Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living Intentionally: Gifting (Tlaquepaque) Memories

My favorite guy in the world celebrated his birthday some days ago and for the first time in my life I was not remotely worried about what to gift him, it was without any doubt the best birthday that we have spent together and If you ask me what has changed I would say that all relies in last year's decision to start living intentionally.

What does Living Intentionally means?

I found this simple and concise definition that can help explaining it:  
Living intentionally is knowing why you do what you do and why you don’t do what you don’t do.

In past years I remember that birthdays were all about the presents, the cake, the people that would be invited, the piƱata and the party flavors, I would be worried about being able to keep all the details secret, but somehow I realized that these celebrations were about a number of things except making a special day for the one being honored, take my boyfriend for instance, he's a very loving guy that enjoys hanging with our friends but if I ask him in advance, he'd always prefer to have the two of us doing something special instead of throwing a huge party.

Tlaquepaque here we go.

This year I (intentionally) decided to gift him memories instead of things (although he also got an amazon gift card hahaha) so we had a little vacation in Tlaquepaque, which is only 20 kilometers far from our house.

Tlaquepaque's name derives from Nahuatl and means "place above clay land". 

This charming city is famous for its pottery and blown glass and even when its downtown is very small there are a lot of things to see: Leather, ceramic, glass and wood Craft workshops, the Ceramic Museum,  El Refugio Cultural center,  galleries, restaurants, churches, candy stores and the very famous "Parian" where you can listen to mariachis while you eat regional dishes and drink a glass of horchata.

If you are visiting during the weekend you will be able to see the Papantla Flyers at Hidalgo Garden and please don't forget to stop over the market (specially if you plan to buy souvenirs)

We stayed at a cozy boutique hotel and planned to stay as much time as possible in the pool but as it turned out to be too cold to dive in, we spent most of our 2 days there walking, sightseeing, taking pictures and just enjoying the sunny days together, awww, definitely the best-birthday-ever!

Wouldn't you love to come visit Tlaquepaque?


Monday, October 19, 2015

DIY: 3 Simple Scrapbook Recipes (for lazy/busy people)

remember taking pictures here and there since I was a little kid, my sister had one of those Playskool cameras and we would be taking pictures non stop (even if there was not roll inside), I also remember losing a number of memories the day I got robbed and my camera and USBs were gone with years and years of travels and moments inside.

Since that happened I become very crazy in terms of pictures-backup procedures, I was intended to avoid losing a single pic and started saving copies in USB Memories/HDDs but then one of my USBs got broken and I just panic again, how could I assure the security of my beloved pictures? (and please remember that this was before Instagram times)

I started thinking in the old pictures that I have in my possession and realized that even when there was no guarantee it was definitely more secure to avoid losing a picture that actually exist, instead of a digital file that will probably get lost in zillions of folders in a computer... that is how I started scrapbooking!

These are 3 of the simplest recipes for scrapbooking

Supplies needed:

-Photo album
-Your computer 
-Printer (not featured in the pic)
-Your HDD/USB memory with pictures 
-Photo protectors (full page/ mixed format)
-Photo paper

Recipe #1 Full Page Collage

This is probably the easiest from the 3:
1) Using paint, Photoshop or any application for picture edition create a "canvas" adjusted to fit your photo paper size (the most common is 8.5*11IN)

2) Start adding pictures to your canvas, some bigger than the others without too much overlap between them and trying to keep an harmonious palette color.

3)Print it, get it inside the full page photo protector and place it within the photo album.

Below is one full page collage I created from our Moroccan trip:

Recipe # 2 Standard size photo pockets

For this method you first need to analyze your photo protectors: what size are the photo pockets and what's the orientation of the picture (portrait or landscape)

The photo protectors that I found have 3 4*6 IN pockets but only one of them was ladscape orientated and the other 2 were portrait oriented.

This is my least favorite recipe but it's the cheapest/ easiest in terms of photo printing because 4*6IN is the most common picture size so you can get lots of photo prints in Costco/Sams Club and just fill all photo pockets.

Below is another page that I created from the same Moroccan trip:

Recipe # 3 Mixed sizes/techniques

This is my favorite method but it's also the most complex, I used different photo pages layouts: 3*4IN , 3*3IN, etc and mixed photo pockets.
1) Analyze your photo pages and get the total number of photo pockets to fill.

2) Make a list of the pictures to print and decide how you want to put them together creating small collages for some photo pockets ( for instance if you have a 4*3IN pocket you can create a collage putting together 2 pics in a 2*3IN size)

3) Create you canvas in paint/Photoshop fitting the size of your photo paper and then start adding there the pictures adjusted to the printing size, try to accommodate as much pictures as possible by page to avoid wasting paper.

4) Once printed cut them with scissors and put inside the photo pockets, after completed keep moving pictures from one pocket to the other until you are satisfied with the result.

Below is an example of a page created with this technique from a recent travel:

Bonus recipe: Adding some flavor

This last recipe is a mix of number 3 with stickers, colorful paper and fun captions.

For this technique you will be filling some photo pockets with whatever material you have and embellishing your pics with labels and stickers as shown below:

It feels so good to have my pictures in an album that I just started Sunday's scrapbook sessions, it's also a very nice way to relax before starting the week at the office.
Which scrapbook recipe would you try?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Michoacan: 4 cities & 3 islands (2/2)

It looks like this trip was months ago and it has not passed a completed month, that is how time flies (when you're having fun).

In the first part of this travel blog there was Morelia, Patzcuaro and Janitzio, but there are still 2 more cities and 2 more islands to cover:

City #3: Tzintzuntzan

Just 20 minutes far from Patzcuaro is this small city, which is surrounded by the regional lake.

This is a very charming town where the most famous attraction is the archaeological zone where there are "Yacatas", a Yacata is a pyramidal construction where the local tribe called Purepechas used to live, having been found vestiges of temples and houses.

I remember coming here with my family and playing with my brother and sister jumping between rocks but that is not allowed any more (boo) you can instead appreciate the nice view of the entire town and the lake, breathtaking!

City # 4 Santa Clara del Cobre

After all these years I finally went to Santa Clara del Cobre, which is an even smaller town of copper artisans.

If you go there you'll be able to visit copper workshops, the regional museum and if you got lucky as we got you'd probably get to meet Abdon Punzo who is a local hero, an extremely creative artisan which work has been exposed and recognized locally and internationally but who keeps being a nice humble guy and welcomed us in his house.

So please forgive the blurry picture, we were in a fandom moment.

Island # 2 La Pacanda

I have to be really honest here, these pictures are a representation of all that we saw of Pacanda, it's such a small island with only a few families living there that we felt it would be intrusive from us to get there in our boat to explore, by the other hand, if you are looking for a calm, quiet place this is a great choice (I know you are taking notes Leo DiCaprio)

Island #3 Yunuen

I've been told to visit this island for some time now and all of the sudden I just become one of these obnoxious people myself: you must visit it!

This is a pretty little island that has a restaurant and a small hotel at the peak where you can just smell the purest air and just feel an immense sense of relaxation.

It's interesting because the moment you put your foot here you get this relaxing vibe, then you realize that besides of the weather and the pure air, the locals are the next best thing: kids will go and get flowers to welcome the people arriving (that's why I'm holding flowers in some of the pictures)

A boat was arriving at the same time as we did and it was surreal to see how this family that went to Patzcuaro's shopping center to buy the groceries for the week took a "ride" in a boat to get back to the island then needed to walk up the island to reach their home, I was watching them while thinking that sometimes I get hungry and just stay like that just because I'm too lazy to get to the kitchen...yeap, a good reality check.

And that was the end of our little tour, just thinking about it puts a big smile in my face, going to these places that I used to visit when I was little but now having this handsome travel partner, not a bad plan at all, right?

Monday, October 5, 2015

DIY: Flower Curtains

I recently discovered that I suffer from "Globophobia" (a fear of ballons), is not like I'm afraid of being attacked by them or something like that but I've always believed that ballons are a representation of polution just by being made of plastic, I also think of them as lethal weapons for little kids and sea animals (not sure how this phobia started so far I don't have any ballon-related fatality to report)

Having said that you can imagine that I'm not the happiest person when we plan to decorate someone's cubicle for birthday celebrations and all that I hear are balloons  here & there.

They say that if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem so I decided to find another way to decorate for a dear friend's special day without using balloons at all creating instead a beautiful (easy) flower curtain.

Supplies needed:
-A bouquet of your favorite flower (the one in the picture produced 2 curtains)
-Xacto knife
-Floral tape 
-Elastic transparent thread (can be found in any jewelry supply store) 

*Please ignore the cord string in the picture, that was our first thought but didn't work.

Let's get this done:
1)Take each flower and cut the stems below the leaves.

2) Put together groups of 3 stems and make a braid with them securing the ends with the floral tape. These will be the curtain poles, we only did 2 poles because of the space that we had to decorate but you can go crazy and create as much as possible.
Try to keep the braid a little loose because we'll need to be able to pass the thread through the pole.

3) Cut elastic threads as long as you want your curtain to be, we did ours of 4-5 inches but we keep them "spontaneous" by having some shorter/longer and them mixing them.
Tie one end of the thread to the flower just below the receptacle. (Sorry for the blurry picture)

4) Place your flowers over the pole and decide on the arrangement, once you are happy with the flower's positions tie the other thread end to one of the stems in the pole.

5) Raise it to check that threads are secured and that flowers are nicely placed

And you are done!
This is one of ours temporarily decorating my couch:As I did these one night before the big day I put all the flowers in little containers with enough water to cover the little stems, they were still fresh in the morning looking even better than the night before.

Give it a try, it's easier than it looks, your friend will be delighted and there won't be damaged animals or risked kids
(Did I forget to mention that these are gluten-free? Hehe)
Do you have any weird phobia (like mine) that you can share so we can all feel weird together?