Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Signing, Readings, and a Link up

My publisher and I have scheduled my first book signing event for Entre la claridad!  I’ll be signing copies Thursday, March 1 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. during the AWP Conference Bookfair in Chicago.  If you are attending this conference, look for me at the PALABRA/Con Tinta table (Southeast Hall, Table K17).  Thanks to Elena and PALABRA Literary Magazine for sharing their table space.

If you want to buy Entre la claridad, but won’t be at the conference, it is available for $7.00 from Mouthfeel Press.  You can listen to some of the poems from this book through the links on my “Audio” page above.  For future updates about my signing and reading events, check my “Upcoming Events” page above or like the Entre la claridad page on Facebook.  

On Saturday, March 3, you can also hear me read as part of the panel Border Bodies — Womanhood In Verse.  Our presentation is from 1:30 - 2:45 p.m. in Private Dining Room 2, at the Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor.  This is a panel of poets all associated with Mouthfeel Press, including Katherine Hoerth, Laura Cesarco Eglin, and Maria Miranda Maloney.  Read more about my presentation here.

This Saturday, February 25, at 2 p.m., you can hear a large group of poets published in the Mutabilis Press anthology Improbable Worlds read at Brazos Bookstore in Houston.  I will read my poem “Bat Bridge” and mingle with the other poets.  I hope you will join us.

Also, I am announcing the next link up in the Liturgical Calendar Link up Party coordinated by Xhonané at Familia Católica.  The Link up for Saint Joseph is hosted by Beatriz at Conócete a tí mismo y sé lo que eres.  Go see what other bloggers are posting about Saint Joseph’s feast day, or to link your own post.  I’m hoping to post an activity that highlights Saint Joseph’s role as protector and patron of the church.  I won’t have time to pull it all together until after I return from the conference, but I hope you will check back the second week of March!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

First Fridays for Food Security and a Link up

In the most recent edition of the newspaper for our archdiocese, among the suggested actions for this year’s Lenten season, I found information about the U.S. Bishops First Fridays for Food Security program.  This fasting program has actually been going on for ten months already.  Here are some details:

“On every first Friday for a year, eat meals that cost only as much as is allotted for a family of your size by the USDA Modified Thrifty Food Plan. This plan is used as the basis for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps). The ‘cutting back’ that will likely be required in order to stay ‘in budget’ can be considered a form of fasting.”   

I have been thinking about ways to teach my children to be grateful for the food they eat, and to have compassion for those people who do not always have enough food.  For children who never go without a meal or a snack and whom are often surrounded by an abundance of food, this is not an easy concept to grasp.  I was intrigued by the idea of voluntary fasting on a regular basis.

Courtesy of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

You can find the Food plan here.  If you want to participate, or are curious about how much money is allotted per day, divide the amount for your family size (you may need to make adjustments, as the chart assumes a family of four, but the footnotes explain how to calculate for larger or smaller families) by seven from the weekly cost or by thirty from the monthly cost.  Be sure to use the numbers from the “Thrifty Plan” columns.

I wondered if we could stay within budget, so I’ve been doing the math.  For our family size and ages (two adults and two children), we are allotted $132.10 per week, or $18.87 per day.  I have looked at our grocery receipt from this past week to determine prices for various foods as I consider what we could eat.  Since the next two First Fridays fall during Lent, I have developed a sample meal plan that is vegetarian to illustrate how to do this.  We will not be able to participate on March 2nd because my husband and I will be in Chicago for my conference presentation, but we are going to definitely participate on other Fridays and for April 6th.

This plan is actually very similar to how we eat on a regular basis, with the exception that my husband usually eats lunch at a restaurant near his office on Fridays, and my older daughter usually buys lunch at school (she likes the mini cheeseburgers, but won’t be buying those during lent).  While we do eat all of these meals, we don’t usually eat all of these reduced portions on the same day (more about this below).  I also factored in two snacks to account for the smaller meals.

Breakfast: three eggs scrambled with corn (either fresh or canned), four tortillas, four bananas, and sixteen ounces of orange juice diluted with water.

Morning snack: three large apples, sliced, spread with natural peanut butter.

Lunch: grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches, fruit salad made with three oranges, two kiwis, and two ounces of raisins.

Afternoon snack: four ounces of vanilla yogurt each.

Dinner: dried pinto beans soaked all day then cooked and served with one chopped tomato, one chopped avocado, Mexican crema, shredded cheddar cheese, and eight ounces of apple juice diluted with water for the children.

What I did not list above or include in the calculations below, but are needed for flavor are salt and salsa, because we did not buy either last week and I do not have the prices.  Butter is included for scrambling and grilling.  Notice that the plan includes fresh fruit, but is lean on vegetables.  For families that have to eat on a low budget, usually one or both of these are lacking, which can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies in the long run.

The total equals $13.99, leaving nearly five dollars in the thrifty budget plan for our family size.  We plan to donate this to Operation Rice Bowl, as part of our almsgiving this season.  As a family, we make a donation to our local food bank before lent every year, so this is one way we can continue to donate, and to help families around the world.

While we do regularly eat each of the meals or snacks above, we tend to eat larger meals during the day to compensate for a reduced portion.  Also, these meals are streamlined in order to cut costs so we can make the donation described above.  For example, I have cut added cheese from the breakfast tacos, grilled mushrooms and soup from the cheese sandwich meal, tortillas or bread with the bean meal, coffee, milk, and desserts.  The adults drink water all day after breakfast, and the children drink water with their snacks and lunch.

We are going to try out this meal plan and fasting lesson soon, so look for a later post about my attempts to get both husband and daughter to take cheese sandwiches for lunch on the same day.  My husband has already switched to drinking water at lunch as part of his Lenten sacrifice, so a cheese sandwich should be easy, right?

I am also planning to try out other dishes that might fit into this thrifty budget for other Fridays during lent.  I’m hoping I can fit some fish in at least once, or a salad loaded with veggies, so check back.  I definitely plan to try some of the recipes posted at Operation Rice Bowl, such as this rice and greens dish.

I have attached this post to the What are you doing for Lent? Link up hosted by Monica at Equipping Catholic Families.  Go visit to see what other bloggers are sharing about Lent, or to attach your own post.  This link up is part of the Liturgical Calendar Link up Party organized by Xhonané at Familia Católica.

I have also added this post to the Catholic Bloggers Round Up at the new Catholic Bloggers Network.  Go see this month’s posts, conveniently divided by category.  You will also find pages linking to Catholic Blogs, Events, a Store, and much more.

And, I am connecting with the Lenten Link up hosted by Lacy at Catholic Icing.  You will find even more ideas for celebrating the Lenten season at this link up.

Finally, I will connect this post to the inaugural Catholic Blog Day Link up.  Here are the details: “The theme for February 22 is: penance. Possible points of departure for writing your blog post include the three traditional methods of penance (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving); a memorable experience in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation; or how accepting the call to repentance has made a difference in your life.”  Go see what other bloggers are posting about penance or link your post; the link up opens on February 21st.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Liebster Award and Sharing Favorite Blogs

Over the weekend, my friend Xhonané at Familia Católica gave this blog its first award, The Liebster for a favorite blog with less than 200 followers.  ¡Gracias Xhonané!

"Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, but it can also mean favorite.  The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to those wonderful blogs!"  

Now it's my turn to pass it on with these simple rules:
* Add the award to your blog.
* Thank the giver with a link back to them.
* List your top 5 picks and let them know they've been given an award by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Hope that your followers will spread the love to the blogs you've spotlighted.

Here are my awardees.  Among them, you will find three Catholic moms (including two who homeschool), four women working on big writing projects, two women who work at universities, and at least five great blogs!

Sylvia is a graduate student working diligently on her dissertation about representations of the “femme fatale” in Spanish language literature.  She is also my colleague at the university and runs the language lab at another university.  She blogs about academic life, literature, culture, the esoteric, feminist theory, philosophy, and everything in between.  She keeps me connected to literature in so many ways.

Katie is also employed by a university, and is a poet like me.  Unlike me, she will publish two books this year; read about them on her publications page.  She blogs about her writing life, including posts about working as a reading event organizer, an editor and a reviewer, and she recently posted some wonderful advice about how to organize a poetry manuscript.  

Vee works as a senior content writer and editor for MarketingProfs, including as editor of the Daily Fix, the company blog.  You are probably familiar with Paper Dali, her awesome blog where she shares her drawings, paper dolls, and podcasts about Catholic saints. In addition, she is a monthly contributor to CatholicMom.  But, did you know that Vee also has yet another blog about her writing life, Sometimes Bailey?  Here she offers tips for writing amidst a busy life as mother and worker, something I can definitely identify with, so I award this one, out of her many blogs.

Jennifer at Mommy Y
Jennifer is a homeschooler and daycare provider. In addition to writing about these topics, she writes posts that are part of an on-going memoir that she regularly works on.  Jennifer posts every day, some days more than once!  What I like about her blog, is that like me, Jennifer writes about things that cross her mind, her life, and her desk.  She is currently hosting her first link up, for posts that make you smile

Martianne shares the joys and challenges of her homeschooling endeavors at her blog, using a Montessori inspired sensory approach.  She provides original worksheets and printables on her site for free, and hosts a weekly link up on Sundays for sharing posts about Faith Formation for children.  She and I have many insights about this in common.

If you want to learn about even more Liebster Award winning blogs, visit Xhonané’s post awarding mine and four others.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Bean Dinners

I have several recipes for those of you who are ready to dress up a bean dinner with unusual flavors.  Below, you will find ways to prepare pinto beans, lentils, and chickpeas with flare.  These meals are perfect for a Friday Lenten dinner, or any night.  And, they are all quick and easy to prepare.

For an easy twist on enchiladas, make Enfrijoladas with cooked whole pinto beans.  These cheese enchiladas use a bean sauce instead of the traditional chili pepper sauce.  The recipe, by Marcela Valladolid, was featured on her Food Network Show “Mexican Made Easy” last year.  It does call for chicken broth, but vegetable broth would work for a vegetarian version.  As several of the reviews on the site report, the sauce that results from the recipe is more than needed for eight cheese filled enchiladas, so you can double the number of enchildas to feed more than four people.  Or, freeze half the sauce for another meal.  Read the recipe here.

My friend Karen created the following recipe for lentils.  I wrote about how Karen’s natural living lifestyle has influenced me at this post.  She has graciously agreed to let me post her recipe.  And, because she is such a generous person, she has offered to my blog her prepared information about feeding babies and toddlers a whole food, diary free diet while entirely avoiding processed food.  This comes from the advice she offers her brother’s patients (a Christian natural living chiropractic practice).  Look for that post in the near future.  This lentil recipe makes a lot, so you can feed a large family, or freeze half for later.


          by Karen Townsend

one pound dried lentils
water for soaking + 6 cups for cooking
Optional: 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 – 2 tablespoons sea salt (less for regular table salt)
1 cup brown rice or quinoa
1 – 2 onions
3 – 4 cloves garlic
olive oil for sautéing
4 large leaves of kale or spinach, leaves frozen whole or fresh
2 teaspoons curry powder
Optional: 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, avocado to garnish

Soak lentils overnight with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and plenty of water (they soak up the water).  This step is optional, but will enhance the nutritional value of the lentils.  In the morning, combine the following in a slow cooker on low (all day): lentils (drained and rinsed), 6 cups water, sea salt.

About one and a half hours before serving, put 1 cup of brown rice to boil.  Chop and sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil.  When the rice and vegetables are ready, add them to the slow cooker along with: the frozen, crumpled kale or spinach leaves (fresh works too), 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder or extra onion above, 1 teaspoon garlic powder or extra garlic above.

*For some reason it is also REALLY good served with sliced avocado on top!

**If cutting  lentils back to 1 ½ cups, use only ½ - 1 tablespoon salt and 4 cups water, keeping everything else the same.

One more recipe to try: a delicious, tangy yummy Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad.  I am quite impressed with the intense flavor of the dressing, and I plan to try it with other beans.  Serve this dish with leftover brown rice for a quick lunch or dinner.  Also, make sure you check out the links on the recipe page to the original recipe (by Heather at Heather’s Dish), which is slightly different and makes a larger quantity.  By the way, I just took another peek at Heather’s Dish and I’ve found more good stuff to try!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Upcoming Readings

If you live in Houston, you can hear a large group of poets published in the Mutabilis Press anthology Improbable Worlds read at Brazos Bookstore on Saturday, February 25, at 2 p.m.  I will read my poem “Bat Bridge” and mingle with the other poets.  I hope you will join us.

On Saturday, March 3, you can hear me read in Chicago at the AWP Conference as part of the panel Border Bodies — Womanhood In Verse.  Our presentation is from 1:30 - 2:45 p.m. in Private Dining Room 2, at the Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor.  This is a panel of poets all associated with Mouthfeel Press, including Katherine Hoerth, Laura Cesarco Eglin, and Maria Miranda Maloney.  

My talk at AWP is not open to the public, but I hope to see you there if you are already registered for the conference.  For the rest of you, here is a preview:

I will discuss how the narratives of women’s bodily processes, such as lactation, are considered natural instead of cultural, which means they are not valued as important enough for literature.  I will read my poem about Hurricane Ike, which is about nursing my newborn during the storm.

I will discuss how a woman’s body can metaphorically represent her path in life, and read from my poem “Soy Chicana.”

Lastly, I will discuss how poems about women and their bodies offer a much needed counterpoint to the dominant narrative about border culture that is militaristic and hyper-masculine.  I plan to read from poems in process about the women murdered in Juarez.

I have other reading and writing events in the works, and will post information here, and on the “Upcoming Events” page when they are finalized.

If you want to buy my latest book, Entre la claridad, it is available for $7.00 from Mouthfeel Press.  My poem “Soy Chicana” is included.  You can listen to some of the poems from this book through the links on my “Audio” page above.

Have you liked the Entre la claridad page on Facebook?  I post notices about writing, the giveaways, and literary events there also.
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