Thursday, February 23, 2017

Summer Time Family Fun with Fried Dough

Join our family fun with some Fried Dough "Crostelle"! 
Produced & Directed 8/2017

(all my little Italians, click on that small square on the right hand bottom of video above to make screen bigger while watching! Don't worry, we gotchya!)

It was party time, celebrating my beautiful nieces birthdays as they were home for their summer visit from Virginia.  It's  our chance to be with them enjoying a gorgeous day and special family fun together.  Mom & Dad got the house ready, my sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles brought the families with hungry tummies, Aunt Clara brought the dough and I brought the Camera Man!! Haha, that would be my hubby of course, but with all these components, we couldn't resist but to have a little video fun together while the kids "frolicked to and fro" haha!! So enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed celebrating!  And Happy Birthday my beautiful-fun-loving angels, Zoe (12), Layla (8) & Emery (7). (Stay tuned they may be hosting a Cake-Bake-Off soon!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Embracing Breakfast; Just. Be.

Betch'ya thought I was going to give tips on a hearty healthy kick start breakfast?!  Nope, sorry but I am going to share an even better chat...

Monday mornings; starting off after a busy weekend of the usual crazy schedules, family-friend-fun and yes, time with one another that we don't get often.  Mondays are just tough getting up and back in routine but for most work places, its chaos and tons to "catch up on" because technically, the world still carries on Saturday and Sunday.  Anyways, Mondays...

Mia was so excited for this Monday counting down the days till her Opera for the Young performance and I was just ecstatic to see her pride and joy in preparing for this fun event at her school.  I was even more excited to see hubby was able to take the time to join us.  The kids got off to school and hubby and I took advantage of the free morning to go out for breakfast before Mia's school performance.

I knew it was hard for hubby to take this time off and as much as he tries to be in the moment work still consumes him. He's great at what he does and if there were more of him, well, we'd have some even more amazing kids in this world all together.  We went for breakfast at my girlfriends restaurant. They are quick, fast, delicious & close to the school so it was a perfect stop.  As always, she greets me with a hug and smile and family chat while seating us.  Coffee was immediately served and the usual customers followed behind us one by one keeping her greeting and seating them. Usual, I mention, because she knew everyone walking in.  So sweet & I felt very lucky and blessed that hubby and I were able to steal a little time away together at this popular spot.

My hubby quickly found his way to his phone already with his mind on what he was missing while away from work.  I caught on quickly that a little chat for him was more distracting than helpful.  I went to grab my own phone to see the time and wanted to get caught up on my phone as well, but so pointless I thought.  He has way bigger issues on that little gadget than I do that's for sure.  I put my own down, and began my people watching, trying to relax my minds gazillion thoughts.  I found my glance towards Zana.  That is who my sweet, kind friend is.  She amazed me.  A mother of 2, both busy, full time working family and as she's racing back and forth of breakfast hungry customers, the smile on her face was permanent and her kindness radiated through the entire restaurant.  As I resisted my choice to be irritated with not embracing this moment with my hubby, I found myself embracing the beauty all around me.  I quickly found myself filling my cup with smiles and inner positive thoughts of what I was learning from watching Zana.

She was quickly moving from table to table, taking orders, seating customers, serving breakfast to everyone she seated and most importantly, addressing each of them by name, with hugs, smiles and conversations all while working at her very best in every action.  This was her lifestyle, this was her family and this was her joy.  Such an amazing woman.  Customers asked her about her weekend, how her visit with family was, how her kids are, etc. & she replies and quickly returns with making it about them all while completing her work task at hand. Such a sweet sweet soul she is.  Whatever goes on outside of these "working" hours for her, it was at the moment she lives in and people left satisfied and happy because of the kind, quick and nurturing atmosphere she had her friends walking into.  With this much joy, she barely calls it "work".  Her & I both laughed earlier at my comment of "Zana, you have a breakfast club with a bunch of friends every morning!"

I looked back at my husband, this is what he feels when he is at work, fulfilling others the best he can using his gift to embrace his life of work. Our breakfast was served, satisfied deliciousness, and service was complete.  I was anxious to get to the school.  I thanked Zana for another great breakfast experience at her restaurant and admired all of her for finding such joy and doing it with great perfection impacting each person that walked in and out of that restaurant door.  She was the family owner that went above and beyond in all said and done.

We went to the school and watched Mia and her classmates entertain their school with their talents. I'm always so grateful to all the teachers and staff and all they say and do each day with our children. I found joy in watching hubby take out his phone only to take pictures of our daughter we were so proud of. He had embraced the most special moment of our morning and wanted to capture all of our Mia in photos. The performance ended, more photos were taken (of course!) and before we could say a goodbye, we find hubby rushing off to work. Sad right? No, he took the time to be where it mattered most, with our daughter, embraced the moment with her and quickly got back to where he was needed even more.  I'm grateful for his amazing work ethic and love for our four children, heart & soul, in all he does each day.  Giving our family his all.

Take the small moments in life and embrace it no matter where you are and do the best in all you do. Do all you can to continue making the "best version of you" each day.   It's not about perfection, its about joy & fulfillment. Every action you make in every minute is a choice on how YOU decide to feel. Embrace the beauty around you and take in every living, breathing, moment of it.  All of it is for YOU and you choose to do whatever you'd like with it.  Do it the "Zana-Way" and find joy and happiness in all the moments of your life appreciating every soul that appears in front of you. #BeBlessed

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cake Pops! Cake Pops! Cake Pops!

We love making our Cake Pops to share with friends, family, classrooms and even special party treats!  Cake Pop Production definitely goes into full effect when it comes to Valentines Day at this house!  Let those adorable cuties of yours take full participation in making each one with their special touch, that's the fun part!!!  Thanks to our dear friend Abbey that gave us the original and simple way to make them, perfecting it with a different recipe every time!! No special "Cake Pop Baker" needed!! Keep it super simple, fun, and as less dishes possible for clean up!!

Ingredients (all depending on what flavor cake pops you'd like!):  

The following ingredients make an average of 100 Cake Pops (Smaller than Ping Pong Ball Size).  Play around with recipe and sizes of cake pops as you like. 

Dishes: 1 Large Bowl, 2 13 x 18 Sheet Pans, 1 Measuring Glass Bowl
(4 Cups is easiest)

2 Cake Mixes with ingredients from box; eggs, water, oil.
1 16 oz. tub of frosting,
4 12 oz. bags of  "Melts" or
2 12 oz. bags of "Melts" & 2 bags of Chocolate Chips
Mini Clear Craft Bags (#50 at Walmart or #200 at Michaels)
100 Stix/ Straws (cut in half if they are straw-like from $1 store or use short/tall white stix from Walmart/Michaels whatever look you are going for.  I stock up on the straw sales and cut straws in half to save $ and they still look great & colorful.)

1. Prepare both Cake Mixes as directed on box.  Bake in a 9 x 13 OR 13 x 18 pan.
2. Take COOKED Cake out of oven, let cool. Cut in large pieces and put in large mixing bowl.
3. Put entire tub of frosting into bowl with cooked cake. Mix together until "playdoh" like.
4. Roll into individual balls on 13 x 18 pan (easier to clean when using wax paper on sheet.  I roll into 40 balls to a sheet, (8 x 5 give or take), with different sizes of little hands rolling with me!
5.  Use Glass Measuring Cup to melt Chocolates/ Chips in microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring with butter knife in between and repeating until smooth.  May add a tsp. of grapeseed oil for shine!
6.  Dip tips of straws into chocolate, then place straight into prepared dough. I tell the kids its the glue to keep the straws in the ball when completely dipping for later.  You only need enough chocolate on the tip of the straw to hold/freeze into the ball.  If this is not done, the balls will fall off stick when dipping!! VIP!
7. Put the pan of 'naked' cake pops in the Freezer. Then prepare a 2nd Sheet the same way.
8.  When the 2nd cookie sheet is done, all rolled and stix placed into dough, take out sheet #1 from freezer & replace with sheet #2.
9.  Now you are ready to dip & swirl!  You may need to melt more chocolates in microwave as you go along.  Gently use the side of your glass measuring cup to scrap any extra chocolate dripping from cake pop so its not wasted all onto the bottom of the cake pop pan & Balls won't fall off stick from being too heavy!!
10.  "Sprinkle" as desired every 3-4 frosted cake pops.  The chocolate dries fast so the sooner you sprinkle, the better the sprinkles stay on!

There are your 10 steps (way easier once you get the hang of it)!  Feel free to wrap each one in the clear plastic bags as we've done for special parties with a colorful swirled ribbon or place in an upside down cake cover to send with your cuties as a class treat!  My sister wrapped up a green flower foam square and put the stix in standing up looking like a cake pop garden and easy to distribute or display on a sweets table too!  Here is just some Cake Pop Fun my kiddos and I have had and some different flavors we've tried!

*Use different colored Melts and mix and match with chocolate chips. I always did whatever was cheaper even mixing chocolate chips with melts too or putting colored dyed in frosting or white cake mix.  Play around for your desired look!*

*White Cake with Cookies & Cream Frosting & White Chocolate Chip Dipping. (adding some crushed Oreos into above mix!)
*Chocolate Cake with Red Velvet Frosting & Chocolate Dipping.
*Rainbow Chip Cake with White Whipped Frosting & White/ Hot Pink Melts.
*Yellow Cake, White Whipped Frosting & Chocolate Chips Dipping.
*Red Velvet Cake Mix with Chocolate Frosting & Choco Dipping.


Love, Mia, Julia, Maximus & Their Mom, Me ;) !!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fuel it up or Drain it out!

Energy vs. Time with Matthew Kelly


Great clip right?! A little refresher on what most of us already know??

I was always so quick to say, "we all have the same amount of time, its how we manage it", and most of the women I know manage their schedules pretty tight filling every second of the day with maybe a quick bathroom break.  This was the assumption of, "everyone will make the time to do whatever they'd like, it was about adjusting priorities".  Every minute accounted for anything, and everything we choose to do, need to do, want to do.  Except when we completely crash of exhaustion and our crazy schedules catch up with us.  That is when we find everything is put on the back burner because we don't feel good or are just. completely. wiped. out.

Time IS so important and managing it tightly is even more important!! But this next 6 minute clip is great for reminding us that without "energy" time is nothing.  Energy comes first and we hear it time and time again on making our women's health a priority in our life first.  Make decisions that will fuel our own energy and our own time. Will that brief moment of satisfaction fuel our energy for the day or fuel our satisfaction for that one moment?  Decisions, words, actions, all that we make a choice to do and say will either fuel us or drain us. 

The amount of time that we all have the same of,  is not the same quality of time considering our daily actions. Chips or Fruit? TV or Walk? Gossip about the ones that drain us or focus on the ones that love us? Stay up all night or get to bed early?  Sleep!! That includes the sleep your body needs (for all you new moms out there taking advantage of house chores when that beautiful baby of yours is sleeping, you need sleep too). Drink plenty of water, get your sleep and always keep your health first so you have the "energy" you and your family needs to get through your day.  Just always remember Fuel or Drain

I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I did by Matthew Kelly.   Make it a daily reminder to fuel your energy even more so than managing your time.  I sure needed to hear this and couldn't wait to share it with you!(please focus on his point of fueling your energy, not his voice, haha! ;))

Thursday, February 9, 2017

#50ShadesDarker Thumbs UP!

Thank you to Ryan Jay Reviews, my girlfriend, Liz and I got a sneak preview of this exciting movie that we've been waiting TWO YEARS to see since the first 50 Shades of Grey 2015!!! This trilogy written by E.L. James came to theaters after amazing book reviews and fans couldn't be more ecstatic to see the domineering Christian Grey come to life with the flawless and at-first-timid Anastasia Steele.  Before anything else...The soundtrack is a MUST HAVE without a doubt!

 #50ShadesDarker, had us giddy at the end of it, feeling the love and excitement that everyone feels when they first fall in love themselves and yes, maybe even blush a little...ok alot!  Christian finds his way back into Ana's heart as Ana finds her way to be "completely" in his after a difficult past that she wants to be let in on. This time Ana feels Christian has changed his ways, until one haunting moment he is forced back to do what he is trying to put behind him and be called "master" without choice.   Growing up in a difficult past had him dealing with it dangerously.
Liz, Ryan Jay & Connie

With having read the books so long ago, there were still some surprises that had you in tears and joy all at the same time wanting these two to be forever together.  Grey's brother and sister had a small part in this film but no disappointment, considering you didn't feel the connection on screen with either of them.  (The book is always better in this case getting more of a Grey Family Feel with the siblings!) Grace, "mother", played by the talented Marcia Gay Harden, was played perfectly with the beautiful Kim Basinger as "Elena".  Both of these ladies brought everything right from the book onto the screen and you wanted more of them in the opposite ways they showed to "protect" their Christian helping him move forward from his past.

Sneak Preview before Movie released!
What else did you want more of...MR.CHRISTIAN GREY!! #LoveIsLoveIsLove!  Watching him do whatever it takes to keep his Ana and how he rids of all boundaries to let her in completely makes your heart melt wanting to fall in love with innocence all over again (well, for me and my own handsome hubby of course)! Ana is whitty and funny and stronger than ever in this film allowing Christian to be in her life with mutual agreements of "many".  Neither one giving nor taking more but both all in together.

Love conquers all! No secrets & no rules this time around with Christian and Ana make it funny, loving, steamy hot, protective and empowering to never doubt your talents and be ready for the opportunity (career wise, you kinky minds out there!)  Don't miss it this Valentines Day, definitely better than the first and a must-see for every 50/E.L. Fan out there!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Resisting Happiness" by Matthew Kelly

Join Julia and I on our journey reading, "Resisting Happiness" written by Matthew Kelly with our 7 Series Videos, just click below, smile & enjoy:
#1 of 7 Resisting Happiness Intro
#2 of 7 Resisting Happiness Chapters 1-6
#3 of 7 Resisting Happiness Chapters 7-12
#4 of 7 Resisting Happiness Chapters 13-18

As we find ourselves becoming professional taxi drivers & serious fans of keeping up with our kids crazy schedules and driving them from one place to the next each day, we also find ourselves taking the time to talk with friends old and new all while our kids become involved in many of the same school and sports activities.

We may not know this at the time,  but its the season while our kids are growing with their group of friends and we find ourselves growing with the parents of those friends!  As our kids grow together as neighborhood friends, or as a team or club, WE grow together with the parents as well.

This is where our worlds reconnect!  Julia and I had met in college briefly.  Years later we find ourselves again in our enormous world, with our own girls at the same age, same school, involved in the same activities and Julia and I reconnect once again on a new level of growing closer to God. She shared this book with me and I shared it with a few others.  With the great response from discussing it, here is where we share our online book chat of "Resisting Happiness" with YOU!  Please take the time to watch the 6 minute introduction to our upcoming Book Review (& links following above) and join us and many others on our Happiness Journey together.