Hand lettered with love

I love my family. I enjoy spending my time and energy to do what I can for them. My two boys are my world. But as they grow up, I know that I need to also focus on myself. By learning, and working on myself, I become a better version of myself, and that makes me better for my family. A few months ago, I found some lettering challenges on Instagram, and decided to start teaching myself modern calligraphy and brush lettering. I have always worked on my handwriting, and love doodling words and phrases. This quickly grew from a hobby to a passion. I spend a few hours every day working on my skills. I have found a supportive community of lettering enthusiasts on Instagram. I’ve been thinking of starting a small lettering business from home. Hand lettering is something that I enjoy, something that relaxes me, something that allows me to be creative.

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no longer a baby

My little one is growing up. This June he will be 5 years old and kindergarten is quickly approaching. He has always been independent, but cuddly. Strong willed, but gentle. He has been my sidekick for almost 5 years, and I think that it’s me that is having separation anxiety as the fall approaches.

This week he had kindergarten orientation. This is a new school, so I went and listened, and took copious notes. The children were led away by the teachers to visit the kindergarten classrooms. Off went my baby, and for an hour he played, and colored, and interacted with the teachers and other students. He came back so excited! He ran back to me, gave me a huge hug and exclaimed “I went to kindergarten!”

When Garren was a baby and toddler I worked full-time. With Nathan, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since before he was born. When Garren goes off to school in the morning, and Nathan doesn’t have pre-school, we spend the day together. This is precious, quality time that is just the two of us. He has started coming over to me when I’m at my desk, smiling at me and saying “I just want to tell you that I love you.”

I push him to be independent. I want him to learn to do things for himself. But I also do not want to lose this special bond that he and I have. Kindergarten is quickly approaching. In a few months, his teachers will see him more than I will. In a few months, he will grow and mature by leaps and bounds. But just for right now, just for this moment, I want to freeze time. I just want to tell him I love him.

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friends are family

Life keeps us all busy. Balancing work, home, and family can make us feel tired and disconnected. We have had a lot going on, and haven’t had a chance to see our friends in a while, so I decided to make dinner plans with some friends on Friday night and Sunday night. We needed a chance to unwind, and be social, but to do it from the comfort of our own home.

Friday night dinners with Andi and Michael are our favorite way to end the work week. We try to see each other as often as we can, and its been a while so we wanted to reconnect. They come over and bring a wonderful, happy energy. We eat a delicious home cooked meal, drink, laugh, and just unwind. What better way is there to show people that you love and care for them than to cook for them? It’s nice to have friends who make it easy. They come over because they want to see you, and you can be relaxed, you can just watch a movie or play some games. We needed a night like that to get us out of our slump.

Sunday night we had some more friends over for dinner. It was an opportunity to catch up with people that we hadn’t seen in months. We picked up right where we left off, had another delicious home cooked meal, and laughter filled the house again.

In the crazy day-to-day hustle it’s easy to forget how important friendships are. The best friendship are the ones that give you energy, that don’t require a lot of energy to maintain. Our best friends are the ones we know will be there when we call… even if it’s been a few months.

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Easter Sunday Happiness

Happy Easter! We don’t celebrate this holiday so this is just a nice Sunday of a long weekend for us. My little one woke up early, and after playing for a little while snuck into our bedroom, poked me in the shoulder, and said “Can you get up now? I’m hungry.” Of course, I drag myself out of bed, even though I was not prepared to start my day. My little one loves being in the kitchen with me, and as I start to prep pancakes for breakfast he pulls up a chair and asks to help me cook. Together we make pancakes for breakfast, and he is so proud to call his big brother to the breakfast he helped prepare.

Now that the boys are dressed and fed, I am feeling productive. I decide to get started on making tonight’s dinner. I figure that if I have the time consuming part finished then I can throw the rest of dinner together quickly when we all get hungry. Dinner tonight is meatballs and sauce. I start by grinding the beef, this has made a huge difference in my food, and is worth the effort if you have the opportinity to grind your own meat. I get the meatballs and sauce made, and take the boys to the playground to play. It’s a beautiful day and getting my dinner made early means I get to spend some quality time having fun with the kids. 

Then my sister asks me to go to Manhattan with her to hang out for the afternoon. I quickly get ready and off I go for some sister time in the city. When I get home we have dinner ready quickly and now the boys are watching Harry Potter before bed. One decision, to make dinner early, changed my day entirely. I didn’t procrastinate, and my family was taken care of, and I had some time for myself as well. Lazy Sundays are special in their own way, but days like today remind me how full and fulfilling my life can be. 

  
MEATBALLS AND SAUCE (adapted from Ina Garten http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/real-meatballs-and-spaghetti-recipe.html )

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs 
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan 
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic minced 
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 
  • Olive oil, and vegetable oil

Combine the meat, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, water, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Heat equal amounts of olive oil and vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Make meatballs, approximately 2″, and brown on all sides in the skillet. Set them aside when they are done. Discard oil, do not wipe pan clean. Add some olive oil, and heat over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add chicken stock, and scrape browned bits off bottom of pan. Bring to a simmer. Add crushed tomatoes and stir in 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Return meatballs to skillet, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. 

Making Good Memories

Let’s start with the basics. Hubby travels every week. Some weeks are crazier than others, but for the most part, the majority of the school week I am on my own with the boys. Between shuttling them to school, and after school activities, maintaining the house (as best as I can), cooking meals which never really feel like family meals with dad away, and running errands, things can get busy.

I am in love with our boys, and often am amazed at how happy and loving they are. They are each other’s best friends. They know that I am always there for them, but now they are learning that they are there for each other. They stick up for each other (and my heart wants to burst when I see this… even when they are standing up to me).

Then there are those moments that wash away the long day. The boys climb into my bed in their pajamas, cuddle close, and listen as I read to them. They let the day go, unwind, and relax before bed. Even when my husband is home, this is my time with them. This is what we share together because I do not always want to be the one making rules and disciplining them. There is plenty of time for that. I want to make sure that I am creating happy memories with the boys. I decided to read the Harry Potter books aloud to them, and then we watch the movies as we finish reading each book. I go all out on those family movie nights, creating a themed dinner and movie snacks. The boys look forward to it, and this is something that we will all remember forever.IMG_1248

Spring Cleaning

The grass is turning the green, the sun is starting to peek through the gray winter sky, and flowers are pushing up through the dirt. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs, and inject new life into this blog. Life can get chaotic with the hubby being away from home every week. I want to share the every day successes and trials of being a stay-at-home mom to my two boys. The boys are growing quickly, so I’ll share some milestones and anecdotes too.

As the boys grow, and our diet and tastes evolve, so does the food that I cook. It’ll be great to share what works for family meals, and what doesn’t. I love to cook, and bake, and this will be a great way to motivate me to be creative instead of falling into a rut. I will try to remember to take pictures of what I make, but honestly, sometimes everything gets eaten so quickly!

I hope that you’ll follow along. It’s nice to know that, as a stay-at-home mom, we are not alone.

Ying Yang gazpacho

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Friday night we had a small dinner party with friends, and I wanted to make a delicious, filling meal that was not too heavy. I settled on making a chopped salad, gazpacho 2 ways, green beans, and filet of sole in a butter sauce. I decided to make a yellow tomato gazpacho soup and a traditional red tomato gazpacho. When I served them, I put them together in the same bowl, and my friends named it ying yang gazpacho. The pickiest of eaters even ate a bowl of this gazpacho. I think that this will become a summer time staple. The soups have great complimentary tastes and textures. They are easy to make, and are a nice change from having salad.

Приятного аппетита

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

2 pints yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 Valencia orange, peeled and pith removed
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove
3/4 cups olive oil
1/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 Tsp hot sauce, or to taste

Working in batches, purée ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, whisk, and chill, covered, for one hour. Whisk before serving.

Traditional Gazpacho

4-6 ripe red tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cups olive oil

Working in batches, purée ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, whisk, and chill, covered, for one hour. Whisk before serving.

Both soups can be served with croutons and some chopped chives.