Monday, December 31, 2012

to new beginnings and happy endings

Here I am all ready to give farewell to another year and welcome a chance to refresh.  Upon reflection,  this has been a yin/yang year as we have know extreme bliss and stress within the same time frame.  Something beautiful may occur to be followed by a lot of ugly.  This, however, is better than previous years, so I'll take it.  In order to prepare to rid our humble sanctuary of unwanted negativities I will lovingly purify each room with new mountain sage, holy water, sage citrus candle and special incense.  I will ring the bells throughout to clear vibrations.  Next I will open windows to release.  As we embrace the new year, I will smudge again and sprinkle holy water throughout, light our new candle and burn new incense to protect and promote enlightenment.
This is my ritual, but you can purge and purify in many ways as long as you affirm goodness and blessings as your heart and soul will be open to our universe.  Hold all in light with love.
We pave the way for hope and prosperity by preparing a special meal of steaks and crab legs with the classic spinach dip with hawaiian bread, veggies and healthy salad; and homemade chicken soup will promote health. We are not so much for the libations but I do have some warm glug with cinnamon at the ready.  The most important part of the day is to be with those you love and offer hugs and smooches as needed.
learn from yesterday
live for today
hope for tomorrow

Sunday, December 30, 2012

holiday treats


The holidays are not complete without a plethora of pleasing sweets. Just ask little Yai Ya.  He sampled one of my creations and the verdict was a big MMMMMMM. 
Mom's Wreath Treats
My mom made these every year and while I could not find her recipe, I conjured up my own using her basics.  These do not stay around for long as I have made four batches already; yesterday I used yellow to make sunflowers for the new year.  This one is guaranteed to please your pallate and the beauty of it all is absolutely no baking required.
3 cups each rice krispies and corn flakes (6 cups total)
(at first I could not find corn flakes and used frosted flakes, so you can easily use 2 cups krispies, corn and frosted flakes if you desire)
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. sea salt
10 oz. mini marshmellows
(the large don't adhere as well, but you can still use them)
green and red food coloring and sprinkles
1 cup each pecans and coconut
Melt butter and sea salt in a large pot.  Add marshmellows and stir.  Remove from heat and add cereals, mixing quickly.  Add coconut and nuts.  Add food color.  Form into balls, mold and press on cookie tray.  Add green sprinkles for red wreaths and vice versa.  The wreaths will adhere quickly once they set, so no worries about falling apart. 
Janet's Thin Mints and Do Si Dos
Another stovetop cookie that is quite easy to make.  I shared the thin mints a few years ago, so I'll just add the pb recipe.
ritz crackers
1 bag each dark and ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup oil
peanut butter
Spread pb on each cracker and set aside.  In a medium pot, melt all chocolates with oil and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and dip pb crackers in chocolate and let sit on a cookie tray lined with wax paper.  This is important for if you do not use the paper, the cookies will stick to the tray and fall apart.  Cool in fridge or garage on days like today.  Bring back to room temperature for 20 minutes then separate.  Another winner.
Mom's Cherry Ring
I stumbled upon this recipe in a school fundraiser cookbook from years past and it was labeled Virg's Cherry Ring.  I had to make it at that point, as this season she has been channeling her baking skills into me all month.  I usually only make kolacky cookies but found myself following her footsteps in recipes for nut cups, almond and pecan crescents, sugar cookies as well as the tons of assorted kolackies and above recipes.  After yesterday I am done with sweets for a long time.  My goal is accomplished. 
1 cup water
 1/2 cup butter
 1 cup flour
 4 eggs
 1 cup milk
 3/4 cup sour cream
 3 (3/4 pkg.) vanilla instant pudding
 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
 2 cans cherry pie filling
Cook water, flour and butter to boil, stir vigorously until it forms a ball (about 1 minute)  Remove from heat.  Add eggs and beat until smooth.  Drop dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheet to form 8" ring and smooth with spatula.  (I actually used my round pizza stone) Bake until puffs are golden (50 minutes on 400 degrees)  Cool for 20 minutes, then cut off the top with a sharp knife.
  Beat milk, sour cream, pudding (dry), add almond extract (about 1 minute)
Fill cream puff ring with pudding mixture, then spoon 1 can of cherry pie filling on top of pudding.  Replace top of cream puff ring and spoon remaining can of cherry filling on top.  Refrigerate. 
You can just make individual puffs if you do not prefer a ring.
Ponti waiting for a morsel ~ he has a huge sweet tooth ~ sorry Poncho, no can do for you
Had to add this pic of Bambi drinking out of her water glass (she prefers this to her water bowl)
Thumper ~ Ozis ~ Bambi hovering the table
Dillan and Thumper
Last but not least, our Big Daddy looking sharp at 77.
Sweet dreams, ya'll. xo

Saturday, December 29, 2012

dillan at 18 months

Our little sunshine is growing up fast.  He is not a little baby anymore, but rather an explorer of his world.  He is intrigued by lights more than anything and gets a kick out of mastering the on and off switches.  Dillan spends his time figuring out just how things work in his little pocket of life.   He takes his time up and down stairs (and we have a lot of stairs.)  He loves music and tinkles the ivory ever so gently, dabbles with Dan's drums when he visits, strums the guitars and mostly dances to his favorite tunes, which most recently include a Christmas video of all the old songs from various kid movies like Frosty, Rudolph and Santa. He refers anything Christmas as Ho Ho Ho.  Jingle Bells is the all time favorite and he gets a kick when we sing it to him while ringing the bells. He eats by himself more often than not and is very proud of this accomplishment.  Stars and Mr. Moony are his favorites these days.
 He still loves playing peek a boo and when we have down time, I will load up the videos of him and he giggles with glee.  Books are his best entertainment but Thomas is his bestest buddy. He is with my sister Kiki's new pup, Spartacus, showing him all about Thomas. 
Always wearing a smile, Dillan finds joy in just about everything he does.  Look at the choppers! Since he comes over here every Monday and Tuesday, we try to get our fill of fun.  We take the doggies for walks and let them roam in the back field and he will clap for them to come home.  They adore him for he makes sure they get their treats.
Grandpa set up the old train set that our boys played with a quarter of a century ago, but leave it to Little Tikes and all it took was a new battery and voila, good to go.  We put it in the room now designated the North Pole.
One afternoon we brought him to Yorktown to ride the choo choo and he was in all his glory.  We saw Santa and he gave a big wave to Dillan.  Nice memories.
We discovered a very cool place near our home called All Aboard Diner where kids can grab their meals via train delivery and be amazed at all the trains in the diner. So fun and who knew it's been there five years already?  When one becomes a grandparent, we become more aware of these places once again. 
That evening we gathered Dillan's Mom and Dad to look at holiday lights.  We visited the Darien award winner Truhlar home (Mike's buddy Anthony) and carried on to the famous Frohn house in Bolingbrook.  Lights galore!  Spectacular to see.
Our little man is learning so many things and 18 months is a huge milestone with wee ones.  He understands directions, likes to help clean up (like Thomas, he is very useful), helps get dressed, uses words but still in baby babble, especially since he is learning English and Lithuanian simultaneously.  He knows the routine before naps and I show him our statues and say prayers, then tell him all the people who love him and how beautiful he is.  Every week he changes and we anxiously await what new thing he does to amaze us. 
This picture says it all.  He adores his Dapa who stops by every lunch hour just to get in a few hugs. I am Nana.  His biggest fan, however, is Dadeeeee.  He points to pictures of Mike all over the place. When Mommy comes to pick him up after work, he dashes to her and gives a huge hug.
Dillan helped his uncle T open presents as the doggies hovered nearby.  Steve fondly refers to Dillan as Buddy and make the most of their time here.  Now that the little guy is into coloring, next he will be learning how to paint with T.
As Dillan loves fishies, Mike and Margarita took him on the adventure downtown to the Shedd Aquarium, where he got his fill of so many beautiful crustacians.  His journey is just beginning to unfold and we are completely blessed to be part of it.  xo

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas



Saturday, December 22, 2012

happy milestone birthdays

Happy Milestone Birthday to Steve, Darcy and Margarita.
First Steve hit the big 21 and entered his journey into official adulthood.  He will always be our Little Man, but he is well on his way to conquering his world.  As he attends DePaul, his first round showed how diligence pays off with 3 As and a B+.  Keep it up and your wings will soar wherever you want, my son.  While on school break he earned some spending dough by working at Macy's and they were so impressed with his work ethic, they kept him on for after the holidays. 
Our family tradition is that when you turn 21, Dad takes them to Tracy's in Westmont for a burger and a beer so they can get carded legally.  While Steve refrains from libations, he still ordered the brewsky and Wayne-O sipped it.  Now it's official. 

We celebrated the occasion by dining at Luciano's Woodfire Grill in Willowbrook.  We wanted a place no one ever frequented before, and the newly opened restaurant served the task.  Mike, the owner, made sure everything went smooth as silk.
Shortly thereafter, Darcy celebrated her milestone 25th birthday.  She has had quite a year filled with happy changes and we wholeheartedly embrace her into our family. 
 Darcy's folks came by for Thanksgiving so Steve made sure to capture the memory.
Mike planned a surprise 30th birthday party for his bride and we celebrated with family and friends. 
Dillan cannot quite understand how candles work.  There is no switch to turn the lights on and off and he is mesmerized by them. 
We now enjoy another extension for these blessed gatherings with Margarita's family. 
Steve did his best to get everybody in this photo.  Some guests already left, but those who lingered are included. 
God bless you all as you continue your journey.  Love and hugs xo

Saturday, December 15, 2012

dan and darcy betrothed

So here we are, attending a graduation party celebrating Darcy's accomplishment from Lewis University, and all of a sudden, our son, Dan, asks us all to gather round so he could make a toast to Darcy.  It took him five attempts to get her to agree to a toast but finally she did.
 He mentions how proud he is of her and the life they are building in their new home, with their new puppy, Bambi, and he has a question for her...
Dan mentions how much they've accomplished together this year
and the next logical step is to propose marriage, so on bended knee, he asks if she will be his wife...
she accepted...
Pressure is off Dan, now.  He shared the secret with his best buddies Cody and Casey who attended the event to keep him from the nerves and of course, his brother, Steve, who captured photos of the happy event.  What a week he had prior to the proposal, making sure I wasn't home so he could fetch the sentimental ring waiting in the wings from Gramzie Helen. 
Now they begin another journey in planning a wedding party, but something tells me after our trip to Negril earlier this year, we may be having a destination wedding in the works.  However they choose, it will be delightful.
Bambi a.k.a. Bam Bam, looks on as his mommy and daddy hug everyone.
Congratulations to the happy couple.  May God bless you both today and always.  xo

Friday, November 16, 2012

vanessa and jason wedding

Vanessa and Jason Mielzynski tied the knot on November 16.
This wedding was loaded with detail, as you can see.
I was priviledged to provide the pew bows for the church.
The Tapia and Mielzynski parents with bride and groom.
The wedding party...
and with big daddy
and some of their cousins
This is the new generation beginning their journey. After all the planning and hoopla, this was a night to remember as we all gathered to celebrate their bond.  Congratulations, Jason and Vanessa Mielzynski.  May God bless you always. xo

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

fall food (dillan's breakfast)

As autumn arrives I thought it appropriate to share Dillan's breakfast menu.  We have a pretty cool routine together on Monday and Tuesday and after he arrives, we take a walk around the neighborhood.  When we get home, he enjoys his breakfast wholeheartedly.  He has started to experiment with eating on his own and is showing signs of being ambidexterous.   
Oatmeal for Dillan
I discovered a delicious embellishment to the everyday oatmeal recipe and it really makes a difference in taste.  Instead of cooking old fashioned oats the old fashioned way, in a skillet, try toasting the oats in a tablespoon of butter for four minutes.  Then I pour 2 1/2 cups toasted oats into a pot with 2 cups milk and 2 cups water and simmer for 25 minutes. Add applesauce, a dash of cinnamon and mushed banana to the mix.  Hearty.  He also has a piece of toast and sips a little juice to wash things down.  He likes to feed some of his toast to me and giggles when I make a big deal out of how good it tastes..  As he would suggest...mmmmmm.
When Grandpa comes by during his lunch break, words cannot describe the bond these two guys have formed, so this photo will have to do.  All day long he asks for his Grandpa and even points to a photo in his favorite book that kinda sorta looks like him.  It's amazing and beautiful to witness.
We spend our day looking at the garden, walking outside with the doggies, listening and dancing to his Bingo music, turning the lights on and off and basically, checking out how things work in his world.  He will spend 20 minutes playing with the pots and pans, sorting the lids and pretending they are drums, since his uncle no longer keeps his here.  Our dogs are bonding with him as well and I am amazed at how they are learning to respect boundaries and how he enjoys giving them treats and brushing their hair.  His biggest thrill is playing peekaboo, I'm gonna get you.  Screams galore!
When Uncle Steve is not in school, Dillan (Buddy) knocks on his door and squeals when he sees him for he knows all the fun games they play together.  They check out the garden and he also likes his music and bops around listening to it, especially Lady Gaga.
Uncle Dan stopped by on his birthday and entertained the little guy for a bit.  Dillan and the doggies sang to him.  He keeps looking downstairs wondering where they went but he had a recent visit to his new place.  Eventually, he'll put the pieces together.
Daddy and Dillan.  No words necessary:  priceless. 
As he continues to amaze us with his cuteness, I must share this little clip depicting his personality.  Hope it brings a smile and even a little chuckle.  Magnify that by a million and you will know our bliss. 
Happy fall, y'all xo