Tag Archives: lifestyle

Dick’s Sporting Goods comes to Houston + Giveaway #HelloHouston

Dick’s Sporting Goods comes to Houston + Giveaway #HelloHouston

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Dick’s Sporting Goods. All opinions are my own.

The great outdoors. In a way it feels like my story actually started there. Whether it was the hot and humid countryside of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas or the equally hot days in Mexico, only with chilly nights every single evening in the rancho where my parents were born, the truth is being in nature just makes me feel at peace. My nephew actually asked me this question over the weekend: “are you a country boy or a city boy?”

I paused for a moment, gave it some thought, and then responded: “you know, I have to say I’m more of a country boy.”

And while it may be true that by this stage of my life I’ve probably spent equal amounts of time in both the city and the country. What I can’t deny, is that wide open spaces, fresh air, and the sound of silence when you’re in the middle of a serro somewhere just makes me smile. Although, truth be told I have grown quite accustomed to my creature comforts of living in the middle of downtown Houston for most of my adult life. I haven’t honestly been camping in more than a decade.

I have, however, been to Mexico a couple of times in the last decade.

That’s part of the reason I was kind of excited to accept the invitation to be a welcome ambassador for Dick’s Sporting Goods stores on their arrival to Houston this year. The chain just recently opened a bunch of stores in and around the Houston area, and if you know anything about Dick’s Sporting Goods, you know they carry tons of merchandise perfect for most adventures in the great outdoors.

Dick’s Sporting Goods comes to Houston + Giveaway #HelloHouston

We did attend one of the official grand openings at Deerbrook Mall and were kind of blown away by all of the excitement. The fact that we got to meet and shake hands with World Series champ Lance Berkman was just the tip of the ice berg when it came to all of the day’s festivities. There were live endurance activities, an actual mobile container with live fish inside in the middle of the parking lot outside, and lines of people everywhere. Some were shopping. Others were taking pictures. And everyone was having a great time just getting their first glimpse at what Dick’s Sporting Goods has to offer.

Dick’s Sporting Goods comes to Houston + Giveaway #HelloHouston


In fact, if you want to do a little shopping of your own at Dick’s Sporting Goods, we’re giving away two (2) $50 gift cards on this here little blog post. Just leave us a comment by no later than Sunday, November 6, 2016, and we will pick a winner after the election next week.

Dick’s Sporting Goods comes to Houston + Giveaway #HelloHouston

Good luck and happy shopping friends!

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!

Ghost stories for Halloween

Yes, I know it sounds crazy. Like really crazy if you don’t believe in ghosts, but this did actually happen to me… and the rest of my family. It was in Mexico back when I was only a kid. I must have been like 10 or 11. 

We were walking over to my grandmother’s house, which was literally about half a mile from my parent’s home in the rancho. We didn’t have electricity in those days so picture it pitch black, except for the flashlights we were holding to light the way. 

All of the sudden when we got to the lagoon in between our home and hers, there it was. A floating white body that had no legs, arms or face. When we moved, it moved. Literally across one side of the lagoon to the other. There was a small hill that curved along the body of water and on top of that hill is where the ghost was floating! 

As you can imagine, we were all scared beyond words. Nobody said anything at all. We each clung to the person walking immediately next to us and tried to walk as calmly as possible. Only when we had made it past the gate and into my grandmother’s property did we begin to talk about what had just happened. To our discomfort every single one of us had seen the exact same thing. 

That, of course, led to even more ghost stories from our cousins and aunts. As we sat around in the dark with only a fire lighting the night, they seemed to really get a kick out of telling us stories about all of the ghosts they and everyone else they knew had ever seen. I still get goosebumps thinking about it! 

On the way back, wouldn’t you believe it, the same thing happened again. The same floating body appeared and moved along the side of the lagoon with us. Once it made it across it just seemed to disappear. That night is forever engraved in our memories. We can’t ever talk about it without feeling a little uncomfortable even if we are laughing at how crazy the experience was. We also like to laugh about how we were all rendered speechless both times, and how now when people ask us if we believe in ghosts we can’t help but to say yes. 

Yes, because we’ve actually seen one with our own eyes! 

Have you ever seen a ghost? 

Ghost stories for Halloween

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

Visiting Time Square in New York City

What are the odds of randomly running into someone you know at Times Square? Well the truth is I’m not completely sure, but that’s exactly what happened to me recently on my trip to New York City. It had been a few years since I had last visited the Big Apple, and this time I decided I wanted to do a bit more exploring. You know, it just never seems like there’s enough time explore the entire city.

My first stop, of course, was Times Square. It really is the perfect place to just walk around and watch other people, no matter what time of day or night.

This time I had no plan. I walked about half an hour from my hotel to Times Square, and once there I was really just ready to take it all in. I was actually broadcasting live on Facebook when someone walked up and asked me, “are you Juan Alanis?”

Les confieso that at first I was a little shocked to hear my name, but once we got to talking I was really quite happy to run into a familiar face. As it turned out, this person had actually lived in New York City before, and that meant this person knew a lot of the best places to eat. After we wandered around for a bit we ended up at a nice little French restaurant that was pretty delicious. It ended up being the perfect little spot for my trek to Times Square that night.

So while we walked around, here are some of the images I was able to capture as well. I hope they give you a little bit of the excitement of visiting Times Square that they gave me!

Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City
Visiting Time Square in New York City

What does it mean to be Mexican in the U.S.?

What does it mean to be Mexican in the U.S.?
South of the Border by klonoaxero

Honestly, that’s an important question we should be asking ourselves. I say that not only because of the rhetoric around the Mexican experience that has been so prevalent this election season, although that’s part of the reason we should be talking about this. The main reason, for me, that attempting to define (or not) the Mexican experience in the United States is that I truly believe we are completely misunderstood and often times underestimated.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across other mexicanos and mexicanas from all walks of life who have told me they feel the exact same way about those last two statements.

Now in order to explain why, let me first explain how I began arriving at this conclusion myself.

It happened a couple of years ago for me. I was sitting in a room full of Latinos from all over the country, from a variety of different nationalities, where Mexicans just happened to be the minority. It was a sit down luncheon with a handful of speakers taking their turn addressing the crowd. Some of them were pretty interesting; some of them were just okay.

Then it happened.

I believe the exact reference used about Latinos (but it felt like it was addressed more towards the minority in the room – us mexicanos if you’ll recall) had something to do with “crabs in a bucket.” Now the reference itself was just part of a larger conversation, but I distinctly remember several of us Latinos of Mexican descent in the room shooting pretty glaring looks at one another. It was more than a little uncomfortable. It was actually kind of offensive we agreed afterwards.

I chalked it up to my being oversensitive to that particular reference in the moment.

Yet these types of things kept happening around me on a more regular basis. Someone would say something about how Mexicans were not as sophisticated or affluent as other Latinos. “You have to speak to Mexicans in Spanish,” another would say. When it came to writing in Spanish and it just so happened that Mexican Spanish was the most logical for a U.S. audience, sly remarks would be swung. It all just started getting pretty annoying.

Then it became more about how adapted, acculturated, or integrated Mexicans were not.

By all accounts it sounded like we were all a bunch of ignorant, stubborn, non-conforming individuals who refused to learn the language or live by the “norm” in this country. Yet that wasn’t the reality around me on a daily basis. The Mexicans that I know come from all walks of life. Some affluent. Some not. Some acculturated. Some not so much. Some English-dominamnt. Others Spanish- or Spanglish-dominant. Some with a four year degree or higher. Others with a high school diploma or less. Yet, every single person of Mexican descent that I know is just a person like any other.

It’s not a matter of what we aren’t. It’s a matter of who we are and how just like any other group of people we can’t be easily defined or categorized into one single subsegment, statistic, or demographic.

As Mexicans, we are a community of people with a rich and beautiful culture. What we are not is a stereotype.

I think that’s the most important thing. That we worry less about defining who we are or who others are for that matter, and that we focus more on just accepting the fact that we are all individuals trying to do our best to live our lives the best way we know how. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Mexicanos or not.

A touch of Mexican pride in everyday fashion – #SoWorthIt

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with JCPenney. All opinions are our own.

A touch of Mexican pride in everyday fashion - #SoWorthIt

Fashion, for me, has always been about self expression. From a very young age I can remember knowing that my sense of style was a little different from the norm. Where other young girls, and later teenagers, seemed to always be into the latest fashion trends, I always preferred the bigger, bolder, more colorful options I would come across in say places like the local thrift stores. My mother would call these segunda shops our version of the big box department stores.

It was what we could afford then, and over time those moments at second-hand stores really taught me a lot about appreciating the value of a great deal.

As I got older, what I chose to wear and how I chose to wear it became more about showing my personality, and about choosing items of clothing that were flattering on my figure, of course. My love of gaudy and grande never ceased, however.

I still love playing dress up with my hair and make up and wearing things that others might think twice about ever even purchasing.

It’s fun and it makes me feel good. That’s really how I make a lot of my fashion choices these days.

For me, feeling great is more important than being on trend ALWAYS! One of those things that makes me feel extra proud is my Mexican heritage. I adore all of the beautiful varieties of traditional dress across Mexico, and always make an effort to incorporate a little bit of that beauty into my wardrobe. This is especially true when I’m going to a nice event like a gala or a cocktail party. I don’t necessarily want to wear a traditional San Luis Potosi garment all the time, but every once in a while a nice accent piece makes me feel very connected to my roots.

For this Hispanic Heritage Month collaboration with JCPenney, I wanted to highlight a few beautiful Mexican pieces I’ve been holding on to in my collection for a little while. You know which ones I’m talking about. Those pieces that can turn heads and spark up great conversations about clothing and shopping. I love talking about both of those things as often as possible! Anyone who knows me, knows that much.

I also wanted to share how I like to mix and match new and not-so-new, modern and traditional, colors, and even accessories.

My top is actually a ballet folklorico blouse that I purchased a few years ago for a photo shoot. I love the details of it and wear it every couple of weeks or months.

A touch of Mexican pride in everyday fashion - #SoWorthIt

The pencil skirt I’m wearing was purchased at JCPenney. It’s by I Jeans By Buffalo. Juan always remembers I was wearing a pencil skirt on one of our first dates.

A touch of Mexican pride in everyday fashion - #SoWorthIt

The beautiful necklace is handmade and from Mexico. A couple of years ago during Hispanic Heritage Month I purchased it at a maker’s fair here in town. It is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry that I own.

A touch of Mexican pride in everyday fashion - #SoWorthIt

My earrings by Decree were also purchased at JCPenney. I love big gold earrings, so these immediately caught my attention.

In my own way, this is my celebration of my culture and heritage this #HispanicHeritageMonth.

Do you incorporate a sense of cultural pride in your everyday wardrobe? #SoWorthIt

Entertainment by choice: Sharing the best of both worlds with Comcast FreePassLatino

Entertainment by choice: Sharing the best of both worlds with Comcast FreePassLatino

I’ve had this conversation a few times now with adults my age. Usually we start talking about the way we grew up, what it was like living in homes where we had only one television set, and where more often than not we’d spend our evenings watching telenovelas with our parents. We didn’t know it then, but in doing so we were building the foundation for what would become our shared cultural knowledge.

Our cultural intelligence, if you will.

Who would have thought then that personalities and television shows like Don Francisco, Cristina, Siempre en Domingo, Lente Loco, Marimar, and so many others would define our generation. Knowing these staples of Latino entertainment meant that we understood something that the mainstream United States culture did not. It meant that this underground culture of entertainment in español was all ours.

Ours to celebrate and enjoy. Ours to mourn in unison when a part of it was taken away or lost.

When Siempre en Domingo finished few of our non-Latino friends even knew anything about the show. When Sofia Vergara became Hollywood’s newest sweetheart few knew that she had been our sexy siren for decades before ever setting foot on the set of Modern Family. And so forth and so on. Ricky Martin, Thalia, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and a bunch of others were never crossover stars to us. They were always stars en español, they just now happened to be dabbling in English music as well.

And who could forget the almost unbelievable uproar about the tragic death of La Reina del Tex-Mex herself, Selena.

That was probably the quintessential moment in U.S.-Latino culture when non-Latinos finally began to get it. When her posthumous tribute edition of People magazine flew off the shelves everyone understood there was something there. A counterculture of sorts that had been growing and developing for years and years prior to her death, and that in that one swift moment in time brought about the significant potential of its participants.

Since then, arguably, the lines between U.S. Latino and U.S. entertainment have pretty much been blurred. On the one hand, we now have so many options for entertainment and ways to enjoy our entertainment that we are no longer restricted to watching only what our parents might be watching in the family room. On the other hand, Latinos are increasingly becoming a huge part of the mainstream U.S. entertainment industry and vice versa for non-Latinos in the U.S. Latino entertainment industry.

I mean El Gordo y La Flaca are just as likely to talk about Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian as they are about Juan Gabriel and Itati Cantoral.

That’s a good thing, I think.

Only when you think about it, our underground culture isn’t just ours anymore. It’s a part of the larger mainstream culture, and that also means that our kids aren’t probably as savvy about the nuances of this underground culture as we once were. Ask them. Do they know who folks like Alejandro Fernandez, Lucero, Angelique Boyer, Laura Bozzo, or Gloria Trevi are? Probably not. But they can spot a Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato from a mile away.

That’s just the reality of changing times.

For us, however, it is important that Edgar has an appreciation for the programs and television shows we grew up watching. We want him to understand that Spanish-language entertainment has just as much to offer as English mainstream content. Undeniably, there are certain things that just don’t translate.

Right now we’re making it a family experience and we’re enjoying Spanish, Spanglish and even English programming with Latino characters together on Comcast’s FreePass Latino. It’s a two-week trial that allows us to enjoy all the culturally relevant movies, documentaries and shows we want. Starting on September 26, in fact, we’ll be able to binge watch shows “Texas Trocas,” “The Riveras,” “Instructions not Included,” and “El Señor de los Cielos” as often as we want until October 9. We’re even considering signing up for the yearlong Spanish language package after the trial period is over.

If you’ve ever watched telenovelas you know you can’t stop watching one once you’re invested. Believe me, we are way beyond invested now.

But I think it’s an investment in much more than just entertainment.

Entertainment by choice: Sharing the best of both worlds with Comcast FreePassLatino

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Comcast. The opinions and text are all mine.