Monday, December 7, 2009

Miscellaneous Photos

Quinton always insists on helping me in the kitchen. I was making a lot of roasted garlic, and of course he wanted to help. But not before he crafted his own "nose mask" because he thought the garlic was really stinky!!!

One of the many crafts Quinton brings home from school. This is a turkey hat, which he is modeling upside down. He is at that age when he thinks that sort of thing is so funny!

If you can't read all of these signs, they all essentially say the same thing: "No Mom." He does this whenever he gets mad at me (a.k.a. several times a day). It is a two step process, first he "x's" me, meaning he draws a picture of me then draws a big "X" through it. Then he writes "No MOM" and tapes it up. He was particularly mad at me this day, as is evidenced by the many signs that accumulated... Although I must have redeemed myself at some point, because one of the ones with yellow highlighter actually says "YES Mom", with a check by my face.

Here Quinton is having a tea party with his stuffed animals. So cute!

He loves to play with empty boxes. This one is a car, in case you can't tell. His all-time favorite thing to do is tape several empty coke fridge packs together to create a train. He'll play with it for hours!

At the Halloween party at our Preschool's church.

Halloween Pictures

Adorable Roman

My boys!

Quinton and Roman enjoying a morning banana shake.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Musings on TV, Commercials, Etc...

Lately it seems like there are a lot of ridiculous commercials and shows that just crack me up. Let's start with the commercial campaign by Target which they have been airing recently. You know the ones, where they play hip music and show a mom who is ultra cool - slamming the tetherball around, goofing off with her kids....

But let's get serious, I want to know how many moms would be having as much fun as they claim if your son or daughter started squirting a garden hose at you in the kitchen. Now I know my reaction wouldn't be to grab the sink sprayer and have a fun-loving water fight in the KITCHEN!!!!!!!!! Perhaps I am not shopping at Target enough.

The other commercial that kills me - I can't even remember what it is for (probably a car), about the couple who are out in nature, and then he can't find his sunglasses, so they turn around and retrace their steps. Of course, he finds them in his hoodie after he runs out of a cave full of bats. So, maybe I am just a crabby wife, but if Antonio forgot his sunglasses, I don't think I would be smiling and joking as we spent several hours retracing our steps. I mean, they're sunglasses, buy a new pair!!!!!

My last observation became more solidified after I stubbed my toe a couple of times. Now, if you have stubbed your toe hard lately, you can probably relate the the intense pain that causes. I generally stop walking and wait a moment or two for the pain to subside. Another small physical pain that I get is from broken blood vessels in my hands and feet. I am not exactly sure why it happens, but occasionally, a blood vessel will break in my fingers or palm, and it will be surprisingly uncomfortable - bordering on painful. I mention all of this because I'll watch some TV show where people are being thrown against a wall, punched in the face, kicked in the stomach, etc... and they just get up and keep on fighting. Now if a stubbed toe and a broken blood vessel are enough to make a person pause, are we really to believe that a human being can keep on fighting while a chair is being slammed over their head??? However, that is only the good guys. Everyone knows that bad guys have terrible aim and a much lower tolerance for pain than the good guys. I sure hope this doesn't mean I'm a bad guy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arts and Crafts Fun

At the recommendation of my mom and sister-in-law, I have subscribed to Family Fun magazine. I had never heard of it before they mentioned it, but what a gem! Each issue has tons of easy and cheap craft ideas, as well as loads of imaginative games.

Every time I read it, or see cute craft ideas on-line, I wish I had a day care or something so that I could do these ideas. For some reason, it seemed to me like I needed a group to do a craft. After I got out of that absurd mind-set, I decided to have little art sessions for my very own adorable Quinton.

Here is a picture of Quinton stamping from his very own stamps. They are made of (clean) foam meat trays. You just tape 3 or 4 squares of it together, and then with a ball point pen draw in your design. The pen creates a relief drawing, so when you stamp, it inks everywhere but your design.

He had great fun; granted, it was a little messy, but what art/craft isn't??

Another day we did the "Foamerator." Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures. Quinton had some friends over and they all had a ball. You cut the bottom off of a plastic bottle, then cut a piece of old terry cloth (I used an old robe) and rubber band it to the bottom. Lightly wet the cloth, and dip it in a dish of liquid dish soap (aka Joy, or something like that). You blow into the bottle, and this foam snake forms. The kids had contests to see you could get the longest snake. Very fun, and, of course, very messy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can a Black Thumb Turn Green?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I cannot keep a plant alive. At least, that has typically been me. That is one of the many reasons that I love cut flowers - they are already dying, so no pressure to keep them alive!

Anyway, 5 years ago the realtors who helped us find our house gave us a housewarming gift of an exotic (indoor) tree. Miracle of miracles, it is still alive today. Although it's future is questionable if Roman continues pulling all the leaves off.

Well, over the last few years, I have slowly started venturing into gardening. Wait, let me clarify. I have cried defeat on all landscape gardening and replaced all the flower beds (read: weed beds) with pine straw that I spray every few months with plant killer to keep anything from growing. What I meant to say was that I have slowly started venturing into food gardening. It started with just a few herbs that seemed to survive no matter what I did to them, and then it has grown to the point where I actually have a thriving herb garden. This is the first year that I have planted more than just a few tomato plants. Everything is doing well, in large part due to the beautiful raised beds my Dad put in my backyard. Moral of the story: I am only willing to put work into plants that I can eat!

Boosted by my recent successes, I decided to try and sprout some avocado pits. And believe it or not, they did sprout!!!

See the proof below:

I have since transplanted them into large pots since they cannot survive the cold, and I'll need to bring them indoors to winter. I'm excited to see if they will produce fruit, assuming of course, that I don't kill them first!

Back-to-School Deals

It is hard to believe how much kids LOVE tape, markers, paper, staplers, etc... Oh, and glue sticks, too! For some reason, kids (or at least Quinton) prefer markers to crayons, so a while back I went to the store to buy him some washable markers. (because that is another thing, not only does he prefer markers, but given a choice of markers, he'll go for sharpies every time. NOT my favorite choice for him!) Anyway, I soon learned that washable markers cost more than I expected - I mean, he leaves the lids off half the time, pounds them on the paper so hard the tips get smashed - who wants to spend money on expensive markers???

So, when I started seeing the back to school sales at places like Office Max and Office Depot, I was thrilled!!! We are now stocked up on all sorts of school supplies: protractors for 5 cents, compasses for 10 cents, markers for 50 cents, 1 cent rulers and notebooks. He is in heaven!

Here is a picture of a his school supplies box, yet another use for all the scrapbook paper I collect!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Six Years, 3 Months, 10 Days

Yep, that's how long it took me to finally get our wedding album done. Most of that time was simply waiting to decide to pay the exorbitant price for the prints. We finally ordered them several months ago. Then I thought I would scan them all in the computer so I would have digital copies of them before I made the album. Of course, that meant that I always put off making the album until I had time to sit in front of the computer scanning picture after picture.... Last night I decided that this album will never get done if I wait to scan everything. So, in about 2 hours it was done! Today, I decided to scan a few of my favorites to post. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Toddler Contract

So I read this in a magazine, and laughed so hard, this is Quinton's DREAM contract!! I looked online and found it posted at Mommslikeme.

"Dear Mom and Dad,
Thank you for your interest in remaining my parents. Below is a list of my demands.

The Toddler Contract


1. For breakfast, there will be only milk from my sippy cup while I'm watching television (see Section II).

2. From breakfast until what you probably call lunch, I will be provided with an unending supply of cookies. No arguments.

3. For lunch I will eat yogurt. Anything containing fruit on the bottom will make me pick out the fruit and throw it on the ground or else will throw it up on your carpet.
a. So no fruit on the bottom.

4. For lunch until dinner I will enjoy having something to lick. Why not a lollipop? Why not seven?
a. Between licks, I may place the lollipop on your
grandmother's Turkish rug. This will be ok by you.

5. For dinner I will have macaroni and cheese. Any attempts to give me vegetables in addition to the macaroni and cheese will result in tears.
a. And don't you hide anything in the cheese sauce, because, my God, how you will rue the day.

6. After dinner, you may provide me with ice cream.
a. No frozen yogurt. Trust me, I know the difference.


1. The TV will be on all the time, unless I say differently. You are to sit by my side, quietly, hands folded in lap, will I watch my shows.
a. You may arise to fetch me a snack.

2. No diaper changing or pleas to engage in physical activity will be tolerated during watching of television.

3. Turning off the television will result in much kicking and screaming.


1. There will be many.
a. They will always be strewn about the house so that I may simply reach down and pick up a toy, no matter where I am.
b. They will be loud, complicated, and contain many small pieces. I enjoy shooting noises that go w-shoooop! or zim zim zim.
c. Nothing that results in any type of learning, please.


1. They should be available whenever I'm in the mood to use someone else's toys or ingest someone else's cookies.
a. These friends may not ever so much as look at my toys or cookie supply.
b. Ever, ever, ever.


1. Is when I say, where I say, and how I say. If I want to sleep upside down with my legs locked around your neck, then that's how it will be.
a. And you will enjoy it.

1. Occasionally I enjoy being hugged and kissed. I stress occasionally.

2. I will not be pelted with wet mouthed assaults on an hourly basis. Should you feel the need to hug or kiss, you must provide me with a written request.
a. And then wait for me to offer my pudgy cheeks."

Signed: (fill in blank) XOXO

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu 2 - Economy Size

This plan showcases how to build a menu around an economy-sized food purchase. I do most of my shopping at Costco, and even though I love the good deals of purchasing in economy-sized quantities, I hate having a huge container taking up space in my refrigerator! By planning a menu around such purchases, you can really take advantage of the great deals and only lose refrigerator space for a few days! This menu uses large sizes of salsa, strawberries, spinach, pork, and ricotta cheese.

Meal Plan 2 - Economy Size Meal Plan 2 - Economy Size RLQuesada

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Even More Fun with Paper!

I really wanted something fun and bright for a summertime display. I had been seeing a lot of ideas for paper flowers lately, and so one afternoon when my mom came over, we made the paper flowers. They looked really great (although certainly not perfect, but I think that adds to the appeal), but it was missing something. Hence the striped "artwork" was born. We did all of this with tissue paper, and I have to say, I am very pleased with the results!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fun with Paper!

I love scrapbook papers, but I really don't like scrapbooking. That means that I am always looking for creative ways to use the beautiful papers that I can't help buying!

Here are some of my latest projects:

I made this because I needed something on the wall to finish my Easter decoration. I was very pleased with how it turned out, although if I were to do it over again, I would make the bird with a different paper so it would be easier to see.

This is my inexpensive "art" in my dining room until my money tree starts producing. These are $5 frames of $.20 paper. I wanted something modern looking since my home is decorated very traditionally, and I love the look of modern touches to freshen it up.

This is a stool that I decoupaged for Quinton. I bought this stool unfinished at Michael's. Then I cut out the designs that I liked from some scrapbook paper I had on hand. I just free-cut t - channeling the clouds from the PBS show WordWorld.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Menu 1 - Morphing

Here it is!

I tried to format the menu in a user-friendly way, keeping all recipes for each day on it's own sheet, with a summary sheet at the beginning.

In an effort to organize my ideas, I have decided to highlight a different menu-planning technique or food-preparation technique with each menu.

I have included an estimated cost for the menu, using my shopping philosophy as detailed in a prior post.

Please let me know how you like the organization, and of course, the recipes! Any comments would be appreciated!

Meal Plan 1 Meal Plan 1 RLQuesada

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cooking Philosophy and Tips

I am working on the first menu, but it is taking longer than I expected. It will be up soon, but in the meantime, I have a million ideas that are swimming around in my head, so I thought I better write them down.

I like delicious food, and I also like to cook. This means that I enjoy spending time making a great dinner or special treat. However, I teach piano lessons most afternoons, which means that by the time I am finished up with lessons, I don't have that much time to get dinner on the table (usually less than 30 minutes). I accomplish this by doing a lot of prep work ahead of time.

I also get a thrill out of seeing how good we can eat on as little money as possible. I love to have dinner be only $4 or $5 dollars total. Of course, this is not always possible, but on average, I try to have the total cost of groceries for the week be no more than $50-75. Some weeks I may spend more, some weeks less.

Understanding the previously mentioned philosophies is critical to understanding the development of my meal plans. First and foremost, the only way that I am able to do this each week is because I sit down on Sundays and plan out the week. What does this planning entail? Most importantly, what I am in the mood to eat. This is the privilege that the cook gets for doing all of the work! I enjoy cooking the meals so much more when it is something that I am looking forward to eating. This is also where having the week's meals planned out is helpful. If on Monday I am not in the mood to eat or cook my planned meal for Monday, I at least have several other meals already thought through, with the ingredients to make them.

In order to eat inexpensively, it is absolutely essential to know the best prices for your most purchased items. Only buy these items when they are at their best price. Then buy a lot if they are freezable. I have a large freezer just for this purpose. To keep costs down, it is more important to plan your meals around what you have in the freezer or what is on sale versus a particular recipe you want to make. In the Atlanta area, here are my price points of common things I buy:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: $1.99/lb (Kroger)
Split chicken breasts: $.99/lb (Kroger)
Chicken leg quarters: $.59/lb (Kroger sold in 10 lb bags)
Flat iron steaks: $3.99/lb (Kroger)
Boneless pork shoulder: $1.50/lb (Costco)
Pork shoulder with bone and skin: $.99/lb (Kroger/Publix)
Pork loin: $1.89/lb (Costco)
Salmon: $5.99/lb (Costco)
Tilapia: $4.99/lb (Costco)
Ground Beef: $2.20 (Costco) This is not the cheapest available, but the quality is unbeatable

Ethnic markets are my best friend. Specifically Asian markets. Their cuisine relies so heavily on produce, that produce at Asian markets is invariably loads cheaper than standard grocery stores. For example:

Cilantro: $.33/bunch
Limes: 5/$1 or better
Tomatoes: $.60/lb
Fresh or dried spices: TONS cheaper than the grocery store
Green onions: 5 bunches/$1.00

It is important to note that I am a stay-at-home mom. This means that I have the luxury of time earlier in the day to prepare dinner ahead of time. I understand that this is not possible for everyone. In addition to prepping earlier in the day, I also take advantage of preparing more than one meal at a time. For example, if I am going to the effort of cooking chicken one night, I will cook whatever extra I may need for another meal later in the week. Or perhaps to freeze. This doesn't work will all foods, of course, but I utilize this strategy all of the time when I know that later on in the week I will be pressed for time one night. Again, this is where a weekly meal plan is crucial because I have already thought through the food requirements and what I can do ahead of time.

I think that is all for now. Hopefully I will be finishing up my Menu #1 shortly, and I am anxious to hear any critiques that you have!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Coming Soon

Most of you know that I love to cook. Combine that with my love of list-making, and you have every meal that we've eaten for the last 4 years!

Of course, not all of those meals have been good - some have even been downright terrible. However, I have also discovered quite a few great meal plans, as well.

I have been wanting to publish some sort of cookbook for a while, now. However, I always end up feeling overwhelmed and intimidated. Add to that the many ideas I have for how to best organize it, and you understand why I haven't done anything about it yet.

However, I thought that the best way to start would be to just simply start. So this week I am going to put up my first planner for a week of meals. Try them out, tell me what you think! Some will be recipes from cookbooks, some will be from online sources, and many will be my own. I'll be sure to write the source.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Speed Dial Add-on

Now I know that I have written about Speed Dial on my Facebook page, but I simply have to put a plug in for it again. I LOVE THIS APP!

If you are like me, then when you log onto the internet you go to the same 3 or 4 pages: maybe your email, the bank, facebook, or even your blog. Speed Dial lets you see all of these webpages as a little picture on your homepage. And get this - has an option to open all your pages at once.

Not only that, but I have it set up for Quinton, which is a huge help since now he can navigate the computer all by himself. See the picture below for how I have his homepage set up. He has his own profile on the computer, so he logs on as himself. Then when he sees the wireless turn green, he knows he can click on Firefox. His homepage is set up with all of his favorite games, so I don't have to keep navigating for him.

Again, I love this Application!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writing/Talking Style

So I just read my Organizing Post and there is nothing like reading your own posts to realize your many errors in speaking and/or writing! Sorry in advance for all of the "quite's" and "I find's!"

Organizing Fun

Is my house always clean? Or, put better, is it ever totally clean? Well, not really. I often joke that I can only keep one level of my house clean at a time. It would probably be a funnier joke if it weren't true. However, one of my favorite activities is organizing. I have a ton of stuff. However, my house doesn't look like I have a ton of stuff (I am not a big fan of clutter) because I have it very organized and out of the way.

I get frustrated sometimes reading magazines (typically the January issue) which feature articles on organizing your home. My frustration is from the fact that most all of their organizing ideas require buying expensive organizing boxes and baskets. I don't know about you, but I don't have the resources to pay $15 for one box or magazine file. So here are some pictures from things around my house that I use to organize.... hopefully this can help someone else out there who is looking for an effective, but affordable, way to organize.

These two pictures are a perfect example of how I save nice containers to reuse them. Baby wipe containers are perfect for sorting and storing craft supplies, and Swiffer containers are great for larger supplies.

I have quite a collection of sewing patterns, and at first I had them stored in miscellaneous boxes. These inexpensive boxes from U-Line (I believe about 40 cents each) are the perfect solution. I made sure that they were exactly the right size to fit patterns in and not stick out from the edges of my shelves. I think that the simple repetition of same-sized boxes with uniform labels makes it appear much neater even though they are just cardboard boxes!

In our house we are lucky to have a storage room in the basement. I have heavy-duty storage racks where I keep decorations, clothes the kids have grown out of, and all the other sort of stuff a homeowner has stored away. I ordered these boxes that are just the right size to fill these shelves the entire length (about the length of two Xerox paper boxes together) in order to maximize the use of these shelves. In the past, I had the shorter boxes stacked two deep, but then I never knew what was in the back! These boxes solve that problem.

This was one of my very first do-it-yourself organizing projects. I made this makeup organizer out of basic white tile that I bought at Home Depot. This project actually was not cheap - costing me about $40 - but I was able to create exactly what I wanted. Those clear plastic ones that they sell in the store never had the kind of compartments that I wanted. One of my favorite things about it is that it is made of tile - so it blends perfectly with my bathroom!

One of my all-time favorite organizing finds has been this corrugated cardboard bin from U-Line. As you can see from the many pictures from around my house, I use them to organize all sorts of things. I bought them originally to help me corral all of Quinton's clothes since his bedroom has built-in shelves, but no drawers. I loved them so much, that I started finding uses for them all over the house. They cost $1.53 each, so although not super cheap, they are certainly less expensive that other options out there. Granted, they are not as pretty as those $15 boxes I was talking about earlier, but I find that grouping many boxes together, as long as they are identical boxes, makes a neat presentation.

I save all sorts of sturdy boxes. I find that low boxes - the kind that perfumes or stationary come in - are perfect for using in drawers. Here is an example of that drawer we all have in our house - you know the one with the miscellaneous hardware, batteries, tools, etc. I play around with several combinations of boxes until I find a perfect fit.

This is another example of using boxes to organize my knife drawer. I personally like to keep all of my sharp knives and kitchen shears in one drawer so that I only have to worry about keeping the kids out of one drawer instead of several.

Here is a picture of our library. You could say that my husband and I have quite a collection of magazines (almost all free subscriptions, by the way!) Neither one of us is good at throwing them away, so I have to figure out what to do with all of them. These magazine files are from Ikea. They are corrugated cardboard and sold flat in packs of 5. The printed ones sell for ~$5 a pack, and the white ones sell for about ~$3 a pack. I have found that all white files look too utilitarian, so I intersperse the less expensive white files with the printed ones. They are certainly not as durable as a leather magazine file, but hey, it is not like I am throwing them around!

Okay, so here is a picture of one of my spice drawers. One of my favorite resources for organizing tools is U-Line. They offer many products in bulk at great savings. The real clincher, however, on why this is such a good deal for me is that they have a warehouse a few miles from my house so I am able to pick up my order and avoid any shipping charges.

These 8 oz clear jars, for example, cost me 60 cents each. I buy all of my spices in bulk at ethnic groceries (where they are invariably loads cheaper) or bulk at Whole Foods.

Another advantage of these jars is that they stack easily, so I also have them in my cupboards. Granted, I love to cook and so it is a sort of hobby of mine to collect spices, so this method has saved me a lot of money compared to the $3 and $4 I used to pay for .75 ounces of McCormick brand spices at the grocery store!

I am a huge fan of Costco, and I probably do about 90% of all my shopping there. Instead of having tons of bags in my pantry, I put everything possible into cans. I save cans from everything, formula, nuts, dry milk, etc. This picture of cans stacked up doesn't look particularly beautiful, but it is an extremely efficient way to keep my food fresh and stackable.

Here is a picture of another shelf in my pantry. I find that the most difficult food to work with comes in bags, so I do my best to make it stackable. For example, I always opt to buy powdered sugar or brown sugar in boxes. It is infinitely easier to stack several boxes of powdered sugar than it is to stack several bags of powdered sugar. When I don't have a choice of a box (chocolate chips, for example), I group them with like products and put them in boxes, as you can see here with the "Dried Fruit" and "Baking Chips" boxes.