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.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Guide Sign Up Info for Bloggers

Today I would like to share with my fellow bloggers a unique opportunity for your blog this holiday season. I have got myself all signed up and invite you to join me in participating in the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide!


Bloggers 2014 Holiday Gift Guide Sign Up

Bloggers sign up Today to get listed on the "2014 Holiday Gift Guide" that will roll out full force Oct 25 thru Dec 25, 2014. Many bloggers will be participating so it's going to be huge !
Right now Sign up is Free and Limited !
** Why Should you Sign Your Blog Up?**
Most of the Businesses that have listings on here are ones who hire bloggers for Reviews and PR Jobs throughout the year, so it's a great way to get noticed as a PR Blogger and get on the Reps Blogger Lists for when they have reviews and sponsor post jobs, etc.
** Does My Blog have to be a Big Blog **
NO - this is the great part, any size blog , any niche is welcome. The only restriction we have is, your blog can not have pornograph
ic material on it. If it does - Do not sign up - we are Family Friendly ! ** Where will my Link to my Blog Be Seen **
We will have a page specific listing " PR Friendly Bloggers " on the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide Web Site - Visible to all on the landing page and other guide pages. Your Link will be linked to your blog or media kit page (your choice). This Gift guide will be promoted by many bloggers, as well as the businesses on their sites and social media too during the 2 months. Also we may even feature YOUR Blog in our Special Mailings from time to time.

** Perks **
  • PR Marketers for Businesses See Your Page - These are the people who Hire Bloggers to promote Products for reviews, sponsor posts, ambassador programs, etc- all year long !
  • There will be special giveaway promotions during this time , Fun Secret Santa for Bloggers Only. ++
** HOW DO I SIGN MY BLOG UP** Click HERE to Sign UP Today ! 

MBCN link up!

 
Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the Mom Bloggers Club Network chat yesterday. It was my first time being involved in a club chat like that and felt like a lot of us are in the same spot with getting our blogs and businesses recognized. In order to do a bit of networking, meet other Moms, and grow our readership, I've compiled a list of everyone I could find that participated in the chat and sent their link (do let me know if I've left you out and send me your info!).

If you aren't a member of the Mom Bloggers Club head on over now and sign up today!

Danielle (me)
(other social networking links are in the menu bar above and also the right side bar)

Amanda

Ashleigh

Brandyn

Bunny

Crystal

Debra

Deedra

Erin
 Hannah

Heather

Hope

Jhanis

Jill

Jules

Kimberly

Kristal

Mike

Natosha

Nicole

Samantha

Sarah

Sean

Sonia

Stephanie

Stephanie

Sylvia

Viktoria

 Enjoy all of your new favorite blogs!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

FoodieFriday: Stove Top Apple Crisp


I would like to take this time to officially welcome the Autumn season... I think. You never really know with this New England weather. Anyway, it's always been a toss up for me on whether Summer or Autumn is my favorite season. Growing up it was always Summer hands down, because I despise being cold and will go to great lengths to avoid it, and I love soaking up the summer sun and getting an amazing tan out of it (and the fact that my birthday is in July helps a bit too!).

As I've gotten older, I've really come to appreciate nature's Autumnal beauty. The colors can be breathtaking and I've found much solace in leaf peeping as soon as foliage turns (I'm sorry if you're not from New England and have no idea what "leaf peeping" is, you are surely missing out). I can't wait to get Liana outside for walks in the Autumn air (all bundled up of course) and watch her gaze at the new leaves.

In addition to leaf peeping, Autumn also lets us break into our fabulous boot collection and cozy up in our oh-so-soft scarves and sweaters while sipping on some warm apple cider. And it goes without saying that our recipes are now trending with apple and pumpkin deliciousness and spiced up with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Yum!


I have been trying to plan for the past few weeks what my first Autumn recipe would be and I almost settled on baking an apple pie for the first time when I saw Hannah Maggs' home baked apple pie recipe (I was only slightly disappointed that she used store bought pastry crust instead of homemade), but I decided to try out something a little different. You may have had apple crisp baked in the oven, but have you had it cooked on the stove top? Neither had I... Until now.

Today's amazing creation is brought to you with the help of Julie Johnson from the cooking station at Whole Foods Market in South Weymouth! This scrumptious appley dish is the perfect dessert to end my no sugar challenge (there is no added sugar in this recipe!) as well as welcome the beautiful crisp Autumn season. --- See what I did there? Crisp? I know, I'm spending too much time around Ashton...


Let's gather our ingredients!

1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups vanilla granola (I had vanilla almond on hand)
3 honeycrisp apples, cored and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

First we'll need to core and slice the apples.


We can put these in an airtight container in the refrigerator for now, so they don't go brown.

Now mix 1/2 cup of the apple cider with the corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.


Next let's heat our skillet over medium high heat and toast the granola. We have to first melt the coconut oil, and then add the granola. We'll stand by stirring continuously until our granola is toasted and golden brown.


Smells good already!

Next, we move the granola to a bowl and set aside. Let's add our apples, the remaining apple cider, vanilla and cinnamon.


We'll turn the heat down a bit and pop on a lid to let it simmer. As the apples become just tender, add the cornstarch slurry and heat until the mixture is thickened.


I bet your house is filled with a warm Autumnal scent by now!

We can now transfer our skillet of deliciousness to a serving dish or storing dish.


Sprinkle the top with the toasted granola and enjoy!


This apple crisp would be delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or my current favorite, Almond Dream's Praline Crunch ice cream. Mmmm. If you don't happen to finish it all in one sitting (kidding, kind of..) it can be stored at room temperature on the counter for 2-3 days. I know some people swear by refrigerating it, but I don't since the 'crisp' might get soggy (I think apple crisp with added sugar should be refrigerated due to the bacteria that can grow from the combination of the apples and refined sugar).

Now that I've mentioned it, you probably only just noticed that this recipe does not call for any additional sugar. Although I officially ended my 'no sugar challenge' yesterday, I still think it is important to avoid large amounts of sugar when I can. Apples already have natural sugar, so I didn't see a necessity for added sugars--and it is still mouthwatering without it!

Do let me know if you try out this recipe in the comments or by using #RecipebyDanielle on twitter or instagram! xx






Recipes and Ramblins with the Tumbleweed Contessa

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sara's Fashion Flower Girl Dress Review



On an ordinary morning off from work, I plop Liana in her high chair while I prepare her bottle and my breakfast and we will sit side by side and enjoy our meals. On this particular morning I was too afraid this would be the last of the warm sun for the season and decided breakfast outside might be nice. I opened the front door to let some air in and the package on the front step caught my eye. I saw that it was addressed to me and I immediately tore it open like a kid on Christmas morning. It was a beautiful dress for my five year old cousin Natalia. A huge grin spread across my face and I began imagining the pictures I wanted to take of her in it.


The dress: Two Tone Satin Bodice Champagne Dress by Sara's Fashion

The top of the dress is comprised of a pale cream tone satin piece that overlaps a champagne satin piece for an elegantly styled sleeveless surplice v-neck bodice. This is met in the midsection with a horizontal strip of champagne satin and pulled together with two voluminous satin flowers, one pale cream and one champagne colored. The flowers are pinned on for easy removal or rearranging. We were debating if we should take some photos with the pale cream flower in her hair and leaving the champagne one, but decided to photograph the dress just as it came. From the midsection, the dress flares out in a ballgown style with a pale cream satin "slip" underneath and two layers of sheer netting flowing over it down to the champagne satin trim at the bottom.


The back of the dress is a single tone pale cream satin with a zipper up the middle and a pale cream cord to tie a bow at the waist.

The Photo Shoot: Natalia Christiana

Fast forward a few days and Liana and I were heading two and a half hours up to New Hampshire to deliver the dress and prepare for a photo shoot with Natalia! My aim was to get a few good shots of the dress because of how gorgeous it was, some candid shots for my blog, and also some portraits that could be used for Natalia's school photos. My model did not disappoint!



Natalia LOVES this dress. She was actually the one who chose it off of the website, even though her Mom and my Mom were both trying to talk her into other dresses. She said it was comfortable, as I can imagine with the satin fabric and soft outer netting. Natalia would normally fit in a dress size 4/5, but we decided to measure her according to the Sara's Fashion sizing charts, just to be sure. It's a good thing too, because according to the chart we ordered a size 4 (the dress tag says 3/4) and it seems to fit her well.


The shoot must have lasted a couple of hours, but I honestly could have snapped photos of her all day. I had some particular poses in mind, but so did Natalia! She says, "okay one like this" and would throw a pose, "and one like this." I think she's been secretly modeling in front of a mirror. Then she says, "I want to do a shy one," and brings her chin down as she curls her arms to her chest and lifts a knee to hide her foot behind her other leg. What the heck? She's five! Where did she come up with this?



When I asked Natalia if she liked the dress, she said it was her "princess dress" and she asked if she could wear it to school. She loves the dress so much, that she had me chasing her around the yard for several hours while she posed for more photos. The shoot went well enough for us to end up with around three hundred and fifty shots! Of course a few were of her little sister Riley, who jumped into her cute Hello Kitty dress when she knew we were taking pictures. Such little cuties Megan and Dan have. :)


What really brought this photo shoot together and made it such a success was this beautiful dress! Sara's Fashion has a wide selection of stunning dresses, but Natalia definitely had a good eye for choosing a dress that is very flattering on her. When I have to buy Liana a dress for formal events in the future, I will definitely start with Sara's Fashion.


If you'd like to see more photos from the shoot, visit my blog again soon. I am going to showcase a good amount of them on one page and put a link in the menu bar above (I'll create a link in this post as well when they are up). I don't want to put them up before Megan sees them and chooses which ones she'd like to use for Natalia's school photos though.


And please, any tips for future photo shoots would be very much appreciated! I'm thinking a Halloween shoot might be in order. :)







** I was not paid to write this review, however, I was kindly offered the product for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are explicitly my own, and I would never positively endorse a product unless I truly love and enjoy it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

FoodieFriday: Berry Sprouted Cereal | Elimination Diet

I recently finished up a series of healthy eating workshops at Whole Foods (South Weymouth) with our Healthy Eating Specialist, Sarah Howes. I'm not going to reiterate everything that I learned, but I will show you how I am applying it. One of our sessions focused on elimination diets--simply put,  removing a certain food from our diet to see how our body responds. We also briefly covered ways that sugar and flour are heavily integrated into our everyday diet and how our body uses and stores these foods. Combining these two elements, I have decided to do a no sugar elimination diet for 23 days.

I can tell already that this is going to be quite the task for me, as I have accidentally slipped up already. I meant to start on September 1st, but in the midst of having guests over I quickly scarfed down my Thai basil and edamame veggie burger without a thought. Where was the sugar? In the roll! Ugh, why didn't I think of that? With attempt #2 on the following day, I specifically picked out the yummiest sugar free lunch but what ruins my meal? A ketchup packet! :( By September 3rd, I realized that sugar is pretty tricky and I must be more careful.

So far I have made it three whole days sugar free! It doesn't sound like much, but I honestly never realized how much sugar I consume. This challenge is already so eye opening for me and I can't wait to see what else I learn.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *


Berry Sprouted Cereal

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Almond Cereal
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup Almond Breeze almond milk

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss lightly, an enjoy!

Review

Okay, I made this one up really quickly, but I wanted to think of a nutritious sugar free way to start off my day. I needed something that would give me energy to entertain Liana, while cooking, cleaning, and running errands. This was the perfect breakfast, and so delicious!

The Ezekiel cereal is a combination of organic sprouted wheat, organic malted barley, organic almonds, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted millet, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted soybeans, and organic sprouted spelt. Sprouted grains are easier for the body to break down and absorb the most nutrients, compared to regular grains.


Let me know if you've tried this cereal before, or if you've done your own elimination diet!


Friday, August 29, 2014

FoodieFriday: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

I have been terribly slacking on my FoodieFriday posts, but I promise I've made some delicious treats! The recipe I am sharing today isn't a Health Starts Here recipe, but it has definitely become a favorite in my home. These buffalo cauliflower bites are a healthy alternative to a traditional buffalo chicken appetizer. Now, don't be turned off by the cauliflower even if you know you dislike it--I was convinced I hated cauliflower before I tried a similar recipe! They are very easy to make, with only a little prep work so I don't have to wait until Liana is napping to prepare it. I have made it a couple different ways and am going to share two variations.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *


Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (without breading)

Serves 2
 
1 head cauliflower, separated into small florets (or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower)
1/3 cup buffalo sauce
1 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
dash of black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
2. Spread the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden (bake longer for frozen florets).
3. Combine sauce, buttery spread and spices.
4. Place cauliflower in a medium bowl and add the buffalo mixture. Toss to evenly coat florets.
5. Transfer the cauliflower back to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes to absorb the sauce.
6. Place with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *


Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (with breading)

Serves 2
 
1 head cauliflower, separated into small florets (or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower)
1/3 cup buffalo sauce
1 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
dash of black pepper
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs or panko crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
2. Spread the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden (bake longer for frozen florets).
3. Combine sauce, buttery spread and spices.
4. Place cauliflower in a medium bowl and add the buffalo mixture. Toss to evenly coat florets.
5. One at a time, place a sauce covered floret into the bread crumbs and roll around to cover thoroughly.
5. Transfer the cauliflower back to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes to absorb the sauce and let the bread crumbs provide a crispy coating.
6. Place with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

Review

I am absolutely in LOVE with this recipe. I'm a huge fan of spice and buffalo tenders used to be a favorite of mine before I became vegan. Buffalo cauliflower bites are a nice alternative and a good way to work another vegetable onto your plate without that "ugh, I have to eat a vegetable" feeling. With the breading they are crispy on the outside, but still tender on the inside. I literally crave these now!

Alterations

Don't be afraid to come up with your own substitutions! I've changed it up several times, using vegan mayo instead of the buttery spread to give it a creamier taste when I'm not using a dipping sauce, or changing up the spices that I had to give it more or less of a "kick".


Leave a comment if you want to try this recipe or share some alterations that you have tried!






Link up your recipe of the week

Monday, August 25, 2014

Liana's four month update

 
I feel like a broke record when I write these updates, repeating how I can't believe how much time has passed and how big Liana is getting. Mothers always say "they grow so fast" and "these are the days you'll miss when they're older." And I know exactly what they mean. I see mums bring their newborns into my work and I think, "I remember when Liana was that small" and I miss it. I loved how tiny and fragile she seemed. I loved watching her sleep and kissing her face all smooshed up against my chest. I loved her tiny newborn clothes and waiting for her first smile.


I would never want to rewind or slow down time, though. Babies grow so rapidly and are constantly learning new things. Liana literally keeps me on the edge of my seat with what to expect next. I've seen her first smile, her first laugh, her first time rolling over, standing up on her feet, cooing, reaching for objects she wants, and resting her hands on her feet to attempt to sit up on her own.


Next will come actually sitting up on her own, responding to cause and effect games (like peek-a-boo), getting her first taste of solid food, developing an understanding of associations, sleeping in her own room, etc. I can't wait to experience her "firsts" with her and watch her little personality blossom.


Currently we are working on getting her to sit up on her own. Liana still does tummy time to strengthen muscles (by having to lift her head/neck/shoulders), improve coordination (by grabbing for toys in front of her), and promote mobility (by trying to get objects out of her reach or turn toward a noise). I also give her plenty of time to practice actually sitting. I will help her by holding her hands for balance, putting a pillow behind her (which she usually tries pulling her self away from so she can sit up even more), or resting her hands on her feet while she sits leaning forward (i have a clip of this for her next video!).


I love trying to show her new things, but I'm trying to be patient and let her figure certain things out on her own. I am starting to offer her more toys so she can choose what she wants to explore and play with. She always looks so thoughtful and I can tell when she is really trying to figure something out because her eyebrows will scrunch together and she won't lose focus unless I literally pull her away. She focuses a lot when she plays with the toys on her new exersaucer.


After sitting up on her own, I think our next feat will be letting her sleep in her own room (eek!---sad mummy day) and letting her taste real food! Those will probably be between 5-6 months though. But I am so excited!

Check out a clip of Liana's laughing fit this week:




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day with Grammy and Auntie Deasha!

 



 

My mom and sister came to visit and spend the day with us on Monday. Liana was so excited! She insisted on wearing her adorable little flower dress that she finally fits into so she could show off for her Auntie Deasha.




 
We had a nice chatty girl's afternoon, playing with Liana and eating some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before heading out to the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. It was our first time at this particular park, so we didn't know what to expect. We found a lot of hiking trails, which I was excited about, but they are not stroller friendly! I would love to return there for a mini hike with Liana in her carrier and to bring her to the wading pool. I'm sure she would love the water and seeing the other kids playing.





After a failed attempt at one of the hiking trails, we walked around the perimeter of the picnic area and found a nice shady table to feed Liana before packing up to go home.





Lastly, we fit in the inevitable photoshoot of Liana and Auntie Deasha!





It was such a beautiful day for them to visit and I'm glad they got to spend time with Liana. I want her to grow up spending a lot of time with her family because you never realize how important family is until you're grown up. 





Obviously kids will be kids, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have complained about going to family gatherings and would have soaked up all the time I could with my cousins. We're over a hundred miles away from most of my family and recently I've been really feeling it. I miss my family and hope to be closer to them some day.

Xx