Friday, December 21, 2012

Letters to Rini - 28 Months

Occasionally I will post letters that I have written to my daughter Rini. Usually they are a summary of the current things she is saying and doing and my thoughts about that particular stage of her development.

Dear Rini,

It has been a loooong time since I've done one of these letters. Life has a way of getting busy and Mama forgets to document things. I'll try to do better from now on! 

What can I say about 28 months? It is HARD, man. Really hard. You are very strong willed and very determined to do things your way. You don't have full on tantrums very regularly but when you do it is EPIC. A few weeks ago you had the mother of all tantrums in Walmart, while Mama was alone with you (of course!) You had woken up from a short car nap and you were not happy about it. You screamed pretty much from the time we walked in the store until the time we got home. There was kicking and crying and climbing out of the cart. I had to start laughing before I totally lost my mind and had a breakdown. I'm pretty sure the people in the parking lot thought I was trying to kidnap you. And trying to buckle you in the carseat?  It was like a WWE match. You did not want to sit back and let me strap you in. Let's just say I'm glad these tantrums are pretty few and far between because I might be selling you on the black market if they were an every day occurrence. 

It's not all bad though, not by a long shot. You have a new found love of singing and I know I'm biased but it is pretty much the most adorable thing I have ever heard. You are learning new songs everyday and will come up with your own little toddler rendition. Your favorites are The ABCs, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "You are My Sunshine" and my personal favorite "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. We have been playing reggae for you since before you were born and it looks like the brainwashing has finally worked!

Dora the Explorer has become a full on obsession. You love watching Dora and Boots on all their adventures and have been picking up a ton of Spanish words. You can even count to six in Spanish (and 14 in English!) Pretend play is another one of your new found loves. You love to "cook", have tea parties, take care of your baby and boss your stuffed animals around. 

As always I feel blessed to be able to spend each day with you. Some days are easy and some days are hard but it is always so worth it. It is amazing to me how quickly you have become your own little person with very strong opinions, feelings, likes and dislikes. I look forward to all the days to come. Life with you is never boring, Catarina Maeve. I love you to the moon and back!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Family Pictures: Fall 2012

It took almost 28 months but we finally had our family pictures taken by a professional photographer. I found Monie of Howson Wright Photography through a friend and she has been so great to work with. To say I am over the moon in love with the end result would be a severe understatment. Monie was able to capture who we are as a family even with our less than cooperative toddler. If you are in the RI/MA area I can not recommend her enough.

I'm so excited to order prints and a canvas or two to display in our house. Now I just need to narrow it down and decided which ones!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Catarina Maeve Turns TWO!

I know it is cliche and all parents say it, but where did the time go? Wasn't it just yesterday that I brought my tiny 6lb 7oz infant home from the hospital? Now she is a full blown, walking, talking little PERSON. Craziness, I tell you, craziness!

For her birthday we decided to go with a Butterfly and Flowers theme since they are both things she likes and it was easy to find items for decor. I did some digging on Etsy and found a gorgeous invitation from Belle Announcements. Liv was great to work with and I'm so happy with the way they turned out!

I wanted to keep things simple with the menu this year so I made almost everything the night before with my awesome sister-in-law. The day of the party we just had to assemble the sandwiches and finish decorating the cake. 

The Menu

Turkey and Italian Sandwiches on Ciabatta Bread
Homemade Potato Salad
Asian Style Coleslaw
Green Chile Cheesecake with Tortilla Chips
A Fruit Platter with Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
Butter Cake with Buttercream Frosting

I also kept the decorations simple. I made a few banners to hang throughout the house and I displayed monthly pictures from Rini's 2nd year in our sunroom. I grabbed some coordinating fabric from the clearance section at Wal-mart and made a runner for the food table and the gift table. A photo from each month of her second year was hung on bandanna banners behind the present table. 

The Food Table 

Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Chips

DIY Bandanna Banners with Monthly Photos hanging above the gift table

Mommy and the Birthday Girl

The Best Family Photo of the day. Toddlers hate pictures!

Opening your presents in a diaper is entirely appropriate at 2

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm a bad Blogger..

I sort of forgot about this blog over the summer. We were busy with outdoor activities, DIY projects around the house, 2 mini vacations and a birthday party for a very special 2 year old. I'm hoping now that the craziness of the summer is behind us I can start posting more regularly!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mini Makeover - DIY Firepit

Our backyard is still in a pretty untouched state from when we bought the house. We have a rickety old shed that is a major eyesore and a functional but super ugly chain link fence. We also have a random slab of concrete in one of the back corners of the yard that is about 48" x 50". We have no idea what the concrete was put there for or why. Charlie seems to think it held a Jesus statue or an overgrown souped up birdbath/fountain. I'm still undecided.

See? Super ugly and no form or function. After a brainstorming session we decided it would be the perfect base for a fire pit. At first we were thinking of getting a pre made metal fire pit. We did a little research and quickly realized that most of the options in our price range were ugly, too small or both. A metal fire pit also wouldn't really camouflage the beat up, cracked surface of the concrete. 

We decided to use cement patio blocks to construct the fire pit right on top of the slab. That way we could cover up the majority of the surface area and also customize the shape. A trip to Lowe's and a $120 later we were the proud owners of a trunk full of rocks. The rest of this project was super simple to complete. Charlie laid out the first layer of blocks to figure out how big we wanted the fire pit and then we stacked the top 2 layers. 20 minutes later and it was done. 

We had our first fire on Memorial Day weekend and I am officially obsessed with burning things. Such a quick and easy project with super fun results!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Our House - The Bathroom

Our little 1950's ranch came with a vintage pink and black bathroom, complete with pink wallpaper. We are on a tight budget and a full on bathroom remodel was definitely not happening. We decided to try and make the bathroom looks as good as possible without doing any major changes. Ripping down the wallpaper, painting the walls, removing the shower doors and adding some curtains and artwork have definitely enhanced the space. 

Down the road we plan on re-tiling the floor with a similar vintage style basket weave tile in white and black. We hope to have the tile walls and tub reglazed in white. A new mirror, updated lighting, a storage cabinet over the toilet and a new sink are also on the agenda. 

Here is a shot of the bathroom on the day we closed. We got to work right away removing the wallpaper only to reveal bright pink paint underneath! 

Here is the bathroom as it looks today. I made the curtain from fabric that I found at wal-mart of all places. It was super affordable at about $8/yd. I love that it compliments the pink tile but is also a more modern print. We removed the shower doors and hung a shower curtain that we used in one of our old apartments, it worked out perfectly and was free. In an effort to neutralize the pink as much as possible we painted the walls bright white. Just the addition of the white paint has brightened the space tremendously.

This is a simple DIY print I made to hang next to the vanity mirror. I downloaded some free clip art of a toothbrush and added some text in a nice font. Voila, instant artwork. The mat in the frame was originally white so I painted it with hot pink craft paint to match. I'm a big believer of using what you have on hand! 

Thanks for taking a peek into our bathroom. I will share updates as we continue to make improvements.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lemon Banana Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are always a big hit in our house. Rini loves to eat them for breakfast, snacks, lunch or pretty much anytime I will let her. They are an easy grab and go snack for Charlie to take to work. I'm constantly on the hunt for new muffin recipes to try and when I saw this post on Dragon's Kitchen I knew I had to make them. I switched out a few ingredients to make them a little healthier and the end result was delicious!

Lemon Banana Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Dragon's Kitchen
Yield - 12 large muffins


  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose (unbleached) flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and place paper liners in muffin tins
2. In a bowl combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and grated lemon peel. Set aside.
3. Beat together bananas, eggs, brown sugar, honey, coconut oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice until combined.
4. Stir dry ingredients into wet just until combined. Fold in blueberries. 
5. Spoon into prepared muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our House - The Living Room

In December we bought out first home, a 1950's Ranch in desperate need of TLC. The previous owner was a 90 year old lady who had not updated anything since the 70's. There was dark paneling, wallpaper, harvest gold appliances, nasty carpet and the list of offenses goes on and on. While the interior of our house was far from our "dream house" we love our neighborhood and the location we are in. You can change ugly but you can't change your lot. We are slowly but surely putting our own stamp on the house on a extremely small budget.

Living Room

This picture portrays the 70's-tastic decor that was going on when we first toured the house. Nasty yellow/pea green carpet, dark paneling and brick on the back wall, white washed paneling on the remaining walls, wooden couches with floral upholstery and frilly lacy old lady curains. Pure awesomeness.

This picture was taken on the day we closed. It gives you a better idea of the space we were working with. 

Here is the living room as it looks today. It is still a work in progress but we are getting there. So far we've removed the inoperable wood stove, ripped up the nasty carpet, painted the paneling, painted the brick hearth and started patching the ceiling. 

To Do
  • Finish patching the ceiling and repaint
  • Paint all the trim white
  • New window treatments (roman shades possibly?)
  • Find end tables for the couch
  • Make throw pillows
  • Artwork
  • Get a bigger TV and mount it on the wall
  • Replace front door

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The BEST Whole Wheat Pancakes EVER

Our family loves pancakes, A LOT. We have them at least once a week sometimes more. In my quest to cut processed foods from our diet I started searching for a whole wheat pancake recipe that actually tasted good. After much trial and error I found this recipe on and I was instantly hooked. These are wicked good. We love to switch up the mix-ins. Some of our favorites are raspberries and chocolate chips, coconut and chocolate chips, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, apples and cinnamon. The possibilities are endless. Try these, you won't regret it!

Whole Wheat Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I love Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk**
  • 2 large eggs
  • Directions
  • 1. Stir Honey and Oil together in bowl
  • 2. Add milk and eggs, beat well
  • 3. Mix dry ingredients into the liquids until flour is moistened (do not overmix)
  • **I am too cheap and lazy to buy buttermilk. I add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then use it in place of the buttermilk

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Letters to Rini: 19 Months (written 3/13/12)

Occasionally I will post letters that I have written to my daughter Rini. Usually they are a summary of the current things she is saying and doing and my thoughts about that particular stage of her development.


19 months is officially the age of the cranky toddler. Most days find us in a battle of wills. You want what you want and you want it NOW. To say that my patience is tested on an hourly basis is a severe understatement.

Today the wrong sippy cup was the cause of much angst and woe. The new Tommee Tippee cup we bought (you know the one the one that DOESN'T spew milk everywhere?) was apparently inhabited by goblins or some such beasts because you didn't want anything to do with it. One 10 minute meltdown later and Mama finally gave in and got you the Nuby cup that leaves a path of liquid in it's wake. Sometimes you just have to choose your battles.

When you aren't being a short tempered little terrorist you are actually really fun to be around. Your newest obsessions are Elmo and planes. Anytime Elmo comes on Sesame Street or we see Elmo in the store you start yelling "Em-mo, Em-mo, Em-mo!" You have the furry red monster fever bad. Same thing anytime you hear a plane fly over our house (which is quite often since we live in a flight path). You ask me "Pane?" and run to the window to try and look.

Another new trick you've mastered in the last few days is doing a headstand. You will bend over and put your head on the ground between your legs and have a big grin on your face. It's super cute especially since you are so proud of yourself when doing it.

While the past few weeks have been difficult I know they are just normal growing pains in every toddler/mom relationship. I'm trying to enjoy every moment even when it isn't easy.

I love you Catarina Maeve, to the moon and back



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

My husband LOVES granola bars. If I buy a box of them they rarely last more than a day. I've been trying to cut out processed foods so I decided to make a homemade version of his favorite snack. These are super simple to make and are even better than the original.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter or almond butter (I like to use chunky)
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup rice cereal such as Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1. In a bowl combine the oats, rice cereal and shredded coconut. Set aside.
2. In a large sauce pan combine the butter, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and then turn heat down to low and simmer until sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes.) Remove pan from heat.
3. Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture, stirring until everything is evenly coated.
4. Transfer the granola mixture to an ungreased 9x13 pan and press firmly into pan. Press the chocolate chips on top of granola.
5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and then cut into bars. Store bars in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letters to Rini: 15 Months (written 11/11/11)

Occasionally I will post letters that I have written to my daughter Rini. Usually they are a summary of the current things she is saying and doing and my thoughts about that particular stage of her development.

Dear Rini,

You are 15 months old and growing smarter everyday. You are proving to be quite the strong headed little girl. You know what you want and when you want it. Life with you right now is funny, entertaining, awe inspiring and joyous. It is also frustrating and extremely tiring. You are beginning to talk, but can't always express yourself clearly which in turn makes you very frustrated. I know that once you are better able to communicate with mommy you will be back to your eternally happy self.

As of this moment your favorite word is "sit" which comes out sounding like an unmentionable 4 letter word. In some small way I think you know you are swearing because you will say "sit" over and over again all day long.

Your favorite foods right now are pasta and rice. And as always you are obsessed with milk. You can drink a whole half gallon of soy milk in less than 2 days!

You are growing more and more interested in books and you will bring me different books throughout the day so we can "read". You like to feel the books that have different textures. Another favorite activity of yours is music. You love any toy that plays a song and you like to have dance parties with mommy while listening to slacker radio. Some other favorite toys are your baby "Peggy Sue", Violet, building blocks and of course your puppies Tigre and Sirius.

At 15 months you can say:

Hi (while waving)
Bye (again, while waving)
Diaper (Didy)

You can:

Give High Five
Do "Touch-Down"
Give kisses
Give Hugs

Catarina Maeve I am so proud to call myself your mom. You are truly the light inside my heart. Everyday with you is a blessing and a gift. Even though there are days I am frustrated beyond belief, your smile and laugh are enough to turn my whole mood around. I love you to the moon and back.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pinterest Inspiration: Nightstand Play Kitchen

I have an unhealthy obsession with Pinterest. It is a great source of inspiration and ideas but also a GIANT time suck. For Christmas Charlie and I decided to make a homemade play kitchen for Rini using ideas I found on Pinterest. It was a relatively easy project just time consuming.

This is the nightstand we used, a $4 Goodwill special that had definitely seen better days. I used a lot of supplies I already had to keep costs low. The paint was leftover from painting the living room in our apartment. The burner covers are old CDs. The hinges for the oven are the original door hinges just reattached on the bottom. The fabric is from an old curtain. I cut it to size and stapled it to the underside of the nightstand.

The items I bought for this project were:

  • A wooden letter J ($2) - I painted it with silver metallic paint and attached it upside down to look like a faucet
  • A metal mixing bowl for the sink ($3)
  • Wooden knobs ($3 for a package of various sizes) - I painted them silver to look like cooktop and faucet knobs
  • A nickel cabinet pull for the stove handle ($6)
  • Ribbed non adhesive shelf liner ($5 for the roll) - stapled into the cut out on the door to look like the viewing window on a stove

I'm in love with the finished product (and Rini thinks it's pretty cool too!)