Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Risotto

There is just something about ham that says "Spring" to me. Just thinking abut roasting a spiral ham makes me hungry but these days I just don't have time to spend a whole day in the kitchen. Three kiddos on four different sports team really has forced me to cook more quick meals. But quick does not have to mean tasteless food.

So if you and in the mood for a yummy ham dinner but have little time give this recipe a try. I promise you will love it!!!

Risotto with Peas and Prosciutto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (short gain)
4 to 6 cups hot chicken broth*
1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
1/2 cup roughly chopped prosciutto

Heat chicken broth to a gentle boil in a small pan. 

In another pan (medium sized) saute the chopped onion in olive oil over medium heat, until the onion is softened.

Add rice and saute for about 2 minutes until all the grains are coated.

Add hot broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the broth is adsorbed; about 20 to 25 minutes. The risotto should be creamy; add more liquid if a creamier texture is desired.

Stir in the peas and prosciutto until the peas are heated all the way. Serve immediately and enjoy!

*If you or someone you are cooking for is on a gluten-free diet be careful which chicken broth you use. I know that it is hard to believe but some chicken broths have gluten added to them. Weird, right!?!*

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

I love book clubs. No I never get to all of the meetings but I do try my best to read all of the book. Which is a big reason that I love book clubs - I read books that I would never have picked out myself. Book clubs help me step outside of my reading comfort zone. And this months book was just one of those books because there was no way I was going to read it. Or so I thought. 

Everyone and their brother has heard of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I had picked the book up several times at book shops and the library but it just never made it's way home with me. I can't really tell you why it seemed like a book that was "not for me" but I always put it down. Thank goodness that my book club changed all that!


According to AmazonIn The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects--life, death, love--with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition--How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?--has a raw honesty that is deeply moving.

I guess one of the big reasons that I did not want to read this book was because I thought of it as a cancer book. While cancer does play a role in this book, it is not a "cancer" book. It is so witty and thought provoking. Don't get me wrong, there are many sad moments in this book. (I may or may not have cried ugly in the hair salon while reading this book.) Yet those sad moments are so worth reading because this book is filled with lessons that young adults need to learn and lessons that some grown adults need to re-learn! 

I know that the members of my book club will be talking about this book for awhile. So happy that I took a book club leap of faith. Have you read any books that you would not have if it were not for a book club and loved it?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wiped Out!

I hope that it is ok that I vent a little today. I have blogger-block. It really has been going on for a little while now and I hate it! I love reading blogs and being part of this fun little blogging world. But lately, I feel wiped out with very little to give my blog at the end of the day.

Maybe I should just do what L does when he is wiped out...take a nap!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Break {Part Three}

Most of our Spring Break was filled with sunshine but unfortunately our day in NYC was filled with cold rain. But we got lucky! As soon as we left the Children's Museum of Manhattan the rain let up. My brother is not one to waste a bit of good luck so he had us walk up to Central Park. 

The beauty of Central Park never ceases to amaze me. In the middle of all those tall building is an island of green. I always know I am still in the city as skyscrapers frame the park, yet the park is so quiet and serene. And I always find something "new to me" about the park.

Belvedere Castle in Central Park

This time was no different. Uncle Tom is a great uncle and he lead this nephews to Belvedere Castle. Really what little boy doesn't love a castle!?! Belvedere Castle was built by one of Central Park's co-designers, Calvert Vaux, in 1869. Belvedere Castle has been reporting New York City's weather since 1919 to the National Weather Serves. And now it also serves as Central Park's Visitor Center. 

Belvedere Castle is also privileged to have the highest vantage point of the Park and its cityscape. Visitors are allowed to climb up to the second highest look out deck of the castle to take it all in.

 Turns out that all three of my kiddos do not have a fear of heights. That's a good thing right!?!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Break {Part Two}

After our day at the Jersey Shore we all slept well which was a good thing since the next day was jam-packed. Mom and I took the kiddos in to New York City for a day with my brother. Two Spring Breaks ago the kiddos and I spent a day with Uncle Tom in NYC and the kids have been begging to go back. I wish I had taken a picture of when I told them that the stars had lined up for them again - they were so excited!

A big part to our NYC trip was just getting into the city. First we took the train into the city. L was so excited to be on a train. I can't count the number of times he said "cool" during the ride.

Unfortunately, L was not as excited for his first cab ride. Smiles from the older two. L not so much!

After a quick stop at Uncle Tom's apartment we headed up to the Upper West Side.  Our first stop was at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. The museum has five levels and each level has a different themed exhibit. We spent most of our time on the lower level which housed the STEAM exhibit. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. This level was filled with hands on experiments and DIY projects.

In all honesty, this is the only level that appealed to all three of my kiddos. It is really is hard to make an eleven year old, nine year old and five year old happy with the same activity so I think CMOM is really doing something right with their STEAM exhibit!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Break {Part One}

The kiddos had off last week for Spring Break. To be honest I am not sure who was looking forward to it more - we were all in need of a nice break. No school, no PTO meetings, no field hockey or lacrosse. The only bummer was that Hubby was not able to take any time off. So last Monday the kiddos and I packed up the car and headed North for three days.

Our first stop was the Jersey Shore. (And no it is nothing like MTV makes it out to be!) We had a nice time chatting with my Gram and filling her in on all the things we have been up to this year. Then we took a walk up to the beach.  

The boys wasted no time at all. They had their shoes off, feet in the sand and digging for treasures in 10 seconds tops! I just love their enthusiasm but I do wish that beach "treasures" didn't smell as much as they do.

One little sad note about our time on the beach was that I was reminded that B is not a little girl anymore. The little girl that would have not minded the cold sea breeze and digging in the sand is gone. But at least my tween was sweet enough to let L chase her all over the beach.

All in all it was a perfect start to our Spring Break. I even convinced the boys to stay out of the water. I call that winning!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Strong

I am not a runner. Never have been and never will be! That being said, I love the Boston Marathon. There is just something about this race that makes it so special. The history of the race might have something to do with it. Or it might be because racers need to either qualify (BQ) or need to raise money for charity in order to get a race bib. Plus the fact that all of Massachusetts is off from work on Marathon Monday is a pretty cool bonus!

So much hard work and dedication goes into every runner's training. You can see the pride on their faces as the run by. While the tragedy of last year's race will be felt by all running today; I hope and pray that this year all of the racers and fans have a safe race. Boston Strong!!!

**That crazy guy with his hands up is Hubby in 2009.**

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Break

Hello everyone! Hubby here filling in briefly for Eileen. She is visiting family for a few days and apparently without internet access because of some wifi issue. She will get back to posting as soon as she can.

Silly Cousins

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of time spent with my cousins. Holiday dinners, days at the shore and family vacations were filled with silly laughter that only happens when hanging out with family. And it warms my heart that kiddos love to be with their cousins, too.

So when we had a chance to get together with Hubby's sibling and their sweet kiddos, we said count us in! Due to busy schedules and travel over Spring break we will not be able to all be together for Easter so we celebrated a week early. Poppy and Gigi had some eggs ready to hid for the little ones. 

The kids where just too cute running all over the backyard looks for eggs. I love how each one of them declared that they had the most! 

The egg hunt was followed by a lovely dinner. Gigi always spoils us with a yummy dinner. And of course the silly cousins didn't let dinner get in the way of their fun. I mean really, who knew Gigi's napkins could have so many uses!?! These "dessert bandits" thought they were the high of hilarity!!!

And of course we we tried to get a group picture. Maybe by the time the youngest is in middle school they will all look at the camera and smile. Dare to dream right!?!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Murrysville, Pennsylvania

God bless the Murrysville community.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Little Lacrosse

 I am really not sure how it happened. All in one week I registration L for kindergarten next fall and he started playing lacrosse. To say that I have been a ball of emotions this week would be an understatement!

Is it just me or does the uniform make him look like a 10 year old!?! Or at least the toughest 5 year old on the block? After we got L suited up he looked so big to me.

Then he lined up with the rest of the boys.... We knew he was going to be the youngest boy on the team but he really just seemed so much smaller.

Thank goodness I didn't have much to worry about. L really held his own. I am sure having an older brother that plays lax helps a bit too. Especial when M makes L practice with him in the backyard as much as possible.

For a first go I would say it was a huge success for all of the boys. I can not tell you the number of times I heard the boys state that it was "the best day ever!" I hope they all stay so excited by being part of a team.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Peppered Steaks

Hubby says many sweet and kind things to me. One of the sweetest things that he says to me from time to time is, "I feel like cooking dinner tonight." I mean really what wife would not love to hear that!?! Recently, Hubby said just that and then hopped online to find a different way to prepare steak other than grilling. His finding were so good that I just had to share them with you!

Pepper Crusted Steak
4 Sirloin steaksKosher salt3 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, coarseOlive oil, enough to coat the bottom of your cast-iron skillet
Pre-heat the oven to 500°F. 
Sprinkle the steaks with salt on both sides, and then press the ground peppercorns into the steaks on both sides. 
Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough olive oil to make a light film. When the oil is very hot, add the steaks, cooking until nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the meat over and put the skillet in the oven. 
For medium-rare steaks, roast for 3 minutes for 6-oz. steaks; 4 minutes for 8-oz. steaks*. Check for doneness with the tip of a knife or by pressing with your fingertips, keeping in mind that the steaks will cook a bit more as they sit**. Transfer the steaks to a warm plate and tent with foil.
*Hubby left the steaks in the oven for about 5 minutes. 
**Hubby used a meat thermometer to make sure that the steak had reached 145 degrees. (Hubby's note- I was pretty happy with the results overall since I have never made steak any way other than on the grill before. I will especially keep this in mind next winter when it is too cold outside to grill.)

The pepper added a bit of kick but nothing too bad, unless you are B who I think would complain about milk being spicy. Add some rice and a salad (and maybe a gin and tonic) to round out this great dinner. Definitely something to keep in mind next time we have company!

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Uphill Battle

A little while ago Hubby asked if we had any plans on April 6th. After informing him that we did not, he mentioned that there was a 5K that he would really like to enter because he heard that it was a challenging race. Then he mentioned that it was at one of the prettiest vineyards in NoVa and I said go for it!

The race at Bluemont Vineyard started at the top of the hill and finished at the top.  Not going to lie to you, it was a work-out just walking up to the start of the race. I might not have run the race but it was challenging just getting all of us to the start!

The kiddos and I had the best view for this race. Normal we just get to see Hubby at the start of his races and at the finish. But due to our vantage point we were able to watch him run the whole race, which was a first for us. The kiddos had the best time keeping up with what place their father was in.

From what we saw Hubby was in 6th place for most of the race but then he really turned it on when it came to long hill up to the finish. He finished in 4th place and had the fast time up the hill. Personally I have no idea why anyone would want to run this kind of a race but I am just so proud of Hubby! 

When the race was all over Hubby shared his wine tasting with me, since he doesn't enjoy wine as much as I do. Free wine tasting and a beautiful view  - sounds good to me! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Just Cause

Came across this post on FaceBook and it made me laugh. And being the good friend that I am, I thought I would share it.

Happy Friday friends!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pre-School Arts & Crafts

It is slowly sinking in that this is L's last year in preschool and my last year as a preschool mom. I know that it should not be that big of a deal but for some reason it is. L has already been talking about songs for his big graduation day and I am a teary mess!

Pretty soon I will be registering L for kindergarten but I am just not ready. I am not sure if it is just me but kindergarten is all business now. For me, kindergarten was learning my A, B, C's and now they learn to read. And with so much to learn in such a short day it feels as if there is no time for arts & crafts. 

Maybe that is part of my sadness. Soon the days of a child coming home with a sweet arts & craft filled with pride will end. I mean, really, who can help but love a wee one that turns a coffee filter, clothespin and a pipe-cleaner into a sweet butterfly!?!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Unicorn Salt

I love green beans! I could eat them every night of the week. You can steam them, add them to a casserole or even eat them raw with a yummy dip. The possibilities are endless if you ask me. Alas, the four other members of my family do not feel the same way. No matter how I served them no one enjoyed them.

All of that changed when B and I stumbled upon a salt tasting at a local gourmet shop. I for one had never heard of a salt tasting but since I am a "salty over sweet" kind of a gal I was all for it. B and I both enjoyed some of the flavored salts from a company called Beautiful Briny Sea. B decided that we had to buy their Magic Unicorn Salt. 

The salt has a great smoky flavor. Since Beautiful Briny Sea stated that one should use it on anything because "it's magic" I thought I would try in on green beans. I simply added some of the salt to some green beans that I had sauteed.

And what do you know....they all loved the green beans! Truly it was a veggie miracle!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sick Days

Last week when I had to take some time away from my blog to take care of my sick kiddos I received so many sweet "get well" comments and emails. While I was picking up endless snotty tissues off of our floors your kind words really meant a lot to me. So thank you from the bottom of my heart! 

I am happy to report that we are all on the road to recovery. And that includes me because the cold got to me too. Hubby and I are referring to last week as "The Week Eileen Got Nothing Done!" Nothing was done on my project list. No new recipes were tried. We did however wear our pjs and slippers a ton.  We also cuddled a ton and read some of our favorite books.

We read many books by one of our most favorite authors, Mo Willems. If you have never read a book by Mr Willems I truly hope you make the time to do so. When an author can have my whole family laughing, yes adults too, you know that is one talented person! Mr Willems has won 6 Carnegie Medals, 4 Geisel Honors, 3 Caldecott Honors and 2 Theodor Suess Geisel Medals. Impressive if you consider the fact that his first children's book was published only eleven years ago!!!

Mr Willems has such a knack for making everyday events so entertaining. And any author that teaches my children (and me) to find the wonderful silliness that is in each and every day is priceless!!! 
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