Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frigid temps call for a group hug

Lizzard Loves group hugs.

And the Lincoln Park Zoo. Especially at 9:30 on a FREEZING cold weekday morning. I love how quiet & empty the zoo is before the buildings open in the winter. I love that I got to see this huddle of Japanese snow monkeys.


Sometimes you just need a photo of monkeys hugging.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Productive mornings & a veggie stew recipe

Lizzard Loves productive mornings.

Even more so now that I'm a mom, I find the days when I accomplish a lot early on to be so incredibly satisfying.
Lizzard Loves delicious vegetarian meals

This morning I took this photo at 8:30. I had made my first ever batch of "from scratch" cornbread (using this recipe from King Arthur Flour) and also made a giant pot of vegetarian stew. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2018 is to seek out & prepare more vegetarian meals at home, in an effort to explore new recipes and lower our meat consumption simultaneously.


The stew recipe is from the Chicago Tribune, here are a couple of photos of it (because I don't want to spend my precious alone time minutes while the baby sleeps typing a recipe :)
 In case you are paying close attention.........I didn't bake the stew with cheese on top because 90% of the double batch I made was destined for our freezer. My preference is to add the cheese when we defrost & warm this dish rather than before freezing it.


Cheers to a New Year & many adventures to come in 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lulu

I'm only about 8 months late on this post...........:) but Lizzard Loves being a mom!
Chris & I welcomed our daughter Lulu to the world in the morning on April 25. She wasn't in any particular hurry to join us; she arrived 8 days past her due date. I was overcome with emotion when I met the bug for the first time- how could I possibly be so lucky?

Our little lovebug is perfect (of course I think so!) and has brought so much laughter & fun & poop & sleeplessness into our lives. 

Chris had paternity leave for the summer, what a luxury we had. Our family of 4 (don't forget the Owenn pup, who I'm pretty sure threw up on our bedroom floor at 4 this morning......I haven't looked yet....its still dark....) had a summer of our dreams. We explored around home, went to the beach, spent time at the Lake, visited family & friends near & far, saw the total solar eclipse and generally adjusted to our newest, littlest family member's presence in our lives.

How could I have possibly known how wonderful it is to be a mom? I was unprepared for the way simple moments with Lulu would bring me to tears, good, happy tears, but the overwhelming sense of gratitude is something that has stayed ever present. Perhaps initially this emotion was driven by the honest to goodness insane amount of hormones coursing through my body....but I am glad to report the emotion has stuck around, even as (thankfully) my body is returning to some new normal.

I hope you get to meet our sweet bug if you haven't already. You will likely be struck by her cheeks; strangers routinely stop to comment on them when we are out in the world!

Happy Saturday everyone, thanks as always for reading.

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!