Family Favorite Recipe

I am wrapping up my cook book, and much like a lot of things in my life this book as well as this recipe in particular happened out of pure accident.

This particular recipe was created out of necessity as I remember clearly that I quite literally had about $5.00 which I had procured in tips waiting tables for the night, working the graveyard shift at a 24 hour cafe.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and friends have.

Pasta con Atun y Salsa Rosada (Pasta with Tuna & Pink Sauce)

Serves 6

Prep time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Cost per person: $0.98

1 box of your favorite pasta

2 can’s of tuna (in water) – drained

1 can of sweet peas – drained (15oz) – optional

1/4 cup of mayonnaise

1/4 cup of ketchup

1. The pasta should be cooked in a large pot of salted, boiling water then drained. Follow directions on the box). Add the drained peas and tuna to the pasta.

2. In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise and ketchup.

3. Add the sauce mixture to the pasta. Toss until the sauce has been incorporated completely.



What Goes On Behind Closed Doors

I sometimes wonder what goes on behind closed doors in homes. When I drive by and see a bunch of balloons tied to the stairwells I can only assume there is a celebration of sorts going on.

Such was the case in my home this past Sunday, my home was buzzing with energy and activity. I prepped, cooked and cleaned the night before. I was up until 3 in the morning, working hard making sure that everything was quite literally picture perfect and ready to go for the following day. You see, I have just finished my cook book and had the photographer coming in to take pictures of the recipes in the first chapter. 

I had 15 recipes ready to go; I had a table full of props that included fresh veggies, fruits, flowers, and plate wear. It was an exciting but arduous process. Thankfully there was lots of sunlight and this allowed for great pictures in natural lighting vs. artificial lighting. I hear that this is a huge deal!

In addition to that my photographer, Sylk Negron from Sylk Photography was amazing. She really helped in making the process run very smoothly. Not to mention that every picture came out fantastic! I tried to document my experience of the day by taking pictures myself. My efforts however do not in any way, shape or form compare to the ones captured through a professional’s lens.

At the expense of seeming like the neighborhood peeping tom I admit that I am now doubly curious as to what happens behind closed doors. As I sit at a red light and look around I sometimes catch glimpses of people in their homes moving around. I wonder, “hmmm, is it normal humdrum life or are they too prepping for an exciting, possibly life changing event?”  


Confessions of a Momtrepreneur

 I am a mom of 4 and a business owner. In addition to owning my insurance practice I find myself always seeking for additional revenue streams as well as ventures that will allow me to express my creative side.  All of this and I still have to be sure to get dinner on the table, keep house, help kids with homework and serve as a chauffeur.  Never mind “tending to my husband”. I am always asked “How do you do it?” and my response is always the same… “You do what you have to do”.  I know that the response I give is of little solace, especially for those who are looking to tap into their own entrepreneurial side. The reality is that a lot of these things do not always get executed the way I’d like them to.  I try to prep a couple of meals on Sundays so that during the week I can just toss the salad that goes along with the casserole or have “kits” prepped so that I can throw it in the slow cooker, but the reality is that I have found myself reaching for the hamburger helper box, running to the nearest Jewel for the ready made rotisserie chicken or better yet the phone for takeout. I have given up hope on my linen closet looking like the ones in the display at Pottery Barn and the fact that my Christmas tree is still up is of no consequence.  I have now decorated the Christmas tree as a birthday tree.  I used it as decoration for my sisters birthday dinner because I didn’t have time to take the tree down and go to the store and get balloons and proper decorations.  So I improvised… Bottom line, I am trying to keep it together as best I can.  It is more important to me that I leverage my time wisely and that means I am either taking “money making” meetings with potential clients or I am making beautiful and meaningful memories with my family as I spend true quality time with them.  Everything else is just white noise.  Isn’t this the way it is for everyone though? Don’t we all have “crazy” times in our lives where some things need to be allowed to fall on the wayside or we run the risk of actually becoming crazy?  I can sleep when I die and I can keep the picture perfect home when I can afford a full time maid!

Clean up on aisle 12

My daughter waited until the very last-minute on a Sunday evening to tell me that she needed knee highs and cleats for soccer tryout the following day. I was annoyed to say the least but this is my job right? My child’s comfort and needs have to take priority over mine. Nevermind that she had all weekend to get her soccer gear. My husband, daughter and I piled into the car and set off to the only store open on a Sunday at 10:30 pm that could possibly have the needed items…Wal-Mart

The store was relatively empty which was a bonus. I hate wasting time so I ask a sales clerk if he knew whether or not they carried soccer gear, he says no. I turned the corner of that aisle expecting to head home with a very disappointed daughter but there they were….All purpose cleats, knee highs and shin guards. (Score!)

As my daughter tried on her cleats I walked around to the next aisle and found myself with a very familiar sight, male orthopedic shoes, the kind with the Velcro straps. I instantly had the strangest reaction. I felt like someone was standing on my chest, I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t take a step, my nose tickled as my eyes got watery, it was very intense and as I tried to quickly sort through these feelings I kept reminding myself of where I was. I wondered if I was having some kind of attack. My husband walked by me and instantly knew that I was having issues.  He looked at me and as I was about to say something he quickly says, “I know”, and pulls the end of the cart prompting me to follow and exit the aisle…he knew that if I had to actually explain the look on my face I would lose it.

These were the same types of shoes my dad wore for quite some time. These were also the last items I remember placing in the bin before I donated his belongings. He passed away 2 years ago after an exhausting battle with several ailments most of them brought on by himself. I still remember getting the phone call from a random nurse telling me that my father was asking for me. Asking for my help. He was transported from a hospital to a hell hole of a nursing home somewhere in the city.  As I walked through this dirty, infested, state run facility, I remember thinking to myself. “No one deserves to live their last days in a place like this, not even you dad.” And so I charged on with the responsibility of getting him in a better home with better care. It wasn’t easy and it was very stressful, but i would like to make something clear. It wasn’t an altruistic spirit that led me down this path. I did it for me not for him. I did it because it was the right thing to do and I knew I would regret not making an effort to alleviate his pain.

Once I had him moved to a better home they went from amputating his left foot(due to type 2) to amputating his right leg shortly there after. I found myself running around for the better part of 2009. Chasing down physicians for records so that he may receive appropriate treatments, emptying out his apartment, putting his affairs which were a complete mess in order etc…All the while working full-time and taking care of my family. I was exhausted and resentful; because I did more for him in 1 year then he did for me in a lifetime.

When my dad died, I did not shed a tear. It didn’t hurt and I wasn’t sad. That in itself though was sad; I felt guilty that I did not feel sadness, that bothered me… still does sometimes.

I had mourned the relationship with my dad long ago. I was very young when he left. With all of this said, I have some happy memories. I remember being hoisted onto his shoulders and playing drum beats on his bald head as he walked through the crowds at Puerto Rican Festivals or parades. I remember my little hand in his big hand as he walked me across the busy streets. I remember the smell of his after shave and cologne. All of these things were very real to me in this moment of internal chaos.  As soon as my parents started having issues I became a pawn in their war of the roses. My dad definitely used our relationship as a weapon and that left me in a bad place when the house of cards fell and he was nowhere to be found. This is where a whole different kind of life started for me.

All of these thoughts flooded in and out. It took minutes but it felt like a lifetime, right there on aisle 12 at Wal-Mart.

I reconciled all of these thoughts and emotions later that night and cried. Truly cried, with a heavy heart and a runny nose. I cried because now I mourned the loss of something that could never be. The fact was that at this point even if I wanted to give him another chance I couldn’t because it was final. Death is final.

Fathers, be good to your daughters. Fathers help mold the future of women in so many ways. The kind of men they are attracted to and the relationships that they have are usually based on their relationships with their dads. Daughters are part of your legacy too, not just the boys! More importantly, your daughter might be the one encumbered with the task of taking care of you when you need it most. Are you sure your daughter will be there ready and willing to take on that task?

I’m Megan?

Went out last night with my little sister and her friends some of whom I have now friended myself… and not just on Facebook.

We were all “DIVAFIED” as we usually are. All 6 of us, beautiful, intelligent and accomplished women of color, out for a night in the town to celebrate the life of one of the most amazing people I know, my sister. We were having fantastic conversation amongst ourselves and even better drinks which in turn made conversation even more interesting. We were truly looked upon in envy, you can see just by glancing in our direction that we were all going to have a great night. As we drank and talked we were approached by the waitress who commented on what a dynamic group we were and that she would love to join the “crew” for the night if only she wasn’t working…As if this is all that would have needed to happen to be a part of our little group…She then proceeds to tell us that we reminded her of the group of women from Bridesmaids, now this came as a surprise to me because A. none of us are white and B. We were either married or single in the group so… no bridesmaids here, but of course I am a curious creature and so naturally her comment prompted me to ask the question… Which one am I??

I am not sure which character of the movie I expected to be or even wanted to be, she quickly blurts out with no hesitation…”You are totally Megan!”

This took me by surprise because even though I did not know who I wanted to be, I certainly in a million years did not think I would be compared to Megan. All I could think of right at that moment was that obnoxiously hilarious scene where she lifts her leg in the cabin of the plane trying to entice the air marshal into flirting back. I then flashed forward to the end of the movie where she is having foreplay by way of sandwich on the air marshals’ naked body… One scene more disturbing than the other. I quickly responded, “Your tip is disappearing quickly”, she then quickly replies, “I think you’re much prettier though”.  

WOWZA! That was a hit to my ego, but as I mulled it over throughout the evening and through today I have come to the conclusion that her comment was in no way an insult. Megan was the best character in the movie! She made the movie and was honored with a coveted Oscar award for best supporting actress. She was funny and insightful, she was helpful and smart. She definitely needed a fashion intervention but why was I offended at hearing that initial comparison. Hmmm, I’m Megan… why not?

I think I’ll go back next weekend and give her a tip after all.

Moves Like Jagger

Last night I attended a Maroon 5 concert. I have wanted to catch them live for quite some time now and was so excited when I found out that I had tickets. Adam happens to be on my “list”. (I will explain the “list some other day!) I have been so infatuated with that man along with millions of others I am sure… I put on the cutest thing I had in my closet and wore red lipstick! (Anyone who knows me knows I don’t wear red lipstick) Once I arrived at Union Station (where this said concert was to be held) I realized that it wasn’t going to be the most “comfy” of situations. There was no seating and after an hour my feet were screaming… take off the heels!!

I also came to find out that while we purchased our tickets more than half of the people there got them for free :/  In addition to that it was a promo concert for HarrisCasinos so it wasn’t really a “full ” concert is was more like half of a concert with other web casts from other cities holding the same kind of event. They had short films disguised as commercials, it was a whole shenanigans.

First Sara Barielles got on stage and that was an unexpected treat, it was hosted by Juliana Rancic and her husband but the reality is we were all there for MAROON 5… I was dying by hour 2 in my heels being pushed by girls half my age wearing questionable clothing all the while contemplating how many questionable things they should do to have the bouncer allow them in the back room (Ahem) 

The second they got on stage my feet forgot they were in pain! I forgot how annoyed I was, truth is they were ELECTRIFYING… they started with the first song which was Moves Like Jagger, 30 seconds into the song I started to tear up…Now let’s get this straight…I am not the girl who is so overwhelmed by an artist that she will begin to cry and scream and tear at her clothing. I quickly realized that I am about to look like the biggest doofus tearing up to Moves Like Jagger, I didn’t even want hubby catching on that I was this emotional. So I did what we all do when we are in this situation (or maybe it’s just me) I pretended to have caught debris in my eyes…both of them!

 You are probably reading this and wondering WTH is Carmen’s problem… who gets emotional over “Moves Like Jagger”??? Well let me explain.

A couple of years ago when the verdict from doctors in regards to my daughter was that she in fact had Aspergers and was also suffering from verbal apraxia it was devastating to us. They told us that she would struggle to speak and that it could quite literally take years for her to be able to verbally communicate effectively with us. We had speech therapists in and out of our home on a bi-daily basis and did all of the exercises, even on our own, when there was no professional around. We started to learn sign language as we did not know how bad it would be… We were all really expecting for the best but preparing for the worst. Her tongue seemed to “loosen” up with time and she would say words and phrases but not speak in full sentences. She is 5 now and still struggles a bit with truly communicating verbally. She understands what you have to say and knows what she wants to say but can’t get it all out. this also creates in her a form of self doubt and inhibition as she can feel that she is somehow missing the mark. So it definitely makes her self conscious and defensive.

We are very much a musical family and always have something musical happening in the home there’s either my husband who is prepping his music collection or listening to new tunes for the coming weekend play list (he’s a DJ) or someone is belting out a tune (usually me), playing an instrument or showing off a new dance step in the kitchen…you get the picture, so it made sense for it to become a natural form of expression for her as well. She started feeling comfort in this environment and let her guard down. This is when she truly allowed us to be silly with her and she would reciprocate the action, other than that she was pretty expressionless. She would sing some of the words to Justin Beiber songs or the Barney song, imitate dance steps but it wasn’t until she heard Moves Like Jagger that magic happened.

Every time the song would come on she would get quiet and tell everyone in the car shhhh….Until one day she belted out the song at the top of her lungs… THE ENTIRE SONG!

This is when true evolution in her verbal skills came full circle. I was so excited when she started saying more and using her expressive language in a more effective way that I never really pinpointed where it all began until last night. I stopped looking at Adam as a piece of meat and thought to myself… This guy has no clue that this song transformed my little girl! Transformed us!

Since the day she sang that song we haven’t stopped having the most wonderful of conversations!