Mexi-Halloween: Sugar Skull Pumpkins

I am not much for Halloween decorations. I know, I know! My poor chil'rens, deprived of giant spiders hanging near the front door, spider webs draped on the bushes in the patio and a huge blow-up jack 'o lantern on the front line.

Poor kids. Suffering and whatnot.

It's not that I don't like Halloween decorations. I do. I had grand plans to get crafty with a can of Krylon Glitter Blast, a wreath and black crows. But life, laundry (my excuse for everything), blogging, homeschool, my husband's birthday and prep for Dia de los Muertos happened and before you know it, Halloween is almost over.


So I thought I would find some middle ground. I've been loving Crafty Chica's Mexi-Halloween series! I was totes inspired.

I thought it was high time I break out of my non-Halloween decorating funk and hook up some pumpkins. But not just any old pumpkins--Mexi-Pumpkins! Thank you, Kathy, for coming up with this cool idea. Now, onto my contribution to the series:

Oh hai sad, forlorn pumpkin looking as nekkid as the day you were born.
I got as far as primer and a loose sketch of a few sugar skulls and then they sat on my desk to mock me. 

Commence pumpkin painting party with Boifromipanema on a Saturday night. Yes, we have no lives
I'm happy with the direction of our Mexi-Halloween pumpkins. I decided to meld Day of the Dead with Halloween and decorate my pumpkins with some rad sugar skulls.

Oh, my sweet Frida.

I absolutely LOVE my cholo pumpkin. Cholo culture is huge in Southern California. 

I love my sweet rockabilly girl! All my rockabilly sugar skulls are inspired by my cousin Sam, who looks just this in real life. Beautiful!

I'm loving the way they all turned out. Aren't BoifromIpanema's Mexi-pumpkins boss, too? They were so easy to make, friends. We just traced them with a pencil, used various craft paints and paint markers. Paint markers are your friend--I used to spend all my time using a #000 brush, being super obsessive about everything. Paint markers took care of all that. Thank you, extra fine tip paint markers.

To protect our pumpkins (some are plastic, a couple of them are real), we coated them with Aleene's Collage Pauge in Sparkle from I Love to Create. It makes everything pretty and sparkly! See for yourselves.

How adorbs is that leopard-print flower? And how marvelous is that Sparkle finish? See, I told you!

I hope our Mexi-Pumpkins inspire you to do something cool with your round, orange friends of the season. Happy Halloween!


Dia de los Muertos: A Su Manera #ViveCultura Giveaway

This question was posed to me recently: How do you share your culture with your children? I tried my best to come up with an eloquent, meaningful response but the answer was simple.

I don't have to share my culture with my children, we just live it. We breathe it in, we listen to it, we smell it, we touch it, we see it and we taste it.

It's life.

I thought of what my culture meant to me as a child. I was confused, always searching for a true reflection. Aside from my family and the vast network of aunts, uncles and cousins, I didn't know anyone else like me. In my small rural community dotted with orange groves and horse trails, there were white people and there were Mexicans. The Mexicans had dark skin, worked at the local dairy and they spoke no English. I wasn't white--that, at least, I knew. But by the same token, I knew I wasn't Mexican either. Mexican-American, yes. Our skin was brown and we ate Mexican food and my grandparents spoke Spanish but it wasn't the same. This put me in this weird gray area--neither here nor there. Just floating somewhere in the middle.

I'd like to think that my children are nowhere near floating somewhere in the middle.

They are confident in their culture. There is no confusion and doubt like there was for me. They are blessed because they can embrace where they came from and how we live on a daily basis.

My mother didn't know about Dia de los Muertos and it wasn't until I was in college that I grew some understanding. The idea of honoring the dead who have passed before you, making it a beautiful, colorful day where people can share their artistry appealed to me. I knew it was something I'd want to expose the chil'rens to, and so ever since they can remember we have made November 2nd a special day. It's bittersweet, too. We practice honoring the dead in theory, since we have yet to experience the loss of a loved one who is very close to us. I'm sure whenever that happens, Dia de los Muertos will take on a whole new meaning to them.

I recently had the chance to visit Nestlé HQ to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, "A Su Manera" with a select group of Latina bloggers, such as Presley's Pantry, Spanglish Baby, Mami Talks, Unknown Mami, Nibbles and Feasts and The Crafty Chica. I was excited to be in such amazing company. We all had a chance to share what our culture meant to us--the importance of family, food, and the language.

Each table was decorated with elements of Dia de los Muertos and my absolute FAVE coffee: NESCAFÉ® Café de Olla.

As we shared our stories, the tears flowed. We all shared a common thread: a love for our culture and its diversity.

 Nicole from Presley's Pantry was a good sport and volunteered to have her face painted as a calaca.

I was sooo excited to discover a carafe of NESTLÉ® ABUELITA hot chocolate for us to enjoy throughout the entire event. One deep inhale from my cup and the lovely scent just took me back to when I was ten years old and my Nana used to make Abuelita for us before we went to school.
There were beautiful papel picado pieces on display, created by mypapelpicado.com.

We were able to create our own papel picado banners. Working with the delicate tissue paper gave me a whole new appreciation for this art!

This chocolate pecan pie was made with Abuelita chocolate! Swoon.

I love to hang out with this lovely lady every chance I get. She was definitely one of the perks of the day.

Here is a short clip of us getting into the creative spirit of papel picado (special appearance by the Crafty Chica herself!):

Nescafé will be a sponsor at the Dia de los Muertos event at Hollywood Forever Cemetery this year and I am soooo excited--you have no idea! I cannot wait to go and take in all of the sights and sounds.


Talking about #Latinas on HuffPost Live today

I'm blogging about Disney Junior's first so-called Latina Princess, Princess Sofia, today at BabyCenter. Please go and check it out and leave me a comment if you can.

Also, I took part in a HuffPost Live conversation about this topic earlier this morning. It was my first ever HuffPost Live convo and it was totally fun. Trying to get a word in was tricky and it seems like every.single.noise is magnified when you're taking part in a Google Chat hangout.

But woohoo I only had two interruptions by my SIX chil'rens, despite threatening beatings and death by feather tickling to everyone in my house if they interrupted me in my office for at least thirty minutes.

I totes want to do it again. And this time, with my laptop elevated to the heavens because hellooo double chin for the win. 

Here is the conversation, if you're so inclined.


Celebrating Chicana Art on Mamiverse

photo courtesy of Rio Yañez
I've had a deep passion and love for all things Chicano Art ever since I entered college way back in 1990. Yes, I graduated high school, took a month off and then started college during the summer. I was nothing if not dedicated, much to my mother's satisfaction.

I was exposed to Chicano Art and activism and the seed was planted in my heart. I grew to understand that art is not just to feast your eyes upon. It can (and should) also stir your heart, make you think differently and inspire you.

This is exactly what Chicana artist Yolanda Lopez's art did for me when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 22 year old woman living and learning in East L.A. I had the chance to meet her in 2009, which you can read about here.

But please head over to Mamiverse and check out my latest post, Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating Artist Yolanda Lopez. Such a lovely memory and it felt amazing to share with everyone again.


Modern Art 4 Kids: Using magazines to create an abstract drawing

I am totally loving all of the little artists who've been coming over to my place and making art with us on Wednesdays. I'm hoping more and more children join us because it will be the growth of a seed that was planted in my heart years and years ago.

Let me share a little story with you.

My husband Michael grew up in the Mid-City L.A area. He was your typical kid in the hood, walking through gang-affliated territory to get to school. He was a boy with a ton of energy--ADHD to be exact. He spent a lot of his time exploring the streets of his neighborhood, trying to find ways to entertain himself.  One day, he stumbled upon what looked like an oasis in the middle of the grimy streets of of Los Angeles called St. Elmo Village. The little houses were painted bright colors and there were found art sculptures all over. What kind of place is this? he wondered.  The shiny coins at the bottom of a pond immediately captured his attention.

The person who ran the Village was an artist named Roderick Sykes. He saw this little boy trying to fish the coins out of the water and asked him if he wanted to help him build a sign instead. Michael said yes and with that yes, a friendship was formed. A friendship that has lasted thirty years.

What is St. Elmo Village? An artist's enclave, a place to send your children on Saturday mornings so they can paint, draw, play drums, and participate in dramatic plays--to do things they wouldn't normally get to participate in at home and at school. They've been open to the community for over forty years, touching lives and shaping the neighborhood. Michael lived there at one time, teaching on Saturday mornings and being a part of the organization. Even though we live over an hour away, we consider them family.

As our children have grown, so has the vision for our family. St. Elmo Village has influenced us greatly, and so it makes perfect sense that we would take what we've learned from them and adapt it for our lives. Little by little, we've opened up our doors to other families so they can do art. Not so much to "teach" art, but to create an environment where people feel free to tap into their creative side.

One day I looked around and saw the pallet fence we built, our patio furniture set up, the kids in our neighborhood popping in and out, our succulent cactus scattered in pots, the water fountain was bubbling, our art hanging on the fence, our kids happy (and loud) voices and Michael talking about hanging his boombox collection on side of our house and I thought to myself, dude--we are "those people" in the neighborhood. We're just like St. Elmo Village! 

It was a very cool epiphany.

So it's in that environment that we created our latest project: using the half magazine, half drawing technique to create an abstract drawing. Here is an similar example at Art Projects for Kids. It's a project that is really simple but the possibilities are endless, in terms of creativity. We started off by gathering a few interesting clippings from various magazines. Pets and fashion were the hot commodity.  Once the kids find an image they like, cut it in half--vertically or horizontally, it doesn't matter. They can glue it onto a piece of paper using a glue stick (liquid glue is too messy). We use sturdy Canson drawing paper from Michael's, depending on what type of medium we use. For this project, I gave the kids the choice of Marvy Uchida Le Plume II markers or Artist's Loft oil pastels. With the magazine clipping as their starting off point, they are free to draw whatever they feel like. Some kids play it safe, and others take the opportunity to go all out.

That's always fun to see!

Cutting their magazine clippings.
Some kids have a clear idea of what they want to do and get down to business quick.
I was given a large pack of Marvy Uchida markers from the Marvy people at this years CHA Winter 2012 convention in Anaheim. My kids LOVE them! And you know I hate to share my precious markers...

Got to love that llama head peeking in the window!

This is an awesome project to give your kids when they come down with a case of "I'm bored". It's also a wonderful way to expose your child to abstract thinking, in terms of art. It doesn't always have to make sense. There is great creativity in the unexpected!


Video: DIY Ombré Jeans by BoifromIpanema

I've already admitted to my ombré obsession. Handbags, home furnishings, hair--if it's ombré, I'm digging it.

Videos like this don't help.

Check out my baby bro Jeshua from BoifromIpanema while he was at iLovetoCreate's HQ this summer where he shows us his ombré technique on white denim from H & M. Keep your eyes peeled for a funny cameo by that fine young thang MayaintheMoment, too.

Hubba hubba.

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