“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”-Isaac Asimov
Welcome to my Very Mel Lo Life
I started this blog because I have so many ideas on how to live a fabulous, meaningful, and happy life, without spending frivolously. It is possible to dress trendy, have a beautifully decorated home and create fun & festive memories while still being financially responsible; as well as planning for your and your family’s future. I am married and have two daughters. My husband and I make a good living in our respective careers, but are wise enough to hunt for bargains, limit debt and still live a pretty amazing life without added financial stress.
I absolutely love to dress up and create festive and beautiful moments for myself and my family, and often my social media posts garner a lot of attention from friends asking “where did you get that?”, “that’s so beautiful”, or “that dish looks amazing!” I have no problem telling anyone that I got my dress for $5 at Walmart!
I grew up in a very low income household, so as soon as I started making my own money I thought designer bags were everything and would spend a lot of money to have them. I quickly realized, that the bags didn’t add to my happiness. In all honesty, I was only buying them to impress people whose opinion of me didn’t really matter to begin with. Now I’m happier when I find a really good deal and get excited about putting together cute & trendy inexpensive looks. My self worth doesn’t depend on anyone’s opinion of me or my Target handbag. I don’t feel the need to impress strangers at this point in my life, unless its with my talents or about business! Not to say I don’t enjoy a bit of luxury every now and then, but I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. In hindsight, I wish I had saved the money I spent on bags that went out of style and collected dust.
I’m all about family and cooking, and I love to make yummy and delicious meals and snacks for them, and often dress up dinner on fancy plates with themed decorations. I try to find joy in the little things and create memories out of the seemingly most mundane of activities, such as dinner. If you are looking for a lot of health foods, you definitely won’t find that here. We are a meat & potatoes type family and please don’t be stingy with the cheese!
If you are looking to live frugally fabulous with your family, dress well, cook amazing meals, take care of your gorgeous curls and overall decorate your life and still build your 401K; you’ve come to the right place. My very first suggestion is to stop trying to impress people and worrying about their opinions. Happiness and contentment starts from within and when you lay a good foundation for yourself and your family and lose the unnecessary need to impress. Once you know who you are, what you are about, what your values are and stop living for approval of irrelevant people; you are unstoppable and life becomes a lot less stressful!
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Very Mel Lo Blog Posts
- Switching Focus
It felt so good to open the door to my kitchen and step out on the beautiful patio that I have been planning and working on for months. Time constraints and weather setbacks made it tougher to get it completed, but I can finally relax and enjoy it. Yes, I love the way it turned out, but the finished product is much more than what meets the eye. This project was a shift in focus for me, a way to feel a sense of accomplishment and push myself in a different direction, an escape from the stress of being an “influencer” with a career and a family who was on the verge of a complete burnout.
Anyone who follows me on social media, may have noticed that I scaled back heavily in regards to my curly hair YouTube videos, Tik Tok, Instagram, Amazon Influencer program, and even this blog. It may come as a surprise since I had been sharing so many amazing opportunities that had come my way so quickly. My videos on YouTube have generated thousands and thousands of views and began running ads, and coupled with my social media accounts, I was receiving hair products in the mail almost every day from companies looking for content. I had finally begun getting paid for my posts, and affiliate marketing along with my Amazon store was becoming a nice side hustle.
So what happened? Why would I stop something when I was finally getting noticed and paid? Well, it suddenly stopped being fun. I started all of this, not necessary thinking it would lead to a full time career, but I thought I’d get some free hair stuff just for posting pics and having fun. It was going great, but I became completely overwhelmed. Taking photos and creating videos is not as “easy” as it looks. The set up, the editing, the lighting, the planning, the outfits, the whole process can take hours sometimes and many times there are deadlines you have to meet with brands. I was doing this for multiple products and for Amazon as well. During this time I was also in the middle of a career transition. I started working in a new law firm, learning real estate law which can be extremely stressful and my work hours completely changed from what I was used to.
While trying to juggle my new office life, and “influencing” I was missing out on family time. On weekends I would have to tell my little one that I couldn’t play because I had to make videos, or I had to do my makeup and my hair. I would be filming for hours while sacrificing so much of our life. The turning point was a few hours after I posted a video on Instagram that I felt obligated to do. I was tired, I really didn’t feel like doing my hair, but I was getting paid to create this “ad”. A few hours later I received a message from a follower asking me if I was “ok”. I was taken back by this question. So I inquired to why she would think that I wasn’t ok. Her response was, “It might just be me, but your smile is not reaching your eyes. It’s not that big, cheery, make you squint your eyes kinda smile, like you always do.” I was stunned. She was right. I looked back at the video and couldn’t believe how disinterested and bored I looked. It really hit me that I just wasn’t into creating another hair video. The whole thing became so overwhelming and stressful that it became a chore. I was putting so much effort into it, that it began to suck the fun out of it.
I realized that I needed to take a break from creating content. I switched my focus to things that I had been neglecting; my home life, my family, and my rest. So, what have I been keeping myself occupied with? My REAL life! I stopped obsessing over having perfect curls, I wore a lot less makeup, I work out every day, and I started spending time on the weekends watching Miraculous Ladybug with my daughters and sharing a beer with my husband on the couch. I started binge watching The Vampire Diaries at night and working on the project of transforming my patio in my free time. I planned it all out and as I stained my deck, it took my focus away from the deadlines and away from everything really. Although it was a lot of work, it brought me some peace and a sense of accomplishment in creating something that me and my family would enjoy this summer. It was real life and I didn’t feel pressured into documenting every second of it.
I think I will slowly ease myself into creating and posting more content, but I won’t let it control my life. I want to keep it as a fun hobby as I intended it to be. I have a great respect for content creators that do it as their job, but it’s not something that I want to be. I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to prove myself, having to always be “hustling & grinding” having to constantly show what I have accomplished, what I can do, what my hair looks like, where I got my outfit from, etc. The whole, “hustle, grind, and no days off” culture can be so toxic. The notion that you always have to be working and “accomplishing” things can easily lead to a burnout if you’re not careful. I realized that having a more laid back life where I focus on my home, my family, and my peace, and occasionally posting my content is much more fulfilling. I realized that everything I ever needed and wanted is literally right in front of me and the “extra” isn’t worth the time I was losing.
- Easy Italian Inspired Dinner Your Family Will Love!
I’m kinda obsessed with the yummy flavors of Caprese salad and often make it as a snack for me and my husband. I even got my finicky 16 year old to love it as well. Recently, as I was contemplating what would be on our dinner menu that evening, I had a craving for Caprese and created my dinner around it. The result was a delicious, light yet filling dinner full of savory Italian flavors my family devoured.
Here’s all the stuff you need! (Easy to adjust ingredients depending on the amount of people you plan to serve.)
- Large tomato sliced
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Fresh Basil chopped
- Balsamic vinaigrette (I love Newman’s Own Honey Balsamic)
On a large serving dish alternate the sliced mozz cheese and tomato slices. Sprinkle the chopped basil over the top and drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette. Easy peasy!
Bread & Dipping Oil:
- Pillsbury French Loaf (obviously you can use any fresh bread you like)
- Flavored Olive Oil (you can buy garlic and other flavored olive oil at the grocery store or make your own by adding garlic and spices to plain olive oil and let it soak in the flavors for a few days at least.)
I always have Pillsbury bread loafs and biscuits in my fridge because they are so simple to make and there are so many things you can do with them! The french loaf bakes at 350 for about 25 min. You can pop it in the oven while you prepare the rest of your meal. Serve it on the same large dish as the Caprese with the dipping oil on the side.
Savory Italian chicken tenders:
- Olive oil for frying, about 2-3 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons butter
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Italian salad dressing
- chicken tenders (I used a pound for 3 people, adjust accordingly)
In a large non stick frying pan heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder over chicken tenders (to taste). Add chicken to hot oil and fry on each side for a few minutes. Pour Italian salad dressing over chicken and cover pan. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve on the same large dish as bread & Caprese.
Seriously, you will not believe how easy this dinner is to put together, or how much you and your fam will love it!
- 7 Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day During the Pandemic
Valentines day is almost upon us, and even though we are still in the midst of the Covid pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate and bring some V-Day love into your home for you and your family.
1.) Decorate!: If you have been following my blog you know how much I love to decorate for every holiday. I find joy in creating pretty, festive and cozy spaces or every holiday. It gives me something to look forward to and since we are stuck at home more during the pandemic, it’s fun to switch up the scenery. You can find some cute Valentine’s decorations at great prices at Big Lots, Michael’s and of course, Amazon!
2.) Valentine’s Cupcakes: Making cupcakes for any occasion or holiday is a fun and easy way to celebrate with the kiddos. If your children are like mine, they love to bake and especially decorate cupcakes. Bake your fave cake flavor and let them frost with pink, white, red and chocolate frosting and top with candy hearts and sprinkles. You can find a nice selection of cake decorations at Michael’s and even your grocery store.
3.) Dress up: I love dressing for the occasion and Valentines day is such an easy holiday to dress for, just add some RED! Amazon has some really cute V-Day tees that you can dress up or down. Click the photo to shop this look. I also have a bunch of adorable red dresses and heart printed pieces you will love on my Valentine’s Day Outfit List on my Amazon Storefront.
4.) V-Day Cards and Crafts: Valentine’s day would not be complete without paper hearts and cards! Crafting is always fun for creative little hands and minds, so spread out some colorful construction paper, markers, glitter and glue and let your little ones create “love”ly masterpieces that you can hang up. Don’t forget to mail some to your family and friends to spread the V-Day love. Nothing more special than a handmade card, especially since we don’t get to see each other in person as much anymore. While your at it, you can get in on the card making action too and share some special hand made cards with your girlfriends!
5.) Love Movie Nights: Pop some popcorn, grab some candy and blanket, and snuggle on the couch with your fam to watch some classic love movies. Some great ideas for kids are of course Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp. Teens will love 10 Things I Hate About You and Sixteen Candles. You and your partner can find some sweet rom-coms on Netflix when the kids are in bed!
6.) Romantic Valentine’s Day Picnic: I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into going to restaurants these days, and there’s no way in heck I’m waiting in a long line to be seated for a Valentine’s Day dinner. Instead, I am planning a romantic dinner for 2 on my living room floor with my husband (while the little one is at grandma’s). Just spread out a soft blanket, light some candles, play some romantic music you both love, pop a bottle of champagne and just enjoy each other’s company. You can order take-out, do curbside pick up, or cook together! For lighter dining, you can make a charchuterie board and some chocolate covered strawberries. Your only limit is your culinary imagination.
7.) Valentine’s Day Breakfast: Since V-Day falls on Sunday this year, what a sweet surprise it will be to wake your family up to a special breakfast full of heart shaped pancakes, chocolate syrup, strawberries, cinnamon rolls and all the morning yum you can think of. Be sure to put your breakfast goodies on a festive table cloth complete with V-Day paper goods, “Hello dollar store!” I will use this time to give my daughter’s the sweet teddy bears and gifts I got for them. I just love to spread the love!
How will you spend this Valentines day? Share with me some more fun ideas you may have and be sure to subscribe for more sweet and easy ways to celebrate the holidays and so much more!
- Note to Self: It’s OK to Relax
Being a wife, mother, having a career in a demanding legal field while being a content creator is absolutely exhausting. I constantly feel like I’m being pulled in different directions and have different roles to play in each direction. I have always been a perfectionist and push myself every day to be productive and strive to be the “perfect” wife, mom, daughter, friend, person. I love to cook fancy meals for my family, make my husband happy & proud, be the caring & supportive mother to my 15 year old while being the sweet and cuddly “Mama” to my 3 year old. I like to have my house in order, to decorate, wear the stylish outfits with my hair and makeup “just so”. But it’s not only my personal life that I hold to this standard, I want the WORLD to be perfect. Watching the news, reading articles on current events, knowing there are people struggling that I know, or haven’t even met, can cause me a great deal of distress & inner turmoil. I wish I could “save the world” so to speak and I carry so much stress upon me and even the burden of others, that it can, and has, physically made me feel sick.
I’m the type of person who can’t relax if there are dishes in the sink or crumbs on the counter. I hold myself and honestly everyone around me to the highest standard and often become incredibly disappointed if I, or they, don’t make the mark. It’s just my personality, and although I am happy with my life and who I am, sometimes, I too, get burnt out. I work full time and I rarely schedule time for relaxing. I think of all the things I can accomplish in my free time, like film a hair tutorial, take photos in outfits for my Amazon Shop, or create content for brands. If I don’t use my free time “wisely” I get very frustrated and feel like a lazy failure. I will often talk negatively to myself and put so much pressure and unrealistic expectations on my everyday life. I push myself A LOT.
I have come to realize that it’s OK to take a day off, or even two. It’s OK to not be everything to everyone today, and tomorrow can wait. Relaxing doesn’t make me lazy, it’s necessary for my mental and physical health. The world will not stop if I take a day off, my sponsors will not abandon me if I don’t create content every single day. My true followers won’t desert me if I’m not constantly posting. My office work will still be there in the morning. Thank God for my amazing husband who helps me with the burdens of the household and encourages me to slow down while showing me every day that he appreciates and is proud of everything I do.
I’m still a mother, I’m still a wife, I’m still an experienced and skilled paralegal, I’m still a content creator and blogger. I’m not selfish for taking time away from life’s burdens, I’m still the ambitious, creative, go-getter that I always have been, but today and maybe even tomorrow, I’m taking a break; and you know what? It feels amazing. Take time for yourself, rest and regroup, because you can’t pour from an empty cup and the world needs you at your best.
- Gingerbread House Day! Little Details to Make Christmas Activities Extra Special
Christmas is just around the corner and there’s no better way to celebrate and get into the spirit than by decorating gingerbread houses & gingerbread people. This is a great activity for kids as young as 2 or 3 and for the whole family to enjoy together. Kits can be found at most grocery stores, Walmart, Target, and even craft stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels. I love shopping for holiday baking supplies at Big Lots because they have an awesome selection and their prices are unbeatable.
Make the activity more festive and easy to clean up by using a disposable Christmas tablecloth and fun printed plates. Although the kits usually come with candies to decorate the gingerbread houses, I like to pick up a few more tubes of colored icing, candies and fun sprinkles. Michaels also has a nice variety of cake decorating supplies for your gingerbread masterpieces.
On my table this year I also added a cute ceramic jar full of hot cocoa mix and fun snowman mugs for my girls, so they can sip as they decorate. Although a fun activity to do with kids, this would make a perfect ladies night or party with friends too! You can totally add some Bailey’s to your hot chocolate, or sip on wine and cocktails.
I find that presentation makes a huge difference and I always create fun tablescapes for any activity or when presenting gifts, especially for kids. You don’t have to spend a fortune to create pretty, festive and exciting spaces; the only limit is your imagination.
Now that you have your decorating table and supplies set up, turn up the Christmas music, or play your favorite holiday movie in the background. Remember, when decorating with kids, let them lead the way and enjoy the experience using their creativity. Let them be messy and decorate as they wish!
Enjoy making memories!