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Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: our year in review

so much has happened in the last 12 months.  some things good and some things bad.  (but, mostly good.)  here is a little review of our 2011 . . .

in the winter . . .
- we celebrated my birthday.
- i passed my qualifying exam for the doctoral program.
- i successfully defended my paper.

in the spring . . .
- we attended ryan's high-school friend's wedding.
- we sadly said goodbye to ryan's grandfather.
- we both started new positions at work.
- i finished all of my doctoral classes!

in the summer . . . 
- i drove to boston for a research conference at harvard medical college.
- we bought a temporary pool for our back yard.
- we marked the milestone of owning our first home for one year.
- we celebrated ryan's grandmother's 90th birthday with a surprise party.
- we took a cruise to canada for a vacation with my parents.
- we had our one year wedding anniversary.
- we celebrated ryan's birthday with an iphone-themed cake.
- we fell in love with our new iphones.

in the fall . . .
- we saw one of the last scranton/wilkes-barre yankees baseball games at pnc field before the stadium undergoes renovations over the next year.
- we started a blog.
- we visited both roba's family farm and quiet valley.
- we found new walking trails to enjoy in our area.
- we took a trip to corning, new york to see the corning museum of glass.
- we worked on perfecting some of our recipes.
- we gave our friend kelly cooking lessons and baking lessons.
- we had a very happy halloween with 170 trick-or-treaters at our door.
- we celebrated my dad's birthday.
- we hosted thanksgiving at our house.
- ryan's brother and sister-in-law came up to visit for thanks-christmas.

toward the end of 2011 . . . 
- i attended my first bead bash.
- we threw my mom a surprise hawaiian luau themed 60th birthday party.
- we had a very merry christmas.

i hope everyone had a great 2011!

happy new year!
love, laurie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

fun links {holiday edition}

{the fun way ryan displayed some of the christmas cards that we received}

. . .

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

a clever way to display the christmas cards that you received this holiday.

what to do with your old light bulbs.

reindeer cookies made from upside down gingerbread cut outs. 

a cute penguin-themed appetizer for a winter party.

amazing snow sculptures that put the average snow man to shame. 

diy chalkboard mug to help you keep track of your hot chocolate.

a fun midnight snack inspired by the new year's eve ball in times square.

new year's eve themed ball drop cupcakes.

happy holidays!
love, laurie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

holiday breakfast casserole

we made this easy breakfast casserole for christmas morning this year.  this recipe is so forgiving because you can add any combination of vegetables and/or meat to it that you desire.  one of the reasons that we love this recipe so much is because we can assemble it the night before and refrigerate it overnight.  that way, in the morning all we have to do is pop it in the oven and let it bake!

. . .

cut 5-6 english muffins into small cubes and place in a 9x13 baking dish.
 drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the english muffins.

add diced onion, red pepper, and green pepper.

add 1 cup of cheddar cheese to the top of the vegetables.
in a separate bowl, whisk together 10 large eggs and 2 cups of milk.

optional: in a saute pan, brown ground sausage to add to the casserole.

add the cooked sausage on top of the cheese.
pour the egg mixture over the entire casserole.

cover and refrigerate overnight to let the
egg mixture absorb into the english muffins.

remove the casserole from the refrigerator
and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
bake the casserole for 50-60 minutes,
or until the egg mixture is completely cooked.

love, laurie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

how to: holiday centerpiece {by ryan}

when ryan was younger, he used to love making the centerpieces at his church around the holidays.  so, for christmas this year, ryan decided to make a festive centerpiece for the coffee table in our living room.  (i never knew my husband had this hidden talent!)  ryan used fresh evergreen and pine from the trees in our backyard, and we bought the rest of our supplies at michael's for just $6.29!  talk about a reasonably priced centerpiece!

for this project, you will need:
- a large plate
- small hand pruners
- fresh evergreen and/or pine
- pine cones
- dry floral foam
- water
- decorations such as holly berries, christmas ornaments, etc.

. . .

step 1: soak a piece of dry floral foam in water,
and place it in the center of your plate.

step 2: cut pieces of evergreen/pine and secure them in the foam.

step 3: continue adding layers of evergreen/pine to the foam.  

step 4: alternate with different types of greenery.

step 5: be sure to completely cover the foam with the evergreen/pine.

step 6: add pine cones and seasonal decorations

step 7: have fun cleaning up the left over branches and needles :-)

step 8: enjoy!

 happy holidays!
love, laurie and ryan

Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas weekend

we had a wonderful christmas weekend.  on saturday, we went to my parents' house for christmas eve, and on sunday everyone came to our house for christmas day.  we had a ton of fun cooking, baking, exchanging presents, and spending quality time with our families.  here are a few pictures from our christmas weekend.

{our christmas card}

 {christmas eve dinner at my parents' house}

 {my mom's mini cherry cheesecakes}

 {christmas eve with my kitty at my parents' house}

{christmas morning at our house}

{opening presents on christmas morning}

{this gift bag lights up and plays music}

{pretending to be mary poppins with my new umbrella}

{our stockings hung on our front door}

{table place cards that we made for each person for christmas dinner}

i hope everyone had a lovely christmas!

merry christmas!
love, laurie

Friday, December 23, 2011

merry christmas!

we're all wrapped up in holiday cheer over here!
have a very merry christmas!
love, ryan and laurie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

bits of happiness {holiday edition}

here are . . . 
ten things that make me happy at this time of the year: 

10. smelling christmas cookies baking in the oven
9. receiving christmas cards in the mail
8. spending time with family and friends
7. carrying on holiday traditions
6. singing along to christmas music on the radio
5. looking out across fresh snow before anyone has walked in it
4. driving around the neighborhood to see christmas lights and decorations
3. watching national lampoon's christmas vacation for the millionth time
2. seeing the look on my husband's face when he unwraps gifts
1. remembering back to when we got engaged on christmas day 2007

. . . 

what is currently making you happy?
love, laurie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

christmas cookies

we got a jump start on baking christmas cookies this week so that we could bring some into work to share with our co-workers and wrap some up to give to our family and friends.  this year we decided to be daring and we put aside all of our traditional favorite recipes.  instead, and we tried all new cookie recipes . . . 

we made chocolate chip cookies using this recipe

we made gingerbread cut-out cookies using this recipe

we made chocolate peppermint wafer cookies (again) using this recipe

we made peanut butter cookies using an adapted version of this recipe

we made sugar cookies using this recipe

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas!

christmas is one of my favorite holidays, and i love all of the sights and smells that come with the season.  here are a few things that are currently making it feel like christmas . . . 

{a festive outdoor christmas tree lit up at night}

{an elaborate gingerbread village}

{december fireworks}

{driving around our neighborhood at night to look at christmas lights}

{candy canes}

{gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven}

Monday, December 19, 2011

my top ten christmas songs

when i was little, i watched christmas eve on sesame street probably a million times.  my favorite part of the movie was in the very beginning, when big bird ice skated with the little girl to the song feliz navidad.  i watched it over and over and over, and my mom "ice skated" with me in our living room over and over and over.  my mom would pick me up and twirl me around just like big bird did with the little girl in the movie.  i'm surprised i did not wear out that vhs tape, or wear a hole in the carpet from so much twirling.  ever since then, every time i hear the song felize navidad, i think of my mom twirling me around in our living room with big bird ice skating in the background.  needless to say, it is now one of my all-time favorite christmas songs.  here are some of my other favorite christmas songs that i love to listen to each year . . .

1. o holy night
2. carol of the bells
3. all i want for christmas is you
4. have yourself a merry little christmas
5. sleigh ride
6. rockin' around the christmas tree
7. jingle bell rock
8. have a holly jolly christmas
9. white christmas
10. it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

(i also love mele kalikimaka too)
what are your favorite christmas songs?

Friday, December 16, 2011

fun links

{a very, very old picture of us on our computers in college}

isn't it amazing what you can find on the internet?  here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

chatty cheese servers for the cheese tray at your next party.

soup and cracker mugs that would be great for eating at your desk.

unique iphone docking stations (the tree trunk one is pretty cool).

an illuminated dog leash for walking your dog at night.

the coolest sofa/bunk-bed combination ever.

happy friday!
love, laurie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

toasted marshmallows

having a gas stove certainly has its perks.
especially for making s'mores with toasted marshmallows!
i like to remove the cast iron grates from the stove
so i can really toast the marshmallows.
and, ryan likes them on fire :-)

want another good idea for using toasted marshmallows besides s'mores?
(but watch out, this recipe makes it super sweet!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

my top ten christmas movies

believe it or not, before i started dating ryan, i had never seen national lampoon's christmas vacation.  it's a tradition in ryan's family to watch it every year for christmas.  (his entire family can pretty much recite the movie line-by-line because they have seen it so many times!)  after i saw it once, it was hooked, and now i can't imagine a christmas going by without watching it.  here are some of my all time favorite christmas movies that i love to watch each year . . .

ryan loves a charlie brown christmas too!
what are your favorite christmas movies?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

buttermilk belgian waffles

when i was little, my mom always made waffles in her heart-shaped waffle iron.  i loved that waffle iron so much because it chirped like a bird when the waffles were ready.  it looked like this and made waffles like this.  ryan and i have been using my mom's heart-shaped waffle iron for the past several years, and i was so sad when it finally died a few months ago.  

ryan's brother and sister-in-law recently bought us a new waffle iron that looks like this.  it flips around (like the waffle irons at hotels) and it makes big belgian waffles.  unfortunately, it doesn't chirp like a bird when the waffles are done, so i have to keep a close eye on them and make my own sound effects.  on sunday, we made buttermilk belgian waffles.  i can't think of a better way to start a sunday morning!  

buttermilk belgian waffles
prep time: 5 minutes
baking time: about 5-7 minutes each
yields: 4 Belgian waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter

preheat your waffle iron.  melt the butter in the microwave.  in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, buttermilk, and eggs.  mix the melted butter into the batter.  pour approximately 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of batter into your waffle iron (depending on the size of your waffle iron).  cook until the waffles are golden brown on both sides.  serve hot with maple syrup.

love, laurie