Cherry Almond White Chocolate Biscotti {with King Arthur Flour}

If there’s anything Scandinavians like, it’s coffee.
And if there’s anything else they like, it’s any almond-flavored baked good. 
Really, any baked good in general, considering most traditional coffee parties have seven dessert options served. No need for seven different desserts, just give me seven of these biscotti!
I’m a good Swede at heart, and I take my coffee strong and black, sometimes with a bit of sugar. Or, in this case, a Cherry-Almond-White-Chocolate Biscotti with a lot of pearl sugar on top.
These are addictive. Oh yes, very, very addictive. One is not enough, so don’t even try to tell yourself it is. 
Nibble one of the broken bits for breakfast. Dunk one in your  mid-morning coffee. Have one for lunch-dessert. Take an early Fika (coffee time) break. Relax in the evening with a biscotti and a mug of hot tea and your favorite reality TV show (obviously, it’s Bachelor Monday!)
If anyone questions, just tell them it’s Swedish and Natalie told you to; I’m happy to be your excuse.
If you’re feeling generous, offer them a biscotti.
Cherry Almond White Chocolate Biscotti
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup white chocolate
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Beat butter and sugars together. Add the eggs, beating well. Stir in the almond extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Reserve one teaspoon of the dry mixture and sprinkle it over the cherries, chocolate chips, and almonds. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and then fold in the cherries, chips, and almonds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The dough will be sticky, but empty it onto the parchment and form it into a long rectangle (using plastic wrap to help form it without getting your hands sticky if necessary), about 16 inches x 4 inches. Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. When the baked loaf is cool, use a serrated knife to cut it into strips crosswise about 1″ wide. Then turn the pieces on their cut sides, and return to the oven for 8-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, microwave the remaining 1/4 cup white chocolate chips at 10-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Watch closely as white chocolate burns extra quickly, and you often need to stir it a bit to realize it is fully melted. Remove from microwave and stir in 2-3 drops of orange oil. Drizzle over cooled biscotti. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. 

New Nordic Flavors with King Arthur Flour

Have you heard of the food trend of “New Nordic”? Just like it sounds, it is a fusion of modern cooking tastes and techniques with traditional Scandinavian cuisine and flavors. The trend has taken root here in the Twin Cities, Minnesota; of course, a hub for Scandinavians. For some reason, though, until recently, the influence of Nordic culture was completely missing from the food. Enter The Bachelor Farmer, and FIKA at the American-Swedish Institute, along with a host of smaller purveyors of these inventive flavors.

{cardamom bun at FIKA from my day at the ASI}
I’m Scandinavian–mostly Swedish with a hint of Norwegian–so I love a lot of things about Scandinavian baking. I’m not the most keen on their reliance on fish in their savory cuisine, but anise, ginger, orange, cardamom, and almond? Swoon.
I have a few delicious recipes coming for you. You can see the rundown of ingredients here.
And obviously, knowing me, I had to create a cute Swedish-inspired outfit for baking up these goodies. Here are my finds:
Swedish Kitchen Outfit
Swedish potholders//white dress//Swedish apron//Merimekko-inspired dishcloths//Swedish clogs
{click image for product info}
So pull out your King Arthur Flour catalogue (I know you have one), call them up in Vermont and order some yummy ingredients, tie on that floral apron, slip into your Swedish clogs, and let’s bake
NEW NORDIC-Style this week!

Post One: New Nordic Ginger-Orange Chocolate Brownies

A Red Christmas Dress

{Such a twirly skirt!}
I love sunny Saturdays where I am happy from the moment I wake up, happily embracing the day before I’ve even had a sip of tea. Does my heart so much good. Sunshine doesn’t hurt one bit either!
Christmas is nearly here. Every year it fills me with wonder that the God of the heavens and earth saw fit to stoop on bended knee, to understand the human plight, to give us Jesus at Christmas time and all the year through. You see God didn’t want to play puppet-master with us, to throw us into despair on this lowly planet for his own entertainment. He created us with intent and love. He had purpose. And He didn’t leave us here alone. He sent His son so we can know that He does understand. He has walked these streets, seen these broken people here and He has touched them with His own hands.

He can touch us, too. 
If your heart is a little bit broken this Christmas, be it from divorce or death, be it from stress or illness, let the babe in the manger touch you.
 This is a season of being on our own bended knee, with our hearts, thoughts, and lives laid at the manger like gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And Jesus offers back life everlasting. Love eternal.
May you receive those gifts this Christmastime.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16, 17 

Last night, on the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, the real turning point in the seasons, my small family celebrated Christmas. My brother and sister-in-law are heading over to see her family this Christmas, so we celebrated early. 
There were presents and eggnog; Swedish meatballs and boiled potatoes; there was music and snuggling with the dog and a pretend Rockette performance by yours truly. 

My brother, sis-in-law and I presented a “Dramatic Reading” (more like a comedic reading) of our own version of “The Night Before Christmas.” We read the Christmas story, and my brother sang a song about Lutefisk. We are Scandinavian, after all 🙂

I made a Washi tape Christmas tree, because I’m that hipster/poor/live in an apartment.
What do you think of the chambray shirt under the dress? I wanted to wear my gray polka-dot tights and gray heels, but I couldn’t find the tights anywhere! So the black had to suffice. 
Happy Christmas Weekend, my friends. Travel safe, take heart, and enjoy!

Casual Day

Just a casual errand-running outfit today. I just love a day when you can bundle up in a bunch of layers, but you don’t need ALL the layers, you know? No hat, thick mittens, and down coat required. It is so much easier to run errands without needing all of those, which you desperately want to shed when you’re inside the warm store.

So for a run to the DMV, thrift store, coffee shop, grocery store, and the library, this outfit works so well. 
Handwarmers can be thrown in my purse, and the vest isn’t overwhelmingly warm. Add a Chai Tea Latte in hand and I’m perfectly cozy. 
And now I’m crazy-inspired, so I’m off to work on Christmas presents!

Swedish Sort of Day

It was a gorgeous day last week for a visit to an incredibly gorgeous place…the American-Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Last time I was there, years ago, it was simply (ha) the gorgeous mansion on Park Ave. that belonged to Swedish immigrants. This summer, they completed renovations that added an entirely new (modern) wing. Mom, Grandma, and I (sorry to the bro and sister-in-law for the salt in the wound here) ventured there on this gorgeous day.
This glass conservatory is just stunning. I adore it. 
And of course I wore my Swedish colors! 
Wondering how they still had so many pretty red roses in the courtyard…

The old meets the new. The mansion reflected in the new addition. 
 ASI just opened their Nordic Christmas exhibit, where each room of the mansion reflects the traditional decorations and stylings of a Nordic country at Christmas. I won’t bore you with the hundreds (literally) of photos I took, but let me just say: I’m crazy-inspired by my heritage, and I can’t wait to decorate in the traditional Nordic themes for Christmas this year.


Why yes, I did ride the mechanical dala horse. You know you would have too.
His name is Gustav. 
It costs a quarter. Totally worth it.
We had coffee in their new restaurant, Fika. Fika is the Swedish coffee break, filled with lots of coffee and LOTS of sweet things. We wanted to go at Fika time because we’ve gotten in the habit of breaking for Fika  at home.

Cardamom Cinnamon Roll with Swedish Pearl Sugar, anyone? 
When we were nearly finished, we ransacked the gift shop (no, just kidding. we didn’t do that; the bus tour group that was also there did that, ha!). But I did stock up on my favorite Swedish ribbons to use for my Nordic-themed Christmas, Swedish candy, and my favorite Swedish soap. And I looked ever-so-longingly at just about everything else, including the amazing array of Swedish baking and knitting books. Swoon. 
I’m so inspired! It is so much fun to be back in Minnesota with family and tradition everywhere I look.
Outfit~ Sunnies: local store, Necklace: Kohls, Blouse: Land’s End/thrifted, Sweater: American Eagle, Skirt: J. Crew, Tights: Missoni for Target, Boots: Forever21, Bangles: J.Crew and local store

Ugglebo Clogs for Autumn

What says Autumn more than….
Tights! Sweaters!
Mustard yellow!
Burgundy! Tights!
Hmmm…what else?


Vintage tote bags with a bird pattern?
Yes.
Am I missing something?
OH! YES! Clogs!
These beautiful handmade-in-Sweden clogs are beautiful heirloom pieces. The quality is outstanding. The leather is gorgeous and soft, the wood is solid, the construction is old-fashioned, handmade, generations-worthy, well-done work. They have been made the same way in the same little Swedish factory since 1965. I love the way these “rock” when I walk. See that pretty cut of the wood where it meets the sole? Gorgeous. Ugglebo means “Owls Nest” in Swedish, hence their adorable owl logo.
My one sadness when it comes to Ugglebo clogs is that they run extremely narrow. I had originally picked out these stunning babies: 
You can see the beautiful that eggplant color of  the “Berry” Lisbon clogs. I very dearly wanted to keep them but they were simply too narrow. I just had to send them back in favor of the Etnas you see above, and I sized up. Unfortunately, that means my Etnas are about 1/2 size too big to fit the width of my (pretty-average) foot. The super wonderful customer service representative assured me they were working hard to get their sizing appropriate so we can all wear all of their beautiful clogs. Until then, I figure I’ll be wearing socks inside them soon enough 🙂
Above image courtesy Ugglebo clogs
Friends, if you need some great-looking, comfortable, beautiful clogs for fall and winter, I highly recommend Ugglebo! I have several pairs of Swedish clogs, and these are incredibly beautiful and feel more “solid” that my others. Not only that, but the customer service is unparalleled (especially compared with a more well-known Swedish company based in Sweden with a rather distasteful slogan).
Thank you, Ugglebo!

Disclaimer: Ugglebo sent me these clogs free of charge for review, and the words, pictures & opinions are my own. The links are not affiliate links. Thanks, Ugglebo!

Late Summer

Back to sundress weather, with a sweater! I love this weather, and can’t get enough. 
In Minnesota, I call it “Shorts & Sweatshirt” weather.
I wish you could see the darling detail on this dress better. It has “apron” style pockets, and little bows on the shoulders. So fun and cheerful! It’s a garden-party of a dress.

I’m working hard on fitting in lots of wonderful summer adventures before fall arrives, and before I move.
That means ice cream after work, hanging laundry on the line, going to tag sales, picnics, going to the drive-in (gah I haven’t been this year! I MUST go!), hiking, etc.

And BAKING, of course! There are oodles and oodles of farmer’s market inspirations…have you guys discovered the late-summer raspberries that are amazing right now? I can’t get enough.

Have a great weekend, friends! 
Make the most of every moment…but don’t forget that relaxing counts, too!
xo!

Dreams & News

You know how sometimes God softly beckons your heart, and whispers to you a dream? God has given me a whisper-dream from the time I was a little tiny girl. A whisper-dream that I hope, with His grace, I can nurture into a reality that is bigger than anything I could imagine on my own, for His glory. I’m moving back “home” to Minnesota to be with family, where I will be working towards my lifelong dream of starting a bakery. 
I know it won’t be easy. To be honest, God usually calls us to difficult things, don’t you think? But the best part is, He gives us the grace to get where He wants us going. I sit here humbly, honestly, anticipating many nights of tears and frustration. Nights where my dream takes a totally different direction and I have to struggle with my vision versus God’s. Days of schlepping back and forth, days of burnout, days of aching wrists and back, sweat from painting, hammering, and creating. 
We pay a price to follow our dreams. But what if we look at it as payment in kind, perhaps, for an opportunity to be all-out for our dreams, to be stretching ourselves into fully blossoming…putting our pennies in the piggy bank so that, down the road, we can crack it open and find that we’ve invested in something much bigger than ourselves, and much more beautiful. I know this won’t come easily. I know that we’re talking years of sacrifice. I’m signing up for something that I’m sure I’ll question time and time again. But my heart and spirit tell me: now is the time. God has ordained me to spread my wings and fly, to His glory. The past few years have been a wonderful training ground of sorts. I feel incredibly blessed to have developed a strong support system, to have gained maturity and experience, and to have sat at the feet of people so well-versed in following their dreams. It will be difficult to leave this life I have here of people, places, and memories that I dearly love. I do not let go of these things lightly; no, indeed, I will always carry them with me. But there are so many people saying, “Go, Nats! Now is the time!” with affection and tears in their eyes. That makes me feel so utterly loved and empowered. 
So now, I will pack my Subaru with baking pans, vintage clothes, and so much love, and head back to my Swedish roots. 
“Sometimes right back where you started from is right where you belong.” ~Leigh Standley 
Indeed, and I cannot wait to begin “belonging” again in Minnesota.
I am so excited to set down roots and wait for them to “flour”–oh I couldn’t help but throw in one baking pun, you know me.
🙂 
And so it begins…

Remember that Day…

Remember that day I accidentally poured orange juice over my cereal instead of milk? 
Yeah, no, I don’t remember that either…
Remember that day I woke up and inadvertently dressed like the Swedish flag?
That day was today. 

Something Swedish has been on my mind for awhile…and my subconscious must be picking up on it…

Sending me into my closet for every gold & blue piece I own…

…even turning a dress into a skirt… 

and finding that my ring and fingernails complete the picture.
I may not be blonde, but I sure am Swedish!
{sometimes I act blonde and pour orange juice over my cereal instead of milk. so that counts, right?}

Weekend

Weekend Gear: Coffee, sunnies, hat, wrinkly sundress, flip flops! 
After Saturday morning tag sales, it rained non-stop. 
So instead of outdoor adventuring, I enjoyed a low-key weekend around the house. 

Manicure/pedicure essentials…

Pretty pink toesies! (and yellow fingernails)
Hanna Andersson clogs
Supplies for a fun paper project I’m working on. 
Baked some ginger-chocolate chunk scones. Mmm! Sent some over to a dear friend packaged like this. 
Now, it’s into the week!
Let’s begin it beautifully, yeah?
xo!