Monthly Archives: February 2012

Getting ready for Leap Year…


Leap year is tomorrow!!  I’ve never really paid it much attention before, except to feel sorry for the people who are born on leap year and technically only have a birthday every four years…but this year all of a sudden I thought…here’s a day that doesn’t come around very often, we should celebrate it! (but not with commercialized sales, etc)  We should celebrate it, because the next Leap Year February day that comes around, my 5-year-old will be 9, my 7-year-old will be 11, my 11-year-old will be 15 and my 12-year-old will be 16 years old…….YIKES!!!!!!!!! and double yikes.  So tomorrow will be a celebration to freeze a moment in time, because the next time my family and I celebrate this day, our lives will be different and full of teenagers and tweens.  *sigh*  (I hadn’t actually figured out the ages until just this second as I typed this…gulp…a big lump in my throat).

So I took some photos and made up some color palettes to get myself in the mood to set up a little party for tomorrow….;)

(yes, i carved an apple instead of cleaning the counters and loading the dishwasher after lunch.)

I read that tomorrow is National Frog Legs Day in the USA (according to who knew?  It will be a good day to watch the original Muppet Movie!  Maybe with a big bucket of green popcorn.  Or something, we’ll see…

I guess February 29th is also a day when traditionally a woman could ask a man out on a date, or even propose marriage to him.  (Maybe I didn’t know this because I missed out on watching the movie Leap Year, haha).  Did anyone else miss this vital piece of information?  I just did it anyways…in March….about 19 years ago…heh heh…. 😉

out and about Guate: Color Inspiration


I loved photographing pretty much everything I saw out the car window in Guatemala 🙂

There was a lot of cool graffiti down Atanasio Tzul, and I even dared to get Henry to drive in close for some photos…but didn’t dare hop out and pose by the walls…too many scary stories 🙂

The kids loved this one:

Loved this little store front, an interesting mix of products/produce:

and my favorite, old Antigua door-knockers 😉

feasting on Star Wars party Leftovers…

feasting on Star Wars party Leftovers…

After the party, the only thing left to do is….play with the new toys and Eat up the Leftovers!!  My 7 year old and I decided to make Storm Trooper Macaroni (a.k.a. Carbohydrate Casserole).

“Hey, it’s suppertime…um, let’s use this macaroni that’s been in the fridge for a few days, we can whip up a white sauce,”

“ok Mom! I want to help!”

“I’ll show you how to make a roux, son.”

“Let me stir it!”

“Now I’ll slice up this leftover Storm Trooper Cheesball head…”

taste test- “It’s too salty, what else can we add?”

“How about some Greek yoghurt, that should cut the saltiness….and hey, how about those leftover crackers…?”

“Let me crush them up, Mom!”

“Still needs something….” glugs in some salsa, “how about the last of the tortilla chips?”

“I’ll stir it up, Mom, let me taste it now!! It’s great!”

“Yes, I think it’s about right!  Ta da everybody!! Storm Trooper Casserole!!”

And it was a success and nicely emptied out the fridge from our Lego Star Wars party! 😉

I couldn’t resist adding the leftover black cream cheese!!

The Lego Star Wars party, accent on the Star Wars…

The Lego Star Wars party, accent on the Star Wars…

We did it!  Everything finally came together for our son’s Lego Star Wars party…after weeks of thinking about it, checking out ideas on Pinterest, the anticipation….and now it’s done!  I’m afraid that I plan things in my head, then leave everything until the last minute…so I’m usually rushed.  This time was a little better.  About a week before, we made a trip to IKEA and I picked up some fun things (that I had wanted for a long time anyways) so that gave me some inspiration to work with.  From the bulletin boards on Pinterest, I got a bunch of good ideas and free printables.  And the final thing: a photo sale on at Costco, so really, the coolest items were ordered as photos from Costco.

I was kind of thinking about why I do these things, these detailed creative things.  Really, I don’t do it to show off….I don’t like show-offs and I don’t want to be one, so I was investigating my real motives, and decided that this is not one of them.  I don’t do it to impress others.  I do want to impress my kids and husband, that I admit, and I like to do that!  (it’s fun).  I figured out that I also like to do these things because I get a picture in my mind and I want to see if I can do it: I guess that would be called a challenge.  It’s a challenge to me to see if I can create what I can think up (ok, or what I can copy!! I’ve always been a good copy-cat and like to see something and try and copy it).  And I guess my other motivation for right now was this: I was wondering if I could get into the party business….still wondering about that.  Part of me really wants to and the other part of me says no way, only do it for your family!!  And I guess the reasoning behind that is that I am organizationally deficient and tend to work up to the very last minute and improvise a lot!  In fact, some of my best ideas are last-minute and made using something I find laying around in my basement or kitchen.  So, I’m just playing with the business idea…

Anyways, for the fast version, here’s a slideshow of party photos, and following are individual photos and the links from where I grabbed the cool ideas!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The night before, Henry, Lyra and myself stayed up assembling these cute little paper cubees of Star War figures to decorate with.  You can find them here then print them off, cut and some assembly required (they are about 3 inches high).  Any paper geeks out there? you will love these!!

More paper stuff: these cute little lego brick boxes to fill with candy.  They were originally large boxes, but I wanted them for the treat bags.  You can find the printout here:

I found these cool shiny black bags at IKEA for treat bags, and printed out tags for the boys’ names here:  I also included a “squinky” in each bag, from a cute little set of star wars toys.

And an “autographed” photo of Luke Skywalker.  The rest of the candy in the treat bags, the boys were allowed to choose themselves from the Dessert Space Station.

A couple of my own ideas for the table setting: light saber straws and utensils.  We found salad fork&spoons at IKEA in all the perfect colors, so I wrapped them up in green and black serviettes for the handle of the sabers, then the boys had to eat with them!! The straws were IKEA straws, bundled up in bunches and taped together at the top.  They were surprisingly fun!  The boys played with them and bent the tops around, and used them to slurp up their Yoda Soda punch!!

There were a few shiny metal things from IKEA that were great for serving at the table, the coolest being a plant pot stand on casters!! love it!

I had big plans for creating a Millenium Falcon spaceship from a lampshade (from IKEA of course) but it didnt’ get done, so I just set it on the table with a light in it…it was a good effect, even without all the work…eventually it will become a pinata I think… Also from IKEA, some cheap blue curtains and Christmas lights….

First we had lunch, complete with Wampa Burgers (“rib” sandwiches), Wookiee Veggies and Storm Trooper Cheese Ball.

I saw the idea here: and other cool ideas.

At the last minute, there was no lime sherbet, so I put a few scoops of vanilla and dumped in the lemon/lime fizzy drink + a few drops of food coloring= Yoda Soda fun!  Lyra helped serve the punch. This idea and the C-3PO H20 (idea and water bottle labels) were from here:

After lunch, the boys went to play some Wii games, and Lyra and I quickly cleaned up lunch, and set up the Dessert Space Station and Birthday Banner.

The Banner and all the name cards, I had made up 2 nights before and printed at Costco.  I had downloaded a font (Star Jedi Hollow from and I used a lego-ish digital kit by Lindsay Jane called “Brickworks” here’s her blog where you can find a store: I like her digital scrapbooking kits!!

So we set up a bunch of candy and cupcakes with name tags….This was the only orignal name I came up with!! haha, the rest were from others’ Star War parties (previous links and this one for the Tie Fighters: But I liked mine “Death Star Droppings”! Hoth Chocolate Cupcakes (I broke down and bought a $1 cake mix, threw in some chocolate chips and iced with canned icing.)  The cool parts were the silver cupcake liners and the blue sugar+chocolate cookie crumbs=topping. Since I was doing so many desserty things, I just printed out cupcake toppers and punched them out with a circle punch, instead of making things out of icing or whatever.  The cute printables are here:

A few more decorations:Here’s the Storm Trooper “man doily” that I mentioned in my post yesterday.  Here’s the link and template for that (recommended for a very handy adult, prob. not a kid!) :

Banner was my own invention, but wall art that I stuck onto my frames from here: and here: and this fun one from here:   I recreated it myself from scratch and put on the doors,

Safe to say, there were Children at Play, and they all had fun!!   Ahhh….yes, we all had fun!! 😉  Everything was worth it to see the smile on my son’s face!!Happy Birthday!!

disclaimer: I have never watched any Star Wars movies, so please forgive any strange/wrong spellings or Star wars labels!

Man Doilies: it’s a Star Wars thing…

Man Doilies: it’s a Star Wars thing…

We’re getting ready for our son’s Star Wars party.  It involves a lot of work, and Henry has been helping me out a bit, heh heh.  Today he is making Star Wars snowflakes, or Man Doilies as I like to call them!!  This year I have seen so many good party ideas on Pinterest and have been trying to do them all.  So I saw this cool design for snowflakes, printed out the template….and asked Henry to make them, as he’s precise, good with geometry and knives (and guns) and I’m too busy writing this post.  Here’s the first sneak peeks of our party decorations:

Is this cool or what??? that’s Darth VAder, and the Storm Trooper turned out even more awesome!!  I’ll post it later, along with links for the printout and all the other fun Star Wars stuff.  Here are some photos I took this morning to add so some decorations:

more later!! I’m busy 🙂

Cross-cultural (or is that Inter-cultural?): A Baking Experiment


I decided that today I had to do a little dessert experiment: it had to be something that was white on the outside and brown on the inside…and something else that was white on the inside and brown on the outside!!!  It’s from an old “inside” joke…finding food items that describe what we are on the inside.  I guess that when you are in an “interracial” marriage you don’t have to be politically correct with each other! haha!  I’ve always said that Henry’s a coconut: brown on the outside and white on the inside!  And then I try to think of what I am…what’s white on the outside and brownish on the inside..?  Not a chocobanano or a chocopiña…maybe a slightly rotten egg? Hmmm….hey, I just this second finally thought…oh uh, duh, no, I was going to say a toasty marshmellow, but that’s not it, other way around please!

Anyways, we’ve joked a lot about that stuff; Henry has fit into Canadian life and culture very very well….whereas I have had more struggles (I think).  After having been raised in Guatemala (17 yrs.), in a strange mixture of cultures, in the end I’m not sure what I am!  We had our Canadian culture (Canuck) at home, American culture (Gringo) at school and Guatemalan culture (Chapín) at church and shopping (and TV).  So with all of that, I don’t know exactly what “color” I feel!! heh heh, hope no one is offended.  I know it’s not “P.C.” to talk so much about the color thing, but like I said, when you are in a cross-cultural marriage and have kids, the topic comes up a lot and there is the freedom to talk AND JOKE about it!!  So here’s my baking experiment, (with no actual baking done):

I was thinking about my marriage today…and thinking about the phrases interracial and cross-cultural.  And I just asked my daughter (after she saw the title of this post), “do you realize that your father and I are an interracial marriage?”  She looked at me with a weird look, then said she hasn’t heard that word before.  As far as noticing the whole the Canadian/Guatemalan thing, yeah of course.  So that is where I whip out the dictionary definitions!! (heh heh, all part of my plan).  I think that the two words sound so different: one sounds weird (almost like inter-species) and the other sounds more human and interesting.  To help out:

I just went off to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary,

Definition of INTERRACIAL

: of, involving, or designed for members of different races (not too helpful, so we’ll continue with race)

Definition of RACE

: a breeding stock of animals
a: a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b: a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics
a: an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also: a taxonomic category (as a subspecies) representing such a group
(that makes it sound really weird!!!  On the dictionary site they want to know why you are looking up the word, and so I scrolled down through some of the comments and here is one that interested me about race:    “found it! Race originally isn’t about the color of skin, physical appearance, or religion.  We evolved it to be that way. Race is a modern term for the differences between us all.  Did you know that Genetically we are 99.9 percent made of the same genetic material and that .1 percent is what determines things such as skin color and facial features.  How sad that it’s that .1 percent that keeps us segregated as we are.  I luv late night studying, opens your mind to so many intriguing and educational notions.”

Definition of CROSS-CULTURAL

: dealing with or offering comparison between two or more different cultures or cultural areas
a: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic <studying the effect of computers on print culture> <changing the culture of materialism will take time  — Peggy O’Mara>
(this is so weird, as I write this, my 5 year old jumped on the couch by the window, and I asked her why and she said “I had to check my skin color.”  What??!  So I guess she went to the light to check the color of her skin because she’s creating some sort of digital version of herself, and went on to figure out her hair and eye color, don’t worry, its on the PBSkids site!  But how funny that she did that at this exact moment when I am deeply involved in typing out all this info/opinion!!)
Anyways, enough rabbit trails, back to my big contemplation of my marriage….it’s so funny to think of how people look at you, and how you see yourself, isn’t it?  What is the first thing you think of when you see this photo (or what is the first thing you notice?):
My first thoughts were: 1. I look so young! 2. whichever kid took this photo did a good job! 3. Henry and I are starting to resemble each other. 4. Hmm, lot of freckles on my arm.  5. Henry is handsome (even thought he has even more white hair now than back then(haha).
I guess the obvious race thing comes in our genes from our ancestors, all of his Italian and Spanish genes vs. my English, German and Swedish ones.  The cultural question is a little more less obvious.  Or maybe that should be super more less obvious.
I remember one of my high school teachers, Mr. Gilbert, talking about family cultures.  He mentioned the obvious difference in cultures such as Canadian and Guatemalan…and then there are other kinds…  (the examples were about couples)  He said that, as a couple, you could each come from the same country, the same small town, even the “same side of the tracks” and still live in totally different cultures: different family cultures.  (and how this can affect your marriage and how you get along with each other).  This combined in my mind with what my Uncle Bill said to the two of us when he was giving us some ‘official’ premarital counseling: “Don’t use your difference in culture as an excuse…for anything” (he meant for disagreements or fights) or words to that effect (it’s been a long time since I heard it!)  So going into my marriage with Henry, we were very conscious that we would have “obvious cultural differences” but the reality was that we didn’t notice anything…at all different or weird or hard.   (Ok, the only weird thing I noticed was that he folded his dirty clothes).
We didn’t even fight for the whole first year of marriage.  I think, looking back, our “cultures” weren’t that different.  I had grown up in Guatemala since I was 6 years old.  I spoke Spanish fluently. We knew many of the same people/friends. We were familiar with each other’s high schools.  We had been to the same places/restaurants/beaches, etc.  Both of us were at about the same economic level (don’t kid yourself that this doesn’t matter or make a difference, it does).  We both attended the same church and, more importantly, held the same basic beliefs and values pertaining to God, life, family.
So looking at it carefully, our cultures weren’t that different….as far as those kinds of things.  Up close, the differences were more family culture and personality differencesHa, ha, the first example of that that pops into my mind, is when I was newly engaged and visiting my grandparents in Canada, and the only question my grandpa asked about Henry was: “Is he Handy?”  And I’m afraid at that point, I didn’t even know if he was handy at fixing things, fixing cars, building, etc.  But in my family that was kind of an important thing, that all the men did.  (turns out Henry is a super fast learner and today I can say, Yes, He is Handy!!)  As I write this, though, I’m thinking that it turns out that that could be more of a culture thing….fixing things yourself vs. hiring someone to fix it for you….is that a country culture thing or a family culture thing??  I think it’s some of both.
Umm, do I really know what I’m writing about??? maybe not, I can only give my humble opinions.  And my opinion is…..drumroll please…..when you are going to get married, study the family culture of your “intended” and don’t get so distracted by the perceived outward differences of “race” or even country culture.  If you can try and see how much the family is influenced by their culture, that might help.  But what I really really believe is the important part:  check out your basic beliefs, deep beliefs and values and world views.  Those are the things that will make your or break you in the midst of disagreements about money, housing, careers, sports, kids, and chores and housework…oh, yeah, I suppose  I should add the s-e-x word in there, too.
It sure helps if you both have the same HOPE.  Which is why we have had the grace to be married for the last 18 YEARS.
I guess I should have written up an outline for this post, as I have wondered around a bit, and ended up forgetting my original reason for writing this post…..hmmm, still can’t quit remember.  Was it about outward differences vs. inward differences?  Was it about marriage? kids? baking?  An excuse to make something sweet to photograph and eat? (probably that one!).  Or maybe just to say… see one thing on the outside…I look like some stereotyped person, but just from looking at me, you don’t know me, who I am inside, what “color” I am inside, what I’ve been through, what I think or value: who I am.  I guess you have to get to know me to figure those things out! “Everything is not what it appears!” or how about “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” haha!  Anyways, I had fun doing my ‘sweet’ experiment and talking about it all with Henry, and eating it up for dessert! 😉
(I don’t get all ‘mushy’ about Henry and “us” on facebook, so I thought I’d post a few more photos here)
And I thought I’d tack on some photos of some of the mess I made making those little candy balls at the beginning of the post, just so you can see how chaotic things get just to get a couple of nice photos!  Story of my life.
and then I realized it doesn’t look that chaotic….but the rest of the kitchen did!! and does!! I go all out for the baking and photographing and just leave everything else in a disaster.  *sigh*

Vacation Edibles Color Inspiration


Lots of lovely and fun food on our vacation in Guatemala….here are a few samples!

this might be recognized as non-Guatemalan…more like Texan Sonic 😉 but it was on our way!

A nice lunch at El Gringo Chapin in Antigua….great for taking kids out for lunch and nice with Rosa de Jamaica drink!

The beginning of a wonderful tipical Guatemala dish: Caqu ik, or is that Cak iqu….?

And what Henry was longing to eat…..very very fresh:

I’m having fun making up these color palettes from my photos…someday I will use them in scrapbook layouts….!! 😉