Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Boy, Big Bed

Just like every typical evening, I snuggled with the boys on the bottom bed as we read our bedtime story. Jacob's long and lanky arm was wrapped around my abdomen and Ryan's chubby fingers pointed excitedly at the illustrations as I flipped the pages of our book. Tonight's book was an ABC book about construction vehicles. As usual, Ryan prematurely tried to turn every page before I had finished reading all the text. And, as usual, this infuriated Jacob who demanded that every single word be read aloud, even though he knows them all by heart.

As Ryan would try to skip ahead, Jacob would snap the page back down. This made Ryan giggle as Jacob's fury doubled. I started to read in double-time in an effort to appease both parties. Just TRY saying "articulated dump truck" three times fast.

After we read stories, Jacob snuck up to his top bunk. Ryan snuggled with his blanky and settled into the pillow on the bottom bunk. He looked so comfortable. "Ryan, time for night-night. Time to go in your crib."

"Naaaaw." ("No") Ryan whined as he slammed his head back onto the pillow in protest.

I picked Ryan up and started to carry him to his crib when he furiously began pointing back at the bottom bunk. And so Ryan graduated to a new phase in his life in typical growing-pain fashion: with me hesitantly agreeing to let him due Big Boy things as his stubbornness and his eagerness to embrace the life of the Big Boy prevailed.

I worried that he might tumble out of bed in the middle of the night so I put some large pillows down on the floor beside him. I wondered if he would abuse his new freedom and lack of jail bars by slipping from bed the moment I walked out the door. But, brushing these concerns aside, I reluctantly let them go and let Ryan lead me through this whole parenting thing.

There are probably a lot of good parenting books out there (I haven't read any so I don't know) but, you know what? I can't imagine that anyone could be a better teacher than my own children. Because each child is different and he or she gives us little cues about their readiness and ability to do new things and/or their needs for a little more comfort and guidance.

Maybe it's a second child syndrome but from birth Ryan has been pushing forward and leading the effort to help me "let go" of him a little bit at a time. I'd personally prefer that he stay my tiny, chubby, fat-footed munchkin his entire life. But he's telling me just the opposite. He's ready to be a big boy, dang it! and he won't have any of this mushy smothering stuff. He wants to experience the world and try new things and figure things out on his own, thank-you-very-much. So, I let him.

Yesterday he was eating a slice of pizza at the park. He dropped it into the bark. I was about to wipe the bark off when he took a bite of the bark-covered pizza and happily continued to play. He was happy because he was feeding himself. And that bark just added some extra texture, after all. Ryan is so happy-go-lucky (most of the time) and so content to do things on his own, that I let him. It doesn't mean that it is always EASY but luckily Ryan gives me the confidence to know that it is RIGHT.

So yeah. He might fall off out of bed in the middle of the night. If that happens, there will be pillows to catch him. But I have to let go and let my children grow at the pace that they are comfortable with. This doesn't mean I can't appease my broken-mommy heart by purchasing some used bedrails off of Craigslist. I mean, I'm still a MOM after all. And he's my BABY.

My tiny baby in a big boy bed.

Those stickers are Jacob's recent contribution to enhancing the décor of the room, much to my horror. My dad would have killed me if I put stickers on furniture, even if it was MY furniture. But Jacob was so proud of his artwork that I decided it could stay...for a little while...as proof that I let my children be children...and budding artists. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Heavy thunderstorms refresh the air during these hot days... The sky is dramatic and fascinating...

Saturday, July 27, 2013


We are in the middle of a heatwave which is going to reach its peak between Sunday and Tuesday... Sweltering days, during which the green woods offer refreshing shade and a welcome breeze!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fashion Trends - Casual Pastel Pink!!!!

Another week is almost finished and it is time to decide for our weekend. Almost few days left for my vacations and even thought it is really hot here, I am still feeling really casual. 

Yesterday I had the chance to admire a sunset by the beach and the pastel colors of the horizon were simply amazing! I couldn't manage to take a photo of it, but I found a wonderful picture of my friend Steph just to get an idea....

Was it a dream????  photo by stephmel

As you can imagine, my mood today is in pastel pink tones for a beautiful, girly casual Summer outfit.

Have a wonderful Friday night and an even more beautiful weekend! And for more Friday's outfits just check  Star of the East blog!!!

     mats mouts
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Caribbean-Inspired Chicken BBQ

There are a couple perks to getting up at 5am to work out at the gym. Ironically, it has to do with food. The gym is the only place where I get to watch my two favorite cable channels: the Food Network and HGTV. Watching those shows are a huge treat for me. This makes it a tiny, tiny bit easier to force my butt out of bed in the early hours of the day (even after just 5 hours of sleep).

On Monday morning, I was watching Bobby Flay on the Food Network. He was doing a show on Caribbean grilling, which was an awesome coincidence. We had just purchased a new grill and I was itching to use it. I really wanted a yummy grilled chicken recipe but, because we are very low on funds right now, I had to find a recipe that utilized groceries I already had in the house. Perfectly enough, I had everything on hand to make this amazing chicken recipe-- even the very odd and unusual special ingredient: tamarind paste.

I LOVE cultural and ethnic food adventures and I love to try to make things from scratch. You will often find unusual things in my pantry. I have semolina flour left over from the times I made homemade pasta (amazing!). I have garbanzo bean flour left over from some Indian recipe I tried long ago. I have saffron. I have capers. I have mirin. Sake. All kinds of things.

And... lucky, lucky, I have tamarind paste. One of my favorite Indian recipes is tamarind chicken. Tamarind is such an amazingly tart flavor. It's so unique. But I never knew what else to do with it. So, it's been sitting in my cupboard, just waiting for a creative moment.

Well, thank you Bobby Flay! He featured this amazing (seriously, amazing!) BBQ chicken recipe on his show. The key is definitely in the secret sauce. It mixed the tartness of tamarind with the tang of orange juice. The sauce is incredible! He used it for dipping chicken wings, but because I always have some Costco chicken breasts on hand, I used those instead.

This is my version of his recipe....this is seriously a man pleaser!

Caribbean-Inspired Chicken BBQ

Chicken Breasts:
  • Two large chicken breasts, pounded flat into uniform thickness between two pieces of parchment paper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
The Secret Sauce:
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate/paste (purchase at an Asian food store or online)
  • 1-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. After pounding the chicken flat (you can also use wings as Bobby did), brush the chicken with canola oil. Combine the spices and coat the chicken generously on both sides.

2. Grill the chicken on both sides. (Even the spice-rubbed chicken is amazing on its own!).

3. Combine all sauce ingredients except the vinegar in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of water. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer until it thickens up (about 15 mins).
Remove from heat and take out the ginger slices. Whisk in the vinegar and keep warm.

Serve the chicken with the sauce poured on top or on the side for dipping.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trying to "Make Time" Is Awfully Similar To A Ponzi Scheme

Lately my days have been going by so fast that I have absolutely no idea where my time goes. It's like my days have a gigantic hole in their pocket and time just mysteriously seeps out. This is true while I'm sitting in my desk at the office (What? It's three o'clock and I've spent all day at my desk, how come my to-do list is only 1/4 of the way done and I can only account for 3 billable hours...ok, who stole my billable hours?!). It is equally true on the days I work from my mom's basement.

I come by with the kids, sneak down to the basement to work, and before I know it, it's 5:30 p.m., time to whisk the kids home to prepare dinner. I always look forward to my days at home and imagine that I will have so much extra time (saved from not commuting as much) to spend with my two handsome boys. Lately, I've been feeling as if I don't see enough of them and it's starting to get me down. A lot. But somehow, by the time I pack them into the car, drive 40 minutes home, prepare dinner, and we finally eat together as a familt at 8 p.m., it's time for them to go to bed already and I've spent my entire evening doing chores, dinner, and catching up that I've hardly spent any time with them. Well, not quality time anyway.

I keep wringing my hands in frustration. This "working from home" business was supposed to give me more time with my kids. So far, it just gives me more time to do chores and run a household. But when I'm actually at home, as opposed to at the office all day, I can't escape the chores. I have no excuse for not doing them. Instead of making my kids pull the least dirty clothing from the dirty laundry basket as I might have done a time or two out of desperation before I worked from home, I now feel compelled to actually do the laundry so that my kids don't smell or look like that dirty kid from Peanuts.

Today, I let the kids stay up 30 minutes late so that we could read stories and play ball out in the yard. I enjoyed them so much! Jacob has become so great at inventing games and creating complex make-believe plots. He wore two gold stickers with the letter "J" on his forehead all day today, proclaiming that he was the newest Power Ranger.

I know for a fact that I put a lot of responsibility on Jacob, purely out of necessity due to my lack of time. We have such high expectations for him every morning and every night as we rely on him to help us get out the door or ready for the next day. Sometimes I feel bad about that and hope that I'm not forcing him to grow up too soon. He's only four but we expect him to help pack the diaper bag, help make his own breakfast, etc. He even washed all the silverware in the sink after dinner tonight (no dishwasher) AFTER clearing the table. I swear that kid is four going on seven. And then, just in time to remind me that he has no problem being a kid, he will do something like bend over, place his hand on each butt cheek, and pretend to talk out of his butt.

As we played ball outside, Ryan showed off his kicking skills and was content to run around the periphery of my ballgame with Jacob. As long as we included him occassionally by chasing and throwing the ball at him, he was a happy camper. He joined us in a game of catch, proving his hand-eye coordination to be far better than I could ever hope mine to be!

We also played with some toy animals. Ryan only knows two animal sounds: the panting that a dog makes and roaring. He thinks everything roars and it absolutely cracks me up, especially when he will pick up a giraffe or cat or horse and "RAAAAAAWR!" His roars aren't normal roars either, they are old smoker, hacking up a lung type of roars. Also, he just got into this lovely habit of giggling uncontrollably after he farts. When he sees that we are giggling back at him, he purposefully tries to fart some more. Unfortunately, this happens at the dinner table. Ahh... such a boy! I love that kid so incredibly much.

So, tonight, while BBQing a coconut spiced marinated pork loin (thanks Bobby Flay!), I "made" some special time with my two little men. That time, of course, had to be taken away from other necessary things. Poor sticky, smelly Ryan got a baby wipe "sponge" bath two minutes before bed. Jacob had to sleep on his mattress without bedsheet (but with the plastic protective sheet) because I never found the time to do laundry...yes, he peed the bed, again!

Someday, I will have all the time in the world to do laundry and make beds. If my kids ever look back on their childhood and wonder why they had to learn the laundry "smell" test at age four or wonder why they so frequently got to camp on the floor because mommy never had time to wash their pee-covered bedsheets, I'll just lay it out in black and white: "Kids, I had to chose which way I was going to permanently damage you which would necessitate your years and years of therapy. The choice was to ruin you from never giving you attention, or ruin you from forcing you to live unsanitary lives. Clearly, I chose the latter and, yes, you are welcome."

Maybe I should start setting up some funds now. You know, to pay for therapy for their future hoarding habits and sofa cushion eating disorders.


Summer in the Alps...

Visiting kitty friends...

Mammola and Oreste

This is beautiful Terry enjoying the shade on a hot summer day...

And a gorgeous boy: Oreste!

Tea Party Decor with Flowers!!!!

Hello My friends!!!!

As usual I have spent a few minutes looking pinterest for beautiful pictures and ideas and pinterest is on of the greatest places for that. And I stopped in a few beautiful ideas for party decoration with flowers! Well actually here in Greece we do not have the habit to have a cup of tea in the afternoon and tea parties, but I believe that this kind of décor is simply perfect for any romantic party or wedding or even a birthday party or baptism.

Beautiful colors, great aromas, simple ideas and the result is more that adorable....don't you think?

Décor in Pastel tones...so romantic

Grass Green , lilac and fuchsia details..simple and beautiful!

Magenta and white..candles add a romantic tone!

Like the old days...floral and romance!

A beautiful Self-serve Drink Station... 

So beautiful, romantic, exotic and unique. I love them all. Use your imagination, combine colors and patterns and flowers and I am sure that you are going to have a wonderful party décor!

Have an amazing day!!!

     mats mouts
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lemon Yoghurt Dessert

Hello my friends!!!

It was about time to be back In my blog, but to be honest I will not be really active as I was before due to real life issues. I will try to update it with new interested (as always) posts, but not as often as before. Hopefully in a month I will be back “in business”!

So today I would like to share with you a delicious recipe, really fast to make it and really easy. What will you need? Only four materials and 10min of your time. And I promise the result is really yummy and perfect for those who love to eat something refreshing during Summer or people who do not love chocolate or to sweat desserts!

So… what will you need:
-     - 1kgr yoghurt  (I prefer drained yoghurt)
-     - 2 lemons ( juice from 2 lemons and shavings from 1 lemon)
-     - 1 box of biscuits ( I like Digestive)
-     - 1 box of condensed milk

In a small baking pan or a bowl  crumble the biscuits.

In a bowl add the condensed milk and mix it with the lemon juice and the lemon shavings.

Add the crème above your biscuits and put the bowl/pan into the refrigerator for almost 30min.

Your dessert is ready to enjoy it!!!! If you wish it to be more intense, just use more lemon!

Buone Appetite!!!

      mats mouts
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