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

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Hiromi Paper

by Laura E. Alvarez


Where am I? Hogwarts? Japan? No, I have entered yet another portal in Santa Monica. A little jem of a place bursting, yes, bursting with papers. My three favorite kinds of shops to get lost in are the following:

1) Book stores.

2) Art supply stores.

3) Stationary shops.

What do these three stores all have in common?




Hiromi Paper has been going since 1988 on the west side of Los Angeles. Their reach is international. You can find them at paper conferences all over the world. You can find the papers they have collected in art books, prints, installations… and more – all over the world. They actually know the people who make these papers. Washi. The “wa” means Japanese. The “shi” means paper. Hiromi Paper. You can order their products online. Yes! I follow their facebook page. They also have a lovely blog here. It’s a whole world of Washi.


This represents my Martha Stewart obsession for organization that accompanied my first pregnancy. Good times. I’m not like that anymore, but this little shelf of stationary cubbies does make my heart sing a little.


It’s a slice of cedar tree. That you can write on. I’m not making this up.20140721-234924-85764866.jpg

A sheet of blood oranges to make a grocery list on. See what I mean? It’s another world.20140721-234924-85764100.jpg

Pop, pop, pop. There’s a little secret notebook. And pencil.20140721-234923-85763351.jpg

Okay, now. Here’s the story. My boy decided he would make a book. So he chose the above paper in the middle for the cover. Handmade in Nepal. You can’t go wrong. He loved this photo so much that it is his home screen on his ipad mini.20140721-234930-85770320.jpg

Next, he chose the above paper for the pages of his book. It’s pretty thick, kinda green, Chu Tsharsho, naturally dyed from Bhutan.              20140721-234927-85767955.jpg

Joanna and Yuki are part of the Hiromi Paper team. They are super nice, knowledgeable and helpful. They told my boy he could try drawing on a sample of the Chu Tsharsho, naturally dyed from Bhutan. 20140721-234927-85767198.jpg

The drawing on the sample worked out.20140721-234928-85768798.jpg

It’s all wrapped up so pretty. Stay tuned for Hiromi Paper, Part Two where you see how the book gets made!

Also, check out photos here from when I actually got to teach a printmaking workshop at Hiromi Paper. That was SO fun.


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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.


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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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