Rise Above It #riseaboveit

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Pine-Sol and Latina Bloggers Connect.

We all go through challenges in life.  The severity of how we perceive and react to these challenges is affected by our circumstances, age, mental state and even our maturity level.  As a woman I feel as though our gender is faced with unique and extraordinary situations – and it’s this resilience and strength that I’ve observed in my own life and in the lives of other women that has driven me to be a staunch feminist my entire life.  We women are strong. We women are beautiful.  We women are fascinating, complex creatures.

That is why when I find out that in order to recognize and celebrate the remarkable women among us, Pine-Sol has teamed up with actress and activist Rosie Perez to launch the ‘When Life Gets Tough, Women Rise Above It’ campaign. As part of the campaign, Pine-Sol awarded a $25,000 donation to Women Empowered, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles that connects, educates and supports women of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring them to give back to their communities.  How could i not support such a cause?
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Red Carpet Ready, Every Day #DivinaLatina

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Unilever and Latina Bloggers Connect. 


Glamour, lights, excitement . . . not exactly! The truth is, as much as I enjoy my job and all that it entails, I thrive on doing work but not so much on those things that are required of me when the camera’s not rolling – I’m talking red carpets and photoshoots; sure that’s all well and fun, but those things can be rather nerve racking. Edit that: VERY nerve racking. What do I wear? How should I do my hair? WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?!

Vianessa Castanos B&W

Photographer: John Mokhtarei
Stylist: Izumi Marie Rosas
Makeup: Vianessa Castanos

Seriously, what am I supposed to do with my hands?

I’ve started working with a stylist, but when it comes to my hair and makeup I tend to do it myself unless I’m going for something highly stylized that I may not have experience with. That being said, I now have a full on professional makeup case full of goodies and I regularly buy new color palettes and tools of the trade to experiment with. Those experiments can add up to a lot of money. Fortunately for me, my favorite foundation is inexpensive and is carried at CVS, so it’s always easy to find and doesn’t hurt my budget. Same with my hair stuff. You may recall that I like to style my hair using TRESemmé Keratin Smooth (another awesome find).


Well you too can look ‘Red Carpet Ready Every Day’ while saving when you become a Divina Latina.  Divina Latina beauty products are available at CVS/pharmacy and are eligible for special ExtraBucks Rewards. Every $50 you spend on beauty products at CVS/pharmacy gets you $5 ExtraBucks.   So you can stock up on all your beauty  needs and save!

Which is what I’m about to run off and do . . . again!


Stand Up Against Domestic Violence

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and The Allstate Foundation

With all of the days and months of recognition for different causes, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening when. But here’s one cause that’s worth remembering and talking about: the month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Domestic violence is one of those taboo subjects that we know exists, but no one really likes to talk about. And with domestic violence affecting 1 in 4 women in the U.S., it’s closer to each of us than maybe we realize. I’ve had friends and family suffer domestic violence, and it’s high time we discuss and tackle the issue.

While physical abuse is the type of domestic violence most people hear about, financial abuse (using finances as a tool of power and control) happens just as frequently.Research shows that the number one reason victims remain in relationships with their abusers is that they lack the financial knowledge and resources they need to break free.


Help me and the Allstate Foundation speak out against domestic violence by visiting www.purplepurse.com and entering the purple purse virtual code 0003 – tell your friends and spread awareness; every time the code is entered, the Allstate Foundation will donate $5 to the YWCA up to $350, 000. Then use the same code to track where else in the country people are taking a stand against domestic violence.





Insane. That’s the only way I can describe the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been meeting with my production team and doing a lot of writing on a totally awesome super secret (for now) project. I haven’t had time for anything else, which I suppose is a good thing since I love to work work work!

One thing I certainly don’t have time for is texting while driving.  Ain’t NOBODY got time for that! The other night I went bowling with some girlfriends at Lucky Strike in Hollywood, an evening of fun hosted by AT&T where we got schooled on just how dangerous it is to text and drive.  I think we have the tendency to think that teenagers are the only culprits, but it’s all of us that fall into the trap of thinking that whatever it is  we have to say can’t wait a few minutes.


Join me and AT&T and take the pledge starting right now to not text while driving.  It’s dangerous and downright selfish.  And if you need any more encouragement to put your phone down while you’re behind the wheel, just take a look at this video:


Birthdays and Hot Days

This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of Latina Bloggers Connect and the makers of ZYRTEC®

Hey Los Angeles, what gives?! I went to the track this morning to run my sprints and almost died.  Okay, I didn’t almost die but I could very well have suffered a heat stroke.  When I got back to my car, my thermostat read 104 degrees.  One Hundred and Four . . . in late August . . . which is sort of the beginning of fall . . . AND IT WASN’T EVEN NOON YET!!. I’ve never been a fan of the heat, but I like it even less when I’m in the midst of an allergic reaction.  I’ve been breaking out in hives and recently, my bottom eye lids have been itching like crazy.  The kicker is that the heat makes it feel worse and I don’t know what I’m allergic to!

Not one to let allergies diminish my fabulousness, I consulted Carmen Ordoñez for some pointers on how to play off my ailments.  My favorite tip to help reduce the appearance of ALLERGY FACE™: place a cold, damp cloth on your face for 10 minutes.  I’ve done this for years and I like my towels ice cold (I put them in the freezer for a bit . . . I also love ice baths, I’m weird).

Created in partnership with the makers of ZYRTEC®, Carmen shares her simple do-it-yourself beauty solutions to help women tackle allergy-related beauty challenges. Check it out:

This past weekend I celebrated my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday! ALLERGY FACE™? Ain’t nobody got time for that!



My Siblings and I at My Great-grandmother’s Party


Saving Face (from Allergies)

This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of Latina Bloggers Connect and the makers of ZYRTEC®

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and my face is . . . blotchy?! That’s right folks, it’s allergy season, which means we all have to deal with the dreaded ALLERGY FACE™! I’ve always considered myself lucky in that I don’t suffer allergies as badly as some people I know, but I’m not immune to the watery eyes, runny nose and flushed skin that seem to strike out of nowhere. 

The biggest issue I face during allergy season is eye redness.  I wear contact lenses (when I’m not wearing my beloved glasses) and I honestly thing that they are allergen magnets – or at least they attract the LA smog like no one’s business.  So that I don’t look like I’m suffering from a bout of rabies, I like to carry eye drops with me at all times.  But, if you suffer from different allergy symptoms, such as skin redness or puffiness, watch this video clip for tips on how to take control of your allergy face and still look amazing:

Check back for more tips from beauty and fashion expert Carmen Ordoñez, @VivaFashion, who has teamed up with the makers of ZYRTEC® to share her personal beauty tips to combat ALLERGY FACE™ !


Mary Kay, Telenovela Style

Growing up I watched novelas (soap operas) religiously! For us, novela time was family time.  The drama, the death glares, the flawless makeup – NOTHING compares to the glamorous entertainment that is a telenovela.  In fact, one of my goals as an actress is to someday be in a novela * hint hint to you creators of fine Spanish language dramas that are reading this*.

As the official sponsor of Univison.com ‘s webnovela Arranque de PasionMary Kay sent me a  make-up set so that I could recreate one of the lead’s looks at home.  Ela, played by the lovely Kate del Castillo, is an edgy race car driver that sports a contoured yet natural look.


In a rare instance of perfect timing, it just so happened that I was invited to a taping of ‘The Talk’ along with some other influential bloggers, so I decided to put my new Mary Kay makeup to the test.


Here’s what I used to create the look:

  • Facial Highlighting Pen #3
  • Bronze Diva Coutouring Powder
  • Nourishine Plus Lip Gloss in Cafè au Lait
  • Chocolate Lip Liner
  • Beach Blonde Cream Eye Color
  • Lash Love Waterproof Mascara
  • Black liner to line my eyes and fill in my brows.
  • image

Arranque de Pasión, La Historia de Ela, will be airing 4/1/13 – 5/3/13 in 5 minute episodes released on Univision.com & UVideos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  For those of you not into watching things on the ‘net, the novela is scheduled to air in its entirety on Sunday, 5/5 @ 10pm EST on Univision!

This post is compensated and in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Mary Kay.  All thoughts and amazing makeup application skills are my own.


Diet to Go

We’re in the throws of awards show season!  From the Emmy’s to the Grammy’s at the start of the year to the Imagen Awards and Oscar’s this weekend, this town has been in a frenzy.  I too have been in a frenzy. 

I’m still figuring out which is going to be my first bikini competition of the season and I’m almost at a decision:  sometime in late April or early May.  While I figure the specifics of that out, I am being mindful of my diet and training and have started cutting back on my carbs.  This week is going to be my first ‘official’ week of competition dieting, so begins the challenge of prepping food ahead of time and staying on my plan.  I decided to try out Diet-to-Go for a few days this past week because, quite frankly, I’ve been having 14 hour days between training, work and auditions and haven’t had the time or the mental capacity to think about food prep.  Diet-to-Go is a meal delivery service that offers a variety of options such as low carb, vegetarian and low fat weekly meal deliveries – and it’s the most inexpensive fresh diet delivery system on the market, which makes choosing it a no-brainer!  I opted for low carb (duh!) and I was pleased not only with the convenience of not having to figure out what to eat when, but also the quality of the food. 

diet to go breakfast

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Oatmeal Shake (Batida de Avena)

My roommate has finally moved in and settled into our new apartment, and with her ever-cheerful Aussie accent and personality, she brought with her her love of snacking.  Well, more specifically, her obessession with drinking almond milk.  I’ve been a fan of almond milk myself for quite sometime because I suffer from mild lactose intolerance – that and when I was 6 years old my mother took my bottle of milk away from me and I vowed to never drink milk again . . . as you can see, I’ve always been a woman of my word as liquid bovine lactose has not touched my lips since. **Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted insight to my personality: I’ve been hardheaded and a bit ridiculous since birth as this little story proves**

silk almond milk

Fortunately for me, we will never suffer an almond milk shortage at my house because it’s as though we have a never ending supply of Silk! That means that I can enjoy making my favorite ‘batida de avena’ (oatmeal shake or smoothie) – the recipe of which was on my blog before I migrated it over to my official site.  So in case you didn’t catch it the first time, here it is, and believe me it’s great for breakfast or as a post workout drink due to the complex carbs and protein content:


Oatmeal Shake (Batida de Avena)
Prep time: 
Total time: 


  • ½ Cup Rolled Oats, Dry
  • ½ Cup Silk Almond Milk
  • 1 C Water
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder (my favorite for this is Plant Fusion in Vanilla)
  • 1 TBS Nut Butter (optional for healthy fats and flavor)
  • Ice optional

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!


If you want more awesome recipe ideas using Silk, take a look at their Facebook page for inspiration!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.



My Sancocho Recipe

It’s finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! With temperatures hovering in the high and mid forties it’s only a matter of time before a flu bug starts going around L.A. and tissues become the season’s hottest accessory.  It must also be the season for mischief as my laptop charger broke as soon as I started typing this post :-/  Fortunately for me I have a fancy phone and friends with fancy computers so I can pick up where I left off, but unfortunately, my food photos are currently inaccessible.

Last night was probably one of the coldest nights I’ve experienced while out here in LaLa land.  Sure, I’ve lived in New England, central Pennsylvania and D.C. and therefore have endured my fair share of blizzards and ice storms, but feeling as though hail could fall from the sky at any minute is not acceptable for Los Angeles.  The fantasy of this being a sunny and warm locale is fading more and more quickly.  And I hate to burst your bubble, but the song ‘It Doesn’t Rain in Southern California’ lied.  It does rain. Quite a bit.  And that’s what throws people’s immune systems for a loop – we can never figure out how to dress for the weather!

One of my favourite immune boosting meals, one that conjures memories of my childhood both in the Caribbean and in snowy Massachussets, is Sancocho.  This traditional Dominican stew is delicious, filling and probably the most well rounded meal you could possibly have – the perfect accompaniment to a chilly day.  I made this for my friend Rachel’s Christmas dinner for the past 2 years in a row.  I can’t remember where I got the recipe, it’s adapted from one I found online, my grandmother’s version and then modified to fit my diet (because I don’t eat pork).

Cuisine: Dominican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8

  • 1 Lb Stewing Beef
  • 1 Lb Beef with Bones (ox tail, short rib are good choices)
  • 1 Lb Chicken Breast
  • 2 green plantains
  • 1 lb of cassava or yuca*
  • 1 lb of white yam*
  • 1 lb of eddoes or yautia*
  • ½ lb of potatoes
  • ½ of an Acorn Squash, peeled
  • ½ C Onion, Chopped
  • ½ C Green Pepper, Chopped
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, Crushed (use fresh garlic)
  • Small bunch of coriander or cilantro
  • 2 large naranja agria (sour oranges)
  • ‘sopita’ aka chicken boullion to taste
  • 4 Quarts of Water

  1. Cut meat into 1 to 2 inch chunks
  2. Toss all meat in a large bowl with the juice of 2 sour oranges (naranja agria), onions, green pepper and garlic and set aside to marinate
  3. Cut all vegetables to 1 inch chunks and set aside
  4. In a large pot, pour a little oil and sear all of the meat
  5. Once you get the meat evenly browned, add onions, peppers and garlic.
  6. Cook meat and aromatics until they start to sweat.
  7. Add half of water and 1 chicken bouillon and cover.
  8. Cook meat over medium heat for 30 minutes.
  9. Add all of the chopped vegetables and remaining water along with another chicken bouillon and a handful of cilantro/coriander leaves, stir and cover.
  10. Stir sancocho every 15 to 20 min and add more water as needed.
  11. Simmer over medium-low heat until all vegetables are tender.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe feeds an army – left overs store very well in the fridge or freezer. OR cut the recipe down by half :-)



This post is compensated and in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Kleenex.  All thoughts are my own!