Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: National Dance Day!

July 30th is National Dance Day, so there's another excuse to get up and dance!

Happy Hour
Dancing Dana

1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 can Raspberry Twist vodka
1/2 can blue Curacao liqueur
1 can ice cubes

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. Add water to taste if needed
4. Pour blended drink into margarita glass
*You can rim a margarita glass with sugar, if you'd like

My name's not Dana, but this drink looked good. Plus, Dana wanted to dance :)

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Happy Friday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Manic Monday: Heat

Air conditioning is a gift. I don't know what I would do without it. So my previous comments about technology and simpler times? The one where I mentioned I don't know what I would do without my iphone? I have to add air conditioning to that list of things I wouldn't want to be without. It was H.O.T. But then, I don't think I'm sharing anything that anyone reading this wouldn't already know.

I enjoy Saturdays because it's the day the bf and I spend together. I like to do things outside- especially in the summertime. This weekend, I was hoping we would take the dog on a hike. Really looking forward to that and to possibly making it to the tennis courts for a game since we haven't played in a while.

We quickly amended our plans upon stepping outside. I grew up in Miami and for some reason, I couldn't remember it ever being that hot down there. The heat fried my brain because that can't be, can it?!

So we had the bright idea of going to see a matinee. It was such a good idea. So good, everyone else had the same thought: the movie was sold out. Ever adaptable, we decided to have a True Blood marathon instead and went home for Season 1. The bf never saw it and I won't pass up True Blood. So I made some white sangria (yum), he grilled a pizza (even yummier), and we enjoyed vampires in ac.

It was a great day.

Hopefully, we can go on that hike next weekend!

Happy Monday!

PS I haven't seen season 1 in a while. Eric looks soo much better now. xxoo

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: Ear Worms

At some point in time this week, the songs chosen for the dance party were stuck. In my head. On repeat. While I love most of them, having them playing over and over was getting old. So I elicited help from others to try and get the songs out of my head. You would think that friends being...well, friends...would help a girl out. Instead, they created an even uglier, meaner ear worm: Macarena. *shudder*

I hope you enjoy what's in my head (and gummy worms)!

Happy Hour Drink
Gummy Worm
1/2 oz mango vodka
1/2 oz raspberry vodka
1/2 oz blue curacao liquer
Splash of Sprite

Stir together and serve! 
Note: drink will be neon blue


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Manic Monday: Confessions

I have a confession to make and I hope you don't hold it against me. I love Pitbull. Yes, Mr. Worldwide. Maybe it's the fact that his songs and collaborations have a good beat. Or that every time I hear his Spanglish, it makes me smile and reminisce about growing up in Miami; makes me think of being surrounded by family and Cuban food. Yummy croquettas, media noches, pastelitos, and cortaditos. Mmmm... I'm not sure, but's out!

South Beach

And since I'm throwing that out there, I might as well add that I am fascinated by Russell Brand.

It feels good to come clean!

Happy Monday!

On the same page....

I love when Michele and I don't talk about what we're going to blog about, but then have such similar always makes me smile and love our friendship even more.

I too love Russell Brand, a secret I've been harbouring...I even like him in Bunny form (the movie "Hop"). 

And Croquettes!  Funny enough, my father-in-law gets a mystery subcription to "Latina" magazine so he gives me the issue whenever it arrives...and I'm such a magazine junkie that I totally look forward to reading it.  This weekend he brought the August 2011 issue and inside was a recipe for Potato Croquettes & Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder.  Just as Michele was reminiscing about our Miami upbringing this weekend, I was too as I read Latina.

Finally, I confess that Saturday night as we hung out at our friends house with all our kids (ages 2-10) all the adults, including myself, knew way too much about Selina Gomez & The Disney Channel.  I think we all watch The Wizards of Waverly Place more than we'd like to admit.

Enjoy your guilty pleasures this week!!!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: Obliviate

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are back (and Neville...have you seen Neville lately!?! W.O.W!) It's bittersweet because it's the end; still, I'm excited to reconnect with that world! So, what better way to honor the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 than creating a Happy Hour Dance Party!! :)

Happy Hour Drink
Gryffindor Shot

1/2 Cinnamon Aftershock
1/2 Goldschläger

1. First layer the Aftershock
2. Then layer the Goldschläger on top.
*It’s best if you shake the Goldschläger first so you can get some gold flakes.

via --check them out as they have shots for all the houses! I chose gryffindor because that is what the sorting hat told me I was! ;-)

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Extra Treat! (cuz I love Ron and this song by All Caps!)

PS The sorting hat at can tell you what house you belong in. Then you can check out the corresponding drink recipe at!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Manic Monday: Comfort

Last night my 2-year-old son woke up several times.  By the third time, he'd come into my room and I knew he didn't need anything - no milk, no diaper change, nothing like he usually does.  I scooted over in bed and pulled him under the covers beside me and within a minute or two he was sound asleep.  Just like that.

This may be typical for any other parents, but not for me.  Actually, it's been a year since my little one has slept beside me.  I can recall exactly when it was - on vacation, in an Orlando hotel...our first night there after a late check-in.  My then 1 1/2 year old was confused and upset so I finally got him to calm down and he fell asleep beside me.  The rest of the vacation he (thankfully) slept in the port-a-crib I had taken with us.

Last night it was comforting to feel his little body against mine, to hear his soft breathing, and to know he was just there. 

This weekend I found out two of my close relatives are sick, one is in critical care in the hospital and another is awaiting diagnosis for something I wouldn't wish upon anyone.  I've been thinking of them both non-stop all weekend.  I also read a great magazine article about survivors of the recent US tornadoes that tore through cities months ago, leaving shredded houses and destroyed lives in its wake.  The article featured several families that survived - a reminder of how precious life is, how unexpected life can be.

I didn't expect to find my son asleep beside me last night, but I relished it.  What a comfort to know that we both have each other today. 


Comfort can have so many different meanings for us which may not necessarily be the same. I find comfort in moments: snuggling on the couch with my bf and our dog, Hayley, as we find a movie we love playing (this weekend, it was Napoleon Dynamite!); hot chocolate at the end of the day; Bob telling me everything's gonna be alright; being behind a camera; making myself giggle; the silence around me on a secluded hike. What I find hard, though, is knowing how to comfort another when they need it. It's hard to find the right words to say--and this coming from someone who labors over her words compulsively!

This weekend, I found myself thinking about comfort during a family celebration for my bf's birthday. An unexpected dilemma occurred which resulted in the grown-ups discussing the news and me with the nieces chasing fireflies. I didn't want to overstep any boundaries and thought by keeping the kids occupied, the adults could discuss freely. Until my bf's mother sought me out and I was left scrambling for those words. I want everyone to be happy so seeing her cry made my search for the perfect comforting thing to say even more difficult. Bob came to mind without the same results he usually has on me. So I hugged her and told her that we were there for her and would all figure it out together. 

I wish there was some magic thing that one could do or say that would make everything alright and provide comfort as needed. I hope I had an effect on her and was able to at least let her know she wasn't alone. And that it provided her some solace.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: New York

There hasn't been a happy hour dance party in a couple of weeks and I apologize. Have been busy with vacation. (yes, busy!)

We were in New York last week and I have to admit that I would like to still be there. And on vacation.

Alas, I'm not. BUT it is FRIDAY!!

Happy Hour Drink

3/4 sweet vermouth
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 dash bitters
1 maraschino cherry
1 twist orange peel

Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 - 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass.
Stir gently and place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass.
Strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink (don't drop in glass).


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mr. Mom for a Week, written by Rudi, Elena's older brother

I have the three best nephews any uncle could ever wish for. Nitro (10), Ox (8), and L’il Eddie (2) are my boys and I love spending time with them.

So when my sister started talking several months ago about attending the RWA conference in New York this summer with my mom it was basically a no brainer for me that I would offer them my apartment and I would simply truck out to PA for a few days of fun with the boys, or “Dudes Week” as I called it.

My studio apartment is just a few minutes from the hotel where the conference was being held so it would save them a lot of money. Plus, my time in PA would basically be like any of my other trips out there, just fun time with the kids. The one point I was adamant about from the beginning was that I would help out but that I expected the father would be taking the days off as well so that I wouldn’t be babysitting all week. I was clear I wasn’t coming out to change diapers and make bottles.

For months we planned and Elena and I arranged everything. We would trade places from Monday night to Saturday afternoon. My week as “Mr. Mom” basically began the Saturday before as I needed to scrub my apartment from head to toe in preparation for my mother and sister both staying there. Weeks earlier Nitro and Ox both told me that I was “crazy” for allowing them to stay at my place. “They’re just going to snoop through all of your stuff.” I was warned, and that warning stayed with me as I cleaned. Two days of cleaning and one last day of work lead to me racing to the train to catch the ride to Philly, which wound up being my last moment of peace of quiet for the week.

Come the end of the day Monday Elena is settled into my place in NYC and I’m on a mattress on the floor in the room shared by Nitro and Ox listening to them joking about how I should be in the room with their dad sharing his bed since I was going to be their mom for the week (for an image of what that would have looked like picture the famous “Those aren’t pillows” scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles but with John Candy playing both parts!).

I forgot to mention two key things I discovered upon my arrival Monday night: 1) Elena had basically left a “to do” list waiting for me and 2) Dad didn’t take any time off from work. WTF?! So the fun “Dudes Week” was actually “Uncle is babysitting week” and now I have a list of things that include L’il Eddie’s tutor coming by in the morning and watering the neighbors stupid tomato plants while they’re away on vacation. Again, WTF?! I fell asleep Monday night wondering what just happened and terrified of the first diaper change Tuesday.

I’m not joking about that. I haven’t changed a diaper in years. It’s one of the pleasures of being an uncle, you just pass the kid off to the parent when it’s that time and there’s no guilt involved in doing so. The question running through my head was if Dad leaves the house at 8:00am and is back for lunch around noon can L’il Eddie hold out so uncle doesn’t need to change him? How often will I need to change him? Can he make it through the day on one diaper? Two? And what about the dreaded really dirty diaper (you know what I’m talking about), will I need to deal with that or will the gods favor me and the boy will save those for daddy? I was warned to not let him eat oranges so those went off the menu right away. I fell asleep with these thoughts in my head and woke with the diaper dilemma still marinating there.

We were all up late Monday night, so the boys slept in pretty late Tuesday morning and daddy was off to work before they woke. When L’il Eddie stumbled from his room Tuesday morning I knew I had to bite the bullet and deal with the diaper right away. In fact, we both kind of looked at each other nervously with that, “Sooooo, how’s this going to play out” kind of look.

I have to admit, I could tell he was as apprehensive about that first changing as I was and I do believe that helped get me through it. I had soldier through and put on a good confident face just to make him feel better about it. After fumbling with the first diaper for a few minutes I finally got him cleaned up, got his little Phillies shirt on him (he likes to have a say in the outfits he wears each day, and he liked a new outfit with each changing), and sent him out into the world (or rather the living room to watch his kiddie shows). I made him the first of what would be many milk “bobbles” and he settled into his usual morning routine. In fact, all three boys are quiet after waking so the mornings provided me a little time to check email and pretend to do work.

Tuesday was a dreary rainy day and we just played inside, a lot of Xbox with Nitro and just goofing around with Ox and L’il Eddie. Things were going great until the late afternoon when L’il Eddie handed me his diaper while I was getting clobbered in MLB 2011 by Nitro. I looked at him confused. “What’s this? What are you giving me?” I started to panic. Nitro just turned from the video game and casually said, “Oh yeah, he takes his diaper off sometimes when he needs to be changed.”


How could Nitro be so casual about it? What happens if it’s a really dirty one, does that come off too? All new levels of panic flowed over me. Why does no one tell me these things? I reached down and grabbed L’il Eddie’s butt to confirm what I already knew…yeup, he truly had removed his diaper and wasn’t wearing anything under his shorts. Quickly I tossed the video game controller, picked up the boy, and ran for the changing table before anything else happened. I was carrying a loaded bomb and it could go off at any second. I needed to get it contained fast.
This was basically the next two days. Walking the gauntlet of messes that needed cleaning, diapers changed, bobbles made, lunches made, dinners made, laundry done, floors swept, and garbage taken out. But it wasn’t just me and the three boys, they also have three cats, a bunny, some little cage with some sort of rodent thing in it, and a big old fish tank. So on top of the three kids there’s a Dr. Doolittle menagerie of critters in the house too…and I’m deathly allergic to cats. Have been my whole life. I take 2-3 Claritin a day when I’m out there (one is supposed to last 24 hours). I can’t sit on any of the plush furniture so I drag one of the wooden dinner table chairs around with me and I have to be ultra cautious of what it is I’m touching and that I don’t then touch my face. I’ve learned to deal with it over the years, but it’s not fun and at the end of the day when I just want a couch and some TV I’m SOL.

After Tuesday I got the hang of the diapers and L’il Eddie and I got into a groove with the changing, although Thursday he decided he was going to make up for being nice to me the first two days and basically had a stinky little present for me every hour on the hour. I won’t go into detail, but they got progressively worse and I think he was doing it just to have some fun with me.

My routine established, I tried my best to keep the boys on a normal schedule and to keep the house clean and tidy. But every day I’d be counting down until their dad got home and “the responsibility” was lifted from my shoulders. I think that’s what I was really the most nervous about and what weighed on me the most. For a large chunk of the day I was responsible for the well being of each of these boys. If anything happened to them, it was on me. It’s a weight I’m not used to carrying. Elena asked me one evening why we weren’t using the pool in the backyard and I hinted at this. I know nothing would have happened to them, but I was still worried that something could happen. And it was there all day, every day, so I tended to play it cautious.

For all my griping about the diapers and the chores the week wasn’t without a lot of fun as well. I got to spend some quality time with each of the boys doing simple little things they like to do, playing Xbox with Nitro, throwing the baseball with Ox, clowning around with L’il Eddie. We went out and cheered Nitro and Ox on as they played in their basketball league games, I took the two older boys to see Transformers, and we all went to a Reading Phils game on Friday night. I definitely got to do the “uncle” things with them I like to do.

But come Saturday, I was looking forward to just getting home. I arrived home, unpacked, and popped into my local dive bar for a few cold ones and some time around adults for an hour or so before eating a quick dinner and finally crashing. I think I was asleep around nine or ten that night and slept like a baby through to late Sunday morning. They wore me out.

I still have no idea how my sister does this. How does she maintain the house, keep the three kids in line, handle all the errands and running around, keep a social life, take care of her husband (and trust me, sometimes he’s the fourth kid) and do all this writing?  Maybe there’s a freedom and ease that comes with knowing they’re your kids? Yes, you’re still looking out for them but maybe you just learn that they’re kids and that things will happen and you just deal with it when it does and move on. That boulder of responsibility that I felt on my shoulders might just be a tiny little stone to them. I don’t know. What I do know is that I came home with a newly found level of respect for both my sister and parents out there in general.

I already look forward to my next visit with the boys. But playing Mr. Mom again? Not sure how soon I want that boulder back on my shoulders again.

Uncle Rudi

(Note from Elena, thank you, brother!!!)