Another School year ends

 

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Every year, since my daughter started school I have taken pictures of her first day of school. The start of pre-school was such an emotional day for my husband and I. Sending our baby out into the world for even a few hours without us was daunting. I remember sitting in the parking lot of the pre-school the entire three hours for the first couple of days. Maybe that’s a little crazy, but she cried so hard when I left her I couldn’t go home. I just stayed in there, my heart felt like it would come out of my body. I waited, just in case they needed me to calm her down. Thankfully, it took a few minutes for her to stop crying and then she was ok. That part of my life feels like yesterday, and yet it was six years ago!

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My nine year old just ended another school year. Another summer is here for us to spend together. I keep thinking about how when we first had her everyone told us not to blink an eye, because before long she will grow up. Well it’s happening, I wish I could slow it down but I can’t.

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All I can do is to stop being preoccupied with things that don’t matter and focus on my child. Stop stressing about unnecessary things and enjoy the moments. The moments I spend with my parents who are in their 70’s. The moments I spend with my all my loved ones, the people that matter to me.

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We often use up the present moments of our lives, longing to be someplace else, doing something else. We waste present moments feeling guilty about the past or apprehensive about the future. Slipping away from the present happens because we are living our lives with an attitude of depreciation rather than appreciation. We need to learn to pay attention to what’s going on in the inner world of our thoughts.

imagesOur present moment is the only thing that is real. We can either make use of these precious moments in a state of thankfulness and appreciation by being fully in the now, or wish to be anywhere but here. When all is said and done, now is all there is, and all there ever has been.

So when you notice that you are wishing you were somewhere else bring yourself back to a state of appreciation for where you are.

For right now, nothing is more important to me than the people that I love. Spending time with them is my priority. I don’t want to look back and have regrets. I just want to give my all while I have it all.

Easy Summer Salads

It’s summer time and that means that the heat is on. This is the season that most of us don’t want to cook in the house so we either grill or eat lots of salads. Thankfully I happen to love a good salad. Here are some of the salad’s that you may want to try out on your family. How about a cucumber salad?  It’s colorful, delicious and it’s gluten-free.

Cucumber Salad

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Here is what you will need:
2 large English cucumbers

1/2 onion
2-3 tomatoes

{For the dressing}
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. salt
 Make the dressing: add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Slice the cucumbers and onion. Dice tomatoes, remove excess juice. Place in a bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to coat. Salt/pepper to taste if needed.
It tastes best when refrigerated for at least an hour to let the flavors combine.

Another one of my favorites is the Avocado and Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad with Skinny Chipotle-Lime Ranch.

Avocado and Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad

Avocado and Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad with Skinny Chipotle-Lime RanchIngredients:

    • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and diced
    • 10 oz grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2 medium avocados (semi-firm but ripe), peeled, cored and diced
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn
    • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
    • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Chipotle-Lime Ranch
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt (I recommend Fage)
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, then more as needed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried chives
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make this dressing, place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chipotle peppers are well minced. Add in a few more tablespoons of buttermilk to thin as needed. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss. Plate and serve with Chipotle-Lime Ranch.

There is also an easy to make super delicious Summer Quinoa Salad.

Summer Quinoa Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s organic tricolor quinoa)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Persian cucumber (or 1/2 English hothouse), diced
  • 2-3 ears fresh raw corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 3 large nectarines, pitted and diced
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Instructions:
1. In a large serving bowl, toss together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Enjoy and keep cool. I’ll post some more easy to make summer recipes soon.

Outdoor Decor

Summer is here and one of my favorite things to do is to spend time in our yard. Admittedly, my husband does all the heavy work. I do the designing and directing. We’ve worked a lot on our front yard but we are far from done, We haven’t done much to spruce up the backyard so now I’m trying to focus on that. I would like to add a bit more color to it. The back is very green and Zen, but it lacks color…other than just the green. My friend, a landscaping designer suggested that I put a bunch of colorful large pots filled with flowers in between the hosta.

One of my favorite places to find design ideas is Pinterest. I found some great looking colorful pots there.

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Because my backyard has a lot of shade the best flowers to plant would probably be pansies….that’s according to my artistic friend. Now the hard part will be to find some great inexpensive pots.

I’m also focusing on an outdoor wall that looks a bit empty to me.  I don’t necessarily have to do anything with the wall…but I think it’s the perfect place to add a little oomph to the back of our house.

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Here are some more great designs that caught my attention on Pinterest. The first one is a frame designed with a bunch of gorgeous Succulents. I can do this with an inexpensive flea market picture frame and a variety of small succulents like hens and chicks and sedum. Looking into how to create this design I realized it takes a lot of work, but it can be done.

1d8137fb70d7959c33109442fb73757fThe next idea is one that will make my nine year old very happy. All I have to do is to  put up a chalk-painted board to the wall so our daughter and her friends can unleash their creativity outdoors. This won’t add color to my backyard but it will bring a lot of fun into it.

e081d89de7311b80c5faa86b44fdd88ePutting up a garden mirror is another great look. This will give the illusion that lawn goes on forever. It’s a really great and easy way to add a bit of beauty to the backyard.30442f29183a16067ed480a5ecbc50b1A few pieces of wood with a couple of lanterns is another great way to light up the wall. This will make the evenings in our yard brighter and add a nice décor for the day.

7f24db8204f989e1adb07ac0c399e293There is so much I can do including some art work on some wood, putting up some pots, arranging some colorful bird houses. Take a look at these great designs. I love them all! Decisions, decisions….

1c6377b613850bf289d2f4c9dc1d14a9 3b6fd79ecdd5ea4cb19be0e30995e023 05bd8a28c7231805d98f2468ae0ad9499fe3233d453f6c7e0d286ab334559091I would love to get some input from you folks…what do you think? Please feel free to let me know. In the meantime, I will ponder it all and let you know what I plan on doing. I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to get out and do something beautiful in your yard.

 

Tea Party

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My little girl asked me to create a beautiful tea party for her 9th birthday. She said, “mommy, I just want a few of my friends and I want it in the backyard.” How can I refuse?

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Leading up to the party required lots of planning, creating and togetherness for my daughter and I. She chose seven of her closest friends. She is very aware of mean girls and girls who talk negatively about one another. She wanted to make sure the girls at her party were ones that really cared for her and were kind to her. She is by nature the most sensitive and kindest human being I have ever encountered. I know it’s got a lot to do with her dad. He is also a gentle soul. I would like to say that I am kind as well but I admittedly have a very tough side to me. I kind of wish that my daughter was a little less sensitive and sweet. I would like to teach her to stand up for herself a bit more. It’s something I will continue to work at. Still, I never want her to lose her sweetness.

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She decided that all the girls should come in wearing party dresses, jewelry and their imaginations! I thought it was a brilliant idea. 9 year old Tea party celebration 120 9 year old Tea party celebration 114

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Sophia got right on her laptop and started looking for great decoration ideas and recipes. We decided on oreo lollipops, cones filled with pudding made to look like little tea cups, marshmallow ballerinas along with ice cream cake for dessert. We planned on sandwiches, chips and dips and lots of other delicious extras.

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We filled mason jars with some lovely, colorful bubble gum to give as party favors.9 year old Tea party celebration 124

We are lucky enough to know two older girls who we love and spend lots of time with. They made the party even more amazing by providing all the fun activities for the younger girls. Thank you Samantha and Christina! You two are amazing and will make great party entertainers for lots of children. 9 year old Tea party celebration 059 9 year old Tea party celebration 048

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Needless to say the party was a successl! The weather was perfect. The girls were dressed like lovely little ladies, enjoying the atmosphere and of course all that sugar. My apologies to the parents!

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Despite all the work, I got a chance to spend time with some of my dearest friends and family. Most importantly, I got the chance to put a smile on the faces of some precious little girls! They grow so fast so I’ll enjoy all the tea parties I can get for now.

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I love you Sophia.

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