Recycled Soda Can Luminary

can-lantern-finished-project

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.

September is a beautiful time of year to be outside at all hours. If you have a nice patio, it’s the perfect season to have an evening dinner party with friends or familia – but what’s a patio dinner party without a little mood lighting? Luminaries hung on a string or from trees can be so pretty. Here’s a method for making little lanterns out of recycled soda cans.

Do-it-Yourself Recycled Soda Can Luminary

What you need:

empty soda cans
x-acto knife
paper towels
screwdriver
string or wire
tealights (I highly recommend battery-operated tealights to ensure there’s no fire hazard)

Note: I do not consider this a safe craft for kids. The x-acto knife is obviously sharp but so is the soda can once it’s cut. Please be very careful.

Directions:

can-project-cans

1. Fill empty soda cans a little more than 3/4 of the way with water. Place in the freezer for a few hours, until water inside has frozen. Do not leave any longer than necessary as the water will expand and the can will bust and become unusable.

can-project-fill-w-water

2. Take the can out of the freezer and place on top of a few paper towels. Being extremely careful, use the x-acto knife to cut slits in the can as shown. The lines must be elongated ‘S’ shapes. Do not cut straight lines or it won’t turn out right. The more slits you make, the more intricate the design will be. You need at least 8.

can-project-S-shape-cuts

3. Use warm water to melt the ice inside the soda can, (or allow to melt in the sink.) Gently shake dry.

4. Insert the screwdriver into the inside of the can and use it to push the strips outward. Gently push down on the top of the can to help push them out. Take your time and work at the strips until they’re rounded and look nice.

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5. Pull the tab of the soda can up, being careful not to snap it off. Tie a string or bit of wire to it as a hanger or run a length of string through several lanterns to hang.

6. Being careful not to cut your fingers, insert a tealight inside. (Battery operated highly recommended.)

can-project-with-battery-light

soda-can-lantern

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Central American Artifacts in D.C.

Did you know that the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. has a large bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit called “Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed“? It’s there until February 15, 2015 and features more than 160 objects from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – so check it out while you can if you live in the area. If not, here are a few highlights!

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designs

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Carlos said, "Hey, this one looks like me!" even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Carlos said, “Hey, this one looks like me!” even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Want more?

The National Museum of the American Indian website has more information related to the exhibit including photos, video, and even a really awesome printable coloring book for the niños!

Latin American Themed Cellphone Cases

latin-american-cellphones

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

Several years ago I was diagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a common ailment for writers to develop, and I still haven’t gotten around to having surgery. Besides my hands feeling weak and arthritic at times, one of the worst symptoms of CTS is the increased instance of total butterfinger moments. (Those who have CTS know what I’m talking about!)

For the rest of you, let me explain: I’ll be holding something (an ice cream cone, a book, the remote control) and all of a sudden, my hand will just decide all on its own, that it doesn’t want to hold it anymore. I get no warning whatsoever. A frequent victim of these butterfinger moments is my cellphone.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve dropped my phone – and some of them have been from standing position over concrete. Thankfully I have a case on my phone and so far (knock on wood), my Samsung Galaxy s4 hasn’t been damaged. I’m sure that having a case on my phone has been at least partly responsible for protecting it, so I recently decided to invest in another case, as the one I have on it is pretty boring, (just a cheap grey-colored one.) While looking for a new case, I realized that some of you guys would probably love these as much as I do. Want to help me pick out which one I should buy? I narrowed it down to four and I’m having trouble choosing. Let me know in comments which case I should get!

el-salvador-phonecase
El Salvador phone case from Zazzle/AllWorldTees

sugarskulls-case
Sugar Skulls phone case from Zazzle/Thaneeya McArdle

world-map-case
World Map phone case from Zazzle/PMCustomGifts

frida-1-case
Frida Kahlo phone case from FineArtAmerica/Elena Day

For more from Cricket Wireless ambassadors, follow the #VidaConCricket hashtag and @MiCricket on Twitter.

Brazilian Bon Bons (Brigadeiros)

brigadeiros-2

With the World Cup coming up, I’ve got my mind on Brazil – but more specifically, I can’t stop thinking about Brazilian food. I did some research (also known as looking at photos of food for several hours) and have come to a conclusion – my life needs more Brazilian food in it. During the World Cup, my cocina will become a cozinha, (you guys are pretty smart so I don’t have to tell you that’s Portuguese for “kitchen”, right?)

Since I have pretty much zero experience in Brazilian cuisine, I decided to start out with the easiest recipe I could find.

Brigadeiros are basically Brazilian bon bons, or maybe more accurately, truffles. From what I read, they are the most popular candy in Brazil and essential at children’s birthday parties.

brigadeiros-1

I love how mine turned out. They’re like little soccer balls (how perfect!) … And the ones with the little round sprinkles remind me of Huichol beaded art.

If you want to make a batch of brigadeiros, the recipe I used is on From Brazil To You.

Anyone want to join me in learning to make some Brazilian dishes during the World Cup? Leave a comment and let me know!

How to Paint a Portable Mural

how-to-paint-a-portable-mural-latinaish

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.

I have loved murals for as long back as I can remember, and so it was only natural that one day I would want to move from an admirer of murals to a creator of murals. At 12 years old I asked my mother if I could paint a mural on my bedroom wall, and I will be forever thankful that she allowed me to, no questions asked.

Since growing up and moving out on my own, I have continued to paint murals on the walls in every place I’ve lived. The only sad thing about a mural is that you can’t take it with you when you move, and if you decide to re-paint a room, it often gets painted over, with no way to preserve it. So when I decided I wanted to paint a new small-scale mural this time, I decided to make it portable. (Which is actually something Mexican painter Diego Rivera did in a much larger scale!)

I chose murals in La Palma, El Salvador, in the traditional style created by Fernando Llort, for my inspiration. While this portable mural measures only 8 x 24 inches, I hope to do a bigger one later. Here’s how you can make one too!

How to: Paint a Portable Mural

You need:

1 untreated piece of wood board (whichever size you want. The one pictured is 8 x 24 inches) – Try to find one with as little defects and knots as possible.

Paint in various colors, (I love the Valspar samples at Lowe’s which are only a couple dollars each. They come in so many bright, beautiful shades.)

paint-samples

Paint brushes in various sizes

A pencil

A yardstick

A piece of drafting paper

Directions:

1. Measure the length and width of the wood. On the drafting paper, with one square equaling one inch, draw a rectangle to the same dimensions as your wood.

drawing-mural

(Note: If you’ll be hanging the mural instead of just setting it on a shelf or mantle, you will need to carefully add picture hangers to the back of the wood at this point – Just make sure the screws are much shorter than the depth of the wood so you don’t go through and damage the side you’ll be painting.)

2. Within this rectangle on the drafting paper, create your design with pencil.

3. Once you’re happy with your design, you’re going to manually transfer it to the piece of wood, using the grid on the drafting paper as a guide. Don’t feel overwhelmed – just go square by square and draw what you see. Use pencil so you can erase and correct as needed. As you transfer the design, you may feel comfortable changing some elements of it – go ahead! It doesn’t have to be exactly like your original draft.

squares-on-wood

4. Take a moment to plan ahead and decide which colors you want to use and where. This may change as you work, but it’s good to have a general idea before plunging in.

5. Start painting!

painting-the-mural

finished-mural

6. Allow the paint to dry. Once the paint is dry, you can put your mural wherever you want, and because it’s portable, if you change your mind – no problem! Just move it elsewhere!

mural-on-shelf

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An Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador

alfredo-genovese

I love art in general, but the diverse art of Latin America is my favorite to explore. It was during one of these internet explorations that I stumbled upon the traditional Argentinian art called “fileteado” and one of its most respected modern day masters, artist Alfredo Genovese.

havanna-alfredo-genovese

If the style looks familiar to you, it’s possible that you recognize it as the type of art historically found on the sides of wagons, particularly those used by circuses. The art seems to have originated in Italy and was brought to Argentina by immigrants where it has become its own unique style known as the “Fileteado Porteño” of Buenos Aires.

When Alfredo Genovese studied art, he was surprised to find that Fileteado was not part of the school’s curriculum, and so he went to study under masters of the art, traveling around the world, before returning to Buenos Aires where he makes a living as an artist and a teacher of Fileteado.

cocacola-fileteado

I emailed Mr. Genovese to ask if I could feature him and some of his art here, and to my surprise, he even agreed to an interview (below!)

Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador

Latinaish: For those who aren’t from Argentina and don’t know what “Fileteado” is, can you explain?

Alfredo Genovese: Fileteado is a popular decorative art form originating from the horse cart factories of Buenos Aires in the early 20th Century. It is a hand-painted, brightly coloured style, which has a real life of its own. Vibrant contrasting colours, with highlights and lowlights, often incorporating symbols such as the acanthus leaf, dragons, flowers, birds, cornucopias, ribbons and scrolls etc. Recently inspiring the work of graphic designers and Tattoo artists also.

Latinaish: What attracted you to working as a fileteador, more so than other types of art?

Alfredo Genovese: My interest in Fileteado began when I was an art student at the school of Bellas Artes, and was disappointed to see that this traditional Argentinian art form was not taught in schools. I began to study the basics with an old master Fileteado painter called Leon Untriob. Any information regarding this old art form was very limited at the time, so I decided to investigate as much as possible about the technique and later began teaching Fileteado workshops and have also published 3 books about it.

Latinaish: You’ve traveled all over the world! What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from other cultures that you’ve applied to your life and/or art?

Alfredo Genovese: I learned a lot about the value of elaborate and meticulous art work from different cultures all over the world. How to be methodical and patient like all those artisans who create their work daily.

Latinaish: What has been your favorite project so far? Why?

Alfredo Genovese: Three years ago I painted a live Bull. It was a challenge and the first time I had painted an animal weighing more than 1000kg.

Latinaish: What would your advice be to a young person who is thinking about studying to become a fileteador? Is there anything you wish you knew when you were a student first starting out?

Alfredo Genovese: I think its important for an artist to find their own style, different to what is commonly seen. To keep investigating and practice a lot. To be patient and self critical to achieve work of good content and quality. Actually Fileteado is not only a pictorial skill, but also a way of representing conceptual ideas.

I want to thank Mr. Genovese for his time and for sharing his art with us. You can learn more at his website, which is in both English and Spanish. On his website you will find more examples of his art, history and information about Fileteado, dates for workshops, and books about Fileteado which are available for purchase, (PDF summaries of the books can also be downloaded.) Love Fileteado? Follow Alfredo Genovese on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

(Images are copyright Alfredo Genovese and have been used with permission.)

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.

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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.