Grace Upon Grace…

Do any of you moms feel like you’ve changed since having children? I mean, drastically changed?

Recently, my oldest daughter turned 3 years old which marks 3 years that I have been a parent. Three years might not seem like much, however to me it already feels like it’s been an eternity. In these past few years, I feel that I have changed so much based on how much I have learned already.

When I was a new mom, I was also a new wife, and a new believer. I jumped headfirst into life, it felt like. My life was in the fast forward motion for a few years, and I was riding that high of life. There were so many blessings that came my way, but I also made a lot of mistakes. That’s the gist of life, isn’t it?

Yes, I had a lot on my plate, but I accepted the challenge and naively expected the outcome to be glorious. I put a high expectation on how my life was to turn out, and I struggled with disappointment when things didn’t happen the way they were supposed to. See, what it boils down to is that I put a heavy emphasis on myself and others, instead of trusting God. I believed that in order to be the best person I could be all I had to do was follow these specific guidelines I read in publications I was given, and all would be well. I didn’t take grace into account. I placed so much pressure on myself and these methods, instead of trusting God and knowing I have grace for the times I fail. This applied to many areas of my life, raising kids being one of them.

As a mother now, I can see a new parent a mile away. They worry about every little thing, and hope they can do everything by the book. I was there. That was me for the longest time. Granted, I only have two kids so far, so I’m no expert. However, it is important to me to share my story, and let other moms know how important it is to have grace upon grace, and not focus too heavily on principles.

I feel ashamed when I think back to the times I didn’t show other moms grace, or I didn’t think it towards them at least. I would see kids visibly acting out, and I would think to myself “if only they read the book I had, then they wouldn’t have naughty kids.” I would feel the need to preach what I have learned, or give them a copy of some publication that I was introduced to. You might be reading this thinking “what’s the wrong in that?” There isn’t wrong in sharing a method if it works for you, if you do it out of grace. If you are doing it out of your piousness, you are being a pharisee, and not exemplifying grace but rather your own desire to fix people to your own views.

Recently, someone I was speaking to about this laid out the meaning of parenthood very simply for me. They explained how we are all born sinners and born to make mistakes and it’s the parents job to teach their kids to the best of their ability how to try to overcome that and show them God’s love and mercy. That takes an incredible amount of work, believe me. I used to picture children as being clean slates when they are born, and it’s irrevocably the parents responsibility for the behavior of their children as they develop. If I would see a child misbehaving, I used to think “that parent isn’t doing a proper job.” I have to say, that this pressure placed solely on the parents came through reading some publications that were given to me as a new mom. I was so young and immature, it’s true. Anything anyone gave me, especially from someone who was older and wiser, I took for complete certainty and I did not check scriptures or go to God with it. That was my mistake.

I’ve learned that when pressure is put on “man,” or in other words “in ourselves” to do what we think is right by own will, it takes our focus away from God. I’ve started to pay attention to how people get consumed by ideas, and how it’s seemingly easier for people to follow a set of guidelines, instead of letting go and trusting God. We don’t like being vulnerable by nature, so we gravitate towards something with a structure that is already set out for us. Living in uncertainty is, well, uncertain. Trusting God is easier said than done.

I still see the value in reading publications to help guide us, especially if we are new at what we are doing. Most likely, a lot of the material we read will have a great deal of wonderful advice. I have to say, I am very grateful for some of the things I have learned from reading publications, and I do believe that has shaped who I am as a mother today. That being said, I don’t discredit any publications that are out there from their potential to be useful, it just becomes a scary thing when we start putting more emphasis on them than we do on God. And what exactly does that mean? What I mean is if the certain magazine or book on child training is being pulled out more than the Bible is, or if you are criticizing other parents more than you are praying for them, or if you are saying that “if only the author of this book were here they would tell you..” instead of saying “if only God was here right now He would tell you..” if you are doing any of those things or hearing any of those things, you should be weary. God gives us so much grace, and we are so undeserving at times, so why wouldn’t you show that to someone else? Remember that we are prone to wander, so reign yourself in and draw closer to God. Don’t let yourself- your human nature- distract you from what is most important. Everything you hear or read, compare to the scriptures, and not just the small excerpts of verses you see in a book or magazine, but actually pull out the Bible and read that verse in context. Pray about it. Talk to your spouse about it. See if that method or suggestion fits with your family. Every child, every home, every parent, are all different. God made not one of us the same as anyone else. Isn’t that amazing? Remember that when you chose what is right for your family, and when you extend grace to those that are different than you are.

If parenting were easy, or any other area of life for that matter, there would be no need for God at all. Parenting isn’t a walk in the park. If anyone ever tells you that if you just follow these certain rules or guidelines then you’ll be perfect, be weary. If anyone ever tells you that their opinion is the best and everyone else’s is wrong, be weary. No one, not one, is perfect. If we were, there would be no need for God at all. The only words to trust whole heartedly are God’s words.

65 Do good to your servant
    according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
    for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Psalm 119 verses 65-72

It is good for us to be afflicted. Going through hard times helps us learn and draw closer to God. I have been through so much change in the past few years; in my walk with God, in my marriage, and as a parent. I now know to be weary of becoming a pharisee, a “know it all” and instead give other moms grace. Grace upon grace. Prayer upon prayer. The feeling of piousness is tiresome. Looking at others with that mindset is tiresome. Humility is a trait I desire to have, especially as a mother. I know I will continue to be refined through more trials as time goes on. We honestly won’t rest in complete peace until we go to heaven! We will constantly need Jesus. I know I will continue to learn much more in the years to come. Being a parent is one of life’s purest joys and the amount of happiness my daughters bring me is really indescribable; a true gift. My girls are so precious to me. I love waking up each day to see their smiling faces. Everyday is an adventure with my girls, full of ups and downs. The downs are a given, but the ups are what make it all worthwhile. Take the load off your shoulders and give it to God, pray more, trust Him more, read your bible more, and teach your children about God and his love, grace, mercy more. Enjoy your children, for this time in their lives, as well as yours with them, is fleeting.



Caldo De Pollo

(If you want to skip the intro, the condensed recipes are at the bottom of this post.)

Most people have “comfort foods” that are usually based on what their parents made for them in the years past. All my “comfort foods” that remind me of my childhood are Mexican dishes.

“Caldo De Pollo” literally translates to “Broth of Chicken,” and it’s one of my favorite comfort foods. I make it about 2-3 times a month at our house. It’s essentially chicken soup, but Mexican style. And no, it’s not just broth!

My mom has given me her method several times over the years, and I have modified it to my own liking for my family.

You’ll need to have prepared Mexican rice for this meal. It’s easier if you make it ahead of time! It goes well with a variety of dishes, so at our house I usually make a lot of it about once a week and it lasts several days in the fridge. I’ll share my recipe below if you don’t know how to make it.

Now for the soup:

First, you boil your chicken. I prefer to use any pieces of chicken that have bones, typically like chicken legs or thighs. Reason being, the bones give such a nice flavor to the soup, and as a bonus they make the broth super nutritional.

I use a large pot, full it halfway with water, throw my chicken into it, about 3-4 bay leaves, and about 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, about a tablespoon of salt, and a bit of black pepper. I boil that for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cut carrots, potatoes, celery, and ears of corn, all into large chunks. I started cutting the veggies in large chunks because I was always in a hurry, and my family now loves them that way. It’s sort of fun cutting up pieces with your spoon as you eat your soup I suppose… at least it’s fun for my toddler!

My mother puts another vegetable into the soup called a “chayote.” It’s a vegetable that grows in the ground, like a potato, but looks like a misshapen pear to me. The texture of it is like a potato, and the taste is like that of a squash. I usually avoid putting this in my soup simply because I usually don’t have chayotes in my fridge! You typically find them at a Mexican grocery store.

I cook the veggies in the chicken soup for about 10 minutes. At this point, I pull out any bones in the soup, so it’s just the meat left.

Meanwhile the veggies are cooking, I cut up the toppings. (This is another step that changes this from an American style chicken soup, to a Mexican one) I finely dice white onion, fresh cilantro, and fresh jalapeños. I keep them separate so as we eat the soup, we can put on toppings to our liking. Also, I chop some limes. It’s not a Mexican dish without limes!

A note about limes: do yourself and others a favor and stop cutting limes in weird little slivers. Just cut them in halfs. It’s much easier to hold and you can actually get more than 5 drops of lime juice when you squeeze!!

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, scoop a bit of Mexican rice and plop in right on top of the soup, sprinkle some toppings, squish some lime juice, and have some hot tortillas ready.

Add more toppings or lime juice as you eat!

With the tortillas: I grew up rolling them into little rolls, and dipping them in the salty broth and eating them as I eat my soup.



Condensed Recipes:

Caldo De Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)


1-2 pounds of chicken (preferably with bones)
1/2 an onion
TB of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
3 cloves of garlic
3-4 bay leaves
3-4 carrots
3-4 potatoes
3-4 zucchinis
2-3 ears of corn
1 chayote (optional)
1 white onion
1 bunch of cilantro
1 fresh jalapeño
A few limes
Mexican Rice (prepared separately)
Tortillas (handmade is always best)

First, boil the chicken in a large stockpot. You can use a whole chicken, or pieces. I recommend choosing chicken pieces that have bones, they make all the difference when it comes to flavor for the soup. Boil with bay leaves, onion, garlic, and salt on medium for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile, cut all your veggies into large chunks. After the 30 minutes the chicken has been cooking, add the veggies. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls, put a scoop of rice on top, sprinkle with cilantro and onion, and squish lime juice on the top. Roll up a tortilla and serve it beside the soup. Dip tortilla in soup as you eat.

Mexican Rice Recipe: (makes about 3 cups)

Blend about 4 Roma tomatoes, (or two large tomatoes) a pinch of dried oregano, a tablespoon of chicken bullion, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and about 1 cup of water. Pour the mixture through a sieve and use a spoon to really push all the juice through, leaving all the pulp and tomato skins behind.
Sauté about a cup of white long grain rice with a dash of oil at medium heat. Stir constantly as it tends to burn easily. Sauté until all of the rice is a nice golden color.
Pour the tomato mixture over the rice. Simmer all together until rice is soft and cooked all the way through, covered the whole time without stirring. If it needs to cook a bit longer, pour a bit of water over it all and keep cooking it for a few minutes more.

How the heck does that Mom do it so well?

She doesn’t.

Here’s our secret: we’re not perfect. We might take a photo or two when our house looks spectacular and post about it, but within hours if not minutes, our toddler will make it a mess again. Then you chose to either stop doing your household chore, train your kid to clean it up, or finish that chore and put off picking up toys for later. Then you’ve got to get dinner started. But you can’t stand the thought of making dinner until you clean and put away all your dishes from previous meals. If your child is fussy, sick, or needs any sort of extra attention, everything on your list of “things to do” gets pushed back. And those “things to do after the ‘things to do list'” gets pushed back even further. Needing to run errands? Well then you better have your crockpot game down, or else you better start thinking of which restaurant you’re going to pick up burritos or a pizza from for an easy dinner.
And if you’re a unfortunately a perfectionist like myself, when you get home you’ll still make the kids a well rounded meal with steamed zucchini on the side, and compromise your health and just eat pizza, telling yourself: it’s just for tonight, I’ll eat better tomorrow. Then the baby goes to bed, and you come back downstairs to sit on the couch with your hubby. Now your time to do what you need to do can begin, you think. I’m alone. No kids. No noise. But then you realize- oh, I haven’t put dinner away yet. Or if your hubby decides to do it for you, maybe even the dishes too, you realize how grateful you are for a hard-working hubby like yours, and you just want to sit and watch a movie with him. And your list of “things to do” just keeps getting pushed back even further.

If you feel like your life never stops, I’m right there with you. Over the past year, I’ve learned how to juggle a home, a husband, a toddler, a pregnancy, and a small business. To be frank, and honest, I don’t do it well. If you were to walk into my home at any given time, you won’t find a picture perfect home with immaculate floors and not a single dirty dish in the sink. Our home has life. It’s lived in. That’s how I view it.

I sometimes catch myself thinking: oh man, I can’t wait to get over the baby stage in motherhood and get to the point where my kids can actually help me get things done.

Don’t get me wrong- my toddler doesn’t go one day without learning to help in someway. I’m teaching her everything I can about keeping a home. But the reality is, things take longer. Much longer. I can wash all the dishes in a jiffy if I’m left completely alone. But 99.9 % of the time, I’m not alone. And as a mother, my desire shouldn’t be to be alone. It defeats the purpose of having children. And they don’t deserve a mom that can’t stand to be around them. There’s no love there, which they constantly need. And whether you realize it or not, you’re always training them. If you’re finding yourself pushing them away, you’re training them to be distant, to be negative, and invaluable. So all that to say- I keep my daughter right by my side. I just have to swallow the fact that things will take longer to do. Prioritizing is so important at this stage of motherhood. But the point still stands- I still can’t wait until my daughter can help me, really help me. Until then, I must realize that I won’t have it all together. I won’t do life “so well.” As a matter of fact, I might never do it “well.”

God never gives us more than we can handle. I have to remind myself that every day, if not multiple times a day. I can do it. And the times I feel that I can’t, I look to Him. He gave me a wonderful husband that has helped me when I needed help the most. As well as family and friends that live close by and are always more than willing to help.

It also seems like the times we don’t read our bibles everyday, or forget to pray, the enemy is there ready to jump in. Make you believe you’re weak, that you can’t do it. We must always press in Him, especially us frazzled moms. Mom life is hard. We can’t do it alone, or we’ll drive ourselves nuts.

As far as running a business while being a devoted wife and mother, it’s a whole other ball game. I’ve spoken to other moms that own small business and gotten some tips, as well as developed some of my own. Most of us work when our kids sleep, like during naps and after bedtime. That’s what I hear the most. Three things I realized with this routine:
1. Naps and bedtime better be routine, because uninterrupted sleep is key.
2. Work fast at night. Don’t dawdle. I need as much good sleep as I can too. It’s so vitally important. It’s like the gas you need to keep your car running.
3. Don’t forget about your spouse. Don’t forget your most important roles. Those foundations are the glue that keep it all together.
These things apply to all moms, really. Whether you own a business from home or not, we always find things we need to get done, don’t we?

Here’s an excerpt from a book I recently read: (well let’s be honest, skimmed through)

“Cleaning the house when you have young children is like shoveling rain. On days when I attempted to pick up the clutter, a tornado of toys and messes following right behind me. I didn’t like living in the baby and toddler chaos day in and day out. It was hard to think clearly and positively when my house was in a constant state of disarray. My wise mother (who somehow always knows the parenting struggles I’m fighting) thoughtfully framed for me a poem that was her favorite mantra as a young mother:

“The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

(Stop and Smell Your Children, by Leah Spina, Ch.19 – My Happy, Messy Home)

The title of this book was really was the ‘take-away’ message of the whole book: just stop and smell the roses, or in other words, your children. Yes, it feels so nice when your house is spotless, but is having a clean and perfect home the best way to enjoy your time with your kids? On that same note, don’t think for a second that I live in a constant pigsty. I’ll never stop cleaning and never stop showing my kids how to help mom clean either, that’s just a basic function of life. Just remember to enjoy this time with your kids, this short time we have been given with them. Involve them in everything you do, even in cleaning up your home. Don’t fret about what didn’t get done, just try your hardest to do it tomorrow. Love your mess, see it as a home that is loved and lived in. Take lots of breaks. Play with them, laugh with them. Make sweet memories that will last forever. After all, that’s what you and they will remember, not that one time Mom finally finished decorating a bookcase or sorted through the hallway closet. Those things aren’t things to be cherished. Your kids are.



“I can’t cook, I even burn water.” What happened, America?

Our culture is constantly changing. It seems that Americans get stuck in a fad for a while, then when it’s old news, they move on to a new one. And thus, a different culture emerges. Clothing style, hair, food, diets, cars, etc. We are still a relatively new nation, compared to much of the rest of the world. A nation with a constantly changing culture, evolving to the next hip thing.

Women used to wear dresses, and held modesty in a higher regard than today. Now we have moved on to see-through, belly-showing shirts and tight contour-showing yoga pants. Some men used to wear suits on a daily basis, and at some point in history, we hit the t-shirt fad and it has never left us. Hairstyles change constantly too. As far as I’m concerned, I’m so glad we are done with the big fluffy perms and huge bangs from the 80s. Let’s also not forget the constant influences that Hollywood has had over these culture changes as well in the past decades. Food has had its fads too. Such as the fad of t.v. dinners, then we moved on to even faster dinners: fast food. Or, such as the scare of fats in our diet, then after that we moved on to a scare of carbs, and now we are onto a scare of gluten. Remember the fad of Tupperware containers too? Well now we have moved onto the current plastic-free movement.

There are endless comparisons like the ones listed above. Some have changed in good riddance of the old, and others have left us simply because they weren’t stylish anymore. What is surprising is that in many cultures around the world they don’t change as much as we Americans do. Yes, they might try to incorporate a ‘new-age’ and improved method into their daily lives, but they keep a very strong hold on their long-kept traditions. One way this is evidently seen is through food. Cooking in America is essentially dead, while in other parts of the world it’s esteemed and passed on through generations as if it’s a way to survive. The loss of our culture of cooking is what struck me the most.

For example, I come from a family that is 100% Hispanic. I have seen the slow progression of the loss of their culture of preparing and cooking food. Since their move to America, they bought tortillas made in stores because they were cheaper and more readily available, instead of milling the flour and making their own. They used lots of genetically modified legumes and grains, because they’re also cheaper and what’s available in stores. They also used man made hydrogenated oils to fry things, instead of their traditional homemade lard. Their diets changed dramatically, as did their lives. Bless my mother and dear aunts that have continued to cook in the manner in which they have! I mean, the food is always great. It’s just not the same as they were taught in their homeland. Now, their children, which are my cousins, and including myself, were mostly born here, if not entirely raised here. We were born Hispanic, yet raised American. And the loss of cooking is even more evident with us.

I’ve heard stories about how my dad and his siblings raised their own animals for meat, eggs, and dairy, how they planted all their grain and vegetables, and how they worked everyday as a family to make ends meet and bring food on the table. True, wholesome food. But hard, labor-intensive work. My grandmother would take their dried grain everyday to the local mill. She would make her own fresh tortillas, everyday. She would make her own cheese and yogurt. She even made kombutcha too. The kids were always busy and constantly outside.

As intriguing and healthy that lifestyle sounds, it hardly exists in America. The closest thing that compares to this sort of lifestyle today, in my opinion, is a local Farmer’s Market. Where communities work together to share wholesome food, for the most part. My father kept up most of his family’s traditions in such a way that he grew up to be a farmer, and he sustained his family by what he raised on the farm. He raised bees for honey, all kinds of fruits and vegetables, chickens for eggs, and animals for meat. However, my sister and I grew up so differently than my father did, so much so that it can’t even compare. We had wholesome food at our fingertips, yet our feet were planted deep in our American culture in which we grew up.

There’s something wrong in the way America is living. Maybe it’s the fast pace at which everyone lives. Maybe it’s our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Maybe it’s the lack of understanding of true nutrition. Maybe it’s the environment we have created. I have heard it all. Something is contributing to the decline of our health, physically and mentally. And we are spiraling downward. America continues to be one of the countries with the highest divorce rates. Hollywood is continually influential on young adults, shaping what they ought to look like and act like, never satisfying. The number of obese children has doubled since the 1980’s. In 1900, cancer and heart disease contributed to 18% of deaths in America, now it has jumped to 63%. We are unhappy and unhealthy.

What I believe is the missing link between our health and our American culture, is time. Time to spend with our families. Time to spend with our kids. Time to spend outdoors. Most importantly, time to spend on cooking. This is a quote I like very much from a book and t.v. show written by Michael Pollan : “Most of us are moving too fast for slow cooking. For years now, Americans have been putting in longer hours at work, and enjoying less time at home. In households where both partners work outside the home, it is difficult, if not impossible, to weave this sort of cooking into the rhythms of weekday life. Shortcuts suddenly seem more attractive. Nowadays there are so many cheap and easy ways to out source the work.”

Today, the typical American spends and estimated 27 mins in food preparation. That is what we are missing. It’s time. It’s not just about making it and slapping it in on the table, but we need time to enjoy it too. Enjoying the smells as we cook, and even praying before we eat, starts the digestion process, and helps our bodies digest it better. This first stage of digestion is called the cephalic phase. Stress shuts down this part of digestion.We need time to make wholesome food, to fill our tummies, nourish our minds, and eat with with the ones we love. In Spanish, what we say when we eat together is we “convivir,” which means “to live together.” Food also nourishes relationships, and is such an important tool to use when you want to “convivir” with others. Such as sitting together as a family to eat dinner, and talk about your day. Or at social gatherings, as a form of fellowship with others.

In most parts of the world, in traditional societies, men do the hunting and women do the cooking. Now, it’s easy to blame the feminist movement that happened in America as the reason women don’t cook anymore, because they don’t stay home anymore and have joined the work force. In a way, yes cooking has indeed stopped there. But there are other factors to consider. During war times, women had to work because all the men were gone, and the industrialization on fast-food was born. Quickly prepared and convenient foods just made sense. That was a huge culture change for us. People didn’t need to grow food, or heck even prepare it. It was already done for you. And it was cheap too. And so, our health rapidly declined. And time was eliminated, from cooking our food, and from spending time at home.

The hard reality is that this is the culture in which live in today. Careers and college are what children are told to dream about, not staying at home. And once in college, most kids struggle with the balance of food and time, especially if they have a job too, which results in weight and health issues. They are perfect targets for the fast food industry. Fast food is everywhere and what we are used to. People are not used to a slow life, where you cook 3 meals a day at home. It seems absurd when you can go buy something. Waste of time. And- how can you, if you’re working away from home all day? The knowledge of cooking passed down through generations is becoming lost.

I’m a proud stay at home mom. Not just because I’m so honored and privileged that my husband works so hard in order for me to do so, but also because I’m so glad to be able to cook 3 meals a day for my family. I want to try and live slow, in a fast paced world. That is one of my most important God-given duties, the ability to take care of my family in the best way that I can. Not every meal will be organic, or grown from my farm, but it will be a real meal! Wholesome, real food. I want to pass these traditions of practicing slow cooking to my kids, and hopefully instill this lifestyle into future generations to come. I believe that is the key to our health: time. There is no shame is being home. Actually, there is great satisfaction and security in the health and well-being of my family. And to me, there is no greater joy other than that, being a mother and wife myself. In my eyes, it’s not just where I belong, but where I’m supposed to be.

For those that don’t have that opportunity to stay home, the desire to give their family the best they can doesn’t change. It might just be harder to see since they are forced to live with such a busy lifestyle. Which is why we are also so blessed with local Farmers Markets, and increasing options for wholesome foods in grocery stores. There’s also the option to make meals ahead of time, and even freeze them for future need. To all those out there that have to deal with that incredible balance of life at home and work away from home, especially with kids, I give a million kudos. I don’t know how you do it, without sacrificing one thing for another! You are truly incredible. Just remember- there are ways, and wholesome food is out there, you just have to make it possible. And in some ways, make it a necessity for the health and future of your family. And if you can, make time to cook at home! And don’t forget to enjoy it.

Mexican-Style Chicken Salad Tostadas


Tostadas: the mysterious things that they are, apparently. To me, a tostada is as common as a taco. However, there are surprisingly many who have no idea what it is. I kid you not. This strange occurence has happened to me many times. In many different grocery stores, might I add. The worst was a store manager that directed me to first refrigerated uncooked flour tortillas, then refrigerated tamales, and finally to the bakery and gave me a stack of bowls for a salad. Shockingly, I described a tostada to him about 5 times. I ended finding them in an isle with the chips, without any help. This was right after I was told by this manager that all of a sudden remembered that they discontinued them years ago. Crazy. Just crazy. I’ll spare you from the details of the other times I’ve asked where to find tostadas at a grocery store…

All this to say- if you’re reading this, and you’ve never had a tostada, stop right now and go get one. This not-knowing-what-a-tostada-is phenomenon must end.

Given that both my parents are Hispanic, I grew up in a home where my mother made Hispanic style food every single day. You might think burritos. Not quite. My mother would make sure there was rice and beans everyday, as well as a constant supply of tortillas. Whatever meal she decided to make, the rice, beans, and tortillas would compliment the meal. My father is a farmer, so naturally they always used their own peppers to make sauces and such. She made everything from scratch: enchiladas, sopes, tamales, bistec, pozole, caldos, mole, tostadas etc.

Now that I am married, I try to cook like my mother does, which I must admit, doesn’t always turn out the same… I’ve come to the conclusion that as unique as people are, so is their cooking. I’ll master mine sooner or later.

My comfort foods are quite different than the comfort foods of my husbands. Here, I’ll share the recipe to one of mine: Chicken Tostadas. When the weather gets warmer, I tend to prepare more dinners that aren’t eaten hot, and can be made ahead to avoid cooking in the heat of the day, like tostadas.

The tostadas themselves you can purchase in a store, if you don’t want to make them. Trust me, they’re there. Or you can opt to make them, like my mother and I like to do.

To make the tostadas, pour cooking oil of your choice into a frying pan, about an inch high. I avoid canola oil and vegetable oil, and recommend grape seed oil. Heat to medium, or until a small piece of bread browns quickly without burning. If it takes to long, it will soak up oil, and you don’t want that. It’s gross, trust me. Have a flat plate next to the pan lined with paper towels or napkins to catch excess oil. Fry each tortilla until golden in color. Fry for a minute or two on each side. You can make these ahead and store in an air tight container.


For the chicken mixture , start out by boiling about a pound of chicken with one bay leaf, two cloves of crushed garlic, and salt. My personal preference is to use chicken  breast, but any part of chicken will work great. This is a type of meal that will work great if you forget to defrost your meat. Frozen meat will work fine. Cook thighs and dark meat for approximately 20 mins, and breasts for approximately 30 mins. Add approximately 10 mins to each if you’re starting out frozen. Bring to a boil, then to a steady simmer.


Meanwhile that’s cooking, cut up about a cup each of: potato, carrot, and zucchini. The smaller the chunks, the better.

Once chicken is cooked fully through, pull it out and place it on a plate to cool. Use two forks to shred your chicken, and set aside.

Pour your veggies into the boiling chicken broth. The key is to NOT over cook the veggies. About 5-7 mins. Taste a piece to make sure they’re semi-soft, but not crunchy. Once done, immediately rinse them in cold water to stop cooking.


Meanwhile veggies cook, cut up about 1 cup of lettuce into small bits. I recommend sturdy lettuce, like hearts of romaine. Squish lime juice over it, and toss it together. Don’t be afraid to put too much, the lime juice will give it a fresh flavor. About one lime should suffice.


Add lettuce, cold veggies, chicken, one can of sweet whole corn, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, and 1/2 cup of sour cream. I recommend Best Foods mayonnaise, it simply tastes the best. I only buy that “bad Best Foods mayo” for certain things, this is one of them. If you don’t have it on hand, I like to mix a 1/2 cup sour cream with a 1/2 cup of any alternative mayonnaise. Season with lots of salt and pepper, and extra lime juice if you wish.


Top tostadas with a nice helping of the chicken mixture. I always use hot sauce and slices of avacado as toppings. Feel free to have fun with your tostadas! I’ve tried toppings such as pickled jalapeños and pickled spicy onions, just to name a few. That’s what’s fun about tostadas, the endless combination of toppings. See? Tostadas are awesome. All should know about them.

Buen Provecho!








To be, or not to be.

Jarrod and I watched a movie tonight, called the Mona Lisa Smile. Interesting movie. And it got me thinking…

First, let me tell you a bit about myself. I used to play 3 sports a year, one in each season since I was in middle school. Soccer, volleyball, and softball. Played the flute, and saxophone, and was a part of a jazz band as well as a concert band. In middle school, I competed and won the opportunity to be the only kid in my entire school to attend a girls math and science camp at Stanford for the summer. In high school, I again applied and competed for a spot in a program called Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, where a select few kids from each high school around the area got a chance to tour a different career on site, once a month, for a year. I was the editor of my high school yearbook. I got a GPA average score of 4.67 in my freshman year in high school, and kept it pretty close for the following years. Took every honors course or AP course that I could. Took French for 4 years. And I was in Girl Scouts from the first grade until I graduated from high school; raised enough money with them over the years to go to Europe for a month after graduating high school.


I remember my counselor telling me this: “You can get into Stanford, easy. Please don’t go to the local Junior College.” But I did.

See, I could have gone to an Ivy League college, Standford even. But God’s plans are not our plans. For the reason only God knows, I stayed here, in my hometown. Never left. Met Jarrod. Got married. And had my beautiful baby girl.

I always catch myself thinking that thought, from time to time. Like tonight when we watched that movie. My life would have been completely different. I might have never accepted Christ into my life. I might have never met Jarrod. I might have never had my baby girl. And I can scarcely fathom those thoughts. It seems like my Ivy League college life would have been utterly meaningless without what I have now. And yet, that thought crosses my mind once in a while.

Tonight, I took a part from the movie we watched to heart. A young woman was like me, with dreams of going to Yale University to be a lawyer. But decided to get married and stay home. The lines were between her and the teacher:

“It was my choice, not to go. He would have supported it.”
“But you don’t have to choose.”
“No, I have to. I want a home, a family. That’s not something I’ll sacrifice.”
“No one’s asking you to sacrifice that, Joan. I just want you to understand that you can do both.”
“Think I’ll wake up one day and regret not being a lawyer?”
“Yes I’m afraid you will.”
“Not as much as I’d regret not having a family. Not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing. And it doesn’t make me any less smart.”

I pray about these feelings whenever these thoughts cross my mind. But that’s it, exactly the way that character said it. I’m not any less smart. It’s all still there! It’s just being used in a different way than planned. I have to constantly remember, our ways are not God’s ways. And I’m so incredibly blessed and so incredibly happy to be where I am now.



The Honey-Do-List

If there’s anyone that’s the queen of honey-to-do lists, it’s definitely me.

When we first moved in to our small apartment, I almost caught the place on fire. In the first week. I had never used an electric stove before, so I didn’t know it could get so hot… so fast. I was making a roast with veggies for dinner. I needed to brown it on all sides, before putting it into the oven. I’ve done this countless of times. So I put my oil into my cast iron dutch oven, and let it heat up. Then BOOM. The whole pot was engulfed in flames. Stupidly, I stood there, thinking of all the things I should do, but I didn’t move. Luckily, my husband was home! From the living room, he saw the kitchen was in an orange glow. He jumped up and told me to grab the baby and get out. By now, the smoke alarms went off and my neighbors were outside. Talk about an introduction to the neighborhood… So then Jarrod tries to cover the flames. Doesn’t work. Burns two towels in the process. So he decides to grab the thing and throw it outside. Well, it falls on the linoleum. Then he just kicked it out the front door. So now we have a lovely black charred mark on our kitchen floor.

We later get permission to “beautify” our home from our landlord. So we buy hardwood flooring for our small kitchen. Well, it’s not totally real… but it will suffice. And makes momma one happy lady.

Weeks go by and the flooring just sits there, and sits there…

I’m sure I could just take it out and figure it out on my own. But would that make my hubby happy? Absolutely not. It would freak him out. So being a good wife, I wait. There are so many projects around the house that I need help on. Hence, my ridiculously long honey-to-do list.

See, my husband works in a lot. He works 6 days a week. Leaves around 5:30am, and comes home close to 6pm. Always covered in dirt, tired, and hungry. Asking him to continue working for me, is just out of the question. So I wait. There will come a time to do one project, then the next.

Having honey-to-do lists isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. It is important to a woman, especially a stay at home wife/momma to beautify her home. And my hubby understands that. And lucky for me, he agrees with my sense of style for our home. So I find a way to make due while I wait.

For example, I want to paint my bookcase white. Before I paint it, I need to empty it out, then sand it. Sand every bit of it. And it needs to be done on a sunny day, so the paint can dry. My hubby is happy to help, but it must be on a day off. So for now, I make my black bookcase work. I put a white lampshade on my lamp post, and placed it next to the bookcase for contrast. Then I put a large basket with extra blankets next to it, for texture. And antique wine jugs with a basket type weave on top of the bookcase, to give it height and make the look cohesive. It works for now, and I’m happy with it until it’s white someday.

Another example is my bench area by my staircase. I would really like a simple bench with iron sides and made with planks of wood on top, and a shelf underneath. I would use this at the foot of my staircase, so people can sit, set their purse down, or have a place to put their shoes underneath. Like my husband’s boots. Right now, his boots are here and there… They have no home so the dirt and rocks get all over my floor! I would set my fiddle leaf fig plant next to it, small blanket on top, and voilà. Perfect bench area. My husband said it would be so easy to forge those pieces of iron at work. And getting the wood, and staining it if need be, would be very easy. I’m so glad to hear that!! But meanwhile, I set two old apple crates on their sides, and they act as my makeshift bench for now. No one can sit on it though… So just purses and shoes allowed. It will work while I wait.

Those are just a couple of things on my list…

To beautify our home is important, but it must not become a priority. And I can humbly say, that I need constant reminders. That’s one of the reasons why I like to hang scripture on my walls in my house. So while I’m cooking dinner, or busy doing something where I can’t sit and read my bible, I can look up and read and be reminded.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
And continues to say in 6:9 “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

The verse I chose to hang in my kitchen is a great reminder that a home is first built on wisdom. And understanding that, you can build a great home thereafter. I didn’t have a frame, so I just wrote it on a piece of paper and just tacked it up on my wall. And I think it looks just perfect.

“Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

That’s how I want my home, with all the rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches.