December 31, 2011

Happy New Year and more

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope 2012 brings the best of the best to you and your loved ones.  Much to be thankful for on my end.  I will see you next week posting more regularly as I have been battling a bad cold and needed the rest.  Good things from the web {although the list is not long}

The cutest and easiest DIY Christmas/New Year's ornament

More DIY:  12 Sparkling accessories for NYE's 2012

I wouldn't mind receiving the New Year eating and drinking two of my favorite French things!

Honing the animal print {for the home}

Having a ball chandelier DIY party is just perfect

Generation X-Mas: Interesting!

December 29, 2011


How sweet is this picture of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her daughter Caroline, taken back in '60 at their Georgetown home in DC.

Did you know Jacqueline gave birth to a third premature baby named Patrick who died two days later of respiratory distress syndrome?  She also gave birth to a still born daughter, named Arabella (her first child)  I now quietly understand her sometimes withdrawn attitude and extremely reserved persona.  Who woulnd't like to retrieve into their own skin after experiencing these tragic deaths. 

My first Christmas

Hi friends, I only had time just now to post the pictures from Christmas Day.  My poor Emilu caught a cold that has lasted until now.  She was just miserable on Christmas day, but tried to ride it as best as she could.  I was dead tired that morning from all the wakings the night before, so I basically missed her opening her first Christmas presents. 

My sister and nephew were there with my mother opening up presents, until later when I woke up and we opened the rest. She got so many toys from my husband's side of the family. My nephew wrote Santa a Spanish letter, and he also got some really nice gifts, aside from the ones he has waiting for him back in the DR.

December 27, 2011

Banana cupcakes

I loved cooking in my mother's DR apt. kitchen.  I posted the pictures here.  While staying with them I baked a few chocolate cakes, including cupcakes from Martha Stewart's recipe collection.  And people were so impressed with how they came out.  The secret? Gas stove.  The baking is more even and much faster, which allows for more moist cakes.

These banana cupcakes were simply delicious.  My plan was to frost them but opted to leave them plain because the flavor was perfect.  I'll do it next time.  Speaking of next time, my husband gave me for Christmas a cupcake recipe book with more than 100 recipes.  I can't wait to try them all!

How about you?  Any favorite cupcakes come to mind?  Have you tried Martha Stewart's recipes?  I just love them because I know they will taste great but also because she's so peculiar and exact with everything she puts her name on, I rest assured that the recipes will always come out strong and delicious!

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and more

Hello friends, here's wishing you a merry Christmas and a great holiday week full of laughter, good food, and plenty of love.  Today my husband arrives, he hasn't seen Emilu for a few weeks now.  We are spending Christmas Eve with his family.  They celebrate in style with a Cuban roast pig (I won't be eating it) and plentiful good wine. Neighbors and friends join them every year as well.  Next week, my husband and I are invited to a dinner party hosted by a good friend of ours and my husband's former boss.  Of course, it wouldn't be the holidays without some much needed shopping.  My husband and I spend most of the 26th hitting the shops, looking for great deals.  I really don't need anything more, but he sure does.

I will be doing some baking today too.  I'm planning to bake this chocolate cake, which is comfortably delicious for the festivities around us. 

I want to wish each and every reader of this blog the best holiday time ever, and thank you for all the wonderful comments and support, it means the world to me.  Here's a few cheery links for your enjoyment this weekend. Ho Ho Ho.

Cheers to the New Year with this sparkly giveaway

A chocolate cake in this holiday tree bundt pan must be so yummy and fun

Thoughts on giftgiving are always welcomed

What people wanted for Christmas in 1975

Kenziepoo's little room is beautiful!

I bet Santa would love these cookies instead of ol' chocolate chips

A sentimental graphic letter to a new home

Learn more about the North Star here and here

The cutest Holiday family pictures {in the French countryside)

December 21, 2011

Sweet papaya

Dear friends, have you ever tried papaya juice? It's so delicious, especially if you add a squirt of lemon to it.  Papaya is the English name, but Spanish speakers refer to it as either lechoza or fruta bomba.  The Papaya fruit is native to the tropics of the Americas, and it's especially abundant in the Caribbean where it's used in a variety of dishes and desserts. It's most commonly eaten plain or in juice form. I tried giving it to Emilu in mashed form, but she wasn't into it.

The pulp is rich in vitamins and moisturizing oils, which are used in beauty products for skin and hair treatments.  It's also a natural laxative and excellent for intestinal treatments as well.

December 20, 2011

Passion fruit

Have you eaten passion fruit before?  It's one of my favorite fruits and the juice is absolutely heaven.  I had many glasses these last weeks, the fruit is abundant in my grandfather's farm. 

Did you also know it's packed with antioxidants and it's also a natural remedy for high blood pressure? The leaves of the passion fruit infuse an aroma that taken as tea can help lower blood pressure and acts as a relaxant. 

December 17, 2011

Under the Christmas tree

I snapped these pictures of Emilu under the Christmas tree days ago and now is when I have been able to post them.  She was so perky and giddy, she played with some of my mother's ornaments and tried to 'precrawl' in the cold marble floor towards me.

My mother's vintage ornaments, include a drum and a 'nutcracker' mouse made of paper mache and felt.

I love her collections of nutcracker men,she must have around 20 throughout the house.

Oh Christmas is soon here, and we are can't wait to wake up on Christmas Day and have Emilu open her first gifts.  Merry Christmas, friends!

Have a merry and jolly weekend

Hello friends, have you any plans for this weekend?  This is my last weekend here in the DR.  I have spent nine blissful days here, and will definitely miss the warm weather.  I haven't had to cook, or clean, and I have finally gotten some mommy rest. Yay!  Emilu has been responding wonderfully to the new feeding schedule provided by our Pediatrician here.  This is in turn gets reflected in her sleeping habit, which has improved tremendously.

Yesterday was my older brother's wedding reception.  It was a cozy, small affair, and I got to spend time with my relatives.  Today Emilu and I will be going to a photography studio to snap some pictures with all the cousins and my grandmother, who is also a great-grandmother to a total of eight children, including Emilu. Then on Monday I will be on a plane to Miami to spend the holidays with my parents, my sister, who's joining us with my nephew, and my husband's family.  I'm grateful for all this. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and are getting ready for the upcoming holidays. And as always here are a few links from around the web.

 Gift guide for the creative type

This French toast recipe is perfect for those Winter wonderland mornings

A warming, toasty Winter cocktail

This girl is incredibly strong and sweet.  She feeds children in India (and needs our help)

I dislike phone cases, but if I had one, this would be it. Plus this as a gift.

A healthy dose of Kate Spade

I want this pair of colored jeans so bad

Whimsical DIY present garland 

Tips your grandmother should have taught you!

These vintage watch sculptures are "timeless"

Did you like the food? Be honest napkins

Gift idea: bake-n-store cupcake holders

Images via Greige and Bringing Up Emilu

December 15, 2011

Home for the holidays, Part. 1

Yesterday while Emilu was napping I found myself snapping pictures of my mother's kitchen. She's a great cook, although her baking is much better than her cuisine, and her most sumptuous dessert is the orange pie.

Just recently, I have found myself baking more, and I've discovered how much I enjoy it.  Between baking and cooking, there's a sea of difference, and if I had to choose today, I'd bake more, for there's nothing like the feeling of watching the dough rise in the oven.   

I love the picture above.  Having a rocking chair in your kitchen is such a smart move, let alone a pretty styling detail  Of course, you need space, but in this part of the world, spacious kitchens are sometimes the norm rather than the exception. I've already rocked Emilu to sleep here late in the afternoons or early in the mornings. 

My mom keeps so many  jars and containers, enough to store food for months.  She's from the school of thought where more is better, at least where the kitchen is concerned.

The material most used here is native mahogany. It's used for bedroom closets, linen closets, kitchen cabinets, and of course furniture.  However, my mom complains the wood warps easily without maintenance, which can be a problem. With the holiday homecomings soon approaching, do you have any favorite places and spots around your parents' house? Happy and safe homecomings!

December 14, 2011

Christmas gifts for husband

Photo via Gramfeed

 Shopping for men can be tricky, and this lovely snapshot got me thinking about what to give my husband for Christmas.  Year after year is the same dilemma, and I end up buying the same type of gift: shirts.  But, I feel  inspired to think outside the box this year. I want to surprise him. Maybe the reason they appreciate gift cards it's because they are so tricky to buy for. On the contrary, we women are always waiting for something bulky or sparkly, right?  I'm also getting gift ideas for men here. Happy Shopping!

The Age of Overparenting

via Boston Magazine

Thanks to a friend, I came across an article in Boston Magazine entitled Welcome to the Age of Overparenting. The article is so enlightening in many aspects of modern day parenting, that everyone who is a parent should read this.

When I was growing up in the 80s, the parenting style I was brought up on might now be considered slightly negligent and completely unattached.  We had to go after, instead of being nudged or sometimes pushed by our parents, as is the case today in overparenting households,  the things we wanted in our lives. After all, back in those days, our parents let us watch TV, play with the most original but not so safe toys, and some didn't stop to consider whether our schooldays were productive enough. And we turned out fine, didn't we?  We are those kids, now in our 30s and soon approaching our 40s, running the bus lines of e-commerce, social media technology and grassroots organizations. Somewhere between playing outside and staying up late, we developed a green conscience while acing our business classes in college.

I know tiger moms have always existed in the parenting jungle of our lives, but don't you think they are becoming the norm in some zipcodes around the country?  And this, I confess, scares me.  Not because I  feel intimated by them, or fear my child might become dumb if she doesn't receive a tiger education at home.  It scares me because we are robbing our children's childhoods and compensating this with technology and the false promise of a secure future where there isn't room for mistakes or for idleness.

I'd like to try to be a parent for my Emilu first and foremost.  And then, a friend, a teacher, and of course when needed, an untigerly critic.

December 13, 2011

Should you buy that gift?

Are the holidays stressing you out? Do you break into hives every time you swipe that credit card? Some people go into deep debt during the holidays, and it's hard to stop when all you want is to find that perfect gift that will make your loved one gasp in delight. Back when the economy was good (better) we used our bonuses to buy presents. I sure hope we get that bonus this year, otherwise things are not looking good (reminds me of Chevy Chase in Christmas Lampoon).

What a funny way of having you reconsider every gift so that you don't go overboard like most of us do. Happy shopping everyone!

Memories in paradise

My mother showed me this picture the other day and I can't stop looking at it.  This was taken in Sosua beach in the Summer of '78.  My mother is the young woman in the pale yellow tee.  My cousin is talking to my mom and I'm the little girl with the bucket and scoop.  I don't remember much but it sure looks like fun. 

December 12, 2011

The Versatile Blog Award

Yesterday I received some good news, amid my sleepless nights with Emilu here in paradise.  My friend Maria from Jamie Says Dream nominated me for the Versatile blog award, my first.  I was so thrilled to hear this and I want to thank Maria for this lovely nomination.  What a cool way to get to know other bloggers! Here are the rules:

  1. Nominate 10-15 fellow bloggers
  2. Inform the bloggers of their nomination
  3. Share 7 random things about yourself
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award Pic on your blog post.

Here are my blog nominations (and if your blog isn't listed it doesn't mean I love it less):

  1. Design Mom 
  2. exPress-o
  3. Oh Joy!
  4. Standing in the moonlight
  5. Arianna Bell
  6. The modern sophisticate
  7. Jamie says dream
  8. {this is glamorous}
  9.  A beautiful mess
  10. Not your average day
  11. So about what i said...
  12. Unstitched.
Seven random things about me:
  • I try to eat one apple a day to keep the doctor away.
  • My number one pet peeve is organization; my closets are impeccable and I've tried to organize my refrigerator.
  • I am a Vegetarian.
  • Reading makes me whole. I go through author phases; I'm still recuperating from a Salman Rushdie phase. 
  • Sometimes I sleep with a light on, because I'm afraid of the dark (too much fiction, I tell you)
  • I was a tomboy, which explains my weakness for boyish looks.
  • As much as I love the city, I wish I lived on a farm.

December 8, 2011

Have a happy countdown-to Christmas weekend

'Tis the season for beautiful wrapping. This lovely idea using threads of colorful yarn is beyond pretty.  You can create your own set of color or do a rainbow like this one.

I'm sorry I have been unplugged for the last days.  I arrived safely and am staying with my parents in their DR home and it has been a bumpy ride until today.  Emilu was out of her element for a few days, not sleeping well and very intimated by the strange faces around her.  We have been building her comfort level and making sure she gets on a feeding and sleeping schedule again.

I feel terrible I have missed so many of your posts, I will definitely get caught up this weekend.  Have you started your holiday shopping already?  I have not, so I might have to make a few long lines when I get back to the States. 

Images via Martha Stewart and Abrams Books

I hope you enjoy the weekend, I will be browsing online for good deals and, of course, checking your posts.

December 5, 2011

My Top 10 Christmas Films

Part of the fun of Christmas is watching the films that celebrate it.  Deep down, a part of us rejoices when the magic of this holiday is captured in films. For a fleeting moment, our spirits are lifted like dust in the air and a little light is switched on, and remains this way, as we partake in family get-togethers, holiday ceremonies and all-around fun and laughter. I cannot think of any other holiday that can transform us this way and makes us feel like a child all over. With so many great and funny movies out there, I can confidently narrow down my favorite Christmas  movies:
10.  The Shop Around the Corner
Did you know The Shop Around the Corner was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"?  I love this movie and Jimmy Stewart is a holiday treat you can't miss. 
9.  A Charlie Brown Christmas
Good grief! Good, ol' Charlie Brown is shaking things up again when he decides to take back the meaning of Christmas by putting the gang on stage for an unforgettable holiday performance.  A must see, even the grumpier, old crowd would love the message of this movie. 
8. Holiday Inn
This wonderful movie is a treat to the eyes and ears. A holiday classic that keeps you cheery from beginning to end.  The explosive musical duo of Crosby and Astaire will have you clamoring for more.  Back then, actors had  to act, sing and dance.  Great performance all around!
7.  A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens' classic tale of greed and redemption is retold in this amazing picture packed with amazing performances and visuals (for the time, 1951).  Your kids would love the storybook version and you can maybe then treat them to the movie, although it might be a challenge to keep them interested in this black and white version.

6.  Home Alone
The kid in me loves this movie for the eternal innocence and resourcefulness of this 8 year old kid, who is left behind by mistake during the holidays.  The first time I saw this movie, I was smitten with Culkin.  Sweet face and cute voice.  And how about that house!  The foyer and staircase had me at hello!  

5.  A Christmas Story
I didn't grow up in this country, but when I saw this film for the first time, I was sold.  The narrator perspective and the quirky parents completely stole my heart.  Who knew I would relish this movie year after year with the same novel excitement I felt the first time I watched it. 
4.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
The title might be a little misleading, because Chevy Chase's family doesn't really go on vacation.  But that doesn't trump his painstaking plans of creating the perfect Christmas holiday for his family, even when his cousin-in-law screws everything up!  The laughs will have you shaking.  
3.  Miracle on 34th Street
New York,  Macy's, Santa Claus, lonely but sweet rich girl, dare I say more?  I love this film so much.  It's perfect in everything sense. You just have to believe...

2.  Love Actually
This film is unbelievably heartwarming.  So many stories to choose from and yet, all of them so good.  I love the writer and Portuguese immigrant story, and the prime minister's and his sister's stories are also sweet and real.  I bought the soundtrack many years ago after watching the film in theaters and I took it with me to NYC for Christmas that same year (2003).  With my headphones on the whole time, I had my own personal Love Actually experience while we drove and strolled around NYC. Priceless!

1.  It's a Wonderful Life
"Everytime a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." Those words just melt me in the right place.  My favorite holiday movie, with my favorite actor (Jimmy Stewart) of all time.  It requires no flattery, it's truly special and a commentary on our times, then and now.

How about you, guys? Do tell, what are your favorite Christmas movies?  I know I left out many good ones, but I had to narrow them down to ten.

Seven months

She's seven months old tomorrow.  I cannot believe my baby girl is this big.  Her personality is starting to blossom and I can see bits of me in every reaction.  She loves to play with her toys now and is absolutely fascinated by adults conversing around her.  Well see what else is in store this month.  I can't wait to see her master the pincer grasp.  She's trying to learn it now.