>Christmas 2010

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Christmas morning sunrise…just like the other days, but there is something magical in the air.  Four and five are awesome ages when it comes to the excitement of Christmas.  The anticipation, the joy in their smiles, and seeing the belief in their eyes – that innocent belief and excitement is my favorite part of Christmas!
Murphy was the first one to dig into his presents…smart dog.  Found his under the pile of presents and then quietly sat protecting his frisbee for the rest of the morning.  Smack in the middle of all the chaos!
Christmas morning.  Those jammies stayed on allllllll day long.
Emma explaining to Neeny that Santa and the Elves don’t make Zhu Zhu pets.  Santa actually buys them at Target.
Its awesome when Santa brings what was on the list…maybe it will be incentive for more continuous good behavior this year??  A mom can hope…
Neeny was the bow receptacle – which is very New York/Maine these days!
Emma asked for a present for Beppo…and he got it!!!  He must have been good this year too!!!
It was an extra large prince costume for dress up.  However, she also noted a bit later with a disappointed look on her face that he only brought the top and not the whole outfit.
Johnny got Big Daddy a present from Memphis (the musical).  Big Daddy definitely got Big Love.  
More Memphis!  I felt bad that Neeny knew what her present was going to be…but now its ready to be hung up on the wall and hopefully she remembers our fun NYC fling whenever she sees it!
My present under the tree from Maddy…
Emma – ready for a nap with her new pillow pet before we even ate breakfast! 
The deliciousness that began “breakfast” – Neeny’s peppermint biscotti.  And, I’m having one right now with my coffee!  We’ll be back to clean eating shortly… 
Cleaning up after round one…according to Beppo, this was a Christmas miracle.  Hence, the photo of me actually vacuuming.  
Neeny and Papa – cup number 1.  I love having them at our house…I’m very lucky.  Not many people would even think about saying that about their in-laws!
Maddy playing with her Zhu Zhu pet.  The kissing was ok. Its when she decided to put it in her hair and I thought I was going to have to shave her head on Christmas that Santa began to rethink his shopping…
Everyone loves Christmas!
 Still sleepy…even after biscotti!
And some didn’t stop to take a breath the whole day…
Uncle Sean showed up with the most amazing apple cake.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, most of the leftovers stayed here.  I think my waistline is transforming into this round shape thanks to this beauty…
The girls practicing their driving skills with Mario Kart on the Wii…I wonder how long it will be until we break a window or teeth with one of these controllers… 
Neeny showing the girls a move or two in Just Dance 2. 
My little man arrived later in the afternoon and Auntie RaRa was able to get some good snuggle time.  That was the greatest present…
Now – on to healthy eating.  For Christmas dinner, Beppo made a standing rib roast and garlic mashed potatoes…and I made the vegetables and grains.  Up first – Eating Well’s Butternut & Barley Pilaf.  
So tasty!
Then, because our 4 year old loves brussels sprouts (what?!?!), I made  Eating Well’s Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Sage.  
 Once everyone got to their places at the table…12 adults and 3 kids…
Mary Beth and Desmond got ready to dig in…
Everyone paused for a photo…
Even the girls…although, putting the cornbread down was not an option…
It was a fantastic day.  Filled with love and gratitude…joy and excitement…good food, laughter, and true appreciation for what really matters.  Even Maddy took a break from asking where the next present was to say that its not the presents that really matter.  Its that we’re all together and love each other.  Pretty intense for a 5 year old.  I’m not sure if it was a ploy to get the next gift…but at least we got to sit for a split second and have a real Christmas moment.
To those who are in our hearts and in our minds, but not near us this Christmas – know that you’re loved and missed. I wish you all the love, peace and true happiness in the world…And to see you soon!!!
Uncle Brian sums it up nicely…Peace Out.   
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 

>’Twas the Night Before Christmas

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…and Mary Beth’s Annual Christmas Eve party was a blast as always…
The best family Christmas photo we’ve taken…
Me and Mary Beth – the big sister I never had…
 Mary Beth looks like a million bucks! She’s doing an amazing job eating healthy and working out – I’m so proud of all she’s done!!!  She is going to have to start guest blogging because I have been slacking on the recipes part!!!
Mama Maria – Happy Holidays!
My in-laws – Kathy and Steve.  Kathy looks like she is totally getting away with something, besides being awesome, and Steve is giving me the  “don’t you dare put this in that blog” look 🙂  But seriously – they are the life of the party and its not the same when they’re stuck in Maine!  On that note, we missed Auntie Shannon this year who is on call in VT.  However, watch out New Years…the Party will definitely be in the house!!!
Little Patsy, I mean, McKayla arriving in her fancy duds!  Look at that smile!!
“So then, Auntie, he laid his finger aside of his nose…” 
The hostess with the mostess.  MB made an amazing snowball martini.  Liquid dessert.  If all snow tasted like that, I’d be caught more often with my tongue hanging out catching snowflakes! Come to think of it…that may have been what Kathy was getting away with!!
Jessica getting into the spirit of the season…the greatest girl in the world.  
Desmond ran and ran and ran…and then threw himself on the floor gigging.  Ahhhh, if that’s all it took!
Bridget and Nonna watching the kiddos play…trying to stay out of the line of fire.
Little Miss Emma eating in the fancy chair.  So prim and proper that one…
Every year, this is the perfect way to celebrate!  Family and friends gather, kids are kids, sharing food, drink and friendship.  And, we track Santa so we know when to get home and into bed.  We live about 7 minutes away, and like clockwork – luckily, the girls are asleep before we even get halfway home!
Next up, Christmas Day, and the food (OH the FOOD) we ate!

>Cousins’ Christmas Night

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Christmas seems to be more magical with little ones around.  My cousin and I and our spouses have decided that its more important to spend time together than do the whole gift thing.  The kids get so much already, and love the time together…so we’ve done away with the exchange, and instead come up with an activity.  
This year, it was cookie decorating and dinner out with the grandparents.  
Coleen brought some wax accessories to get the afternoon started in the right mood!
Maddy & Emma, McKayla (my cousin Tim’s daughter who is 3 weeks older than Emma) and Desmond (my most adorable nephew) all put their sugar skills to work and decorated gingerbread men (thanks to the baking skills of the Framingham Baking Company!
What?  So I’m eating the candy…the cookie doesn’t need it!!!
Check out the candy coloring on those teeth!!

Seriously, the most beautiful boy on earth.  Seriously.
Ahhh, gingerbread men all sugared up!
 My cousin Tim and his wife, Coleen.

Sibling love – Auntie Bridget and Uncle Sean.  Am I a lucky sister, or what???

 The cousins…

Dinner…the poor people at the Chateau in Westboro…

After the bread, there was no time for photos…kid chasing, about 30 trips to the bathroom, and some sort of musical chair-like game…the parents slept well that night!!!
Great times, great traditions.  I like that we keep it all about family and time together.  Isn’t that what its all about?  
Merry Christmas!

>Is that cake?!?!?

>This year, our Greater Boston Communications Team wanted to say a little thank you to our 2 year round Go Red media partners, 104.5 – WXLO and CBS Radio Boston.  I don’t bake…at least not much, and definitely not well.  But, for them, we figured it would be worth the effort.  And as long as nobody got sick…right?  I’ve still got one more to make for the Citadel NH Radio Group, but it will be a New Year’s House 🙂

After finding an adorable Gingerbread House bundt cake mold at William Sonoma, we knew that was it.  So I baked two of them (from a mix…let’s be serious.  Scratch is not my forte.) and Angela and I decorated them in the office!  Talk about fun at work!

Not bad for the non-baker!
WXLO’s house…

CBS’ house…

Steve & Jen from ‘XLO with their house…and they were both polite enough to try it!
All in all, I think the secret to great baking lies in the pan and the mix. With the right tools…maybe I  can bake after all…

>21 Hour Getaway

>Sometimes, all you need is a little break in the daily routine to re-energize and rejuvenate, right?  So we took one.

We headed into an awesome Christmas party in JP Saturday night, but decided earlier in the week to make it on overnight.  It was the perfect plan!

After a few hours meeting some fabulous people and having such incredible food, Jason and I hoofed it (not very far) to the Heath Street station, hopped on the second inbound train that came our way (we missed the first one, but really, when you don’t do the T often, you have to accommodate the re-learning curve), and headed to Government Center.

I really just wanted to walk through Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall and gawk at the lights.  But then I had a craving for Pizzeria Regina….which was closed.  Why, I don’t know…we just ate awesome party food! But, in searching for descent food at 11pm…we realized we were old.  Probably too old to get into the bars with lines outside.  Besides, after 30, bar nuts aren’t a meal, and rail drinks don’t cut it anymore – So a few pics to capture the lights…

“Why the picture of me in front of the tree???” (poor guy is such a good sport…)

Although it was cold, it wasn’t windy…so we walked about 1.5-2 miles back to the hotel…which was great.  We were able to stop and stare at the boats in the harbor, the stars, random gawk-worthy party animals…it was great!

We stayed at the Renaissance Waterfront with a city and water view from the 18th floor.  Ooooooo… Room service was ok, but sleep was way better…and the 6am view was nice when it was all said and done.

Good morning, Boston!

Thanks to some friends via Facebook, we had a whole selection of phenomenal brunch suggestions, which just means we’re going to have to travel to the city to eat more often!  We chose Johnny D’s, and couldn’t have been more psyched this morning!

Both the coffee and the Bloody Marys were fantastic!
The grits came with a heap of butter, but I took it off…not before a bit melted though 🙂

Egg Scramblers (I thought of Pop!) with baby spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella…home fries…and wheat toast.

 Jason hit the jackpot with french toast AND an omelette.  Plus, aforementioned home fries, toast, and oatmeal as well.  It was all we ate until dinner!!!

 We were full, and I was a few potatoes away from being a very proud member of the clean plate club!
We had lived almost 20 hours of our escape, and had no photos of the two of us to prove that we actually had any alone time together, so we took a number of very sad attempts with my phone…
This one was the best.
So worth it.

The not-so-clean breakfast was countered by some super healthy grocery shopping, and a butt whooping Bikram Yoga class…so I didn’t feel so bad at the end of the day.

Today’s lesson: Any time together, no matter how short, is worth it its weight tenfold.

>A smoothie for you…

>A smoothie for me.  Green monstahs all around…  well, for me and Maddy anyway.  I think Beppo is actually afraid of the green drinks!  Poor Emma is still in bed with a not-so-fun cough.  She’s getting a pass today and sleeping in.

Today’s Monstah has a ton of baby spinach, frozen blueberries and banana, flax seed, hemp protein powder, chia seeds and skim milk.  Mmmmmm…

Maddy loves these, which makes me rather happy!

Its always a good day when you start it with a big chunk of your veggies and fruit for the day!  I end up with way more energy…but I’m still having my coffee!

I’m off to a social media workshop at the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation Leadership Program alums!  Very excited to learn some more! 
Have a great day!!!

>Back to basics…

>Breakfast.  Yes, breakfast.  That’s pretty basic, right?

Except that I’ve been forgetting lately and I’m trying to get back into my groove.  Wake up, hot water with lemon, (insert PB on toast and gym on some days), shower, get dressed, pack Maddy’s lunch, get the kids up, dressed, fed, get Mommy’s coffee (*most critical component of a successful morning) and some breakfast.

I snoozed a few times too many this morning.  Once I hit 5:45, I just laid there listening to the radio, hoping my favorite morning show hosts would succeed in getting me out of my warm bed.  Finally, at 6:10 I got up and got going.

But here’s the good part!  Kids ate and so did I!!!

I am a horrible omelette maker.  Absolutely awful.  I’m thinking that I need to give my attempts at them a different name, but until someone comes up with something creative, I’m going with, “No, I meant to make scrambled eggs, really.”

This masterpiece had egg whites, baby spinach, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and fresh mango salsa from whole foods.  Not pretty, but tasty!
Have a great day!
(and please think of a name for my omelette mishaps…)

>Sunday Funday

>I started my day today at Mystic Fitness in Framingham for my Sunday Yoga date with Lauren.  Abby is the instructor, and her class has totally grown on me.  She lights candles, offers help in making our practice the best possible for wherever we each are in our ability, and ends it with some meaningful reading.

Today there was a lot of core work, and it was probably the sexiest yoga class I’ve taken yet.  I don’t know why, maybe I was in a good mood or a different frame of mind, but I left feeling kinda like a rock star!  I’m sure with the new & intriguing moves, I will find new places of pain tomorrow…  To top if all off, her reading today was If Its Not Too Dark by Hafiz, circa 1300s.  It struck a chord, so I came home and searched for more of his work.  Some of it I really like…

This afternoon, we went to Max & Peyton’s birthday party at Lil’ Folks Farm in Holliston.  The kids all got to ride the ponies, feed the animals, and most importantly – have a blast together!

Two peas in a pod!  Best friends Emma and Birthday Girl Peyton!
Man of the Hour, Max.  Yes, honey, it was cold.  Very cold, actually.
Then, after the party, we headed to Worcester to meet Nonna, Beppo, Uncle Sean and Jessica at Auntie Bridget, Uncle Brian and Desmond’s house for Sunday dinner.  I got my Des fix for the weekend…he is the most lovable boy…look at him!!!  That face is irresistible 🙂
His is one of the hugs I just can’t let go of.  How could you?!?!?!
Calling it a night to get ready for a long week ahead…appointment with the trainer at the gym tomorrow at 5:30am…have to get my beauty sleep in 🙂
…Good night…

>Herding Cats…or Kindergarten Basketball…

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Yesterday was Little Miss Maddy’s first ever basketball game at the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest.  And she loved it!!!  She was happy to know that a friend from dance class and an old school friend from Montessori were on her team.  I gathered that the lesson of the day was hands up on defense…

…and apparently on offense as well. But basketball has never been my sport!

Coach Webster did an excellent job of directing and redirecting the cats, I mean kids.

A little on-the-court strategy session.  An early analysis might lead bystanders to believe that our team is stacked.  We have some serious shooters, and some good height for 5 year olds.  If only they kept score in kindergarten…

Maddy’s fan club!

 One last huddle…or hurdle…depends on how you look at it!
Great job this weekend, Blue!  This is going to be a great season!  See you next week!!!

>Jewels and Bags…what could be better???

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Last Sunday, I had a Sweet Bead & Co. open house and invited my friend Erika Coombs to bring her company, Thirty One Gifts.  I haven’t seen Erika in at least 12 years…it was so awesome to catch up…and Thirty One is bags and totes.  I LOVE bags!!!  I think I may have done a bit too much damage…but I can’t wait for them to come in!
I haven’t shared any Sweet Bead jewelry in a while, so while the open house was last weekend (its been a long week…), I’ve got some new pieces that I wanted to post!  The upside of having some time to think…I like to create at the same time.  I just can’t sit still and think…I have to ‘do’ something…
So…vintage is in.  And its totally growing on me!  The earrings below both feature copper, and one pair focuses on handmade glass beads by be:spangled and the other deep red freshwater pearls.

 These sterling earrings are made with semi-precious gems. 
They’re very sparkly as Maddy says…

 This bracelet features more handcrafted glass beads from Gloria and Lisa at be:spangled, freshwater pearls and a vintage gold clasp.  Conveniently, it did match my outfit perfectly yesterday!!

 More vintage – I think I love it now…

 And a random keychain…

 What is your favorite accessory or piece of jewelry?