FabricMania continues....

Remember the fabric design I created for Spoonflower contest? I just received an actual fabric sample of it! I am super excited to share it with you - I did not even bother to iron it ;)!
 It came out really really nice - crisp lines, bright colors, and fabric quality ( I selected cotton/linen) is superb! I am so impressed with this company - all I can think about is more fabric designs!

By the way,  I have entered a second contest with " Carousel" theme, here is my design:


A place to escape it all...

Doesn't it look heavenly?

My good friend just got back from a trip she organized for her husband as a surprise birthday present (!!!!)  They visited this awesome little hotel in Jamaica called Rock House Hotel. It is literally built on the rocky cliffs and is surrounded by turquoise water. The main idea behind the design was to create a hotel that would become an extension of its natural surroundings.
 And I think the architect Jean-Henri Morin did an excellent job, don't you?

P.S. Special thanks to Nadia who introduced me to this little piece of paradise.


My new obsession

It has been a while since I blogged, but I kind of had a really busy week. All the preparations for Alina's birthday party, which took place this past Saturday in our backyard, sucked all the juices out of me. I guess a party with 14 people, 2 kids, all homemade food, hadmade cake, crafty decorations CAN be tricky and a bit stressful. I should remember it for the future. But thanks to my family - clean up was a breeze!
Now, you know how I like fabrics? I am always on a lookout for some fabric cuteness ( plus still looking for the perfect ( by that I mean great looking, good quality, affordable) fabric for master bedroom. Check out what I found  - Spoonflower . You can design your own fabric and they will print it for you, pretty affordable too. Or you can browse through hundreds of other people's design and buy it.  Plus, they hold weekly contests which everyone can enter. Simply create an account and sumbit your design based on a particular theme. Then people vote and the winner is announced the following week. I could not resist entering this weeks contest "tractors", here is what I submitted - go vote for me starting September 1st!


Chunky Lamb Soup

This fragrant lamp soup, full of chunky veggies & Middle Eastern spices will have your neighbors wondering what you cooking. In a good sense, of course! 
It is quite flexible in making - you can use variety of vegetables you have on hand. When I get low on groceries, and have one of every vegetable, I turn to this good "clean-out-your-fridge" kind of recipe. However, some items are a must: red bell pepper, carrot, garlic. Other items are pretty interchangeable. This time I used what I found in my fridge. You can do the the same :)
Also, you can make it as chunky as you like, just add water accordingly and dice veggies per your preference.

Chunky Lamp Soup

1 Carrot
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Italian Green Pepper
1 Light Green Zucchini
1 Yellow Zucchini
1 Med. Onion
2 Med. Potatos
1 Tomato
2 Garlic Cloves
Approx. 2 cups of lamb meat cut into small (1/2") pieces
1 tsp coriander seeds, mashed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, mashed
Salt, lots of freshly ground pepper
Fresh herbs, my standard mix: dill+cilantro
Cooking Oil

1. Cover the bottom of a large pot with some cooking oil ( I use non-stick and start with a couple of tbsp, then add more if needed). Add onion, cook until translucent.

2. Add meat + Spices+Garlic+Salt, Pepper. Cook until meat is starts to get brown edges, around 10-15 min ( also, this is a good time to add hot flakes if you like spicy food)

3. Add veggies - you can add them all at once if you have them ready, but I usually start chopping while my meat is cooking, so I add them as I have them ready: carrots, peppers, zucchinis, etc. This way each newly added item cooks for about 2 min before I add a new roommate ;) Saute all veggies for about 10 more min, until all liquid has evaporated and they start to caramelize a little.

4. When everything looks cooked, add 6 cups of water ( less if you want the soup more chunky) and bring to a boiling point, then simmer on the lowest for 30 min.

5. Add fresh herbs when ready to serve.



Birthday Girl

Today is my little girl's birthday! Exactly 3 years ago, she came into my life and changed it forever. She is sweet and smart and so loving! Yes, she may be difficult at times but what toddler isn't? I am lucky to have her and would not want any other girl.
 I hope she grows up happy and  feeling loved, makes smart decisions, meets loyal friends and that no matter what, her family will always come first.
Tonight we are making a little family gathering due to 2 reasons: 1) Alina's actual Birth Day 2) Alina's uncle ( my husbands brother) is leaving for Israel for two weeks and we just want to wish him good luck

Also, Alina's daycare will be celebrating her birthday as well, I am coming too, along with Alan and my mom. And I am bringing cupcakes I made + favors for the kids. So we have a busy day celebrating!


"Totally me!" not for me.

Today we had a lazy Saturday morning, slept late, and then headed off to a park nearby. The weather was beautiful - sunny and breezy and fresh!
As usual, after playing with everything that there is to play with ( slides, swings, various craw/climb/jump stations) Alan started "borrowing" other kids bicycles and small riding cars. After another "No, Alan, this belongs to boy, not you", my husband said, "Ok, let's go get him some wheels". And so we went!
Twenty minutes later, we are standing in the middle of Toys"R"us trying to fit automatic Thomas tank engine into already full shopping cart. To entertain potential 5 kids during our upcoming birthdya party, we also picked up a large bag of Building Blocks, sidewalk chalk, plastic groceries ( Alina loves playing grocery store!) and  Alinas birthday present- a large jewelry making kit! Which brings me to the next item of discussion here.
 "Totally Me! Dressy Rainbow Jewelry Kit" -  I sat down with this colorful box and marveled: "It is huge! So many different variety of beads, strings, clips, alphabet cubes, flowers!"
"Oh", I continued, "Alina will be thrilled!", only my enthusiasm has been replaced by disappointment when I turned over the box and found the label stating the following:
Contains lead. May be harmful if eaten or chewed. May generate dust containing lead.

Wait.    What???

How is it that this box is still on shelves of the biggest children's store? How could I have failed to see this at the store?

Perhaps, the percentage of the toxic elements are within the allowable limit, but I cannot bring myself to keep this very beautiful but potentially harmful present for my daughter.
 I am taking it back.
 And still looking for a good alternative on these cute websites:  Here and here and here. Perhabs something made out of wood.
 Also, here is a short helpful article about toxic jewelry, check out the rest of the blog too - great sources for toxic-free children's items.
Hope you found it useful.

Stay healthy!


Mushrooms with Sweet Onions

No matter how unfocused I am, I have to feed my family. Last night I made another light, yet satisfying dinner- Fish with sauteed mushrooms on the side. Mushrooms are another great alternative to meat during summer. Whether it's huge portobello baked with stuffing or mushroom soup, or my case, side dish mushrooms, these savory guys can really wake up your taste buds and satisfy your craving for that earthy, juicy, robust bite. Here is how I make them to go along with fish/pasta.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Sweet onions

2 packages of baby portobello mushrooms, washed, halved/quartered
1 large onion, chopped ( Vidalia onion recommended)
2 tbsp butter
Salt, Pepper
Fresh Herbs
Sour Cream - optional

1.In a large pan heat some oil, add chopped onion - saute until golden brown, do not salt
2. Add mushrooms, mix - saute 15 min on med, do not salt.

At this point the mushrooms and onions will cook and some will even caramelize a little.

3. Add butter, salt, pepper -  saute until butter melts.Garnish with fresh herbs.
4. If you feel you need extra love - add a couple tbsp of sour cream.

I didn't.

But you can ;)



Image via petelaburn.wordpress.com

I have been feeling somewhat uninspired & scattered these past a couple days, hence, the light blogging. I have all these ideas and tasks flying in my head, but I was simply unable to stop and concentrate on a single thing. The first and foremost:
-Alina's Birthday coming up ( Aug 17, but celebration is on 21st) This year we are gathering a small, really close group of people, basically just an immediate family and celebrating on Saturday morning in our newly renovated backyard. At this point we don't really have many friends with kids, some are just starting the process, others have really small babies, therefore, instead of a big party full of adults ( which is no fun for a 3-year-old) we have decided to keep it small this year, but cute and fun nevertheless. My job is to make sure the place is well-decorated, kids are entertained, adults get along and have a great time.  And that's what my head is preoccupied with right now.
  • decide on the cake design/flavor
  • purchase all the birthday accessories such as tablecloth, napkins, balloons, disposable dinnerware.
  • come up with activities/games/ entertainment for kids ( should be 5 kids total, including 2 of mine)
  • finish all decorations
I am sure I am forgetting something....

There are also some unfinished projects that await for my attendance, like,
  • sealing the outdoor tile in the backyard before summer ends
  • repaint our front porch railing and door frame
  • sealing the front door to preserve finish
And some new projects that are coming up:
  • make bench cushions for our extra-long :) backyard bench
  • plant something in our new backyard flower bed
  • make draperies for our master bedroom
  • make draperies for our living room
  • make draperies for Alan's room
  • make new crib sheet for Alan
Hopefully, I will get back my ability to focus and be efficient soon, and will finally conqure all the items above.


Brooklyn Children's Museum

Yesterday my mom and I took the kids to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. They had a blast!

Sand station was a favorite!

Hello there!

Waterworks, here I come!

I never want to leave..

You are silly, brother.

Make some noise!

Busy shopping at the children's grocery store...

 What else was on my shopping list?

Hmmm, I wonder what this is? Whatever it is, I'll take it!

At last, dancing!

Grandma joined the party!

This was the first official successful kids trip. We had taken them to the beach a couple times, but it didn't worked out that well. I know parents who take their kids everywhere from day one, and I am amazed at how they do it. I've waited this long to start taking them places because :

1)Both of them get motion sick if traveling in the car for more than 15 min
2) They have unpredictable reactions to new places/people/ activities
3) It's not easy to take care of two little toddlers by myself

So now that they are almost 3 & 1.5 year old, it is a little easier to make such trips, and I am going to try to make it happen.


Homemade Chinese

I love making Chinese food at home. Recently I have discovered a great source for delicious asian recipes - Appetite for China.  General Tso's Chicken is the first recipe I tried, and it turned out so well, I made it again a few days later. I pretty much followed the entire recipe except the sesame oil. I just....well...I...dont...really....like...it  - dont judge! Perhaps, together with so many ingredients I would not really taste it, but I did not want to risk it. So a little splash of vegetable oil did the trick. Otherwise, the recipe is perfect, hope you enjoy it!

Thanks Appetite for China!

* Update: To get to the actual recipe click on "Appetite for China" above highlighted in blue. I did not see the point of retyping the exact recipe here - link is easier :) My only change from the original is that I add red bell pepper to the mix, just to get more fiber into the meal.


Just what I was looking for!

My daughter has just started to take interest in coloring books. But the ones we have are too detailed for her as she still having troubles staying inside the lines. So I was looking for large scale simple line drawings that are usually used in preschools. And today I found the perfect place to get them- Twisty Noodle has tons of objects/people/letters to select from, and it's free!


What to give to a 3-year-old boy for his birthday?

My daughter got invited to the very first birthday party. It's her daycare buddy, and he is going to turn 3! WIth all the excitement and explanation to Alina of what a birthday party is going to be like, I totally forgot about THE birthday present until today.Thankfully, I still have 6 days to get something special. Ok, so I am thinking: he is 3, he is a boy, what does he want? Quick search online, and I stumbled upon a great webstore - Oompa. The have a huge selection of toys that are eco-friendly, made in the USA, made in Europe, and just simply unique and adorable! There are too many to post here, just go to their website and see for yourself. Here is what we got for the little birthday boy:

E-Truck looks totally awesome! Modern and well-designed to last.

Forest Friends Block Puzzle has 6 pictures to put together! My daughter loves this kind of puzzles!

Because you can never have enough of colored pencils, and these require no sharpener!
 ( though Oompa has really cute pencil sharpeners ;)


Dedicated to all the Baby Girls to be born soon!

Two of my pregnant girlfriends are having GIRLS! Yey! Girls rock! To celebrate this great news I am doing a post about wonderful modern fabrics that I think can inspire anyone to create the cutest nurseries for girls. Not your-ordinary-disney-kind-of cute, but unique, sweet, elegant, modern kind-of-cute. Seriously, this Etsy shop makes me want to have another baby just for the sake of designing a nursery around their fabrics. WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?