For the birds with love ...

Chicago has been brutally cold last few days and with that on my mind I gave my children idea of making the birdseed ornaments. We figured that poor birds can use some help during this winter months... Also, I am not the biggest fan of giving away candy for Valentine's Day and thought that if I come up with a good recipe within the time we could make enough heart shaped birdseed ornaments and give them to friends at school and neighbors on that special day. My daughters loved the idea! With a nice ribbon and the tag even the birds will enjoy the Valentine's Day!

Here's what you'll need:

large bowl, 2 cups birdseed, 2 packages unflavored gelatin, heart shape cookie cutters or heart shape baking pan, parchment paper, straws ( cut into 3 or 4 inch sections ), twine or ribbon for hanging

Follow package instructions for mixing the gelatin. Allow to cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, set out the cookie cutters on parchment covered tray. Mix the birdseed into the gelatin until thoroughly coated. Pack the birdseed mixture into the cookie cutters as tightly as possible. Poke the straws into the birdseed and leave them in ( to make a hole for stringing the ribbon through ). Set aside in a cool dry space at least six hours or over night. Very carefully push the hardened ornament out of the cookie cutter and remove the straw. Tie with ribbon or twine and hang outside . Enjoy the bird watching !!

Hello January!

It seems like I skipped entire season (* eye roll). And for notes sake it was a great one!! Autumn in Chicago was beautiful. We were lucky enough to enjoy warm weather till the end of November. Our annual Halloween parade was fun and fortunately both of the girls wanted to look like zombie princess' which wasn't difficult to make. The rest of the family went with the flow...even the baby. The Cubs won the world series and a few days after that, Donald Trump became next president. I took it really hard... Around Thanksgiving we finished our kitchen project and around the same time everyone in the house got pretty sick. We still enjoyed the holiday and the down time at home. December is usually full of celebrations. My birthday came and went, Nella turned 4 and my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. Week by week got busier with baking endless numbers of cookies for friends and teachers . I managed to make some salt dough ornaments and dried oranges for garlands. I even donated some to the Christmas bazaar at the girl's school. We had a very nice, Polish Christmas Eve dinner with friends and a quiet Christmas Day at home. Throughout the whole season we watched all the classic Christmas movies and listened to a lot of good music. As of now we're enjoying our winter break. We're visiting museums and parks. Hanging out with different friends and enjoying pajama days at home. It is all good!

As the New Year approaches I reflect on 2016... My 2016... I'm staying away from the political situation in our country, and the world in general because...it was/is heartbreaking for me.  Even the number of great celebrities that passed away this year seems bigger then usual... But my little bubble, my everyday life with three children and a hard working husband stays constant. It gets hard, it gets crazy and sometimes difficult. It's also tiring because I'm doing it by myself a lot but I wouldn't change it for anything else in the world. I am so privilege to be staying at home with my kids. It has been a little over a year now and I am so happy to be the one who watches them grow and helps them develop their personalities. 

In the future, when going back to this year I want them to remember 2016 as the first year when we all got to learn how to be a family of five .

  

New Year's Eve dance off !

We're having a  few friends coming over for a New Year's Eve celebration. There will be a bong fire in our back yard with some Polish sausages and s'mores.  Maybe some sparklers, fireworks and champagne... I'm not sure if we will be able to stay till midnight to make a toast because of all the little ones but I am definitely hoping for some dancing. With the help of my daughters I put together this New Year's Eve playlist . Give it a listen or even shake it off a little !! Happy New Year !!

https://open.spotify.com/user/mylittlesquares/playlist/6Ap5Wce0r996Nt1S76kz0e

 

 

 

Polish Women on Strike.

Today thousand sof women in Poland have gone on strike in protest against proposals for a total ban on abortions. It is a cruel, anti-woman law that would criminalize any termination of pregnancy. They marched through the streets wearing black as a sign of mourning for their reproductive rights.

If the new law goes through, Poland would be one of two other European countries- next to Malta and the Vatican- with a very restrictive abortion laws.

Imagine the situation were there is a patient who develops the pre-eclampsia in 32nd week of her pregnancy. The doctor will have to let her and her child die because whoever causes the death of the unborn child is punishable by imprisonment up to three years. Women found to have had abortions would be punished with a five -year prison term.... That also means that women who have a miscarriage will be investigated, on suspicion of having had the pregnancy terminated deliberately. At early stages of pregnancy, miscarriages and abortions have indistinguishable symptoms.

Abortion is already mostly banned in Poland but this time around the Polish government,  Church and pro-life organizations started to plan for women. I truly believe that women should have a right to make independent, conscious decisions regarding their own body. It is just sad that they have to take it to the streets to be heard and respected!

#czarnyprotest #blackmonday

1.

Almost exactly a year ago I had an morning appointment to see my midwife. I was 39 weeks pregnant and expecting a baby boy any day. I had a few mild Braxton hicks here and there but nothing that would take me to the hospital. I treated the day like any other. In my agenda I had a visit to my midwife and shopping at Trader Joe's. At my midwife's visit I found out that the baby would probably show up later in the evening or the day after- I was almost 3 cm dilated. I called my husband, shared the news with him and asked if he could pick up the girls from summer camp and have his parents come out because we will probably go to the hospital in the evening. When driving to Trader Joe's I was thinking  how wonderful it will be to meet my son and get to hold him in my arms ...SO SOON!! In the store things took a sudden turn. My contractions were getting stronger and becoming more frequent. My husband and the girls got home almost at the same time as I arrived. When they got home they found the groceries right in the middle of the living room and me getting my hospital bag and slowly walking through the contractions. Things were definitely progressing quicker than I thought. Right away we called our emergency contact to stay with the girls but that didn't worked out either. My water broke right then in the middle of dining room. That had never happened with either of my daughters. My kids were watching me in shock and amaze, just stunned by what was happening. My husband gathered all my things, loaded everyone into the car and we took off to the hospital. 

We were heading downtown at 1 pm.... There was SO much traffic and I kept thinking how in the world are we going to make it to the hospital on time ? The baby was coming.... I was literally in one of those movie scenes when you're about to deliver your kid in the car!! My oldest daughter was crying in the back and covering her ears anytime I had a contraction. My younger one just kept repeating how I peed on the floor at home. Things were going pretty crazy!! My husband decided to drive on the emergency shoulder! We made it to the ER , they helped me out to the wheelchair and got me undress while pushing me through the halls into the triage. I could barely hold the baby inside of my body.... I remember nurses keep telling me to breathe a little longer so the  OB doctor could be in the room with me. As soon as he got into the door I pushed my son ... It took a one push!! He was perfect !! Very calm and quiet... Nurses kept reassuring me that it's because he came so quick. He was in shock himself!

My husband missed the delivery... He was with the girls parking the car.... He didn't have a chance to cut the umbilical cord and they all came to the room when I was holding Milo in my arms. My midwife appointment was at 11 am. Milo was born at 1:50 pm on Labor Day Weekend! The delivery department was talking about it for days...

It has been a year since Milo has join us. Over the last week I have been little emotional and kept thinking about how our life changed within that one year! Sometimes days feel SO long but years seem SO short! Even when dropping off Pola and Nella to school I keep going back to the days when he was just a few days old . Tears are coming up to my eyes when I think how he is changing into toddler. He is learning how to take steps, is climbing and talking more with each day. I'm looking forward to the changes but at the same time I'm clinging to him as a baby. I love our breastfeeding time but I am also thinking how eventually he needs to wean off of my breast.... Change is good but change is also hard! And knowing that it is possibly my last child makes things bittersweet!

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet Milo!!

 

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!

 

IMG_20141006_105554.jpg


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!