Wednesday, November 30, 2011

five months

Little Dude just keeps getting cuter every day.  I tell him he is big, brave, strong, beautiful, important and loved.  He likes belly time and lifts his head and shoulders and looks in the mirror and smiles at his reflection.  Even he knows how cute he is!  His dark hair is coming through and he likes when I gently comb his head.  Now I call him ChaChaBoo.
This week he discovered his feet and plays with them especially when he wears clothes with designs.  He knows the cue for rolling over when we say 1..2..3 and we gently nudge him to perform his greatest new feat back and forth.  He giggles with glee everytime and is supremely proud of this trick.  We place a variety of play things around him and prop him on the bed and he just scopes through all he has to choose from and grabs them with both hands and shakes them up.  His favorites this week are Cookie Monster, Polar Bear and Mortimar the Moose. 
Dillan's facial expressions are comical and he is being boistrous about his thrills and dislikes.  He has a strong voice and likes to use it.  Every week he tries new foods and really mops up his meals.  When he sees the bottle we say Ba Ba and that's it ~ he knows what's coming.  As luck would have it, this week Sesame Street featured Elmo and penguins.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited he was about that.  His godfather gave him the movie Happy Feet so we'll see how he likes that next week. 
Now he discovered sitting gives him a better perspective of his world so the high chair serves a multi-purpose besides eating his nummies.  The only downside of having so many places to entertain him in our house are the stairs.  Up and down all day is placing a toll on the knees and we truly feel like the grandparents. It was easier with the boys when we were younger but age does that, so we take it at a slower, more careful pace.  Soon he will be teething and his drooling is appeased by little rings to rub his gums.  We go through half a dozen bibs each day just to keep him dry.  The pacifier is still his best buddy but he only requires it for falling asleep; otherwise he practices putting it in and out of his mouth and talks to it.  I must get that little contraption that clips it to his clothes because it is constantly falling on the ground. 
He enjoys when I read to him and actually holds the book and tries to turn the pages.  His favorite this week is You Are My Sunshine.  His presents are all wrapped and ready to open and right now he enjoys looking at the paper and bows ~ of course it has penguins on it.  We place him in the bouncer for variety and he watches the choo choo and penguin stickers then latches onto his lion buddy where he studies it to no end. He is really quite fond of that simple little thing. 
His Grandpa Poppie will miss him soon when he begins a new job so he spent lots of quality time this week and the bond is deep between them already.  He gave him a little Simba lion that fits just right in his little hands.  Dillan really studies our faces and when we walk away he tracks us. My favorite time is when he latches onto my hands while he drinks from his bottle or before he drifts off into slumber.  These are my magical moments.  The touch is tremendous.  Our Dillan days may be long but they go by swiftly.  Time does that when you're having fun and his world continues to amaze us.  The blessings never cease. xo

Friday, November 25, 2011

happy birthday stevie

Look at you ~ no longer a teenager and creating your dreams for the next leg of your journey.  Your dreads are starting to take off and have taught you about patience and perseverance.  Your new professional camera will enhance your creativity without bounds.  Your scholastic endeavors will end with the first round and continue the final road to get one step closer to a dream come true when you realize your talents in the film and photographic world.  Your keen eye captures amazing moments and now you can share this.  Think of all the accolades you received from your superiors and teachers ~ the world is beginning to notice what we have known 20 years ago ~ your light is shining and you are sharing it with the world.  We are proud of your accomplishments and love sharing time with you.  Tonight you will bond with your buddies in our humble abode and begin the next decade which I promise will blow you away.  History starts now...

Love ~ hugs ~ smooches

happy birthday to you...whoo
happy birthday to you...whoo
happy birthday dear stevie
happy birthday to you

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In order to prepare for the foodfest, I have to make a few dishes prior to Thanksgiving, therefore, today's selection is coconut sweet potato balls and baked cranberry brie phyllo triangles.  I have never made these before so I share the recipe in hopes they turn out to be as desirable as they sound.  Before I begin these delights, I will brine the bird.  Mike and Dan are beginning their band bonding today and their first rehearsal is here, at our house.  This is Wayne-O's karma payback for all the times he jammed at his mom's house.  LOL. It's hard to believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving already.  Time sure flies.

Coconut Sweet Potato Balls

6 large sweet potatoes
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups shredded coconut
3 cups rice krispies cereal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large marshmallow per potato ball
stick of butter

Peel potatoes and boil until tender then mash them and add a stick of butter.  I am deviating a bit from Paula Deen's recipe but you can also bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them as she suggests.  Once you have your mashed potato mix, stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. 

In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon then add rice krispies cereal.  Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2-3 inch diameter ball.  Roll the balls in the coconut mixture.  This is very messy and once you get the rhythm down, it's easier to roll the ball just as you would a meatball.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking, the expanding marshmallows can cause the potatoes to burst open.  OMG I hope that happens ~ that would be too funny to have the balls bursting all over.  Ha Ha Ha.

Cranberry Brie Phyllo Triangles

2 lbs. phyllo dough
2 cups melted butter
1 can cranberry sauce
1/2 bag fresh cranberries, cooked
1 cup pineapples
1/2 cup mandarin oranges
2 triangles Brie cheese
chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut phyllo dough in half  ~ lengthwise.  Keep covered with plastic wrap while working to avoid drying out. 

Place 2 sheets of phyllo dough on work surface, brush with butter.  Fold in half ~ lengthwise and brush with butter.  Place 3 big spoonfuls of  cranberry sauce and 9 cubes of Brie at bottom of strip.  Fold corner over filling.  Fold up, then over the opposite way, forming a triangle.  Continue folding this way until the end.  Brush with butter and place on a jelly roll pan.  Repeat with remaining phyllo dough and filling. 

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 40 appetizers.

I am not so sure I care for working with phyllo but I made three of these wrap things and we'll see how it tastes.  After cutting into triangles, top with extra cranberry mixture and yogurt.  The brie cheese is extremely dominant and this tastes a little European, if you know what I mean...
Apple Cranberry Stuffing

about 2 bread bags filled with assorted breads
Hawaiian, whole grain, gonnella, butter, cubed and lightly toasted in butter and oil
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup butter
2 onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
2 boxes brown and serve sausage, cooked and chopped
6 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne and paprika
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
some chopped nuts
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and sage

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  In small bowl, combine chicken broth and cranberries and let soak for 30 minutes.  In a large skillet, melt butter and saute onion, pepper and celery for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until tender.  Add apples and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in large bowl.

Beat 6 eggs in a separate bowl and add salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In the large bowl with veggies, stir in chicken broth mixture, celery soup and cinnamon.  Add toasted bread cubes, sausage and nuts, stirring gently to combine.  Add eggs.  Mix with hands to get in there real good.
  Spoon mixture into prepared dish and bake for 50 minutes or until center is set. This recipe is a blend of sweet and spicy for variety is the spice of life. 

Just as a tip for hosting these gatherings, it really helps to pre-prepare a couple of days ahead by having all your veggies chopped and bagged and then all you have to do is pull them out when putting together the recipe.  The day before, which would be today, I combined all the ingredients and have them at the ready to pop in the oven.  There is no way on God's earth I could make all these dishes the same day I entertain.  No way, Jose.  Thanks to Wayne-O for running around today to get sausages at Selena's in Lemont and Stevie's birthday cake in Hinsdale.  Much obliged and extremely grateful.  xo

ps.  the garage and closets look aces     

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

christmas is for kids

This year I decorated a little differently, yet similar to way back when my boys were small.  I am going with the penguin theme in the family room and the little guy really follows our train set (so does Ozis.)  Wait until next year when he can ride the big choo choo we saved!  I already played Kenny Rodgers Christmas music and sang the Christmas is for Kids song.  It has now begun...
Look at him go!  Dillan absolutely loves his Tigger toy.  Now he can bounce up and down just like his buddy Tigger and happy feet Penguin.  He likes when he twirls around and around and up and down.  He squeals with glee when he's in this thing ~ big shot.  He likes to eat bananas with rice cereal and this week his palate has discovered carrots.  So far he likes peas, squash, carrots and I am making homemade sweet potatoes, so possibly he will like that.  Mama will expose him to barley and oatmeal so he doesn't get constipated with the rice and bananas too often down the road.  I gave him a little nursery water to wash things down.  He gets excited when he sees the dish and spoon.  As my Dad says "he's really cognizant of his surroundings."
This cutie patootie weighs 17 lbs. 14 oz. and he is not even 5 months yet! 
 At the doctor's office, he rolled over not once, but TWICE!! Wayne, Doc and I witnessed this.
He told his tigger buddy all about this milestone with his new words.  He blows raspberries and says boob and ma.  Soon he will be talking sentences...LOL.  He is so happy all the time and today he squealed when watching a few minutes of Sesame Street with Elmo and SuperGrover.  I discovered this new toy store up north on Lincoln Avenue that sells green and safe classic toys.  Thanks to Timeless Toys, I am not going to worry about China-made lead in anything he plays with. 
Cranberry Salad

This is a new dish I have prepared today for the upcoming foodfest ~ my variation on Paula Deen's recipe.

6 oz. cranberry sauce
2 oz. dried cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup broken pecans
1 cup broken walnuts
3 oz. black cherry gelatin
4 oz. crushed pineapples
4 oz. mandarin oranges
whipped cream, sour cream, yogurt and parsley for garnish

Drain pineapple and mandarin orange juices and reserve.  Add juice to 1/2 cup hot water and heat to boiling. Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.  Dissolve softened gelatin in hot water-juice mixture.  Let cool until it starts to set ~ don't let the gelatin harden.  Put cranberries through a grinder.  Add berries, cranberry sauce, pineapple, mandarin oranges, nuts and sugar to cooled gelatin mold.  Mix well.  Pour into a bowl or mold.  Refrigerate until completely set.  Place mold in a warm water bath and run a knife around the edges to loosen.  Invert into a serving plate and garnish with parsley and a dollop of sour cream, plain yogurt or whipped cream.
I'm still making bows and my friend, Jan, suggested Wayne-O not sit still or I'll put a bow on him.  His response was "too late!"  xo

Sunday, November 20, 2011

thanksgiving feast

Today we celebrate Helen and G's wedding reception at Gold Class Cinema where we will view Breaking Dawn.  What a unique way to party and toast the newlyweds. Clever idea ~ cannot wait!  I think the house is sufficiently decorated for the holidays as I went a little bow crazy with my new toy and made 30 bows for three rooms.  I better not even think about the upper level. Help!  Now I am preparing for my next project ~ the Thanksgiving feast.  We hope to share our meal and give thanks for our blessings with 20 family members and look forward to being together to begin the official holiday season with love and laughter.  This week alone Jay and Vanessa became engaged, Dan graduates DePaul and Steve turns 20.  Yikes!  I found this picture and chuckled as if this guy knew most of us like white meat.  Here is my menu for the extravaganza which includes dishes being brought by guests ~ I sincerely thank you all for doing so.
I am big on cranberries this year for some reason.  It must be the texture and the way the color enhances and sweetens the brown foods.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu 

assorted crackers, chips and dips for appetizers

baked cranberry brie phyllo triangles

marshmallow coconut sweet potato balls

cranberry pecan pineapple salad mold

black and green olives/pepperocini

tossed spring greens salad

2 20 lb. brined birds

apple cranberry stuffing

green bean casserole

Carrie's heart attack potatoes

garlic mashed potatoes w/gravy
(of course)

Melissa's sweet squash  specialty

broccoli/cauliflower/carrots blend

polish sausage

hawaiian bread

Karen's surprise pie

John's delicacy desserts
This will not be a heart-healthy meal by any means and many new recipes are from Paula Deen's cookbook (she is the butter queen.)  Look out y'all :) fair warning:  wear loose and comfortable clothing so you can relax and enjoy the foodfest.  You can watch your calories on Black Friday. xo

Thursday, November 17, 2011

baby strides

Here is the big shot.  Dillan continues to amaze us everytime he visits with all his new explorations and discoveries in his little world.  He gets cuter and cuter and I can't help smothering him with hugs and smooches all day long.
He has more belly time now and lifts his head and legs like an airplane which gives him a different perspective to his view of things.  He loves looking in the mirror and smiles at his reflection. 
His biggest thrill is when he covers his face with a blanket then plays peek a boo and gets extremely excited and shakes with glee.  At first I freaked out thinking he will stop breathing but that is just his little game he plays. worries, Grandma Tuti...I'm just having some fun.
Another stride is how he is so close to rolling over on his own.  He practices everyday and with a little nudge he switches from prone to supine and we clap and cheer him on which excites him to no end.
He must be close to 20 pounds by now and needs supplemental nurishment so his Mama started him on rice cereal and peas last week.  The first time he got so mad at her with this new method of filling his belly, but after that, he looks forward to eating from a spoon.
This week the menu is squash.  Margarita figures if he begins with a veggie, he will really take to sweeter fruits and still enjoy his veggies.  Pretty smart, if you ask me.  Back in the day, we mixed the sweet with the veggies but this way seems to make more sense.  I continue to learn everyday.  He explores everything orally and got acquainted with his high chair that way, too.
Dillan still loves his ba ba the best and when he sees it, or if I say the word, he whines for it with a "hurry up" kinda sound.  He even knows how to hold it on his own.  His best friend is still the dee dee (pacifier) and he has conquered the task of pulling it in and out of his mouth and even talks to it.  So cute.  He still enjoys when I read books to him and I pulled out a new one with all the Mother Goose nursery rhymes but I must say, some of them are corny or even scary so I make my own snide remarks and comments after I read them.  He also likes Po ~  the Kung Foo Panda TV series.  Wait until he sees all the Christmas lights and decorations.  He will have endless sights to see.  I keep telling him Santa is coming soon ~ HO HO HO.  I don't need any presents this year as he is my eternal gift.  I'm just going to put a big bow on him.  xo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

hi mom

Today it's been four years.  Dad mentioned you were his bride for 52 years and when I brought him a gorgeous photo of you he couldn't stop talking about how beautiful you are and he really misses you.  We talked about how you are in a better place now and continue to watch over him. 

We offered mass for you today at St. Turibius where Dad is an usher.  He is so proud of his role in the church as he has embraced God's grace to sustain him while you are not around. I suggested he hang around with us for awhile longer and overcome any medical issues with your help upstairs and when the time comes, you both will be reunited when you call for him.  He smiled and lovingly said how much he loves all his kids.

He prays for all his family and he has so much to be thankful for.  Brother Bo takes good care of him as much as he can and they are two peas in a pod at home.  The rest of us do our best to keep them both healthy and happy as he always says "no pressure, whatever and whenever you can."  Dad visits his buddies everyday and it keeps him going.  Matter of fact, his foot wound healed amazingly quickly because he is getting good circulation and he has a little purpose and reason to get up and about everyday. He is hell bent on winning the lottery so none of us ever have to work again.  LOL.

We try to get Dad over to our place every few weeks for a change of scenery and to see his little great grandson.  This year has brought many new commitments from your grandkids with Nikki and Aaron ~ Melissa and Joe co-habiting together in their new home, Jackie and Justin ~ Jason and Vanessa getting engaged to be married, all three of our boys graduating college this year and many little moments to be grateful for.  Next year Mike and Margarita and Jackie and Justin will tie the knot and you know what that means ~ more great-grandbabies down the road.  Your bond with Big Daddy is starting to grow seeds of new life and your union is keeping you both immortal.  Keep whispering in his ear and we will continue to make you proud, Mom.  xo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

deck the halls

After juggling my schedule and multi-tasking all month, I felt the urge to do something domestic to balance things a bit and decided to begin a new project to deck my halls and windows with some lighted garland greens and bows for the holiday season.  I am going to keep things simple and classy for a change and use ribbons and bows to embellish our trees and surroundings.  I went online for some ideas then hit the stores to stir up my creative juices.
To my delight all holiday decorations and ribbons were 50% off so I stocked up on a plethora of supplies to get started.  Lo and behold, I discovered a new tool to let me create some fantastic bows with minimal work.  I watched the DVD learning tool and played all day with my new toy.  Thank you, Bowdabra!
This handy tool is simply amazing...
and so fun.

Each bow takes very little time to make, it's just a matter of measuring and deciding colors.

I have all my discount coupons collected and pretty soon I will dash to the craft stores for more supplies and see what I come up with.  My mom had a Christmas tradition of making amazing handcrafted presents for all her kids and I may just continue her method now that I have a tool to enable me to make some decent items using my two left thumbs.  Margarita already bought her ribbons and we will make some bows for her Christmas tree this weekend.  And so it begins.....Fa La La La La... La La La La.  xo

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I did it!

I completed and submitted my requirements to maintain my national certification for massage therapy.  Every four years we must recertify our status as qualified therapists with 48 hours of continuing education and minimal hours of service.  I became certified in 2000.
These are the diplomas for classes taken to keep my status.  Sports Massage, Reflexology, Ethics, Colon, Survival and Aromatherapy.  I gave over a thousand massages since my last recertification to cover the necessary hours needed to keep myself legal.
Now I have peace of mind for another four years.  The initial exam to obtain this is brutal and I never want to retake it and let it relapse, hence, I keep up with the education classes.  And you thought giving massage was a piece of cake...LOL
This goddess can continue living, loving and laughing as in the past decade.  The power of determination! xo

Congratulations, Roberta T. Wind!

NCBTMB is pleased to inform you that your certification has been extended through: 06/30/16. Thank you for helping to advance the field of massage therapy and bodywork - and for your continued commitment to professionalism and ethical practice.

Your new certificate and recertification packet should arrive in the mail within the next few weeks.