Category Archives: Blogging

My Day of the Dead Altars 2017

I’ve been creating Day of the Dead altars for many years now.  Every year I add more items to my DOD collection and swap thing up as I work through the set up each year.  It’s a very personal and sentimental process and not something that I want to get “routine” by any means.  Of course, there will be papel picado, monarch butterflies and votive candles.  But other things will change depending on photos I’ve discovered or stories I’ve heard of family members.

This year, I created a nicho retablo for my altar from a photo of my dad and his brothers and sister.  They are all sitting on a couch at my grandmother’s house – all smiles.  I love this photo!  It’s makes me smile and get misty-eyed all at the same time.  These siblings are clearly happy to be together and someone thought enough to capture this moment in black and white and I’m forever grateful for that.  This is my first time to create a retablo and it won’t be my last!  I wrote a blog post last week about how I created my retablo.  I have plenty of DIY arts and craft supplies on hand to make a few more so I can see my altars really taking on a new “look” next year.

The nicho retablo I created for my Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos altar this year!

One change I made this year was to create altars in just the dining room.  In past years, I’ve used the coffee table in the living room to honor my mother’s family.  This year I used half of the dining room table for the Stone/Weaver clan.  The other half shows my extended Zuniga family.  Then I incorporated the tea cart into the décor and placed the Odom/Wilson family there.  My husband’s parents wedding photo hangs in the corner where the tea cart is so this seemed like the perfect place for this particular altar.

My buffet has always been the Zuniga family altar for my dad, his parents and siblings.  This year I changed up the photo of my dad.  Usually I have the photo of him in his beloved T-Bird car but this year I found an old photo of him from his early professional days.  It’s larger and makes him seem larger than life even in his younger years.  I’ve tended to lay photos around the tables and altars too but this year I added a few more framed photos.  I think this will be a goal for next year – add more frames and also a few more retablos.

Every year it’s a labor of love to create these altars.  I started earlier this year so I could have them around a little longer.  I tend to want to leave them up for a few weeks after Day of the Dead if over too but they will need to come down this weekend.  When I take the altars down, I also take my time and reflect on everyone no longer with us.

Tonight I flipped the switches on all the votive candles on the altars and took some photographs of the beautiful setting.  Then I raised my Day of the Dead wine glass in a toast to those who are gone from our earthly presence but are clearly not forgotten.

Blog Like Crazy…Round Three!

If it’s November…it’s Blog Like Crazy month!!!  This is a month-long writing event created by Javacia Bowser, founder of the See Jane Write network, to encourage bloggers to exercise their writing muscles!  I’ve participated in this challenge for the past two years and loved it, but I wasn’t sure about doing it again this year…until yesterday.

I was taking my pup Lucy on her morning walk and thinking about my week.  I had just checked my emails before heading out the door with Lucy and saw one from Javacia with the subject line – “how to make the most of #bloglikecrazy.”  A few months ago I didn’t think I would do this again but the closer it was getting to November, the more I found myself thinking about the challenge.  I also found myself debating the pros and cons of participating and even talking about it out loud on my walk!   Yes, Lucy looked at me like I was nuts but sometimes it helps to hear my thoughts out loud!  Things like…what would I write about?  What if ideas don’t come through for me this year like they have in the past?  What am I afraid of, anyway???

One question kept popping up as I mulled all these questions over… did I have time to plan and write a blog post every single day in November?  Seriously, we have a weekend get-together with friends in two weeks, Thanksgiving planning is underway and we are also planning a trip to the beach…not to mention the Christmas decorating that has to happen at the end of the month before my December cookie swap party.  But the more I rolled that question around in my head the more laughable it became!  I mean, I’m recently RETIRED!  I have all sorts of time now, right?!  Well…

This writing challenge was quickly becoming a personal challenge since I no longer have an 8-5 job and structure has pretty much gone out the window these past four month!  Actually, I began to think that this would be a good way to introduce some sort of structure back into my life while doing something I love…writing and sharing my photography.  So…here I go again…about to blog like crazy for the third time.  You know what they say…third time is the charm!  Here we go…!!!

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Southern Señora Blog!

Cheers to 3 years!!!

Today is the day, 3 years ago that I decided I wanted to start a blog.  Well, that’s not exactly right…I started the process many months earlier…the research, questions about the mechanics of a blog, and many more.  Today is the day 3 years ago that I “launched” my blog!  I chose September 15th as my launch date because I wanted it to be significant and this is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month!  After all, my blog is a Hispanic lifestyle blog!!!

A few weeks ago I started looking back on my posts since last September.  I’ve written 47 in 12 months and took a little break from December through March this year.  I made many notes during the off months about what I wanted to focus on and the one subject that kept popping up was Fiesta.  I’ve written a lot about this festival that I’ve been a part of for the past 15 years.  We are celebrating our Quince this year so I’ve been reminiscing through photographs and telling some behind the scene stories of the event since 2003.  I’ve called this series – Fiesta Fridays and have two more posts scheduled before our anniversary event on September 30th!  It has definitely put me in a nostalgic mood!

My new YouTube channel! I have one video so far of my mother talking about the first time my dad kissed her! So Sweet!

Another thing I want to focus on more is creating video content.  I got a start several months ago when my sister Kanista was in town.  We decided to start video recording our mother telling stories of when she moved to Cambodia with her sister and parents, how she met our dad and eventually got married there.  That was such a fun night of great stories and laughter!  I need to do some editing and get them on YouTube and write a few stories surrounding the videos.  Again…another nostalgic event this year.

I used this for my profile picture the day I retired on July 7th…

The other major change in my life this year that had me nostalgic (briefly!) was retiring in July from my corporate life.  I worked for the same company for 37 years and while this happened a little sooner than I had originally planned, I honestly haven’t looked back.  I’ve had two months to reflect and think about what comes next and yet, there isn’t any pressure to jump into anything right away.   That’s been my biggest realization in all this…I can do nothing!  I can stay in my pjs all day and drink coffee until it’s time for wine!  The difference in my day-to-day routine (do I have a routine??) is being able to do what I want, do what makes me happy and create projects that are meaningful to me.  Who knows what opportunities are out there waiting?!

Right now, my time has been focused on Fiesta and the success of our anniversary event.  I’ve also been doing some work with my dear friend, Willie Chriesman, on his digital media venture that celebrates the people, places and trends that make Alabama food and drink great.  I’s called “a la carte Alabama”  and we’ve already been invited to a number of events covering new restaurants, Birmingham Restaurant Week and other festivals.  This is giving me the opportunity to use my photography skills and I’m sure there will be some writing involved with Hispanic foods and wines that I can’t wait to share!

Covering Restaurant Week as a contributor to A la Carte Alabama!

So, how do I celebrate year three of Southern Senora?  Well, I figured it was about time to create a Southern Senora Facebook page!  I know…I know what you’re saying – “you’ve waited 3 years to do this???”  Yeah…I don’t know why it has taken me this long in all honestly.  Maybe I was looking for just the right time.  And as it just so happens…today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month and this IS a Hispanic Lifestyle blog so…..

Today I launch my Southern Senora Facebook page to celebrate my 3rd year of blogging! Check it out!

Cheers to #bloglikecrazy Month!

IMG_0596Today is day 30 of something called “blog like crazy.”  It was a challenge issued by Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write.  The challenge was to write 30 original posts during the month of November.  (You may remember one of my posts this month about meeting “The Janes” back in July 2014 when I was working up the courage to start this blog.)

Javacia issued this challenge last year too but I was just getting started with my blog.  I launched on September 15th and I figured I had better get a few posts under my belt and figure this blogging thing out first!  So I tucked this in the back of my head and decided that if the challenge was issued this year, I would definitely do it!

I’ve learned quite a bit about myself through this process.  I’ve learned that I CAN blog every single day!  At first I thought I would run out things to write about but because I have been doing this consistently this month, ideas started popping up quite frequently.  To say I was excited and pleased would be an understatement.  Javacia said writing is like exercise and she is so right.  It takes practice to get better and I was definitely seeing this.  I also thought that people would get tired of seeing my posts.  Once the post is published, I would add it to my personal Facebook page, the See Jane Write and Alabama bloggers Facebook pages, my twitter account and finally, to my Instagram feed.  I started feeling like I was over saturating social media with my posts, but what I found out is that more people were finding me and commenting or “liking” my posts.

My family was also enjoying my posts and this is very important to me since I am writing a lot about them and our family history.  At first, I was a little worried that I would get some of the stories wrong or mixed up, but then I remembered – this is “my” voice and my recollection of things so once I internalized that, I would write the story.

Finally…since I always include my photographs in each of my posts, I realized just how any photographs I take in a month!  Yikes!!!  And this doesn’t include the old family photos that I have yet to scan, my dad’s slides and the photos I took before digital.  Of course, I have no intention of reducing the number of photos I take…  I really can’t help myself.  When I look at a scene, I’m always composing the picture in my mind when I don’t have a camera handy.  But I also take plenty with my iPhone too!

As I get ready to hit publish on this last post, I want to thank Javacia for the challenge and the encouragement.  If you are a blogger and have never tried this, I encourage you to give it a shot.  I’ve loved every minute of it!

Meeting the Janes…

IMG_9879A few weeks ago I wrote about Scott Dinsmore and how his website and a workbook he published helped lead me into the direction of becoming a blogger.  Part of this planning process involved doing some research and finding people and information on how to do this.

During my research I discovered something wonderful…I discovered See Jane Write. I had heard about this network – and The Janes – through my friend Nicole Thurston (Destination Unknown) a few years ago.  She is a blogger and attended one of the See Jane Write conferences and wrote about it.  I remember tucking that bit of information into the back of my mind for some reason.  Now I know why I did that.

After the self-assessment I did with Scott’s workbook, I went online and looked up See Jane Write and started reading.  I also noted that there was a mini-blog conference coming up at Homewood library.  I couldn’t wait to sign up for this conference!  I signed up and anxiously awaited that Saturday in July 2014…I was ready to meet The Janes and see what I could learn from them!

As I began gathering information about the conference and who the panelist and speakers would be, I dug a little deeper.  I looked up their blogs, took note of their blog design, read through some of their stories/posts. I really wanted to get a feel for what they were saying and how they were saying it. I didn’t know at that point if there was really a specific way to go about blogging. I also found all these bloggers on Instagram. Since I love photography, you know I LOVE Instagram! So I began following the panelist and looking through some of their photos to get a feel for their personalities and their lifestyles.

Then the night before the conference, a photo popped up from panelist – Chic in Academia (aka Bertha Hidalgo) and I commented on it.  She mentioned how excited she was to be a panelist at the conference.  Now, how many times have you commented on an IG photo of someone who has thousands of followers and you get a reply right back? That had never happened to me but it did with Bertha!  I commented that I would be attending and she immediately followed up and said to come see her and say hello!  Wow!  I was fascinated!

So….I did!  I got to the conference fairly early – I’m always an early bird and I quickly took a seat on the front row.  Can you tell I was eager?  I was excited to see Chanda Temple (Chanda Temple Writes) there and we sat next to one another on the front row.  I took a walk around the room a little bit later to explore, checked out the vendor tables and hen there she was…Bertha was sitting with two other panelist.  As I remember it, we made eye contact and it’s as if we already knew one another.  She jumped up and hugged me and I tell you, it made me feel wonderful!  We chatted for a bit, she  asked me about my blog – which I hadn’t launched yet – and I told her my ideas and what I hoped to accomplish.  She was so encouraging to me that day and continues to be as I take this journey.

Meeting Chic in Academia - Bertha Hidalgo - at the See Jane Write Mini-Conference.

Meeting Chic in Academia – Bertha Hidalgo – at the See Jane Write Mini-Conference.

As I met and spoke to other bloggers that day and shared my vision for Southern Senora, they were all so encouraging and liked my blog concept saying there really wasn’t anything like that “out there.”  I still had work to do to narrow things down but it made me feel good that everyone was so willing to share their experiences and offer advice.  I had come to the right place, for sure!

Morning panelist...

Morning panelist…

That day I learned so much and the mini-con also confirmed a lot of things that I had researched and discovered about blogging and myself in the process.  In addition to hearing from Bertha, I loved hearing from panelists Erica Bunker (Erica B’s DIY Style), Vanessa Culpepper (Budding Fashionista) and Heather Brown (My Life Well Loved).  Later in the day a great panel discussion took place featuring Carla Jean Whitley of Birmingham magazine, Tanya Sylvan of All in Stride, Williesha Morris of My Freelance Life, and Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day.  Alexis also gave the opening keynote speech and then Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Southern Femme closed the conference out by sharing her success story.  What a day!

Afternoon panelist

Afternoon panelist

And all this was possible because of the vision of one woman – Javacia Harris Browser – founder of See Jane Write.  Javacia is quite simply a rock star!  I am forever grateful to her for creating this organization that has given me access to such wonderful and encouraging people.  Thank you, Javacia!

Meeting the Janes has been a highlight in my blogging journey…

 

Thank you Scott Dinsmore…

Scott Dinsmore's goal setting workbook that I used in July 2014 that lead me to start my blog...

Scott Dinsmore’s goal setting workbook that I used in July 2014 that lead me to start my blog…

One year ago on September 15th, I launched Southern Senora blog.  It’s exciting to think back on when it started.  I pinch myself that I finally went ahead and started this blog after much hesitation, a little fear and soon discovered how much fun this has been.  Then something happened right around my blog anniversary date that really made me grateful that I took this step…

A few years ago I considered getting into the photography business. I had a few moments when I would get real encouraged and then…blah…the feeling would escape me.  The reality is that I enjoy photography so much I just didn’t really want to get into the true business side of it at that point. I love taking photos – something I believe I inherited from my father. I have his Leica camera in a place of honor in my house – loved seeing him with that camera and his leather pouch with all his equipment most of my young life. He was a civil engineer so you know everything he photographed had to be precise!

I put the photography business idea back on a shelf after doing a self-assessment at the beginning of July 2014.  Let me back up a bit.  In June, I was searching the internet for a goal setting exercise for my son when I landed on Scott Dinsmore’s site called “Live Your Legend” – Change the world by doing the work you love.  On his site I was able to download a goal setting and action plan workbook.  This sounded perfect for my son.  Heck, it sounded perfect for my whole family!  So I downloaded it, made copies for everyone and discussed it with the family.  They all thought it was nice but I don’t think they took it too seriously.  Me, on the otherhand…I got serious about this workbook!

I took a few days off to extend the Fourth of July holiday and decided to do some soul-searching.  My little sister, Kanista and I have always shared our New Year’s resolutions with one another to hold each other accountable.  We didn’t get around to it in 2014 – at least not in any detail.  So, I was floundering a little bit and remembering driving to work one day thinking – “what am I doing?”  I mean, I was driving to work, doing my work, but what was I accomplishing?  I think that was the question that really got to me.  What was I accomplishing?  And, in what direction was I going?

I woke up on July 2, 2014 and headed to IHOP for breakfast alone.  I had my notebook and Scott Dinsmore’s workbook and I got to work.  Several hours later, it was all clear.  I wanted to start a blog.  Better yet, I wanted to start a Hispanic Lifestyle blog!  I even had a name for the blog that popped into my head as I worked through this process.  I kept thinking how fortunate I was to have found this website, how much detail and thought was put into it and how I was benefitting from it!

One of the goals and a few action items I wrote out July 2014 that lead me to Southern Senora blog.

One of the goals and a few action items I wrote out July 2014 that lead me to Southern Senora blog.

Then…on the morning of September 16th, I checked my Twitter account – mind you, this is something I don’t do on a regular basis.  The first post that popped up was someone saying “RIP Scott Dinsmore.”  WHAT?  Was I seeing things???  I thought it was a sick joke!  I started searching more #ripscottdinsmore posts and they were so many.  WHAT had happened?  At that point, all I could find out was that Scott and his wife were hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro and he was killed during the climb by a boulder that had fallen on him.  He was 33 years old and he was in the middle of a year-long world tour as part of his Live Your Legend work.  I was beyond sad hearing this.  As I was celebrating my one year blog-anniversary with my family that evening, I shared this with my husband and children and they couldn’t believe it.  They have been so supportive of my blog and knew this was weighing on me as we celebrated.

I didn’t know Scott Dinsmore but his workbook, his website and his TedX video had been (and continue to be) so encouraging to me.  His mission was to help everyone to “find and do work you love.”  I just know that last July 2014, this young man named played a pivotal role in helping me get my blog started.  #RIPScottDinsmore and #thankyou.

Happy One Year Blogaversary Southern Senora!

IMG_7222

One year ago today I launched Southern Senora – a Hispanic lifestyle blog in Birmingham, Alabama!

Today marks one year since I launched my Hispanic lifestyle blog, Southern Senora!  What a wonderful ride it has been so far!

I remember wondering if blogging was something I should attempt.  So, I began doing some research and working through the ins and outs of blogging.  I attended a blog conference by the incredible Javacia Bowser, founder of See Jane Write, and met some wonderful women bloggers that day.   I’ll share more on that in another post.  Then one day shortly after the conference, I was at an event when I ran into my friend and blogger, Chanda Temple.  She asked if I had launched my blog yet and I said, “not yet,” and she said…”just do it!”  And so I did…and I decided on September 15th, 2014.  That seemed like the perfect date since it’s the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month and this is a Hispanic lifestyle blog, after all!  One thing I know about myself…if I set a goal, I’m going to accomplish it some how, some way!  And so it began…

I’ve met so many terrific people along the way…people who have been encouraging and who tell me they love what I’m writing about.  Some have even suggested things for me to write because they wanted to know more about Hispanic culture.  I love when that happens too!  One exciting invitation occurred recently.  Wade Kwon, long-time Birmingham writer, blogger and communications consultant, contacted me and asked if I would like to participate in his 30-day Wade on Birmingham series called the Future of Birmingham.  He launched this series this month in celebration of the 10th anniversary of his blog – Wade on Birmingham.  A few years ago, I probably would have declined thinking this wasn’t something I could do, but this invitation excited me and gave me a wonderful opportunity to share my voice from a Hispanic perspective.  Thanks much, Wade…or I should probably say, Gracias!

My essay has been included in Wade’s ebook, “The Future of Birmingham.”  You can read it (pages 19-21) by downloading the ebook for free at http://itswa.de/futureofbhamI hope you enjoy it and all the other essays included.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my one year blogaversary than to share this news.  Like I said…it’s been a wonderful ride so far!