Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

Postcards from England

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a proper vacation, mainly because this last year has been a bit of a whirlwind: a big job promotion, adjusting to a new nighttime work schedule and elevating the blog, both aesthetically and efficiency-wise. I’ve spent the past year trying to make “Shireen’s Favorite Things” look and sound better, all while trying to surround myself with more positive, loving and creative people.

While it’s been a time of tremendous personal and professional growth, it’s also been a time of hardcore sacrifice. I work most weekends, use vacation time for blog excursions and find myself researching and writing during my true downtime. It may sound a bit crazy (my co-workers actually refer to it as “fashion madness,”) but I like to call it – incredibly lucky. That’s because…

A few years ago, I spent all of my spare time in bed, sick (with Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome) and consequently, trying to get well. It was an impossibly sad time. I lost seconds, minutes, hours, weeks and months of precious time that I can never get back, not to mention a bit of my sanity and a lot of money (as I poured everything I had into finding answers and doctors who could heal me.) Truth of the matter is, there were simply no vacations or even talk of such frivolities; being ill and getting well was a full-time job. My life depended on it and I took it seriously.

After a few years of doctors, treatments and physical therapy, I rallied and miraculously recovered into a wiser, tougher, more compassionate and extremely different human being. If you’re a regular blog reader, you know the story and you know how my illness changed me and why the blog means so much to me: expressing my grief over the person I used to be and trying to fully understand the person I was becoming in my writing gave me solace and a sense of purpose.

As I grew well, the blog grew along with me (as I mentioned a few weeks ago in my last entry.) “Shireen’s Favorite Things” became what it was always meant to be: stories about people, places and things that could enlighten and enrich the mind, body and spirit. Okay, okay (I know my editor is rolling his eyes right about now,) what I mean is, sometimes the blog and the social media that works in tandem with it is simply about a fashionable collaboration you share with the world around you.

So, imagine my delight when James Woodley, photographer extraordinaire and my better half, recommended a true holiday. I laughed at the prospect. “Yeah, sure. I’ll go with you,” I told him point blank. I mean, why not? I was finally better, my job was great and the blog had never been so self sufficient. I chuckled when he told me he was looking into tickets to visit his homeland – England. I had been there so many times (for work) it seemed trite, but I humored him and smiled at his enthusiasm.

Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com.

(Special thanks to Kore Boutique, Hollen & Jen’s Vintage Showroom, Carlos Marrero and Bungalow 33 Boutique.)

Twitter: @ShireenSandoval
IG: @ShireenSandoval
ssandoval@wsvn.com
www.shireensandoval.com

Photographer: James Woodley
Twitter: @BritFloridian
IG: @BritFloridian
www.James-Woodley.com

Styling/Co-Producer/Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

I wasn’t always obsessed with butterflies. My fascination with the delicate/mysterious creatures started around the time my blog began (which happened to be when I was recovering from a major illness and some personal tragedies.) In fact, I was touch and go for a long time, struggling with Guillain-barre’ Syndrome, the subsequent IVIG treatments for recovery, the loss of a baby and the heartbreaking end to my marriage.

Back then, my fashion blog wasn’t just about what to wear, it was about how to style and navigate life; focusing on the mind, body and spirit. That’s when my butterflies came to me; more specifically, in my dreams. Matter-of-fact, for more than a month I had the same recurring dream of vomiting dozens and dozens of black butterflies. I actually wrote about it in one of my more popular blogs, “45 Days and Nights of Black Butterflies.”

I can’t lie, the dream scared the crap out of me as I thought it was about death, but after consulting a well-known dream specialist, she informed me that my black butterflies were actually a gift. Apparently, it was a sign of a very rare and powerful transformation. I took the dream in stride and hoped for the best, but then, something magical happened. I began that so-called TRANSFORMATION.

I didn’t know it at the time, but all the “Pieces of Me” that had been ripped apart: my body (which was ravaged by illness,) my heart (which was torn apart from the grief of not being a mother anymore) and my soul (which was empty from the loss of my first true love,) all started the long, slow process/journey of healing. I became a totally different kind of person. A person I didn’t really know anymore, but one I liked a lot better than the person I used to be.

As the months and years went by, I went through different phases of overt kindness, enhanced spirituality and a strong, sophisticated sense of self. I found deeper meaning in the little things I loved about life and relished, even savored, the bigger ones. I drew intense boundaries for my mental health and physical well-being and concentrated on building up my body again, while also learning to accept its limitations.

Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com or shop the jewelry looks at Etsy.com/shop/ginablackart.

Twitter: @GinaBlackArt
Instagram: @GinaBlack_art
FB: Gina Black Art

A special thanks to the Sagamore Hotel
www.SagamoreHotel.com
Twitter: @sagamorehotel
IG: @sagamorehotel

Twitter: @ShireenSandoval
IG: @ShireenSandoval
ssandoval@wsvn.com
www.shireensandoval.com

Photographer: James Woodley
Twitter: @BritFloridian
IG: @BritFloridian
www.James-Woodley.com

Hair & Make-up: Odette Hernandez
Twitter: @Odettehernandz
IG: @Odett_herndz

Styling/Co-Producer/Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com

Intern/Assist: Nick Martinez

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: Michael Mina 74 inside the Fontainebleau Hotel

Michael Mina 74

Michael Mina 74

Michael Mina 74

Michael Mina 74

What:

Michael Mina 74, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach Florida, 33140

Why:

Mysterious, dark and glamorous; Michael Mina 74 is my kind of hang-out. The place oozes fabulousness by way of one of my favorite Miami Beach hot spots, the Fontainebleau Hotel. It’s snuggled into the lower level of the “Rat Pack”‘s former stomping grounds: think old school Hollywood Charm meets modern day sophistication. Friday night Spotlight, here I come!

I started my evening with a crisp and refreshing “Pimm’s Cup 74″ (made with plymouth gin, pineapple, Pimm’s no. 1, lemon and mint.) I’ve always been a big Pimm’s lover, especially as I’ve frequented London (UK) a lot during the summer, but finding a drink stateside that compares is almost impossible. Until now! “MM74″ hit the nail on the head big time with its version. It’s a definite must-try!! Yes, I’m a writer and I just used two exclamation points (insert crying emoji here.) Oh, how I love breaking the rules.

“The Kramer” (a new spin on the cosmo) was interesting and fizzy with a pretty aftertaste that lingers on the tongue (made with vodka, st. germaine, elderflower, aperol and lime.) It came complete with a lovely flower-pressed ice cube. Beautiful and delish; love it. Austin Powers would totally be jelly to know I was drinking the fanciful “Goldfinger” without him (made with bombay sapphire east, hangar one straight, tempus fugit kina l’avion d’or.) Don’t ask me about that last ingredient I just rattled off, all I know is this drink is decadent, mind-blowing and I savored every last drop. Can you say “another round, please?”

BTW, “MM74″ has a really cool “Social Hour” where you can dine on complimentary snacks and drink for less; I tried a few things from that menu first. Everyone in my crew loved the “Lamb Brochettes” (little lamb meatballs with date chutney and onion yogurt,) but my heart belonged to the “Mini Caprese Salad” (made with toybox tomatoes stuffed with whipped burrata, topped with aged balsamic and basil pistou.)

For Miami Spice, “MM74″ gave me a divine sampling of its menu: the meaty “Summer Crab Roll” (made with alaskan king, jumbo lump and snow crab with sambal aioli and warm ponzu butter) was extra decadent and the “Scallop Ditalini” (made with bay scallops, ditalini pasta, pesto and aged parmesan air) was my absolute favorite. The texture was lively and the pasta itself was unbelievably buttery. This dish absolutely melted in my mouth. I was smitten from the first bite.

My first dessert was a glass filled with “Churros” (topped with cinnamon sugar and served with dulce de leche.) It was total yummy goodness. Next was the decadent “Blueberry Clafoutis” (with vanilla anglaise and lemon crumble.) Hmmm….hello, lover. It must have been good because that’s how I usually address my designer shoes.

From the atmosphere to the presentation (and let’s not forget about the top quality taste,) “Michael Mina 74″ is definitely one of my favorite things. Matter of fact, I can’t wait to go back. Especially to celebrate Miami Spice! (Yes, another exclamation point.)

Where:

Inside the uber-trendy and fabulously chic (aforementioned) Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. It’s just to the right as you walk inside the old school, Art Deco entrance. You’ll see a sign with the restaurant’s name and a winding staircase that leads down. Just follow it.

The hotel always has valet, but pack your patience as it’s always a bit of a waiting game on the beach. Street parking just isn’t an option unless you’re willing to walk. There’s a garage about four long blocks away. Maybe it’s worth walking off dessert, but I prefer the valet. It’s some of the best people watching the Magic City has to offer.

When:

Sunday-Thursday 6pm-1am, Friday & Saturday 6pm-2am.

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.W.C. Fields

reservations: 305-674-4636
website: www.michaelmina.net
Instagram: @chefmichaelmina
Twitter: @MM74Miami
FB: Michael Mina

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Producer: Jessie Rosario

Dress: Chloé
Shoes: Bebe
Jewelry: Koko & Palenki
Purse: a gift from my mom!

Wanna dress me or provide accessories for Spotlight and get your boutique some exposure? If so, private message my stylist, Jackie Kay, on Instagram @JackieKay2013 (serious inquiries only.)

Special thanks to Brustman Carrino Public Relations

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

Right off the Bus

This may sound a little odd, but I love me a good bus. Matter of fact, buses/trailers have played a big part in my career as an entertainment/fashion reporter. Some of the most famous and fashionable people on the planet (rock stars and movie stars) spend a lot of time on the road or on movie sets and well, interviewing people of this caliber means you gotta get on the bus/trailer and just go with the flow or better yet, the ride!

One of my first cool bus experiences was with The Black Eyed Peas, when they were first becoming famous. They were parked outside the American Airlines Arena (getting ready to open for a big headliner,) when they invited me onboard. They showed me around their “house on wheels” and Fergie even gave me a peak into her private changing area (which was a flimsy curtain draped at the tail end of the bus.) Believe me, it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was fun and their infectious personalities and music made them a household name.

Before I interview a big movie star or a big movie director, a bus is almost always involved. Whether I’m traipsing my way across the country to New York or Los Angeles or zipping my way across the Atlantic Ocean to London, I’m always bused (alongside my fellow entertainment journalists/producers) to see the movie I’m reporting on, the red carpet I’ll be working and sometimes, even to the interview location itself.

A lot of provocative conversations go down between journalists on those buses. In fact, you can learn a helluva lot about celebrities and who they really are (the way they interact with reporters, the ones who flirt and most importantly, the ones who are all smoke and mirrors verses the ones who are totally captivating and gracious.) Man, I’ve learned a lot about being an entertainment reporter simply by being on the road. BTW, I always call those bus sessions: “Wheeling & Spilling.”

Then of course, there’s the relegate ‘hang-out with the actor/actress’ on the set of a movie or a television show. There’s always a lot of down time in between filming scenes, so what better way to get to know a person then to spend time with them in their bus/trailer. I find this spectacularly interesting, because you can get a real glimpse into someone’s personality. Moreover, the famous tend to be much more themselves when they’re in someplace safe (in their dressing room,) which is usually on wheels.

Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com or shop the looks by tracking down the fashion bus on their social media!

www.bungalow33boutique.com
Instagram: @bungalow33boutique
Twitter: @Bungalow33
FB: Bungalow 33 Mobile Boutique

Twitter: @ShireenSandoval
IG: @ShireenSandoval
ssandoval@wsvn.com
www.shireensandoval.com

Photographer: James Woodley
Twitter: @BritFloridian
IG: @BritFloridian
www.James-Woodley.com

Hair & Make-up: Odette Hernandez
Twitter: @Odettehernandz
IG: @Odett_herndz

Styling/Co-Producer/Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: Pasta Vino Restaurant & Lounge

Pasta Vino Restaurant & Lounge

©James Woodley Photography 
www.james-woodley.com

Pasta Vino Restaurant & Lounge

Pasta Vino Restaurant & Lounge

What:

Pasta Vino, 1624 NE 79th Street Causeway, North Bay Village, Florida 33141

Why:

Everyone is extremely warm, welcoming and the owner, Yiannis Devert, who also happens to be the Executive Chef, is like a character straight out of a movie. He’s worldly, educated and extremely charming. Think a handsome Robert De Niro (from about twenty years ago,) mixed with the modern day smarts of Elliott Gould, who most recently played Reuben Tishkoff in the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies.

Yiannis is all about whipping up a feast and believe you me, he wants you to eat. He NEEDS you to eat. It’s all about being happy and yes, it’s that simple. I’d like to say my experience at “Pasta Vino” was straight-up Italian, but I’d be totally lying. It seemed to be a mix of influences: French, Greek, Italian and Thai. Not only was it adventurous, it was a true reflection of his heritage and all the places he’s had the privilege of living or visiting.

I started my meal with a tall glass of the house Merlot and an extremely fresh “Carvino Ceviche.” It was the perfect blend of lemony, lime citrus with a light kick. With that being said, Yiannis isn’t one of those chefs who lists (all) the ingredients in his plates; a lot of it is pure chance. In other words, what he feels like fixing is on the menu and those are coined “specials.” For the record, I love that kind of unpretentious attitude.

Next, I tried the “Calamari Salad” (which is a warm appetizer and on the menu.) Like most items at “Pasta Vino,” it was a large, decadent helping. Definitely big enough to share. The “Salmon Tartare” was an interesting blend of sweet and spicy ginger and reminded me of something I would easily gobble up at my favorite local Thai restaurant. The “Beef Carpaccio” was pretty straightforward (with arugula, shaved parmesan and a lemon dressing.)

For my main course, I actually tried three dishes: “The Risotto Al Funghi” (with mixed mushrooms, parmesan cheese and truffle oil,) the “Lasagna Fiorentina” which came with a charming garnish which seemed like a pressed potato latke with a spruce of greenery in the middle of it (the lasagna is baked in layers with ground beef, ricotta, parmesan cheese and tomato sauce) and last but not least, the evening’s special “Ossobuco” (with veal, veggies and a white wine sauce.)

The night ended with two sweet treats: a dainty Tiramisu (made with Amaretto and Kahlua) and the oh-so-fruity “Strawberry Melba,” which is a typical French dessert (made with whipped cream, fruit and ice cream.) Despite the restaurant opening just a few months ago, the bar was lively during dinner and a few regulars lingered at nearby tables with good conversation and wine.

Where:

“Pasta Vino” is located on the 79th Street Causeway, which I’m thrilled about, as I work just a block down the street. It’s a sleepy location, tucked away in a fairly quiet strip mall. Honestly, though, a place like this is long overdue. We have hardly any options in North Bay Village when it comes to a relaxed, but delicious lunch or dinner. Parking is plentiful just in front of the restaurant. Cheers!

When:

Monday to Friday 11:30am-10:30pm, Saturday 5:00pm-11:00pm and Sunday 5:00pm-10:00pm.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.Michelangelo

Reservations 305-763-8608
www.pasta-vino.com
Twitter: @PastaVinoMiami
IG: @pastavinomiami
FB: Pasta Vino Miami

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Producer: Jessie Rosario
Photographer: James Woodley
Stylist: Jackie Kay

Wardrobe & Jewelry provided by www.lilacandlilies.com
Twitter: @LilacAndLilies
IG: @lilacandlilies_boutique
FB: Lilac And Lilies Boutique

clutch by Monsoon, London
us.monsoon.co.uk

special thanks to 24 Group PR