Back with My Pumpkin and Patching Up a Tradition

We’re officially in fall and October! It’s one of my favorite months to do activities with my family, especially my daughter. Last year, with the COVID restrictions, I broke tradition and headed to the nearest supermarket to pick out our Halloween pumpkins to decorate. Though we both were okay with this deviation from our usual monthly plans, knowing that we would be restoring our tradition and going to a pumpkin patch this year filled us with excitement. We were so happy to have my mom, Quinn’s Nana, accompany us as she’s done since Quinn was a toddler. This was just a another reminder of what we both missed last year to allow us to appreciate it even more this year.

For the past few years, we’ve gone to Shady Brook Farms and enjoyed ourselves, but we decided to try somewhere new, Kohler Farms. While they did not has as many activities, they were about a third of the cost. Also, it was still a fun experience as we enjoyed the sights on the hayride to the pumpkin patch, navigated our way through the corn maze and selected are precious pumpkins to decorate. Then with those savings, we dined at a nearby restaurant afterward and had some well-needed family togetherness.

Of course, I could’ve just stopped by a supermarket or Home Depot to pick up pumpkins again this year and maybe even had saved some money, but the family togetherness, smiles and happy moments with Quinn are totally worth it. Here’s to a great October building fun-filled memories with my family!

Best,

Tanya

An Extra Special Back to School Night!

As my husband and I entered our daughter’s third grade classroom with soft classical music playing, I was filled with joy, not only because her teacher reminds me so much of my third grade teacher but because this was the first time I was back in my daughter’s school, let alone classroom for over a year and a half!

Though Quinn did such a wonderful job adapting to virtual learning last year and never complained about not being in the classroom, when I read her “About Me” presentation that she put together for my husband and me, I came to the realization that she missed being in person more than I thought.

There’s something special about being in person. That interaction with classmates and the teacher is needed for most and allows them to thrive and socialize. Though knowing that the vaccine is not available for Quinn’s age group still makes me a bit nervous, I’m grateful that she was not robbed of another year of limited to know socialization with her classmates and teacher.

On top of that, she was selected as the student of the month for her classroom which makes me very proud. This truly is starting off to be a special “back to school” experience for my daughter and me as well.

All the best,

Tanya

Life is Like Skateboarding : A Lesson from My Daughter

As I quickly snapped a picture of my eighth year old before she started her skateboarding lesson, it occurred to me that life is a lot like skateboarding.

Some of us may be eager and even excited to embrace all that it offers, but others may be nervous about getting hurt or self conscious if they’re not as skilled to handle the skateboard as others may.

Even still, we kick and push through, learning to balance, to move faster, to take corners and hills. We learn special tricks along the way not to simply show off our skills, but to help us maneuver and get through “life.”

When I arrived a few minutes early to pick up Quinn, I observed her focusing and listening carefully to the instructor just as life often requires us to focus and learn from others. Now, if only I can get up the might to take an actual skateboarding lesson as my daughter hopes I will in the near future.

All the best,

Tanya

Family Togetherness: A Good Harvest & Great Meal

This past Wednesday, my friends invited my daughter and I to visit their community garden. This was such an exciting experience for Quinn because it was her first time at a garden growing vegetables and fruits in addition to plants and flowers. My mom had a garden when I was a little girl, and seeing Quinn happily harvest tomatoes, green peppers, egg plants and herbs as well has made me want to start a beginners garden for us to grown organic veggies and fruits together.

The fun didn’t stop there though. Quinn immediately wanted to wash the vegetables and begin looking up what we could make. Yesterday, my eight year old couldn’t wait to start cooking. She settled on eggplant parmigiana, and I decided to add a side dish with green peppers and tomatoes from the garden along cauliflower rice and broccoli topped with marinara sauce. Though she asked that I hand,ev the knife while cutting the eggplants, tomatoes and green peppers, she did an awesome job preparing the eggplants with the Italian breadcrumbs and arranging them on the baking sheet.

There’s something special about cooking together, but what’s going to make it extra special is growing and harvesting our own vegetables and fruit next year around this time then preparing a meal together with those fruits and veggies.

All the best,

Tanya

What’s “in” About Cooking Out? Family Togetherness

As the unofficial end of summer nears, we decided to have an intimate cookout with our family yesterday. Of course, spending time with family is always nice, especially with spending mor time than usual apart as a result of restrictions for over a year.

But what really made cooking out “in” this time around was the eagerness of my eight year old. Without hesitation, she went and grabbed her apron and insisted on helping prepare some of the food. She smiled at me and said, “Mommy, I love baking and cooking food with you. It’s so much fun.” Hearing her say this and want to help without me nudging her really made my day.

I snapped a few pictures of her in action, and she decided to snap a few of me as well. The icing on the cake is feeling like all hope is not lost with our future generation. While many kids of 2021 may not know how nor have interest in cooking, other than popping something in the microwave or air fryer, my Quinn will have baking and cooking skills.

All the best,

Tanya

Eight Is Great! Celebrating My Daughter’s Birthday

Eight is great! I’m not just saying that because it rhymes, is a nice round number, or that it’s a beautiful skating move, but because it’s a new year for my daughter who’s officially eight years old today! Though I’ve been keeping a blog and chronicling moments with Quinn since she was just one years old, I still can’t help but wonder where the time went. As a birthday surprise, I took her to the hair salon for the first time, and we even did a family photo shoot with my niece snapping some pictures.

I looked at her all dolled up with her hair down it be a clear that in just two more years, she’ll be in double digits!

I’m in no hurry for her to get there and am just embracing the kind-hearted, thoughtful and talented girl she is right now. Seven was heaven, but eight is absolutely great!

All the best,

Tanya

A Little Styling Goes a Long Way: Hair Salon Fun With My Daughter

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

“I love it! I absolutely love it!” My soon-to-be eight year old exclaimed as she looked at herself swaying her head from side to side. This truly made my day! For the past couple of years, Quinn has been dying to wear her hair straight, so I thought what better way to kick off her birthday by taking her to a hair salon to have it professionally styled. Then I thought, why stop there? Why don’t I treat myself too since it’s been years since I’ve been to a salon or even worn my hair straight. Plus, this was a wonderful opportunity for us to bond together.

As we pulled up to Muse Hair Studio and I revealed the surprise to Quinn, she could barely contain herself. She was excited to go through the entire process. She sat in the booster added to the salon chair like a pro, and I couldn’t be prouder as I looked at her and snapped a few pictures sitting in the adjacent salon chair. The stylist, Tracie, and her assistant were, in Quinn’s words, “Amazing!” They treated Quinn like a little lady and even made her feel special by taking before and after pictures. (I felt extra special too!)

I asked her what she liked about the experience, and she said, “Everything!” Getting her hair washed with a massage, sitting under the dryer with the deep conditioner, getting her hair blow dried, flat ironed and styled were all of her favorites. I enjoyed this experience so much and even observed a couple other pairs of mothers and daughters, older than Quinn, getting their hair done or making appointments to get their hair done too.

I didn’t realize how much I missed having my hair done professionally until yesterday. It reminded me that self-care and just relaxing and having someone take care of me is needed, and I want Quinn to feel special and to embrace feeling good and taking care of herself as well as she gets older.

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: 80s Theme PAC-Man Edition

Yesterday was our fourth “Sugar Rush” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece. Our theme was 80s, and upon my sister seeing our matching t-shirts, she knew that for the first time we both had the same idea: Pac-Man! Quinn initially picked Pac-Man because she’s familiar with the game and enjoys playing it even though it was out way before she was born. We went through a few different ideas, like a boom box radio, roller skates, Adidas and a cassette tape, but Pac-Man was our final decision.

This was a tricky one because we incorporated fondant, and this was our very first time using it. After watching plenty of Sugar Rush episodes, I decided that we could give it a try. Since fondant is an acquired taste, we made the ghost out of it and made the star of the cupcake, Pac-Man, out of lemon buttercream frosting. To make his both stand out, we thought about black frosting, but in knowing that it’s not our favorite, we got creative and used crushed Oreos to cover part of the lemon cupcake. We also had plenty of leftover black Sixlets from when we made puppy cupcakes, so we were able to use them for the eyes.

Though I can use a bit more practice with fondant, we both agreed that the cupcakes turned out better than we expected. Though my sister won’t be able to join us for a few months, we definitely look forward to continuing this fun activity in the future!

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: Baking Flower Cupcakes

Sugar Rush Zoom Family Edition

Yesterday was our third a “Sugar Rush” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece, and my seven year old and I are having a blast while honing our baking skills. She actually picked the theme of spring since it’s just a couple of weeks away, and after giving it some thought, we settled on flowers because they’re not only beautiful and fragrant, but they truly are a sign that spring has spring or is on its way.

This time around, we used a yellow cake recipe courtesy of my grandmother who shared it with me years prior to her passing away. This made them extra special. We just had to cut the recipe in half because was meant for a three layer cake. Our frosting was a simple vanilla buttercream, but for the first time, I ordered and used Russian piping tips to make our cupcakes look like beautiful flowers and the Wilton leaf tip to enhance it.

Though I can use a bit more practice with the new piping tips and am eager to see how creative we can get, our cupcakes were a delight to make, and they made us smile as we look forward to seeing blossoming flowers and the hope and new life that spring brings. We can’t wait to do this again in April!

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: Beach Theme Cupcakes

The beautiful, warm, sunny beach with the sand between our toes and the ocean beckoning us to come in to cool off is exactly where we’d love to be. But since that’s not an option right now, a “Sugar Rush Beach Theme” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece is a place my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed. This actually makes our third bake-off. The first was a carnival theme. We made cotton candy cupcakes. The second was an animal theme. We made cupcakes in the likeness of our adorable puppy Zack. With our beach theme, the inspiration was my wedding in the Dominican Republic and the picnic reception, which were nearly ten years ago. Though Quinn was just a twinkle in our eyes then, we hope to take her there one day. Also, the cupcake is a reminder of the wonderful time my sister and I had on that beautiful day at the beach.

Our cupcake is almost as refreshing as that magical day with a simplistic, moist vanilla cupcake, a frosting containing lemon zest tinted aqua to represent the ocean and topped with an edible sugar seashell displaying its beauty.

All the best,

Tanya