Thursday, June 30, 2011

How I Choose My Menu

When talking about couponing a lot of people naturally ask if we eat the cheapest stuff I can find each week.  The answer to that is yes and no.  Yes I look for deals, but no I don't always go with the cheapest items on sale for that week.  Like most people I try to make sure my family eats a well balanced diet like Michelle Obama's new Food Plate...

A lot of times I find some really good deals on junk food.  Even though the junk food is really close to free, I rarely purchase it because I know I'll be paying for it in medical bills later.  I've found that my kids stay healthier when they are well fed with their fruits and vegetables.  Okay, I didn't mean to get off on that tangent, but it sure did came out didn't it?

When choosing my menu for the week this is what I do...

{Please don't judge me on my dirty pantry.  It needs some TLC.}
  • First, I do pantry, freezer, and fridge check.  I take note of what items I have that need to used and/or can be used for the next week's menu.  I have a gigantic binder of recipes that I sometimes reference if I can't think of anything to make with what I have.
  • Next, I check the local sale ads for what's on sale.  If there are lots of fresh vegetables on sale, you can bet our meals are full of veggies...casseroles, grilled veggies, roasted, etc.
  • My final step for completing my menu is a little more difficult.  Since I'm familiar with what prices are for the groceries I typically buy, I begin to piece together meals that fit within my weekly grocery budget.  For example, if there's a new recipe I want to try and I don't have any of the ingredients, then I have to see if I have it in my budget to make it for that week.  Sometimes I have to do a little internet searching for recipes until I find what will fit within my budgets and standards of what I would normally feed my family.
All this does take a bit of time, but like anything you get faster and faster.  It takes me about 10 minutes to make my weekly menu now, and it reaps great benefits.  For one, I already know what we will eat each night so there's no last minute fast food pick ups that compromise what we like to feed our kids.  Don't get me wrong, my kids have had McDonald's.  However, we try to make those outings as treats instead of the norm.

If you are not a menu planner, I really encourage you to try it out.  You'll save yourself a lot of frustration and money.  Doesn't that sound appealing?

Now, for all you seasoned menu makers.  What's your secret?  Anything I'm missing that you could help me with?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Randomness Post

It's late and I have not one brain cell left from this day.  It was a good day, but busy.  Lots of items got checked off the to do list, and a nap happened thus you get a Randomness post.  As Little Man likes to say, "Sorry 'bout it."  Here it goes...

  • Even though I took a 2 hour nap, I'm still tired.
  • It's almost 10 pm and I failed to make the pizza dough for tomorrow night's meal.
  • Nevermind.  I just did it.  It was grating on my nerves.
  • If you haven't tried Mel's Kitchen Cafe's Sweet & Sour Chicken, it's a must.  Perfect doesn't even describe that Chinese dish.
  • I think I'm getting fatter.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the 3/4 cups sugar the sweet and sour sauce contained.
  • At least I'm telling myself that.
  • Obviously I don't learn from past lessons.  A few weeks back I purchased an old sewing table for $15 to turn into a side table.  I thought I'd knock that project out in 2 weeks. 
  • Have I even started on my sewing table project?  Noooooooo.
  • Steven is sitting across from me at the table preparing for his training tomorrow.  He doesn't have a shirt on.  He's just plain hot.  Firguratively, not literally.  He actually looks cold.  I can see it on his nipples.
  • Those naps I've been taking are really cutting into my time to get stuff done.
  • The pool is also cutting into my time to get stuff done.
  • Let's be honest...If something more fun than house cleaning comes up, I'm gonna do it.  My house is a pit right now.
  • Even though the Sweet & Sour Chicken was superb, my house now smells like fried foods.  I hate that.  Not even Scentsy is knocking out that funk.
  • My best pal, Jackie, got me Scentsy for Christmas.  I love that girl.
  • Steven just popped up to go to bed, so I'm headed there too.
  • Hopefully you'll get something intelligible from tomorrow's post.  Ya' know, somethin' ya' can learn from.
  • Get real.  It's just me.  You only stop by here to feel better about yourself.  I can read your minds through the computer.  The thoughts say, "At least I'm not as crazy as Amanda."  It's okay.  I understand.  The voices in my head say the same thing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Gonna Find Out: A Lesson About the Tooth Fairy

Last Friday I was teaching a Coupon Class (with a great bunch of ladies) when some moms started talking about the tooth fairy.  It reminded me of this story from my last year of teaching. It's funny and mean and conniving and well deserved.  Enjoy.

My last year of teaching before staying home was a doozy.  My class was full of fun-loving stinkers.  Precious but ornery.  I loved teaching all seven years, but the last one was challenging to meet all the emotional/behavioral/educational needs of the students.  This has little to do with the story except the stinker of all stinkers is involved in this story.  I still can't believe I did this, but Stinker Stinker Pants had it coming...

8:40 am My Classroom

Mrs. Torres, Mrs. Torres (seeing I'm ignoring him because I'm helping someone else with questions from homework)  Mrs. Tooooooorrrrressss.

Sweet heart, hold on one minute.  You are interrupting.

But this is waaaaay more important.  I lost a tooth.

Go ahead and go down to the nurse and she will give you a tooth holder.

(Stinker Stinker Pants leaves to the nurse's office and returns a few minutes later).

Okay, Mrs. Torres.  Can I tell you now since you wouldn't listen to me earlier?

Yes, you may.  However, I will not listen when you are interrupting.  You have to wait patiently for your turn to speak.  We've talked about this.

I know, but it was an emergency!  Losing my tooth is an emergency. Anyway.  I'm going to find out if the Tooth Fairy is real or not.

(This part was my absolute favorite.  Stinker Stinker Pants was one of the cool kids who sometimes had issues with bullying.  The other kids were tuning in because it's pretty unusual for a 10 year old to still believe in the Tooth Fairy)

You are?  How are you going to do that?

I lost my tooth on the way to school this morning so my mom doesn't know about it.  I'm not going to tell anyone, except you.  Then if I wake up in the morning and there's money, I'll know the Tooth Fairy is real.

Wow, Stinker Stinker Pants.  That's a really good plan.  You'll have to let me know how that works out.

I will!


Good morning, Stinker Stinker Pants, what did you find out about the Tooth Fairy?  Real or not?

Oh totally real!  I had five bucks under my pillow this morning.

Good to know!


I bet you're wondering how his mom found out.  Well, that's where I come in as Queen Stinker Pants.  I emailed his mom about his intricate plan.  I know, it's awful, but did I mention what a little stinker he was in class?  He had it coming.  I'm wondering when he'll figure out I pulled a fast one on him. I doubt in 7th grade, he still believes, but who knows?  He could have had another ornery teacher like me.

I would like to say that no matter how stinker-ish my students were, I loved them no less than my own children now.  Kids are kids and some have a few more battles than others. It's just fun to be able to play with them once in a while.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu Monday

I cannot believe this is the last week of June.  The older I get the faster time flies by me.  My babies aren't so much babies anymore and my 6 pack abs, well, those were two kids ago.  Man, that was the good life.  Walking around with a great set of abs.  Now I do my SIL's trick of pulling my pants over my belly roll when I sit down, and pretend there wasn't anything hanging over to begin with.  I bet you weren't expected to get all that when you directed yourself over here today.  Honestly, I can't believe I just divulged that information so freely and within the first paragraph.  Oh well.  It's just you and I'm just me.

This week's menu has one of the items I posted last week that I wanted to try.  A few comments left by some lovely readers attested to its yumminess (yes, I just made that word up), so we will be having here at the Casa de Torres.  I hope you all have a great week full of sweating to death since it's gonna be a doozy of a week here in our area!

Monday-Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole, Fresh Green Beans, Italian Bread
Tuesday-BBQ Meatballs, Corn Casserole, Peas
Wednesday-Pizza (using this dough and sauce) and Salad
Thursday-Killer Club Sandwiches and Homemade Sweet Potato Fries
Friday-Hamburgers/Hot Dogs and Corn on the Cob
Saturday-Sweet and Sour Chicken, Brown Rice, and Broiled Peppers and Onions
Sunday-Dinner at my mama's

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Last One

I promise this is the last vacation photo.  Finally I've reached the point of acceptance.  Acceptance that I am back to my everday life, but this last photo does my heart a world of good.  All I know is my husband loves his children so deeply.  Little Man is definitely his mini me, and Little Miss has him wrapped around her little finger.  Every time she asked him to go for a walk, he would spring up from his relaxing beach chair to take her.  Precious.  Truly precious.

I wish everyone moments like these.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipes I Want to Try

I have this ongoing list in my head of food I want to try.  Since I'm such a thoughtful gal, I put the list together for you.  If you try one please let me know your thoughts on the dish.

{via Pioneer Woman}

{via Pioneer Woman}

{via Mel's Kitchen Cafe}

Spaghetti Squash
(sorry no photo or recipe...directions straight from a friend)

So apparently I don't have a long list.  Whew!  It feels good to get things down on paper--er--the web.  It made me realize  my 'To Cook' list really isn't lenghtly at all.  It's doable, man.  Totally doable!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Doing a Vacation on a Budget

Never, ever did I think we would take a vacation once I stayed home, but we did.  We took the most amazing vacation.  What can I say?  I'm blessed. 

About a year ago, Steven and I started looking into taking a vacation just the two of us.  The longer we searched we both felt like we would be missing out if we left the kids at home.  Our main goal right now is raising our kids and building a strong family.  Even though a solo trip would have been nice, it just didn't fit our goals.  I'm so glad we made the decision to take the little munchins because they are the ones who made the trip.  Seeing them learn about a new part of the world through all new experiences was simply awesome.  We loved every minute of watching them.

Getting back on track, here's how we saved...

Our Lodging:
We knew we wanted to beach it for the week so once we found a perfect little condo on the beach we took it.  The price was just right at $1350 for the entire week, and my mom and her husband asked if they could join us.  Uh, YES PLEASE!  Who can turn down an extra set of hands and splitting the costs?  Not me!  Since we booked  early we received a discount that brought the condo down to $1050.  There were a few extra costs associated like tax, cleaning fee, and damage deposit (which we will get back), but that's it.  Not to mention the condo supplied all the necessary beach items...towels, umbrellas, chairs, toys, wakeboards, boogie boards, etc.  That saved us on renting or purchasing new.

{Little, but cozy}
Our Meals:
My mom and I  both like to cook so we got together and made a menu for the entire week.  We pulled together what we already had and took most of our own groceries instead of purchasing once we arrived. I'm glad we did, because like we suspected, the grocery prices were outrageous.  We only ate out 3 times.  Mainly because we stayed on the beach all day and didn't leave time to clean up and go into town for dinner.  This saved us also.  The restaurants aren't exactly inexpensive.  One meal of burgers and fries was $60.  Not what I'm used to paying.  We even had 3 ice cream cones that cost $24.  Worth the experience, but I had to resist asking if they had any available coupons ;)

Our Entertainment:
Did I mention we were on the beach?  I realize some people can't do the beach thing all day every day, and my husband is one of them so we rented bikes for 2 full days.  This proved to be the smartest thing we ever did.  We had a blast, got in some much needed exercise, and saw many gated communities that we couldn't just drive through.  It was nice to see how the millionaires live!
{Me, Little Man, Steven, Little Miss, and Michael checking out a new beach after a ride}

 {The coolest little wooden plank riding area.  It was like going on a roller coaster. 
Well at least on the way down.  The way up was a bit more challenging}

Our Travels: 
Brace yourself, folks...we drove!  Yes, we drove the full 15 hours, and it wasn't bad at all.  We broke the trip down to two days down and back.  The kids were mini rock stars during the drive.  Our only stops were for gas and food.  No extra pee stops...except once.  Flying all four of us down to FL would have cost us a little over $2000, plus a rental once we arrived.  Our fuel and hotel (for two nights) cost for driving was only $500. 

 {Now that's some good car sleeping}

{Little Man a little tired}

That's it.  I don't have any other secrets or tips.  Most of the stuff is common knowledge, but it's nice to know you can still take a family of four on vacation for under 2 G's (another means 2 grand or $2,000).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Won't Be The Last

Welp, a good night's rest did not help me at all.  I'm still dreaming of our beach vacation.  The serenity of the ocean and being with my family an entire week straight does my heart good.  Real good.  I enjoyed watching Little Man search for any sign of life in the ocean or sand.  He is a true little hunter at heart.  As for Little Miss, she remained my little dare devil.  Heading straight for waves.  Trying to wake board. Laying down and letting the surf come over her.  She did it all.  She's a girl after my own heart. 

{Click collage to view it larger}

I'm having a little difficulty adjusting to regular life around here so blogging has taken a back seat.  There are so many things I would like to share about our vacation, but I need to find the time to sit down and just write about it.  It's hard to put a full week of awesomeness into words.  I'll get there though.  I do have plans to let you in on how we did a full week's vacation for four for only $1600.  Honestly, it wasn't hard so hopefully you're not looking for some fabulous tips.  Just some plain and simple ones.  However, I can honestly say this was hands down the best vacation I have ever been on.  So relaxing and rewarding.  I think I'll take another one and soon.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Don't ask me what a chicken dinner has to do with a winner.  It's a Steven-ism.  He has some funny expressions.  I'm getting off the beaten path here, so the winners are (chosen by the random number generator)....

F.I.T. Boot Camp Winner
Kelli Miller

Banana Papers Winner

Please shoot me an email to to collect your prize!  Congratulations!

My 'B+ Game' and Menu Monday

Winners for the F.I.T Boot Camp and Banana Papers will be announced at 10am today.

I can't really say I'm on my 'A Game' as my husband puts it, but I would say I'm at a B+.  We just rolled in town yesterday around 4pm from our beautiful Seagrove Beach, FL vacation.  Given that I had emptied out our pantry and fridge before we left, I had some restocking to do.  Grocery shopping, menu making, picture loading, unpacking, whew!  It's some work. 

This is precisely why I did not want to leave the beach.  I'm fairly certain part of my brain is still on that beach.  That's the only reason that explains why I was looking for someone else to make my kids' dinner last night.  Like a slap in the face, I realized it was up to me.  Have no fear. I PB&J'd it.  Since not all of my brain cells have caught up with me I can't have a complete 'A Game'.  Hopefully a good night's rest in my own bed will help out.  Despite my few eggs shy of a dozen, I do have a picture and a menu for you. 

There is only one reason why this pic is so far  I cannot bring myself to post an up close swimsuit picture.  It's just not right.  You all have every right to be able to visit this here blog without upchucking in your own mouth. See, I do think of you all! 

Now here's the menu...

Monday- Pepperjack BBQ Grilled Chicken, Mac-N-Cheese, Fresh Green Beans
Tuesday-Terriyaki Grilled Drumsticks, Broccoli Casserole, Cheesy Biscuits
Wednesday-Pizza and Salad
Thursday-Poor Man's Beef Stroganoff, Peas, Rolls
Friday-Hamburgers, Taco Dip, Corn on the Cob
Saturday-dinner out???
Sunday-Baked Chicken, Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Corn, Mashed Potatoes (you know, Thanksgiving in June)

Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

G-Dawg's Dorito Casserole

G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos is the No. 1 searched recipe from this blog.  It's really no wonder why. They are delicious.  Seeing that I had a week's worth blog post to cover while we are on our secret vacation (or are we on a staycation?), I decided that Ginger needed to share another fabuloso recipe with us all.  I have yet to try this one, but if Ginger recommends it, I'll eat it.  Here it is...

Dorito Casserole1lb hamburger
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can refried beans
1 can enchilada sauce
1 box/pouch Spanish rice, cooked
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded cheese
1 bag cheese doritos, crushed 
  • Brown hamburger with pepper and onion, drain fat.
  • Mix beans, enchilada sauce, rice and about 1 cup of crushed doritos together.
  • Spread into a 9x13 pan.
  • Top with cheese, bake at 350 for 15-20 mins
  • Take out and top with remaining doritos.
  • Bake another 5-10 mins.
Serve with sour cream and salsa!
How yummy easy does that sound?  Thank you Ginger for sharing all your yumminess!
Don't forget to enter the F.I.T. Boot Camp & Banana Papers Giveaways

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Banana Papers Giveaway

I'm fairly certain Jamie of Banana Papers would strangle me with this next giveaway if she still had it in her possession because my photog skills are lacking just a bit.  For some reason, I just couldn't convey all the cuteness this fabric bunting contains.  If I were Ashley Ann of Under the Sycamore I'd find the most inventive way to string this craftiness and take a picture of it, but I'm not. I'm Amanda Torres of Torres Tidbits and it takes me months to finish an old window pane.  Please do not let my lack of skills sway you into not entering this giveaway.

Without further ado, here's what you could win...

A truly one of a kind Red Fabric Bunting from Jamie of Banana Papers.

{Try not to be jealous of the sheer awesomeness of my photos}

Banana Papers' Etsy shop is currently closed because Ms. Jamie is too busy renovating the most adorable house.  When I say adorable, I mean it.  I literally walked from room to room picking my jaw up off the floor admiring her taste and creativity.  I do hope she reopens her store in the future, and I can reassure you I will let you know if she does.  For now, we'll just give away one of her last items.

In order to win this Red Fabric Bunting* you need to answer one question by leaving a comment on this blog or the link that posts to Facebook.  If you get it wrong, you get disqualified.  No pressure, right?  Okay here's the question...

What color underwear am I wearing right now?

Kidding!  I wouldn't do that to you (or me).  I really want to know...

If you win this giveaway, what do you plan to do with it?

I always marvel at other people's ideas when it comes to decorating, so fess up.  I want to know details people. 

*Giveaway ends Sunday, June 19th @ midnight. Winner will be announced on Monday, June 20th

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Guest Post From...Good Girl Gone Glad

Hi there everyone!
 I'm Jesse from Good Girl Gone Glad and am excited to be here today guest posting for Amanda!

What do you do with all of that special art work your sweet little ones make for you? Well today I am going to give you some ideas. I am a big fan of making large gallery walls of photos, like this one.

{via pure style}

 Why not take that same concept, large or small, and use our children's art. I have a small area in my hallway, but I think this would be fun wall decor if you have a game room. It add such life to any space.


I know frames can get pricey, so another options is making an art line. You can make one super simple with a line of twine or ribbon and some clothes pins.


Last summer at my twins birthday party we made handprints on small flat canvases. I really wanted a fun way to display them so I took large clothes pins and cut some command strips to size and attached them to the back of each clothes pin. Hung them on the wall as a fun way to display the hand prints. {Easy removal with the command strips too}

And if you have some photo editing software you might be able to whip up something like this. Where you can combine 18 pictures into 1.

I don't know about you but seeing all of the sweet little things they make puts a smile on my face. Why not have it out where you can enjoy it?


Monday, June 13, 2011

F.I.T. Boot Camp Giveaway

I'm not gonna lie.  I don't enjoy working out.  I enjoy the feeling after working out, but not the feeling during.  A couple months back I began taking a boot camp class with Miranda Burcham.  Miranda is known in our area as the personal trainer for Danny Cahill, Broken Arrow, OK's Biggest Loser Winner.  Shortly after I began her classes she had a short blonde cutie pie sub for her.  I really didn't think there would be anyone who could work me as hard as Miranda, but I stood corrected. Erica of F.I.T Boot Camp killed my arms, legs, and abs.  She has me up and running at 6am two times during the week.

I can fully attest that Erica knows how to motivate, encourage, and work your body like nobody's business.  Even though this is her business, she takes a very personal interest in all of her clients.  With that said, when I asked Erica if she would be willing to donate one week's worth of boot camps sessions, she said, "How about 2 weeks?"  She how great she is!

Here are the details of what ONE lucky winner will receive...

A two week pass to F.I.T Boot Camp. You can attend all or any of the four weekly classes.  Classes are held in Broken Arrow @ the Renaissance Park Practice Fields (33rd and 204th). 
Class times are as follows:

Mon: 5:30 am-6:15 am
Tues: 7:30 pm-8:15 pm
Wed: 5:30 am-6:15 am
Thurs: 7:30 pm-8:15 pm

To enter this giveaway, you need to answer this question...

"On a scale of 1-10, how's your workout routine been lately? 
0=Non-existent, and 10=I'm ready for that Ironman

You can leave a comment on this blog OR on the link that posts on Facebook (I know many of you say it's hard to post on here).  Contest ends Sunday, June19th @ midnight.  Winner will be announced Monday, June 20th.

If you are interested in contacting Erica to join her summer special, you can email her at

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Final Clue...

The THREE previous posts have the other clues to help you figure out where in the world the Torres' are vacationing.  If you've identified the flags and birds correctly, you should have our location narrowed down to 3 states.  Here's the final clue...

The state we will be spending time in has this for a state tree...

{S-b-l  -a-m}

Okay Peeps, where are we???

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Some More Clues For You

realize it's Saturday, but here are some more clues to our final vacation destination location (that was a whole lotta 'tion' words).  I hope you studied up on your state facts!

The State Bird of our vacation state is one of these three birds (I even gave you some of the letters in case you don't know your birds)...




If you identified the flags and birds correctly, you should have it narrowed down to three states.
Whatcha got?

Friday, June 10, 2011

When You Need Your Mama

My wonderful, loving, handsome husband is out of town on business.  Yes, he's out of town the day before we leave for our family vacation.  I love the man dearly, but this trip (although not his fault) has really thrown me for a loop.  Packing, cleaning, packing, cleaning, laundry, shopping, packing, cleaning pretty much sums up my last 24 hours.  This packing a family of four stuff alone is for the birds, not for me.

When I get to the point where I don't think I can handle it anymore, I do what any self respecting woman does.  I call my mama.  She likes to listen to me.  Wellll, maybe not 'likes', but she does.  She gives me sympathy at the right time, and then reminds me that my husband is awesome and takes his side.  Yes, she loves him a whole lot more than me.  I can understand why.  I guess.

Enough of my grumbling.  I really need to finish packing...and cleaning...and that last stinkin' load of laundry.  However, I want to leave you with one final clue.  We will be in one of these five states...

I sure hope you know your state flags well enough to narrow it down!  Sorry, the school teacher in me just can't reveal answers. I have to make you think.  I may even throw out some hints of other state facts so time to study up!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Don't forget to check back here next week for some giveaways, decorating ideas, a new recipe, and my vacation reveal.  I will miss you all dearly.  So much so I may even cry myself to sleep.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Not Fair

Earlier this week I mentioned we were going on vacation in the near future.  It really wasn't fair that I didn't tell you where we were going, and I only left you with one pic of where weren't going.  Since I hate being unfair I thought I'd give you a few more clues.  Next week I'll give you the big reveal. Yes, I'm going to make you wait that long.  I love the suspense of it all.  For all you know I could be going to the next town down the road, OR I could be going somewhere exotic.  The fact of the matter is I am going somewhere with my little family and I am excited, but here are a few places you can rule out as our vacation destination. 

We are not going here...
I've never been to France, but I'd like to go.  Someday.  Someday. Someday, but not this day.  We are also not going to be here...

I can't really say that I've dreamed about going to China, but if someone offered to send me I'd go in a heartbeat.  Somehow traveling to China doesn't sound fun with a four and two year old.  This next place would be fun with my little chitlins, but we're not going here either...

This will probably be our next big vacation.  I'll have to start saving my pennies for this trip.  We'll want to cram in as much as possible, and as much as possible isn't free.  However, I'm confident I won't pay an arm and a leg to do it.  Too frugal.  Speaking of frugal, I did get a good deal on this trip.  No, I'm still not telling you where we're going.  Not until next week.  I may even post pics of our drive.  There's a clue for you...we are within driving distance.

I also have some other exciting news for you.  Since I plan on not taking my computer, I do have a list of upcoming posts for you.  You will want to check them out.  Here's what's on the schedule...
  • A DIY, decorating guest post from Jesse @ Good Girl Gone Glad
  • A giveaway from Banana Papers (this is pretty exclusive because Jamie of Banana Papers has closed her store indefinitely, but handed over one of her very last items)
  • G-Dawg, who introduced us all to G-Dawg's Stuffed Burritos, has another recipe up her sleeve
  • A giveaway from F.I.T Boot Camp
  • AND, the big reveal of our vacation location!  I know, contain your excitement folks.
As for tomorrow, I'll be dishin' out a few more vacation clues!  If you guess our location, I'll give you a million dollars.  If you actually believe that, then I'll give you 2 million dollars.  If you actually believe that, then you are super duper gullible.  I will not be handing out any cash!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finding My Balance

Somedays I'm like this...

I'm not just balancing my day well, but I'm holding my own.  I'm marking things off my to-do list, keeping the kids busy with learning activities, and my house is immaculately clean.  I get my workout in, and I have my own quiet time.  On days like these, I feel accomplished, successful, and jealous. Jealous of my own awesomeness. 

Then I have days like this...

Days where I haven't completely fallen out of balance, but I'm close.  My to-do list is pretty long, but I'm getting some things done.  The kids are playing well, but I'm not teaching them.  I haven't worked out, but I've had my quiet time.  My house is not totally clean, but it's not filthy.  Overall it's a ho-hum day, but it feels like I could fall off the edge of sanity at any moment.  These kind of days used to drive me crazy, but now I'm used to them.  Used to them because I never had experienced days like this...

Days when I've completely fallen off.  My house is a mess, I'm not as patient with the kids as I should be, I haven't worked out, I haven't had my quiet time, and I haven't been the person I know I should have been.  Before kids I never knew I could have days like this.  Now, I've come very familiar with them.  Until now.  I'm changing up my routine.

Last week this little ball of dynamite started a running group for our neighborhood.  Erica, creator of F.I.T Boot Camp, has me getting up at 5:45am to run 3 miles on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings.  I am not a morning person, but I have to say getting up early with a run gets my day started out right.  I'm way more productive because I have time to accomplish tasks before the kids even wake up.  Before the kids were my alarm clock.  I used to think getting up earlier would leave me exhausted the rest of the day, but it's the complete opposite.  I have the energy to make it through successfully.

So here's to waking up early and tackling that to-do list.  Here's to staying on track.  Here's to keeping my balance and looking great while doing it. See, now that I've written this little pep talk out, I have to live it.  I just have one question for you...

How's your balance?  Seriously.  I want to know!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Heart Summer

I'm not sure if it's the teacher in me, but we do some major relaxing in the summertime.  Normally the kids are in the bath by 8 and asleep by 9, but numerous times this week the kids have been in the bath by 9 and bed by 10.  Yikes.  However, when they're running around with the neighbor kids in and out of sprinklers, I just can't make 'em come in.  They're just too cute in their little swimsuits. 

Over the weekend our neighbor brought over an extra slip-n-slide.  Little Man remembers doing the slip-n-slide down the big hill at my mom's, so he was stoked.  Little Miss was excited because her brother was excited.  She didn't know what is going on.  Fortunately, she's a smart cookie.  Once the hose came out she knew what was coming next.  That little thang ran inside and got her swimsuit.  I just love her.

Anyway, it was a few degrees shy of 90 at about 9:30am yesterday.  That classifies the day as A Stinkin' Hot Day, which in turns allows for the slip-n-slide to come out in the morning.  The 3 rugrats had a blast.  Here's a snap shot of their day. 

If you're wondering where the pics are of me, well I'm fairly certain you would become permanently blind to the second degree if you caught a glimpse of me in my swimsuit.  The first degree would come from the sheer shock of me in a 2 pc, and the second degree would be seeing all this whiteness.  Man, it sure would be nice to be a Rican!
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Menu Monday

It's been a wonderful weekend.  We are so blessed to have most of our family 25 miles of our driveway.  Since we all live so close, the kids got to see almost all of their grandparents.  Plus, Steven detailed my car.  Wash, wax, vacuum, he even took out both car seats. 

We're getting ready to embark on a very long road trip.  The kids are mini rock stars on road trips so we're actually looking forward to it.  Next week, I'll share where in the world we will be, but in the meantime I have half a week's worth of menu items.   I'm trying to wean you off my elaborate menus (insert sarcasm) 'caue next week, you're on your own.  Don't say I didn't warn you. 

If you're having a mini-panic attack, don't.  I have two solutions for you.  Solution #1: Click on the previous weekly menus under the 'Labels' tab.  There is almost 52 weeks worth of menus.  Hard to believe I've posted what we eat for almost a year.  Even harder to believe that most of you check in on Mondays to see. One of these days, I'm going to throw you for a loop and put something disgusting on a Poo-Poo Platter. OR, you can do Solution #2:  Visit my future BFF's recipe page.  If I were you I'd visit PW's page, but you don't have to worry about that right now.  You have half of a week's menu right here.

Monday-Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes, and Parker Rolls with Garlic Butter
Tuesday-Grilled Drumsticks, Garden Salad, and Peas
Wednesday-BBQ Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, and Cream Corn
Thursday-Turkey Melt Sandwiches with Homemade Fries and Mac-N-Cheese
Friday-No cook-y for me
Saturday-No cook-y for me
Sunday-I'll be cooking, but you don't know where!!!  Okay, I'll give you a hint.  It's not here...

It's somewhere else!
I think I may have given it away.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Cost

If I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone say, "I wish my husband made more money so I could stay at home like you," or "You don't understand.  We just don't make the money your family does," I'd be loaded!  These comments crack me up every time, because I'm fairly certain these people would hide in a hole if they knew our monthly bring home total.  Don't get me wrong.  We are blessed.  For most people in this world, we are considered rich.  Heck, if you live in a home with running water, you are considered rich.

I really laugh at these comments, because even though I didn't say them out loud, I had those same thoughts before I stayed at home.  I specifically remember asking my SAHM friends how they did it.  When they'd tell me all their different ways, I'd still think, "Yeah, but their husbands must bring home bank."  Now I'm on the other side.  So today I want to talk about the cost to our lifestyle.  I realize some of you may or may not be interested in taking the measures we do, but it works for us.  If anything, I hope you realize that there is a cost to everything whether through sacrifice or money.  Things cost. So here's a little secret to our financial life...
  • We eat out about 3 times a month.  Before we used to eat out at least 10 times a month.  At about $20/meal we save $140 a month.
  • I scrutinize my grocery/household goods list each week to keep it around $75-85.  Before I spent around $150/week.  That's a savings of about $300/month.  Couponing is not for everyone, but a few hours a week (if that) of my time is worth a $300 monthly savings.
  • Every purchase we make is researched for the best price.  For example, we just purchased tires for my car.  If I had accepted the first price I was given, I would have lost money without even knowing it.  Instead, Steven called around for prices of other tire stores in our area.  Once he found the best price, he then called back the place we wanted to do the job and asked if they would match the price.  They did.  $150 saved.  We do this for everything.
  • Up until last weekend, we didn't have data plans on our phones {Gasp}.  Steven does now, but I don't. $20/month saved.
  • We don't have extra movie channels or DVR {another gasp}.  Another $20/month.
  • We both drive older cars.  Steven's truck is a 2004 and I drive a 2006.  We plan on driving them until the wheels fall off or we need a bigger car. No car payments=BIG SAVINGS.
  • About every 6 months I review our bills to make sure we are getting the current deals and savings.  Sometimes our bills remain the same, but other times I find a way to get it lowered.
I realize some of you would never want to do what we have done.  I totally understand that.  Others of you make even bigger sacrifices to make your ends meet.  I salute you.  I wish I could completely drop cable, but I just can't.  Even though we watch very little TV, I still like the option to surf through channels.  I do not like to watch shows online.  I will, but prefer not to.  The cost of cable is worth it to us.  However, the cost of DVR is not.  It's all about what conveniences you are willing to pay and what you're not. 

I am SUPER curious to know what you find crazy about my list and what things you do without that ARE on my list.  Other people's lives fascinate me, so tell, tell, tell, and then tell some more! What can I say?  I'm nosy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dijon Crumb Coated Chicken and Green Beans

Dijon Crumb Coated Chicken is fairly similar to Parmesan Pork Chops, except it's chicken and the base is different.  When an excess of Dijon mustard showed up in my pantry and no Puerto Rican steaks (the coveted pork chop) in the freezer, this recipe was born.  It turned out delicious, but when is frying something not delicious?  It's a wonder that I'm not 500 lbs given the way I like to eat.  So if you also enjoy all things fried, be sure to try out this little recipe...

Dijon Crumb Coated Chicken
2 eggs
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup instant garlic mashed potatoes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 tsp onion powder
4 chicken breasted
3-4 Tbsp of cooking oil
  • In a small bowl, beat together eggs and dijon mustard. 
  • In a separate small bowl combing bread crumbs, instant potatoes, parmesan, and onion powder.
  • Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Dip in egg, then bread crumb mixture.
  • Place each breast in hot cooking oil for about 8 minutes per side or until juices run clear.
And since you already have out the Dijon mustard, you might as well make the green beans in the picture.  Here's the recipe for those little guys...

Dijon Green Beans
4 cups fresh green beans
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp pepper.
  • Boil green beans to your desired tenderness. Drain.
  • Add remaining ingredients, and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
That's it.  Two recipes in one day.  I'm exhausted. Be sure to check out the Cheesy Biscuits to round out this meal.  Again, it's amazing I'm not 500 lbs. 

Happy Cooking!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Finished!

Back in February, my wonderful mom, Little Miss, and I took some much needed time girl time and went antiquing.  I purchased an old baby blue window pane for $12.  It was a steal.  I couldn't pass it up.  Even when I tried to pass, it called to me. 

Amanda.  Amanda.  You want me.  Pick me up.  Hold me.  Cuddle me. 

I cannot promise those were his exact words, but it was something along those lines.  The weird part was my mom did not hear anything.  I'm seeking professional help about the voices.  You don't think it's a problem do you?  


Did you hear that?  No? 

Okay, definitely seeking help.  While I'm dialing my therapist, you can check out my awesomely hot husband sanding the talking window pane.  He did a good job.  I sat around and drank strawberry lemonade with a little umbrella straw.  It was hard work sucking all that down. 

And here is the finished product...

Now, I have a little quiz for you.  Are you ready?

  1. When did I purchase this window pane? 
  2. What month is it now?
  3. How long did it take me to finish?
  4. Should Amanda ever attempt a DIY project ever again?
If you answered "Yes" to question #4, message me 'cause you're gonna need the digits to my therapist!

As you can see a DIY project that takes longer than 5 minutes starts out strong and then fizzles out.  However, I do love it.  It is what I had in mind, and I now know I hate stenciling.  Just sayin'.  On a positive note, I do have another item on my wall.  So maybe now we're down to just 5 additional years before my house is fully decorated.  That's totally doable!