Friday, May 30, 2014

Mixing & Chopping

Photo courtesy of
I would imagine you have a room, activity or place that is your go-to when you need to unwind or decompress. For me, it is the kitchen. Cooking is like therapy for me. I am able to be creative, try new things, and provide for my family. I can work out frustrations, think things through, or maybe even disconnect and zone out a bit while mixing, kneading, chopping, and mixing. I also love being in there with any one of my three guys. And I love trying out new tools and gadgets, too.

This is my new best friend in the kitchen. I love this versatile - and rather inexpensive - gadget. We bought it last week, and so far I've had quite a few success. I created some restaurant-style salsa, made creamy black bean dip, whipped up eggs for omelettes, and chopped veggies for my tuna salad (in about a quarter of the usual time!). But my favorite thing to make? Peanut butter. Yum! It is so much better than the stuff we can buy here, and cheaper & healthier, too. We are also looking forward to trying our hand at smoothies soon!

Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget or tool?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

We love coffee. We enjoy trying different roasts and checking out different ways of preparing. Zack loves all the gadgets and experimenting with various brewing methods.

A cute wall quote we picked up
at a local shop this week
('Life is too short for bad coffee')
We live in what I consider a coffee culture. Coffee is good here. Like, really good. It's strong. Flavorful. And in abundance. Coffee and conversation: it's a big part of our lives here. Coffee is something we like to enjoy together, and something we share with others often.

So when our anniversary was approaching, we decided we'd really like to buy a new coffee machine (aka coffee maker, kaffetrakter) as our gift to each other. For the past 14 months we've been using the one that was left in our apartment. It was probably the cheapest model on the market and most of the time the coffee tasted scorched. We often use our french press, espresso pot, pour over, or aeropress when we have extra time and just want a cup or two. But we really like to have a machine for the mornings, so we can make a full pot.

We started doing some research and discovered MoccaMaster. They are handmade in the Netherlands and are reported to be the best. However, while they are super nice, the price wasn't exactly in our budget. But thanks to an unexpected gift card from our power company, we were able to get the machine we really wanted for a REALLY good price!

I didn't think it would make that big of a difference, but this machine rocks. A complete brew in six minutes, two heat settings for the burner so the coffee in the pot doesn't get too hot, and the water is kept at optimal temperature throughout the brewing process. I love our new toy, and look forward to many happy years with it!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weekend fun & preteen celebrations

As I shared on Saturday (HERE), our William turned 12 years old. It really is hard to believe!

We had a fun weekend celebrating him, and enjoying some fantastic weather. It was around 23 - 25 C (73 - 77 Fahrenheit) most of the weekend, with lots of sunshine. So most of the weekend, you could find us outdoors!

Friday afternoon we picked up a friend at the airport who was visiting us for the weekend from England. We then met up with friends to grill at the beach. It had rained in the afternoon, so the evening was a little cooler. But the boys and one of their local friends decided to go for a swim. Everyone is estimating that the water was around 10-12 C. The only word I can come up with is crazy.

Saturday we went for a hike, then came back to the house for lunch and William opened gifts. 
(He received his gift from us several weeks ago: a much-needed new bike)

After that, we headed to William's football club for the grand opening of their new artificial turf fields, and to celebrate the club's 40th birthday. Daniel was excited to meet some of Sandefjord's players!
Saturday night, William chose to eat at his favorite place: Star Grill. It is a small kiosk in our town that serves excellent burgers.
Then the boys were off to the small tivoli downtown (carnival). They enjoyed three of the four 'big' rides. They both looked a little green afterwards!

We finished up with William's requested dessert: yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and of course, 12 candles.

Sunday was spent with more friends. We started off with brunch at our house. We introduced some of our friends to a true southern breakfast: biscuits and gravy, bacon, grits, breakfast potatoes, and grits. Then after a nice long walk, we finished it off with dinner at a friends house, and even got to meet a new family that has two boys almost the exact same ages as our boys!

I think it turned out to be a great weekend for our entire family.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Relaxing on the Sea

We were grateful to our friends for inviting us out on their boat last Sunday. It had been a long time (1 1/2 years?) since our last boat trip, and we had a great time!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

One year away from a teen: Happy birthday William!

He is growing up so fast. The boy loves his family. He enjoys football (soccer), biking, reading, going to school, posting (too many?) photos on Instagram, and being outdoors. He is patient, kind, sarcastic (like his dad and mom), pensive at times, and a natural-born leader. I enjoy watching the way he looks out for his younger brother, and the way he also doesn't put up with his antics too much. I look forward to seeing God's plans for him as they begin to unfold.

Happy 12th birthday, William!