Hello friends! I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing Memorial Day weekend! We had our share of relaxation and food over the weekend in Louisville. On Friday night, we got to see two of our very good friends, Courtney and Jeremy, tie the knot!
We also hung out with some of my family, and took some fun family photos!
I took some fun photos of my lovely sisters. Did you know that my sister, Maggie (far left), has a BLOG?
She’s getting ready to head out to California this summer for an internship at Russ Reid (the company my dad works for!) She’s a pretty cool girl- I should also add that she earned a 4.0GPA during her first year of college. Go Maggie!
We had a great time with Daniel’s family too! I always forget to whip my camera out when we’re hanging out with them, probably because we’re laughing too much! Daniel and I also got in a couple of SWEATY workouts in this weekend, try the BodyRock.tv 600 Rep Fat Burner Challenge- we could only do 300 reps as we decided to do the workout out on the deck… in 90 degree weather. It was hard! Now we’re back home in Lexington, getting ready for the week ahead.
Shower curtains drying in the sun
Pots and Pans hanging in place
Pictures repositioned on the mantle and bookshelves organized
Did I forget to mention that Saturday, May 28th was Silas’ first birthday? Our 1st anniversary was obviously the more meaningful celebration, but Silas’ 1 year birthday is pretty important too. Here are a couple of flashback photos of our little pup.
Silas will be attending his 3rd week of his 6 week long Obedience course tonight. I’m cheap and I won’t spend money on things I can make myself, so I whipped up a new batch of training treats for our pup.
Silas isn’t a fan of the heat!
Crunchy Peanut Butter Dog Crackers
1.5 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. rolled oats (use instant or quick cooking)
1/4 c. peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
2 TBSP flax seed
1 c. water
Preheat oven to 350*
Mix dry ingredients together ( I used a stand mixer, beaters would work as well. Hand mixing would be a great workout!)
Add in peanut butter and water.
Mix until dough ball forms and dough pulls away from side of bowl.
Lightly flour your working surface, roll out dough into a thin sheet (without dough breaking)
Transfer sheet of dough to an oiled cookie sheet.
Cut tiny squares with a pizza cutter.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the treats are lightly browned.
Turn off the oven and allow the treats to cool inside the oven (this will make them crispy!)
Break apart the treats, and use as rewards for good doggy behavior!
Store excess treats in the freezer!
Just for perspective, this makes two entire containers of doggie crackers!
So I failed at posting a long, mushy-gushy one-year anniversary story.
Instead, over 2 Caramel Macchiatos at Starbucks (Daniel’s former workplace), we came up with this list of 9 things that we have learned in the past year.
1. Laundry and dishes don’t do themselves. And it doesn’t get any easier to do either after said laundry or dishes pile up for days…
2. Cold hand and feet aren’t necessarily a function of the weather outside.
3. I (Holly) have no concept of time. Daniel is the only thing that allows us to get places at a reasonable time.
4. Your husband can’t read your mind (nor does he want to).
5. Sometimes it’s hard being a grown up.
6. Don’t wait until you get to church to have your morning cup of coffee. Many irritable Sunday mornings could have been avoided if we had just made coffee at home before going to church (where there is FREE coffee).
7. I (Holly) have an extremely difficult time sleeping if the husband isn’t home at bedtime. Weird.
8. Even if you may be a creature of habit, don’t feed your husband the same exact meals day after day after day after day…
9. It’s fun having a buddy around all the time!
Most importantly though, we have learned how to love. Love God, Love one another and love others!
So my beautiful wife has been wanting me to post on here for a while, but since she does most (all) of the cooking and picture-taking I don’t have much to add to her posts. However, one thing I love that she doesn’t is beer– good beer. And as Holly is gluten intolerant and hates beer, I’ve finally found a way to contribute to our blog without repeating everything she already said.
I’m no expert on beer, but my homebrewing ex-roommates have turned me into a moderately enthusiastic beer connoisseur. I’ll share a little of what I know, review exciting new brews that I’ve sampled, and probably do some research on the finer points of beer culture to share with you.
First off, tasting beer is a four or five-step process, depending on who you talk to. There are typically five things you want to look for when experiencing a beer (in the following order): Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Finish.
Appearance is an obvious step. What does your beer look like? What color is it– amber, black, copper, red, opaque/transparent/translucent? When the beer is poured (whether from a bottle or draught) what type of head appears on top of the beer? As your drink the beer, does the foam stick to your glass or recede with the level of liquid? Does the beer have a thick or thin consistency?
Since much of our experience with flavors and taste is linked to our sense of smell, it is important to examine the
The nose knows.
Aroma that the beer brings to the table. Much like wine, aroma varies greatly from one brew to another and people can think of all kinds of ridiculous words to use when describing it. I usually take a couple swirls and sniffs. The first time around, I just notice what jumps out at me. Stouts and porters often give off scents of chocolate or coffee, while IPA’s normally hit you in the face with strong hops aromas. The second sniff, I try to examine the odors more deeply and try to pick up on the less distinct notes in the brew. These might include cherries, oats, cardamom, orange peel, etc. **It is important to note that many factors will change the aroma as you drink the beer, including the temperature, the type of glass used, etc. Try to take a whiff every now and then as you’re working through the beer and notice different characteristics that pop out.
Hops are one of my all-time favorite smells and tastes.
Now comes the best step, Taste. If your beer has a really big head on it, let it get down to a manageable level and then give it a sip. Don’t swallow immediately. Let the beer work around your mouth and notice where the flavors are hitting your palette. This is when you’ll be able to begin describing the flavor and intensity of the beer– there might be roasted, tart, woodsy, or bready characteristics and the intensity might be muted, harsh, medicinal, or balanced (among many hundreds of other descriptors). And in case you were wondering, yes, you are allowed to dislike a beer. If you’re just beginning to get into beer, you’ll probably dislike many of the harsher beers, but I’d encourage you to revisit them after a while because your tastes will most definitely evolve. Many of the beers I hated at first have become some of my favorites.
Okay, almost done. One should also pay attention to the Mouthfeel of a beer if they want to fully experience it. Beers have varying degrees of carbonation, viscosity, alcohol, foam, and body, all of which can influence a beer’s attributes. One might say it feels velvety, tingly, or warming and could describe the body as thick, dense, full, or light.
You’ll notice that steps 3-5 really kind of piggy-back on each other as you’re sipping and swallowing the beer, but each is step distinct and important. Finally, we come to the Finish (no pun intended). After you’ve swallowed a sip of beer, certain unique tastes and sensations will linger that weren’t readily apparent while your mouth was full of liquid. If the alcohol level is high, your throat and chest may feel warm and you’ll likely notice that boozy finish in the back of your mouth. With lower alcohol levels, such as with some lambics (a type of fruity beer), one could easily mistake the drink for some bubbly juice. You’ll notice new flavors staying in your mouth and throat between sips– sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad. I’ve been initially impressed by a few beers only to be ultimately turned off to them based on certain lingering flavors that didn’t jive with me.
Congrats, you’re ready to begin delving into the deep dark world of craft beers. Again, I encourage you to revisit the above steps as your beer warms and changes; don’t just do it on the first sip. Many beers are actually better when a little warm. There are plenty of places to get some good brews for those in the Lexington area, most notably The Beer Trappe. They can be expensive, but they carry many obscure and foreign beers– plus the atmosphere is awesome and their bar always has something good on tap. If you want a lot of variety and flexibility, Liquor Barn is the place to go. They’ll let you mix and match beers so you don’t have to commit to a full sixer of one brew, and you’ll be able to broaden your horizons more easily and economically. Just keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to take risks. Good luck!
Have you ever tried kale? The curly, hearty green leaf? No? Well you should definitely acquaint yourself with this lovely specimen.
1 bunch of Kale
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp. Salt
Other seasonings (see recipe)
Preheat oven to 375
Tear your kale into bite-sized pieces, wash well.
Squeeze as much water as possible out of your kale, spread in one layer on a baking sheet
Mix together 2 tsp olive oil, 1 TBSP lemon juice and approx 1/4 tsp salt. I also added about 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, a couple drops of liquid smoke seasoning.
5. Massage your seasonings into your kale, making sure each leaf is thoroughly coated.
6. Bake your kale chips for 15-20 minutes, or until kale chips are crispy (if your oven bakes unevenly, like ours, take off the crispy chips and put the rest of the kale back into the oven to fully dehydrate).
While your chips are baking, take a piece of kale outside to your dog and proceed to take pictures:
I just did a Google search about “Dogs and kale” and apparently kale is a WONDERFUL food for your canine pal!
Get ready for some crunchy-munchy goodness once your chips are out of the oven!
We ate the entire batch in about 20 minutes. They’re addictive. You’ll seriously want to consider making 3 batches of kale chips at a time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I wanted to make a quick side dish that would keep in the fridge for a few days, so I also whipped up some gluten-free Pasta Salad
Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
1/2 c. gluten-free pasta (I used shell-shaped brown rice pasta)
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 bag frozen peas (don’t worry about thawing them!)
Lemon Juice (about 1.5 TBSP)
1 TBSP Olive Oil (I used Rosemary Olive Oil)
1/8 tsp. Garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to directions on package, rinse under cold water once noodles are al dente.
Put all veggies in a bowl.
Mix together lemon juice, oil, and seasonings.
Add cooled pasta to veggies, toss well with dressing.
Adjust seasonings to taste
Store in the fridge to let the flavors mingle, eat throughout the week!
I also whipped up a glutionous version of this salad for the hubs, but I left out the peas because he’s not always a fan of the tiny green buggers.
This weekend was a blast at the Cooper household. It seems that we have survived the end of the world. Must be all the greens we’re eating!
On Friday afternoon, I got to catch up with a friend over free Starbucks (Thanks for letting me share your gift card, Ashley!) Daniel and I also made a trip to the grocery store together to re-stock our pitiful fridge.
On Saturday, Daniel and I headed to the gym to get our sweat on. I did some easy cardio and then a killer Bodyrock.tv workout. Seriously, if you want a good workout, head over to www.BodyRock.tv and try some of Zuzana’s workouts. I did the “Hot Attack” workout on Saturday and it was fantastic (and it only took 12 minutes).
After getting sweaty, we picked up Silas and headed to Jacobson Dog park to soak up some sun (and to wear our pup out).
After our pup was thoroughly tired, we headed home and inhaled some lunch. The rest of Saturday afternoon was quite lazy- we napped, cleaned up the house, and actually sat down to dinner, TOGETHER! We grilled up some tilapia and ate it alongside some AWESOME pickled Asian cabbage and wholesome brown rice.
I’ve been meaning to “catch up” on the Harry Potter phenomenon. I read whatever books were around in 8th grade (back in 2002), but now I really want to see ALL of the movies! Daniel picked up the 5th movie and I can now say that I’ve seen movies 1, 2 and 7th I’m pretty excited about finally watching 3, 4, 5 and 6! Silas is such an attention hog!
Sunday was just as fantastic as Friday and Saturday. We went to the 10:10 service at Southland, and then we went to pick up the triplets I nanny to do a 5k. Now, the boys are only 4, so they weren’t going to run the 5k, but Daniel and I thought it would be a good idea to wear the boys out so their mom and dad could get some work done around the house!
The race that the 5 of us participated in was the “Running 4 the Sole” 5k. The entry fee? A pair of gently used shoes. The race was held along a portion of the Legacy Trail. We ran/walked with the boys, swapping “rides” in the jogging stroller every 5 minutes. Everyone had a blast, and our hard work was rewarded with ice-cold water bottles at the finish (they boys were SO excited about disposable water bottles). We dropped the boys off at home, and we brought back a “Patio Peach Tree” that Daniel promptly planted.
I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but in a few summers, we may actually get some fruit off of the tree!
Speaking of plants, here’s a garden update!
Our pea and squash plants have had quite the growth spurt! I love the curly little tendrils of the peas and beans creeping up their supports! Our tomato plans are still teeny tiny, and our herbs are coming along (slowly).
One last outdoor picture of the weekend:
And a few more indoor pictures:
Yes, our cat, Mowgli, fell asleep on a picture.
We wrapped up the night with a reading from “The Love Dare”, a daily devotional and challenge for married couples. While Daniel read, I munched on some black beans.
Stay tuned, I’ve got TWO recipes coming up for you in tomorrow’s post!
You’re probably thinking that soy lemon cookies sound absolutely disgusting. Soy=tofu or edamame (neither of which belong in cookies), and lemons? Well maybe the lemon part sounds ok.
I can assure you that these cookies are DELICIOUS!
We purchased a bag of soy flour on our last grocery trip, and once all of the refrigerated goods were put away, I immediately started scouring the internet for recipes for soy flour.
Why soy flour? For starters, it is a gluten free flour! Soy flour also boasts a whopping 14g of protein per 1/4 cup! Soy flour also has a good amount of fiber (6g, fiber is your friend)!
Anyways, here is our take on a Soy Lemon Cookie recipe that we found online!
Soy Lemon Cookies
3 TBSP melted butter or oil
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. soy flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 TBSP lemon juice
zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 TBSP water
Preheat oven to 325
Melt butter (if using) and mix in sugar, add in lemon zest.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt 3 times to lighten the flour mixture.
Add flour mixture to butter and sugar, stir.
Add water and lemon juice, mix until a crumbly dough forms
You now have 2 options: shape dough into a rectangle on a greased pan, cut into cookies. Another option: roll dough in plastic wrap, store in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Slice dough and place onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes
*I had a clumsy moment while baking these when I spilled nearly all of the lemon juice. I cannot wait to make these again with the full amount of lemon juice!*
The cookies have the perfect zesty flavor to accompany ripe strawberries and mango
This past weekend, Daniel and I ventured out to Patoka Lake in Southern Indiana.
Last fall, Daniel was driving home from Indiana when the car in front of him hit a large deer. Since it was already dark, Daniel decided to stop to make sure the people were ok. He ended up staying with the two women until a tow truck came. For the past few months, the women continued to send him e-mails thanking him for his help that night, and they continually offered us a weekend stay at their cabin near Patoka Lake. Finally, Daniel and I decided to take them up on their offer and we marked our calendars for our May 5-7 weekend away.
We stayed at Out on a Limb Retreat, a cozy cabin a mere 15 minutes from Patoka Lake. Check out their website, they offer great prices and the location is wonderful. You are just minutes away from Patoka Lake, where there is a beach, a marina, and miles of hiking trails. If you travel further west, you can get to Holiday World, if you travel north, you’ll get to French Lick in about 20 minutes, and the cabin itself is located a mere hour and change outside of Louisville!
We decided that this would be an early 1 year anniversary trip. Daniel just finished his semester at UK, and he starts his first round of summer classes tomorrow. He’ll have a weekend between this first session of summer classes and the second session, so he pretty much won’t have a break until August. We decided that an early one year celebration was better than nothing at all!
I made a special menu, went to the grocery and hung out with friends until we headed out Friday afternoon to the lake. We arrived (with growling bellies) around 5pm, and we immediately fired up the grill.
We even found a nifty bellow that we used to ensure that our charcoal was a burnin’.
We grilled up some steaks and zucchini and served them up alongside some garlic-asiago mashed potatoes and a side of baked beans. We also had some fantastic [yellowtail] tree-free Chardonnay (I really dislike the oaky flavor, but I loved this!)
Unfortunately, our zucchini tasted like sponges that had been soaked in lighter fluid. Gross. The rest of the meal was quite delicious!
We wrapped up our first night with some vanilla ice cream (Kroger brand Double Churned “Very Vanilla” is THE BEST non-specialty ice cream, EVER). Daniel was also kind enough to watch Mona Lisa Smile with me. We doze off to sleep in the KING sized bed!
The next morning, we woke up to a cloudy, drizzly day. I usually HATE cold and rainy days, BUT, it was the perfect morning to have a nice hot mug of coffee and a big bowl of oatmeal (and some eggwhites with ketchup, because I needed some “staying” power for our day)!
But who am I kidding? The oatmeal was the star of the morning
We wanted to rent kayaks, but with the combination of the cold and the rain, we decided that we might enjoy a hike a little more. We drove into the Patoka Lake area, paid the $5 fee, and started on our hike.
We were ambitious, we decided to do the 6.5 mile trail. About a mile into the hike, I tripped over a tree. A little while later, the rain started to get heavier. We decided to cut our hike short and take one of the “shortcuts” back to the parking lot.
I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see very many “fluffy” animals on our hike (we only saw a toad on the actual trail), but our shortcut let us run into some of God’s wonderful creation!
Isn’t this the most gorgeous flower you’ve ever seen?
When we got back to the cabin, we had lunch and we both decided that napping would be the perfect way to spend the rest of the afternoon. We woke up in time to watch some of the Derby, and then we decided to head up to French Lick Resort & Casino to putter around for a bit.
Before going to the resort, we went to a FREE wine tasting at French Lick Winery. We went to California in January of 2009, and we got to visit many wineries in the Anderson valley region. Each of the wineries was set in the vineyard, and the wines were absolutely delicious.
French Lick winery was located behind a CVS off of the main road in French Lick, the winery had a gravel parking lot and it looked like a warehouse, not a charming little barn or remodeled home like we saw in California.
We went in and sampled some decent dry wines, we had 1 or 2 of the “semi-dry” wines that we thought were ok, and we both wanted to gag when we tried a few of the sweet wines. Gross. It was nice to get to try some of the ‘local’ varietals, but man, Indiana grapes don’t compare to California grapes!
After the wine tasting, we went over to the French Lick Resort & Casino. Neither of us has ever been to a casino, and Daniel had some change in his pockets, so we decided to see what it was all about. The casino was smoky (no smoking ban in Indiana, yet), and it was quite a sight to see. We were shocked to learn that the “penny slots” didn’t actually have a slot that you could put pennies in! We ended up putting a $5 bill into one of the slot machines and we randomly punched the buttons. We ended up walking away with $50, and we still have no idea how those machines work.
We drove back to the cabin and had a wonderful seared tuna-steak with veggies, homemade tortilla chips (with cheese baked on, YUM) and some spicy salsa. I didn’t take any pictures because it was dark. I’ll leave you with some drive-by pictures of the lake. Because of all the rain, the beach area was closed, and the water was SUPER high.
We got to stop by my mom’s house on Mother’s Day, and then we came back home to our ,sweet animals (THANK YOU SO MUCH if you helped to take care of Silas and Mowgli this past weekend!)
We had a wonderful trip, and we would highly recommend that you stay at Out on a Limb Retreat for a relaxing and peaceful weekend!
5am- Mowgli wakes us up by meowing pathetically at our bedroom door. Daniel lets him outside.
7:30am- Daniel wakes up to his alarm (I have no clue what happens between 7:30 and when I wake up…). Silas makes noises outside our door until Daniel comes out of the room.
8:20am- I wake up, stumble into the bathroom, rinse my face, put on my glasses. Come into the kitchen where fresh, hot French Press coffee is waiting for me (so that’s what he does while I’m sleeping!)
8:25am- Sit down to breakfast. On cold days- oatmeal with PB&J. On hot days- cereal with PB&J. On days where I’m going to work out in the morning, a banana with PB&J. See a pattern here?
9am- I’m probably finished with breakfast, although sometimes I’m still working on it. Only about 1/2 done with my coffee at this point. During breakfast, I poke around online, check my email multiple times and decide if I’m going to be productive that day before work.
10am- I have no idea where the last hour has gone- I’m either working on some freelance graphic design/ad design stuff (my 3rd “job”), vacuuming the mass amounts of fur that Silas and Mowgli are shedding.
10:15am- Let Silas outside. Start a workout, I’m absolutely LOVING BodyRock.tv workouts. I think I’ve posted about them before, but they’re tough, at home workouts that use a minimal amount of equipment. They’re short, intense and I am proud to say that I have some muscles now. For real! Daniel and I took some “before we started working out” pictures back in the winter, and I took some more recent pictures. I feel weird putting them up on here, but if enough people convince me to, I just might!
11am- Probably done with my workout, trying to prepare my lunch with shaky legs and arms (a difficult task). However, if I’m nannying on this hypothetical day, I’ll probably just jump in the shower and head out the door around 11:30am.
12pm- Trying to eat some form of a lunch before rushing out the door at 12:30 so I’m not late to work (at the gym).
12:15pm- Quick dash back into the bathroom to brush my teeth. This is also when Silas strategically takes advantage of my frenzy to get out the door- he curls up on our bed and puts on his best puppy face.
12:20pm- I shoo the pup off the bed, make sure he has water, and dash out the door.
12:21-12:29pm- I dash in and out of the house because I’ve forgotten 90% of what I needed to take with me. Yes, it’s exhausting.