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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jack of All Trades, Master of All

A couple of weeks back I decided to take a break from blogging to update the design of my blog. In between all that, I also started getting busy with school, work and of course, life.

The redesign of my blog didn't happen. I realized that what I have is what I need now.

I also realized that the "one thing" I wanted to do for the next ten years, was only a small part of the everything I want to do in my life. I felt, and continue to feel, guilty about this.

Mostly because I grew up with the notion that in order to succeed in life you had to specialize in one thing. I was told that doing a little of everything was a sure sign that you had no attention span, or worse, talent, to really take any one thing to that next level.

I go to sleep with that nagging thought and wake-up at 3 a.m. Every. Single. Night. "I need to focus," I tend to say to myself as I drink that ice cold glass of water in the middle of the night.

By the next morning I can't focus on one thing. Not a one.

Truthfully, most people that I have come across that balance two or three "talents," aren't great. They aren't even good. And they seem to be all over the place. Happy, but all over the place. I don't want to be them.

Or so I think.

That novel I intended to write this summer? I held it back because I was filled with self-doubt. That, and the fact that I was physically feeling like crap.

So this semester, come rain or shine, my intention was, and continues to be, to focus on bettering my writing (notice the pun?) during my advanced creative writing course.

While my photography course was a last minute add-on that was intended to help me learn how to best use a camera to, get this, supplement my writing with good photos.

Six weeks later? This hobby has awakened a passion for photography I have always held dear - but never really thought was an option beyond Instagraming or supplementing what I already do.

Just like writing, designing, and travel, photography makes me happy. It fills me. It challenges me.

Photography also makes me better when I encourage myself to "do it," instead of fighting the urge to pick-up my camera. Photography actually makes me better at my other talents.

How do I know? That creative writing class? I honestly didn't feel I connected with anyone. Not the professor, not my classmates, not anyone. They, meaning my classmates, are all writers and readers. I am just a PR Pro trying to be a paid writer and blogger.

Then a couple of weeks back I read an incomplete chapter of my novel, Clara, out loud. After I read that chapter, the expected silence was followed-up with several hands raised in unison. I thought, for certain, that each one of those hands would be followed with edits, changes, questions, and feedback that would point to the fact that I was just pretending to be a writer; and, not a good one at that.

I was wrong.

The feedback I received was encouraging and confirmed that yes, I could actually be a published author. Some classmates even stayed behind to talk to me and share suggestions to bring Clara to life. I felt, at that very moment, that a publishing deal was a strong possibility.

Last week my test photos also received rave reviews. From what I was told, my photos humanize my subjects and connect emotionally with those that view them. They have "feelings" and are, from what I was told, proof that I should continue to perfect my craft. My hobby....and one of my many passions.

Meanwhile my production course has opened the doors to some pretty influential people. Production, which is something I have done in the past, but really never pursued, seems to be something I am quite good at.

Storytelling, another course intended to fine-tune my writing, is a bit more challenging. Mainly because I have never written with a "storytelling" formula.

Whereas on the work side I recently met with a prospective client. Someone that had only communicated with through emails. As anyone would in my position, I was a bit skeptical and unsure that our meeting would lead to anything. But during our meeting things flowed. Ideas surfaced, and I was encouraged to stay on my career path.

I am good at what I do.

I don't suck.


And gosh darn it, as happy and encouraged as I should be on my choices, I am scared. Very.

I want to make the right choices. Do the right thing. And, to master my passions...while continuously learning, growing, and shifting to make this life, my life, something worth living.

I don't want to suck. Ever.

I want to continue to learn, grow, and become an expert at what I do. Even if it's more than one thing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Indulging in Dessert

This Post Has Been Sponsored By my Friends at Fresh and Easy. All Opinions my Own.
My hubby and I do a lot of cooking at home. Actually, I'm the one that usually does the cooking, my hubby is content in simply enjoying my dinner feasts. It's an arrangement that I'll happily oblige to.

It goes without saying that with my school and work schedule, it's important for me to create something for dinner that is not only delish, but that doesn't take a lot of time and running around to create.

This weekend I did just that: Created a dinner, and dessert, that didn't take more than an hour.
With the weather still being on the hot side in our little world of Los Angeles, it was completely apropos to pair a cool dessert with our light summer meal.

But knowing me (cough-cough), plain ice-cream wasn't going to do the trick; so I stopped by Fresh and Easy to pick-up a couple of their buzz-worthy gelato cookie sandwiches.

Because they were quite large, I waited for the sandwiches to melt a slight bit before I cut into five pie-like pieces.

I placed the pieces in a circular fashion on a dessert plate and left a small space in the middle of pieces. I then filled the middle with berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, then topped with whipped cream.
Tahitian vanilla gelato being much, much lighter than ice-cream, was perfect flavor combination with the chocolate chip cookie of the sandwich. Paired with berries and whipped cream? Well, a simple snack was elevated a few notches up to an indulgent treat!
Other Fresh and Easy gelato cookie sandwiches to try, with our without berries, include:
shortbread cookie gelato sandwichdelicious shortbread cookies made with a pinch of cinnamon spice to add richness and sweetness combined with milky Sea Salt Caramel gelato. 
chocolate chip gelato sandwicha new twist on an American classic with exquisite chocolate chip cookies that are soft in the middle and crispy on the outside combined with creamy Tahitian Vanilla Gelato. 
chocolate fudge gelato sandwich decadent cookies made with two different types of European chocolates to give you extremely rich baked cookies with a smooth, silky texture combined with creamy Tahitian Vanilla Gelato.
I can't wait to try the other flavors and pair them with other fruits!

This Post Has Been Sponsored By my Friends at Fresh and Easy. All Opinions my Own.
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