Monday, February 23, 2015

Turning 40 With Open Arms

I turned 40 on Sunday. Wow.

I've never been the kind of person who stresses about age, but there's something about turning 40 that's making me think. Turning 40 just seems like such a milestone. Something I feel I should stop and take notice of.

Part of me feels like I'm supposed to be freaking out or stressing about it or something. When I walked around Party City getting balloons for my party, most of the 40th birthday items had "Oh No, The Big 4-0" written on them. The only thing running through my mind was how incredibly lame that seemed. I think turning 40 is something to celebrate, not something to be dreaded.
As I sit here a newly Christened 40 year old, I don't feel stressed, I'm not freaking out and I certainly don't feel "Oh No."  I feel strong. I feel stronger than I ever have. My thirties were intense. It was a decade of amazing, life changing, blissful and frightening all rolled into one. My thirties saw the birth of my 4 wonderful children, 3 moves, 10 years of marriage to the love of my life, the launch of Sage Spoonfuls and a whole new career for me.

My thirties also saw many personal and professional challenges. The kind of challenges that made me stand up, fight and figure out who I really am. I no longer care what people think of me, I no longer sweat the small stuff, I'm putting myself on my own agenda and I've learned to live life in the moment, because that's all we really have. I've learned that stressing about stuff is useless, I've learned not to freeze when life gets tough, I've learned to put the phone down at dinner. I've learned to turn everything off when I'm with my kids and I've realized the importance of letting my husband know how much I adore him.

I can't turn back time, so I'm going to embrace 40. I earned every year and every year has made it's mark on me. As I enter this new decade of my life, this new chapter of my story, I'm taking what I've learned in my 30's and welcoming 40 with open arms.

I feel blissful. I feel calm. I feel blessed. Bring it on 40, let's do this.

If you're also turning 40 this year - I wish you every happiness as you usher in this new decade!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spicing Up Your Homemade Baby Food

Herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of any meal, including your homemade baby food. Use them in a way that works into your life, culture and diet. Herbs and spices can usually be introduced at 6 months. Introduce them one at a time, as you would with other foods to see if your child has any reactions. If you have a family history of food allergies, please discuss any concerns with your pediatrician first.

You can use fresh or dried herbs and spices in your homemade baby food. If you are using dried, please buy organic whenever possible. Conventionally processed dried herbs and spices are normally irradiated for shelf life, organic are not. This process is used to achieve shelf life, but i also lessens the health benefits of the herb or spice and may even pose a health risk due to the radiation.

Some of my favorite herbs and spices for homemade baby food are basil, ginger, turmeric, sage and cinnamon.

Basil has a light, fresh, almost mint like flavor. There are many varieties with sweet basil being the most popular. Basil contains flavonoids which protect the body’s cell structures from free radical damage, giving it anti-cancer benefits. For babies 7-9 months and up, try finely chopping some fresh basil and sprinkling on pastina with homemade tomato sauce and a dash of parmesan cheese. Basil pairs well with sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini and salmon.

Ginger is fragrant with a slightly sweet and hot flavor. There are many different varieties, Jamaican ginger is the most common. It is well known to provide relief from gastrointestinal ailments and can be helpful when your baby has gas, an upset stomach or if he suffers from motion sickness. Ginger is widely available both fresh and dried. Unpeeled fresh ginger will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. A little ginger goes a long way so don't use too much. Ginger pairs well with most fruit, pumpkin, carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, rice, poultry and meat.

Turmeric is warm, earthy and a little bitter. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful when your baby has gas or swollen gums from teething. Turmeric has also been shown to decrease pain from rheumatoid arthritis and is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against childhood cancers, including leukemia. Turmeric pairs well with cauliflower, lentils, beef, lamb and rice.

Sage has a minty, earthy and slightly bitter flavor. It has been shown to boost the immune system and improve circulation. However, it is also known to dry up milk in lactating women, so if you are nursing or pumping, avoid eating sage. It pairs well with butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, beans, pork and poultry.

Cinnamon is my favorite spice, it's easy to use and tastes great with a large variety of foods. It has an aromatic, sweet and light spicy flavor. There are over 200 different varieties, with Ceylon being the most popular and widely available. Cinnamon has been shown to aid in circulation and digestion. Cinnamon is delicious with fruit, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash and oatmeal.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dinner Meal Plan - Week of January 5, 2015

Veggie Quesadillas

Salmon Teriyaki
Chicken Chili with Black Beans & Veggies
Mini Veggie Omelette Muffins
Roast Chicken


Monday, December 29, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

The holiday season is always special to me and a great time spent with family and friends, but something was different this year. This year, Christmas was spectacular. This year, it was really amazing and my heart is full of gratitude.
We started our Christmas celebrating with Hayden and Brendan's school concerts and class parties. Such a joy to see all of these beautiful little faces singing and so excited for the holidays. I was also thrilled that the kids loved my Smiling Snowman cupcakes!

December 20th
Alex and I had been wanting to renew our vows for a while. We decided that there was no more perfect time to do it than right before Christmas. It was a very intimate ceremony held in the same church we were married and officiated by the same priest who married us in 2004. It was beautiful. Magical really. We truly couldn't have asked for more.


Dec. 21st
We had a big brunch in the city with Alex's side of the family. It's something we've done every year and is such a great opportunity to see the extended family and for the kids to play with so many of their cousins. We didn't do the brunch last year, because Alex's father passed away on December 6th. This year we wanted to make sure we all got together, not only to see each other, but to remember Pops.
December 22nd
Hayden and I had a girls day. We took the train into the city and saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Even though she loved seeing the Rockettes in their sparkly dresses, she didn't last the entire show. We made it for 70 of the 90 minutes, not bad for a 3 year old. I was just so happy to have the experience of seeing the show together and taking her on her first train ride.

Dec 23rd
This is both my mom's birthday and Royce's birthday! We always celebrate together and this year we took a bunch of Royce's friends to the Islanders game and it was awesome.

December 24th
Christmas Eve is a big night in our house. My father is from Austria and I grew up celebrating Christmas Eve the way he did. Alex and I love the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition so much that we have continued it in our house.
In Austria, Christmas Eve is a big celebration filled with family, friends, songs, going to church and a traditional dinner. The meal is followed by the ringing of a bell. The bell means that presents are beneath the tree and the kids come running. In Austria, children are taught that their presents have been brought by the "Kristkindl," a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ.


Of course, we believe in Santa. So we blend the tradition of the bell and gifts after dinner, but they are delivered by Santa rather than by the Kristkindl. We just tell the kids that our house is one of Santa's first stops Christmas Eve and that's why we get our presents before Christmas morning.

It takes a lot of planning to make the gifts appear under the tree without the kids noticing. Each year, we come up with different distractions for them, like giving them baths after dinner and ringing the bell once they're all in their pajamas. It's an amazing sight to see them running down the stairs and out the front door looking for Santa and his sleigh, then running back inside and screaming with delight that presents are under the tree.

Of course, it's not a holiday in our house without the funny hats. Don't know where that tradition came from, but I love it. 



I was spoiled this Christmas. Not because of any material gift, it was being surrounded by the people I love most in the world and seeing each one of them happier than they've been in a long time.....including myself.
I hope each of you had a warm, wonderful and happy holiday season surrounded by the people you love most.