sneaky snacktime... and a VISA gift card giveaway!

I have never been a juice mom. My kids drink water and milk, and are perfectly happy with both.  I don't dislike juice, I just don't find it necessary in my kids' already sugar-full diet.

But having toddlers and a 10 year old who are very picky about what they eat has made me realize that sneaking healthy stuff into anything I can is a good idea.

I make the boys a lot of smoothies packed with greens when I can... but sometimes I just don't have the time.  And that is where this new Capri Sun Super V drink comes in!

We all know that kids of all ages love Capri Sun... partly for the fun container and of course because it tastes good.  I have never thought of it as more than a special treat though, so it has not been a regular in our house.

This new version, Super V, is full of veggies and just as tasty as the original.

And even better, I feel great serving it to my kids, the littles have no idea their fun treat is loaded with veggies, and my 10 year old doesn't care about the veggies because it tastes so good!

It's a win-win for all of us!!

Oh, and to make things even more exciting... I found Capri Sun Super V at my local Costco. Man, my life just got a little easier!

If you like the idea of a sneakily-healthy snack-time, make some of my No-Bake Cookie Dough Energy Bites to serve with your Super V.

The kids have no idea they are getting a healthy energy-boost, and you can feel good snacking right along with them!

Cookie Dough Energy Bites Recipe

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup ground almonds, ground flaxseed, or wheat germ
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut or almond butter
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. You may want to use your [clean] hands for this... it's much easier!!

Once completely combined, roll the dough into small balls and place on a parchment or wax-paper lined baking sheet. Chill in the fridge or freezer until completely set before serving... at least an hour.
Store in tupperware in the fridge or freezer!


Now for a sweepstakes sponsored by BlogHer for a $1000 Visa Gift Card and a $500 runner up Gift Card.

Simply comment below answering this question:
How do you incorporate fruits and veggies into your kids' diets?

Learn more about the new Capri Sun Super V on Facebook and check out BlogHer.com to find more Capri Sun Super V reviews!

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
Entries from all participating blogs will be pooled for winner selection; only two entries per household. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/16/2012-9/16/2012.

*Disclaimer: This is a compensated post for Kraft Capri-Sun and BlogHer. I was given Capri Sun Super V to try... but as usual, my opinions are mine and mine alone!


doing things halfway... the right way!

I am usually an all-or-nothing kinda girl.  If I'm not going to be able to finish a project, I am not likely to start it in the first place.

Perfectionism, laziness, OCD...  whatever you want to call it, it's not exactly the best way to walk through life.  At least it hasn't been for me.  Unfortunately it's a hard attitude to change overnight.

One thing in my life seems to quickly change that all-or-nothingness for me, though:  having a newborn baby in the house.

If you've had babies, you know what I mean when I say that things just don't get done all at once, and if I kept my 'I'm-not-starting-it-if-I-can't-finish-it!" attitude, we would be dirty, starving, and living in filth.

So, I do what I can, when I can.  A little bit here and a little bit there.

A few dishes washed between feedings, and a few more washed later.  A load of laundry in the wash even if I know there is no possible way I will be able to fold them and we will have a wrinkly mess of clothes the next day...  at least we will all have clean clothes to wear!

And this part-way philosophy extends into our food-life as well.  I find myself leaning towards recipes that have breaks in them, or ones I can easily adjust into sporadic steps.

Like cookies, I can make the dough one morning...  scoop it and freeze it later that afternoon...

and stick in the oven whenever I want, for fresh, hot cookies in moments!

I don't normally live like that.  If I know I won't have time to finish baking off the whole batch of cookies, I usually won't start in the first place.  But new-baby-life me is a much different being.

And these are things I need to work on incorporating into my all-the-time life.  Because fresh, hot cookies are a good thing.

A very good thing.


Baby Girl dreams...

Baby Girl,

You are snuggled in my arms right now after a very rough morning.

I'm not sure why you were so sad, but my heart was breaking with yours and lots of prayers were poured over you until you finally relaxed into a peaceful sleep in my arms.

I'm holding your soft, snuggly, sweet-smelling, one-month-old self and for some reason my thoughts are wandering to the future.  I see a playful, rough and tumble little girl...  an emotional, beautiful teenager...  and a confident, mature woman...  my daughter, and my friend.

I am so excited to watch you grow up into the woman God wants you to be.  Not too fast, of course, but excited all the same.

I have prayed for you for so long.  Ever since I was an awkward 15 year old girl, I have prayed for the daughter I would one day have.  I dreamt of you often over the years, and I knew it was only a matter of time until God brought you to me.

I knew there would be brothers before you, and I am so glad God chose the ones you have for you.  I know they will all take such good care of you...  They already can't get enough of their sweet baby sister!

We are going to have our struggles, you and I.  We already do, in fact, but they will change and grow as you do.  One thing that will never change though: How much I love you.

You, my sweet daughter, are a beautiful, strong, loving soul.  And nothing you ever do, or don't do, will change my love for you.  You can't make me love you more, and you can't make me love you less.

I am so proud to be your mom.  And someday, after we walk together through the years of childhood, teenager & young adult-hood...  I pray that you will call me "friend" as well.

I love you sweet girl.

- Mommy


my top 5 must-have baby items... after 3 babies!

I was changing Maren's diaper this morning (baby #3!) and for some reason, my mind started going through my all-time favorite baby items...  that I still love and use, or wish I had found 3 years ago!

I was mostly cataloging them for myself, but I realized you might like to hear my list (I'd love to hear yours!) so here it is, in no specific order:

JJ Cole Diaper Caddy - This thing is a life-saver when it comes to changing-table organization.  The carrier is amazing and makes switching up changing locations a breeze ('cause we all know diapers don't always get changed on the changing table!).  But the best part is the pad!  It is a totally wipe-able plastic pad...  meaning you never have to stop and changing a changing pad cover in the middle of the night or after a major blow-out.  A few wipes and you're golden!

Skip Hop Changing Station - I love love love this thing.  In the past 3 1/2 years of diaper changes I have used this thousands of times.  Every time we leave this house, this is with us.  In fact, I used mine so often that I just had to replace it with a new one because I wore it out!!  I especially love that I can grab this and take it in places with me and leave my big diaper bag in the car.

Grovia Magic Stick - This is one of those 'I just discovered this, but I wish I had found it 3 years ago' items.  I can't believe how much I love this thing!  It's cloth-diaper friendly (super important for us, since we use cloth part-time), and the best best part?  It's hands-free!!  Yep!  No hands involved in applying messy diaper cream.  I love it so much and I know Baby Girl is happier since I use it every time I change her diaper because it's so easy.  Oh and I used it on 3 1/2 year old Bjørn when he got a rash lately and he immediately said "Oh!  That feels better Mommy!".  From the mouths of babes!

ERGObaby Carrier - This carrier kind of goes without saying if you know us at all.  I couldn't survive Baby Land without it.  Life is easier, my babies are happier, my hands are free, and my back is ache-free.  All adding up to to make for a happier mom and a happier family!  I used a bunch of different carriers/wraps/slings, but this one is always my favorite.

Aden + Anais Dream Blanket - This is a bit more of a luxury item, but it still lands on the Top 5 Must Haves list for me.  Each of my kids has one and they are the blanket we all reach for most often.  Right now Maren's sweet cupcake and fairy one sits on the chair where we cuddle and nurse.  Both of us love being wrapped up in it, and it's generous size makes it big enough for even my big toddlers to use!

These are the few things I can't live without in New Baby Land...

What are your must-have New Baby Land items?

Disclaimer:  This post is not sponsored or encouraged by anybody.  These companies do not know I exist and I was not sent these products for review.  I just love these items and wanted to share them with you!  (I do, however, earn a few pennies if you buy these through my Amazon store - the links provided - which just helps cover my blogging/grocery bills.  I appreciate your support!)


pumpkin crisp

The simplicity and buttery rich crumble topping of a fall crisp, the perfection of a creamy pumpkin pie, all thrown together in a few minutes and so so good!

I have been craving fall lately like you would not believe.

Pumpkin pie, hot, creamy lattes, fall leaves, scarves, sweaters, boots, endless mugs of peppermint hot chocolate and hot buttered rums!

I could go on and on...  and on...  and on and on...

I really do love fall!

I think I love it so much because it's the gateway to the holidays which are my absolute favorite.  I love spending time with family and focusing on the things that matter most.

I also love getting back into the routine of school, mom's groups, outings, bible studies and just plain fall-regularity.

Maybe it's the weather (or lack of it, rather) that's got me pining for fall so early this year, but whatever the reason I've decided to not fight it and just go with the flow.

Hence the pumpkin crisp baking in August.  :o)  In my defense, I am in the chilly northwest and it is cool and drizzling outside.  Perfect pumpkin-dessert weather with a big cup (or 5!) or strong, hot coffee!

I may, or may not, have had this for breakfast this morning.  Don't you wish you were here to know for sure (and eat some with me!)?

Are you welcoming fall?  Or dreading the loss of summer?

(Oh, and by the way...  this is pretty much the perfect holiday gathering dessert!  It makes a very full 9x13" pan that would easily serve 12-18 people, depending on serving size.  And it is a make-ahead dish because it tastes best cold!  Win-win!)

Pumpkin Crisp Recipe
serves 12+

for the filling:
4 large eggs
1 (29oz.) can pumpkin purée
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 (12oz each) cans evaporated milk
for the topping:
3/4 cup flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Grease a 9x13" pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until blended.  Whisk in the pumpkin, sugar and spices until smooth.  Pour in the evaporated milk and stir gently until combined.  Pour this filling into the greased pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While the filling is baking, stir together the topping ingredients until moistened and well combined.

When the 15 minutes is up, open the oven, lower the temperature to 350ºF, and sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the hot filling.  Close the door and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the topping is golden.

Let cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight.  Serve with lots of fresh sweetened whipped cream and of course some hot, black coffee to wash it all down with!


fresh, easy homemade guacamole

I am a huge guacamole fan.

Unfortunately the husband is not.

He won't touch an avocado with a ten-foot pole.  Which means I usually have to make and eat my own guacamole all by myself.  (I know...  poor me, right?!)

Well, I found an easier way to get my fix and I am loving this arrangement:

Whenever Andrew makes his amazing Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa, I steal some and make myself a super quick, delicious guacamole.

Two amazing treats with one burst of work (mostly done by the husband!)...  works for me, especially in these crazy new-baby days.

You could also use any great store-bought fresh salsa to make this quick recipe.  But the homemade salsa really makes this extra special!

Fresh, Easy Homemade Guacamole Recipe

2 large, ripe avocados
3/4-1 cup fresh pico de gallo salsa
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper, to taste

I am medium bowl, scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it all up as chunky or smooth as you'd like.

Gently stir in the salsa and lime juice, both to taste.  Season with salt & pepper and serve!

(Guacamole tip:  If you are not going to serve this for a few hours, save the avocado pit and place it back in the guacamole before covering.  The pit will help keep the guacamole from turning brown!)


homemade pico de gallo salsa (aka Andrew salsa!)

Adding to the list of Things Andrew Makes Better Than Me is this salsa.

It's not that I couldn't make this as well as him if I wanted to, it's just that I'm generally too lazy.

As in, when I make salsa, all these ingredients go straight into the food processor to get chopped up quickly and easily.

But no, it doesn't taste quite as good as this way.  Still good, but not the perfection that Andrew's salsa is.  :o)

I know this seems like quite a large batch, but trust me...  it won't go to waste!

And now I'm curious:  Do you prefer your salsa chunky like this (pico de gallo style) or more blended up?

Homemade Pico De Gallo Salsa (aka Andrew Salsa!) Recipe

12 roma tomatoes
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, whites and light greens chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large limes, juiced
2-3 jalapeños, finely chopped - with or without seeds, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste (we use about 1/2-1 tablespoon salt + 1 teaspoon pepper)

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently scoop out the seeds and juice and discard;  Dice the rest.

In a large bowl, gently stir together the diced tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients.  Taste for spice and seasoning, adjust where necessary, and enjoy with chips!

This salsa keeps well for a day or two...  and actually tastes best on the second day, so feel free to make it ahead!


a few of my favorite things...

I was looking through some past recipes yesterday and I realized I definitely have some favorites when it comes to food that I share here and with friends.

Specifically mac & cheese, fruit crisps/crumbles, and brownies!

I have several variations of these in my recipe book, I never get tired of them, and I'm always excited to try new variations!

I decided to do a count for fun, and I have 9 Mac & Cheese recipes...

          pasta dogs with cheese sauce
          spicy baked mac & cheese
          baked buffalo chicken mac & cheese
          super-creamy stove top mac & cheese
          3-cheese baked mac & cheese
          baked quinoa 'mac & cheese'
          creamy stove top mac & cheese for two
          baked butternut squash and bacon mac & cheese
          & almost Beecher's famous mac & cheese!

9 fruit crisp/crumble recipes...

          raspberry rhubarb crumble
          rhubarb crumble & make-ahead crumble topping mix
          berry peach crisp
          cardamom peach blackberry crisp
          apple crisp yogurt parfaits
          fresh peach raspberry cobbler
          almond berry crumble, gluten free
          peach blueberry crumble
          & peach raspberry crumble pie!

and 12 Brownie recipes!

          fudgy dark chocolate brownies
          mexican hot chocolate brownies
          caramel peanut butter Snickers brownies
          fudgy York peppermint patty brownies
          pink & brownies, for my love
          fudgy chocolate chip cookie dough brownies
          candy bar brownies
          mocha fudge brownies
          fudgy Andes mint brownies
          triple chocolate peppermint brownies
          chewy lemon bars (lemon brownies)
          & toasted coconut Samoas brownies!

Have you tried any of these?  Which are your favorites?

Or even better, do you have a favorite mac & cheese, brownie or fruit crisp recipe I should try?  Like I said, I never get tired of trying new kinds!!


gooey marshmallow chocolate chip cookies

These cookies are rich, moist, incredibly chewy and absolutely irresistible.

My two toddlers were complete basket-cases just looking at these and I had to hide them as soon as they were cool to stop all the tears.

I may have needed to hide them from myself too.  Maybe.  :o)  They were good.

I have to say, one of the best parts about being blessed with some amazing meals from friends while we adjust to having a new baby in our family, is that I get to spend my precious little kitchen time on fun things like baking, instead of the day-to-day challenge of feeding my family.

There is no way I would be able to do both right now, and since baking is my sanity, I'm pretty sure those amazing meals are also helping me adjust more easily to the chaos that is our life right now!

Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
makes about 18 very large cookies

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups mini-marshmallows

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt;  set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the melted butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in the flour mixture until just combined and then stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before continuing.  Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper;  set aside.

Scoop about 1/2 cup of the dough, roll into a big ball in your hands and then gently split in two like you are cracking an egg in half.  Place the halves, craggly side up, onto the prepared baking sheets... about 6 cookies to a baking sheet, with lots of room for spreading.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

(Of course, you can make these cookie smaller...  and I am usually a small-cookie person...  but for some reason they just never taste as good to me when I make them smaller!  No idea why!)

Bake each sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges and then let the cookies rest on the cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.


pasta with lemon browned butter & fresh dungeness crab

Sometimes you just need a quick meal to throw together on a hot summer day. Something that doesn't take a lot of thought, prep or time.

Ok...  so I know fresh crab is not a regular feature on most people's dinner menus.

But, I am lucky enough to live on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, where Dungeness Crab abound in the waters just minutes from my house!

And not much makes my day brighter than when my sweet husband walks in the door with 2 or 3 beautiful Dungeness Crab...  and then happily cracks it all for me!  (Seriously, he actually enjoys it!)

This pasta is also great by itself, or with some grilled chicken or steak, so don't be put off by the crab if you don't have it or don't like it...  give this delicious dinner a try.  It's a hit with kids and adults alike!

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to hear "What did you do to this butter?  It's amazing!", like I did!

Pasta with Lemon Browned Butter & Fresh Dungeness Crab Recipe

1 pound pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup butter
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1 large lemon
salt & pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh italian parsley
fresh cracked Dungeness crab meat, optional of course

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter with the smashed garlic clove in a large pan over medium heat.

Continue to cook the butter, swirling it occasionally, until it starts to get very fragrant and turns golden brown.  Immediately remove from the heat, remove the garlic clove (throw it away) and stir in the lemon juice and the cooked pasta.  Toss well to coat.

Season to taste with salt & pepper (& crushed red pepper flakes if you'd like!) and toss in the chopped parsley just before serving with the crab (or whatever meat you're having!) on top!



the heart of a new-again mom...

Wiping my tears off my newborn daughter's sleeping head, I struggle... and am gently reminded why we do this.

Why we put ourselves through the pain, the vulnerability and the brokenness of birth.

Why we allow ourselves to be crushed and stretched beyond imaginable limits caring for these precious lives that take so much from us.  Always giving.  Always crying.

I never knew tears could flow so easily.  I never knew love could hurt so much.

Every little life that joins our family changes us so much.  Our 'normal' is no longer, and like blind leading the blind we have to grope our way back to a new 'normal'...  whatever that is.

The new baby needs and needs and takes and takes until it feels like there is nothing left to give.

The already-there babies cry and whine and whine and cry and try to understand that their lives will never be the same.

They try to understand that the routine they have grown so fond of has to change again to accommodate this new little person.  This new life that interrupts and is so cute but so fragile... and she doesn't even know how to play yet.

She doesn't even know how to play!

And mommy's arms are full so often and mommy's lap is so crowded, but that baby is so cute and they love her so much.

She is so tiny.  And so soft.  So incredibly soft and fragile.  And that smell.  That sweet new baby smell that even big brothers can't resist.

That sweet smell that keeps them coming back for more and more kisses and more and more touching of those soft fingers and oh so tiny toes.

But she won't stay little for long.  And these days that can be so hard sometimes...  So hard we wonder how we ever did this before or how we could ever do this again...  are gone before we know it.

Life returns to a new normal, at least until next time.

And we can't imagine life without her.  Without this person who has so taken hold of our hearts that the thought of her not being here literally takes our breath away.

This feeling.  This all-consuming love.  This family.  This is why we do this.

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