Monday, May 31, 2010

Fish Tacos

6 tilapia filet
2 cups italian bread crumbs
4 Tbsp butter (or 1egg)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Ranch dressing or to taste
10-15 flour tortillas

Additional Taco Toppings:
diced tomato & onion
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese

  • Melt butter in a shallow dish that is large enough to dip in tilapia filets . 
  • In another shallow dish, pour in bread crumb seasoning.
  • Heat olive oil in a non-stick electric skillet or pan.
  • Dip tilapia in melted butter first (coating both sides well), and then in the bread crumb seasoning (coating both sides well).
  • Place into the heated oil for 5-7 minutes per side.  It does not take long for fish to cook through, but you want to wait until the bread crumb coating is a nice golden brown color.  Avoid flipping tilapia more than once.  It will disturb the crumb coating, and look disgusting.  And frankly, who wants to eat food that looks disgusting?
  • Remove from skillet or pan when both sides are that pretty golden brown color.  Cut fish into 1/2 inch strips.  Avoid handling the fish too much, or it will flake out on you.  Anybody like a flake?
  • Serve on warm flour tortillas with the above listed toppings.  Don't forget to pour on the Ranch.  That's the spark that have you saying, "Mo' pease!"  You know, like 'more please', only your mouth is full.
Happy Cooking!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Bored

The Summer Reading Program in my area has already kicked off.  It's always a good idea to enroll your kids early in the summer for many reasons.  Here goes my list...
  1. Your child's future teacher will thank you for it.  Nearly 3 months of no reading sets your child back further than you think.  Reading is a skill that needs to be maintained.  Your child may be reluctant at first, but help them find the right book.  It's not hard, but will take some work on your part.  You might have to actually pre-read books, or ask the librarian their favorites. 
  2. You get a free coupon booklet of things to do for the summer.  What kids doesn't want a free ice cream cone, free Happy Meal, free bowling, or free pass to the zoo?
  3. Your child will have something to do. Reading cures the 'I'm Bored!' disease.
  4. Your child will get a prize at the end!!!
Reading was one of my favorite subjects to teach.  I also loved teaching Writing...and Math...and Social Studies...and Science...okay, so I just loved to teach.  If your child really, really cannot find a genre of literature they like, send me an email and I will help you out.  Matching a kid up with a good series of books is my specialty.  I love it!  Nothing is more rewarding than finding a kid who loathes reading, and changing their mind after reading one good book.

Here are some of my favorites that are on a fourth and fifth grade level, and were always HUGE hits in my classroom...

Next week, I'll post more good reads for younger readers and older readers.
Just remember, there's always a good book out there!
Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm Expecting!!!

...tomatoes and peppers that is!  Gotcha!  Okay, I realize that's probably not funny to you, but I'm still laughing.  Take a look at these beauts...
{My adorably cute cherokee purple tomato}

{The radically radiant roma tomato}

{The perfectly perfected peppers}

My FIL and husband have been making fun of me for quite some time now.  Each time it storms, I move them to a quite non-destructible location, and reassure them that the storm will pass.  Even if the wind blows too hard, I shelter them, and love them, and kiss them.  They are my babies.  I'm fairly certain once the FIL and hubby get a taste of my first fruits, they won't be laughing anymore.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chalk Car Track

Little Man l-o-v-e-s playing with cars. Playing cars inside.  Playing cars outside.  Playing cars in the bathtub. Playing cars at church.  Playing cars at dinner. Playing cars in the car.  He even sleeps with cars on some nights. 

Yesterday, we were playing cars outside and we decided we needed our own car city.  So we pulled out the chalk and made one.  Little Man was glued to the thing for a straight hour.  Running his cars up and down the street from parking lot to parking lot.  So focused!

{Chalk Track}

{All the cars safe in their space}

You may be wondering what on Earth the Little Miss and Chunky Monkey were doing all this time Little Man was playing.  Well, they weren't too excited with the Chalk Track, but they did have their part in making this a successful playtime.  I think they filled their positions well.

Chunk Monkey, the Chalk Track Observer. 
His main job is to make sure there are no traffic violations. 
He did a good job.

Little Miss, the Chalk Organizer.
Her main job was to make sure each piece was stored neatly in the box.
She did a good job.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Organizing Recipes

If you've got yourself a good stash of recipes, you might be wondering what to do with them.  My old method was to throw them in a drawer store them ever so neatly in a drawer.  That method didn't work out too well.  You see, the pile grew and grew and grew.  I became afraid to open The Drawer.  So I didn't.  Unless there was a new recipe I wanted to add to The Drawer.  You see it's this vicious cycle that left me using the same old, same old recipes week after week.  All because of my fear.

Thank goodness for mothers though.  She saved me.  After having dinner at her house one night, I began to confess my habitual 'recipe drawer stuffing'.  It was difficult to share, but it needed to be done.  She cried with me, and reassured me that there was hope for The Drawer.  She walked over to her pantry and pulled out a binder that changed my life.  I pretty sure I heard angels singing when the binder opened and I saw all of her beautiful recipes stored neatly in sections.  There was hope for me.  I could do this.  I drove my sorry butt to Walmart and purchased a binder along with sheet protectors. 

I worked tirelessly for 3 straight hours tearing up cooking magazines, straightening out crumpled papers, and wiping off food splatters.  I was weary, but I pressed on.  Keeping on until every section was complete and every recipe protected.  When I was finished, I cried.  My nightmares were over.  No more repeat cooking.  No more scary drawer.  No more messy recipes.  Just a beautifully organized binder...

{Binder in the Main Dish section}

{Example of Section Tab}

I hope this post brings you a ray of hope; a beacon of light shining unto your dark drawer of recipes.

Happy Organizing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tight Budget?

Before becoming a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), it was really difficult to see how we would live off one income.  I've always been a pretty frugal person, so cutting out even more money from our budget was incomprehensible at the time.  However, we sat down and wrote out all of our expenses and credits.  Most people get to this point and stop.  I have to admit, I was one of those people.  But, I also had a strong desire to be home with the kids.  I labored over that piece of paper, and then I began doing.  What exactly you ask?  Well, I did this...

  • Couponing - I looked at our monthly expenditures on food, home, and tolietry purchases.  This included groceries and eating out.  Very quickly I noticed how much was going out to restaurants.  Ten dollars here, twenty dollars added up.  We decided that once a week, we would eat out.  Then, I looked at our grocery bill.  It was around $550-600/month.  It seemed natural to me that I could work this one down.  At first, I took baby steps.  The first month I tried couponing, I wanted to shave $50/month off my bill.  That averaged out to a little more than $12/week.  Once I mastered that, then I upped it to saving $100/month and so on.
  • Reducing- I looked at how much money was going out on service type expenses (i.e. cell phone, cable, internet services.  Steven and I went through and decided what wasn't used very often.  Come to find out, we had a ton of movie channels we never watched.  I used to rationalize that it was only $10/month, so it was worth it.  Well, you know what? I wouldn't just take a ten dollar bill and throw it away every month, so out it went.  So did some other non-necessities. 
  • Bargaining- We weren't willing to completely get rid of cable and some services on our phones, so I called the companies to bargain.  I figured we were long time, good standing customers.  It worked.  Promos that were being offered to new customers, suddenly were available to us.  I just had to call and ask what they could do for me (being nice helped).
What are some steps you take to save $$$?  I'm always looking for some new ones ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Husband Bragging

Many of you read previously of my goal to run a half marathon this year.  Originally, I was going to run one on May 15th, but I didn't push myself or train as well as I needed to in order to complete the race.  I want to be able to run it start to finish without stopping (no walking). 

Steven, however, did complete the race.  Not only did he complete his first half marathon, but he placed 69th out of 588 runners, ran an 8:08 pace, and placed 11th in his age group.  I cannot tell you how proud the kids and I were to see him cross the finish line.  He finished super strong.  The man looked like he was completing a little one mile fun run.  Seriously.  Not kidding.  Just check out these pics from the end of the race.  He was about 50 yards from the finish line.

If any of you know Steven personally, you know he is super competitive.  When he looked at the results he saw that he could have made the Top 10 in his age group had he kicked it up by 42 seconds.  He was mad the rest of the evening.  I found it beyond amusing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Miss' Addiction

It's true.  Little Miss has an addiction, and she's not even two.  We've tried a 12 Step Program, but have been unsuccessful.  At this point we're not sure what to do, so she continues.  Here it goes.  I'm about to share it with the world.  Brace yourself...

Little Miss is addicted to her belly-button.  We can no longer put her in onesies or rompers.  She flips out.  She has to readily have access to her belly-button 24/7.  My mom seems to think it's her way of knowing she was connected to me, because if you know anything about Little Miss you know she is my personal accessory.  Meaning she is attached to me almost 24/7.  So I guess she has two and her belly-button.  Geez!  I'm now seeking therapy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God Made Daddies...

...because Mommies would NEVER take their precious baby boy on a motorcycle ride around the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Say What?

This story does not come from my classroom, but courtesy of the learning disability teacher at my former school.  This story had the lounge rolling for the entire lunch period. 

As the kids were filing in to Mrs. L's class, one boy is particularly excited.

"Mrs. L, Mrs. L., I'm going to be rich!!!"

"You are?"

"Yep.  My mom is going to marry a doctor."

"Wow, that's exciting.  I didn't know your mom had a new boyfriend."

"She doesn't.  It's still the same guy."

"Well isn't she dating Jimmy's dad?"

Jimmy pipes up, "Yes, they're still dating."

Johnny turns to Jimmy, "Tell Mrs. L, Jimmy.  You're dad's a doctor."

Jimmy turns to Mrs. L, "He's sorta a doctor.  He's the Glass Doctor."

Mrs. L had to go on to explain to poor Johnny that he was not going to be rich.  Jimmy's dad works for a company called Glass Doctor.  They repair glass like a doctor repairs humans. 

Needless to say, Johnny was bummed for the rest of class.  He had already started working on his Christmas List.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Broiled Fish and Roasted Peppers

Here's a delicious meal that won't break your caloric bank!

Roasted Peppers
{Before broiler}

1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup (or less) of Italian Dressing
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

  • Put peppers and onions in a large oven safe dish or pan. 

  • Drizzle on Italian dressing, and mix peppers/onions well in the dressing.

  • Broil for 5-7 minutes. Stir. Broil 5-7 minutes longer

  • Remove from oven, and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.Broil for 3 minutes longer.
Broiled Tilapia and/or Salmon

8 filets of tilapia or salmon (or both)
4 Tbsp of 6 pepper seasoning (found with marinades)
1 lime, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Mayo
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle

  • Place fish on a greased pan. 

  • Sprinkle each piece generously with pepper seasoning.

  • Slice lime (you can use lemon too), and place on top of each filet.

  • Broil for 7-10 minutes.

  • While fish is boiling, mix mayo and Italian dressing in a small bowl.

  • Remove lime slices from filets, and baste each one with mayo/dressing mixture.

  • Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.

  • Broil for 3-5 minutes longer, or until basting mix begins to bubble and turn brown.
{Before broiler}

{Finished Meal}

Now, I'm sure you're probably thinking, "Wow.  What a super healthy meal."  You are right.  It's healthy and delicious, and it probably makes you feel bad about what you ate last night.  You should feel bad.  I ate a deliciously healthy meal, and to top it off I went for an after dinner run.  Yep, I'm healthy...

OH STINK!  How did this photo get on here?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Better Than a Security System

A long time ago our church did a video clip of a family who wrote scriptures on the frame of their house while it was being built.  Steven and I decided when it came time for us to build a home, we wanted to do the same thing.  We poured over many different scriptures, and found the right fits for each room.  It's hard to pick my absolute favorite, but one of the most powerful scriptures that offers protection over our home is Psalm 91:5-7.  It says:

"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you."

This scripture is more powerful than any alarm system we could ever install in our home.  Speaking, praying, and believing God's Word is the best protection you could ever offer your family.  No matter where we are,  no matter what comes our way, we will stand on God's Word and not waiver.  It has never failed us, and will never fail us.  Never.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She Did It!

My sister-in-law got this wild hair and decided to get her Masters Degree in Organizational Dynamics.  When she started the program she was just a wife, but shortly after she found out she was going to be a mom.  She stayed with the program.  In fact, 5 days after having a C-Section she went to her final class and gave a presentation.  Needless to say, she made lots of sacrifices to get to where she is today.  The good news is she is now a GRADUATE!  Congrats, Lindz!

The girls at the pre-graduation party.

Daddy and Chunky Monkey all matchy-matchy.

All the boys I love.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Excites Me Most

My own sink, and his own sink.  I don't have to look at shaving cream splatters, and he doesn't have to find long blonde hairs in his sink. 

A kitchen that overlooks the living room.

A laundry ROOM.  Not a laundry closet like I had before.  An honest to goodness room complete with cabinetry, closet, and folding table.  A room all on its own.  A room where I can close the door and not open it for an entire day, because you don't have to walk through it to get to the garage.  Can you tell this room excites me most?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Heartwarmer

If you have ever been in an elementary school for any period of time you know two things.  One, kids come in from recess and need a thousand things...I have to go to the bathroom...So and so kicked the soccer ball over the fence..My knee hurts...Can I go to the nurse...She looked at me...etc, etc, etc.  And two, they smell like wet dog.  Just a fact.  Not really pertinent to the story, but information you need to know.

On this particular day all of the above happened, except for one boisterous voice that needed to be heard.  The difference was this voice was not speaking to have his needs met, but to let out something he witnessed.  Something that bothered him.  Really bothered him.  Okay.  I'm listening, Dalton.  Go ahead.

"Mrs. Torres, Janie (not her real name) invited everyone in her class to her birthday party on Saturday.  Everyone is making fun of her because she did, and they decided to tell her that they would come, but not show up."

Now let me stop right here and share a few things.  Little Janie was an outcast.  She had one friend, and that one friend moved in the middle of the year.  Her family was really, really poor.  I mean really poor.  She only wore dresses, and the dresses she had were hand-me-downs from ages ago.  In good condition, but WAY out of fashion.  For her to invite her whole class (with handmade invitations) to her birthday party was a big deal.  Okay, back to the story...

"Dalton, I'm glad that something like this bothers you.  It shows you care."

"Anyone else hear about this?" (the whole class raised their hands)

"Okay.  What can we do to make this better for Little Janie?"

Lots of different answers came about, and we discussed each one in depth.  Most solutions came from the girls who decided to ask her to play with them more, and show interest in the things she liked doing.

I was pretty pleased with their solutions, but noticed Dalton hadn't said much.  He just said he was going to do something.  I kind of wondered what that something was, but didn't probe too much.  He was deep in thought.  We moved on.

That was on a Friday.  I came home and shared the story with Steven, but other than that I didn't let the situation consume me too much, and decided to check on Little Janie first thing Monday morning.

Monday morning came, and Little Janie was no where to be found, but I did run smack into Dalton.

"Mrs. Torres, have you seen Janie this morning?"

"No, Dalton I haven't.  That's just who I was looking for.  If I find her, I'll tell her you were looking for her."

As Dalton turned to walk away, I saw he had a large gift sack in his hand.  Complete with a card and tissue paper.  Man, the tears started welling up in my eyes.   I knew why he was searching for Little Janie.

Turns out he never found her that morning, and it was a good thing, because it all came down to perfect timing.  Since he didn't see her before class, he decided to take the gift to lunch.  He knew he'd see her there along with the rest of her class.  After washing his hands, he walks straight over to her, hands her the gift, and says, "I know I didn't get invited to your party, but I wanted to give you this."

That girl was beaming!  I mean ear to ear smiling.  It was a beautiful moment.  She opened the gift and found a new purse with some girly things inside.  Dalton had hand picked it out, and spent his own money to buy it.  The rest of the kids (who had been a bunch of meany pants to her) just sat there and stared.  The best part about it was they wouldn't make fun of Dalton for giving her a gift.  They were all friends with him.  The girls wanted to go out with him, and the boys knew he could beat them up.  It was a beautiful, beautiful moment.  Moments that make you thankful for teaching.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

I can eat store bought pasta salad.  I'd really prefer not to, but I can.  It's like store bought cookies.  They're okay.  In case of a 'Sure I'll bring dessert, but then you forget' moment, they'll do, but the real thing is much better.  So much better.  All that gooey dough warm from the oven.  Melted chocolate chips.  Mmmmmmm...

Take a moment.  Visualize the cookie.  Enjoy the cookie.

WAIT A MINUTE!  This post is about Pasta Salad.  See how easily distracted I get...

There a lots of different versions of pasta salad, but this is one of my favorites for two reasons.  Yep, you guessed it.  It's easy and delicious!

Here you go...

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

1 box spiral noodles
1 small jar of sliced olives
1 med red or green pepper chopped
1 small red onion chopped
1/2 cucumber quartered
1/2 package of pepperoni quartered
1 cup (or more) of Italian dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cook noodles according to package directions.
  • While noodles are cooking.  Chop up those veggies, pepperoni, and drain/rinse the olives.
  • After noodles are soft, drain and rinse with cold water.  Dump into a large bowl with a lid.
  • Add veggies, pepperoni, and olives to noodles.  Mix well.
  • Pour dressing and Parmesan over the top.  Put the lid on the bowl and shake it like crazy.  Go ahead, get out all of your frustration from the day...or do a dance...or just shake it...whatever.
  • Taste it.  Savor it.  What?  It needs more dressing.  Pour it on.  Shake it up.  Taste it again. Repeat if necessary.  Just don't 'taste test' the whole bowl.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Great Deals Shopping List

Here are the deals that I snagged this week...


Transaction #1:

Nivea Women's Body Wash  2 @ $5.29
     use -$4 and -$1 coupon from inserts
Nivea Men's Body Wash 1 @ $5.29
     use -$1 coupon from inserts

*Spend $15 on Nivea products and get $5 in RR.
  (RR=Register Rewards are coupons you can use towards anything in the store on your next purchase)

U Tampons 2 for $7
     use 2 -$1 coupons (Smart Source insert 4/18)

*Buy 2 U Tampax products get $3 in RR

Pert Plus Shampoo for Men $1.99
     use -$1 coupon from a peeler on bottle

Bic Flex 4 Razor 3 @ $3.99 each
     use 3 -$3 coupons (Smart Source insert 4/18)

Kellogg's Cereal 2 @ 2/$5
     use -$1.50 printable coupon from redplum

*Buy 2 Kellogg's cereals get $2 RR

Out of Pocket Expense= about $22, PLUS $10 RR

Transaction #2:

Clear Care Contact Solution about $9
     I have not a one coupon for this, but I have to have it...

Pick up my FREE 8x10 Photo Collage
    Make one at and when you check out
    enter code GOODTHOUGHTS.  Pick it up in stores
    and it's FREE!

A small bag of M&M's
     I have 3 RR coupons to use.  Walgreen's has a coupon
     policy that you must have at least one item for every
     coupon.  So, since I have 3 RR coupons, I need 3 items,
     and a great excuse to get some M&M's.

Out of Pocket Expense=FREE!!!


5 trial size Dove Deoderants $1/each
     use 4 -$2 printable coupons from
     use 1 -$1.50 coupon from Dove
     *Target's coupon policy states that if you have a coupon over the amount of the item, they will accept the coupon, but drop the value down to the item's price.

2 Travel size Nexcare Bandaids  @ $1 each
     use -$1 any Nexcare product coupon from

3 Cottonelle Flush Wipes @  $2.29 each
     use 3/ -$1 Cottonelle Flush Wipes Target coupons found here
     use 3/-$.50 coupon (SS 4/18)
     *on the Target coupon it says you can only use one coupon per transaction. 
       So you will have to do multiple transactions.  Unless you get a checker like
       I did who didn't want to do that so he just put them through anyway.

Out of Pocket Expense=$2.40

Not too bad to spend to spend around $25, saving $50, and getting the following:

3 body washes
2 boxes of Tampons
1 bottle of shampoo
3 razors
2 boxes of cereal
1 box of contact solution
1 bag of M&M's
5 trial sizes of deoderant
2 travel sizes of band-aids
3 flushable wipes

Happy Couponing!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Peas in a Pod

They like to suck their thumbs.
They like their blankies.
They like each other.
They like cartoons.
I like them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm not the handy-ess person in the world, but I do like nice things for cheaper than retail.  Hello!  I coupon.  So when I was talking with a girl at a birthday party about a kid picnic table she built, she mentioned a website called Knock-Off Wood.  I am in loooooove!

I have enlisted my FIL for some serious help in building some items for our new house (remember he built me this for my birthday).  I hope to one day share those with you, but that depends on the FIL's schedule.  He is one busy man.  Unless, the hubbie wants to help...which he doesn't...he thinks I'm crazy.  But my question is...what does that make him?  He married me by choice.  I'm not crazy by choice.  Get my point?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Potato Toss

{Picture via Southern Living}

We recently had dinner with some great people, Kendall and Jaime.  Jaime made some delicious, delicious ribs, corn on the cob, and a spring potato toss.  It was all so fabulous!  She sent me the recipe the other day via Southern Living, and I made it for our family.  It was such a hit, I had to post it on here.  Such a refreshing, yummy side dish for Spring!

There is one little thing you might need to know, and that's the amount of ingredients you use for the red potatoes, lemon juice, pesto, peas, and bacon.  Here's what I did...

5 red potatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp of lemon juice
8 oz of pesto
12 oz frozen peas, cooked (I know it says fresh)
5 strips of bacon

It turned out wonderful!

Happy Cooking!