2013

2013 you flashed by in a New York minute…and in a “New York minute everything can change” -the Eagles

I have no complaints. It was a year to remember, an intense year made of hard work, big changes, laughter, tears, lots of love and a little luck. I have flash backs of magical moments that I wish I could hold on to forever. But time moves too fast. Comfort comes in knowing that while memories fade, they are not lost. Instead they become a part of us.

My plan for 2014 is to accept and learn from all of the choices I made over the last 365 days so that I can ensure 2014 will kick 2013’s ass.

Most of my personal goals and resolutions for 2014 will remain private, but here are a few I’m willing to share.

I WILL PULL FAMILY AND FRIENDS CLOSER. I will continue to tell those I care about how much I care and why. I WILL ALLOW MYSELF TO FALL ASLEEP CUDDLING MY LITTLES. I will host a dinner party at least once a month. I WILL SAY “YES” MORE AND “NO” LESS TO MY KIDS. AT WORK I WILL DO THE OPPOSITE. I will dance more. I WILL SLEEP MORE AND DRINK…A LITTLE LESS. I will read more and use exclamation points less!!!! I WILL STAY PRESENT, LISTEN TO MY CHILDREN, ENCOURAGE THEM TO BE BRAVE AND TO LIVE OUTLOUD. I will lead by example.

But most of all….I will remain GRATEFUL.

2013- A YEAR TO REMEMBER:

  • We said goodbye to diapers. Enough said.
  • After two LONG years Randy completed his MBA at Columbia and I got my partner back.
  • We took our first vacation without the kiddos. It was an exhausting and rewarding trip to Machu Picchu, Peru. We learned that 5 days is too long to be away from the littles and that Randy doesn’t do well with booze and high altitudes.
  • We sold our apartment and bought our home. A home that will be filled with family, friends, food and fun for years to come.
  • Without a single tear our fearless daughter started kindergarten and our brave boy started preschool.
  • We kissed stingrays and danced with dolphins on our best family vacation to the Cayman Islands.
  • It was a year of firsts…cutting down Christmas trees, making snowmen, building fires in a home built for the Burkholder-Vetrini clan.

Cheers to more change and more growth in 2014!

 

 

 

 

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High-Tech Beauty Gift Guide

With just 12 days left til Christmas I rounded up my favorite HI-TECH BEAUTY DEVICES! I’ve tested them all!  Pick one up for the Beauty Junkie in you life now and thank me later.

Mally 17pc Gel Nail System- Skip the nail salon and give yourself your very own long lasting gel manicure. Can last up to 3 weeks. Gorgeous colors. LED lamp, prep and cleaner included. Price: $136.50 Availability: MallyBeauty.com

Clarisonic Pedi System- Clarisonic has done it again! The system is specifically designed using sonic technology to transform feet, soften and hydrate rough, dry heels and toes. It delivers 10 times smoother feet than manual buffing. Price: $199  Availability: Clarisonic.com

BIOBLISS Wrinkle Recovery Kit-The BIOBLISS Anti-Wrinkle Patch System uses a gentle, sensation-free, Micro-Current Technology to deeply infuse the skin with powerful wrinkle-fighting ingredients. BIOBLISS patches are pain-free, hands-free and bridge the gap between traditional serums and beauty devices. Price: $228 Availability: www.Neimanmarcus.com

Hair Removal Laser PRECISION- The biggest breakthrough in the smallest packaging, Tria Laser Precision is a slim and ergonomic wonder designed for your smaller sensitive areas. Tria Laser Precision’s lightweight flexibility lets you easily remove unwanted hair from the bikini line, underarms, lip and face (cheekbones down)-with permanent results. It features the same diode laser technology used by professionals. Use once every other week for three months. Price: $299 vs In-office price of about $1000 just for the underarms Availability: Triabeauty.com

Luster Pro Light- Pro Light features an easy three-step whitening process that whitens two-times faster than strips or trays and offers visibly whiter teeth in a s little as 30 minutes. Developed by dentists, its patented light-activated technology offers similar results as dentist-office whitening treatments, but without the hassle, expense or painful sensitivity. Price: $43.99 Availability: Most major US retailers including Wal-Mart, Kmart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, and Albertson’s

Temptu Airbrush System- Airbrushed perfection isn’t just for celebrities. This is  revolutionary AIRbrush Makeup System brings you flawless, camera-ready makeup results at home. Fast and easy to use, our breakthrough technology is the everyday beauty secret made for you! Price: $149 Availability: http://temptu.com/airbrush-system/flawless-complexion-kit.html

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Things…

I remember the day I found out I was having a baby girl. For the first time in my life, I felt pure joy. A daughter. My daughter.

Then it hit me. The maternal responsibility. I had an obligation to raise a strong, intelligent, kind and thoughtful girl. Over the course of 9 months, I made so many promises to the tiny peanut growing inside me. As Joslin’s 5th birthday rapidly approaches I reflect on 15 things I have learned and hope to teach her.

  1. Laugh out loud. Often.
  2. Dance whenever, wherever and however the music moves you.
  3. Sing out loud even if you don’t know all the words.
  4. Love. LOVE BIG. Go all in. Expect to get what you give. If you don’t, walk away fast.
  5. When you heart is broken, get up, get dressed-up and go out. Movement heals everything.
  6. Dream big, really BIG and take risks. If you are anything like your parents, you won’t be able to escape this one.
  7. Smile devilishly at those who tell you, “You won’t succeed.” You know the truth.
  8. Surround yourself with strong, confident women who don’t pretend that everything is perfect…it never will be.
  9. When you cry you are not weak…it is braver to allow yourself to feel than to pretend you don’t at all.
  10. Stay present. Soak up the little pleasures in life. Tiny, seemingly insignificant pleasures add up to a lifetime of happiness. This one is harder than it sounds.
  11. There is nothing you can’t do. Tell yourself this often and it will be true.
  12. As your Nonna always say, “Life is only complicated if you make it.”
  13. You deserve nothing unless you’ve earned it. Occasionally you’ll get something for nothing, but you won’t feel good about it. 
  14. Every night before you go to bed, kiss the ones you love and take a moment to say “thank you” out loud.
  15. Call your mother (me) at least once a day.

 

 

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TV with a Splash of Tequila

I just rolled off of a commercial shoot filmed in Seattle with a cowboy of sorts-a celebrity chef by the name of Tim Love (yes Love is his god given name). Now I’ve never been to Texas nor have I ever spent a considerable amount of time with a Texan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from our 3 day shoot. I’m a New York gal…maybe that would rub him the wrong way. 10hours a day for 3 days is a LONG time to spend with anyone. I’m just sayin.

Aside from our dispute over how to say the word “orange” and “coupon” (ok maybe it’s not an “are-unge”, but it’s most definitely not a “cuepon”), we got along just fine and the entire production team had a blast..largely because Tim Love wouldn’t have it any other way.

The “master of meat” taught me a ton about grilling and when to use rubs versus sauces. I also learned that if you spend enough time with chef Tim Love you will quickly fall in love with tequila. So for that reason this blog post is dedicated to tequila. Here’s how it went down.

At our first team dinner I tried to order a light beer and I was served a margarita. That same night I was introduced to chichicapa. Do you know what that is? I didn’t. It’s mezcal. Do you know what’s the difference between mezcal and tequila? I didn’t. The New York Times describes it as “Tequila’s Smoky, Spicy Cousin.” Tim poured a bit into his margarita, we all followed his lead.

New York Times Article-Mezcal Tequila’s Smoky, Spicy Cousin

At our second client dinner I was introduced to La Paloma. It’s as sexy as it sounds. I prefer it with fresh grapefruit juice rather than grapefruit soda, but that’s just me. Try if for yourself and tell me what you think.

La Paloma Recipe:

At our 3rd client dinner we headed to Tom Douglas’s newest resto- Tanakasan. I ordered the sake slushy. Big mistake. I should have stuck to the plan. Food at Tanakasan is kick ass, just skip the slushy it’s way too sweet.

We finished the shoot ahead of schedule and toasted with with straight up tequila. Clients, production team, talent…we were all in.

It’s been a few weeks since I left Seattle and I’ve had fun experimenting with a few new tequila cocktails. Here are a few to inspire you.

10 Perfect Tequila Cocktails

If you are in NYC here are a few ways to celebrate Tequila!

Celebrate Tequila in NYC

And finally my all time favorite margarita is called “Porque No.” The “Porque No” (Why Not) is on the menu at Empellon Taqueria  my favorite NYC Mexican resto. I’ve tried to recreate it at home. Try it and tell me what you think.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 1 serrano peppers
  • 1 bundle of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup tequila blanco
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
  • ice

1. Add about 6 sprigs of cilantro and 3 slivers of a serrano pepper to a shaker. Muddle the serrano pepper and the cilantro

2. Add ice, tequila, pineapple juice  to shaker.

3. Cover and shake.

4. Pour over into an ice filled and salt rimmed glass. Enjoy!

Hurry up and enjoy your tequila while you can. Summer is almost over. Unless of course you are from Texas.

 

 

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Our First Home

Our First Home

332, Apt 2 we have so outgrown you. The accessories of a full life well lived fill each corner of this small home.

If the walls could talk they’d tell stories of sleepless nights. Temper tantrums from young and old. Of anxious parents trying so hard not to fail. Of a husband and wife discovering day by day the demands of their new title. Mom. Dad. Learning slowly how to become one team. Parents.

 I can hear the laughter in each object I pack into these cardboard boxes. I tightly seal the simple pleasures that I will take to our new home.

 If only we could take our friends with us. Likeminded parents, friends, inadvertent teachers who I’ll miss terribly. I have learned something from each of you.

To my Hoboken moms who held my hand as I fumbled my way through those first few parenting years when I was half asleep, confused and vulnerable…I will miss you most. There were tears. There was wine. There were lots of laughs over lots of wine. Thank you for listening and never judging.

 332, Apt 2… who knew we could fill such a small space with so many big memories and so much love. Goodbye Hoboken. I know I will look back at this place and think,”Those were some of the best years of my life.”

Links to our super silly and very amateur home videos:

Father’s Day Video 2010 

Home Video *note this 2nd home video was thrown together quickly for a work project so it is very mom centric and very poorly edited

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Happy Anniversary Love

On July 28, 2006 I read the following vows to my husband. Seven years later and I still mean every word. Happy anniversary Love.

MY PROMISE TO YOU

Randy, we’ve known each other for nearly 7 years and in those seven years you’ve been there for me through some tough times.

When I was on the verge of public embarrassment…when people questioned my character you simply said, “Let them see the Ereka I know.” With those words I knew I could show them. When I lost everything I owned, it was you and only you that could put a smile on my face.

I’ve found a best friend. Someone who constantly challenges me, is always encouraging and always supportive of my choices…no matter what crazy situation I’ve gotten myself into. I’ve found a friend who makes me feel so loved and who always makes me laugh.

It is your fearless confidence, your energy, your enthusiasm, your desire to constantly learn and experience the world that makes me love you more everyday.  I love you for all of this. I love you for the man you are now and the father I know you will be.

I promise to be a supportive wife through good times and in bad, to encourage you to grow and challenge yourself while reminding you how special you are just the way you are. With me, you will never need to be more than exactly who you are today.

I understand that marriage is a commitment, that we will grow and change both as individuals and as a couple and that there may be hard times, but I also know that my life is and always will be better with you in it. Together we will find the strength to face any  challenge that comes our way.

In front of our family and friends I promise you that I will be a loving and faithful wife. I promise to appreciate every moment of the life we will share together….it will be our adventure.

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Avocado and Goat Cheese Dip

 

Dips are a great way to trick your kids…I mean introduce your kids to new foods. This particular dip is a big hit with adults and kiddos of any age. It also works well on top of baked chicken….specifically overcooked chicken that needs rescuing.

Avocado and Goat Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

1 ripe avocado

4 oz of goat cheese (room temperature)

1 tsp salt

½ tblsp olive oil

Recipe:

  • Chop cherry tomatoes in quarters and toss into a bowl. Add olive oil and ½ tsp of salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • Mash the avocado until creamy. Add ½ tsp of salt to avocado. Mix well and set aside.
  • Mash goat cheese in separate dish and set aside.
  • In a sturdy glass (see picture above) or mug begin to layer the mixtures. First add the tomatoes, then the goat cheese, then the avocado.
  • Cover the top of the glass with plastic wrap and keep in frig until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, flip the glass upside down and place on top of a large flat serving plate. Let the dip sit for 10 minutes and then gently lift the glass.
  • Surround dip with your favorite chips and ENJOY!

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Eat 5 Colors A Day!

A heaping plate of white food makes me so sad. Mac and cheese with french fries. A bagel and cream cheese. Pasta with butter and parmigiano cheese. Pierogies with sour cream (my husband’s go-to dish for the kiddos when I’m gone).  Bring on the red, orange, yellow, blue and even green to brighten up your kids plate and palate.

Since my lovely children came into this world and started weaning off the boob juice, I’ve been on a mission to introduce them to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains. When my daughter says, “more quinoa please” or “can I have an avocado and toast sandwich for lunch?” I feel like a SUPERMOM….which is a rare and treasured moment. It’s been a long road, but I can finally say my kids are “good eaters.” By good eaters I mean they eat 5 colors almost every day.

Today I had an appointment with my nutritionist Willow Jarosh from C&J Nutrition. She keeps me healthy, happy and balanced. Today Willow had a present for me, something she snagged from Healthy Kids Concepts. It was a check list for my 4 year old (click on the link below for a printable copy)

EAT 5 COLORS A DAY CHECKLIST

True to her nature, Joslin took the task of eating 5 colors a day very seriously. We started the morning with a parfait layered with banana, blueberries, yogurt and granola….YELLOW and BLUE…Check! Check! She insisted on bringing her checklist to camp, gobbled up her strawberries mixed with mint and drizzled with honey (I totally stole this from Melissa Lanz of Fresh 20). RED and GREEN…Check! Check! Dinner was breaded and baked chicken with a quinoa and broccoli “risotto”. Extra credit GREEN check! It was time for dessert and what did my little overachiever ask for? An orange. Unfortunately we didn’t have any…so she got a double chocolate chip cookie instead. Job well done Joslin!

 

I know not every child is as excited about fruits and veggies or as competitive as my eldest. My son is a perfect example. At two and a half he’s in the “I don’t wannit phase.” Turning on Sophia the First (what can I say he has a big sister) and sneaking bits of broccoli into his mouth while he’s hypnotized by pretty little girls in in pink dresses no longer works. So we’ve turned to the next best thing….smoothies. We experiment with smoothies of every color. Click on the link below to check out the recipes Willow sent me.

Smoothie Recipes

My own personal favorite is a mixture of spinach, frozen banana, pear, almond milk, honey and ice. GREEN is delish!

Have fun experimenting!

Best,

Ereka

 

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All Sunscreens Are Not Created Equal

Every summer morning as I slather my children with sun block they wince and moan, “That feels yucky mommy. My eyes burn.” Still I persist for the good of their skin. They will thank me 30 years from now. My mom, who is an amazing Nonna (grandma in Italian), to this day thinks a tan on a child is ADORABLE.  She likes them plump and bronze. It was a different time. Now we know better. Or do we? I often wonder if the chemicals in certain sunscreens and the aerosol cans used to dispense them are worse than the sun’s ultraviolet rays?

After doing a bit of research, which included polling all my mommy friends and reading several semi-useful articles, I learned about the controversial ingredient oxybenzone. I still felt like I needed more info. How about the chemicals used in aerosol cans? What is the best SPF for my little ones? Could someone just break it down for me?

Then as luck would have it I shared a shuttle bus from the Sheraton in Frazer, PA to QVC headquarters in West Chester, PA with a woman who had all the answers. Holly E. Thaggard is the badass mom from Texas who started Supergoop! In her words, it’s not what your sunscreen has, but what it doesn’t have that makes the difference.

Supergoop! is paraben, fragrance and oxbenzone free. Plus it has 35% less alcohol, is super moisturizing and fast absorbing so your littles won’t look like little kabuki dancers (I have nothing against Kabuki artists and do respect it as an artform)

 

I asked her to explain what I should look for in a sunscreen and Holly personally sent me this awesome diagram that illustrates exactly what to avoid when choosing a sunscreen for you and your little ones.

 

Hope this helps!!

FYI: I have not been paid by Supergoop! I just really think the entire line rocks.

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Sweet Potato Spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano

Sweet Potato Spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano (Serves Four)

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato

1 medium zucchini

1 cup of frozen peas

1 vidalia onion

1 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano

1 tblsp of butter

2 tblsp spoon of olive oil

3 tblsp of fresh parsley (torn)

½ tsp salt

Recipe:

  1. Spiralize the sweet potato, zucchini and onion. If you don’t own a spiralizer, you can julienne the vegetables with a mandolin slicer.
  2. Add butter and olive oil to a large sauté pan.
  3. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sweet potato, zucchini spaghetti and peas.
  5. Add ½ tsp of salt.
  6. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Turn off flame.
  8. Add ¾ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (or 4oz of goat cheese) and toss.
  9. Spoon spaghetti into large serving bowls and top with remaining parmigiano reggiano and torn fresh parsley.

Note:

*Goat cheese can easily be substituted for the parmigiano reggiano

*Top with Grilled Chicken, Grilled Salmon or Grilled Shrimp for added protein

 

 

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