Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A drive down the coast...the Southern Adriatic Coast of Italy

Anthony and I make a point to get out on a day trip while in Puglia. My parents have taken the girls for the day and we set off on our own to explore a different town. One year we went to Matera, another year we visited some coastal towns that Anthony had never been to before and another year we went to Gallipoli. I look forward to this so much each year and love exploring nearby. Although I've been just about everywhere in Puglia at this point, it doesn't grow old to me one bit.

This past trip we decided to drive up and down the coast but we had some guests with us as we thought the girls would love it. And since Mario is everywhere I am, he came too and it was a family affair. It was an awesome day. Perfect weather for driving, making stops along the coast for ice cream, pictures and resting too.

The girls visit Santa Maria de Leuca. Lots of great family trips happened here for me and I was so happy to bring my kids there for their first time.

Mario loved it too! Can't you tell?

The basilica and lighthouse...what a gorgeous sky!

Peeking out over the cliffs...

Momma and her first born. They were excited to be spending the day with us exploring and I was so excited to show them some place new.

We went to a restaurant Anthony and I visited last year on our own and knew the girls would love it. Gorgeous view from our table...

The staircase leading down to the outdoor veranda seating of the restaurant.

Daddy enjoying his meal...

The girls loved their pasta too. And drinking out of fancy glasses. No plastic cups with straws at this place.

Mario just took it all in and let us eat our fancy meal in peace! Doesn't he look comfortable?!

Photo-a-day challenge - Toy

So not technically a toy, but a pastime both girls love very much. These are Olivia's ballet slippers and I love everything about them. The color, the fact that they're worn in from wearing for several months now and the smile on her face when she puts them on herself and lines up ready for class at the studio.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Banana Bread

We love banana bread around our house and I'm always up to try new recipes. Win-win if I find a recipe with better-for-you ingredients AND it still tastes good too. Thanks to the world of Pinterest, I found one that I adapted a bit and it's delicious! This recipe is 37, 36, 7, 5, and 1 year-old approved!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or make it healthier by using whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

  2. Place first three ingredients into a large bowl and lightly stir with a fork. In another bowl, combine the applesauce, honey and mashed banana. Then add eggs and lightly whisk them into the applesauce/honey/banana mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. Do not over stir. Pour mix into greased pan. At this point, you may want to live on the wild side a bit and add some chocolate to your bread. Chocolate makes everything better! I sprinkled just a 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips right over the mix prior to baking but feel free to add more to your loaf.

  3. Bake for 1 hour and do the toothpick test in the center of the loaf. If the toothpick has a little wet mix on it, bake for an additional 5 minutes and check again. Allow bread to cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Another win-win if you have a cute loaf pan that you can just serve the bread out of rather than transferring to another plate. One less dish to have to wash! 

Buon Appetito! 

Photo-a-day challenge - Manic

Boy am I glad Manic Monday photography challenge has come to a close for me. I should have thought that one through a little more or I need to be better of thinking outside the box. That was a difficult word for me to capture each week.

But for today, the final Monday for the February Photo-a-day challenge, I captured a small image of our fridge. I left out some pictures on the top and sentimental magnets but you get the picture. What I did include were our alphabet magnets and the girls dry erase boards that presently boast their attitude chart.

Anthony and I had wanted to do something to track attitudes during two tough times in our home: morning and evening. In the morning, we're getting ready for school and they can get sidetracked, talk and giggle too long during breakfast making them late to get to the bathroom and changed for school, or just simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed and be stubborn about everything. In the evening, we're tired after a long day and can be quick to meltdowns. After trying out just a morning checklist last year and that working well, we thought this year we didn't need anything and were in the clear. Wrong.

We have been working on getting the girls to talk through their feelings rather than having voices escalate. Be nicer to one another and be more helpful around the house. The girls give themselves a checkmark or sad face for morning or evening and we talk about why they get what they get. It's rather broad, I'll admit, but we're 4 weeks in and I think it's been really helpful to them. We researched chart options and we didn't want to do a lengthy rewards chart with stickers and while our chart is very, very simple in terms of day of the week, time of day and either a check or sad face, I feel like keeping it simple for our girls is the way to go. For now. Who knows what the next wave of emotions might bring!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Simple Sunday

This is the start of my last week of the photo challenge! Where did February go?! I for one am happy to see it end and bring on March. Hoping for warmer temperatures since February has proved to be one of the coldest months we've had in years! Yikes.

No fun for us since I love taking Mario out and about. And he loves it too but honestly some of these days we've had have been brutal. I'm sure folks in Canada and Alaska are scoffing at our temperatures but us southerners are not accustomed to single digit temperature days.

Thankfully we occupy ourselves indoors as best we can. And with whatever we can find too. Mario has a new love for stacking and is quite good at it. And entertains himself for a little bit also. Buys me some time in the kitchen anyway and I'll take that anyday!

My sweet boy.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

lazy mornings

Can I just tell you how excited our girls get when we tell them it's going to be a pajama day? Almost as excited as I get when I realize that I can tell them that and that means I don't have to get out of pajamas for awhile too. Sofia had a pajama morning today and she gets so happy to not have to hurry and change and get ready for her day. She also had a fun birthday party to look forward to in the afternoon so I'm sure that helped knowing she could have a lazy morning of Legos, dolls and books.

Sounds pretty awesome to me. Look at that happy smile!

Photo-a-day challenge - Cozy Saturday

It's rough being almost 6.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Happy Friday!

Last year I was researching barre classes to begin at the start of this new year and I'm proud to say that I haven't missed a week yet. The concept behind the class - ballet meets yoga meets pilates - always struck me as something that I might enjoy. I'm not one to GO to the gym and use equipment. I mean, I have in the past but if I'm being completely honest with myself (and you), I wouldn't do that at this point in my life. No desire to lift weights, use cardio machines or even go to the pool to swim. Just don't have it in me right now. But a class about stretching, breathing exercises and strengthening my core, now that was something that appealed to me.

But we will be ending our YMCA family membership and while they do offer classes there, I found a great site nearby that is only barre and the instructors there live and breathe it day in, day out. They are so energetic, helpful with questions and any problem areas you might want to work on or if you need to adjust a particular movement to better suit your needs. The studio is adorable, there are a variety of class times offered to fit my schedule and I just feel like it's a better environment for me being just one studio and not a huge complex. They do offer childcare at a small cost but I've found a slot of time in the evening that I don't even need to worry about childcare since they can hang with daddy for the hour. Yep, and it's an hour long class and man, do they keep you moving from beginning to end. Quaint and personal sound weird I guess to describe it but it's true and it's what I love about it. That and how I feel right after, the next day and that I look forward to going to the next class.

So that's my Happy Friday since I was just there last night and had to post about it and how much I'm enjoying it. And, honestly, how cute are my barre socks?

Photo-a-day challenge - Nature

So, I forgot to post yesterday. Didn't get a chance to even take a picture. But I thought of some I could take just never went and did it mainly because the pictures I thought about involved going outside which was not on my mind at all besides getting my girls from school. It's been freezing lately and while I love the four seasons, I can not wait for Spring.

I took a couple pictures of my landing a couple weeks ago and went back today to check out the progress of some of the plants. They look like it's Spring already all in bloom and beautiful! We could learn a lot from these plants. Freezing outside but still bright and blooming inside.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's SNOW Much Fun to have a sister!

Earlier this week we had some snow that caused school to be cancelled. Oh the smiles on my little girls when they found out!!! Despite the bitter cold, they played happily outside for a good bit in the morning. They were happy to come into hot chocolate and cookies though!

After changing into warmer clothes, I found them snuggled under the same blanket with Sofia helping Olivia with her reading.

I'm going to remind them of these moments when they're arguing. It's definitely something I'm going to think back on when they're not playing or sharing well with one another.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Wee ones!

So my day today was a little crazy and I didn't take one picture. Not a single even with my camera phone. I thought instead of trying to force a picture at this late hour (it's late for me at 8:50pm!), that I would just select some pictures of my wee ones from the past. And I thought it would be cute to grab pictures of the three of them approximately at the same age. Fun, right? I'm just trying to make myself feel better for not taking a picture today for my photo challenge.

100 Days of Kindergarten - Lollipop plant

Olivia will be celebrating 100 days of Kindergarten this week with her class. They were given the assignment for a project involving 100 pieces of something to bring in as show and tell. We chose to do a lollipop plant and it came out so adorable! She was so excited to do it together and can't wait to take it to class!

One of the easiest projects and cute too. Perfect even for a centerpiece for a birthday party.

What we used:
terracotta planter
foam ball
Dum-Dum Lollipops

What we did:
Stuck lollipops into 3/4 worth of the foal ball since the bottom portion was in the planter. Set it planter when complete. That's it! So easy. You could probably hot glue the foam ball to the planter but I figured we could use the planter for something else, say maybe to plant something in the Spring.

Look at that sweet, proud smile! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Toy Tuesday!

Past the halfway point now of my photo challenge and enjoying it. Already thinking of new things for whenever I do this again.

We had a snow day today. Maybe 4-5 inches worth and enough to close school for the day. Yay! Girls had a great day and along with playing outside in the snow, they set themselves up with some water painting too while I got lunch ready. It actually has me thinking of another craft we'll do one day soon and maybe something to frame for the walls but for now it was just free for all water painting. Which they loved and I loved too.

Proud little Olivia of her "creation".

Peanut butter heart cookies

Some Valentine baking fun took place this past weekend and they are just as adorable as they are delicious!

Very simple to make which is always a nice plus to baking too. Just use this peanut butter cookie recipe and instructions but rather than using a traditional Hershey kiss, place one Dove heart shaped chocolate in the center of each cookie after they have cooled for one minute coming out of the oven.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - manic strawberries

Ok, so there was nothing crazy about these strawberries but I decided to take this picture when I was in the midst of doing a million things at one time in the kitchen. With it being a holiday and everyone home, I decided today would be a good day to get caught up cooking and prepping for the week ahead. Also, we were away for the weekend so no time to get that done then so today was it. And while I was doing a lot in the way of cooking, it felt real good.

Fruit and veggies scrubbed clean and chopped for easy grabbing during the week, cheese cubed for a simple snack after school one day, homemade chicken soup and homemade chili for dinner tonight and tomorrow night, roasted chicken and vegetables and meat and cheese nachos for lunch today. Yummy! These strawberries just looked so pretty in their red little bowl having a little water soak that I just had to take a moment and snap a picture.

Photo-a-day challenge - Simple

We were in Maryland for the long weekend and it was lots of fun. Relaxing, going on a double date with my brother and sister-in-law and plenty of family time.

Love this picture as it was a nice two birds, one stone for the blog. Exemplifies "simple" - Sunday's word of the challenge month which I forgot to post yesterday and it was a nice picture memory from the weekend when my parents watched all 5 grandkids so Scott, Chaela, Anthony and I could go out for a couple hours on our own. Those kids love their nonna and nonno!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Cozy

Happily playing in Nonna Lisa's cupboards. Doesn't he look comfortable?!?

Happy Valentine's Day!

We love holidays around our house and of course Valentine's Day is no different. The girls love handing out valentines to their schoolmates and family AND there's usually some holiday-themed treat involved too. Pictures to come of those!

We give the girls the option to make a valentine for their classes or to go to the store and pick one out. This year we had one and one. Sofia opted for the store-bought cute little hologram valentines and added her own little flair to them with a valentine heart sticker while Olivia and I made her valentines together. I had so much fun!

Simple and adorable! AND I had everything at the house already. Except for the lollipops, those were purchased. But there are so many options out there for simple and adorable valentines using lollipops which is always a hit with the kids' friends.

Lip and Mustache Lollipop Valentines

What you will need:

card stock paper - we used shades of red and brown
hole punch

What to do:

1. Trace a lip outline and a mustache outline onto the card stock paper and start cutting!
2. Hole punch in the middle of each
3. Have your child sign their name, we made it easy since there wasn't a ton of room and just had her make a heart and her name
4. Stick a lollipop through the hole


She also wanted to decorate the bag she took the valentines to school so that was just added coloring fun for her. But seriously, how cute, right? And again, very easy. 

She loves them! 

Sofia hard at work on her valentines too! She had fun making a couple lip/lollipop valentines too but glad she chose on her own what she wanted to do for her class.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Photo-a-day challenge - Happy Friday!

Ok, so I cheated on this one a bit and used a picture I took earlier in the week. My challenge, my rules to break. But if a warm baking pan of just made brownies don't make you happy, I don't know what can. Especially if the said pan is a bright red happy color! The brownies were delicious. They are still making me happy even though they are long gone now.

Off to make some more happy memories on this Friday the 13th!!! Happy Friday to you all!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Photo-a-day Challenge - Wee ones

Dumping out the basket of blocks the hard way. Climbing in, getting out and tipping it over.

Mission accomplished. One happy baby boy! 

peek-a-boo, i see you

even with him not feeling great this week...cold and teething going on at the same time, he's still so much fun to be with. whether it's reading our favorite books together cuddled in bed, running around the house, going to get the girls from school or playing quietly...he is awesome. we're all so in love!
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