homemade playdough

I have some great memories of sitting at my grandma's kitchen table with my cousins and several colorful blobs of homemade playdough.  

We loved those blobs...  the colors, the smell, and yes...  occasionally even the taste!

Gross?  A little.  But not really...  Compared to commercial play-doh full of chemicals and who-knows-what, the homemade stuff is harmless!

Flour, salt, oil, water...  nothing there you wouldn't eat in a more tasty form on a regular basis.

I rarely let my kids play with commercial Play-doh because I just can't get past how gross it seems.  I mean, you know it's gonna be tasted at some point, right?!  And I would rather know exactly what's going into my toddler's mouth, if at all possible!

I must admit though...  In my opinion, even better than avoiding all the junk is the cost.  You just can't beat throwing together something cheap out of stuff you already have in your pantry.

Cheap homemade playdough = happy kids & happy mommies!!

(and yes, when you're a 2 year old boy, it is vitally important to mix the two pretty colors into a swirly-brownish blob before commencing playtime!)  :o)

Homemade Playdough Recipe

2 cups flour
2 cups warm tap water
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tarter (optional)
up to 1 tube food coloring

Stir together in a medium pot over medium-low heat.  Continue to cook, and stir, until the mixture forms a ball and is no longer sticky (like Play-doh!).  If it's still sticky, you just need to cook it longer!

Let the playdough cool to room temperature before playing with it...  and store it in tupperware between uses!


baby teeth

This little guy finally popped out his first tooth!

As happy as I am for him, I am also a little sad to see his big toothless-grin disappear.

But I know I will love his baby-tooth grin just as much.  And we get to see it all the time...  he sure is one happy kid!

(Especially when he's looking at Daddy!)


slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal

My aunt and uncle brought us a package of steel-cut oats, and it has been staring at me for several months...  every single time I open the cupboard.  (Thank you Uncle Gary & Aunt Marilyn!)  :o)

I love steel-cut oats, and have made them before, but I just don't love the time it takes to make them.  Start them in the morning and by the time they're done, you've already eaten 3 snacks and are almost ready for lunch!  (What?  You don't wake up as hungry as I do??)

Anyways...  this recipe perfectly solves that time problem!  No fuss, no waiting (well, waiting while you sleep, but that just doesn't count!) and you have a beautiful bowl of filling, delicious oatmeal waiting for you when you wake up!

(Not to mention the wonderful smell your house is filled with!  Let me just tell you, it's an amazing way to wake up in the morning.  Take it one step further and set your coffee maker on auto and you've got a perfect morning all waiting for you!)

We like to eat ours topped with a bit more brown sugar and some milk or cream.   Or my favorite - stir in some frozen berries and they will both thaw quickly in the hot oatmeal and cool down the oatmeal enough to eat without burning your mouth!

And in case you were wondering...  my ohsopicky 2 year old loved this breakfast!  And my justlearningtoeat 6 month old enjoyed a few little tastes as well!  Oh, and our opinionatedarticulate 9 year old thought it was ok, but he "needs to get used to the texture of steel-cut oats."  :o)

And husband, if you are reading this...  I plan on throwing this into the crockpot at least once or twice a week, if not every single day!  ;o)

Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal Recipe
adapted from The Hill Country Cook

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Stir everything together in your slow cooker.  Turn on low and cook for 8 or so hours (while you sleep!).

When it's done in the morning, it will still look funny (the cinnamon floats on the top and the water looks like it hasn't absorbed!) but give it a good stir and it will all come together perfectly!

You can store any leftovers in the fridge to heat up later!  (This amount makes enough for 4-5 big bowls of oatmeal.)


peanut butter chocolate m&m cookies

Wow, I have really been slacking on posting lately!  I'm not really sure why... except that life gets a little chaotic sometimes, and things have to give here and there.

But, just because I haven't been blogging much doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking much!  (Or maybe it does?  You'll have to ask my husband!)

I was supposed to be working on a cake today that I need to bring to a surprise baby shower tonight, so of course I decided it was the perfect time to bake some cookies.  (Hey, I can multi-task with the best of them!)

I love all things peanut butter & chocolate, and you just can't go wrong with m&ms in a cookie.  These cookies have an almost brownie taste to them, but with a chewy cookie texture.  Yum!

Of course I had to switch to real butter (margarine?  really!?  Does anybody actually bake with that anymore??), but otherwise stuck pretty close to Momma Hen's recipe!  (Click here to check her recipe out.)

Peanut Butter Chocolate m&m Cookies Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups m&ms

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, soda & salt.  Mix into the creamed mixture until just blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips and m&ms.

Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 11-13 minutes until just set.  Cool completely on a cooling rack and store in the freezer!


homemade peanut butter cups & The Secret Recipe Club

I have a secret addiction to peanut butter cups.  I love them.  And I rarely buy them because I have no self-control when they are around.  

Unfortunately now I have a super quick, easy way to make them at home, and that is probably not a good thing.  (Unless you are planning on coming over to help me eat them all, of course!)

I found this recipe for homemade peanut butter cups over on Hoosier Homemade, and I just knew I had to try it out.  It looked simple, and I even had all the ingredients on hand!

(The original recipe is here, if you'd like to go check it out!)

I joined The Secret Recipe Club recently, and that is how I found Liz over at Hoosier Homemade.  The Secret Recipe Club is a fun little group of food bloggers who are each month assigned another food blog to try a recipe from and blog about it.

I love finding new inspiration and meeting new people, so I was excited to try this out... and I wasn't disappointed!  It was fun to be assigned a blog that I might have never found on my own and get to search for a fun recipe to try out for myself.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups Recipe

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 regular-sized Hershey's bars, chopped (about 6.2 ounces)

Stir together the butter, sugar, salt & 1/2 cup of the peanut butter until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt together the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter with the chocolate chips and Hershey's bars.  (Microwave on High for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well each time, until smooth).

Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners.  Drop about 1/2 teaspoon or so of chocolate on the bottom of each paper.  Tap the pan firmly on the counter to spread and settle the chocolate.

Spoon about a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into the center of each liner.  

Spoon another teaspoon or so of the chocolate mixture on top of the peanut butter, just enough to cover.  Tap the pan firmly again on the counter to settle the chocolate.

Place in the fridge to set for at least a few hours or up to a week before serving!

(Optional:  Spoon the remaining chocolate mixture into a small ziploc bag, cut off one of the tips and drizzle some designs on your chocolates, if you'd like!  Wait about 10 minutes before doing this, and microwave the chocolate a few more seconds if needed before drizzling.)

I really enjoyed this recipe and will definitely be making these again!!  I tried really hard to stick with the original recipe this time, and I think I did a pretty good job.  :o)  

The only changes I would make next time would be to double the recipe and try to balance out the chocolate/peanut butter ratio a bit more to my preference!  (More chocolate, less peanut butter!).  Thanks for a great recipe, Liz!  This was fun!!


cake batter rice krispie treats

My husband loves Rice Krispie treats.  Loves them!  And the kids and I certainly don't hate them, so they are near the top of the list of 'things we make often in this house'.

I do get bored making the same things over and over though, so sometimes (ok, a lot of the time!) I have to change things up!

This recipe is a fun little twist on the classic...  with dry cake mix stirred into the melted marshmallows for a little hint of 'cake batter' flavor, and sprinkles added in and on top.

I first saw this recipe over on Gimme Some Oven, and loved the idea!  And what better reason to make cake batter rice krispie treats than for a birthday party!

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats Recipe

4 tablespoons butter
40 large marshmallows (one 10oz package)
1/3 cup dry vanilla cake mix
5 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup (or so) sprinkles

Butter generously a 9x13" pan, or 2 round cake pans.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and marshmallows together until smooth and combined, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the dry cake mix until well combined and then stir in the cereal.

Stir in about half of the sprinkles and press the mixture into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the rest of the sprinkles on top and press gently.  Let cool for a bit until set!


pepperoni subs

One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Olympia Pizza & Spaghetti House, an amazing little greek pizza restaurant near my parents house.  They have the best pizza, salads and subs I've ever had!

As much as I love their pizzas, I am not a huge sauce fan and so my favorite meal to order growing up was their pepperoni sub.  A big crusty french roll with lots of pepperoni and yummy mozzarella cheese... and always served with their simple, but delicious dinner salad.

I haven't had one of these in years, but for some reason I was thinking about them recently and then realized how easy they would be to recreate at home!

Now, you'll notice I'm not putting real measurements down for this recipe.  You can't really go wrong on this one as long as you have good ingredients.  If you're making several subs, make sure you have a lot of cheese and pepperoni.  If you're only making one or two, then you don't need as much.

And as with anything you cook, but especially these with the fewest ingredients, your final dish will only be as good as the ingredients you use!

Pepperoni Subs Recipe

large crusty french or sourdough rolls
pepperoni slices
good-quality mozzarella cheese (in a ball or chunk that you can slice)

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise and place the halves on the cookie sheet.  Lay a single layer of pepperoni (slightly overlapping the slices, as they will shrink a bit) on each bread half.  Then top each half with a good layer of sliced mozzarella cheese.

Place in the oven (on the center-rack!) for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden brown.   Fold the two halves back together and serve with a good fresh dinner salad! 


nutella & cream cheese fruit pizzas

I had a few cups of nutella buttercream frosting leftover in my fridge from last weekend and just couldn't bear the thought of it going to waste.  I wanted to do something fun with it... besides eating it by the spoonful of course!

I started dreaming about fruit pizza, one of my favorite treats...  a buttery, sugar cookie crust topped with a yummy cream cheese frosting and fresh berries... and thought it would be a perfect base for the nutella frosting!

I couldn't decide which kind I was hungrier for, so I made both.  One with a more traditional cream cheese frosting, topped with strawberries and blueberries...

And the other covered in my nutella frosting and a beautiful layer of strawberries!

These are such a fun, cute way to get your fill of frosting and fruit...  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Cream Cheese & Nutella Buttercream Fruit Pizza Recipes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
nutella buttercream frosting
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixer bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth and well mixed.

Mix in the flour mixture until combined.  Press the dough into 2 round circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges.  Let cool completely.  (The cookies will spread, so if you don't have room on one pan - or want to be extra sure they don't touch - you can bake them on two separate pans!)

In medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Spread on the cooled crust of one of the crusts.

Spread nutella frosting on the other crust.  (Or, obviously you can make both the same, or one big cookie-pizza of one kind!).

Cover nicely with berries and top with powdered sugar just before serving!


Haakon's homebirth story...

For some reason I have been putting off writing this out and sharing it with you. In a way I feel like I am taking something sacred, something very life-changing and personal, and putting it all out there to be viewed and judged… and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. 

But I do know how much I enjoy reading other’s birth stories and how they impacted our birthing journey and I want to do the same for someone else. I also want to document this for my family, so I guess now it’s time.
**If you'd like to read my first birth story... a classic, fully medicated hospital birth... click here!  And if you want to read about what brought me to homebirth, click here, and here!**

We had a homebirth. Yep, you read that right. Baby Haakon was born at home, in our bathtub… and it was the most amazing experience of my life. Everything about it… the good, the bad and the ugly… was perfect for me and I wouldn’t change a thing. Our midwife and support team were amazing and we are so grateful for their support!

I believe that God brought us to our midwife because He knew she was exactly what we would need in our most difficult, yet most amazing, moments. From the moment we met, I knew that I trusted her completely to guide us on this journey we were taking… and I was right. She helped me find peace and strength I never knew I had, and for that I will be forever grateful!

Now let’s get to the actual story…

Haakon’s BIRTH day:

I started realizing that this was the probably the ‘big day’ on Wednesday Dec 1st in the early morning hours. I was woken up a few times by contractions and as this was my second birth, I knew what was coming. I didn’t know, of course, what the time frame would look like... but I did know that there was no turning back now.

When Andrew woke up I let him know that things were starting and he probably shouldn’t go in to work for long. He took our son Navy (my almost 9 year old stepson) to school and then stopped in to work for a few minutes before heading back home (with a quick stop at Starbucks for me on the way home… What better way to start the ‘big day’ than with a peppermint white mocha!).

My contractions were consistent but pretty mild at this point, so we spent most of the day relaxing, playing with our 19 month old son Bjørn and enjoying the process that was just beginning. For lunch we ordered some spicy teriyaki (why not!) and then around 3pm we went for a long walk (down to the mailbox and back… it’s longer than it sounds!) and during that walk gave our midwife a quick call to let her know things were beginning. She was just leaving a birth so went home to rest before we needed her!

Things were not moving quickly, and I started to feel bad that I had kept Andrew home from work, but I’m glad we got to enjoy a relaxing day together. After we put Bjørn to bed for the night, things began to pick up a bit and I kept myself busy and as distracted as possible by readying the house and double-checking our supplies.

Around 10pm or so I started really getting in to that place where I had to focus and lose myself into the contractions so we moved into the bathroom and got to work. I got into the shower for a bit, but that didn’t last long as I had to use the bathroom in between every. single. contraction. (Thank you very much spicy teriyaki!).

When each wave started I called to Andrew and he came to support me. And I mean literally “support me”. I needed him to stand firm and let me hang off of him while I swayed and focused on relaxing through each wave. They were coming every few minutes at this point but I was getting good rest time in between and it all just felt good… or rather, it felt ‘right’.

We decided to call our friend and doula Kim at this point, as well as our friend Mackenzie who would be there to take care of Bjørn if and when he woke up. Not too long after that we called our midwife, Carol, and asked her to come.

I knew that we didn’t really need her yet at that point, but I wanted her there. I needed to know that she was close by, ready and waiting in case it all got to be too much to handle. And I needed her there to ‘guard my space’ as I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the other people around.

By this time, we had moved into our bedroom (I wanted only darkness and quiet… all those hours of working on the perfect ‘birth’ playlist were such a waste!) where I knelt, leaning forward on my large excercise ball, and rocked through each contraction while holding Andrew’s hand.

Andrew slept in between many of the contractions at this point, with me squeezing his hand to wake him up when one started. The crazy thing is, even I fell asleep in between several of the contractions! It was such an amazing feeling to be able to relax so fully in between waves of such intensity.

The one constant through this labor was my need to hold (and squeeze!) Andrew’s hand. Mostly because that was how I was able to channel my energy so that I could keep the rest of my body relaxed through each wave, but also because that kept me grounded. His grip kept me focused and reminded me that I was not alone, even though I was otherwise unaware of anything outside myself.

At one point Carol asked me if I wanted to be checked. I remember saying “sure, but if I’m less than 5cm… I don’t want to know.” Well, she checked me and then asked if I wanted to know. My only thought was “oh crap. I’m not even halfway there!” but I said yes anyways. It turns out I was at 8cm… and I have never felt such relief at hearing a number!

I decided then that I wanted to get in the tub (with Carol’s blessing). The water felt so amazing and I could really feel my body relaxing and at the same time focusing through each wave. I was still getting good breaks in between contractions, and I now realize that, subconciously, I had a part in that.

I wanted my labor to take its time. Not because I was scared, or trying to delay the inevitable, but because I wanted to really experience each moment and also to savor the breaks in between contractions.  I wanted to truly experience this labor… not just ‘get through it’ as quick as possible. I don’t remember everything about my labor with my firstborn and I hate that. I wanted to make sure and cement each memory this time so that I could find them in my heart always.

I really found my zone when I was in the tub. I was reaching transition, making quite a bit of noise – low moans, the kind that tighten your stomach muscles like when you have a stomach-ache and groan about it! – and disappearing into the contractions. I really had no concious thought during them anymore… or rather, my mind didn’t connect much with what was going on around me.

I remember feeling like I was in a fog. I couldn’t see beyond myself and I didn’t want to. I was in a deep place, facing my weaknesses and at the same time finding strength I never knew I had. I still can’t believe how powerful I felt through all of the pain!

Somewhere right around this point of transition (time was basically a blur, but I did have snippets of clarity) I had a mental break. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I felt like I was separated from labor for a bit. I felt like I was just relaxing in a tub and visiting with people that loved me! I even remember laughing for a bit… probably at my husband.

Then the vomiting began and I was back into the deep. I don’t think there was much coming up, mostly water, but it was intense and we knew it was getting close to birth time!

I reached my ‘wall’ right about there. Anyone who has had an unmedicated birth will understand what I mean by ‘wall’… the ‘I can’t do this’ wall. The point where fear and reality collide and you have to decide to conquer the fear in order to attempt the seemingly impossble and not give up.

I never got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t do this or that I wanted to give up and go get that epidural... but I did feel pretty lost. I was starting to feel like I was drowning and couldn’t find a hand to grab!

Right at that moment, Carol came in and saved me. She reached out through her words and gave me that hand I was desperate for. Or rather God reached out through her and saved me!

The last few days I had been especially drawn to my grandmother’s Bible that is full of margin-notes. She died when I was 4, but I have always felt like her Bible is a glimpse into her heart and a way to feel close to her.

Carol found the Bible sitting on the bathroom counter and read to me a few verses that my grandma had underlined. (Psalms 116:1-2 “I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!” 116:16-17 “O Lord, you have freed me from my bonds and I will serve you forever.” 118:5-8 “In my distress I prayed to the Lord and he answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid? What can mere man do to me? The Lord is on my side, he will help me.”) Then she prayed for me.

I have never felt such a strong feeling of peace wash over me before! My fear was pushed aside and power took it’s place! I could do this… I would do this… and God was right there with me holding my hand.

When it was about time to start pushing (my water still had not broken) Carol had me change position in the tub, Andrew climbed in to sit behind me for support and I gently pushed once to break the bag of waters. Things got so much more intense at this point as baby moved down into the birth canal to make his way out.

Somewhere around there I remember being given honey. Spoonfuls of it… for energy (it had been a long time since my last meal!). Wow, that’s not something I want to repeat. Yuck. But it sure gave me a boost!

(Side note here: Carol asked me a few times if I wanted Andrew to get in the tub with me for support. I kept saying “no” because I was afraid to move and wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my space. Finally she just said “Andrew should get in now.” and I’m so glad she did! Lesson learned? Listen to your midwife!)

At this point it was about 6am and Bjørn woke up for the day. Mackenzie went and got him and brought him in to see us. That was exactly the boost I needed! Seeing him brought a smile to my heart and reminded me what all of this was for. I was so happy to see him, and in retrospect so happy that he got to see his little brother be born!

As the baby started crowning, I began to lose it. I was staring to tear and trying so hard not to push so baby could ease out slowly, but it was incredibly hard. I just wanted him out now! I remember crying, “I can’t do this!” as Carol was telling me not to push and just to breathe…

I threw my head back and panted to keep from pushing, which I think got me hyperventilating a bit, so Carol gave me a little oxygen for a boost. A few pushes and minutes later and out came my beautiful baby boy! Haakon Andreas was born at 6:16am on December 2nd!

Carol and I lifted him out of the water and brought him to my chest. He looked, felt and smelled AMAZING! I couldn’t believe how wonderful it felt to have him in my arms instead of in my tummy. Yes, I know I have done this before, but it certainly doesn’t get old!

Haakon was a little blotchy when he was born and took a few minutes to catch his breath so he got a little oxygen too... His heart rate was just fine though and since he was still attached to his placenta, we were not too worried. His apgar was a 4/5 at birth, but quickly improved in the following minutes.

I was actually not aware of any of this at the time, as exhaustion hit me pretty hard after Haakon came out. My uterus essentially gave up and refused to be helpful in the placenta removal process. Carol had to massage my belly for quite a while (and it hurt so good!) to help the placenta to come out and the bleeding to stop. 

I was given some spicy tablets (no idea what they were!) to dissolve under my tongue and lots of water and juice for energy. When things calmed down a bit I got into the shower to rinse off, and boy did that feel good!

It wasn’t until a while later that I really was able to process what had happened right at the time of birth. Haakon was born with a very low immediate and 1 minute apgar (meaning he wasn’t trying to breathe, wasn’t very responsive, was limp, etc.) but I was hardly, if at all, aware of it. 

He was calm and ‘there’. His heart rate was just fine (and monitored continuously). He was in my arms and I knew that he was just fine, and he was! If we had been in the hospital, he would have been whisked away the second he was born, cord cut, and quite possibly spent several hours or more away from me in the nursery. My heart would not have been able to handle all of that. And he wouldn’t have done as well as he did, I am sure of that!

By the time Carol did the newborn evaluation, baby Haakon was as normal as normal could be. Breathing fine, pink as can be, awake and alert, nursing just fine, all in all… perfect!  He weighed in at 7lbs 15.5oz and 20.5 inches!

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. In every detail I was so comfortable with the care that I was receiving and the freedom I was given. I never once had a moment of worry or fear in regards to mine or my baby’s well beings.

I was free… happy… unhindered… and I really, really can’t wait to do all of this again someday!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails