Meet Our NEWest Contributor: Nicole Alonge

Happy New Year everyone!

It's been a great first year for StellaBella, but we are already looking forward to growth in 2012!   When I started this blog, it was intended as a specific look back on all of the projects I had created in my duplex apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn.   We moved to our new loft last summer, after 8 long years, and I was happy to document all I had accomplished before Moving Day, and even a few more stories after.  

Along the way, I enlisted my pastry chef sister's contribution, and I could not be prouder of her weekly food stories, reviews and recipes!  The blog continues to grow, and the feedback from friends and family has been too positive to not keep moving forward.  Now that Ronnie and I are in our new home, and have different challenges to face (storage being the main culprit), I thought StellaBella could just continue on, as is.  But over the Holidays, an idea was sparked when I spent time with a very special friend.  I asked if she would share her stories with my readers, and become StellaBella's 1st Baby Blogger, and she said YES! 

Nicole Alonge and I met while we were in college, she would come down to the city from SUNY Purchase to visit mutual friends at The New School downtown.  After graduation, she studied in Spain, and on her first trip, she met the man who she would many years later marry, Eduardo!  She went back and lived abroad for 2 years studying to be an English teacher.  Eduardo and Nicole had distance between them for years, whether it was Madrid, New York or Boston while he was studying percussion.  When she was back in New York, we spent many great years together, soaking up the rays on the beaches of Coney Island, or getting a Platza at the Russian Bath House in the East Village.  Nicole was a teacher in the public school system of Queens, NY until they decided to move to Spain permanently after Eduardo and Nicole got married in City Hall!

I had the opportunity to visit them in Madrid in May of 2010, and she helped me with my first blog as we traveled to different villages and cities - attempts to capture my first trip to Europe and an amazing experience with a great friend!  Not more than 2 months after I returned home, Nicole gave me the exciting news - she was expecting her first child!  Violeta Solas-Alonge was born on April 18th, 2011 and in my opinion, she is the most beautiful bundle of StellaBella joy!  Nicole is going to share with us stories on what it is like to be a new mommy living in Madrid, share some recipes, review some products and who knows what else! 

Welcome to the StellaBella Family! 

She answered a few StellaBella questions, so you can get to know her a little better! 

What designer/artist inspires you?  Gaudi and Miro

What pop icon do you love to hate? Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty annoying, and waiting for Lindsay Lohan to f**k up never gets old

Favorite 80’s cartoon? Too many to list, but I liked He-man, Jem, and Inspector Gadget

Favorite 70's cop show?  The Dukes of Hazzard was a favorite of mine

UGGS.  Fugly or  fashion staple? HIDEOUS!

What does creativity mean to you in ONE word? Individuality

Other than being a great mom to Violeta, what are your other passions? I love seeing new places, weekend getaways, running (although I've been on hiatus), the ocean, and I love cooking, especially for others!

What is your favorite piece of your furniture?  Right now I live in a furnished apartment, (which is more common in Spain) so I haven't had much personal input when it comes to decorating. But, I definitely miss my old sofa: beige, lots of throw pillows, and very comfortable!

How does creativity manifest itself in your day-to-day life? A lot of trial and error. When you make mistakes or any error for that matter, you build from there, and create what it is that you're looking to create.

What are some quick and easy ways to re-energize and look refreshed after sleepless nights? Try to sneak in a little midday siesta if possible. A half hour will do the trick.

What is the easiest way to revitalize a stale room? I consider myself to be a minimalist, so I don't like a lot of clutter or things. But I do like a simple room, a few accent pieces, a little color.

What kitchen product can you not live without? Good frying pans, a sharp knife, but overall I need my coffee maker (Spanish style)

What are your favorite (child/baby related) online resources? is awesome for mothers who make their own baby food. It's chock full of information. For forums and general knowledge on growth, milestones, etc. I like

What trends to see emerging for kids (toys/games)? When it comes to this topic, I don't follow trends. Anyone who either has kids or has been around kids knows that the best toys are household objects that stimulate the senses. Kitchen gadgets, empty boxes,etc. Think cheap and simple. Also, I'm a big believer in reading to kids at any age. Books are forever and provide so many skills and foster emotional growth!

Choose 3 words to describe your style as a new mom.  open, natural, relaxed

What would you say is the biggest (most obvious) difference between Spanish and American baby trends? There is a much more laidback approach. Children go to bed much later, they go out with their parents more. It's not odd to see babies or young children out very late at night, or hanging out in a bar with their parents.  People in Spain do not buy all these trendy baby things that are unnecessary (baby wipe warmers, swings, etc). They go for the basics and are simple. There is also a much bigger push for breastfeeding in Spain, whereas in the United States, women tend to opt for formula feeding. It's all a matter of lifestyle and education.

How do you keep your home baby-friendly and safe?  Tools/tricks to not letting Violeta rule your home? Since we live in a small apartment, we make it a point to have as little as possible. For example, a lot of people have playpens that take up space. We don't have Violeta "caged up" in a bulky thing like that. We use a spongy puzzle like playmat that comes apart in case we have a group of people over and need the space. We also keep most of her toys away in a box, keeping only a few out at a time. Not only does this save space, but it keeps her interested in the toys when we change them up every few weeks.

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