Sunday, February 24, 2013

happy 2nd birthday anders

happy birthday anders. i can't believe you are already 2 years old!
this sweet birthday boy is full of life and energy.
i love how he lights up when he sees us on skype and how he engages us in both danish and english.
what a cutie.

anders, i am so happy that you had a chance to meet and love farfar/olde.
hopefully one day you will be able to tell your cousins all about him.

love you and happy birthday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

diy thursday: cleaning stove burner drip pans

So if you haven't figured it out by now, I don't enjoy cleaning. I do like having a clean house though. So I always seek to find new easy ways to clean things while still getting great results.
Cleaning the stove burner drip pans was one of those dreaded tasks. In a perfect world, every time the drip pan gets dirty, I would clean it. Well, it isn't a perfect world.
I found a great blog post on how to clean your stove burners. I figured this would probably work for drip pans as well ... and it did. In fact, this trick was super easy and I don't dread the task anymore.

What you will need 
ziplock bags  


First, remove the drip pans from the stove. I clean the pans monthly - I must have been a messy cook in January:)

Pour 1/4 cup ammonia into a ziplock bag.

Place a drip pan in the bag and seal (ammonia smell is quite strong).

Repeat these steps for all of the drip pans you want to clean.

I usually then place the filled ziplock bags on a baking pan in case some should leak or something. And in case there is a leak, I prefer to leave them outside so the smell doesn't seep in our house.

I leave the drip pans in the bags overnight.

The next morning, the ziplock bags show condensation from the ammonia fumes. 

The fumes have now dissolved all the drippings.

All you have to do is take out the drip pans from the bag and wipe clean. The drippings come right off. No scrubbing needed!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

wordless wednesday


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

a visit from allison

This past weekend, Allison came to town. It was great to see her again. After her initial stint in Uganda in 2008/2009 she returned in 2011 and came back to the States at the end of last year. Since she is not returning to Phoenix to live:( it was great to have a chance to catch up in person and to hear more about her experience in Uganda and to process what might be next.
Welcome home sweet friend.

Monday, February 18, 2013

milling mondays: whole wheat apple cake tart

This time of year apples are less expensive. Last week, I even bought organic apples for 88 cents a pound. So I thought it would be a good time to feature my mom's whole wheat sweet and yummy apple cake tart recipe.
Whole Wheat Apple Cake Tart

150g butter
225g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
150g whole wheat flour (100g soft wheat berries and 50g hard wheat berries)
1 tsp baking powder
5 apples, peeled and cored (about 1 pound)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
25g almonds, blanched and finely chopped or sliced
9 Tbs apricot marmalade
2 Tbs water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

If you mill your own flour, mill the soft and hard wheat berries. I use the pastry setting on my WonderMill.  Since this is a dessert dough, sift the flour twice removing some of the bran in order to make it less dense.

In a bowl mix together the flour and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, blend together butter, sugar and vanilla extract. I use my KitchenAid on setting 2.
Next, add in one egg at a time while continuing to mix.

Finally, add the flour mixture to the batter and mix until the batter is completely blended together.
Pour the batter into a 9x13 greased cake pan (or line the pan with parchment paper).
In a  new bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
Cut the apples into slices.
Dip the apples in the sugar/cinnamon mixture to coat them.
Once the apples are coated, place them on top of the batter close together.
Spread the almond slices over the apples.
Bake the cake tart for 40-45 minutes.
While it is baking, it is time to make the topping.
Blend the apricot marmalade with the water in a pot and bring it to a boil.
Then pour the hot marmalade through a sift.
Once the cake tart is done baking spread the warm sifted marmalade over it.

Then put the cake tart back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

 Once the cake tart is done, let it cool on a rack and it is ready to eat.


Friday, February 15, 2013

an oldie but a goodie

this picture is from 1991. my cousins were visiting and we were enjoying some VERY big ice cream cones that were melting fast on a hot summer day in roskilde, denmark.
what a fun memory (thanks joern for the picture).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

happy valentine's day

happy valentine's day michael carlson.
thanks for being such an amazing husband.
i love you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

wordless wednesday

in loving memory of my farmor whose birthday would have been today and in prayer for my farfar who is very sick in the hospital

Monday, February 11, 2013

milling mondays: aristocrat cookies (aristokrater)

Aristocrat cookies (or as we call them in Denmark, Aristokrater) are a very common Danish cookie. These buttery almond cookies with a touch of lemon are yummy and crunchy and not too sweet.
Whole Wheat Aristocrat Cookies (Aristokrater)
150g butter, softened
100g canola oil
200g sugar
1 egg
graded lemon peel of one lemon
250g whole wheat flour (167g soft wheat berries and 83g hard wheat berries)
25g finely chopped almonds for topping
recipe yields about 50 cookies
Pre-heat oven to 395F.
If you mill your own flour, then mill your soft and hard wheat berries. I use the pastry setting on my WonderMill. Since this is a dessert dough, sift the flour once removing some of the bran in order to make it less dense.
Stir together butter, oil and sugar. I use my KitchenAid mixer.
Next, mix in the egg.
Finally, mix in the graded lemon peel and flour.
When the dough has come together you are ready to form the cookies.
On a greased cookie sheet (or a pastry mat) place a teaspoon of dough on the sheet. Using the teaspoon, flatten out the dough in a circular motion into a thin cookie (see below). And top each cookie with the finely chopped almonds.
Bake the cookies for about 6-8 minutes until the edges are golden. Since these cookies are very thin they will bake quickly, so check on them to make sure they don't burn.


Let them cool on a rack. As they cool they will become more crispy
 Enjoy! These crunchy yummy cookies are great for any occasion.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

the unexpected and difficult things in life

There are many things in life you just expect will happen. As you enter adulthood you just expect to get married, to have children, to stay healthy, to.... and the list goes on. At least you expect it for yourself.

The thing is ... we aren't promised those things. As much as we would like to think so, we aren't.

I was blessed to get married just before my 30th birthday to an amazing man. Again, later than I had expected.

When we decided to have children, we assumed that we would have them soon after making the decision. I mean, both sides of our lovely family are super fertile - we currently have 6 nieces and nephews with two more on the way... all from three siblings who are younger than me.
But the fact is, it has now been over two years of trying to get pregnant.
This has been an extremely difficult journey. It started as a secret journey. I wasn't ready for a very long time to talk about it openly and to share it with others. I am not sure why exactly. I just wasn't ready. It didn't feel safe to share.
People often have a tendency to want to make things better. They want to smooth over a difficult situation/topic. They want to fix it. I am not saying that I am above this. I am guilty of this as well. But one thing I have learned when it comes to sensitive issues (such as trying to get pregnant), it is best to just listen. You don't need to fix it. You can't.

So here is some advice, if someone shares that they are unable to have children, if you feel like you need to say something - say I am sorry to hear that. That must be difficult. AND STOP THERE. REFRAIN FROM SAYING ANYTHING ELSE. If you must say something else and if you believe the following words, you can say something like - I really pray/hope it happens, I believe you would make a great mother. Hearing that you know someone who waited five years and then got pregnant ... isn't helpful. Telling me that I need to change my diet ... isn't helpful (after trying for several years, believe me we have tried it). Telling me that if we adopt, we will probably have our own biological child soon after ... isn't helpful (And really? Did God tell you something you should tell me? Because I know plenty of people where that hasn't been the case). Well you get the point.
After two years, these comments don't hurt as much anymore. I have learned to just smile and move on. But I thought it might be helpful insight as I don't think I was aware of the hurt that could be inflicted by the small things we say in trying to fix a problem.
I am now much more vocal about our pregnancy struggle (hence making it even more public by writing this post). I figure that the more people who are praying for us the better. One of the most touching prayers I have heard about is from our almost two year old nephew Jonathan who prays uncle buck, auntie signe, baby, mamen. That just touches my heart.
It is still a roller coaster of course.  Some days are easier than others. But it has gotten easier in some ways. I remember early on when everyone who was married and of childbearing age at our church was pregnant or had just had a child during the same exact time we were supposed to be pregnant as well. Why were these people able to get pregnant when we weren't? Those were very dark months. Even though now that same question haunts me, I am able to still be sincerely happy for people who get pregnant (and please don't hesitate to tell us if you are - we want the chance to rejoice with you).
Getting pregnant and having a child is a miracle. One gift that I have been given if we are able to have our own children one day, is to understand much more intimately how much of a miracle it is. Not that I didn't know that before, but I feel like I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what an incredible miracle a child is.
I long for our own child. At the same time I am trusting. I am trusting in God's timing. He is all knowing. He knows more than we know. And there may be a reason we are not pregnant or may never get pregnant*. 
To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. The Utmost for His Highest

I feel like I can rest in that this year. God has given me peace (not to be confused with happiness) about the situation. This is a time to trust and to be open to what God's plans are for our lives even if they are unexpected and difficult.
*I hope that you don't read this post as a cry for help or advice but rather something that I chose to share with you about my life. We have some idea of why we aren't getting pregnant. We don't mind sharing with you in person if you want to know. And I know me being sick isn't helping the situation, but note I haven't been sick for two years...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

diy thursday: homemade air freshener

I haven't been buying air fresheners for awhile since I have been trying to steer away from chemicals including chemically induced smells. I figured it probably wasn't good to have those vapors around and I often didn't really like the imitation smell they produce.  In addition the cost kind of added up so I figured that would be a place we could save.
I have come to miss air fresheners certain places such as our closests. I just don't really like the smell of closet. I thought there must be a way to make my own air freshener on a budget and more natural. And there is!

What you will need:
Baking Soda
Essential Oil
Jar with lid


In order to make this project even more budget friendly, I reused some jars I already had. I have been saving our peanut butter glass jars because I thought I might need them for something some day. If you are interested in how I got the label off go here.  
Since I was making air fresheners for our closet I didn't really care how cute the jar lids were. You can of course decorate them to make them look as cute as you would like.
First, using a nail and a hammer, make holes in the lid.

Next, add baking soda to the jar. I put one cup of baking soda in my jar given its size. Baking soda is the main ingredient of this homemade natural airfreshner because it naturally absorbs odors.
Finally, add about 20 drops of your favorite smelling essential oil. I added lavender. Then carefully shake the jar a little.
That is it! Super easy and inexpensive.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

wordless wednesday

Monday, February 4, 2013

milling mondays: whole wheat lemon bars

There is something refreshing and sweet about lemon bars. They are just so tart and yummy. To make it even better, making them whole wheat doesn't change the taste, just the nutrition.
Yummy Whole Wheat Lemon Bars
2 cups + 3Tbs whole wheat flour (1/3 hard wheat berries and 2/3 soft wheat berries)
1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for topping
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp finely graded lemon peel
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
If you mill your own flour, mill 1 1/2 cup soft wheat berries and 1/2 cup hard wheat berries. I use the pastry setting on my WonderMill.  Since this is a dessert dough, sift the flour twice removing some of the bran in order to make it less dense.

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Cut in the butter. Using a pastry blender or fork, blend in the butter until it is completely mixed into the flour mixture giving it a crumbly consistency.

Pour the crumbly flour mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan (or use parchment paper -this makes it easier to remove it from the pan later on).
Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. 
Bake the crust for 18-20 minutes until the edges are golden.
While the crust is baking, it is time to make the filling.
In a mixing bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, 3 Tbs flour, lemon peel, lemon juice and half-and-half. 
Once the crust is done baking, pour the filling over the hot crust. 
Bake the crust and filling for 15-20 minutes until the center is set.
Finally let it cool on a rack.
Once it is cool, sift powdered sugar on top and cut them into bars.


Friday, February 1, 2013

fun outside

 fun with the nephews and niece in stanwood