#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Jammin On A Catamaran Atop Crystal Blue Waters

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Sail

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my last post, we explored the natural wonder of Barbados’ Harrison’s Cave, and in this final edition, we are back on the water having some good old fashioned island fun. I am always up for hopping on a boat and taking a little trip on the waters, so when Lauren mentioned that there was a catamaran day trip, I was on it. In a similar fashion as Harrison’s Cave, we signed up for the Jammin Catamaran Cruise via our hotel activities desk, and placed our deposit. We chose the Sun Blast Cruise, with a length of 5 1/2 hours starting at 9AM, serving breakfast, lunch, unlimited rum punch, and proper Caribbean tunes.

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Close-Up

On the morning of our trip, a van greeted us at our hotel and picked up other guests along the way until we reached the dock of the catamaran. Once out of our shuttle, we paid the remainder of our package in the company’s office on the dock, and were then set to board our home for the next 5 1/2 hours, the 63 ft Jammin catamaran. The girls and I immediately found our spot on top of the net, and placed our things down for maximum sun exposure. We applied our sunscreen and proceeded to have a light breakfast of a muffin and some juice.

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Hills are Alive

I love the sea and ocean immensely, so to be sitting on top of the catamaran with the deep blue water in perfect view was icing on the cake. We made a few stops along the way. Our first stop was snorkeling with the turtles. Unfortunately on our day, the turtles were not out in plain view, but we were guided to sites of shipwrecks in the area which was awesome to see. I kicked myself as I did not bring my GoPro to capture the underwater moments, but seeing with my bare eyes was probably more special.

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Exploring Harrison’s Cave

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Coconut tree at the grounds of Harrison’s Cave

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my last post, I introduced you to the beautiful Rockley Beach, and shared some lovely photos romping around the seashore. I love the beach immensely, but aside from R & R, what is a vacation without a little adventure? Travel without adventure is something that I do not do. It is so exhilarating to experience natural wonders in various locales, even if it involves getting a little dirty or wet in the process.

On day three of our trip, we ventured to Harrison’s Cave.  Named after Thomas Harrison who was a prominent landowner in the area in the early 1700s, the cave is a limestone underground live formation in St. Thomas Parish in the heart of Barbados. I am fascinated by the natural design and history of caves, so I was really excited to partake.

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Spiky ting

We had booked our outing in advance via our hotel front desk, and were all set to go with a tour guide on that bright Saturday morning. We met our van out front of our hotel at minutes after 8 AM, joined by a few other tourists, mainly families. We took an approximately 30-minute drive out to the site of Harrison’s Cave, all whilst getting a little local history of the nation of Barbados from our driver and tour guide.

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: My Beach Is Better. Rockley Beach Is Better.

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A gorgeous view of Rockley Beach

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my first chapter, I gave you the lowdown on my travel experience, and first day on the island. Story time continues. So it’s day two and I woke up hungover and a bit ruffled. I get myself together and head down with Lauren and LeAndra to breakfast. I sit at the table slightly mute because I feel horrible. The breakfast options were only of the American sort (eggs, bacon, hash browns), most options a little too greasy for my liking. I decide to have ginger tea and ginger ale as it is a cure-all, and it definitely worked. I stormed out the restaurant to the nearest restroom to throw up. I felt super weak, so I decided to go back to the room, hydrate, nap, and get better.

After a little bit of time, Lauren and LeAndra came back to find me hiding under the covers because I didn’t know how to adjust the AC (I laugh at this now because I realized the remote was right next to me the whole time). They said they wanted to go to the beach, to which I obliged. I felt a little better, and if I know anything about myself, I knew the sun, sand, and sea would make me feel better. I drank more water, changed into a new cheeky bathing suit for maximum tanning exposure, lathered on my sunscreen, and got my things together to head to the beach.

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Stepping out

Accra Beach Hotel is situated right on Rockley Beach in the Christ Church district of Barbados, so we literally had to walk a few steps to experience paradise. Let me tell you this, Rockley Beach was one of the most beautiful, clean sand, and clear water beaches I have ever experienced in my life. The beach is on the south coast of the island on the Caribbean Sea, offering calm turquoise waters. I was like a kid in a candy store, letting the sand sink between my toes, rushing in and out of the water. The current did get a bit strong at points, but nothing to worry about. There was hardly any rocks or seaweed, so it was easy to play around in the water barefoot without the worry of stubbing or scratching a toe.

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Tying the hair up

Whilst playing around in the water, we saw swimmers of all ages around, and a few folks on boogie boards and surf boards. The waves were a good size for the surfers as not far from Rockley, the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea merge. Because of this, I can say that my bathing suit shifted a bunch of times, but I was in the water, so no flashing!

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Shout Out to CARICOM & Rum Punch!

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The view of Rockley Beach from Accra. Photo: Accra Beach Hotel

Travel for me serves so many purposes. For one, it is to get away, to break the monotony that can be everyday life in NYC. On the other hand, it can be a search for what is the same, for what feels familiar, and like home. In the beginning of December, I went on a tropical escape to Barbados with my cousin Lauren for her 30th birthday along with her lifelong friend LeAndra. I was extremely excited to go Barbados, as I had never been, and it was my first Caribbean (CARICOM) nation outside of Belize that I visited. I usually do a lot of research for new travel destinations, but I knew Lauren had it handled as she consulted co-workers and friends of Barbadian/Bajan descent. It was different for me, and a bit of travel anxiety lifted from my plate as I did not have to plan our trip day-to-day.

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A cool view of Lagoon Bar. Photo: Accra Beach Hotel

We had a non-stop Jet Blue flight from JFK to Bridgetown, the capital of the country, and arrived in the early afternoon. Barbados is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST), so we were an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). Upon landing and walking down the stairs to the ground with the sun beaming on my face, I immediately felt at home. The airport was small and reminiscent of Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City, and I was so excited to flash my Belize passport on arrival. Belize and Barbados are members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, and with a CARICOM passport, travelers are able to wait on a shorter line and stay for longer periods of time in Caribbean nations sans visa.

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LeAndra & I being proper millennials, Instagramming our food

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Lookbook: Just Kicking It With Wear It To Heart Holiday ’17, Captured By Kermit Mercado

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Oh, hello there!

For those of you that have been following my musings on this here blog, you know that I am big into fitness. Even when I am not breaking a sweat, I gravitate to active options, whether they be a fly pair of running sneakers, cool leggings, or a cozy hoodie, as I truly value the intersection of comfort and function. When the wonderful team at Wear It To Heart reached out to ask if I would be interested in collaborating to showcase some goodies from their Holiday ’17 collection, I immediately said yes. I have featured the brand on my site in the past, and own a few pairs of their leggings already, so I felt it was the perfect fit.

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Will I get taller if I continue stretching this way?

I was given a few options of looks to pick from, all including a sports bra and leggings, and like the TRUE Yorker that I am, gravitated to the mostly black option from the Foxy collection.  I chose the  Foxy Crewneck Bra and Foxy Boundless Leggings. Once I received the products, I was so happy with the hand-feel, super soft to the touch with a dense denier, so no see-thru leggings over here! I tried on the full ‘fit and immediately fell in love; it felt like a second skin. Wear It To Heart’s garments use a 4-way stretch, so they move the way you move.

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Welcome to the gun show!

I brainstormed a million photoshoot ideas. Would this be a purely product-focused activewear shoot? Would I show the versatility of the look and how it can transition from the gym to the streets? Would I be wearing cool kicks or barefoot? I went back and forth for weeks, admittedly, and decided to call up one of my buddies and fave photographer collaborators, Kermit Mercado. We decided we would just keep it simple, and this is what we created.

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Details on the Foxy Crewneck Sports Bra

The details on the sports bra were too good; a thoughtfully created narrow racerback to allow maximum movement with sheer laser cut elements. There are removable cups in the shelf bra to give shape and maintain modesty.

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Bedazzled legs & fancy feet

The pattern of the collection is reminiscent of fox fur, given the name. I enjoy the textural element it adds. With a sprinkle of black rhinestones below the knee on both the front and back of the left leg, you get a touch of pizazz that can likely lead your super comfy leggings from day to night.

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Kung Fu Dre

It is important for activewear to perform when you are active, yes? I tested this out by jumping, kicking, stretching, and just moving my body in all directions. While in action, the crew neck bra and Boundless leggings moved where I moved. I enjoyed the higher waist on the leggings. Being a woman with a near 15 inch waist to hip ratio, lower rise leggings are problematic as they slide down south and can be quite uncomfortable. Since this sat at my natural waist, I had no issues of peeking when I bent over.

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Are you excited to see me?

We played around a lot on camera, and while we did get so many amazing shots, the silly ones are some of my favorites. I call this look the “I haven’t seen you in ten years and you brought me my favorite dish.”

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That’s All Folks!

Are you digging the look? Head over to Wear It To Heart to get the lowdown on my look, and scope out the entire Holiday ’17 collection.

Purchase here:

Foxy Crewneck Bra

Foxy Boundless Leggings

 

Hair & Makeup by Andrea K. Castillo

All photos by Kermit Mercado

 

*I received complimentary apparel for this post

In Photos: The Immeasureable Beauty of Grand Canyon West

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Grand Canyon West, in all its glory

When it comes to traveling the cities, states, and countries on our vast planet, many do so for a multitude of reasons. You may travel to escape your reality at home. To become inspired. To learn something new. Or simply, to just see how a different community lives. I travel for all of these reasons, and often times find myself in the most fulfilling experiences abroad when they are not planned. This happened to me just recently when I visited Las Vegas.

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Joshua Trees along the road

A group of ten family members, from both my generation and my parents’ generation, hopped on a plane to Sin City to celebrate a milestone birthday of one of our cousins. Plans were not solid in regards to what activities we would partake in whilst there, and for those that know me, no plans or general ideas of plans can give me a bit anxiety. I am all about maximizing my time when I visit different places.

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A view from the tour bus

So we do the Vegas thing, right? Walk the strip, eat LOTS of food (that at points did not agree with our stomachs), find the best deals on those ridiculous giant frozen alcoholic cocktails you can drink in the street and consume them, catch a live show, breeze through the casinos, and get a little shopping in. We skipped the nightlife bit as my cousins Lauren, Ashley, and I were a bit jetlagged from the three-hour time difference, but we were able to hop on the High Roller, the worlds tallest observation wheel which soars 550 ft above the City of Las Vegas.

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Obligatory “Brooklyn we OUTCHEA” pose

On our last full day in Vegas, we took a little road trip to the Grand Canyon West. I had never been, and was super-excited to hit the road and get into nature. I love the topography of the desert as much as I love tropical zones, so viewing tons of mountains and Joshua Trees along the way was great for me. The total drive was just about two hours to the site, which is in Peach Springs, Arizona, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Grand Canyon West is not located in the Grand Canyon National Park. The native Hualapai people run and manage all tours and vending on site, which was very important to me.

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These sandals were made for climbing

Once we arrived on the grounds, we noticed a chill in the air, despite the weather reading over 80 degrees. We parked the car and took a little walk to the Visitor’s Center. Lauren and I were unprepared for the chillier weather (Ashley’s a thug and was fine in her tank top), so our first stop once inside was to purchase sweatshirts to wear during our little excursion. I found this cool Grand Canyon West, Joshua Tree sweatshirt (seen below), and of course Lauren copied me, because that’s what cousins do, right?

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The Many Faces of Andrea

Good News

We’re getting ice cream after this?

When the week ends, and the night falls, what is on your mind? Do you want to log off and unwind? Do you want to hang out with your homies that you didn’t have a chance to see during the week? Or do you break free and run the streets? Summer nights are always my favorite as they tend to have the most expansive range of being super chill, or filled with adventure. A few weeks back, I had one of those nights.

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Unleashing the curls

On an unseasonably cool evening in June, I met up with some homies on the fly to hang out. We started the evening having burgers at a spot in Park Slope, and then deliberations began of where we would go to next. Off to the movies? To a rooftop party in Williamsburg? To a house party in Bed Stuy? Despite the weather, I suggested going to Coney Island. It always evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and if we were to get hungry again, there are a plethora of options on and near the boardwalk.

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In mid-air

As the majority of us happen to be photographers (I unfortunately left my camera at home this evening, but had back up) we decided to go on a photo walk of sorts. We began at Nathan’s Famous on Surf Ave, snapping the Brooklyn landmark and its iconic lights. While gazing down the block a bit more, I noticed the Coney Art Walls, an outdoor exhibit of street art from various well-known visual artists, were a few feet over, so we scoped it out.

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In action

We took a load of photos, though a bit limited as the viewing hours of the walls end at 10 PM and we were in the area at approximately 11 PM. I personally wanted a few new photos for the blog, so I asked my buddy Antoine to snap me. My creative direction? Capturing me letting my hair down. I feel a lot of my photos on the blog or my social media show a more stoic gaze, with my hair pulled back in a bun. With these photos, I really wanted to capture me letting loose, and my many faces.

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In a pensive mood

Here we have my general thinking face. This is the face I make when I am trying to solve a problem, thinking of how I should go about writing a new post or piece, or the look of daydreaming. This is also one of the first photos where I have been able to show off my new matte black-framed specs from Mó Eyewear.

Something In My Eye?

HOLD UP! There’s something in my eye!

This is one of my more extreme expressions when something is in my eye, or on my face. Although it may not be the most flattering look, it is me in my natural state. As my curls were down, I am pretty sure a strand of hair grazed my eyeball, and I was eagerly trying to get it out of the way.

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Stop making me laugh!

This is the, “I’m trying to take a serious photo, but you keep making me laugh!” face. My friends are hilarious, and oftentimes when I try to create a serious or sexy pose, that all goes out the window because of laughter. My laughter is quite physical, and usually involves moving my hair and shaking my entire torso.

I love to laugh, and love to show my true faces in the company of friends. I hope now you can see a little bit more into my life.

 

*Photos by Antoine Bennett

Summer Solstice 2017: How Will You Spend The Longest Day Of The Year?

Sun shining on the Caribbean Sea at Caye Caulker

June 21, 2017 (today) is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is at the highest point in the sky. It is officially the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year as it is the day we have the most sunlight. In different parts of the world in a multitude of cultural traditions, the day marks a time of renewal and healing; a time to let go of/burn things of the past that no longer serve you. It is a time where self-care and self-love is extremely important.

I, along with many of my friends, have been going through a major shift. It can have many names, but simply put, we are at a time where we have found that we need to make many changes, whether they be very small or monumental, to move forward. Personally, I have been exhausted. I know a part of it has to do with my lack of establishing proper boundaries in my work and personal life, along with anxiety about my life path and future. Add in spreading myself too thin and not affirming my strengths to the mix, and you get one exhausted/confused/drained Andrea.

It can be extremely frustrating to work toward many goals just to have the rug ripped from beneath your feet, reverting you back to stage one. To be honest, at this point I have lost count of how many times the hypothetical rug has been pulled from beneath me, but what I am realizing now is that it was probably pulled for a reason. Maybe what I thought was the right path, wasn’t. Maybe I had to start again because if I went down my intended path, I would be greeted with unsavory individuals who do not have my best interest at hand. As a self-identified control freak (I am working on this), it would feel like my world stopped when something wouldn’t go my way. I would turn off from the world, fall into a depression, and ruminate on my shortcomings, negatively affecting those around me.

In shutting off from the world and finding almost too much comfort in solitude, you don’t hear what the outside world thinks. Yes, in the case of the outside world being negative, it is great to take time to yourself to renew and refresh, but how about when they have great things to say, and you are unavailable to hear them? An event that mirrors this sentiment just came up in my life last week, and it really opened my eyes.

Sunset at Caye Caulker

For maybe the thousandth time since I began the blog, I considered shutting it down, again. I have had trouble writing as I have been going through a lot in my personal life, and the act of just starting a post was quite debilitating. I would go through moments of skimming back on blog archives as well as my social media, trying to pinpoint when & where things went downhill. I couldn’t find an exact spot, but I did notice the places where my posts did not occur for months on end. During another wallowing in my sorrows moments, when I was simultaneously decluttering my space, I received a message on Facebook from a friend from college. I was actually surprised to hear from her, as we had not spoken in some time.

My friend, Damaris Vasquez-King, is a teacher at Soundview Academy for Culture & Scholarship, a middle school in the Soundview section of the South Bronx. She reached out as she had been following the blog, and wanted to gauge my interest in speaking to her students for a career day. I immediately said yes after I was told the date. Prior to this, I had never spoken to youth about my career path because I never felt sure about it, and thought I would not have enough information to speak on. I admit, I had to psych myself out a bit for the speaking gig, which was on June 15th, because I thought I would fail. To my surprise on that day, I did astronomically better than I expected.

I spoke to a group of about 24 girls in her class about blogging and freelance writing, a bit about myself, and what types of topics I cover. I was slightly nervous, but calm as the girls were very inviting, and genuinely seemed interested in what I was saying, despite being the last speaker of the day. Throughout my talk, Ms. Vazquez (Damaris) added how she used my blog as an example to her class of how you can use a blog/online platform as a place of positivity as opposed to malice. I almost shed a thug tear. I had no idea, and it really made me feel really proud as in that moment, I knew my words were positively affecting the next generation.

It is so easy in the realm of blogging to get caught up on numbers, especially when you want to work with big brands. Partnership deals are great and all, but if what I am doing cannot be a place of positivity or teach someone something new, why even do it? It shifted my focus completely, and since I have been thinking more deeply about my vocation that I believe was written way before I got here; to teach.

So on this Summer Solstice, I will be kind to my mind, body, and soul, and really dig deeper into what my next move is. Perhaps, I can teach you something.

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Hanging With Mack Wilds At Canal Street Market

Chilling with Mack at the Market

Since December, I have been moonlighting, or I guess in this circumstance “daylighting” at the Canal Street Market. Located at 261-267 Canal Street in Chinatown, the space is a massive multi-vendor marketplace, housing various small businesses, designers, and makers, most that are local to New York. The market opened in December 2016 to the public, just in time for the holidays, and just this month, opened a Food Hall on May 15th. I have worked sales booths for EIR NYC, Upstate Stock, Kindred Black, as well as the market’s Design Shop, and even on my days off, I find myself coming right back to the market.

In addition to all the shopping and food offerings, the market hosts a multitude of multidisciplinary events (product launches, magazine parties, talks, etc.), and it becoming a hot spot to shoot content, giving its clean design and Instagram-worthy murals by Alex Proba.

Look at these kids! LOL

A few weeks back on one of my days off, my boy Jason asked if I wanted to be second camera for a VIBE Magazine shoot with Mack Wilds at Canal Street Market. I have known Mack and the VIBE team since 2013, back when I was at Concrete Loop and I interviewed him for the site (still one of my favorite artist interviews to date that you can view here), so of course I said yes. I walked in that Friday afternoon to the market and my peeps there were a bit confused. They knew I was not scheduled to  work that day, so as I walked further back into the lounge, they knew I was there for the shoot. We had a full team, Mikey Fresh interviewing, Jason L. Chandler filming, and Karl Ferguson Jr. shooting behind-the-scenes photos. In my words, “Black Eyed Peas with Fergie.”

As we had to wait on Mack for a little bit, I was the light tester for Karl, meaning it was like a mini fake photoshoot for me, which I am totally cool with. More content! We set up the lounge area that was curated by West Elm, to evoke maximum cozy + cool factor for the shoot, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Album cover or nah?

Once he arrived, I received the biggest hug in the world, and we got down to it. I helped mic him up and make sure no wires were visible on camera. Once he was ready, I got behind the second camera to ensure we got a clean second angle while Jason was on the main camera, and Mikey interviewed. It was really awesome to see how much Mack has grown as an artist, just having released his second album, After Hours, with the accompanying mini-series on TIDAL, and starring in not one, but two television series, VH1’s The Breaks and FOX’s Shots Fired, respectively.

After the conclusion of the interview, we chopped it up a bit and Karl took all the super-fun photos of us together that you see above. It was an awesome afternoon, and a reminder that no matter how crazy life can be, I always end up in the right place at the right time.

Portrait by Karl Ferguson Jr.

Watch a clip from his interview with VIBE’s Mikey Fresh below, and stay tuned for new tings and collabs from yours truly!

*Photos by Karl Ferguson Jr.

Springing Into Year Six Of The Blog: A Reflection

Walking Into Year SIX!

As I sit here composing this here post, I think to myself, “Where has all the time went?” On April 18, 2011, I created A Life In The Day of Andrea, publishing my first post detailing the inspiration behind the blog’s name, and what I would be writing about. In the now six years since its inception, my site has been the impetus to the majority of my work in writing (both editorial and otherwise), photography, video & film, and a major catalyst in meeting and connecting with interesting people and brands all over the world. As a freelancer with a varied skill set who is always trying to find creative and fulfilling ways to make a living, I admit that sometimes the blog, which was to be an extension of myself, has been neglected much over these past six years. I hear similar sentiments when I speak to my contemporaries in the blogosphere. Sometimes, we create this online space as a promotional tool, to show the world how cute we are to get modeling gigs, how impressionable we are to sell the products of others, and what a damn good writer we are to get writing gigs at respectable publications that we always dreamed of contributing to.

But how can one forget about themselves when that outlet for self (i.e. blog) is what got you to where you are right now? It is quite easy, by simply doing that, forgetting about oneself.

Always a silly moment

Reaching another April is always a reminder of starting something new, and for me, it has been one of my most reflective months of the past six years. Because of this, I overanalyze what I have done in the past 365 days from both a professional and personal standpoint and because I am a perfectionist (which I am actively working on ending); I often feel that I have fallen short. On this day, I look back and think why I haven’t properly promoted myself over these years? Why is my following so low? Why are people not reading my posts like they used to? Why are these newer bloggers getting all the campaigns that I’ve wanted for so long? All my questions have really boiled down to “What am I doing wrong?” Continue reading

From A Fan’s Perspective: The Internet Presents “The Internet Tour” @ Webster Hall

Matt Martians

Since the 2015 release of their critically-acclaimed third studio album Ego DeathThe Internet has been on a musical whirlwind. Nominated for a Grammy in 2016 for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and touring for Ego Death for approximately over a year, the band has been building global acclaim while branching out to focus on solo projects. In the past few weeks to date we got The Drum Chord Theory from Matt Martians, Fin from Syd, and Steve Lacy’s Demo from  Steve Lacy just today.

To showcase their musical works as a band and as solo artists, they kicked off The Internet Presents The Internet Tour. The first date was at the newly launched Soulquarius R&B festival in Santa Ana, CA last week, with the first headlining date right here at home in NYC at Webster Hall in the Grand Ballroom. The sold-out show had no openers, starting just after 8:30 PM.

Steve Lacy

I have been cool with the band for a few years now, so perhaps this column should be entitled “From A Homie’s Perspective”, but you catch my drift. I rushed to Webster Hall after getting off of work at 8 PM, pressed as I believed I would miss the first song. Thankfully once I arrived, there was a very short line, and I was given my wristband quite quickly from the artists’ list. I sped up to the VIP balcony for the Grand Ballroom, and found my place as close to the stage as possible. With my camera in tow, I was ready to experience an evening of grooves and new tunes.

I tested out my camera right before they hit the stage to ensure I had the proper settings, and once the lights went down, it was on.

Patrick Paige II performing with the band cheering him on

The crowd roared, and there appeared Matt, Syd, Chris, Steve, and Patrick on the stage in front of a huge screen which alternated between a huge graphic of “The Internet” in red bubble letters, and an illustration by Matt of all the band members. As The Internet, they performed a slew of songs from Ego Death including “Gabby”, “Special Affair”, “Girl”, “Just Sayin”, and “Get Away”, and “Curse”, which they had never performed live before. I have been to many of their shows over the years, and it was really great to see them perform in front of a sold-out crowd in my hometown, that knew ALL THE WORDS to the songs!

Robert Glasper on the Keys for Syd’s “Insecurities”

Steve Lacy was first up to perform some solo tracks, which included “Looks”,”C U Girl”, “Dark Red”, and “Some.” Up next was Matt who performed “Diamond in da Ruff”, “What Love Is”, “Southern Isolation”, and “Dent Jusay” featuring Steve and Syd. Patrick was up next, performing an unfinished song he wrote for his sister sans bass, with smooth rhymes. Chris followed with an incredible drum solo.

Syd closed out the solo performances, with new tracks from Fin, including “Shake Em Off’, “Know” (MY SONG THO), “All About Me”, “Body”, and the body rolling chune that is “Got Her Own.” A very special guest in the incredible Robert Glasper accompanied Syd on keys for “Insecurities” as he is featured on the studio version.

Syd

The show ended with a very hype rendition of “Just Sayin”, where the crowd chanted in unison “YOU FUCKED UP.” Such a highlight of the night. Scroll down for more photos.

Sold-out crowd at Webster Hall

Chris Smith signing drumsticks

 

*All Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

In Photos: On The Ground At #WomensMarchOnWashington

We The People, artwork by Shephard Fairey

January 21, 2017. The day after the inauguration of a new president in the United States of America, whose name I refuse to say. The first day of a complete shift to a new regime and day of resistance marches all around the world. The premier event, the Women’s March on Washingtonwas held this morning and afternoon along Independence Ave., and it is on this day that I officially have become a part of the resistance.

You Cunt Touch This

As of this morning, I have been in Washington DC a few days, specifically to photograph Thursday evening’s Peace Ball at the new National Museum of African American History & Culture. Prior to today, I have not attended a march, and was super excited to do so as the timing was perfect, and I have never felt more strongly for the equal rights and progression of women all over the world. A group of six of us, all women of different ages and ethnic backgrounds, attended the march together, and the spirit in the air was incredibly positive. From our trip to the diner early this morning to fuel up pre-march, to getting to the Metro to head into downtown DC, 90% of the faces that were presented before us were of our fellow woman.

It almost felt as though every woman (and man) that had an opportunity to travel to or commute to DC for the march specifically, did. Arm in arm, outfitted in buttons, “pussy hats” (see below), and posters in hand, my photographic intent was to capture the words of the people via those posters.

 

Pussy Grabber

Central themes included that of women’s reproductive rights, immigration, rights of indigenous peoples and their land, sisterhood, denouncing the President and his authority, and solidarity. These themes were vocalized in the words of the vast array of speakers, including America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, Janet Mock, Van Jones, Donna Hylton, and many many more.

Said Gloria Steinem in reference to our new president’s careless and immature use of social media (and possibly referencing Drake):

…that a Twitter finger does not become a trigger finger.

Police coming through Continue reading

Celebrate Italian Heritage Month with Cacio e Pepe & Stemmari Nero d’Avola

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe & Stemmari Nero d’Avola 2013

October is Italian Heritage Month, and to properly celebrate, I wanted to share one of my favorite pasta dishes paired with an excellent red wine. On National Pasta Day (October 17th) I decided to chef up Cacio e Pepe, a Roman dish which literally translates to “cheese and pepper”, that is comprised of a thin pasta, Pecorino cheese, and black pepper. My wine pairing was a  bottle of Stemmari Nero d’Avola 2013 that was sent from their PR company.

Nero d’Avola is an intense red grape harvested in the Agrigento provence of Sicily, marked by its deep ruby red color, bouquet of dark red fruit, and velvety texture on the palate. Given these characteristics, I surmised the peppery quality of the pasta would balance the notes of the wine.

Since I had a box of Barilla Thin Spaghetti to work with, I googled “Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe” and found a great recipe from Olivia’s Cuisine. I did not have the exact ingredients listed in her recipe, mainly the fresh grated Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano, so I like to call this “Andrea’s Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe On a Budget”.

Ingredients

My cooking style is very on the fly, always trying to use the ingredients I have at home at the time when hunger strikes. It is much easier to work with what I have got, so when I opened the fridge to see I was out of Parmigiano Reggiano, but had pre-packaged Parmesan cheese, I decided to go forth. Let us get into everything you will need to make this dish.

Tools

  • 1 Large pot to boil pasta
  • 1 Large Saucepan or wok to mix pasta and sauce
  • Tongs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (box) of Barilla (or any other brand) thin spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper plus extra for serving
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 stick of butter unsalted
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese (can be doubled)
  • Salt to taste

Simple goodness

Now, here are the steps to get you into the world of pasta goodness!

Instructions

  • Fill large pot 3/4 full with water seasoned with a dash of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Boil spaghetti.
  • While the pasta is boiling, toast the black pepper in your saucepan/wok approximately 30 seconds until fragrant. Add olive oil and stick of butter. Once butter is melted, remove from heat and reserve.
  • 2 minutes before spaghetti is al dente, remove from heat. In this case the pasta should cook approximately 7 minutes. Remove from heat, strain pasta and reserve 1- 2 cups of the pasta water.
  • In your saucepan, add a 1/2 cup of pasta water to your pepper/olive oil/butter mixture, stirring in pasta until coated over medium heat. Dash in cheese bit by bit, stirring vigorously to melt cheese and avoid clumps. Repeat these steps until all cheese is blended in and you achieve your desired consistency.
  • Serve immediately in a warm pasta bowl or plate. Add cheese, black pepper, and salt to taste.


Close up

Isn’t this divine? With a prep and cook time of about 20 minutes, this dish is simple pasta with a hearty amount of cheese and intense flavor. Pour up a generous glass of Nero d’Avola (13% ABV, if you were wondering) and you are transported to Italy, if only for the moment.

For more information on Sicilia DOC wines, be sure to head over to their website. Buon Appetito!

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Take A Bite: Burgers & Bloggers at Harlem Shake’s El Barrio Outpost


Harlem Shake’s new El Barrio location

When it comes to food, I like to call myself a bit of an explorer, but nothing satisfies my hunger like a nice juicy burger. At the end of August my blogger bud Mary, of Mary in Manhattan informed me that she was organizing a blogger meet-up aptly called “Burgers & Bloggers”, and in true Andrea fashion, I agreed to be a part of it, without even knowing the location. Once the date was set, I was all about it. The location of our meet up? The newly opened Harlem Shake location in East Harlem, more affectionately known as El Barrio, reflecting the majority Latino residents.

We met up in the afternoon of Saturday, September 10th, on quite possibly one of the hottest days of the season. I was running a little bit behind as weekend subway service is always a hassle because of construction and detours, but I managed to make it in the last hour, and get the lowdown on the restaurant and its unique menu items and decor.


Interior view

Like its West Side counterpart on W. 124th St & Lenox Ave., the new restaurant is decorated to evoke the diner/ice cream parlor style of yesteryear, featuring a bevy of seating options by the bar, large booths, and smaller tables and chairs.


Jet Mag covers

Staying true to the neighborhood, the main dining area hosts a “Wall of Fame” of autographed photos of some of your favorite people, and a wall of Afros. When you turn the corner to head to the restroom, there is one entirely decorated with Jet Magazine “wallpaper”, and the other covered in all of the covers of Marvel’s Luke Cage comic book.


45 coasters?

At our booth, a range of 45 records were placed in the center, I believe to be used as coasters. It freaked me out a little because as an audiophile, the music picks were splendid and the vinyl was still in very good condition to play, but I digress. Now that you have a picture and feel of the space, let’s get to the food!

Harlem Shake is known for their delicious high-quality beef burgers, made from Pat LaFrieda beef, and their handmade, organic milkshakes made from Blue Marble ice cream.


Signature “Poppin Parcha” Milkshake

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#ALifeInTheDayInBelize: In Times of Chaos, Respite in Tobacco Caye

A view of Tobacco Caye

Writing about my travels is one of my favorite topics to cover on A Life In The Day of Andrea as I always include the photos I shoot whilst abroad. I must admit, I have not been very inspired lately in the realm of photography, and I knew that another trip with family to Belize would solve it. For ten days in August, I visited Belize with my parents, making it my eighth trip to the motherland. I brought my computer, but for the first time ever, I did not turn it on, and really took my time in the country as a serious vacation.

We had not made any concrete plans, but knew we would stay in Belize City for a bit of time, and venture south to Dangriga, where my mother’s cousin Sherry and her husband Warren live. For me, the spontaneous trips are some of the best. Whilst in Dangriga, enjoying nature and sipping on the freshest of coconut water, we were able to set up a day trip to Tobacco Caye with family friends; one who chartered a boat (as that is the only way to get there), and one who owned a property on the caye. My parents and I had never been to the caye, so for me, it was something new and exciting for us all to experience together.

Broken dock at Tobacco Caye

Belize as a nation was hit pretty badly by Hurricane Earl in early August, and its path was seen throughout the city and towns, with a plethora of debris, damaged docks, and structural damage to houses and buildings. Despite this, the people remained resilient, carrying on daily life and working through the destruction. At Tobacco Caye, Earl was present, mainly in the damaged docks, but aside from this, it was quite peaceful. Unlike larger caye destinations like Ambergris Caye where San Pedro is, and Caye Caulker, Tobacco Caye is tiny; stretching approximately three acres in the protected waters of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve which is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef.

After Earl

We took the approximately 10 mile boat trip from Dangriga to Tobacco Caye in a group of eight family members and friends. As it was a day trip, we brought all of our provisions to make a proper Belizean breakfast, juices and coffee included, as well as lunch. A standard Belizean breakfast consists of fried jacks (a fried bread similar to bake in Trinidad) with a side of guava jelly, refried beans, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee.

Making fried jacks

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