Monday, May 27, 2013

Sports Banquet and Best Steak Marinade

May seems to become a blur to me once it's over. Good thing I have this blog to look back on. We've been wrapping things up for this school year, and our most recent event was Steven's end of the year sports banquet. Steven played JV Basketball and ran track this year. He's already very excited for the next season of basketball, but track.....not so much. Let's just say he's not a runner like his Mama. We told him that he would have to finish out this years track season, because Kountanis' don't quit. So, he finished, but I highly doubt he will be running with the track team next year. And, that's ok. He tried it, and decided he doesn't like it, so that's that.
The basketball season is another story. He didn't get much play, because the JV team is really for 6th and 7th graders, so being a 5th grader meant he was a fill in when one of the older boys got tired. However, he and his other 5th grade friends practiced just as hard, and were ready when they were called. Basketball was new territory for our entire family, so we all learned throughout this year along with Steven. There were some tense competitive moments this season, and I have to say, I am now a fan. Our little group of players ended up going UNDEFEATED the entire season, then won the entire CFLAA tournament. This was a huge accomplishment because we played against other private schools in the Orlando area that were much bigger than our little school. Our family had a lot of fun supporting this team, and look forward to next year when we can do it all again!

The basketball coach handed out trophies to each player.

The track coach gave each runner a medal and the ribbons they had won during the season.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL! For the first time in our school's history, a JV basketball team won the CFLAA tournament. That meant our school got a new banner to hang in the gymnasium. 

The boys and Coach Hoffert pulled the cord to reveal the banner......

And celebrated their hard work and efforts.

Now, the 2014 boys will have a title to defend!!!!
Go Crusaders!!!!

That night for dinner, I made one of Steven's favorite's. He loves this marinated steak, and it's easy for a hectic night because all you have to do is throw the steaks on the grill. 

Best Steak Marinade
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp basil
1 tsp ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds.Or, just put it all in a bowl and whisk. Pour marinade over steaks. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Cook steaks as desired.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Steven's Adventures in Airsoft

For Steven's 11th birthday, he chose to bring a few of his friends to an airsoft complex. We borrowed a friends large SUV, loaded it up, and made the 45 min drive. Afterwards, we brought the crew back to the restaurant for pizza and cake.

Here the kids are getting to know how everything works, and going over the rules of airsoft.

Christa was the only girl in the class who was interested in coming. She got in there with all those boys and didn't flinch. Steven said he was impressed and that she always had his back during the matches. I think there is a little "crush" action going on between these two. 

This is the "ready room" The kids get themselves locked and loaded here, and ready for battle.

Birthday Boy and his Dad. They are like me and mini.

After 4 hours of running around and sweating, these kiddos were hungry. 

The birthday boy somehow ended up with whipped cream in his face. Something tells me his Dad had something to do with this. He was a good sport about it though, and got a good laugh.

Happy Birthday to our sweet Steven. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tea Party Fruit Cups and Cucumber Sandwiches

For Amanda Lily's 9th birthday party, she decided she wanted to have a traditional tea. I originally thought we would just go to our local tea room, but for whatever reason, I couldn't seem to get them to call me back. Plan B was just to have the party at our house, and break out my Grandmother's china for the girls since they are getting older. I pulled together some party decor from years past, ordered some balloons, put together 12 favor bags, and readied a menu. I must say this was one of the easiest parties we've had to date. The girls were all so well mannered and kind. I love this age.

These portable fruit cups are a nice way to get fresh fruit in a menu. They make a great school party snack as well. I layered blueberries, sliced strawberries, watermelon, and grapes. 
Also, I piped pink icing onto brownie bites to make them special. Yogurt covered pretzels are one of Amanda Lily's all time favorites. What could make them even better? Pink of course!

These cupcakes are chocolate with marshmallow frosting. The recipe for the frosting is on my recipe list to the right. The frosting turned out a bit loose, but the effect it created grew on me, and I ended up liking it.

These are store bought Petit Fors and Macaroons.

1 Bag dry bread (extra large breadcrumbs)
1 cucumber
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayo with olive oil
1 tbsp penzeys sandwich sprinkle spice or 1/2 package of dry italian dressing
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Mix cream cheese, mayo, and spice or dressing until well blended. Chill for at least an hour so flavors blend together. Slice cucumbers. Spread cream cheese mixture onto dry bread and place a cucumber on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Grilled Cheese sandwiches and pink lemonade rounded out the menu.

Favor bags with each girl's name doubled as place cards. Another special touch was a rimming of pale pink sugar crystals on each lemonade glass. To create this just dip glasses in light karo syrup then into a plate of sugar crystals.

We had many tea offerings....peach, blackberry, raspberry, earl grey, and lemon. They all enjoyed the sugar cubes, too. 

Party girls in their tea party finest.

Birthday girl. Oh how the years go by.

Group hug after opening presents.

Party smiles.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Treat

I've moved on from wrapping up the school year and extra curricular activites. Now it's on to two weekends in a row of Kountanis kids birthday parties. Up first will be Amanda Lily's, but in the mean time, I shared this wonderful idea I found on Pinterest with my sister in law during some much needed down time by the pool.

My favorite white wine with a Strawberry All Fruit Bar. Many wine purist would balk, but we sure enjoyed it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Family and Friends at the Ballet

Our family is so blessed. We have many wonderful friends and family members who love and support us. These are the die hards, because believe it or not, many people do not enjoy sitting through a lengthy ballet performance! As much as I enjoy performing arts, regardless of it my children are involved, many people do not. GASP! However, whether they are fans or not, I do believe they each enjoyed themselves at this performance because of a certain dancer. And, they traveled from near and far to be in the audience for her. (We woke my Dad up during her scenes on stage. LOL.) One of these years, I am going to find the time to put together a proper thank you dinner for them. I always have good intentions of doing it, but by the time it rolls around, I do not have the time or energy to do so. Between the end of school parties, ballet performance and party, and both my kids birthday parties, all in a 3 week time period, I just can't ever seem to pull together a nice dinner to thank them for coming. However, check back, because one of these years, I am going to say No to everything/everyone else, and do it.

Amanda Lily's dance instructors
Final Curtain Call

Heather and Mia came, but unfortunately I didn't get a picture of them before they had to run, because her Mother was ill. This shot is of them supporting Amanda Lily at her Christmas performance.

Both Grace and Sophia danced in the performance on Saturday. They, along with their Moms both came back for the Sunday performance.

Dad and Steven

Amanda Lily's school teacher, Mrs Roberts and her husband came. She later told me how pleasantly surprised she was the the caliber of the performance.

Lydia. She's like Amanda Lily's teenage sister!

Cousin Vivi

Nana and Popa Bear

Dad orders a special bouquet of flowers for you every year. 

Everyone was so proud of you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ballet Season End and Crock Pot Applesauce

Applesauce is one of Amanda Lily's favorite things. I have another recipe for it on my sidebar using a steamer pot. This recipe I came across this past fall when my life became super hectic, and I was using my crock pot weekly. There are so many variations of this recipe. I have added a couple of peaches or pears, and used a variety of types of apples. Amanda Lily's all time favorite is when I make it using only Green apples.

8 to 10 apples
1 tsp lemon juice
1 strip of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tsp unpacked brown sugar, light or dark

Peel, core, and chop apples. Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours, depending on heat of your crock pot. Stir occasionally to tell when applesauce is cooked. We prefer chunky applesauce, so I just give it a good whisk. However, you could use a food processor or immersion blender to blend until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

I made this recipe during the week of final ballet performances. Needless to say, it was all gone by the time Sunday rolled around, and her final performance was danced. All that dancing makes a girl hungry!

Every year at final performance time, I give Amanda Lily a small gift. There are no trophies in dance, so I always try to find something that goes along with that year's performance theme. I found this perfect little trinket for her to remember her performance of Cinderella. Inside the pumpkin coach is a tiny wand, mouse, and slipper. She was so pleased to open the small token on her last day of dance for this season.

Another fun tradition is that I have a friend make special cookies in the likeness of her classes costume. These are always a hit with the dancers, and are a non messy way to celebrate Amanda Lily's birthday with her dance friends. Instead of cupcakes or cake, we celebrate with these sweet cookies.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This years performance was "Cinderella"....not like Disney's version, but along the same lines. The back story is the same, it's just a bit more sophisticated if you will. This was the first year that Amanda Lily performed in two scenes. Actually, she was in three, but you couldn't see her in one of them, so I'm not counting it.

These photos were taken during the dress rehearsal. Things were very cramped backstage. Lots of ladies in small spaces and tight hallways.

Here Amanda Lily is waiting behind the curtain for her turn on stage. She can't help but watch while waiting in the wings.

These next photos are all from during the actual performances. There were two, one Saturday and the other on Sunday, Mothers Day. She told me she danced that one for me. :)

In this scene, they are Russian princesses. This dance was a Character dance, that is, a traditional style of Russian dancing. It had a bit more spice to it that classical ballet, with a lot of intricate foot movement. The dancers really got the crowd going with their little sassy shoulder moves.

In her second scene on the stage, she danced her classical ballet. This was a beautiful dance, and I loved this costume. 

Amanda Lily learned a hard lesson this performance season. During class, she was given a special part doing her all time favorite pique turns. She worked and worked on perfecting them. However, as the choreography was coming together for the performance, it wasn't working out that she be the dancer doing the part. Her instructor tried several different ways of getting her into the correct placement, but it just wasn't working. Another dancer landed in that spot, and got to do the turns. Amanda Lily was upset, but was gracious when given the explanation. It made me so proud of her to see her rise above and learn to not let a disappointment get her down. She danced beautifully.

Here's the third scene she was in. At the last minute, the choreographer asked if Amanda Lily would ride in Cinderella's coach. She wanted the effect of the lights being lit up after the coach was already on stage. So, she needed a small person to hide in the coach and turn the switch on after it arrived in it's spot to pick up Cinderella. Amanda Lily was very excited that she got to be the "magic" behind the lights. She also loved it that Cinderella winked at her with the eye that no one in the audience could see as they rode off stage.

Congratulations to our girl. You have such a bright light. Always shine.