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Posts tagged ‘top mommy blogger’

UltimateMama realizes the holidays are sneaking up on everyone so she wanted to give her recommendation on a quick and easy centerpiece idea for entertaining.  Pre-made, fresh, floral bouquets are an affordable and convenient way of sprucing up any table place setting.

UltimateMama loves to use fragrant flowers such as roses.  She always lets her children select the colors.  It is so easy to create a festive centerpiece as one just places the bouquet (or bouquets) in a vase and the table is ready for any party or event. For longer tables, UltimateMama is a fan of alternating the bouquet colors in beautiful crystal vases.

Since the fresh flowers in the bouquet arrangement usually last for a few days the bouquet vases are great addition to the table for all meals when one has overnight or weekend guests!

 

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 will admit that in the past her children were less than enthusiastic about eating a wide variety of fruit in the morning madness rush of breakfast.  After years of washing fruit and placing it into individual, colorful bowls on the breakfast table, UltimateMama realized that much of it was going to waste.  The children were only eating a strawberry here or a blueberry there.  Not exactly a healthy, well-balanced start to the day.

A thought occurred to her–the real trick to make eating fruit fun at any age is PRESENTATION!  UltimateMama realized that placing the already washed, cut, and prepared fruit into colorful, elegant glass trifle bowls created a fancy, holiday feel to the breakfast table.  UltimateMama’s children couldn’t stop smiling….and eating!

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 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 and her family have a constant flow of guests around the holidays and always keep 5 inexpensive wines (all under $25) on hand for the adults.  Here are 3 bottles of red and 2 bottles of white (or pink considering one is rose) that are perfect for entertaining or gifting:

1. Cantina Zaccagnini 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (red). You can spot it at any wine store as it is the wine with the stick attached to it! Around $18 but one can find it on sale for less. Product of Italy.

2. Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon Vintners Blend California 2015 (red). Amazing with brie cheese and table water crackers.  Around $9.99. Product of California.

3. 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (red).  Goes with anything from burgers to filet mignon to lobster rolls. Around $9.99 to $14.99. Product of Columbia Valley.

4. Whispering Angel Rose 2017 (rose).  UltimateMama’s favorite wine to gift all year long as well as a staple in her refrigerator.  Around $19.99. Product of France.

5. Domaine Serge Laloue Sancerre 2016 (white). This classy selection is always a crowd pleaser if your crowd prefers something white and light. Around $21.99. Product of France.

Over the weekend, UltimateMama and her two children had a nice one hour shopping trip to stock up on holiday goods and craft supplies at Michaels.  Killing time as it rained on Long Island was quite easy as UltimateMama challenged her family to come up with a gorgeous holiday tablescape that was pleasing for all ages and works for either a dining or side table.  Mission accomplished with the 70% off doorbuster promotions at Michaels. Best of all the total cost was under $25!  The breakdown:

Potted red poinsettia with gold foil (artificial): $6 (from $20)

Metallic garland: $3.60 (from $12)

Small champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $6 (from $20)

Large champagne tabletop sisal tree:  $7.50 (from $25)

Total cost:  $23.10

Happy Holidays!


 

 

Was it on our bucket list?  Of course!  So, UltimateMama and her family took a quick (relatively at under 5 1/2 hours from NYC) flight to Iceland.

Day 1

After landing, UltimateMama picked up the rental car and headed directly to the Blue Lagoon for an 8 AM spa appointment against the volcanic landscape.  One must book visits in advance.  UltimateMama and her family were treated to the “Comfort” package which included:  entrance fee, silica mud masks, use of towels, and one drink per person.  Remember to take your disposable/water cameras for some fun pictures!

Next, UltimateMama drove approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to start the Golden Circle Tour!

First stop was Thingvellir National Park to see the Everyman’s Gorge between 2 continents-America and Europe as well as the Law Rock.

Second stop after a 50-60 minute drive was to the Geysir Geothermal Field to see Strokker.  UltimateMama and her group grabbed some pizza and did some souvenir shopping at the visitor’s center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third stop was a 10 minute drive to Gullfoss Falls to see the breathtaking waterfall.

Next was a 50 minute drive (in the pouring rain/sleet) to the Kerid Crater.

Finally, after a 45 minute drive UltimateMama and her family made it to lodging at the Hotel Ranga which offers outdoor hot tubs, delicious cuisine, and fabulous Northern Lights displays (if one is lucky and we were)!

Day 2

The Lava Centre, which was only a 5 minute drive from the hotel, offered a glimpse at Iceland’s active volcanoes.

Next, a 15-20 drive to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall enabled us to be fully encircled by a fabulous wonder.

Don’t miss views of Eyjafjallojokull, a glacier volcano that caused panic to air travel in 2010.

After a 10 minute dive one will reach Skogafoss Waterfall and most likely see a rainbow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another 10-15 minute drive takes one to Solheimajokull Glacier which is easily accessible to all. UltimateMama and her family really enjoyed walking on/around it. Be careful!

One can’t miss the black sand beach of Reynisfjara on Iceland’s South Coast, next to a fishing village called Vik, which is only another 25-30 minute drive. The basalt stacks are extraordinary!

Day 3

A one hour tour of the Lava Tunnel is worth one’s time if one wants to see layers of volcanic eruption.

Ægissíðufoss waterfall is a majestic site and close to Hotel Ranga too!

Day 4

Spend the day in Reykjavik before heading to the airport for departure.


UltimateMama’s two little ones surprised her with a clever breakfast in bed funny face that put a smile on her face! Their secret ingredients:

-turkey bacon hair

-blueberry and strawberry eyes

-corn muffin nose

-scrambled egg mouth

Delicious and nutritious!