Friday, August 26, 2011

My Couch

While I was browsing through my photos yesterday looking for photos for my Sofrito post, I came across a lot of pictures of people sleeping on my couch.

Gia (the one in the middle struggling to keep her eyes open) is prone to knocking out wherever she goes. It’s not a matter of if she will fall asleep it’s a matter of when. Besides her, Baibe, my cat holds the number one spot for couch snoozing. What else does she have to do with her time; she is a cat.

I know my home is cozy, that’s why I love it so much, but either I make everyone feel really comfortable or I am the most boring person to visit… Obviously, I can’t be trusted if you close your eyes even for a second.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Louise's Restaurant Picks - Sofrito

My eighth featured Restaurant Pick is Sofrito:

400 East 57th Street
(Between 1st Avenue and Sutton Place)
New York, NY 10022
Cuisine: Puerto Rican

Although I haven’t been to every single restaurant in New York City, I’m pretty sure that Sofrito is one of the best places to eat.

Sofrito was introduced to me by Daisy as one of her Restaurant of the Month picks. I can’t count how many times I have been back or the amount of people I’ve visited Sofrito with, but I can guarantee that each and every one of us walked out stuffed and happy as hell. (I don't want nothing to do with hell, but you know what I mean.)

I have soooo many good eating memories from dining at Sofrito. I haven’t been to Sofrito in a while because it is a bit pricey; but you forget about the dollar signs as you are chomping away because the tastes are worth every penny.

From their menu I have eaten: Mofongo Al Pilon De Camarones (Mashed Green Plantain with Shrimp); Pargo Entero Al Horno O Frito Con Arroz De Coco (Whole Red Snapper Baked or Crispy - I got crispy - with Coconut Rice); Pernil Con Arroz Y Gandules (Roast Pork with Pigeon Pea Rice). Come ready to eat, these portions are huge!

There is also an appetizer sampler, which is not on the menu so I can’t say which appetizers are included, but Mmmmm! Everything is so freaking Mmmmm! Even the garlic buttered, pressed bread that you get for free on your table is delish!

They also serve great cocktails. I’ve had the Sofrito Sangria (Choice of Red or White Wine topped with fresh fruit) and the Sofrito Mojito (Rum, Malibu Passion Fruit, Passion Fruit Juice, Lime and Mint, served with a stick of sugar cane). The Sofrito Mojito is yum! If you are with a group, or with one other person who can put a drink away, it’s worth it to order a pitcher.

Sofrito has a lounge-ish feel. The salsa music is blasting so it is a bit loud. I don’t mind loud at a bar, but at a restaurant I don’t want to have to yell. And you if want to talk to anyone, you will have to talk loud to be heard. But because everything else about this restaurant is so great, I don’t care. I can talk loud for an hour or two. There won’t be much talking once the food arrives anyway.

There is a dress code, which adds to the ‘lounge’ – not ‘restaurant’ feel. I understand this for a club, but not really for a restaurant. Even if you are dressed decently, but happen to be a man who is wearing shorts, they will not let you in. And they don’t open until 5pm Monday - Saturday and 4pm on Sunday (Lounge). But then again, maybe they don’t open until later in the day, because they are busy seasoning, and cooking my pernil.

If you know someone who likes to be fussed over on their birthday (me) Sofrito is a great place for a birthday dinner. The music stops and they play a Latin version of Happy Birthday over the speakers. The entire wait staff comes over clapping and singing; one carrying a dessert adorned with a sparking candle just for you. This can happen about ten times while you are there for other people who you may or may not share a birthday with. I’m sure a lot of people fake the birthday funk.

I’m not sure if they are still doing this, but there was one night when a live cover band was playing. This created more of a mellow atmosphere.

I’m looking forward to visiting Sazon which is owned by Sofrito; and I heard that they were opening a restaurant in Queens called Adobo. My belly and I are looking forward to it all!!

Visit their website for more of their menu options.

Enjoy, and until next time, happy eating!

~Louise C.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

10 Day You Challenge – Day Ten: One Picture of Yourself

Aw, it’s the last day of the 10 Day Challenge. Here is my photo:

The story behind this photo:

My friend, Beatrice, asked me and two other friends to pose for photos that she will be using on her photography website once it launches. Our friend Niketta was responsible for the hair and the makeup for this photo shoot and for the Undies in a Bunch photo shoot. Getting dressed and having someone do your hair and makeup should be relaxing, but I remember being exhausted at the end of the day. I can’t imagine how Beatrice and Niketta felt because they were the ones who were doing the actual work. All I did was stand / sit where I was told. Regardless of the exhaustion, the photo shoot was a lot of fun and I hope to pose for more photos for Bea. in the future; I have a lot of ideas swimming around in my head.

If those heffas ever get around to answering my questions, I plan on featuring both Beatrice and Niketta in Friends with Benefits, but I’ll let them off the hook for the time being because they are both busy bees.

It was fun sharing all of these silly, fun facts about myself. To those who read them, thank you for allowing me to share and thank you for the positive feedback. And to those who were not paying attention to my 10 Day You Challenge, fart noise to you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Day Nine: Two Songs

(If you are viewing this post on facebook, you might have to view the original post if you care to see the videos)

There are too many songs to choose from that I love. So I will go with one song that I love to sing and one that I love to dance to.

1.  Vision Of Love, Mariah Carey.

I let someone ‘borrow’ my Vision of Love CD and never saw it again, but it’s okay. I have a job so I can buy myself another one. Merry Christmas to you! Don’t say I never gave you nothing...I’m kidding.

This song is so ‘Old Mariah’ but I love Old Mariah before she began wearing next to nothing. Ahhh I still love Mariah; she’s one of my favorite singers. I may not love her songs, but I love her soulful voice.
When Vision of Love came out I was 11 and had just begun to play around with my voice and the discovery that I could actually carry a tune. I don’t sing in front of people and if I do I use my regular voice; not my singing voice. I’m just too shy and my voice gets too shaky when I’m nervous. If I would have taken singing lessons, I probably could have overcome the shakiness and made my voice stronger, but singing lessons cost too damn much and it’s free to sing in my living room.

Vision of Love is my number one go to song, when I am in a singing mood. I must be a soprano because this song feels easy on my vocal cords, until I get to the ‘Alllll-oh-ooo-whoa-ooo- whoa-all that you…” I can do it when I am by myself, but I wouldn’t dare in front of people. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll fulfill my dream of being a lounge singer.

2.  Murder She Wrote, Chaka Demus & Pliers.

This song might be older than I think it is, but I was 13 or 14 when I became aware of it. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, this song makes my body mooove. Murder she Wrote is a guaranteed oldie, but goodie as it never fails to get everyone on the dance floor. It’s a great segue for the reggae songs on those mixed reggae albums that have the same beat as Murder she Wrote. I love all of them, but I love this one the most. I never understood what the song was about so I looked up the lyrics and finally got it; Maxine is a hoe. Understood. I also love the booty popping skanks in the video. See for yourself:

Monday, August 22, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Day Eight: Three Films


1. Dirty Dancing

About the movie: Expecting the usual tedium that accompanies a summer in the Catskills with her family, 17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is surprised to find herself stepping into the shoes of a professional hoofer -- and unexpectedly falling in love. The object of her affection? The resort's free-spirited dance instructor (Patrick Swayze).

Remember when channel 11 used to play 80’s movies non-stop? There is a long list of 80’s movies that I love. Dirty Dancing isn’t my number one 80’s movie, it is my number one and a half, but I had to put it on this list because it’s a classic.

I saw this movie for the first time when I was fourteen and I fell in love with the idea of being Baby. I would have done the same thing she did, by rebelling against her family and continuing to see Patrick Swayze behind their backs. The only difference is that I wouldn’t have needed Patrick to teach me how to dance. We would have bonded at the first shake of a tail feather. My favorite things about this movie are: that Baby’s parent’s learned not to judge a book by its cover, the music and the choreographed dance at the end. Who doesn’t want to be at an event where everyone just gets up and starts dancing in unison? People jumping off stages and ish. I love it!

2. Set It Off

About the movie: Sick of being victims of circumstance and fighting a system that keeps them from realizing their dreams, four black women from the Los Angeles projects opt to knock over a bank. Emboldened after pulling off the heist, they continue their crime spree. But the sticky-fingered quartet (played by Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise) is unaware that a fixated police detective (John C. McGinley) has them in his sights.

No matter how many times I’ve seen this movie, I can always watch it again and again and again. I was seventeen when Set It Off came out in the movie theater and I went to see it twice by myself. Four badass bitches running around with guns, stealing money; and they would have all gotten away with it, if only they didn’t get greedy. Their performances are amazing, and even though the story is gangsta, I LOVE it! Once the bank robbing starts, I’m on the edge of my seat (even when I see it now), actually rooting for them to get away with it.

3. American Beauty:

About the movie: While struggling to endure his perfection-obsessed wife (Annette Bening), an unfulfilling job and a sullen teenage daughter (Thora Birch), suburbanite Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) falls deep into a midlife crisis and becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends (Mena Suvari).

American Beauty is one of my FAVORITE movies. I relate to every single character in this movie. The husband is just over his life and although a lot of the things he does during his mid-life crisis are totally wrong, I understand him. The high strung wife is just sick and tired of dealing with a man who begins to behave like a child and instead of trying to meet him on a middle ground, she has an affair. Their daughter does not relate to her parents at all and is just biding her time until she can make her escape. Her friend, who proclaims to be very promiscuous and openly flirts with her dad (who completely soaks up her advances), is just really a lonely, sad liar. Their next door neighbor is an abusive army veteran, who is secretly struggling with his sexuality (I don’t relate to him). Her boyfriend, who is also their neighbor’s son, seems to be an odd boy, but he is the one who seems to be more together than everyone else in the movie. He puts up with his unpleasant living situation, because he knows one day he will be free of it. My favorite thing about him is, like me, he finds beauty in the most peculiar things. I get why, at end of the movie, he bends down to look into Kevin Spacey’s dead face, but in the same situation, I definitely would not have done the same thing. I also get his fascination with the plastic bag. LOL. There are too many things that I have to say about this movie, but I’ll stop there.

I’m not saying I would do any of the things these characters did, but each character reflected a piece of me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Day Seven: Four Books

There are so many books that I love and because I don't read while I am writing, I have a long reading list to catch up on. Although there is nothing like holding the actual book in your hands, I might break down and invest in a Kindle soon. It's such a space saver. Anyway, on to my four picks.

1. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel.

About the book: A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

I fell in love with this book while I was in high school. There are only a handful of books that I've read repeatedly. This is one of them. I don't even know how many times I've read it.

I love this story of forbidden love and the passion that remains alive between Tita and the man she loves even though they are not allowed to be together. I love the food and the recipes; and the magic Tita discovers which allows her to express her feelings through her cooking. I'm a sucker for when the underdog has a bit of good fortune, so even though her mom tried to squash all hopes of her love, the spirits or the universe gave her hope in a hopeless situation. I'll be looking forward to reading Like Water for Chocolate again soon.

2. Red Leaves, by Paullina Simons.

About the book: Everyone at Dartmoth College knows Kristina Kim, Conni Tobias, Albert Maplethorpe and Jim Shaw. Attractive, intelligent and poised for brilliant futures, they are campus elite, and ever since freshman years, they've been inseparable--almost like family. Led by the beautiful, spirited and enigmatic Kristina, they share an intimacy others envy.But it is more than camaraderie that unites the friends. Dark and seductive secrets bind the four to one another--intense passions and simmering tensions that have been building for years. When those passions finally explode the dead of a bitter cold night, a brutal act will be committed--one that will reveal shocking truths about each of them.

This mysterious novel isn't for everyone, but I couldn't put it down. This book was introduced to me by my friend J. Torres in a short lived book club we were members of before we all became busy and the book club fell apart. If it wasn't for the book club, I wouldn't know about this book. First, I love the artwork and the colors on the cover. This sexual, mystery kept me captivated until the very end. I can't say too much, because I feel like I might give something away. But there is sex, lies, money and murrrderrr. I loved it!

3. Rose Madder, by Stephen King.

About the book: After 14 years of being beaten, Rose Daniels wakes up one morning and leaves her (police officer) husband -- but she keeps looking over her shoulder, because Norman has the instincts of a predator. And what is the strange work of art that has Rose in a kind of spell? In this brilliant dark-hued fable of the gender wars, Stephen King has fashioned yet another suspense thriller to keep readers right on the edge.

I read this book (which was recommended by Gia) about 8 years ago and I'm still waiting for the details to leave my mind so that I can read it again. It was such a great book!

I had the great fortune of finding a copy, with the original cover artwork, in a thrift shop for one dollar. Woohoo! I will definitely read it again someday now that I have it on my bookshelf.

I was totally drawn into this novel. There is a painting that has a certain significance throughout this book and my friend's mom had a painting on her living room wall that fit the description of the painting in the Rose Madder. While I was reading this book, I'd stop and stare at that painting every time I passed it because (crazy enough) the painting mad me connect with the main character. I could kinda see what she saw. And although I wasn't the one being chased by an abusive husband, I was on edge for the character the entire time as she found strength in her escape and made a much better life for herself. I was just waiting for the moment when she would be leaving the grocery store and there, in the parking lot, would be the abusive husband with a smug 'you thought you got away' smirk on his face. This magical mystery is a must read.

4. Random family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole Leblanc.

About the book: Two romances thread through Random Family: the sexually charismatic nineteen-year-old Jessica's dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and fourteen-year-old Coco's first love with Jessica's little brother, Cesar, an aspiring thug. Fleeing from family problems, the young couples try to outrun their destinies. Chauffeurs whisk them to getaways in the Poconos and to nightclubs. They cruise the streets in Lamborghinis and customized James Bond cars. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between life and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George's business activities; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty. Together, then apart, the teenagers make family where they find it. Girls look for excitement and find trouble; boys, searching for adventure, join crews and prison gangs. Coco moves upstate to dodge the hazards of the Bronx; Jessica seeks solace in romance. Both find that love is the only place to go.

This book was also recommended to me by Gia. The most amazing thing about this book is that it is a true story. It's amazing to me because although this story takes place in the Bronx, I didn't grow up like this and I don't know anyone who lives this type of life. Neither Gia nor I can get over this story. This is another book sitting on my bookshelf just waiting for a re-read. The author spent ten years in the company of the main characters in her book. Without her doing this, the story she tells wouldn't be as raw and real. I have to give Adrian Nicole Leblanc mad props for putting herself in a less than safe environment in order to deliver this story of ghetto glamour and the consequences that follow. The story she tells sociologically displays how the environment you are exposed to effects and limits the choices that you make about your life. It was truly an amazing story and if you are from the Bronx and are familiar with certain areas, the story becomes more alive in your mind as you'll be able to picture where certain events take place. Definitely get yourself a copy of this book!

10 Day You Challenge - Day Six: Five Foods

1.  I love pork; and I would never give it up unless the doctor told me that I would die if I ate another slice of bacon. Bacon and pernil are my favorite forms of pork. I made my first pernil last Christmas. Because it was my first time making it, the preparation was time consuming, but now that I know what to expect, this year's pernil should easier to prepare. Cold, day old pernil is also yummy! I could have made a Cuban sandwich, empanadas and so many other dishes with the leftovers, which is what I planned on doing, but the second I set that pan down after taking it out of the fridge and began peeling the pork off the bone, there was no need for tupperware. That pernil didn't stand a chance.

2.  Pasta: I love, love, love pasta. I love pasta because it is so easy to make and it's so versatile. It can be eaten with ground beef, chicken, veggies; with alfredo or tomato sauce or with garlic infused olive oil. Angel hair is my favorite, but I love tortellini, ravioli and everything that goes into making lasagna.

3. Breakfast: Next to Breakfast at IHOP, I love Breakfast at Louise's. This includes buttermilk pancakes, bacon, eggs and home fries, served with your choice of coffee, tea or a mimosa. I love making breakfast and I love eating it even more. I make pumpkin, buttermilk pancakes around Thanksgiving and now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wondering why I only make pumpkin pancakes in November... There's no rule that says I can't make them all year round. I feel a Saturday brunch special coming on.

4.  Potatoes: I love baked potatoes, french fries, mashed potatoes, home fried potatoes. I can just eat potatoes by themselves with nothing else. Potatoes are another food that I love in various forms; which reminds me that I have some red potatoes in the fridge. Eggs and home fries for breakfast tomorrow!

5. Red Velvet Cake: Specifically, from Buttercup Bake Shop or Cake Man Raven. Sometimes there is a bitter aftertaste with red food coloring, but these two places got it RIGHT! Neely's BBQ Parlor's Red Velvet Cake was also delish. No bitter aftertaste. I've only had Cake Man's red velvet once because I don't really travel to Brooklyn too often; and the friend I was visiting had a supply of Cake Man's Red Velvet slices to share with me... but, it looks like I just might have found the recipe online... I know better than to think that an establishment would actually give away their money making recipe for free, but it's on the Timeout New York website, so it must be so... It may be the actual recipe and it may not, either way, I can't wait to make it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

LRD (Little Red Dress)

Is my dress too short for work?

I felt like it might be a little short when I got dressed this morning, but I did the 'hand length to dress length' test and the dress passed. I can't lift up my arms, and I have to bend at the knees instead of at the waist to remain decent; but the dress passed the test.

I like short dresses, they make me feel young. I know I’m not old yet, but it’s all uphill aging from here. I fear becoming an office slut as I age. One of those woman people whisper about because her clothes don't match her age bracket. Is wearing this dress after 40 wrong? Why am I even thinking about turning forty?

I got this dress (in two colors) from Forever 21 (wishful thinking) for $25. Nice for the price!

Have a wonderful weekend, peeps!

~Louise C.

10 Day You Challenge - Day Five: Six Places

1.  IHOP: I love breakfast and I love breakfast even more when someone else is making it for me. It’s not the same as when I make it, but not having a kitchen to clean afterwards doesn’t hurt. I LOVE their pancakes. I found a recipe online that’s pretty close, but it’s not the same. Damn you IHOP for keeping your pancakes a secret. They are the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted. Even better than my own.

2.  Chateau Quackenbush: Chateau Quackenbush is the home of a very good friend of mine. Visiting her is like being at a hotel, a spa and a restaurant all in one. Her home is spectacular, and she is the best hostess because she doesn't allow me to lift a finger the entire time I am there except to wash my body. Her bathroom is like a spa haven and the second I close the bathroom door behind me, time stops, but only for me. Everyone else is probably wondering how long I’m going be in the bathroom and how much water one person can possibly use. This is a house, where we pay for water!! At the end of it all there is dinner served with a cocktail. Why do I even go back to my own home? I should just hide in one of her closets and only come out to steal her food and wine when everyone is sleeping.

3.  Isla Verde, Puerto Rico: My first solo vacation has been the best thing that I have done with myself and for myself all year. Well besides the release of Undies in a Bunch and learning how to drive. For those who didn’t read my blog about my fabulous vacation, click here.

4.  My mom’s house: I love going there because I don’t have to cook that night or the next night. There is always good, homemade food available and she always packs me a goody bag of food or extra things she has lying around the house. I love being babied a little while I am there.

5.  Miami, Florida: I love it there! I always stay at the Richmond Hotel, which is cozy and close to everything; The beach, the strip, Walgreens and CVS (I love a pharmacy on vacation), Lincoln Road, where all the restaurants are; and there is a bus that stops outside the hotel that takes you straight to… IHOP! I love how easy it is to get around there, even without a car.

6.  My home: I love it! It’s one of my most favorite places to be. My home is my oasis. It’s comfortable, cozy, relaxing and most importantly, it’s mine! There’s just no place else like it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

10 Day You Challenge – Day Four: Seven Wants

(I have to narrow it down to seven?!):

1. I want to own a home. When I was 21 and my rent was $380 (Yes, $380 to rent a room! Try finding that today.) After realizing that I was paying my landlord’s mortgage, I did the math.  I could have been using that monthly chunk of money to put towards my own home. It hasn’t happened for me yet and I almost thought this year was the year, but I had to check my breaks. With the way the economy has been, they won’t accept 10% of a down payment anymore, so I have to continue banking my bucks. Homeownership is definitely in my future. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when. Renting just does not making any sense to me; it’s a waste of money.

2. I want to travel to Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland; Go back to London to see my grandparents before they aren’t around to visit anymore. I want to lay on the beaches of Aruba, Dominican Republic… the beaches I want to lay on are endless.

3. I want to be a good driver when I am in the car by myself and there isn’t someone in the passenger seat with his foot on the break in case I miss a stop sign; which I did twice on my last driving lesson. I actually like driving and my instructor keeps telling me that I need to schedule my road test, but I’d rather drive around with him in the car because I feel safe with him. I want to cut the umbilical driving-instructor-cord and venture out in a car on my own (safely) without my safety net. I wonder if he’ll let me hire him to drive around with me after I have my driver’s license.

4. I have two pairs of UGG boots. One for cold, dry days and one for cold, slushy days. UGGs changed my life and how I feel about winter. They are the warmest boots that I’ve ever owned and because of them, I didn’t feel a thing even if it was 0 degrees outside. So I want another pair.

5.  I want the country to figure out how to get rid of bedbugs so that I can go back to living my life like a normal person. When I went to Puerto Rico, I brought GLAD garbage bags with me to put my luggage in once I got there. Not one piece of my clothing went anywhere near the bed. Not even a nightgown or something to sleep in. I thought the issue was getting resolved because you don’t hear about too many places having bedbugs anymore, but yesterday, I saw two bed bug commercials, a special on the news about how to keep them out of your home, and a show on the animal planet that I couldn’t finish watching so that I could keep my anxiety in check. I saw this all in the same day. Just when I was almost believing that they might have figured something out. How hard can it be!!! Please U.S., figure something out so that I can stop putting my clothes in the freezer when I get home. And no, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I do this.

6. I want a pair of the Jessica Simpson earrings (below) in both silver and gold. I’ve seen them in Macy’s for two years and still haven’t bought them. One reason is because I am cheap. I buy a lot of costume jewelry so none of my earrings are over six bucks. These are a whopping 25 bucks. Whoa… I’ll break down and get them one day, unless I find something similar for $6 or less before I buy them. 

7. I want to win the lottery. If I win the lottery I can do all of the above. I can own a home, travel everywhere, buy my driving instructor from the auto school and keep him in the passenger seat forever. I can get bedbugs because I will have enough money to correct the situation. I can buy as many $25 earrings as I want and own as many UGG boots as I want. Winning the lottery seems to be the answer to all of my wants.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Friends with Benefits - Christian Rap Artist, Marc Cazley

The Friend: Marc Cazley.

The Benefit: Christian Rapper/ Singer/ Songwriter.

About Marc and me: Marc is more than a friend, he’s my little brother. I met Marc I was ten years old, in January of 1989, after he burst out of our mother’s womb and joined our family. Before Marc came into the picture, I was an only child, but I’d always wanted a sibling. Now that I had a sibling it took me some time to adjust to having a toddler around. Once Marc learned how to walk he took to exploring his surroundings and sometimes, due to his curiosity, items of mine would end up in the toilet or out the window. I didn’t find this as humorous as my mom did, who told me that if I didn’t want Marc to get a hold of my items, to keep my room clean and keep things out of his reach. Did I listen? No.

I had an incomplete sewing project where I’d wrapped the thread around and stuck the sewing needle into the fabric. My sewing project ended up on the floor, Marc walked into my room and the needle ended up going into his foot. I felt terrible and cried all the way to the hospital in the ambulance, because it was my fault that we were our way to the hospital in the first place. Marc has since forgiven me for being the cause of such a traumatic injury.

That story is about fifty years old, but it’s what came to mind when I started writing about Marc.

Marc is special to me because he is my first sibling. What I like about Marc is that he has this cool, roll of your shoulders attitude about himself. I can be pretty high strung at times, so this is a personality trait that I wish I had. I also love Marc’s intelligence. Instead of getting his information from surfing the internet, which I’m sure he does occasionally, Marc gets his information and news the old fashioned way, by reading the newspaper everyday. Anyone can read the newspaper everyday, but due to the instant gratification of this technological age that we live in, most young people don’t. I don’t even read the paper at all. So kudos to my bro for keeping it old school.

Another thing I love about Marc is the confidence and belief he has in himself and the positive things he is doing with his self-assurance.

One Saturday, Marc invited me to Harvest Center Ministries were he would be performing. I didn’t doubt my brother’s talent, but his performances blew me away. He was AMAZING!! I can write, but I couldn’t construct a song and put it together. I probably could if I really tried, but Marc doesn’t have to try. He writes all of his lyrics by himself. His lyrics are all positive words glorifying God and spreading His word. In his songs, Marc combines current events with God’s message and I believe that his delivery will go a long way and reach many people. I am so, so proud of him!!

Who is Marc Cazley? I am a Rapper, Singer, Song Writer and I write Christian songs for myself as well as for others. (He's also an artist, as in he can draw and he has a good eye for photography. But this is about his music, so I'll get back to the questions.)

When did song writing become important to you? I've been writing rap songs since I was about eight-years-old. I wrote a lot of songs as I got older. Finally when I was the age of like fourteen or fifteen-years-old, I started rapping in the projects with my church. We would go out in the summertime to different projects and reach out to the youth in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx . When I would rap in these places to audiences that didn't necessarily agree with my beliefs, I still had awesome feedback! So many people told me that I was the “Best Christian rapper” that they ever heard. And then there were other times when I would be walking past the same project buildings weeks later and there was kids who would come up to me and start singing my choruses or reciting my lyrics! I was shocked to say the least, but the good thing is... I never became cocky or let it get to my head! But I would have to say I think that was the point in my life. That I knew what God wanted me to do.

Has it been an easy or difficult road to follow your passion? It has been difficult at times! Definitely! There have been periods of my life where I was doing things totally the opposite of what I knew that I was called to do… Times when I was doing some horrible things! That's a whole ‘nother story in itself (ha-ha). But once, I cleared myself of all the extra-curricular foolishness, that made the road a whole lot easier!

What / who inspires you? First I'm gonna say this and I know it's gonna sound corny to some - but first and foremost, I would have to say “God” inspires my music! He's the one who blessed me with the talent, he's the one who puts the lyrics in my head and helps them flow from the pen and into my performances! But as far as artists who inspires me, I would have to say Christian Rap artists, ‘Ambassador’, ‘Da’ Truth’ and ‘Flame’ are probably the ones who most inspire me to keep my finger on the "Go Button ".

Marc’s last words: Right now my songs can be found on You Tube under MC “No In The Middle”. I have other songs like MC "God of Creation" and "Quick Hitters" on there as well. Enjoy them and share them. I'm just warming up!

Here are two of Marc’s songs:

For more information about Musical Marc Cazley, (that’s the name I’m giving him) please visit (and “Like”) his Facebook Fan Page, follow him on twitter @MiracleMC, and on You Tube where he promises to share more of his talents.

Marc, I am so proud of the young man you have grown to be and what you are doing with your life. Keep doing what you do! I wish you the very best in each and every avenue you take to share God’s word. Remember – You can do all things, through Christ who strengthens you.

~Louise C.

10 Day You Challenge - Day Three: Eight Fears

1.  I’m afraid of not having a family and I’m also afraid of having a family. I thought that I would already be a mom but when I think about everything that motherhood requires I feel relieved that I’m not a mom at this moment. Society can tell you that there is no rush, but the truth is that women do have a cut off time. Plus, I don’t want to be an old ass mom, but that just might have to be the way it happens. When I think about Christmas and how much I like to feed people, I know I want a family. Christmas and feeding people might not make sense to you but it makes perfect sense to me.

2.  I’m scared of my mom. I don’t care if I’m 32, she still scares me. Fear isn’t really what I feel towards her, maybe it’s more of a boundary thing. There are some people who have a relationship with their moms where they talk about sex and all types of scandalous topics. I can tell my mom just about anything, but there are just some things I will not discuss with my mom, because she is my mom.

3.  I’m afraid of people because they are unpredictable. With me what you see is what you get. Being that way makes me naïve because I think others are that way too. But I’ve learned the hard way that it isn’t so.

4.  I am afraid of cockroaches (the big ones that fly). I HATE them!! I have a chapter in Undies in a Bunch about just how much I hate them. I know I am a thousand times bigger than they are, but they set off an insanity switch of fear in me.

5.  Natural elements scare me. A strong, gusty wind and thick, dark clouds during a rain storm are all components (in my head) for a potential tornado. I’ve watched way too many National Geographical tornado chasing and natural disaster shows so I’m always on the lookout for a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami…all things I have absolutely no control over, but I’m on the lookout nonetheless. Lightening also scares the crap out of me. It should be the other way around where thunder scares me, but thunder can’t kill you; Lightening can. And although I fear them, I’m also fascinated by it all.

6.  Life and death scare me because life can be so extinguishable. One minute someone you love can be here and the next they can be gone. And you just never know when. I’m blessed not to have lost anyone close to me, but I worry about death all the time. For others and for myself. I’m healthy, but all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or a health issue that suddenly creeps up on you and that’s it. You’re finished on this earth and you’re not coming back. But death is a part of life. It’s going to happen some time.

7.  I’m afraid of flying and of heights. The fact that there is nothing beneath me while I am on a plane makes my legs weak. I hold my breath every time there is a shake of turbulence. Once the plane takes off I relax a little. Not totally, but enough to fall asleep or enjoy a movie, but I never fully relax until I’ve landed.

8.  My dentist scares me. I’ve been going to her for ten years and I’ve always loved her. But the last time I went to her she tried to do a filling without giving me novocain. I don’t know why she would do something like this if she’s always used novocain in her relationship with me. She explained that the cavity was not deep and that I wouldn’t need the Novocain. I could feel what she was doing so I made her give it to me, but I haven’t been back since.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Day Two: Nine Loves

1.  Although I am not a morning person, I love mornings on the weekends. There is a quiet, peacefulness about a Saturday or Sunday morning. Most people are still in bed or just relaxing at home; and the people who are out and about aren’t in rush mode so there is a relaxed feel about the streets and the supermarkets...or wherever people are on weekend mornings.

2.  I love all four seasons. Summer is my favorite, but I love the smell of spring and its promise of summer’s approach; and I love the explosion of blossoms on the trees. I love the fall for the cool, crisp air and the pretty leaves; I love the winter for Christmas and for fresh snowfalls; and although most people complained about the last winter we had where it snowed just about everyday, I loved every bit of it. Now that I think about it, I’m wondering why summer is my favorite. Spring is pretty for the blossoms, fall, pretty for the leaves, and winter, pretty for the snowflakes. What ‘pretty’ does summer bring?? Heat waves are not pretty. I guess I love the idea of what summer used to mean to me when I was in school and we were off for two months.

3.  I love the supermarket because I love fresh produce. All this 10-day-Challenge is doing is showing how much of a cornball I am. Psssh…Anyway, food makes me feel good and it makes me feel better if everything in my meal is fresh. Fresh Cilantro, Parsley, Basil… Meals just taste better when they are made with fresh ingredients and because I don’t live near a farm, I get a little excited when I find them at the supermarket; which is happening more often.

4.  I love to trying to do everything from scratch. I say ‘trying’ because I’m lazy. If something is simple I will do it. Like this weekend I made Turkey Chili and the recipe was so simple that I remembered what to buy from the last time I made it without needing to make a list. Yes! Sometimes recipes can be so complicated it just discourages me from making the meal. I’m a little domesticated, so I think if I were born in a different time, I would be the type of woman who made her own cheese and sewed all of her clothes by hand. I have a sewing machine, which I used to hem a few on my pants but something went wrong and I can’t figure out what so I hem everything by hand if it needs to be shortened. I also knit, but I knit very simple pieces because reading a pattern would require too much brain power…I am impatient so I take pleasure in time saving short cuts, but I love trying.

5.  I love my cat. I wasn’t a pet person before I got her, so I understand that people who don’t have pets won’t understand my attachment to this cat. She always, always greets me at the door when I come home. She’s so cute, and fat and squishy (even though she’s not supposed to be fat and squishy) and she makes me talk in a voice that goes like this…

6.  I love my family. This includes everyone that I love. My mom is a great friend because she is a vault. She is someone who you can tell anything and she will never repeat it. She leads by example because she doesn’t talk her own business. I could take a page out of her book, but I’m too open with my business and my mouth. My brothers are fantastic young men who are doing positive things with their lives. I wish there were more black, young men like them out there. And I love all of the people who don’t share my DNA, but share my life. I have been blessed to have some of the best people the world has to offer in my life as extended family. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, lovers. It’s amazing how your life can become so intertwined with people who were strangers at one point.

7.  Although my home might not reflect this because at times I can be messy, I love a clean home. I love cleaning products for what they do for my home. My home might be messy, but it WILL be disinfected. I love clean floors, a clean sink, a clean toilet and a clean kitchen. I should have put this is my secrets, but I don’t like when other people wash my dishes. They never clean them the way I do. If it doesn’t squeak, it’s not clean. But everyone doesn’t think this way. GREASY DISHES ARE NOT CLEAN!

8.  I love being independent. I would much rather share certain experiences with people, but I love that if I have to do whatever activity by myself, I won’t let someone not being able to join me stop me from doing what I want to do. Although it’s wonderful to be taken care of, I love not having to rely on anyone else if I have to take care of something by myself.

9.  I love my determination. Is it bad that I’m not being modest here? If I say I’m going to do something for myself, I do it. The only time I don’t to something I set out to do, is when I involve others in the mix; which goes back to being independent. Sometimes others add to what you want to do, but sometimes they can distract you from what you are supposed to be doing. For me, my word is bond! Took it to the BX, son! I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I was born with this desire for the finer things in life. I might not get all of the finer things, but I will get some… I promise me that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

10 Day You Challenge - Day One: Ten Secrets

Adventures of Modern Mom roped me into this challenge. I wasn’t going to do it because even though writing about myself should come easy to me, it is HARD! But this is for fun, so why not:

1.  I talk to myself and inanimate objects. If the server is slow loading whichever page I’m trying to get to, I start saying things like “Come ON!”, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”, “I can’t believe this B.S.” If I’m mad about something and there is no one there to listen I will just sit there mumbling (or yelling) about how upset I am by myself until I get the anger out. Or if I have a thought sometimes I’ll say it out loud even though no one is there to hear me. I’ve always been that way and my mom thought I was crazy because of it, but I don’t care. I talk to myself.

2.  I love the dark and sometimes even after the sun has gone down, I’ll just navigate my way around with just the light of the TV.

3.  But after a scary dream or a really scary movie I have to sleep with my bedside lamp on.

4.  In the morning, one of the first things I do is let one rip. I guess I build a lot of air pressure while I’m horizontal so as soon as I stand up all of that air has to escape. (He-he)

5.  Although my life doesn’t reflect this and I haven’t been to church in a very long time, I believe and agree with everything in the Bible. This isn’t really a secret, but just something that most people wouldn’t think about me because I just let people be. I’m a conservative person with a liberal-ish mindset so I wouldn’t ever force anyone to believe what I believe, especially since I’m not even living life the way the Bible says I should.

6.  I do not like mingling or socializing even though I have a lot of friends and people in my life. If there is a gathering, I find comfort blending into the wall or the chair or whatever object I find to hold me up. I don’t ask questions like ‘What do you do?’ or ‘How do you know so and so?’ because I really don’t care. Because of this strange attitude I have, people don’t remember meeting me if they see me again. Or they get offended because I come across as standoffish and stuck up. I can’t explain why I am like this. It’s rude and I really am a very nice person.

7.  I have private parties by myself. I don’t schedule them or anything (Ha-ha). Sometimes when I’m cleaning and I have the music playing, the beat gets me and I can’t help but bust a move and then another and then another until there is more dancing than cleaning taking place. The people who live across from me must be really entertained because I don’t close the blinds when I do this.

8.  When I’m on the train and I don’t have a book to read, I sometimes judge people on their appearance. I’ll decide what their home looks like, what type of friends they have, whether they have a good relationship or not (if I’m watching a couple). I enjoy making up fictitious lives for strangers, even though I don’t realize I’m doing it until they’re getting off the train and I’m like “But wait, we were just getting to know each other so well..."

9.  I think of myself as a big girl even though I’m not. And I’m always surprised when I realize that I’m a size 6 and not a 10. I don’t know why I always think of myself as a big girl.

10.  I love to sing and probably would have been a performer or some sort if I would have had the proper training. Dancing and singing are what I think I should have been doing with my life, and although my voice is good, it’s not strong enough. As for dancing, there is nothing like the feeling of being on stage. I hope I get the opportunity to perform again one day.

Fashion & Style

I am not a fashion blogger nor am I trying to be a fashion blogger. Committing to fashion blogging is way too overwhelming and although I strive to be stylish, I am just not that stylish; I simply love clothes and I’ve always had way more clothes than my closet has allowed.

It took me some time to develop my own sense of style and to figure out what worked with my body type. Being comfortable in my skin combined with numerous subscriptions to magazines have had a good and bad influence on me. Bad because if I see something that I don’t have, but want, I make sure that the item becomes mine. Good because a fashion magazine can help you to make good use of items you already have, by putting them together in ways that you never would have thought; thus eliminating a shopping trip

For example:

Of course the outfits aren’t exactly the same, I could never afford what Eva Longoria is wearing, but it just gave me the idea of how I could wear what I already have in my closet.

My entire outfit is from H&M. I LOVE that place! I can’t explain what happens to me when I go in there and sometimes I have to ban myself if I am on a money saving kick. As I said, if I see something I want, I will buy it. I have no self control when it comes to shopping.

Anyway, I love H&M for their ability to cater to different age groups, for the fact that their merchandise is inexpensive, yet not cheaply made and for their classic pieces that never go out of style. Some might disagree with me about H&M being great, but H&M is my number one place to shop.

I love the skirt I am wearing in the photo because it has an elastic band around the waist and because the material is stretchy. Because I have a big booty and a small waist, I have a terribly depressing time finding skirts and pants that fit. I love pencil skirts, but I am not a pencil shaped woman; so I am thankful to this skirt for working with my shape.

I am a nut who has to buy everything in multiple colors, so I own the shirt(s) in three colors:

The shirts and the skirt cost $24.95 each, if I remember correctly, and just shows that you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to look like a star! I’m just kidding, but you don’t have to shell out big bucks to look presentable in your own way, and with what you already have to work with in your closet.

~Louise C.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Louise's Restaurant Picks - Lucy's Cantina Royale

Let’s face it; Restaurant of the Month no longer applies so I’ll be changing Restaurant of the Month to Louise’s Restaurant Picks.

When I began writing the Restaurant of the Month blogs I wasn’t sure how often I would post a blog recommending a restaurant. Apparently more than once a month. I knew that I loved restaurants, but I didn’t realize how long my list actually is.

With that said, My seventh featured Restaurant Pick is Lucy’s Cantina Royale:

1 Penn Plaza (34th Street)
(Corner of 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10119
Cuisine: Mexican

I didn’t get to dine at Lucy’s Cantina Royale with the friend who introduced me to the restaurant because the night we decided to dine there, which was a Thursday night, the place was packed and loud. Packed and loud is the way a good bar should be, but we were in the mood for a more serene experience. Regardless, I made sure that I took myself back there.

If you work in the area, Lucy’s Cantina Royale is a great place to take your lunch break, especially in the summertime when their rooftop seating area is open. Although you are surrounded by the city, the rooftop area of the restaurant gives you the feeling that you are dining on the beach.

The lower level reminds me of a surf shop with a beachy bar, which also adds to the feel that you are at the beach and not smack in the middle of the city. There is also an outdoor seating area at the back of the restaurant, but I haven’t been seated there yet.

The restaurant reminds me of the Saved by the Bell summer series where Leah Remini was Zack’s love interest and the cast was working at the Malibu Beach Club, which is totally beside the point, but it gives you an idea of the feel of the restaurant.

The waitresses’ uniforms are quite attractive. All waitresses are wearing short, blue halter dresses, with white Hawaiian flowers printed on the fabric, a red belt and tan cowboy boots. I love their uniform and I’m sure men do too.

I haven’t been here too often, but from the menu I’ve only had the Pulled Chicken Tacos served in a Soft, Corn Tortilla with Pico de Gallo and Shredded Lettuce. I have also had the Honey Corn Bread with Jalapeño Butter. Both are very tasty and their meals aren’t expensive at all.

See their menu:

Lucy’s Cantina has a happy hour special everyday from 4pm – 6pm, but happy hour only applies on the main floor, not on the rooftop. I didn’t really love their margarita, but their mojito and sangria were good.

If you have the time, eating lunch at Lucy’s Cantina Royale is a great way to break up your work day. It is also a great way to end your day or nice pretend escape on the weekend if you are able to snag rooftop seating.

Visit their website to view of their menu options.

Enjoy, and until next time, happy eating!

~Louise C.
Photos from Lucy's Cantina

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Supporters

Because of the inappropriateness of some of my stories, I limited who I told about Undies in a Bunch once it was released. I prejudged everyone and came up with a number of words, none of them positive, to determine what certain people would think about me after reading my book; but some of my supporters have come in the most unlikely form.

After being encouraged by some friends who are also my coworkers, I made the decision to cautiously come out of the closet at work. I kept quiet, because I’m not trying to get fired for living this double life, but the most unexpected thing happened. I expect to relate to women of all races, but I didn’t expect for my book to relate to white men at all. Why? Because I am black and I am a woman. But everyone in general has enjoyed my book and has given me great feedback. Hearing the thoughts and feelings that my book has inspired makes me feel wonderful!

Who would think that lil ole’ me is inspirational! But that was the whole point behind everything that was written in Undies in a Bunch. To make others laugh, think, be inspired and encouraged to do whatever it is that makes you tick inside.

Having a man, no matter what color he is, come to me and say, ‘I really like your writing style.’ or ‘I enjoyed your stories, even your poems.’ makes me feel great! My favorite though, is the gentleman who covers his eyes every time he walks past my desk. He says he can’t look me in the eyes anymore after reading my story about um, self… pleasure… I don’t blame him. I don’t want to look him in the eyes either after knowing what he’s read.

People of all kinds giving me good feedback shouldn’t be a surprise to me. I love to read and the one thing that solidifies (for me) that I am a good writer is the fact that I actually enjoy reading what I write. I have a lot of confidence in myself otherwise I wouldn’t have put myself out there for all to read about. So why am I second guessing myself? The support and encouragement I’ve received has been like a much needed slap in the face. The second guessing stops today. There will be supporters and there will be critics. Both come with this territory. Expect both, hope for more of the good than the bad and keep moving forward.

That is my phrase of wisdom to myself for today.

Loving you!!

~Louise C.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Things Beauty and Such - Hand Care

I became religious about hand lotion while I was a freshman in high school. I'd made the mistake of leaving home on a chilly day without packing hand lotion in my backpack and was forced to walk around with stiff, rough, dry hands. The cold weather and the fact that I was my mom’s very own personal dishwasher at the time did not help the condition of my hands. If you don't wear gloves, cleaning products will also harden the skin on the palms of your hands. So after years of cleaning product abuse, I wasn't happy with the near ‘man hand’ feel of my hands; so I went on a mission to make my hands soft and feminine again.

My first step was to have hand lotion on me at all times. At first I would just use any lotion, but then a coworker gave me Crabtree & Evelyn’s La Source Hand Therapy Lotion one Christmas, and along with falling in love with Crabtree & Evelyn, I became a hand lotion snob.

Crabtree & Evelyn’s La Source Hand Therapy is my number one hand lotion. It's not sticky or greasy and the moisture penetrates your skin enough that even after you wash your hands, they aren't as dry. The original, La Source, which has a light, mild scent, is my favorite, but the LaSource might have some competition with the Lavender Hand Therapy. The Gardeners Hand Therapy is also a favorite of mine. They all have the signature scent of the La Source, but the scents are tweaked a little to accommodate each variety.

Some of my other favorite hand lotions are AVON’s Silicone Glove, SSS Soft & Sensual Hand Lotion, which I give out every year as my Christmas party favor; and Bath and Body Work’s Look Ma New Hands.

Another step I took to soften my hands was by using Mary Kay’s Satin Hands. I didn’t expect Mary Kay’s Satin Hands to make a difference, but it did. This set is especially great in the wintertime. It hydrates and exfoliates leaving you with very soft hands.


I bought Method’s Olive Leaf Natural Hand Soap mainly because I liked the soap dispenser, which I kept and refilled. The soap also smelled great and I thought that I would refill the bottle with the other soaps from Method’s Natural Selections, but by the time I went looking for it, it had been discontinued and is only available in the UK. So I refilled the bottle with Krasdale’s dishwashing liquid thinking that soap is soap, but you get what you pay for. Krasdale’s dishwashing liquid just dried out my hands. Once that finished, I bought Target’s Milk and Honey Hand Soap. (LOVE!!) I asked my mom to buy me a 64oz bottle for Christmas. Don’t judge me, I’m easy to please. It smells just like the Soft Soap's Milk and Honey hand soap, but you get more for your money with the Target brand. And as I said in my Body Lotion Blog, I keep Bath and Body Work’s Aromatherapy Sleep Lavender Vanilla Hand Soap on my bathroom sink.

I didn’t think it was possible, but rough, dry hands can be repaired. I don’t think I’ll ever achieve that pillowy softness of hands that were just meant to be soft, but along with my devotion to hand lotion and Satin Hand Pampering, I no longer consider my hands ‘man hands’.

~Louise C.