Can’t Live Without It

a-day-with-cricket-wireless

Disclosure: Latinaish.com has partnered with Cricket Wireless as a 2014 Blog Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

As some of you may know, the Samsung Galaxy s4 is my very first smartphone. Before I owned it, for the most part I was totally fine with not having one, (except for the occasional rant that I couldn’t use Instagram.) However, in the two months since I’ve had this phone, all of that has changed – I’m not really sure how I lived so many years without it.

I can’t count how many times having the phone has not just made my life more convenient, but has saved me time and money. Just yesterday at the grocery store, Carlos requested I make Cóctel de Camarones en Salsa Rosada. If I hadn’t been able to check the recipe I have on my blog right there in the middle of the store, I’m certain I would have forgotten at least one of the ingredients, which would have required returning to the store later.

Another way the phone is saving me money – With the unlimited music downloads from Muve Music, I haven’t felt the need to sign up for satellite radio after my trial period recently ended in my vehicle. I just connect my phone to the bluetooth and listen to exactly what I want, plus when Carlos calls me, his phone call interrupts the music and rings right through the radio which is a great safety feature, (and it’s legal necessity in many states now, which I completely support.)

I decided to make a video to show you a few more ways I use my phone each day, (and I still left out a dozen more at least.)

All that being said – it’s definitely a balance when one owns a smartphone. Remember to put your phone away and don’t touch it during certain times of the day and week, because your familia is much more important than random Facebook statuses or getting a new high score on Flappy Bird.

If you need a little more incentive to help you not touch the phone, the UNICEF app “Tap Project” donates clean water to people in need for each minute you don’t touch your phone. We may say “I can’t live without my phone” – but this app is a great reminder that as fun and useful as our phones can be, there are real needs and bigger priorities in the world.

You can learn more about Cricket Wireless in Spanish here, or in English here. You can also follow the #VidaConCricket hashtag and @MiCricket on Twitter.

Tocayos

tocayos

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Recientemente una amiga me recordó de una palabra interesante en español – “tocayo”.

Tocayo, (o “tocaya” para las hembras), es una palabra que te puedes llamar a alguien con el mismo nombre que tienes. Por ejemplo, si tengo una amiga que se llama “Tracy” – puedo llamarla “tocaya” porque mi nombre también es “Tracy”. Algunos creen que la palabra viene de la palabra náhuatl “tocayotl” que significa “nombre”.

La razón que me acordé de esta palabra es porque una amiga gringa me preguntó si alguna vez había oído hablar de fiestas en Latinoamérica para personas con el mismo nombre. Nunca he oído hablar de esto, así que quería preguntar a todos ustedes – ¿Existe tal cosa como una “Fiesta de Tocayos”?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Recently a friend of mine reminded me of an interesting word in Spanish – “tocayo.”

“Tocayo” – (or “tocaya” for females) – is a word you can use to call someone who has the same name that you have. For example, if I have a friend named “Tracy” – I can call her “tocaya” because my name is also “Tracy.” Some people believe the word comes from the Nahuatl “tocayotl” which means “name.”

The reason I remembered this word is because a gringa friend of mine asked if I had ever heard of parties for people of the same name in Latin America. I had never heard of this, so I wanted to ask all of you – Do traditional parties for “tocayos” exist?

Apachada

I always share Carlos’s English mistakes, so it’s only fair that I share when my Spanish goes terribly wrong.

First let me explain: This past weekend was really busy, mostly in a good way because I did a lot of things I wanted to do, but there was one obligation I wasn’t really thrilled about, and that was a meeting at 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. The meeting was a mandatory part of an academic program our oldest son is in, and at least one parent was supposed to attend.

So on Saturday, Carlos dropped me and our older son off for the meeting and then he went with our younger son to have an oil change done on the car. The car ended up needing a few hundred dollars in repairs to pass inspection so Carlos texted me and let me know he was going to be late picking me up.

I confess, I was kind of grumpy Saturday morning. I had wanted to sleep in, I was at a boring meeting where I’d be stuck for who knew how long, I had a cold on top of allergies and felt miserable, plus Carlos and I had skipped breakfast. Carlos was stressed about the car repairs and I’ll admit, I was being a little (uncharacteristically) needy because I didn’t feel well. Only a hilarious misunderstanding could cheer me up, thankfully those are abundant in our family.

Two things you should know:

#1. The place where the meeting was held is down the street from the hospital and we have eaten in the hospital cafeteria as a family a few times, even when we had no reason to be at the hospital. Strange but true. (The food is good and it’s not expensive.)

#2. I mention someone named “Sue” – That’s a friend of ours from Mexico. I adore the way she speaks Spanish and am always picking up new vocabulary from her, (or at least attempting to.)

Here are the text messages that followed. (My texts are in blue and his are in white.)

text1

text2

text3

text4

Pararse a oler las rosas

flores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ayer estuve muy ocupada. Encima de mi trabajo normal, tuve que llevar a mi hijo mayor a una cita y hacer unos mandados. Admito que cuando mi día es interrumpido por un montón de correteos por aquí y por allá, me pongo un poco molesta. Es que necesito mi dosis diaria de tiempo, para estar solita y en silencio, para pensar y recargar las energías.

Así que cuando fui a comprar unas cosas que necesitaba en Lowe’s, no pude resistir la tentación de ir al Centro de Jardinería para literalmente “pararme a oler las rosas” como decimos en inglés.

flowers-2-latinaish

little-purple-flowers-latinaish

rose-latinaish

Mientras que olía (y fotografiaba) las flores, me preguntaba si hay un dicho similar en español que signifique “Tómese el tiempo para apreciar las pequeñas cosas lindas de su día.” Le pregunté a Carlos y a algunas de mis amigas, pero nadie sabía de un buen dicho con el mismo significado. ¿Sabes uno?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Yesterday I was really busy. On top of my regular work, I had to bring my older son to an appointment and run some errands. I admit that when my day is interrupted by a bunch of running around here and there, I get a little annoyed; it’s because I need my daily dose of quiet time alone to think and recharge that I feel that way.

So when I went to Lowe’s to buy a few things I needed, I couldn’t resist going to the Garden Center and literally “stopping to smell the roses” as we say in English.

While I smelled (and photographed) the flowers, I wondered if there’s a similar saying in Spanish that means “take time to appreciate the beautiful little things in your day.” I asked Carlos and some friends but no one knew a good saying in Spanish with the same meaning. Do you know one?

12 Greeting Cards For Latinos That Don’t Exist (But Should)

12-latino-greeting-cards

I love greeting cards and will embrace any holiday, occasion, or event, to give them to friends and family. You know those “Just because” cards? Those were made for people like me, for those days we want to give cards but can’t think of any good reason to. If Carlos can’t find me in a store, he goes to the greeting card aisle – that’s usually where I am – just reading them for fun.

That being said, I’ve found that at times it’s difficult for me to find cards that say exactly what I need them to. As a bilingual, bicultural Latino-American family in the United States, we have our own unique culture, events, and language. The cards in English with Latin-flavor usually feature a donkey wearing a sombrero or some other tired theme. The cards in Spanish are limited, and usually only available for quinces and Día de las Madres. What’s a bicultural gringa to do? … Make my own cards, of course!

The cards I created below (which you should feel free to share in social media or print for personal use!) represent some real themes we’ve dealt with in our familia – maybe you’ll relate. Which greeting card have you needed that doesn’t exist?

imperfect-nuera-card-latinaish
(Not much that can be done about that, but at least a greeting card softens the blow?)

pan-dulce-apology-card-latinaish
(Kind of one of those “Sorry, not sorry” moments.)

difficult-time-card-latinaish
(Salvadorans, you know what I mean… At least we’ve got the playera team.)

sapo-verde-to-you-card-latinaish
(We don’t say “Happy birthday” in this house.)

buen-viaje-card-latinaish
(This would come in handy for all your encargo requests for traveling family members.)

belated-spanish-bday-card-latinaish
(A whole line of greeting cards with “Chavito del 8″ references would sell like pan caliente.)

felicidades-card-latinaish
(We’ve got some unique milestones that you don’t really find anywhere in the greeting card aisle!)

love-you-spanish-card-latinaish
(Cute enough for a kid, but could be exchanged between adults too.)

misunderstanding-card-latinaish
(We would probably need to exchange this card at least once a week.)

not-mexican-salvadoran-card-latinaish
(My kids are half Salvadoran and my older son in particular is constantly mistaken for Mexican. Thought I should explain that one!)

get-well-latino-card-latinaish
(Who needs a “Get Well” card when there’s Vicks?)

mothers-day-spanish-card-latinaish
(Día de las Madres was always a dangerous day for Carlos.)

Hotel-style Bathroom Makeover

hotel-style-bathroom

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

One of the things I look forward to the most when traveling, is staying in a hotel room. I love hotels! Everything is (usually) so new and perfect, and knowing that I don’t have to clean up anything is instantly relaxing. Not that I party like a rockstar in my room and trash it, I actually keep things very tidy, but it’s nice to look around and not be reminded of all the repairs that should be made, bills that need to be paid, or chores that must be done. I wanted to carry this same sense of luxury and relaxation into my bedroom, but that would be a much bigger project than I’m ready to tackle right now, and overall, I’m happy with the way my bedroom looks. Instead, we took this challenge into our master bathroom where it was seriously needed.

I hated our bathroom. I hated the dated faucet, the flat wall mirror, and that we had to keep the counter cluttered with all our random personal items because there was nowhere else to put them. I hated the boring beige color of the walls, I hated the broken cabinets which were falling apart and had been glued back together on at least one occasion, and I hated the shower curtain which Carlos chose. (One day he complained that I never let him make any of the decorating decisions and the hideous shower curtain was the result of that argument – I have loathed it ever since.)

bathroom-before-collage-latinaish

So, it was decided – the master bathroom needed to be updated and I wanted to do it “hotel-style” but on a budget – always on a budget! Here are the instructions for what we did in case you want to do something similar. The project will take less than the weekend and you get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s really worth doing!

Hotel-style Bathroom Makeover

1. Using “FrogTape”, tape off anything you don’t want to get paint on. (i.e. floor and ceiling trim, around windows, around door frames, etc.) Remove the switch plates on light switches, too.

2. Remove the wall mirror – sounds easy, but this was a new experience for us. First, the mirror should be taped, (we used the “FrogTape” since it was handy.) We did a criss-cross pattern and then to be extra cautious, we taped it completely over with vertical pieces as well. The reason for doing this is in case the mirror cracks, this helps prevent it from shattering into a million pieces. You should also be wearing eye protection. Once you have removed any screws and brackets, you may find that the mirror is attached to the wall by some sort of adhesive. Use a length of wire and run it behind the mirror. Use a sawing motion to loosen the mirror up for removal. You should have at least two people for this procedure, as one person should be holding the mirror so it doesn’t abruptly fall when it becomes loose.

mirror-removal-tip

3. Patch any holes in the wall with caulk and then sand down any unevenness when the caulk is dry.

4. Paint the walls the color of your choice. For this project I used Valspar Silver Leaf 4006-1A in semi-gloss, (and I love it!)

5. We replaced the flat wall mirror with a medicine cabinet, which maybe isn’t in keeping with the “hotel-style” theme, but it was necessary to eliminate counter-top clutter. (Instructions are included with it.)

6. Following the instructions that come with it, install a metal hotel-style towel rack/shelf, (which we later stocked with some new white towels.)

7. Remove the old cabinet doors on your under the sink cabinet by unscrewing them from the hinges. Measure the doors and purchase 1/2 inch thick lumber cut to your specifications. (Lowe’s will do it for you free!) You can also buy new hinges (or use the old ones, if you want), new knobs, desired paint color (we used some black we already had on hand), paint supplies, and self-adhering felt pads.

8. Use sandpaper to rough up the surface of your cabinets so that the paint will better adhere. Paint the cabinet and the new doors. It may take a couple coats depending on what your cabinets are made of, the color it was before painting, and the color you are painting it.

9. Pre-drill holes for the knobs, then attach the knobs. Carefully measure and mark the doors and the cabinet for the hinges. Pre-drill holes for the hinges being careful not to go all the way through. Also, be very sure that the screws for your hinges are not so long that they’ll go through the other side. Attach the doors to the hinges and then the hinges to the cabinet. (If you prefer, you can first attach the hinges to the cabinet and then attach the doors – whichever is more comfortable for you.) Place a self-adhering felt pad on the inside of each door in the upper corner where it comes into contact with the cabinet – this will soften the noise of them closing and prevent the doors from getting banged up. Your cabinet should look brand new, and for a fraction of the cost and work involved in replacing the whole thing!

hotel-bathroom-4

10. Update the sink by replacing dated faucet handles. Don’t forget to turn the water off first and follow the instructions that come with them. (We bought this chrome faucet and are very happy with it.)

11. Replace switch plates and electrical outlet covers. We just bought new plastic ones in a basic white color and they look nice and clean, but if you want to splurge, there are plenty of fancier ones to choose from.

12. Add accessories sparingly! Now that your bathroom is clean and uncluttered, don’t junk it back up with too much stuff. We put up a simple white wall clock, (Carlos likes to keep track of the time while getting ready for work), and I stuck a small plant in a hurricane glass. I decided not to hang up any wall art for now because I like how it feels without it.

That’s it! Now run yourself a bath, turn on Shakira’s new album, and tell everyone to leave you alone while you pretend you’re on vacation in a hotel bathroom for an hour or two!

before-after-bathroom

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Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

FIFA 14 on Windows 8.1!

fifa14-windows-8

I’m part of the Windows Champions Program. As a Windows Champion, I have been loaned a Surface Pro 2, a Venue 8 Pro, and, on occasion, Microsoft products such as software to assist me in developing content for my blog posts. All opinions are my own.

FIFA 14 has come to Windows 8.1 devices! While I love to play and watch fútbol, I’m not much of a gamer, so I downloaded this on our Dell Venue 8 Pro (tablet) and asked my 15 year old to review it. Here’s his thoughts!

fifa-14-windows-tablet-1

Since I was little, I’ve had an undeniable passion for “the beautiful game” – Whether watching my favorite teams such as FC Barcelona or DC United, engaging in the sport myself, or playing various editions of the FIFA video games on my Xbox 360, soccer is a big part of my life. Playing the FIFA video games have become, in many ways, a family tradition just as much as kicking the ball around the backyard.

FIFA 14 is a new and revolutionary soccer simulation that pleases both the casual gamer and passionate fans alike. It keeps the most signature features of the recent FIFA editions, but also adds some new refreshing features and settings that keep the gameplay interesting and fun.

Despite vast differences between Xbox 360 gameplay and mobile gameplay, the overall purpose of both is to entertain lovers of soccer at home or on the go, and it does that well. The controls on the Windows 8 app impressively incorporate some more complex moves while maintaining a level of simplicity, which permits exhilarating gameplay on the go when an Xbox isn’t available. Although the graphics are better than any soccer game on the Windows 8.1 app market, the graphic quality is still better when played on the Xbox.

With the free version you are somewhat limited in what you’re able to do. The tablet version allows you to play penalty shootouts, Ultimate Team, and includes game commentary in multiple languages, including Spanish. Purchasing the in-game features allows you to have the full experience.

Overall, I would highly recommend FIFA 14 on Windows 8.1 devices or Xbox to all ages, to regular people looking for a fun game, and most definitely to passionate soccer fans.

Find FIFA 14 in the Windows app store here and ¡Viva fútbol!

¡Guanapolio!

guanapolio-screenshot

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Desde que vi en las noticias que unos jovenes salvadoreños habían creado una versión salvadoreño del juego Monopoly, quería jugarlo pero por mucho tiempo sólo estaba disponible en El Salvador. Ahora tienen el juego por venta en Amazon, y un amigo en Twitter (¡gracias, Carlos!), me informó que también lanzaron un app.

El juego Guanapolio está disponible en Amazon.com para todos los hermanos lejanos.

El juego Guanapolio está disponible en Amazon.com para todos los hermanos lejanos.

El app de Guanapolio es gratis (pero me imagino que por un tiempo limitado, ¡así que descárgalo ahora!) y es muy impresionante. La calidad de la app me sorprendió. Es muy divertido jugar y te hará reír. Si no eres salvadoreño/a es posible que no vas a entender todo en el juego, pero si eres salvadoreño/a o muy familiarizado con la cultura, te vas a divertir cada segundo que lo juegas.

Aquí está en iTunes, Google Play, y Facebook.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Ever since I saw on the news that some young Salvadorans had created a Salvadoran version of the game Monopoly, I have wanted to play, but for a long time it was only available in El Salvador. Now they have the game for sale on Amazon, and a friend on Twitter (thanks, Carlos!), informed me that they also launched an app.

The Guanapolio app is free (but I imagine for a limited time, so download it now!) and it’s very impressive. The quality of the app surprised me. It’s really fun to play and will make you laugh. If you’re not Salvadoran you probably won’t understand everything in the game, but if you are Salvadoran or very familiar with the culture, you’ll have fun every second you play.

Here it is on iTunes, Google Play and Facebook.

Mi Cumple

felizcumple-note

Today is my birthday. Carlos whispered “Feliz cumpleaños, birthday girl,” to me before kissing me on the forehead and going to work. I smiled and went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found that little note you see above, and minutes later he texted me a video of Pedro Infante singing “Las Mañanitas.”

Honestly, I usually try to lay low on my birthday – the more quietly it passes, the better. Of course, my family and friends never let that happen. Upon opening my email this morning there were even more birthday wishes, and even my gringo family sends them in Spanish these days. My father sent me a birthday song from Dora the Explorer and my maternal grandmother sent me a mariachi e-greeting.

So, since it’s a losing battle, this year I’m choosing to embrace my birthday. After all, I’m 35 years old today, and it doesn’t feel half as bad as I thought it would. Turning thirty was semi-traumatic, so anything short of a complete emotional breakdown is progress worthy of being noted.

This time of year always comes with thoughts about what I haven’t yet achieved and the fact that I still don’t know for sure exactly where I’m going in life. Thirty-year-old-me freaked out about these exact thoughts, but thirty-five-year-old-me shrugs and says, “¿Y qué?” … It isn’t that I’m apathetic about my goals, but I’m more accepting of the fact that they won’t always happen on my timetable, and some of them won’t happen at all – That’s okay because there’s something else I discovered; in life you will achieve and experience things that you never even set out to achieve or experience in the first place, and more often than not, those are the things you’ll end up cherishing more than anything on your list of “things to accomplish.”

“Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Un descanso en el camino, una botella de vino,
Un suspiro, una mirada, una alegre carcajada,
Una cara en el espejo, un amigo, un buen consejo,
Un viaje en barco velero aunque no llegues rimero,
Un caballito cerrero que no corra por dinero,
Un palmar, un riachuelo, un pedacito de cielo.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.
Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Una playa, un cumpleaños,
Un buen recuerdo de antaño,
Un olor a yerbabuena, una conversación amena,
Un romance que ha nacido que te roba los sentidos,
Un parque lleno de niños, un bellísimo cariño,
Un lágrima, un momento que sea todo sentimiento,
Una música muy bella, un perfume, una estrella.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.

Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.”

- “Oye Abre Tus Ojos” by Wilfrido Vargas

How to type Spanish characters on a Samsung Galaxy s4

samsung-galaxy-spanish-characters

Disclosure: Latinaish.com has partnered with Cricket Wireless as a 2014 Blog Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

In high school, my Spanish teacher was very strict about accents. If a student spelled a word without its accent, it was marked wrong – no mercy! For a student whose native language doesn’t really utilize accents, this seemed rather harsh, but eventually I got so used to it that now I get annoyed when I’m typing on a new device and can’t figure out where the accented characters are. After all, on New Years, I don’t want to wish all my Spanish-speaking friends a “Feliz Ano Nuevo.”

That being said, finding the Spanish accented characters was one of the first things I did on the Samsung Galaxy s4. They aren’t immediately apparent on the onscreen keyboard, so I made this little video to help you find them, too.

Happy texting!

You can learn more about Cricket Wireless in Spanish here, or in English here. You can also follow the #VidaConCricket hashtag and @MiCricket on Twitter.

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