Monthly Archives: November 2008

Thanksgiving Notes


This Thanksgiving, my husband and I ate at my mother’s house.  I brought two pies and a recipe that I made last year.  My husband is seeing if indeed he has celiac disease like his brother does.  So, for the past couple of months he has been eating gluten-free.  That means no wheat products.  Ironically, my husband’s name is Wheat (it’s a family name).

Now, I was able to find a very nice (and very expensive) gluten-free pie crust from Whole Foods.  With those, I made Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie and the Karo Syrup Pecan Pie.  Below are the recipes

LIBBY’S® Famous Pumpkin Pie
Estimated Times: Preparation – 15 min | Cooking – 55 min | Cooling Time – 2 hrs cooling | Yields – 8 servings

* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 2 large eggs
* 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
* 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
* 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
* Whipped cream (optional)

1.  MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
2.  POUR into pie shell.
3.  BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

NOTES:  1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different. Do not freeze, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

FOR 2 SHALLOW PIES: substitute two 9-inch (2-cup volume) pie shells. Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (3,500 to 6,000 ft.): Deep-dish pie- extend second bake time to 55 to 60 minutes. Shallow pies- no change.

Karo Syrup Pecan Pie recipe – from the Karo Light Corn Syrup label (the link to the Karo Syrup website was wonky, and the recipe was different, so I just went ahead and preserved the one on the label)

1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) pecans
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pastry shell

High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir the first 5 ingredients thoroughly using a spoon.  Mix in pecans.
3. Pour into pie crust.
4. Bake on center rack of oven for 55-60 minutes.  Cool for 2 hours.

Tips: Pie is done when the center reaches 200 degrees F. Tap center surface of pie lightly; it should spring back when done.  If pie crust is over-browning, cover edges with foil.

I thought about making Paul Prudhomme’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, but ran out of crusts.  Lucky for me, I went to a pie social at my husband’s church Wednesday night and was able to have that and some mince meat pie.  Now my pie cravings are complete – until Christmas.

Last year, I found a recipe for a side dish made with carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  It was a hit, so I made it again.  Lucky for me, I had it on my hard drive, because it is no longer at the url where I found it!

Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Mash

3 large carrots, peeled and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
1 small (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place a roasting pan in the oven and preheat for about 10 minutes. Combine the diced carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash and garlic in a large bowl. Toss well with olive oil.
3. Transfer the oiled vegetables to the hot preheated roasting pan.  Shake the pan to spread the vegetables evenly in the bottom of the pan.
4.  Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast the vegetables without stirring for about 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables and roast until tender, checking after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes. It could take up to 30 minutes for the vegetables to reach tenderness.
5. At this point, you can transfer the roasted vegetables to a large bowl and mash well, or you can use a ricer to rice vegetables into a large bowl. Add the whipping cream and butter and mix well.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Transfer to a warm serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Makes 6 servings. This recipe can easily be doubled to yield more servings.

Mom made a reasonably sized roast turkey and three kinds of (gluten-free) cornbread stuffing:  one in the turkey, one with oysters, and one without oysters.  She also made green beans (not company beans), and pecan and apple pies.  Woo hoo!


Viva Zapata!


No, I haven’t been totally lazy while I’ve been on vacation.  I have been half-heartedly cleaning house.  So far, I have cleaned the bedroom surfaces and dusted and folded clothes.  My husband is supposed to vaccuum and movivazapatamilagroforwordpressp, but he’s been sick, so apparently he cannot clean house.  No comment.

I have not yet unpacked my laserjet printer, and we are now at the halfway point, holiday-wise.  I had been meaning to print out a whole lot of images I have stored on my laptop.  In particular, those heart ex votos and milagros I have been collecting for a year or so now.  I have yet to come up with a really organized filing system for the images.  I am sure I have duplicates of many of them.  And, truth be told, some of the designs are different by maybe one element.

Earlier, I tried putting them in files according to what shape they were and if they were silver-colored or painted.  Then, I just went ahead and filed them according to the source where they were found.  I don’t feel bad about copying the various images and designs because I do not plan on going into the ex-voto or tin ornament business.  The designs provide inspiration for my own creations.

Last night, I created a new heart “blank” and decided to work on an Emiliano Zapata theme.  I really like how it came out.  Now, you can see a little bit of his gun, and of course there are his bullet vests, but it’s not as violent as many of the Zapata t-shirts I’ve seen worn by my students.  In our school, of course now we have uniforms, but before that, we had restrictions on what sort of images could not be worn to school.  Those were mainly any reference to alcohol, tobacco, weapons, sex, or gang symbolism.

Because I am a connoisseur of t-shirt art, I often would notice things that were not notices all day by other teachers.  Such as:

  • a drunken Chihuahua saying “yo quiero tequila”
  • “homies” pouring a beer bottle onto a compadre’s grave
  • scantily clad women on low riders OR being carried away by Aztec warriors
  • Scarface carrying a pistol AND a cigar
  • Soccer fan t-shirts with beer ads on them
  • Zapata, riding a horse, carrying a shotgun (with the support of the Virgin of Guadalupe, of course)

Whenever I would call a student on the Zapata t-shirt, I would explain that we had no problems with the Revolution or with Mr. Emiliano and his friends.  Then I would point out that it was the GUN that cannot be worn to school.

Now, you may be thinking I am being nit-picky about this, but years ago the school secretary pointed out that I was wearing an inappropriate shirt.  I was dumbfounded.  I had purchased the shirt when my husband and I visited the Salvador Dali museum in Florida.  It was a painting called “Lively Still Life” – I think.  The object that was “objectional” was the knife, floating in the air.

So, please visit my Milagros CafePress shop to see the items available.  I think I am going to work on a Christmas t-shirt/card design next.

In My Pantry


What is in my pantry? Well, although I have not inherited my father’s tendency to hoard cans of vegetables, (I think he either forgets that he has 5 cans of tomatoes already OR the canned tomatoes were such a GREAT deal that he could not pass them up!) I do have my own peculiarities. I accumulate and collect foreign spice packets.

I shop at a lot of great markets in Atlanta – the Buford Highway Farmers Market, in particular – and I can spend hours in the aisles trying to figure out what in the heck some of those things are! I am particularly drawn to the Indian, Asian, and Indonesian aisles, because they have such interesting dishes. Whereas I would be loath to pick up, say, a package of Hamburger Helper, I do not hesitate at all to pick up an Indonesian spice packet to fry chicken livers in.

Do I have any chicken livers on hand? No, but I may want to cook some one day.

Here’s my inventory as of last night –

Chinese – Sun Bird Egg Drop Soup Mix

From the Phillipines – Mama Sita’s Website has many interesting recipes – a bit of Chino-Latino, if you will
Mama Sita’s Stew Base Mix (Pang Kare-Kare)
Mama Sita’s Tamarind Seasoning Mix (Pang Sinigang sa Sampalok)
Mama Sita’s Guava Soup Base Mix (Pang Sinigang sa Bayabas)
Mama Sita’s Spicy Sauce Mix (Caldereta)

I picked up a bunch of Blue Dragon sauce packets a couple of weeks ago to make stir fry
Blue Dragon Oyster & Spring Onion Stir Fry Sauce
Blue Dragon Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce
Blue Dragon Chop Suey Stir Fry Sauce
Blue Dragon Chow Mein Stir Fry Sauce
Blue Dragon Royal Thai Yellow Curry Cooking Sauce – Discontinued.  (Hmmm, maybe I bought these a little longer than a few weeks ago…) Here is a recipe for yellow curry paste.  My hope is that it’s a little milder than the Thai Red or Green, which Blue Dragon still makes.

Korean Curry Paste (I think) – Ottogi Curry (mild)

I love the Indonesian aisle:
Bamboe Indonesian Lodeh
Indofood Sambal Goreng Ati (Gizzards in Chili and Coconut Gravy) – This, I have actually made with chicken livers.  Not bad.
Asian Home Gourmet Indonesian Sambal Stir Fry
Asian Home Gourmet Singapore Laksa (Coconut Curry Noodles)

I really like the jarred simmer sauces that are now pretty common for Indian food, but I cannot resist the packets – most are pastes.
Shan Liver Curry Mix
Kitchens of India Paste for Lamb Curry
Kitchens of India Paste for Hyderabadi Biryan

At Cost Plus World Market, there is a great variety of sauces as well – good source for Moroccan:
Al Fez Moroccan Flavor Stir Fry Spice and Sauce – this has a jar of paste included in the little box
Amora Goutez le Monde Tajine a la marocaine – I bought this in France… three years ago.
Kashi Moroccan Curry – I love Kashi, and this packet is good to go when I break the seal.

Russian Spices – This was the most hilarious.  Buford Highway Farmers Market is expanding to attract the Eastern European population here in Atlanta, so they have recently added a whole wing of a cuisine that I have not explored.  I picked up some packets a couple of weeks ago (seriously) and I remembered that one of them was for goulash, but forgot what the other was.  The pictures on the front of the packet were not clear enough, so I spent, oh, maybe an hour at the manufacturer’s website trying to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet so that I could link to the packets themselves.

You are welcome.

Seasoning for Goulash – and here are two recipes I may try.  This one, you make in the slow cooker and this one is supposed to be authentic.  See what I mean: Russian Hamburger Helper!
Seasoning for PelmenisPelmenis are like little Russian raviolis and there are many MANY recipes for them.  Here is one recipe I found that looks like it would go with my sauce.

That’s all for now – I think I will go and get something to make crock pot goulash with!



Yay! I did it! I mean that I got the imbedded video thing to work – not just that I went to Ikea today.

I’ve been to Ikea before…

I haven’t been there in a while, though. This morning, I got there at around opening time: 10AM. As I wound my way around the store, I found all sorts of inspiration. I think I found a table that I would like to have in my future studio. It’s about 3 feet high and really large. I like it because I can either stand over it, or use a high stool to sit and work there. I found a lot of things that would make my work space happier – I even found a table with a built in light table on it!

I looked at the bed frames and mattresses, too. It’s about time we got a new mattress. And I have been considering the same for my bed frame. I have had the same bed since I was in grade school – it’s a standard double bed iron frame which has been painted blue, then white, then off white and now, gun metal gray. It’s a fine bed, but it is difficult to sit in bed an read – there are five thin rails at the head of the bed and they are spaced just far enough apart for my head to slip in between them. Time for a more solid headboard. And maybe a little bit more space…

Most of the styles at Ikea are incompatible with our home decor, which is basically a (tasteful) hodgepodge of inherited furniture. Both of my husband’s parents are deceased, so we got much furniture from them. The few pieces I brought with me were a dresser, an armoire, and the aforementioned bed. We actually did buy some things ourselves, including a lovely hand painted TV cabinet and a large china cabinet, and a sofa… Anyhoo… whenever I visit Ikea and see how one could live so comfortably in such a small space, I am inspired to sell everything and start all over again, living simply and being impeccably organized.

Yeah, well…

This time, I bought a lap desk for my laptop, some trial containers to see if I want to purchase more for my kitchen and office, cheap knives, a spatula, paint brushes, and some chocolate toffee candy. I left my cell phone in the car and was most of the way through the store before I realized it. I assumed it was around noon when I decided to check out. When I got to the car, it was almost 1:30! I had been there over THREE hours!

Enjoy the video – I love that Jonathan Coulton.

Sold! One Frida Kahlo Shrine Frame


As of late, I had gotten out of the habit of updating my Etsy site and of putting things on EBay to auction.  So, this week I started to work on that.  I had the pictures – my husband took themil_fullxfull44562565 a month ago.  I just needed to crunch them down and put them up.  After two days in my Etsy shop, one of my newest shrines has just sold!

This is a Frida Kahlo postcard framed in one of my exclusive wooden shrine frames. I was experimenting with putting different ornaments on the tops of my shrines.  I had this really nice flourish hanging around, so I glued it on there.  It is painted a bright red-orange and embellished with wood appliques that are accented in yellow. The top crest sports a 3-D butterfly – a Punch Studio sticker – and there are butterflies on the insides of the doors. The image is under glass and surrounded by a coordinated border and sequins. The front doors have two more wooden appliques and I have added jewels to the door handles.

So, I am plugging away, trying to get things up for sale.  Christmas is coming up, and I want to make sure that I have enought moolah to buy gifts!  I also may be visiting a friend who just got a fellowship to work in Johannesburg, South Africa starting in January.  That’s a long shot, but I am trying to think of it in terms of items sold – that would be about $1500 for airfare alone – so that’s gonna take some selling!

La Llorona


I often think of ideas a little too late.  Now, for Day of the Dead,  I was right on time (for this year) with the faux sugar skulls we made last week.  During some of my down time, I was looking through one of my many MANY story books I have bought over the past couple of years.  In two of my books, The Day It Snowed Tortillas and Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys, there were two different stories about La Llorona.  I mentioned her to my students, and they were ready to jump in with information and second-hand accounts. It occurred to me that we could read the stories I had found together.

Then, two things happened:  I hit Google for research and I attended a short session about using Thinking Maps.  I realized that there are more than one account of the Legend of La Llorona and thought that my classes could do some activities using some of the mind maps I now had.  So, tomorrow, I am going to break my classes into groups of two or three and attempt the first activity.

First, we are going to use a Circle Map, which is used to help define a thing or idea. It is used to brainstorm ideas and for showing prior knowledge about a topic.  I have one class of 10 students in particular that this is meant for.  Half of the students in the class are Mexican.  The remaining students are Brazilian (4) and African (1).  I plan on pairing up the Mexicans with the non-Mexicans and having them discuss all that they know or have heard about the Legend of La Llorona.  I have some questions to help them with their brainstorming:

  1. Who is La Llorona?
  2. What does she do?
  3. Why does she do this?
  4. What does she look like?
  5. Where does she hang out?
  6. Do you know of any sightings of La Llorona?
  7. Are there any similar stories that you have heard? (This is for students from other cultures)

After we have discussed what they have found out, I plan on having the students watch the video clip I found from Hometown Tales.  I also have an audio clip from NPR about the story and the song of La Llorona.  That is about 10 minutes, barring technical difficulties.  If I have time tonight, I will come up with some “guiding questions” to keep them focused.  I have a couple of other audio and video clips, but I may wait to use those later.  I may also see if I can find a translation of the Spanish lyrics to the song.

Day Two, we will split up again into groups.  I will give each group different versions of the legend that I have found.  They will read them aloud to each other, and then create a Flow Map on chart paper of the plot of the story that they have.  I can even have different classes do different versions.  I will put the different charts up for comparison.  Later, we can use a Double Bubble Map or a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast different stories.

That’s all I have for now.  Other days could include personal accounts, alternate versions of the story where La Llorona is not a killer.

Below is a list of the resources I have found so far on the Internet.

General information: – includes versions of the legend in other Latin American countries.
Handbook of Texas Online
University of Texas resource – great article with illustrations
Legends of America – legends,different Southwest versions, and personal accounts
The Many Legends of La Llorona by C. F. Eckhardt
From Ambergris Cay – Belize legends
The Legend of La Llorona – PDF of a great article by Paul Harden.  Also includes Modern Day La Lloronas…

La – this is the website for The Cry, which was a movie made about La Llorona in 2006 or 2007.  Included is a “timeline” of La Llorona, which seems to me to be a little “Blair Witch” -ish. There is a list of Modern Day La Lloronas – or women who have killed their children (lovely!), similar stories from history and other cultures.  I haven’t looked at the interviews and personal accounts yet, but it looks interesting.

Online versions of the story:
The Joe Hayes version
The Lee Paul version
Another version by Robert Paul Medrano
Two short versions from Spooky Southwest
Mexican version from Aleina Domecq translated by Ilan Stavans – border/coyote story
Obiwan’s UFO-Free Paranormal Page – has several versions of the story, including a German version.  Also, an interesting version with a twist – La Llorona’s bargain with the Devil!
Version by Paulette Atencio
Another Version by storyteller Mary Grace – actually, this is very similar to the Lois Lowery leveled reader
Mexico City Style Story – just found this one last night!
The Wheel Council – with counseling notes for discussion

Rudolfo Anaya:
In addition to the children’s book, Maya’s Children: The Legend of La Llorona, Rudolfo Anaya has short novel called The Legend of La LloronaHere is a lesson plan unit on La Llorona based on this book.  There is even a three act opera version that Anaya helped to adapt.

What’s in a Song?: It’s Mourning in America – this is NPR piece about the folk song.  It is pretty awesome!  There is a narrator that sings the song in the background and also explains the legend.  Also available at Western Folk Life.  It runs 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

La Llorona: An Evolving Myth – A special collaboration between National Radio Project and the U-C Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, student producer Beth Hoffman brings us a look at the myth of La Llorona as told in Oakland, California today, and tells how its meaning has grown and changed over time. It runs 29 minutes and may not keep the attention of some students. – instrumental version of song La Llorona

The Compulsive Traveler – Lila Downs performs La Llorona.  The version is a little slow – it’s not supposed to be an upbeat song…  The Video has images of the artist singing, superimposed on landscapes.  Is she supposed to be La Llorona?  It’s also over 5 minutes long.

Hometown Tales: The Legend of La Llorona – An interesting short piece about the legend in Santa Fe, NM.  It was not easy to find a version that is not on YouTube, which is blocked by our school’s firewall.  About 6 minutes long.

Children’s Books:
Prietita and The Ghost Woman by Gloria Anzaldua and Maya Christina Gonzalez.  A kinder, gentler Llorona… Includes an MP3 of a little girl reading the story.

The Day it Snowed Tortillas by Joe Hayes and Antonio Castro Lopez- has a short version of the La Llorona story as well as a sighting story. Cinco Puntos Publishing also puts out The Legend of La Llorona, an illustrated solo book of the story and Two Scary Folktales: La Llorona vs El Cucuy on Audio CD.

The Tale of La Llorona by Linda Lowery, Richard Keep, and Janice Lee Porter- from a leveled reading series called On My Own Folklore – Lexile Level is 460.

Maya’s Children: The Story of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya and Maria Baca.

My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande by Rudolfo Anaya and Amy Cordova- anthology that includes a version called Lupe and La Llorona.

Mexican Ghost Tales of the Southwest: Stories and Illustrations by Alfred Avila and Kat Avila. This version has La Llorona offing her kids because they keep asking for food…

Little Herman Meets La Llorona by Judith S. Beatty, Edward G. Kraul, and Jose Gomez.

La Llorona: Encounters With the Weeping Woman by Judith S. Beatty

Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys by Xavier Garza – Has two La Llorona stories – one a legend and one a sighting.

I Heart Hearts…


little-montgolfier-for-blog This is a touched up copy of a collage I planned and executed last weekend.  It may sound cheesy, but I am very attracted to making hearts. I started out making valentines when I was in college – cutting out magazine pictures and putting them on top of heart doilies.  Pretty simple.

A couple of years ago, I made many black and white valentines out of images that I found on the internet and collaged to look relatively seamless.  My first shop was made up of colored versions of my designs.  You can see them here.  One day, I will compile a book or coloring book from the black and white images.  I also had a lot of fun making large tableaux on 11 by 17 sheets of typing paper.

At the end of the last school year, I started “collecting” ex votos and tin ornaments in the shape of hearts.  I have found so many different designs, and they serve a inspiration for another of my shops, Milagros.  I scan in my line drawn designs and use Photoshop to add color and details.  Right now, I have designs with the Virgin of Guadalupe, Frida Kahlo, Jesus, La Sirena, and La Adelita.

Now, I am collecting stencils and shapes to use to create those same heart designs in collage.  A lot of what I’ve done lately have been hand-cut, but I did make stencils out of cardstock to recreate this design. It was a whole project wherein I blew up the design in Microsoft Publisher and pieced together a poster.  Then, I used that as a reference for the shapes I needed for my stencil.  Fun, huh?  One day, maybe I will put together a stencil set so others can make their own!

NaNoWriMo – No?


I know that I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year.  I have even ordered a whole bunch of books – it’s what I do!  I get all excited about a project, order books, search for resources on the Internet, think about it, then don’t do it.

This time, I realized that I have so many other things that I could be doing that would finish up other plans I have made.  I could:

  • Write in my blog consistently for all 30 days of NaNoWriMo…
  • Put items up on E-Bay that I’ve had made for weeks
  • Grade papers (I’m just joking!  Who wants to do that?)
  • Make one collage per day for 30 days
  • Trace one heart ex voto pattern per day for 30 days
  • Walk 30 minutes a day for 30 days…
  • Write a letter a day for 30 days

Those are just a few things that come to mind.  Still, NaNoWriMo is so awesome.  They have even come up with a Young Writers Program, complete with “Not Lame” Workbooks and other resources.  There is a PDF for elementary, middle, and high school novelists.  It would be so cool, but I don’t think my students could handle it.  Maybe one day I will try it with a class.

So, this past weekend, I did finish a collage.  I am trying out a new adhesive called Yes! – it’s a paste.  So far, I like it a lot.  I will post pictures later of the finished piece.