Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three Little Cupcakes

Tomorrow is cousin Malena's first birthday party! She turns one in the 4th but we'll be celebrating in a park Sunday afternoon. For the party, Ella & I made cupcakes (E provided the moral support...and entertainment). This is a little peek at what we've been working on. I'll post more pictures and recipes after the party. I don't want to give away too much before the celebration!

Happy birthday, Malena! We love you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zebra Lovin'

This is especially for you, Auntie Kristin. Ella loves her zebra!
(don't mind my random comments)

Monday, July 26, 2010


Ella moves a whole lot faster than she did a few weeks ago. I need to let this settle in my head so that I stop doing silly things. For example, don't leave a cup of water anywhere within reach. Don't set a basket of freshly folded laundry in the middle of the living room floor. And definitely do not leave the refrigerator open even for a moment without supervision!

Sunday afternoon I made that mistake. I opened the fridge, turned around to grab something off the counter, and when I turned around again, what did I see? A little girl stealing a cupcake off the second shelf and smearing frosting across her lips. How is a mama supposed to react? Probably not by grabbing the camera, but that's exactly what this mama did. Really, it was so that I could let Pete see what his little girl had done (he was on call at the hospital) but I thought you might smile while watching it as well.

So here's to sugary frosting, making a grand mess in the kitchen, and loving little moments.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sweet Peas

I could tell you that I tried not to buy these flowers at the farmers market this morning, but I would be flat out lying. I'm not an impulsive shopper, but the moment I saw them I knew I had to have them. (Is it really an impulse buy if the item only costs $1.50?)

I adore sweet peas. I like to think they are a part of my history. It began when I first moved away to college and my boss at the radio station gave me a set of sweet pea scented gifts from Bath & Body Works. That was 10 years ago and it's still the only bath scent I use. Maybe that seems cheesy, but you know how something just sort of becomes a part of you? Especially a scent. When you smell it a flood of memories comes rushing in. College, theatre, Honduras, and the first few months when Pete and I were dating. The first time I actually saw sweet peas (besides the picture on the front of the fragrance bottle) was my first week of student teaching. Pete special ordered a bouquet for me. They were beautiful, purple blossoms that brightened the room in the middle of winter. And now I often call Ella "Sweet Pea." So, you see, I do think sweet peas are a part of my history.

And they smell amazing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recipe: Double-Chocolate Brownie Cookies

This is one of my absolute fave cookie recipes. It came from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, a collection of delicious and beautiful recipes. (Click here to find the book on Amazon.) The reason I am such a fan of this recipe is that it's way easy. The cookies come out the same every single time, are super tasty right out of the fridge, and freeze really well. Who doesn't want to be able to just pull cookies out of the freezer when company is on the way? They're also amazing with ice cream (but what cookie isn't?) and make great gifts.

9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375. In a heatproof bowl or large mug with a handle, melt 5 ounces of the semisweet chips, the unsweetened chocolate, and the butter in the microwave. Melt it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval. Once the mixture has melted, set it aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

While the chocolate is cooling, prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or silicone baking pads.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can use a hand mixer if you don't have an electric one), beat the chocolate mixture and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice during that time.

Add eggs one at a time and mix until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour and salt, and beat just until incorporated. (Be careful! The flour will fly everywhere if you go too fast or don't cover the bowl.) Stir in the remaining 4 ounces of semisweet chips.

Shape 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time into balls and place them about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool for a minute or two on the sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies should be kept in an air-tight container no matter where you decide to store them (counter, fridge, or freezer). This recipe makes about 30 cookies.

Side note: After trying multiple cookie scoops, I now use the OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop. It makes the perfect size cookies, rarely sticks, and is very sturdy. (Find it here on Amazon.) Having uniform cookies every time makes baking look much more professional, especially when giving them as gifts.

You can see I had a little helper in the kitchen this morning. She loves playing with her teapot.

Let me know if you have any questions and ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wilbur's Reading

This afternoon I found Ella digging through Pete's bag and pulling out random books, pens, and papers. We worked together to clean up and return all of Daddy's things to the appropriate places, but I guess we left something out. A couple hours later, I discovered Ella's bear, Wilbur, with this book on his lap. Do you think Ella was giving her first medical lesson? Or maybe she's taking after Mama and teaching Wilbur to read.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Grandma's Marathon

I keep telling myself that I'll get around to posting pics from Grandma's marathon, but now that nearly an entire month has gone by since the big race, I think it's as good a time as any.

When I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon after the baby was born. Not just any marathon. I wanted to run Grandma's Marathon, a nationally recognized running event held every June in Duluth. I've done the half (13.1 miles) twice before but had never attempted the full (26.2 miles). I registered in August of last summer so I couldn't back out and started training in January. I enjoy running, but it's never been a huge part of my routine. I didn't start running at all until a few years ago. In training for a full, though, it had to become a part of my regular workouts. I've been doing P90X (an extreme at-home workout & nutrition program) for over three years, which gave me a great base for running. I read a couple books, chose a training plan, bought the right equipment, and started putting on miles.

I am happy to say that on Saturday, June 19 I completed my goal of running my first marathon, and I did it in under 5 hours (another goal). My parents, sister, niece, and dear friend Shauna were all on the sidelines cheering alongside my two favorite fans - Pete & Ella. What a day!

My brother Jake & I rode the shuttle to Two Harbors for the start of the race. This was the third time he's run the full marathon during Grandma's weekend, and he got his best time! He finished in 3:51. Nice work, Jake!

Pete, Ella & Shauna cheered for runners while waiting for me to pass. Ella even wore my jacket.

Ella took a nap.

And played.

After I ran by them, they hurried down to the finish. Here is a pic of Pete handing Ella to me as I came down the last stretch.

Ella & I finished together!

26.2 miles!

Thanks to decent training, great support from Pete, my fam, and friends, and with the help of Sally (my new friend I met at mile 2 and ran with through the next 24 miles) my marathon experience was amazing. I actually think I might do another!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ice Cream

Last night we took Ella to The PortLand Malt Shoppe for her very first taste of ice cream. We decided that she should have her own little cone for the occasion and bought her a scoop of New York cherry. We sat on a picnic table and I held the cone out for her to taste. As soon as she took that first bite, she didn't want to have anything to do with me. She insisted on holding the cone herself and took bite after bite. Should I have expected anything else? I mean, what was it that I made a staple of my diet during the last two weeks before she was born? Ice cream! It's probably an innate comfort food for her. She did get a little fussy at the end of our trip, but that was only because it was past her bedtime (which you can see in the video). All in all, we had a blast watching Ella experience her first ice cream cone!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Doesn't Ella look big in this picture? I think it was more the camera angle than her actual size. I like her expression, though!

It's just not summer without a watermelon. This is one we bought for a bbq at our place. Mmm.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daddy's Tie

Today when Pete got home from the clinic, Ella and I went to greet him and give him his welcome home kisses. When it was Ella's turn, she reached out, grabbed his tie, pulled him close, and planted a big kiss right on his lip. This is exactly how a little girl wins her daddy's heart.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three Years - And Counting

Today marks three years since the day I walked down the isle and joined hands with my Love. It has been a phenomenal, adventurous journey. Life has changed in more ways that I could possibly have imagined, and I do believe that every change has been for the better. Could I ever have designed someone who would be a more perfect fit for me in every way? No chance. It's obvious to me nearly every, single day that God matched us for one another. Only three years in? We've got a lot more coming. I can't wait.

I love you, My Pete.

photos taken on our honeymoon in Jamaica - July 2007

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One Year Photo Shoot

Here they are! We had photos taken two weeks ago, just two days before Ella's birthday, at Lief Ericson park. The weather was gorgeous and Ella had a new dress for the occasion. A few of the photos have been posted on the photographer's blog. Simply click here to see them!

An enormous thank you goes to Sara Montour, photographer extraordinaire, for the beautiful images. Sara and I go all the way back to our high school days in Pequot Lakes where we participated in all kinds of crazy shenanigans on the weekends. We both ended up going to UMD, but hadn't seen each other for somewhere around five years before the shoot. She has been living and doing photography in Washington state and was back touring through Minnesota, seeing friends, and taking photos. We're glad we got to work with her on these photos that so perfectly capture our little girl. More of her creative work can be seen on her website at

Sunday, July 4, 2010

First Trip to the Zoo

On a recent Sunday morning when we were still living in Minneapolis, we seized the opportunity of a beautiful morning and took Ella on her first trip to the zoo. There was no questioning which zoo we would visit since I have millions of memories from Como Zoo. My family used to visit Como during the summer and have picnics in the grass right outside the gates. I remember watching Sparky the Seal shows, showing little Jakey (who is now 23) his favorite - penguins, laughing at the polar bear swim around and around in his far-too-small pool (which they have finally renovated), and watching the majestic lions as they slept in the shade. Taking Ella to Como Zoo was like stepping back in time for me.

So, off we went to catch the zoo shuttle on a Sunday morning. (We decided it would be okay to worship that morning by thanking God for all his incredible animals. And they are pretty cool!) Here is a picture of our shuttle ride to the zoo gate. The outside was painted like a zebra.

It was pretty adorable to see Ella in a seat belt. Not her usual style.

The seals! I think here she was actually looking at the animals, but for the most part she was much more amused by all the kids that were there. She's a people person!

Sparky! I remember watching Sparky shows with my sister, Becky, when we were little. And eating bomb pops, those fun red, white & blue popsicles. Oh, good memories.

These were fun exhibits since Ella was able to get a little closer to the animals. Her first glimpse of a zebra.

It was a perfect day to visit the zoo. We ended up being really glad that we went right away in the morning because by the time we left at 1pm, the zoo was completely packed. Instead of fighting crowds, we all went home and took lovely naps. Ahhh.

Today we're heading to Central Minnesota to celebrate the holiday with my mom's family. Pete will be working all weekend, including having his first on-call shift as a resident.

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


On Friday, June 25 our little Ella celebrated her first birthday. It was a big day! We spent part of it getting ready for her party and another part of the day with Grandpa & Grandma Scott and Grandpa & Grandma Olsen. Great-Grandma Scott and Auntie Kristin joined us as well. We had sloppy joes and potato salad before more friends joined us for the big celebration at 6:30. I love to make desserts and wanted to come up with a way to make as many of them for the party as possible. Therefore, we had the party after dinner and only served cakes, cookies, and ice cream. Mmm!

Here Grandpa Olsen is helping Ella with her new stroller. It's one of her very favorite things now. She pushes her dolls around and around the living room and would rather not let go of it even when we pick her up and carry her to another room.

Miss Ella's birthday cake. I made a triple layer, white cake with pink vanilla frosting. I have three little cake pans I was able to use for it. I had no idea how I was going to decorate it until I started with the white icing and - voila! - this is what was created!

Ella wasn't sure what to think of the cake. We sang, Daddy helped her blow out the candle and...

...she cried! Ella reached for the candle right after it was blown out, got a little too close to the wick, and got scared. Poor thing. Look at that face!

A little frosting served as an excellent distraction. She delicately pinched the white frosting off the top of the cake. Eventually Pete "helped" her by showing how to properly eat a birthday cake. In the end, she ended up with frosting on her face, her arms, and in her hair.

Below are the other desserts at the party. Raspberry-filled cupcakes, blackberry cheesecake, my grandma's pretzel-strawberry dessert, chocolate-strawberry cake and Grandma Olsen's caramel brownies. Yum!

Cousin Malena had great time at the party! She'll be one in just four weeks. Ella seemed to love having her at the party until Malena tried to play with the new stroller. That's where Ella drew the line. She's quite fond of her new toy!

Happy birthday, Miss Ella!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Bliss. I am sitting on the couch in the unpacked living room, blogging from the house for the first time. Mind you, this is not what makes it such bliss. Ella is in bed, I have a glass of grape, fake Crystal Light (the kind the comes from Target), I'm eating tortilla chips with chunky salsa, all while watching "Julie & Julia." The movie selection is entirely appropriate. If you've seen it, you'll understand. If not, let me just say that Julie writes a blog throughout the entire movie. See? Perfect. I'm writing a blog, too.

This is Pete's first night of residency. For the last two weeks he's been in orientation, which hasn't included anything in the evenings. This month he will be in the emergency department at St. Mary's on top of his time in the clinic. We've been getting ready for this time for the last couple months. It's hard to imagine how our lives will change through the next month as we get into the groove of intern year. This is going to be a big adjustment!

Tonight I'm going to upload pictures and do more writing so that we'll be good to go over the next few days and I can get somewhat caught up on all the fun stuff we've done over the last month. Plenty of pictures to come!


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