Archive for April, 2014

Strawberry Patch

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

image copy 21

This past weekend Michael, Jude and I jumped in the car and took a drive to Elliot Farms. Jude could eat strawberries by the bucket loads, so what better way to spend the day then picking fruit together. It was a lovely spring day! We enjoyed the outdoors, we drank in the sunshine, but most of all, we loved being together.

image copy 23     image copy 27      image copy 25

image copy 28     image copy 26     image copy 29

As a gift to our sweet strawberry loving boy, Michael helped me to make hanging planter boxes full of strawberry plants. They are growing nicely. Soon we will be making homemade strawberry ice cream and short cake!

image copy 31

Take out, IN: Lo Mein

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

image copy 7

It’s a rare treat that I get to spend the evening in my PJs lounging in front of the television, watching movies and ordering tasty takeout. I love Lo Mein. There is something about that greasy box of Chinese takeout that brings me joy.

But why not make it yourself?

Michael and I are working hard to develop a culture in our house of cooking at home and eating around the dinner table. The busier our lives gets the more were tempted to grab a bite to eat out or have something delivered. Although it takes time, eating at home can be much less expensive and so much healthier. I really enjoy the challenge of recreating some of my favorite restaurant dishes at home. Lo Mein is quick and easy to make. I also love any dish that can be made easily with a few staple ingredients and help to clean out that extra produce in the refrigerator.

Let me show you how…

Lo Mein

3/4 lb. of Spaghetti Noodles Cooked and Cooled

image copy 10


4 Tbs. Veggie Oil


Ginger and Garlic

image copy 14


1/4 cup of Soy Sauce

image copy 19


1 Tbs. Sesame Oil

image copy 20


1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper flakes (I love the heat)

image copy 13


Veggies and/or Meat

image copy 12image copy 8image copy 9image copy 11

(Pork, Chicken, Beef, Mushrooms, Peppers, Broccoli, Sugar Snap Peas, Green Onions, Bean Sprouts, Shredded Cabbage… Whatever YOU like!)

Heat the oil to scorching hot. Sauté the meat until cook through, add the vegetable. Add garlic and ginger. Next, the noodles, soy and sesame oil. Cook just until nice and hot, about 3-5 minutes. I like my veggies to have a bit of a crunch, so I  blanch them quickly before sautéing and I am sure not to overcook them. For a fun twist, I use bucatini, a thick Italian noodle with a hole running down the center. I just love watching the kiddos try to slurp up the noodles!


Sincerely yours, gratitude

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


Gratitude: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Writing a thoughtful thank you card is easy… just give it a try.

Address the giver,

Express your gratitude. Thank you for ___________. Discuss just how you will use the gift or how much the gesture meant to you. Share a special memory or something you love about the giver. Thanks again!

Sincerely Yours,



A doodle or two  will add a smile to anyones face!

Earth Day

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014


This past month, Jude and his pals at school have been learning about taking care of the earth. Much discussion around our house has been focused on recycling. After school last week, we were driving down the road and Jude had just finished drinking from a water bottle…

“Dad we have to look for a triangle on the bottle to see if it can be recycled.” He examined the bottle for a moment, discovering no triangle.

“I have an idea! Can you give me a marker so I can draw a triangle on this bottle.”

In honor of Earth day, Jude, Michael and I spent last Saturday afternoon planting several little plants for our friends.


To make our project a little more BOY friendly, we hot glued a few  toy dinosaurs to popsicle sticks. Roar!


Jude had so much fun getting his hands dirty, planting and watering these cute little succulents.


We made a mess!


We then added Jude’s signature dino sticks.


Packed up our little surprises…

photo 2 copy

And dropped them off at our friends houses (ding-dong ditch style). Jude and I patiently awaited, hoping our friends would figure out, by our dino clues, who left these little Earth Day surprises. What a fun afternoon we had!

Fun ways to be earth-friendly with your little ones:

  1. Say NO to disposable bottles: Jude takes a reusable water bottle to school each day instead of a juice box or disposable beverage.
  2. Pack a reusable shopping bag: Publix and other grocery stores have started to carry reusable shopping bags in fun themes; holidays and even Disney characters, making it fun for Jude to remind me to pack ours.
  3. Plant an herb garden. This year we have two raised bed gardens. We are growing peppers, broccoli, lettuce, calliflower, parsnips, tomatoes and herbs. Jude loves watering the plants and watching them grow.
  4. Cut down on food waste. Make smaller portions and eat your left overs! My sweet friend has wacky wednesday with her kids. Using up the leftovers from the week, each kid gets to prepare their own wacky dinner… and they love it!
  5. Share your love for green. Have an outdoor play date or  plants flowers for a friend.

Happy Earth Day friends!


Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

image copy 5

Affogato, one of my favorite words… fun to say, even better to enjoy!  In Italian, the word means “drowned.” A traditional affogato starts a scoop sweet vanilla gelato (or ice cream) which is then drowned in a shot or two of strong, rich espresso.

image copy 3  image copy 4 image copy 2

When friends stop by my home, they expect to get a great cup of coffee. Easy enough! As for me, I love dessert, just as much as my coffee! It is rare that my freezer is not stocked with a pint of my favorite coffee chocolate chip gelato, ready to be “drowned.” So when indulging unexpected guest or on the nights I just don’t have the time to bake with a busy busy 3 year old running around, this tasty treat is my go to. Affogato, coffee and dessert in one, my hero.

image copy 6

If you do not have a way to prepare espresso, a cup of double strength iced coffee, poured over a scoop of ice cream is just as delicious.



Sincerely Yours,

Monday, April 14th, 2014


Little things make me happy! Like opening the mailbox to find a handwritten letter or a thoughtful little gift from a friend. This is a tradition I want to preserve for my sweet little boy, taking pencil to paper to share our thoughts and dreams with others. Sending notes to neighbors, across states, across oceans. My grandparents are the best at sending snail mail. My grandmother would send me little love notes, share with me her daily routines, scripture, memories of my childhood or just a sweet card to let me know how much she loved me. My grandpa loves to send me newspaper clipping of funny comic strips or current events that he wants to share. When I miss my grandmother most, there is comfort in reading her words on paper and running my fingers across her beautiful handwriting, sweet memories on page.

I my world ruled by text messaging and emails, it is nice just to slow down, write a letter and anxiously await the response of a friend.

This is my challenge to YOU… to write (and mail) one letter a week. Will you join me?

Each week I will post a writing theme; a thank you card, a love note, a letter of forgiveness, the possibilities are endless. Share your photos on instagram using #flyingpaperletters. This week’s theme is EASTER!

Writing a letter takes time, takes thought, takes a loving heart.

Sincerely Yours,


How to build the perfect cheese board

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

IMG_0609        IMG_0603

There is nothing better than sharing life around the table.

I love gathering people, building community and eating together. I especially love a hands on meal where everyone can get involved, which makes a delicious bread and cheese board a favorite of mine for entertaining. Served as an appetizer or a family weeknight meal, a good cheese board really makes an evening special.

When building a bread and cheese board, choose 3-5 cheeses, a variety of hard and soft, several textures and appearances. Goat cheese, parmesan, aged sharp Irish cheddar, gouda, bleu or manchego.

Try exploring cheeses from a variety of regions; Spanish, French, or English or a particular variety of like cheeses; goat, sheep or cow’s milk. However, when serving guests, choose one familiar cheese for your guests, like a sharp aged cheddar. So many times Michael and I have taken the opportunity to buy a stinky or extremely exotic cheese, we have found favorites in these and others have made it straight to the trash. Choosing cheese can be overwhelming, so many choices, but it is all about exploring new things together and developing your own unique tastes.

Add fresh seasonal fruits like grapes, figs, berries, pears, or peaches.  I always keep dried apricots, cranberries, and a good home made preserves or fig fruit spread in the pantry as a back up. Honey crisp apples and a good sharp Irish cheddar are my favorite pair. Honey or walnuts add great texture to the meal and big, bright, green castelvetranto olives bring some additional uniqueness.


Don’t forget a loaf of good crusty bread for dipping in olive oil and balsalmic vinegar or hummus.

You can easily transform a  cheese board into a warm, hearty meal by adding vegetables and dry meats. I prefer my vegetables roasted; butternut squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots and cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place your vegetables on a small cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season veggies with course salt and black pepper, bake for 15 minutes.My go to dry meat selections include; sopressata, serrano ham, chorizo, or proscuitto.  I especially enjoy a heavily peppered salami, so spicy.

And the best part… balsamic glaze! Balsamic vinegar reduced down to a rich creamy glossy glaze adds a unique , tangy sweetness to cheese, meat or plain crusty bread.

I would recommend 1 oz. per person of each cheese (about 4 oz. per guest). Cheese should be served at room temperature to best highlight it’s flavor and texture.

There is no one rule to arranging a beautiful cheese platter, just focus on levels and color. Make it easy for friends to grab their favorites from all sides of the board and don’t be afraid to grab a second or third tray so that options are not piled high, one on top of another. For evening meals I have often arranged 3 individual  bread and cheese plates for the boys and myself, which is especially great on movie nights.

IMG_7134        IMG_8294

Enjoy making memories with your family and friends!

Legends of Chiefs and Hippies… Oh, and Lemonade!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014


If you take a drive down the magically windy roads through Garden of the Gods; beautiful red rock spires, which are backdropped by the majestic Pikes Peak (14,410 ft.) and you will find yourself in the small town of Manitou Springs, Colorado. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been enchanted by this little hippie town. I used to beg my great uncle Steve to tell me stories of Manitou in the 60s; love, happiness, of sleeping in the caverns of the Gardens and living the carefree artisan life. Still today, taking a walk down the main streets of Manitou is like stepping back in time… there never fails to be a hippie to great you with a peace sign and a big loving smile.

Since the 1870s, Native Americans, and later, hippies were drawn to Manitou seeking the healing properties of the natural mineral springs in the area. There are currently 10 of the 11 original mineral water fountains located around town. This fizzy, cool water is laced with such trace metals as iron, magnesium, and lithium, and runs free to the public. Each of these fountains possess a unique mineral combination, believed to treat different kinds of ailments. My favorite fountain, Ute Chief Spring, a bronze statue of an intriguing looking Ute Indian Chief, unfortunately not longer runs.  Next door, The Ute Chief bottling company opened in 1893, to bottle and send this “miracle,” mineral water around the world. When my grandmother was just a little girl, she drank soda, which  was naturally carbonated from the bottling plant. Michael and I had so much fun exploring the town to sip from each of these historic fountains.

IMG_1609        IMG_1445

Ute Chief Spring                                                 Shoshone Spring, 1890s

 IMG_1518        IMG_1465

Navajo Spring                                                      Cheyenne Spring House

IMG_1558        IMG_1491

7 Minute Spring, 1909                                     Stratton Spring, 1936

IMG_1655         IMG_1586

Wheeler Spring                                                    Iron Spring Geyser, 1910

IMG_1590        IMG_1527

Twin Spring, 1920s                                           Soda Spring

Folk music, mineral water and the smell of my favorite popcorn from Patsy’s all bring back memories of my childhood.

IMG_1509        image

I NEVER make a trip to Colorado with out visiting my favorite pizza dive, Maryiln Monroe’s pizza. These happy hippies sure know how to make good pie. Simple fresh ingredients and my favorite pink lemonade, made with Manitou sparkling, spring water


IMG_1504        IMG_1503

Lively eccentric personalities, an old fashioned penny arcade, fresh caramel corn and funnel cakes, make this quaint little town what many call, “The Hippie Mayberry.”

Hippie Lemonade

photo 4

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 10 lemons)

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

3 cup water sparkling mineral water (San Pellegrino will work!)


Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, you have a simple syrup! Allow syrup to cool. In a blender combine lemon juice and blackberries, puree. Strain berry mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any small seeds. In a pitcher combine berry puree and simple syrup, chill. When ready to serve, fill a 2 quart pitcher with ice, berry lemonade mixture and top with your favorite mineral water. Or store berry lemonade mixture in a mason jar and prepare by the cup.


Goldfish Pie

Friday, April 4th, 2014

photo 5

Like any 4 year old, my son Jude has quite the imagination. He also loves spending time helping in the kitchen and a few months ago he got this crazy idea….

“Mom, can we make Goldfish pie?”

“How do you make Goldfish pie buddy?”

“First, you cut the strawberries and mush them up, then you put them in a pan, then you put Goldfish on top, then you bake it, then… you eat it!”

For months Jude has asked me to make this “delicious” treat. Usually I am quick to help him satisfy his need to create, his independence and his ever growing imagination, but how was I going to help him be successful in creating this warm, cheesy, mushy strawberry experiment? Yet, little buddy continued to ask… “When are we going to make Goldfish Pie, Mom?” I had to come up with a plan. While shopping I discovered Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish and the problem was solved. So today my little boy’s dream came true as we played in the kitchen.

photo 1      photo 2 

Goldfish Pie

1 6.6 oz. package of Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish

2 tbs. melted (unsalted) butter

2 tbs. honey

the zest and juice of half an orange

1 lb. fresh strawberries

4 ramekins

First, I let Jude hull the strawberries and I chopped them. In a bowl, I allowed him to combine the strawberries, honey, orange juice, zest and stir. We put the Goldfish (reserving 1/2 cup for topping the pie) into a ziplock bag. I placed the bag on a towel, so Jude could make crumbs with a mallet. In a separate bowl combine the crumbs and butter. Divide the crumb mixture into 4 ramekins and allow your little one to pat them down, forming a crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and top with the yummy strawberry mixture. Return pies to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Garnish the pies with whole Goldfish and continue to bake 5 minutes. Allow pies to cool and top with whipped cream.

photo 5


Flying Paper Airplanes