“Mommy, I want the green soup for dinner!”



Split-pea soup: it’s what’s for dinner!

Just because its nearly 100 degrees in Miami, it doesn’t mean my littlest one doesn’t feel like eating her favorite soup! (So I learned this weekend!)  This is pretty much the tastiest, easiest and healthiest soup you can make.  Both of my girls absolutely love it. So, when they actually ask for Split Pea Soup instead of pizza or pasta, I do all I can to get it ready as quickly as I can!

When they were babies, and just beginning to eat solids, I would puree the soup before serving so that they would have no problems with the bits of ham.  I firmly believe that giving them interesting, complex “grown-up” foods at a young age has helped expand their palate and interest in foods and, come dinner time, I am very grateful!

This soup is hearty and one bowl will fill you up! You could always split the recipe in half, but I like to make a large batch since I know we’ll eat it one night, have leftovers maybe the next night, and the rest will be stored in tupperwares for the freezer! One small side note: I make a baked ham 2-3 times a year and I always freeze my left overs.  I use the freezer-safe zip-close baggies and portion out amounts that will work for batches of soup like this one.

Split Pea Soup

1/2 small onion (or 2 leeks, white/light green part, rinsed well), chopped

3-4 carrots, diced (a handful of baby carrots will work just fine also!)

2 ribs of celery, diced

3/4-1 cup smoked/cooked ham (I prefer using leftovers from a baked ham, use the bone too, but store-bought is fine too)

2 (14-16oz) bags dried split peas

4 quarts chicken stock (2 big boxes of the low fat/no sodium/no msg store-bought stuff works, but homemade is better!)

3 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 1tbsp of dried)

1 bay leaf

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Sautee onions in olive oil in a pressure cooker or large pot.  When translucent add carrots and celery.  Sometimes, if I have a leftover bit of green pepper or zucchini, I add it as well.  After a few minutes throw in the ham and bone if you have it.  When it all begins to smell amazing add in the split peas – be sure to rinse them in a colander first in case there are any stones.  Toss in the herbs and chicken stock, salt and pepper.  I don’t add all of the stock right away.  I like for the soup to be a creamy consistency, not watery, so I add about 3/4 of the liquid and, as it cooks, I can add more as needed.  Don’t worry, though, if it is too watery you can almost always boil it down.

So, if you’re using a pressure cooker close up the pot, once you hit high pressure lower the temp so that it barely simmers for 15 min.  Release pressure and check on the soup.  If its too thick add more stock and simmer, if it’s too thin just let it boil down.  If you’re not using a pressure cooker bring the soup to a boil, then lower the temp and cover so that it has a nice simmer for about 30-40 min.  Be sure to stir every 10 min and add more stock as needed.  This soup can get thick quick and will stick to the bottom of your pot if you’re not careful so keep a close eye on it.

This soup can easily become vegetarian and gluten-free by leaving out the ham and using a homemade veggie stock (be sure to check that any store-bought veggie stock is gluten-free since most have traces of gluten or yeast)

When you reheat the soup it will have thickened considerably, so be sure to add water or more stock when you warm it up.


Summer of fun!

We are in the thick of summer over here and I’m already scrambling for things to do with the girls! We were lucky enough to go on a big trip for 3 weeks, but that was over by mid-June. Summer hadn’t even officially begun! I’m kinda feeling like we peaked early😉

Last summer my little one was still pretty little, taking 2 naps a day, so my days were structured mostly around her schedule. This is the first summer where I have 2 (very) active kiddos on my hands and I’m trying my best to find enough activities for us to do! I’d love to go to the pool everyday, but it’s just so hot in the middle of the day right that we are limited to early mornings or just before dinnertime. Both of my girls really love to do art projects, so most of my ideas revolve around our craft table.

I thought I would share some of things we’ve done so far and I would love (actually, I need) to hear from you what your favorite summer activities are!! For starters, I did have the girls in a summer camp for 1 week in June and 1 week in July.  These were great opportunities for them to see old friends and make some new ones. But, I want to take advantage of this time with my little girls, summer camps are expensive, and I’m not working as much as I was earlier this year so I’ve got the time.

  • I discovered a FREE weekly art class at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden! The girls love this Wednesday morning class from 10a-1p where they make art with traditional  and recycled materials. Today I found them in different areas of the garden using nature as inspiration. And, best of all, at the end of the summer their art will be displayed in a student art show!


  • Home made slime! We first made this a few years ago for their Frozen themed birthday party so I still had the Borax tucked away in the laundry room. You dissolve 1/2 tsp of Borax w 1/2 cup of hot water, dilute 1c clear glue with 1c hot water , then mix these two together. At this point you can add food coloring or glitter. We opted for glitter, obviously! This slimy substance keeps well in a zip-lock-type baggie in the fridge. This page is very helpful: http://www.twosisterscrafting.com/frozen-annas-diy-glitter-slime/


  • Dino-decoupage! I found these two dinosaurs in the craft section at Target and knew my dino-obsessed girls would love them. I found some acrylic paint, brushes and glitter in our craft supplies, put old t-shirts on them, and they created (outside, of course!) the coolest dinos I’ve ever seen. Once the beasts were dry we painted a coat of Mod-Podge to keep the glitter from getting everywhere.  Bianca insisted on sleeping with her dino every night that first week! I think we’re gonna have to try our hand at papier-mache soon!


  • 4th of July fun! We made some yummy patriotic treats to share with our friends.  I handled the melting of marshmallows but I let them mix in the food coloring.  They also measured  and mixed in the Rice Krispies.  They love helping me in the kitchen🙂


  • Super soft play dough! I got the inspiration for this play dough from KidsActivitiesBlog.com. It was quite simple, gave us fun for while, and left our hands smelling quite nice too! All it takes is combining 1 part hair conditioner to 2 parts Cornstarch.  My 3 year old enjoyed the mixing and kneading. She asked for some plastic plates and utensils from her toy kitchen and made animal and plant shapes. This is obviously not edible, so be sure to only try this one with kids who aren’t putting hands/things into their mouth all the time.
  • No-Melt Popsicles! This one is a no-brainer with this South Florida heat! Just mix 1 small box of Jello with 1 c of boiling water for 2 minutes. Add 1 c cold water then pour into your popsicle molds and freeze. I made a  red & blue ‘patriotic’ version of these for 4th of July last year. Kids can help measure the water and stir – being extra careful with the hot water part😉



  • Slip-n-Slide! Yes, we invested all of about $20 for one and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much they are really loving this! We had all the kids slipping and sliding in the back yard during our BBQ party last week.

Cooling off on a slippery slip-n-slide!

  •  Re-discover our local playgrounds! That’s right, we went back to a couple of parks that we hadn’t seen in months and our favorite is the one with the splash-pad, naturally! We are going through sunscreen like crazy this summer. I’m a stickler for reapplying every 45 minutes and avoiding the sun as best as I can between noon – 4pm.

Splash pad fun!

Alright, that’s it from me for now! I can’t wait to read your ideas for creating summer fun with your kids!!

“Tie”-dyed Eggs


I’m not sure if you saw this video circulating Facebook a couple of weeks ago, but when I did I knew I had to try it. I don’t normally take the leap from ‘like’ to ‘do’ when I see these videos (the majority of which are cooking videos that in 30 seconds and with just a few ingredients, result in an ooey-gooey, calorie-laden, fully-baked dessert) but this video was different.  I actually had all the materials close at hand and it looked simple enough to do with my girls. (*Links to videos below)

About a month ago I did a closet clean-out and came across some really old ties.  Honestly, I can’t believe my husband has hung onto these for over 25 years! I do understand some things have sentimental value, but these ties?? They were just ugly and hadn’t seen the light of day for decades!  So, why not recycle them and create something beautiful? No old ties in your closet? No problem! Really any piece of 100% silk fabric will work, so an old scarf would work too. Also, I’m sure you could find some really inexpensive ties or scarves at a thrift store.  Just be sure to read the labels because only silk fabric will work.


You’ll need white eggs, squares of 100% silk fabric, string or twine or twisty-ties, white cotton fabric from old t-shirts or muslin, vinegar, water, and a stainless steel or enamel coated pot.

If using ties, be sure to cut them open and remove the lining.  Cut them big enough to wrap an egg.  The cotton squares should be the same size. Gently wrap each egg in silk, with the nice side of the fabric touching the egg.  Collect the fabric at the top and use string to keep the egg snug inside.  In the video I watched they suggested that you wrap string all around the egg at this point.  The idea being that the closer the contact the fabric has to the shell, the better the image will transfer.  Neither I nor my kids had the  patience for this step so we skipped it! I supposed if you had some old nylons you could wrap the eggs in that to get the same effect – but you would have to be sure to keep the nylon very snug.



Next, we wrap the egg with the square of cotton and tie it all together at the top again.  I believe this step is to help prevent the dye from leaking out and mixing with the other eggs.


Now you are ready to boil the eggs.  Place them all into your pot and cover with water allowing for about 2″ of water over the top of the eggs.  Add about 1/4 cup of vinegar and bring to a boil.  Once your water is boiling reduce to a simmer and let it go for about 40 minutes.  Most of my research online about this technique suggests that it’s not recommended to eat these eggs since we don’t know what chemicals from the dye is leaching into the egg.  Also, an egg boiled for 40 minutes isn’t going to be very tasty either!

Remove the eggs from the water and let them cool down.  When they are ready to handle, sit down with your little ones and unwrap these gems! Each one will be a fun surprise for them!  Put a few drops of vegetable oil on a paper towel, rub each egg to bring out a nice shine and put them on display!



One last interesting note: while researching this technique I found out that if you leave these eggs out on display the insides will eventually ‘mummify’ or pulverize.  This means you could, in theory, display these year after year. Either this will happen or they will rot – I guess I’ll find out in a couple of weeks!

Happy Easter!


* Links:




Hi there!

NBC Universal wants to know who needs Minions the most and they are giving you the chance to vote from a select pool of talent…including me! Errr…rather, Nina!!!!

Sprout has nominated Nina to get some Minions to help out with the nightly bed time routine! After all, don’t we all need a little extra help sometimes?! So click here and show Nina some love. (As of Wednesday June 24 at 9:00am Nina is in 6th place!!!) Oh, and you just might win some tickets to see the new Minions movie next month!

You can vote once per day. See all the contest rules and prize info here.

Good luck!



Sprout’s #MomIsHere #NoFilter30

I hope you will join in the 30-day challenge and take a candid, no filter, shot with your kids every day and share it with us! All of the contest details are here: www.momishere.com

Day 30 – May 10, 2015

It's all about this moment! Pure and unconditional love!

It’s all about this moment! Pure and unconditional love!

Day 29 – May 9, 2015

Just heading out to take care of our plot at the community garden!

Just heading out to take care of our plot at the community garden!

Day 28 – May 8, 2015

My little princess going out for a ride on her tricycle!

My little princess going out for a ride on her tricycle!

Day 27 – May 7, 2015

Enjoying an ice cream sundae together! How sweet it is!

Enjoying an ice cream sundae together! How sweet it is!

Day 26 – May 6, 2015

mom is here (grocery shopping) - day 26

Grocery shopping after ballet class and we fell in love with the orchid display!

Day 25 – May 5, 2015

Made sombreros at Miami Children's Museum today! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Made sombreros at Miami Children’s Museum today! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Day 24 – May 4, 2015

Getting crafty with the art supplies...making Mother's Day cards.

Getting crafty with the art supplies…making Mother’s Day cards.

Day 23 – May 3, 2015

Heading to the pool and she fell in love with this turtle!

Heading to the pool and she fell in love with this turtle!

Day 22 – May 2, 2015

Going for a little ride on the bike after dinner to enjoy our gorgeous Spring weather!

Going for a little ride on the bike after dinner to enjoy our gorgeous Spring weather!

Day 21 – May 1, 2015

After a long week we just want to relax (TGIF!)

After a long week we just want to relax (TGIF!)

Day 20 – April 30, 2015

Making a wish in the fountain!

Making a wish in the fountain!

Day 19 – April 29, 2015

Finger-licking good pizza!

Finger-licking good pizza!

Day 18 – April 28, 2015

Goofing off before nap time!

Goofing off before nap time!

Day 17 – April 27, 2015

Spending time with my love bugs!

Spending time with my love bugs!

Day 16 – April 26, 2015

We like getting our hands dirty in the garden!

We like getting our hands dirty in the garden!

Day 15 – April 25, 2015

Building towers and castles together is fun!

Building towers and castles together is fun!

Day 14 – April 24, 2015

We checked in on our plants before school this morning!

We checked in on our plants before school this morning!

Day 13 – April 23, 2015

Taking care of our plants together is always a fun idea!

Taking care of our plants together is always a fun idea!

Day 12 – April 22, 2015

This is my happy place - surrounded by my sweet baby girls!

This is my happy place – surrounded by my sweet baby girls!

Day 11 – April 21, 2015

Can't leave out my four-legged baby, Pepe!

Can’t leave out my four-legged baby, Pepe!

Day 10 – April 20, 2015

While big sis is at school we get to play at home!

While big sis is at school we get to play at home!

Day 9 – April 19, 2015

A nice sunny morning! Perfect for splashing in the water.

A nice sunny morning! Perfect for splashing in the water.

Day 8 – April 18, 2015

Gotta stay hydrated at the park! Juice box break :)

Gotta stay hydrated at the park! Juice box break🙂

Day 7 – April 17, 2015

Sometimes it's all a juggling act!

Sometimes it’s all a juggling act!

Day 6 – April 16, 2015

There's always time for a snuggle

There’s always time for a snuggle.

Day 5 – April 15, 2015

Never a dull moment!

Never a dull moment!

Day 4 – April 14, 2015

Good morning!

Good morning!

DAY 3 – April 13, 2015

My girls love to dress up and get their faces painted!

My girls love to dress up and get their faces painted!

DAY 2 – April 12, 2015

Always a good idea to stop and smell the flowers!

Always a good idea to stop and smell the flowers!

DAY 1 – April 11, 2015

On our way to have some fun in the sun!

On our way to have some fun in the sun!

The challenge to find joy in everyday moments!

If you’re reading this, I know you’re a parent, and if you’re a parent I know you’re just as crazy-busy as I am. Most of the time I find myself caught up with just keeping up! Life with little ones is not easy. Usually I can be seen with some version of large tote bag/diaper bag hanging from my neck, water bottle in one hand and half-eaten banana in the other while the girls attack the playground.  Regardless of how hard it is, I know that these hectic everyday moments really do matter! Days like this are an important part of the fabric of our family life. I’ve realized that thinking like this allows me to start to feel more joy.  It truly does.  I am so very lucky, grateful and joyous to have my daughters.  Yes, I feel stressed, I feel pressured, I feel pushed and pulled, but if I can remind myself to embrace the craziness and just step right into it, I can actually feel the joy too!

Let me be honest, it often takes a nudge from someone outside my inner circle to remind me to think like this.  I forget that it’s important to insert myself into the moment. That instead of creating and fostering moments for just them, I could consciously create moments for us together.  And that’s what I love so much about Sprout’s #MomIsHere initiative. It’s the nudge I needed!

For those of you who don’t know, Mom Is Here is Sprout’s campaign that celebrates  moms everywhere and inspires them to get in front of the camera and back into the picture with their kids to celebrate everyday moments.  This year the campaign kicks off with a 30-day social media challenge called #NoFilter30.  The idea is to encourage us all to remember to get “in the picture” with our kids by posting one candid “no filter” picture everyday for the 30 days leading up to Mother’s Day. Oh, and there are prizes too! To enter, submit a photo on Instagram with the hashtags #NoFilter30 and #MomIsHere. Or submit a photo directly right here. For all the details visit www.momishere.com.

I have accepted the challenge! My pictures will be ‘no filter’, real everyday moments with my kids – without worrying about whether I’ve brushed my hair or put on lipstick or if my girls are wearing matching clothes or any of that silly stuff! I hope you’ll take the challenge too! I will be posting on Twitter (@MicheleLepe) and Instagram (MicheleLepe).  Maybe at the end of the 30 days I will create a new habit of regularly taking more shots where I’m actually with my girls. I hope when my daughters grow up and look back at all of these pictures they will remember that Mommy was right there with them! Most of all, I hope we find more joy in those every day moments.

Here is my first submission!

On our way to have some fun in the sun!

On our way to have some fun in the sun! #MomisHere #NoFilter30

I will be checking in everyday to see all of your submissions as well!  Have fun with it and good luck!


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C., at least 18 years or older, and a mother or legal guardian of a child 8 years old and under. Void where prohibited. Contest begins 12:00 AM ET on April 11th, 2015 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on May 10th, 2015. Subject to Official Rules.

Getting crafty: Tissue Paper Flowers

Spring paper flower

Spring has sprung and seeing colorful flowers in bloom make me so happy!  I happened to have plenty of tissue paper and pipe cleaners on hand, so why not make our very own bright, colorful flowers?

It’s really quite easy and there are steps that my daughter’s nimble little fingers can do as well.  These flowers can be used as decorations for anything from a birthday party to a backyard BBQ.  The pipe cleaners make it easy to attach them almost anywhere.  I wanted to make my plain white flowers a little more cheerful for our Spring celebration so we sprayed them with a light mist of liquid watercolors. (I ordered mine here. Easy to wash off and clean up!!)  If you don’t have liquid watercolor I’m sure a bit of water with a few drops of food coloring would work as well.  Just be sure to use a spray bottle with a fine mist so that you don’t wet the delicate paper too much!   If you do have colorful tissue paper, then have fun with layering different colors colors together.  Each flower will be beautifully unique!

Step 1: Gather your supplies – 6 sheets of tissue paper per flower (cut your rectangular sheets into squares), pipe cleaners (I used green so that we could have green stems), safety scissors

Step 2: Stack the 6 sheets of tissue paper neatly and fold one side over about 1″.  Turn the stack over and fold back the same width.  Continue until it’s all folded up like a fan Continue reading