Month: May 2014

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
1 pound dried split peas (2.5 cups)
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
2 dry bay leaves
3 sprigs of dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

First, rinse the peas thoroughly in a large bowl. Check for pea husks, stones or other natural items that may be in the package.

Rinse the Split Peas

Then soak washed peas for 1 hour in same bowl with cool water. The water should be at least an inch or more above the peas. This process will soften the peas and also bring other husks or items to the top of the water to remove.

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Rinse well and drain the peas again, set aside.

In a large stock pot heat up olive oil over medium heat.

Add in garlic and onions stir and let saute till translucent.  Then add in the celery and carrots. Stir together and then add in tomatoes.

Split Peas with Tomatoes

Stir completely then add in broth and water.

Split Peas with Broth

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until peas have fallen apart, 1 to 2 hours.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves before serving

I like to serve along side a nice piece of crunchy French bread. Yum!

 

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My Nephew’s Baptism

Hey Everyone!

Hope this post is finding you all doing real well  and relaxed after the weekend.

Yesterday was a buzz cause someone very special to us was being celebrated.  It was my nephew’s Baptism!  

And. It was a lovely celebration.  First, we, the whole family, attended the noon mass.  I had never attended a mass at St. Patrick’s before, but it was quite beautiful.  The Priest who performed the mass was so well spoken and told one memorable story about perseverance that I liked a whole bunch. Then afterward followed his Baptism ceremony.  The break in between was just what the kids needed to release some steam, and for us to take great family pictures. 

The ceremony was quaint, as there was only my nephew and another baby girl getting Christened.  It was very sweet.  The Deacon who performed the service was very kind and funny, and my nephew seemed to know something special was happening, as he was so happy during the service.   I was a very proud Zia the whole day, and now I can say a very proud GodMother, too.   My husband and I are now his GodParents!    Actually, I am GodMother to all three of my sisters kids, now, so …

It was a real great day.

As we were busy most of the day, I wasn’t able to capture a ton of pictures like I had wanted, but below is what I have to share with you guys.  Though I know my sister and her Mother in law had snapped a lot more.s0.if I can get copies I will either update here or just post them on FB in an album.  I know we took some real nice ones together that I’d like to see!  😛

Have a great Monday all! 

xoxox

Confetti- Recital 2014

Hey Everyone!

This Saturday was a full day of dance dance dance! 

First, we had our children’s recital, which was a wonderful show. The theme was Confetti, which I guess translates into a party theme.  Our oldest was part of tumble funk, and our youngest danced ballet.   It was a well executed show.  All the kids did great and the teaching staff should be real proud.

Our girls did amazingly well, and had a fantastic time with their peers and teachers. I was certainly proud because they knew all their steps, smiled a whole bunch and looked beautiful! 

After a fun stop afterward for ice cream sundaes with my family and Mom, I had to go back for part of the evening show to check out my niece’s first recital dance!  Not only did she look beautiful as a ballerina, but she did an amazing job!

I am all danced out, starving and looking forward to having this Summer session off..

Till next year! 

xoxoxox

Here are pictures from today’s fun. 

My List of Vocal Crushes

Listed as they came to mind-no order:

 

Gentlemen:

Peter Gabriel  -(OK- he IS in the right spot..have had a crush on this man’s voice for as long as I can remember.  One of my fav artists on this planet! And a fun concert to see (2011 with the Blood Orchestra was aHHHHmazing!))
John Lennon
Sting
Jim Morrison– The Doors
Win Butler– Arcade Fire
David Bowie
Ezra Koening
– Vampire Weekend

Mikel Jollett– The Airborne Toxic Event
Freddie Mercury
Robert Smith– The Cure
 

Ladies:

Bjork
Ella Fitzgerald
Beth Gibbon – Portishead
Debbie Harry – Blondie
Nina Persson– The Cardigans
Amy Winehouse

Adele
Chrissie Hynde – The Pretenders
Kim Deal– The Pixies
Madonna (before 2010!)

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone!  

xoxoxox

Mother’s Day 2014

Hey Everyone!

I had read this poem yesterday and thought it was a great Mother’s Day share:

Thank You Mom …For Everything
How did you find the energy, Mom

To do all the things you did,
To be teacher, nurse and counselor
To me, when I was a kid.
How did you do it all, Mom,
Be a chauffeur, cook and friend,
Yet find time to be a playmate,
I just can’t comprehend. I see now it was love, Mom
That made you come whenever I’d call,
Your inexhaustible love, Mom
And I thank you for it all.

(ladan)

This poem is sweet, simple, and says almost all. Even now at 37, where I am a Mother of two of my own, my Mother is still the driving force of love helping me, supporting me and showing me how much a Mother and Grandmother can do. She is really a SuperMom.  I love you Mammi! ❤

———–

Well. Hope all my beautiful Mommy family and friends had an amazing day with their families!

I certainly did! Here in Boston we had gorgeous weather; a sunny 85 degrees! Ahhh fiinnnaaaalllllllyyy!  Real weather!  I have missed this weather a tremendous amount. I woke up to the sunshine streaming through my windows and to the beaming smiles of our two cute girls peaking through the doors cause they could not wait for me to wake up to open all their homemade gifts. So. Immediately, I sat up to bombardments of their cheer, cards and presents. It was so overwhelmingly sweet. I love their excitement!

And the best part was it was past 9AM!  Hallellllujiah!

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They made me the most amazing cards and papers from school.  This was the very first year for our youngest to have her Kindergarten projects included, and she was so proud..as was I.  Great job, lovely! Everything was so sweet, and I received so many beautiful presents. But, I loved the Starbuck’s cup card my husband made me the most. Too cute and so me, and the words were beautiful.

Right after the gifts we got dolled up for a beautiful Mother’s Day lunch at one of my fave restaurant spots in Salem, MA… 62 Restaurant.  If you have not been you gotta get going! They have a modern take on traditional Italian food, and my lordy lord, they do it right.  Their drinks are amazing (love the 62 Pick Up) and their food is out of this world rich and gorgeous (their Bolognese sauce is gluttonizingly good).  They are in the heart of Pickering Wharf, which is a great location to take a walk afterward on sunny days or warm nights. We have been a handful of times without our kids on date nights, but with the girls it was still a lot of fun yesterday.  Our girls don’t have many food aversions or are picky, so taking them anywhere is a good time really. THANK GOD!  My oldest daughter was all about the food yesterday, which made me laugh.  I think I am cultivating an 8year old foodie!

The restaurant was all a buzz for Mother’s Day. There were families celebrating their Mothers young and old,  and it was a great time.   The restaurant had a fixed price menu for the day,  3 courses for $38, which was great. Except they didn’t offer the one app I love to death..the chick pea fritter with date compote (drool amazing).  But it is just an excuse to head back again soon!  We had a great meal -salad nicoise, tuna crudo, tagliatelle alla Bolognese, skirt steak with asparagus, and goat cheese agnolotti with beets then amazing desserts.  I was full all day and uhm slightly buzzed, too!!

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Drinks in order: 62 Pick Up, Dark&Stormy (with ginger beer…ayayay so yummy!) and a St Germaine.  Delicious.

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Though we had an amazing meal, all I took for food pics was the dessert cause I was so into eating I guess.  haha Here is a chocolate cake and two chocolate puddings with the most insane caramel sauce. 

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OK, OK, I do not want to hear a thing about my choice of hair style yesterday!  I didn’t have time to dry my hair and figured to start on my new fashion statement for the Summer..head scarves.  Which I am not sure I love quite yet!  😛  I am not sure I like being refered to as a hippy or a pirate, so I am still working this out.

Following this great afternoon pigging out, we took a walk around Salem’s Pickering Wharf soaking up the sunshine. There were sooooo many people out enjoying the day there, too. It was just a perfect way to spend my day with my loves along the water walking hand in hand.
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It was a perfect day, and I felt so loved by my family.  They know how to make me feel great.  Everyone behaved (hah the girls), and I got to enjoy some time doing nothing but enjoying their company in the sun.

We ended it with a couple of hours with my mom and sister. Where we had some of my guacamole, cupcakes, wine, exchanged gifts, laughed..and then they JUMPED ROPE!  Yes, my Mom and Sister jumped rope with the kids for a long time.  Even my husband got into the mix double-dutching. I shit you not. It was awesome to be together laughing and hope they know how much I value them in my life everyday, not just Mother’s Day or birthdays. 🙂 

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One of the many gifts my Mom gave to me, she made me this awesome vase of succulents.

 

I felt great all day, but most of all, lucky.  To have such a thoughtful and loving husband who is capable of doing everything every day with me for our children and each other. Lucky that he can plan a special day for me and it makes me feel great.  Thank you for all that you planned and expressed to me today, love, and thank you for making me feel like a real special Mother and Wife. 🙂

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Our Daughter’s First Holy Communion Day

HelloooooOOoo Everyone!

Her day finally came!

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Our daughter’s First Holy Communion was this Saturday and it was a great day!

The church was well put together, all crisply draped in white with the altar covered in large white bloomed bouquets all over. The walls of the church close to the pews held the children’s artwork depicting what receiving Communion meant to them. Very sweet. There was a choir made up of about 8-10 high school aged girls who sang wonderfully throughout the service. The priest was joyful and pleasant, and all the children were incorporated into the service somehow. The service was wonderful, though a touch long, but it really hit home the importance of this sacrament for the children and tied in the importance of their parents and family.

The best part, however, was when the children each got to sing a song directly to their parents at the pews; a sweet song about opening their eyes in the light of God and saying thank you for the opportunity… where, as you guessed it, I cried like a loon. The song was so pretty and she looked so beautiful singing it to us. It struck so many feelings inside me that I couldn’t help but be brought to tears, especially cause she looked beautiful all in white with her hair up and her veil behind her. She beamed. She made me so proud. 🙂

And guess who didn’t bring a handkerchief!?

It was so wonderful to see all of those receiving Communion decked out ready to receive their first holy Eucharist, too. There were about 20 children in her class receiving Communion. And as I mentioned the children all took part in the service somehow. Some read. Some took up gifts. Some were asked impromptu questions to answer. Our daughter was chosen as one of the gift bearers for the service along with a few others. After they brought the gifts up, the whole class got to approach the altar to witness the Priest up close blessing the Eucharist and wine, as well as, sing a song. Then they were sent back down to their pews where they were then directed, along with each of their families (parents and siblings together), to approach the altar to receive their first Communion. It was such a sweet connection and feeling along with her Baptism day, being able to witness up close was an honor.

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I really love the aesthetics of our church a lot. It isn’t a large church, but it is a beautifully adorned one with stained glass, high cathedral ceilings and arches, and artwork all around, which I appreciate. The people have been super nice, too. We changed congregations right when our daughter was starting religious ed. so she could be with her peers from our area and school-I am so glad that I made that change happen cause I feel so much more at home at this church.

Then following the nice service we went back to our home where we opened our yard up for a reception for all our family and friends. Though the weather looked like it wasn’t going to cooperate at first..it did! Phew! Our daughter enjoyed every moment playing with her family and friends. The food was plenty and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, but most of all our daughter had a wonderful time, which is all I wanted. I tried my best to make sure that she could feel how special a little girl she really is by putting together a party she couldn’t forget!

 

Now… Let’s talk party!!

I am Italian, right, so this means the Communion and the reception is a super big deal. I normally celebrate their birthdays together to make it easier on family as they are two weeks apart in the month. This party was the first in a long time that our daughter had a celebration dedicated all to herself. So, since I make their bdays a big hoopla, I had to make sure that the Communion was too, though distinguished and set apart from those other parties. also, for this party because of the timing I had to give myself a super strict budget.  Which I am very proud to say I came in under it by $300!  Yahhoo!

So. This is the process I went through.

My eldest sister, the one who lives in Sicily, sent home a package of gifts at the beginning of the year. One of our gifts in the box was this…

Paper Napkin Holder

Paper Napkin Holder

She sent one napkin holder to each of us (my older sister, my Mother and myself). I loved everything about this napkin holder when I received it for some reason. It was unusually beautiful..shabby chic.. shiny.. looked homemade.. elegant, and it just popped into my head to use as a muse for our daughter’s Communion reception. Once I saw this the party ideas started flowing…

One thing I really wanted to incorporate was our daughter’s middle name into the day; which is Rose. I find her middle name such a great fit for her little rosy face. This is how I came to the shabby chic garden party theme…which evolved a ton before getting to this point. This theme gave me an opportunity to create a lot of pieces for the party (which I love to do the most!). A lot of the focal points were made from raw, floral or natural materials, which gave the reception a touch of whimsy.

So… let’s get started on the event:

 

The Invitation: I had wanted to create an elaborate invitation that used pink colored card stock with an overlay of doilies with a ribbon and a large rose, but then changed that idea last-minute when I saw this simple pink invitation online that I thought was a better match for the party. I cross checked with the guest of honor and she approved. heh It had my two favorite colors, light pink with a simple cross at the top in a light green. Then a satin double-sided matching green ribbon was tied to the invite before sending off in the mail.

 

Decor: Our yard was transformed, well as much as a yard on a budget could be, into a garden party. I ended up borrowing a few oblong tables from family, and renting the base linens/chairs from a local rental company. We set up the tables inside the patio and the food items along the side of the house where there was new space (from our kitchen construction we closed off a door) and it worked cause it was out of the way of the guests sitting. Each table was dressed in ivory with an over lay of burlap then topped with nature inspired centerpieces and candles. The centerpieces were large hurricanes my sister lent me that I filled with dried split peas then wrapped in ribbons with a sola flower, then flanked by two handmade votive candles dressed in burlap and lace ribbon.

I scattered  big plantings all around the yard for splashes of color, my favorite being the orange begonias you see in some of the photos.  But I had bought yellow as well, and some other colorful flowering plants too.

The place settings were not only super cute in ivory lace, very shabby chic, but were also fully disposable.

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The Food/Dessert Tables: Inside the house I had set up the dining table in the kitchen with a white linen and a simple green runner going across. The table was then set with a few platters, one of which was a big big hit.. a large slab of marble which was dressed with salumeria/cheeses and olives. Across from the table I had set up a wine bar adorned with doilies, but I wasn’t able to capture a photo. There were two bottles of red, with a chilled white then a pitcher of red sangria next to a large silver bucket of ice. and a large round tray of wine glasses. All were on silver trays; it was real clean and elegant.

The buffet/dessert table was dressed in ivory with two beige jute runners along the front that were each decorated with handmade sola flower and rhinestone button arrangements I made. On top I had placed a collage I made of some of her photographs over the years..like her baptism, being silly, with her baby sister, etc. Then I had placed a vase of roses and a wicker bunny by its side. It was real simple and cute. It stayed static for both the lunch and dessert, though for the dessert portion of the day it was adorned with a lot of handmade serving pieces like a donut hole topiary and a cake pop pot.

 

 

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The Cake: This part of the party was the hardest for me to put together cause I changed my mind on the cake a lot and tis is where I was strictest of all with my budget cause I can get carried away blowing money on cakes..don’t ask me how much the ice cream party cake was..holy moly!

Luckily, I didn’t speak to anyone about it till I really figured it out, and with the strict budget it dictated the shape/size of the cake. I originally wanted an oval tiered cake all in ivory with imprinted fondant, large cross, but..NO WAY! TOO $$$$!! Then I saw a sweet cake image on pinterest of a shabby chic rose cake for a birthday, it was round, but I loved the look. It was soft pink, with a ruffled border and roses all around. So, I brought the idea to the bakery, and asked for it to be similar with a large rose flowered cross in the middle with her name on the bottom…and this is what they made for us.

I loved it!

 

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The whole day was a big success as our daughter really did beam throughout. She looked cute, she enjoyed all the food and guests, and overall, all the mental planning and make it happen moments made it such a special day for her. This was all for her, not for anyone else (ok, maybe for myself cause I loOove celebrations… and olives), but the proof of it all was when she went to bed that night exhausted and so happy, so happy that her family and friends were together for her, and happy that she had parents like us it made it all worth it. She is a very sentimental child, and she thanked me a ton for a fantastic day and that God gave me to her. <– THAT is what it is all about. Her understanding and appreciation of how loved she really is. Cause this little girl is something special all!

God bless you always in light my dearest daughter, Ava Rose. You are one of the sweetest little girls I know, and the excitement you share with us over all your life moments brings me a tremendous amount of joy. Only you and your little sister have that capacity to bring me so much joy.  I love you always.  🙂

 

Now is there any more left over cartocci?? ;)~

xoxoxoxoxoxo!!

 

 

 

Also, for more fun party ideas check out the crafts I made here!

Burlap and Lace Votives
Birdcage Card Holder
Communion Confetti
Cake Pop Stand and Doughnut Hole Topiary

Card holder Birdcage

We just celebrated our daughter’s First Holy Communion with a garden themed party at home.  In keeping with the theme’s rustic feel, I decided to take my hands to glue to craft a few of the party details.

This birdcage was a thought since the inception of party planning.  I wanted to get a birdcage as a focal point of the day.  On a trip to a local floral supply store, where I was going for a birdcage, my sister and I spent three hours looking for a birdcage an associate said was in stock..but when we got to check out were told there was a birdcage although broken.  I still wanted to see it.  The cashier pulled out this perfectly aged birdcage just without a bottom.  I bought it because it was perfect, even without the bottom, and he gave me an insane price for it.  hah

This is what I came up with….

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My husband will be making a base for this sometime, so I will have a fun birdcage to use wherever I would like in the house or for other parties.  Like the Harry Potter themed one for the girls this year.  I think a Hedwig replica will look great in there!  😉

Check out the other crafts from her party here!

Burlap and Lace Votives
Cake Pop Stand and Donut Hole Topiary
Communion Confetti