Category Archives: crafts
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
• 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.
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.
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 EasternMarket-DC.org.
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.
(caléndulas de papel)
What you need:
• construction paper (preferably orange colored)
• 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.
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…
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?”
“Her husband! A famous Mexican artist!”
“It won’t be chistoso, te juro!”
“It’s just a normal outfit, like a suit jacket, and…”
…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!
Yesterday the mail came and I went to the box to retrieve the bills and such, but this time on top of the bills sat a big yellow package. (Have I told you my love for yellow packages before? How I heart them!)
After reading about my love for Bubu Lubus, MJ thoughtfully offered to send me a whole box, and who in their right mind would say no? So I gave her my address and waited (im)patiently. Thankfully it was a little chilly yesterday so the Bubu Lubus made their trip unharmed, (though they taste good no matter what.)
But that’s not all! Inside the package I discovered extra sorpresas!
MJ is super creative and makes the coolest little things. She creates her own rubber ink stamps to look like papel picado and then uses them to make note cards! She sent me a few of these and they’re so pretty I don’t know if I can bear to write in them and give them away. I might frame a couple to hang on the wall here near my desk.
She also makes really funky jewelry. These Día de Los Muertos earrings and the Frida Kahlo bolsita they came in are super chidos!
Thanks so much to MJ for these sweet regalitos :)
I tried to make traditional calaveras (skulls) out of sugar for Dia de Los Muertos, (Day of the Dead on November 2nd), but they didn’t come out very well because my local Latino markets didn’t have the molds I wanted to use. I decided I would make them another way.
I saw a creative Etsy crafter had used felt, and was going to make some like that, but then I happened upon ceramic skulls at The Dollar Tree. They were actually 2 for $1.
With just a little craft paint and some creativity – Ta da! A calavera for Dia de los Muertos :)
If you want to make one, too, go check your local dollar stores for clearance Halloween decorations. ¡Diviértanse! (Have fun!)