Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yes, I am from a small town. No, I'm not a farmer.

Glen Falls Bridge, Main Street - Williamsville, NY

Recently my father sent me a newspaper obituary of an acquaintance. The Obit was for Walter Pelcin, always known to me as "Wally the Barber". Yes, he was the village barber. Well, to be fair, there are several village barbers in the small town where I am from, but he was very well known as such.
In passing, I mentioned to my husband that I had heard that our village barber had passed. He sort of laughed (to be clear, NOT at the passing of Wally, but rather that he did not believe that I KNEW the village barber, or that there actually WAS such a person, and they were known as the village barber). He proceeded to explain his reaction, which I knew was not intended to disrespect the passing of Wally, but rather out of disbelief. This was the first time that I realized how very different our lives had been - how where we were raised made such a different impact on each of us.

He then asked me some very strange questions. "Did you have an outdoor skating rink? What about a Christmas tree at town hall? Did you have a town hall? Was there a Dalmatian at the firehouse; was there a firehouse? What about on snow days, did you go ice skating and hold hands and skate in a circle like they do in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Did people go Caroling around the holidays?" I suppose the answer to most of these questions is yes. He didn't make me feel bad about where I am from, he was still in disbelief that the "made for Hallmark channel "village" actually (for the most part) exists.

Some shops in the Village

But for me, for our family, it was simply home. It was not a made up village, it was where we lived, where we grew up, where we became the people we are. We are not farmers, as some people, who have never been outside of a major city, would have you believe. We are not "hicks". We attended the best schools, we made friends we would have for a lifetime, we got our first jobs at 16 and worked at the local library, ice cream parlor, restaurant on Main Street, or local swimming pool. There is nothing "farmer-esque" about growing up in a small village like Williamsville. There is nothing to make it "less" of a place to grow and learn than a city would offer. We were raised to treat each other with respect, we were raised to accept other races, cultures, and religions. We are not culturally deprived - despite what some think. And despite the fact that some believe that living in a city and raising children in a city is a "better" option than that of a small village, I would beg to differ.

Williamsville - Sts. Peter and Paul RC Church


I have very fond memories of being raised in a place where life is lived; and is lived at your own pace - not the pace of fast moving trains or children growing up simply too quickly. We never had a prom in the 4th grade, we never had to have designer boots or makeup in the 3rd grade - but we had lovely things and I have lovely memories still. My main goal in life is to provide my own family with memories just as nice, and to provide them with a place to live that is comfortable, relaxing, non-intrusive to life. A place I am not be scared of when turn out my lights at night and where I don't have to have bars on my windows, a place where my children may walk to school, or to the library, or to the swimming pool. I'd like my children to be able to attend schools that don't force you to walk through metal detectors when entering the building; I'd like to be able to send my kids to public schools that are actually challenging and enlightening, as opposed to simply being pushed through each grade level.

Columbia Drive, Williamsville, NY

These are all thing that I was able to do, while growing up in small village. However, living in city, I see an increasing inability to do so much of this. It's not that the city is such a bad place, it's simply not the kind of place I want to raise my family.

Our dining room, on Columbia Drive, at Christmas


I long for the day when we can retire and find a nice, small house in Williamsville to spend our golden years in; but I've got a long journey ahead of me. Until then, I'm reminded of those wonderful memories growing up there, and determined to find something just as nice for my family, but here in the NYC area. I've just started my research into different areas in Long Island and am very hopeful that I will be successful in finding a nice place to raise our family. Somewhere where my children will look back, wherever they may find themselves as adults, and be reminded of the simple, sweet, and memorable childhood they had.









Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple Sauce and my KitchenAid Mixer


So, I recently realized that I never blogged about my mixer!

What a perfect way to introduce you to my lovely vintage mixer and to show you her lovely original attachments in action.

Last week I had some spare time in the morning, and some spare energy, so I decided to make some homemade apple sauce for breakfast. I never thought it would be easy to make, but in particular how easy it would be with my trusty mixer!

Here's a quick step-by-step:



1. Clean and chop apples



2. Boil apples in hot water for about 3-4 minutes or until soft.


3. Drain water
4. Add apples to sauce attachment on mixer


5. Place bowl/pan underneath the mixer attachment to catch sauce
6. Turn on mixer and allow paddle to push apples through sieve on attachment
7. Scrape bottom of attachment to remove any excess sauce

Add sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and cinnamon as desired (I used brown sugar, just a tad, and a little bit of lemon juice and drop of vanilla. SO delicious!



It took me about 15 minutes to make about 2 cups of sauce. The hardest part, if you can call it hard, was chopping the apples. The rest was super simple and so wonderfully delicious. I ate a cup for breakfast and a cup for dessert!

Now, let's talk mixer.

I was gifted my vintage mixer by my Mother. About 8 years ago my Mom decided to purchase a new KitchenAid Artisan mixer, in red. Of course, I was ready to inherit her older mixer, older as in it was made in 1957! When it was given to me it had clear signs of wear, or, I like to think of it as well "loved". It's the same mixer I can recall many childhood days spent pouring ingredients into for cookies, cakes, and other treats. It's the same mixer that I recall mashed our potatoes every thanksgiving, for many, many years.

I was very excited when I brought my mixer from Buffalo to Brooklyn, and even more excited when my husband offered to have it restored for me! The mixer was still in working order, but since we had just finished remodeling our kitchen, we both felt as though our mixer needed a makeover, and a well deserved one, I think! Also, the idea of just "getting rid" of the mixer never even crossed my mind. It wasn't until after we had the mixer restored that someone said to me, "oh, I love your new professional lift model, it's fabulous, isn't it?" that I realized that no one could tell the difference between my 50+ year old model and a new model! Still, I would never trade my mixer for a new one unless it was absolutely necessary (read, it would have to be unrepairable!). In fact, about a week or so after my Mom had purchased her new Artisan model, she asked me if I had wanted to swap with her. She explained that her older model, now my model, had much more power to it than her new model, and she missed it. I wasn't about to given u the coveted mixer and dear Mom had to "suffer" with her new model!
Back to the restoration. Joe pulled apart the mixer, very carefully, and sanded and blasted each part. Once he was done with that, a friend of his repainted the mixer for us, in original white, as it should be. Joe also had the mixer tuned up, and a new cord put on. The mixer now stands proud on my granite counter top and is used regularly, and of course, runs like a top! I'm very grateful to have been given such a wonderful, and meaningful gift from my Mother, and more recently, from y husband in the form of a Mixer Makeover!


The mixer's original attachments include:

2 mixing bowls

1 sauce bowl with 2 fitted sieves, as well as a wooden paddle attachment to "push" the apples, tomatoes, etc, down past the sieve.
1 wire whisk

1 Citrus juicer

1 paddle attachment

1 dough hook


The attachments I have acquired which are not original to the machine, but still fit thanks to KitchenAid's genius front power source, are as follows:


Pasta rollers and cutters - Spaghetti and Fettuccine

Ice cream maker

Sausage stuffer

OK, that's enough about my mixer, I'm sure I've bored enough people! Go make some apple sauce!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Projects

Less than 7 weeks to go and I'm swamped with projects, along with my normal workload! I just wanted to take a minute this morning and share some of the projects I have started, but have yet to complete (although I am close!).


My first project, that is quite time-limited as Christmas approaches rapidly, is a pair of Christmas stockings for my husband and soon-to-be son. Many moons ago my Mom purchased a vintage stocking for me. At the time, I was just a small child, and the stocking was made in the 1950's. Several Christmas' were spent eagerly awaiting Mom and Dad to wake up, and during that time my siblings and I would empty our our stockings to see what Santa had filled them with. Often times they contained small, wrapped gifts that we would wait to open, but even though it was expected, we always looked forward to the annual items: walnut (that we would immediately chuck at each other amongst excited giggles), Kattetongs (pieces of chocolate in the shape of a small, double-ended spoon, made by a man we only ever knew as "the candyman"), chewing gum, and of course, an orange at the bottom of the stocking. Christmas just would not have been the same without the opening of our stockings before Mom and Dad awoke and I hope to give our child the same sweet memories. Luckily, I was able to find the pattern for the same stocking I still have. A few weeks ago my husband and I stopped at the craft store and he picked out the colors for what would be his stocking, and one for Michael as well. While the shades of red, green, and white don't exactly match the colors of my original stocking, he picked some great wools and so far, so good! I've managed to recreate about half of the stocking so far, after much googling and teaching myself how to knit in Intarsia :) I must say, I am impressed so far - I'm just hoping I am able to keep up with the pattern when the time comes to turn the heel!


To save others some time, I found the vintage Bernat Stocking Pattern on another knitters blog. Check out Ruthless Knitting for the pattern, info, and all the specs:




I've been using Vanna's Choice, by Lion Brand, for the red, green, and white, and a beautiful off-white, angora I picked up at Purl in SoHo. As soon as I have completed both stockings I will update with a pictures of all three stockings.


Another project I am working on is a sweater, hat, mitten and scarf (for Mom) set for a friend of mine. I started out by making a sweater for my little guy using the Lion Brand pattern for the Playdate hoodie sweater (this can be found on Lion Brand's webpage) and making sure I could complete the project first, before setting out to make someone else the same item! I use a basic baby hat pattern, and basic thumbless mitten pattern. The scarf is a single cable scarf made with the same Vanna's choice yarn that I craft the sweater with. Below is a picture of the first sweater I made for my little one. More pictures to come of the completed projects. Since our babies will be born within 2 months of each other, and knowing how many newborn baby items I received at my shower, I decided to make each set sized for a 1 year old. I can't wait to finish this project and send it to my friend, I know she will love it!


Finally, my last knitting project is a scarf for myself. I've made so many scarves (as that was all I could knit for a long time) that I'd really like to use up some of my fisherman's wool on a nice double-cabled scarf for myself.


In addition to these projects, I've almost got all my "nesting" things done, although I am sure that will change as my little one gets close to him arrival! I've got a few last minute things to catch up on, like finishing packing my hospital bag, and organizing little Michael's room, again. But, I think I've got a little bit of time to finish up. Christmas cards must be finished and cookie party invitations must go out next week - so let's hope for a productive week this week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tis the Season, already!

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is just 15 days away, and then Christmas right around the corner! It's certainly an exciting time of year!

All the fabulous holiday foods, spirit, family, and friends make the holidays extra special for us. Family traditions and things close to our hearts warm our home during this season, and who could forget all the lovely presents!?

In the excitement of all running around, shopping, decorating, and holiday parties, I think it's important to remember all that we really are thankful for and fortunate to have in our lives. I am truly blessed in many ways and am so thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and all the conveniences that make my life easy and comfortable. I am fortunate to have a wonderful job, work with great people, and, most importantly, to have good health - especially now in my 8th month of pregnancy. I am also fortunate to be pregnant with our first child. After having undergone fertility treatments in order to conceive, it's something I will never take for granted. I am beyond grateful or the gift I have been given!

In the age of iPad's, smartphones, hi-tech computers, gadgets, fancy cars, nice clothes, and other "unnecessary" (although fun) items, I think there is nothing that can replace the feeling you get when you help another to enjoy their holidays a little bit more. What could be better than putting a smile on a child's face, or make someone who is lonely and feeling blue, feel a little brighter?

I'm posting today to encourage all to do something nice for someone else this season. Whether it's holding a door open, buying the person in line next to you at the coffee shop a fresh cup of Joe, attending a charity event, or being kind to someone who has not been kind to you; any act of kindness goes a long way. Last year my cousin sent an email out to some friends and family asking for their support and help for a family in her area that needed a helping hand. The family had two small children and both parents had been laid off from their jobs. The money they were earning from unemployment barely covered their mortgage and other bills. They had very little to give their children for Christmas, and needed any extra money they could scrounge up to put in their gas tank in order to get to job interviews. I felt for the family and thought that since my husband and I were both working and very fortunate to have good jobs, that we should help in some way. I sent the family a Visa gift card in a Christmas card. I did not include my personal information; just a note to let them know that I had heard about their situation and hoped that the gift would help them - even if to just get by.

I don't know what happened to the family, but I am certain that, with the help from others as well, they were well taken care of this past holiday season. I'm hoping to find a family in need this year as well.

Here are some places you might want to contact if you are able to help a person/child/family in your own community:

1. Your local church, synagogue, or other house of worship
2. Local schools. I am certain if you call and mention that you'd like to donate gifts to a family less fortunate they will point you in the right direction. Often times schools have special drives for organizations like Toys for Tots
3. Hospitals. While I am not sure if hospitals take direct donations for supplies, I do know that some hospitals accept donations of baby clothes (some for still-born babies). Also, you could be directed to a charity within the hospital that might know of a family that needs help with medical bills, etc.
4. Local soup kitchens and food shelters. I am sure you can do an Internet search and find one or more in your area that accepts donations.

One last thing to keep in mind. Before you head out and shop, go ahead and make sure that what you are purchasing is, indeed needed. Often times people get into the spirit of giving (which is great!) but they purchase things that are less needed than others items. It's always best to directly contact the charity, organization, or family (or friend of the family) and ask what is needed most before spending any amount of money.

I hope that by reading this, some will decide to give to another - even if it's just something small. It's our duty to be kind to one another and to help those in need; without asking for credit for it or recognition. There's no better feeling that knowing you did something for another that did not require recognition. Just do it, you'll feel great and you'll help someone else out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloweenie!



What a fun day!

Just a quick post. I was completely lazy this year, not wanting to shop for a costume, either in person or online, I went with an internet-found, no-sew costume - Static Cling! I pinned socks and dryer sheets all over me, and a friend did my hair to make it look messy and static filled. It was a lot of fun, and people seemed to like my cheapo, lazy costume. You can't really tell that I am 7 months pregnant from the picture, but if I turned to the side there would be no mistaking it! I celebrated my little baby bump by pinning a Buffalo Sabres onesie to my bump.


We handed out candy, briefly, before heading out to Bogota restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We love Bogota, and had a great dinner there.


All in all, a great time was had by all. Today is election day and I'm taking a break from the loads of work I have to type this, as I will be working clear through the night tonight. We also have our hospital tour this evening, which we are very much looking forward to.


I am sure the time is going to fly now, as post-election work will keep me busy for a minimum of 40 hours a week, and Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away. It's hard to believe that the littlest Dagostino will be here in about 8 short weeks, likely less!!!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Busy, Busy, Bee's!

Well, well! I just came on here to moderate comments and noticed it had been a month since my last post. So sorry! I got caught up with tons of work and all sorts of baby stuff and got behind on posting.

Nothing really new to report, other than the general election is coming up in 6 days and I've been swamped with work. However, as any expectant parent knows, a boring pregnancy is nver a bad thing.

I had my glucose test upon returning home from Buffalo and passed! I also had two visits with the Dr in the last month, were baby checked out great both times. Joey and I even got a sneak peak this week when we had an ultrasound at the office. We got to see Michael's heart, head, legs, arms, feet, and tummy! He's getting so big and sometimes it feels like there just isn't any room left.

I admitted to Joey yesterday that I'd been having mini-panic attacks thinking that I was going to squish him and that he wouldn't have enough room - but I think that has more to do with the fact that I believe I don't have enough room in our house, rather than my body. Things are getting mighty crammed and I look forward to the day when I have room for the things I ALREADY have, not even things I would like to have. I desperately wanted a fireplace this year, but there is just no space, with the baby bassinett in the living room, we don't have the space for a faux fireplace, and we've run out of room in the garage to store things. Our only option would be to rent a storage unit, of which we both refuse to do (mostly because I still have a storage unit back in Buffalo and am desperate to bring those items back here!). So, we must wait until after baby arrives to begin the search for a home with more space for our growing little family.

Other than the space issue, I am pleased to announce that I've taken up knitting once again and, with the help of some online videos, have been able to master the cable, as well as stripes! Next task, learning to work patterns into pieces. I recently found a pattern to make a Christmas stocking with. The pattern happens to be for the SAME EXACT Christmas stocking I have had my whole life! As soon as I have a moment I will head to the craft store and buy the supplies I need to make the vintage stocking. I hope to make 2 of them. One for my little baby, and one for my Husband - then we can all have matching stockings for Christmas.

I can't believe our little guy will be here in less than 2 months! Where does the time go? There might be a slight delay from this post to the next, as the general election is next week and I wll be VERY busy with work, but I will do my best to supply at least one post in the coming weeks.

Until then, wishing all my friends a very happy halloween and a happy election day too!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 Pumpkin Shortage

Again???

On a recent trip to Buffalo, NY, I stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some Lakeshore Pumpkin (I've only ever been able to find it in Buffalo!). I looked in the baking aisle and the vegetable aisles, only to find a complete lack of any canned pumpkin - at all! I stopped at the service desk to inquire about the missing pumpkin and was told that due to droughts, this year's pumpkin crop was almost non-existent. Go figure.

Last year the crop, I believe mostly grown in IL, was wiped out by heavy rains, and this year the crop was obliterated by the high heat and humidity. I feel bad for all those little pumpkins, the poor things never had a chance. This summer, at least here in the northeast, was one of the worst, in terms of heat and humidity, that I have ever experienced. It took it's toll on me, as well as the little pumpkins. I lost a lot of muscle tone, as I was not able to do much exercising outdoors and could not exert myself that much due to my pregnancy. So I feel for those pumpkins - they really didn't have a chance :(

On our way home from Buffalo we (Mom and I) stopped at Spoth Farms on County Road in Clarence and picked up a few pie pumpkins to cook and puree ourselves. Below you will find instructions on how to make your own pumpkin puree this season. I have yet to try my pumpkin as it has been too hot, still, to bake much here - but I am very much looking forward to tasting our little buffalo pumpkins in some cookies and muffins as soon as the weather cools down. I've been told that baking and pureeing your own pumpkin is much better than the canned stuff, but I'm a skeptic still - hopefully all the experts are right.

One last thing to keep in mind when setting out on this project. Keep in mind that not all pumpkins are meant for eating. Jack-o-lanterns are meant for carving, and fun things like that, but are not the ideal, sweet pumpkins meant for eating. When at the grocers or farmer's market, ask for a pie pumpkin, or a sugar pumpkin. They are typically smaller than you average jack-o-lantern, and a darker orange, in color. Also, they are not as small as gourds, so don't make that mistake - think somewhere in between a gourd and a jack-o-lantern. I'll try and follow this article up with a review of my own pumpkin, as soon as it cools down and I can make some yummy treats!

1 small pie pumpkin
A few cups of water
An oven-safe baking dish

Clean pumpkin with warm water, do not use soap.

Cut pumpkin in half and spoon out insides (seeds and stringy stuff). Cut off stem. Cut pumpkin in large chunks. Place chunks of pumpkin in baking dish and add a few cups of water (I added 3-4). Cover with tin foil. Bake at 375 for about an hour. Remove baking dish from oven and remove tin foil and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Peel, or gently slice off the dark pumpkin skin. Add chunks to blender or food processor and puree. Mixture can be frozen in ziplock bags until ready for use. Do not attempt to can, as home canning has not been found to be safe, according to my research.

A Baby Shower at Needmore Farm, Wilson, NY


On September 11th I had the opportunity to be in Buffalo with most of my family and friends to celebrate our soon-to-be newest family member, Michael.


The shower was held at the lovely farm of a long-time family friend at Needmore Farm in Wilson, NY. One of my favorite things to do when I am back home in Buffalo, is to go and visit our friends at the farm. It was certainly a special time for me; especially considering our history.


We met our friends while I was singing at St. Paul's Cathedral, in downtown Buffalo, about 21 years ago. I was about 7 when we first met Maureen, and her daughter Allison - also a singer at St. Paul's. When I was preparing to make my first communion at Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsville, NY, Maureen made my dress and veil. 19 years later, I was honored when Maureen agreed to make my wedding dress. So, when Maureen offered to throw a baby shower in honor of our newest addition, I was more than thrilled. 21 years is a long time - and I find myself very lucky to have Maureen and Allison as friends.


The event was wonderful and I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. We ate chicken salad sandwiches on fresh biscuits, and cucumber sandwiches as well. Fresh pasta salad, made with farm fresh produce was one of my favorite items on the menu. Delicious desserts were to be had as well, including lemon cakes, and cupcakes, and an adorable yellow ducky cake that Maureen had made the evening before.


All sorts of wonderful presents were given to Michael, and he is certainly a lucky little boy! I had been trying to control my spending before the shower, as I knew I would receive many gifts - so I only had purchased about 5 outfits (although my loving husband did not do such a good job controlling his "gifting" and purchased the crib, changing table and stroller, amongst other things, before the shower). However, I never realized that the outpouring of generosity would be so great! We received LOADS (or rather one VERY LARGE car load) of gifts for our little one. I cannot possibly list all of the wonderful things we received, but I am sure in coming months many of them will be pictured with baby Michael, so stay tuned!


While the presents were a wonderful part of the shower, the very best memory I have of this special day, is being able to spend time with, and see most of my family - especially those whom don't get to spend much time with, and ones who traveled great distances to attend the shower. Every day, not just the day of the shower, I find myself very blessed to have such a lovely family. I know that some families are not very close, and allow distances to come between their relationships. I'm very fortunate that this is not the case with my family, and am very grateful for such fortune.

When Mom and I arrived back in Brooklyn, we had some help from my husband in unloading our packed car. He was more than happy to help, and I was so happy to see him after being away for 2 weeks! We spent the evening showing my Mother-in-law all of our gifts and, regardless of the language barrier between us, I know she was so happy with all the lovely gifts, and happy to have us back home.


It was sad when I had to put my Mom back on an airplane to England, and I loved having her here with me - I wish we did not live so far away from each other. But, it was a wonderful time that we were able to spend with one another and I am very thankful for that time. In just a few short months she and Jim will be back for the arrival of our little guy, and we just can't wait! Soon thereafter, my sister will arrive with her boyfriend, and my brother and his girlfriend - the soon-to-be Godparents of our little one! We are counting down the short months until everyone is together again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Just engaged! Niagara on the Lake - February 2009

Our first picture together, Brooklyn Brewery

Mohawk Point Vacation - Joe hearts Elizabeth

Halloween 2009 - The Statue of Liberty and a NY Ranger

Joey's first pumpkin!


Our first Christmas tree together

One year ago today I married the most wonderful man in the world. That day marked the beginning of something that I knew would be amazing, but never knew exactly how amazing it would be.


I have made many mistakes in my life, but one thing I got right was marrying Joe. If that is the only thing I ever do right in my life, it will have all been worth it just to spend my life with him.


Joe and I met through an online personals website. I had just moved to New York City and everything was new to me. I had a new life, new surroundings, and new people - but very few of them I knew very well. I can still remember the first moment I saw Joe. I hurried down the stairs of my apartment and swung open the door, not realizing that Joe was waiting for me on the outside stairs. I looked down and I was met with the biggest, most beautiful smile - and there he was! I'll never forget that moment as long as I live. We had a fantastic, 6 hour first date! We still frequent the coffee shop that we visited that night; it's one of our favorite spots. Our second date was to a local brewery, where we sampled some great beers - something we both love! After that, we were inseparable. It's been almost 3 years since that first date, and I will cherish every moment, always, and every moment that is to come.


When I think about our first year together I think of all the wonderful times we've had, and I can't help but think of what the future has in store for us. I never dreamed I would be 6 months pregnant with our first baby on our one year anniversary, but here we are, and there's no denying the little life inside me. All the special times and memories we've had together this past year, and to know that it will only get better makes me eager for the future and grateful for all the blessings we have had.


As a wedding gift last year, Joe presented me with a small book of poems. The book has no author listed, no copyright date, and is rather old. However, the poems it contains are beautiful and are cherished by me. The book is titled, "To the Lady Whom I Love". A small poem on the first page is so sweet, I thought I would share it, as well as one other poem that I found very fitting:


"The language of my heart

is written in this book

Mark how strong my love is

When in it thou shalt look"


Also, another poem:


A Love Song


Laugh not, nor weep, but let thine eyes

grow soft and dim (so love should be)

and be thy breathing tender, quick,

And tremulous, whilst I gaze on thee


And let thy words be few or none;

But murmur, such as soothe the air

In summer, when the day is done,

Be heard, sweet heart, when I am here,


And I - Oh! I in those soft times,

When all around is still and sweet

Will love thee more thousand times

than if the world were at thy feet.


Happy Anniversary, Joey! You are my dream come true.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some ginger, for my snap!


I finally got some energy! Enough to make dinner AND complete not just ONE, but TWO baking projects tonight. For dinner - chicken, broccoli, rice casserole. For dessert - some gingersnaps for my little ginger snap!


I've been feeling a bit nauseated for the past week, and a friend of mine - Brannan, from The Pregnant Vegetarian told me that ginger sometimes helps - although, despite drinking several litres of ginger ale, the bubbles did not seem to help. So, I figured I would try my hand at some homemade ginger snaps, recipe courtesy of a friend of mine and re-posted here for your enjoyment. I'm crediting Emily Jansson for the fabulous recipe, and for sharing it with me and a group of women this past Christmas at a cookie exchange party held at our home here in Brooklyn.


The recipe makes a delicious few dozen soft ginger snaps. And, they are delicious. I am not a huge fan of ginger snaps, but these just melt in your mouth.


Emily's "Williamsville" Ginger Snaps

¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses (light or dark)
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat. Add flour, soda, and spices. Beat until smooth. Roll into small balls. Dip half of each ball into granulated sugar (don’t press down).
Place on greased cookie sheet, leave as balls – don’t flatten. Bake 7-9 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


On a side note, I won't jinx myself by saying anything more than this - I was able to make these, eat a few, and also bake a loaf of bread. So - here's to ginger!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

21 weeks and counting!



Well, we've made it half way through! While I'd like to be celebrating with champagne, I'll sip the ginger ale instead - especially considering week 21 brought some unwanted nausea.

Overall, this pregnancy has been quite easy for me, and I've been saying how spoiled I've been. However, it seems like that's all changed this past week. On Thursday I was hit with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then, the nausea continued for 2 more days, before semi-subsiding today. Not only was I hit with this wave of terrible nausea smack dab in the middle of my second trimester, but the complete and extreme fatigue that accompanied it, was also not welcomed. There I was, puttering along, looking forward to finishing up a very, very busy primary season at work - proud of my accomplishment of getting through it whilst pregnant; and WHAM - the blah feeling hit me like ton of bricks!

So, I woke up this morning determined to feel better - even if my body wasn't ready to - I was ready to! I slept in a bit (until 9:30!), I took Avery on a nice, slow walk, I made my regular morning breakfast, I did some light stretching, and finally I logged online to work on some blogging and do some online shopping and browsing. While that might seem like a "do-nothing" kind of morning, with the way I've been feeling it was exactly opposite of that. So, I am feeling a bit better; although that constant nauseous feeling is still lingering about.

Also on today's agenda - a short walk to the bakery to pick up some pizza dough and some light vacuuming and tidying up.

Finally, I can't forget to mention all the "movement" that's been going on. Constant kicking, punching, and jumping! I really do have an active little boy in there! We like to joke that he's practicing for his career as the "fighter" hockey player; skating around in my tummy and throwing some kicks and punches in there for good measure. I must say that the movement is a lot different than I expected. I thought for certain that it would feel "clear", like bumping your knee on the coffee table and you know exactly where the pain is. Baby movements for me feel more like a radiating "swish" of movement, but quick, like that snap of a finger. That's probably the worst description ever, but it's how it feels to me. I am going to take a guess that that's not always how those movements are going to feel. I suspect that the movements will become much more "clear" and distinct, as the weeks progress. Still, since we will not have another ultrasound for another 10 weeks, I am glad that he is moving around and letting me know that he is here to stay - even if it's in the middle of the night.

I am fast approaching a trip to Buffalo and being a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding. I am so excited to be in the wedding and to be present for such an event; but oh BOY can being pregnant and being in a wedding cause some serious concerns. When she asked me to be in the wedding, I was not pregnant. I agreed, and ordered my dress 2 sizes to big, just in case. SO glad I did! The wedding is in 13 days and my bridesmaids dress fits PERFECT, except for a hem too long and a bust too long, but at least it fits perfect in the waist - and with me only gaining 5-8 lbs in the last 20 weeks, I was surprised that it fit and didn't need to be taken in. Still, I am glad it fits and will fit for the wedding, and so excited to be seeing friends and family. Also in the plan for my trip to Buffalo - a baby shower! I am SO excited about this as well, not so much for the gifts or yummy homemade food, but mainly to see my family and friends! Mom is headed back from England, and Aunts and cousins are headed from Florida! I couldn't be more excited to see my family, especially during this special time in my life.

On the agenda for the next few weeks - RELAX, have fun, and enjoy a beautiful wedding, a wonderful shower, and a few nice days off! Signing off now with my latest "bump" pic!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Avery

Avery, day 2

So, since finding out I was pregnant, I have not had much time to stop and write about our other, very important addition, Avery.

Three days before we found out that we were expecting, we began fostering a small, shorty Jack Russell Terrier named Mimi. I picked up "Mimi" at a shelter here in Brooklyn on a very rainy, April morning. Mimi, whom now answers to the name Avery, was shy, scared, and very sad looking. I remember taking her for a short walk outside the shelter to see if she responded to me. She would not look up at me, or acknowledge me at all. I had a terrible feeling that I would not be able to help her, which was very unsettling. I walked her back into the shelter and we walked to the director's office together. I sat in a chair and Avery was occupied with sniffing and smelling all sorts of things that were clearly new to her. She still would not make eye contact with me, even after I called her by her name and held my hand out for her to sniff. I asked lots of questions and tried to get the low down on Avery's story. The only information they were really able to provide was that Avery had been surrendered by her owners and that she was 6 years old, and scared. They also explained that she had been taken from the shelter to an adoption event and had been adopted, but was then returned a week later; with the new owners citing "aggression" issues.


I looked over at Avery, who had at that point decided to sit and watch us chatting", and called her name and she came over to me, now jumping at my leg. She was still a bit timid, and very scared, with her tail between her legs. I did not want to leave her at the shelter, but in my mind I knew that my abilities and experience with "aggressive" dogs was extremely limited. In the end, I knew my duty was to "foster" her and try to help her. I signed her out, and after 3 years without a dog, I now held my own little "second hand" dog.

She was scared in the car, but inquisitive at the same time. She sat in my last most of the way home, and since it was raining and I did not want to have to go back out, I took her right to the pet store to buy food, treats, a leash, collar, and some toys. I purchased several items and Avery seemed to be happy in the pet store, even picking out her own ball.

Jumping to reach the fountain! Avery loves water!

We returned home and, despite my husband's uneasiness about fostering a dog, the best I could do was explain again that if she didn't work with us, they would find her another foster home and then at least she would have a nice few days with us. He seemed ok with the idea. That first day, and first week, as rough. But, Avery began to adjust to us, and at that point some of her behaviors began to come out.
Avery is not "aggressive". She has not been socialized. She has NO IDEA how to act around other people or other animals. She is a Jack Russell, which naturally makes her attentive and possessive of her owners. I'm no dog whisperer, but I'd say that whomever owned her likely never actually took her out of the house. She did know how to play, and LOVES playing with her tennis balls. She also LOVES her walks with me.

In the end, we decided to adopt Avery. I was uncertain, and to a certain degree, still am - as I am constantly thinking about how she will react to the baby. However, if I can manage to have made progress with her at this point, then I think I can handle whatever may come. She is no longer "snipping" at other dogs, unless provoked. She does not "nip" at people, as long as they don't provoke anything, and she is generally well adjusted; but I am certain this is still the beginning of our journey together.
I remember the third day after we picked her up from the shelter, lying in bed and Joe leaned over and said, "It's not often that I would say that doing something like what we've done with this dog was a good idea, but I really think we made a good decision to get her and keep her". I completely agree. Avery came into our lives at a point where we were both exhausted, worn out, etc. We had just started our last round of fertility treatments and I had been quite depressed about that. I wasn't leaving the house very much and mostly I was just very uninspired. I needed a friend her during the day, and a dog was the perfect pal for me to have. In many respects I still think that we needed Avery just as much as she needed us.
So, we are very thankful for Avery and the joy she brings to our little family - even when her little white furs get everywhere and I'm sweeping the floors and vacuuming 4 times a week!

We are happy to have welcomed Avery into our family and hope that we have many years of joy and happiness together!

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's a BOY!

Well, it's been about 2 weeks since we learned that teeny pannini was a BOY, and we couldn't be more excited. We had to do some shopping immediately, as the nursery bedding we had selected was on sale and in the process of discontinuation, so we wanted to make sure we got it before it was no longer available. We ended up buying the "Little Planes" collection from Pottery Barn Kids and it was so much fun to buy and register for additional items in the store.

While my husband was excited to pick all sorts of "blue" items, he did mention to me that he had looked over at the "girls" side of the store, and was a bit sad that we wouldn't be over there picking out things. I know he would have been thrilled with a girl as well - she certainly would have been his little Princess.

While on vacation, we also purchased several small items for Teeny. We had the opportunity to spend the day in Toronto, where we visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Wayne Gretzky restaurant. What a great day! We had some shopping fun at both places as well.

When we returned home from vacation my husband could not wait to create something special for his little guy. Below is the special project he worked on for several days, all handmade with love from Daddy:

We are so excited about seeing Teeny again next week at our 20 WEEK ultrasound!! I can't believe we are half way there! Every time we get to see him, or hear his little heartbeat, is just so wonderful and such a happy occasion. Hopefully we will have somem additional pictures to post after that appointment. Until then, we'll leave you with a picture of our "fury" baby - Avery!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's a Heat Wave!

Well, I certainly never expected to be in the middle of a heat wave in New York City, let alone be in the heat-wave while pregnant. However, here I am and it's only day 2 of 4 of the 100 degree days!
As my midwife reminded me, drink loads of water, even if it means that you will gain 10 lbs of water weight. But what else can you do to beat this unfamiliar and uncomfortable heat while pregnant - or not pregnant for that matter? Here are some of my personal tips:
  • Stay indoors when you can and when temperatures threaten any outdoor activity. There are LOADS of things you can do indoors such as play board games, watch movies, clean house (or if you are pregnant, get some much needed nesting completed!), complete projects that needed to be completed months ago (that's what usually on my list!) and organize household expenses and budgets. While some of these tasks may not be fun, getting them done while forced to spend time indoors will lead to free time you have later on that sunny, 75 degree day that you want to spend at the beach! (Still, easier said than done for some of us, including me!)

  • When possible, spend some time floating about a well shaded, non-heated - and CLEAN pool. I've been nervous about the public pools here in the city, but I am sure they are maintained well enough. We are very fortunate to have a family member with a pool, and said family member also only lives a block away - so, bonus, we are able to swim at our leisure almost all summer long.

  • A friend offered this tip: chill your sore feet in a nice cold, foot bath! It's as easy as grabbing the nearest bucket and filling it up with some ice cold water and sitting back to relax and enjoy!

  • Try some sprinkler fun. Any old sprinkler will do. If you have a little bit of yard you can set up the sprinkler, go for it! Set up a lawn chair nearby and sit and relax. Try to find a spot in the shade, as it will be nicer there.

  • Eat foods that are high in water content such as watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, and other yummy fruits and veggies. Your tummy will be happy and the extra water will help to cool you down.

  • Finally, make sure you are getting enough cool rest at night. If you don't have an air conditioner, splurge for an exhaust window fan, and then a regular room fan. Place the window fan in the window so that it is backwards (in order to suck out the hot air) and place the regular fan near your bed to cool you all night long. A good night's sleep will help your body to stay cool through the rest of the day.

I will leave you with the most recent picture of our little one. "Teeny Pannini" as we are calling him/her was quite active during our last scan at 13 weeks, but all was well and baby checked out perfectly. Our Nuchal screen went off without a hitch and results came back perfect! We couldn't be happier that our little one is doing so well. We are still so excited about welcoming Teeny into this world and after each day our little miracle baby becomes more and more real. Today, hearing that little heartbeat, was like music to my ears - as I am sure it always will be. Dad will be there at our next, elective scan, which will be at 16 weeks. In just 3 short weeks we should know whether Teeny Pannini will prefer blue or pink! That scan will take place while we are on vacation in Canada!



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Basil Grows in Brooklyn


But you wouldn't know that if you had tried planting it last year.
More than abundant, downright habitual downpours stunted the growth of most of my basil plants last year, and therefore no tasty meals made with fresh basil from the garden. But this year, the basil on the patio garden is plentiful and I couldn't be happier. I've already used some on our homemade pizza, and plan to make a nice, authentic Italian meal for my husband this coming week - I'm thinking lasagna!



Also growing by leaps and bounds - a pineapple plant, originally purchased at Ikea, of all places! My husband insists that the pineapple won't be for eating, but rather for looking at, but I have a feeling by the end of summer we will be eating it.
Finally, some container tomato's I am growing. They just started to flower this week, so we should be expecting some fresh tomato's in the coming weeks - can anyone say caprese salad?? This will have to do as we will be skipping our trip to Italy this summer as we continue to prepare to welcome our little one this winter.
Speaking of welcoming the little one, I am 11 weeks this week! Wow, time does NOT fly! It drags! I am so eager to be out of the first trimester and on to the second, and third. Nevertheless, I am very much enjoying the "pregnant" life, and have lots to be grateful for. I already love my "teeny pannini" as we have named him/her!

Back to the garden, I've been hunting for a great pesto recipe, something tasty - but not too strong, and authentic. If you have a great recipe, please send - I would love to feature it - credit given, of course! Signing off for now, it's time to spend a little time snuggling with the one I love.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Brooklyn Wedding - Elizabeth Todaro, Pastry Chef

My beautiful wedding cake created by Elizabeth Todaro

Planning a wedding in Brooklyn is no simple task. However, with the right people involved it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Enter Elizabeth Todaro, pastry chef extraordinaire, wife, mother, and now friend. While planning my August 2009 wedding I embarked on a search for a talented pastry chef who could create my dream wedding cake, and manage to complete the task within my budget. After searching out several trendy bakeries and meeting with a few pastry chefs, I finally had the pleasure of coming across Elizabeth.


Elizabeth with one of the tiers of a recent wedding cake

We met on a cold February morning to discuss my ideas for the cake as well as review some of her impressive portfolio of cakes. Right away we hit it off! Elizabeth is a stay-at-home Mom who is also a talented pastry chef. As a work-at-home gal myself, I was impressed by her desire to dedicate her life to spending her days at home with her family, and by being industrious enough to open her own bakery business, right from her Brooklyn kitchen! For Elizabeth though, it seems like the decision was easy as pie, or maybe cake!


Elizabeth, in her element!

Elizabeth has always enjoyed baking, even as a child her favorite thing to bake was Tiramisu – something I have yet to master myself. She even graduated from New York Restaurant School in 2001. After having now 12 year old daughter Sarah, and before giving birth to twin boys Sonny and Massi (now 14 months), Elizabeth was working as a technician’s helper for Verizon. While she was pregnant with the boys she decided that she wanted to start her own home based business as a pastry chef, and worked hard to gain clients, and keep them coming back.
Elizabeth makes about 1 specialty or occasion cake per weekend (think wedding, or special birthday cakes). She is fortunate to be surrounding by a loving and support family including her husband, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. As a family, everyone enjoys the “baking” lifestyle, even daughter Sarah loves to watch TLC’s Cake Boss, although as I learned recently, Sarah also has quite a talent for photography!

Elizabeth's primary reason for wanting to work from home - taking care of, and being close to, her beautiful family - Sonny, Massi, Sarah, and husband Tom (not pictured)

Elizabeth noted that her favorite part of baking for a living is that she gets to be a part of someone’s special day and knowing the importance of that special day herself, being married to husband Tom for several years, she can also understand the pressure brides are under. Elizabeth’s bright smile, warm personality, understanding, and talent for knowing just exactly how to create that perfect wedding cake is what truly sets her apart from the trendy bakeries of Brooklyn and NYC.

After meeting with Elizabeth, clients will be relieved to have found someone truly capable of making their wedding cake, or occasion cake dream come true. In addition to baking, Elizabeth includes delivery of her masterpieces, ensuring that your cake will arrive safe and beautiful at your venue. For the Bride that needs it all, like me, Elizabeth even prepared one of my wedding favors – individually boxed slices of cake – and set them up on cake stands at my wedding venue. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more pleased with Elizabeth’s masterpiece of a cake, as well as the quality; I reminded her this weekend that I still have my top tier of the wedding cake she made for us and every time I open the freezer my mouth gets all excited to think about biting into that cake on our first wedding anniversary!

As mentioned in the beginning of this blog post, wedding planning in Brooklyn does not have to be a drama filled, bridezilla fueled, wild experience; it can be very rewarding by working with the right vendors. Elizabeth Todaro certainly fits this bill, and more! Elizabeth can be reached via email at silverangel0679@aol.com.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Oh Baby!

9 weeks and counting!



In late April, April 29th to be exact, we finally got our positive test! We can't wait to welcome our little one, but ohhhh what a wait we have ahead of us!



While my pregnancy has met me with very few challenges, thus far (knocking on wood), I am anticipating a LONG 6.5 months ahead of me. I think my biggest challenge will be all the waiting, but in particular the first 20 weeks. For a person who constantly seeks instant gratification, waiting a minimum of 16 weeks to find out the gender of her baby is TORTURE! But I am doing my best and just trying to enjoy a seemingly easy pregnancy. I've not been too sick, no "praying to the porcelain god" for me, thus far; but I have been quite exhausted, some days are better than others though.



In order to curb our needs (my need to shop, and my husband's need to plan) we decided to start collecting books for our little one. We've got several of the classics, as well as the newer editions of Sesak's "This Is.." series of travel books for children. Being travelers ourselves, we love the series and are always on the hunt for a new book. We've also started, slowly, moving our office downstairs and planning for the nursery. When I think about these things, I know that 6.5 months will fly by faster than I can imagine.



We also still have to prepare a spare room downstairs for my Mom, Stepdad, and Sister to stay in while here for the birth of their first grandchild and niece/nephew. It seems a bit overwhelming, but I guess that's why we are given 9 months to plan!



Until my next post, I've got tons to do, not to mention my actual job - work consumes me during election years, so that would explain my non-existent posts. But, a quick shout to my friend Brannan - a colleague whom is also pregnant, and about 5 weeks ahead of me. She always has me thinking of new and different ways to do things. While Brannan is a vegetarian, and I thought I could handle a veggie lifestyle while pregnant, I was SO wrong. However, I've made a good compromise. I've been eating only free-range, organic beef and chicken, and will continue to throughout my pregnancy.



So, hopefully will have a Brooklyn Wedding post coming up soon - must get in contact with the pastry chef and attempt to connect with her so that we can get some pictures set and write a nice article for her - you can't beat her prices, quality, craftsmanship (is that what it's called in cake decorating?) and peace of mind she provides, when looking for a wedding or occasion cake. Until then, I will leave you with a picture of our little sticky bean!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A few things...

Just a few things to share.

It's been quite busy here and so I've neglected my little blog. I am going to try and post more this week, but for now, here are a few things I've been doing/working on...

While looking for some baby shower gifts, I came across a few very talented Etsy crafters. I'd like to share those items here. Please feel free to click around their shops and look at some of their other items as well:

A beautiful sweater, crafted from vintage linen:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=27037483&ref=sr_list_11&&ga_search_query=vintage+linen&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&includes[]=tags&includes[]=title

Another beautiful item, from the same Etsy seller:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=27296516

A beautiful jacket:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19963606

The Lulu Dress, how could you NOT love it???
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9688867

The last 2 items can be found on the sellers business website as well - www.posiesboutique.com.

After spending weeks searching for the perfect gift, I had finally come across some really nice, quality items from these sellers and more. I was determined to simply glaze over the usual gap, children's place, and target clothes and find something that was made with quality materials, hand crafted, unique, and beautiful. Thanks to the sellers mentioned for crafting such beautiful items!

So, if you are in the market for some beautiful baby or children's items, I would definitely recommend any of these sellers.