Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas at my House

Denver had a dusting of snow last night.  The snow was the perfect final touch to my big wreath.
Another Mexican themed Christmas tree.
Colorful baskets, papier mache dolls, silver heart-shaped milagros and ceramic pots from the Friday market in Patzcuaro.
A tin mermaid (serina)
and a tin church from Oaxaca.
I wrapped many of my gifts in some beautiful paper with the Swedish Dala horse on it.  The Dala horse or Dalecarlian horse is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse statuette originating in the Swedish province of Dalarna.   I made the tags myself.
Here is Saint Lucia.  It's story of a young girl bringing light in the midst of darkness to the people of Sweden,  no doubt held great meaning for people who, in the midst of a North Sea December, were longing for the relief of warmth and light.  Celebrated on December 13, the longest night of the year, coinciding with Winter Solstice.
Matte red, shiny silver and pearl colored balls adorn the garland above the fireplace.
This box was painted by an artist in San Miguel de Allende, Renato Rivera.  It had been sitting in my basement for some time and my husband suggested that I incorporate it into my Christmas decorations. 
 So I did.  It is sitting on my kitchen counter and it is part of my snowman display.
Aniline painted angels that I bought in Oaxaca years ago.
Christmas Eve morning down at the Denver Art Museum. Warm in my wool poncho from San Miguel, Len and I enjoyed the "Her Paris" exhibition showcasing women artists in the age of Impressionism.  More on the later.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

La Esquina - Children's Folk Toy Museum

One of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende is to visit La Esquina, the Children's Folk Toy Museum.   La Esquina is in an old three-story home that has been meticulously restored and is maintained beautifully.  Over one thousand Mexican toys have been collected by Angelico Tijerina over the course of fifty years. 
The museum houses three halls.  The first hall is dedicated to Jugando a La Casita, Playing Dollhouse.  Dolls of all kinds of materials representing various states within Mexico as well as household objects.   The second hall, Companeros Individuales, Unforgetable mates, is a collection of toys related to transportation.  And the third hall, La Feria, The Fair, showcases masks, piggy banks and musical instruments.
The attention to detail is seen through out and even on the windows with the wonderful bold graphics.
The Companeros Individuals hall is phenomenal.  It shows the evolution of technology from horses and carts that were eventually replaced by trains and buses and later by airplanes and helicopters and even space ships. 
Most of the transportation toys allowed movement.
 The Sanchez truck is great with its Madonna standing on the hood and the beer bottle hub caps.
I can just see a child in a small village playing with this tractor out on the unpaved street.
The collection of dolls reflects the various regions in their culture and dress.
 The Tarahumara Indians in the state of Chihuahua. 
Woven wool outfits adorn the dolls from Chiapas.  Reminiscent of the clothing the people in the Chiapas highlands wear.
The dolls from Oaxaca are dressed in colorful skirts and embroidered huipils.
I adore the papier-mache articulated dolls.  I actually have many on my Christmas tree this year.  They are made by using clay molds, then painted with natural aniline colors. Some are adorned with glitter and imitation jewelry and sometimes they will have a name painted on them.
Hand-carved wood animal musicians from Oaxaca.  Very similar to the ones that I have playing on my own mantle.
Some of my favorite pieces, like these above, are from the Aguilar family in Oaxaca in the town of Ocotlon de Morales.  Such great facial expressions and imaginaton.
And of course, there is the Loteria!  
For more on the Loteria, see my post dated June 2, 2010.
And what would a toy museum be without " La Luche Libre"!  Mexican Free Wrestling.  I love the one wrestler flying through the air, just about to pounce on the two below.
I even have a few of the Mexican mask banks displayed on the tiered shelves.  I had bought them at Mixta, a great shop in San Miguel de Allende.
A colorful display of a carnival.
More carnival
A typical scene on market day.  Music, rides, people visiting...
The ceramics are also my weak spot.  Look how this one artist made a whole kitchen from clay.
Every time I am at the Friday market in Patzcuaro, I go crazy buying little ceramic pots and dishes.
The rooftop patio is also full of folk art.  Great clay figure, just like the papier mache dolls.
A diplay of Estaban's bowls with animals painted in the center arranged on the outdoor kitchen wall.
Great views from the rooftop!
Another wonderful touch are the ceramics canales (down spouts) with roosters on each one.  I am sure they were made over in Dolores Hidalgo

Also up on the rooftop patio is this painted board is hysterical!  One year I had some of my ladies that were on one of my tours pose for me.  

One could spend hours at this beautiful museum just soaking up its collection.

La Esquina 
Nunez 40 (north-east corner of Nunez & San Francisco)
San Miguel de Allende, GTO
Wednesday - Saturday: 10am - 6pm.
Sunday: 10am - 3:00pm
Admission:  30 pesos 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Celebrating Carter's Memory

It's that time of year when I put together an Altar in the niche in my home in Denver in honor of my brother, Carter.  It will be six years this December 30 that he passed away.
Carter is surrounded by marigolds, los flores de Cempasuchil representing a pathway for the dead.  And woven fish that I bought in the jardin in San Miguel de Allende during Palm Sunday.  Carter loved the outdoors and fishing.
For those who knew Carter, you will recognize some of his favorites things.  His extensive Mexican mask collection, his love of the Grand Canyon and especially Lake Powell, a photo of the album cover of The Who (I asked him once, if you could be a musician, who would it be.  He told me he would be Pete Townshed, the guitarist of The Who.  And I do remember him playing air guitar and leaping thru the air when he would come home from college.  Always made me laugh), he loved doing the Suduko in the paper every morning, the infamous red pen, playing basketball, the terrier dog, a Mexican wrestler (lucha libre), the church that resembles the Parroquia in San Miguel de Allende, a bottle of his favorite wine (a Turnbull Cabernet), pheasant feathers referring to his love of bird hunting, his favorite fruit, the pear, a nopal cactus (he loved the desert), a heart milagro (he had a big heart and was very giving) and the two candles, one of Saint Michael, the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende.  And like the archangel Saint Michael, Carter was always a leader and very protective of me.
We love you Carter and miss you every day.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Los Dias de Los Muertos dinner party over the weekend

Last time I was in Oaxaca City, I came across a stall in the market that was selling this colorful oil cloth with Catrinas, skulls, flowers and paper picados on it.  I could not resist and bought three meters to use as my tablecloth for my next Day of the Dead dinner party.
Highly varnished clay skulls from San Bartola Coyotepec. 
Keeping with the theme, I made paper napkin holders with a skull and every one's name on it.  The typeface I used is called "thriller".  How appropriate.
A devil tin candle holder from San Miguel de Allende
Another tin candle holder along with a clay pumpkin that I had bought at El Tianguis, the Tuesday market on the outskirts of San Miguel.
An empty bottle of KAH Reposado tequila.  Every bottle is an individual, hand crafted work of art - no two bottles are alike.  Besides the bottles being very cool, the tequila is also excellent.
I had to get the pumpkin carved to great my guests at the front door.
Special adhesive wine labels that I put over the original ones that read "Embalming Juice", "Zombie Virus" and "Spider Venom". 
Silver and black mylar picados that I had found in the market in Oaxaca.  Perfect to hang between the living room and dining room.
The main course was a 6-pound bone-in Boston butt pork shoulder.  I made a paste of smashed garlic, salt, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, achiote paste and cider vinegar.  I scored 1-inch deep cuts on the fatty side, then rubbed the paste all over the pork and wrapped it securely in banana leaves.  I tied the banana-wrapped bundle of pork with kitchen string and let it sit in the refrigerator two days before I cooked it.  
I set it on a rack in my largest Le Crueset dutch oven.  Added some cut onions and jalapenos to the pot and enough water to come 1-inch up the sides.    Covered the pot and baked for 5 hours at 300 degrees.   After 2 1/2 hours, I turned the pork over.  
The pork turned out perfect, tender and delicious.  I shredded it with a fork and poured some of the braising liquid over it.
I served it with a salsa Veracruz, a cazuela of roasted poblanos and sauteed onions, and corn tortillas.  Along with a spinach and arugula salad tossed with a cilantro dressing and then sprinkled with pepitas.
I have plenty pork left over to make some green chili for my next tamale dinner or two. 
It was a very festive evening!