Posted in Random Stuff

I am a Zia …Again!

Just got home from the hospital!  After the longest week of my families lives, my nephew is finally here!!

Coming in at 8lbs and 21.5 inches long, another beautiful child was born to my sister and brother in law.  Such an exciting time for their family.

These are a few of the best pix I got with him at the hospital this afternoon.

My new nephew! I'm a proud Zia!  What a sweet boy!
My new nephew! I’m a proud Zia! What a sweet boy!
My niece, two daughter, with me holding the baby.  He is so handsome.
My niece, two daughters with me holding the baby. He is so handsome.
A very proud Nonna
A very proud Nonna
My parents with their newest grandson.  Grandchild #6!!
My parents with their newest grandson. Grandchild #6!!
My youngest is enamored.
My youngest is enamored.
She wouldn't stop kissing him. It was real sweet.
She wouldn’t stop kissing him. It was real sweet.
Finally! He opened his eyes! Still not clear what color his eyes are, but who cares! He's so cute!
Finally! He opened his eyes! Still not clear what color his eyes are, but who cares! He’s so cute!

I am definitely sure more photos of him with my sister and the family will come along soon. It was just my sister was still in hospital mode, and the kids were everywhere in that hospital.  But thankfully this little boy is finally here. Happy. Healthy. And my sister is as well. Phew. What a relief!!

 

XOXOXOXOX

Posted in Weight Loss Diary

Weighing in! #9 and life!

Well, I am so relaxed from the past week I’ve had that I am not even sure where to begin!

Ok I’ll start with …the weigh in.

Well, I have been keeping myself in check since my last weigh in; eating real well and trying to be more active with my kids out in the yard. I haven’t had the opportunity to get to the gym much with my husband’s recent work schedule and other life events, since my last weigh in. So, when I got on the scale today, I was so nervous to look at the number. I haven’t weighed myself in a few days, either, which is not like me at all.

After convincing myself to get on the scale and to look, I smiled. I am down 1lb!! What a HUGE relief!! I do have a rough ‘diet’ related few weeks coming up, the Fourth and then vacation week, but I am going to ‘Nik Wallenda’ the cripe outta my days praying to keep losing!

Summer kicked off Friday, as you all know, and well, I am on cloud 9. This sunshine and heat is exactly what I want. Ok, I can go without this recent humidity and haze, but I am not complaining at all. I will take 90 degrees with humidity over bone-chilling temps any day!!

We had a super busy weekend, starting with Friday night. Right after work, we went over to my in-laws to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday. The girls got to stay up extra late, which doesn’t mean they sleep late the next morning. Unfortunately. My kids are early risers, and lack the ‘let’s sleep late for our parents’ gene. Well, it’s not that bad, I really shouldn’t complain. They get up and are ready to go every morning without issue. Which I’d rather have, than fighting them to wake up and get ready. It’s just one Saturday I’d love to sleep till 9AM with my husband like the old days!

Saturday, was a lot of fun. Though we screwed up our original plans of going to our local Lowe’s for the kids to make a craft. We never got the confirmation email, so instead of hanging out with the kids making a fun themed box, they got something to make at home with us. Which is fine, and I am holding onto for She’s Crafty Friday. We also booked them for another morning to make something in a week, which we did get a confirmation email for. So that will be a fun morning. After we got bounced from Lowe’s, we went onto our other plans, just a little earlier. We took the girls to see Monsters University. Which we all loved!! Pixar got this prequel totally right! (do they ever do anything wrong? NO!) And their new short film, The Blue Umbrella, knocked me off my feet. Wow. What imagery. What realism. So great. And yes of course, I cried. (Couldn’t help it!) And just talked about with my oldest.

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Then following that, we had our good friends over for a BBQ, and for the kids to cool off in the sprinklers, and for us to cool off with some sangria! Man, I love sangria, lately, I think I am turning Spanish!

Then Sunday, we went to my daughter’s school friend’s birthday BBQ. It was a lot of fun and we were there for the whole day. The girls enjoyed themselves a ton, even in the heat. They had a DJ that gave out prizes for some fun games and dance contests. And I got to meet so many nice parents from her school. It was a good time. We followed that party by playing an hour in the sprinklers with the girls at home. It was super hot Sunday! We had a blast getting soaked till it got dark out. I forgot how fun a sprinkler can be, and the girls were ecstatic. At bedtime, they told my husband it was the best part of their weekend. Then my oldest said, the best part of anything. That melted me completely. I love my girls!

This is me Sunday. Anyone notice my tan!?

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Also, my gf and I hit up Wingearsheek beach in Gloucester. I actually missed my two girls. Nooooo I am kidding! What a fun day soaking up the sun! The beach was absolutely beautiful and the water wasn’t too frigid. There weren’t a ton of kids, either, so we were happy. My gf is the perfect beach mate, cause we are so darn similar! Enough talking, lots of sunning, some soaking… perfect! And best of all!? Yes!! I have tan lines! I broke the ivory barrier!

The ONLY pics taken at the beach! And one is my friend’s that I snagged!

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Have a great week everyone! xoxoxo

Posted in Random Stuff

My 2013 Beach Playlist

Hey Everyone! What a gorgeous handful of days we’ve been having this week, huh?! I chose to work from home from Tuesday on; and am I glad I chose this week! Best part is that we are going to have a few more beautiful days in a row here in Boston, too! YES!! Get working on this tan!

Speaking of tans. I have been spending a lot of time chilling out in the sun this week, and I am starting to see some color. Can you believe it?!! And, vacation is not too far on the horizon for some more in the sun time! Right after the holiday, I am shutting down all electronics to spend every waking moment in the sun with my family, a great combo if you ask me. Well, almost every electronic, Instagram started videos! I gotta have my ipad on The Cape! I’m a picture-taking fool!

To get me really started on this tan-venture, I am squeezing in my first day at the beach early next week, if the weather works out. As I was mentally prepping for next week, I got thinking about the BIGGEST obsession I have. MUSIC! I decided today to make up a playlist for my beach day and the season. Well, not just mine, our. If it works out next week, we are going.. are you ready for this? … wait for it… WITHOUT KIDS! And without husbands or boyfriends, too! An all girls day at the beach!? Uhm, can ya say.. hell yes!?!?  Which I have not done since the girls were born. I may pass out from joy. heh. And, my friend doesn’t have kids yet, so, she’s in for my overloaded excitement without any of mine around. (Gah, I just went to heaven…to be in sunglasses, a bathing suit and a beachy maxi dress carrying one bag for a towel and spf, one chair, an iced coffee, and a smile to the beach like the old days?! I may just never come back home! heh)

So. My playlist. I turned my ipad on shuffle, and picked out some fun songs to put on this year’s playlist. My taste in music is..uhm, eclectic. Like my love for most things. I love all types of music; be it indie, alternative, dance, ethnic, folk, new age, pop, funk, trance, classical, metal, rock, punk.. really almost everything that gives a great beat and brings a smile to my face. Except country. But, I am trying. (not going so well)

Here are 50 songs for the beach this season; not in any particular order and most likely will get added to as the season progresses:

  1. In Your Eyes- Peter Gabriel from the Secret World Live album
  2. Disparate Youth- Santigold from the Master of My Make Believe album
  3. Hannah Hunt- Vampire Weekend from the new Vampires of the Modern City album (might be my fav song on the album)
  4. Feel So Close- Calvin Harris off the album 18 Months
  5. Vacation- The GoGo’s off of Vacation
  6. Ladies of Cambridge (Boston)- Vampire Weekend off their title track
  7. Your Touch- The Black Keys off of Magic Potion
  8. Think I’m in Love- Beck off The Information
  9. Stubborn Love- The Lumineers off of their title album
  10. Suit and Tie- JTimberlake the 20/20 Experience
  11. Colours- Grouplove
  12. Bryn- Vampire Weekend off their title track
  13. Love You Madly- Cake off of Comfort Eagle
  14. Unbelievers- Vampire Weekend from the new Vampires of the Modern City
  15. Digging in the Dirt-Peter Gabriel from the Secret World Live album
  16. Helena Beat- Foster the People off of Torches
  17. Alive- Beastie Boys off of the Sounds of Science (disc1)
  18. M79 – Vampire Weekend off their title album
  19. Finger Back- Vampire Weekend from the new Vampires of the Modern City
  20. Man on Fire- Edwarde Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros off of Here
  21. Iron Man- The Cardigans (best Black Sabbath cover imo)
  22. This Head I Hold- Electric Guest
  23. Pass the Mic- Beastie Boys
  24. One Way or Another- Blondie
  25. California English- Vampire Weekend off Contra
  26. Midnight in Her Eyes- The Black Keys off of Thickfreakness
  27. How to Be a Heartbreaker- Marina and the Diamonds off of Electra Heart
  28. No Cars Go- Arcade Fire off of a great album, Neon Bible
  29. Taxi Cab- Vampire Weekend off of Contra
  30. Panama- Van Halen
  31. Holland Rd- Mumford and Sons off Babel
  32. Smile- Lily Allen
  33. Sweet Nothing- Calvin Harris off the album 18 Months
  34. I Love it – Icona Pop off of Iconica
  35. Pictures of You- The Cure off of Disintegration
  36. Take Me Out- Franz Ferdinand off of their title album
  37. I’m Going Down- Vampire Weekend off of the iTunes Session
  38. Young Blood – The Naked and Famous off of Passive Me Aggressive You
  39. Land Down Under- Men at Work
  40. Shake Your Rump- Beastie Boys off of the Sound of Science (disc1)
  41. Primadonna- Marina and the Diamonds off of Electra Heart
  42. Babel- Mumford and Sons off Babel
  43. Crazy Little Thing Called Love- Queen
  44. People Watching- Jack Johnson off the Curious George Soundtrack (hah)
  45. Whirring- The Joy Formidable off of The Big Roar
  46. Blow- Ke$ha off of Cannibal (yes I own Ke$ha, it happens)
  47. Mansard Roof- Vampire Weekend off their title album
  48. Does This Mean You’re Moving On?- The Airbourne Toxic Event title album, deluxe
  49. Rock This Town- Stray Cats
  50. Make Some Noise- Beastie Boys

That should cover a few hours of time! And I know there aren’t any of my usual beachy suspects on there, but it’s fun not to hear the same music every time you go somewhere. FB me or msg me what you think should be a fun add!

Have a great weekend, and get out in the sunshine!

xoxoxo

20130620-214508.jpg My favorite beach in Massachusetts.  Wingearsheek Beach.

Posted in My Recipes

Vanilla Waffles

Vanilla Waffles
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups skim milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
4 tsp banking powder
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Need: vegetable oil spray

Heat waffle iron.

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.

Ingredients!
Ingredients!

In another mixing bowl, beat the two eggs until fluffy.

Beat the eggs till fluffy
Beat the eggs till fluffy

Then add in the dry ingredient mixture slowly, while adding in the milk and oil.

Once incorporated into batter, add in the vanilla bean paste and mix well.

Batter is done!
Batter is done!

Now the waffle iron.  Before placing batter on the iron,  spray vegetable oil on the heated iron well.

Pour in about 2/3 cup of batter at the center of the iron.

Start pouring batter in the center of the heated waffle iron.
Start pouring batter in the center of the heated waffle iron.

Close the lid, and let cook until the steam stops/the machine’s indicator light comes on. About 5 minutes. Continue till you are done with the batter.

DONE!
DONE!

My family likes to eat them together, so my little tip to keep them warm is to have the oven or toaster oven preheated to 300.  Then as you make the waffles, slide them into the heated oven to keep them crisp- right on the rack.  We also make triple batches of this to freeze, so our girls can have Mom’s waffles any time.

Enjoy!

xxooxox

Posted in Random Stuff

Summer’s a’comin!

With Father’s Day now behind us, the Summer, well, beach season, is close to officially kicking off. Four more days people!

Which is a fun season to be in New England.  Obviously, the weather is hotter. The days are longer. The people are cheerier and chill.

But in New England, life really changes. The sleepy beach communities and artist colonies along the waters come alive, and are packed. The seafood is more a plenty, and too good for words. The Summer music/concert scene is back.  Fruits and vegetables are at their freshest, which means the farmer’s markets are in full swing-my favorite shopping pastime. Tourists from around the globe visiting. Wearing less clothes, or beach clothes, but still needing a cozy hoodie at night. Free movie nights on the Esplanade. There are late nights on the patio with friends. Eating ice cream becomes more of a necessity to keep cool. Fireworks. The rooftop and seaside decks open up. Chilled white wine takes on that familiar meaning again. The kids play outside longer.  The waters along the coasts are not ice-cold, and everyone starts sporting a tan.  Even yours truly. Yup, this super pale gal turns a nice shade of… ivory. Hah.  Sadly, I am the only Sicilian woman I know that doesn’t break into an envious golden tan too easily.  Even my fairest of Irish friends get a tan in 30 minutes of full sunshine. One to make me jealous!! So, needless to say, hanging with me definitely is a perk if you’re tanning. I deflect a constant stream of sun to you. No joke! But my goal this year is to change this. I am going to get dark if it takes me every darn day sitting in the sun for hours! Dark! I tells ya! 

…Summertime. Sigh. We have a lot going on, which can either make or break this Summer.

Make the Summer?
We finalized our Cape trip and a few fun days/weekends of “daycationing” along the shores. And are in the mental planning stages of BBQs & get togethers.  This will be our 3rd annual Summer family trip to The Cape. A tradition I have been wanting to start for so long, and happy to realize we are already 3 years into! Yeah!

All this planning is fun, and making me feel real good. Which I need. To think about the Summer. Fun clothes. The brightness all around. The sunshine warming my skin. The gentle breezes of the beach… aww man! I get all giddy. I think I am heliophilic.  (Heliophilia (n.) a desire to stay in the sun; love of sunlight.)  No, seriously.  Even though I have the hardest time tanning, with high SPF on I should mention, that feeling of the warm sun on my skin… I… I crave it! Gah, I just love it! And I NEED IT!  I do, literally, wait all year for Summer!

So, bring on the 80+ degrees and full days of sunshine!!  This girl needs a smoking hot tan!

Break the Summer? And, possibly, the bank.
Another adventure coming up is our much-needed home renovations!  Yeah, let’s keep feeding the money pit!

We started window shopping for cabinets, countertops, tiles, and appliances this Saturday in place of our usual date night.  Which was major for us, to finally visually come together on ideas and aesthetics.   I mentioned the renovations casually before, and the reality is it is going to be another HUGE house project! Oye…we need to completely gut three spaces for a whole new kitchen/dining room, a new bathroom, and a new laundry space. There isn’t a way around it.

So, Poorsville here we come for a while..again.  I am ok with it. Gotta be anyway, right?; and I have to keep in mind that we will have a whole new modern, comfortable way of living, which is the point.  It is an excited nervous feeling I have about all this. We have a house we didn’t build and can’t control, (a little Vampire Weekend for ya), which means ..it needs a lot of upgrading. Which then means, it’s going to be an expensive project.. and time-consuming.   I am exhausted just thinking about it!

And you know I will be posting to you guys with pics and updates!

So, needless to say, I have somewhat of a big Summer planned..and this is along side family and friends’ birthdays, my new nephew’s birth coming within two weeks, holidays, anniversaries, working and the girls going to camp. And, still in Summer, the girls will be starting school insanely early (in August!).  Which brings me to my happiest mental landscape for the end of the Summer..both children in school!  I know, I sound selfish, but I am really not.  They are great kids, and I love them, too much at times; but this relief of not having to work from home with a child harassing me hasn’t happened in almost 8 years!  This brings a whole new meaning of happiness working from home.  Which I desperately need!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and, that all my very sweet & handsome Fathers out there had a wonderful day!

xoxoxo

Posted in My Recipes

Ricotta and Veal Meatballs

Ricotta and Veal Meatballs
1 pound veal
1 pound lean ground beef
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup skim ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of each Salt & fresh ground Pepper
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients.
Ingredients.

Need: Parchment covered baking sheet drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the basil and parsley. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the ground beef, veal, nutmeg, egg, that bread crumb mixture, garlic, ricotta, grated cheese and S&P.

In a large bowl, mix by hands untill all incorporated.
In a large bowl, mix by hands until all incorporated.

Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.

The mixture.
The mixture.

Next, using your hands, shape the meatballs into balls, about the size of a walnut/1 inch, and place on baking sheet.

Valeria's Meatballs

Rolled and ready for the oven!
Rolled and ready for the oven!

Bake for 7 minutes, then flip them over, place back in the oven for 10 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Done!
Done! They come out tasting amazing, and they’re the perfect consistency!  Add them in to your favorite sauce and serve over pasta or in a sandwich!

This recipe yielded about 47 meatballs for me today.  (Yes, that’s a lot of meatballs!) But what I do is separate portions of ten meatballs, then once they are cooled, place them in freezer zip-loc bags and put them in the freezer.  This way I have a homemade meal at my fingertips anytime. I love to make my simple tomato sauce, which I was simmering before I started on these, then add that portion of meatballs in and let simmer for 30 minutes. So good! Especially if you make a sandwich out of them, which is what we are doing tonight.  YUM!

Also, here is a recipe for my regular meatballs. Click here!

xoxoxo

Posted in Random Stuff

Discussing Transgender with a Pre-Schooler

My daughter is five years old, and she is part of a local preK program where there is big focus on a set learning for Kindergarten readiness. I love this facility so much. My oldest daughter spent preK there, and my niece and nephew, as well. The school is run well, as they have a curriculum system that works, and has worked for both my children who started attending before they turned 3yrs old. They have an amazing summer program with so many activities; which my kids are impatiently waiting on.  And. It is a place where there is diversity. Which, in the town I live in, is pretty sparse. A whole lotta white people, and old white people at that. So, growing up where I did in a type of inner city where there was diversity, and how I grew up with immigrant parents, it is what I prefer for my kids. To be around all types of children and people, without it being a thing to notice.

Well.  I ma not sure how to start this, but my daughter’s classmate, Tony, not his real name, started school little by little wearing girl clothes and hair accessories, until now where he is wearing entire outfits.  There had been times at parent pick up that I’d see him in full-out Cinderella costumes from the dress up bin, or just sitting there with colorful hair clips and awkwardly small pigtails.  Which is no big deal cause it’s just dress up.  He is the boy who ran to hug me at the end of the Valentine’s Day party this year, in which I blogged about in February. I lead the bracelet craft table for the class that morning.  There was a lot of children that day participating in the party.  He stuck out to me. Well, because he was so thankful that I was a part of the day, which I think was because I gave him all the pink and purple beads without much fuss during the craft. But he stuck out, namely, cause he was wearing an outfit that was clearly for little girls.  A grey hooded tunic with green and pink hearts speckled all over it, and a pair of lime green capris to match.  Super nice kid that my daughter never has had a bad thing to say about. At that party, though, I didn’t say or think much more about his appearance, cause he is young and could have impressionable older sisters or be expressing himself in that way.  I can’t say anything about that. Honestly. But it became every day and quite noticeable for other parents.

So, a few weeks after that Valentine’s party, my baby girl was all excited to share her new news from school as I walked in the door. She tells me that her friend Tony asked the class to start calling him Tonia.  Uhm. Ok. Which for me it wasn’t much of a surprise, as I mentioned above he has been transforming since the school year started basically, but still a slight bit shocking that a boy so young, I believe he is four, could feel so compelled to change his life in this matter already. And that I’d have to have this type of conversation with my daughter being so young.  I replied to her, “OK. So, you respect his wish and start calling him Tonia. If that is what he wants. How does that make you feel? How did your teachers talk to you about this?”  She replied with an, “I’m fine with it. He thinks he is a girl. Our teachers told us that his new name is Tonia.”

Hmm.  So, I think she was not surprised by it as he has been evolving all school year. I am not sure. And honestly, and thankfully, she seemed to digest that information quite well, accepting this name change and the fact that he wants to be a girl. Or at least, dress like one.  So, I kept asking questions cause, I, on the other hand, felt like I was thrown this curveball of a conversation topic with my daughter; and older daughter, eventually. And I wasn’t sure how much they understood and I honestly didn’t want their thoughts of acceptance to be tattered, if this makes sense.  I have always left my kids with an open mind when we talk so they are free to ask questions or lead me into more questions.  But they are five and seven. Though their questions are normally quite simple, sometimes they are complex for me to answer cause I want to throw so much knowledge at them in one sitting but refrain cause I know they can only handle so much.  Both, my husband and I are pretty liberal in our point of view on life matters. And we are always talking to our girls about everyone being equal in every way, though other people may not think the same way, or, may have thought differently at some point in history or even today. But, when this topic came up, I did have flashes of so many thoughts though. Maybe Tony had influential sisters that he wanted to be like. Maybe Tony just likes girls clothes like a TomGirl likes wearing boys tee-shirts and jeans. Or that his Mother was living out her last wishes on having a daughter on this little boy. Seriously, my mind was streaming with the craziest ickiest thoughts. But I knew that this boy probably felt like he is truly a girl inside, probably wakes up everyday thinking so.  How do I really explain this to my kids?   Plainly right?  All I said was, “Tony, now Tonia, may feel like he is a girl on the inside. Which is probably why he had been trying to wear girls clothes to school.  Doesn’t change who he is as a friend, on the inside as a person.  Even if he doesn’t feel like he is a girl on the inside, he might be figuring out what being a girl feels like.  And girls clothes are pretty super awesome, right? So, let’s make him feel like nothing has changed, and keep being his friend. Does this sound OK to you guys?”   They nodded and seemed to be ok with it as they moved on quite quickly from the topic.

I just don’t want my kids to make this boy feel any more different from he already feels himself.  Or anyone else in their lives they encounter with this same issue, or similar. I feel so silly, and, I really hate that even in my own description of this situation it has a tone like I am tippy toeing. But I am!  I don’t know anyone who is transgendered, or at least I don’t think I do.  I have a diverse group of friends that I love dearly, but my kids are too little to understand what transgender means, don’t you think?  Though the school handled it quite simply, and well enough for my daughter, that is all I care about, and I am happy about that. It is the duty of my husband and I to take the reigns from them on further discussions.  Which I think we did the best job possible for them in this department. This learning moment hopefully left my kids with the information they needed, and they can look back at it and say oh ok I get what my parents were saying. But that it doesn’t change their feelings for their friend.

The kids are graduating preK tomorrow morning, and it will be the last time that my daughter will see him in a classroom setting, probably ever as we live in different towns. My heart goes out to this little boy and his family. In good and sad ways. I mean, hooray for him. That his family is accepting, giving him the freedom and emotional space to change. Totally, kudos there. But, this is truly a difficult feeling to have. It must be. And to be so young in age to feel this way, well, like I said, I am real happy to see that he is trying to find his way in his life knowing how he feels so young.  I wish him the best of luck out there, and that the people he encounters in life can be just as understanding or better.

xoxoxoxox