make it personal)

Ok so next thing is sending images to clients. I've tried many different ways, believe me. There's dropbox, WeTransfer, Google Drive, etc. It's all a preference. But honestly, I decided to go with this site for one reason: presentation. I cared about my client's experience when viewing the beautiful photos we created together. I didn't want them to have these bunch of links or file names and not be simply wowed by the images first. So I invested in Pixieset. It let's you create a custom online gallery for your client. They can choose to download the images at full resolution or web resolution - of course depending on the resolution of the files you upload. This is perfect for clients who wish to print and also use the images online. I believe they give you 3GB of storage for free and you can upgrade to whatever package you want when you need to.

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Here's why I love Pixieset. You can password protect your galleries, clients can select favorites from the session, you can allow clients to download individual images or whole gallery, it let's you customize a cover image and session name, and you can even add your custom logo.

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There's more I can tell you but you really have to just try it. Again, you can enjoy it for free and then upgrade if you need more space, so why not?! Save your coins while you can and then invest when you feel it's necessary.

I hope you find these tools I shared helpful. I'm no expert in the business yet but I do know that I like anything that makes it easier to manage so that I can focus on creating. These tools do just that for me. Like I said I just want to be able to share some of what I've learned with those who are trying to grow in the field. I know being a creative or artist in general can feel isolated. So whenever I can share some tips or tools I definitely will because I know when I started out there weren't many people doing that for me.

Anyway, if you do give any of them a try definitely let me know! I'd love to hear how you used them or what you like/dislike about them.




6 things that have helped me stay consistent with my fitness goals

It's been 3 full months since I really committed to my fitness. Yes, it's true that it's been more than 3 months since I started working out. For those that know me personally I have always been an 'on and off' gym goer. Last May after quitting my job I had more free time and was going to the gym up to 4 times a week. My nutrition, however needed some adjusting. I would still skip breakfast, not drink enough water, and eat unhealthy. Nonetheless having more free time definitely made me want to start the gym again. I figured if I can't do it now that I have more time then I'd just be making excuses.

Unfortunately in October of last year I hurt my back during a workout. After a month of physical therapy I was ready to slowly get back to my routine. But I wanted to get serious about my nutrition. You have to find something that works for you. I can sit here and type out the foods I eat, the workouts I do, how often I workout, where I get my workout gear. But none of those things will help you. Those are the things that come once you're committed to your goal. And they will be what works for YOU. My intention with this post is to share the part most people don't share. The mental component. Staying consistent is about what you tell yourself everyday. The stories/excuses you make or the motivation.

These are the things that have helped me remain consistent three months in:

1. I got tired of being tired.

I spent so much time over the years feeling up and down about my body. I felt confident on most days. But some days I'd hate my stomach, the fat deposits in my thighs, and how low my energy level was everyday. All of this would be masked by my excuse of being "skinny fat". You know, the type that can eat anything and not gain weight but still have a gut and other problem areas they hate. That was me. I'd hide behind the fact that even though I didn't feel great, at least I wasn't gaining weight because of how I ate. I just got tired of being tired all the time. I got tired of looking in the mirror and wondering what my body would look like if I truly gave it 100%. I never worked out after having my daughter 8 years ago. Despite being praised all the time for how "thin" I looked for being a mom, that didn't take away the fact that I had fat in areas I wish I didn't, that my skin was looser around my stomach, and that my body wasn't how it used to be before I had my daughter. So I decided to cut the BS and stop lying to myself. How many weeks, months, years will go by before I really commit? Last summer I said this summer. Truth is until you're downright tired and frustrated, nothing will happen.

2. Moving from "I can't" to "no thanks"

This was a big one for me. When it came to eating healthy, I was so good at doing it at home but not while out with others. I'd feel as though I had to be that person that says "I can't have that" and then subsequently get those comments I hated, "you're skinny you can eat anything you want", "you're going to disappear if you lose weight", "one day isn't going to do anything to you." I used to feel like people weren't respecting my choice. But it wasn't them I was angry at. I was angry with myself. I was angry that I always let those comments influence me into lying to myself.  Although all those things may be true, it wasn't my truth. My truth is that, no, I cannot eat anything I want because most of what I ate made me feel crappy. No, I won't disappear because I am not trying to lose weight. And no, one day won't do anything to me, but the day I do eat something unhealthy it will be because I CHOOSE to. I realized that in order to live in my truth I had to honor and stand by my commitment to myself. By saying I can't I was inviting the parts of me that were in resistance to a better version of myself. When I really began choosing better because I wanted better, I started saying simply: no thanks. I didn't have to justify it, feel bad for myself, or any of that. I had a goal in mind and no one else had to get it but me.

3. Seek motivation

No, motivation doesn't just come easy because you like what you're doing. We all get stuck. So this is a constant for me. I love finding new workouts and following women whose workout routines are aligned with my body goals. I am constantly using Instagram to find videos and tips on different exercises and recipes, too! I find the gym fun but everything gets boring if done often. So it's great to look at what other people are doing to spice up their routine. It motivates me and gets me excited to challenge myself. Some of my favorite accounts are:





4. Make it a non-negotiable

We all have non-negotiables. Things that we do that are not to be debated, they are part of who you are. For some of us that is being on time, going to church, visiting a family member, drinking coffee in the morning, etc. Whatever it is, you do it no matter what. You wouldn't say yes to something else if it meant not doing that one thing you're committed to. Well that's how I started viewing working out. Before I'd try to schedule in my day. Key word try. I wasn't committed so any and everything that would come up I'd immediately skip my workout. Until I realized that it's because I wasn't truly committed. I'd say I was but my actions said differently. I chose to make the gym a non-negotiable. Who was I fooling? I knew exactly how most of my day would plan out. But I'd fool myself into thinking I was living this spontaneous life and couldn't commit to going to the gym because "something could come up". It's funny the things we tell ourselves when we aren't committed. I decided to be prepared. Something might come up you say? Then bring workout gear with you. Or workout before your day starts and then you can do what you want. Maybe even work out at home since you may be too busy to go to the gym. All these things I've done. I found it better to be honest with myself about my time so that I can really stick to my goals.

5. Cut the excuses

I always made excuses. I'd tell myself that I couldn't stop eating burgers, that I loved cheese too much, that I liked pizza, etc. As if someone was telling me I'd have to give these up forever. Except no one was. It was all in my head. Funny thing is I don't recall the last time I even had a burger. I enjoy cheese when I want to. And I eat pizza when I want to as well. All in moderation of course. I realized that all of that stuff I told myself was just BS. Who said I can't eat those things? I thought I was exercising freedom by enjoying all that unhealthy stuff. I used to look at fit people and think it must suck not being able to eat what you want. Again, all BS. I was actually a prisoner to my own mind. Because like I said, I clearly wasn't happy with the way I looked. I was just hiding behind the excuse of being able to eat what I wanted. But it wasn't yielding any results I wanted. I's all about balance. If I feel like having pizza I will but I won't have it 3 times a week and then hate myself for not seeing the results of the work I put in at the gym. I'd only be fooling myself. I reclaimed my power from the unhealthy habits I formed that weren't serving me.

6. Take progress photos

I don't know about ya'll but I'm a visual person. I need to see to believe!!!! Lol. But seriously take a photo of yourself when you start your journey and then every month after. It has helped me stay motivated. I also like sharing my workouts via my Instagram to hold myself accountable and even to check my form! Sometimes I feel like I can't see the difference. But I sure FEEL it. I feel the muscle growth. I feel my stomach getting tighter. I feel my energy level higher. I feel good! And that's what matters most. So whenever I stare too long at my before and after photos and find myself thinking negative, I remind myself that it's a marathon not a sprint. Yes I have a goal in mind but it doesn't mean I just stop when I get there. I want to look at this as a lifestyle and not a temporary thing. That being said I wanted to share a progress pic with y'all. I was skeptical about doing this because I was worried about the very things I just mentioned, the thought that "it's not such a big difference" but it really is. Because this doesn't show the days I didn't want to go to the gym but still did. The days I beat myself up for skipping a meal. The days I worked out at home because I was with my daughter and couldn't go to the gym. Or all the days I danced in the mirror and laughed from joy of seeing my consistency yield results. I am not where I want to be yet, but I'm also not where I was. Physically or mentally.


I hope all this inspires you to believe in yourself. Whatever your goal is, you can get there but only if you're willing to be honest with yourself. Cut the BS you tell yourself as to why you can't and focus on why you CAN.




Let's talk about skincare, again.

 This is my face with no foundation. Just filled brows, mascara & light blush.

This is my face with no foundation. Just filled brows, mascara & light blush.

It's no secret that everyone has been into skincare lately. Finding products that work for you, however, is a trial and error. Similar to finding the right curly cocktail for your hair. Up until a year ago I didn't have a skincare regimen that was even half decent. I'd wash my face but didn't moisturize every time, or use toner consistently. I would just remove my make-up with makeup wipes and simply wash my face to remove the residue from the wipes. But all that changed a little over a year ago when I realized I would rarely ever go a full day without make-up. Granted my make-up was fairly light compared to the layers upon layers of stuff I see on IG (no hate). But it still wasn't doing any good to wear it so often and then not properly take care of my skin.

This past year I have been working from home more and spend my days bare face more than ever. So I decided to get into my skin because, aging. I am trying to look 30 when I'm 40, okay?

Recently on Instagram I spoke about the products I've been using on my face and more so HOW I use them. Which is what my intention is in sharing this. I'm no expert, and I definitely recommend you take everything I say at face value and go through your own trial and error with products. What works for me won't always work for you.

That being said these are some of the skincare products I use:


Let's talk about this one. As I mentioned I was the girl that raved about make up wipes. But I got tired of the sticky residue most of them left on my face (and I tried many different brands over the years). Also, I've just been trying to add more natural/organic products into my life. Coconut oil is EVERYTHING. Believe the hype on this one. It removes my whole face. I just take some in my hand (a bit goes a long way!) and rub it all over my face and even on my lashes to remove mascara. After that I just grab a cotton pad and wipe it all off. Easy peasy. When I travel anywhere I bring my individual packs along with my cotton pads. I get both at Trader Joe's.

This is a new product I began using after my boyfriend raved about African black soap. By the way I put him on to skincare and his skin is looking more flawless than mine let me tell you. Anyway, I use this to cleanse my face after the make-up removal. Just do not get the lather in your eye or you will die. Ok, I lied. But it will feel like you will. Lol.


Yes, honey. I got mine from Amazon. It smells delicious. I know people are skeptical about honey because they think it'll just be this sticky mess. But trust me, it's not bad at all. I just grab a bit on the tips of my fingers and make sure my face is wet before applying it. This is key. Rubbing honey on your dry face will feel weird and definitely sticky. But once water is involved it just thins out the consistency of the honey. This allows you to spread it easily around your entire face. I use honey especially when I get small breakouts. Honey is known for being naturally antibacterial which help with acne/breakouts, and for its antioxidants which help repair skin. I use it as a wash, but sometimes I just let it sit for a few minutes and then wash off.


I love the way this scrub leaves my skin feeling soft and rejuvenated. It's very smooth despite having little beads in it. I use this especially after wearing make up because you want to get rid of any dirt clogging your pores.


Everywhere you look people are taking this as a shot, putting it in their hair, drinking it as detox. I used to do all of this, minus the shot. I can't even. But what I do is I keep a tiny little mason jar with a screw-on lid with a 1:3 part of ACV and water. I've used regular store brand toners before, too. I've been using this mix for a few weeks now and no issues here. No, it does not leave a stench after. Especially since its diluted in water.


Ok so I actually went on my IG story to ask for recommendations for a new moisturizer because I wasn't crazy about this one. I'm only sharing because it may work for y'all. But I just didn't like the thickness of it and it didn't leave my skin feeling hydrated as much as I'd like it too. Since last week I have been using the Cetaphil Daily Facial moisturizer with SPF 15. I got it at target for like $12 and it has been very nice on my skin. At first application it looks a tiny bit oily, so I was skeptical about keeping it but it does not stay on oily. It absorbs really well and I have noticed my face has been hella smooth lately!


This is a step in skin-care I added a few months ago because like I said, I want to slay at 40.  I love this cream, I wear it before bed every night. It hydrates my under eye area especially after a day of make-up with concealer and setting powder! I have also used a sample size of the Skyn Iceland icelandic relief eye cream and it's just as good.


I've always seen people rave about this product. As they should because it is amazing! That's all I have to say. It comes in powder form and you just add water. But I use water and ACV. I leave it on till it dries and then rinse off with warm water. It does leave your skin a little red after, which they advise on their packaging. However, it goes away in minutes. I use this mask about once a week. I sometimes make my own DIY mask from turmeric, honey, lemon, and water. Good for breakouts plus balance and brighten skin.


I do these steps every day in the order I shared it in. Consistency is key of course. And I obviously skip the coconut oil on days I have no make-up on. Aside from a good moisturizer I also used to have a good serum or oil for extra hydration - especially for overnight. The one I had ran out so I'm on the lookout for other ones. To be honest I've done so much research on essential oils that in December I almost bought a bunch from amazon just to make my own DIY serum. I think I might revisit that because I love that you can combine different oils to create a match for the specific problem area you want to target. Otherwise, I've had my eye on Forever Flawless Beauty Oil. Lastly, rose water is amazing to just spray on your face for added hydration (especially after a workout). I got mine at a shop called Flower Power in the village. But you can find one easily on amazon or target.

I want to add that I also eat healthy and drink tons of water. H2O does amazing things for your skin! I try to get as close as possible to a gallon a day.

I hope this is helpful!






My End of Month Recap: January

I don't know about ya'll but January was MY month. Yes, its a new year, blah blah. I feel like everyone is always hella excited and pumped in January because of this. But a lot of my excitement behind this month has to do with the seeds I planted last year that are now growing. After quitting my job last year, I decided to freelance full-time as a photographer. I'm still learning the ropes but I've never been happier being able to fully invest in myself.

In December I wrote down some things I wanted to accomplish. I had just gotten back to my workout routine after hurting my back and being basically out of order the whole month of November. I felt good and ready to show myself how much more I can grow. I had just gotten my planner from Planning Collective and was super excited because one of the things I loved about it was the section for each month where you can write down Things I'm Executing and Things Im Leaving Behind. How great is that? It was totally aligned with my vision for 2018. I wanted to have a clear idea of what it is I wanted to accomplish. I truly believe in the power of writing things down. I have been journaling for years and one of the things I enjoy the most is looking back at those journals and seeing some of the goals I wrote down that are now a reality for me.

Anyway back to how I feel about January. I want to share with you guys some of the things I wrote down in my planner:

Things I'm executing:

  • Early mornings
  • Drink more water
  • 70lbs squat (at least 5 reps)
  • Bigger meals (more carbs)
  • Morning meditation
  • Blogging
  • Practice release

Things I'm Leaving Behind:

  • sleeping late
  • skipping breakfast


I'm the type of person that focuses on what they want rather than what they don't want. But it is good to notice the things that aren't serving you. I'm so happy because I accomplished all those things on my list.

I have been waking up earlier. To clarify, I always wake up early because I take my daughter to school but I would come back home and sleep in more. My goal was to make more use of my day by pushing myself to stay up. I did this sometimes by just going straight to the gym after dropping her off. That way I was far far away from my bed as possible. Which helped me stop sleeping so late (and also not skip breakfast because I was busy snoozing). I mean, for a while at the end of 2017 I felt like a zombie. I think I slept at 2-3am every day in December. But now I'm back to like 12am. On a good day 11pm. 

As far as drinking more water, well I drink almost a gallon a day. I carry my Contigo bottle with me all day. Four refills of that bad boy equals a gallon - most days I drink three. Still working on getting to four! Downside: I feel like a 2-year-old who always has to pee. Upside: My skin is hella glowing!!

At the beginning of last summer I started being really consistent with my fitness. I wanted to see what my body would look like if I gave it 100% and not be on and off with it. I reached my 70lbs squat goal last week and yesterday I managed to do 90lbs!! I was so hype. So this month I already goaled myself to reach 120lbs! I am trying to build muscle so weight training is everything for me. And this brings me to my next goal, eating more. I committed to eating bigger meals. Ever since last year I have tremendously improved my healthy eating lifestyle. It's no longer a challenge for me to eat clean. But on most days I am running around like a maniac. Between being a mom, gym, photoshoots, school and just attending events, I am always on the go. Therefore even though I have been eating well, I don't eat enough. I don't skip meals or anything, but in order to gain muscle mass I had to readjust and eat more carbs.

Let's get personal.

Last year I was in a delicate mental space. Everything affected me profoundly. All my struggles felt immense. One phone call with my mom and I would spiral into a deep sadness and felt almost immobile. I realized I was holding too much space for people who weren't going to change their ways. I let other's circumstances get the best of me and my mental health. Granted, these are people I care about, but it doesn't mean we get to lose ourselves in another person's trouble. I realized I can still feel for people, I can be understanding and come from love while protecting my space. I wasn't serving anyone by allowing it to take away from my joy. But it was easier said than done. So last month I decided that I'd put in the work. For me it meant meditating in the morning and practicing release. By that I mean just releasing myself from the idea that I have to carry someone else's pain and drama. I didn't fully know how I'd release myself from it. But as the days passed I started noticing where I could practice release. For me it showed up as being 100% committed to my fitness, it showed up as praying for someone I cared about while releasing myself from the suffering, it showed up as telling a family member that I no longer wanted to speak of the same issues every time we spoke. Somehow just those seemingly small steps have been so significant. I feel so much lighter because I'm not carrying around all this baggage that was seeping into my mental health and not to mention my relationship.

    This month I also got to start on some really exciting ideas that I plan to execute throughout the next few months. One of them came about spontaneously with my friend Lori. We began a series, if you will, called More Than A Mom where we go on IG live (biweekly) and discuss ways that we manage being a mom and our own boss. We are both very passionate about the idea that moms can do so much more than what society expects them to. We are fully capable of being a badass business woman and a badass mom. So we decided to share our success stories, our struggles, what tools we use to get by daily and how we support each other to grow further. It's something I am personally driven to speak on because so many limiting beliefs were placed on me from people I cared about when I began to expand on my many roles and not conform to just having a 9-5 and be a mother. So keep an eye out for our next one! I also am working on many amazing things for my personal project Own Your Pajón that I can't wait to share!


    Anyway, I wanted to be open and talk about my journey and my struggles. I hope it inspires someone, but mostly I find it so therapeutic to write about your growth.

    So here's what worked for me this month:

    1. Writing down my goals
    2. Taking time to plan out my week every Sunday
    3. Making effective lists: what needs to be done ASAP vs what can be done by end of week
    4. Making more meals at home
    5. Being my word to myself


    Be patient with your growth. A lot of the things I have noticed about myself this month have truly surprised me. I've honestly though to myself, who is this new me? And then I realized, I know who the hell this is, this is the woman that grew out of all the seeds I planted last year. 

    And I'm still growing.







    Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    Ok so I've pretty much turned into Betty Crocker on my Instagram. There's no looking back now. I don't know why y'all keep trusting me with recipes. Maybe because I haven't died yet. So here we are, another healthy treat for those that want to experiment in the kitchen like moi.

    Just FYI as much as I'm into my fitness journey, y'all don't have to make this the healthy way. Many of the ingredients can be replaced with other options that aren't as "healthy" so use this as a guide, if you will.

    Also I made two versions of this, one with chocolate chips for my daughter and one with raisins. Pick your evil ; )

    Ok let's get into it.



    • butter (I use earth balance vegan butter)
    • brown sugar
    • vanilla extract
    • cinnamon powder
    • nutmeg
    • 1 egg white
    • wheat flour
    • baking powder
    • baking soda
    • rolled oats
    • flax seeds
    • walnuts
    • raisins or chocolate chips
    • peanut or almond butter

    What you'll need:

    • large bowl
    • big spoon
    • whisk
    • small bowl
    • cookie sheet

    What I did:

    As always, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next grab your small bowl and mix in some brown sugar and butter. If your butter is too cold melt it in the microwave for a few seconds this way it's easier to whisk it with the sugar. 

    Once that's good and mixed, add one egg white, powdered cinnamon and some nutmeg. Whisk that some more and put it aside for now. In your large bowl, put about 1 3/4 cup of wheat flour, 1 cup of rolled oats, and 3/4 cup of flax seeds, a teaspoon of baking powder and baking soda. Now grab the small bowl with the sugar and butter and pour that into the larger bowl. With a large spoon fold all the ingredients together. It will be chunky which is okay.

    Once you've mixed in it a bit, throw in a spoonful of peanut or almond butter. Crush a few walnuts and add those in as well. At this point you can also add in either your raisins or chocolate chips.

    Keep mixing that up until it's all good and chunky. Now get your cookie sheet and if you'd like put a strip of wax paper or spray it with coconut oil or any non-stick spray. You want to basically grab a large spoonful of the mixture and place on the cookie sheet about half inch apart. These cookies won't spread much at all, so don't worry about making too much space between them.

    In my oven they baked for about 20 minutes. Just make sure you're checking up on them. These aren't your typical chewy cookies, so don't expect that. You an either bake them to be crunchy or just enough so that the outer part is crunchy and the inside is soft. Up to you.

    Side note: This is the second batch of these I make. The first time I used regular brown sugar but this time I used "dark brown sugar" which is why the cookies look dark. They're not burnt. Okurrr?

    So there you go, now put your apron on, make these babies, and tag me (@melzlookwellz) if you do.

    Comment with any questions or suggestions!







    My project: Own Your Pajón

    Yesterday I went live on my Instagram to sort of formally introduce myself to my audience and speak about my ongoing project Own Your Pajón. I then received messages from several people saying they loved it and expressing their interest in the project. Of course IG won't let us be great and after 24 hours my live video expired and a few who didn't get to see the video were curious about my project. So I decided to share more about it here for those of you who are curious and also to just be able to further communicate my intention with it.

    As some of you may know, I have an 8-year-old daughter. She has a sassy personality that matches perfectly with her bold head of hair; it's super curly, kinky, thick and just about any hair stylist's nightmare to detangle. Growing up my mom always told me I had a pajón (pronounced pa-HONE). A pajón is a word used in the Dominican Republic to describe hair that is unruly, kinky and just has a mind of its own. So you understand that if my mom said that to me it meant go fix your hair. Lol.

     This is my daughter, Leyanna, 8 yrs old. Shot for  #OwnYourPajón

    This is my daughter, Leyanna, 8 yrs old. Shot for #OwnYourPajón

    In Dominican culture, as well as in many Latin countries, it is common to idolize the European standards of beauty: straight or blonde hair. So having curly or kinky hair is typically looked down upon and is believed to need "fixing". Hence young girls getting relaxers in their hair straight out the womb.

    All that said, I wanted to embrace the word pajón. Thats how this project came about. I no longer wanted that word to mean something negative to me or any other Dominican girl/woman. I want my daughter to understand that her hair is not a problem, nor is it "pelo malo" (bad hair) - another term I highly dislike.

    I began photographing women of color from Dominican heritage who felt that this project resonated with them. On my IG live I shared how this project is a longterm thing for me and it's still in its early stages. But I am so excited to share the journey with y'all!

    What I have loved the most is the stories I get to hear from the women I have photographed. They tell me about their history, what it has been like finally embracing their natural hair and also how for some of them their families STILL criticize their hair and their decision to go natural.

    So yes, there are a lot of moving pieces to this project. It is not just about the photographs, it is about the stories. And how as a culture we need to shift from only accepting one form of beauty and not embracing our roots as afro-latinos. It is about opening a dialogue to discuss things like colorism and how we only see one standard of beauty, fair complexion and straight hair, even on our TV channels and advertisements!

    What's next?

    Well, as I also said on the video I shared on my IG live, my intention is to take Own Your Pajón to the Dominican Republic this summer. To tell the stories of women there and help bring their message to the forefront. For now I am continuing to photograph women and document their stories. I also have other exciting things coming for this project that I can wait to share ! Like, my heart has been racing all day!!

    Again thank you to everyone who has been following along and to those that are just learning about this thank you for being interested! I hope you guys stay tuned because this is (as Solange said) For Us, By Us.





    OYP logo image.png

    Banana Bread Recipe

    So I made this banana bread for the first time last week and several people reached out to me asking for the recipe. Let me just say that although I was flattered, I don't measure anything (I'm Dominican, we don't measure when we cook) and my inspo came from an online recipe I googled. I then added my own twist with other ingredients I felt would make it even more bomb (and healthy). So here's my attempt at pleasing y'all with a list of ingredients and a rough estimate of the amount I used of each. FYI my banana bread came out amazingggg! I do not guarantee the same for everyone, lolz, but if yours does come out great please tag me (@melzlookwellz) and also share some or something, you know. ; )



    • wheat flour (~ 1 3/4 cups)
    • wheat bran (~ 1/2 cup)
    • 2-3 (very ripe) bananas
    • walnuts
    • vanilla extract
    • flax seeds
    • cinnamon powder
    • coconut oil
    • honey
    • nutmeg
    • chia seeds
    • baking soda
    • baking powder
    • almond milk
    • 3 eggs
    • salt

    What you'll need:

    • large mixing bowl
    • small bowl
    • whisk
    • fork
    • large spoon
    • some kind of meat tenderizer or mallet...
    • loaf pan

    What I did:

    First off, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm not responsible if y'all burn down your kitchen.

    In your large mixing bowl add one large spoonful of coconut oil (I use this one) and some honey. The photos demonstrate about how much I use of each. I measure with my eye and my taste buds. Whisk the coconut oil and honey together. Next, add two egg whites (because, protein) and one whole egg (because, you still need some fat) into the bowl and beat well.

    Let that sit aside. In your small bowl add two of your three bananas. Make sure they are very ripe, like black spots and allllll that. The ugliest banana you've ever seen, okay? Then add some unsweetened almond milk and mash the bananas. You can use a fork for this. 

    Sidenote: The first time I baked this I actually blended the two bananas and the almond milk. Both ways are okay, I personally liked mashing it because it resulted in a more moist bread...but my first one was perfectly moist too. Just depends on what you're going for.

    Moving on, add the mashed bananas and milk to the large bowl and whisk it into the mix. Now add a little baking powder and a little baking soda - FYI you can use only baking soda if you want; I saw a recipe that said only baking soda and one that said use both. Do you boo boo. I then added a splash of vanilla extract and hella cinnamon. Also add a pinch of salt. Whisk it all together.

    Okay, so now put the whisk down and grab a large spoon for this next step. Pour in some wheat flour (I found this one at my local Key Food) into the large bowl and fold it into the mix with the spoon. Then add some wheat bran, flax seeds, chia seeds and continue to gently fold into the mix. Add as much of these ingredients as you like.

    So remember that third banana? Slice it up and also add to the mix. Using the spoon just keep folding the sliced banana in. You can very lightly mash it while you mix it in, I do this step so that larger banana chunks bake into the bread for that gooey texture.

    Now grab some nutmeg and sprinkle some into the bowl. Once thats all good and mixed, grab a small strip of wax paper and add about 6-8 walnuts on it. You'll need a meat tenderizer or mallet for this next step. You're gonna crush those walnuts into smaller pieces. I said 6-8 walnuts but you can really add as much as you want. Fold that into the mix and now your batter is complete!!

    Yay! Now to the baking part. Y'all preheated the oven right? Okay, so now pour your batter into your loaf pan. I recommend you fill it about 3/4 of the way. If y'all never baked before, this is because the bread needs space to rise.

    I sprinkle some more cinnamon on top and then add more walnuts but not as crushed as before. Only because I want bigger pieces that will bake into the top of the loaf.

    Bake the bread for 55-60 minutes. Don't forget to check on it though, every oven is different! I check mine at about 30 and then 50 minutes. At the 50 minute mark I use a knife to slide in the loaf and check if its fully cooked inside. Y'all can use a toothpick like you're supposed to, I'm just regular-degular. Ideally you'll want the knife to come back clean, but because it's a moist bread, it should be a little sticky. Use your judgment. For the last 10 minutes I cover the bread with aluminum foil to avoid over browning it on the top. Then let it bake for the last 10 minutes.

    Now go get a pretty plate and cut yourself a slice, then snap a pretty pic and tag me! (@melzlookwellz on IG).






    This weekend I attended my friend Salvador Espinoza's exhibition where he showcased his series of photographs that features around the bus that travels to Riker's Island; the exhibition was titled Q100 after the MTA bus. It was a great night with music, poetry, and progressive conversations happening all around the room. Miles Hodges gave a special spoken word performance and discussed his involvement with this massive correctional facility that houses thousands of inmates. Salvador and I first met at my first gallery show and is a fellow photographer who I admire for his consistency, storytelling, and, black & white work. The show will be on view until January 15th at Qns Collective in Astoria, Queens.

    I linked up with my friend Jennifer early on Thanksgiving morning and took a walk at the Long Island City pier in Queens. Afterwards we enjoyed a latte at a local coffee shop called Sweetleaf. I photographed her using my Canon 5D Mark iii + 85mm f/1.8 - a lens I have grown to love and has become a favorite!