Edible Valentines

If I had the gift of a beautiful voice, I would deliver musical telegrams to my friends. Well, maybe. I wish I had the gift of music to be able to play an instrument for my kids, but I don't have that either. Sometimes I wish I had the gift of touch to give stellar massages to my husband. Negative. I peeter out for lack of hand muscles and attetion span.


I can make treats and sweets and wrap them up pretty. MyValentine gifts to my husband, my kids, and my friends are usually edible. So, here are a few simple heart themed delights, that are spruced up and ready to be delivered to a doorstep, desk, or date.




1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
36 oreo cookies, finely crushed (approx. 3 cups)
16 oz. Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Red sprinkles (I found candy confetti lips and hearts.)

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate, top with candy confetti, and place in shallow waxed paper-lined pan.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
They are divine!
(Adapted from this recipe.)

Package: Cellophane treat bags, Raffia(Red or Chocolate), Heart Punch, Tag Punch, Stamps and Cardstock: Stampin Up


"A Little Yummy For Your Tummy" Treat Bags
I hosted a Valentine Playdate (which was really an excuse to bake and do valentine crafts and pretend my kids wanted to do them). These are simple sugar cookies with pink icing and sprinkles. (Must give credit to my daughter, Christiana, for the decorating.) Add a simple tag and ribbon with the phrase: "A little yummy for your tummy."

What you need: Decorated sugar cookies, cellophane treat bags, cardstock, ribbon, and stamps (via Stampin Up or Etsy)

Make: Make a batch of the last recipe I shared, Go Go Granola and get ready to gift. Maybe unconventional and unromantic, but every guy loves homemade treats....so I take that back, it is romantic...

Package: Cellophane gift bags, Raffia (Red or Chocolate),
gift box (Re-used Christmas gift from Anna ;)

I think I love Valentine's becuase it's a great excuse to package and bake and add some color and life into the dead of winter. Gifting, giving and sharing always makes my heart a little happier.

Happy hearts ♥ Maria

My Food Philosophy: Because the effort to make good food is a gift to those around me, it's happy memories, togetherness, the living part of life.


The Surprise Visit

Oh my heart swelled when I got a call Friday from my mom to say they were going to stop in and visit on their way back from Colorado.

It was like an 80 degree sunny blue sky day in the middle of January to my heart.

There was a big brunch, coffee talks, games, races in the backyard, a big dinner, smoothies and a movie....mostly there was FAMILY.

Nothing could be sweeter.


Signs of Life

It was Sunday Brunch, I got back from Mass and was starving from skipping breakfast. I dreamt up a glorious garden vegetable bacon Swiss omelet. Yes, I'm often lead by the baser appetites of all things food.

I came home and found three hungry baby birds peeping for their lunch.

I dove into the kitchen making everyone eggs and bacon while making Andrew and I omelets.  I ran and rushed and was octo-mom serving juice, handing out napkins and plates and forks and buttering toast....then juice spilled, Avila screamed, and the kids need salt and pepper, and my omelet is cold.

Gritting my teeth...I just wanted a hot breakfast, the thought of just one uninterrupted meal in peace brushed over me.

I laugh now, I can't believe those reactions went through my head. Did I forget that I am a mother of three?

Imaginations on Display
How I wish I heard what was going on here.
It was a piece of selfishness that hasn't died yet. I guess for each mother, there are those pieces that cause us to loose sight of the beauty and grace of the NOW. For some it's sickness, or a no nap day, or a stubborn child.

I can get so caught up in trying to solve the problem or avoid the issue that days or weeks could go by and I couldn't see past the end of my nose.

I could wake up and they are grown and out of the house and would I really care about a quiet meal? I'm sure it will be all too quiet then.

A friend mentioned to me over the weekend when we were talking about our weddings and said, "Someone gave me the best advice for my wedding day, 'Don't get so caught up in the details of your wedding that you don't remember what your husband's face looks like when you walk down the isle."

I think that's a good philosophy for life. I don't want to fret about things that do not matter, for I do not want to forget these faces and these wonderful times. 

I'm sure graces of getting to confession the day before and Mass that morning helped me to "see".

I needed to see things in a more supernatural perspective, to stop and take a bird's eye view.  I looked across the table into their little faces, and realized I was so lucky to be sitting there with them at breakfast. To have the presence of mind to ask them what they wanted to do that day and did they like big Sunday breakfasts, to BE with them, and enjoy them.

I thought about the story of Ann, loosing her 2 year old sister who got hit by a car and the grief their family experienced. We were praying for another Ann whose newlywed husband went into a coma and she is due with their first born in three weeks.

What if I were to loose one of them, I would embrace their screams and their smiles and nothing would matter. I don't know what God has in store for me, but I do have today.

Here we were as a whole family, healthy, and alive. They are 5 and 4 and 1, and perfectly little. Our family life is in its wonderful small beginnings. Days right now are simple and predictable.

I proceeded to thank God for my cold omelet, because that cold omelet meant I had healthy, screaming, clumsy children in my home....a home full of peace, but not quiet, and joy and LIFE.


Out and Under

Joining what seems to be the rest of the world: officially down and out with the flue bug.

My little somebody caught it, hasn't held anything down all day.

She looked so sweet and helpless, poor thing. She is sitting on her pile of books we keep re-reading...along with baby einstein videos. (thank heaven for those)

There are a few smiles here and there
Am watching and waiting and hoping my little kung po is healthy again soon.


Fresh Start: Granola

So honored to be featured on my sister Anna's big time blog ;)

Here is the food post featured:

Anna, my childhood sister-soulmate, prodded me into sharing my passion for cooking and good recipes on her blog.  Well, it didn't take much before I was thoroughly on board!

Since I can remember, I've always had a  passion for cooking. Good food is important to me. A good meal can be a catalyst in bringing people together and creating happy memories. So much of life's greatest moments are centered around a good meal: birthdays, holidays, weddings, and family dinners!

So I share My Food Philosophy: Because the effort to make good food is a gift to those around me, it's happy memories, togetherness, the living part of life.

January always fills me with great anticipation because it's a fresh new start to a new year. So with all those resolutions to exercise more, comes my resolve to feel healthy and eat well.

It's a perfect month to share my favorite healthy breakfast recipe: Go-Go Gronola! Loaded with flaxseed and coconut oil and tweeked to be the BEST homemade batch of gronala you will ever make :)

Dry Ingredients:

9 C. of Old Fashioned Oats

1 1/2 C. Ground Flaxseed (Engery Booster!)

1 C. Sliced Almonds

1/2 C. Unsalted Sunflower Seeds

2 C. Sweetened Coconut (or unsweetened if you prefer)

2 pkgs of Dried Cranberries (you could also use raisins, but I'm not a big fan)

Wet Ingredients - Warm in a Pot

3/4 C. Honey

3/4 C. Canola Oil (I substitute with Coconut Oil if I have on hand)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Salt


Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients, EXCEPT cranberries, in large bowl. Pour warmed wet ingredients over granola. Stir until well combined. Divide granola onto two large baking  and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

Let cool, stir in dried cranberries.

Makes a good large batch that lasts for weeks. I love it in the morning with vanilla yogurt.

Store in large sealed container and enjoy!

Here's to your health and happiness in 2013!  


Books, Bumps, and Kung Po

So, I've been informed that January is Accident Awareness Month.

Within the past 48 hours we have had 1 busted all-the-way-through lip, 2 head first falls (feet in the air), and 14 trips and slips. Between Avila and Christiana, I will need triple bi-pass surgery by the end of the month.

I'm praying for the grace to have more sympathy than to stare in utter bewilderment and dismay.

Avila Maria.
Alias:  "Adrenalin Junkie" or "Evil Kneivil".

Don't be deceived by appearances to think otherwise ;)

We watched Kung Fu Panda 2 for Family Movie Night and it hit me.

Our own personal Kung Po Panda...


Similarities: Love for Food, Going shirtless and letting that big belly hang over her pants, Somebody Thinks she can do Kung Fu moves...it has left her with a big lower lip.
Andrew thought her new haircut last week leaves her somewhat gender neutral. :)

Earlier today we took a family outing to the Library and I got to check out some of my favorite books....for the kids ;)

We read some chapters from Charlotte's Web and Nicholas and Christiana (and their mother) were completely engaged in it's wonderful story.

The newest Book on the NookLes Miserables by Victor Hugo. I'm only a few chapters in, but it promises to be 12 billion times better than the movie, although I did love the musical score of the Broadway show and latest movie.


Four Years

She dreamed about this day, she had her dressed picked out months ago and made a special request for a "wainbow" cake.

We waited to celebrate in St. Louis so all our special aunts and uncles and cousins could attend.

She kept asking, "Is everyone going to sing Happy Birthday to me?"When I would tell her yes, she would light up and almost not be able to take it in. She smiled and relished that moment.

An Unruly Guest

What a pure golden year it is to be four.


A lot of little life has been lived over these past two months by the people of this house. Nothing shinning or spectacular, but all subtle and special.

Cars would be Nicholas' latest hobby.
Advent came and we did our best to live each day well. This year, Nicholas and Christiana remembered Christmas so I wanted to especially introduce the most important aspects of the holiday by starting traditions rich and old in our faith so they would remember them as deeply apart of Christmas. My mom was a master at doing this with our family growing up, always coming up with creative ways to help us love baby Jesus.

We tried to really celebrate all the important feast days in December, like the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucy.

Miraculous Medal Craft via Catholic Icing.

Manger scene was fodder for their daily play...I would have loved to know what was going on in this scene.
Lindsay found and printed off, "Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family", which shares ample amounts of wisdom, and used many of it's advent activities.

Each day they would try and earn a sticker for doing acts of kindness for Jesus.
"And why are you doing acts of kindness?" I would often ask, "So you can make your hearts bigger and soft for Jesus to come on Christmas!"

Baby Jesus had some unlikely guests.

Christiana loved to set the table or get me Avila's diapers and wipes out. She even let go of precious toys and took turns. Nicholas was eager to "Yes Mom" promptly and joyfully when asked to do a chore. They were so careful to be obedient. When Christiana started to waver or whine, Nicholas would gently remind her that she didn't want to be put on Santa's "naughty" list.

I giggled just watching them take it so seriously, but then I realized that their attitudes and behavior was EXACTLY what Christ was talking about when he said we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They believed every word I said with such simple faith and didn't argue or question and were so eager to love in their daily duties. It was good for me to see them, not without struggle, but purely trying hard. I learn a lot from those two little people.

Another little person gave me many other opportunities to have my own heart grow, in her very own special way.

Lots of all out fit throwing, hitting, screaming, squealing, screeching, not sure what she wants, eat on the hour and during the hour, destructive, lover of danger somebody. But I love every bit of that 2 foot squatty body.

HIGH TERROR ALERT....do not be decieved by appearances.
Stuffing beads in her belly was a favorite pastime this month.

Jesus must have been born in her heart this Christmas, because since we got home, she has been showering us with hugs using both arms squeezed around our neck and lots of kisses with her eyes closed. Maybe she is making up for her reign of terror during November and December.

 So we tried hard NOT to hustle and bustle and really prepare...
Other December Activities Included:
~Nicholas' First Christmas Program

~A surprise trip to the see the Isle of Lights (thanks Pinterest) on the Feast of St. Lucy (Patron of Light and the blind)

Notes for Next Year:
1. Let hot chololate cool for at least an hour before giving it to children in the car. It may otherwise spill on them as they try to drink it and cause confusion and delay.

2. Don't give Avila a candy cane until the last part of the ride in order to appreciate the all the lights without screaming in the background. 

~Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta and Pinata(to chaotic to remember to take pictures)

~ A Christmas Tea

~Christmas Party with good Friends

Christmas Mintute to Win It Games...so.darn.funny