Tuesday, January 27, 2015

sunbathing in january

we woke up to a great surprise on sunday morning . . . the sun was out!!!  it has been so long since we have seen the sun.  i was starting to feel like we were living in perpetual grayness.  

the sun was shining and birds were chirping outside.  it didn't feel like january at all.  it was glorious!  *cue the hallelujah chorus*

it's amazing how great the sun makes you feel (especially when you haven't seen it in such a long time).  we took advantage of the beautiful sunshine while it lasted by bundling up and taking a long walk around our neighborhood.  it was so nice to feel the sun on our faces and to see the freshly fallen snow glistening in the morning sunlight.  it was wonderful!

we weren't the only ones who took advantage of the sunday morning sun.  leko decided to soak it up by sunbathing wherever the sun was shining in the windows.  as the sun moved in the sky, he moved around the house basking in the sunlight coming through each window.  in my opinion, there's nothing as beautiful as seeing the sun rays shine through his gorgeous orange and white fur. the sun made him look like he had a glowing halo around him.  what a cutie!

love, laurie

Monday, January 26, 2015

banana bread pancakes (vegan + gluten free)

we woke up to find six inches of snow on saturday morning.  before we even contemplated bundling up and shoveling, we made a batch of pancakes to start our morning.  priorities.  

we absolutely love banana bread with nuts, and these pancakes taste just like classic banana bread.  they are insanely good!  not only do they taste great, these are some healthy pancakes too!  they are dairy free, egg free, oil free, sugar free, and gluten free.

what's left to put in them?  lots of good stuff!  oats, walnuts, and pecans are ground into a flour to act as the base of these pancakes.  that's combined with ground flax seed meal, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.  then there's almond milk and vanilla.  they get a great flavor from cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and of course we can't forget the star of these pancakes: the banana.

we were so pleasantly surprised by how delicious these pancakes were.  especially without any dairy, eggs, oil, sugar, or gluten.  they take a little bit longer to cook than traditional pancakes, but they are very much worth the wait.  grab a fork and dig in!

banana bread pancakes
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 10-12 minutes
yields: 8 pancakes (2 servings)
adapted from wholehearted eats

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seed meal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 banana

in a food processor, grind the oats into a fine flour.  once they are ground, set the oat flour aside and grind the nuts into a flour.  add the oat flour back into the food processor along with the baking powder, flax seed meal, spices, salt, almond milk, vanilla, and banana.  puree the mixture until smooth and all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.

heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  pour 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for medium pancakes.  cook for 5-6 minutes, until small bubbles begin to form.  flip the pancakes when they start to bubble, then cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked throughout.  once cooked, transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 200 degree F oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancake batter.  serve warm with sliced bananas, walnuts, and warm maple syrup.

love, laurie

Friday, January 23, 2015

baby, it's cold outside!

the other day, andrea wrote on instagram that the days feel long but the weeks feel short.  i totally agree.  janaury has been a blur.  the days certainly feel long at work, but it seems like the weeks are flying right on by . . . and somehow it's friday again.  even though this week was only a four-day work week, it was still an exhausting one.  ryan and i both actually have the day off tomorrow and we are looking forward to being able to relax and to catch up on some sleep before things get crazy again on sunday.  the forecast is calling for more snow this weekend.  i certainly hope it doesn't snow (especially on our day off).  i am so over winter.  spring, where are you?

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, January 22, 2015

almond flavored butter cookies

we're almost done with the leftover christmas cookies at our house.  the end is now in sight.  i swear, i don't know where they all come from!  we made several different types of cookies this holiday, including: chocolate peppermint m&m's cookiesdouble gingersnap cookies, and mocha cookies.  we also made a batch of cut-out cookies too.

although these cookies look like sugar cookies, they're really more of a butter cookie.  these cookies are not at sweet as traditional cut-out sugar cookies.  they have a great almond flavor and a wonderful texture.  they are so tender they just melt right in your mouth!

this dough is soft enough that you could put it through a cookie press to make spritz cookies.  however, you could roll it out to make cut-out cookies like we did.  we cut our cookies in the shape of snowflakes and decorated them with royal icing.  if royal icing isn't your cup of tea, you could leave these cookies plain or you could decorate them with sprinkles or colored sugar.  this recipe is so simple and takes no time to make.  the dough also does not need to be chilled before it is rolled out.  nice and easy!

almond flavored butter cookies
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time: 10-12 minutes
yields: approximately 30 cookies
adapted from very merry cookie party

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  cream the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  beat in the egg yolk, almond extract, and vanilla extract.  in a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  gradually add the sifted flour mixture to the cookie dough.  turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a ball with your hands.  roll the dough out with a rolling pin (about 1/4 inch thick) and cut it into shapes using cookie cutters.  place the cut-out shapes onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  once baked, allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.  decorate as desired.

love, laurie

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

steamtown national historic site

since we had the day off work on monday, ryan's parents came up to visit.  we went out to lunch, and then we went to check out the steamtown national historic site.  steamtown is an old railroad yard that has been turned into a historic site operated by the national park service.  since it was a holiday, steamtown was offering free admission!

it was a cold day outside, so we decided to take advantage of the free admission and take a (mostly) indoor tour of steamtown.  we saw several different types of trains, learned some history about them, and got to see where the trains are repaired, rebuilt, and restored.  it was really neat to see the trains up close and to learn about them.  we are looking forward to going back again in warmer weather to see more of the trains that are outside, and to be able to take a ride on one of the trains too.

love, laurie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

sunday morning bowling date

we had a little bit of free time on sunday morning before ryan had to go to rehearsal for the show that he is currently working on, so we decided to go bowling.  it has been a year since we last went bowling, and we were over due for a little date.  there was hardly anyone at the bowling alley, we practically had the place to ourselves.  we bowled two games, and of course ryan won both.  he's much better than me when it comes to bowling.  it was such a nice little sunday morning date, and a nice inside activity since the weather was so cold outside!

love, laurie

Monday, January 19, 2015

my sleepy little helper

i sat down over the weekend to sew one of the ribbons on my pointe shoes that had come loose during ballet class.  of course leko was right there on my lap to help me.  he just can't resist an opportunity to play with string or thread.  he always gets excited when he sees me bring out the sewing kit.  (he was a huge "help" last spring when i was sewing a set of pot holders.)

all of the sewing must have worn him out, because before i knew it he was passed out on the blanket on my lap with his little turtle catnip toy.  i couldn't resist the cuteness.  luckily i had my phone nearby to snap a picture of him while he slept there so peacefully.

we're excited to have the day off today and leko sure is happy that we're not at work!  hooray for three-day weekends!

love, laurie

Friday, January 16, 2015

fun links

hip hip hooray!  it's friday and it's a three-day weekend!  this past week sure has been busy, and our weekend is pretty busy too, but we are looking forward to having the day off on monday!

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

1. this 10 minute workout is intense.  i tried it and my muscles sure felt it the next morning!

2. people posing with statues.  i remember when ryan posed with a statue of a girl dancing when we were in hawaii.  so funny.

3. i made these granola bars this week and they were so good, we both loved them.  only three ingredients!

4. technology is insane.  now, you can be someone else's eyes.

5. ship your enemies glitter is a new company that mails an envelope full of glitter to the people you hate.  stupid or genius?  you decide.

6. ryan's mom has made several d.i.y. catnip toys for leko over the years and he absolutely loves them.  these d.i.y. cat toys are cute!

7. are you brave enough (or crazy enough) to do this?

8. remember the movie wet hot american summer?  the original cast is getting back together to make an 8-episode netflix series!  (fun fact: that movie was filmed in northeastern pennsylvania in just 28 days, and my brother and i were extras in the movie when we were in high school!)

9. this was by far the best thing i heard all week.  enough said.

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, January 15, 2015

mocha cookies

we're still eating leftover christmas cookies at our house.  we're almost done with them.  i think cookies must multiply around the holiday season.  i don't know where they all come from!

these mocha cookies were one of the types cookies that we made for christmas this year.  they are specked with grated chocolate and espresso granules which makes them both delicious and pretty.

these cookies came together in no time.  they were so easy to make, and they were so good!

mocha cookies
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time: 8-10 minutes
yields: approximately 60 cookies
adapted from very merry cookie party

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup grated bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  cream the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.  mix in the grated chocolate and espresso granules.  gradually mix in the flour and the milk.

scoop 1 teaspoon sized balls of dough and roll them between your hands to make balls.  place the balls of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet.  bake for 8-10 minutes, until they are golden.  once baked, allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

love, laurie

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

three years with leko

january 4th marked three years since we adopted leko.  it's hard to believe that it has already been three years since we brought home our little furry baby.  we absolutely love having leko in our lives, and we can't imagine our lives without him.  he is such a lover, and we sure are proud kitty parents!

if you are in the market for a pet, we highly recommend adopting an animal from a shelter.  there are so many amazing animals out there in need of a good home.  adopting leko was one of the best decisions we have ever made.  he certainly has changed our lives for the better!

love, laurie

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