I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot these last few days. I can’t tell you how much I love and miss her, and just how much she helped to shape the woman I am today. My grandmother possessed a quiet strength. She thrived with cancer for 11 years, and lived each day to the fullest with an undeniable love for her family and devotion to God.
She was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to the states with her brother when she was in her 20s. She met my grandfather, a pastor … They married and had three children. Life was not always easy for her. My grandfather was a very stern man with traditional values and very set ideas about family and the roles of women. She was the “pastor’s wife” and lived within the confines of very strict rules and expectations. There was no such thing as popular culture TV and non-Christian music in the house, and the family all attended church every day (twice on Sunday). When their children (my mom and two uncles) were older, my grandmother worked as a seamstress in Chinatown and helped take care of the grandchildren (including me) so that her children could continue their education, work grave yard shifts and build businesses. Growing up as the pastor’s kids was not always easy but it certainly, along with my grandmother’s nurturing, taught them the value of hard work and discipline. As the years went on, my grandmother became the rock of the entire family. She was always there for all of us no matter what, and I mean no-matter-what. She was generous, forgiving, never judged and taught us, through her actions, that life has its many challenges but we all have the strength and will-power to overcome. She also taught us the power of forgiveness and that putting your suffering into the hands of God is the ultimate act of self-love. She would encourage us to pray for peace, healing and forgiveness. These words have always existed in the thread of who I am but they were lessons I had to learn for myself, as she did when life brought on tough challenges.
This is a picture of my grandmother when she first moved to the US from Aguada, Puerto Rico. She was so beautiful. When I look at these pictures, I remember the day she told me “When I go to heaven, I will look the way I did when I was young, beautiful and healthy.”
The older I get, the more I’m becoming the words and wisdom she shared with me. She was funny, creative, smart, warm, strong, perceptive and resilient. To me, these are things that made her beautiful. Although, she loved beautiful things, perfume, hair accessories, nail polishes and jewelry (she loved makeup too but never wore it because the church did not allow it), her beauty came from her heart, courage and strength. But I still smile and think of her when I see a beautiful perfume bottle, sparkly rings, red lip colors, lace fabrics and beautiful textures. Oh, she loved these things. In fact, my grandmother had a huge collection of rings and beautiful lingerie she had sewn over the years, and would encourage me to always present myself well as she would share stories about her youth. On her free time, she used to sew dresses and hats for dolls, adorn her home and dabble in poetry.
Her strength and humor lives in me … At 41, I look back at my life and laugh at the things that I once thought mattered referring to them as “tonterias”. She would have loved to hear me say that. I think of how much I tried to control situations as if I had one ounce of power to change another person or redirect fate. As I recover from TMJD (a circumstance that was not a coincidence and a clear lesson that I have allowed stress to take over my life), I learned how to let go of what does not suit me, to forgive and put things in the hands of God. I honestly feel that my grandmother in heaven knew that it was going to take an illness for me to have a breakthrough. She knows how strong and determined I am, which is a trait I got from the women in my family.
Cheli, not a day goes by that I don’t think about you. I know you’re looking over me now, and feel proud that I work so hard, dream big, never sell myself short and continue to grow as a woman. I know you’re smiling down at me as I give my heart and soul to my only son every single day – The little boy you said you would not leave this earth without meeting. Thank you for all of your love and for teaching me the real meaning of beauty. You are deeply missed.
I have been compensated by Neutrogena to host this party. However, all the opinions and photos are my own.
Right before traveling with my guys, my son and I hosted a Neutrogena teen event at our house for their acne lines, which my son loves and uses quite often. But before I tell you about the products I must tell you that organizing events with teens is not easy. By the time kids are 14 years old or so, and the commute is longer than a walk, moms lose that eagerness to drive/chaperone them to yet another social gathering. You know, the one you had when they were toddlers and you couldn’t wait to see how cute they will look at Joey’s little birthday party. Moms at this stage either have younger ones with complicated sports schedules (along with their teens) or are simply in need of some relax time and do not want to be stuck in traffic on a Friday night. I totally get it. With that said, I did a bit of coordinating with the teens themselves and am happy to report we had a full house of boys and girls. And that’s a big deal because kids are so weird with each other at this age. I was really happy with the turn-out.
For the first 15 minutes, the kids were a bit shy until I brought out the food and products. Thank goodness I was able to break the ice along with my dear friend Monique, who helped in talking about skincare to the kids. The girls really wanted to know how they could keep their skin and clear.
The girls tried the products and loved the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit line, especially the pre-moistened wipes. I mean, who doesn’t love the grapefruit line? The scent alone gets major points, especially for being an acne treatment. In fact, I had one of the girls over again for a makeup tutorial and we loved using the Oil Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub to prep her face. I told the girls that they needed to take good care of their skin, as it is about to embark on some major changes. A few of the girls were already concerned about acne that seemed to be surfacing. I explained that before they started covering up acne with makeup, they needed to make sure they take good care of their skin by cleansing at least twice a day and applying sun screen. The Grapefruit Line features products that powerfully treat and help prevent breakouts and blackheads while delivering a refreshing blast of 100% naturally derived grapefruit extract and vitamin C. It doesn’t get any better than that. The scent is delicious, which takes the “chore” out of skin care. And we all know how teens feel about chores!
As the girls tried their products, more boys arrive. My fellow foodie friend Nicole stopped by with her little guy and my awesome friend and DIY-er Denise brought her three sons. My son had not met two of the boys prior to the event, but they hit it off immediately as you can tell. When your moms are creative types, you have a lot in common with another. Laughter quickly ensued and the real eating and chatting began. I introduced them to the Rapid Clear Line, which has an extensive portfolio of products that are all designed to treat acne and breakouts fast.
My son liked the “fast” part. He only panics once he has a total break out, then he wants them gone right away. All of them. That’s my cue to remind him to wash his skin every day, drink lots of water (lay off the chicken wings!) and use the Fight and Fade Gel before bed.
The kids had a great time. So much so, the boys stayed the night! I placed all the Neutrogena products they needed on the sink for morning, and went to sleep feeling great that I get to work with such awesome brands and that my son has a great group of friends. Thanks Neutrogena!
So people ask me all the time – How do you do it all? They also ask – How do you do it all and still have time do your hair and makeup all the time. Truth is, I absolutely do not have hair and makeup done all the time. It’s not a priority at all. In fact, when I work, my hair is up in the ultimate moño and I wear yoga clothes or whatever comfortable cotton material I can find. This blog (and work related appearances) is actually a motivator for me to get it together. Otherwise, the current of life would definitely sweep me away, yoga pants and all. I get so many beautiful products and really do love to get dolled up but it’s not always feasible to do it all the time. So what you see here is my way of celebrating a bit of me time and a fun way to capture what I like wear when I go out with my beau. But it’s not a reflection of day to day life. It’s my way of staying inspired and sharing a bit of that with the world. It’s also my way of saying, I get you. I too have days that I just don’t want to bother. But I know I have to break the pattern because the way you look impacts the way you feel. It’s important we give ourselves a boost whenever we can – Whether it’s makeup, a hairstyle, a hat or your favorite perfume.
I have a thing for the French. I’ve always been obsessed with their culture, the beautiful art and their delicious cuisine. In fact, 18th century France is what I focused on when I was in grad school because I could not get enough of their artistic depictions of every day life (well, if you were a poet, a farmer or socialite). This L’Oreal fiery red was perfect for a little ode to the French – Cat eye, striped shirt to add. Oh, and you cannot have an ode to the French without Chanel. It’s a simple look to put together for a lunch date or day out.
(L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Balm in Fiery Red, La Ligne de Chanel for upper lid, Urban Decay All Nighter Eye Liner for lower lid, H&M hat similar, Zara striped top similar)
Today I present to you a whole lot of saucy deliciousness from POT. If you love Korean food and you live in LA then there’s no need for me to introduce the chef behind these amazing dishes, Roy Choi (the genius behind the Kogi food truck).
We recently announced that we will be hosting our We All Grow conference at the Line Hotel in K-Town, which is also the home of POT restaurant. The hotel itself has a swanky vibe when you first enter but upon further inspection it echoes much of the Latino and Asian sub-cultures of LA (more on the hotel in another post), which includes every day objects like bodega items, toys and balloons deliberately placed within the sleek design of the hotel. It is not the Standard by any means, which is perfect for this native New Yorker who misses the gritty beauty of the city and the savory joy of eating at a restaurant that embodies the local community. If you’re looking for a food and cultural experience, then this is for you. If you want romance and ambiance, you may need to keep driving down Wilshire.
I’m not a food critic and can’t say that I’m versed in Korean cuisine (whether it’s from Seoul or LA) by an means, but I like food with a kick and a lot of soul – and this certainly delivers. I’ve been to POT three times already and I can’t leave without ordering the steamed dumplings and the Old School, which is marinated rib-eye bulgogi mixed with noodles, kimchi, scallions and sesame. And, yes, it reheats well. Nothing like having this for lunch the next day. The servings are not small so that’s an important one to know.
My last visit was for a work meeting so I got to try a few new things from the menu, like their BBQ Galbi and the Redono Beach, which is a pot of spicy crab mixed with bean sprouts, onions, tofu and mira. The dish was good but not my favorite, as I tend to favor the BBQ dishes. But worth a try if you’re a seafood lover.
While you’re enjoying your dish, take a second to look at the details that make this place all the more personal. Each table has cubbyholes underneath to store bowls, cups and chopsticks because there will not be a whole lot of room on your table for such clutter. And take a look at the walls (2nd picture on top). The decor may look like floral wall paper from afar but what you see are actual real dried flowers pressed into the walls, which gives the space that homey feeling you get when you’re eating a local comfort food spot after an exhausting day. You know that feeling.
No matter what you order, you have to get it with the Kimchi fried rice. I can eat this whole thing alone. It’s so good, and I’m super excited that I will be able to share these meals with my blogger friends from all the country in a few short months. Blogger or not, you have to give this place a try.
POT is open daily from 11 AM-11 PM.
About a month ago, I walked into a local boutique to look around and found this cute jumper from Three Dots. I was going to a product launch party for Urban Decay. I really liked how it was very conservative on top but surprises you with a very short leg. I think it’s a perfect outfit for Fall in Los Angeles. The weather still feels like summer but you have to figure ways to make the seasons in what you wear. To make the transition, I start adding textures and different colors but keep the styles cool for warm days.
I love shopping at local boutiques because you always find something different than what you’d normally buy. In my case, it’s almost always more than a shopping experience as many of the business owners within the area are from the community. While trying on this jumper, I learned that the owner’s daughter goes to my son’s school and that they have many mutual friends. Of course as moms, we exchange pictures and notes and what we know about what’s going on with which kid along with our concerns and growing pains as parents. Yep, parents have growing pains too.
So I arrived at the boutique in my yoga gear and walked out with a sexy little number, a new friend, a favorite spot for those awesome finds and that wonderful ‘we’re in this together’ feeling.
This week has been absolutely full. Notice I said full and not busy? Big difference. From the work I do to the decisions I make every day, each action is filled with intent and purpose. Even on those days when I’m color coding Excel sheets, the bigger picture keeps me going – Building and strengthening online communities. Outside of work, I wear many other hats as well. As I sat through this week’s PTA meeting and went through pages and pages of budget reports, I’m there (we are all there) to ensure that our kids have a wonderful high school experience. I was also happy to receive a phone call asking me to chair the school’s annual art contest and exhibit along with the district. I have a lot on my plate but I could not say no.
But what does the PTA and work have to do with these pictures? Not much. But this house is far more beautiful to photograph than my piles of paperwork and keyboard, no? Part of the perks of working so hard is being able to attend fun events hosted by brands like L’Oreal. Although I was there to work, it was exciting to be invited to the infamous Sheats Goldstein residence. While everyone gathered to network, I found myself more fascinated with the organic architecture of the home. I didn’t get to see everything because I didn’t want to be that weird woman walking around with a camera. But I would not mind being invited back to really take in all of the architectural details, the view and its amazing (and scary) open terrace.
I hope you all have a lovely Labor Day weekend!
I was recently invited to L’Oreal Paris USA’s Get the Look event in Beverly Hills to preview all their goodies for Fall. I can’t wait for summer to be over. I’m not a summer girl, at all. I love cooler weather and all that it brings when it comes to fashion and makeup. Plums, reds, golds, yes, yes and more yes. I was excited to try their colors, but as you can see, they gave me more than I can show you in one single picture. Plus, I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to makeup. The older I get, the more I focus on skincare and the texture of my skin as I age. L’Oreal has a great day and night cream called Age Perfect Cell Renewal, which is an awesome addition to my current skincare routine. I’ve only used it once so far but it feels silky smooth and promises to deliver renewed and firmer looking skin in just one month. To get the Fall season rolling, I’m wearing their Glossy Balm in plum and two their Colour Riche shadows in Treasure Bronze and Perpetual Nude. I also added a bit of sparkle to the inner corners of my eyes with the Silkissime eye liner in gold. For my brows, I used their Brow Stylist Sculptor Pencil in Brown, which comes with an attached brow brush. I like to keep my brows natural and strong but not overbearing. I always stick with a brown that is one shade lighter than my hair and no hint of red undertone. May I add that I’m already a huge L’Oreal fan as they are the only brand to get my skin color right. I’ve been using their foundation for years, and swear by it. During the winter months I wear True Match Buff Beige. And if I tan during Summer, I mix my foundation with Sand Beige. The fact that these match my skin is a big deal for me. I have olive color skin with yellow undertones, and always found foundations to be too pink or orange for me. The neck and face must match. I’ve had my foundation custom-made and have tried every product out there. Being a portrait artist, who can actually create a skin color palette from scratch, my eye for color and shade is on the insane side. So, yeah, I’m a bit OCD when it comes to finding the right foundation for my face.
L’Oreal’s Fall collection is extensive. The lip colors and shadows are my favorite. I’m talking eye colors in beautiful nude shades, rich lilacs. gorgeous emerald greens with fiery reds, delicious caramels and vibrant corals for lips.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I also received their Visible Lift Blur Foundation, which is designed to take years off of your face. Very interested in giving that a try because, well, the word lift. Anything to combat the power of gravity without being invasive sounds good in my book. I did try the Voluminous Butterfly mascara, which I’m wearing in the first picture – No clumps and even coverage. Overall, I’m very happy with the collection and can’t wait to show you more. If you try them out, let me know what you think.
Ford lent me their Ford Fusion Energi a couple of weeks ago to test out and I love it. I wasn’t paid to write this post. They didn’t ask me to in exchange for the car. Nada. I just really like the car. It was the perfect addition to the family as we took a few road trips to museums, the beach, amusement parks and ice cream shops. The ride was so incredibly smooth, super spacious, quiet and comfortable. That’s a big deal for me, as I get neck and back issues when driving for too long and I did not feel any discomfort at all. I’m also a big fan of the car’s features, especially the rear view camera. No need to turn your head to make sure you’re properly backing up. Again, good for bad necks like mine. The dashboard was equipped with a full screen illustrating my every move, and some were actually quite interesting! My sister and I could not stop laughing in shock when the car alerted me that I may be in need of coffee. I was driving her to the airport at 4:30am and the car must have picked some inconsistencies in my speed. There was police activity on the northbound side of the freeway so I may have been stalling to see what it was. The car immediately alerted me with a brightly lit coffee image, a beeping sound and request to rest.
The car was also great for just hanging out with friends or going out on a date night. It just has a nice vibe for night time driving. The interior was pretty sexy. I can’t think of a time I ever said that, but it did feel that way. What can I say.
Besides falling in love with the car, I also tried something different in the last few weeks. I put up my hair to go out. I know. It doesn’t sound ground breaking at all. But part of my going-out ritual has always revolved around my hair. It’s my protector. The safety net that adds that extra feminine touch…
Although I work in a very social business that requires a lot of engaging, I’m pretty shy believe it or not. It may come across as aloof or disinterested at times. But, no. I can be very shy and introverted. And something about my hair being down helps me loosen up. I wear my hair up when I work, paint and cook. It has never been a going out option but … It was hot. And I’m getting older. The heat and age don’t agree like they used to. I also think that with age comes confidence. You need less of those of little rituals and illusions that “protect” you — whatever they may be. In my case, it was hair. Now don’t get me wrong, I will always be hair obsessed, but not for the same reasons. It felt good to wrap a low bun, throw on my favorite pencil skirt and take a drive to a nice restaurant on a summer evening.