¡Oye! A LAtina perspective on food, fashion, familia and art.

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an unexpected journey

An unexpected journey.  From the start, this is what it was.  Coming out of a meeting with a fellow blogger, Byron said to me, “And I still want to go to San Francisco!”  Ah, one of the things I love about my partner in Simone Rey… her passion for ideas that just take off like a rocket. When I normally say, “How could we?”, Byron says, “We HAVE TO!”, and there we go.

The first time I ever went to San Francisco it was with my mom.  I totally forgot that it was with her.  The moment I saw the city, I had the strangest feeling I had come home.  I would live there for a couple of years eventually, and then I would really leave my heart there, as many of us do.  I still dream about it regularly… always searching, searching for my home when I no longer live there.  How does a city do that?  Magic?  Here, I look like I am searching again.

homemade scarf, homemade skirt, vintage Spanish boots, Moda International sweater

We woke up the first morning to a couple of IPad heads taking our pictures.  Photo shoot!  So fun.  No wonder it takes us forever to leave the hotel.  Hotel Monaco is SO San Francisco.  Just look at the colors and patterns!  When a girl says, “We have to get the bigger room!  The art, Laura, the art!” you know you’re in the right place with the right people.

After hot chocolates and coffee in the beautiful fireplace-warmed sitting room, we were ready – I guess – to run across the street and barely make a bus that was headed to our destination.  Out came the sketchbooks… and out came the more challenging aspects of urban transport.  We had to use our jedi mind tricks to avoid some shady characters on the bus.  But we wanted to do this the REAL way, and we were doing it.  After much confusion at our transfer corner, one chocolate croissant purchase, and a girl who said she needed a place to sit and eat her chocolate croissant, we decided to heed the advice of a nice San Franciscan resident and walk the rest of the way to our destination.

We had a beautiful, beautiful stroll up a hill in a lovely park.  It was truly magical.  My favorite trees surrounded us.  The wide open space.  Pretty old houses here and there.  Gentleman played golf.

We took to photographing everything.  The light was golden.  The air was so… northern.  Sigh.  While it was idyllic, the lack of real breakfast, the lack of memory on one six year old’s camera, the hill… it was all starting to wear on us.  We needed to get there.  It was beautiful, but we needed to get there, and we needed museum cafe food.

Ah, museum food.  Not just regular museum food, but nice San Francisco museum food.  San Francisco that appreciates taking your time in that nice European way.  San Francisco that has two Legion of Honor locations.  One has a David Hockney show that you have timed tickets for and one does not.  San Francisco that has Uber (“It’s fancy, Laura.”  “What’s fancy about efficiency, Byron?!” I was starting to get low blood sugar and had art show-missing anxiety setting in).  San Francisco that has happy Uber drivers that save you.  San Francisco that let’s you go to the cafe first when when you finally get to the right museum, and doesn’t care when you come into the timed, extremely popular art show because they see how hungry you are.  And San Francisco that has the fanciest coffee cart I have ever seen that has paper wrapped fresh baguette sandwiches, heavenly salads, and apple tarts.

An unexpected journey.  A beautiful thing.

by Laura E. Alvarez 

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wearing Hockney at Diego Rivera

First, we immersed ourselves in Hockney at the de Young in SAN FRANCISCO. How we got to the museum will be a whole other post on mistaken locations, unexpected journeys, and the genius of uber. I turned my nose up at uber as recently as two weeks ago, and in five minutes, in a tight pinch I became a devotee. Easy.

I’d been wanting to get to this show since I heard it was opening in October… I’ve been a long time fan of his work, loved his film, A Bigger Picture, and have been particularly interested in what keeps people interested and engaged in the new, in making things, in learning well past age 70… like my dad.

David Hockney is a life-long learner.  In a A Bigger Picture see how at an age when many people might just kick back, he moved back home to Yorkshire, U.K. and took up the Brushes App along with a new series of paintings.  He has long embraced experimenting with technology, so this is nothing new.  However, it reminded me of my dad, excited to get an IPhone in his eighties because he liked the camera… IPhone lessons commenced every Sunday.  The most recent lesson was how to access a Johnny Cash station on Pandora.  He loves it.  Ha!  I get it. Being open to the new, to change, and to being okay with not totally knowing what one is doing are ways in which we can stay young.  Willing to take risks is so Reggio, an education approach that has long guided my teaching and all around living.

David Hockney iPad Drawing printed on six sheets of paper (71 3/4 x 35 3/4 in. each), mounted on six sheets of Dibond,
143 1/2 x 107 1/4 in. overall. © 2013 David Hockney

Like the six year old I toured the almost four hundred works with said, “It’s almost all like fantasy because you’ve never seen a purple tree.”  Yeah.  That’s what I’m talking about.  If you’re going to make art, you might as well take advantage and make stuff up, but that’s just me.  This is why touring major exhibitions with six year olds is so essential.  They should be available at the entrance as private guides… wait, no that’s silly!  They could just do the audio for the headset tours.  Once again, do not, I repeat do not have a kid for the exclusive reason of having them give you tours of major exhibitions.  You’ve got to think these things through.

J Crew girl’s dress 

Who told this nine year old to wear an IPad drawing-like dress to the show?  Was there a memo?  No, just some indigo child fashion psychic powers at work here.  Might as well use those psychic powers for good, right?

This artist is soaking MORE art in at the Diego Rivera gallery post-Hockney.  A fresco in a deserted hilltop gallery at San Francisco Art Institute is just the ticket to balance out the bright screens and colors of a crowded, blockbuster exhibition.  Yes, this is a trip for serious art lovers.  Where a Rivera is like a nice cafe de olla after a Yorkshire dinner.

Ash ‘Babe’ Sneaker

We talked about how Frida used to bring Diego lunch while he worked on this mural… wearing shoes like these.  Okay, she didn’t wear shoes like these, but you couldn’t see her shoes because she had those awesome long skirts on.

The artist also picked up a lovely hat at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop.  But that’s a whole other post as well.  Oh, San Francisco.  So post-rich you are.  It’s a traffic jam of posts!  Stay tuned for more…

The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (“Making a Fresco”) (1931) is one of four murals in the Bay Area painted by Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957).


by Laura E. Alvarez

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grown ups need to create TOO!


What do you do when you have to say good-bye to a beloved companion of 18 years?  Apparently, you drink tequila  at 11 in the morning with someone who knows you, won’t judge you and then you get your craft on!




Monday, was a blur to me.  I knew my sweet Shakespeare, my calico kitty of 18 years had taken a turn for the worse.  On just the day before, the vet had informed me of the seriousness of her condition.    



Her diagnosis was in stark contrast to the Happiest Kitty on the Block of the previous year.   She had appeared to have a new lease on life.  With the passing of her dominating roommate last Christmas Eve (yes, Christmas was just around the corner again), she scampered through the house as though a kitten once again. 



I too, had a new lease on life.  After a life altering year, I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  Our lives were parallel in many ways.  She was rescued as a young cat, living on the streets, just old enough to learn the ropes, but didn’t stay there long enough to become hardened to human touch.





The need for sane self expression, camaraderie and of course tasty food, is how I feel safe.  I called some friends over to my house.   We gathered in the dining room around a simple assortment of  salty and creamy cheeses, medjool dates, and decadently drank champagne while getting to know each other.  I do love a good Manhattan or Sazarac, but come holiday time,  bring on a good bubbly, some twinkle lights and I am happy!  I was so thankful to be surrounded by these thoughtful, creative, clever ladies, each with her own story to tell.  Some go deep, some stay protected, some deflect with humor.  But in the end, we all come together for that same bit of nourishment, a feeding for our souls.  We ate, drank, soaked each other in, and then moved on into the studio to create, where it was safe.





With various sized glass jars and colors to choose from, we dove into the vibrant blues, pinks, reds and greens.  Some commanded their projects with ease while others approached with trepidation as if a misstep might leave her (me) with a crappy craft.  Art is a place of safe self expression.  Isn’t it?  I love art and artists.  Unfortunately, artists are often their own biggest critics.  When does that little voice start inside our heads?  Who put it there?  We did not come into the world with it.  As adults we can provide a community for each other where we can be creative and productive without judgement. And if there is silence, it is not uncomfortable, because we are thinking, we are creating





That night I made a simple salad of roasted beets that were so sweet, just like the life I was living for that moment.  I savored the sweetness of life with each bite.  I don’t think that we are so different from our kids.  And, in fact, when I slow down, I learn from my kids.  For some attachment parenting pros that conceit is probably a no brainer (you know who you are), but for some, we have had to make a conscious effort.  For others, this is all brand new.  Whether you have children or not, it doesn’t matter.  As humans, especially women, we need to savor these moments of freedom and vulnerability.  I had huge plans to make a feast for us all.  It didn’t happen.  Honied little bites are what I prepared instead.  That’s all I prepared.  I used what I had, in the time that I had and didn’t make myself crazy trying to “create” under unreasonable time constraints.  Something that I have been known to do in the past.

Later, it came to me that that night the entire ceremony of the day and night was all a learning process.  For those of you already familiar with the Reggio Emilia philosophy, this might be old news (you know who you are), but just like when children find tools within their environment, they can make their environment their classroom.  Children also become active participants within their environment, hypothesizing and finding resolution within their day.  The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and my kitchen became my classroom and those beets where my tools.  We drank, we ate, we talked.  There was no right, no wrong, no judgment.

– M. Byron Trent




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how to make a mexican tea mason jar


1.  Go to a “regular” market (not Whole Foods, etc.) and find the Mexican food aisle.  In smaller markets sometimes its just a little display full of chili powder, bay leaves in packages like this.  Buy some packages of 99 cent bags of tea.  This market had chamomile – so good for the kids before bed!  So good for everybody who lives in a city.  Calm down!




2.  Get some scissors and open the packages.  Cut out the cool label and name of the tea carefully from one of the packages.




3.  Put the tea bags and label in one of those jars you saved from last time you “made” pasta sauce.




4.  Put the jar next to your other jars of delicious looking items.  Here we have from left to right:  chili powder, chamomile tea – Hey!  Where did that come from?!, pickled peppers, and rice.


Pretty cool, right?  It’s like a Mexican Martha Stewart moment.  Feels so comforting. 🙂

-Laura E. Alvarez


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start it right

It’s time to do a classic, simple post with one photo and just a few uplifting words. You know, the kind of post that balances out those other magazine article length, yet illuminating posts that take DAYS to write, many edits, opinions from friends, family, pets, etc.  Those posts that do it all… cover art, food, kids, fashion, philosophy AND integrate them all into a seamless, enjoyable three course dinner with coffee and dessert afterwards. No, this is a simple post. It gets right to the heart and essence of Simone Rey.  Simple and dignified, not wordy or funny and full of stories.  Yes, a serious post.  Poetic.  Warm.  Golden.  I love posts like that.  Like this one.  Those really inspire me.  Jordan, from  This Girl Walks into a Bar really inspired us the other day.  All her blog experience and know how.  She reminded me of the importance of that one photo/few words post.  I LOVE those.  They are so succinct, so haiku, so elegant.  I have a friend who sometimes just posts one word on Face Book… like “Happening.”  I tried doing it.  I posted “Rain.” when it was raining and another friend called me out.  She knew exactly what I was trying to do.  She responded with “Yoga.” or “Mist.” I forget.  When I was in college, sometimes I felt like I was always talking too much.  Talk, talk, talk.  I couldn’t stop.  I liked to recount my whole day.  Everything was so exciting.  And then I noticed the quiet, pretty, stylish girls of few words, and I thought, “I should try to be like them.  That’s cool.  That’s classy.”  And so I tried.  But it was not going to work.  I was sad.  So I went back to being myself. Which is always better, isn’t it?

-Laura E. Alvarez

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rogue parenting – taking kids & teens to an art museum

by Laura E. Alvarez

Next Gen.  It’s not just about the next generation of art lovers, it’s about the next generation of parents.  Thus, rogue parenting.  It’s about:  Guess What?  You get to keep having fun.  Yes, even after having kids.  More fun, actually.  You actually like some of the same music and play it really loud in the car.  That kind of says it all. No “Made for Kids Music” here.  There is a meeting ground.  You let there be a meeting ground.  And sometimes it’s a David Hockney installation that your teenager says he can sit and look at all day or a picnic on the hill by the museum where hopefully, your 12 year old rolls down the hill before ingesting their homemade tacos while you drink coffee from a thermos… but sometimes it’s after.  Fine.

First of all, some kids like to dress for their cultural outings.  Encourage this. It’s just more fun. We are the art.  Of course, not all children agree with this. Fine.  More on that later.*  Here, we have Dr. Who meets Richard Serra.  The colors love each other.

Band, by Richard Serra, collection of Los Angeles Museum of Art, 2006

Eight Bit sunglasses, Burnside shorts, American Apparel shirtSanuk shoes.

Tote full of snacks, aforementioned coffee, sketchbook, picnic blanket.

Youngsters are also handy for taking your outfit photos.  You can do silly poses in front of them in public places.  They often take direction really well  because they are not particularly excited to take over the whole photo shoot.  See, their whole life is a creative outlet.  That’s what being a kid is about, right?  But do not, I repeat do not have a child for the exclusive reason of taking your outfit photos. You’ve got to think these things through!

Kirkland sweater (yes, Costco), H & M pants from Crossroads Trading Co., boots unknown (Holly’s sister’s friend’s closet). Art is Metropolis II by Chris Burden, Los Angeles Museum of Art.

Necklace is concrete rings on suede cords from Tortoise, bag is soda can tabs by Escama Studio. Art is florescent tubes by Robert Irwin.

This looks posed, but it is not.  This is also not a paid advertisement for artist, Robert Irwin since here I am sitting in another Robert Irwin… sculpture (or garden?) at another art museum.  Okay, you don’t have to sketch with your kid (or your friend’s kid) but, there’s a lot of things that are worth trying once in this life or in any life for that matter.

More micro fashion.  Indian textiles with cowboy boots.  I might not have thought of that.

Some teens might draw at art museums.  Its active and exciting.  Also, invite another teen on the trip.  Teens are social creatures.  Remember this time in your life?  An outing with your parents can go from boring to fun if there is another person your age who you can make fun of stuff with.  Also, most important with teens… food. Bookend the trip with food.  Start with food and end with food.  I just read that last part to my very own teen and he said, “That is so true.  If there’s no food, it’s hell.”  Do you see how important food is to them?

*Shoes by Sanuk, shorts by Old Navy, t shirt by… London Games 2012.  This outfit says, “Ready to switch into some Asics and run five miles.”  Pretty cool.

So, we bookended the end of this art museum trip with Balconi Coffee Company.  See, you can even go somewhere you want to go… as long as there’s sugar.

Everyone happy?  Everyone happy.


1.  Attitude:  Everyone is having fun.

2.  Dress for the outing… More fun!

3.  Meeting Ground.  Find some art everyone might like.  Or almost everyone.

4.  Balance with outdoor time. (i.e. rolling down hill)

5.  Add friends.  Especially if there is a teenager.

6.  And most important… bookend with food.

This photo by artist, Evan Hartzell.