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Disclosure: This post about Dia de Los Muertos is part of a sponsored campaign with General Mills. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

When someone we love dies, it can be crippling. The hardest part of living after losing someone is surviving without them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an elderly grandparent or a new baby that you never got to meet; it hurts in a primal way that makes you want to crawl inside of yourself and die. Having experienced this pain, I can truly say that I look forward to celebrating Dia de Los Muertos with my family.

I know it sounds macabre, especially if you don’t know what it’s all about. Firstly, it’s not Halloween. That’s the holiday where little kids dress up like monsters and get free candy from their neighbors. Actually, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays but it is nothing like Dia de Los Muertos.

As a Latina, fall season means Dia de Los Muertos is right around the corner. Last year, we watched the movie Book of Life, with our girls, to start the dialogue. It’s a big part of our Mexican heritage. They’d seen sugar skulls but didn’t fully understand what the celebration of Dia los Muertos was about.

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that lasts for 2 days, November 1-November 2.

November 1st is Dia de los Inocentes, honoring children who have died. In preparation of the holiday, the graves are cleaned and those of the children are decorated with white orchids and baby’s breath. November 2nd is Dia de los Muertos, honoring adults, their graves are decorated with bright orange marigolds. On Dia de los Muertos we honor our dead with festivals and celebrations; it’s a marriage of indigenous Aztec ritual and Catholicism. I love this part.

The cemeteries in Mexico that are normally grey and melancholy, like any other cemetery, suddenly are bursting with color and life. You can’t believe the vibrant colors of beautiful sugar skulls and marigolds that fill the cemetery. My father celebrates this every year by going to Mexico and decorating the tombs of my Tio Narciso, my Abuela Bertha and my Abuelito Manuel. I know this is hard for him but it is also cathartic to celebrate their lives, rather than just be sad they are gone.

We believe that our dead loved ones would be insulted by mourning or sadness, so on Dia de los Muertos we celebrate the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities that the dead enjoyed while they were alive. For my Abuelito that would mean leche con pan (he was a simple man with simple tastes), for my Tio Narci that would definitely mean a Big Mac (he loved the United States, especially Big Macs and Ronald Regan) and for my Abuela it would mean as many beautiful marigolds as you could fit at her burial site.
I like that Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with loved ones. It’s a very healthy way to look at death and takes away some of the fear of the unknown.

The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos are the calacas and Calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, on Pan de Muerto, on parade masks and even as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations because it’s a celebration of life.

In addition to celebrations, the dead are honored on Dia de los Muertos with ofrendas—small, personal altars honoring one person. Ofrendas often have flowers, candles, food, drinks, photos, and personal mementos of the person being remembered. For example, if I were to make an altar for my Abuelito Manuel it would include lots of sweets and breads like Pan de Muerto.

Pan de Muerto (Spanish for “bread of the dead”) is a big part of the Dia de los Muertos traditional celebration. Pan de Muerto is sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun and decorated with bone-shaped pieces. The living eat the bread along with our departed loved one’s other favorite foods in their honor. No Dia de los Muertos celebration would be complete without Pan de Muerto.

Bonus: You can save $3.00 when you buy 3 Big G cereals and “Pan de Muerto” bread to celebrate Dia de los muertos.

 

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calavera, beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead

Next weekend is for celebrating at our house; Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos.

My girls are so excited that next week is Halloween. It’s their favorite holiday. It’s the magical time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors and the world has suddenly become a more beautiful place of crimson, caramels and golden yellows and we all get to be anyone or thing we want to be for one day, the only limitation is our imagination. I think I’d like to be a unicorn!

As a Latina, it also means it’s time to start preparing for Dia de Los Muertos. Thanks to the new movie Book of Life, I’ve decided that this is the perfect year to teach my girls about Dia de Los Muertos. It’s part of our Mexican heritage. They’ve seen the sugar skulls but I’ve never explained the celebration because death is such a touchy subject for children. This is the year I tell them all about it so that they can celebrate too.

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that lasts for 2 days, November 1-November 2, November 1st is Dia de los Inocentes, honoring children who have died. In preparation of the holiday, the graves are cleaned and those of the children are decorated with white orchids and baby’s breath. November 2nd is Dia de los Muertos, honoring adults, their graves are decorated with bright orange marigolds. On Dia de los Muertos we honor our dead with festivals and celebrations; it’s a marriage of indigenous Aztec ritual and Catholicism.

We believe that our dead loved ones would be insulted by mourning or sadness, so on Dia de los Muertos we celebrate the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities that they dead enjoyed in their life.

I like that Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with loved ones. It’s a very healthy way to look at death and takes away some of the fear of the unknown.

The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos are the calacas and Calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, as parade masks and even as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.

In addition to celebrations, the dead are honored on Dia de los Muertos with ofrendas—small, personal altars honoring one person. Ofrendas often have flowers, candles, food, drinks, photos, and personal mementos of the person being remembered. For example, if I were to make an alter for my Uncle Ramon it would include lots of sweets and Rompope ( Mexican eggnog) because I remember when we were little he had a sweet tooth and always had candy on him and if he came during the holidays, he always brought Rompope.

Here is a recipe for Dia de los Muertos Cheesecake

international delight, eggnog, cheesecake recipe, sponsored post, dia de los muertos

Crust

 

    • 16 graham crackers, finely ground (2 cups)

 

    • 3 tablespoons sugar

 

    • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

 

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

    • 1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

international delight, eggnog, cheesecake recipe, sponsored post, dia de los muertos

 

Filling

 

    • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature

 

    • 2 large eggs

 

    • 3/4 cup International Delight eggnog

 

    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 

    • 2 tablespoons brandy

 

    • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

 

    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

    • Cinnamon for dusting

 

 

DIRECTIONS

 

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Stir together graham crackers, sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of pan using a fork. Bake until crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
    2. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt; beat until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Set pan on a cookie sheet. Bake just until set, 45 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.
    3. Slice into 8 slices.
    4. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
    5. Lightly dust top with cinnamon just before serving.
    6. Enjoy with those you love.

 

dia de los muertos, international delight, eggnog, cheesecake recipe, sponsored post

 

 

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

For more awesome recipes and ways to use your International Delight creamers, check out their Facebook and Pinterest page.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine. Later this week, I will be posting a tutorial on how to do the day of the dead make-up my brother and I are wearing in the photo above.

What’s your favorite Halloween/ Dia de Los Muertos tradition?

 

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calavera, beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead makeup

Do you celebrate Day of the Dead, also known as, Dia de Los Muertos? Always wanted to dress up but had no idea where to start? Well, I’ve got the perfect and easy Day of the Dead make-up tutorial? Celebrating Day of the Dead will never be easier than with my Dia de los Muertos make-up tutorial.

We celebrate it as one of our culture’s most sacred traditions. One of our favorite things to do besides building our altar to honor our dead is I to dress up as La Calavera Catrina. All the makings of the perfect DIY Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos Costume, was in my closet.

Halloween and Day of the Dead are right around the corner. Every year at this time we start trying to figure out what our Halloween costumes are going to be and what our costumes for the annual Zombie walk might be. Yes, we’re that family. As they say, a family that costumes together stays together.

This year I went Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos, makeup for the zombie walk.

While the Big Guy and our girls are getting their zombie on, I prefer to dress up as la Calavera Catrina, more universally recognized as the Day of the Dead Doll.  Dia de lo Muertos royalty.

READ ALSO: How Disney’s Coco got Mexican Culture Right

I love the vibrant colors and the fact that I get to share my Latino culture with my daughters in such a big, beautiful way. I stick out like a flower among weeds with my make-up compared to all the zombies. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy and it’s perfect for adults and kids.

The hard part is getting the make-up off but with a quick trip to WalMart, I can pick up a package of Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes and removal is easy peasy.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get your very own Day of the Dead look with this Dia De Los Muertos Make-Up Tutorial:

 beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead makeup

  1. First, begin by spreading an even layer of the Clown White make-up all over the entire face, except the eye sockets, with a sponge, and set with powder. It is important to set the color with the powder, because the black lines and color on top may get smudged unless you place a barrier in between.

beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead makeup

2.  Next, sculpt the perimeter of the eye sockets with black liquid eyeliner, it allows you be more precise with your lines. Then intensify the area by blending a matte black shadow in the same hue over the top of the entire eyelid and filling in.

beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead

3.  For detailing, I used a black liquid liner with a precise tip, and drew an upside-down heart on the nose, two rows of scalloping, connected by a circular motion, that surrounded the eyes and the two small circles on either side of my cheekbones. Mark out seven lines in a V-shape on your forehead. I made a jewel in the middle of mine. Connect the lines with curved shapes to create a spider weUse the same liquid liner to draw the two lines on your cheeks and draw a rose on your chin.

READ ALSO: How to Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos

4.  Use a color wheel of your choice to fill in the scalloping around your eyes, your jewel and any other designs on your face that need color. I set the color with more translucent powder, not too much, just enough to keep the color from running.

beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead

5.  Moving on to the lips, I wanted red lips so I used my red lipstick to draw in my lips. Then with the black liquid eyeliner, I drew in the intersecting lines across my lips. I let all lines dry well and then went over with liquid eyeliner again.

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6.  With the liquid liner, add a few dotted details over the face, and a flower on your chin. Touch up individual areas with the color palette of your choice as needed, and after a few coats of mascara.

calavera, beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead

 

After showing off your gorgeous la Calavera Catrina Dia de Los Muertos makeup on day of the dead or Halloween, you can easily remove it using Neutrogena Makeup remover cleansing towelettes. It will effectively dissolve all traces of dirt, oil and, most importantly, makeup, even the waterproof mascara that you used to make your Calavera eyes pop. The cloths are ultra-soft and gentle with superior cleansing technology that is clinically proven to easily remove 99.3% of the most stubborn Halloween makeup. One step and you have clean skin with no residue.

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What are you dressing as this Halloween, Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos?

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calavera,beauty, day of the dead, make up tutorial, dia de los muertos, day of the dead, day of the dead make-up tutorial, dia de los muertos make-up tutorial, Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Day of the Dead,Calavera,How to apply Dia de los Muertos make-up, Book of Life, Day of the Dead costume, Dia de los Inocentes, Latina

Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos are only a few days away.

Last weekend was our city’s annual Fright Night and Zombie walk. My daughters have been wanting to participate for the past 3 years but we’ve felt they were too young to be immersed in the middle of all of those “zombies” so we’ve been watching from the sidelines. This year, we decided would be the year that we all walked “amongst the dead”. They were zombies and I was la Calavera Catrina, recognized as a sugar skull.

Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Day of the Dead,Calavera,How to apply Dia de los Muertos make-up, Book of Life, Day of the Dead costume, Dia de los Inocentes, Latina

My husband and girls dressed as authentic walking dead zombies. My husband was a typical zombie ironically wearing a blood smeared “Be Kind to the Earth” t-shirt with a vintage plaid flannel. I guess he was going for hipster zombie look.

My 9-year-old was a prom queen zombie. Luckily her ballet rehearsal was done in just enough time to get home, change into her “prom” dress and dead face. My littlest one was the cutest dead school girl ever.

My little brother and I chose to go in a different direction. I love the Walking Dead but I just can’t make myself drag my legs and growl at people so my brother dressed as a sugar skull and I dressed as the Grand Dame of Dia De Los Muertos, la Calavera Catrina. The best part? Everything I needed was in my closet.

Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Day of the Dead,Calavera,How to apply Dia de los Muertos make-up, Book of Life, Day of the Dead costume, Dia de los Inocentes, Latina

Here is how to apply the Dia de Los Muertos make-up and pull together a costume that will make heads turn.

I think it turned out awesome!

 

      1. Begin with an even layer of the Ben Nye Clown White make-up all over the entire face, except the eye sockets, with a sponge, and set with powder. You can buy setting powder at the Halloween shop but, honestly, baby powder works just as well. It is important to set the color with the powder, because the black lines and color on top may get smudged unless you place a barrier in between. Seriously, your face will look like it is melting off if you don’t and who wants to go through all that time painstakingly applying make-up only to have it slide right off your face?
      2. Next, I sculpted the perimeter of my eye socket with a black liquid eyeliner, it’s much easier to use than regular black face make-up and it lets you be more precise with your lines. Then intensify the area by blending a matte black shadow in the same hue over the top of the entire eyelid and filling in the drawn socket.
      3. For the detailing, pick up a black liquid liner with a precise tip, and draw an upside-down heart on the nose, the two rows of scalloping, connected by a circular motion, that surrounds the eyes and the two small circles on either side of my cheek bones. Mark out seven lines in a V-shape on your forehead. I made a jewel in the middle of mine, you can too or not, whatever you choose. Connect the lines with curved shapes to create a spider web.
      4. Use the same liquid liner to draw the two lines on your cheeks and draw a rose on your chin.
      5. Use a color wheel of your choice to fill in the scalloping around your eyes, your jewel and any other designs on your face that need color. I set the color with more translucent powder, not too much, just enough to keep the color from running.
      6. Moving on to the lips, I wanted red lips so I used my Red Chanel lipstick to draw in my lips. Then with the black liquid eyeliner, I drew in the intersecting lines across my lips. I let all lines dry well and then went over with liquid eyeliner again.
      7. With the liquid liner, add a few dotted details over the face, and a flower on your chin. Touch up individual areas with the color palette of your choice as needed, and after a few coats of mascara, I used fake-eyelashes to give my eyes a little extra umph.

For the hair, I simply washed my hair and dried it curly. Teased it. Pulled it to a curly, side pony tail and then added two oversized red roses behind my ears, which I held in with bobby pins. You could also opt for a headband with flowers on it.

To finish the look, I shopped my closet. Sometimes being a Latina with a dad who retires to Mexico 8 months a year has its advantages. I wore a long black skirt, a white peasant blouse with red, yellow and green roses from Mexico as my blouse, an ornate, traditional Kelly green velvet apron with gold scalloping and bright gold shawl. It came together perfectly but, honestly, the make-up makes the costume.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Day of the Dead,Calavera,How to apply Dia de los Muertos make-up, Book of Life, Day of the Dead costume, Dia de los Inocentes, Latina

Do you celebrate Dia de Los Muertos?

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Day of the Dead, dia de los muertos, dis de los inocentes, Mexican Holiday, Halloween

Do you celebrate Day of the Dead? It’s a Mexican holiday but I think it’s something everyone who has ever lost someone could benefit from taking part in. It’s hard when you lose someone you love because of the finality of the situation but when you celebrate Day of the Dead, there is a comfort to be had every year. It’s about being soft and being strong at the same time.

First, let me start by telling you what Day of the Dead is really about. I know it follows immediately after the pagan holiday, Halloween, but it is not the same. Not at all. One holiday is celebrated by dressing up and begging for candy from strangers, the other is celebrated by building alters and remembering loved ones who we’ve lost.

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that lasts for 2 days, November 1-November 2.

November 1st is Dia de los Inocentes, honoring children who have died. In preparation of the holiday, the graves are cleaned and those of the children are decorated with white orchids and baby’s breath. November 2nd is Dia de los Muertos, honoring adults, their graves are decorated with bright orange marigolds. On Day of the Dead we honor our dead with festivals and celebrations; it’s a marriage of indigenous Aztec ritual and Catholicism.

We believe that our dead loved ones would be insulted by mourning or sadness, so on Day of the Dead we celebrate the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities that they dead enjoyed in their life.

I like that Day of the Dead recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up. On Day of the Dead, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with loved ones. It’s a very healthy way to look at death and takes away some of the fear of the unknown.

I like to think of it as a way of staying connected to those I love that have passed on. Sure the connection is based on building an altar and spending a day or two celebrating their lives and my life with them but it helps. In the end, it makes me feel not so much like I lost them but like they are still with me, all around me.

I find this particularly comforting on Dia de los Inocentes. I don’t have a headstone to decorate with marigolds or photos to use on an altar but I do take the day to remember the baby I lost. Losing a baby was one of the hardest things I’ve ever survived and Dia de Los Inocentes is very personal for me because it’s not about a spectacle or a grandiose gesture, in my case. It’s about quietly grieving my loss but at the same time being thankful that I had that baby in my life for as long as I did. I celebrate the possibility and the blessing.

In a weird way it gives me closure while at the exact same time it makes me feel connected to my baby and to the world in away that I don’t on most days. For me, Day of the Dead, especially Dia de los Inocentes, is about being strong while being soft.

Who would you celebrate on Day of the Dead?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Georgia Pacific. The opinions and text about Day of the Dead are all mine.

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I’ve been biting my tongue on this whole border/immigration issue but this…this is too much.

I am saddened and embarrassed by what has become of our borders and immigration laws. What happened to
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” ? 

Was it all a bunch of bullshit? Was there a statute of limitations on how long that rang true?

https://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

For the full story please read here

Well,I’ve seen this story in print and on video and any way you slice it, it makes me sick.  First, of all, depending on the source this kid was either 14 or 15, he was small, and he was with a group of other individuals who may or may not have been smugglers or smuglees. The agent may or may not have been male or female. I  guess its all a matter of who is telling it and how they want to spin it.

From gathering the evidence, I’d say it was a kid who was being an asshole with his friends. They started throwing rocks ( not wielding rifles or machetes) at border patrol, very infantile and stupid, but not a crime punishable by death. I love how the video says that the agent was surrounded and then mentions that many border patrol have sustained head wounds from the rock throwing that goes on at the border. How ironic, she could have been hit in the head by a rock but instead he got a bullet through his brain.

I am NOT condoning these kids behavior and I suspect that FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons was scared with rapid fire rocks being hurled at her head while trying to contain a suspect. Who wouldn’t be? I, myself, would have been scared shitless. But if the border wasn’t in such a shitty way these days, things wouldn’t have escalated and this agent wouldn’t have been so mentally on high alert. The whole immigration situation is ridiculous. Who in the hell thinks its punishable by death to try and find a better way of life for yourself and your family?

I understand the whole, do it legally argument. I agree, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. If your children are starving in a third world country you do what you have to to get them out of that situation. This country was founded as a refuge for immigrants;  a safe haven for those in search of a better life. Now, we decide to change the rules?

Now, we decide its OK to shoot some Mother’s child simply for trying to gain entrance? I don’t understand how we can live in  a time in history when it is alright to shoot immigrants HUMAN BEINGS for minor infractions of the law and to kill all the animals in the ocean with an unstoppable oil spill. Who’s running this circus? Are you really telling me with all that we can do and all the technology we have, we can not get along,respect our fellow man, or our planet? I think we all need to take a step back and examine just what kind of people we want to be? What kind of world do we want to be a part of? What legacy do we want to leave on the history books for our children?

Should breaking the immigration laws be punishable by death?

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Latina

by Deborah Cruz
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How Disney Pixar Coco got Mexican Culture Right, Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

Yesterday, we finally saw Disney Pixar’s Coco and, as a Mexican, it exceeded my expectations in every way. Disney got this movie 100% right from the culture, to the people even down to the small details in the geography. Being Mexican isn’t just where your people are descended from it is a way of life, a way of thinking and believing. It is all about our culture and our culture revolves around one primary belief…family is everything.

Without too many spoilers; Coco is the story of a little boy and aspiring musician, Miguel, who in pursuit of his own dream to be a musician goes against what his family wants for him. Through his disobedience on Dia de los Muertos, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead. In order to return, all he needs to the Land of the Living is a blessing from a family member, a magical marigold petal and a promise he’s not sure he can make.

Through an expected spiritual journey of his own, Miguel comes to realize that while pursuing your dreams and being passionate and unrelenting in that pursuit is something that our people believe very deeply in, family always comes first. Sometimes you have to lose that safety net, one most of us have never been without, to realize what is truly important in this life and beyond.

Director, Lee Unkrich, went above and beyond by sending members of the crew to Mexico for research in order to gain an authentic sense of the country’s music and culture and it shows. I also love that he used an all Latino voice cast including, to name a few, Renee Victor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos, Anthony Gonzalez and Ana Ofelia Murguía. It made it feel authentic and not contrived like so many other movies have done. The Spanish language is not merely adding an “o” to every English word and the culture is certainly more than adding heat to everything. I especially loved that in the Land of the Dead some of Mexico’s great icons were included like Frida Kahlo, Cantiflas, Pedro Infante, Jorge Nigrete and Pancho Villa to name just a few.

If you’ve ever wanted to get a real inside feel for what it’s like to be Mexican, to live the culture and to understand what propels us forward, what drives us to live our truth on every level, Coco will lay it all out for you.

I love that it also shows how important music is to our people. It is not just to dance to, though we love a good party, but to pass down the stories of our people, portray the love of our culture and share our deep feelings about life, love and death. The grito, that portrays pure happiness and excitement, was a big part of my childhood coming from a family of musicians and farmers. Farming was the family trade but playing music and singing was the family’s joy, something we’ve always done together.

When I was watching the movie, I was quite emotional because the landscape was the perfect portrayal of my Mexico. The cobblestone streets, the courtyard in the center of the family homes, the iron gate opening to the family’s courtyard, the graveyard, the “chancla”, the musicians in the plaza and the way the people all take care of one another; everyone is family, this is exactly what it was like for me as a child visiting my grandfather and grandmother in my dad’s small village of Etúcuaro, Mexico.

Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

I think there has always been a common misconception to the outside world that our Day of the Dead is an extension of modern-day Halloween, in which the main focus is dressing up but it is nothing like that. Our Day of the Dead is a beautiful day of reverence; a day to pay homage, honor and remember our loved ones who have passed on. For us, they may be gone but they will never be forgotten. It’s a day to feel close to them and share memories of their lives. It’s a day to celebrate not that they are gone but the lives they lived. I think Coco did an amazing job of portraying that.

The film, Coco, itself is a visually stunning Disney film with a beautiful message; the most important message. I think every child and parent of every culture, nationality and race should watch this movie because when you have nothing else, you always have your family because family is everything. They are who will always catch you when you fall, love you when you are unlovable, forgive you when you do the unforgivable, pick you up when you’ve fallen down and never forget you. We live on through their memories forever so be the best you while you’re here because that’s how you will be remembered for eternity.

Coco is a movie that I can and do plan on handing down to my children and my children’s children. My only regret is that I didn’t get to watch it with my dad and he will be returning to Mexico this week. As a Mexican and a musician himself, I know he will fall in love with Coco and its soundtrack as much as I have. The music is haunting and beautiful and pulls at your heartstrings while making your chest swell with emotion. I was transported back to my childhood and left blurry eyed remembering all those who have crossed over the Marigold bridge.

Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

I haven’t been to Mexico in years since my grandfather died. My dad has asked me repeatedly to bring my girls to visit him, to show them the land where he was born; the country that is drenched in passion, soul, and an unending belief that through hard work and big dreams anything is possible but the pain of the loss of those I remember so fondly, no longer being there to greet me with a smile and a hug has been too much to bear.

The thought of not greeting the day with the sight of my grandfather’s back as he quietly eats his breakfast of pan con leche or hearing my tio Narci’s Grito or “Orale” when he’s proud of something we did, even if it was just our first steps has been hard for me but now, I want to go to be among the place where they once lived, where their memories are soaked into the furniture and the walls. Where they are known and remembered.

Coco stirred up all the pride I feel for my culture, its people and brought it all to the top. I’m putting it out to the universe to take my daughters to see the land that made us who we are today and visit the graves of our loved ones who came before us and made those dreams possible.

Last night, Coco took home the Golden Globe for Best Animated Motion Picture. Unkrich thanked his cast and crew during his acceptance speech and made a point of highlighting the vital importance of the culture that inspired the film and it was beautiful.

Coco would not exist without the incredible people of Mexico and their tradition of Día de los Muertos.”

I fell in love with the story of Coco, maybe it was because I’m Mexican, maybe because my dad plays the guitar and has been singing songs to me since I was born, maybe because I saw myself and my family in every scene of this movie. All I know is that I love it.

If you’ve seen it, I would love to discuss the film and its themes with you. What did you like or not like about it? What moved you? What did you not understand? Do you have any questions about the cultural side of it that I can explain better?

What did Coco mean to you?

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Dia del Nino, Nabisco, Recipe for plantain quesadillas, Chips Ahoy, Latino recipes, dessert recipes

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Nabisco and Latina Bloggers Connect in celebration of El Dia Del Nino .

In the Mexican culture, family is everything. We are taught this from very early on, as children. We are taught to respect our elders as part of our history and to adore our children because they are our future. In life’s fickleness, we know that there is only one thing that we can truly count on and that is family.

We’ve all heard of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Grandparent’s day. They are big deals in our house. We earned it. I mean, 10 and 13 hours of labor, one open-wide Pitocin inducement and an unmedicated labor, definitely earned me one-day off a year. I look forward to it every single year. The Big Guy handles all the “mom” duties and nary an argument between children do I have to endure. I simply walk away and let daddy handle it. It is glorious.

On Father’s Day, the same goes for him. He gets to sleep in and I field all bickering children. We’ve got a good system and it truly is the one thing we want more than anything; peace and quiet.

April 30th is a Mexican holiday called El Día Del Niño (children’s day). Children are a very important part of our culture and society so the day focuses on the importance of loving, accepting and appreciating children.

To celebrate, there are many things you can do. Basically, we make it a day about our girls so that they know they are loved (so pretty much like every other day but we do all the things they like to do). It’s more about celebrating having them in our lives. Letting them know they are blessings to our family and us. It’s a day of crafts, play and treats of their choice.

In Mexico, special events with clowns, magicians, music, shows and balloons take place. Amusement parks as well as zoos and children’s museums usually offer discounts or special deals for children on this day. It’s the perfect day to take the kids to see one of their favorite movies in the theater, go on a family picnic in the park or just unplug for the day and give your little ones your full-undivided attention.

This unique celebration is full of laughter and play, when adults are reminded of the importance of childhood and children teach us how joyful and simple life can be.

For our snack this year, I’m making this fun and delicious Latino-Inspired treat Chips Ahoy! Plantain Quesadillas. It’s a sweet new twist on a family standby.

Chips Ahoy! Sweet Plantain Quesadillas.

 

Dia del Nino, Nabisco, Recipe for plantain quesadillas, Chips Ahoy, Latino recipes, dessert recipes

  • 10 min prep
  • 20 min total
  • Makes 8 servings, 1 wedge each.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. brick cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 flour tortillas (8 inch)
  • CHIPS AHOY! Cookies, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 lb. frozen ripe plantains, cooked, cut into 16 slices
  • 1/3 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • 6 strawberries, each cut into 6 slices

Dia del Nino, Nabisco, Recipe for plantain quesadillas, Chips Ahoy, Latino recipes, dessert recipes

Instructions

  • Mix first 3 ingredients until blended; spread onto tortillas to within 1/2 inch of edges.
  • Reserve 2 Tbsp. cookies. Top half of each tortilla with remaining cookies and plantains; fold in half.
  • Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat on medium heat. Cook each quesadilla 1-1/2 min. on each side or until heated through and lightly browned on both sides.
  • Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges. Serve topped with whipped topping, strawberries and reserved chopped cookies.

I’ve made this for my family before and they loved it. It’s a very decadent and rich dessert so we only have it on special occasions and only one serving. I know your family will love it as much as my family did.

You can find other great recipe spins on traditional favorites on the Nabisco Pinterest page. If you’d like to try this recipe, here’s a coupon for $1.00 off your favorite Nabisco products.

What’s your favorite treat to make for your children on special occasions like Dia Del Nino?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nabisco. The opinions and text about El Dia Del Nino are all mine.

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The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Thank you to Disney and ABC for inviting me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip, in exchange for coverage of Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the #ABCTVEVENT event. I was hosted by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent and given a set tour by Caleb Foote of The Kids Are Alright and to meet some of the cast including Michael Cudlitz but all opinions are my own.

Last month in Los Angeles, I got a sneak peek of ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright.”  I have to admit, that this is one of my favorite new shows this season because it reminds me of growing up in my parents’ house in the 70’s and 80’s. There were 8 of us in a small house. There wasn’t a lot of money but there was a lot of love and faith in God, in each other and in family. There were also a lot of shenanigans.

Set in the 1970s, the ensemble comedy “The Kids Are Alright” follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family, the Clearys, as they navigate big and small changes during one of America’s most turbulent decades. In a working-class neighborhood outside Los Angeles, Mike and Peggy raise eight boisterous boys who live out their days with little supervision. The household is turned upside down when oldest son Lawrence returns home and announces that he’s quitting the seminary to go off and “save the world.” Times are changing and this family will never be the same. There are 10 people, three bedrooms, one bathroom and everyone in it for themselves. Honestly, on the set visit, I felt like I was back home at my mom’s house.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

The series stars Michael Cudlitz as Mike Cleary, Mary McCormack as Peggy Cleary, Sam Straley as Lawrence Cleary, Caleb Foote as Eddie Cleary, Sawyer Barth as Frank Cleary, Christopher Paul Richards as Joey Cleary, Jack Gore as Timmy Cleary, Andy Walken as William Cleary, and Santino Barnard as Pat Cleary.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

On the day we visited, we were shown around the set by Caleb Foote, who plays Eddie Cleary. We also had the chance to meet Tim Doyle, creator and executive producer,  whose life the show is about, production designer, Michael Whetstone, set decorator, Claudette Didul, costume designer, Susan Michalek, line producer, Kris Eber  and Michael Cudlitz ( who plays Dad, Mike Cleary) as well as several of the other Cleary family members. It was amazing.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

The Cleary House

The attention to detail is crazy. The Kids Are Alright house is based on a house the producers found in Sherman Oaks.

“Whetstone: This house is based on a house that we found for the pilot back in March and I think it was built in 1932. It was very, very small. It was one of the first ranch houses in Studio City or something. And our director loved it tight. He wanted it to feel crowded. Usually, when you go to stage, you say, “Oh, I’m gonna make it 25% bigger for shooting.” We didn’t really do that.”

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

 

“Foote: In most cases, they would expand the set in the recreation of the studio. But, having the tight-knit family is a big part of our show.”

 

The thing I really loved about the house is that you really got the feel of what it’s like to live during those times in a small house with a big family. As I mentioned before, this is exactly how I grew up with the exception of us being in Chicago, 3 boys and 3 girls and being Latino Catholic versus Irish and the story is pretty much my childhood. I can tell you from experience, a claustrophobic home filled with children and love may feel like a noose on your neck at sometimes but mostly, it feels like a hug from a mom and it’s something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

The dining room is the heart of the Cleary house; it’s where meals are served, where the important conversations take place and where Peggy and Mike dole out nourishment and wisdom to their 8 boys. The thing I loved about it the most was that it is so small and so full of things that the family can barely all fit in it at once. In fact, if you pay attention, you will notice that each episode, a different son sits at a tiny side table.

You might also notice that most of the decor looks like it’s from the 1950s and 1960s since the family is on a tight budget with all those boys. This is keeping it real.

 

The Yard

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

One thing that I absolutely loved is that they created an actual outdoor yard to film in. They did have the soundstage yard but that infamous treehouse and who could forget that brotherly love fight scene sandbox, that is all outside and it is magical. From the clothes on the line to the car in the driveway, you felt like you were transported back to the 1970’s.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

 

We met the show’s creator Tim Doyle. The Kids Are Alright is based on Doyle’s childhood and he narrates each episode. This is his childhood and he reminisced with us about how different growing up in the 70’s was versus growing up now.

“Doyle: It’s a funny thing. It’s amazing that we all survived that period but some of us didn’t. But all the ones that are here are like, “Oh, yeah, it’s okay. You don’t have to have parental supervision. Let kids run around like feral animals. Let them do whatever they want.” That’s the people who survived talking. There are the other ones and a lot of bad stuff happened but we’re not telling those stories. We’re glossing over those.

We’re not saying don’t be good parents. We’re saying be good to your kids and supervise them. But there was a different way… We’re giving a taste of, as accurately as we can, what we remember it being like.”

The 70’s

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

The vintage clothes, the vernacular and even the television shows and magazines lying around the house…The Kids Are alright producers did not miss a beat in capturing the 1970’s era.

We got to see wardrobe with costume designer Susan Michalek. The collection of clothes needed for a show with 10 principal actors is huge.

“Michalek: We need so much that what we really get from is all the rental houses in L.A (Los Angeles). ABC has a costume house, Warner Brothers has a costume house, and then there are some private ones too. There are about eight or ten in L.A. Their buildings are the size of football fields and really high with racks of clothing where we go get most of it.”

The Kids Are Alright is all about conjuring up the nostalgia one feels when going home. None of this happened by accident. Extensive research was done to insure that the Cleary home was filled with just the right furniture, knick–knacks and even the wall hangings.

“Didol: We actually lucked out with a couple of estate sales. We literally took this whole drapery rig right out of the house as is, and it is so fragile that I couldn’t get it dry cleaned and we’re going to just see how long it lasts… But we really do try to do our due diligence, finding things that were from the right period.”

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim DoyleOn tonight’s episode, Peggy sees an opportunity to put Eddie’s Girlfriend through a test before letting her into the Cleary family circle on an all-new episode of ABC’s ‘The Kids Are Alright, Tuesday, November 13.

Peggy’s Day Out-To hide a mess Eddie made, his girlfriend, Wendi, tries to distract Peggy by insisting she take a day off with a fun day out while they take care of the housework. To everyone’s surprise, Peggy accepts the offer and requests Wendi tag along, with the ulterior motive of teaching her a lesson. Meanwhile, Eddie enlists the help of his brothers to clean up and keep Mike out of the house while Wendi and Peggy are out. Elsewhere, Pat introduces Timmy to his secret dog on “The Kids Are Alright,” TUESDAY, NOV. 13 (8:31-9:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand.

Follow along on social:

Facebook: @TheKidsAreAlrightABC
Twitter: @TheKidsABC 
Instagram: @thekidsarealrightabc

Hashtag: #TheKidsAreAlright

Make sure to watch The Kids are Alright on ABC. It came out on October 16, 2018 and airs Tuesdays at 8:30|7:30c on ABC; also available streaming and on demand.

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