What happened in Vegas …

24.09.14

delanohotelDELANO HOTEL, LAS VEGAS
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If you were on my blog a few days ago, you probably noticed that I switched up this post. Long story short, a few things will be changing and resuming around here but more on that later. I really want to tell you about my recent visit to Las Vegas.
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As I mentioned in the post (before this here revision), I’m a Vegas Virgin. I can’t really count a trip with a friend to help her with work and a conference a bona fide Vegas experience. But what does that mean anyway? What is a Vegas experience? With everything at your fingertips, I think it’s what you make it to be. In this case, the MGM Resorts invited me to see all the different facets of Vegas, which included fine dining, swimming with dolphins, shows, concerts and luxurious comfort by way of the Delano Hotel.
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The Delano Hotel had been open just a few weeks before we stayed, and it was totally my kind of hotel – Intimate, stylish and modern with beautiful designs throughout. The hotel echoes the tropical, chic design of the Delano in Miami’s South Beach (with a desert touch of course), which I’m all about (I have a thing for Miami). The entrance is super chic with a stone entry, wood-slatted gate and a beautiful boulder from the Nevada desert. But what I loved most about the hotel was the personalized experience, amazing service and that a 24-coffee bar, lounge and café were minutes from your room with lots of tasty dishes and beverages to choose from. When I travel, I typically stay at massive hotels that don’t make grabbing a quick cup of mojo in the morning convenient. It typically requires a 100 story trip down to the lobby, which leads me to an escalator to another lobby that leads me into a corridor … You get it. It’s just pure torture for a person who needs a morning coffee to function.
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Aside from the pillows, which are better suited for propping up to watch TV or read, the bed was fantastic. I slept like a baby and felt well-rested in the morning, which I needed to be because we had quite a full itinerary. But don’t feel bad about my busy schedule. One of my stops between wining and dining was the Delano’s Bathhouse Spa, which included a hot desert stone massage (o-m-g that was divine). Poor me. But I do have to admit that I was a bit nervous at first because the massages I get are therapeutic for treating TMJ disorder (hello, trigger point therapy and the stretching of my SCM muscle). But this was relaxing and gentle, so it all worked out just fine (one bad massage can set me back).
delanohotel
… But back to that suite I had the privilege of staying in. I love that the decor was all neutral colors with white linens and gold accents throughout the room and void of floral carpets and generic wall prints. The rooms feature large (ahem, sexy) photography of underwater scenes while the flooring is completely covered in a really pretty soft gray geometric print carpet. You can’t see it in this picture, but opposite of that couch hung a nice sized flat screen TV.
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Urban Outfitters top and necklace, Zara skirt and heels

The day before our trip, I just looked at my closet aimlessly. The itinerary was full so I had no idea what to pack and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough time to change in between events. Thank goodness I had a few old faithful rompers/jumpers that are easy to throw on quickly. I also made sure to pack comfortable tops that could go with jeans or a pencil skirt. Although Vegas was bordering on a 100 degrees, I had to wear my white faux pencil skirt with a slouchy tee for one of our dinners. It’s a silhouette that works for my body every time. I was ready to go but my packing wasn’t complete without lots of statement pieces to dress my outfits or to switch a look from day to night.

Stay tuned for a tasty post coming up, which will include my fantastic Vegas dining experience. Thank you so much MGM Resorts!

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It’s time to talk about domestic violence

23.09.14

purplepurse
Domestic violence and financial abuse … It’s such a personal topic, I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t say that I’ve been a victim of domestic violence on a physical level nor has anyone tried to purposely ruin me financially. But I will say that I was emotionally impacted by these forms of abuse when I was child, and in many ways it has shaped who I am today. At a young age, I said I would never be with a man who did not value me, and I’ve stayed true to that statement. But that outlook has had its pros and cons. My threshold for what I see as an authentic, loving relationship has fallen into the category high expectations; therefore, my tolerance for many things pretty much falls short. Hey, I can admit that about myself. I really do not like my life complicated. It’s too short and precious to be in an unhappy situation. However, I refuse to let that situation define me or continue to victimize me by living in my day to day thoughts. It made me a stronger person and has no power over me. The domestic violence I did experience became a story of triumph. It was the reason why education was pushed on me along with the belief that I can be anything I wanted. I was raised to pursue what made me happy, and that was art. It was my outlet, especially when I witnessed situations that scared me. I saw that through education, knowledge and belief in oneself anything is possible. I also saw that it is not easy to just get out of those situations, and that it takes a tremendous amount of support. That is where we all come in. One of our current campaigns is with the Allstate Foundation’s initiative called Purple Purse. Through this program I learned that domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women in her lifetime, which is more than breast, ovarian and lung cancer combined, and that most people don’t associate financial abuse with domestic violence but it’s the #1 why the victim stays. I totally get how this could happen and I am fortunate to have had loving family members who were always supportive.

When I look back at those years, I don’t feel anger or shame. I feel proud that we all came so far from a place of darkness, and that we were able to harness that experience into creating a life with purpose. I eventually pursued art and worked with children from at-risk communities who had a passion for the arts and my mother (because it was obvious this post was about her) became a Psychologist. She too worked with at-risk families and children. It was quite a long road, but we made it.

I would love for you to join us today at 5pm PT/8pm ET as we discuss domestic violence online with Purple Purse. Many of us have stories to share … And if our conversation reaches at least one person who needs help, we’ve done our job.

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Beauty Portrait: My abuelita

21.09.14

shaered
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.”

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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.

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Neutrogena Selfie Teen Party!

17.09.14

I have been compensated by Neutrogena to host this party. However, all the opinions and photos are my own.
neutrogena pink acne
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 …

[Read more →]

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Beauty portrait: Ode to the french

10.09.14

frencheye
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.
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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)

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POT

07.09.14

eat at pot
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).
eat at pot
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.
eat at pot
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.
eat at pot
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.
eat at pot
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.
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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.
eat at pot
POT is open daily from 11 AM-11 PM.

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Black Lace Jumper

02.09.14

blkromper
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.
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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

(Three Dots Jumper, Zara belt old, Michael Kors crossbody bag, Guess heels old but similar, Anarchy Street bangle similar)

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Week in Pictures

29.08.14

the goldstein residence
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.
the goldstein residence
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!

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