Happy Birthday, Cooking for My Kids!!


Today is a special day.

And, as is the case with all special days, we celebrated.

One year ago today, I started this blog.  I honestly did not have a single clue what I was doing, and I never thought that it would be read by anyone other than family and friends.  I just wanted a place to write down our recipes, our story, our family journey.  I wanted a place to store the memories.

We were starting the gluten/dairy/peanut free journey with Ethan, and I had feelings of fear and hesitation until Sean told me one day, “Natalie, this might be your best moment.  It might be what you were called to do.” This is an excerpt from my first blog post.

I sit here wondering where to begin.  How do I describe our story, our family, in a single blog entry?  I can’t.  I remember playing Life as a kid, wanting the husband, the house, and the kids.  It always felt so good in the game…but not half as good as the reality.  Being a mom is not what makes me special; being the mom to my kids is what makes me special.  I have hesitated to start a blog for fear of failure, fear of not living up to expectations, and fear of not always knowing the rules.  I so want to describe everything in such a way that everyone will know how beautiful this journey has been/is for me, for us.  But, then I realized, this is life.  This is our life.  And, there are no rules in the real game of life.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every moment of sharing our story, testing out recipes, trying recipes that other bloggers have already created and tested, and virtually meeting some amazingly sweet people along the way.


Thank you for an incredible year.  Thank you for being here for us when Ethan had his ulcers, when we finally received his childhood apraxia of speech diagnosis, when we celebrated the big things and the small things, and when we just shared our family moments.

I have said several times that I wish I had started this little blog many, many years ago.  But, I didn’t.  I started it a year ago for a very special reason.  I needed a blank canvas to share. I needed to let go of the fear of failure and take a leap of faith.  I needed to share our journey because I wanted other people to experience the magic, the unicorns, and the rainbows.

Every good celebration needs a fantastic dessert.  A quick glance at my options, landed me over at Picky Palate.  I knew that her Bakery Style Cookies would be just what we needed to celebrate a special day.  Celebrate our day, celebrate the weekend, celebrate summer, celebrate Friday….just find a reason to celebrate.  And, if you need cookies to make the celebration just perfect, click here for the fantastic recipe.


Happy Birthday, Cooking for My Kids!  You have been such a fun 4th baby!

Happy Birthday, Summer!

Five years ago today, she completed our family.


She was a ray of sunshine from the moment she entered this world.


Her energy, zest, and love of life is infectious


She is our Summer Lovin’, and, for that, I am immensely thankful.


I love how she likes to dress just like me right now.  If I am wearing a dress, she wants a dress.  If I am painting my nails, she wants hers done, too.  If I am putting a clip in my hair, she is looking for one for hers.  I know that she will not always want to be just like me, but, for now, I am embracing it and soaking up every single minute of it.  And, you better believe that I am holding on to the memories, hoping that a glimpse of this life, however faint, will continue through the years.


She is our dreamer, and when she hears “Daydream Believer”, she belts out the words, knowing that she might not be the homecoming queen, but she is certainly the daydream believer.



I love how she sings along to every song….and has her papa’s memory for picking up on a tune as soon as she hears a few words.  Our current favorite is “We Are Young”.  While the song is beyond her years, she only cares about the chorus.  She also loves to sing “Firework” and can hold her own when we have nighttime performances.


As I sit her on the eve of her birthday remembering how they painted my belly five years ago this afternoon, how we went to Chuy’s five years ago tonight, and how I watched TV five years ago in the early morning hours, I cannot help but smile.  Yes, there have been some tears today because that is who I am.  I cry before the moment, wipe them away, and then celebrate.  As a momma, birthdays are as much about me as they are about my littles.  And, I love every single second of the celebrations, the memories, the moments.


She completed our family.  She was our surprise baby.  Not because we did not plan for her.  We did.  But, because we chose not to find out if the baby growing inside of me was a boy or a girl.  We knew that we needed something big to finish off the pregnancy part of our life.  We needed something hugely climactic.  And, we got just that.  I still remember being in a position where I could see that it was definitely a girl but waiting for my sweet husband to say the words before I really believed it.  No, we did not need a girl to complete our family.  But, she did.  And, she did in such a magical way that the unicorns, rainbows, angels, and fairies all showed up to celebrate with us.  It was a day I will never, ever forget.


Happy Birthday, Sweet Summer Lovin’.  I honestly cannot put into adequate words what all you mean to me, to us.  To say that you completed our family just about sums it up.  You are a ray of sunshine, and I love you for that…and for so many other reasons.  I love how you look up to your brothers but how you try to lead them around, at the same time.  I love watching how you have slowly but surely wrapped your papa around your little finger.  I love how you just want to kiss me and tell me you love me in the middle of the night…which is why I have not put a stop to it yet.  I love how you talk on the phone and make sure that the person on the other end is feeling the exact same emotions as you.  I love how you sing and dance and dream.  I love you, my sweet angel girl.  Happy, happy 5th birthday!


Happiness Is…Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie


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Happiness is birthday celebrations.  One last night, one this Sunday, and another one next Sunday.


Happiness is flowers. My girl loves picking them, and we both love buying fresh ones from the store.


Happiness is memories…especially ones associated with food, family, and fun.


Happiness is healthy children.  After a week of one after the other getting sick, everyone was healthy this week.


Happiness is having so many people on Team Ethan who truly believe in him.


Happiness is a weekend of working in the yard, soccer, birthday parties, and family in town.

Happiness is this delicious Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie. I am not sure where the recipe originated because we have been making a version of it since I was a child.  We typically used canned pie filling, but I forgot to buy it at the store.  So, I made my own strawberry filling this time.  And, it turned out just as great.  One bite of this pie is pure happiness, especially when the pie is the dessert to celebrate a special birthday.

Mini Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Mini Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie


Cream Cheese Filling

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 package cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Strawberry Glaze

1/2 cup strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water


Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cookies


    Preparing the Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Add the cream cheese and condensed milk to the mixer. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour in the vanilla.
  3. Slowly mix in the lemon juice.
  4. Continue to mix until smooth and combined.
  5. Strawberry Glaze
  6. Add the strawberries, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a saucepan.
  7. Cook over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to medium low.
  9. Mix together the cornstarch and water.
  10. Slowly add to the strawberry mixture, stirring quickly as it thickens.
  11. Immediately remove from heat.
  12. Refrigerate.
  13. Putting It All Together
  14. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.
  15. Place a cookie on the bottom of the liner.
  16. Add a scoop of the cream cheese filling.
  17. Repeat with all 12 liners.
  18. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  19. Before serving, add the strawberry glaze to the top.

Have a happy weekend!

 I shared this recipe at Dwell on Joy, Whipperberry, Rattlebridge Farm, 30 Days, Ladybird Ln., Crazy for Crust, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Jennifer Cooks, Alli ‘n Sons, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, It’s a Keeper, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Domesblissity, Tidy Mom, A Little Nosh and Mom Trends.