LA BELLA VIA

Bye Bye Winter Skin!

BEAUTYMonique Bellavia1 Comment
Winter Skin.jpg

My skin is typically problematic. It's not the worst, but I do struggle with some cystic blemishes here and there. Since I've had my son, my skin has been up and down. Dry, oily, acne prone, and at times smooth and glowing. It changes daily! The winter does a number on everyone's skin. Harsh wind, and cold weather, we could all use a little refreshing in that department. It's super easy to do little natural things at home that are very cost effective. These two items are a staple in our house so its a no brainer. Just rolled oats and coconut oil!

  1. Add a little of both to a small bowl (I never measure)
  2. Heat it in the microwave till it's a paste (not a liquid).
  3. Gently rub into skin in circular motions and let it sit for 5 min or so.
  4. Rinse.

       You can do this nightly, but if it's too time consuming you can try this awesome mask. I add coconut oil to my hands just before rubbing in and I finish with a light layer of coconut oil.  In the morning I wake up with glowing skin! So far this winter I have gone through it with not a single big problem to deal with and no dryness!  I loved this product so much I had to get one for my sister for Christmas and she has also agreed, it's pretty damn awesome. It leaves the skin super soft, hydrated and refreshed. My new skin care routine is so simple and my skin is looking better and better.

Two Thousand Fifteen

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         A new year, a new start. Leaving behind 2014 is bitter sweet. In 2014 we welcomed the birth of our beautiful baby boy Emerson, we bought a house, and I believe, 2014 was the year my husband and I grew significantly. Not physically of course, but, as individuals, as a couple, and as parents. The changes I feel in myself are so big it's hard for me to wrap my head around sometimes. I see these changes in my husband as well. It's a weird thing to realize one day "I am a grown up". I turned 31 this year and I can honestly say 2014 was the year I grew up. I am a mother, a wife, a caregiver, and as my husband dubbed me "household CEO" (although I still like to bestow him with that title).           

        Everything has a different meaning now. I mean EVERYTHING. Things that were once in the forefront of my mind are so insignificant now, and things I never imagined myself thinking about, are ALL I think about now. It's not just becoming a parent, it's being a wife, and now a home owner. You know the saying "shit just got real?" Well, it sure as heck did! And in such a short amount of time too.

        I think part of us growing up is also coming to the realization that no one knows what's best for you but you. You spend your teens and early 20's one foot in adulthood and one foot still dependent. Then, even when your two feet in adulthood you reach back every once and a while. Because sometimes making huge decisions on your own is flat out scary! But together my husband and I have learned that WE are each others council. We both come from loving supportive families that have given us strong foundations to make good decisions. This past year taught us that with what we learned from our families, together, we know what's best for us. 

     2015 and beyond is looking so bright for us Bellavias. So bright I need some sunnies to think about it! (so corny I know!) But it feels great to be heading in such a positive direction with my little tribe. Nothing in the material sense but, spiritually, emotionally, and health wise. We are committed to living a life of positivity all around and It's lookin' and feeling good!  The hubs and I have some very specific personal goals that are exciting for us to reach as a family. I have some personal ones I'd like to accomplish on my own and I know my husband has a bunch of his own as well (some involve crickets, but I wont even go there!). For right now though, on this first day of 2015 I'm going to soak up every last minute of today, with my little clan. Were gonna eat some good food, hopefully a nap for baby, and some good old conversation about our dreams with my soul mate. Happy New Year's everyone!

A few shots from our Holiday...

Jumping in

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I can't believe it's been almost a month since have been back at work. I guess lack of sleep will blend weeks and weeks together to form one big blob of I don't know what.

         I don't think I was fully prepared for how hard it would be to go back to work full time. And if I could press rewind and start all over I wouldn't do it cold turkey. I would start slowly, couple days here and there. Get my feet wet until I was fully submerged and it no longer felt like it was shocking my system. But that's just me.

          Week two was the hardest. Most people thinks it's probably week one, but no, it's definitely week two that really takes a toll. See, during week one your still high on showing off those baby pics and wearing clothes without spit up or poop for entire days. Sure, leaving your little bug is painfully hard. It doesn't feel natural at all, but week two is when it gets really really hard. I guess because it's final. You just think to yourself, wait, this isn't going to change, every day I will leave him and be here in this office - Every. Single. Day! Its daunting, and seriously hard to swallow.

                      I know it's easy to say "then quit and stay at home" well for most, the number one reason why that's out of the question is it's just financially not feasible, but for others, being home all day doesn't feel quite right either. It's like, when I'm home all day I feel lost and alone, and all sorts of weird. I also felt like I couldn't be the best mom I could be without the other part of me, the work me. But being at the office also feels all sorts of weird. Like something is missing. There's a giant hole right smack in the middle of my chest every day all day. I guess most women probably battle this internal fight. Your nurturing maternal side vs your strong independent woman side. It plain old sucks.

           Then there is the pumping and breast feeding juggling act you have to throw in the mix! Nature naturally fills you up with these happy little endorphins when you breast feed so that you'll grow to like it and look forward to it. It's pleasurable in a way that's really hard to put into words (after you get past that god awful painful first month). To watch my son be nurtured directly through me is just an incredible feeling that I wish upon every women. Its empowering, reassuring, and just feels so right.  But then reality and modern life has to go and screw it all up by making women go back to work 12 weeks later! So we buy these shmancy gadgets called "breast pumps" to come and replace your little babe and suck the milk out of you a few times a day. It's awful. It's painful and it's stressful squeezing in the time, trying not to rush, making sure you fully empty your breasts, and the big one; hoping against all hope that you are providing enough to feed your babe. I totally get why women give up. It's hard! I won't even get into my bouts of mastitis, milk blisters, and oversupply cause the list goes on.

         Regardless of how sleepy I am, how sore I am, how stressed I am, I will continue to give it my all for as long as my body will allow me, because I know one day when he's big enough to ask me about his early days I will sigh and dream of this wild and exciting but very short time in his life. The good, the bad, the ugly. I'm embracing all of it because for me this is mommy hood, a new exciting adventure and I wouldn't wish for it any other way. I hope all you new Mammas, and Mammas to be feel as incredible as I do in your new roles. No matter if it's full time mommy, or working mommy, whatever mommy you choose to be is the one that will fit perfectly.

Working Girl

Monique Bellavia1 Comment
12 weeks flew right on by and I am officially entering in the grown up work world again tomorrow! I am an emotional mess about it. On one hand I am so excited to be back in the city doing what I love, having grown up conversations without being covered in spit up or baby poop. But on the other hand the thought of leaving my baby in the care of someone else and missing those milestones and not getting those smiles and giggles all day is killing me. One thing is for sure, I will not feel guilty about wanting to have my own life and career. It's so bitter sweet but If I don't do this, and at least give it a really good shot, I know that in 5 years when Emerson is in school I will regret that missed opportunity, and that is something I don't think would be fair to me or him.
      I am wondering how this juggling act will be. Right now since I am breast feeding I haven't put Em on any schedule. I just feed when he's hungry, let him nap when he's sleepy, and go for walks when he's awake. I haven't let my husband do any night feedings, mainly because I've become so hooked on the closeness and bonding I get while nursing him in the middle of the night. But now real life starts. Up at 5 am, out the door by 6:45, back home by 6, bath time by 8....how we are all going to adjust to this new schedule, only time will tell.  John has been nothing but supportive and I know he's going to be so helpful in the mornings and evenings. We're both going to be a mess the first week, but It will get easier. If it didn't every other working mom out there wouldn't do it! Wish me luck on my first day, any and all advice is more than welcomed!

Our Big (little) Arrival!

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             6 weeks ago we welcomed our first baby into the world. Life has completely changed forever. Little Emerson Cole Bellavia surprised us a week early. I honestly did not believe I was even in labor. I really thought I would go late! But to my surprise my water broke at work, only ever so slightly. I work in the Empire State building, so I left for the hospital as per Dr.'s orders. Even though I was convinced I was still not in labor. No contractions no nothing! John left work and met me at Penn station. Well, on the walk there my water broke for real! Waterfalls in the middle of Manhattan. So I waddled faster to Penn, more waterfalls. This continued till I finally made it there and sat on a bench till our train came. Still no contractions. When we got to the hospital I was only in labor 8 hrs, and then he arrived! It was surreal and not at all how I expected it to go. I had it pretty easy for my first time, and I am so grateful for that. Emerson has flipped our lives on it's head. Some days are stressful, some are easy breezy, but we are taking each one as they come. We are completely obsessed. I can honestly say I have never experienced a love like this one. This goes way beyond unconditional. It's painful how much I love this child. Life could not be any better!


Thankful

Monique Bellavia3 Comments

                 Well it's been some time again. But I'd like to try and get back in a groove on here. Fall is coming to a close and summer is pretty much a blurry memory. A lot of exciting things are happening over in Bellavia world.
             We spent the summer looking for houses and deciding where we'd like to settle down. In August we found out we have a little one on the way! It's pretty much been a roller coaster ride since then. So many ups and downs with this house and the painstakingly long process the banks put you through now. But it will all be worth it when we have a place to call home!
             The baby ride has also been um....fun! Yes I'm SO over the moon excited, but the morning sickness was the worst! I'm the type of person that just never gets sick or throws up and that was a feeling I was not expecting. Now I seem to be coming out of that cloud. My energy is coming back and I'm almost back to normal with my eating (accept for marinara sauce, that is the devil!).
       I have SO SO much to be thankful for this thanksgiving, as I'm sure everyone does. Blame it on the hormones but when I think about all the good in my life, my family and friends, this little miracle growing inside of me, my wonderfully supportive and giving husband, it just brings tears to my eyes and once that starts, I cant stop it! So I will end here with a very happy thanksgiving to all you lovely readers (if you are in fact still visiting my little world here). I'll be back again soon! I always always come back!

New Items on Society 6!!

Monique Bellavia1 Comment
Hello Lovers! I'm going to completely ignore the big elephant in the room (aka: my blogging absence) and just let you in on a new design of mine that's available on society 6. She's a new magazine Cover Girl illustrated by me. I just lover her so, and can already see some other "cover girls" in the future along with note cards, so stay tuned!! xoxo


Summer Skin Essentials

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Let's face it, summer is sexy, and fun. Bare skin, hot weather, sun kissed cheeks all make me feel extra feminine. But it also can do some serious damage. Between being over exposed to harmful UV rays, accumulation of sweat, and greasy sunscreens, we are more prone to breakouts, heat rash, eczema break outs, and other irritations. I've been testing out these products for a few months now and I can attest that my testy sensitive skin has honestly never looked better. In addition to the products listed in this post I still adhere to most of the skin care regime that I posted about here. I can't live without my Clarisonic and Philosophy cleanser. But I have stopped using the No 7 Protect & Perfect Skin care items. And my Tanda zap has not been needed lately because I haven't had any break outs. That's a total win for me!

  1. Clearasil Ultra Salicylic cleansing pads: I use these after I scrub with my clarisonic and cleanse with toner. In the AM I use only this after I shower. It leaves my skin feeling so fresh and eliminates extra oil. If I ever do have a blemish they seem to disappear over night!
  2. CeraVe AM & PM face moisturizers: After the Clearasil pads, I put on two pumps of this AM or PM moisturizer. These are so lightweight oil free. Also they contain ceramides that help maintain moisture on the skin. They also contain a patented formula that creates a protective barrier on the skin. And the price tag is not too hefty!
  3. Too Faced Coconut Body Bronzing Oil & St. Tropez Self Tanning Foam: Since I protect my skin every time I'm outdoors I don't tan much. I use these two tanning produtcts to give my skin a nice glow. I even use the tanning foam on my face at night even though they make one for the face. I have yet to have any irritation.
  4. CeraVe Body & Face Suncreen: I use this brand for my sunscreen because they contain all the good things that the face moisturizers have. They are also non-comedogenic and oil free!
 I hope you are all having a wonderful summer and protecting that gorgeous skin!

Nutella Peanut butter Graham Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Monique Bellavia2 Comments
Ok So I'll admit I have an addiction to making ice creams. It's insanely easy, so much fun, and absolutely delicious! Not all my Ice creams turn out good (like the mint Julep non dairy one that took me forever and never actually froze up! I didn't even bother posting about that one!) but when they do turn out well, I feel its my non-diary ice cream maker duty to inform my lovely readers. I think I'll make it a weekly habit this summer to post a non-dairy ice cream recipe. What do you guys think about that? I know it will certainly make my husband happy!
        This recipe was inspired by my Husband's love for peanut butter and my love for Nutella. Of course we added a cookie for crunch. Because the BEST ice creams always have a crunch factor. We had some grahams so that's what I threw in. Now, Nutella isn't actually non-dairy. I particularly don't mind that. But if you do and you really want to make this 100% non-dairy, feel free to make your own version of Nutella as opposed to buying the store bought version.





Ingredients

  1. 1 can of full fat coconut milk (to get the closest to real ice cream don't use the light version)
  2. 1/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  3. 4 tbs raw honey
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 4 tbs coconut cream - This will make your ice cream creamy and also add some sweetness. This stuff has a lot of sugar so you can omit and just adjust your honey if you don't care to use this. It is also very calorie heavy so if your concerned with that, I would suggest omitting.
  6. 4-5 cracked graham crackers. (leave them in chunks)
  7. 1/4 cup peanut butter I use this one. It's the best tasting peanut butter I've ever had!
  8. 1/4 cup Nutella (or you can make you own non-dairy one following this recipe)
Directions
    Combine your coconut milk, honey, coconut cream, and vanilla and whisk till everything is incorporated. Add your cocoa powder and whisk until it's all incorporated.  Pour your mixture into an ice cream maker and mix according to the directions adding in the graham crackers during the last 5 minutes of mixing. Mean while, pop your peanut butter and Nutella (in separate bowls) into the microwave for a quick 30-50 seconds so it's a more liquid consistency. Pour them into your ice cream maker at the same time. Only let the mixer go for another 2 min max. You don't want the peanut butter and Nutella blending in too much. You want to aim for a swirl effect. Your ice cream will seem melted because you heated the extras. That's ok. Just transfer your ice cream mix to a container and freeze for an extra hour before serving. Enjoy!!

Happy Friday!!

Monique Bellavia1 Comment
Happy Friday lovelies!! I hope you all had a wonderful week! The weather has been heating up here in NY and I'm so loving this little taste of summer we have. The Hubs and I plan on hitting the beach this weekend, here's what else I'm looking forward to...
1 / 2 

Do you lovely readers have any special plans? I'd love to hear!

A LITTLE GIVEAWAY!

Monique Bellavia2 Comments
Hello All my lovely readers! I've been quite a miss lately. There has been so much going on for me I just had to unfortunately put something a side for a bit. I have been working on a very special wedding invitation suite for my very first client and I am so so excited about it. I cant wait to take photos and share it with you all. Also there have been some exciting new changes going on with my company I work for full time designing girls clothes. It's been a whirlwind of a week! But hopefully this week I'll get back into a little groove of posting. :) In the meantime I'm so excited to tell you all about a special little giveaway for my Etsy shop over on Pearls & Pastries Shop. Lauren has a little etsy shop of her own with some deliciously girlie items! Head over to her blog to see how to enter and what you can win!!   I love how Lauren styled my items for her photos below!!

Non-Dairy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

RECIPESMonique Bellavia5 Comments

I like Ice cream. No I mean REALLY like ice cream. So much that I think the first little argument my husband and I had was over the fact that I polished off his Ben and Jerry's Milk and cookies in one whole sitting. Yes, I like ice cream THAT much. So when I gave up most dairy products including ice cream I had come up with some replacements like frozen Kefir, which I made

here

. While I find frozen Kefir delicious, and refreshing, it's still not ice cream. Oh how I've longed for the creamy texture and soft sweet taste of full fat milk based ice cream. This recipe is creamy, sweet, and so close to traditional ice cream that my husband requested I make a Milk and Cookies inspired version next! I'll have to play around with that idea! For now this strawberry shortcake version hits the spot.

Ingredients

  1. 1 can of full fat coconut milk (to get the closest to real ice cream don't use the light version)
  2. Strawberries quartered and smashed (I used about 20)
  3. 4 tbs raw honey
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 4 tbs coconut cream - This will make your ice cream creamy and also add some sweetness. This stuff has a lot of sugar so you can omit and just adjust your honey if you don't care to use this. It is also very calorie heavy so if your concerned with that, I would suggest omitting.
  6. 4-5 cracked graham crackers. (leave them in chunks)

Directions

    Combine your coconut milk, honey, coconut cream, and vanilla and whisk till everything is incorporated. Add your strawberries and whisk well mashing any larger chunks of berries you see as you go.  Pour your mixture into an ice cream maker and mix according to the directions adding in the graham crackers during the last 5 minutes of mixing. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings, approximately 250 calories per serving

The Pink Flamingo Cocktail

RECIPESMonique Bellavia6 Comments

Lately I've been on a bit of a grapefruit kick. This has to be the strangest thing because my whole life I've avoided grapefruit like the plague. I just couldn't take it's bitter tartness. But I think as you get older your taste buds change and I've been finding myself craving this juicy bitter fruit. Don't worry this drink isn't overly bitter or tart. The orange juice, and splash of cranberry cut it perfectly. Here's my recipe for this delicious crisp springtime cocktail.

*Makes approx 4 cocktails.

Juice of 2 Grapefruits

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 Orange

Splash of Cranberry (per serving)

Fresh mint

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

sugar for the rim

1 shot Vodka-1 shot per drink (Titos is my vodka of choice)

Lillet Rose aperitif -1 shot per drink

I peeled my fruit and used my juicer to get the most juice out of them. After all the juicing is done muddle the mint in a cocktail shaker, I used 2-3 sprigs of mint per drink. Pour enough of the juice mixture for one drink into the shaker with the mint, add the splash of cranberry, sugar (if using) and the vodka and Lillet, shake shake shake (yes I sing that as I make cocktails) pour over ice into a sugar rimmed rocks glass (aren't

these

flamingo ones perfect!). Garnish with fresh mint and a lime wheel and enjoy!

8 Day Flowers

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         So I'm not going to pretend at all that this is something I came up with on my own. My florist actually let me in on this little trick. I do it now with every flower I buy, save a few that have too soft a stem like hyacinths. But typically this trick can be used with most flowers. All you do is snip your flowers to the desired length for your vase. I use a tape measure after perfecting the length on one and then go along with that measurement for the rest (yes I am that anal!). Take any old hammer and smash the end of the flower stem till it's just broken. This will allow the flower to absorb more water. Sprinkle the flower food, and about 1/2 tsp of sugar into the water and mix up. Arrange your flowers and change the water every other day.  My florist may have told me this trick but I buy most of my flowers at the local deli on my way home on Fridays. I typically don't buy fully bloomed I buy them when they look like they are just about to bloom. This also helps prolong the life.  Enjoy your 8 day flowers!