Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mini Me

At her annual well check, Amanda Lily's Pediatrician told us we needed to go see an Opthamologist. Lucky for us, we have one as a neighbor, so we went yesterday to see "Mr Brian" at his office. She was a trooper! She loved all the gadgets and was super curious about how everything worked. The Doctor was incredibly patient and explained each step as they went. Mr Brian even let her come with him as he put her prescription in the newly picked frames. Picking the frames was another story all together. She wanted metal....I said NO. I told her she could chose from any of the plastic, sturdy frames. Before you think I was being a mean ol mama, there were at least 10 different plastic styles to chose from, and I didn't want to end up with broken glasses the first week of having them. The ones she chose....I LOVE. She turned around in them, and my hubs started laughing out loud, because she looks JUST LIKE ME! George said, "are those the ones, Amanda Lily?" She just smiled. They have hot pink stars on the sides and a rim of hot pink around the frame to make them a bit more sassy than mine, but the shape is the same. After all, we didn't want her to look too grown up.
She was a bit excited about them yesterday, but this morning over breakfast, she got a little teary. Not because she doesn't like them, but because she said "I feel like a new Amanda Lily and I like the old Amanda Lily" I told her I understood what she means, and that she is still the same exact Amanda Lily as before. I also told her that she could put her glasses in her backpack and wear them only when the Teacher is teaching from the board. She is near sided (just like me) and is supposed to wear them all the time. I know she will warm up to them, but I know my girl.....she will do it on her own terms. If I tell her she has no choice, it will be a constant battle from now until the end of time. If I let her slowly adapt to the change, she will eventually wear them all the time without my even asking.
Here are a couple of snaps I took of her yesterday. I want for George to get one of us together with our glasses on, and I'll re post it later. She said the best thing about getting glasses is that now she and mommy are really twins. Melt my heart!

                                               rock stars on the sides

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Name Day Stavros

A few posts ago, I did a shout out to all the "Amanda's" in my life. Today was our son Steven's turn to celebrate his Greek heritage by honoring his Greek Name Day. If you are wondering what a name day is, check out my post from a last week.

With all we have going on these days, it's hard to squeeze anything extra in. But, George came up with the idea that we just all meet up after school for some frozen yogurt in honor of Steven's day. Anyone else LOVE Hi Five FroYo? Yum.

Steven is named for his Grandfather Stavros. His name translated is Stavros, and he is actually called by his Greek name by all of our Greek side of the family. Honestly, I wasn't so sure about it at first, because I didn't want him to be teased by other kids, but now am so glad we kept with Greek tradition and gave him the name. I think both Steven and Stavros suits his personality very well, and he is so PROUD of his name. He's even gone as far as to ask his classmates to call him "Stavros" is a BIG celebration over in Greece, because there are tons of Stavros over there! We are celebrating my Father in Law, our son, and our little cousin Stavros too. We called my Father in Law (Papou') earlier today to wish him a Happy Name Day, and he was hosting a party at our family home in Greece. He told me all that he was cooking, and I got a little twinge in my heart to be there. Not only for the name day celebration and food, but also the family, and just the laid back culture of Greece. It wasn't our turn to go last summer, but this coming summer is. I can't wait to see all of our family and friends again.

Happy Name Day to all you Stavros.......

The following photos are from our last trip. This is from a day trip we took with Papou' up to our families "mountain house" I thought I would include them to give an idea of why I am missing Greece so much! I bet it is about 60 degrees up there on that mountain top right now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hummus and Cheese Melt

Sarah Matheny is also known as "Mama Pea" She has a wonderful cookbook full of "simple meatless meals the whole family will love" This cookbook was a gift that keeps on giving. That's what I love about cookbooks as gifts. I am always reminded of my friend, Heather while cooking a recipe from this book, because it was a gift from her.
This "recipea" is so far my favorite from the book. Not only is it super easy, all three food critics in my house enjoy it.
She suggests using a skillet and making them like you would a traditional grilled cheese. I however, like to use our old waffle iron to make it more like a panini. Oh YUM.

4 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup hummus
1 to 2 ounces shredded or sliced cheese
1 to 2 teaspoons earth balance

Spread your tortilla with a generous amount of hummus, and top with cheese. Fold together tortilla edges, then brush with earth balance or butter. (Mama Pea suggests using a quick blast of cooking spray instead of butter or Earth Balance) Grill wrap in pan or use waffle iron and press.

I like using the wraps as a side item with vegetable stew, soup, etc. This night, they were paired with Fasolakia.

After trying this recipe, you can find more on her website WWW.PEASANDTHANKYOU.COM.
Or, pick up a copy of her cookbook "Peas and thank you"

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Have you ever tried Quinoa? In my quest to feed my family in a healthy way, I've stumbled upon something new....Quinoa. It's a grain that's filled with fiber and protein. We are eating less and less meat these days, so I've been on the hunt for protein filled alternatives. All I can say is where have I been? How is it that I have never heard of this delicious food? Here's our dinner from tonight, recipe via my Sis In Law Heather.

1 cup quinoa
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 yellow squash
2 zucchini squash
2 cups organic vegetable stock
1/2 jar organic marinara sauce OR 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
sea salt
ground pepper

Rinse quinoa in colander, then boil in vegetable stock for 15 mins. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. While quinoa is cooking, saute onion, garlic, and veggies in 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook til veggies are al dente. Pour 1/2 jar of marinara sauce (or soy sauce) over sauteed veggies, and stir to incorporate. Spoon veggie mixture over quinoa, and serve warm.  My kids like it with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fall Cider Bar

This past week I've been opening the windows letting the house "air out." One morning around 6:15am, while taking the dogs outside, I was taken by surprise because it was so nice out. I actually thought it was a little on the chilly side. Fall is in the air! I'm posting this cider recipe to have on hand for ease of access this season. Maybe you can use it too.

1 64oz bottle apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
half of an orange, sliced
half an apple, sliced
*you can substitute ground spices if you do not have whole

In a slow cooker, combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks, sliced orange, and sliced apple. Wrap whole allspice and whole cloves in a cheesecloth or use a spice ball, and add to the pot.(If you don't have cheesecloth on hand, use a coffee filter, and tie together with twine.) Warm over high heat, then turn to low to keep warm. Serve in glass cups with cinnamon stick. For adults who enjoy an extra kick, add a shot of spiced rum or goldschlager to their glass.

Also, check out this link from one of the blogs I follow. What an awesome idea! It's my year to host Thanksgiving, and I see this cider bar on my buffet table!!! She is so creative.

click this linkMaddycakes Muse: Rustic Fall Cider Bar

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to the Barre

Amanda Lily and I were so excited to go to her first Ballet class of the season today. There are a lot of changes for her this year. She's moved up to a new "big dancer" studio, has a new Instructor, a new purple leotard, and now she gets to go twice a week. Her favorite part of class today was getting fitted for the white waistband. She says it signifies that she is a "big dancer." And, now that she is one of the "big dancers", she will be involved in a lot more during the course of the year. Her class of 15 friends are all familiar faces, and one new addition, Ella. Amanda Lily has know Ella since she was 3, and was happy to see Ella there waiting for her at the door when we arrived.

Her new Instructor, Mrs. Wheeler has big plans for the class as far as learning this ballet season. Each dancer has her own binder that has information on classical ballet that is added after each lesson. I love that now she gets to use her mind in her dance, and put together the names of each pose and step.

Another big excitement is that her friend Grace has started at MDSB, and so has her little cousin, Sophie. Having both these little ones at the same dance school is going to make the recitals even more F-U-N! I can't wait to see what this year of dance brings.
                                                 Amanda Lily and Ella
                                                  Ready and waiting
                                                     Buns in a row
                                                        Being fitted

Monday, September 5, 2011

Yia Yia's Birthday and "Amanda's" Name Day

Today we got together to have a little family party to celebrate Yia Yia's birthday. This week also happened to be her Name Day, so we made it a joint celebration by having a separate cake for the "Amanda's" in the family. The Greek tradition is that you celebrate your "Name Day" on the day of your patron Saint that you are named after. Point being, all the Amanda's in Greece share the same Name Day and celebrate that day as their own. We have a cousin in Greece named Amanda (who is my other daughter in my heart), as well as my Mother in Law, and of course my girl, Amanda Lily. So, as they say in Greek.... cronia pola and many many years of life love and happiness to these special Amanda's in my life. I LOVE you all so very much.

                          Amanda Lily in her traditional Greek Girl costume
Amanda Lily made a purse for Yia Yia's birthday

                                              Yia Yia's Birthday Cake
And here are some snaps with our other "daughter" Amanda
                                              Doesn't she fit right in?
                               I love her so much she may as well be mine!
                                                Happy Name Day Girls!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gator Game

My friend Trish called me one day last week with an offer I couldn't refuse. She knows that we are HUGE Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, and that we LOVE football. And, that Steven's recent obsession is football and all aspects of the game. So, she offered that George and I take Steven and her son Ben to the first Gator Game of the season. Her family has 4 season tickets, and get this......ON THE 50 YARD LINE, 10 ROWS FROM THE FIELD ON THE GATOR SIDELINE!!!! She would take Amanda Lily for a spend the night with her daughter Grace. Needless to say, I didn't have to think twice in accepting the fun offer.

We headed for Gainesville this past Saturday for the 7:00pm game. We were there early enough to watch the players doing warm ups, and Steven was amazed that they all were doing the same stretches he and his team mates do before a game. Both boys were super excited, and we all stood up the entire game. We learned all the chants and gator chomps and cheered with the best of them. The Pride of the Sunshine marching band was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! We had a favorite player #2. He plays Stevens position, and was full of personality and charisma. He danced and kept getting the crowd fired up. He sacked the QB and everyone went crazy. We had a fantastic time. Even though we've never been college football fans before, we definitely are now. So from now on, Saturdays our blood will run ORANGE AND BLUE and on Sundays it'll be RED AND SILVER. Go Gators.....Go Bucs!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fall Home Decor

Last year at season's end, I purchased these beautiful autumn garlands and wreath on 75% clearance at It was hard to get them in the mail then put them away for almost a year, but exciting to get them out last week for fall decorating. I know it is technically still summer, and the weather surely doesn't feel like fall, but come September 1, I can't hold out any longer! I just can't help myself. I actually get giddy breaking out the fall sterilite tubs. Am I crazy? So, here's what my fall mantle and sideboard look like. I am such a home girl. Many of my closest friends and relatives would rather do anything than stay at home and cook or decorate, but not me. I enjoy it so much I look forward to it! I see all kinds of other fall decor on blogs I follow.....what about you guys? Any of you in my circle use decorating as a creative outlet?

               I found this subway art on "Betty Crocker Wanna Be" Blog

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

This is real comfort food in our house. Anytime Amanda Lily is having a bad day, I go to this Mac N Cheese and a warm bubble bath. It works wonders on a seven year old's dramatic day. (My BF told so and so she could sing the song I wrote, but Mom, I wrote it!!!!)  Or, when she started a new school, and needed a healthy send off. Recently, I used Alphabet pasta to make it for dinner the night before the kids went back to school.

I found this recipe a few years back when I went looking for a way to make it a bit more healthy, so I could serve it without feeling it was nutritionally void. It's from the book "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld. I've substituted several cheeses over the years, and it always turns out delish, so feel free to use whatever block cheese you have on hand.

8 OUNCES SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE (here is where you can get creative, i've even used 4oz of one cheese and 4oz of another....pepper jack really spices things up)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to package directions. Drain in colander.
While macaroni is cooking, coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1 to 2 mins.
Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 4 mins. Add the vegetable puree, cheddar, cream cheese, and seasonings, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni and serve warm.
                               back to school mac n cheese ingredients
                                     traditional mac n cheese......YUM!