A Quince Party… (for my boy)

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

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.

[Read the rest on latinamom.me HERE]

Would you ever consider a quince party for your son?

Quince Countdown!

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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.

patiobefore_latinaish_juneproject

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.

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(For more detailed steps, two helpful articles on Lowes.com include: Design a Paver Patio and Build a Brick Paver Patio.)

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.

after_fullyard_latinaish_juneproject

Remember the beat up dark green chairs from the "before" photo? A neighbor gave those to us a few years ago. With a coat of Valspar spray paint for plastic, they look brand new and I chose a much happier color!

Remember the beat up dark green chairs from the “before” photo? A neighbor gave those to us a few years ago. With a coat of Valspar spray paint for plastic, they look brand new and I chose a much happier color!

fiesta_latinaish_juneproject

What else do you think we need to do to prepare the space for the party?

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.

Tu mamá

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.

Image source: craftingeek.me

Image source: craftingeek.me

Craftingeek has dozens of crafts you can make para tu mamá. My favorite is the album scrapbook pictured above.

latinamomme2

Check out latinamom.me for their Mother’s Day Gift Guide and their gallery of Stylish Accessories Para Mamá.

Coffeecake con Frambuesas - Almuerzo con Mamá // Image source: Ericka Sanchez

Coffeecake con Frambuesas – Almuerzo con Mamá // Image source: Ericka Sanchez

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.

3amigasguide

The “3 Amigas” strike again with another gift guide bien bella just in time for Día de la Madre. Check it out HERE.

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These Tissue Paper Flowers by guest contributor Lisa Renata on ModernMami.com almost look like the real thing. So pretty!

picmonkey

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?

Goodbye Vuvuzela, Hello Caxirola

Image source: SecultBA

Image source: SecultBA

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.

Mi Bolsa Salvadoreña de Frijoles de Café

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!

sofa2

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.

sofa1

Parece bien así, ¿verdad? ¿O crees que debería hacer algo diferente con ella?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

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.”

Conversation Hearts en español! (Giveaway!)

ConversationHearts_Latinaish

Over the weekend I shared on Facebook that I discovered these Spanish-language Conversation Hearts at Target and I asked if I should give away a bag here on Latinaish. As expected, the answer was an overwhelming “¡Claro que sí!” so here is your chance to win a bag of Spanish candy hearts for Valentine’s Day! See the rules (below) for how to enter.

(Random fact: The brand name is Brach’s, a company started by a German immigrant in the United States but the package says these particular candies were made in Argentina. Interesting!)

conversationhearts_latinaish_2

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED. CONGRATS TO: JEN E!—

GIVEAWAY RULES

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a 1 lb. bag of Brach’s Spanish Sayings Conversation Hearts in Classic Flavors.

Approximate value: $2.50

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me what Spanish word or short phrase you would want on the candy heart someone gives to you, or what you would put on the one to give to your valentine. (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will not be shared with any third parties. This prize was purchased by Latinaish.com and will be shipped by Latinaish.com. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 4th, 2013 through February 7th, 2013. Entries received after February 7th, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. I will try to have the prize shipped so it arrives before Valentine’s Day but I do not make any guarantees that it will arrive on time. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte!

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. Brach’s was not contacted by Latinaish.com and Brach’s does not necessarily endorse Latinaish.com. All opinions are my own.

Salvadoran-style Birthday Cake

salvadorancake

Being married to Carlos over these past 15 years, one thing I’ve learned is that American birthday cake and Salvadoran birthday cake are very different.

Carlos will eat American birthday cake, but he doesn’t really like it.

Today was Carlos’s birthday and for the past few weeks, all he’s been talking about is Salvadoran birthday cake. I got the hint and asked him plenty of questions about it so I could make him one. Carlos says that growing up in El Salvador he always got a cake from a bakery called Flor de Trigo on his birthday. The cake part was moist but didn’t have a strong flavor, the frosting was only very slightly sweet. The cakes were usually layer cakes with fruit decorating the top.

I did some research, (even found the Flor de Trigo website!) and this is what I came up with.

cakecollage2

The cake is a white cake (from a box mix just to save some time), and the “frosting” is a homemade whipped cream. Sliced almonds decorate the sides, and the fruits I chose were strawberries and apricot. Carlos gave me muchos besos and said it’s just like a Salvadoran birthday cake. Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try!

Salvadoran-style Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

1 box white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Classic White)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar (more if you prefer sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups sliced almonds
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 can apricot halves, drained and sliced
1 can (12 oz.) “apricot cake & pastry filling” (I used “Solo” brand)

Directions:

1. Make cake according to package directions. If you have two round pans, use those. If not, you can do what I did – Put it all in a well greased 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Once baked and cooled, carefully turn onto a clean surface and slice in half to create 2 square layers. (Since the edges get browned while baking, slice those off so it’s uniform on all sides.)

2. This is how you make homemade whipped cream. (I recommend making this and assembling the cake the same day you plan to eat it.) First, it’s best if you have a large stainless steel bowl, but a plastic mixing bowl will work. Metal is better because you can get it nice and cold. Cold is your friend when making whipped cream! … Whichever bowl you’re using, stick it in the freezer along with the metal beater(s) from your electric mixer. The heavy whipping cream should be kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. To make the whipped cream – pour the quart of whipping cream into the bowl. Turn your mixer on high and beat until stiff peaks form. Add a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and sugar according to your tastes, (1/2 cup to 3/4 cups makes it just barely sweet by American standards.)

3. Put one cake layer on a base – this will be the bottom layer. (Ideally your base would be the bottom of a cake container which you can cover with a dome lid.) Spread the can of “apricot cake & pastry filling” on the top of the bottom cake layer. On top of the “apricot cake & pastry filling”, spread a layer of whipped cream. Top with the top cake layer.

4. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the whipped cream. Carefully toss the sliced almonds onto the sides of the cake.

5. Decorate the top of the cake with the sliced apricots and strawberries. (This recipe will work great if you decide to use different fruits or a different “cake & pastry filling” – so get creative! Other options include fresh or canned pineapple, fresh kiwi, canned fruit cocktail, and other kinds of berries.)

6. Cover cake and refrigerate for a couple hours then serve!

¡Feliz Cumpleaños! (or as I like to say, “Sapo Verde!“)