Monday, November 30, 2015

a lovely long thanksgiving weekend


the long thanksgiving weekend was much needed, and we savored every moment of it.  we got the opportunity to sleep in several mornings in a row (which is something that never happens).  we spent lots of time with our family, and we got to see a friend who was here for the weekend visiting from out of town too.  we ate entirely too much, caught up on some of the shows we had recorded on our dvr, and spent lots of time cuddling leko!

yesterday we capped off our long holiday weekend by packing away all of our fall decor.  we set up our christmas tree and decorated the house for christmas, followed by a bit of christmas shopping.  we're officially ready for december now!

hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving weekend!
love, laurie

Friday, November 27, 2015

thanksgiving 2015


we had a great thanksgiving yesterday at my parent's house!  we enjoyed spending the day helping my mom cook, eating, and relaxing with family and friends.  hope your thanksgiving was lovely too!

love, laurie

. . . 

past thanksgivings: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Thursday, November 26, 2015

happy thanksgiving!


happy thanksgiving!  we have so many things to be thankful for and it is so nice to have a day set aside each year to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives.  we are looking forward to cooking with my mom, spending time with our family, and of course eating way too much today!

have a lovely thanksgiving!
love, laurie

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thanksgiving break, here we come!

we are thrilled for thankgiving break starting after work today!  we're off work tomorrow and friday and we don't have any crazy plans for this weekend, so we're super excited about that!

leko is also looking forward to having us around too.  i snapped this picture of him the other day when i was photographing my pointe shoes.  he was sitting on the dining room table watching my every move (and watching the ribbons move on my shoes).  i might have had to pull the pointe shoe ribbons out of his mouth once or twice!  he's such a good supervisor.

hope everyone has a wonderful thanksgiving!
love, laurie

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

new pointe shoes!

when we went to nyc last weekend, i was thrilled to get a new pair of pointe shoes.  dance shoes don't stay clean and pretty for very long, so i thought i would take a few pictures of my new shoes before they get filthy.  did you know that a professional ballerina can go through 80-120 pairs of pointe shoes in just one season?!  that is a lot of elastic and ribbon sewing for sure!

here are a few other fun ballet facts:
- a prima ballerina can complete 32 fouette turns while staying in the exact same spot on the floor.
- the pain threshold of ballerinas to non-ballerinas is 3:1.
- it can take 60-90 hours to make a professional-grade tutu.

in other ballet-related news, i started watching flesh and bone this week and boy is it intense!  the story line is a bit much, but the dancing is lovely to watch.  looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

my old shoes fell apart on me.  all of the inside lining ripped out, the heel on one of the shoes fell off, the drawstring came out of its casing, i wore holes through the toes and heels of both shoes, and the soles came off because the glue gave out.  they're so old, they owe me nothing.  just for fun, a few side-by-side comparison shots of my old and new pointe shoes . . .

happy dancing!
love, laurie

Monday, November 23, 2015

juicing

the holiday season has arrived and with it comes lots of food.  it's no secret that we love to eat, but it's important to keep a good balance.  in addition to old fashioned exercise, we love juicing.  over the weekend we made a trip to the grocery store and loaded up on fresh fruits/veggies which we made into several different juices.

juicing is so easy and healthy.  the best part is that there pretty much aren't any rules and you can create any type of concoction that you can dream up.  you don't have to follow a recipe or exact measurements.  each juice is different.  we love hitting up the farmers markets in the warmer months and loading up on lots of fresh fruits and veggies to put through the juicer.  in the cooler months, we see what looks best at the grocery store and go from there.

the juicer that we use is a breville juice fountain plus and we absolutely love it.  our all-time favorite juice recipe is this carrot apple ginger juice.  we also really love this carrot, apple, ginger, cucumber, and kale juice too.

one staple that we always have on hand is a 5 lb. bag of carrots in our fridge.  we put carrots in almost every juice that we make because we love them so much.  they have a great color and are full of beta-carotene.  in addition to carrots, here are some other ingredients that we love to throw in our juicer . . .

apples - apples are great for naturally sweetening up juices that might otherwise be sour or bitter.

ginger - ginger is awesome.  it can alleviate gastrointestinal distress, it has anti-inflammatory effects, and it can help reduce cancer.

red and gold beets - no matter their color, beets are a good source of phytonutrients called betalains which are great for detoxing.

citrus - lemons and limes can help to strengthen your immune system, cleanse your stomach, and purify your blood!

leafy greens - spinach and kale are full of vitamins and minerals.  parsley is full of iron and has anti-inflammatory properties as well.

celery - celery stalks are full of antioxidants and celery is considered to be one of the world's healthiest foods!

cucumbers - cucumbers are full of both water and fiber, and they taste wonderfully fresh.

ps: need more proof that juicing is great?  here are two juicing documentaries that we really enjoyed: fat, sick, and nearly dead chronicles a man's personal mission to regain his health by vowing to only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days.  in addition, fat, sick, and nearly dead 2 presents realistic solutions to make long-term sustainable improvements to eating behaviors and overall health.

happy juicing!
love, laurie

Friday, November 20, 2015

snapshots of life lately, according to my iphone pictures

. . . and ryan's iphone too.


follow along with us on instagram
love, laurie

Thursday, November 19, 2015

thanksgiving survival guide

the countdown is on . . . thanksgiving is one week from today!  if you are hosting thanksgiving this year and want to keep your sanity intact, here is a day-by-day guide that spreads the work out over a week to make thanksgiving day a breeze.

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving
{infographic source}

happy planning!
love, laurie

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

cuddly kitten

ryan and i are big fans of dancing with the stars, and we look forward to watching it every monday night.  we're not the only ones who enjoy it though.  leko loves that we are captive for 2 hours straight.  without fail, every monday night he joins us for the show and curls up on our laps for a nice long 2 hour nap. i just couldn't resist snapping a picture of him on my phone this monday.  he was sacked out and looked especially comfortable and cuddly!

love, laurie

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

sunday in the city

i mentioned before that i got back into taking ballet classes last september after a several year hiatus.  i have absolutely loved taking lessons again, but this past year really did a number on my old pointe shoes.  i dug in my heels and refused to buy myself a new pair of pointe shoes all last year because i didn't want to admit that mine were dead, but after dancing so hard on them for the recital this past june they officially kicked the bucket.  they are so old and really owe me nothing.  a few weeks ago i finally convinced myself it was time for a new pair.

on sunday, we took a quick trip to nyc.  as soon as we arrived in the city we headed straight down to chelsea.  my absolute favorite brand of pointe shoes are gaynor mindens and the gaynor minden boutique is located in a historic brownstone in chelsea.  i called the boutique a few weeks ago to schedule an appointment for a fitting because i knew that i would need to change the sizing/fit of my shoes.  having a private fitting at gaynor minden in nyc was a dream come true!  once we got there we made our way through the wrought iron doors, rang the buzzer, and entered the showroom in the residential apartment building.  it was so discreet and felt like we were entering a secret club or something.  we had the boutique all to ourselves and it was so nice.  i got to take my time making sure i found the shoes that were just right for me.  (they have over 3,000 different combinations with all of the different options for length, width, box, shank, vamp, and heel!)  i left there with a new pair of pointe shoes (and a pretty awesome bag too).  i couldn't resist posing in an arabesque with my new bag on the way out!

^since we were in chelsea, we ran though chelsea market to pick up some oil and vinegar from the filling station because we were all out at home.  i always love seeing the lights at chelsea market.^
^we worked up quite an appetite, so we headed to grab something to eat as soon as we left chelsea.  we walked down to the west village and had a lovely and leisurely sunday brunch at hummus place.  i ordered the spinach shakshuka and ryan had the falafel sandwich.  it turned out to be so much food, we couldn't believe it!  they certainly are generous with their portions, and boy was it all filling!^
^everyone has been raving about sockerbit lately, so we popped in to see what all of the fuss was about while we were in the west village.  the shop is filled with all different types of scandinavian sweets and you can create your own candy bag from the assortment of little sweets.  we picked out a few unusual things to try (like caramel marshmallow mushrooms).  we're not big candy eaters, but it's a neat novelty.^
^dough made it's way from brooklyn to manhattan and we are thrilled.  on our way back to midtown we stopped in dough in the flatiron district and picked up two doughnuts to bring home with us: pumpkin and lemon meringue!^
^we hopped on the subway and zipped up to midtown and made a quick pit stop in the shops at columbus circle to see the christmas stars hanging in the lobby.  i just love seeing them every year.^

before leaving the city, we headed up to the upper west side to grab a few things from trader joes.  oh my goodness, trader joe's on the u.w.s. on a sunday evening is no joke!  the line was out the building and wrapped around the corner!  luckily it moved really fast.  (hey, trader joe's, please open a store closer to our house!)

we wanted to grab something light, healthy, and quick for dinner which we could eat on the way home.  i had heard that sweet green was supposed to open a location on the u.w.s. in november but i didn't know when, so we took our chances and stopped by to see if they were open yet.  it turned out that they didn't actually open for two more days, but they were having a test run soft opening for the employees that night so they could learn the menu and such.  so, all salad dinners were free!!!  what?!  we each got a salad and a drink for free.  it was awesome.  thank you nyc, and welcome to the u.w.s. sweet green!

since we were up there, i peeked around the corner on 74th to see if i could pop into levain to grab a cookie for the way home but their line was out the door and down the sidewalk too.  (seriously, what was going on sunday night?!)  we didn't have enough time to wait, so we substituted with a double chocolate peppermint cookie from pret-a-manger instead.  it was good, but it wasn't levain.  (i guess it will just give me something to look forward to the next time we're in the city!)

overall, it was a super quick trip, but we had a great time.  when we got home i realized that i hardly took any pictures which is so unusual for me.  oh well, the weather was great and we had a great sunday in the city!

love, laurie

Monday, November 16, 2015

prints from alexa z design


i have been following alexa and her adorable family via her blog for several years.  alexa is a talented self-taught graphic designer who creates hand lettered and illustrated prints, greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and more which she sells via her shop.

i was thrilled when alexa sent me two of her prints to enjoy.  each print was packaged in a cello sleeve with cardboard and shipped in a flat, sturdy mailer.  they are so bright and colorful and really cheer me up whenever i see them.

i chose to frame the 5x7 "go the extra mile, it's never crowded" print and put it on my desk in my office right next to my computer.  i love the simplicity of it, and it looks great with the other simple white elements on my desk.  the saying is such a great motivational reminder every time i look at it!


instead of framing the 8x10 "have courage and be kind" print, i chose to display it with a small binder clip.  i kept the cardboard backing behind the print for support and hung the binder clip on a small nail on the wall in my office.  i especially love this print because it is a quote from cinderella, and i have had the chance to play the role of cinderella twice.  whenever i see this print it is a nice reminder of both times i portrayed cinderella on stage.  i hung it right by the door to my office, right above the light switch, so that i see it whenever i come and go.  it's such a nice reminder of how to live life.


if you are looking for whimsical prints to decorate your home and/or your office space, be sure to check out alexa's shop.

you can also follow along with alexa here: blog / instagram / twitterfacebook

love, laurie

. . .

*please note: this is a sponsored post in collaboration with alexa z design.  however, the content of this post is based solely on my own personal opinion and experience.

Friday, November 13, 2015

triple apple oat muffins

i needed to throw together a quick treat for a co-worker's birthday this week.  i was short on time, so i decided to whip up a batch of muffins.

it just so happened that we had a bowl full of fresh apples sitting on our kitchen table.  we also had a fresh container of apple cider in the fridge as well as some homemade applesauce in there too.  thus, triple apple oat muffins!

these muffins have such an amazing apple flavor.  how could they not?  they are really packed full of apple goodness!  they have diced apples, applesauce, and apple cider in them.  it's not possible to get much more apple favor than that!

the muffins have pieces of apples in every bite and they are wonderfully moist.  the oats give them a little something special too.  they are the perfect fall treat!

triple apple oat muffins
prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 10 minutes
baking time: 20 minutes
yields: 12-14 muffins
adapted from annie's eats

ingredients:
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 medium apples
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup old fashioned oats

directions:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat.  swirl occasionally until the butter is a deep golden brown color, be careful to to burn it.  once browned, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

peel, core, and dice the apples.  add the apples to a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the apple cider, 1/4 of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg.  cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened (about 8-10 minutes). remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, vanilla, applesauce, egg, and remaining 1/3 cup of the apple cider.  mix in the cooled melted butter.  in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, allspice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  add the sifted dry ingredients all at once to the batter along with the oats.  mix just until combined.  use a spatula to fold in the cooked apples.

scoop the batter into the cups of a greased muffin pan.  top with a few oats.  bake for 20 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean.  allow the muffins to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing them from the pans and transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

enjoy!
love, laurie

Thursday, November 12, 2015

kitten cuddles

leko is always a lover, but he gets especially cuddly when it starts getting colder outside.  he loves sitting on our laps wherever we are: in bed, on the couch, even eating morning cereal!  of course, we don't mind at all.  we just love his kitten cuddles.

here are two pictures that ryan snapped on his phone recently of leko napping on his lap.  this little guy sure knows how to make himself comfortable!

it's a dark, cool, and rainy day today.  it was really hard to get myself motivated to get out of bed to go to work.  i'd much rather be at home cuddling up with our little fur baby!

love, laurie

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

veterans day


for the past few years, the student veterans alliance at the university where i work has displayed thousands of american flags on campus in honor of veterans day.  this year they did their "flags for the fallen campaign" again, displaying 6,800 american flags on campus.  each flag represents a fallen service member.  it's really something to see the thousands of flags arranged in perfectly straight lines, blowing gently in the breeze.  the project is such a lovely tribute to the veterans who served our country.

love, laurie

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

hummingbird cake


it has been three weeks since i've shared a recipe, and we are long overdue for something delicious here on the blog.  i'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but i have a special treat for you today with this great cake recipe!

for years, i have come across hummingbird cake recipes all over the place.  i've seen numerous versions of this cake online and i have recipes for it in several of my cookbooks at home.  every time i have thought about making it, i have decided not to because not everyone in our family enjoys coconut.  as it turns out, after all those years of pushing the recipe aside, there isn't even any coconut in the cake (just on the outside).


over the weekend, i was flipping through a cookbook and flipped past a recipe for hummingbird cake.  it reminded me that i still had never tried this cake, so i thought it would be the perfect recipe to make for my dad's birthday.  so, i set to it and made it for my dad's birthday dessert which we enjoyed after cleaning up all of those leaves this weekend.


hummingbird cake is thought to have been invented in jamaica sometime in the late 1960s.  in an effort to attract tourists, the jamaican tourist board sent press kits to the united states which included a few recipes from the island (one of which was a version of this cake).

the cake became popular in the southern part of the united states and gained the nickname "the cake that doesn't last."  southern living magazine claims that it has become the most requested recipe in the magazine's history since they first ran a recipe for the cake in 1978.  (in fact, the first known publication of a hummingbird cake recipe was in the february 1978 issue of southern living magazine.)


so what the heck is hummingbird cake?  i had the same question.  it's a banana cake with pineapple and pecans.  it reminds me so much of carrot cake (just minus the carrots, of course).  it's dense (in a good way) just like banana bread. and is unique since it has more fruit in it than flour.

this cake is covered in fluffy cream cheese frosting and decorated with toasted coconut.  the combination of the bananas, pineapple, pecans, cream cheese, and toasted coconut give it a very tropical taste.


hummingbird cake
prep time: 15 minutes
baking time: 45 minutes
yields: one two layer 9-inch round cake (16-18 servings)
adapted from cooking classy

cake ingredients:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 cup finely chopped pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans

frosting ingredients:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar

directions:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  grease and flour the side of two 9-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.  to make the cake: in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg.  toss the chopped pineapple with 1/4 cup of flour and set aside.  in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugars and eggs until pale and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).  mix in the oil and vanilla.  add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  mix in the mashed bananas, then mix in the remaining flour mixture.  fold in the pineapple and the pecans.  evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans.  bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  once baked, allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing the cakes form the pans and allowing them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

to make the frosting: in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar.  mix to combine.  gradually add the remaining powered sugar to achieve desired consistency and thickness.  spread the frosting over one layer of the cooled cake, place the second layer on top and spread the remaining frosting over the entire cake.  decorate with toasted coconut.


enjoy!
love, laurie