Monday, February 28, 2011

Joy of Love - When I LOVE him the MOST

I LOVE when he puts the children first. Poor J was dealing with a bad cold, but he decided to put it on the back burner and escort Miss Lil to her first Daddy/Daughter dance. They were simply adorable and this is what makes me LOVE him the most!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joy of Love - Where

Today's challenge calls for a photo that documents WHERE I was when I knew I loved them. Unfortunately my digital pics only go back to about 2004 and my scanner is broken so I couldn't scan in an old pic of my hubby and I. I have the perfect picture in mind too. It's one of Jack and I dressing up to go see the Phantom of the Opera. I think we were about 19. I wore this adorable black dress, and was so skinny. Hehehe We looked so young and in-love.

But since I can't find the pic and the scanner is broken, I chose this one. This was when I was pregnant with Zoey. She came into the world about 3 months after this pic was taken, but I knew I loved her already. She was the easiest of my 3 pregnancies (but take that statement lightly, because none of them were easy). I was sick for the shortest amount of time. I didn't gain as much weight. Labor was quickest. I was on bed-rest towards the end because her head dropped behind my pelvic bone and was causing some pain, but it was nothing compared to the other two pregnancies. But I knew...I knew how much she was going to be perfect. And she is. This is WHERE she was when I fell in love with her.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Joy of Love - Facebook

Today's assignment was to find an old photo of those I love (perhaps one that was uploaded to FB, which mine was not).

I love this picture, even if the vacation was not the greatest.

Marco Island, FL was a beautiful place to visit. It has these amazing white sand beaches.

The moment we arrived in Marco, however, I started feeling ill. It turns out I had strep throat and had to call my doc in IL to send prescription meds to me in Marco Island (which doesn't have a pharmacy, so Jack had to drive to Naples to get it for me). Once the meds kicked in, I was feeling much better (Day 3, I think). So for the first day or two of our vacation I was alone in the hotel room bed, shivering and feverish. Then we found out while we were down there that my grandmother had passed away. So, it was not the best of trips. It wasn't quite warm enough to be beach weather, but it wasn't cold. But this picture captures the beauty of the island and I love looking back at my kids and seeing how small and fragile and precious they were. And how odd it seems that only two of them were alive in this pic. This isn't all of them...but at the time it was and I love them!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Joy of Love - Face

Today's challenge was to capture the smiling face of someone I love. I can't get enough of those chubby cheeks, sparkly eyes and kissable chin! I love her!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joy of Love - Hands

Every night before we eat dinner we say a prayer together as a family. Zoey has just begun joining us. She loves to tell everyone to fold their hands. She hasn't quite figured out that we fold our hands by alternating fingers from each hand as you can see above, but I simply adore watching her try! I love her chubby, little folded baby hands!


Happy 9th Birthday to the sweetest, quirkiest, funniest, silliest, smartest, happiest 9-year-old boy I know! Love you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joy of Love - When They are Home

When the kids are home from school, they expect me to do something crafty with them. On this particular day Jack and Lily were at the Auto Show, Zoey was sleeping and Matt asked me if we could make a homemade volcano. A little bit of Playdoh, some baking soda, dish soap, food coloring and vinegar made a big splash! Gotta love that!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joy of Love - When They are Gone

This photo challenge was to set the self timer and show what life is like when my loved ones are gone! Easy-peasy! Zoey and I are home all day together while Jack is at work and Matt & Lil are at school! We play, watch tv, read, and have fun together! I love that I get this quality alone time with Z! I love it!

Joy of Love - Going Out

This challenge was to have someone else take our picture to show what we look like when we go out. We were heading out to our favorite restaurant - Francesca's! This is the usual dress code - jeans! I love-love-love scarves in the winter and pretty much wear them everywhere. I have lots of different scarves! It's my thing! It's what I love!

Photo courtesy of Matt.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Joy of Love - Wedding Jewelry

These bands are over 13 years old. They are beaten up, scratched, battered...our hands are old, wrinkly and dry from this awful winter air. I really should have put some lotion on before taking this pic, but I love the pose and how it turned out, so I did a soft glow to take the focus off of our dry hand and onto our rings!
I love them and what they represent to ME!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Joy of Love - Routines

The Sunday morning routine -- coffee and the auto section of the newspaper! I love that this is HIS routine!

Joy of Love - Dreams

This pic is for the challenge to capture my love's dream. His dream is to finish this entire project himself! It is coming along wonderfully! I am so proud of him!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Joy of Love - Self Portrait

Capturing a self-portrait with my main squeeze! I love her!

Prosciutto-Pea Sauce on Whole Wheat Ravioli

Prosciutto-Pea Sauce on Whole Wheat Ravioli

Cook whole wheat ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook 4 oz. chopped prosciutto (I got mine from the deli and I asked for it shaved) in a skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil until crisp about 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Cook 1 minute. Ladle in 1 cup of the pasta-cooking water and simmer about 4 minutes or until reduced by half. Add ¼ cup heavy cream and simmer for about 3 more minutes. Stir in ½ cup of frozen peas and a handful of coarsely chopped parsley. Serve over pasta and top with parmesan.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joy of Love - Kiss

The challenge was to capture a kiss between those I love. Isn't this one simply precious? It only took about 18 tries, but she finally turned her head towards Matt to give him a kiss back. LOL All of the other pics are of Matt kissing her on the cheek while she played with water and paid no attention. How could I NOT love this??

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joy of Love - Eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul.

Those are the eyes of the people I love. Crystal clear, blue ocean waters, clouds in the sky. Dreams of what is yet to come. All of this and more bottled into the eyes of these beautiful children. I love them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am Human!

Yes, it is true! I am 100%, all human. And now I have the proof.

You see, I have some friends who like to joke around with me and call me the Martha Stewart of our group, or Little Suzy Homemaker. They think that it is supernatural to be able to work a consulting job, take care of three small children, keep up with the housework, chaperone & chauffeur to all of the kids' activities, help kids with homework, read everyday, participate in photography challenges, find time to make three meals everyday, write my blog, scrapbook and occasionally workout.

I've been telling people for years that, Yes, I do all of those things, but I really don't do any of them extremely well. My house is never perfectly clean. There is a lot of dust and I can't find time to wash my floors every week. The laundry piles up...often! There is inevitably ALWAYS a dirty dish in the sink. My kids are not perfect. Time out is used on a daily basis. I fall asleep on the couch before cleaning up after dinner. I sometimes skip workouts. I occasionally pick up fast food for dinner. I sometimes get frustrated with helping my children do their homework (and Yes, I am a teacher!) Sometimes my scrapbook pages look amateurish. Days go by with no blogs from me.

Which leads me to the reason I am telling you all of this. Yesterday was Valentine's Day. In my true form, I planned out my weekly meals on Sunday and on that list was crockpot Italian Sausage, garlic bread and rigatoni for dinner (which came out fabulous, I must say) and some chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. I saw the recipe on Baked Bree website and it looked simple and delicious.

I followed the directions exactly. I was excited to make this special, heartfelt dessert on V-Day! The kids helped too!

When I took them out of the oven to cool....this happened....

They caved in. They were mushy and ugly. I didn't give up, though. I went ahead and made the frosting and tried covering up the ugliness with frosting swirls on top.

And this is how crappy they looked! Failure! Of the worst kind! This was my nasty, ugly Valentine dessert for my family! It's a good thing they got boxes of chocolate too! Otherwise, I would have had to go out and buy a sweet for my sweets.

See, not all recipes turn out. I am not good at everything all of the time. I am human. And glad to be!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Panko Chicken with Carmelized Onions

Panko Chicken with carmelized onion sauce

1/3 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 small onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves minced garlic

Place flour in one bowl. Please eggs in second bowl. Combine panko with oregano, paprika and salt in a third bowl. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg, coat evenly with panko mixture. Heat 3 tbsp of EVOO in skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken 4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and keep warm. To pan drippings add garlic and onions. Stir in a tsp or two of flour and a splash (about 1-2 tbsp) of heavy cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve on top of cooked chicken.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Joy of Love -- SPACE

Today's photo op is to capture the SPACE where my loved ones are most comfortable!

This pic is a two-fer...Jack is most comfortable anywhere that he has a cup of coffee in his hand!
Lily is most comfortable anywhere that she can touch another human. She has issues with personal space and tends to need to be near people...all.the.time. It can be invasive at times, but we just remind ourselves that this little sweetie has a sensory processing disorder and needs input most of the time. We try really hard to accomodate. The most challenging time is during the middle of the night when she climbs into someone else's bed (usually ours) because she needs to be near someone.

...and this little stinker butt is most comfortable getting into things where she doesn't belong! Hehehe

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joy of Love - Passions


Oh, so easy. Technology is such an integral part of this family's life...I don't know what we'd do or where we'd be without it. When someone is looking for Matt there is usually only one answer...he's on some version of technology. Don't get me wrong...this kid LOVES to read. In fact, he bought more books at Barnes & Noble the other day than the rest of us combined! He loves his chapter books and reads them every night, but during his waking hours, you'll find this boy on the internet, playing Wii, Playstation, word games on mom's Kindle, jamming to itunes, designing roller coasters on the computer. In fact, I don't think he has any idea what life was like pre-technology. I'd say it is this boy's PASSION!! Unfortunately, the lighting was really, really bad for this pic. I know this is a photography challenge, and this pic stinks, but I think it tells the story, and for that...I am grateful.

Pork Marsala

I'm taking a day off from the photography challenge (because I haven't been able to capture the pictures I want to take during good day light hours), so I'm bringing you a recipe.

I am apologizing in advance to my friend Pam, who doesn't like mushrooms, because this recipe is loaded with them! Sorry, Pam! :)

Pork Marsala with Spinach

1.5 lbs boneless pork loin roast
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
2/3 cup chicken broth
½ cup marsala wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 lemon juiced

1. Heat the oven to 375*. Butterfly the pork by cutting it in half horizontally almost the whole way through, then open like a flattened book. Season both sides with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 2 tbsp flour. Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in skillet and brown pork about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to glass baking dish and cook about 20 minutes or until thermometer reads 140*.
2. Add the mushrooms and ¼ tsp salt to the skillet and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add 1 tbsp flour and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add broth and marsala. Bring to a boil. Add cream and boil about 8 minutes. Turn off heat and add 2 tsp lemon juice (and fresh parsley if desired).
3. Serve with fresh spinach that has been wilted over low heat with 1 tbsp of EVOO and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Joy of Love Days 6, 7 & 8

I think I am finally caught up with my challenge now. Feel free to join in and post your pics on your blog or facebook page! I'd love to see what you come up with.

Day SIX of the Joy of Love Challenge was to take a picture of WHO my loved ones LOVE.

This is my Matt-Matt, and he loves Cleo. Every morning Cleo cimbs the stairs up to the loft to lay on desk while Matt plays on the computer. Every night Cleo jumps onto Matt's bed and annoys him with purrs and nudges, wanting lots of love! I love that Matt is a compassionate kid and loves his pets so much!

Day Seven of the challenge was called GENERATIONS.

I was supposed to capture several generations of my loved ones on film. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to this one yet, so in lieu of a recent pic, here is one from Thanksgiving that I captured of my husband's aunt Grace, with him and Lily. I know it isn't a direct line of generations, but my husband's parents have both passed away, so this is the next best thing.

Day EIGHT of the challenge (that's today! Yay!) is called GIFT FROM THE HEART.

Seventeen years ago this month, Jack came into the classroom where I was student teaching and proposed to me in front of my cooperating teacher (and now one of my bffs), 25 adorable second graders, and the entire office staff who were listening on the speaker. It was the most romantic gesture...EVER!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Joy of Love - Days 3, 4, 5

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I am participating in photography challenge. If you were hoping for a recipe, don't worry, I'm trying out 4 new recipes this week, which may make special appearances soon!

Day Three of the Joy of Love Challenge is called THEN AND NOW.

I thought I could find a pic of Jack from when we first started dating, and compare it today. I was going to take a close up of his hair, with the gorgeous little gray and white hairs peeking through, but I couldn't get them to photograph clearly and he wasn't being cooperative. LOL So, I decided to do a then and now using Zoey.

She has had the biggest transformation from one year ago until today. Her one year old pic on the left shows her chubby little cheeks, short baby wispy hair, squeezable little tummy. The pic on the right from a couple days ago, shows how her hair is growing so long and shiny. Her baby face is thinning out. She is getting so tall! I thought I couldn't love her any more than I did when she was one, but I was wrong! She is just the apple of my eye!

Day Four of the challenge is called WHAT THEY WEAR.

This one is Easy-Peasy, because my love wears the same kind of thing day in and day out. He is lucky because he current job is quite relaxed and allows him to wear jeans and sweatshirts to work everyday. However, since his company was recently bought out, the rumor is that he may have to start dressing more professionally! Yay! I can't wait!

This is what I see everyday. The dude has more jeans than most women (except me, of course) and so many t-shirts and sweatshirts! He loves to be comfy!

Day FIVE of the challenge is WHAT YOU LOVE TO HATE!

Oooh! This one left me with so many ideas swimming in my head!!! Love to Hate! Love to Hate! Jeesh! There are so many things that annoy me, I could take pics for days! LOL I love my family, but I am very easily annoyed!!!

So, I decided to choose something that both my husband and my son do....I don't even know what it is called or how to describe it, but it began when I started dating my husband and we would snuggle on the couch watching movies. When his shoes are off he does this annoying toe-snapping thing. It drives me crazy!!!! I have this weird aversion to feet to begin with, and then add in this annoying snapping of the toes. have now just sent me over the edge! Of course, when Jack showed it to my son, and he saw how much it grossed me out, Matt decided he had to continue the family trait! ARgh!!!!



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