Author Archives: Tracy López

Do-it-Yourself Laptop Work Tray

D.I.Y. Fox Laptop Work Tray featuring Pantone 2014 color of the year

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.

In this house, almost no one leaves their laptop at the desk. We may decide we want to be in the same room with the family, or that we want to sit somewhere more comfortable, or that when Carlos is watching “Chavito del 8″ on TV, it’s really freaking distracting and we need to move elsewhere, (and by “we” I mean “me.”)

The problem is that when you move your laptop around constantly, accidents can happen, and you’re much better off keeping it on a work tray which makes it easier to transport. Carlos gave me the idea to use a scrap of wood we had and just buy handles for it, but I realized it was the perfect project to show off the new 2014 Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid. And to go with the trendy color, I chose something else trendy to decorate the tray – a fox! Foxes have been super popular in everything from fashion to home décor to music this past year, and I think that trend will continue, (although, if anyone is taking nominations for 2014 animal of the year, I nominate chuchos aguacateros.)

Do-it-Yourself Laptop Work Tray

You need:

A piece of wood, about 10 inches wide, 22 inches long, and 3/4-inch thick
Paint: Pantone 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid (sample size is sufficient for this project)
Paint: Black (you can use any craft paint you may already have on hand)
paint brushes (1 medium household, 1 smaller craft brush)
screw driver, drill (I used my Rockwell 3RILL)
2 cabinet pulls with screws (I used Gatehouse 3-inch Matte Black Bar Cabinet Pulls)
FrogTape (painter’s tape)
printer, printer ink and card stock
a pack of 1-inch felt pads
scissors or X-Acto knife
pencil
measuring tape
newspapers

Directions:

1. Spread out newspaper to protect your surface from the paint. Paint the top and edges of the piece of wood using the Pantone 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid. When completely dry, flip over and paint the other side.

painted-board-color-of-the-year-pantone

2. While the paint dries, you’re going to print your stencil. Decide which design you’d like on your tray. If you like the fox, you can download the stencil I created from free clipart by clicking the image below and downloading. Print in landscape format on card stock. It’s important to use card stock and not regular copy paper since you’ll be using this as a stencil and it needs to be sturdy.

fox-stencil-download

3. Cut the shape of the fox out from the middle of the card stock then use the frog tape to tape the stencil to the middle of the board.

fox-stencil

4. “Pounce” (dab) the black paint onto the wood with a craft paint brush or foam brush especially for stenciling, being careful at the edges of the stencil. (No peeking!) Allow to dry completely before removing the tape and stencil.

5. Use the measuring tape to measure the wood and center the handles where you’d like them on each end of the tray on the top side. Use a pencil to outline where you’ll drill the holes.

drill-holes-fox-tray

6. Drill the holes and then attach the handles with the screws that came with them.

7. On the back side of the tray will be the four screw heads – these will scratch up surfaces so on each one, place a self-adhering felt pad.

8. Your tray is finished!

DIY fox laptop work tray - Latinaish.com

Want more creative ideas?

Winter14_BloggerBadge_200x200

 

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5 Lecciones de Chico

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!

Tener un perro como mascota es una cosa bella por muchas razónes, pero una de ellas es que tienes la oportunidad de aprender muchas lecciones, y las lecciones son mucho más profundas que puedes imaginar. Aquí hay cinco lecciones que he aprendido de mi perro, Chico.

chicomeditate

LECCIÓN 1: Mientras que el ejercicio diario es necesario, es igual de necesario dormir y descansar.

chicoweird

LECCIÓN 2: Sé tú mismo, no importa lo extraño que eres.

chicotamal

LECCIÓN 3: Ten metas. Llegará unos y a otros no, eso está bien, pero nunca sabrás si no lo intentas.

chicocarlos

LECCIÓN 4: Pasa tiempo con las personas que amas … (incluso si está viendo a Chavito del 8 y eso no es lo que quieres hacer.)

chicosunnydays

LECCIÓN 5: Apreciar las cosas pequeñas, como un parche perfecto de la luz del sol, y disfrútalas al máximo sin preocuparte por el pasado o el futuro. Este momento es lo único que está garantizado.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Having a dog as a pet is a beautiful thing for many reasons, but one of them is that you have the opportunity to learn many lessons, and the lessons are much more profound than you can imagine. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from my dog, Chico.

LESSON 1: While daily exercise is necessary, it’s equally necessary to sleep and rest.
LESSON 2: Be yourself, no matter how weird you are.
LESSON 3: Have goals. You’ll reach some, others you won’t, this is okay, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.
LESSON 4: Spend time with the people you love, (even if they’re watching Chavito del 8 and that isn’t what you want to do.)
LESSON 5: Appreciate the little things, like a perfect patch of sunlight, and enjoy them to the fullest without worrying about the past or future. This moment is the only one that is guaranteed.

Geografía

estadosmexico1

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!

Yo estaba muy sorprendida pero contenta ver que mi hijo mayor estaba aprendiendo los estados de México en la escuela.

estadosmexico2

Mi hijo está en las clases avanzadas. Desafortunadamente, no creo que enseñen esto en la clase regular, pero me gustaría que lo hicieran. Mientras estoy deseando, también me gustaría que les enseñaran los departamentos de El Salvador, pero supongo que tendremos que hacer eso en casa.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I was really surprised but pleased to see that my older son was learning the Mexican states at school. My son is in advanced classes. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’re teaching this to the regular classes, but I wish they would. While I’m wishing, I also wish they would teach the departments of El Salvador, but I guess that’s something we’ll have to do at home.

#VidaConCricket and Muve Music

muvemusic

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

For those who don’t yet know, my whole family has become 2014 blog ambassadors for Cricket Wireless. I’m really excited about this partnership because this is the first time I’ve owned a smartphone. Figuring out how to do everything on a Samsung Galaxy s4 after years of using the most basic of phones wasn’t easy at first, but after a day or two, I became much more comfortable with it. The first week with a smartphone is learning how to use it and the second week is learning how to put it down and leave it alone for a little while!

One of thing that has surprised me the most with my Cricket Wireless service is the Muve Music feature. I was told that I would have unlimited song downloads from Muve Music with my phone but to be honest, I thought that if they’re being so generous with unlimited downloads, then the music available would be by completely unknown artists, or that there would only be poor quality covers of famous songs. I also expected there to be little music in Spanish – I soon discovered I had been really wrong with my assumptions!

The Muve Music store (which is accessed on my phone through an app that comes pre-installed), has had most songs I have wanted so far. I have downloaded almost every Espinoza Paz song I love, Juanes, Voz de Mando, Shakira, Pitbull, Celso Piña, Calle 13, 3BallMTY, and even Crooked Stilo, Los Hermanos Flores and Pedro Infante. Overall I’m really satisfied with the selection, (and my two teenage sons have also found almost all the songs they wanted in English!) … Carlos is less thrilled about my full Espinoza Paz playlist, but that’s a story for another day.

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

Cicatrices (Scars)

vaccination-scar

I love scars because behind each scar there is often a story that when told, reveals something about the bearer of that scar; for that reason, Carlos’s scars were one of the things I asked him about early in our relationship when we were still getting to know each other. The differences in our scar stories and the number of scars we each had was pretty representative of the different lives we had led up to that point.

Scars on Carlos’ shin and thigh, the result of a careless delivery man dropping a crate of beer bottles onto him as he slept in a hammock in his mother’s liquor store. The scars on my knees? From the time I checked out too many library books and crashed my bicycle trying to ride home with them in my arms. The scar on his forehead is from the time his brother threw a rock at his face. Thin, lightly raised scars mark the outside of my wrists from the time I tried to hug my grandmother’s short-tempered cat, Charlie.

There is one scar on Carlos’s upper left arm; a roundish mark, pinker than the surrounding skin, and about the size of a small coin.

“What’s that one?” I asked, expecting him to say someone had burned him with a lit cigar because of its appearance.

“From a vaccination. Everyone has them,” he said.

In Carlos’s experience, everyone did have them, but that wasn’t the case in my experience. I don’t have one, my sisters don’t have one and none of my friends growing up had such a scar.

For years I just accepted that Salvadorans, (and many Latin Americans I met), have such a scar, without knowing why. Recently I did some research to satisfy my curiosity about which vaccination caused the mark and why I don’t have one.

Various sources, (websites as well as anecdotal stories from friends) have narrowed it down to various possibilities. Some say they’re certain which vaccination it was, others say they have no idea, and still others think it was a combination of shots they received. The vaccinations most frequently blamed for the scar include tuberculosis (also known as “TB”), polio, and smallpox.

The countries of the people I spoke with who have the scar include:
El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Japan, and The Dominican Republic.

Interestingly enough though, there were also a handful of people born in the United States who have the scar, but all of them were born before my birth year (1979), so it seems to me it’s a vaccine that wasn’t given after a certain year in the U.S. My mother says that both she and my father received the smallpox vaccine but that neither of them scarred and that they had stopped giving that by the time my sisters and I were born.

I managed to dig up my vaccination record and it says that when I was 3 months old I was vaccinated against polio, so, being that I don’t have a scar, perhaps we’ve narrowed it down to “TB” and/or smallpox – or it’s possible that like my parents, my skin doesn’t scar when it comes to vaccinations. A friend from Mexico further convinced me to eliminate polio as a possible source of the scar when she told me that the vaccination for polio, at least in her experience, is not a shot, but given orally along with sugar water. Obviously an oral vaccination wouldn’t cause a scar on the arm.

This website, Descubre Aprende (hat tip to my friend, Eliana!) says that these scars are caused by the TB vaccination which is called “BBG” – One of my Salvadoran friends stated that he was 100% certain that this was correct.

What do you think? Do you have a vaccination scar either on your upper arm or upper outer thigh? Do you know what it was from, in which country you received it and what year? Leave a comment!

Caminar (review & giveaway)

caminar

Book description:

Title: Caminar
Author: Skila Brown
Release Date: March 25, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6516-6

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her… Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

My review: When I agreed to receive a copy for review of Caminar by Skila Brown, I didn’t realize the story is told in poems, although it’s clearly stated in the description. It’s a quick read, partly because the book is made up of poems and partly because there’s excellent suspense that propels you through the story, making you want to read “one more” poem to see what happens. The book’s target audience is middle grade and the book is fiction based on real historical events. I like that it’s told in first person, so kids can really identify with Carlos and feel a little bit of what it must have felt like to live through such an experience, and I like the little bit of Spanish throughout.

My 12 year old asked what I was reading and asked me to read some to him but after awhile he stopped me and said, “No offense, but I prefer funny poems.” (He was raised on Shel Silverstein.) That being said, I enjoyed it and think it would work best in a classroom setting, read as a class with discussion and related assignments, but if you have a child who likes poetry (the non-funny kind), and is interested in Guatemala and can handle serious subject matter, then they might enjoy this book as much as I did.

===GIVEAWAY CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO FJKINGSBURY, SANDRA RIVAS, and EZZY!===

The Giveaway

Prize description: Three lucky random winners will each be receiving an advanced copy of Caminar by Skila Brown.

How to Enter: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below sharing who you’d like to win this book for – If for yourself, why do you want to read it? (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company/person in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winners will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. If no response is received after 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 17, 2014 through February 23, 2014. Entries received after February 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Disclosure: A book was received for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza (Copycat Recipe)

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Copycat - Latinaish.com

I have a confession to make… I love Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizzas – they’re probably my favorite thing on the menu. Sometimes when I need my fix, I just make my own version at home since they’re so easy to recreate, (and it also saves Carlos from frustration at the drive thru! See the image I created below if you’re not sure what I mean.)

spanishspeakerproblem

Okay, enough funny business! Here’s the recipe, and some step-by-step photos!

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza (Copycat Recipe)

You need:

medium-sized thin flour tortillas
refried beans (canned or fresh, regular or fat free)
Mexican-style shredded cheese
taco sauce (Taco Bell brand, or other brand – your choice!)
green onions, diced
Roma tomatoes, diced

Optional: salt to taste

Method:

1. Toast the tortillas on both sides on a comal/griddle to the point that they are slightly crunchy. You will need two tortillas per Mexican pizza.

2. Place one tortilla on a baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to spread refried beans on the top, almost to the edges.

3. Place the second tortilla on top of the beans. Use the back of a spoon to spread taco sauce on top, almost to the edges.

4. Sprinkle the taco sauce with cheese. Top with diced tomato and green onions. (Repeat steps 1 through 4 for each Mexican pizza you want to make.)

5. Place Mexican pizza(s) under a broiler for a couple minutes until cheese is melted. Optional: Add salt to taste. Serve!

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Copycat Recipe step-by-step, from Latinaish.com

Shania Twain, Mexican-style

rogelio-martinez

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!

En mi carro tenemos una suscripción gratuita de 3 meses de radio por satélite. Honestamente, la mayoría de las estaciones no me gustan pero hay una que sí me gusta mucho, especialmente porque el tipo de música que tocan, (regional mexicano) no está disponible aquí en las estaciones de radio regulares.

En la estación hay muchas canciones que ya conozco, y también estoy descubriendo nuevas canciones que me encantan. El otro día ellos tocaban una canción que no conocía, pero sí concocía. Pero, ¿cómo es posible no conocer y conocer a una canción?

Bueno, te digo que fue. La canción empezó y sin pensar, empecé a cantar:

Looks like we made it,
Look how far we’ve come my baby,
We might have took the long way,
We knew we’d get there someday…

Pronto me di cuenta de que yo estaba cantando en inglés y la canción estaba en español. Es que este artista mexicano, Rogelio Martínez, hizo una traducción en español de una canción vieja de Shania Twain. Oigan:

Así que, ahora tengo esta canción bien metida y bien mezclada en mi mente.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

In my car we have a 3-month free subscription to a satellite radio service. Honestly, I don’t like most of the stations but there is one that I do like, especially because the type of music they play (Regional Mexican) isn’t available on the regular radio stations.

On the station there are a lot of songs I know, and I’m also discovering new songs that I love. The other day they played a song that I didn’t know, but I knew. But, how is it possible to not know yet know a song?

Well, I’ll tell you what happened. The song started and without thinking, I began to sing:

Looks like we made it,
Look how far we’ve come my baby,
We might have took the long way,
We knew we’d get there someday…

Soon I realized I was singing in English and the song was in Spanish. It’s that the Mexican singer, Rogelio Martínez, had made a Spanish translation of an old Shania Twain song.

So now I have the song really stuck and really mixed up in my head.

¿Cómo se dice SPORK?

spork

Over the weekend we got some takeout food for dinner. At home, I dumped the bag of sauce packets, napkins and plastic utensils onto the table.

“Hand me one of those forks, please,” Carlos said.
“It’s not a fork,” I said, holding it up.
“Hand me… one of those thingies,” he said.

(Carlos’s English includes the word “thingies” since apparently I say that a lot.)

“It’s called a ‘spork’ – It’s a spoon-fork, see?” I handed the plastic utensil to him.
“Spork, okay,” he said, taking it from me, more eager to eat than to get a vocabulary lesson.

I took a bite of my food and chewed thoughtfully.

“How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” I asked.
“You don’t,” Carlos answered.
“There’s no word for ‘spork’?”
“No.”
“Oh!” I became excited. “Hold on, okay, let’s see… In Spanish, ‘spoon’ is ‘cuchara’ and ‘fork’ is ‘tenedor’ so a spork could be… CUCHADOR!”

I fell in love with the new word immediately.

“You can’t do that,” Carlos said.
“What?”
“You can’t just make words up.”
“I just did! This is a cuchador! And I’m going to go tell the whole internet!”

After dinner I went online and typed “How do you say ‘spork’ in Spanish?” just to make sure Carlos was right, that there wasn’t already a word that existed. To my amusement, Carlos was wrong and there is actually already a word… and it’s ‘cuchador.’ I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t invent a new word, but I’m impressed that my bilingual brain came up with the correct word by putting together what it already knows. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

Té de Miel y Limón

honey-lemon-tea

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!

Últimamente parece que cada día una amiga diferente me dice que está enferma. Creo que es un buen momento para compartir mi secreto para combatir el virus del resfriado. Hace muchos años Carlos insistió que tomará un “té” de miel y limón cuando tuviera un dolor de garganta; mucha gente en El Salvador beben esto cuando están enfermos. Yo era escéptica, pero con los años descubrí que ayuda y ahora, cada vez que siento los primeros síntomas de un resfriado, empiezo a beber este té varias veces al día hasta sentirme mejor. El limón proporciona Vitamina C y la miel es un antibiótico natural, además de que sabe bien y se siente bien beberlo. Salud!

Té de Miel y Limón

Necesitas:

una rodaja de limón
una taza de agua muy caliente
miel

Instrucciones:

Exprimir el limón en el agua caliente. Añadir una o dos cucharadas de miel y revuelva. Servir.

Opcional: Últimamente también he ido añadiendo una pizca de jengibre molido que añade sabor y también tiene beneficios médicos.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Lately it seems that each day a different friend tells me she’s sick. I think it’s a good time to share my secret for combating the cold virus. Many years ago Carlos insisted I drink a “tea” made ​​from honey and lemon when I had a sore throat; many people in El Salvador drink this when they’re sick. I was skeptical, but over the years I found that it helps and now, whenever I feel the first symptoms of a cold, I start drinking this tea several times a day until I feel better. The lemon provides Vitamin C and honey is a natural antibiotic, plus it tastes good and feels good drink. To your health!

Honey Lemon Tea

You need:

a slice of lemon
a cup of very hot water
honey

Directions:

Squeeze the lemon into the hot water. Add one or two tablespoons of honey and stir. Serve.

Optional: Lately I’ve also been adding a pinch of ground ginger which adds flavor and also has medical benefits.

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