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Friday Movie Review: Echo Park

If you’re in the mood for something different, other than the usual Hollywood blockbuster, then I highly recommend Echo Park, a marvelously beautiful movie set in the enchanting Echo Park neighborhood, a fun, hip neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Directed by Amanda Marsalis and written by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, the film stars Sophie( Mammie Gummer), a Beverly Hills resident just getting out of a long-term relationship and London-born Alex ( Anthony Okungbowa) who already resides in Echo Park but is is looking to move back to his home country, although that is halted when the two cross paths.

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A sparkling romance soon blooms amid the beautiful backdrop of Echo Park, a key player in the movie,  with its charming neighborhoods and urban cafe’s, highlighting that idea that economic and ethnic backgrounds do not matter when love is involved, which has a similar feeling to 500 Days of Summer and  Celeste and Jesse Forever, both of which are also filmed in Los Angeles.

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Other than the romance involved between the two, I love the idea that Los Angeles is depicted in a different light than it usually, with all the glitz and glamour that we are bombarded by in Hollywood. The characters are real, naturally beautiful, revealing a fresh look at how love can suddenly change.

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Echo Park is an independent film with a gritty, cozy atmosphere that isn’t so shiny and new looking that we see in many traditional romantic comedies.  As someone who has lived in Los Angeles and has been to Echo Park countless times, it’s nice to see the real L.A., not the fake one that we usually see on television, though that exists also, but it isn’t the norm. Most importantly, I love that the movie reflects various characters from different cultural backgrounds, which is also realistic to the vibrant city.

The soundtrack ain’t bad either.

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Mother’s Day Gifts I’m Lovin’ ( A Mini Gift Guide)

Now that I’m a mom, Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning.  Though I still shop for my own mother, now I know what it means to get gifts for the special day. Since becoming a mother, my wants and needs have also changed as well.  Normally, I’d just like  something that’s fashion forward or nice art, which I still enjoy,  but lately I’ve enjoyed practical things and experiences, or those items that are of use to me, such as a relaxing massage or a fun trip out of town! For everyone, receiving gifts is not only fun, it lets you know that you’re cared for and every now and then I also still enjoy to get dressed up.

But since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, nothing says “I love you” like a thoughtful gift that will make her feel beautiful.  When she feels beautiful, she’ll feel happy!  Here are some fun gift ideas for Mother’s Day that I think are awesome and that she will like!

STOWAWAY

Recently, I’ve just cleaned out my makeup junk drawer and got rid of all old jars, tubes and bottles that have gone bad or I’m just not feeling at the moment.  I can’t stand clutter and since attempting to cultivate simplicity in my life, STOWAWAY cosmetics has been a game changer when it comes for only using what you need.

STOWAWAY beauty has lipsticks, foundations, blushers-everything that you need in your makeup arsenal at half the size, so it won’t go bad before you’re finished using it.  Perfect for those who don’t wear lots of makeup and for those on the go, so that it fits easily into your handbag.

Right now, the brand is offering free shipping over $50 and $50  off purchases over $150 off of “All the Colors” set or you can get a free lipstick with purchase of the kit.

ISHARYA

Dainty jewelry is in right now, but sometimes, I like to wear something with a bit more oomph. Amid the tiny jewelry trend, I like Isharya jewelry because of it’s inspired Indian style, which  has something for everyone and is the perfect mix of fun and exotic style and glamour.  Founded by sister-in-law’s Gauri and Radhika Tandon, Isharya’s on-trend  looks can easily be worn everyday, or transitioned into evening wear.

Right now, Isharya is featuring the Deco Collection, a beautiful array of geometrically cultivated necklace, earrings, bracelets and rings and if you sign up as an insider, you’ll receive 10% off your first order.

Oliver Bonas

At home, it’s the little things, as well as the big things that matter.  Space plays an an important role in getting inspiration.  Having your own space allows you to be…you.  Oliver Bonas literally has everything to fit your design and gifting needs from furniture to home decor, bath and body, pillows, throws, gardening to books, wall art, even clothing, accessories and marble landline telephones!

.The playful items allows one to have fun  like a kid, but still live like an adult when needed. Save 70% off all sale items. You can even personalize your gifts.

NAADAAM

In the Steppe region of Mongolia, goats reside and grow a rare while wool, in which herders use a long lived tradition to gently shave off the goat’s undercoats  to create  the cashmere items created by Naadaam Cashmere.  Naadaam Cashmere uses no middle man to create their goods, which means that the herders are able to continue to their tradition, the goats are raised in a veterinarian program and the brand gets o easily obtain some of the rarest goods in the world.

Naadaam sells cashmere items for men and women, including accessories from a “Cradle to Cradle” certified cashmere yarn, a healthy way to clothes people around the world, while keeping the environment healthy and clean.

Right now, Naadaam is featuring a Spring Into Mind Giveaway, for your chance to win amazing gifts valued from $195 to $399. Just click here!

Free shipping on all domestic purchases is also available as well as international flat-rate shipping, valued at $25.

Warby Parker

No cool style this time of year is complete without a eye-grabbing pair of spectacles.  Warby Parker has just come out with lovely shades in endless shapes and colors for your mother’s (or your own) personal tastes.

The stylish brand starts at just $95 a pop and comes in lovely shades such as Tilly in Grapefruit Soda,  Barkley Striped Beach With Crystal and Eastman in Belize Blue.

Every pair that you purchase allows Warby Parker to also give a pair for free to someone in need and the nifty at-home try-on kit allows you to try on 5 pairs for free!

 

 

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Get Juiced For Amanda Bacon’s Beauty Line

If names like Rose Moon, Beauty Nectar, or even Cilantro Celery Punch sound deliciously enticing, then you’re in for a treat. Meet wellness it-girl, Amanda Chantal Bacon. Hailing from New York City, the culinary queen and juice goddess has turned her love of green juices into a unique epicurean delight, which not only serves the stars, but fitness mavens, and wellness novices alike, turning her passion for food into a holistic following.

As a world-traveling chef, mom, and passionate food educator, Bacon wants to guide the world into leading a more sustainable way of living. She teaches the benefits of medicinal food through her company, Moon Juice, a “certified organic, medical grade, vortex that makes the highest quality and potency, best tasting foods on earth.” The expanding business has turned into a celestial destination for those seeking cosmic beauty and vitality.

“You’re going to think it sounds silly, but I rely on green juice for beauty,” says Bacon. “It’s great for staying calm, staying sane, and for getting glowing skin. Among other things green juice alkalizes your body and gets your intestines working properly. You get great skin because your liver and your guts are working properly, and you stay slim because all of your bodily functions are in line, and your hormones are balanced.”

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Various collections of cold-pressed moon milks, juices, tonics, dusts, cosmic provisions, and copious food options can be found at her quaint little shop in Venice, CA, serving up quite the storm to fans like Gwyneth Paltrow. According to Bacon, all of the juices are like (what she would call), a salad, delivering culinary knowledge through a medicinal filter.

“I created Moon Juice for people interested in a new way of living. Not a way where you have to erase your past, but a way fueled by excitement to help yourself live better, here and now. Moon Juice is a cosmic beacon for those seeking out beauty, wellness and longevity.”

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Moon Juice has multiple locations, Venice, the original store, which opened up in 2013; Silver Lake, California; and soon-to-be Brooklyn, New York (where Bacon grew up). All locations offer flavors from the best locally sourced, green, and 100% organic products. However, that isn’t the only thing the wellness maven has under her belt. Bacon has also added a cosmetic line, which promises to deliver luminescent, soft skin that glows like the moon. With the belief of nourishing oneself from the inside out, Bacon collaborated with Ocadite’s Valerie Grandury to create Claire de lune, made of the most potent ingredients available.

Organic rose and aloe mist sets the tone for the new cosmetics line, with claims to  rejuvenates the skin and protect, while carrot seed oil provides earthy resilience. The $88 kit can be purchased at Moonjuiceshop.com.

The energy and nutrient-giving tonics and juices at Moon Juice are the perfect way to start (or end) your day. You don’t have to be a wellness expert to digest the magic of Bacon’s healing concoctions, as they can provide healing from the inside out to anyone (health guru, or not), which is a treat in of itself.

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Inslee

As you may already know, fashion is a mix of design and art, cultivated into self expression. Fashion drawings are always cool, in my opinion, because of their detailed rendering and use of color to indicate different swaths of fabric.  Communicating style with illustration is a talent in of itself but when that drawing comes to life, it’s truly amazing to see the finished product.

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Inslee Fariss, a New York City based artist who owns Inslee,  and illustrator makes everyday come to life with her fashion drawings, from cafe settings to various women in their element, Fariss always remembers to make it fashionable.

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Fariss’ studio, located in Soho, is where she, along with her team, creates prints, stationary, as well as wall art, which makes her paintings truly unique.  Fariss’ sense of elegance mixed with imperfect imperfections, adds a charm.Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.52.52 AM.png

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Utilizing an NYC stationer with a history of incorporating fine stationary, Inslee also includes calendars, prints, iphone cases ,figure studies and classes.

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Inslee By Design Calendar

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Since spring is finally here and with the impending summer, Inslee’s designs make a great addition to spruce up a home,  (or closets) with some fun, girly elements.  What do you think?  Which look is your favorite?

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Coping With Stress

On Sundays, I usually like to begin my day with positive mediation, a brisk walk or jog and brunch with is usually followed by cleaning up to music or some other relaxing activity, then slowing dwindling into pure laziness, wine and movies by the end of the night.

Yesterday was one of those perfect spring days with chirping birds, cool breezes and pure pleasure.  I had no plans to leave my house but had forgotten something that I had made a mental note of the day before.  I had to make two stops that day, so in the car I went with my little one.  Since I was able to chill out a bit, I decided to take my son to the park for a while to play before heading to the store.  It was the ideal Sunday.

After leaving the store with a whining, tired toddler in tow, we hopped in the car only for it to not start. Not only that, I happened to have parked directly across from someone who appeared to be listening to something on their car radio (windows were rolled up).  I though, “Ah-ha, I will ask this kind gentlemen to help me jumpstart my car”.  Thankfully, I had my own set of jumper cables, so I gestured to the guy, pleading for him to help me with my car. Instead of getting out, he just gave me a shrug and some kind of look. I held up my cables again, just in case he didn’t see me, perhaps? Same thing.  So whatever, I decided to just sit there in the parking lot and not get angry and stew until someone else came by and they did!

So, thankfully, I was able to get my car jumped and off to one more stop, in which case my toddler began to act ferociously frantic.  Trader Joe’s was our last stop for the day,  and if you’ve been there on a Sunday then you probably understand how crowded it can get.

Long lines in every lane, trying to calm down a toddler after being snubbed for help prior to, a nice woman with kids let me cut in line in front of her.

I admit, I can be a bit of a  hothead and not getting angry that day really took some effort, but case in point, dealing with stress is doable and it can totally make or break the rest of your day.  I decided not to get mad at the guy who wouldn’t help me jumpstart my car for whatever reason.  After all, it wasn’t his job to help a fellow human being.  However, instead of allowing that incident and my toddler screaming and falling out to stress me out, I decided to simply focus on the kind people that did help out.

Case in point, it’s easy to focus on the negative of life and get totally out of whack about it, but it’s true- it’s not life, it’s your perception of life that determines your outlook. Focusing on the negative only makes it worse.

Needless to say, I had also lost my credit card that day (le sigh) but in the grand scheme of things, crap happens and not sweating the small stuff makes the crap not seem so crappy.

Thankfully, I have bliss products for relaxing facials and massages to really wind down from a hectic day.

Right now, Bliss World is offering readers $99 memberships, which includes a fab facial and 1 60 minute massage per month, with an additional 10% off add-ons.

+ Art Can Do Amazing Things for Your Mind  and Body so stare at a soothing painting while you soak, listen to music or before going to sleep.

March 2004, Reno, Nevada, USA --- A huge neon sign on an arch declares Reno to be "the biggest little city in the world." --- Image by © Owaki - Kulla/CORBIS

Reno, Nevada City Guide

In my first city guide series, I talked about Solvang, California.  This time around, Reno, Nevada gets the limelight as a city bustling with vibrancy and lots to do, especially if you are the outdoorsy type.  However, you do not have to be a nature expert to discover all the rustic charm that Reno has to offer as there is something unique for everyone!

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Amidst Slide Mountain, Lake Tahoe, Carson Valley stands the hidden gem, surrounded by the Sierra Nevadas that boast up to 5,000 ft. of gorgeous skyline.  Though Reno is often overshadowed by it’s more glittery sister city, Las Vegas, it offers a quieter role as an ideal travel destination.

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Taking a trip into the city, you’ll discover luscious tree-lined neighborhoods, cafe’s marinas, victorians, bed and breakfasts, craftsmans, casinos, history, delicious cuisine and much more in the city known as “ The Biggest Little City in the World” .

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One of my favorite places to go in the city is Midtown, a nice area that is just minutes from Downtown.  I always enjoy the shops that resemble little craftsman homes, which, in my opinion, gives the city a more neighborly feel, such as DRESSED boutique, which has become a favorite of mine.

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DRESSED boutique

One of the best places to sit down and relax to a cozy cup of coffee (or tea) is Hub Coffee Roasters, a charming environment, set alongside a park , a river and other quaint shops.  Inside the cafe adds a nice touch of brick with bars and benches.

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Hub Coffee Roasters

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Hub Coffee Roasters

Next to Hub Coffee is an elegant tea shop with the same name, except is offers tea! Unlike the grittier backdrop of the coffee shop, the tea cafe is light, elegant and offers a soothing feel for it’s customers.

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Hub Tea Cafe

The relaxed environment allows one to sit inside, outside or enjoy the riverwalk across the street!

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Photo courtesy of about.com

If you’re into adventure, Reno is a mecca for snowboarders, skiers, canoeing, walking, jogging, mountain climbing, thanks to it’s surroundings and Lake Tahoe, and one of the best ski resorts, North Star ski resort, located near Reno, which is minutes from the border of California.

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Photo courtesy of Holistic Marketing Concepts

If you’d rather make money, of course, Reno has plenty of places for hitting the slot machines.  Many of the casinos in the city are connected to hotels, such as the Peppermill just downtown.  Casino hotels offer more than gambling if that’s not your thing.  Spas, entertainment, restaurants other amenities are also available. Nevada just wouldn’t be Nevada without casinos, however.

Or you can take a stroll at the Legends of Sparks Marina, located in Sparks, Nevada, minutes from Reno, which boasts lakefront homes, just behind the Sparks Outlet, which also gets covered in snow during the winter but looks like a beach community during the summer.

Dine at 4th Street Bistro or JJ’s Pie Company, which has some of the best pizza in the city.  Or relax at La Petite, a charming victorian inspired abode, turned into a day spa.

Virginia City is also another cool spot that’s filled with history. Once the home of Mark Twain, the small town is now a historical sites, filled with shops, restaurants and candy shops, with a sprinkling of historical homes.

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Finally, Reno has much to offer in a city.  Relaxed, yet fun, charming and filled with inspiring people who are on the go.  It’s a small city but is quickly being put on the map due to it’s beauty. Just minutes from the border of California, Reno is only 3 hours from the Bay Area and is quickly growing into one of the top cities to live.

 

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Here Goes…

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it,” according to Maya Angelou.

So, I had decided to start my blog totally from scratch because, to be honest, I didn’t really like the direction the last one was going. However, then again, I decided to simply keep my existing one with a revamped style.   I still would like to keep a joyful theme which talks about what inspires me,  but I would like to not have it too fluffy, but with more depth, so to speak.

I have many blogs that are inspirational to me and since I am somewhat new to the blogosphere compared to seasoned veterans, I am getting used to how it works, but I have decided to take off the training wheels and just go for what I think works for ME and not try to follow the steps of other blogs that I admire and just…be myself, because that’s really the only way to be.

Since I am am a writer, I hope to cultivate simplicity while getting my point across in a more fluid way.  So far, here are some things that I am really enjoying at the moment and enjoy speaking about often.

Travel- Because, well, who doesn’t enjoy traveling.  I’m sure some people don’t, but I do.  Just recently took a trip to Reno/ Lake Tahoe and it is quite the up and coming city that not many people are familiar with.

Food- Some of my favorite places to eat are in San Francisco as well as homed cooked meals.  I just had the best fish and chips at a ski resort in Mammoth Mountain of all places.

Style- Style to me is one of the things that I’ve always loved.  Since a little girl exclaiming how I can’t wait to be a women when I was at the women’s department with my mom, fashion, interior design, beauty, all sorts of ways to style up my life has always been something that I gravitate towards.  However, I am no “Glamazon” and I am not into wearing 12 inch heels.  Comfy, yet chic is my mantra and I can’t afford to be uncomfortable all day, especially when chasing a little one around.

Decor- This obviously goes in line with style but decor is really grabbing my attention lately, especially homes with that rustic/flea market find/Scandinavian/beach look going on.  Minimalism isn’t quite my thing and I enjoy a break from the ubiquitous black and white every so often but I find a great interior to be really important in quality of life.

Beauty-Beauty is found everywhere and it doesn’t always have to pertain to a woman’s appearance.  However, since I am an esthetician, I like the topic of makeup and cosmetics as well as other diverse aspects of beauty.

Creativity- Being creative, whether it’s belting out a song, sketching, painting or even writing is very important to me as well. Though I am a painter, I always enjoy watching someone else being creative on stage or through other forms of art.

Life- Cultivating happiness, enjoying, loving life, creating my own joie de vivre is very important as well.  As a creative person, sometimes, not feeling like my work is good enough can be a downer, so finding passion and purpose is a great way to stay grounded, as well as finding ways to show gratitude.

Random Ramblings- And any other miscellaneous topics I find of interest as the mood hits.

So, that’s what my blog is about in a nutshell. Talk soon!

 

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Skin Cleanse

 

Hi guys!

Hope you are having a gorgeous day!  Well, today I’d like to talk about the Skin Cleanse, by Adina Grigore, author, nutritionist and founder of S.W. Basics.  Skin Cleanse is an amazing book with a wealth of information, which covers several topics regarding troublesome skincare needs.

For one, Skin Cleanse isn’t a quick fix, product junkie approach.  Since, we truly are what we eat, Skin Cleanse talks about how our diets affects our skin.  Everything that we eat is linked to our guts, so when we eat junk, we get blotchy, inflamed, blemished, acne-prone skin.  However, when we eat healthy foods that nourish our bodies, our skin becomes clear and radiant, of course.

Grigore’s unique approach, unlike many other skin care books out there isn’t a diet book.  Instead, there is a processes of elimination approach to what we eat, paired with nutrient-rich foods (and lots of water). By eliminating foods that are causing issues for you, such as stomach pain, rashes, bloating, gas, etc. you can then, effectively pin down why your skin reacts the way it does.  For a while now, I’ve suffered from an uneven skin complexion and sometimes an acne would pop up here and there and I couldn’t quite pin down how to alleviate it.  When reading this book, I’ve learned that not only was the culprit dairy, which clogged my pores, but my skin was likely not getting enough hydration.  Since reading the book, I can attest that my skin is clearer and despite living in the desert, I haven’t really suffered much from dry skin.

Skin cleanse has sort of changed my life, in a way.  I’ve always been a healthy eater, but now I know what foods to steer clear from and what to eat, for clear, supple skin.  Grigore also offers simple recipes for making your own products, paired with delicious green recipes.  Grigore even goes into your family history, what your ancestors have probably eaten and why you should probably eat/or not eat the same foods.

Skin Cleanse is a really cool, informative book if you are looking to solve whatever is ailing your skin.  Since no two people are exactly alike, it’s about incorporating your own regimen for suiting your unique needs.  You really should check it out!

 

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Scrambled Eggs With a Secret Ingredient

After spotting this recipe, I just had to post it.  This particular scrambled egg creation was originated by the Kitchy Kitchen, featuring Aunt Ree’s Special Scrambled Eggs with Sour Cream, Chives and a Secret Ingredient.

You’d never guess what the secret ingredient is.  Well, until you read the recipe of course.

 

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What You Need:

5 eggs
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chives, finely minced or snipped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

 

How to Make It:

  1. Whisk together the eggs, orange juice, milk, sour cream, and chives for 3 minutes, or until entirely uniform.
  2. Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat and melt the butter, coating the pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and let it cook for about 30 seconds (it should just start cooking at the edges). With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, push the barely cooked edges into the middle, allowing the uncooked egg to move to the edges. Continue cooking like this until desired doneness. I like mine either delicate and just cooked or golden brown on the bottom. It’s too hard to pick a favorite!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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