Coco's Blog

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 07:05

Que Es "Green"?

Dish SoapWhile at the grocery store a few days ago a conversation between two young girls and an older women caught my attention. I assume that they were all probably related.  The conversation caught my attention because one of the young girls (she may have been around 12 years old) was translating English product labels for the older women.

The older women looked at her grocery list and asked the young girl in Spanish to get her dish soap. The girl looked at the various brands and pointed to one and said “este” (this one).  She grabbed the bottle and read the label out loud in English, something about the soap being a "green" product – it was the same brand I had in my shopping cart too.  The women asked the girl “Y que es eso?” (What's that?).

The girl proceeded to tell her that “green” is "no tiene cosas malas” (it doesn’t have bad stuff).  The women asked her what kind of bad stuff she was talking about.  The young girl said that she wasn’t sure, but that “green” products are better to use.  The women shrugged her arms and asked “Ok, y cuanto?” (how much is it?). The girl read the price - $2.99 per bottle - but she added that they were on sale….buy 2 get 1 free.  The women asked the girl if she thought the soap would clean well, the girl responded that she thought it would.  They put the 3 dish soap bottles in their cart.

This interaction reminded me of my childhood.  I remember going to the grocery store with my mom and having to read the English product labels and then translating them into Spanish for her.   What truly caught my attention was that the young girl was educating the older women about what a “green” product label means. I just don’t know if the woman decided to buy the “green” soap because she wanted a "green" product or because the brand was on sale.

 

Monday, 19 April 2010 21:02

Authentic Aguas Frescas - Que Rico!

Maria Elena's HorchataOne of my favorite treats is a cold agua fresca. Aguas frescas are traditional Latino refreshments made from fruits, their juices and water. My favorite has always been the horchata flavor – a sweet rice cinnamon flavored drink that pairs perfectly with my favorite Mexican recipes.

When I was growing up in Chicago and spending summers in México we could purchase aguas frescas from so many neighborhood places….and now I enjoy it from my house! I was so excited to find an organic horchata mix at the grocery store!  Maria Elena’s Authentic Latino Inc. is a unique company in that it offers a 100% natural and organic line of aquas frescas in some very popular flavors: piña (pineapple), tamarindo (tamarind), jamaica (hibiscus flower) and horchata (rice and cinnamon).

As I have become more conscious of what my family eats and drinks, I am very pleased that this brand has caught on that many Latino consumers care about what they put into their bodies.  Founder Jerry Gonzalez wanted to offer consumers Latino products that are traditional yet natural and organic.  The tastes were inspired by his mother, María Elena de González, for whom the company is named.

I am also a big fan of Maria Elena's products because the company believes in our youth. It donates a portion of its profits to its foundation for Hispanic Youth, La Fundacion Juventud Maria Elena's.   It's always nice to find a company that not only makes a good product, but is giving back to the community.

Getting thirsty? Be one of the first 4 people to let us know what kind of agua fresca is your favorite (in the comments section) and receive a Maria Elena's agua fresca mix!

 

Friday, 16 April 2010 17:45

Shower Them With Baskets and Cakes

Diaper CakeI enjoy giving my friends creative and unique baby shower gifts.  It’s so much fun to put a little effort into making a beautiful gift that your friend will love!  We recently added our guide on how to create a perfect shower basket.  There are countless ways to personalize them. I hope that you will try making one of these baskets for a friend, they will LOVE it!

I am loving making diaper cakes too! I recently made one for my friend's baby shower (pictured to the left) and it looked so nice!  The best part was that it was very inexpensive to create.  The cost to make this medium sized diaper cake is about $40. You will need 1 large pack of diapers, rubber bands and some embellishments.   You can keep your gift to about $30 if you decorate the cake with simple ribbon or tulle, but you can add your own special touches too, like my pink nesting bird.  A larger cake would require more diapers and embellishments. I did not take pictures outlining the different steps to make this cake, I will do so next time, but you can find instructions for similar ones here.  You can make them unique to a baby's room decor, baby's gender or your own style!

The diaper cakes make a great centerpiece too! For more ideas check out this link. Happy crafting and creating!

Friday, 16 April 2010 01:33

Mommy Complaints

It’s easy for me to find something to complain about. Right now, I want to complain about the endless laundry, the not so clean house and the charity event that I am working on. There are days when one little incident is all I can complain about or on some days a series of little negative incidents over the course of the day add to my frustration and then I explode.Stressed mom

Case in point. The other day I woke up early, showered and even blow dried my hair, a little make up too. I felt like my morning was off to such a great start. The kids were ready for school on time! I picked up my 20 month old son and headed out the door, got the kids in the car, and then I saw a LARGE yellow stain on my white shirt. My son’s diaper leaked all over me! I was so angry and I said (Ok, I screamed) something like “Danny, you pooped on mommy! Not good!” My son looked a little concerned and said “Uh-oh.” It was cute…and cuter when he pointed at it and said “ca ca” – that’s poop in Spanish.

My 6 year old daughter wisely reminded me that he was just a “mischievous baby” and it wasn’t his fault. Ok, point taken. I meant to go home and change my stained shirt after morning school drop off, but my day got hectic and I just did not get around to it. I actually forgot about the stain until much later in the day. I finally changed my shirt – it was a big stain – but it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.

That night I received an email about a family at my daughter’s preschool. They had lost their home in a fire over spring break and were in desperate need of everything. They were safe, but had lost it all – pictures, family momentos, clothes, toys, important documents, it was all gone. They had a serious problem, my dirty shirt was not.

The moms at the school didn’t even mention the poop stain, maybe it was because they knew exactly what it was and understood or had stains of their own that day too.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010 15:06

Traveling to Mexico

My childhood summer vacations typically included a visit to the small town where my parents grew up.  These trips were wonderful, I have so many fond memories of the 3 day road trips from Chicago, IL to the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí.

Mexican Dolls

I was allowed to go all over town with my cousins and stay out late at the home of my friends and relatives.  We were allowed extra freedoms because my parents always said that the small town was very safe.  Indeed it was - beside the occasional house break in – residents and visitors were safe.  Even to this day, the town continues to be a safe (and beautiful) place to live and visit; but the increasing drug violence in other Mexican towns has me concerned.  I worry that one day part of the epidemic will make it’s way into this peaceful part of the country.

I never thought about safety when traveling to México and now it’s on my mind….I don’t worry about it in my parent’s small town, but plans to travel with my family to other parts do make me think twice and that makes me sad. México is such a beautiful place to live and visit and I hope to travel with my family to explore it's richness without worrying too much.

Sunday, 11 April 2010 05:41

Go Outside And Play

Kids PlayingOne of my favorite memories of growing up was walking with my sister over to the neighboring city block to visit friends.  I also enjoyed walking to the grocery store with my sister and friends.  I remember being allowed to do these things from the time I was about 8 or 9 years old….my sister would have been about 7.  I am sure that many of us would never allow our kids to do the same today!

This got me thinking, I live in a city that is constantly ranked as one of the safest in the United States, yet I don’t see many children who actually play outside in their neighborhoods.  Why? Is it because parents are overprotective? Has the media’s constant stream of bad news transferred into fear for parents? I’m not really sure what it is, but I do miss the sight of neighborhood children playing outside.

My parents no longer live in the neighborhood that gave me fond memories of playing outside until nighttime arrived.  On a recent trip to Chicago I drove around this old neighborhood and the good memories came back; but the neighborhood had changed.  My grammar school principal told me how gang and drug activity had increased.  The neighborhood park is known to be a hang out spot for a local gang.  So, as much as I believe in outside play, I thought about the children who live in unsafe neighborhoods.  It doesn’t seem smart to encourage them to play outside, does it?

Mike Lanza calls himself the Chief Play Officer at Playborhood.com, a site dedicated to bringing back unstructured outside play to the lives of children. Visit this site to see what other parents and caregivers are saying about outside free playtime – what do you think?

Tuesday, 06 April 2010 21:10

Baby Sling & Carrier Safety

Have you used a baby sling?  Are you worried about using one due to recent safety concerns?

I am a baby sling convert.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I was hesitant to buy a baby sling or carrier.  They reminded me too much of the homemade rebozo slings that I had seen women in México wear, and I was always afraid that I was going to see a baby fall out of one!

Maya Baby Wrap

I reluctantly bought a sling and carrier with my first child because the sales woman at the baby store told me they were “must haves” on the baby registry, but I quickly stopped using them because they hurt my back and were too cumbersome.  However, as I learned more about the benefits of babywearing (women - and men - all over the world have been doing this for a LONG time!) I once again looked at slings and baby carriers. This time around I found the right one.  In addition to freeing up my hands by using a baby sling, my babies were also happier in one!  The women I saw in México had it right!

However, as those of you who have used baby slings and carriers know, you need use them properly and safelyBabywearing International Inc. is a non-profit dedicated to promoting babywearing. They have a great website that addresses not only the benefits of babywearing for caregivers and baby, but they also address the recent concerns regarding babywearing.  If you use a baby sling/carrier or are considering using one, please read over their safety guide. Finally, consider purchasing your baby sling or carrier from a trusted retailer that will let you return it if it does not fit well.  Some shops, like the Pump Station, will let you try on different slings in their store and are very knowledgeable in the various slings and carriers available.  Happy and Safe babywearing!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 22:29

Healthy Eating at Easter

Most of us tend to overeat on big holidays, and Easter is no exception.  I am personally looking forward to enjoying my mother-in-law's home cooked lunch!  On holidays we can follow a few simple rules to make our large meal a little bit more healthy.

Try some of these suggestions:

  • Smart appetizers: Use a fruit platter or a veggie platter with a low-calorie dip.  How about a shrimp platter with a low-calorie cocktail sauce?
  • Good sides: Hot cross buns and other biscuits are plentiful on Easter, but try picking up a whole grain alternative.   Whole grain bread products contain fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol and helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases.   Pick vegetables that are deep in color and high in nutrients, like broccoli or green beans instead of mashed potatoes or creamed corn.
  • Red wine versus white wine?   The darker the color, the more antioxidants.
  • Lean protein: Ham is a traditional meal to cook on Easter, but how about using turkey instead?   If tradition will only allow for pork (some are hard to break!) try using a lean pork loin roast since this is one of the leanest pork cuts.
  • Check out your plate: Follow the power plate rule:  1/2 of your plate should be fruits or veggies, 1/4 should be whole grains and 1/4 should be your lean protein.
  • Bring a healthy dish to share: If you are going to attend a potluck for Easter, bring one healthy meal to share that you know you will love.
  • And let’s not forget dessert! Make a dessert that includes lots of fruit, like this delicious, low-calorie and easy to make parfait.

Very Berry Parfait Recipe

Makes 6 servings

What you will need:

  • 4 cups of fresh sliced berries:  strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.  You can try adding mandarins, bananas, pomegranate kernels, kiwi - be creative!
  • 4 cups of fat free vanilla pudding cups
  • 2 cups of lite whipped toping like fat-free Cool Whip
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Amaretto liquor (or anything similar will be ok, we sometimes use Disaronno liquor).  You may want to make a small batch for the young guests without the liquor and use 1 tablespoon of almond extract instead of the liquor.
  • 6 parfait glasses.  You can also use wine glasses, small clear glasses or dessert cups.fruit partfait

What to do:

  1. In one bowl, mix all your berries.
  2. In a second bowl, make your filling by mixing your liquor, pudding and Cool Whip together.
  3. Take ½ the filling and add it evenly to your 6 glasses.
  4. Add your fruit mixture to the glasses, evenly and generously!
  5. Add a final layer of the filling to each if your glasses.
  6. Top with a small mint leap, a little shaved chocolate, or extra berry mixture.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Viola!
Friday, 02 April 2010 04:29

Approaching the Terrible Twos

Tantrum toddlerIt starts with a whine or frown and quickly escalates into a full blown tantrum.

Have you dealt with the “terrible twos”? They say that the terrible twos actually start before a child turns two, and with my three children this has proven true.

My youngest child is 20 months old and I fear he’s on his way to living up to the bad rap that turning two has for toddlers. He had a haircut appointment this afternoon because I thought that those Easter pictures would be so cute if he had a new haircut.  We arrived at the hair salon where my hairdresser works. Sarah is so sweet and has always cut my son's hair, she's the best.  We had been successful with haircuts, until today…from the moment I sat with him in the chair, I knew he would not allow for his hair to be cut. After a couple of very loud shrieks, which were no doubt disturbing the salon patrons, I knew it would be a no go. One of my daughters ended up getting a quick haircut instead. My son's tantrums started around the time he turned 18 months old and have been an almost daily occurance in our home.

Happy Baby

I’ll save the most recent restaurant disaster story for another day, but I can say that it has become increasingly difficult to take my son on errands.  It’s definitely time for me to reread The Happiest Toddler on the Block by pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Harvey Karp.  Dr. Karp provides parents and caretakers with helpful suggestions on how to avoid tantrums with your toddler and how to manage the tantrums when they surface. I appreciate his honest and humorous explanations of why toddlers have tantrums. After today's experience and our recent restaurant outing, I have some reading to do!  Dr. Karp also has written the Happiest Baby on The Block, another great resource for parents and caretakers.

Do you have any tricks that work well with toddlers and tantrums? What’s the best way to avoid them before they even begin?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 16:28

We Won!

Award logoThank you to everyone who voted us #1 in TWO categories for the 2010 Blogs by Latinas Awards.  After only 2 months of being online, we won the Eco-Friendly and Health categories!

I love this time of year, the change in season reminds me of new beginnings.  In April we will be sharing many new easy recipes and health tips.  I have been working on quite a few crafts for baby showers and the spring season. If you haven't checked out our Fitness section, take a peak. Our resident fitness expert, Claudia, provides us with easy to follow at home and gym routines.  Kristine, our healthy cooking guru, has some tasty recipes in the Health section.

We are looking forward to continuing our great start to the website and blog. Eventually our goal is to provide all of our content in Spanish as well.  Please continue to tell your friends about us and remember to visit often for new articles, recipes and crafts.  As always, we welcome your feedback on how to improve the site.  Gracias!

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