Category Archives: art

Mini Faux Papel Picado

Making real, authentic papel picado takes patience and dexterity. If you want to make a quick, fun mini-version with the niños, here’s a fun craft to do.

Mini Faux Papel Picado

What you need:

• colored construction paper
• scissors
• clear tape
• floss, string or yarn
• an imagination

Cut out small rectangles of colored construction paper, equal in size.

Fold the paper in quarters. (You can fold it more or less – whatever you like.)

Cut little snips and shapes out of the paper at different angles. (Remember making paper snowflakes as a child? Same technique.) … Also, it looks best if you scallop the edges in some way.

Repeat this process with rectangles of different colors. When finished, line them up on the table and tape them to a piece of floss, string or yarn before hanging up.

Latin Music Legends Stamps

I bought my Latin Music Legends stamps last week.

Now to decide if I have the heart to actually use them. (Selena is my favorite, though Carmen Miranda is a close second.)


My cumple is at the end of the month, but Carlos wanted to give me his gift un poco temprano.

This is Carlos’s first and only tattoo… y lo amo!

Suegra still doesn’t know about it. When she finds out, she will probably threaten to disown him, (otra vez.) She believes tattoos are a pecado and that only “mala gente” like pandilleros get them. When Carlos told me this I said, “Wait, doesn’t your older brother have tattoos?”

“Yeah,” Carlos said, “but when my mother found out, she slapped him.”

So Carlos’s birthday present to me? A permanent reminder of his love, and the promise of mucho drama to blog about in the coming days.

(Thanks, nene!)

Eastern Market

Because we went to try Tortilla Café recently, we also had a chance to walk around Eastern Market in Southeast D.C. which is right across the street.

Eastern market has a little of everything – mostly food and handicrafts. It’s an excellent place for people watching, photography, spending an afternoon, and shopping, of course. The mix of scents; sliced apples to sample, fresh popped kettle corn, spicy incense, and a dozen other things, reminded me of the market in El Salvador. You could also hear a mix of languages, music, and a man selling newspapers on the corner.

There is a building that houses the indoor market which is mostly butchers/meat counters, fresh produce, baked goods and a few other things mixed in. (This is also where the restrooms are.) At one end of the indoor market there is plenty of seating if you want to eat something you’ve purchased right there, while listening to live music.

The market spills out onto 7th Street which is closed to traffic. Vendors line the sidewalks under canopies selling everything from candles, handmade toys, scarves, jewelry, paintings, and wind chimes, to apples, salsa, handbags, hats, antique furniture and more. Across the street in a fenced lot are even more vendors.

Peruvian vendors were my favorite, of course.

I made Carlos buy me a llama.

While we were walking around, I kept seeing this little dog. She was so adorable and I wanted to take her photo but I didn’t want the owners to see me do so. Since they never looked away from my general direction, I decided I wanted the photo badly enough to ask them.

“Is that a Chihuahua mixed with Dachshund?” I asked.
“That’s exactly what she is! She’s a Chiweenie!” she said.

I can’t think of a sweeter mix than that. I asked the owner if I could take the dog’s photo and she very willingly agreed.

Tips If You Go:

• Bring cash. There’s an ATM in the indoor market, but if it’s not your bank, you’ll pay a fee.

• Bring toilet paper. The women’s bathroom didn’t have any. I made Carlos steal me a roll from the men’s.

• Bring your appetite. There’s plenty to eat, including free samples.

• Bring the kids. This market is very family friendly.

For directions, hours of operation and more, visit

Salvadoran Folk Art

Village by artist Fernando Llort

The traditional style of art in El Salvador comes from the northern town of La Palma, and that is where artists are trained and live today.
Originating from an artist named Fernando Llort, the art is simple and colorful, typically making use of animals such as birds, rabbits, and turtles, as well as common objects such as flowers, trees, and houses.
After traveling and studying in Europe in the United States, Llort returned to El Salvador amidst war. Leaving San Salvador for La Palma, he started an artist workshop called, “La Semilla de Dios.”
Teaching the people of La Palma to make art has given them an alternative way to make a living. Today, if you buy a souvenir in El Salvador, chances are it will feature folk art in this traditional style.
One of my own souvenirs:

A wooden cross from El Salvador

Photos of murals in La Palma, which I really love.

© All rights reserved by Richard & Jo


© All rights reserved by Richard & Jo

Image source: Permission granted by Flickr users Richard & Jo, (gracias!)
The website of artist, Fernando Llort (Free gift when you join the mailing list!)
Souvenirs –
Souvenirs Part II –


(Image source: laughingmonk)

(Image source: laughingmonk)

1. the art or process of printing with type.
2. the work of setting and arranging types and of printing from them.
3. the general character or appearance of printed matter.


As a lover of both art and words, it’s inevitable that I would love typography. Words have meaning all their own, but when design is thrown into the mix, the emotion of it is amplified. When typography is done right, it can evoke an exact emotion – wistfulness, nostalgia, romance, anger, playfulness, seriousness, excitement, peacefulness, hunger.

(Image source:

(Image source: Copyright Stephen Raw)

(Image source: Danielle Bardgette)

(Image source:

(Image source: Copyright Nick Sherman)

Typography is used in magazines, art, television advertisements, restaurant signs, on products and everywhere imaginable to grab your attention.

In recent years, typography has also been used in music videos. This is often referred to as “moving typography” or “animated typography”. I had seen quite a few of these sorts of videos in English and was absolutely enamored, so I went in search of “moving typography” videos in Spanish. I discovered an Uruguyan band called “El Cuarteto de Nos”, who has used this in their videos. I love it! Not only is it fun, but it’s a good way to learn the spelling and pronunciation of some words you might not know. (Not to mention, la música está bien chida.)


Paper Marigolds

Marigolds are the flower used to decorate for Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Latin America. The Marigold is also a popular flower in bloom in gardens in the United States during Autumn.

I decided I wanted to make some, but all crafts for making flowers involved tissue paper, which I never seem to have on hand. What I do have an abundance of is colored construction paper, so I set to work to figure it out. After a few false starts, I finally came up with this method. The result is so nice that I wanted to share it with you so you can make Marigolds with your niños.

Paper Marigolds
(caléndulas de papel)

What you need:

• construction paper (preferably orange colored)
• scissors
• a drinking glass
• a pencil
• a stapler

Use a drinking glass to draw 3 circles on a piece of orange construction paper.

Cut out all 3 circles. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.)

Hold all 3 circles together and fold in half, (so it looks like a little taco.)

Fold in half again. (Now it should be more of a cone shape.)

Place one staple in the pointy end to hold it together.

Cut slits, evenly spaced, into the rounded side. (You will want to cut a little deeper than what you see in the photo.)

Pinch your flower open. Use your fingers to pull the layers apart from each other and shape the petals.

Día de Los Muertos at The National Museum of the American Indian

Some people wouldn’t think that you can find Latin American art and culture at a museum for American Indians, but you can because Latin American culture is a mix of indigenous and Spanish culture. So, until Washington D.C. builds the much needed National Museum of The American Latino, this is a good place to look for a little Latinidad.

While the American Indian museum will have special events specifically for Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), they have many things on display year round.

“Day of the Dead rituals date back thousands of years. Early Mesoamerican peoples saw death as a continuation of life. They believed deceased members of their family could return to them during a month long celebration in late summer.

Spanish colonizers tried and failed to put an end to the ritual. Instead, to integrate it into Christian tradition, they moved its observance to the first two days of November: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.”

-Printed on a plaque at The National Museum of the American Indian

These women were sewing and I didn’t want to disturb them by snapping photos too closely or interrupt them by asking questions, so I’m not sure of their ethnicity, but their colorful embroidery reminded me very much of Latin America.

Also on display…

Will you be my Diego?

After reading my friend Juan’s genius post on Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costumes (Estilo Mexicano, por supuesto!), I was reminded that I haven’t gotten a costume ready for my boys.

Looking around the house at what we already have on hand, I decided my youngest son would be a mariachi. I found a little guitar in their closet and then using a few odds and ends from Suegra’s sewing supplies, a little hot glue and pins, (because unlike Suegra, I can’t sew to save my life), I have a cute little traje de mariachi… But mariachi is not really mariachi with one lonely guitarist.

The problem is, my older son turned 12 over the summer, and I had previously told him he would no longer be trick-or-treating. I wasn’t happy to break the news to him because despite the shadow of a mustache and the fact that he’s taller than me, he is still very much a child at heart… But, because of my mariachi situation and the fact that he plays trumpet, I’m going to let him go one more year. (Honestly, I hate getting older children at my door asking for candy, but if they actually put effort into the costume and are polite, I think it should be okay.)

As for myself, I haven’t dressed up in years, but I felt inspired. After thinking about it, I decided I wanted to dress up as Frida Kahlo. The only question is, will Carlos be my Diego Rivera? So far he has refused. The conversations have gone something like this:

“I want to dress as Frida Kahlo … will you dress as Diego?”
“Diego Rivera.”
“Who’s that?”
“Her husband! A famous Mexican artist!”
“No way.”
“It won’t be chistoso, te juro!”
“It’s just a normal outfit, like a suit jacket, and…”
“Come on!”

…Later in the evening, I thought maybe if Carlos got a taste of my costume, he would be able to see my vision for how chévere this would be, and be convinced. So using an eyebrow pencil, I drew my eyebrows closer together and then put my hair up whimsically, before throwing on some artsy earrings and an elegant serape.

“Look!” I said, “I’m Frida!”

And then Carlos laughed and laughed until he almost cried. “You look like one of those weird old ladies from my neighborhood growing up!”

“Hey! No I don’t! I look pretty! I’m Frida!” I said, my unibrow furrowed.

Later that night as we lay in bed in the darkness, I thought maybe I could convince him to agree if he was half-asleep.

“Will you be my Diego?”
“Will you be my Diego?”
“….no. Go to sleep.”
“He’s a little fat so you’ll need a pillow under-”

So, I don’t know if I’ll be Frida if Carlos won’t be Diego. So far, all my usual tricks to get him involved in my locuras have failed. Stay tuned!



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