Monday, July 23, 2012

Giving is a Gift: One Leaf Creations, Fashion with a Cause

I just finished submitting a post on the "Glorified Fanny Pack" where my "new" favorite bag belt (as I called it) just so happened to be from One Leaf Creations. I found them on, so I knew them by their username leilamos and didn't research the company name until I decided to look them up on Facebook. All I have to say is, WOW, how the Universe and the good Lord hear the song of your heart! I cannot only stress how much charity and doing for others mean to me, but also how much I cannot believe how closely it's related to a project that I've decided to start that I came up with in January (you will all see the first and beginning fruit of that labor next month!). I woke up this morning feeling as if I was never going to make a difference with my project (it's sooo much work on so many levels!), but coming across One Leaf Creations was a clear sign from God to continue working hard on my path; an idea was created quickly, but it takes much more time, work and practice to make it materialize.

One Leaf Creations is a North American fair trade market place which brings a variety of creations from artisans of remote impoverished communities. Among these creations are yak wool blankets, shawls and leather belts. You know, like my new favorite Glorified Fanny Pack that is now on my wish list (hint, hint... mom? ;-p) One Leaf also returns to these communities to actually work with and design with the artisans they help. The inspiration to create One Leaf Creations came from a 2008 visit through North India to set up micro-credit schemes and income generation skills for women in marginalized communities. They were deeply effected by the poverty that they witnessed, endeared by the love and generosity exuded by the people of these communities and, clearly, impressed with the talent. They endeavored to develop a way that the talents of these wonderful people could be used to provide them a better and more empowered lifestyle. You can read their story by clicking any of the text that says One Leaf Creations and I encourage you to visit their Facebook page and view the pictures in their album of India (and “like” them while you’re at it!). Their online store is currently closed while they are working on new designs with co-ops, but click here to be redirected to their stock on I recommend you contact them first if you are interested in a product, as they are now in India and I do not know if there is someone here handling those orders.
This photo warms my heart. Taken from One Leaf Creations Website

 The work of One Leaf Creations is a perfect example of good intentions being put to good use, as taught by Peter Drucker when saying that the goal of any non-for-profit (or charity for that matter) should be to make the user a doer. I agree, because for me it gives people a great sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It keeps them moving, productive, utilizing their talents...all which is the most useful for them in the long run. I admire that One Leaf not only brings back the art of impoverished communities, but goes out there and creates with them as well. Whether intended or not, this collaboration allows the artisans to create additional work that would appeal to an even larger audience here in North America, an opportunity that these talented artisans didn’t have before the creators of One Leaf discovered them.

On an end note, and to demonstrate further how funny life can be, I just read this on One Leaf’s Facebook Fan page after writing the last paragraph above and while editing to make sure I got all of their information correct. Chills down my spine:

“One Leaf is a social enterprise that supports and promotes economic development in remote regions of the Himalayas, and Western India, by creating an international market demand for the unique crafted goods produced by traditional co-ops. These creations offer high quality and great value to consumers, while empowering the lives of the producers. Each piece tells the story of the creator.

We are determined to ensure that our business integrates concepts of fairness, social empowerment, and environmental sustainability. By promoting the work and welfare of a single artisan, a positive change can be made.”

Peter Drucker would be impressed.

Thanks for reading my wonderful friends, I hope their story moves you as it did me and if so please support One Leaf Creations in any way that you can!


Lisa xo

Le Fashionista: The Glorified Fanny Pack

The new apple of my eye: Neo Victorian Steampunk belt bag by One Leaf Creations
Back in April I went with my friend Maria and a few other belly dance friends to rock on at the Beats Antique Concert at Brooklyn Bowl. While we were dodging poi, Maria expressed her desire to purchase a hip pouch belt. She described it to be “like the fanny pack” only dressier and fashionable (I'll say, because the original is so not fashionable :p). In her pool of information she mentioned that a lot of girls wear them to raves and similar events (like the one we were already at with our shoulder purses, yup). I made a mental note to hit one of my top favorite places to shop: eBay baybaaaay! A few weeks later while trying to keep myself awake during an overnight shift, I finally whipped out my new handy iPhone and tapped on the Ebay app. Key words: rave hip pouch belt. More key words: hope no one who can fire me at work reads this. That night I found my dream belt by Eyes of India, posted it on Facebook where it was crowned the “Glorified Fanny Pack” by my friend Jon, and decided I needed to wait a few weeks before I could afford to own this Glorified Fanny Pack. I didn’t have a place to wear it to anymore, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Fuerza Bruta again in NYC, only this time with my arms completely free and ready to dance! When I went to purchase it, it had already been sold. Womp, womp…woooooomp.

My sold out version by Eyes of India. You can find other styles from them here. I'd bling some of those other styles up and BEDAZZLE it!!

This style by Eyes of India is ideal for me since I like to carry a lot of little things that are "survival kit" status. I love how it had a large zippered pocket where you can keep your money, phone and other valuables and I'd use the side pockets for make-up, gum and other little items that I feel more secure having on hand!
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Friday, July 20, 2012

My Journey Back into Greater Wellness This Year

Yesterday: I engaged in a real non-dance workout for the first time since I hurt myself at work last October

Today: My legs are so sore and I’m walking like a woman in a knee length pencil skirt made of steel! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M THAT OUT OF SHAPE!

While I admit to never being a fitness freak or gym goer, I’ve always been generally active and don’t eat too much of anything for the most part except for chocolate and chicken, *tee hee*! I’ve danced regularly almost all of my life, rode my bike almost daily for many years, used workout DVD’s and have done toning and stretching exercises at home. In 2010 I worked out at home for 2 hours a day, 3-5 days a week, made fresh vegetable juices and fruit smoothies almost every day and followed what I call a moderate diet (I eat anything I want, just aim to do it in moderation). That actually was my best and most consistent year. Theeeeen, I started a new job. If trying to get used to a new schedule change wasn’t difficult enough, a lil’ accident at work resulted in constant tinnitus. There's absolutley NOTHING you can do about that as far as my research has offered so far. It took 3 weeks for the head and neck pain to chill out a bit, but waking up to loud ringing noises that switch levels throughout the day is not much of a motivator. I just dropped working out almost all together.

I really love to eat! This is after dancing for many hours on set for a music video.

Welcome 2012:

By the new year, I couldn’t take it anymore. I hadn’t been to a dance class in over a year since my move, hadn’t done a real workout since October, my healthy wonderful relationship with making fresh juices and smoothies had ended completely and I slowly started giving into the food that was available to me at work. ‘No bueno’ as my co-workers would say (heeey, is it because I'm Latina guys?#that-just-in-via-late-reaction). To top it off, I reached the maximum amount of depression I could bear (because we like to bear depression at all, right?). I then finally started using my Masala Bhangra DVD’s regularly. I had used Zumba primarily on DVD and mainly Belly Dance as exercise in the past, but decided that by the end of 2012 I would get certified in Masala Bhangra…teaching would be a surefire way for me to keep exercise in my life regularly, and a form of exercise that is unique to the area that I am currently living in. My Masala Bhangra workouts were working fabulously well for me and with only a month and a half into it I took a chance and signed up for the certification course with Mickela Mallozzi earlier than what I planned. After an exciting and exhausting weekend long training, I passed the practical, received my certification and became a proud Masala Bhangra-ist. I had every intention of making it into the city every other week to take lessons with the Queen (Sarina Jain) or Princess (Mickela Mallozi) of Masala Bhangra themselves so I could start teaching by summertime. Naturally, of course I hurt myself again at work during that week (it’s ok, you can laugh at my accident prone-ness) and this time worse. With my head and neck back in excruciating pain, I again lost all motivation to workout. Within a month I started trying again, and could only make it through a ½ hour of a workout before I couldn’t go any longer. I would say that would make my teacher worthy status loooooow. The image of me being the kind of teacher who can hardly breathe past the warm up and spending half a class massaging her neck was not-so-shnazzy. Unless of course I was going for the role of  comical Masala Bhangra Instructor (imagine Chelsea Handler as your instructor, who'd undoubtedly have a fun class but not lead to one meeting their fitness goals most likely: see her visit to an S-Factor class). I continued practicing at home to rebuild my strength and stamina until my family members started to complain that my dhol drumming dance aerobic endeavors were making the house a little too “masala” for them. They seriously thought my jumping around would make the TV that is nailed into the wall, fall off the wall and that the dancing would blow up the speakers. Seriously. All 140lbs of me dancing around can do all that. Would you believe me if I told you they weren’t dramatic? Anyways, that was more than enough for me to throw my hands up in the air and agree with the universe that this was clearly not meant to be at the time. The only problem is I went back into my unusual lifestyle that lacked physical fitness activities which didn’t help my depression and naturally it did not help the pain or my energy levels. Life without Masala Bhangra and belly dance is ALOT LESS FUN!

Dancing, especially belly dancing, has always been a multi-outlet for me and my favorite form of exercise. Here I am after a performance with my talented friend Elektra and Christina from Iron & Silk Fitness Center gym in NYC.

Getting properly introduced to Vemma:

At the end of March I was honored to be chosen as one of the 6 faces of Divas in the City. My friend Cynthia came out that night to support me and above the happy voices, music pumping and yummy food (sing it: “these are a few of my favorite things!”) Cynthia noticed the change in my usual demeanor. Living close to two hours away from most of my framily*, I hadn't really detailed anyone much on my “new” life since I moved away. Since it was my neck pain that threw a wrench in my swag that night, I filled Cynthia in on how that came to beb. She told me that she had something that she felt would help me and to give her a call during the week when I had time. I did, and that is when she told me about her experience with Vemma and how she came to sell it. Although I already knew that Cynthia was a brand partner to Vemma for quite some time, I had never asked her what it was exactly and she’s not the type to “force” sell a product. My response to her that night was that I trusted her so much that she could sell me a gum wrapper off of the floor. *Giggle, giggle* Also, considering the fact that Cynthia is a psychotherapist, life coach and COO of MujerPower, Inc., she is a chock full of knowledge in the many facets of well being. That topped with the reality that she is one of the most amazing friends I’ve had, it didn’t really matter to me if she had salesperson charm or not, I was sold on Vemma before she even gave me the details. I was going to give Vemma a shot because she breathed the word and that was that.
Cynthia Santiago of Vemma and MujerPower!, myself and my cousin Kelly at the Divas in the City Paint the Town Pink event where I was chosen to be one of the 6 faces of DITC

Enter my new crazy blond gym addict co-worker:

Aka, #wannabepersonaltrainer. At this point it was clear that it was going to take a little bit more than self motivation to get me back on track. I was in desperate need of outside motivation; a class, a focused exercise buddy...something! While waiting for other financial obligations to be taken care of, I still needed to do something productive for my health until (and after) I was able to make my Vemma purchase. Healthy habits needed to be re-developed ASAP! While chitating* with my friend, Turkish Warrior, about our plans to go to the beach and how we both wanted to start working out, the Dumbo ears of crazy blond gym addict co-worker/#wannabe(andgonnabe)personaltrainer flew up sky high. Her response to us went kind of like this: “Oh nice, I go to that beach every day after the gym, so I’ll probably see you there and we can work out on the beach.” Um, work out after a work out, on the Long Island “eeeew” Sound? All I thought was “This beatch is craaaaazy.” Either way, a new chapter began and those of you who know me most likely know how that particular beach work-out went. I’ll just save those details for my next post on this topic, but in the meanwhile rest assured that I am getting my work outs back into my life ;)

Thanks for reading, til next time!

Lisa xo

*Friends that we make family I call <3 framily <3
  Chit and chatting has an offspring and she's called chitating :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yum Shaker Numero Dos: Talk to the Hand Dirty Water Dog Stand!

Several weeks ago some of you may have seen my Vital Juice shared post on my personal Facebook page about Rouge Tomate's "Green" cart, the much healthier alternative to the hot dog stand. Or more matter-of-factly put, the healthy as opposed to the not healthy alternative. I was hoping to make it to Central Park to visit the cart myself and try *absolutely everything!* so that I can share with all of my buddies my taste bud's experience. Unfortunately, between school work, work, looking for work and partying like a rock star (ha) I didn't make it during my last trip to NYC. *Insert sad face here* That said, I know many of my friends who are more local will be excited about this addition to the Central Park area and can make it there before me, so I want to share the learned facts about this lil' cart full of health.

Rouge Tomate's Cart In The Park, which was originally due to open on June 15th, finally opened on June 29th and is located on 64th St. and Fifth Avenue in front of The Arsenal. The menu includes:
  • Sandwiches ($6-$10), 
  • Vegetable Based Soups ($5-$8),
  • House-Made Sorbet, Frozen Yogurt and Gelato *my personal favorite* ($4 and includes 2 toppings)
  • Fresh Juices *which I'm a sucker for* (seasonal, $5)
You can find a more detailed version of the menu here, compliments of Vital Juice, though I strongly recommend you follow the cart on Twitter because that's where I found out about their Coconut Lemongrass Sorbet, Valhrona Chocolate Gelato, Tahitian Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and Mint Lemonade, yuuuum! You can also try this link that they kindly tweeted me with of their  Cart In The Park Menu, however it only worked on my phone.

And if that's not enough, according to Grub Street, all ingredients will be primarily local (certain ingredients will come from tri-state farms) and in order to maintain a low impact cart, the Rouge Tomate Cart In The Park features solar panels for electricity, is made from recycled materials and uses biodegradable paper products. The little above mentioned package awards the Rouge Tomate Cart it's Green Restaurant Association Certification, woo hoo! Now I know MANY people who will appreciate all this!

Plans are in the making for me to visit La Carreta de Rouge Tomate (as fancy as I get, I don't know French) to enjoy a 3 course meal. In the meanwhile, I hope that you all make a picnic day or go on a nice date to Central Park to enjoy the summer weather and healthy fresh food at Rouge Tomate's Cart In The Park! Your belly will thank you for it...well, as long as you stay away from all cruciferous veggies, at least just for your date!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Yum Shaker Numero Uno: Adventure with Mala to Altus Cafe in Washington Heights

Pardon the  pic, my laptop just got fixed and guess who doesn't know how to edit her pics on it now?

Today I purchased a ticket to dine at a meet and greet with MujerPower!, Inc. and to my excitement it was at Altus Cafe, at a mere $40 for 3 courses, a drink and a raffle ticket. It brought me way back to February of this year when a meal at Altus Cafe was my pot of gold at the end of a gazillion year journey by train from Eastern Long Island to Brooklyn, Bronx, then finally "The Heights", what we New Yorkers refer to Washington Heights as. Okay, it was more like 5.5 hours by train, but that's an eternity in the freezing cold with about 100 pounds of luggage (perhaps another slight exaggeration).

My stop in the Bronx scored me about another 130 pounds of luggage, my friend Gissel, aka "Mala, dot dot dot". After about 45 minutes of getting dolled up for a networking event I was dragging her to, 10 of which Mala had to try and get my dress zipped up, we strolled out in our dresses and heels emulating a scene of Sex in the City to perfection. That is until the bitter zero degree weather hit us in the face. We looked at one another, let out some girly shrieks and in less than 5 seconds ran back into the building. Reality bites. We were not getting paid to freeze our booties off like the cast of Sex in the City.

Needless to say, we didn't make the event, but re-strolled out in more winterized fab fashions and hopped on the train, not knowing where I was headed, but knowing one thing: I wanted some churassco. As usual, Mala had all these great ideas in her head, which are always subject to change. As I was finally relaxing and cozy-ing up in my seat (as much as you can on a NYC subway), Mala screams out "No, let's get off here, let's go, let's go" giving us about 2 seconds to race off the train before the doors closed.

Re-catching my breath in the bitter cold, I inquire about the change of plans. Mala responds, "It's Thursday and ladies drink free until 11 at Altus." Ok. "What about the food?" FYI, it's always about the yummies with me. I'm assured by Mala that the food will meet my food snobby standards and helloooo: free drinks. So with a few loving threats thrown Mala's way that the food better be worth the long walk in the unbearable cold, we finally enter Altus Cafe.

Once at the bar, we explored our free drink options and both Mala and the lovely bartendress recommend an Altus-tini. I agreed because of the cool shade of blue that looks like it glows in the dark in their lighting. Some may say that sounds toxic, I found it quite amusing. So with around 40 minutes to down all the free drinks we could, I selected my entree (Churassco, duh) and got my drink on with Mala. Not long after 11pm the apple of my eye had an amusing collection of drunk texts (and I some lovely sober ones) and I finally had my Churassco laid out before me. Mala had seafood tacos but I failed to capture her moment. 

My Churassco came to me just the way I like it, crispy on the outside, brown but tender and flavorful on the inside. Yuuuuum. My churassco (emphasis on the my) was served with a basil cream sauce, mixed veggies and yucca fries. The chef of the evening came to see how we were doing and then made us a secret mix of other delicious sauces to eat my meal with. I don't know what the secret was, but it was edible and delicious and that's all I needed to know. We had a nice conversation with the chef and his brother (who isn't mesmerized by Mala's beauty and charm?) and by the end of our conversation I was ready to talk dessert. Though first I outta show you some pics of my churrasco, right? Here they are:

Churrasco at Altus Cafe with mixed vegetables and yucca fries

Some of my friends would be proud to know that I ate every last bit of veggies, and NOT all the fries (pats self on back)

Now back to dessert. I honestly have no idea what it was called. What I do know (and most importantly) is that it was chocolatey (chocolate addict here) and it was damn goooooooood. What I loved most about it was that I was certainly sparkling with love that night, even though he wasn't there, and the fruit and caramel sauce fell into a heart shape! After a gazillion hour (I mean 5.5 hour not including the ride back) freezing train ride I was definitely glowing by the end of my visit at Altus :) Here are some pics of the dessert that I kind-of-sorta-not-really-so-much shared with Mala:

<3 Look at that beautiful heart shaped sauce! <3
Two thumbs up to the Chef at Altus Cafe, I can't wait to come back for more drinks and food!

Altus Cafe is located at 4325 Broadway @ 184th Street, New York, NY and you can check out their current menu and learn more about them at Go, check it out, and let me know what you ate!!!

Thanks for reading baby dolls!

Besos, Beijos, Filakia,
Lisa xo