Monthly Archives: October 2019

In the age of social media, we are constantly being reminded to “Live Your Best Life!”  

IMG_6646In fact, I think we are more conscientious about what is happening around us from day to day, whether it is in the news, or on a social media feed.  With one click, we can learn what is happening all the way in China, and we also know what our best friend is eating for breakfast. How amazing is it to be flooded with information at the tips of our fingers and be able develop such an awareness of how we live our lives!  But have you ever thought how that pace of processing information can potentially cause us to miss out on some of the most important things? I have to really sift through what I consume daily because I am trying to do my best to live with intention and create thoughtful memories with my family. I think I developed that quality from my Dad—who was a constant storyteller.  He loved to travel with us as a family and sharing his perspectives allowed me to see life through a different lense. He loved talking about art, history, religion and even politics. So you can say that over time, I sort of inherited the ability to record what I feel in my heart and capture vivid pictures in my mind—with the ability to share those experiences with the most careful detail.  

Because Living Your Best Life to me means that you are challenged to extract the lessons that life is teaching you–through each experience, both good and bad–and some sad.  A few years ago, my sister and lifelong companion—passed away.  Her passing was sudden—and it has been difficult to process.  On an occasion, I experience a deep sadness merely at the thought of her.  Fortunately, as the days pass, I have learned to cope with her loss by remembering.  We had the most amazing memories because I grew up sharing a room with her, laughing into the night talking and sharing stories.  We often recorded improvised soap operas with my father’s large VHS camera.  I can still hear her random laughs of joy when she would see something funny!  Those memories make me happy!

For Mexicans/Latinos—I think part of coping with death culturally and historically, has been through the practice of remembering our loved ones through a season called Dia de los Muertos

For many families, it is an important season to remember those who have passed from this life.  Traditionally, families set up a beautiful altar in dedication to those loved ones with Mexican Marigolds placed throughout, including some personal possessions or items that they loved while they were alive.  The most significant tradition is the preparation of a special meal that they once enjoyed. What a beautiful way to honor those who are no longer with us. It not only provides us with peace, but also gives us a sense of connection to those who impacted our lives so deeply.

I know that death is a part of life, but I have often asked myself–why do we wait to honor our loved ones in death–when we can so in life!   For that reason, I have made an explicit effort to enjoy each moment I have with my mom and my Abuela.  I love seeing her water her plants in her garden, or spending time cooking and eating together. I have been truly gifted with the opportunity to learn from her, and laugh together–and to share those experiences with everyone. 

IMG_6473One of her favorite things to do is grocery shop! I am not sure why, but I think it is just one of those funny and unique things that make her so special. Recently, we went to Vallarta Supermarkets, to walk the aisles and shop as she prepares for Dia de Los Muertos.  My Abuela is like a kid in a candy store–her eyes brighten as she walks through the aisles. My Abuela loves the fresh selection of Pan de Muerto from the Panaderia section. She particularly enjoys the fresh fruit and vegetables from the produce section. She carefully picks through the ears of corn, looking for just the perfect piece for my Abuelo.  As she passes la Floreria, she stops and gazes as theIMG_6509 selection of flowers, and leans forward and picks the perfect bouquet of Marigolds to add the final touch. She is preparing a small altar at her home, as she does every year in dedication to his life and the years they spent together.  Perhaps, it is her way of coping with the loss of Abuelo since his passing almost 17 years ago.  

Later, we will arrive home, unpack the bags of groceries from the car, and settle in.  With no words, and only a deep determination in her eyes, my Abuela pulls out that special elote and bright marigolds that she found at Vallarta Supermarkets, and slowly walks to the living room.  With a steady pace, she moves towards the corner of the living room where she has placed a framed picture of my Abuelo–and with the most delicate movement, care and consideration, she gently places the plate with the single ear of corn before the framed picture.IMG_6564  

There are some things that my Abuela has taught me with words, and other things, that she has taught me with her actions.  It does not matter how elaborate the altar, or how simple the gesture in one’s celebration–but rather, it is at the core—about keeping someone alive in our hearts.  I know that deep down, My Abuela does miss my Abuelo. And in the season of remembrance, such as Dia de Los Muertos, the altar represents resilience to live with purpose, even despite the loss of those we have loved, because it is a part of life.  She has taught me that to live–is to honor those who are no longer with us–by truly Living our best life!

Today, as I think about those special people we have lost in our lives, I personally celebrate my sister.  I know that one day we will meet again.  My heart tells me that one day I will be able to hug her again and tell her how much I have missed her.  Until then, I will continue to live with the intent to honor her with my life and to place upon the altar of my heart–Everything I do…in dedication to her.

We remember you today Eli.
We remember you today Tio Jose.
We remember you today Abuelo. 

Thank you Vallarta Supermarkets for sponsoring this conversation–and for accommodating us culturally and as a community–by having everything we need to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos!

This post is sponsored by La Banderita Tortillas.  All opinions are my own.


I love the transition from Summer to Fall.  Outside the leaves are changing colors, evenings are cooler, and the sunsets arrive earlier.  It means that the holidays are upon us, Christmas and Thanksgiving just around the corner. It marks the season of family, culture, and time to remember.   Dia de los Muertos is especially enjoyable because every year, as we place beautiful candles, set pictures of our loved ones, and delicately place beautiful cempasuchil flowers around, it signifies our appreciation for precious memories of people of significance in our family. As we gather around the kitchen to prepare Nopales Guisados con Carne Ranchera, we are always reminded of the stories of my Abuela’s grandparents.

Growing up in a small pueblo in Mexico, there is a fair expectation that even the children helped in the cultivation of the family farm.  Abuela was in her early teens, approximately 14 years old when she became a significant help to her parents at home.  Abuela’s labor included clearing the tierra from weeds, tilling the soil by hand, and planting seeds each season.  During those particular times, it was an all day event that involved the entire family;  so with the anticipation of laboring under the heat of the open air, her mother would wake up en la madrugada to prepare for the day by packing essentials for lunch.  In those times, all they could afford were tortillas and chiles.  On special occasions, they would be able to purchase some fresh meat from their local carniceria, but those moments were rare.  With their almuerzo packed, and after a brief morning cafecito, as a family they would begin their long journey up to el cerro.

From dusk until approximately midday, when the sun hung mightily over the open blue sky,  Abuela’s father would signal everyone that it was time to rest.  It was their reward for laboring so intensely in the tropical heat, as the clouds from the Michoacan skies began to roll in for the typical afternoon drizzle.  Everyone would take cover under the large trees and tejaban, which became their temporary refuge for their lunchtime rest.  They would make a fire between a couple rocks and place a metal pan over it.  The crackling from the fire and the smell of freshly burnt wood filled the air.  As they cleaned the prickly thorns from the cactus they had cut from just a few feet away, the pan sizzled with the meat as it seared.  The sounds and smells became like a virtual melody.  

Did anyone bring las tortillas?  

Of course someone packed them en el moralito (satchel).   Everyone would gather around the wood burning stove to enjoy the Nopales con Carne that was thoughtfully prepared.  After they were finished, they rested.  Resting after a good meal was required because it allowed for a moment to replenish the strength needed to continue working until the setting sun. As the sun slowly rested its face upon the distant horizon, the family packs up as it was time to end their work day. As they made their way back down from el cerro, dinner was already on their mind.  

Things have not changed very much for hard working families.  The days come and go quickly, and seasons pass steadily; those moments as families become more distant as we work to get through life daily.  When it comes to those whose heritage is characterized by meals shared with the people that make up your familia–mealtimes become a significant part of life.  In my house, I can feel the warmth of family as everyone eats, randomly different people reaching for a freshly warmed tortilla, combined with the low murmur of how everyone’s day was is shared.  It is the balance of appreciation for unity as well as the gratitude for the labor of preparation, that solidifies what it means to enjoy a delicious meal together. Personally, the times spent with my family is never wasted.  I especially enjoy when my mom and Abuela share stories of their youth during a meal, because it is in those moments, history comes alive–and old forgotten recipes are remembered. Somehow, our meals keep us connected to our memories of family–and those memories keep us connected to who we are.

Below you will find a simple, yet delicious variation of the meal my Abuela shared with her parents in the days of her working their Ranchito.  Today, and especially in this season, we enjoy making this dish in remembrance of my great grandparents.  Sitting around, telling their stories gives us a glimpse of who they were–and that is what is special about Dia de Los Muertos. While Dia de Los Muertos is a time to create altars and remember our antepasados, we find that the true altars are the ones we have placed upon our hearts, as we remember the beautiful memories of those who have passed on from this life–by enjoying the foods that remind us most about them. 

We hope you enjoy this very special dish!

Saquen las tortillas!




PREP TIME:  30 Minutes




2 Pounds Flank Steak
10 Nopales Cactus
1 Medium Onion
1 Cup Cilantro
4-7 Arbol Chiles
2 Tablespoons of Chicken Flavored Bouillon
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
La Banderita Tortillas (Corn or Flour)


  1.  Brown meat with salt and pepper to liking.
  2. Once meat has browned to your liking, cut into strips. 
  3. Cut 10 noplaes into stips (Cleaned nopales).
  4. Boil nopales in water for about 5 minutes.
  5. Strain nopales and rinse.
  6. Cut onion into slices.
  7. Fry onion in oil until translucent.
  8. Add arbol chiles and cook together for about 1-2 minutes
  9. Add nopales to the onion and chile.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  10.   Add meat strips.
  11.   Add chicken flavor bouillon.
  12.  Mix well.

You can serve as is or serve as tacos.


Taco assembling:

  1. Heat La Banderita tortillas (Cors or flour) on griddle.
  2. On top of the tortillas add 2-3 tablespoons of carne con nopales.
  3. Top with Cilantro and beans.