Posted in Party Time!

Christmas 2018 and NYE

Hello WordPressland!

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas Season and a great start to 2019!

Christmastime Fun!

We had a great season exploring all that Boston has to offer before school vacation, AND after! My eldest sister is home from Italy with her family, and is for another 10 days or so, so we got right to the fun.  My niece is 10yo, and she has never seen Christmas outside of her region of Italy. And, Christmas here in the States is like nowhere else.

We glam it up in every direction with decorations, lots of trees and an amont of lights compared to none; it is quite the spectacular sight if you have never seen it before. (and as I spent one Christmas in her hometown in 2007, I know she had NEVER seen anything like a holiday here.)

We tried to do so much.. we started the first day they got here by seeing the Christmas St Bernard Dogs at Smolak Farms. Those dogs look animated, that is how cute they are in real life.  Then we celebrated our Mom’s 70th birthday, which I hosted the cake afterward.  We then took the kids to see the Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet. My family and I had a few holiday parties between, then we took a trip with all the family to see the Enchanted Village at Jordan’s.  I brought my sister with her family with me to work one day so she could walk around to shop. Then we celebrated my 42nd birthday.  After that was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Then we celebrate my niece’s birthday. After that we took everyone to the Museum of Science to check out the new sights there. My family and I had a party that we brought my niece to at the Hampshire House. Which was quite the kick ass party.  Then it was Christmas week, where Christmas Eve was hosted by my sister-in-law. Christmas Day was hosted by my parents, we had a sleep over and a few friend parties between as the girls slept at my sister’s one night for a kids birthday for my niece, then I hosted New Year’s Eve night, and that follows these Christmas pictures below.

All in all it was busy, but fun.  I may need a vacation soon after all this!

 

New Year’s Eve!

‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ -C.S. Lewis

☆☆☆Happy 2019!!☆☆☆

It had been four years since we hosted a NYE party, and with my sister home we figured why not this year?   We had decided last minute to make this party a potluck. With thirty people coming we had to figure out how to make everyone happy, and potlucks are a great way to make sure folks eat what they like… and I actually like hosting them. And man oh man, did my guys out do themselves! We offered a lot to begin with..unlimited cava and prosecco to start, a chili bar, crab cakes, taquitos, roasted mini peppers (which I can’t get enough of), a cheese plate, a literal vat of guacamole and dip with an insane amount of chips. Everyone ended up bringing so much…a monster Italian pandoro sandwich, pizza, chicken enchiladas, mini hotdogs, pulled chicken, sausages, mac n cheese, cakes, cookies, and the list goes on!! (I am swearing off food after this week btw.  I had lost 7lbs in December, and I think I have gained back five from NYE alone!! haha) But it was all well worth it.  I loved hosting this party this year even if my house still looks like it was hit with a tornado.  🙂

The next day we were sluggish, but we made it for January 1’s dinner with my family at my parents’.  Very low-key, just like I like it.  Now I am off to work.  YES I typed this all out before the kids got off to school.  Maybe 2019 will be a productive year?  haha No I know, I doubt that, too.  🙂

That’s it.  I hope you all had a great start to this fresh new year!  Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2019.

xoxoxox

Posted in Party Time!

My Parents’ 50th Anniversary Celebration

Hello WordPress!

Two weekends ago we celebrated my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary! Woo! I know, fifty years is quite an amazing milestone, when you sit to think about it.

My parents’ anniversary is actually in February, but since my eldest sister is home from Italy this Christmas season they felt it would be the perfect time to celebrate this major event. With all their children, and grandchildren, together.

My parents; Concetta Latino e Salvatore Graceffa 02/08/1969

My parents. I just love them. Their fairytale started when they got married in Aragona, Sicily in 1969. They migrated from Italy to America not long after getting married. A new life with new possibilities laid ahead as they arrived in the Bronx in the fall of 1970, with not much money and pregnant with my eldest sister. My father had some family who migrated years earlier there and figured it was a good starting point.

Trying to acclimate to the American language and new culture was not easy at first, and they were not sure how long they would stay in America. But they had one another. My father found a job and my mom stayed home. My eldest sister was born in 1971, then a year later they had my older sister.

As my sisters were toddlers, my family moved from New York to Massachusetts for a better life and work opportunities. They had moved to an Italian/Sicilian neighborhood in Waltham, they felt at home there. My father worked hard every day, long hours, as my mom stayed home with the children. It wasn’t always easy but they had one another. They liked Waltham a lot as they encountered hometown friends and made life long connections that made them feel that missing sense of community from home. This is where and when I was born, in 1976. Which I coin as the best year of their lives. Ahhemmm.

In 1978, my parents had the opportunity to buy a house in the city of Malden. Since living in America they had rented, so this was a huge dream to buy a home. This home is where they have lived, nurturing each other and their family since. My childhood home is a reflection of my parents. The pride they have for it. All the work they put into it. It’s the beacon for this fairytale they have worked so hard on.

And, a fairytale is what they lived and still are living. Fifty years relying on each other for support and love. Fifty years of laughter and memories. Fifty years of commitment. Fifty years with three daughters and six grandchildren. Fifty years of learning new culture and language. Fifty years of stolen kisses in front of their family (and my dad goosing my mom, I see you!) Fifty years with many friends, who are like family. Fifty years of celebrations. Fifty years of stories that could fill a novel. 🙂

True love is a rare, warm, beautiful emotion.

❤️Happy Anniversary!!❤️

Now on to the celebration .. what a great party. My parents booked the Tuscan Kitchen in Burlington, and my sisters and I planned the rest. It was a successful collaboration, even with my eldest sister in Italy most of the time! It was truly a visually beautiful night and my parents were so happy.

Here are some photos:

Posted in Party Time!

Forty-two

Hiya WordPressland!!

It has been incredibly busy this month for me and my family.  If you follow me on IG you know why in my story.  Those who do not follow me there are missing out on my crazy life with my eldest sister home, parties that seem to be happening every weekend, prepping for the holidays, working, school life, packing for NY, going to PT, crafting for my parents’ anniversary party (which was last night and will post about later) and just everything.  Needless to say, I haven’t had much time for myself to just chill out.  But here I am, making the darn time to .. chill out.  Is writing this out chilling out?  No, but let’s all pretend.

So, as you can see from my title.. forty-two happened.  Yup, my birthday was Friday!  Forty-two. I kind of like forty-two.

Man, I don’t know about you all up in this new age bracket with me, but doesn’t forty-two feel… good?  Like, I loved my twenties, I didn’t love myself so much though I wish I had.  Changed by leaps and bounds in my thirties, learned to love the uniqueness about myself. Now starting in my forties, I feel … contentment.  Weird right? I feel happy in myself, my body, my life, my family, my outlook and everything that is around me. I am not comparing myself to anyone else, because, well, no one is like me; so how can I compare myself to another human (vice versa too)?  Is this contentment caused from growing older?  Is it part of some ‘I am too old to give a crap’ mentality that everyone says happens in our forties?

I honestly don’t know.  I feel like I am having an easier time accepting what I can control and letting go of what I cannot.  I used to be afraid of growing old, but right now, at this moment, I am not afraid.  I am growing older, not old.  This phrase packs a lot of punch.  Growing older, not old.

grow
/ɡrō/ verb – gerund or present participle: growing
1. (of a living thing) undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity.

Growing is a beautiful thing. 🙂

xoxoxo

Here are some pictures from my festivities…

Posted in Party Time!

Celebrating My Mom

Hey everyone!

Even though the celebration for my mom was a week ago, (my eldest sister is here from Italy so for scheduling we had to do it then), I am posting the party pics now.. on her actual birthday. It has been a crazy week of life and work.  Seriously, what a week.

Before I post photos of my mom’s birthday, one thing I haven’t mentioned here is that my youngest daughter got her brace off of her broken humerus, she is healed! And she is onto the next step, Physical Therapy. She is doing so well, she is so happy, but has another month of no contact/no large group play at school.

I bring this up because it is not just awesome news for her, but during her first visit, I had a weird moment watching the evaluation.  I was watching her going through the mobility screening, and with each movement she was doing, especially those over head, I was thinking to myself how painful those moves were for me to do.  So after they gave me her diagnosis/plan, I admitted to my pain.  So now I am in PT!!  Clinically, I was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement issue.  It is truly painful, yall… and apparently, makes you speak like a Southerner..wth was that?  haha  This all started this Summer, before our trip to California, I didn’t know what was going on.  Did this have to do with my car accident from the Spring or from working out too much, or from age..  but I was growing nervous as it just wasn’t going away with what I was doing. So I stopped going to the gym after the trip, going twice since. The pain was just horrible.  I also didn’t share it with anyone until a week before Thanksgiving.  Why? Because I am stupid that is why, and when my daughter broke her arm I went into care mode for her not me.  Then it started bothering me in my sleep about a week before my daughter was to see this PT Physician. My worry was worsening and planned to talk to a doctor. So the first doctor I saw was this PT physician during her appointment.  haha

I am so glad I opened my mouth when I did there, because I now see my posture and the issue it is causing. There is a rounded look to my posture from years of desk life, how it feels comfortable sitting and so much more.  This is a big change for me, and a hard job every day. The Dr is saying that the work they are teaching me should help my posture to alleviate this issue.  I am hopeful, and, thankful this office of therapists is whom I am seeing.  They really have opened my eyes to how I carry myself physically, and what could have become a major problem.  Wish me luck! 🙂

And as I typed that my new 36″ foam roller just got delivered!!  YEAAAHHH!! 

Ok, so back to the purpose of this post.. sorry I can ramble, you know this.

We celebrated my Mom at her favorite restaurant, Tokyo Steakhouse.  She loves the whole teppanyaki show, the fire, the jokes, the …food.  haha  It was the first time my niece and brother-in-law from Italy had been to a restaurant like this, and it was a lot of fun.  They just arrived the night before, so they were a little tired but it was still a nice night.  After dinner we went to my house for cake. I had set up my kitchen with everything we needed for a fun night celebrating my Mom. Champagne, coffee and candy.  What else is there, really?  My mom seemed so happy. Whom, btw, looked radiant.

A big Happy 70th Birthday cheer to my Mamma!  I wish you a day filled with love and happiness, and every day filled with health and peace in your heart. xoxoxo

Enjoy the only pictures that I took… (I just want to FYI folks out there that don’t know how WordPress works in the photo area.  Collages, like this one below, are great fun to pull together. You add photos you like into the media feature (where photos are stored). You choose which you want in a specific part of the page, like this one I chose all the photos from that night. Then WordPress uses the order and orientation of the photos to create a more cohesive collage; which is why some pics are larger than others. I am not manipulating that, I just add the photos I like in the order of when they’re shot and WordPress does the rest.)

Posted in Party Time!, Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions

Top Ten Thursday on a Wednesday? What!?

Yes, my second Top Ten Thursday post is on a Wednesday.  For good reason though.  I won’t be able to post tomorrow, and before I am engulfed in prepping for the big day today, I am publishing my… Top Ten Thursday -Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions today!

Valeria’s Top Ten Favorite THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS

  1. Cleaning the capon and prepping for the big dinner the day before with my mom (and dad!). I just love spending this day together.  She still teaches me so much even after all these years doing it together.

  2. Making my mother’s sausage stuffing, which we stuff in the bird and in mushrooms..and this year, making a lb more just to have all weekend long! 🙂  My mom is a very special cook, so knowing I am carrying this tradition on makes me beam from the inside.   

  3. Heading out early for the RHS’s (high school alma mater) big pancake breakfast and football game with friends.  You guessed it, this is my husband’s tradition! But he is back early to give me a hand. 🙂

  4. Getting all dressed up after putting the bird in the oven, then having to wear my colorful apron till guests arrive.  I am so looking forward to my new outfit this year with that apron! 

  5. Blaring jazz while cooking. Which turns into dancing with my kids… singing.  I do love me some Ella!

  6. Tasking our daughters to make homemade place cards. They have come up with some clever personalized drawings for each person.

  7. Setting up the TV room for the girls to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Which, I run in and out of  the room explaining all the vintage balloons while cooking! 

  8. Giving a toast before dinner begins. Cheers!

  9. Listening to everyone say what they are thankful for around the table; the girls always write out a sentimentally beautiful list to share. 

  10. The best tradition of them all…  EATING!!! 

I would love to hear about all of your Thanksgiving traditions, so share them by commenting below here, on Twitter or on FB!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with all your family and friends! I will post about our Thanksgiving, which will start with this.. my Thanksgiving Day Cooking Plan (P). I CANNOT WAIT!

xoxoxo

Posted in Party Time!

Let’s Fiesta!!

Hello Everyone!

This Saturday we celebrated our daughters’ birthdays.  The theme this year if you can’t guess from the blog title was…a …. FIESTA! Olé!  

Every year we throw a themed party, of our kids’ choosing, and we try very hard to make sure it is not just a theme thrown together, but one that is a special escape for our guests.  Like a few parties of our past that I blogged about before … the Circus, Paris, Japan and Harry Potter.

We are huge admirers of the Mexican culture, all of us but namely me, so I am sort of surprised this theme hadn’t come up before. My thought process to execute this party was to keep with the authenticity of the culture. The heartfelt music, the vibrant colors, the flowers, the rustic street food, the folk art, and the overall natural beauty that we love in Mexico.  It all sounds amazing, and that is because Mexico is amazing!

Let me get started with the details.

We sat down one night to talk about what we could put together to convey the fun of a fiesta in an invitation…and we came up with this!

img_6280

The Food was my favorite part of this whole gathering.  I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD.  We ordered catering from Three Amigos in a town nearby.  Our good friends had introduced us to this place through their parties, and it was just a no brainer for this themed one.  and A big thank you to my sister-in-law who went to pick up this for us on her way over!  YOU ROCK!

Our menu selection was simple Mexican street food; it was loved by everyone.  We ordered chips, salsa, guacamole, chicken tacos, beef fajitas, rice, beans and all the accompanying items like lettuce, tomatoes, more salsa and guacamole, sour cream and cheese.  There was a lot of food!!

Then I worked on what to do for the Cake.  At first, I had talked about getting the cake from our bakery, but for some reason my husband and I talked ourselves out of that and made it ourselves.  We loosely designed a cake, then went from there.

Friday before the party I woke up early to bake the cakes (and cupcakes, and brownies, and cookies!).  The cake and cupcakes were a rich chocolate cake.  The brownies were fudge chocolate with a hint of cinnamon, Mexican Chocolate (which is my favorite!) and I made Mexican chocolate chip cookies.  *drool*   As everything was cooling my mother showed up, and we made different color marshmallow fondant for the cake.  We had a lot of fun making a mess in the kitchen, lots of powdered sugar everywhere!  Then I layered the cake with chocolate frosting, then crumb coated it with a vanilla frosting.  It was a pretty tall cake!

Saturday morning my husband, who is the artist, took the cake and layered all the fondant as I stuck on the FIESTA bunting I had made a week prior.

I think it came out pretty great!  Especially for a cake made with so much love from my family.  🙂

The cake was set up with all the treats that I made but also zeppole that my mom made, donuts, butter cookies sent over from my good friend’s mother (huge surprise!), oreos and candies.  The cake table looked like a kids fantasy!

Another one of my favorite crafty things to put together is the photo backdrop for every party.  I think it is a lot of fun and adds another element to the party.  For this I grabbed a serape, an extra-large hay bale, a cactus cut out and some plastic clothes with a printed image of the national eagle to create the Mexican flag.  We ended up having a few sombrero from past parties we have attended, and boom…cute backdrop!  Oh, and mustaches!!

The decorations was an aspect of the party that I wanted to get right.  The one thing that you will see everywhere there is a Mexican fiesta is the colors.  Everything is colorfully bright and cheerful.  I made tissue paper flowers, about twenty of them, to decorate the entrance of the yard along with colorful draping cloths.

Then I hung extra-large papel picado above the patio from the second floor windows.  Which are pretty high, but I didn’t take a shot of them but you can see some of the papers hovering above the heads of our guests.

The tables were set in colorful cloths and as the centerpiece I had fashioned mini serapes with a pair of maracas, a colorful glass vase filled with an array of colored tissue flowers and a Virgin of Guadalupe candle.  It all came together real well.

Then along the back fence I had hung Mexican folk art every few feet.

The party favor came to me totally by luck.  I was walking in a store when I happened to see these pineapple glass jar cups in a set of four.  After a quick hunt in the store, my daughter and I gathered together 24 cups! Yes for 24 kids!  (ay dios mio..I know)   After slipping a piece of colorful tissue inside, and topping the cups with construction paper leaves and handwritten Gracias notes, it was the cutest addition to the day.

Our kids and I decided to dress up for the occasion together.  Usually it is just them, but they love when I put my hair up with flowers, and I think it made our guests and their parents happy to see us all dolled up.  I got a lot of compliments.

We filled the air with Mariachi music, and the party started!  Here are the photos I had taken of the day’s fun:

Posted in Party Time!

Fourth of July 2018

Hey Everyone!

July 4, we cooked together and drank together…and sweat..uhm, together? Haha.  It was actually a lot of fun!

This year we decided last minute to throw the big BBQ bash, just a little smaller than years past.  Just family (and our besties).  The decision came after we had made plans to travel up to Canada the following day. Which I will post about when we are back.  We are in Montreal at the moment, last full day of a long weekend getaway, so time has been a little tight since we left Thursday to post anything about the Fourth…  but here I am!

This Fourth was a hot one, over 90F!  We had rented an inflatable slip n’slide from Perfect Parties USA, and I had bought a six foot tall inflatable unicorn sprinkler from Target for the lil ones.  I am so glad I got that majestic beast!  It came in handy after everyone was tired from slipping and sliding for hours.

We planned a potluck. With us grilling burgers n dogs, then we added sausages because, well, that’s what we do…sausages.  Everyone brought a dish, like potato salad, corn on the cob, peppers, Thai spring rolls, and desserts.  It was a fantastic food turn out!

Well, I am going to photobomb then run since it is past midnight and tomorrow is our last day up here. It has been a wonderful trip but I am in need of beauty sleep!

Ttys! xoxoxo