Friday, May 29, 2009

Strawberry Redemption

Today I woke up feeling better than I have been for the past several weeks. I was on top of the world. Maybe it was the apple cider donut I had for breakfast. Maybe it was because I finally got a decent night of sleep. It didn't matter. I was ready to take on the local Strawberry Fields, rain or shine. Isabella was totally in for the adventure after a long week of daddy working late and being cooped up in the house with her overly tired and overly grumpy pregnant mom. And what could be better than strawberries? Good friends to join you while you pick them.

The rain was falling when we arrived but cleared up quickly as we visited the newly born kids (baby goats) and calf. The strawberries were perfect for picking: plump, deep red, and very sweet. The girls were quick to sample and slow to pick, so the mommies had to compensate for the discrepancy. I think I redeemed myself from yesterday's indulgences with the strawberries and asparagus that we brought home. The strawberry season lasts until July 4th so we welcome any out of towners that would like to head out our way for the strawberry picking experience.

Donaldson Farms is located right in Hackettstown. They offer their own strawberries, peaches, asparagus, peppers, squash, corn, and many other veggies during the summer and fall months. You can find more info at their website:

The $10.99 Purchase

I had $11 burning a hole in my pocket since the weekend. Dave was getting paid later that evening so the $11 didn't need to last me much longer. I was completely on my own for an entire 45 minutes as Isabella was playing electric guitar at Dave's store under his watchful eye. As I drove into town I knew I was approaching Alstede Farm, a family owned farm that makes homemade ice cream year round. And therein began my downward spiral. The temptation was much too great for a pregnant mama to resist.

As I walked in, I surveyed the mouth watering displays of fresh produce. The strawberries had just been picked and the asparagus had just been cut. I thought about Isabella and how she would probably really love the strawberries. But I still headed straight to the ice-cream counter where I sampled some new fancy flavors, but decided on classic cookies and cream. In my defense, I ordered the smallest sized serving that they offered. Even still, the teen behind the counter was very generous to me. As I stepped over to pick up some milk for the house, I encountered one of my favorite things. Light from heaven was streaming down upon the 6 pack of homemade apple cider donuts. I shamefully grabbed the milk, the 6 pack, and my ice-cream cone, a purchase that totalled $10.99. I was in the clear.

The ice-cream cone tasted so good going down but that feeling didn't last much longer. My blood sugar quickly rose only to bring on a sudden fit of nauseau when I came crashing down. The donuts, on the other hand, made it home, completely in tact, all half dozen of those perfectly appley goodness. The donuts were so much more enjoyable the next morning with my dear husband and dear daughter indulging in such goodness with me. The moral of the story: Don't drive past farm heaven when you are hungry and pregnant. An additional lesson to be learned is that $11 can take you pretty far in life! And the most important lesson of all: the best things in life are even better when shared.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last Minute Eggplant Rollatini

I grew up on really good eggplant because my mom makes delicious eggplant parmesan. Needless to say, I love all things eggplant, especially rollatini. However, it's usually a delicacy I enjoy when dining out. I'd never actually made it before, until this weekend, that is, and it was so worth it. The pregnancy cravings are beginning and coupled with the fact that Isabella loves eggplant too led me to embark on an eggplant mission on Saturday night. I don't even know what a recipe for rollatini looks like, but this is what I came up with when dinner had to be on the table within the hour and it was indeed quite delicious.

Doing the coating for the eggplant usually overwhelms me because there are multi-steps, but I found that the key is just to move very quickly!

  • Slice outer skin off of eggplant and cut off both top and bottom.

  • Slice flesh of eggplant lengthwise thinly.

  • Dip each piece into flour, then beaten eggs, and lastly whole grain bread crumbs (make crumbs from homemade bread or a quality loaf by pulsing in the food processor).

  • (Note: I recently looked at the ingredients list on my bread crumb container and realized that there were close to 100 ingredients, most of which were absolute crap. No future for those crumbs in this house.)

  • Fry coated eggplant on both sides in olive oil.

  • Once all pieces are fried, prepare filling.

  • I used about 3/4 lb ricotta for 10 eggplant pieces.

  • Mix ricotta with pecorino romano and parsley and place a heaping tablespoon in center of each piece of fried eggplant.

  • Wrap eggplant around filling and place seam side down in a casserole dish already lined with some homemade tomato sauce.

  • After placing all filled eggplant pieces in casserole dish, top each piece with sauce and sprinkle with fresh mozzarella.

  • Bake in oven at 350 degrees in bubbly. (I would have baked longer to brown the cheese, but my toddler was standing at the oven screaming for eggplant, which she later devoured.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Iambic Pentameter

Just kidding - I thought it was a funny title for a pre-school lesson. We are not working on Shakespeare yet! The most recent "lesson" to be discovered in our home develops memory retention and rhyming skills.

1. Recite child's favorite nursery rhymes, riddles, or songs to them for some time before they become familiar with them (i.e. Pat a Cake, Hickory Dickory Dock, Baa Baa Black Sheep etc).

2. Once child is familiar with the rhyme, riddle, or song, pause at the end of some of the lines so that child has opportunity to fill in the missing word. (i.e. Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the ____. The clock struck one, the mouse ran down, Hickory Dickory ____.)

Note: Start off by simply giving the child just one opportunity for fill in and gradually increase as child's vocabulary increases and as child's familiarity and enjoyment for the rhyme also increases. This activity builds up over the course of several weeks. For example, when we first started (19 months), Isabella could say the last word of Pat a Cake (....put it in the oven for baby and ME). However, now at 21 months she can say most of the line ending words in Pat a Cake. She seems to enjoy being relied on for her "part". This activity aids memory retention and rhyme by asking the child to make use of such skills to call upon the correct word.

Welcoming Summer Hand in Hand

Isabella and her friend Claire had a blast this week discovering local water spots to take a break from the rising temperatures. She also learned the word "picnic" and thoroughly enjoys the experience of setting up a spot at the parks. Perhaps, even more than the actual picnic, Bella takes great excitement in helping Mommy to pack the cooler, carefully arranging her favorite items for the week - sandwiches, hummus, chips, carrots, cantaloupe, oranges, watermelon, and lots of icy watered down juice! We will keep you posted on all of the local spots to visit for the summer. We did away with naptime schedules for a few days this week to soak up the sunshine, make mud pies, and cool off in the creeks. How blessed we are to live in an area surrounded by so much natural beauty. Self-directed toddler exploration is best at this age, but Claire's mommy (a former teacher and park ranger) and myself can't help but already brainstorm lesson ideas for next summer. We are thinking lots of nature walks and nature study along the trails and in the creek. We can't wait to share our newly discovered spots with Daddy. Let the laid back days of summer begin:)
Note: These pictures are from Stephen's State Park located right off Waterloo Road in Allamuchy. The facilities include a great toddler playground, tons of picnic tables including a covered pavillion, very clean restrooms, water fountains, grills, fishing spots, shallow creek spots for cooling off, and campgrounds. Admission is free for the grounds, although I am not sure the fee for camping. Here's a link to the state's website on the park

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shame on Notre Dame

I recently had the opportunity to see EWTN's interview with Archbishop Burke following his keynote address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this past Friday. Burke has been described as the highest ranking American in the Vatican.

"The profound granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our President who is as aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is a source of the gravest scandal. Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law. In a culture which embraces an agenda of death, Catholics and Catholic institutions are necessarily counter-cultural. If we as individuals or our Catholic institutions are not willing to accept the burdens and the suffering necessarily involved in calling our culture to reform, then we are not worthy of the name Catholic. "

I was happy to see in the news coverage last night the Notre Dame graduates who chose not to participate in the Obama honored graduation ceremony, but rather gathered at the grotto on campus to celebrate their achievement, free of the hypocrisy their beloved institution was engaging in.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This was my Mother's Day greeting today and wow, it was really wonderful. Pink roses are my absolute favorite. Dave said that Isabella was the big spender this year giving me a gift card to the nicest restaurant in town while Dave played it safe giving me a large amount of chocolate. Thanks to my dear husband and sweet little girl for the special greeting.

On the topic of motherhood for this special weekend, we are excited to share the news that we are expecting another little blessing this coming winter. Check out the pregnancy tracker on the sidebar of the blog to see how our new little one is growing. I am still early in the pregnancy, but even so, can you believe what a miracle life is? The baby is already growing so fast! Anyone who argues that life does not begin at the moment of conception obviously has not seen the pregnancy tracker!
I'll be doing a post soon for those who are interested in placing bets on the baby's gender. Winners will be given first dibs on holding, burping, and changing baby White while losers will be given first dibs on helping me with laundry, cooking and cleaning after baby's arrival!

Mother's Day

On this special day, I am thankful to my mother for:

staying home with us when we were little,
making special posters for our birthdays,
making us homemade white pizza with broccoli on the days that dad worked late,
buying me a special dress for every meaningful occasion from the 8th grade dance to my wedding day,
always welcoming our friends into our home,
always lending a helping hand,
sending us to swim practice with the thickest, moistest slices of her banana bread smothered with butter,
teaching us about forgiveness, generossity, and having a happy heart,
and for continuing to do many special motherly things for my own little girl.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

On this special day, I am thankful to my Grandmother for:

being the matriarch of our family,
bringing life and laughter to every occasion,
always "telling it like it is",
making THE BEST stuffed artichokes,
teaching me how to play every card game I know,
reminding us to always be grateful for family,
for having the strength and faith to overcome every kind of life adversity (Great Depression, cancer, death of a spouse, etc),
and for all of the wonderful childhood memories that are too many to name.

Happy Mother's Day, Gram!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Samantha's First Holy Communion

What a special day for our cousin, Samantha, who made her first Holy Communion this past weekend. She looked absolutely stunning and we had such a nice time at her party. Isabella had been looking forward to the party all week as she really wanted to see "Mantha", as she affectionately refers to her older cousin. She got to enjoy dancing, coloring, puzzles, and stickers. Bella also enjoyed hanging out with her cousins John and Olivia at the end of the party. She will be so happy to see all of her cousins again next weekend at the Mother's Day gathering.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Message of April 25, 2009

Dear children! Today I call you all to pray for peace and to witness it in your families so that peace may become the highest treasure on this peaceless earth. I am your Queen of Peace and your mother. I desire to lead you on the way of peace, which comes only from God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.

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