Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lindsay's Birthday Party

On Sunday afternoon, Papa treated everyone to dinner at NJ's famous Don Pepe's restaurant in celebration of Lindsay's birthday. Isabella hadn't seen the Sullivan's in a few weeks and was thrilled to spend time with them, especially Aunt Lindsay. Everyone enjoyed the authentic Spanish cuisine. Farewell to Aunt Lindsay wo leaves on a month long business trip to Singapore tomorrow morning. We will miss her while she is away!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tis the Season for Sailing, Yard Sailing, that is

Spring is in the air, inspiring everyone to open their windows and clean out their homes! It's Yard Sale Weekend here in Hackettstown, with families on almost every street participating in this town wide event. Picking up some items at local garage sales is a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Additionally, if you are on a budget, yard sales are truly the places to scope out for some unbelievable buys. Now before you go running out to the nearest one, remember that yard sales can be a double edged sword. People get rid of items for a variety of reasons - items have been outgrown, items no longer function, folks are downsizing, folks are moving. The old adage, "One person's junk is another person's treasure" may be true in some situations, but certainly not all. Here are my tips for happy shopping:

  • Look for "classic" children's items - kitchen sets, houses, walkers, push/pull toys, books, ride on toys, shopping carts, play phones, tables and chairs, easels, desks (plastic items can be hosed down with a mild soap and left to dry in the sun, which is a natural disinfectant, this has worked great for us).

  • If you are buying children's items, ask the seller, which of these did your children enjoy the most? What age is this geared for? Can you give me a better deal if I take a few?

  • Ask yourself - Do I really need this item? Is it in decent condition? Can I get by without it? How often do I see myself using it?

  • Be chatty and interactive with the sellers, usually they just want to get rid of things, maybe they will come down on the price for you.

  • Try to scope out areas/communities/streets that are having sales, so that you just park once and can hit a bunch instead of driving around.

  • Get there early so you can get first choice.

  • Just like falling in love, the best deals usually happen when you least expect it, so just keep an eye out for signs when you are riding around on spring weekends ;)
Craigslist, Freecycle, and local consignment are also resources to use throughout the year when yard sales simply aren't in season. I have personally used Craigslist and local consignment for some purchases in the winter, although I have not found them to be great deals. My friend, Regina, is a Freecycle member and raves about this resource. Everything through Freecycle is literally free. Just make sure you are safe with pick up and drop off points, whether you use Craigslist or Freecycle.

We had lots of "steals" at last year's yard sales, with all items costing $1 or $2 dollars (including the "Country Kitchen Set" by Little Tikes) with the exception of the table and chairs set, which cost $10. We also landed a $4 coffee table, which was recently passed off to a friend. Yard sales are great ways to get out your shopping energy without breaking the budget :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Berry-licious Muffins

I had to post a picture because these muffins are just so beautiful. The berries give them a sweet pink color making them look as good as they taste. I found this recipe upon opening my Stonyfield yogurt this week and my friend, Sue, confirmed that it was indeed a good one. The recipe yielded a dozen big muffins, nice and browned on the outside and very moist on the inside. They are not too sweet which makes them perfect for breakfast or a midmorning snack. Here is the link to the recipe at Stonyfield

I substituted raspberries for the strawberries b/c that's what I had on hand and Isabella and I really enjoyed one. We left them out for Dave as a midnight snack for when he gets home for work tonight.

Patio Garden

Thank goodness for occasional early nights home from work. Dave took the lead on our patio potting project for the summer with the assistance of Isabella, the professional water pourer. I just observed, learning that you are only supposed to put a very few seeds in each pot (not the entire package!) and enjoyed watching my husband and daughter working together. Thanks to Dave's family who provided us with the squash, pepper, and green bean seeds that we ended up planting. We also have a basil plant that Isabella loves to water and smell each day. We look forward to seeing what comes of our efforts :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009 - Happy Birthday, Lindsay

Happy Birthday today to my lovely Aunt Lindsay who was there to welcome me into the world with warm smiles, soft hugs, and my first manicure. Love, Isabella Teresa

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Patio is Open

We finally got to dine outdoors this weekend and it was so refreshing. Spring is finally here, after a very long winter. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the grill is going! That's right, following some polite requests from me, and then maybe some slight nagging - ok maybe a lot of nagging - Dave grilled up 3 lbs of salmon that my friends at the fish counter hooked me up with. Needless to say, it was delicious. Baked salmon was great all winter, but nothing compares to grilled salmon in the warmer weather. We have a charcoal grill which isn't favorable, but we are law abiding citizens here in Panther Valley. Bella and I washed down the patio set while Dave masterfully prepared the fish. He even came home from work early so that we could get a head start on enjoying the weekend weather. Bella loves salmon and now grilled apple bbq salmon might just be her favorite. It's hard to say who ate the most, 3lbs of fish later...seriously, I kid you not. Anyway, outdoor dining makes for very nice family memories.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday is this Weekend!

Is there a person on this earth that can afford to miss out on this most generous grace that Christ is giving away for free??????????????????????????????????????

If not for yourself, offer up these special graces for a deceased loved one or souls in Purgatory, who are no longer able to make use of such graces and who rely entirely on our prayers for their behalf.

Jesus Himself , as revealed to Saint Faustina, promised many graces to those who celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. On April 30, 2000, the day of Saint Faustina's cannonization, Pope John Paul II declared the second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the world. In her diary, Saint Faustina reveals the graces Christ promises to mankind on this day,

"I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy (1109)."

Many parishes celebrate this Feast day with confession, prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet(, and Holy Mass.

The Chaplet, especially, is a prayer Jesus instructed Saint Faustina to pray constantly, promising,

"Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you (1541). Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death (687). When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior (1541). Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this Chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy (687). I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy (687). Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will. (1731)"

Pray the Chaplet on ordinary Rosary beads, whenever you think of it (driving, cooking, falling asleep, waking up, putting your child to sleep, visiting the sick, during Communion, upon entering Mass, after confession, passing a cemetary, passing a funeral home or procession).

Offer it for:

deceased loved ones

souls in Purgatory

conversion of hearts

the sick and dying

those who will die today

souls of little childrenj

for Mary's intentions

for the Holy Father's intentions

Ask for Saint Faustina to intercede before your prayer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Sunday

We celebrated Easter Sunday at Grandma's and Papa's house. Bella was busy with her older cousins, Samantha and Luke, who gave her lots of attention and were constantly looking out for her. They even ensured that she got a fair share of eggs in the Easter egg hunt. How nice is that! We enjoyed Aunt Barb's manicotti, Grandma's artichoke quiche, and Karen's cheesecake - all of our favorite traditional Easter foods. We also got to drop in for a very quick visit with Fran and Grace who had special baskets for Bella. In addition to the fun egg hunt, we even played around with a very neat parachute that the kids really seemed to enjoy. I have to look up some other parachute activities that we can use it for as it will be the perfect addition to picnics and visits to the park. Hope everyone had a joyful Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jesus Christ is Risen Today!

"They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus...He is not here, but he has been raised...the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

Luke 24: 2-7

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Isabella's Musical Debut at Hollyridge Farm

Isabella had her first musical debut ever at Hollyridge Farm last week in conjunction with her father and renowned trumpeteer, David White. She received an exciting applause from her extensive audience consisting of her mommy, Pop-Pop, and Mom-Mom.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holly Ridge Farm

We recently took our annual Spring trip to Maryland to visit with the White family. Isabella had a nice little reunion with her Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop, warming up to the new surroundings very quickly. She especially enjoyed all of their beautiful Spring flowers in their Greenhouse, lounging around with Pop-Pop in his very official Pop-Pop chair, and chowing down on the vegetable soup that Mom-Mom prepared especially for her. Aunt Sue even came by for a visit with her furry friend, Riley, who Isabella made certain that everyone knew he was indeed a "doggie". We had lots of time to relax and to explore the 20+ acre Holly Ridge Farm including the swinging bench and the pond. Mom-Mom made lots of delicious food for everyone, especially Maryland favorites, such as crab cakes and steamed shrimp. My husband did get one extra special meal that I just had to take a picture of - a German apple pancake made completely from scratch with Mom-Mom's homemade apple sauce on top. Imagine starting your day like that? And get this, what shocked me even more than the pancake was the fact that Mom-Mom gets her pastured organic eggs for 50 cents a dozen, due to her local connections. That's right - 50 cents. She may have to leave a comment to confirm this never seen before deal. Oh, and I came back completely equipped to do my own patio tomatoes this year, thanks to my Holly Ridge Farm connections. And my dear friend, Sue, just told me that she is going to give me a tomato plant because she just started a bunch last week. So, now let's talk recipe ideas for tomato and basil because I just may live off of them this summer, just me of course. I can prepare some other items for Dave and Bella. Anyone that knows me knows that I completely adore the combination of fresh tomatoes and basil. Let's hear your ideas for tomatoes and basil!
I do have to report to that the 5 hour trip down and back was completely smooth.
Here are my tips on successful travel with a teething toddler.
*Ice, Ice, and more Ice (rest stops supply the perfectly crushed version)
*cheesey, silly singing by mommy and daddy
*those oatmeal cookies that I just posted the recipe for
*good snacks (grapes, cheese, apples, crackers) for everyone
*scheduling travel to coincide with nap time
*stopping every couple of hours for ample stretching and unrestricted movement
*stopping for a hot meal at the mid-way point to renew energy and spirits

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Meditation for Good Friday

Here is a link for meditation on this most solemn day of our Lord's Passion. This publication, dictated by Christ himself to stigmatist, Catalina Rivas, has received the Imprimatur. May it draw all of us closer to His Sacred Heart.

*Imprimatur is Latin for "let it be printed." When a Catholic Bishop grants his imprimatur to a printed work, he assures the reader that nothing therein is contrary to Catholic faith or morals. This imprimatur is not givien lightly; but only after a thorough review process. Catalina's writings bear the imprimatur or recommendation of her bishop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

Here is delicious recipe to share as a few friends have asked me for it. This oatmeal cookie is from La Leche's publication, Whole Foods from the Whole World. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do. It has become a regular in our home and because they are not so sweet, they are perfect for a quick breakfast (with a cup of coffee) or a mid morning snack. My toddler certainly loves them. I believe that the sweetness comes from the simmering of the raisins, which releases their natural sugars into the dough. Let us know how you like them :)

1 cup raisins
1 cup water
3/4 cup oil
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine raisins and water in saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until raisins plump, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving liquid. Add enough water to reserved liquid to measure 1/2 cup (if necessary). Combine oil, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Add reserved liquid; mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, oats, pecans, and raisins. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. May substitute 3/4 to 1 cup honey for brown sugar.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary: April 8, 2009

Happy Anniversary to my dear mom and dad who have been married for 36 years today. Wishing you many more years of love and marriage.

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