Coctel de camarón (shrimp cocktail)

My go-to potluck or summer cookout contribution: shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail (or coctel de camarón) is my go-to dish for potlucks and summer cookouts. It’s always a hit. Who doesn’t love shrimp and avocado?!

I took it to my cousin’s pool party on Sunday and came home with an empty container. My cousin Juan (the host) was sad he didn’t get any. That was probably because my mom was trying to hide it behind the tostadas and bowls of tortilla chips.

When I posted the photo on Instagram, a friend asked if I’d share the recipe. I obliged. There’s several ways to prepare coctel de camarón,

I learned it from my mom years ago.

1 lb shrimp (I use frozen deveined shrimp, thawed of course)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lb imitation crab (optional)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
Cilantro, chopped (about a handful)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp ketchup (I’m guessing here, I never measure)
1 tbsp Tapatio (see above)
2-3 limes, juiced

Mix all of the ingredients except for avocado in a large bowl and let chill for about an hour. Add avocado when ready to serve. If you do it too early, it might get mushy or turn brownish. Add as much avocado as you like. One is usually enough unless you really love avocado. I added 3 small avocados to the dish this time around and no one complained. Well, my cousin Chrissy did, but she’s allergic.

Serve on tostadas or in a bowl with a side of corn chips. Keep a bottle of Tapatio or other salsa on hand for those who prefer something spicier. Recipe serves 6-8, if serving size is ~1 cup. Beer is optional.

Note: The cocktail could be more soupy if you like, just add more liquids. Omitting the imitation crab would do the trick too.

Familia, Fotos

Thirty-five years

July 23, 1977
East LA

The beginnning...

November 27, 2011 (my mom would’t let me take a photo today)
Luz and Carlos

Like any kid, I’m fascinated by my parents’ wedding photos. I used to love studying them for the differences and trying to figure out who was who.

I still love them these days, but I’m more appreciative of the fact that 35 years later I still have numerous photos of them being adorable, cute and loving towards each other.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thanks for showing me it’s not just about the day, but the lifelong commitment beginning on that day.

Familia, Fotos

Early summer in photos

It’s time for an Instagram photo dump.

Batman forever (not the movie) @seanathan

Sean is excited about The Dark Knight Rises. Can you spot the bat signal?

Found shoes for the bridesmaids. @vureno902 @andreakurtz @valsterr27

I joked with my cousins and sister that I’d make them wear these shoes for the wedding. I’m not a fan of TOMS shoes, neither are they.

I don't grow tired of this view and trying to find all the distinctions on each side.

I’ve been walking past Royce Hall for 14 years and yet this view doesn’t get old (UCLA p/v). I still don’t think I’ve found all the discrepancies between both halves. It looks symetrical but it’s not.

The amazing[ly round] Spiderman

If Spiderman was really this round, I doubt he’d be very agile. Have you seen the latest Spiderman flick? I checked it out with Sean and enjoyed it, but couldn’t wait to hear his critiques afterward. He knows his stuff when it comes to comic books and superheroes (and a lot of other things, too). I find his geekiness quite attractive.

Not the intended audience

Probably because the average wedding costs over $25,000.

Hope this girl is okay. I run through this intersection all the time. Seeing a runner sitting in the intersection is worrying.

I got off the bus last Monday to see this a block from my apartment. It’s rather troubling considering I run/walk through there often. I don’t know what happened, but shortly after I crossed the ambulance arrived. I hope she was okay.

It's like something out of a Kanye video

My ride on the recently opened Expo line a few weeks ago felt like something out of a Kanye video. The guy in the bear mask was with a few other people who were filming and photographing him.

Really glad this guy was born today.

Sean on his birthday. Lots of people celebrated by taking the day off, barbequing and blowing things up.

Day 1: Self portrait while following election results in México. #photoadayjuly

This was my worried look while following elections results coming in from Mexico.

Day 30: made a new friend. He's kinda short.

I visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach for work. It was pretty neat, but not as cool as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I missed the sea turtles.

16. Out and about at Mamá Toni's 90th birthday. #photoaday

My family threw a big party complete with mariachi and birria (of course) to celebrate Mamá Toni’s 90th birthday. She even got a birthday greeting from the President and First Lady. I’m lucky I’ve been able to spend lots of time with my grandparents and gotten to know them.

According to my cousin, Minel has fully embraced the terrible twos.

Minel turned two recently. According to my cousin, he’s fully embraced the terrible part of those years.

Mom and sister hiking up in the Angeles National Forest. We started our hike at Chantry Flats. Don't know the name of the trail.

My sister invited me on a hike in the Angeles National Forest with her and my mom. We started off at Chantry Flats (entering from Arcadia) and then did an easy 4 mile loop.


T-minus two months

Two months. That number worries me despite the fact that wedding planning has been pretty smooth so far. Sure, I fret about the numbers, but overall the decisions on the big stuff have been pretty easy.

From here on out Sean and I will need to make a lot of decisions about the small things. How will I wear my hair? What will the cupcakes look like? How will we structure the day? Where will we take pictures following the ceremony? The last one is a headache. I’ll explain later.

We’ve been getting a lot done lately:


We received our invitations two weeks ago. Over the next couple of days we updated the mailing list, printed labels and spent several hours stuffing envelopes and applying labels and stamps. We decided to keep it simple and leave off a second envelope and a separate enclosure for information on accommodations. We printed that on the back of the invite. 

invite process

I love the final product (looks better in person and not with my bad kitchen lighting). Noma did an amazing job both designing the invitations and being the contact person with the printer. She helped us find an affordable printer and even got us a discount.

We hand delivered some local invitations on the 4th and  placed the bulk of them in the mail on Thursday. My parents and grandparents delivered more by hand on visits to family. By Monday, we began to receive our first reply cards. We’ve had a couple of surprises, but most of the yeses were expected as were the few nos. 

Mini carrot cupcakes

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do with the cake or cupcakes. Mainly, I needed to decide if I was going to use a custom-made cupcake stand my mom borrowed from a friend, Mrs. G. The five-tiered cupcake stand was made for Mrs. G’s son’s wedding in 2009. It holds up to 300 cupcakes and a small cake on top. I liked the stand, but insisted that we change the damask pattern. It’s nice, but doesn’t fit our colors. Last week, my mom and I went shopping in Downtown LA’s garment district. We found navy blue fabric and an appropriate trim. 

 Camera Roll-132

My mom finally chose a dress. (Not this one.) She looked for a couple of months and went to several stores. She’s easily the pickiest member of the bridal party. We found a dress during our downtown shopping trip. 

Wreath for flower girls

Our two flower girls and ring bearer are set. I still need to choose dresses and accessories for the girls. 

Wine for the reception

Sean and I took advantage of BevMo’s wine sale. We might have missed it if not for a reminder from my brother. We ordered online and picked it up in a rental from U-Haul. It’s currently being stored at my parents’ house. After buying 21 boxes of wine, Sean said he could understand why some couples might do a cash bar or have a dry wedding. Sort of. He doesn’t believe in dry weddings or cash bars. At least we got a great deal. Half the bottles we purchased cost us a nickel. 

We still need to buy beer, water and other non-alcoholic drinks. 

I'm a Chicana. I was made to pose next to bombs (old school cars).

In the works. I’ve been to a couple friends’ weddings where they forego the traditional limousine in favor of a “bomb” (restored cars from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s). I love this look and think the backdrop of a beautiful old car would be great for some photos. I’ve found a car club that does rentals, but need to officially book them. Sean has looked in to booking transportation for the wedding party and out of town guests. The best price we’ve found came from a company referred to by friends. 

I feel like we’ve done a lot recently, but know there’s many more items on our to-do list. At least my mom and sister have a bit more free time during the summer.


New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1 progress

Fitness stuff for the home

I can’t do a push-up. No, I don’t mean the modified kind where you drop down on your knees, but the kind I’d need to do if I was in the military. Let’s pause for a moment so I can hang my head in shame.

Six weeks ago, I would’ve felt no shame admitting this. However, that was before a strength training plan designed to get me to “lift heavy” and build muscle.

I completed stage one of the The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW) last Saturday with the second of the bonus workouts. Stage one consists of two alternating workouts, A and B, done 8 times each. From workout 1 to workout 8, I grew much stronger and looked forward to each workout. I was excited to get back in the gym, put on my gloves and make more notations in my makeshift workout journal. Overall, I’m happy with my progress (see below for numbers), but there are a couple downsides.

After stage 1 of New Rules of Lifting for Women

The good stuff:
I’m definitely stronger and lifting heavy (for me).

I can see and feel the muscle growing in my arms, legs, back, etc. If I flex, I actually have something to show.

The workouts don’t take long. If I didn’t have to wait for any equipment, I could get a warm-up and workout done in 45 minutes or less.

I really like protein shakes and look forward to them after a workout. I use the CytoSport vanilla whey protein from Costco.

I’d feel stronger if I could actually do more than one or two push-ups. My 30 degree angled push-ups against a bench are pretty weak.

My gym is not that big. When crowded, it took me a few minutes to find the dumbbells I needed or I had to wait for someone else to finish with them. Sometimes I couldn’t find what I needed and lifted lighter than capable (in that case I added reps). The NROLW book offers at-home modifications, but I preferred the gym.

I’ve gained weight and some of my clothes fit tighter especially in the upper body. That purple dress was not that tight last time I wore it 9 months ago. My brother and Sean say the extra pounds are muscle. I’d like to believe them, but it’s still messes with my head to see the numbers on the scale go up when I’ve been working out almost every single day. To be fair, the book offers a meal plan with recipes, but I haven’t used them or tried cutting calories (not recommended in the book). Otherwise, the main difference in my diet is adding the protein shakes.

I don’t feel like I’m working my “problem areas” enough. The workouts are designed to work major muscle groups and not focus on something like just triceps or butt. I’d like to add in some specific tricep moves to help tone up my jiggly arms.

Workout notes

Workout A
Squats: I did these at home with 10# dumbbells. I probably started too light since I worked up to 85# on the squat rack. For the bonus workout with as many reps as possible without rest, I did 31 squats with original start weight of 10# dumbbells.

Push-ups: I started with a modified 45 degree push-up against my kitchen table. The authors don’t want you on your knees so they suggest wall push-ups, 45 degree push-ups, 30 degree and then flat. As you get stronger, you should drop down lower. Around workout 5, I dropped to 30 degrees; those are tough. Bonus workout: 21 push-ups (45 degree).

Seated rows: I began with 8 or 10# dumbbells at home (bent over), but won’t count those. I tried 30# in the gym, that was too easy. My real start was 40 and I worked up to 75. I could barely complete 7 (of 8) reps with 75#. The weights on the row machine increase from 60 to 75, and no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find the small 5# weights. Bonus workout: 17 rows at 50# (forgot I started lighter).

Step-ups: I left these out of the initial workout, because I misread what was included. My start was 10# and I worked up to 25# (fewer reps, more sets). My only adjustment to the difficulty was the dumbbells. I might start with a higher step for stage 2. Bonus workout: 50 with 8# (again, forgot I started with 10#).

Prone jackknifes: I left these out too, since you do alternating sets with step-ups. I worked up from 8 to being able to complete a full set of 15. I probably should have done them on the same size stability ball every time for a better measure of my improvement. Bonus workout: 20 jackknifes.

Workout B
Deadlift: I started out just lifting the 45# bar. I worked up to 75#. Bonus workout: 31 deadlifts at 45#.

Shoulder press: 10 to 15# dumbbells. I could have lifted a couple pounds more than 15, but the dumbbells go from 15 to 20 and the 20 were too heavy for me to do a full set. Bonus workout: 20 with 10# dumbbells.

Wide-grip lat pull-pown: Started at 30, found that was too easy so 40 would be my initial baseline. I worked up to 60#. Bonus workout: 31 reps with 40#.

Lunges: Started with 10# dumbbells, went up to 20#. These left me really sore initially and I even had to cut out reps or a set in the first workouts because they were painful. I did one workout without weights to not aggravate my glutes. Bonus workout: 21 lunges with 10#.

Swiss-ball crunch: The first workout called for 8 reps, I did 15 for one set, 8 for the next. I later made them tougher by holding a 10# plate and did 25 reps. Bonus workout: 50 crunches (no weight).