AFROPUNK BROOKLYN Announces Their 2016 Line-Up, & It’s Great!

Living in a time where there is conflict in the idea of being young, gifted, and Black, the AFROPUNK festival celebrates all of these things, and the people who are often labeled as other. I have been a longtime supporter of the movement, having attended my first fest back in 2007 when they had set up shop in the little skate park in the triangle outside of BAM (RIP as a new high-rise is currently being built in that space).

Last summer, I had the opportunity to go back after a few years, and it was nothing short of magical. Never have I been in a space filled with so much love, acceptance, and happiness, a safe space for the young, gifted, Black other. Today, the summer 2016 lineup was announced for Brooklyn, and boy does it deliver. Peep the video re-capping bits of last year’s jaunt, and check the full lineup below. I have put stars next to my favorites. Will I be seeing you there?

Ice Cube
TV On The Radio
Tyler The Creator*
CeeLo Green
Flying Lotus*
Janelle Monae*
The Internet*

Featuring Members from
Bad Brains
Living Colour

George Clinton*
Earl Sweatshirt*
Skunk Anansie
Skye & Ross from Morcheeba
Young Fathers
Benjamin Booker
Saul Williams*
Angel Haze*
Trash Talk
Shabazz Palaces*
Seinabo Sey
The Suffers*
Sir The Baptist
Downtown Boys
Roman GianArthur
Joe Kay*
The Whooligan
Eden Hagos

AFROPUNK BROOKLYN will be held at Commodore Barry Park on August 27-28. Tickets may be purchased here. Act soon before prices rise!

A Life In the Day of Andrea Turns 5! A Photo Reflection.

You read that right. On this day in 2011, I published my first post ever on this here blog. I truly had no idea what I was doing at that time, just the fact that I was in the know when it came to happenings around NYC and abroad, that were usually fueled by my intense love for music. Honestly, I still don’t have it all together. In these years, my blog has had a multipurpose function, to share my personal thoughts and happenings in my life, and to introduce you to new things and interesting people. Because I care so much about what I do decide to cover or write about here, the blog has also served as a portfolio of sorts, helping me snag writing, social media, and event gigs with brands and people that I do admire.

April 2013. Photo: Ernest Estimé

The past five years of my life have not been that peachy, as in this time I have dealt with a ton of personal loss in the form of death of family members and friends, loss of stable jobs, and the loss of relationships. I don’t say this for you to take pity on me, but to peel back a layer on the actual life of the creator behind the blog. I have written on many accounts of my struggles with depression, sadness, and anxiety, and I thank each and every one of you who took the time to read, give advice, and wish me well. It is incredibly difficult to keep up with everything that is happening in your city when you are not the happiest with yourself. I have toyed with the idea of shutting A Life In The Day of Andrea numerous times as I started to drown in events and content.

Fab 5 Freddy posing in front one of his works

Fab 5 Freddy, 2013. Photo by me.

When I look back, it is very easy to feel a bit disappointed as I haven’t amassed tens of thousands of followers on social media to show brands and important people that I am worthy to work with. I did not start this platform to find fame, but to share my world. Having the opportunity to work with interesting people over the years has just been a bonus. With all that being said, I will not shut the site down, but fine tune my content to really be an extension of my life. Photography is a huge part of my expression, so I will get back to posting photos I have taken, and cool shoots I collaborate with friends on.

Caye Caulker, Belize 2014. Photo by me.

With that said, here are a few of my favorite images that I have taken, or were taken of me over the years. I hope you enjoy!

Alexandra Ferguson pillows, Gluk wine glass coaster, High Heel wine coaster, NEO (neoprene pillow)

Lifestyle shoot at Harlem Flo, 2012. Photo: Creative Jenius Agency

Coco O. dazzling the crowd with her sultry vocals.

Coco O. of Quadron, 2013. Photo by me.

Borbay on left and author Zack O'Malley Greenburg.

Borbay & Zack O’Malley Greenburg, 2014. Photo by me.


Moeima, 2012. Photo by me.

Picture in picture, 2015. Photo by Kermit Mercado.

#COZYGirls Shoot with jeffstashbox


It has been a bit of time since I have updated the magical world of Andrea, and rightfully so. Things have been a bit hectic (in a good way) so now that I am back, let me reemerge from the shadows with some hot shit. In the past few months I truly have been building up my freelance game in writing, editing, event & video production, and creative endeavors as a whole.

I have been, and am currently being approached by my fellow creatives to be interviewed and or photographed for their individual projects, which I love because it is all about COMMUNITY! With that being said, I wanted to share some super dope images from my latest shoot with jeffstashbox.

Posted up, on the move

Jeff has an amazing photo series called #COZYGirls, which celebrates women of color dressed in their favorite cozy/athleisure looks. I have been following the series for some time now, and I enjoy the fact that he is highlighting girls like us, in a society where women of color are often sexualized for our bodies, scantily clad and painted to be overly dramatic. I jumped at the opportunity to shoot with him, and the proof is the pudding. He provided a Staple Pigeon sweatshirt for me to wear, which was totally on-brand as the colors perfectly represent my fuchsia/white/black branding.

Getting more comfortable

Shot in the East Village outside of Good Records NYC, it was almost serendipitous that it came out this way. I am a huge audiophile, love shades of pink, and it was quite the coincidence that the location was on East 5th Street, the same street I live on in Brooklyn.

Sitting on the stoop

Shooting with Jeff was super organic because I did not really have to pose, but just be myself. I admit I am a bit of a dork when it comes to photoshoots, and my face shows it sometimes. I didn’t think too hard, and just went with the flow.

My mid SB Dunks

To achieve maximum coziness, I brought out my Nike Sportswear joggers that I purchased in Toronto after my Nike Women’s 15K race, my near vintage (2007) SB Dunks, and my black jacquard jacket from Stylemint.

Rapper Pose

For Brooklyn, I ended with a rapper pose/jail shot for authenticity purposes. I had an awesome time, and I hope you enjoy the photos! Many thanks to Jeff for considering me, and dealing with my fake diva demands when I got cold.😀


*Photography by jeffstashbox

Walks Of New York Delights Foodies With The Official Mario Batali™ Greenwich Village Food Tour

Are you a lover of Italian food? Do you love to explore local gems? Do you live in, or will be visiting New York City soon? If you have answered yes to all of  the previous questions, I have got a treat for you. Walks of New York, the walking tour company that helps New Yorkers and tourists alike discover the varied history and culture of the city, has recently launched the Official Mario Batali™ Greenwich Village Food Tour.

I was invited to take the tour myself from the company, and of course, jumped at the opportunity. I have long been a fan of Batali’s work and authentic approach to food, so I was excited to take the tour to discover more about his food and the home to his restaurants, the Greenwich Village.

Washington Square Park arch

The meeting point for my morning tour was right under the arch of Washington Square Park. It was there on that sun-filled morning that I met Simona, my incredible guide for the tour. Originally from Rome and living in New York City for a few years now, Simona was very well-versed in all Italian cuisine from a historical context right up to the present.

I got some insight on the neighborhood of Greenwich Village, and its history as a stomping ground for Italian immigrants. We took a bit of a walk through time, and I am here to share all of my stops with you.

Special menu for Walks of New York

Our first stop on the tour was Batali’s famed pizzeria, Otto. Nestled on the unassuming 8th Street right off of Fifth Ave, the restaurant opened a little earlier especially for us. Upon arrival, we took a seat by a bright window, and had a little tasting of some of the menu offerings.

A glimpse of the offerings

I nibbled on various cheeses, a fresh arugula and cherry tomato salad, sliced salami, perfectly cooked lentils, stewed apricots with chili flakes, and a bruschetta unlike any other. It was really amazing to get schooled on cheese by Simona, and why different varieties get their specific taste. Along with the nibbles  and brick-oven pizzas, Otto has an extensive wine list and education program.

Florence Prime Meat Market from curbside

Our next stop on the walking tour was Florence Prime Meat Market. The old-school butcher shop has been providing the best cuts of meat to the community since 1936. Once inside it feels like you are transported to yesteryear through black and white photos, and some original signage.

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Video: Warby Parker + AKC #FallSyllabus Shoot, Captured by Kermit Mercado

So if you have been keeping up, just recently I shared my Warby Parker #FallSyllabus shoot. You may have thought that was the last of it, but no, we have a special treat! My partner in creativity Kermit (who is an incredible videographer alongside being an awesome photographer) suggested we do a bit of a behind-the-scenes video with his top notch equipment. I was down for the cause, of course, and you can see the magic above once you press play!

Many thanks again to the team at Warby Parker for inviting me to be involved in this blogger campaign, Mika for making my hair and makeup look on-point, and to Kermit for capturing it all. Watch and share.:)

Saturday Sounds: MeLo-X “Curate” EP

It has been a minute and a half since I posted a “Saturday Sounds”, but sometimes you have to wait for the perfect moment, which is now. My buddy, multi-media artist, musician, and producer MeLo-X released new audio heat this week in his EP Curate. The six-song offering is perfect for the fall, comprised of synth heavy production with vocal complexity, and warmth. Features include the likes of Little Simz, Raury, and Kilo Kish.

In addition to the music, Melo released an accompanying interactive app which pairs each song with a 3D geometric figure. When hovering over the figure, you can distort the sound of each track, perfect for the audiophiles! Get into it.

Lookbook: Warby Parker #FallSyllabus Lifestyle Shoot, Captured by Kermit Mercado

When you think of “fall”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the changing color of leaves? Pumpkins and apples? For me, fall will always encompass the notion of back-to-school and new beginnings. Whether it be starting a new course or job, fall to me will always signify positive change. Breaking out cool sweaters and specs is an added plus!

I was super excited to receive a message recently from the team at Warby Parker stating that they wanted this girl from Brooklyn to create a fall-themed lifestyle shoot with their eyewear. They handpicked a number of bloggers to capture what #FallSyllabus means to them. As I am forever a nerd in search of knowledge, I created a mood that is reminiscent of college, and the interpretation of my favorite people on campus.

Scroll on to see what I created with fresh Warby Parker frames, and copious amounts of layered knits!

The Librarian

When we think of a librarian, it usually skews one of two places; sexy librarian or mean librarian. I wanted to capture a somewhat hip librarian. She is draped in smart designer threads with a pen in hand, reading a book on Brooklyn maker culture. She is a great resource, and definitely knows what’s up.

Winston Eyeglasses | Ralph Lauren Dress | Ralph Lauren Shawl Collar Sweater

The Off-Duty Athlete
As a former student athlete, track & field to be specific, I can never resist the ultimate coziness of a good sweatshirt. Here we see the off-duty athlete. She layers her sweatshirt under her varsity jacket and pairs with a pair of jeans and Chucks because she is all about easy dressing.

Keene Eyeglasses | Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren Sweatshirt & Jacket | Stylemint Jeans | Converse Chuck Taylors

The Photographer

Here to capture moments is the photographer. In school, photography was really recreational for me, capturing photos of friends at parties, as well as nature around me, I have since transitioned to that of a professional. Here, our photographer dresses really smart, a bit high brow if you will with her suede pants and vintage pieces, but her eye is always in search of her next subject.

Caspar Eyeglasses | Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt | Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren Teddy Bear Sweater | Vintage Camera Case | Ralph Lauren Suede Trousers | Converse Chuck Taylors

The Professor

At some point in your life, you’ve had a crush on a teacher or professor, right? Don’t lie! I wanted to capture the “highly favored” professor if you will. Maybe she is a bit daring, exposing leg in the cooler weather, but you must applaud the effort she puts into dressing. The eyeglass and briefcase is just so smart, don’t you think?

Percey Eyeglasses | Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt | Polo Ralph Lauren Mock Collar Teddy Bear Sweater | +J Uniqlo Wool Skirt | Cole Haan Heeled Oxfords

I really want to thank the folks at Warby Parker for inviting me to partake in this opportunity. Many thanks to my awesome team of Kermit, Mika, and big bro Q for the vintage pieces.Do these looks remind you of fall? Would you rock the specs?

Photography: Kermit Mercado
Hair & Make-up: Mika
Styling: Andrea K. Castillo
Wardrobe: Personal collection of Andrea K. Castillo & Q

MANday Interview: M. Tony Peralta Has A Fresh Take On Latina Icons With “Rolos & Icons”

M. Tony Peralta and his work, “Dora Con Rolos”

*Originally published on Slant News

It’s an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon for October and I am making my way to Manhattan’s Lower East Side to chat with artist M. Tony Peralta. His newest exhibition, Rolos & Icons had opened the night prior to a packed house of family, friends, and supporters. This was the first time he had ever held an opening downtown, and the incredible turnout was a feat in itself.

I had been following the works of the Dominican-American artist by way of Washington Heights for a few years now as we have many mutual friends who’ve invited me to his events in the past. I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of his Latin roots, hip-hop and pop culture elements that were consistent through his works.

I sat down with Tony to talk to him further about his career thus far, Rolos & Icons, and the inspirations behind his work.

I have been following your career for a number of years and I have noticed that there has been a strong female presence throughout. Why is it important for you to showcase women of color in your artwork?

The first exhibit I did, Complejo, had to do with identity issues. Mainly being Black and Latino, and the identity issues we have growing up and the effects of it. I started to think about some of the things that women go through as well; the whole good hair/bad hair thing, which I went through myself, as a man. I had curly hair and would shave it off. For women, it’s a little more extreme because they have to go to the hair salon, and get their hair straightened, and relaxers, etc. I grew up with a single mom and an older sister, and a younger sister, and our bathroom was filled with their products.

Growing up with a single mom that was a very strong figure, along with my sisters and brother, I had a good balance. My mom was very influential. I don’t think it’s something that I do consciously. I grew up with low self-esteem, so I touched upon things that affected me [with the Complejo exhibit] but then I started to think about how it affects women as well because they deal with it more, whether it be a hair [texture] thing or skin lightening, if it’s body issues. There was a piece in the exhibit of a woman in hair rollers, and that woman almost became a Latin Mona Lisa. She had a certain gaze that people thought was beautiful, and I feel that it influenced other artists to start creating works with women in hair rollers as well.

A glimpse into “Rolos Con Icons”

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Gogobot Celebrates Five Years With A Special Lunch-Break Field Trip For Adults in NYC

Gogobot CEO, Travis Katz

You are at the age now that you have accepted the fact that you are indeed, an adult. You have your time every now to revert to childhood pleasantries, but when can you say is the last time you’ve been on a field trip?  Popular travel/discovery app Gogobot wanted to recreate this feeling with a special field trip for adults, in celebration of the company’s five-year anniversary. The mission? Invite NYC-based writers and editors our for a lunch-break field trip, to help them rediscover their city, one location at a time.

Hosted by Gogobot founder Travis Katz, our group was chauffeured around in a swanky tour bus provided by The Ride NYCa unique tour bus that has a full side window that passengers face to see the city around them.

My crispy fish taco

While on the bus, we were fed by Camion NYC, a local Mexican food truck with every taco you could ever want. As there were many to choose from, I went for chicken tacos, and the crispy fish taco, which you can see in the photo above. I must say the fish taco was next level! The crispiness paired with the crispness of the radish and cilantro, blended beautifully with the avocado-based sauce. Sooooo good!

Sweethaus founder Tara Koenig

Our group met the bus in Union Square, and once we were off, our first stop was back home in Brooklyn. We drove to Williamsburg to visit Sweethaus; a unique vintage-styled bakeshop/diner concept that was founded in Charlottesville, Virginia. The co-founder, Tara Koenig, greeted us with homemade pumpkin spice lattes in these super cute mini mugs. She gave us a little insight on the location, which is their first in Brooklyn, and the second outside of their main location in Virginia. The Brooklyn location is different in the fact that it serves food like a diner, outside of all their dessert offerings.

We were also treated to their signature mini-cupcakes and a goodie bag of hard-to-find vintage candies. A great spot for the entire family, or those that have a massive sweet tooth.

Learning about Streb

Next up on our tour was Streb, part trapeze & extreme dance school, part performance space. Founded in 1985 by choreographer Elizabeth Streb, her mission for the company since its inception has been to test the limits of the human body. The school utilizes elements of dance, trapeze arts, and gymnastics in its programs. Classes are available for all age groups, and performances are held throughout the year on-site, as well as at various locations.

Taking a sip at Brooklyn Winery

Just a few blocks away from Streb was our next stop, and one that I was really looking forward to, Brooklyn Winery. You may be thinking, “a winery, in Brooklyn?”, and I would answer you with a roaring yes! Upon entering the gorgeous dining area, complete with reclaimed wood furnishing and minimal lighting, we were greeted by a counter full of glasses of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma. It was here that co-founder Brian Leventhal came out to welcome us, and give us some background on the winery.

The winemaking process

From the dining area, we were taken to where all the magic happens, and were able to see the full process in which their wines are made. Given our location, all of their grapes are transported from the West Coast, but they are fermented in vats in the winery, and all are bottled on site. Won’t lie, I kind of geeked out when I saw all of these grapes. It’s almost unreal.

The goods at Modern Pinball

After leaving the winery, we hopped back on the bus to swing back into Manhattan to visit Modern Pinball on the East Side. A few blocks from our destination at a stop light, we were treated to a special rap performance from a local performer street side. The Ride employs tons of local musicians and performers for pop-up entertainment along your bus tour route.

Upon entering Modern Pinball, it almost felt like I was transported to the past, like I was in Pinball Wizard! The concept is unique as you purchase a wristband for a certain amount of time to enjoy unlimited pinball, as opposed to paying for each game individually. I can’t say I am a pinball aficionado by any means, but the selection of vintage and new machines alike is a treat. A great spot to bring the entire family during a holiday.

I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the Gogobot field trip for adults. I was able to visit a bunch of unique NYC locations that I had not experienced prior, which is always a treat. It’s always a pleasure to discover local gems, and I will continue to do so with the Gogobot app. Happy exploring!


*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

MANday Exclusive: Stephen Andrews of Earls Kitchen + Bar Talks New Location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Fave Dishes, & More!

Earls Brunch Croquette

In a time where restaurants close as soon as they open, how does one find the secret formula? It seems like the chain Earls Kitchen + Bar has figured it out. Founded in Canada in 1982, Earls Kitchen + Bar was created with the goal of becoming “The Most loved and Best Run restaurant in North America”. The franchise now has 59 restaurants in Canada, and 7 in the United States; its latest opening being in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.

We had the opportunity to pick the brain of Stephen Andrews, Chief Development Officer and Vice President, who is driving International Growth for Earls Restaurants through world-class Real Estate Development.

Stephen Andrews, Chief Development Officer & VP of Earls Restaurants

Coming from a senior position at Darden Restaurants, what about Earls enticed you to make the move in particular?

Earls is a restaurant company with scale but without the predictable monotony of a chain. We work really hard to create a collection of innovative and individually compelling restaurants, so the design freedom is intoxicating. Then, seeing the design and personality of each individual restaurant come to life is positively addictive.

Earls Kitchen currently boasts 66 locations across the US and Canada. If you had to choose, what would be your top three locations and why?

Aside from Lincoln Park:

1) King Street in Downtown Toronto for its fantastic energy and patio right in the heart of the financial district.

2) Tysons Corner, VA. Located in Macerich’s jewel project, this location is absolutely breathtaking with panoramic views sitting on the center’s elevated 40,000 square foot landscape plaza.

3) The third is a toss-up between Dadeland in Miami for its spectacular cantilevered patio complete with tropical breezes and one that is still on the drawing boards — the Prudential Center in downtown Boston. Earls Prudential is currently in the design phase and will feature an spectacular 3400 square foot roof-top patio complete with an exterior bar right in the heart of it all and just an eight minute walk from Fenway.

What are some of your favorite items from the kitchen and bar menus?

The bold flavors of the Korean Bibimbap with its crispy rice never fails to impress me, but I am also a huge fan of the authentic Jeera Chicken Curry with coconut jasmine rice. When I am feeling more traditional, there is nothing quite like a Creekstone Farms antibiotic and hormone free New York Strip Steak to fit the bill. I try to leave without dessert, but the Sticky Toffee Chocolate Pudding (it’s actually a caramel and ice cream covered cake) somehow usual finds its way onto my table.

Rendering of Earls Lincoln Park

Tell us, what do you find most unique about the new Lincoln Park location in Chicago?

To be able to deliver a great indoor/outdoor restaurant and patio in an urban location is challenging. At Lincoln Park, we are able to deliver the good– such as open views, open facades and a spectacular patio without the bad– street noise, cars and fumes. The restaurant will be a perfect oasis woven into an urban fabric.

What do you find is most rewarding part of having a career in the real estate development sector of the restaurant business?

Restaurants are very complex creatures — part entertainment, part utility, part social, but they are always experiential from the guest’s perspective. The ability to help create a fantastic guest experience through real estate, architecture, and design is just plain thrilling.

Photo Credit: Earls Kitchen + Bar

Goodness Knows Snack Squares Launches In NYC w/ Goodness Market, Hosted by Whitney Port

Goodness Knows spokesperson, Whitney Port, greeting guests

When you think of the word “goodness”, what are the first things that come to mind? Do you think of doing good on to others? Eating good? Feeling good? Or is a combination of all of the above? The folks at Goodness Knows used this concept to create a one of a kind Goodness Market in late October for New York City lifestyle writers and editors, to introduce their snack squares to the market.

Gabby Bernstein chatting with guests

Hosted by fashion designer Whitney Portthe space was segmented into four main kiosk sections: Good Vibes, Good Strength, Good Food, and Good Work, where attendees could “shop” with their provided tote bag. The Good Vibes kiosk, hosted by lifestyle guru Gabby Bernstein, was a space to tune into positive actions and mindfulness. We were able to shop for a candle, essential oils to unwind, a journal, and box to rid away all of our negative thoughts.

Testing out resistance bands with Adam

At Good Strength, fitness & nutrition coach Adam Rosante gave us a great pep talk on strength and how we can maximize it in our everyday lives. Whether it be something as small as using a resistance band at your desk to improve posture, or lifting weights to build overall core strength, Adam had awesome advice and demos, as you can see in the photo above. We were able to walk away with our own resistance band, jump rope, yoga tune up balls (massage balls similar to a tennis ball), and a gift card to, where you are able to choose a charitable cause to donate your gift to.

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Champagne Taittinger Previews Valentine’s Day With #UncageMyHeart

Champagne Taittinger portfolio

When you are smack dead in the middle of the autumn season, do you ever think ahead to say, Valentine’s Day? You may not, but for the house of Champagne Taittinger and a few select members of the media in NYC, Valentine’s Day came early this year. To preview their full portfolio of sparkling wines and food & dessert pairings, Champagne Taittinger held a special press day devoted to love in a gorgeous TriBeCa loft entitled “Uncage My Heart”.

Guided champagne tasting

Hosted by Vitalie Taittinger, Global Ambassador and Artistic Director of Champagne Taittinger (one of the last family-owned & operated Grand Marque Champagne houses in France), the event served as a platform for both friends and lovers to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It was broken up into three segments, the “bubble bash” which featured entertaining ideas for a group of friends, the “first date”, and “lasting love” for those that have been in a relationship for a number of years.

I started off my time with a guided tasting of the Taittinger sparkling wine portfolio, held by Vitalie Taittinger and sommelier Heidi Turzyn of Gotham Bar and Grill. We tasted five wines, starting with Taittinger Brut La Française, the house’s most popular champagne, and ending with Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2005, the house’s most exclusive blend. It was really great to hear insight from these two women regarding the characteristics of each wine, their age, and the general demographic for each variety.

Dessert pairings

Once out of my session, I was welcomed into the gorgeous dining room area you see in the photo above to try out some desserts. Each section of the table was labeled with the name of the treat on the plate, and paired with Comtes de Champagne Rosé. It was here that I really grew a liking to this particular rosé. Do I have expensive taste? Possibly.

Dinner & hors d’oeuvres pairings

The food of the evening was prepared by Chef Camille Becerra of Navy in SoHo. We were treated to a smorgasbord of delectable small bites, including liver mouse with chocolate cocoa nibs, lettuce hearts with gentleman’s relish, spiced steak, and chocolate mousse.

I stood attentively for the chocolate mousse demo, and believe I am capable of making it on my own. Very helpful that all guests received a little guidebook with recipes included.

Listening to more on the champagne

Post dinner bites, we were treated to a tasting of Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus, a rare blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. The creaminess of this variety is perfect for post-dinner, and pairs well with dessert. The Taittinger team also suggests this bottle for a first date. Sure to impress!

Champagne tower

I circled back to the “Bubble Bash” section to end my evening. This portion of the event was focused on gift-giving amongst friends (candles, games, etc) and an informal bar set-up and photo booth area to attract singles. It was here that I discovered my favorite champagne out of all, the Nocturne, seen being poured in the photo above.

Aside from the bottle looking like a gorgeous purple disco ball, the flavor was right up my alley; not to dry, not too sweet, with the perfect amount of bottles. I look forward to celebrating with a bottle of Nocturne soon. Will you be drinking Champagne Taittinger this coming Valentine’s Day?


*Photos courtesy of Champagne Taittinger/Creative Feed

Painting With A Twist Pairs Art With A Glass of Wine In Its New Brooklyn Outpost

As a creative, I am naturally drawn to experiences where I can make something with my hands, or learn a new skill. But how about if you are not so creative, and still want to be able to creative something beautiful, say, with a group of buddies? You should get into Painting With A Twist.

Founded in 2007 by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney in New Orleans in the wake of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Painting With A Twist had the mission of lifting the spirits of their neighbors after disaster. In the eight years that the company has been in business, they have grown their paint-and-sip franchise to over 240 locations in 33 states, with 100 additional openings by the end of 2015.

I was invited out for a special blogger’s night at one of their new locations in my neck of the woods in Brooklyn.

The ambience

Opened in September by sisters-in-law Suzette and Felicia Riley, Painting With A Twist of Brooklyn is located in the heart of Cobble Hill on bustling Smith St. Upon entering the bright space, albeit a few minutes later than I expected, I was greeted by warm faces, a spread of dinner options, and of course, the choice of white or red wine. I had arrived just in time to take my seat in front of a blank 16 x 20″ canvas, with a small array of paints and brushes to use within the lesson.

The beginnings of my masterpiece

Our instructor was super lively and approachable, ensuring that painters of all levels would be able to complete the evening’s assignment which coincidentally, was of a large glass of red wine. The first step was to cover the canvas in a golden tone and add a few red strokes. As I am a type-A personality (which our instructor caught on to rather quickly) I reeaaaallyyy took painting seriously. My father is a painter and I would help paint certain pieces of his work when I was a child, so this was important!

The final product

Although I may have taken painting a bit more seriously than some of my counterparts in class, I truly realized how relaxing and therapeutic it can be. To constantly be on the move, writing, and updating on social media, it was really nice to focus on one thing for a little over an hour.

My painting and I

You must excuse my sleepy/greasy face in the photo as I was running on E, but I must say, I am really proud of this piece. I hadn’t painted on canvas in maybe 15 years, so this moment was really satisfying to me. I took a little longer than the class, but I completed my work; which is most important.

The entire group and their masterpieces

It was really fun to be in a group, majority women, to unwind, paint, and really take a break from the outside world. The experience is excellent for a date night, a girl’s night, birthday party, or even for a group of children as they offer a range of classes. You may view them all here.

The evening ended with a few special raffles, and guess who won a gift certificate for a free class? This girl right here! Can’t wait to go back. Maybe I will see you there.

Painting With A Twist – Brooklyn
228 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231


*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

What I’m Reading: “The Kindness Diaries” by Leon Logothetis

When writing is how you make a living (for the most part), sometimes it is quite difficult to take a step back and read a full book from cover to cover. I have expressed in previous posts in the past few months that I have been experiencing the ups and downs of life, regarding direction of my career, family, and love life. I believe that is what the age 29 brings, a lot more WTF moments before the EUREKA!

Always looking for inspiration around me, I finally decided to pick up and read The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothetis, that I was gifted from the author/publisher. I read the short reviews in the inside cover, along with the synopsis and thought, “this idea, of a middle-aged white man traveling the world on ‘kindness’ alone sounds a bit far-fetched”. Despite my initial reluctance, I decided to read the book anyway.

I was admittedly feeling a bit down and figured a story of kindness could possibly brighten my day. I turned the pages and was welcomed by Logothetis’ conversational tone; it felt like I was reading the tale of a friend I had known for years. We get the background of what brought him to deciding to travel around the world on a yellow motorbike without money and the will of surviving on the kindness of the people he met around the way to survive. Having been unfulfilled in his career as a stockbroker in his native London, Logothetis begins his story setting out to the bright lights of Los Angeles to get his foot in the television industry.

As time passes, he notices that he has become a bit jaded in his L.A. life, and sees the signs around him that point to going outward, to bring love and kindness inward. Logothetis sets out on his yellow motorbike, affectionately named Kindness One from L.A., leaving his girlfriend and dog behind to circumnavigate the globe on kindness alone. No money, food, accommodations, gas money; nothing but a small bag of clothes and a laptop to check in with family back home. The only catch here, which is a good catch, is that Logothetis would promise to pay back each person that helped him, with a meaningful gift.

Reading his detailed accounts of human interaction worried me a bit; would people believe his story and help? Would he really pay back those that gave him food and shelter as they struggled to feed themselves? These were my questions throughout, that were silenced through reading further. I do not want to give the entire account away, but in reading Logothetis’ tale, I was truly in awe with humanity, mainly the kindness he received simply by asking for it, in a genuine way. It really opened my eyes as I know it is hard for me to ask for help at times, to think that he traveled the world solo without any money and was cared for along the way is astounding!

If you need to take a step back, and be reminded of the kindness in humanity, I would definitely recommend reading this book. The Kindness Diaries is available for purchase now on Amazon.

#NYFW Tales: Mathieu Mirano SS16 Brings Wearable Glamour in Living Color

The full collection. Photo: Jennifer Daniels

Although still fairly new to the fashion scene, launching his eponymous line in 2011, Mathieu Mirano brings a certain sophistication to womenswear that is wise beyond his years. I had the pleasure of attending his Spring/Summer 2016 collection presentation with my friend/former model/supermodel-in the-making Jen.

The backdrop of Pier 59 Studios offered a blank slate where Mirano’s evening wear could shine. The collection was filled with an array of saturated hues in intricate fabrications and trims.

A peek through the crowd. Photo: Jennifer Daniels

Ombre panne velvet. Specially treated sequins. Extensive hand embroidery done by local New York artisans; this was all on display. I was particularly captivated by the textiles used because in all of my years as a designer and fashion writer/editor I had never seen such textiles, and that was quite exciting to me. I found it quite interesting that materials so delicate translated to very chic evening wear that did not come off as garish or matronly.

Sequins meets chiffon. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

Upon first glance all of the looks appeared to be gowns, but I was told soon after that there were also separates on display. What a brilliant idea! Mirano aims to create garments for multifaceted women, so in regards to separates, you can wear them as a “dress” or pair with a t-shirt or jeans. Versatility is key here, and it is done so beautifully.

Many thanks to Umindi & Glenny at UFCG for having me!❤