10.30.2014

Happening in So Cal: Halloween and Dia de los Muertos at L.A Live


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts are my own.

As a young Mexican-American girl growing up in Southern California, I'd never heard of Dia de los Muertos until I moved to East L.A to attend college. I discovered a very vibrant celebration and community and was instantly drawn to it. Now that I'm a mama to six kids, I've discovered many ways to make it a family affair.

We've been celebrating Dia de los Muertos for several years and some of our favorite aspects of this holiday is the creativity — we love the brightly colored papel picado, the art, the handmade touches, the music, the danzantes and the drama the evening of November second always seems to bring with it.

As Halloween and Day of the Dead festivities begin, I'll be heading over to L.A Live to experience Skeletown Square with Target for a #FrightfulFiesta.

Target has invited all of the mummies and catrinas, ghosts and skeletons for a #FrightfulFiesta at L.A. LIVE! Come dressed up with your whole family to Skeletown Square, a free spooktacular to celebrate your Día de los Muertos and Halloween traditions. There will be face painting, festive games for prizes, a huge altar of the dead and a spooktastic spectacular in our cemetery.

I'm looking forward to a change of scenery on Halloween this year, so we'll be hanging out in L.A and experiencing pumpkin decorating, making sugar skulls, face painting, trick-or-treating and carnival games for my whole family to enjoy. Sounds like fun, amirite?

All it takes is a set of cat ears and whiskers to make this girl happy on Halloween.
Skeletown Square will be held at Nokia Plaza at L.A. Live on Friday, October 31st from 4 - 10 p.m. and Saturday, November 1st from 2 - 10 p.m. I hope to see you there!

10.28.2014

Day of the Dead: Paper Mache Calavera

Dia de los Muertos is right around the corner and I wanted to share this really quick Instagram video of a paper mache calavera. You can find directions to diy paper mache here and here.


A video posted by Denise Cortes (@pearmama) on


This is the perfect craft to make with your kids before November 2nd to add to Day of the Dead festivities.

10.25.2014

Think Pink | Exuberant Pink Accent Wall from Sherwin-Williams


Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of color to add some punch to a room.

This is why I've always loved accent walls.

Choosing a color that will compliment the style of your home is a challenge and if you’re like me -- a person who loves color -- it's crazy hard to commit to the perfect shade. It’s even more of a challenge to commit to a color for an entire room. This is where creating an accent wall comes in and saves the day.

An accent wall is where you can really take chances and be bold.

Take my daughter's bedroom, for example.


I can't say that my "before wall" looked all that shabby. My daughters and I really loved the green color I chose a couple years ago in this Photo Wall Collage post. The photo collage wall of colorful frames and artwork really set it off, too. But I was itching for a change and since I've been collaborating with Sherwin-Williams Latino, I'm like a kid in a candy store. How can I not choose an amazing color with so many to choose from?

Mama, we want a pink wall! 

I gave them the side eye when they said pink because I immediately envisioned this hideous cotton candy pink color. Pink? Really? My mind could not wrap itself around an entire room of that color. I knew I wanted it to be a vibrant shade of pink, something modern and fresh and nothing too “bubblegum”.

I began searching for shades of pink that I could live with. Nevermind that this was for my daughter's room -- I had to love it, too. Taking cues from their bedding, I chose SW 6840 Exuberant Pink.

Perfection.

10.21.2014

Encouraging bilingual literacy for our kids with Read Conmigo

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Read Conmigo and Latina Bloggers Connect. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

My daughter with one of our favorite bilingual books.

As a young Latina in college in East L.A, one of my dreams was to become a book illustrator. I always loved art and books, so I majored in Design and Illustration as a way to combine the two. I wanted to illustrate stories for little girls that were like myself: a Latina with long, dark braids who grew up with a Nana who spoke Spanish to them and cooked nopales from the back yard.

In other words, I wanted to create art for books that told my story.

My life took another road, and I quickly became a wife and mother after I graduated college. As a result, a few of my dreams were put on hold as I was raising my familia. Fast forward seventeen years later, and I now find myself on the other side of my dream: writing the stories for those illustrations that I wanted to create.

I'm a firm believer in teaching our children to be bilingual. I was never taught how to speak Spanish as a child and I always feel like it's been one of my biggest handicaps, especially now that I'm a Latina blogger! I have people mention it to me all the time. My husband is bilingual and he has always tried to teach our children Spanish but it's been a challenge since I've been the parent home with the children most of the time. The result? My children are not fluent but they are very familiar and comfortable with the language and the culture. Books in Spanish help us bridge that gap.

10.20.2014

Calavera Frida Kahlo: Inspiring others through art


Occasionally I'll receive an email from someone who was inspired by something I created. It's a good right-down-to-your-bones feeling to know that something you made with your own hands excited another person enough to make them want to get up and express themselves creatively.

Lord knows I've been inspired by other artists in just the same way, time and time again.

Last year I was contacted by a sweet woman named Janet. She was inspired by the Calavera Frida y Diego collage that my son and I created a few years ago and she wanted to turn it into a quilt. What an honor. I couldn't be more impressed with the results!

10.17.2014

My family's all-time favorite movie is now on Netflix Streaming


In my home, we are faithful Netflix watchers.

Yes, we have cable and a DVR but sometimes my husband goes Old Testament on us all and he cuts the wires. No, literally -- he cuts the cables for the cable. It's usually because my kids aren't doing their schoolwork or because my daughter has morphed into the fat family cat, lounging on the sofa watching her favorite Disney shows every chance she gets.

He gets a wild hair and he just

shuts

it

down.

So, we survive on Netflix.

Recently, my family rejoiced because one of our all-time favorite movies popped up on streaming this October. Oh em gee it's just the best movie ever. It has it all -- humor, music, dancing, gut-wrenching conflict, two villains, action, a glorious love story and...claymation chickens.

Yes, I said chickens. Chicken Run!

10.15.2014

On sale: Dia de los Muertos Craft Mystery Boxes


Guys, I have so much Dia de los Muertos stuff that my office is packed to the gills.

I'd love to share some of my craft stash with you! And I'm totally going to, in the form of these fun Dia de los Muertos Craft Mystery Boxes.

What are mystery boxes, you ask?

A USPS medium flat rate shipping box that I fill with all of my crafty goodness -- custom candles, skull garlands, scarves, iron-on appliques, Loteria-themed items and a bunch of my craft tools/supplies! You may even see some of the diy projects I've featured on this blog. Whatever I can stuff in that box, I will.

No two mystery boxes will be alike and you can't guarantee exactly what will be in the mystery box you purchase -- that's the fun part about it.

It's a mystery, ya'll.

Head over to my Pearmama Etsy store and order your mystery box before they are gone!

10.10.2014

My grandmother's hands

My Nana as a young girl, a young woman and as a young wife.
My little brown Nana from East L.A turned 86 years young last July.

As I think back on this lovely woman, scenes from my childhood flow through my mind.

Riding shotgun in her blue Pinto as she drove to the bank in Lincoln Heights. I would stare at the Chicano Time Trip mural by Los Dos Streetscapers (Paul Botello and Wayne Healy) on the walls of the East West Bank the entire time.

Image source: Flickr / Marisa Osollo Montellano 

All of those summers and weekends and holidays in East L.A definitely shaped who I am as an artist, that I know for sure.

My Nana is woven into those early memories. My father's mother has been nothing but loving and sweet to me. I am her first grandchild. When my parents divorced back in 1981, my Nana's home in El Sereno became a safe haven for my little brother, sister and I. No matter where my father moved to and who he lived with, she always opened up her home to us and made us feel welcome.

She cooked delicious food for us (her menudo is the best). She made us comfy beds to lay in at night. She let us play in the yard while she tended to her roses in the backyard. She took us with her around town while she ran errands.  She always spoiled us at Christmas. She let me sit at her feet while she watched The Young and the Restless, All my Children and General Hospital and chain-smoked unfiltered Pall Malls. She loved my mother, even though my father was no longer married to her. That meant so much to me.

When I turned 20 and I wanted to transfer to college in L.A., she opened up her home to me once again. She loved me and accepted me as I was...rebellious, sarcastic, "free-thinking", combat boot wearing, pot smoking, painter, artist Chicana clad in black from head to toe. Some nights I would tumble in the door after a long night at a concert or a nightclub to find her peacefully crocheting a blanket or playing solitare. She never asked me what I was up to, or scolded me, or judged me -- she was always her sweet and loving self and she was happy I was home safe.

The years have passed and we've both grown older. When I became a mama, she used to call me all the time and ask me how my babies were doing. Now her memory isn't as strong. Sometimes she remembers who I am, but most of the time she doesn't. It's bittersweet but I know she has a lifetime of love and memories of me locked inside her heart and that is enough.

She recently took a nasty fall in her bathroom and broke her femur. She is such a dainty little thing, so fragile and light.

Nana is so fancy with her pink mani.

10.09.2014

Favorite things: Halloween Time at Disneyland

There are no two carved pumpkins alike in the park.

October kicks off the Halloween and Dia de los Muertos season and one of my favorite places to visit here in good old Southern California is Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. Since my family is lucky enough to be annual pass holders, we find ourselves at the park several times a month. If we can escape for a few hours, we let our teenagers loose and munch on a jalapeño cheese Mickey pretzel while my younger kids wait line for their favorite rides. It's a fun escape during the week.

My favorite time of year at Disneyland is happening right now -- Halloween Time! I don't know what it is...maybe it's the shift of weather, the promise of the holidays on their way, all of the fun Halloween decorations all over the park...either way, it's a spooky fun time.


Our favorite things at Disneyland during Halloween Time


All the fireworks
Disney knows how to put together a fireworks show like no other and the Hollywood Screams Fireworks Spectacular is no exception. I love to see all of the happy little faces oohing and ahhing on their parent's shoulders, all lit up by the fireworks in the sky.



10.03.2014

Video: Make your own Sugar Skull Backpack


Now that October is upon us, I'd like to share other cool / fun / creative / Dia de los Muertos content with you from my peoples on the interwebz because I have the most talented friends and family! How can I not share?

Let's kick it off with my baby brother Boifromipanema's latest video for I Love to Create:



I totally want to make one of those backpacks now, don't you? Tulip Fabric Markers -- I'm a fan.

Thanks, brother!


Get social with Boifromipanema on YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Vine

10.02.2014

DIY | Crafty Chica Day of the Dead Papers 3 Ways



Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! September 15 - October 15 is the time of year when we pay tribute to generations of Hispanics/Latinos that enriched our communities and country. Hispanic Heritage Month also brings with it one of my favorite things: the Crafty Chica line of craft products that you can find at a Michael's Art & Crafts end cap near you.

It's no secret that Kathy Cano-Murillo, the Crafty Chica is my crafty BFF. We forged a friendship back in 2011, when I stepped out of my box and went to one of her Crafty Chica tour stops at my local Michael's. I don't know why I was so nervous -- her and her husband Patrick were lovely people, so down to Earth and nice. We've been friends ever since.

She's been such an inspiration to me and I look forward to her product line every September!

I was super excited to come home from a recent beach trip with my family to find a red box filled with Crafty Chica goodies. My favorite thing? The Dia de los Muertos paper packs. Each pack has 20 different designs, all sized to 5.5 x 8.5 inches, ranging from oilcloth patterns to sugar skulls.




9.29.2014

Growth: Life, love, familia & blogging


When I began blogging back in the stone ages (2006),  I was the mama to six little ones age 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9. It was something I did in between dirty diapers, goldfish cracker snack breaks and teaching phonics.

I never got to take a shower longer than two and a half minutes.
I lived off of scrambled eggs and Grape Nuts cereal.
I never had my nipples bit so many times in my entire life before I breastfed all six of my kids.

Blogging was definitely a creative outlet for me. I had to put my paintbrushes and canvas on sabbatical while I was raising my babies and writing became a lifeline for me.

All of my laughter, tears, struggles and triumphs of being a mother -- I shared it on my blog.

That one time my daughter put her hand in her dirty diaper and smeared caca all over her playpen.
That one time I tried on a Spanx for the very first time.
The day my oldest child turned ten years old.
How my kids go insane every time they saw a piñata.
When I shared some of the first works of art I created since becoming a mother.
That one time I thought I was going to go crazy if I had to potty train another child I gave birth to.
When I had to have the sex talk with my 9, 10 and 12 year old.
That one time I found ants in our big tub of Ovaltine and I still let the kids drink it because the big tub of Ovaltine was really expensive.

Ahem. I mean...

The over-sharing just goes on. Storytelling became my passion. How many mothers with six kids do you know? I wanted to give insight to the life of a large family -- the good, the bad and the ugly.



9.25.2014

The Purple Purse: Help for domestic violence survivors

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Allstate Foundation® and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions expressed are my own.

Domestic violence. Financial abuse.

It's that big, ugly elephant in the room.

We all know someone who has been affected by domestic violence and their stories are sad, scary and sometimes tragic. They are very real. With former NFL running back Ray Rice and Janay Palmer in the news, it's about time this conversation has started. We've all seen the TMZ footage. It's absolutely shocking, watching a person strike another, especially when he drags her limp body out of the elevator. The fact that moves her like a sack of potatoes just makes it seem even more brutal.

Frankly, I think it's despicable when a man hits a woman. Also, when a woman hits a man. No one should feel like it's okay to hit the person they love because they are angry.

Growing up, I witnessed lots of domestic violence within my extended family and alcohol abuse played a big role. Within my own home, this wasn't my experience. My parents divorced when I was seven years old, but my father never put his hands on my mother. Ever. I like to think of it as some type of frequency -- the cycle of abuse is on a frequency that I just did not live on. Some people exist on that frequency and abusing others becomes this vicious cycle.

9.19.2014

Neutrogena Selfie Teen Party: Taking care of their skin

Neutrogena Rapid Clear line.

Ever since my sons have started to navigate their teen years, I've been concerned about their skin.  I remember what puberty was like and how I felt like a leper every time my skin broke out. Thank the heavens my breakouts were mild and I survived my teen years not too worse for the wear. Still, I worry about my boys and I cringe every time I see them touch their faces with sweaty, dirty hands. Inside I'm like, noooooooo.

Now, I'm that mom, the skin care nazi.

Me: You guys should use this cleanser twice a day.
Them: Do we have to?
Me: Yes! It's important to keep your skin clean and it'll help prevent breakouts. Do you want zits, son? Here, try this astringent.
Them: Astringent?
Me: You should also exfoliate.
Them: *blank stare*

And so it goes.  I seem to chase them around with cotton pads and astringent. They don't know how good they have it -- a mama who wants to help them have healthy, clean skin. I don't remember my own mother teaching me about how to take care of my skin so over the years it's been a lot of trial and error. It doesn't have to be this way for them.

Recently, we were invited to a Neutrogena Selfie Teen Party by my amiga Rachel from The Art Muse. It was a fun evening of civilized company -- as civilized as a rowdy group of teenagers can be -- with other teens, along with some yummy snacks and some cool Neutrogena products.

9.14.2014

Family time: Movie & pizza night


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of the Netflix Stream Team. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Friday nights were always my favorite night as a kid.

Friday nights meant my mom was home and could relax with us. It also meant we would watch my brother play high school football. It meant school dances. It meant pizza (holler if you love pizza leftovers for Saturday morning breakfast!). It also meant movie night.

Now that I'm a mama with six kids, our Friday nights are completely different. You would not believe how hard it is to wrangle eight people in one place. My teenagers have an active social life. We have soccer practice on Friday nights (seriously, who schedules soccer practice on a Friday night -- at 7 pm, no less). Also, when you have work-from-home parents, TGIF doesn't really hold the same meaning.

Still, I want to create that family relaxation time that my kids can count on. A night we where we just pile on to the sofa, eat some veggie pizza (I'm too much of an old woman to eat pepperoni anymore) and watch a movie on Netflix. What are we watching on Netflix these days? 

I'm loving the single girl mishaps of Being Mary Jane.
My son Diego is all about Doctor Who. He even went out and bought a red fez and a sonic screwdriver -- total geek status!
My son Solomon loves everything skater-related so he is all about Dogtown and Z-Boys, Bones Brigade, Lords of Dogtown and Waiting for Lightning.
My girls love Mako Mermaids.
My husband loves to watch Marley while he's working in his studio.


More ideas from Netflix:

Does your family do a pizza and movie night?

Get social with Netflix on Facebook | Twitter
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