Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Baking Goodies...The Pics

I realize it's almost been a full week after Christmas, but I wanted to post what each one of the baking goodies looked like for future reference.  If there ever is a future for these tasty treats.  Judging by how fast these plates were cleared of their deliciousness at my house, I think the future is pretty promising.

{I only have the recipes for the Toffee and Peanut Butter Clusters}

On a side note, I hope you all have a very Happy New Year! We're celebrating at home with the Kueny's, and having some oh so healthy buffalo wings, homemade french fries, fried mozzarella sticks, baked beans, and an ice cream cake.  Nothing like ringing in the New Year with a full year's worth of cholesterol in one evening!  I see some baked fish and steamed veggies in my very near future.  I will pay for all this grease consumption.  I just know it.  However, it's worth it every once in a while.  Remind me of that later.  M-kay?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Glutton For Punishment

I'm not sure why I do this to myself, but I do.  I make these daunting goals and then push, push, push to accomplish them in a short amount of time.  You're probably wondering what I've done to myself this time.  Well, it's horrendous.  The end result will be pretty nice, but the journey is painful. Very painful.  I'm not sure I can even share, but involves one of these...

And one of these...

For the last two days, I have been in the bathroom in 20 minute intervals training a certain Little Miss.   I haven't been in the bathroom this much since my scandalous episode with a pitcher of lemonade in combination with a pregnancy.  I would just like to state for the record that I do not like potty training.  I'm super duper, crossin' my fingers, hopin', and wishin' on a star that Little Miss 'gets' the whole peeing and pooing in the potty.  If not, I will be checking into the nearest psychiatric ward.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Classic...With a Twist

"I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down."

The Three Little Pigs.  A complete classic.  I'm not sure I've ever come in contact with a kid who had not heard the story.  But, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is one that most of my former fourth graders had not read.  Jon Scieszka, the author, puts an interesting twist on the classic.  He tells the Wolf's side of the story.  It's a pretty convincing story.  If I were in a court of law, I'd have to vote not guilty, but I'll let you have your own opinion.  Your opinion would be wrong, but I'd let you have it.  Have I ever mentioned I dislike being wrong?  Pretty apparent, huh?

You're probably wondering what in the world I doing reading such primary books to fourth graders.  Well, I used a TON of primary books to teach reading.  With these two books specifically, we worked on comparing and contrasting, points of view, main ideas vs. supporting details, schema, the list goes on and on.  Primary books are excellent teaching tools.  Good, quick reads that allow you to focus on the skills associated with reading.

Since my world is no longer inundated with catering to the needs of building literacy in readers, I have to change the way I use these books.  I now want to build literacy in my two little non-readers that make messes in my clean house.  That's a whole other story.  I'll stay on track.  I promise.

With my two little mess makers, I still tell the story of The Three Little Pigs, and read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs only I don't have a beautiful T-Chart and colorful markers to record literary discoveries.  Oh, how I miss those T-Charts.  I realize some people long for Coach purses and Louis Vuitton luggage, but I long for perfect packs of Post-Its, unwrinkled chart paper, and brilliant colored unscented permanent markers.  It's a sickness. A disease really.

Back to learning.  Instead of perfect packs of Post-Its, unwrinkled chart paper, and brilliant unscented permanent markers, I have picture cards.  After telling Little Man the story of The Three Little Pigs, I give him some hand drawn cards of different scenes from the book.  Like a picture of the straw house, the stick house, and the brick house.  He puts them in the order that the wolf blew them down.  Then I ask him what he thought about the wolf.  We do this on one day and then take a break.

The following day I pull out the sequence picture cards from the day before, and ask him to tell me the story he heard yesterday.  If he does it well, we begin to read The Trues Story of the Three Little Pigs.  If he doesn't remember, I retell the original story and then we begin the new story.

During reading, I make sure we stop for some good 'ol fashion Think Time.  Think Time.  It's important.  Do it.  It's a vital step in your child comprehending what they are hearing.

After reading, I pull the sequence cards back out, and he puts them in order again.  Then I say, "Wow!  These stories were just alike!"  The wolf blows down every house but the brick house.  Hopefully, at this point Little Man (age 4) will pipe in that they weren't the same, and we'd talk about it.  If not, I'd probably say something like this, "That wolf was one really bad guy!"  I know Little Man would argue with this one.  Especially with the newest book fresh on his mind.  Either way, he's got some metacognition going on.  And that my friend, is what we're aimin' for!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Lesson In Marriage

The other day I was getting ready to put Little Man to bed and he grabbed my hand.  While his soft little fingers were rubbing the diamond in my wedding ring, he asked, "Momma, where'd you get this ring?"

I explained to him that a long time ago Daddy decided he loved Mommy so much that he gave me a ring to show his love.  At this point I shortened the story because it was bedtime and I was tired.  Which is not unlike any other night.  I'm pretty much always tired.  No, I'm not pregnant.  I have no excuse.  I'm just tired.  Anyway, as we were walking to his room he stopped right in front of me, turned around and said, "Well, I love Little Miss so much that I want to give her a ring too.  Will you help me buy a ring for Little Miss?"

This is precisely why I love being a parent to more than one child. The relationship Little Man and Little Miss have is an innocent unconditional love.  It reminds me how I need to not only love my own family, but love others outside my family as well.
I love this pic of the two of them because all we were trying to do was capture a few pics of the kids dressed up for the Christmas service at church, and they wanted to hug each other.  Little Miss' face is priceless.  She loves her brother as much as he loves her.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Success

Since I'm sure you have all been on pins and needles wondering about my Christmas Feast, I'll fill you in...It was a SUCCESS!  I even have the pictures to prove it...

{Me and my rice, and of course my NEW pot}

{The base to the rice.  Mmmmm}

{The finished product.  Introducing my first attempt at arroz con gandules}

Now onto the meat.  Also a huge success.  We had the traditional turkey, and a Puerto Rican style ham, pernil.  It's juicy.  It's flavorful.  It's delicious.

{Supervising the turkey carving.}

{The Table}

If you're wondering about Menu Monday, it's not happening.  Frankly, I can't even think about food right now.  Maybe ever.  I consumed enough calories in one day to last me a week.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

What's That You Say? Today Is Not Saturday?

Today is not Saturday.  That's news to me.  It feels like Saturday.  Steven is off work.  We all slept in.  We ate Saturday morning breakfast together.  All the signs of a Saturday, but today is Friday. 

Since today is in fact Friday and not Saturday, I did not have a blog post ready.  You will all be thrilled to know that I love you all so much I decided to put one together this morning.  Like right now.  However, it's not that interesting.  It's a to-do list.  An itinerary if you will.

  9:00   Write a blog post, because it's Friday.  Not Saturday.
10:00   Make dough for crescents tomorrow
10:30   Begin baking (toffee, peanut butter blossoms, peanut butter clusters)
11:00   Clean the whole house.  Steven gets to help.  He doesn't know it yet. He'll be so excited!
11:30   Make the pip squeaks lunch.  Back to cleaning.
12:00   Continue cleaning.  Remind Steven that standing in front of the tv does not constitute as cleaning.
  1:00   Nap time!  My very favorite part of the day!!!
  2:00   Hopefully the cleaning will be finished.  Hopefully.
  3:00   Get ready for the best Christmas Performance ever!
  4:00   Leave for the best Christmas Performance ever.  An hour early.  It fills up fast!
  5:00   Best Christmas Performance ever begins.
  6:30   Dinner at my Mama's.
  8:00   Head home for bedtime!  My second favorite part of the day.
 10:00  Hit the sack.  Santa won't come until everyone's asleep.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Think I Drew the Short Stick

We all know I'm in charge of Christmas dinner.  We all know I'm married to a Puerto Rican.  We all know I'm a little neurotic.  Wait.  You didn't know that?  Well, I am.  Completely neurotic.  It's good to know these things before you decided to read the mumbo-jumbo stuff I put on this very blog.

Since we've now cleared up that I am in fact neurotic, I am married to a Puerto Rican, and I am in charge of Christmas dinner, I should tell you the second part.  I, the white chic, am in charge of cooking pernil and arroz con gandules.  I'm not sure what my family is thinking, but this could either be the beginning of a beautiful thing or an epic fail.  Epic fail is what I thinking. 

I do, however, have a back-up plan  (i.e. a traditional Christmas meal).  I wouldn't anyone going hungry before we open presents.  If that were the case, things could get a little ugly.  We don't want ugly on Christmas night.  No, no, no. We want harmony.  Peace and harmony.  And of course good food.  Say a prayer for me. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Four Generations

Let it be known that there are very few Puerto Ricans in Oklahoma.  Mexicans, yes.  Puerto Ricans, no.  However, the year Little Man was born the Puerto Rican population increased by 20.  Yes, 20+ of Steven's family crammed into a van and traveled to Oklahoma over the Thanksgiving holiday to meet the newest Torres.  We are so blessed to have such amazing families.  Who else travels 1,200 miles round trip to meet a baby?  You wish you had a family like this, don't you?  My only suggestion...marry a Puerto Rican!

When I was perusing our family photos last night, I found this picture... 
When Steven's family came that year to meet Little Man, we made sure to get a picture with the man who started it all, Santos Torres.  Santos, Steven's grandpa, is a hard working man who blessed his wife with 10 children.  With 10 kids I guess you had to be hard working. 

Then, when we visited Chicago this past Thanksgiving, we made sure to get another four generation photo.  It's amazing how much everyone has changed in four short years.  Nonetheless, I love having these photos to remind Mason of the good times we've had with our families, and more importantly to have captured a memory of our grandparents.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Annual Christmas Cookies

For quite some time now my family has always made Christmas sugar cookies, and this year was no exception.  The only difference is my mom and I had 6 extra hands.  Little hands.  Not so much helping hands, but little hands.  Little Man, Little Miss, and Chunky Monkey all pitched in to make the cookies.  They were so adorable.  A complete mess, but adorable.  I very well may be sweeping up little teeny tiny sprinkles off the floor for as long as I live, but it is completely worth it.  I hope to do this with the kids every year.  Including Chunky Monkey.  He just adds that special touch.  You'll get to see that special touch a little later.  You'll love it!

The dough is rolled and the kids are ready!

Little Miss is visualizing the perfect Christmas cookie. 
This is serious business people.

Her first attempt with Grammy's help.  A success. 
All that visualization paid off.

Little Man's turn.  Another success.  He didn't visualize.  He's just that good.

Chunky Monkey watching his cookie go to the cookie sheet.  He wanted to eat it.  Explaining a baking process to a 2 year old is difficult.  Very difficult.

Here's that special touch I was talking about.  Chunky Monkey really wanted to make sure he left a little part of him with each cookie he made.  So sweet. 

Time for decorating!!!  Notice Little Miss is not in the picture.  She tired out.  Too much visualization of the perfect cookie.  It just seemed unattainable to her. I understand Little Miss.  I understand.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Monday

I'm pretty sure I'm the only insane one who is cooking the week of Christmas.  The fast food lanes allure me, but my stomach cannot handle it.  Therefore, I'll be cooking.  Don't let me fool you.  I enjoy it.  So without further ado, here is the menu before Christmas.

Monday-Ginger's Stuffed Burritos (I made a double batch last time so this is a freezer meal), Chips and Dip
Tuesday-Mini Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Wednesday-Taco Soup and Cornbread
Thursday-Chicken and Dumplings
Friday-Leftovers from the Week
Saturday-Christmas Dinner
Sunday-Christmas Dinner Leftovers

Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Beautiful True Story of Giving

During the holiday season it's all too easy to get tunnel vision.  Tunnel vision on the Christmas lists.  Tunnel vision on decorating. Tunnel vision hosting the perfect party.  Tunnel vision on ourselves and are own family.  However, my own tunnel vision was halted a couple of days ago when I heard this story from a very close friend of mine.

Two days ago, my friend was pulling up to a job site and noticed a little girl about 2 years old walking around in a nightgown at an apartment complex.  It was about 10:00am and it was cold.  My friend is a father himself, so he walked right over to the little girl and bent down to talk with her.  He asked over and over, "Where is your Mommy?"  He was just hoping that she would point to the direction of her apartment.  He had no such luck.  As he bent over to pick her up, he immediately noticed her cold skin and soiled diaper. Wrapping her in his coat, he yelled out "Does anyone know this child?" 

Suddenly a little boy about 4 years old, completely naked on a tricycle pedals around the corner and says, "Dat's my sister."  Completely concerned he calls out to the workers he was checking on and they come over to help keep the kids warm and locate the parents.  With no such luck the police were called.  The arriving officer immediately knew where the kids lived.  He had been there on a domestic call the previous week. 

The officer knocked on the door.  With no answer, he forces the door open to find the mother asleep on the bed.  My friend and the other men who had offered to help warm the children were called into the apartment.  As he walked in, he saw Corn Flakes crushed into the carpet.  A Spaghetti-O's can opened and soiled into the carpet as well.  It was a complete mess.  The mother stumbled out from her bedroom and thanked the men.  She didn't notice her kids had escaped.  Since the mother was physically present, and there was food in the house, the kids were left with their mother.  The officer said there was nothing more he could do.

When I first heard this story I was completely disgusted with the mother.  How in the world could you just neglect your children like that?  To be so completely unaware of what's going on? To let your kids fend for themselves at such a young age?  Horrendous. 

Here's where the great part of the story comes in.  My friend was appalled too, but his family decided to be proactive about it.  Obviously this mother needed some guidance.  His wife went to the grocery store and purchased food for the monther and her children.  She purchased items that the kids would be able to serve themselves, and items for the mother to cook.  Judging by her husband's description she also purchased clothes for the children. 

As a family, they plan on delivering the items tonight, and inviting the family to their local church function.  Who knows, maybe she'll attend and maybe she won't.  Maybe she won't even accept the gifts.  But, I know one thing.  She can't deny that this family has a love for her, and desires a better life for her children. 

I tell you this story, because it was an eye opener to Steven and me.  Sometimes, we fail to look at all people as God's creation.  God loves that woman no less than he loves you or me.  I can assure you the choices she currently makes will bring her pain, but this couple has shown her how God loves.  They are giving mercy and grace in hopes of changing her life.  During this holiday season, I hope we all can be given an opportunity to make a difference, and see the needs of people.

Update:  The police officer did file a report with DHS regarding the children.

English Toffee

Is it even Christmas without toffee?  Nope.  Santa's not gonna stop by your house if English Toffee is not on a Christmas plate with a small 8 oz glass of milk and a chaser of egg nog.  I know he's picky, but you gotta do what the Big Man asks.  So I'll help you out a little.  I'll give you my recipe for English Toffee.  You're welcome.  You're very welcome.

*NEWS FLASH*  If you don't have time to stand over the stove for a good 10 minutes, don't even start the toffee.  It takes time, attention, and gusto.  Lots of gusto.

English Toffee
2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp Cream of Tarter
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips
  • In a non Teflon skillet, melt sugar and butter together.
  • When the mixture starts to bubble, add Cream of Tarter.
  • Stir constantly with a wire wisk on high heat.
  • Mixture will get syrupy and start to smoke (that's a good sign).
  • Keep stirring quickly until mixture starts to scorch to a nice toffee color.
  • Pour onto an ungreased cookie sheet with a lip.
  • Spread the mixture as thin as you can immediately (it sets fast).
  • Sprinkle the half bag of milk chocolate chips on top.  Allow to melt for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Spread melted chocolate over the toffee. 
  • Let cool completely and break apart.
  • Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Menu

The first time in Torres Family history, we are spending the entire day of Christmas at home.  Can I get a 'woot, woot'?  Yep, our little family snuggled altogether playing with the new toys and lounging in our pj's.  Oh yeah, and preparing the Christmas Family Feast.  Christmas night we're hosting dinner.  My family and his family laughing, hugging, sipping on egg nog, and singing O' Christmas Tree in completely harmony. Okay, okay.  So maybe not in complete harmony, but we'll all be here.  All of us.  Every cotton pickin' one of us.  Which means I've got a booty load of food to make. 

Here's what's on my Christmas Menu...

Artichoke Spinach Dip
Fruit with McAlister's Style Fruit Dip
Cheese Ball with Crackers

Main Meal
Turkey (using this brine)
Arroz con Gandules (my first attempt at Puerto Rican rice)
Green Bean Casserole
Corn Casserole
Stuffing Balls
Zucchini Corn Saute
Homemade Crescents

Sweet Treats
Cake Balls
English Toffee
Peanut Butter Clusters
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Pecan Pie (Thanks Mom)
Pumpkin Pie (Again...from the Madre)

As you can see we won't be skimping on calories.  So go ahead and practice your poker face.  Cause if you see me in public you might need it.  I plan on blowin' up to at least 200+lbs after consuming all of the food items listed above.  Poker face.  If you don't have one...GET ONE!

I'm super curious to know what you eat for Christmas Dinner?  Do you even have a dinner?  Do you do eat dinner on Christmas Eve?  Do you do eat dinner on a boat?  Do you eat dinner with a goat?  Do you eat dinner here or there?  Do you eat dinner anywhere?  Wait a minute!  I've been reading Green Eggs and Ham WAY too much!  Scratch those last few questions.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

His Comments

I mentioned yesterday that Steven often makes weird comments.  It's true, and today I intend to prove my point.  I'm not sure if these 'Steven-isms' come from years of living in a football dorm or from his secretive twin language.  They are weird nonetheless.  So weird, that I too find myself using them in my daily conversations.  My poor innocent listeners are left confused and mentally noting my lack of coherence. 

So to fill you in, here are the Top 10 Steven-isms...

    {The one and only, Steven Torres}
  1. "Look at those Ricky's."  Translation: That guy is wearing shorts that are too tight.
  2. "You need to boo-boo?"  Translation:  Do you need to poop?
  3. "Those are some duh-dun-da-dunns."  Translation: That man's shorts are too short.
  4. "Quit bull-cornin'."  Translation:  Quit messing around.
  5. "Chili Fritos 3'oclock."  Translation: Chubby kid to the right.
  6. "BUSH!"  Translation: Oh no.
Okay, so there are only six that I can think of off the top of my head.  Probably because his unconventional language has turned into my daily converstations.  I used to be normal.  I promise.  Now if you find yourselves incorporating these phrases into your daily conversations, you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Every Stinkin' Morning

Every morning I'm awakened from my precious beauty sleep by a cry.  A cry of one little girl.  She doesn't wake up happy.  She doesn't wrestle with her blankets and laugh.  She doesn't sing. She doesn't talk.  She cries.  And cries.  And cries until someone gets her.  She's a demanding little fart.

After I pull my sorry booty from my warm bed and stumble down the halls to get her, I always find her hair in this state...

Seriously, what kind of acrobats must one do in order to produce hair such as this?  I'm tempted to install a camera in her room to see what exactly goes on in there.  I'm fully convinced that there is sabotage involved either by her brother or my husband.  I'll catch the culprit.  One of these days, I'll catch 'em.  Catch 'em and them make them brush this out.  It's a job I tell you.  A full time, no benefits, no pay job.

Anyway, that's not the point.  My point today, however ridiculous it may be, is this...

Every morning after I save the little fart from her crib wailing, her father makes comments about her resembling a Monchichi.  A Mon-chee-chi what?  I had no idea what he was talking about.  He makes weird comments all the time and I generally ignore them, but today I googled it.  And this is what I got...

Yep, definitely a Monchichi.  Hello.  My name is Amanda, and I have a Monchichi for a daughter. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Monday

Life and I are friends yet again. We are one.  I finally have a clean house again.  I have a decent menu for this week.  My pantry is stocked, and dare I say it?  Yes, I must.  I am finished with Christmas shopping.  Wooooo-weeeee!

Here's the menu for the week...

Monday-Tortilla Soup (Heather S. style) and Mexican Cornbread
Tuesday-Marlboro Man's Second Favorite Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday-Roast Beef Dippers, Baked Potato, Garden Salad
Thursday-Spinach Stuffing Stuffed Chicken Breast, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Homemade Parker Rolls
Friday-Bacon Chicken Roll Ups, Roasted Veggies, Rice Pilaf
Saturday-Balsamic Chicken Pasta with Honey Butter Bread
Sunday-Sausage Spinach Pockets with Broccoli & Cheese

Be sure to check back later this week.  I'll be posting Christmas goodies!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Who Done It?

"L'Escargot at 6:30pm sharp".  That was what the invitation had said.  Brief and to the point.  Being the owner of the restaurant, I was a bit perturbed.  How dare someone invite a group to MY restaurant and not give me the details.  At first I was relieved to have at least received a guest list, but after further review I was agitated.  People like this showed up...

Mr. Jerry Barton, a former military man (I suspect he is with the CIA), and his wife, Mrs. Nicole Barton.  She only married Jerry as a ticket to the United States.  Being a fellow French woman, I like her.  However, I know she's informing Jerry of my personal matters.

And then there's my brother and his girlfriend, the nude model.  I really don't care for her too much.  She's always pressuring him to marry her.  I mean, just look at her trying to be all sweet...

And then there's Derrick Worthington.  He's such a sweetie, but I heard he killed a man in South America.  You'll notice Mercedes Morales is always by him.  She's trying to win him back by making sure he sees her flirting with the other guest.  What a hussy!

See what I mean.  There are appetizers to be served, Arnold!

Of course I (Yvonne) was there.  This is one of my waiters, Arnold Cohen, working for the night.  Unfortunately, I suspect he and his brother are not the Boston College students they claim to be, but I like to keep him around.  He's great eye candy.

Here's the other waiter, Benjamin Cohen.  I should have fired him for being out of uniform.  He's also pictured with the town socialite and front desk worker.

I also should have fired his brother, Arnold.  He was getting a little too cozy with Jerry Barton.  I don't like that man.  Not one bit.  Arnold, get back to work!

Other guests were in attendance, but the pictures took a backseat to the murder.  During dinner a guest at my restaurant dropped dead.  Funny how the wait staff, the Cohen Brothers, were absent during dinner.  Yes, boys we suspect you killed Roger Worthington!  What we didn't know was why...

That's just a brief synopsis of our Murder Mystery weekend in Guthrie, OK.  We had a lot of fun. Something completely different and out of our element. It was wonderful to get to experience this with so many different people.  Here's the group...
The only element I was disappointed with was the return home.  I completely expected the next picture to carry on once we returned to the casa...
Unfortunately, Steven said his 'acting' time was over!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Boys!

Today is the day that Steven, Rene (Steven's twin), and Jaime (S & R's uncle) turn 32.  THIRTY TWO!  That's old.  I remember when they were 18.  I have to say they have all grown up fairly well.  Found good jobs.  Got themselves excellent wives, and have some beautiful children.  Pretty good accomplishments so far.  I say so far, because SO FAR no one has become a millionaire.  One of these days boys. One of these days.  So happy birthday Steven, Rene, and Jaime.  I'm proud to be associated with each one of you, but I super duper proud to be associated with one in particular...

My husband of almost 8 years, Steven Rene Torres.

If you don't know my husband, I strongly suggest you get to know him.  He's the best man I know.  He's given me so many wonderful memories over all the years I've known him.  Men don't get better than this.  Yes, I know you have a good man ladies.  Unfortunately, you don't have one this good ;)  It's okay, we can't all be lucky.  I just happen to sink my teeth in this fellow back in the 90's.  To prove he's the best man ever, I'm going to leave you with the Top 10 List of Steven Torres.
  1. He's a strong leader for our family.  If you know me at all, you know I NEED a strong leader.  Otherwise I think I'm the chief.
  2. He sacrifices what he would like to do personally to be with our family.  He always tells me, "There will be a time to do that, but the time is not now."
  3. He works hard, but rarely brings work home.  Work is at work and home is at home.
  4. He plays and plays and plays with the kids.
  5. He's the most mentally tough person I know.  There's nothing he can't do physically.  He's a machine.
  6. He's hot!  (just had to throw that in)
  7. He's willing to change and admit he's wrong.  I could learn something from him ;)
  8. He's humble.
  9. He's got a great sense of humor, especially around his brother.
  10. Besides his relationship with God, family is his #1.  Our family, his family, my family.  They're all #1.
Happy Birthday, Steven!   I love and appreciate you very much!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Have you ever seen the movie Parenthood?  Not the show, but the actual movie.  It paints such a clear picture about what parenthood is all about.  Working our tails off to bring up our kids the best way we know how.  Despite doing our best we know parenthood is hard.  We know parenthood is fun. We know parenthood is agonizing.  We know parenthood is hilarious.  We know parenthood is irritating.  We know parenthood is rewarding.  And we definitely know parenthood is challenging. 

If you're a parent you know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a job raising these monkeys kids.  Some days I'm pleased with the job I'm doing, and other days I'm just mad at myself.  A while back Steven and I made a list of traits we wanted to instill in our kids before they leave home.  We wrote them on an index card and stuck them to the side of the fridge.  You're curious what our words are, aren't you?  Well, I'm not gonna share.  Kidding.  Here they are...
  • joyful
  • successful
  • blessed
  • wealthy
  • righteous
  • influential
  • gracious
  • compassionate
  • generous
  • just
  • secure
  • triumphant
If you're curious where we came up with these crazy ideas, it's from the Bible.  Psalm 112 to be exact.  It's the picture of a Godly family.  Having these visible keeps me accountable throughout the day.  It reminds me that what I do daily affects them greatly.  I have to be intentional to teach them to how to be the above words.  It's a hard job.  I look forward to the day when I can put little check marks by the trait they've mastered.  Like really, really look forward to it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Corn Saute

Poor Alice asked about this recipe months ago.  At the time I told her I would get it up 'soon'. Well 'soon' never came.  More like later.  Much later.  So in this situation I'm going to use the phrase 'Better late than never'. 

Here's the long awaited Corn Saute modified from the Aug/Sept 2010 Simple & Delicious cooking magazine...

Corn Saute
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sliced onion
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup whole kernel corn
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
  • In a large skillet, saute zucchini and onion in oil until crisp/tender. 
  • Add corn and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes longer until vegetables are tender.
  • Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and lemon-pepper.
Really easy and really yummy.  The sugar combines well with the flavors.  A little sweetness.  Like Walter Payton. Complete Sweetness.

Happy Cooking

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Monday

Have you ever had one of those weeks were you feel you're chasing your own tail?  The previous week was it for me.  The return from an 8 day trip, only to prepare for a weekend trip did me in.  Did me in good.  I'm hoping today is the day I get caught up on life.  Since I'm a little behind on life, very little effort went into the menu.  I basically looked at what was in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, skipped the grocery store, and made the menu.  My mantra to the family will be the same mantra I used with elementary kids, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  You either eat it, or you make yourself a PB&J.  Very loving.

Monday-Parmesan Pork Chops, Corn Saute, and Homemade Parker Rolls (dough recipe)
Tuesday-Bubble and Squeak (google it), Green Beans
Wednesday-Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday-Hamburgers with Pineapple Salsa
Friday-Broccoli Rice Casserole and Honey Butter Bread
Saturday-Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and Grilled Chicken, The Bread, and salad
Sunday-Steven and Rene's 32nd birthday dinner out

Well, that's all folks.  I'm off to catch up on life.  Wish me luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Expense of Christmas

We usually do pretty well at Christmas as far as our expeditures go.  I try to buy presents for others early to spread the cost out a little more, but this year I'm trying something new.  After having a successful go with the envelope spending in Chicago, we decided to do the same for Christmas.  We knew exactly how much money we wanted to spend on everyone we buy for, so we took that amount in cash and divided among the various envelopes.  

On the front each envelope is the amount of $ inside (covered up for this post), and on the back lists the items we would like to purchase.  Inside the envelope is the cash and coupons for any items we plan to purchase.  If items are purchased online, that amount of money is taken out of the envelope and designated to the credit card payment. 

So far this is working better than I thought it would.  Since I actually SEE the money, I am much more careful to look for deals and coupons.  We have most items already purchased for the kids and family with only half of the designated money spent.  Any leftover money is going to the vacation fund!  Holla!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shutterfly Photo Card

Pop Art Ornaments Christmas
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.
If you're wondering why on I would post our Christmas photo on this blog, it involves getting a $25 gift certificate to Shutterfly.  For the life of me, I cannot find the link to the info now.  If I do, I'll share it with ya!

An Audience of Readers

When I'm out in public I run into people I know who comment about reading this blog.  A lot of times I have to ask, "What blog? My blog?"  It shocks me.  People read what I have to say?  I sure hope they don't really take my advice.  Unless it's advice that comes via The Pioneer Woman.  She's awesome.  (By the way, if you know her, hook me up with a meet and greet!  I might pull an Ellen and start a campaign to meet TPW.  I mean, she's in the same state as me.  OKLAHOMA!)  Okay, back to the blog thing...Originally, I started this blog to keep family in touch.  Then I started sharing family recipes.  Then I shared about the adventures of being a teacher.  You just never know what you're going to get these days.  From the nice pile of leftovers on my hardwood floors to encouraging you to be you, it's all in here.  All of this to say, if you read this blog leave me a comment sometime.  I love reading them.  I cherish them.  I write them down on little fuzzy pieces of heart shaped paper.  Then I snuggle with them all night long. 

Enough about the comments.  I really write this blog because it's my own little piece of an adult world.  A world free of food splatters, sippy cups leaks, and stinky booties.  A world free of whining, crying, and thrashing.  I do love being a SAHM, but I also like doing things that have a purpose for me.  Writing has a purpose for me.  Cooking has a purpose for me.  Lists have a purpose or me.  I don't do idle very well.  I'm always moving. Always thinking.  Always doing. So whether you enjoy my crazy tangents or you just feel sorry for my lack of normalcy, I'm glad you stop by.  I'm thankful that you do.  So bringing this post to a close I'll leave you with this deep, deep quote...

I feel a very unusual sensation - if it is not indigestion,
I think it must be gratitude.
- Benjamin Disraeli

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

La Vida Loca

I'm really contemplating changing the name of this blog to La Vida Loca.  Much more fitting, right?  I mean, I have a life AND it IS crazy.  La Vida Loca.  Yes, that sounds nice.

I'm pretty sure our recent photo session with MelHun Photography embodied the essence of my la vida loca.  Three small kids, four adults, a papi with his all adds up to craziness.  Let's just say our last two photographers stopped doing family sessions shortly after they worked with us.  I try not to take it personally.  However, if Melinda Hunley quits I won't be surprised.  We just have that effect on people.

Despite the craziness, Melinda did a fabulous job. We have a ton of amazing shots to capture this moment in our lives.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to have family photos.  I know in a short time Steven and I will be sitting on the couch reminiscing through these photos wondering how time flew by so fast. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Musical Interpretation

Have you ever heard a song and wondered, "What does this mean?"  Some songs are like poetry.  You hear the song and it leaves you boggled.  Like all those old poems in Humanity class you had to read, recite, and give your interpretation to the weird and twisted great work. 

I have no doubt that if you are a country music fan, you've heard Hello World by Lady Antebellum.  It's a beautiful song.  You're probably thinking, "I know what that's about.  It's about a man who finally 'checks' back into the world that he has been missing out on."  Yes, this is true, but do you know WHY he's checked out?  This I will tell you, but first some of the lyrics from the chorus....

Well, hello world, how've you been?
Good to see you, my old friend
Sometimes I feel, cold as steel
Broken like I'm never gonna heal
I see a light, little hole in the little girl
Well, hello world

Are you ready for the reason?  He's been checked out because he's been doing laundry.  What?  You don't see the connection to laundry?  I'll break it down for you...

Well, hello world, how've you been?
Good to see you, my old friend

- He's been in his laundry room so long he has forgotten that the world continues on without you.  He's just stepped outside and recognizes this life altering fact.

Sometimes I feel cold as steel
Broken like I'm never gonna heal

-Pressing himself against the washing machine on the cold cycle loading clothes he's become frigid.  Once the cycle has started, he closes the top loader and moves to the dryer to fold the load that has just finished. It's been on the high heat cycle.  He's crying over the amount of time he's missing with his kids.  He then feels a burning sensation on his thighs.  He wonders if the burn will heal.

I see a light, little hole in a little girl
Well, hello world 

-He's clearly washing a load of his little girl's clothes.  They have a small hole in the knee of some light colored pants.

I could go on and on with the rest of the song, but I'm sure you're convinced of my genius interpretation.  I am for hire if you need further assistance, but until then I'll leave you with a picture of my final loads of laundry.  The last 3 that need to be folded.  The last 3 loads of 10. Well, hello world!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu {yawn} Monday

I am tired.  So tired.  The Puerto Ricans wore me out.  They made me tired and fatter.  They also made me laugh so hard I'm pretty sure a little pee came out.  All in a week's time.  So this week I'll be hitting the gym and crying over my menu.  The menu means back to reality.  Back to laundry (which we'll discuss later this week).  Back to picking up my house.  Back to dinner on the table by 5:30.  {Sigh}  Life is so hard.  Not really.  It was just really cush in Chicago.  Really Cush.

Monday-Eggplant Parmesan (scroll down below the Chicken Parmigiana pic), Olive Garden Style Salad, Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce and Bread
Tuesday-Fried Chicken Drumsticks, Loaded Baked Potatoes, and Side Salad (this meal isn't helping the size of my booty)
Wednesday-Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta and THE Bread
Thursday-Ginger's Stuffed Burritos with Red Beans and Rice
Friday-Baked Chicken, Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Biscuits
Saturday-Murder Mystery Dinner in Guthrie, OK
Sunday-Dinner at my Mama's (Mom, if you're reading this, we're coming over Sunday. Love you...bunches)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Monday

Here's what's on my menu...

Monday-Chicago Style Pizza
Tuesday-Puerto Rican Food
Wednesday-Puerto Rican Food
Thursday-TURKEY Thanksgiving #1
Friday-Leftover Turkey
Saturday-TURKEY...Thanksgiving #2

Really, that's what we're having.  Fortunately I will not be dishin' up any of these meals.  I mean who wants the white chic cooking up the Puerto Rican food?  Not me.  I'll leave that to the experts.  And the Chicago Style Pizza...yumm-o!  Hopefully I can throw down at least one whole piece.  Let's be real, I'll probably throw down the entire pizza.  Just be ready for some weight loss tips and menus filled with lettuce next week.  I will be large and in charge after consuming so many calories.

Just a little side note, Torres Tidbits will be on a vacation this week.  No more posts until next week.  Don't cry.  Oh, they're tears of joy?  Well in that case, I unfriend you.  Oh, this isn't facebook?  Ummm....I'm stumped.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Texting has ruined our universe.  Ruined it.  The written word will never be the same.  Take writing projects for example.  In fourth grade I had multiple students sit down for the first draft conference and most of their paper was written in texting form.  Say what?!?  Yes, texting form.  Heck, I remember the days when the kids asked if they were supposed to write in cursive.  Now it's, "Do I have to write out the word, or can I use the number?"  What has this world come to??? 

Since we all know I was such a phenomenal teacher.  And when I say phenomenal, I mean rock star.  And when I say rock star, I mean rock star royalty.  Kind of like Madonna.  Frankly, I was so good I should have had just one name.  Torres.  None of that Mrs. Torres stuff.  Sorry.  I just had to reminisce how wonderful I was.  It makes me feel better about wiping my kids' bums all day long.

Back to being phenomenal...

Since I was, you know, phenomenal, I decided to do a lesson on decoding my texting.  I wrote a paragraph on the white board in texting form, and then they had to rewrite the paragraph in the correct form.  One of the more genius ideas I've had.  Here's an example of the assignment...

1 day i was walking down the hall @ skool i slipped on a banana peel & fell down i was layin on the floor trying 2 get up when my bff walked by she helped me up & then walked awy  i was lik what she didnt evn say nething 2 me she just walked off mayb shes mad mayb shes not but idk what 2 thnk mayb ill just b mad 2 lol

The kids were so frustrated trying to figure out what I was trying to say.  Figuring out the correct punctuation alone would have been enough, but decoding the 'words' was over the edge. To make matters worse I told them it was for a grade (because I was that nice).  Then we graded it in class.  Most received an "F".  Then I told them I'd cut them a deal.  If they stopped writing their writing projects and assignments in texting form, then I'd graciously throw this assignment in the trash.  They accepted.  I won.  Again, I was a phenomenal teacher!  Conniving, but phenomenal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You very well may throw up in your mouth after reading this.  Just know there is a caution attached to this post.  So CAUTION...Grody picture ahead...GA-RO-DEE!

The picture is completely out of focus, but you get the point.  This is what was swept up after lunch at my house.  In fact, this picture reflects any given day after any give meal.  You could feed a small country with the daily leftovers on the floor.  For this reason alone, I will never have an area rug under my table.  Ever.  Never ever.  Well, not until I've taught these children how to eat like children and not like wolves.  So basically, I will purchase a fancy area rug to go along with that white couch when the kids go off to college.  Then again, their father will still live at home.  Scratch the white couch...and fancy area rug.  It's a hopeless cause.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Few Minutes

We are getting ready to embark on a loooonnnnngggg car ride together as a family.  We've done it once before when Little Miss was 7 months old.  It went well, but it's such a loooooonnnnnngggg time in the car.  I mean loooonnnnnngggg.  I'm trying to keep my mind off how long the car ride will be so I decided to plan our spending while we're in Chicago.  We've saved for a few months so we're able to take the kids to The Field Museum and Children's Museum at Navy Pier, but you all know I love to save $$$.

With a few minutes time, I checked free admission days to both museums.  Too bad they aren't for the days we'll be there, but I did find a coupon for the Children's Museum and a discount for teachers at the Field Museum.  Technically, I'm still under contract with the former school system I worked for so I still have a current teacher badge. 

Then I planned where we were going to eat while in Chi-Town.  Since Chicago is a HUGE city, they have a plethora of restaurants that put out printable coupons.  A quick search at Retail Me Not helped me print out quite a few choices for the Lakeshore Drive area. 

We also have some 'regular' stops we make on the drive.  All of them artery clogging establishments.  I'll pay for it later, but we can't break tradition.  Going directly to the websites of our 'regular' places led me to even more coupons.  I now have my envelope of cash and an envelope of coupons to take on the road with us.  I'm hoping to come back with some leftover cash to stash in savings.  We'll see!!!

If you're making a trip over the Holidays, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg doing the fun stuff or eating out.  A few minutes preparing for your trip can allow you to save quite a bit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where Did We Go Wrong???

We want our kids to appreciate what they have been given.  I think everyone does.  So when you continually hear your four year old say, "I wanna get that sometime," you start to wonder where you went wrong.  It's not wrong for him to ask for things he wants.  We want him to ask, but we don't want him to ask about everything in sight, and then pout when he doesn't get what he wants.  So I decided we should focus on buying something for a child who is not as privileged as Little Man. 

With Christmas around the corner Samaritan's Purse has already started Operation Christmas Child.  I thought this would be perfect for Little Man to get involved in giving to others.  At first, I thought it was a lost cause.  Shopping at the store, he started wandering down the boy aisle searching for the toys he wanted.   Frustrating.  He whined that he didn't want to buy toys for a little girl his age.  Frustrating.  How in the world did I raise and ungrateful child???  I kept on.  Asking Little Man what he wanted to purchase for our Christmas Child.  Eventually, he decided on art supplies.  A sharp left onto art supply aisle.  Yes!  He's starting to get it.  That's when Little Miss started up.  She noticed the little Cinderella figurine in the cart.  "Rella, Rella.  I want Rella."  I couldn't catch a break!  Frustrating. 

Standing in line to pay for the items, both the kids had settled down and I look over to Little Man who is touching the items on the belt.  He looks at me and says, "I think she's really gonna like this Mommy.  I think she's gonna like it 'cause I like it."  I almost cried.  He got it.  Then I glanced over at Little Miss.  She was picking her nose.  She didn't get it.  One out of two's not bad.  I'll take what I can get.

Later on in the evening, we wrapped the box and packed it full.  Both Little Miss and Little Man were making a gigantic mess out of the wrapping paper and tape helpers.  The wrapping job could have gone a lot faster had I done it after they'd gone to bed, but I wanted them to be apart of the whole process.  I want them to know that giving is one of the best feelings they will experience in their life.  So tomorrow we will head off to a drop off location and send our package on its way to a precious child somewhere in this world. 

{Showing off their purchase}

{The final package}

If you are interested in participating in Operation Christmas Child, it's not too late.  This week is the week to drop off your box at the designated locations. If you don't have time to get the goodies, you can always donate $7 or more to help pay for the shipping costs of all these boxes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Monday

It's officially the week before Thanksgiving, and we will begin our 600 mile journey to visit family on Saturday.  Early Saturday.  Steven has decided we need to be on the road at 3:00am.  I think he forgot we have two young kids...and that I enjoy sleep.  Actually, I need sleep.  He may regret taking me on this Thanksgiving journey.  That or decide to depart from Chicago at a normal time.  We will see.  Until then, here's the menu for this week...

Monday-Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken, Pepperoni Pasta Salad, and Cheesy Biscuits
Tuesday-Chicken Club Salad with Honey Bread
Wednesday-Minestrone Soup, Italian Cheesy Bread, and Olive Garden Style Salad
Thursday-Chicken with Garlic and Tomatoes, Green Bean Casserole , and The Bread
Friday-Leftovers...I'll be too busy packing the family and going to bed at 4pm for that early rise Saturday morning.  I'm sure you'll think about me as you sleep in on Saturday morning.  All snug in your bed while I'm roughing it with the traveling version of Hitler in the car.  Go ahead, say a prayer for me.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Because I have absolutely nothing to write about pertaining to one particular subject, you will receive a bunch of random things floating around in my head this morning.  Read at your own risk.  You very well may be stupider after reading this.  Not just stupider, but more stupider.

  1. Using 'stupider' is actually bugging me.  It's not correct grammar.
  2. I sure hope my former students would be able to recognize it's wrong.
  3. My former students are off school today.  I know because they have a lot of posts of facebook today.  I think some of them forget they have their teacher as a friend because the use of the "F" bomb is astronomical.
  4. I told those stinkers that using cuss words show a lack of vocabulary.  I guess they got stupider.
  5. My left thumb hurts something fierce.
  6. A very large 10 year old...and when I say large, I mean out weighing me by 50 lbs...slaughtered it at gymnastics last night.
  7. Note to self...move hand before gigantic legs curl up in a back handspring thus smashing the thumb.
  8. That could be the very reason why I've asked her to keep her legs STRAIGHT.
  9. I think she gets it now.
  10. I HOPE she gets it now.
  11. I can see the dust on my furniture. 
  12. It's disgusting.
  13. I need to dust, but I am instead making a random list.
  14. I also have unmade beds and laundry awaiting me.  Yuck.
  15. Honestly, I have a toothbrush that is awaiting me as well.  Good thing you can't smell through a computer.
  16. Little Man and Little Miss are coloring with markers.
  17. Little Miss just got purple marker on her thumb.  She hates that she's messy.
  18. She is now done.
  19. I'm afraid I've passed on a very disastrous gene. 
  20. So disastrous, I going to stop my random list.  If I don't, I'll have to continue to #25 or #30 because I must stop on a number ending in 5 or 0.  I told you it was a disastrous gene.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Most Prized Jars

When we moved from our little house to our big house it was like Christmas.  Since our little house was approximately 1200 sq ft, we had little room for extras.  Simply put, our attic was crammed with items given to us when we were married that could not be squeezed into the house.  Most of the items were for the kitchen that my Grandma had passed down to me.  When we moved into our new house and I opened the boxes that had been stored for 7 years, I cried.  Not really, but I was excited.  Inside one of the boxes was a group of original Mason Jars.  I had not a clue they were tucked away all those years. If I had, I certainly would have found a space for them in the old house.  Granted it would have probably been in the living room since the kitchen was busting at the seams, but STILL...

Anyway, I have since cleaned them out and filled them with my baking staples.  It makes baking all the more sweet to open my pantry, reach in, and pull out a Mason Jar with the patent date of 1858.  Love it.  Absolutely love it.  And since I love it, you'll love it least indulge me in my craziness.  Yes, that's probably what you'll do.  I'm quite certain there is no one else who would 'share' about their Mason Jars, but if you did I would come rejoice with you.  Totally.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Party and the Day

It's been hard.  Having a four year old and all.  Not hard because of him, but hard that he's getting older.  Do you people realize he starts school in August?  AUGUST!  That's only nine months away.  I can't even fathom the thought of spending 1/2 a day away from him, and that's exactly what's going to happen.  I do not like this gettign older stuff.  Not one bit.  I guess for now we'll just enjoy our time together and forget about the future.  The future that will not include me for his every waking moment.

Saturday was Little Man's actual birthday and we had his actual party on that day too.  He pretty much had a four year old fun filled day.  Little Man woke up to his presents.  Bed head and all.  Have I mentioned that I love this guy?  I do.  I love him to pieces.

After he had some time to dig into that Play-Doh, we loaded up an headed to an old donut shop on our local Main St. The entire family definitely ate their fill of donuts.  Definitely.  Then we went to a children's museum in a neighboring city.  It wasn't as clean as I would have liked, but the kids had a blast.  I had a blast with the hand sanitizer afterwards.  If that wasn't enough, we still had an evening party.  Here's a glimpse of the party...

He had a great day, and Steven and I would like to thank those of you who were able to come to Little Man's party.  You helped make his day all the more special!