I Heart Faces - "Oh So Silly"

January 30, 2012

Someone is feeling much better2 BLOG
If you walked into our home on any given day, you are sure to witness a lot of silliness.
Especially when it comes to the dynamic duo of Sarah and Reagan.
These girls can find everything you say or do to be silly and they will do just about anything to get each other to giggle.

There were some major belly laughs coming from Sarah's bedroom about two weeks ago, so I grabbed my camera and climbed the steps not quite sure of what I would find....

and to my surprise, it was one silly girl jumping on the bed.

Luckily, no one fell off and bumped their head:)

To check out some more "Oh So Silly" moments, head over to I Heart Faces.

If you want to view the rest of the photos from this set, the original post is HERE....and if you are wondering why her little sis was not up there jumping with her, click HERE.
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Sunday Snapshot - "Be Kind"

January 28, 2012

The kindest word quote

Be Kind texture BLOG
"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
~Mark Twain~

Be Kind to My Girl BLOG
"Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not."
~Samuel Johnson~

Be Kind Bokeh Texture BLOG
"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness."

Over the last few months I have received a few anonymous comments that were far from kind.
According to the technology I use to track visits to my site, I can see the location of the
person who is commenting and I have reason to believe that all of the "unkind" comments were left by the same person.

The first few comments that came in, I simply deleted and moved on. I did not want to shed light on the subject or give this person the satisfaction of a response. It was obvious they did not like me or agree with the way I raised my children, so I hoped they would simply go away and stop visiting.

It seems "Anonymous" has no plans to go away because she struck again this week........
and this comment, I cannot let slide.

You can attack me, my photos, my opinions, my choices, or the way I dress my girls but DO NOT EVER call my child "disgusting" because she sucks her two fingers.

Not that I need to defend myself or Reagan, but seriously, she is only 26 months old.
I know a lot of children that still suck their thumbs/fingers or pacifiers at this age and OLDER!!
Not to mention, she has only been home with us for a little over a year. Sucking her fingers was the only thing she had to sooth and comfort herself while laying in her crib day after day in the orphanage. There is no way I would force my daughter to give up something that brings her so much comfort.....NO WAY!

This blog has been open for just about 4 years and I have never had an issue with Anonymous comments. In fact, I get a lot of anonymous comments that are kind and supportive. I know there are many blog readers and some of my family members that don't have Google Accounts to leave comments, that is why I leave the anonymous comments open.....but if this continues, I will be forced to shut them down.

I don't expect everyone to agree with every word I write, and I know that people will have differing opinions, but if you cannot express your thought or opinion in a nice and respectful way, then maybe it is best that you don't say anything at all.

Be Kind....

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To see more Sunday Snapshots, head on over to my friend Stefanie's blog

Sunday Snapshot

Apricots in a Sandwich?

January 27, 2012

Apricots in a bowl Vintage Linen BLOG
I know you all are going to think I have lost my mind when I tell you that I made a great sandwich about two weeks ago, and the star ingredient was an APRICOT!!! I'll admit, it does sound kind of strange, but you will have to trust me when I tell you, the sandwich was REALLY REALLY GOOD.....
in fact, it was FABULOUS!

Halved Apricot Vintage Linen BLOG
I have very fond memories of picking apricots in my great grandfather's backyard with my cousins when we were young. We would sit on the hill and eat the freshly picked fruit until we were literally sick to our stomachs. Til this day, whenever I am in the produce department of the grocery store and see apricots, I always think of my Poppy and that big old tree. So on this particular shopping trip, I decided to fill a bag and put them in my cart.

As I was walking the aisles of the grocery store, I remembered a sandwich that was made by one of my favorite food network chefs. The recipe used grilled peaches, so I thought maybe I could substitute a few ingredients and come up with something very similar.

First Cold Pressed EVOO BLOG
The first thing I did was slice the apricots and rub them with a little olive oil.....

Apricots on the press BLOG
then I grilled them on my panini press until they caramelized.

Fontina BLOG
After they were done, I removed them from the press and started to put the sandwich together. I sliced my ciabatta bread then layered it with arugula, fontina cheese, the grilled apricots, and I made a quick pesto aioli(a couple tablespoons of light mayo with a teaspoon or two of pesto mixed in). Before I put the top piece of bread on, I gave it a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper, then we were finally ready for the press.

After a few minutes, I had one rockin' sandwich ready to be eaten!!
The combination of flavors and textures were fantastic. The arugula is crisp and peppery, then you have the soft melty cheese that tastes a little salty paired with the sweetness that comes from those caramelized apricots. It is definitely a tasty and unique sandwich. I served it with tomato soup and it was the perfect winter meal. You will have to give it a try!

I have been in a soup and sandwich mode for the last few weeks....... and have become addicted to my panini press. I am coming up with all sorts of quick and easy things.
It's always fun to experiment in the kitchen:)

~Happy Weekend Everyone~

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Short and Edgy

January 25, 2012

I needed a change in a bad way and have been contemplating going super short with my hair for months. When I found a really cute inspiration photo online last week(thank you pinterest), I knew I needed to call my stylist and make the appointment before I talked myself out of it.
new short do in the mirror Hazy Teal BLOG
Yesterday after work, I nervously walked into the salon and watched as big huge clumps of hair fell on the floor. It was a little shocking at first, but I have to say..........

new short do in the mirror 2 BLOG
I am absolutely THRILLED with it and wish I would have taken the plunge long ago.
It took me a less than a minute to do my hair for work this morning.
A truly no fuss, wash and go look!!

photo (13)
I couldn't hold my big camera to get the back of my head, so I figured I would use this IPhone shot to show y'all how funky the back looks. I actually used this shot as a Facebook teaser last night:)

Anyway, I am lovin' the fresh new fun look!!!
It was the perfect pick me up and just what I needed to help keep the winter blues from setting in.
I was anxious to get home last night to see what Pat thought, I wasn't too sure he would love it as much as I do, but he really does. Every chance he gets, he tells me how much he likes the "new me".

That one little piece in the front sort of falls in my face and I like to pin it back.
I have a few fancy bobbypins with little doo-dads on the end, but I am going to need to stock up on a few more. If anyone happens to see any fun clips, be sure to let me know!!

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Sicilian Family Favorites

Mixing the meatballs collage blog
The week before Christmas, my Uncle Tony came to visit and we spent a good amount of time in the kitchen making one of our family favorites..... Sauce with Meatballs.

Together, my uncle and I are working on a new project that I am excited about.....
We are hoping to write and publish a cookbook of all the Sicilian recipes that have been in our family for years. These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, but they have never been compiled and written out. The way I learned to cook was by spending time in the kitchen with my Mom and my Grandma. I would watch everything they did.....and there were two things that struck me....they did not measure anything and they were not following a written recipe. They learned in the same manner that I was....watching and memorizing.

In our family, the focus of all gatherings and special events is always the food. The heart of our homes, lives in the kitchen. It is the way we grew up.....it is the Sicilian way, and it is tradition. We all want our children and grandchildren to grow up with the same traditions. We want them to learn the same recipes that we did and know all the stories that go with them, so that is really why this book has become something that my Uncle feels so passionate about.

He has more knowledge of the recipes than I do, and as you could probably guess, most of my responsibilities will be on the photography side of things.

Ingredients collage
We hope to share with everyone the recipes the way my grandparents made them, then we will explain some of the shortcuts or tweaks we have made over the years and maybe even list some of our favorite ingredients and store brands. We also want to tell some of the family stories we hold very close to our hearts.

Adding Tomatoes BLOG
I had mentioned the other day that Nick is already showing signs that his Sicilian roots run deep as he is the newest "foodie" in the house. He was right there next to Uncle Tony every step of the way as we prepared our pot of sauce with meatballs. I know Uncle Tony was just as proud as I was to see him so interested in everything we were doing. He was also the first one to offer to taste test:)

Sauce Collage
There are a few little things that we may do differently than most when it comes to our meatball recipe. One is the type of meat we use. We actually use three; beef, pork, and veal. The other is that we do not fry or bake our meatballs, we cook them right in the pot of sauce. Trust me, you will never have a meatball that is more tender than these. They melt in your mouth..... you will think you have died and gone to heaven..... they are THAT GOOD!!!

Olive Oil(Extra Virgin)
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cooking Onion
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
2 28oz Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
1 28oz Can of Peeled Tomatoes
Pinch of Sugar
2 tsp of Salt(Kosher)
1 tsp of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
12 Basil Leaves

Use enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and stir for about a minute or two, but be careful not to burn it. Next, add the can of tomato paste and combine it with the onion and garlic mixture. Then, add the 2 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes, 1 Can of Peeled Tomatoes, Pinch of Sugar, Salt, Black Pepper, and Basil. Simmer it so that all of the ingredients will marry together. Usually for at least an hour.
Helpful Hint: We usually empty the can of Peeled Whole Tomatoes into a bowl and go through and cut off the ends/remaining stems. We also crush them by hand to get rid of any excess seeds that we don't want to go into the sauce.

1 lb of Ground Beef
1/2 lb of Veal
1/2 lb of Pork
1 Egg
1/2 Cup of Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup of Locatelli Romano Cheese
1 tsp of Salt
1/2 tsp of Pepper
2/3 Cup of Red Sauce

Put the three meats into a large bowl. Add the Egg, Bread Crumbs, Cheese, Salt, Pepper, and 2/3 cup of the hot sauce that is simmering. Mix by hand all the ingredients until combined, but be careful you don't over mix. The consistency should be very light and fluffy. Roll meatballs one at a time and carefully drop them into the pot of sauce to cook. Simmer them stirring occasionally. The longer they cook the better they are. I will leave them on for at least a few hours.

I hope that you will love this classic recipe as much as our family does.
It is one that will surely warm the heart and soul.
There will be more family favorites featured in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back.

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Happy Chinese New Year

January 23, 2012

Ragan looking at her Chinese Name Collage
Reagan definitely seems to be doing much better. We can once again see that little twinkle in her eyes that was absent earlier this week.

Looking at the lantern collage
Since her spirits have lifted, we decided to bring out her red silks.

Chopstick Collage2
Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays and family gatherings.
It symbolizes good fortune and joy.

Officially Hit the Wall CNY Collage
Red is definitely her color:)

Two Chopsticks and Two Fingers Collage
She faded pretty quickly on me, but that's okay. Even when tired, with furrowed brows, and sucking those two fingers, I think she's as cute as can be.

Tonight we are celebrating Nick's birthday with our family, so we will officially welcome the year of the Dragon, next weekend!

From our family to yours, Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!
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Sunday Snapshots - Shooting Out The Window

January 22, 2012

Each year when we get our fist snowfall, I like to take a little drive with my camera and "shoot from the window"{You can see last year's photos, HERE}. The roads were pretty awful, so I did not go too far. We live in a rural area and are always the last ones to have our roads cleared. The only advantage to this was that no one else was out there driving, so I could just stop the car, roll down the window and shoot.

I have not been converting too many photos to black and white since I said goodbye to B&W Wednesdays, but there is something about Black and White Winter photos that speaks to me, so opted to forgo color.

Old Barn Black and White Winter FRAME 9
This is a cool old farm that is about a mile from our house. I loved the big old tree and it's perfect placement between the structures.

Little Shack Frame 9
This old shack, as I am going to call it, is up the hill from our house and it is on a farm property as well. I am not sure what this old shack really is.... I have actually seen these on a few farms around here. They look like they were built to hold some sort of animal, but I am not sure. Does anyone know what they are? This one really caught my eye because it was so old and unstable looking. You can see that it is a little crooked and it looked as if the wind blew strong enough, it might crumble like matchsticks. {I had a little fun processing this by adding a little motion to the photo}

To quote one of the most legendary landscape photographers:
"A good photograph is knowing where to stand."
~Ansel Adams~

Do you think he ever sat from his car to take any of those amazing photos??

I highly doubt it, but I'm kind of lazy especially when the temps are below freezing.
Which is why, Ansel Adams, I will never be.....

Shooting The LONG ROAD2 BLOG
The last time I took a cruise with the camera was in the fall when the leaves started to change. As I had my head out the window, I noticed "The Long Road" behind me in the side view mirror. I have used this as a profile picture on Facebook, but never posted it here on the blog so I thought I would share it today since it kind of fit the theme "Shooting Out The Window".

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To see more Sunday Snapshots, head on over to my friend Stefanie's blog
Sunday Snapshot

A Little of the White Fluffy Stuff

January 21, 2012

Winter is Here To Stay BLOG
It looks like winter has officially arrived in these parts!!
We woke up to a few inches of snow this morning and it is still coming down. I believe the forecast is calling for about 8 inches, so we most likely won't be going anywhere today, which is good, because we are still trying to get Miss Reagan well.

We went back to the pediatrician yesterday, and while her oxygen levels have improved a few points over the last 5 days, he said that her lungs are still "crackling" when he listens to her chest.
So what does this mean? The nebulizer is staying for the next five days.
He feels that we might be dealing with something that is called Bronchiolitis.
As he explained it, it's caused be a viral infection in the lungs and we have to let it run it's course, but we need to watch for things such as a high fever or if her breathing starts to become more labored and we notice a lot more wheezing than we see right now.

I do think we are on our way to recovery, it is just going to take her little lungs some time to rebound from all of this. The good news is that Reagan is getting used to the nebulizer and we are not needing to fight with her as much as we did earlier in the week to take the treatments. We took the mask of the end and we are using a mouthpiece instead and that really seemed to help.

Okay, I just thought I would update everyone and let you know we are still plugging along.
Now I need to find a few more fun things for the girls to do...... we are beginning to climb the walls. Cabin fever is definitely setting in!!

To all of our China friends....

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Favorite Photo Friday - "Happy 14th Birthday Nick"

January 19, 2012

14 years ago today, I became a Mom to a beautiful baby boy.
He was born a few weeks premature, and we were not sure what to expect, but our little Nick was a fighter. To our surprise, within the first 24 hours, he was out of the NICU and in the arms of his adoring parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

It was such a special day for our family.....one that I doubt any of us will ever forget.
He was the first child, first nephew, and first grandchild.
There was more excitement in the room than you can imagine.

He ultimately became my world and in a time when my life and my health seemed to be spinning out of control, he kept me grounded and kept my spirits high. Just when I thought I could not take another day of hospitals, office visits, tests, and treatments..... I would look into the eyes of this precious little peanut and knew that I had to fight not only for myself, but for him too.

I often think back to our early days together and how scary it must have been for him as he watched me bounce in and out of the hospital while he was taken care of by my parents and close family members. He always made me proud as he handled it all with grace......

and I have to say, 14 years later, I am still that adoring proud parent!!

He is a terrific boy, with a good head on his shoulders. He has a tender heart and is very respectful to his peers and elders. In the last two years he has really come out of his shell and has become more social. He is really starting to find himself.....and passion in things such as music and food. He is the first one to come join me in the kitchen when I start to cook...... and of course, I LOVE THAT more than words can express!

Nick is growing into a wonderful young man and it is difficult to think that in just two short years he will be old enough to get behind the wheel of a car. Even though I am staring "up" at this handsome young man, it is hard for me to see him as anything but a little boy.

The years have flown by, but the memories of his baby days are fresh in my head and will always be held close to my heart.

Nick couldn't be more loved and adored by his family!
He is an all around great kid and the best big brother any girl could ask for:)

The best big brother a girl could ask for CROP BLOG
"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero."
~Marc Brown~

We love you Nick.....Happy 14th Birthday!

This picture was taken this week as Nick was trying to cheer up his sick little sis!
We head back to the pediatrician tomorrow for a recheck.
As of today, I think Payton the Panda might be finding her way into Reagan's heart.
Not nearly as many tears when she makes her appearance every four hours.
Thanks for all the advice and well wishes. They were greatly appreciated.

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Payton The Panda

January 17, 2012

Payton the Panda BLOG
Meet our newest house guest, "Payton the Panda".....
and let me tell you, she has not been welcomed with open arms.

Panda Wearing the Mask BLOG
Payton is not your ordinary adorable panda, she is actually a Nebulizer in disguise.
And even though she is as cute as can be, Reags is not diggin' her new "furry" friend.

It has been nothing but illness after illness in this house since the girls started daycare in the Fall. Reagan has had a cough that has never really gone away, at times it seems to subside, but then it comes right back. On Sunday, I noticed that the cough was starting to sound different......and not in a good way.

First thing Monday morning, I packed her up and we headed straight for the pediatrician's office.
As soon as the doctor put the stethoscope on her back, I saw the concerned look on his face.
He listened carefully for more than a few minutes and then finally took it off and said that he did not like what he heard.

They ran a few tests to check her oxygen levels and they were not where they should be. So it was decided to start her on breathing treatments immediately. They agreed to let me take her home and administer the breathing treatments there as long as I promised to bring her back in a few days to be re-evaluated.

Reags needs 4-5 treatments a day and that in itself has not been an easy task.
She is scared of the machine..... She is fine when she sees the Panda and will even play with it as long as it is in the "off mode", but the second that motor goes on and the mist starts coming out, she starts to scream, cry, and carry on.

We have tried just about everything to get her to see that there is nothing to be scared of.
This morning before her real treatment, we let her play pretend with it.

I will do it first Reagan See It Doesnt  Hurt BLOG
Sarah has been such a big help and stepped right up to show her that there was nothing to wearing this mask on your face.

See, It's Not So Bad BLOG
She agreed to give it a try..... as long as it was turned off and nothing was coming out....

Nurse Reagan BLOG
but even then, when pretending, she preferred to be the nurse and not the patient.

It is going to be a long couple of days.....
Hoping we see some improvement in Reags by Friday, when we go back to visit the doctor.

He used two words when we were in his office Monday, one being "Pneumonia" and the other was "Asthma". Neither one of these words sounds good to me.......but oh man, if it is Asthma? Payton the Panda may be more than a house guest..... she may become a member of this family.

Thank goodness I have the world's best and most understanding boss.... I am basically home all week with her to try to get her over whatever it is that is causing her lungs distress.

I will update everyone after Friday's appointment. For now, we are just praying we get our girl's lungs back in good health, quickly and painlessly.

Sunday Snapshot - "Less Is More"

January 15, 2012

Applying Lip Gloss BLOG
Was anyone just a tiny bit curious to find out what kept Reagan so occupied that she decided not to join her big sister in her liberating jump on the bed?
(if you missed Friday's post, you can read it HERE)

I was pretty surprised myself when I reached the doorway and only saw one of them up there. Usually, it is a case of "monkey see, monkey do" around here.

Lip Gloss Collage
Reags had no interest in climbing up on that bed because she was literally up to her eyeballs in lip gloss. Once I entered the room, I found her sitting in the chair with a dress up box in front of her. That box included some of Sarah's princess makeup and it obviously caught Reagan's eye.

What can I say.... I believe we have another girly girl on our hands!
She certainly loved that lip gloss and did not look to be getting bored with it anytime soon.
I tried to step in and explain to her that old lesson my Mom tried to teach me during my teeanage years.... "A little goes a long way and when it comes to make-up, Less Really is More".

Ummm... I don't really think this lesson went over all that well....

What do you mean less is more TEXT BLOG

Kissably Cute Text BLOG

Apparently, it is going to take a little more convincing to get my message across....
but that is okay because time is on our side. She won't be wearing make up for anything other than dress up anytime soon.

~Happy Sunday~

To see more Sunday Snapshots, head on over to my friend Stefanie's blog by clicking the button below
Sunday Snapshot

Favorite Photo Friday - "When She Thought No One Was Watching"

January 13, 2012

Jump Jump Jump BLOG
Mom tiptoed up the steps with camera in hand.....

Someone is feeling much better BLOG
ready to capture whatever it was causing the incessant laughter coming from Sarah's room!

Hair on End Knees In Her Chest BLOG
I watched my daughter and could almost feel the sheer bliss that was radiating from her as she bounced on her bed and flew through the air. It's always the simplest things that bring them so much joy.

As for the "sans clothes" look.....
Reagan is going through a phase of constantly taking off all of her clothes.
It is driving me bananas. Every time I turn around, she is undressed.
I redress her and she undresses again.

At first we found this quite humorous, but now we are starting to wonder if it is ever going to stop.
I joked with Pat the other night saying that she must be rebelling from all the layers they dressed her in when she lived in China.

What you can't see in this series of photos is Reagan who was sitting on the chair that is in front of the bed. So not only was Sarah up there....Reagan was too. Sarah usually will start yelling for me if Reags starts to undress.....

You know that old expression, "If you can't beat them, join them"?

I guess Sarah decided joining her sister "sans clothes" would be more fun than telling on her:))

LOL... life with these two girls is always an adventure!

~Happy Weekend Everyone~
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