Thursday, December 31, 2009

New year resolutions

Stay positive despite negativity everywhere.

Don't stop dreaming...Don't be afraid to follow your dreams (ours are basic, they do not include iphones, or new cars, or designer outfits...if you know us you know our dreams are pretty basic...)

Take on knitting again...I want to make a scarf for Miss V...She seems to have the same infatuation with them as me.

Continue strengthening our relationships with friends. Friendships should be easy but we cannot forget about them...we have to continue nurturing them in order for them to flourish into lifetime friendships.

Which brings me to the last thing, remember that things are just things...don't get so obsessed with having them...and money is only money...we can live with a lot less than we thought possible as long as we have friends and family to count on.

That is what I will be working on this new year...How about you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Her self portrait

So, what do you think? Pretty accurate depiction don't you think? She painted herself looking serious, I wonder why? I like it anyway...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Grandpa's hot rods

Here is a little sneak peak of a project I am working on right now...Intrigued? A little background: Grandpa's hobby is to restore hot rods. He is quite accomplished. He is very proud of his work, as he should be - he builds them from scratch, very impressive. Stay tuned for a look at the finished project. Here is a clue: it is going in M's room.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Like mother, like dautgher?

Miss V is my mini me. Last year she asked Santa for a "Sewing Machine"...This year she asked Santa for an "Easy Bake Oven"...I don't know about you but I think she is following in my footsteps...
Bonus, tio Leo scored big points with Miss V with a digital camera!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas...

The best parts of Christmas are: Family and food... Here is a little slice of our Christmas day: Start the day with cinnamon rolls and coffee (our tradition) while we sit around waiting for everybody to get up. After all the presents have been opened we have a huge Venezuelan breakfast with arepas, and all the fixings. Hang around in our pijamas all day and watch the usual: Christmas vacation, A Christmas Story and the parade on TV while the kids play with their new toys...Fun!

I hope Santa was as good to you as he was to us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The day before Christmas...

We waited for our family to get home from Florida. We cooked and ate a delicious and typical Venezuelan Christmas dinner of: Hallacas, pan de jamon (bread stuffed with ham, raisins and green olives), pernil (Spanish style pork) and ensalada de gallina (Spanish style chicken salad). We left goodies for Santa and the reindeers (but a little one that shall remain unnamed stole one or two cookies...) We had a great time together with family. Merry Christmas to all of you...
Some pictures to share

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Playing around in our backyard

Back in November my friend Tracy asked me to snap a couple of pictures to be used on her Christmas cards. Of course, I was delighted to do so. These twins are just adorable. Can I tell you how much trouble this mom is going to be in? And these 2 friends? How cute are these girls? Miss K is a model...I mean, she poses for me on demand...I cannot get enough of her. I had a great afternoon with you guys...Can't wait to see you again soon!
And here is the finish product...I am so flatted that Tracy decided to use my pictures on her Christmas cards...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday traditions

Last year my parents spent Christmas with us here in the US. It was the first time they came over for Christmas. Since it was a special ocassion I wanted to document our Venezuelan traditions with my parents for our kids. I invited photographer Jen Wunderlich to do a "lifestyle shoot" documenting our traditions. Here is a little slice of of that day...

Am I making you hungry? If you did not know what those are, they are Venezuelan tamales and we call them Hallacas...They are delicious!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mother and daugther day

Miss V and I had a great day together. The two of us together with my friend Tracy and her daughter went to see Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." What an amazing show to go see with our little girls. We dressed up really nice and made it a very special occasion. Nothing better than The Nutcracker to get you in the mood for Christmas. This I know for sure...We will be making this mother-daughter outing our little tradition...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More holiday cheer

I wanted to share a couple more pictures of the kiddos in full Christmas mode...As stressful as the holidays can be it is so much fun.

M's Christmas program at his school(note to self, make sure child is dressed in some kind of holiday attire to avoid standing out like a sore thumb):

V's winter party included decorating a gingerbread house:

Mailing letters to Santa:

Baking tons of cookies/eating lots of treats, some for Santa,
some for us:
Making a nativity scene:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Menu for the week

Split pea soup/Salad
Rigatoni alla Florentina/Salad (A family favorite)
Coq-au-vin/Creamy polenta/Salad
Grilled chicken Parmesan/Grilled polenta (made with leftover polenta) /Salad

Aldi/Kroger $ 40
Costco $ 7

Do you want to know what is my secret to a perfect salad dressing? My Idealisk 10" balloon whisk from Ikea. Before I purchased this whisk I could not get my salad dressings to be emulsified the way I like them. Now it is awesome. I've made every vinaigrette you can think of...I just love them all. My kitchen is always stocked with all kinds of vinegars and oils to whip up a salad dressing anytime. Always on hand: balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider and rice wine vinegars and olive, canola and macadamia nut oils. Other things always on hand: garlic, Dijon mustard and raspberry preserves. On my wish list: champagne vinegar and walnut oil.

If you are wondering how much this is...Only $1.50 (for both). Best purchase ever.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jar openers

When we went to England we spent some time in the country side. We visited several street markets where all kinds of goodies, both edible and for decorating, were up for sale. One of the booths we visited had all kinds of crafts made by the ladies from a local church. There were tea warmers, oven mittens, tea towels, and jar openers made in the most beautiful English-country vintage fabric you will ever see. I saw the jar openers and I realized they were so easy to make. I decided to buy pre-cut fabric squares and try to make some for my friends. What do you think? Is it not the most ingenious idea?...I am the one always asking the husband to open the jar for me...This will help a lot.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wrapping Christmas gifts

In my pursuit to be more "green" I have stopped buying wrapping paper. I used to always stock up after the holidays, but I did not do that last year. Think about it, it is perfectly good paper that ends up in the trash. Of course, I have to find a new way to wrap my gifts but newspaper was not an option for me. I have seen in the blogsphere people using their childrens' artwork, paper bags from Trader Joe's and even making their own fabric bags. Last year when I was working at the architectural firm I stocked up on blue prints/plots that were going to end up in the recycling bin. I decided to use those as this year's wrapping paper...Add a little of ribbon and a tag and we are good to go? What do you think? I think the gifts look great and so coordinated... and kind of goes with the decoration...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting ready for the Holiday Season

My friend Debbie made something like this recipe last year for Christmas and would not share the recipe with me...I believe I have cracked the code (in other words, I came across this recipe while reading Smitten kitchen)...It is so simple yet delicious, I am totally making this to share with teachers and friends.
Chocolate Caramel Crack
40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts. In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.
Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt.
Photo via Smitten Kitchen

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week round up

Busy bees we are. This week was filled with fun parties and activities. I had a fun girls night out on Thursday. Saturday started with breakfast with Santa, some more ice skating, and had a little soiree at our house with some dear friends. On to the party, it was an international affair if you would, since some of us are originally from other countries. This little tradition started 7 years ago (although we have known each other for a lot longer than that) We usually try to alternate the houses for the party but this is the 2nd year in a row we have hosted it. It was fun to catch up with all of my CPA friends and enjoy some delicious food. Can't wait for our next get together. Lastly, on Sunday, I got together with my girlfriend Tara to see New Moon...So good. I hate to admit it but I am totally on the Twilight wagon...

Some pictures to share...