Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spring Farm Table Centerpiece: Rustic Herb Garden

     


     One of the many reasons I couldn't wait to own a farm table was to interchange centerpieces for the different seasons. I love perusing Pinterest for all kinds of different rustic, farmhouse decorating ideas. I fell in love with this idea I found, because I love seeing greenery around our farmhouse. It gives our space a fresh look. It's also super convenient, while cooking, to pluck fresh ingredients right from our very own, little herb garden on the table. 



     Let me be real frank here, I do not have a green thumb at all. I tried my hand at gardening a couple of years ago and had so much fun with my kiddos. We planted strawberries and tomatoes. We failed, miserably, at the strawberries, but the tomatoes were delicious!! It was so fun bringing something to life and then enjoying the fruits of our labor on a delicious summer salad. My goal for next year is to have our own, huge garden blooming with tons of fruits and veggies but, for now, we'll see if we can keep these herbs alive ha.



     This was actually a very inexpensive project. I found the rustic box and herb labels on Etsy but the mason jars are cheap and can be found at any local craft store and the herbs were only a few dollars each. I decided, this year, to buy already blooming herbs to see if I even liked the final product. Next year I will attempt to grow them, myself, from seeds.



     I'm so thrilled with the way it turned out. It's pretty to the eye and smells so fresh and delicious when enjoying our meals at the table. In my opinion, this was a total Pinterest win!




Monday, March 20, 2017

Kloverbox Review March 2017

     I apologize for the delay in posting. Our family had a very busy weekend and I've also been busy, preparing and editing my blog post for CT Working Moms which is due to be published on Thursday. I'm getting a little nervous. This brings back memories of a Public Speaking class I took while living over in Germany. My fear of speaking in front of others has diminished quite a bit since then, but it still gives me butterflies nonetheless. I think there's a natural fear of judgment in us all. We want to be liked and accepted by everyone but, in truth, it's impossible to please everybody...

     My Kloverbox arrived on Friday, St. Patrick's Day. It's timing was perfect due to this month's theme: Stop and Smell the Klovers. It was a sweet surprise after such a cold, snowy week. 



 
 
Harvey Prince - 8.8ml Sincerely Mini Roller - $23.00 this eco-conscious fragrance is cruelty-free, vegan and safe for even pregnant mamas! Stay enlightened with Sincerely; the scent that opens mind and awakens your senses. Exotic, inspiring, and full of surprises. Sincerely whisks you away from the day-to-day. Find out more about all the wonderful products at https://www.harveyprince.com use coupon code HPK40 for 40% off entire purchase, valid for 30 days.
 
*Absolutely love this perfume. Mine is not a roller, it's actually a spray and not very mini, in my opinion. The scent is fabulous, not overly floral, which I'm happy about and not overbearing either. I wore it this past weekend and love the scent.
 
Love Myself Organics - Forever Lavender Blend Natural Organic Deodorant - $11.95 Discover "Forever" the most clean, organic, and natural deodorant that actually works! Coconut oil based, aluminum free, vegan, all natural and organic deodorant that keeps you fresh all day! It's great for me, women, teens, and kids. Forever deodorant is a beautiful lavender blend, scented with essential oils to detox the body while soothing and calming the skin. Use KLOVERLOVE20 for 20% off in the month of March. Go to www.lovemyselforganics.com and check out all the different deodorants and perfumes!
 
*I have yet to try this deodorant yet, but it certainly smells amazing. I'm a sucker for lavender. However, I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to deodorants. Over the years, I've experimented with many different brands and only one has really worked best for me (Dove), so I'll be sure to come back and let you know my thoughts, once I've given this one a try.
 
 
Vag Magic - 7 count - $7.99 VagMagic is the fastest feminine care fix on the market - a concentrated, homeopathic, boric acid suppository system. Vag Magic can be used to treat and relieve symptoms of vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV). It's also intended for the general maintenance of vaginal pH. Eliminate unpleasant odor, relief from irritation, swelling, and infection, freshness without harmful douching! Vag Magic says "our mission is to make the world a fresher place by balancing its most delicate environment from the inside out." Find out more at www.vagmagic.com and use coupon code GETLUCKY for 17% off!
 
*...<hiding from pure embarrassment>...I am proud to say I have not had the need to test this product out and hope that I won't ever have to <continues to blush>...moving on...
 
 
Cuccio Somatology - Elixir Calming Spray - $8.95 This lavender and cardamom calming spray can refresh any room! The scent is relaxing and calming for a wonderful yoga experience or refreshment as a mid-day pick me up. This elixir spray can be used as a room spray or on a moist towel for a spa experience. Use coupon code KLOVERBOX25 for 25% off visit www.cucciosomatology.com and check out all the wonderful products Cuccio has to offer!
 
 
*Love this spray! I've been keeping it in the master bedroom and spritzing it every now and again. It's such a refreshing scent of lavender and may also help in relaxing us at the end of the day and providing us with good sleep.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From Farm to Table: Glazed Donuts

      Who in the world doesn't love donuts? If your hand is currently raised, just get out...please just leave now...only kidding, please stay, but know you've lost some bonus points with me ha.

     My kiddos and I love making homemade donuts together. It's a tradition that began with me, my mom, and sister many years ago. Memories made amongst clouds of powdered sugar and the sound of sticky giggles. Such a nice, sweet treat especially on a cold morning. Nothing brings you closer to someone than, together, stuffing your face with crap, right? Like I always say, everything in moderation.

     Yesterday we were estimated to get 16-22" of snow. I'm happy to announce that we didn't get anything close to the weatherman's estimation but we were still prepared...you know...just in case. I love to bake when the weather keeps us trapped inside. There is nothing better than blasting the tunes, shaking your rear, and making something delectable to pig out on in the cozy comfort of your flannel PJs. The kids and I actually slept in a bit and awoke with snowy excitement for our day ahead. Just as we made our way downstairs and I clicked on the Keurig, the sound of a dear friend's snow plow, ridding our driveway of the icy slush, quickly reminded me that people were out in this storm, risking their lives, for us and our community. I figured some homemade donuts would be a small way to show our appreciation. For the countless people out there who take time away from their own families, risking their lives for the betterment of others, without thinking twice, my family and I thank you.



      
 
 
 
 
Biscuit Dough Donuts Recipe
 
 
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 donuts + 8 donut holes
 
 
Ingredients
 
* Vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 tube Pillsbury biscuit dough
 
Directions
 
1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 inch of oil until it reaches 350 degrees F on a thermometer.
 
2. Place sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to remove lumps. Slowly stir in milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth glaze. Stir in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
 
3. Separate the biscuits and lay flat on a cutting board. Using a small, round cookie cutter, cut out a small circle from the center of each biscuit.
 
4. Cook the donuts in batches in the hot oil for about 1 minute per side, or until golden. Drain on a wire rack. Repeat with donut holes, but with less frying time.
 
5. While still warm, dip donuts in glaze, turning to coat completely. Return to wire rack and allow excess glaze to drip off. Eat while still warm.
 
* I choose to forego the donut holes by, instead, making a hole in the center of each biscuit with my fingers.
 
** A sweet twist on this recipe is, instead of using glaze, add cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar to individual brown lunch bags and after frying dough, place donut into the preferred bag of choice, give a little shake, and voila! Yummy cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar donuts. 
 
 
Enjoy my friends!!
 




Monday, March 13, 2017

My Middle Man

   


     I still remember, like it was yesterday, the absolute excitement and pure shock we experienced the second we found out we were expecting a baby boy. After the arrival of our daughter, Ken and I simply didn't think we would ever have a boy. As the ultrasound technician was moving the wand over my stomach, taking her required measurements, my eyes were glued to that screen. Nothing in this world could've forced my eyes away from my baby. That's the true magic in ultrasounds, to me; they're the first glimpse at my precious babies...even before I lay eyes on them in the flesh. That monitor allows me a tiny glimpse at the little person growing within me. 

     As I watched that tiny little baby, bouncing away, my eyes took in everything. The baby was literally a little jumping bean: somersaulting, kicking, and karate chopping away. I'd never seen anything like it before. My daughter was always a sleepy, lazy little thing in utero. Suddenly, my eyes saw something it hadn't noticed before...was that a third leg? Did my baby have 3 legs?!?!...Suddenly the sound of my own booming voice shook me from my confusion: "Is that a penis in my stomach?" The ultrasound technician laughed and confirmed what I saw. Benjamin Mark would be the first boy on my mom's side of the family in 75 years!! 

     That little boy was born on Easter Sunday March 31, 2013. He was the best Easter present we could've given our daughter; a precious baby brother. He is truly the light of my life. He has the most beautiful dimples and, let me tell you, when that kid flashes his award-winning smile, people swoon, literally swoon, over him. His hysterical sense of humor mimicks his father and I's; at times it's sarcastic, at other times gross, and sometimes it's just downright comical. 



     He's truly his mother's child. Besides looking so much like me, he also has such a kind, sweet, gentle side, as well. He inherited my sensitivity big time. Whenever I have to remind him to use his listening ears, walking feet, or gentle touches, he either bursts into tears or storms off to his room, leaving the words "I'm calling the po-lice on you, Mom!" in his wake. Go ahead, little man, you call the men in blue. A night in jail sans kids actually sounds like a mini-vacation ha! I'll take it. 

     I'm convinced that he's an old soul in a little boy's body. From the moment I laid eyes on him, he took my breath away. My Papa Jack (maternal grandfather) passed away before my children were ever given the chance to meet him, something I struggle with almost every day, and there was and always has been an undeniable resemblance between my first son and my Papa. He has his nose, mouth, and I truly believe he has his beautiful spirit. 



* His passions include all things physical: outdoor play, running, jumping, climbing, sports, riding bicycles, playing super heroes, hide-and-seek, and pretending to be a police officer. 

* He gets enjoyment out of playing jokes on people, smacking mom's behind (I wonder where he got that from...), action-packed shows and movies, and any and all emergency vehicles that fly by our house at any given time of day, sirens blaring.

* He's my food and animal lover, my cuddler, me and big sister's defender from all-that-is-daddy, my inquisitive one - curious about all but quite hesitant nonetheless, he's a people-pleaser, and, last but definitely not least, he's also my fearless wonder.

* He's extremely easy to please; there's not much he doesn't like or care for. He has a deep love for his family, his siblings, his friends (don't let the wrestling and fighting fool you), his teachers, and his puppy (the nearly unrecognizable dog blankie he became attached to when he was a baby).

     Although he's only going to be 4 in a few short weeks, he's truly his own person already. I love, with all of my being, every little thing that makes him Benjamin and I feel truly blessed that I was given the role of being his mommy ❤

Friday, March 10, 2017

From Farm to Table: Quinoa, Beet, and Arugula Salad

     I. Love. Salads. I know, I know...for a child that wasn't too fond of her veggies, I can understand how this may have come as a bit of a shock to you, but what can I say? I've grown up and salads are my favorite! Two of my babies are huge salad fans as well so one of my favorite things to do, at the beginning of the week, is to make a gargantuan salad for the 3 of us to pick at every day. By reserving the dressing until you're ready to eat a portion it, the salad remains fresher for a longer period of time. 

     With Spring and Summer fast approaching, it's always nice to have some salad recipes set aside for BBQs, picnics, or as a side dish for those mouthwatering steaks on the grill. Salads are also easy to pack up for a day spent at the beach or park. This particular salad did take a little time to make, but it sure was delicious! I'll most definitely be making this one again. 

     Keep in mind that when working with beets, their juice can sometimes stain certain items so just be careful, in that regard. Also, beets sometimes have the ability to change the color of one's urine, making it a slightly pinkish-reddish color; resembling that of blood. Do not panic! I had a mini freak-out, thinking there might've been something wrong with me...there wasn't, it was just the beets. 

 
 
 
Quinoa, Beet, and Arugula Salad
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 35 minutes
 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
 
* 1/2 pound beets, peeled and sliced
* 1 cup red quinoa
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
* 1 clove garlic, crushed
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 2 green onions, sliced
* 3 ounces arugula, chopped
* 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
 
Directions
 
1. Place a steamer insert into a saucepan, and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Cover pan and bring the water to a boil. Add beets, cover pan, and steam until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
 
2. Bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce to heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
 
3. While the quinoa is cooking, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, and black pepper together in a large bowl.
 
4. Remove the quinoa from heat, then immediately add half of the vinegar dressing while fluffing the quinoa with a fork; reserve remaining dressing. Cover and refrigerate quinoa until cool, at least 1 hour.
 
5. Stir green onions, arugula, goat cheese, beets, and remaining dressing into cooled quinoa mixture. Toss lightly before serving.
 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Thirty Third Year

 
 











In honor of my birthday, I thought I'd answer 10 thought-provoking questions about myself. Here goes nothing: 



1. What's one thing you'd like to change about yourself? 


Believe it or not, I hate my curly hair! Ever since I was old enough to do my own hair, I wished it was straight. My hair is so thick and at it's current length it takes me 1-2 hours to straighten it by myself. As a mom of 3, I just really have no time for that. I need easy hair that I can just wash and go. I can't really do that with mine unless I want to walk around looking like Mufasa from Lion King...which I'd rather not.


2. What parent are you closer to and why? 


Growing up, my dad and I were not close at all. Back then, he did a lot of traveling while he served in the United States Air Force. His longest tours, lasting a year at a time, all occurred at times in my life when I needed him the most (my adolescent and teen years), driving a bit of a wedge between the two of us, which in turn, led to the unbreakable bond between my mom and I. Since getting married and having kids, however, I've grown to appreciate my dad so much for everything he's done for me, our family, and our country. We've grown a lot closer over the course of the last few years and, for that, I'm eternally grateful. So, in answer to this question, I can happily say, I'm very close to them both.


3. Who is that one person you can talk to about anything? 


My sister, hands down. I know what you must be thinking...yes, I'm very close to my husband as well and we do talk about a lot, but my sister...she's my whole life. She truly knows me, inside and out, like no one else does. She's seen me through all of the good and all of the bad. We read each other's minds and finish each other's sentences. There's no one in this world that comes close to her ❤


4. Do you believe in second chances? 


Absolutely! Mistakes are a part of life. People change. I'm most certainly not the same person I was 10 years ago or even 1 year ago for that matter. We're all human. 


5. When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush? 


During the deliveries of each of my babies. Each was a natural high for me. Nothing in my life has compared to the first moments I held my beautiful babies in my hands and glimpsed their sweet faces for the very first time. If money and space weren't an issue, I'd just keeping popping out kids, for this exact reason alone ha!


6. What is the craziest thing you've ever done and would you do it again? 


I'd have to say...my one and only tattoo that I got when I was 18 has to be one of the craziest things I've ever done. Yeah yeah, probably not too adventurous to some of you, but you have to truly know my dad in order to understand the enormity of such a decision. He was pissed, to say the least, and honestly, I don't blame him for being upset. It's the most meaningless tattoo ever. I wish I would've been more patient and waited to do something that had a lot more meaning behind it. I've been wanting to get a few more in honor of my babies. Whether or not I follow through with this idea, only time will tell...


7. What do you think about when you're by yourself? 


What don't I think about!! Ha! What am I packing the kids for snack/lunch tomorrow? What should I put on that wall in the sun room? What's on TV tonight? Did I take the meat out of the freezer for dinner? Where did I put that important form?...Needless to say, my mind never rests.


8. What are your 3 biggest life goals right now? 


My 3 biggest life goals?....As of right now?....hmmm...1. To finish everything with the house so I can sit back and enjoy my hard work. Everywhere I look, right now, I see a new project that needs to be done. I'm so eager for everyone to see the finished product, my vision. 2. To continue nurturing, teaching, and raising our children to be kind, hard-working, loyal, trustworthy contributors to this world. There will never be a day that I won't worry about them. There will never be a day that I stop teaching them. There will never be a day that they stop teaching me. As chaotic, frenzied, rushed, and frustrating as motherhood can most often be, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I just want my babies to be genuinely good people. 3. My dream bed & breakfast. Since the age of 12, I've always wanted to own a B&B. Once we're empty-nesters, mark my words, this will be happening, but until then, a girl can dream ๐Ÿ˜Š


9. What are you scared of? 


Death. In all forms. My children, my husband, my parents, my sister, my family, my friends, our dog, myself. Death...it utterly terrifies me. I don't handle loss very well at all. I also can't fathom the idea of never getting to see my children grow up...๐Ÿ’”


10. If you had the opportunity to spend a year in another country, where would you go?


 Easy! Italy. Ken and I spent an amazing week there for our first anniversary and I'd move there in a heartbeat. It is so beautiful and romantic. I'd want an apartment along one of the canals in Venice. During a gondola ride, while we were visiting, I just couldn't stop admiring the gorgeous balconies of some of these secluded, private apartments. The people that resided in these quaint places either had their laundry hanging over the banister to dry or had stunning flowers blooming on a table. I couldn't help but daydream about relaxing in a chair on one of these balconies, enjoying a good book while sipping on my coffe, and people-watching. That'd be the life ❤






Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Our Rustic Entryway Table

     


     I'm all about first impressions. I truly believe they're so important in our culture. So many of our own opinions and decisions are based on that one, instantaneous moment. However, that statement coming from me is a tad contradictory, considering I spend about 340 days a year in yoga pants and t-shirts. Go ahead, I'll wait, do the math...yes, that leaves maaaaaaybe 25 Saturdays a year that I actually put effort into my outfit, depending on the events of that given day. Judge all you want, it's fine...at least I'm comfy.

     So since I run a business from my home, I have a lot of people coming and going throughout the week. It may be for this reason, as well, that I put forth more effort in the appearance of my house compared to your average Joe. Considering I am a licensed and insured family child care provider, I'm also subjected to annual pop-in inspections, so a nice, clean, organized home is a must for our family and our livelihood. 



     I originally found this rustic entryway table in several pins on Pinterest. I fell in love and had to have it. With a little digging, I was able to locate the couple on Etsy. They make and sell these tables along with many other rustic pieces. They very kindly informed me that they were backed up, by several weeks, with several other customized orders, but there was no rush on my end so I submitted my order. This was back in November. They weren't kidding about the wait...nearly 4 months later and our beautiful table was finally delivered. I'd have to say that this was the only downfall to this particular seller, otherwise, they were very kind and timely in their communication. They also sent me updates and pictures throughout my wait. 

     Many of you have commented on my decorating skills, but I must be completely honest with you...it's all Pinterest <shhhhhh, there's no need to tell the world>. With this particular piece, I pinned several different Farmhouse entryway table set-ups, decided on the one I liked best, then attempted to replicate it the best I could:




* I found the wire basket at Target. 

* You already know how much I love decorative blankets, so I very nicely incorporated one of them and a throw pillow into the basket. 

* I have tons of framed pictures from our old house, so I selected a few that I thought looked best on the table.

* I found a lamp I loved at Pier 1.

* I found the galvanized milk jug and decorative rope knots on Zulily.

* Finally, I found the "hello" sign and cotton on Etsy. I think the cotton is my favorite part. I felt so Joanna Gaines-y when I added the cotton to the jug ha!

Super easy!! I love these kinds of things. If you or anyone you know needs help in replicating an idea, message me! I would love to help ๐Ÿ˜Š




Monday, March 6, 2017

Expanding My Horizons

     I received an unexpected message this weekend that totally caught me by surprise. I have been asked to be a guest blogger for the CT Working Moms' website (www.ctworkingmoms.com). I feel so honored and taken aback by this offer and I, obviously, accepted it instantly.



     I never really had a goal or purpose in mind when I started my blog less than a month ago. I simply wanted to share our story with the world. For those that were interested, great, and for those that weren't, that was fine too. I wanted and needed an outlet for myself, to share my ideas and stories, and that's exactly what my blog has done for me. The fact that people are interested in hearing my thoughts on a more professional level, however, just blows my mind and, honestly, means so much to me.

     I will begin by writing posts for them once a month, as a guest blogger. After the 3 month trial period, if it's working for both parties, I will then become a permanent writer on their site with the flexibility to add more posts to my schedule, if I so choose. I think that's a completely achievable plan, for now, so we'll see how it pans out. For this site, I plan to post more about business ownership and the work-from-home and family balance, as their page is more or less dedicated to working moms. If that's something that interests you, please go check out their website and familiarize with the other writers; there is some truly amazing work on there. My first post will be scheduled to go public on March 24th. I'll be sure to post it to FB, as well, so you won't miss it. 

     I now want to take this opportunity, yet again, to thank everyone out there who has supported me in this new venture. Your belief in me has gotten me so far in such a short amount of time. Like I said before, this blog wouldn't be a blog without each and every one of you and, for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! 


     As a way to show my appreciation, I will be entering each and every one of you into a drawing for a $20 gift card of your choice. Every like to my FB page (Rollo Family Farmhouse) will get an entry, every follower for my website (www.rollofamilyfarmhouse.com) will get an entry, and every share, on FB, of my page/website will get an entry. Once my FB page reaches 250 likes (57 left to go), I will be pulling a name at random. It's the least I can do to show you how much I truly value your support and feedback. Thank you all again!

Good luck ๐Ÿ€ 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Rollo Family General Store: Step Stool

   


     Step stools are a necessity around these parts. With 3 young children and high storage spaces, they are a definite must-have for us. After our move, I began cringing at the multi-colored, plastic step stools, we'd collected over the years, that were scattered around the house. Such eye-sores, they had to go. So began my search for something more rustic and appealing. A few days later, as I was perusing Zulily* my eyes landed on the exact step stool I had been envisioning. It was adorable and perfect! It was $32.94, shipping included. It arrived a few weeks later and looked beautiful in one of our newly renovated bathrooms. The kids predominantly use it for brushing their teeth but I also find myself sitting on it when I give the kiddos baths, so I'd say it's also super functional as well... 

     ...that is until one evening, about a month after receiving the stool, it literally collapsed beneath my derriรจre. One minute I was lathering the baby's head with shampoo and the next minute I was sprawled across the bathroom floor. My husband had the laugh of his life. Needless to say, the quality of that stool wasn't quite up to the Rollo standards by any means. Ken quickly ran the broken stool down to his basement workshop and returned exactly 20 minutes later with not only the fixed, reinforced stool, but with an exact replica he whipped up out of nowhere. Looking at the pictures, I bet you'd never guess whose is whose, but I will say that the quality of Ken's work far exceeds that of the Zulily stool. 




This stool is $20 with free local pick-up/delivery. It can also be customized to your liking. 

*If you've never heard of Zulily, please check it out. They offer a wide variety of items at amazing prices including clothing for men, women, and children, toys, household items, and bedding just to name a few. Their customer service and return policy are amazing as well. When people ask me where I shop the most, Zulily makes my Top 3!




General Store Hours

Saturday & Sunday 9am-4pm (Spring - Fall; closed during the winter to re-stock 
inventory)

Available by phone, text, or private messages 24/7
203.615.2599

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We Met in a Bar

To the cute stranger I met 13 years ago...

 

     Where do I even begin? Why don't I start on the very night we met...New Year's Eve (December 31, 2003). I was 19 years old, had just moved to Germany a little over a year before, was in school and worked full-time, and was having the time of my life with my new friends. Meeting someone I was destined to spend the rest of my life with was the absolute last thing on my mind, but I suppose: "Some of the best things in life appear when you least expect them," right?

     My friends and I decided to stay on post and ring in the new year at a military bar. My sweet friend, Katie, and I had spent weeks leading up to that night and hours that entire day perfecting our outfits, hairstyles, and make-up. Not to toot my own horn, but I looked damn good lol. The bar had gone to great lengths with their decorations and the hiring of an incredible band that was favorited by so many of us on the base. The party was under way. 

     I think it's important to add that I'd known Katie and her husband, Tom, for about a year, at this point. I met Katie at school; we took several college classes together and we'd hit it off instantly. They were both originally from Michigan and it's funny how, when you're that far away from home, friends no matter how new they may be, become your new "family." I had no clue at that time, how much her companionship would mean to me over the course of the next year, but we were going to be leaning on each other a lot; she was going to be my rock during some really difficult times...homesickness plus a husband with a very dangerous, military position can truly be such a scary and distressing mix. To this day, I'm so grateful to her for her devoted friendship and company.

     On this night, however, neither of us had a care in the world. It was time to party and around 10:30pm, the alcohol was flowing*, music was blaring, and Katie and I were breaking it down on the dance floor when you and another guy I didn't recognize, came into the bar and sat down at our table. I was under the impression that I'd met all of Tom's friends, but clearly I was mistaken. During the band's next intermission, Katie and I returned to the table to replenish our drinks and chat with our friends. No sooner had I sat down, then you got up from the other end of the table, walked over to my seat, introduced yourself, and asked if you could sit down next to me. For the next hour, all we did was talk and laugh. There was no playing hard to get, we were both extremely curious about one another and neither of us were shy about asking questions and revealing answers. You finally asked me to dance and then you stole a kiss from me as we rang in 2004. 

     Had you told me at that exact moment that within 5 months, I'd legally be changing my last name, I would've slapped you silly. Had you told me that 12 years from then we would have 3 beautiful babies, I would've called you crazy. It may not have been all glitz and glamour but it was certainly one of the best nights of my life. You drove me home later that night, we exchanged phone numbers, and you called me the very next day and asked me out on our first official date. We were practically inseparable from that day forward. 

     We haven't always had it easy, considering we fell in love and married so young and quick, but my life truly changed that night in Stuttgart, Germany. You bring out qualities in me that no one else ever has. We have a unique and quirky sense of humor that sometimes only you and I understand. Our personalities and interests couldn't be any more different, allowing our relationship to remain exciting and ever-changing. You challenge me at times, while also setting my heart afire. Your sarcastic, managerial disposition makes me want to smack you at times, but your unwavering love and over-protective demeanor are your most redeeming qualities. 

     When I look into our children's eyes, all I see is you and I just wanted you to know, I feel so lucky to have found you.

Love,
Your Poptart

 


 
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen...we met in a bar ha!

*The legal drinking age, in Germany back in 2004, was 16. 

To be continued...

Friday, March 3, 2017

From Farm to Table: Spaghetti Squash Primavera

     


     It's so funny, because as a young girl, I hated vegetables. My parents tried anything and everything to get me to eat my leafy greens, including pouring melted cheese over my broccoli. "Just one bite," they'd persuade me. Blech! Fine...I'd take one, tiny, minuscule bite to appease them and be done. I'd slowly lift that fork to my mouth and take the teensiest of bites from that cheddar-drenched piece of broccoli. No sooner had it hit my tongue, springing my tastebuds to life, then the gagging ensued, sometimes to be followed by a slight regurgitation. Oh, the drama surrounding a prepubescent child. My parents would whisk me away from the table as quickly as they could to avoid the onslaught of puke that sometimes follows a regurgitation. Whew! Safe from eating those disgusting veggies once again...

     Twenty five years later...and I absolutely love vegetables ha! I typically prefer them oven-roasted but will eat them however they're prepared; popping them like candy. I have two children that will eat them as well, but I also have one that absolutely refuses..."disgusting" is her word of choice, to be exact. Karma is a real bitch. I'm truly raising a miniature version of myself. Sometimes I have to find alternate...<ahem sneaky>...ways to get them into her diet. Being that my husband is predominantly Italian, we eat a lot of pasta around here. Trying to disguise vegetables as spaghetti noodles was my motive behind this meal. Unfortunately, only one out of my three loved this as much I did, but that certainly won't stop me from making it again. It was healthy, fresh, and super tasty!

     I'm excited, because once spring rolls around, we plan to tend to our yard and property, learn about what is already planted and growing out there, and begin preparations for our own garden. It'll be so much fun to be able to walk out to our own, homegrown vegetables, pick what we want, and toss it together in recipes like the one to follow.

Bon appetit, my friends!


Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

* 1 spaghetti squash
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 1 large zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1 green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
* fresh ground black pepper, to taste
* 1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
* 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

1. Pierce the shell of the spaghetti squash with a fork and place in a microwave-safe dish; cook in microwave on High for 12 minutes. Set aside to cook until cool enough to handle. Slice in half lengthwise; remove the seeds. Use a fork to pull the flesh of the squash away from the shell and place into a large bowl; fluff with the fork to separate the strands as much as possible.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the hot oil until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking and stirring another 3 minutes. Stir the zucchini and green bell pepper into the mixture; season with the Italian herb seasoning and black pepper. Pour the tomatoes into the skillet. Continue cooking just until the tomatoes are warmed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the squash to the skillet and toss until evenly mixed. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and toss again and serve.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Peaches & Petals Review February 2017

     Who doesn't love gifts? A nice surprise to open amidst a crazy week always makes one feel better, right? Along with my Kloverbox subscription, Peaches & Petals was the other box I subscribed to back in January, to treat myself. This actually reminds me of a funny story I have from when I was younger. 

     First of all, I love receiving presents. It's not about the item per se, it's more about the fact that someone put time, effort, and thought into picking something out for me or making something special they knew I'd like and enjoy...but when I was younger, it was a totally different story, let's get real. I spent 365 days a year dreaming, breathing, and thinking about Christmas and planning my wish list. Spoiled brat? Maybe a little. I was also an incredibly impatient child. I HAD TO KNOW what was wrapped, so beautifully for me, below that Christmas tree!! The anticipation would kill me. Throughout the month of December, my mom would wrap the gifts as she bought them and would place them beneath the tree. I think her intention, in doing it this way, was that if it was wrapped and under the tree, it was somehow considered "safe." If they weren't wrapped, then her daughters could potentially find their gifts and <gasp> ruin the surprise before the big day...oh mom, I was always one step ahead of you...

     I remember a distinct night in December, when I was 12. It was the night of my dad's holiday party for work and I was left to care for my little sister who was 8 at the time. "Be good, girls, and lock up behind us," they said as they kissed us goodbye and walked out the front door. No sooner had I snapped that lock in place than I raced over to the already-wrapped gifts, eyes wide with excitement. The only big ticket item I had asked for that year was a Discman and I knew that would most likely come from Santa, so I considered the other things I'd asked for...I had a very special doll back then, my Bitty Baby, whose name was Amanda*. Everything I'd asked for pretty much revolved around outfits and accessories for her so I was assuming that's what was in one of the boxes before me. I ever so carefully began pulling the tape away from the paper. This took serious precision. After what felt like an eternity, I was able to slide the box out of the wrapping, keeping the paper intact. Yes!!!! I was right! It was stuff for my doll. I opened the box and admired her new outfits and toys and then I very carefully put everything back into the box and slid the box back into the wrapping paper, replacing and securing the tape I had pulled away just minutes earlier. Whew! My heart was racing but now it was over and I would no longer die from anticipation.

     Thinking back on this story, I realize the only person I hurt, by opening my presents early, was myself. Christmas isn't about gifts and it most certainly isn't about secretly and greedily opening them weeks before the big day, it's about family and time spent together, it's laughing and good food and being thankful for all we have, especially each other. Now that I have children of my own, I also realize I stole the joy from my parents in witnessing my reaction to the treasures they'd chosen for me. Isn't that the best part of being a parent on Christmas morning? Witnessing the magic of Christmas through your children's eyes? I'm sorry Mom, I definitely learned my lesson.

*Yes, I'm fully aware I was 12 years old and still playing with dolls. Go ahead and laugh but it could've been worse, ya know...

Now, for the review:


 
 
WILTON HEART COOKIE PAN
 
Make your favorite sugar cookies or candy in this heart shaped pan complete with a designated spot for lollipop sticks! Just put the stick in, bake, and decorate for the perfect cookie pop.
 
*Love this! As most of you know by now, I love to bake so anything that can bring more creativity and fun to an already awesome activity, is perfect for me and my kiddos. They'll love cookie pops. I'll be sure to write a post and include pictures when we use this pan.
 
BATH BOMB
 
Spend a little time on you! Soak in the love with these amazing smelling bath bombs! Watch them dissolve and melt your cares away!
 
*My daughter and I love bath bombs, so this is a win-win for the Rollo girls. The bath bomb I received is a pretty blue and pink color and is called Blue Skies. It has a very fresh, clean laundry-like scent to it. Can't wait to use it!
 
TAKE A PIZZA MY HEART COASTERS
 
Let's be real...pizza stole all of our hearts from day one! It was true love at first bite! So with your next pizza rendezvous, add a cold beverage and use this adorable coaster to show the world how much you care!
 
*These are freaking adorable! It only came with two coasters, instead of four, which is my only complaint with careless children running about ha! I think I'll store these away until our sun room is complete. These'll add that perfect touch.
 
SPRIGS HOT COLLAR NECK WARMER


Stay warm and cozy without the bulk of a traditional scarf! Whether you are hitting the slopes on a skiing adventure, or just running errands on a cold day, this is the perfect accessory!

*Let's be real, I'm most certainly not hitting the slopes, but being from Tucson, anything to keep me warm during these cold, New England winters is a plus in my book! Love cute accessories like this one. It's definitely cozy!

LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD: 206 BEAUTY AND FITNESS SECRETS BOOK

Looking for quick, easy, and affordable ways to bring a little luxury and pampering into your life? This book has hundreds of wellness and beauty treatments to show yourself a little love!

*This is a really nice quality book. Then you throw in the words "affordable" and "pamper" and this momma is hooked. I have yet to use it, but I have skimmed through and  I look forward to treating myself.