Atol de Avena

atol-de-avena-latinaish

When my suegra lived with us, she used to buy oatmeal, which she called by one name and one name only – “Quacker.” This used to make me crazy because “Quacker” sounds like a nickname for a duck, but it was her mispronunciation of the brand name “Quaker Oats” – and perhaps it’s a common mispronunciation in El Salvador, the same way Corn Flakes are called “Con Fleis” – I honestly don’t know if it was a suegra thing or a Salvadoran thing.

When my suegra would make oatmeal though, she didn’t even attempt to decipher the directions on the can; the result was more like soup than anything I previously recognized as the thick, lumpy oatmeal of my childhood. I told her many times that you aren’t supposed to add that much water or milk, but she would only look at me like I was stupid and sip her oatmeal out of her favorite cumbo.

It was only years later that I found out what “atol de avena” is – and realized that my suegra had never been attempting to make American-style oatmeal in the first place. So, here is a lesson in humility, a reminder that there isn’t always one right answer, and a recipe for “atol de avena” which I am sipping right now, suegra-style.

Atol de Avena

2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick (and/or ground cinnamon)
1 cup uncooked oatmeal (I use Quaker Oats 100% Natural Whole Grain Old Fashioned)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
4 packed tablespoons brown sugar or other sweetener (see directions below)

Directions:

1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups water, a cinnamon stick, salt, and oatmeal to a boil. (If you don’t have a cinnamon stick, you can add ground cinnamon to taste later.)

2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir continuously for about 3 minutes.

3. Add milk and stir until heated through. Remove from heat.

4. While still warm, you’ll want to add the sweetener. I usually use brown sugar, (4 packed tablespoons), but you can use piloncillo, dulce de atado, or dulce de panela. My suegra never would have added more sugar than this as she doesn’t like things overly sweet, but feel free to add more if you don’t find it sweet enough. You can also add ground cinnamon for more flavor as this recipe yields a very mild tasting atol de avena.

5. Serve warm. Makes about 4 cups.

Perro Portero

purin

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!

¿Necesita un momento de ternura? Este perro de raza beagle que se llama Purín y vive en Japón está listo por La Copa Mundial! Mira como defiende la portería.

Fuente: MAS.SV

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Need a moment of cuteness? This Beagle named Purín who lives in Japan is ready for the World Cup! Look how he defends the goal!

Source: MAS.SV

Chicharito and #WorldCupWives

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn't you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn’t you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Image source: Gary Denness

This morning, up before the sun, I grabbed my phone and started going through email before I was even out of bed. I don’t really encourage this habit, but some days, like today, I will come upon something in my email that puts a smile on my face and wakes me up on the right note.

The smile on my face this morning was put there by a video posted on Mi Blog es Tu Blog, (which I subscribe to because Laura Martínez is awesome at discovering really interesting and often hilarious things.) The video she posted is actually a re-blog of something she discovered back in 2011, but I’m glad she re-blogged it because I had never seen it, and maybe it’ll be new to you, too.

The video was uploaded by a creative young woman by the name of Brittany Young, who is apparently a soccer fan, and a Chicharito fan in particular. (A girl after my own corazón!) – The song is set to The Beatles’ “Let it Be” and is called “Little Pea.” ¡Me encanta!

I actually heard a rumor that Chicharito may play for Barcelona, (Chicharito and Messi? Hello, unstoppable team!) so I hope we can anticipate a Javier Hernández tribute song to the tune of a Julio Iglesias or Gypsy Kings song. Anyway, while we’re on the topic of Chicharito songs, have I ever shared “El Chicharito”? – I don’t think I have. Be prepared to have this stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Jajajaja…

Carajo, while we’re here, let’s just make a Chicharito playlist.

Okay, not really – those are actually the best Chicharito songs, so I’ll stop there, but since we’re talking about fútbol, I wanted to mention a new project one of my fellow gringa bloggers is working on called “World Cup Wives.” Sarah of A Life With Subtitles and her friend Katie are going to be doing some video commentary of the games this summer. Apparently their husbands tend to be “less than enthusiastic” regarding their comments on players’ cuteness, family lives, attractiveness of uniforms, and such. (I understand where they’re coming from because I’m probably going to have to pay for that little piropo I made at the very top of this blog post about “white bread.” Carlos won’t be amused.)

Anyway, you can see the first #WorldCupWives blog post here and the first video here, (both are hilarious and worth checking out!) … If you’re a blogger and relate to being a #WorldCupWife, you’re also invited to share a post or video about how you were introduced to the world of soccer using the hashtag.

Less than 50 days to go until the start of the games! Until then… El Chicharito, el Chicharito, el Chicharitoritoritooo!…

Note: I am not an official sponsor or partner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Any mention of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was editorial in nature and should not be interpreted as an endorsement on their part of myself, my opinions, or this website. I am just a soccer fan sharing with other soccer fans. All opinions are my own.

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

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.)

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

Regalitos de México

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!

El fin de semana pasado pasamos un tiempo super bellísimo con unos amigos que visitaron Washington D.C. desde México, (¡y por eso no escribí mi entrada de Spanish Friday!) Los amigos que nos visitaron fueron nuestra querida amiga, Sue, que ya conociamos por unos años por internet y Skype pero nunca cara a cara, y también su esposo, Toño.

Otro día quiero contar más sobre su visita porque tengo mucho que quiero decir, (todavía es díficil para mi poner en palabras la felicidad que esta visita nos dio) – entonces, por ahora sólo los regalitos que nos trajeron les voy a enseñar.

¡Y qué regalos más lindos nos trajeron! …

muyinteresante

Estas revistas en español se llaman “Muy Interesante” y con mucha razón porque son muy interesantes, (¡como dice Sue!) Ya pasé horas leyéndolas con mi hijo menor. Las revistas “Muy Interesante” son buenísimas para empezar conversaciones sobre cosas de que usualmente no hablamos y para aprender vocabulario más técnico y científico.

superman-spanish

También nos trajeron un cómic y es muy divertido leer porque los ruidos son bien diferentes cuando pelean los personajes.

gallo-bowl-mexico

Un gallo de Oaxaca para el guacamole de Carlos.

mexican-spoons

Cucharas pintadas a mano, (las voy a colgar en la pared en vez de cocinar con ellas porque son demasiado bonitas.)

mexican-spoon-handles

Y…

pinata-earrings

¡aretes de Guadalajara diseñados como piñatas! Lo mejor es que todos los regalos (además de las revistas), apoyan a los artesanos en México.

Veo estos regalos cada día y mientras yo ya extraño a Sue y Toño, me siento muy, pero muy, agradecida por nuestra amistad.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Last weekend we spent an amazingly beautiful time with some friends who were visiting Washington D.C. from Mexico, (and that’s why I didn’t write my Spanish Friday post!) The friends that visited us were our dear friend, Sue, who we’ve known through the internet and Skype for a few years, but had never met face-to-face, and her husband, Toño.

Another day I want to tell more about their visit because I have a lot I want to say, (it’s still difficult for me to put in words the happiness their visit gave us) – so, for now I’ll just show you the gifts that they brought.

And what beautiful gifts they brought!

These magazines in Spanish are called “Muy Interesante” and with good reason – they’re very interesting, (as Sue says!) I’ve already spent hours reading these with my younger son. The “Muy Interesante” magazines are fantastic for starting conversations about things we usually wouldn’t talk about and for learning more technical and scientific vocabulary.

They also brought us a comic book which is really amusing to read because the sounds are really different when the characters fight.

A rooster [bowl] from Oaxaca for Carlos’s guacamole.

Spoons painted by hand, (I’m going to hang them on the wall because they’re too pretty to damage.)

And…

earrings from Guadalajara designed like piñatas! The best thing is that all of the gifts, (except the magazines), support artisans in Mexico.

I see these gifts each day and while I already miss Sue and Toño, I feel very, very, thankful for our friendship.