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


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Wabi-sabi

by Laura E. Alvarez

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“Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all.” Read more here in this great article about wabi-sabi.  The idea of wabi-sabi is so close to Byron and my heart that we almost put it in the name of our blog. 

I care just as much about showing you how to patch your jeans as I care about showing you the beauty in imperfection as a way of life.  With each patch, as I lovingly choose a different shade of gray, blue or white thread the jeans become more and more beautiful.  This particular pair uses scraps from his younger son’s ripped up jeans that were all but destroyed scrambling down a rock in Joshua Tree over a year ago.  That’s the darker bits you see above.20140511-211227.jpg

These are what is left of the younger son’s jeans after snatching away many pieces for patches.20140511-211243.jpgFirst, I cut out a nice little piece from the sacrificial jeans that will cover the rip with a bit of extra space around it.
20140511-210502.jpgNext, I turn the jeans I am going to repair inside out. I pin the little scrap which is indeed a patch to the inside of the jeans, covering the rip.20140511-210529.jpgI zigzag around the patch, letting the zig zag stitch go back and forth partly on the patch, partly on the jeans.  This is really a fun part.20140511-210259.jpgI turn the jeans back right side out and zig zag over the rip in whatever way makes sense.  The goal is to have the rip closed.

And lastly, I admire the new patch, as it has once again changed this pair of jeans, furthering it as an artwork and example of wabi-sabi.

All denim by Levi’s.


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I Scream, You Scream

 

by  M. Byron Trent

 

photoIMG_4869You might have driven  past this place a million times and never noticed it.  It is not located in the most attractive strip mall in town and it is definitely tucked in a corner.  But!  Once you get inside, you will be transported for a moment’s time to Oaxaca, Mexico where they  are serving up perfect paletas (popsicles), ice cream, fresh fruit, juices, agua frescas and sandwiches.   Their paletas come in a plethora of tantalizing flavors that tickle your tongue and belly.  My kids love this place and so do I!  It is truly a gem and I’m not sure why it hasn’t exploded into a chain of franchises…hmmm.

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When you are there, don’t forget to do it up Mexican style and sprinkle some chile con limon on your paleta.  It’s especially good on the pineapple or cucumber and lime or mango – just go crazy!  Last time I was there, I had the hibiscus popsicle which was the most vibrant hue soaked purplish-red you’ve ever seen.   It was so cold and perfectly tart and sweet.  I wanted to savor my experience with the perfect balance of suck and bite.

Their ice cream is creamy and delicious with unique flavors such as leche quemada (smokey milk) and nance (yellow cherry).  But, they also carry other favorites like galleta (cookies and cream), fresa (strawberry) and oh, so much more.  Everything is subject to seasonal availability.

 

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Their prices are incredibly reasonable and the fact that you can have that much fresh juice squeezed, a green juice and not pay with a quarter of your paycheck…well, what are you waiting for???  Besides, look at that happy face!  IMG_4841

 

Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars  4249 S Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City 90230 310 313 7625  Open from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.

 


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When Trader Joe’s Shares It’s Parking Lot with a Costume Shop It Can Only Lead to One Thing

by Laura E. Alvarez

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Yes, only one thing.  See, this is why members of a household have different responsibilities that correspond to their strengths.  Some people are really good at going to the market in an efficient, focused manner and other people are good at filling out forms on line.(Oh my goodness, this post was seriously going to be about free family fun and crafts with recycled materials, not sticky psychology issues.  Oh well, I get to give into my digressions sometimes.  It’s fun.  Wait, this is EXACTLY  what I was just going to talk about. Digressions.  Distractions!) Lets say that I am not the best person to send to the market because it will take twice as long.  This isn’t good if people at home are hungry.  Well, anything takes twice as long if I give into impulsive play and creativity.  For example, I stand back looking with pride at the beautiful way I have rearranged and cleaned everything on the kitchen counter and someone walks in and says, “When I walked in here an hour ago, I thought you said you were about to make dinner.” And of course, I respond with, “Now I’m ready to make dinner… I just need to find the right Pandora station and then I’m really ready!”

This is almost too much to read already.  Where does the time go?  I mean… word count.

I usually avoid the many tempting shops near the Trader Joe’s.  (There’s also Sewing Arts Center which last I looked, has crazy beautiful Japanese cottons I don’t see anywhere else.  Just made some napkins out of it.) However, on this rare market stop… I had the Actor with me.  He and his friend used to have a saying:  The Laura’s never say ‘”no”.  I’ve gotten better at saying no, but I still say yes a lot. So, I said yes to going into the costume shop called Make Believe that shares a parking lot with Trader Joe’s.  As we entered the shop we were instantly transported to Venice, Italy.  We had a ball to get ready for.  These masks are seriously art pieces!  There was even a little Egyptian department.

Back at home, a few days later, this mask made of cardboard, packing foam, popsicle sticks and spray paint was created by the Actor and a friend.

Oh yeah.  And we got some almond milk.

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Mix It Up, Serendipity

by Laura E. Alvarez

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Oh, how I love mixing thrift store folk textiles, men’s work clothes, Abuelita’s jewelry, Little Tokyo finds, American Apparel factory store bargains, Fred Segal gifts, AND sandals that have been forced into functioning as water shoes.   Doesn’t everybody?  It’s kind of cool when the Levi shirt you borrowed at the park because you didn’t know it would be cold becomes such a great addition to the whole ensemble.

Thrift Store Folk Textile:  I’m pretty sure this is a Mexican dress.  I’m pretty sure my mom helped me bargain (I was an embarrassed teenager!) for one just like this in hot pink… or was it fushia… in Baja back in the 80’s.  And, I’m pretty sure I love any cotton that looks like it was made on a loom.  I LOVE that.  I can feel the love while I’m wearing it.  And these colors?!  They’re SO Greek!

Men’s Work Clothes:  You will see a lot of Levi’s in my outfits because of my husband’s influence on my wardrobe.  Also, back in the early 80’s I used to take my brother’s old Levi’s when he grew out of them.  I would peg them on the sewing machine because I was SO rockabilly in my dress.  This gives the outfit a little Californian railroad worker/craftsman warmth.  Mmmm.

Abuelita’s Jewelry:  Every time I put on one of my mom’s pieces, I feel her love.  Nice.  This necklace reminds me of beautiful things growing underwater.  The beads are glass.  It’s SO pretty.

Little Tokyo Find:  Okay, these sunglasses are kind of already falling apart, but they still look cool.  Any visit to Little Tokyo is just an excuse to go to Cafe Dulce.  Oh, Cafe Dulce.  I could build an altar to Cafe Dulce… but I digress.

American Apparel Factory Store Bargain:  Lucky us to live in L.A. so we can stop at the American Apparel Factory Store on our way to Cafe Dulce – drat, did it again!  Just call this the Cafe Dulce Post, already where no one actually goes to Cafe Dulce and there are NO photos of Cafe Dulce.  Gosh.  Anyway, I found these brilliant blue leggings there for a few dollars and that is why that store is so wonderful.  A great place to shop for kids, as well.  There’s something for everyone!

Fred Segal Gifts:  Bettina Duncan gave me these earrings years ago for Christmas and I think they are just amazing.  She has a shop at Fred Segal.  She’s so smart.  I always feel a little Victorian when I put them on, even though maybe Victorian ladies did not wear earrings.

Forced Into Water Shoes Sandals:  Hush Puppies!  Colors that go with everything.  Found them at DSL Shoes when I needed water shoes to go to a tropical island, but they are not water shoes.  Shhh!  Don’t tell them.  I have walked hip boutique streets in these babies AND walked in a dark and mysterious river, as I boarded my stand up paddle board, for real I have.

Thank you, Evan Hartzell for the nice photographs.

 

 


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rogue parenting – playing hookie

Deviating, renegade, playfully mischievious?  Yes.   Dishonest, to destroy, knavish?  Of course not.  To cheat or no longer belong?  Well, here it gets a little fuzzy.

Rogue.  It’s exciting.  It’s adventurous.  It’s “a handsome rogue.” It’s “She’s gone rogue!”  Oh my goodness, what is she going to do next!  It questions the norm in its actions.  Typical artists… to love this word.  However, rogue is for everyone.  It’s unplugging from the matrix.  It’s connecting.  Are we stretching the definition a bit?

This little cutie has gone rogue.  We know.  You didn’t think that this is what rogue looked like.  Stretch your mind a bit.  It’s a wonderful rainy school day.  These children have made a lovely morning tea party… on a school day.  Yikes!  Rogue!  I warned you.

For the moms – green tea.  For the kids – chocolate chai (decaf).  For all – black berries and rasperries on top of coconut cream.

Requisite contemplative rainy day photo.  Just couldn’t resist.

Our magical destination for going rogue today?  Disneyland?  Six Flags?  Build a Bear?  No.  Atwater!!

This or Die.  A place where you can see art, feel hip AND get your hair cut.

And like, that really cool tattoo artist kind of art.  All fantasy and delicate.

Even the rain boots are celebrating this rogue outing with their purple and gold colors.

No, the salon is not enough.  While the haircuts commence, we need to go buy coffee… and tea… and hot chocolates so we can have a haircut party.

The excitement of the hairbrush!  So many beautiful colors on one head of hair.

Here’s something we do when going rogue.  Going on adventure?  Throw a sketchbook at it.  Oh, and don’t forget the drawing tools like we did.  There is no perfect in going rogue.  No map.  Sometimes you have to wing it and borrow a number two from someone.  And we just want to say the grown ups were drawing, too.  Just have to say.

Indulging in the soft light on a fresh cut.

Indulging in the soft light on a butterfly earring.

Glorious.

Atwater.  And the sun came out.

Bon Vivant Market and Cafe.  A site of riches. It’s like we are on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!

See, it is a ride.  Hiding monsters.

Not doing that right now, but it’s really pretty.

Hey, maybe this is someone else’s rogue parenting moment.

by Laura E. Alvarez


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thrifting into the new year

How lucky are we… to have boys who love to go thrift shopping and are passionate about food?  An added benefit is to adore the mother of your boy’s good friend. So, I guess the answer is that we are very lucky.

The Goodwill on La Brea in Los Angeles rocks!  I had NO idea.  Oh my goodness.  Some Goodwill locations really seem to cater to the “get dressed for your corporate interview” need… which is great, but this Goodwill…  This Goodwill caters to the “need an outfit for time traveling pronto” people.  That was us.

Ravenclaw Prefect pin  and fez from Whimsic Alley

These two boys are really into Dr. Who right now, thus the tweedy jackets and fez.  It’s all about who you become with that outfit.  For example, my go-to all black stretchy evening wear means I am a relaxing Korean soap opera watcher, while a tweed jacket and a fez for someone else means only one thing:  time travel!  Well, and maybe eating Cuban food.

Did I say Whimsic Alley?  Why yes, I did.  See, we started this little outing at our favorite Harry Potter headquarters, Whimsic Alley.  Yes, I do love it there.  It’s like a little trip to Hogsmeade.  Thus, we have the young lad hiding his butter beer (It’s really just butterscotch soda.  I love it.) behind his menu at El Colmao, one of our favorite spots for Cuban food.  Liquados de mamey?  Check.  Garlic roast chicken?  Check.  Cuban coffee.  Oh, yes.  We need our fuel to thrift.

Black beans, rice, avocados, and garlic roast chicken at El Colmao

 

When I go to El Colmao, I feel like I am time traveling.  Even though I didn’t grow up coming here, the 1960’s time capsule look with the chandeliers and vintage signed head shots make it feel like a place I would have come to after church every Sunday.  I can just picture it.  Instead, we were going to an Orange County K Mart where we might get a submarine sandwich. Did I just share that?  Anyway, this food shot is so not a foodie shot because I think usually foodies remember to take the photo before they start eating the food.

Here is a silk, Hong Kong made dress I got that day at the Goodwill.  It kind of reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service even though I couldn’t find an image of a character wearing a dress like this in the movie.  The good news is that I found this when I was looking for a Kiki image.  (Note to self:  Do a post on the espressos and amazing blue of Espresso Cielo in Santa Monica)

Earrings by Evan Hartzell

 

And lastly, a terry cloth top from the same Goodwill trip that makes me feel like I am a soap maker in the Japanese countryside.  You see it, don’t you?  Oh, those days of making soap.  The soft breeze from the garden coming in through the open windows.  The intoxicating soap scents wafting through the air.  I think I just heard the sushi rice cooker go “ping!”.

Fashion.  Food.  Art.  Repeat.

By Laura E. Alvarez


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Put a Little Reggio in Your Life

 

I am a strong believer that your environment teaches you and gives you some of the most valuable experience that no traditional classroom will ever be able to give you.  But, to get anything out of it, just like a traditional school, you have to pay attention.  The reason that the Reggio Emilia Approach speaks to me is that as an adult I’m always searching for beautiful and imperfect, sensitive and firm, freedom with boundaries.  What I needed for my children was a place of safety,  a place of expression where there was encouragement, but where each new accomplishment was not lauded as genius.  There is a respect that takes place in a Reggio environment.  These children learn it from an early age.  They learn how to respect their surroundings, each other, their lives.

 

 

Reggio Emilia is predominantly found in toddler and preschool environments.  But, it speaks to all ages because it’s philosophy is timeless.  Below, I have have given you some examples from a profound book called, The Hundred Languages of Children.

 

 

“In a strongly firsthand way, deeply rooted in ongoing cycles of observation, interpretation, and documentation, Reggio educators have borne witness to child learning in its earliest genesis and in its least restrictive environment…Least restrictive in this case refers not to an “anything goes” chaos but an environment liberated from false boundaries and external caveats that inadvertently impede or unnecessarily parse the complex development of children.  Instead, the whole school environment of Reggio-infant-toddler centers and preschools is positively influenced by the presence of the atelier.

Teachers endeavor to continually provoke children’s natural propensities to search for meaning, to pose questions of themselves and others, and to interpret the phenomena of their own lives.”

-Margie Cooper, The Hundred Languages of Children (pg. 298)

 

 

“Often Reggio educators use the phrase rich normality to describe the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive environments to which they continually aspire, calling important attention to the promise of ordinary moments.  For it is the stringing together of  ordinary moments that ultimately give shape and quality to  human life over time, just as it is the stringing together of ordinary moments that ultimately gives shape and quality…”-Cooper (Pg. 298)

 

 

 

“How much positive attention do we give ordinary moments in our programs for young children in North America?  For example, the physicality children naturally express in their everyday encounters-running fingertips along a fence line, spinning and darting in open spaces breathing deeply the fragrances of the natural world, handling objects to view every angle-are wide ways children build understanding through natural dispositions for researching worlds polysensorially-that is, through all their senses.  Within these natural ways of children, there lives an aesthetic dimension, described by Giudici as the ‘pursuit of loveliness, of harmony, of balance, poise, equilibrium and sensibility to relations’ that exists epistemologically…aesthetics is not a separate dimension from experience but rather an element of it”-Cooper (Pg. 299)

 

Stop when you can, when you think about it and talk with your kids about what you are seeing, feeling. If you smell something desireable or even undesireable, what kind of sensation does that invoke in you? Be present with yourself, your kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am convinced that this Reggio way of thinking does not end in preschool. For, I live it everyday.

-M. Byron Trent