An Architect’s Cozy Corner in Chelsea, NYC
06.08.16

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
05.31.16

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
05.26.16

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
05.25.16

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
05.24.16

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
05.20.16

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
05.19.16

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
05.18.16

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 »

A Reflection on Love
05.17.16

 

Wedding Day

G and I met almost 16 years ago in Miami, Florida. We were two fresh-faced, starry eyed kids who fell in love at happy hour over Tuesdays with Morrie and tequila shots (kidding). How did I know he was “the one”? I didn’t. I was pretty non-committal back (and still am, according to him), but as soon as we met, I felt like we had met before. There was an instant familiarity, like when you see an old friend you haven’t seen and you pick up right where you left off. And we fell in love, hard. I never knew this kind of romance existed. I had gorged on my fair share of chick flicks and dated leisurely until then, but I was pretty cynical about the whole thing during these quaint pre-Tinder days.

G loved love and celebrated it like no one I had ever met. He did outrageous things during our courtship, delivering a singing cow birthday telegram one time; surprising me as Santa on Christmas day with an enormous gift box holding a beret and plane tickets to Paris; escorting me blindfolded through the park for a picnic breakfast. I mean, we got engaged on a deserted beach in the Cayman Islands, for heaven’s sake!

Fast forward 13 years and here we are with our little family. Watching our most precious gift, the daughter that we fought so hard for, grow and thrive every day. Preparing for the future, worrying about our parents, and planning adventures. Every week or two, we have our treasured date nights where we try to go back to the time before we were parents. When we would hop on a plane at the drop of a hat or go clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. Now our outings are a bit more subdued and usually include dinner and music, but during those few hours it’s just us two again and the pressures of life seem to float away.

Today, I celebrate my G and give thanks for teaching me how to love love. Hoping I can make you proud.

#30DaysofFocus Project Starts Today!
05.16.16

If there’s been one thing I’ve always struggled with, it’s Focus. Or lack thereof. It’s my Achilles’ heel that appears Every. Single. Day. It sneaks its sly little head in while I’m playing with my daughter, offering to mold unicorns out of play dough one minute and making paper masks the next. It plagues me as I research the internet, making me forget what I was looking for in the first place: was it a slow cooker or new baby sneakers? Then, it sucks me into another rabbit hole, one filled with luscious images of interior design blogs.

I’ve always been an avid multi-tasker (yes, one of those people with ten tabs open on her browser!), but motherhood has aggravated my secret ADD ways. Although they do come in handy when you’re trying to balance a creative life and parenthood, and become especially useful when you have to get a toddler out of the house. However, my multitasking efforts often come with a price, Focus. Right now, I’m desperately seeking it in hopes that it’ll make me a better writer, a better mom, a better partner, and a better human overall.

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