Tag Archives: dia de los muertos

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!

Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead – What is it?

What is Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos? This is a question that’s been lingering in my mind lately, especially given the new popularity of this Mexican holiday.

Today, I’m taking a jab at answering that question, as well as discussing what the future of this tradition in mainstream U.S. culture could mean. If you have thoughts of your own, I would love to hear them.

Please feel free to share them here!

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Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead - What is it?
Catrina by Dennis Hill

The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas

Friendship. It’s one of those things that starts out small and little by little begins to blossom. Anjelica and I are really quite humbled to be able to say Kathy Cano-Murillo, of Crafty Chica fame, is someone we can call a friend. We first met Kathy in real life a couple of years ago in Miami. Although we had been longtime fans of her work since we first discovered her online several years earlier. If you know her work, you know she is an amazing artist and crafter who puts a glittery touch of class on everything she touches. We were immediately hooked on her Mexi-Boho style. What did capture us by surprise, to be quite honest, was her genuine spirit and all around goodhearted nature.

Kathy was so full of positive energy, happiness, and hugs!

I remember we happened to run into her in the hotel and we immediately started chasing her around like a bunch of groupies. She was so sweet and friendly to everyone that by the end of the conference we were attending almost everyone had mentioned to us how generous and gracious she was. After we came back to Texas, she to Phoenix, we maintained our online communication every now and again. Kathy was just as friendly and positive online as she was in person. She’s really been a breath of fresh air for so many people. We especially admire how humble she is even after having achieved some tremendous successes.

When we found out Kathy was bringing part of her family and the #CraftyChicaTour to Texas for the first time, we immediately began planning for her arrival. As usual, the Crafty Chica was happy to oblige to our plans for her night in Houston. Below are a couple of pictures from her stop here in the Space City, but before we get into that, I do really want to encourage you to support her Día de los Muertos product line at a Michaels store near you.

Let’s tell Michaels and other big retailers we want authentic products from Latina and Latino artists all year round, not just during the Day of the Dead season!

The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
Kathy’s daughter Maya, Kathy, and Anjelica at her Michaels store appearance in Houston.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
Kathy has been traveling across Arizona, Nevada, California and Texas meeting her admirers.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
In Houston, people drove from as far away as Galveston – IN TRAFFIC – just to come say hi to Kathy!
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
Some folks trekked by bus to come meet her. If you’re not from Houston, traveling by bus anywhere in the city is a very LONG, arduous and HOT ordeal.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
In usual Crafty Chica style, Kathy always had a smile on her face. Her husband Patrick was also a lot of fun to be around.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
Crafty Chica in front of her Día de los Muertos product line at Michaels.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
Afterwards we met with a bunch of Houston bloggers to dine and chat with Kathy and her family.
The #CraftyChicaTour hits Texas
It was really quite an honor for us to host Kathy, Patrick and Maya during their first trip to Houston!

Day of the Dead Face Painting

There is something about the bright and bold colors for Día de los Muertos that always gets to me this time of year.  Usually, I spend a good chunk of my time visiting and admiring local Day of the Dead installations or altar presentations.  The celebration of life, even after death, is a part of my culture of which I am very proud.

I mean what better way to honor our deceased than by celebrating them in the loudest colors of the color wheel!  I’m a fan, as you can tell.

Every year, I also like to paint my face (and everyone else’s who will let me) in the typical Día de los Muertos “calaveritas” style.  It’s so much fun that this year I went ahead and made this video on how to paint your face like a sugar skull too.  Enjoy!

I’m participating in a Día de los Muertos Blog Hop with Houston Latinas. Check out the other bloggers participating in the blog hop below:

Celebrating el Día de Muertos in the US

So honestly, I’ve never really truly celebrated El Día de los Muertos the way that one should.  Sí ya sé for someone who is so proud of his Mexican culture that’s kind of a shocker… pero la verdad, I don’t know if it was the fact that my parents were too busy struggling to put food on the table, or that they just didn’t celebrate this tradition as I have come to know it now… but we just never had a Day of the Dead alter.

In fact, in wasn’t until later in life (ya de adulto) that I came to know what the significance of offering food to the deceased actually meant.  My earliest memory of this tradition is from Dos Mujeres Un Camino, the telenovela with Erik Estrada, Laura Leon and Bibi Gaytan.  For some reason they had an episode with a bunch of alters and they sort of briefly explained it was a way of celebrating their deceased.

I accepted it and moved on.

Today, we still don’t have an actual alter set up at any of our homes, but I have prayed to an alter in Mexico… at my late grandmother’s home.  I think that made me appreciate this time of year a lot more.  And now the traditions like the ones pictured below are a great reminder of why as mexicanos we always opt to celebrate the good, the bad, and the sad in life, and death.  En este Día de los Muertos también quiero celebrar a los que ya se me fueron, pero que todavía están muy presentes en mi mente.

Angélica Vale explains it better in the video at the end.  And ojo, check out Anjelica’s awesome Day of the Dead makeup.  She did all by herself in front of the mirror, in less than an hour.  Yo me ofreci para ayudarle, but for some reason she said no?

Celebrating Día de los Muertos
Celebrating Día de los Muertos Celebrating Día de los Muertos Celebrating Día de los Muertos Celebrating Día de los Muertos

De Paisano a Paisano: Una Calavera – Day of The Dead

So today my good friend Sue Valencia dedicated a special calavera just for me – in return, she asked for nothing more than a calavera in her honor.  Now if you’re thinking the more traditional painted-white-artistic-rendering-of-a-skull, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m just not artistically talented in that way.  The calavera we’re talking about here is of the other variety: the traditional satirical poems written in Mexico to commemorate the Day of the Dead.  These poems are about the living and more often than not describe how the object of the calavera will die.  Eerie-sounding I know, but these works of the written word are meant to honor and celebrate the living while poking fun, together, at the inevitable: ¡la muerte!  Personally, I’m not that comfortable with the idea of death, and so this humble offering on El Día de los Muertos is more a lighthearted dedicatoria to all who can relate.

I hope you guys enjoy it!

De Paisano a Paisano: Una Calavera         

They say we’re the problema.  Los burros que no entienden.
They kick us out, and we come right back.
They build a fence; we swim around or underneath it…
Unos nos la brincamos.  Otros, we just walk on straight through it.

They say we’re inconvenient.
We say they’re inconsiderate.
They say we’re uneducated.
We say “dame una chanza please!”

Una chanza pa’ demostrarles lo que podemos.
Una chanza pa’ demostrarles que somos luchadores.

We’re not on Main Street or Wall Street.
We’re on streets like Macario García and Cesar Chávez.
Pounding the ground every day, batallando to put food on the table…

Every day!

We’re cooking, cleaning, working outside…
Doing whatever we have to.
Going without, Doing with less.
Making it however we have to.

Un día cuando ya no estemos,
You’re going to look around and miss us.
Los burros that always kept their heads down,
That never said a word.
La burla de todos: El Mentado Sleeping Giant!

Los burros that always said “yes” and never called your bullshit!

Pero ¡ojo!
Los días ya están contados,

And as they say in your americano,
Nothing lasts forever!  

Te lo digo de paisano a paisano.

La Muerte Es Lo Único Seguro Que Tenemos En Esta Vida

Death Is The Only Thing We Have Guaranteed InThis Life

Photo by dianasour

Or as Chente so famously said: lo importante no es llegar primero sino saber llegar, because in life there really aren’t any guarantees.  None whatsoever.  Not even the feelings inside of our hearts are guaranteed to stay the same forever.

De mocoso I wanted nothing more than to be like my big brother.  He sharp and fast, beady eyes, never at ease, climbing trees, running faster than me, tougher than me, cooler than me, the one everyone always wanted to play with.  Me, lanky and awkward, legs and arms not strong enough, eyes round and slow, bewildered at the world around me, not fast enough to keep up with him or my cousins.  Them, playing cowboys and Indians, bank robbers and cops, chasing after one other, roughing each other up, figuring out who could take the hardest punches.  Me, playing with my little brother in the sand, lost in our imaginary world of fantasy and make believe, awing at the tiny worms and snakes found underneath the surface of our dirt roads.  Everywhere dad went, he went, little boots and sombrero running after him – me, much happier at home, listening to my sisters’ singing, my mother’s footsteps in and out of the house, the scent and sound of her cooking, washing clothes, giving me comfort, kneeling outside in our yard just close enough to hear everything going on inside.

Still, I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be the one climbing fruit trucks, throwing cantaloupes down for everyone else to catch, sticking up for my younger brothers, following my father around and actually liking it, confident in my agility, knowing I was every bit the little man my parents said.  But I wasn’t him.

Sixth grade, we were the same.  My book smarts, his street smarts, together, everyday, standing at the corner, riding the Metro to school, our cousins, our friends, playing hooky, five finger discounts at the Galleria, baggy pants, big t-shirts, wino shoes, hair slicked back, gelled down, and we were cool – cooler than we’d ever been before.  With each other at least, not entirely sure about the rico suave part.  That was before he found me soft and nerdy – me, all his friends and the things he wanted to do stupid and pointless.  Sin querer queriendo we grew apart.

High school, one year away from graduating, infatuated.  She was pregnant, not by me, but I didn’t care.  We’d met in Catechism school of all places and I was smitten…even if she wasn’t.  You need a ride to church, home?  Want to stop for a raspa?  You want me to take you to the doctor?  I don’t mind, it’s okay.  I’ll wait.  It’s okay. Nothing would have made me happier than to be correspondido, but a big fat nothing is what she felt for me.  What she always felt for me.  Even the younger brother could see it, though he never told me anything, just looked down and away from me every time I’d beg in front of him.  Baby delivered, still nothing, not even a kiss, just a hug here and there, a smile, tears, maybe of guilt, and many, many thank-yous all the time.  Trips to the zoo just the three of us, nothing; pamper runs to the pharmacy in the middle of the night, nothing; talking to the baby daddy, it was okay, I understood.  Then one day, bam!  Married and too busy for our platonic game of cat and mouse anymore.  Nothing but anger and bitterness left.

Años later, brother and me still little boys at heart, connected by a mixture of street and book smarts, mostly what you’d call the sangre running through our veins calling out.  Me still nerdy, he still brave, little brother still wondering with me, no thirst for love, no anger, no bitterness, gray hairs filling my head, a man of my parents creation and education, sisters, not two, but four, in love with what I’ve been given, not what I would have wanted to have.  Proud, a worrier, never perfect, but happy and trying hard to hold on to what’s in front of me because if there’s one thing we learned in our home of ‘puro sudor, sacrificio  y a duras penas’, above all the tears, heartache and drama, it’s that: la muerte es lo único seguro que tenemos en esta vida.

This one goes out to all the ones coming up behind.  Que nuestros tropiezos les sirvan.