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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Bagel Recipe


What I have loved about Christmas vacation, is being able to do a lot of extra cooking with my children. I have always wanted to attempt in making my own bagels, however, never had the time to try. Last night the kids and I made our first batch of bagels together. Although they did not look as perfect and smooth as the store bought bagels, they tasted so much better! The best part about making bagels, was the special time that my children and I spent making them together.



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 1/2 Tbl. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tea. salt
  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 2 tea. of dry active yeast
  • 3 Tbl. Olive oil
Directions:
  1. Mix in a bread machine (dough cycle) or stand mixer.
  2. Knead the dough for about 7 minutes, or until it is smooth.
  3. Separate the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball, making a hole in the center of each bagel. Then place them on a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Put the bagel shaped dough in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Bring water in a shallow sauce pan to a boil. Add a couple of bagels at a time to the water, allowing them to boil for 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the bagels from the water with a slotted spoon and place on the greased cookie sheet.
  7. Brush olive oil on top of each bagel. (we added some Parmesan cheese too)
  8. Bake the bagels in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: What Winter?

With weather temps reaching the mid 80's today, a pool day was #1 on our list of things to do. 

Christmas 2011






Welcome the new additions to our family

All Tyler wanted for Christmas was a new pet. He first wanted a guinea pig because of his love for his favorite guinea pig at Zoomar's Petting Zoo. After a friend had mentioned a gecko (not the kind that can offer you lower insurance) to him, he started to be interested in getting one for Christmas.

On Christmas Eve he still had his heart set on getting a new Gecko from Santa, and to his surprise there was one waiting under the tree. He ran past all of his present and went right to get some love from his new Gecko. He originally named him "Christmas tree," but quickly changed to Sid.

I am happy to introduce our newest family member: Sid the Gecko!


When getting some supplies for Sid the day after Christmas Tyler batted his long eyelashes and charmed us into getting him a fish. We could not resist his excitement for having new pets and his desire to take proper care of them. We agreed on getting a beta fish, who he named Cookies.

I am happy to introduce our second newest family member: Cookies the fish!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The little Christmas memories


It is not what was under the tree this year that my youngest Tyler will remember, but who came to visit him on Christmas Eve. Every year I talk my husband into dressing up like Santa to visit the children on Christmas Eve.

The children always know that it is just Daddy dressed-up as Santa. Although they know it is Daddy, they still enjoy sitting on his lap and telling him what they want for Christmas. This year was different for our youngest son Tyler. When he saw Santa walk into the house on Christmas Eve, we saw a peculiar sparkle light up in his eyes.

He cautiously approached Santa (aka Daddy) and told him everything that he wanted for Christmas. He took his time and whispered sweet nothings into Santa's ear. When it was time for Santa to leave, he quickly escaped out the upstairs window.

Tyler ran outside to see if he could catch a glimpse of Santa flying away in his sleigh. His experience with having Santa visiting him was the most noteworthy thing he talked about throughout the weekend. He told everyone about how Santa came to visit him at his house.

It is easy to focus on trying to create big memories for our children. Somethings it is the little things that end up becoming the big things in life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tips for filming your child's performance


This year Andrew's school hosted their first Jingle Jam performance. I was excited to put my new Sony Handycam to the test and try some of the new filming techniques I had been working on.

During the performance I had Tyler climbing all over my lap while I was trying to film the show. I was so worried that the movie would be blurry and give the viewer a headache while watching. When we got home we watched a preview of the performance using the camcorders built-in movie projector, and I was so excited to learn that the image stabilizer eliminated any shaking of the camera.


The performance was a huge success and I was able to capture all of the memories using my new Sony Handycam. One of my favorite features of the camera was that it also takes still images during filming, alleviating me from having to use a separate camera for still images.

This was my first attempt at filming the first of many performances my children will have with my Sony Handycam. I was able to make a highlight movie directly on my camera with music and transitions in just one step. Here is my highlight movie of the event:



This is the full performance of just Andrew playing his recorder:



Here are some tips when filming your child's performance:

  • Performances are a big deal to any parent or child, so be sure to capture the smaller details as well as the main event.
  • Get a few shots of the children making their puppets and fideting before the show.
  • If the room is a little dark, you want to use an HD camcorder with a big image sensor for better picture quality in low light settings.
  • A Sony camcorder makes it easy to keep up with kids, as it has a tracking focus feature that enables the focus to allow the selected subjects as the move around.
  • If you're filming a show in it's entirety, use a camcorder with image stabilization technology that helps compensate for camera shake to deliver smooth video.
  • Despite your temptations to continually zoom in on your child, try to remember that recording all of the onstage action will be much more fun to watch later.
    • Once the curtain begins to open slowly, zoom out.
    • The Sony Handycam has a wide angle lens, which allows you to capture the entire stage or scene - perfect for an opening scene.
  • After the event, try shooting some still images of the performance. These will work great for editing or as an ending.
Andrew celebrating his performance with his Grandpa and Uncle

I was provided a Sony handycam by Sony. All of my thoughts and opinions about the camera are of my own.

We are still winners!


Steve had spent almost two weeks working on making our house a holiday light spectacular in hopes of winning the neighborhood lighting contest. The week of the contest judging, the kids went and purchased some more decorations for the house at Sears in hopes of winning this year.


To everyone's disappointment we did not win, but we are still winners in our hearts.

The night of the neighborhood lighting contest we had the strangest storm here in Orange County. There was a downpour of heavy rain complete with thunder and lighting (something we don't get much of in Orange County). Andrew's school musical performance was happening, and with the crazy weather, we got home late.

Ella and I stopped to get a few things at the store when I got the call. Andrew was on the telephone in complete tears. He was upset about not winning the annual lighting contest. It was at that moment that I realized how significant the contest was not only to Steve, but to him too.

I then looked back at all the times Steve was outside trying to wire all the lights together that Andrew was right by his side helping him. Andrew was the one holding the ladder trying to help keep his Dad from falling. Andrew was there for every part of the decorating. While I had thought the contest was only important to Steve, I learned how valuable it was to Andrew too.

That evening we had to talk with him about the hard fact of life. Sometimes no matter how hard you work to achieve a goal, it is not about winning or losing, but about how much fun you had while doing it. We spent the evening talking about how much fun we had decorated the house together, and the memories we will have forever. We talked about the memories we will have of Daddy falling off the roof, and when the circuit on the house blew when Mommy tried to dry Tyler's hair.


The next morning the elf on the shelf left the kids a special note. Andrew took the note and hung it next to his bed. We all decided that next year we will not submit our house to win the contest. We will just enjoy trying to put as many lights on the house as possible because we love to do it.
Our house on top and the winning house below.
I was compensated for this post as part of a social shopper insights study with Collective Bias. All our photos, thoughts and opinions are of my own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Have you been naughty or nice?

If You Look For Me at Christmas

Tyler with baby Jesus at Church School

If you look for Me at Christmas,
You won't need a special star-
I'm no longer just in Bethlehem,
I'm right there where you are.

You may not be aware of Me
Amid the celebrations-
You'll have to look beyond the stores,
And all the decorations.

But if you take a moment,
From your list of things to do-
And listen to your heart, you'll find
I'm waiting there for you.

You're the one I want to be with,
You're the reason that I came -
And you'll find Me in the stillness,
As I'm whispering your name.

Love, Jesus

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guest Post: Six ways to keep happy during the Holidays



1. Sloooow down. Between decorations, shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, traveling, entertaining – it can be easy to go through the motions of the holidays without stopping to enjoy it. Participate in activities that will force you to stop, breathe and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays. Take your kids on a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights, cozy up next to the tree with a cup of hot chocolate, host a gift-wrapping party with your friends, play holiday music while you bake and dance around with your kids. Yes, dance! HAVE FUN.

2. Downscale your holiday party. You want to be able to enjoy your guests, not be tied to the kitchen the whole night, so serve dishes that can be assembled ahead oftime and just need to be heated in the oven, have a potluck, or make it an appetizer party or a dessert and cocktail party. Save money by using coupons and buying what’s on ad.

3. Give back. A sure fire way to feel warm and fuzzy is to do something nice for others. Donate to an organization, charity of your choice, or give a gift to a needy child. Better yet, instead of giving money, donate your time at a shelter, feed the homeless or volunteer at a non-profit. The holidays are a great time to teach your child about sharing, empathy, and helping those that are less fortunate. Take this as an opportunity to teach a lesson without it feeling like one.

4. Stay healthy during the holidays. In 2000, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development did a study that determined we only gain about a pound during the holiday season. That doesn’t sound so bad, but here’s the catch, that weight tends to stick around and accumulate through the years, So in order to stayhealthy and happy during the holidays, don’t use the celebrating as an excuse to slack on your exercise routine. Try to exercise the day of Christmas parties, get those endorphins moving and you may be more likely to decline that second slice of pie. Try things in moderation, eat one holiday cookie to appease the baker, but stop there and fill at least half your plate with vegetables before hitting the other dishes.

5. Prepare for shopping! Leave your heels at home ladies, this is serious business. Make sure you bring water, comfortable shoes, snacks and dress in layers. Have a separate envelope with you for all of your receipts. This will make your experience more relaxing and enjoyable. Use sites like coupons.com to find restaurants and outings in your area offering great deals on having fun!

6. Get personal. Phew, you are done with your shopping. Finish it off right. Include a personal note with your holiday gifts rather than the standard “To” and “From” tag. It is a good reminder of what the spirit of giving is truly about, reminding the gifter and the giftee why they made it on your “nice” list this holiday season.

This has been a guest post by Coupons.com household savings expert, Jeanette Pavini

O Tannenbaum - O Christmas Tree in German

Andrew has been taking German lessons since September, and has been doing a great job! Before Christmas vacation he started learning how to sing O Tannenbaum in German. ~Enjoy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Care Packages for the Homeless


It has been a holiday season of giving back this year. Earlier in the month I brought Ella and Tyler with me to help serve the homeless at the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. 

Ella serving the homeless at the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen
While we were there, the children had an opportunity to speak with a lot of the people and learned what they truly needed this year. Tyler was helping to hand out donated toiletries, and he thought that bringing some Crystal Deodorant would be better for the people than the chemically based products. The one thing that most people mentioned they needed was a warm pair of socks.

The children wanted to come back before Christmas and bring some warm socks for the homeless people that eat dinner at the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen.

The first day of Christmas vacation the children woke-up early to put a care package together for the homeless people who eat at the soup kitchen. We drove together to Walmart to purchase some deodorant and socks. While we were at Walmart, we learned that many people in the community and choosing Crystal as their #1 choice.

The shelf was entirely sold out of the Crystal Roll-On deodorant. When we asked the Walmart employee if she could get us some Crystal from the back, she said, "We cannot keep it on the shelf." The kids were lucky that we keep a surplus of Crystal at home, since everyone in the family uses it.


When we got home we put the socks and deodorant together creating a beautiful gift basket to bring to the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen.


When we arrived we were greeted by incredible volunteers who graciously thanked the children for their donation. They talked with the children about how donating the socks will impact the people who will be receiving them.

The children look forward to donating lots of socks Crystal deodorant to the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen every month.


The children look forward to donating lots of socks Crystal deodorant to the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen every month. Andrew said, "Helping the homeless makes me feel happy."


I was compensated for this post as part of a social shopper insights study with Collective Bias. All our photos, thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Happy Holidays

All our holiday cards are addressed, stamped and sealed ready to be delivered. Since I cannot send all of my wonderful readers a card, I wanted to share a digital card.


Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were really the big things.

Have a wonderful holiday. 

All our Love,
The Barone Family




Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pay-it-Forward during the Holidays

The holidays are a time for giving and sharing your blessings with others. We have been teaching our children the value of helping people who are less fortunate than them, and working together to find ways to give back. Last week the children made a list of things they wanted to do within the community to help try and make the world a better place.


Stonyfield and Moms LA, had sent us a $50 gift card to do something sweet and show our #sweetitude within the community. The children decided that they wanted to give $1 to 50 different people around Orange County. The people who would receive the dollar, could either keep the dollar for themselves, or use it to pay-it-forward.



It took the children three days to distribute all the money, but they were successful in handing out all 50 $1 bills. Andrew had lost one of his dollars in a gust of wind, and he warmed our hearts by replacing it with one of his dollars from his piggy bank.

We were a little nervous about how people would react when our children would approach them to give them money. A lot of people were a little confused when a little kid walked up to them and opened their wallet, but so happy to hear what they were doing.



Some people cried, some people laughed and everyone left saying, "Merry Christmas!"



My husband I talked about how we would of been so nervous to approach people, and yet our children did it with such grace. They carefully selected who they wanted to approach, even made us pull over to the side of the road near a bus stop to give someone a dollar for their bus fare.


While we were out paying it forward around the community, the children took the last of their piggy bank money and purchased toys for the Toys for Tots toy drive in our community.


We have never been as proud of our children as we have been this holiday season. They have become role models not only to their friends, but to us as well. While my children said their prayers tonight, they prayed that all their dollars help make the world a better place for as many people as possible.

Open up your wallets and open up your hearts to someone special this holiday season.

We were given a $50 gift card from Stonyfield and we used it to pay-it-forward around the community. All our ideas, thoughts and opinions are of our own. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ok..Let it go Clark!

What does Thanksgiving mean to my husband? It means spending the day hanging off the ledge of the house stapling as many holiday lights onto the house as possible.



Every year we have the same drill when the sun goes down and on come the lights. We are not able to pop a piece of toast into the toaster, turn on a hair dryer or use any electronic device or the entire circuit board will blow on the house.

While I spend the entire year trying to conserve energy by doing laundry in the evening, sweating out the summer trying to avoid using the a/c, it all goes out the window for the month of December. We officially become the most non eco-friendly house in Orange County.

To my husband it is all about trying to win the neighborhood contest, that after almost 10 years we still have not won. This year he vowed that he will win the "winner" sign in his front yard...so help him!

The day after Thanksgiving he was busy hanging lights, I was in the kitchen with my Mother-in-law when all of a sudden we heard a massive crash. As we came running out the door, we saw all the other guys coming running towards my house too. In that moment, I thought that my husband might have killed himself trying to win a silly light decorating contest.

When I came outside he was laying on the ground and said, "I think something might have broken, but I have to get back up and finish stapling that strand to the house." I put my foot down and said, "No!" Yet he climbed right back up on the ladder and started stapling again.

The next morning he was sore and in a lot of pain, and yet out decorating again. The entire decorating process on the house took him 4 days total.


The neighborhood is gearing up for the voting this week. My husband is getting nervous that he still might not have enough lights because the guy down the street added music to his lights. The kids and I wanted to surprise him by getting a couple of more decorations hopefully to seal the deal for him!

We headed to Sears to see if they had any unique decorations. All the neighbors go to the local home improvement store, and let's face it, they all have the same decorations. As the kids came down the escalator at Sears, they screamed and ran into the holiday decorations area of the store.

We hit the jackpot! Sears had unique decorations that nobody on the street has. We found the coolest Disney items to add a personal touch to our decorations. While shopping, we needed to think about where we would be able to fit more decorations of the house.

The kids picked out the coolest Disney carousel that actually spins around! It was regularly priced at $199, and we were able to get it for only $99. We also found the cutest matching Mickey and Minnie statues to greet our guests by the front door.

We ran home as fast as we could to get the decorations set-up before Daddy came home. We had to move some things around, and the final result was amazing. We will keep you updated in a couple of days on whether my husband achieves his goal of winning the neighborhood contest this year!

I was compensated for this post as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All my photos, thoughts and opinions are of my own. #searsrealcheer #cbias

OC Moms: Creating Family Traditions

The holidays are a wonderful time to start traditions with your children. Enjoy my recent article published today at OC Moms.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Polly Want a Cracker?

The Nutcracker at The Irvine Barclay


Ella, Grandma and I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet at The Irvine Barclay theatre this year. The theatre was filled with little girls and boys in their best holiday clothes excited to see the Nutcracker. As the curtain went up, Ella gasped when she heard the beautiful music. She spent the entire show cuddling on my arm, and kept looking up at me with a smile when a new ballerina would come on stage.


The ballet had some of the most talented children dancers in Orange County paired with the most graceful professional dancers. The holiday classic ballet is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with young children.


Ella left the ballet dancing while humming along the music from the ballet. She has loved dancing ballet since she was just three years old, and was taking a break from dancing this year. When we got her into the car the first thing she said was, "I want to start dancing again." My heart melted because I loved watching her dance so much!



If you would like to see the Nutcracker, it will be playing until December 24th at the Irvine Barclay.

Tickets are $35 for children, $37 for seniors, and $40 for adults. Special Family Night performances on December 10 and 16 at 7 p.m. are only $30 per ticket if purchasing four or more tickets. For more information, call 949.854.4646 or visit www.thebarclay.org.

The Barclay Theatre is located at 4242 Campus Drive in Irvine.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:

•Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 & *7 p.m. (Dvorovenko/Beloserkovsky) (Family Night*)

•Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. (Dvorovenko/Beloserkovsky)

•Friday, Dec. 16 at *7 p.m. (Murphy/Saveliev) (Family Night*)

•Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 & 7 p.m. (Murphy/Saveliev)

•Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1 & 6 p.m. (Murphy/Saveliev)

•Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. (Körbes/Calmels)

•Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. (Körbes/Calmels)

•Thursday, Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. (Körbes/Calmels)

•Friday, December 23 at 2 p.m. (Körbes/Calmels)

•Saturday, December 24 at 11 a.m. (Körbes/Calmels)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OC Family: Barry's Bootcamp

Barry's Bootcamp has been sculpting some of Hollywood's hottest bodies, and has now opening in Orange County. You can learn more about this new gym at OC Family.

'Tis the Season of Santa


We have seen so many Santa's this year, that my kids have been talking about which Santa is the "real one." You can enjoy reading a great article on all the best mall Santa's in Orange County with OC Moms. The article was also published in The Orange County Register yesterday, with an adorable picture of my kids on the front page.

Fashion Island Santa, Newport Beach

Mission Viejo Mall Santa, Mission Viejo
Irvine Park RR Santa, Orange
Knott's Berry Farm Santa
The Discovery Science Center Santa

Mickey Santa at Disneyland






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