Can’t believe the holidays are almost over. It feels like we just went out to look for the perfect tree and now the days are quickly approaching where it’s time to put it all away. We have had a blessed, happy, healthy, fulfilling 2018. Nothing big happened (maybe something in 2019) but every day had it’s own special moment with lots of little celebrations in between and little personal accomplishments here and there. Our chickens were the biggest addition to our family and the excitement of finding an egg in the coop never gets old. We’ve been in our new home for a year and half now and we love it more and more each day. The kids have adjusted well and we look forward to making lots of memories here. I’m excited for the new year to begin. I love a fresh start, an excuse to reinvent myself and things around me. I’m hoping to find more time for creativity and to write in this space right here. Happy 2019!
A few months ago I asked Lia what she wanted to be when she grew up and she quickly responded “I want to be happy.” What a wise little girl! I can’t imagine a better answer. All I want is for all of my children to grow up and be happy. Whatever they choose to do or be, happiness is the top requirement.
Our little ladies have begun to lay eggs (an egg)! Not these little ladies!
These little ladies!We think it was Minnie, lias chicken, the biggest of all four girls. She’s been acting strange after she roosts herself for the evening, sitting at the edge of the front door of the coop. Usually she’s tucked all the way in the corner, but these past three days she’s been sitting with her body half in the coop and her head out almost like she’s on the lookout for something. My husband said that he thought she was getting ready to lay her first egg and he was right.
Waiting for the hens to lay an egg was almost like waiting for the arrival of my own children, it felt like it was never going to happen! The feeling of opening up the coop and finding that egg was so exciting! I wanted to share it with the entire world and I did share it with all of my friends and family, like a birth announcement! Reaction was a little different than announcing a newborn baby! Everyone started telling me how they liked their egg cooked!
when I noticed the egg I quickly ran into the house and told the girls “we got an egg!” I let Lia have the honors of taking the egg out because we all agree it’s from her girl! There was another cracked egg in the coop which we believe could have been from yesterday. So technically she must have laid her first egg yesterday!
We celebrated our “baby” , Lias 7th birthday this past June. One of the activities that our young guests got to participate in was making these awesome red, white and blue shirts. These shirts were so easy and so inexpensive to make. I found white shirts at Michaels for $2.99 and picked up some red, white and blue acrylic paint. I also purchased foam stars to use as stamps. I simply hot glued a tooth pick to the flat part of the stars which made it easy to stamp onto the shirts. The kids used blue painters tape to add strips onto the shirts, and some of the kids stamped on red and blue handprints. I laid the shirts out in the hot sun and once they were dried I cut some of the sleeves off and added fringes to all of them. The kids loved the shirts and have been wearing them throughout our summer festivities, including the Fourth of July of course!
Another great summer is coming to an end. That’s just the cycle of life, everything comes to an end and then we hope and wait for it to begin all over again. I can’t believe how much these little ladies are growing, I think to myself, next summer they’ll be so different, bigger, wiser, will they still play with their little barbies and be obsessed with their little LOL dolls? Will their cute little summer clothes fit them next year? Will they still follow me around the house like three little ducks? Everything is a cycle, and yes, summer will come again but there will be change too. I’m saying goodbye to summer knowing that it will come again but these little girls will have shed some skin and have grown in personality and awareness. Of course change is good too but I’m hoping that they will not change too much too fast!
In a world of constant change I’m grateful for the seasons, for the predictability that they give my heart. As I put their bathing suits away I am sad to say good by to the girls of summer 2017 but I know summer will make its appearance again, and that gives me comfort. Their bathing suit size and interests might change, but I know we have many summers to look forward to together.
One of my guilty pleasures is antiquing! Actually, I can’t say I feel guilty about it since most of the time I’m just browsing and admiring. However my most favorite and treasured finds have been from antique and consignment shops.
I love looking through old items once used and cherished by another human being. A human being that once walked this earth and may not even be here any more. The items become like orphans, waiting for a new home. Imagine how many orphaned items there are in this world. Sitting on a shelf, waiting to find a new home. (Of course an even sadder thought is how many orphaned children there are in this world.)
What actually does make me feel guilty is shopping in major department stores purchasing new items when I know if I took the time I could find something used and less expensive in a consignment or antique shop! Walking around one also brings back memories of items that I would have found in my grandmothers home or in one of my aunts home as a child. Most of these people are gone from my life, but when I enter an antique shop, I’ll spot plates and bowls or curtains that bring me right back to long forgotten days spent with loved ones. It’s similar to how a certain smell can bring you back to a long lost memory. Items too can spark up old cherished memories. Or perhaps I gravitate towards items that maybe I owned in a previous life, hmmmm. Who knows right? How interesting is that? Makes me just want to walk through an antique shop right now and wonder about each object. Who owned it? Did I own it once before, is that why I feel so connected to it? My newest discovery is a sweet little shop called Twice Around. I’m absolutely in love with this little gem. The place is neatly filled with used home furnishings and decor for the inside and outside of your home. Everything is set up delicately throughout the store. You can find current items and vintage items.
It’s a real treat to walk through the organized space inside and out. I found several pieces for our new home. I’m just not sure where to place them just yet. It’s funny but I wait for things to truly speak to me, I don’t always know exactly where I’m going to put them. All I know is that they belong in my home and I will find the perfect spot for them in time! Upon entering the store, I fell in love with this beautiful basket!
One can never have too many! I might either use this to store my potatoes in my kitchen, maybe as a little trash can under my desk. Not sure yet, but all I know is that it’s a great addition to my home! I also immediately fell in love with this double handled vase.
I don’t have many display pieces in my new home and thought this would fit lovely on any surface. Perhaps on the fireplace mantle, or on a kitchen shelf. Maybe on my night stand. I don’t know yet, but all I know is that I loved it and had to have it.
I’m actually pretty excited that Hanukah will continue well after Christmas is over. Although the two holidays begin on the same night we still have 7 days of Hanukah left after the Christmas celebration is over. Being Catholic, Hanukah is still one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with my husband and children. This beautiful festival of lights, is a quiet, peaceful holiday, filled with candles burning bright and the aroma of sweet sufganiyot (also known as hanukkah donuts), cottage cheese latkas, potato latkas, delicious soups and of course yummy gelt.
One of my best friends from Kindergarten sent my girls this beautiful wooden advent calendar from KidKraft. The kids have been so excited each day to open one window and find a little surprise awaits them while counting down the days until Christmas. I wanted to find something as exciting for them to do for each night of Hanukah. I found this simple DIY Dreidel template from FamilyFun magazine. I simply printed it out, cut it and used it as a template to make 8 paper dreidels. I happen to have a large selection of srapbook paper and simply picked papers with blues and gold tones. I placed the template over the paper that I chose and traced the pattern onto it. I then cut it out and folded the tabs and taped all of the side’s together. My intention is to fill each one with a special surprise for each of the girls like a little trinket, or a note mentioning a special event we can do for the evening , or a hint to where their presents await them. I’m definitely filling one with gelt and requesting a night of spin the dreidel. Happy Hanukah!
It is my favorite time of year at my mom’s house. It’s a scene that has played itself out for generations in my family – from Sicily, to Brooklyn, to Long Island. The intoxicating aroma of tomato’s cooking with a handful of basil fills the air with pure bliss. Jars waiting to be filled…table cloths covered with hundreds of tomatoes drying in the afternoon sun…my little girls in the aprons that Nonna made wait excitedly in anticipation of getting their little hands involved in every bit of the sauce making process.
This year is very different as my dad is not here to oversee the process with his watchful eye, but this tradition keeps him alive in my heart. I can still see him cleaning and chopping the tomatoes, getting them ready to add to the giant pot that sits outside on a burner. His distinguished white hair, soft Sicilian kissed skin, standing under the large umbrella looking over the long table filled with luscious, ripe tomatoes. He’s calm, taking his time, treating each tomato as though it’s the only one as my mom runs around chaotically preparing everything else that goes into making a delicious jar of sauce. With everything he did in his life, he always enjoyed the journey, never rushing to get to the destination. He made the best of every moment of his almost 95 years. Last year was the final time my dad would be here during this wonderful sauce making tradition, but it was different too. He was already beginning his 8 month journey to heaven. Lucky for him, the bed that he laid in was positioned directly under the window where the boiling pot of tomato’s sit just outside his room. I’d go in and out of the house asking him if he could smell the delicious aroma. He’d smile and say “yes, bahhhhhhh…so wonderful.” I know my dad was able to close his eyes and be right there with us, making the sauce together outside. He didn’t show any sadness. To me it seemed as though he had his fill of enjoying the process and now it was my turn.
This is a family tradition for us. My parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews all look forward to this day every year. My girls have been part of the sauce making festivities since they were weee little babies. In the past they were on my hip or taking a nice summer nap in their stroller. As they grew older they would help clean the tomatoes while playing with them. This year though, they were all hands on. At one point there was nothing for me to do as my kids had completely taken over the process. While I missed doing some of the steps, it was quite satisfying just sitting back and watching my own kids go through the process – yet another generation adopting the old world traditions kept alive by my parents, and their parents before them.
We don’t jar 1 or 2 bottles! We make the tomato sauce on a large scale, some years canning over 200 jars of tomato sauce but this can certainly be done on a smaller scale with fresh grown tomato from your own yard if you choose.
Here’s the process:
- We use plum tomatoes (usually between 5 and 6 bushels) purchased from our local farm stands.
- Usually the end of August or beginning of September is when the tomatoes are ready for saucing.
- The mason jars need to be thoroughly washed and dried completely.
- Wash and dry the tomato’s (we wash them outside in big plastic tubs and then lay them out in the hot sun to dry).
- Using a small knife, cut the tomatoes into fours and then squash them in a large pot with your hands (my kids love this part).
- Add chopped onions.
- Bring to a boil (if your using an enormous outdoor pot like ours this process can take up to 2 hours).
- Pass tomatoes through Electric Tomato Strainer (This machine helps separate the tomato’s skin and seeds from the juice and pulp quickly)
- Return pureed sauce back to pot.
- Bring to a boil once again.
- Add basil and salt to taste.
- Scoop sauce into mason jars using a funnel to help the process along.
- Lid the jars and store at room temperature until ready to be eaten.
This year, I think we did my father proud! He wasn’t here in person, but his memory was stirred up by every red tomato we cut, every single stir of the sauce, every jar we filled, and every lid we turned. He was here.