A Thanksgiving Wish: FeedONE

November 26, 2014   

Thanksgiving is a day away, and I can't help but reflect on all the amazing blessings in my life.  Though my life hasn't quite turned out the way I had planned, I have far more than I could have ever hoped or imagined.  The simple fact that I can get out of bed with my health intact, and a daughter that brightens up my life with her contagious smile is enough to be overwhelmed with gratitude.  Yet, the blessings don't stop there. I have the unconditional support of family and friends, a church that I can call home, and a job that provides financially for everything I need. I've got it good. No doubt about it. But not everyone is so lucky.   

Some time ago, I had the opportunity to learn about Feed ONE and how for 10 bucks, one child is fed for a month. I wasn't immediately sold. There are so many "sponsor a child" programs out there, I wasn't sure this was the one to which I wanted to hitch my wagon. But the more I learned, the more I thought. Then one day, I drove to my neighborhood Starbucks and realized how much I was spending on a regular basis.  $10 would last me about a week. And that's when it hit me. "I should do this! I will do this! I will be an example to my family. I will pay it forward-and not just by buying coffee for the woman behind me." It took me a few days, but I started to see this as an opportunity. I realized that feeding one would feed me too. Feeding one would feed my soul. And what a satisfying feeling that was. 

A program sponsored by Convoy of Hope, Feed ONE, allows me to feed one child for one month for $10. I'm looking for ways to do more. So I urge you to check it out. Be informed. If you can't (or won't) help here, find somewhere else to do something. Chances are if you are reading this blog, while drinking an overpriced latte, your reach is greater than you realize. With that being said, my Thanksgiving wish is that you consider all the blessings in your life and be the change you want to see in the world. This amazing program currently feeds over 146,000 children in 11 countries. However, there are over 100,000 children still on a waiting list. Find out how you can help spread Mother Teresa's message, "If you can't feed one hundred, then just feed one", at feedone.com

Holiday Fashion for Kids

November 24, 2014   
Procrastination. It's pretty safe to say that many of us have been guilty of it. I know I have. Unfortunately, more times than I'd like to admit. Luckily, things have always found a way to work themselves out, but not without it's fair share of stress. So, if you are one of the many moms who have been putting off deciding what your little one will wear this Thanksgiving, you have no need to worry. Here are some adorable pieces that are still available for the little blessings in your life. I've included a selection of items for kids of all ages. The best part is that these pieces will look amazing while keeping you within a reasonable budget! 


Dress with Doll's Dress, $34.95 (includes matching dress for your baby's baby)

Suit Vest, $24.95
Suit Pants, $24.95, Classic Blazer, $34.95
Cotton Shirt, $17.95

4-piece Set, $34.95

Thanksgiving Recipes with a Latina Twist

November 21, 2014   

Looking for a dish to take to your next Thanksgiving celebration? Here are some delicious recipes shared by the culinary genies in my life. They're classics with a Latina twist. They work perfect for me because I can't show up to Abuela's house with plain old Mac and Cheese, or stuffing. I've got to make sure my offerings go well with the "traditional" Thanksgiving sides like Yuca and Congri. You know, the staples of any good Hispanic meal.

Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing

1 pound fresh ground Mexican chorizo
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped 
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup chicken stock (low-sodium)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the chorizo, making sure to break it up like you would ground beef. Stir occasionally as it cooks, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and, carrot until the vegetables have browned, about another 10 minutes. Add the crumbled cornbread and cilantro and gradually pour in enough of the stock so that the stuffing is not too dry but at the same time not too wet. Stir gently to mix well.

Butter a small casserole dish. Spread the stuffing in an even layer. Bake until heated thoroughly and lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Serve right away, add cilantro to garnish.

Macarroni and Cheese Latin Style
Mac and cheese meets arroz con pollo.  Instead of rice, use creamy, cheesy pasta to complete this classic Thanksgiving dish with a Latin twist.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to grease the baking dish
1 cup panko bread crumbs
24 ounces sharp or extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 9 cups total)
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 1/4 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Stir in the panko breadcrumbs and heat until golden brown and toasty, then set aside. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the elbow macaroni, about 10-12 minutes. Drain the noodles, without rinsing, and return to the pot they were cooked in. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and use a flat-edged heat-safe rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. Scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Keep stirring until it starts to turn a light brown color, about 3 minutes. SLOWLY add the warm milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese in small bunches at a time and allow to melt, stirring continuously. Once melted, remove the sauce from heat and add the salt, and pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked elbow macaroni and gently stir to coat the noodles in the sauce. Sprinkle the toasted panko breadcrumbs over top of the entire dish. Serve right away

Guava Infused Cranberry Sauce

2 cans 14oz whole berry cranberry sauce
Juice of one lemon (zest optional)
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
11oz Jar of guava preserves

Empty jar of guava preserves into a small saucepan, break up and stir over medium heat until it becomes a smooth liquid mixture. Stir in cranberries and allow bring to a boil. Make sure to keep stirring so as to not allow the bottom of the pan to burn. Add a pinch of salt and stir in lemon juice. Lower heat after enough water from the mixture has evaporated and it becomes dense. Remove from heat and allow to cool then serve. Garnish with cinnamon or optional lemon zest.

Hope you enjoy these great recipes, and they become a part of your family traditions. I'd love to hear about some of your favorite dishes. 

WEAR IT FOR LESS: Nikki Reed's Moto Jacket

November 19, 2014   

One of my favorite must-have pieces of the season has to be the motorcycle jacket.  I love how it always pulls any outfit together.  From t-shirt and jeans, to a dress and booties, it simply looks amazing! The versatility is incomparable and looks chic at any age.  Not many jacket trends can say that. I love it so much that I own two of them!

Celebrities everywhere have also been spotted wearing their trusty motos.  Here is Nikki Reed pulling off the look with two-toned BLANKNYC jeans, a striped tee, an AllSaints leather moto jacket, and a She + Lo bag. I must admit, the way she paired up this edgy ensemble with those red Manolo Blahniks and red lips is perfection. It's the icing on the cake!  Here's how you can wear this look for less.

Stripped Tee, Forever 21, $8.99
Two-Toned Skinny Jeans, Forever 21, $16.99 
Textured Faux Leather Carryall, Forever, 21, $29.90
Red Suede Pointed Pumps, Lulu's, $23
Faux Leather Quilted Moto Jacket, Macys, $49.99 SALE  
Revlon Matte Lipstick, Really Red 006, Ulta Beauty, $7.99 (or local drugstore)


Social Interactions: Helping Your Little Wallflower Transition into a Butterfly

November 17, 2014   

Shy. Webster's dictionary defines the word as feeling nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people. What does it really mean to be shy though? While it is certainly interesting to read the literal definition, it's quite another to live with this label your entire life. I had grown to accept that label and it wasn't until recently that I realized the limitations I had been putting on myself with the excuse of being "shy".

I've felt socially awkward for as long as I can remember. However, over time, I've learned to push past it so that only those who know me well understand what I'm really feeling. Recently, I've begun to notice some of the trademark symptoms of shyness in my own daughter. Naturally, as parents we want our child to be the most social, confident, and well-rounded kid in the room and while I have plenty of time to help steer mine away from labeling herself as "shy", I can't help but be concerned. As a teacher, I see kids with varying levels of social interaction. From the social butterfly to the wall flower. Oddly enough, I find it easier to deal with shyness in my kids at school than with my own daughter at home. When she and I are at the park, I can't threaten the brat hogging the monkey bars with calling her mother if she doesn't play with my little girl (or any of the other thoughts crossing my mind). The level of self-confidence I want her to have is not gained over night but with years of love, patience, and encouragement. In time, I am confident that my little one will come into her own. As a Proverb in the Bible says, "For as a man thinks within himself, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7NASB). With that said, teaching kids the tools to believe in themselves and being positive role models are the greatest gifts we can pass on to them. 

Those tools, much like self-confidence, have to be learned. After speaking to other moms and researching the topic at hand, I found some helpful resources that offer ideas and strategies on how to encourage kids to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Here are just a few of the ones I found. You can start practicing these with your little one today. I know I have.

  • Encourage your child to be helpful; let him/her help sort the laundry or clear the table. Children who see themselves within a culture that cares about other people are more likely to have better social skills.
  • Set a good example by modeling the behavior you want your child to display. Parents should be polite, respectful and caring to each other if they want their children to act in this way.
  • Role play with your child possible social interactions.  Model how to introduce themselves and invite themselves or others to play.  As easy as "Hi... want to play?" 
  • Role model possible rejection and how to handle it.  If invitation to play is rejected move on to another child that may be interested.  Having your child approach a child that is playing alone is easier than children already in large groups.  
  • Be affectionate to your children -- even if it doesn't come natural to you. Children who are more open and affectionate are more likely to have friends.
  • Value his/her social skills. When your child is thoughtful or polite tell him/her how proud you are of them. Expect and value mutual respect and caring.
  • Reduce the level of competition between children- it only encourages the children to look for the bigger share. Give according to need.
  • Love uniquely. A child who knows he/she is loved for themselves finds it easier to share something of themselves with others. 

Keep in mind that this is a process and consistency is the key.  Don't be discouraged if you don't see an immediate change. In time, your child will begin to come out of their shell and most importantly, build self-confidence.  

I'd love to hear any strategies you have found affective with your little one.  Feel free to share your tricks of the trade below.