Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wordless wednesday....thanksgiving 2011

good times were had by all on benny's first thanksgiving. he enjoyed goldfish crackers, turkey, stuffing and even some brussells sprouts and we enjoyed wine, laughter and each other's company. who could ask for anything more??

the one thanksgiving tradition we hold above all else (besides the turkey, obviously) is churning. we take our churning very seriously and the hands that have held tight to that handle and churned their little hearts out over the years are the hands we hold the closest in our hearts. it was ben's first year to churn and he was a rockstar. and if you've never tasted freshly churned butter? boy are you missing out!

beautiful monica and her beautiful daughter.

have i ever told you how much i love my sister in law?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Fabulousness!!!

Ladies!!! (and gents…..really, but this one is for the ladies) I am so excited today!!! A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to participate in just about the GREATEST little thing I had ever in my life heard of! One of my favorite bloggy girls Raven and her BFF Lindsey came up with this brilliant idea called the Glitz & Glam Holiday Blog Swap!

All you had to do was let them know you wanted to participate and then they matched you up randomly with another blogger to exchange a glitzy and glammy holiday prezzie with and sorry girls, but I got lucky  AGAIN and got paired up with Dana, the cutest, sweetest blogger and girls, for real, I can’t wait to get to shoppin’! This is going to be SO much fun!

So in the meantime, while I am zipping up the next installment of the stuff I am thankful for and shopping till I drop for muh boys and my Dana, go run right over to her blog and follow her so you can see the goodies when we post all about this swap on Monday, December 12th!! Seriously, SO fun!

Gobble gobble, my friends!


Monday, November 21, 2011

31 days of thankful, days 6-10

I am thankful for my Aunt Marylou and my Aunt Denise. They are my mom’s sisters and when I am with either of them, it is the closest I get to being with my mom again. the look like her, they sound like her, they talk like her, they have the same mannerisms and most importantly, they love like she did. They love me, they love Scott and they love Ben, and even though Benny will never know his Grandma Harriet, getting to know the two of them will bring him closer, and for that, I am more thankful than I could ever figure out how to say.

 I am thankful for my daisygirl. I miss her blond fur and her stinky breath and the way she would wake me up in the morning with my sock in her mouth, wagging her whole body and whining.

 I am thankful for my love of food. I know some people think it’s better to eat to live than to live to eat, but I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t find pleasure in food and joy in cooking and wasn’t creatively inspired on a trip to whole foods. What a bore. I love everything about food, the taste, the smell, the texture, the process, the art. I love how it brings people together and nourishes us, how it comforts us when we’re sad, or lonely or homesick. How it brings back memories and connects us to our past like nothing else can. I could do without the havoc it wreaks on my thighs, but it’s delicious, and I am thankful that I appreciate it.

I am thankful for wine. Need I say more? puligny montrachet, mostly, but I’m not too proud. Give me a cheapy bottle of barefoot cab, and I’ll still be your best friend.

 I am thankful for this blog and the beautiful people I have met because I decided to start writing it. I'm also thankful for the beautiful people who hardly know i exist, whose blogs i read and am touched by every day. The blogging community amazes me and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon it, lucky to find inspiration in it, honored to read the stories and see the pictures of so many beautiful and creative people who also share their lives on this here little internet thingy.


Friday, November 18, 2011

31 days of thankful, days 1-5

 I am thankful for my little boy, my miracle baby of superman strength who fought to be mine against all odds and who is, without question, the reason I was born. I am thankful for him with an immensity that defies words. He is every beat of my heart and I am brought to my knees with humility that I am lucky enough to call him mine.

 I am thankful for my husband, my partner in crime, who makes me laugh, and makes me think and holds me up when I am completely unable to hold myself, and who, for whatever unknown reason, continues to love me through my insanity, and depression, and thanklessness and self pity. He still loves me. and when we dance in the kitchen and he looks down at me, ragged and broken with unplucked eyebrows and disheveled hair, and gives me a kiss and calls me his bear, and looks at me with hearts in his eyes, I cry, because he deserves so much better than me, but also because I am so thankful that he decides every day that it’s me he wants to dance with in the kitchen.

 I am thankful for every single second of the 32 years I was blessed enough to spend on this earth with my mom. She was the love of my heart and the yin to my yang and I will never feel whole again, but in a strange way, I am ok with that because that missing piece of me is just her shape and size (which would be tiny and perfect with curly hair and the most perfect nose you’ve ever seen) and, like a tattoo, I wear it with pride that she was mine. She was my whole world.

I am thankful for my daddy. I wish he wasn’t so sad. I wish there was something I could do to save him and make him happy again, take away his troubles and make him feel some light. It breaks my heart deeper than anything. I wish he knew how very much I love him and I wish that simply knowing that would make him happy again.

I am thankful for my best friend. I am so lucky that I was given a sister, so beautiful and selfless, generous and loving, who has stood by my side for all of this time. and I am so thankful that she married such a good man, who loves her with all of his heart and who can hug her for me when I am too far away to do it myself, even if he leaves his underpants in the bathroom sink.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

the clock on the wall has been stuck at three for days....

please tell me it's going to get better. please somebody tell me that one day, even just one. single. day before my child packs up and heads off to college leaving us with an empty nest and much less laundry, that he WILL actually sleep straight through past 3am....i need hope. i need somebody to promise me with everything they have in them that it will happen because right now? after about 2 months straight of consistent 3am wakeups, i am close to the edge.

you know that saying "i'll sleep when i'm dead"? last night i found myself lying there at approximately 3:17, eyes wide open, being crawled on and snorted at, having my hair pulled, tiny elbow to my jugular, thinking to myself how sweet it will actually be to sleep when i am dead. i don't want to say i was praying for death cuz that's all super dramatic and morose and i don't want people getting all freaked out and calling the suicide prevention hotline on me, but laying there like a zombie with my kid wide awake, climbing on my FACE, i'd be lying if i didn't admit that for a few fleeting moments, that the sleep that will come once i am dead didn't sound like...well....a dream.

and i love my boy. i love him so much that i still smile a huge, genuine smile that i can feel right down to the center of my soul once the sun comes up enough for me to actually see his goofy face beaming at me, wide eyed and bushy tailed, but i am tired. so tired. and truthfully, i don't understand. i expected the first 3 months to be rough and sleepless. hell, i'd even have given it 6....but 11? i mean, is something wrong with him? because i talked to his doctor and she didn't seem concerned, but i am. i can't live like this. i know he just got shots, and i know he has a cold, but this was going on for weeks before any of fact, he has only slept through the night for one 3 week stretch in his entire life and people? i'm scared.

please tell me it's going to get better.

hi mommy! this picture has nothing to do with me not sleeping but i’m really cute huh?
cute enough to make up for the fact that i am an 11 month old insomniac?
 no, my child. i’m sorry, but no.


Friday, November 11, 2011

my mama's sauce

so let's talk about childhood memories for a second. childhood memories and the most wonderful mama the world has ever known. my dad was always the chef of the family, and what a chef he is! i have him to thank for my adventurous palate and love of all things edible (thank him or curse him, some days i'm not sure which). i never ate the things normal kids ate like macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. i mean, i am sure i DID eat those things, but my real food memories are of the sweet and sour pork my dad used to whip up for us in our tiny apartment kitchen with the mustard yellow burlap walls and wood panneling. he had a mini deep fryer before it was cool and a wok and he would whip up this incredible, authentic, dinner comepletely from scratch that i can still taste if i close my eyes and dream about it.

no doubt about it, my dad was, and still is, an outstanding cook. he knows it, i know it, everyone knows it, and the fact that he lives 3000 miles away and i can't have his roast beef and yorkshire puddings or his apple pie every day is bullshit.

so my dad has a real talent in the kitchen, that much we've established, but my mama?? she had a few tricks up her sleeve herself, and this sauce, above any other food memories i have from when i was little, evokes so much sense memory for me that sometimes when i make it (usually after i have consumed the rest of the bottle of wine for which the recipe calls) i find myself standing at the stove with tears in my eyes. god i miss her. i miss her every minute of my every day. the first time i whipped out the yellowed notbook page where she had written this recipe, complete with her signature curly haired happy face at the end, i silently begged her to help me make it right, so afraid that it wouldn't come out the same and that i would never, ever have this sauce again.

well, my mama, as usual, came through. she watched over my shoulder every step of the way and held my hand when i poured in the wine knowing that i wouldn't know how much she meant when she wrote "LOTS OF RED WINE" unless she showed me. and by the way, when she said "lots", she wasn't messing around.

when i make it now, i don't need to beg for her help anymore, but i can always, always feel her there with me, and i know in my heart that she is sitting right there in my kitchen at the table, watching me make her sauce, having a glass of wine herself and feeling the love.

i've made this sauce for so many people i love and i have shared the recipe with the people i love who live too far away for me to make it for them and there isn't a single person who hasn't told me this wasn't the BEST sauce they have ever had. try it and let me know what you think...and if you're afraid you might not make it just right, don't worry, my mama will help you if you just ask.

My Mama's Sauce
***first things first, open the wine and pour yourself a big, fat glass of it, take a swig and carry on***
  • 4-5 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 4 links of spicy or sweet italian sausage (i use a combo of both), removed from their casings
  • 1 lb. ground beef (lean is fine)
  • 1 lb. ground pork (sometimes i just buy the meatloaf mix and dump it all in)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • about 3 large carrots, grated
  • 4-5 big cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix (i use lipton)
  • 1 can of white clam sauce (trust me)
  • 1 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes (crush the tomatoes with your hands)
  • 1 medium can of tomato puree
  • 2 small cans of tomato paste
  • 1 TBS dried oregano
  • 1TBS dreid basil (or you can use fresh, but i always use dried for this)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • "LOTS OF RED WINE" (buy a liter. you know, the one that is the size of 2 bottles? i like barefoot cabernet)
  • lots of sliced mushrooms (**see note)
brown up your bacon in a really big stock pot (i tried to use my dutch oven and ran out of room. don't be like me).
once the bacon is cooked, remove it from tthe pot and set it on paper towels. do not remove the bacon drippings from the pot.
next, brown up the rest of your meats, one type at a time, draining the fat after each type of meat and transferring to paper towels. i usually just put a bunch of paper towels in the bottom of a huge bowl and dump the meats in there on top of each other once i brown them.

once you are finished browning the meats, remove all but about 1 TBS of the drippings and add the onions and carrots to the pot to cook and soften for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

right now, your house smells AMAZING.

add the meat back to the pot followed by your whole tomatoes (crushed), puree and paste and give it a good stir. then, add the packet of onion soup mix and the can of white clam sauce. next, add your spices and your sugar, turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for about a half an hour.

now here is the fun part, after the half hour is up, take that liter of cabernet you've been sipping from (because honestly, you cannot make this sauce without drinking red wine. it's actually impossible.) and pour a whole bunch of it into your sauce. there is no exact amount other than "lots" but i have found that approximately a 750ml bottle's worth usually works best. 750ml is the size of a regular bottle of wine, btw, which i am sure you already knew, so pretty much, pour a bottle of wine in there, or half of the big one i told you to buy in the first place cuz face it, you already drank half of it anyway, and if you didn't? why are we friends?).

now stir it all up, pop the lid on and continue to let it simmer for at least an hour or two or three.....about a half hour before you are ready to eat, turn off the heat and lay at least a carton (i use two cuz i love em) of sliced mushrooms on top of the sauce, then put the lid back on. the mushrooms cook just enough from the heat of the sauce and ** no, you cannot be all "ew! i don't like mushrooms! can i leave them out??? gross!" because....well...because my mama said so. and if you DO leave the mushrooms out, i do not want to hear about it. in fact, if you don't like mushrooms, make something else. i am sad that you will miss out on this, but they really are very important. and amazing.

whenever you're ready, cook up your noodles (spaghetti, linguini and fettucini work best), top them with a TON of sauce and some grated parm if you're feeling crazy and then, go forth and make your own family memories.

p.s. it freezes awesome too! is there nothing this sauce can't do? yum!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


ok people. i had an entirely different post all lined up for today and then do you know what happened? my birchbox arrived!! do you know about birchbox? it is seriously the happiest moment of my month when my birchbox shows up in my mailbox. it is. that's sad, i agree, but we're not here to judge me today, we are here to talk about life's little pleasures and ladies? birchbox is a big one!

i've been a member for 2 months and in all honesty, my first box was just ok for me. i mean, i liked the samples, but i was expecting to be WOWED and i wasn't, so i signed in to my birchbox account and made some changes to my beauty profile and i don't know if those changes made a difference in the samples i got this month or if november is just a really cool month for samples no matter what. whatever the case, i am a happy little trying-desperately-to-find-the-glamour-girl-inside girl this morning!!!

(that glamour girl exists, by the way. i've met her and she was awesome, even though i  didn't know it at the time and i thought she was fat)

here is the deal. for $10 a month, you sign up for their service and you get this cute little box shipped right to your door that has 4-5 deluxe sized beauty samples in it that are chosen for you according to the answers in your beauty profile. when i say "deluxe size", i mean it too. honestly, i think the best part about the whole thing for me is unwrapping the box. they do it up all cute with pink tissue paper and black ribbons and you feel like you are getting a suprise gift from your really cool friend who has her finger on the pulse of beauty and really cares about presentation.

i don't know about you, but i am a sucker for a cool wrap job. everybody's got their "thing".

i got some yummy perfume that i never, never would have picked on my own, but i tried it on anyway and really liked it for fall! completely different than anything i own already and that is the point of this little service! isn't that awesome? i also got a HUGE sample of borghese fango mud mask that i can’t wait to try (has that stuff been around forever or what? why have i never tried it?), this uh-maze-ing sparkly, shimmer body cream gloss thing from LaROCCA that smells like i want to eat it full of oranges and cinnamon and yummy, festive scents. god, it is delicious and i am definitely buying the full size of that (which i get free shipping on for the whole month of november through birchbox….do the benefits ever end?)…i got some funk letterpress coasters in my fave color and also, a great, hot pink polish from zoya’s holiday collection. killer haul!

plus! my favorite thing of all in my box this month was a wood and crystal beaded bracelet that was a bonus gift they threw in for referring a friend! it's like they knew i needed some baubles for my galivanting next month! i can't handle it. birchbox, will you marry me???

if you want to sign up, you can just follow this here little linky birchbox and you will thank me every month when you are smiling from ear to ear, smelling delicious and sparkling like your inner glamour girl is begging you to!!!

**this is not a sponsored post. i have received absolutely no compensation from birchbox, and actually, i don't think they even know i exist, i just really, really love this service and thought you might dig it too**


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

wordless wednesday...reading

oh momma, this book is just so juvenile. i think i'll just throw it right down here on the floor.....

is he cute or what? god i love this little boy...

and then, she {snapped}


Monday, November 7, 2011

10 months....a little late

my sweet little boy, you're changing so much and so fast lately i just want to grab you and hold on to you with all my might and beg time to stop, just for a few minutes, while i soak up the tiny version of you before i blink and you are 6'4'' and leaving for college. you're cruising like a champ and getting in to everything. you love to crawl over to me when i'm drying my hair and just sit at my feet, playing with your bath ring until i pick you up. in fact, you're rarely satisfied if i'm around unless you are in my arms. when i'm not holding you in one spot, you pretty much look like this....

you're starting to look and act like such a grown up little boy and it breaks my heart and makes me glow with pride at the same time. you play games with us and laugh all day long at nothing and everything. you're starting to get the hang of books, you're bored with most of your toys and the only thing you really want to play with or eat is the remote control and my phone.

you've got 6 teeth. your favorite dinner is orzo with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese but you've been known to polish off a bowl of jalepeno grits too, crazy monkey. you love to fall asleep with your arms wrapped around my neck and everyday, i still know for an absolute fact, that i am the luckiest.

with every bit of my heart, little boy, i love you. you are the most amazing person i have ever known.

happy 10 months, my little love. i am sorry that your actual 10 month-day was spent in such an unpleasant way, but i am so thankful that my laughing, smiling, goofy little boy is back, getting into mischief and causing a stink. you are my heart, baby.