Bacalao and Bachata

22.04.15

bacalao
Sometimes I just get an insane craving for una ensalada de bacalao .. or guisado (with yucca!). It brings back so many memories of the holidays at my aunt’s house and the Caridad Restaurants that graced the neighborhoods near my home. Telling you, there was nothing like dining at a Caridad after a long day. It was like being home, except you’re not the one doing the cooking. The one I frequented often had a jukebox and served the most amazing garlic bread so it was like ‘aaaah, relax, music and good foooood’.
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Every time I listen to bachata music, I’m suddenly overcome by the need to eat an extremely tasty plate of cod fish. It never fails. I was actually on my way home when Piensa en Mi came on the radio, and I turned right back around to the Latin food market to pick up some dry salted cod and yucca. When you miss a place, it’s fun to recreate the experience at home.

If you’d like to make this, here’s what you need (serves 2 – 4)
- 1.5-2 lbs of dry salted cod
- about 8 olives
- one 1/2 tomato
- one 1/2 avocado
- a teaspoon of chopped pimiento
- two eggs
- cilantro
- olive oil
- two large russet potatoes
- two large yucca
- one 1/2 white onion

Rinse your salted cod and let it sit in cold water for about 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When your water is ready, add the cod and let it boil for about 15 minutes or so (You will be boil them twice). In another pot, boil water and add your potatoes and yucca. While these ingredients are on the stove, dice your tomatoes, olives, pimientos and peppers and put them into a bowl. Set aside. Slice your onions and cook them in olive oil until they become translucent. When they’re done, set aside and let them cool. Noe that you have a burner free, boil two eggs. By now your cod should be on its second boil. When they’re done, drain and set aside. Dice your avocados and them to the olives, tomatoes and peppers stirring your ingredients gently. If you’re cod fish and onions have cooled, mix the onions (with the olive oil) with your cod fish in a bowl. Be sure to break up your cod fish into small pieces (shreds) before doing do. Slowly add in your tomatoes, olives, pimientos and peppers into the cod bowl and stir. Set aside. Get your serving plate ready by adding a bed of potatoes and yucca. With a spoon, add the cod salad on top. You can mix it all together but I like my potatoes bites to break up the flavors and consistency. Slice your hard boiled eggs and add as needed or wanted. Drizzle a bit of olive oil. Garnish with cilantro and done.

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Friendships

20.04.15

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(Banana Republic hem dress, Ann Taylor heels and tote, H&M accessories)

Hello muses! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! I helped a friend with a Youtube channel she is about to launch and celebrated the birthday of a very dear friend of mine. But with all the on-camera silliness and gluttonous cake eating, there’s one topic that kept coming up all weekend long – friendships. It seems my friends have reached a point in their lives where they just want to surround themselves with those who have been there with them through thick and thin. Or as one of my friends put it “If you and I aren’t having real talk, then we don’t need to be friends”. They want to keep their circles small and authentic. I couldn’t agree with them more. The friendships I’ve developed over the years (and the ones since childhood) are profoundly important to me. I have some serious road dogs by my side. The kind of friends who lift me up, got my back and will come to my house with a homemade meal when I’m not feeling well. If your friends are not putting in the same TLC into the relationship than you are, it’s time to re-evaluate.
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When it comes to friendships, it’s all about making time as we get older. Like grabbing a drink or spending a few hours shopping the sale racks. It’s the little things that keep the bond strong. With one of my dearest friends in tow, I found this cute dress at Banana Republic and fell in love with the color. At first, I wasn’t too convinced about the shape (Was it going to make me look boxy? Was it going to be too short). My friend’s face of disapproval didn’t help either. But it looked so darn comfortable, I just needed to know if it was going to work. You can never tell on the hanger. Turned out, they didn’t have my size (I’m usually a 4 or a 6). But being the insistent person that I am, I looked at the petite rack (At 5’7″, I never shop in that section). I sealed my eye on the 10 petite. It looked like it may possibly fit so I thought ‘eh, what the heck’. Even though my friend gave it the side eye 100 times, I tried it on. Surprisingly, it fit. Since it was a petite, the waist was higher and the bottom was wider giving my hips plenty of room. Who knew? My friend still didn’t love it but she agreed it looks much better on. As I contemplated the purchase of this dress (because I over-think things), we talked about body image and what we feel suits us, what doesn’t and going out of comfort zones when it comes to style. Because that’s what girlfriends do, right? Whether it’s shopping for a dress or dealing with a difficult situation, there’s nothing like the love of a solid, good friend to share the short and long journeys with. If you have a friend you need to reach out to but never find the time, make the time. A simple call or a cup of coffee is all it takes.

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(Interview) an organic and sweet experience

16.04.15

icecream
Mmmmmm. Doesn’t this look a-ma-zing? This delicious stack of goodness is all organic and tastes so good, you won’t feel an ounce of guilt enjoying each scoop. Not only will this strawberry, mint and chocolate pretzel cone get your taste buds going but the story behind this treat is just as sweet … with a sprinkle of inspiration for those of you who dream of starting your own business.
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I share a special relationship with my mom and always dreamt that one day we would launch our own business together so when I heard about Ann and Beth (mom and daughter business duo) of Beachy Cream, I really wanted to meet them. I interviewed them this past weekend and got to taste a few of their delicious ice cream and gluten-free cookie recipes. I’d say it was an afternoon well spent.
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Why did you go into business together?
Ann (mom): I had careers doing other things and I wanted to do something that was different and fun. I had this idea … I wanted to do ice cream like I remember from my childhood. Real ice cream. But done in a newer, healthier and organic way.
Beth (daughter): I had a clothing business. A friend and I met at a baby class and decided to make baby clothes. I was also the (ice cream) taster. We started promoting through event planners and catering in Malibu. We were the only ones doing what we were doing … with pin up girls and organic ice cream. My mom was focusing on the recipes and I started helping with social media and promoting events … bugging people until they finally gave in! Then we opened up in Santa Monica and we’ve been here for three years.

My childhood ice cream was Mister Softee (so not organic)! Why did you choose organic as opposed to the recipes many of us grew up with?

Ann: When I read about all the things that are in non-organic foods like pesticides, hormones … I started to eat in a more organic way. So if I am going to make food products, it has to reflect my beliefs and my values.
organic icecream beacy cream - theArtMuse
Did you notice any changes in your health and well-being when you went organic?
Ann: I think it’s partially mind and partially body. I think I’m remarkably healthy for my age, and I have a lot of energy. I have to have a lot of energy to run this business. Not only do we have this but we sell in 55 stores – In the five years since we’ve been doing this. When we started we knew nothing about starting a business and the food industry. It was really hard to figure things out with the health dept, the city … how to buy ingredients and manage production. In addition to learning from doing it, we attended a lot of conferences. So now I’m teaching a class for those who want to start a food business so they can get the benefit of this advice in one place.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to take their passion project to the next level?

Ann: Find a mentor. Somebody who has gone through it themselves. You are always going to make mistakes when you start a business, but the more you information you can get, the better off you will be. In general, unless you’re really passionate about what you’re doing you’re not going to be successful. It’s really hard to start a business. There are going to be times you want to give up. But if you have that passion and that feeling that you have to do this no matter what – then those are the keys to success.

I had a really great time with Beth and Ann. They were so welcoming and passionate about their product and proof that you must truly believe in what you’re doing in order to be successful. They went in there and learned everything they could about the industry. They networked and came up with fun marketing ideas that fit their vision and style. For example, the pin-up girls branding comes from their appreciation of simpler times. You know, when going to the ice cream shop was a perfectly fine idea for a date? You guys know how much I love a less is more kind of life. This is totally my kind of place (Oh, and did I mention that the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies were awesome?)

Want to try that sexy little ice cream sandwich? You can check them out at their storefront in Santa Monica or at stores like Gelson’s and Wholefoods (You must try their vegan coconut ice-cream!). Or if you’re interested in learning more about starting your own food business, take a class with Ann!

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the lunch date

13.04.15

THML boho chic dress
(THML dress, Zara shoes old similar, Ann Taylor tote)

Hello lovely muses! I hope you all had a beautiful weekend. I actually got to enjoy some rest (why are naps so amazing?) and sunshine in Santa Monica. I think I broke a record – I actually went to the west side twice in one week. I’ve become one of those LA people who just sticks to their corner of the world and dreads the freeway. A few lifetimes ago, I actually dabbled in acting and sat in traffic for hours running from one audition to the next. I guess my then passion for the craft made the 405 more bearable. Once that was gone, the freeways became just as fun as sitting in a mall parking lot on a hot summer day. I was over it and decided that sticking to my cozy little surroundings is more my thing – unless I’m going to a special place that requires filling up my tank or getting on a plane. However, the problem with sticking to comfy suburban(ish) life is that you lose the ability to function on a busy boulevard as a driver. I went to Cecconi’s in West Hollywood for a client ‘lunch date’ with friends and co-workers and embarrassingly got lost. It’s on Melrose. No one should get lost on Melrose. It’s really not that complicated. As a person who grew up in New York, I felt highly ashamed of myself for becoming so comfortable. But once I got home, I was over that feeling as well. There’s nothing like the serenity of my neighborhood filled with quaint restaurants and boutiques. No fuss. Simple. Peaceful.
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Simplifying my life has highly influenced my personal style. I love clothes and all things beautiful, but it can’t be a big production. I love the idea of throwing on a dress and heading out the door, which makes this outfit so perfect. I wore this THML embroidered tank dress (love the Mandarin inspired collar!) to Cecconi’s, and I have to say that it’s a lot easier to be in stuck in traffic and lost when you’re comfortable. Was that my motto ten years ago? Not at all. When it comes to style, you have to go with what works for you and your lifestyle.

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grandes maestros

10.04.15

naturalhistorymuseum
As I mentioned in my #WeAllGrow Summit post, I was the host for one of the field trips to the Natural History Museum. A group of us were given a lovely tour by the museum’s education department of their permanent collections and their current exhibition GRANDES MAESTROS: GREAT MASTERS OF IBEROAMERICAN FOLK ART. I have to make it back to the museum with my guys. The exhibition was so beautiful and rich, I beamed with Latin American pride. The exhibition includes more than 800 works made by approximately 600 of the most accomplished artists from 22 countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela as well as Spain and Portugal.
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Of course the pieces from Puerto Rico and Ecuador warmed my heart, and made me wish I could just fly to both places to see my family. This vejigante carnival mask (made of paper mache with a history that dates back to the 1700s) looks like one of many I collected from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. The beautiful colors represent what the Caribbean spirit is all about, and I love that it was included in the exhibit.
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When I was child, my mother had several wooden sculptures from her visit to Ecuador of a man and woman working. The image of the couple working peacefully together always stayed with me as a symbol of love and unity. They were both so beautiful and calm. Growing up in NY in a busy household, I recall finding moments of stillness and quiet in those sculptures. During my last visit to Ecuador, I actually found a similar sculpture set and brought it back with me. Something about it feels like home. When I saw Ecuador represented in Grandes Maestros, I had to stop and take in every little detail. How beautiful are those two women sitting on the bench?
naturalhistorymuseum
There are tons of beautiful textiles throughout … Because really, you cannot represent Latina America without showing extraordinary bead and stitch work. Same goes for craftsmanship. These jaguars took my breath away. Not only because they’re so beautifully done but because jaguars are actually my spirit/power animal – Eccentric, proud creatures who are capable of achieving greatness as long as they can keep their temper under control. They’re actually pretty solitary, which is something I try to balance all the time. They’re quiet, observant and patient until … they’re not. I can go on and on about the traits of the jaguar that I feel a spiritual connection to, but that may be a post on its own. There’s a South American legend that says the jaguar’s spots come from mud that was dabbed on with his paws. The spots set the cat apart from the others, and is why he is considered the most unrivaled of the species. According to the Mayans, the jaguar is the earth father and has authority over the sacred power of all the animals on earth. We all have an animal we feel spiritually connected to .. What’s yours?
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If you’re in town, you have to stop by NHM to see the show. It’s up until September.

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Avocado Toast

07.04.15

avocado toast theartmuseHello there, muses! I have a confession to make. For many years, I’ve had the really bad habit of not eating breakfast. I would load up on coffee and not eat until lunch time or so. By noon, I felt terrible – fidgety and lethargic from the caffeine until I would finally crash. Honestly, changing this bad habit has been very hard. I don’t necessarily feel hungry in the morning and I love the ritual of having a cup of coffee. What to do? I started looking up breakfast recipes to see if it would inspire me to make changes. But everything I found was either very fattening or a lot of fuss to prepare. I wanted something simple and healthy that was doable every day.

Lo and behold, in one of my Gabby Bernstein binge days, I found her recipe for avocado toast. I can pretty much eat avocado all day so this was like the miracle meal I had been looking for with everything I need to kick off the day.
avocado toast
Why is this simple little toast so good? Well, not only does it taste delicious but in a just a few bites you’re pretty much giving your body a lot of great stuff it needs. I started switching our usual grain breads with Ezekiel (sprouted grain bread that contains no flour and is an awesome source of protein). And if you didn’t know, avocados are packed with tons of nutrients. Yes, they’re high in fat but it’s good fat, I promise. Most of your vitamin letters are in every bite, and it’s a great source of potassium (which I need for these stiff muscles). The chili flakes used in Gabby’s recipe were actually a surprise to me because I had no idea that they help reduce inflammation and stimulate metabolism. Can I just put this on everything? It’s so unbelievably good, I have to fight off the craving for several slices of toast. It takes a few minutes to make, and has inspired me to try out different recipes. It’s a great way to start the morning off with a bit of TLC for your body.

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Chambray Gauchos

06.04.15

coolot
(Rachel Roy gauchos/ Ann Taylor heels and mini tote/Kenneth Cole necklace)/Jones New York tank

Why have I not been wearing gauchos all these years? I mean, I wore them when I was a kid, but why on earth did people stop? These are the best pants ever. When it comes to shopping, I stick with classic pieces, items that can go from day to night and fabrics that are flattering and comfortable. When I saw these on the rack, I immediately grabbed them like ‘oh heeeey there’. They totally fit the criteria. Once again, Rachel Roy won me over with another one of her designs (love my red jumpsuit).

This outfit is the kind of thing I would throw on to have a casual date night with my fiance. We actually got to dabble a bit with the night life (anything after 6pm) last week while my son basked in the Puerto Rico sun with my mom and step dad. The house felt really quiet without him so we just kept going out to eat, which makes gauchos all the more fantastic – They will cover the few extra pounds I gained. In my search for the perfect pair of pants, I also saw quite a bit of culottes that I absolutely must have. I’m totally going Dee from What’s Happening this summer. It’s official. I seriously have not been this excited about a trend in a long time.
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Ballerinas and Bathers

04.04.15

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There’s something about Spring that gives me this need to surround myself with Degas’ work. The gold frames and pastel canvases always the mark the beginning of the season for me, so imagine my surprise when I saw that the Norton Simon Museum had moved their pieces around to create a gallery solely dedicated to the artist. Usually, his work can be found throughout (and it still can) but they moved the Little Dancer into a space of her own, and surrounded her with many of Degas’ most beloved works of art.
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The dark gray dimly lit walls were perfection. It created the mood for what much of Degas’ work is known for – voyeurism (Oh, hello. Don’t mind me. I’m just creepily standing behind you. Keep bathing. Keep dancing). Many would disagree, and have argued that he simply enjoyed the ballet and was just capturing a moment. And that his bathers were just studies of form, not much different from his horses. I say, it’s not such a black and white topic. From what I know, he did not have relationships, he frequented brothels and spent most of his life painting. It’s not so far fetched to believe that a person who lives a life with no intimacy would be a voyeur. Today’s online culture is a key example of many desensitized people displacing intimacy with images, no?
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One thing is for sure, Degas’s work ethic is one to be admired. He is proof that you must never stop being a student, and that it takes many tries (drawings, sketches, models) before completing your final product. Everything today is go, go, go … Looking at his study pieces is almost meditative for me and a reminder that the process of creation is far more important than the result (and many times, more beautiful). His sense of endless inventiveness and artistic curiosity is a huge inspiration for me, and I simply can’t imagine the month of April without a Degas fix.
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I think it’s so crucial to not only surround yourself with art, but to make it a part of your life in some way. It awakens the senses and inspires the soul. I always leave a museum with a new take on the world and my surroundings, and still find it hard to believe how many artists like Degas were scrutinized for their vision. Yet, their masterpieces live on to inspire.
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