Tag Archives: Guatemala Ideas

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 dennasideas.com

A glimpse of home…

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

These hibiscus type flowers grew like weeds in our hedge…

Yesterday we visited the Devonian Gardens for the first time.  I wasn’t expecting a glimpse of my past!  It was our first visit to the Gardens and I was surprised to see so many plants and flowers that reminded me of my childhood.  I grew up in Guatemala City and our yard was always full of flowers and green leafy things!  Here are some of the plants that I was happy to recognize (though I can’t name them all!)

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

I have always loved bougainvillea of any color and you can see it everywhere in Guate!

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

I was so surprised to see this flower as I have never seen it outside of Guatemala before…it was in the butterfly greenhouse. Just 2 small branches of flowers…a taste of the masses of lilac blooms I remember…and I remembered exactly how the leaves would feel…like stiff sandpaper….

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

We had a small coffee bush growing in our yard, and I remember popping the red berries into my mouth to see what they taste like, not like coffee that’s for sure!!

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

These papyrus plants used to grow in our back yard and we would use them for pretend umbrellas when we were little….

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers


denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers

My Mom always had cacti around and we were always picking up spines in our feet and knocking into the prickly things!! (Ok, and even licking them! That was me…)

denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowers denna's ideas: tropical plants and flowersWhat a beautiful day we had!  After a long long cold cold winter, seeing the flowers and greenness was a site for sore tired eyes, that’s certain.  And the gurgling of a little stream….nice!   Ahhh, my tropical memories!

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…..to 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: AntiguaDailyPhoto.com 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!

Guest blogger!!


Hi, I’m so pleased to tell you that today I am guest author over at Growing Up Bilingual (Raising and Educating Bicultural Kids)!!

You can read my post about Loving Papito’s Culture here.  Paula is originally from Guatemala, too, and I’ve enjoyed checking out her blog.  There are articles in Spanish and yummy sounding recipes that I want to try!

Thanks Paula!!

Chespirito & El Chapulín Colorado

Chespirito & El Chapulín Colorado

Growing up in Central America, it was impossible not to know who Chespirito was (is!).  This Mexican television sitcom had a huge impact on my childhood.  I moved to Guatemala right before I turned 6 years old, and so watching TV was very influential in learning to speak a second language (I couldn’t figure out how our same TV set now “spoke” Spanish instead of English!)  If you have some Latin American influence in your life, it’s probable that you have heard about what I’m talking about, if not, let me fill you in!!

Roberto Gómez Bolaños, writer, actor, director, poet, comedian, and most successful creator of shows and TV personalities in Mexico, created a phenomenon with deep social roots that has extended through all Latin America.  His iconic characters “El Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulín Colorado” have become part of the Latin American culture.

As a child, I grew up watching all the shows on TV.  It wasn’t until lately that I actually did a bit of research on this “phenomenon” and have found some facts that really interest me and have given me a different perspective on this part of my childhood.  I watched the Biography Channel’s Bio on Roberto Gómez Bolaños here (in Spanish).  There are also some interesting articles on wikipedia on El Chavo del Ocho (English) and Roberto Gómez Bolaños (Spanish).

Here are some things that interested me:  Roberto Gómez Bolaños was born in Mexico in 1929.  He says that as a child, he was always scared, of things under the bed, of bullies, of everything: his life was characterized by fear, and that’s why he became a fighter (a scrapper!)  His father died when he was 6 and it’s evident that this was very difficult for him.  He was a rather short boy, but secretly took up boxing as a kid, winning prizes and everything without his Mom knowing about it.  He also played soccer of course!  He would go after the bullies now, but he says that it was inspired by his fear as a child.  (I love how this is portrayed in the character of  Chapulín Colorado!  It’s not just the biggest and bravest who can be the hero and save the day!)

Bolaños worked in radio and later wrote for some famous Mexican comedians.  At one point, someone started calling him Shakespeare-ito  (little Shakespeare) and then he just colloquialized it into “Chespirito”.  So it was the writer/actor who’s name became Chespirito (later on, it was also the name of one of his series).  I found it interesting in the Biography Channel’s Bio that they talk about how (in the “olden days”!) it used to be that The Comedian in a show would get all the laughs, and that they were quite jealous of anyone else in the show getting “their” laughs.  When Roberto Gómez Bolaños, now Chespirito, launched out on his own, writing and directing, he was determined to change that stereotype and create a forum where actors could share equally in the limelight and in “getting the laughs”.  When you watch his shows, it is obvious that he accomplished this, and the main cast of the show work together on the same level, each playing off the other, so that there isn’t just one character who hogs the whole show.  They would alternate and each get their turn in the limelight in the different sketches.

In the interview, one of Bolaños’ daughters comments that her father showed everyone that a sitcom could be both “clean & healthy” (sano) and a great success.  They are definitely family-friendly shows.  What we used to love was the versatility of the actors, as the main cast played in both series, Chavo and Chapulín.  The shows were composed of different sketches, with the same actors playing very diverse parts in the different sketches and series.

In 1970, Bolaños created the character of Chapulín Colorado.  (the next part is from wikipedia)  “The show’s success was largely due to the fact that it embodied many aspects of Latin and Mexican culture, while making a critique on the unrealistic image of superheroes. From the name itself to the slang and proverbs, Chespirito made a great effort to reflect Latin culture. Many of his characters’ names start with “Ch” (a separate letter in the Spanish alphabet) and several secondary characters with the Spanish letter “Ñ”.  The name translates literally in English as “The Red Grasshopper” (the word chapulín is of Nahuatl or Aztec origin, and a current part of Mexican Spanish). It is also known in Brazil as “Vermelhinho” (“Little Red”) and “Polegar Vermelho” (“Red Thumb”).

He was a superhero who dressed all in red, with yellow shorts and shoes, a red hood, and bore a yellow heart on his chest with CH inscribed in red (akin to Superman’s “S”). He was conceived as the opposite of the image of traditional American superhero: a weak, ugly, fearful, clumsy, cowardly, short and foolish man, but in the end always overcame his fears to defeat his enemies.  For some reason, Chapulín is believed by people (in the show!) to be a great superhero, but they usually end up disappointed when they realize he is actually puny and timid. Despite this, Chapulín did try his best to help, and all his adventures ended well (though sometimes by sheer good luck or outside help.)

Seemingly parodying Superman’s “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive” introduction, Chapulín was introduced as follows in the show’s opening, reinforcing the idea of a barely powered hero:

Más ágil que una tortuga, más fuerte que un ratón, más noble que una lechuga, su escudo es un corazón… ¡Es el Chapulín Colorado!
(More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than a lettuce, his shield is a heart… It’s the Red Grasshopper!)”

I went on to read more of the article, and I laughed till the tears came out when I was reading through the descriptions of Chapulín’s “equipment and weapons” here!  I remember how all the markets sold Chipote Chillónes (large plastic “Squeaky Mallets”) and Antenitas de Vinil (Little Vinyl Antennae) on plastic headbands and you would see kids everywhere with these “icons” from the show!

A year or two after El Chapulín was created, Bolaños came up with the idea for the character and later show, El Chavo del Ocho (I’ll post about Chavo tomorrow!).  “El Chapulín Colorado and El Chavo are farcical sitcoms: they rely heavily upon physical comedy, slapstick, running gags, literal interpretations, double entendres, misinterpretation (and even, sometimes, elements from the comedy of errors) in order to amuse the audience, and the characters and situations were mostly persistent (wikipedia)”.  Which made them great programs for a family who was just learning the language!  Each character’s theme phrases and actions were easy to pick up on, and bit by bit we were able to figure out what they were saying.  We really felt that we were advancing in learning Spanish when we started being able to understand the puns and plays on words and get the jokes!!

El Chapulín had some great phrases, some of which became a permanent part of Latin American vocabulary, and our family’s in particular.  (from wikipedia)  Usually, the show would introduce the characters of the current episode until one of them was endangered or victimized in some way, at which point they voiced the catchphrase “Oh, y ahora ¿quién podrá defenderme/nos?” (“Oh, who can save me/us now?”), or “Oh, y ahora ¿quién podrá ayudarme/nos?” (“Oh, and now, who can help me/us”). Chapulín would appear out of nowhere (usually tripping or hurting himself with something as he did), and say “¡Yo!” (“Me!”), to which the people in need would instantly yell “¡El Chapulín Colorado!” (“The Red Grasshopper!”) with relief, after which he’d be greeted by the victim(s). He always answered with his catchphrase “¡No contaban con mi astucia!” (“They did not count on my cleverness!”).

“Todos mis movimientos están fríamente calculados” (“All my movements are coldly calculated”)

“Se aprovechan de mi nobleza” (“They take advantage of my nobility”) — which he would usually say after an insult, like “We should’ve called Superman or Batman…”, or when he is forced to do something against his will.

“Lo sospeché desde un principio” (“I suspected it all along”/”I knew that”) — which he would say after someone pointed out something obvious that he had missed.

“¡Síganme los buenos!” (“Good guys, follow my lead!”)

From wikipedia, under outside sources: “The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening has declared that he created the Bumblebee Man character after watching El Chapulín Colorado on television at a motel on the U.S.-Mexico border. (This notwithstanding, the Bumblebee Man character also bears resemblances to an early Saturday Night Live recurring sketch with “Mexican killer bees” although the Chapulín character predated the SNL Character.) Simpsons fans sometimes call the character Chespirito, even though Bumblebee Man is only based on his character. It should also be mentioned that many Simpsons characters enjoy Chespirito/Bumblebee Man’s show; competing comedian Krusty the Klown watches one gag and remarks in admiration, “I gotta steal that bit.” Bumblebee Man’s show also features characters similar to Doña Florinda and Quico (with the inevitable stereotyping mustache), as well as Chómpiras. However, there is no real similarity between the character of Bumbleblee Man and El Chapulín Colorado.”

Something that I found out that surprised me (well, maybe it’s not that big of a surprise) was that the show El Chapulín Colorado was the first program made in Mexico to go International!  (It was with Televisa at the time).  Guatemala was the first country to buy and start showing the sitcom, and from there it spread to countries around the world including countries like the USA, China, Japan and Italy!!  It has been translated into 50 languages!  Interestingly enough, Cuba is the only Latin American country that has not (officially) bought/shown the series! 😉  The cartoon-sitcom The Simpsons has a character called The Bee Man that is a parody of El Chapulín Colorado, FYI.  Roberto Gómez Bolaños’ TV series hold the world record: 40 years of continuos airtime!!  🙂Chespirito is a part of my childhood and the Spanish language I speak!  I hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about him!  If you are into paper crafting, here’s a paper cubee of El Chapulín Colorado for you to download and assemble!!

If you are really into this research, you can watch the Bio here: Aqui se puede ver el programa de Biography de Chespirito.  And here’s a site that has recent news about Chespirito Informe 21.  Apparently there was a rumor of his death being spread around, but it was just a rumor.

One more Blue and White thing:

One more Blue and White thing:

Whew, the weekend is over.  Our Independence Day celebration is over, my daughter’s birthday is over.  The parties are over.  For this week.  😉

Well, maybe not.  We should probably watch a few videos from the parades in Guatemala, look at some photos and listen to the national anthem.  It was such a crazy busy weekend that there were several things that never got done!  4 birthday parties this weekend that someone from this house was involved in!  (plus Guatemala’s b-day).

Anyways, I just wanted to do one more little post about el 15 de septiembre because of this cute thing that I just couldn’t resist:  (and there’s one other reason after the photos)I printed out a party cake favor box and colored it.  And glitter-glued it.Specially for my dear Guatemala.

with all my heart….and all my glitter 🙂I have been going wild with these cute printable cake boxes…
Aren’t they cute?
Ahhh, the details!!  You can find these adorable printable party favor cake boxes at Paperglitter’s Etsy shop here.

And I also wanted to mention a very cool blog that I found (or that found me) this morning….

Growing Up Bilingual at growingupbilingual.com.  I’m excited to have found it!  Please check out Paula’s home page and scroll down a bit to see some of the posts….I’ve already found a bunch that interest me about encouraging my kids in their bilingualism, stuff about Guate and some yummy recipes!  (among other things!)  There are some lists of books for kids in Spanish, too.