Sunday, May 18, 2014

What IS Mangiabella, exactly?


1,460 days ago, Mangiabella was born
into the ever expanding blogosphere.
It began as a collection of thoughts 
on life, love and the pursuit of happiness,
with some delicious food weaved in.

The hope was that my appetite for getting the most 
out of this life journey would be contagious
that it would make others hunger and thirst.
That it would entice you to 
devour life with me, 
devour my food, 
devour my words…
That it would encourage and inspire you to
step out of the day to day “drudgery,”
and marvel at something...
even if just for a moment.

But Mangiabella isn't just a blog...
It’s a lifestyle. 
It’s a mindset. 
It’s about tasting the beauty of life.
It’s about stepping out of comfort zones. 
It’s about not just being alive, but AWAKE!
It’s about showcasing your luster…it’s about spilling over.

Mangiabella is the thought in the back of your mind that says,
“What have I been ignoring?
What’s been left unsaid?
What have I been missing?”
It’s the laughter in the distance.
It’s ardently savoring the tastes, the touch, 
the sights, the sounds, and the aromas of LIFE.

Mangiabella is the passion and quickening within 
when I hold a pen, or type on the keys...
when I look through the lens of a camera..or when I cook…
It’s about discovering YOUR gifts & talents,
and then giving them away...

Mangiabella is the reminder that 
I AM the journey ~ 
I mean, aren’t we all?
We all have a story to tell.
It’s the quality of spirit that beckons you to rise to the occasion.
It’s the greatness within.

What is Mangiabella, exactly?

Mangiabella is the propensity and the desire to

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

Happy 4 Year Blogoversary Mangiabella!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fan into the Flame...

Guilty.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
So very guilty.
So often I put off “the hot iron" for the sake of the task at hand, 
and the tragedy is that as a result, 
many of those thoughts do get pushed back into the vault...
waaaaay back. And it can be tricky to reignite the flame again. 

But the hope is that it's still there…each word....living….breathing. 

Yesterday I had laundry to do, a dishwasher to unload, 
homework to finish, studying to catch up on…
But instead, I spent the early morning writing. 
Just letting words flow. 
It felt good to crack open the vault and let some light in.
And a few things fell out, wouldn’t ya know...

Oh Bellas, my time is not my own. 
These moments do not belong exclusively to me.
They also belong to my little ones.
They eagerly await each day for those moments
to be brought to life in an environment that cultivates
creativity, exploration, learning & development.
They rely on it.

There are also dishes that need to be done.
Meals that need to be made.
Toilets that need to be cleaned.
Diapers that need to be changed.
All noble things.

So what’s the secret formula?
That there is no secret formula.
That even when you budget time to it’s maximum potential,
there will always be an unpredictable variable.
Especially when it comes to toddlers. Ha!
As the incomparable Bruce Lee once said, 
“Be water, my friends.”

That about sums it up.
Be fluid. Go wit da flow.
Realization and flexibility go a long way here.
For me, it’s understanding that this is a unique season all of its own.
And embracing it.

It’s understanding that some days, I will choose the dishes...
Or the laundry... Or the mop...
over jotting down the burning thoughts in my head.

Other days, I will choose the hokey pokey.
Or puzzles. Or Star Wars action figure play.

And some days, I will choose the keyboard.
Or the journal. Or the sticky note.

And in between, 
as I'm referee-ing toddler spats,
filling bottomless tummies,
listening, consoling, encouraging, teaching...
I’ll be gracious with myself.
And the hope is that somewhere amidst the beautiful chaos,
that balance will naturally find its way through. 

So what will tomorrow bring?
When will I crack open the vault again?
Who knows.
Each day, the mystery unfolds.
Each day, it’s own story to be told.
Knowing fully, that when the moment is right,
I will unleash my inferno.
And it shall burn.

Until then, and whenever possible Sweet Bellas,
When the heat rises, 
I vow to fan into the flame.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In This Moment...

Are you facing a disappointment?
A dilema?
A disconnect notice?
A diagnosis?
A divorce?
Discord?

When suffocating moments 
consume your thoughts…consume your body…consume your reality...
and you feel like you’re sinking faster than you can paddle,
how do you find your way to the surface??

My husband Anthony, whom I affectionately refer to 
from time to time as “Dr. T.,”
gave me some valuable advice this past weekend.
He said sometimes when you’re stiflingly overwhelmed,
it helps to break things down 
to the simplest most basic element in the present moment.

As we were driving on the highway, 
he told me to close my eyes, take a deep breath, exhale, 
and focus on the utmost fundamental truth at this very point in time.
I’m alive for yet another day.
The sun is shining. 
The birds are soaring.
The air is cool and sweet.
The children were giggling in the back seat over something ridiculous.

And something happened…

I could feel the rays of the sun,
 permeating through the windshield, warming my skin.
The breath of life steadily filled my lungs, 
slowly flowing through every fiber of my being.
The rhythmic sound of tires on pavement began to 
resonate and pulsate in sync with my own heartbeat.
A flock of birds was circling..foraging...gliding in the most majestic way.
The resplendence of the mountains against the contrast of the foothills
framed my mind’s eye.
The taste of honey lemon ginseng mint was faint on my lips.
I was completely inside the stillness of the “right here, right now.”
The tightness that gripped my heart was released.
I could feel the Lord quieting me with His love.
I could feel His presence sweeping over me.
In my center, I knew who I was.
I belonged to Him, and I was enough.

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Sometimes you have to break things down 
to the simplest 
most basic element 
in the present moment.

Thanks Dr. T.
carry on...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Berry Breakfast Parfait...and Monet!

There are times in our lives when we are caught 
between moments that we wish would never end,
and moments that we wish had never begun.

When our hearts are most unguarded,
and we least expect it,
it comes...
a tender touch...
a glimpse of hope and a reminder of all that's good and true in our world.
It sneaks on up, reaches right in and
awakens something deep within us.

When I first heard some three years ago that a scrapbook was being compiled 
to be filled with sentiments and recipes from bloggers across the blogosphere
that was intended to spread a little sunshine
to someone very dear to my heart,
I was overjoyed at the chance to participate.

has won over the hearts of everyone who has crossed her path
in the most memorable way, through her thoughts and
contemplations, her stories, her photography, and her delightful recipes.

It was a privilege to pray her family through 
an especially difficult season of their lives...
a season that had been eclipsed with numerous tragedies and heartache;
And the hope was
that the small token of love
from those who adore her
would be a healing salve during that time...

So often I have felt her heart and hands wrapping around my soul. 

I have imagined sitting at her table,
breathing in the aromas of her freshly baked delicacies,
and sharing our worlds over a cup of tea. 

Stop by her blog and experience it for yourself.
Thank you Monet, for spending your morning with us.

Mornings have become special times for me. I wake up next to my daughter, next to my husband, and I take in ten deep breaths of thankfulness.

As some of you know, my family experienced a season of great loss. In 2010, my father-in-law committed suicide. A few months later, my youngest nephew drowned. Then, unbelievably, in the spring of 2011, my oldest sister and her family were in a fatal rollover car accident. We lost my nephew, and sister in the days following the accident…my brother-in-law six months later.

To say I felt scared is an understatement. I felt terrified. Confused. Angry. Lost. And yet in those darkest of dark days, I was offered cords of hope. The love and support of friends and family near and far pulled me through this season of loss into a season of healing light.

And our dear Bella was one of the kindest. Her words and compassionate presence reminded me to hold onto my faith. She doesn’t know how much she means to so many people…she doesn’t know how much she means to me. 

I could have lost myself in a sea of grief and depression…but thanks to the love of many, I got to the other side. 

On June 25th, 2013, I gave birth to my first daughter. We named her Lucille, which means “Bringer of Light” and indeed….what light she’s brought into our world! For the past year, I’ve learned what it means to be mother. I’ve learned to let go of control and to celebrate each day for what it is: an opportunity to love and to be loved.

I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. The second the doctor lifted her to my stomach, my body swelled with such a potent mixture of love and thankfulness and pride. Tears fell freely as I thanked God again and again. Not only for the miracle of birth but for his continued presence during the quiet and easy days of my life and his faithfulness through the dark and frightening moments of the past few years.

So my dear friends, for those of you who are hurting, please know that there is so much love in this world. Let us surround and support you. Let us help you get to the other side. I’m so thankful for the people who stood beside me…and now I pray that I can do the same for those brought into my life.

This morning parfait is a simple recipe but it’s one I love. I hope you enjoy it too.

Berry Breakfast Parfait
One 6 oz container of full-fat Greek Yogurt (2% is fine too)
Fresh berries (Organic, if possible)
1/2 to 1 cup granola

Place above ingredients in a big, beautiful bowl and enjoy! (Talk about mom-friendly!)
Have a most glorious week
and as always
Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!!

P.S. Congrats to Rach Vendetti, she won a copy of "Beautiful Outlaw"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bruleed Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote

Sweet Bellas, I have yet another treat for you today…
A mahhhhvelous guest post dahlings.
It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to
Gina Stanley, THE Self Proclaimed Cookie Queen.

With a wicked repertoire of recipes under her belt,
she continues to touch so many lives through her genuine acts of kindness.
I have personally been on the receiving end of her genius, and generosity,
and I simply cannot rave enough…
She has been SUCH an inspiration to me in ways that are too numerous to count.

She will have you laughing till your belly hurts, but still be hungry for a nosh!
Her authenticity, magnificent story telling, and mad cooking/baking skills
are undeniably one-of-a-kind-wonderful.
Her creative energy and enthusiasm spills over on to everyone that journeys with her…

Trust me Bellas, you want to take some time to visit her at her blog over HERE

Take it away Gina!

I'm excited I am able to help out my friend Jaime whom I met by what would seem like complete accident 4 years ago when we both had the bright idea to enter a cooking contest searching for amazing home cooks. "I’m a pretty darn good cook", I told myself. My naive little self plunged in hook, line, and sinker. The contest didn't end how I'd hoped, not because I didn’t win but because I learned a few things along the way; the hard way.  I decided to use my failure as an opportunity to grow instead.  Not only did I find Jaime, but a whole world of others who shared my same passion. I was worried at first at my naivety falling away, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and has helped me see things in completely different ways.  Trying something I never had before helped open up a whole new world of possibilities. My venturing into uncharted territory wasn't random; it was what I was supposed to do.

I have found with age I am able to truly know the value of what the most important things in life are.


Younger more naive me thought breakfast was a waste of time, just something that would slow me down in the morning.  As time marched on so did my recognition of the importance of starting the day off on a good note.  I can't even imagine what my mornings would be like if that old habit had stuck with me.  You see everything we desire in life is a constant battle, and as much as I'd like to walk away sometimes from making some of the necessary changes; I find taking a deep breath is much more effective.  


There are days when everything feels like a struggle.  Struggling to find a rare clean spot on the counter to put a pot down, struggling to find a free moment to sit down and write, struggling to find the energy after a long day to do something for myself, struggling to overcome constant setbacks.  I have to remind myself to be vigilant about the way I'm thinking, not to be naive and realize there is something much bigger at play, more to every story, more work to be done, more joy to be found, my hugs to be given, more patience and kindness to be doled out.    


Sometimes a quite contemplate moment with a bowl of warm oatmeal is enough to start changing things in the right direction. 

Bruleed Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote 
(recipe adapted from http://www.bobsredmill.com)

1 cup Steel-Cut oats 
2 cups water 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 cup milk (or Almond milk, I had good results with it also) 
2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced in 1/2-inch sized pieces (I used Fuji apples)
1 tablespoon butter 
Juice from one half of a lemon, about 1 tablespoon 
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/3 cup light brown sugar 
4 tablespoons granulated sugar 

Combine oats, water, salt, and milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 18-20 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. 

Melt butter in a small skillet and add apples and lemon juice, cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the apples start to soften.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Set aside. 

Stir apples into finished oatmeal and fill 4 small oven-safe ramekins equally with the oatmeal. At this stage you can add about 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to the top of each ramekin and put them under the broiler until the sugar is browned about 5 minutes. (A kitchen torch will also work well.)   

I know mornings are crazy and it’s hard to always have a hot breakfast, hopefully this tip will help:
Make the oatmeal while making dinner, cover the dishes with plastic wrap. Microwave the dishes in the morning for 45 seconds or so and then add the granulated sugar and put them under the broiler for a few minutes. 

It's no accident when you plan to start your day off right, nor is it an accident when the right people come into your life.  When I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job with everything and everyone, I just have to remind myself to get back to work and work that much harder.  One battle at a time, one breakfast at a time I find is much more palatable than taking on the whole world at once. 

Thank you for sharing your beautiful, inspiring space with me Jaime.

Gina

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spread a lil' love...and ANOTHER Giveaway!


A Valentine’s tradition we started last year, and hope to continue,
is making this day a "Random Acts of Kindness" day.

Sweet Bellas, what an opportune time to show some love 
to a neighbor, family member, friend, or stranger!

It can be as simple as leaving coins in the meter, 
or laundromat, with a note that says “have a nice day!"
Take a neighbor’s trash can out (or shovel their driveway!)
Leave an encouraging note on someone’s windshield, or a gift card!
Bring valentine’s to an elderly home.
Call a family member or friend just to tell them you love them.
Pick up someone’s tab at a restaurant.
Bring treats to co-workers.

These are just a few simple ideas, but the possibilities are endless!


Whatever you do today, I hope it is done in love.

Speaking of love….I would love to spoil you once again!


One lucky winner will receive a copy of 
“Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge.
You’ve heard me rave about Elredge before…  
In his latest book, Eldredge invites you to experience
the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus.
John Eldredge is a master story teller,
and an expert in the art of heart recovery...
I know you won’t be disappointed.

And hey, don’t just take my word for it…
Anthony is reading this right now,
and gives it a resounding two thumbs up!
If you’ve read this book before, 
don’t let that stop you from entering,
it makes a wonderful gift!!

All you have to do to enter to win, 
is tweet, share, or pin this post
by Thursday February 20th, noon PST,
and leave a comment below telling me you did
(you may leave one comment for each thing you do).

Good Luck!
And spread a lil love today….

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!!!

Congratulations to Kelly Rivera,
our winner of the stay at home date night movie package!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Love Deluxe Game Plan...and a Giveaway!

Sweet Bellas, 
to celebrate this week of love
Mangiabella would like to send some spoils your way.

But before we get to the giveaway,
 a few tantalizing suggestions on tasting the beauty of life this week...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re planning a date at home, may I suggest:

Finding a great recipe, cooking dinner together, 
coupled with some great music, reads, & film
such as:

Eats
(click on links for recipe):
Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Dessert

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Music
(click on links to listen):
The Great Gatsby Soundtrack - sexy, haunting, edgy, frolicky, and boom-shalaka-fab at just the right moments

Sade - Lover’s Rock or Love Deluxe - classic love vibes

Maxwell - Embrya ~ late night listening

Celine Dion - The French Album ~ great dinner or bath soaking music

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reads
(click on links to view):
Tuck Everlasting ~ by Natalie Babbitt
The Princess Bride ~ by William Goldman
Stardust ~ by Neil Gaiman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Film:
(click on links to view):
For Something Different

For the Adventurous Heart

For Those Time Period Drama Lovers

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re planning a date out, may I suggest:
Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre
Rock Climbing Gym
Shooting Range
Planetarium
Taking a class together (cooking, pottery, wine tasting)
Dinner & Live Music or Theatre
Spa Day
Ski Day
Bike Ride/Picnic Lunch

And now...a little giveaway for YOU.

One lucky winner will receive a
stay at home date night movie package.
To enter:
1) Subscribe to Mangiabella via RSS Feed or Email sign up
2) leave a comment below

For Extra Entries:
1)Tweet this giveaway
2) Share this giveaway on Facebook
3) Pin this giveaway on Pinterest

Deadline to enter is Thursday, 2/13/14 at NOON PST.
Winner will be chosen by Random.org
and announced on Friday, 2/14/14.

Good Luck, and as always,
Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

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