I Am Baker

life

Life has been crazy.

I have been stressed and calm and happy and sad and excited and dejected and that was just today.

Since updating my mommy blog has been something I have been wanting to do forever but have been woefully negligent in doing so, I am just going FULL BOAR on it tonight.

eddie

 

This little man is growing up.  In less than a month he will be 3 and I cant handle it.  He is my snuggle bear and so stinking cute and makes us all laugh on a daily basis.

I have started taking our sweet Eddie to speech therapy once a week.  It was a tough choice because he is so small and because it’s quite expensive and our deductible is very, very high so we pay for most everything!  But he is worth it and I am hoping to see some improvement soon.  He seems to have a hard time with “sm” words and “pr” words.  He also drops words and doesn’t care to identify ‘he’ and ‘she’ correctly.  All fixable, and the prognosis is very good.

audrey-sassy

 

This sassy malassy is a stinker winker bear.  My sweet Audrey.  Full of spirit and words and energy, I find that she is my greatest challenge everyday.  Not only does she love to get dressed up as a princess (every.single.day.) but she is now obsessed with Elsa from Frozen and is constantly asking for us to tie blankets around her so she can have a long cape.  Not that the cold bothers her, that is.

parker-image

Cookies on Blue Plate by Parker

colton-image

 Cookies on Red Plate by Colton

I have been trying to teach Colton and Parker photography basics.  So far we have started on food photography, and they are LOVING it.

The above assignment was for the kids to pick any props they wanted and they had to “style” the shoot.  Once they got everything laid out they way they wanted, we put the camera on a tri-pod and talked about lighting.  How light bounces and reflects and shadows and natural vs. artificial.

This has been challenging because I am always learning as well!, but youtube has some great tutorials.

Secretly I am hoping one of them really has a passion for photography and I can start asking them to take all my blog pictures for me!

Intentional Parenting

 

I started writing a series on Intentional Parenting.  I have two weeks done now, and its really making a difference in my life!  Just hoping to do some more research and get some life experience before I share it.  Hoping it will help others as much as me!

I have also started running.  As in, running.  I know that is hard to believe as anyone who knows me knows I HATE RUNNING.  One day I just woke up and said, “I think I need to like running.”  And I did.

treadmill

 

This was the first time I ran over 2 miles.  I think I had a permagrin that whole night.  It felt SO good to reach that goal!

Tonight I ran 4 miles in 52 minutes.  That actually equals out to be a slow jog, like a 13 minute mile, but its a big deal for me.  A BIG deal.  The night before last I ran for one hour straight.  No stopping.  An hour!

I look forward to my run everyday and have thankfully avoided injury thus far.  My biggest challenge to date is mental.  I get bored.  I get distracted.  I get tired. (da)  So hubby downloaded The Biggest Loser and I watch that.  It’s been REALLY helpful and inspirational.  (I tried running without it and was only able to go a mile… that goes to show how mentally weak I am!)

Just hoping I can stick with it and get healthy (er).

Surprise Inside Cakes Cover1

image credit susan powers

Last but not least is this guy.  Officially on the book store shelves in 2 days.  Talk about a labor of love!  I have developed such a huge respect for the people in this industry.  The literary agents and publicists and publishers and editors and copyeditors.  Wow.  Those folks are such a talented and creative and AMAZING bunch.  I hope to have the opportunity to know them more in the future.

That being said, if you have not purchased the book do it NOW! (please)  I want to share this experience with you and read it with you and bake cakes together!

Amazon: http://goo.gl/zX1V9k

And with that I am headed to bed.  (And I didnt even talk about homeschooling!  I have some big changes to report on that front.  Hopefully soon!)

Be blessed!

I Am Baker

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

So I posted a picture on Instagram and asked people what they thought of Red Velvet Chocolate Milk.  Based on the picture I posted (darn my love of filters) , 99.99999% of them said NO.  No.  Not ever.  Just… no.

Based on that awesome response you would think that I would scrap the recipe huh?

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

I just couldn’t.  It was too fun and the kids were totally enthralled by it and it was a special occasion and I promise I will only make it once a year and never ever make anything with red food coloring in it ever again.

That last part is a lie.  #justsayin

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

You can see that this is more pink than red, and I am ok with that in this case.  Since the red color is achieved primarily through the gel food coloring, I think it’s ok to skimp.

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar
  • 3 drops red food coloring (more or less depending on your tastes)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix for about 1 minute.
  2. Serve immediately.
  3. The cocoa will start to separate from the milk right away, so I do not recommend storing. If you do chose to prepare ahead of time, just put in the blender for 15 seconds prior to serving.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://iambaker.net/red-velvet-chocolate-milk/

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

With the addition on the vinegar, I think this really does taste like red velvet.  And if you wanted to make it healthier you could use India Tree all natural food coloring.  Switching out the ingredients for all organic would be even better.

I liked this drink and really like the suggestion of making it into a milkshake.  Just need to head to the store and get some ice cream!

My BEST Homemade Chocolate Milk is always a good way to go if you like traditional yumminess. :)

I Am Baker

today i will

Some days are just easy to enjoy.

kids-homeschool

 

This day was one of those days.

When I woke up to a clearly defined plan of attack, and set about sticking to it as the sun crept higher and higher in the sky, it was easier to enjoy the little moments.

Why I don’t stick to a defined schedule everyday is beyond me, as it is clearly something I benefit from!  But what is even more important, my kids benefit as well.  They perform so well when they know what is expected of them.

On this day our homeschool time and requirements were very clearly laid out.  Like clockwork, the kids would complete a task and move to the next.

It was refreshing and encouraging. (And totally not something that I expect everyday!  I just wanted to appreciate THIS day.)

So, it seems to me, if I want to find joy in my daily routine and set the tone for our home, I need to be intentional about it.

Intentional living.

Better write that on my to-do list.

I Am Baker

Deliciously Organic

I have a very, very special guest today.  Carrie from Deliciously Organic is here to share her story.  I have met Carrie in person and she is as beautiful on the inside as out.  I trust her and respect her immensely and am honored she is willing to come here today not only share her heart, but useful ways to help others!  She is such a blessing! 

 

Deliciously Organic

If you had two girls under the age of 2, and your fighter-pilot husband was flying cover during a war in Iraq, would you think that was a good time to tackle a huge lifestyle change, like converting your diet to organic, whole foods? Me neither. I didn’t need more stress or one more distraction. But that’s what happened in 2003.

Two years earlier, after the birth of my second daughter, I began having daily migraines. I was 25. As migraines often are, they were both baffling and debilitating. The migraines I’d experienced after the birth of my first daughter had been infrequent and not as severe. But this time it was different. I often had to lie down in a dark quiet room, which was almost impossible with a toddler and an infant.

I was taking several medications to manage the pain just to get through the day. The migraines continued, though, settling into a routine of four or more a week. After two years of struggle my neurologist suggested adding yet another daily medication to my prescription regimen—a treatment plan that wasn’t working anyway. I kindly rejected her suggestion and drove home thinking, “There must be another way.“

The same day I saw my neurologist, a tiny newsletter article caught my eye as I went through the mail. It was about the benefits of organic foods. I knew migraines could be related to diet, so I wondered if changing to organic foods might help. I was at the end of my rope and willing to try something different.

Meal Plan Collage

Relief

At the time I was eating lots of vegetables to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight. I replaced my lettuce with organic lettuce. That was my first step. I picked lettuce because it was the food I ate the most. Within a week I noticed a significant difference. The frequency of my migraines decreased, and it became easier to care for my kids. I didn’t need any more encouragement. I switched all our produce to organic with the intent of gradually increasing the amount of pure and untreated food in my diet and decreasing my pesticide intake. As I dug deeper and learned more, I continued making changes to my pantry and refrigerator. Over the next year and a half, I completely converted my family’s diet to whole, unprocessed, organic ingredients and was able to get off of all of my medications.

Deliciously Organic

Another Hurdle – Hashimoto’s Disease

I was thriving, healthy and so happy to have be with my kids and off of the heavy medications. Then in 2008, I had an amalgam filling removed and unfortunately the doctor didn’t take the proper precautions during the extraction. As a result, my thyroid absorbed many of the heavy metals and months later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (you can read the full story here). The disease ravaged my body with hives, I had little energy and was quickly slipping into a depression. Once again the doctors didn’t have any answers and said there wasn’t anything they could do. I once again turned to nutrition and began a grain-free diet rich in healthy fats, meats, vegetables and fermented foods to begin the healing process. After several years of hard work, discipline, and the amazing guidance of my nutirtionist, I’m happy to say the disease is now in full remission!

Through organic, unprocessed food our family of four has overcome severe asthma, eczema, Hashimoto’s, IBS and migraines, all without drugs—just good, natural, real food.

If your goal is to make healthy changes this year then I encourage you to start slow, arm yourself with great recipes and make one change a week. Is there still room for cake? Of course!

 

Deliciously Organic

Chocolate Cake

 

Today I have some great resources for you to help you make that first step, or help to continue your journey to healthier eating.

Deliciously Organic

Special #1

The Deliciously Organic cookbook plus 6 months of meal plans for $50 (retail $94.94).

Choose from Classic, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free or Paleo meal plans.

6 Month Meal Plan

 Homemade Samoas

Special #2

The Deliciously Organic cookbook, 3 months of weekly meal plans the grain-free adaptations for each recipe in the cookbook, and a collection of my favorite crock pot recipes for $35 (retail 84.95).

Choose from Classic, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free or Paleo meal plans.

Cookbook Special

 

Offer expires February 10th.

*****

This is such a real, raw and wonderful offer.  I know I will be making some changes!!  Please do let me or Carrie know if you have any questions!

I Am Baker

Truth or Dare


Let’s play a little game of Truth or Dare.  This should be fun.

First, I pick DARE.

I dare myself to live in Minnesota during a long, cold winter (there is a high of -15 today.  I am not kidding.) and still feed my family fresh farm-to-table ingredients.Beautiful Corn from DelMonte

Ha ha ha! (Evil villainous laugh here). Dare accepted!  See that gorgeous corn up there? That is from a can. A can of Del Monte® Whole Kernel Corn that was picked at the peak of ripeness and often canned that very same day.

Not only are they gorgeous straight outta the can, but they are even better roasted.

To make Roasted Corn, I drain and dry the corn softly with a paper towel. Then place the mostly dry corn on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and coarse pepper.  Roast at 350 for 25-30 minutes. (The reason I roast for so long is because the corn sweats off a lot of liquid. Start watching your corn around 15 minutes so that none of the delicious bits get burned.  If the edges get too dark, simply open the oven and carefully toss the corn to evenly disperse.)

Amazing Roasted Corn (And its from a can!)

My family fights over the little brown bits. They are the best.

Fresh food in sub-zero temps? Check. (Ok, ok. So Del Monte made that easy for me.)

This time I pick TRUTH.

Ok… here goes.

“I can get my kids to eat green beans without complaining.”Roasted Green Beans

Do you think I am lying? Ha, ha! (there’s that evil laugh again!) Not only do they like these roasted Del Monte® Cut Green Beans, they ask for them.

Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 can DelMonte Green Beans
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Open can of green beans and dry very well. Place bean on parchment lined baking sheet. Break coconut oil up into little bits and drop sporadically over beans.
  2. Evenly sprinkle the paprika, garlic powder, onion flakes and salt and pepper over beans and roast for 15 minutes at 350.
  3. *You can also use Extra Virgin Olive Oil; just drizzle it over all beans.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://iambaker.net/foodie-truth-or-dare/

So clearly I dominate at Truth or Dare. I tell you what. No one likes a know it all. You (and by you I mean me) have one more chance to win this. For this last challenge, I choose dare. But not just any dare, a DOUBLE DARE.

I double dare myself to serve my family a dessert that they will accept as dessert but that will have no added sugar.

**starting to panic**

Must scan the garden of freshness in my pantry… Garden in my Pantry with DelMonte

Do you see what I see?  Del Monte® No Sugar Added Sliced Pears, and right at my fingertips! Pears & Blueberries, a bright winter time treat!

Top with a couple fresh blueberries and I have a delicious dessert that the kids like to eat and that I feel good about serving them. I don’t know about you, but I am feeling pretty darn good.

Not only did I dominate Truth or Dare, but I fed my kids nutritious and delicious food. That’s pretty much the best mom day ever!

And I want YOU to have the best mom (or dad!) day ever. I would love to give one of you a $100 Visa Gift Card!  To enter simply tell me: “What are your favorite fruits or veggies to stock in your pantry?”

 

Entry Instructions: You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post.
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
  5. No duplicate comments.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 1/6/2014-2/6/2014

Be sure to visit the Del Monte brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

I Am Baker

keep on clickin

Photography has been a bit of a conundrum for me.  I love love love to take pictures, but have never felt much confidence in it.

Hoarfrost in Minnesota #iambaker

 

I am enamored with the idea of capturing a moment in time.  With causing others to stop and appreciate something that they may or may not have noticed prior.  With finding beauty in the ordinary.

Hoarfrost in Minnesota #iambaker

 

Recently I created a new Media Kit, which is basically the equivalent of a bloggers resume.  I actually hired someone to do this, as resumes are not my strong suit.  One thing that I was tasked to do is define my occupation.

(Apparently “blogger” is not sufficient.)

Hoarfrost in Minnesota

 

And there, in black and white and looking as scary as ever, I had written ‘Photographer’.

The timid insecure girl in me wanted to immediately follow it up with, “…but not a good one, I just do it because I have to!”

Hoarfrost in Minnesota 2013

 

But I shouldn’t have.  Because even if my images are not as professional as they should be, or correct in composition, or are over sharpened, or are of the same leaf that has been photographed a million times before…

Hoarfrost in Minnesota 2013

 

…even if they are not beauty in someone else’s eyes, that is ok.

I have to say it again;  If others don’t like what I do, its ok.

 

Hoarfrost in Minnesota 2013

 

They are an extension of me.

Of my perspective in this world.

And my soul finds purpose in that very simple expression of self.

So for now, I will keep on clicking.

I Am Baker I Am Baker

it doesn’t get any better

Our family just got back from a vacation to Florida.  The focus of our vacation was visiting Walt Disney World.  We are BIG into Disney.  Obsessed even?  Yes,  completely.  It is the most magical place on earth!

One thing we have always done on our trips to Disney is stay ‘on property’. There are certain perks that come with staying in one of their resorts; like extra magic hours or fun pools or proximity to parks.  Less hassle if you will.

Or so we thought.

All Star Vacation Homes

 

Since we are now a family of seven, staying on property was just too expensive.  We would have to either get a suite or two separate rooms, which meant we were looking at $800-$2500 a night.  A NIGHT.  (and a logistical nightmare)  Even if we did look for the cheapest property that Disney had to offer, what that meant was very small rooms with very few amenities.  Basically a bed in a room with a bathroom four feet away.

Picture it.  Mom trying to sooth baby to sleep as a toddler bounces off the walls from all the sugar he ate in Disney and the rest of the kids are whining and crying all wanting to watch a different show on TV or being upset they have to wait for the bathroom or just generally sick of each others company.  All in a tiny hotel room.  For five days straight.

As anyone with children knows, that seems more like a nightmare than a dream vacation.

So my sister and her husband Kurt came up with this idea.  Lets rent a house near Disney.

Al Star Vacation Homes

 They did extensive research and settled upon the highly rated All Star Vacation Homes.  Then they focused of the rest of the details;  how many bedrooms, bathrooms, pool, kitchen size, etc.

All Star Vacation Homes

 

All in all it was my family (7), my sisters family (3), and my mom and dad (2).  Twelve people total.

Angie and Kurt ended up finding and reserving a home that exceeded all of our expectations.  I can’t wait to tell you how much this beautiful mansion cost us.  (Read on to find out!)

They found a beautiful home that had two master suites and an addition beautiful bedroom as well as two themed kids rooms.  Each family had their own space!

All Star Vacation Resorts

We had a fully furnished kitchen to meander into in the mornings.  I quite fondly remember being woken up by the familiar hum of the Keurig machine when my husband brewed himself a cup.  We could brew a cup of our favorite flavor, sit out by the pool and watch a glorious sunrise every single morning.

Sunrise from our All Star Vacation Home

And we could do all that while others slept in and enjoyed a few extra minutes of undisturbed sleep.  Try doing that in a cramped hotel room!

All Star Vacation Homes

The house also had an AWESOME kids suite with bunk beds and media center and the best Giant lego set.

All Star Vacation Homes

 

And a princess suite with a castle bed and the cutest chandelier ever.  The kid in me was just as excited by this room as my little girl was!

All Star Vacation Homes

 As if the adorable kids bedrooms weren’t enough, there was also a playground in our enclosed yard!

Right next to the pool!

All Star Vacation Homes

I mentioned above that we are a Disney family.  We LOVE Disney and every wonderful ride and experience it offers.  The whole reason we got the house was to be able to go to Disney!  But do you know what?  My kids favorite part of the vacation was this pool.

And honestly, I don’t typically relax at a public pool.  I am very concerned that my kids don’t splash others and am usually watching their every move making sure they are safe and courteous at all times.  With this being our very own pool, I actually sat back and let the kids be kids.  They screamed and splashed and jumped in and had SO MUCH FUN!  (It also helped that the pool was completely enclosed within a security gate and that there were pool alarms in every door with a backyard access.  VERY helpful with little kids!)

All Star Vacation Homes

 

And to top it all off, we were LESS than 10 minutes from Disney World!  It was a shorter drive from our house to the Animal Kingdom than when we actually stayed at Disney Beach Club!

All of these things truly made for a fabulous, fun filled vacation.  You are probably thinking that you could never afford this.  I know I thought that when we first looked at the images online.  But guess what?  This stunning luxury home was LESS than $400 a night.  After we divided that cost between three families, our share was less than $250 a night.  For a family of seven!!

I still can’t get my head around that.

Staying in a luxury home for our vacation is one of the best decisions we could have made.  I highly recommend them for anyone interested in a luxury Disney vacation!

Here is the link to the property we stayed it.  It looks exactly like it does in the pictures!

Be sure to check out this post.  I wrote it while in Florida (in our rental house!) and was completely inspired by the beauty around me.

We planned and booked our vacation all on our own.  (And when I say we I mean Angie and Kurt; they did all the hard work.) All opinions and recommendations are my own and I was not compensated to write this post.

I Am Baker

Let Earth Receive Her King!

I absolutely love our new home.  I love that we have a space we can grow into and that we can truly make our own.

Trying to figure out how I want to design things hasn’t been an easy task because I am not a good interior designer!  But I really enjoy the process.

And one of the newest challenges of late has been designing a fireplace mantle!

Christmas Mantle

I have got SO much respect for people who can put together a beautiful mantle.  I am not one of them!  Its hard working with scale and color and, well, design stuff.

So I opted for homey.  Personal.

Christmas Mantle

 

Fresh flowers in a red mason jar nestled in an inexpensive fake garland with multi-colored lights.

Christmas Mantle

A red and green “love” garland.  The kids and I made it last year.  We named every single person we could think of and said a prayer for them.  Then we put simple quotes like, “Jesus loves you!” and “God is Love!”.

If you look close you can see ‘Grandpa Dennis’ in there.  We still miss him so much!  I try so hard to help him stay fresh in the kids’ memories.

Christmas Mantle

 

Now don’t you dare laugh at my awesome chalk board skills!  As you can see we have a pretty tall space above the mantle and I had NO IDEA how to fill it.  I just happen to have these 4 foot high chalkboards so I decided to write something on it… something significant to us.  And celebrating the birth of our King is as significant as its gets!

Its going to be fun figuring out how to use this space in the future.  I have a feeling there will be a “mantle” pinterest board in my future… :)

 

I Am Baker

things i am thankful for

Something I have been trying very hard to do is be intentionally thankful and grateful for the blessings.  Here are a few of late.

The Kids Playing

cute kids congregating

Symmetrical Swinging

sensational smiling and symmetrical swinging (see?)

Spider Web

dads and husbands dutifully destroying arachnids

inga

intelligent indépendant infinitely

inga

incredible inga

Baby Olivia

 original olivia

(and all my babies!)

I am also thankful the beautiful setting in all of the images above.  It is a luxury rental home that we rented through All Star Vacation Homes.  I can’t wait to show you the inside… and tell you why its the best choice we even made!