12.31.2012

2013 Dole Rose Parade Float: "Dreaming of Paradise"

I've lived in So Cal my entire life and one thing is a constant: New Year's Rose Parade in Pasadena. My Dad used to live a block away from Colorado Boulevard, right in the middle of the parade route. Once I was old enough to be out on the streets past midnight, we would hang out at his house on January 31st, taking in all of the sights and sounds. People would set up camp along Colorado Blvd, bundled up warmly, sitting in camping chairs, roasting marshmallows, playing cards, listening to music, sleeping in tents, guaranteeing themselves a prime location to view the parade the following morning.

It was bananas.

I was not prepared for the amount of people that take up the streets in Pasadena on January 31st. But it was one of those missing the forest for the trees scenarios because I was so entranced with the nightlife of New Year's Eve that I never fully appreciated the amazing things happening the next day: the Rose Parade!

I was recently invited by the lovely people at DOLE to come out and check out their amazing float that was in progress at Fiesta Floats. The theme of this year's parade is "Oh, The Places You'll Go". This year, Dole decided to take us to the Rainforest.

Heading out to Irwindale, where most of the Rose Parade floats are constructed.  Why? It's a short drive to Pasadena.

The people at Dole treated us wonderfully--lots of delicious food and samples of my favorite things: Pineapple Juice, Dole Shakers and Banana Dippers. You can find dessert recipes from DOLE here.
My boys in front of the amazing "Dreaming of Paradise" float, inspired by the rainforest.

The entire float is covered in natural items: seeds, herbs, nuts, grains, fresh flowers, dried flowers, bark, etc.

Dole Family Day was gracious enough to have an In-n-Out truck so you know my boys were in Double Double Animal Style-heaven.

In addition to seeds and herbs, throughout the float there are fresh and healthy fruits, including bananas, pineapples, mangoes, papayas, peaches, strawberries and blueberries that were grown by DOLE just for this use on the float. How many other floats can brag about that?

I finally got to meet the lovely Eva Smith from TechFoodLife.com

Raul Rodriquez, the man who designed this amazing float, along with his blue hyacinth macaw, Sebastian. What a gentle soul Mr. Rodriguez was! Very talented, as well.

My husband sort of fell in love with Sebastian. You could say they bonded. 

How cute are they?

It is one thing to see a parade float on TV and quite another to see it in person. The float was huge--55 feet long, 18 feet wide and stands over 26 feet tall, to be exact. What sets Dole's Dreaming of Paradise apart from the other floats in the 2013 Rose Parade lineup? A 26-foot massive volcano which will erupt with smoke, steam and fire shooting 20 feet into the sky. It will also feature a lush tropical rain forest of Latin America with prowling tigers, butterflies, chimpanzees, parrots, and dragonflies. There are also three waterfalls that feature over 1,000 gallons of cascading recycled water as well as a misting system add to the tropical mood. I think that is pretty amazing, don't you?


Image source: Fiesta Parade Floats Twitter


I have a whole new appreciation for the Rose Parade and the artistry of the floats featured in them. Thank you, DOLE, for inviting us to join you for a preview of your Rose Parade float. It was a blast!

Don't miss the 124th Annual Rose Parade tomorrow at 8am PST. DOLE is vying to become the only company to win the Sweepstakes award every year they have entered: three-peat!



Disclaimer: I was invited by DOLE to visit their Family Day festivities. I was not compensated and all opinions are 100% my own.

12.30.2012

Family Life: Their First Dance (Proud Mama Moment)

Love his smile.
My sons often surprise me with their dedication. It's not that I'm surprised they are dedicated--I just wonder where they get it from. I mean, you can't teach dedication.

Two examples.

One, two of my sons work at my uncle's house every week. Noah details all of the cars and Diego is the gardener. They are very conscientious about setting their alarm, waking up and getting dressed, eating a bowl of cereal and walking to work. "Work" is just a couple blocks away and it's only once a week, but they take it very seriously. They are usually up and out the door before I even wipe the cold out of my eyes. But I know when they are leaving because they come into my room, give me a kiss and say goodbye.

They are 13 and 15.  I am blessed beyond belief.

The second example is their dedication to Frontside, their youth group at church. They've been a part of Sandals Church since 2005, almost their entire childhood. They go during the week, they attend special events and they are even a part of the planning and design teams for special events. I'm happy to see them involved and excited. They were really stoked about a Winter Formal dance their special events team had planned a couple of weeks ago.

Mom, do we have to take a date?
Mom, do we have to get dressed up?
Mom, can you teach us how to slow dance?
Mom, we're not your life-size Ken dolls!

These were the questions (and statements) floating around our home for a few weeks. On the day of the dance, there was a lot of nervous energy and I could've swore I had a houseful of teenage girls, the amount of drama they created simply getting dressed. Still, they were so cute and handsome. They were all like carbon copies of their father in various ways--the way they walked around in their white undershirts and trouser socks, looking for belts, suspenders, ties, etc.

My curly-headed boy.

Aww, a boy after my own heart with those boots!
It ain't easy being cheesy.

At this point, they were over picture-taking time.

We were going for a Bruno Mars look.

Handsome gents. Thanks to BoifromIpanema for all the fashions.

This was the end of the dance, sharing war stories about asking girls to dance and getting shot down.

Check out this cool video from our church and you'll see my sons in a few candid shots. Totes made me tear up when I saw it, too.



They have made so many great relationships there. It feels great to see them be a part of something amazing. I'm a proud mama.

12.16.2012

Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Comfort Pack Giveaway

We have a winner! Yay!

Congratulations to Casey Ortega for being the winner of an Abuelita Comfort Pack! Deets will be sent to you via email and you'll receive your package soon. Enjoy!

A big hug and thank you to all who entered.
===============================================


The old saying, good things come to those who wait certainly applies to a delicious cup of Mexican hot chocolate. Growing up, I remember the excitement when I realized my Nana was about to make us a warm, steaming cup of Abuelita (yes, we were on a first name basis with her). I am so not a morning person, so waking up early for school was brutal enough. But the promise of hot chocolate was enough to keep me cooperative all morning long. I'd patiently wait until I saw Nana unearth that fat, round cake of chocolatey, cinnamon-y goodness from a box of Abuelita chocolate. She'd simmer that cake until it melted into the milk and mmmmm, the smell was heavenly. On those mornings, we'd drink like Aztec royalty.

Aren't childhood memories so powerful? The smell of Mexican hot chocolate is a good thing. One of the most vibrant memories of enjoying Abuelita hot chocolate is at Christmas time. While we sang Silent Night and listened to my Nana read to us about that special night in Bethlehem, I could smell the hot chocolate simmering on the stove. Sometimes we had tamalespan dulce and other times, buñuelos. And of course, after a late night snack and drinking our hot chocolate came...the presents!

I'm really liking the Abuelita Instant hot chocolate and Abuelita Granulado because I can't always stand over the stove like my Nana. I'm terrible at making sure my simmering milk doesn't scorch in the pan because I'm constantly running around multi-tasking. Thankfully, all the chil'rens have to do is boil some water in the teapot and they can make their own mug of yumminess. No scorching, no overflowing, no having to make a big pot because I have to use the entire cake of chocolate. That's what I like best about it. No waste. Not that it's a problem for us. We usually drink every drop--but that's how it is in a large family!

Want to know how I use Abuelita Granulado? I add a spoonful or two in my coffee. It gives it that yummy Abuelita flavor and sweetens it for you too. All you have to do is add some creamer and you are golden.

His and hers: I always make my husband a cup if I make myself one--no questions asked.

Want to treat yourself to a yummy cup of Abuelita Instant Hot Chocolate? Or maybe you want to give my coffee tip with Abuelita Granulado a try. Well, my friends, Abuelita is going to majorly hook you up this holiday season.

Want to win a Comfort Pack?

The Comfort Pack comes with two mugs, a spoon, cozy red scarf, a box of Abuelita Instant Hot Chocolate and Abuelita Granulado.

How to win: Leave me a comment about your favorite childhood treat during the holidays. That's it! The giveaway will end on Thursday, December 20th. Winners will be chosen by Random.org and will be notified by email.

Yay! Now, come on, enter!

A mug of Abuelita feels just like a warm hug. Visit Abuelita on Facebook and click on the "Abrazo" (hug) tab and send digital abrazos to your family and friends.




Disclosure: I received product samples from Nestlé to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

12.14.2012

Net10 Wireless:Teenagers need phones, too #Net10Latino

I've been waiting for this day. I've been putting it off with a casual, "Oh, you don't need a cell phone." or a "You are homeschooled, what do you need a phone for?" and "What are you going to do, call me from the backyard?"

These are the answers I give my two teenagers whenever they ask me if they can have a cell phone. As you can imagine, it is usually met with eye rolling and gnashing of teeth. This doesn't stop them from asking me, oooh, about a hundred times. But the cost...ugh.

With Boy Scouts, church, guitar lessons, and charter school once a week, they have a legitimate need for a cell phone--I've held out long enough. Okay, I thought. Let's see how we can afford to do this.

This is where Net10 Wireless Family Talk Plan comes into play.



Net10 is a prepaid wireless service offering unlimited, long distance and roaming calls. Net10 Family plans include unlimited data, text, talk, starting at $50 for first line, $40 each additional line. This sounds perf for my 13 and 15 year old sons. It's also a good way to control usage and spending from the whole family.


It's quite a relief for me, knowing I can get a hold of my boys whenever I need to. Contemplating buying a brand new phone and adding them to my existing plan was already giving me heart palpitations. Some highlights about the Net10 Wireless phones:

  • no contracts to sign
  • no monthly bills
  • no long-term commitments
  • no credit checks
  • no age limit
  • no hidden fees

Once Noah had the phone in his hands, he was happy to know a few of his favorite apps, Facebook, Pandora and Minecraft (to name a few) were available on the LG Optimus Logic phone.


It feels good knowing my teens can communicate with me and their father (and all of their friends). There is nothing sweeter than a text that reads, "I love you, Mom. Thanks for the phone." from your 15 year old sitting in the next room.

For more information, visit Net10 Wireless Latino on Facebook. They also have a site in Spanish. I can't wait to see how these phones help my family communicate with one another.


This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Net10 Wireless. However, all opinions expressed are my own.


12.13.2012

Taming the tongue

Me and Sol.
Motherhood ain't for the weak. That's the truth. I love being a mama but as my children grow older, the incidences of me getting my rear end handed back to me has grown exponentially.

#Ughz.

Take yesterday, for example. We had to travel to L.A for a family funeral. Tension was high--getting us all properly dressed and ready to go before the hour of seven am so we could beat mid-week traffic is a feat unto itself. No matter how much I prepare the night before, chaos always seems to happen. It's usually about electronics.

There are daily squabbles over phones, iPhones, iPods, video games, headphones and computers. Come on, I have six kids and both my husband and I freelance to pay the bills--the kids don't have their own, they have to share

Gasp. Share?

I know, foreign concept, right? This isn't because I have some lofty goal of teaching them about the evils of material items--let's face it, it would be less of a headache for me to just buy them their own. Then I wouldn't have to play referee 24/7. But we can't afford it so this is how it has to be.

As we were preparing to leave and I was in a black sock hell (ravaging through a massive pile of black socks and trying to find a pair), Sol came up to me and snitched on Diego.

"Mom, Diego has your iPod."

Sigh.

"I know. I let him use it. The only reason why you are snitching is because you want it for yourself. Go sit in the van, I'll be right outside." I thought I dismissed him but instead he went back to Diego to launch a verbal assault.

"Moooom! Sol just called me an asshole!" Diego cried out.

I mean, really guys? Right before we have to drive in morning traffic to L.A.? Under the threat of rain? This was the last thing I wanted to deal with but I knew I couldn't sweep it under the rug. Lately, my boys have gotten into the habit of cursing at each other amongst themselves.  This stinks, because obviously my husband and I haven't raised them in an environment where they can speak to each other like that.

But I was pissed. Pissed that they would pull something like this. Pissed that Sol was being a snitch and having a foul mouth. Back in the day, my mom would've just popped me in the mouth and be done with it. I was tempted to do just that. But I obviously needed to have a little more finesse. 

I launched into a tirade about how important our words are. The appropriateness of words. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. How it is just plain wrong to call someone names out of anger. And so on and so forth. Sol sat there red-faced.

"Do I speak to you this way, son? Do I talk to you and your siblings this way?" I demanded.

"No." He said quietly.

"Do your father and I speak to each other this way?" I demanded again, but two seconds passed before I realized this probably wasn't the best question to ask. At least, not if I wanted to hear the truth.

Here's the part where I get my butt handed to me.

"Yes! I've heard you call Dad an asshole before, Mom!" Solomon said. "In the garage, when you were arguing."

Jaw drop. Like, it literally dropped. I looked around the room and I had no words to say. 

None.

I took a deep breath and...apologized. I mean, what else could I do? I was genuinely sorry that I had spoken to my husband this way, the man I'm called to love and respect. I was even more sorry that I spoke to him and the chil'rens heard it. We hugged it out and I looked into Solomon's eyes and told him I wouldn't talk to his father that way again...and that he shouldn't talk like that to his brothers either.

To me, cursing at people you love when you're angry is a bad habit. One you don't want to start because the love and respect declines at a rapid pace. And Michael and I have really tried to maintain that respect over the years. But sometimes we slip and...well, it's usually me. 


This is a glimpse of my real life. Real life is hard. But I think it's the real part that most people have challenges with.

12.12.2012

Blessed Among Women

A recent ornament project based off of artwork I created several years ago.

Today is the day Catholics celebrate la Virgen de Guadalupe. On December 12th, thousands of people converge on Mexico City to make the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe. Feast Day. It's a very important date on the Mexican calendar.

No, I may not be Catholic, nor do I worship or pray to her.  Still, she's always held a special place in my heart. To me, she's a cultural icon. When I lived in East L.A, it wasn't uncommon to see lit shrines and nichos built onto people's homes and yards. I grew to love the imagery. I suppose this is why I can incorporate La Virgen into my art and not have any awkward religious overtones. 

All I know is, the Bible says Mary was blessed among women.

That's all the information I need.

12.11.2012

Ornament Garland inspired by Lowe's Creative Ideas

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to visit Miami, Florida to experience the launch of Lowe's Ideas Creativas Facebook page en Espanol. I got to meet several other amazing Latina blogueras, as well as Evette Rios, who is affectionately known as the Latina Martha Stewart. We were in such good hands and we had an amazing time working on holiday crafts, munching on Cuban goodies and competing in a whirlwind holiday challenge, where we had one hour and $100 to come up with a holiday craft from anything in the store. It was a such a fun trip and although I've never been that far away from my family before, I came back with a head filled with crafty ideas.

I spy my blogging amigas (clockwise): Kathy the Crafty Chica, Cristy from Los Tweens, Ruby from Growing up Blackxican, yours truly, Yolanda from Sassymamainla and Leanette from Teach Me 2 Save

There are tons of ideas to inspire your holiday decorating on the Lowe's Ideas Creativas Facebook page. Go check it out! I don't speak Spanish, but I have to say that crafting, home improvement and the do-it-yourself attitude is a universal language.

I'm home now and my Christmas decorations are finally up and I have to say, I'm quite satisfied with myself. My home feels cozy and the lights are twinkling. I just had one teesy-weensy problema. It seems that every year I go a little crazy with the after Christmas sales.

50% off! 70% off! 80% off!

Deals like that are a little too hard for a bargain shopper to pass up. When I crack open my Christmas bins, I'm always a little shocked at all the stuff I bought the year before and forgot about.

Sound familiar?

This year, I found oodles of ornaments--enough to decorate at least two more trees. Like seriously, what am I going to do with all of these ornaments, I asked myself. It took me a few days to come up with an idea to utilize all of those leftover bulbs before I either donated them to Goodwill or gave them away. I knew just what to do with them, thanks to Lowe's.

You'll only need two things for this DIY holiday project. Yup, that's it! First, I went out and bought some jute twine. Can I express how much I love my jute twine? You can hang photos, wrap presents, finish off a shabby chic decoration--it's so versatile. My jute twine completes me, ya'll. 

Next, gather up your ornaments. Vary the size, colors, shapes and finishes because it looks better that way.

You can find the jute twine at Lowe's, too.

First thing, I measured the window I planned to hang it on, making sure I had enough room on either end to tie a loop so I could hang it around the curtain rod. Then I got down to threading the bulbs onto the jute. If the end of your jute twine becomes frayed like mine did,  just wrap a small piece of tape on the end of your jute, to create a makeshift shoelace tip. It'll be much easier to slide your ornaments onto the string after that.

There is no rhyme or reason to stringing the bulbs, just vary your colors and shapes. Prepare to be dusted in a fine glitter from the ornaments. You might experience an ornament casualty or two when they accidentally fall to the ground, like mine did. Whether you pile on the ornaments or you give them some breathing room, it's totally up to you. Whatever looks good!

When you're all done, it should look something like this.

Yes, I have sugar skulls on my Christmas tree.

If I didn't think my kids would smash it to bits, I'd put one over my front door.
One of my favorite ornaments from allen + roth, gifted to me by Lowe's.
Make sure you go and Like Lowe's Ideas Creativas Facebook page. Get to decorating, friends!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. However, I did receive travel and lodging for this trip, but the ideas and sentiments are completely my own.

12.05.2012

DIY Frida Christmas Ornaments #Mexi-Christmas


Anytime of the year is a good time for Frida, in my very humble opinion. Valentine's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween, Groundhog Day--you name it, and I can incorporate my muse. What can I say, I'm #obsessed.

Now, of course you can have vintage ornaments or a collection of snow men hanging from your tree. That's nice. But wouldn't it be bad ass to have a few of your favorite Frida Kahlo portraits, too? Surely, I can't be the only one doing a Napoleon Dynamite right now.

Yesssssssss.

This DIY ornament project is so easy, guys. There are so many ways you can make your own handmade ornaments. Let me show you how.

What you'll need:



I made color copies of the Frida portraits I liked. I also made a few Loteria card ornaments and I used actual Loteria cards. They are quite a bit thicker and take a little more effort to muscle on the ornament, but the color is amazing. Once again, I used Collage Pauge Sparkle. I can't get enough of that stuff! Be sure to buy the ornaments that are flat...I'm sure the round ornaments would work fine but I think alot of the detail of your artwork would get lost, since you are actually looking through the glass.

Step 1: Place your image on the ornament with Collage Pauge.
Brush a coat of Collage Pauge on the front of your color copy. Think of it as glue with a touch of sparkle wonderfulness. Now press your image down (face first) on the ornament. Smooth it with your fingers and try to eliminate any air bubbles. I've found the best way to do this is to let the medium sit for a few seconds and get tacky. Now brush another coat of Collage Pauge. Let it dry.

Doesn't she already look beautiful?
Now flip your ornament over. You should be looking at Frida through the glass, like the photo above.

Step 2: Decorating your ornament with glitter.

Now you can start making your ornament look fancy by using glitter, flat crystals, ribbon, jute--whatever crumbles your cookie. I tried a few ornaments with loose glitter and it was making me lose my mind (I hope Kathy will still be friends with me!), but this is where Stickles Glitter Glue stepped in and rescued me from a loose glitter-induced hell. The glitter glue tip gives you perfect control.

Maybe that's my problem--I want to be in control all the time. I can't lose myself with abandon in loose glitter. They look beautiful in tubes but in real life, it's just too messy. I'm always afraid it will get in my eye. What does it mean? What does it mean?

See, art really does double as therapy. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Golden polka-dots are my jam.
Let the glitter glue completely dry. Go and make yourself a sandwich (I like turkey and swiss--avocado, if you have any). Take a nap. Go scrub the toilets. In other words, make yourself busy because it's going to take a while for the glitter glue to dry.

Step 3: Add tissue paper as your background color.
I went with tissue paper for this project because paint can easily scrape off craft glass. Tissue paper is cheap, it dries very sheer, it comes in many colors and when paired with glitter, it takes on this pretty, sari-type effect. Very lovely.

I eyeballed the size and cut out a circle in the tissue paper. Trim it down and find the size that best suits your design. Brush a few strokes of Collage Pauge and place your tissue paper on top of the Frida image. The tissue paper won't take a lot of abuse so work quickly. Brush another coat on top of the ornament to seal it. Let dry.

And now, you have this magnificent little beauty. Ornaments as delicate and beautiful as Diego's little paloma.



Of course, you can pretty much put any artwork on these you want. They are yours, after all, and this is a free country. As for me, I totally fell in love with this project and I kinda got carried away with Frida, which tends to happen,  so I made a few more.

Love.
You can find the rest of these little beauties at my Pearmama shop on Etsy.

This will kick off the season of #Mexi-Christmas crafting--can't wait to see what the holidays will inspire! xoxo

12.04.2012

Just Dance 4: Shake your groove thing #JD4Gold


_________________

I am a huge fan of all the Just Dance games. Like every mom I know, I struggle with the amount of time my kids spend playing video games. The rule of thumb is, mama is not very fond of shooting/war/killing/blowing up/destructive games. Yes, even if they are animals, aliens or zombies. My boys have tried to get through that loophole on occasion. Basically, if they spill blood--even green alien blood--they know mom isn't on board.

But I totes love the games where they are up and moving--jumping, running in place--even busting out their best Britney Spears and Michael Jackson moves. Mom is all about those types of games. We've really turned it into a competition, too. With all the time we spend with family, we love to get the party started by having dance battles.



The chil'rens, of course, are horrified that "old people" like myself are still willing to get up and shake their groove thang. I mean, really, kids? Where exactly do you think you inherited the ability to shake your groove thing? It's all right here, boo.

Thankyouverymuch.

So it is perfect timing that Just Dance 4 is today's Amazon.com Gold Box Deal of the Day. Think about all the epic dance battles you can have, like the one in this trailer:



I can see it now, me getting my JLo and Pitbull on with "On the Floor". My boys will dig anything by Skrillex and I know my girls will swoon over Selena Gomez and "I Love You Like a Love Song". You can even get Rick Roll'd with Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" because who doesn't fondly remember the red-headed spam kiss of death?

Get yours today:  Click here for Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day.

Yesssss.

I'm seriously looking forward to this game. Kids, mount up. Parents, get your sweatband, yoga pants and oxygen tanks ready.

Let the dance battle commence.





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