Sylvia Orozco: The Mind Behind Mexic-Arte

mam-logoIf you’ve ever been to Austin, Texas, you have probably seen the museum Mexic-Arte that is located in downtown Austin. The museum, which was founded in 1984, started out as a small gallery in a 300 square foot warehouse. The mission for this museum has always remained the same: to teach the people of Austin about Mexican-influenced art.

LATINITAS: When did you realize you were interested in art?
SYLVIA: My father was a boot maker from Guadalajara. He worked in a boot shop in Cuero, Texas and I would go with him on Saturdays and watch him make boots. I liked watching him create something. I always liked drawing. I won a contest for best drawing in 2nd grade of a little dog that I drew (laughs). I guess I was always comfortable drawing and was told I was good at it.

LATINITAS: How did you end up in Austin?
SYLVIA: I transferred to UT and studied Studio Art and Painting from 1975 to 1978.

LATINITAS: What made you decide to stay in Austin?
SYLVIA: I didn’t. I went to Mexico City and got my master’s at the Autonomous University of Mexico. It was there where I learned a lot more about museums and galleries.

LATINITAS: I see, so how did that partake into the formation of Mexic-Arte?
SYLVIA: Well, while I was in Mexico City I kept in touch with organizations that I worked with while I was studying at UT, like Mujeres Artistas Del Suroeste and LUChA, the League of United Chicano Artists. I wanted to bring what I saw in Mexico City to Austin.

LATINITAS: Racism is still alive and apparent, have you come across this issue in your career?
SYLVIA: We’re located downtown and we’ve been told before that we should be in east Austin (a high percentage of Latinos reside in east Austin). What most people don’t know is that Republic Square (located in downtown Austin) was a Mexican neighborhood. I believe there is an $8 million budget for art and Latinos need to get an appropriate share. In the 90’s, 17% to 19-% went to Latinos, now it’s only 12%.

LATINITAS: What do you feel art is so important?
SYLVIA: There’s a lot of negative things out there about Latinos, we have a lot of positive things and art helps bring that forward. Art connects us to our history. If people feel connected to something positive they feel stronger. Art contributes to the quality of life, it stimulates your brain and helps you develop creativity.

LATINITAS:What is your advice for future Latinas and career women?
SYLVIA: Those are difficult years. I would say to be aware of how hard it is and how those times can make a huge difference in the future. Be careful and make wise choices so you can have a better future for yourself.

LATINITAS:What do you aspire to see Latinas accomplish in the future?
SYLVIA: I hope that Latinas get more involved in art, even in politics. They shouldn’t be intimidated. I would want to see them embrace the arts, whether an artist themselves or a supporter but to at least become involved. [Art] enriches your life. Latinas are encouraged to do other things, but there isn’t enough encouragement to become involved in the arts.

DIY: Holiday Recipes

Holiday season is just around the corner! It  is the  best time to pamper family and friends with the ultimate holiday desserts, YUM! Check out these recipes that are guaranteed to make you and your family’s sweet tooth happy. These recipes require you to use the stove or oven, so ask an adult for help on making one of these delicious treats.

Rainbow Cake for Santa

This Oreo inspired recipe wrks best with the help from another person. Plus, it makes it more fun!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 2 bars of cream cheese
  • 90 grams of no salt butter
  • 1 tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup of table cream
  • 1 cup of condensed milk
  • 2 packages of unflavored gelatin
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 plastic bags with a seal
  • Santa mold (preferably plastic)
  • Red food colorantRainbow pie 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Take the white center of the cookie and put the cookies into one of the plastic bags. You don’t need the white center part of the cookie for this recipe, so you can eat it or set it aside.

2.       Crush the cookies until there are no more chunks of it. That’s right, it’s just dust!
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3.       Put the cookie dust into a bowl and mix it with butter. Using your hands to mix both ingredients makes the whole process easier!
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4.       Move this mix to the bottom of the mold and push until it is flat.

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5.       Place the mold with the mix into the refrigerator until it is cold and hard.

6.       Mix water with the 2 packages of gelatin and place it into a microwave for 80 seconds.

7.     Next, while the mold is in the refrigerator, get a bowl and mix cream cheese, condensed milk, cream, vanilla extract and the juice of the lemon.
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8.       Wait for the water with gelatin to cool, and, once it’s ready, pour it into the mix.

9.       Keep mixing until there are no more lumps.

10.   Separate the mix into the 4 bags, add food coloring to two and leave the other natural.
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11.   Take the mold out of the refrigerator and cut a corner of the bag so the mix can be poured into the mold.

12.   Do layers, mixing one layer of red and one layer of natural mix, until you have 4 layers.

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13.   Put the mold with the mix into the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. Then, take the mix out of the mold after the 3 hours are up!
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Truffles

For this recipe you will need:

  •  200 grams of dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ¼ cup of whip cream
  • 1/3 cup of hazelnut cream
  • 2 cups of white chocolateRainbow pie 16

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.      Place a container inside a large pan with water. Then, under a simmering heat, melt the dark chocolate and add the butter, whip cream, and hazelnut cream.

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2.       Once everything is melted, mix it and put it into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

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3.       After the 2 hours, get the mix out of the refrigerator. Use a Parisian spoon to make little balls and put them over sealed paper.

4.       If they’re not hard enough, place them into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

5.       While you wait, start melting the white chocolate in the microwave.

6.      With help of a toothpick, immerse the truffle into the melted white chocolate.

7.       Then, add decorations of chocolate.

8.       Put them into the freezer for a few minutes, enjoy!

Cookie Christmas tree

 For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 recipients
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¼ tbsp. of salt
  • ½ tbsp. of baking powder
  • 1 bar of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. of milk
  • ½ tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 cling wrap
  • Star molds (different sizes)
  • A rolling pin
  • Skewer sticks
  • Vanilla icingcookies 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       In recipient #1 mix flour, salt and baking powder.
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2.       In recipient #2 mix melted butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and an egg.
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3.       Mix recipient #1 and #2 together.

4.       Wrap the mix to the cling wrap and put into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6.       Put flour in a flat surface and spread the mix with a rolling pin.

7.      Take the star cookie cutter and press gently onto the cookie mix. Don’t forget to use molds of different sizes because this will shape the Christmas tree!

8.       Then, spread a thin layer of butter onto a cookie tray. Place the cookies you just cut out onto the tray and insert tray into the oven.

9.       Bake them until they’re lightly toasted, take them out, and let them cool off for 10 minutes.

10.   After they have cooled down, you are going to stack the cookies into the shape of a Christmas tree. Put them one over the other, from the biggest to the smallest one, on a plate. Put a stick into the center of the top cookie and connect with the rest of the cookies.

11.   Add vanilla icing to decorate the cookies and enjoy!

 

Holiday Punch

Looking for a quick recipe that doesn’t involve an oven? Holiday punch can be just as festive.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 4 guavas
  • 3 pears
  • 3 apples
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ cup Roselle dried flower
  • 1 cup of tamarind
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ lt. of water
  • 250 grams of sugar or piloncillo

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Cut the fruit in small pieces.

2.       Place a cinnamon stick inside a pot of water. Turn on the stove and let the water boil.

3.       Once the water starts to boil, add tamarind, fruits, Roselle dried flower, and sugar or piloncillo.

4.      Keep an eye on the pot and occasionally stir while it heats up. It will be ready when the fruit changes color.

5.       When the fruit changes color, turn off the heat and let it cool.

6.       When it stops boiling, add raisins, mix the contents, and serve.

The holidays provide the perfect opportunities to test out new or old recipes. With the help of an adult, making these recipes can be a breeze!

Spicing Up the Holidays

Photo Credit: Myrecipes.com

Christmas music is blasting through the speakers.  Colorful wreaths are being hung in every door. Trees are being decorated with ornaments that are probably bigger than your head. Even though the weather is not agreeing with the holiday season, the holidays are the perfect time of year to drink a nice hot cup of hot chocolate as you play Michael Bublé’s album.

Instead of having that plain, old same cup of hot chocolate though, mix up your traditions. Here are three recipes that will make your holidays as warm as the weather. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

White-White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water. This will make the hot chocolate to melt. You might have to stir until the chocolate is smooth. When smooth, add the cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Stir the contents. Then whisk in the egg until the contents are smooth again.
  2. Whisk one cup of milk for around 2 minutes. Then whisk what is left of the milk. Heat the contents until it’s hot. If you see milk skin, you overheated it.
  3. It will be ready to drink if the taste of the cayenne is hidden by the milk’s temperature or when the hot chocolate as at your preferred temperature.
  4. Add the hot chocolate to some cute colorful mugs, sprinkle some cinnamon and enjoy!

Chocolate Bar Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • (1.55 ounce) bar milk chocolate candy bar, chopped
    - My advice: Choose a Hersey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  • 2/3 cup milk, or more to taste
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place the chocolate pieces in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the milk and stir until the chocolate is melted and well mixed (which could take around 5 minutes). Add some cinnamon and mix the content again. You might want to taste the hot chocolate to see if you want to add more chocolate. Serve in a nice holiday mug and drink up!

Mayan Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix the hot chocolate mix, cinnamon and the cayenne pepper in your favorite holiday mug.
  2. Pour the mix into a glass-measuring cup.
  3. Place the measuring cup into the microwave and heat on High until the drink begins to boil up which can take around 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into the mug (use mitten gloves to handle the measuring cup). Stir the drink with a small whisk or a spoon. Drink up and enjoy the last few days before the Mayan calendar ends.

Just remember that if you are not old enough to use the stove, have someone who is older to use the kitchen appliances. The white-white hot chocolate and the chocolate bar hot chocolate makes four servings, which makes them the perfect drinks for friends and family.

It also makes the perfect drink to leave for Santa! Happy Holidays!

Recipe ideas: Allrecipes.com

Review: Book of Life

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Director Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo Del Toro center the story plot, animation and characters on Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday, which is celebrated on November 1 throughout Latin America. This festivity celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed away with parties and activities that serve to recognize death as a natural part of life, and also as a way to invite spirits to return from their eternal sleep and join their families in the celebrations.

The film follows the story of three childhood amigos who are caught in a love triangle. Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) is a tender-hearted hero who comes from a long line of champion bullfighters but finds his true passion in playing his guitar. Then we have Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum), a macho-man bandit rustler with medals around his neck and pride in his stride. These childhood friends vie for the love of Maria (Zoe Saldana), the smart and multi-talented daughter of the general who runs their village of San Angel.

All the while, two spirit forces watch over the trio and over their magical lands, a part of the story that taps into Mexican mythology surrounding the Day of the Dead. La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, roots for Manolo to win the heart of Maria while Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who rules over the Land of the Forgotten, believes Joaquin will win her heart.

As a result, Manolo is sent on an adventure through the whimsical lands and encounters a series of challenges along the way to seek Maria, who has fallen into a “Sleeping Beauty”-style slumber. Meanwhile, their village of San Angel is being threatened by Chakal, a metallic monster bandit with a gang of thieves.

Throughout the film, the Día de los Muertos theme is embraced through the vibrant characters and settings that have the most familiar symbol of the holiday with calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls). Mexican folk art inspires much of the animation, filling the screen with eye-popping colors and details. While the plot itself has been seen before, the visuals and the worlds seen in the film resemble a Day of the Dead themed “Candyland” setting, which is sure to keep the audience pleased.

The characters of Manolo and Joaquin represent positive human qualities such as nobility and self-sacrificial love. While Maria holds an empowering image for the main female role as a headstrong martial arts expert and bookworm, she falls under the “damsel in distress” role at one point and has to be saved by her hero. However, most of her character is positively depicted as an independent woman who is free to make her own choices.

Throughout the film, the significance of Día de los Muertos is constantly being portrayed through the adventures of the three amigos and the spiritual beings that influence their worlds. This multi-tiered plot takes the audience through the general cultural customs of Day of the Dead through acts that include the tales of life after death, good forces of nature over evil and the pursuit of staying close to loved ones who have influenced your world, long after leaving the human realm.

Diary: Discovering My Faith

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Photo Credit: Claudia Mendoza

What religion are you? Non-denominational Christian

How often do you go to church? I go every other Friday for the young adult ministry and then every Sunday. I try to go to the youth ministries also.

What type of events do you go to at your church?
We are having a young adult conference and taking a trip to a very prestigious church in Dallas, Texas.  They also had a retreat in New Mexico and it was really nice in the middle of the forest in a really cabin. For Easter, we went to a big theater and they had famous Christian signers.

What do you like most about your church?
I really like the way they praise and worship they do it with such enthusiasm. When they preach, they try to relate it to their life. They don’t judge you for sinning, they want to make everyone welcome. When you are new, they really reach out to you to make you feel at home and they are my second home. We hangout outside of church with the friends I’ve met there. Some of those friends are life-long friends. We text daily with some of those friends. They really do outreach to get the youth involved, and they do a lot of events for them.  They also give scholarships to high school seniors based on an essay describing what they’ve accomplished.

I have an app for the bible. You pick a theme and then it gives you a bible verse related to that theme each day, like a devotional.  What I like about my church is that they live stream on the computer. They have a media team that does all the announcements, makes flyers, control lights, sound and the projector.  They have a Twitter and Instagram for each ministry and then they have a main Facebook.

How did you get introduced to the church?
It has been a year since I went to Destiny Church because of my ex-boyfriend. He introduced me to the church. He grew up in that church. My family was Catholic, but not very religious. My faith is stronger than my family, and I always wanted to be involved in a church. I really understand the word. Even after we broke up, everyone reached out to me to persuade me to stay. My mom gets upset when she hears I want to get baptized in a Christian church. Now, I am even more involved.  It would get to my heart and make me cry. It really hits you. I go every weekend.

What does your faith mean to you?
Growing up, I wish I would have had a stronger faith. It would have kept me away from making some mistakes and being as reckless as I was. Being a part of a church home and being around good people can really keep you away from bad things; you learn to value yourself. Growing up, I had so much anger and doubt. They teach you how to be kind to others. It humbles you. It helps you with any kind of relationship family, friends or boyfriends. They try to prevent a broken heart. Having something to believe in really gives you hope. You can have a bad day and loss your happiness, but you will never loss your joy. They show you people who help you grow.

How involved are you in your church?
Every church gathering has a different topic and they relate it to contemporary issues. They will talk relationships, how to get over a break-up, school, not giving up, they talk about dealing with non-believers, and they talk about your purpose in life.  They bring out stories of the bible and talk about the metaphors. Everybody understands the stories differently.

What service/ministries have you done?
We’ve collected supplies and food for kids in need, immigrants, and for the Child Crisis Center. We’ve collected baby outfits for babies at the Child Crisis Center. Whoever gets the most donations gets a gift card. We had a basketball tournament to raise money to support the troops. For Thanksgiving, we try to get a lot of donations of food – last year we filled 3 18-wheelers with boxes of food to give them everything they needed for Thanksgiving.

What values or teachings are the most important to you?
I love how they preach and praise. Everyone speaks up and they yell out Yes, Preach or Amen. They like to make service fun. They always say that we are here to celebrate. The choir sings beautifully. It is very entertaining. They have a dance team, a pianist and bass guitar. They try to relate the message to something we have experienced. They stress that they want us to be a part of the community. Sometimes you really need people there to support you. They create that sense of a welcoming community. You do not leave church without meeting someone new.

What is your favorite church teaching or bible verse?
My favorite message from the bible is  Proverbs 31. My favorite part is: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”

Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasKeeping a journal or diary is often painted in a poor light. It has probably had a bad wrap as the chore assigned to you in elementary school, and it sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but it can actually be very helpful and beneficial. If you are shy at the thought of really owning the concept, know that this does not have to be a public item. It does not have to be advertised to your peers that you reflect on paper, it can be a secret, and a happy one at that!

A journal or diary, whichever you prefer to call it, can bring personal comfort during times when you wish to meditate on things in a constructive manner. Consider this mental exercise where you can rid yourself of bad thoughts and stress. When you see your words on paper, it helps put things in perspective when you have pressing things on your mind. If you are preparing for a speech or difficult conversation, writing it down can help you be more articulate in your argument.  As they say, “practice makes perfect.” In this sense, writing anything down, even for fun and/or personal use, helps with articulating yourself in other non-journal writing.

Reflecting in your journal clears your mental clutter so that you can have a healthier head space. Writing down your thoughts, or anything you wish to keep in your journal helps as a cathartic release for pent up thoughts or emotions. Writing after an upsetting event can help you process your feelings and better understand how your thoughts and emotions connect. Outside of being a release, it can help with your mood by lifting your spirits. When you are feeling low, write down the things that you like the most about yourself. They can be anything from physical traits, to personality, or other things that you think you excel at.

With a documentation on your thoughts, wishes, dreams, daily life, or whatever you choose to write about, you can track your progress regarding goals that you might have. For example, writing about your goals in school and how you are making it every step of the way will help you in the long run when you see your steps laid down on paper in front of you. A journal is super helpful once you start planning your road to college!

The beautiful thing about keeping a personal journal is that you can do this whichever way and however often you like. Some will find that writing on a daily basis is very rewarding exercise and might choose to make it a part of their lives that often. Others might find that reflecting every couple of days, once a week, or even once a month is the best for them.

Review: Juanes Concert

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Written by Lucero Estrella

As a kid growing up in a border city, I was constantly exposed to Spanish music from different Latin American artists on the local and Mexican radio stations.  Among the mix of songs and artists on the radio was one amazing superstar from Medellín, Columbia, Juan Esteban Vásquez, more commonly known as Juanes.  With his mixtures of Latin rock and pop, Juanes has conquered the hearts of many people around the world with his music– and the 16 million of copies CDs sold, two Grammys, and 19 Latin Grammys are there to prove it.

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Being at the first weekend Austin City Limits (ACL) festival on Saturday, October 4, took me back to my childhood.  Juanes shared the stage with his group and constantly changed guitars to perform both old and new music. He played his new hits, “Loco de Amor,” “Mil Pedazos,” and “La Luz,” as well as older songs like “La Paga” and “Me Enamora,” and the popular hit “A Dios le Pido.” The moment that Juanes stepped on stage and began signing “Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor,” I felt goose bumps all over my body.   Standing in the front rows next to people singing and dancing along to Juanes’ songs was an unforgettable experience.

Juanes finished his performance with a surprising cover of Bob Marley and The Wailers’ “Could You Be Loved,” and then closed the night with one of his most popular hits, “La Camisa Negra. ” This left the crowd begging for an encore — me included.  After the performance, I waited with a crowd of fans to catch a glimpse of Juanes backstage, and I was lucky enough to stand less than a foot away from him and snap a few pictures.

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Being able to see Juanes live was a million times better than listening to him on my CD player — for the younger readers, an old-school device before the iPod.  His voice, appearance, and presence made me feel like a child once again. I can’t wait for Juanes to return to Austin so I can watch him once more.

Aspiring Journalist

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Journalism is a good career for those who are tech savvy and likes to write. Many journalists find themselves writing for newspapers, magazines, and internet sites, or  producing, editing and taking pictures. Time management and being organized are important for succeeding as a journalist, which means you don’t have to wait until college to start preparing for a career in journalism

Middle School and High School Preparation

It is always good to be prepared, so start being active at your school! Most high schools happen to have their own newspaper, yearbooks, and even morning video announcements. Since journalism has many platforms, you can chose one program or even become involved in all of them. Your school’s newspaper is perfect if you love to write, but, if you’re interested in multimedia and graphic design, then yearbook might be a better fit. For the future journalists who prefer to be in front of the camera, try out your school’s morning announcement team. If you’re one of the lucky few, your school might even offer journalism classes! Talk to your counselor to see what is available at your school, you might be surprised of what clubs or programs your school has!

Internships
Internships offer opportunities for you to get experience as a journalist.  Journalism is a popular field, which means finding a job can become competitive. Internships help you stand out from the rest, so the more experience you have the higher your chances of landing a job. Part of the application process as a journalist is showcasing your work, so the more publications and internships you have, the better. Some internships are volunteer based, but, if you work hard, you can land a paid internship.

College Preparation
College is the perfect place to find out what part of journalism you are passionate about. Some people choose to major in journalism because they receive more training, but you don’t need a degree in journalism to succeed. If you are serious about studying journalism in college, you will learn about the history and foundation of the field, new skills and strategies to apply in your career, and will also be able to network with professors who worked in the field!

Journalism is a demanding and hectic career, but it is also fun and worth it. If you have any desire to work in the media industry, journalism is something worth considering.

Fashion Designer: Carolina Herrera

Don’t you ever wish that you could have the power to draw an outfit and make it come to life? Especially when it comes to designing beautiful dresses that will be worn at the grammy’s by a celebrity? Carolina Herrera, a fashion icon, is a true example of a hard working Latina and fashionista.

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Personal Life

Carolina Herrera was born on January 8, 1939 in Caracas, Venezuela. She was introduced into the fashion world at a young age by her grandmother, taking her to local shows. Her grandmother also taught young Carolina that dressing up mattered by buying her outfits from Lanvin and Dior. During her career, Carolina Herrera has given birth to four children and has been married twice.

Career Launch

Once Herrera grew older, she was known for having an elegant fashion style. She was convinced by one of her friends in New York who worked for Vogue to create a few items and send them to her. Still in Caracas, Carolina took up her offer and created a few fashion items and brought them to New York. A fashion boutique in New York offered to showcase her items and it became a success. She was able to raise enough money to fund an official launch and runway show in 1980, and her successful career skyrocketed in New York.

Carolina Herrera’s Line

Carolina Herrera is best known for her evening wear designs. She has won many awards and she has had success with having her fashion be worn by several household names, like Renee Zelweger, Oprah Winfrey and even Michelle Obama. Her line is mainly based in New York, but she has been successfully expanding worldwide. She has opened stores in London, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Japan. She currently has 18 stores under her name worldwide! Her clothing line has been positively written about from famous publications, like The New York TimesWomen’s Daily Wear and Tatler. Carolina has also been inducted into the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame. Not only did Carolina try to branch out in the fashion industry, but in the beauty industry as well with the creation of a new perfume.

Awards and Achievement

Throughout her lifetime, Carolina Herrera has been recognized multiple times because of her elegant and beautiful designs. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and has been awarded “Womenswear Designer of the Year.” Herrera is a recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence as well as Spain’s Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, which was presented to her by King Don Juan Carlos I. She received the Fashion Group International Superstar Award, the Style Awards Designer of the Year in 2012 and the “Mercedes-Benz Presents” title for her 2011 collection.

Carolina Herrera is an example of an inspirational and hard-working Latina. She is an icon for many chicas out there who want to succeed in the fashion world. If she can do it, then you fashionistas can as well!

Aguas Frescas

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Whether you go to a local stand or enjoy the ones your abuelita makes, aguas frescas are simple, refreshing beverages that are also rich in nutritional value. The aguas are either made from sweet fruits, sour fruits, seeds or flowers, mixed with water and sugar. These drinks can be prepared for any occasion in which you crave a healthy alternative but want a little twist of flavor.

Main equipment you will use to prepare and serve the agues:

Blender

Pitcher

Colander

Saucepan

Measuring cups

Bowl

Plastic wrap

 

Agua de Sandia (Watermelon Water)

A classic summer time beverage that can be enjoyed year round for a sweet treat. If the melon is a very sweet one, taste before adding sugar; it may not need much, if any. Watermelon juice is a natural thirst quencher and is very effective in keeping your immune system healthy while removing harmful toxins from the body.

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed, seeded watermelon

6 cups water

1/4 cup white sugar, or to taste

Ice

Preparation:

(About 1 hour and 20 minutes)

1. Puree watermelon and water in a blender until smooth.

2. Add 1/4 cup of sugar.

3. Wait 1 hour for the agua to chill.

4. Stir before serving and pour over ice.

 

Agua de Melon (Melon Water)

Another traditional flavor that is sold in vitroleros, which are large glass or plastic containers of aguas frescas, most notably seen at Mexican street stands or markets. This resulting agua de melon may contain small bits of fruit pulp, which is rich in nutrients and fiber and can boost your metabolism and energy.

Ingredients:

1/2 cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed and diced (about 1½ – 2 cups diced melon)

1 quart water

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

Ice

Preparation:

(About 1 hour and 20 minutes)

1. Put the diced melon in the blender with enough of the water to cover.

2. Blend just long enough to make a pulp that has small bits of fruit.

3. Transfer to a pitcher and add the rest of the water and the sugar.

4. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

5. Wait 1 hour for agua to chill and pour over ice.

 

Agua de Horchata (Rice-Cinnamon)

Horchata (pronounced or-CHA-tah) is a popular flavor that resembles the taste of arroz con leche, a traditional Latin dessert made with cinnamon, rice and milk. Horchata, like fruity aguas frescas, contains minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C and E. In addition, it is used for digestive problems and gives you a boost of energy.

Ingredients:

2 cups long-grained white rice
2 cups water
2 quarts low or non-fat milk
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:

(About 8 hours and 20 minutes)

1. Place the rice in a bowl with hot water to cover it completely. Seal bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 8 hours (overnight).

2. The next day, strain rice through a colander, discarding water. Place one cup of water and two cups of milk in blender with one cup of rice.

3. Blend until liquified. Pour into a pitcher. Repeat with other half of milk, water and rice. Pour through a strainer to remove extra rice pulp.

4. Mix in sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

5. Wait 1 hour for agua to chill and pour over ice.

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower)

This refreshing drink (pronounced hah-MIKE-ah) is made from dried hibiscus flowers, which are slightly tart, flavorful red flowers. They are high in Vitamin C, which alleviates cramps and pains and is a natural remedy for people who experience cold or flu-like symptoms.

Ingredients:

2 cups dried hibiscus flowers (2 packages)

8 cups water

3/4 cup sugar or equivalent amount of sugar substitute

Preparation:

(About 1 hour and 30 minutes)

1. Rinse and drain the hibiscus flowers in a colander.

2. Put them in a saucepan with 4 cups of the water and the sugar.

3. Stir and bring to a slow boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover for 15 minutes.

4. The flowers will have lost their color into the water, which will be a deep red color. Let the liquid cool, then strain it into a pitcher. Discard the flowers.

5. Add the rest of the water and stir. Wait 1 hour for agua to chill and pour over ice.

 

Agua de Tamarind (Tamarind-flavored Water)

Tamarinds are pods that grow on the tamarind tree, which are used in Mexican, Thai and Indian cooking. These pods contain large seeds surrounded by a sticky brown pulp. The most popular use for the pods in Latino communities is to make dulces de tamarindo or tamarind candies. Tamarind has been used to reduce fevers, relieve some types of sore throat conditions and can tend to improve digestion and appetite.

Ingredients:

10 tamarind pods (About 2 packages)

1 quart water

3/4 cups sugar, or to taste

Preparation:

(About 1 hour and 30 minutes)

1. Peel the tamarind pods, removing the veins that run along the sides. Don’t worry if bits of the pod stick to the pulp; they will come off easily after cooking. Do not attempt to remove the seeds at this point.

2. Bring half the water to a boil and add the peeled tamarind pods. Boil until the pulp is soft (About 15 minutes).

3. Let the tamarind water sit until the pulp is cool enough to handle.

4. Using your hands, remove the seeds from the pulp; they will slide out easily. Discard the seeds and any bits of outside peel that may have stuck before cooking.

5. Put the pulp, cooking water and sugar in the blender and liquify. Strain this mixture into a pitcher and add the remaining water.

6. Wait 1 hour for agua to chill and pour over ice.

A healthy lifestyle comes from making good choices about your physical, mental and emotional health. Every system in your body is connected and aware of what you consume, which directly affects your mood. Aguas frescas are not only a delicious way to keep yourself energized but a small step towards making better choices that will motivate you to take on the day.

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