Frozè with a kick

I had my first ever frozè recently, and I totally get the hype. It was refreshing, delicious and gave me the perfect little buzz. Since I have an ice cream maker I figured it was simple enough to make, so I gave it a shot. I added a little something extra because I had it in the house and it was the perfect addition to traditional frozè. It's easy to make and really you don't even need an ice cream maker. You can just freeze the mix in ice cube trays and once they are frozen just blend it till it becomes slushy. Hope you enjoy! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 hand full of fresh strawberries
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (or maybe a touch less)
  • 2/3 of a cup of tequila rose strawberry cream (or something similar)
  • 1 bottle of white girl rosè or another dry rosè 

Blend the strawberries and lemon juice together and set aside. Put a splash of rose and the sugar in a small saucepan and summer till the sugar is fully dissolved. Let that cool till at least room temp. Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend until it's incorporated. The mix will separate a little so put it in your ice cream maker right away or into ice cube trays if you're doing the freeze then blend method. It melts quick so enjoy it right away or freeze in a container for later. It freezes well because of the alcohol so it doesn't become like a rock. The tequila rose strawberry liqueur really did add a nice flavor and kick so I highly recommend it. But you can try another liqueur as well. I would imagine a Chambord would be awesome in this! Happy summer cock-tailing!

Avocado, Banana, and Chocolate Pudding

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This pudding might be my all time favorite healthy treat! It's vegan, paleo, refined sugar free (if you eliminate the graham cracker) and super super decadent. It was super easy to make. Took me all of 10 minutes. I did it before preschool drop off while the kids ate breakfast. Which is usually either the most chaotic time of day or the only time I get to sip some coffee semi peacefully. So the fact that I made it in that time frame definitely proves how simple it is! I researched some avocado pudding ideas online and some had banana but lots of other random things added in too. I felt it didn't need much but these very few ingredients.

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•2 large ripe avocados or 3 small ones (the size definitely matters)

•1 large banana

•1/2 cup of raw cacao power (you can use regular cocoa power too)

•1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (I prefer maple syrup)

•1/2 cup full fat organic coconut milk (full fat is a must!) 

•1tsp vanilla 

•Dash of cinnamon (you can omit if you like)

•Dash of sea salt 

Directions:

Litterally just dump all these ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until it's really creamy like a pudding. Refrigerate for about an hr before serving so it's nice and cool! I chose to crush up some graham crackers into the bottom of a jar to create a sort of pie in a jar. I also added a scoop of organic coconut whipped cream! You could even make it Mexican style and add some cayenne pepper! It's such a decadent tasting treat! And a good way to get some healthy fats into your day!

The Little White Desk

I recently switched my "office" into a functional closet/dressing room (post and pics to come!) with a small desk in case I do ever need to actually work in private. While the transformation is a work in progress I have chosen a desk! I wanted to share some awesome finds for the perfect little white writing desk. I had originally picked out THIS desk from west elm that was aesthetically what I was looking for AND the perfect size, but not the price point I am looking for. $400 for a desk that I will barely use just doesn't seem logical right now. So I did what I always do, online hunt! Here are some awesome picks for the perfect little white desk (other colors are available for most of these!) that wont break the bank.

 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 //

DIY Dining table refinishing project

So this dinging table has a little story. I bought it right after we bought our house 2 years ago. It sat in my parents garage for about 2 months while we paitently awaited work to be done on our house so we could move in. Online I fell in love with the simplicity of this table. It was the perfect size for our small dining room, it had these beautiful rounded spindle legs. It was farmhouse-esque but also modernish. The color was a distressed black/brown so it didn't look totally brand new and shiny but would still go with some of the more glam pieces I had left over from our old apartment. When we finally opened the box, the top of the table was defected. Or at least I thought it was! It looked as if instead of randomly distressing the wood on the table top someone took a giant eraser and just put very large marks on it. it was awful! But It had already been 2 months and I wasn't sure there was anything I could do about it now. I emailed the company I purchased it from and they agreed it was not at all what was advertised on the website. They gave me a refund and told me to keep the table cause shipping would be way to expensive. The table is beautifully constructed and it's a heavy solid wood so this was a total score! I knew the table needed to be refinished but at the time I was 6 months pregnant and have never properly refinished anything in my life, so I decided to quick fix it and added a quick layer of black paint over the top. it worked fine. Fast forward 2 years later and the black paint is scratched and peeling and just awful! I decided it was time to tackle the dreaded project. And I'm SO SO glad I did!. Here's the progress of the table...

Zuo Era Soma Table with defects

This is the table after I opened the box and realized the "distressing" was horribly done. It was a sad moment!

 

Table right before stripping

You can see here my slapped on paint "band-aid" had started to peel off. And now we STRIP!!

Phase 1

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 3

And now on the the finished product!!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE how my first stripping/refinishing project turned out! I used a product called Citristrip to strip the paint. It's an all natural stripper made from orange peels and I loved working with it. The company states you can even use this product indoors, but because of the mess stripping creates I wouldn't recommend that. After stripping you need to "de-gunk". That's not a technical term but it's pretty much what I had to do. There will be a layer of waxy residue that if you try and sand off will just stick to your sand paper and get pushed down into the grain of the wood (I learned this the hard way). There are a few ways to go about de-gunking, the method I used was with some steel wool and denatured alcohol. Worked like a charm. Then you move on to sanding. After you sand with a coarse grit, wipe away any dust and then sand with a fine grit to give your wood a smooth finish. Then wipe away any more dust and you should be ready to pre-stain and then stain. Pre-staining is super important to ensure your stain goes on nice and even.

Products used:

My DIY kitchen makeover!

About a month ago I decided I had enough with our dated kitchen. It was so drab and dark, and I never felt comfortable in there. My husband and I talked a lot about our kitchen for the last 2 years we've been in the house. We know we want to gut it. We want to change the entire lay out and knock down some walls including a load bearing wall which is a HUGE project. Pricey probably doesn't even begin to describe what our kitchen dreams would be like. So we knew it would be a project put on hold. Also our kitchen wasn't THAT bad. OK, aesthetically yes, it was depressing, but functionally it was actually decent. Our cabinets are original and in fabulous shape, someone somewhere along the lines did add in a newer granite counter top and stainless steel sink and even though I would have never chosen the two, it still is updated and in great shape. Also our appliances while a bit dated, are not original and totally fully functional. So I decided a face lift is what it needed. So I got to work!

AND NOW!

This make over took me about a week to complete. I used Nuvo one day Cabinet Makeover and even though it states you can do this in 8 hours, that's pretty much impossible if you want a really well done outcome. I did this SOLO as well so that added some time to the whole thing. These are the steps I followed:

  • Remove hardware, doors, and hinges. If you are going to re-use your hardware make sure to put them in baggies and label them clearly. I was not planning to re-use so I just tossed them all in a baggie together
  • Fill old holes and drill new holes for new hardware (if using new hardware) before sanding. I didn't do that. I sanded first then drilled the next day so I had to go back and re-sand. Not fun. Also if you want a really easy way to drill new holes with perfect precision, use a template like this one to measure for you. Saves time and stress!
  • Clean the frames and doors thoroughly with something like TSP.
  • Sand your cabinet frame and doors with a fine grit sand paper.
  • Clean everything again to remove dust.
  • After this I was ready to paint! You can prime them first. I didn't, but I would have if I hadn't forgotten to buy the primer during one of my 10 different trips to home depot! ugh.

I gave my cabinets 3 coats of paint. I did one coat a night. Spreading it out like that is really unnecessary, but it helped me keep my sanity. I felt less pressure and was 100% sure it would be dry when applying the next coat. Thankfully I was able to lay out all my doors in the basement so they weren't all in the way upstairs. It all sounds like more work than it was. In reality I felt like this was a very easy project, just a bit time consuming. The hard part came when trying to re-install the doors on the frames. I was using new hinges and since my cabinets are super old I couldn't find the right ones at any hardware store. I had to order them online. And even those were not a 100% perfect fit. But I managed to drill new holes even after everything was painted, and there was little to no damage done to my precious paint work. My tip: test your new hinges before painting anything and if new holes need to be drilled, do it first! As for installing the handles and pulls, when reading reviews on the hinges I purchased, a lot of people said they had to buy new screws to fit because their doors were thicker or thinner. Mine were a perfect fit. Just test all new hardware first!

  I have to say I liked the Nuvo cabinet paint. I'm not an expert painter so I don't have much to compare it to, but for me it worked. It dried fast, it was nice and thick so you didn't have to apply a ton of coats to hide a darker cabinet. 3 coats worked fine for me. Another tip, the paint kit comes with a roller and a brush. The brush will be streaky and uneven and you will need more than 3 coats of paint to cover a darker cabinet like mine, and the roller will leave tiny little bubbles/bumps. What I did was I applied each coat with the roller then smoothed out the bubbles with the brush. It worked like a charm! I got a nice smooth and even coat all over!

Here are my sources for this kitchen:

  • Cabinet Paint: Nuvo Cabinet Kit in Titanium White: $70 (I bough two kits, but I only needed one)
  • Drawer pulls: $2.19 each. This was a total STEAL compared to what you find elsewhere. And these are heavy solid metal! I highly recommend this brand of hardware.
  • Bar Handle: $24.75 for a 5 pack: Another total STEAL!
  • Hinges: Make sure you buy the correct hinge for your cabinet and test them first!
  • Rug: this was an ebay find!
  • Vintage Mid Century clock: Another ebay score
  • Reclaimed wood shelves: I found this seller Chris Csonka on etsy and I can not say enough just how wonderful he was to work with. He answered all of my questions, and even used the exact stain I requested (this one is minwax Early American).
  • Handmade Iron shelf bracket: Another Etsy find. This seller was also awesome! The brackets are solid thick, heavy iron. We love them!
  • Mini island/kitchen cart: This one is solid and really well made. It was also very easy to put together. Originally I had planned on purchasing this kitchen island from Ikea and I was just going to stain it, but I found this one during Target's 4th of July furniture sale and the difference in price was minimal, when you added in shipping from Ikea because NO store by me carried stock of them.  Also this one has two shelves AND drawers unlike the Ikea one so it was a no brainer.

And that's it for my DIY Kitchen Makeover!! Hope some of these tips are helpful!

My Baby Must Haves

It's been just about a year since I've had Emerson, and before I had him I spent months pouring over recommendations for baby items and what to register for. Many things I purchased or received as a gift I used but other things I barely used or didn't use at all. After a whole year I think I've come up with a list of items that are a total must have. There are other necessities as well, such as bottles, breast pumps, swaddles, and diapers but there are so many brands and I just felt like the those things can be chosen on preference. These items are ones that I just couldn't foresee myself surviving the first year without. OK, that's dramatic I would have survived but these things just made it a whole lot easier!

Baby Registry Must Haves to get you through the first year and beyond

1. Aiden and Anais Burpy Bibs - I know these things are everywhere, always on the "must have list. But really they are a must have! they are perfect with a new born to burp with and I use them now for when Emerson is eating a smoothie pouch on the go. Saves him from getting food all over his clothes and it's nice and soft!

2. Infantino Squeeze station - This is one of those things you wouldn't know you needed until you have it. Kind of like an automatic car starter. I've used this thing ever since I started feeding Em foods. I would puree the food, use this little station to put the food in the baggies and then freeze. Now I use the station for smoothies! I can see myself using this for a long time to come.

3. Squooshi reusable food pouches - These things are great! I HATE wastefulness. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in life. I even have re-usable zip lock bags that's how much I hate it. So these bags are great! I've been using them over and over since Em was 4 months old and they hold up great and don't leak! If your going to use the baggies for your baby to feed him or herself with, make sure to get the spouts too!

4. Boppy baby lounger - We had the Mamaroo, a bouncy chair, a bassinet, a vibrating thing, but THIS thing was a life savor. For some reason my son hated the mamaroo till about 4 months or so. He also hated being flat on his back so this pillow lounger was perfect for him. It kept him at a slight incline so he was comfy and it was small and compact I just took it everywhere with me.

5. Ergo Baby carrier - I did not have this one. I had the Baby Bijorn, and the K-tan sling. But I wish I had gotten this one instead. I loved my K-tan sling but I could only use it for a few months. The Bijorn is complicated and kills my back. I recommend the Ergo over the others.

6. LeSportsac travel set- I hate diaper bags. I've been through 3! I've only found one that is semi decent but that one just goes back and forth to my Nanny's because it's really not that cute. In the end I started using a Louis Vuitton speedy 40 or a big tote. These little pouches are great for organizing. I use the largest size to hold all his diaper changing stuff and the smallest bag for first aid type stuff and the medium size I throw in a change of clothes or some toys.

7.  Safety 1st Bath Tub - The is our second baby bath tub. Our first one was great but was meant for him to just lay in where the water just hit underneath him. Once he started sitting up we needed something that he could sit in, move around in, and pay a little like a real bath. Our tub was still too big for him but this was just perfect. In the end I wish we had registered for this instead of the infant bath because this comes with the infant seat as well.

8. Nose Frida - Way better the bulb aspirators. So easy. My son still hates it no matter what but this does the job.

9. Munchkin Sound Projector - This machine does way more than just play sounds but I only use it for the ocean sound. My reason for putting this on my list is that it has an option for continuous play. Which is great! My son wakes up if it happens to go off so to have it play continuously is key! I'm sure there are others that do this but this one is the one I have and it's perfect.

10. Levana Oma - This device gives a new parent peace of mind. You clip it on your baby's diaper and It alerts you if there is no movement after 15 seconds. I wouldn't have gotten even a wink of sleep in those first few months if it wasn't for this thing.

11. Halo Quilted sleep sack - These sleep sacks are great for when transitioning out of the swaddle. They keep baby warm and cozy. My son sleeps so much better with this on.

12. Jelly Cat - These stuffed animals are so unbeliveably soft. My son has a few but he loves his bunny and doggy. They really do help him sleep better! He rubs it all over his eyes when hes sleepy and snuggles it in bed. Plus they have the cutest animals!

13. Ciao baby portable high chair - I did not register for this chair but my boss gave it to us at my shower and it's one of the best gifts we've received. It's small enough to leave in the car and bring anywhere and everywhere. We use it ALL THE TIME.

14. Baby Zen Yoyo "umbrella" stroller - This is the best stroller invention ever. This thing folds up to the size of carry on luggage and even has a tote strap built in for easy carrying. It's super light weight and unfolds in the snap of a wrist. Literally, it unfolds like a yoyo! We purchased this one because we would be traveling and while I love my City Select it's just way to complicated for traveling.

15. Guava Lotus Travel bed - Also something I'd consider a best invention ever! It takes literally 2 minutes to unfold and fold away. It's SUPER light weight and it's all breathable mesh. We use this everywhere we go. We used it while on vacation recently and it made nap time on the beach and by the pool super easy. I recommend buying the sunshade and the quilted sheet with it as well. If you are going to purchase one use this code to get a free cotton sheet!  http://guavafamily.refr.cc/CBP6KLF  It's also on promo right now for $60 off! Go scoop one up!

Bone Broth

We're deep into cold and flu season and I've already been sick twice! Just a common cold so it hasn't been the worst but not fun either. My Husband NEVER gets sick. It's beyond me how we can share a bed and he is immune to it. He decided we needed some good old bone broth to boost our (my) immunity and help cure me of my sickness. Now if you don't know just what bone broth is, it's basically just what the name says; the broth of animal bones. There is an abundance of benefits of bone broth. It's rich in minerals and antioxidants, It helps digestion, boosts immunity, and detoxifies, and it's plain old delicious on cold winter days. Here's my husband's recipe. You can sub any animal bones for the ones he used but make sure it's from a healthy animal. Grass fed and organic is best to get the best nutrients out of it. We happen to like beef more than chicken because you get a more dense flavorful broth. Also you get a nice gelatinous broth with beef. That may sound weird, but when the broth gels, that means you've really sucked all the marrow out of the bones which is just what you want!

Broth Straining
Broth with Fat
bone broth
bone broth soup

What you need:

  1. 2-3 medium sized beef bones (a butcher may even give you these for free!)
  2. Veggies- large carrot, turnip, celery, ect.. (basically any veggies that work for you)
  3. 3-4quarts of water (enough to cover the bones)
  4. 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  5. slow cooker

Add all the ingredients above and cook on low for 24 hrs (yes really 24 hrs). When it's all done you'll have this delicious smelling dark amber liquid. I don't care for the animal fat that gets released so I let it chill in the fridge over night and allow the fat to harden. In the morning I just break up the fat and strain it all out (you can, if you like, save the fat for cooking). This stuff is delicious and it can be used to make so many other dishes. I even add it to my 9 month old's baby food. My husband takes cold shots of the gelatin in the mornings, I add it to smoothies but my favorite way to have it, is to sip it nice and hot! Here are my favorite toppings for the perfect cup of hot bone broth:

  1. Chives
  2. Dash of turmeric
  3. Sprinkle of salt
  4. Thyme
  5. Cilantro
  6. Avocado.

The perfect winter treat!

Two Thousand Fifteen

         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

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

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!