Tag Archives: How to Kikitiar

YOLO

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You. Only. Live. Once.

It’s a mantra for those of us being BRAVE this year. (And by “us” of course I mean “me”)

I went out for Dim Sum with some people from work, “Kikita, would you like to try chicken feet?”

Bring it.

 

I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to ride on the back of a motorcycle.
I made it happen.
It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

I’ve wanted to have braids in my hair forever. Not corn rows, just braids. I thought I could rock it, but was worried because some white people look REALLY STUPID with them.

There was only one way to find out…

I bought the hair.

I made the appointment.

I sat.

And sat.

And sat.

And then I was done.

I have braids now.

 

My family HATES them. My mother was very diplomatic. She said she loves the braids, she just doesn’t love them on me. My sister, however, said they look horrible on me and she hates the color and I look bad and she proceeded to stomp around.

Most of my man friends love them. A couple asked that I not call them until I take the braids out and go back to being myself.

One idiot went so far as to say, “Why don’t you leave braids to black girls?”

I love them. I love the color of brown. I love how the blue pops and the purple blends. I love how I can tie them in a knot.

I was not ready for how much attention they would bring. It has taken some getting used to. Everywhere I go, eyes are on me. That alone would make me think twice about getting them again. The other reason was just sitting for 8 hours was brutal.

Yes, I can wash them. That was an adventure in itself. I’ve learned that I have quite the sensitive scalp. The moment the water hit the exposed places on my scalp, I got chills. They didn’t stop. It was wild. And DRYING my hair… It’s been two days and my hair is STILL wet. ūüėČ ¬†(Ok, that’s not true, but I swear it took a long time)

If I HAD looked like an idiot (which I don’t think I do), hey, it’s just hair…

Besides, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!!

Life as a Rockstar

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I know plenty of musicians. There is only one or two that I would ever refer to as rockstars, but that is beside the point.

I think a huge part of being a rockstar is about your attitude, how you carry yourself, and how you present yourself.

I never considered myself a rockstar… until recently. I was much better at being a groupie. I made the best groupie. I was that girl you loved to have at your show because it was so obvious how much I loved the music. Musicians love their music and so they love it when someone else loves their music.

Some musicians hide their true-selves under a facade of deep thoughts. These are not rockstars. These are tortured artists.

One can be an artist and a rockstar, but you don’t have to be a rockstar to be an artist. (In fact, there are plenty of rockstars that are NOT artists, but I won’t name any names here.)

Rockstars have a quiet confidence about them. They KNOW they are awesome and, more often than not, can be seen enjoying the music they are making just as much as the audience. They also know how to connect and engage with their audience in ways that the tortured artists are sometimes too afraid (or too distracted by their own music) to do.

My friend, Michael Pancier, is a different kind of artist; he’s a photographer (Yes, of course, he’s a musician, too.)¬†and was kind enough to take me on a photoshoot while I was in Miami.

He made me feel like a rockstar shooting  an album cover.

Here are some of my favorite shots from our shoot. (The ones that I think best capture me… or just make me look like the bad ass timbalera that I am now. ūüėČ )

(Seriously, doesn’t this one look like an album cover?)

And here are my two absolute favorites:

Kikita’s Kryptonite

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Men in white suits.

*swoon*

Then again… “suit” isn’t really required…
Men wearing any form of white tend to have the same effect on me…

Sitting around wearing white, well, only half wearing white, or even half-dressed … in white… yeah…

But really a white suit is nothing without a
double-staircase… and a trumpet…

*purrrrrrrrr*

Dodger Stadium

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On Monday night, I had way too much energy and thought it would be great to go dancing, but couldn’t think of where to go on a Monday night so I went for a walk instead.¬†Well, a walk interspersed with running so I was a hot and sweaty mess by the time I was finished.

Just as I was getting home, my phone rang, “Oye, Cuquita¬†[koo-kee-tah: little paper doll]!! Que bola?!? What are you doing tonight, baby? I just got into town! Let’s go to Floridita!

Damn it. Of course. I had forgotten the best place to go on a Monday night for dancing.
Plus, I hadn’t seen this buddy of mine since he had suggested I get up on stage and represent my Cuban roots so it was a double-bummer.

Being too ridiculously tired to dance (and mildly irritated at being called a pet name), I countered with a suggestion for going dancing on Tuesday. “Ok, Kikita linda, don’t worry. I know the best place! We can go tomorrow no problem!

After church group on Tuesday, I called him and canceled.
5 minutes later, I called back and told him I’d changed my mind.
In those 5 minutes, his ride had left, so if I still wanted to go, I had to pick him up, “But don’t worry, mi Cuquita, I am only 5 minutes away from esteven’s.

Ok, so I got the address, put it into my phone’s GPS and I was off.
Since this was just going dancing with a buddy and Not A Date, I texted another buddy and let him know I’d be there, “Ok, sexy, but I’m leaving at 11 so hurry!” (Apparently, my buddies had not received the message that if you are just an un-interested buddy, you should not be using terms of endearment.)

A buddy from church started sending me lines from a TV Show we both love which was messing with my GPS.
My dad was emailing me about some other thing which was also messing with my GPS.
My buddy who was already dancing was chatty which was ALSO messing with my GPS.

I missed my exit.
I was now lost in some part of Los Angeles that a beautiful blonde should probably not be lost.
I pulled over to get my GPS working.
I got back on the freeway.
People kept texting me.
My GPS crapped out again.
I looked up and I was at the gates of Dodger Stadium.
I’ve never been to Dodger Stadium.

I finally found my Visiting Buddy’s house, and we were off!

Visiting Buddy: I saw your boyfriend the other day! Well, your ex!
Me: Ummm… which one?
Me (to myself): Which of my exs would he even know?
Visiting Buddy: Do you remember Fulano’s dad?
Me: What the … why are you calling him my boyfriend?
Visiting Buddy: Didn’t he take you outside once and …
Me: OH. MAH. GOODNESS. YES!! He pulled out ‘CUBA’ and kept telling me to touch it. Damn, for an old man… Seriously, it was bigger than my forearm!
Visiting Buddy: HAHAHAHAHA!! Ay! Honey, that was the turn back there…

We missed three turns while talking about … “CUBA.”

Finally, we made it to esteven’s and my Dance Buddy bogarted me for two songs. He would have gone for three, but I felt bad double-dancing when I hadn’t seen my Visiting Buddy in so long. Dance Buddy left and I turned my attention back to my Visiting Buddy.
Since the place was pretty empty, people couldn’t help but stare at two Cubans doing their thing.
And I couldn’t believe how much I’d never known about him… like that he’d been a political prisoner, or part of the Cuban military, or that he was a Bounty Hunter in Vegas. UN.REAL.

On the ride back to his house (well, his brother’s house), I mentioned how much I LOVE cigars. His brother just happened to have some and would love to give me one, but “Come here, Cuquita, I want to show you something first.

The something required a hike.
Did I mention I was wearing 5″ platforms?
It turns out I am quite stubborn.
Bounty Hunter: I’ll carry you. Trust me, I can do it.
Me: Hell no. I want to do it myself.
And I did.
When we got to the top of the hill it was a breath-taking view of L.A., particularly … Dodger Stadium.

Bounty Hunter: Look, Kikita! Whenever my brother or I miss Cuba, we come up here and it reminds of being home.
Me: It really is beautiful. And I was just thinking to myself this morning… you know what I want to do tonight? See Dodger Stadium.
Bounty Hunter: Ay, Cuquita! You are too funny! Since we’re Cuban, I knew you would love to see a baseball stadium, but look at the moon! I bet no one has ever shown you the moon before either… isn’t it romaaantic?
Me: You’re right. I have NEVER seen the moon before. It’s SOOOO romantic.
Me (too myself): Cubans. Baseball. The man had a point… Uh oh. This buddy is about to make his move out of the “buddy” zone… shit, shit, SHIT!

Bounty Hunter the Visiting Buddy made his move and now his intentions were clear. Apparently, I had been On a Date and completely missed it.
After a brief interlude (VERY brief because there was no way I was going to let this Bounty Hunter get anywhere at the top of a hill in the middle of the night), I mentioned that it was a school night and I needed to go. Going down a hill in 5″ platforms is even MORE difficult than going up, so I finally gave in and let him carry me down.

When we got to the house, his brother was waiting for us.
Bounty Hunter: Hermano! This is the lovely Kikita, she’s Cuban like us and loves cigars. Can you hook her up?

And he did.

I stayed for another 20 minutes out of sheer politeness. One doesn’t accept such a fine gift without spending time visiting for a while, but once hands started to get a little more handsy, it was my cue.

Bounty Hunter: Can I see you tomorrow? Or when are you coming to Vegas? I can get you a free room, just let me know. Ay, Kikita! Do you have any idea how amazing you are?
Me: Thank you for everything. Especially the cigar… AND for showing me Dodger Stadium.
Me (to myself): Yeah… just a little. ūüėČ

A few days later I would find out I had been given the Best. Cigar. Ever.
Dodger Stadium and a delicious cigar, what more could a girl ask for?

How To Make Paella

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Way back at the beginning of December, Living Social had a deal for a cooking class at The Wine Artist.

I saw it. Thought about it. Decided it would be more fun with a friend. Realized I couldn’t come up with someone I would want to cook with because that has always been such a special thing for me. I cooked for Kaima. I cooked with O.D. Churroman. I cooked alone. That was it.

So I got on with my day.

Two hours later, my salsa dancing friend (Donna Martinez – whose has one of those names that you have to say her full name… and in quite the nasal tone) sent me an email asking if I would be interested in taking a cooking class with her because Living Social had a great deal. Since I already knew I had wanted to do it, I decided to just go for it. We bought it, booked it for January, and spent the next few weeks talking about how excited we were.

On the day of our class, Donna Martinez updated her Facebook status talking about how excited she was for her cooking class and proceeded to enjoy the ensuing commentary of how amazing she was and how she MUST cook for everyone. It seemed, Donna Martinez forgot to mention that I would be joining her. Of course, that worked to my advantage because then I would not have anyone demanding I cook for them, especially since none of them know that I only cook for special people.

Because Donna’s heritage is Mexican and and I’m Cuban, we decided to take the “Taste of Spain” class where we would learn to make:
Sangría
Spinach & Cheese Empanadas
Gazpacho
And… Paella*.

The Wine Artist is a winery in Lake Forest. (Who knew that Lake Forest had one?) It is a charming little place where they make and bottle their own wine. They even have Wine Bottling Events where you can design your own label, pick your own wine, cork it, slap the label on, and take it home.

It is SO. COOL.

Plus, they have all kinds of cooking classes and there is wine with every class. Yes, you read that correctly. Wine with every class.

I am not the biggest wine drinker, but some of these wines were DELICIOUS!! And I am in love with the idea of creating my own labels.

The first thing the chef/teacher/owner (MJ Hong) did was ask “Red or White?” and pour us all a glass. She explained that she likes to keep the classes between 8-10 people so that the intimate and dinner party feeling isn’t lost. Besides, if you have as much fun as we did with total strangers, how much more fun could be had with a handful of your closest friends?

Everyone got a station and a job. Not that we were assigned jobs it went more like:
I’ll chop the bell peppers!
I’ll cut the fruit**!
I’ll handle the cucumber***!” (yes, of course that was Donna)

Once the sangria was … marinating?

Once the fruit was chopped and in a pitcher soaking up the wine and other alcohols and the gazpacho was chilling, it was time for the empanadas.

MJ explained that a ruler and a pie cutter were the easiest way to cut the dough into a good size for empanadas. She suggested we do triangles because it was easier and didn’t waste any dough, but that if we were going to make more than one kind of empanada (e.g. spinach and cheese, meat, mushrooms) that having one kind as a triangle and another as a half moon would be an easy way to distiguish the two.

Now that the empanadas were baking, we set down to “work” on the paella****.

And while our paella was cooking, we enjoyed our fresh-out-of-the-oven spinach & cheese empanadas and our gazpacho.

Did you know gazpacho can be served with tortilla chips?
I didn’t, but Kevin did.

So, Paella.
Just about the easiest thing ever to make.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
  • 4 oz of Boneless Chicken – cubed into small pieces
  • 1 Large Onion – finely chopped
  • 4 oz Chorizo Sausage – crumbled and with the casing removed (or you could go with Traditional Spanish Chorizo and not crumble it)
  • 5 cloves of Garlic (although, we used 10 because I like garlic)¬†– minced
  • 2 Bell Peppers (red or green) – cut into thin strips
  • 3 Tomatoes – seeded and chopped (you could cheat and use canned diced tomatoes if you wanted)
  • 4 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Saffron
  • 2 cups MEDIUM grain rice (uncooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper – as little or as much as you want
  • 8 oz of Uncooked Shrimp – peeled and deveined (or keep the ends on if you want, but peel them for sure)
  • 1/2 lb of Mussels – cleaned and debearded (or buy them cleaned and open already to save yourself time)
  • Chopped Parsley¬†– for garnish
  • Lemon Wedges – to serve

Contrary to what you may be thinking, you DO NOT need a paella pan.

Does it make it easier? Maybe a little.
Does it look cooler? Sure.

You can make it in a frying pan, just remember that wider is better than deeper. ūüėČ
You want a shallow-ish pan otherwise your rice won’t cook all the way through.
However, if you feel like you really want the Paella Pan in order to score “Cool Points” then don’t worry about spending hundreds of dollars on one. You can find a great pan at Target.com for around $30. OR, if you’re already going to special order the Spanish Chorizo, you could order the exact size paella pan you want from LaTienda.com.

So, how do you make paella?

Simple.

Heat the oil in the pan.
Brown the chicken.
Add the chorizo and onions. Cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the garlic, bell peppers, annd tomatoes. Stir fry for a few more minutes.

Meanwhile…
Heat the chicken broth in a sauce pan and, once heated, add the saffron. (This way, the saffron will color everything a bit more evenly.)

Stir the rice in to the paella pan and sauté for 5 more minutes.
Pour in the broth.
Add turmeric, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper to suite your taste buds.

Add the shrimp on top.
Add the mussels on top.

Make sure just a bit of¬†broth from¬†the paella¬†gets into the shell so the actual mussel cooks, but it still should be sitting on top of the paella, not drowning in it – you don’t want to take too much of the broth away from the rice.

Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
(Until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.)
The bottom will burn a little. That is the best part. It does not mean you failed.

Top with parsley.
Garnish with lemon wedges.

Serve.

Enjoy.

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*My fascination with paella first occured when I saw a Pinky and the Brain episode where Brain says, “Pinky, are you thinking what I’m thinking?
And Pinky replies, “I think so, Brain, but how are we going to get the Spice Girls into the paella?

**Fruit for the sangria.

***Cucumber for the gazpacho.

****Up until recently, no one could get me to eat anything that came out of the ocean. Up until the night we made paella, I had never had mussel before. Luckily, I’m not allergic. Oh, and I eat seafood now. ūüôā

La Vie en Rose OR Kikita’s Happy New Year

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I didn’t really want to go to Palm Springs.

Ok, yes I did… sort of.

I thought it would be fun. Until I had this long week that kept getting longer and then all I wanted was to stay home, alone.

And I didn’t think it would happen.

I had heard my abuela would be home. Which is fine. She just watches the ball drop and then goes to bed, but I was a little embarrassed to have anyone witness me doing all of my silly traditions.

So, because I wasn’t entirely sure how my New Year’s Eve 2011 was going to go, I decided to begin celebrating early. So I went to dinner with a buddy of mine who had also had a long and hard week. We went out for Cuban food because he’s nice and knows how much I like it (and because EVERYONE loves Cuban food – it’s delicious). And then we went dancing. Well… we went to a local place that plays salsa and bachata music, but we didn’t dance much because it was stupid crowded and neither one of us really felt like dancing anyway. (However, I DID run into my timbales teacher and we danced a salsa – he is what I like to call a “stop motion dancer” and I had a tough time following him, especially since he was trying to dance “on 2,” and worried that he was judging me and thinking, “Damn, esta Cubana doesn’t have any rhythm so I have my work cut out for me – and later we danced a cha cha. Since I knew he was an “on 2” dancer I knew he would be fun for a cha cha and I had no other options because I am picky about who I cha cha with and my favorite person wasn’t there and the 2 other people I tolerate were also not there.)

Anyway, I left early, went home, and watched TV until I fell asleep.

Today I woke up with a splitting headache. It was practically a repeat of Halloween and I was less than thrilled. So I spent most of the day in bed which was what I had planned on doing anyway, but now it was because my head hurt.

Around 6pm I decided that I needed to take a shower and at least attempt to feel human again. My Aunt Alina (I call her “Aunta”) was on abuela patrol, but abuela was demanding to stay home until midnight and watch the ball drop. So we sat and chatted and I decided it was time for some evening Taka Taka. By the time I was finished making the caf√©, I was feeling better and abuela had decided¬†she was¬†tired and ready to go.

As I set the red tacita on the table for abuela, I noticed there was a giant rose in a vase from the Gemini rose bush I bought for her years ago.
And the chicken salad (that is cute, but looks unedible) she makes every year had a red flower on it instead of her usual clock almost at midnight.
And this year the grapes were red.
And the little bottle of champagne I had bought for myself was called “Rose¬† Regale.”

And she referred to Aunta as her “Red Rose.” (I had never heard that before.)
I don’t believe in coincidence.
And I have no idea what all this rose stuff means, but it makes me hopeful for 2012. I am sure it means SOMETHING. And I get to spend the whole year finding out what!

And since every year I have a theme song, I have chosen THIS as my theme song for 2012. (or maybe it chose me?)

Because I couldn’t wait for my “Vie en Rose” to start, I celebrated “On Cuban Time” at 9pm.
I dressed up.
I wore the orange with hot pink lace white polka-dotted thong instead of yellow or red.
I ate grapes.
I toasted with my rose champagne and said “El a√Īo que viene, estamos en Cuba.”

(Please forgive the blurriness and try¬†not to blame the champagne. Let’s blame the running around like a¬†crazy person and trying to document the moment instead.)

I ran outside with a bag over my shoulder and all the way to my mailbox to put money inside (in 5″ sparky heels, no less).
I didn’t have a bucket of dirty water handy because I didn’t mop the floors so instead I took a couple of used coffee cups from this morning, filled them with water, and dumped that water out.

I’m leaving¬†the bag outside and the money in the mailbox until morning.

I came back inside, changed into yoga pants, and played my timbales for an hour.

I am successfully Kikitiando my way through another New Year’s Eve.

Plus, look who made a guest appearance tonight?

A Christmas Miracle

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When I found the black dress for my Christmas party I was super excited.

It was a bit of a departure for me as far as dresses go. Tight and short black dresses typically just exacerbate the genetic betrayal that is my legacy; however, this particular dress looked pretty great. The top was black, but sparkly and I felt like the best way to make it a Christmas dress would be red accessories. I had this mental picture of red glittery shoes and red and gold bangles to match and really pull it all together. Because you can’t wear bright red shoes with a black dress and gold jewelry. Red has to be in the jewelry, too, in order to pull the eyes back up from the shoes.

I had a very clear picture in my head.

I looked for red glitter shoes and kept coming up empty.

So I settled for the gold glitter shoes and thought “Well, I can still do the red and gold bangles and earrings and it’ll keep it Christmas. Then I’ll just take out the red for New Year’s.”

I was fine with that plan. And then the red shoes found me. So I got them.

And that is how the Great Hunt for Red and Gold Bangles started.
Endless hours of walking from store to store only to be disappointed.

I finally found bracelets that were not quite what I had in mind, but they would work.

As I was leaving the mall, a necklace at a store that specializes in silver caught my eye. Now that my red and gold bangle mission was over, I allowed myself to go into the silver store. (Because, why would I go into a silver store when hunting for gold?)

I noticed that the store had branched out. There were many more colourful necklaces in there than I remembered and I was slowly pulled deeper and deeper into the store. (It’s actually not a very deep store, but it was a slow pull.)

And, there, along the back wall, were bangles. Every color of bangle. Red. Gold. Green. Blue. Purple. RED. GOLD.

I cried. (Ok, I didn’t CRY; my eyes filled with tears, but I held them back.)

I know¬†that not having the exact accessories you want¬†is a total “1st World, White Girl” problem, but that is not really the point.

I had a dream. A picture in my head.

I¬†had been¬†content with the gold shoes, but then I got the red ones I’d dreamed about. And I had been content with the red and gold bracelets I had JUST bought thinking that I was never going to find the bracelets I had dreamed about. I was still excited.

But then my dream came true.

It was such a little thing.

A small and simple wish, but it happened. And right about the time I was giving up. Right about the time I was settling for less.

Honestly? It felt like a personal Christmas gift sent directly from God. *blush*

THAT is why I cried.

Because if he is willing to give me¬†my silly wish of¬†red shoes and red and gold bangles, then there’s a good chance he’d be happy to give me some of my “real” wishes, too.