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Tuesday Tip- Love this product! These guard strips are keeping me from being a maniac at bedtime!

If you have a little one that you plan to or have recently moved to a big kid bed or even one that just sleeps like a wild hyena ..then this is for you!!

My 6 year old is all about being a big kid like her siblings. She doesn’t want to do or have anything that makes her look like a baby compared to them. Not too long ago we removed the guard rail from her twin bed which has made me a maniac at ensuring all wooden parts of her bed are covered with something!! I mean really anything I can shove in or over the wood was getting the job done. So at nighttime I would take ALL the blankets and stuffed animals to cram around her bed. It was seriously a giant mound of all the soft things. I’m really not a total nutcase. This one sleeps like I would imagine the roadrunner would sleep. She moves, twists and spins so much even the cat gets caught up 🀣

So I’m basically terrified of her falling out and getting hurt. To be honest she doesn’t really fall out of her bed or at least hasn’t in a long time. She manages to stay up there somehow …but I’m still terrified because there was this one time she did fall out during the night and needed stitches.

So I did some research and stumbled upon the furniture guards people use around their houses on coffee tables, fireplaces etc. for baby proofing. I figured why not try it for her bed. They were really inexpensive and so easy to apply. Here’s what I ordered:


The guards came with a bunch of other baby-proofing items free (super sweet) but we didn’t need them. The guard strip is so easy to apply and use wherever you need it. I was able to cut it to the length of her bed frame and attach it myself. I added the double sided sticky tape that came in the package to both sides of the guard strip, peeled off the paper and stuck it to the bed. It went on easily and hasn’t moved since I first applied it a few weeks ago. It’s soft and foamy, makes us all sleep better at night!

(There are plenty of others on Amazon as well and different colors, you can see I chose black)

~Elena πŸ’•

Food, Uncategorized

Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta recipe review. πŸ‹ πŸ

One of my recent goals is to make a new meal every week. At least one meal I haven’t ever made before to try to switch things up a bit. It proves to be difficult because our nights are seriously crazy! Between sports practices , gymnastics, religion and any other after school activity that pops up….then there are evenings my husband is home late or traveling. When weekends roll around there are games for said sports, more religion, church & altar serving, birthday parties….it’s usually just easier to make one of my regular go-to meals. But I’ve been off to a pretty good start since I’ve also been trying to use the crockpot and instant pot more. So for now Monday and Thursday are the weeknights that everyone can usually sit and eat at the same time. Last week I decided to try out a Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta recipe and oh my goodness it was delicious!!

I stumbled on the recipe on the Delish website while I was looking for something else and printed it out so I wouldn’t lose or forget it. It made enough for the 5 of us for one dinner, a leftover night and just enough for me to have another day for lunch 🀫 (don’t tell my oldest because she usually wants the pasta leftovers for her school lunch)!! We had it with a loaf of Italian bread and Cesar salad for a side.

Here’s the recipe: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a52782/lemon-asparagus-chicken-pasta-recipe/

There were only about 4 reviews that I could see which was so surprising because it was easy and delicious. I didn’t really have to change much of anything. I had a block of mozzarella so I shredded that, I didn’t have a red onion so I used a vidalia and I used about 1/4 cup less of the heavy cream to make it a tad lighter but went a little heavier on the lemon juice. The chicken turned out perfect and I had to remove my 6 year old from the kitchen because she kept stealing it off the cutting board before I finished making the pasta!! We all love asparagus in my house but if it’s fresh it really needs to be cooked perfectly so it isn’t too hard or overdone and mushy. I cut a good inch or so off the bottom and then cut each spear into thirds. I think that simmering it for a few minutes in the sauce really makes the difference so it’s cooked just right.

A few days later and my husband said ‘that asparagus pasta was amazing, you need to make sure you keep that for one of your go-to recipes!’ And honestly since I could eat pasta all day everyday πŸ€— he doesn’t have to tell me that twice!!

~Elena πŸ’•

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Moms need checkups too!

Every new year my husband and I always talk about what the previous year will be remembered for or marked by. Like there’s the year he had his heart attack, the year we moved from Florida to CT, the years marked by fertility drugs and IVF, the year we got our first pet,…etc. Sometimes years are remembered for predominantly medical reasons like the year of the heart attack which was the same year our littlest basically had her own room at the children’s ER for multiple reasons from stitches to Lyme disease. 2018 seems as though it will be remembered as my medical year. I think us moms tend to put our own health on the back burner in various ways sometimes. With 3 kids I sort of feel like I’m always at the doctors or dentists office! My biggest slack off was not having a women’s wellness check since I had my youngest 6 years earlier 😣..well when 2018 began one of my resolutions was to change that!

A few months into the year and I still hadn’t gotten the ball rolling, so my husband took it upon himself to inquire about doctors and make me an appt. He’s pushy like that πŸ™„ It all began with an OB visit and one bad Pap smear, which then led to a second along with a biopsy and thank goodness all was fine. Next up was my first ever mammogram which also was abnormal followed by a second, then an ultrasound which once again thankfully turned out ok. But at my initial OB visit sitting across the room from the doctor she asked me how my thyroid was…I assumed fine. But why was she asking? She said it looked a bit swollen and wanted me to get it checked out, then one thing led to another!

I made an appt with my primary doctor who of course scolded me a bit for being way overdue for a physical, she then referred me to an Endocrinologist. From there it was a 6 month period of multiple biopsies, bloodwork, ultrasounds, genetic testing and various doctors & appointments. Each step told us that there was a cyst like lump attached to my thyroid that was fairly large and noticeable. Blood work and all other tests showed that the thyroid wasn’t an issue but the tests on the cyst continued to be inconclusive. It was frustrating, scary and we were just ready to figure things out and move on.

Eventually the decision was made that the lump would be removed to be safe and would either be taking part or all of my thyroid with it. I’m not much of a sharer and I certainly don’t speak up very often, so thankfully my husband was always full of questions. He immediately began researching and schooled himself on the procedures & possible results all throughout this process. Me not so much! One google search and pictures of women who looked like their throats had been slit in a back alley and I was done πŸ™ˆ Which is the reason I felt it was important to share this on social media. Apparently thyroid issues are way more common than I would’ve expected. Statistics show 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid issue in their lifetime! For me I didn’t have any obvious thyroid issues. I wasn’t overweight or underweight, I wasn’t excessively tired and my blood work was all normal but luckily someone noticed the lump in my throat.

We decided to schedule surgery during the winter break which was perfect for keeping my mind off of it. So 3 days after Christmas my husband took me to the hospital before the crack of dawn. The hospital and staff were awesome and a few hours later I woke up without a lump and minus the right lobe of my thyroid. Thankfully it proved to be benign and I was able to keep half of the thyroid. It’s been 3 weeks since the procedure, so this week I will be going in for blood work to see if I’ll need to be on any thyroid medication. My surgeon was amazing and my scar will be noticeable but minimal. Fortunately it’s scarf season! But seriously I DO NOT look like any of the scary pictures I first saw when I Googled.

A few days with my throat being sore inside & out, and about 2 weeks without exercising but all in all it wasn’t that bad. At my follow up visit the doctor said the ‘tumor’ was the size of a small egg and it was difficult to conceal the scar because I apparently have a skinny giraffe neck πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ€£. That was the first time along this whole journey that anyone said ‘tumor’ and I’m so thankful for it. I would have been way more scared & anxious all along the way had they used that term.

I’m ready to put 2018 behind me and would love to not have to visit another doctors office again! But despite my feelings at the moment, I do plan to be better about routine medical care. To be honest if I hadn’t had that first OB appt. the lump could’ve remained there for years! So it’s good I followed through and made that appt. for myself 😝🀣

~Elena πŸ’–

Here’s my neck from a few days after surgery to today β†™οΈβ†˜οΈ


Chapter 8 Review

A Time for Fruitfulness and Replenishment

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. Ecclesiastes 3:5

‘Just as God has a plan that bolsters the fruitfulness of trees, He also has a plan to develop the fruitfulness in our lives. In seasons of life, God will call us to gather-to become highly active and productive. In other seasons of life, God will call us to scatter- to become less active and productive so we can recover and become rejuvenated. Times of fruitfulness and replenishment are necessary in our lives if we’re going to grow into all God has for us.’

I am most definitely in a “scatter” season. As most of you know I went through a divorce last year. Anyone who has been through a divorce knows how painful it is. So many emotions and stages of grief. For me I feel relief, anger, failure, sadness, and happiness depending on what day it is. Because I have all these emotions that I’m dealing with I feel like I can’t share or post because a lot of ugly comes out. 😬 So I know before I can write and share about my divorce or anything else about my life, I need to heal. That’s why you see more posts from Elena these days than from me….and because she is a better writer, but whatever! Lol

I am not normally a person who likes to sit alone and do nothing but it is exactly what I need for now. I am figuring out who I am, what I want to do in life, and what makes me happy. I have set goals for myself and I’m working towards them. I am easily distracted so being solo, staying home, and never going out helps me stay on track. πŸ˜‚

Most days I feel like I can’t meet my goals, that I’m not smart enough, and I’m not strong enough but it’s all fear. I know that God has a plan for my life and I’m excited about the future!

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

-Erin πŸ™ŒπŸ»


Super quick & easy Chocolate cake.

So last night I was searching on Pinterest for something totally not food related. In fact it was a sample cell phone contract for my tween because I hadn’t gotten around to doing that yet since she got a phone from Santa πŸŽ…πŸΌ. And Pinterest knows me so well that it thought I might like to try a chocolate cake……well don’t mind if I do Pinterest, thank you so much!

Since my son has been getting over the stomach bug, I’m fighting a little cold, kids had the day off and it was a lazy Redbox day this cake was just what we needed. The Chocolate Cravings Cake was super quick & easy to make, crazy chocolatey and small so I’m not forced to eat an an entire cake when the kids aren’t looking, not that I would do that 🀭

Here’s the recipe:


I always love I Am Baker recipes and haven’t been disappointed yet!! This cake is super rich so I had mine with coffee β˜•οΈ

~Elena πŸ’–


Tips & Tricks Tuesday🏑

Yesterday after I posted my microwave confession I decided I should embrace my cleaning obsession and make it a weekly share. I’m nonstop searching for and trying out cleaning and household products to find the best of the best. I’m also always looking for things that make my life easier and more efficient. So why not share so others can benefit from my crazy! πŸ€ͺ

Ever since I was younger I remember loving to clean, dust and reorganize my bedroom. I would randomly decide I needed a change and try to move around my furniture and reorganize. I loved helping my mom clean!! One of my jobs would be cleaning the carpeted stairs and I would use a heavy duty cleaning brush to get all the junk stuck in the crease….it would be so satisfying to get those suckers spotless! Oh and cleaning the giant solarium windows were another favorite! See this isn’t new, I was definitely born this way! Lol! Once in college after a breakup I spent days scouring my dorm room and our suite kitchen, I wreaked of cleaning products for days!!

Ok let’s move on, so every Tuesday I’ll share something I’ve found that works either for cleaning or any random tip that I’ve found makes life easier.

Today I’m starting with my hardwood floors because they were trashed after the holidays! My house is predominantly hardwood and I love it because it’s so much easier to clean than carpet! But my floors take quite a beating. Shoes are worn in the house, my littlest one is known to drag chairs around so she can reach things and my son bounces & dribbles ALL the balls!! I’m constantly yelling at the kids to stop running, pick things up and don’t drag stuff across the floor. Don’t judge on the balls in the house, totally my husband’s fault because he thinks it’s great that the kids are ‘practicing.’ πŸ™„ Not so great when a soccer ball kicked across the kitchen beheaded a pricey Disney Tinker Belle cookie jar I loved 🀬 Ok back to my floors…

I always clean my floors with Pine-Sol multi-surface, the one that says safe for use on hardwood floors. And I always say “that’s the power of Pine-Sol baby” multiple times while I’m cleaning 😬, it has to be done. But seriously, it smells so amazing and gets all the greasy or stuck on stuff up quick and easy. The real secret is how to get the floors sparkling. Holloway House Quick Shine is the trick and I buy a big bottle from Walmart . Put some in a simple spray bottle and don’t dilute. After my floor has dried completely, I spray a small area at a time and spread with a wet mop. I use a bucket with a little bit of water and a separate mop. I recommend using a separate mop because the solution is a bit tacky, I just buy one from the dollar store so I don’t get it confused with my regular mop. After you do the entire floor you need to let it dry completely because it is a tiny bit sticky when wet and you will see footprints. And voila done!!! Amazing shine! If your floors are super dull you can repeat and polish again once it dries. My floors seriously shine like new when I’m done without having to do anything expensive or permanent.

Go ahead, try it and tell me what you think!

~Elena 🧼


What exactly is pigs in a blanket?πŸ–

Last week I asked my family if they had any dinner requests and my oldest immediately said ‘Pigs in a Blanket’. I wasn’t sure what she meant because people have different ideas of what pigs in a blanket actually is. My son then yells “yes, those hot dog things!!’ At which point she says no, what she was referring to was cabbage rolls and my husband immediately agrees with her request.

Where we are originally from in Pennsylvania many people make stuffed cabbage rolls referred to as Pigs in a Blanket. A quick Google search tells me that the origin is Jewish or Polish , which there were large populations of both where we lived. But I’m Italian and I can tell you I don’t recall my mom ever making them…stuffed peppers yes but cabbage was saved for St. Paddy’s day.☘️

I’ve made Stuffed Cabbage in the past but this time I thought I would search for an Instant Pot recipe. I found a pretty clear and detailed recipe online that seemed doable. First I must admit it was a tad tedious and took quite a bit of hands on time. I tried to do a few things at once to get it done quicker but it definitely is a recipe you need free time for, and not one to put on your easy weeknight meal rotation. Normally I’m trying to cook while helping with homework and projects, but this one needed my full attention until it was all assembled and closed up in the Instant Pot. But all in all it was delicious!! We had leftovers since it made about 13/14 rolls for me and they were all eaten in 2 days!

Here’s the recipe.

I made one change and used 2lb of the super lean ground beef omitting the ground pork. I also put way more than 2 tablespoons of filling in each because I like them super full. The recipe says it made 15 rolls, I’m pretty sure I had 13 or 14 because I was out of large leaves by that point but I still had a lot of filling leftover. Since it was already mixed I decided to cook it up in a pan and added a few spoons of diced tomatoes. My girls (and I🀫) ate it while we waited for the rolls to cook in the IP. I didn’t need or use toothpicks to hold them together because they hold on their own with the seam down. When I put them in the IP they filled it up to just about the Max Fill line which made me a bit nervous since I’ve never used it that full before and I’m still terrified it’s going to blow!! Lol! In the end they cooked perfectly in the suggested time and came out totally in tact.

My husband always says there are just some foods that no matter how good they taste, they just don’t make for pretty pictures. You know like when you see friends posting their meals on FB and you’re like ‘WTH is that and why are you sharing?’ πŸ˜‚πŸ€£This is definitely one of them. But I promise if you have the time to make them you will not be disappointed!

~Elena πŸ’–


How many books can you read in 2019? πŸ“š

I recently read a 2017 article about how much time we waste on social media and electronic devices, and how that translates in to how many books we can read in that amount of time each year. It’s really shocking if you think about it. Here’s the article.   

I’ve definitely done much better in the last 6-7 months. I’ve made sure to always try to remember to have a book with me wherever I go. This way if I’ve ever got time to waste it’s spent reading and not scrolling. I still get caught up from time to time….just a quick check of my email, see what’s happening on Facebook or Instagram and twenty minutes later I haven’t moved! I’ve made sure to log in to my library account weekly to add books I’m interested in to my queue and move others to my hold list. And when I finish a good one I’m itching to get in to another right away. But still after reading this article I’m up for a good challenge.

For 2019 I’m going to push myself and see how many books I can read. I didn’t keep track in 2018. And although I think I did pretty good some months reading 4/5 books especially in the summer, I can’t even give a good guesstimate because some months I definitely slacked off. This year I’m writing down every single book. I’ve already challenged Erin and my daughter Isabella, loser buys winner a book. As of today 1/8 I have started and completed one book, and just started my second yesterday.

Here’s a list of a few that are in my queue at the library so far:

  • Cottage By The Sea
  • Nine Perfect Strangers
  • Every Breath
  • Sleeping Beauties
  • The Rumor
  • Luckiest Girl Alive
  • The President’s Shadow
  • Our Souls at Night
  • An Anonymous Girl
  • Girls’ Night Out
  • The Third Wife
  • (and I always love recommendations)

Who’s in for a friendly competition? Write down every book that you start and complete for the year. Let’s see who can read the most!!! Winner gets a new book! it’s on…… πŸ“–πŸ†

~Elena πŸ’–


Instant Pot trials πŸ˜œ

I’m excited to say I’ve used the Instant Pot twice in the last 4 days with total success and plan on using it again tonight. Nothing has blown up and I haven’t been injured 🀣 #intimidatedbytheinstantpot

My youngest turned six last week and I always let the birthday boy or girl choose their birthday dinner if we plan to be home for the evening. Since it was a school night and the second day back after Christmas break, we figured we would stay home and do a ‘party day’ on the weekend. Her dinner of choice was homemade macaroni and cheese with pineapple upside down cupcakes for dessert. I had recently searched up some Instant Pot recipes and printed them out encouraging myself to use it more and one of the recipes was for macaroni and cheese. Even more perfect was that I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. Here’s the recipe. And I’m so disappointed I didn’t take a pic so you could see how creamy & cheesy, so you’ll just have to try it! I did change up the cheese and use Colby jack in place of Monterey but I think you could try all different types. Next time I want to throw in some lobster 😍 It was so good, the kids loved it and all three took the leftovers to school for lunch the following day in thermos’. My son who won’t eat boxed macaroni and cheese even loved it!

Then yesterday after spending the entire day out in the cold taking down Christmas decorations, I just wanted something super easy to make for dinner. So I opted for turkey hot dogs and searched for a quick potato recipe in the Instant Pot. Most of the recipes were either for mashed potatoes or required a steamer basket or some other accessory I don’t have yet. (I’m still scared of blowing the house up 😣so I haven’t invested in any accessories yet.) I found a bacon ranch potato recipe that seemed doable. https://www.busycooks.net/instant-pot-cheesy-bacon-ranch-potatoes/ I didn’t have red potatoes so brown it was , I also substituted turkey bacon and light ranch dressing. I’m still confused a bit by all the buttons and settings, but this recipe was easy to follow and didn’t require too much work. It was delicious, a keeper!

I’ve read a lot of posts about the Instant Pot and issues people have had, I’ve picked up a few tips here and there. First of all I store mine open which I think helps keep any odors at bay. I hand wash the entire thing, dry it thoroughly and store with the lid on top but upside down. I know parts are dishwasher safe and lots of people do it, but I think hand washing really keeps it like new. It also keeps the rubber seal from getting discolored or having any build up. After washing and drying I do notice my insert has some discoloration on the bottom. Somewhere I read about a product called Bar Keepers Friend and OMG it’s AMAZING! I put a few drops on a paper towel and wipe down the entire insert then rinse thoroughly & dry. It’s even shinier than when I first got it. No joke! Plus I’ve used that product for other pots and to polish my sink. I was in a crazy long line in Williams Sonoma before Christmas and saw it while standing there. I grabbed it for under $5 but you can probably get it anywhere, you won’t regret it!! Just look how shiny 😲

I’m thinking an Instant Pot dessert next, we’ll see!!

~ Elena πŸ’–


New Year=Fresh Bread πŸ₯–πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Over the weekend we put all of our indoor Christmas decorations away…I know we didn’t waste any time. But our real tree stopped taking water a few days before Christmas so by the 26th there were needles everywhere! We decided to take that down ASAP and one thing led to another. I start to feel really cluttered and overwhelmed after the holiday. I seriously cannot wait to put it all out and decorate Thanksgiving weekend, then Christmas happens and there is just crazy stuff everywhere. I get so claustrophobic and feel totally swamped by it all at that point. So when the new year hits I want a clean, fresh start and that begins with my house being in order.

Then I wasted no time and decided to redo my kitchen cabinets. I found 5 extra pot lids πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ, candy I hid from my kids sometime in the past year and various pans I felt it was time to retire. In doing so I realized I have a little tiny obsession with small appliances. I mean I knew I was a tad obsessed with shoes and handbags, but this really brought my appliance obsession to light. πŸ˜‚ And I have this theory that if I can go a certain amount of time without using something and not missing it at all, I can get rid of it. Which means I need to make use of all my small appliances ASAP! No time like the present!

When I was in college I remember returning from Christmas break and everyone was sharing what they had gotten for Christmas, I returned with a bread maker and was beyond excited!! Dork, right?? Since that was forever ago that bread maker is long gone. But a couple of years ago I got a new one and it’s really awesome! I can make French bread if we’re having pasta and I have no desire to run to the store, and we love cinnamon raisin for breakfast …so when I’m not lazy this appliance gets put to good use.

In my immediate attempt to make my bread maker useful, today I made some Sweet Honey White bread 🍞 I’m going to force myself to use it and some of the other appliances more often and to keep myself in check I’ll share how it’s going. Below is the recipe I used. I’ve used it at least a dozen times in the last few years. It doesn’t require any crazy ingredients, so I always have everything on hand and it’s perfect without any tweaking. I have added oats in the past and my kids still love it! We had it fresh out of the bread machine with dinner tonight. My kids love fresh bread for breakfast, sandwiches and even afternoon snacks, they get it from their mama!!#CarbLife 😜


~Elena πŸ’–