Tuesday, August 22, 2017

O sole mio!


What an experience yesterday was for us! I was incredibly excited for the solar eclipse for weeks now and had been reading all I could get my hands onto. And of course gearing up for the big day. Glasses researched and ordered, activity book purchased, snacks collected and now it was just time to wait. NASA gave a great coverage and the kids and I watched that while we waiting for our peak time. Watching others go through it before us got the girls amped and ready for it to finally be our turn.


Thankfully the little guy was napping right during the partial eclipse so it was just the girls checking out the moon's travel through space across the sun. The girls tried moon pies for the first time, basically a smores cookie that how can you not love? We swung in the hammock during the cloudy periods and ran through the backyard to catch the eclipse with our high-tech paper glasses, cereal box viewers and even a colander to see the sun's light shine through the holes and reflect onto the ground as crescent moons.


 An experience happy to have witnessed and shared with my loves. 


A little glimpse of the moon passing over the sun through the clouds. The wonder of the universe never ceases to amaze.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017


We are all set for tomorrow and I'm as giddy as a little kid. My youngest will be napping when we are able to view the eclipse, even partial, so that's one less worry checked off my list. My girls are a little nervous about the danger but I think all in all, we're ready and excited.

Happy viewing!

**Post Update**
Although we have certified eclipse viewers, because my girls were a little nervous I checked out making these cereal box viewers too. I had everything, simple and quick. I made four and the girls seem at ease because of it too. Oh and I bought SunChips too, not pictured. #itsthelittlethings
 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Evening trip to San Cosimo


Each year we're in Puglia we make a pilgrimage of sorts to the Sanctuary of San Cosimo all Macchia to visit the Ss Cosma e Damiano, patron saints of my nonna. Not really a pilgrimage in the sense that we take a long walk there, but we did take a long flight to arrive to the country and then a short ride later in a car and we've arrived to the outskirts of the city of Oria where the church is located.


Ss Cosmas and Damiano


Also, tradition for my kids to run through the piazza outside the church near the parking lots.


Sofia running through the piazza in 2008...


And later Olivia in 2010...notice I put them in the same outfit for this traditional picture I take. 


C is for Crepes


I love crepes. They are a favorite sweet of mine in Italy and it's always been something I felt like I should attempt at making on my own. They look simple enough and it would come in handy when I feel like eating one when I'm not in Italy.

Today was the day. I found an amazingly simple recipe for crepes on my favorite search engine and off I went. My only question after making 15 crepes was why I hadn't been making them sooner?!?! I have all the ingredients on hand all the time, it took little effort and they were a quick and easy meal. Yes, I said meal. My girls and I enjoyed nutella crepes for lunch today. That's how we roll.


What's a nutella crepe without a touch of powdered sugar? Incomplete. Go ahead, add the extra sugar. Look at that smile as my middle gobbles up lunch.


And the list of ingredients you could add to the inside of your crepe is incredible too. Not just for Nutella lovers. You could add a multitude of combinations for either a sweet or savory taste:

- ham & cheese
- peaches & cream
- strawberry jam, really any kind of jam
- peanut butter & jelly
- cream cheese

Today I enjoyed it simple. Nutella, powdered sugar and a handful of chopped strawberries. See, I kept it a little healthy.


Monday, August 14, 2017

the days are long...


With the end of summer drawing near, too fast in my opinion, I'm reminded often of my one on one time with my little man is also drawing to a close as he prepares for his first year of pre-school this September. The shock is too much for this mama to stand.

It feels like yesterday that he arrived and became our party of five. First foods, first steps, first words. All milestones that have come, been celebrated and documented and now behind us. We had many days to ourselves and I'll always be grateful (and a little tired) remembering how we filled them. Lazy days around the house playing and watching favorite shows, trips to the park, visiting the library, the zoo and the farms. Our weekly sweet treat date just him and I.

Next stop...preschool. What is a mama to do?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce


From our trip last week to Maples Acres Farm, we came away with some fresh produce, most importantly - tomatoes! The farm was brimming with them and they looked so juicy and delicious I had to buy some up to make some fresh tomato sauce to freeze. I would love to try my hand at canning properly one day, but this method works well for me for now.

Quite honestly the easiest and simplest method to getting your tomatoes cooked down to blend to freeze is by roasting them. I chop off the stem of the tomato but other than that, I'm using everything else so not much gets wasted. No skin to peel and no seeds to have to discard. Simple and easy. Just what this mama needs.


I started by cleaning the tomatoes in a simple water bath and giving them a good scrub. They came directly from the farm, so there was some but minimal dirt resting on the skin. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and while that got ready, I had plenty of time to halve the tomatoes, pour some olive oil in a casserole dish, place tomatoes in the dish side by side and sprinkle more olive oil and some salt. This part is done. Place in oven for about 40-45 minutes checking towards the end so that they don't end up drying up. Allow to cool.


Once the tomatoes have cooled, I used a very simple and inexpensive blender to chop up. I like it to be a little thick and not watery, so it didn't take too much to get to my desired consistency. Pour into my clean freezer containers and store away.


I use about roughly 1-2 of these containers a week so I go through them quickly. I thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter-top. These little guys can be used for so many things from pasta sauce, pizza sauce or simply adding to a minestrone or soup.


Friday, August 11, 2017

A break from Italy posts...Maple Acres Farms


We have been having very un-August-like weather and I'm not complaining. Usually it's hot, sticky, muggy and chance of showers daily. But, it's been rather nice and to celebrate that we've been outdoors when we can. I took the kids to one of my favorite outdoor spots, Maple Acres Farm. I think I'm a wannabe farm girl or I just really really really appreciate the way of life. Either way, I'm so happy places like this exist.

My kids are pretty happy they get to go too.



This small farm located outside Philadelphia, is known for many things. They have weekly yoga on the grounds, delicious produce year-round and the most perfect pumpkin picking in the Fall. But what I love the most, their zinnias. In full bloom now, the fields are so beautiful to behold upon entering the property. Fun to pick and fun to photograph. My mini-me #1 had fun taking pictures with me when we went.


This guy. He loves being outside and a place like this is perfect for a 3 year old very active little man.


Pick your own or buy from the small farmer's market located right on site too.


He's a cucumber kid.







Oh! And there are animals too! Who doesn't love to see chickens, cows, horses and of course pigs on a farm. What would a farm be without animals?



So happy that while I don't have a garden nor much of a green thumb, we have places nearby to go to and appreciate this way of life. Important for the kids to see where some of our foods come from, give back to the local farms and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Win-win-win.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Santa Maria al Bagno


The kids and I created a bucket list for the month we were going to be on our own in Mesagne. We've never done this before on past trips and sort of just done whatever. And by "done whatever" I do mean that I pull out an old-fashioned map and googlemaps on my phone to figure out where and how long to get to area morning trips. I thoroughly enjoy it. But this year I thought it would be fun since we were alone to allow the kids (the girls mainly) to put some items on our Mesagne Bucket List.

One item was to visit a new to us beach. Typically we go to the beaches on the Adriatic Sea as they are closer, about a 10 minute drive. Very beautiful, a familiar beach with bar and bathrooms and secure parking. But last Fall I came across some old pictures my mom had and in the mix was a black and white of my Nonna and Nonno sitting on a rock at a beach. On the back of the photo was written the date (1964) and place - Santa Maria al Bagno located on the Ionian Sea.

Obviously, I chose this beach to add to our bucket list and told the kids the story of why it was important for me to visit and to take them there. And one gorgeous June morning, off we went.

It was perfect. A girlfriend of mine joined us for the day trip and about an hour later we were pulling up to this adorable beach town. We parked, found a paid beach to plant ourselves and enjoyed the sun and sand. Except this beach had no sand. It was all rocks. It was amazing. No sand to have to worry to clean out of the beach toys or sticking to your sunscreened body. We did have to remember to wear our shoes though as walking on the rocks was tough, hot and near the water, very slippery.



Yes, this photo has not been adjusted. That was the color of the water. Clean, the perfect shade of perfection glistening in the summer sun lapping against the rocks. It was magical.


The kids loved it and loved being able to check off an item on our bucket list!


The photo of my Nonna and Nonno in 1964. I love it and so happy that we went to visit this town. New to us but knowing my grandparents had visited years ago just gave me goosebumps.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My favorite little man


This guy. My little man. There is not enough space here to write about how the ways I love this boy. But a top reason that I just can't get enough of him is that this year in Italy he really traveled well. The delay in the airport upon departing the country, the nearly 8 hour flight, going through customs, getting our baggage and then the 2 hour wait to catch the 2 hour bus ride to our first stop in Italy. He was amazing. Sure, he was tired and wanted to run and play and be his active little self. Very active little self. But he must have just known that I was on my own and that he needed to listen. He ate, he watched a movie and then slept for 5 straight hours. That alone was enough to be singing his praises right now. 

But we were busy in Italy, I kept them on the go and all in all, he was fantastic. We traveled within Puglia a ton that month on my own and he sat in the stroller when needed, held my hand when I insisted and took cat naps in the car when needed. Kept with the flow, slept like a champ and enjoyed every last Italian morsel of wholesome goodness I set in front of him. While I had to remind myself pretty regularly, he's three. He's active. He's curious. It's natural for him not to listen immediately so thankfully he likes the sound of my voice repeating for the 3rd time something I needed him to do. All in all he kept me on my toes, but I also appreciated that occasional evening cup of camomilla or glass of Prosecco.

Yes, I realize he's behind the bars of the entrance gate in this photo but he was out there with his Nonna so he wasn't on his own. 

Love this kid so much. 


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Picking cherries with Nonno Mario


We arrived in Italy and spent the first few days in Abruzzo with the kids' grandparents. We were in luck because it was cherry-picking time and all three had a go at it and really enjoyed themselves. We picked so many cherries and were giving them away by the basket.



There's nothing quite like giving your child an experience where they pick their own food. In the very literal sense too. They loved climbing the ladder, trying to find the perfect branch with which to start plucking the cherries right off into the bucket or right into their mouths. They had to take turns, watch the ladder for the others and help carry the cherries inside to Nonna Maria to divide up to hand out to family and friends.What would have been seen as a chore to some was thoroughly fun for them.


I love taking pictures of this one when she doesn't realize it. My kids have all grown up with the camera very close at hand and very much in their faces. Something they had to grow accustomed to and for the most part just became a natural part of our experiences.

It's always a special moment for me when I can just take a picture and not ask anyone to look at the camera a hundred times or stop giving bunny ears to their brother or sticking their tongue out at their sister. Win for me.



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