4th Annual Carlota Acosta Parcheesi Tournament

Parcheesi Board
Seems this Parcheesi tournament thing has really become quite the event in our family. We now play more often throughout the year in an effort to get some practice in (or decode our opponents’ strategies), and if we’re not playing, the conversation will still often stray to various related topics. Those topics will usually revolve around general gameplay, ways to improve upon and expand the tournament party, who we should invite for the next year, and reminiscing about past “I-came-THIS-close!” games. One of the themes of these Parcheesi conversations has always been the names of those who have managed to get their names up on the Golden Caldero — most notably, the fact that all the names were Latino, and none of them were women.

ParcheesiPartyNow, I can guarantee you there’s absolutely no exclusion of other nationalities or of women. Our family is Puerto Rican and represents the majority of players, but the remaining players who have married or befriended someone in our family have been mostly Scottish, Irish, Canadian or a Russian/English/German/Native American mutt, and the skill levels have pretty much run the gamut on both sides of the ethnic fence. The genders are also pretty much a 50/50 split, and women have always been a part the final game. Despite these facts, we couldn’t help but wonder, “When will the first gringo or first woman get their name up onto the Golden Caldero?”

This innocent observation would usually lead to an episode of trash talking and taunting back and forth, as my non-Latin relatives swore they would get their chance, and my sisters, mother and I insisted that next year was OUR year. There was also the small conundrum of whether my or my sisters’ not-so-hispanic married names would count as gringo names on the Golden Caldero, nevermind the craziness that would ensue simply because we were women. Certain patriarchs of the family also went as far as to VOW that there would NEVER be a gringo or woman’s name on that caldero for as long as he could help it! (All boastful pride and good-humored ribbing of course!)

Finalists2015This fourth year, after three rounds of preliminary games and much food, spirits, teasing and, of course, Larry coming so close to a win (he does this so often, we now call this particular type of choking larrying), the final Parcheesi game promised to change things forever. The finalists included (left-to-right) my sister, Lisa; my brother-in-law squared, Bryan; Bryan’s wife, Joyce; and my brother-in-law (and also Joyce’s brother), Jim. If the winner was my sister, the Puerto Rican streak would technically still remain, but regardless of who won, a gringo name would be going up on the Golden Caldero.

In the last turns of the game, Bryan had one piece left to go all the way around the board, and Jim had the same plus another piece about halfway around. However, Lisa and Joyce were in a dead tie for first, each with one piece left and each needing only to roll a 3 to win everything. Eventually Joyce was the one who rolled that 3 and took the title. And just like THAT, the Golden Caldero would bear a name that was both gringo AND a woman’s… all in one shot.

Congratulations, Joyce! Your pioneering Parcheesi win has blown the door wide open for gringos and women everywhere, and you’ll never be forgotten! Just don’t think for one second that anyone, whether Puerto Rican or non-Latin, or man or woman, is going to go easy on you in next year’s tournament just because you’re a girl. And seeing as she has known you since you were little, I’m pretty sure Mamita is damn proud of you too. 😉

Last year's winner, Chuck, passing the Golden Caldero to our 2015 Parcheesi Tournament winner, Joyce.
Last year’s winner, Chuck, passing the Golden Caldero to our 2015 Parcheesi Tournament winner, Joyce.

Etsy Treasury: Pack Your Lunch Day (Every Day is a Holiday)

Today’s holiday is Pack Your Lunch Day: a day to say “no” to going out for lunch, and instead bring it in from home. It’s obviously cheaper, and most times, it’s healthier, too.

Growing up, I usually brought my lunch to school in a lunch box like every other kid. By the time I was in 5th grade or so, lunch boxes had sorta gone out of fashion in favor of the simpler (though more wasteful) brown bag method. Pretty soon, it was just too much to remember to pack anything, so by the time I was in junior high I bought my lunch at the cafeteria just about every day.

Despite eventually abandoning bringing my own lunch to school, I do remember two of the lunch boxes I has as a kid, and I found them both on Etsy (I had the Smurf and Holly Hobbie boxes)! I can guarantee my friends had a few of the other featured boxes, like the Hulk and Peanuts. Take a stroll through the featured shops, since many of them have other vintage treasures that will bring back memories! And remember to click here for my other Every Day is a Holiday treasuries!

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Click on the image to see the treasury on Etsy, complete with links to the featured shops and items!

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“Every Day is a Holiday” is my Etsy Treasury project for 2014. I’m hoping to find unique and beautiful items that exemplify the holiday of the day—the sillier and weirder, the better! What’s better than finding something worth celebrating each and every day?

Etsy Treasury: Absinthe Day (Every Day is a Holiday)

Today is Absinthe Day, when we celebrate a very unusual spirit, and the unique history behind it. Distilled from several medicinal herbs including green anise, sweet fennel, and grand wormwood, absinthe has a high alcoholic content (though it’s often watered down before drinking) and some believe it has slightly hallucinogenic properties.

Absinthe was considered by many to be a muse, and was often referred to as “la fée verte” or the green fairy because of its enchantingly bright hue. It was a favorite among artists, writers, and composers during the art nouveau movement in late 19th century Paris, including Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and Oscar Wilde. Many of the era’s bottle labels and advertising posters for absinthe are classic examples of the art nouveau movement it helped to inspire. Absinthe even has a certain mystique as to the ritual involved in preparing to drink it, as you slowly pour chilled water over a cube of sugar that’s suspended over a glass holding the alluring liquid, and watching as it clouds to an opalescent pale green.

Prohibitionists and social conservatives vilified absinthe, claiming it caused violent and unpredictable behavior. (The wine industry was also partly behind the movement to ban the spirit, likely fearing they would lose sales to the wildly popular beverage.) In 1905, a Swiss farmer was accused of murdering his family while under the influence of absinthe, giving its critics more fuel for their agenda to outlaw it. What many didn’t realize—or flat out ignored—was that the farmer was a known alcoholic and was already drunk on a whole lot of wine and brandy before consuming two glasses of absinthe and ultimately committing the crime. Thujone—a chemical compound found in trace amounts as a result of the distillation of wormwood—was often cited as the culprit for the drink’s influences, though the psychoactive effects of absinthe have been shown to be greatly exaggerated.

It’s widely accepted today that absinthe is really no more dangerous than standard alcoholic spirits, thus the laws governing its production, sale and import have been greatly relaxed. As a result, the green fairy is experiencing a renaissance throughout the US and Europe.

My collection explores some of the more notable visual influences of absinthe, particularly its unique coloring and associated art nouveau illustration style (as well as a few more abstract art pieces that I imagine would tickle one’s fancy while under its spell). Please remember to visit the shops and favorite the featured items! And you can always see the rest of my Every Day is a Holiday treasuries here!

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Click on the image to see the treasury on Etsy, complete with links to the featured shops and items!

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“Every Day is a Holiday” is my Etsy Treasury project for 2014. I’m hoping to find unique and beautiful items that exemplify the holiday of the day—the sillier and weirder, the better! What’s better than finding something worth celebrating each and every day?