"The Danish Way Of Parenting" – Book Review

April 1, 2016

CKT Book Review: The Danish Way of Parenting

What have you been reading lately? I have recently loved Delancey, Carry On, Warrior, Why Not Me, and The Danish Way of Parenting. I tried to get into The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but she lost me on, ‘you’ll never have to tidy again.’ How?? I have children…laundry…mail that arrives everyday. If you’ve read her book and this is true…do tell!
Side note, by recently (re: reading all these books), I mean the past couple years…just so we are clear! I’ve been too busy having all these babies.

I remember when I first became a mom, I could not handle reading parenting books. I did not want to spend my free time reading something that felt so structured (about how I was supposed to do things). So I gave up on reading parenty things.

Until recently… I have become (perhaps a little obsessed) with the whole play-based focus to early childhood education and free time for kids. And then after my cousin, Monica’s post on the Danish term, hygge. I was totally drawn in to what these Danes do to be so happy all of the time, especially in their parenting style.

I read this book, and LOVED it. Everything just made sense and totally resonated with me. I love the realness of this book. They use the acronym, PARENT to describe the pillars of their concept. Here, I’ll paraphrase the acronym and my favorite ideas from the book:

More free play for kids equates to more resilient adults.
Let kids test their boundaries, this is how they learn independence
and how to manage difficult situations.
(Let those kiddos go play, get scraped up, and do their thing.)

Be real, be thoughtful, be honest (don’t sugarcoat life), be vulnerable. Kids learn how to be in touch with their real emotions when we help guide them through the shared experiences we have together. A growth mindset over a fixed mindset is very important (i.e., Saying ‘wow, you worked so hard on this, great job!’ Rather than ‘you are so smart.’) This helps kids to learn that they are always capable instead of I’m smart or I’m not smart.
(To quote Emily Henderson, “Perfection is boring…”)

We can all benefit from reframing. In simple terms, it’s about continually helping them see things through a different lens. (Bad weather or bad clothing?!!)

This is so useful in all relationships. People feel heard and comforted when people listen and understand them. Don’t discount your kid’s feelings. (I love the quote from the top picture!)

Create trust and talk to your kids in the same way you would talk to your partner or other adults. Ultimatums create power struggles. When you don’t use them, you can explain what you need and create meaningful solutions. (This one is tough!)

Creating a social network and creating coziness (hygge) is a gift…for all of us. Also I love that they talk about singing and its proven power to lower stress and increase feelings of trust and bonding. (I have in the bag! I totally, sing to my kids all. the. time. (winky face))

What do you think…will you read this book?
Image from The Danish Way of Parenting’s Instagram feed. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook for great quotes, messages, and articles.


Dessert Week – Chocolate Birthday Cake

March 27, 2016

CKT: Birthday Cake! This is the cake I make for every special occasion. It has been decorated every way imaginable (this particular cake was George’s first birthday cake). And it is so easy.

The cake is both rich and light, and although I hate this word…it’s also so moist (cringe!!). But the frosting…this might be the key to what makes this cake so good.  It is my blend of a buttercream and a cream cheese frosting. So it’s also light and rich. The two play off each other so well. And this cake has definitely pleased a crowd or two.

adapted from Martha Stewart

butter, softened, for the pans
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3/4 cup warm water
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment (also butter the parchment). Sift the cocoa into a bowl, then add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat until just combined (low speed). Raise the speed to medium, and add the eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat for approximately 3 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes then flip the pans over hit the top and remove the cakes from the pans. Turn them back over face-up and let cool on a wire cooling rack.


1 pound salted butter – room temp
8 oz of cream cheese – room temp
4 + cups (1 pound) of powdered sugar – sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese; cream together until light and fluffy. Then add the vanilla; and finally the sugar one cup at a time.

To frost the cake, place one of the cakes on your cake tray. Place a large dollop of frosting on the center of the cake and use a off-set spatula to push the frosting out and around making a smooth layer. Then add the next cake on top and do the same, this time adding so much frosting so it can be pushed off the sides to fully frost the sides. Use a wet paper towel to clean the cake tray and now you can decorate your cake! I love to use figurines and herbs (those are sage leaves!).


Dessert Week – Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats

CKT Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats We recently went to the restaurant Stella Barra with the kids. Which we LOVED! When it was time to leave, we all walked past the dessert bar and immediately stared like 5 children–in complete unison. We left with a couple cookies and one very large rice crispy treat. And it wasn’t just any rice crispy treat, but a brown butter rice crispy treat. I am officially obsessed with brown butter, so the dessert was definitely my jam. Brown butter makes everything a little nuttier, a littler more rich (with caramel flavor), and just overall more delicious! **This is also the perfect dessert to make with kids (less mess, more fun).


1/2 a stick to 1 stick (4 – 8 oz) of salted butter depending on if you like your treats crunchier or chewier, I’ve done it both ways
1 10-ounce bag of marshmallows
1/2 of a 12 oz box of Rice Krispies Cereal

Use an 8×8 baking pan, line with parchment or wax paper. To brown the butter, place the butter in a large pan and let melt until it foams and then becomes golden brown (and smells nutty)–keep a close eye, you do not want to burn the butter. Stir frequently. Take the pan off of the burner.

Add the marshmallows. Stir until melted. Turn the heat back on if needed.

Add the cereal (if the pan is not big enough combine in a large mixing bowl). Quickly spread into the prepared pan. Firmly press the mixture

Let cool, pop out of the tray, and cut into squares whatever size you see fit!


Kindergarten is Hard

March 14, 2016

CKT: Kindergarten is Hard

I’m here to tell you that kindergarten is hard.

For us, (and I am mostly talking about me,) the start of kindergarten was rough. We had breezed through preschool and felt such confidence with school. Kindergarten started and there was homework (every night??), organized sports, and a little person who is a lot more independent than when they were in their sweet little preschool program.

All of a sudden, I found myself at the new parent meeting, the PTA meeting, the school social–and that was just the first week. Nora had all new classmates, was experiencing her first round of standardized tests and was just overall a little unsettled. I definitely was. We were trying to keep up and I couldn’t help but think, this is just kindergarten, right?!

Getting dressed for school was an hour affair. This little one abides by the Punky Brewster school of fashion. And forget about it, if I suggest the cute preppy stripped shirt. Timing is let’s just say…tricky.

Everything about the way kids learn has changed. During a new school meeting the teacher causally mentioned ten-frames and Fry words. And I am sitting there, like, what the heck is a Fry word?? Pretty sure I’m not phonemically aware.

Let’s talk about homework. How do you motivate someone who is tired from school to do more? Could we hire a tutor to do this?? I really wasn’t liking it either.

I volunteered at the Halloween party and (perhaps) didn’t read the emails as closely as I should have since I was just in charge of the snack. Which for the record was donut holes via the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through and juice boxes. I ended up having a station (i.e. kids for 10 minutes at a time)…and was sitting there bartender-style with a bunch of kids staring at me. We decided to play “would you rather” and called it a day.

All I kept thinking is once school started was, can’t we just play, snuggle, and read books together (and repeat)?


We now have over half of the year under our belt and we are finding our way. Turns out ten frames are awesome; maybe math might have made sense had I grown up in this day in age (maaaybe). Nora is learning to read (pretty magical!). And Brian has now coached soccer and basketball and the two of them get to spend lots of time together while Nora tries new things. The confidence is slowly creeping back.

Growing pains are rough, but we are finding the balance. Patience is my mantra.

**Image via LIFE magazine


Family Photos

March 13, 2016

I have been holding on to these pics for way too long. But alas, I wanted to share them with you! Thanks to our very talented photographer, my friend, Mychela Burke Marshall (EBK Photography), you cannot even tell that it was melt. down. central. the day of the shoot. Can you even handle the colors she captured?! We shot these at St. James Farm in Warrenville.

If you live in the Chicagoland area, check out her site, she does great work! (and another fab logo by Deanna Design Studio!)

EBK logo

CKT Family Pic CKT: family pic CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) CKT: family pics (EBK Photography) EBK4 CKT: family pic CKT: family pic CKT: family pic CKT: family pic

Dessert Week – Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

March 2, 2016

CKT Peanut Butter Bars Sorry for the radio silence over here. We have  l i t e r a l l y  been sick  a l l  winter and then just took a quick trip to Disney World (more on that soon!). At night all I have been able to do is curl up on the couch and watch mindless TV (yes, that means The Bachelor; insert embarrassed emoji here) . But it’s time to get things rolling again, and I thought Dessert Week would be the perfect way to start!

First up, these chocolate peanut butter bars (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen these!). Just looking at them makes me want to head to the kitchen and whip up a batch. They take some time to make, but only have 5 ingredients, so they are simple, but are made with a lot of love! And who does’t love rich chocolate and smooth peanut butter?!

ever so slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest via Cup of Jo

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1.5 cups, plus 4 tbsp creamy peanut butter, divided – I used Skippy Natural
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups powdered sugar

Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment or wax paper.

Place 1.5 cups of the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons peanut butter in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat, (stir often) until smooth. Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and tap against the counter until the chocolate is in a smooth and even. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the butter, 1.5 cups creamy peanut butter, vanilla and powdered sugar to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate layer. Place back in the refrigerator.

Place the remaining 1.5 cups chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons peanut butter in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat, (stir often) until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer, smooth the chocolate out into an even layer. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours or until ready to serve. Slice into bars and keep refrigerated. **I like to have them sit out for about 10 minutes before serving!

and we're back!

March 31, 2015

Well hello! It’s been a while. Sorry for the unannounced blog break, but summer took over, babies needed snuggling, and there were a few meltdowns to attend to, but alas, here we are…ready to get this started.

I hope you had an awesome summer! We packed it in–here are some snapshots.

CKT - Summer Vacation

George at the 4th of July parade.

CKT - Summer Vacation Someone liked her new bday clothes! (don’t mind the pacifier in the 2-year-old’s mouth)

IMG_2674 On the lookout.
IMG_2667 Beach life.
IMG_2957 A day on the boat!

IMG_8426 Looking for rocks.
IMG_2919 Michigan sunsets are a little bit of paradise.
IMG_3045 Baby love.
IMG_8430 Brian’s early morning dune hike, solo. (literally)
IMG_8394 Making it rain.

**Beach photos are from Northern Michigan. Leland, Glen Arbor, and Charlevoix.

2015 CKT Gift Guide

March 30, 2015

2015 CKT Gift Guide Take a look at this year’s gift guide and get inspired! What are you guys gifting this year?! We are getting lots of experiences and working on projects with the kids in what they are calling their “Elf Shop” this month. Happy, Merry, friends! xoxo

1. The New Yorker subscription, $47.00 For your brother, who has the time to read the articles (starting with the cartoons, of course).

2. Orange Blossom Honey from the Savanah Bee Co., $13.99 For your daughter’s teacher, who drinks tea or might need a hot toddy at the end of the day. (or go for the Tupelo Honey, $18, pictured above.)

3. Pom Pom hat, $59.50 For your sister-in-law, because everyone looks good in a pom pom hat and she will rock it. *Also on my list, Mom! (40% off with the code: MONDAY!)

4. Photo Session, $150+ For your parents, since you can never seem to get a good family picture for the Christmas Card. *Go in on this one with your siblings.

5. Instamatic Mini, $67.99 For your kids, so that they can experience a real camera. And you shake it like a polaroid picture.

6. Salt Keeper, $29.96 For your aunt, that loves to cook. Every counter needs a good salt keeper!

7. Snow Pants, $98.83 For you, because you play in the snow again. (more styles here!)

8. Maps, $21.86 For your kids, who are curious about maps, the world in general, and are going on a long road trip this summer (beautiful illustrations!).

9. Bagels from NYC, $29.94 For your other brother, that loves to eat. And because Meg Ryan goes there in You’ve Got Mail. (Get 20% off with the code: CYBER15!) (pick up the cream cheese for him at the store, it’s way too pricy to have it shipped from NYC)

10. Clos de los Siete Wine, $15.99 For your friend, who will host you and your family for an impromptu dinner the week between Christmas and New Year’s. This wine is a steal and an amazing malbec blend. (hello delicious!)

11. Old-School Nikes, $85.00 For your husband that always wears sneakers and appreciates a good shoe. These are actually one of the comfiest sneakers.

photo cred: 1. New Yorker,  2. Savannah Bee Co., 3. J. Crew, 4. EBK Photography, 5. Amazon,
6. Sur La Table, 7. REI, 8. Amazon, 9. Einstien’s, 10. Bon Appetit, 11. J. Crew

Super Bowl Appetizer

CKT: Superbowl Appetizer

What are you doing for the Super Bowl? I will be sitting on the couch watching or not watching the big game, but definitely eating this dip. Have you made it before?  I once ate an unrespectable portion of this dip at Nora’s friend’s birthday party. After the party, I quickly emailed the mom for the recipe. It’s salty, creamy, spicy, and perfect for this Sunday–trust me on this one (the pregnant lady knows).

Buffalo Chicken Dip (sorry for no picture, it does not photograph well)
(A recipe from Sara)

2, 12.5oz cans of canned chicken – drained
1 cup ranch dressing (such as Hidden Valley)
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
8 ounces cream cheese – room temp
2 cups shredded cheddar or enough to cover the entire dip

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add to a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with a sturdy tortilla chip.

jam roll!!

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) CKT teamed up with Rare Bird Preserves and Kelly Allison Photography for a photo shoot all about the undeniable jam roll. Think of a cinnamon roll, but instead of filling it with butter and cinnamon sugar, you are filling it with butter and delectable jam. We had you at roll? Ok, then we won’t even get into the toasty butter frosting.

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) Each of us came prepared with our own bag of tricks and expertise. My house was converted into a pseudo-photography studio for the day. And I pretended to be a hand model.

I have worked with Elizabeth (Rare Bird Preserves) in the past; remember CKT Orange Maple BLiS? I love her jams! She makes the most beautiful artisanal jams and recently sold me on her Bourbon Cranberry Apple Butter. It’s a jam that’s smooth and rich, while also being a touch tart and smoky. Check out her latest…an article in Food & Wine! (ps- Bourbon Cranberry Apple Butter is a black label jam, so if you are interested, buy it soon, there’s a very limited quantity).

This was my first time working with Kelly (Kelly Allison Photography) and man, was it fun to see her in action. I learned so much about food photography (her expertise), set up, and design. She has a real vision and truly captures the essence of how things taste (I know you are staring at the frosting video right now–like I said…genius).

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) On with the roll…

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) The jam roll is something special, a little traditional, and will probably be trending in your house soon. …you are welcome!

CKT Jam Roll
makes approx. 12- 24 rolls
dough recipe (slightly adapted from Sara Foster’s Refrigerator Rolls)

1/2 cup warm water (not too hot, think the temperature of a baby bottle)
1 package dry yeast
1 tsp + 2 tsp sugar (divided)
2 cups milk
8  TBS + 4 TBS salted butter (divided)
1 tsp salt
6 cups + 1/4 cup flour (divided)
1 TBS vegetable or canola oil
8-16 oz jam (depending on how many rolls you plan to make)
turbinado or brown sugar

frosting (this is for 12 rolls, don’t forget to double this recipe if making the whole batch):
2 1/2 TBS butter – melted until just starting to brown and cooled
1 cup powdered sugar
3 TBS milk (2% or whole)

Combine the water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl, stir and let rest for 5 minutes (bubbles will form).

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the sugar, milk, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until butter is melted and the sugar and salt is dissolved. Let cool if needed until it is just warm (think baby bottle again). Add yeast mixture and stir until combined. Combine with flour (first using a spoon, then with hands.)

Knead the dough with the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and elastic (~5 minutes). Form a dough ball. Oil a large bowl and roll the dough around until it is completely covered with the oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

Remove dough and punch down. Let rest for 5 minutes. Here you can reserve half the dough (and place in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks in the fridge–if you wish to only make 12 rolls). Or roll out the dough in 2 shifts now to make 24 rolls.

Roll out the dough to 3/4 inch thickness and spoon out 8 oz of jam per dough sheet. Very loosely roll the dough. Then, slice ~3/4 inch portions. Place in a buttered baking dish and  brush with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado or brown sugar. Let the rolls rise for another 15-20 minutes.

Finally bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. (Sometimes I broil the rolls for ~3 minutes at the end, just to give a nice toasty color.)

For the frosting, whisk all of the ingredients together. Spoon over the rolls. Serve slightly warm.

(all photos and videos by Kelly Allison Photography)