Category Archives: Sugar Skull

Day of the Dead Décor – It’s Everywhere!

img_1320-1Every fall I look forward to discovering new Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos items to add to my growing collection.  This year it seems stores had their items out even earlier than usual.

The first place I always hit is World Market.  Usually, they have quite a huge spread of items but this year the collection wasn’t as large.  Mind you, this is always my “go-to” place for DOD items so in fairness, it could be that I’ve collected most of their items already!  At any rate, over the course of 3 visits, I picked up some cute things including a Mariachi skeleton pillow, sugar skull measuring cups, sugar skull measuring spoons, 2 sugar skull nutcrackers and two ornaments – one sugar skull and one hot sauce bottle!  I haven’t checked other stores in my area to see if they have a more robust collection in their stores…there is still time and I may do that, but I really do love the things I’ve picked up so far.

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Sugar skull measuring spoons and measuring “skulls” from World Market.

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Mariachi pillow from World Market! So cute!

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img_1317 img_1316 img_1315Target is another place to pick up cute DOD items.  This year, their selection was also a little limited.  Again, I think I bought everything they had last year, including a door wreath which will go up on my front door the last weekend in October.  I bought a sugar skull vinyl tablecloth along with a DOD banner and a sugar skull dog statue.  The tablecloth reminds me of the beautiful colorful Mexican vinyl tablecloths that my cousins always use in their decorating.  On another trip, I found a sugar skull cup and a kit to make sugar skull pumpkins.  I bought two pumpkins over the weekend for Halloween decorating so I’ll convert those using the kits this weekend.

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img_1313 img_1312Finally, last week I was in Michaels and saw an adorable DOD door wreath.  I considered buying it as I walked through the store and then I turned down an aisle and found an entire display of DOD items!  It would have been easy to go nuts and add everything to my cart but I took a deep breath and selected just a few things – a DOD “coffin”, 6 small sugar skull plates and a Catrina statue – an iconic DOD item that is seen every year at the local DOD Festival in downtown Birmingham!

Honestly…it seems as though you can find DOD and Sugar Skull items all over the place these days.  I always look forward to pulling out all my stored items as I prepare to make my annual altars and decorate my house.  I think this year I’ll need to add another storage container for all my new items!

Do you have any favorite DOD items?  If so, please share them with me.  I would love to see them and know what you do to celebrate Day of the Dead!

Frida and Mary

First DOD pillow purchase from Earthbound Trading Company at Brookwood Mall. Frida Kahlo surrounded by sugar skulls.

First DOD pillow purchase from Earthbound Trading Company at Brookwood Mall. Frida Kahlo surrounded by sugar skulls.

Right before Day of the Dead (DOD), I was at Brookwood Mall and wandered into Earthbound Trading Company.  There was a huge display of DOD items and I loved going through and checking everything out.  Interestingly, the one item I came home with that day was a pillow.  That’s right…a pillow!

There was a large box in front of the display with an assortment of DOD pillows.  Of course, there was requisite sugar skull pillows in an assortment of colors, but the ones that got my attention had the images of Frida Kahlo and the Virgin Mary on them.  It took me quite a while to decide which one I wanted – mind you – they weren’t on sale.  Since it WAS close to DOD, I decided on the Frida pillow surrounded by several sugar skull characters.  When I got to the checkout, I remembered I had a discount coupon of 30% via email.  YAY!  I love a bargain and although I was about to pay full price for this pillow, the 30% off really made it sweeter!

A week after DOD, I was once again at Brookwood running errands when I ducked into Earthbound to see if they had any DOD items on sale.  Low and behold…they had ALL the pillows deeply discounted – among other things!  I’m talking 65% OFF!  Woowhoo!!!  So, I came home with TWO more pillows that day!  One has the image of the Virgin Mary on it and the other is Miss Frida again.

Virgin Mary pillow from Earthbound Trading Co.

Virgin Mary pillow from Earthbound Trading Co.

When I got home, I put them on the wooden bench in our foyer…it was the perfect place and I think they’ve found a permanent home.  That is…until Christmas, when they take a short hiatus for my Feliz Navidad pillows!

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Another Frida Kahlo pillow – this was in square shape – the others are all rectangular.

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I think all three of these pillows have found their forever home on my Mexican bench in my foyer…what do you think?

A Look Back at Birmingham’s Day of the Dead Festival

Candles light one of the altars at Day of the Dead #13

Candles light one of the altars at Day of the Dead #13

Every year I look forward to Birmingham’s Day of the Dead Festival.  This was year 13 for the festival and while it was a rainy day, the rain stopped right before the event was set to start and people made their way downtown.  As I’ve always said, DOD is a photographer’s mecca!  For a week after the event, it’s fun to see all the social media posts and photos of everyone dressed out in sugar skulls.  Photographers J. C. Bravo and Larry O.Gay are always on hand and capture incredible shots of the people .  In my opinion, their photos are breathtaking and really showcase the beauty of Day of the Dead.  Check J.C. and Larry out on Facebook when you get a chance and you’ll see what I mean…

Photo taken by photographer Larry O. Gay with my camera. Thanks Larry!

Photo taken by photographer Larry O. Gay with my camera. Thanks Larry!

At one point early in the evening, Larry grabbed my camera and took a photo of me with my husband, and my friend Theresa Deleon and her daughter.  So I now have an “original” Larry Gay photo on my very own camera!  Thanks Larry!

Meanwhile, instead of talking about the event, I’ll just let my own photos tell the story…

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The Zuniga-Odom Family Altar for Dia de los Muertos – 2015

Zuniga-Odom altar 2015

Zuniga-Odom altar 2015

My altars this year were very similar to last year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to change things up a bit but I didn’t plan very well. So, I’ll hold those ideas until next year…

Meanwhile, I did add more to my dining room table altar! I always use a pair of two-tiered plate stands for different events and gatherings at my house. Since I bought the cute male and female sugar skulls at Target, I used those on the top place and scattered marigolds on the bottom plate. It really made the table explode in color!

Something new on my altar/table this year is the two tiered stand - a great place to put my new Sugar Skull in top hat decoration (from Target) - just add marigolds!

Something new on my altar/table this year is the two tiered stand – a great place to put my new Sugar Skull in top hat decoration (from Target) – just add marigolds!

I have to admit, it’s hard to take everything down. I’ll be doing that this weekend but the candles – the battery operated flicker kind – make the dining room and living room so beautiful at night.

Until next year…Feliz Día de los Muertos!

One of my favorite photos with my dad...

One of my favorite photos with my dad…

The Zuniga siblings  my grandfather (far right) Apolonio Guerrero (Polo)and his siblings.

The Zuniga siblings my grandfather (far right) Apolonio Guerrero (Polo)and his siblings.

My dad, Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga, in his T-bird.  Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand.  His handkerchief, rosary and Air Force pin.

My dad, Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga, in his T-bird. Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand. His handkerchief, rosary and Air Force pin.

My dad's Leica camera...next to a tequila shot set I bough in Mexico many years ago.

My dad’s Leica camera…next to a tequila shot set I bough in Mexico many years ago.

Zuniga family crest on a cloth bag - these were given out at a recent Zuniga family reunion.

Zuniga family crest on a cloth bag – these were given out at a recent Zuniga family reunion.

My coffee table altar with pictures of my mother's family - her parents, sister, grandparents...  My pup, Lucy helped by watching.

My coffee table altar with pictures of my mother’s family – her parents, sister, grandparents… My pup, Lucy helped by watching.

A favorite photo of my grandparents and aunt - Onnie and Louise Stone and Gail Stone Thomas.

A favorite photo of my grandparents and aunt – Onnie and Louise Stone and Gail Stone Thomas.

Zuniga family photos - my dad, his siblings and parents (front photo) and my grandparents Zuniga on their wedding day (photo on left).

Zuniga family photos – my dad, his siblings and parents (front photo) and my grandparents Zuniga on their wedding day (photo on left).

Zuniga-Odom altar at night

Zuniga-Odom altar at night

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Sugar Skulls are a Girls Best Friends!

Day of the Dead sugar skull red earrings found at Charming Charlie - they had red ribbons on them but I took those off!

Day of the Dead sugar skull red earrings found at Charming Charlie – they had red ribbons on them but I took those off!

I am always on the lookout for cool and interesting Day of the Dead jewelry.  I have a  growing collection at this point and pull it out every October to wear a few pieces through Day of the Dead.  Not that I haven’t worn some of these pieces throughout the year…I just like to preserve most for the actual celebration period to keep them special.

Turqoise calavera earrings with fuchsia floral eyes...found at Charming Charlie.

Turqoise calavera earrings with fuchsia floral eyes…found at Charming Charlie.

Interestingly, the first place I began finding sugar skull jewelry was at Charming Charlie.  I found a pair of red skull earrings with the small dangling silver chains.  They had red bows on them too but I removed those – that made them a little TOO over the top for me!  I also found a small pair of turquoise sugar skull earrings with fuchsia flowers for eyes.  I wore these last year with a sugar skull scarf I found at Claire’s Boutique many years ago.  Finding DOD items at Claire’s Boutique was another surprise store!

Brown sugar skull with rhinestone and yellow accents....makes the sugar skull look like he can fly!

Brown sugar skull with rhinestone and yellow accents….makes the sugar skull look like he can fly!

Charming Charlie’s has great sales on their jewelry so I always head to that section first and a few years ago I found these funky brown sugar skull earrings…the rhinestones make the skulls look like they have a body and the yellow pieces remind me of wings.  I picked these up for $4 on sale – actually I bought a few and gifted some to friends who have a special interest in DOD.

The last item I found that particular day was a necklace with white sugar skulls, silver, turquoise and cloisonné beads.  I like it because it’s very subtle and the colors go with a lot of things I own.

Long sugar skull necklace with cloisonné beads, and silver beads.

Long sugar skull necklace with cloisonné beads, and silver beads.

On our way back from a family reunion in New Mexico a few years ago, I hit the gift shop at the airport and found so many interesting things.  The jewelry was kitschy like the black Day of the Dead stretch bracelet I picked up.  I also got a few sugar skull and beaded stretchy bracelets that have turquoise accents.  I generally wear these every year during our local DOD festival.

Day of the Dead bracelet I found at the airport gift shop in Albuquerque, NM.

Day of the Dead bracelet I found at the airport gift shop in Albuquerque, NM.

Earthbound Trading at Brookwood Village Mall always has some unique DOD items.  As for jewelry, I spotted some Sugar Skull lapel pins a few years ago and bought one of each design.  I left with 6 and wore them on my jacket to the DOD festival.  They got a lot of attention that year at the festival!

Sugar Skull (calavera) pins found at Earthbound Trading Company store at Brookwood Mall a few years ago.

Sugar Skull (calavera) pins found at Earthbound Trading Company store at Brookwood Mall a few years ago.

My Frida Kahlo stretch bracelet was discovered in a little shop in Forest Park.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that shop is there anymore…  I love the many faces of Frida on this bracelet.  I used to wear it quite a bit but decided to put it away for a while.  It may be time to “resurrect” Frida…

Frida Kahlo bracelet...

Frida Kahlo bracelet…

These pieces are mainly “novelty” type items however I DO like finding interesting artistic pieces too.  I’ll share those pieces and the stories behind those in a future post.

 

Preparing for Day of the Dead – 2015

Some of the items on my Day of the Dead living room altar include a Day of the Dead book, carnations, butterflies and photos...

Some of the items on my Day of the Dead living room altar include a Day of the Dead book, carnations, butterflies and photos…

Day of the Dead is tomorrow and I just finished up my altars at home this afternoon.  I feel like the celebration snuck up on me this year with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately.  Last year I decided I would use real marigolds on my altars in the dining room rather than the silk ones from the craft store.  Well, that didn’t happen…  I also wanted to go through all my photos and bring some new ones out of some of my family that’s gone.  Again, that didn’t happen…I am in the process of moving my ginormous stash of photos and slides to my daughter’s old room so things are a little disorganized at the moment.

A copy of a photo of the some of the Wilson children...front and center is my mother-in-law, Johnnie.  Behind her are her brothers Jim and Bob and to her right is her sister Joyce.  Uncle Jim was the last remaining Wilson sibling and he passed away this October.

A copy of a photo of the some of the Wilson children…front and center is my mother-in-law, Johnnie. Behind her are her brothers Jim and Bob and to her right is her sister Joyce. Uncle Jim was the last remaining Wilson sibling and he passed away this October.

All this feeling of disorganization went away last night as I added the last photos to my altars and a few new touches.  Funny how things just come together when you need them to and this evening I am so pleased with the result.  I just want these altars to be a special tribute to the family that is now gone, especially the recent losses we have experienced.  Earlier this year we lost my cousin Chila – Orcilia Zuniga Forbes quite suddenly.  Just a few weeks ago, we lost my husband’s Uncle, James Edward Wilson who was 93.  So sad to be adding more people but at the same time, it’s good to remember them, their accomplishments and the love we had and continue to have for them.

My cousin, Chila - Orcilia Zuniga Forbes - who passed away suddenly a few months ago.  I love this photo of her that is on the Meyers Trust website in tribute to her service on this foundation.

My cousin, Chila – Orcilia Zuniga Forbes – who passed away suddenly a few months ago. I love this photo of her that is on the Meyers Trust website in tribute to her service on this foundation.

I set tea-light candles out on the altars this afternoon and took photos of everything.  Tomorrow, I will light the candles and spend some time with my altars remembering the good times and wonderful lives of our family members who are no longer with us physically.

This photo of Uncle Jim kept getting reposted on Facebook shortly after his death.  I love this picture...a gentle and good man in the presence of animals.

This photo of Uncle Jim kept getting reposted on Facebook shortly after his death. I love this picture…a gentle and good man in the presence of animals.

Finding Tesoros in Austin, Texas

Beside Tesoros in Austin, Texas...this painting of the Virgen of Guadalupe is clearly visible from the street.

Beside Tesoros in Austin, Texas…this painting of the Virgen of Guadalupe is clearly visible from the street.

I went to Austin, Texas two weeks ago with my husband.  Eddie had a business conference and I went along since this place is on my “must visit” list.  Quite eclectic!  I mean, when your motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” I guess you kind of have to be eclectic!  We arrived early on Sunday and after checking into our hotel we immediately started exploring Austin.  First lunch at Annie’s, explored the Pecan Street Festival, checked out Mexic-Arte Museum, snacked at Walton’s Fancy & Staple, walked through the Texas State Capitol and finally had a light dinner at Second Bar & Kitchen.  Whew!  Exhausted but exhilarated!

I always do a little research before we travel looking for “off the beaten path” type places to check out.  Aside from restaurants, thrift stores and historical sites, I wanted to find some unique shopping.  I figured in Austin I would find a number of stores with Mexican art  when I stumbled upon Tesoros in the hotel magazine.  Located on South Congress (or Soco), I could have stayed there all day and not seen everything!  What a treasure trove – hence the name Tesoros!  (Duh!)  Outside the store there is a huge painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe.  So iconic and easy to spot.  Thankfully, there was parking behind the store – because parking can be a bit of a challenge in Austin!!!!  And they back into parking spaces there which is new to me…

Overwhelming display of Day of the Dead items at Tesoros in Austin, Texas!

Overwhelming display of Day of the Dead items at Tesoros in Austin, Texas!

The Tesoros website states that they are a retailer and wholesale distributor of folk arts and crafts and traditional items from over 20 different countries.  They definitely had a large supply of items from Mexico!  I naturally gravitated toward the Day of the Dead items and couldn’t believe the selection and variety.  There was a section on Frida Kahlo and I kept coming back to the Frida Retablo.  I knew I would come home with that one at least.

The Frida Kahlo display at Tesoros in Austin, Texas

The Frida Kahlo display at Tesoros in Austin, Texas

Next I found the Mexican tin ornaments.  I have picked up tin ornaments over the years and they are heavily featured on my Mexican Christmas tree at home each year.  I ended up picking up quite a few – putting them all out on the floor to see which ones I really wanted.  That’s when one of the sales people brought me a basket.  I knew I was in trouble now…

Mexican tin Christmas ornaments...this was just side one!

Mexican tin Christmas ornaments…this was just side one!

I walked around the back of the display and there were more ornaments including the Loteria (lottery) ornaments and quite a few hearts – some plain tin, some painted red and others with mirrors.  I could have bought them all…but I needed to be mindful of getting everything back on the plane!  One of the funniest items I found was the Michael Jackson sugar skull complete with silver glove!  I really should have bought one…

Michael Jackson Day of the Dead ornament! I wish I had bought it now...

Michael Jackson Day of the Dead ornament! I wish I had bought it now…

The last item I bought at Tesoros was a vinyl table-cloth/oil cloth.  I know that sounds boring but these tablecloths are so colorful and really create a traditional Mexican scene when you are setting a Mexican table.  I kept picturing my Fiesta dishes on the tablecloth.  They had so many colors and designs, it was hard to decide but I’m typically drawn to turquoise so that’s the one I got.

Here is a slideshow of some of the items I brought back…I think I’m going to need a bigger Mexican Christmas tree this year!  Oh…and I photographed them on a thrift store Mexican blanket I found for $5…

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