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.

curate1
curate2

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!

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!

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.)