All posts by Anjelica Cazares

Hi there, I'm Anjelica! When I'm not thrift-shopping or crafting, I am also a visual artist. Vintage finds make my heart skip a beat, and blogging here on Juan of Words is my passion. Thanks for stopping by. You can also find me on Twitter or Instagram.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Walmart. All opinions are my own.

The colors. The history. The beauty of Día de los Muertos is really what has captivated our attention when it comes to this Mexican tradition. We’ve mentioned before how Day of the Dead wasn’t always something we celebrated. Growing up, our families did always have their own way of honoring our loved ones who had passed, but it didn’t really involve the full Día de los Muertos experience.

It wasn’t until later on in life that both Juan and I decided Day of the Dead was something we indeed want to observe and celebrate. For us, it’s a celebration of our culture and an expression of the respect and honor we feel for our loved ones. Not only when they are alive, but also when they are no longer with us.

I’ve actually created and submitted a few retablos to local art exhibits for Day of the Dead before.

This year, when we were invited to share our Día de los Muertos experience by General Mills, I knew a retablo would be perfect. In case you’re not familiar, a retablo is basically an alter piece made to pay one’s respect to a specific loved one or loved ones on November 1 and 2 – Day of the Dead. The alters are meant to represent the individual being honored, whether that be through specific items, pictures, or even treats. Anything that you think your loved one would really enjoy!

In this case, my retablo is made almost completely of cereal.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

I used Trix and Lucky Charms purchased at Walmart to decorate the retablo inside and out. Underneath all of that tasty goodness is actually a shoe box I had laying around.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

Once the foundation was built, I focused on adding a lot of little details to my retablo.

You can’t celebrate Day of the Dead without having at least one Catrina.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

Papel picado made a perfect accessory.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

I had some colorful plastic fruit and flowers that ended up looking pretty good on the outside of my alter piece.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

These candles I already had in my Día de los Muertos collection.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

And I couldn’t resist making a couple of balloons with my Lucky Charms.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

This quote by Maya Angelou is one of my favorites.

Día de los Muertos Retablo made with Cereal

This retablo was a lot of fun to make. And guess what? It’s already sparking a lot of conversation around the tradition of Día de los Muertos in our household (including from Edgar).

Mission accomplished!

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

About a month ago I was invited to spend my evening with pretty little cats!

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

I waited on this blog post because I wanted to give a clear update on the future of El Gato Coffee House in Houston. The folks behind this fun coffee shop concept had recently started a KickStarter campaign to raise enough funds to be able to open a permanent location, and guess what? They recently announced that they met their fundraising goal and will soon be opening a permanent El Gato Coffee Shop dedicated to helping more cats get adopted.

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

Now I haven’t convinced Juan about adopting a kitten just yet, but trust me I am working on that.

Thanks to El Gato, though, I will now have a place where I can go to enjoy cats, support cats, and hang out with other cat lovers like me. There’s no question I am the cat lover in this relationship. My partner in crime (Juan) really just prefers to see most cats from afar.

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

When I received the invite for this event I was beyond excited. I had actually known about cat cafes in other places from watching way too many YouTubers living in places like Japan. I’m so happy Houston will be joining the ranks of these fun-loving cities with coffee shops with kittens and cats!

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

In case this is your first time hearing about El Gato Coffee Shop, here’s a little more info about them. El Gato Coffee Shop is Houston’s first and only cat-themed cafe and adoption center. On August 14, its founder Renee Reed held a special pop-up party to celebrate the cat cafe concept. This is the event that I attended.

Thanks to the involvement of the Houston Humane Society, Houston’s newest cat cafe will offer these lovable animals one more place to reside besides animal shelters or the streets.

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

Plus who doesn’t want to enjoy the opportunity to enrich their own life by just increasing their interactions with cats while relaxing and drinking coffee? El Gato Coffee House also serves specialty drinks, teas, ice creams and decadent sweets.

I recommend getting some of their cool merchandise too.

El Gato Coffee House in Houston!

But guys, our efforts to support this fun new concept don’t have to stop at the coffee shop. We can also help by spreading the word and telling everyone that they can now adopt cats at El Gato Coffee Shop too.

One more way you help is by donating to the cause. Do that HERE.

Also, go ahead and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

A tasty snack for back to school: Licuados

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StirImagination #CollectiveBias

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

As a child, going back to school always felt like a new beginning. There were the butterflies a few days before starting the first day of class. The tossing and turning the night before, wondering who my teacher’s would be, which friends would be in my classroom, and so many other little details that used to keep me up at that first night. All that uncertainty was kind of exciting, but it was also pretty darn grueling on my body and mind.

By the time the alarm bell would go off I was pretty much ready to skip the first day all together. As the youngest of five children, I have to confess my mother was quite savvy to this routine by the time I tried pulling the “I don’t feel so good” excuse. Instead, she would beat me to the punch line.

One of her favorite ways to do this was by preparing a little treat for me in the morning. Her favorite then, and mine now, the licuado. If you’re not familiar, a licuado is a smoothie. Only just a little more tasty.

Now that Edgar is at that age where the butterflies really start to kick in, I decided it would be a good idea to bring back my mother’s morning tradition. I’ve updated his licuados just a bit, but they’re still just as delicious. Here’s how I make them:

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

Ingredients

NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® Powder 18.7oz (38 serving
– Milk
– One banana
– Walnuts
– Frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
– Cinnamon

Instructions

– In a blender add a glass of milk
– Add a spoonful or two of NESQUIK
– Peel a banana and add it to the blender as well
– Add the frozen berries and the walnuts
– Blend all the ingredients together in the blender
– Serve in a cup and add a touch of cinnamon on top

Your kids will love it too. I chose to add all of the ingredients together into my licuado, but you can also leave some of the ingredients out and serve them separately. The walnuts and frozen berries, for example, can be great side dishes for this hearty breakfast licuado. It’s a great way to get them ready for school and to make sure they are ready to exercise their full potential in the classroom.

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

For our licuados we like using NESQUIK because it’s tasty and it contains seven essential vitamins and minerals. We’re always at Target buying something, so on a recent trip we also picked up the ingredients to make this homemade smoothie.

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

NESQUIK has no artificial colors and flavors, plus it comes with 45 percent less sugar than the leading chocolate syrup brand. That’s definitely great nourishment for our son.

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

The other fun thing about licuados is that you can pretty much make them whatever you like. If you want more bananas and less cinnamon, just make the switch. If you prefer to add only strawberries, well you get the picture. You can even opt for NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® Powder Strawberry in your recipe if you choose.

This is one back to school tradition our family is proud to keep!

Right now you can also take advantage of some great savings on NESQUIK with Target’s Cartwheel app. From 9/4/2016 to 9/10/2016 look for the Nesquik Powder & Ready-to-Drink Bottles offer to get 15 percent off 18.7oz powder and 10 pack bottles.

A healthy snack for back to school: Licuados

For back to school, a smart and easy new way to shop

This blog post is part of a sponsored collaboration with The Kroger Co. All opinions are my own.

Today is the day. After weeks of summer fun and great family memories made, today, Edgar is officially back in school. He’s starting off a new school year and as exciting as that sounds, I’m pretty happy that his summer with us was just as full of adventure. Now that he’s growing into his own and discovering who he is as a young man I want him to always put his best foot forward.

We talked a lot during the summer – what with the three of us sharing our home and office space for the entire two month break – and what struck me the most about those conversations is how insightful and enjoyable they were. I actually think I’m going to miss him around the house now.

That, or maybe I’m just having my own version of the back to school blues. Better me than him, I guess.

As we began counting down the days for the new school year Juan and I agreed that we wanted to make the most of our last few days together at home as a family. He and Edgar took up walking at the park regularly over the last couple of weeks. We visited way too many parks searching for those pesky little Pokémons Edgar is always after. We visited family and visited familiar places with family. We binged-watched Seinfeld, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, and probably a handful of other shows. And then, this week, we opted for a less stressful way to complete our back to school shopping.

Instead of driving to the store, we shopped online with Kroger’s new ClickList service, and then just drove up to our local Kroger to pick up our supplies (and a few groceries too). It was really easy to use the service and convenient. We never had to get out of the car.

With the extra time in our weekend we decided to go Pokémon hunting again. This time at the new Centennial Gardens in Houston’s Museum District. According to Edgar, the place was “full of Pokémon!” We had a great time just enjoying the gardens and taking a moment to relax in between all the back to school preparations.

We also really appreciated the extra time ClickList allowed us to save by just shopping online. We’ve already downloaded the app and will be using this service again and again.

Now let’s just count on this school year being another great one for Edgar!

Here’s a little video recap of our experience using ClickList for the first time.

More About ClickList

ClickList, which is exclusive to Kroger, allows customers to shop online and pick up their order curbside at a participating store location. A total of 22 locations in the Greater Houston region are expected to operate the new service by the beginning of fall 2016. Through this service, customers have access to purchase 40,000 products from their desktop or mobile device.

For back to school, a smart and easy new way to shop

Leadership for a new generation, Princess Elena of Avalor 

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with DiMe Media and Disney Channel. However, all opinions expressed are my own.


When the music to Elena of Avalor began we knew this would be different. Never before had a show like this been introduced to us with a sound so familiar it felt like home. My nieces who had grown impatient at the wait for the premiere episode of Disney’s new animated show featuring the first Latina princess were immediately drawn in and captivated by the intro music to the show.

It features familiar sounds from instruments they’ve grown up listening to all their lives, a rhythm that unmistakably would be categorized as Latin music. 

I was pretty excited for the premiere myself. I mean growing up I’d realized a long time ago that the princesses that most captured my interest were the ones that had darker hair and darker skin. Even they, however, didn’t seem to fully represent me and those around me. Sure they were inspiring and entertaining, but they weren’t as comfortable and familiar with my culture as I was. I wanted them to be. 

When I first heard about Elena of Avalor her existence immediately meant a lot to me. It meant that even though I hadn’t had the opportunity to grow up watching a Latina princess on the Disney Channel, my nieces and millions of other little girls like them would. It meant that for the first time on this important platform our culture, values and identity would be acknowledged and represented. It meant they wouldn’t have to grow up wishing that at least one of their favorite characters on TV could share a sense of pride and and comfort in their same cultural heritage.   


That’s a powerful message to send young Latina girls and boys everywhere. As powerful as the core values represented by Princess Elena in Elena of Avalor: family, friends, leadership, honesty and compassion. 

Those are the same values we uphold as a family. And we are a pretty large familia to be quite honest. There are nieces, grandchildren, children, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and that’s not even mentioning all the distant relatives outside of our immediate family. We hold each other tight and we believe in helping each other, which at any given moment can mean any number of things.  

Right now, for example, my niece Yasmin is going to college and figuring out what exactly she wants to major in, one of my sisters is busy planning a quinceañera for one of her three daughters, and another one of my sisters is getting ready to enroll her youngest daughter in elementary school for the first time. It’s a lot, but somehow we always manage to figure out how to be there for each other. 


Despite how busy everyone is this summer, for the premiere of Elena of Avalor my entire family made it possible for most of my nieces to be there to watch the premiere with me. We wanted them to understand the significance of this new series! They were entertained and I want to say just as excited as the adults in the room. Even Edgar stuck around for the premiere. 


I wanted him to see it also because I want him to appreciate the strength and limitless possibilities girls and women possess. I wanted him to celebrate the arrival of this new heroine with us. 


That also got me thinking about the qualities that truly make up a great leader. I’m hopeful that through Princess Elena we can start reiterating these qualities to the next generation of of young girls as early as possible. 

5 Qualities of a Great Leader: 

1.Caring: It is important to care for others and show empathy, kindness and concern. We all have bad moments and it is during those moments that a true leader rises to show kindness.

2.Supportive: Encourage others to follow their dreams and desires. Be willing to give support when asked and also to seek support when it is needed. We all need reassurance when we have doubts and fears and it is our job as a family to support our loved ones when they need us. 

3.Honest/Accountable: Otherwise known as ethics, integrity, honor, and moral character. A leader is always willing to take responsibility for her/his actions. 

4.Respectful/Mindful: Not everyone has to agree with us. Not everyone has to think like us. That doesn’t mean that we should value others any less because of our differences. 

5.Confident/Trustworthy: A leader is not afraid to speak up and stand up for what is right. That confidence of self is what makes those around them want to trust them and believe in them. 

As the end credits came to an end, we knew something pretty important had just begun. It’s the beginning of a new generation who will make Princess Elena all their own. We can’t wait to see what great things are inspired by the world of Avalor! 

Watch this new series with us on Fridays at 7:30pm ET/PT or 6:30pm CT on Disney Channel.

Mexican Cucumber Fruit Salad

What could be better for this scorching Texas heat than say a little salad? How about a Mexican cucumber fruit salad for starters! Once you try it you’ll never want to have any other type of salad… at least for a little while.

This salad made with cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, chile powder, and churro chips is pretty addicting.

Seriously. We made the one pictured here on a recent outing to a local park and almost instantly it was gone.

As you might imagine, it’s pretty simple to make as well. You peel the watermelon and the cucumbers and cut them into finger-sized portions. You then add a little salt and the chile powder. Throw in the chips and add lemon liberally to your personal taste. You can also add other treats of your choice like peanuts or even other fruits.

For an extra touch we scooped out the inside of a couple of cucumbers and filled them with peanuts and chips, lined the top with chile powder, and then added the lemon. Everything was delicious!

What’s your favorite summer treat?

Mexican Cucumber Fruit SaladMexican Cucumber Fruit SaladMexican Cucumber Fruit Salad

Houston’s Rail & Ride Scapade

Earlier this month the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as METRO Houston, or better yet, as our city’s primary mode of public transportation, held their first Rail & Ride (Scapade) in Downtown Houston. We were invited to attend and got to learn a lot more about our city’s growing multimodal transportation options. It was pretty fun!

We started our day at METRO Houston’s downtown headquarters off of Main Street. We then made our way outside to check out bicycles for the first stretch of our journey from Houston B-Cycle. Everyone then boarded the METRO Rail with their bikes and we were off to the Houston Bike Museum. This is such a cool space and they have such a great collection of bicycles from the past.

Because of the scorching heat we didn’t ride the bicycles the entire time, but almost everyone else did and they had a blast.

After our stop at the Houston Bike Museum a group of METRO Houston representatives met us at a local library to talk more about current and future plans for METRO.

As you can tell from our pictures and the video below, aside from the heat, the weather was pretty pristine and it was in fact a great day for a Rail & Ride (Scapade)!

If you’re interested in participating in a future scapade like this one contact METRO Houston. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you!

Houston's Rail & Ride Scapade

Houston's Rail & Ride Scapade

Women: Building Inspiration & Planning for the Future

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Prudential and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

None of us really know what tomorrow will bring. No matter how much we might plan and make decisions about what our lives will be in the future, the only thing that we can be certain of is that life is unpredictable. For most of us, that uncertainty is pretty scary. I’ll include myself in this bunch because not knowing and really accepting that is something I struggle with a lot. This month, however, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural #WomenInspired Prudential event here in my city and it was really a motivating experience. I was able to hear from so many other women who share many of my same concerns.

Women: Building Inspiration & Planning for the Future

For some, the talk about finances and planning for the future revolved around family, for others it was about parenting, but the underlying theme for everyone was fear of the unknown. And I think that’s what really resonated with me the most. How fearful we are about discussing our financial situation or plans openly. Just doing that and honestly sharing our true feelings at the #WomenInspired event was so emotional. It was an eye-opening experience too, because while we may not be able to plan the future, we should be able to plan for our futures. That’s where Prudential stepping in to host these events around the country can really make a difference.

The more we talk about it the more confident we can become in our decisions for the future, knowing that being a little afraid is perfectly okay too.

So let’s really talk about finances. Before we get started, though, let me just say I am not a financial expert, or even the assistant to a financial expert. I am a woman who wants the best for her family and who tries to make the best decisions for our tomorrow.

A few weeks ago we were in Las Vegas for a conference. I slipped into one of the sessions at that event which was about money management. When the session was over I walked out realizing I knew very little about anything beyond my personal finances. There is just so much we don’t know about. A lot of times it is because we are afraid to ask questions, because we don’t think we can invest, or because we are okay with simply putting a little money aside for our savings. We don’t realize that there are so many other financial options out there besides only a checking account or a savings account.

Women: Building Inspiration & Planning for the Future

That’s also where we can make a decision to better inform our own kids on how to spend, save, and invest money. Raising money-smart kids might just mean they will be able to make much more sound decisions about their own futures. Teaching them the difference between spending on what we want right now vs. saving for the future could be very impactful. It’s something we don’t often think about, but it’s very important to setting them up for success. Imagine how much more savings they will be able to accumulate if they buy into their workplace-based retirement plans earlier rather than later.

The reality is we are living much longer than we ever thought possible and we should be able to not worry as much about our finances when we are retired.

One of the other concerns for many families is being able to pay for their children’s college. The best advice I’ve heard is to try to figure out the best ways to end up with the least amount of debt before you send off your kids to college. And don’t forget that there are also tons of resources out there to help your child pay for their college education.

FAFSA, for example, is a great option:

Women: Building Inspiration & Planning for the Future

I know I need to gain control of my future and ask the questions that may lead to answers I don’t necessarily want to hear. That’s okay. I’m okay talking beyond my fears because I know talking about money now will affect my small family’s future.

Take the frustration out of understanding your own finances too and stay informed about your options.

Women: Building Inspiration & Planning for the Future

Here’s a little bit from our discussion at #WomenInspired.