pumpkin whoopie pies with cinnamon cream cheese filling

This buttery, rich pumpkin version of whoopie pies is like delicious personal little pumpkin cakes.  They are so comforting and Fall-ish!  

Who doesn't love a whoopie pie?  Seriously...  who?!

Perfect with a big mug of hot black coffee... in front of a glowing fire, if you have one! 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling Recipe

for the cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
3 cups chilled pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. 

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well mixed.  Whisk in the pumpkin puree until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well combined. 

Using a small scoop, drop dough about 1 inch apart onto parchment lined baking sheets.  

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the top is slightly crackly and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets while you prepare the filling.

Using your mixer, beat the butter until totally smooth. Beat in cream cheese until combined. Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon just until smooth (don't overbeat!).

Turn half of the cookies upside down and dollop with 1 teaspoon of the frosting. Sandwich with another cookie, and press gently to even out the filling. Store in the fridge!


simple sweet potato shepherd's pie

I had a bag of Steam n' Mash sweet potatoes in my freezer that were calling my name, so I threw together this easy, comforting dish. We all loved it, including my 6 month old baby who had his pureed with this great baby food mill! :o)

Simple Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie Recipe

2-3 lbs ground beef
3 cups frozen corn, peas or mixed veggies
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 - 1 1/2 cups beef stock
salt & pepper
ground ginger
orange & lemon zest
mashed sweet potatoes*

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in a bit of olive oil, seasoning it well with salt, pepper & spices. Remove to a 9x13" baking dish, and set aside.

In the same pan you browned the beef in, saute the onions until soft - adding a little more olive oil, if needed, and scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic!

Stir in the condensed soup and stock, stirring well to combine, and simmer on low.

While the sauce/onion mixture is simmering, scatter the frozen corn on top of the ground beef in your baking dish. Pour the sauce evenly over the top, then 'frost' with your mashed sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and paprika, and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling.

TIP: This is a great make ahead dish: Just prepare the dish without baking it and place it in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use it. If refrigerated, bake time will be more like 50-60 minutes!

*my super-simple mashed sweet potatoes:
1 bag Oreida Steam n' Mash sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
ginger, lemon & orange zest - to taste


don't hold me back

On October 8th, Bjorn sat up unassisted for the first time! As you can see... he had a little motivation from daddy. :o)

But he has been unstoppable ever since! He's not getting up to sitting from laying down yet, but if he's at all reclined, he wants to SIT!


I Love My Daddy...

... SO much!

our lazy days comfort food...

When I am just too lazy tired to make anything for dinner that requires any effort, these are our go-to meals. Yep. I'm admitting it. And I'm not going to be ashamed. My boys love this stuff... and the excitement this lazy food generates is sometimes motivation enough to serve it!

Now, I don't serve them this stuff every night... but it's definitely at the top of our special treats list! (Just ask Navy - we don't eat much that comes out of a box or a can around here, so it's always a fun treat if we do! Not to mention a nice break for me!) :o)


soccer daddy love

watching daddy play soccer...

concentrating so hard on the game...

while mommy takes pictures of my shoes?!


a turning napping point

It all started with a lovely girls-weekend (+baby!) at a women's retreat at a very nice hotel that was supposed to be a wonderful relaxing weekend and turned into an exhausting no-sleep-for-anyone weekend. Bjorn refused to sleep in the fancy-schmancy hotel and I guess I reached my breaking point.

(You'd sure think he was happy there, wouldn't you?) :o)

So, on one of our little outings to the nearby mall, we ended up in the baby-book section of Border's and I found a book called "the no-cry nap solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. Yep. I bought it just because of the name. And because I was exhausted.

I'm pretty sure my mom laughed at me. (And if she didn't out loud, I'm sure she was laughing on the inside!)

Well, it turned out to have some pretty good ideas in it! And I will confess, I haven't even read the whole thing yet... just skipped through and read some chapters here and there that seemed to relate to us. I really like the no-cry thing. (Or I should say relatively-no-cry, compared to the CIO methods out there!) I guess I'm just not strong enough to listen to my baby wail when all he wants is me!

Basically, for us, it was a change of routine as far as his eating goes (remember him always falling asleep nursing?) and re-learning his sleepy-signs. I think I was always letting him go too far into exhaustion. Now he rarely stays awake for more than 2 hours during the day, except for the evening stretch before bedtime. And he nurses when he wakes up instead of when he gets tired, and has a real-food snack before naptime if he's hungry!

Now, there are so many more things I have learned already from this book, but I will stop for now. I don't want to bore you all! :o)

And I want to enjoy this relaxing coffee break while my baby naps away in his crib and my other baby watches a little Dora!


a cry for help...

UPDATE: So, I'm not feeling such an urgent need for help at the moment, but I wanted to post this anyways, since I wrote this 2 days ago, but our internet hasn't been working so I couldn't post it. I will explain more about why I'm not feeling so desperate soon! :o)

...BIG time!

I need your help mamas! My 6-month-old not-so-little-anymore baby is turning a new chapter in our lives. He is growing up, doing things on his own, becoming a little man... and I am so ready to move on from holding him for naps.

Now, please just skip over the judgement on this one, and go straight to the helpful advice! :o)

I know, very well thank you, that I should have stopped holding him for his naps a long time ago. Like 5 months ago! At least that's what 'they' say. But I didn't. I couldn't. And now I am ready to begin the tough journey of weaning us from each other.

Speaking of weaning... I want to present you with the toughest challenge of this endeavor (in my opinion anyways!). Bjorn is exclusively breastfed (NO bottles) and has always fallen asleep while he nurses. Almost every time. He starts to eat and then passes out.

Can you really blame him? Cuddles and warm milk would do the same thing to me!

And then he continues to eat/sleep/eat/sleep for sometimes more than an hour. Which means not so good rest for him, and no rest for me.

The problem is, as soon as I try to un-latch him so that I can even consider moving him to his bed, he wakes up hungry and voraciously starts eating again... for 2 seconds. Then he passes out again.

And please don't say that he is manipulating me. I don't believe that a 6 month old can be manipulative, and you're not going to change my mind on that one!

Also, I am not looking at moving him to a bottle at all. So... there's my first hurdle! How do I get him to eat without falling asleep? Or at least, how do I convince him he's done eating, when he thinks he's not??

I've tried just about everything to keep him awake while he eats, and it never works. All I've succeeded in doing is getting him to STOP eating, and then when he tries again, he falls asleep,again. I'm running out of ideas mamas...



happy half-birthday!

My sweet baby boy,

Where does the time go?

6 months ago, today, I held you for the first time. I looked into your beautiful face and knew that my life would never be the same. I loved you so much, with all of my being, and I instantly realized that this time would go by way too fast. And I mourned the loss of you - being with me - every moment of every day.

The next 4 weeks I spent almost every waking moment holding you and staring in wonder at your beautiful face. I could hardly let you go, even to share you with all of the people who love you and wanted to get to know you. I knew then, as I do now, that my grip on you would fade more and more each day for the rest of my life. And I slowly loosened my grip to allow others into your life.

But as my grip fades - I pray that my place in your heart grows. I pray for you every day. Every moment that passes, you are on my mind and in my heart. I pray that you would listen to the words God has given for you, and that you would find a true, personal relationship with Him. I pray that your heart would be open to His calling in your life. I pray for your health and your safety. I pray for your future wife. For the family you will one day have, Lord willing. For the love you will share with those around you. And I pray most of all that I would be able to be there for you, and that I would get to be a part of the rest of your life.

I know that is a selfish prayer, but life is so fleeting. And even though I know there is a better Home waiting for us, I can't help but want to spend as much time as God will allow on this earth - being your mom. I was made to be your mom. I have loved you and prayed for you and waited for you for most of my life. And you are so much more than I ever could have imagined!

I love you, my sweet, sweet boy. I will always love you.


Isn't She Lovely?

My other baby... :o)

Our good friends Mike & Sam (who are also the same friends who have so generously given us many of their hand-me-down baby treasures!) are letting Bjorn and I hang out with their daughter Berlin a few days a week!

She is the sweetest thing, and SOmuchfun for Bjorn! They already spend a good chunk of their time flirting with each other. (When she's not trying to step on his face or pick him up, that is!) But can you blame them? Isn't she LOVELY?!

And in case you were afraid that my devotion has shifted... here is a picture of the most beautiful boy... enjoying his first taste of Cheerios! :o)


cloth... week one

Day one: 8 cloth/1 disposable (for bedtime). Cloth held in poop, even though he was in his jump-up! Disposables NEVER hold it in for him. Score: cloth 1/disposables 0

Day two: 6 cloth/1 disposable. Cloth has a noticeable pee-smell most of the time. Never had that, even with unscented disposables. Score: cloth 0/disposables 1

Day three: 5 disposables. Spent the day in the City visiting my parents. Wasn't brave enough to try cloth on a whole-day outing! :o) No score today.

Day four: 4 cloth/1 disposable. Wet bag and diaper pail liners arrived! Happy to not be wasting Ziplocs anymore! No leaks at all today (but no #2's to judge!). No score today.

Day five: 5 cloth/3 disposables (long night of waking and diaper changes!).

Day six: 5 cloth/2 disposables

Day seven: 5 cloth/1 disposable. After 4 days of NOTHING... Bjorn let loose! gDiapers held it all in (and I didn't think that was even possible!). That gives them a HUGE advantage! Score: cloth 100/disposables 0

Overall, I am very happy with this decision so far! Other than that annoying, yet very faint, pee-smell (that most-likely only I would notice), I have no complaints with this cloth-diapering thing! :o)

Bjorn uses about 5-6 cloth diapers a day, and I throw a load into the wash every night (or two if there's no poopy dipes in there)... Using the Whites setting on my washer (HOT) and regular unscented Kirkland Signature laundry soap, I have had no stains or residual smells so far.

I am using a disposable diaper at night, because I don't want him to wake up feeling wet and want to be changed in the middle of the night. I haven't decided if I will keep that up. What are your thoughts on cloth at night? Do you have any problems with leaks or babies wanting a change a midnight??

Oh and with this impressive lack of blow-outs compared to disposable diapers, I am now beating myself up for not trying this whole thing earlier!! :o)


my little foodie

I shouldn't be surprised. I mean, really... foodie that I am... I should be proud of my food-loving son and his adventurous taste buds. I should love that he wants to try new things and loves real food in all different flavors and textures! And I should be excited about all the new experiences he gets to have.

But instead I find myself a little sad. My baby is growing up, and I am no longer enough for him.


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