Friday, October 31, 2014

My Ode to Bicha

Life is so surreal.

Sometimes its amazing and everything is perfect. Other times, life occurrences shake you out of your core.

This week happens to be one of those weeks.

I started with great news on the work and school front; and my married life is on an upswing right now. Overall, things are good.

One thing you might not know is that I also have a family. Besides my hubby, I also have two younger brothers and a sister. Like myself, they are all married. My father, as you may have figured out through my musings, died a few years back - quite suddenly I may add.

I also have a mom, who survived through Stage Three breast cancer, and that currently lives in one of my childhood homes.

But one person that I have failed to share anything about is my maternal grandmother, who I lovingly named Bicha. (more to that later).

It's because of her sudden, but expected, passing this week, that my life has turned upside down.

Like my father who was my rock, my Bicha also had a significant role in my life. She was my soul and second mom.

She was the woman that held me first, bathed me first, had the challenge of defending me among those that were not happy with my birth, and the woman that believed in my creative talent. So much so, that we continuously discover small scraps of paper that had my drawings on them - because one day they would be "fashion designs" - that my grandma kept in her drawers.  She believed in my that much.

She was also the woman that would stay behind with me in the house or kitchen, when everyone else was playing outside, because I was either too sick, too weak or too allergic to the sun (grass or anything else) to be outside with others.

She was the woman that wouldn't push me to play, but instead commended my passion in reading, understood my need for space and selective introversion.

When I worked at Kmart, she was known to go to mass and walk over to the store - only to spend the entire day there and watch me work. That gave her great pleasure.

When I started attending college, she would turn the door knob late at night to check-in on me while I was studying. The "click-click" of the door knob was an annoyance at the time, but is now a sweet story of how much she cared and how proud she was that I was focused on my education.

While few people outside of my family met her, I did make it a point to have her come to a work event one time. I was proud to show her off and was giddy that for once, she could see my professional workspace instead of the retail environment she remembered.

She was unique and many might call outspoken to the point of having sometimes little to no filter, but classy and proud. Traits that I have picked-up unknowingly.

Separated from her abusive husband before her marriage hit the ten year mark, she and my mom made their way through life and eventually immigrated to the US in the early 60s. Other than a couple of years in the 90s, my grandmother has lived with us her whole life until her Alzhiemer's was too severe to live at home. My father, who was like her son, had the biggest problem with her going into hospice. He felt that we were giving up on her. But he never did. Until his death in 2005, he would visit my grandmother two, sometimes up to four times a day. More so that my mom.  They were that close.

So when my dad died, my grandmother took a turn for the worse. Although she far outlived every prediction by most doctors, she was still my grandma, my Bicha, and it hurts so much to have to say bye to her body although her mind has been gone for so long.

My husband never had the fortune of tasting her amazing food, watching her belly laughs over some out-of-sorts jokes, and her her stories about Mexico in the early 19th century and how much Southern California had changed since her arrival.

My friends have only heard my stories about my amazing Bicha traveling to France, Spain, Rome and Israel, by herself, and having the fortune of meeting Pope John Paul II - but will never look into her beautiful blue eyes as they opened in wonderment when talking about those moments.

My colleagues will never hear from her lips the reason to be grateful and always give back to those in need, while I proudly share how my grandmother was involved in not one, but several charity organizations.

My girlfriends will never have the fortune of walking through a store with my grandmother and be educated on the (lost) fine art of couture dress making or watch Bicha's nimble hands create beautiful fashion.

I didn't the fortune of having my Bicha make my wedding dress or blessing my marriage. Seeing my home or sharing, in conversation, what my life is now like. I haven't felt the touch of her hands rubbing my legs or forehead in years, and her amazing recipes are all but a distant memory.

Truth be told, her mind has been gone for so long, that I had avoided bringing much attention to her not being part of important life milestone because I selfishly didn't want to be reminded of how much I missed her.

It pains to hear anyone call her by the name given to her in my infant giberish as if they knew her like I did. Like my siblings did. Or even understand what the significance of Bicha was to me. To us.

Bicha, as odd as it may seem, was meant to be Mama Luisa. But to an infant learning to speak, the letters melded together and came out as Bicha. I was never corrected, or if I was, in my headstrong way, I kept it. My siblings adopted it, and there you have it.

It was a term of endearment, a name that most people didn't understand or cared to learn how it came to be. And now that others use it, it bothers me. It was like a secret society name for the four grandchildren that were more than that. We were, in essence, her children.

It's because of this that it was so hard for me to see her slowly deteriorate by Alzheimers. Not ready to see her go down that dark abyss that is Alzheimers, I continuously challenged her to be the person she always was. Some may call it cruel, but I was being as tough with her because the moment I gave in, I saw it as giving up on her. She didn't deserve that.

So while others, family even, avoided the subject or pretended it wasn't happening, it was. I saw it. I lived through it..and it wasn't pretty. Alzheimer's a horrid way to go.

As a grandchild, I lived with her the longest out of anyone. No one deserves to forget their life. No one deserves to be a shell of who they were...and I was mad. I am mad.

Although she left in the middle of a dream, the last ten years were robbed from all of us...and void from her time on this earth.  I am also hurt and feel slighted...and I am still mad. Very.

I wish I had better words to describe this incredible loss...but all I can muster is thinking back to the moments when my Bicha was alive and as spunky as ever. All I can do, right now, is cry about the woman she was when alive and well...not the shell of the body that has now left us.

I'm going through her words and trying to remember what it felt like to lay next to her as a child and feel her beautiful skin warm my body. I repeat the songs, that she composed for each of the four of us, to help us sleep and that we later tried to sing-along as a way to recreate the childhood moments.

I now weep, both loudly and in silence, trying to trace back every important moment as if to register them on a list - trying not to forget anything. Trying not to forget the Bicha that was well, and not the body that has now left us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sue Wong Spring 2015 Collection

Tiers, sparkles, and headpieces OH MY!  

The Sue Wong Spring 2015 collection channeled vintage frocks from prohibition with the swag of the Victorian era. Intricate appliqué’s, swinging fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection. 
Having come to LA right out of college to make my own name in the fashion world, I have never been on the media side of a runway show nor have I been fortunate enough to have worked on a production at this level so even I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed getting my Media pass and being escorted into the tent. Swarming with productive worker bees, I was placed in the photographers area and quickly made friends with other bloggers and professionals, all of whom knew that this show was the show to see during Style Week. Bonding over our love of good food, Hank West offered to share the beautiful photos he captured from the professional platform that little ol’ bloggers like myself could not inhabit, so we have Hank to thank for these striking images, thank you Hank!

Fairies & Sirens was the name of the collection but nothing about the looks said mystical woodland creatures and singing temptress’s BUT it was a stunning collection of elegant gowns and dramatic headpieces. Tiers were huge on this runway. Tiers of ruffles, tiers of fringe, tiers of  flowing fabric, tiers of applique, tiers, tiers, tiers! Reminiscent of the 1920’s, the tiers created great movement in each garment that was slightly mesmerizing to watch. fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection. 

Having come to LA right out of college to make my own name in the fashion world, I have never been on the media side of a runway show nor have I been fortunate enough to have worked on a production at this level so even I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed getting my Media pass and being escorted into the tent. Swarming with productive worker bees, I was placed in the photographers area and quickly made friends with other bloggers and professionals, all of whom knew that this show was the show to see during Style Week. Bonding over our love of good food, Hank West offered to share the beautiful photos he captured from the professional platform that little ol’ bloggers like myself could not inhabit, so we have Hank to thank for these striking images, thank you Hank!

Fairies & Sirens was the name of the collection but nothing about the looks said mystical woodland creatures and singing temptress’s BUT it was a stunning collection of elegant gowns and dramatic headpieces. Tiers were huge on this runway. Tiers of ruffles, tiers of fringe, tiers of  flowing fabric, tiers of appliqué, tiers, tiers, tiers! Reminiscent of the 1920’s, the tiers created great movement in each garment that was slightly mesmerizing to watch. fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection.


The dropped waist was also a huge trend that these slender models wore beautifully. The silhouette a dropped waist creates is classic and elegant.  And the headdresses! Absolutely stunning! I am actively looking or a job where I can rock these dramatic headpieces on a regular basis. The detailed Victorian-esq fabrics in muted shades of peach and caramels were a direct contrast to the hard rock music the models bounced down the runway to. Sue Wong is a proclaimed ‘study in contrasts’ so this juxtaposition was received well by the varied audience members. She breaks up the collection with a serious of colorful, whimsey gowns that scream spring but it was the opulent and ornate gowns that the collection was all about. Breathtaking to watch come down the runway and even more so up close where you could really see the hours and hours of work that went into each piece. Another contrasting moment was when Dave Navarro, known for his music and tattoos joined Sue Wong on stage. I am not sure the connection these two have but I am sure of one thing ladies; Dave Navarro is the new black. 


One of the most creative and passionate designers in the industry, Sue Wong shows who and what she is with each collection. She is an inspiration not only to fashionistas but to every women in need of letting their inner goddess shine. An amazing and unforgettable experience, Sue Wong floored not only me but everyone in her presence that night. 

Contributed by Candice Sola

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Join me at MOLAA's Noche de Ofrendas, a Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Long Beach

This is a Sponsored Post. All Opinions my Own.


















Dia de los Muertos was not a holiday that I celebrated as a child, or was even aware of...until I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The beautiful marigolds, colorful altars, and special foods, all to honor the deceased, were something that fascinated me. Instead of the dark and somber ways to mourn those that left us, three days at the end of October, which coincide with Halloween, are recognized by many Latinos as a celebration of the life of those gone.

When we returned to the US, this cultural and religious celebration was long forgotten until a college friend told me about the Day of the Dead traditions in East LA.

I have since attended a few Day of the Dead events throughout Los Angeles. Some are focused on the religious aspect of the holiday, while others steer far from it and highlight the cultural and artistic elements of Day of the Dead. Some, much larger Day of the Dead celebrations, tend to attract a younger crowd - mostly in lieu of Halloween (Which Day of the Dead has nothing to do with). But, as beautiful and culturally significant these events are and have been, what has been missing, until now, is an upscale Day of the Dead celebration that both honors its religious and cultural past, while embracing the holiday it has now become in the US.

As an icon of Latino culture in Southern California, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, is planning to do just that and created a Noche de Ofrendas, a Dia de los Muertos Celebration.

Planned for Saturday, October 25, from 7 p.m. - 12 a.m., the (adult-only) Day of the Dead celebration at MOLAA includes artwork and celebrity-inspired altars designed by the event’s honorary curator, Tony Dominguez, recognized as one of the greatest papier-mâché artists, and altars inspired by other celebrities including Hector Elizondo, star of the film The Book of Life, filmmaker Sergio Arau (A Day Without a Mexican), lifestyle reporter and Good Day LA host Mar Yvette, and television star Valente Rodriguez (The George Lopez Show). 

A special live theatrical performance of La Muerte Vive—Where Rock Opera Meets Cabaret, produced by Dominguez, in addition to musical performances from Rocio Libertad Mendoza with Trio Alma y Alma, Casa de Calacas, Macondo y su Sonora, and DJ Brazilia, will all provide entertainment.

The evening will also include a silent auction, Calavera (skull) face painting, an array of traditional Mexican cuisine, and tequila-based libations created by Herradura’s star mixologist, Damian Diaz.

Limited event tickets which benefit MOLAA’s exhibition and art education initiatives are available by calling 562.437.1689 or click here. For additional event information, contact 562.437.1689. 


You can also learn more about MOLAA by following their social media handles:


Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/molaa

See you on Saturday! I'll be the tall Latina dressed in black :)

This Sponsored Post was Brought to you by MOLAA, The Museum of Latin American Art.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Starting our Week with a Sunrish Waffle Sandwich

This Post Has Been Sponsored By my Friends at Fresh and Easy. All Opinions my Own.
Sunday tends to be a day when I regroup and recharge with my mentor, while my hubby stays home to watch some sort of game.

But this week was a bit different being that my hubby was gone for five days, while my mentor recuperates from a huge fundraiser he managed. Add to that my never ending pile of homework and work responsibilities...and our Sunday plans pretty much made themselves: staying-in is the way to go.

With those schedule changes in mind, hubby and I went grocery shopping at Fresh and Easy yesterday in anticipation of an "in" Sunday. 

Rather than grab our usual ingredients, we opted for ready-made, heat-and-eat meals that my hubby could easily microwave or, that I could whip together in ten minutes or less.

While cereal seems to be good option for breakfast, Sundays are special in my book and I need to have something a bit more substantial and flavorful to start off my week.

That's why the new Fresh & Easy Sunrise Waffle Sandwiches were an easy yes.
From the two options available, hubby picked the bacon and eggs placed between Belgian waffles and lightly drizzled in maple syrup; while I picked the fried chicken breast and country gravy waffle sandwich.

Once we got home, we refrigerated the sandwiches and opened this morning to heat for only 30 seconds before enjoying the yumminess.

The bacon and egg waffle sandwich was good, but the chicken and waffle sandwich was EXCELLENT. Something about the gravy and maple syrup just took the sandwich up a notch. 
Hubby deconstructed his eggs and bacon waffle sandwich and ate with a fork, while I bit into the chicken and gravy waffle sandwich. Either option is good in my book!
Together with watermelon, tea (for me) and carrot juice (for my hubby), we had an amazing brunch al fresco in our own balcony.

Not only did I  save time by not cooking from scratch, we also had an enjoyable "foodie" meal that didn't take too much time to heat-up.

Now THIS is my way to start the week and I invite you to also enjoy one of these two sandwiches, available exclusively at Fresh & Easy for a limited time.
This Post Has Been Sponsored By my Friends at Fresh and Easy. All Opinions my Own.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Betting on Cristela



I don't have time to watch a lot of TV.

Life, work, school, it all blends together and creates havoc on my schedule. But there are times that I make sure to DVR something that means a lot to me, that entertains me, that opens my eyes, makes me laugh, and transports me somewhere else.

Oftentimes I have high hopes and anticipate a show, such as "Cristela," because its characters, plot lines, and soul behind it, speaks to me on a much deeper level...even before the show hits prime time.

Understandably so.


Someone like me, a US-born Latina, has very little to look forward to on TV. Not because current TV programming isn't good, but, because there is very little that was created with, and for, someone like me.

No one on TV looks me, understands my upbringing, my one-foot-in, one-foot-out culture, and how easy it is to laugh at it, and learn from it, without being preachy and irrelevant to someone that doesn't look like me or grew-up like me.

"Cristela" premiers today and hopes to break the mold that US TV has dished to us about Latinos for quite some time; and the cast of "Cristela" talks about the premise of the show and how it comes from a time in Co-Creator and Co-Executive Producer, Cristela Alonzo's, life when she had to move back home to take care of her family. With everything going on in this world, including the horrid economical issues our country is still going through, that in itself is something that everyone can relate to.

We can all relate.

***

On a recent tour of the "Cristela" set led by my friend and colleague, Sue from Starring Sue, I confirmed that betting on "Cristela" to dispel stereotypical myths wIll make Latinos relatable to everyone.  

I'm anticipating a fun yet real dialogue, that's an open invitation to laugh at the funny little quirks that make our culture, the Latino culture, uniquely American. While the very relatable battle that "Cristela" lives through is one of the many reasons I think that everyone MUST watch this show.

In Cristela Alonzo's own words: "What you expect from this show is to get the story of me and my family. I want to make it clear from the top, that I don't want to represent a culture because when you aim to do that you are going to disappoint someone. The best thing I can do is be myself, tell my story from my point of view with the people I surrounded myself with, and every character on the show is based on someone real. That is something I wanted to make sure of because I wanted to make sure the show was authentic. That way, in case anyone has a criticism about anything I can defend it because it is based on reality."

"Cristela" premieres Friday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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