The Artist Spotlight: Soul Searching with Susie Felix

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“The best part about art is looking at my painting and knowing I physically made something beautiful come to life.” –Susie Felix

Part of the reason why we started this blog is to inspire people to explore outside their boundaries, and not with just our work, but by the works of our peers. We hope our readers can look at an artist and appreciate them for what they create Continue reading “The Artist Spotlight: Soul Searching with Susie Felix”

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Eating in LA: Queso, Mole, Fried Grasshoppers… Oh My!!

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Everybody loves cheese, but with fried grasshoppers? Add an impressive and flavorful selection of mole and you get….well… an average lunch in Los Angeles, I suppose.

In an attempt to fulfill our appetites (and yours) with only the best and most unique kinds of foods all over the country, and eventually the world, TheMillennial paid a visit to Guelaguezta, a colorful and very authentic Oaxacan restaurant located in the heart of Los Angeles. Known for it’s out-of-this-world mole, the restaurant’s menu items are as unique as its décor.

The architecture definitely stands out, making the location not just extremely appealing to those passing through, but also easy to find on w. Olympic Blvd. Inside, the walls and tables are adorned with fascinating Oaxacan culture.

Not your average chips and salsa

Let’s be real here. We all love going to Mexican restaurants and a big reason is the chips and salsa–let me clarify, the free chips and salsa. Well, have no fear, Guelaguezta has you covered, but not with your average mild salsa. Instead, the restaurant will give you chips drizzled in mole rojo sprinkled with queso cotija– regular tortilla chips with their famous mole on top, sprinkled with dry curd cottage cheese. Yum!

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So much cheese!

Quesillo Fundido is an appetizer that will make any cheese lover’s head spin. With melted Oaxaca cheese and grilled chorizo, the item is very filling! So make sure you share it with friends! Think of mini quesadillas. Or maybe even string cheese? Its ooey-gooeyness was worth taking a photo of and not worth missing out on!!

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Crunchy Fried Grasshoppers, hold the legs

I know what you’re thinking but these were actually pretty good! Readers should be warned though. This isn’t a cute little bed of lettuce with grasshoppers sprinkled on top; these are two tortilla chips bowls, (the size of my fist) FULL of fried grasshoppers! I was taken aback when the server initially brought it to the table, but come on, what was I expecting?! The menu says ‘fried grasshoppers.’

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After giving me the classic you’re on your own look, my boyfriend graciously offered to take the first bite. The grasshoppers, otherwise known as Chapulines A La Mexicana, which read: sautéed grasshoppers with jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes, were served with Oaxacan cheese and avocado, and came with corn tortillas. To our surprise, they were tasty. At first I couldn’t handle the fact that I was eating something my bearded dragon considered a delicacy. It gave me the jitters just thinking about it, but once I had a few more bites over rice, I was happy I tried it!!

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This is considered an appetizer, so I would definitely recommend sharing. And don’t be shy, add some cheese and avocado and you won’t even realize you’re eating bugs! This crunchy item goes great with the mole so make sure you save some for the main dish. But keep an eye out for the legs, they weren’t my favorite part, so I cut them off 😉 Still not convinced? Well, it has a lot of protein if that helps!

Mole for days

I really wasn’t the biggest Mole lover before I came here. I recently tried it, it wasn’t bad, but I just never loved it. I never saw it as anything special, until I came here. I didn’t realize how many different flavors of mole there were, and how it pairs so well with so many things! It’s great over almost anything!

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The item came with four different flavors: negro, rojo, coloradito, and estofado, along with rice and a tlayuda (a giant tortilla-looking thing for those unfamiliar). Negro was bold and smokey, while the rojo was “the right combination of sweet and the typical strong mole flavor,” said Orange County native Manny Andrade.

Estofado was my personal favorite. It had jalapenos and a more mild flavor. Coloradito was our least favorite, but still descent with a clash of sweet and bold flavors. “It tasted like they used chili Colorado in it, which is a red chili that’s used in a lot of very basic enchilada sauces. It was good, but not as good as the other three,” Andrade added.

In the end, it was perfect for us to share and obvious why the restaurant is so famous for it.

Michilada madness

For those who drink, you can’t miss this. Guelaguezta’s micheladas are too good to pass up and so is the price. $15 for a large carafe! And if you go on Fridays after 4, it’s bottomless! This spicy beer cocktail pairs great with all the menu items. It’s so popular, the restaurant sells the mix online and at their location. Just add beer!!!

Overall, our visit to Guelaguezta’s was a fascinating one. Its cultural uniqueness and culinary skill make it a standout restaurant and we’d recommended it for anyone visiting Los Angeles, or any local simply passing through. Visit Guelaguezta in Los Angeles for a small dose of culture and a large dose a flavor.

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GUELAGUETZAAn advocate of Oaxacan Culture.

#MillennialMunchies

Be Your Own Audience

Four artistic ways to relieve stress at home or on the road.

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Life can be hard. It’s only Tuesday and you’re already feeling or have felt stressed, sad, heartache, frustration or any other kind of bothersome feeling, so early on in your week. Well, don’t fret, because you’re not alone. Sometimes we can’t explain the feelings we have, and other times, life just hits us like a giant red rubber ball from early 2000. So what should you do during times like this? It’s always good to talk about it, but sometimes, you just don’t want to. When that’s you (and it’s been me many times), try these four stress relievers that cater to the artist in all of us.

1. Paint or sketch. You don’t have to be Banksy to get your feelings out through some drawings. Painting and sketching requires focus, concentration and thought. But there’s no rule book that says you have to be a professional to own a canvas or some charcoal pencils and shaders. The cool part about painting and sketching is that it can take you hours and you can lose track of time very easily. Got something stuck on your mind? Draw it out. Post it on something. It will be a great release.

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[a messy sketch by a completely average and non-professional artist, me]

2. Poetry. Feeling emotional? Bust out some rhymes. Poetry is a wonderful and emotional way to get out your feelings without having to speak one word. Find a quiet place and start writing down not just your problems, but exactly how those problems are making you feel. Some people feel like poetry is hard, but a lot of the best pieces come from pure emotion. So if you’re feeling down or just emotional, sit somewhere beautiful and write down everything that comes to mind. Having trouble rhyming? Start with simple words and try going through every word in the alphabet to see if you can find another word that rhymes with it. Think of it like a game. Once you’ve found the words, it feels good to read your finished work. And don’t feel discouraged if it takes you a while. Some of the best poetry takes long hours, days, months and even years!

Cannot find the words to say?
Continue the search, they’ll return one day.
Certain minds can be complex,
It’s the reason I’m not like the rest.

3. Keep a journal. If poetry doesn’t work for you, buy a journal and start writing. Write how you’re feeling, what kinds of moods you’re in and how you got to where you’re at. Everyone can write. To write is to simply put your thoughts on paper. Don’t think about grammatical errors and don’t think about who’s going to read it. Just write. And keep writing. The cool part about this is going back to your old journal entries and re-reading how you felt and what you did to get over that. Because the truth is, although we feel sad today, a better tomorrow is on its way. And once you get out of this rut, it will be fascinating to follow your past, gloomy self. And you could use that the next time life throws a punch at you. I found an old journal entry during my times of grief when I lost my mom. It was interesting to read the words of myself 6 years ago, and it was mind-blowing to realize how far I had come from that point.

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4. Play some music. Don’t know any instruments? Learn. Not only is learning how to play an instrument an extremely valuable quality, it’s also very therapeutic and another thing to keep your mind busy. You don’t have to be the best singer, piano player, guitarist or etc., you just have to have the desire to learn. Playing music is something that you can improve at, it’s something you can challenge yourself with, and ultimately something you’ll be proud of, no matter what level you reach. I’m not the best with rhythm, so I picked the easiest instrument I could find, the cajon! It’s literally just a wooden box you hit with your hands to make a beat. The best part about music is that it’s so encouraging and when other people see/hear you play, they want to either learn, or join in. Have friends who know how to play? Start a weekly jam session! Thirty minutes will go a long way. Don’t know anyone who can play music, or aren’t ready to play in front of people? Well, that’s why God made YouTube, right?

We all feel blue sometimes. It’s one of the downsides to this thing called life. But a lot of times people try to convince us that the only way to get through it is to sit on a couch and pay someone to listen to us, or open ourselves up completely to all our loved ones. Although talking through things can be very helpful, sometimes there are just no words to say. So when that happens, turn to art. Oftentimes we’re convinced that just because we aren’t “known” for our art, we are not artists. But anyone can be artistic. To practice art is to practice beauty, so instead of sharing your feelings, share your creations.

Love Thy Fellow Stranger

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How often do we wish a stranger well? I’m not talking about your colleagues or your classmates. I’m talking about the person walking past you in the grocery store. The person next to you in the locker room, or maybe the person next to you right now.

While traveling through Dallas, Tx., we came across a rather chipper-looking gentleman while shopping at one of the stores who was staring in our direction. His smile stood out like a sore thumb. At first I thought, ‘does this guy recognize us from somewhere?’ And I’m sure my sister was thinking something too. As he got close to passing right by us he simply said, “have a nice day!” This stood out to me. It stood out to my sister. Did we think it was odd? I would be lying if I said no.

Have we developed into a society where it’s weird when a stranger is friendly to us? Although our community has come a long way when it comes to things like technology and human rights, can we really same the same thing about interpersonal communication? And if we are someone who enjoys being personable, whenever we do come across an extra friendly stranger, we carry them with us. But this should really be a way of life.

It’s a little strange that these days our minds are trained to think that if a person goes out of their way to wish us a good day, we either (A) think they are hitting on us, or (B) think they are just…. different. Some people might even think strange or even annoying and bothersome. The truth is they aren’t strange, they’re just rare. The only thing strange is the fact that they’ll probably be the only one that day, maybe even that week, who will do that.

So why is this? I have an old colleague who would say that she feels she can be somewhat closed-off when it comes to people she doesn’t know because of her upbringing. “My mom stopped showing me affection when I was seven, and I’m sure that has something to do with it,” she explained. Another reason could be if you’re an only child. Perhaps you’re not used to growing up around someone your age? Maybe someone can be anti-social if they grew up in a small town or had to make a transition from a small community, where they saw the same people everyday, to a large one.

I went to the same small catholic school for nine years. I was in the same class with the same kids every year. There were probably a total of no more than 200 kids. So when it came time to go to a public high school (well over 5,000 students), let’s just say it was quite an adjustment and not easy for me. I learned a lot. 

One sad reason is technology. How many people do you see looking down at their phones? I’ll be honest, sometimes when I don’t want someone to talk to me, I’ll avoid eye contact. Phones help make this happen, and I’m not proud of that. Technology is a blessing, but make no mistake, it can be a curse too, if we allow it.

We are millennials. We’re a generation known for innovation and efficiency, but we should never be known for being the generation buried in our phones. The majority of people who are extraordinarily friendly to their fellow strangers are from an older generation, at least that is what I have found. And chances are it’s because they were once in a world where all they depended on was eye contact and personal conversations.

Another reason is quite simple and probably the most common: We’re afraid.

This doesn’t mean we should be best friends with anyone who wants to have a conversation. Always keep your guard up and follow your gut instinct. Of course there’s a reason why our parents told us, “don’t talk to strangers,” but that doesn’t mean we have to stiffen up every time someone at the grocery store tells us to have a good day.  

When I went running last weekend, I must have passed over two dozen runners, and one runner in particular said “good job!” and gave me a quick fist-pump. I still think about him a lot. This isn’t to knock down all the other focused runners I passed by, this is simply a testament to the fact that when someone goes out of their way to be kind and friendly to us, we remember it.

Have you ever heard of the 15-five rule? When you see someone 15 ft. away, make eye contact with them, when you hit five ft., greet them. This is something The Marriott uses to train its employees about being personable. Perhaps we ought to give this a shot in our everyday lives.

Only 2% of our life conversations are with strangers.

Be careful, for if we pass by every stranger like an unread book on a shelf, we will never know what we may have missed. And try not to  judge a book by it’s cover, because everyone has a story.