Endless Summer with Taste of Nature

The theme around here lately seems to always return to the full days of fun that we are having this summer.  It really is hard to believe just how much we pack into a single day and I’d like to think only of our endless summer before autumn breezes and academic shuffles creep back in.  I hope that the kids will remember their early childhood bond and the togetherness of our big extended family.

tree swing

To some extent we feel like party crashers but even the most impromptu visits are welcomed by family with open arms.  There is so much beauty just a short drive out of NYC and the dreamy respite is rejuvenating.

Most importantly, we are together.  All of us.

It’s nice to arrive with a party packed into a suitcase and working with Taste of Nature was a perfect meshing for my family.  I was happy to introduce their tasty, certified organic, gluten-free, non-gmo project verified snack bars to our tribe.

taste of nature organic bars #realtastesgood

From green energy to constructing schools in Africa, Taste of Nature chooses carefully to support sustainable farming, empower communities and preserve the environment.  And since Taste of Nature bars are free of fillers, chemicals or anything artificial I feel good about giving these simple, healthy snacks to the growing littles.

Taste of Nature Barstaste of nature 4

Taste of Nature’s six delicious flavors include Brazilian Nut Festival, California Almond Valley, Quebec Cranberry Carnival, Canadian Maple Forest, Himalayan Goji Summit, and Persian Pomegranate Garden.  I appreciate that what you see is what you get with these bars.

Taste of Nature Bars #RealTastesGood

Unlike some of the completely healthy things that I’ve tested out with my family – Taste of Nature actually tastes good.  They were a hit!  And so was the paver stone art.

creative chalk drawing with kids

And the pool.  And endless paddle ball games.

taste of nature 6

Purchase taste of Nature for $1.99 each at Fairway Market here in New York City or at many other stores near you.  And stay in touch with Taste of Nature via Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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How To Cook Like An Italian Grandmother – Casserole Making With My MIL {Sponsored}

I officially have two children in school and am on a continued quest to become a better chef.  With an emphasis on quick and delicious crowd pleasing meals, I’m learning from the best cook that I have ever met in my entire life: my mother-in-law.  I am convinced that one of  her primary secret ingredients is love.  She takes pleasure in creating elaborate meals for her family to enjoy, and I’m determined to learn some of her great family recipes.  But right now, I’ve requested her expertise in guiding me through delicious meals that can be prepared in the midst of busy after school schedules.

Together we recently made a Mushroom and Artichoke Casserole.  It was awesome and easy!
the best casserole recipie Mushroom and Artichoke Casserole

I learn so much every time that I cook with my mother-in-law, and I always appreciate the stories about her own mother’s Sunday dinner table.

cook like an Italian Granny

We prepared our casserole with Country Crock Original Spread.  It has zero grams of trans fat, and 70 percent less fat than butter per serving.  It is also fee of partially hydrogenated oils and cholesterol.

mushroom and artichoke casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Country Crock Original Spread
  • 2 packages frozen artichoke hearts (thawed and chopped)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds penne
  • 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, chopped
  • 2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons Country Crock Original Spread
  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ground nutmeg

Preparation

Melt Country Crock Original Spread in large skillet, over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and mushrooms, sauteing until mushrooms release juice and begin to brown (approximately 6-8 minutes.  Add the artichokes and vermouth and stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed (approximately 10 minutes).   Add a bit of salt and pepper

Cook Penne al dente

In a large bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parsley, egg and 2 cups Pecorino Romano cheese.

Bechamel Sauce Preparation

Melt Country Crock Original Spread in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add flour and stir for 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk, reduce heat and simmer until sauce lightly coats the spoon.  Stir occasionally (approximately 20 minutes).  Stir in 1 1/2 cups Pecorino Romano.  Add a bit of salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

In a large casserole dish mix prepared ingredients and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano.  Cover with foil.  Preheat oven to 350 F and bake casserole for 1 hour.  Remove foil and increase temperature to 450 F.  Continue to back for approximately 10 minutes.

YUM!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Genotyping With 23andMe {Sponsored}

 


As a parent, I often reflect upon the ways in my husband and I are shaping our children.  I think about the behavior we model, the lifestyle choices we make and the sort of values that we are demonstrating.  I am constantly striving to be better for myself and for my family.

As a former Public Health researcher, I have a natural interest in behavioral health, risk reduction, and catalysts for change. Recently, Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy  after learning she carried a version of the BRCA1 gene, ignited discussions about Genomic Testing.  What if we all had better insight into our own health and DNA?  What if we had a deeper knowledge of inherited conditions that could be passed on to our children? And what if we were able to present our doctors with a map of specific health conditions to be on the lookout for?

I was recently introduced to 23andMe, a personal DNA testing company that offers affordable genotyping services via an at-home spit test.  23andMe allows consumers to bypass a lab and doctors to obtain individualized genomic information (for $99) from the privacy of their computer.

Over 240 health conditions and traits, and over 40 different inherited conditions are provided in the 23andMe individualized report. 23andMe can alert people to mutations in DNA that can cause disease in their children, including Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia and Tay-Sachs Disease.  This test also gives insight into one’s genetic chances of getting conditions like Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, Uterine Fibroids, Lou Gehrig’s Diseases and Pancreatic Cancer. Although there may be a pool of people who would rather remain in the dark, I imagine that such results could be a powerful motivator for lifestyle change. If a person learns of an elevated risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, they may be empowered to implement a specific exercise regime and healthy eating program.  Such results could even snowball into other family members adapting significant lifestyle changes.

The 23andMe results also  include detailed ancestry composition, showing what percentage of an individual’s  DNA comes from each of the 22 worldwide populations.  Family lineages can be traced beyond 10,000 years back showing an estimate of one’s genome-wide percentage of Neanderthal ancestry.

I’m interested in the impact that 23andMe may have in the future health arena.  I wonder if consumer based genotyping will have a pivotal role in shaping future treatment modalities. I’m also fascinated by the idea of being able to obtain such specific genomic information from home.  I would certainly love to have such insight.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Little Kid Swag With Old Navy {Sponsored}

Did I ever mention how much I love styling my littles?  They’re still at an age where they allow me to do so without too much protest, so naturally I jumped at the chance to dress them in some of my favorite picks from Old Navy’s Kids & Baby Sale.

Great style is not synonymous with a high price tag.  I’ve been able to purchase extraordinary garments for my children at remarkably reasonable prices.  During Old Navy’s current Kids & Baby Sale, I hit the store upon opening to score my stylin’ picks with savings of up to 40% off.  Glitter-covered mary-janes, tees with capes and five dollar leggings quickly filled my cart.  I also picked out two adorable head to toe looks for my bambinos.  Lucia loves to celebrate her own sense of style, which I’d describe as feminine, fun and incredibly colorful.  I instantly knew she’d be happy with this lotus orange neon ruffle-dot dress and metallic-woven sandals.  Perfect for twirling and general Lucia Paloma-ing.  Adrian’s already a cool kid and I’m moderately obsessed with dressing him in bow-ties.  I’ve made a few for him, but have found them nearly impossible to find in stores.  Since classic never goes out of style, I couldn’t resist this seersucker blazer and a white shirt and bow-tie set.  I mixed it up with fresh kicks (check out his color-blocked high-tops!) and dark denim to highlight his little-man swag.

Here they are showing off their new duds.

Little swagsters indeed!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Mama Beauty {Sponsored}

Motherhood has proven to be a transformative experience.  In many ways, I have never felt more feminine and powerful as a women.  Growing, birthing and sustaining life gave me a new perspective on my own femininity, body image and capabilities.  I love taking care of myself when I have the chance too.  I also hoard an arsenal of wondrous beauty products.  Yet, most of the time I feel as if I am living in a strange dichotomy of sloppy or glamorized.  On many days, my beauty regime includes a toothbrush, a swipe of my coveted concealer, a messy bun and a mad dash to get my kiddos in a stroller and on a buggy board so I can sprint (yes sprint) to get my daughter to school on time.  But sometimes,  I have the chance to get done up and I love creating a smoking eye, grabbing some fun jewels and going out.

Now that we are all getting adequate sleep (and I’m not getting any younger), I’m working on incorporating more of a beauty regime back into my life.  Taking a shower without little people flinging toys in my space or begging me to get out is a luxury these days. Yet if I can manage to sneak in an uninterrupted shower and add a nice body scrub- my day is transformed!  It’s the little things that make me feel great.  Like, the ombre glitter nail stickers that I took time to put on last week and the much needed hair cut I squeezed in after realizing that my straggly strands had reached Cousin Itt proportions.  It’s amazing how a deep conditioner and a body moisturizer with a hint of self tanner can help me feel better about myself.  I’m promising to add more dimensions to my at home mama beauty and incorporate a mild facial scrub or an at-home peel every now and then.  I also want to work on my smile and test out Crest 3D White Strips.

I teach my daughter that true beauty comes from within – and it does.  And when I take care of myself in ways that make me feel good, I’m a better person for myself and my entire family.

For all my lovelies who live near Kroger brand stores (Caroline, this one’s for you!), now’s a perfect time to stock up on your favorite beauty items.  Download a digital coupon for a different product each day straight to your shopper card at the Cart Buster site for great deals on your favorite products at the Kroger Co. Family of Stores!

I was selected for participation in this sponsored campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

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Go Back to School With Old Navy


My children have enjoyed a fluid schedule this summer.  Costumes, tulle-explosions, and questionable interesting accessories have comprised Lucia’s everyday attire, while Adrian has been sporting play-clothes and homemade tie T-shirts.  Nonetheless, both of my littles are growing out of everything at lightening speed.

As the first week of school rapidly approaches, it’s time to tuck away the costumes into the weekend only box and start sewing something special.  It’s also time to search for bargains on back to school shopping that won’t compromise my mini fashionista’s Kindergarten Style.  I’m looking for comfortable pieces that can be interchanged and ones that will keep my dashing dude looking fly as he enters mommy-and-me nursery co-op for the first time.  Thankfully, Old Navy’s on trend with their current back to school collection at prices that won’t break this mama’s bank.

Old Navy’s girls’ collection boasts bold colors, graphic patterns, stripes, polka-dots, animal prints and beautiful embellishments.  The sort of fun stuff that my little girl adores in her clothing.  Since Lucia’s prevailing taste includes skirts and dresses, I can see her pairing this turquoise polka dot skirt and comfortable leggings with pieces that she already owns during the first week of school.

            Canvas Slip-on Sneakers         Pattern Tiered Skirt         Printed Jersey Leggings        Crew-Neck Applique Tee

I’m ready to embrace a more sophisticated school-boy-cool look for my little man this fall.  I love that polo shirts, dark jeans, plaid, and graphic sneakers are in style this season.  I like my boy with a little bit of prep and a little bit of funk.  I think that a collection like this will help to show off my little boy’s swagger.

Boot Cut-Jeans                                       Graphic Jersey Polo                                   Patterned Slip-On Pop Kicks

The best thing about the above pieces is that they are all $10 and less a pop!

Happy back to school shopping y’all!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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