Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Fun February 23

Lizzard loves baking. 

I mean, duh. But I do! So that is where we will start!

1. A new cookie recipe from the hilarious Joy the Baker.
Frankly, they don't look as good as they taste!!

I love that she titled this recipe "Weekday Oatmeal & Everything Cookies" - kind of a fun name, yes? So they are delicious - I only baked one pan, because Chris & I will demolish all the cookies in to limit whats available! I thought there were a lot of spices in the dough, but once out of the oven - I honestly will up the ante next time! The only adjustments I made to the recipe - I used half whole wheat flour, half dark chocolate chips & half milk chocolate chips, half dried cherries & half dried cranberries, half pepitas & half sunflower seeds. I basically wanted everything but the kitchen sink in these cookies :) Oh, and I sprinkled the tops with sea salt before I baked them, because double duh.

2. Coffee Catch Up
2 of my favs, sitting at the island, noshing on banana bread

The littlest things matter so much now that Lulu is in our lives. Sometimes it feels like a giant pain to get out of the house & schedule life around nap schedules & feeding schedules, or to schedule a babysitter. So when a friend is willing to meet at our house for coffee & chatting - I feel like I've won the lottery! When said friend (my beloved CC) also comes bearing ridiculously delish banana bread (coincidentally also a Joy the Baker recipe!) it is a triple bonus. I baked the cookies above for this visit :)

3. Success with New Years Resolutions
So what happened to the other cookie dough that I didn't bake?? It is nestled in a lot of plastic wrap in our freezer! That makes 3 kinds of dough in said freezer, which means I am accomplishing my resolution to always have cookie dough in the freezer. Being better about posting right here was another 2018 focus of mine - and look, we're doing that right now. Feeling satisfied. I have slowed down on my new vegetarian recipe resolution - do you have any you'd care to share??

4. Mother Daughter Book Club
We had a meeting on Monday night and nearly the whole group read the book, which hardly ever happens. We had an awesome meal, great conversation, & perhaps the most delicious slice of pecan pie I've ever had (& I thought I didn't like pecan pie!!) We've been meeting with this group of 5 mothers and 7 daughters consistently for about a decade. It makes me happy pretty much every single time.

5. Making a Donation to Sandy Hook Promise
Because I need to do something. We marched (more on that here). We vote. We sign petitions, but the NRA is so well funded.....we need dollars to combat their dollars & keep our kids safe.

March for Gun Reform

Lizzard Loves standing up for what she believes in.

I also love bringing Lulu to her first march! And marching with friends.

I, like so many others, am appalled/saddened/enraged by the events that took place in Florida last week. So, we joined the March for Gun Reform in Chicago. It was a good event put on by Mom's Demand Action Illinois, Women's March Chicago, Women's March Illinois, Indivisible Chicago, & Indivisible Illinois.

We all need to work together to change our gun laws. There is no need for any private citizen to own an assault weapon, full stop. No need unless you want to assault people, which, last time I checked is illegal in the great US of A. Its literally in the name......think about it.

I don't want to abolish the 2nd Amendment, but I do want thoughtful and common sense gun legislation to help keep my daughter & everyone else's children safe. Frankly, I'd like to also feel safe myself.

So, do what you can do. Call your representative, call your senator, write letters, walk in marches, donate to causes that support common sense gun laws. If we don't do something, we are standing idly by while children are being murdered. I, for one, don't want that on my head.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Round Up 2/16

Lizzard Loves these Friday round ups!

A great week indeed because the Winter Olympics started last Friday!! Eeeek!

1. Winter Olympics & our tradition
Man, we love the Winter Olympics. Like, a lot. We love these 2 weeks A LOT. You know I love all things winter, snow & ice (direct reference to my favorite children's book, Madeline. Do yourself a favor & read it to a kid in your life - no one will be sorry!). The Winter Olympics broadcast is easily the most TV heavy 2 weeks of our 4 years!! Chris & I love to watch the opening ceremonies and our tradition is to make chachos (also known as chicken nachos) and eat while watching the show. This year was no different, though we skipped making the margaritas & cracked a couple of delicious IPAs from this new beer shop in our town instead. I love traditions & I love the Winter Olympics. This was a most excellent evening indeed!
Yes this was only for the 2 of us....go big or go home!

2. Snuggles
So this is a happy & a sad at the same time. Lulu came down with her first fever on Wednesday which is the sad part. She's out of sorts, clearly doesn't feel well, has very little energy & really no interest in playing. She HATES taking medicine, so my efforts with the infant Tylenol & Motrin are sketchy at best. The good things about having a sick kiddo are: Lulu wants snuggles in a way that she hasn't in a long time. She's an independent little lady & I love that about her, but clearly part of my heart misses the newborn snuggle filled period! It has been a treat to have her lay on my chest & snuggle up for an extra nap here or there these past couple of days. The other good thing is Lulu's doctor's office is very communicative & responsive. I know that what's going on with Lulu isn't serious, which is incredibly comforting. I know what to look out for that would make our situation serious (dehydration, not nursing, not having wet diapers, medicine having no effect on the fever, etc) and that helps me feel much more capable of handling this. Have I mentioned how hard I think parenting is??
My feverish snuggle bug

3. An understanding husband
Thank goodness for Chris. I baked before volunteering on Wednesday (Valentine's Day) so was up at 3:30am. When I got home from the Zoo Lulu was tired & hungry & out of sorts so I got her down for a nap & didn't realize until she woke up that she was sick :( So I didn't write Chris' Valentine's Day card, I actually still haven't as I type this (yikes, that is bad) and I ended up asleep on the couch before our food delivery for dinner arrived. So I was asleep before 8pm. So Chris ate without me, didn't complain that I'm lame & couldn't stay awake for a delicious meal & not a peep about his missing Valentine. I don't feel like I'm killing it this week and it is so incredibly reassuring that Chris has my back even when I come up short on making him feel special.

Lulu inspects her Valentine flowers from her Daddy

Cheers to bubbly Malbec rose & flowers for me!

I hope you & yours had a wonderful & fun Valentine's Day! Feel free to share any favorite vegetarian recipes for my meatless Fridays during Lent, I'm always on the hunt for good ones.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

S'mores Brownies

Lizzard Loves s'mores.

The kind you make over an outdoor fire (camping, in our backyard, in a friend's backyard), the kind you make over your kitchen's gas stove, even the kind you make in the microwave ;) I love the S'mores Pie from Hoosier Mama Pie Company, and the Golden Grahams based s'mores crispy treats you can buy at Chicago Bagel Authority (or at least you could buy them there 5 years ago.....admittedly its been awhile!). I love to make a copy cat version of the S'mores crispy bars at home. I just love s'mores, mmmmkay?

So imagine my delight when I saw an Instagram post from one of my favorite food bloggers, Joy the Baker featuring Thick S'mores Brownies! What a ridiculously great idea, right??? I love thick & chewy brownies so this recipe intrigued me on more than one front.

I doubled the recipe, because, duh. When a recipe tells me it will yield a measly 9 servings, I know we can do better than that! I also don't have a 9x9 baking dish, let alone 2, so I divided my ridiculous quantity of batter between 1 8x8 dish and 1 9x11 dish, I'm no math magician, but I figured this would work out OK. I also didn't have big marshmallows - I had minis- so we went with those. 

I wasn't kidding - they COMPLETELY filled the pans
Despite some challenges (they took FOREVER to bake, likely 1.5 times as long as is listed on the recipe, they nearly overflowed my pans, the marshmallows browned waaaaaaay before the brownies were baked through) they are amazing. They are ridiculously tall (or thick), rich, chewy, and all around wonderful. Despite baking mine as long as I did, I still worried they were underbaked in the center so I stored them in the fridge to ensure I could do a decent job slicing them. The fridge is a magical place for these brownies! It helped mine stay firm enough to cut (& eat) without them falling apart. I don't typically recommend baked goods of any sort being stored in the fridge - this is a notable exception!

I love to bake, but I don't love to gain 300lbs by eating a double batch of S'mores brownies that called for 1lb of butter, 10 eggs and an insane quantity of sugar & chocolate. I love giving unexpected gifts, so this was a perfect solution to my problem!

I cut the brownies MUCH smaller than the recipe called for, my yield for the double batch far exceeded 18 - likely exceeded 36!! But as I mentioned above - they are insanely thick & rich - so I think I made the right call slicing them into relatively small pieces. I packaged some in mason jars and some in cellophane gift bags and wrote Valentine's messages on gift tags. I happily distributed to some family, friends & neighbors including  porch drop off to a friend whose baby caught this year's flu. Ugh the flu. That I do not love, particularly not this year. Do you find a huge happiness boost when you give unexpected gifts? People tend to receive them gladly without any stress because I have zero expectation that the gift would be reciprocated! And I suppose only a crazy person would frown when gifted a home baked treat ;)

I hope you try this recipe at home - I hope you binge on some brownies & gift some too! According to the recipe, these freeze quite well, so you could do that & give your future self a gift!! 

Friday Round Up 2/9/18- a couple days late!

Lizzard Loves reflecting on the week!

The happy, the good, the giggles in no particular order:

1. Friday Afternoon Play Dates
I love when I host a play date and everything goes smoothly. I invited mamas and babies (from a moms group I started) last Friday afternoon and everyone (seemed to) enjoy themselves! Lulu was the only baby girl amongst a zillion baby boys! We had babies from 4ish months to 10ish months old :) 

I tried a new recipe (which seems like a relatively bad idea when other people are coming over - though its not as though it was the main dish of a dinner party!) for Smitten Kitchen's Hello Dolly Bars
They were delectable!! The only thing I changed was swapping walnuts for the pecans and adding a healthy sprinkling of flaky sea salt before I baked them. If you use unsalted nuts - for SURE add the salt; it is a nice touch indeed.

2. Travel Planning
Chris & I decided that we are going to take Lulu to Ireland in the Fall! We really didn't get very far beyond making the plan & picking dates to travel, but it is so fun to have a trip to look forward to.

3,  Text chains
Group messages can be super f-ing annoying. They can also be a most wonderfully enriching way to stay connected to your best friends from college. I love having an ongoing conversation with these girls (who coincidentally are also moms to baby girls) about life, momming, books/TV shows, family, husbands, etc. The conversation can be super active for days in a row or sit silent for a week or so. It doesn't matter, we pick back up where we left off & it just makes me feel like they live so much closer than they do.

4. Snow storms! 
Eek! We got a bunch of snow last night/today! I love the snow, I love love love it. We got maybe 6 inches on top 4 inches we got throughout the week. There is a lot of snow! I love how quiet it makes everything. I love how (early in the week when the sun was shining) it sparkles. Honestly though it sparkles in the streetlights, I suppose I don't need the sun to be out to enjoy the sparkle. I love that our town closed the schools and our neighborhood was crawling with kiddos having snowball fights, building forts, going sledding & just rolling around in the snow like little crazy people. 

I love that Chris & I took Lulu & Owenn on a pre-dawn cross country ski. I love that we were the first people out on the golf course in our neighborhood. 

I love that when I went out walking with Lulu strapped to my back in a hat that kept falling off, multiple people were willing to help me by pulling her hat & hoods back on! I love the sense of community that a good snow storm brings out. Our neighborhood is really friendly on a normal day, but that is amped up on a snow day. All of these things make me very happy.    

As always, I'd love to hear whats making you happy, grateful, laugh in the comments! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday Round Up 2/2/18

Lizzard Loves the new plan for Fridays!

Things that are good in my life, in no particular order:

1. Breakfast with babies
Now that we are parents, we are making friends with other parents of similarly aged kiddos. This is wonderful - except for the cost of babysitters when you want to hang out with other parents without your kiddos! My solution has become a baby friendly breakfast. I love breakfast. I love how easy it is to prepare, I love how casual it usually is, I love coffee & coffee is always welcome at breakfast! Also, the babies tend to be in pretty good spirits first thing in the morning; no one needs to rush to make a nap, everyone can just relax & enjoy each other's company. Plus, now that more & more friends have babies.........more & more friends are waking up at the crack of dawn like we always have :) The early bird gets......breakfast with babies!

2. My goal/resolution to read everyday

I've started reading on Chris' iPad sometimes - just to make sure I get it done. Lilac Girls is our
Mother Daughter Book Club Book.
I'm honestly struggling with it, its so depressing.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised given that it is based on the Holocaust.......

I read somewhere that setting a goal to read 2 pages per day is easier to achieve than reading x amount of books in a month or year. It is a concrete, measurable goal (which apparently all good goals are) which makes it easy to know if you are on track to achieve it or not. Sometime around the new year I decided to give this goal a go because I always say "I want to read more" but then never seem to find/make the time (maybe because wanting to "read more" is vague and not easy to measure?!?). But I LOVE reading. I have loved reading since I learned how to read. If a book is good, I will stay awake until the wee hours of the morning to see how it ends. I don't stay up until the wee hours of the morning for anything else (except Lulu when she wants to party in the middle of the night...but I only do that because I have to!). So far, so so so good with the new goal. I've been reading everyday, which makes me quite glad. If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it in the comments- I'm always on the hunt for a great book.

3. Another tooth for Lulu
That 2nd tooth is hiding in there!
This has been a majorly funky week for Lulu's sleep - she'd been in a great groove in 2018, sleeping through the night, going to sleep without fanfare (aka screaming), and sleeping until 6am or so. This week has involved one night where she was awake from 10pm-2am, one night that she screamed for 30-40 minutes for a new(ish) babysitter rather than staying asleep after we put her down, and 2 nights of here & there wakefulness lasting up to 45 minutes. Then, yesterday morning, I saw it- the Bug has her 2nd tooth! It was so reassuring that something was causing this disruption. She also has a pretty gross cold.........which helps explain things! There are so many gray areas in parenting (as in life) but it makes me feel so good when there are concrete reasons for some of the craziness!