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Last week I made my last visit to DC for a while. I have spent our last two years in Mexico traveling regularly to DC for work, but that is coming to an end as I am now grounded in Mexico until bebé arrives and will spend our last months in Mexico after bebé arrives on leave. As much as I am looking forward to ditching the travel schedule, I will miss my hometown. I felt lucky last week to see it at its holiday best. I took advantage of the spirit of the season by doing some of my favorite things: Christmas shopping in Georgetown capped off by dinner with a good friend, a visit to the National Christmas Tree, and a nightcap and snacks at Off the Record with my nearest and dearest. I know I will miss Mexico next Christmas, but having my own traditions in DC to return to gives me something to look forward to. Happy Holidays and Felices Fiestas, wherever you are celebrating this year!   

#holiday  #dc  

Holiday Outfit Series 2012



Holiday Outfit Series 2012: Posada
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This weekend is the first weekend of posadas and we have a couple on the agenda. These are usually pretty casual affairs that start earlier in the day and are focused more on eating, drinking and celebrating than on festive outfits.

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Holiday Outfit Series 2012



Holiday Outfit Series 2012: Office Holiday Party
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Week three of the 2012 Holiday Outfit Series and we are still going strong! My office holiday party in DC is this evening. Can you believe I will be missing it for the first time in 9 years? [!!!] I will be there in spirit though, so this week’s holiday outfit is dedicated to the dreaded office holiday party.

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Holiday Outfit Series 2012



Holiday Outfit Series 2012: Night at the Ballet
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I don’t know what you have on the calendar for this weekend and next week, but we have some tree buying, cookie making and decorating on our list. What I’m most excited about, though, are our tickets to the ballet.

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Holiday Outfit Series 2012



Holiday Outfit Series 2012: Black Tie
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are still celebrating with family in Texas and loving every minute of it. But, once the turkey is eaten and the shopping is done, the holiday party season is upon us. That means it is time for our annual Holiday Outfit Series.

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Día de Muertos Roundup

As everyone is packing up and heading to wherever they are headed for Thanksgiving, I thought I would post some final photos from our Día de Muertos excursions around Mexico City. This year we finally got down to Xochimilco to see the ofrenda at the Museo Dolores Olmedo. It was pretty spectacular - the photos don’t really do it justice. The good news if you haven’t been yet is that it will be on display through the end of the year. 

This was my first time at the museum and it lived up to its reputation. The grounds are beautiful, complete with roaming peacocks and lush gardens. I will be making a trip back to see the permanent collection and to eat at the restaurant, which looked and smelled delicious.

On the night of November 2nd we went down to Coyoacán with friends for some tacos and mezcal and to see the crowds. You might remember that last year we went to Coyoacán and the Casa Azul during the day to see the ofrendas, which was a much different experience. At night the square and the surrounding streets were packed with families dressed up in costumes. Most were more gory and scary than I am used to seeing in the US, even the kids. Everyone just seemed to be out to see what everyone else was dressed as. It was pretty great.

Here we are with one of the many people in costume who were posing for pictures [for a few pesos, of course]. What you can’t see is the back of this guy’s jacket.  It says “Policía Federal.” Would be funny if it weren’t so sad… 

Ofrenda

For the first time this year I put up an altar for Día de los Muertos. It’s pretty modest, but I think it is pretty good for my first time! I had tons of cempazúchil (marigolds) and pata de león (lion’s paw, I actually don’t know what these flowers are called in English) that I arranged on the altar and all over the apartment. I added a sugar skull, a giant pan de muerto, candies, a bottle of mezcal, velas (candles) and photos of our loved ones who have passed. I have some papel picado that I might add because, when it comes to altars, more is more. And if I were going to be really true to the tradition and include things that the deceased loved in life, I would add some beer and a couple of packs of Pall Malls.    

So what do you think? Anyone else putting up an altar for the first time? 

Check out some amazing altars I photographed last year around town here

Special thanks goes to my husband who went to the tianguis and got all the supplies to make this happen while I was out of town.  

Five Things

  1. I’m seeing more and more Dia de los Muertos stuff in DC this year, like this festive window display at Paper Source in Georgetown. Although I must say, trendy sugar skulls and papel picado are MUCH more expensive in the US than the real deal in Mexico.
  2. I am such a sucker for cute dog costumes this time of year - look at these amazing bulldog lions
  3. Alcohol sales are now banned in Plaza Garibaldi - I read this article in disbelief! I understand the rationale, but I can’t imagine going to Plaza Garibaldi without buying a giant michelada and walking around the square. 
  4. I am headed home to Mexico a day early to avoid the Frankenstorm on the East Coast and to start my preparations for Dia de Lost Muertos. We have everything ready for our altar and I’m really looking forward to setting it up - are you making an altar? What else should I be sure not to miss in Mexico City during Day of the Dead?  
  5. Finally - I voted early in DC this week and it was such a great experience. The poll workers who devote their time to making sure the process is easy and fair are saints and should all get medals. I hope that everyone - whether in the US or an expat abroad - remembers to VOTE!  

FOUR YEARS

Happy fourth anniversary to my wonderful husband! I love life with you. We are four years married, 11 years together, with many many more to come. I think this year holds great things for us. 

xx

See my anniversary posts from years past:

Super 8 Love

Three Years

Two Years

Shopping in Oaxaca

When we returned to Oaxaca this summer we told everyone we were going to see La Guelaguetza - and we were. We had tickets for the show and enjoyed it immensely. But to say that it was the reason for our trip was a little bit of a white lie. The real reason? I still had more shopping to do. Our first trip was a little overwhelming. Markets! Pueblos! Alebrijes! Where to start? We did a little bit of shopping, mostly for rugs, and returned to Mexico City.

The more I paid attention to the Oaxacan artesanías that you find here in the capital, the more I realized what an opportunity I had missed when we were in Oaxaca. You see, there is nothing from Oaxaca that you can’t find somewhere in Mexico City. But the variety and quality of those same things are just so far superior when you are local. So back we went, with pesos and patience. This time I paid attention to our favorite shops so that I could share them here, for anyone else who has only a few days in Oaxaca and is looking for some tips.

I should note that we did most of our shopping in the city rather than in the surrounding pueblos, where you can find even greater variety and lower prices. We found that the casas de artesanías offered the best combination of quality and efficiency. Also, the markets of Oaxaca are not to be missed - the Central de Abastos and the Mercado 20 de Noviembre are must sees and the best place to grab lunch or a mid-shopping taco. 

With that - here are my recommendations for places to spend your pesos in Oaxaca. You can see that my money went toward barro negro, rugs, and juguetes. 

RUGS

I was most interested rugs, and on both visits found the designs and colors I liked the most at the following two places. I bought at least one rug from each and have been impressed with the quality. Oaxacan rugs are 100% wool and made with natural dyes [most often vegetable or cochineal dyes]. At the Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca you can actually see rugs being made on the loom. In both shops, the families who make the traditional rugs are involved in sales and are happy to tell you about origins of different designs and about how the rugs are made. I wish we had made it out to Teotitlan del Valle, a pueblo known for its weavers. If you’ve been, I would love to hear about it.

Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca (MARO) - Cinco de Mayo 204

Teotitlan Rug Store - Adolfo C. Gurrión con Andador Turístico (right next to Santo Domingo)  


CLOTHES AND TOYS

There are many boutiques around Oaxaca that sell pillows, dresses and other textiles fashioned from vintage huipils. I loved the dresses and shirts at Silvia Suárez, and I especially loved their selection of handmade toys from Chiapas - they make great baby gifts.

Silvia Suárez Adolfo C. Gurrión 110


BARRO NEGRO

This black pottery is what a lot of people go ga ga for when they go to Oaxaca. I liked the more delicate patterns that I found at these casas de artesanías, but you can find black pottery all over town.

Casa de las artesanías de Oaxaca - Matamoros 105

La Plaza Artesanías de Oaxaca - Matamoros 103


MERCADOS

I could do an entire post about the Central de Abastos, but I’m sure that has been done before. If you are interested in Mexican cuisine it is fascinating to see the range of ingredients at the mercado, not to mention the cooks shopping there. It’s not just the food though, you can find anything and everything here. I recommend spending a while just wandering around. The baskets and kitchen utensils are particularly good buys. The Mercado 20 de Noviembre was a bit more manageable and had amazing leather goods - my husband found a great cinturon piteado there.   

Oaxaca experts - let me know what I missed.  Happy shopping!