Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Monday

I'mmm BACK!!!

Did you think I fell off the face of the Earth?  I didn't.  Instead, I took the week off to spend with my family.  It was wonderful.  We all sat around the fire and sang Kumbaya.  We braided hemp necklaces and nursed each others' babies.  It was glorious.

In all seriousness, we did enjoy our family time.  We ate way too much, slept way too little, and crammed as many activities into a short amount of time as we could.  We tried to give ourselves a Holiday Hangover.  Although, I don't think that's possible.

I am ready to get into 2013.  Steven and I have some BIG goals for this year that we'll be sharing with you.  Don't worry!  None of the goals involve expanding our family.  We're good with the Torres Party of Five title, plus my sanity level is at it's max capacity.  We wouldn't want me to go nutty or anything.

I digress.

We have some BIG goals for this upcoming year and we're really excited about them.  I hope you look forward to this upcoming year, and prepare to better yourself and your future.  After all, none of us want to be the same old, same old.  We want to do better and get better.

If one of your goals is to try out some new recipes, then I have some for you, via Pinterest, on this week's menu.  I hope you likey!

Monday-Rosemary Chicken, Potatoes, and Salad
Tuesday-Chicken Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese
Wednesday-Italian Layer Bake and Green Beans
Thursday-Balsamic Chicken, Peas, and Cheesy Biscuits
Friday-Crockpot Beer Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, and Buttered Wheat Bread
Saturday-Chicken Tacos and Black Bean Fritters
Sunday-Dinner @ Mom's

Friday, December 21, 2012

For The Guys...And Always for the Ladies!

Since October I've added a whole new dimension to my workout.  It's called Get My Butt Up Way Too Early and Make Myself Work.  I absolutely hate when the alarm goes off in the morning.  Seriously.  I get mad.  Then I pull myself from bed, throw on my work stuff, and head to Boot Camp.

In all honesty, Boot Camp should be renamed to Killer Circuit/Personal Training Workout Session.  My friend and instructor is this tiny cutie patootie blond thing that couldn't hurt a fly, but yet has you busting out one more burpee even though five burpees ago you thought you were going to puke.

This F.I.T. Boot Camp, in addition to running, has me getting back my muscles and strength.  It has me getting back my mental toughness.  It has me getting back my winner's attitude.  It has me getting back my 'I Can Do This' mindset.  I love that.  Hate waking up, but it feels good to feel strong again.

If you are woman, this is for you.  I don't care if you haven't worked out in days, months, years, or ever.  You need this for you.  You won't regret it.  And BOYS, don't feel left out!!!

F.I.T Boot Camp added Mens' Sessions! 

After so many husbands saw the hard work their wives were putting in and their amazing results, the guys starting whining  asking for Erica to head up a Men's Boot Camp.  She was up for the challenge!  On Thursday, Steven and a few other men got up and headed her way.  She worked them until half of the guys were out on the lawn puking.  I'd call that a successful workout!  

Needless to say, she knows how to get you to push past your best.  She knows how to encourage you.  She is someone who is in your corner.  F.I.T Boot Camp is so much better than joining a gym and hoping you are getting a good workout.  This is like getting yourself on The Biggest Loser.  You have someone tailoring workouts to hit all of your muscle groups.  You have someone who will keep you accountable.  You will also have a group of people supporting you as well.  I'm so thankful I am apart of something like this.  Now here's your chance to be apart of it too.

Erica has put together pricing packages to help you out. Everyone loves a good deal and she has lowered her prices to give you just that.  Here's the new classes and new pricing for 2013...

Erica will also hold two sessions for Ladies the week of Christmas.  One on Monday, December 24th (yep, Christmas Eve) and one on Friday, December 28th.  Each class during the holiday week is only $5/class.  Sorry boys, you'll have to wait until after the first of the year to get your puke on.  (BTW Ladies, I have yet to see one of the girls puke and we do the same workouts as the men). Sorry, just had to throw that in because I'm ornery!

If you are interested in contacting Erica, here's her info...

F.I.T Boot Camp Phone Number: 918.361.5255

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Goodies

Please raise you right hand and repeat after me,

I, (state your name), do hereby declare that I will wave my Calorie Wand over any and all Christmas Goodies.  This will dissolve the calories in any special treats during the Holidays, thus allowing me to enjoy all of the below deliciousness.

Whew!  I'm glad that's out of the way.  Now onto the good stuff!

Torres Family Christmas Goodies

Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies

{Pic via Two Peas and Their Pod}
For the record, this is the most expensive cookie I have ever made.  So many ingredients that I didn't have. 
Peanut Butter Clusters
English Toffee
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
Candied Pecans
Sugar Cookies

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Traditional Christmas Dinner

Every other year we host Christmas Dinner at our home for our families and their extended families.  It's such a fun time with all the kids running around enjoying their new toys and crashing out on the couch from the day's excitement.  I love Christmas.

The last time we hosted Christmas Dinner, Steven requested a special Puerto Rican menu.  I love how he requests and I make.  So this white girl got down on some traditional PR dishes.

As I mentioned yesterday, Steven hacked into my Pinterest account.  I walked in Sunday morning to find him and the iPad at the kitchen counter.  He was saying things like, "Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about," and "Mmm Hmmm.  Give me some of that."  If I didn't know him so well I would have been worried, but I knew exactly what he was doing.  He immediately looked up at me and said, "Can you get me some paper?  I'm making the Christmas Menu."

And without further ado, I'd like to introduce our Christmas Menu made by Steven Torres...

Torres Family Christmas Dinner

Family Recipe Stuffing Cakes
Vinaigrette Salad

Tomorrow I'll share the Baking Menu.  I have to admit, I'm getting really excited about Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Menu Monday

I hereby declare this week Menu Week...and Baking Week.

Twas the week before Christmas,
 and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring.  
Not even mouse.

Except for Amanda 
who was covered in flour.
She didn't have time,
no time for a shower.

Hmmm...maybe that's not the right lines???  But one thing is true.  I will be baking our Christmas goodies this week and sharing, quite possibly, the most expensive cookie I have ever made in my entire life.  Thanks be to Steven Torres.  He hacked my Pinterest account and came up with his own special Christmas Dinner and Christmas goody list.  Apparently, this man forgot that I have a grocery budget.  You will see his crazy antics tomorrow and Wednesday when I share the goody menu and dinner menu.

Today I have my budget friendly menu for you.  Since I was buying specialty ingredients like dark cocoa, mint chips, mint Oreos, and pecans. I had to get real creative and shop my pantry.

Monday-Pizza Bread and Salad
Tuesday-BBQ Meatballs, Au Gratin Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli
Wednesday-Chicken Taquitos, Brown Rice with Peppers and Onions, Refried Beans
Thursday-Dinner @ The Kueny's
Friday-Baked Chicken, Cheesy Broccoli Casserole, Buttered Bread
Saturday-Sausage, Egg Skillet and Cinnamon Toast
Sunday-Chicken Noodle Soup and Crescents

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hold On

There are days I feel like I'm burning at both ends.  Housework, kids' schedules, babies, school, cooking, it's a bit much at times.  Who am I kidding?  It's a bit much all the time.

I'm sure you've noticed that somedays, like today, you come here to read the latest craziness of my life and it's the same old, same old.  Nothing new has been posted.  I hate that.  I really enjoy writing about nothing and sharing that nothing with everybody, but at the end of the day it's either sleep or write.  Hmmm...not really a tough one for me.  Sleep wins.

Of course there are other things that keep me from writing blog posts during the day.  Those things are Thing 1 (Steven), Thing 2 (Little Man), Thing 3 (Little Miss), Thing 4 (Chubby Cheekers), Thing 5 (Chunkey Monkey), and Thing 6 (Mr. Fluffy Pants).  Caring for 6 people is A LOT of work, and I've found myself at times keeping myself busy with things that don't really matter in place of spending time on things that do really matter.

A few months back a friend posted something about spending time with your kids today because tomorrow they will be older, and you will never ever get that time back.  For some reason that hit me so hard.  The kids are growing up so much faster than I would like.  Although I celebrate each of their stages, there is a bit of a sadness that we are headed to new uncharted territory where newborn coos and snuggles are no longer.

It also made me think about how frequently I use the phrase, "Hold on."

Mommy, you want to play paper dolls? Hold on, Honey.  Let me finish unloading the dishwasher.

Mommy, let's play basketball. Hold on.  I just need to put the clothes in the dryer.

Mommy, you want to play a game? Hold on. I need to call Daddy for something real quick.

I do feel like keeping an orderly house is important for our family to function properly, but there will be a day where the requests to play will cease.  So today, I'm working on removing "Hold on" from my vocabulary.  I'm working on keeping myself busy with what's really important.  My kids should know that my world is revolved around three God, my husband, and them.  In that order.

I guess I'm here to say, that I'm sorry if there is not a post everyday.  I'm working on writing because I love to write and not because I need to post something.  I'm working on keeping busy with what's really important, and these guys are really important...

And just for the record, Little Man's face is generally how I look throughout the day.  Such a happy thought, right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chubby Cheekers~10 Month Edition

In about 4 days I'm going to be 10 months old.  Double digits, Ladies.  Double digits.  Life has been good for me.  I recently attended my first Thanksgiving.  It was wonderful.  Wonderful despite the massive diarrhea I picked up while traveling.  

However, I don't want to share about my nasties.  I just want to share about all of my latest achievements.  First off, I peed on the potty for the first time.  Yes, I'm 10 months old and peed on the potty.  Mommy had stripped my down before bath and I crawled myself right over to the potty and peed on it.  So I didn't actually pee IN it.  Just on it.  Mommy wasn't so excited about my achievement.  Sometimes I feel she doesn't get me.  I thought it was super funny.  I bet Daddy would have congratulated me.

I've also been toiling with the idea of walking.  For a few weeks now I've been building my balance skills by letting go of furniture, and last night I took my first step.  Just one.  It was a little overrated. I mean, I'm a master crawler and my booty looks so cute when I get going really fast.  It just shakes back and forth.  Sometimes, just sometimes, when I'm in a really good mood, I shake my head in conjunction with my booty and that is the cutest.  No need to be modest.  It just is and I know it.

Besides achieving greatness I have to admit I get myself into some sticky situations.  I just get a little curious at times and I don't yet have all the reasoning skills to decide if it's dangerous or not.  So here I am just crawling through barstools and my head gets stuck, or my booty doesn't make it all the way through.  It's really rough at times, but you know what?  I'm the kind of guy that lives on the edge.  Just look what happened when I tried to push Sissy's baby stroller around...

It may be a crazy life, but it's the life I lead.

Chubby Cheekers

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saving Money On Christmas

Every year we save hundreds of dollars just by taking time to look for coupons before shopping.  We have a good budget for Christmas, but by most standards it's pretty conservative.  Here is our list of people to buy for each year...
  • Little Man
  • Little Miss
  • Chubby Cheekers
  • Chunkey Monkey
  • Mr. Fluffy Pants
  • Rene
  • Lindsay
  • Steven's Dad
  • Steven's Dad's Wife
  • Steven's Dad's Son
  • Steven's Mom
  • My Mom
  • My Mom's Husband
  • My Niece, Jasmine
  • Little Man's Teacher
  • Steven's Admin Assitant
  • Steven's Boss
  • Steven
  • Me
All of these gifts we purchase for less than $650.  It has to be under $650 because we use cash envelopes.  Once the cash is gone, it's gone and we are out of luck.  Therefore, I've had to get really good at making the most of our money.

{Some of the coupons I cut from mailers and ads}

First off, I put the designated amount of money in each envelope, write what we want to get each person, and the max amount I can spend.  I do pick items that I know are reasonable for the budget.  For example, Little Man would like a Wii.  However, his budget is $115.  A Wii just isn't going to happen.  Instead, we guided him into other ideas that would be more appropriate for our budget, yet allowing him to be happy when opening his presents on Christmas morning.  

After dividing up the cash, I begin coupon searching.  When I find coupons, I cut/print them out, and stash them in the envelopes with the cash.  I find these coupons by using Retail Me Not, signing up for email newsletters, looking at coupons sites such as Money Saving Mom, and searching ads in the paper.  Once the coupons are tucked safe and sound, I write on the outside of the envelope what coupons I have so I don't forget to use them.
In addition to coupons, I also use an app called ShopKick.  It allows you to collect 'points' just by walking into stores and browsing through their app booklets.  Inside the booklets, they offer coupons, sales, and deals.  I really love this app.  I have only been using it since October and I have already redeemed my points for almost $10 in Target giftcards.  If you are interested in earning points faster, shoot me your email (wispclips@hotmail(dot)com) and I'll invite you under me (It allows you and me to collect points faster).  On top of ShopKick, I take advantage of rewards programs like ToysRUs'.  

Once I have all of our coupons in order and the cash divided up, Steven and I take one day and get all the shopping done for our kids and family members.  

As an example, here is one of our stops at Target...

Spend $50, get a $10 giftcard
Save $5 when you spend $50
$2 ShopKick giftcard
$5 ShopKick giftcard

What we purchased: (estimates of pricing...too lazy to get the receipt)
Ken Doll $7 (on sale)
Girl's Robe $10 (on sale)
Don't Break the Ice $8 (on sale)
Preschool Farm Uno $8 (on sale)
Brave DVD $17

Total: $50

How We Paid:
I first handed the cashier the coupon for the free $10 gc since I spent $50.
Then I gave the $5 off $50.
Then the ShopKick gc's totaling $7.

This brought our total down to $38, plus I had a $10 giftcard to use on my next transaction.

I immediately used the giftcard on my second transaction to purchase Chubby Cheekers some Robeez type shoes.  They were a little over $10 so I had to pay $4 out of pocket.

After we're finished, I keep all my receipts because if what I purchased goes on sale within a few weeks, I take my receipt in and get a price adjustment.  This usually allows me to get around $20 back each year.

This is just one example of about 10 stops we made on our Big 'Ol Shopping Day.  What was great was not one Christmas item was purchased without a coupon.  I didn't add up our total savings, but my estimate is I saved just as much as we spent.  Man, that feels good!  Plus, we were able to get everything we were shopping for.  Even better.  After all, we want to give good gifts to our family.  We just don't want to go in debt doing it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Monday

Birthday dinner #1, Grocery shopping, 4.5 hours of Christmas shopping, church, birthday breakfast, make a cake, more Christmas shopping, and birthday dinner #2.  It was a busy, now I'm so stinkin' tired now,  weekend.  At the end of the day, though, I have a very happy 34 year old husband and that makes me happy.

Here's the menu..

Monday-Chili and Corn Casserole
Tuesday-Chicken Parmigiana, Green Beans, The Bread
Wednesday-Beef Tator Bake, Honey Butter Bread
Thursday-Southwest Roll Ups, Salad
Friday-Cresent Ring, Steamed Broccoli
Saturday-Christmas Train
Sunday-Dinner at Mom's

Friday, December 7, 2012

Proud Parents

You see this guy...

Well, he won an award.
An award for responsibility.
Only two kids were chosen per class.
He makes us proud.
And because he makes us proud I'm going to post 3 pictures of the same thing.
That's just how we roll.
Loud and Proud.

 Little Man with his amazing teacher.

 Daddy's turn with the award winner.
(Chubby Cheekers, contain your excitement please.)

My turn with my boy...and princess.

Besides Little Man winning the Responsibility Award, there is something else that warms our hearts. The majority of his friends have won awards previously for cooperation and respect.  This means he is keeping good company.  We want him to be kind to all, but spend quality time with others that have hearts like his.  

Little Man, you make us proud.  You are a good leader for your siblings.  We love you.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's About Giving

Recently I signed up with Compassion International as an Assignment Blogger.  It's their way of getting the message out of what they do and getting others active in assisting people all over the world.

Giving has always been on my priority list.  Even in times where our cash flow is limited, we give.  This isn't for a 'well done' or a nice pat on the back.  In fact, it embarrasses me a bit when giving outside of our usual tithe.  I don't know why.  It just does.

Look, already I'm getting off topic here!

One of the blogging topics was to answer the following question:

Why do you give?

I kind of thought, "Well, duh!" to this question, but then I really started thinking about why do I give to the organizations I give to.  A few days ago, I entered a photo contest through a local business, Elliott Roofing.  If my photo gets the most likes, they will donate $500 to the charity of my choice.  

I was right on this contest.  All I had to do was enter a funny Christmas photo to get $500 donated to a charity.  How simple is that?  The hard part was choosing a charity.  

My eyes see so many needs daily.  If I had unlimited cash flow, I could work all day blessing people and still not make a dent in meeting all the needs out there. This breaks me heart.  However, two needs areas that weigh on my heart are those who cannot provide the basic needs for their children and child trafficking.  Often times, my extra money goes to three organizations who work diligently and responsibly to alleviate people suffering from the above mentioned travesties.

In the end, I chose Samaritan's Purse to receive the $500 if I win.  Specifically to build a freshwater well for a community and an in home water filtration system for one family. I have to say even though this was my final choice, I still feel a tug on my heart for the other organizations.  Again, so many people with so many needs.

This is where I'm asking for your help.  In this season of giving, it is so easy to get tunnel vision while checking off people on our gift lists. Although it is wonderful to give to those we love, it is also wonderful to give to those we don't even know.  

That same question I was asked on my blogging assignment, "Why do you give?", is the same question I am going to ask you...

Why do you give?

I'm also going to challenge you to add another person(s) to your list.  Someone you don't even know.  You can even do this from the comfort of your own home.  All you have to do is click on the link below, and chose a gift that will alter the life of one stranger.  Not just bring temporary happiness, but a true life change.  I can't think of anything better this holiday season.

Here's the link:

And since you are already on the World Wide Web, you should go like this photo on Elliott Roofing's page...
After all, special ingredients in cookies is always long as you aren't eating them ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Tree Lights: A Life Lesson

About four or five years ago, Steven and I jumped on the artificial tree bandwagon.  After numerous years of our children dining on the fine tastings of leftover tree needles, we felt it a wise decision.  Since we were going artificial we went all out and purchased a pre-lit tree.

It is quite beautiful and super easy to put together.  Even easier to disassemble.  It has made our Christmas decorating quicker.  Until this year.

This past weekend Steven dragged the tree out of the attic and we put it together.  We started this little project around 7:00pm and the kids were anxiously awaiting the moment they would get to decorate the tree.  We figured it was a Saturday night and the kids could stay up a little later.  It wouldn't take too long to let them decorate a bit, and we could have them in bed by 9:00.

That would have been in a perfect world.  Instead, we put the tree together and found that our tree had a nice little pattern going on.  The pattern went like this...lights, no lights, lights, no lights, lights, no lights.  Wonderful.  Great. Dandy.  Steven and I were so frustrated.  Eventually, we told the kids we would have to figure it out in the morning.  They were bummed, but understood.

As we were putting Little Man to bed and he was saying his bedtime prayers, he prayed for our tree's lights to work.  He loves Christmas time and all the decorations.  This was super important to him.  It made me pretty sad.

After the kids were in bed I got a little angry.  We spent our hard earned money on this tree and I felt like this was an attack on our finances.  So Steven and I prayed too.  About a Christmas tree.  Yes, I realize how crazy that sounds.  BUT, guess what?  It worked.

The next morning Steven and I decided there had to be short somewhere since there was such a distinct pattern.  We wiggled almost every bulb in the sections that were out.  Doing so allowed us to fix the problem.  Was it time consuming?  Yes.  Was it tedious?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  Yes.

I thought about how easy it would have been to just chunk the tree and go purchase a new one.  It would have been the easiest of the two options.  However, it would have also been us spending an minimum of $100 on a new tree. Instead, we problem solved and saved ourselves our hard earned money.  It was the right thing to do for us.

My life lesson is this...

Life has one guarantee.  There will be problems.  Lots of them.  We can either take the time to fix them, or sweep them under the rug.  Fixing them is much more satisfying.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Monday

I'm really working hard to be a slacker here, and I think I'm succeeding.  A super late Menu Monday and it's a pretty bad one at that.  I only had to come up with 4 meals.  The other 3 are provided by a date night and two birthday dinners for this really great man.  A great man who is turning 34 and so is his brother.  A great man who I met when he was 18.  He has definitely grown into a fine specimen.

So here's the slacker menu...

Monday-Oven Baked Fajitas and Corn Saute
Tuesday-Baked Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans
Wednesday-Meatloaf, Potatoes Au Gratin, Salad
Thursday-Pot Roast!!!
Friday-Birthday Dinner #1
Saturday-DATE DAY!
Sunday-Birthday Dinner #2