The Outer Banks

It is becoming our family tradition to travel to the North Carolina Outer Banks during the summer break. We love it there and it gives us opportunity to meet with my cousin and his family. The place is absolutely beautiful and reminds me a lot of the Baltic Sea dunes.

Each time we travel, we make a half way stop in Pittsburgh. At this point it is necessary to take an over night break when traveling with 3 children. They are great travelers and love the road trips. I must say that this one turn out pretty well- even with Milo ( who was under one). How wonderful it is to reconnect with your family and make memories? It is definitely worth all of the driving...

Starting Fresh

It has been a loooooooong time ! Oh boy ! Somehow I completely neglected this space, It took me a little bit over an year (!!) to get back to it and to find a time to peek in here.

I can't tell why I took such a long break... There was no particular reason. Just a busy life of being a mother to three children. A lot of responsibilities and maybe not enough time to create/write and even read. But I'm getting there ! Slowly figuring out how to fit in some time just to myself and how to continue this little blog. So...Here we are ... July 25th 2016 with a little throw back to the biggest and most memorable moments of the past year.

We are now a family of five. In September 2015 I gave a birth to the sweetest baby boy- Milo. He made a quick entrance(2 pushes and he was out!) and has instantly lit up our world with his unconditional love. Life with three children is busy and interesting but in a good way. We've all had to adjust to a new situation. My husband is working a whole lot! Pola is very goofy and a super smartsecond grader and Nella became a big sister and a wild middle child at the same time. And I...? I am a stay-at-home mom by choice and with a few bumps here and there I have learned how to love it and don't go crazy while staying at home. So here ! A little update into our current situation. Enjoy the photos and look forward to more frequent stories on our family folklore.

 

 

Hello March!

Just the thought that in this particular month we 'spring forward' our clocks and that March 20th marks spring solstice gets me excited. It's still pretty cold here and we are cover with icy snow but we are SO much closer to spring! I just can't wait to get out of heavy winter jackets, hats, mittens and snow boots. I am also looking forward to spring cleaning and some backyard work with my girls!  I do feel like we hibernate a little. We try to stay busy on the weekends and visit some museums and our favorite spots but our life is slower and piles of snow don't encourage for getting outside . We spend a lot of time in the library reading books and on playing with our neighbors down the block.


6/52

My last post that included portraits of my children was never published on time... I am assuming this was an operator problem :) It seems that I am never on time with things these days. Even little tradition like that turned into difficult task once all kind of sickness took over my home. I wasn't in a good shape myself and tried to rest as much as possible. 

Here are some photos from last week.

Swimmer.

Swimmer.

When playing outside never wants to come home.

When playing outside never wants to come home.

2/52

With a beginning of a New Year I decided to weekly document portraits of my children. This isn't any new idea as many bloggers do the same. I feel that at the end of the year it will be wonderful to take a look at the photos of my daughters and see how much they've changed. Also...
I am not a big of the writer. I enjoy SO much more taking photos on daily bases then write.

With that said, I would like to give you heads up that this space may change a little into a photo journal with some stories and recipes here and there.



Happy New Year!

I vanished for a whole month. December swallowed me with a busy work schedule, family events and Christmas preparation. Every free minute I had left on my plate I decided to commit to my family and relax. Even before Christmas arrived we celebrated my birthday, my daughter's 2nd birthday and our ninth wedding anniversary. On Christmas Eve we had a nice, traditional Polish dinner with our great friends and neighbors down the street. The rest of the holidays we spent home cooking/baking, taking naps, watching movies (that includes 'Annie' movie date with my older daughter) and exploring the city .

I love this time of the year even though it 's so busy and intense sometimes.

I hope that the New Year will bring you all the happiness and peace !!

Advent.

                                                                  ad-vent

                                                              / 'ad , vent/

                                                noun

  •  the arrival of a notable person, thing , or event.
  • the first season of the Christian church year, leading to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
  • the coming or second coming of Christ ( Christian theology )

          'Lets approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than last-minute  rush'       Anonymous

We entered into the new season with a little excitement. Xavier the elf came back, I put together our annual advent book calendar and I dug out a few Christmas decorations. We are definitely not ready for a Christmas tree yet, but I noticed that some people are starting early. I simply can't do that. I think the tree would be dead by Christmas... It is only the 1st day of December. This month brings quite a few birthdays and a wedding anniversary. In the mean time I'll be adding some decorations week by week and looking for new ideas to celebrate the coming holiday. I am also looking forward to reading all twenty four books about Christmas to my daughters. Tis the season!

                                 

Sunday's Sweet Thoughts

I'm not afraid to say that we didn't try any new recipes for the last few Sundays. Once we discovered Double Lemon Delights we got hooked and to everyone's joy we kept making them. It was pretty busy baking season for me this past week . I made A LOT of apple pies with my students and few pumpkin pies. Including two for the Thanksgiving with our friends. It will be exciting to hear from them how they turned out. I hope as good as mine!

Here is the recipe for the delightful lemon cookies. To make them you will need:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon vanilla

Additional sugar:

1 cup powdered sugar

4 to 5 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, 1 tablespoon lemon peel and vanilla until well blended. Beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended.

3. Drop dough by level 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets ( I make them smaller), spacing 3 inches apart. 

4. Bake 2 to 14 minutes or until cookies are just set and edges are golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes; transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

5. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon peel in small bowl, drizzle mixture over cookies. Let stand until icing is set.




November blues.

This month started off with some sicknesses, visits to the doctors office and a adjustment to the time change,  I pretty much had to take a little break from posting because of a busy Halloween preparation and a short but exciting visit from one of my friends from Poland. Last few weeks were also hard on my older daughter who struggles with seasonal asthma which always seems to strike around Halloween. To make sure she could have fun with her friends at school we snipped it at the very beginning.  however, the weather crossed our plans this year. Halloween was super rainy then  snowy with very strong winds. So we decided to skip trick or treating and opted for a fun indoor Halloween giving candy away. There wasn't that many 'trick-or- treaters'.  I guess other kids in the neighborhood had the same plan as well.

Lately, we have been focused on preparing for the cold weather that is about to creep in this week. I cleaned up my back and front yard with a few attempts at racking leaves with my girls. It was also time to organize our wardrobe and get the warmer jackets, hats and mittens out. Prepping for the seasonal change always gives me such a warm feeling mixed with a little worry about how graceful the winter will be for us.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to try out a few new recipes that I will try to post in the near future. In the meantime, I want to wish you all a happy November!


Cooking Adventures

Few weeks ago I had a chance to make this Mini Vegetables Frittatas in my cooking class. They are warm , comforting, an excellent source of protein, and a great way to introduce new vegetables to children. This recipe makes a wonderful weekend breakfast. Try it out!

 

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MINI VEGETABLE FRITTATA

INGREDIENTS:

6 eggs

1/2cup milk

1 cup cheese, shredded

3/4 cup zucchini, diced

1/4 cup red or orange bell pepper

2 TBS red onion

PREPERATION:

Preheat oven to 350F

Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until blended.

Add cheese, zucchini, bell pepper and red onion and mix until even.

Fill each muffin cup with 3/4 cup of egg mixture.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven let stand for five minutes.

Remove frittatas from muffin cups and serve warm.

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From the weekend.

My weekends are usually packed with work at the Polish school and all kinds of activities surrounding our household. With pretty much only one day off work I try to squeeze in as many things as I can. It usually involves cooking , baking, some cleaning and least but most important some family adventure.

This weekend I found out very randomly about Open House Chicago. Late Saturday night I was going though last month's 'Chicago' magazine and found an advertisement about this very awesome event. Open House Chicago is the marquee program of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) and it inspires people to discover why design matters. Open House Chicago was an excellent opportunity to experience the city's diverse neighborhoods. With only one day left, I quickly rearranged my plans for Sunday and took our little family for an adventure. We first headed to Ravenswood to check out the 'Airstream' and later to West Rogers Park to take a nice walk around Indian Boundary Park with it's beautiful apartments, gardens and Moroccan style pools . It was a beautiful, sunny morning and we all had a wonderful time exploring our city. Can't wait for the next year. There are so many more places to discover!

This Document.

Last Saturday I had an evening to myself. Actually... Two weeks ago. That's when I started this post but never got to fish it. My past week was all kind of crazy and I simply didn't have time and energy for putting my thoughts together. Anyway... My husband was out and girls went to sleep pretty early after fun but exhausting play date with our neighbors. I love nights like that. I usually treat myself to a nice bath, jump into cozy pj's and rope and watch some movie. I have a short list on Netflix and on evenings like that I look into it. Sometimes they are cheesy romantic comedies that my husband probably would hesitate watching with me and sometimes they are documents like 'Girl Rising' that caught my attention and have been waiting for a right moment to watch.

This moving and inspirational documentary film highlighted the lives of nine young girls around the world: Ruksana the Dreamer, Suma the Emancipated, Yasmin the Defender, Senna the Warrior, Azmera the Courageous, Amina the Hopeful, Wadley the Undaunted and Mariama the Catalyst. The 'Girl Rising' is beautifully done and sends a powerful message about the benefits of educating girls in developing countries. It features voices of some popular celebrities:  Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchet, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keyes and Kerry Washington and illustrates with vibrant colors and short animations the stories of challenges and success for each one of these young women. It exposes both the beauty and the dark obstacles each one has faced at the same time.
It’s main message, girls that get educated grow in better living situations, have the ability to care for themselves and their family and make a difference not only in their own life, but community and country. I feel like these days we are raising a generation of kids that don't understand the value of an education or that an education is a privilege not a right in many places. I loved this film! It had a clear message without being political. It gave statistics not opinion and it’s a great tribute to young women around the world.

PS: Just this week when I was about to finish this post, the very young girl Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is another example of a very young woman fighting for the right of education of not just for the girls but for all the children around the world. Her life story is very interesting. When you have a minute do some research about her. It will be worth your time.

Sunday's Sweet Thoughts on Monday.

I treated myself to an extra day off on Monday and it was actually very productive. Outside of going to the beach I made a chili and baked my FIRST EVER apple pie. I just had to...It felt like 'a must thing to do' after picking up all these beautiful apples from the orchard. Besides...I had to try my skills. Baking a pie always seemed so difficult to me. But maybe because it's not in a Polish tradition and I have never had a chance to make one. I used to bake "Jablecznik" with my grandmother and my mom and now I feel like I should refresh my memory and make one as well. Very festive! That's what one of my friends said about me :)

Here is the recipe I used. The pie was very scrumptious and is already gone. I have just finish the last piece before writing this post.

I love the dish. It is a gift from my cousin and his wife. I was so happy to be able to finally use it.

I love the dish. It is a gift from my cousin and his wife. I was so happy to be able to finally use it.

DOUBLE CRUST APPLE PIE

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

2 1/2 pounds firm, tart apples ( I used Golden Delicious but it can be any seasonal local special)

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Basic Pie Dough, recipe follows

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water o make an egg wash

Basic Pie Dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing

About 1/3 cup ice-water

Directions:

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add the apple wedges and saute until slightly softened but holding their shape, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir to combine. Add the raisins, cinnamon, and cloves and stir.

In a bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir the mixture into the apple mixture and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fill an unbaked bottom crust with apple filling and dot the top crust with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Top with a rolled-out top crust. Cut 1/2-inch vents in a round-the-clock pattern into the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the top lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar..

Put the pie on a cookie sheet or other low-sided baking tray to catch any spillage. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure that the top is browning evenly. Rotate the pie 180 degrees to move the front edge to the back of the oven, and bake until the top is uniformly golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving

Basic Pie Dough:

Put the flour and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse a few times until the mixture begins to become mealy and the butter forms plainly visible pea-size nuggets

Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in the water. With the motor running, pour in the water and let mix, just until the dough pulls together. Do not over-mix the dough. If it appears dry and is not holding together, add a few additional tablespoons of water.

Form the dough into a ball, flatten, and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lightly flour a pastry boar/ countertop and a rolling pin and unwrap the dough. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and keep the second piece refrigerated. Tamp down the dough with the rolling pin and gently begin to roll it out into a circular pie shape by rolling evenly in one-eighth turns to keep the rolling even. When the dough is rolled out to an even thickness of about 1/8-inch and is about 12 inches in diameter, it is ready to be transferred to a 10-inch pie dish.

Lightly butter the dish, lift the dough with the rolling pin by partially rolling the dough up on the pin, center the dough in the dish, and unroll. Pierce the dough in several places with the tines of a fork.

Roll the second half of the dough into a circle slightly larger than the pie dish. Fill the bottom crust with your chosen filling. Cover the filling with the top half of the dough. Using both hands, crimp the edges of the 2 crusts together to seal. With a sharp knife, make several crosshatch slits in the top crust. Brush with the egg wash and bake in a preheated 375F degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes.



Fall Adventures.

I can't believe that tomorrow is the last day of the month! Where does the time go? Holy moly! At least I can say that we have been enjoying the amazing weather. It has been sunny and in the 70's through the most of the last week and the weekend. We were taking walks, riding bicycles, exploring different parks and the playgrounds. This Sunday we decided to take an advantage of the amazing weather and we headed to the apple orchard. The day was gorgeous! We picked a big bag of 'golden delicious' apples and searched for a perfect pumpkin. Apple picking resulted in my first ever apple pie. I made it today after our morning beach adventure. I will post the recipe I used tomorrow. The apple pie was beautiful and delicious. I was extremely proud of myself.

Yep! Today I ditched the work for a day at the beach with my daughters. We were there bright and early. A nice warm sand and sun to ourselves for at least an hour. Girls played with sticks and chased geese while I watched them from the distance. It is scary and difficult to believe that this could have been our last visit at the beach this still warm season. Chicago weather is so unpredictable. It 's better to enjoy the nice days while they last!

Mixtape

Bunch of different songs has been on my mind lately and with a beginning of new season I started my usual research for some new sounds. Here is a list of some songs I like and I go back to on regular bases.

  1. First Aid Kit // My Silver Lining
  2. Lykke Li // No Rest For The Wicked
  3. The New Pornographers // Champions of Red Wine
  4. alt-J // Left Hand Free
  5. Grimes feat. Blood Diamond // Go
  6. Jack White // Lazaretto
  7. Milo Green // 1957
  8. alt-J // Breezeblocks
  9. Shovels and Ropes // Devil Is All Around *
  10. Shovels and Ropes // Swimmin' Time *

The last two songs of Shovels and Rope just came out and they get me really excited for their upcoming show in Chicago. Yay! Also... First Aid Kit are my latest discovery and I enjoy them very much so.