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Posts tagged ‘Kristen Duca’

UltimateMama always likes to have on hand the ingredients to make simple summertime small pita sandwiches to coordinate with a healthy yet easy lunch.  This summertime lunch takes only 10 minutes of preparation.  It is not only pleasing to the eye but also to the appetite.

Simple Summertime Small Pita Sandwiches recipe:

-Package of small whole wheat pitas

-Either honey maple turkey or honey maple ham thinly sliced (1 pound)

-Wisconsin cheddar cheese thinly sliced (1/2 pound)

-Mesclun or Boston lettuce

-Hummus and/or honey mustard

Slice all the small pitas open (leave one edge in tact for easy handling or “grab and go”).  Spread hummus or honey mustard on the tops of the pitas. Add the meat, cheese, and lettuce. Serve!

 

 

 

 

 

All natural tortilla chips with fresh salsa as well as vegetables with ranch dressing or Greek yogurt dip accompany the sandwiches nicely!


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UltimateMama and her family recently spent 4 days and 3 nights in Berlin, Germany and organized a great family friendly itinerary.  The details:

– Stay at the Berlin Marriott Hotel near Potsdamer Platz (Inge-Beisheim-Platz 1 Berlin) as it is centrally located and offers an extensive, affordable buffet breakfast option when you book in advance. Plus, it has an indoor pool! If you want luxury the Ritz-Carlton Berlin hotel is a stone throw’s away

– See the Watchtower at nearby Potsdamer Platz

– Dine at Café LebensArt Berlin which is a short walk from the Marriott (UltimateMama suggests it for lunch)

 

 

 

 

 

– Walk through some of the 300 stores at the Mall of Berlin if shopping is your passion

– Stroll to Brandenburg Gate which is Berlin’s top landmark and represents a united Germany, post Cold War when it sat between East and West Berlin.  Tiergarten Park is nearby if you need a quick rest amongst greenery (additionally, visit the Berlin Zoo if you have time)

– Walk to the Topographie des Terrors museum which was the former headquarters of the SS during World War II

– Spend time at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

– Go over to see Checkpoint Charlie, which the Western Allies called the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

– Hit the Pergamom Museum on museum island (or another of the many museums in that area)

– Head to the middle of Berlin to see the Berlin Wall Memorial which is quite expansive as well as educational

– Spend a Sunday afternoon at the Flea Market at Mauerpark.  UltimateMama’s family loved the freshly pressed juices

-Visit the Reichstag (Parliament building) which has been destroyed by arson, bombed, and reconstructed with a glass dome.  A tip to get a tour of the impressive dome is to book dinner at Kafer but be sure to make reservations in advance as you will most likely need to bring passports

 

 

 

 

 

– Travel over to the East Side Gallery which was UltimateMama’s favorite part of the trip as it represents an open air monument of murals to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Context Travel offers an amazing Berlin Wall for Kids tour for families that also includes a trip to the TV Tower where UltimateMama’s children enjoyed the 360 degree views and Bubble Bar’s bubble tea nearby


 

 

 

 

 


 

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UltimateMama recently surprised her children with heart shaped omelets for breakfast with her new Norpro nonstick pancake/egg rings. The result you ask? Nothing short of utter amazement with lots of laughs from her kids. Worth it! Whether you are celebrating the start/end of the school year, birthdays, summer camp send off, academic/athletic achievements, holidays, or really anything, your child will love starting the day with egg (or pancake) hearts for breakfast!

 

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Finding Childcare in Summer Months

By Kristen J. Duca

06-26-19 June 2019 NY Family Finding Childcare in Summer Months article by Kristen

With summer right around the corner, it is not too early to think about childcare alternatives, especially considering your busy life doesn’t end with the school year.

Nannies and sitters need breaks too, but parent need not fret. Sometimes a little vacation is good for all – the family appreciates the childcare provider more, and the provider realizes her strong bond with the family.  Work, social obligations, and activities never stop, so when your child’s caretaker needs a well-deserved break from your family, you need to be prepared with arranging back up childcare.

Respect your childcare provider and let her know far in advance (if possible) when you will be on vacation or taking a day off and do not need her to work. Ask her to give you the same courtesy of advance notice regarding the days she needs off. Remember, you and your childcare provider are a team, and if backup child care is necessary, you need to be prepared.

Some families work with their childcare providers to coordinate vacation schedules, so either limited, or no backup, childcare is needed. Of course, this may be ideal, but not practical in every situation.

Your first thoughts may be “nobody is around” in the summer months, but take a step back, breathe, and tap into your network (that which you have been building since your child was born).

There are myriad childcare options in the summer months for your family to ponder together.   These examples below are creative solutions to your summertime childcare needs that will enable your family to continue your routine in a safe, efficient, and seamless manner without disruption.

1 Family members. You may not have wanted to hit up grandma or grandpa or your child’s favorite aunt during the school year, but summertime is a great season to reach out for extra help from those who share your genes. Keep in mind that is it okay to ask family members for help with your child.  But be aware of what assistance you are asking for, and make sure it is reasonable. If a family member does not feel comfortable accepting monetary compensation from you, then find another way to express your gratitude – possibly with gift cards, event tickets, restaurant certificates, and so on.

2 School teachers. Many are looking for extra cash during the summer months and are more than happy to see your children outside the formal classroom setting. Your child will beam when their beloved teacher enters your home.  Many times school teachers have flexible summer schedules that enable them to be “on call” for families when babysitting requests arise.

3 Camp counselors. These workers who are typically high school or college aged may be able to help with your child during pre-camp drop-off and post-camp pick-up hours. Parents usually structure the time a camp counselor spends with their child by suggesting or putting out a few different play-based activities or projects for them to work on together. Most formal camp programs have already vetted the counselors who work with the children, but it doesn’t hurt to further check into their credentials, training, and backgrounds, before you reach out to them as possible caretakers for your child.

4 Nannies of friends. Take advantage of your friends who leave town in the summer months by offering their nannies an opportunity to make additional money by working extra hours with your family. Be clear upfront about what you expect the nanny to accomplish each day with your child, as it may vary from what your friend has them do.  Typically, a nanny’s responsibilities may include assisting your child with feeding or grooming, as well as transporting them to classes, parties, day camps, social functions, and appointments.

Just remember, thinking about your summertime childcare needs starts with you, and it is never too early to plan for your family. A multitude of summertime childcare possibilities exist for you to consider.  You are in the driver’s seat and can choose the path that best fits your family’s needs and remain sane in the process.

Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls in New York City. She has worked in the financial services industry for more than two decades. Duca is the author of “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com.  She blogs at ultimatemama.com.

New York Family magazine June 2019 (published)

06-26-19 June 2019 NY Family Finding Childcare in Summer Months article by Kristen

https://www.nyparenting.com/assets/print/queens/2019_06_qf.pdf

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UltimateMama and her girls enjoy hosting friends for brunch or dinner parties throughout the year.  Some of these events are “fancy parties” with many guests so UltimateMama organizes seating charts as well as creates beautiful tablescapes with festive and fun placemats, runners, mis-matched china, and elegant water goblets.

UltimateMama finds a great way to use deeply discounted gift tags purchased during January post-holiday clearance sales is to turn them into name cards for place settings.  Just take a colored Sharpie (gold is a favorite) or a calligraphy pen and write your guest’s name on the front of the name tag and place it above their dinner plate or on a folded napkin on their dinner place.  You can leave the inside blank or write a quick note thanking them for their attendance. Elegant and efficient!

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UltimateMama and her family are heading to Cleveland and Detroit this Easter weekend so the Easter Bunny will visit Michigan.  As usual, UltimateMama will be packing only two carry on suitcases for her family of four so the Easter basket contents must be compact.  In an attempt not to overdue it on the chocolate or candy front, UltimateMama spent the past few months buying a variety of fun items and accessories for her tween girls. They will be thrilled to see these “treats” in their Easter baskets on Sunday morning.  Contents include:

Lindt Chocolate Carrots (4 pack so 2 for each girl purchased at CVS on the Upper East Side for around $4.99)

Glossier’s new Mango Balm Dotcom flavor as well as Glossier’s Mint Balm Dotcom flavor (purchased in Soho – New York City for around $12 each)

Brandy Melville hair scrunchies (purchased in Soho – New York City for $3 each)

LeSportsac ID card case with key ring (purchased in Honolulu, Hawaii for between $15-$20 each)

Essie nail polish which UltimateMama can’t wait to borrow (purchased at CVS on the Upper East Side for around $8 each)

Lanikai body mist and lotion set (purchased in Honolulu, Hawaii for under $10 per set)

Oh K! Caviar face mask (purchased at Twist in Southampton, New York for $8 each)

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UltimateMama loves to set aside reading time each evening with her girls. Whether it is 10 minutes or 1 hour it is nice for everyone to gather on the couch with their own book for some reading, rest, and relaxation before bedtime.  A few of UltimateMama’s favorite book series for girls who are 10, 11, 12, and 13 years old as follows:

Ava and Pip is book one in a clever series by Carol Weston

The Lemonade War is book one in an entrepreneurial series by Jacqueline Davies

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer is book one in the fantastic Land of Stories series

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainaini is book one in a fairy tale journey series

The Selection by Kiera Cass is book one in a fairy tale series for older, middle school girls (more mature content so be advised)

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass is book one in the Willow Falls series

It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder is book one in her cupcake series

Upside Down Magic is book one in a series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

11 Before 12 by Lisa Greenwald is book one in her friendship list series

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordon is book one in the Percy Jackson series

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is book one in a trilogy for older kids due to mature content that includes violence

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UltimateMama believes it is never to early to start shopping for books for Mother’s Day and has a few suggestions to alleviate the stress of your search for the perfect gift!  These books below will please mothers of all ages. UltimateMama also encourages everyone to check out Reece Witherspoon’s Book Club at Hello Sunshine for some amazing reads, including a few that UltimateMama discovered too!

Ultimate Nanny: How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire — Your Child’s Nanny by Kristen Duca which is available on Amazon.com now

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is an exciting political novel that one won’t want to put down

Rules of Civility also by Amor Towles is an interesting account of New York City social life in post-Depression Manhattan

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal tells a tale of Indian immigrants in West London

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman depicts a quirky loner who develops an unexpected friendship in Scotland

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is Book One of the Neopolitan Novels about the struggles faced growing up in post war Naples, Italy

Mila 18 by Leon Uris tells of bravery and determination during the Warsaw ghetto uprising

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is about the paths of a blind French girl and German boy in Nazi occupied France during World War II

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah moves readers with the stories of two very different sisters involving betrayal, resistance, and survival in war torn France during World War II

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber is a thriller about the reopening of a murder case by an eager investigative reporter who has a hot podcast that impacts families in a Midwestern United States town

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys which is sometimes found in the Young Adult section of bookstores (but is for mature audiences due to content and subject matter) tells of the courage of 4 interlocking characters from different homelands trying to survive and get aboard a ship to freedom in World War II

Ties by Domenico Starnone is a translated Italian novel which fans of Elena Ferrante will appreciate

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry is a fun, witty novel about a wife and mother who tries to balance it all while working on Wall Street in 2008

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UltimateMama loves quick and easy dinner choices for kids on busy nights. Rather than ordering take out or grabbing fast food, UltimateMama prefers to do a little pre-planning at the beginning of the week to ensure the appropriate groceries are purchased and ready in a pinch!

UltimateMama’s girls are big fans of grilled sourdough cheese sandwiches with pre-made tomato basil soup.  An ideal meal for any time of year.  For an extra protein kick just add ham or honey turkey to the sandwiches.  Add some carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers or tomatoes, and red grapes to complete your quick and easy meal. All you need is the following:

-Sourdough bread (Bread Alone for example)

-Medium cheddar cheese (buy pre-sliced for convenience)

-Butter (for stovetop grilling)

-Your favorite soup (like Tomato Basil)

 

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UltimateMama and her kids took advantage of the after holiday sales and purchased Christmas stockings at 75% off and decorated them with Tulip Soft Fabric Paint as well as Tulip Dimensional Fabric Paint which can be found 365 days a year.  If painting isn’t really your thing always grab a stencil and make fun trees, snowmen, angels, or even Santa Claus himself. Crayola Fabric Markers can be used to add the finishing touches.  These fun creations are inexpensive and pleasing to the eye and will last you forever…or until next year when your child wants to make a new one!


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