Need homeschooling help? Start with you

We are wrapping up our second week of distance learning and tears have been shed, voices have been raised, tensions have definitely run high as we struggle to find our groove. My daughter in a version of first grade that she didn’t plan for, with new teachers, new methodologies, new expectations, new friends. That’s a whole lot of change to process for a little person. Mom, on the other hand, has been trying her best to be mommy teacher, be patient and squeeze in slivers of productive work time any way she can. Some days it has been next to impossible. Other days, like today, I sit on a couch next to her desk with my laptop, reveling in quiet focus time.

Thankfully, I have been preparing for “battle” for quite a few weeks now. (I am not a teacher after all, and have learned that patience is definitely not my virtue.) I took a close look at some of my habits and realized that a lot of them were not serving me. So I made some small tweaks, streamlining the positive ones and reducing the negative ones. These changes have helped me feel more grounded, more in control of my emotions, and more steady in the face of meltdowns and frustrations.

If you are needing a reset for your body and mind, here are some ideas I have been working on

  • Waking up early and fixing myself a mug of tea every morning
  • Journaling for 15 minutes, total stream of consciousness style, just putting down on paper whatever comes to mind
  • Cutting back on coffee (and saving it for the weekend)
  • Mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes
  • Limiting my alcohol intake (boring but it has really helped with my sleep)
  • Working out, even if just a little every day
  • Eating A LOT of vegetables has reset my digestion and is boosting my immunity
  • Limiting my social media and news intake

Stumped on where to start? Learn more about habit hacking in Atomic Habits by James Clear,

My New York Story

It’s been six months since I left New York City for Miami, Florida and like any important life change, it has taken time to dust off the shuffle of the move and settle into my new life. Some days it still feels like a dream. I look out the window and there’s so much light it hurts my eyes. The bougainvillea flowers and palm fronds flutter in the breeze, the sky a backdrop of soft blue. It’s a stark departure from the gray that pervaded my life during the previous 15 Februaries of my life. Energy now comes not from relentless activity wafting up and into my apartment window from the city buzzing below, but from a deliberate flow of life that naturally unfolds outside my front door.

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An Architect’s Cozy Corner in Chelsea, NYC

In this urban space, we can see touches of the Dominican Republic through moody, abstract local art, but the colors are darker than typical Dominican apartments. “We’re traditionally from there, but we’ve lived in New York for 15 years so this is home now.”


Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey

Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey


Jean Santelises’ Chelsea apartment is an unexpected departure from the color that abounds in his home country of the Dominican Republic, and yet it’s one that mixes with the drama and energy of New York, his adopted city buzzing below.

"I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased."

“I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased.”


An architect by trade, Santelises moved into his two-bedroom apartment with his husband in the heart of Chelsea four years ago. Contrary to many city apartments, his is filled with natural light that drifts in through wide windows in the living room and bedrooms. This advantage gave Santelises the chance to make a streamlined, yet bold decision when it came to color: he painted his walls a rich slate, which gives the space a cozy and sophisticated feel.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol photo.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol print.

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#FocusFridays: Dive In

Dive In 2

I can’t believe that week two is over. All I can say is that I feel so happy I started the #30DaysofFocus project. It has grounded me, given me the motivation that I needed, and the structure to jolt my creative self back to life. While before I used to aimlessly use up my energy, looking for stuff to keep me busy and fill my time, I feel like my days are now beautifully built around my writing time, which is as it should be; since it is, and hopefully will continue to be, one of my main sources of joy. It’s something that anchors my day, and even though there’s still a thousand things to do during the day, I’m becoming more efficient and versed at cutting corners and figuring out what really matters. It’s almost like I’m learning how to consciously do process with a capital P, and it’s literally rewiring my brain. more »

Happy Memorial Day: Peruvian Ceviche for The Tribe

Shellfish Ceviche


In New York, we seemed to have skipped spring altogether and been forced to dust off the cut-offs and tanks to survive the blistering temperatures. I’ve been counting on my neighborhood ice-cream trucks to keep me cool and definitely NOT complaining! So today I’m bringing back one of my favorite ceviche recipes perfect for a weekend that promises to be filled with sunshine and playtime.

Whether you’ll be at the beach, in a park, or staycationing at home, just remember to pop a little sparkling rosé and gather your friends around this cool, clean dish bursting with tender bits of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and baby clams. I serve this simple citrusy ceviche with chifles, plantain chips as they’re known in Peru, some crusty French bread, and avocado. Happy Summer!

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A Tale of Two Languages: Raising Bilinguals

Raising bilingual kids

I never knew bilingualism was a thing until I had a kid. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking country with visionary parents adamant about my sister and I speaking and writing in two languages always felt like the norm. And this was over 30 years ago. Now that bilingualism in the U.S. has become more ubiquitous with serious benefit-boasting scientific research to back it up, what things can we do as parents to optimize the experience?

Figure out the language strategy that works for you

For those parents who are thinking about raising their children in two languages, there are three main language policies to consider. One parent, one language is the one I’m using where one parent is consistently the one that speaks the language. Minority language at home means that the parents always speak the language whenever they’re with the kids. And there’s language time, a technique where the parent designates a particular amount of time for the language, setting expectations for the child, like 10 minutes a day and eventually working themselves up to days or even weeks at a time.  This one seems to come in particularly handy when you’re teaching two, three, even four languages like this multilingual Mom. more »

First Taste: Amada by José Andrés

Pimientos de Padron from Amada

I had stalked Amada for months. After all, croquetas, tortilla, and jamón serrano were a special part of my own food history, regular party fare for many a celebration back home in the D.R. They would round out a festive spread laid out for baptisms, quinceañera parties and weddings. Nostalgia aside, I saw the restaurant as a welcome addition to the Mexican, Southern, and Italian family-friendly havens in Battery Park City in NYC, the neighborhood I currently call my own.

It was around six thirty when G and I walked into Amada on our way to catch a movie. Amada, which means beloved in Spanish, is part of the Think Food Group, a collection of over 15 properties owned by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish-American chef who has been dominating the DC food scene for over 10 years. This is the third U.S. location of Amada and his first foray into the NYC restaurant scene as he warms up to open a New York concept restaurant this summer.   more »

#FocusFridays: On Process

On Process

As my first #30DaysofFocus week comes to a close, here are some major reflections.

Writing, which has been my focus tool, is very much like running (as Murakami suggested in his awesome memoir). It’s a question of sitting your butt down (lacing up those sneakers), and getting into the mind frame to move forward on your decision (do it until your goal time is up, whatever that is). At the beginning of the week, I blocked off two hours for writing each day. Some days it went on a little longer, other days a bit shorter, but every day was somewhat productive. This is something you already probably know, but blocking off your calendar really works.

It felt very liberating to know that I could write about anything that was on my mind or happening in my life at any particular moment. It didn’t have to necessarily be about food. Throughout the last seven years, I’ve always felt like if I wanted to blog about something, it had to be food-related. It is and continues to be a major passion and source of inspiration, but I realized how good it feels to be flexible, especially when it comes to writing. Getting out of your comfort zone is often the best place to find inspiration. more »

#TBT Margarita Recipe: Cheers to Friendship

The Perfect Margarita from Karina Taveras on Vimeo.

Just like a family recipe or a special perfume, a drink can take you to a place in time. For me, it’s the classic Margarita. The bright, zesty cocktail will always remind me of spring in upstate New York. It’ll bring back the Shawangunk Mountains jagged in the distance, and the clean invigorating air. The bright green pastures that pop neon to my city-stained eyes, the gentle sound of the creek nearby. Of the laughter and the good times, of the new friends and the old that always seem to get together around this time of year. To me, it’ll always remind me of my dear New York family.

To help you celebrate the power of friendship this weekend, here’s a #TBT recipe and video. Special thanks to my favorite Margarita-maker Cindy (and excuse the vertical shot) Cheers!

Simple Margarita Recipe

3 shots Tequila

1 shot Cointreau (orange liquor)

1 shot Rose’s Lime Juice

½ fresh lime

1 shot St. Germain (elderflower liquor)

Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker and pour into salt-rimmed ice-filled glasses


Cuba on My Mind

Cuba Festival's DanzAbierta

Image credit: DanzAbierta

The lights dimmed, the curtains parted. Six sinewy bodies crouched on stage carved by light, and glided towards what appeared to be small blue islands. They slid like honey across the floor, putting on fragments of ruffles – white skirts, arm bands, headdresses – ready to become somebody else.

DanzAbierta, a contemporary dance contemporary, debuting at the Joyce Theatre for its Cuba Festival, tells the story of a country at the crux of rapid transformation. During a short but heart-racing performance last night, they tore vigorously through the stage with raw, vibrant soul, and took my breath away.  more »

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