keeping up...

with life in general is taking all the energy that I have right now, which is why the blog has been somewhat neglected.  I have lots of things swirling around in my brain though, and lots of recipes that I want to work on, so keep your eyes open for new stuff!

Thank you all for being a part of our lives here...  it is so much fun to share my thoughts, recipes and babies and to know that you all care even a little!  :o)

I promise I will not neglect the blog for long...  I enjoy it way to much for that!  And I would miss you all too much!   Happy New Years to all of you!!

(and WOW I just realized how much I use exclamation points!  :o)  I'll work on that... maybe that should be my new year's resolution?)


what I want...

is this sweet handcrafted MamAmor doll!
She is pregnant, gives birth - complete with umbilical cord and placenta, and breastfeeds... and she's fully customizable!  How cool is that?!
Check out their website if you want more pictures and info on this special doll!


Haakon's birth story...

Is not ready yet...  I'm still working on it...  Sorry!  There is just so much to process and communicate with you and I don't want to do a half-way job.

I will tell you, though, that it was a completely life-changing event for me!  I have never felt so weak and at the same time so strong...  so completely vulnerable and yet so completely supported.

I gave birth at home to my beautiful son, and I would not change a thing about his birth!  And, in case you're wondering...  yes, I will be planning to birth my next child(ren) at home, and I can't wait!

Also, we love to talk about this and would especially love to answer your questions, if you have any!


baked caramel pecan french toast

I love anything with caramel and pecans involved...  and this is the perfect combination of those flavors in a delicious easy breakfast!

The best part?  Most of this can be made ahead, so you just have to put on the topping in the morning and throw it in the oven!  It doesn't get much better than that!!

Baked Caramel Pecan French Toast Recipe

for the base
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 loaf french bread, diagonally sliced into 1" slices
for the topping
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and vanilla.  Dip the bread slices into the mixture and then place in a greased 9x13"baking dish, overlapping slightly if necessary.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350ºF.  In a medium bowl, stir together the topping ingredients and spread all over the french toast.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and set.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving!


homemade almond roca

I have been working on Christmas presents lately...  Doing a lot of homemade this year, and having so much fun finding new, special things to make!

This recipe makes a delicious copycat Almond Roca...  And no, I haven't exactly decided who is getting this, but I hope whoever does enjoys it!!

Homemade Almond Roca Recipe
adapted from this recipe on Tasty Kitchen!

1 lb butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups chopped almonds
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

In a large heavy pot, on high heat, cook together the butter, sugar and water, stirring constantly through 3 stages...  1. smooth and runny, 2. cheesy (like melted white cheese), and 3. smooth and golden brown.  Once the caramel mixture reaches the 3rd stage (smooth golden brown) remove the pot from the heat immediately and stir in the 2 cups chopped almonds.

Pour the mixture out onto a foil-lined and buttered baking sheet.  Let it set for a few minutes and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.  After about 5 minutes, or when all the chocolate chips look shiny and soft, spread them out thinly and evenly all over the top of the caramel mixture in the pan.  Sprinkle the top with the 1/2 cup almonds and let cool completely.

(If your kitchen/house is too warm, you may need to put this into the fridge to finish cooling and setting the chocolate before breaking!)  Once the candy is completely cool and the chocolate has set, break it into pieces and store in Tupperware, in the fridge!


mama cloth... day 5

TMI disclaimer again!  Guys, please scroll down and look at some recipes or cute baby pictures...  and if you don't listen to me...  don't say I didn't warn you!  :o)

I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but I love my mama cloth even more now on day 5!

I had to use a disposable pad the other night while I was doing laundry and I ended up getting up in the middle of the night when the dryer was done to switch back to one of my Lunapads because I was so uncomfortable.  I guess that means I am truly a convert now!  :o)

Ok, so I know what you're really wanting to know, now that we've talked about the comfort factor...  How do I deal with one more load of 'yucky' laundry to do?!  Well, here's the thing...  it's really not nearly as bad as you think!

Here's what I do:  I keep a wet-bag hanging in my bathroom (just like I have for our cloth diapers) and when I change pads I put the used one into the bag.  When I am almost out of pads (about every other day) I run a load of laundry.

In my front-loader, I do a soak with a capful or so of bac-out, then a "whitest whites" wash with a small amount of cloth-friendly detergent (I use Country Save) and then sometimes another rinse... if I feel like it.   I then throw the clean pads in the dryer on medium heat (with NO dryer sheets!) until they are dry.  And that's it!

Doesn't sound too bad, does it?  Even after deciding to try mama cloth, I have been nervous about the laundry part.  But it turns out I had nothing to be nervous about, and one extra load of laundry (that doesn't have to be folded, by the way!) is so worth it for the comfort and cost-savings of cloth!


a comparison...

of brothers.

12/9/10  baby Haakon, 7 days old.  8lbs
4/16/09  baby Bjørn, 5 days old.  6lbs


first impressions...

"Hmmm...  look at this interesting little baby daddy's holding..."
"What?!  You mean we're keeping him?!!"


mama cloth... day 1

...here we go!  :o)

First of all, for those of you who haven't heard of it before...  mama cloth is just what it sounds like: cloth pads for women.  So men, feel free to quickly scroll down and browse through some of my recipes...  since that is why you're here, right?  ;o)  And if you choose to continue reading this post...  don't say I didn't warn you!
Ok ladies, I know, I know...  it sounds like a step backwards for us doesn't it?  I mean, didn't our moms and grandmas have to use 'mama cloth' all the time, and weren't they thrilled with the invention of disposable products that they didn't have to wash?

Sure, disposable products can be very convenient.  But they can also be very uncomfortable, not to mention hard on our bodies - having all those chemicals in our most sensitive area.  Disposable pads and tampons can actually make our periods heavier and more painful as our bodies react to the unnatural chemicals that we are being exposed to!

Many of us understand this when it comes to diapering our babies.  We use cloth diapers on our babies to protect them, and also for their comfort!  (Not to mention the significant cost savings!)  So why, if cloth is good enough for our babies, is it not good enough for us?

I decided to try mama cloth partly for the cost savings, and partly for my health, but mostly for the comfort factor.  As all women know, there is a very distinct level of discomfort that comes with our periods that we all feel is inevitable.  We put up with it as best we can and count down the days until we can be 'free' again each month.  Well, I am not willing to accept that inevitability anymore.  I need to know if there is a better way!

And that brings me to today.  A few months ago I decided to buy a set of Lunapads to try during this postpartum period.  I prepped them and had them ready to go.  But the baby came last week...  and I chickened out.  I just couldn't do it.  I was afraid of the mess, the awkwardness... the unknown.

So I used the regular disposable pads I had on hand for just-in-case.  And I didn't think about my Lunapads again.  But then a few days passed and the discomfort got worse.  The oh-so-sensitive skin down there was screaming to me for relief, and I just couldn't take it anymore!

After a day of misery I remembered my stash of Lunapads that were hiding away.  I pulled them out, somewhat reluctantly, yet determined to give them a chance.  So...  what do I think??

Well, the first thing I can comment on is the comfort factor.  Yes, there is a bit of awkwardness at the different 'feel' of cloth pads compared to disposables.  But I wouldn't call it discomfort at all, it is just different.  Comfort wise, I am in a very happy place right now!

At this point I know I am much happier than I was a few days ago, and I'm sure I'll have lots more to say after I've had a chance to try these out a little longer!


the hardest part...

so far has been how unable I currently am to take care of my firstborn on my own.

I can't pick him up and cuddle him... or rock him to sleep... or take his hand and go with him when he wants me... and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I miss him so much, even though he is right here in the room with me.  I want nothing more right now than to hold him and rock him until he has had his fill of mommy-time...  and until I have had my fill of Bjørn time!

In some ways I feel like my body has betrayed me...  It has carried me through one of the most difficult and empowering experiences of my life, and then decided it needs it's own time to heal and regenerate.

And yes, of course my body deserves that time...  has earned that time... but my heart doesn't agree.

My heart believes the race was finished when my sweet baby was born, but unfortunately that's not true.

Yes, we did technically finish the race and we are holding the prize in our arms... but there are still several laps of cooling down and restoration left to go, and my heart just wants to be done!!


He's HERE!!!!

Haakon Andreas Thomas
was peacefully born at home in the water at 6:16am on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010!
He weighs 7lbs 15.5oz and is 20.5 inches long!
We are so excited to finally have him in our arms!  Thanks for all your love and prayers and keep your eyes open for lots more pictures and his birth story...  hopefully sooner than later!!  :o)

Hi!  I'm Annalise!

My husband, My Love, is Andrew...  He is a great friend and and amazing dad.  I am so blessed to be walking this life along side him!

We have 3 kiddos & another one on the way:

Navy is my 10 year old stepson...  He is a charming, spirited pre-teen who definitely keeps us on our toes.  Sometimes I blog about my life as a 'Stepmom'.  Most times I keep those things to myself.  But please feel free to reach out to me on this topic.  I love to talk to other stepmoms!

Bjørn is my 3 year old son... I never knew what being a mom really meant until he was born, and WOW does that change every. single. day.  I love that boy so much it hurts!  He is my challenge...  my passionate handful...  but in a beautiful life-changing way.  God is definitely using him to refine my spirit, and I am grateful every day for him.

Haakon is 18 months old, and he has an extra special place in my heart...  he was my first baby born at home!  He is so incredibly happy... I honestly didn't even think it was possible for a toddler to be filled with so much joy.  He laughs... all the time!  No exaggeration.

Baby Girl is due in August 2012...  and yes, I am absolutely ready to meet her!

This is our life:

I am a big city girl married to a small town boy. Every day is a joy and a challenge as I learn to live and love this small town life.

I am a foodie... with a deep passion for everything edible and for sharing what I love with others.  Food is my love language...  If I bake for you, I love you.  That's just all there is to it!

I spend my days taking care of my kiddos, trying to keep ahold of the housework and feeding my friends and family.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what in the world I was thinking getting 12 chicks when I was 6 months pregnant and dreaming about all the eggs I am hoping they will repay us with for our efforts!

I'm a wife & mom, a baker, a cook & a blogger.

We live a very real life, and eat as much real food as possible.  Classic, beautiful comfort food is my passion and filling my family and friends with delicious treats is where I find my joy.

I believe in living a very full life of moderation.  We have our cake and eat it too...  we just don't eat the whole thing at once.  Sharing it with friends means we don't have to feel bad about making a different cake tomorrow!

Welcome to my journey...  It's nice to meet you!

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