3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyForHolidays #CollectiveBias

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

Hi friends! So it’s no surprise that I love bees and I love honey. Anyone who knows me knows that I love anything related to bees! I use honey in recipes all the time, especially baked goods but I wanted to do something different. I also wanted to channel my family’s love of cooking and give them something that they can add to their dishes while showing you how easy it is to do the same. I love making handmade gifts for the holidays, especially gourmet food ones, but I also want something that looks pretty, tastes amazing, and is easy to make. Salad dressings using Don Victor honey are perfect for just that!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

Using Don Victor honey can help you make different and easy salad dressings and vinaigrettes that would make perfect stocking stuffers or gourmet gifts. You can use them on salads, pasta salads, as dipping sauces for antipasta, charcuterie, or crudite plates, or for dressings on main dishes. Plus, the honey comes with the honeycomb! I used it in the beautiful salad recipe below but it’s also great smeared on warm toast or crackers or served with a cheese plate!

Storing your honey at room temperature is ideal – so think kitchen counter or pantry shelf. You can put it in the fridge if you want but it will accelerate the crystallization of the honey. If this happens, just put your honey jar in a bowl of warm water and stir it until the crystals dissolve. Or put it in a pan of near boiling water that has been removed from heat. Easy!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

Every year for the holidays, my extended family usually does a coordinated gift exchange where we draw names and get those people gifts. People give each other gifts outside of the exchange too – for example, my brother and I go to my godparents’ house on Christmas Eve to exchange godparent/child gifts. My mom and my godmother usually exchange small personalized gifts during this time too – just to show an extra appreciation and love for one another. Watching them do this inspired me to give my three female cousins their own little gift outside of our gift exchange. They are like sisters to me and so I want to make sure they know how much I love and appreciate their presence in my life.

And so a few years ago, I started making them each a handmade gift – usually the same thing but I would personalize it for each of them. I love being able to make them something with my two hands – I love DIY and taking the time to channel each of their amazing personalities into gifts is one of my favorite holiday traditions. We are all strong Latina women doing amazing things – one cousin had a PhD in education, another one spearheads a family business, and the other is a manager boss genius! We inspire each other all the time and this is one small way (out of many) that we stay connected to each other.

I’m thinking gourmet salad dressings as their homemade gift this year (shh! don’t tell them!) but I of course had to do a test run first. 😉 To you know… make sure they taste good… I encourage you to do the same! All three of the salad dressing recipes can be altered to your liking!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes
These are all very quick to make. I made these all at the same time in three different bowls. You probably have a lot of the ingredients in your kitchen and pantry already! I know I did! Also, check your kitchen to see if you have reusable jars or bottles. If you don’t, you can always check discount stores or thrift stores to see if they have what you need. Re-purposing is great! This makes these an inexpensive but gorgeous and delicious gift to give. You can use them as stocking stuffers or in gift baskets or package them up nicely in a pretty gift box.

Honey Sesame Dressing

Makes: 8 ounces
Prep Time: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons Don Victor Orange Blossom Comb Honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
salt to taste

Whisk everything together in a bowl and then pour into your dressing jar or bottle.* Done!

Honey Lime Dressing

Makes: 8 ounces
Prep Time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons Don Victor Orange Blossom Comb Honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
dash of red pepper flakes

Whisk it all together in a bowl and pour into your jar or bottle.* Done!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes: 8 ounces
Prep Time: 10 minutes

2 teaspoons Don Victor Orange Blossom Comb Honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Whisk everything together in a bowl and then pour into your jar or bottle.* Done!

* You can leave these out for a few days – up to a week without spoilage. If you don’t mind the honey crystallizing, feel free to refrigerate them too. Just leave them out so they can adjust to room temperature or so and give them a good shake before you use them!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

And because I love you, here’s a bonus delicious salad recipe that would be perfect for any of these dressings! If you are giving your dressings as a gift, you could send along a cute recipe card with this recipe on it for inspiration. Or share your favorite salad recipe. Bonus points if you include some of the ingredients with your gift! This is one of my favorite fall salad recipes – let me know if you make it too!

Persimmon Pear Salad

Makes: 2 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes

2 persimmons, sliced
1 pear, sliced
1 bunch of arugula
1/2 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped honey comb

Toss the arugula, persimmons, pear, and cashew together. Top with ginger, honeycomb, and the dressing of your choice. Yum!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

Like I mentioned above, I already had most of my dressing ingredients at home in the pantry. And I am happy to say that I have a persimmon hook-up via my partner so using those in the salad was a no-brainer. They are some of my favorite fruits! I found everything else, including the Don Victor Orange Blossom Comb Honey, at my local Walmart. The honey was on the Hispanic food aisle near the baking items so be sure to check there for it!

3 Amazing Quick and Easy Honey Salad Dressing Recipes

There are so many things you can make with Don Victor honey! These are just a few options. Learn more about Don Victor honey by going to their website or the Don Victor Facebook page!

What kinds of things do you use honey for? What are some of your gourmet gift ideas for the holidays?

Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats

Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.netHi friends! You probably remember this photo from my crowdfunding campaign to get me to BlogHer ’15! Now you finally get to see the whole look. Because I look out for you like that. 😉 Really though – I’m still playing catch up after the months-long depression I’ve been crawling out of. This is the last outfit from then so expect to see more current stuff soon! But in the meantime, please enjoy one of my favorite outfits ever! It’s got plaid, pleats, vintage, and birds. I’m in love!
Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.net

So like I said, I’ve been slowly crawling out of my depression. I am planning on moving out of my chaotic home either this month or next (so if you know of a place in the San Gabriel Valley, please let me know!) and I’ll be starting school at a new school in January. I’ll be studying horticulture because I love science and being outside and plants and I’m tired of reading old white men’s accounts of the world while trying to get an English degree. These are both huge changes that I’m planning for my life so please wish me lots of luck and love and good energy. I’m starting to get excited about my future for the first time in a long time. The feeling is strange and there’s a lot of anxiety behind it too but that’s just the way it goes for me sometimes.

My therapy has been going way better than when it started. My therapist and I had a rough start in the beginning – it takes me awhile to trust people and I felt judged in one of our first sessions. We worked through it and things are going better. He’s good at listening to my needs and suggesting different ways of seeing things. He’s also been really good at helping me be more accountable. It helps just to know that I will have to answer to someone. For someone who struggles a lot with compulsive behavior, having a therapist that helps me practice accountability for myself is really great. I appreciate him a lot.

Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.netFatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.net

I’ve been really lucky lately to have landed so many sponsored blog opportunities. For awhile, I felt very conflicted about them. I think this was partly because money was my main motivator for doing them – which is real, especially since I am low-income and being paid to write and blog was a means of survival. I learned to be more choose-y with things I applied to and accepted, things that are more relevant to my life and what I want to showcase on Skinned Knees. As a result, I didn’t really apply for or accept anything for months. This was also partly due to my depression and my energy being low but for the most part, it was a very conscious and intentional decision. And now that I have a better creative vision for my blog, I have received so many more opportunities that really fit in with what I want to share with you. Plus, I am trying to be very intentional about incorporating as much of my life and my story and my history into those posts as possible. Your support, shares, and views on those posts (and all of my posts really) help me survive, get paid, and sometimes – especially with the food posts – help to feed me and my family. So thank you for supporting me and what I do! If you want to check out some of the recent ones I’ve done, here’s a few:

Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.net

I’ve been feeling simultaneously more creative and bored with fashion lately. For one – I don’t go out every day and when I do, sometimes it’s just to go to therapy or run an errand. I tend to not have the energy to get super cute on those days and so my style is very casual. I think it can be important to show those looks too but I don’t always have the energy to photograph them. On the other hand, it’s finally getting a bit colder and so I am layering a lot more, which I love. And I am feeling more inspired when I do get dressed and go out – mostly because I so rarely wear most of my clothes and so they are all seeming pretty new or refreshing to me lately. I’ve also peeked at a few stores lately and am REALLY bored with what’s going on in fashion this fall. I don’t like anything really and it’s all too expensive anyway. It’s not accessible to me and it’s all monochrome and not really my style. Yawn. Luckily – like I said, I have plenty of clothes to choose from in my own closet and it’s been inspiring me a lot lately. So has my Pinterest Outfit Inspiration board. Are we following each other on Pinterest?

Fatshion: Vintage Plaid and Pleats | SkinnedKnees.net

And about the outfit! These accordion pleat skirts are some of my favorite vintage finds! I love when I can find one that fits. I even have a bright pink maxi one but it’s a little big on me. It’s a dream skirt though. When I found this great burgundy one, it was love at first sight. I love the color so much! And this vintage plaid top – I found it for $2 at a church rummage sale that I went to on a whim. I got another one too that is just as great. Vintage plaid shirts are kind of my thing – I can rarely pass them up!

Outfit Details:
Pink cat eye glasses: Firmoo.com
Vintage plaid blouse: rummage sale
Vintage accordion pleat skirt: thrifted
Brown braided belt with bird buckle: Macy’s
Teal faux suede pointy toe flats: thrifted (remixed one, two)

Do you have a particular style or item of clothing you can’t ever pass up? Let’s talk style!

Pumpkin, Bean and Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamales Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MejoresRecetas #CollectiveBias

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Hi friends! Have you made tamales before? I grew up making them with my family and now that I am vegetarian, I love coming up with recipes that are delicious and different from the usual cheese and chile ones you can find everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, those are good, but sometimes a girl needs a change, you know?

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

I have worked with La Morena before and they are one of my favorite brands for adding authentic Latino flavors to the food I make. This is important to me since I am usually veggie-izing the recipes I grew up making and eating. Because meat was an important aspect in the flavor and authenticity of those dishes, I really strive to find other ways to include authentic Mexican flavors while leaving out the meat. It’s surprisingly easy with La Morena chiles, beans, and salsas. And I’m not a big soda drinker, but when I do drink it, I always go with Coca Cola. As a kid, my cousins and I would drink soda with our food at family gatherings and so my association with homemade Mexican food and Coca Cola is strong! It just wouldn’t be the same without it.

This time of year is always incredibly busy, especially with all the holidays coming up. I tend to cook foods that are quick or that I am familiar with. Even though tamales aren’t necessarily quick, they are easy and I can make them in advance and freeze them. This is perfect for those nights when I come home from holiday shopping and need something easy but filling to eat. Plus, you can make them in advance for your Christmas or Christmas Eve dinners and have something homemade to serve the family.

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe Every year, in early December, my aunts, cousins, my mom, and I would gather around my grandma’s kitchen table for a day of laughs, love and lots of tamales. The men in my family would all meet up around the corner at my uncle’s house to watch sports but one of my uncle’s would come back every couple of hours to check on us to see if we needed anything. My grandma always made a big pot of beans and my aunt always brought donuts so we had breakfast and lunch taken care of. One of my cousins was in charge of washing and soaking the hojas. My aunt was in charge of spooning the filling onto the hojas once we had spread the masa onto them. When I wasn’t at the table, I was also in charge of keeping a count of the tamales we had made. The rest of us sat around the table and spread that masa for hours. We each had a spot with a board, a spreader, and easy access to a big bowl of masa and hojas.

Most of my cousins and aunts and uncles live in the same city as I do. We never go very long without seeing each other. We are always gathering for birthdays or celebrations but there was something special about all the women getting together once a year to make food for the rest of the family. We shared so many stories, memories, and laughs. My cousin and I would playfully make fun of our other cousins by texting each other while on breaks. My grandma and my aunts were constantly cracking us up. This was a day-long event where we would leave tired, covered in masa, and with bags of tamales to go home and steam for dinner. Every year, we’d make between 300-500 tamales and divide them up between the family and then save some for our big Christmas dinner together.

The recipe below uses the techniques that were passed down to me by my family growing up. We used different fillings but this is a fantastic vegetarian option. You can also make these vegan by leaving out the goat cheese or subbing in a vegan cheese.

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Yields: 20 tamales
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours

28 oz can La Morena whole jalapenos (sliced length-wise)
2 15 oz cans La Morena bayo beans (you will use 1 1/2 cans)
15 oz can pure pumpkin
8 oz goat cheese
2 lbs prepared masa
hojas / corn husks (washed, soaked)
optional: paper food wrapping sheets


  1. Spread masa onto soaked and mostly dried hoja. You want to leave about 2 inches on top free to fold over later – otherwise spread a thin layer (or thicker if you like a lot of masa on your tamales) from top to bottom and all the way to the sides. Repeat for the amount of tamales you want to make.
  2. To fill the tamales: Add a heaping tablespoon of beans, a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin, and about a teaspoon of goat cheese onto the center of the masa on each hoja. Add 1-2 jalapeno slices.
  3. To fold the tamales: Take one side of the tamale and fold it over the filling. Take the other side and fold it over that and lightly press the masa on the edge to “seal” it. Fold the 2 inches on top down to close the top. The bottom will stay open. Optional: Wrap each tamale in two food wrapping sheets to help make sure they don’t open or that the filling doesn’t fall out while cooking.
  4. Place tamales into a steaming pot with about 2-3 inches of water inside. You want the water to just touch the bottom of the tamales in the top pot. Heat the water in the pot until it’s close to boiling, then reduce the heat. Steam for 2 1/2 hours or until the masa is firm and easily peels off of the hoja.
  5. Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you are having a hard time spreading your masa, try heating it up for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave. Don’t worry if it’s perfectly spread – just try to cover the hoja.
  2. If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, be sure to check the ingredients on the prepared masa. Some are prepared with lard. You can also make your own masa too.
  3. When you are washing and soaking your hojas, be sure to remove those red strings from the husks and check for mold on the hojas. Some bags just have more than others so just toss the bad ones out – you should still have more than enough in one bag.
  4. If you find that your one hoja won’t fold over the filling, you can use two and seal them together with the masa (just press it down on the seam). Then fill and fold like you would just one.

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

I found everything I needed at my local Northgate market. The La Morena jalapenos were on the chile aisle, the La Morena bayo beans were with the rest of the canned beans, and the Coca Cola was on the soda aisle. I was able to get my other ingredients there too. I’m lucky to have a Northgate up the street from me – it makes shopping for authentic Latino products like La Morena so easy!

Pumpkin, Bean & Goat Cheese Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

These came out SO good. My family loves them and I’ve already given a few for friends too. That’s the magic of tamales! Be sure to search #MejorRecetas for carefully crafted amazing recipes from LA MORENA and Coca Cola and look for specially marked displays in your stores for extra savings.

What would you use as filling for vegetarian tamales?

When Horror Helps with Loss, Trauma, and Grief

When Horror Helps with Loss, Trauma, and Grief

cw: childhood abuse, sexual abuse, death

Hey friends! Halloween is almost here and that means it’s been horror movie central all over TV and movie theaters. That alone makes October one of my favorite months and it should come as no surprise that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love all things spooky – I always have, and when I say always, I mean always. I saw my first horror movie when I was four-years-old. Thanks cousins! 😉

I realize it takes a special person to appreciate horror movies. Not everyone likes being scared, seeing graphic gore or violence, or wants to think about ghosts and the supernatural. I love all of those things. Sometimes I think I love horror so much because it gave me an outlet for my anxiety. But I think it’s more than that (not that an outlet for anxiety wasn’t more than enough!). I also find horror particularly cathartic for grief and trauma. I’m going to explain but I just want to reiterate my content warning above because some of the personal experiences I’m going to express might be triggering to some people.

So ok – childhood. I experienced a lot of trauma as a kid, some of which I’ll go into but I’ve always been anxiety-prone because of it. I also learned at a very young age that the media, especially with my overactive imagination, was capable of inciting very strong emotions in me. When I was two years old, my mom took me to movie theater for the first time for a cute mommy daughter date. We had tickets to see E.T. and as soon as the opening scene in the woods began, I got so scared that we had to leave. This is my very first memory of life.

When I was four, like I mentioned above, my cousins showed me the movie “Gremlins.” Obviously, as an adult, I can see that this movie is more of a comedy but as a little kid, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I was pretty brave and I don’t remember being particularly scared of it but I do remember having a nightmare later that night. I have very vivid dreams (especially nightmares and the night terrors I had as a kid) – so much so that I often have a hard time distinguishing my dreams from reality. Sometimes I’ll confuse memories with dreams. But ok – back to that Gremlin nightmare. I dreamed that a Gremlin knocked on my bedroom window, the curtains magically opened, and there it was, grinning it’s scary little grin at me. It was so real to my four-year-old brain that I swore it was real until I was twelve.

Apparently this is a common occurrence with children exposed to horror. According to a study referenced, the younger you are when you are exposed to horror media, the longer the effects last on you. That is definitely true to my experience and given that, I’m not sure I would advocate for kids watching horror. I will say that having grown up in a house that did not believe in therapy or any kind of psychological treatment by professionals (or otherwise), having access to horror movies, books and tv shows helped me learn a lot about grief and helped me work through some severe trauma.

Three things happened when I was nine years old. My grandma dying was a huge one. It was the first time I had experienced death on such a big level. My parents did their best but they were both struggling with a number of their own problems and so being available for me and my brother was difficult. So instead, I turned to horror – HARD. We had cable and the movie channels growing up and televisions in all of our rooms (with no parental controls). I was also an advanced reader for my age so when I asked for adult books, I usually got them. Cue reading Stephen King’s Pet Semetary and obsessively watching the 90’s tv show Sightings. Pet Semetary helped me grieve, big time. That was a world where you could bring people back from the dead when your grief became too heavy. It was a world where you had another chance with your loved ones. Where you could see them again. It was also a world where that came at an extremely heavy cost that you probably (?) did not want to pay. That was also a world where a little girl lost her brother (intense loss and grief) but also found solace in her connection to the supernatural where she could see people and consequences that the adults in her life could not.

The third thing to happen to me (using horror to work through my grief over my grandma’s death being the second) was the onset of my sexual abuse. I am only recently starting to remember the details of this but I know it happened. This may sound weird but I know because of Sightings. I obsessively watched this show and have probably seen every episode more than once during the time it aired (between ’92 and ’98 so from the time I was ten to into my teens). Many of the episodes were about aliens, from abduction stories to visits. I started having night terrors again, this time about aliens showing up on my front porch or leaving messages on the answering machine threatening to kill my parents if I told anyone about what happened. For almost 20 years, my brain interpreted this as having a phobia of aliens. I am still terrified of them. Even just thinking about them sends a chill through my body.

Last year I made the shitty connection. I noticed that I incessantly had an unsettling feeling. I knew I had huge chunks of memory missing from childhood. Some details I was aware of but I couldn’t tell you when they happened or how old I was. Most other things were just gone. I have heard that it’s common for trauma survivors to have gaps in their memories but even knowing that, it’s a scary thing to not know what happened. As I worked through my grief from my dad’s death, I would come back to this feeling that I was missing something big. I kept thinking about losing my Grandma when I was 9. And what happened after that. Losing my dad and that severe loss brought me back to being 9 and 10 years old. And as I started to remember how “sexual abuse” fit into my narrative, a lot of things started to fall into place. My nightmares about aliens were not actually about aliens but about my abuser who if I stop to think about it, kinda looked like one. I started remembering how this person groomed me with gifts all the time. How they were over at our house all the time. How they were left alone with me in my room. I remember how I started both acting out and majorly withdrawing (especially into horror and fantasy). I remember that I didn’t understand my fear of aliens or what it was that I wasn’t supposed to tell but I knew without a doubt that I wasn’t supposed to tell it, whatever it was.

I think my exposure to Sightings at a young age helped me compartmentalize my trauma until I could begin to deal with it as an adult. I’m not saying that it didn’t affect me throughout much of my life. It did. But I don’t think I had the capacity to deal with it until now.

I know that was heavy. Thank you for reading so far.

This summer I marathon watched six seasons of The Vampire Diaries in about three weeks. I ended up crying so much during the show. Yes, it’s dramatic and much of it is teen drama, but there is also this level of grief that the characters experience that is so intense. So many people discover new expressions of the supernatural or spirituality (like becoming a witch) that they never knew they had. So many people die or are dead. And some of those people come back to life, sometimes multiple times. There is so much death (and often it’s so violent) and grief on this show. I get it so much. In my own way.

The last three summers have meant grieving my dad in big ways. When I am depressed (which I differentiate from feeling grief), its hard for me to access my emotions even though I feel like I’m drowning in them. It’s that numbness when you want to cry to feel better but you just can’t. Watching that show helped me move through my grief. This horror television show gave me something to cry about when I couldn’t but needed to.

Horror gives me catharsis. Especially since I didn’t and don’t know how to grieve. Horror creates a world where people come back from the dead or couldn’t die to begin with. A world where people did horrible things to each other, where monsters were real, but in the end, everything was going to be ok. Because my heart believes in monsters. And hopes that people can come back. In their own ways. Horror has given my atheist heart space to expand my spirituality. It helped me make sense of all the things I was able to see or feel as a kid. It does the same thing for me now as an adult. Horror has created a different experience. A different existence. A healing existence.

Do you relate? Let’s talk about it. ♥

Celebrating Day of the Dead in My American Home

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveAmericanHome #CollectiveBias

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

Hi friends! I am sharing something really special with you today – a look at my altar. I keep this up all year but I always bring ofrendas to my papa and my grandparents every Dia de los Muertos. I slowly incorporate things that remind me of them and things I know they loved – whether it be photos, food, playing music, or incorporating fragrances that bring up happy memories of our time together.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American HomeMy Day of the Dead ritual is so important to me – I am mixed and without my dad here, I definitely feel a loss of my Mexican culture sometimes, especially as a Mexican American. I do my best to hold on to cultural ties and to establish new meaningful ones to me that keep me close to my ancestors. I talk to my papa, my grandparents, and my uncles all the time. They visit me in dreams or communicate with me in special ways that are just for me. My dad plays certain songs on the radio when I drive past the exit on the freeway that would lead me to the cemetery where they are buried. He also will show me a mushroom or a bee or some other connection to nature when I visit his grave. As you can see, my altar is also full of natural items I’ve picked up over the last few years. Nature is a huge factor of my spirituality. Those moments when my papa communicates with me through nature? They are happy little moments between us. My papa knows how to speak to me.
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

The photos of me and him that I use on my altar speak to our connection to nature too. The one on the left is from my first trip to Mexico. My family, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins, would drive down to Mexico every summer and spend a few weeks at my uncle’s house in Rosarito. My happiest childhood memories were playing on the beach with my brother while my parents and my godparents watched over us. As we got a bit older, my dad and my godfather would take us swimming out in the Pacific Ocean, far enough where we couldn’t touch the sand below us but my brother and I always felt safe with both of them with us. After a long day playing on the beach, we’d all come back up to the house, get showered, and go out to eat at our favorite seafood restaurant. These childhood summers were everything to me. They still are.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

I didn’t know my grandpa. Well, not technically. He died before I was born but I got to know him through my grandma and his sons. Our family is big on narrative, telling our stories over and over, showing (possibly without realizing it) how those histories have shaped us into the Mexican American family we are today. When we lost my grandma, her passing hit our family hard. We lost my dad a few years later and then two more uncles in the next two years. My grief hits me hard all the time but remembering them is my way of keeping them close to my heart always. My grandma was the matriarch of my family and I learned so much about family bonds and care from her. She inspires me every single day in my journey to foster and accept community care among my family and friends (and beyond).
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

I really wanted to incorporate cempasúchil into my altar but with my three cats that love to eat flowers, well, I had to get creative. Which was fine with me! I ended up making Mexican marigolds out of orange tissue paper. They were so easy to make! I cut each sheet of tissue paper in half three times (making 8 squares). Then I took four squares and folded them like an accordion. Next, I cut a rounded edge on each side and wrapped a green pipe cleaner around the center. Then I just fluffed out each layer to make them look like petals. Then I did the same with the other four sheets. The flowers look beautiful, are festive, and they won’t wilt and die! Just be sure to use extreme safety and don’t leave your lit candle unattended next to the paper flowers. In fact, be sure to carefully follow the user instructions for American Home™ by Yankee Candle® candles.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

As I mentioned above, one of the ways I bring my altar to life is by incorporating fragrances that remind me of my ancestors. An easy way I’ve found is to use candles. My favorites are American Home™ by Yankee Candle® – they just launched the line this past summer and the new fragrance collection is amazing. I ended up choosing Shades of Fall, Peaceful Beach, and Fresh Balsam Fir. Shades of Fall reminds me of going back to school and spending mornings with my grandma. She would make avena for my brother and I every morning while we watched cartoons before she took us to school. We’d buckle up in her car and listen to her sing along to the oldies station with our full tummies. And Peaceful Beach – well, this obviously reminds me of those summers in Mexico. Fresh Balsam Fir reminds me of my papa’s birthday. He’s a Sagittarius. His December birthday was exactly two weeks before Christmas and so we always had our Christmas tree up when we’d celebrate his birthday. It’s hard for me to separate winter holidays from my dad’s birthday and so this fragrance invokes the perfect memories.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

The American Home™ by Yankee Candle® collection has so many other fragrances! There are options for everyone. I found the huge selection at Walmart. There were candles from the collection up near the front in the seasonal section and then even more on the candle aisle in the home decor section of the store. All of the candles are under $15 – the 19 oz large 2 wick tumbler candles (like the Shades of Fall one I purchased) are $14.93, the 12 oz medium apothecary jar candles (like the Fresh Balsam Fir one) are $10.93, and the 4 oz small tumbler candles (like the Peaceful Beach one) are $4.93. The American Home™ by Yankee Candle® collection has even more candle sizes and fragrances.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in My American Home

Thank you so much for letting me share my altar with you!

Do you celebrate Dia de los Muertos? Which American Home™ by Yankee Candle® would you choose to invoke a happy memory?