Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My work in a styled wedding photoshoot

Today I am happy to share the results of a collaboration that ensued after participating in the Engaged wedding event last October.

At the fair, I met Jo-Anne from Wedspiration and Stijlvolle trouwkaarten. After taking a look at my hand-painted cakes she asked me if I would like to make something special for a styled photoshoot that was going to take place shortly after. Of course I said yes!

A few emails back and forth and we had decided on cream and dark-green macarons painted with fern motives, as well as some homemade looking cookies.

I love the results, so if you are looking for a bit of tropical wedding inspiration (there was a parrot!) in emerald and copper tones, have a look. 

The photoshoot also appeared in the Wedspiration magazine, that you can see in full here.

I was thrilled to participate in such a fun team effort. And with this I wish you all happy pre-holiday days, oh the excitement.

Photography by FOTOZEE
Flowers / Plants and styling DonFlorito
Wedding dress: Speksnijder Bruidsmode
Makeup and hairstyiling: The Beautiful Bride Company
Printed material: Stijlvolle Trouwkaarten
Hand-painted macarons and cookies: Tartas y Pinceles
Cutlery and interior decoration articles: H&M HomeIKEA
Animals: Luxury by Nature
Organization: Wedspiration
Models: Jedidja Trooster-de Jong en Mark Trooster
Location: Landgoed Waterland 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Busy days

Life with a baby is an unexpected constant flow of peace and calm that alternates with I-am- going-to-lose-my-mind moments.You never know what each day will bring. If it will be easy or if every single simple task will prove to be excruciatingly long and difficult.

Lately those moments have been so close to one another that it is hard not to feel like I am going crazy. Sometimes I am surprised at how efficient I can be. On Friday I baked  two cakes for an order that had to be delivered on Saturday. Then Mark came home early, we went to the supermarket for some last-minute groceries,  I made coconut-swiss-meringue buttercream, filled the cakes and we covered them in fondant. While playing with the kid, feeding her, and trying to get her to nap.

 After that I made a tiramisu. Then on Saturday morning I painted the cakes, went to the supermarket again (no amount of lists can make me stop forgetting things), and we all got in the car and drove an hour to deliver the cake. We took a walk in the beautiful landscape of the Noord Holland province, made a stop to have a classic Dutch broodje kroket and drove back. Luckily Yu slept most of the ride. She hates the car-seat so much these days that deciding to go anywhere involves a real analysis on whether the trip is worth her discomfort.

As soon as we came back I set myself to prepare Mexican Red (tomato) rice and we left for a Posada, full with kids. There was all kinds of delicious food, Ponche, a piñata, bengal lights, singing. It was running running running the whole time, but also, so much fun.

 On Sunday we went for a walk in the city where I had the husband fooled... we went to celebrate his birthday at a restaurant where both his best friends, his brother and his mom were already waiting for us. I had to make up a story to get him there without suspecting! It worked. There were hamburgers and milkshakes and present-opening.

And yesterday I started the day by making blueberry pancakes, then set to make the house full of balloons, went to the supermarket (for the 3rd time in 4 days!), made chicken broth, chicken fajitas and a chocolate cake. All while taking care of a sick, snotty, clingy kid that is not feeling very well since being outside in the cold on Saturday. Some days I think I deserve a medal. Yu normally loves going out for walks in the stroller: she loves the distraction and she likes the fresh air and the opportunity to flirt and smile at people. Not yesterday. She did not want to stay sitting. She did not want to wear a hat. She did not want her pacifier. She was tired but did not want to sleep either. She was complaining all  the way and did not even stop crying when I took her out at a café (which usually works). I had to carry her heavy self on the kangaroo and walk home. In the middle of a sudden rainpour. But we all survived. And I felt so accomplished (if I just forget that there are dishes to be done, and laundry to be folded, and a whole house to be vacuum-cleaned, and holiday cards yet to be ordered, written and posted). I just hope this stroller-strike is not going to be a thing, because if I can't go out I just might lose my mind for real.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dotty Fish leather baby-shoes (and discount!)

 Ever since I dreamt of having a baby I knew I wanted to get our imaginary kid some leg-warmers, or, as they call them in the US (in what strikes me as a slightly macabre name), baby-legs. They are just so cute!
When the time finally came, and as I was preparing Yu's Twink costume, I could not find many companies who would ship the leg warmers to Europe, even from the UK, and I was having trouble finding them here in The Netherlands. But I didn't give up and I finally found Dotty Fish, a company who would do it. I was so happy when they arrived, and even happier at how her costume turned out.

Dotty Fish is a company owned by a mom who decided to start making her own products after being unable to find good quality leather baby shoes at affordable prices. She started in 2006, and ever since the company has expanded and now offers a varied range of baby shoes, bibs, leg-warmers, leggings, tights and lovey-blankets, some that can be mix and matched with each other.

My kid is fancier than me, that's for sure! After I wrote about finding Yu's rainbow legwarmers in the Twink costume tutorial post, Dotty Fish kindly offered to send her some leather shoes for us to review.

It was really hard to choose, as they have so many fun designs!

There are shoes with dinosaurs, owls, lions, kites, giraffes, stars, dots, butterflies, birds, cranes and even reindeers, perfect for this season.

They are also very reasonably priced with prices ranging from 6.99 to 7.69 GBP depending on the size. (And the leg warmers are 2.25 GBP).

In the end I went for the Dotty Fish model, so colorful and pretty. The shoes arrived neatly packaged in a small plastic envelope that easily fit the mailbox, and they were wrapped in a pretty organza bag (the kind that I love to use for small presents or keeping jewellery).

The shoes are very well made, in soft leather, with a no-slip sole and elastics around the feet (so the baby will not take them out, apparently a baby's favorite passtime). I ordered them in size 12-18 months so that she will be able to wear them when she starts to walk, they are still a bit large (she's 10 months) but for the moment they will do a great job of keeping her little feet warm.

Thanks so much to the girls at Dotty Fish for asking me to review their leather shoes (that I was considering getting soon anyway!).

And now for any of you readers interested in their lovely products, Dotty Fish is offering you a 10% discount with the code POPPIES .
As I mentioned above, Dotty Fish kindly sent me the leather shoes so that I would review them, but I was not otherwise compensated to write this post. The opinions expressed are honest and all my own, and  Dotty Fish is a company I would write about and  recommend anyway!.

Dotty Fish sends their products worldwide, using Royal Mail or other (faster) delivery options. You can find their website here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

*Second photo via CottonBabies

Monday, December 8, 2014

First Holidays

This weekend, Sinterklaas, who has been in the country for about a month, delivered presents all over The Netherlands, on the much-awaited pajkesavond:

"Saint Nicholas' Eve, 5 December, is chief occasion for gift-giving during the winter holiday season. The evening is called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond ("gifts evening", or literally "packages evening"). On the evening of 5 December, the  presents will somehow mysteriously arrive at homes, or a note will be "found" that explains where in house the presents were hidden by  Piet who left a sack with them. Sometimes a neighbor will knock on the door (pretending to be the Piet) and leave the sack outside for the children to retrieve. When the presents arrive, the living room is decked out with them, much as on Christmas Day in other countries. On 6 December, Sinterklaas departs without any ado, and all festivities are over." *

Christmas traditions are magic, and we want our girl to get to know the different cultures she is part of. So we gathered a few of our friends and organized a potluck lunch, presents for the kids, as well as a funny game for us adults. (Did I just write that? It is weird for me to think of myself as the old ones!). There were mandarins, pepernoten, pollo en achiote, rajas con crema,, a pear and blue-cheese quiche...

It was so special to see the excitement in the little ones. Eventhough at this point they do not understand much, I am pretty certain this will create memories and later, looking through old albums, they will come to cherish the moment.

We plan to celebrate Mexican-Style Nochebuena, on December 24; Christmas Day the 25, 2nd Christmas day (usually with friends) the 26; and finally the Magi (los Reyes Magos) on the 6th of January. This weekend we will be attending a Mexican Posada. It seems like a lot, but having Yu growing up as part of different cultures is something we really are trying to do..

What traditions from your childhood are you keeping and which ones have you adopted from the places where you've been to?

*From the wikipedia.
** Infographic via Veggie Style with Daphne, and a Pepernooten recipe!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I am late to the Thanksgiving reflective posts, but I did not want to let pass the occasion to be grateful.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. When I started, it was mostly an exercise in counting my blessings, in trying to find positive things every day to get me through and make me aware, as I was going through some tough stuff, both professionally and personally. 

And it became so much more. It became a place where I could connect with others going through similar stuff, or who were simply here to offer their support, advice, or simply a virtual hug. It became a place to meet new people who would become real life friends, some of whom we have even met more than once off the screens.

We have been so blessed and I am grateful for all the things, big and small, that make our lives full. 
But mostly the small things because they are really the ones that matter.

PS: Thanks to everyone who comes and reads my rambles, and who takes the time to leave a comment. I realized, to my shame, that I had not answered comments for a month and a half, and I am so sorry for that. This weekend I made the time, and all your comments have been answered. The conversation is one of the aspects I appreciate the most about this space, so sorry for that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Banana-dark-chocolate-granola from #LifeIsMessyKitchen

I look forward to weekends because when the boy is around the house I can take the time to go back to the kitchen and make recipes that are just a tiny bit more laborious or, even if easy, take a little bit more attention (like checking the oven every 8 minutes).

This weekend I was really excited to try Mayi's Maple syrup-dark-chocolate-banana granola. It was actually relaxing to spend Sunday morning in my pijamas, calmly concentrated in chopping nuts, mixing liquids and then waiting like a child for magic to happen in the oven.

This recipe comes from Mayi Carles and her amazing team's new cooking book: Life is Messy Kitchen. It is full of Mayi's beautiful, funny illustrations and has been fully photographed by Marcela Macias, one of my first-ever "internet" friends who has been with me during hard and happy times. I  first found her travel-blog, 'Diario de una Trotamundos' (bring it back!!), from which she switched to 'The Celebration Girl' which has fully blossomed and inspired her to launch her photography business.* The book is full of mostly vegetarian, some raw, recipes from lunch, to dinner, breakfast, snacks or sauces and is all about making healthy eating fun and delicious.

So, on to the recipe, you will need:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 1 spoon maple syrup
1/4 cup + 1 spoon coconut oil (melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped)

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 400 F (~ 200ºC). Chop the almonds (or be lazy and buy them sliced), pecans and cashews. In a large bowl mix the oats, almonds, chopped pecans and cashews, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and bananas. Next, mix the dry ingredients with the wet until everything is homogenous. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper and spread the granola mixture flat and even. Bake for 25 minutes, checking it at 8 minute intervals where you need to take out the granola and turn it around. Bring it out of the oven and let it cool completely before adding the chocolate and storing into air-tight containers. Voilà, you are ready to enjoy! We've been having it for breakfast and it is delicious. It would make for excellent homemade holiday presents too!


*I want to make clear that this is not a sponsored post. I jumped at the chance to be one of Mayi's book launch ambassadors because I really admire her work, her happy spirit, her contagious joy and her "nobody-is-going-to-stop-me" attitude.

And I will promote loud and clear any and all work of Marcela, but I am not even sure it is necessary, her photos speak for themselves. If you would like to see a sneak peek of the book, here it is. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

They took away the tree

There was a tree right in front of our window. I loved to see it go through the seasons, from being bare naked during the winter months, to getting the first buds of green sprouts that signaled that better, longer, lighter days were coming, to watching it blossom and flourish during the spring and summer before starting to lose its leaves again.

Last Thursday after I had finally settled Yu in her crib for a nap, I heard this really loud, screeching noise. I thought it was our new neighbors with a drill, they are fixing the house they just bought.

Then I realized the sound came from outside and when I looked through the window I saw.

There was a tractor with a huge saw and they were taking away the tree.

We did not get any notice from city hall informing us this would happen. I don't know if the neighbours did this, I do not know why the tree was taken. Maybe it was sick (it didn't look so), maybe it was tampering with sewage or the foundations of a building.

This makes me so sad. If I had known I would have tied myself to the tree like the girls of Virgin Suicides or Flipped (I really love that last movie).

Why would you take a healthy, happy treee that wasn't harming anyone, "my" tree.... our street looks so sad without it.

Images via  here and here

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mi AIG llegó de Valencia (con horchata!)

 El viernes en la tarde mi esposo tomó el día libre, así es que yo aproveché para dormir un poco más (hemos tenido más de un par de noches difíciles). En cuanto la bebé decidió dormir, me fui yo también derechita a los brazos de Morfeo.

Entre sueños escuché el timbre y me pareció que Mark abría la puerta y firmaba por la recepción de un paquete.

En efecto, cuando desperté estaba ahí una enorme caja de cartón y al ver que había sido enviada desde España (de Valencia, en concreto), supe que sí, que era mi AIG (Amigo Invisible Gastronómico). Muchas gracias Adi, de Dulce y Azucarado.

En ese momento teníamos que salir, pero yo muerta de la curiosidad me fui con todo y caja y aproveche para ir abriendo el paquete en el coche. Fue muy divertido porque Adi empacó todo muy bien.

Como ir destapando una serie de muñecas rusas, dentro de la caja de cartón había un paquete azul en una bolsa de plástico, y dentro del paquete azul una caja de flores rosas y lilas, también envuelta en plástico.  Luego ya, dentro de la caja de flores, los regalitos,  envueltos individualmente!

Cada regalito fue elegido con mucho cuidado, y de verdad que Adi acertó en todo:

-un paquete de concentrado para prepara horchata de chufa
-una latita metálica de búhos llena de mazapán casero de almendras. Estaba delicioso, tanto, que no ha salido en las fotos, nos lo comimos rapidísimo.
-un molde de silicón para formar flores y guías en fondant
-unos moldecitos, también de silicón para cupcakes en forma de tacitas de té.
-un libro de decoración de tartas en fondant.
-auténtica chufa de Valencia
-una carta muy linda donde me enteró de pequeños detalles como que Adi y su esposo comparten la casa con un gato y dos hurones y que colaboran con la sociedad protectora de animales. Además de que también les encanta viajar y cocinar.

Muchísimas gracias por todo, de verdad que me ha hecho mucha ilusión. Me tendré que apurar a preparar auténtica horchata (me recuerda tanto mis días por Barcelona) y algún que otro postre, me has dado la idea de probar un flan con sabor a horchata. Digo que me tendré que apurar porque mi esposo es un goloso y es capaz de tomarse el jarabe tal cual.

A mí me ha tocado enviar un paquete hasta Tenerife, a Cristian del blog Arandabuesa. Si tienen curiosidad de ver lo que he enviado, aquí está su entrada.

De nuevo muchas, muchas gracias a Jess (de Decogalletas) por organizar el intercambio, es genial poder participar cada año en estas iniciativas que demuestran que esto del internet no es un lugar de aislamiento antisocial, sino todo, todo lo contrario.

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Prematurity Day

When our dear daughter was born 6 weeks early, it took us completely by surprise. The hospital bag wasn't ready, we hadn't yet put on the plastic mattress protector on our bed, my mom still had to arrive and I had big plans for washing her clothes and preparing all kinds of food to be frozen. She didn't have socks or a towel and we had no diapers.

All of those things and the ones I don't remember ended up being secondary and not very important (except for my mom, who was able to change her flight and arrive 3 weeks earlier than planned).

But the excellent medical care baby Y. received during the first three weeks of her life was crucial and we will forever be grateful for every neonatologist, pediatrician, nurse, lactation expert and staff member of the hospital where she was born. The support we received, the patience when answering to my endless questions, the knowledge and savoir-faire when it came to her first days is something we can never thank them enough for.

Today is World Prematurity Day. I thought I would share some information, only raising awareness will more babies be saved.

For some reason I can not set the infographics to appear larger, but if you follow these links you will be able to read them:  National Premmie Foundation and BioMedCentral

Friday, November 14, 2014

Motherhood: hypocrisy edition

Motherhood has changed me in many deep ways .

One of the aspects that has changed the most in me, hand-in-hand with the fierce will to protect our daughter, is an almost fundamentalism when it comes to food.
I've read, I've watched documentaries, I consider myself well-informed. We try to eat healthy food most of the time, but we also love our sugar, our salt, our dairy products, our meat.

We do get organic products whenever possible and we are on a mostly (70%) vegetarian diet. We do not buy pre-cooked or frozen meals and we try to avoid fast food. There is no ketchup in the house (at this moment).

And yet, when it comes to the child I have the tendency to become extreme.

We do not give her products that contain sugar. At some point the health center recommended "baby cookies" but I still refuse to give her those because they contain high fructose syrup. I make all of her food at home, we avoid salt (as her kidneys are still immature and can't process it yet); we do not, except on very rare exceptional situations, get her baby food in pots. I haven't dared to give her ham or other curated meats yet because nitrates are a known carcinogenic factor. She has had some yoghurt and cheese, but in small quantities. I still have trouble getting my head around the new tendencies that say dairy products, and particularly milk, are not the perfect product I was taught (The Harvard school of Public Health and Medical School have excluded dairy products from their daily dietary recommendations). Breaking paradigms is hard.

I know very well I can not protect her from everything, and that very fast she will be exposed to all kinds of risks and dangers. It is life. I can not attempt to keep her pure, perfect and sheltered. And while I have all these strong feelings regarding food, particularly, I sit there with her eating cake while she eats her vegetables, oh the hypocrisy.**

Has motherhood changed you in ways that you did not expect?

**(while at the same time my feeling of self, of who I am, remains intact).
** (I won't be able to do that for long though, because these days she tends to steal whatever it is I am eating. Which I guess is a good thing because she is forcing us to make better choices).

Monday, November 3, 2014

No-sew Twink & Rainbow Brite costumes

Rainbow Brite was always one of my favorite cartoons growing up. I probably still have a doll somewhere at home. I used to love it when I was 5. So when I saw this Twink (Rainbow Brite's white little fluffy helper) costume tutorial, I knew I had to give it a try. It is just, so cute. This is the reason people have babies!

Via PinkSuedeShoes Twink costume tutorial
 Unfortunately the instructions were not as easy as I thought... the "easy" tutorial asked for an actual pattern and a a sewing machine! Really? I was not able to make curtains, and I certainly do not have  the time or concentration to figure out how to sew right now.  But, the post did inspire me to find a way to make this happen.

One of the presents baby Y. received from one of our dear friends is a fluffy, hooded, white vest. I thought it would do the trick, so I tried. Next was getting rainbow- babylegs. I searched all over, but most companies would not ship them to Europe and I didn't find them anywhere in the Netherlands. I didn't give up, though, and I finally found a shop that would send them to us (and provided great customer-service too!).

Next I got some colourful foam sheets and pipecleaners and I was all set. I just made the blue belt, pocket, rainbow and stars for the antennae from the foam, and I attached everything together with double-sided tape and safety-pins.

Of course I wanted to be Rainbow-Brite as well, so I went on and fulfilled a life-long dream of getting bright orange hair and wore a blue-dress. I could have looked for rainbow leg-warmers for my arms and legs, and maybe with some red sneakers or even moon-boots it'd have  looked a lot better, but here we are. A super cute costume with material that I had laying around the house: scissors, tape, cardboard, a red onesie, red socks, a blue dress, and the white vest.

This might be my favorite Halloween (though admitedly not very scary) disguise ever. Did you dress-up this Halloween?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Molletes and hot chocolate

 Today I am over at Craftie Mum, the blog of Catarina, a portuguese writer, translator and expat in The Hague who writes about fun activities and things to do with children .

I a sharing a recipe for Molletes, a classic Mexican breakfast or dinner snack, made out of bread, refried beans, cheese and pico-de-gallo salsa.

Head over there for the recipe!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The busiest weekend at Engaged

We made it. I haven't been writing over here as much as I have been wanting to because the last couple of weeks have been hectic, with the preparations for the wedding fair,  with birthdays of friends and our everyday walks, with normal life that doesn't stop, cooking, doing the laundry, reading... and yeah, trying to get some rest as well.

As our first time at a wedding fair we were quite nervous and excited. We didn't know what to expect, we wanted to show that we are professional, and we were looking forward to meeting other people in the industry, as well as potential customers.

It was really, really a good experience (we did end up collapsed in bed on Sunday, and on Saturday as well, baking batch after batch of the lemon-raspberry and chocolate fudge cake bites that we offered in our stand). We met lots of other like-minded small companies with great ideas, wedding planners, stylists, bloggers and couples.

We made a few naive, rooky mistakes that luckily we were able to save at the last moment. The instructions for the fair clearly stated NOT to hang anything from the walls. Then, I got assigned an island stand in the middle of the fair, in front of the main entrance, and we thought:  "well, that solves the issue, if there is no wall behind us, no need to worry about that".

 Well, when we arrived on Saturday morning for the big setup we realized a). that we were right in front of a black, tall pole, part of the structure of the building and b). that everyone had set up all kinds of backdrops made, for example, of ribbons, old doors, lace curtains, cork boards, wooden stairs...

Luckily for us, that day we were meeting one of the boy's best friends, who happens to be a very creative engineer and is also very much into design and we were able to came up with a simple but pretty ( I think) solution.

I am really happy we participated and I hope it will give us exposure and hopefully some of the couples will decide to have their wedding cake  made by us.

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