Cultura, Halloween

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.


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.

Comida, Viajes

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.

Listed, Mememe

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


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.