The surprising guitars of Mexico city

By Nora Vasconcelos

guitars mexico df

 

Beyond the continuous hustle and bustle that characterizes the capital of Mexico, there’s always something new that transforms this city into a magical place.

Very often, unexpected pieces of art pop up on the streets and manage to surprise locals and visitors with their colorful forms and themes that usually bring a smile to anyone who spares a second or a minute from their usually tight schedule.

A recent example of this was an installation presented in different areas of the city by Guitar Town. Thanks to this initiative several 3-meter high guitars showed around the city different characteristics of the Mexican culture, both ancient and modern.

The guitars are gone now, but the photos and the good memories that these unique pieces of art brought to many people will remain for a long while.

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Fun and delicious: Desserts Mash-Ups!

By Nora Vasconcelos

desserts cover
In 2010, Dorothy Kern started her blog Crazy for Crust because she wanted to increase the attention towards the pie crusts. But her love for desserts led her to create new fun and delicious recipes.

Throughout the years she started to see how entertaining and tasty was to transform two desserts into a totally different one. It was the beginning of a new trend and of a new book.

Dessert Mash-Ups presents recipes that combine all sort of textures and flavors into colorful and mouthwatering creations such as Sconuts, Blueberry Muffin Waffles and Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites.

Going through the pages of this book, recently published by Ulysses Press, is a total delight for dessert lovers, either because one wants to try them all, or because it’s really tempting to go straight to the kitchen and to start preparing them.

Last week, Dorothy was kind enough as to answer some questions for me about her book, here are her answers:

- When and how did you come up with the idea of “mashing up” desserts?

Actually, I’ve been doing it from the very beginning on my blog, Crazy for Crust. One of my earliest recipes was what I called a “Pieookie” which was a shortbread cookie shaped like a pie. Ever since then I’ve been mashing up desserts on a regular basis, so writing a book on the topic was just a natural progression.

- How did you decide which dessert could work well with which other one?

I tried to think of things that would work well as something else. I do this with pie on my blog all the time (pie fudge or pie cookies). I’ll regularly think: what can I turn into a s’more? or What will go good with brownies? and I go from there.

- Did you have to go through many attempts before you were able to develop all the recipes of this book?

Some of them were easier than others, for sure. Some of them I was able to do on the first try, and others to several attempts. I think the Lemon Bar Cheesecake took the prize: I made it about 4 times!

- Which was the funniest part and the most complex one of this process of creating new desserts?

I think the funniest part is seeing the looks on peoples’ faces when I tell them an idea. You see them process that you can turn fudge into pie and you can almost see the lightbulb moment they have, followed by the look that says “I want a piece of that!”

The most complex would definitely be the science behind it all. How can you make the recipe the way you want it to turn out and make it actually work? Sometimes that was successful and sometimes, like in the case of the Lemon Bar Cheesecake, I had to adjust my vision as I went along.

And here, some of her recipies:

Dessert_Mash_Ups-Cake_Batter_Blondie

Cake Batter Blondie Bars

Dessert_Mash_Ups-MintChipTruffles

Mint Chips Truffles

Dessert_Mash_Ups-S'moresCookies

S’more Cookies

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Weekly Photo: Minimalist

By Nora Vasconcelos

Minimalist by NVS

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Mexican traditions around the “Day of the Dead”

By Nora Vasconcelos

Decent

Year after year, in Mexico the last days of October and the first of November are characterized for the colorful altars dedicated to ‘the Dead’. Such offerings are composed with typial dishes, candy, flowers, and all sort of figures that represent happy skeletons elegantly dressed as if they were ready to start a funny party at any moment. They are commonly set in public spaces througout the country.

Happy

As much as this may seam a simple way to look at the death, in fact, it actually comes from centuries of years of the Mexican people keeping close to all those who have departed, with the hope that these altars and feasts will bring joy to their souls, as well as a warm feeling for those people who prepare the offerings.

bycicles

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Weekly Photo: Covert Art

By Nora Vasconcelos

Cover art by NVS

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Sharing the love for jazz with little kids

By Nora Vasconcelos

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A little while ago, while listening to a Jazz concert, I found myself quite happy to see that there were many children around.

As the concert advanced, one little boy, about 4 years old, started to dance following the enjoyable notes that came from the instruments played by the musicians on the stage. At some point the little kid lost his balance and found some support on my chair.

I smiled at him and helped him to regain his balance and cheered him up to continue dancing, as his dad looked happy I was encouraging his little son.

This experience made me realize how important it’s for new generations not only to get to know the Jazz and Big Bands classics from the Golden Age, but also to enjoy them.

Wondering what else it could be done to share with little children the love for Jazz, apart from taking them to live concerts and playing jazz music to them, I came across with a wonderful book called Who was Louis Armstrong?, by Yona Zeldis McDonough, and illustrated by John O’Brien.

The edition, designed to be read by children, tells the story of Louis Armstrong, since he was a little boy growing up in New Orleans, from the time he sold newspapers in the streets to help his family out, until the time he found his first cornet in a pawn shop.

Presented with lots of illustrations and a big nice font, the story continues up to the times when Armstrong played in Chicago and New York, along with the good and the bad times.

The books also includes fun materials that talk about the history and development of Jazz in the United States, the interaction between Steamboats and Jazz, the several influences that have become part of this music as well as the main instruments that form part of it, and some popular terms.

Louis Amstrong ok_copy

Happy with my book, I got even happier when I learned, some time later, that Chris Raschka, writer and illustrator, has also designed and published some children’s books with which he inspires very young readers to get to know the life and work of jazz musicians with titles such as Charlie Parker played Be Bop, Mysterious Thelonious, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra.

Some other children’s books that talk about jazz musicians are Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

With this, my hopes are that more are more kids will grow up learning about Jazz and ejoying its joyful melodies, which hopefully will bring happines to their lives and to all of those who will happen to be around. And who knows, may be, in the future, these young readers might become the next Jazz starts!

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Weekly Photo: Signs

By Nora Vasconcelos

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