Friday, December 19, 2014

happy friday!

i snapped this picture when leko was helping me make my pine cone owl ornament the other day.  he just loves to be right in the middle of whatever we are doing.  what a cutie!

i'm thrilled that it's friday!  it's hard to believe that christmas is just a few days away.  luckily, we are done with our christmas shopping and almost done wrapping gifts!

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, December 18, 2014

d.i.y. pine cone owl ornament

a few days ago, ryan found a great looking pine cone in our yard.  he brought it inside thinking that we could decorate with it for the holidays.  as soon as i saw it, i knew exactly what i wanted to do with it.

i got to work making a cute little pine cone owl ornament for our christmas tree, inspired by an ornament that i had seen online a few weeks ago.  i was thrilled that i didn't have to buy a single supply for this craft.  it cost me absolutely nothing to make because i just used supplies that we already had around our house.  we had leftover felt from a previous project, and we have a huge collection of miscellaneous extra buttons that have come on different pieces of clothing that we have bought over the years.  i used hot glue to hold everything together because it is so easy to work with and it dries so quickly too.

leko was a huge "help" when i was doing this craft.  he was intrigued by the pine cone, but he especially loved the string.  what is it about kitties and string?!  needless, to say, if you have kitties in your house, they will probably find this project to be fun!

step one: gather your supplies.  for this project, i used supplies that i had around the house: a pine cone from our yard, a hot glue gun, string, a pencil, scissors, buttons, and felt

step two: cut a piece of string to hold the ornament onto the tree.  tie a knot at the end to make a loop.  glue the knot to the top of the pine cone.

step three: cut two wings out of the felt and glue them to the sides of the pine cone.

step four: cut two feet out of the felt and glue them to the bottom of the pine cone.

step five: cut one piece of felt in the shape of the number 8 for the background of the eyes and cut another piece of felt in the shape of a triangle for the beak.  glue the background of the eyes onto the pine cone, and glue the beak on top of that.  glue buttons onto the felt for the eyes.  (i used 2 white buttons and 2 colored buttons for the eyes.)

there you have it!
a cute homemade ornament for the holidays!

love, laurie

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

black bean chia seed brownies

we were walking through the health food section at wegman's recently, and ryan found a stand offering free health food newsletters.  inside there were a ton of great recipes, including a recipe for brownies made with black beans and chia seeds.  we are huge black bean fans, and we love chia seeds too, so we were intrigued to give them a try.

brownies are an all time favorite dessert, but they are usually loaded with butter.  we were surprised to see that this recipe doesn't have any butter in it.  these brownies have a wonderful chocolate flavor and they were not very sweet at all.  the chia seeds and raw cacao nibs give them a great crunch too.  you would absolutely never guess that there are black beans hidden inside these brownies.  go ahead and make these brownies for someone, they'll never guess they have black beans in them!

instead of baking the brownie batter in a regular baking pan, we baked individual brownies in our brownie pan.  (we love that pan, and we bake all types of things in there, like these individual cornbread squares.)  we were really pleasantly surprised by how great these brownies turned out, and we will definitely make them again!  a somewhat healthy brownie . . . now who can say no to that?!

black bean chia seed brownies
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time 25 minutes
yields: 12 large brownies
adapted from wegman's

1 (15 oz.) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  in a food processor, combine the black beans, sugar, oil, cocoa powder, chia seeds, and vanilla.  puree until completely smooth.  stir in the chocolate chips.  evenly divide the batter among the 12 cups of a greased brownie pan.  (alternatively, pour the batter into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.)  level with a spatula, and sprinkle with cacao nibs.  bake for 25 minutes (30 minutes in a 8-inch square pan) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  allow the brownies to cool in the pan before serving.

love, laurie

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

make your own candy cane sugar scrub

cold weather can be really harsh on your skin.  extreme winter temperatures always make my skin so dry.  last winter, i made a batch of homemade vanilla brown sugar scrub.  it was super easy to make and it was a great way to exfoliate and soften my skin.

sugar scrubs can be expensive and loaded with chemicals, so it's nice to be able to make your own at home with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen!

recently, i made another batch of homemade sugar scrub.  since it's the christmas season, i made a candy cane version using candy canes, granulated sugar, coconut oil, and peppermint extract.  it leaves my skin feeling soft and silky, and the peppermint scent is wonderfully refreshing!

homemade sugar scrub is so cheap and easy to make.  you can make a batch to keep for yourself, or you could make some for your family and friends.  it would make a great christmas gift.  just put it in a cute airtight container with a label and you're all set!

homemade candy cane sugar scrub
total time: 5 minutes
yields: enough to fill one 12 oz. mason jar

1 candy cane
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

place the candy cane in a food processor and process until the candy cane is broken into small pieces.  add the sugar, oil, and peppermint.  process until combined.  place the sugar scrub in a 12 oz. mason jar or any airtight container.

to use:
in the shower, generously apply the sugar scrub to your body.  use your hands to gently rub the sugar scrub over your skin.  rinse with warm water and wash your body with soap as you normally would.  (be careful, the coconut oil may cause the bottom of your tub/shower to become slippery!)

love, laurie

Monday, December 15, 2014

saturday at the flyers game

i've mentioned before that we're really not sports fans, but when we found out that ryan's dad got free tickets from work for a hockey game, we thought it would be a fun outing.  on saturday, we took a trip to philadelphia with ryan's dad to see the philadelphia flyers play the carolina hurricanes.

it's been a while since we have been to an ice hockey game.  we had great seats just eight rows from the ice, and the flyers won (5-1)!  it was a bit chilly (my toes were cold even though i was wearing two pairs of socks) but we had a really great time and it was fun to spend time with ryan's dad!

hope everyone had a great weekend!
love, laurie

Friday, December 12, 2014

fun links

this week was a challenge.  the weather was unpredictable (to say the least) and the work days were long and boring.  tonight we have to work a holiday christmas concert, but we are looking forward to a weekend without any crazy plans or commitments.  hopefully we will be able to get caught up on a few things and enjoy this time of year by decorating with some christmas lights and watching a few christmas movies.

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

1. i adore joy wilson's cat and i especially loved this post that she wrote about him.

2. speaking of joy wilson, this peppermint pretzel marshmallow fudge looks incredible!

3. tis the season for christmas cookies.  these peanut butter cut-out cookies are so cute!

4. i absolutely love these vintage inspired marquee letter lights by saddle shoe signs.

5. this illustrated comparison of london vs. new york made me laugh.

6. a clever way to pack your suitcase so that your clothes don't wrinkle.

7. a pretty beaded headband for holiday parties.

8. this is a good reminder for all of us.

9. i've seen my fair share of houses that have christmas lights choreographed to music, but i have never seen an entire neighborhood sync their christmas lights together!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, December 11, 2014

winter wonderland

we woke up this morning to find everything outside covered in snow.  it was mighty cold outside while shoveling the driveway and the sidewalk this morning before work.  i'd definitely rather be inside with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a cuddly kitten!  is it summer yet?

love, laurie

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

how to easily fix your no-reply blogger status

i absolutely love receiving comments from my readers, and i try my very best to respond to each comment i receive.  when there is an email attached to a reader's comment i can respond without a problem.  however, there is no way to respond to comments from "no-reply bloggers" because the comments come from a dead-end email address (  if you are a no-reply blogger, the good news is that it's easy to fix your status just by changing a few settings.

if you are using the original blogger profile
- go to your blogger profile
- click on the arrow
- click "blogger profile"
- click "edit profile"
- check the box next to "show my email address"
- make sure your email address is the one where you would like to receive comment replies
- click "save" at the bottom of the page

if you are using google +
- go to your blogger dashboard
- click on the settings wheel below your profile picture
- click "revert to blogger profile"
- click "switch to a limited blogger profile"
- enter your display name
- click "continue to blogger"
- go to your blogger profile
- click on the arrow
- click "blogger profile"
- click "edit profile"
- check the box next to "show my email address"
- make sure your email address is the one where you would like to receive comment replies
- click "save" at the bottom of the page

. . . 

i hope you find this helpful.
as always, i look forward to reading and replying to your comments!

love, laurie

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ten ways to spice up your hot chocolate this season

the weather forecast for the new few days is gross.  we are supposed to get freezing rain today followed by several inches of snow tonight into tomorrow.  weather like this calls for warm hot chocolate.  if you are looking to spice up your hot chocolate this season, this infographic has ten great flavor combinations.

personally, i love the aztec hot chocolate combo.  a little pinch of cayenne pepper adds such a great flavor, and it always reminds me of this classic movie.

ps: how cute are these hot cocoa mix ornaments?  they would make great christmas gifts!

love, laurie

Monday, December 8, 2014

celebrating mom's birthday

on saturday, we went to my parents' house to celebrate my mom's birthday.  it was a cold and rainy day, so we decided to stay in and enjoyed the day inside.  we sat around the dining room table with homemade hot chocolate and played a game of scrabble, which of course ryan won.  he is the reining scrabble champion in our family!

we made homemade pizzas for dinner (one with eggplant and one with broccoli) along with caesar salad.  (i can't believe i didn't take a picture of the finished pizzas!  i guess we were all so excited about eating that we forgot about pictures.  the pizzas were so good!)  for dessert, we had chocolate pie with espresso crust.  ryan and i decorated the top of the pie with butterfly cutouts from the extra pie crust too!

we had such a great time on saturday.  it was so nice getting together with my parents to celebrate my mom's birthday!

happy birthday, mom!
love, laurie