Blog Posts by La Vida as we know it

  • Keywords to Avoid when Dating Online

    Before you use that search engine, learn how to become a wise, online dater when looking for real love.

    Getting wiser about online datingFrom Match and eharmony, to the ubiquitous Christian Mingle, online dating sites have become the way for singles of all ages and backgrounds to meet in hopes of finding lasting love. Establishing a romantic relationship via the internet has become so fashionable that, according to the latest data, three out of four US singles have tried dating websites. Not only do these services claim to offer a perfect match based on your own unique personality and desired traits, but they also provide a sense of safety and simplicity that may or may not be completely accurate.

    I've been cyber-dating for a while and my experience has been somewhat mixed. I did find a wonderful man once and things looked serious for a while, but unfortunately we found out that marriage wasn't in the cards for us. Although, the way we met allowed us to avoid wasting time.The more you search the web for partners, the

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  • A Modern Look at Abuela’s Dating Rules

    A modern look at Abuela's dating adviceSome of those old-fashioned dating ideas may actually be more sound than you think. Here's a look at those rules that make more sense today than ever.

    Boy meets girl. They exchange numbers. Boy doesn't call. Three days later girl calls boy-"How ya doin'?" They go out,and spend the night together. Boy leaves next morning. Girl never hears from him again.

    While many would say with a sigh of resignation that this is just the way relationships are these days, I've been wondering how much of Abuela's old dating ideas are relevant today. And no, I'm not talking about going back to chaperonas, or avoiding kissing until you get married. I'm talking about taking a page from previous generations to learn about grasping the deep, enduring love we yearn for.

    Treat yourself right with a DIY spa treatment at home

    There's an old Spanish refrán that says "En el amor, el hombre caza y la mujer pesca" (or "In love, men hunt and women fish"), and I think that this funny saying summarizes all I heard

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  • When Latinos Need to Translate Their Own Language

    A friendly recipe exchange brings to light a long-held secret among Latinos. When it comes to food, the same language can have different meanings.

    Puerto Rican rice and beansMy mom was excited. Her first Latina friend in the states was coming over to have coffee and chat. Netty and Mami had lots in common: four kids, a love for cooking and the same language-or so they thought. When my Boricua mom and her new Colombian friend sat to sip café con leche and exchange recipes, they quickly realized that even though they were both native Spanish speakers, the other lady might as well be speaking Chinese when it came to talking about food! It got even funnier when they started using a dictionary to bridge the gap between their own, unique versions of Spanish.

    The fact is that even though Español is the mother language of all Latin Americans (with the exception of Brazil), the words used for some of the most common items- especially food-can change drastically from one country to another, leaving many Latinos shaking

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  • 12 Skills You Must Teach Your Kids

    Sure, your kids can use an iPad and order movies on demand, but how savvy are they when it comes to life's basic skills? Take them back to basics, teaching them practical skills they'll need to become well-rounded adults.

    Learn how to tie a tieFamilies these day- and especially kids- seem to rely on technology for virtually everything. Need information for a school paper? Google your subject, and the amount of data available is overwhelming. Need to learn how to tie your shoes? I'm sure there's an easy-to-follow YouTube video that'll explain. Books, games, recipes, movies- there's no limit to what can be reached and learned with the right high-tech device.

    A useless generation?
    So, I started to ask myself: Are our kids relying on technology and other amenities so much that they'd be rendered useless if they didn't have the conveniences they've grown accustomed too? What kind of skills do they have in their "life bag" that could help them if there were no more smartphones or iPads? I'm continuously amazed

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  • You Say Santa, I Say Reyes

    Twelve days after Santa arrives with presents, an unassuming threesome comes to offer their gifts to children, sparking a world of magic and imagination. This is the Reyes tradition we Latinos grew up with.

    The Three Kings worship Baby JesusThe Three Kings worship Baby Jesus It's been said that the longest Christmas celebration in the world is Navidad in Puerto Rico. Maybe it's because we, Boricuas, mix the American custom of beginning right after Thanksgiving with the traditional Christmas calendar, and then we continue with Las octavitas all through January. The season finally comes to a close on February 2nd when we celebrate La Candelaria, and burn the Christmas tree in a big bonfire. It's a non-stopping fiesta of grand proportions!

    But as far as Puerto Rican children are concerned, the season is really about those 12 days between December 25th and Día de Reyes on January 6th (the same days the famous carol sings about). There's nothing like the excitement of waiting for Santa Clós to bring those highly anticipated presents on Christmas morning!

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  • When Two Cultures Meet One Holiday

    A holiday that began as the celebration of two cultures-Indians and Pilgrims-coming together to share a Thanksgiving en familiaThanksgiving en familiatable, has also joined Latinos and Americans into one family.

    Growing up in Puerto Rico, we get the opportunity to celebrate many of the traditional US holidays, but I have to say that one of my favorites is Día de Acción de Gracias, or Thanksgiving, as it is known in the mainland. Just imagine having turkey, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes, along with Puerto Rican yellow rice, roasted pork and coconut-based desserts in 80+ degree weather. Every year our friends and relatives would join together to sit at the same table to laugh, talk and say a prayer of thanks-in Spanish, of course. It was the type of gathering beautiful memories are made of.

    Once we moved to the states, and as my brother and sisters began to marry, the families they married into became integrated with our holidays. Soon, our table started showing signs of new traditions. There was a broccoli casserole

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  • The Abuela Chronicles: Rich at Last

    Abuela Rigo lived a life full of adventures and hardships. She loved and fought for what she believed in and for those she loved the most. Her stories growing up very rich (and then very poor) in Puerto Rico are the stuff of legends, and I'll try to share them- and her- with you. Welcome to The Abuela Chronicles.

    "This is your home, so when you get ready to die, come back and die in your own bed!"

    And with those words, Petra slammed the door behind her husband as he left, suitcase in hand.

    It was over. Over when Petra found out that Pepe had a girlfriend in every town they had lived in and had set each one up with an apartment, car, driver and housekeeping staff. Over when Petra learned that the endless sacks of money her husband spilled onto the mahogany dining table were not the result of his work overseeing the tobacco fields, but the illegal gains of his long nights gambling and moonshine-making. And now, with the police after him and a pregnant lover demanding him

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  • Grandma’s Ultimate Pasteles: A Festive, Caribbean Dish for the Holidays

    A labor of love brings a Latin family's Christmas table together in the US.Puerto Rican PastelesPuerto Rican Pasteles

    At four feet, eleven inches, my Abuela Rigo was a bundle of energy that had no match in my family. She could clean a house, take soup to a sick neighbor, argue with my uncles and still have the strength to take us grandkids shopping all in one day and well into her 80's.

    But there was no place like the kitchen for the dynamo that was my grandmother; she could cook like no other. And all her Puerto Rican dishes-from rice and roasts, to potato salad and sweet coconut desserts-were absolutely the best thing our family ever had. Her trademark? Make everything from scratch, and spend the money on the best ingredients you can find.

    So, you can imagine what our Christmases were like. When we lived in Puerto Rico, the menu for Navidad included roast pork, arroz con gandules, her own potato salad, glazed ham with pineapple, maraschino cherries and cloves, arroz con dulce (coconut rice with raisins) and the

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  • Grandma’s Ultimate Puerto Rican Pasteles

    Enjoy one of the Caribbean's most cherished holiday dishes.

    Makes 4 dozenPuerto Rican PastelesPuerto Rican Pasteles

    ACHIOTE OIL

    Ingredients
    1 ½ cup of corn or vegetable oil
    ¼ achiote (or annatto) in powder form*

    Check out the story of how Abuela's pasteles are the ultimate!

    MEAT FILLING

    Ingredients
    2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
    1 lb. boneless smoked ham
    ¼ cup Adobo Goya Sin Pimienta*

    SOFRITO

    1 garlic bulb, peeled and finely chopped
    1 large green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
    1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
    1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
    1 tomato, finely chopped
    1 small can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
    1 can (16 oz.) garbanzo beans with liquid
    ½ cup raisins
    1 jar (8 oz.) chopped pimentos with liquid
    1 jar (8 oz.) manzanilla olives, drained
    ½ cup capers, drained


    MASA (or dough)

    Ingredients
    5 lbs. yautia or malanga, chopped*
    25 green bananas, chopped**
    2 lbs. pumpkin or squash, chopped
    2 green plantains, chopped
    ½ cup

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  • Puerto Rican Adobo for a Flavorful Holiday Bird

    A great holiday deserves a tasty turkey.A great holiday deserves a tasty turkey.A family rub recipe that will infuse great, Latin flavor into your holiday table.

    I come from a long family line of meat-cooking greats: from my Tío Marcelo and his restaurant featuring a delicious Christmas fire-roasted pork, to my brother-in-law Brad who's an ace at cooking an authentic Puerto Rican Thanksgiving turkey. But no self-respecting Boricua will ever cook meat that has not been carefully and thoroughly seasoned beforehand. The whole idea of putting a "plain" turkey or a roast in an oven could send my family into gasps of horror. ¿A quién se le ocurre comer una carne sin adobar? (Or, who could even think of eating meat without seasoning it?)

    Serve this amazing cilantro and plantain soup to begin your holiday dinner

    So, with so many good cooks in the family, it becomes a bit hard to decide who has the better rub recipe. No one can argue, though, that my uncle Peter knows his stuff when it comes to pre-seasoning and cooking a great, holiday bird. I sat down to rack

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