Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday and a Goodbye

Chunky Monkey is two today.  TWO!   I just can't believe it.  My babies, and my nephew are growing too fast. Way too fast.  We'll be celebrating Chunky Monkey today by adding his name to the #2 birthday decoration. Yes, it's still up in my house.  After six hours of work, I just can't bring myself to throw it away.  It very well might be moved into Little Miss' room as a permanent decoration. 

Back to Chunky Monkey...Since he's apart of this family, he'll get the same crazy birthday singing at every meal complete with two candles.  I can't get enough of him.  He's amazing and funny and passionate and chunky.  I love him. Seriously, how could you NOT love this...
{Chunky Monkey's mascara artwork}

Now it's time to say goodbye.  Tomorrow is my 15K race.  9.3 miles.  The end of the race is Satan's Blvd times two.  An incline that I know I can run up, but I won't make promises if I will survive or not.  So this is goodbye.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll be back on Monday for Menu Monday.  In case I'm not, you can find awesome recipes here and here.  I love you all dearly!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Piece

For those of you who have been to my house, you know my living room is bare.  Of course you would never say anything, because that would be rude. I don't have rude friends, but come on.  You know you've thought it.  Well, Steven got his new toys for the living room.  A movie screen tv mounted above the fireplace complete with his surround sound that drives me nuts. It's entirely too loud all of the time.  I'm thinking of returning it because from what I know there are only two noise and blaring.  I prefer off, but guess who prefers blaring?

I can't complain too much.  He's happy, and I'm happy a little.  I can now pick out my 'toys' for the living room.  Since he has his set up complete, I can now work around it.  Of course the furniture had to be rearranged so The Chair is the direct view of The Screen.  Once that happened I could see what I wanted and where I wanted it.

So this is the start.  My shelf.  I especially love all the little trinkets.  I really fond on one piece in particular.  I'm sure you'll be able to find it immediately, and NO, it is not my coupon binder and/or recipe binder!
It's a lovely piece, isn't it?  Truly, one of a kind. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Things Pumpkins

We have not made it to a pumpkin patch this year, and I don't think we're going to make it.  Instead we did some pumpkin things at home, like carving our first family pumpkin and roasting it's seeds.  I can't really say that the kids helped with the carving of the pumpkin.  Little Man only wanted to pull out the seeds one by one.  Since it was already evening time, we decided to reach in and get down to the nitty gritty.  We wanted the job done before Halloween. 

Little Miss' only contribution was informing us that what we were doing was, "Ewwweeee."  Typical girl!  However, Steven enjoyed the carving process.  He had never, in his entire life, carved a pumpkin.  Ever.  I couldn't believe it.  He did a great job for his first one.  It was a great Torres Family moment.  Since we're a super competitive family, we now have a starting point in which to make our pumpkins better and better.

I had remembered eating roasted pumpkin seeds as a kid and being completely disgusted.  So, I went to Tasty Kitchen to do a little pumpkin seed roasting research.  I found this recipe.  It was simple.  I kept my oven temperature at 200 degrees to preserve more of the nutrients in the seeds.

I give these seeds two thumbs up.  The seeds came out crispy and flavorful.  Little Miss even approved (Little Man didn't like them).  I was st-st-st-stoked.  Another item to add to her little menu of healthy options.  Too bad pumpkins aren't year round.

Happy Cooking!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mini Vacay!

Branson, MO.  Outlet shopping.  Silver Dollar City.  Big Cedar Lodge.  Need I say more?  We had a blast!  We were only there for 3 days, but we crammed in as much fun as possible.  Not to mention we succeeded in completely tiring out a 2 year old and two 3 year olds.  Yep, the adults outlasted the kids.  That's a huge accomplishment. 

Our first evening in Branson allowed for some shopping.  I'd like to say it was a marathon shopathon, but it only lasted a brief hour and a half.  Not nearly enough time, but 3 hungry kids won out against Jackie and I.  Luckily, there was a little 50's diner across the way to grab some grub and listen to some live singing from the wait staff.  Step outside and suddenly you're in Santa's Village...with a real Santa walking around.  A creepy Santa, but nonetheless Santa.  Many things I got to check off my Bucket List that first night...Eat artery clogging food...check.  Listen to a singing waitress...check.  Dine with the Gray Hairs...check.  Watch my children get creeped out by Santa telling them to be good...check.   All in a days time.  I can die a happy woman now.

Of course sleep happened, but it was very little because we wanted to hit up Silver Dollar City.  Love, love, love SDC. Did I say I love it?  I do.  Whole-heartedly love SDC.  Apparently half of America loves it too.  At least they did when we arrived on Friday.  It was p-p-p-p-packed!  We stayed until they closed the place down, and then drug our kids to the Bass Pro restaraunt at Branson Landing.  Closed that place down too.  Thankfully though we were able to leave a souvenier there.  Jackie's flip-flop had taken a beating walking up and down the Hills of the Ozarks.  It finally gave up to all the abuse and torture and broke for good.  So she left it under the table and walked out.  She's a real woman I tell ya.

Since we felt the kids didn't need sleep, we woke them up early the next morning (after an extremely late bedtime) and drug them back to SDC.  The boys rode rides until the cows came home.  As for Little Miss, she rode some rides, but she just couldn't hang.  Sleep overtook her in the stroller.  Not even the loudest train on Earth could wake her up.  Literally speaking...the loudest train 'toot' I ever heard didn't even get her to wake. 

All in all, we had a great time.  The best time.  Mainly because it's great memories being made with some great friends.  We are so blessed!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Monday

Whew!  Why do vacations make you so tired?  I am pooped.  Plum pooped.  However, we had a wonderful time in Branson, MO.  I think I ate everything you are not supposed to eat plus more.  A lot more.  It was an ungodly amount of food, but worth every artery clog and calorie.  I'll be paying for it later. sure to check out the details of the trip tomorrow.  There will be more details than you ever wanted to know.  On second thought, maybe you won't want to read tomorrow's post.  It will be ridiculous.  We will cover topics from gray hairs to a black flip-flop left under a table.  Interesting stuff people!  Until then, I'll leave you with what we will be consuming this week for dinner...

Monday-Taco Soup and Corn Casserole
Tuesday-Chicken Cacciatore and Homemade Cresents
Wednesday-Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast, Spinach Salad, Wheat Split Rolls (from leftover cresent dough)
Thursday-Sausage Balls, Eggs, Fresh Fruit and Toast
Friday-DATE NIGHT!!! (no excitement here)
Saturday-Broiled Tilapia, Club Salad, Honey Butter Bread
Sunday-Frito Chili Pie and CANDY...Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did You Know?

Wisp Clips
Wisp Clips is a small business that I started back in July.  Never did I imagine Wisp Clips would be as big as it is, but WOW!  I have some great customers.  If you are interested in Wisp Clip products, please visit Wisp Clips' facebook page and/or blog site.  You will be able to view photos of current products and be the first to know about monthly sales. 

Each bow or clip is handmade in a pet free/smoke free environment.  Christmas is just around the corner and Wisp Clips would be great stocking stuffers!  Babies, toddlers, pre-teens, and teenagers have all been recipients of Wisp Clips products.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Labors of Love

Little Miss gave me an uber quick, but super painful labor. Five hours from the onset of labor until the time she was born. It was a complete labor of love. I knew at the end of all the pain I would meet my little girl. It was worth it.

Fast forward two years, I had another labor of love moment. On numerous blog sites I had seen tissue paper decorations. I decided I would make a gigantic number '2' as her main decoration. It sounded like a wonderful the time. Six hours of work later, I finally finished. It took me longer to make that one decoration then it did to birth the stinkin' child. Yes, a complete lapse of sanity. We all know I'd do it again though. Maybe my elevator doesn't go all the way to the top. I take that back. I know my elevator goes to the top, but it must skip a couple of floors on the way up. That is the only way to explain why I would spend 6 hours on a decorative item. Since there is no way I will throw it away, it's up for grabs. After I shed tears from letting it go.

Now for the cake. I made it. Yes, I will now refer to myself as Betty Crocker. Amanda? Who's Amanda? My name is Betty. Betty Crocker. Truth be told, I invited over Jamie to offer moral support and guidance. She made this same cake for her daughter's 3rd birthday. She helped me get the icing to the right consistency and even threw on the dirty ice for me. Thank you Jamie!!! I really thought this cake would be the death of me, but it looks way harder than it is. It was actually fun putting it all together, and the kids loved eating all the colors.

Turth be told, I really do love making handmade items for my kids.  It adds that extra special touch that I like.  As for Little Miss, she didn't care.  She did love her presents though. She received lots of adorable clothes including a Cinderella costume. She looooooves Cinderella. And you know what? We really loooooove Little Miss!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Break :) ...No Menu Monday :(

It's Fall Break!  I never thought I'd be excited about Fall Break after I quit my job, but here I am at Fall Break, excited.  It's vacation time.  So maybe I'm just excited for a mini vacation that just happens to be over Fall Break.  Or maybe I'm excited that it's vacation time with these people...
Either way, it's going to be a fun trip!  Kueny's + Branson + My Family=Good Times

Don't forget you can click on the 'Labels' list over on the right side of the blog to locate the previous 13 menus. 

Happy Fall Break!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl!!!

My baby is TWO!  Excuse me a second...sniff, sniff...

Little Miss is two.  She's on the path to toddlerhood.  I don't like it.  At all.  Not one bit.  If I could keep her my little teeny weeny girl forever and ever, I would.  Potty trained, of course. 

Last night, Steven and I went through some of her pictures birth until now.  Can we say, "Baby fever"?  Yep, I got it.  She was so tiny in all the pictures, and now she's so...she's so...she's so...big.  Relatively speaking.  I don't think you can call a sopping wet 20 pounder big, but she's big to us.  A big girl. 

My little girl a day old...

 And at her first birthday party...
It was her party, she can cry if she wanted to.  And she did.  Apparently, you don't mess with Little Miss' balloon.

Stay tuned for her party pics.  Including a brief lapse of sanity on my part and a homemade rainbow cake.  This could turn out really great, or really comical.  I'm banking on great because I've called in the troops, and by troops I mean Jamie Jones, to help me with the cake.  Jamie, have I mentioned I love ya!  Who else would come over to assist with a birthday cake?  Oh, it has to do with a free dinner?  Will you change your mind if I tell you it's just burgers?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An All Time Low

On Monday I was running errands which included grocery shopping.  I was sitting in line at the bank and saw a Walmart Neighborhood Market right in front of me.  Looking at the time, I decided I could make the most of my time if I did my shopping there.  I was about a fourth of the way throught my trip when I noticed the prices of the items I usually purchase were increasing.  I stood there contemplating the time over money scenario...then I high tailed it out of there.  Money was more important than my time in that case.  It would have cost me an additional $20 to shop there as opposed to my normal Walmart.

Once I arrived at my normal Walmart (only 5 or 6 miles away), I asked the Customer Service Department why the prices were so different.  She let me in on a little secret.  Not all Walmarts in a city are priced the same.  Their pricing depends on competitors in the area.  I found that extremely funny considering there is only one other grocery competitor in our local area.  She went on to say that's why the Walmart at the 71st and 145th location is cheaper than this one.  SAY WHAT?  I have been paying more to shop at this Walmart, when the the cheaper Walmart is not even that far away from me.  HELLO!  Penny pincher here.  I'll be changing Walmarts!

So, there's my story for an all time low in frugalness!  Or maybe it's a high, depending on who you are...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Wanna Talk About You

I wanna talk about you. You.  Just you.  No one else.  You.  The person you are when you wake up.  The person you are when you go to bed.  The person you are when you are sleeping. The person YOU are just being. 

Your mind is probably going to one of two places.
  • Place #1-YES!  I love talking about me.  Me is my favorite subject. 
  • Place #2-Are you kidding?  Me is the last person I want to talk about.  Why would you want to talk about me?
If you're like most women, you're falling more in line with Place #2.  We don't like to talk about ourselves.  We don't feel comfortable with the spotlight on us.  Sometimes we don't even feel comfortable being us.  Or maybe I'm just speaking about myself here.  In all honesty, I am speaking about myself.  Well, my former self.  The self I was for a long, long time.

All through grade school, middle school, and high school I never felt good enough.  This continued all the way through college and well into my twenties.  Twenty-eight to be exact.  Everyone around me had better hair, better clothes, a better figure, a better financial outlook, etc.  The list could go on and on and on and on.  I could look at any woman, and immediately point out what ways she was better than me.  The comparisons were endless.  I used to pray that God would make me feel better about myself, but nothing would change.

It wasn't that God wasn't hearing me.  It was more like I wasn't hearing what God was saying to me.  I wanted him to do all the work and be done with it.  The first thing I had to do was capture my thoughts.  If I started having a 'they're better than me' moment, I would stop and quote what God says about me.

Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Job 36:11 "If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity, and their years in contentment."

These are just a few verses in a group of many.  I had to say these over and over to really get them in my head.  Over time, my thoughts began to change.  The realization that I was created to fill a specific purpose became more of a reality.  Do I know exactly what that purpose entails?  Nope, but I do receive bits and pieces of the plan daily.

This is where YOU come in.  I strongly desire for not even my worst enemy to feel this way.  I hope that you look around and celebrate other women, instead of compare yourselves to them.  Women are wonderful.  We do a ton of things men could never do, or want to do.

So I leave you with this...

YOU were created to be YOU.  YOU were put here to fulfill a special purpose.  Something that only YOU could do.  No one else can be YOU, or take YOUR place.   YOU are special.  YOU are meaningful.  No one is better than YOU, because only YOU can be YOU.

PS~I love YOU!

I love you so much, I'll leave you with this picture.  A picture that captures a time where I felt like a gigantic cow.  A picture that you can all laugh at.  It's okay, laugh.  Laugh hard.  I would if this were a picture of you...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A horrendous headache and cough from the devil led Menu Monday to Tuesday.  C'est la vie.  All better now, but there was just no way I was going to pull my bootay off the couch in time to type out my menu.  It's here now.  I know many of you were checking furiously because after all, what would you eat?  What?  You survive without me?  Hello?  Anyone there?  Anyone?  Well, I'll post this for me...and my head.

This week's menu is an Ode to TPW (The Pioneer Woman).  Oh how I love her food.  Not the extra pounds it adds to my butt, but the food.  It's well worth it.  A couple of links are from Tasty Kitchen.  Another glorious creation from TPW.  I could spend hours and hours on Tasty Kitchen.  So many yummy recipes.  So many calories.  So little time.

Monday-Corn Chowder with Chilies, Buttered Bread
Tuesday-3 Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Sauce, Layered Salad, The Bread
Wednesday-Roasted Vegetable Minestrone, Corn Bread
Thursday-Parmesan Garlic Tilapia Sticks, Corn Saute, Split Rolls
Friday-Hamburgers and Taco Dip
Saturday-Leftover Night (Just me and the kids.  Steven will be playing Police Officer with his twin bro.  Go ahead...start praying for this ride along.)
Sunday-Oven Ham Sammies, Homemade Fries, and Spinach Salad with Feta Cheese

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mexican Casserole {Menu Monday will be on Tuesday}

If you plan on serving the Taco Dip anytime soon, this is a good main dish to go with it.  Especially because you'll already have 2 of the ingredients handy.  This is also fairly simple and quick.  When I was a working mama this landed on the menu often. Mainly because it was a 30 minute meal, and I usually have the ingredients in the pantry.

Mexican Casserole
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
1-1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 bag of tortilla chips
  • Cook meat and drain.
  • While meat is cooking, mix soup, salsa, and 1 cup of cheese in a bowl.
  • Add cooked and drained meat.
  • In the bottom of an 8 x 8 greased dish, crumble tortilla chips until the bottom of the dish is covered well. 
  • Pour meat mixture on top of the chips.
  • Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, crumble more tortilla chips on top and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake for 3-5 minutes longer, or until cheese melts.

Happy Cooking!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Birthday J!

Nine years ago today, I was rushing through a mid-term so I could fly back to the hospital to meet my first and (so far) only niece.  I made it to the hospital minutes before she was born.  Holding her for the first time was really emotional.  She was so tiny and beautiful. 

When my brother lived in our area, J came to spend the night with us frequently.  Now that she lives five hours away we really cherish that time we had with her.  She is a wonderful little girl full of life and love.  She has the most precious heart of any 9 year old girl I know.  So on this fabulous Friday I would like to say Happy Birthday, J!  We love you to pieces.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A while back I decided that since the half-marathon never happened, I needed to at least do a 15K.  I have been training like a mad woman getting ready for this race on October 30th.  I'm pretty pleased with myself so far.  I'm averaging about 15-17 miles a week with my longest runs at 7 miles.  I've come to learn that after about mile 6 you're legs just keep moving whether you want them to or not.  Occasionally, I take a peek just to see if I even still have legs.  Surprisingly enough they're always down there staring back at me.  Although I wish somehow Heidi Klum's legs would appear, it never happens.

I've also come to learn that at about mile 5, I get bored.  Utterly bored.  B-O-R-E-D.  BORED. BoReD. Bored. Bored.  So bored that I thought about how many ways I could write bored on this blog post.  I came up with many, many different ways, but I didn't want to bore you.  You all probably have a life so these things never cross your mind.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taco Dip

It's getting to be that time of year where there are luncheons and parties.  This dip has always been a hit and makes a good amount to serve a large crowd (the picture below shows the recipe cut in half).  You'll notice it's so tasty that Steven couldn't keep his hands out of it long enough for me to snap the picture...

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1 bunch of chopped cilantro (you can use lettuce too)
1 small tomato diced
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can sliced ripe olives, drained, optional
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth.  Stir in salsa.
  • Spread on a serving dish and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.
  • Layer cilantro/lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.  I do mine in that order.
Happy Cooking!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I've had lots of delicious Tortilla Soups, but this one is by far the quickest one ever.  Like 15 minutes start to finish.  Yep.  It's that fast, and it's just as yummy as the others.

Tortilla Soup
1 can Fiesta Nacho Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can rotel, drained
2-2/3 cups milk
1 can enchilada sauce
1 (10 oz) can chunked chicken (I use grilled chicken which will add to your cook time)
  • Mix all ingredients, heat, and eat.
You know you love it!

Happy (and quick) Cooking!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Monday

When I sat down to make my menu, I got super excited.  About 2 months ago my friends and I signed up for a Girls' Getaway out at Dry Gulch USA.  I about peed my pants realizing it's THIS weekend.  Even though the getaway is less than 24 hours, I am stoked.  Beyond stoked.  The most exciting part...I get to ride in a car without children!!!!!!!  It's the little things in life. 

I do have to offer an apology, there are 3 nights this week that we have nothing on our menu, and there are no links to recipes.  The tortilla soup recipe will post tomorrow and I'll add the link then.  Sorry!  Over time, I hope to get these recipes typed out.  Which means I'm gonna have to actually pay attention to how much of what ingredients I throw in.  This could be challenging.

Monday-Tortilla Soup (recipe posts tomorrow) with Tortilla Chips, and Salad
Tuesday-Dinner at my Mama's!
Wednesday-Sandwich Melts, Sweet Potato Chips, Baked Beans
Thursday-Lasagna, Olive Garden Style Salad with Dressing, Italian Cheesy Bread
Friday-Girl's Getaway!!!  Steven and the kids must fend for themselves ;)
Saturday-Dinner with friends!
Sunday-Sticky BBQ Drumsticks, Homemade Potato Salad, Homemade Honey Biscuits

Friday, October 1, 2010

KWL Chart

When I was a teacher, I used KWL charts for non-fiction reading all the time.  Like ALL the time.  It's a really good way to help kids stay focused on what they are reading, and why they are reading. 

Each letter K, W and L stand for a process of reading.  The K is for 'what you Know' about a subject.  Little Man is really into dinosaurs right now. So we checked out a kid friendly non-fiction book on dinosaurs from the library.  Before we read, he told me what he knew about dinosaurs.  (Important Tip:  This is not what YOU know about dinosaurs.  It's about what your kid knows.  You have to stay quiet. Unless your child is in silent mode.  You can prompt them a little.  For example, Little Man was struggling so I said, "What does a dinosaur look like?"  Then he started telling me.)

Then you move on to the 'W'.  The 'W' stands for 'What you Want to know'.  This helps get kids interested in the book.  As they (or you) are reading, this helps their little minds focus on the information.  Now, you really won't put "What's for lunch?" on your chart, but Little Man did ask it while we were working and I thought it was funny.

Then you read the book.  Offering lots of opportunities for Think Time and metacognition.  Didn't think you'd hear those words again, did you?

After reading, you'll fill out the 'L' part of the chart.  Obviously, I snapped the pic before we read the book so there's nothing in that column.  The 'L' stands for 'What you Learned".  This is an opportunity to discuss what you learned from the book.  Highlighting and bringing attention to any questions you had answered while reading.  For example, Little Man Wanted to know if dinosaurs ate each other.  His question was answered in the book, so we wrote it down under the 'L' column.

This is definitely more beneficial for kids who are beginning or independent readers/writers, but KWL charts do teach the pre-emergent readers too.  It shows them that writing has different purposes.  Sometimes you write stories and other times we write facts. 

On a little side note, I'm sure you noticed our KWL chart was outside.  Don't be afraid to teach your child wherever you are at the moment.  Learning does not have to be at a table with chairs, pencils, and papers.   

Happy Learning!