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OBSESSED: RUMOR MILL, PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE


So, I’m not entirely sure this story is true, but let’s pretend it is because it’s AMAZING! For the past few days several news outlets have been reporting that 32-year-old Prince Henry of Wales (better known as Prince Harry) is dating 35-year-old American actress of “Suits” fame, Meghan Markle. I don’t know what’s better, the fact that she’s three years his senior or she’s a gorgeous mixed woman! I honestly can’t remember that I’ve ever heard of someone in the British royal family being linked romantically to someone of mixed race (don’t quote me). While growing up queens and princess were always white, and the first black princess I can even remember (besides, Lisa McDowell in “Coming to America”) is Tiana in “The Princess in the Frog.” The problem here – both of those stories were fictional, and this story is real (well, maybe). Anyway, I love this rumor because I hope whether it’s true or not it gives little mixed girls hope that they someday can be princesses, too. Go Meghan, get you a prince!

OBSESSED: RUMOR MILL, PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE via Swirl Nation Blog

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THE.WAV


I am currently OBSESSED with The.Wav! And honestly I have been for the last few years. Watching the evolution of these magnetic artists has been amazing. The.Wav combines different rhythms, sounds, and cultures to create their own sound, which they describe as Afro-Trap.

The group itself is comprised of 4 members, Gregory Stutzer, Kelly Be, Cardigan Deville, and Badí. Each from a different cultural background, and their backgrounds are definitely reflected in their music and even in the title of their new album, Diaspora of Sound. 

This album has something for everyone! From the Caribbean pop Carnivál vibes of their hit single “Love Games” to the hypnotic lush jungle rhythms of “Claim My Love”, you’re sure to find yourself winding your waist and drifting off with the music. 

THE.WAV via Swirl Nation Blog

The.Wav will be hosting an album release party on November 3rd at Los Globos in Los Angeles. And just in case you needed any more reasons to love them, the party will feature all female DJ's and percussionist from different cultural backgrounds! Talk about representation! 

There will be a special guest list for friends of Swirl Nation Blog. 

To RSVP, please shoot an email to swirlnationblog@gmail.com 

 

We hope to see you there as we get down to multi-cultural grooves and celebrate the diverse beauty of the diaspora! 

THE.WAV via Swirl Nation Blog

Check out their website for music and videos.


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SUMMER PLAYLIST PICKS: GIRL POWER MIX


Summer time is the perfect time for GIRL POWER! Right now I am obsessed with three “I got the juice/Best you ever had” songs.  

First up, Rihanna! Rihanna has been known for her in your face attitude, but this song seals the deal for me. “Needed Me” is an unapologetic “Boy bye! Don’t get it twisted.” to the guy who just can’t seem to understand you simply do NOT need him.

Needed Me – Rihanna

Next up, Ms. Lopez comes through with in your face girl power, chanting “I aint your mama” and a list of things she AIN’T gonna be doin’ this summer.

“Ain’t your mama” – J. Lo.

Finally, we have Fergie! It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Fergie Ferg, but she’s back and celebrating her success as both a mother and an independent boss in her new song. Plus the video features some cameos from some pretty bad celebrity mamma-jammas including Kim K and Chrissy Teigen.

“M.I.L.F. $ ” – Fergie 


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SUMMER PLAYLIST PICKS: SUN BLEACHED


SUMMER PLAYLIST PICKS: SUN BLEACHED via Swirl Nation Blog

I don’t get to wear a swim suit very often, so mine usually hangs out at the bottom of a drawer waiting for summer and the day I get to hop on a plane to a tropical location. So when I finally dug it out of the depths for my trip to the Big Island, I was surprised at how sun bleached it was. Then when I landed in Kona, I pulled out my yellow iPod Nano (circa 2011), plugged it into the car… And realized just how sun bleached my playlists were looking, too. A little faded, a little worn from one too many listens, not to mention, I think the newest album on my trusty litt player might be the Arctic Monkeys’ AM. It might be time to get some new tunes, but for now, I don’t mind sticking to the songs that served as my soundtracks for summers past. Though I might be in the market for a new swim suit. Without further ado, here’s my Sun Bleached Summer Playlist:

 

  1. Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
  2. Pass This On - The Knife
  3. Sunset - The xx
  4. Lysergic Bliss - Of Montreal
  5. Into the Sun - Sean Lennon
  6. Sunday Girl - Blondie
  7. Play with Fire - Rolling Stones
  8. Oslo in the Summertime - Of Montreal
  9. Summer’s Thirst - Pretty Lights
  10. It Is Not Meant To Be - Tame Impala
  11. Golden Brown - The Stranglers
  12. Holy Roller - Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
  13. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks
  14. Losing You - Solange
  15. Vacation - The Go-Go’s

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YOU TUBE CHANNEL: THE REAL


YouTube is one of my favorite ways to not only listen to music and watch videos, but gives my ears what my daytime life cannot afford me since I’m working and that’s The Real. The Real is a diverse group of daytime talk show hosts that is akin to The View or even The Talk except more appealing, fun, and honest.

YOU TUBE CHANNEL THE REAL via Swirl Nation Blog

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate what The View and The Talk have done for it’s worldwide audiences, but The Real is the first daytime talk show I can relate to as a millennial. The group of women is comprised of all ethnic backgrounds with comic Loni Love (Black), singer/actress Adrienne Bailon (Hispanic), Fashion Expert Jeannie Mai (Vietnamese/Chinese) and biracial actress Tamara Mowry-Housley. It’s important to get a group of women with varied careers, personalities, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds so the conversations are fresh, entertaining and educational.

The subject matter they discuss covers everything from trending topics, politics, fashion, interviews with celebrities, and candid opinions that are reflective of not only their beliefs, but where they come from in their respective industries and lives. I do not get the opportunity to tune into the TV when they are on live so YouTube allows me to see clips and highlights from the show throughout my day. It is not only a nice refresher for what can be a long day in the office, but also the co-hosts are very charismatic which keeps me engaged instead of bored.

On the YouTube channel you will a lot of content that ranges from games they played, interviews, key topics and focused discussions on daily news to what is going on in pop culture. It does not feel rehearsed or that I’m watching a conversation that I in no way can understand or relate to, it is in fact just the opposite. As an audience member I feel like I’m participating in conversations that I am invested in and have either had in real life or am grappling with in my personal life. Check out The Real, these ladies are bringing fresh, fun voices to television and I’m so happy they are getting the Emmy nominations they deserve along with recognition on multiple networks and media platforms.

Check out some of my favorite moments on The Real:


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SWIRL KITCHEN: EATALY, CHICAGO


EATALY: 43 EAST OHIO ST, CHICAGO, 60611

Living in Chicago has afforded me the chance to be completely exposed to all different types of foods from all over the world. Whether I want to eat in Greektown, grab a coffee in Wicker Park, dine on deep dish in South Loop, or head over to the luxuries of River North I am surrounded by different eateries. I will say I have not explored the city half as much as I would like to be completely settled on a favorite place, but instead think of where I suggest most for my friends to eat and dine.

When I started working at Eataly as a fine dining hostess I had very rough idea of what Italian food was and that Olive Garden was pretty much the peak of that. Don’t get me wrong after reading this post because I love Olive Garden and would still dine there in a heartbeat because, breadsticks/salad- YES. Eataly, takes Italian to a whole other level by brining the traditional, cultural flavors of Italy to America.  The two-story facility here in Chicago provides a variety of different restaurants, a deli, pastry shop, wine retailer, cheese shop, bakery, gelato bar and so much more inside.

So why Eataly? It revolutionizes the idea of Italian food by bringing you imported Italian products and serving up menu’s that are specific to the Italian culture. You will not find Chicken Alfredo, breadsticks, or salad to accompany your plates of food. Instead you can get fresh meat/cheese boards, olive oil and hand cut bread, hand-rolled pasta and in house fresh mozzarella. Eataly is an experience, and while it sounds like I’m marketing for it, I promise you I advocate that facility alone is an experience worth having. It pushes customers outside of their comfort zones by giving you taste/flavors that are specific to this culture instead of an Americanized version of them. As of now there are two current Eataly facilities in the United States (NYC/Chicago) with current plans to open an L.A./Vegas/DC/Philadelphia in the impending future.


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SWIRL KITCHEN: HAPA CUPCAKES, FULLERTON


HAPA CUPCAKES: 105 W. AMERIEGE AVENUE, FULLERTON, CA 92832

The following post has been a while in the making. First I tweeted (maybe more than once). Then I found them on Instagram, so of course, I had to follow them… And like all their photo’s in the process. I admit it, I kinda stalked the ladies of Hapa Cupcakes, but guess what? It worked. Not only did they partake in Hapa Hour, but they also invited me to their bakery when I was in town a couple of months back. This does not mean you should go out and stalk someone until you get the results you want….

Sadly, I did not get to meet Hanayo Martin and Akemi Lee. However, their employees were expecting me and they let me pick out 4 different cupcakes and a mini cake to take home! So sweet of them!

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     This mini carrot cake was so cute I didn’t want to cut it…

This mini carrot cake was so cute I didn’t want to cut it…

I love carrot cake. I think people underestimate it. I had such a difficult time picking out my cupcakes.

I love carrot cake. I think people underestimate it. I had such a difficult time picking out my cupcakes.

I finally ended up with: Whiskey Oreo cookie, Kahlua Mocha, Strawberry Champagne with Chocolate Frosting, and Strawberry Cheesecake.  Hapa Cupcakes are known for their liquor infused creations. The Whiskey Oreo Cookie Cupcake was great. The Strawberry Cheesecake was great too!  My Mom and Grandmama loved the Kahlua Mocha one the best. I, however, loved the Strawberry and Champagne Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting.

I have to say these were some of the best cupcakes I have had, and I’m a cupcake snob from living in NYC. The cakes were perfectly moist and those frostings! Oh man, wish Hapa Cupcakes could ship me a tub of that! It’s easy to see how they were on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

If you live anywhere near Hapa Cupcakes in Fullerton, California, you must go. Sorry NYC, there isn’t one here. Maybe if I bug Akemi and Hanayo enough they will open one out here.

For more info on Hapa Cupcakes please visit their website.


 

 

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SWIRL BEAUTY: COLOUR POP BOLD LIP


ColourPop (Are&Be)

ColourPop (Are&Be)

So let me say first and foremost I have been a minimalist with make-up my whole life. I am not the person looking up pallets, studying tutorials, and spending a boatload on make-up. There is nothing wrong with it nor am I shading any women that do it, I applaud you, admire you, and give you praise. You have something I do not. Patience and Willpower. Personally, I started out being more of an eye make up only person and this past year started playing more with my cheeks and lips thanks to ColourPop which is based out of Los Angeles.

Colour Pop (Mess Around)

Colour Pop (Mess Around)

I discovered them when Karruche Tran released a line of shadows, matte lips, lip pencils, and cheek highlighter as part of her partnership with ColourPop that they do with celebrities. What attracted me to the line was that it was fairly inexpensive and Tran had a skin tone similar to mine so I had an idea of what her make-up could look like on me. This is extremely vital visually because I was ordering online through a company I had never heard of in my life and couldn’t exactly try on samples.  Needless to say I became hooked and have ordered several different ultra-matte lipsticks, ultra-satin lips, and other various make-up they have since they keep a rotation of new items in steady supply.

The only make up tip I have for you is that I’ve continuously experimented since my ColourPop revitalization and that is a bold lip is all you need. I think no matter the shade a bright, dark, or neutral lip can really add an extra pop of color to your face and overall look. Sure you can dress it up with some good eye shadow and bronzer which I do from time to time, but I love the fullness that adding color gives to my lips. I feel fierce, strong, and that I look like a badass which can help my mood especially when I’m headed to work. I do recommend using the lip pencil if one is suggested or provided with your token lip color because it helps define and outline the shape of your lips. Here’s to full lips and big smiles for the summe

ColourPop (Lyin King)

ColourPop (Lyin King)


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: THE OLD FASHIONED


So when I walk into a bar, or better yet, mix my own drink at home, my one and only goal is to have myself a drink that makes me feel like Don Draper in the first couple seasons of “Mad Men.” Back when he was cool, in control and stylish, unlike his sloppier self later in the series.

Yes,   this   Don Draper. Peggy Olson’s looking pretty slick, too, I have to admit.

Yes, this Don Draper. Peggy Olson’s looking pretty slick, too, I have to admit.

Before you get on my case for making Don Draper’s drink of choice my drink of choice, I know, a privileged white man from the 60s isn’t the best cocktail (or life) role model for a young Hapa girl. Especially one whose drinking genetics definitely leave her with that certain “glow” after a cocktail or two… But, you’ve got to admit that he’s got his classic cool down pat and who can blame a girl for wanting to exude some of that?

 

I could tell you the recipes to some of my go to drinks at the moment, but they tend to be only a one or two ingredient kind of deal: whiskey on the rocks, whiskey and soda, whiskey. They’re pretty self explanatory.

 

Instead, I’ll turn my attention to the Old Fashioned--don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a history lesson. An Old Fashioned is something you’ve probably seen on a number of cocktail menus, or at least a variation of it, and let me tell you--it is tasty… As long as you like your whiskey. From what I gather, this drink has been around since the 1800s and for good reason. It’s a little sweet, a little citrus-y, and it’s not something your bartender can just water down, since it’s almost all parts booze.

 

So mix you and your friends up a couple, slick your hair back, and do your best Don Draper imitation. Winner gets to mix the second round.

What you need:

-Pick a good rye or bourbon whiskey (I personally enjoy Bulleit Rye, since it’s a little more budget friendly, but still makes you feel a little like a bootlegger.)

-1 sugar cube or ½ a tablespoon of loose sugar

-Angostura bitters

-Ice cube(s) if you’ve got the nice big block cubes that could easily break a window if thrown, just use one, but you may need a few if you’re using regular ice tray-sized cubes

-Splash of water

-Orange peel and a lighter (If you’re an Old Fashioned snob, you won’t add the orange or the cherry, but if you like a little fruit action, go for it.)

-Maraschino cherry (Read above.)

 

How to make it:

  1. Put the sugar cube or ½ tablespoon of sugar in your glass and splash 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters onto the sugar.

  2. Add no more than a splash of water to it.

  3. If you’re adding a maraschino cherry, drop it in now.

  4. Muddle everything together using a muddler (If you’re fancy) or a spoon (If you’re like me).

  5. Add the ice cube(s).

  6. Pour in 2 oz. of whiskey.

  7. Now here’s where you get really swanky: Take your orange peel and a lighter, singe the orange peel just a little, twist the orange peel directly over your drink so the zest/orange oil will hit the surface of the Old Fashioned and then plink the same orange peel into the Old Fashioned.

  8. Cheers! (Or if you’re drinking alone… Well. We don’t judge here.)

 

Until next time!


 

 

 

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SWIRL DESTINATIONS: GUADELOUPE

Guadeloupe in 3 Days


I recently got back from a mini vacation to Guadeloupe. Sorry, not sorry! This beautiful island is located in the Caribbean and part of the French Antilles.

It’s stunning. Oh and French is the national language. Je parle francais… un peu.

There are two parts to the main island, Basse Terre and Grande Terre. We stayed in Basse Terre which is considered the more rugged part of the main island – we didn’t have time to visit both sides. We were literally only there for 3 full days, but when you find round trip airfare for under $200 you get it and go!

How do you make the most out of a mini vacation? By renting a car. Luckily at 15 – 25 dollars a day it won’t break your bank. Staying at an Air BnB spot in Deshaies we were only a short car ride away from what is known as one of the most beautiful beaches Guadeloupe has to offer – Grande Anse.

Here is my day by day breakdown on what we did and where we ate! A more detailed description will follow in the coming weeks.

Day 1 – We arrived around 8:30pm and by the time we dropped our bags off at the Air BnB spot most of the restaurants were closed on the Rue de la Vague Bleue. However, Le Madras was open!

Day 2 – We spent the morning at Grand Anse Beach. Lunch at Les Delices d’Adrianna Bokits and Bar au Jus. After lunch we headed to Cascade aux Ecrevisses in Parc du National Guadeloupe. That evening we went back to Rue de la Vague Bleue and had drinks while the sun set at L’Amer. Dinner was at La Savane – number 3 on Trip Advisor.

Day 3 – We drove about 2 hours to get to Les Chutes des Carbet. Christopher Columbus noted these waterfalls in his log in 1493. They are so tall that they are visible from the sea! Gorgeous amazing waterfalls! The Deuxium (second) Chute is 2200 feet in elevation and it’s 360 feet tall. The Premier (first) Chute is 3000 feet in elevation and 410 feet tall. It’s quite the hike and you gain about 1000 feet, which is roughly equivalent to 8 miles round trip, to see the first waterfall, but it is so worth it! The water was a bit too cold for me to go swimming. After our hike, we thought we’d check out Les Bain Jaunes on the slope of La Soufriere (the volcano). Les Bain Jaunes is a hot spring. Sadly, it isn’t very hot. Think tepid water. Ew. Felt like sticking my feet it pee… French pee. You’re allowed to go swimming, but you do so at your own risk. If you get water up your nose you might just get your very own brain eating parasite! Yay! That evening we went to dinner in Rue de la Vague Bleue dining at Mahina, a pizza joint. A favorite of the locals.

Day 4 – On our last full day in Guadeloupe we decided to eat petit dejeuner (breakfast) at Patisserie: Le Fourril de la Cote in Rue de la Vague Bleu. We spent the rest of our day at Grande Anse Beach. We ate lunch at Delices De Marco, and got homemade sorbet right on the beach! We loved L’Amer and Mahina so much we went back one final time for drinks and dinner.

That was our trip in a nutshell. Would I go back to Guadeloupe? In a heartbeat. The locals are friendly French speaking people. The food is wonderful and the scenery is out of a movie.

The only thing I would change is where we spent our night’s aka slept. The room had no screens and the fan barely worked. Did I mention there is a shit load of mosquitoes? Let’s just say I feel like I have chicken pox all over again. Also, our host Magali advertises on Air BnB that she has free wifi. She had none. Yeah… Not cool yo. The one redeeming thing about the Air BnB was Magali has a cat.

I’m a crazy cat lady so being woken up by a screaming kitty at 4am, that got into our room, was endearing to me. However, I’m betting most people would probably have thrown the cat off the balcony.

All in all, I loved our mini vacation and I can’t wait to go back and see the rest of Guadeloupe. 


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SWIRL DESTINATION: NEW ORLEANS


The wonderfully made, Cajun cookin’, Bourbon bouncing city of New Orleans

SWIRL DESTINATION NEW ORLEANS via Swirl Nation Blog
SWIRL DESTINATION NEW ORLEANS via Swirl Nation Blog

So I could probably write pages about how much I love and appreciate New Orleans, but there just isn’t time in the day to do so. I love New Orleans so much I am scheduled for my fourth visit there this August and have told my mother I’m almost sure I want to get married there (she’s not really loving this idea, but she’ll come around).

It’s the number one place I recommend to people to visit and if they have gotten the pleasure of seeing it then I relish swapping stories over the magic of this city. I always wish I could have visited NOLA (yes I’m a tourist who will scream this on my venture there, while I’m there, and when I reference it in conversation) before Hurricane Katrina mulled it over and made it what we know today. Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the city was so massive it’s still in recovery long after the financiers and media have taken the city and its refugees out of the spotlight. You can see the water line on many of the buildings and even neighborhoods that never fully were rebuilt and instead had to pick up and go elsewhere. I wish I could have seen pre-Katrina because if it was anything more marvelous than the New Orleans I’ve come to enjoy for vacation these past few years, then it was pretty spectacular.

SWIRL DESTINATION NEW ORLEANS via Swirl Nation Blog

Each visit to New Orleans has been different ranging from my company to the occasion so needless to say each visit has been different. You might think that with so many visits things could be boring or dull, but in actuality it’s just the opposite. For example: my first visit there was for my sorority conference and I was there for 4nights/5days (my longest trip yet) and I remember just being in awe of the city. We did a two-hour double decker bus tour, danced in Louis Armstrong Park, learned that no one wears heels on Bourbon Street, discovered the magic of Hand Grenades and the importance of drinking water in a city whose humidity makes you want to walk around stark naked.

My second trip was much shorter and it was rainy. Rainy, wet, and humid is just torture, but we went on a swamp tour. I HELD A BABY ALLIGATOR. I stayed with 2 friends and a guy in a small hotel courtesy of Groupon and learned despite my reservations that no 3 people in a bed doesn’t work. The last time I was in NOLA to celebrate my 25th birthday which was very memorable and special since I put five of my best friends together. The shenanigans of Bourbon Street, The Coven House (American Horror Story), Air BnB, Absinthe, and new restaurants made it such a crazy experience. No matter how many times I go fun, food, and booze are pretty much the staples of the trip while I bask in the ambience of the city.

SWIRL DESTINATION NEW ORLEANS via Swirl Nation Blog

New Orleans is so beautiful from the decadent buildings that are painted like cream puffs to seafood so good you don’t care that you will inevitably bloat from the salt intake the next morning. The French Market that is bustling and busy with every tourist trinket you can think of but boast amazing little sit down eateries with locals and conversation you just can’t beat. Even though I’ve been so many times there’s about a billion things I have not done yet like: Go on a plantation tour, visit a museum, see the Uptown neighborhood, go to an authentic crawfish boil (these are seasonal), and the list goes on and on. New Orleans is music, culture and life that goes far beyond the party and peril of the infamous Bourbon Street. If you want to be immersed in a city that is going to welcome you with open arms to all things N’awlins, then this is the place to go.

SWIRL DESTINATION NEW ORLEANS via Swirl Nation Blog

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SWIRL KITCHEN: VEGAN TACO SALAD


I love most kinds of food, but I definitely find myself craving the flavors and different options that ethnic foods offer. My world has really only recently been opened to ethnic food, but so far it has been a magical journey full of delicious foods. I’ve only scratched the surface of my ethnic food options, but I also don’t live in a very ethnically diverse area that demands quality food. Of all the foods I love though, my go-to for cooking myself is Mexican (or what we Americans call Mexican).

 

About two years ago I decided to try eating a vegan diet. I have digestive issues and I was told I was lactose intolerant many years ago (I chose to ignore it for a long time, but the older I get, the harder it is to ignore). Alas, a few weeks after cutting out dairy and meat, my stomach was already feeling better. Since then, I’ve done my best to stick with it and the easiest meal to make is usually some sort of Mexican dish. Basically, you can put a bunch of veggies, beans and rice together with some guacamole in a bowl, some tacos, or a burrito and you have yourself a delicious meal.

 

Recently, I was craving guacamole (which I do pretty much every day), but was also in the mood for salad. I decided to try my hand at a taco salad and was not disappointed. The salad quickly rose to the top of my Mexican dish list and I will probably make it once a week for several weeks in a row. I didn’t follow any exact recipe and you can find some really good ones out there on the interwebs, but here’s basically what I did:

  • ½ red pepper - diced into ¼ inch squares or in strips
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • ½ green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bag of baby spinach or whatever greens you like
  • A bit of your favorite salsa or some pico de gallo
  • 1 bag Beyond Meat Feisty “Beef” Crumbles (or you can use a 15oz can of black beans or 1lb of hamburger meat or chicken)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (it’s also pretty easy to find a recipe to make a healthier version yourself)
  • ½ cup of Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing - I used about ¾ cup of vegan mayonnaise instead of cashews and added a bit more smoked paprika and a bit more cumin. Just add little pinches and keep tasting it. To be honest, the dressing doesn’t taste that great by itself, but mixed with the other ingredients, it takes the salad to another level. Another very delicious level! You can also use a different dressing like a Southwest Ranch or an Avocado Lime. Both would be amazing!

In a large pan, saute all the veggies together with some olive oil. Once they are soft sprinkle a bit of the taco seasoning on them until they are evenly coated to your liking.

In the other pan, make the Feisty Crumbles according the the directions. Once they are heated through, add about ¾ of the taco seasoning and ½ cup water. Cook for about 5-7 more minutes until the water is absorbed. If using beans, drain and rinse them first. Then cook for a few minutes and add ½ the packet of seasoning or less depending on what you like. If using meat, brown or cook thoroughly. Then following the directions on the seasoning.  

Put a layer of greens down, then meat, then veggies, salsa, avocado and dressing. Voila! A delicious taco salad that satisfies the Mexican and salad cravings wonderfully!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Enjoy!!


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SWIRL MUSIC: PRINCE RASPBERRY BERET


PRINCE RASPBERRY BERET

The thing I’ll remember the most about the day Prince died is everywhere I went people were playing his music. His voice was on the news channel, the radio stations, and even at my gym. The sound and soul of Prince was everywhere, and it warmed my heart to hear it.

When I heard of Prince’s passing I reached for my phone to play my favorite song of his – Raspberry Beret. If you’ve never heard it, I suggest you buy it. No need to listen, first, it’s awesome. It’s Prince.

Raspberry Beret Lyrics:

 

1 2 1 2 3

 

Yeah

 

I was working part time in a five-and-dime

My boss was Mr. McGee

He told me several times that he didn't like my kind

'Cause I was a bit 2 leisurely

 

Seems that I was busy doing something close 2 nothing

But different than the day before

That's when I saw her, Ooh, I saw her

She walked in through the out door, out door

 

She wore a raspberry beret

The kind U find in a second hand store

Raspberry beret

And if it was warm she wouldn't wear much more

Raspberry beret

I think I love her

 

Built like she was

She had the nerve 2 ask me

If I planned 2 do her any harm

So, look here

I put her on the back of my bike

And we went riding

Down by old man Johnson's farm

 

I said now, overcast days never turned me on

But something about the clouds and her mixed

She wasn't 2 bright

But I could tell when she kissed me

She knew how 2 get her kicks

 

She wore a raspberry beret

The kind U find in a second hand store

Raspberry beret

And if it was warm she wouldn't wear much more

Raspberry beret

I think I love her

 

The rain sounds so cool when it hits the barn roof

And the horses wonder who U are

Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees

U feel like a movie star

 

Listen

They say the first time ain't the greatest

But I tell ya

If I had the chance 2 do it all again

 

I wouldn't change a stroke

'Cause baby I'm the most

With a girl as fine as she was then

 

(Raspberry beret)

The kind U find (The kind U find)

The kind U find (In a second hand store)

Oh no no

(Raspberry beret)

(And if it was warm)

Where have all the raspberry women gone? (She wouldn't wear much more)

Yeah (Raspberry beret)

 

I think I... I think I... I think I love her

 

(Raspberry beret)

No No No

No No No (The kind U find)

(In a second hand store)

(Raspberry beret)

Tell me

Where have all the raspberry women gone? (And if it was warm she)

(Wouldn't wear much more)

(Raspberry beret)

 

I think I love.


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SWIRL SKIN: EMINENCE CLEAN SKIN PROBIOTIC MASK


I love pampering my skin. There is nothing like a good facial mask to make me feel and look refreshed.

One of my favorite skin care brands is Eminence. They are an organic line that has been around since 1958. Obviously, with that many years of experience, they know their shit.

Their skin products are handmade and free of parabens, animal by-products, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, harmful colorants and fragrances, mineral oils, petroleum, and other harsh cosmetic chemicals. You could probably eat their stuff - but don't.

I love their Clean Skin Probiotic Mask. Probiotics are great for your body so why not your face? Plus, my Hapa skin doesn't break out from it! Key ingredients include Yogurt, Cucumber, Marigold, Kaolin Clay, Stone Crop,Tea Tree Oil, and BioComplex™: a booster of antioxidants, vitamins, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid.

In my opinion, it's an amazing mask! It has done wonders for my complexion.


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SWIRL HAIR: CURL CONTROL


SWIRL HAIR CURL CONTROL via Swirl Nation Blog

My hair is weird. I used to have long straight hair as a child. Then it decided to start waving up and frizzing. Now it's a cross between a loose curl and wave. WTF, is that even? Can we all say #HapaProblems?  Luckily, there are hair products to help. Hallelujah. 

I'm big on Deva Curl and Miss Jessie's. Both products are 100% no sulfate, parables, and no animal testing. 

What's the difference you might ask? Deva Curl is much more of a process and can take longer to style your hair. The results are worth it. However, with Miss Jessie's you can throw the product in and go. I love Miss Jessie's during the summertime when I don't want to use a diffuser. Either product is a great choice, and they both offer a variety of products for your specific curl type! 

SWIRL HAIR CURL CONTROL via Swirl Nation Blog

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DIVERSE TV PICKS: EMPIRE


My biggest guilty pleasure on television, aside from my all-time favorite show New Girl, has got to be Fox’s Empire. I love this show for several reasons and the easiest way to explain is with a list. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but be warned; if you have never watched and want to be surprised, you might want to read with caution.

  • First, and most importantly, I love the diversity of the cast. You have this powerful African American family, which is fantastic. Then, one of the sons, Andre, is married to a white woman (Kaitlin Doubleday) and the main character, Lucious, was going to marry a mixed race woman (Grace Gealey). The supporting cast is also diverse with Cookie’s Hispanic love interest (Adam Rodriguez) and Marisa Tomei plays Lucious’ high-powered business partner, Mimi. In the first part of season two, Hakeem’s love interest is also Hispanic. I really feel that the writers are trying their best to accurately portray the diverse world that we live in today. I think it’s fantastic and makes for very entertaining television because it seems so real.

  • The show also deals with a variety of really tough issues that also make it incredibly relatable. One of Lucious’ sons is gay and homophobia is a big issue in the African American community. I love that the writers take the time to play out the dynamic between Lucious and Jamal and that they show their past struggles. The writers also bring in the issue of mental illness with Andre’s huge breakdown and I think it is incredibly important for audiences to see. In my opinion, mental illness isn’t dealt with very well in this country and I really appreciate when mainstream shows use their characters to showcase just how damaging it can be and how it can happen to anyone.

  • Despite some of it’s cheesy, over-the-top drama, the show is highly entertaining. I am not usually one to continually watch shows every week, but this one I can’t stop watching. I always want to know what is going to happen to the Lyon family!

  • The music is pretty great and I’ve even found myself listening to the soundtrack on Pandora. Jussie Smollett can sing!!

  • The celebrity guest appearances are also pretty great. They’ve had Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few, and it really adds an interesting and exciting layer to the show.

  • And lastly, Cookie Lyon. She is, hands down, my favorite character. She is brave, outspoken and fiercely loyal. She is also strong, confident and passionate, but always goes out of her way to help others. I love her colorful outfits and that she just doesn’t take shit from anyone. She always has a plan that usually revolves around making sure that her sons become the artists and people that they want to be. The writers wrote an incredible character and Taraji P. Henson, does an amazing job bringing her to life.

 

Without sounding as though Fox paid me to write this (which they did not), I have to say that it really is a great show. The writers and producers have crafted a unique story and done a great job with casting a diverse set of talented actors and actresses.


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DIVERSE TV PICKS! ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Oh Brook, We Love You Soso


Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Jessica Miglio/Netflix

...Okay, maybe not love love, but let’s just say I finally relate to Brook Soso after Season 3 of “Orange is the New Black,” which came out last June for all of our Netflix junkie viewing pleasure. I’m not going to lie, instead of eating lunch with my work buddies, I would sneak off to power through an episode. Yes, this post is a little late on the TV front, but one exchange from this season stuck with me. Well, two if you count, “Trust no bitch,” but I’m going to lay out the one that really stuck with me.

 

The episode I really enjoyed in Season 3 was “Ching Chong Chang,” despite the title, maybe because of the title, I’m on the fence about it since the whole show is a series of stereotypes and no one, not even the white people, get spared. So maybe it gets a pass. Also I was really excited to see Chang get her own episode. But anyway, the exchange that stuck is one that takes place between Chang (Lori Tan Chinn), and her cellmate, Soso (Kimiko Glenn)... I should also mention that both of these actors are pretty phenomenal.

 

Soso: “You know what sucks? Belonging to a race that doesn’t commit enough low value crimes to be relevant in a place like this. Where’s my big Asian prison family?”
Chang: “You Scottish.”
Soso: “Not to white people I’m not. One drop of ethnic blood and bam I’m basically made in China like you and my toothbrush.”
Chang: “You Scottish.”

 

I usually try not to laugh out loud when I’ve got headphones on and I’m hiding from my fellow employees during my lunch hour, but this brief conversation made me break my rule about laughing. It was just so unexpected--up until this point in “Orange is the New Black,” the only remarks about Soso have been related to her ethnic and racial ambiguity, how smelly she is, or her “Asian-ness” for lack of a better term. But in this scene, Chang’s rejection of Soso as a fellow Asian is so blunt, matter-of-fact, and complete. Frankly, I was surprised that the writers were insightful enough to throw this issue into the ring. Even briefly.

 

As a person of mixed Asian and white heritage, I’ve been caught in these sorts of situations. You know, the type where you try to fit in and you feel like you identify with your Asian roots and/or your white roots and then suddenly someone slams the door in your face and essentially tells you, “No, you’re not part of this club.” I’ve heard experiences like this echo over the mixed airwaves both in real life and social media, but this is the first time I’ve seen it done in the mainstream world of film and television.

 

In fact, Soso might be a first for mainstream media. Because let’s face it--usually, if there is a person of mixed Asian descent in a movie or on TV, their heritage is not a topic of discussion and they’re going to be playing a character who is supposed to be only Asian… Or they’re on the SyFy channel on some show where part Asian people are considered the “future.” Surprise, we’re already here.

 

Initially it was difficult for me to jump on board the Brook Soso train because I was so excited to finally see a character on TV who might, just might, have a similar background to me and they were even acknowledging that background on the show… And then she turned out to be really annoying. It wasn’t just her overly enthusiastic personality, but her whole schtick about protesting and the fact that she was basically a spoof of twenty-something college-educated kids around my age. You know, the “socially responsible” ones who like to recycle, save the earth, and go to Coachella (no offense). My hopes for a half Asian character who made people think a little harder about ethnic and racial identity were crushed.

 

But then Season 3 happened. And finally, we see her not just as a caricature or a stereotype, which is how most of the characters on “Orange is the New Black” tend to appear at first glance, but as a person. A person with a deep-seated need to be liked and accepted, so much so that she becomes mired in a pervasive, life threatening depression when no one will befriend her. And though at first glance it doesn’t seem to have to do so much with her ethnic background as it does her personality, I can’t help but feel like the former does play a large role.

 

The inmates and even the prison’s employees can’t figure out how to categorize her: they expect her to fit into Asian stereotypes, like being quiet and submissive or smart and sneaky. And on the flip side, Chang thinks of Soso as just another white inmate. Soso’s lack of belonging makes it impossible to form any initial connections that might lead to friendships. And it’s heartbreaking. Because I get it.

 

Just from my own experience of meeting new people, I can’t help but have an underlying feeling of anxiety that sort of goes like this if I were to put it into words: “Are they going to ask me what I am? If I tell them, will they try to make me speak Japanese? Should I not tell them at all? Do I have the energy to defend myself? Do I even want to? What if they’re right?”

 

We, being people of mixed roots, don’t typically have the luxury of a common cultural background to help us form friendships. Oftentimes, we’re stuck trying to over explain ourselves and failing to get through to anyone. And even if there happened to be a group of mixed people to hang out with, we’re never going to be all the same mix, though it can be easier to find commonalities in our experiences to bond over. But seeing a mixed character like Soso put in a prison where race pretty much defines all of the character’s friendships amplifies the tension that I think a lot of mixed people feel on a daily daily basis.

 

So where do we belong? I’m going to be honest, I’m still trying to work it out. I think other people are too, and that might be why it’s finally getting a little acknowledgment in mainstream media, like on “Orange is the New Black.” It’s exciting to see that this show has invested time into telling a mixed character’s story and that it’s finally giving her more dimension in this latest season. Brook Soso isn’t the most adeptly written character ever, with her strange last name that sounds sort of Asian but really isn’t and that flashback to her piano playing days with her stereotypical Asian mother (let’s leave those topics for a later date), but I do think she is soso a step in the right direction.








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SWIRL BEAUTY: KOREAN CAT EYE


Lately Korean Beauty is all the rage. I don't tend to jump on the bandwagon right away. I came to the contouring game way late. Even now, my version of contour is very basic. However, I am loving the new "cat eye" fresh off the boat from Korea. Ladies (and gents) the puppy eye. 


Unlike the normal cat eye we all love, there is no "wing". The object is to make one's eyes appear larger, by only partially outlining your eye and by following the exact shape of it on the outside. 

Items you will need: Eye Liner ( I prefer Nars Long Lasting Pencil

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog

Black eyeshadow and a thin angled brush. I love Urban Decay's Creep

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog

Simply line your eyes with a pencil.

Put on your fav mascara, and voila stupid simple and easy to master. 

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: ME, MYSELF, AND MARGARITA


Me, myself, and margarita!

One of my recent margarita conquests

One of my recent margarita conquests

Did you know last Monday, February 22, was National Margarita Day? I know what you’re thinking – it’s not May, yet. Everyone knows the margarita's official holiday is on Cinco de Mayo.

If you missed the national holiday celebrating one of my favorite cocktails, don’t worry. Cinco de Drinko is only a couple of months away, and if you can’t wait that long, Taco Tuesday comes around once a week. Or I’m sure it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. What I'm saying is, don't limit yourself.

If it wasn’t obvious, I looove a margarita. Since my first one at 18, I’ve been hooked! Yes, 18, but I was in Mexico – calm down. There’s just something about that tequila mixed with simple syrup.

Growing up in California, it wasn’t hard to find a good Mexican food restaurant. Ugh, I miss good Mexican food. I’m in Washington now, and it’s just not the same….

Sorry, back to margaritas, I got sidetracked talking about food, but what’s new.

Picture of my margarita on 4th of July, last year   

Picture of my margarita on 4th of July, last year

 

If you look on the Internet for the history of the margarita, you’ll find several different versions. It’d be cool to actually know the “real” story, but I’m not sure we're going to get it so let’s focus on my favorite "version" – el margarita grande. Ever heard of it?!

Ok, it’s a large margarita, but it’s the best! Actually, other than large, I like to order mine without salt. You have to keep it healthy, am I right?! No salt and just a house margarita on the rocks. I’ve tried the Cadillac Margarita, and other flavored margaritas, but I prefer the classic.

It’s been a few years since I’ve lived in California, but if you’re in the San Diego area visit any bar/restaurant with the word “margarita” on the menu, and you should be good.

In Washington, the best margarita I’ve had is at Cactus. They’re simple, not too expensive, and you only need two. Once, I was eating at another Mexican food restaurant close to a Cactus, and left after my meal to get another margarita from them. It's that good. Luckily, my fiancé tolerated the restaurant hop, but it was worth it!

"I prefer on the rocks, but blended is just as tasty. I've never met a margarita I didn't like." 
"Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffet
SWIRL COCKTAILS ME, MYSELF, AND MARGARITA via Swirl Nation Blog






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SWIRL COCKTAILS: PISCO SOUR


Almost every country has their liquor or drink of choice.  Russia has vodka.  Italy has grappa.  America has whiskey and bourbon.  Peru has pisco.  Produced in the winemaking regions of Peru from distilled grape wine, pisco was developed by Spaniards in the 16th century to avoid importing spirits from Europe.

My in-laws introduced me to Pisco Sours my first trip to Miami.  The combination of tartness, sweetness, and the frothiness of a latte had me hooked.  We’ve made them from scratch and some of the Peruvian markets have mixes.  The recipe below is from FoodandWine.com.  Enjoy!

SWIRL COCKTAILS PISCO SOUR via Swirl Nation Blog

Ingredients

·       Juice of 1/2 lime

·       1 tablespoon pasteurized egg white

·       2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste

·       1/4 cup crushed ice

·       2 ounces Peruvian pisco (1/4 cup)

·       Angostura bitters

In a blender, combine the lime juice with the sugar and mix to dissolve the sugar. Add the pisco, egg white and ice and blend at high speed until frothy. Pour into a sour glass, add a few drops of bitters and serve.

*We like to sprinkle the top with cinnamon.


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