Category Archives: Guatemala Ideas

my favorite place in the world!
mi lugar favorito de todo el mundo!

Celebrando la independencia de Guatemala: el 15 de septiembre



15 de Septiembre,  himno nacional de Guatemala, dennasideas.comhay mas ideas para celebrar aqui:  Arte de la bandera y papel picado,  Pastel de papel para el 15 de septiembre,  y Manualidades para el 15 de septiembre

Que disfruten el dia!! 🙂


Guatemalan Independence Day Flag art and Papel Picado Cake Bunting


The fifteenth of September is always a busy time around our house!  Not only are we celebrating Guatemalan Independence Day, but also our youngest’s birthday.  I’m usually busy doing a bunch of party related stuff.  This year I only had time/energy for a few simple Independence Day crafts.

Last year we did fun paint chip wall art, and some printables, but this year I only did a super quick post-it note flag and a few desserts and just pulled out the banner from last year.  You do what you can, I guess!!  I found these really cute post-it sticky notes at the dollar store (or Walmart) and the package came with both blue and white….so…..denna's ideas: post-it note art for el 15 de septiembre denna's ideas: sticky note Guatemalan flag artThat was easy!!!  Stick the notes onto a blackboard, and there you go.  I was going to somehow create the coat of arms for the middle of the flag….but minimalist modern is ok I suppose….

Another super easy but very cute idea was to make papel picado bunting for the cupcakes.  I so love papel picado art!!!  Here’s a little definition from wikipedia:

Papel picado (“perforated paper”) is a decorative craft made out of paper cut into elaborate designs. Although it is a Mexican folk art, papel picado is used as a holiday decoration in many countries. The designs are commonly cut from tissue paper using a guide and small chisels, creating as many as forty banners at a time. Papel picado can also be made by folding tissue paper and using small, sharp scissors. Common themes includes birds, floral designs, and skeletons. They are commonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, and christenings.

I made myself a little banner for the 5 de Mayo and I confess that it’s still hanging in the kitchen because I like it so much!  Very cheerful.  Well, I’m also into stuff with paper doilies right now, too.  So I figured I’d use one to make the other….as a cake/cupcake decoration!denna's ideas: easy DIY papel picado cake bunting denna's ideas: easy DIY papel picado cake bunting Grab a small paper doily and punch out some scalloped circles, or even plain circles will do.  Easier yet, just cut out some circles or rectangles with scissors.  I used the scalloped punch because that’s what was in easy reach.  I punched out shapes from the edge of the doily, then folded over a little flap at the top.  Punching out shapes in slightly different areas of the doily gives a different look to the little pennants.  I trimmed some with the scissors so that I could fit more into the bunting.  Using 2 long bamboo skewers, I wrapped some baker’s twine around one end, tied it and hot-glued a button on to hold it.  Then I eye-balled how long the string needed to be and tied it to the other skewer.  I stuck the skewers with twine on into the cake/cupcakes and then added the doily pennants, already folded; arranged them a bit and glued the flaps down.  It took about 10 minutes from start to finish, and my daughter and I loved the look!!denna's ideas: easy DIY papel picado cake buntingdenna's ideas: easy DIY papel picado cake bunting

Here’s another view, I love to see papel picado banners silhouetted against the light…denna's ideas: easy DIY papel picado cake bunting

Here are some desserts we had to celebrate the 15 de Septiembre, Guatemalan Independence Day:

15 de septiembre denna's ideasdenna's ideas: mini cupcakes made into ice cream cones for the 15 de SeptiembreMini cupcakes iced to look like ice cream cones, with a blue skittle on top for Guatemalan flag colors!  They turned out cute, but what a pain in the neck to ice crumbly from-a-cake-mix mini cupcakes!!  (only made 4).  The sandwiches were a lot easier….denna's ideas: fancy sandwiches for the 15 de septiembre

I saw the idea on this German blog and it looked so fun and easy, too.  Cut out circles from 2 slices of white bread, spread one side with jam, add sprinkles if you want, then from the other side of the bread, cut out a little heart (with cookie cutter) and slap the two sides together!  I used a few fondant buttons for decoration, and the cut-out hearts….denna's ideas: fancy sandwiches with sprinkles denna's ideas: fancy sandwiches for the 15 de septiembreAfter dessert we went on a bike ride to a little lake….15 de septiembre - Page 002 15 de septiembre dennasideas.comI know, it’s a very Canadian scene to celebrate a Guatemalan holiday, but since I can’t be down there, I have to enjoy what we have here!  Our weather has been unseasonably warm, so we have to make the most of it.  It was a fun afternoon, and our little princess enjoyed it!!15 de septiembre

to the north

to the north

The breeze was whipping past my face as I sped near the edge of a cliff, traveling parallel but closer and closer all the time.  I was standing on the back of a truck, holding on tightly, staring out to the scenery flashing by.  Finally I was right at the edge, because this is what I came for, the glimpse over the edge…I looked down and there was no guardrail at all, just the edge of the road, a strip of dirt, and then nothingness until far down I could see a thick cushion of treetops, dappled by sunlight.  There was the white facade of a church peeping out of the trees, along with glimpses of a few other building from the town.  Lifting my eyes up, I could see the greenness turn deep blue as my vision extended to the far hills and mountains.  Then I decided I’d rather see this from behind some sort of guardrail, so I looked for even a small one that I could stand behind.  There was a small one, of sorts, but we were traveling so quickly past it.  (and that’s how you can tell it’s Central America,  few guardrails!)

Now I noticed a beautiful sound, a song that I recognized, playing past the rush of the wind.  I started humming along with it, as I looked down at the treetops and breathed in the clean fresh mountain air.  The cliffs and mountains were on my right, but  now we were turning left and I could see some ruined buildings.  I knew it was a part of Antigua.  There were all sorts of old ruined cathedrals and bits of old walls and columns.  I wanted to look at them all, but we were approaching so quickly that my eyes fixed on one that was painted bright pink, and I gazed as we drove past at golden lions intertwined among the black wooden railing on the window boxes.  I dearly wanted to see the other ruins and was determined to come back with my camera….

And then Henry said, “Good-bye, I’ll give you a call later”….and the music in my dream tapered off and the ruins and mountains melted into the daylight behind the curtains in our room as he kissed me goodbye.

Yes, that was what I was dreaming about 2 hours ago.  If you know me, you know that I have very vivid dreams, and remember a lot of them (too many, my Mom would say!)  I can hear and taste and smell in my dreams!  I dream in both English and Spanish.  And yes, Guatemala is my favorite place to dream about….it’s probably where 90% of my dreams take place, go figure.

A few minutes later, I “happened” to pick up a book I’ve been reading, and read this quote:

“Oh hurrah!” said Shasta.  “Then we’ll go north. I’ve been longing to go to the north all my life.” –THE HORSE AND HIS BOY, CHAPTER I, “HOW SHASTA SET OUT ON HIS TRAVELS”

And then after some more quotes from that book, where the boy Shasta is setting off on an adventure to the North with Bree the talking horse, this book continues on:

For while Shasta, like Reepicheep, was motivated by desire, his was a desire of a very different kind.  In part, it was nothing more than a vague sense of not belonging, of being a stranger in the only place he’d ever been able to call home.  But it went far beyond this.  For reasons he didn’t comprehend and couldn’t have explained, Shasta was consumed with a deep, almost inarticulate desire to go north.

“So is there in us a world of love to somewhat,” wrote C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy (quoting seventeenth-century English poet Thomas Traherne), “thought we know not what in the world it should be.”  This is Shasta’s story in a nutshell.  He was a victim of what the Germans call Sehnsucht: an ardent yearning after a nameless, indefinable object.  Lewis referred to it as a “lifelong nostalgia—-”  “our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside.”

This for sure stuck a chord in me.  I know that I do long for Guatemala, but really, I know it’s deeper even than that.  Farther on in this chapter the authors add:

Have you ever felt that bittersweet pang, that stab of joy, that soul-piercing arrow of heartbreaking loveliness and longing that, for Lewis and Shasta, was “shot from the North”?  It comes to each of us in a different way.  We encounter it in the light of a red gold sunset, the melancholy of a misty seascape, the cold gleam of stars among bare branches on a winter’s night; in “the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

Wherever we meet it, it confronts us with inescapable evidence that we, like Jack and Shasta and the Old Testament patriarchs, are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), exiles in a foreign land, hoping to discover a way back home.

Put yourself in Shasta’s place.  You’re sitting on the seashore, absently mending the nets, gazing off longingly toward the north.  Do you sense the undertow of nagging restlessness?  Can you relate to the undefined feelings of homesickness, the ache of unspoken discontent?  If you can, you may begin to have some idea of what the Bible means when it says that God “has put eternity in [our] hearts”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The implications are well worth pondering.

REFLECTION:  We were meant for bigger and better things.

And so ends the chapter called “NARNIA AND THE NORTH” in the book Finding God in the Land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware, published by SALTRIVER, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2005.  I have really been enjoying reading this book and what I read this morning really complimented what I experienced in my dream today.  I recommend it for every Narnia fan!!  It’s something to think about today….

I wanted to include some photos of Guatemala that remind me a bit of my dream, so I found these on my friend Sam Ovalle’s facebook page and grabbed some of the ones of his climb of the Pacaya Volcano in 2000.  (Thanks for permission Chrissy!! 🙂scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovallescene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle  volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovallevolcanos of Guatemala photographed by Sam Ovalle

Easter Traditions in Antigua, Guatemala


Could this be the most colorful Easter Tradition ever?  During Lent and Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala there is some amazing color fabulousness going on!  Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the time when Guatemalan Catholics take to the streets in Antigua and create gorgeous carpets made of colored sawdust, flowers and even fruit,  to show their devotion and faith.  Later on, processions of people carrying huge floats and led by priests will walk over the carpets.  You can find some history and interesting facts about these traditions here on Revue Magazine.

I don’t have any personal photos of these carpets, but have found a few links for you to check out.   over at has some cool articles and photos of this season, and check out the Home page for up-to-date articles and photos about the Lent processions.

Here are some of the fabulous carpets (found on

Easter week in Antigua Guatemala easterweek-5 easterweek-6 holy-week-antigua-guatemala1

To see some more, really awesome photos, check out this set of photos:

Now that I am more into photography than I was as a teenager, I’d love to go back for Semana Santa and photograph EVERYTHING about these amazing works of art!!  Someday……. 🙂



Volver….es lo que está en mi corazón hoy.  Estuve viendo fotos de mi querida Guatemala aquí en, suspirando con la foto del amanecer, y rapidamente recuerdos llenaron mi mente.  También me vinieron a la mente dos canciones que siempre han sido especiales para mi.  Fuí a buscar la letra….y voy cantando mientras pongo la letra y los enlaces de los videos aquí, por si quieren compartir conmigo en un poco de nostalgia…. 🙂

Volver Volver

Este amor apasionado, anda todo alborotado,
por volver.
voy camino a la locura y aunque todo me tortura,
se querer.

Nos dejamos hace tiempo pero me llego el momento de perder
tu tenias mucha razon, le hago caso al corazon y me muero
por volver

‘Y volver volver, volver a tus brazos otra vez,
llegare hasta donde estes
yo se perder,yo se perder, quiero volver, volver,

Nos dejamos hace tiempo pero me llego el momento
de perder
tu tenias mucha razon, le hago caso al corazon
y me muero por volver.

‘Y volver volver, volver a tus brazos otra vez,
llegare hasta donde estes
yo se perder, yo se perder, quiero volver, volver,

Yo siempre escuchaba esta cancion cantada por Nana Mouskouri, y se puede ver un video de youtube con ella cantandola aquí: Volver Volver.

Otra favorita, un tango:


Yo adivino el parpadeo
de las luces que a lo lejos
van marcando mi retorno.

Son las mismas que alumbraron
con sus pálidos reflejos
hondas horas de dolor.

Y aunque no quise el regreso
siempre se vuelve
al primer amor.

La vieja calle
donde me cobijo
tuya es su vida
tuyo es su querer.

Bajo el burlón
mirar de las estrellas
que con indiferencia
hoy me ven volver.

con la frente marchita
las nieves del tiempo
platearon mi sien.

que es un soplo la vida
que veinte años no es nada
que febril la mirada
errante en las sombras
te busca y te nombra.

con el alma aferrada
a un dulce recuerdo
que lloro otra vez.

Tengo miedo del encuentro
con el pasado que vuelve
a enfrentarse con mi vida.

Tengo miedo de las noches
que pobladas de recuerdos
encadenen mi soñar.

Pero el viajero que huye
tarde o temprano
detiene su andar.

Y aunque el olvido
que todo destruye
haya matado mi vieja ilusión,

guardo escondida
una esperanza humilde
que es toda la fortuna
de mi corazón.

con la frente marchita
las nieves del tiempo
platearon mi sien.

que es un soplo la vida
que veinte años no es nada
que febril la mirada
errante en las sombras
te busca y te nombra.

con el alma aferrada
a un dulce recuerdo
que lloro otra vez.

Aquí se puede ver un video de Julio Iglesias cantando Volver.  Para mi, siempre fué Julio Iglesias cantando esta, pero si le gusta estilo mas mariachi, aquí se encuentra un video de Volver con Julio Iglesias, Viciente Fernandez y Jose Luis Rodriguez! (!!esta es para tí, Mamá!  ?Qué serian los 70’s y 80’s sin estos artistas?)

!Y derrepente encontré este video con los dos cantando juntos!! Tambien otra de mis canciones favoritas!  Julio Iglesias y Nana Mouskouri cantando La Paloma.

!Ay recuerdos tan lindos!!  Algún día Volveré….

(foto por Claudia de Stahl)

Happy 19/19th Anniversary!

Happy 19/19th Anniversary!

Yes, it’s a happy anniversary to us!  Nineteen years ago on December 19th, we were legally married!!  I know that that might sound a bit strange, especially those who remember that I’ve said that we were married on Christmas Day! 🙂  Well, we were legally married on the 19th!  In Guatemala City, nineteen years ago, it was the norm to have your legal “civil” wedding up to a week before your church wedding, it wasn’t done together as they do now and as is done in North America.  We first had to be married by a lawyer….then later at our church by our Pastor.  So I was legally married to Henry on the 19th, but we weren’t “man and wife” until married at church, before God and our family and friends! 😉  It was so weird to have the lawyers at work tease me about being Mrs. Henry when I felt like I wasn’t married yet!

Another interesting thing was that we had to “publish the banns” as they would say (in the olden olden days!).  Three weeks before the legal wedding, our engagement had to be published 3 times in the local newspaper…..just in case anyone wanted to officially object to our matrimonial intentions!

On the 19th, we were outside the City at a beautiful country estate surrounded by friends and family and balloons and flowers.  The bride wore black and white!  (a suit with a super cool blouse! 😉 )  We stood under an archway of balloons while the lawyer read through the laws that govern marriage in Guatemala.  He also read through a list of our families, to make sure that there were no relatives in common.  My English and German family names were quite the tongue twisters, not to mention my birthplace in Saskatchewan!  The signing of the documents came next and our friends and family signed as witnesses.  And then my mother-in-law made a lovely presentation of a basket with her housekeys in it to me, to signify that I was now a part of their family (it was so sweet!).  A delicious reception followed, al fresco, under the thatched “rancho” out by the swimming pool.

As we were driving home to the city (each to our respective house, I clarify) that evening, the “Luces Campero” were starting in the distance….the huge fireworks display set off for Christmas each year by Pollo Campero!

One week later we did the church wedding with veil and white gown and hundreds of red velvet cupcakes!  And more fireworks….then we drove off into the sunset… McDonalds!!!  and our honeymoon 🙂  and the rest of our lives (together).

Happy Anniversary to US!!Henry and Denna old photos

p.s. speaking of anniversaries….Wordpress kindly reminded me that it’s been a year since I signed up for my blog with them!  A whole year of my sporadic little posts!!  🙂

I’m off now, going to post this and then give my wonderful husband a kiss, right at 19 hours, 19 minutes on the 19th of December for our 19th!!!

Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

I was looking for another fun holiday to celebrate….and I found today, the 12th of October!  But now I find that it seems to be a rather mixed-feelings kind of day.

It seems that in North America it is Columbus Day.  A day to remember that day in 1492 when Columbus sailed the Ocean blue….and discovered America.  When I was little, I only heard good things about Columbus and his discoveries! 🙂

Now I’m older and the world isn’t so rosy.

It turns out that there are a lot of people who are not happy with Columbus and the things he did.  Ok, we all know that he set off to find wealth and riches, preferably gold.  Right?  But it turns out that a lot of bad things happened to the people of the land he was “discovering”….. like sicknesses, slavery, poverty and death.  And being conquered by foreigners.

Yesterday I went online to do a bit of “research” about October 12th, since I knew that in Guatemala they observe El Día de La Raza (Day of The Race), and I wanted to find out more about it.  (See end of post for some of the articles I found).  I kept reading different blogs and articles and the readers’ responses….wow, what a controversial topic!  The responses were getting quite heated!

It seems that some people want to have a peaceful holiday where they remember the great discovery of America and celebrate Hispanoamericaness.  Others are shocked that genocides should be commemorated and they think that the day that triggered off the conquest of America should be remembered with grief.  There were arguments about the “conquerors and conquerees” and who thinks they are better than whom.  And who gets a holiday from work on the 12th and who doesn’t.  There were discussions about race, about the mixture of races (in Guatemala in particular) and how and when and where that happened.  And there were those who were just pleased to have a day off from work and some excuse to do something festive (like dressing up!).

Here are some of the comments about what the day is called where:

Día de la Resistencia Indigena en Venezuela,  Día de la Raza en Guatemala y Mexico, Día de la Hispanidad y Fiesta Nacional en España,  en Argentina se celebra el Día de los Pueblos Originarios y en Argentina el Día de la Raza y es feriado nacional, Día de las Américas en Uruguy,  “y aqui en mexico es el día del “descubrimiento de america” (asi o mas largo) y aqui no hay asueto como alla en España” dijo uno.

So in English that is: Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela, Day of the Race in Guatemala and Mexico, Day of Spanishness (that’s what google translate gave me) and National Holiday in Spain, Day of Original Peoples and Day of the Race in Argentina and it’s a holiday, Day of the Americas in Uruguay, and from Mexico someone said “here in Mexico we celebrate the Day of the Discovery of America and we don’t have a holiday here like they do in Spain”.

And when they say Day of the Race, they don’t mean a marathon….they are talking about their ethnic race….and in particular (this is what I understood?) the mixture of Spanish and Indigenous races that have become the ladino or mestizo races.  (Or maybe it’s the “orignal” Mayan race….I’m not quite clear yet).  It seems that the discussion can get rather complicated!

What was in the back of my mind, for Día de La Raza in Guatemala City, was a day when little children dressed up in traditional indigenous costumes and it was fun and colorful!  My husband says that his memories are of seeing kids in costumes (traditional outfits) and that the day wasn’t a negative thing at all and that Columbus and his discoveries were mentioned.  period.

(Things have changed in Guatemala since we lived there, obviously, and there was a big march in the capitol city in 2007 where thousands of people were against observing Dia de la Raza, and were calling it the Day of Dignity and Pacific Resistance, el Día de la Dignidad y la Resistencia Pacífica –among other things-.  There were other demonstrations in other countries on that day in 2007, too.)

I’ve been thinking about what we are going to talk to our kids about today, when they get home from school.  I had wanted to go for a quick visit to see the replica of Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria that is on display near here, but I don’t think we’ll have time!  We’ll have a chat about Columbus and what his discoveries meant to many: in both the good and the bad ways.  And maybe we’ll dress up. We can’t ignore history.  We don’t have to celebrate this day, but observing it is not a bad idea.  You know, the old saying about those who forget the past….

It happened, and because of this day, way back in 1492, all our lives have been touched.  Rudy Girón made a great comparison about this day and the War of the Worlds, the collision of two worlds at the incident of Columbus’ trip to the new world (see his parody here: listen to the music and read through some of the comments!).

Even if we won’t make it there today, we have seen the ship before, so here’s a photo of my pirate by the Santa Maria :).

(Those ships were a lot smaller than we imagine!)

There must be some pirate in me somewhere! Arg!

And whether there is some conqueror, conquered, arab, indigenous, viking or pirate blood in my own little family…..meh!  It’s all about the stories and the exciting fun of discovery, really.  We can observe, learn, share and discover for ourselves about this day in history.

I just had to include these darling photos of the kids, even though this was from our Christmas Nativity Scene a few years ago!  They just seemed to fit in this post! 🙂 😉

I just love this one, it was for our Christmas card!

Here are some of the sites/posts/articles I checked into:  link to Antigua Daily photo here, from Roots and Wings Int’l here, from Mundo Chapin here, from wikispaces here, from La Jornada here.

Hopefully I’ll get time later on to check out what kind of a day it was today in Guatemala City! 🙂  Hasta luego!