Category Archives: celebration
I am officially the mother of a quinceañero. The party was on Saturday and the house looked very festive. (Although I should say, “more festive than usual” because gringo neighbors have told me our decor looks festive at times when we weren’t celebrating anything at all.)
Besides the paper flower garland, a few banners, and colorful balloons, I also made a large collage with photos of my son. There are 14 photos in all, one for each year of his life up until now. I had originally planned to leave a spot in the middle for a photo of him as a 15 year old, but there wasn’t space.
The collage was one of many things which didn’t come out quite the way I imagined. You know how quinceañeras trade their flats for high heels? I had planned for my son to trade his sneakers for a pair of formal shoes. While he liked the idea of new shoes, he thought doing any sort of ceremony with them in front of people was “too weird.” So we bought him a pair of shoes but we didn’t do anything special with them during the party.
I had also considered a “brindis” but my family is not really the toasting type. Instead I came up with a creative way for us to “toast” the birthday boy without making a big show of things. I put a stack of index cards and pens on a table with a sign encouraging guests to write down birthday wishes, advice, or a favorite memory from his childhood. The things people wrote were really heartwarming and the cards make a great keepsake for my son.
As for the food, I had planned to make everything myself but by the time I finished making the tamales, I was so exhausted that we decided to order the pupusas from one of our favorite pupuserías, Santa Rosa in Frederick, Maryland. We were so pleased with the care they took in preparing them and packaging them that I wrote them a “thank you” card today.
Everyone enjoyed the pupusas, tamales and snacking on yucca and plantain chips.
To drink we served multiple flavors of Jarritos along with a few other choices. My older sister asked me if anyone mixes Jarritos. I told her I don’t know anyone who does but she decided to try mixing the orange and pineapple, (which she says is good.)
Although I had planned to serve the traditional tres leches, my mother offered to make the cake so I let that idea go and told her to make whatever she wanted. She wanted to make the cake look like footballer Lionel Messi’s jersey but decided the amount of dye it would take to achieve the dark red and blue of Barça was not something we should all be eating. Instead she made a chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. (The quinceañero didn’t really care what the cake looked like as long as he got to eat it.) We sang “Happy Birthday” in English but before he could blow out the candles, I started up “Feliz Cumpleaños” in Spanish – my family didn’t miss a beat and joined right in.
After cake we opened presents. The main gift was a much needed laptop which everyone chipped in on. He’ll be taking several Advanced Placement classes this coming school year so the new computer will be put to good use for sure.
That’s pretty much it. It wasn’t the biggest or fanciest quince, I didn’t have fifty primos to invite, no one danced to the salsa and cumbia music that played… While planning the quince I lamented that my family is so small, but when it comes to family it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. My family came and celebrated the life of my now fifteen year old, and he knows he is loved mucho.
At 15 years old many girls in Mexico and throughout Latin America look forward to their quinceañera, the traditional celebration that recognizes a girl’s coming of age, but what about girls who live at an orphanage?
Denisse Montalvan, founder of The Orphaned Earring, wants to make sure six deserving girls at an orphanage in Mexico have their special day, and she needs our help.
The quinceañera celebration for these girls is planned for September 28th, 2013 at Calvary Chapel of Rosarito, Mexico and a reception will be held at Grace Children’s Home, but there’s much to do to prepare. The girls need dresses, heels, tiaras, cake. We want to have their makeup and hair done, too. Denisse is taking donations of all kinds to make this happen – You can make a cash donation or send her a dress for one of the girls, for example, if you happen to have an appropriate one in your closet.
Other causes/ways you can donate: Denisse will be traveling to Nicaragua at the end of August to give the kids at an orphanage there a summer party. You can donate money for their activities by clicking the “donate” button on The Orphaned Earring. The most creative way you can help is by donating earrings for which you’ve lost the mate. Denisse and her team recycle them into bracelets and sell them to raise funds. You can also purchase these bracelets here.
Ready to make a festive paper flower garland for your next fiesta? Here are step-by-step directions with photos to help you make decorative paper flower pom-poms which can be hung on a string, from the ceiling, on tree branches or wherever you like! (It’s a great craft to do with your niños!)
How To Make Paper Fiesta Flowers
What you need:
Crepe paper (Tissue paper will probably work but that isn’t what I used.)
Wire (Small children may feel more comfortable working with pipe cleaners.)
1. Cut 4 sheets of crepe paper to the same length. (Mine were about 9 1/2 inches by 22 inches.) As I mentioned above, this will probably work with tissue paper but I use crepe paper because it’s stronger, doesn’t tear as easily, and has a little added texture compared to tissue paper.
2. With the sheets of paper lined up on top of each other, fold width-wise in 1 1/2 inch fan/accordion style folds.
3. Secure in the middle with a length of wire about 7 inches long. Don’t secure it so tightly that you crush the paper too much. (It should now look like a bow tie.)
4. Spread out the fan folds.
5. Carefully separate each layer. Fluff and adjust as needed on each side so it is round in shape.
6. Secure the wire to a long length of string. Repeat until you have the garland as long as you want it.
7. Hang up your garland of pretty pom-pom flowers and throw a fiesta!
I’ve begun to work on actual preparations for my son’s quince (15th birthday party.) Yesterday I created some tissue paper decorations, (fun tutorial coming soon!), bought paper plates, and designed an invitation.
For the invitation I wanted a colorful Latin American fiesta theme with papel picado but I wasn’t finding any free templates online that fit what I needed. I decided to design my own fiesta-style invite and papel picado clipart from scratch. I wish I could invite all of you to the party, but since I can’t, here’s the template I created – free for you to use and adapt to your own personal needs. Just click the image for the larger version, right click and download to your computer. You can print it out and hand letter the invite, or upload and edit it in a program like Picmonkey. Have fun!
Free Papel Picado Clipart and Fiesta Invites
Note: The images within this blog post are free to use and adapt for personal, non-commercial use. Please do not add these images to clipart collections on other websites or use them for commercial purposes. Other images on this website outside of this post remain protected under copyright and may not be used without prior written consent.
We decided to picnic on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this past Sunday. We went last minute without much of a plan. Everyone showered in a rush and Carlos helped me pack homemade tortas de jamón, bottles of water, apples and potato chips. When we arrived, we saw that some sort of event was going on but by the time we found a parking spot, (gracias a San Antonio who we always call on when searching for parking in D.C.) we were all starving and sat down beneath the trees to eat before investigating.
Soon our picnic attracted a number of uninvited guests and although I don’t think we’re supposed to encourage the wildlife, we couldn’t help but share.
After we finished eating and cleaned up the picnic, we walked over to the big tents to see what was going on. Sometimes I can’t believe my luck.
Out of all the events to stumble upon, we arrived in time to enjoy the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which features different languages and cultures each year.
“The [Smithsonian Folklife] Festival is an exercise in cultural democracy, in which cultural practitioners speak for themselves, with each other, and to the public. The Festival encourages visitors to participate—to learn, sing, dance, eat traditional foods, and converse with people presented in the Festival program.” – Smithsonian Institute website
Many interesting cultures are represented this year but of course I was drawn most to the Latin American groups in the “One World, Many Voices” section. (The other two main events feature Hungarian culture and African American culture.)
I first went to the Isthmus Zapotec tent where I watched a demonstration on how totopos are made by the Zapotecs who live in Juchitán de Zaragoza in Oaxaca, Mexico. Totopos, which are not the same as tortillas despite appearances, are made in an oven called a comixcal and are meant to be crunchy.
There are different kinds of totopos – for example, there are little totopos called “memalitas” and there are oval-shaped ones called “lengua de vaca.” Holes are poked in the totopos with a finger to prevent them from sticking to the inside of the oven. The oven is not used only for totopos but for cooking other foods such as pescado, pollo, tamales de elote and quesadilla de elote. The Juchitecas are famous for their totopos though and most women will make 15 kilos of masa per day through a labor intensive process which involves grinding the corn by hand using a “metate.” One of the women on a panel said they also make “totopos de calabaza con canela” and “totopos de coco” – (which sound delicious to me!)
“The name, totopo, comes from the Aztec (or Nahuatl) tlaxcaltotopochtl. This name is a compound of the word for a tortilla, tlaxcalli, plus the word for thunder. The combination means approximately tortillas that are noisy to chew.” – Wikipedia
The women shared with us how young brides are “kidnapped” by their novios, (it’s a tradition but the “kidnapping” is agreed upon beforehand.) We were also shown the different types of decorative clothing that the bride would wear for her wedding, (the young woman in the middle of the photograph is getting married soon.) I asked what the groom wears and she explained that his clothing would be much simpler – a plain guayabera and black pants. The grooms used to wear sandals but they now usually use black shoes.
I wanted to stick around and listen to more but the boys were getting restless so we wandered over to other tents to explore. Various groups from Colombia were represented.
At one tent visitors could write down their native language, their second language, and a heritage language spoken by a grandparent or great-grandparent, then pin it to the map. (The boys and I wrote “English, Spanish, German.”)
And the reading material throughout the festival was right up my alley.
However the sound of Andean flutes lured me away from looking at this interesting map. We watched a music group from either Bolivia or Ecuador play. (I tried to video tape with my phone but the recording doesn’t do them justice.)
Then I wandered away to look at beautiful textiles in the Kallawaya tent.
When I looked up I saw a lovely woman, one of the weavers and traditional medicine practitioners, taking a photo with a festival visitor. When they finished, the woman caught my eye and returned my friendly smiled. I indicated my camera and she nodded so I went over to her. She pointed to her hat and then at my head. I nodded and as she set it on my head, I thanked her in Spanish, which I decided she might speak in addition to Quechua and/or Kallawaya, but I’m still not quite sure if we shared any language in common.
Before Carlos could snap the photo, she bent over and picked up a colorful shawl from the ground and wrapped it around her shoulders. Carlos took the photo and I gave the hat back to her. Pointing at the shawl, I asked, “¿Cómo se llama? Es un rebozo?” – She pointed at it and said a word in Quechua which I unfortunately can’t remember. (After a little research, I think it may be called a “Lliklla.” Anyone can feel free to correct me!) I told her it was really pretty in Spanish and she smiled. I thanked her for the photo in Spanish and she nodded.
I wish I could have “spoken” with her longer. I would have loved to know her name, hear about her daily life, learn something about the traditional medicines she uses and the language(s) she speaks. It’s a part of life I still haven’t accepted, that I’ll meet people in passing and then never cross paths with them again.
Although I wanted to stay and explore more, we had planned to go museum-hopping and the boys were really wanting to move on. As we were leaving we stopped to watch a little Zapotec parade go by. (I would like to note that the woman at the back of the procession tried to throw a piece of candy to us and it hit me in the head, but I forgive her.)
If you live in the D.C. area, don’t despair that you missed this event. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival goes on daily from July 3rd to July 7th – so you still have time to go check it out!
If you don’t live in the D.C. area, the event website is really worth exploring. There are dozens of pages full of information, photos, videos, and, my favorite – an interactive map where you can listen to the featured languages.
I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I’m planning a quinceañero party for my son, and I promised to give details at a later date – so today I’ll tell you how this all came about. Below is an excerpt of the story as I wrote it for latinamom.me, with a link to read the rest over there.
When I first suggested the possibility of a quince to my husband, whispered one night in the dark as we fell asleep, Carlos waved me off like a lost and confused moth that had mistaken a porch light for the moon. I wasn’t surprised that it took awhile for Carlos to open his mind and warm up to the idea—after all, quinceañeras are traditionally coming-of-age celebrations only for girls and Carlos is a very traditional-minded person. However, over time I explained my intentions and little by little, Carlos came to support the idea of throwing a quince for his son.
Would you ever consider a quince party for your son?
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.
It’s June which means we have only two months to prepare for my 14 year old son’s quince.
Yes, that’s right – I said “son’s quince.” We have decided to have a quince party for our son’s 15th birthday with some traditional elements re-imagined, (since the celebration is usually reserved for girls in Latin America) – More on all of that another day.
For now I want to show you some of our preparations, (besides making a list of all the foods I want to serve which so far includes tamales, yuca frita, pupusas with curtido and tres leches – an already exhausting menu considering it’s just me cooking.)
Since our son’s birthday is in August, an outdoor party seems to be the way to go. We want to have the quince in our backyard in case it’s too hot or rainy, that way we can always take it inside – (besides, we don’t plan to go crazy and rent a location, hire entertainment or have catering. This is going to be a modest celebration compared to most quinces.)
The problem with having the party in our backyard is that our backyard isn’t very conducive to entertaining. We have two “mini-patios” – if you can even call them that – at each rear door, and it’s not inviting at all. A large patio would work much better for a quince and any other little backyard party we want to have in the future, but on our budget that means doing it ourselves with very affordable materials.
The first stage was brainstorming and daydreaming. I had a million ideas for a new patio, from the types of pavers I wanted to use, to the design, to the furniture and everything in between. In my mind, it’s a sunken backyard oasis, shaded by tropical plants, (nevermind the fact that palm trees wouldn’t survive a Mid-Atlantic winter.) Okay, time to get realistic about not only our skill level, but our budget.
The first step was to pick the pavers and measure the area we wanted to cover so that we knew how much materials to buy. We chose red square pavers, which weren’t my first choice, but they worked for our budget and in the end, I liked how they look. (Not to mention, working with squares made things less complicated.) In addition to the pavers, we purchased gravel and sand.
Once we removed the old patios and outlined the entire area with mason’s string tied around stakes, we began the very boring task of digging out the grass. Next we added gravel which we tried to distribute and tamp down in such a way that it was level. To be honest, I’m really impatient when it comes to this sort of thing but this is one step you really need to do right or it throws off everything else.
Next you can lay down the pavers, making sure they’re level as you go along. After all pavers are in place, sweep sand into the cracks and then mist lightly with water from the hose.
Add some furniture and landscaping – maybe some pretty hanging lights, (which will be my next step!) and you’re ready to party.
What else do you think we need to do to prepare the space for the party?
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Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day) – is fast approaching in the United States. (In Latin America, as many of you know. it’s on a different day.) Are you ready to show your love to your mami on Sunday, May 12th? If you need a little help brainstorming gift ideas, here are some great guides, crafts, and recipes other blogueras have put together.
Craftingeek has dozens of crafts you can make para tu mamá. My favorite is the album scrapbook pictured above.
Almuerzo con Mamá is a beautiful, bilingual collaboration of free recipes to make for Mother’s Day from several of my favorite foodie blogueras, like the Coffeecake con Frambuesas pictured above.
The “3 Amigas” strike again with another gift guide bien bella just in time for Día de la Madre. Check it out HERE.
These Tissue Paper Flowers by guest contributor Lisa Renata on ModernMami.com almost look like the real thing. So pretty!
Online photo/image editor, PicMonkey, has some really creative ideas for gifts you can make with the help of a good printer. Check those out here on the PicMonkey blog.
How are you remembering your mami this Mother’s Day?
If the sound of buzzing vuvuzelas drove you to distraction, (or up the wall), during South Africa’s World Cup, then the sound of Brazil’s caxirola may be a welcome change.
The hand-held instrument made of recycled plastic which sounds a bit like a rainstick, is based on the caxixi, a woven instrument filled with dried beans that can be found in various regions including Brazil. The caxirola can be played in a number of ways as demonstrated by its Brazilian inventor, musician, Carlinhos Brown. Chécalo!
Unfortunately this story doesn’t end with a “happily ever after” just yet. The caxirola is not being embraced as perhaps Brazil and FIFA had hoped. Just last week, hundreds of the caxirolas which were given out at a game, were chucked onto the pitch. (Now that I think about it, they are a great size, shape and weight to be tossed a considerable distance… they even kind of resemble grenades.)
Still others complain that the sound of the caxirola simply isn’t characteristic of a traditional Brazilian football game – that it’s being forced on them when they much rather prefer the usual chants.
What do you think? Is this better than the vuvuzelas or should we just enjoy the game sans musical instruments?
Read more about the caxirola on CNN.com.
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!
Mi cumpleaños fue el mes pasado y mi madre me sorprendió con el regalo de una bolsa hecha de arpillera que una vez llevó frijoles de café de El Salvador. Mi mami fue varias veces para Mayorga Coffee y preguntó si tenían bolsas de El Salvador. Significa mucho para mí que mi mamá pensó en un regalo creativo que se ajuste a mis intereses y estilo, y también que ella fue a tantas molestias para conseguirlo.
Si tuviera que adivinar, (y estoy totalmente adivinando), yo diría que esta bolsa es El Porvenir Cup of Excellence de San Miguel. Este café es descrito como “Aroma/Sabor: Aroma picante, mango, mora, cítricos, florales, miel, chocolate, arándano, melaza.” Yo no soy una gran bebedora de café y por lo general mezclo crema y el azúcar tanto que yo nunca sería capaz de probar todas esas sabores, pero es delicioso imaginarlo.
Mi madre dijo que ella iba a tener la bolsa enmarcada pero es bastante grande y ella no quería cargarme con un objeto enmarcado tan grande. Esta fue probablemente una decisión inteligente, porque el espacio es limitado en las paredes de mi casa.
Eso deja la pregunta de qué hacer con la bolsa. He visto a algunas personas que reciclan estas bolsas de café en almohadas, bolsos, y alfombras – pero me decidí a poner la mía en el sofá hasta que decida qué hacer con ella.
Parece bien así, ¿verdad? ¿O crees que debería hacer algo diferente con ella?
My birthday was last month and my mother surprised me with the gift of a burlap bag which once held coffee beans from El Salvador. She went multiple times to Mayorga Coffee and asked if they had any bags from El Salvador. It means a lot to me that she thought of such a creative gift that fits my interests and style, and also that she went to so much trouble to get it.
If I had to guess, (and I’m totally guessing), I’d say this bag is the El Porvenir Cup of Excellence variety from San Miguel. This coffee is described as “Aroma/flavor: spicy aroma, mango, berry, floral, citrus, honey, chocolate, cranberry, molasses.” I am not a big coffee drinker and I usually mix in so much creamer and sugar that I’d never be able to taste all those notes, but it’s delicious to imagine.
My mother said she was going to have the bag framed but it’s pretty big and she didn’t want to burden me with a large framed object. This was probably a smart move because wall space is limited at my house at this point.
That leaves the question of what to do with the bag. I’ve seen some people recycle these coffee bags into pillows, purses, and rugs – but I decided to just lay mine on the back of the sofa until I figure out what to do with it.
It looks kind of good just like that, doesn’t it? Or do you think I should make something with it?
Update: After posting this, a friend (from Mexico), asked if “frijoles de café” is how you say “coffee beans” in El Salvador, because she knows them only as “granos de café.” It turns out that “frijoles de café” is just my very literal and incorrect translation from English. I have always called coffee beans “frijoles” and Carlos, for whatever reason, has never corrected me. Maybe this is his payback for me laughing at his English.
Another interesting note, after I posted this, Carlos kept referring to the bag as a “costal” (a new word for me.) “Costal” is the word for “sack” and is more accurate than calling it a “bolsa” or “bag.”