Todo Me Parece Bonito!

Winter-Blogger-Badge_Square.jpg.jpgI am super feliz to announce that I’m now a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network – What this means is that each month I’ll be participating in creative home and garden improvement projects which I’ll share with you here.

We’ve been Lowe’s customers for a long time, (remember the video we made a couple years ago about how all the signage at Lowe’s is bilingual?) – and like most homeowners, we have a long list of things that need to be fixed – so somos una pareja perfecta (we’re a perfect match!)

For the month of March the challenge was to either bring spring indoors or do some spring cleaning and organization – I ended up doing a little of all of that. We live in a small house, (1,144 square feet to be exact), so the family computer is located in a corner of the living room – and it wasn’t a very pretty corner. I decided to salvage the beat up desk and chair by painting them a bright color, add potted plants, clean up the clutter, and change up the wall art. Here’s the result!

beforeafteroffice

What do you think? If you like any of these changes and want to re-create them in your own casita, here are some step-by-step directions to help you out.

Potted Plant How-To

lavenderhowto

What you need:
Pots of your choice (I chose the 3-pot herb tray planter, $9.97)
Plants of your choice (I chose lavender, $3.48 each)

Directions:

This is pretty easy! In my case, I chose lavender because not only is it pretty but it smells good so it works as a natural air freshener. Lavender is also known to de-stress, and since this computer area is used for stressful things like filing taxes and doing homework, I figured we could all use a dose!

The Lavender came in biodegradable pots which can be planted directly in the ground, but because I re-planted it in ceramic pots, I cut that part away and simply put the biodegradable part outside in the garden. If the plant you chose came with too much dirt, remove as much as needed to make it fit. If the opposite is true, (the plant didn’t come with enough dirt to fill your pot nicely), you may need to purchase a small bag of potting soil and add as needed.

Beach-style Sign How-To

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What you need:
A piece of lumber, 1 to 2 feet long
Screws, screwdriver
Hammer
Paint colors, (your choice)
A large paintbrush for the background color
A very fine paint brush for lettering
Picture wire ($3.18)
Wire cutters
Ruler
Pencil with eraser
Sandpaper (optional)

Directions:

1. For the piece of lumber I actually bought a “mailbox mount board” for $3.47 because it was the perfect size plus it came with a little bag of screws. Paint the board whichever color you like. I chose Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250.” Choose a word or phrase and then measure lines lightly marked in pencil to guide you. (The phrase I chose, “Todo me parece bonito” ["Everything seems nice to me"] is from a Jarabe de Palo song.) Allow to dry before moving on to the next step.

2. I chose to hand letter my sign, but you can use stencils. Use a pencil to outline the text lightly and then you can paint them in. (I just used basic white craft paint which, like many of the supplies I didn’t price above, I already had on hand.)

3. Allow paint to dry completely and then gently erase any pencil marks that are still showing. Optional: If you want your sign to look more weather worn, lightly hand sand it with fine sandpaper.

4. I wanted my sign to look kind of casual and hastily made, like a real sign you might see on a beach, so I chose to make the screws and wire visible. If you don’t want the hanging mechanism to be visible, you can do it on the back side. To make your sign like mine, measure an inch in on each side of your sign on the top edge. Mark a dot at each end, which is where you’ll place a screw. Tap the screw with a hammer so that it stands on its own, and then use a screw driver to drill it in deeper, but not all the way.

5. Use wire cutters to cut a length of wire that is a couple inches longer than your board on each side. Tie the wire to each screw and wrap any extra length around the screw. Your sign is ready to hang!

Desk & Chair Makeover How-To

Jpainting

What you need:
Paint of your choice (I got a gallon of Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250″ – cost $34.98)
Paint brushes ($2.98 to $3.98 each, depending on size)
Sandpaper ($5.97)
Cloth rags
Old newspapers
Eye protection
Face masks – aka “respirators” (3 pack, $5.97)
Candy (to “pay” your kids to do the dirty work)
Optional: electric sander

Directions:

1. If you can, take your furniture outside when you sand it – this saves you from making the house all dusty. The purpose of sanding before you paint is to help the paint adhere better to the wood and it will save you from having to do a second coat. Use eye protection and a face mask to keep the dust from sanding out of your eyes and lungs. You can sand by hand or use an electric sander. (If you hate sanding like I do, hire your kids to do it. Mine work for candy, which Lowe’s conveniently sells.)

2. Wipe the furniture down with old rags to remove all the dust.

3. Open the paint and stir. If painting inside, spread old newspapers under the furniture to protect your flooring. If painting outside, you can do the same if you don’t want your grass painted. A gallon is more than enough to paint your average-sized desk and chair – You will have plenty leftover for other projects.

4. Allow paint to dry completely before moving your furniture or putting anything on it.

officefinal

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Siestas in a Hammock and Feeling Altruistic

hammock_novica

It is 35 degrees outside today but I am not deterred. I am already thinking ahead to when I can hang a hammock on the frame in the yard and nap in the sunshine. Today, thanks to the people at NOVICA/National Geographic, I ordered a new one to replace our well-loved Salvadoran hammock which might not make it through the season.

Our new hammock (pictured above), is hand-woven by Maya artisans in Mexico using traditional techniques. This particular hammock is called “Magical Isle.” According to the website, “The tropical isle of Holbox, at the tip of the Maya Riviera inspires the color selection for this hammock. The sea assumes both green and blue undertones that merge around the isle to give it a mystical illusion.” – I’ll be daydreaming about that isle of Holbox when I take a nap in the hammock but I’ll also be feeling good about the purchase I made, knowing it supports people who are keeping traditional culture alive.

All of the products purchased on the NOVICA website support artisans around the world – and each handmade object is so incredible. Let me show you a few of my favorites.

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All of these items here are actually part of my “Colorful Soul” Collection. On NOVICA you can curate collections of images, (kind of like Pinterest), and your efforts help highlight products for customers, thus supporting the artisans.

I have a feeling that most of you think this is all just as chévere as I do, so I’m very excited to tell you that NOVICA/National Geographic is allowing me to hold a giveaway! (Did you really think I’d brag about my new hammock without giving you the opportunity to get something, too?)

See the details below to enter!

THE GIVEAWAY

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a gift code for $75.00 USD to use on a purchase made in the NOVICA/National Geographic online store. (If you choose an item valued more than $75.00 or the total comes to more than $75.00 with shipping costs, you will be responsible for the remaining balance. Gift code expires 5/8/2013 and if not used before that date, will not be renewed.)

Approximate value: $75.00

How to Enter:

Visit the NOVICA/National Geographic online store and then leave a comment here telling me which item you love the most and which country it’s from. (It doesn’t have to be from Latin America!)

For a second entry, create an account on NOVICA, and curate at least one collection. Leave the link to your NOVICA collection in comments.

(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 only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. 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 21st, 2013 through February 28th, 2013. Entries received after February 28th, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. 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. NOVICA/National Geographic allowed me to pick something from their website for under $75 for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

Most of you know that I write for several websites each month. I usually share those links on the Latinaish Facebook Page, but I wanted to link this one up here for those who might not be on Facebook since this particular post is so relevant to my usual content on Latinaish. I also took the opportunity to make a bicultural/bilingual gift tag for your Christmas gifts (see above!) Feel free to print it out and use it!

Now for the post:

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

Fifteen years ago I married Carlos, a Salvadoran immigrant who spoke little English. Because we were young, pregnant, and poor at the time—instead of moving to our own place—I moved Carlos into my parents’ house where I was still living. From the outside it didn’t seem like the most ideal situation, but living with my English-speaking Anglo parents turned out to be a unique opportunity for Carlos to get a crash course in English and American culture.

Of course, living in such a situation made our diverse backgrounds that much more apparent—especially during holidays, and especially during Christmas…[READ MORE HERE]

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!

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!

Día de Los Muertos + Halloween Mashup

You don’t need to remind me – ya sé – Día de Los Muertos and Halloween are two different holidays, but they’re close together and share some similar elements, so even though I’ll be accused of confusing the gringos even more with this post, aquí está. Here are some of the most chévere things I’ve found on the internet that have to do with either Day of the Dead, or Halloween – and sometimes both at the same time.

(All photos are clickable to their original source, so if you see something you like and want to learn more, go on and click it!)

#1. An awesome Halloween light show choreographed to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem.

#2. Calaverita Mexicana – A Tumblr blog dedicated to all things calaveras, (not for niños!)

#3.

The amazing art of Lulu of My Pink Turtle - This one is called "FRIDA & LAS FLORES DE LA MUERTE"

#4.
(Music discovered at: La CaSSaDaGa. This doesn’t really have anything to do with either celebration but the album artwork caught my eye and the music turned out to be good, so ¿por qué no?)

#5.

Día de los Muertos Barbie - (discovered at weheartit.com)

#5. Mi amiga, MJ is incredibly creative and makes the most amazing things, including some Día de los Muertos inspired art. Check out her Facebook page: Rosa Mexicano.

#6.

Día de los Muertos Pit Bull Necklace - ($5 from every necklace sold will go to Pitbull rescue.)

#7. Some of my posts:
Craft – Paper Marigolds
Craft – $1 Store Calaveras
Our First and Last Ofrenda

#8.

#9. The ultimate mash-up! A Día de los Muertos Jack-o-lantern!

Flickr user: RJL20

#10. CRAFT: Crafty Chica – Día de Los Muertos Story Box.

#11.

Printable Sugar Skull box craft from donteatthepaste.com

#12. Last year, Maura of The Other Side of the Tortilla curated an ofrenda project. Go check out everyone’s altars.

#13.

This has nothing to do with either celebration but my younger son's birthday is on Day of the Dead, so I'm making these mini-piñatas by ohhappyday.com

#14. Another artist friend, Maya Escobar, shares a unique Day of the Dead craft for individuales, along with a beautiful video on SpanglishBaby.com

#15.

Frida Kahlo with a sugar skull from obsessedwithfridakahlo.tumblr.com

#16.

Flower skull T-shirt by Sobo on Surropa.com

#17.

Some Mexican food recipes from latimes.com for your Día de los Muertos get together. This one is El Cholo's green corn tamale ( Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times )

#18. Support artists! Day of the Dead art on Etsy.

#19.

Día De Los Muertos scrapbook kit By Tangie of Studio Girls and SherrieJD of Scraporchard (avaialble on scrapbookgraphics.com)

#20. Top Latino/a Halloween costumes to avoid – From NewsTaco.com

#21. Mexico City’s World Record for number of people dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller:

#22.

Cookie designed by ShonaRaven at CakeCentral.com

#23. Día de los Muertos Spanish Vocabulary from Brighthub.com

#24.

Viva Calaca animation project (Highly recommend you click through and watch the video in English or Spanish!)

#25. Smithsonian’s Latino Center Day of the Dead website, (including a virtual “build your own altar.”)

“The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates it. It is one of his favorite playthings and his most steadfast love.”
– Octavio Paz

Note: Did I use one of your images? I have made sure to properly link and credit everyone, but if you aren’t happy with its inclusion here, please contact me to have it removed.

Go Cut Pants

Comedian George Lopez talks about being told to “cut pants” if he wanted to go swimming. Well, we cut pants at our house, but not necessarily to go to the pool.

When the days start to get hotter, the boys usually have quite a few pairs of pants with worn out knees which aren’t even nice enough to give to charity, so we cut them into shorts.

It’s kind of naco, but it saves money which is why we do it, and it’s also environmentally friendly. If you know how to use a sewing machine, you can even finish off the hem so it looks nicer. (Suegra does all of my sewing but she’s not happy with us right now, so we’ll have to wait.)