Category Archives: TV/movie

La Merienda and Mexico’s Abuelita

“La merienda” is a traditional Latin American snack break which can be taken between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. It’s different from most American snack or coffee breaks because la merienda isn’t something you would scarf down behind the wheel of your car, buy from a vending machine, or mindlessly munch while checking E-mail. It’s a moment each day, often shared with others, where you sit down at the table and savor what is more like a miniature meal. This tradition is about taking a moment to relax and truly appreciate comida, familia and amigos, which creates a thankful spirit.

Nestlé Abuelita sent me some of their products to enjoy during our daily merienda and although I wish you could have been sitting at the table with me, I took some photos so you can share in the experience.

I usually use the Abuelita "tableta" to make hot chocolate, and I love to add cinnamon.

Nestlé Abuelita sent me the granulated form and instant hot chocolate mix packets which make it easier for the boys to make their own.

Using hot milk instead of water provides calcium and a creamier drink.

Merienda time with a cup of hot chocolate and a tamal de elote.

History & Culture

Coincidentally this past weekend, while watching a Pedro Infante film, (Los tres García) with Carlos, I said, “That old lady looks familiar,” – referring to one of the actresses on screen. Carlos laughed, “That’s abuelita!”

“I know that’s the abuelita,” I said, for she was the grandmother of the three main characters in the movie, “I mean I’ve seen her somewhere else.”

“Yes, she’s the abuelita on the hot chocolate!” Carlos said.

I thought he was joking, but it’s true. After a little research I discovered that the woman on packages of Abuelita is Mexican actress Sara García – She so often played the part of the “abuela” in films during the 1940′s-1950′s that she became known as “Mexican Cinema’s Grandmother.”

Are you ready for your merienda?

Below, find out how to win a Nestlé Abuelita Prize Pack. Also know that sometime on or around March 7th, you can visit and RSVP to join a special event where you’ll have another chance to win a merienda prize pack from Nestlé Abuelita.



Prize: The Nestlé Abuelita Prize Pack for ONE lucky winner which values at $50 will include:

• Nestlé Abuelita Instant and Nestlé Abuelita Granulado product
• Two coffee/hot chocolate mugs and saucers
• One hot chocolate spoon
• A set of recipe cards to provide some ideas for enjoying your Nestlé Abuelita products
• Nestle note cards
• Disposable digital camera

How to Enter:

In the comments section, tell us if you currently partake in a daily afternoon snack break or “merienda.”

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. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 20th, 2012 through February 25th, 2012. Entries received after February 25th, 2012 at 11:59 PM, 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 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.

Disclosure: I received products from Nestlé to facilitate the review and writing of this post. All opinions are my own.

Do you want to rent a movie?

Image source: Eddie Does Japan

More arguments at Casa López start with this seemingly innocent question than I would like to admit. Here is a transcript of what happened this past weekend when Carlos uttered those 7 little words.

Carlos: Do you want to rent a movie?
Tracy: Yeah, sure.

{We both sit down in front of the computer to see what’s new in RedBox.}

Tracy: How about Saving Private Perez?
Carlos: That looks stupid.
Tracy: It’s supposed to be stupid, that’s why it’s funny.
Carlos: No, pick something else.
Tracy: How about this?
Carlos: What’s that?
Tracy: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
Carlos: What’s it about?
Tracy: Let’s watch the trailer.
Carlos: No! Just read the description, just tell me.
Tracy: Why would I just read the description when there’s a trailer right here and you can see with your own eyes? {clicks play}
Carlos: {sighs}

{trailer ends}

Carlos: I still don’t get it. What’s it about?
Tracy: It’s about women in China who have a special friendship. The cinematography is so beautiful, don’t you think?
Carlos: Um, yeah, but it looks depressing. Can we get something with a little more action?
Tracy: Fine… How about this?
Carlos: Which one?
Tracy: A Better Life.
Carlos: What’s it about?
Tracy: A father and son who immigrate to the United States and the difficulties they face. There’s probably a little action in it, I’d imagine.
Carlos: I lived that, I don’t need to watch it.
Tracy: Carlos, come on. This looks like a good father, son story. Look. {clicks play}

Tracy: {starts crying}
Carlos: You’re crying! I’m not renting this! You’re crying already! This is just the trailer! This movie is depressing!
Tracy: Why are you yelling at me?!
Carlos: Because you’re crying and you don’t want to rent anything good!
Tracy: Fine, you pick but I don’t want to watch anything with aliens or explosions or war, or the end of the world, or exploding aliens ending the world, or—
Carlos: How about Fast Five?
Tracy: Or car racing! You’ve seen that three times already!
Carlos: Well I like that one!
Tracy: Come on! Pick something we haven’t seen!
Carlos: Xmen.
Tracy: Ew, no.
Carlos: Captain America?
Tracy: Dude, we saw that when we were in El Salvador.
Carlos: But we saw it in Spanish.
Tracy: It’s the same movie! … What’s with you and super heroes anyway? No super hero movies either.
Carlos: You’re being so picky!
Tracy: You’re the one whose being picky! There are a bunch of movies I’d love to watch and you won’t watch them. It’s not like I’m asking to watch Jane Eyre or some other girly movie. The worst part is I told Redbox they should have more documentaries and foreign films and now you never want to watch them with me so they’ll probably stop stocking them.
Carlos: {laughing} They put them in there just for you?
Tracy: I told them to! I tweeted them!
Carlos: {sighs}
Tracy: So what are we renting? Are we renting anything? … We’re going to end up renting something like Dolphin Tale.
Carlos: I’d watch that.
Tracy: Seriously, Carlos?… The dolphin needs a tail so Morgan Freeman and a little boy help the dolphin get a tail, the end. I’m not watching that.
Carlos: So, are we not renting anything?
Tracy: I guess not… maybe they’ll have something we can agree on next week.

Where is the Latino Cosby Show?

As I’ve mentioned before, I Love Lucy is something my entire family loves and it is one of the rare shows I watch on a near daily basis. Some may think I started watching I Love Lucy because it’s about a Latino married to a gringa but I’ve been watching it since I was a little girl, which makes me wonder if it had some hand in the destiny I pursued.

After I got married, I Love Lucy took on new meaning to me, and it was one of the first shows I introduced Carlos to. Surprisingly, he never saw it in El Salvador, although they had a dubbed version of everything from Friends, Saved By the Bell, and Golden Girls to Smurfs, Beverly Hills 90210, Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver.

As I watch this show with my boys, sometimes I forget that our sons are growing up in a household similar to the one on the screen – similar to the one “Little Ricky” grew up in – bicultural, bilingual, Spanish-speaking father and an Anglo mother. It doesn’t matter how often I watch and re-watch I Love Lucy, I never quite get over how completely ahead of their time they were. It’s strange to me that my boys can’t fully relate to any characters on today’s TV shows, yet they can relate to I Love Lucy which aired in the 1950′s.

Where are today’s bicultural, bilingual, Spanglish speaking characters? There definitely aren’t enough. I’ll admit that children’s programming has come a long way and Latinos are well-represented in cartoons, but my boys aren’t exactly Dora the Explorer’s target audience anymore. Mun2 and Tr3s, likewise, have done an amazing job with bilingual shows like RPM Miami and Quiero Mi Boda, but the themes are much too mature for adolescents. Where is the programming for the modern familia Latina? Where is the show that will do for Latinos what The Cosby Show did for blacks? Where are the sitcoms for families like us, or are we supposed to be content with re-runs of The George Lopez show?

Until then, I Love Lucy makes us feel that we are normal, at least as much as a bicultural, bilingual household can be.

Ñ = N with a mustache

Actor Michael Peña, (not Pena), encourages use of “Ñ” – I love this!

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias – Giveaway!

Gabriel Iglesias is one of my favorite comedians, so when I was asked if I wanted to do a giveaway of the DVD release of the Comedy Central show, “Gabriel Iglesias Stand-up Revolution” – I was all in!

This is a 2 disc set with over 40 minutes of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias and his comedian friends and even features OZOMATLI as the house band. If you haven’t seen the TV show, Gabriel serves mainly as host and introduces the comedians before they perform. All of the comedians are friends of Gabriel’s and most of them are breaking into the business. Some of the comedians are funnier than others, but the DVD is worth having for the opening story Gabriel tells about Arizona. (Their tour bus was pulled over by Border Patrol – hilarity ensues.) I also loved the outtakes and the music video called “Hey, It’s Fluffy!” made especially for Gabriel by OZOMATLI.

Here’s a preview of the DVD – (which is definitely not for niños and somewhat not safe for work, depending on how cool or not cool your boss is.)

Want your own copy? Read the details below for how to win!



Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a 2 disc DVD release of “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution.”

Approximate value: $15.00.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me what you like about comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias! If you’re not yet familiar with Gabriel, tell me about your favorite comedian of all time. (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. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between November 20th, 2011 through November 25th, 2011. Entries received after November 25th, 2011 at 11:59 pm, 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 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.

Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

History of Spanglish + A Spanglish version of Little Red Riding Hood

Sometimes we think of Spanglish as a modern invention – something that the younger generation has created as the Latino population grows in the United States and American culture becomes increasingly popular in Latin America. The truth is, Spanglish has been around a long time. The term, “Spanglish” was first coined by a Puerto Rican linguist named Salvador Tió in the late 1940s. Tió also came up with the word “inglañol” – which is not nearly as popular, (my guess is because it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the same way.)

While the term “Spanglish” first started being used in the late 1940′s, its roots go much further back to the 1800′s, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the 100,000 Mexicans left on the new U.S. side of the border – Mexicans who later became known as “Chicanos.”

Honestly, while I suspected the origins of Spanglish to be something similar to what I found, I wasn’t prompted to research it until recently. Watching I Love Lucy with my little boy before he goes to school is one of my favorite parts of the day. An episode called “Ricky Minds the Baby” aired one morning and in this episode, Ricky tells the story of “Caperucita Roja” (Little Red Riding Hood), to Little Ricky – and he tells it entirely in very charming and amusing Spanglish.

1/18/54: “Ricky Minds the Baby”
I Love Lucy Episode 80 – Filmed 12/3/53
Story: Ricky decides that Lucy deserves a rest, so he offers to take care of Little Ricky.

Links: – Spanglish I
Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America By Ed Morales
Wikipedia – Spanglish
Latinaish – Spanglish Songs Caperucita Roja – Vocabulary

Hámster Mexicano

Hola! 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! For English Translation, scroll down!


Están listos por esto? No creo que ustedes están listos, pero bueno – lo voy a compartir de todos modos.

Hay un nuevo show del canal Tr3s que se llama “El Spooky Show” que cuenta con un hámster mexicano de tamaño humano y su compañero. Originalmente “Spooky” apareció en un comercial durante la Copa Mundial. Tal vez lo recuerdan:

(¡Advertencia! Spooky el hámster es adorable y chistoso pero no es para niños o personas que se ofenden fácilmente.)

¿Quieren más? Los cortometrajes de 12 episodios se estrenarán exclusivamente por Internet con la presentación de dos nuevos episodios en línea cada semana a partir de hoy en!


Are you ready for this? I don’t think you guys are ready, but I’m going to share anyway.

There’s a new show from channel Tr3s that’s called “El Spooky Show” which is about a human-sized Mexican hamster and his roommate. Orignally, “Spooky” appeared in a commercial during the World Cup. Maybe you remember him.

(Warning! Spooky the hamster is adorable and funny but he is not for kids or the easily offended.)

Want more? The 12-episode shorts will premier exclusively online with two new webisodes debuting each week, starting today on!

El Salvador – The movie theater

Before we left for El Salvador I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and showed it to Carlos.

Volcano? Okay.
Mayan ruins? Yep.
Eat pupusas? Of course.
Go to the movie theater? … What? Why??

Because I hadn’t been to a movie theater in El Salvador, that’s why… and so we went although Carlos tried to convince me it was exactly the same as the theaters in the U.S., I knew that it wouldn’t be. It’s never exactly the same in El Salvador. Never. Ever.

Besides, our friends were on August break with nothing to do and we could take them with us. Because of the cost, they rarely go to the movie theater, so it was special to them.

First we had to decide which movie to see. I was very insistent that we see Harry Potter. We had already seen it in the United States and I thought that since the boys had seen it in English, it would be good for them to see it in Spanish. Carlos wasn’t crazy about seeing it again, and our friends hadn’t seen a single Harry Potter movie, so they would have been lost.

“He’s so cute, isn’t he?” Carlos’s friend’s wife said to me in Spanish, sighing at a movie poster for Captain America.

I crinkled my nose. “Eh, I don’t really like blonds,” I said.
“I think he’s so handsome,” she said, “I’d love to see that movie.”

That’s when I noticed our friend’s teenage son was wearing a Captain America hat. Clearly they knew which movie they wanted to see.

“Okay,” I sighed in defeat, “We’ll see Captain America.”

We went through the line and when we finally reached the cashier we had to decide whether we wanted to see the movie dubbed or with subtitles, (we chose dubbed.) Then before we could pay for our tickets we were told to pick our seats.

Huh? Pick our seats? Yeah, we’ll do that when we get in there with our popcorn and stuff.

No, you have to pick your seats now.


Our friend’s teenage son showed us the computer screen right there in front of us, where we had to pick our seats as if we were going on an airplane.

Picking our seats at the movie theater.

Assigned seats at the movie theater! “I told you it would be different!” I said to Carlos with glee.

The concession stand had all the usual items you’d expect but also some odd things, like chocolate cake. The ticket and concession prices were outrageous by Salvadoran standards, (just like in the United States), but comfortable for us.

The boys, ready to see their first movie in El Salvador.

Unlike the concession stands in the United States which leave you to juggle all your snacks on your own, in El Salvador they give you a very handy tray.

Carlos carries the popcorn and "Coca."

We found our seats and were shocked at what a beautiful, modern theater it was. These seats were hands down the most comfortable seats I had ever sat in at a movie theater. The cushions were thick and the seats reclined. The theater itself seemed brand new and really clean… Keep in mind, this theater is at Metrocentro, the “poor people mall” as I heard it called.

Waiting for the movie to begin.

While we were sitting there waiting for the movie to begin, a young guy came up the aisle stairs and called out to his friend before going to the concession stand. “Qué quieres? Soda? Dulces?… Paloma?”

The guy started laughing and I did, too, although the joke was rather inappropriate to make with kids around. Luckily my kids didn’t get it. (In El Salvador, “Paloma” is slang for “penis” … and “Palomitas de maiz” means popcorn, of course. So, what he said was “What do you want? Soda? Candy?… penis/popcorn.”)

The movie, (“Capitán América”) – actually turned out to be pretty good. The audience in El Salvador tends to be more vocal than audiences in the United States. An onscreen kiss or a pretty woman entering a scene elicited a lot of appreciative hisses from the men. (In American culture, a “hiss” is considered a sound of disapproval but Salvadorans have hisses of approval, don’t ask me how, they just do.)

Then after the movie, our friends found it peculiar that we carried our own trash out to the trashcans, (nobody else did.)

All in all, a fun experience, and the best part was that the boys understood everything that happened with no need for translation.

Best of the NY International Latino Film Festival

The HBO® New York International Latino Film Festival presented its 2011 awards at a ceremony this past Sunday. The NYILFF feature documentaries and films in English and Spanish, which reflect “America’s cultural diversity as well as the global urban experience.”

If I could pick which films I’d like to show up in my Redbox machine, here are the ones I would choose. (Because seriously, as much as I love Redbox, I would love them even more if they took out some of the mindless movies and added some more films and documentaries.)


Description: “After a decade of living in New York, 30-year-old Antonio returns to his native Costa Rica for a short visit. When events force him to stay, he is confronted with everything he has desperately struggled to put in the past: a broken family, an ailing father and a violent country. Unable to run away as usual, Antonio must come to terms with his past in order to take hold of the present and build a better future.”

After coming back from El Salvador and knowing friends going through the same thing – this film really resonates with me. Plus the trailer made me literally laugh out loud when he said, “Deje de comer papaya y vaya emprima mi pasaporte!”


Description: “Hector, a troubled teen from the Harlem projects, forms a surprising bond with Lilly, a lonely girl who feels trapped in the restrictions of her Upper East Side life.”


Description: “Fewer than six in ten Latino adults in the United States have a high school diploma. Precious Knowledge is the unbelievable and inspiring story of high school seniors in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. 82% of the students in the program will graduate and go on to college. Their journey will astound you.”


Description: “In the ancient cobblestone streets of Cuzco, Peru, a postcard-selling street kid, Pablo, encounters a 12-year-old American girl, Mary. Her fascination with the Andean culture, alongside his desire to understand a life beyond his own, helps them transcend the language barrier. As their innocent curiosity grows into young love, their lives will intertwine in ways that will alter them forever.”


Description: “A coming of age story reflective of our cynical times, Blacktino gives an honest — and hilarious — depiction of high school life as seen through the imaginative eyes of a bi-racial computer nerd, Stefan Daily, and his misfit friends, Laura Vega and Matt Miyamoto. Raised by his black grandmother in an Austin suburb, Stefan struggles to find his place in a mostly white high school, finally finding sanctuary among the eclectic mix of social outcasts in the theater department.”


Description: “A Mexican immigrant, recently arrived in America, visits a flea market. He spots Lupita, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Lupita reminds him of Mexico, of the Virgin Mary, of his mother. With no money in his pocket, he decides to steal a gift and win her heart.”


Description: “When their daughter runs away, America’s abusive lover unleashes his rage against her. Fleeing her home in the Caribbean, America escapes to New York City hoping for a new life. There she works as a nanny for a wealthy family. She befriends three nannies — a Mexican, a Colombian and a Dominican –and with their help, as well as support from relatives in the Bronx, America is determined to bring her daughter back to her. But as she dares to dream of a life without violence, reality hunts her down.”

I remember reading this book and this looks like one of those rare instances when the film is just as good.

Description: “In the airport of some Western nation, a group of Ecuadorians are pulled out of line and arrested. Among the group waiting to be deported is Prometeo, a young man in possession of a trunk filled with magic — which is fortuitous, since illusion may be their only way out.”

(I wish they’d make a Salvadoran version of this one. It looks hilarious though I don’t know much about Ecuadorians.)

Many more amazing films at the New York International Latino Film Festival website. Chécalo!

El Perro y El Gato {giveaway}

I don’t do giveaways often but when I do, I make sure it’s something I know my readers will really love. I’ve been a longtime fan of the bilingual animated series El Perro y El Gato on HBO Latino & HBO Family, so when they asked me if I wanted to giveaway their new DVDs, it was a definite “¡Sí, señor! … (actually, it was a woman who contacted me… but nevermind.)

As for the DVDs – I really can’t tell you how much the kids and I love these, (and at almost 13 and 10 years old, they are definitely not pre-schoolers, so I can only imagine how much even younger kids adore these characters.) My younger son watched one of the DVDs with his visiting nephew yesterday and they both laughed and repeated things in Spanish every few minutes.

If you haven’t seen the show before, here’s one of the episodes that has aired on TV:

Here’s some more information from the press release:

El Perro Y El Gato…offer valuable lessons from a lovable, overexcited orange dog (El Perro) and his laid-back, always hungry pal, a purple cat (El Gato). The specials help children to learn a new language in a playfully quirky, humorous, and engaging way. The El Perro Y El Gato titles will be available on August 9, 2011 for the suggested retail price of $9.95 each.

As a cat and dog, El Perro Y El Gato may have different worldviews, but they are still best buds – and totally bilingual. Featuring lots of vibrant colors, catchy music and plenty of attitude, the specials show the friends in their daily routines as they tackle problems and mount wonderful adventures that create non-stop fun and laughter – all the while teaching kids how to speak in English and in Spanish. New episodes of El Perro y El Gato returns to HBO Latino on September 15th at 7am and on HBO Family September 18th at 6:30pm.

Now for the chance to win your own set of the new El Perro y El Gato DVDs!

I will be selecting -THREE- (Sí, ¡tres!) random winners. EACH winner will receive the entire set of 4 DVDs which includes:

El Perro y El Gato: La Aventura Comienza/The Adventure Begins
El Perro y El Gato: Sin Correa/Unleashed
El Perro y El Gato: Juntos Otra Vez/Together Again
El Perro y El Gato: De Aquí Para Allá/From Here to There

For a chance to win watch the video [above] and then leave a comment telling me which character is your favorite – El Perro, or El Gato, and why. Make sure you use a valid E-mail address so that if you win, I will be able to contact you. If you’re a winner, you must be able to provide a shipping address in the U.S.

Buena suerte/Good luck!

Giveaway comment entries will be accepted until: 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, August 11th, 2011. Winner to be announced here and contacted via E-mail on Friday, August 12th, 2011.


The winners are:



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 557 other followers