Platinum milestones

Platinum milestones

Ford ExplorerIf you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, then I'm sure you've noticed that I was out and about with the new Ford Explore Platinum for about two weeks. The best part of this experience was that I had the car on my birthday. And what did I do for this special day, you ask? I chilled.

I slept in. My fiancé made us breakfast. We drove up the mountains to enjoy the view. We ate ice-cream. We relaxed. My fiancé then prepared a savory scallop dinner. We relaxed some more and ended the evening with a couple of drinks. That's what I call a great birthday. I'm not one for big parties anymore. Honestly, a day of no responsibilities is all the partying I need. Just one day. And I got to do it in the comfort of this ride. If you're weekdays are hectic, I'm sure you totally get where I'm coming from. 

More than 7 million Explorers have been sold in the United States, making it America’s best-selling SUV for 25 straight years

Ford Explorer Platinum

The Ford Explorer Platinum had so many amazing features but what I loved the most was the adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support. As much as I love mountain views, I sort of freak out when we're driving up to the top. It's the New Yorker in me. Going up against nature while driving has never been my strong suit. Some of those hilly roads are narrow, and pretty scary. The Ford Explorer Platinum's radar can detect moving vehicles directly ahead and will change the cruising speed if necessary. That eased my mind for sure. The Lane-keeping system automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using a front camera system, and the steering wheel vibrates if the driver begins to drift out of the intended lane. I didn't realize that the Santa Anita mountains would feel like an eternity. I'm so thankful we had these safety features. I still refused to look down, but I knew the car would let me know if I was too close to an edge. If you're shopping around for an SUV, I would definitely look into this ride. 

Boyfriend jeans and off the shoulder top Since it was going to be a chill day, I threw on a pair of boyfriend jeans and off the shoulder top. I'm a little late to this trend, and now I wonder why I have't been dressing this way all along. This has to be the most comfortable, no-fuss outfit to put together. Plus, it nicely hides things you may not want to flaunt while accentuating your shoulders and neck line. Add a heel, and you've got yourself a comfortable yet sexy look. Or rock it with flats. 

Related: Ford Fusion Energi 

Ford Explorer: Front and rear cameras with washers: Both have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – a class-exclusive, segment-first feature

I just realized my outfit coordinates with the car. Not planned, I promise! But this blue is gorgeous. It's rich color just adds to the already stylish (yet awesomely rugged) design. I love big cars. My mom (all 5'3" of her) has a pick-up truck, and I just think it's the coolest thing ever. 

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I made sure to put this SUV to use while we had it. My teen cousin was visiting from New York so I had a full itinerary planned of things for us to do on the weekends. I'm currently working on a post with more details about the Ford Explorer Platinum 2016 and how awesome it was for the family. Stay tuned!

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Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage

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Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art During our visit to Philly, we stopped by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the exhibit Creative Africa. 

The show, a beautiful curation of contemporary photography, fashion and architecture, is comprised of the visionary work of artists throughout Africa. The entire exhibition is made up of five shows: Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, Three Photographers/Six Cities, Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage, The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community and Threads of Tradition. 

Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage

We didn't have a long of time to spend at the museum so I had to pick one of the galleries. I chose to view Vlisco: African Fashion on Global Stage. 

Vlisco is a one of the largest and oldest Dutch companies with a specialty in classic African patterns and textiles The gallery holds about twenty gorgeous pieces. The colors, style, designs, textures and patterns were just breathtaking. But it wasn't just a feast for the eyes, I learned quite a few things I had known prior to visiting this exhibit. Did you know that many of the vibrant patterns we typically associate as African prints are actually made in Holland? 

The actual style and cut of the skirts, blouses and head wraps are native to central and west African countries, but the actual prints are not. I had no idea. However, just because the prints aren't native to Africa doesn't mean that it's not part of their style identity. Because at the end of the day, these pieces really illustrate the fact that African women have beautiful taste and are not afraid of playing with colors and silhouettes. They do peplum right and wrap fabrics like royalty. It's what they've with these textiles, not it's origin. 

According to Philly.com, "In the 19th century, Dutch men who colonized Indonesia started to print and export textiles using the country's batik process. Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, a Dutchman and entrepreneur, founded Vlisco in 1846. Dutch traders - who eventually developed ways to make the batik prints using machines - brought shiploads of fabrics with them to African ports, and by 1876, they had established a new market in central and western Africa. Eventually, the look was refined with input from African open-air-market traders."

Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Just look at the combinations of patterns? It's fun, beautiful and full of life. It's royalty from head to toe. And why shouldn't we all feel like that when we get dressed? I found these pieces so inspiring and wake up call to celebrate color, fabric and design. 

Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Creative Africa, Philadelphia Museum of Art

You don't have too much time. Creative Africa goes down on September 25, 2016

The scent of perfume

The scent of perfume

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YSL perfume I will never forget the night before #WeAllGrow Summit 2015 - I was plagued with worry that I would not be well. TMJ had given me such a kick in the butt, my body was not to be trusted. Could I stand for long hours? Would I get dizzy? Will I get brain fog and forget everyone's name? I'd been doing so much better, it was all just too good to be true. All of this and more was playing over and over in my head as I came home from an evening of last minute shopping. I sat on my bed and looked over an empty suitcase that needed to be packed. I was so overwhelmed by all that still needed to be done, I decided to rest my head instead. I needed to clear my mind of all the noise. I felt a box underneath neck and quickly turned around to move it out of the way. It was then that I noticed a bottle of perfume beautifully wrapped in a gorgeous bow.

The scent of perfume

I called out to my fiancé and asked about this surprise gift. He looked at me, smiled and said, "I'm proud of you. You worked really hard to get well. I want you to feel your best at the conference, and I know how much you love perfume." What a beautiful way to attach a profound moment in my life to a beautiful scent. Every time I wear it, I recall his feelings for me and how determined I was to not let this disorder tarnish all that I had worked so hard for. It's the scent of new beginnings, success and triumph. It was all just plain old sexy, and that's something I had not felt in a long time.

He recently got me this bottle of YSL Mon Paris to add to my collection of "I'm proud you" gifts right before my 43rd birthday. With hints of red berries and pear, it exudes sensuality and femininity. It's very soft and subtle, and a great reminder that delightful aromas can completely transform your mood, lift your spirits and even help you forget about your worries.

Olive tee dress

Olive tee dress

Lou & Grey dressCurrently recovering from #BlogHer16, where I spoke on the best panel ever. I mean, take a look at my fellow panelists - Heidi Nazarudin from Blogger Babes and The Ambitionista, Evelyn Ngugi from Naturally Curly and Evelyn from the Internets, Jennifer Fishkind from Princess Pinky Girl and Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe of Social Espionage. It was seriously an honor to sit with these wonderful ladies to talk about social visual communication and brand building. My friend recorded the whole thing live on Facebook if you'd like to check it out. Lou & Grey BlogHer has a soft spot in my heart. It was the first conference I attended back in 2011, which, in internet years, was a long, long time ago. I remember nerding out with pen and paper in hand (yes, pen-and-paper) taking notes ferverously. I wanted to know everything and everyone. I went to all the parties, sessions and workshops until my feet begged me to stop. When you're new to this world, the discovery of it is so much fun. You find so many self-made women, writers, creatives, to name a few. I'm still in awe of the women I meet. 

Related post: Mom 2.0 Summit 

And now? Well, I find myself knee-deep into a career I never imagined I could have. And really, it all started with Latina Bloggers Connect and my first trip to BlogHer. I had no idea that I would've traveled around the country and made so many friends ... nor did I imagine that I would be speaking on a panel at the one of the biggest blogging conferences to date.  Lou & Grey dressBecause I knew I would be running from session to session, I wanted to wear something that could easily transition from casual to dressy in a pinch. To achieve this, I headed to Lou & Grey. I knew they would have something that could get me through the first day without having to change. The conference was in LA, and because I was commuting from home, there would be no ease of simply changing in a hotel room if I felt uncomfortable. 

Related post: 5 reasons why you need to attend #WeAllGrow Summit 

Lou & Grey sells insanely comfortably chic clothes that can be worn with sneakers, heels, boots, you name it. This tee dress would look just as good with a pair of Chuck Taylors or flats (which were handy in my tote). It got me through a 12 hour day, and I totally recommend if you're fan of comfort and style. I'll be honest though, the dress looked like a whole lot of nothing on the hanger. It wasn't my first choice. But my friend loved it, so we decided to try it on. We both walked into our dressing rooms with a medium and a small because we had no idea what the sizing was like. Her body is different than mine (she's petite and curvy), and both sizes actually fit us. I chose the medium because I liked a more lose fit. But if I wanted to go full-on sexy (let's go dancing), then the small would have been perfect. How's that for versatility? 

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Philly nights

Philly nights

Lush jumpsuit Please excuse the silence. I had out of town guests, and if you work from home, I'm sure you can understand how hard it is to get projects done. I've been dying to sit and go through all of my #VisitPhilly pictures, which deserved my undivided attention. Here's my first of several posts I'd like to share of my experience in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. We did way too much to wrap into one post. From the moment we landed to the second we boarded, we were kept very busy with all of the fun and interesting things Philly has to offer. Before I dive into the food (I have a post coming up for the vegans) and the tourist attractions, I need to start with Hotel Monaco because it's where I kicked back to relax between cocktails, art and segwaying through the city (yes! your girl hopped on a segway). Plus, it's gorgeous and I want everyone to stay there when they visit Philly.

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Hotel Monaco Philadelphia

The evening we arrived, we wasted no time. Monique and I checked into our rooms and met in the lobby to take advantage of their complimentary wine for guests. Between the hours of 5pm-7pm, you can grab yourself a glass (or two), play a game of chess or just relax. You didn't have to tell me twice. Wine? Yes, please. It's just one of the many perks of staying this stylish and beautiful boutique hotel.

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We sipped, we laughed (and reminisced about meeting Charles Barkley at the airport. He was on our flight. Yes, that happened. And yes, we asked for a picture!) and met up with our South Jersey amiga Ruby for some eats. We arrived a day before to ensure that we would be ready to tackle the itinerary in the morning. kimptondinner

Do I even need to explain this picture? There really wasn't much to do after I ate this because I had a nice case of food coma coupled with jet lag complicated by wine on an empty stomach. But that's what happens when you go to Philly. You want all the things. At the same time. This decadent dish can be found at Red Owl Tavern, along with a nice list of vegan and gluten-free options (because Monique and I are "those" people. The ones who have to make an order complicated). Their dishes are a warm and savory welcome to Philly. If you ever visit, you must stop by. They're located right next door to the hotel. Service and food get a big thumbs up.

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So this was my room. Wall to wall eye candy filled with textures, colors, patterns and history juxtaposed with modernity, which is what Kimpton Hotels are known for. The bed and pillows were super cozy, which is important for plopping yourself face-down after a long day. I needed this bed and all of its comfort glory. It is so hard for me to fall asleep in hotels, especially when I'm on the other side of the country from my son. He's 16, and I still haven't gotten used to it. Although he was in good hands with my fiancé, I still suffer from mom behavior no matter where I am. What are you doing? Where are you going? I'll wait up until you get home (hello, 3-hour time difference?). I mean, really. Thankfully the pillows, cheetah print robe and room service tea quieted my mind enough to get some rest.

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For after dinners drinks, the Stratus Rooftop Lounge located at the hotel is one of the city's hot spot with a great selection of gins, scotches, you name it. Not that I drink any of those. I order the same cocktail every time I go out for drinks. Amaretto Sour. Don't judge. It's a darn good drink. 

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Now that you know where I laid my head at night, I can't wait to share more of what I did. Stay tuned for more posts. In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about what I wore to Stratus Lounge, you can shop the story below!

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Images: Mine and Hotel Monaco

Halter jumpsuit

Halter jumpsuit

bluewhiteWhen I was in Philly, one of the women who hosted the tour told me that I was basically the queen of jumpers. It's pretty much all I packed, and what I've decided to wear all summer long. That, and dresses. I am not the most graceful summer girl. I don't like feeling hot. I don't like being sweaty unless I'm working out, and even then it's debatable. Knowing this about myself is why I keep it light and loose during the summer.

I've been loving Olivaceous for this very reason. They have so many options for summer, I could pretty much fill my wardrobe with their collection of beautiful, flowy prints like this halter jumpsuit.

bluewhite2 Olivaceous jumper, Breckell's heels, Hunting Season python clutch available in red)

Week in pictures: Say something

Week in pictures: Say something

LA palm trees This week in pictures will not be a stream of life's little pleasures like it usually is. I'm emotionally exhausted. I didn't take pictures. I didn't write much. I've been too sad to do much of anything. Everything just seemed trivial after the tragedies that have taken place over the last week.

I work in social media, so to say that I've been inundated with news, opinions, fears and outrage is an understatement. It's been a lot to process. Just when I was wrapping my brain around what happened to Alton Sterling, Philando Castile was shot five times in his car in front of his girlfriend and her 4 year old daughter. I watched both videos in horror and disbelief. 

I purposely keep away from videos of people fighting, getting hurt or killed. I'm an empath who will drown into depths of sorrow if I witness anyone physically suffering.  I do everything in my power to bypass these kind of tragedies for my own sanity. I read about it and I stay informed but I do not want to be part of today's tragedy porn culture. I do not want to contribute to the dehumanization of black men, which is exactly what these videos do. Yes, we need to see the truth. But at the same time it's damaging, and contributes to viewer desensitization and apathy. If we see it enough, we stop caring. Social media being what it is did not allow me to see escape the videos of these men dying. I saw it. 

As if things were not devastating enough, five police officers were killed in Dallas during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. I cried. I felt anger, disappointment, hurt, confusion and sadness. I worry for my son. This is the world he's growing up in. A complicated world where people are judged and persecuted because of their skin color, religion and, in this case, their profession.

I felt extremely hopeless this past week. I looked to Diamond Reynold's testimonies for strength and hope, as I shared videos from people whose voices needed to be heard. We all need to speak up. I'm trying my best to get out of these feelings of hopelessness. To be honest, it's hard right now. I'm trying little by little to get back to the enthusiasm I felt just two weeks ago. 

I encourage all of you to say something. Even if you don't know what to say or if you're still processing what has happened. We must unite in order to make a change. 

The art and practice of self-love

The art and practice of self-love

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Olivaceous wrap dress I can't believe it's already July. Where is the time going? It feels like the older I get, the faster time goes by. I turn 43 this month but it feels like I just turned 40 yesterday. The last three years have been a whirlwind of health related issues that seemed never ending. I will never forget the day I asked God why this was happening. I had no idea TMJ could cause so many scary symptoms. But even in the midst of it all, I knew that it was a sign for me to take better care of myself. It was the beginning of a long and very necessary road to self-love. And by self-love I mean taking care of my health with the right foods and exercise, nurturing my soul with creative outlets, meditation and yoga, finding a neutral person to talk to about stressful situations that (literally) attached themselves to my jaw and neck and staying inspired with art, books and photography.

The art and practice of self-love

Like most women, I thought I loved myself just fine. But did I take care of myself the way I would my son or a loved one? Did I make sure to eat right, get sunshine and practice all that I preached as a mom and daughter? Did I prioritize my own creative outlets? Was I in tuned with my emotional and mental health? Did I pay attention to the warnings signs my body was giving me?

Nope. None of the above.

If I wasn't caring for my mind, body and soul then how can I say I truly loved myself? Sure, I loved who I was but that's not the same thing. I was happy with me, my quirks, personality and had no qualms with what God gave me from my crazy curly hair down to my big calves. But was I practicing the art of what it means to truly love a person? No.

It took a physical trauma for me to realize that my soul had been neglected. And when the soul is not being taken care of, the body follows suit. Once that happens it takes a lot of TLC and self-awareness to get to the root of what's really going on inside, if you're willing to do the work. The work isn't always pretty. It doesn't always feel good. But I'm glad that I found the courage to explore the depths of my soul to heal old wounds. That is what I call practicing the art of self-love.

Related post: My TMJD story 

Every decade has a story, doesn't it? This one started off with some very interesting twists and turns, but without them I can't say I would have had this awakening, nor would I have so much knowledge about my well-being. I received the answer to my question, why is this happening and it's now up to me to do the work. 

So, here's to another birthday month. I'm ready for you!

Olivaceous wrap dress

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Week in pictures

Week in pictures

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Philly murals I have so many pictures from my trip to Philly, I'm still trying to figure out how to sort them all into posts. I had such an amazing time. More than I thought I would. You see, up until this trip, I had a very complicated relationship with Philly. My ex (and son's father) is from the outskirts ... So I only knew what was introduced to me at that time. I knew the more suburban, conservative, Protestant side, which was a completely different world than my upbringing in the Bronx. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with it (in fact, I gained a great deal from that experience) but at that time I was a feisty 20-something year old with a lot of sociopolitical, art and cultural interests that did not fit in very well. I was basically Angela from My So Called Life in a Rockwellian world. It really didn't need to be so complicated, but it was.

Eventually we made a move there for a bit and I got a job at the Philadelphia Art Museum, which was a pretty cool accomplishment to add to my resume. However, things in the marriage were not going well and I got my heart terribly broken. I had nothing but painful memories from my time there. As far as I was concerned, based on my experiences, Philly lacked diversity and it was filled with upsetting circumstances. So when I was recently asked to go there for three days of fun and adventure, I was a bit hesitant at first. After a nudge from my boss, I said yes. After all, the best way to take power away from difficult memories is by replacing them with amazing ones.

And that's exactly what happened.

From the moment I landed and met Charles Barkley at the airport (yes, that happened!) to running up the Museum steps like Rocky, the negative association I once attached to the city was completely gone. It was a trip that needed to be made, and I'm so glad I didn't listen to my first instinct. Philly has a lot to offer, and has changed/evolved in ways that made me proud to say that I once lived and worked there. I was also proud to say that, OK, I had some tough times there but without them I wouldn't be who and where I am today. I needed to go through that back then, and I needed to revisit as the woman I am today. As they say, everything happens for a reason.

I will be sharing more over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

amara

Glad to be back in LA, where I can get amazing arepas like this avocado chicken one from Amara Chocolate.

Blick art supplies

Picked up some fun goodies for products shoots. Blick, just take all my money.

Life, it happens

Life, it happens

Rachel Roy dress I've been active on social media but I've been quiet on the blog front over the last few weeks for three reasons 1. I had a horrible non-stop "sinus" headache for two weeks. Sinus is in quotes because it was really a TMJ headache in disguise. After going to ER and ending up on antibiotics to no avail, it was my chiropractor who pointed out that my neck is straight but perhaps my orthotic needed an adjustment. He was right. I got the adjustment and the headache went away 2. A few days later, our cat Zeus died suddenly from a blood cat. I'm still not even ready to talk about it. The pain from that whole experience has taken a toll on all of us 3. I flew to Philly for what turned out to be a life-altering experience in the best way possible (there will be more on that soon).

Life, it happens

So if you're ever down on yourself for not being able to keep up with your blog or personal projects, don't beat yourself up. Life is happening, and you need to be present for it. I have a ton of photos waiting to make their debut, like this one. I wore this dress to an event I went to several weeks ago for Yummy Spoonfuls hosted by Target. I love the tropical print, colors and flared bottom. It gives me all the Miami feels, which is great because I may be heading there soon. We're hosting our #WeAllGrow Cities there this year but I'm not sure what's happening yet because it's plenty busy here in LA. Either way, I'm ready!

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Week in pictures

Week in pictures

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Summer vacation

It's officially summer vacation in this house.

My son is finished with his finals and is enjoying his free time at home and with his friends. That is, until he starts summer school for math. Common core was introduced when my son was in the 9th grade, and it has been quite the ride. Not only did my son have to adapt to a rigorous high school schedule in a competitive school, he had to learn a whole new way of thinking about math. Believe it or not, he's not bummed about summer school. He feels he can focus on getting the grade without having to worry about other subjects. Hey, whatever works. It's so hard to get caught up in my own expectations. I've learned that the more I guide him without my own spin on it, the better off he is. 

Related post: Why I stopped agonizing over my son's grades

yummy spoonfuls at Target

A few days ago, I went to the Yummy Spoonfuls launch event hosted by Target. More to come.

theArtMuse cats I wrote my first post for SheKnows. Take a wild guess what it's about. I share a piece about love and cat allergies. It's a fun article. Check it out. 

I hope you have a great weekend. That sinus issue I had a few weeks back seems to be back. Hopefully, I'll be well enough to enjoy the sun. Fingers crossed!

Blushes and nudes

Blushes and nudes

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summer lip colorsSummer is here! That means, I work half days on Fridays and the company shuts down for a week so we can all go on our much needed vacations at the same time. We learned that there was no such thing as taking a vacation when everyone else was working. There was almost always a reason we needed to take a call or answer an email. By shutting it all down, we can safely not worry about missing anything.

'Summer Fridays' started last week so I used the rest of the day to organize everything I'd like to do this summer. It doesn't include travel (I will plan a few things, but nothing extravagant) so don't expect any posts from Santorini, Greece any time soon. It includes my glam room and art studio.

I started the glam room project about a year ago. It's been a labor of love, and is no where near where I'd like to be. Once it's all said and done, I will share all that we did. But one of the things I needed to work on was organizing the amount of product I get. I separated the colors and products I want to use this summer, starting with my collections from L'Oreal Paris. Nudes, roses, berry lip colors have a place of their own for easy access. The rest is still going in separate containers and drawers, including the many eye shadows that are waiting for me to use. Related post: Savory Summer nights with Urban Decay

We're also still setting up our art studio, which is an enclosed patio off of our living room with great natural lighting - another labor of love I will reveal soon. Right now, my fiancé is still staining the legs that are going on our dining room table while I sort through tubes of paint. I also came across this painting I did not too long ago, and thought I'd share as a way of letting you to expect more illustrations from moi. Feels so good to be in the studio working on projects. Can't wait to share more!

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Week in pictures

Week in pictures

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adult coloring bookThe Coloring Book of Mindfulness and ink pencils = perfection 

This past week has been all about getting into a workout schedule, setting up work projects and crashing on the couch from exhaustion. I need my full 8 hours or I can't function. My son has been studying for finals and my fiancé is still working on our dining room table. Once it's done, I will be sure to share what was done.

In between, we've been taking it easy with an adult coloring book (which is better than meditation for me), a nice dinner at home or vegging on the couch with one or all of the cats. If you have a cat, you know I'm talking heaven here. There's nothing like cuddling with your fur baby at night while watching a movie (in our case basketball). We have four of them, so imagine all three of us sprawled us on the couch surrounded by cats after a long day of work, studying and sawing wood. It's quite the scenario.

poseidon cat

Poseidon never leaves my side.

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Thank you The Crossings for quenching our thirst this week.

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This V60 Dripper for coffee has been our BFF.

Beyond Shadows with Greg 'Craola' Simkins

Beyond Shadows with Greg 'Craola' Simkins

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Greg 'Craola' Simkins I recently attended Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins' opening reception for Beyond Shadows. His work is a delightful fall into the rabbit hole of imagination filled with colorful phantasmic characters living in their own worlds.

Greg 'Craola' Simkins

Beyond Shadows with Greg 'Craola' Simkins

As soon as we saw the event announcement, we grabbed our cameras and headed out. Unfortunately when we got there, I really was not able to take my own pictures. I had to ask Launch LA to send over theirs because by the time we got to the opening - it was elbow to elbow. I usually like to publish my experience at a show through my own lens but sometimes it's not possible. I hope to go back and experience the space all to myself (OK, I'll share if I have to).

Greg 'Craola' Simkins

Many of the paintings were pretty massive in size, which is why I need to go back to see them in a less crowded space. Each work has a story of its own featuring hyper-real animal hybrids, tattooed lemons and octopus clocks -- you really have to step back and take it all in.

Greg 'Craola' Simkins

Greg Simkins is from Torrance, California and started his life of art by the age of three. When he got older, he delved into the graffiti world with the pseudonym "Craola" before working as an illustrator and full-time artist. You can now see his work at sold out shows, clothing and video games.

“My artistic journey began as a child daydreaming and creating strange realms where anything was possible. It later turned into going on adventures, writing on walls in the shadows of night. What if those walls began to crumble? What would we encounter as we emerge on the other side? Would it be lands full of flying fish, giant birds, and Noble Knights? Would I belong or fit in? Journey with me over the wall as we discover what lies beyond the shadows." -Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins

To see Beyond Shadows and his other exhibit Drip Scripts, both shows will up at Launch LA until June 18th, 2016

TMJ, weight and the perfect chambray jumpsuit

TMJ, weight and the perfect chambray jumpsuit

Chambray jumpsuitIn the last year or so, I've gained a bit of weight. My TMJ disorder forced my body into a ton of changes since it first erupted two years ago. Initially, I dropped 35 pounds right away. I wasn't able to eat and had zero appetite. I got too thin. When I started the current treatment I'm on, I got my appetite back and ate all the food. All the food. I did not care. I just wanted to be happy. I not only gained all my weight back, I gained another 30 pounds on top of that (if it doesn't show, it's all in the pose). Why an additional 30? Well, I was not able to workout or even go for walks because one of my symptoms was vertigo. I had to be very careful about doing anything that would make it worse. Saying that this disorder is a nightmare is understatement. I was going to eat my pizza, and no one was going to stop me. Until ...

TMJ, weight and the perfect chambray jumpsuit

My naturopath did labs on me, and the results showed that my body was not doing well on this "new" diet. Turned out I was gluten intolerant, which was causing all kinds of terrible inflammation. My body was not absorbing nutrients but it had no problem storing fat and the bad stuff. I had to get off gluten right away, and change my eating habits - the ones that brought me comfort and joy. The ones that gave me a sense of normalcy during a time when nothing seemed right. Room spinning? Nope. Not normal. That brownie? Normal.

I never had this kind of relationship with food until I was not well. And I can totally see how it can spiral out of control. But my vertigo is gone as well as many of symptoms, so it's time for me to break up with the foods that are not good for me. I've been doing it slowly with the help of wellness coach, Morena Escardo. I also reopened my gym membership, and have been back at it this last week. It felt so great to be back. But I'll be honest, making the jump and committing to watching everything I eat and making sure I do cardio everyday is not always easy. Not only is it a change in lifestyle, but my ultimate goal is all about rebuilding my health, strength and body from trauma, which can take it's toll physically and emotionally. 

Related: My TMJD story

In the meantime, I've also had to learn how to dress my changing body. Many of my clothes don't fit anymore and I don't want to break the bank buying new things if I'm in the process of exercising and eating healthier, which will likely result in weight loss. Thank God for the wide leg ankle length trend this summer. I got this jumpsuit from Madewell, and I feel great in it. Whether I lose or gain weight, finding silhouettes that flatter my figure is key. Chambray jumpsuit

I share much of my journey on Snapchat. If you'd like to follow along, you can find me as theArtMuse.

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Week in pictures

Week in pictures

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Hip Cooks Los Angeles Beautiful bouquet at Hipcooks 

It's been a full week of work but it didn't stop us from enjoying a few nights out with friends. That's one of the perks of having older children. You can go out without worrying about a babysitter. You get a little bit of that grown up time back, and can head out for things like a drink with friends or a date night ... on a weekday, of all things! We don't do it often because we like our family dinners, but sometimes you just have to indulge. Plus, do you think my 16 year old son minds having the place to himself for the evening? Not at all.

Life is too short, and it's very easy to get in rut when you have work, pay bills, and so on. But you have to make the effort to get dressed up and join the world. This week the fiancé and I went to a cooking and wine tasting event that was so much fun. We drank, we cooked and we ate. And then we ate some more. I will tell you all about in a separate post because the recipes are too good to not share. We also went to a much needed comedy show at Ice House Comedy (a landmark in Pasadena), which I had not been to yet. It was ridiculously fun, and I cannot believe it was my first time going. If you ever go, you must order their Monster Nachos. It's so good. 

I'm still not sure what we're doing this Memorial Day weekend. My fiancé is in the process of refurbishing a dining table and my son has finals coming up. The kiddo has a lot of studying to do. A lot. Hoping we can get away for a little bit and enjoy the weather. After all, it is a weekend to be thankful to those who served and sacrificed for our freedom. A bit of relaxation is in order. 

Gluten free greek pizzaMy favorite pizza from Tomato Pie, Gluten-free and ala Greek.

Los Angeles viewGorgeous view from Forest Lawn Memorial, where we recently saw the the Eyvind Earle exhibition.

Summer shadows

Summer shadows

Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow Lately I've gotten in the habit of dabbing a bit of eyeshadow to go with my mascara and liner before leaving the house, which is something I did not always do. Maybe now that I'm a bit older, I like the idea of adding a little color and shimmer to brighten up my eye. I have very large lids, and when I'm tired ... Boy, do they show it. So I tested out L’Oréal Paris' New Colour Riche Monos, and they're giving me the refresher I need. 

Related: Tips for brightening tired eyes

L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos

L’Oréal Paris sent me a beautiful collection of colors that are perfect for summer. They look mild but they're surprisingly vibrant with a gorgeous shimmer. You can lightly dab one color or build out for endless looks. I also tried out their Brow Artist Genius Kit and they're great for the woman who likes a natural looking brow. Honestly, the brow situation has gotten out of hand on the interwebs! They should frame the face, not completely take over. This little palette is buildable, so if coloring in your brows scares you a bit, this is a good one to try. 

Related: Luminous with L'Oreal Paris

Take a look at these products up-close and a few other goodies from L’Oréa to give your a subtle wow factor for the summer days coming up ahead. 

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The Exhibition of a Disney Legend

The Exhibition of a Disney Legend

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BLAZING GLORY Eyvind Earle We recently attended a beautiful exhibit at Forest Lawn Museum focusing on the work of Eyvind Earle. Magical, soothing and colorful are the first words that come to mind when I think of his work. But before I get into the show, can I just say that I've never been to this museum? I'm so ashamed to admit that I've lived in LA for, wow, 12 years! And I did not know that Forest Lawn had a museum. A wonderful museum, at that. Great space, views, all of it.

COASTAL PARADISE Eyvind EarleEyvind Earle: The Exhibition of a Disney Legend

OK, so back to Eyvind and the Exhibit of a Disney Legend. The show is a centennial celebration of the artist's work and is the first major exhibition in LA in over 25 years. Admittedly, when I was invited I did not know too much about the artist and his entire body of work, but I knew that he created several background paintings for the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, which was all the reason I needed to attend. His work is stunning. Who doesn't want to wonder, marvel and get lost in beautiful art work? After all, that's what Disney is all about. I wanted to see these paintings up, close and personal. PARADISE Eyvind EarleThe exhibition did not disappoint. There was even a short film featuring the artist painting away on several canvases at a time, which gave us insight into how he created his pieces. We were surprised to learn that they were all from memory. He lays out a black pattern at first in acrylics then slowly builds up in oils. The simplicity of it was fascinating. PURPLE FOG Eyvind EarleThis is from memory? He had quite a magical mind with a very beautiful glimpse into the feeling behind what I saw and remembered. THE SHADOWS DEEPEN Eyvind EarleIf you're in LA, take up drive up Forest Lawn to see Eyvind Earle: The Exhibition of a Disney Legend. The show is filled with more than seven decades of Earle's oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and sketches. The show ends January 1st. THREE NOBLE HORSES Eyvind Earle

Images courtesy of Eyvind Earle Publishing

Navy and blush

Navy and blush

Bishop + Young dressThe blog got a little quiet this past week because I've been dealing with a cold that will not let up. It started with sinus pain so intense it landed me in urgent care. They really couldn't do much for me so the next day I went to my naturopath's office, who gave me a list of things to do. The voodoo magic worked (herbs, hydrotherapy, sulfur nebulizer) but my body is taking its sweet time recovering from this demon virus.

I refused to spend another weekend on the couch overdosing on Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown so we hit up a few art shows and hung out with friends. Since my hair was still sort of done on Sunday, we decided to catch up on the blog by doing a few shoots. My fiance is still recovering from a cold as well, so his eye was not the sharpest. Hence, the slight blurriness. But I refuse to reshoot. Bishop + Young dressBishop + Young dress, Kohls heels, Rachel Roy clutch old

I bought this dress for #WeAllGrow Summit and wore it for all my panel. It's all types of comfortable. Plus, the color and style really goes from season to season. It looks great with dark reds for fall and blushes for spring and summer. LA nights are cool, so you can get away with a long sleeve. 

Hopefully, I won't get a cold like that for a long time. Summer is coming up and I want to enjoy every bit of it. 

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5 reasons why you need to attend #WeAllGrow Summit 2017

5 reasons why you need to attend #WeAllGrow Summit 2017

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I didn't immediately write a recap about #WeAllGrow Summit 2016 because 1. It was a lot to digest 2. I wanted to wait until we made our 2017 announcement so I could really explain why you need to be at our next conference. But before I do that, I invite you to watch the video created by the very talented Andrea Franco.

Whether you're a veteran blogger, a youtuber, newbie, instagrammer or barely opening a Twitter account, #WeAllGrow Summit will help you get started and/or take things to next level. The conference speaks to the creator/artist/writer/dreamer in you above anything. Yes, sure, you will learn how to be an SEO pro and you will know everything there is to know about Youtube, Instagram Facebook and Pinterest, but you will also truly understand why your voice is important and needed in the digital space.

#WeAllGrow Summit

You will also make a lot of new friends. A lot. And that is very important for what we do. Blogging/vlogging can be isolating. Collaborations, discussions and simply having a soundboard is so necessary when you're working hard to build a brand. 

5 reasons why you need to attend #WeAllGrow Summit 2017

Memorable Field Trips

Before we break into sessions and pop the opening night champagne, content creators enjoy a full day of field trips (with breathtaking views) set up by brands and the city's tourism bureau. This experience is designed to give attendees the California experience. After all, many are flying here from all over the country (and now, all over the world), we want to make the trip one they will remember for years to come. We've often traveled to conferences and found ourselves wishing we had more time to eat local dishes, visit a museum or see the sites. There was never enough time. We made sure to include this into the #WeAllGrow experience. Not only does everyone get to enjoy a beautiful day of exploring, they're also getting to know the brands while bonding with another on a personal level. That's really what long-lasting friendships and relationships are made of - shared experiences. We want everyone to feel welcomed, refreshed and relaxed before getting into the 'who, where, why, how' of creating a successful brand online. 

#WeAllGrow Summit

Powerful sessions and keynotes 

We do our best to vet the best of the best when it comes to speakers and keynotes. We want our attendees to learn from peers, PR agencies, strategists, brands and celebrities who have used their influence to empower others. The conversations range from owning your individuality, the art of negotiating to using your voice, story and journey for social good. We hear what our creators are talking about, and we do all that we can to make sure that they know we're listening and are here to get the answers to their questions. 

#WeAllGrow Summit

Brands love you 

From field trips to gorgeous suites (and I do mean, gorgeous!), the brands who sponsor #WeAllGrow know that our attendees have impeccable taste when it comes to a variety things like beauty, fashion, food, you name it. They want to make sure everyone is pampered and getting the much TLC they deserve. They recognize that many are leaving families at home and taking time off from work to be there. They honor and respect your time, and want you to look and feel your best during your stay. 

#WeAllGrow Summit

#WeAllGrow Summit

Nurtures the soul 

The Latina Bloggers Connect team consists of women who practice what they preach. #WeAllGrow is not putting anything out there just because it is a trend or cool to do. We are a team made of up artists, creative writers, educators, yogis, healthy food fanatics, social good ambassadors and more. In fact, many us were/are bloggers ourselves. We are living what we share, and learning each and everyday ... just like you. Our morning meditation session, Latina Makers Market along with every single detail comes from the core values of the company. We know firsthand that if the mind, body soul aren't connected, it will reflect in your work. 

#WeAllGrow Summit

#WeAllGrow Summit

Sisterhood 

#WeAllGrow Summit

A conference needs to be more than just a podium and a microphone if you really want attendees to feel like they truly gained something. We're all about creating experiences and memories that will dig in deep and manifest itself into your work. We want you to get back to your computer (and home life) with a fresh perspective. But we also want you to have the support you need. #WeAllGrow Summit thrives on creating long-lasting meaningful relationships. We have a sisterhood that is unmatched, which can felt throughout our #WeAllGrow Summit Storytellers presentation. Love, support and warmth radiates the room as 6 selected storytellers get up on stage to share the pivotal moments in their lives that made them who they are today. 

#WeAllGrow Summit Storytellers

These are the moments that inspired the 2017 theme: Energy of Sisterhood. #WeAllGrow Summit taking place on March 2-4, 2017 at the beautiful and scenic Hotel Maya once again. This location is just too perfect to not have it there again. Join us. Tickets go on sale on May 16th at 9am PST. Did I mention that they're half-off? 

#WeAllGrow Summit

Still thinking about it? Here are a few posts to help you make up your mind. 

See you in 2017!

#WeAllGrow Summit

Photos: Robson Muzel and Neutrogena