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Friday, May 29, 2015

cardboard cat maze

if you walk into our house on any given day, you are sure to find a variety of cardboard boxes in various rooms.  the boxes change periodically, but there are usually at least a few boxes hanging out around our house.  no, we're not collecting cardboard for recycling.  leko (like most cats) just loves to play in, on, under, and around boxes.  he even loves "stapling" boxes.  (remember this video of him from 3 years ago?)

right now we have an upside-down box in our kitchen with a hole cut out on one side which is his "garage" and another short squatty box that floats around the downstairs which he uses as a "magic carpet."  upstairs it's no different.  there are two boxes in our home office which are, of course, the "lincoln tunnel" and the "holland tunnel."  we've come to accept this as normal in our house . . . but hey, if it makes the king of the castle happy then who am i to question it!

since we know the fun of boxes with kitties all too well, i just could not stop laughing when i found this video.  i dare not show it to leko or else he will insist that we build this contraption for him!

have a fabulous weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, May 28, 2015

kitten nests

leko can make himself comfortable just about anywhere.  if there's a blanket around, he is sure to find it and to make a "nest" for himself.  i snapped these pictures on my phone a few nights ago of leko in a nest of blankets.  some of the positions he gets into really make me laugh.  i love how even though he was "sleeping" in the picture below, he has one eye just barely open to monitor what i was doing.  silly kitten!  :-)

love, laurie

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

cast-iron skillet pizza

we spent memorial day monday at home.  it was a super productive day with countless hours spent outside working on our yard and our flower beds.  we sure worked up an appetite doing all of that yard work outside in the hot sun.

we both had a hankering for pizza, so we decided to take a break from our yard work and make pizza for lunch.  we had never made pizza in a cast-iron skillet before so we thought we would give it a shot to see how it worked, and it turned out great!  the result was a delicious deep-dish pizza with a fabulous crust that was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

we topped our pizza with marinara sauce, tomatoes, lots of cheese, and sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms.  the flavors worked together so well.

we made two pizzas and polished off a whole one between the two of us for lunch.  (i guess working outside really did make us hungry!)  we saved the second one and had the leftovers last night for dinner.  it reheated perfectly in the microwave.

we loved baking our pizza this way and can't wait to make it like this again.  if you're looking for a different twist on traditional pizza, give cast-iron skillet pizza a try!

cast-iron skillet pizza
prep time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 20-25 minutes
yields: two 12-inch pizzas

1 tablespoon salted butter
1/2 large onion, sliced
6 mini sweet peppers, sliced (red, orange, and yellow)
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
28 oz. pizza dough
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 oz. marinara sauce
8 oz. grape tomatoes
seasonings of choice

saute the sliced onions, peppers, and mushrooms in butter in a pan over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.  remove from the heat and set aside.  allow the pizza dough to come to room temperature (if previously refrigerated or frozen).  preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  separate the dough into two parts and roll the dough out into two 12-inch circles.  grease two 12-inch cast-iron skillets with extra virgin olive oil and place the dough in each greased skillet.  bake the dough for 5 minutes.

remove the skillets from the oven and spread 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on the bottom of each crust.  divide the marinara sauce between the two pizzas, spreading it on top of the cheese.  slice each grape tomato in half and divide the tomatoes between the two pizzas.  spread 1/2 cup of cheese over each pizza.  divide the sauteed vegetables between each pizza and arrange on top of the cheese.  sprinkle with seasonings of choice (i used dried basil, dried oregano, and garlic powder).  bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbling.  serve warm.

love, laurie

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

memorial day weekend 2015

we had a great memorial day weekend!  there's just something about a three-day weekend that is so refreshing.  the weather was absolutely gorgeous all weekend, and we were able to spend the entire weekend outside.  it was so nice!

we kicked off the long weekend on friday after work by going biking on a local trail.  it was the first time we had a chance to take our bikes out this season.  after biking, we stopped at one of our favorite spots for some ice cream.

on saturday, we spent the day with our families.  ryan and i biked on a trail while our parents walked around a local park, then we all went back to ryan's parents' house for a memorial day cookout, followed by some blueberry rhubarb pie that ryan and i made for dessert.

on sunday, we got together with my parents for a picnic lunch at promised land state park.  after lunch we walked around the lake, and later in the day we had dinner on the back deck at my parents' house.

on monday, we stayed at home and spent the entire day doing some much-needed gardening around our yard.  we refreshed our existing flower beds and we created a new flower bed too.  we were outside for hours (and it was exhausting) but our yard looks so good now.

we had a great weekend and it was such a nice way to kick off the summer season!
love, laurie

Monday, May 25, 2015

happy memorial day!

we are so thankful for the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country.

happy memorial day!
love, laurie

Friday, May 22, 2015

hello, three day weekend!

we took this picture last weekend when we were celebrating mother's day with our families.  we are looking forward to seeing our families again this weekend to celebrate memorial day.  i can't believe it's memorial day weekend already.  memorial day always feels like the unofficial start of summer, and i am ready for summer!  we're excited to have the day off work on monday.  i hope the weather is nice for our three-day weekend!

have a wonderful memorial day weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, May 21, 2015

a walk down memory lane

ryan and i had such a great time on our cruise to bermuda two weeks ago.  it was neat to be back in bermuda and to experience the island with ryan since i cruised to bermuda with my family on vacation 10 years ago.

i was flipping through some old photos the other day and found pictures of my brother and me in bermuda during our cruise vacation in 2005.  it was such a nice walk down memory lane to look at these photos, and it was fun to compare them to the photos that ryan and i just took in bermuda.

it's so hard to believe these photos were taken a decade ago!  looking back at these photos is so odd because it partially feels like they were just taken yesterday, and it partially feel like they were taken in another lifetime.  i scanned a few of the old photos to share . . .  

^my dad took a picture of my brother and me in the stocks in the town square in st. george's.  ryan and i took similar photos in the exact same place when we were just in bermuda.^
^my family took a horse-and-carriage ride around bermuda and we got out of the carriage near a lookout point in order to admire the limestone rocks along the coastline.  this old picture reminds me of this picture that ryan and i just took on the limestone rocks at horseshoe bay beach.^
^i remember that it was so cold and a storm was rolling in on the day we took this picture, but we were determined to get in the water and swim.  it was really cold and overcast when ryan and i were in bermuda too.  luckily the weather cleared up for a little while when we took this picture at the beach.^
^while we were in bermuda, we visited the grotto bay resort.  there was a swim-up bar/grill in the pool and we thought that was the coolest thing.^
^i'm telling you, the hibiscus flowers in bermuda just can't be beat!  this picture was taken on the property of the grotto bay resort.  seeing the bright pink hibiscus flowers growing wild all over bermuda during our recent trip reminded me of the pink flowers at the grotto bay resort.^
^my family got off our cruise ship one night after dinner while we were docked in hamilton to walk around the town.  we visited victoria park and took at picture in front of the moongate at the edge of the park.  when ryan and i were in hamilton we also went to victoria park and took a picture in front of the exact same moongate.^

. . .

it's so fun to look back at old photos.  going through these photos made me realize that i should really start scanning some of our old photos that we took before we had digital cameras.  that would be a good summer project, but there are so many photos that it would probably take me years to scan them all!

love, laurie

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

the healing power of cat purrs

The healing power of cat purrs
by Gemma.

it's no secret that i'm a cat lover.  so, when i found this infographic on the internet i just had to share it.  i've always said that cats have healing powers!  have a great day and love a kitty, it's good for your health!

love, laurie

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

nectarine dutch baby

we walked into the grocery store this weekend and we were greeted by a display of beautiful nectarines.  they look and smelled amazing so we just couldn't resist picking up a few.  i woke up on sunday morning thinking about those gorgeous nectarines sitting on our kitchen counter and i knew that i had to incorporate them into sunday morning breakfast.

this dutch baby is so light and tender and the fresh nectarine slices give it such a delicious flavor that tastes just like summer.  this is a super quick recipe to throw together.  just pour the batter into the hot skillet and let the oven do all of the work.  nice and easy for a sunday morning!

nectarine dutch baby
prep time: 5 minutes
baking time: 18-20 minutes
yields: one 10-inch dutch baby (2 large servings)
adapted from one vanilla bean

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon salted butter
1 small ripe nectarine

preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  while your oven is preheating, place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to warm it up.  in a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla.  beat with an electric hand mixer until frothy and no lumps remain.  remove the cast-iron skillet from the oven and place the butter in the skillet.  allow the warm skillet to melt the butter completely then evenly swirl the butter around the bottom and the sides of the skillet.  pour the batter into the skillet and place thin nectarine slices on top of the batter.  bake for 18-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  remove from the oven and serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar or with warm maple syrup.

love, laurie

Monday, May 18, 2015

celebrating mother's day

on saturday we got together with our families for a belated mother's day celebration (since we were away on our cruise over mother's day weekend).  we went out for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then had orange cupcakes for dessert.  it was so nice to be able to sit and visit with everyone without having to run anywhere.  it was very relaxing and the whole day was so nice.  we had a great time celebrating mother's day with our parents this weekend!

love, laurie

Friday, May 15, 2015

norwegian breakaway cruise to bermuda - part 5

i hope you have enjoyed seeing so many pictures this past week from our cruise to bermuda.  (this is the last batch of pictures, i promise!)  we really had such a great time.  while we were docked in bermuda for three days we made sure to squeeze in as much as we could.  we took the public buses and water ferries all over to see as much of the island as possible.

in addition to spending time at horseshoe bay beach and in the city of hamilton, we also visited the town of st. george's, st. david's island, and numerous beaches, including: tobacco bay beach, clearwater beach, turtle beach, elbow beach, and snorkel park beach.  here are a few more pictures from our time in bermuda . . .

^we took a water ferry to visit the quaint historic town of st. george's.  walking the stone streets was like taking a step back in time.^
^these pretty purple flowers were growing all over st. george's.  i'm not sure what type of flower they are, but i love the bright color!^
^while in st. george's, we walked around the town square and we visited the town hall.  the town of st. george's is the oldest continuously occupied town of english origin in the new world.  i had to take pictures of us in the stocks outside the town hall because i have a picture of my brother and me doing the exact same thing in the same spot 10 years ago when we were in bermuda on vacation.^
^i still can't get over the fact that hibiscus flowers grow wild all over bermuda.  i wish we could figure out a way to have them survive year round in pennsylvania!^
^we weren't intending to visit bermuda's famous unfinished church, but we stumbled across it while we were walking around the town of st. george's.  the incomplete gothic ruins are a landmark in the town.  although the construction work of the church was started, it was never completed and now the ruins are a protected historic monument.  it was equally beautiful and spooky to be there.^
^just beyond the unfinished church is tobacco bay beach.  although it was much too cold to swim in the water when we were there, we enjoyed walking around and admiring the beach's beauty.  we also made friends with two resident kitties at the beach!^
^i'm telling you, the flowers that grow wild in bermuda are gorgeous!^
^clearwater beach and turtle beach are adjacent beaches on st. david's island.  it took forever to get there since we had to transfer buses several times and hike a distance to get out to the beaches, but it was worth it for the views of the beautiful blue water.^

love, laurie

. . . 

you can see more photos from our bermuda cruise here: part 1part 2part 3, and part 4