Monday, February 24, 2014

Living in the Moments w/ Opera Singer La Toya Lewis




I can't say I know of too many Opera singers from Brooklyn {yes, you are the only Opera singer I know, lol} when was that "Light bulb moment" that you knew you wanted to be an Opera singer? 

LL // Ha! This is so funny because I've been trying to tell other opera singers that even though there are a few of us from Brooklyn, the vast majority of the world doesn't know who we are! I'm glad to be the only opera singer you know! There wasn't really a light-bulb moment, I quite literally "fell into" singing opera. I went to college as an undecided major and went to check out the Choir one day. Turns out, this was the opera chorus and I immediately fell in love with the sounds the singers were making all around me. I had to "try this opera thing out", like that would be easy or something. I've been singing it ever since. { Have a look + listen}


You recently had been touring the U.S with Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, who you call a friend of yours, what's that been like? 

LL // The tour was incredible, really impossible to  find the words to describe how incomparable that experience was. Mainly because I was surrounded by excellent musicians 24/7 for weeks. I got to sit on stage while Wynton and the Band improvised parts of the mass we were singing so that the show was never really the same from night to night. Just to see them in action and to be among singers from all different genres day in and day out was the type of immersion that singers dream of. 


You've met some pretty amazing  people, Glenn Close, Laurence Fishbourne and I saw a photo of you with Tony Danza, have you two performed together? Is there anyone you are dreaming will be in your audience?

LL // I didn't perform with Tony, he and I are actually on the volunteer faculty at a not for profit called All Stars Project Inc. on 42nd street. We teach inner city children performance techniques and I'm in charge of the voice portion. So I've been around for his classes and he's been around for mine and I know him in that capacity, as a teacher. But he has heard me sing and has a lot of respect for my talent. I do hope that Tony comes to my concert one of these days! He's an amazing man. 


Your cat Isis is gorgeous, can she sense when you are off to tour, or perform?

LL // Thanks!! I got her as a Christmas present back in 2007 from a Cattery in New Jersey. She's a pure bred Silver Bengal and a ridiculously intelligent animal. She always knows when I'm heading off somewhere because she'll start circling my luggage or sitting on top of my clothes just to jam me up! I often times feel really bad when I leave her for a long time. 




Where are your favorite spots to "Live in the moment" here in NYC?

LL // You can't go to Brooklyn without grabbing pizza from Smiling Pizza on 7th Avenue and 9th Street in Park Slope. Great hole in the wall place, amazing zeppoles, and oily garlic knots! So Brooklyn. You also need to take in the scenic views from the Promenade/Brooklyn Bridge Park or go for a walk around the lake at Prospect Park. The Museum of Moving Image in Astoria is definitely one of my favorite places. If you ever thought museums were boring, a visit here would quickly change that. Chelsea Market is only a new favorite dig of mine but I can't get enough of the seafood market {for their steamed lobsters and succulent shrimp}.

 I'm curious, what are you listening to right now? 

LL // Right now I'm revisiting all the albums I liked last year (Daft Punk, JT, Beyonce, TGT etc) and am listening to a bunch of different things. But I'm almost always listening to Radiohead's entire catalog or various musicals, namely Jesus Christ Superstar. 


I've seen you use the hashtag #realnerdsdonerdthings, what makes you a REAL nerd?   

LL // Haha, that hashtag is a play on a line from a Notorious BIG song, and I think someone might've said that once and I ran with it. I'd say I'm an real nerd because I have a genuine interest in learning about very specific subjects. When I've decided I like something I'm just immersed in it.  I think that's the real definition of a nerd - a thirst for knowledge on a particular subject and subsequent mastery of that subject. And I love math for no reason in particular. I'll just go do math challenges online sometimes for fun. I'll wear Harry Potter t-shirts and hang out at the library. Not to be ironic but because I love Harry Potter and I love libraries. Real nerds do nerd things!


Describe yourself in One word: 

LL // Vivacious.


On Instagram your followers get a peek at your fun & colorful beauty product choices, what's going on in that makeup bag of yours? 

LL // So I very recently got the nerve to start wearing bright lipstick colors and doing other eyes beside just some shade of brown on my eyelid. I got a Look Book from e.l.f's Disney Villain promotion and am trying a lot of bold eye colors with that. The matte I'm wearing right now is by Revlon and it's called Shameless (which is a deep purple). There's a lot of drug store brands that I mix and match to look fabulous on a budget. Gotta fake it til you make it! Recently I discovered Essie's Encrusted Collection which I'm freaking out over.


FILL IN THE BLANKS                 

LL // Today I will          plan to make my tomorrow better.
        This week I will        reflect on the blessings of this past year.
        This month I will        have started new regimens that help me reach my goals.
        This year I will        improve upon the previous year.
         Next year I Will        astound myself.

Anything you'd like us to know that most people don't know about you?

LL // I love rap music! I'm an old school hip hop head and know a whole lot about rap in general. I also love the television show LOST even though it's been off for years. And my favorite color is red, not pink! 

Follow La Toya //  latoya-lewis.com   
                               Instagram // Sopranovixen
                               Facebook // La Toya Lewis, Soprano
                               Twitter // @Latoyalewis

        

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everything's Coming Up Roses, Daisies & Peonies

           




My hubby swears he spied a few blades of grass peeking from beneath a mound of snow outside, and I told him this cabin fever has him delusional. Definitely a bit of wishful thinking because I for one have had enough of the cold & slush. This little touch of sunshine that's beaming off my pile of magazines on the windowsill has me hopeful for the Spring days that are only four weeks away. In the meantime I'm loving all the floral finds that have sprung up in stores & on the pages of my fave reads. These are hardly the prints that scream grandma's curtains! Have any of these fresh and fun blossoms caught your eye?

  1. Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses.
  2. Navy floral oxfords from the Gap.
  3. Band of Gypsies, kimono jacket.
  4. Floral chambray shirt from the Gap.
  5. Kate Spade tulip top.
  6. Floral terry pants from Anthropologie.
  7. Floral and lace bralet from Asos.
  8. Peter Pilotto for Target swim collection.
  9. Peonie bandeau bikini set from Topshop.
  10. Keepsake Second Chance floral dress from Lulu's.



Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Weekend! Let's LINK Up


                 


Happy Valentines day! My hubby knows how to get to my heart by way of my tummy, he made me this amazing dish for breakfast. My boys and I will be spending the day building a snowman on the roof, cooking dinner together and then heading back to our warm blankets  to watch movies. Cabin fever has definitely set in and we're hoping to catch a few events in the city while the kids are on midwinter break. I thought for today I'd share a few valentines day and warm weather day inspiration to keep you in a positive state of mind as we endure the cold. How are you planning to spend Valentines Day, the long weekend and Mid-winter break? Here's a few links to help you pass the time, and no matter what you have planned, please Live in the Moments!

5 family & date-night events in the city to check out // Craft Valentines w/ Tristin + Tyler // Laugh w/ SNL's Sasheer Zamata // Carnaval at El Museo Del Barrio  // City as Canvas // Red Rooster's Midnight Brunch

Sasheer Zamata shows us how to react to your friends awful engagement and an adorable Central Park proposal.

Celebrities share stories of how they were de-flowered.

Romantic beauty trends.

Entice your boo-thang with this love potion.

Take a trip to Bali, lounge around in this infinity pool and wear this.

50 swoon-worthy romantic movies.

Adorn your little one {and rock one yourself} with this DIY crown.

Red velvet sweets for your sweetheart: cookies  & cheesecake brownies.

Everything I L-O-V-E.

Find some sexy lingerie based on your personality.






Snowy Day fun with Citrus Lane


I'd always been curious about the various gift subscriptions that are out there for kids, so when a friend had asked what she should gift Tristan for the holidays, I requested a subscription to Citrus Lane. What parent doesn't appreciate, monthly hand picked, age appropriate products for their children, delivered right to their door? Each month a box is sent, tailored to your child's age group from some of the most well trusted brands like: Plan Toys, Weleda, Aden + Anais and Skip Hop. Items chosen for each age group vary from toys and games that are engaging or encourage pretend play, to arts and crafts, snacks, lunch bags and more! My son Tristan didn't know he was getting a special package and when he opened his preschool 3-4yr old January14 box he was super excited. 


With all the snow we've been getting and cabin fever setting in, the items that were in the January14 box were perfect for my 3yr. old.

The Zig Zag Zebra coloring book from Barefoot Books {$4.19} is perfect for age 3-7 and will keep your lil' monster busy while encouraging creativity. Tristan is at that great stage where he wants to pull every book of the shelf to read, and grabs his crayons to color & draw and is then thrilled to show us his newest masterpiece. This book isn't just for coloring though, it helps kids with shape recognition, line drawing and reading through simple activities and it's perfect to take on subway rides, and while in the waiting room.

Duo Tip Washable Markers from Faber-Castel {$4.99} were also included which are recommended for ages 4+ but they are pretty easy to use, so kids even younger could use. I love that the markers are double sided with a wide and thin tip and the best feature is that they are made from food-grade vegetable dye, making it easy to remove them from clothes, or in our case a small spot on the couch.

We haven't had the chance to use the Upset Tummy & Nausea Relief from Mommy's Bliss {$9.99} but I'm a huge fan of products that use safe, all natural ingredients. There are single dose packets included that are free from gluten, dairy soy and sugar & will help ease indigestion and nausea.

Out of all the items included Tristan's favorite by far was the Fruit Set from Plan Toys {This set is exclusive to Citrus lane, follow link for similar 3 items priced at $7.99 but doesn't include knife, so let's round to $10}. On the weekends you can find Tristan in his toy kitchen playing restaurant with his older brother and serving up dishes inspired by watching his daddy in the kitchen {nope, this mom doesn't cook, but I can make a kitchen spotless}. This fruit set includes 3 different fruits and a knife that are all made from recycled rubberwood. Tristan loved that he could slice his fruit to make a salad and when he's all done they stick back together with Velcro and can be put back in their drawstring bag.


 


I was very satisfied with our first box and we've been eagerly checking to see if we have any new packages waiting for us. With everything estimated to be a total of $30 if purchased separately and not including shipping I find the subscription to be worth it and I enjoy the surprise of opening the box with my lil' monster. I am curious as to how varied the boxes are in the same age group from month to month, as I read some reviews in which parents said they got duplicate or very simialir products later on. Ultimately I think this monthly subscription is a great deal,  a 3 month subscription is $24 and a 6 month subscription is $21 making them worthy options and if interested in a yearly subscription the price is only $19. I'll be sure to show you guys what's in our February box. 

Are you currently subscribing to Citrus Lane, are you and your lil' monster enjoying your monthly surprise? Would you recommend any other monthly subscriptions, please do tell!

*This is not a sponsored post, the opinions expressed are 100% solely mine. I received no compensation.






Monday, February 10, 2014

Living in the Moments: A Night Out with Celebrity Stylist & Rock-star Mom, June Ambrose



Sometime's the most unexpected moments in life are the most inspiring! Last Tuesday celebrity stylist June Ambrose held an Instagram contest asking fans why we should be chosen to attend her eyewear launch party. I've been a huge fan of June for years, not only because she styles the likes of  Mary J. Blige, P. Diddy and Jay-Z but because while grinding and fulfilling her dreams she is a fully committed mother and wife, who before & after meetings, fittings and shows makes it a priority to wake up at 5am to hit the gym, take her kids to school and cook dinner daily {Yes we are all waiting patiently for her cooking chronicles to hit bookstores} all while sharing these moments in the "Juniverse" with her fans across her Instagram feed and other social media.

Not that I thought I'd even be selected but I figured with my birthday being the day prior to the contest and having just spent twenty, some odd days in the hospital and having major emergency surgery, I could truly use a fun night out. I was one of fifteen chosen on Instagram to attend June Ambrose's launch of her new eyewear collection at Selima Optique in Soho which was hosted by her friend {and fellow rockmom} maternity, lifestyle maven Latham Thomas of Mama Glow.  June's energy and spirit was contagious, we really couldn't help but smile right along with her. When we arrived at Selima Optique, we didn't know what to expect but were thrilled to be there. June was in the midst of taping but took a few minutes to welcome the Instagram winners {coincidentally about half of us arrived at the same time, she jokingly asked if we all took the same bus} with big hugs, as if we were long time girlfriends. As aspiring designers, stylists {like my sissy Nicole who was my guest and the instagrammers posted above, bottom right} and make-up artists, the chosen instagrammers  took full advantage of chatting it up with June, who gladly shared her advise and expertise. 


Despite the cold and slush, several notable and not to mention lovely guests and friends of June came out to celebrate June's eyewear launch and to kick of New York Fashion Week: Lisa Price founder of Carols Daughter, June's assistants Eli and Tukie {whose skin was so gorgeous in her admittedly inexpensive Maybelline foundation}, Dina Manzo of reality show New Jersey Housewives, Beyonce's stylist Ty Hunter and Model Shaun Ross.

During the sit down with Latham and audience Q & A for the Mama Glow Salon Series, June showed us her pieces from the new line and discussed juggling a career & family life, fashion and taking care of self.

June's fave pair of glasses ~ "The Dora, that Mary J. Blige is loving in Tokyo Tortoise."

What June's Loving in Fashion ~ " Lace, Metallics during the day and floral prints are everything."

June on How to Stay Glowy ~ "It's really important to take care of yourself before you can be any good to others. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, go the gym and use a good moisturizer."

June's advise to her daughter Summer ~ "Smile! Your smile is your soul, no matter what you  are wearing, no one is going to see your beauty if you don't put out that energy." She also reminds her daughter that her body is her temple, and that education is key. 





At the end of the Q & A guests partied on while trying on the gorgeous & chic sunglasses on display.
Amber Sabathia {wearing the Chance in a fun & bold blue}, Dina Manzo {wearing Dora} and friends had fun shopping and posing for pics. My sissy Nicole {pictured below, left} loved Dora in Taupe Crystal and as a huge tokyo tortoise fan,  I was all for wearing Hi Brow as we snapped a few shameless selfies.
  


The evening was a great way to celebrate an amazing and inspirational woman & to kick of my year of New Beginnings. June expressed to guests her gratitude and {my favorite mantra} how she was truly "Living in the Moment", the pics above show just how present she was with everyone who shared the room with her. Thanks June Xx!

In case you were wondering, June is rockin' "Edna" & they are currently  discounted for Mama Glow. Did you spy a favorite pair you'd love to wear?

Be sure to check out Latham's full interview with June on the Mama Glow Series and Stay Tuned for June's upcoming projects with HSN featuring hats, bags, shoes and more launching Fall 2014. I know I'll anxiously be waiting for it!


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