Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Curb Your Wanderlust & #trytheworld from home!



image courtesy of: trytheworld.com

“People who love to eat
are always the best people.”
~ Julia Child

Oh, how I do love surprises. Don’t you???
My intrinsic passion for food & adventure had most certainly been piqued when my Marrakesh box arrived.


Like a treasure hunter looking for gold, I joyfully sifted through a heap of colorful confetti so as to unearth this delectable plethora of exotic fare.

Images of Sira Quiroga flooded my mind, walking down the open market streets of Morocco (as her alter ego Aris Agoriuq, of course), weaving through a labyrinth of snake charmers & textile merchants, contemplating over mounds of fragrant colorful spices while the scent of mint tea mingled with incense hangs heavy in the air.
                      
image courts of formulatv.com

What??? You haven’t read “The Time In Between” by Maria Duenas, or seen the adapted for television series (also known as “El Tiempo Entre Costuras”), the intriguing espionage story set against the backdrop of Spain & Morocco in the 1930’s/40’s about a young woman who used her talents and moxie to rise above calamity & became a prominent couture designer amongst the highest echelons of society, AS WELL AS an undercover agent for the Allies during WWII, sewing secret messages into the seams of high fashion garments? Le sigh. Add that to your list Bellas.

Anywhoooooo......


A culinary plan began to emerge as I unpacked and examined each mouth watering treat. It was time to play.  

Included in my box was:

A package of Dari Organic Whole Wheat Couscous, definitely a Moroccan staple. Easy peasy to prepare.

A bottle of Dip & Scoop culinary argan oil, handmade by Berber women in Southwestern Morocco (fair trade). It’s nutty buttery taste was delicious, great for using as dip for flatbread, or to top off salads, veggies or fish.

Tajini couscous sauce. This sauce was bomb diggy. After sauteeing my veggies in argan oil, salt & garlic, I tossed them with the couscous sauce. Delish.

Villa Jerada Kefta Rub. Awesomeness in a jar. A blend of spices including cumin, morita pepper, mint, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon, & paprika…this is what I used to spice up the Lamb Meatballs. 

Orientines biscuits, "Croquants a l’Ecorce d’Orange” - a tasty sweet little cookie with zing that would pair delightfully with some mint tea.

And finally, Titus sardines in oil. My husband is all over this one…he declared a “sardine & crackers” party to be in order quite soon, and although I am not a sardine lover, I shall oblige. An opportune time to step out of my comfort zone, wouldn’t you agree Sweet Bellas?

Also included, was a card with an itemized list of the aforementioned & a culture guide filled with movies, music, recipes and insight to the customs, lifestyle, heritage and traditions of Marrakesh. Cool Beans.

So, what tasty concoction did I whip up? 

Kefta Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Moroccan Style Vegetables & Couscous. A side of toasted Tandoori Naan & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus to accompany. The end result: hadshi bneen (This is delicious!)!!! And I must say, the experience curbed my wanderlust…for the evening ;)


You know how very much I enjoy tasting the beauty of life and sharing it with you Sweet Bellas, and so, if you have a penchant for adventure and intrepid taste buds, but seem to be a little short on funds to book a trip out yonder, give #trytheworld a whirl.

Visit them at www.trytheworld.com ~ Peeps like CNN, HuffPost, ABCNews, Travel & Leisure, FoxNews, Wall Street Journal & NBC are singing their praises.

Plus, they have a great promo going on, subscribe for 2, 6 or 12 months, and get a Paris box free - Oui Oui !! Free Shipping. Free Returns. Pause or Cancel anytime, no hassles. You also can purchase a one time gift for a foodie lover, or purchase a subscription as a gift. 

So many options….life is delicious….Mangia!!!!

What about you? Try any great new subscriptions lately?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Juxtaposition...

love the silence,
just before a kiss
between lovers lips.
The stillness of his body,
entwined with mine.
Children in bed.
A house at rest.
Oversaturation,
coming to an end.  

HATE the silence,
after harsh words
between lovers lips.
Waiting.
Waiting. Waiting. 
W
   a
      i
         t
           i
              n
                  g.
Standing over a freshly dug grave.
A suffocating moment.
The doctor's results.
The call that never comes.
A rapist's breath,
before he unzips.
Somewhere, a cold, steel blade,
is touching someone's wrist.

love the silence.
Mornings on the porch.
Sunlight on my face.
Thoughts trickle
from reservoirs deep.
A crisp, blank page.
Daydreaming.
Quiet contemplation.
Submerged in prayer.
A holy moment.
A deep exhale.

The sky is gray and gloomy,
silver raindrops drizzling ever so gently.
The silence was truly golden this morning,
but sometimes it's not...
sometimes it's deafening, isn't it?
Just pondering the juxtaposition of it all.

Somewhere out there, 
someone is soaking in the silence...
Somewhere out there, 
someone is drowning in it.
Maybe it's you.
If you're feeling overwhelmed this morning,
I'd love to pray for you.
Shoot me an email at mangiabella@live.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Something Worth Celebrating...


Our youngest son has officially mastered potty training,
and can go through the night with no accidents.
It appears we have officially retired the diapers 
FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRR.
*arms raised to the heavens ~ chorus of hallelujahs rising in the air*

This is a bittersweet milestone, of course.
Another season passing by.
It marks the end of an era, really.

I could tell you, with some kind of perverse pat on the back,
that, in so many words, it means I’ve “survived.”

You know, survived the baby phase.
A bazillion diaper changes.
The toddler years.
The TEETHING.
oh Lord, the teething.


But, all I’d REALLY be saying,
is that I survived MYSELF.

My own nature.
My selfish tendencies.
My impatience.
My ideologies.
My temperament.
My way.
And above all, my fears.

My children have exposed my flaws,
uncovered my weaknesses,
and revealed my fallibility with pinpoint precision.

Of course, this has been absolutely vital in 
inspiring personal growth & necessary change.

And so, I suppose, at the end of the day,
that IS something worth celebrating ;)

Can you relate?
Funny how our children 
become some of our greatest teachers, 
isn’t it?

I believe that children's “formative years” 
parallel parent's “transformative years,”
and soul ripening is a beautiful thing.
  
What about you? 
Have you had to get over yourself recently?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Discovery...

I could hear them coming.
“Sleestacking”across the living room with their stuffy noses.
*for all of you “Land of the Lost” fans out there*
Our two sons, dragging their blankets,
were making their way to the side of our bed.
They slept so much later than we expected! Yesss!!

“Haaaappy Morning!!!!” 
our oldest son beamed, grinning ear to ear.
They climbed into bed and giggled and snuggled 
and summoned us to make breakfast.
“I huuuungry, so so huuuungry,” says our youngest, 
while rubbing his belly, and batting puppy dog eyes.
My husband smiled as he squeezed them saying,
"Pretty soon WE'LL be dragging THEM out of bed.”

Yes, in the blink of an eye, 
they’ll morph from toddlers to teenagers, 
and it’ll be US urging THEM to get up, 
as they desperately hold on to their pillows 
murmuring “my preciousssss.” 

Our daughter has graduated from baths to showers.
*although she still loves her luxury baths with bubbles, just like her mama*
She picks out her clothes for school, 
and lays them out with matching hair accessories.
She helps around the house, and with her brothers…
and when I reach to help her with something,
she holds her hand up and declares, “no, no…I've got this mom."

But it wasn’t long ago, when she was our little freshie, just home from the hospital,
and we’d burn hours staring at her in the bouncer. And when I say hours, I mean houuuuurs.
Just staring. Wondering what we ever did with our time before her arrival.

And, as most new parents, we’d think about how to do things “just right.”
But, soon thereafter, you come to learn 
that there is no such thing as “perfection”when it comes to parenting.
Just a beautifully gritty & complex, ever-changing journey 
of discovery and learning. Much like life itself.

I’m not the same person I was yesterday, and neither are my children.
Every day we are transforming. Growing. Together.
I’m learning how to be gracious with myself, and my children,
as I’m teaching them how to be gracious with me.
And they are. They really, really are. So resilient, and willing to forgive.
We’re learning to be patient with one another. Together.
We're learning to listen, really listen, to one another. Together.
And most importantly, we’re learning how to cherish one another. Together. 

I promised myself a few years ago, when life was brimming over,
and I was overwhelmed and overcommitted and exhausted,
that I would stop…
just stop, and downshift, and purpose it in my heart
to take the time, to make more time, for more time. 
And I have.


That I would squeeze the last bit o’ juice out of every morsel,
be fully present, savor the little moments, 
be more intentional, carpe diem and all that jazz.

That I would “eliminate the unnecessary, 
so that the necessary may speak.” (Hans Hoffmann)
That I would tap into the silent stirrings of my soul, and go deeper.
Deeper with myself. With God. With others.

That I would embrace my weaknesses, and develop them.
That I would navigate through my mistakes, and build upon them.
That I would be more courageous, hone my talents, and take more risks.
That I would speak more LIFE, and spread more beauty.


Oh Sweet Sweet Bellas, what a journey it has been, and continues to be.
The more I write, the more I discover how truly passionate I am 
about helping awaken the hearts of others,
encouraging them to step out of day to day drudgery, 
and taste the beauty of life!
To discover their God given talents, 
and SHINE!!

You see, 
YOU are part of my journey, 
as I am part of yours…
and I must say,
you’ve been the most delightful traveling companions.

Onward, Sweet Bellas, onward…

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TP...or not TP...that is the question...

Made a toilet paper run today. 
My 4 year old son, in the center of the aisle, 
gave me an elaborate, fully animated presentation 
as to why he believed Quilted Northern was a far superior toilet paper 
to the Cottonelle we had now. 
After all, he had seen the commercial. 

Now, I admit, I may have purchased dollar store toilet paper a time or two…
you know, moments of desperation and all…
and it had, in fact, displayed inferior qualities, 
practically disintegrating in your hands before fulfilling it’s ‘duty’…
see what I did there *ahem* 
But, Cottonelle is pretty high grade *in my humble opinion* 
and I was going to state my case.

“But the Cottonelle has RIPPLES son…RIPPLES! That’s sophisticated technology right there…” 
I replied with complete sincerity, with hands on hips and titled head, 
trying to keep a straight face.

He wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“THIS is BETTER for our BUTTS Mom, TRUST ME!!!!!!” 
he said in a loud voice and very matter-of-factly, 
as he threw the 12 pack in the cart, turned around with folded arms and a scowl on his face, 
and proceeded to stand guard to prevent me from removing it. 
Sigh.  
He’s got moxie. I’ll tell ya that much.  
Sooo, I took the….wait for it….plunge ;) and made the purchase.

Later that day, while putting laundry away, 
my 3 year old son bursts into the room and declares 
in a loud, gruff voice while pointing his finger at me, that  
“THAT toilet paper IS better for our butts!!!” 

Oh no. What are they up to in the other room? 
I’ve only been in the other room for 4.2 minutes!!! 
I rushed to the other side of the house praying against disaster 
“please don’t let there be a huge mess…please don’t let there be a huge mess…”

As I turned the corner, my 4 year old and 6 year old were 
in the hallway outside of the bathroom on the floor, 
with toilet paper stretched out between books. 
I was told *with absolute certainty* that…and I quote…
”we have 'investigated' and 'scientifically proven' that Quilted Northern IS the BEST! 
We stretched the toilet paper between the books & poured the water on it… 
the other toilet paper broke, and Quilted Northern didn’t! 
We did the test 3 times!! That’s it!!! I told you!!! It IS better!!!” 

Wow. 
Well there it is. 
Scientifically proven people. 
Case Closed. 

Double Sigh. 
Never a shortage of entertainment around here Bellas, 
take my word for it. 

So what does this have to do with 
tasting the beauty of life, 
and everyday beauty? 
Well, just that.
The best & most cherished moments in life are often 
those simple every day moments that fly under the radar.

Like when my husband calls out of the blue
 just to hear the sound of my voice...
how I light up when I hear the sound of his ringtone...
or how we chit chat and chuckle our way through his drive home commute. 
Sweet silliness. 

Like painting my daughter’s nails when she gets home from school 
instead of doing homework because the boys are still napping, 
and she tells me how much she loves “our time together."

Impromptu tea parties…
philosophical conversations with a 4 year old while building lego empires…
coffee with friends while talking about the deeper things of life. 

Snickering when the kids ask “what’s so funny???” 
because only Mommy and Daddy know the jokes behind the jokes…
when he reaches for my hand or I catch him giving me that look…
when our children bust me observing them doing their thing...and smile.

Enjoy the simple moments Sweet Bellas…they’re priceless…and precious…and fleeting...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BIG NEWS!!!!


Sweet Bellas!
It’s time to let the cat outta da bag!
EEEEK! 
I’m so excited!!!

This is the first of two exciting announcements,
and I couldn’t be more pleased about the timing of it all.

It’s time to take Mangiabella to the streets!!!!

Today is the GRAND OPENING of
the “MANGIABELLA” Merch Shop
filled with all things Mangiabella.

Yet another vehicle to bring
beauty, encouragement and inspiration
to the doorstep of your hearts!!!

Just look at these darlinggggg teapots
(available in 4 different designs)


and tea tumblers that let you 
take your loose tea leaves on the go…HELLLLOOOOO!!!

and the platters….Just think of how pretty it will be serving up 
all of your snackles and noshes and treats, Oh My!!!



baseballs tees ~ adoooooorbz!



and these Ornaments….squeal!!!!







And these oversized mugs - cause us mamas
 need the BIG cups to start our days *wink*.

The aprons & pot holders~ I can’t think of a better companion 
to deliver the goodness.



There’s even laptop and phone cases..whaaaaa?


Don’t even get me started on the notecards, and tumblers, and bags!!!

Ohhhmagoodness…there’s more…much much more…

so whatchya waitin’ for….

Click HERE to visit my store!!!

and as always

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Challenge...

"So much has been given to me 
that I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
~Helen Keller

Thanksgiving is three days away!!!

It always makes me smile to see my friends flooding social media 
with expressions of gratitude in their own personal lives.
What I love about these happiness/thankfulness/positivity challenges 
is that it causes us to be intentional about focusing on our blessings, 
and cultivates a habit of gratitude. 

I was challenged by a friend a few weeks ago
to list 3 things I am grateful for,
for 7 consecutive days on social media.
This was what I shared:


Day One:
1) My God, who has given me such radical encounters, 
that it has, and continues to, 
completely shift my paradigms of what I thought Love was.

2) My husband. His fearless spirit constantly challenges me 
to "get out of the boat" and live audaciously. 
He brightens my day like no other. His steadfast love has walked me through the fire. 
His kisses are like honey. His embraces are secure. And he's so darn handsome.

3) My children. Their arrival has roused parts of my soul that I had not yet discovered. 
Every day they crack me open and reveal me to myself.
This has fostered much growth and change...and that's a good thing. 
And they are such tasty lil chickens I could just eat them up.

Day Two:
1)Family. Near and Far. Through good times and bad. 
Through the laughter and the arguments and tears. 
Jenny Worth said it best: 
"Sometimes only when bonds are tested do we understand their strength.

2) Friends. Near and Far. Encouraging friends. 
Praying friends. Faithful friends. Friends that become family.

3)Change. You've heard me say this maaaany times before, and I'll say it again. 
I love how change changes us, and when that happens, 
growth is inevitably right around the corner. 
Having gone through a recent season of change in my own life, 
and still pressing through, I can testify to this.

Day Three:
1)I’ve blogged about this before, but I am ever so grateful for the little moments. 
The ones that no one else sees, 
that take you by surprise, that make you laugh til it hurts. 
The ones that make your heart swell. The ones that bring your soul to rest. 

2) Rainy days, with a delicious novel in hand, a cozy blanket, 
and a steaming cuppa joe (or tea) by my side.

3)The Front Porch. This has become my spot. My think tank. 
My reading nook. My writing quarters. The official entertaining sector of our home.

Day Four:
1)The written word. I’m a lover of etymology.
 But on a more personal level, I love the way words can stir me, t
he way they dance inside my soul. 
It’s not always easy to get “into the zone” during this season of my life, 
but when the house is occupied, or at rest, 
the feeling I get when I hold the pen…or tap on the keys…
when "the faucet” gets turned on, 
and thoughts are free to trickle without restraint. Exhilarating. 
I write much more than the world will ever see, 
I burn through journals like a candle on a cold winter’s night…
One day when I’m gone, my children will come across these journals, 
and learn many things about me that I could never express 
when the decibels of life were at full blast.

2)Cooking. While some days the thought of cooking 
it is absolutely daunting because I’m so tired from the day…
it’s the other days that make me smile. 
There’s something thrilling about creating edible art. 
The colors, the spices, the tastes & smells. 
It becomes more than just provision, it becomes an conduit for expression. 
And that moment when I’ve cooked for someone, and they take those first bites, 
and their senses are awakened, and they’re enjoying it, it brings me joy. 
There’s certainly been some foodie fails…but more successes than fails. 
All part of the creative process.

3)Photographs. I love to be behind the lens. 
The ability to capture a moment in time, 
that feels dimensional, that tells a story. 
Candid shots are my favorite, when no one or nothing is posing, 
they are just in the midst of living, laughing, observing, absorbing, just being. 
This morning’s sunset quieted me. 
In a noisy world, I like to be quieted. 
There wasn’t a lot of color, just a juxtaposition of light and darkness. 
Much like life. 
It wasn’t a high quality photo, 
but I promised myself a few years ago that I would stop what I’m doing 
and make time to take in more sunrises and sunsets…and I have.

Day Five:
1)Grateful for my health. That it’s in good standing. 
And I try not to take for granted that I’m able to do even the most basic things on my own. 
I really am trying to be diligent about the things I put into my body, 
and recognize the things that I'm denying my body, 
making adjustments as needed, oiling the hinges, topping off the fluids.  
This body's been through a lot 
ushering all these babies into the world in such a short period of time, 
but I’m amazed at how resilient it is, 
and in constant awe of what beautiful, complex machinery our bodies truly are. 
I am sincerely trying to be cognizant of all facets of my health: 
physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. 
I am guilty of allowing toxicity in all of these areas of my life…
but I AM becoming better at keeping it to a minimum, 
and, being gracious with myself along the way. 

2)Free will. I have the power, I have the choice.

3)Freedom. I have the permission. 

Day Six:
1)Grateful for quintessentially lazy Saturdays - the kind you hope for but never plan for. 
The ones filled with snuggles from chubby cheeked children. 
And Lord of the Rings marathons. And pillow fights. 
And french toast. And Bob Marley. 
And doors that remain open all day so fresh breezes are free to frolic to and fro. 
And reading & writing on the porch while the children nap. 
And relaxation.

2) Fall -  I’ve blogged about this very topic on more than one occasion. My favorite time of year. 
Hands wrapped around mugs of warm beverages.
Sudden urges to bake hot cinnamon-y apple pies dripping in caramel & nuts.
All things pumpkin spiced. Changing colors. Crispness in the air. 
The smell of chile roasting and fires burning. Aspen leaves fluttering back and forth.
Long hot baths. Colossal sized bowls of soup.
Slipping on my favorite boots and hats and scarves in bundling bliss. 

3) Home - It’s more than just shelter.
It’s Anthony.
It’s my children.
It’s comfort.
It’s REST.


Day Seven:
1)So grateful for Music. 
It takes can usher me into the deepest depths of contemplation,
 and to the highest peaks of jubilation. 
It sets the atmosphere. Compliments the mood. 
I especially love to listen to music when I’m cooking. 
Working out. When we go for a cruise in the car. When we’re sitting up late just talking. 
When we’re cleaning house. Around the campfire. 
Love listening to live music, just about every genre. 
Simply cannot imagine my life without music.

2)Road trips. 
Nothing like jumping in the car with your favorite people, 
some snacks, great music, and an adventure in waiting. 

3)For this challenge. 
It was great to reflect out loud, 
thanks for letting me share!

What are you grateful for today? 


Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

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