How to Carve a Jack-o-Lantern & Roast Pumpkin Seeds

I don’t usually share my gringo traditions here but I realize that just as I’m fascinated by and curious about Latin American traditions, maybe there are people from other parts of the world reading this who might be just as fascinated by and curious about the traditions we have here in the United States. As I mentioned before, carving a jack-o-lantern and roasting pumpkin seeds were two of the very first traditions I shared with Carlos, so now I’m going to share it with you. (Besides, roasted pumpkin seeds are popular in parts of Latin America too!)

Directions and step-by-step photos below!

How to Make: Jack-o-Lanterns & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1. Choose a side of your pumpkin to work on. I always choose the side that has the least amount of blemishes or scratches, but if you’re going for a different look, maybe that would add some character. Once you’ve decided which side you like best, use a marker to draw a face. Remember that you’ll be carving these shapes out with a knife, so the more complicated the shapes, (especially round shapes or tiny details), the more difficult it will be. (Note: Don’t carve your pumpkin more than a few days before Halloween or it will start to rot.)

2. Draw a circle at least an inch out from the stem around the top of the pumpkin. Cut along the line at the top and then gently pull the stem to open the pumpkin. Use a knife to cut the gunk and strings hanging off the top so it’s clean and flat.

3. Reach inside the pumpkin and pull out the “guts.” (Most little kids find this disgusting but fun.)

4. The gooey, stringy stuff can be discarded, but separate the seeds out into a bowl as you go. At some point you will need to use a spoon to scrape the inside nice and clean.

5. Use a sharp knife to carefully carve out the face you drew on the outside of the pumpkin. Little kids will need lots of help and should be supervised at all times.

6. Admire what a good job you’ve done. Your jack-o-lantern is finished and ready for the final touch, but first, let’s roast pumpkin seeds.

7. Put the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with water for a couple minutes, using your hands to mix them around. Leave in the colander to drip dry about 20 minutes.

8. Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on the ungreased baking sheet. Put into the oven at no more than 200 F. Right now we’re not roasting the pumpkin seeds, just drying them out. Check the pumpkin seeds every 10 minutes. They should be dry in 20 – 30 minutes or less. Pumpkin seeds should still be white when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for a couple minutes until they’re safe to handle with your hands.

9. Use your hands to mix the pumpkin seeds around and get them unstuck from the aluminum foil. Dribble a little oil on the seeds, (some people use butter – I spray them generously with cooking spray), and then sprinkle with salt. Mix around with your hands, making sure all seeds are covered in oil and salt. Bake in oven at 350 F until slightly browned. Allow to cool and then serve or store for eating.

10. Back to your jack-o-lantern! On Halloween night, place a lit candle inside your jack-o-lantern (battery operated “candles” are best so you don’t have to worry about a fire hazard), and then put the top back on. Set on your doorstep out of the way of trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!

Exclusive Día de los Muertos Romantic Updo by Leonardo Rocco

Suave Professionals® hair products and Celebrity Hairstylist, Leonardo Rocco contacted me and offered to come up with an exclusive hairstyle for Día de los Muertos, just for Latinaish.com.

Coincidentally, I sincerely love Suave products, (and nope! This isn’t a sponsored post, te juro! They didn’t even give me free samples.) I use the Suave Professionals® Sleek Conditioner daily, and sometimes the Keratin Infusion one, because they work beautifully on my hair – better than the fancy, expensive stuff my hairstylist sold me. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results, but for the price, I recommend checking them out. (And if you do, please let me know what you think!)

Anyway, I thought this was a really well put together campaign – by blending in Día de los Muertos, I decided it fit the types of things I like to share in this space, so I said I would love to work together. I asked Leonardo to come up with a Romantic Updo – nothing too crazy – something that I could actually do with my hair and wear any day I was feeling a little ambitious and wanted to look extra pretty. Below is the hairstyle and step-by-step directions in both English and Spanish if you want to give it a try!

Recogido romántico con flores por Leonardo Rocco

1. Por aproximadamente 3 segundos, bate el Suave Professionals® Volumizing Mousse bien y dependiendo del largo de tu cabello, dispensa el mousse en tu mano. Generalmente el tamaño es de la palma de tu mano. Aplica el mousse en todo el cabello de esta manera con un peine de dientes anchos para cubrir todo el cabello. Este producto es perfecto porque le da hasta 4 veces más cuerpo al cabello sin quitarle volumen o hacer que se vea pesado.

2. El segundo paso es secar el cabello con un cepillo redondo, concentrándote en la corona de la cabeza que es donde quieres tener el volumen.

3. Luego, separa un mechón de cabello desde la oreja hacia adelante a un lado de la cabeza. Con él, haz una trenza francesa que enmarque un lado de tu rostro.

4. Cuando llegues abajo, amarra la trenza y el resto de tu cabello en una cola a la base de la cabeza.

5. Ve separando pequeños mechones de la cola y rizándolos con una tenaza. Luego de rizar cada mechón, envuélvelo con tus dedos y sujétalo con un pasador sobre la cola. De ser necesario puedes sujetar un mechón sobre otro, esto creará volumen. Deja algunos más sueltos que otros para darle una forma más suave al peinado.

6. Finalmente, usa el Suave Professionals® Touchable Finish Extra Hold Hairspray para fijar el peinado. La ventaja de usar este aerosol es que controla los mechones sueltos y es de larga duración, así puedes disfrutar de tu noche sin preocuparte por tu peinado.

7. Coloca una o varias flores de colores alrededor del peinado para darle el look final de Día de los Muertos.

Romantic Updo with Flowers by Leonardo Rocco

1. Shake the Suave Professionals® Volumizing Mousse well for approximately 3 seconds, and depending on the length of your hair place an amount on the palm of your hand. It will usually be the size of the palm of your hand. Apply the mousse throughout your hair using a wide-toothed comb to cover all your hair. This product is perfect because it adds up to 4 times more body without weighing hair down.

2. The second step is drying your hair with a round brush, focusing on the roots where we want to create the most volume.

3. Separate a section of hair from the ear forward on one side of your head. French braid it so that it frames one side of your face all the way to the back.

4. When you reach the back part of your head, tie the braid into a ponytail along with the rest of your hair.

5. Begin curling small sections of hair from the ponytail, looping them and pinning them into place near the ponytail with a bobby pin. Pin some sections more loosely than others to create volume and shape.

6. Finally, apply Suave Professionals® Touchable Finish Extra Hold Hairspray to set the hairstyle. The benefit of using this hairspray is that it controls flyaways and provides long-lasting hold, so your look will last all night.

7. Decorate your hair with one or several colorful flowers around the hairstyle to create the final Día de los Muertos style.

ABOUT LEONARDO ROCCO

Leonardo Rocco’s visions of innovation, vanguard design, and unique approach have secured his position as one of the most in-demand hair artists and celebrity stylist in the industry.

In 1991, together with his family, Rocco opened the doors to the first Rocco Donna Salon in Argentina, followed by the 2004 opening of the Rocco Donna Hair & Beauty Art salon in South Beach, FL. In addition, Rocco is the proud founder of the Rocco Donna Beauty Academy, one of the top five schools of hair aesthetics and design in Argentina.

Rocco is recognized for his involvement in the community as well as his membership in various organizations such as the Latino Fashion Group, MBCC (Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce), and the SFLHCC (South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), which recently named him the “Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year”.

In 2010, Rocco launched a new beauty platform called “Miami Hair Beauty and Fashion” by Rocco Donna, an event that will take place every year, which promotes Latin talent along with the latest beauty and fashion innovations and products. Rocco appears on different television shows like “Despierta América”, “El Gordo y la Flaca” and “Escándalo TV.”

Leonardo Rocco’s clientele sets a high standard and there are many celebrities and artists that have been subject to his creative work for interviews, photo shoots, TV appearances, special events, or simply a new look. Among these are: Juanes, Angélica Vale, Paulina Rubio, Eva Longoria, Emilio Estefan, Marlene Favela, Jean Carlos Canela, Luis Fonsi, Maite Perroni, Anahi, Dulce María, Rodner Figueroa, Lupita Jones, Osmel Souza, Katy Perry, Belinda, Alejandro Fernández, Jenny Rivera, Aracely Arámbula, Giselle Blondet, Candela Ferro, Karla Martínez, Poncho de Anda and Adamari López.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post and no products were received. As always this is my honest opinion, nada más y nada menos!

The Pumpkin Patch – An American Tradition

Click this image to see this post featured on Mamiverse.com

Carlos pulls the boys in a wagon through a pumpkin patch. 2009

One of the first places I brought Carlos when he was my boyfriend was to a pumpkin patch, and one of the first things I showed him was how to to carve a jack-o-lantern. I’ve always been interested in other cultures and traditions, but there was also something exciting about showing Carlos my own.

Fifteen years later, going to the pumpkin patch as a family each October is one of our favorite things.

The pumpkin patch we usually go to has goats and you can buy food pellets for them from a bubble gum style machine for a quarter. Over the years, Carlos has come to be more of an animal lover. He looks so happy petting the goat here.

After feeding the goats we considered giving the corn maze a try but it takes 45 minutes to go through, (maybe an hour given my sense of direction) – so we decided we’ll come back another day to do it.

Into the pumpkin patch.

My boys are getting bigger, (The oldest is taller than Carlos), but they haven’t outgrown the pumpkin patch.

There’s a type of squash in El Salvador called Pipián. We aren’t sure if this squash here is related but when you’re accustomed to their palm-sized Latin American cousins, these are kind of hilarious.

Now that we’ve picked our pumpkins and brought them home, we’ll soon carve them into jack-o-lanterns. When we clean out the inside of the pumpkin we always reserve the seeds for roasting and eating. Roasted pumpkin seeds, funnily enough, remind Carlos of El Salvador.

Día de Los Muertos Round-up!

Saw this chévere sugar skull mochilla at a local store. Also found it available online. If you want to buy one, the brand is Yak Pak.

I’ve got a backpack full of links for you to check out for Día de Los Muertos (also known as “Day of the Dead” or “Día de los Difuntos”.)

SpanglishBaby.com had the genius idea of creating this collection of Day of the Dead links which includes everything from altars/ofrendas, crafts for adults and kids alike, themed products available for purchase from around the internet, recipes, history, culture, photos, videos, and personal stories. The collection of links includes all my Día de los Muertos posts too in case you missed them in previous years.

Click the image below to go to the SpanglishBaby post which includes not only all their awesome links within their own site, but links to all our fellow amigas’ great content which continues to be added!

Day of the Dead-ify your Fotos!

Like many other people out there, I’ve come to love using the online image editor PicMonkey to edit my photos. It has every awesome feature you could want, plus some – and it’s free. I didn’t think I could love PicMonkey more than I already do, but I just came upon a super chévere seasonal addition. Not only have Halloween features been added, but there is now a Día de los Muertos theme!

This screen capture doesn’t even show all the features. Go check it out!

Although I’ve never had a desire to paint my face like a sugar skull before, PicMonkey made this idea very tempting. Carlos came into the room while I was in the middle of creating this.

Carlos asked me, first, what in the world I was doing, and second, “I thought you said you were busy writing?”

(Thanks a lot, PicMonkey, for distracting me and getting me into trouble!) … I’ll go back to writing now, the rest of you, go have fun!

Fiesta DC 2012

Taking photos at Fiesta DC this past Sunday was a challenge for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons was the sheer number of other people trying to photograph and video tape the event. At times I felt like I was in a group of paparazzi fighting for position – and then when I would finally frame the perfect shot, someone would inevitably ruin it by running across with a video camera or sticking their iPhone in front of me.

Some of the people were amateur or hobbyist photographers like me, some were obviously freelance professionals or working for media – And then there were young males, usually equipped with cellphone cameras, who were just trying to photograph the nalgas of the cachiporras to share on their Facebook.

Anyway, here are my favorite shots which I had some fun editing and a video of the general atmosphere.

By the way, speaking of nalgas, at one point during the parade a woman with a very generous backside stood in front of us. Carlos, to his credit, didn’t even seem to notice despite the fact that her “pants” were actually leggings and you could see her thong through the fabric.

“¡Qué bárbara!” a little old man said. The old man, not content to enjoy the view by himself and feeling the need to share, elbowed Carlos. Jutting his chin towards the woman in front of them he said, with a lascivious expression on his face, “Ella es Santa Bárbara, ¿vá?”

Carlos looked confused, “Oh, ¿sí?” he replied.
“Ssssíííííí,” the viejo hissed appraising the woman’s behind, practically licking his lips. Noting the fact that Carlos didn’t understand what he meant, the viejo then asked, “¿No sabes?”

“¿No?” Carlos said, the question on his face.

I rolled my eyes at the predictable dirty old man.

“¡Es santa por delante y bárbara por atrás!” the viejo said, erupting in laughter as if he had said the most clever and original thing in the world.

Carlos laughed politely and I pinched him.

“What?” Carlos said.
“Stand back here, away from the viejo chuco,” I said.

After the parade we had lunch. I wanted pupusas but Carlos made a good point that we eat pupusas all the time and that we should eat something different, so we ended up buying delicious Mexican tortas. (The boys and I had the torta milanesa de pollo with horchata. Carlos had the torta de carnitas with agua fresca de tamarindo.)

Just as we finished eating and were deciding what to do next, I heard “Los Hermanos Lovo” announced on a nearby stage.

“No way!” I said out loud, “Hermanos Lovo!”

Carlos looked at me like I had lost my mind as I pulled his hand in the direction of the stage.

“It’s the Chanchona music I blogged about. Remember?… Hermanos Lovo!”

For three songs I tapped my hand against my side, tapped my feet, and moved my hips, waiting for people to dance, but only a few people were dancing, and they were getting stared at. Everyone else just pretty much stood there and watched the performance. I found this a little strange given that at most Latino dominant events I’ve been too, there’s usually not a lack of dancing. I wonder if most of the people there have become too Americanized in this respect? Too self-conscious?

I couldn’t take it anymore. I leaned toward Carlos and he leaned toward me so he could hear me.

“Want to dance?” I asked, eyes brimming with hope like a child asking for a puppy.

Carlos said nothing, just turned toward me and took me in his arms, and we danced.

Within seconds much of the crowd had turned to look at us and stood gaping. Carlos whispered in my ear, “We’re being photographed and video taped.” I felt a flood of gringa self-consciousness wash through me but we kept dancing, and soon, the people around us, were just a blur of colors.

Happy Independence Day, Guanacos!

I wanted to do something special for El Salvador’s Independence Day, so I decided to make a few regalitos for all my cheros guanacos.

First, here is free desktop wallpaper for your computer!

Desktop wallpaper! Click for full size.

To use it:

• Click the image to enlarge
• Right click and select “Set as Desktop Background”
• Customize it to your desktop as you wish (I think “Tiled” looks best)
• Click “Set Desktop Background”

I also created some fun worksheets for you and your cipotes. Choose the one you like, click the link or image, click “Download” over on Box.com, and then once you have it on your computer, open the PDF and print.

Click here to go download the crossword puzzle!

Click here for the EL SALVADOR CROSSWORD PUZZLE

Click here to go download the word search puzzle!

Click here for the EL SALVADOR WORD SEARCH PUZZLE

Feliz Día de la Independencia a El Salvador! (Happy Independence Day to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua as well, también a nuestros amigos en México who will celebrate tomorrow.)

Piñatas Peludas

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 is below!

Ustedes ya saben que me encantan las piñatas, (Bueno ¿Qué tipo de persona sin corazón no le gusta de ellas?)

Pero, la semana pasada encontré unas piñatas que nunca vi antes. Las piñatas eran bien grandes pero la cosa que me impresiono más era que las piñatas eran peludas – ¡sí! Peludas!

Les voy a enseñar para que me entiendan mejor qué estoy diciendo.

Ya ven que no estoy loca y tenía razón! Las piñatas son peludas, ¿vá?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

You all already know that I love piñatas, (well, what sort of heartless person doesn’t like them?)

However, the other week I found some piñatas that I had never seen before. The piñatas were kind of big but the thing that impressed me most was that the piñatas were furry – yes! Furry!

I’ll show you so you have a better idea of what I mean.

You see, I’m not crazy, I was right! The piñatas are furry, are they not?

Piñata Grande!

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 is in italics!

Un día yo estaba buscando fotos de una piñata cuando encontré esta foto.
One day I was looking for photos of a piñata when I found this.

Image source: Christopher Thompson

Yo no podía creer lo que veía y decidí seguir investigando.
I couldn’t believe my eyes and decided to investigate further.

Image source: Christopher Thompson

Aparentemente esta piñata estableció un récord mundial. La piñata fue construida en Filadelfia por Carnival Cruise Lines en 2008. Era casi seis pisos de altura.

Apparently this piñata set a world record. The piñata was constructed in Philadelphia by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2008. It was almost 6 stories tall.

Image source: Christopher Thompson

La pregunta importante: ¿Habia dulces en la piñata? ¡Sí! … y caos rodeó el evento, (igual que si era una fiesta de cumpleaños!) Disfrute!

The important question: Was there candy in the piñata? Yes! … and chaos surrounded the event, (just like it would at a child’s birthday party!) Enjoy!

La emoción en rumbo al evento y, a continuación, la decepción.
The excitement leading up to the event, and then, disappointment.

Noticias sobre cómo la policía detuvo el truco de publicidad por razones de seguridad.
News report about how the police stopped the publicity stunt for safety reasons.

Así es como la piñata se rompió finalmente.
How the piñata was ultimately broken.

Esto es como Carnival Cruise Lines utilizaba la piñata en un comercial.
The way Carnival Cruise Lines used the piñata in a commercial.