The Holidays Are Here!

Christmas WonderThe holidays are already here it seems. This is an exciting one for me! The girls are bigger and their excitement radiates throughout my home.  These lucky gals get to celebrate Hanukah and Christmas all on the same week! I’m trying hard to come up with fun crafts and projects for both holidays.

DIY Bottle Cap Magnets

bottle cap junkyWe were on a hunt for a couple of quilts for the girls’ beds so we figured we’d head down to Barntique Village and see if we could find something there before paying full price at a department store. Well, it must have been my lucky day because one of the shops had just gotten a couple of quilts in which were pretty much in brand new condition and half the original price. We bought two sets! The woman at the shop was so sweet and of course we started talking. She was enjoying the girls and shared with them a bunch of bottle caps made by her grand daughter. The girls loved them! Not only did we walk out of there with two beautiful quilts but we were also inspired to go home and learn how to make our own bottle caps!

These little caps are so much fun! You can turn your crafty bottle caps into magnets, earrings, hairclips, pushpins,the possibilities are endless. But let me warn you, once you start it’s really hard to stop! We literally made about 50 bottle caps in like one day! There’s four of us so I guess that’s not as crazy as it sounds!

Along with some pretty scrap paper I also chose a couple of  family pictures that I love and printed those to use as well. These also make cute little gifts!

bottle caps

Here’s what you’ll need

Magazine clippings, scrapbook paper, photographs, newspaper, cereal box, or you can even create your own computerized images and print them out

Basic Elmer’s or Tacky glue

Epoxy Stickers for Bottle Cap Pendants, 1-Inch, Clear

Bottle Cap 50 Multi-Pack Bottle Caps

Martha Stewart Crafts Punch, 1-Inch Circle I wasn’t so crazy about this hole punch. But it was good for the price.

3/4  Inch Diameter Adhesive Magnets 54 count or backing of your choice: Clasp, hairclip, push pin etc.


Step 1:
Use your 1” hole punch to cut out circles to fit inside your bottle cap
Step 2:
Use a paintbrush to paint on Elmer’s or Tacky glue on the inside of the bottle caps. Place your circle cut out on top of the glue and press down.
Step 3:
I Placed a 1” Epoxy Sticker over the cutout to protect the image placed inside of the bottle cap. I liked the Epoxy sticker because its so quick and easy and I didn’t have to wait for it to dry. This was also easier for the kids to handle. You can also fill the inside of the cap to cover the photo or paper with Modge Podge Dimensional Magic. Simply fill the cap with the Dimensional glue and let dry for at least 24 hours.
Once your bottle caps are complete, using Gorilla glue or Tacky glue you can attach a little magnet, clasp or hair clip. You can even glue them onto a pushpin!

These make great little gifts!

How to make a mini Sukkah for Sukkot

sukkah7Since meeting my husband in 2001, one of my favorite Jewish traditions has been celebrating Sukkot.  I love the fall and this is such a beautiful way to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest even if you are not Jewish! This holiday is usually celebrated in September shortly  after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. On Sukkot, Jewish people remember their ancestors who traveled for 40 years in the dessert by building a temporary shelter called a sukkah. Families decorate their sukkah with fruits and vegetables, gourdes, leaves, twigs.

sukkah8 sukkah10

The Jewish people are expected to spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, eating meals in there and sleeping as well. It is a mitzvah (good deed) to welcome people into your sukkah, as a way for the Jews to remember the way their ancestors Abraham and Sarah welcomed people into their tent.

SukkahsukkahFor the past few years my husband has built a beautiful sukkah made out of wood (picture above was taken before we decorated it with gourdes. Not sure what happened to the after picture!) This year since he was away in Taiwan, I wanted to be able to honor the holiday by having the girls make their own mini versions of a sukkah. Granted, we can not fit inside to eat or sleep in it ourselves but its been great fun letting their little dolls and shopkin’s hang out and celebrate the harvest. There are so many ways to build a mini sukkah. I believe there are many guidelines that must be followed in the construction of a real sukkah, but I let the kids have fun with this. As long as they stuck to traditional materials, and understood the true use of a sukkah I gave them all creative freedom. You can use a shoe box, card board or purchase Styrofoam or use any pieces of scrap wood laying around to build the sukkahs structure. Go hunting for natural materials in your yard to help decorate the top and around your mini sukkah such as leaves, twigs, and acorns. I was also able to find little mini, super tiny, decorative pumpkins in the artificial flower section of Michael’s. You can use tiny gourdes if you can find any small enough! We also used colored paper to cut out little veggies and fruits. The kids absolutely loved creating their very own sukkahs!

harvestMaterials we used to build our sukkahs

  • Shoe Box
  • Acrylic paint (to paint the boxes)
  • Colored paper to cut out fruits and vegetables
  • Inexpensive artificial fall leaves and mini pumpkins from Michaels Craft store.
  • glue dots or tape
  • Twigs
  • String
  • Mini wooden bench and table from Michaels Craft store.

The possibilities are endless! Prepare your structure (sukkah) by painting or using craft paper to decorate the walls. You can leave them plain if you wish. Using glue dots and tape decorate the outer part of your sukkah with your collection of harvest, twigs etc. Add a little table or chairs inside your little sukkah. You can place mini play food on the table and prepare a yummy harvest feast for your little dolls. Happy Sukkot.

Tomato Sauce Making Season

Sauce SeasonIt 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.

NonnoThis 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.

fresh tomato's Tomato Chopped Tomato pot Tomato sift tomato boil tomato cannedThis 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.

Tomato's past

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.




Little Acorns at the Longwood Estate

Longwood estate copy

If you are local to the Brookhaven area (Ridge, Shirley, Mastic Beach), then this is a really cute class for you and your Pre-Schooler. My two little ones and I have participated in this class before and we really enjoyed it! The grounds are absolutely beautiful! What I loved most about this class was that after it ended we could just head outdoors and have a picnic, take a nice walk, or let the girls ride their bikes. There are enough other fun things to do to make an afternoon out of it.

The class takes place right inside of the Longwood Estate (it’s so cozy, especially in the fall). This is definitely a great way to start the morning with the little ones!


DIY Ziploc Beach Bag


If my Isabel could, she would Duct tape our entire home! She’s so creative and so inspiring! She’s constantly taking my Ziploc bags, for all kinds of uses, until I literally run out of them! Grrrr!!! Makes me so crazy sometimes! But this time, she really caught my attention and I was really loving what she used them for. She made her own waterproof beach bag using a roll of Duct tape and a gallon sized Ziploc bag! So simple and so clever! I’m sure there’s many of you who’ve done this before but I’ve honestly never even thought to do this myself. I’ve always wished Ziploc bags were prettier and this is a great and inexpensive way to make a storage bag look wonderful. And it’s so durable and strong. She literally uses it every time we go to the beach or the pool which has been pretty much the entire summer. It fits her change of clothes, a hairbrush, her sunblock and a book. Even the strap has held up!


supplies duct1In order to make your own, all you need is some Duct tape and a gallon sized Ziploc bag (or a smaller one depending on what you’d like to use it for). She made me a little one that I can put in my pocketbook to carry band aids and Tylenol, etc. All you do is take the roll of Duct tape and start from the top and cover the Ziploc with one strip of tape, going around the front and back of the bag (unless you want to use a different pattern on the back). Let a little piece hang over so you can fold it over. Overlap each subsequent piece by about 1/8”. It should take about 6 strips for a one-gallon bag. These are great for storing sunblock, phones, books, diapers and wipes. They are great for the beach all also fun for everyday use! If you’d like to add on a strap, cut a piece of Duct tape to the length you’d like, fold it (long way) one third of the way, then fold it again the last third and…whallah…you have a strap! Bend it, and using a piece of Duct tape, attach each side to the bag. You could also substitute hot glue as your holding method, but the Duct tape holds up surprisingly well!


Heaven is lucky to have you

gabrielIt’s been a whole year since your wings carried you straight to heaven. I got to carry you for 18 weeks, and get to love you for the rest of my life.

We think of you

dream of you

wonder about you

celebrate you

laugh with you

cry for you

wish for you

hope for you

get inspired by you

love you

every single day.



splash breathe water girlThere was a time when all three of my girls had some type of floating device on when getting into our pool. Getting them ready was an exhausting feat…. bathing suits on, apply sunblock, put on life vests, arm floats, tubes, noodles around the tubes, etc. Only for them to get into the pool and declare that they wanted to be held. So envision one child with arm floats sitting on the pool ladder, and the two little ones hanging on to either me or my husband, screaming to not let go of them. There was definitely no swimming in sight for either my husband or I, just floating three kids around the pool. It was definitely a delight to see them splash and move their little legs around, and watch their little faces get startled when water would splash on them, but it just felt like my husband and I would never, ever have a relaxing pool day again! But fast forward and now we have three little Mermaids, a bin filled with arm floats that are no longer needed. Now, they run and get their own bathing suits on, spray each other with sunblock, put on their goggles and jump right into the pool. I was actually sad when I took out the stash of arm floats and vests and even my littlest said she didn’t need them! For me, it meant no more water babies and that made me a little nostalgic, but that was quickly replaced by loud giggles and splashes, and now instead of “hold me,” “hold me,” “hold me,” it’s “watch me flip,” “watch me jump,” “watch me do a hand stand.” It’s nice to sit back and watch and take pictures! Sometimes I can even sip a smoothie or even make a phone call while floating in the pool!

water goggles swim

swimmerwater walk







lonely float


Thank You Teachers!

thanksthank youWhere would we all be without teachers? Some of us are blessed to be surrounded by teachers, not just at school but outside of school too. Regular people who take the time to stop and teach us something new, like cooking or sewing or how to play a game of chess. How to skip a rock or cut and paste a collage. We all have the opportunity to be great teachers, to make an impact on others.

Thank god for the teachers who chose to go to work in our schools everyday to teach our children. It takes great patience, preparation, love, dedication and great care to teach an entire classroom of children. A classroom filled with different backgrounds, ideas, rules, home foundations. Every year a teacher starts first by becoming familiar with new personalities, new challenges, and getting the attention of a classroom 25 plus kids. By the time the year ends they’ve created a new family only to have to say goodbye and start all over again. That’s got to be difficult!

At the end of the day, a  great teacher gets carried into our children’s hearts. They become the main discussion at the dinner table. They get introduced to siblings and families. A great teacher can influence a child to try Turkey at Thanksgiving dinner even if you tried convincing them for years.  A great teacher gently encourages a cautious child to stand in front of a classroom to do calendar until they finally get the courage to do it.  A great teacher creates a timeline of when mommy comes back for the preschool-er who cries everyday. A great teacher brings out the best in the restless child, courage in the shy child, and a voice in the quiet child. A great teacher does more than just teach our children math and reading skills, they inspire, they mold and help our children grow. They add layers to the sometimes bumpy foundation we’ve laid down for them at home. They become part of our life, our story, our family. They inspire us to be teachers.

To all of our teachers, past and present…Thank You!

Happy Father’s Day

Fathers DayThanks to our dad, who made our house a home, built the beds we sleep on, the bathroom we bathe in, the patio we sit on, the nook we read in, the desks we study on, the floors we took our first steps on. Thank you dad, for building our foundation, for fixing our world when things start to break down, for being our pillar, our strength, our safety net, our man! Happy father’s day dad!