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Gone to the Zoo!

hello kitty zoo

It’s one of those rare days of the year when the Tiny Dancer has off from school and my husband has off from work.  So, I’m playing hookey and we’re all going to the zoo!  I hope you enjoy your day off!


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

kids valentines day cards

This is the first Valentine’s Day that the Tiny Dancer is old enough to appreciate the festivities.  Since her Montessori class was celebrating the holiday, they were encouraged to bring in Valentines for their classmates.  We went to the store and she chose Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty Valentines.

kids valentines day cards

Earlier this week we sat down to fill out her Valentine’s Day cards.  I wrote the names in and she added her personal touch.  The process was so much fun. It really brought me back to when I was a kid filling out Valentines for my classmates and I loved seeing how excited she was to be a part of the process. I’m excited to keep this new tradition going!

kids valentines day cards

The Tiny Dancer and I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!




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Raising A Reader – The Importance of Reading to Kids

children reading
Last night I attended my first local mothers’ club meeting and the guest speaker was a woman from a local non-profit Raising a Reader. I’ve read to the Tiny Dancer since she was about one month old but hearing about the importance of reading to kids made me want to share some of what I learned last night.

The meeting started with comparing two brain scans. The scan on the left is a healthy brain scan while the one on the right is what they call “deprived.” The speaker asked us what we thought the difference was between the two people. The answers from the crowd included hugs/affection, having been read to as children, and one-on-one attention from adults.  The correct answer was … all of them.  The person on the right was an orphan and lacked hugs/affection, having been read to as children, and one-on-one attention from adults.

brain scan orphan abused

She then went on to show the parts of the brain that are active when hearing words, seeing words, speaking words and generating words.  Since different parts of the brain are activated with the different activities it’s important not just to read to kids but to also engage them in speaking, seeing and generating words.

brain scan reading and speaking words

Some of you may be great book readers to your kids, but everyone can improve.  Here are the 3 “Rules for Book Sharing” shared to us by Raising a Reader:

1.  Follow Your Child’s Pace

-Read just one page or the whole book.

-Never force your child to sit and read because it will become a chore.

2.  Make it A Conversation


“Look at that big brown bear!”

-Ask Questions:

“What animal is that?”

“How many __ do you see?”

“Why is that little girl smiling?”

-Respond with More Information:

Child: “Look, mommy! Duck!”

Parent: “You’re right, it’s a yellow duck with a beak.”

3. Have Fun!

-Use silly voices and movement.

-Sing songs.

-Connect stories to the child’s life.

Raising a Reader recommended reading to your children at least 15 minutes a day.  I’m so happy that I started reading to the Tiny Dancer at a young age because she loves books and is constantly coming up to me with a book in her hand saying “Read! Read!”.

If you don’t have lots of books at home don’t forget your local public library!  In addition to having lots of great programs for kids, you can take out books for your children – for free (so long as you return them on time.).  Reading with your child is also a great way to spend some quality time with your little one(s).  I hope this info gives you some ideas on how to make it more fun for you and your kids.

For more information on Raising a Reader please visit rarbayarea.org.


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Disney Princesses Re-imagined by Harrods in Designer Dresses

harrods disney princess dresses snow white

If you’ve ever looked at a Disney princess costume you’ve probably cringed at the touch of over-priced cheap fabric used to create “princess” gowns. Fortunately, our little ones can tell the difference and they become little princesses from the moment they put on the gowns.

harrods disney princess dresses belle

If you haven’t outgrown your Disney princess fantasies then you’ll love the photos produced by Harrods of Disney Princesses re-imagined in designer gowns and accessories. Photographed by Jason Ell the series of photographs are absolutely beautiful. If he hasn’t come already, these photos make you believe that some day your prince will come…

harrods disney princess dresses cinderella

harrods disney princess dresses mulan

harrods disney princess dresses sleeping beauty

harrods disney princess dresses rapunzel tangled

harrods disney princess dresses pocahontus

harrods disney princess dresses ariel the little mermaid

harrods disney princess dresses jasmine aladdin

harrods disney princess dresses tiana the princess and the frog

Source: Babyology


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Mama’s Kitchen: Celery Root & Fennel Chowder

vegan celery root & fennel chowder
While I was looking for recipes to make during my annual cleanse, I came across this Celery Root & Fennel Chowder in Pure Vegan. This chowder is so easy to make and so delicious. It’s a family favorite and my husband has asked me to make it again and again. I’m not sure how it freezes because we always finish the batch – it’s that good! With a snowstorm hitting the Northeast this is the perfect comfort food. Here’s to staying warm and comforted…

Serves 4 to 6
From Pure Vegan by Joseph Shuldiner

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 to 3 leeks, white part only, well cleaned and thinly sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 or 2 shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup evoo
1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
6 cups water

Add fennel, leeks, potatoes, shallots, garlic, parsley, thyme, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a deep soup pot. Pour the extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables and stir until evenly coated. Heat over medium-low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the veggies periodically to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the leeks and fennel are soft, stir in the celery root & water. Raise the heat to medium-hi and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the celery root is tender.

Transfer half the mixture to a blender and process until smooth (or transfer half the mixture to a bowl and use an immersion blender in the pot). Pour the purée back into the soup pot (or vice versa) and stir until well mixed. Taste the chowder and adjust the seasoning to your preference.

Buon Appetito!


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Pajama Party Time!

Sorry for the lack of updates but I’m out of town and catching up on some quality time with my family. The Tiny Dancer only gets to see her cousins a few times a year and when they see each other it’s a constant whirl of hugs, kisses, playing, dressing up and dancing. It’s hard to get away from it to blog – sometimes I need to step away from the computer and just live :)

So sorry for the lack of posts, I’ll be posting more regularly next week. In the mean time, I leave you with a favorite song of the girls from Yo Gabba Gabba! that is pretty much the theme song of tonight’s adventures.


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Mama’s Kitchen: Salad Niçoise with Basil Vinaigrette

salad nicoise with basil vinaigrette

My husband’s co-worker is a hobby fisherman and he gifted my husband with some fresh-caught tuna.  His co-worker prepared the tuna in chicken broth and jalapenos and I couldn’t wait to try it.  However, I didn’t want to just make tuna salad – I wanted something different.  So instead of making a tuna melt I made a Salad Niçoise with Basil Vinaigrette.  The tuna – and the salad – was delicious.  I had left over Basil Vinaigrette left over which I then used the rest of the week on different salads.

The recipe I based this dish off is from Fine Cooking.  I’ve made the original recipe as written and it was delicious.  This time I was in a bit of a rush and as we’re in the middle of winter I wasn’t going to fire up the grill for the potatoes.  I was also on a cleanse and had to skip the mayo and the eggs.  Below you’ll find the recipe I made in the picture above.  It was delicious and I’ll make it again and again.  And save that extra salad dressing for other salads!

Salad Niçoise with Basil Vinaigrette
Adapted from Niçoise Salad with Grilled Tuna & Potatoes from Fine Cooking
Serves 2

Salad Ingredients
6 small/medium golden or red potatoes, cubed
Kosher salt
8 oz. haricots verts (thin green beans), trimmed
8 oz 1-inch-thick fresh tuna steaks or 1 or 2 cans of tuna (depending on the size and how much you want)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1 recipe Basil Vinaigrette
1-1/4 lb. small ripe red, yellow, and orange tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup Nicoise olives (or other black olives)
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450º.  In a bowl, coat the potatoes with olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper. Transfer to a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast until tender fork tender (about 30-40 minutes) and remove foil until a bit caramelized on the edges (about another 10 minutes).

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Add haricots verts for 2-3 minutes.  Take out bean and immediately place in an ice water bath to preserve color and stop the cooking.

Make Basil Vinaigrette below.

If using fresh tuna, rub olive oil on both sides and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.  Grill or Roast to your desired doneness.  If using canned tuna, drain the tuna and set aside.  Since it doesn’t take very long to cook tuna I would wait until the potatoes are almost ready before starting the tuna.

When all of the components are cooked assemble the salad and drizzle with basil vinaigrette.

Basil Vinaigrette Recipe
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 small garlic clove
1 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, pulse the garlic until chopped. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar[, sugar, mustard] and crushed red pepper and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Buon Appetito!


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DIY Valentine’s Day Wreath & Valentine’s Day Sweets

diy valentines day wreath
Valentine’s Day is coming and rather than wait until the last minute to get some things together I thought I’d kick things off with a reminder of some fun stuff I’ve done in the past. If you’re looking to get crafty and want a pretty decoration to replace your winter wreath check out my DIY Valentine’s Day Wreath.

valentines day desserts

And, we all know the best part about Valentine’s Day are the sweets! Check out some of my ideas for making Valentine’s sweets for your sweety.


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Mama’s Kitchen: Split Pea Soup with Vegetables

split pea soup
Vegetable soup has been getting me through my annual cleanse. It’s nutritious, filling and delicious – it’s true, soup is good food. Since I’ve been eating mainly soup I’ve been looking for new recipes and wanted to update my old standby Split Pea Soup. I found this version by Ina Garten that she calls Parker’s Split Pea Soup. It’s one of the easiest soups you could make and very hearty. One bowl of this soup and you will definitely be satisfied. Pair it with a light salad and dinner is served!


1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled (3 small)
1 pound dried split green peas
8 cups chicken stock or water

Over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a 4-quart stock pot. Sauté until the onions are translucent (not brown) about 10-15 minutes. Next, add the carrots, potatoes, the split peas, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. While cooking, skim off the foam that forms on the top and stir frequently to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Buon appetito!


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Mirror, Mirror: Dog Day Saturday

It’s been unseasonably cold here in Northern California so we’ve been layering up to stay warm.  Last Saturday we went out to lunch and did some shopping so we kept it pretty casual.  Here’s what the Tiny Dancer wore …

toddler clothing polo ralph lauren babygap

Hair: Bow, Claire’s
Top: Sweater, Polo by Ralph Lauren
Belt: babyGap
Pants: babyGap Skinny Jeans
Sneakers: adidas Campus
Book: Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

toddler sweater polo ralph lauren

toddler clothing polo ralph lauren babygap

toddler adidas campus


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