Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

A very happy thanksgiving to you and yours. May you enjoy lots of smiles and laughter, food and drink and good company! Today and always.

I never posted a picture of our thankful garland that I did with the girls a few years ago. Very simple and fun project and now a staple to our Thanksgiving decorations in the home.

All you need is some twine for hanging, shapes of leaves cutout from scrapbook paper, hole punch and a marker. They were too little to write out what they were thankful for onto each leaf so I think an update is due for next Thanksgiving in their handwriting. Which is probably much better than mine anyway.

But I do love the addition we were able to make this year to our thankful leaf "sisters" it now reads "sisters and brother" - Yay!!! Love that my little monkey is celebrating his first Thanksgiving with us!

Off to "help" in the kitchen. Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 24, 2014

More from our little climber...

That face. Honestly. So sweet and I could just stare into those eyes forever. Probably because they look just like Daddy's eyes. Same little twinkle and perfect chocolate color. Love.

Checking himself out in the reflection from our finger-print covered fireplace cover. Which is horribly outdated and in major need of an overhaul. Hmm, whenever that time comes that would make a great before and after picture post. Not to mention that awful paneling on that wall surrounding the fireplace. It's probably the only wall in the house we haven't done anything to...yet.

But who has time to plan refacing our fireplace or our paneled wall? Not this mama. Especially when I have a climber on my hands.

Tongue shot!

Baby feet are about the cutest things EVER. Cuter than puppies. AND baby feet smell way better than puppies too.

"Look ma! Aren't you proud? Climbing all over those books you enjoy reading to us."

"I sure am adorable though, right?"

That's right Mario. You are very adorable.

This kid LOVES to climb!

I just love these pictures I took of my little man playing with one of his favorite things in the house...our kitchen stools. He crawls through them to get out to the next rooms INSTEAD of crawling around them. I love how determined he gets and how many times he will attempt it in a fifteen minute span.

I will say that it is a good bit of exercise and I'm impressed he's not bored with it yet.

SO happy after his little workout and crawling to mommy.

"Did you see what I did Mommy?" Coming over for some hugs...Mommy hugs are the best!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christmas Pretzel Trees

So it's no secret that our daughters love anything sweet. Or that they love getting ideas from magazines to try at home. Sofia put those two loves together today and with the help of her little sister and daddy, they made these. How adorable, right?

Featured in the Family Fun magazine's December issue, this easy peasy recipe took less than 10 minutes and had everyone smiling. What's not to love about that???

What you'll need:
pretzel rods - they used 3 for each tree
chocolate chips to melt
plastic bag
sprinkles to decorate

What to do:
1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and have your kids set up the trees using 3 pretzel rods for each tree.
2. The kids can pour in the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe dish and the parent can melt the chocolate. Make sure not to overheat the chocolate or you'll end up with a lumpy, stiff mess that you'll have to throw out. And no one likes throwing out chocolate! We usually melt on low power in 15-20 second intervals, stir and repeat if necessary.
3. Scoop the melted chocolate into a plastic bag, seal and snip off one end of the bag to easily pipe over the pretzel tree.
4. Decorate and allow to set. Enjoy!

My turn for a haircut...

For anyone that's gone through the ups and downs of hair growth/loss during and after pregnancy, you'll understand where I'm coming from with this post.

Below is an outtake from our Christmas card photo shoot last year with my brother. Long, long hair, super thick (sort of curly/wavy thing going on) and believe it or not it was much longer than that when I finally chopped off 8 inches this past Spring. That's basically been my hair for my whole life. I've always loved my long hair but...I've gone through moments where I needed to just chop it off. This year has been one of those moments.

Now this is a rare photo of my hair down from this past summer in Italy. I straightened it and it's just past my shoulders. Easy to pull back, love the way it looks both natural and straightened, win-win-win.

Below is a before and after just this past week with my hair. It had grown some from the big Spring cut and was basically just one layer and blunt. I needed an update. The after is a little shorter with some extra layers put in as well. A little different from the cut this past Spring and so far, so good. I love it straight from the salon, we'll have to see how much I love it when I attempt doing it on my own.

So far, I'm loving the length pulled back in a pony. That was one of the issues I was having with having it too long and always having to pull it back (which is my choice look these days - or rather the last 7 years!). Long, thick hair that is pulled back all the time was causing me to have headaches from the weight of it all. Chopping it off allows me to be able to pull it back without dealing with the heaviness of my hair and I don't have to worry about little fingers trying to pull at it.

And yes, I'm totally showing off my Zara scarf in this picture before that I have been adoring from afar for a couple years now. It's all mine now!!! I love it and all the fun ways you can wear it. Check them out here on Pinterest.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A visit to the barber shop - Mario's 1st haircut!

11 months old this week and not only are we getting two little teeth in, but it was also time for Mario's first haircut. I love the length and curls coming in but it was getting in his eyes and just looking shaggy-ish. So off we went as a family to trim the baby's hair!

He was very serious the whole time we were there. He stood on Anthony's lap while I took pictures and collected hair, girls were running around the barber chair, and the other patrons and barbers were oohing and aahing over our little boy. It was lots of fun!

Serious little man.

Checking out his do in the mirror

Ciao, ciao first curls!

It's like he's almost trying to get the girl's attention to say "Get me out of here!"

Mario Luca's first haircut! How handsome is my little man!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

I was in Maryland with the kids for about 24 hours so the girls could go with Nonna Lisa and Nonno Nicky to see Mary Poppins last night. They loved it. All 4 of them! The girls have been singing the songs all day and retelling the musical to Anthony and I all evening.

Of course, who doesn't love getting dressed up and spending time with Nonna and Nonno?!? It was at Toby's Dinner Theater and I loved receiving the pictures of the girls eating their dinner before the show started. There were only 6 glasses of milkshakes on the table! 6 glasses, 4 people...hmmm, strange. The word on the street is the girls didn't finish their milkshakes which I believe about Sofia, but not my milkshake-loving Olivia.

Olivia bella...SO excited to get out to see a favorite musical of hers!

Sofia mia...she's hysterical! Hamming it up for the camera.

And then sweetness ensues. Love these girls so much and love seeing their relationship grow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Test - take 134

I have tried MANY chocolate chip cookie recipes in the last few years. Some are soft and chewy, others smaller than normal and others very large. Some are made with more white sugar than brown sugar, others more butter, baking powder vs baking soda, etc. You get the picture, they all vary just a bit. All have been really good, according to my taste-testers but I think we found the perfect ones!

Aptly named - The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Williams-Sonoma. Behold, the cookie that brings together all in one cookie what my family deems most important in a chocolate chip cookie. Sofia and Olivia like LOTS of chocolate. I like them to be chewy while Anthony likes a little crunch to his cookie. Mario hasn't weighed in yet since I didn't let him try them.

I changed the recipe just a smidge and I honestly think I don't need to try out any more chocolate chip cookie recipes. This is it. My quest is over and I can move onto other things. Like maybe doing laundry now or dusting my house.

The PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tbs. white sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2  cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350°F Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the chocolate chips to the mix.

I used a tablespoon to scoop and drop dough onto the baking sheets. Don't place too close together because these do spread a bit.

Bake the cookies, 11-13 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 30 cookies exactly!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

bath chats

Last week one night after Olivia had her bath and I was chasing Mario around while Sofia took her bath, I walked by the bathroom door to find this...Olivia sitting on the rug near the bathtub chatting it up with Sofia. I went into the other room for a minute just to sort of eaves drop on the girls. They had just spent the previous few hours together so I couldn't imagine what new things they could be talking about but there it was...them talking about their day with one another, playing I Spy and just giggling together. It really made me smile. And maybe even tear up a bit too.

I pretended to go into the bathroom for something trying to hide my camera from them to snap this shot too. It was a quick shot because little brother crawled in right away and tried to get in on the sibling bonding time and nearly jumped in the tub. SO away went the camera, but so grateful I got to get this image.

Sisterly-love. Even when they argue, disagree or don't want to play with one another, I know that they will always be there for one another and what a comfort that is to me. Love my girls!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Brotherly Love...

One of the 345,987 reasons I love taking get little images like these. Even taken with my camera phone and not the best quality, but the sentiment is there and I love it!

Peeking in on big sister Olivia...

coming to investigate...

"why is she not looking at me?"

"I'm just going to get right in there and touch everything!"

Happy little brother!

And while I love the mental commentary I knew was going through his mind, I LOVE that Olivia just continued right along with what she was doing and did not get upset with him one bit at him trying to interfere with her and what she was doing.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A field trip to Highland Orchards with Olivia

Last week Olivia had her first Kindergarten field trip to this awesome little place not too far from our house, Highland Orchards. A hayride through the apple orchards, too late in the season to actually pick apples, but stops along the way to see what we can see. It was great spending time with just my little girl, her sitting on my lap as the tractor rolled us through the fields and feeling that chill in the November air getting me even more in the Autumn spirit.

It feels like not too long ago I was here with Sofia on her preschool field trip and enjoying my one-on-one time with my big girl.

Olivia had a lot of fun and loved getting to pick apples out of bins instead of from the trees, churning apples into cider and walking into the humongous refrigerator where they store the apples fresh from picking. Of course, enjoying a delicious apple cider donut makes everything perfect too!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Homemade Orecchiette with the girls

Some of my favorite memories of being a kid in Italy is making homemade pasta with my nonna. It was so fun sitting side-by-side with her and rolling out the dough and using the dull knives to either make orecchiette or a long thin piece of steel to make penne. I wish I had a photo of her and I making pasta together but it's a very clear memory for me which is special for me to hold onto as well.

I'm glad that I take a lot of pictures and have gotten some good ones of the girls making food with my mom.

Mario enjoyed sitting back and watching. Something tells me though that next time he'll be right there with them "making" pasta too!

Check out Olivia stealing a taste of the dough!

Yummy homemade orecchiette!

It's a Prep thing

We've had a lot of things going on lately, all good things thankfully, but little time to post. Going to try and remedy that this week and leading up to Christmas. Which, of course will get busy again and probably not posting often, but hopefully it's because I'm off doing other fun stuff.

A couple weekends ago we got a little reunion together of some of the Anthony's closest friends from the Prep. A couple of the guys he sees pretty regularly but the others are out of town and harder to hang with as often as you'd like. I can not say enough good things about this group of guys and their wives. Anthony really lucked out with friends and I love that they went to high school together and have stayed close. While the quality of this picture isn't the best, the sentiment is there that these group of guys through life, family and sometimes miles apart, they all genuinely enjoy one another's company still after all these years. This is definitely something we have to keep up with to continue this picture with our growing families!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Halloween at school. 2nd graders have to choose a Saint to portray and give a presentation on in class. Both girls were in the parade again this year which was so nice to see Saint Clare and Princess Anna. They loved it and who wouldn't love a short week of school mixed in with fun activities and sweets!

A simple little after school snack I made for the girls one day...

Relaxing before the big night of trick-or-treating...

Our pumpkins came out adorable! Girls had so much fun doing this little craft.

My sweet little trick-or-treaters. Except for my little Olaf that helped hand out candy with me while the girls went out to get candy.

Daddy and Olaf

So excited about reaping the benefits of all that walking!

Happy Halloween 2014!
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