December 31, 2014

NYE 2014: 3 Year Review

Happy New Year's Eve Everyone!
I hope that this year has been good to you.  For me, it's been a growing process as how I see everything now...a learning experience.  Not that anything I regret happened or anything I wish I could have done differently, my year was made for me. This coming February will mark 3 years in Texas and I must say, Houston has been good to me.  

I landed an administrative job only a month after moving and since then I've received 3 pay raises and a promotion, plus the bonuses aren't bad either!  Can't complain about that!  My family has the same crazy dynamic, my ex and I are cordial, my kids are comfortable, and my circle of friends is in depth with good quality.  I am learning more about fitness, getting toned, and being healthy.  I also changed the name of my site from to change has been good.  My website is getting more recognition with boutiques contacting me about promoting their stores and others contacting me about advertising their businesses on my site.   

I did not set any 3 year goals, but if I did, I believe this would have been my accomplishment.  As I reflect back on the last 3 years....this has been awesome!  I wish you all the best in 2015!

Outfit Details:
Shoes: Guess
Accessories: Charming Charlie

December 1, 2014

Merry Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone! So here is my "Ugly Sweater" look.  Did you really think I was going to play by the rules? This year, my social group is having an end of the year/holiday party and the theme is Ugly Sweater or Holiday Best.  I am deciding to do both, but the sweater is not the key feature, the skirt is a DIY! Yup, I looked all over the place to purchase a white tutu skirt, but they were either super expensive or took more that 2 weeks for shipping.  I'm a last minute girl, so of course I did not do this ahead of time, so with it now being December and all the holiday parties I plan on attending coming up really quickly, I needed a fab look NOW.  I got the DIY instructions for the skirt on YouTube HERE (you can find anything on YouTube.) This one is the "No Sew Tutu Skirt." I got all my materials from Joann Fabrics for about $25. (6 yards of white tulle fabric, and 1 elastic band.)

October 11, 2014

The Kids

As many social events as I attend, I am still a mother, a single mother at that.  I make a point to take my kids out and have our own social time.  Each weekend, whether a Saturday or Sunday, the kids and I take a few hours away from home.  We go run errands, grab a bite, and do some shopping.

September 15, 2014

Lunch with Urban Swank

Ladies of Urban Swank: (left) Felice and Shanna

Hello everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend! I was battling and still struggling with what I presume is a cold? but any who, on Sunday I joined the ladies of Urban Swank for lunch at Bradley's Fine Diner.  In brief, Urban Swank is a popular lifestyle blog that highlights Houston.  The owners, Shanna and Felice attend and plan social events to ignite local interests about town.  If you check out the website, you can find many informative reviews, video clips, and pictures of what these ladies have their hands on.  The lunch was an open invite for 20 to anyone who wanted to join.  I was honored to be able to sit with these women and chat about upcoming events and plans for MsIndependent and how we could possibly join together in future events. 

For my meal, I ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad compressed with watermelon and goat cheese cream *I added grilled chicken.  It was delicious.  I was at first hesitant of the watermelon flavor with this type of salad, but the sweetness of the fruit and the tang of the cream infused perfectly. 

At the end of the meal, the chef came out, introduced himself and handed out desserts which are freshly made in their kitchen: (left) Strawberry Shortcake, (right) Chocolate Banana Cake, (below) a taste of Bradley's Butterscotch Pudding.  

Below is a video from the Urban Swank website.


September 1, 2014

Sunday with Mini Me

My eldest child and I were able to escape her brother for a few hours so we can spend some Mommy/Mini time.  We went to Barnes & Noble to pick up an new Judy Moody book for her collection and then afterwards we had some brunch at The Cheesecake Factory.  I normally do not take my little one to large restaurant chains because I like for them to appreciate the smaller, independent establishments, but with our time constraints, and The Cheesecake Factory being right across the street from Barnes & Noble, I decided to make an exception.  My daughter went for what she knew best, spaghetti and meatballs, while I ordered the Dynamite Shrimp and Fried Zucchini.  Yummy.


Vanessa's Look:
Top: Target
Pants: Forver21 Kids
Sandals: Target

My Look: 
Skirt: UpScale Boutique
Sandals: Calvin Klein 

Group Dinner + Not So Good Ending

Dress: Styles2Class Boutique (Sold Out)
Chandelier Earrings: Sam Moon
Clutch: DSW
Shoes: Guess

Saturday night the ladies of MsIndependent and I went to dinner at Mr. Peeples to part take in the Houston Restaurant week menu.  There were some issues with reservations and seating. 15 women showed for dinner, but the reservation was only for 8, and the restaurant could not accommodate us at the last minute since it was a busy night (yet, while we were there and before we left I saw many empty tables.....but that's none of my business.) The reservation was set for a small number because the dinner/event host for the group had to give an estimated number for the reservation, and with much experience in setting up meet ups like this, the number tends to be half of the RSVPs who show.  Nonetheless, the ladies and I split, half of us went to the reserved table and the other half gathered at the bar area making our own dinner table.  I sat at the bar area.  The night was going well, the bartender, Christopher, was gracious enough to be our waiter, making sure we were comfortable.  Even the manager (I presume), Daniel, came around and made sure we were enjoying ourselves.  We ate, we chatted, I did not do the 4 course menu for Restaurant Week, I played it simple and had  the Lobster Bisque and the Small Bacon Wrapped Potato appetizer.  It was really good.  The night ended and I said my goodbyes and went over the the reserved table to bid adieu as well. 

BUT, shortly after I arrived home, I received a text message from my friend stating that the ladies at the reserved table had an issue with the manager and were threatened with law enforcement.  Apparently there is a "Reservation Policy" which states that the restaurant will not split checks for a reserved table....WTF??????  This policy was not mentioned when the reservation was made, PLUS it would have been common decency or might I say PROFESSIONAL to mention this to the ladies before they ordered their meals.  When the ladies started to question the policy, the manager (they did not mention his name, so I am not sure if it was Daniel) was loud,  rude, and threatened to call the police on them.  Okay, I may not be a professional in restaurant services, but how uncomfortable is it to know that a manger is arguing with a group of women who did not know the "No Check Splitting Policy", whom did not have any problems all night and up until that moment, were enjoying the experience.  So were the checks split? No, it took a lengthy time because the check had to be paid one by one and calculated as if they were split checks.  So which process would have been easier????

Now, let me say this, the MsIndependent is a large group of over 2000 women in the Houston and surrounding areas and we do many outings at restaurants and other businesses.  We like to target new and/or small establishments to help the businesses gain recognition and to of course for the ladies to have a good time.  Our group will NOT be going back to Mr. Peeples. 

July 27, 2014

Ms. Independent 4th Anniversery

So I know I have mentioned this social group many times, but here it is again in brief: In 2012, when I relocated to Texas, I joined a women's social group called Ms. Independent on  The group consists of positive women who want to meet and network with other similar women.  Since being part of the group, I've met some great ladies and have become really good friends with the founder.  On Saturday, June 26, was the 4th anniversary of this group.  The party was held at Water2Wine which is a very quaint place to sip and purchase wine.

Dress: Forever21 circa 2007 (some things I don't ever throw away)
Shoes: A Gift

Above is the look I was originally going for, but do you ever get in the car after you've spent hours figuring out what to wear, how to do your hair, and which heels to slip into.......and then change your image at the last minute?  See below....

Yup, I ended up switching to sandals and covering my perfectly waved-over-the-eye hair with a hat.

The appetizers were awesome and perfect for the wine.

As part of the main feature of this party, we were able to bottle our own wine with the group's signature label.  I got a red chocolate raspberry port.....mmmmmm.

This is the woman who founded Ms. Independent, Erin Creeks.

Everyone received gift bags and there were raffle prizes as well.  I donated a gift bag full of fashion accessories from my own business.

The RL Style giveaway bag consisted of a make-up brush set, clutch purse, fashion watch with bracelets, designer "H" bracelet, and Blinged bracelets. 

But, of course the night didn't end at Water2Wine; after the party was over, we drove to West Ave and had dinner at Del Frisco's Grille.  I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tacos with a side of Grits with Cajun Lobster Sauce.  The tacos were delicious, but I could not finish the grits.  The ladies and I ate drank and talked.  About what?  Oh, the usual, tv shows, movies, books, kids, fitness, food, dating, and men.  Ladies if you are in Houston, you should join us!

July 26, 2014

Casual + Mixed

Top: Ross
Skirt: Old Navy
Necklace: Target
Purse: Sam Moon
Sandals: Kohl's

We did our Saturday mornings routine, tooke the kids out for some books and ice cream.  Since I take pride in how I present myself to the public, I want my kids to make the same gestures.  Of course with my son still being very young, his choice of clothing is simple, but my daughter is coming to a stage where she wants to match Mommy.

Gabriel's Look: Kohl's
Vanessa's Look: Target

June 9, 2014

Summer + Books

Gold Sandals: Kohl's 
Bracelets: Sam Moon
Sunglasses: Urban Izzy 
Bag: Dooney & Burke

Hello, my darlings! I hope your weekend was well! The family and I enjoyed the sun this weekend and went to Barnes & Noble to pick up some summer reading. The kids are officially out of school and their fun is just beginning. Me, on the other hand, I am flipping through summer ideas for my little ones...water parks, road trips, museums, Disney, etc.  So keep posted to see what adventures we take and what outfits I wear for each memory! 

Kiss kiss, 

-Raya L.  

My son and daughter picked out a few books to start their summer. (I could spend hours at Barnes & Noble just reading through pages and relaxing in the atmosphere.) Reading is a MAJOR deal for me and I want my kids to understand the importance of literature.

Decided to shoot some baskets on Sunday. Yeah, I wasn't really playing anyone considering, I still had my shades on, but it was good to get into some sneakers and run around. 

May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Happy Mother's Day!
Thank you to all those who wished me a great day and sent me very kind words!  Your time was not overlooked and I appreciate it dearly!  The kids and I went to CityCentre and had an early dinner at Ruggles Green.....mmmmmm.  The youngsters played in the open area and enjoyed the warm sunlight. My sister and nephew joined us as well.

Outfit Details:
Top: Upscale Boutique (The Woodlands, TX)
Silk Print Shorts:
Necklace: Kohls
Shoes: Audrey Brooke 
Sunglasses: Urban Lilly