7.30.2014

Lollipop, Lollipop!



For those of you who aren't keeping track, August starts this Friday.  

Ugh.

I am so not ready for school to begin.  I know I might be in the minority on this but I love having my kids at home during the summer.  

But this isn't a back-to-school post.  Nope, this is a post about my favorite part of August:  my daughter's birthday!

It's hard to believe that this is the third year I've written about her birthday.  (The other posts can be found HERE and HERE.)

This year my girl wants a "candy themed" birthday party.  

(Do you hear that noise?  It's the sound of other parents growling in my general direction.  I apologize in advance for the sugar-induced frenzy for which I will be responsible.)

But today's post isn't about candy-that-is-bad-for-you.  No, no, no.  Today's post is about candy-that's-good-for-lookin'-at.  (Specifically styrofoam lollipops.)   

Because while I'm all about decorating with the real stuff, I also wanted to get my craft on.   

(What? this surprises you?)

So here's the "recipe" for my styrofoam lollipops.

First you get some small styrofoam balls.  You can buy them HERE.


Then you paint them vivid colors.  Honestly, we just used old paint that I had lying around for other projects.  My girls stuck toothpicks in them so they could dry without sticking to anything and then dabbed at them with foam brushes.  They're not perfect, but they're perfect enough for our purposes.  


After the paint was dry, we took real lollipop sticks, put a dab of hot glue on the tip, and jammed them into the foam balls.  


Then we took small cellophane bags, put them over the balls, and twist-tied them closed.  I got my cello bags at DAISO but you can buy yours HERE.


I put these tiny hooks on top (also with a dab of glue) so that I could hang them...


...like this:



Or this:


Or maybe I'll just use them in a centerpiece like this:


Either way I'm sure they'll be a hit with the kids and the parents.  

And as I'm sure you can guess there will be more party posts in the near future.  In the meantime if you have any suggestions for what to do at a candy-themed birthday party (besides eat candy, that is) please be sure to leave me a comment below!


7.14.2014

Touring Ajijic, Mexico (Alternate Title: Your In-Laws Live Where??)

Whenever I find myself answering one of those "25 Fun Facts About Me" quizzes, I like to mention that my husband's parents live in Mexico.

After revealing this little tid-bit, I am guaranteed to be asked three questions.  To save us all the time, I'm going to go ahead and answer them for you below:

No, my in-laws are not Mexican.
In fact, they are originally from New England.  This becomes evident when my father-in-law tries to speak Spanish.  People from Rhode Island should not try to roll the letter R.  Ever.

No they do not live on the beach.
Mexico actually has a whole inside part.  (Who knew?)

No, I am not concerned for their safety.
Yes, I know what you saw on Dateline:  Mexico is a cesspool of violence and corruption.  But then again, so is Chicago. (And before you accuse me of picking on Chicago, please note that I lived there for thirteen years and loved it... well, everything except the weather...)

The town in which they live is called Ajijic (pronounced Ah-Hee-HEEK).  It is one of many small towns/villages that dot the shores of Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in all of Mexico.  My father-in-law found the town about 13 years ago while researching expat communities online. True story.

In the intervening years I have visited Ajijic seven or eight times.  I have wanted to write a post about it for awhile but last week was the first time I've been back since starting the blog.

In addition to being a weekend destination for Guadalajarans (and a winter destination for Canadians and Americans), Ajijic is also a haven for artists.  Put all of these people together and the result is a town full of galleries, shops and restaurants which feels surprisingly un-touristy.  

What stuns me the most whenever I walk through the village is the abundance of color, pattern, and texture.  It seems that everywhere you look there is a mural...




Photo taken in the Ajijic Cultural Center





This mural, which faces Lake Chapala, was done by the same artist as the one in the Cultural Center.  

This Chicken Mariachi Mural is on the main square and is new since my last visit.



I was thrilled to find this sugar skull painted on a garage on a secluded side street.


Unfortunately I couldn't capture this entire mural but it was stunning.


I was more interested in the drain pipe than the picture.  Yes, it is a dragon (or monster) head.  

...a colorfully painted wall...


This was the entrance to someone's house.













...and amazing iron, stone or wood work...


Taken after brunch at the Hotel Nuevo Posada



Found in the main square, this gorgeous sculpture is made from an old tree.

The stone work in my in-law's driveway.

My picture does not do this metal door justice...



The Catholic Church adjacent to Ajijic's main plaza

Cobblestone roads: hard on the feet but easy on the eyes.

Someone's intricately carved front door...

All of this is set against a natural backdrop that is just as beautiful as any artist's canvas:

Taken from the pool at my in-law's place.

Getting ready to go horseback riding.  He was our guide.  

Mt. Garcia & Lake Chapala

The green hills behind my in-law's house.  (Note: these hills are brown during the dry season.)

The gorgeous Ajijic sky.



A girl from San Diego *has* to take pictures of an impending storm.  (We haven't had rain in months.)



There are so many enticing places to shop in Ajijic, from street carts filled with fruit, coffee and candy, to boutiques bursting with clothing, jewelry and art.



Loved these Frida bags (and yes, I came home with one).

Opus Boutique.  I'm obsessed. 

And all of this is a mere 45 minutes away from Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city.  Here are some pictures I took during a day trip there:

Sculpture on the streets of Tlaquepaque, a great shopping area in Guadalajara.  I believe the artist is called Rodo Padilla. 

Not sure what this is but it was in the most adorable candy shop.


Handmade paper flower crowns were everywhere.  My thirteen-year-old was in heaven.  

Don't forget to look up!  The "ceiling" in a restaurant iTlaquepaque

Molcajete.  Never had it?  Go get some right now.  

Our preferred mode of transport in Guadalajara's Historic District.


Guad is filled with history and beautiful old buildings.

Including this one from Downton Abbey ;)


Purple peanuts at Liberty Market in Guadalajara.  All pictures below are from the market.





Green pomegranates.  Who knew?




I hope you've enjoyed this little slice of Mexico.  I know I was kind of flip in my introduction but if you have any questions about the area I would love to answer them for you.  (And if I can't I will direct you to someone who can.)

Adios!