Monday, April 30, 2012

A Special Birthday Celebration

My husband's parents turn 70 this year and their four boys (I am married to the youngest) decided to throw them a joint surprise birthday party.  The guest list was drawn up, invites were designed and mailed out...and over 75 family and friends from all over the country gathered together Saturday night, just north of Baltimore, to celebrate.  I love my in-laws DEARLY, so of course, I wanted to jump in and help...

and I wanted to go BIG!...

All ideas from here...

This is what I did:

Under a clever ploy, I managed to get  many dozens of old family photos from my mother-in-law.  

I then made color copies of the very fun ones...

As you can see above, I turned some into party hats for the kids..

I put out a little scrap book and got a cute new polaroid camera 
for the kids to take photos of each other 
and put them in the scrap book for Grandmom and Poppie. 

My favorite thing was the giant 70 we created by taping color copies of the 
old photos to the window in the shape of a huge 70...It made for a really great giant collage.

The photos are so amazing and fun to look at...

(Extra special thank you to Michael and Brian for all their help in getting this done!)
It does look like a 70, right??

Above, some details of the photos in the collage.

Another nice idea was, using photo corners, we attached copies of old photos to dollar vases with a votive candle in each one for the table center pieces...

so when it got dark outside, each photo was illuminated by the candle and it created a really lovely effect.

The party was a huge success and very fun.  Just about everyone that was invited joined us.

It was so wonderful to see all the faces of those who 
Pat and Chrystie hold so dear in one room celebrating them...

My parents-in-law welcomed me into their family with open and loving arms 12 years ago and they never fail to amaze me with their generosity and selfless ways.  They are devoted and committed to their family and friends and would drop everything-in a heart beat--if any of us needed anything...ever.  
Their close friends, still to this day, are from their college days and the neighbors that their kids grew up with; and to me, this fact is just another testament to how dearly loyal and committed they are to those around them.

But beyond all this, I think I have learned something far more dear and valuable from Pat and Chrystie...

My daughter was born at 11:30pm on a cold wintery night in January and first thing that very next Sunday morning, Pat and Chrystie were flying across the country from Baltimore to New Mexico so they could hold their brand new baby grand-daughther in their arms, before another moment could pass...

They then proceeded to fly out 5 more times that year alone to help us and be with her...

As Magda grew bigger and Luca came to join us, the love and bond between the four of them grew deeper and stronger.   And after all the many, many trips to Santa Fe that Pat and Chrystie made, and all our trips to Baltimore...And then since moving here--all the time the four of them have spent together: at the beach, going out to pizza, at soccer games, holidays, knitting lessons, trips to the park, family get-togethers, pick ups from school every Monday, the sing-alongs,  birthdays, weekend visits, when the kids got sick, overnights at Poppie & Grandmom's house, the games, the gifts, the clothes, the craft projects, the special treats, the dollar bills!!... on and on...

By just watching them interact: the squeals, the giggles, the sheer delight--(from all of them!) I think I have come to realize that being a grandparent is quite possibly one of the greatest joys in life...that simple love between grandparent and grandchild is purely unconditional and completely self-less.   Of course being a grandkid is awesome, because you get totally "boiled" (as Luca would say--he means, spoiled!)  But honestly, by the looks on Pat and Chrystie's faces, they are having just as much, if not more fun, than the kids!!

 I have often thought that by watching Pat and Chrystie with my kids that their relationship truly illustrates this great gift of the human experience--this love between one's parents and one's children.  It is pure joy and its amazing.   I can't really express how much I value being a part of it.  I think I have an inkling about how much it means to Pat and Chrystie to be so a part of our lives.  I am more sure than anything, that knowing as my children grow up and older, they will glow with the love they feel for their grandparents; that mark is indelible and it will last their whole lives.  And everyone who knows Magda and Luca, throughout their lives, will know how dearly they love their Grandmom and Poppie...and what a close, beautiful bond they all continue to share.

Happy Birthday Pat and Chrystie
We love you...
and here's to many more celebrations still to come!!

Poppie and Grandmom with all the Goles grandkids

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday Night Dinners

About 10 or 12 years ago, my sister and I along with our then boyfriends (now husbands) started our own version of the age old tradition...

The Sunday Night Dinner

Every Sunday evening, the four of us would get together; rotating thru which one of us would cook, alternating back and forth between our houses.  Sometimes we would invite a friend or friends over to join us, but more often than not-- it was just the four of us.  

When my turn came around each month, I would always relish the process of planing what would be on the menu my night.  Frequently, I would go a bit overboard (as is my way) and I remember making everything from sushi to home-made lasagna to my own kim chee.  

I have so many good memories of our times together...sitting outside dining al fresco in the summer or being cozy inside during the winter months.  Setting a fancy table, lighting candles...the good, long conversations over bottles of wine.  

Having close ties with family and just being together.  I will never live down the time I made the chocolate mouse...don't ask.  I don't even remember why it was so funny, but all you have to do is mention my chocolate mouse to my sister, my brother-in-law and my husband, and they start cracking up...I think it had something to do with how big I made the portions; maybe I offered too much; but is that such a bad thing?

I digress...

More than anything...our Sunday Night Dinners were just what we did--it was our tradition.  Every Sunday was our thing.  Our friends knew about it and always told us how cool it was that we did it.  And, we did this for many years and even kept the tradition alive thru our moves to Boulder and then back to Santa Fe.

But then, the babies started coming and the dinners just kind of faded away and stopped...once Magda was born, life as Greg and I knew it, changed dramatically and along with the mountain biking and the snowboarding, the Dinners ceased to exist.  It was sad but with an infant, we just couldn't pull it off in those early days...I think maybe the thinking was--we will just pause here and resume again when we can...

But oddly enough, the Sunday Night Dinner, came back--stronger than ever, however, in a different form.  Instead of meeting over bottles of wine and lovingly home-cooked recipes found from the pages of Bon Appetit...we met over cups of coffee and breakfast burritos at our favorite breakfast cafe in Santa Fe. 

 Sunday Night Dinners became Saturday Morning Breakfasts.  And, instead of spending long hours in the kitchen--every Saturday morning, like clockwork, our circle of loved ones would storm the cafe-- pulling tables together to make room for all the friends and babies who would join us.  Grabbing handfuls of silverware and napkins for everyone and whispering a fierce and silent prayer of thanks under your breath when the nice server handed you a warm plate of deliciously made food--in which you had nothing to do with the preparation of--

you would dig in....

That was our new tradition and it lasted a long, long time.  As long as we were in Santa Fe, we knew that Saturday mornings meant breakfasts at a couple choice cafes--with our family and friends.

Poached Pears with Mascarpone

And now, that we have left Santa Fe and the kids are older...Sunday Night Dinners have been translated to another iteration, yet again.  The end of the weekend always feels a bit like sliding into comes fast and furiously and with all that usually happens on a Sunday afternoon: soccer practice and games, getting ready for the week ahead, baths, phone conversations with family...there isn't exactly the time for those luxurious dinners of years ago; but we don't need to go out to dinner to get a break either...

Instead, Sunday Night Dinner, for us some where in between:  the meal is a little more special, a little bit fancy and a little out of the ordinary than what we would have during the week; but not overly so.  And since Greg usually cooks during the week...the making of the Sunday Night Dinner is almost always mine.   There is always wine and usually there is desert and the pace slows us all down a bit.  But things are as special as they are simple--nothing super fancy; just something to set this meal apart from the rest of the week.

I envision that when the kids get older, we can start inviting friends again to join us...when that need to get a 4 & 7 year old into bed as early as possible subsides.

But until then,  I guess my point is that this tradition is an important one to me--in whatever form it takes, and some variation of it will always be a part of us.  A time to gather with friends and family, enjoy good food, create dear memories--to me, these are the things that makes for a wonderful life.

Buon Appetito!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I got nothin'

For the first time, in a long time --I am totally, totally without something to post about what I made or cooked or did-I got nothing and I don't even have a really good reason for why not...

But I do have some very good excuses...

Last week was one of the more difficult day-job work weeks I've had--ever.  I barely managed to limp across the Friday night finish I was and am still feeling just a little wiped out from that.

And then, what really didn't help matters was that, at dinner with our neighbors Saturday night, I had one too many cocktails (or was it one too many bottles of wine, I forget) and woke up...maybe better to say...regained consciousness --Sunday morning, feeling like my head had been run over by a mack truck, slammed against a wall and then run over by that damn truck again, but in reverse.  I have only myself to blame...and I blame it on that cleanse I did--lowering my tolerance!

Sunday was not pretty and lets just say "productive" was not the word of the day.  I didn't cook/bake anything especially delicious, I sure as hell didn't do any crafts...I did try to take a few decent photos, but that, I am sure, is debatable...

My husband, on the other hand, has almost finished making a verra bonny wee walk way for the front of our house!

(If you can't tell I am reading a historical fiction novel that takes place in 18th century Scotland...)

All weekend I kept calling to Luca...

Ye wee heathen!

Or I would say to Magda...

My fine bonny wee lass....

They just rolled their eyes and asked me why I was still lying on the couch...Aye!
But I point is: all I could really do this weekend was read...)

Greg, started the walk way during his spring break and has made such tremendous progress...the walk way is so beautiful,  he did it all HIMSELF and I just totally, totally love it...and as usual, am so impressed with Greg that he figured this out all by himself...pretty amazing...The before and after photos:

ok, this shot above, was in the very that's what our front yard looked like 3 weeks ago, with Greg laying down the pavers to just see what possible options for a walk way to the street and to the side drive way would look like.

and this is what it looks like now..its not done, aye, but its verra close...


Lovely, isn't it? 
Hell of lot better than anything I did this weekend...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Easter was very fun this year...

Breakfast with homemade scones; 
a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt and mimosas;
and then a big family afternoon get together with the cousins.  

Pretty perfect, actually.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

I always swear, that one of these years, I want to dye eggs with natural dyes,
(like beets, tea and spinach...)

 but am always such a sucker for the vibrant colors of PAZ!!

Our dogwood tree blossoms...inside the house and out.

The kids and I made these delicious lemon scones for our Easter Breakfast 
and then for the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt/potluck-- 
I made this very easy but pretty impressive asparagus puff pastry tart.
With gruyere cheese...its so good!

The Easter Bunny came, of course, bringing lots of fun treats...

We love the Easter Bunny!!  
He is a bit more mysterious than Santa Claus, 
( does he get in the house?)

but I think the mystery is why we like him so much.

Well, that and all the chocolate he brings...

Hope your holiday weekend was very special, 
very delicious,
and spent with those you love.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Springtime Watercolor

I was looking for something to do with the kids last weekend--a little art project of some sort, and honestly, I was looking for something kind of interesting and more complex than what I was seeing with the usual Springtime craft projects...that was until I came across this...

Egg Watercolor Art

by Magda

I found the idea and the how-to thru The Crafty Crow.  The Crafty Crow, for those that don't know, is this awesome crafty collective website for kids.  Well, I mean, crafts that you can do with kids or...crafts that kids can do by themselves.  This beautiful watercolor project is actually from Scrumdilly-Do, but The Crafty Crow goes all over the internet pulling in the best craft ideas--so that's how I found it.  If you are looking for fun arts and crafts projects to do with kids...The Crafty Crow is pretty much the mother lode of crafty kid websites.  

It was an easy, fun project and we found the results to be especially beautiful...This is what we did:

(A huge thank you, by the way, to The Crafty Crow for featuring the project by Scrumdilly-Do...this is exactly the kind of project I was looking for!!  Please see Scrumdilly-Do for a more complete list of exactly what you will need and, no doubt, better instructions!)

1) I cut out an egg shape out of the side of a cereal box.  Using this as a stencil, I taped it to a piece of water color paper.

2.  Using a white crayon, you make lines, squiggles, curly-qs--whatever you want, within the shape of the stencil.  Pressing down hard so that the crayon leaves nice marks.

3. Using a clean paint brush, paint the area within the stencil with a wash of water; letting the water absorb, as much as it can, into the paper.  Making sure all of the exposed egg surface is at least damp.

4.  Then, using as little additional water as possible, dab the brush into the pure watercolor paint and spread it around the paper as you wish; staying within the confines of the stencil as much as possible.

5.  Fill up the area with as much paint/colors as possible--watching and helping them kind of all blend together...

And that is basically it!  Let it dry, then carefully remove your stencil.

Here are a couple of our faves!

Magda is really good at concentrating and taking her time--which makes me so proud.   
I love watching my kids create and make art.  I hope they never stop...