Jul 17, 2011

Lula's Dresser

My mother is amazing with furniture. Not to mention, she has great taste. She decided to take a dresser that she found and create a piece of shabby chic art as Tallulah's first piece of furniture. 

For those of you who do not know, Wikipedia defines shabby chic as "a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their age and signs of wear and tear or new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, minimalistic, and feminine feel is emphasized to differentiate it from regular vintage decor; hence the "chic" in the name".

This is the piece she started out with....

And this was the end product....

Perfect for the whimsical bedroom that I envision for my "nugget" when she finally has a room of her own. :)

Jul 15, 2011

Speedy Protein Pasta Bowl

Speedy Protein Pasta Bowl
vegan, makes about 5 servings

1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous + 2 1/2 cups water + dash of salt
1 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T garlic powder
1/4 cup raisins
2 cups frozen organic green peas
1 can white beans
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pepper
2-3 Tbsp Vegenaise (optional) - note, the addition of Vegenaise is not factored into the nutrition label above. It add a nice creamy texture to the pasta.
optional: handful of chopped fresh basil (or your fave dried herbs)


1. Toast the dry couscous in 1 Tbsp of olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat - stir and toast for about 1 minute.

2. Add in the couscous water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes. When the time is up, turn off the heat, but do not remove the lid. Let the pasta sit for another 5 minutes.

3. Lift the lid and fold in the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, raisins, Vegenaise, pepper and canned white beans. The warm pasta will warm the ingredients and create a soft sauce. Fold in fresh basil or herbs (optional).

4. The last step is to gently steam your frozen peas and then fold them into the mixture as well. You can also fold the frozen peas directly into the hot pasta and allow it to heat gently.

5. Serve your pasta warm and with a big spoon! dive in.

Quinoa Mushroom Salad

Serve 1 - Multiply ingredients by amount of people to be served.

1/2 cup Quinoa
1 c. Vegetable Broth
Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
1-2 Springs Fresh Thyme
3 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp EVOO
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Fresh Parsley

1. Rinse Quinoa and place in a med. sauce pan. Add vegetable broth and bring to boil. Simmer over med-low heat for 25-30 minutes or until Quinoa is tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion for 2-3 minutes, add garlic and fry for another minute. Add sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Finally, add Thyme sprigs. Stir fry about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened.

3. In a small bowl, mix cooked Quinoa with olive oil, add mushrooms and tomatoes, mix well. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. Scatter fresh parsley on top and serve.

*You can also try adding other veggies such as snap peas, carrots, baby corn, etc... Have fun with it! Treat your ingredients like a stir fry and it's sure to come out scruptious!

Jul 12, 2011

Avocado Summer Wrap

This is a VEGAN recipe.


Wraps (any variety)
FL Avocado
Tomato (yellow or red)
Sweet Onion
Red Pepper
4 tbsp EVOO
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
Spicy Hummus
Shredded Carrots
Fresh Ground Black Pepper


1. Slice your Avocado into strips after removing skin and pit. Set aside in bowl and coat in lime juice and a pinch of pepper.

2. Slice your veggies and place in a separate bowl and toss with EVOO, maple syrup, splash of lime juice and apple cider vinegar.

3. Warm your wraps in the oven or microwave until soft and pliable.

4. Spread a nice amount of your hummus onto each wrap.

5. Layer Avocado, tomato, onion, pepper, shredded carrot, and a pinch of pepper onto the wrap.

6. Carefully fold your wrap and enjoy!

Quinoa, One of My New Faves

What is Quinoa? I had never even heard of Quinoa until I started researching vegetarian and vegan recipes to add into our diet. Now it is one of my favorite food item to cook with! 

Quinoa is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually a seed. Archeological evidence shows us that it has been consumed for nearly 7000 years. Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Quinoa grains are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains', and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'.

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Quinoa also contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source, unusual among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. Quinoa can also be served as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, berries, or fruit. Which, consequently, is my favorite way of preparing it! Quinoa with soy milk and papaya and cinnamon... YUM!

 Picture courtesy of Babble's The Family Kitchen

Jul 9, 2011

Going Vegan

Becoming Vegans has been on our minds for awhile now. We have done a lot of research, as usual, as to the benefits and how to go about getting the proper nutrition while changing our diet.

Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America.

Just a few benefits include:

Reduced saturated fats
Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. 

That protein is good for your body is no surprise. 
It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein 
and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. 
Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products 
are all great ways to get the right amount of protein.

Disease Prevention
Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases, 
such as:  
Cardiovascular Disease
Blood Pressure 
Type 2 Diabetes  
Prostate & Colon Cancer
Breast Cancer
Arthritis & Osteoporosis
Physical Benefits, such as:
Lower BMIs
Healthy Weight Loss
Higher Energy Levels
Healthier Skin
Longer Life
Better Body Odor & Breath
Stronger, Healthier Hair & Nails
Decreased PMS Symptoms
Migraine Relief
Reduced Allergies

In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides benefits to animals and the environment. 

So there it is, at least, a portion of it. There is so much information out there and research that has been done I obviously couldn't include all of it here. 

On a more personal note, we decided to change over before Tallulah is old enough to be introduced to food. It'll be so much simpler to raise her Vegan if she is never introduced to meat in the first place. After all, she deserves the healthiest start we can give her.

Jul 7, 2011

Gerber Food Recall

IMPORTANT ALERT: Gerber is asking everyone to return all banana baby food expiring 2012; they may contain pieces of glass. Please pass along for all moms and babies safety...Bar Code 76130330897.  
(Yet another reason why I will be making my own baby food when Lula is old enough.)

Jul 6, 2011

The Family Bed

     Mark and I chose to co-sleep with Tallulah before she was even born. This concept, both old and new, is a growing trend in the United States. Out of the many ways co-sleeping can be arranged, we chose the "Family Bed". 
     Many people might argue with this decision, but there are many advantages of this arrangement. Firstly, we have very rarely lost sleep due to a fussing or crying baby (like everyone told us we would). Our baby doesn't lose sleep, either. The baby stirs and almost wakes up at night, but since she is right beside me I am able to nurse or soothe her back to sleep before she fully wakes up. There's no nighttime separation anxiety. No bedtime hassles. There's the ease of breastfeeding during the night - when we are able. Some studies have suggested that co-sleeping helps to protect against SIDS. And, of course, waking up next to a smiling baby is the best benefit. We believe that co-sleeping is the best way to nurture and provide security for our baby.
     Family bed proponents, led by pediatrician and child-development expert Dr. William Sears – the father of a child-rearing philosophy known as “attachment parenting” – are often nursing mothers who say that taking their infants into bed with them not only makes breastfeeding easier, it allows them to be more responsive to their baby’s needs in general.
     The practice of co-sleeping, which certainly encourages bonding and security, has been a cultural norm all over the world for centuries, and it’s still practiced widely outside of North America.
     Despite dire warnings and widespread approbation of the "family bed" in the United States, a growing number of American parents are challenging conventional wisdom each and every night -- with support from a new wave of medical and parenting experts including Dr. William Sears and Minnesota author Tine Thevenin (The Family Bed and Mothering and Fathering), and researchers such as Dr. James McKenna of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Emerging research and anecdotal evidence have demonstrated the many benefits of family sleep-sharing. Scores of modern parents have decided that co-sleeping actually provides a safer, sounder sleep for everyone in the household. While some parents inadvertently fall into the practice after guiltily allowing their kids into their bed and discovering better sleep as the result, others make an informed decision to create a family bed after careful consideration of this controversial nighttime arrangement, as we did.
     I cannot even imagine waking up to Tallulah crying from another room and wondering "how long has she been crying", "how much did I sleep through", or any other thought that would go through my mind. 
     Mark and I are both proponents of attachment parenting and Continuum Concept parenting and our "Family Bed" is an integral part in that. It definitely feels more natural and instinctive than just letting our infant "cry it out". Babies are instinctual. They don't cry in order to manipulate you. They cry when they need something or when something isn't quite right in their world, even if that something is merely that you are not there when they need you to be there. 

Jul 4, 2011

Birthday & Fourth of July Meal

Interestingly, the Declaration of Independence was not signed on the 4th of July it was signed on the 2nd. I'm not sure why we celebrate our independence on the 4th, but we do.

My boyfriend, Mark's, birthday was yesterday (July 3rd) and since we didn't really have any plans for today (July 4th) I decided to cook a nice dinner for his birthday to include Portabello sandwiches with roasted red pepper and mozzarella, cucumber salad and his traditional Pineapple Upside Down Cake for dessert. 

Even though we had this dinner for his birthday you could just as easily make it a 4th of July meal or any summer meal really. Sometimes it's a nice treat to have a meatless meal that is this scrumptious and the cucumber salad is both light and refreshing on a hot day.

Cucumber Salad
4 med. cucumbers, peeled & diced
1 - 8 oz. container vanilla low fat yogurt
1 - 8 oz. container reduced fat sour cream
1/2 c. diced onion (I used red onion)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp dried dill weed
salt & pepper to taste

~ Simply dice everything up and mix together in a bowl and voila!

Portobello Sandwiches - yields 4 sandwiches
1 red bell pepper
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. olive oil
4 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned
4 slices onion
4 kaiser rolls, split
4 tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp roasted garlic, mashed into paste
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 slices tomato
16 fresh basil leaves

~ Preheat an outdoor grill for med-high heat and lightly oil the grate.

~ Place the red bell pepper onto the preheated grill, and grill until the skin is completely charred on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the pepper into a paper bag, seal the bag, and let the pepper cool. When cooled, remove the charred skin, slice the pepper into quarters, and remove the seeds. Thinly slice the pepper and set aside.

~ Mix salt & pepper into the olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the smooth side of the mushrooms with the seasoned oil, and grill, oiled side down, until the mushrooms show grill marks, about 3 minutes. Brush the gill sides of the mushrooms with more oil, flip the mushrooms, and grill until the mushrooms are softened and juicy, about 3 more minutes. Set the mushrooms aside and keep warm.

~ Lightly grill the slices of onion until softened and lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Spread the rolls out onto the grill to toast, about 1 minute. Mix the mayonnaise and roasted garlic in a bowl.

~ Spread each roll with garlic mayonnaise, and make each sandwich with 1 mushroom cap, 1 slice of mozzarella, 1 slice of tomato, 4 basil leaves, some grilled onion, and 1/4 of the roasted red pepper slices. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.

Serve sandwiches and cucumber salad together.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
2 (20 oz.) cans sliced pineapple
1 (18.5 oz.) package yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
12 maraschino cherries, halved

~ In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and butter, mix well. Spread into greased cake pan(s). Drain pineapple, reserving the juice. Place pineapple rings into cake pan in the manner of your choosing.

~ In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, oils, and 1-1/4 c. of the reserved pineapple juice; mix well. Pour over pineapple filling your cake pan(s) until 2/3rds full. Bake at 350' F for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

~ Immediately invert onto wire racks to cool. Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

Serve with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream!

Voila! A delicious meal for a summer day!

Jul 2, 2011

Breastfeeding Breakthrough


Tallulah was born with a more recessed chin than most babies which made/makes it more difficult for her to latch on, not to mention she is just naturally a weak sucker. To make matters worse, I have large, flat nipples. All of these things combined made it very hard to get Lula to breastfeed when she was first born. Albeit, we probably would have had more success if the "help" that we received at the hospital was actually HELPFUL, but alas, it was not.

Breastfeeding has always been one of the joys of motherhood that I was adamant about doing. Not only because of the health benefits breast milk supplies to new micro-humans, but also because of the wonderful bonding it nurtures. It's a beautiful, natural thing.

I will admit that there was nothing beautiful about the poking, prodding, stuffing, pinching, twisting, and wrenching that the nurses and the lactation consultant at the hospital thought was necessary to try to get Lula to latch on. And EVERYONE had a different "technique" and advice for me - most of which didn't add up from all of the books I had read about birth and babies while pregnant.

It was frustrating to the point of tears. I kept thinking to myself "this isn't supposed to be so hard, this is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, isn't it?" So why wasn't it working?

The truth is, breastfeeding is a learning experience for both mother and child. It doesn't come as naturally as everyone thinks that it does. Yes, there are some babies that just "get it" almost immediately, but this isn't always the case. Babies are born with instincts that help initiate the breastfeeding process, but they don't just see a nipple and immediately latch on at just the right angle and suck to get what they want when they want it. Not to mention, every mother doesn't have the same set of teats. Nor is every baby born with the perfect mouth to fit its mothers breast with utmost perfection. Often times it's just a whole lot of trial and error until the "ah ha" moment we are all waiting for.

So, while in the hospital, Tallulah and I were subjugated to every manner of "trying" that every nurse, nurse's assistant, and the lactation consultant could muster... to no avail.

Hospital's are funny places. They put restraints on everything. Lula and I were put on a time restraint for breastfeeding. They would not let us leave until she either latched on, or I was feeding her some other way. Crazy, isn't it? For a normal birth in a hospital your stay might last between 24 and 48 hours, barely enough time for a normal mother's milk to come in. Babies don't always have the desire to eat in that span of time since they have fat stores they built up in the womb to live off of until your milk comes in.


We were talked into pumping. First, we fed with a syringe at the breast to try to initiate latching until, finally, we ended up feeding with a bottle. I was crushed. This was not at all what I wanted. However, I was determined to try again at home where I would be less stressed out about it thereby making Lula less stressed so that maybe we could have some success.


Postpartum depression, maybe. Stress, definitely. Crying in a heap because my baby wasn't doing "what all babies do", certainly.

In a gallant effort to ease the situation my boyfriend, Mark, called in a private lactation consultant off of one of the many many papers that the hospital threw at us on our way out the door.

In steps my savior, Vicki!

Vicki was the absolute best thing that every happened to me as far as breastfeeding. Not because we were successful with her, because we were not, but because she was so knowledgeable and compassionate to my plight. I learned more in one session with her than the entire hospital stay or breastfeeding class combined!

With Vicki at my side, we tried again. We tried latching directly to the breast. We used a breast shield, which worked intermittently. We even used a contraption that had a tube going from a bottle to my breast so that Lula would stay interested in my nipple. All the while I was pumping my life away to keep up my milk production. I even started taking herbal supplements to help since I was not getting the nipple stimulation I needed from Tallulah.

And still, no breastfeeding occurred. However, I was consoled by the fact that Tallulah was still receiving breast milk, albeit, not from my breast. After all, that was the goal wasn't it? Or, at least, the point of breastfeeding?

For me, it was only halfway to where I wanted to be, but I could live with it and not fall to pieces over whether or not I could do better. It wasn't about me. It was about us - Tallulah and I, as a team. The fact of the matter was that she wasn't ready. But Vicki, and a couple of breastfeeding books I read out of desperation, assured me that as long as I kept trying and kept Tallulah breast friendly, she would get it eventually.

In order to keep Lula breast friendly we initiated a new rule - I would be the only person allowed to feed her. Bottle or breast, it doesn't matter. Milk comes from momma. That is the way of things. (For all of you dads out there who are going to be butt-hurt because you want to take part in feedings too... just remember, babies have to learn from someone that unconditional love doesn't always come with a nipple attached. That's your job!) We would also make sure to have as much skin-on-skin time as possible between Lula and I so that our hormones would stay in sync.


So that has been the way of things for the past 2 and 1/2 months. I am the only one who has fed her. While feeding her I always try to hold her as if she were latched on to my breast. We have as much skin-to-skin contact as we can. At least once a day we have made an attempt at actual breastfeeding, both with a breast shield and without.

Yesterday we had a breakthrough! Lula and I were lying in bed together cuddling and having skin-on-skin time when she started nuzzling and mouthing at my nipple. She was trying really hard to get it in her mouth and was getting frustrated with it so I put on the breast shield to help her out. Well, SHE LATCHED!! Not perfectly, but really close. We had our first ever full feeding by breast, to include both sides and ending with Tallulah passed out from the effort. Yay!! She got it 3 more times over the course of yesterday and once this morning.

It's not perfect and it's not consistent, but it's a damn good start. It is the beginning of the end of pumping, freezing, storing. The beginning of the end of washing and assembling bottles and pump parts. The beginning of breastfeeding and a better relationship with my daughter.

Persistence has paid off for me. Will it pay off for you? You have to want it. You have to want it bad. You have to be willing to put up with a lot to last long enough to see results for your efforts. But if you want something badly enough you will always get it eventually.

Jul 1, 2011

Super Easy Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

This recipe was my best friend while I was pregnant. It's super easy and quite scrumptious. They would be perfect for any occasion.

2 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix. (As in blend until smooth!)

vanilla wafers
2″ aluminum mini baking cups
Strawberry Pie Filling

Place a vanilla wafer in each mini baking cup.

Spoon approximately 3 Tbsp of cream cheese mixture over each wafer. Makes about 4 dozen.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Let cool and top with strawberry pie filling.


Oh yeah … and enjoy!

The Beginning of Something...

     Well, here it is. My very first blog post... ever. I suppose this is what happens when you have so many things you would like to share with others and no real venue to do so outside of this electronic box we call a computer. 
     There have been many changes in my life recently, not the least of which includes becoming a mother to my beautiful daughter, Tallulah. Isn't she precious?

     I have also started my own Etsy store in an attempt to use my interests to help bring in some money so that I can try to stay home with Tallulah as much as I can. Let's face it ladies - it's not easy thinking about leaving our babies to return to work after our maternity leave is up and our savings has dwindled away.
     My boyfriend and I have also recently relocated to Cape Coral, FL so that we can raise our daughter around family, as I was raised. I have strong family ties and I wish for Tallulah to have the same. Besides, isn't it always nice to not have to always pay for a sitter? ;)
     So, what do I hope to do with this blog?  I hope to share... a lot. There are many blogs out there and all of those blogs have a ton of followers. My hope is that someone might find what I have to say or what I have to share interesting. Perhaps more interesting or more up their alley than the next blogger.
     So here it is. This is the beginning of something...