The Age of the Selfie

Selfie with my chicas!

Selfie with my chicas!

We are living in a new era! It is the age of the “selfie”.    Be it an impromptu funny moment or a need to document a fabulous outfit, whatever the reason everyone from the Pope to President Obama seems to be doing them.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find college level psychology classes dedicated to the subject in the near future.  As a matter of fact, after a recent review of my camera roll on my cell phone, it would appear that my 19 month old daughter is becoming quite adept at taking them too!

Inspired by some amazing close-ups of her little nostrils and left eyeball (which I will never be able to delete!) I decided I needed to work my way into some of those shots.  Time is not on my side!  These little girls are growing up so fast and changing everyday.  When I look back through my camera roll I see hundreds of pictures of my girls and maybe one or two of me! Gia is now at the stage where she will look at a picture and remember something about that particular day.

Last week she saw a photo of herself dressed in a tutu and said, “Mommy, remember that was Anastasia’s birthday party?”  That’s when it hit me.  She’s going to remember that day but maybe not that I was there with her.  We played with chalk on the sidewalk and flew a kite together, and I really wish I had handed my camera to someone or taken a “selfie” of the three of us.  Honestly, now I’m more motivated than ever to move from behind the camera and get into more pictures with my little ones!

Last weekend we had such a lovely time hanging out in the backyard…Spring has definitely sprung! When I saw the girls playing on the tire swing together I thought to myself, these are the moments I live for! And I have to admit, this is when I’m so grateful to have a phone with a camera.  I wanted to capture this moment forever. This was a moment I wanted to insert myself into.  I joined them on that tire swing, snapped a shot of the three of us and then swung us round and round until we laughed!

I hope you all will make a point of inserting yourselves into more pictures with your kids and take selfies when you can! And, right now, you can share those special moments with Sprout.  MomIsHere is an awesome initiative, which was created by Sprout, to remind Moms to jump into those pics with our kiddos and capture some unforgettably special family moments that you will always remember.  Upload your pictures at http://www.momishere.com or on Instagram by tagging your photo with #MomIsHere.  I can’t wait to see all your smiling faces!!

 

 

Happy Spring!

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Rainbow by Gia!

I don’t know about you, but I get so happy when Spring officially begins.  What I love to see all around me are the bright greens shooting up through the ground, the buds appearing on the tips of the mango tree full of promise of juicy fruit, and ,without a doubt, nothing brightens my day more than pictures of rainbows drawn by my little Gia!

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One small act of kindness…

Last month I had a couple of trips that took me away from the girls.  I prepared the house and my husband for the trip by making sure everything was planned, shopped for, and meals were made and frozen.  I actually looked forward to the trips.  There would be some “me” time blended in with work.  As I sailed through the TSA checkpoint at the airport without a stroller, diaper bag and wandering toddlers to hold me back, I relished the thought of sleeping in a quiet hotel room and the million other things I did BK (before kids). Wrong, wrong, wrong!!

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Pumpkin Banana Bread

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Yes PUMPKIN! Yes BANANAS! This bread is awesomely amazing and I can’t stop making it. I currently have 3 loaves in my freezer! I found myself last month with about 35 bananas from our tree in the back yard. It was the end of October and I had pumpkin on the brain too! So I found a recipe for Pumpkin Banana Bread with Vanilla Bean Glaze which is really yummy, but I had to make it my own…in other words I had to get some chocolate in there! So here’s my version and I know you will love it!

Ingredients
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 c sugar
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups self-rising flour
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Using mixer, blend bananas and sugar. Add pumpkin until well-blended. Slowly add flour (or else you’ll get a dust storm!) Then add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. I’m sure some chopped walnuts would be lovely as well. I like to make this in 2 loaf pans (one to keep and one to give away!) or sometimes in 4 mini loaf pans, the disposable kind, so that I can make these as gifts. You just need to grease and flour the pans lightly and divide the batter evenly between them. Bake at 350 for approx 40-45 minutes. Testing with a toothpick helps determine when it’s done.

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Best Lasagna Ever!

Yummy and satisfying like a big warm hug, this is probably the best and quickest lasagna I’ve ever made.

Ingredients
3-4 Garlic cloves
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, 1 Rib of Celery, 1/2 Green Bell Pepper all chopped
1 lb ground beef
dried basil, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper
Jar marinara sauce
Box of ready to bake lasagna pasta
3 tbsp Butter
1/4 c flour
2 c warm milk (may not use it all but it’s best to have enough ready to go)
nutmeg, optional
olive oil
4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c parmesan cheese

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Meat Sauce: Using a large skillet sautee onion and garlic in some olive oil until translucent, but not brown. Add in remaining chopped veggies. You can always use just what’s on hand including zucchini, mushrooms, etc. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Push the veggies to the outer edge of pan and throw the ground beef in the middle. Using the wooden spoon break up the meat so it can all get cooked and start to brown up. Add in your spices now too so they can cook with the beef. Add enough of your favorite marinara sauce so that you are left with a thick meat sauce (not too runny). Throw in some red pepper flakes for a little kick. At this point I like to puree my meat sauce with an immersion blender stick (do be extremely careful when using this tool or a  blender, you need to let the sauce cool down as it may spatter and you could get burned!). I do this because my little ones don’t like the sauce chunky and, to be honest, I am now quite fond of the smooth texture. If you want to make your own sauce I would add a large can of peeled whole tomatoes (I love San Marzano) along with a large can of the same tomatoes but “crushed” variety. This gives you a nice thick sauce and would have to cook for at least 30-45 min and I would probably have added more garlic and herbs at the beginning.

Béchamel (White) Sauce: In a large skillet melt the butter with 1-2 TBSP olive oil. When it starts to bubble add the flour and whisk. The trick is to make sure you have enough liquid in the pan so that the flour doesn’t just become a thick ball of dough so be sure to add the flour 1 spoon at a time. Let the flour cook about a minute and then begin adding the warm milk about 1/4 c at a time. Keep whisking and keep the temp high enough so that it is constantly bubbling, and you will see a nice creamy sauce come together. Add salt, pepper and if you like some nutmeg. This sauce thickens as it sits so feel free to make it a little runny.

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Building the Lasagna: Spread a few spoonfuls of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Cover with your ready to bake lasagna sheets leaving space in between them. Trust me they expand and you will not be left with gaps. Now spread a good layer of meat sauce and top that with a bit of the béchamel. This sauce is thicker and won’t spread as easily, thats ok. As it heats it will spread. Next is a light layer of mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan. You will probably get 2 more layers like this one. On top finish with the last of the meat sauce and cheeses. Cover this with foil and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook about 15 more minutes until the top is bubbly (I usually put the broiler on to get the cheese to brown up)

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Let’s get cooking!

OK I’m not a chef but I do love to cook! I grew up watching and eventually helping my mom in the kitchen.  Its where she spent most of her time, still does now that I think about it.  And so it’s inevitable that I too spend much of my time cooking! I have fun doing it and, to be honest, I feel proud when I can serve my family a fresh, healthy meal.  My girls are still pretty young but when I’m in the kitchen cooking they almost always want to watch and help me! Hmmm…I wonder where they get it from?! LOL

I’m going to share recipes on this blog and it’s primarily because I have a terrible memory and have recipes scribbled down on bits and pieces of paper that can be found in almost every drawer in my house!  I need someplace to centralize my notes and this is as good a place as any.  Most of my recipes come from my mom and most of them have the classic “about a cup of” and “a pinch of” as measurements.  That used to freak me out when I started cooking on my own, but over the years I’ve seen it turn into an opportunity to experiment with a recipe and make it my own.  So, dear reader, should you decide to try one of my recipes don’t be afraid to change something to your liking and if you have a question just leave a comment!

Kindness counts.

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Gia sharing a cookie with baby sister!

I absolutely love that Sprout is searching for a kind kid to be their “Chief Kindness Officer”! Teaching and fostering kindness in our children is so important and Sprout wants to share how our kids demonstrate acts of kindness. (For more info on the contest click here!)  Now, more than ever before, I’m seeing how important it is to model the behavior and habits I hope my girls will one day take on as their own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to program them to be any certain way, I’m just trying to set a good example. I value kindness and thoughtfulness and if I don’t demonstrate those qualities then how can I expect them to? I think this contest is a great way for me to show Gia that there are so many different ways we can be kind everyday. I hope you will be inspired to talk to your little ones about kindness and share a picture as well.  Who knows? You might win a trip to Sprout’s HQ and better yet, a charitable donation will be made in your childs’ name!

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