Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring in the New Year with Lentils!

A very common meal for Italians on New Year's (Eve or Day) is a simple bowl of lentil soup. Lentils (lenticchie) are said to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year. Whether or not that's true, I can't say, but I will say that a nice, hot bowl of lentils is delicious...very easy to prepare and so good for you too.

Lentil Soup
serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 bag of dry lentils (16 oz)
3 Tbsp olive oil
chopped veggies - onion, celery and carrots
diced ham
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Place dry lentils in a bowl and cover with water for about an hour. Drain, place in cooking pot and again, cover with water.

2. Put the olive oil in a saute pan and throw in the veggies and ham. Cook on low until the ham gets a bit brown and the veggies are just a little tender.

3. Add saute pan mix to the lentils and add salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 hours on low heat. Taste-test periodically so they are to your desired tenderness.

Buon Appetito!

I like to sprinkle my lentil soup with shaved parmigiano cheese and let it melt through. Also, if you have bacon on hand (and who doesn't?) you can substitute the bacon for the ham. Bacon goes well with just about EVERYTHING!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009 - La Famiglia!


This year wouldn't be half of what it was without our families. Their constant support, love and homemade food made this year all the more special for us. Whether they're two hours away or right around the corner, we feel truly blessed to have them in our lives.

Best of 2009 - Italia!!!


Our year would not have felt complete had it not been for our annual trip to Italy this summer. Traveling on our own with two little ones was quite the experience for Anthony and I, but we did it and I am so glad. Introducing Olivia to everyone abroad and Sofia on her 3rd trip now was an unforgettable experience. Perfect weather accompanied by day-in, day-out of happy memories and excellent food!

Best of 2009 - Dominican Republic Trip


The first week of February Anthony, Sofia and I (6 months pregnant at the time) joined Anthony's mom and dad for a week long trip to the Dominican Republic. Sofia had a great time with her Nonna Maria and Nonno Mario playing in the sand, swimming with Daddy in the big pool at the hotel and making friends with the hotel staff. It was our first time there and while the weather wasn't entirely cooperative (it was overcast or rained 3 of the 7 days we were there), it was exciting to see a new place and take in all it had to offer.

Best of 2009


I can't believe 2009 is coming to a close. We had a ton of great experiences in this past year, most notably having our second baby. Aside from Olivia Maria's birth, we had many happy memories with our families, friends getting married, a trip to the Dominican Republic, our annual trip to Italy and the usual day-to-day that always provides us with a smile (or two). Looking back through our pictures (there are close to 15,000 just this year), it was so hard to pick just a few to post as a year-end summary so I decided to make a few collages instead.

I am still working on my new year's resolutions, plural since I am sure there will be more then one. But a definite among them will be to use the self-timer more on my camera!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Off to Nonna's house we go

Waking up Christmas morning at my parent's house was awesome. My mom always has the music going and the lights on everywhere by the time we come downstairs. And she also has lunch started so the house always smells incredible too! Santa stopped at their house for us (how thoughtful of him) and we had a ton of fun watching Sofia open her gifts. Olivia, again happy as can be, alternated between a piece of wrapping paper and a bow just about the entire time.

My aunt, uncle and cousins came over for Christmas Day lunch and it really was so much fun to be with all of them. The girls loved the extra attention too. My future sister-in-law, Chaela, modeled her outfit that she was wearing to her family's 'Christmas Sweater' contest - sorry for posting the pic! I got my parents the new Super Mario Bros. game for Wii (so much fun!) and we had fun playing that after everyone had left. It really was the perfect day of family, food and lots of good fun!







The night before Christmas...

We had a great Christmas Eve - took the girls to mass and then to La Locanda for dinner with Nonno Mario and Zio Italo. Afterwards, we came home and opened our presents with the girls. We made a later decision to drive down to MD that night rather than wait for Christmas morning or else we would have waited until the morning to open gifts. But Sofia and Olivia were happy about our change in plans and had so much fun!

Sofia looked so beautiful, like a little lady in her pretty Christmas dress. All night she would ask us "do I look like a princess?" Which, of course, she did. She was so excited to have gotten all dressed up! It amazes me how big she is getting and she had a blast opening up her gifts and playing with them. We (I mean, Santa) only got the girls a couple of little gifts and then their red wagon but Sofia didn't even bat an eye when we were done. Olivia was completely engrossed with the same little piece of wrapping paper and sat happy as a clam the entire time.













Thursday, December 24, 2009

my little snow bunny






To say that Sofia loved the snow would be a major understatement. She loved running to the window and watching it come down (and down and down and down - two feet is a lot). She loved walking around "squishing" in it and she loved clapping it. Yes, clapping. She did not want to sit or roll around in the snow, but rather she would pick up handfuls in her mittens and clap her hands together in front of her face so the snow dust would go everywhere. Shrieked when the snow flew in the air and tickled her face AND wanted to do it all over again...forever.

where did my feet go?



Olivia wore her very first pair of shoes the other day and I'm not sure she knows what to make of them. Considering she enjoys playing with her cute little feet all the time, she may not like the idea of covering them up. Oh well, just like her big sister and her mommy, she's going to grow to love shoes I'm sure!

Olivia meets Babbo Natale!



We went to a Christmas Party last night where Olivia had her very first encounter with Santa Claus! First impressions - not so impressed. But she didn't cry and sat pleasantly while pictures were taken and she was given a gift. Sofia, on the other hand, didn't want much to do with Babbo Natale. It was cute though, because as soon as he came in the room, bells jingling and all, she shouted out "there's Santa!" I held her while she told him that she wanted "presents" for Christmas and after saying "Merry Christmas Santa" she went off to play with the other kids.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

so, that's what 2 feet of snow looks like

While Anthony was in Las Vegas this past weekend, the girls and I were snowed in at my family's house in Maryland. Let me tell you that it's the perfect place to be snowed in too...mom cooked and baked ALL weekend! We began seeing the snow fall late Friday night and it didn't stop until very early Sunday morning. Needless to say, we got a ton of snow. At least 2 feet of it!




Saturday, December 19, 2009

sure to put a smile on your face

video

perfect combination



A big GRAZIE to Hershey's for inventing the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. As you know there are many ways to mix peanut butter and chocolate, but their holiday treats, Christmas trees this time of year, are my all-time favorite. I honestly eat one daily, perhaps even hourly...ok, hourly would be a little much. But I like them...a lot.

Friday, December 18, 2009

some light reading


She loves her sunglasses, even has to have them on while reading.

big red wagon


We just received the girls' big Christmas gift in the mail and I can't wait to use it! I tried to hide it from Sofia when I was bringing it into the house but she ran out into the hall, saw me carrying the huge box and said "Mommy, that's a wagon!" She is very observant. I thought she was a little young to have understood my explanation, you know, the whole "Well, Santa needed to drop if off early to lighten the load on the sleigh...," but she didn't bat an eyelash and went back to playing. The plan is to set it up Christmas Eve so they (Sofia mainly) can see it Christmas morning.

How cute are they both going to look in their wagon?!?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

vroooom, vroooom Olivia!




Words can not express how excited she was to sit in Sofia's police car. Sofia was napping or else I would have tried to put them in there together and then I seriously would have been without words at how cute they would have looked in there.

sweet baby girl



I love black and white photos. Especially when they are of my baby.

chatterbox


Olivia is becoming quite the little chatterbox. About a month or so ago, we heard her first word - "da-da" - and now she is just full of things to say. Of course most of the time no one understands a word she is saying but it's fun to hear her chiming in with the rest of us now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

starting early


Just like her older sister, Olivia loves books. From the soft taggies books to the hundreds of paperback books in Sofia's library, she will grab at any of them that we give her or that Sofia leaves in close proximity. She loves opening and closing them, looking at the pictures and now that she is teething, will eat one or two as a snack.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Kisses


I make these cookies EVERY Christmas. We never get tired of them in our house. This year I made them for my friend's cookie exchange and made sure to make extra for us too. They do not stick around too long between Anthony, Sofia and I. Next year Olivia can enjoy them as well!

Ingredients:

* 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Milk Chocolates
* 1/2 cup butter
* 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Sugar


Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

YUMMY!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

christmas ornament inspector


Sofia loves to inspect things. This doesn't mean she's necessarily touching anything, but she just likes to be in on everything. The Christmas tree is a perfect example where I will find her over in the corner just checking it out and looking at all the ornaments. We found her last year checking it out too, so I guess she's going to be the expert ornament inspector in this house.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh what a tangled...


mess of hair! Even though I try to keep Sofia's hair in a braid during her nap and at bedtime, it's going to happen to fall out every once in awhile. Unfortunately for her, the times it falls out during her sleep she is left with a tangled blob on her head when she wakes up. Thankfully she is pretty patient with me when I have to make some sense of it all - the breaks of having long hair!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tiramisu


We had Anthony's work Christmas party Tuesday evening and it was a very fun night. It was held at Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse in Philadelphia and everything was pretty much perfect from start to finish. Of course, I had to take a picture of the finish...doesn't it look incredible!?!

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have never made tiramisu on my own. I know, this is awful seeing how it is a staple Italian dessert, but to tell you the honest truth I've never been a super huge fan. It is something that I should learn to make though and maybe next time I'm visiting my family my mom will walk me through it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

la mia pesciolina

My how my little girl has grown. She is almost finished with her second session of swimming lessons at the nearby YMCA and she really is enjoying it. The first couple weeks were tough as she did not want to let go of Anthony's neck for anything, but now she's in there splashing her arms and kicking her feet and thoroughly having a great time. She comes home and tells me about the songs they sing and the games they play and looks forward to her next class. I think Anthony is having a good time too - I've caught him singing the kiddy tunes around the house!

Sofia at 4 and a half months old



Sofia at 2 and a half years old

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