Tuesday, September 2, 2014

labor day 2014


ryan's mom has been in north carolina since memorial day taking care of her two grandsons.  we have missed her all summer, and we are thrilled that she came back home to pennsylvania this weekend!  yesterday, we went down to ryan's parents' house to welcome ryan's mom back home and to celebrate labor day.  it was so good to see her after so many months.

we had a labor day picnic lunch with hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw.  for dessert, ryan and i made a rhubarb macaroon pie (which is one of ryan's favorite recipes that his grandmother used to make when he was younger).  

i can't believe that summer is over and it's september!  even though i'm sad to see summer go, i am looking forward to all of the wonderful things that fall has to offer: colorful leaves, apples, cider, pumpkins, corn mazes, and clean crisp air.

hope everyone had a great labor day weekend!
love, laurie

Monday, September 1, 2014

happy labor day!


labor day always seems like the unofficial end of summer.  i'm really not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet.  it went by way too fast, but we sure did cram a lot into the summer this year!

since it's labor day we have the day off from work today and we plan on enjoying it!

have a great monday!
love, laurie

Friday, August 29, 2014

thank goodness it's friday . . . and hello, three day weekend!


man, this week was a rough one.  it was the first week back to school at the university where we work, and that always makes for general craziness.  somehow, this year it seemed extra nutty.

this week we also found out that "our dream house" is up for sale.  for as long as i can remember, ryan and i have been in love with one particular house in our area.  when we were in college, we used to walk by it several times a week.  we loved how the outside looked, and we would imagine what the layout might look like inside.  it was always perfectly manicured, and we would watch people come and go from it, trying to get even a small glimpse inside whenever a door would open.  i used to joke around with ryan and say "if that house ever goes up for sale, i'd buy it without even seeing the inside of it."  sounds crazy, but somehow i just knew the inside would be perfect.  for years, we have lovingly referred to it as "our dream house."  well, it's for sale.  it's in foreclosure, the poor thing.  ryan sent me the online listing, so that i could see the pictures.  it's perfect inside.  of course it is, i knew it had to be.  i'm not looking to buy another home right now, but if i was i couldn't even afford this masterpiece.  it is priced ridiculously high.  really, it's almost six times the price of the house we own, and the taxes are outrageous.  three stories, beautiful built-ins, a custom kitchen, brazilian cherry hardwood floors, an in-ground heated pool, central air, and an additional lot next door!  i think i'm dying a slow and painful death after seeing the listing price online.  dramatic?  maybe a little.  ryan said to me, "i was hoping it was crappy inside."  me too, honey, me too.  let's just have a moment of silence for the fact that "our dream house" will be sold to someone else.

anyway, thank goodness it's friday.  we're so glad that the weekend is finally here, and we're off work on monday since it's labor day which makes it a three day weekend too!  hooray!

have a good one!
love, laurie

Thursday, August 28, 2014

vegan zucchini bread


if you tasted this zucchini bread and didn't know that it was vegan, you would never believe me when i told you that it was.

we got a ton of zucchini from the farmer's market and we needed to use it up.  so, we made three (yes three!) loaves of zucchini bread.  we kept some for ourselves, shared some with my parents, and took some into work.  our co-workers loved it and could not believe that it was vegan.

it was moist, light, and fluffy inside with crispy edges on the outside.  so delicious!  (it also freezes really well too!)

this might just be the best zucchini bread i've ever had!


vegan zucchini bread
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 1 hour
yields: 1 loaf
adapted from joy the baker

ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini

directions:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  grease the sides of a loaf pan and line the pan with parchment paper.  set aside.  in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.  set aside.  in a measuring cup, mix  together the milk and the vinegar (to make buttermilk).  in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together the milk, flax seed meal, vegetable oil, vanilla, and sugars.  whisk thoroughly to combine.  mix in the shredded zucchini.  gradually add the sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  whisk together until all of the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the batter.  pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.  once baked, allow the bread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and transferring it to a wire rack to finish cooling.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

one pot sausage, zucchini, tomato, and onion dinner


it's so nice to have easy dinner recipes in your back pocket.  especially when you need to throw dinner together quickly when things get hectic and crazy.

summer zucchini is in abundance.  we had what seemed like a truck load of zucchini from the farmer's market, and we wanted to use it up before it went bad.  so, we made a bunch of recipes with our zucchini.  one of the recipes that we made was this one pot sausage, zucchini, tomato, and onion dinner.

ryan told me about a zucchini dish that his grandmother used to make when he was younger, and  i tried to recreate it as best as i could from his description.  i made it as a one pot dinner which made clean up so easy!  i made a large portion so that we would have it for dinner for several nights this week.  it was so flavorful and we absolutely loved it.  ryan said i was pretty close to his grandmother's version too!


one pot sausage, zucchini, tomato, and onion dinner
prep time: 5-10 minutes
cooking time: 20-25 minutes
yields: 8 servings

ingredients:
2 lbs. loose sweet italian sausage
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large zucchini, diced
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

directions:
in a large soup pot, cook the sausage over medium-low heat until brown and cooked throughout.  break apart into small pieces.  drain any fat out of the pot, and set the sausage aside.  in the same pot, melt the butter.  saute the onions until translucent.  add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  add the zucchini and saute until tender.  add the diced tomatoes (with juices) and the sausage.  cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.  serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

nyc: you've got mail filming locations


we really enjoyed our day in nyc on saturday.  before we went to see newsies, we spent the morning walking around the upper west side, visiting some of the locations where the movie you've got mail was filmed.

i've mentioned before that i absolutely love you've got mail.  it is one of my all time favorite movies and i can recite most of it by heart.  i've lost count of how many times i've seen it.

we re-watched the movie on friday night, and when we were in nyc on saturday we visited a lot of the filming locations.  if you want to take yourself on a self-guided walking tour of the you've got mail film locations, here's where to go . . .

the 91st street garden in riverside park
(west 91st street and riverside drive)
at the very end of the movie, joe reveals that he is NY152 by bringing his dog brinkley to meet kathleen at the 91st street garden in riverside park.  the garden was absolutely beautiful.  i was surprised how many flowers were still in bloom so late in august.  there were people walking their dogs, and someone was doing yoga in the middle of the grass.  it was so peaceful and serine.  we stood exactly where joe and kathleen stood in the movie for the final scene.  it was really neat.

kathleen kelly's brownstone
(328 west 89th street, between riverside drive and west end avenue)
the interior of kathleen's apartment was shot on a sound stage, however, the exterior was shot at 328 west 89th street.  it was charming and it felt like kathleen would live there.  the front door was wide open.  i had to resist the urge to go peak in!

joe fox's apartment
(152 riverside drive, between west 87th and west 88th streets)
in the movie, joe lives at 152 riverside drive.  as it turns out, that address doesn't actually exist, but if it did it would be between west 87th and west 88th streets.   we walked that section of riverside drive.  it is unbelievably close to kathleen's apartment.  (the interior shots of joe's apartment were actually filmed up the street at 210 riverside drive near west 93rd street.)

barney greengrass
(541 amsterdam avenue, between west 86th and west 87th streets)
kathleen and birdie sat and ate sandwiches at barney greengrass while discussing kathleen's mother and the future of the shop around the corner.  we walked in and the place was packed!  there were tons of people sitting and eating.  it had a great old-fashioned deli vibe.  we were hungry and ryan kept saying that everything looked so good!

cafe lalo
(201 west 83rd street, between broadway and amsterdam avenue)
joe discovers who shopgirl really is when he peeks through the window at cafe lalo.  when we were in nyc earlier this month to celebrate our anniversary, we had lunch at cafe lalo.  it's such an awesome place and their dessert selection is out of this world!  it looks almost exactly the same as it did in the movie.

starbucks
(2252 broadway at west 81st street)
both joe and kathleen were in starbucks several times.  it's not far at all from from cafe lalo.

zabar's grocery store
(2245 broadway, between west 80th and 81st streets)
zabar's is right across the street from starbucks.  it is such a cute old grocery store.  they had a ton of yummy looking groceries on the first floor and kitchen gadgets/appliances on the second floor.  the scene in zabar's grocery store is one of my favorites.  as we walked up to the registers, i said to ryan "this is a cash only line."  i'm sure the employees are sick of hearing that, but i couldn't resist.  i even got a free zabar's coffee mug while we were there!  a pretty cool souvenir!

h&h bagels
(2239 broadway at west 80th street)
in the movie joe emails kathleen about h&h bagels and the way they fill the air with white powder as a truck pumps flour into the ground every night.  h&h bagels is right next to zabar's, but sadly it is now a verizon store.  if you're in the mood for a bagel, h&h has a retail location in midtown.

79th street boat basin
(west 79th street on the hudson river)
joe's boat was docked at the 79th street boat basin on the hudson.  if you visit, of course you have to wave across the river and yell: "hello, new jersey!"

ocean grill
(382 columbus avenue, between west 78th and 79th streets)
joe and kathleen share a plate of calamari at ocean grill as they discuss what NY 152 might mean.  their menu looks great, i'd love to eat there one day!

verdi square 
(where broadway and amsterdam avenue intersect at west 73rd street)
verdi square is a neat little triangle where broadway and amsterdam avenue intersect.  joe and kathleen crossed paths at verdi square before they knew each other.  later in the movie, they meet up to walk through a farmer's market and sit in verdi square while eating pretzels and an apple.  there was actually a farmer's market going on as we walked through verdi square!

gray's papaya
(2090 broadway at west 72nd street)
joe and kathleen ate hot dogs at nyc's famous gray's papaya.  we popped in for a $2 hot dog as we passed by gray's papaya and stood almost where they stood eating their hot dogs.  it was surprisingly pretty good!

the shop around the corner
(106 west 69th street, between broadway and columbus avenue)
the exterior of kathleen's store was filmed at maya shaper's cheese and antique shop which has closed.  the shop has since been several other different stores, but it's still there.

movie theatre
(1998 broadway at west 68th street)
kathleen and frank saw a movie at what is now the amc loews lincoln square 13 movie theatre.

fox books 
(150 west 17th street at 7th avenue)
the fox books superstore is the only nyc filming location not on the upper west side.  the exterior was shot at the rubin museum of art which is not far from books of wonder (which is the actual children's bookstore that kathleen's shop was based on.)

. . .

there you have it, a guide to the nyc you've got mail filming locations!  sadly, we didn't get to visit all of the locations since we had to run to see the show, but maybe we'll be able to catch the rest of them the next time we're in the city.  here's a little video that we made of some of the filming locations that we visited.  (the music is, of course, the opening song from the movie: "the puppy song" by harry nilsson.)

ps: for some reason, i've been having a ton of trouble with vimeo this week and i can't seem to get my video uploaded on vimeo.  as soon it starts working again, i'll get the video on vimeo!


love, laurie

Monday, August 25, 2014

saturday in nyc and newsies on broadway!


we took a trip to nyc on saturday to see newsies on broadway!  we have been wanting to see newsies for a while, and when we found out a few weeks ago that the show was set to close on august 24th, we hurried to get tickets before they sold out.  we got great orchestra seats for an awesome price.  it was really neat to see the show just one day before it closed.  the energy in the theatre was insane and the dancing was unbelievable!  we absolutely loved the show!  it was so good!

before the show, we walked around the upper west side and had lunch at sugar and plumm.  we just loved how the restaurant was decorated, and our food was so good!  before heading down to the theatre in midtown, we stopped at momofuku milk bar in the upper west side to pick up a few cookies to take with us.  after the show, we ran over to the upper east side to grab dinner at whole foods (gosh i love their hummus) and then we picked up two cupcakes from sprinkles cupcakes to take home with us.

we always love spending time in our favorite city.  it was a great saturday in nyc!

^we loved our lunch at sugar and plumm.  ryan ordered the chicken and waffles and i ordered the pulled pork and waffles.  i'm still thinking about how good the combination of the waffles, the pulled pork, and the coleslaw was . . . 72 hour in-house smoked pork, maple bbq sauce, and pickled onion coleslaw.  yum!  i'm going to have to make that at home!^
^we have been hearing rave reviews about the cookies at momofuku milk bar, so we had to try them for ourselves.  we picked up three cookies: the blueberry and cream cookie, the compost cookie (which has pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips in it), and the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie.  talk about some loaded cookies!^
^newsies was so good.  we're sad that we can't see it again!  the audience went absolutely wild during the show.  the cast and crew actually had to hold the show three times because the audience was applauding and cheering so loudly.  the audience was giving standing ovations in the middle of the show!  i've never seen anything like it before.  we loved it!^
^when i was in washington, d.c. last october, i brought home cupcakes from sprinkles and we loved the triple cinnamon cupcake.  since we were on the upper east side before we headed home, we popped into sprinkles to pick up some cupcakes to take home with us.  this time we tried the s'more cupcake too since it is a summer special.  yum!^

love, laurie

Friday, August 22, 2014

fun links


we were folding some towels the other day and walked away for just a moment.  when we came back, we found leko "helping" out.  ryan was able to snap this picture of him.  i love how he is always right in the middle of whatever we are doing.  what a cutie!

wheph!  this week flew by so fast.  how is it friday already?  we have some fun plans for saturday, so we are super excited that it's the weekend!

here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

an amazing a cappella newsies medley that was shot all in one take.

simple midnight snacks that won't undo your whole day

how to cut corn kernels off the cob.  perfect for summer corn recipes.

how to make the perfect crouton.

28 helpful travel tips for your next vacation (we already do a lot of these, but i never thought of #21 before)

frozen banana penguins!!!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, August 21, 2014

sweet sixteen cake


last week, a family friend's daughter turned 16 and she hired us to make a birthday cake for her daughter's sweet sixteen birthday party!

the birthday girl requested a tiered vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, covered in teal fondant and white polka dots.  she also wanted a "16" cake topper with a soccer ball on it since she loves to play soccer.

so, we got to work and made a cake!  the bottom tier was a 3-layer 10 inch cake and the top tier was a 2-layer 6 inch cake.  all of the cake was vanilla, and there was vanilla buttercream frosting between each of the layers and on the outside of the cake.  we covered the cake in teal fondant which ryan tinted himself.  (he's so good at color mixing when it comes to cake decorating.  we call him our "color mixologist.")  we cut four different sizes of polka dots out of white fondant and adhered them to the cake with buttercream frosting.

we molded the cake topper entirely out of fondant so that it would be edible.  we used the same teal fondant that we covered the cake with and brushed it with edible luster dust for some extra pizzazz.  we used one of our white polka dots as the base for the soccer ball and cut the hexagons out of black fondant.  we stuck shish kabob skewers into the cake topper to support the numbers and to hold the cake topper on top of the cake.

it was absolutely massive by the time we put the whole thing together (and it was crazy heavy too)!  since we had to travel with the cake, we didn't stick the cake topper into the top of the cake until we arrived at the birthday girl's house.  we were really pleased with how the cake turned out, but more importantly the birthday girl loved it too!


love, laurie