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Friday, August 30, 2013

have a great weekend!

i found this picture on pinterest a few days ago and i just could not stop laughing.  look at those ladies in the front!  they are too much.  i also love how serious the ladies are in the back.  are they even on the same ride?

the caption on the picture read: "you can choose to live in the front row or the third row."

have a wonderful labor day weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, August 29, 2013

look, we grew a tomato!

in the beginning of the summer, ryan's mom gave us two tomato plants from her garden.  we have been taking care of them and doing our best not to kill them.  after several weeks of waiting patiently, we finally have our first tomato!

we have four other tomatoes that are growing on our plants too.  right now they are still green, but hopefully they will turn red soon.  they will go perfectly with the fresh basil that we have been growing.  yum!  nothing beats a homegrown tomato!

what did you grow in your garden this summer?
love, laurie

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

the west end fair

yesterday after work, we took a trip to the west end fair with my mom.

we always look forward to the west end fair each year.  while we were there, we had some great fair food for dinner, then we walked around to see the animals.

i just love seeing all of the different animals.  i couldn't believe that there were real lemurs at the fair this year!  it was really neat to see them in person.

^the llama's name was barack ollama!^

love, laurie

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

come on summer, hang on for just a little bit longer!

i always think of memorial day as the start of summer, the fourth of july as the middle of summer, and labor day as the end of summer.  with labor day weekend just a few days away, i am finding it hard to believe that the summer is almost over!  this summer has been a good one, but it has gone by entirely too fast.

fall semester classes started yesterday at the university where i work.  all day students, faculty, staff, and administration had a glazed-over look as they tried to acclimate themselves to the new school year.  it always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things.  in the mean time, we will just have people running around campus this week like human squirrels (as ryan likes to call them).

i absolutely love the fall, but i am not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet.  at least my portulaca plant in my office at work is still flowering!  i guess my little plant is not quite ready for fall yet either.

love, laurie

Monday, August 26, 2013

among other things, our weekend looked a little bit like this . . .

this weekend sure was a busy one.  among other things, we went to an engagement party for ryan's cousin on saturday, and we went to a christening for our friends' baby boy on sunday.  i can't believe monday is here already.  where did the weekend go?!

hope everyone had a great weekend!
happy monday!

love, laurie

Friday, August 23, 2013

rhubarb pie and fun links

the other day, one of my coworkers gave us a ton of rhubarb from her garden.  so, last night ryan and i made two rhubarb pies with all of the rhubarb that she gave us.  we brought one pie into work today to share with our coworkers, and we saved the second pie to share with our family.

in other news, it's friday!  i feel like this week flew by so fast.  i can't believe that the weekend is already here.  this weekend sure is going to be a busy one.  starting tonight, our weekend is jam packed straight through to sunday night.  i'm exhausted already just thinking about all of the running around we have in store for us this weekend.  wheph.  since it's friday, here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

a neat space saver for your computer desk

very cool patterned sushi

how to build your own sprinkler for hot days

can you imagine the tan lines that you would get from wearing this sharkini

something tells me that leko would not want to do this

i absolutely love these pictures of ballet dancers in random places

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, August 22, 2013

fluffy white sandwich bread

white sandwich bread is a staple in most households.  it's perfect for toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tuna fish sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches . . . you get the picture.

sure, it's quick and easy to just pick up a loaf of bread at the grocery store, but have you ever read the list of ingredients on the back of the bag?  often there's a whole bunch of stuff that you can even pronounce on that label.

luckily, it's super easy to make your own white sandwich bread at home from just a few simple ingredients that you will have no problem pronouncing.  it's important to know what you are putting into your body.

homemade bread.  is there anything better?  you just can't beat the smell of bread baking on a weekend morning.  it's heavenly.  it fills the whole house with a warm and cuddly feeling.

this bread recipe has become a favorite in our house.  i made a loaf of this bread on saturday morning to use for sandwiches for lunch.  it is the perfect white sandwich bread recipe because it produces a loaf of bread with a crusty crust (crusty crust . . . you know, a technical baking term) and it is super fluffy inside.

it's oh so fluffy.  just look at that beautiful fluff . . .

this bread is so easy to make.  there are just a few simple ingredients, and you can pronounce them all.  from start to finish the whole thing is done in just over 1 hour.  talk about quick.

so, if your tired of ingredients that you cannot pronounce on your store-bough loaf of white sandwich bread, this is the recipe for you!

fluffy white sandwich bread
prep time: 15 minutes
rise time: 40 minutes
baking time 20 minutes
adapted from yammie's noshery

2 tablespoons active-dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt

in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, gently stir together the yeast, sugar, warm water, and oil.  let it sit for 5 minutes.  in a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.  add the sifted flour a little at a time, and mix with a dough hook.  once the flour is incorporated, knead the dough for 5 minutes in the stand mixer.  remove the dough from the mixer and knead the dough by hand for an additional 3-5 minutes on a lightly floured surface.

place the dough in a greased bowl, and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, until doubled.  once doubled, punch the dough down and form it into a log.  put the dough into a well-greased loaf pan, and let the dough rise for 10 minutes.

preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  use a serrated knife to make 3 diagonal slices in the top of the dough.  bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  once the bread is baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before slicing.

love, laurie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

a bridal shower for jenn

this weekend sure was a busy one!  after ryan's birthday party on saturday, i went to a bridal shower for my friend jenn on sunday.  jenn and i have known each other since fifth grade, but we now live several hours away from each other.  it was nice to be able to celebrate this special day with jenn and to see her family again.

the shower was at blair vineyards.  this was my first time at a vineyard, and i couldn't get over the acres upon acres of grape vines.

  ^my goodness, there were so many rows of grape vines^  
^jenn with her mom and her cousin^
^the shower was wine themed (of course) so jenn's future mother-in-law 
made a cake to fit the theme^ 
 ^since i love to bake, my gift to jenn was baking themed: a cake sever, a cake pan, a whisk set, and a wooden spoon all from her registry.  everyone was given a pink card in order to write down their favorite memory with the bride.  there were no names allowed on the memory cards, and jenn had to read the memories in order to guess who each gift was from . . . but, before she even read my memory she guessed the gift was from me because she recognized my handwriting.  (maybe i should have had ryan fill out the memory card!)^
congratulations, jenn!
love, laurie

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ryan's checkerboard birthday cake

for ryan's seashore themed birthday party over the weekend, we made a checkerboard cake.

in order to make the checkerboard cake, we made four layers of cake: two chocolate and two peanut butter.  once the cakes baked and cooled, we cut two circles into each layer of cake.  (we used the rim of a small plate and the rim of a small juice glass in order to make the cuts uniform.)

we carefully separated the three circles from each layer of cake, and then we put them back together alternating the chocolate and the peanut butter.  the cut-out circles fit together perfectly.

we stacked the layers on top of each other, alternating colors.  then, we put a thin layer of peanut butter frosting between each layer and covered the entire cake with the peanut butter frosting.

the peanut butter frosting was perfect for this cake because it looked like the color of sand.  we decorated the top of the cake with seashells that ryan made out of fondant to go with the theme of his birthday party.

after we cut into the cake and reveled that it was a checkerboard cake, my mom told us that she has a checkerboard cake pan set at home.  (now you tell us!)  we look forward to trying my mom's cake pan set to see how it works.

this was our first attempt making a checkerboard cake, and we can't wait to try it again.  however, the next time we make a checkerboard cake, there are two things that we will do different.

first, we will make the center cut-out circle larger, because when we cut the cake it was too thin and fell apart.  (you can see in the picture below that there are only two rows instead of three.)

second, we will put a thin layer of frosting inside of each cut-out circle in order to hold the the circles together better when cutting the cake.

have you ever made a checkerboard cake?  
if so, i'd love to hear how it went!

love, laurie

Monday, August 19, 2013

a seashore themed birthday party for ryan

on saturday, we celebrated ryan's birthday with our families.

this year, ryan wanted a seashore themed party.  (last year, ryan had a clam bake themed party.  i'm sensing a pattern here.)  we decorated with seashells that we found from various trips that we have taken to the beach, and we wrapped the forks, knives, and spoons with twine and lifesavers.  for dinner, we had shrimp cocktail, fish and chips, tarter sauce, hush puppies, coleslaw, and iced tea.  it was the perfect summer party menu.  we felt like we were right at the seashore.

for dessert, ryan wanted a checkerboard cake.  we alternated layers of chocolate cake and peanut butter cake and covered the whole thing with peanut butter frosting.  yum!  the peanut butter frosting was the same color as sand, so it worked perfectly with our theme.  ryan made the most amazing seashell decorations for the top of the cake out of fondant.  (he sure is talented, that one!)  it was so pretty and absolutely delicious too.

after we ate, ryan opened his presents and we talked with everyone until it was dark outside.  we had such a great time celebrating ryan's birthday this weekend with our families!

hope everyone had a great weekend!
love, laurie