Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Message of March 25, 2009

“Dear children! In this time of spring, when everything is awakening from the winter sleep, you also awaken your souls with prayer so that they may be ready to receive the light of the risen Jesus. Little children, may He draw you closer to His Heart so that you may become open to eternal life. I pray for you and intercede before the Most High for your sincere conversion. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Whole Grain Rotini with Roasted Tomatoes and French Bread

Mmmmmm. Just had to post about our favorite pasta sauce ever in case anyone wants to try it. It's so EASY and so FRESH which is why we love it. Vine ripened tomatoes were on sale this week so I simply couldn't help myself. This dish is really best served in the summertime when the local tomatoes are abundant, but it still measured up quite nice tonight, according to the hubby. I never use measurements so all quantities are approximate. OK, ready, steady, cook it!

1/2 lb Whole Grain Rotini (we like Barilla Plus)
6 Fresh Tomatoes (Vine Ripened, Roma, or Plum)
Few Cloves fresh garlic (Yes, it has to be fresh)
Salt, Pepper

Roast or saute tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper until very soft and mushy. Then puree and toss with cooked pasta. I usually add some reserved cooking water from the pasta (a special touch I learned from both my friend Fran and Giada on the Food Channel). Top with lots of grated pecorino romano cheese because this really seals the deal. Serve alongside freshly baked bread and a nice green salad (which I forgot to put out because we were so preoccupied with our carbs tonight - oooops :))

My sister in law, Dottie, gave me a Walmart gift card a few years ago for Christmas so that I could purchase a breadmaker which we are really getting a lot of use out of these days. The only thing better than biting into a piece of freshly baked bread with melted butter is the smell that infuses your home while the bread is baking. We usually make whole grain breads but my friend, Regina, convinced me to just go ahead and make the french bread tonight. Regina and I are cohorts in tracking down and implementing more nourishing and frugal meal ideas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Veggie Tales

This is a great "lesson plan" for identification, colors, and sensory exploration. This idea worked great for Bella at 19 months and kept her interested for approximately 15-20 minutes. I had to get a pot of soup going for dinner tonight at Sue's home. Rather than clean and chop veggies standing at the counter, which completely excludes a child's line of sight, we worked together at the table, using the time as an opportunity to identify and explore veggies.

1. Make sure to clean child's hand very well before allowing them to handle the veggies.
2. Allow for several minutes of self-directed exploration (expecting them to want to hold and explore all of the veggies with their hands).
3. As child selects a veggie, identify the veggie by name encouraging the child to repeat the name.
4. Encourage child to smell the veggie.
5. Identify item's color.
*Careful not to talk too much - you don't want to ruin the fun - they are doing a ton of learning on their own!
6. Ask child, "Where is the carrot?" and so on, responding favorably to correct identification, i.e. "Yes - you got it - that's the carrot. Provide assistance if necessary.
7. As you chop veggies, pass some to the child, who may want to taste. Thick celery and carrot sticks make great teething objects. Use your discretion for what might be a choking hazard for your tot.

Variations for older children. (The variations are really endless, but here are some ideas for older pre-schoolers).
Have them sort veggies by color.
Blindfold willing children and have them try to guess the item by using senses other than sight.
Veggie Fear Factor for older children who are willing to taste some extraordinary types of veggies.
Let children talk about the ways they like to eat certain veggies.
Dinner challenge. Brainstorm ideas of how to incorporate all the veggies into the next family meal (i.e. soup, ratatouille, breads, etc).
Slice veggies in half and have child stick in paint and make "veggie prints".
If you have your own garden, the learning is endless. (I hope to get some ideas from my hubby's family next week on what I can do on my townhouse patio)!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Samantha!

Our cousin, Samantha, celebrated her birthday this weekend with a big family bash on Saturday evening. Her parents, Karen and Sal rented out their Church rec center which boasted a full court indoor gym. Let's just say that the gym kept the toddlers to the adults (and everyone in between) totally entertained for the entire time. Sal owns a deli so he and his parents catered all of the food for the party which was indeed delicious (lasagna, eggplant, broccoli rabe, chicken marsala, meatballs, sausage). My husband owns a music store which is very cool but I'd imagine that having daddy bringing home dinner from the deli every so often might be even cooler! Grandma Sacco made her famous sour cream cake which brought smiles to the faces of everyone at our table. No one else dares to make this cake because you simply know that it will never come out as good as Grandma's. It is simply her trademark. Moving on from such indulgences...

Bella got to hang out with Aunt Lindsay who she really adores. And while Bella was literally running Grandma and Papa up and down the basketball court and up and down the bleachers, Dave and I got to shoot some hoops and visit with some other party attendees. We had a fabulous time. Wishing Samantha a very happy birthday.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

1st Annual Hackettstown Parade

Yeah, we had a blast at today's parade. Dave and Isabella marched with the Knights of Columbus and got their photo taken by a local journalist. Maybe you will catch them in one of the NJ papers. Lots of folks turned out for the parade and we enjoyed the bag pipes, step dancing, and neat looking cars. After the parade we headed over to a local restaurant for some food and drink with 3 other family friends. So I couldn't find a Harp but I did find a Yuengling which is equally as good. We can't wait for next year. What do you think of our festive attire, especially Bella. She loves her shamrocks :) Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

Helping Hands

Bella has a story book about making pizza which she loves to read and she has been asking for pizza for the past few days. Grandma and Papa brought us a fresh mozzarella from Laraia's cheese shop in NY so what better use than to use it for pizza?! We decided to make it this weekend and it was indeed delicious. We made a soaked whole wheat crust (Lindsay's recipe from www.passionatehomaking.com - read more on her website about the benefits of soaking your grains. The short story is that soaking grains makes them way more digestible so that your body can better assimilate all of the nutrients from them. If you want the science behind it, visit Lindsay's website.) I love kneading dough because it works off tension and there is nothing like making your own dough from scratch - it feels like quite the accomplishment!

Bella's part was to help with the toppings which she thoroughly enjoyed - fresh mozzarella, red and green bell peppers, olives, and fresh basil. She really did a great job with no mess and just needed some direction in where to place the toppings (otherwise they would have been in one big pile).

Needless to say, she was so excited to eat it and devoured 2 helpings including the veggies. As so many moms will attest, involve your children in the food preparation and they will be more likely to try what they have helped to create and they will also feel SO GOOD about themselves. Check out our finished pizza. The house smells delicious and I may just have to hit the fridge for a leftover slice!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Luck of the Irish

Our camera has been inoperable for the past few weeks, but Dave just got it up and running again this morning. So.......we finally have some new pictures of Bella to share, which is the real reason why you visit this blog anyway. Bella had a nice visit with Grandma and Papa today as they came out our way for a pre St. Patrick's Day visit. Dave came home early from work and we all had a really nice afternoon together. This was my second time at making corned beef and cabbage and my father, the true Irishman that he is, ate it with gusto. My mom even had some and Dave had seconds so it seems it went over pretty well. My mom made a very chocolate-icious cake that we all seemed to have room for at the end of the afternoon. Bella has been cutting some new teeth the past few days and hasn't had much of an appetite. But her visit with Grandma and Papa surely cheered her up as did the time she got to spend with Dave, who has been working a ton of hours lately. Bella visited the park with Papa and shared her extensive jewelry collection with Grandma comprised of many $1 clearance items purchased at Kohl's.

We hope to enjoy a relaxing weekend together, which includes going out for Hackettstown's first ever St. Patrick's Day parade. This is a big event for this town and we can't wait to participate in it with our friends and their little ones. Dave will be marching with the Knights of Columbus and one of us will be 'wearing' Bella in the Ergo. (I'm secretly hoping it will be Dave! And I am also secretly hoping to find a Harp on tap at one of the local venues before St. Patrick's Day week is over). The forecast is looking favorable. Pictures to follow!

In other news, Isabella's vocabulary had expanded immensely and there are simply too many words to keep track of (strawberry, raspberry, cool, car, mail, keys, snow, ice, nice, chick, pig, cow, hands, knee, slide, norning, night, milk, kiwi, park, face, nose, etc). She has been putting some words together as well. Her favorite sayings are "I got it" and "hold it". Her favorite songs currently are "the Hello song" and "Old Joe" which she also likes to sing from her music class. Papa repeatedly sings "A B C's" to her and she now sings along - the sounds that she can, that is, and I have to admit she does the tune quite well. Bella loves to eat cheese, smoothies, yogurt, homemade soups (Mama's or Grandpa's), chicken, beans, potatoes, eggs, kiwi, carrots, broccoli, pasta, Grandma's spinach pie, pancakes, and salmon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Message of February 25, 2009

"Dear children! In this time of renunciation, prayer and penance, Icall you anew: go and confess your sins so that grace may open yourhearts, and permit it to change you. Convert little children, openyourselves to God and to His plan for each of you. Thank you forhaving responded to my call."

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