a comparison...

of my boys!

(click on the pictures if you'd like to see them bigger!)


as he grows...

baby Haakon at:  1 week old

& at:  almost 5 months old!

Can you believe how much he's grown?

(Now hopefully I will be able to remember to do another picture at about 10 months or so!)


dark chocolate nutella no bake cookies

Yep.  I did it.

I subbed out the peanut butter for nutella in my no bake cookie recipe from last week...

Dark chocolate nutella no bakes.  Yum and yum.  :o)

I can't decide which version of the recipe I like better.  I think it's actually just a mood thing.  Peanut butter is...  well, peanut butter.  Perfect.  Nutella is heavenly.  A bit more chocolate, a bit deeper, a bit less sweet...  mmm...  both good!

If you hate coconut you can sub it out for more oatmeal, but give it a try...  it adds an amazing layer of chewiness that is so good!

Nutella No Bake Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup nutella
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt together the butter, cocoa, sugar, salt and milk.  Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and then let boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the nutella and vanilla until smooth, and then stir in the oats and coconut.

Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Place in the fridge to set for a few hours and then transfer to a tupperware container if you are not going to serve them right away.  Store in the fridge!


this is what happens...

when your 2 year old learns how to climb out of his crib and plays ohsoquietly when he's supposed to be sleeping.

Yes, that is his toy shopping cart.

Yes, he is very stuck.

Yes, I did run and get my camera instead of saving him right away!

Wouldn't you?!

(I just wish someone could have video-taped me trying to get him out of there!  :o)  He was very VERY stuck!)


playing with grandma...

Haakon is growing up so fast!

He is such a sweet, always happy boy...  I just can hardly stand it!!  :o)

Grandma got some good one-on-one time with him a few weeks ago when they were visiting...

He sure does love his grandma!  :o)


an oreo theme...

For Bjørn's 2nd birthday, I decided to do an Oreo theme.  I know I probably should have done a Dora theme, like he would have asked for if he could talk...  but I just couldn't do it!

I am so not a character theme person.  I don't love character clothes for my kids (yes, they do have a few pieces but very few!) and I don't love character parties.  Especially the cost!

Now there are some character theme parties that would be fairly simple to throw together without much extra cost.  Mickey Mouse for example.  But I just wasn't up to the Dora effort, and since Bjørn loves Oreos, and I have been dying to try this cake pan out...

...I decided that Oreos would be the birthday theme!

We had tuna melts for lunch, with chips and onion dip, and crackers and homemade hummus.  Then, out came the dessert!

A giant Oreo cake!  (actually a giant Oreo brownies & ice cream concoction!)  and of course, lots of Oreos of different sizes, nice cold milk, and two different kinds of cookies & cream ice cream.

I sure had fun putting this all together!!  Especially since I suppose next year I will have to start letting him pick his own theme.  :o)


why I photoshop...

Because this is a cute picture...

But this is an even cuter picture...

And this is the cutest picture!  :o)

Man I love this kid!  Check out those eyes!!


peanut butter cheesecake dip

This actually started out as a different recipe.  An incredibly sweet, almost-too-much-to-handle recipe.

I put a peanut butter cup in the bottom of a muffin tin, topped it with this peanut butter cheesecake filling and then covered it with chocolate ganache!  Yum!  But super rich and entirely unnecessary.

Let me know if you'd like the recipe!  :o)

The filling was just too good to let go to waste, though, and since I had made way too much, I decided to use the rest for dip!  What a good decision, if I do say so myself!  ;o)

Perfect with cookies, fruit, chocolate, graham crackers, pretzels...  just about whatever you like to eat with peanut butter!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Dip Recipe

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.  Beat in the heavy cream and sugar until creamy and fluffy.

Serve immediately or chill for up to 3 days before serving!


a day with my boys...

Bjørn, Haakon & Moby... our other boy.  :o)

Check out those eyes...  :o)  I just love that I got a beautiful brown-eyed boy and a bright blue-eyed boy!


dark chocolate coconut no bake cookies... cute little bird's nests for easter!

I have been craving No Bakes lately like you would not believe!  Not my usual 'different' gooey marshmallow no bakes - which you can check out the recipe for here - but the classics.

Of course, I just can't leave well enough alone...  even with the classics.  Now, I don't have anything against the original version of these (I'm sure you all have a recipe for them in your church cookbooks or copied down from your grandma!) but I like my version better.  :o)

First of all, I cut down the sugar...  because they are a little too sweet for my liking, and because I was planning on adding a few other 'sweet treats' to them.  Then I made sure to use Dutch Processed cocoa, because I love the darker color and flavor.

I also added sweetened flaked coconut...  and just for a fun easter touch, I pressed a few egg-shaped peanut butter m&m's into each one for decoration.

Obviously these would be great with no eggs on top all year-round!  I just thought they would be so cute this way for easter.  :o)

I like how these turned out!  And my 2 year old was very impressed.  :o)

(I also linked this recipe up to the Sweets for Saturday party over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies!  Check it out for lots of yummy looking recipes!)

Dark Chocolate Coconut No Bake Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 bag egg-shaped peanut butter m&ms*

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt together the butter, cocoa, sugar, salt and milk.  Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and then let boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth, and then stir in the oats and coconut.

Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets and press 3 peanut butter m&m eggs (*or any other small egg-shaped candy coated easter candy!) into the top to make it look like a little nest!

Place in the fridge to set for a few hours and then transfer to a tupperware container if you are not going to serve them right away.  Store in the fridge!


creamy lemon pasta with mushrooms & asparagus

Spring is finally here!!  We've had a few days of sunshine, and when I went to the store the other day, I found these beauties...

This is not my picture...  I grabbed it from here.  But I promise my asparagus looked just like this!  :o)

I was so excited to see beautiful, thin, tender asparagus...  I just couldn't wait to get home and start cooking!

What I came up with is a creamy, bright pasta dish...  perfect for showcasing fresh spring veggies.

You could easily substitute fresh broccoli for the asparagus...  and I would probably add chicken to this, if I wasn't making it for just myself.  :o)

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Mushrooms & Asparagus Recipe

1 lb short pasta (penne or rotini work well!)
3-4 tablespoons butter
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of one large lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta, according to package directions, until al dente.  Scoop out about a cup-full of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking...  in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and then sauté the mushrooms until golden.  Toss in the asparagus and sauté until just tender.  Stir in the garlic and cooking for about a minute.

Turn off the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Continue to stir until smooth, adding in the cooked pasta and a  bit of pasta water, 1/4 cup or so at a time, until everything is nicely coated.

Top with more fresh parmesan, if you'd like, and serve with garlic bread!


our new pet...

since Andrew is gone for the week,

and we are all feeling a bit lonely...

we decided to get a new family pet!

his name is Berry.

or Papa Q.

or Gigantor.

Depending on who you ask!


What do you think?

Do you think Andrew will be upset??  ;o)

(He was actually a birthday present for Bjørn from some friends...  Bjørn is a little scared of him, but the rest of us just love him!)


natural partying! I mean, parenting...

Just because it sounded like fun...  & because I am home alone for a week...  & because I want to be cool like my friend Gen over at Uniquely Normal Mom... :o)

I decided to join the "natural parenting" blog party hosted by The Peaceful Housewife!

To start things off, there are some get-to-know-you questions.  I answered them below...

(and am about to go read everyone else's... as soon as I get my rambunctious 2 year old who JUST learned how to climb out of his crib :o( to stay in bed for the night!)  Tips and advice welcome!!!!!  :o)

Ok, here we go:

1.  How many children do you have, and how old are they?

I have three boys!!!  A 9 year old, a 2 year old, and a 4 month old.  :o)

2.  Do you have a partner, or are you a single parent?

I have been married to my husband Andrew for 4 years.  Our 9 year old is technically 'his', but whatever...

3.  What are your “hot button” parenting issues?

Sleep-training and un-informed circumcision really get me going, for sure!  I just wish everyone would hear and really try to understand the truth behind these practices before making such permanent life-altering decisions!

(That said, if you really make an effort to hear both sides before making your decision, I can respect your decision as parents...  it's the ignorance - chosen or innocent - that really gets me!)

4.  Have you made any parenting choices that you didn’t think you would make before you were a parent, i.e. cloth diapering a child when you had previously thought it was disgusting?

Ummm...  yeah.  I was never going to be one of those 'cloth-diapering' parents!  :o)  haha.  Now I'm addicted and would rather shop for fluff than just about anything else!

5.  Is there one book or person in particular that’s heavily influenced your parenting choices?

I guess I would say Ina May's books have been very influential in my life...  I just love her!!  

If I had to pick one specific thing though, it would be the movie The Business of Being Born (I know it's not a book, but same difference!).  That's what really pushed me over the edge into a home-birthing, natural mama!

6.  If you had to describe each of your children using only one word, what word would you use?

Oh this one is tough.  I hate labeling my kids, but for the sake of novelty I will try...  
Navy (9) = teenager.  Bjørn (2) = stubborn.  Haakon (4m) = smiley!

7.  Is there one parenting decision that you regret more than others and wish you could change?

Every single day I regret having my firstborn circumcised.  I was completely ignorant (maybe because I was afraid to be anything otherwise?) and that ignorance is not something I can take back, as much as I wish I could.  :o(

8.  Is there an area of your parenting you wish you were better at?

Oh I completely wish I had more patience!  :o(  I was telling a friend the other day...  I'm pretty sure I almost never swore before I had a toddler.  He sure knows how to push my buttons!!  (Needless to say, I'm pretty much terrified for when he's a teenager!)  :o)

9.  Now for the fun questions – is there one particular food or type of food that you could eat every day?

mmm...  bread for sure!  I could live on bread!  (with butter and cheese, of course!)  :o)

10.  Vanilla ice cream or chocolate?

Breyer's Vanilla Fudge Twirl (best of both worlds!)

11.  What’s your guilty pleasure?

fresh bread.  I have been known to eat a whole loaf myself!!  

(Seriously...  a few months ago, my husband was home when I brought groceries in - including a loaf of fresh french bread - and he said "that's how big those loaves are?!  I thought they were way smaller than that!")  :o)

12.  If you could be part of any television show, which show would it be?

Glee!!  (I just got done watching Season 1 on Netflix!)  Wouldn't that be just so much fun???

or The Pioneer Woman's new show on the Food Network...  I'm almost tempted to get TV again for that one.  I just love her!!  :o)


chicken tamale casserole

This casserole is quick, comforting and full of flavor!  Feel free to adjust the spices to make it more or less spicy...  however your family likes it!

I love making quick, simple, one-dish meals for my family.  Especially ones that use easy shortcuts like precooked chicken.

(Does anyone else regularly get sucked in by the amazing smell of store-bought rotisserie chickens like I do??)  :o)

Speaking of chicken...  (actually this has nothing to do with chicken, but I'm home alone for the week and have no one else to talk to... and hey, this is my blog!)  ;o) ...

Since Andrew just left today on a missions trips to Mexico, I'm trying to focus on the good things about being home alone for the week...  like getting to make whatever I want for dinner.  (Bjørn doesn't get a vote yet, and Haakon doesn't eat, so I get full say!)  :o)

Anyways, I foresee a lot of pasta and garlic bread in my immediate future!!

(ok, maybe I'm reaching a little with the forced positivity, but I really am excited about the garlic bread!)

Chicken Tamale Casserole Recipe

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, divided (1/4 cup + 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 can (14.75oz) creamed corn
1 box (8.5oz) corn muffin mix
1 can (8oz) diced green chiles
1 can (10oz) enchilada sauce (red or green...  whichever you like!)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish.

Stir together 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and the rest of the ingredients except enchilada sauce, remaining cheese and the chicken...  mixing until just blended.

Pour into the greased pan and bake for 15 minutes, until set.  Take about 1/4 cup of the sauce and toss it with the chicken.

Remove from the oven, poke holes all over the top with a fork, and pour the remaining sauce all over to soak in.  Spread the chicken all over the top, and then sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the chicken is heated through and the cheese is melted and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream & lots of fresh cilantro if you have it!


copycat Trader Joe's mediterranean hummus recipe

If you've ever had Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus, you probably have a good idea of why I have been so motivated to recreate this stuff at home.

Ever since I tried TJ's Mediterranean Hummus for the first time, I have been obsessed.  I have been trying to fine tune this recipe for years, & I think I've finally got it down!

Now, I know my recipe may not be exactly the same as theirs... but for those of us who can't pop in to a TJ's whenever we want, this recipe is a very close second!

Try it out (and if you do live near a Trader Joe's, please buy a container to do a side-by-side comparison) and let me know what you think!  :o)

This is a very creamy, smooth & lemony hummus.  Not as strong on the tahini side of things as some hummus recipes you may be used to, but those differences are what make this so good!

Copycat Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus Recipe

2 cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained (about 3 cups)
1 garlic clove
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 2 large lemons
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
about 1/2 cup hot water

Place the garlic clove in the food processor and pulse a few times.

Dump the rest of the ingredients in to the food processor, except for the hot water, and run for 3-4 minutes.  After the first 30 seconds or so, stream in the water while the processor is still running - until you reach your desired consistency and continue to process until very smooth and creamy.

Taste for seasoning and consistency, adding a bit more water if needed.  This will set up a bit in the fridge, so make it a tad runnier than you think you'd like!

Pour the hummus into a container & chill a few hours or overnight before serving to let the flavors meld.

Before serving, drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

(For a true Trader Joe's copy, top with pine nuts, dried parsley, and dehydrated bell pepper!)

Serve with veggies and rice crackers or pita chips!


2 years...

My sweet baby Bjørn,

2 years ago today, I met you for the first time.  I looked into your beautiful big eyes and counted your glorious long toes and fingers.  I held you in my arms and prayed that I would never have to let you go.

Today, 2 years later, you are such an independent wild-child that I practically have to beg for you to let me hold you in my arms.  I never could have imagined, 2 years ago, that those moments of holding you in my arms and smelling your sweet baby smell would disappear so quickly.

You are becoming more and more strong-willed every day, and you don't do anything halfway.  Stopping or even slowing down is just not something you do.  Hugs are few and far between, because it's hard to get you to stop long enough!

You do still let me snuggle you at naptime and bedtime though...  and oh how I live for those moments.  Holding you in my arms, feeling your soft breath on my neck, and hearing you ask over and over again for "MO Sus?" (more Jesus Loves Me!) completely melts my heart.

We have our struggles, you and me.  Life is not easy when you're 2, and having a baby brother too small to play with makes things even harder.

You're not talking much yet, although you are pretty good at getting your point across... and sometimes it is incredibly frustrating for you and for us.  But soon enough...  soon enough your little brother will be big enough to play with.  Soon enough you will be talking up a storm and we'll have to ask you to quiet down.  Soon enough...  we'll wish you were 2 again.

I love you so much, my sweet boy.  You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me...  You made me a mom.

Happy Birthday little man.  We are so proud of who you are and who you are becoming.  We love you!

Love, Mommy & Daddy


I cannot believe...

this little boy is going to be 2 years old in less than 3 days!!  Can you?

(Check out his fashion-sense, by the way...  :o)  He dressed himself!)

Seriously...  where did my baby go?!?


my baby boy and me

It's 3am, they're all asleep and no one's here to see
As we rock slowly back and forth, My Baby Boy and Me.
His little head is feather light tucked up against my chin
I hold his tiny hand in mine and stroke his baby skin.

The house about us creaks and groans the clock hands creep around
He snuggles closer to me still and makes his baby sounds.
I love these quiet hours so much and cherish every one
store memories up inside my heart for lonely nights to come.

All too soon he'll be grown up, his need for Mommy gone
but until then I still have time for kisses and for song.
Time for quiet hours like this with him cuddled in my arms
where I wish he'd always stay protected safe and warm.

And yet I know the day will come when his tiny little hand
will be much bigger than my own he'll grow to be a man.
But until then he's mine to love with no one here to see
as we rock slowly back and forth My Baby Boy and Me.

by Dusty Fulbright


slow cooker coconut chicken curry with pineapple

Spicy, sweet delicious chicken & pineapple in a thick, creamy curry sauce...  this slow cooker meal really shines!

Now, this may not my usual type of slow cooker meal...  because it does require a tad more work than just 'toss everything into the slow cooker, turn it on and walk away'.

But it is not difficult at all, and you can make the sauce ahead of time (like the night before!) and then throw everything together into the slow cooker in the morning!

Oh and it is so good...  it's worth the tiny bit of extra effort!!  :o)

Besides, sometimes I just want to make something a little...  different, you know?

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry with Pineapple Recipe

1/2 large onion, cut into large chunks
1/2-3/4 of a large green bell pepper, seeded & cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon sweet red chili sauce*
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons chopped fresh (or freeze-dried**) basil
3-4 chicken breasts
1 small can pineapple chunks or tidbits, drained
to thicken:
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

Place all the ingredients, except for the chicken& pineapple, into the food processor or a blender and process until smoothish.

Place the chicken and pineapple in the slow cooker.  Pour the sauce over everything, stir to combine, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About an hour before serving, remove the chicken from the sauce and shred or cut into cubes.  Return to the sauce.

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water until smooth and dissolved.  Pour this mixture into the slow cooker, stirring well to combine and cook for an hour or so.

Serve over rice (preferably jasmine or basmati) with some extra basil sprinkled on top!

* this is the sweet red chili sauce I use.  I always have it on hand...  it is SO good in fried rice or for dipping egg rolls or pot stickers!

** this is the freeze-dried basil I use.  It tastes great (much better than regular dried basil!) and is easier to keep on hand than fresh basil!


4 months...

I can't believe it has been 4 months already!

4 months since I had the most amazing, soul-stirring experience of my life.  4 months since I found more strength than I ever imagined and experienced more grace and peace than I had ever known!  4 months since I got to hold you in my arms!

Haakon, 4 months ago you were born...  In our home...

I haven't finished your birth story yet, because I am still processing it and 'pondering these things in my heart'.  It is still a little too powerful and sacred to share, just yet...  but I will.  I will share it when the time is right!

You are such an incredibly happy boy.  You smile and giggle and laugh and talk to us all the time!  You are calm and easy going and to be truly happy all you need is eye contact.  No matter the problem, the fussing or the screaming, if we look you in the eyes - you just can't help but smile!

When I am overwhelmed or sad or just plain upset, all I have to do is look into your eyes and everything rights itself again.

We have been through so much together already in your life...  you help me find strength every day.

Haakon, you bring so much joy into our lives and we are so blessed to have you for a son.

I love you sweet boy.  With all my heart!

- Mommy

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