Author: Stephanie Jaya

Brielle Turns One

I’ve never considered myself to be a motherly person by nature, by any measure. Before having a child, if you’d asked me whether I like kids, I’d say I like them, enough. If you ask me the same question today, I’d tell you no different. But what’s changed is my newfound empathy I have for parents, especially those with babies and toddlers. I admit I used to be one of those people who silently prays they never have to sit close by babies or toddlers on the plane, dreading the possibilities of having to tolerate the relentless and tormenting cycle of crying, screaming, and chair-kicking. I guess I still pray so. But knowing that the crying, screaming, and chair-kicking toddler could be mine, I absolutely feel for parents who are trying their best to keep things under control (and their sanity). As I watch B grow everyday, it’s a bittersweet reality for me. As she learns about the world and becomes more and more independent, she will need less and less of me. A time …

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Pancakes fill a special, special place in my heart. It’s soft, pillowy, much like the pillows I sleep on at night. Except better. Plus these ones carry extra flavors of lemon, ricotta, and blueberries. I’ve cooked traditional pancakes before, but ricotta pancakes make for an even softer, more moist and delicate texture. As for the blueberry compote, I had extra so I saved it to spread over toast the next morning. The trick to getting those web marks on pancake tops? Lots, and lots of butter. Oh, and best to eat these cake-style. Servings: 6 pancakes INGREDIENTS Pancakes 1 cup ricotta cheese 2 egg yolks ¾ cup milk ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons lemon zest 1 cup flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder Blueberry Compote 2 cups blueberries ½ cup sugar ½ cup water 1 tablespoon lemon juice  PREPARATION 1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg yolk, milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Whisk until smooth, then add flour and baking powder. Mix this until fully combined. 2. In a separate …

10 Surprising Things About Being A New Mom

When Brielle goes down for a nap and I have a moment to myself, I would sometimes think about life before she came along. There wasn’t a specific point in time when we decided to have kids; we just knew we didn’t want to wait too long. The excitement of finding out I was pregnant was unlike any other. And while the warm feeling of carrying a little human inside me never left, pregnancy and childbirth are not without their own woes. But after actually giving birth and discovering there’s a tiny person who’s convinced she’s a koala and constantly needs to tag on to her mama, I realized pregnancy was in fact the easy part. From the day this baby popped out of me, I am forever a mother. No matter how old she or I turn. Without a doubt, becoming a mom has been the biggest thing that’s happened in my life and I’ve been reflecting on what has surprised me the most. 1. It’s more exhausting than I ever imagined. Everyone always …

Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt

One of the most frequent after-dinner desserts we as a family grab is frozen yogurt. For those times ice cream and pancakes feel a tad much, we opt for this supposed healthy and guilt-free treat. Although I still consider store-bought frozen yogurt a treat because hey, there are few things that taste that good I’d label as “guilt-free.” But this homemade strawberry banana sweet might just be one! And it is positively healthy because it only calls for strawberries, banana, and plain yogurt. Most of the sweetness is owed to the bananas, and the combination of sweet and sour makes for a refreshing (and colorful) goody. I love it as an afternoon snack, but even more for those late-night nibbling. Enjoy! Servings: 4 INGREDIENTS 3 cups frozen strawberries 3 frozen bananas 2/3 cup plain yogurt Chopped fresh strawberries (optional) PREPARATION 1. Combine frozen fruit and yogurt in a food processor, blend until smooth. 2. Spread mixture onto an glass baking dish, and sprinkle on fresh strawberries. 3. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours. …

Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms

Eggs are easily my favorite everyday go-to protein food, especially on those days I have no time to put together a proper meal. While on a regular day I would do the usual scramble or boil, I’d been wanting to put my colorful ramekins to good use. This recipe is straightforward, versatile, and can be made with an endless choice of ingredients and served for any time of day. Even better, it requires no chopping! I used frozen spinach (so great to have on-hand) and with white button mushrooms, I easily broke them into chunks with my fingers. The rest is a matter of layering the mushroom, spinach, and eggs. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper layer by layer. And to top it off, I used wax paper to cover the top surface to allow for steaming. We had this for last Sunday’s brunch for four and the only complaint I got was that I didn’t make enough. And my personal regret? Cheese. How did I not remember to put cheese? Servings: 4 …

16 Things Every New Parent Needs

Months before Brielle’s birth, we had frequented many baby shops. From the start, I was cautious not to go overboard and to buy only the essentials, with the exception of too-cute-to-pass-up socks, mittens, onesies, dresses, headbands, and actually anything borderline cute. Which was most everything. Obviously, I bended. Most times I couldn’t resist and always justified every non-essential purchase with the thought that this was our first. But among the things we have for Brielle, I’ve rounded up sixteen of ones I use on an everyday or almost everyday basis and have proven to work well for us. Here’s a list of the items new parents may find useful. 1. Medela Freestyle Pump This double-pump has truly been my best friend, only second to the baby. While it’s considerably pricey compared to other pumps, it’s totally worth it since I’ve gotten so much use out of it day in day out. 2. PumpEase Pumping Bra To go with the pump, I use this wrap-around bra so I can pump hands-free, easily move about and get …

What’s in My Diaper Bag

Before becoming a mom, I’ve always thought diaper bags symbolized the unglamorous face of motherhood. Now that I am a mom, I still think diaper bags are a bit of a torment. Just a bit. Especially when you leave for the day and forget them at home! But hey, they are essential to caring for the little one. Even though they are likely bulky, massive, and messy. I organized Brielle’s first diaper bag several weeks before she was born. Since then, I’ve gone through several bags, and reorganized over and over until I was satisfied with the arrangement. For now. This crucial tote now carries Brielle’s essentials, as well as mine since I’ve almost given up on carrying an extra handbag because I have exactly two hands. And while diaper bags can be a headache to pack, it doesn’t have to be an eyesore. To start, I chose a sizeable bag that I already own and one that I actually like, the large Longchamp Le Pliage tote. I also use a product that I just …

Brielle’s Birth Story

On Friday September 2nd, twelve days before my due date, I woke up noticing a little blood discharge when I went to pee. I didn’t think much of it and went about my day as I normally did. R had been working from home for the past week to stay with me so we would be ready to drive to the hospital whenever baby decided to pop. In the afternoon I started feeling some cramps here and there, but still did groceries and went for my 30-minute walk which I had started every day since entering 37 weeks. That night I went to bed like any other night, except I was awakened every hour by a piercing sensation in my anus, a feeling like I kept needing to poop. While I pooped a little, the rest of the night was just me going back and forth to sit at the toilet and breathing through what I later realized were in fact contractions! I didn’t wake R because I didn’t want to alarm him and since …

What’s in My Hospital Bag

We’re just 12 days away from baby’s due date. At 38 weeks and 2 days today, she could decide to pop at any time now. Whoa! Things are starting to get very real. The sleepless nights, toilet runs, and worries aside, I’m feeling ecstatic about welcoming baby to this world, and to our growing little family. Spending time in the nursery and putting together baby’s things makes me feel close to baby. Feeling baby’s movements inside of me keeps me entertained and lets me know baby is well. It’s funny that I always used to feel cold and get the chills, but now it’s the opposite. And I have this tiny human inside of me to thank for keeping me warm. Now, onto serious business. I know it may be premature, but I’m not an advocate of anything last-minute—unless it’s something yummy like ice cream or crepes. So to avoid havoc, I’m packing our hospital bag so it’s ready to grab to go with us on the big day. Here’s a list of things (which I’ve …

Pregnancy Post: One-Month Countdown

When we found out we were expecting back in January, the idea that we would be welcoming a child into our family felt a long ways away. I was focused on me, my well-being, and my newly pregnant situation. Now looking back, the first trimester is a distant memory—a blurry few months of nausea, lethargy, and unproductivity, all looped in a cycle of a confused jetlag. And now that it’s less than a month away from baby’s birth, I’m all about baby and everything I can think of that she’ll need. So far I’ve gained 10 kilograms, while baby is measured at 2.8, which according to the doctor is whopper! And that worries me a whole lot. I’ve always known I wanted to go the natural route and have been watching (for the most part) my food intake to avoid baby from gaining too much. Clearly this little one is a big eater. And now hearing and reading about how labor pain is pretty high up there on the pain index, trumping breaking one’s bones …