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

Easter Brunch 2018

Hey Everyone!!
Yay!, it is almost Springtime! Next week, in fact. Yes! Finally!  I’m seeing it now. Rising temps. Warm breezes. Kisses lit by sunshine. Windows rolled down. Wearing colorful sundresses. Blooming flowers and green leaves popping from the naked trees. Getting closer to Summer. And most importantly…NO SNOW!! Can’t wait. (Ok I hear we are getting a storm on the day we turn to Spring but AFTER that we will have no snow …right!?!?)
Also, this time of year is for our annual Easter brunch with both families and our girls’ godparents. Which we threw today.
Ahhhh I had so much fun!!
This get together has morphed a bit through the years. It started (2009) as an Easter Egg Hunt with a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny. The kids loved it, I did too.  Now it is a pot luck brunch, it has been for two years. Which…me likes.  It isn’t any easier without the bunny or hunt, I still go crazy prepping and cooking, it’s just the snow got in the way too many years and having twenty kids ransack my living room For eggs lost its appeal.  Especially, since most of them are way above average height. 
What fun celebrating with everyone …and busy busy.  I was non stop the whole day, that I am literally laying in bed typing this out. I know. I lead a rockstar life.  Well, I am pretty tired and since the big man has a job tonight I’m going to let the pictures from today tell the story so I can get some sleep.  I must b tired since I rarely go to bed before midnight!
Wish I took more but I was so involved with socializing that I slipped up..socializing also means mimosas.
Ohmygod lots of mimosas.
Hope you had a great Saturday, too!! 

 

Oh, and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!
Xoxo

 

 

Christmas 2017

May your days be merry and bright

And may all your Christmases be white.”

Greetings from a winter wonderland up in Massachusetts!

This Monday we were given a ‘White Christmas’ like those from the movies. We had quite the snowy view out each window as we opened presents by our tree, but as soon as afternoon hit the snow fell softly and the sun immediately shined through the grey skies. It was beautiful. (For the children really, as we adults had to clean that mess up as soon as it ended. Well, my husband had to. Haha)

What a wonderful Christmas this year! We celebrated all weekend with those important to us; from Friday night hosting friends to Saturday night partying to Sunday night at my sister in law’s to Monday together with my family at my sister’s. I hope this is a glimmer of what 2018 will hold for us. Lots of good memories with beautiful people (and amazing gifts haha).

Speaking of gifts!! What an awesome Christmas of giving and sharing this year. I’m a big supporter/advocate of  St. Jude all year round, but those feelings of wanting to do more for those that need it hits me hardest this time of year, and hope you all gave some time or donations too. If not, please look inside yourself to give to a worthy cause; honestly, it doesn’t take much and there are so many who can use your help so the list is long. (And it is a good feeling to do something for someone who needs that help. Between donating time, toys, clothing/housewares or money, giving to a charity can be done in so many ways.)

Outside of philanthropy, I gave some pretty rad gifts this year if I do say so myself. It was so great to see the faces of all my family, especially of my nieces, nephews and godchildren, happy with the gifts their ‘awesome aunt’ gave (you bet your butt I am the awesome one!!). But of course, the best part of talking about all of this is because I can finally talk freely about the girls’ big gift of Christmas and our next planned getaway… A TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD!!! I think I am more excited that I can finally say the word Disney at home without feeling like I am giving clues away, cuz that word comes out of my mouth every day practically.

Ok so the big reveal was fun. After the kids opened their gifts I had them go on a small scavenger hunt to find our Elf on the Shelf. Who didn’t make an appearance all season. Under the tree the kids found a hidden tube of sunscreen with a card attached. The card was from our ‘elf’, which was a hello and a rhyme clue to find her.

Lots of Christmas cheer, but it’s getting hot in here.”

(I didn’t say I was a poet)

As the kids ran everywhere to find her, I quietly grabbed all the Disney themed presents then placed them under the tree.(didya figure out she was in the oven?) That clue led to our Elf holding a big envelope that directed them to the tree to read it (and to find more gifts). It was super fun and they were beyond surprised. Our oldest daughter cried for like an hour over it all. (I got video of them opening the letter, and it is so funny and sweet. I’ll post it later on IG.)

As for receiving gifts… well, I got so many nice gifts; my husband always spoils me from the gift-wrap (Snow White theme this year) to each gift.  Also got spoiled from my parents, sister and my girls, which was super nice. My kids are really thoughtful and in tune with their Mom.  God really did give me a special gift with these two girls in my life.  I am very lucky. 🙂

Here are a few pics of the weekend:

 

And now, we are here.

Our last official week of 2017. Crazy how fa… (No no, I’m not even going to say my catchphrase from the year). Ahem. So ok, where was I? Oh yeah. Ok …as we are celebrating our last week of 2017, I wish you all a peaceful Christmas week, wrapping up with lots of love, laughter and memories…. And hopefully a slower feeling of 2018 passing than usual. Haha.

Xoxo

Thanksgiving 2017

Gobble gobble!

Hey guys!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with family and friends.

This year we hosted Thanksgiving again, going on a handful of years now hosting this dinner; which the process is always a lot of fun for me. I look forward to the Wednesday before to prepare the dinner with my mother alone all day.  We have a real good time talking while putting everything together, and crafting new things to try…and she cleans the capon! I hope this is a tradition I can partake in until I am old and gray, well, I won’t ever be gray..maybe blue or purple, maybe pink? hah. Plus, I love to cook, and I love the challenges of putting together a large dinner on my own with all the prepping and different cook times getting it on the table at one time.

This year’s Menu:

Appetizers:

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Scallops wrapped in bacon
  • Crostini of goat cheese and caramelized zucchini
  • Chilled shrimp cocktail*

Cocktails:

  • Valeria – Lillet white, elderberry syrup, St Germain and Prosecco floater
  • Poinsettia – Prosecco, cranberry vodka and splash of cranberry juice
  • Michael-  caramel apple martini w cider sugar rim

Dinner:

  • Lemon/thyme roasted capon filled with sausage stuffing
  • Roasted potato spears
  • Pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash
  • Green beans w garlic
  • Roasted Asparagus w lemon
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon glazed with maple syrup
  • Braised fennel w clementine zest
  • Mashed potatoes*

Dessert:

  • Squash pie w homemade whipped cream
  • Chocolate chip brownies
  • Chocolate frosted vanilla cupcakes
  • Cream cheese raspberry puff pastry
  • Italian cookies*
  • Sfingi* (Sicilian type fritter)
  • Blueberry pie*

*=brought by family

—–

The best part of my Thanksgiving wasn’t that my kids behaved, or that my house stayed clean, or that the dinner turned out stellar…it’s that I got to sleep in till 8:30AM. Yes, everyone, my kids gave me a Thanksgiving gift by not running to my bedside early. We are on a roll over here!! Haha. I’m jk jk. Well, sorta, sleeping in is like my favoritest thing ever. Starting your day from bed without being poked at, yelled to, creepily stared at, cried to …is pretty fantastic in my Mommy book. Woohoo give it up to my girls.

FAVORITEST is now a word, yes.

Thanksgiving, all joking aside, turned out to be a real nice day with everyone. From appetizers and cocktails to dinner and desserts, it was smooth going and real delicious …if I can say that about my own food? I have so much to be thankful for this year..so here I am spelling it out.

I am thankful for my health and my families’ health. I am thankful and grateful to have clothes on my back, a nice home with food (and coffee) on the table every day and for our jobs that help us make that happen. I am thankful for my family, my loving and supportive husband, my two smart caring children; for my beautiful parents, wonderful big sisters, caring in-laws and all my friends. And even my cat-baby, Gordon! I am thankful to open my eyes everyday to experience life, and feel that life is good without being extravagant or extra, that the simple things are all I need. I am thankful that I can reflect to appreciate what I have..not what I don’t have and I hope my children see what I see, and how beautiful is this life. 

 

 

Here are pictures of our day!

Another holiday in the books, guys.  I can’t believe how fast 2017 is flying by and I hope 2018 goes a lot  …s l o w e r!  Let’s all hope!

Happy Thanksgiving and we will talk soon!

xoxoxox

Unicorn Birthday

Unicorn Birthday!

Happy birthday to my September girls!

We celebrated our daughters’ birthdays Saturday with an Unicorn theme party.  Our daughters are obsessed with unicorns and rainbows, so when I suggested some options for a birthday theme this year (between a unicorn theme, Just Add Magic theme, or an emoji theme) they jumped at the idea of an unicorn party.

So.. where to begin with creating such a colorful party?..

 

The Invitation

Making the invitation ourselves is always a fun part of the party brainstorming.  As I have mentioned before, having an artist in the family makes creating things like invitations or decorations a lot easier.  I have a lot of ideas swirling in my mind but am not talented enough to do them on my own, so something that would take me days or cost me a lot, ends up being made in an hour and basically costs pennies using our printer.

We knew this invite had to have at least one unicorn on it and the kids caricatures.  I always like to incorporate them into the invite, it brings me joy and giggles. So this is what we came up with. The kids LOVED IT!

 

The Cake and Sweets Table

The first thing I bought for the party was the Unicorns are Real cake topper by Meri Meri.  Their designs are swoon worthy.  So when I found the cake topper at Marshall’s for $3.99 at the beginning of the Summer, it was just too good to pass up and became the theme of the party.  It was a huge score because that brand is uber expensive.   The pack was perfect, it had two unicorns, a rainbow and a sunshine, it was literally the party theme all in one packet.  The best was the following week when I swooped up the same theme Meri Meri party supplies at Homegoods…cupcake kit ($5.99), paper dinner plates ($3.99ea) and dessert plates ($3), gift bags ($5.99 for 8) and lunch napkins (2.99) and dessert napkins (same).  I had looked online to see if anything else was part of this collection and bought the I Believe in Unicorns banner to match off Ebay for $15.  I paired everything with coral/orange colored paper cups and rainbow striped table covers.

The cake itself was real pretty with the theme.  I ordered the cake from our go to bakery, Modern Pastry in Boston, and had it shipped to Medford to pick it up easily.  I ordered a chocolate cake with chantilly cream center draped in a light yellow whipped cream frosting that had a lavender ganache drip.  It matched the cake topper kit perfectly.  I did use the sunshine pick from the kit for the cupcake holder, it all worked out great.

Along with the cake, I had made some unicorn colored chocolate pretzels, fudge and ordered colorful donuts for those with food allergies. After we served cake (I don’t have any photos of it) I set up the table full of colorful candies.  You can see a few of them behind the cake, but the table was insanely stacked with candy.  I think I went a bit overboard with the candy this year.  Noted not to do that for the next one.

The girls (and their friends) loved it all.  The tables were wrecked in minutes, and snacked off of for a long time.

 

 

 

 

The Craft

The party craft idea came to me when my kids were watching YouTube videos on making slime at the start of Summer.  It made sense to incorporate that into the birthday, it’s glittery, colorful and can be played with over and over.

The girls and I started by making sample slimes to see what recipe made the best one in a group setting. We tried the fluffy kind with shaving cream (smelled great but the color wasn’t pretty), the adding glitter to white glue kind (the glitter kept flaking off during play), and the glitter glue kind (color was vibrant). We found that the simplest one using three ingredients (glitter glue, baking soda and contact solution) was the best one to make.  And once I saw how much slime we would be making per child, I got to work on what type of container could cart it home…jelly jars!

 

Decorations and Photo Background

For some reason when they decided on the party theme fluffy clouds were on my mind.  Idk why.  But I ran with it and started crafting fluffy cotton clouds for the main entrance and the photo booth/background.  Making the clouds was so much fun and so easy.  I bought foam boards from my local dollar store, along with cotton and crafting paper.  The clouds were drawn free hand (by me) and then cut out with a utility knife.  While watching some TV one night I glued on all the cotton balls in as uniform a way as possible..starting at the outside and lining them up and down on the inside.  After it dried, I cut out some fun Kawaii inspired faces to glue on top.

For the photo background I wanted it to be shiny and cheerful, and I also wanted to make one unicorn because I didn’t have one anywhere yet!  My husband traced out the unicorn form for me on foam board and I took the reigns for the transformation. With various paints, glitter and tissue paper the unicorn turned out pretty cute.  I bought two lavender plastic table covers and two opalescent door curtains for the background.  Then I painted a foam board with a rainbow and their names. My husband assisted me in tacking up a huge scrap bead-board panel to the fence.  We adorned it with the covers and screwed it all together, which worked out real great.

This annual birthday bash is a pretty big one. With it celebrating two kids at once, it has to be!  It is an all day affair with a ton of food, drinks and alcohol, foods and sweets, AND PEOPLE.  This year we had 24 kids and 21 adults, which can be overwhelming at times, especially with all those little hands and feet everywhere.

My top recommendations for parties large like this is:

  • set up variety of hands on food and drinks; things they can grab and go and can easily dispose
  • stage the party as spread out as you possibly can; space out games or jumpy house locations so there is a clear grouping around each activity
  • play games or activities that are easy to make and fun for all age groups
  • remember people roam around your house and yard when they are free to, so remove anything you cherish from around the house/yard that you don’t want broken or are easy to grab with tiny hands
  • plan for anything and everything; have band aids on hand, ice packs too, and make sure there are boundaries for the kids..like no wee lil ones in the bouncy house at the same time as the bigger kids
  • lastly, JUST HAVE FUN!

Having fun is key! 🙂

——

We had a wonderful day celebrating these two cute kids Saturday, and I am so thankful the weather cooperated better than we had figured, the food was super good and the cake was delicious.  I’d say that it all went off without a hitch.  Which is always a good time!

Here are some random photos of the day!

 

I still can’t believe I now have a ten and almost twelve-year-old here. These girls are the best part of my life, and I love them more than anything in this world.   Happy Birthday, girls!  🙂

 

Thank you for reading!

xoxoxox

The Big Man’s 4-0!

Ice Cream Cake from Mad Maggies

Hey Everyone

Sunday was my husband’s birthday.. the big FOUR OHHH!  

Still can’t believe it.  We met 21 years ago on the eve of his 19th birthday, and here we are now both 40 year olds.  Craziness.  

So my husband. Here are some fun things you need to know about him… he is a real nice man, loves traveling and making me laugh, hardworking, great father, always level headed, extremely talented yet humble, which also means he is not big into being showered with gifts.  Especially for his bday or anything. It can be frustrating for me at times, cause I am all about the hoopla of gifts and birthdays..uhm, especially my own.  Does that make me narcissistic or festive?  idk haha I just like to celebrate everything because life is too short not to.

Ok, so as I was stealthily starting to plan a party for him he casually asked not to have a surprise bday during dinner… two months ago. Actually said, he didn’t want a party at all this year.    *frown face*  (I had thrown him a surprise bday for his 30th; I was 9 months pregnant with our youngest then..what a time!) After a week of moping, because it really did depress me for some reason, I think he saw how bummed out I was about that decision and he started coming around talking about having a get together. He kept stating he wanted no surprise and only his family and closest friends.  Ok I can live with that!  *happy face*

You ask and you shall receive, my love!

Some of the deets…

The cake.  So I got an ice cream cake on the sly, he may have asked for no surprise party but some things are better a surprise, right?  I ordered the cake from our fav ice cream place, Mad Maggie’s in North Andover.  The cake was one layer Coffee & Cookies and one layer Chocolate Chip.  Uhm, if you need to get an ice cream cake, I highly recommend Mad Maggie’s.  IT WAS THE BEST CAKE EVER!  And the staff was so great to work with.  Especially, if you have nut allergies.  They treat their cakes in the same manner as when they scoop it fresh..new clean scoops, they use the gallons of ice cream from the back and their cookie/fudge center is all made on premises, so there’s no cross contamination.  Which was a big bonus for us with our oldest daughter.

The restaurant. My husband picked Tulip in Stoneham because he really enjoyed it when we went two years ago. They have a big Sunday buffet set up, and its variety is quite good..plus it has a teppanyaki section so I liked it, too.  We had a great experience with the food Sunday.  We ended up in the smaller function room, and aside from the bad lighting in that space, it worked out great.  Everything from the buffet was fresh and delicious, and the drinks were pretty awesome, too.  I drank single scorpion bowls that were big enough for three ppl..which I had two because scorpion bowls, annnd I didn’t share.  haha Their Mai Tais were real good too, and I saw a lot of you with the tall versions, so I know you were happy hahah.  

What I am saying is we all were having a reaaaaal good time.  🙂 

During our drive home, he told me he loved every bit of his day.  He loves his family and best friends more than anything and his happiness is all I could ever ask for after all that he does for us.

Here are pix from Sunday.   

xooxoxoxoo

img_7432

Happy Birthday love!!

Thanks for reading!

Fourth of July 2017

Happy 241st Birthday,Merica!

Hope you all had a fun (safe) Fourth of July!   Man, I can’t believe the Fourth has just passed us by!  I sound like a skipping record, I know, but…’time flies when you’re having fun’.

We threw the Fourth of July bash this year, again.  I just love the Fourth, ya know.  There is an electric vibe that I get on this holiday; something about the fireworks, all the family, the sunshine, the great food and drinks, all the colorful outfits and gear, relaxin’, the decorations…it all makes me happy.

This year my husband and I wanted to change it up a lil bit by not being slaves to the grill. Usually, we are grill side cooking (in the heat) while drinking (sweating) and talking to everyone, which we love, but last year we grilled sooooOOOooo much food that we felt like we missed out on our friends.  We decided to do a lot ourselves again this year, but cater the two main dishes from Pit Stop BBQ.  Which worked out pretty great because that helped me immensely with not being stuck cooking all day, but mamma mia!, we had so much food!  haha Not that this is a bad thing.  

Fourth of July Menu

  • Raw Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Kale Salad
  • Corn on the Cob (thanks Gabriella)
  • Carrot Salad (thanks Trina)
  • Cornbread
  • Cole Slaw
  • Mac N Cheese
  • Pulled Pork
  • Beef Brisket
  • Baked Beans
  • Hot Dogs
  • Potato Salad (thanks Mum!)
  • Eggplant Parmigiana (thanks Mum!)
  • Veggie Plate (thanks Aunt Helen)
  • Roasted Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Roasted Onions

We did end up cooking; I made all the veggies, hot dogs, and mac n cheese in the oven in the late morning before the party.  This was a big task with the time, but so worth it.  Everything was hot on the sternos, cooked fresh, tasted great and looked delicious in their pans, and we were free to hang out!

There was a ton of drinks, like beer and wine..  oooh, I made a white sangria for the first time.  YES, first time..for me sangria is red, and red only, but I was aiming for a fruity, dryer, refreshing drink. It actually came out great!   I got drunk, I mean, it was delicious, and, I had to make two large batches of it as it disappeared fast. So I am taking that as a sign that my family and friends liked it, too.

My White Sangria Recipe (party sized)

  • 2 ripe peaches, cubed
  • a pint of raspberries
  • a pint of blueberries
  • three liters of dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
  • 3/4 cup triple sec
  • 32 oz peach flavored seltzer

So there you have the food and drinks portion of the party, which is uber important right?  haha

We peppered our lawn with a tent, chairs, beach blankets, bocce, some other lawn games then at the end of the yard it was anchored by an inflatable waterslide, which was a huge hit.  I have never seen the kids enjoy an inflatable we have gotten like this one before.  It was a large slide that went into a good-sized pool at the bottom, so when the big kids weren’t in it the lil ones could hang out in the pool.  I didn’t see a kid fight, cry or anything..which was grrreat!  Everyone enjoyed that.

I did manage to get the kids together to take a group picture, which I love doing..and I also got them to take a LIVE video for my sister in Italy, through Fbook.  It was super cute with them all screaming “HAPPY FOURTH!” and I know she loved it.

 

From the food to the drinks, to the kids playing so well, and the relaxing with family, it was a pretty great day.

Hope you all had a wonderful day too!  xoxox