Monday, December 31, 2012

Feliz Año Nuevo Veracruz Style!


This is it my friends, we made it to the end of 2012! This year has been full of several joyful moments that I shared with many of you, and for that I will be forever grateful. 

I also thank you for letting me be part of  your especial moments through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets. 

On this last post of the year, I would like to share how the New Year's Eve is celebrated in my native town of Veracruz, Mexico. As many of you know, Veracruzanos (people from Veracruz) are very pachangueros (festive) and escandalosos (loud), and we just cannot end the year quietly. 

In many cities in the state of Veracruz, a group of people gather on the streets with guitars, maracas, and drums; and one person dresses as an old man representing the year that it's about to end. We call it "El Viejo," the "Old Man." Then, the "comparsa" (the group of people accompanying El Viejo) start singing a traditional song that goes similar to this:

Una limosna para este pobre viejo, una limosna para este pobre viejo
Que ha dejado hijo, que ha dejado hijo; para el año nuevo, para el año nuevo

Ya se vá el viejo muriéndose de risa, ya se vá el viejo muriéndose de risa
Porque ha media noche, porque ha media noche; lo vuelven ceniza, lo vuelven ceniza  

ENGLISH
Give this poor old man a hand out, give this poor old man a hand out;
Because he has left a child, because he has left a child, for the year to come.

The old man is leaving while laughing to death, the old man is leaving while laughing to death
Because at midnight, because at midnight; they are turning him into ashes, they are turning him into ashes.

It's important to remember that every time we talk about El Viejo in the lyrics, we are referring to the old year, and the child well, it's the New Year. 

After all that singing and dancing, right at midnight, we take an old raggedy human size doll and we burn it, symbolizing the burning of the old year. We burn our sorrows, and bad moments with it. That's why on the lyrics it says that the old man is laughing because he knows that at midnight he will burn down to ashes.

And now, for your enjoyment, here are two sample videos of how "Veracruzanos" will be celebrating tonight. On the first video, El Viejo is dancing at the very famous Cafe de La Parroquia, and on the second, professional musicians are playing in downtown Veracruz for the people to enjoy and dance with El Viejo.


Have fun tonight dear readers, be safe and... 

¡FELIZ AÑO NUEVO!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! 



Friday, December 28, 2012

What To Do When Something Like This Happens?


Something like what? You may ask. 

I promise this is my last post about Jose Feliciano, or maybe not. Who knows? What I do know is that many of us social media geeks, nerds, or whatever you choose to call us get crazy happy when a personality answers to our call either on Twitter, Facebook, or our blogs. 

Here, I not only had Jose Feliciano responding to my tweet; he also read my post! How awesome is that? You don't believe me? Well, here is the picture to prove it:




Yes, I am still in awe!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meeting A Great Artist... Meeting Jose Feliciano.


On Thursday, December 20th, one of the greatest Latino artists came to the Seattle area and I was there, sitting down on the front row, ready to see him and meet him!


He started his concert with the theme song of "Chico and the Man," a TV show from the 70's. He then switched, by his audience's request, to some romantic ballads in Spanish. He gave a big shout to all the Latinos in the Ballroom, which I was very proud to see that there were many, and we all responded with a very loud: Yay!

He obviously couldn't leave out great songs like "Billy Jean," "Oye Como Va," "Knocking on Heaven's Door," "Que será" and others. With the latter, because of the lyrics and because it's a beautiful sad song, I broke in tears.



His unique and well-known sense of humor was also a very important part of the night. He made jokes about anything and everyone. It was hilarious! 



But, enough of the chit chat, let me show some of the pictures that I could take while he was on the stage. If you look closely, on the first two pictures Jose Feliciano was playing some classic rock songs and that's why he is holding an electric guitar, and on the last picture he switched back to his acoustic guitar to keep playing more "boleros." 





After the concert was over, thanks to Lori from the blog talk radio "Real Sisters Talk," we had the opportunity to meet and talk for a little while with Jose Feliciano. I was super excited! 



The moment I entered the dressing room, we all started talking in Spanish! We talked about his visits to Mexico, and I kept repeating over and over again how much I admire him.  I just couldn't help myself! 


When we said good bye, he mentioned to me "I love Mexicans" to which my response was: "And we love you!"

I swear, I will never forget this night!

If you want to keep an eye on where he will be performing next, go to: JoseFeliciano.com 

In this picture: Linda and Mark Gordon from My Seattle Night Out, myself and the great Jose Feliciano.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jose Feliciano is Coming to the Pacific Northwest!


What can be better than celebrating Christmas with our very own Latino virtuoso guitarist, composer, singer Jose Feliciano? 

In all my years living in the Seattle area, I can say that I have had the fortune of attending many of my favorite Latino artists' concerts. Oscar D' León, Arturo Sandoval, Michel Camilo, Grupo Niche, Puerto Rican Power, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Oscar Hernández with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, La Orquesta Aragón, just to name a few; but it's hard to express in written words how happy I am to be able to see in concert the great Jose Feliciano! 

I'm only puzzled about why is it that he is coming to the Snoqualmie Casino instead of a bigger place, I mean, come on! We are talking about Jose Feliciano!

For that reason, I would love to see all of you my friends coming to this historical concert and show our support to Jose Feliciano this December 20, 2012 at the Snoqualmie Casino, 7:00 PM in the Ballroom. 

For more information and to buy your tickets click HERE.

And just so you start enjoying a little of what Jose Feliciano does...




See you on December 20th at the Snoqualmie Casino! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ice Sculptures Every Saturday at the Seattle Center.

I have always loved the look ice sculptures give to an event, but I have never been present while they are made. 

Fortunately, as part of the Seattle Center's Winterfest celebrations, every Saturday from November 24 through December 29,  outside the Fisher Pavilion, an ice master will carve a different design on ice! This event is FREE and a lot of fun to watch.



The first time I went to witness one of the artists at work, I got there a  little late but I got to see the finished work... A fish.



It seems that the artists like to have a water/sea themed because the next week internationally acclaimed, award-winning sculptor Chan Kitburi, created his own version of a Seahorse. 

It's fascinating to watch these pieces of art come to life because at the very beginning one has no idea of what they will turn out to be. 

First, I thought that he was making a horse but then... I started wondering about when he would start working on the horse's back legs. 


As he continued to work on the sculpture, I noticed that he would not give legs to the horse, instead, he gave it a fish tail! 



It was really amazing to see Mr. Chan Kitburi at work, and now I can't wait to see the next piece of art!



To see all the pictures of this event go to: Artist Chan Kitburi at Work.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Create Your Own Holiday Decorations at the Gifts & Greens Galore 2012.



I love to decorate my house during the holiday season, but I like to do it without going broke. So, when I received an invitation to the preview of the  Arboretum's holiday sale and fundraiser, "Gifts & Greens Galore," I just could not refuse. 

I had a fabulous time exploring and improving my skills on arts and crafts accompanied by some of the most renowned bloggers in the Seattle area like Jess Estrada, Eileen Lambert, and our host Kristin Price among others. 

Kristin, showed us some of the greens that will be on sale during their holiday sale. She also explained that since many of those cut greens are pruned from many plants at the Arboretum, and they also come from donations from members of the community, the prices are very low, which means, you could create a beautiful wreath or many other great holiday decorations at a very affordable price! 


Gifts & Greens Galore will happen these coming Friday and Saturday at the Grahams Visitor Center at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle. On Friday, December 7, from 12:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. and Saturday, December 8, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. 

If you are a little like me and have a difficult time coming up with ideas of what, or how to make your arts and crafts, then you will be very happy to know that the Arboretum will have special guests featuring many "Do It Yourself" demonstrations and craft activities both days!
  • On Friday at 1:00 P.M., author and outdoor living expert Debra Prinzing will show how to create holiday centerpieces.
  • On Saturday at 11 A.M., Northwest lifestyle and entertaining expert Alexandra Hedin will explain unique ways to use fresh greens for the holidays


Here are some pictures of the ways we can use greens to create our holiday decorations:










During the preview of the Gifts & Greens Galore sale, we also had the opportunity to have a sneak peek at the self-serve coffee bar with coffee from Zoka Coffee Roasters featuring the Arboretum Blend! This coffee bar will also have its grand opening at the Gifts & Greens Galore event. 



All the bloggers at this preview had a fun time, especially when it came down to create our own decorations. Kristin had everything ready for us, all we had to do was to let our creativity flow!

Next, you will see the table where we worked on our master pieces.




These two are Jess' and mine holiday decorations. They are pretty and very easy to do!



Remember, the parking and admission at the event are FREE, and all the sales benefit the maintenance and education programs at Washington Park Arboretum. I hope to see many of you my friends taking advantage of this fabulous event! 





Wednesday, December 5, 2012

LUNAFEST in Seattle Connected Women Through Film.


Last night, I attended the LUNAFEST in Seattle and let me tell you; I believe it's the first time I am truly happy to drive under a terrible stormy night. 

LUNAFEST was established in 2000 by LUNA, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women. You could think of it as a traveling film festival where films produced by talented women filmmakers are displayed.  In essence, LUNAFEST is a festival organized by women, for women, about women. 

The proceedings of this event will benefit great organizations like "Reel Grrls," a nonprofit media art and leadership training program for girl’s ages nine through nineteen based in Seattle, and "The Breast Cancer Fund."




The nine films displayed were all fantastic with powerful and thought-provoking subjects. Among my favorites were: "Flawed," "Lunch Date," and... I might be biased on this one but, I truly loved "When I Grow Up."  This last one was directed by Sharon Arteaga and talked about a Latina mother's dream to provide a better life for her daughter in Texas. Very moving...





I did not only had a fabulous time doing what I love to do most which is to watch movies, but I also had a swag bag with many good things inside! 



It really was a wonderful night. Thank you Girl Power Hour for putting together such a great event! 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Biggest Party of the Year: The 3rd Seattle Annual Tweet Drive!


Seattleites are known for their generosity and willingness to share with others a little or much of what they have. For that reason it's no surprise that during the Holidays, many events are organized to give to those less fortunate. 

About 3 years ago, a college student had the vision of having a party to gather toys for unprivileged children for the holidays by using the power of Social Media for Good. That's what the Seattle Tweet Drive is about. Although is now known as "Operation Social Santa."

Our 3rd Annual Tweet Drive will take place this Thursday, November 29th, at the Hard Rock Café in Seattle 

Doors open at 5:30pm

Tickets: $6.00 each plus a new, unwrapped toy for Treehouse

Tickets include light appetizers, plus two raffle tickets, and an evening of music
100% net proceeds benefit Treehouse: Giving foster kids a childhood and a future.

Ah, and don't forget, in conjunction with the Seattle Tweet Drive, Seattle WAVE Radio will hold the finale of an 8-week Jammin’ Challenge at 7:45 p.m. 

This Thursday is all about having fun and bringing smiles to kids in foster care! 

Get your tickets here: 3rd Annual Tweet Drive for Treehouse 






Monday, November 26, 2012

You and I Have a Date in Bellevue on December 3rd!


Yes, this invitation is extended to all of you my friends on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

On December 3rd at 5:00 PM in Bellevue, my band Utopia Latin Band will be performing at Bellevue Square as part of the Holiday Entertainment program. 

This is something that we have been doing for the past four years. My good friend Kurt Clark, one of my favorite bloggers in the Seattle area, wrote a beautiful story about the experience that he and his family had when they came to see us last year. He wrote: "It was the perfect way to warm up our day." Here is a link to the full story: "Holiday Music from Utopia Latin Band"

I am always celebrating businesses, companies, corporations that celebrate the great diversity in our state, and for that reason, I'd love for you to come and celebrate with me this holiday season with Latin music in Bellevue! 





Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You And...






It has been twelve years since I arrived to the U.S. and although Thanksgiving was not something I celebrated in my native country; I came to adopt this new tradition rather quickly. 

Today, I will be celebrating with the family and close friends in a unique way with dishes from the U.S., Mexico, and Bulgaria. We will be thanking for our ups, our downs but mainly for having the joy of having so many great friends. 

I will be sharing pictures and a more detailed explanation of our international dishes tomorrow but for now, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! 




Friday, November 16, 2012

The Party is Tonight in Bellevue at the Bellevue Arts Museum.

Yes, tonight is BAMIgnite! What is BAMIgnite you ask? It's BAM's celebration of their newest exhibition!

BAM has an amazing line up for us to enjoy through the night. We will dance to music by KEXP DJs Riz and Alex Ruder, as well as Seattle Indie band Ravenna Woods. We will explore circus arts spectacles by Madame Rex Entertainment.

There will be a cash bar and delicious bites from the Happy Gilmore food truck!

RSVP now and we will enjoy together a night with great music, surrounded by beautiful pieces of art!

Free for members.
$8/ ticket for 4 or more. BUY NOW
$10 in advance. BUY NOW
$12 at the door.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Serrano Peppers Are Meant To Be Spicy.


Allow me to start this post by telling you why serrano peppers are important to me. My mom taught me to make this delicious "salsa roja" which includes serrano peppers and we use it with almost everything. We pour it on top of our quesadillas, tacos, picadas veracruzanas... Okay, you get the idea.

Now, do not get too excited my friends because I will not share that recipe here, since it is a secret recipe that my mother made swear I would not give away to anyone, except my daughter. Absurd, I know. What I will share is the importance of that little ingredient and where you can find the perfect ones. Back in my native country, it is a natural thing to get our vegetables and fruits from our local markets, so when I came to this country, it was a little difficult to adapt to get them from a grocery store. 

After many years of getting my serrano peppers from the regular stores, I started noticing the lack of spice in them. My salsa was not having the same flavor even after adding more, and more peppers to it! I could not let that happen, so I started buying them from other places; however, the "punch" was not there. 

Finally, one day I decided to get the organic ones from the Whole Food Market and voila; I was back in heaven! This may sound crazy but, I am serious. If you are into Mexican food, or spicy food, and your recipe asks for serrano peppers, do not think about it twice. Go and get the organic type, it does make a huge difference. 




Monday, November 5, 2012

On the Boards: Teatro Línea de Sombra Comes to Seattle! November 8th through November 11th.

I am a theater lover, a music lover, a movie lover... In fewer words, I love pretty much anything that has to do with art. For the past few years, I have been following closely the plays that are brought to Seattle, waiting and hoping for any Latino production to come to our theaters. We have not been very lucky with the main theaters; however, I am glad to see other organizations supporting Latino theater  companies like Teatro Línea de Sombra, a theater company that is today one of the most renowned Mexican contemporary theater companies, and awardee of the Best Research Theater of Mexico in 2000 and 2005. 

Teatro Línea de Sombra will make its debut in Seattle with "Amarillo," a play directed by Mexican director Jorge A. Vargas. 

"Amarillo, is a visually stunning and politically-rooted performance that delves into the lore surrounding the US/Mexico borderlands. The bilingual production touches on the hotbed issue of immigration and the reality of what happens when someone undertakes the dangerous journey between the two countries." - On the Boards Press Release.
  
I had the opportunity to contact Jessica Massart, Communications Director for On the Boards, and ask her some questions about "Amarillo." Here are her responses:

Why choose Amarillo? Amarillo is the kind of production that excels on all levels: it’s a visually stunning performance with bilingual text, dance, live projections and music that’s both contemporary and traditional. It deals with a hotbed issue, immigration at the US/Mexico border, and does it in a way that is both illuminating and poetic.

Why bring it to Seattle? It’s incredibly important for Seattle to have access to artists like Teatro Línea de Sombra. They are an important artistic voice from Central America and deal with some major issues at the center of political discourse in our country, lending a perspective that is often not included in that dialogue. The company has also been increasingly present in the international contemporary performance field and have been presented at some of the most prestigious festivals and venues overseas. This is just a short list of why we needed to get this company and this production to Seattle.

How long did it take you to bring it? We’ve been in discussion with the company since early this year after first becoming aware of the production in 2011. In January our artistic director, Lane Czaplinski, was meant to see the performance in Vancouver BC and meet the company, but the Seattle snowstorm prevented it. Despite that we forged on with conversations and were able to successfully program them in the 12/13 Season.

How many other Hispanic productions or theater companies have you been able to bring to Seattle? This will be the third Hispanic production to come to On the Boards in the past two years. Past presentations have included Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Mexico City) and the world-renowned director Mariano Pensotti (Buenos Aires). Both of these performances are available as films through OntheBoards.tv where we are building a series of performances, including the soon to be released film of Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol.
Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes film: http://www.ontheboards.tv/performance/theater/el-gallo

To get tickets your tickets for "Amarillo" go tohttp://www.ontheboards.org/performances/amarillo

And now, to get you excited, here is a clip of this wonderful production:






Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Night to Remember: La Orquesta Aragón in Seattle for the First Time.

Yes, last night was a night to remember. The legendary Orquesta Aragón came to Seattle for the first time and I was there!

The Orquesta Aragón was founded in 1939 by Orestes Aragón Centero in Cienfuegos, Cuba. This year they are celebrating their 71st anniversary and because of that, they decided to include Seattle in their tour.

They are one of the best, if not the best charanga in Cuba. What is a charanga, you may ask? A charanga, in Cuba, is a traditional ensemble that plays traditional Cuban music. A "traditional charanga" is formed by piano, bass, güiro, timbal, congas, violins, flute and singers. 

Although I could not record any video or audio of their performance, I did take some pictures. 












Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Seattle Art Museum Welcomes Back Their 14th Annual Celebration of El Día de los Muertos.


The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is an institution where artists from all around the world are welcomed to exhibit their pieces of art. When it comes to celebrating important festivities from many different cultures, they are one of the leaders in our precious city. 

Around this time of the year, SAM celebrates with the community one of the most important festivities in Mexico, El Día de los Muertos, or, The Day of the Dead.

I had the opportunity to hear from one of the people involved in the organization of this event and here is what she shared:

"This event has been happening here at SAM for several years and has solely been driven by artists and their perspective of this important Latino celebration. The community response has been fantastic. People love it. In the Future we hope to expand it to include more Spanish-speaking cultures and presentations involving different mediums such as photography and others" - Said Sandra Jackson-Dumont, SAM's Kayle Skinner Deputy Director for Education + Public Programs | Adjunct Curator.

From October 29 through November 11, visit the PACCAR Pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, to see a beautiful "Tapete" (Sand painting) created by Mexican artist Fulgencio Lazo. The piece is inspired by Oaxaca's traditions for celebrating this important date. 

On Friday, November 2nd, SAM will host a free, family -friendly artist reception with live music from La Banda Gozona, a Calavera Mask-making activity, food, poetry, and many more fun activities! This is a FREE Admission Event. 

As we say in our Latino community: Don't forget to invite your sister, your brother, the cousin, your aunts, and uncles; your neighbor, EVERYONE! Let's show how much we appreciate events like these!   




Fulgencio Lazo working on the making of a Tapete. Photo by Sara Gettys/Yakima Herald-Repulic


About the artist Fulgencio Lazo:

Born and raised in Oaxaca, Fulgencio studied at the at the Universidad Autónoma "Benito Juárez" of Oaxaca, the Taller de Rufino Tamayo and at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. He has lived and worked in Seattle as a painter and printmaker since 1990. Fulgencio has had numerous exhibits in Mexico, Japan, and the United States, including installations at the Seattle Art Museum and Tacoma Art Museum. He is currently on the board of directors of Seattle Print Arts and maintains a studio in both Seattle and Oaxaca.