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SWIRL KITCHEN: EL CHALAN AND CHI.CHE, MIAMI


I moved to Texas from Miami three years ago and I have yet to find a good Peruvian restaurant.  For this reason, I always look forward to my yearly trips to Miami.  I love seeing my family and enjoying the home-cooked Peruvian classics my father-in-law lovingly prepares for us.  Ceviche mixto, lomo saltado, his special quinoa with chicken and Peruvian aji amarillo.  I also enjoy eating out at Peruvian restaurants.  My two favorites: El Chalan and CVI.CHE 105.  El Chalan is like a mom-and-pop local eatery where Peruvian food is served comfort-food style.  CVI.CHE 105 is your bourgeois, but not-too-pricey, restaurant serving the cuisine in a fancy-foodie style.

 

El Chalan Restaurant: 7971 Bird Road #17, Miami FL 33155

The description on Google explains it all: “Humble strip-mall outfit with an array of down-home Peruvian fare such as ceviche & lomo saltado.”  But don’t let that description deter you from trying it.  Walking in, you will notice pictures of Macchu Picchu and Peruvian gauchos on the wall.  A soccer game or Peruvian tourist videos will be playing on the TV.  You will most likely not hear any English being spoken (there are English-speaking servers, but maybe take this opportunity to practice your Spanish).  There is nothing fancy about this restaurant.  My favorite dish to order at this restaurant is Chupe de Camarones, or seafood soup.  It is absolutely delicious.  It isn’t light like a lot of seafood soups.  It is hearty and spicy with the right balance of seafood, vegetables, and rice.  I also like Tallarin Verdes, Lomo Saltado (of course), and Tallarin Saltado de Mariscos.  Yum Yum!  The restaurant only has a Facebook page and it hasn’t been updated in 9 months, but an abbreviated menu is available on Google.

 

CVI.CHE 105: 105 NE 3rd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132

For a little fancier atmosphere with equally good food, try CVI.CHE 105.  So I just went to the website and my mouth just watered – oh, Pavlov…  So what to try?  EVERYTHING.  When we had visitors to Miami, we always took them here.  The drinks are delicious (Pisco Sours and Mojitos).  They have an assortment of Peruvian Ceviches and Tiraditos – they were voted best ceviche in Miami four years in a row.  The Causas are delicious, they even have one, Causa Montada con Pulpito al Olivo, that combines Cause with one of my favorite Peruvian dishes of octopus smothered in a creamy black olive sauce.  There is a section of the menu called “Peruvian Classics”.  This is where you find the Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, along with dishes like Risotto Fillet which has filet mignon and shrimp on a bed of parmesan and mushroom risotto. I just drooled on my keyboard.  My favorite desserts here are Suspiro Limena and Mousse de Lucuma.  Suspiro means “sigh” in Spanish, and the dessert is totally a light lemon-y flavor with a creamy merengue on top.  Lucuma…  so lucuma is a fruit found in the amazon that tastes like nutty pecan and sweet potato mixed together.  The mousse is rich and every bit worth the calories.  CVI.CHE 105 does have a website.   Make a reservation before you visit.  I just learned via the website, there is a South Beach location too.


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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 DESTINATION: SANTORINI, GREECE


I’ve had the same dream destination for awhile now. The perfect images of the white houses on cliffs overlooking the ocean, electric blue roofs and doors, and pops of fuchsia bougainvillea… Santorini, Greece is definitely in my future travel plans.

The only snag in my plan is that I feel like I can't go to Greece until I go with someone I am in love with. It just seems like the most romantic place on earth. So as soon as that happens I will hop a plane to this amazing place and who knows, maybe I'll never come back! 

Breathtaking isn't it? 


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SWIRL KITCHEN: EASY PULLED PORK TACOS


Easy Pulled Pork Tacos:

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest

  • White corn tortillas (fresher, the better)
  • Trader Joe's Pulled Pork (cooked according to package directions)
  • Freshly chopped Cilantro
  • Pico de gallo or Mango Salsa

Assemble. Add queso fresco and/or avocado as a tasty garnish.

Done!

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest


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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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BACON WRAPPED CHEESY JALAPENOS


Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

I love bacon. I actually don’t really trust anyone who doesn’t love bacon. Now that I eat ketogenic (high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs) I have to get a little bit creative with my Cinco De Mayo choices, but I can eat all the bacon I want so I present you with Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers! I found this recipe on Pinterest originally and tweaked it a little bit, it is super easy and super delicious!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fresh jalapeño peppers
  • 2tbsp cream cheese (softened to room temperature or I used whipped cream cheese)
  • 1tbsp of shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
  • 3 slices of bacon cut in half
  • 6 toothpicks

 

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Cut the stems off of the jalapenos and then slice the peppers in half. Clean out the ribs and all of the seeds.

 

Mix the cream cheese and shredded cheese together and stuff the peppers. Take ½ a slice of bacon and wrap it around the pepper and secure with a toothpick. You could probably actually use a whole piece of bacon and really wrap that pepper up! 

 

Place them in a baking dish (I used a square glass pan) and bake them for about 30 minutes or until the bacon looks crispy.

 


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SWIRL MUSIC: D'ANGELO TRIBUTE TO PRINCE

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SWIRL MUSIC: D'ANGELO TRIBUTE TO PRINCE


I love D'Angelo and this is a beautiful rendition of Sometimes It Snows In April, which obviously has new meaning now. Also it is cool to see Maya Rudolph singing backup. A very moving performance by all of them. 


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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 MUSIC: PRINCE AND BEYONCE


This week we're all sharing our favorite Prince moments in memory of the icon's passing. 

I had my own Prince moment about 15 years ago. My friend Staci and I were dancing at a club in Denver called The Church when all of a sudden a man with gold plated ears (yes, seriously...) came up and tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for us to go with him. For whatever reason we trusted this strange man lol and we followed him up to the balcony and when we got there Prince was standing there. I don't even remember if we talked to him, but I do remember him spending the majority of the night talking to a guy a in a wheelchair and he seemed like a really kind person. I'm glad I at least got to share the same air with him that night. 57 is definitely too soon to go. 

Enjoy a week full of some of the moments in his life we are most obsessed with. I am starting with Prince and Beyonce, because of course I am obsessed with Bey and the two of them together were incredible. 


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SWIRL STYLE: STELLA JEAN


SWIRL STYLE STELLA JEAN via Swirl Nation Blog
The designer, Stella Jean

The designer, Stella Jean

Mixing African prints with Italian tailoring, Stella Jean’s designs are vibrant, yet classic.  Stella Jean is of Italian and Haitian descent.  She grew up in Rome which lends to her fashion aesthetic; however, she is undeniably inspired by Africa and her Haitian roots in her designs.  Jean is self-taught; however, Giorgio Armani took her under his wing early in her career and she is considered his protégé. 

She has collaborated with Christian Louboutin and has Rihanna and Beyoncé clamoring for her latest pieces.  Stella Jean is also conscious of the struggles of women and native people. Through her use of native craftspeople, she seeks to support struggling countries and communities and preserve their ancestral arts and traditions. She works with industry to generate commercial enterprise and self-sustaining local communities, focusing on women’s empowerment.  She began her partnership with Ethical Fashion Initiative in 2013 when she extended her reach into a wider range of ethically produced items like bespoke Bogolan (mud-cloth) from Mali and Jewelry from Haiti.

Stella Jean’s lines are not “fast fashion”.  Most of her designs fetch a price tag of over $500; however, each piece is unique.  With the addition of a kid’s line, I might have to live out my Stella Jean dreams through my daughter.


For more Stella Jean, you can follow her on Instagram 

Go HERE for her latest Look Books


 

 

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SWIRL STYLE: AFRICAN INSPIRED SWIMSUITS


Getting cheeky with it!

Getting cheeky with it!

It’s swimsuit season! This might not be exciting to everyone, but I live at the beach and if I could I would only wear swimsuits 24/7. A lot of people like a classic swimsuit, but I love color and prints. Some of my favorite prints come from designers like Trina Turk, Nanette Lepore, Mara Hoffman, and Maaji.


Many of them have an North African, specifically Moroccan, influence to the prints and colors. Nordstrom has some really beautiful ones right now. I probably have 30 swimsuits in my closet right now, but I can always use a few more:)

Btw as I was putting this post together a couple weeks ago I was pretty disappointed that Nordstrom didn't have much diversity in their swimsuit models. I think diversity in skin tone as well as body type would be a very welcome change in my opinion. As went and looked again today I found a couple new suits that still fit the theme with more diverse models you can see below! Now we just need some curvy bodies in there! I feel like fashion thinks everyone is either stick thin or plus size, but most of us are actually somewhere in between! 

What's your favorite swimsuit trend?


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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: THANK YOU DRY BAR


DryBar Plano, TX to be specific...

I’m sure I’ve mentioned DryBar in previous post. DryBar, oh how I love thee!  Let me count the ways:

My stylist Deandra! 

My stylist Deandra! 

1.       Décor (beadboard, grey/white/yellow color scheme, tufting, vintage photos of glamorous women)

2.       Girly movies always on cue (Bridesmaids, Mean Girls, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, etc.)

3.       You open at 7 a.m. (I can get a blowout before work)

4.       Champagne, tea, water, and other refreshments on tap

5.       The scalp massage

6.       Efficiency

7.       The cost is worth it (Your time and sanity will be sooooo appreciative)

8.       My girl, Deandra…


My hair in its natural state...


Below are some tips and tricks for blowing out highly textured (fancy for nappy) hair.

 

Stylist/Miracle Worker: Deandra

·       Separate hair into sections

·       Comb out sections before you go in with brush

·       Start with front, work your way back

·       Make sure you work product evenly through hair, her favorites include Velvet Hammer Smoothing Cream and 100 Proof Treatment Oil (she mixes them together) with a wet brush

·       After working product through, twist each section to hold the moisture

·       Use a boar-bristle brush when blowing out the hair

·       Get the hair as straight as possible with the dryer

·       Smooth, curl, and add shine with a flatiron

The finished product...


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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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CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN FLATS FOR EVERY SKIN TONE

For Spring 2016, Christian Louboutin introduces a pointy-toe ballet flat for every skin tone.

Christian Louboutin Pointy Flats For All Skin Tones by Swirl Nation Blog

Big cheers to designer Christian Louboutin for his new line of flats in a line of nude tones that encompass a wide range of skin tones from "porcelain Nude #1" and "deep chocolate Nude #7." In total there are seven shades and three styles to choose from; the shoes went on sale this week.

"The expansive collection ensures that every woman can find a nude perfectly suited to her complexion," the company first announced in a statement in January.

Like the brand's other shoes, the new nude colors don't come cheap. The pointy-toe ballet flat Solasofia, for example, is priced at $595. I haven't tried them on yet so I can't speak to their comfort, but I will always applaud inclusiveness especially in the world of fashion where it is often lacking. I agree completely with this Facebook fan:

"Designers often treat nude like it's a synonym for light tan, thereby excluding women of color," one Facebook user wrote. "So it's good news that Christian Louboutin has expanded its nudes collection, adding a larger spectrum of skin-tone shades to ensure that no matter what your ethnicity, you can find a shoe to match your complexion."

Who else is running out to buy them?!

Christian Louboutin Pointy Flats For All Skin Tones by Swirl Nation Blog

 

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SWIRL STYLE: MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE


SWIRL STYLE MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE via Swirl Nation Blog
SWIRL STYLE MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE via Swirl Nation Blog

I love color and long dresses so when I saw Mara Hoffman’s new Spring line I was instantly in love. One small problem is that in my experience Mara’s clothes are made for women with zero boobs so for now I will just admire the pictures. The campaign was shot in Mexico and you can see the Mexican influence in the prints and colors she chose for the collection. Makes me want to pack my bags and head to Tulum!


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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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