make stew, not war. 

The mornings are chilly and the nights are getting cold, this means several things. ONE, the toilet seat is freezing when you wake up to pee, TWO–I’m STILL not switching to hot coffee, and THREE, It’s SOOOO annoying to change a poop diaper on a kid dressed in multiple layers. HA! OKAY, four. It’s time for “fall” food! For football Sunday, we decided to make a ground turkey vegetable stew. By “we” I mean ME. My hubby had the idea. As long as I played my part, as the ‘complaining chef’. Long story short, It was delish and could’ve fed an army! Want to know how I made it? GOOD! Here ya go. 

fall flowers, fall soup …almost fall on the floor when you burn your entire mouth trying to be the first one to TRY it.

Go to the store and buy alllllll of this…


2 white or yellow onions, LOAD of garlic, portobello mushrooms, 2 small zucchini, bag of large carrots, 2 cartons of chicken/vegetable stock (whichever), bag of kale (use as much or as little as you’d like), 6-8 green onions, 5-7 celery stalks, 3 large cans of petite diced tomatoes, 1 small can of tomatoe paste, 3lbs of ground turkey, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil. a spoon. A bowl. Yes. Buy all of that. Brown rice or quinoa too, if you want that for a little carb in your soup! {we did!} 

IT’S EASY, guys– just takes lots of chopping. {before you start cooking your meat, chop EVERYTHING up so you can just DUMP it into the pot as you go}…I didn’t do that, which was annoying–so you should!  Just “guess-stimate” amounts of veggies. Or if it’s easier, use entire bags of what you bought! 

you make me emotional, but i still love you.

We used a Dutch oven for the stew, then switched to a HUGE sauce pan since we overloaded the Dutch oven. Start with olive oil in your pan (if I had to measure–which I never, ever do–unless baking…I would say 4 teaspoons of olive oil.) and get it hot, your burner should be low-low medium and toss in the finely sliced or chopped garlic and 1 diced white onion.  {you’re doing this so you can flavor and cook your ground turkey first} Save the other onion to add into the pot with the rest of the veggies. give those onions and garlic a few minutes and then PLOP in all 3 lbs of ground turkey. From the second you drop the meat into the pan, DO.NOT.STOP.CHOPPING/BREAKING UP.THE.MEAT. There’s really nothing more lovely than seeing those little “wormy” meat strings in the soup. Nope, nada, negative. Yuck. I used a metal spatula and just chopped away and kept that meat moving until just about fully done. (meat goes from a pink color to a gray and firms up) You’ll have crumbles, not blobs. PLEASE. I then seasoned the meat with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a few dashes of worcestshire …like 4 or 5. 

must keep chopping, must keep chopping, chopping chopping. gobble.

Looks pretty right? YOURS BETTER BE! ūüėú NEXT: Take the entire can of tomatoe paste and incorporate {oooh fancy!} it into the meat and garlic/onion mixture. Add those three large cans of petite diced tomatoes, juice and all, and stir. Next take every single veggie you have so beautifully chopped beforehand–and add them all in!  Lastly, add two cartons of whichever broth you chose and give it a good stir. Cover that baby and LET IT GO. Set your burner to low. You want a “SIMMA”. We let ours simmer happily for 3 hours and ate it after the game. If you’re a smart cook, you’ll have it perfectly timed for half-time. I’m not a smart cook. 

ready! {this is a picture of the leftovers as you can see we ate about 2.5 inches of it} ūüėú

Since your meat is basically cooked when you add in those veggies, the stew will be ready to eat once all of your veggies are cooked, too. Season with more salt and pepper as you go!  once everything was in the pot, I added onion powder, garlic powder, fresh parsley (15 leaves-ish?!) you don’t have to use fresh if you don’t want to!  I made a super quick bag of Trader Joe’s organic instant brown rice for those of us who wanted to add some to the bowls! 
we totally made mozzarella/provolone grilled cheese sandwiches in the cast iron, today–and used them as DUNKAROOS!
You can feed ATLEAST 10 friends on a Sunday with this. Or a Wednesday. Even a Tuesday–your friends will WANT to eat at your house. 6 of us ate it twice each and there’s still more left. You could totally freeze this too, in a freezer bag and thaw that sucker out for a few weeks down the road from now!  It’s so friggan good the next day with a cast iron grilled cheese to dunk in it! Mmmmmhmmmm. We went there. BUT– it’s equally as yummy with or without the rice, too! 

kids love these things. SO do Moms. I ate atleast 8. OINK.
my $3 lipstick matches my $3 trader joes flowers. HOW APPROPRIATE.

hoarding! it’s my thing.¬†

Why have one pair of so-and-so’s when you can have 7?! I’m thinking this has been my motto since I could speak. I have WAY TOO MUCH SH*T. Combined–after being together for almost ten years, and living in three places –you tend to ACCUMULATE. Good lord, did we ever. I’m going to expose it all in a second when I show you the HORRORS of cleaning out my garage. I mean, I found old bras in the same bin as holiday platters and craft stuff. Like–WHAT? Not only confused, but I was pissed ’cause my boobs shrunk post-Ollie, and there’s no way these things would fit now! I think when we sold the Tiverton house we literally threw all our garrrrbag√© into any container we had, and brought it along to Warwick. WHY?! Ugh. No one knows (knew). I have to say, in just a short while, I feel like we ‘made a dent’.

if you want to vomit while looking at this photo, its okay. THERE ARE PLENTY OF BUCKETS from home depot lying around, so just aim into one of them.
you could literally lose a kid in here… hmmmm….
the only item i really cared about here was the box of skyy vodka. after realizing it was filled with old drink glasses, and not delicious mommy juice– i cared no longer!

Scared? I would be! Still am, as a matter of fact. Can’t believe I just showed everyone this collection of hidden gems. Legit, hidden. Nothing is labeled and you don’t know ‘where to begin’ when trying to locate, let’s say–a frying pan. I told my husband, if it’s been in here for almost 9 months, then we probably don’t need it right? PAH. My problem is, I forgot about that special pier 1 platter, or box of decorations that we stuck in there and now I want to bust it out again! I must admit, we took two trips to savers today and it felt great. Like, so good. I also threw out 4 contractor bags full of junk/garbage/broken “stuff”.  It helps tremendously that our neighbors are allowing us to use their dumpster! 

you can see the floor! {tears of joy} insane progress was made in 2 hours of working on this beast.
he was so excited about finding a bike helmet, and. is. that. a. butter. knife. to. the. left. of. him? {i caaaaan’t}

when you have all of your STUFF and you purchase a family home as an estate sale, you tend to end up with DOUBLE the stuff. OH YEAH, our house in Tiverton sold in 17 days, so there was very little room (no pun intended) to de-clutter before leaving that house, and dumping all of our goodies here. We figured if we took what we needed out of the garage as we went along, little by little we’d get it all situated. Coming up on 9 months, here we are–in all our hoarding glory! Once we relocate the BIG ITEMS like the tractor and then sell the couches we don’t need for the new house–maybe some day an actual vehicle can fit in here.  (gasp!) 

and this is why i have to keep this item.

Good news for hoarders: this house has loads of storage. Bad news for hoarders: this house has loads of storage.  
Disclaimer: the garage is the worst of it all! Next comes the basement, which is the catch-all for everything that shouldn’t be stored in a garage. I figured as long as no one opens a closet door, we are good–and they aren’t injured by a “God knows what” falling and hitting them on the head. Honestly- you try cleaning and de-cluttering with a 1 1/2 and a 3 1/2 year old up your butt! However, I must say…now that little Miss P is in pre-school, I can do one area at a time while Ollie takes his 2-3 hour nap! My goal is to have made drastic changes over the next few weeks! Somethings gotta give with all this “STUFF”. It’s me. I get it. I “gotta give” it. away.

of course I scored these for free while leaving Savers, from a gentleman unloading a “junk removal” trailor. THESE AREN’T JUNK!

I’m glad I was able to give away a lot of our baby items that Ollie has grown out of. It’s nice to be able to hand things off to friends and cousins who are having little ones!
current thought on cleaning the rest of the house tonight.
PS–the hubby brought Penelope to Toys “R” Us tonight and came home with like 5 new toys. My life is ending. #surroundedbySTUFF 

All BLUE everything. 

Guys! Have you heard of Rocky Point Farm? Why am I from Warwick and ignorant to the fact that there’s a farm here? My cousin called one day and asked if I wanted to pick blueberries at RPF and I’m like whaaaaat?–I thought you only picked clam cakes in that area!  Long story short, the kids loved it, we picked for an hour, and it all cost a whopping $2.57 for a fun afternoon. {I’m not counting the iced coffee on the way there, and the chick-fil-a on the way home, though.} 

you could buy them already picked but WHAT FUN IS THAT?
ollie’s like, “wait a minnnnnute…we have to pick ’em?” {he’s only used to picking his nose!…and his sisters belly button}
ollie you go DIS way and i’ll go DAT way.
want to know how to keep track of your little one at a blueberry farm? park him in front of a hearty bush, and it’ll give you about ten minutes of him staying still. when you need to switch rows for picking, relocate him/her to another bush. #heatetenbucksworth #hepoopedbluethatday
trying to lure him over with more berries. here, boy!
all gym sweaty, but it was 90-something that day so it didn’t really matter, did it!? Why does he look so damn cute with a sweaty head? why don’t I?? its the eyes isn’t it? #dreamboat

…sometimes when you go blueberry picking you wear a blue shirt. You also have your mom wear one, wear your blue sneakers, shorts, and have blue eyes. Then you get blueberries on your face and that’s the best part! 

you take a cute profile shot while standing across from a blue tray table and your back is facing the fruit stand, which is coincidentally ALSO blue.
OH–and you sit on a blue bench with your bag of blueberries.
Penelope: “Ollie put them in my bucket” Oliver: {{gulp!}}

As imagined, the request for blueberry pancakes came the very next morning, followed by blueberries on top of waffles, over ice cream, in a smoothie, and in oatmeal, too.  There is definitely SUCH a difference when you pick your own. Most of ours were small and tart tasting, we got a few big and sweet, too–but you can most certainly tell what is purchased and what is picked. 

giving himself the “airplane” bite. with his blue fork… in his blue shirt….
this was mine. as they say in france, NE TOUJ√Č PAS. {don’t spellcheck that}
Truthfully, I wanted to get fancy and make a blueberry cr√®me br√Ľl√©e but I also happen to have two kids, don’t own a blow torch, and could only find 2 ramekins. #FAIL …pancakes it was. We will definitely go back and pick more berries soon. I like doing little activities after the gym in the morning/early afternoon to kind of break up our day, before Prince Charming takes a snooze. What I don’t like, is to mess with that snooze time–since it’s usually a sweet 2+ hours of just having one kiddo and then I’m able to–I don’t know, BATHE MYSELF?  …more like water the plants, straighten out, take a little swim with P, have a little lunch and wait ’til 10 pm to shower. Really let that sweat from the gym and blueberry picking in the heat of summer set in.  Yum! AND…I digress…

I’m the worst!¬†

I’ve been asked by so many to get my rear-end back on this blog wagon–because CLEARLY I’ve fallen off. Here ya have it broads…and dudes! 

We’ve been having a hell of a summer over here at our little “resort” of sorts. Doing mostly things that revolve around our in-ground pool, and tito’s vodka. So, drinking and swimming! Who wouldn’t love that? Please try and resist judging the fact that I’ve gone from wine (after first kid) to vodka, after the second! Truth is, I drink both. Ha! Only the stay at home moms know the struggle of waiting ’til 4-ish to have a little mommy juice. JK, all moms, women, and creatures of the universe who are around children know that feeling.  Guys, you have to pick the lesser of two evils, and the other evil is illegal so–YOU GET IT! …and coffee allows me to be “patient” until 4:00 rolls around, anyway. {disclaimer: I don’t drink every single day, sometimes I drink at night, instead. 


  I have to tell you, I’ve been bit of a gym rat. Like 5 days a week, type of go-er. I strongly recommend it as a way of venting and finding some adult time! The buddy system works wonders for motivation and partner workouts are actually fun. Plus, you can blast whatever obscene music into your ears while you run your behind off, you know–instead of the theme song to “Daniel Tiger’s  Neighborhood”. Skinny this, skinny that–WHATEVER, it feels good to finally {somewhat} like how I look after having the babies, and if I’m “skinny” it’s because I work out, a lot, and eat really healthy.  except for weekends because ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ healthiness on a Saturday. There is a difference between “too skinny” and “skinny and healthy”. I can’t help my metabolism, and for the record I eat more than my husband at meal time {most times}. I’m certainly not depriving myself of wine & cheese..nor that cone of rocky road, instead just making good decisions for meals during the week and enjoying my weekends like we all should this summer!    My son however is soon going to out-eat us all! That Ollie though– kid can put food down–and literally has a panic attack if you don’t share your food with him, every single solitary time you’re eating. As seen below, he’s in his happy place. AKA the highchair. [in addition to some other random pictures, too!] I’m back in the blog game for real now, so WATCH OUT! 

barely swims/mostly eats
this all fried up together to make a fabulous cauliflower chicken fried rice dish. WE ATE IT FOR DAYYYS.
i’m not telling you what’s in my cup because then you judge me. i refuse to be judged, okay? so don’t ask me. Pffffff. its a delicious concotion of being kid-free and in silence.
the most adorable floating device you’ve ever laid your eyes on. AND by floating device i mean GoesBatShitCrazy in the pool if you let him go and flips the tube over and ends up under water-type of floating device!
and the name “Mrs. Pickles” lives on…
every single thing in my life revolves around delightful snacks.

Sunnnnnnnn.

“It’s SUNNY! Run outside, before it rains!” -Penelope Violet 
(We finally got outside today for a few hours. Thank the lord. The rain…ooohhhhh it drains… yet makes the grass nice and green! Fresh air=AMAZING for the soul. Enjoy some silly pics from today.)

she isn’t looking… hold meeeee.
smile bruddah.
Ollie’s like “EW. Gross. Bugs” in the Jimmy Fallon “ewwwwa” voice.
{insert wicked witch of the west comment here}
ollie is almost to the top and penel has to pee.
Hiiiiii Neighbor! literally- she waited for our neighbor to roll down the window so she could yell and wave.

Ollie loves nature. Can’t ya tell?
Ollie: “Penel how much fertilizer did you ingest?”

So many more photos to come! The good times just never end in this house. That, along with the laundry, poop diapers, wine flow, and complaints! Love you all, talk soon!! 

In case you were wondering…

imageIn case you were wondering…

…here’s what I did today:

Got a foot in the face at 5:30 am, followed by a “MOMMMMMMY–IT’S NOT DARK OUT–TIME TO BE UP!”. Whatever that means. {eye roll}

Put Bubble Guppies on, in an attempt to get Penel to fall back asleep (in our bed), which she does not…or maybe she did ’til 6:30…couldn’t tell ya! BUT I certainly fell back asleep–with one eye open–God forbid she escapes and wakes her brother down the hall. (Who typically sleeps ’til 7:30-8!) Bless that¬†boy.¬†

she woke back up at 7, saying “I’m going outside to find Daddy! Bye mom! .” Bribed her again to come back into bed–simply because I wasn’t ready–MY BODY WASN’T READY –to¬†walk yet. (Rough gym day on Tuesday… Sore gluteus MAXIMUS)

Finally Got up, tripped over a pillow, and followed her to the toilet at 7:50-ish. (Ok, judging by the time lapse, she fell back asleep for sure.)

Wiped a butt.

Poor Ollie woke up to a large toddler HOISTING her body into his crib (nightmare-ish, I’m sure)¬†–therefor, started off his day with a scream of horror.

I put a folded pile of his clothes away…and changed him, made him a bottle, fed him some apple cinnamon oatmeal, gave Penel a yogurt, cleaned her mess,

wiped hands, mouths, necks, Chins…

Went back upstairs, got them both dressed. Dressed myself too. STRANGE.

Went to target. Grabbed formula, and a bowtie for Ollie. Duh.

Grabbed coffee.(Should’ve gotten 2!)

came home, swept house. Wiped butt(s).

untangled the kids as Penelope was bear-hugging her brother nonstop… flattening him like a pancake on the floor while he screamed over and over again. Pleasant.

Threw a load of laundry in.

Unloaded dishwasher. Reloaded dishwasher.

Penel took couch cushions off couches and made a trampoline indoors.

Made lunch for kids. Penelope fed hers to Mickey and Minnie (her plastic figurines –who now need baths). Atleast they enjoyed Nonnie’s shepherds pie leftovers.

Cleaned lunch from kids. Swept floor again. Picked crud out of high chair.

Supplied a shoulder to cry on when P went flying off the rocking recliner. that lasted 2 seconds.

Hugged the baby as he cried–because, yet again– was attacked by his sister.

Pulled her away from the fridge 4 times in a row as she reached in, grabbed whipped cream, and said she wanted “just a little taste” for snack. No Penel. Whipped cream is not a snack.

Gave Ollie a bottle, changed his diaper, got the mail, went through old mail and tossed what was necessary, took garbage out, peed, and sucked down rest of my watered down coffee.

Then he repeatedly bit my shoulder.

Warmed up leftover fish from last night which I forgot about–until I realized the house stunk like Seabra Supermarket, and so a half hour later ate the fish. Mmm.

Answered 34 toddler questions. Put on a show for the kids. Played play-doh and opened about 3-5 “play-doh surprise eggs” Penel made. Gave P a snack.

Put Ollie down for a nap. Changed laundry load. Wiped another butt. Swept living room. Watered plants.

Took Penelope outside to play, set up patio furniture. Came back in for her to pee, grabbed her yet another snack–and drink–and played on the seesaw in the new yard.

Ollie woke up, I wiped his butt, got him some pirates booty, and Penel too (kid loves snacks).

took labels off wine bottles in an attempt to start a crafting session I have up my sleeve.

Put some music on, let them unload the entire “kid” drawer of plastic dishes and cups in the kitchen. Picked that up, and put that away. Shuffled them back into playroom where Penelope screamed (5 minutes later), “OLLIE POOPED!” …changed him. P-U.

Left the bathroom door open, turned around, and found Ollie playing in toilet water. Washed his hands, shut bathroom door, relocated him to the playroom where Penel attacked him yet again. Brought her into kitchen with crayons to keep her busy. That lasted 4 minutes.

In crawls Ollie Boy, eating play-doh. Purple play-doh.

He takes every magnet off the fridge.

Penel goes potty, I left bathroom door open again (clearly didn’t learn my lesson). Sent her on her way.

…about 5 minutes later realize Penelope was way too quiet.

Walk into the playroom to find the Incredible Hulk action figure covered in Spongebob band-aids. Poor fella.

Asked how the Hulk got hurt, and was told “I punched him and now he has lots of boo-boos”.

Look over to see my empty coffee cup on the carpet, with its remains (mostly backwash and melted iced) poured into Penelope’s kid kitchen sink, with a wooden spoon sticking out of the liquid. Was told that was some “coffee soup”.

Ollie is somehow now behind me chewing on the straw from my former medium iced. I’m so confused. ¬†Its now 2:00 pm.

MOMS DON’T STOP. ‘Nuff said.

DO NOT question what I do.

Just buy me WINE. AND CHOCOLATE. And tell me how cute I look when I’m bitchy.

Goodnight…and thank you.

 

you had me at “pickle”.

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Meet Penelope–THE PICKLE FINDER!

I can certainly tell you that our first “Christmas Pickle” experience was a cute one! ¬†Also, I can’t believe Penelope (at 2 and a half) remembered that she would have to ‘find the pickle’¬†first¬†to start the unwrapping process. Seeing as how her baby brother can’t walk yet, and was only interested in the taste of tissue and wrapping paper, she had a¬†slight¬† advantage this year.

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Great story and Fabulous pictures!

Without giving too much away, the story tells an adorable tale of how “Pickle Elf” creates the tradition of ‘finding the pickle’ and learns the true meaning of giving¬†during the holiday season. Very sweet!¬†(Considering all ‘kids do these days’ is count their presents!)

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First Penelope wanted to “read” it to her brother…

We decided to read the kids the Christmas Pickle Tradition book on the morning of Christmas Eve, knowing that we would be out late eating our 7 courses of seafood (as I teased you with¬†in an earlier post), and they’d most likely be snoring when we got back home. We kept the book on display under our tree until we were ready to read the story…and let them have the first go at it.

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but he was turning the pages too quickly…

…so then Daddy read it to them!

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Santa hung the Pickle right under Penelope’s Olaf ornament. ¬†He must’ve known she would look there!

Mommy and Daddy had to leave the pickle ornament out, next to the cookies & milk so that Santa would know he needed to hide it on the tree!

IMG_9576
“Tadaaaa!” she yelled when she found it–and naturally, ¬†yanked it right off the tree!

This year, we started a new tradition that we will ALWAYS keep. ¬†Just like the Elf on the Shelf tradition, the kids will look forward to reading The Christmas Pickle Tradition book¬†before Santa comes each year,¬†and racing to the tree on Christmas morning. ¬†If you haven’t heard of it yet–you now have! (AND–you have roughly 354 days ¬†to invest in one!)¬† Head over to http://www.ChristmasPickleTradition.com , where you can learn more about the sweet (or sour) tradition, and buy a giftset for yourself–or someone you love! ¬†We were lucky enough to receive an autographed copy in the mail to try out, and it’s something we will look forward to “unpacking” each year with our christmas decorations!

**A special thanks to Tammy Lee Dwyer for keeping my kids glued to each and every page–and for our gift set! Penelope has always been nicknamed “Mrs. Pickles”, so this was perfect¬†for our family!**

can’t wait to eat!

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Candy cane drool on her shirt from struggling to open the package with her teeth. Goof. This facial expression brought to you by: NO NAP.

Remember being 7 or 8 and asking the good old question “do you like seafood?” and then sticking out your already been chewed,¬†food-filled tongue while¬†yelling, “SEE MY FOOD?” …whether the person answered ‘yes’ or not? ¬†YA–I’m proud to say I’ve grown out of that stage and I eat the actual good stuff! Truth is, I was raised with a fabulous appreciation of all eclectic types of food and really loved my family’s cooking–except “tripe”–because god help me If I’m going to eat a bowl of chewy linings to a cow’s stomach–whether it’s in a red sauce or not, I’M ALL SET.

IMG_8803
these are from the annual “ugly sweater yankee swap” party. Scratch and sniff photo options would be great here, with all that cheese.

 

*below is an actual phone conversation from approximately 10:43 am on Dec. 24th 2015*

Mom: SO, tonight for apps we are going to do the smoked fish, snail salad, shrimp cocktail, cheese & crackers–and stuffies. ¬†Next course will be baked stuffed shrimp, and new england clam chowder. ¬†After that, we’ll do Dad’s fish baked casserole with tomatoes and onions and I’m gonna make the linguine alio with olives, onions, garlic, banana peppers and clams–oh and I’m leaving some linguine without the clams, if people want it that way too. ¬†…and the stuff that you’re bringing…. you think that’s enough?!

Me: hmm…no…not at all. HA. I’m bringing blueberry goat cheese and making an orzo dish with portabello mushrooms, garlic, onions, spinach… but that doesn’t even matter when you hear about all the other stuff!¬†

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more apps and snacks. The best part is, 2 more families arrived after these pictures were taken so the table filled up even more!

Did I mention nothing is store bought? Except the crackers and cheese (haha). …AND the wine.. because they didn’t feel like getting barefoot to crush the grapes this year. Kidding. Ew. ¬†Tonight is the night for my parents ULTIMATE-ANNUAL-CHRISTMAS EVE SPREAD. It’s no joke people, this is real, and happens annually. ¬†Although, we’d have it monthly, it gets expensive!

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my dish for tonight! Open up, people! (actual photo)

I think it’s safe to say that some people just “don’t get it” when it comes to entertaining–and others (my family) could run a freakin’ restaurant and feed families across the globe with the amounts of food made for holidays that involve 15 people. OK, maybe that wording was harsh. ¬†It’s not that families don’t “get it” it’s just that their holiday meals can’t compare–OOOF!–that was rude too, Okay, just come over and see for yourself how amazing the selection is. ¬†The only thing is, you’re kind of screwed if you don’t like seafood! (You can have cheese, crackers, my orzo dish, and the “clamless” linguine, though!) ¬†I, personally like to believe/am confident in the fact that, my family GETS IT. ¬†Maybe not in the “sane”¬†department (HA!) BUT–in the food/drink department, for sure. Need a wine recommendation for seafood? Go with WHITE–and we love Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, or Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc–both from New Zealand–shout out to all my peeps over there at the vineyard.

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This photo was not staged at all. Easiest Sangria–ever. Bottle of Pinot Grigio, Half a bottle of white grape juice, half a bottle of club soda, dash of brandy, garnish with cut up granny smith apples, drop in cranberries–SERVE. gulp. done.

Ever since I was a little girl¬†(last year) I can remember the¬†spread.¬†Different traditions for different holidays, food for an army–and their neighbors–a full bar set up, appetizers, cheeses, meats, macaroni, meatballs, chicken, cupcakes, donuts, seafood–WHATEVER THE HELL YA WANTED–it was there. Store bought? God, no. ¬†Everything was made…by an italian relative–or a “family friend” who we called auntie/cousin because let’s face it, it was close enough. ¬†It’s amazing to me how much help with the “menu” we have when someone hosts a holiday or party. ¬†Every family brings an appetizer or dessert, helps you clean, helps you get to your drinking “happy place” (duh), but most importantly–is there to spend time with FAMILY.¬†¬†What more could you ask for!? SOME people don’t have this luxury…or 110 people on their guest lists for parties–can’t figure out which it is.

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OHHHH COME LET US ADORRRRRE HIM.

Growing up with Grandma Lucy (lord bless¬†her crazy heart) we were brainwashed into thinking other people couldn’t cook, and we should ONLY wat our family’s food. ¬†…We later learned that other families actually COULD, but she was partial to our family recipes–and felt no one could compare! NOTHING, and I mean Nuuuuuh-thing could trump “her family”. ¬†SO, I guess that’s where my snotty attitude of NEVER EATING sauce out of a jar came from. ¬†She had the same attitude about “jar sauce”–yet because we had her wrapped around our finger as kids, bought us the 12 pack of Spaghettio’s from “SAM’S” if we begged for it. My mom refused to buy that “crap”, but Gram allllllways had our backs when “they” said NO.

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the Spaghetti-o kids.
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last minute tree toppers on sale–today only. Includes unbrushed teeth and frizzy hairdo.

Around the holidays, especially, you start to miss the people we have lost along the way. ¬†It’s sometimes difficult because you wish they could still spend these holidays with you, and your new family–but then you realize “that’s life”. ¬†Well, “It’s A Wonderful Life”¬†(how’d you like that Christmas reference?). ¬†Honestly, I am so fortunate to have my parents here, and so many loved ones who care a TREMENDOUS amount for me and my children (Brian too, I guess), that I can’t help but think of families who are less fortunate. ¬†That being said, leaving stop and shop this morning I handed Penelope some quarters to give to the lady ringing the Salvation Army “bell” and she told the lady…”No thanks! It’s my money.” ¬†(…aaaaand we are still learning how to “give”). ¬†SO, I’ll leave with you that, and the mouthwatering FOOD pics. Enjoy. Bon Appetite. Which is french, because I don’t feel like googling the Italian version. Oh yeah– MANGIA!¬†

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Santa, return the gifts and give him ribbon.

From the bottom of my DRAMATIC heart, I wish you all a WONDERFUL holiday season and nothing but “HAPPY” in your 2016! ¬† ¬†

Check out our slideshow from the Ugly Sweater Yankee Swap!

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we are definitely the “jolliest” bunch. ¬†(too bad i only got pictures of my family and the food–I swear there was other people there, and gifts for the swap. Some photographer I turned out to be).

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loads of christmas cards? use a hole puncher to make holes and thread some burlap string/ribbon/yarn through to make card banners! Easy–AND FREE decoration!¬†

Ohhhh it’s a jolly holiday…

  

this is how you get your child to eat a turkey and provolone sandwich. you cover it in junk and shape it like a gingerbread house
 …And just like that you escape your children, leave the house alone, run to the drive-thru for a chocolate croissant and your mocha iced coffee and you are home free. When in reality you are rushing to TJ Maxx for the 67th time this month and you are determined to completely be done with your shopping by tonight. Poor little Ollie boy kind of got shafted this year (as if he was around last year) so I felt the need to grab him some more little gifts. As my mom and I were saying, “he doesn’t know”, which, he doesn’t–but WE KNOW, so we didn’t want to jip the guy. We tried to go light this year on the whole  “Santa” thing seeing as how we are moving and certainly don’t need more crap to take with us. Speaking of crap, I dropped my phone this morning and Penelope looked at me and slowly spoke the words, “holy crap mama.” #soproud

one parent is hungover and one parent is making an ugly sweater tonight. I’ll keep you guessing.

So. I’M making the ugly sweater, and my hubby is the hungover one! Hehe.  Conveniently, my favorite v neck Gap Sweater came out of the wash with a huge hole in it this morning, making it garbage–aka the base of my ugly sweater. You’ll have to wait for the photo to see just how UGLY we are talkin’, here. I did a national lampoons inspired sweater/mixed with who-ville. Grabbed the lime green Pom-Pom garland at Targ√© for 3 bucks tonight. 
 

bass pro shops has the biggest and best tree to pose in front of. get it boo.
  
   …sometimes you forget how awesome your family really is until you are at a holiday with them. My family cooks everything, soup to nuts-really. Tomorrows (today’s) Yankee swap/sweater shindig will have the best apps and desserts, because my “crew” can deliver a mean spread. They are LOUD as all hell, and yes, I’m one of the loudest ones! But I just have to get my point across..ya know ? After a few cocktails, everybody has to sing “the 12 days of Christmas” and then we do the Yankee swap or vice versa who knows– like I said, it’s after a few cocktails. 
“who is this guy, and why’d he just offer my sister a dollhouse?” -Oliver
  

I’m whipping up a non-traditional bruschetta made with prosciutto, arugula, some sort of fig chutney and possibly soft goat cheese. I’m just going to “make it up as I go”–per usual. My mom isn’t a goat cheese fan. She says it tastes like the actual goat which sometimes–I agree.  You can sort of see that because when you take the first bite–it hits you like a petting zoo, and then becomes amazing. BJ’s wholesale sells cranberry cinnamon and blueberry goat cheeses  which are out-of-this-world. Addicting. I may have to cheat and just use one of those for my “chutney and cheese” combo. 

long live alfalfa.
  

We have so much planned for this week as far as the jolly holiday is concerned. I’ll be sure to document every moment and share it with you peeps.  As her right now I’m going to bed because my nose is so stuffy that when I say the word “mom” …it sounds like “Bob”…good night! 

 

yes , Virginia, there IS a Penelope.
 #eyebrow 

’tis the season!

All aboard! If you haven’t taken a ride on the Polar Express…then GRAB YOUR JAMMIES and go! Blackstone Valley Railroad puts on the event annually for the holidays and it is totally worth the hype. We had so much fun drinking hot cocoa, singing carols,¬†and meeting Santa this year! What a special experience for Penelope, Oliver, and their cousins Milania and Kiara (special thanks to their grandparents for the fun day!)

Check out the slide show from the fabulous Christmas experience we had!

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Who’s in the mood for the holidays? Meeeeeeee. ¬†So excited for this time of year for many reasons. The most important, obviously being the festive cocktails…but…coming in at a close second would have to be Penelope’s excitement at the site of reindeer, glitter, lights, cookies, and TOY COMMERCIALS. ¬†It’s pretty comical to watch her yell at the kids who are playing with whatever toy they are advertising–as if they have any clue, “Heyyyyy! THAT’S MINE!” ummmm… no child you don’t need the “wubble bubble” or the “Peek-a-boo” that holds your phone. You actually won’t be getting a phone until you’re 38.¬†Try explaining to a toddler that the toy on TV isn’t theirs. ¬†It’s also not the child on TV who is playing with its, either! Hmm, weird.

My family is SUPER into the holidays, meaning we have christmas events/ parties/yankee swaps/”get togethers” every weekend. We just can’t stand how much we all love each other. I mean, really…it’s cute. ¬†Know what else is cute? The amount of money —really Brian’s money– I’ve spent between TJ Maxx, Old Navy, GAP, and Target lately. THANKS HUN! What’s yours is mine…remember?! What’s mine is yours–a.k.a. OUR CHILDREN. Enjoy! I have to say I’m pretty surprised that the ‘lines’ at these stores aren’t longer. ¬†The hustle and bustle must not start ’til the 20th! I’m pretty ahead of my shopping game this year, in fact– I’m done… I think. There’s always someone you realize you’ve forgotten on like, the 23rd of December, though. You. Will. Never. Know. If. You. Are. That. One. Muah-ah-ahhhhh.

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…so so so so excited to start this tradition with my kiddies!¬†Considering¬†Ollie doesn’t walk yet (thank god), Penelope will be the pickle finder this year, but next year she’ll have some competition!!

Seeing as how Penelope’s first nickname–ever— was MRS. PICKLES, this is the absolute PERFECT thing for us to start up. ¬†We were so excited to receive this autographed copy of the book, along with its gift set in the mail, and we plan to read it this week in our christmas jammies!

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Be the kiddo¬†to find me on Christmas Day, and you’ll get to open the first gift from Santa!

What a fun gift! Want to buy one for yourself or someone in your¬†family who would love it? ¬†Head over to… http://www.christmaspickletradition.com to get yours, today!