Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I hope your past weekend was full of family, friends, and relaxation.  That's the perfect weekend at the Torres household.  Given an opportunity to tour the world or spend time with friends and family relaxing, well, we'd choose friends and family relaxing.  And now I'm totally lying out my wa-zoo.  I love to travel.

Traveling or not, I have a menu for this week minus a Monday. Monday doesn't count because I'm fairly certain you already ate your Monday meal.  I know, call my a psychic.  I'm just that smart.

Tuesday-Dijon Crumb Chicken, Fresh Green Beans, Fruit Salad
Wednesday-Tater Beef Bake with Spiced Honey Butterflake Rolls
Thursday-Breakfast for Dinner
Friday-Hot Dogs, Spring Potato Salad, Garden Salad
Saturday-Grilled Baslamic Chicken, Spinach Strawberry Salad, Corn on the Cob
Sunday-Mom?  Can we come over...puh-lease?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Since I'm 99.9% sure you're grilling out today, I'm going to post our menu tomorrow.  We've had a jam packed weekend full of life altering activities.  You know us.  We're a real serious family.  So while you were busy lounging at the lake, ocean, or pool, we were busy doing this...
{The All American Pie Eating Contest}

And this...

{Little Miss enjoying the rushing stream created by our fire department spray down}

And this...

{A family trip to see Kung Fu Panda 2}

In all seriousness, we've been enjoying our long weekend together with family and friends.  Wishing you the same.  See ya' tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Just Peed

When I was preggo with Little Man, I would sit in his room rocking back and forth in the glider imagining what it would be like the first time we brought him home and showed him his room.  I would sit in there every single day.  Even days away from having him, I still sat and there, rocking and praying for every aspect of his life.  From becoming pregnant with him to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, it was a struggle.  I'll share more about that next week, because this post is getting too sentimental.  I have a funny story to tell you.

Soooo, no one tells you that you lose all of your muscles that hold your pee in after you have a baby.  Let me rephrase that...No One Told Me.  No one.  This is a very important part to this story. 

As Steven and I walked in our little teeny tiny home holding a barely 7 lb baby, that we were unsure if we would have or not in the beginning, we were both emotional.  Like any first time parents, we had the video camera out.  Steven walking slowly ahead of me capturing every cotton pickin' introduction we made to Little Man. 

Little Man, this is your kitchen.
Little Man, this is your living room.
Little Man, this is your bathroom.
Little Man, this is your doggie.
Little Man, this is your room.

Um yeah.  That's where it happened.  I had spent so many nights sitting in his room that when the actual moment arrived I became so overcome with emotions.  I started to cry.  Bad idea.  Really bad idea.  Crying takes some stomach muscles.  Stomach muscles can also force your pee out when you don't have the muscles to hold your pee in because you just pushed out a 7lb 6oz baby out your wahoo.  I peed right then and there.  Yep, peed my pants so bad that it not only soaked me, but soaked the carpet.  I couldn't stop.

You think this is the worst of it, but it's not.  Since I am unaccustomed to peeing my pants, I was shocked.  Through the tears, I said, "Oh my gosh.  I just peed my pants."  Steven, the videographer, turns the camera to me as I'm trying cross my legs to hold it in. I am screaming for him to turn off the stupid camera and grab that baby so I can figure out what to do next.

You think THAT is the worst part?  It's not.  A few weeks go by and Steven's family comes over.  They want to see the homecoming video.  Call it exhaustion, mommy brain, or sheer insanity, but for some reason I had totally forgotten about my pee-pee escapade.  I pull out the dvd, pop it in, and go in the other room to feed Little Man.  Twenty minutes later, I come back in the living room so I can watch the rest.  Another bad idea.  I see me on tv standing in Little Man's room.  Frantically, I'm scrounging for the remote. Too late.  My whole family saw it.  Me, peeing my pants and yelling for Steven to turn off the camera.  That was it.  My BIL (Steven's twin brother) was on the floor rolling.  Being the sensitive, caring man that he is, he rewinds it at least 100 times and laughs over and over.

I have to admit, it was funny.  Maybe not then, but it's funny now.  Thankfully, I have control over my pee again.  I mean, who wants to have friend who pees every time she cries or laughs?  It has taken me almost 4 years to share this story.  Maybe in another 4 years I'll let you see the video too.  MAYBE.

So let this be a lesson to you.  Don't let your husband video you peeing your pants.  It's not pretty. With that said, I hope you all have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. A weekend free of pee pee pants.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just Me

I, Amanda Torres, have a lot of sides to my personality.  So I thought I'd give you a short introduction to my many layers.  You know, so when you read the various topics on this blog you will know that it is just me who writes this stuff, and not fifty different people.  You'd better get your notepads out 'cause this is going to be long, and you will want to take notes.

I Am a Thinker

This is my thinking face.  Steven sees this a lot.  Always, always, always I have a thought floating in my head.  I obsess over decisions.  This drives Steven crazy.  I can't make a single choice without thinking and thinking and thinking about the best possible solution.  I get this from my mother. 
This particularity causes problems when I've finally reached a decision and Steven wants to deviate from my plan.  Since I have put so much thought into my final decision, it's nearly impossible to get me to change my mind.  I have yet to decide if this is a positive or negative quality about me.  That's gonna' take some thought.

I Am a Jokester

I'll be real honest here.  I think I am funny.  I laugh at my own jokes.  I say things at inappropriate times.  I'm sarcastic.  I kid most of the day.  I catch people off gaurd.  I think this is the one part of me that takes people by surprise.  I am not prim and proper.  I've only become aware that some of my acquaintances think this about me.  However, if I can crack a joke or point out the obviously funny moments in life, I will.  What can I say?  I like to laugh. 

I Am a God's Girl

Sound a little contradictory to the Jokester Me?  It's not.  It's just who I am.  God created me this way.  There's a lot of parts of me that need to change, but not the jokester in me.  You don't have to give up all the parts of you to be a Christian, just the stuff that needs to change.  I love God.  I love my church.  I love how the changes God brings me in life make me better.  I'm not sure I'll ever be the straight laced Bible carrying preacher woman, but I will share my story.  I will share what God has done and continues to do for me.  Well, I'll share after I've thought long and hard about the best way to share, and there will be a few jokes thrown in the mix.

I Have Not Always Been a Giver

Shocker, I know.  As much as I encourage others to give, I have not always been a giver myself.  Steven and I have always paid our tithe to our church, but that was it.  During the holiday season we'd donate to the Angel Tree, but my heart wasn't always in the right place.  It was just another thing to check off the list.  Even now I am often reminded that I can always give more.  Give more of my time.  Give more of my resources.  Give more of my finances.  I don't think I'll ever be done learning how to give.  I'm a work in process.

I Am a Huge Muli-Tasker 

More than once I've been asked, "How do you get it all done?"  My only answer is, "It's a curse."  I cannot focus on just one task start to finish.  If there is ever a down moment, I have to fill it.  Even with this blog, when I'm waiting for pictures to upload, or I'm stuck on an idea, I always have something else next to the computer to fill my unused time.  Even if it's for a minute.  Honestly, I function better when I have a long list tasks to complete.  It motivates me to get busy.

There are so many other parts to me, but that's it for today.  I can't go on revealing all of my glorious sides in one post.  That would put my awesomeness over the edge. See, I told you I was sarcastic!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poppy Seed Chicken Bake

I have no idea what is going on with my blog host, but it's driving me crazy.  I couldn't access my 'dashboard' in order to even write a post and the posts haven't been posting in the mornings when they're scheduled.  I promise I'm not getting lazy over here.  If I were, you know I'd tell you.  Instead I'm pulling out my own hair trying to work around the issues.  By the time I figure it out, I will more than likely have a few bald patches.  That's not going to be pretty.

Despite another issue to add to my long list, I have a recipe for you today.  One of Steven's favorites.

Poppy Seed Chicken Bake
4 cooked chicken breast shredded
2 sleeves of Ritz Vegetable Snack Crackers, crushed
1-1/2 sticks of butter, melted
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
8 oz cream cheese (you can use sour cream)
1 cup cheddar cheese
  • In a small bowl, combine melted butter, crushed Ritz crackers, and poppy seeds.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked shredded chicken, mushroom soup, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese.
  • Line the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan with the 1 cup of the cracker mixture.
  • Pour chicken mixture on top.
  • Top with remaining cracker mixture.
  • Bake @ 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. (30 minutes warms it up, but 45 is even better)
In my picture, I used all the butter, cracker, and poppy seed mixture on the bottom.  It gives it a thicker 'crust'.  Then I topped it with crushed Ritz crackers by itself.
Happy Cooking! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Couponing For A Cause

I've often talked about how to reach some of your financial goals through couponing, but there's really a bigger purpose for using your hard earned money wisely.  Giving.  We live on such a fixed income, that handing out cash can sometimes be difficult.  Even though we believe that you can't outgive God (Malachi 3:10-11), we still try to get creative in the manners in which we give.

Couponing is one way that my family is able to give immediately.  We have a small stockpile of items (not extreme).  I maintain a stockpile for two reasons.  Reason #1:  It keeps me from paying full price later on when I need an item.  Reason #2:  When circumstances arise, I shop my own unused items and donate.

{Photo from ABC News: AP}

As Steven and I watched the footage of the devastation from a massive tornado in Joplin, MO my heart sank.  Parents with their little children walking in the rain with no where to go, nothing to eat, no shoes, no way to get out of town until the light of day arrives 10 hours later.  I can't even imagine what that would be like.

Right now my stockpile is not large, and I'm wishing I was a hoarder like on Extreme Couponing so I could unleash a HUGE stockpile on these people.  Since I don't, I'm asking for your help.  Joplin, MO is so close to us, there are many organizations that are making 'runs' up to the area.  Please, please, please pull your extra items and give.  You will bless others in a time of need, and in return you will be blessed...

Luke 6:38 Give and it shall be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Seriously, I have lived this.  My life is this verse.  In a time where we make less money than we did when we were first married, we see the benefits and rewards of being a giver.  Not giving actually frightens me.  For the measure you use, it will be measured to you...I don't want people to be stingy with me, so I don't want to be stingy with others.  Strangers or not.  Go ahead.  Try out this giving stuff.  You'll love it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Monday

This is one of those weeks where your thankful for good friends, family, and neighborhood simply because they provide you dinner.  It's the little things in life that appease me.  I also like large sums of money, so feel free to throw some my way.  Seriously.  When writing out your check, you spell million M-I-L-L-I-O-N...just trying to help you out.  You know me, Mrs. Helpful!

Back to the matter at hand, dinner.  Three nights this week, I will not be cooking dinner.  Nope, not I.  I will be wined and dined by the Casa de Torres, Casa de Jones, and our neighborhood block party.  Feel free to check out other weekly menus under the 'Menu' label in the right hand column for more ideas.  Ya' know, in case you've actually have to prepare all your meals this week.

Monday-Ultimate Club Sandwiches, Sweet Potato Fries, and Fruit Salad
Tuesday-Dinner @ Rene and Lindsay's (Casa de Torres)
Wednesday-Hamburgers and Chips with Pineapple Salsa
Thursday-Grilled Chicken, Mac-N-Cheese, Spinach Salad with Peppers and Feta Cheese
Friday-Dinner @ the Jones' (Thank you, Jamie)
Saturday-Annual Block Party
Sunday-Bacon Chicken Roll-Ups, Zucchini Cakes, Steamed & Broiled Asparagus

I hope you have a wonderfully blessed week.  I know I will.  When you expect great things (like million $ checks), you get great things.  I'm expecting great things for you too.  So here's to a mailbox full of surprises.  Who knows, you might just get a little surprise just like I received from JLP.  Thank you JLP for blessing me!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easy Chicken Pockets

I had Mexican Casserole on the menu this week, but I didn't want to eat that last night so I made something new.  I really wanted stir fry, but didn't want to take the time to cook in the wok.  Pure laziness.  Instead I found an idea in one of my cooking magazine.  They wrapped up a chicken breast with some veggies in aluminum foil and threw it on the grill. Yes-sir-ree, that's my kind of dinner.  The kind with virtually no clean up.  Be. Still. My. Heart.  So here's what I did...

I seasoned boneless skinless chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Then I tossed on some chopped onion and bell pepper.  Drizzled a little soy sauce.  Folded it up.  Threw it on the grill for 20 minutes, then flipped over the foil for another 10 minutes, and served with brown rice. It was the most simple, delicious, fastest clean up I've ever done.  The possibilities with this are endless.  Shrimp, fish, chicken, different seasonings, marinades...I could go on and on, but I won't.  You all have lives outside of this here blog.  I'll let you get back to them.  See you next week!

Happy Cooking!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

She's the Best

I know everyone thinks their grandma is the best, but yours is going to have to take a back seat to mine.  Sorry.  My grandma is hands down the best woman ever.  I could listen to her stories of growing up in the depression, yet still having a giving heart for hours.  She looks to bless others always.  She's a great example of how we all ought to live.

Knowing all this about her, I shouldn't have been surprised when she called me a few months back and offered me her full set of Frankoma Plainsman Prairie Green dishes.  She began collecting this particular collection of Frankoma Pottery when she was my age.  Piece by piece, she was able to put together an entire set.  Many of the pieces are difficult to find today, but she searched flea markets all over to find them all.  As we packed the pieces to make the move to our home, she told me how she came about finding her first pieces, the plates, all the way until she collected the last accent pieces. 

Even though these dishes come with a great value, it's the stories and memories that are priceless.  I have a little bit of my grandma that I will get to keep forever, and eventually will pass them along to Little Miss.  I get a little emotional thinking about the legacy that has been passed down. It's not just about the plates we eat on or what butter dish we scrape from, but the memories of time spent together at the dinner table.  Grandma, thank you for choosing me to house your Frankoma.  I love them almost as much as I love you.

Without further ado, I give you my newest collection of Frankoma Pottery...
 {Tea Pot with Cream and Sugar Bowls}

 {The basic plates, bowls, butter dish, and serving platters}

{Pitchers and Vase}

Not pictured: the most adorable coffee mugs ever.  I didn't take their picture because you would be insanely jealous.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My First Time

While you sleepy heads are enjoying your morning coffee and reading this here blog, I am out making some money, er- saving money.  In fact I'm saving in a whole new way this morning.  I'm hittin' up the Harp's Double Coupon Event in Tulsa.  Each month, Harp's, has a double coupon event.  I've never been before, but today was my day.  I spent a considerable amount of time preparing for this trip.  I'm hoping to spend under $20 and stock up on some much needed items.

Since I don't know their everyday store prices, I have my high value coupons listed.  In front of the coupon I wrote how many of that coupon I have, and after the coupon I have what the total savings would be after the coupon doubles.  This way as I'm hunting down my deals, I can decide if I want to purchase an item or not.

Yes, I have issues.  It's okay if you noticed.  I'm well aware.  No, I don't mind if you point it out.   However, if you find these pictures helpful, I regret to inform you that you too have issues.  Sorry 'bout it.

I have my coupons listed out this way so I can shop efficiently.  For example, when hitting the condiment aisle all I have to do is look at the price of Kraft BBQ Sauce.  If it's around $1, I'll get 2 bottles because two coupons each double up to $.90.  I'm good with spending $.10/bottle.  That's my plan at least.  It could all go you-know-where in a handbag real fast if the prices are high.  In that case, I will tuck my tail between my legs and whimper all the way home, and don't think I won't.  Savings are a big deal to me.

UPDATE:  I have returned from Harp's with a few lessons learned. 

Lesson 1:  If you want all the deals you're scoping out, be there when they open.  The freebies I was hunting were already gone 2 hours after opening.

Lesson 2:  Leave the kids at home.  Both my little nuggets did great, but after standing in line for over an hour they were getting tired and I was running out of entertaining ideas.  It's amazing what a pair of socks can do in a pinch.  I'm fairly certain the other customers thought I was a few eggs shy of a dozen.

Lesson 3:  Just because a coupon doubles does not mean you have a good deal.  I was pretty shocked at the stuff in people's carts.  For example, one lady was stocking up on Cheerios.  Each box was $4.69.  She had -$.75 coupon that would double to -$1.50.  Great double, but expensive cereal.  She was still paying $3.19/box.  Had she waited until cereal went on sale to $2.50 (through a competitor ad), and used her coupon she would have only paid $1.75 instead of $3.19.  It's important to be aware of original prices before heading out.

Here's my small purchase...
Not much but, all of it was either free or under a $1, except the diapers.  Those puppies were $5.69 (still a good deal).  I'm ready for the day that Little Miss can hold her pee overnight, but still thankful she's daytime potty trained.  Overall I'm happy I participated in the deals, but I do plan on switching up my strategy next time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo, have you read it yet?  If you're a Christian, it's a must read.  An emotional read, but a must.  I picked this one up on our drive home from Springfield, MO and finished it in under 2 hours.  Granted it's only 150 some odd pages, but it's the content that clutches your heart.  The descriptions you've heard all throughout the Bible are accurately retold through a four year old child recalling his time there.  Amazing is just about the only word I can think to describe what I read, but that doesn't do it justice.  At all.  Go.  Read it.  You'll look at your children differently.

If you're a reader of this blog and you're super skeptical of this book, I can understand that.  Here's a story retold by a child's father.  There is a huge possibility to get it wrong here.  A possibility a father just made this stuff up.  Then you read the book.  You read events that were not known to this child, Colton, yet he knew they happened.  We're talking goose pimple moments.  Moments the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  Seriously, put your skepticism aside and just read it.  I'm curious to know your thoughts.

 However, since I am a believer, this book did nothing more than inspire me.  Over the years I have had two incidents where people have asked, "What if you're wrong?  What if you're actually believing in a huge lie?"  I don't get offended in this question.  I think it's natural for non-believers to wonder about whether God does or does not exist. 

Thankfully, I have a really solid answer.  If I'm wrong, if I'm living out this life for a God that isn't there, I still do not feel I've wasted my time on this earth.  Instead I invested in bettering others.  I've been through a journey of looking to bless others over blessing myself. I've learned to walk through a fire, despite the nay-sayers, and come through refined.  If all that is considered a waste, then I'm pleased to have wasted my life.  Fortunately for me, I've been through too many circumstances to know that God is there.  And after reading Heaven Is For Real, it makes my soul yearn for the time where I will stand in front of God and see all His Glory.  Nope, I'm not wasting my life.  I'm working to be a better me.  One who can stand in front God and hear, "Well done good and faithful servant."  I'm not there yet, but that's my goal.  What's yours?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Menu Monday & Pantry Shopping

I plan on hitting up the Harp's Double Coupon Event this week.  Since I've never shopped this event, I decided to spend as little as possible from this week's grocery budget.  This means I had to shop the pantry, and figure out what recipes would cost the least amount to make.  I'm in high hopes that Harp's will give me some extreme savings for stocking up on staples and snacky foods, but I just don't know.  I'll be sure to report back to you how it went.  Until then, here's my pantry shopping menu...

Monday-BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Homemade Fries
Tuesday-Poppyseed Chicken Bake, Peas, Parker Rolls
Wednesday-Baslamic Bowtie Pasta and Honey Butter Bread
Thursday-BBQ Meatballs, Baked Potatoes, Broc-N-Cheese Casserole
Friday-Mexican Casserole with Corn Saute
Saturday-Dinner with the Frey's and Hunley's
Sunday-Hamburger's, Trees and Raisins, and Fruit Salad

If this menu doesn't fit your needs, try searching previous menus by clicking 'Menus' under the 'Labels' tab.  I hope you have a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Family *Therapy* Fun

For almost 2 months Little Man prayed to get one of these...
After seeing his persistence, Steven and I got him one for Easter.  I'm not sure who loves it more, Little Man or Steven and me.  It's quite the addicting toy.  We even set up a target on the back door for us Little Man to practice on. 

Seeing we are a super competitive family, everyday chores are easily turned into bets, competition, and wagers.  Here are some examples of our family fun...

Nobody likes to clean up after dinner.  Technically, the clean-up process should fall under 'Steven's Chore List', but since staying home, I've become pretty lax on him.  So one night I asked him to do the duty.  He turns to me and says, "I'll shoot you for it.  Best 2 out of 3."  I'm not one to turn down a little friendly competition so I agreed.  He set up a water bottle at the end of the couch.  Whoever hit the bottle more times out of 3 would be the winner.  The loser had to clean up.  Unfortunately, we both suck so neither one of us actually hit the target.  However, I got the closest.  I was declared the winner.  Steven, well, he was the loser.  He hates to be called a loser.

The above example is not even my favorite.  This next story is free therapy, and my favorite game ever. 

Last week, Little Man, Chunky Monkey, and Little Miss were driving me mad.  I think someone slipped them a 5 hour energy drink in their sippy cups.  They were on non-stop destruction mode.  My only defense was heading outside.  Obstacle course after obstacle course, they were still going strong.  That's when a gigantic light bulb went off.  I ran inside, grabbed the bow and arrows and instructed the kids to line up at the neighbors fence line.  The object of the game was to run to the other side of the yard without being hit with an arrow.  Yep, my own little moving targets.  Apparently my aim had improved cause I nailed each one of them in the booty.  They laughed hysterically, and it was a super stress reliever for me.  My moving targets finally pooped out on me after 30 minutes.

When Steven got home for work, Little Man was trying to explain the rules of the game, but wasn't doing it justice.  Soooo, I told Steven I would show him.  Being the obedient man he is, Steven lined up at the fence and darted across the yard.  I think he pulled some Jedi moves because I missed.  That got me burning.  Next trip across the yard, I missed again.  It was war.  On the third trip, I pulled back hard aimed a few feet in front of his body and WHAM!  I nailed him right in the back of the neck.  Oops. 

He wasn't really thrilled.  I think there were some tears.  Not really, but tears would have made the story so much better.  Sadly, it was my turn to be the moving target.  He got me on the arm the second time across.  It didn't hurt.  My pain tolerance is way higher.  I am thoroughly convinced this is why I had two babies and he didn't.

There you have it.  My very best family fun game.  I look for this to be the next big thing in family therapy sessions.  Oh you don't agree with me?  Let's take it outside.  I'll show you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our New Sprinkler System

When we built our house we had "X" amount of dollars to spend.  Instead of rolling the extras into our mortgage, we decided to pay out of pocket for anything we opted to upgrade.  When it came time to make the decision to put in a sprinkler system or purchase the most beautiful stove ever, Steven told me to get the stove.  Yep, he's pretty much awesome.  Well, a year later he finally got his sprinkler system.  It's pretty awesome...

Okay, so maybe this isn't what he had in mind, but the kids love it.  Really he is getting a sprinkler system installed in the front and sides of the house, but not for the back.  There's way too much that goes on back there.  I can just see a kid knocking sprinkler heads off over and over and over.  So no sprinkler system back there yet.  Anyway, this new little gadget my mom bought for the kids (with coupons...65% off) is the best little watering thing ever.  What's not awesome is when you go to fix one of the wiggly arms and you get shot in the face with water.  Precisely why I don't put make-up on during the week.  Precisely.

On a completely unrelated note, check out Little Miss in the background.  Sucking thumb...check.  Finger in belly button...check.  I think this is going in her senior year slideshow.  Classic Little Miss. 

Now for the most precious shot ever.  The best cuddle bugs around.  My precious babies were freezing after the sun took a dip behind the clouds.  I just want to jump into that towel and squeeze them up.

Grandma?  Hey, it's me.  Do you see the plant you gave me behind Little Miss?  Could you please tell me why its leaves are wilting?  I keep the soil well watered and it only receives morning sunlight.  What am I doing wrong?  Love you!

I Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

I love Thursdays.  It's the only morning we all wake up and have to be somewhere on time.  It motivates me to get my booty in gear.  Kids up, fed, dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, and out the door for a long morning of gymnastics.  Yes, we're there for back to back classes.  One for Little Man and one for Little Miss.  You'd think I'd dread Thursdays, but it's my favorite weekday.  The kids get in some great exercise and I get some adult time.

While the kids are doing their thing, I do mine.  The first 30 minutes, I get to shoot the breeze with other SAHM's.  The other hour and a half I get tortured by the workout guru, Miranda Burcham. During her workouts, I say very bad things in my head.  After her workouts, I think she hung the moon.  She knows how to whip you into shape.  I do it so I won't look like I did last year on the beach.  Check me out.  I'm the one in the lime green bikini...

However, the size of my bum is not the main subject today.  It's the first 30 minutes of my gabfest.  Some weeks ago, the most precious mommy with the most precious little girls struck up a conversation about couponing and cooking.  Of course my eavesdropping ears perked right up and I suction cupped myself to her.  She had brought up two of my favorite subjects.  Anyway, she was just starting the couponing thing and I was telling her tips I've learned over the last year.  Then she shared with me a new cooking website that she loves...Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

I checked it out.  I liked it.  Of course, good ol' Mel is not my BFF Ree Drummond, but there were some fabulous recipes on her site.  I grabbed one and threw it on my menu.  It was the Oven Baked Chimichangas.  I had every intention following this recipe to a 'T'.  The problem is I got a wild hair earlier in the week and used all my chicken breasts for another recipe.  Oops.  That meant no Oven Baked Chimichangas for moi. Or did it?  I did have ground turkey meat.  Ah yes!  The Los Chimichangas live on (I've been reading way too much Skippyjon Jones)!

So here's what I did, and let me say, they were muy delicioso!
  • I used the exact same recipes as Mel's Kitchen Cafe except I used 1 lb ground turkey and added a 1/2 packet of taco seasoning after the meat was cooked.
  • My chimichangas also took 15 minutes to bake instead of the 5-8 recommended. I wanted mine really crispy.
And that my friends is it.  Maybe one day I'll be able to leave recipes well enough alone, but somehow I severely doubt it.  I'm way too controlling for that ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walmart's Coupon Policy & The Gift of Time

Go here to print Walmart's Coupon and Competitor Ad Policy

On the far right side of the screen you can download the pdf for the coupon and competitor ad policy.

I used to think the only way to give was to give money or gifts.  As I've grown older and wiser, I've realized the gift of time can be just as fruitful if you manage it right.

About a month ago, I was asked to speak at a church about couponing.  It was a really great experience, and it allowed me to get over my fear of public speaking in front of adults.  Since I didn't sweat profusely through the entire event, I decided to ask my Facebook friends if they were interested in learning how to use coupons.  I seriously thought there would be maybe 10 people max who were interested.  To my surprise a little over 40 people responded and about 30 showed up.

Since I learned how to coupon by reading blog after blog and site after site, I wasn't going to ask for people to pay me for free knowledge.  After all, I am no expert.  I just know how I cut my bill in half.  So instead, I asked each person to bring one or more tolietry item(s) that would go to Arms Around BA.  I was so blown away when I gathered all the donations. 

Here are the details of all the donations...
  • 3 packages of toliet paper
  • 1 roll of paper towels
  • 1 Kleenex box
  • 4 tubes of toothpaste
  • 3-2 pack toothbrushes
  • 2-6 packs of bar soap
  • 12 deoderants
  • 2 bottles of lotion
  • 1 mouthwash
  • 11 body washes
  • 2 loofah's (not pictured)
I never imagined this much would be collected.  A big thank you to the ladies who attended the couponing event.  I really appreciate each of your generous hearts.  Your gifts are going to bless people you may never meet, yet you still gave.

Now, for my little message.  Maybe you don't have all the resources to put together a donation like this with your own finances, but you have a skill that others could benefit from by simply giving your time.  Time is precious, but what could you do if you gave some of yours to benefit others?

There are so many needs in our communities.  Wouldn't it be great if we all made the decision to impact an organization in our community regularly?  Maybe it's your local food bank, maybe it's your child's school, maybe it's your neighbor.  Just get out there, find your niche, and bless others.  I promise, it will come back and bless you in ways you could never imagine possible.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menu Monday

Because I waited until the last minute, I'm typing out this week's menu on Mother's Day.  You would think I would get my act together earlier in the weekend to knock this stuff out, but I don't.  I go on vacation mode.  Then Sunday rolls around and I freak out!  So here I am sitting in my unmade bed on a Sunday afternoon typing out my menu.  I realize this is TMI (too much information) for you, but I'm hoping that you don't care.
Realistically, most of you probably skip over all this mumbo-jumbo to get to what you need, then if you have time later you come back and read this nonsense.  At least that's what I do.  Oh snap!  I just outed myself.  Er, I meant to say, "I read every word of every page of every bit of information I'm reading,"  Okay, I'm totally lying.  I'm a major skimmer, but who cares.  Here's the menu...

Monday-Homemade pizza using this crust and this sauce, with Mixed Herbs Salad
Tuesday-Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken Quarters, Wild Rice, with Steamed Veggies
Wednesday-Baked Chicken Breasts, Raw Peppers with Hummus, and Corn on the Cob
Thursday-Meatloaf Miniatures, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn
Friday-A Special Visit
Saturday-Another Special Visit
Sunday-Dinner at my MIL's

I betcha noticed I'm only cooking 4 days this week.  I know, you're jealous.  I understand.  Have a great week!

Coming up this week on Torres Tidbits...
  • Ways to give without spending a dime and Walmart's Coupon/Competitor Ad Policy
  • Our new sprinkler system
  • My version of baked Chimichangas
  • A family friendly game your sure to love

Friday, May 6, 2011

Man Date

Steven took off work one day this week to take Little Man to his first baseball game.  Now, I realize I get to do a whole lot with the kids while Steven's working, but it was still hard to miss out on one of Little Man's 'firsts'.  As I packed my boys up for their outing, I made Steven promise to take pics.  He did.  He's a good, good man.  I am fully convinced when Carrie Underwood wrote Mama's Song, she had my man in mind. 

Back to the point.

Looking through all the pictures I was so thankful that Steven took the time to have a man date with his only son.  Unfortunately my lovely, wonderful, giving, precious husband indulged my baby boy a little too much.  Check out the loot from the day...
{A gigantic finger}

{Nacho Cheese Doritos}


 Editior's Note:  Amanda Torres was not happy about the pop, but after much counseling she has come to terms with the consumption of pop.  Just don't bring it up around her.  Talking behind her back is acceptable in situations such as this. 

{Big League Chew}

{Steven wanted to be sure I got the full effect of the gum}

{Yes.  There it is. Cotton Candy.} 

I'm so glad I taught Little Man to make good healthy choices.  I really can't complain though.  They both had a fabulous time together.  Memories made.  Good times.  I had some good times also.  Good times brushing Little Man's teeth like nobody's business and pumping him full of fruits and vegetables.  I should have taken pictures of that!  Instead, I'll close with the good stuff.  Little Man with one of the game balls the first baseman tossed his way, and my men.  One little and one big, but I love them both!

{Moment of Silence required for observing my man's biceps}

Okay, we can continue...
Nighty-night Little Man. 
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tired, Tired Parents

Recently we went to Little Man's baby buddy's birthday party.  I say baby buddy, because Little Man and "L" have been buds since Little Man was 9 months old and "L" was 4 months old.  Can I just say I love birthday parties?  I realize I'm with a dying breed, but I still view birthday parties as a celebration of a child's life.  We make every effort to attend parties.  To celebrate the life of some of your best friends' children is heartwarming. 

What is not heartwarming is how haggard we parents look at this party.  When I was tagged into the party pics, I about died.  Steven and I, along with Jeff and Kristi (my high school pal), look like we are the most miserable people in the world.  This couldn't be further from the truth, but they say photos don't lie.

With enthusiasm as such, you should invite this pleasant gang to all your parties.  We are for hire. 
You know, to excite your other guests.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

It's Teacher Appreciation Week.  I think teachers live for this week.  L-I-V-E.  Mainly because it's about 20 days out from the end of the year.  If you have never experienced the end of the year as a teacher in a classroom setting, consider yourself lucky.  Yes, Teacher Appreciation Week is strategically planned at the end of the year so teachers remember that it really is worth it.

All kidding aside, have you thanked your child's teacher?  You don't have to do it with gifts.  Kind words go a long way.  A kind word from your child goes an extra long way.  If you are searching for that perfect gift though, here are some suggestions from a long list of gifts that were my absolute favorites...
  • A bouquet of small value gift cards...$5 to Hobby Lobby, Mardel, Apple Tree, QT, and Panera
  • A basket full of my favorites...Post-It Notes,  Dr. Pepper, Jelly Belly's, Trident Gum, New Ball Point Pens, and a picture of me with the class
  • A single rose from each child in the class.  When the kids brought me a rose, they also told me their favorite memory from the year.  I cried.  Tearing up now just thinking about it.
  • A Brighton Key Chain
  • Personalized Stationary
  • Earrings...lots of earrings!
  • A hanging basket of begonias
There were so many over the years, but I do have a stand out favorite.  One that made me cry as soon as it was opened. 

My very first year of teaching (those kids are graduating this year despite me), I had a little girl who was the outcast of the entire school.  The year prior to her being in my class, I would see her reading on the playground. Not playing.  Just reading.  It made me sad.

When I became her teacher in fourth grade, that reading she did every single day at recess made me hurt even more.  She didn't know how to read.  Her book was a cover.  A cover for her loneliness.  Awful.  Simply awful.  A child who couldn't read would take a book out to recess, hide in a corner, and pretend.  Once I found that out, it stopped immediately.  I started looking for the kids in the class who had tender hearts and starting pairing them up at recess.  At first it was awkward.  I even went out to play with them to be sure it was authentic.  Over time, a few of the kids began to ask her to play without prompting. 

I'm not sure if this was what made her decision to give me a gift or not, but she gave the best gift ever.  This little girl was extremely immature for her age.  She often brought toys to school that Kindergartners would bring. Most of the time those toys ended up on my desk, but only one stayed there permanently.

The very last day of Teacher Appreciation Week, this little girl wrapped up her most prized toy in aluminum foil and gave it to me.  I tried to give it back knowing how much it meant to her.  She refused.  After she walked away, my heart sank. 

I still have the little Beanie Baby in my attic along with the other little trinkets I was given throughout the years.  They all have a story, a memory, tied to them.  Some funny, some sentimental, but none as touching as the little girl's.

So no matter how big or small the gift, please show appreciation for the men and women who care for your children as much as they care for their own.

To my former staff, I hope you have the best week.  I cherish the time I worked with each one of you.  The work you do to better children is amazing. Thank you for being the teachers and women you are to each person who comes in contact with you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5 Things

I'm sitting here watching Dancing With the Stars.  Alone.  Completely Alone.  I'm rarely in the house alone.  It feels weird.  As I'm watching Kirstie Alley cry over dancing it makes me think what I would be like if I were on the show.  I don't think I would cry.  I'm not a crier when I get frustrated.  I get mad instead.  Thank you, Mom, for that quality.  Do I need to remind you of the greenhouse we put together Sunday night?

Anyway, the whole Dancing With the Stars thing has me thinking of things I would like to do and things I have done.  Since I often write about topics that are mindless, I thought I'd share.

5 Things I Used To Be Able to Do
  1. The splits
  2. A standing back tuck
  3. The ability to sleep past 9am
  4. Sit alone in my house and feel comfortable
  5. Get up and go without thinking of two little people
5 Things I Have Done
  1. Bungee jump
  2. Ridden on a motorcycle
  3. Pushed out two kids
  4. Danced on a desk to celebrate my students' accomplishments
  5. Ran a 15K (9.3 miles) without stopping
5 Things I Would Like To Do
  1. Skydive
  2. Outdoor repelling
  3. Take a 3 week trip around the world with Steven
  4. Sail in the middle of an ocean for a week
  5. Relearn a standing back tuck (My #1 goal for this year)
There you have it.  The weird quirks about me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Menu Monday

If Steven were Mexican, I'd blame this week's menu on my attempt to 'tap into his roots', but he's not.  He's Puerto Rican.  So I can't use that excuse.  I can, however, blame the menu on Cinco de Mayo.  Yes, that is my inspiration for including two Mexi-meals in one week.  Honestly though, the recipes just looked good and the items were on sale.  Good Recipe + Good Deal = Amanda's True Love.

Monday-Tomato Cream Sauce Pasta, Mixed Greens Salad, and Green Beans
Tuesday-Baked Chicken Topped with Peppers and Feta Cheese, Roasted Potatoes, and Corn Casserole
Wednesday-Oven Baked Chimichangas served with Black Bean Salsa and Corn Saute
Thursday-Grilled Drumsticks, Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin, and Grilled Peppers and Onions
Friday-Mexican Lasagna, Arroz Con Gandules, and Roasted Corn on the Cob
Saturday-Dang Cheese Sandwiches and Homemade Fries
Sunday-Mother's Day...I sure hope Steven has something planned.  Otherwise we will all starve!