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Posts tagged ‘top mommy blog’

UltimateMama believes an easy way to spruce up boring cupcakes is to pipe frosting in a creative pattern and place a decorative cupcake pick on top.  Cupcake picks (which are basically toothpicks with clever themes or messages on top) can be found in many grocery, party, or craft stores and are an inexpensive way to jazz up cupcakes for any occasion! A pack of 36 costs under $5 and if you have leftovers you can use them for appetizers too.

UltimateMama and her girls can’t resist thinking back to their trip to Spain a few years ago and longing for the excitement of Barcelona.  Since flying to Europe was out of the question last weekend, UltimateMama decided to do the next best thing–make paella with her girls for Friday night dinner. Using a brilliant Matiz paella rice recipe, the girls made an out of this world seafood paella! The one catch–make sure you have saffron on hand–expensive but worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matiz Seafood Paella recipe:

Heat 8 cups of fish or chicken broth with 1 teaspoon of saffron (we used a bit more) in a pot.  In a separate (very) large pan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1-2 medium sized diced onions to the oil and fry until translucent (6 minutes, approximately). Add 1 chopped red bell pepper and 1 chopped orange-yellow bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 16 oz diced artichokes (canned), 28 oz diced tomatoes (canned), and 4 cloves of diced garlic — simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour in 4 cups of Matiz Paella rice and stir until the rice is fully covered with the sofrito tomato mixture.

Carefully add the broth to the paella. Gently move the rice mixture around until evenly distributed. Do not “stir” the rice after this part.

After 10 minutes place your fresh seafood (white fish, uncooked shrimp without the shells, mussels, clams, etc.) into the mixture one by one and evenly distribute the seafood. After about 10 minutes add piquillo pepper to garnish and add color. In another 15 minutes or so the water should be completely absorbed and you can remove from heat. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. You can serve it directly from the pan (add wedges of lemon or lime if you want to impress).

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!


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!

 

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

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

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

UltimateMama had the honor of attending the opening of Chaos Theory Presents Flashpoint:  An Intersection of History, Perseverance, and Joy curated by Joyce Varvatos with Alexandra Hayden. The powerfully visual show is at 112 Hampton Road in Sag Harbor, New York from July 28 until September 2, 2018. Integrating pieces from various artists in different disciplines the exhibit features works by Francesca DiMattio, Friends with You, Dan Life, Susan Tepper, Do Ho Suh, Raul de Nieves, Kim Hyung Dae, Zeus, Lucy Winton, Friends with You/Daniel Jacobs collaboration, Ouattera Watts, Derrick Adams, and Leo Villareal.

The show blends the idea that chaos and order are not always opposed. The end result is a remarkable mix of the two that all will enjoy. Bravo ladies!

UltimateMama’s girls had a brilliant idea for a recent casual get together with friends – make, bake, decorate, and serve cupcakes for all to enjoy!  Inspired by whimsical Lilly Pulitzer dresses, the girls used the Domino Buttercream Frosting recipe (found on the Domino Confectioners Sugar box) and food coloring to create beautiful pink and green frosting.  The girls loved experimenting with a piping bag and Russian piping tips to create stunning designs.

In a rush?  No sweat.  Betty Crocker makes easy to use decorating cake icing in a variety of fun “party” colors as well.

UltimateMama was recently treated to a delightful, decadent afternoon lunch at KDHamptons founder Kelli Delaney and Dr. Mark Kot’s beautiful Water Mill home, Maple Shade.  The radiant hostess gave me a tour of this home’s his (Mark’s) and hers (Kelli’s) expansive gardens which include grand silver maple trees and the most elegant hydrangeas on the East End of Long Island.  Kelli and Mark’s ultimate summer garden is accentuated by a drizzle of blue and white pillows, vases, and urns surrounding their outdoor furniture which makes for a dazzling, sophisticated, yet comfortable atmosphere.

Mark’s garden:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelli’s Garden: