summery pasta salad

A few people have asked me about this 'amazing' pasta salad I have been talking about lately. Why have I been talking about it so much, and why have I not been sharing it with Andrew?

Well, because it's just too good, that's why! And I don't think his guy-ness will appreciate it as much as it deserves to be appreciated. And because I want it all to myself. It's just that good!

The only thing I would change when I make this again would be to add some fresh parsley or cilantro if I have it... I just love what fresh herbs do to my food!

Chicken Sausage Pasta Salad Recipe


1lb orzo or other small pasta
4 flavored chicken sausages*, cubed
6-12 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
8oz mozzarella, diced
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper
crushed red pepper flakes

*I used brat-style flavored chicken sausages from Costco. They come in lots of different flavors, but jalapeno/mango is one of our favorites!


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and then pour it into a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sear the chicken sausages until they are browned and heated through. (Alternately, you can leave them whole, grill them, and then dice them up!) Place them in the fridge to chill while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Into the pasta bowl, mix in the sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella (I used string cheese, because that's what I had on hand!). While stirring, drizzle in the olive oil until everything is nicely coated, then squeeze fresh lemon juice, to taste, into the salad. Stir in the sausage and garlic powder, and season to taste with the peppers.

Garnish with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley or another fresh herb. (Cilantro would have been good in this because of the jalapeno/mango sausage!)

Store this salad in the fridge, and really... it only tastes better the longer it sits!

ice cream sundae bites

It has been hot here the last few days.  Really hot!  Like record-breaking hottest temperatures EVER hot!  Even the thought of food made me uncomfortable.  Until I saw this recipe.  I drooled.  But I couldn't do anything about it because it was just too hot to even try messing with ice cream!  Not that I didn't contemplate it, several times! 

So, when it cooled off (way off... like into the 80's.  Downright chilly!), I made these Ice Cream Sundae Bites.  Oh my goodness are they good!  Once again I am not sharing these (I have not been in a sharing mood lately, it seems!) which is only partly true, because Andrew wouldn't eat them anyways.  He doesn't like coffee ice cream.  

I made these with Starbucks Java Chip ice cream, because that's what I had.  Next time I think I will try Haagen Daaz Strawberry ice cream for more of a banana split flavor!  Yummm!  I don't think I will ever go back to eating plain-old boring ice cream out of the container again...

Unless of course I am just too lazy (or it is just too HOT) to make these.  I can't wait until the next time I have company over to make these for, because they are so fun and impressive!

Ice Cream Sundae Bites Recipe
adapted from this recipe by bakeaholic


2 bananas
1 pint ice cream, any flavor
3 cups chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil


Take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften slightly.

Place a baking sheet lined with waxed paper into the freezer to chill. Cut off the tapered ends of 2 bananas and then slice the bananas into approximately 1/4"-1/2" round slices.  Place the slices onto one half of the chilled baking sheet and place it back into the freezer for about 10 minutes.

With a small scoop dipped in hot water to making scooping easier, scoop the ice cream onto the other half of your chilled baking sheet (working quickly to keep it from melting all over!).  Place it back into the freezer for about 30 minutes, until the ice cream is firm.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips and vegetable oil into a small saucepan and melt on very low heat, stirring often, until just melted and smooth.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate!  Put the mixture aside to cool slightly, while you assemble the bites.

Place one ice cream ball onto each slice of banana and place a toothpick through the top to hold them in place.  Return the pan to the freezer for an additional 10 minutes.

Dip each bite into the chocolate, using a spoon to make sure it is all covered.  Tap off the excess chocolate and place back onto your baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the bites until they are all coated and place the baking sheet back into the freezer to set until you are ready to serve them!

Store in tupperware in the freezer, if there are any left that is...  :o)


Sleep Pea Pod...

You've heard my talk about our Miracle Blankets and how amazing they are at helping Bjorn sleep at night.  Now I would like to introduce you to a new friend of ours...  the Sleep Pea Pod!

We've been starting to use it for naps during the day, as it swaddles and comforts Bjorn, but also allows him some movement in his lighter day-time sleep!  

I had been looking for something different, as I didn't want to use his night-time routine for his naps, in case that might confuse him...  (night sleep is SO much more important to me than long naps!).

 When we were down in Portland a few weekends ago for Bjorn's baby shower, he was not having a great day, and so we tried a Sleep Pea Pod that my cousin (and Bjorn's Godmother) Susie had used for her daughter Sarah.   (Susie's holding him in this picture from the shower... and hey...  real men aren't afraid to wear pink!)  :o)

He had a nice little nap, and she offered to let us take it home, but I forgot it.  Instead of trying to connect with her to get that one, I just decided to order a new one, and I'm so glad I did!

Doesn't he just look so calm and peaceful?  Sweet as a pea??  

Oh, and we got the pillow from my cousins at Bjorn's baby shower a few weeks ago...  in case you can't read it, it says "Now I Lay Me Down To CRASH".  So cute!  Thanks Gretchen and Emily!

**I realize as I'm reading this that my thoughts are a little scattered!  :o)  Oh well, must be the heat (all-time record highs here this week.  104 in Seattle today!)...  and I'm too tired to try and make more sense of what's going on in my brain!  Mostly I just wanted to tell you about this great new (to us) product and show off some pics of my oh-so-cute boy!   Now I'm going to go take a cold shower and go to bed with a fan blowing on me.  Goodnight, moon!**


torta cioccolata con crema

a.k.a Italian Chocolate Cake with Perfect Whipped Cream!

This week we got to have our good friends Mike and Sam and family over to celebrate Mike's birthday!  (Yep, this is the very same Michael that our little Bjorn Mikael was named after...  we just changed the spelling a little!)

We of course had one of his favorite meals - Fettucini Alfredo with lots of garlic bread and salad.  For dessert, I wanted to stick with the Italian theme, and make sure it was something chocolate... and this recipe is what I found!  

It's a super quick and easy recipe that is so different...  olive oil, balsamic vinegar, NO eggs...  I just HAD to try it!  And it was good...  You would never know it was so weird!

Our sweet little Berlin was watching her daddy blow out all his candles!  Notice the cloud of smoke?  :o)  How's that for making someone seem old??  And we didn't even have all the candles on the cake!   Sorry Michael...  ;o)

Oh, and the whipped cream is pretty great too...  different than most, sturdier, a little tangy, but not too much.  yummmmm...  

Italian Chocolate Cake with Perfect Whipped Cream Recipe
(this is NOT my recipe...  I forgot the name of the book, but will update this soon!)

1/3 cup (+3 Tablespoons) Dutch process cocoa powder, divided
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brewed espresso (or strong dark coffee)
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat the oven to 400degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch shiny round aluminum cake pan, and dust it lightly with the 3 Tablespooons of  cocoa powder.  Gently tap out any excess.

2.  Whisk the flour, remaining 1/3 cup cocoa powder, soda, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together the coffee, oil, vanilla and vinegar.  Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, blending just until it's lump free.

3.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back at the touch, and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

4.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.  Turn it out onto a cake plate.  Serve with dollops of Perfect Whipped Cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.  

Perfect Whipped Cream:  Combine the whipping cream, sour cream, sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days (yep, I said 5 DAYS!)


Bjorn had fun in the kitchen while I baked...  hanging out with his grandma, when he wasn't lounging around!  :o)  Isn't he CUTE?


rollin' rollin' rollin'

Today we finally tried out Bjorn's gDiapers that we've had since before he was born.  He was way too little for the smallest size when he was born, and I guess I kind of forgot about them, until now!

Of course, I put it on him, and less than an hour later he proceeds to have the biggest poop ever!!  (sorry if that's TMI, but that's life!)  :o)  Needless to say, I was not too impressed, and the mess was beyond disgusting, although it did stay in the diaper, so I guess it worked!

They are STINKIN' cute though!  So, of course, I had to get out the camera for a little cute-baby photo session!  While I was trying to get this shot...

Bjorn decided to do this...

Yep!  He ROLLED OVER!  For the very first time, and I got to catch it on camera!!  :o)  So fun! 

Doesn't he look proud of himself??  :o)

He kept doing it over and over when I put him on his tummy.  There goes tummy-time, I guess!  :o)


monster cookies

We had a garage sale yesterday, so I decided to bake some things to sell...  These monster cookies have always been one of my favorites!  Unfortunately, the sale was pretty poorly attended, but that does mean we still have some goodies left over!  :o)  You won't hear me complain about that!

Oh, and yesterday was Bjorn's 3-month birthday.  Can you believe he's 3 months old already??  I know I can't!!!

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!  We love you!

Monster Cookies Recipe
makes 100 cookies, using a medium cookie scoop

1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups (1lb) creamy peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups (1lb) firmly packed brown sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons baking soda
9 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups m&ms
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1 cup packed sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat your oven to 325ºF.

Cream together the butter peanut butter and sugars.  Beat in the eggs, vanilla & baking soda until well blended. 

Stir in the rest of the ingredients... In a large bowl with your hands if your mixer can't handle the load!  

Scoop the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets, and flatten with a fork dipped in water.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just set and light golden brown around the edges.  

Store these (all cookies, really!) in the freezer for the best results.  If they don't all disappear the first day, that is!  :o)



We have a happy boy who plays!  I never thought this day would come.  

But I guess that's not really true.  I did think this day would come, but I couldn't even fathom when it would come.  It was so hard to see past the tears and pain that were our normal everyday life.  It was so hard to imagine a baby that would smile more than once or twice a day and that would look at me with joy instead of pain!

Bjorn still has a ways to go, but he has so many more happy moments in his day and so many fewer episodes of pain.  I've even caught myself surprised by his pain, when for so long I have always expected it!  It's such an amazing feeling.  

Right now I am even typing two-handed... which has not happened in months!... while Bjorn is happily playing on his new-to-us play mat that our friends Sam and Berlin gave him.  I almost feel more akward now about trying to type with both hands, than with just one like I'm used to.  :o)

He loves the birds and monkeys and the pretty rainbow above his head.  Berlin had so much fun showing him all the toys and so wanted to pick him up and play with him!  He was a little too big for her though...  but he put up with her flirting!  Such a boy.  :o)

Isn't this such a peaceful face?  Can you see how not in pain he is here?

Our life is finally semi-calm (hey, we do still have a rambunctious 7 year old running around!), and I'm trying to get used to this new normal.  I am so used to his constant misery that I keep having to be reminded that this is normal life with a baby...  playing, smiling talking...  and I am loving it!  


Sweet Anna's Amazon Store

I'm sure some of you are wondering what the "Sweet Anna's Amazon Store" is.  Is it a real store?  Just a fun wish list?  Why did I set it up?

Well, the Sweet Anna's Amazon Store is a fun way for us to share the products we love, and at the same time help us earn a little income.  Yes, it is a real store.

Run by Amazon, it is a way for us to bring them business and share with you our favorite things.  Every purchase made on Amazon by someone who has gone through our store (even if they just use it as a gateway into the regular Amazon site) earns us a percentage of the sale.  

Obviously, in these staying-home-with-babies times, the income is a motivation.  But also, being someone who loves to try new things and gets so excited about telling people when I have found something wonderful, I am excited to have a way to showcase my favorite things!

I spend hours researching before almost every purchase I make, and I would love to save you that time.  Almost every item in our store is something we use and love, and we will be thrilled to answer any questions you might have!

Also, when I get excited about something like this, and tell you to run out and by one of these, you don't have to go searching for it!  Seriously...  I would love to be your personal shopper!

So, please...  bookmark this page http://astore.amazon.com/thethomasfa00-20 and check back often for new product suggestions!!

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