I Am Baker

today is a new day

(an update from ‘the best laid plans…‘)

Last night was definitely a long night, with countless tosses and turns.  Crying babies (Olivia developed a small fever) and racing thoughts.  I did not sleep well and felt groggy and a bit dejected as I thought about what was in store for today.

But then my eyes opened.  And I saw the rising sun and I knew that this morning was new.  Golden and clean and new.

Once I saw the beauty the sun was sharing, I grabbed my camera and headed outside.

Sunrise on the Pond


Everything was still.  I could hear the trickle of droplets as they fell off of leaves into the pond.  I felt like I could almost hear the sun itself, straining over the trees, reaching out her arms to the farthest corners of the sky.

Sunrise on the Pond


It was mesmerizing really.  The calm.  The grass and leaves so wet with dew their tops were touching the ground.  The field grasses were so thick with the glassy drops of water they almost looked like crystal spider webs for as far as I could see.

Sunrise on the Pond


So delicate, I dared not get to close.  To disturb such balance and beauty seemed a crime.

And honestly, I was savoring the quiet.

Sunrise on the Pond


The last time I was on this path it was chaos.  The chickens were scattering and squawking, the dogs leaping and biting, and me with my shrill panicked shrieks racing around trying to catch a trailing leash.

Sunrise on the Pond


There were times last evening that I was everywhere but the nicely mowed paths my husband has created.  The chickens had tried to find safety in the thick undergrowth and thorny shrubs, and we went in after them.

Sunrise on the Pond


The aftermath was obvious.  Tall grasses flattened along murky ponds and feathers gently quivering in each gentle breeze.  An empty chicken coop, it’s door left open with the hopes that they just might return and seek shelter in the only home they had ever known.

I had always seen those pesky chickens as a source of eggs.  With all the baking I do, going through 2 dozen a week was the norm, and I was so excited at the thought of have my own organic eggs from my own chickens.  For free!

But it turns out that they were more than that.  They were a beloved pet to my children.  They were a source of joy and fun for us, as we often just huddled around them watching them eat and experience new things like mowed grass or ticks we would save and feed them.  They were teaching my small kids responsibility and work ethic.

They really were a part of our family.

Sunrise on the Pond

And that is when I heard them.

Our chickens came home!

The seven remaining chickens all found their way back to us!

I jumped up and down and tried to get a picture that wasn’t shaky.

Our Chickens in the Yard

Talk about a sight for sore eyes… that is the prettiest group of chickens I have ever seen!  Turbo, August, Pecky Peck, Fred, Bright Bright, Chewy McFlussner, and one more name I seriously can’t remember!

They ran around and explored and revisited every happy spot they had once lingered in.  I watched with a permanent smile on my face and couldn’t wait for the kids to get up so I could share the news.

While we will still mourn the loss of Wingman and guinea, having the birds return is such a blessing!  Thank you, thank you all so much for the prayers and well wishes.  I had felt so alone last evening, and you really comforted me with your comments and support.  You are a blessing.

Thank you and YAY for the Chickens and Guineas!!

I Am Baker

the best laid plans…

UPDATE: ‘today is a new day’

Here is how my evening should have gone.

Get kids dressed.  Head out to Audrey’s very last soccer game and picnic for all the players and parents.  (Husband is on a fishing trip in Canada with Colton and Parker, so it is just me Audrey, Eddie and Olivia.)

Come home, put the chickens and guinea’s away, bathe kids, tuck them in and head to bed.


Here is what happened instead.

Audrey comes running up to me while I was changing, “MOM!  There are two dogs chasing the guinea’s!”


Look out the window and see a dog trying to kill a chicken right before my eyes.

SCREAM OUT IN HORROR.  Terrify the children.

Tell Audrey (who is five mind you) to watch Olivia (who is one) while I try to save the chickens.  Throw some clothes on and run outside just in time to see a dog finishing off a chicken and running to find some more.

Chase dogs.  All over property. ( we have 15 acres) Literally running faster than I have ever run and screaming like a mad woman.  (I am not kidding, I have never been more thankful that our neighbors are not within screaming distance.)

chickensour sweet chickens as babies

There are two dogs.  Chickens scatter.  Eddie runs out behind me and one dog runs over to him and jumps on him at full speed, laying him flat out.  Eddie starts screaming.  Run to him, he is ok, just scared and screaming.

Catch one dog.  Then the other.

Stand there holding dogs not knowing what to do as I don’t have my phone or shoes or my wits about me.  Yell to Eddie, he is ok.  Just got the wind knocked out of him.  (but upset still)

Dogs freaking out jumping trying to get away.  I realize that one is a German Shorthair pointer, a breed we love and used to have two of.  The other is a German Wirehair and he is a gentle giant.

I get the dogs to our front step and see that the dog has a heavy duty long leash on him that has been chewed through.  Seeing this, I know I can’t let the dogs go or they will bolt and I don’t know where my chickens and guinea’s are and I need to see how Eddie is.

Check him and he is ok… realize that I left my five year old in charge of my one year old and that I am insane and clearly cannot think rationally in a crisis.  They are sitting in the middle of the living room playing patty-cake.  Thank God!

I am sobbing.

One dead chicken that I know of.  A scared little boy.

A hysterical, crying mom who has no idea what to do or who to call.

I mouth through the window for Audrey to bring me my phone and she does.  I call the number on the tags and let the owners know I have their dogs.  They are on their way.

I sob some more.  I don’t know who to call.  Literally every adult in my life that I would call is fishing in Canada and has no cell service.

I call my mom.  She doesnt answer.

Finally, I call the police.  “Hello, Anoka County Dispatch.”

“Um, I don’t know what to do.  Not sure if I am supposed to call?  There are two dogs on my property and one jumped on my child and also killed one chicken that I know of and the rest of my birds are gone.”

“Yes, you should definitely call us.  I will send out a deputy right now.”

chickensour sweet chickens as babies

Twenty minutes later they all arrive.  (It’s hard to find our place)  I have been standing there barefoot holding these dogs, thinking about my dead chicken and trying to calm Eddie down.  We have a dog (Dodger, a yorki-poo), but all of a sudden he is afraid of dogs.

Everyone gets out of their cars and I tell the story, thankfully not crying anymore.  The owners are very apologetic.  The police man kind.  (From this point on this the story, I am carrying Olivia.)

We talk about the breed.  Seeing as we used to own shorthairs, I know they are bird dogs.  They are bred to kill pheasant and game and in watching them attack our chickens, I know they were just doing what they were born to do.  Other than that, the dogs were mostly well behaved, although quite full of energy.  I have no issue with the dogs nor do I think they should be punished in any way, but I do think they need to be trained to not chew through leash’s and not to run away.  They had run over  a half mile to get to our property.

At this point we need to try and see how many birds were killed and find the rest.  As we are walking along Eddie tells Officer Nick, “Wingman is dead.”  Understandably confused, I inform him that that all of our chickens are named and are like pets to us.  The dead chicken we found was named Wingman.  My two boys, Colton and Parker, are going to be devastated that their pet chickens are gone.

After walking to property, we find another guinea, alive but badly injured.  Officer Nick offers to put him out of his misery and I begrudgingly agree.  I gather the kids and we run away. (Again, I start crying.  I literally have zero control over my emotions.)  So thankful that Officer Nick was willing to do that as there is no way I would have been able to do what he did.

The officer and dog owners end up finding all the guinea’s but they will not go back into their coop.  I decide to move on, as I feel like I am wasting Officer Nick’s time and that he should leave if there are actual crimes taking place. The owners and I continue to look for the chickens as Officer Nick goes and writes up his report and citation for the owners.

We look.  And look.  And walk through thick brush and heavily wooded areas thick with thorns.  (I have the raw scraped skin to show for it, as I was trying to shield Olivia and took the brunt of it)

We do not find the chickens.

Officer Nick has finished.  He leaves.  The owners leave.

Officer Nick and Kids

Before he left the kids wanted a picture with him.  He was so kind and gentle with them, so concerned with their feelings and loss.  Such a wonderful and thoughtful man.  Thank you Officer Nick!

It is now 7:30 at night and has been 2 hours since I first saw the dog attack my chicken.

I got the kids in the tub.  I got them to bed.  And now I am tired.

Honestly, just still really upset about it all.  Sad that Audrey had to miss her last game and seeing her soccer friends and get her award.  Sad that my arms are scraped and throbbing.   Sad that Wingman and the guinea are gone.  Sad that our sweet chickens are out scattered (or dead) in the forest.  Sad that Eddie got bumped and maybe bruised in the process.

Sad that I am going through this alone.  So sad and so tired.

Hopefully the chickens will find a safe place to sleep tonight.

I Am Baker

she gets it from me

Hey.  Mom.

Olivia and her First Marshmallow


What’s that you got there?

Yeah, the white thing.

Olivia and her First Marshmallow


Um, can I have one.

Just one.

I really want one.

Olivia and her First Marshmallow



Wait.  Really?

Are you sure?

I can eat this whole thing?

Olivia and her First Marshmallow


Cause I am eating it.

All of it.

Right now.

You can’t take it back no matter what.

Olivia and her First Marshmallow





Hey mommy.  Can I have another?


I Am Baker I Am Baker

You are the World

The older I get, the easier it is to accept responsibility over fun.  Ten years ago that is not a thought that would have lasted more than a millisecond in my brain, as I was all to often one to fulfill the self serving need.

Parker and Eddie 2014


I dont know when it started (birth) but I have always been a bit self-entitled.  I remember when I was in high school I used to do this thing to my parents.  When they would ask me to complete a task or help or do anything beyond the normal scope of existance, I would hold up my left pointer finger like I was counting #1 and say, “This is me.”  Then I would take my right hand pointer finger and make circles around the other finger.  “This is the world.”

The implication being, of course, that I envisioned the world revolving around me.

Colton, Parker & Eddie in driveway 2014


When I got engaged I looked at a ring on my mom’s hand and said, “That is the kind of ring I want!”  It was quite large.  A beautifully cut center stone with many many diamonds surrounding.  My mom shook her head and said, “Amanda, my first ring was a very small, very imperfect, very humble stone.  This was a gift from your father after 15 years of marriage.”  She didn’t think it was very realistic of me to start out with the huge stone.  (I think she knew that I was far more concerned with the ring than I was the actual marriage at that point.)

And she was right.

Eddie and Parker 2014


Eventually, changes were made.  Faith was discovered. Humility became a goal instead of something to be avoided at all costs.  But as flawed and human as I am, I stumble.

There was recently an opportunity to go on a “work” trip that was in a tropical location.  It sounded like something that I would really benefit from, as the focus is photography and I am always trying to improve mine.  The setting is magical, the content is exciting and challenging, the company is going to be the best, as many blogging friends are going.

The time frame?  One week.  A full seven days away.

And I knew I could never go.

But more importantly, after about two minutes of dreamy wishful thinking, I didn’t have a need to be there.

My kids are still so young.  The oldest is just 9 and the youngest 12 months.  In addition to them having needs it just doesn’t make sense for me to pursue an endeavor that would put so much stress on others.  My husband for instance.  While I know he would support anything that I passionately pursued, this particular trip would have been a strain on his job and time.  We would have probably had to call in extra help (like a mom or a sitter) which would have been an additional stress on someone else’s time.

I just knew it wasn’t my time.

Parker and Eddie 2014

I know where I am needed right now.

I know that I will not always be needed in the same way, as little boys and girls grow and embrace independence and make their own paths in this world.

And I know that in this moment, my soul finds much more fulfillment in meeting the little (sometimes seemingly insignificant) needs of the people that I am blessed enough to call family.

It’s amazing (dumbfounds me actually) that I can find just as much satisfaction in a well made dinner than I can in career accolades, pursuits, and praises.


Be the World


Today, well, today I simply feel blessed to simply be needed.

In 10 years?  Watch out sandy beach, here I come!

I Am Baker

froggy business

If you can agree to any of the statements below, just stop reading this and move on with your day.  Trust me.

1.  You passed high school Biology.  (The frog dissection part).

2.  You have basic knowledge of how frogs procreate and give birth.

3.  The idea of seeing frogs being intimate does not gross you out.  Likewise, watching frogs have babies is not gross.  Because really, I don’t actually know what I have captured a picture of.

pond life: frogs

 If you happened to have answered yes to the above statements but are still here, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The sheer stupidity that I am about to admit has sent me lurching down a shame spiral.  To this day I still do not know what I saw.

It all started innocently enough.  I was working inside last Saturday and the kids came running in.

“Mom, mom!  The leeches are taking the frog down.  They are killing it!”

Well, that sounds lovely.  Why don’t I head down to the pond with you and check things out.

So we all venture down to the shoreline, me with camera in tow.  In my mind I had conjured up an image of a poor sickly frog being slowly sucked to death by dozens of ravenous leeches.  I was prepared for gross.  Or, at least I thought I was.

There was one little froggy hanging out on a branch so I snapped his mugshot.  But as I looked into the water, things got weird.

pond life: frogs


There were a lot of frogs.  I want to say at least a hundred just in one of our ponds. And they seemed to be mating.

I stared at them.  I mean, as a city girl I had never really seen a lot of frog mating and honestly I was a bit fascinated.  Grossed out, but fascinated.

The kids were asking questions and I was pretending I didn’t know, because having a “birds and the bee’s” discussion wasn’t in the cards for that day.

I mean, there were frogs humping everywhere.  It was like amphibian smut.  Explicit frog art.  The “birds and the frogs”.


pond life: frogs

But then I looked even closer.

There was this stuff everywhere.

Black strings of stuff.  EVERYWHERE.

MASSIVE amounts of it.

pond life: frogs

All around in the water there were globs of it.

pond life: frogs


Turns out its frog babies.

That is not the technical term (and since I am not planning on looking it up anytime soon I will just stick to that), but I will hold fast to the wild assumption that it’s babies based on the little I do know about the birthing process.

That and this picture.

pond life: frogs


Where it seems that the babies are being ‘laid’ or ‘born’ or excreted from a frog.  Is it coming from the top frog?  So the female frog is on top?

Oh,  ok.  I get it now! 

Um, no, no I don’t.

So as I stood there in complete disbelief that I could be so entirely clueless about the frog mating and birthing process, I noticed the blobs of black frog babies were moving.


pond life: frogs

That’s when I noticed the leeches.  There are three that I can see in the picture above.  They were feasting.

Ugh, that word makes me shudder.

They were writhing and rolling and feasting on the unsuspecting unborn.

It was a horrific.  It was nature.  My husband got excited at the prospect of fat leeches for fishing.  I declared myself incapable of comprehending the frog baby murders occurring right before my eyes.

The kids got hungry and went inside for snacks.

My disbelief froze me.  I stood there, camera poised but not taking any pictures.  Just watching.

After some time a lone frog made his way over to me and started croaking.

It was so loud it hurt my ears.  Was it a mating call?  Was he warning his fellow comrades of the brutal leech feast occurring on his potential offspring?  Was he just sick of me standing there?  I will never know.


pond life: frogs


I did manage to capture this moment of that sweet little frog croaking so loud his vocal sac was about to burst.

It was so still in the moment leading up to his song that the water reverberated with his chorus.

pond life: frogs

That was cool to see.

So while I am  fully scarred from the days events and will never fully understand what we all witnessed that day, at least I can look back and appreciate the frog song.

And when I say appreciate I really mean not appreciate.  It is SO loud and annoying!  My brain was hurting.

Moral of the story: Frogs are weird.  I do not understand frog sex and baby making.  They are loud. Leeches are disgusting.  Having ponds is not as cool as you would think.

The end.

I Am Baker I Am Baker

chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate butter glaze

I made a mini-resolution to myself.  Start getting real on my blog.

Which is weird because no one told me to stop being real, but I have been slowly morphing into “safe” mode.  Just get by.  Don’t ruffle feathers.  Not consciously mind you, I think it was a subconscious act of preservation.  Blogging ain’t for the weak ya’all.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

So I normally wouldn’t post this recipe.  It’s just too… indulgent.  Too weird.  I mean… chocolate buttery sugary GLAZE poured over chocolate pancakes?


Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast


But my all time favorite way to eat pancakes is with butter.  Lots and lots of butter.  Syrup I can give or take… but butter is a must.

So, I melted some butter.  Added some chocolate chips.  Then some sugar.

And it was sweet and fabulous.  But I needed a hint of bitter in there, to heighten the sweetness of the glaze even more, so I added raspberries.


Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast


I have not specified the fruit in this recipe at all, but I highly recommend adding something with a bit of acidity in it, or at the very least a fruit with a little tang.  Oranges would be ah-mazing, lemon, some apples, some blueberries or blackberries.  You can really (and you really should) test to your hearts content.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate butter glaze


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar


  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. (Do not skip this step! You do not want lumpy pancakes.)
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth.
  3. Add in melted butter. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk.
  4. Lastly, add in mini chocolate chips. I prefer less, but you can add as many as you prefer.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle (about 300 degrees).
  6. Recipe serves 8.
  7. Chocolate Glaze
  8. Melt butter in microwave safe container, a small bowl works well.
  9. Immediately after melting butter, add in mini chocolate chips and stir until mostly melted.
  10. Add in sugar and stir until incorporated.
  11. Serve immediately. As the butter returns to room temperature the glaze will harden, simply re-heat to reach liquid again.
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Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Chocolatey Butter Glaze and Raspberries! #breakfast #pancakes #chocolate #bestpancakes


I prefer my chocolate chip pancakes to have less chocolate chips.  Sounds weird, but I love pancakes so much, I like to be able to taste them!  When you have too many chocolate chips the only thing you can taste is chocolate.  (I know, I know, it’s like I have lost my mind.)

The glaze for these pancakes is really, really focused on the butter flavor.  There is that hint of chocolate and sweet, but (as I mentioned above) really wanted to make sure the buttery deliciousness I crave was dominant.  If you wanted to use syrup instead that would work great too!

I Am Baker

what makes a kitchen the heart of a home

My kitchen is all at once the messiest and most cleaned room in my home. It causes me stress and joy simultaneously!  I stress over dirty dishes, moldy bread, crumbs on the floor and stains drying and setting in my table cloth as we speak. he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   But then there is the joy. We embrace the joy on weeknights especially, since those are the times when it’s easiest to get caught up in the stress of the week and overlook those special moments.
The cathartic process of baking a cake, in preparing meals for my loved ones, in laughing over the weekdays’ events and helping young minds meander through schoolwork. he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home! Seeing four busy little bodies making themselves far too comfortable in front of the open refrigerator doors trying to find something that will most assuredly ruin their dinner.
The wails and cries of disappointment when they learn they can’t have marshmallow fluff for a snack, and then the 7 seconds it takes them to recover from the massive disappointment only to then fight over who gets to fill the water glasses for dinner. (Arguably my 3 year olds favorite thing in the world to do).
It’s a vicious cycle of mess making and mess cleaning.  The never ending hum of my GE Appliances dishwasher, which has now become a familiar (and dare I say soothing?!) background noise.
he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   A splendid cycle of the family coming together in anticipation of cookies, slow cooked chili, or game night.  Learning new tricks, new processes, new ways to appreciate the foods we crave.
he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   So what is it that makes the kitchen the heart of the home on weeknights?
The kitchen is the heart of the home!   It’s a reflection of the hearts of its inhabitants. We come here to eat, to laugh, to play, to pray, to learn, to have fellowship, and to grow.
Where discipline and reward exist together.
The kitchen is the heart of the home! Where every sense is heightened and delighted. We learn what we like, discover what we love… and create the lifelong trust in the relationships that enrich our hearts.
The kitchen is the heart of the home!   And eat.  We do lots and lots of eating.
The kitchen is the heart of the home!
While I will never enjoy the mess, I will always enjoy that the mess was made.
Blueberry Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust

 (To make this Blueberry Cheesecake click here.)

shortbread crust


  • 1 package walkers shortbread (8 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


  1. Place cookies in food processor and pulse until cookies are a fine crumble.
  2. Pour into bowl and add in melted butter.
  3. With a fork, mash the cookie and butter together until mostly incorporated.
  4. Press shortbread into a 7 inch springform pan. (Can use 8 inch or 9 inch as well) Pour cheesecake over top and bake as the cheesecake directions indicate.
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Blueberry Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust   
What makes the kitchen the heart of your home?

I Am Baker

perfect rainbow pancakes

My original Rainbow Pancakes have been quite controversial, but hopefully that is all done.  I am sharing a slightly less technicolor version of them today, AND sharing tips on how you can great the Perfect Rainbow Pancake, just in time for Easter!

Tips for the Perfect Rainbow Pancake! #pancakes #rainbow


Here are a few tips!

Have lots of bowl on hand.  By far the most time consuming part of rainbow pancakes is creating six batters in six different bowls.  I suggest enlisting the little ones in the entire process, and then allow them to help with clean up afterwards.  I have found that this helps them understand that this is a “special” event and not something we do everyday.

Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Cook low and slow. I often cook my rainbow pancakes at 250 degrees F on the griddle.

Do not use butter to grease pan.  I do not use anything to prepare the pan, I simply use a a griddle that is non-stick.

Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Make all of one color at once.  I prepare all of the pink, then the orange, then so on.  I place finished pancakes on a warming plate in the oven, and that way I can serve all of the pancakes hot and in rainbow color order!

If you want to make shape you can place batter into a pastry bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner.  Make an outline and then quickly fill the shape in.   This can be esepceially fun with you have so many different colors!

I do not recommend using cookie cutter to get the designed shape you want.  The average person (like me!) does not have 5 of one shape cookie cutter, so this means you are making one pancake at a time.  You also need to spray the cookie cutter before each use and be careful because it gets very hot!  I have yet to find a way to make this method  be efficient.

Use a “good” recipe.  I put good in quotations because what I really mean is use a recipe that is ideal for creating beautiful looking pancakes.  The following recipe is one that tastes delicious, but is slightly runnier.  When you are making colorful pancakes you do not want them to get too brown, so having a pancake that will cook faster (and therefor allow you to flip sooner) is ideal.  This recipe uses a lot of baking powder so it still fluffs up nicely.

If you want to make sure your pancake is done, let them cook on one side a bit longer.  It is just fine if one side is more brown, just serve that side down.

I slightly adapted this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but any basica recipe will do.  Simply add more liquid to achieve better results.

perfect rainbow pancakes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Pour in milk, egg and oil and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter onto the heated griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
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Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Use a good food coloring.  With this recipe specifically you can use liquid food coloring with great success!  It’s also a great time to get your teacher hat on with the kids, and help them to figure out what colors you need to combine to achieve orange and purple and green.

Enjoy the process.  Most of all, enjoy this time in the kitchen with your little ones.  They grow up so fast!