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Friday, April 29, 2016

have a wonderful weekend!

oh, it's friday!  thank goodness.  this week was particularly exhausting.  i feel like i started off the week running and i'm finishing the week barely crawling.  here's hoping that we will get a chance to rest up this weekend with our furry little guy.  (ps: happy international dance day today!)

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, April 28, 2016

carrot cake oatmeal (vegan + gluten free)

every spring i crave carrot cake.  it's a classic dessert that is so full of flavor and it always makes me think of the spring because we typically have it around easter.  easter was so early this year that it didn't really feel like spring, but now that the trees and flowers are starting to bloom, it now feels like carrot cake season.

carrot cake isn't just for dessert.  we've made carrot cake pancakes in the past, so it was about time that we incorporated carrot cake into breakfast somehow again.  thus, carrot cake oatmeal!

this oatmeal is absolutely delicious.  it has such great flavor from the carrots, coconut, raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon.  it isn't too sweet which makes it perfect for breakfast.  the best part is that it is vegan and gluten free too!  it is super easy to throw together, which makes it the perfect treat to kick off a spring morning.

carrot cake oatmeal
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes
yields: 2 servings

1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, coursely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups water or non-dairy milk
1 cup old-fashioned oats

in a skillet melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  add the grated carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes.  add the brown sugar, coconut, raisins, chopped walnuts, and cinnamon.  saute until the carrots are tender.  meanwhile, bring the water/milk to a boil in a sauce pan.  stir in the oats and reduce the heat to medium-low.  cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats have absorbed the water.  remove from the heat and stir in the carrot mixture.  add more cinnamon to taste.  serve warm.

love, laurie

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

snapshots of life lately, according to my iphone pictures

. . . and ryan's iphone too.

follow along with us on instagram
love, laurie

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

a night out at an ice hockey game

we're really not sports fans, but we were excited to find out last week that we got 4 free tickets from work to see the first playoff game of our local ice hockey team.  last wednesday night after work, we met up with my dad and one of his co-workers to see the game.  our seats were great and the game was fun.  we bundled up in lots of layers to stay warm (i looked like the abominable snowman) and packed some homemade trail mix to munch on during the game (because you know that there is absolutely no stadium food that is "laurie friendly" as ryan so nicely says).  after going into overtime, our home team won!  it was a neat way to spend a wednesday night.

love, laurie

Monday, April 25, 2016

vegan avocado brownies

this weekend was one for the books!  it was the perfect blend of relaxation, entertainment, work, spring cleaning, and good food.  one of the things that made this weekend so great was the success of these brownies!

for such a long time i have been wanting to experiment more with avocados in baking, and sunday just called for brownies.  therefore, i gift to you on this monday morning avocado brownies . . .

if i didn't tell you there were avocados in these brownies, you would never know.  seriously, you can't even taste them.  we've hid crazy things in brownies before.  remember my black bean chia seed brownies and my no-bake vegan date brownies?

the best thing about these brownies is that they are vegan and they are thick, dense, and fudgy.  as soon as ryan bit into one, he said he couldn't believe how fudgy it was!  to be honest, i was really concerned that ryan might not like these, but as it turned out he loved them.  we both did!  they are delicious and dangerously easy to make.  yum!

vegan avocado brownies
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 25 minutes
yields: 16 brownies
adapted from how sweet it is

2 large ripe avocados, mashed
8 ounces vegan dark chocolate, melted
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 neat eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  in a large bowl, stir together the mashed avocado and the melted chocolate.  stir in the coconut sugar.  add the neat eggs and vanilla, stir to combine.  stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.  the batter will be very thick.  add the melted coconut oil and stir just until combined.

pour the batter into an oiled 8-inch square pan.  bake for 25 minutes.  remove from the oven and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the top of the brownies.  the heat of the brownies will melt the chocolate chips.  use an off-set spatula to evenly spread the melted chocolate over the top of the brownies.  sprinkle sea salt on top.

love, laurie

Friday, April 22, 2016

first bike ride of the season!

one of our favorite things to do together is to ride our bikes.  we absolutely love it, and when the weather is nice we try to fit in as much biking as we possibly can.  luckily, there are a bunch of great trails around our area.

on saturday we took our bikes out of storage and went riding for the first time this season.  it felt so good to be outside enjoying the warmish weather.  to kick off biking season, we went to a local state park.  we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  it really didn't look like spring there.  even though the grass is not green yet, and all of the trees and plants are still brown, it was still so nice to be out on the bike trail!

the only downfall of the first bike ride of the season is that your tush is always sore from the bike seat for a couple of days! ;-)  here's a little video that we took during our bike ride.  (the music is by katrina stone.)

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, April 21, 2016

cranberry brown butter pancakes

oh gosh, our love for pancakes runs deep.  i'm so glad that ryan and i have that in common.  there's just something about warm pancakes on a sunday morning that makes you feel like all is right with the world.

we had some fresh cranberries that we wanted to use up, so we decided to incorporate them into our pancakes over the weekend.  the results were delicious!

i typically crave cranberries in the late fall / early winter, but there's no reason we can't enjoy cranberries year round!  tart fresh cranberries meet rich and nutty brown butter in this pancake recipe.  let me tell you, these guys smelled amazing as they cooked on the griddle.

each bite had a little bit of cranberry.  they were so good, and they remind me so much of cranberry muffins, which i love.  these pancakes are perfect topped with some warm maple syrup.

cranberry brown butter pancakes
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes
yields: 2-3 servings
adapted from pancakes

2 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half

to brown the butter: in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  once the butter starts to bubble and foam up, watch it very closely.  as soon as the butter begins to turn a deep golden color, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.  combine the wet ingredients all at once with the dry ingredients.  whisk gently to combine.  whisk in the brown butter.

heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  place several cranberries in each pancake.  cook for 3-4 minutes until small bubbles begin to form.  flip the pancakes when they start to bubble, then cook for 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown and cooked throughout.  serve warm, topped with additional cranberries and warm maple syrup.

love, laurie

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

paging doctor leko

poor ryan got hit with a doozie of a head cold this week.  he started not feeling well over the weekend, but we both just thought it was spring allergies since the weather changed and everything started to bloom.  pollen always bothers ryan, but by the time he woke up on monday morning it was clear that he had a full-blown head cold.

we need not worry though, because doctor leko is on top of the matter.  he knows just how to make ryan feel better!  leko told me he has a doctorate degree in therapeutic kitty medicine.  i couldn't help but snap this photo of leko sprawled out on ryan's pillow, instructing ryan to come join him in bed to rest!

love, laurie 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

sunday brunch in the sun!

on sunday, we got together with my parents and went out for brunch at a restaurant that we haven't been to before.  the weather was absolutely magnificent, so we dined outside on the patio which over looks the river.  it felt so good to warm up in the sunshine and enjoy the breeze blowing off the water.  we felt like we were on the deck of a cruise ship, it was so nice!

ps: i just love that picture of my dad wearing my new sunglasses!

love, laurie

Monday, April 18, 2016

here comes the sun!

this weekend was glorious!  the sun was out and shining brightly all weekend long.  it felt like we skipped over spring and fast-forwarded right to summer!  i was in heaven.

we took full advantage of the beautiful weather and spent a majority of the weekend outside with walks along the river, bike rides, outdoor dining, and driving with the windows down and the sunroof open.  after what seemed like a long winter, it was good for my soul!

warmer weather and sunny skies means it's sunglasses season!  to celebrate sunglasses season, we're thrilled to be teaming up again with our friends at firmoo.  i'm a huge firmoo fan.  i have several pairs of glasses from firmoo, but up to now i have never tried firmoo's sunglasses.  this weekend's gorgeous weather was the perfect opportunity to take my new firmoo sunglasses for a spin!

firmoo offers both prescription and non-prescription sunglasses.  since i've somehow made it to my 30s and have never owned a pair of aviators, i was excited to try these aviators in gold/green.

one of my favorite things about these sunglasses is how light weight they are, i can hardly feel them on my face!  i also love that each pair of firmoo glasses/sunglasses comes with a hard storage case, a soft storage bag, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and a repair screw driver.  super convenient!

if you are in need of a new pair of sunglasses for the spring/summer, our friends at firmoo are offering the first 10 readers a complete pair of eyeglasses for free now through may 12th!

first time buyers can claim their free glasses here using the code LOVELAURIE2 (shipping and handling fees are extra).

can we just take a moment to appreciate how awesome ryan did taking these photos?!  
he did such a good job, it was awesome!

love, laurie

. . . 

*please note: this post is in partnership with firmoo, however, the content of this post is based solely on my own personal opinion and experience.

Friday, April 15, 2016

happy friday!

somehow this week seemed long and short all at the same time.  it was so nice to be able to get out this week and to take a few walks around our neighborhood in the evenings before dance class.  it felt good to get outside and breathe some fresh air.  i'm ready for this spring weather to stay!

i'm so glad it's friday.  i'm looking forward to seeing a show with ryan tonight, checking out a local town's festival tomorrow, doing some spring cleaning, enjoying the sunshine that is forecasted, and getting together with my parents on sunday for lunch.

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, April 14, 2016

nyc street art

if you have spent any time in nyc, you know that street art is all over the city.  some consider it to be an eyesore, while others view it as something that helps to beautify the city.  i'm certainly not in favor of graffiti or vandalism, but the art on the streets of nyc turns the city into a type of outdoor gallery for artists to display their works to hundreds of passersby.

one of my favorites is eduardo korbra's colorful painting on 25th street and 10th avenue of the iconic photograph that was published in life magazine of an american sailor kissing a woman in a white dress in times square in 1945.  i love that famous photograph and i love that it was taken on august 14th, which is ryan's birthday.  (you can see korbra's painting from the high line too.)

this street art doesn't last forever.  recently, a photographer decided to document some of nyc's best street art before it disappears.  here are some of the images.

love, laurie

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

celebrating free cone day

yesterday was ben & jerry's annual free cone day!  the tradition started back in 1979 when ben & jerry's wanted to thank customers for their support during the shop's first year in business.  now it's grown to a nation-wide event where ben & jerry's ice cream shops across the country give out free scoops.  ryan saw that it was free cone day yesterday, so we stopped by after work and grabbed a free scoop.  it was a nice little treat on a tuesday afternoon!

love, laurie 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

lounging with leko

leko keeps us in stitches on a daily basis.  a few days ago, i had the door to the linen closet open because i was getting a few things out of there.  i walked away for a second and when i came back i found leko in the closet pulling a fleece blanket out of the closet with his teeth.  ryan and i stood there in amazement watching leko pull this blanket out of the closet and onto the floor.  i guess he must have been cold or something.  we didn't have the heart to put the blanket back in the closet after he went through all of the effort of pulling it out, so we put it on our bed for him to enjoy.  he has been sleeping on it every single day since.

leko loves to cuddle, and we have no complaints about that!  he is such a little lover.  on sunday i found leko on top of ryan in bed mid-afternoon.  he looked cold, so we covered him with his blue blanket that he has been loving all week.  he was in kitten heaven as he sat on ryan's lap, covered with his blanket, looking out the window at the birdies.  i had to grab a photo of the moment on my phone.  

later in the day, leko dug himself a spot under his blanket to make himself a little tent.  when we went to check on him, we found that he had all of his body covered by the blanket except for his tail.  oh my goodness, we couldn't stop laughing.  it was just too cute!

did you know that yesterday was national pet day?!  we celebrated last night by curling up on the couch with leko to watch dancing with the stars which is leko's favorite show.  leko just loves sitting on our laps while we watch tv or movies either on the couch or in bed.  he was really excited when he heard that illumination entertainment and universal pictures have a new movie coming out this july called the secret life of pets.  it's an animated comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.  purrfect!  all three of us look forward to renting it and watching it together at home when it comes out on dvd.

love, laurie

Monday, April 11, 2016

a sunday date

after getting some things checked off our to-do list around the house on sunday morning, we headed out for a little sunday date.  we kicked off our date with lunch at one of our favorite indian restaurants.  they have the best indian buffet and they offer so many vegetarian options.  yum!

after lunch, we saw hello, dolly at a local high school.  hello, dolly is one of my all-time favorite movies/musicals and when i was little my mom and i watched the 1969 hello, dolly movie with barbra streisand and walter matthau so many times that we nearly wore out the vhs tape.  i can practically recite the show from memory, we watched it so many times.  the production was awesome and it took a lot of restraint to keep myself in my seat and not jump up and start singing and dancing with the cast.  that musical is a classic and i just love it!  the actress who played dolly was exceptional, too!

we wrapped up our date by going out for ice cream after the musical.  we stopped by an ice cream shoppe that we haven't been to in a long while and we were pleasantly surprised to see that they completely remodeled.  it was such a nice day on sunday and we both really enjoyed our little sunday date together!  a few snapshots from my phone . . .

love, laurie

Friday, April 8, 2016

fun links

it's friday!  this week seemed extra long.  our schedules were packed full.  we have a few commitments this weekend, but we also have a bit of time that we can relax, so we're really looking forward to that.  we are not looking forward to the 2-4 inches of snow that is foretasted for tomorrow though!  come on spring!

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

1. i had no idea you could eat the seed of an avocado

2. i want to try these vegan cauliflower quinoa meatballs

3. this photo shoot is impressive

4. a clever ombre gallery wall

5. the ultimate guide to muffins

6. six kettlebell exercises to tone your entire body (bathing suit season is coming up after all)

7. people who take directions a bit too literally

8. fun facts about "the wonder years" a.k.a. one of the greatest tv shows ever

9. a saying which was a good reminder for me this week

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, April 7, 2016

chocolate peanut butter mousse (vegan + gluten free)

i have an obsession with peanut butter.  it's a down right addiction to be completely honest.  i absolutely love it and i find a way to incorporate peanut butter into just about everything.  peanut butter is so versatile, you can use it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and beverages!

without a doubt, chocolate and peanut butter are an amazing combination.  the two were made for each other.  over the weekend i had a craving for chocolate mousse and something with peanut butter, so i decided to make some chocolate peanut butter mousse for dessert.  instead of making a traditional mousse, i skipped the dairy and the eggs to make a vegan version.  the result was an incredible dessert that was just as light, fluffy, and flavorful as it's non-vegan counterpart.

this delicious mousse could be served as a stand-alone dessert, or it could be used as a dip or even as a frosting.  clever treat!  needless to say, i'm hooked.  who says vegan food isn't fun?  ;-)

chocolate peanut butter mousse
prep time: 5 minutes
chill time: 1 hour
yields: 4 servings

1 can (14 oz.) coconut cream, chilled
3 tablespoons all-natural smooth peanut butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon all-natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons agave nectar

in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the coconut cream until light and fluffy (about 1 minute).  all the peanut butter and whisk together until incorporated (about 1 minute).  whisk in the cocoa powder and agave nectar until incorporated.  add additional peanut butter, cocoa powder, and/or sweetener to reach desired taste.  to enjoy as a mousse, divide the mixture among 4 small cups and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up before serving.  to use as a frosting, use immediately.

recipe notes:
be sure to use coconut cream instead of coconut milk.  there is a difference.  coconut cream is creamier and thicker than coconut milk and it has a different fat make-up.  my favorite brand of coconut cream is trader joe's.  also, my favorite all-natural peanut butter is smucker's because the only ingredients are peanuts.  i love both the creamy and the chunky.

love, laurie

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

keep your kitties safe when traveling in the car

i was scrolling through facebook a few days ago and i came across a video which has gone viral.  a cat was sunbathing on the dashboard of a car while the car was driving down the highway.  it caught my attention because it was a cat video, but mainly because it looked so dangerous.  i had to investigate.  i found this article explaining that the lounging dashboard kitty's name is rory and he loves to stretch out and watch the sky pass by as his human mom drives along the california interstate.

although it's cute, i'm really concerned about a few things: the driver is traveling at 70mph with the cat on the dashboard, the cat is not harnessed or on a leash, and someone recorded the whole thing on video (while driving).  rory's human mom posted the video on her instagram account, and now she has now set up a separate instagram account for rory.  now this has prompted tons of other people to share videos of their cats sunbathing on dashboards while cars are in motion.

as a cat lover, here is my public service announcement for the day . . . rory is a gorgeous kitty and i love that his human mom takes him on so many adventures.  however, i beg everyone to please be cautious about letting cats roam around cars unsecured.  we have taken leko on adventures in the car, but we always make sure that he is either in his kitty taxi or on a harness/leash (see here and here).  leko is able to still enjoy watching the trees and other cars pass by while being safely secured on a leash.  cars are dangerous so take care of your kitties and keep them safe, please!

love, laurie