Gina Ruiz

Girl Power!

It's okay to be a #chingona Photo courtesy of the #WWE

Growing up, I was definitely NOT empowered. I was shy and retiring (don’t laugh, it’s true!).  I was afraid to meet people or talk, so much so that my kindergarten teacher in the early ’60s told my mother she thought I was “retarded.” I overheard and was mortified and began talking in class so no one would think that again. I remain garrulous to this day. STOP laughing.

I am half Mexican-American and half Gringa (Anglo-Saxon descent with some Irish thrown in as well as Scandinavian, according to my family tree and DNA). My Mexican grandparents instilled a great pride in me for all things Latino while my very WASPy grandparents on my father’s side did their best to wash that out, by citing genealogy, references to relations in England and American Revolutionary patriots as well as Civil War captains (for the Union) and looking down on my Mexican/Catholic heritage and my mother. They came from a time and place where this was ok, where Latinos and/or Mexicans were seen as lesser beings. I always knew it wasn’t ok, but I loved and admired them too,  so it was confusing; contributing much to my shyness and low self-worth.

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Experimenting with El Yucateco Habanero Sauces in Traditional Recipes


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

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Pasta e fagioli

In this house a lot of cooking happens. Sometimes it’s me making jam and the family recipes I love to create or experiment with and sometimes it is Gianfranco Minuz, a Michelin-starred chef that graces my kitchen with his beautiful cooking. We learn from each other. I delight in showing him the Mexican food that is obscure, different or just spicy like habanero and he loves showing me his Italian recipes from the Tre Venezia area he hails from.

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The sauce was easy to find

This time we were working in the kitchen together, yet apart. We had a couple of bottles of El Yucateco Habanero Sauce that we’d bought at Walmart and the challenge was to create or re-create a recipe utilizing the sauce.  I had the red, he had the green and we each decided to go with a very traditional and simple dish from our respective cultures. I made a very simple, yet delicious and typically sweet guacamole with green grapes and peaches, while he made pasta e fagioli or pasta with beans.

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Who Wants to Win Gladys Knight Tickets?

Gladys Knight (photo courtesy of the L.A. Phil)

Gladys Knight (photo courtesy of the L.A. Phil)

Are you in the L.A. area and free Friday night?

Love the Hollywood Bowl? How about a little soul?

I’m giving away tickets in a quick turnaround giveaway. Entries close at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Drumroll…… tickets are to

Gladys Knight & Cool and The Gang!

The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, has been R&B, soul, and jazz royalty for decades, garnering seven Grammys with hits such as “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Plus, the famously funky Kool & the Gang “Get Down On It” with a “Celebration” in a double bill that can’t be beat.
Friday, August 8th at 8pm

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember, be in the L.A. area, get your entries in by midnight and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mel’s Mini Mart

Brought to us by the creative minds at OREO, “Mel’s Mini Mini Mart” tells the story of a sad little mini mart that no one ever wants to visit. Until one day, a family of four stops by and discovers a well-kept secret inside Mel’s.  The day this family discovered the shop, something that others had not; they filled up their van with boxes and boxes of the tiny treat and the news of Mel’s started to spread worldwide, now everyone knows how much good is inside. The moral remains it’s not how you’re built, it’s what’s inside that makes you wonder-filled.

Mel’s Mini Mini Mart 

Get more mini goodness at Oreo Minis!
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New Summer Shows at the Hollywood Bowl

This summer is hot, sticky and filled with music.  The Hollywood Bowl has a great line-up for August/September and I’m looking forward to beautiful nights under the stars to listen and forget for a time, just how hot and humid it is.


August/September Shows
Smooth Summer Jazz 
The Hollywood Bowl proudly presents its summer super-concert featuring the finest smooth jazz artists.  
Artists to be Featured: BWB – Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown, Boney James, Keiko Matsui, Eric Benét and The Ohio Players
Sunday, August 17th at 6pm


Gladys Knight (photo courtesy of the L.A. Phil)

Gladys Knight (photo courtesy of the L.A. Phil)

Gladys Knight & Kool and The Gang

The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, has been R&B, soul, and jazz royalty for decades, garnering seven Grammys with hits such as “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Plus, the famously funky Kool & the Gang “Get Down On It” with a “Celebration” in a double bill that can’t be beat.   
Friday, August 8th & Saturday, August 9th at 8pm



Elvis Costello (photo courtesy of the LA Phil)

Elvis Costello & Ben Folds

Prolific and evocative musical icon Elvis Costello delves into his remarkably diverse catalog. Multi-platinum-selling singer/songwriter Ben Folds performs new music, along with his pop hits in orchestral arrangements.  
Friday, September 5th and Saturday, September 6th at 8pm



Trey Anastasio (photo courtesy of the LA Phil)

Trey Anastasio

Trey Anastasio is a founding member of the Grammy®-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish and has long incorporated classical elements in the band’s compositions as well as throughout his solo work. This innovative and exciting performance will feature orchestral versions of compositions written throughout Anastasio’s 30-year career.  
Friday, September 26th at 7:30pm
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A Tablet in the Kitchen

Chef Gianfranco's Tumeric Ice Cream

I am building a brand for a chef I know. Michelin-starred Italian chef, Gianfranco Minuz knows that brand-building and social media are important. He’s writing a book that will include his vast wealth of recipes, techniques and stories but knows that the road to publishing, let alone selling a cookbook is difficult to say the least. He knows that what will give him an edge beyond his fabulous food, is his personal brand.  And so we work on it.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube.  It takes a team and really good equipment. His team consists of me, his daughter Chiara, musical wizard Alan Ishii and of course, the chef himself. I have been blessed with technology via Verizon and it helps so very much.  We couldn’t do the things we do without a strong wireless network, incredible phones that do great camera work or the very recent addition to my equipment family, the Windows Lumia 2520 tablet.  That thing is a BEAST. It braves steamy pots, closeups into said pots and documents and records everything.  We can switch back and forth from stills to video, prop that sucker up on a box and let it film difficult angles we can get into and even better, it backs all that video up automatically to Onedrive and the Verizon Cloud. We can zoom in, zoom out, edit on screen, toggle sound off and on, mix and stir.  The tablet is an incredible addition to our team.

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The Beautiful Game

Pablo Zabaleta of Argentina and Andre Schuerrle of Germany compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

They call it the beautiful game.

And so it is.

Beauty, art, movement, dance, acrobatics, contortionism, aerial jumps…poetry in motion.

I can’t tell you when the first time I saw a soccer game, or as we call it, futbol, but I can tell you this, it has been in my blood probably from those first moments.  I remember as a child standing by our black and white T.V. and jiggling the foil covered antenna so we could get a better picture and being frustrated that I might miss one of the great Pelé’s moves.  That’s how far back my love affair with the beautiful game goes.

In this recent World Cup in Brazil, I fell in love all over again.  There is nothing like it.  It is the Olympics of soccer – coming together every four years, the best of the best, all to battle for precious status as world champions. Unlike most of my compatriots, I don’t just watch World Cup.  Oh no, my love runs deep and true. Year after year, season after season finds me glued to Univision, the Spanish language channel that so wonderfully and diplomatically covers those games.  Even my 8-year old grandson Aiden says, “Grams, I ONLY like the Univision announcers, they know the game.” Through it all, I cheer on my beloved Mexico teams.  I have a partiality for Guanajuato because that is where my grandparents came from. I watch and wonder who of each team will be selected for the coveted Seleccion Nacional (the team that will go to the World Cup).  I fall in love over and over again with the players.  I watch games against every team in the world and, while I hope for the USA, (it IS my country), I still don’t think that they are up to the challenge of winning a world cup from FIFA.  They proved me happily wrong this year.

I overheard someone at a restaurant near my job saying that the Germany – Argentina game (final of the World Cup 2014) was boring because they only scored 1-0 and I wanted to scream.  THIS is what drives me crazy about so-called soccer/futbol fans.  They don’t see what I see and what I see is beautiful.  I see furious running that is so fast, it almost looks like speeded up film but I’ve seen players in real life, real time, running just that fast.  I see dance moves, flexibility that is so incredible it seems the players are made of rubber and are almost boneless, I see drive and determination, I see art in motion, I see passion, I see…beauty – beauty in a game.

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The Storyteller

My grandfather after losing my grandmother.

My grandfather, Papa Chava, had an amazing life.  It was a difficult one sure, but he lived through incredible times and had many stories to tell.  Maybe it was from him that I learned my storytelling/writing skills.  Maybe not, but I remember sitting on his lap as a child listening wide-eyed to the stories he had to tell me. Salvador Medina Camarillo was born in Mexico on June 1, 1900.  He always liked to say he came from the place of “los mumias de Guanajuato” (the mummies of Guanajuato).

It ’s hard to research because the church that had his birth and baptism documents was burned in the Mexican Revolution, taking with it all records of my grandfather’s birth.  I’m not sure what village or town he was born in, but he grew up in Irapuato, Guanajuato.  Irapuato is located at the foot of the Arandas Mountains (cerro de Arandas) in the south central region of Guanajuato.  In pre-Conquest times, the land belonged first to the Chichimeca, then the Tarasco or Purepecha, then back to the Chichimeca.  

It was a hard life, being indigenous and poor.  He always told me I was so lucky to be an American and to have been born here.  He told me stories about going out to work in the fields with his father when he was just three years old.  It was firmly etched into his memories because that day, his first day of a lifetime of hard labor, he made money.  Just a few centavos.  Enough, he said, to buy his mother a pot and to press the centavo that was left into her work worn hand.  That day set a tone for his life.  To the day he couldn’t get out of his bed due to illness, he worked hard and took care of the family he loved and was proud of.   Irapuato is still known for growing strawberries and in the little garden at the back of the house on Goodwin Avenue, he grew the best strawberries I ever tasted.  Maybe they reminded him of home.  This photo I found on the Library of Congress circa 1900 of strawberry pickers in Guanajuato gives me a little glimpse into a life that might have been his.

Screenshot 2014-05-31 08.35.27

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2014 Hollywood Bowl Season Kickoff


The Hollywood Bowl.  Those three words resonate in the hearts of most Angelenos and when they are said, bring to mind picnics with friends, good wine, warm summer nights under the stars, glorious music and fireworks.  The Bowl is a summer ritual for so many of us.

Like many of us natives, I grew up with the Bowl.  It wasn’t far from my grandparents place.  Someone in the family inevitably went, lugging us kids along.  I remember trudging up to it from street parking several blocks away.  Ahead of me were uncles and aunts, carrying along picnic baskets and blankets.  I remember sitting at the picnic tables near Camrose street and the food was always memorable.  Later, we’d pack things up, someone would volunteer to schlep it all back to the car and we’d file into the Bowl.  We always went on nights when there were fireworks and there was usually classical or jazz playing.  Those yearly treks were magical and are ingrained into my memories.

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Stoneleigh Wine’s Urban Oasis

The video was created by New Zealand’s Stoneleigh Wine, who shows how nature can appear in the most unexpected places, bringing a ‘Wonder of Nature’ to inner city Auckland through an event with a suspended garden, a soundscape inspired by the sounds of the vineyards. Stoneleigh prides itself of utilizing sustainable organic materials for all their natural landscapes/settings. They’ve partnered with New Zealand recording artists, Mt Eden, whose song ‘Drive’ evokes the flavors of Stoneleigh wine in sound.bringing a ‘Wonder of Nature’ to inner city Auckland through an event with a suspended garden, a soundscape inspired by the sounds of the vineyards. Stoneleigh prides itself of utilizing sustainable organic materials for all their natural landscapes/settings. They’ve partnered with New Zealand recording artists, Mt Eden, whose song ‘Drive’ evokes the flavors of Stoneleigh wine in sound.

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