Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Oatmeal Cherry Coconut Cookies - New Recipe

Lizzard Loves cookies. 
Oatmeal Cherry Coconut Cookies. Thanks sissy for the idea!

No one is surprised by this.

Lizzard Loves when people suggest a recipe to try - or a recipe to try to replicate! My sister did just that this week, she had a wonderful cookie at a bakery near her home in Colorado and texted me to inform me I should try to copy it :)

Always glad to oblige!

I found this recipe online - a quick Google search yielded a perfectly good place to start my quest for a delicious copycat cookie.

Here's the recipe I came up with - slightly crunchy on the edges, soft in the middle, great contrast of sweet & salty, good texture from the mix ins, really just a solid cookie all the way around it! I am quite happy with the results - the true test will be when my sister tries it!

Oatmeal Cherry Coconut Cookies
Yield: approximately 2 dozen smallish cookies
(double this recipe - you won't be sad you did)

Ingredients
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teasppon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) - at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar - packed
1/8 cup coconut sugar (granulated white sugar is perfectly fine - you'll just have a slightly sweeter cookie)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
Sea salt for sprinkling (Kosher salt or any flaky/chunky salt will do!)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt & oats in a medium bowl (or a large one if you are doubling the recipe). Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer, or by hand if you are Hercules ;) cream the butter with both sugars. Don't rush it- it takes a few minutes.
4. Add the egg & both extracts. Beat on medium speed to fully incorporate.
5. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredient mix you made in step 2. Mix until just incorporated (if you overmix your dough - the cookies' texture is not as delectably tender - they end up tougher. I like my girls tough - not my cookies!)
6. Keeping the mixer on low- add the dried cherries & coconut. See above about overmixing! It'll only take a few rotations to get the ingredients incorporated.
7. Using your favorite mini scoop (or your hands, or a spoon) - ball the dough & put it on parchment lined baking sheets.
8. Sprinkle the tops with kosher salt, sea salt, flaky/chunky salt of any kind. (this step is technically optional - but the slight crunch & the contrast of the sweet & salt makes it 100% worth it).
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly golden.
10. Cool on the baking sheets for slightly firmer cookies, cool on a rack for slightly chewier cookies (I go chewier every time)

I hope you enjoy these as much I did! They were a lovely addition to my afternoon cup of tea :) Please feel free to suggest new recipes for me to try to copy! I'm always game for a challenge!

Monday, March 20, 2017

International Day of Happiness


Baking makes me happy. Irish Soda Bread & Irish Brown Bread.
Who knew there was an International Day of Happiness/Happiness Day?? 
Not me, until today!

How did I find out about this day? By catching up on reading some of my favorite blogs :)

So, in no particular order - here are some things that have been making me happy today & lately:

~Reading Pull Up A Chair, a fabulously written blog by Barbara Mahany. She is an accomplished writer, she is unequivocally positive, & her posts make me pause & smile every single time I read them.
Oatmeal Cherry Coconut Cookies. Yum.
~The suggestions from my big sister (who is quite a great baker herself) to try to copy a cookie she bought for my niece this week. It was apparently big enough that they shared the cookie! Oatmeal, Cranberry, Coconut. I found a recipe as a jumping off point and made some tweaks. The finished product is cooling on the counter which means I have a fresh baked cookie in my future. The text from my sissy made me happy, baking makes me happy, cookies make me happy. The tea I will have with the cookie is also a source of happiness.
~Coffee in bed 2 mornings in a row this weekend. Made by my husband & brought to me too. The same husband who fed & let the dog out so I could be completely, unabashedly lazy & stay in bed late. All of these things make me both happy & grateful.
~Making a donation to a food pantry that serves Syrian refugees (along with many others). Had been looking for a concrete way to support the Syrian refugees who find their way to our area. Have been looking for a way to feel less terrible about the closed door executive orders that have been coming out of the White House. Found the pantry on the blog mentioned above (Pull Up a Chair)
Scone ingredients. Triple yum.
~Having a neighbor who uses his snowblower to clear the sidewalk all the way down our block. It is such a nice treat to wake up to a beautiful, snowy morning & have half of your shoveling done for you. What a kind thing to offer your neighbors! For the record - I needed to do some digging to find out who the snowblower fairy was......I dropped off some pumpkin muffins & dark chocolate,walnut, & date scones as a small thank you for the effort. My neighbors make me happy, and not to be too repetitive, but baking makes me happy too.
~My mother in law's improving health. Amazing. After a really tough 2016, things are finally, blissfully, looking up for her. She has been going out to lunch & dinner, enjoying time with family & friends & hasn't been hospitalized in OVER A MONTH! Yippee, yahoo & yay!
~A text chain with my 2 best, oldest friends. Celebrating amazing news, laughing our faces off, dealing with the difficulties that accompany adulting, and simply staying up to date. This ongoing conversation makes me happy every time we strike it up.
~The early spring flowers popping up everywhere; particularly because they seemed to have no issue being covered by 8+ inches of snow last week.......the snow is gone - the flowers are not! 
~Living near my parents & my brother/sister in law/nephews & niece. It is so nice to be able to see them casually without plans, give hugs & get updates, lend things, borrow things, stay in touch because we're physically close. It makes me happy that we're only 15 minutes away.
~On a similar note - today is the first day of Spring! Yay! Summer is coming!

What is making you happy today? Or this week/month/year? I would love to know in the comments!

Happy International Day of Happiness!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Words, wondrous words.

Lizzard Loves clearing the photos from her phone to her computer.
Because I am a psychotic type A freakazoid. Obviously. But only about certain (often totally meaningless) things. Like making sure I back up my photos to my computer :) That really doesn't have anything to do with anything except........

While doing this clean up, I came across several quotes/thoughts that are widely varied, but I had saved them on my phone all these months - so its time to put them somewhere; here!

For your enjoyment (I hope):






Friday, January 6, 2017

Thanksgiving 2016

Lizzard Loves Thanksgiving.
Chocolate Pecan Pie. So delish.
Thanksgiving just gets it, doesn't it?? It is not as though it comes without stress, particularly for those hosting the meal, hosting out of town guests, and preparing the food.

But, Thanksgiving, unlike its close (on the calendar at least) holiday neighbor, Christmas, does not involve an entire season. It is mostly celebrated over just 1 week, or even a long weekend! 

I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday that in the US of A is nearly universally celebrated. There is no religious affiliation, there is nothing decisive about slowing down and giving thanks for family, friends, food, good health, etc.

I love that Thanksgiving has that unifying piece to it; it brings people together- in this year that we so desperately need to connect. What a strange year 2016 was. In so many ways it was great, but in other big important ways it was, frankly, scary.

Chris & I celebrated Thanksgiving with his family at his parents house in Pennsylvania. We stayed with his big sister at her family's home in Delaware. As much as we tried to be helpful and contribute; we owe a debt of gratitude to my husband's family for hosting us.

My mother in law spent the better part of 2016 hospitalized. We were profoundly grateful for her homecoming to coincide closely with the Thanksgiving holiday. Despite ongoing health concerns/issues- having her home for the holidays was a HUGE win for our family. 

Things I am thankful/grateful for in 2016; in no particular order:
-My family. Chris, my parental family, my in laws, my extended family on all sides. I feel comforted, loved, taken care of, encouraged and supported by the motley crew that is my family. I am so incredibly blessed to have all of these people tied so closely to me.
-My friends. The saying goes that friends are the family you choose & I think its true. How lucky I am to be surrounded by thoughtful, interesting, well read, funny, kind, caring, understanding & just plain wonderful friends. 
-Our home. It was a long time coming, but we moved into our forever home May 20, 2016 and we are so thankful for its coziness, light, warmth, and reflection of the 2 of us. It gives us shelter yes, but somehow helps reflect the life we hope to build here. 
-Coffee. Always coffee.
-Our new pup Owenn. Despite his penchant for eating stuff he shouldn't & peeing in everyone's home he visits.......we love him. He is a goof ball of a good dog & great with people & other dogs. We feel like we won the shelter dog lottery with him.
-Baking. Whether I'm baking Belle Plaine Bread for customers, family, friends or baking cookies, cakes, scones, pies, for fun - I am grateful for the peace & quiet & oftentimes connection that comes with baking. I love baking with the littles in my life as well as with my mom and sister. It is one of my favorite hobbies & it is such a treat to share the experience (& the final products) with those I love. If you love to bake & want to bake together - let me know - I'm always game for a baking date!
-Our health. As Chris & I get older, we are increasingly thankful for our healthy, strong bodies. Trying not to take them for granted (& trying to lay off the epic quantities of desserts that tempted us both throughout the holiday season!!).
-The new community we moved into. We have never before lived in a place with neighbors who were interested in/invested in each other. We had countless neighbors call over the fence, stop by the front yard and even send flowers (!!) as we were renovating the house & finally moved into it. I love that we know our neighbors faces & names and they know ours. I treasure the fact that we've been welcomed into their homes (and they into ours). There were so many things about living in the city that I adored, but not one neighbor knocked on my door when I moved into my condo. I got to know my neighbors over time & they remain friends of ours; but there wasn't the same sense of community that I feel up here.
Baking cupcakes with our nephew!

Turkey Hat!!!

:) :) :)

DOUBLE Turkey Hats!!!

Barb cuddling with Powder

Does it look like they know what they're doing??
I don't think so!

Lots of love

Turkey cupcakes! Yes!!

So.Many.Desserts.

3 mile run with our niece at a beautiful state park!

Hayride to cut down a Christmas tree for Chris' parents & sister

Success! 2 trees for 2 families!

What are you grateful/thankful for as you reflect on 2016? I resolve in 2017 to make these reflections more a part of my day to day life - not such a special occasion reflection!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Christmas 2016 & a request for advice

Lizzard Loves Christmas. 

Time with family, the lights, the tree, fires in the fireplace, the snow, cozy days wrapping gifts, Chris' crazy Christmas suit,decorating the house, drinking hot chocolate, ice skating on GR & Tara's rink and the Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, skiing, celebrating with friends, trains running around our tree, shopping for stocking stuffers, cooking, cooking cooking, and baking zillions of cookies, Owenn's Christmas sweater, homemade eggnog Chris makes, homemade treats of all stripes that everyone else makes, Lynn's cookie exchange party, the Evanston Christmas tree lighting, lots of Belle Plaine Bread, Mom reading this out loud to us on Christmas night, beautiful Christmas Eve mass at the church I grew up attending, Carols at the Bean downtown, ZooLights, Winter Wonderland Express at the Botanic Gardens, so many delicious meals made by my Mom, decorating cookies, visits from old friends, the whole kit & caboodle.

Some photos of this year's Christmastime fun, in no particular order:
Christmas Carols at the Bean (IN THE SNOW!!)

Chris' man cave Christmas tree

Helping with the decorations at GR & Tara's house

No time to cut down our own tree this year, to Anton's we went (just like when I was a kid!)

First floor decorations are up!

Inside view of our main tree

Members Only Night at ZooLights with Chris, Tara & the kids

Fuzzy ZooLights selfie

Lynn's Cookie Exchange

Evanston Christmas Tree Lighting

It is SNOWING!!!!

Owenn's first snowy walk

This dog LOVES the snow :) Its a good thing since we do too!

Skating on the Ribbon

Owenn's first cross country ski

Biscotti bonanza

Elfing :)

The boys enjoying their eggnog

O-man's Christmas sweater 

Peppermint hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow

Cookie baking with the cookie monster herself!

Skating at GR & Tara's rink #cousinlove

Christmas night fondue

Christmas Eve dressed up for church & dinner

So all of those wonderful, warm, fuzzy things said...........I'm looking for advice on this post though. It seems like I average approximately 1.5 meltdowns/ annual Christmas season. Full fledged, stress driven, crying mess meltdowns. (My poor, patient husband). As much as I love Christmas time, it always seems too short, too busy, too much. And the expectations- I dread the high expectations that I can't seem to keep in check. Meltdown could be why our Christmas cards went out after we rung in 2017......#sorryaboutthateveryone

 My ask here is this - do you have ways to handle your pre-holiday/during the holidays stress? How do you manage it all & enjoy yourself too? I do pretty ok for 90% of the season - but its a whopper of a 10% that puts a crimp in my Christmas enjoyment! 

Any/all thoughts/jokes/tips on this are most appreciated  - I have almost a full year to prepare for the next Christmas season & I need all the help I can get!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Owenn!!

The day we applied to bring Owenn home

Lizzard Loves her new pup Owenn!

We rescued Owenn (yes - with 2 'n's !!) in September from Heartland Animal Shelter. We have wanted a dog pretty much forever.....or at least since we started dating! Alas, the condo building where we lived after we got married was not dog friendly and frankly, we both probably worked too many hours to make a dog a feasible choice. Fast forward through selling that condo, living with my parents for a year, finally moving into our forever home, fencing in & landscaping our mud pit of a backyard to September, 2016. We were READY! We looked at several different shelters in our area and at many more using Petfinder.com but Chris fell in love with Owenn when we met him at Heartland (see photo above :)

He's a 2ish year old hound mix from Harlan County, Kentucky. Coincidentally, I spent a couple of weeks volunteering in Harlan County when I was in high school! He came into the the Kentucky shelter as a stray, so we knew virtually nothing about him. 
Owenn's car ride home

Since we have a gaggle of nieces and nephews and want to start a family of our own - we needed some reassurance that he would be good with kids. Though my wonderful big brother & sister in law were willing to let us borrow a nephew to test Owenn's kid friendliness; timing didn't work out. Thank goodness for the genorosity of strangers at Heartland! A woman was at the shelter with her 3 kids looking for a dog to rescue. She was willing to let her youngest interact with Owenn so we could see how he behaved! Needless to say he passed our "test" with flying colors. It was clear he would've rather gone home with the little girl than with us!!

Here are things we know about Owenn, now that he's been a part of our family for 4+ months:
-He loves my parents' dog Willa
Doggy cousin love

-He & Willa are terrible influences on each other & it is virtually impossible for 1 adult to walk them both. If you try, you may find yourself getting reprimanded by a stranger whose dog Owenn tried to bite and tehn the local police for the same reason. You also may lose track of Owenn causing a good samaritan to call & text Chris & I while we were in CO to let us know he picked up our dog on a busy road.
-Raisins are a favorite food of Owenn's. They also happen to be toxic. The price of said raisins rises considerably when a visit to the emergency veterinarian is required. We might know this from personal experience..... 
Owenn didn't want to be admitted at the doggy ER
-Owenn loves squeak toys. He doesn't destroy them (unless he is with Willa.....or his cousins Leah & Raina, Then he'll destroy & ingest whatever dismembered parts he can. He also might throw up the tail of a toy on your bedroom rug at 5am when you are trying to get out the door to the airport. Just maybe.)
-Chasing squirrels up trees & watching them is Owenn's God given talent. He takes every opportunity to showcase this talent. It can make walks very slow. It also means he can entertain himself in the backyard for hours at a time!
Squirrel watching

-The golf course we live near is the best thing that has ever happened to our pooch. He was a little touchy around other dogs the first week or two we had him home from the shelter, just nervous & sometimes growly. We started walking him on the golf course when the weather turned a bit cooler (& there was less chance of getting clobbered by an errant golf ball) and found a fantastic community of other dog owners and their dogs! Owenn runs, plays, chases, wrestles with any/all willing dogs! He doesn't show aggression - just unbridled hopefulness for a playmate!
Looking for friends on the golf course

-The beach we live near is the 2nd best thing to happen to Owenn. Though he was SUPER skeptical of the waves at first; he's warmed up to it. He splashes & runs & plays with his cousins (or any other willing dog who is there). The only issue? He barks more than any other time at the beach. He barks like a wild dog at the beach. He hardly ever barks away from the beach......its strange.
Sandy faced at the beach

-If you let us bring Owenn to your house for a visit, he will pee in the house at least once. Apparently this "marking" behavior is common in male dogs. Its a big fucking drag though. We travel with pet odor remover/cleaner, so at least we're prepared :/

-Owenn weighs 55ish pounds and sleeps in the same bed at his PA cousin who tips the scales at whopping 16 pounds. He likes to be cozy.
Curled up in a tiny ball is best :)

-If given the opportunity, Owenn will eat anything/everything left out on a countertop & make himself ill as a result. Its a really cute habit. We are desperately trying to break him of it.
-Walking Chris to the train in the morning is one of Owenn's favorite parts of the day. Though he really likes it when Chris works from home so he can supervise from his bed in Chris' office!
Owenn's morning commute - walking Chris to the train.


So that's our newest 4 legged family member! We love him & are so glad we finally found a dog to bring into our forever home! We hope you can meet Owenn soon :)