Thursday, May 30, 2013

The greatest comfort food

Today was a long day.  Nothing seemed to go right. 
My car was in the shop for a noise it was making, so I took my mother's car to work. 
I forgot my parking pass and had to park blocks away from work. 

It was close to 90 degrees today so not a pleasant walk. 

The computer system at work was not working right so it took me two hours to do 20 minutes of work.  

I went to pick up my car to discover after paying more than I had hoped, that the car was making the same noise, in fact I swear it sounds worse.

I came home hot, frustrated and stressed. 
My son greeted me in the driveway by soaking me with the hose.  I guess after the fact that wasn't so bad. 

Anyway, I went straight to the kitchen, my place of comfort.  There is only one thing that comes to mind to make when I am seeking comfort food, Pasta.  So here is my simple recipe for pasta with marinara sauce. 

Marinara Sauce Ingredients:

1 can of crushed tomatoes ( I use Tuttorosso, but any would be fine)

A splash of white wine(maybe 2 splashes tonight)
A handful of Pecorino Romano cheese
A tablespoon of sugar
Fresh basil
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Put all the ingredients in a pot except for the basil.  Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.  Boil your choice of pasta according to the directions on the box.  Top the pasta with the sauce and fresh basil leaves.

Enjoy! Oh, I almost forgot. Don't forget your glass of wine.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

93 Days of Summer

  With June quickly approaching, thoughts of summer are with us.  There is so much we want to do this summer and the days always seem to go by so quickly.  There are 93 days of summer this year.  So here is our list of 93 fun things we hope to enjoy!

1.Celebrate the summer solstice
2. Feed the ducks
3.Go to a county fair
4.Watch fireworks
5.Bury each other in the sand
6.Grill lobster tails
7.Watch a sunrise
8.Watch a sunset
9.Paint an outdoor scene at a park
10.Eat cotton candy
11.Go to a drive-in movie
12.Ride bikes
13.Make homemade ice pops
14.Swim at a beach
15. Swim at a lake
16.Swim at a pool
17.Sing Happy Birthday to America on July 4
18.Hand wash the car(water fight time!)
19.Celebrate Scarlett's 13th birthday on July 20
20.Grow a garden
21.Celebrate National Ice Cream Day on July 21
22.Have a lemonade sale
23.Buy lemonade from a lemonade sale
24.Make a fruit salad
25.Collect and paint rocks
26.Go on a hike
27.Sing camp songs around a bonfire
28.Take a nap outside
29.Eat watermelon
30.Go antiquing
31.Stay in pajamas all day
32.Make the kiddie pool a bubble bath outside
33.See an outdoor concert
34.Picnic outdoors
35.Picnic indoors on a rainy day
36.Go fishing
37.Make a sidewalk chalk masterpiece
38.Ride a roller coaster
39.Catch tadpoles
40.Make sun brewed iced tea
41.Visit the library
42.Go Geo caching
43.Host a family and friends barbecue
44.Read lots of books
45.Play flashlight tag
46.Visit a farmer's market(make dinner with only items we bought at the market)
47.Catch lightning bugs
48.Walk barefoot in the grass
49.Visit a museum
50.Have a family game night
51.Go berry picking
52.Get ice cream at an outdoor stand
53.Go to the zoo
54.Make Smores
55.Build something
56.Go rollerskating
57.Make popcorn for a movie night
58.Find a new playground to explore
59.Grill pizza
60.Take a boat ride
61.Make a pictures with beans
62.Send postcards about our summer to family and friends
63.Watch a baseball game
64.Make frozen pina coladas
65Visit a waterfall
66.Have a sleepover
67.Dance to our favorite summer song of 2013(yet to be determined)
68.Feed animals at a farm
69.Eat outside at a restaurant
70.Camp outside in a tent
71.Camp inside in a tent
72.Go on a road trip
73.Try a new fruit
74.Try a new vegetable
75.Stay in a hotel and order room service
76.Write a summer poem
77.Play in the sprinkler
78.Explore a nearby town
79.Make lemonade
80.Watch a classic movie
81.Sleep in
82.Stay up late
83.Celebrate National Waffle Day on August 24
85.Lay on a blanket outside and look for falling stars
86.Visit the library again
87.Host an ice cream sundae party
88.Pick flowers
89.Visit the new Legoland in New York
90.Take lots of photos and make summer journal
91.Have a back to school shopping day
92.Donate school supplies to those in need
93.Have kids choose and make dinner and talk about all the memories we made this summer

What's on your list?? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let it rain

The best thing one can do when it's raining is let it rain.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It seems like it has been raining everyday lately. The never ending rain becomes much more noticeable when you have a two year old boy full of energy. Phoenix wakes up every morning asking to go outside and if it were up to him he would never come inside. So of course, even though the rain has been non-stop we eventually end up outside.

Of course finding a puddle is the first course of action!!
Adding a few rocks to the mix makes it that much better.

And finally the ultimate thrill, jumping and splashin endlessly in the puddle!
So in the end, I guess the rain is not so bad.   Here is hoping we all take the time to jump and splash in the puddles.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

You are not forgotten

And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me
And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today-'
cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA.

-Lee Greenwood

In memory of all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  We will never forget.   

It is Sunday night and after a day of barbecuing and enjoying family we sat down to read a book called  America's White Table. 

A tradition started after the Vietnam War, the white table is a symbol and remembrance to service members missing in action and those who lost their lives.  Specific items are placed on the table:

White tablecloth to honor a soldier's pure heart

A lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a soldier's bitter fate and tears of families

An empty chair for the missing soldiers

A black napkin for sorrow, a white candle for peace and a red rose for hope

Tomorrow at dinner our family will set a place for those service members that will never return.  We will light a white candle in hope for peace.  We will take a moment  to thank those whose sacrifice allows our family to enjoy a life of freedom and happiness.  We will  pray for those left behind and ask that they may be comforted in knowing their loved ones died a hero.   We will promise to continue to love and honor our country, America, land of the free and home of the brave. 

Charities Supporting Soldiers and Their Families

What ways do you remember those who served our country? 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barbecue here we come

With our first barbecue weekend ahead of us, I am always thinking of what sides to serve.   Here is an easy salad to whip up that involves no cooking other than boiling the orzo. 


1 box of orzo

1 fresh mozzarella

1 bunch of basil

1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup Canola oil

1/2 Pecorino Romano cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste


1.  Boil the orzo as directed on the package, reserve some of the  orzo water to add to salad

2.  Cut the mozzarella into small cubes, 
     Chop the basil into small pieces
     Chop tomatoes

5. In a large bowl combine the cooked orzo, tomatoes and basil, olive oil, Romano cheese and cooking water if needed(if the salad seems dry add a little cooking water)
6. Let cool awhile before adding the mozzarella to avoid the cheese from melting
7. Salt and pepper to taste

8. Mix and enjoy

Try these variations:

Greek Orzo Salad- Exclude :
                             Romano cheese
                                            Add :
                             Kalamata olives
                             Feta cheese
                             Red onions

Mexican Orzo Salad- Exclude :
                                 Romano cheese

                                 Black beans
                                 Lime juice

What other variations can you think of?
Let me know I would love to try them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Basketball Dreams

So as a true New Yorker, I am a fan of the Yankees, Giants and the Knicks.   The Knicks made it to the second round of playoffs this year.    It had been too many years since they have made it that far and my hopes were high!!  Unfortunately their season ended there.  I will continue to cheer my team and hope for a great season next year.   Let's Go Knicks!
 So to keep the spirit of basketball alive here are some shots of our family enjoying the game. 



A few more inches to go!!
That's better! 
Even the older folks still have some moves!
(Sorry Uncle Bobby, I couldn't resist.)
Looks Good!!
What team do you cheer for? 


After the Rain

"The Earth Laughs in Flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Our first flowers in bloom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reason to Believe


Read aloud the words above, what does it say?

Read on....

Last week was a long week. Both of my kids were feeling sick, allergy season at its height in our home. Many rainy days and just trying to get work done while lacking sleep. I guess there are just those times in life when it is not as easy to feel joy or to feel inspired to make the most of each day. This is the journey of seeking happiness and goodness in each day that sometimes challenges me.

Yesterday, Scarlett received confirmation in our church. Suddenly all that gloom of last week was melted away, and by the way it was raining again. Ten special young people in our church chose to be confirmed and proclaim their faith in God. Our pastor made the service very special by speaking about the wonderful traits of each child. He described my daughter as someone with pizazz who adds a special enthusiasm to our church community. Everyone had a laugh. Anyone who knows Scarlett knows she usually stands out in a crowd and brings a little extra"pizazz" to any group. He spoke of her inner and outer beauty and how she cares for others. It was a wonderful moment as a mother.

Written on the Confirmation program were the words: GODISNOWHERE

He asked someone to read the words out loud to which she replied:


He spoke how sometimes it does feel that way, with all the tragedies we hear about each day, with all the people struggling in life, with all those hurting...

But then.... He spoke about my daughter and the nine other young people standing up on their own to say they believe in God and that they will choose to live their lives according to His way.
He said, no, it is not GOD IS NO WHERE


There is hope and love and joy in the world
 There is a reason to know GOD IS NOW HERE

One of my reasons to believe


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ode to Lemon

I love lemons. 

The color, the fragrance, the flavor.

 Lemons make me think of summer, shrimp on the grill with lemon, lemon italian ice, bright sunny days!

Watching my son lick a lemon, priceless.       

Here are a couple of my other favorite lemons...

Bath and Body Lemon Wallflowers
come in a variety of styles.  They plug into the wall and the lemon scent is fresh and clean.  I love that the scent lasts for several weeks and some of the plug ins are night lights.  There are several scents to choose from, but my favorite is lemon.  

 Saponificio Artigianale Fiorentino
is a  natural 100 % vegetable based soap from Italy. It comes in several scents but my favorite is lemon. I love how the scent lingers in the  bathroom after your shower. 
You can order this easily online.  However, I like to find it in stores like Marshall's or Home Goods at a better price.  I just recently gave this soap to some special moms in my life for Mother's Day.  I love to share things I enjoy with others.  I guess that is why I started blogging. 

 Quick and Easy Homemade Lemonade


1 3/4 cups sugar plus 2 cups of water (to make a simple sugar)

Juice of about 8-10 lemons

Cold water to fill gallon pitcher


1- In a saucepan heat 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water until sugar dissolves, let cool slightly and pour into pitcher

2-Juice the lemons and add to pitcher

3-Fill pitcher with cold water and stir

4-Add lemon slices and ice


Lemon Chicken


1 package of boneless chicken cutlets

oil to coat pan

1/2 stick of butter

1/2 cup wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon of flour
juice of 2 or 3 lemons

salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to taste

1-Cut cutlets into strips

2- Season strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika

3- Coat pan with oil and brown chicken on each side

4-Add chicken broth, wine(could use all broth instead of the wine) lemon and butter to the pan and  bring to simmer

5-Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes

6- Take chicken out of pan

7-In a small bowl mix flour and drops of water to make a roux

8-Add roux a little at a time to pan to thicken sauce(more roux the thicker the sauce)

9-Pour sauce over chicken and serve with lemon slices

Do you have a favorite lemon recipe??  Let me know I would love to try it.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Great DiCaprio

For mother's day my daughter and I went to see The Great Gatsby.   What a treat.  First, I must admit Leonardo DiCaprio is my Hollywood crush.  Watching him alone on the big screen is enjoyable enough for me.  To add to the enjoyment, this movie was filled with so many beautiful things, it was visually stunning.  The costumes, landscapes, mansions, and city sights were all spectacular.  My daughter and I both agreed we would love to wear every dress in the movie.  The party scenes made you yearn to be part of the experience with the music adding to the appeal.

A story of love, hope and the human spirit, The Great Gatsby was a Great Time.
The Movie Trailer 
My top five Leonardo DiCaprio movies:
1. Titanic 1997

2. Catch Me If You Can 2002

3. Romeo and Juliet 1996

4. The Departed 2006

5. Shutter Island 2010

...If you have never scene What's Eating Gilbert Grape, released in 1993, it is a must see!   DiCaprio's performance is powerful. 

So who is your Hollywood crush?  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. 
                                                                      - Rudyard Kipling

 Happy Mother's Day to all moms everywhere...

To those awaiting to see their child's eyes for the first time...

To those celebrating their first mother's day....

To those who care for their children each and everyday....

To those who are watching their children grow into young adults and are learning to let go...

To those who are now grandmas celebrating the joy of grandchildren...

To those who loved and lost a child too soon, may you feel the comfort of God's love...

To all those who have chosen to love, nurture and care for the world's children...

Happy Mother's Day
 Celebrate and Enjoy

Thanks mom for all that you are and all that you allow me to be each day!  Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tea Time

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."    Henry James

My first experience drinking tea was when I was volunteering in high school at a senior living home.  I would join the women for tea in the afternoon.  I came to enjoy drinking tea with sugar and lemon and always remember the elegance of drinking from the china tea cups at the home.

Years later, with Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts at every corner and throw away cups the norm, the pleasure of afternoon tea time in our daily life seems unrealistic.  I decided that  I wanted to add the joy of such a time to our life and planned a tea party with my daughter for some of her friends and their moms.  

I was not the owner of tea cups and began searching.  I saw many tea sets online and found expensive sets in stores.  I decided on a pretty cup and saucer set with flowers and butterflies.  They were somewhat costly and although  I saved them in my online basket I delayed purchasing them.   To my delight, the next day I discovered a shelf full of tea cups at the Christmas Tree Shop.  The cups were almost identical to those I had chosen the day before, they were on sale and I had to pick through to locate 12 cups and saucers.   To add to the joy of the purchase, they were marked from $5 a set to $2 a set and then an additional 50% off.  I was able to buy 12 cups and saucers for $12!!  I was so happy  I couldn't wait to have my first tea party. 

                                                                   My special find

We sent out invitations and served tea sandwiches of turkey with pesto, egg salad, cream cheese with cucumber and as per Scarlett's request, peanut butter and banana.  We also baked scones and served them with the traditional cream and jam and had mini desserts.    

Our tea table
hot tea with lemon, sugar, vanilla milk and honey
iced tea, ice bucket and glasses
We had a wonderful time.  It was great to sit together and enjoy each other's company while sharing the pleasure of tea.  I am looking forward to our next tea party, and the opportunity to share my beautiful tea cups again.

Pull out your tea cups or begin collecting tea cups of your own.  Invite some friends and share the joy.

Here is a great site with lovely ideas, recipes and tea cups of course!

The Tea Party Place

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Enjoy the moment

"Like a stop watch, let's stop time and enjoy this moment"

                                                                        Pitbull-Feel This Moment lyrics

So living in a home with a 12 year old daughter about to be 13 can be challenging at times.  It is amazing how their moods can change so quickly and how cranky they are at times.   Scarlett and I have always had a special closeness, yet this pre-teen experience, well let's just say it is an experience. 

Tonight, after I put Phoenix to bed, Scarlett called me into her room.  She said, "Mom, come tuck me in."  Now, I will admit it took many years for Scarlett to go to sleep on her own.  I would lay with her, sing songs or tell  a story to put her to sleep.  In fact, there were plenty of nights when she was 8 or 9 when she would land up in my bed.  Those days have long past and Scarlett has now come to enjoy the privacy and time she has in her room alone.   Sooo, when she called me into her room I went to say good night again.  I laid in the bed with her and put my arm around her.  She turned to me and said, " I hope we are always close to each other like we are now."  I with great certainty said, "We will be."   She turned her head closed her eyes and was soon asleep.  

 I laid there for awhile just enjoying the moment.   How fast the past 13 years have gone by.     How much we have been through together.  I am so happy and lucky to be Scarlett's mom and happy and lucky to know she feels the same. 

My baby girl always 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Breakfast Frittata

Let me begin by saying a cook or chef I am not.  I am however, a great lover of food,  all food.  I have always enjoyed watching cooking shows, collecting cookbooks, cutting out recipes from magazines all with the hopes and plans to make each recipe.  Food is a great part of our lives.  We celebrate with food, comfort ourselves with food and nourish our bodies each day with food.  
For me, food becomes even more enjoyable when I share the meal with those I love.   With Mother's Day soon approaching, brunch seems like a perfect way to share a meal with our moms, grandmothers or any special mom in our lives.  Here is a one pan easy to make  frittata to serve.  Pair it with  mixed greens with vinaigrette dressing.


7 large eggs
3 chicken sausage links(removed from skin and broken apart)
2 large red peppers(chopped)
3 white or yukon gold potatoes(cut into small cubes)
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of light cream
spoonful of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Coat a pan with olive oil and and place the potatoes in the pan
     Cook them for 10 minutes or until they begin to brown and soften
2. Add the red peppers and sausage pieces
    Cook until almost cooked through
3. In a bowl mix the eggs, cream, cheese, salt and pepper
    Add the egg mixture into the pan stirring it around to evenly spread the eggs
4.  When the eggs have begun to firm along the edge of the pan place the pan into the preheated oven and cook for about 8 to 9 minutes or until the middle of the frittata appears cooked through
5. Slice and serve right out of the pan

Try the frittata with different ingredients use bacon instead of sausage or spinach and mushrooms instead of sausage and peppers.   I have also added a couple of pats of butter at step two to add more richness to the dish.  Try your own variation and let us know how it turned out.   Enjoy!




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A gift of books

    A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

 My sister gave Phoenix a special gift for his 2nd birthday.  A box filled with some of her favorite children's books, most of which I am sure she discovered and read raising her own children.   What a great gift to share her special memories with him. 

      I have recently purchased a Kindle after so many raved about it.   I admit I have enjoyed it and even Phoenix has played some toddler matching games on it.   However, I have read a couple of books on it and  although it is user friendly and convenient to carry with you it is not a book.  There is a certain feeling you have when  holding a book, turning the pages and feeling the paper in your hand.   I love to finish a book and place it on our bookshelf among all the other great stories we have read or pass it along to another.     It is sad to me that book stores are disappearing everywhere.   You hear talk about everything becoming digital in the future ending the need for books. I am holding on to our books and I am happy to continue reading page by paper page.

 Here are the books my sister gave Phoenix


 Phoenix's favorite so far is Go, Dog. Go!  It has dogs and cars it doesn't get any better for him!

   Does anyone remember Carol and Paula from the Magic Garden acting out Caps for Sale?

What are some of your favorite children's books?  Here are a couple of mine. 

      Actually we love all of Sandra Boynton books. 

And...I have to say my favorite of all time is HUG!  A book that uses only one word but tells a wonderful story of love.