Monday, February 27, 2012

Au Revoir Mrs Keating

Our ballet school wished Au Revoir to one of it's founding instructors. Mrs Keating is retiring and moving back to Boston to live closer to family. She will be dearly missed by her students.

One of the other ballet moms asked me to help plan the goodbye party. There were 3 of us planning, along with Mrs Wheeler, the ballet school owner/director. We had 8 days to pull it all together. I thought it ended up being a lovely party. Mrs Keating was especially touched, and felt the love and well wishes.
In hindsight, I am so glad to have helped. I had lots of fun with Jennifer and Melanie, and I was happy with the sense of community that I got from the experience.

Amanda Lily has been at her dance school since she was 3 years old, and she looks up to the older dancers, and the tiny girls look up to her. It 's a great scene because all of the dancers are so kind, well mannered, and poised. My girl would spend every waking hour at the ballet school if I would let her. I hope that attitude lasts, because when she is an older girl, there is no place I'd rather her be than preoccupied with dance.

            These girls were our helpers the day before the party
                                             Ballet Pink Tulips
                        Older dancers making Mrs Keating's banner
                      Frozen water balloons to keep the water cold
                                                     Party Planners
                                                       Dance friends

                                             Au Revoir Mrs Keating!

Pancakes from Scratch

Steven to Amanda Lily through tears....."Amanda Lily, Mom needs peace and quiet. I think I may have plucked her last nerve."

1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Dry Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients, and incorporate well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mixture will not be smooth. Pour batter into preheated pan.

Add Ins
1 smashed banana
walnuts or pecans
chocolate chips
finely chopped apple or pear

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do we eat with our eyes?

This was the question my 9 year old set out to answer in his first ever Science fair. I felt it was easy enough that he could do most of the research on his own, and being that we have unlimited access to a restaurant with tons of patrons who LOVED to help us with his was a good fit.
Steven started with google. He learned a lot about early humans eating with their eyes as a survival mechanism. We also both learned something new. When was the last time you ate something blue? Probably a LONG time ago, unless you were eating something artificial, or a blueberry (that happens to be closer to purple), or unless you happened upon the very rare blue potato. You see, there are very few things found in nature that are food and are blue. So, it comes natural for us to shy away from eating anything blue. We stick more to reds, oranges, and greens. This makes perfect sense when you think about it, because think of all the foods you find in nature that are these colors. To prove his point, Steven did a test on patrons at the restaurant using blue and red jello. He gave them the choice, then asked why they chose that particular color to eat. Then of course, he let the patron have the jello as dessert. Most people did chose to eat the red jello, and the ones who chose the blue all said it was because it was their favorite color.
He also had them choose between a lovely plated lasagna, and a lasagna he took a fork and mushed all together. Not one person chose the mushed lasagna over the beautiful one. So, he learned of course that eating does begin with the eyes. It was a simple enough project that he had lots of fun with, and I didn't have to do all the work for him. I did help him by making gentle suggestions for the board, but he did all the other work on his own. He even drew his chart for the board.
Mrs Roberts told me he was a great speaker, and gave a very informative presentation to the Judges. She also said how when the other classes came in to see the projects, Steven had kids hudlled around his project while he was explaining it. And, that their were so many of them that they had to raise their hands to ask him questions!
He will find out next week what his grade is and who was awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Of course as his Mom, I think he deserves the blue ribbon, but I'm biased. Regardless of if he even places or not, I am so proud of him and his efforts.

                                          measuring to make jello

                                            which would you prefer?

at the Science Fair with his completed project

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day and Chocolate Fondue Recipe

Steven's class this year had a breakfast for Valentines Day. For Amanda Lily's class, I organized a make your own cupcake bar. I also had parents write their kids a "love letter" and send it in to class for the Teacher to read aloud. Ms Beirlein told me that the children got so excited to hear their letters telling them and their classmates how much they were loved and special to their family. The idea was very well received by the parents too! Many of them came up to me at the party to thank me for the idea. They told me how they got unexpectedly emotional while writing to their child.
I wasn't sure how the cupcake bar would turn out. I was thinking it may end up being one of those things that seems good on paper, but not so great once executed. It was a hit! Parents all chipped in on the frosting, sprinkles, milk, and decor. I made the cupcakes. The kids LOVED being able to personalize and eat up their cupcakes. My biggest fear was that we would end up with sprinkles everywhere, but the kids did great in keeping them contained to the cupcake table.

At home, we had Chocolate Fondue for dessert after dinner. It was a special treat that is now going to be a Valentines Day staple in our home.

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate chips (i use ghirardelli milk chocolate chips)
fruits and treats for dipping. marshmallows, pound cake, strawberries, etc

In a saucepan over medium low heat, warm the cream until steam starts to rise from the surface. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Pour into a fondue pot. Stir the chocolate occasionally to keep it smooth.
                                                     Cupcake Bar

 George sent Amanda Lily 7 red roses to school. The card said "You will always be my valentine. Love, Daddy" He never even mentioned to me that he was sending them to her. I ADORE that man!
 Of course, he didn't forget me either. These were delivered to the house.

                                        Eat til your hearts content!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Arrives from Greece

Some of our family members arrived from Greece, and we are all so excited that they are here. The kids are itching to show them our "stomping grounds" since every time we go to Greece, the cousins share their farms and beaches and fun spots with us. They actually came to be here when Panagiotis and Jessica welcome their new baby. His mom Heidi wouldn't miss the arrival of her first grand child, so she and her two youngest girls, Maria and Christianna came along with her oldest daughter and son in law. Needless to say, we are all so thrilled that they are here!

I took the two girls with me to pick up Steven and Amanda Lily from school. I was so happy to see how they all hugged and loved on each other after not seeing one another for 1 1/2 years. They all picked up right where they left off and you'd never know they hadn't seen each other for so long.

Once we got home, it was clear. Amanda Lily and Maria were attached at the hip and Christianna and Steven were best pals. Heidi called it, because she told me that her youngest is a tom boy, and would probably take more to Steven. I love the pictures of the two of them on the ship. I love how Steven is helping her not fall. I love that I found Maria and Amanda Lily in her bedroom being girls. I love the big smile on Sophie's face as she stands there with her cousins. I love the way my heart fell into my stomach when they all came into the front door of the restaurant, and I cried happy tears to see them. I love to see the happiness in my husband as he revels in the bustle and sound of everyone being in our home. I love the way it felt like Paraskevi and George never left. I love the way our family loves.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

It's been chilly around here lately, and I had a left over roasted rosemary chicken in the fridge that needed a purpose. Comfort food at it's finest, this recipe was given to me in a family cookbook that was handed down to me at our wedding by my cousin Mary Beth. I've made this countless times, but the one time that is a stand out was when I made it along with Adaka one year for a few people over for George's birthday dinner. We had Chicken Pot Pie and Adaka, his two favorite dishes, one Greek the other decidely Southern. Everyone was happy. I've never had this recipe turn out bad. This picture is of our pot pie from Valentine's Day. If you were feeling awfully ambitious, you could make a crust from scratch too, but I just use publix brand crust.

1 package refrigerated or frozen pie crusts

For the filling
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup onion
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cups milk
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 cups cooked frozen mixed veggies

Heat oven to 375* Prepare two pie crusts. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over med heat. Add onion and cook 2 mins or until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Cook stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Add chicken and veggies. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust lined pie pan. Top with second crust and flute. (cut slits several places) Bake at 375* for 45 to 60 mins, checking to be sure and not burn crust. Or, until crust is golden brown. Let stand for about 15 mins before serving.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One of our newest little friends

Here is the most precious picture of an old friend, Mariella and her new baby girl Audriana Rose. They came by for a visit this past weekend, and Amanda Lily already has plans for babysitting. She was such a little mother hen! Steven brought down a stuffed animal to share with her, and tickled and cooed at her. This little lady is a miracle baby, born preemie. We sent up many prayers for her, and nothing makes me more happy than to see her out of the isolette thriving and happy. Sweet Audriana, we can't wait to share many memories with you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mental Health Day Part 2

Steven and George's mental health day was just three days after we girls took our trip to Disney. They flew in a sea plane! Steven, like many boys his age, is obsessed with the military. His dream is to be in the Coast Guard and fly to rescue missions. (That is of course if he doesn't make it in the NFL as a Tampa Bay Buc :)) The two of them flew right over the restaurant, and we all came out to wave at them. It was so neat. Steven said the coolest part was that the pilot let him take the yoke and actually fly himself.

He spent the afternoon of his relaxing day in the backyard with his dog, Roxy. The two of them did what they do best.....DIG TRENCHES! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mental Health Day

We allow the kids to have one "mental health day" per school year. Between keeping their grades up and extra curricular activities, they work hard! Our second semester just wrapped up, so we are at the half way point for school. I figured about now would be a good time for a break.

Monday was Amanda Lily's day. We had plans for a girls only trip to Disney with our friends Trish and Grace, but Grace came down with strep, so it became a Mommy/Daughter day. The weather was beautiful, and my girl was all smiles as we headed past her school and towards Orlando. We sang "It's a small world" right when drove through the Disney gates. It's a cheesy thing that we have done since the kids were itty bitty. The place was empty. We went to fast pass Space Mountain, and the greeter told us to just get in line, because there was no line! We walked right onto the ride. We did every ride she wanted, and had a yummy lunch at Cinderella's castle. It was the best meal I've ever had a Disney. The short ribs and almond cheesecake were wonderful. Amanda Lily had the best time taking pictures with the Princesses, and riding all the girly rides. Not that we don't love our boys, but it was nice for it to be just us. Being that she'll be 8 at her next birthday, I know my days of her living in a fairy tale are numbered. So I am doing my best to relish this time with my little princess.
                        Amanda Lily's face after Space Mountain
                                                        Us being silly
                                                  Her and Cinderella.....

                                                  Sleeping Beauty
                                                    Snow White

                                           and her all time fav Belle.