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52 Weeks, Week 21*

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

Chiara – Happy to finally be at the beach where she had fun carefully searching for shells and mole crabs. It’s an activity that she has loved as a child and continues to enjoy even at 11 years old. She was also thrilled to spend the long weekend with her dear friends where there was endless drawing sessions and Minecraft games during the limited time we spent indoors.




Ines – She’s had a hard time keeping up with the older kids this weekend. She still was able to hold her own and showed her independent streak here and there. In whatever negative situation she’s confronted with, she always managed to find a positive approach. Her relentlessness and stubbornness can drive me and the rest of the family insane but I know that these traits will take her far in life.



Hope you had a nice weekend!

*To minimize confusion, I am changing the week count to align with the calendar year. I started my weekly project late in the year so my weeks were not properly aligned with the calendar.

Holding On To Spring

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

We had a rather short spring season in the East Coast, with flowers reaching full bloom in a protracted time period. Temperatures only stayed mild, in the 60s, for a week or two, and then we’ve had days that were pretty much in the 70s and 80s everyday. As much as I am enjoying the warmer temps after an arctic winter, I wished our spring lasted just a bit longer.

The only remnants of flowers blooming that I saw recently are irises, which I saw plenty of when I went to the Presby Memorial Gardens in Montclair. For the next week or two, irises will be in full bloom, in a wide array of rainbow-like colors from lilac to near-black. Did you know that the Presby is the largest public iris garden in the US? It’s a local gem and worth a visit.

Have a great Memorial Day everyone!







52 Weeks, Week 11

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Family and friends | 2 comments

52 weeks, week 11, weekly snapshots of my girls in 2015

Chiara – She loves seeing little ones, especially cousins and children of dear friends. Here she is frolicking with them before Ines’ First Communion.



Ines – She had her First Communion on Saturday. She loved her dress and had fun swirling it around. I asked her if she wanted to take off her veil at her communion reception. She said no, loving every second of having a crown on her little head.



Hope you had a great weekend!

A Spaniard’s Easy Paella Recipe

Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Food | 0 comments

For the last five years or so, I have been meeting up with my French conversation group to practice French and talk about all sorts of stuff. The group is made up of one Californian, a Frenchwoman, a Spaniard, and me, the token Filipina. I’ve come to look forward to meeting with this woman regardless of how hectic my Tuesdays get. Throughout our meetings, we manage to have such lively conversations as we discuss topics that range from Governor Christie’s mishandling of different local issues to financial troubles plaguing the European Community. But from time to time, we do venture into fun topics, such as cooking and travel.

One of the fun things we did recently was get together for lunch to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The Spaniard in the group, who is an excellent cook, thought she’d give us an easy Paella 101 cooking session. Of course, we all jumped at the opportunity to learn from a “local (at least to the recipe)” who’s willing to share a tip or two on how to make the dish.

So here’s my Spanish friend’s easy paella recipe that I hope you’ll try:

Easy Paella Recipe
Serves 4-6 individuals


1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of mussels
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 red pepper, cut in 1/2 inch strips
3 garlic cloves
6 to 7 pieces of chicken tenderloins, cut in large cubes
1 cup of rice, Arroz de Calasparra recommended
1 teaspoon of canola oil
2 saffron sachets (about a handful)
1 rosemary branch
1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (small peas, carrots, corn, string beans)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 bowl of clams in shells
1/2 lb of prawns or large shrimps

1 – Cook the mussels the day before you’re to prepare the paella. Put enough water (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups) to cover the mussels. Add the bay leaf and sea salt. Boil the mussels until the shells open and the actual mussels are a little orange in color.  Discard the ones that remain closed. Keep about two cups of the mussels broth, which you’ll use for the paella dish. Drain the mussels. Take them out of shell when cool and refrigerate for use the following day.

2 – In a wok or a special paella cooking dish at medium-high heat, add the canola oil. Once warm, add garlic, red peppers and chicken tenderloins.

3 – Once the chicken starts to turn white or light brown, add rice and two cups of mussels’ broth made from the day before.

4 – Add saffron and rosemary. Make sure not to cut rosemary; it’s only used to enhance paella flavor.

5 – Add the mixed vegetables and chicken bouillon.

6 – Add clams and prawns or large shrimps.

7 – Let the dish cook at medium heat for about 25 minutes, until the broth is almost absorbed. Make sure to take out rosemary halfway through the 25-minute time period.

8 – Add mussels when water is almost absorbed.

9 – Turn off heat and cover the wok or cookware with a dish towel to let steam and moisture blend flavors together.

10 – Et voila, you have nice summery dish to enjoy!  Serve with a nice sangria or rosé.


Image via

paellaatseli What we made

52 Weeks, Week 10

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls in 2015

Chiara – She rarely shows a full smile like this one for photos, so I felt like I had to include this picture. She loves getting her hands in soil and dirt, usually when planting flowers in our backyard in the US on Mother’s Day and harvesting potatoes, beets and string beans in our garden in France over the summer.




Ines – Her allergies got a lot worse this week. Her eyes were so puffy during her last track meet that she had to leave it early. Always the fashionista, she decided on her own to camouflage her eyes with a pair of sunglasses that she got at a school concert this weekend. Rarely did we see her without her shades on when we ventured outside this weekend.




Hope you had a good weekend!