12.01.2011

Christmas Stocking Giveaway!

Fill your stockings with unique, handmade gifts this Christmas. Check out stocking stuffer suggestions compiled by the folks at Little Mango Imports: http://littlemangoimports.com/stockingstuffers.aspx

This season we are giving away a stuffed Guatemalan fabric Christmas stocking! The stocking itself is made of Guatemalan fabric (my niece's first sewing project). Inside you will find:
  • one hackysack ball
  • two Guatemalan scarves
  • three coin purses
  • three dozen friendship bracelets
  • one beaded necklace from Indonesia
  • one hand painted wood candle holder
  • one hand painted wood turtle magnet






How to enter: simply leave a comment below, and if you blog about our contest you’ll receive 2 entries (be sure to comment with a link to your blog). The winner will be drawn Sunday, December 11th (basket will ship Monday for arrival just in time for Christmas). Good luck and thanks for playing!

Make your own stocking this season: "How To Time with Etsy" presents 3 videos with easy to follow instructions ~ http://youtu.be/Xn5RecvUFUU



December 2011 Specials at www.littlemangoimports.com:

Happy Holidays from the folks at Little Mango Imports!


11.14.2011

Traditional Balinese Dance


These images depict the Wayang Wong dance drama, performed in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia during the festival of Kuningan. The Wayang Wong dance is taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana (originally performed as shadow puppet theater), and features masked performers and a percussion orchestra. The dance depicts a struggle between good and evil: the struggle to defeat the greedy King Rawana by an army of monkeys and Rawa, the reincarnated God Vishnu.

Balinese dance is an ancient Hindu tradition, performed for entertainment, ceremony and sacred purposes. Children begin learning the many hand positions and gestures (mudras) at a young age. The precision and passion in which Balinese dance is performed is beautiful and inspiring. A true art form!

10.11.2011

Day of the Dead

 Los dias de los muertos or Noche de los Muertos or el Dia de Difuntos, as celebrated throughout Latin America, is a celebration of death, a festival of communion between the living and the dead. Preparation includes making offerings and decorating gravesites. This is all in preparation for the souls' return to their homes and the family reunions. 

The festivities begin October 27 with the return of those souls without homes or survivors to visit. October 28 those souls who were victim to murder, violence, or accident return. October 31 brings home the souls of dead children. On November 1 adult souls arrive and by November 2 the festivities have come to an end and all souls have departed. 

In Latin America, as in all societies, death is an emotional and very difficult aspect of life; still, the people deal with it in a very unique manner stemming from their religious and cultural roots. They remember their passed loved ones, celebrate their lives and deaths, and mock death itself. Figurines depicting people from all walks of life as skeletons are a traditional example of this mockery. 

Day of the Dead Merchandise at Little Mango Imports
http://littlemangoimports.com/dayofthedead.aspx



 

9.18.2011

Cruisin' through Saigon in the sea of motorbikes

Emily Taylor traveled in Southeast Asia this Summer. We are happy to share her second report:

Hello all, here's our story from week 2 in Vietnam/Cambodia...
(click to read about week 1)

We made it out of Siem Reap on a night bus headed back across the border from Cambodia to Vietnam. We had to get off the bus multiple times throughout the night to change buses and cross the border, only after Aaron busted a man who worked for the bus company going through people's bags, red-handed...SOB. Luckily our valuables were on us, but the man certainly went through our packs. We arrived back in Saigon in the morning and immediately went to the airport via moto which was a blast! There's not much like crusin' through crazy Saigon in the sea of motorbikes! Our flight to Hanoi was uneventful and we spent that afternoon looking for an honest travel agent to book us a tour on Ha Long Bay. We think we found one, but we're still not sure. Hanoi was better than we thought in the neat Old Quarter part of town, but extremely touristy.

The next day we set sail on Ha Long bay on a deluxe cruise. We sailed around all afternoon, kayaked around some floating fishing villages and explored the "Amazing Cave"...which was indeed amazing. A storm hit in the early evening and the chaos of plates and table cloths flying in the main cabin was cause enough for everyone to start pounding Tiger beers (the local brew).

Fun night on the boat with really fun people. Lots of Irish lasses, a few Aussies, a couple from Spain, and a man from Singapore with his "lady friend". That man, Richard, after many a drink, told Aaron he had a "lion nose" and would be very rich one day. Emily is sticking with Aaron like glue. Next morning we swam around the bay and cruised back to Hanoi where we almost immediately grabbed a night bus to the mountainous northern region of Vietnam, Sapa, where we are now.

We are on our second night here and thoroughly enjoying this absolutely beautiful place! Today we rented a motorbike and cruised around the countryside, up and down mountains and through small villages. The scenery was stunning and Aaron now deems himself an "expert motorbike driver"..hmm...

We have a few more days here including more motorbike cruising and the huge market on Saturday. We will then begin our journey down the coast back to Saigon.

Love,
Aaron & Emily

P.S. Aaron helped write this too.

7.21.2011

The Lower to the Ground you Sit, the Cheaper the Food

Emily Taylor is currently traveling in Southeast Asia. We are happy to share her recent report:


Hello all, here's our story from week 1 in Vietnam/Cambodia...

We almost missed our connection when we arrived in the Tokyo airport because, though we had an hour and a half layover, we had to go through another level of security where there was only one lane open. Finally someone came around with our flight number to help us to the front of the line so we could make our flight. We made it with 10 minutes to spare!

We arrived in Saigon around 9:30 PM and were ushered to our hotel. The city was still bustling and crazy (as it is at every hour) with various cars, buses, motorbikes, and people in general. We put our stuff down and walked a few blocks to find delicious tomato & shrimp cake noodle soup from a street food cart where we sat at a plastic table with stools about 10 inches off the ground (the lower to the ground you sit, the cheaper the food). The meal was about 80 cents each, score. Turns out, the best food is always on the street.

Day one in Saigon consisted of wandering about the streets in search of the notorious Lunch Lady (as seen on Anthony Bourdain). She makes a different soup everyday with anything from pig blood to other exotic meats and vegetables in it. We don't know exactly what went into our lunch, but it was so yummy--the best meal we've had so far on the trip. We then got massaged by the blind for $3 each, which was an experience in itself. The rest of our day consisted of more wandering and more eating...small/large dumplings, pork banh mi sandwiches, more soup, and we finished the evening with traditional snails and beer on the street.

Day two we took a series of buses and finally made it out of the city...praise Buddha. After 7 hours of bus time, we made it to Chau Doc, a small city in the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border. Our first hotel had mice turds all over the walls and prompted the move to a much better and cleaner place for pennies more. Out on the town for more noodle soup, this time with fish in it. We enjoyed some beers next to the river, watching the boats and river life pass by.

Day three we impulsively jumped on a boat at 7AM up the Mekong to Cambodia. We had a quick and smooth water border crossing and a nice day of chilling on the boat (yes, ukulele was played). We originally planned to skip Phnom Phen, but were exhausted after a long day of travel, and decided to stay the night. We were very glad to have spent the evening in the city as it was pretty darn cool. There were lots of beautiful temples, including the Royal Palace, and fun wandering all over the place.

Day four/five we took a minibus to Siem Reap which is the closest town to the Temples of Angkor. It's a bit touristy, but a very pleasant place to spend a few days in Cambodia. We found an amazing wooden hotel with an open air lounge area and a super friendly host, Dahlin (Darling with that Boston accent, we like to think). We wandered around the market in town and on the hunt for coffee, we stumbled into a cinema-cafe before dodging the approaching vicious downpour. The cafe was full of rainbow colored lawn chairs all facing the 5 TVs with various programming (Animal Planet, Asian music videos, WWE wrestling, soccer, and the feature film--a crazy Japanese film we could barely understand). Emily was the only female there. The Khmer food is delicious and the temples around Angkor are stunning. We had a long day of biking (about 30K) around the temples and countryside yesterday including lots of rice paddies, water buffalo, and children selling their postcards.

Today we are lounging around the town. Later tonight we'll take the night bus to Saigon, then fly north to Hanoi and venture out to Ha Long Bay and the Sapa region before hopping a train back down the coast.

We really love Cambodia and the people here speak great English and are very friendly. Can't wait to see Northern Vietnam!

Love,
Emily and Aaron

7.03.2011

Get to know Little Mango Imports

Our mission is to offer indigenous, handmade handicrafts and textiles from the corners of the world. Little Mango Imports maintains its core values of fair business, cultural respect, tradition and community, quality merchandise, and exceptional customer service. 

• travel • culture • fiber • color • texture • respect • adventure • love • mango • tradition • history • art • appreciation • quality • community • textiles • creativity •

Whitney Taylor
A youth of travel and adventure instilled in Whitney a love for all things foreign: rich colors, smells and textures, art and exploration. While in college Whitney followed in her parents' footsteps, opening Little Mango Imports in 2005. She is also the head downhill ski racing coach for Nederland High School (Go Panthers!) and works for Happy Mango Beads (so please excuse her if she mistakenly signs an e-mail Happy Mango instead of Little Mango!). Whitney is a CrossFit enthusiast and an avid martial artist with over 18 years of training in traditional Japanese karate and weaponry.


Samantha
Our marketing guru and Whitney's older sister, Samantha helps out in the warehouse and is our go-to person for creative, fun and fresh ideas. If you follow us on Twitter you have undoubtedly met Samantha.


John
John manages to get roped into all the not-so-fun tasks: measuring fabric, crunching numbers, and essentially providing muscle for Little Mango Imports. Whitney and John are currently working to open a small, nano brewery in Berthoud, CO: City Star Brewing.


Noah
John's six year old son likes to help out: fetch invoices from the printer, attempt to juggle with hackysack balls, remove loose threads from molas... that sort of thing. He considers Whitney's occupation to be "Seller Girl" and aspires to be a "Seller Boy" himself when he grows up.


Travel Companions
This is a tough job! Here's a little recognition to everyone who's accompanied Whitney continent to continent: Emily, Dan, Rudi, John, Amber, Sharlene, Carole, Heather, Drew, Avery and Haley.... you are ALL mangoes.

6.20.2011

Mola Mola!

What are molas?
Molas (mor) are colorful appliqué panels completely hand crafted by the indigenous Kuna (Tule) of the San Blas Islands (Kuna Yala), an autonomous territory in Panama. Traditionally, molas are worn on the front and back of women’s blouses; therefore they have all been previously used. The production of molas didn’t begin until the 1800's when machine manufactured fabric became obtainable through trade.

How are molas made?

The technique of appliqué consists of cutting one or more pieces of fabric in an intricate, decorative design and hand stitching it on top of another piece of cloth. Original molas were comprised of only 2 colors (mor gwinagwad) and a geometric design using broad lines. Overtime, with greater exposure to and influence from outside cultures, mola colors and designs have become more complex depicting flowers, animals, and various figures.

How to determine the value of your mola:
The mola is evaluated based on its design and color, fineness of stitching, the number of layers it is comprised of, and overall workmanship.

How to display your mola:
Mola panels can be worn, framed, made into pillows, quilts, etc. The Aware Network in Australia even crafts Molas into shoes:





How to care for your mola:
Genuine molas are very durable and have been washed several times. Hand wash in warm water.

Shop for Molas: http://www.littlemangoimports.com/molas.html


5.19.2011

20 Uses for Batik

  1. swimsuit cover-up
  2. sarong
  3. dress
  4. window covering
  5. apron
  6. table cloth
  7. wall hanging
  8. ironing board cover 
  9. tote bag 
  10. bandanna
  11. baby carrier
  12. sling for broken arm
  13. outdoor cushion
  14. line a gift basket
  15. quilt
  16. picnic blanket
  17. throw pillow
  18. scarf
  19. fabric earring holder
  20. computer and keyboard cover (keep that dust off!)
just to name a few :)

Bati
k Cloth at Little Mango Imports
http://www.littlemangoimports.com/batik.html

Comment with your suggestion. Lin
ks to tutorials are welcome!

4.16.2011

Little Mango Imports Easter Basket - WIN IT!

Get creative this Easter and think outside of the box, especially if you'd like to avoid everything that comes inside the box...candy, chocolate and everything plastic (don't get me wrong, I like sugar but in a reasonable dose!). Hackysack balls are an excellent alternative to cheap plastic eggs. Worry dolls, coin purses, friendship bracelets and other inexpensive handicrafts make great fillers too. 

Skip the basket this year and use a a fun bag. How many Easter baskets have made it to your yard sale pile or even the trash? Lastly, be sure to opt for an environmentally sustainable grass...shredded paper is my choice. 

WIN this Little Mango Imports Easter basket! Included: Guatemalan bag, three hackysack balls, two coin purses, worry dolls and, yes, some chocolate for good measure! 

How to enter: simply leave a comment below, and if you blog about our contest you’ll receive 2 entries (be sure to comment with a link to your blog). The winner will be drawn on the evening of Tuesday, April 19th (basket will ship Wednesday for arrival just in time for Easter). Good luck and thanks for playing!

Guatemalan handicrafts are 20% OFF through Tuesday, April 19th. Order your Easter basket supplies today!
www.littlemangoimports.com/guatemalanhandicrafts.html

(most order ship within 24 hours, USPS Priority Mail 2-3 days within the U.S.)


4.07.2011

Huipil Shopping - What, Why & How

What is a Huipil?
The huipil (Maya women's blouse) is the most important part of the Maya woman's costume.  She will spend sometimes months producing this work of art which is an important part of her personal and village identity.  It is usually constructed of 2 or 3 panels and nearly always handwoven on a back strap loom.  These panels are then sewn together to form a rectangle in which a head hole is cut.  The side seams are either left open or sewn up just enough to provide arm openings, resulting in a poncho-like, sleeveless blouse.


Why a Huipil?
Collect, display, wear and/or re-use. Get creative! Embrace the Maya heritage: each huipil is rich in history and tradition. Love color? Hang, drape and display huipiles...tables, walls, chairs, other furniture. The possibilities are endless! Huipiles were originally intended to be worn so sport yours: shirt, poncho, shawl....I guarantee you won't run into someone in the same outfit. Feeling artsy? Re-fashion the embroidery, brocade and/or base cloth into a pillow cover, purse, quilt, article of clothing, etc.

How to buy a Huipil?

Once you are on the hunt for a huipil to treasure, there are several factors to take into consideration when shopping. If you plan to wear your huipil be prepared to alter it yourself or have it altered.  Sorry, huipiles do not come in standard clothing sizes (that would ruin all our fun, right?). The length and width of the huipil will give you a rough idea of the size, but ask yourself (or me!) how large is the neck opening? What size are the arm openings? Are the side seams open or sewn closed? Do I want a lightweight or heavier huipil? Huipiles from villages in hot, lowland areas tend to be lighter weight while huipiles made in the mountain climates are generally heavier and warmer. Keep in mind that huipiles are designed to be worn by wrapping a corte skirt around the waist and securing it with a belt (the huipil is usually tucked in). They are not originally designed to hang over a pair of jeans (sounds cute though, right?). Many huipiles have been taken in (or it is evident that they once were) for a fitted appearance. 


If you plan to display your huipil as a piece of art, also be prepared to open seams, remove excess base cloth, or make another alteration to achieve the finished product you desire. Lastly, remember that most huipiles are essentially used clothing and some have been worn more than others (especially children's huipiles). All are completely handwoven, so rarely symmetrical. Flaws and imperfections (character, I like to call it!) are common from the weaving process and typical wear.


Huipil Care Instructions

Huipiles at Little Mango Imports are sold in the same condition they were purchased from Maya women (no altering, washing, repair, etc.). Traditionally, huipiles were washed in the river, beat on rocks, and hung to dry in the sun...makes me appreciate my machine washer!


Washing Your Huipil
machine or hand wash in cold water (mild soap) and line dry

Considerations

-
colors may bleed with washing (colors may be set with a salt/vinegar and water solution)
-loose threads can potentially snag and unravel
 
-vibrant and dark colors will fade with extensive exposure to sunlight

Shop for Huipiles: http://www.littlemangoimports.com/huipiles.html
Shop for Huipiles by Village: http://www.littlemangoimports.com/huipilesbyvillage.html
Shop for Cortes
(skirts): http://www.littlemangoimports.com/cortes.html
Shop for Cintas/Fajas (belts/sashes): http://www.littlemangoimports.com/cintasfajas.html


Guatemalan Textiles Info: http://www.littlemangoimports.com/textileinfo.html
Pronunciation of Maya Terms:
http://www.littlemangoimports.com/pronunciation.html

3.06.2011

Welcome to America! - from Guatemala to Colorado

First visit to the United States, first experience of snow, first single digit temperatures, bowling, ski racing, craft beer... Manuel Sic arrived in Colorado with a shiny new passport and heavily blue plastic wrapped bag. After running through the airport with my pass to get through security I thankfully found Manuel. I had no idea if he would make it through immigration and customs in Houston in time to make his flight, if it would even arrive on time in the midst of early February's storms (it arrived ahead of schedule actually, hence my running). You never realize how convenient it is that everyone has cell phones until they don't! Manuel did his research; he knew Denver's airport was unique so we were taking pictures before we even got 50 feet out the door.

Manuel Sic is a Maya Guatemalan living in a very small village near Totonicapan, Guatemala, attending the University of Mariano Galvez for civil law. Spanish is his third language, behind Ki'che' and Kaqchikel. Manuel, with the help of his brothers and local weavers, weaves the fabric sold at Little Mango Imports. Upon Manuel's request, I sent him a letter of invitation to Colorado for him to present to the U.S. embassy in Guatemala. Honestly, I didn't expect Manuel to successfully acquire a U.S. visa, but he managed to maneuver the hoops and loops, front the $380 fee, and purchase his approximately $800 plane ticket to the United States (life savings....literally!).

Manuel visited Colorado's state capitol, Denver's Museum of Nature & Science, toured Oskar Blues Brewery, gave bowling his best shot, experienced the Rocky Mountain National Park and watched a high school alpine ski racing team practice (random I know, but I coach the team). It was incredible to watch Manuel experience so much that is so different from everything he has ever known. He marveled at the genuine moon rock, dinosaur bones and Egyptian sarcophagus at the museum…..not to mention our dishwasher, wood flowers, indoor heating, to-go mugs, and beer in the fridge.

During Manuel’s visit we discussed everything from marriage and religion to Arizona immigration law and the drug trafficking problems in Guatemala. He asked me to break down U.S. national and state governments, to explain the significance of Thanksgiving and describe Colorado’s economy. The last was tough for me and definitely made me put some thought into the state in which I live. Here’s what I came up with: skiing, tourism, grain (I just heard on NPR that Colorado produces more than half the country’s millet), cattle, beer and oil. What am I missing here? Let me take a moment to say I am not fluent in Spanish; I can speak conversational Spanish and I have a decent accent but ‘pilgrim’ and ‘millet’ are not in my vocab. Luckily my language limitations masked what I failed to remember from fourth grade social studies!

Manuel was extremely courageous to venture from his home country to the United States. Upon asking him what he expected, he said he thought Americans would be serious, but he was gladly surprised that Coloradoans were very friendly. I honestly didn’t know I had so many friends who could speak Spanish! He never seemed to be negatively affected by “culture shock”; he soaked up every moment. On the way to the airport Manuel asked me if he was a good house guest… honestly, probably the most respectful house guest I have ever had. He even complimented my cooking! I managed to acquire another pass through security and walk Manuel to his gate (all this whining about signs in Spanish in the US; I never noticed that they are actually pretty rare in Colorado!). I was sad to see Manuel go but very happy that he had achieved one of his life goals in visiting the United States.


2.01.2011

Yo-Yo Necklace ~ Guatemalan Fabric!

You can’t Walk the Dog or execute the Sleeper trick with these yo-yos, but you can still impress your friends. I made my first yo-yo necklace (pictured below) last summer, using Guatemalan Fabric! It complimented my brown summer dress fabulously, and that’s not just my opinion…honest.  A bold statement around my neck, my necklace was large and loud but definitely loved.

Make your own Yo-Yo Necklace – Tutorial: http://hideousdreadfulstinky.blogspot.com/
  • I used Guatemalan Fabric from http://www.littlemangoimports.com to construct my yo-yos
  • The best yo-yos take time
  • I used wire instead of embroidery thread (I will use thread next time)
  • I had trouble not losing the beads inside the yo-yo (solution: dab of hot glue)