Podcasts, Jane the Virgin & Resolutions

Thankfully “Jane The Virgin” continues to be a much needed source of entertainment and distraction in my life. The scene in this past Monday’s episode when Jane prepped Rafael for dinner with her family was hilarious, but what really made me laugh out loud was Rogelio’s interactions with Xo after Xo had vowed to remain chaste.

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(Image source JaneGifs.Tumblr!)

By the way, if you’re also a “Jane” fan, you might like an article I wrote for Latinamom.me this month, 7 Reasons to Watch ‘Jane The Virgin’.

Writing for Latinamom.me again has kept me a little busier than usual. As many of you know, I took a break from freelance writing for a couple months last fall so that I could work on my manuscript (book writing) instead, so getting back into the flow of balancing my time at the computer between freelancing, book writing, this blog, social media, and the constant flow of emails, not to mention responsibilities away from the computer like family, household and my own self-care – Well, that’s been a little challenging, but I’m attempting to figure it out. (And I know so many people struggle to balance even more, so I’m not complaining.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for more of my writing since I’m not updating this blog quite as often at the moment, here are two more articles I wrote on Latinamom.me that you might enjoy.

10 Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep (in GIFs)

5 Must-Listen Podcasts for Latinos

In February, be on the look out for more posts from me over at Latinamom.me. I can’t tell you what they’re about before they publish, but I think many of you are going to love the topics!

Conversations at Casa López – Part 5

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Here we go – my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

Carlos: [singing] Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, happy all the day…
Tracy: That’s not how it goes.

Carlos: He stirred the soup, right?
Older son: What?
Tracy: He means stirred the pot.

Tracy: Hey, I just thought of something. How do you say wrinkle in Spanish?
Carlos: Arruga.
Tracy: That’s what I thought. Do you think they called caterpillars the same name because they’re wrinkly?
Carlos: What?

[Me mixing up arruga and oruga and thinking they were the same word.]

Younger son: I’m going to take Spanish class next year.
Tracy: Por eso tenemos que hablar más español, para que estes listo.
Younger son: Vaya pues.

[This was just funny because he answered in such a Salvadoran way, which is obviously not what they’ll teach him in class. In class he’ll probably learn a more standard response like “Está bien.”]

Carlos: What’s the weather for tomorrow?
Older son: I’m not sure.
Carlos: Where’s your phone? Ask Sirius.
Tracy: You mean Siri.
Carlos: [trying to save face] Sirius is the male version.

Como ayudar a mejorar las traducciones de Google Translate

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Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

No sé si ustedes ya saben, pero pueden ayudar a mejorar las traducciones de Google Translate.

En Google Translate Community eliges los idiomas que conoces, y luego hay actividades en que puedes participar. Para español e inglés sólo hay dos actividades en este momento:

“Translate”
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“Validate”
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Ojalá con el tiempo y la ayuda de personas bilingües, Google Translate puede mejorar y conectar a gente en todo el mundo, (¡con un mínimo de malentendidos!)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I don’t know if you guys know, but you can help improve Google Translate translations. Go to Google Translate Community and choose that languages you know, and then there activities in which you can participate. For Spanish and English there are only two activities to choose from at the moment: “Validate” and “Translate.”

Hopefully with time and the help of bilingual individuals, Google Translate will get better and connect people around the world, (with a minimum of misunderstandings!)

Hot Dog & Egg Tacos

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On occasion I’ve been known to make hot dog and scrambled egg tacos for breakfast. I was actually introduced to the use of hot dogs like this by my suegra. To be honest, for many years I thought it was just one of her weird inventions but when we went to El Salvador there were hot dog slices on pizza and finely diced hot dog pieces in Chinese fried rice, so I began to get the idea that this unconventional use of hot dogs wasn’t just a suegra thing.

If you want to give it a try, here’s my recipe for hot dog and egg tacos. Feel free to experiment and give it your own spin!

Hot Dog & Egg Tacos

You need:

2 eggs per person
1 hot dog per person
diced Poblano or Anaheim pepper (about 1 pepper)
finely diced vidalia onion (a small handful)

salt to taste
white corn tortillas, warmed and lightly toasted
Cholula (optional) or Salsa Verde (optional)

Directions:

1. Crack eggs into a large bowl and lightly whisk. Set aside.

2. Cut hot dogs in circles or dice – whichever you like. (Diced is safer for little kids.) Add to a non-stick pan with the onion and Poblano pepper over medium heat, stirring for a couple minutes until hot dog is lightly toasted and the onion and pepper have become slightly tender but not soft.

3. Add the eggs to the pan. Use a spatula or flat ended wooden spoon to gently move the eggs around as they cook. Try not to brown the eggs. Remove from heat.

4. Salt to taste if desired. Serve inside warmed and lightly toasted tortillas with a little Cholula hot sauce or salsa verde.

Optional: If you happen to have frijoles molidos on hand, you can spread those on the tortilla before putting the egg and hot dog mixture into it!

Immigrant Voices: Monica Herrera, Broadcast Journalist

The following is a guest post by broadcast journalist Monica Herrera, a Salvadoran by birth and New Yorker by choice. I hope you enjoy it.

“I saw many great journalists putting their lives in the line of fire to be able to inform, a TV channel closing down their broadcast because they were not allowed to tell the truth. I cannot talk about being a journalist without mentioning this sad period of time in my country because during those moments I learned the power of reporting the news, the power of freedom of speech and how information can impact and transform lives.” – Monica Herrera

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By: Monica Herrera

When I was growing up in El Salvador, a small but beautiful country, I used to play in my backyard pretending to be a teacher. I remember all of my students were imaginary because neither my sister nor my brother wanted to play that game with me. That was the first sign of what I would end up doing with my life. No, I didn’t become a teacher, but looking back I realize that at that age, I discovered I am a storyteller and I wasn’t afraid to do things on my own when necessary. Skills like that are essential for a journalist.

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Growing up, I was part of a generation in which the civil war was part of our life. During that time, TV and radio were the only way to know what was happening. I saw many great journalists putting their lives in the line of fire to be able to inform, a TV channel closing down their broadcast because they were not allowed to tell the truth. I cannot talk about being a journalist without mentioning this sad period of time in my country because during those moments I learned the power of reporting the news, the power of freedom of speech and how information can impact and transform lives. All these moments and experiences are the reason why I am a journalist.

Covering- Serena WilliamsAfter a series of events that took me out of my comfort zone, I moved to New York. I earned a scholarship at the New York Film Academy to study Broadcast Journalism. I came to this country with hopes and dreams, I learned how to move around the city and I worked hard to find stories despite challenges. One day I found myself in the middle of thousands of people who were marching in one of the biggest demonstrations in NYC, and later in the middle of a conference room asking questions to Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players in the world, and since then I haven’t stopped.

I am who I am because of where I come from, a beautiful country full of breathtaking views, but also full of contrasts, warm and resilient people who always laugh even in their struggles. They inspired me to never give up. Everyone has a different path, and on my path which led to New York I found a community of people not only from my country, but from different places that needed their stories to be told. The multicultural exposure I gained over the years has given me the advantage of being able to reach more people; in that process I found my voice and my place in life. I don’t know where my path will take me from here, but what I know is that I love what I do.

Volcan de San Salvador

You can follow Monica Herrera on Twitter, Vimeo, and Instagram, or check out her blogs: Sports in High Heels, and Courage is my Name.

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

How to make a Salvadoran-style wooden box

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

If you’re Salvadoran or if you’ve ever been to El Salvador, you know that little wooden boxes are a common handicraft made and painted in the traditional style – I own several little “treasure box” style ones and at first I wanted to try to make one of those complete with a lid for this month’s woodworking challenge. Once I started planning it out though, I decided that for my first attempt I should try a more simple design, so with Carlos’s help I made a medium-sized wooden box without a lid. The supplies and method I used are below if you’d like to give it a try!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

What you need:

jigsaw
utility square
pencil with eraser
paper
heavy duty bar clamp
2 pieces of craft board 3/8 x 4 x 24″ (to be cut for the 4 sides: Left, Right, Front, Back)
1 craft board 1/2 x 6 x 24″ (to be cut for the bottom)
newspaper
sandpaper
Elmer’s Carpenters wood glue (interior)
painters tape
Q-tips
paper towels
paint in various colors (I used Valspar samples I already had on hand)
small craft paint brushes
permanent marker (black)

Directions:

1. Measure and mark your wood for cutting using the utility square and pencil. Very important! Remember to include the width of the front and back pieces plus the bottom for the measurement you need for your two sides. These are the measurements I ended up with:

Bottom: 6″
Front: 6″
Back: 6″
Left side: 6 1/4″
Right side: 6 1/4″

Tip: Craft wood is sold with a UPC sticker on it. When you remove the sticker it might leave behind a sticky residue. This can be removed with a little dab of peanut butter on a paper towel. (Yes, peanut butter!)

2. Wearing eye protection, carefully use the jigsaw to cut our your pieces. You should have 5: bottom, front, back, left side, right side.

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3. Make sure all pieces are the correct size by doing a dry assembly of the box to see that the corners line up properly with none of the pieces being too long or short.

4. Lightly sand any rough edges if necessary.

5. On top of a layer of newspaper, glue the front and back to the bottom. Use Q-tips to remove any excess glue before it dries. It’s really helpful to have a second person helping you at this stage. One person should glue and hold the pieces in place while the other lightly secures the clamp. Do not secure the clamp too tightly or they may lean in. To ensure the sides are at a 90 degree angle, you can use a triangle square. Leave the clamp on for at least an hour to ensure the glue has dried. Now repeat step 5 to attach the other two sides. Note: Really try to avoid using too much glue which will cause your box to stick to the newspaper. If this happen, the newspaper can be sanded off with sandpaper.

Glue-Box

6. Once the glue has dried you should have a completed wooden box ready to be painted. Gently tap the sides to make sure you’ve done a good job and the box will hold together.

7. Practice a design with pencil and paper. Once you know what you want to paint, draw your design directly onto the box with pencil.

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8. On a layer of newspaper, paint your design. Tip: Painters tape is helpful for making clean lines.

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9. Once the paint is dry your box is ready to display or use!

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Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Si buscas inspiración, ¡ven y visita nuestra página de Facebook en español Lowe’s Ideas Creativas!

Feliz Navidad 2014

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Hola people! It’s Christmas week so I’m going to be spending a few days away from the computer eating tamales, taking naps, and making sure our dog Chico doesn’t open gifts under the tree that don’t belong to him. This week you’ll be able to find fresh content on my Facebook, Twitter and possibly Instagram, but as most of you know I write for other places on the internet besides my blog, so here are a few recent holiday pieces I’ve written if you’d like to check those out too.

Wishing you all a Nochebuena and Navidad full of felicidad, familia, and muchos blessings!

10 Facts About Navidad in Latin America

If you think Christmas is celebrated in relatively the same way all over the world, you’ll be surprised by the variation in traditions found in Latin America alone. Here are 10 unique ways the holiday is recognized from Mexico all the way down to Paraguay, and many countries in between. [Read the rest here!]

10 Songs for Your Nochebuena Playlist

We all know and love the classic bilingual Jose Feliciano song, “Feliz Navidad,” but it’s time to play DJ and mix it up a bit for your Nochebuena fiesta. Here are 10 danceable Spanish-language Christmas songs from all over Latin America and the U.S. to get the party started. [Read the rest here!]

Nochebuena vs. Christmas Eve: Same holiday? Kind of — and not at all.

If you’re bilingual and bicultural, you may be saying “Wait a minute, aren’t Christmas Eve and Nochebuena the same thing?” The answer is yes… and no. It’s the same holiday but chances are… [Read the rest here!]

A Holiday Sampler of Treasured Memories on Latin@s in Kid Lit

I was included in this holiday story round-up on Latin@s in Kid Lit. Read my story and others here.