Holiday Survival

A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from the community manager of a specific website. They were asking bloggers to write a post about what I would include in a “holiday survival kit”.  I won’t share the name because I am not in the business of plugging sites who want blogger content in exchange for nothing, exposure don’t pay the bills holmes. Sorry! (not really)

But it got me thinking about “things” to help get through the holidays with a bit of sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I have shared stuff I love before but I do it under the guise of things I actually have and use. Yes, like a lot of bloggers I could sit here and include a bunch of photos of “things” and tell you why I think they’re “essentials”. But I am not going to.

So instead of making up a bullshit list of things you need to go out and buy to “make your holidays less stressful”, I am going to share things I/we could do and doesn’t really involve shopping. Shit, most of this free… and you all know how much we love the word “free”. So without further ado, I bring you…


It needs to be said. The holidays bring on all kinds of pressures. Pressure to be there for family, pressure to deliver. The thing is, some of these pressures are totally self imposed. We pull a Bilbo Baggins that feels “thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”. You end up spending the holidays bouncing from place to place, sometimes in horrendous traffic and next thing you know it’s January and you are just relieved it is over. The month flew by and you didn’t even enjoy it. So cut it out! There is only one of you and your time is just as important.

This goes on par with the pressures. The need to deliver xmas becomes this prevalent feeling, so much so that all you’re doing is stressing about how it’s going to happen. There’s pressure that you have to buy people things… sometimes people you don’t even want to give gifts to but feel like you have to! So many people overextend themselves monetarily, maxing out credit cards or spending money that sometimes they don’t even have to spend. I know it’s tough, especially for those with kids who have no concept of monetary value or struggles. But look at it this way when giving gifts, balance out what is a “want vs need”. It’s just stuff. If there is one thing 2 cross country moves have taught me, is that we amass so much bullshit and clutter in our lives. Things are just things and in the grand scheme of life, those things don’t make your happiness. If you’re going to gift, give the gift of rewarding experiences with those you love. That lasts so much longer.

I’m not saying you need to pull and Ebenezer either. If you really want to give gifts, have at it! I know it can be really fun to surprise friend X with the rare book they’ve salivated over. When you have a very clear intent on what you want to buy and it’s readily available to your fingertips, just do it online. It saves you so much hassle, stress and fighting with assholes for a parking spot at the mall.  We did a lot of that last year and it was sweet! Just make sure you do it with a timely manner so things arrive in time.

We all have it, have access to it, own it, stream it. You don’t know how many homes I have visited of friends and family and they never bump tunes. I don’t get how they do it because the right song, at the right moment, makes memories. Use it! It can change your entire outlook on the day. It is as essential to me as water. Play it in your house, play it loud. +1 point if it’s a total guilty pleasure and you shake your ass to it while doing your household chores. +10 points if that shit is done in your underwear.

There are so many people who “hate the holidays” and a lot of it is because you feel the pressure of having to spend it with or around family you may not even get along with. It’s ok to say no to things and don’t feel bad about it! No one is going to advocate for your sanity more than you. If not going to Aunt Horrible Cooking and Creepy Drunk Uncle so-and-so’s house in bum fuck is going to make you feel more chill, politely decline. Yes, there will be disappointments expressed but those who love you will get it if you just can’t. There is a fine art to learning how to say “no” to people and the sooner you master that skill, the happier you will be. .

I know a lot of people who dread the holidays because they have horrible or sad memories attached to them. I get that so much, especially when you’ve lost someone meaningful in your life. It can be daunting especially when we’re fed visuals of happy, perfect families sitting around in their matching pajamas by the fire. We feel alone, like we are missing something bigger. Family is a part of it but remember your family is who you make of it. Fall back on your friends, your pets, etc. Go out and do things that fulfill you: a hike, movies, travel etc. If you happen to have awesome company, well good for you! But if you have no one, it’s ok too. It really is. Give to yourself.

I know a lot of these things are easier said than done. Trust. I get it. Xmas is what you make it and we all have that power… and it doesn’t involve door busting at 6 a.m. for a deal on a TV.



The Remembered

Recently it has become more and more apparent that I need to stress the importance of my heritage in our family. Reza hasn’t been exposed to much of her Mexican side, much less the types of traditions and cultural celebrations that come along with it. The entire thing is foreign to her, so much so that she doesn’t believe she’s Mexican, well, 50% at least.

On Halloween, I got a last minute impulse to make an altar at home for Dia De Los Muertos. Luckily we now live in an area that has a larger Mexican community so acquiring some of the key items was a tap easier at a moments notice. So we went to the local Mexican market and picked up some candles, pan de muerto and I was lucky enough to find a vendor selling flowers off the back of his truck in the parking lot: beautiful, fresh, orange & yellow marigolds and magenta celosia or as I call them “brain flowers”.

I managed to get really sick on Halloween night, as we were returning from trick or treating. Luckily I had everything I needed at home and was able to put together an altar for us to remember our dearly departed on the following day. This was the result.

The tiered platforms were just boxes I had lying around, wrapped in colorful tissue paper. The rest? Now that is the important part… photos of who you want to honor, personal artifacts (if you have them), offerings or tributes.  In ours we have Josh’s Grandmother Floye and his dad Raymond, Kevin, Nena, my grandmother Carmen, my brother Henry and Reza’s former fish Cloudy & Tree. It also helped I had a few Muertos related items in my personal collection such as the sugar skull I made years ago and some paper maché skeletons I picked up this summer.

It goes without saying, but I really enjoyed the process of putting this together and Reza sparked up enough interest in it that I fully expect there will be more in the years to come.

You can view this photo in larger form  here.

Easter through the ages… revisited.

Let me preface by saying I have probably already written a post like this a couple years ago. I am almost certain of it. But hey, the Easter bunny came tap tapping at my side of the bed at 7 a.m. by an overexcited Reza and here I am, groggy, uncaffeinated and guess what?! Reza and Josh went back to sleep! Such are the lives of Moms and not remembering what “sleeping in” means.

So about Easter… Fond memories.

My Father used to have the STUNNING, mint condition, burgundy Chevy Nomad Wagon (like this style) and it was our “special occasion mobile”. Easter Sunday was Nomad day. We piled on our best Easter garb and rode around like pimps in that classic beauty. Over the years, as my appreciation for classics has only deepened, I find myself missing that ride. I really wish Dad would have kept it. Some guy with loot saw it on the street one day and made our Father an offer he couldn’t refuse. He sold it and it was shipped to Hawaii. I hope he treated her well. I don’t think Dad told the guy my pet turtle died in it.

Easter was a big deal in our household cause well, we grew up Catholic and it always involved church outings and the whatnot. I don’t have fond memories of church or Catholicism in general. In hindsight, I feel kind of weird knowing all that kind of business that I didn’t understand was being fed to us. How scarring! I mean, think about it! You’re 5 years old and you go to this building to see a man nailed to a cross every week. And some guy in a ghost robe pretends to turn wine into THE BLOOD (and they say Pagans are weird!). That’s some imagery to process yo. Like I said, not my thing.

My best memories come from the fun shit. You know, the evil pagan bunny, painted eggs and eating more chocolate than your brain can handle shit. THE GOOD STUFF.

Our Easter usually involved my sister Bee and I in matching dresses for one. In hindsight it was cute and probably and easy way to keep track of us. I managed to pilfer a couple of these childhood photos from the parental stash. Check out these beauties with the OG Instagram filter: ANCIENT.

This year I was particularly stoked cause I won one of the grand prize baskets at the community park egg hunt. Bee was not happy about it either. Me? Shit, the face of victory could not be contained!

Then there was that time Mom put us in this Easter bonnet competition. She was crafty like that. I don’t remember winning but somehow the Garcia family still stole the show cause Bee got all kinds of shy and ended up getting her own strip in the local newspaper.

I may add that this particular year we were wearing homemade dresses in the same Strawberry Shortcake fabric.

And this concludes my blast from the Easter past.

Happy chocolate bunny, no one eats the black jelly beans, zombie jesus, like OMG BECKY let’s go to brunch and have bottomless mimosas day!

December: the photo edition

In true slacker form, I am sharing some December photos in January. AWESOME.

First off, I couldn’t be more stoked for our yearly ornament acquisition in the form of mariachi calavera. I am even more excited to be back in the land of World Market.

Then there were one a many nerdy gifts on xmas morning.

Oh yeah, and Santa came *wink*

Gomez conquered the mountain of holiday carnage!

Three days later was Josh’s birthday. I surprised him in the form of Spencer! We went to the Haight…

and then to Ameoba! Josh scored some Cure vinyl and a David Bowie poster for Reza’s room.

Then we headed to The Tonga Room where he was surprised with even more friends, dangerous tiki drinks and one a many happy faces! Much fun was had and he was totally BAMBOOZLED by all the surprises I had planned for him!.

Me? Well, behind the camera as usual and I have been sick since xmas day so I am not in the “self portrait” kinda mood. You get my fingernail.

The end.

holiday palmistry

I won’t lie, Christmas gives me anxiety. I do it to myself and put a lot of pressure on everything being perfect. I can’t help it. I live to make my loves happy! To compile that matter, I have Josh’s birthday three days after Christmas. Add my snail mail love to the mix and the creative whatnot, it just has potential to get overwhelming.

I didn’t plan properly and didn’t get my card idea sorted out early on in the month. Last week I decided I was going to make custom art, carve it out on a linoblock and stamp my card out. I already had most of the supplies, all I needed was to conjure an idea. Sounded fairly simple, at least in my head it was.

Art came together perfectly, carving was therapeutic save for the moment I stabbed the hell out of my finger with the linoblock cutting tool, bled everywhere…. but fear not! Art can be painful (and this was!).

Yesterday I sat around, ready to stamp out my cards and they were not printing in the manner I wanted them to. I don’t know if it is my technique, the ink, the paper, my tools, the combination of some or all, but the prints were just not making me a happy camper. I couldn’t bring myself to send out half assed art, which was intended to be a small way of gifting all of my recipients with something other than a store-bought card. Anyway, here she is… one of the more decent prints I could get on some layout bond.

This was the original idea, but the magic was in the carving cause it gave it some edge and texture.

In any event, after some thought I made the decision to scrap making my own cards this year. You have no idea how much this bums me the hell out cause I LOVE the art I had made. It is one of those things that this is supposed to be fun and instead I am all anxious and pissed over it. I just can’t do this to myself. It is kind of my fault… I blew my load on Halloween mail, plus I bit off more than I can chew and the lack of time doesn’t allow me to work out the kinks. I can’t bring myself to send out half assed shit, not when my art is concerned.

It is what it is. Next year? It is so ON. Or hey, there is always Valentine’s Day.

twas the night before xmas…

“Reza, what do you want for Christmas?”, asked my sister Bee. “Uh, I don’t know… I don’t want to talk about that right now”. Out of the many times Reza was asked what she wanted, the only thing she could mutter was “Mary Poppins”. She has never seen the movie, but loves the music when it comes on Pandora. She’s so low key sometimes and I am grateful of the little person she is becoming.

Josh’s birthday is three days from now. Do you know how hard it is to shop for someone, for two different yet almost consecutive days? And while maintaining a budget? He’s not so hard to shop for but something tells me I don’t have the kind of cash lying around to buy him a 1965, sunburst, Fender Jazzmaster… you know, the same one Robert has. One day he will have it… mark my words.

This is what I had to work with, folks. Last week was nuts with last minute whatnottery, commission completion and the 50+ xmas cards I sent out. I am nuts and a procrastinator, no doubt about that. And just like every year, we always manage to make it work. Somehow.

After some last minute errand running, it was home to chill and stay. I decided to make my cookies from scratch this year. I am not gonna get a package of pre-made cookie dough slathered in “you’re gonna die if you eat me raw” labels. F You. So I snagged this recipe from Joy The Baker and switched it up. Substitute milk for dark, pecans and maldon sea salt flakes. Salt on chocolate chip cookies is a party in my mouff, I dunno about yours.

There’s this interesting moment that I have to share: it’s xmas eve… I have 50’s music on my Bose dock, while baking cookies… I looked outside and it was snowing. It was more like flaky rain and it melted quite rapidly but for a moment we got a taste of “white christmas” and as much as I curse the cold, white, evil, I won’t lie… it was magical.

The cookies came out delicious… note to self, if you want chewy cookies, take them out A LOT sooner. They got far too crunchy but hey, they look AWESOME. Salty flakes = mmmmmmm

We haven’t been huge Santa pushers but Reza has clung on to the idea and hey, who are we to deny the girl of a little childhood right of passage. She may soon catch on to the fact we are behind it all but if you heard the sound of her voice this morning and saw the diamonds in her eyes, you would understand why we play along.

So with a little aid she composed Mr. S a note and Gomez insisted on guarding it.

We got her to bed and promptly went to work our magic… Josh assembled her telescope, I stuffed the stocking. I think Reza is probably the only six year old that got Lush bath bombs and Kidrobot in hers. Shortly after the telescope was left under the tree with a note from Santa and off to bed we went.

Around 7 a.m. this morning she woke us up with the shrieks of joy… “Santa CAME! AND HE GOT ME WHAT I WANTED!! He knows I want to be a scientist!! And HE LEFT ME A NOTE!!!!” – Good lord was she happy. Makes it all worth it even though we face the inevitable heartbreak one day…

So we got up and opened our gifts… exchanges of socks, art supplies, fuzzy items, vinyl toys, legos, stink pretty and devil clad garments. It has been a great day. Josh took off the rest of the week and on that note I part to get to our Lord Of The Rings trilogy tradition underway. My thriftiness scored the entire extended edition set on blu-ray for $50… dude. I just wish Spencer and Tom were here to nerd out with us.

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday…. best wishes from us, today and always.

full size pix can be viewed here


It’s one of those things, I have been far from you for quite a bit of time. I am lucky if I get to see you once a year but it doesn’t mean I don’t care or wish that things could be a little different. Mexico is where you heart is Daddy and I would never keep you from it.

Despite the fact you drive me nuts when you want to talk about money and you pretend to hate the computer yet still ask me to look things up for you, I cherish those moments when I call and I can hear you light up over the phone. Getting to bond with you about what shitty movie you went to go see is the highlight, like the time you went to go see “Woolberry” (Wolverine) and how much you love El Espartackoos (Spartacus). I *still* laugh about that.

You’re so kooky Don Enrique, but behind your wall of eccentricities and sternness, you are a soft man who really loves and provided for his family the way a real man should. A real man, not the way these half assed wimps that nowadays want to call themselves “father” and only pale in comparison.

I haven’t seen you in two years but that will soon change when you come spend 3 weeks with us this Summer. I am looking forward to it cause time is a luxury we all cannot afford and what little I get with you needs to count. Even if you insist on going to the grocery store and partaking in gross Hungry Man dinners and complain about the cost of everything.

I know you will probably never see this cause not only do you not know how to use the internet but you hate having to use your Ingles, but I wanted to put it out there cause I too, with my rough exterior and wall of protection, am a softie at heart. I truly wish you could comprehend just how much you meant to us over the years. You did the absolute best you could and it is all I could have ever asked for.

Feliz Dia Del Padre Señor. Eres el chingon de los chingones.

easter through the ages

As a kid, easter was always one of my favorite holidays. Forget all the religious mumbo jumbo! As kids, we were all about the hunt, the basket and the candy! Sure, our parents would drag us to church for the longest ass Catholic mass on the planet but still, who can complain when you got your Easter basket in tow, arriving in style in a pristine, burgundy colored Chevy Nomad. Man do I miss that car! Dad sold it to some collector who had the thing shipped to Hawaii if you can believe that… now, church? I don’t miss that business, AT ALL. Sit, stand, kneel, guilt, guilt, stand, sit, kneel… Can I have my hollow chocolate rabbit yet? Shit!

Amongst my digging for embarrassing family photos to put on facebook, I found these Easter gems. The blond? Yeah, that’s me. 🙂

Easter, AKA the day my sister and I were dressed up in matchy matchy outfits. What do I mean, Easter? It happened all the time!! Mom would make us different dresses but in the same fabric. Good times. You got to give Mom props though, she made us stuff all the time and the love and intention behind it is so damn cool.

This one really stands out. The parental units took us to the community hunt at Grape Day Park and I ended up picking up the specially marked peanut that allowed me to pick up on that basket with the Tweety Bird. SCORE. I can imagine Bee was pissed I had two baskets but hey, I won it what can I do? I am sure the folks made it up to her, but me? I was the Easter Basket Pimp. And yes, that is us, outside of church.

Although, this was one of the best Easters ever. Mom was so awesome and crafty, she made us these bonnets and put us in a contest. Bee got all shy and needless to say, she may not have won it but she stole the show in a big way, so much so that we made the local paper. Mom was so proud! And well, she saved these relics that I managed to have on hand for this joyous, sharing occasion.

I don’t remember if we won the whole thing but I do recall getting a gift certificate to a local toy store which I promptly spent on a Huckleberry doll from the Strawberry Shortcake collection. Oh and we were both wearing home made dresses in Strawberry Shortcake fabric which we promptly took home to play with in our Strawberry Shortcake explosion bedroom. We were mildly obsessed… bedsheets, wallpaper, toys, it was ridiculous. But hot dayum was I stoked!

Happy chocolate bunny, no one eats the black jelly beans, zombie jesus, damn my stomach hurts day y’all. And Bee? I miss you.

~and it’s here~

After much waiting, they are finally going to be ready for order. I know a few of you are all, “hey, I already have one (or more) and I don’t need another one”. That’s cool. I will say this though, a lot of people said that about my Day Of The Dead design and then missed out. The red+black edition will be limited so if you snooze you lose.

So happy with this collaboration, so click the banner to go to their site when the day comes.

the aftermath

So Xmas came and went. In a way I am glad it is over so I can take down this tree that is slowly but surely looking more like goth xmas. Yesterday I was up at the crack o’ dawn cause I couldn’t sleep… go figure it is xmas morning and my kid and husband slept in. Oh the irony.

We got up, had some coffee, did our gifts. I was kinda melancholy cause in a way I feel like I let Reza down with the whole Missing Dinosaur Saga of 2010. Fail. Then I felt like I totally shortchanged her when you hear of people getting their kids a ridiculous amount of loot. She doesn’t ask for much, she certainly doesn’t need that much either. She was super stoked on her art supplies, books, couple of movies, new underwear and PJs.

We really scaled back this year on the gift giving for obvious reasons. I really didn’t mind not having a bunch of gifts, it was more about seeing Josh and Reza be stoked on theirs. I hoarded away some money from paid photography work though, and against my better sense of responsibility, blew it all on Josh and bought him an iPad. Of course he gave me the “YOU DID NOT” look. In fact I was prepared for some wrath. I figured he can use it for music making, reading e-book on his travels, emails etc. Now, his birthday is a couple days away and it is a total douche move to get him the birthday/xmas present in one. Back then it didn’t matter, his former Jehovas Witness upbringing didn’t celebrate birthdays (blasphemy!) but now? I feel bad in a way cause his birthday is so close to xmas and I always feel like he gets robbed. Who can be angry though when you got a new, rad toy. He is giddier than Ralphie in The Christmas Story when he finally got his Red Rider BB-Gun. I feel guilty even putting this out there cause I know someone out there is going to get all judgment patrol about it… “oh they can’t do X but they can spend on X?”. If that is you, you can kindly piss right off. My man deserves every bit of it.

In traditional Carley xmas fashion, I got my annual gifts of socks + kitchen gadget. Josh always gets me something for the kitchen, this year it was an awesome spatula… and who can go wrong with knee-high socks clad with monkeys wearing headphones. Really now. He also got me an apron which is total gift with interest. He hopes one day he will come home to find me slaving in the kitchen, beads of sweat on my brown and cleavage, wearing nothing but that apron, high heels and a thong. It’s ok though, I did a gift with interest too… aka a new TOOL t-shirt so he can throw away the one he has with a hole the size of Montana in the armpit.

Spencer came over and the rest of the day was spent hanging around the house, talking shop, partaking in some eats, adult beverages and an incomplete attempt to watch the entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.

Speaking of eats… Tania AKA The Sheriff and her man candy stopped by with some freshly baked pie for us. I was not prepared for this in any way shape or form but holy shit, do the words Brownie Pecan Pie mean anything to YOU? They did to me and man, I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to a regular pecan pie after that. Wow. (linkage has the recipe if you so wish to partake in the mouthgasm I had yesterday). So good that I foresee one a many hours in the next few months glued to an elliptical machine. Oh so worth it though.

I of course finally got my hands on a Wacom tablet. I have wanted one since I was in college but never went there and I guess someone else went there for me. I have not had the ability to dabble in digital art on that level at all. So last night I busted it out and attempted to render the scarf bunny and this is what came out….

Not too bad for a first attempt I think. It takes some serious getting used to but it really is a nifty and fun gadget that I foresee, with some practice and experience, is the beginning of a wonderful relationship of digital rendering and painting. Exciting!

Midnight rolled around and we’re in the middle of Return Of The King when I decided to call it so we can go partake in some Ho, Ho, Hole in the bedroom. Hey now, hot sex on xmas makes the mission complete.

Also, I am fully aware that my blog has gone completely retarded in look and function. I am trying to fix it and am failing miserably. I am in process of getting it fixed so hopefully that will happen soon. I cannot stand things looking amateur as fuck. Truly, truly embarrassing. And then people wonder why I have kept a blog on LJ for so long. I suck at this in a big way.

On that note I have a kitchen explosion to pick up. Don’t we all?