Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Monday

This is a special week.  This week I turn 30.  Again.  Yes, I'm going to stick to that story because 31 just doesn't sound as cool.  Ah heck, I have two kids.  Who am I kidding?  Cool went out the window the moment the car seat was installed in the back of my car.

Since it's my birthday week, I am fortunate to have a few celebrations.  All of which I have strategically scheduled during dinner hours.  Sometimes I just marvel at my own geniusness. that even a word? 

Monday-Butter Chicken served over bowtie noodles, Mixed Greens Salad
Tuesday-Sandwich Melts with Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday-Birthday Dinner @ my Mama's (T-Bone Steaks.  She loves me)
Thursday-Smoked Salmon, Broc-n-Cheese, Homemade Parker Rolls
Friday-BBQ Pork Chops, Corn Casserole, Fruit Salad
Saturday-Dinner @ Ciao's
Sunday-Mexican Lasagna (this is a new one for us, I'll let you know how it turns out), Mexi Rice and Black Beans

Friday, February 25, 2011

10 Things About Moi

Thank you so much for your comments about my house.  Any suggestions you have for me are well received.  Sarah, left a comment yesterday about Young House Love, and I am in love.  In fact, you might see a few replicas of their ideas.  Replica...yes, that's sounds better than stealing their ideas.

Moving on to today, I am blown away at the amount of people who actually visit this site on a daily basis.  At first this was written for our out of state family, and it has turned into so much more.  I am so thankful for people who are willing to read my writing.  I would someday love to be a writer, since I enjoy writing very much, but the idea frightens me a bit.  Maybe one day, I'll get an idea of what to write about and it won't seem so scary. 

Since there are some readers who visit this who are essentially strangers, I would like to share a few facts about me so you can get to know me even better. You'll get exactly 10 facts.  But, no more.  I just can't give anymore because I'm a secretive person.  Not really.  I'm a pretty open book.  There are very few things I keep protected, so chances are if you keep reading this blog, you'll eventually know almost everything about me.  Whoa...that's a scary thought for you.  So I won't scare you off today, I'll just share my 10.  Here ya' go...

10 Facts About Amanda Torres
{Yes, this is me.  However, frightening I might be. Portrait by Little Man}
  1. I am a Christian.  It's the single best decision I ever made.  I'll share more about this next week.
  2. I sing loudly in the car.  I'm fairly certain my children are tone deaf because they never complain, and I am NOT a good singer.
  3. Smacking is my #1 pet peeve.  If you are smacking around me, chances are I am not listening to what you have to say.  Instead, I'm staring at you thinking how in the world I could get you stop without reaching in and grabbing whatever's in your mouth.
  4. My husband smacks.  It's our biggest marital issue.  Seriously.
  5. I long for alone time.  Fantasies of driving in my car and leisurely walking in and out of shops by myself is very appealing to me.  It's the little things that make me happy.
  6. Despite Steven's perpetual smacking, he is my best friend.
  7. All of my friend's have husbands that are their best friends.  I appreciate that about them, and it's probably why I'm close with each one of them.
  8. If I could travel anywhere in the world, the destination would involve some exotic beach.  Beaches make my heart happy.
  9. I used to have a 6 pack.  A real one on my stomach, not the kind you buy at the store.  Two kids stole that cherished part of my body and left me with a pocket of fat that I often cover up with the waistband of my pants.  My lovely SIL taught me that trick.
  10. I sometimes have writer's block and end up disclosing my secrets to complete strangers for lack of better things to write.  That is the main reason I shared #9 with you.  I was running out of things to discuss.  Well, at least now you know.  If I ever run into you in public and you're staring at my stomach, I might have to hurt you.  Especially if you have a cutesy little tummy.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Around My House

The Tortoise and the Hare, now that an Aesop's Fable that I can relate to.  For most parts of my life, I am the Hare.  I can multi-task with the best of you.  I'm pretty good at accomplishing a lengthy to-do list in a short amount of time.  I get this from my mother.  However, when it comes to decorating I am the Tortoise. 

Slow and steady, steady and slow that's the way I always go.
We have lived in our new home for approximately eight months.  I thought by now I would have the place completely furnished/decorated.  When we were building, I had visions of what I wanted to do.  The rooms were empty canvases just waiting for me to get my hands on them.  They looked like this...

The possibilities were endless.  Then the walls were finished complete with a coat of Macadamia colored paint, and my ideas went out the window.  There was simply too much wall for me to handle.  So I decided that I wasn't going to purchase anything until I found the pieces that were perfect for my space.  The good part about that is you don't just run into the perfect pieces on a daily basis so it spreads my decorating budget over months and months.  The bad part is I sit and stare at blank walls frustrated that I can't find the perfect pieces.

This frustration led me to searching design sites.  My first stop, Apartment Therapy.  Once there I had to do some real searching.  I found a ton of cool ideas, but no rooms that were perfect for me and my family.  Then I decided to go back through the photos and look at individual pieces to the rooms.  BAM!  I struck gold. I found a ton of ideas.  Unfortunately, they are all ideas that consist of projects I must complete.  Like a gigantic chalkboard with a red distressed frame, and a wire corner shelf that would need to be spray painted red.  Then I'll have to sift through thrift store after thrift store to find all those crazy pieces to fit my wacked out style.  It's going to be a task, but I'm ready for it.  Maybe I'll find something soon, but I'm not counting on it.  However, I will share with you any little additions I find.

For now I'll leave you with new pictures of the blank rooms you saw in the above pictures.  Feel free to chime in if you have a brilliant idea for my space!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Biggest Loser

This is going to be a super short post today.  I'm typing this out as I'm watching The Biggest Loser.  I absolutely love this show.  It's the only show I sit down and watch on a weekly basis.  We don't have DVR (gasp), so I actually have to sit down and watch it on it's regularly scheduled time.  Some weeks I miss it, and it throws me into a downward spiral.  My whole week gets off balance.  After all, I center my week around watching people sweat, cry, and reveal their deepest fears about being overweight.  I engaged myself so much into these people's lives I sometimes cry with them.  I cry all the while eating my bowl of ice cream, or plate of cookies.  Yeah, I said it.  I eat unhealthy food while watching people complete the hardest workouts of their life.  I also make mental notes to try out some of their workouts while taking scrumptious bites of brownies.   There is something seriously wrong with me, but I don't have time to figure that out right now.  The extra butter popcorn just finished popping in the microwave.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

I did it.  I finally broke down and purchased some skinny jeans.  I've tried several pairs on over the last year and I just can't commit to buying them.  At first they reminded me of the days of French rolling jeans.  Back in the early 90's boys and girls would pinch their jeans at the leg opening, fold it over with a crease, and then tightly roll them up.  Like this...
Skinny jeans just reminded me too much of this look.  After a long year of seeing some of the cutest little things pulling off skinny jeans, I purchased my first pair.  Along with the first pair, I also purchased an extra loooong cardigan.  Why you ask?  Well, I've got me a fairly large bootay for my fairly small frame.  Yes, this white chic has a ghetto booty.  The cardigan gave me ego a little cushion for trying to pull off the skinny jean.

After a couple of weeks I got a little more confident sporting my skinny jeans.  Slowly, I incorporated shorter and shorter tops.  Like mid-drift tops.  Completely kidding!  No one wants to see me in a mid-drift that's for sure, but I did go with a belt length sweater. Not too bad. The way the length hit with a longer tank underneath slimmed my gigantic backside.

My next attempt of donning the skinny jean was with a longer flowy top that conveniently rested on my hips.  Bad idea.  I repeat, B-A-D idea.  Unfortunately, I decided to wear this to church.  Church mornings are little chaotic so I didn't even take a full glance at my disastrous fashion choice until I went into the restroom with a full length mirror at church.  What was I thinking???  A shirt resting on my hips?  Let's just try to accentuate the biggest area on my body.  I looked like a gigantic pear.  Seriously, just look at my picture.  I'm the girl on the right...

Thankfully, we sit for most of church and the lighting is dim.  So let this be a lesson to you ladies.  If you are considering the skinny jean and you happen to carry your weight in your lower half, at least find a top that doesn't make your butt look five times larger than it is, and that's all I have to say about that.  Now I've got to go take my own advice and figure out how I get myself out of these jeans.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Monday

It's Monday.  Again.  I really don't mind Mondays.  It's a fresh start to a new week.  A new week to accomplish great things.  At least that's how I like to start out a week.  Optimism brings great things.  Therefore, I try to be optimistic.

My grocery budget has been more than I'm comfortable with for this month, so I did the little pantry/fridge/freezer shopping and got creative.  This allowed me to only buy a few items this week bringing my monthly grocery budget back under control.  Good thing for the bottom line, but bad thing for those of you looking for something new this week.  Fortunately for you, my imaginary BFF (The Pioneer Woman) post fresh new recipes on her site.  Please feel free to visit her, and tell her I said hello ;)

Monday-Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Tuesday-Lasagna, Garden Salad, Cheesy Bread
Wednesday-French Toast, Sausage Patties, and Eggs
Thursday-BBQ Quesadillas, Grilled Veggies, Homemade Rolls
Friday-Lemon Seasoned Grilled Drumsticks, Corn Casserole, Fruit Salad
Saturday-Sandwich Melt, Sweet Potato Slices
Sunday-Dinner at my Mama's!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicken a la King

I realize that these teaser temperature days in Oklahoma are short lived.  After all, we had 70's followed by a blizzard, and now we're back to 70's.  However, it's still February so I'm continuing to fatten myself up by cooking ultra comfy food.  Ahhhhh...warm biscuits topped nicely with celery, onions, mushrooms blended in a just right creamy chicken broth.  Yes, definitely a comfort food. 

I actually saved this recipe for a colder Oklahoma day, so I don't have any pictures to share with you.  Sorry!  I guess the ingredients will have to speak for themselves.  That and me telling you it's delicious.

Chicken a la King (adapted from the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Simple and Delicious)

4 individually frozen biscuits (I make mine from scratch and use a lot more than 4)
1-3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup cubed butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
2 Tbsp diced pimientos
  • Bake biscuits according to package directions, or bake yours from scratch.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet saute onions, celery, and mushrooms in butter until crisp-tender.
  • Stir in flour and salt until well blended.  You want it to coat fairly evenly.
  • Gradually stir in broth and milk.
  • Bring to a boil, then cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add chicken and pimientos. 
  • Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • Serve over biscuits.
As you can see this is the ultimate comfort food.  Ranks right up there with Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken & Dumplings.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Saw Your Husband With Another Woman...

"I saw your husband with another woman at Kohl's last night."

"Really?  Was it with a dark haired woman?"

"YES!  You already know?"

"I've known about it for years, but it's not really my place to say anything."

"Not your place?  For goodness sakes that's YOUR husband."

"Nope, not my husband.  My sister-in-law's husband.  It's really not my place to tell them where they can and can't go."
"What?  I'm confused."

"My husband has an identical twin brother.  It wasn't my husband you saw last night, it was his brother with his dark haired wife, but thanks for looking out!"

This scenario has happened more than once since I've been with Steven.  It's fairly comical in a sense.  Not comical that people truly think my husband is cheating on me, but the relief that crosses their faces when they realize they are mistaken.

The story above is not even the best one. I've got one even better.  A scandalous one.  In reality it's completely harmless, but it gave our OB/GYN's staff a hot topic at work.  It all started with two surprise pregnancies...

I know I've mentioned before that Little Miss and Chunky Monkey are two weeks apart, but I never mentioned we had the same doctor to see us through our pregnancies and deliver our babies.  We also see the same pediatrician, but that is a WHOLE other story I'll share later.

Anyway, my SIL and I were at about 20 weeks when a nurse nervously stepped into my room.  Steven had just stepped out to go to the bathroom.  She quickly came to my side and told me, "I am probably breaking every nurse rule, but I need to let you know that your husband has been coming to other appointments with a different woman. She is also pregnant and about as far along as you are." 

As soon as she told me this, so many things flashed before me.  When we were preggo with Little Man, the staff was so friendly and very chatty.  Even though the staff was friendly with Little Miss' appointments, I could see a little reservations in some nurses to sit around and chat with us as they used to.  In the beginning I just brushed it off as the second child thing.  You know, it's not your first time around the block so they don't feel the need to coddle you.  However, after the nurse shared this deep secret that could possibly jeopardize her job, I began laughing. It all made sense now.

I should of tried crying inconsolably, but I just couldn't.  This poor nurse had been struggling to find a way to tell me that not only was my husband cheating on me, but he had impregnated another woman.  I had to let her in on our family secret.  There are two of them.  Of course 'them' being Steven and Rene (his brother). The relief on the nurse's face was unreal.  She laughed too, and then snuck out to let the other nurses know what was going on.  Amazingly after this incident the staff always laughed when we walked in for our appointments.

All I can say is I'm thankful for people who aren't afraid to let you know if you're husband is being a no good cheatin' fool.  After all, it really could of been a situation like this... 

But in reality, it's like this...
Double the trouble!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Menu Math

I've mentioned before that Little Man is way more interested in Math than he is writing his words, but he can only do flashcards for number recognition for so long.  He gets bored.  In all honesty, I get bored.  One thing I learned a long time ago in teaching was if I'm bored, then it's not an interesting lesson.  So to spice things up a bit, we practice number recognition in a real world math scenario.

This week we did Menu Math.  This is a great activity for kids of any age.  For older kids, simply bring home the kid's menus from restaurants.  When it's time for an at home activity, have your child pick out what they would like to eat, then add up their total.  Want to spark some more interest? Throw in some real $$$.  Give your child a $5 or $10 bill depending on the cost of the items on the children's menu.  Tell them that with their money they will need to order and have money leftover to pay for the tip (don't worry about tax).  You play the server, they play the diner and you have a fun learning restaurant game.  Since this is the 'real world' of math, your child will get to keep the change.  So be careful of how much you fork over!  You very well might find you have a frugal diner on your hands.

As for us, we water this down a bit.  In fact, I have two watered down activities we work on.  Activity #1 is simple number recognition.  Activity #2 is simple addition and counting out dollar bills. 

Activity #1 Using a Menu to Encourage Number Recognition

With Little Man, I use my awesomeness to create a picture menu with even dollar amounts.  Since he is at he beginning stages of recognizing numbers, I don't want to introduce decimals and multiple numbers at this time.  It's okay if you're not as artistically inclined as me, just do your best.  We can't all contain my awesomeness. Here's an example of Menu #1..

And I sincerely hope you know I'm 100% joking.  My art skills are really, really bad.

From this menu I asked Little Man to find the item that is $7, $5, $3, etc.  All he has to do is point to which menu item has the corresponding $ amount.  Even though this is very basic, it allows you to assess what numbers your child has mastered and what numbers you child has not without pulling out those flashcards.

Activity #2 Using Menus for Basic Addition

You will need to create another menu for this activity because every item will be $1. Here's my menu...

After making the menu, I sat Little Man down at the Torres Bistro with a few dollars in his pocket.  You'll notice all of his items on the menu are $1.  This activity is for the sole purpose of adding and counting out money.  A very basic skill, but nonetheless a very important skill.

During this activity, he picks out the items he would like.  For example, he may choose a hamburger, apple, bell pepper, and grapes.  After I take his order, we go back and count the amount.  I pretend serve him his items and then hand him his ticket.  On his ticket, he gets a picture and dollar amount next to what he ordered, plus the grand total.  Like this...

He then counts out his dollar bills, and tips me (because I was an excellent server) and we're done.  Now Little Man really loves this game, so we end up playing multiple times.  Each time I encourage him switch it up a bit.

The End.

If you're looking for some other fabulous, but printable activities to do with your tike, you might want to check out 1+1+1=1 Blog.  There are wonderful activities on this site.  Thank you Joy!

What are your favorite resources you use for your child's learning?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Wisp Clips Snapshot

Yesterday, on Wisp Clips' blog, I revealed the newest collection.  The Vintage Collection.  I'm especially proud of this collection because it most resembles my style. 

Wisp Clips is an afforable way to help accessorize your little lady.  After I had Little Miss, I went on a hair bow buying spree.  Within days, I had spent a $100 on a handful of bows and clips.  Granted they were all super cute, I had no idea how quickly those bows would get lost.  That's how Wisp Clips began.  A mom (me) searching for a more affordable way to accessorize my own Little Miss. 

That was back in June of 2010.  Since then, I've had the opportunity to make so many different creations for mom's all over the US (and my one customer in Canada).  I've been blown away by the response to Wisp Clips.  It allows me to get in touch with my creative side, and help out other moms looking for a more afforable option.  So today, I'm going to share on my regular blog the beginning of the newest addition...

The Vintage Collection

 Brown Crochet Hat
with Light Blue Vintage Flowers
For Baby {$12}
For Big Girls {$14}
Nylon Headband with Turquiose Vintage Flower {$9}

Other flower colors available: Burnt Orange, Light Lime, Merlot, Deep Purple, and Moss Green

If you're not familiar with Wisp Clips, be sure to check us out here or here.  However, today is your lucky day because I'm going to leave you with some Wisp Clips favorites.  These are items that I have a hard time keeping in stock...

Crumpet {$4}
 Boutique Bows {$4}
 Mini Boutique Bows {$3}

Ribbon Flowers {$3}

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Monday

Finally, finally, finally we are beginning to thaw out.  The warm 50's have been so nice.  I may have to bust out the swimsuit when the 60's hit later this week.  After subzero temps for the last week, 60's will feel like a heatwave.  I apologize in advance if you see me wearing my swimsuit around this week. 

In celebration of the OK thawing process, we are utilizing the grill to its fullest potential.  Actually, we used the grill last week too when it was 15 degrees out.  It's hard not to use it when your genius husband asked that an outside gas line be installed when we built our house.  No propane tank, just a turn of a handle and the grill starts.  It's a beautiful thing.  Plus it also feeds our addiction of all things grilled.  No pun intended.  Okay, a little pun intended.

Here's this week's menu...

Monday-Fajitas using this marinade, Grilled Squash, Zucchini, and Asparagus, Brown Rice
Tuesday-Chicken a la King (recipe to post this week) and Peas
Wednesday-Grilled Pork Chops with Dry Rub,  Grilled Peppers & Onions, Cheesy Biscuits
Thursday-Grilled Chicken (make extra for tomorrow's meal), Green Beans, Baked Potatoes
Friday-Grilled Chicken Club Salad with Honey Butter Bread
Saturday-Hamburgers and Taco Dip
Sunday-Dinner with the Smith's
Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Confession Time

This is really hard for me to admit, but I feel I must.  I just need to get it off my chest, but if you could please promise not to judge me.  I have a problem with my cake stand.  Not so much with the stand itself, but what's in it, or NOT in it. 

A good while back we had some friends over for dinner.  For dessert I whipped up some of these little bites of heaven...

{Photo via Tasty Kitchen}

I didn't want to put them on a platter so I pulled out the cake stand.  They looked so scrumptious under the crystally glass cover.  I felt like I were in a bakery picking out a warm delight each time I lifted the lid.  Here's where the problem lies.  I kept lifting and lifting and lifting until every single scrumptious bite was gone.  Of course our guests received cookies, but not many.

After the treats were gone, I was left with an empty cake stand.  I just couldn't bear the thought, so I made these...
{Photo via Tasty Kitchen}
They lasted about 1.5 days, and the cake stand was empty...again!  I tried just washing her (the cake stand), so she could rest on the counter, but that proved to be a huge mistake.  She was upset with me.  I swear I could hear he sobs from the living room.  I knew she felt empty.  Incomplete.  Being the compassionate person that I am, I got up to throw together a pan of brownies sprinkled with a little powdered sugar.  Unfortunately, those didn't last long either...

So yet again I'm left with an empty cake stand.  Now what shall I make?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Randomness Part Duex

I have absolutely nothing of substance to write about so you get the random thoughts that fly through my head today.  Here it goes.  If you want, you can go visit your other morning World Wide Web stops.  I won't be offended.  For those of you brave enough to stay, here's what's floating around in my head...
  • Water for Elephants is a good book.
  • If I didn't have a book to read this week I would more than likely lifelessly sit on my couch as my children wipe the drool from my chin.
  • I have been cooped up way too long.
  • Last night I made arroz con gandules
  • After letting the sauce simmer for 45 minutes, I went to get the rice only to find I had a cup. 
  • I hate it when I do that. 
  • No ricey for the kiddos, just for the Mr.
  • In four months I will be sitting my bootay on the sandy beaches of Florida.
  • I can almost smell the salt until I look out the window and see mounds of snow.  Four months is long way away.
  • I love the look of snow until it gets all black and nasty from dirty roads and cars.
  • My nose has been running since Saturday night.
  • Blowing my nose has left me contemplating whether or not nose blowing is an aerobic activity.
  • I have decided it is.
  • The Jillian Michaels workouts have become the high light of my day; however, working out with two tissues stuck up your nose is not exactly fun.
  • I no longer get 'regular' songs stuck in my head.  Instead I get kid songs stuck in my head. 
  • A few weeks back, I got to have an adult evening with our adult friends. 
  • We went to PF Changs.
  • Instead of ordering Kung Pao Chicken, I asked for Kung Fu Pao Chicken.
  • I didn't even realize I did it until my friend (bless her soul that she is friends with me) pointed it out.
  • I think I've watched Kung Fu Panda one too many times.
  • Steven asks me to scratch his back at least 5 times a day.
  • To Do: Cut my nails down to the skin.
  • That would be mean.  I wouldn't really do that, so I'll just dream about it.
  • I need to go blow my nose.
The End.  Aren't you glad you stopped by today?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Jump Start on Couponing

  • Couponing is too hard.
  • Couponing is confusing.
  • I don't have the time to coupon.
  • There aren't coupons for the products I buy.
  • I don't want to look poor by using coupons.
I've only couponed for a year, but I've heard all of the above comments from people.  None of them were mean spirited, just thoughts out loud from people who want to start, but have reservations.  After all couponing is a job.  A J-O-B, and any job I've had takes time.  Your time in exchange for money.  Couponing is no different.  You will spend some time clipping and finding deals, but in exchange you will save a considerable amount of your hard earned money. 

If you are interested in couponing, but feel overwhelmed by the task I have a few tips for starting out.  Tips that helped me become a successful couponer.
  1. Know What You Currently Spend You won't know if you're saving money, if you don't know what you spend on groceries/tolietries already.  Go back to your online banking or check registry and track your spending for the last few months.  Keep this handy when setting your grocery budget.  When I first started out, we were spending close to $600/month on groceries and tolietry items.  A good chunk of our budget. 
  2. Just Start Clipping!!! Clip coupons for any products you use or would use.  For example, if you use Tide laundry detergent, but see coupons for another brand of laundry detergent go ahead and clip it.  You very well could have an opportunity to try another brand for free or close to free.  A few months back, I had the opportunity to get a few bottles of Era laundry detergent for free.  Surprisingly, I really like the Era brand.  This is just one case in many of various products I've tried using coupons.  My rule of thumb is if I would use it, clip it. 
  3. Choose ONE Store-Start utilizing coupons where you feel the most comfortable, but be sure the store accepts those coupons.  Fortunately, in my area almost every grocery chain (with the exception of Aldi) accepts coupons.  Once you get comfortable using coupons at your store, then branch out to others, like Walgreens, CVS, etc.  You can really save some bucks with the promotional items at drugstores.
  4. Choose ONE Method-I suggest starting with coupons. Be sure to take your coupons with you, and don't forget to use them when you are checking out.  Coupons is ONE method of saving money.  After you get comfortable with using coupons, THEN begin using Competitor Ads.  Competitor Ads are the ads that other stores put out advertising their weekly sales.  Target and Walmart will honor the sale prices of other stores in your shopping area.  However, it must be for a $X.XX amount and not for a % off or Buy One, Get One Free advertisement.  For example, if you see cantaloupe on sale in an ad for $1.98, and Walmart's price is $2.98, they will adjust the price for you.  You must tell them as the item is being scanned, and have your ad ready when checking out.  Recently, Walmart starting accepting Competitor Coupons (woot woot!).  Case in point, I had a Lowe's and Target coupons for a few items.  Even though the checker was unsure about taking them, she called over a manger who showed her how to do it.  I ended up saving some major $$$ on this new deal!
  5. Add a New Goal Each Week  Don't put so much pressure to save a huge amount in the beginning.  Get used to using coupons, then begin utilizing competitor ads, and finally add competitor coupons.  It took me a good 6 months to understand how to get the best deals and the coupon policies/tricks at each store.  Give yourself time to learn, and time to start saving.  You may only save $10 the first month, and that's okay.  $10 is still a saving!  Be proud of what you accomplish!
  6. You Will Get Faster  In the beginning, I spent about 1-2 hours per week clipping coupons, searching for deals and making my menu.  Now I only spend about 45 minutes.  If saving money to you is important, then you will find the time.  For my mom, she started couponing in the summer months.  She's a teacher and knew that's when she would have the time to invest in the learning process.  By the time school started again, she had a good handle on the time she was spending to save money.
  7. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions If you have a question, just ask.  Most store clerks in my area are very helpful.  Occassionally, you will run into an issue where a clerk doesn't want to work with you or your coupons.  In that case, don't be afraid to ask for a manager or to remind the checker of the stores coupon policy.  However, do NOT be hateful towards them even if they are wrong.  If they won't accept your coupons, competitor ads, and/or competitor coupons, then politely refuse the items.  I've done that a handful of time.  There is no reason to be embarrassed.  It's your money!
I hope these few tips help you get started.  I wish you the best of luck, and to help you get started on a pile of coupons here's a list of printable coupons sites...
Betty Crocker
Target Coupons

Happy Couponing!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Sorta Copycat DIY Decorating Thingamajig

I am by no means a crafty person.  Sure I follow many blogs who have these cutesy crafty DIY projects, but when I have the inclination to do it myself I slap myself two times and that immediately snaps me back into reality.  Then Jesse Peak came along.  Although I'm not ready to tackle her extensive stenciling and crafting projects, I did see a glimpse of a photo collage in her home that made me say, "I might possibly could reproduce something such as that."  I tried slapping myself two times, and the idea stayed with me.  I took that as a sign to go for it. 

So I dragged my sorry non-DIY self to my local Goodwill store and purchased two of the ugliest wall art pieces I could find.  Actually, I was looking for two sturdy and cute frames.  It just so happened the ones I liked were a horrendous shade of gold with 1980's style prints of bathtubs.  In fact, when I was purchasing these $3 hideous prints I resisted multiple urges to tell the worker that these were not going to hang in my house as is.  Then I realized, she didn't care.  Nor did she want my in depth description of how I slapped myself in the face before I driving to the store.  I only share these things with my best friends and family.  You are my friends, right???

As soon as I got home I ripped out the 80's bathtub prints and scrubbed the frames clean.  There was about an inch of hairspray caked on the frames.  More proof that these were 80's prints.  I'm pretty sure I caught a whiff of Aquanet hairspray.  Yep, totally 80's.

After the frames dried, I spray painted them with a black semi satin finish.  Then busted out my fabulous hot glue gun, twine, and mini clothespins (which were school bus yellow...thank you spray paint).  Bringing all my ramblings to an end, I came up with these (sorry the pic quality is stinky)...

They were an addition to our Hall of Fame...

I was pretty pleased with the end result.  I think I may contact Genevieve Gorder of HGTV.  She may need my assistance on her next show. 

Seriously though, our house is such a work in progress.  When I say a work in progress, I mean a-work-in-progress.  As in one work per month.  I flip-flop between what styles I like and wait and wait and wait for the perfect piece.  At this rate my house will be fully decorated when Little Man and Little Miss get about 50 years ;)

Now if you'd like to see what these were really supposed to look like, be sure to go here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Monday

Attention Torres Tidbits' Readers.  I have an important announcement to make.  A life altering announcement.  Are you ready?  Here it goes...

Ginger's Stuffed Burritos will now be renamed G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos.  This name change has kept me up at night.  You see, G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos are so deliciously simple that I felt it needed a rockin' name.  Not that Ginger isn't a rockin' name, it's just G-Dawg sounds really rockin'...or rappin'.  So Ginger, when I pass you by at church and say, "Whud up G-Dawg?"  You can say, "Hello Amanda.  How are you today?" You don't have to thank me.

The End.  That's my important announcement.  I'm sure Ginger is completely estatic with her new name.  I haven't quite told her yet (well, now she knows).  I hope she's still my friend. 

Regardless, I have the menu for this week complete with G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos...

Monday-Homemade Veggie Pizza and Salad
Tuesday-BBQ Meatballs, Seasoned Roasted Potatoes, Broiled Veggies
Wednesday- Baked Chicken, Sweet Green Beans, Homemade Crescents
Thursday-Sausage Breakfast Casserole and Toast
Friday-Parmesan Pork Chops with Herb Roasted Veggies,  and The Bread
Saturday-G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos & Arroz Con Gandules
Sunday-Dinner @ my Mama's

Now I just need a new name for Jackie's Cheesecake Chimichanga...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Free Entertainment

I have been in my house for four days now.  F-O-U-R days.  Can you hear the desperation???  Even though I like having my tiny family together in our house, we get bored.  However we found a gem.  A real gem.  A free gem, and who doesn't like free gems? 

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you've probably already seen mention of it.  I'm currently in love with the Free Zone on our cable.  More specifically, I'm in love with the Jillian Michaels workouts.  More specifically, specifically, I love to hate the Jillian Michaels workouts.  She's one bad mamba jamba.  My legs, deltoids, and abs are so sore.  Like really sore.  Like really, really sore.
{The infamous Jillian Michaels}

I've been contemplating this whole snowed in phenomenon, and I realized that I would have one rippin' body if I were snowed in on a consistent basis.  I could even look like Jillian Michaels.  Well, maybe not exactly.  I sure do love baked goodies and tasty fattening foods.  Living off 100% raw foods just doesn't sound like a life I am interested in living.  No sirree.  Not for me.  So for now, I'll just stick to the workouts in hopes that the cottage cheese on my thighs magically changes over to rippin' quads.  One can always hope.

I do have one more little personal tidbit to share today.  Simply because the cottage cheese on my thighs is not personal enough.  After completing the 6 Week, 6 Pack Abs workout, which should be renamed 'Full Body Workout That Incorporates an Ab Workout' workout, Steven thought we needed to do even more.  Graciously, I found the dancing section of the Free Zone.  I promise, I wasn't doing this for comedic purposes.  Okay, you know me too well.  I totally did this for comedic purposes. 

Steven *thinks* he can do two things really well...sing and dance.  So I chose the Hip Hop workout.  Let's just say, I got another great ab workout.  Steven was cracking me up trying to get his feet together with his hands and counting out the music.  I really wish I would have grabbed the camera.  Words cannot possibly express what was going on over here.  Extremely comical.  Although Steven's not a terrible dancer, he definitely could not make it on So You Think You Can Dance.  However, he seems to think he's ready to hit the clubs with his new found moves.  Be warned Tulsa area. Be warned.  Steven Torres could be out in the clubs soon...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

All The Single Ladies

Single Ladies, I have a piece of advice for you today.  If you are dating someone who is lazy, dump him.  The End.

Good advice, right?  I'll bill you later for my profound idea.  But seriously, dump him.  He may be cute now, but he won't be able to dig you out of a snowstorm if it ever happens.  And believe me, it WILL happen. 

Never in my 30 years of life have I ever seen so much snow in Oklahoma.  Fourteen inches for us.  The snow drifts were even worse (about 4 1/2 feet on the side of our house and 3 feet built up against our front and back doors).  I was completely thankful when Steven put on his battle armor after the storm passed and went to work.  He's such a man!
{Blizzard of 2011}

You see, had I married a lazy bum I would have to get outside and do it myself.  Nope, not for me.  I'll take care of the chitlins inside.  That's my job.  Well, that and cooking.  Don't feel too sorry for him. He got homemade Apple Cinnamon Muffins for breakfast AND his favorite Sausage Spinach Pockets with Sweet Potato Fries AND the PW's Cinnamon Rolls.  Come to think of it, I think I got bamboozled!  He would have shoveled us out no matter what...

Oh well, I would have baked no matter what.  After all, he can't clean off a plate of cinnamon rolls like I can.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

For Those Workin' Mamas

A few weeks back I posted about how I became a SAHM (stay at home mom).  In the history of Torres Tidbits I've never received so many comments/emails on a particular subject.  A lot of the emails made my heart hurt.  Emails from single mamas who undoubtedly have the most difficult job ever to women who just desire to be home with their kids, but don't know how to afford losing their income.  All sorts of situations, except one.  I didn't hear anything from the working moms.  So today, I'm sending out some love to those working moms.  After all I have been there, and done that.

In sharing some love, I'll talk about about two different working moms.  Here's the first one...

Mama #1
Chunky Monkey's Mom (my lovely sister-in-law).  She has an awesome job that she loves.  She's pretty stinkin' good at her job.  She sells drugs, and makes some darn good money selling drugs.  Don't worry.  She does it legally as a pharmaceutical sales representative.  Anyway, she's a good mama to Chunky Monkey.  She enjoys her time with him, but she also enjoys time at her job.  She doesn't love him less because she works.  When she's not working, she and my brother-in-law make sure they have special activities to do with him.

Mama #2
Mama #2 is a woman I admire greatly. Her name is Linda.  I had the privilege of teaching both of Linda's children (J & O) in their fourth grade years, and I worked alongside her sharing students who participated in her Math program. 

In J & O's younger years, she taught part time.  When her children reached school age, she went back to teaching full time.  Linda always demonstrated a kind and patient love for her children.  And when I say children, I mean her biological children and her students.  She is a phenomenal mom and a phenomenal teacher.  She is a selfless woman who would do anything to see children succeed (again her children or her students). 

Linda also had tremendous balance as a working mom.  She didn't stay all hours of the evening working at school.  When school time was over, she was immediately focused on J & O.  School was over, and family time was beginning.  If you've ever been a teacher, you know that's hard to do! 

My whole point in sharing today is to acknowledge all moms.  Whether you work outside the home or inside the home, you're still a mom AND that is a hard job in itself.  I feel fortunate to be able to see both sides of the 'mom job' which brings me to my final point.

Working Moms: Stay at home moms have a difficult job.  Most of us don't sit on our bon-bons all day and complain about how hard our life is (even though I have run across a few).  For the most part, we admire the jobs you do. 

Stay At Home Moms: Working moms do not love their kids less because they work.  Some have to work, and others enjoy their work.  Whichever the case they shouldn't be judged for it.  For the most part, working moms realize you have a difficult job at home too.

So the next time someone asks you what you do for a living, you tell them proud!  Shout it from the roof tops.  For example, my sister-in-law would yell, "I sell drugs and I'm proud of it!!!"  And then she would be arrested...her husband's a police officer...probably not a good idea...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jackie's Cheesecake Chimichanga

This is THE dessert.  The dessert that will add to your curves.  That's a nice way of saying it will make you F-A-T.  I think this is precisely why my BFF Jackie made this when we were at their house for dinner.  We also had some pretty rockin' ribs courtesy of her husband, Steven.  Not to be confused with my Steven.  Her Steven is white.  My Steven is mocha.  Or Puerto Rican.  However you want to look at it.  Today I prefer mocha.  Tomorrow, I'll probably go with Puerto Rican.

Anyway, we're really discussing the deliciousness of the Cheesecake Chimichanga, and Jackie's ploy to enlarge my back side even more than it is.  If I consume any more of these slices of heaven, people will start to ask where I purchased my Silicone Booty Pads.  Jackie, even though I'm on to your evil plot I completely appreciate you sharing this recipe with me and the rest of the bloggy world.  And, I know you don't aspire to make me fat.  At least I THINK you don't...

For the rest of you, consider yourself warned.  Deliciously fattening recipe ahead.  Make at your own risk...

Cheesecake Chimichanga
2 cans crescent rolls
24 oz cream cheese (blocks)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(additional ingredients for topping listed below)
  • Layer a greased 9x13 dish with one can of crescent rolls.
  • Cream together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Spread on top of crescent rolls.
  • Layer top with 2nd can of crescent rolls.
For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter
  • Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
  • Melt 1 stick of butter and mix with sugar and cinnamon combo.
  • Pour on top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Once it cools refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Additional toppings: strawberries and whip cream (just because you'll need more calories)
It's okay to love and hate me for posting this.  I understand.
Happy Cooking!!!