I truly believe there is no worse heart-pain as a parent than not being able to take care of your child.  Whatever the reason... whether they are sick, you are sick, you are apart or things are just bigger than you can handle... nothing hurts as much as not being able to care for your child.  At least that's how I feel.

God created us, as parents, to care for our children.  To love them, to cherish them, to protect them and to raise them up (in the way they should go!).  When something happens that interferes with those instincts, it is so painful.

A few weeks ago I got sick.  Miserably sick.  Yes, it may have been just the flu...  but being 7+ months pregnant and having the flu is a much different thing than having the flu as an otherwise healthy non-pregnant person.  When you have a strong contraction every time you throw up (sorry for the TMI on this usually food-related blog!) and then end up having regular contractions at 33 weeks for several hours the next day because of dehydration, things can get pretty scary.

Even worse than that, for me, was the knowledge that I couldn't take care of Bjørn when he needed me.  I couldn't pick him up, hold him, or care for him because my body wouldn't let me, and I felt so lost...  so helpless.  We happened to be at my parents house when I got sick, and I am so grateful that they were there for us.  I don't know what I would have done if we had been at home alone!

I am lucky.  Or rather, I am blessed.  My Father had his arms wrapped around my family and we were protected and are fine.  And I have never been more grateful!  In the depths of my helplessness, I was reminded of how wonderful it is to be healthy and whole.  Every day, I am trying to remind myself to enjoy the not-so-helpless days, even when they don't feel so great, because things could always be much, much worse!


slow cooker barbeque beef sandwiches

On most chilly fall mornings I wake up thinking about what I can put in the slow cooker for the day...  something about the smells filling up the house all day just makes the cold seem cozier!

This time, for inspiration, I went out to the freezer in the garage to see what we had in there.  I found a couple of packages of rib steaks and decided to throw them in the slow cooker with a homemade barbeque sauce for shredded beef sandwiches.

It smelled great all day, and tasted even better!

Slow Cooker Barbeque Beef Sandwiches Recipe

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar (cider, white wine or red wine vinegar)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 oz tomato paste
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
3 lbs or so beef roast (pork would work great too!)

Mix together all of the ingredients, except for the meat, in the slow cooker, stirring well to combine.  

Cut the meat into large chunks and place into the slow cooker, turning the pieces to make sure everything is coated with the sauce.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart.  Shred the meat and return to the sauce to keep warm.

To serve, toast your favorite buns until golden brown and pile with meat!  Also great with a few slices of cheese thrown onto the bread before you toast it...  yumm!


36 weeks!

We're getting so close!  As of today, this baby is in the clear to come whenever he wants!

Now, I would love for him to stay in until he is good and ready...  but if he happens to be good and ready a little sooner than 40+ weeks, that would be fine with me!  :o)
I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  We can't wait to meet you, sweet boy!!


sour cream sugar twists (aka starlight sugar crisps)

Some of my favorite recipes for the holidays come from my grandma's kitchen... and more specifically from her 1950's copy of Pillsbury's Best Butter Cookies Vol II (no date, but the price on the cover is 20 cents!).

Since I get to start my holiday baking quite early this year (you know, because my hands will be full come the end of november!!) I was excited to make one of my favorite holiday treats!  Fortunately these freeze wonderfully, otherwise I would have a hard time not eating them all... right now!

In my family, we have always called these cookies Sour Cream Sugar Twists.  I actually didn't know they had a different name until I saw the recipe in the pillsbury cookbook!

So yes, these are officially called "Starlight Sugar Crisps" but to me they will always be Sour Cream Sugar Twists.

Sour Cream Sugar Twists (Starlight Sugar Crisps) Recipe
"Senior First Prize Winner in Pillsbury's 8th Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest by Mrs. Leland E. Ross, Roscommon, Michigan"

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm (but not hot!  about 105º) water
3 3/4 cups flour (spoon gently into your measuring cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold butter, diced
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Stir the yeast into the warm water and set aside to soften.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt.  Cut in the butter until particles are the size of small peas.  Blend in the eggs, sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the softened yeast.  Mix thoroughly.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours (or up to 4 days).

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  In a small bowl, combine sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, stirring well to combine.

Roll out half of the chilled dough on a board that has been sprinkled with about 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar.  Roll out to a 16x8" rectangle.  Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon more vanilla sugar.

Fold one end of the dough over the center.  Fold the other end over to make 3 layers.  Turn 1/4 way around and repeat rolling and folding twice, sprinkling the board and dough with additional vanilla sugar as needed.

Roll out to a 16x8" rectangle about 1/4" thick.  Cut into 4x1" strips.  Twist each strip 2 or 3 times and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown.  Repeat the entire process with the remaining dough.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Red Star Yeast!


eggnog frosted nutmeg cookie logs

When I start anticipating the holiday season each year, I get excited about all the smells and treats and the memories that go along with them.

To me Christmas is eggnog lattes, sour cream sugar twists, kransekake, lefse, krumkake, satsumas, rømmegrøt, and these cookies... a recipe from the 1950's Pillsbury's Best Butter Cookie Cookbook that I have updated slightly to have even more of an eggnog flavor!

Everything we love about eggnog in a fun 'snow-covered-log' cookie, these treats are always at the top of my list of Christmas baking!

Nutmeg Cookie Logs (with Egg Nog Frosting) Recipe

for the cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum flavoring
for the frosting:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons eggnog
nutmeg, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and nutmeg to combine.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, vanilla and rum until well combined.

Slowly mix in the flour mixture, blending well.  (This is a somewhat firm dough, and should mix up into a big ball).

On a lightly floured surface, roll pieces of the dough into long logs, about 1/2" in diameter.  Cut into 3" pieces and place the pieces on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are just barely golden brown.  Cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.

To make the frosting:  Cream together the butter and vanilla.  Beat in 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon eggnog, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon eggnog, 1 cup powdered sugar and the remaining tablespoon of eggnog (if needed) - beating well between each addition until you have a nice spreading consistency.  Spread some frosting on the top of each cookie, and then sprinkle

This frosting will set up and not be too soft, making these cookies easy to store and transport.  These also freeze wonderfully, and can be made weeks in advance!


aprons and smiles...

Yesterday Bjørn came up to me with one of my aprons and begged for me to help him put it on.  (Well...  grunted and whined actually, but you get the point!)

He then proceeded to wear it around the house for the next hour, always making sure I was watching, and giving me these great cheesy grins!
Goofy facial expressions are a new thing for him lately, and they are so much fun!  I was excited to finally get them on camera!
He was obviously having a great time...  don't you think?
And here are the serious big brown eyes that we all know and love...
Oh, I just love this little boy so much!


easy raspberry strudel

Coffee tastes so much better with a treat along side it, doesn't it?

I've made this strudel a few times now, and it just keeps getting better.  The first time, I just used a can of pillsbury crescent rolls for the dough.  It was fine, but doesn't even compare to homemade!

This dough comes together like a pie crust, but the cream cheese in it makes it rich and very easy to work with.  I like to use my homemade raspberry freezer jam when I make this, but you could really use any type or flavor of jam.  And the almond glaze just puts this treat over the top!

Try it...  it's easier than you think!

Easy Raspberry Strudel Recipe
adapted from bunsinmyoven.com

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
3 ounces cream cheese, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter and cream cheese with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Pour 1/2 cup milk over the flour/butter mixture and stir together with a fork until everything is just combined and a the dough holds together when you pinch some in your fingers.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead 4-5 times until it has come together and formed a ball.  Roll the dough out to an 8"x12" rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Mark the dough in thirds lengthwise (use the back of a knife...  don't cut all the way through!).  Spread the jam over the center section.  Make diagonal cuts about an inch or two apart down both sides, and fold the strips over each other to make a braided pattern over the jam.  (At this point, I usually brush the top of the dough with a lightly beaten egg or some cream to help the top brown and give it a prettier look.  Completely optional though!)

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and lightly browned on top.

While the strudel cools a bit, make the glaze.  In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and extract.  Drizzle the glaze over the strudel, cut into strips and serve with a mug of strong coffee!  :o)  (This recipe makes about 4-6 servings...  or 2 servings if any one of the people you are serving is pregnant!)  ;o)

This could easily be made ahead and frozen.  Just let it thaw and pop it into a 350ºF oven for a few minutes to warm it back up!


shrinking crocs

Apparently I have discovered a way to make a tiny size 2/3 pair of crocs!  (The smallest size they sell for babies is 4/5.)

I have washed crocs before, and never noticed a difference, but this time I threw them in with the regular laundry (in two separate loads, because I couldn't find one for a while!) and one is now significantly smaller than the other.

This is not a big deal for us, as I was just washing these to put away for baby #2, but hopefully I will be able to shrink the bigger one down to the same as the now smaller one!   :o)

Check out the pics!  (And yes, I promise these are the same pair of crocs, and they were well worn and loved by Bjørn all summer long!)

Actually I think the shoe that shrunk so much actually looks nicer and newer now than the other!


pumpkin cookies with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Fall is officially here.  And I needed to bake something pumpkin-y.  But I also wanted something new, because... well...  I like new things!

These cookies were the perfect fix!  Soft, moist pumpkin cookies with a fluffy cream cheese frosting definitely conquered the pumpkin craving.  At least for today...  :o)

Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.

In your mixer bowl cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the dry ingredients until blended.

Scoop the batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cookies spring back when you gently press the tops.  Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
In your clean mixer bowl, beat together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until fluffy.  Spread on top of the cooled cookies.

For best results, store these cookies in the fridge or freezer and let them come to room temperature before serving!


international babywearing week

In honor of International Babywearing Week (yes, this week)...  I sent this post I wrote when Bjørn was little to a friend over at Bring Birth Home.  She has posted it on the blog...  go check it out if you'd like!  :o)

I've also added this post to the blogroll at Adventures In Babywearing and on the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance Facebook page.

Click here for the post on Bring Birth Home post.  The original post is below (and check out the very bottom for an update!):


I have an addiction.

It's unhealthy, and healthy at the same time. I'm not proud of it, but I also am very proud of it.

I am addicted to my baby... I am addicted to his smell. His kisses. His smiles. The feel of his soft downy hair, and his chubby smooth cheeks. I am addicted to the warmth and coziness of him being in my arms.

I am addicted... to baby wearing.

What started as a mere convenience - being able to have my arms back while still holding my fussy, miserable newborn - turned into a full-blown addiction, complete with now 5 baby carriers.

It all started with this Balboa Baby sling.

My mom bought it for me, and it was so fun to 'hide' my baby in there when he was brand new!  (Side note:  I now am painfully aware of how WRONG I was wearing my baby in this sling!  And I am so glad I didn't end up using it for long!!)

But Bjorn soon started fighting being 'bunched up', because of all the pain he was in. Enter the Moby.

Our favorite friend, and miracle-worker. Still my all-time favorite baby carrier, even though we don't use him much any more. Nothing compares to the closeness, comfort for both baby and mama, and all-day-wearability!

We lived in this thing for months! (I even have 2, because if one was in the wash, we needed to be able to wear the other!) The only down-side, for us? It's not too convenient for occasional wear and lots of 'in and out'.

Now that Bjorn is bigger (and feeling a lot better, thanks to his reflux meds!), we have been using mostly our Baby Bjorn carrier. Great for short wear, or lots of in and out, the Baby Bjorn is an old standby for most people. I like it. And it's the only one my husband will wear!

My biggest complaint with the Baby Bjorn? Since my baby Bjorn doesn't like to face out (too much stimulation!), he is constantly 'walking' on my legs, leaving bruises if I have to wear him for too long! What now?

Well, we are now getting to know our newest friend... Ergo. So far, we like him. A lot! We've only had him for a few days, and are still getting used to the feel of it all, but it's so much more comfortable for me than the Baby Bjorn, as my Bjorn's legs sit more around my hips instead of just dangling straight down!

I'm sure I will have lots more to say about this newest friend of ours as we get to know him better! :o)


and an update:

We have officially put the BabyBjorn into retirement.  (Meaning, I just sold it on Craigslist!)  Why??  Because it just doesn't even compare to our ErgoBaby Carrier!  And yes, even my husband agrees...  isn't a baby-wearing daddy just the cutest thing ever?!

If I had to narrow things down (you know, if I had to go to a desert island and could only take 2 carriers with me...) I would keep one of my Moby Wraps (still my all-time favorite for the littlest ones!) and an Ergo.  

The Moby is just perfect for all-day baby wearing of a tiny baby.  And the Ergo is so super versatile for little and bigger babies.  We still use the Ergo for Bjørn who is now 18 months old and over 30 lbs!

The bottom line is...  I love my babies and I love holding my babies.  Therefore, I love my baby-carriers!


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