Birthday Surprises!

Ashton surprised me with Liana's first trip to the beach! Check out the video of our day!

Grammy and Auntie Come To Visit

Grammy and Auntie come down from New Hampshire and we take Liana on a bumpy ride in the woods!

Ani's three month update.

How have three months gone by already?! Check out Liana's newest photos and read about her developmental updates!

Six week photo shoot

Enjoy Liana's latest photo shoot with a 'soot sprite theme', as well as her six week updates!

Liana's birth story

Read through my diary as I undertake one of the most magical moments of my life: giving birth! This is the story of a natural unmedicated childbirth experience as told by a first time mum.

Friday, December 12, 2014

FoodieFriday: Lasagna Roll Ups


I came across this simple twist on a traditional hearty meal that is good all year round, but makes those chillier Autumn and Winter evenings just a bit more comfy. I also have an amazing recipe for this yummy comfort food in it's traditional form, but today I want to share a new perspective. And it may just be a bit more convenient too!

Lasagna Roll Ups

Serves 12
 
Ingredients
1 cup whole raw almonds
2 tbsp buffalo sauce
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/4-1 3/4 cup almond milk
1 cup whole raw cashews
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 jar mixed vegetable pasta sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 large diced portobello caps
1 package extra firm tofu

Cheeses
Trying to be a healthy vegan, I went the long way around with the cheese. I could have very easily used some of the Daiya cheese shreds that I have in the fridge, but I decided to make my own cheeses!


1. Almond cheese- Blend almonds, buffalo sauce, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, onion powder and 3/4-1 cup almond milk until slightly lumpy.

2. Cashew cheese- Blend cashews, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, minced garlic, white wine vinegar, and 1/2-3/4 cup almond milk until creamy.


Sauce
I will admit, I did take a little shortcut with the sauce; it isn't completely homemade. I justify this with the mentality that taking a shortcut with the sauce is healthier than taking a shortcut with the cheeses. And it's a bit hard to watch a baby and spend the whole day in the kitchen.

3. Combine the mixed vegetable pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes and portobello mushrooms.

Tofu filling
I don't usually add tofu when I make lasagna, but I did so just to plump these up a bit and it actually gave them an amazing texture.



4. Crumble the tofu and sprinkle in salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper to taste.

Assembly
This part took a bit of practice, but it turned out to be fun once I got the hang of it. And assembling it as roll ups rather than as layers in a casserole dish makes it easier to serve later on. Instead of trying to cut each piece individually and watching the middle layers slide a part, just scoop out a roll up!


5. Layer the bottom of a 13 x 9" backing dish with sauce.


6. Lay out several wet noodles on a slightly damp surface.


7. Drop bits of each filling (sauce, cashew cheese, almond cheese, tofu mixture, sauce) onto the pasta.


8. Roll each one up and place them in the dish on top of the sauce. Don't worry about them looking neat or fitting perfectly. Just squish them in there!


9. Cover the roll ups with the remaining sauce. Be sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Sprinkle with some Italian herbs and finally, top each with any remaining cheese.
 
Baking
This is the part where you get to relax and go spend some time with your child that was probably bugging you the whole time you were in the kitchen.


10. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. The cheese should be slightly browned and the roll ups warm throughout.

Eat it!
The best part! Use a spatula to simply scoop out a roll up, and enjoy!


Let me know if you try out this recipe by using #RecipeByDanielle on facebook, instagram, or twitter.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Birthday at the beach with the Hernandez sisters!


The three Hernandez sisters! For those unaware, I am on the left, Desiree is in the middle, and Deasha on the right.

This photo was taken on Desiree's 21st birthday, so that makes it... May 6, 2008? I remember this day so well. Desiree really wanted to go to the beach for her birthday, and we were determined to get an early start. Of course we didn't, because we all took forever getting ready. We eventually headed to Hampton Beach (which is a good hour drive at least) and I remember it being quite a warm day for early May. It took us a bit to find parking, but we managed to get a pretty decent spot. After soaking up the sun on the beach, we contemplated cruising on the boardwalk before heading home. Whatever we decided, we went to the car to drop off our towels, which is when we realized Desiree had locked her keys in the car! A hilarious moment, but at the time we were unsure of what to do. We called Mom and she told us to call the police. The police came and we had to pay for them to basically break into Desiree's car. We were so embarrassed (and probably very annoyed) at the time, but we had a laugh about it on the way home.

With the digital world becoming so popular, I'm afraid we are leaving the days of print behind us. This is one of the last pictures that I actually got printed from developing an actual roll of film! I will cherish this for a long time. I love and miss my sisters daily.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Little Minion ♥


Liana just didn't want to sit still for any of these photos! She kept crawling across the floor into my lap (the woes of a baby becoming mobile). Her Grammy made this hat and scarf set especially for her and she won't even let me take a proper photo to show them off! She is such a little cutie, and looks absolutely adorable in her minion attire. She was also getting very sneaky, pulling herself up to stand next to the table... I think she was trying to get into something up there. I don't think you can tell too well, but there is a cute pink bow in the hair of the minion. And my mom made the scarf without any pattern at all! She's so talented. Liana looks forward to many more hats to model from Grammy's collection. :)


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I don't do...


coffee. I know, I know, I'm a mom and I don't drink coffee. It's because I got lucky and have a baby that actually likes to sleep ten hours at night!

dentist appointments. I know I should, but I just don't. I want to cry every time I even think about making an appointment.

tax filing. My mom still does it for me. (Thanks Mom!)

paid smartphone apps. There are way to many good free ones out there to justify paying for an app!

soda or fast food, on a regular basis. I drink soda maybe once per month (usually less than that) and stop at a fast food restaurant probably only a handful of times per year.

the flu shot. It's pointless, really.

karaoke. I wish I was brave enough, but sadly, I'm too self conscious.

holding grudges. I've learned that the only person this hurts is myself. It is much easier to be happy if I just let things go and besides, people can change. I know I wouldn't want to be judged for something I did 10 years ago (I was 16 so I'm sure I was a little shit).

tanning salons. I'm not willing to pay for a chance to get skin cancer.

cigarettes. Just gross. And I wouldn't date anyone who smoked cigarettes either.
movies with excessive torture. Even if someone 'deserves' it, I can't stand to watch any being (animal or human) being hurt.

meat, dairy, eggs or honey. Animals are friends, not food!

leather, silk or wool. I don't believe in exploiting animals either.

pacifiers. I never wanted to give Liana a pacifier and I am so glad she doesn't like them. I literally hate seeing kids that are four years old with a pacifier stuck in their face.

medications. By this I mean your everyday meds for headaches or even menstrual cramps like- ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc (pain reliever/fever reducer). I try not putting anything chemical into my body.

exercise. Haha, I am so not proud of this one! I wish I had time to get into a routine.

google chrome. ??? Just use firefox.

sports. I'm just not into any of them. I can watch a game if it's on, but I can't follow a whole season or say I'm a fan of any specific team.

candy crush, farmville, or any of those other crappy facebook games. Nobody got time for that shit. (So stop inviting me to play!!)

paying for photos. I have a camera and a printer, I'll just do it myself for free.



What is it that you DON'T do?

 

Monday, December 8, 2014

TWITTER!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Unwrapping & Review of 'The Fair One' -- a handmade makeup bag by Hannah Maggs (Maggs London)


I first found out I was pregnant in September of last year. It was unexpected, so I immediately googled all things related to pregnancy and babies. I came across a fascinating niche of bloggers and vloggers that, without there actually being a rule, seemed to belong to an exclusive club that you weren't allowed to enter (or ask about) until you become a Mom. I sincerely mean that. There were Moms that responded to innocent questions with a protective growl, and I equated them to lionesses guarding their territory. But they didn't know that I was only there out of curiosity, not to judge them. So for a while I silently followed a few mummy bloggers, unaware that I would be one of them some day.


One of the first women I came across was about my age and pregnant with her first. I found out I was due in April and read that she was due in January, so I decided to bookmark her blog. Flash forward a few months and I found myself simply addicted to her blog. I literally checked for updates every time I was online. Around when her son Grayson was born, she began paying more attention to her YouTube channel and I began watching her videos religiously every Sunday night. I loved that she let her personality show through in her blog posts and that she wasn't afraid to be herself on camera, despite being a shy person underneath it all. I cry every time I see her birth video and I laugh every time I see Mr. G showing the camera his 'poo face'.

http://hannahmaggs.co.uk

Some of you may know this beauty, baby, and lifestyle blogger and vlogger as the lovely, Hannah Maggs. Hannah recently opened a shop called Maggs London that features her very own line of exclusive make up bags, each uniquely sewn with care with limited edition fabrics from Liberty London. Her line originally launched with bags of four distinct patterns which she named herself, dedicating each of them to what she values most in her life.

http://maggslondon.co.uk

With the opening of her shop, Hannah also ran a giveaway on her Facebook page to award her fans with a chance to win one of her exclusive bags. It was just after my birthday and I thought, "this would be the best birthday present ever!" so I entered for a chance to win. To be honest, I forgot about the giveaway shortly after because I figured with the amount of entries, the odds weren't ever in my favor.

https://www.facebook.com/alittlebeautyspot?ref=br_tf

A few weeks later (or so it seemed, I can't remember exactly at this point), I woke up to my alarm blaring in my ear and after turning it off, I began browsing my email. I saw a subject line that read "You've won!" and almost deleted it, thinking it was spam. When I saw Hannah Maggs as the sender I literally shot out of my bed and said "No way!" I had won the giveaway and she was asking which make up bag I'd like to claim. Although I had been on her shop site many times day dreaming about owning one of her glorious bags, I suddenly needed to see them all again before I made my choice. I jumped on my computer and read the descriptions of all of her bags from her little shop and confidently chose 'The Fair One'.

http://www.maggslondon.co.uk/

This is what Hannah has to say about 'The Fair One':

"I wanted to name this bag after my beautiful Mum, 'the fair one' is the meaning of her name, Jenny.

The Fair One was the strongest, funniest, most selfless women I have ever known, yet sadly, I'm only truly appreciating this now she is no longer on this little round rock.
makeup bags
I always try to remind myself that if a relationship matters more when someone is gone, we should try to make it matter more now.

It's so easy for us to lose sight of the people and things in life that truly matter to us, so this bag is a dedication to you, Mum, wherever you are. To let you know that I'll always appreciate every tiny thing you did and seemingly insignificant decision you made for me, all the cuddles, laughs, beach walks on rainy days, as well as the support and encouragement you gave me.

You're irreplaceable, unforgettable and I miss you every single day. You've taught me that life is all about the quality and strength of the relationships you nurture.

Without my mum I wouldn't have learnt how to extract the good from a bad situation, or how to truly love the people in my life who are the most important to me. I wouldn't have grown as a person or learnt how to notice and appreciate the tiny things that actually matter, and lastly, I most likely wouldn't be writing these words."




After receiving the parcel from London, I brought it out with us while shooting Liana's Autumn video (you can see her holding onto it for a bit while in the park). We unwrapped it together; I enjoyed smelling my new bag and Liana enjoyed eating the wrapping. Over the past year I have built up a new make up collection of my favorite vegan products and now I have the perfect bag to store them in!

I love the soft, but sturdy fabric and I can only describe the little zipper as "petite." It's just a dainty little thing that works really well with the style of the bag. And the print, I completely adore it! It features random bicycles, boats and other modes of transportation in a thin ink line drawing style with lovely water color flowers overlapping. It's actually quite making me miss Spring at the moment!


This bag is the perfect size too. I don't use a ton of make up in my day to day routine, so this is the perfect size to carry my essentials without even being close to being full. As many others have said while unwrapping their bags for the first time, there is a beautiful scent that was lightly spritzed on prior to packing. If I hadn't won this bag, I probably would have saved up a bit of cash and purchased it after the holidays anyway, but I am so happy to have won 'The Fair One'. It was one of my favorite (belated) birthday presents! Who knows, as Hannah adds to her line I might have to purchase another one for my birthday next year.

If you're interested, please hop on over to Hannah's shop and check out her whole line of gorgeous bags!




Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Mummy Tag!

I had been tagged to do this by a few other Mum's way back, but I completely forgot about it until now! So here's a bit about me through the Mummy tag. :)


1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum, or a Working Mum?
I'm a working Mum, wishing I could stay at home more. I do work full time (37 hours), but am thankful to only have to work four days per week. I get to spend three days home with my peanut!

2. Would you have it any other way?
I actually really like to have a job and be working, I think if I were to stay at home I would become a hermit! Working gets me out of the house, socializing, and having a little separation from Liana that will help with any separation anxiety. I am torn though, because I do wish I could spend more time with her.

3. Do you co-sleep?
I did for the first two months of Liana's life. I loved it actually. I started putting her down in her cuddle cove and eventually her bassinet only because I didn't want to be co-sleeping when I started working again. It worked out really well and by the time I went back to work (I only had 9 weeks of maternity leave) Liana was already sleeping through the night.

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
My 'must-have' item has changed a few times over the past seven months. For the first four months I would have definitely said our carrier, specifically the Moby wrap. Then I think it changed to the toys that first taught her to play independently, like her play gym and then exersaucer. Overall though, no matter what her age, the one must-have item for every Mum should be a camera to capture those moments that will fly by all too quickly.

5. How many kids do you plan on having?
I definitely want two. A third will be a possibility when we get to that point, but two is what I am planning for. I've also said that the only way I'd have four is if the third pregnancy turned out to be twins!

6. Date nights? How often do you have them? 
Not too often, I'm afraid. Ashton and I work pretty opposite schedules (he works M-F 8:30a-4:30p and I work varying times from 7:30a-9:30p on two weekdays and both Sat/Sun) and the only time we are guaranteed to see each other is after 6pm on the three weekdays that I do not work. Or when we take time off for holidays, at which point we spend three hours driving to New Hampshire to see my family. I think a nice date night would be a lovely Christmas gift this year! *Hint hint, Ashton*

7. Your child's favourite show?
Liana used to love watching Top Gear with Daddy, but I sort of stepped in and said she shouldn't be watching TV. I'm not sure how much TV she watches when she spends days with Ashton, but when I am home with her the TV isn't really on that often. I've also noticed that she isn't as interested in it anymore.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had the baby and never ended up using?
Pacifiers. At first I was boycotting them and wouldn't even offer her one until she was three weeks old. By that point, she was never interested even when we tried several times to get her to take one. Fine by us though since she isn't really a whiny baby and tends to soothe herself easily without one.

9. Your child's favourite food?
Besides formula? Probably her veggie rice rusks. She likes food she can hold onto better than purees.

10. How many cars does your family have?
Two, since we both drive to work.

11. Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now?
My pre-pregnancy weight was 119 lbs, I gained 28 lbs - up to 147 lbs, and post-pregnancy I lost 20 lbs and I now weigh 127 lbs. I weigh 8 lbs more than before, but I am happy with it and am not trying to lose the rest.

12. Dream holiday with your kids? 
Probably a trip to Disney when she's a bit older!

13. Dream holiday without your kids?
Finally visiting Puerto Rico, or going back to Hawaii again, although I would definitely want to bring Liana to Hawaii when she is older. Maybe her 21st birthday! (That is the first time I visited).

14. How has your life changed since having kids?
 I still have the same job and work the same amount of hours and have the same friends. But everything I do is with Liana in mind. My whole blog is dedicated to my experience being her Mum! I am constantly thinking about activities I can do with her and places I can take her. She has also makes me realize the true value of family and makes me miss my family more often.

15. Finish the sentence "It makes heart melt when..."
Liana smiles at me. It's so cheesy, but true. Even at seven months old, it is what I love the most.

16. Where do you shop for your kids? 
I got so much stuff at my baby shower that I hadn't really shopped for Liana until very recently. I've gotten toys and a few other items from Walmart, a bunch of clothes for Christmas form Macy's, and a few toys for Christmas from Babies R Us.

17. Favourite make-up and skincare products?
I love the Earth Science almond facial moisturizer. Most of my make-up is by Mineral Fusion, but I did recently score some Pacifica lip tints. And I will forever have a crush on the "none of your beeswax" lip tins from Lush.

18. Huggies or Pampers?
In the beginning, Liana would always leak in Huggies, but she has been okay for the past few months in them. I think I still prefer Pampers though. I'm currently love the cruisers!

19. Have you always wanted kids?
Yep.

20. Best part of being a mum?
Having a sense of pride and purpose every single day. Watching all of the extraordinary things my baby does as she grows and knowing that I created her. Of course there is also the perk of being a member of the exclusive Mummy club!



I'll tag any other Mum out there who wants to participate! Leave a link to your tag post in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out. :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

FoodieFriday: Sweet & Spicy Chili


With Winter lurking just around the corner, the temperature has [literally] dropped over night. As I sat in front of the stove watching the flames with Liana all bundled in my arms, I wished I had something to eat or drink to warm me up. My first thought is always hot cocoa (because I love chocolate and who doesn't have hot cocoa as a staple item in the colder season?), but then I began day dreaming about hearty soups and oh! I had the best idea ever. Let's come up with a new chili recipe!

So of course, I consulted a few of my friends for advice (I googled foodie websites) and borrowed a few tips to make a unique and quite tasty recipe. I don't have a proper name for it so I'm just calling it sweet and spicy chili, which is fine by me because it tastes absolutely divine.


If you've made chili before, you'll know it's actually super simple. There's about five minutes of prep work (unless you're 7 month old is helping, then it's about 30 minutes) and the rest of the time your dish is just chilling out in a crock pot all day.

Let's get to it then, here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
28 oz can chili beans with sauce
15 oz can roman beans, drained
28 oz can chunky tomato sauce
28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
Two 15 oz cans diced white potatoes
8 oz jar hot fire roasted green chili peppers
15 oz apple juice
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp cumin
1/2 chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot, stir and cover (yes, it is that simple).






Cook on high for 1 hour and turn to low for at least 3 more hours. I kept mine on for another 30-40 minutes until we were ready to eat dinner, but you can always switch it to warm after that.

Enjoy with some shredded cheese on top, or a dinner roll (which I did-- before baking them I melted butter over the top and sprinkled them with a bit of habanero salt). I added in the potatoes to make it more hearty (as stated earlier, I was dreaming of hearty soup!), but next time I might also like to add some tofu.


Try out this recipe and use #RecipeByDanielle on facebook, instagram, or twitter! :)


Thursday, December 4, 2014

INSTAGRAM


How about you check me out on instagram??



Sorry for the second self promotion in one week, but there was no way I had time for a blog post today and I really want to keep up my daily posting for Blogmas!

Leave your instagram in the comments and I will follow back :)