dad’s birthday

candles

Last weekend was probably the busiest since Juliette was born! Friday night, Bob and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early with a delicious dinner at DeStefano’s. I can’t say it enough: they are simply the best. The food and service are always always always on point. They could probably screw up my order and spill a drink on me and I’d still think, Nope they’re still the best! Needless to say, we left stuffed and happy. The next night, we went out for a friend’s birthday at Virage, now known as Bar Virage. For whatever reason, they rebranded and changed their menu and we were so not impressed. Virage was an old favorite and a restaurant we frequented many years ago, but they rid their menu of all their best dishes (R.I.P. spinach fettucine and bacon-wrapped figs!) and now it just seems…less special. I was disappointed with the food, although there is something to be said for accommodating service. We had a fun time with our fun group, which ended with a few rounds of beers at McSorley’s. I haven’t hung out like that in a long time, so the next day I was extra tired and achy (read: a little hungover). But we still made it out for an early birthday dinner for my dad, however exhausted we felt. We were a smaller group without my brother and his kids, but it worked out just as well. It was low-key and perfect.

We started with dinner and dessert at an Italian restaurant.

bros burrata jules and grandma

dessert

Mason’s beautiful birthday card to Dad. In left to right order: Jules, Jax, Mase and Dad!

bday card dad and mase

tre

Then, we came back to the house for a second dessert – birthday cake! This year, mom baked it.

cake

Jules had a teeny tiny taste of frosting.

jules has cake

Her silly cousins love her and it is just the cutest!

jules and mase

Tequila down the hatch!

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Spoiler alert: dad hates tequila.

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Oh and check out my total mom fail…

jules

Didn’t even realize that her dress came with briefs. They were still attached to the dress with the plastic tags! Insert facepalm meme here.

christmas day 2015

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This year, Christmas was extra special for us because it was Juliette’s first Christmas. That morning, we put on some classics and tore into Santa’s gifts. As expected, she really took to the actual tearing of her gifts, more than the playing of her gifts. It was super cute, but I can’t wait for more Christmases where she’ll be more aware. I remember feeling like this was the most magical time as a kid. Of course, what child doesn’t love this holiday? But I had my little December traditions: watch Charlie Brown Christmas specials a few times, The Grinch etc. I’m so excited for when I can introduce Juliette to some of my favorite movies. I fully intend for her to love The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story. I think this might be one of the best parts of parenthood—imposing your ideals on your kids, haha 😉

jules and grandpa

Watching the train run around the tree with Grandpa.

unwrapping

We got so caught up in Juliette’s unwrapping of  gifts that Bob and I almost forgot to exchange with eachother. How times have changed.dirty bib

Juliette’s dirty bib.

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Later on in the day, we packed up the car and headed to out Jersey to spend a few days with my folks. It felt like a little mini vacation because we partied and had lots of homemade coquito (like egg nog, but way better…and Puerto Rican) and then relaxed while my mom did awesome things like make us breakfast and sleep with the baby so that we could have a couple of nights of uninterrupted zzz’s. It was heaven!

tequilamike

ladies

Coquito in red solo cups, as we do.

Every year, I love my dad’s little Christmas village more and more. He likes to add a few new things to it and I have such fun pointing out what’s new and who’s going where. I told him next year, I might help him set it up so we can tell some new stories with the characters. I think it could be really fun (and tedious).

dinner tablesaladbeans

Can you believe 2016 is almost here? I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it because it’s an overused sentiment, but boy did this year fly by. I remember being pregnant in the beginning of the year and thinking, this year is going by soooo sloooow, I just want this baby to be here already. And then boom, once she came, it was like the clock sped up and suddenly she was 6 months old and we were feeding her solids already. Either way, I know 2016 will be another momentous year for us. It will be such a joy to watch this little girl turn one this summer. We may start looking for a house again towards the end of the year. And who knows? We may even take a small vacation? The year has many possibilities!jax and trethe boys

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How was your holiday? Wonderfully merry, I hope!

janey and tre’s brooklyn wedding

finallyA long time ago, I promised to post some pictures from my sister Janey’s wedding. I know you guys were holding your breaths for this 😉 so here they are. She finally sent me the pro pics the other day and they were just to die for. I’m really excited to share them with you.

downtown bk group 2To be quite honest, there were many many more pictures I wanted to show here, but I had to edit myself and only include my favorites. Here we go:

downton bk groupThe wedding party met up at a boutique hotel in downtown Brooklyn (the room had a  hammock!) and then drove to the couple’s old neighborhood for some nostalgia and picture-taking. The ceremony and reception were at Deity, a gorgeous wedding hall in Boerum Hill.

fixing the bowtie

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The guys looking sharp

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…and they totally know it.

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The bride and groom looking lovely and so in love.janey tre 1

family

The ceremony was held in the loft, which was all red brick, twinkle lights and glossy wooden floors. It was just beautiful.

down the aisle 3

down the aisle 4
maid of honor

holding hands

tre family and friends

the ring

groom sisters

My dad giving a funny speech at dinner. I really had no idea he was quite the public speaker!
dad laughing magie

My nephew Mase tearin’ up the dance floor. He just gets better and better with age.

mason

Someone get this kid on So You Think You Can Dance! (Side note: I reeeeeally didn’t care for the pointless Stage vs. Street theme this year. Discuss?).mason2

We were all so fortunate to be part of this big moment in Janey and Tre’s awesome love story (and if you ever met them, then it’s guaranteed —those two will be your favorite fun-loving couple).

janey’s bridal shower

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In recent years, my sister’s favorite place to celebrate her birthday has been at Pane E Vino. It’s this Italian restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, where the back patio is covered by glass, so you get the effect of eating outside in the sunshine without any of those pesky outdoor elements like chilly wind or bugs. It’s gorgeous. Also, it was at Pane E Vino, around this time last year, that she announced a date for the wedding. So it was only fitting that her shower be held at a favorite and meaningful place. I’d say she was pretty pleased with the choice.

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If the shower was any indication as to how the wedding will be, then it will probably be a super fun and lively wedding. I actually texted Bob mid-shower, “We are probably the rowdiest bridal shower brunch this place has ever seen!”

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We even had a few curious onlookers join us for a dance.

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janey and magieribbon hattable

dad’s early birthday

blowing out the candles

This Wednesday is my dad’s birthday, so my brother, sister and I thought it’d be a nice idea to visit him at home last Saturday. It was low-key, relaxed and fun.

I’d originally volunteered to pick up the cake but there weren’t many options that appealed. Am I the only ones that finds birthday cakes to be too generic? They’re all the same to me – too sweet, too much whipped frosting and sub par filling. I decided to bake one from scratch instead and I’m glad I did. It was almost as easy as a Betty Crocker mix. This is the recipe I used and the results were very good. It makes a delicious vanilla cake that’s not overly sweet (I used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup less than the recipe). It’s moist and slightly more dense than your average bakery cake. I also turned it into a sheet cake since rectangular pans were all my mom had.

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Raise your hand if you’re awesome at making cake!

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Dad showing me his Latin-meets-Irish-style corned beef (he uses sofrito and sazon to season the beef – it’s goooood). And yes, he made it for his own birthday party. But he loves to cook and wouldn’t have it any other way, trust me on this one.

corned beefchopping

But Janey assisted by picking out the rice for him and she did a fabulous job! So at least there was that.
picking rice

And, of course let’s not forget the cake that was made by yours truly. I think I’ve mentioned that like umpteen times in this post. #humble
cake

cutting the cake

Afterwards we went down to the basement, which is basically my dad’s nightclub. He’s got hundreds of LPs and music equipment and loves it when you spend time down there. Show an interest in his toys and you’re in his heart forever. So we all spent some time in his favorite place, while he recorded all of us on his iPhone. He weirdly likes to put the camera right up in your face, so it makes for some entertaining and hilarious results.

janey and the boys

My nephew Miles dug being in the basement too and excitedly roamed his vast library of vinyls, but luckily he didn’t touch anything because GOD FORBID YOU TOUCH THE RECORDS.

recordsHe looks so adorably mischievous though!

christmas 2014

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Happy New Year! It is a happy one, isn’t it? I’m definitely feeling 2015. But that’s probably because I came into the new year newly ENGAGED. Yes! On Christmas Eve morning, while still in my pjs and sitting on the couch, Bob asked me if I wanted to open up one of my gifts early. Of course I said yes and unwrapped a large handmade scrapbook. On the first page, was the most heart-meltingly beautiful letter I’ve ever read. Tear-inducing! And when I looked up, there was Bob sitting next to me and holding up the most gorgeous ring. Needless to say, I happily and excitedly accepted his proposal. People often ask me if I knew it was coming and I always say no way. Sure, we’ve discussed marriage for years but I always assumed a proposal would come sometime in the far-off future. It was always one of those things that I knew would happen eventually, but when the time actually came, I was completely caught off-guard! I love this guy, I really do. I’m sure that goes without saying, but sometimes you just need to put it out there. He truly is my favorite person.

Can you tell I’m still floating in the clouds?

tree and ring

Anyway, onto the Christmas day festivities. You know the story by now: tons of food, laughs, kids impatiently waiting to open their gifts and few rousing rounds of my new favorite party game Heads Up. Christmas was extra special this year for many reasons, but one being that I had a really great time giving gifts to the family this year. I carefully thought about each person I’d be giving to and shopping early really afforded me that.  I love getting the ol’, “this is exactly what I wanted/needed!” It’s just a good feeling to know you’re making someone’s day. I’ll have to make note of this for years to come: Start thinking about Christmas gifts in October. Earlier if possible!

the boys

sis and sis in lawmilesme and bobdinner2dinner

bob, tre and janeyheads up

tiny village

I’d declared early on in 2014 that it would be the year of new things and that was completely accurate. I experienced cool things like helicoptor rides, a Color Run and kayaking in the Hudson. I started writing my thoughts in a journal, which has helped me clear the clutter in my mind. I started looking for my first home purchase (and we’re thisclose to getting it!). I reconnected with some family that I’d been out of touch with for a few years. I improved my eating habits, thus improving my health and mood.  I got enagaged!

So…2015! Like I said, it’s going to be a good one. I’m actually really excited about it, more excited than I’ve been for any other year. I have a few major things coming up, but I’ll fill you in on all that later. For now, I hope all of your holiday celebrations were full of happiness and good memories!

two days of turkey

dinner

What’s better than Thanksgiving?

TWO Thanksgivings, of course.

Also, Christmas! Christmas is my FAVORITE of all. But Thanksgiving, you come in second and that ain’t half bad.

me, janey and victoria

This year, turkey day started out on a low point when we discovered mold in our coat closet. So we packed up our coats into a bag and hauled our load to Bob’s grandmother’s house to do laundry (womp, womp). Good news is we were going there anyway, so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. Now the super is talking about knocking down our closet to see if there’s a burst pipe causing the moisture. Ugh. First off, why is there a pipe in our closet? Second, get me out of this apartment already.

Anyway. We had a lovely 5-course meal, which I completely forgot to photograph. So no pics of that. But trust me, it was yummy. We chatted for a few hours around the table until I felt lethargic and made my way over to the couch with my jeans unbuttoned. I was basically a Thanksgiving cliche. It was wonderful.

bob sleeping

Bob after dinner.

The next day, we had a Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving at my parents’ place. It was a lot of fun. My aunt and cousins showed up which doesn’t happen often, so it was great to see some fresh faces in the mix.

cousins

Sisters in the middle, brothers at the ends. To be clear, not our brothers but our cousins.

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My dad had a ginormous spread of food: turkey with gravy, sweet potato souffle, fresh cranberry sauce, meat stuffing, avocados, salad, arroz con gandules and pasteles. Needless to say, it was difficult to move afterward. We all felt like stuffed turkeys.

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Mason doing the robot, plus some aggressive krump moves that he’s super into these days.

mason doing the robot

Then, my cousin’s girlfriend’s adorable daughter Victoria sang a few renditions of Let It Go. She gets so into it!

victoria singing

And finally, the pair joined forces to dance to some hip hop. They’re the cutest.

dancers

This was a riveting game of Heads Up, which is pretty much the best party game ever. If you haven’t played it yet, you need break it out at your next shindig. It’s guaranteed fun when you play with a few people. We couldn’t stop laughing at ourselves. Think: Charades meets Taboo.

heads upI have no idea what we were acting out here. ↑

Last week as a whole was a really good one. The work week was short, we had two great Thanksgivings and I managed to shop for half the people on my list without spending tons of money and without stepping foot in an actual store. I’m actually pretty impressed with myself and have decided that I shall do ALL of my Christmas shopping online this year. Bob’s mother reminded me of this website she’s been using called Ebates which I HIGHLY recommend for anyone doing their holiday shopping online. In short, you make back a percentage of cash whenever you log in to the site and then click and shop in stores like Target, Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, etc.  I’ve already made back about $6, although the check doesn’t arrive until Feb 2015 (I believe the checks are distributed quarterly, but don’t quote me on that!). Six bucks is small, but it’s something! I’ve still got more shopping to do so I expect to bring that number up a bit. So yes, Ebates! If you’re interested in joining (no catch, it’s completely free to join), then sign up through this referral link here. Full disclosure, I get cash back for anyone who signs up via my link. It’s up to you. Happy shopping peeps!

How was your turkey (tofurkey?) day?

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