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!

ceramica-de-los-ancestros

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

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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!

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El Salvador phone case from Zazzle/AllWorldTees

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Sugar Skulls phone case from Zazzle/Thaneeya McArdle

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World Map phone case from Zazzle/PMCustomGifts

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

An Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador

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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.

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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.

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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! …

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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.

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

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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.)

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Y…

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¡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.

Tattoos in Latin American Culture

bird tattoo - Latinaish.com

Carlos’s second tattoo

I don’t have a single tattoo, and while I have nothing against them, it’s a good thing I never got one. Impulsive as I tend to be, and with passions that change over time, the tattoo I would have wanted at 18 years old is not one I would have been happy with today. At times I have drawn a design on myself with permanent marker (usually on my wrist) to see how it would look, and even if I love it, by the end of the day, I’m ready to wash it off. If I ever get one, maybe it would be something functional, like a “to do” list, or a Harry Potter reference, perhaps a favorite Lotería card, but for now I’m happy being ink-free.

Carlos on the other hand has two tattoos and has been planning on a third. The first one he got was my name on his back – his mother still doesn’t know about it, (unless she discovered this blog.) … She lived with us at the time Carlos got it and it was awkward to see him as a grown man, making sure he didn’t have his shirt off around his mother lest she find out. Apparently his older brother got a tattoo years ago and it earned him a good slap in the face when he showed her.

I’ve asked Carlos before, “Why do you get tattoos?” – because each individual has different reasons. Aside from liking the way they look, he’s realized that part of it is a sort of rebellion for him. His mother always had strict expectations for Carlos that dictated everything about how he live his life – some of those expectations being illogical, unfair, impossible, and burdensome. Getting tattoos is one way he began to claim his independence – more so an internal message to himself than an outward message to her, since, like I said, she still doesn’t even know about the tattoos.

The second tattoo Carlos got is of a pre-Columbian bird symbol, a reminder of his roots.

I love both his tattoos, and more importantly, he does too, but they haven’t been without problems.

When we traveled back to El Salvador, at one point Carlos wanted to renew his DUI, (which is a form of Salvadoran identification, not a “Driving Under the Influence.”) At DUI Centro (which is sort of like the Department of Motor Vehicles) you have to state whether you have tattoos as part of the process to get your ID. If they don’t believe you, they have you remove your shirt for inspection.

Having a tattoo in El Salvador can carry a heavy stigma and cause suspicion from law enforcement due to the history of gangs and their love of ink. Gang members themselves may also target you if they suspect you’re from a different gang.

Apparently, not only is there a stigma in Latin America because of gangs, but this has caused problems for Latino immigrants to the United States who have been denied visas, permanent residency and citizenship just because of their tattoos.

Here are some quotes from people on having tattoos in El Salvador:

“My friend’s first time going to El Salvador, he had tattoos on his arms and some gang members on the streets saw him and even followed him to his abuela’s house. Although the tattoos weren’t gang related, the gang members associated the tats with some other gang they didn’t know. They threatened him and said he had to pay “rent” and not to try and do anything funny. Every 20 minutes, the same red car came by and stop in front of the house which obviously meant someone was keeping an eye on him. He had to sneak out of the house that night and stay at another relatives house.”Amanda F., Trip Advisor

“If you’re of Salvadoran descent…you should definitely take care to cover them. There’s a huge difference between a white girl with tattoos and a Latino in ES. Many companies won’t even hire someone with even one tattoo here, that’s how deep the preconceived notion of tats are.”travel82bug, Trip Advisor

“I have one that I can conceal which I got when I was 18. When my mother saw it ten years later she stormed out and I had to chase after her to then hear a one hour lecture on how I have ruined my body, made my self look like a criminal, only gang members have tattoos in El Salvador, blah blah blah… She’s more accepting now that both her daughters have small hidden tattoos and both of her Australian son-in-laws have them too. As respect for her, and because of the stigma I would probably not get another one though. And when I took my husband to El Salvador last year I made him cover the tattoos on his arms and chest. Now I am a mother I think I might get upset too when/if my baby boy gets one, even if it is a beautiful one… I made him so perfectly beautiful. I understand my own mother now.”Lamden, Facebook

“My husband got his mother’s middle name instead of her first name on his arm because her first name has an ‘M’ in it. He won’t get our daughters name either because of the ‘M.’ The cantón where he’s from has a lot of 18 [18th street] gang members so to put an ‘M’ on himself would be a death wish.”Josie Iraheta, Facebook

“I have 3 tattoos that I got latter in my life, and when I went back to ES to visit my parents, my dad asked me to cover them, because his co-workers and friends would be put off by them. I got upset but honored his request out of respect. I wasn’t treated different by anyone else because of my ink, and I look like your normal average middle age woman when I cover them. But I want to get one by a Salvadorian artist if I go back to ES.”LadyAmalthea, Facebook

The good news is that in recent years, there has been a strong, organized movement to change perceptions of tattoos in El Salvador and in other parts of Latin America. At the time of this writing, almost a dozen tattoo parlors are listed for San Salvador in the Páginas Amarillas.

Do you have a tattoo? Have you experienced discrimination from strangers, friends or family in El Salvador or elsewhere? Share in comments!

Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

© Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

© Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

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. English translation in italics!

La primera vez que encontré el arte de Edmundo Otoniel Mejía fue en una toalla – ¡en serio! Mi suegra me trajo una toalla de El Salvador y en la toalla había una escena bien bonita de gente clasificando granos de café. Me gustó tanto la escena en la toalla que busqué información sobre el artista por internet y descubrí que el artista es un salvadoreño que se llama Edmundo Otoniel Mejía.

A veces me gustan uno o dos cuadros de un artista, pero no me interesan por los demás – Eso no fue el caso con el arte del Señor Otoniel Mejía – ¡al contrario! Me gustaron tanto cada uno de los cuadros porque representan perfectamente la vida diaria de El Salvador, (hasta que hay perros callejeros en cada caudro – ¡un detalle que me encanta!) Quería comprar un cuadro, pero desafortunadamente los originales están fuera de mi presupuesto. Ojalá un día cuándo regresemos a visitar El Salvador vaya a encontrar impresiones accesibles de sus cuadros, o por lo menos, más toallas.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

The first time I encountered the art of Edmundo Otoniel Mejía was on a towel – seriously! My mother-in-law brought me a towel from El Salvador and on the towel was depicted a really pretty scene of people sorting coffee beans. I liked the image on the towel so much that I turned to the internet for information about the artist and discovered that the artist is a Salvadoran named Edmundo Othniel Mejia.

Sometimes I only like one or two of an artist’s paintings, but don’t really care for the others. However, that was not the case with the art of Mr. Otoniel Mejía – on the contrary! I loved each painting so much because they each perfectly represent daily life in El Salvador (to the point that there are street dogs in each painting – a detail which I love!) I wanted to buy a painting, but unfortunately the originals are beyond my budget. Hopefully one day when we return to visit El Salvador I’ll be able to find affordable prints of his paintings, or at least, more towels.

Do-it-Yourself Lotería Ornaments

TracyLopez_Latinaish_LoteriaOrnaments1

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.

Each year we decorate the tree and each year I’m not content with the ornaments I have to choose from or the ones available at the store. None of the ornaments are quite what I’m looking for which means I end up looking for unconventional ways to remedy the situation. One year I even ended up hanging capiruchos on the tree!

This year I decided I’ll make my own ornaments. Because the holiday season is so hectic, I wanted something that wouldn’t take too long, and because the budget is tight this time of year, I didn’t want it to be too expensive either. Here is the craft that resulted!

These Loteria ornaments took me about two hours from start to finish and cost about $15 if, like me, you have many of these items on hand already. I’m so happy with the way they came out. I can’t wait to decorate the tree. Here’s how you can make your own custom ornaments for yourself or as a gift. Will you make Loteria ornaments or something else? Other ideas: family photos, photos of your native country (if you live elsewhere) or, the covers of favorite books – the possibilities are endless!

Custom Handmade Ornaments

What you need:

Jigsaw, table saw or handsaw
Safety glasses
3/8 x 3 x 24″ pine craft board (two)
#216 – ½ x ½ in. zinc screw eyes, 10 pack (three)
Medium grit sandpaper
Ruler, yard stick, or measuring tape
Pencil
Scissors
Elmer’s Glue-All, general purpose adhesive
Small craft paint brush
White mason line (string)
A heavy book
Digital images you wish to make into ornaments (and a printer)
Card stock for your printer (not available at Lowe’s)

Directions:

1. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a line on each of your boards every two inches.

2. Wearing safety glasses, use a jigsaw, table saw or handsaw to cut the board on each line so that you end up with 24 two inch blocks of wood. (I used the Rockwell BladeRunner sent to me by Rockwell. It cut through the wood like butter and was really comfortable to use right on the dinner table where I do most of my crafting. I think I see more projects involving wood cutting in my future!)

rockwell_bladerunner

3. Lightly sand the rough edges on each piece if necessary. Set aside. (Optional: You can paint the blocks of wood any color you like and allow to dry. I chose to leave mine natural.)

4. Print whichever images you wish to use on your ornaments on card stock. (Card stock is sturdier than regular copy/printer paper and will hold up to glue better.) Make sure that your images are small enough to fit on the face of the wood block. I kept mine around 1 ½ x 2 inches. I found Microsoft Word useful for this. I scanned the images into my computer and then opened them in Microsoft Word which has a built-in ruler across the top of the document.

5. Cut out the images with scissors.

6. Using a small paintbrush, brush glue on the back of each image, (working on one image/ornament at a time.) Position the image in the center of the block of wood and push down to adhere. Place a heavy book or other flat heavy object on top of the ornament for a minute to help the image to dry flat and adhere well. (Optional: If using specialty decoupage craft glue which advertises that it can be used for “sealing” as well as adhering, feel free to paint over top of the image to give it a finished glossy look and allow the ornament to air dry without any heavy object placed on top. Painting over top the image is not advised if using Elmer’s Glue-All.)

7. Once dry, twist a screw eye into the top side of each ornament. If your fingers become tired, needle-nose pliers will help you screw them into the wood. Tip: Sometimes a careful little tap with a hammer will help get the screw eyes securely into the wood before you attempt to turn/screw them in.

8. Cut the string, (I used white mason line because I like the simplicity of it, but you can use any color or type of string you like), into pieces about 4 inches long. (You will need 24 of them.)

9. Put each piece of string through the screw eye on each ornament and tie in a knot.

10. Your ornaments are ready to hang on your tree! Feliz Navidad!

TracyLopez_Latinaish_LoteriaOrnaments2

TracyLopez_Latinaish_LoteriaOrnaments3

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Regalitos de Bolivia

boliviagifts1

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!

Una amiga mia, (Susan de Medina Adventures) me dijo que quería mandarme regalitos de Bolivia – el país de su esposo. Con alegría acepté su amable oferta y esperé pacientemente los regalitos en el correo. Bueno, llegó el paquete y cuando lo abrí, no podía creerlo. Esas cosas no eran “regalitos” – eran regalotes! Me encanta tanto cada cosa que ella y su esposo me mandaron. ¡Vean por ustedes mismos la maravilla de los recuerdos bolivianos!

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[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

A friend of mine, (Susan of Medina Adventures) told me she wanted to send me some little gifts from Bolivia – her husband’s country. Happily I accepted her kind offer and waited patiently for the little gifts in the mail. Well, the package arrived and when I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. These were not “little gifts” – they were big gifts! I love each thing she and her husband sent so much. See for yourselves the awesomeness of the Bolivian souvenirs!