Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween with the family

Ramses and la Chapulina Colorada

I love Halloween. I love my family. And I love parties. (Though not in that order!) Saturday night brought all three together at my cousin Nancy’s Halloween party.

Nancy (the awesome hostess) and Sean

First off, Nancy (as an Adelita) was the perfect hostess. She and her helpers did an awesome job decorating the house, preparing food and snacks, ribbons for the best costume winners, and making sure everyone had a great time.

Lori sad at her grave

My favorite decorations were the white van in the driveway with a label bearing the name of the San Bernardino County coroners office and the family graveyard in a corner of the yard. My siblings and several cousins had headstones, but my cousin Tony didn’t make one for me. I didn’t mind, but Lori was sad to find her headstone.

Costume prize ribbons

I also liked the silly best costume ribbons.

Group shot

The best part — aside from the food, drinks and dancing with friends and family — was checking out everyone’s costumes. It’s always fun to see costumes come together or seeing what someone came up with. More costumes after the jump.

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Halloween on a budget: El Chapulín Colorado redux

Red & yellow!

El Chapulín Colorado was one of the very first costumes I ever blogged about for the Halloween on a Budget series. I’m bringing it back because I decided it’d be the easiest costume for me to put together. I had everything in my closet save for the pair of yellow shorts.

This year's costume: La Chapulina Colorada

Here’s what I recommended for the costume in 2007 along with my 2011 additions or omissions (in italics):

1. Red hoodie sweater (optional: a Chapulín Colorado t-shirt, but you still need to cover your arms)
I used my Chapulín Colorado t-shirt and layered it over a red long-sleeved shirt. I don’t have a red hoodie.

2. Some yellow fabric (felt would work) to make the heart and CH emblem
I didn’t need this since my t-shirt is already printed with the Chapulín Colorado emblem.

3. Bright yellow shorts
I found a cheap pair at one of those mall stores that sell no-name brand basics.

4. Red opaque tights
I bought a pair a couple of years ago at Target. Since I never wear them due to their brightness, they were still in good condition.

5. Antenitas de vinil, or red antennae with a yellow and red ball on the end (I found a pair at the 99 cents store, but they fit tight since they’re made for kids)
I don’t know what happened to my 99 cents store antennae. I made a pair with a $1 headband from the swap meet, yellow pipe cleaners glued to red fuzzy balls. I had the latter materials in my arts & craft box. I’ve been wanting to do this costume for a few years so I had the materials as a backup.

6. Red and yellow sneakers (like these)
I still have my Asics Tigers, but if I didn’t, I would have worn my red Chucks.

7. El chipote chillón (the red and yellow hammer)
Don’t have one. Less to hold while at Halloween parties!

8. Steady stream of famous phrases
The back of my shirt is printed with “no contaban con mi astucia!” That’s all I have.

9. I added a tiny pair of red and yellow earrings with a heart on them.

Way too many rest days and upcoming race calendar

November 21. 2010

7.5: the total number of miles I’ve run since the Long Beach Marathon on October 9th. Yeah, I know that’s pitiful.

Following the marathon, I took the recommended 2-3 days off. I was pretty sore, but don’t think it was as bad as post-LA Marathon soreness. Still, I took the elevator down a flight of stairs to avoid stairs and sitting hurt. I also started limping due to the bum hamstring prompting co-workers and students to ask what happened. I just shrugged it off. After a couple of days, the soreness subsided and I began to walk normally again.

On Wednesday, I took off for vacation to New York. I’m usually pretty active during my vacations or work trips. I packed my running shoes, clothes and Garmin in hopes of getting in some miles in Central Park like I did last year. However, that was easy since Sean lived in Harlem and the park was a little over a mile away. This time, we stayed at his parents’ in Long Island and I wasn’t motivated to run in the suburbs. All I did was take a short walk around the block. On Sunday, we drove in to Manhattan so Sean could play a game with his former football team. During the game, I ran along the Hudson River for 3.5 miles. It was a good run, free of hamstring pain or cramping. Before the marathon, the hamstring pain kicked in 15-20 minutes in to an easy run.

I returned from NY on the evening of the 16th. The next few days I kept making up excuses not to run. I was tired. I needed to stay at work late to complete reports. It was dark when I got home from work. I was still a little worried about the hamstring.

Mainly? I was just lazy. And a little burned out despite the injury-induced super taper.

My body told me it did not want to run a few “easy” miles. Rather it wanted to lay in bed and keep reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot.

I considered showing up for the La Puente Main Street Run on Sunday the 23rd. Late in the week, I nixed the idea. I’d be wasting $30 trying to run a 10K on a hilly course and being reminded that I’m out of shape. I did go to La Puente that morning, but rather than run I had brunch with my family at a Mexican restaurant. Machaca was a better idea than a 10K.

Earlier this week, I made more excuses and put more 0s on my training log. Yesterday, I finally went out for a run. I’ve only taken a 10 day break before, and that was because I had thrown out my back. It was a tough run. I tried to keep the pace easy, but it still felt hard and I took short water breaks at the playground. As I finished up, I was glad I hadn’t done the 10K. I’m not sure I would have been able to run it without walking the water stops (at least).

I’m upset with how my fitness level has dropped off so dramatically in less than 6 weeks. I can only blame myself and hope that with smarter training I’ll get back to where I was or even surpass it.

I have a few races coming up. I’ll likely run the local YMCA’s Turkey Trot (10K) on Sunday November 20th. The course is pretty easy and my sister wants to run it too. Last year, she pushed me to a PR and also won herself a turkey. On December 11th, I’ll be running the Holiday Half Marathon in Pomona. I signed up at the LA Marathon expo in March. I took advantage of the temporary $30 deal offered to runners who had already signed up for Long Beach. I couldn’t resist the price. This week, I added the Carlsbad Half Marathon on January 22nd to my calendar thanks to some peer pressure. [This is a whole other post.]

While I enjoy running, I don’t enter races for fun. I’d like to improve my current PRs in the half and 10K distance. I know it’s doable, I just need to quit slacking off.

Halloween on a budget: Hairdresser on Fire (Morrissey inspired)

Hairdresser on fire

I’ve mentioned this costume before. Here’s the snippet from my A Very Moz Halloween post:

A few years ago, I created a costume inspired by a Morrissey song. I was a “Hairdresser on Fire”. It was way too conceptual — and warm — to wear on the crowded dance floor in a club.

I didn’t include any photos in that post. I don’t know why, but I’m correcting that now.

Hairdresser on fire - Morrissey inspired costume

Hairdresser on fire:

1. Stylists’ smock with scissors, combs and other stylists’ tools. As you can see, I didn’t wear a typical stylist smock. My mom made this jacket out of some scrap material.

2. Decorate the smock with flames. I used red, orange and yellow felt. I’m not a crafty person and my hand sewing is horrible. Thus, this took me a little while. If I was going to do this again, I might use shinier material to make it more flashy.

3. Make up a salon name and add it to the smock. I used fabric safe letters.

4. Modern and stylish haircut. Most stylists I’ve known don’t do anything crazy with their hair, but it is often colored and styled. Makeup can be simple, but spend some time on the hair.

5. Wear whatever you want underneath your smock, but you should definitely be “remarkably dressed.”

6. Act very busy, so busy!

Edited to add: If anyone in LA wants to borrow this costume, I’d be happy to share it. You might have to remove the letter C from the front of the jacket, but that shouldn’t be difficult.

Halloween on a budget: La Dama from Lotería

La Dama (from Lotería) Costume

LA DAMA: La dama puliendo el paso, por todo la calle real.
The Lady: The lady, taking an elegant walk along the main street.

It’s a shame that I’ve been doing the costume series since 2007, but this is the first time I’ve bothered to put together a Lotería inspired costume. It’s not for lack of trying. Some of the cards featuring people have been on my idea list for a while, but it was easier to write about other costumes.

I found this teal dress last month when I went shopping for my birthday party dress. Although I thought it might be too fancy for the party, I bought it anyway because it was on sale and I liked the flattering cut. As I checked it out in the dressing room mirror, it also reminded me of La Dama (#3) from Lotería, the sophisticated and elegant lady in her tailored blue/teal suit, pink accessories and perfectly coifed hair.

I tried my best to recreate it.

La Dama costume

La Dama:

1. Teal or light blue suit or dress. If you wear a suit, wear a pink blouse and small white scarf/bow at the neck. Since I wore a dress instead, I added pink up top with a scarf.

2. Pink hat. La Dama’s hat looks sort of like a beret, but I went with what I could find in Forever 21, a simple knit cap.

3. White gloves. I found a nylon pair for $7.

4. Pink shoes and clutch. I didn’t have a clutch, so I used what I had available. I bought it at Ross years ago.

5. A small bunch of flowers

6. Conservative makeup and curled up hair. Obviously, I didn’t do the latter. I don’t even own a curling iron.

dama catrin

If you would like to make a Lotería couples costume, get your significant other or a friend to dress up as El Catrín. I’m sure few people keep long coat tuxedos hanging around in their closet, so that will probably need to be rented. Don’t forget the monocle and cigarette — in a cigarette holder, of course.

Thanks to Sean for the Photoshop help.

Halloween on a budget: Mexican calendar girl

Calendar girl (3)

If you’ve ever picked up a calendar from a bakery, butcher shop or other small business, you’ll recognize the stylized images of beautiful women in typical Mexican garb. I wrote about this years ago on the old blog:

La Adelita as a chromo art Mexican calendar girl

Part of this idea came last night. I went to have $1 tacos and sangría (yum!) with Ome at Don Antonio’s. I noticed the cheesy carnicería/panadería style calendars on the wall. One had a drawing of a higly sexualized Adelita. I loved it. So, we flirted with the cute waiters and they gave us calendars to take home with us.

The first representation of a Mexicana is a painting of la Adelita, but she needs to put on a little more clothes or a bra. If you’ve seen Mexican chromo art calendars, you’ll know that the men and women in the images are idealized depictions. The men are bronzed, muscular, and virile. The women as voluptuous and gorgeous. Angel Martín’s painting is no different.

***

Inspiration and the costume

I cut off the ad for the restaurant and affixed calendar (the pull-away two month per page kind) and left the calendar hanging in my bedroom. Mexican calendar girls kept following me around a few years later when friends gave me a journal with an image of a vintage Mexican calendar girl on the cover. I carried it around until it started falling apart and the pages were filled. The image comes from a book called Mexican Calendar Girls.

All of these lovely [light-skinned] Mexicanas inspired me to dress up as a Mexican calendar girl for Halloween. I ditched the idea because I had to buy a new huipil blouse. I gave away my favorite after I lost weight.

If you don’t mind conceptual costumes, want to get out your pretty embroidered blouses and rebozos, then a Mexican calendar girl might be a good costume.

Calendar girl (2)

Mexican Calendar Girl

1. Huipil (embroidered blouse) – I used the white ruffly blouses worn by Mexican restaurant waitresses everywhere because that’s all I had available

2. Full-length skirt and boots or sandals

3. Rebozo (shawl)

4. Dramatic makeup and hair in braids

5. Big earrings, bangles and a rose to carry or pin in your hair

6. Calendar pinned below your blouse with an advertisement for a bakery or other small business (print 2 months side by side on white paper, make sure to include lots of saint’s days)

Obviously, I didn’t make the calendar. I didn’t buy anything for this costume except the rose hair pin.

For more inspiration, make sure to check out the Mexican Calendar Girl website.

Best nachos ever

best nachos ever (cozumel, mx)

Happy International Day of the Nacho!

A few years ago, I met up with Pachuco3000 and Gustavo Arellano at a Mexican restaurant in Northridge before Gustavo’s talk at CSUN. P3000 picked a hole in the wall since that’s the type of place Gustavo frequently reviews for the OC Weekly. I was a bit surprised when P3000 ordered nachos. I remember his reasoning more than the actual food. Basically, nachos are one of the best indicators of whether or not a Mexican restaurant is any good. Since nachos — the loaded kind, not the processed orange cheese and stale, overly salted corn chip variety you get a ballparks — are made up of several basic ingredients, you can get a sense of whether or not those ingredients are any good.

Do they fry their own corn chips or do they use store bought kind? What kind of beans do they use? Are they perfectly salted, any manteca (lard)? Are the toppings fresh, house made and the proper amount? And what type of cheese do they use? Is the meat bland and overcooked or juicy and tender?

P3000 has a point, but he doesn’t need to convince me that ordering nachos is a good idea. I’m already a fan. These day, I don’t eat them too much. I have to keep my pansa in check. Plus, after eating the best nachos ever in Cozumel nothing compares (2U).

It’s been 4+ years since we had these nachos and my family and I still talk about how amazing they tasted. I’m not ashamed to admit that I frequently check out the photo my sister took (above) and think about going back to Cozumel. The best nachos ever came from a small Cozumel seaside café. While my family took turns exploring the ocean floor with our scuba diving instructor, my mom chilled on a beach chair under the palapas. She also ordered some nachos. As soon as the first group of novice divers (me, Lori, Dad and Mike) came up from our lesson and took off our gear, we attacked the nachos. We were hungry from swimming, but they were also perfect. Everything tasted fresh, especially the guacamole and black bean layer. We ordered a second plate and those went pretty quickly. After all, there were 8 of us digging in to the nachos. Anyone else think food in Mexico often tastes better than food stateside? Is that just me?

Chicken nachos at Simone's in Pilsen

As for stateside nachos, I can’t pick a favorite. I typically get nachos in bars, not at Mexican restaurants. I liked the nachos at Simone’s (Pilsen, Chicago), but they had too much sour cream and no guacamole. Some chain restaurants like Rubio’s Baja Brill and Baja Fresh have decent versions. I used to frequent the Rubio’s in the UCLA student union. I probably should have shared those chicken nachos.

NY vacation and engagement party eats

Sean and I didn’t have much of an agenda for our NY trip. There were only a few things we wanted to do and see. Of course, some of those things were food related.

We arrived on Wednesday night and went straight to the future in-law’s home in Long Island. We were very hungry as we’d only eaten breakfast and snacks on the plane. Sadly, JetBlue stopped carrying Munchies. That was one of my favorite parts about my monthly flights to/from JFK. I actually complained about it on the customer satisfaction survey. Kenny (future brother-in-law) picked us up form the airport. On the way there he told us Mrs C (fMIL) had made a steak dinner. It was delicious. No, I don’t have photos.

We took advantage of being near a Dunkin' Donuts

A few hours later, we were ready for dessert: Dunkin’ Donuts. LA transplants, especially those from NY, have a lot of valid reasons to complain about LA. One of those is often the lack of DD. We used to have DD, but the donut market was already saturated with mom and pop shops and Winchell’s. Although you can’t go to a DD in LA, you can buy a gift card at drugstores or grocery stores. Sean ate a few vanilla donuts. I tried a few of the season flavors (pumpkin, apple spice), but my favorite is still the simple glazed donut. We had DD a few more times on our trip.

On Thursday night, we went out to dinner with friends for Filipino Food Nite at Tito Rad’s in Queens. I missed the first Filipino Food Nite, but was glad for the second. We ate family style and had several dishes including: fried calamari, lumpia (yum!), chicken adobo, pork adobo, sisig, pancit, tuna, and plain white rice.

Chile relleno meatballs at the Meatball Shop Butternut squash

The Meatball Shop was the only restaurant on our to-do/see/visit list. We went on Friday afternoon, our first day back in Manhattan. Luckily, there was no wait. I had the special, the chile relleno meatball. It was less spicy than I expected and they were a little stingy with the perfectly spicy tomatillo salsa. I tend to load my tacos with cilantro, and was sad that it could barely be tasted in the meatballs. I had butternut squash with ricotta and candied walnuts on the side.

Ziti pizza

On Friday evening, we attended a birthday party at the Mercury Bar. The bar is two doors down from Pizza 33, which Sean recommended. Rather than eat at the bar, we stepped out for Ziti pizza. The pizza was too dry, adding red pepper flakes helped. It wasn’t the best pizza I’ve had in NY, but it was certainly enough to fuel some drinking and dancing.

Cherry tomatoes Engagement party food

Jerk pork one of several meat/seafood dishes Fried chicken

On Saturday night, the future in-laws hosted a small engagement party. Although Sean’s met most of my extended family, I’ve only met his parents and brother. Mrs C did a great job cooking up a variety of Jamaican dishes for the party. I’m not too familiar with Jamaican food. I’ve had a few typical dishes (e.g., beef patties, jerk chicken, oxtail soup, red beans and rice), but still have a lot to learn. The menu for the party included: jerk chicken, jerk pork, BBQ ribs, fried chicken, mussels, salmon, oxtail soup, a paella-like seafood and rice dish, a few different types of rice, mac n’ cheese, green salad, beef patties, saltfish and crackers, and green beans. I know I’m forgetting something.

Plate 1 of 2: ribs, salad, jerk chicken, salmon, green beans, rice and mac n cheese

Despite filling up my plate twice, I didn’t get to try everything. There was a lot of food leftover which we ate for the next couple of days. My favorite was the very tender jerk chicken and jerk pork. It was quite spicy (much more than the one Sean occasionally makes).

Very potent rum punch

I washed this all down with some wine and later some very sweet and potent rum punch and rum cake.

Diez cosas

I got tagged by Julie and Shelby, two fellow bloggers for a blog award. This means I have to — well, I don’t have to, but I kinda like these memes — post 10 fun facts about myself.

1. I’m a dumbass. After doing a short easy test run a few days before the Long Beach Marathon, I iced my hamstring. I wasn’t thinking and affixed the ice pack against my bare skin. I left it there for 20 minutes. The result? An embarrassing and itchy ice pack burn. Thankfully, it wasn’t a serious burn and went away in a few days.

2. I subscribe to 34 podcasts. Some of those are super short or song-of-the day types, but several are 45 minutes to more than a hour long. I always have a podcast to listen to at work or for a run.

3. Whenever I feel pretty bummed about running, I remind myself that I’ve only been doing this for a little over 2 years. If you would have told me in early 2009 that I’d be able to run a half marathon in <2 hours (okay, barely) or run a marathon, I’d have laughed at you.

4. I watched Toy Story 3 for the third (fourth?) time on Saturday. I cried again. I blame hormones and the fact that I’m a wuss.

5. Aside from persistent gray hairs and paying bills, the biggest difference I notice about getting older is that I now regularly get motion sickness on roller coasters and spinning rides at amusement parks. I always loved the rides that made me super dizzy, now they make me want to vomit or give me headaches. Also, I used to be able to read in a car without any problem. I occasionally get queasy when I read in a car or on the bus, especially if there are a lot of turns or jerking motions.

6. I probably look a little too long when I see a mixed (black+another race) baby or kid when out and about. I blame my biological clock and the fact that I look forward to being the mother to Mexican+Jamaican babies.

7. The food I most often crave is plain old frijoles de la olla, basically a freshly made pot of pinto beans. I love beans and am so happy when I can steal some from my mom’s house.

8. Since high school my mom has predicted that I wouldn’t marry a Mexican man. She was right.

9. I get that a lot of beauty practices are painful, uncomfortable, and time consuming. I avoid most of those, but will deal with things like eyebrow and upper lip waxing because I like the results. However, I won’t suffer for fashion. I tried on a sequined dress last week just for fun. I think I looked okay in the dress, but was very uncomfortable. I left the shop feeling itchy and with red marks on my skin.

10. I take my right to vote seriously and like going to the voting booth. I’m not the most informed person when it comes to politics. I mean, I can talk about the stupid things Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said during last night’s debate. However, I do nerdy things like write letters to my representatives on issues I feel strongly about (see: the DREAM Act) and volunteer for political campaigns when possible.

I’m supposed to tag someone, but I’ll skip that part.

Halloween on a budget: Maggie the Mechanic

Maggie

I started reading Love & Rockets in the summer of 2009. And then I stopped. I was a bit confused by the early sci-fi influenced. I put the books down until later that year when Sean gave me the first three trades as a Christmas gift.

Many faces of Maggie

I went through the three trades faster than he expected and soon I was reading the Locas II collection.
I was drawn in to Maggie and Hopey’s world of Hoppers and beyond. Jaime Hernández’s stories, which spanned 25+ yeas, were artfully told and drawn. Plus, the people are just beautiful and have an awesome sense of style.

Maggie the Mechanic

For the Maggie the Mechanic costume, I’m focusing on young Maggie. She’s always had a talent for working with machines. In the initial stories, she apprenticed for famous pro-solar mechanic Rand Race, rode a hover scooter and had some crazy adventures in the jungles.

Maggie the Mechanic

Maggie the Mechanic Costume

1. Skinny jeans and a tank top (or classic mechanics shirt, bonus if you get a Maggie name patch). Note: the costume can be done a lot sexier as seen above where Maggie is a mechanic in a bikini and kneepads.

2. Hair in a pixie cut style, spiked up

3. Goggles or a head band

4. Loose fitting jacket (optional)

5. Lace up boots

6. Tool belt, tools and tool box (the box is optional, but could work as a purse)

7. Loop and cross earrings

8. Work gloves

9. Some curves. Maggie has always been portrayed as curvy, even as she gains weight in later years. If you have a shapely butt, good for you. If not, get some good jeans that make your butt look good and start doing some squats and lunges.

Costume bonus: You can save it for Comic Con.