Scandinavia: Stockholm, Sweden

(Continuation of 2018 vacation to Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.)

We arrived in Stockholm in sweltering heat… 90 degrees, probably 85% humidity and no AC anywhere. The heat was miserable.

The first evening we ventured to Gamla Stan – an island in the central of Stockholm with some of the oldest buildings in the city and narrow winding streets. We found a restaurant online (The Hairy Pig), made a reservation, and headed over to see if we could grab a drink before we ate. Initially we were offered a seat inside if we wanted to eat immediately. We walked in and almost fainted – it had to be 95 degrees inside! Luckily they had some tables outside and we just waited until another table of patrons had finished eating.  And the food was worth the wait.

After two years I have unfortunately forgotten what some of these dishes were and forgot to take a picture of the menu at the time. All I know if that I wasn’t disappointed in anything.


While we weren’t spending time eating or admiring the architecture, we were out on the water trying to cool off or heading into museums like the Fotografiska or royal armory (one section was underground and delightfully cold). Whenever I return, I’ll make a mental note to travel in the fall to hopefully avoid unusually war m weather.


While in Stockholm, we also visited two outstanding Michelin rated restaurants – Oaxen Krog and Gastrologik (photos and review to come in separate posts.)

It was an amazing trip to see the home of my ancestors and am so fortunate I was able to share that time with almost all of my immediate family.

Scandinavia: On to Norway

It’s 2020 now… and this vacation happened in 2018. But since we’re currently in the midst of a pandemic and stay home order, this seems like a perfect time to finally sit down and find the joy of writing again and relive some of the adventures I’ve had between then and now.

On to Norway!

(Continuing on with our Scandinavian adventure – me, C, my mom, dad, and younger sister.) We flew from Iceland to Bergen. Initially we thought to do a tour of the coast (which I still hope to do some day) but instead decided to stay longer in a couple of areas – Bergen and Oslo and do day trips from there… which you will find had some misadventures along the way.

Our first lazy half-day in Bergen was filled with rain. But the following day, the clouds started to lift and wanting to explore a little more of the coast, C and I hoped on a boat out to the island of Fedje. We didn’t have much planned for the day, so we spent out time walking the roads of the island enjoying the sunshine, scenery, and looking at houses (one of our favorite hobbies). I love seeing how other people live, how they build their houses, what flowers they plant, and how they spend their free time.


Iconic view of Bergen leaving the harbor.

As we walked the roads, I could tell not only do people really enjoy their summers and time away from the hectic mainland, but why the Scandinavians who immigrated to Minnesota love the lakes and water so much!


On the island of Fedje off the coast of Norway.

Imagine having this as your boat dock out to sea.


Fedje inlet.

After grabbing some food at the local restaurant and BnB, we caught our boat back off the island and headed back to the mainland.


Leaving Fedje.

The following day we were supposed to take a self-guided tour to Flam and the Naeroyfjord (tickets purchased in advance, but you have to make all the stops/times yourself). We woke up bright and early and walked to the train station to catch the first train of the morning to our first location. We had barely made two stops when it came over the loud speaker that due to rain, the tracks ahead were closed and we would need to catch a bus between the next two stations.

As 300 people piled out of the train, we rushed to get in line for the buses. Two buses filled with people and luggage (some passengers opting for the overnight tour option) and then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. It would take the buses nearly an hour to get back to us and then another 45 minutes to the stop drop off. It became clear very quickly that there was no way we were making this once in a lifetime tour.

Now on the outskirts of Bergen, we had to make the decision of trying to get a taxi and rushing to catch the boat 1.5 hours away or catch the train back into Bergen that was due to arrive in 5 minutes. With extreme reluctance we hopped the train back into Bergen to try and salvage what we had left of the day.

As luck would have it, there were a few tickets left on a tour of the Osterfjord, just a three hour round trip from Bergen. We were able to do at least one fjord tour while in Norway!

From Bergen, we made our way to Oslo by train.

While in Oslo, we spent the days walking through town seeing the sculptures in Frogner Park, royal grounds, Viking ship museums, and rented a car one day to drive out to the see the old Jorud homestead.

Frogner Park is home to sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.


As we drove into the countryside, we stopped by a church in Ostfold, Norway that was said to be the final resting place of a few long lost relatives. Although family members had photographed the graves on previous trips, it appeared that the older graves had been replaced by more recent graves from the community. Unfortunately, the last Jorud who owned the old family farm sold it only two years previously, so we didn’t stop to chat with any relatives when we drove out to see it.

From Olso, we were off to Stockholm, Sweden and in for hot few days…

Scandinavia: We Went To Iceland!

It’s taken me a while to sit down and write about our big 2018 trip. Some place I’ve been dreaming of going to since I was a young girl at Concordia’s Norwegian Language Village. In 2018 it finally happened, I convinced my parents to take a trip with me to see some of our homeland – Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.

You may be wondering why it’s taken so long to write about (6 months later) if it was such a dream trip. Well, the truth is, I haven’t given myself much time to actually process the trip because of things that were happening concurrently or very shortly after – massive basement flooding and loosing our first fur baby to cancer were just two in a longer list. After 6-months of healing and releasing, I’m finally moving back towards myself and able to look back at that period with more fondness.

Let’s start the vacation!

Mid July, we started our vacation with a stop-over in Iceland. We only spent a couple of days, because Norway was our main highlight and we had no clue what to expect from Iceland. One regret would be not having spent more than 48 hours there – I’d definitely go back for a week or more if I could, just to explore the incredible landscape.

On our first afternoon in Iceland, a wonderful Icelandic couple my dad met at the airport and befriended took us on a short car tour of the countryside neighboring Reykjavik. This is a place you want to get lost in – unspoiled views with life that looks so simple.

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Emerald green lakes.

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Hot springs and cold air.

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Hot springs.

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Gorgeous views.


Volcanic sand, fog, and bright green vegetation.


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C, me, and my Dad.

Our second day included a bus tour of the southern coast and water falls.


Waterfalls along the bluffs.




Lunch stop in Vik.


Basalt cliffs.


Black sand beaches.




Sólheimajökull Glacier

That evening C and I selected a tasting menu at Grillmarkaðurinn. We elected to have a more traditional set of eats, so it should be noted that there are not many native or traditional vegetables used in Icelandic cuisine. While I tend to eat a more plant based diet at home, when I’m visiting a new place, I will expand my palate to try foods that are more traditional of the region.


Smoked Arctic Char – Pickled fennel, spiced rye bread, quail egg from Ásgarð and mustard dressing


Grilled Puffin – Lightly smoked puffin, pickled bilberries and birch


Shark steak – Tender steak of shark, Icelandic wasabi and soy vinaigrette


Battered fish – Potatoes, summer vegetables, and sauce


Horse tenderloin – The tenderloin is a clean muscle. It is the most tender part of the horse


Lamb fillet – Potato terrine, sauerkraut, lamb shank and wild shiitake-apple glaze


Dessert platter – ice cream, tropical fruits (obviously not local), lava cakes, chocolate

Our last morning in Iceland was spent touring around Reykjavik before hoping on a flight later that evening for the next stop – Bergen!


Best chai latte of my life and my introduction to oat milk. Hint: Oat milk makes the creamiest lattes and best non-dairy addition to tea.


Hallgrímskirkja – magnificent, modern architecture church in Reykjavik


View from the top of Hallgrímskirkja.

Iceland is most definitely a country I’d like to visit again to spend some time hiking and exploring the whole of the island country.

Next stop, Bergen, Norway.

Full Life Nutrition & Wellness, LLC. I Started a Business!!

I finally bit the bullet and did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – start my own private practice, Full Life Nutrition & Wellness!! While I focus on nutrition, I incorporate personal training and yoga into the healing and full life living approach.

As my practice continues to expand, the content of this blog will expand as well into more personal reflections, thoughts about various nutrition, fitness, or wholeness topics, and other content readers may find enjoyable or beneficial.

While I still love to cook and bake, to be totally honest, I haven’t had as strong of a passion for it in the past year as I’ve had previously. I find that I need to be authentic to myself. I will still post and share recipes that inspire me, but content is going to be much more varied moving forward.

For more up to date food, stories, personal musings, and cute puppy photos, continue to follow this blog’s and my personal Instagram @sugarspicefitlife.

Lemon Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

Maybe it was winter, but my cooking/recipe slump feels like it is finally ending and I’m feeling the inspiration! Maybe the summer like weather here the past week has helped? 90 degrees in the first part of May. What!?

While re-testing a recipe for an upcoming event for work (I’m making my Lemon Lavender Energy Bites), I brought in the samples to co-workers and they correctly noted that the energy bite dough would make an awesome crust for cheesecake. I made a mental note of this and then went forward to try and determine if a baked or no-bake cheesecake would be best for this. No-bake was the obvious answer since the crust is also meant to be mainly raw. The filling is slightly tangier than a normal cheesecake, so you could just call it a tart, but I’m going to stick to my guns on this and say cheesecake. 🙂

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The base of the crust is ground, roasted pistachios and almond butter (in addition to the flavors of lemon and lavender) but a small difference from the regular energy bites is that I incorporated some coconut oil and less almond butter. I think the coconut oil hardens up a bit better and allows the crust to keep more of its shape when cooled. (Ignore the crumbs below – I was a bit over zealous in diving in for a bite.)

A bit about the food grade lavender. I get mine from a local farm, Los Poblanos, but the great thing now is that they ship nation-wide and have a whole bunch of other boutique body products. And another side note – their restaurants is super super delicious – I’ve been for breakfast, brunch, and dinner and always want to go back. They built a new restaurant onsite and just re-opened in the new place within the last year. If you have a chance to visit  Albuquerque, NM, I totally recommend visiting their Farm Shop for the lavender and restaurant, Campo, just to eat… and I suppose stay overnight in their inn too if you can.

But back to the food.

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Lemon Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

Makes 2-3 mini cheesecakes or one larger pie


Lemon Lavender Crust

  • 1/2 c raw, unsalted, pistachios (meats, shelled)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut flour
  • 1 T turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T creamy almond butter (do not use peanut butter – it will overpower the other flavors)
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 1 tsp whole culinary lavender (add an additional 1/2 tsp based on strength of lavender flavor)
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 c powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 -3/4 tsp whole culinary lavender, crushed
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Favorite lemon curd for topping



  1. Place nuts and flour in the food processor first. I used a 2 cup food processor or small option if using a larger processor. Pulse until nuts resemble a course meal.
  2. Add in sugar, salt, lavender, and extracts. Process for another 3-5 second or until well combined.
  3. Lastly, blend in almond butter, coconut oil, and honey. Pulse until well combined and the mixture holds its shape when pressed together. Add additional honey 1 T at a time until mixture holds a shape without crumbling.
  4. Divide the crust mixture between your three mini spring form pans or press into the bottom of a glass pie plate for a larger dessert.
  5. Place in refrigerator to cool while making the filling.


  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Beat in sugar, lavender, lemon zest, and salt until evenly incorporated.
  2. Add in the Greek yogurt and beat until evenly incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula.
  4. Add your filling to the mini spring form pans or pie plate, evenly spreading the mixture over the top.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Served chilled, topped with lemon curd and sprinkles of lavender and additional lemon zest if desired.

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Lavender and lemon just scream spring and summer to me, but when I went to the store looking for some lemon curd (and you can totally make your own BTW), I was told it was seasonal – Thanksgiving. Hmmm. For me lemon can be used all year round, but is particularly bright like summer. I guess you learn something new everyday. 🙂

Enjoy and I’m glad to be back in the realm of creating recipes again!


Holiday Gifting

The December holidays are fast approaching and it seems like everywhere you look, companies, bloggers, and Instagramers are sending out holiday specials and gift guides. While so many people are running out to overextend their budgets and stressing about finding the perfect gift I’m not feeling the stress one bit. What’s the secret? Well the secret really it’s any secret other than more than a few years back I stopped giving holiday gifts – at least to adults anyway. I’ll still get something for my niece and nephew – because they’re still small.

Now I want to be clear – I may give the occasional gift if it is something I know the individual is really going to value and appreciate. But for the most part I just got worn out. Everyone determining an equal value of what you would spend on each other and then exchanging gifts for items you probably would have purchased yourself but instead waited 2-3 months to get.

I’m not trying to be cheap or ungenerous. I’d also rather not receive gifts just because it’s a designated day or marketing tells me I’m a failed friend, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, etc. for not buying everyone the latest and best widgets of the year. So I also request that others not buy me gifts. I’ve found that my headspace is less cluttered when my physical space is less cluttered. As I became an adult (had a big girl job) I found I did have extra money to buy the things that I needed and without a list of needed items come Christmas time, the items tend to become more obscure and more random or collections begin to form.

While I LOVE throw blankets, I can really only use up to two at a time (so as I’m trying to become more of a minimalist, two is all I really need… I have 8). I could always buy more yoga pants, but do I really need 10 identical black pairs? And even at this point, I have just about every kitchen gadget under the sun (from my mom, grandma’s kitchens, and gifts over the years) and lack for very little in that department.

We don’t need more stuff. (Does it bring you real joy or fill a purpose/need?)

Before I go off sounding too whiny (and it may be too late),  just buy from the heart, not because you have to but because it’s something you know the other person will really value and cherish for more than an hour past unwrapping gifts. Give experiences, give time, give attention, give a letter, give something home baked – there are plenty of gifts that don’t have a price tag and can make a lasting impression.

This holiday season I plan to take time to mentally care for myself – read a book, take some long walks with the dog, drink some tea, make lefse, curl but watching movies with my husband while listening to the pup snore, and being thankful I’m able to make time for these little luxuries.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Donuts

One of the gifts I put on our wedding registry was a donut pan! And after couple months, I finally made my first attempt at some delicious baked donuts. If you’re living in the Southwest, or really most parts of the US right now, it still feels like fall even though we’re fast approaching the end of the year. In which case, I think that the fall flavors of carrots and sweet potatoes are are completely still acceptable.

And since the only frosting I really like is cream cheese frosting, I needed flavors it would compliment. Is anyone else like me? Other frostings just get too sweet or buttery? (My husband would probably disagree.) But the tang in cream cheese frosting is just perfect.

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for almost a month and with Thanksgiving and a trip to Seattle in November, the time has just flown by! I have a bunch of recipes and photos  just sitting waiting to be shared! My December goal is to back on the recipe and blogging track with exciting news to share in 2018!

Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Donuts

Makes 6 donuts


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (from 1 medium to large sweet potato)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled (olive oil also works well)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ c shredded carrots


  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar (plus more for desired sweetness)
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sweet potato, maple syrup, egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Avoid overmixing here as it can make the donuts tough instead of light and fluffy.
  3. Gently fold in shredded carrots. Do not over-mix.
  4. Spoon the batter into the donut pan, filling almost to the top.
  5. Bake for 9-11minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Turn the donuts onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once donuts are cooled, make the frosting.
  7. For frosting, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until no lumps are present.
  8. Spread a thin to medium layer of frosting onto each cooled donut.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee and share with a friend. Or not, you do you.

I certainly see more baked donuts in my future. 🙂

*Baking was done at high altitude. 


Peach and Ricotta Crostini

It might be fall, but I’m still obsessing over peaches, especially the ones I can grow in my own back yard! That’s right, we have a fabulous peach tree that grow giant peaches – like the kind you need to grab with two hands. Even though I massively hacked and pruned the tree earlier that year (like I thought nothing would grow back and we’d have this ugly stumpy looking tree), but it still branched out all over the place and we had peaches everywhere – even after C took half off at the start of their growing. We removed some so the others get more nutrients and grow bigger.

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So after having a refrigerator full of peaches, I thought why not do some sort of appetizer with them – I had some left over ricotta and we always have honey, so a super easy snack was born. 🙂

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Peach and Ricotta Crostini

Serves as many as you’d like


  • 1 long baguette
  • Part skim ricotta (it has more protein)
  • Fresh peaches
  • Honey
  • Aged balsamic vinegar


  1. Slice the baguette on a diagonal and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Toast baguette slices under the broiler for 30 seconds to a minute or until toasted to desired toastiness.
  3. Slices peaches (can leave skins on or off if you prefer).
  4. Spread each toast with 1-2 T of ricotta.
  5. Arrange peach sliced on toast and drizzle with your choice of honey or balsamic vinegar. If you’re using vinegar, make sure to have the kind that is aged and really think. If it’s not already thick, you can place it in a pot on the stove over a simmer and reduce down to desired syrup consistency.

Eat and enjoy! Preferably with some wine.


It’s my 4th summer in this house and each year I’m enjoying the fruit produced more and more – peaches, apples, and figs. After finishing the creation of the patio and fencing around it, I’m also enjoying the backyard more and more – when I’m out there, it really does feel like home. When everything is put away (a wind storm tore down our temporary pergola), I’ll post a video of the space – we have a waterfall too and the sound of falling water is just so relaxing!


Cheers to the ending of summer and the beginning of fall!