No Dairy? No Problem. (The New Milks Cookbook Review)

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Life

The cookbook I’ve been working on, What a Good Eater!, is available for pre-order this week, and I thought I’d spread the love around by sharing with you another one of my current favorite cookbooks. This one is called The New Milks, by Dina Cheney. I am not affiliated with this book in any way, I am just sharing it with you because I like to share my favorite finds and this book has some awesome recipes! End disclaimer. 

If you are like me and don’t do much dairy, and you like savory meals and drinks, I’ve found an excellent book to share. It’s called The New Milks by Dina Cheney, and it contains over 100 dairy-free recipes “for making and cooking with soy, nut, seed, grain, and coconut milks.” I promise, you will not miss the dairy. Not one bit.

Here are a couple of the recipes I tried, and how they turned out:

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut Yogurt

This one is my favorites because it is super easy and involves no cooking: you just pour all but the last ingredient into a quart size container, shake it up, and refrigerate it overnight. The best part is that I have a highly energized toddler who was more than enthusiastic about shaking the plastic container while I sat back and watched. In the morning we added the final ingredient (coconut yogurt), topped with fresh blueberries, and served it up.

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The chia seeds thickened up overnight, and the vanilla added just the right amount of flavoring. Thanks to the easy prep and healthy ingredients this recipe will now be a breakfast staple in our house.

Malai Kofta

Since I love savory recipes, the next one I tried was the Malai Kofta, which is vegetarian Indian dumplings in spiced tomato sauce. This was one of my favorite dishes I used to get at least once a week when I worked in an office, from a nearby Indian restaurant, and while it was sooooo good, I knew it probably wasn’t that good for me. I didn’t know what to expect from this healthier version that Cheney presents, but I gave it a shot.

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OH, MY, WORD, these things were on point. Coconut milk, russet potatoes, chopped dried apricots, ginger, garam masala…all of these flavors and more get rolled up into these delicious dumplings that simmer in the savory tomato sauce. We ate it over basmati rice. I’ve made this twice already, even doubled the recipe the second time around, and we had no leftovers. They were that good.

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If you like what you see, you can grab the book here. Find more dairy-free recipes, and learn more about the author Dina Cheney, at www.thenewmilks.com.

Best Mother’s Day Gifts for 2016: Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Gardening, Gifts, Life, Products, Punk Parenting

best mother's day gifts 2016I’ve scoured the internet to bring you the best Mother’s Day gifts for 2016 in this year’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide. You’ll find the usual suspects, and you’ll also find things for women who enjoy things like whiskey, beer, and cigars, too. Because we’re badass like that.

Here we go!

 

Mother’s Day Customizable Docking Station/Tablet Holder. She is the central hub of the household, so why not give her a hub that is central for her? You can customize the artwork you’d like, or keep it “Best Mom” (as shown). This one is also easy to assemble/disassemble – perfect for the traveling Mom! Mother’s Day Customizable Docking Station/Tablet Holder

 

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Monogrammed Clutch. I know for me, I have two types of bags: a jumbo, back-breaking diaper bag, and a tiny, effortlessly chic little clutch that fits all my necessities. And as much as I love carting my little babies around, it’s nice to know that when I go out solo I can easily grab my little clutch and GO. Monogrammed Clutch

“Mama Bear” racer back tank. You know it. She knows it. Now everyone will know it: Don’t poke the bear. Mama Bear Racer Back Tank


Toddlers are Assholes (It’s not your fault). For the mom on your list who may be a little burnt out, and who needs a little reminder. I’m not talking about myself or anything here. AhemToddlers are Assholes, by Bunmi Laditan

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It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery. This one is an excellent, laugh-out-loud, REAL book for expecting moms. It will feel like a giant hug from all of her best girlfriends, who are talking to her about what she can expect and how to get through it all. Trust me, if she’s got a bun in the oven, she needs this book. (There’s even an essay from yours truly in it.) It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery

 

Spa Robe Gift Card Holder and Wine Bottle Decor. Listen to me carefully: Purchase this gift. Head over to a fantastic spa, and buy her a gift card for a special service. Then head to the wine store, and get her a nice bottle of her favorite wine. Set this up, and present it to her on the morning of Mother’s Day. You’re welcome. Spa Robe Gift Card Holder and Wine Bottle Decor

 

Super Cozy and Soft Mermaid Tail Crochet Blanket. She’s going to need something to snuggle up and keep her warm on the couch what with all of those books. While I can’t fully explain in human words why this thing is so amazing, I don’t think you need me to because just look at! It’s a freaking mermaid tail blanket. It’s specifically designed to keep toes and feet warm, and you can even customize the colors. If you’re thinking about not getting this, I have just one question: Are you crazy? Mermaid Tail Crochet Blanket

 

Mermaid Yarn Bowl. And if she loves reading, mermaids, and knitting? Well then, I just took care of your checklist. You’re welcome. Mermaid Yarn Bow

 

Mother’s Day Pillow. Check, check, check, CHECK. (Plus, it’s a comforting and cozy gift.) Mother’s Day Pillow

 

Personalized Book Art. Another really unique, cool gift idea for book lovers. You can also personalize this gift with a word instead of a name, which is a great idea since this year everyone was adopting a word to represent. You can also choose between Times and Helvetica font. Personalized Book Art

Personal library book rubber stamp. In addition to buying great books, these days I’m all about book-swapping as well. And a cute, personalized stamp like this would keep me from side-eyeing my friends as I hand over my favorites and let them out of my sight for a while. Personal library book rubber stamp

 

Book Lovers’ “Old Books” Soy Candle. Who doesn’t love this smell? No one. That’s right – no one. Book Lovers’ Soy Candle

 

I Do What I Want Mug. She’ll also need a lovely mug to sip from as she enjoys her reading material and candle. (This one doubles as a great gift for cat-moms, too.) I Do What I Want Mug

 

“No Soliciting – Sleeping Baby!” Sign. This a slam-dunk for new moms – every new mother needs one of these! I wish I had thought to get one of these when mine were newborn, but since we still do nap time around here, I’m picking one up for myself now. No Soliciting Sleeping Baby sign

 

“Grandma’s House Rules” Sign. Let’s not forget Grandma’s gift – because even though you know you will inevitably suffer the “grandparent hangover” when you pick up your kids, at least now they’ll know you’re onto them – and that the writing’s on the wall.  Grandma’s House Rules Sign

 

Europe Wine Cork Map Display. This is a great way to display the best kind of artwork: the corks from your favorite wineries! Bonus points for the fact that it is a beautiful and interesting piece of home decor. Europe Wine Cork Map Display

While we’re at it, let’s not forget that us women like beer, too:

USA Beer Cap Display Gift. A very cool wall art for the traveling beer connoisseur. USA Beer Cap Display Gift

 

Monogrammed Cigar Box. That’s right: we women like cigars, too. And we want to keep them in a pretty box. You got a problem with that?! Personalized Elegant Cigar Box

 

Mother’s Day Golfer Personalized Wreath. I don’t golf, but I kind of wish I did because I’m in love with this wreath! Maybe I’ll get it anyway, just because it is so stinkin’ cute. Mother’s Day Golfer Personalized Wreath.

 

“Press for Champagne”. This cheeky little sign reading “press for champagne” is the epitome of being pampered. And yes, it actually RINGS! It comes in a vintage frame and a hanger on the back so you can hang it on the wall. Set it out for her to let her know she’s taken care of today. Know that she will proudly display it year round – just to remind everyone who’s queen around here. *Coupon code: Use code LOVEMOM for 15% off before May 1st! (I already ordered one for my kitchen!) “Press for Champagne” button

 

“Love You Mom” pears. These are a sweet little reminder to set out for her on the kitchen counter, so she sees it first thing in the morning. In front of the breakfast you’ve made for her. And coffee. And bottle of Kahlua. Love You Mom pears

 

Rustic “Established” Pallet Serving Tray. Better yet, serve her breakfast in bed using this adorable 10×22 personalized family tray. Distressed, made from pallets, gorgeous handles and personalized monogram? She’ll be so impressed she’ll think you hacked her Pinterest account. (This also makes a very cool kitchen centerpiece when not in use! But seriously: USE IT.) Rustic “Established” Pallet Serving Tray

The Marlowe Lunch Bag with Lunch Palette and Knife. She’s already known at work for her artisan taste in food. Now, help her lunch bag do the answering for her. This bag is reusable, ideal for carrying lunch or snacks, and includes a lunch palette and knife both made from reclaimed wood. It even comes with an adorable exterior pouch for you to place your loving notes for her to find at lunch time (what, you didn’t think moms appreciate being on the receiving end of those?). The Marlowe Lunch Bag with Lunch Palette and Knife

“Asshole Repellent” candle. And while she’s at work enjoying her artisan lunch, someone’s bound to give her flak over her foodie choices. Tell her to set this on her desk. And when she sees them coming, tell her to nod along, keep eye contact – and light this candle. They’ll get the hint. And also? It’s soy. Asshole repellent candle

 

Rustic Wood Bathtub Tray. This adds an instant spa feel to the bathroom. And it BEGS you to take a bath. It’s the perfect place for a glass of wine and a book. Rustic Wood Bathtub Tray

Mengo AquaCube, Waterproof Speaker. This one looks as refreshing as it sounds. Mango AquaCube Waterproof Speaker with Bluetooth

Hand Etched Dragonfly Perfume Bottle. I don’t know why but I can’t stop looking at this – it’s so beautiful and classy. The bottle is hand blown and it has a fitted dabber. It’s super elegant, and will make her feel like a movie star whether she’s getting gussied up for a fancy date night, or simply heading out to Target. (But take her out for a date night, okay?) Hand Etched Dragonfly Perfume Bottle

“Butterfly Migration” Vintage Wood Bound Canvas Map. Everything about this map is GORGEOUS! (In my humble opinion.) It’s vintage, easy to hang anywhere with no heavy frame or glass (yay for you), and each map is printed, signed, numbered, and hand constructed in the U.S.A. It even has the “pull-down” scroll feature. Order it before I buy them all up. Butterfly Migration vintage wood bound map

 

“Good Vibes Only” sign. For those moms on your list who are making their best efforts to keep it positive. Good Vibes Only sign

 

“Let That Shit Go” Buddha sign. And one for those who might like a more subtle reminder from Buddha. Let That Shit Go sign

 

“I May Not Be…” sign. This one is super sweet, and I love that it focuses on your relationship. I May Not Be sign

 

Woven Customized Vow Art. Sure, it’s Mother’s Day, but if you’re looking to show your love to your lady, this one could be a major score. It’s your vows, woven together to create a stunning and meaningful visual masterpiece of love. (Mind = blown.) It is placed inside a black shadowbox (click through to see it) so you can hang it on the wall, or it can also be placed on a table as a centerpiece. Woven Customized Vow Art

 

Custom Name Metal Kitchen Sign. She knows it, you know it – now everyone will know it. (And there are lots of choices in colors!) Custom Name Metal Kitchen Sign.

 

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Nonna Box. For those who enjoy true, AUTHENTIC Italian cooking, it doesn’t get much better than this. She’ll get a box shipped directly to her door full of gourmet cooking items sourced and shipped from different regions of Italy. These are the kinds of things that will never be found in a grocery store – even the specialty ones. It’s like her secret stash of the mother country, right in her pantry. I tried this one out for myself, and let me tell you, it’s fantastic. Nonna Box

 

Initial with Opaline Stone Layered Necklace. This one allows you to pick both the length of the necklace and the initial. Perfect for the mom of a new little one! Initial with Opaline Stone Layered Necklace

 

Mama Bird Personalized Family Necklace. You can choose as many baby birds as you want for this personalized necklace, and you get to choose between a Matte Silver or Gold plated Branch (1.80″ L). The baby bird charms are hand stamped Silver or Gold, and for the chain you can also choose vermeil, which is hypoallergenic, and safe for sensitive skin. Made in USA or Italy. Personalized Family Necklace

 

Semicolon ring. You’ve likely heard about the semi-colon and its meaning. While not everyone is interested in getting a tattoo (as many have done), this ring is a very special – and important – reminder. Semicolon ring

 

I F*cking Love You necklace. Don’t tell me you can’t appreciate a well-placed F-bomb. Because sometimes, there’s no other way to describe the magnitude of your love. (This is great for a friend, too!) I F*cking Love You Necklace

(Note: If the f-bomb above is a bit much for your gift idea, you should really see the rest of these to choose from – with words like “fearless”, “badass”, “hot mess”, and more! See them all.)

 

Bear Silhouette Lotus Necklace. Another one for the Mama Bear in your life. This one features a Bear of course, but my favorite part is the lotus flower on the side. The Lotus flower can symbolize the clarity of heart as well as the mind. It also represents strength, good luck, long life as well as honor and respect – all of which make a perfect – and thoughtful – gift for Mom. Bear Silhouette Lotus Necklace

 

Black Cuffs Crushed Druzy (Set of 3).  I’m all about bangles and stacking jewelry these days, and I’m loving this set! My favorite thing about them is that they are elegant, so you can wear them to a formal event. You can even give these to her in a box alongside tickets to an event or party. (Look at me, giving you combo gift ideas.) Black cuffs crushed druzy

 

Small Wood Jewelry Cabinet. Now that you got her all of that jewelry, get her a chic little cabinet to store it in. Small wood jewelry cabinet

Wind-Up Personalized Musical Jewelry Box. I have really beautiful memories of wind-up jewelry boxes from when I was a little girl. The sweet smell of the wood, the charming music…putting on jewelry was a sensory experience. Now you can do the same for the mom in your life. With this one, you can customize the carved word(s) on the top, the color of wood – you even get to customize the song! Wind-Up Personalized Musical Jewelry Box.

 

Outdoor hammock table. Gentleman! Husbands! Dads! Or anyone, for that matter! Order this one for her, then set it up. Place a cocktail on it, and a book (as shown), then lead her to it and show her the beautiful new outdoor oasis nook that is all her own. (And really, this can work for indoors, too.) Bonus points if you take the kids for a few hours and let her relax! Outdoor hammock table

Four Seasons Hand Painted Birds Glass Set. A Winter Cardinal with snow nestled in the crooks of the tree branches. A Spring Hummingbird with two-tones of pink and white blossoms. A Yellow Finch perched among lush green and gold Summer leaves and an Autumn Bluebird surrounded by brilliant orange and red turning leaves. These are beautiful – and a thoughtful gift for the nature lover mother in your world. Four Seasons Hand Painted Birds Glass Set

 

Foodie Dice. This idea really works for me, because I love food – but also because we pretty much “roll the dice” on dinner on a nightly basis. You select the five primary dice, add a seasonal veggie die and roll. Now, if only we could get them to cook for us… Foodie Dice

 

Mom’s Taste Test Spoon. I am ALWAYS grabbing for a spoon within my reach, and I wind up with a million out at once! This is genius, thoughtful, and adorable for a gift. Mom’s Taste Test Spoon

“From the Kitchen of…” For the woman who loves to share her kitchen creations. Now she can deliver them with love – and a proper tag. It even comes with baker’s twine. From the Kitchen of Tags

Texas Skillet. Everything’s bigger in Texas…including omelettes. Texas skillet

 

Mother/Daughter Apron Set. If the mom in your world has a little girl, you just can’t lose with this one. My sister got my daughter and I a matching set and we LOVE it. (Confession: we even put them on when we are ordering takeout.)  Mother/Daughter Apron Set

 

Happy First Mother’s Day Baby Onesie. After all this shopping, don’t forget to dress the baby. Happy First Mother’s Day Baby Onesie

 

“Fifty Shades of Stupid” ceramic wine decanter. Christian Gray meets grumpy cat. And wine. Fifty Shades of Stupid wine decanter

 

“Connoisseur” Personalized Mug. When she’s done decanting her wine she can pour it into her brand new personalized mug. Connoisseur personalized mug

Fruit Infusion Water Bottle. I love gifts that are thoughtful and show you really care. Remind her to take care of herself by helping her stay hydrated with this fruit infusion water bottle. It comes with a recipe book, and a brush to clean it. She (and her skin) will thank you. It may not be sparkly like jewelry, but you should get it anyway and give it alongside the jewelry. Because she needs it, it’s important, and she’ll be grateful every time she uses it. Like those socks Grandma gives everyone for Christmas each year. Fruit Infusion Water Bottle

Shatterproof Good Day Bad Day Wine Glass. This is probably more of a gift to the rest of the family because it will help them to know when it’s best to approach, but anything involving wine is usually a score for a Mother’s Day gift – and she’ll appreciate this one a lot. Plus, it’s shatterproof, which is great for when she slams it against the wall in a fury accidentally drops it. Shatterproof Good Day Bad Day Wine Glass

 


Personalized Cat Mugs (set of 4). Cat moms are moms, too. Personalize these mugs with a saying or word of your choice (on the back)! Set of 4 Personalized Cat Mugs

 

Stay at Home Dog Mom. And don’t forget the proud dog moms! Stay at Home Dog Mom T-Shirt

 

Dog Lover Adult Coloring Book. Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, and why not? Coloring is therapeutic. And sometimes, when a certain someone has chewed through the door frame yet again, that’s exactly what a dog lover needs. Dog Lover Adult Coloring Book

Cat Mom Bracelet. You know she’ll wear it proud, in honor of her fur baby (or babies). Cat Mom Bracelet

Yellow Garden Tote. The fastest way to cozy up a space is to add a little greenery, and this cheerful little tote does just that. It’s casual, so it gives the effortless look that’s just right to cheer up a kitchen island or counter. You can use this for herbs, which I love! Grab a small container of organic basil, and set it up on the kitchen counter. (If she’s not into cooking, grab mint instead – she can use it for mojitos.) Yellow Garden Tote

Latitude Longitude GPS Coordinates Sign. You can order the GPS coordinates of the location you were married, where your children were born, where you had your first kiss… the possibilities are endless! Latitude Longitude GPS Coordinates Sign

 

Dear Mom Travel Mug. For all the “favorite children” (you know who you are). Show mom your undying love (and your passive aggressive sibling rivalry) with this “Dear Mom” mug that reads: “Dear Mom, Thanks 4 putting up with a spoiled, ungrateful, messy, bratty child like my sibling. Love, your favorite.” Dear Mom Travel Mug

 

Put Away Your Laundry sign. Help her say it on those days she can’t find the words. Put away your laundry sign

 

Grandparent “announcement” pillow. If you have a fun announcement to make and were waiting for Mother’s Day to let Grandma know about it, let this adorable pillow help you out. Grandparent announcement pillow

The Best Parents Get Promoted Announcement Sign. Another adorable way to let your parents know that they have a grandchild on the way. The Best Parents Get Promoted Announcement Sign

Still Looking? See all the awesome items on my other gift guides, here: PunkWife Gift Guides

There’s Nothing an Italian Grandmother Can’t Fix

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Gifts, Life

I received a complimentary Nonna Box to review. All photos and opinions are my own.

I was having a bit of a crappy day. I won’t get into the details, but stress was on high and I was really burnt out. Plus, this was “crazy hour” over here, where Ciro basically takes any remaining sanity he was holding onto and deposits it into his diaper along with the rest of the stuff he has no use for, while Penelope runs around trying to climb the walls.

“Witching hour” is putting it lightly, and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was cook or think about dinner.

I remembered just a few days ago we received our first Nonna Box:

NonnaBox - Authentic and Gourmet Italian Products and Recipes Delivered Straight to Your DoorIf you’re wondering what a “Nonna Box” is, it’s basically everything you love about an Italian grandmother, shipped to your door in a box filled with authentic and gourmet Italian products and recipes. The quality ingredients in each box are all from a specific region of Italy, and each box has recipes from an Italian “Nonna”. And yes, the Nonnas are real!

You know I love gifts, and this right here is an AWESOME. GIFT. The idea behind it and the presentation are very cool.

Our box had products from Lombardy.

NonnaBox - Authentic and Gourmet Italian Products and Recipes Delivered Straight to Your Door

The card was signed by Guido himself. I have an Italian cousin named Guido, who has lots of chest hair and wears a pinky ring. While I don’t think this was the same Guido, I do feel like this Guido really knows me, because my “Lombardy” box had all the makings of an Italian girl’s dream: polenta, amaretti cookies, chocolate, and Pizzoccheri (pasta), among them.

NonnaBox - Authentic and Gourmet Italian Products and Recipes Delivered Straight to Your Door

Guess who went straight for the Amaretti cookies?

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I don’t blame her. She’s a woman who knows the good stuff.

OH, and that thick blue envelope signed by Guido is full of recipes, all the product information found in the box, and the story of the Nonna who shared the particular recipes in your box.

NonnaBox - Authentic and Gourmet Italian Products and Recipes Delivered Straight to Your Door

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This one was from “Nonna Carla”, and her favorite dish is the Pizzoccheri.

So, even though I had no desire to cook, everyone knows that when an Italian woman – Nonna Carla, in this case – tells you to do something – especially if she’s telling you to eat – you don’t argue with her.

And since the Pizzoccheri was her favorite, we figured we’d start there. It was a one-pot meal, and ba-LIEVE me, it was a “one-pot-meal” kind of a night over here.

So, Ciro went into his jumper, me and Miss P put on our aprons, and we had fun with it.

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The first rule in cooking with toddlers is to give them a task, because as I’ve learned, they LOVE to help. My little sous chef was more than happy to shred the cabbage (and it kept her busy while I prepped the rest):

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The Pizzoccheri, cabbage and sweet potatoes cooked away in a pot together, and once they were finished cooking, we added half of it to a big bowl and layered on the sliced the cheese:

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…then did like Nonna Carla told us to do, which was add the rest of the pasta and veggies, then mix it all together to allow the cheese to really melt.

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GOOEYGOOEY cheese! OMG.

While the cheesy goodness was melting away in the pasta and veggies, I made the sauce – which is a simple butter sage sauce with bit of garlic. I never used this method before, which was basically just to toss a garlic clove in melted butter and let it brown, then remove it. Nonna Carla knows what she’s doing because this made the butter sauce taste SO GOOD – and is a browned hunk of garlic covered in butter not a beautiful sight to see?

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We poured on the sauce, then topped it with some grated cheese…

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…then mixed it up even more! We ate it with a side of the one-pot steamed artichokes I always make.

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We all agreed that this was – honestly, truly – one of the best dinners we’ve had in a while.

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After the crappy day we had, who knew that a little bit of cooking, some quality ingredients, and a visit from Nonna Carla would turn our day around? This just proves my theory that there isn’t much an Italian grandmother can’t fix.

The Details

As I said before, these make awesome gifts – especially with Mother’s Day coming up!  The presentation is beautiful and impressive. It’s perfect for anyone missing their Italian grandmother, perfect for anyone who never had an Italian grandmother and always wanted one (come on now, who wouldn’t?), and especially perfect for anyone who likes a great meal.

Nonna Box allows you to choose from 3 subscription options:

  • month-to-month
  • 3 month pre-pay
  • 6 month pre-pay

OR you can do a ONE-TIME order (which I think is a great option if you’d like to test it out, or if you want to gift it to someone for Mother’s Day or a birthday):

Here are a few facts about Nonna Box:

  • All the Nonnas are real, a different one representing each box
  • All the products are hard-to-come-by, gourmet, and from traditional producers of the featured region. You will not find these products in your local grocery, and chances are that are difficult to find in gourmet specialized stores as well – and if you do, it’s very unlikely that you find all the products in a Nonna Box in the same place.
  • Product quantities are always limited – for example, Nonna Box snagged the last of all US importers’ stock of Pizzoccheri, which means Nonna Box recipients were among the lucky few at the time who could get their hands on the pasta! The same thing happened this last month with a particular chocolate bar that came from an 18th-century shop in downtown Genova, which is the same place where Ghirardelli apprenticed and learned how to make chocolate before coming to the US and founding the famous Ghirardelli company.
  • Shipping is free, and the subscription can be canceled or paused at any time.

I already know who I am gifting this too! Head over to Nonna Box and see for yourself. Buon Appeitito!

Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for 2015

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Gifts, Life

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Amazon Echo. At first I did not understand what this thing did. Now that I know, I want one for my kitchen. It’s a voice-controlled hub for audiobooks, music, news, weather…you name it, and it plays music from all your favorite sources like Pandora and iHeartRadio. Personally, I want it to read recipes to me while I’m cooking. And tell me I’m pretty.

Amazon Echo

Picture Keeper. I am constantly running out of space on my phone and computer and need a space to keep my photos, and I know I’m not alone here. This device makes the process simple and easy, and backs up 8,000 photos. Merry Christmas – now your phone will actually function properly, picture hoarder!

Picture Keeper

Don’t Even Think About It Coffee Mug. Everyone knows this person. (I AM this person on some days.) Help those around her (or him) tread lightly with a literal guide to when it’s OK to approach.

Don’t Even Think About it Coffee Mug

Zero Fox Given. While we’re on the topic of mugs, this one is a MUST – and a motto for 2016.

Zero Fox Given Mug

Vintage Books Pendant. The reader on your list will go BANANAS for this pendant. It’s adorable, vintage, and comes in a box with a quote from Ernest Hemingway. I. WANT. (These are great teacher gifts!)

Vintage Books Pendant

Alice in Wonderland Bookmark. OK, now we’re really taking gifts for book lovers to the next level. LOOK AT THIS. If Alice in Wonderland’s feet sticking outside of a book isn’t enough of an invitation to sit down and read something magical, I don’t know what is. And wait until you see the others: Star Wars, Game of Thrones…even Louboutan. (Penelope is obsessed with the Yoda feet bookmark.)

Alice in Wonderland Bookmark and others, from MyBookMark (and others)

BOSE Quiet Comfort Noise Cancelling Headphones. There is just too much noise today. It’s hard to tune things out and get work done, but these headphones will help you do just that. I think I might get myself a pair and sit in my closet wearing them while hiding from my toddler. I mean, “I think I will use them for work purposes”.

BOSE Quiet Comfort Noise Cancelling Headphones

The MoGuard Mustache Guard. I present to you the MoGuard. This thing goes on top of your drink to protect your mustache from the elements. I’m not sure what else to say about this because I don’t have a mustache (thankfully), but maybe you or someone on your list has one and this sort of thing is a real problem for them.
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The MoGuard Mustache Guard

Hoverboard. I’m not really sure who wouldn’t want a hoverboard. I have no use for this thing and I can tell you, I would find a use for it because it looks like a crap ton of fun.

Hoverboard

PRO Wine Aerator. Because I always want the taste of quality wine, but I never want to wait for it. Now, instant aeration.

PRO Wine Aerator

I Can’t Adult Today Spoon. Because most days, I just can’t. And I want to know I’m not alone as I stir my coffee with this spoon.

I Can’t Adult Today Spoon

Audrey Rocks Art Print. Ummmm, does this one even need a description? She simply f*cking rocks. End of story.

Audrey Rocks Art Print

Clip-On iPhone Camera Lens, set of 3. You know your friend taking all of those artsy Instagram photos will love this gift. These are clip-on, super easy to use and tote around, and will help them take better photos with macro, wide angle and fish-eye lenses. iPhone photos have never looked so good.

Clip-On iPhone Camera Lens, set of 3

Corked: The Party Game for the Entertainment Connoisseur. The ultimate hostess gift.

Corked: The Party Game for the Entertainment Connoisseur

You’ll Eat it and Like it Napkins. Help your hostess let everyone know what’s up in her kitchen with these handmade napkins.

You’ll Eat it and Like it Napkins

The 80’s Mistaken Lyrics Coasters. These coasters are BRILLIANT. (Confession: I always thought it was “Rockin’ the cash box.” *SLAPS FOREHEAD*.)

The 80’s Mistaken Lyrics Coasters

Copper Embossed Handmade Pepper Mill. The chef on your list knows that the meal is so much more than the end result; it’s the engagement of all the senses in cooking, the love they put into each meal, and how they feel when they prepare it. This beautiful pepper mill is something special for the kitchen, and will make them enjoy cooking even more.

Copper Embossed Handmade Pepper Mill

Custom Walnut Cutting Board. You can select from many different styles of these personalized walnut cutting boards, but I’m showing you the one I’m kind of obsessed with. Awesome for a hostess gift, or for that couple that just got engaged or purchased a new home.

Custom Walnut Cutting Board

BigMouth Inc The Grill Sergeant BBQ Apron. This thing holds everything you would need while grilling, including an entire six pack of beer.

BigMouth Inc The Grill Sergeant BBQ Apron

Cigar Punch from Specialty Wood Designs. I don’t know much about cigars, but I do know that this will impress the cigar lover on your list. They are made from exotic woods with beautiful grains and polish, and when you open the end cap and you’ll find a circular cutter that is razor sharp. Each one comes with a spare cutting head.

Cigar Punch from Specialty Wood Designs

Personalized Men’s Leather Cuff. Pick your favorite phrase, add the dates of your kids’ births or the date you met, or simply have his name engraved. (I don’t know why this stupid photo says “ELF FOREVER”, but it’s the only picture they had available. Try to imagine an important date or phrase on it that means something to your man, and customize this for him.)

Personalized Men’s Leather Cuff

Hoodie Footie Pajamas. There’s not one adult I know whose day wouldn’t get better when they put these on after coming home. Buy a set for  your and your hubbs and get cozy.

Hoodie Foootie Pajamas

Let Her Sleep Linen Quote Pillow. I have a soft spot for pillows like this; they make adorable decorative accents for a baby’s nursery, and they are neutral enough to work with any colors. You can also customize these! Great gift for new parents from an auntie or uncle. (And hopefully it will encourage the little one to actually sleep.)

Let Her Sleep Linen Quote Pillow

State Shape Pillow. Speaking of pillows, these are SO cute, and can work for lots of people on your  list: the college-bound nephew, to bring a little bit of “home” to a dorm; the young couple who recently relocated; or simply the person who is proud of their state.

State Shape Pillow

Crochet Knit Scarf, 2 Styles in 1. I love this scarf because you can wear it two ways: straight, or as an infinity (as shown). They come in a ton of colors. (The red is my favorite, in case you’re asking.)

Crochet Knit Scarf, 2 Styles in 1

Zigabob Electric Shoe Shine Kit. Shoes are important and they must be cared for appropriately. The shoe lover on your list knows this. My dad says everyone needs one of these because too many people neglect their shoes, and I think he’s right.

Zigabob Electric Shoe Shine Kit

Guitar for Dummies Acoustic Guitar Starter Pack. You know that person on your list who is always saying how much they’d love to learn to play guitar? Give them a jump-start with this set. It’s got everything they’d need, and won’t have them spending money on private lessons.

Guitar for Dummies Acoustic Guitar Starter Pack

Squatty Potty. Give the gift of regularity this holiday season. In this age of over-sharing, you already know who needs it most.

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OH, and don’t forget your Dude Wipes.

Squatty Potty and Dude Wipes.

Money Maze for a Fun Twist on Giving. If you are someone who has a small gift to give, or who likes to give money, but wants to make it a bit more fun, this item is for you. The money or whatever small object goes inside, then the recipient has to figure out how to get to the gift. Honestly, the first thought I had for this one was an engagement ring.

Money Maze for a Fun Twist on Giving

French Press Coffee and Tea Maker Set. We recently purchased a French press and it was fairly life-changing. The coffee tastes so much better, and I love how sleek it looks on our counter. This one even brews tea and comes with a book of “barista tips” which, in my opinion, would make this a nice little gift for the caffeine lover on your list.

French Press Coffee and Tea Maker Bundle Set

Lay n’ Go cosmetic bag. Greg got this for me last year and honestly, I was like, “Huh? This is a gift?” But resisted the urge to slap him upside the head because I quickly realized it is one of the most useful things he ever bought for me. I haven’t had to dig through a makeup bag for over a year and it is GLORIOUS. And when my toddler comes running, I just pull that little string and WHAM! all my makeup is put away, just like that.

Lay n’ Go cosmetic bag

Handmade Sapphire and Pink Pearls 24K Ring. Nothing says “I love you” more than something handmade, and one-of-a-kind. I’m mildly obsessed with this gorgeous ring which is weird, because I normally don’t like pink or pearls. Which goes to show you how powerful jewelry can be. (Are you listening, Greg?!) Ahem.

Handmade Sapphire and Pink Pearls 24K Ring

These cozy Mukluk slippers.  I have a pair of Mukluk slippers that I live in. If I am home, they are on me, and when I get in the door the first thing I do is put them on. These are faux fur and have cute buttons going up the back (not pictured). I’m convinced every woman on your list needs a pair of these.

Mukluk slippers

Boob-B Warmer Organic Cotton Maternity Nursing Sweatshirt. You might be all like, “You want me to buy her an expensive sweatshirt?!” but trust me when I tell you that stuff like this is GOLD to a new mom. She will use it. She will love it. She will LIVE in the thing, because it just might make her life that much easier.

Boob-B Warmer Organic Cotton Maternity Nursing Sweatshirt

Baby Monthly Stickers. I have a set like this and I love that they remind me to take monthly photos. These stickers encourage new moms to do just that. Tell them to sit the baby in the same chair each month, so they can really see how fast their little one grows.

Baby Monthly Stickers

Ostrich Pillow. Speaking of making mommy’s life easier, I’ll bet she could use this “napping” ostrich pillow. Tell her to train the kids not to bother her when she’s inside her little nap nest. They say it increases productivity by 34%, but I’m just like “let’s play hide and seek so I can decrease my productivity today”. To each their own.

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Ostrich Pillow

Fire Kids Edition with Blue Kid-Proof Case. This one comes loaded with unlimited, free access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and more, and puts parents in the driver’s seat with controls to manage usage limits and content access. They had me at Daniel Tiger. 

Fire Kids Edition with Blue Kid-Proof Case

Personalized Kid’s Treasure Chest. How stinkin’ adorable is this?! It is a gift that truly keeps on giving, because it is a keepsake. Personalize the font, the name, even the stain of the wood. Bonus points if you fill it with goodies!

Personalized Kid’s Treasure Chest

Melissa & Doug Suspend. I have a soft spot for Melissa & Doug toys, and I LOVE toys that don’t need batteries. They’ve done it again with their “Suspend” game – it’s fun for the whole family, is excellent for building hand-eye coordination, and is something that can be played independently. I am getting one for Penelope (shh, don’t tell her) because it will be a nice break from her Lego set.

Melissa & Doug Suspend

Lionel Polar Express Train Set. Forget Thomas. This train set is bad ass, with a highly-detailed G-Gauge steam locomotive, authentic train sounds, including bell and whistle, working headlight, and much more for your tiny conductor.

Lionel Polar Express Train Set

Robot Crayons with Coloring Book and Gift Box. A fun take on the classic favorite gift of crayons and a coloring book. And the gift wrap is adorable!

Robot Crayons with Coloring Book and Gift Box

VTech 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter. Penelope has had this for a long time now, and it is still one of her favorites. The red part can be locked into 3 different positions — walker, rider, and scooter — so your child can continue to learn as they grow. (It is geared toward ages 1 – 3.)

Vtech 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter

Kids Therapeutic “Nightmare Snatcher” Journal. If your little one is going through a period of being scared at nighttime, this insanely cute little journal might offer them all the reassurance they need to keep the monsters away.

Kids Therapeutic “Nightmare Snatcher” Journal

KaZAM No Pedal Balance Bike. You might recognize this one if you are a Shark Tank junkie, as it was seen once on the show. And for good reasons: it helps kids find their center of gravity and is designed to teach kids how to ride without ever needing training wheels. You don’t even need to ever put air in the tires. Another one of Penelope’s favorites, given to her by her Uncle Marc (although she still hasn’t fully grown into it yet, so we have to help her a lot). For ages 3 and up.

KaZAM No Pedal Balance Bike

VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk. We got this for Penelope for her 2nd birthday and it’s hands-down one of the best gifts we’ve given her. It’s an interactive desktop with four double-sided cards that introduce numbers, letters, animals, music, people and more. It comes with 160+ vocab words, 30+ learning activities, and 20+ popular melodies; 9 colorful touch pages each with 4 learning modes. And it’s currently the only thing in our home that can get Penelope to sit still for more than 30 seconds.

VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk

Makita XT211M 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 2-Pc. Cordless Combo Kit with 2 Batteries. I have no idea what those letters and numbers mean after “Makita”, but I do know that this is an insane deal on some power tools – it originally cost over $700! 

Makita XT211M 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 2-Pc. Cordless Combo Kit with 2 Batteries

Man Crates. Think of a beautiful gift basket – only they are rugged, and for men. Hence “man crates”. There are several different crates you can choose from, like the “Whiskey Appreciation” crate, the “Exotic Meats” crate, and “Pipe Smoker” crate. Featured below is the “Retro Gamer” crate, perfect for the old school video game lover on your list.

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Man Crates

Just Dance 2016. This one is fun for everyone in the family. Music that will get you moving, karaoke mode, and even a “sweat mode” that tracks your calories and gives personalized workouts.

Just Dance 2016

Cacoon Hanging Chair. If you’re looking for a sweet gift for the outdoorsy one on your list, this is it. Like, THIS. IS. IT.  You can fold it up and unfold it quickly and easily, and it gives a whole new meaning to the term “hanging out”. It’s on the higher end in terms of gifts, but you can’t put a price on hanging around the great outdoors.

Cacoon Hanging Chair

Ikea Ekorre Swing. If you love the idea of swinging around but camping is not for you, get this adorable and MUCH more reasonably priced alternative from good ol’ Ikea. (I’m a sucker for an indoor swinging chair, and there is one in Penelope’s room.)

Ikea Ekorre Swing

Redneck Plunger. I don’t know who it is, but SOMEONE on  your list needs this redneck plunger. And it’s THE perfect gift to bring with you to one of those “Dirty Santa” parties. (You could also leave it in your bathroom to provide instant entertainment for your holiday guests.)

Redneck Plunger

Parking Tickets. Greg doesn’t have road rage, but what he DOES have is parking rage. He has no tolerance for people who take up multiple spots, so I bought these for him one year. It’s almost scary the joy that handing out one of these “parking tickets” brings him. It’s like instant therapy. Let the road rager in your life have joy this season, too. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer.

Parking Tickets

Kendra Scott “Signature 2015” Elisa Pendant Necklace. I love the simplicity of this necklace. I am also currently into layering necklaces, and this seems like the perfect accent to pair with another necklace or two. My favorite part is that the chain comes with a 3-inch extender, so your lady can get it to just the right length she needs.

Kendra Scott “Signature 2015” Elisa Pendant Necklace

Bath Bombs Gift Set. Husbands, please read the following carefully: Give these to your wife. Take the baby. Pour her a glass of wine (preferably in the “My Therapy” wine glass, below). Run her a bath, drop one of these suckers in there, then give her an hour’s worth of time where she can unwind and not think about sleep schedules, pumping, or what to make for breakfast tomorrow. (We all know she’ll be thinking about it anyway, but at least she can relax for a bit.) Or even better, drop the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and get in there with her.

Bath Bombs Gift Set

“My Therapy” Wine Glass. Finally, a glass that states the obvious. This one comes already gift-wrapped, so all you need to do is pair it with a nice bottle of wine to make the wino on your list happy. Boom. Done.

“My Therapy” Wine Glass

Komono Watch, Winston, Black Wood. You know what they say: “time is but made of wood”. Actually, nobody really says that. But this modern, simplistic watch will have the man in your life happy to show off how he knows what time it is.

Komono Watch, Black Wood

Tarot Card Reading. Want to know what’s in store for you in the new year? Have a friend who is looking for direction and just wish someone could give her a sign? Gift her a reading from an expert tarot instructor and reader. Lisa of Tarot by Lisa will enlighten you and inspire your direction in all things life and love. Also a great idea for holiday parties, ladies nights, and more.

tarot

Book a Tarot reading from Tarot by Lisa

Jambu boots. Greg bought these boots for me for our anniversary this year, because he followed that list that tells you what the gift theme of each year should be and this year it was wool – which he knows I don’t like. (I’m not vegan, but am not a fan of wool.) I am IN LOVE with these boots! They are the perfect stylish, cozy, cruelty-free fashion statement for the crunchy one on your list. Bonus points for how tough they are – you could hike in these bad boys.

Jambu Women’s Arctic Vegan Snow Boots

Miswak Club Chemical-Free Whitening Toothbrush. You know when you need a stocking stuffer, but your recipient is a crunchy hippie who will not tolerate plastic crap made in China? Get them this. It’s a “toothbrush” that supposedly whitens teeth, freshens breath, and doesn’t require water or toothpaste. At the very least, it will make them feel good that they are cleaning their teeth with sticks.

Miswak Club Chemical-Free Whitening Toothbrush

Candles from Crossbone Candle Company. These candles from Crossbone Candle Company are a collection of some of the most interesting scents I’ve ever heard of in a candle: Chocolate cake, Vermont Maple, Whiskey, and even more masculine scents like Sawdust, Clove and Tobacco. The candles are hand blended and hand poured into an old fashioned repurposable/recyclable glass, and made with 100% Soy Wax from non GMO and pesticide free soybeans grown in the United States. I don’t think you could find a cleaner candle on the market. They are also at a great price point, so you can stock up on these and keep them on hand for things like teacher and hostess gifts.

Crossbone Candle Company, Whiskey Scent (and more)

Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson. Jenny is a genius wordsmith who will make you laugh until you shoot your hot toddy right out of your nose. Also, she is relatable to the point that you will want to both hug her and wonder if she’s walking around inside your head because you know you’ve had at least some of these thoughts. Buy this for yourself, and also for the person on your list who needs a mental pick-me-up this holiday season.

Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson. 

The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. The newly-engaged person on your list needs to know about the REAL stuff that goes on with wedding planning, not the predictable. This book will help her with everything from choosing a dress to dealing with crazy family to negotiating with vendors, and much much more. Plus, it’s written by someone really cool, who has been there, done that, and helped many others do the same. Ahem.

The Real-Deal Bridal Bible

Handmade “I Do, Me Too” Wedding Forks. Speaking of wedding gifts, this is a sweet little set for that adorable couple planning their wedding.

Handmade “I Do, Me Too” Wedding Forks

It’s Really Ten Months: Special Delivery. Yours truly has an essay in here, but I really want you to gift this book to the pregnant mama on your list for the collection of other authors who tell their stories, because OHMYGOD, these are the things a pregnant woman and first time mom-to-be needs to know. Let everyone else tell her the surface stuff; you give her the real-deal with this book.

It’s Really Ten Months: Special Delivery, Natalie Guenther, Kim Schenkelberg, Celeste Snodgrass

OH, and there is a temporary sale going on with the e-book version! Grab that, here:

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Vegibag Organic Cotton Reusable Eco-Friendly Vegetable Preservation Fresh Crisper Bags. That’s a mouthful to say. Maybe that’s because, with these vejibags, you will have MOUTHFULS to eat since none of your food will go bad anymore! These bags are 100% organic, American-made, and specially designed to keep food fresh much longer. You can even use it for herbs. GENIUS.

Vegibag Vegetable Preserve Bag, Organic Cotton Variety Pack

Umbrit Hangit Photo Display. This one is perfect for the college kid on your list, and will (hopefully) encourage them to actually print out some of those selfies.

Umbrit Hangit Photo Display

Singer stylish award-winning computerized sewing machine. If someone on your list is showing a love for fashion or crafting lately, it might be time to help their efforts.

Singer award-winning computerized sewing machine

Oxycatin Catnip PelletsStop giving your felines low-grade catnip; it’s time to step up your game and give them the quality script they deserve.

Oxycatin Catnip Pellets

Best Cat Dad Ever Mug. Because they are dads, too, and they take care of their babies.

Best Cat Dad Ever Mug

Best Dog Mom Ever Water Bottle. Let’s not forget moms and dogs.

Best Dog Mom Ever Water Bottle

Window Bird Feeder. Now you can see these beauties up close and in detail, thanks to the clear design and window suction. This is great for bird lovers and kids, and apartment dwellers!

Window Bird Feeder

Relaxation Music for Pets and Pet Lovers. When I first saw this I was like, huh? But then I read the description and it’s actually really sweet. It is a disc full of gentle, calm music that keeps the sensitivity of dogs and cats in mind (and is peaceful to human ears, too). With all the chaos of the holidays, it’s nice to come home to a calm atmosphere and happy pets.

Relaxation Music for Pets and Pet Lovers

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! And don’t forget to see my past gift guides for even more gift ideas!

XO

-Ali

About Those Outtakes

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Life, Punk Babies, Winter

It’s almost time for the holiday season (notice how I said ALMOST, because I am against all holiday music until at least Halloween has passed), which means if you have small children you’ll be trying to corral them get them to take a decent photo for a holiday card. And while it can take a million tries to get at least one photo where your minions are making eye contact with the camera and not just capturing the blurred images of them running away in protest or tearing down the tree, you have to admit that there is something to be said about those outtakes.

This one was from when Penelope was only 5 months old — not even sitting up yet! It should’ve been easy to take a photo of an infant who isn’t very mobile yet, right? You would think. But we got her dressed in that little crocheted Etsy find, propped her up on a chair with a cozy throw blanket, and right when we started snapping away she slowly began sinking, sinking, sinking, until this happened:

sliding

I could have passed right over this photo, deleted it, dubbed it unusable for the card — but it was just too damn cute. (And don’t worry, Greg was right next to her just out of the camera frame to keep her safe.)

But instead, I added some text and used it for the back of our card we sent out that year:

Xmas_2013_back

Then there was this one, a series I like to call “The Three Stages of Holiday Fury”:

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So go ahead and send out an imperfect photo this year. Because, even though it’s fun to try to get a decent picture, sometimes life is all about the outtakes.

Inspiration: Why I Wrote My Book

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite Finds, Gifts, Inspiration, Life

Bitch's Bridal Bible CoverJust wanted to share a little inspiration today about what drove me to write my book. Here goes…

After my husband proposed I remember feeling blissfully happy; sharing the news, celebrating with friends and family, and walkin’ on clouds, viewing everything through my bling’d out, rose-colored glasses.

What I also remember is being really surprised at what I hadn’t prepared for when it came to actually planning the wedding.

We attend weddings, but don’t see “behind-the-scenes” until it’s our turn. When that curtain cracks open for us and we excitedly peek behind it, out of nowhere – BAM! – we are hit with a giant sandbag swung from the rafters full of financial stress, pressure, and relationship challenges. And when I say ‘relationship challenges’, I’m talking about alllll your relationships: family, friends, business (because get ready, you’ll have lots of contracts to sign), and the postman, who is already a) assuming he’s invited and b) requesting you “don’t seat him in the nosebleeds”. There were many stages of wedding planning during which it became glaringly obvious to me why people elope. The race to measure up, keep people happy, stay financially stable, and balance all the moving parts can cause a slew of unforeseen obstacles and tricky situations, and most of this will naturally fall on the shoulders of the blushing bride-to-be.

When the wedding planning began I suddenly felt that I’d stepped onto a malfunctioning factory conveyer belt that seemed to get faster as it progressed, operated by individuals who had apparently slugged one too many mimosas. People were standing by at their stations along the assembly line ready to package me up: the dress, the venue, the cake, and the opinions. Oh, the opinions. My head spun. I attended a bridal show, and wondered where the striped tent was above it all because it felt like a circus.

“Take this to lose 40 lbs. before your big day!”

“Register with us and get your free cake-mixer-slash-nose-hair-remover that you surely can’t have a happy ever after without!”

“Your wedding will not be perfect until you get this undergarment designed to help hide all your back-fat! Our must-have wedding day accessory, inspired by Spanx and Satan, will hide away all your – wait, you didn’t know you had back-fat? Well thank goodness you came today so we can save you from looking like a giant sweaty wildebeest spilling out of her dress! You won’t be able to sit down or breathe, but that’s okay, because you will look breathtaking.” (*GUSH*)

And the surprises kept coming.

Suddenly, certain people whom I never thought had it in them were competing and comparing. My ring became an object of scrutiny and silent judgment. Expectations crept in, along with “to-do” lists. If I was the one getting married, why did it feel like I was throwing a wedding for everyone else? I couldn’t believe how overwhelmed I felt!

I was grateful for our wedding, and there was much beauty amongst the chaos. So much beauty, and so much love! But the reality today is that planning a wedding is a pressure-filled, emotional time, and navigating through while keeping your sanity, finances, and relationships intact is like trying to complete a triathlon with no training. You may cross the finish line, but not before collapsing a few times while gasping for air (and maybe losing your wallet along the way).

I thought I might have been better prepared – maybe even done things differently – if someone let me in on the “real deal” of what to expect, and it prompted me to write about my experience. What started as a small article that ran in a local magazine evolved into a book, The Bitch’s Bridal Bible, filled with stories from former brides and grooms, interviews with therapists, hilarious anecdotes and nuggets of wedding and marital wisdom reminding today’s bride to slow down, breathe, remain true to herself, and keep the focus on what it’s really all about: celebrating the decision to spend the rest of your life, with the love of your life. That you can in fact do things your way while remaining happy and keeping your relationships healthy, and that there are plenty of alternatives to side-stepping the faulty conveyor belt.

If you’re planning a wedding you’ll likely encounter some of the obstacles that are inevitable along the way. But at least now you can enter the race with some training under your belt. I’ll be on the sidelines, cheering you on. I’ll hand you a towel and a bottle of water. And I certainly will not try to sell you a god-awful undergarment from hell. Promise.

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This book is perfect for you if you:

  • are engaged
  • think you want to get married one day
  • were already married and want to re-live, laugh, and relate to the chaos
  • know someone getting married who you’d like to gift this to

Pick up your copy today. I have found that people are purchasing 2 or 3 copies at a time – one for themselves, and more for gifts!

Have you read the book? Are you a fan of my blog? Please write me a review on Amazon – even a line or two makes a difference! I hope you enjoy my book, and thank you for the support!

Here are some photos from the book release party…I was pregnant with Miss P at the time!

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Double Giveaway: A Free Yearly Yoga Membership to The Yoga Collective!

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Bitch Bunker, Favorite Finds, Life, Punk Box Giveaway

If you are like me and love yoga, but hate the gym, you’re in luck: I’m giving away not one but TWO FREE, YEAR-LONG MEMBERSHIPS to an online yoga resource – valued at $130 each!

YOGA_COLLECTIVE_GIVEAWAY

It couldn’t have come at a better time. You probably remember recently when I told you all about my yoga video experiences. I like to workout at home, because it’s just more convenient, but sifting through individual videos, trying to decide which to purchase and actually selecting a decent one is enough to make me want to punch myself in the face with Buddha’s fist.

Soon after I wrote that post I was contacted by The Yoga Collective with an offer to give them a shot. They are a membership only, online site full of all different types of yoga videos from LA’s top yoga instructors: hatha, meditation, pranayama – there’s even a ‘quickie’ option (and who doesn’t love a quickie?!).

Along with the types of yoga they also have search options, so you can narrow down the workout you’re looking for based on levels, duration of time (I LOVE that they have 10 minute options!), teachers, and focus.

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I think focus is my favorite because you can pick from core, balance, cardio, heart-opening, and way more. Basically it’s your on-line yoga class on steroids. (But don’t do steroids. They’re not very Zen.)

Just to be clear, these are NOT prenatal yoga videos. They are for the average yogi of any level who does not have a resident inside their uterus. Although I was able to find some that I could do, even with my big pregnant belly in the way, Yoga Collective told me that they are constantly adding videos and categories to their library and that prenatal is on their list of types to add.

There is no music in the background of the videos, but this could be a good thing if you’ve normally found music to be distracting. Sometimes I like music, sometimes I don’t, so for some of these, I put my own soothing soundtrack on to play in the background.

The cost of an annual membership is normally $130, but TODAY (*clears throat, puts on best cheesy late-night infomercial voice*) YOU CAN WIN ONE AT NO COST! That’s right – I’m giving away (*infomercial voice again*) not one, but TWO FREE MEMBERSHIPS!!

If you want to check it out first, they have a few free yoga videos on there to get you going. They also have yoga for beginners, so don’t worry if you’re new at this.

Here’s how you can win:

To win, all you have to do is use the entry form below to do ONE of the following (but bonus points if you do all 3!):

  1. ‘Like’ Yoga Collective on Facebook (sign into the form below and you’ll see the link to their page);
  2. ‘Like’ my PunkWife page on Facebook (have you not done this yet?! You’re missing my lovely updates. Like when my daughter farted and actually said, ‘scuse me’!); AND/OR
  3. Check out the Yoga Collective site, then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me which yoga video you’d try first and why. (Example: “I’d like to try meditation yoga with a focus on ‘heart opening’, so that I can refrain from punching my co-worker in the face.”)

That’s it! I’ll draw the winner at random one week from today! Now GO WIN ONE YEAR OF FREE YOGA!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stylish and Creative Storage Solution

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Decorating, Favorite Finds, Life, Punk Parenting

We used to have a wooden coffee table in the middle of our living room. But once we brought our tiny human home I went from seeing “beautiful, aged dark wood coffee table with wrought iron legs” to “ARE YOU KIDDING ME YOUR CHILD CAN AND WILL FALL AND BUST HER BUTT ON THESE METAL SPIKES OF HAZARD YOU HORRIBLE PARENT!!” (Not to mention, “wasted space”.)

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We moved the table to another room, but I didn’t want a gaping hole in the middle of our rug – I wanted something that still looked nice, was functional, and allowed us to live like normal people once Penelope went to bed at night.

Plus, I’ve learned that no matter how hard you try, with kids, their stuff does start to slowly creep in and take over your space. I also never realized how important it would be for my sanity to be able to tuck everything away easily, and to kick back at night without getting an “Elmo Goes for a Walk” book wedged in my butt when I sat on the couch.

But I found (somewhat of) a solution! It was inexpensive, looks great, and is functional, so of course I had to share with you.

Stylish and Creative Storage Solution

The photo on the left you might remember from last week, when I told you how I was coping with my migraines and the things that were only adding to the pain. But the image on the RIGHT is my storage solution – the 3 bins that all of that stuff goes into at night after P goes to bed:

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storage solution attractiveIt’s really nice at the end of the day to toss everything back into those bins and not feel like our house is overrun with toys or clutter. (We also use those cabinets next to the fireplace for some other items, but most of the stuff goes in the bins.)

This is the room we use most in our home, so I love the way these bins hide everything! And they are really easy to move around when we have people over. The tops even flip over and you can use them as a tray, or you can keep them as shown and sit on them if you need more seating!

I got mine at a place called Garden Ridge, which was since bought and changed over to At Home, so if you have an At Home near you definitely head over to check out what they have. But in case you don’t, I did a quick search and found some other really cute options on Overstock.com, here: Overstock.com ottoman search.

(The above link is NOT an affiliate link.)

Did you like this idea? Did you do something similar?

The Best and Worst of My Three Favorite Pregnancy Workouts

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Bitch Bunker, Favorite Finds, Life, PunkPreggo

Are you large and pregnant and avoiding public places at all costs? Do you get anxiety just thinking about not only finding time to use your gym membership, but conducting a successful workout without accidentally revealing your belly or muffin top or ginormous pregnancy boobs and scaring people straight off their elliptical machines? Then do I have a post for you!

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If you’re like me and prefer pilates, yoga, and just the right amount of cardio in pregnancy and don’t know which workouts to turn to, then look no further: I’m sharing with you my three favorite at-home pregnancy workout videos – and I’m going to tell you the best and worst of them both. I’ll answer your burning questions, such as:

Which instructor will make you want to punch her because of the effortless, rapid way she moves around while 10 months pregnant?

Who makes you wonder if she wolfed down a batch of special brownies in her dressing room before filming her segment?

Who will make you wonder if maybe you accidentally ate some funny brownies before sitting down with her to practice your kegels?

And with that I bring you…

The Best and Worst of My Three Favorite Pregnancy Workouts

Video #1: 10 Minute Solution Pilates with Lisbeth Garcia

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Let’s get something straight: Lisbeth Garcia does not f$%* around. The “10 minute workout” title is deceiving. Yes, there are 5 different workouts on her 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates video, all of which are 10 minutes each, but you’re getting way more than 10 minutes worth because she moves around like a cat with a mouse stuck down her maternity pants. Only she’s like, about to give birth in the video, so the whole time you’ll be both struggling to follow her and worrying she’s going to go squat in the corner and deliver, or that her baby will just pop out while she’s ‘bicycling’ away. “Keep going!” she’d probably say, “I’ll go cut the chord and be right back! Now switch to the left side, I’m watching you!”

For those of you who don’t have great balance, not to worry, because she’ll never ask you to do “tree pose” or anything that involves staying still for more than two seconds. And for you kegel-haters out there, I have both good news and bad news: good news is she’ll never ask you to sit down to do kegels, but the bad news is that it’s because her whole effing video is one giant kegel exercise. Only she tricks your vagina into doing them and it’s not until the very end when you realize what’s been happening, because when you finally stop moving you’ll suddenly have to pee so bad you’ll think your water broke.

You’ll have to do this video a few times before you feel like you can keep up with her and know what’s coming next, and you’ll only have a few nanoseconds to look up at the screen, for which of course you’ll use to make sure you’re doing the right moves and also to see if she popped out her kid. But all in all, I really do love this video and feel like it’s a great workout to follow if you’re familiar with pilates and want to stay active while pregnant. To give you a better frame of reference I convinced my non-pregnant sister to do this workout with me, and it gave her such a good one that she is downloading it for herself.

Video #2: Prenatal Yoga with Desi Bartlett.

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We slow it down now with a soothing Prenatal Yoga with Desi Bartlett. Desi has a blissful, calm energy that will make you want to hug her, and also push her over just to see if she’s still smiling with her eyes closed when she hits her yoga mat. Her set for this video is a beautiful and serene room, with peaceful music and – wait – what’s behind those bamboo plants back there, Desi – is that a bong I see? Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Desi’s video is a bit choppy in that it has a few abrupt breaks, but I think that’s when she must run off-screen to take a few hits off her bong (again, Desi, it’s our little secret).

Desi’s video will certainly bring Zen to your pregnancy, and will also make you wonder: if you fall over during “tree pose” and your instructor is too high to notice, did it really happen? It doesn’t matter. Because by the time I’m done with her routine I feel like what I imagine Gumby feels like after popping a few Xanax, and if I actually did fall over I probably wouldn’t give a down dog, anyway.

Speaking of Gumby…

Video #3: Prenatal Yoga With Shiva Rea

If you were wondering what Desi was smoking in the last video, this Prenatal Yoga With Shiva Rea video will make you wonder what you might have accidentally inhaled during your workout with Desi. pregnancy_video_yoga_2The outfits. THE OUTFITS. I have so many questions. But first, their names: “Poppy”, “Brita” (with an emphasis on the “t”, don’t get it twisted), and “Shiva”. While you might feel like Gumby after Desi’s workout, these three preggsters got together and decided they wanted to look like him.

I mean, who approved this wardrobe choice?! My only conclusion is that they all had favorites and no one could agree, so the director punished them all by forcing them to wear matching maternity onesies. I imagine the argument backstage went something like this:

BRITA (instructor in her 2nd trimester): I think we should wear the Athleta outfits.

POPPY (instructor in her 3rd trimester): But I want to wear the Lulu Lemon outfit!

 SHIVA (instructor in her first trimester): No way, we are wearing the Beyond Yoga set!

DIRECTOR: THAT’S IT!! I can’t take it anymore. You’re going with the first thing I see in wardrobe, which happens to be these unitards leftover from the Gumby filmings.

The good part about these outfits is that you won’t have to worry about anything “falling out” – but that’s because EVERY DAMN THING is on display. I mean these things don’t really leave much to the imagination, do they?

But the part that takes the cake for me is when all three go to the floor to walk you through the kegels exercise. They sit there with strange looks on their faces, motionless because, of course, unlike leg lifts or side stretches, you can’t actually see someone practicing her kegels (thank sweet baby Jesus). So you’re going off of what you think is right. But instead of the usual “squeeze and release” instructions, they go a step further and say things like: “Take the elevator up to the first floor, then the second, now the third, and the fourth; now back down slowly to the third floor, the second floor, the first floor, and down to the bottom.” Um, ladies? I think my elevator broke and I’m somewhere in the basement. And there’s a leak.

Once you get past the outfits, kegels, and extremely annoying pronunciation of the word “exhale” forty million times, you’ll find that you get a nice stretch with these ladies and a soothing workout. Nothing strenuous, and if you are an avid yogi you might actually be a little disappointed because it is very basic and light.

I do like, however, how each of the Gumbies ladies are in a different trimester, so you can follow each one and do their modifications if necessary as your tummy grows larger than you ever thought possible, and I also really  like the forty million side-angle stretches they do, because although they are repetitive, they really do feel good. And you’ll get a great – although unintentional – ab workout from all the laughing you’ll be doing.

I did a combination of these 3 videos while pregnant with Penelope and am following the same regimen this time around and I have to say, I’ve been feeling great. The mix of them keep me both relaxed when I need it, active when I’m up to it, and practicing my kegels – whether on the elevator with the “Gumby” sisters or while laughing at all of it, myself included.

Do you have a favorite pregnancy workout? What is it, and what do you like about it?

Pure and Simple: Pure Vitamin Club

Written by Alessandra on . Posted in Favorite Finds, Life

I recently opened our kitchen cabinet to take a look at the ingredients in the vitamins Greg was taking. I am not going to mention the brand in particular, but let’s just say it was LOADED with crap that I wouldn’t even expect to find in a paint can. It also had an extremely unbalanced (and unnecessary) amount of vitamins in it. What a waste. And this was supposedly one of the ‘natural’ brands!

I immediately dumped his stash and got Greg set up with a subscription to Pure Vitamin Club, because they are no BS and they cut right to the chase: no fillers, no synthetic ingredients, no strange crap that shouldn’t be in your daily vitamin. He agreed because, for $9.99/month, they get delivered straight to our door and it’s one less thing he has to think about. (The guy loves when something can be automated.)

Vinnie Tortorich is the trainer behind the Pure Vitamin Club Daily Multicaps (PVC). I don’t pair up with many affiliates on this blog, but the ones I do select are from people and brands I trust and items I use myself. And then I tell you about it, because duh, I’m a writer and an over-sharer. I’ve been a long-time follower of Vinnie and listener of his podcast for many reasons: he is hilarious, genuine, and because he takes a whole-life approach to fitness and actually cares about people. (And it doesn’t hurt that he is a fellow Italian.) I reached out for more information about his vitamins before I purchased my subscription, and this is what he told me:

pure_vitamin_club“Our vitamins are specifically formulated to provide the optimal amount of each ingredient, not more than your body can process. We don’t want you to be buying ‘expensive pee.'”

And also:

“Many people are telling us that they’ve never been able to take vitamins before without getting an upset stomach, but they have no problem with ours.” (You can learn more about all that, here.)

I loved the idea of a vitamin subscription service so much that I put Pure Vitamin Club on my gift guide this past December, but it wasn’t until recently that we started using them in our home. I like efficiency. I like healthy. I like people who make it really easy for me to be both healthy and efficient. And if they can do that, and help me save money? They have my attention. And since these vitamins show up at your doorstep automatically, you’ll never have those weeks in between where you forget to take your vitamins or can’t find time to get to the nearest (overpriced) GNC.

I also like that you can cancel the subscription at any time (because I’m a commitment-phobe), and that there is a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied – no questions asked.

So if you’re in the market for a healthy multi for a great price, see for yourself: Pure Vitamin Club. Tell Vinnie that Ali from PunkWife sent you!

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means I’m sometimes able to partner with cool people and products which I blog about. I only blog stuff I like and products I use myself from people and businesses I believe in. And, if you make a purchase, you will be helping me support this site. Thank you!

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