Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Spring Day in February

The sun shone bright through our windows this morning bright and early at seven am! This is exciting because we are slowly but surely gaining more and more light each day as we approach summer. 
Paper snowflakes are still up in several windows of the house, and with the sun shining through, it seemed like winter was really over...
But all it took was a glance at the weather report for next week to see that snow was coming. The family has given up hope for the skiing season this year, and with the early morning sunshine we all found ourselves hoping that Spring was finally on its way. 

It may not be coming just yet with snow being forecasted, but at least for today it felt like Spring, and we were going to enjoy it!

Sunshine streams through the windows of the pantry.

Quinn brought a chair into the kitchen to sit in the sun during a lull in the practicing schedule. 

It was hard to stay focused on practice when the sunshine seemed to be calling our names...
So as soon as our lunch break came around, we were out the door in search of the prettiest, warmest, patch of sunshine!

Abby, Quinn and I all piled in the car and headed out North Douglas to the beach. We knew the sunshine would be warm, the wind would smell of the sea, and the mountains would be beautiful against the blue ocean and sky.                                                                                       But first we had to get there! And there was a board walk in the way. A board walk that was still very icy and slippery in places where the sun had not yet reached them. 

It was colder then we liked in the shade, so we were thrilled when we finally came to the open beach.

Quinn quickly whipped out a sword and started climbing cliffs in search for the perfect vantage point, while Abigail found a nice flat spot in the rocks to sit and soak up the sun.

It was true, the day was gorgeous! But all too soon it was time to go back and continue practicing. 
Oh well, at least we enjoyed it while we could!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Molasses & Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Time to get those aprons on! 

Today, I made one of my most favorite types of cookies: molasses and ginger crinkles! I thought I would share the recipe here with you for fun.

Lets get started!

I'll walk you through the recipe here in this post. The full recipe will be listed at the bottom of this page for your convenience later - when you make your own crinkle cookies! 

Please let us know how yours turned out!

Dry ingredients first! 

Pour 2 1/2 cups of flour into a nice big bowl - soon there will be a lot in it! 

Next add 2 teaspoons of baking soda.

Three of my favorite spices are next! Add in 1 1/2 each of ground cinnamon and ginger, then 1 teaspoon of ground cloves

Your kitchen will smell like Christmas itself!

Add a pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon) and then your dry ingredients are ready to be...

Mixed together and set aside!

On to the wet ingredients! Though...we actually start with 1 cup of packed brown sugar (which should be dry, not wet). Put that 1 cup of packed brown sugar in an empty bowl.

From there, we will add in 3/4 cup of cooking oilDon't throw that measuring cup in the sink just yet, we'll be using it again in a moment!
Now, the next part Quinn had to help me on. Molasses jars can be very hard to open with their sticky contents, so to all you ladies out there, make sure you have a nice, strong man around like Quinn to help you out with it. After you have your molasses jar open, use the measuring cup you used for the oil to measure out 1/4 cup molasses. Because of the oil, the molasses will pour out nice and smooth!
And last, but not least, a single egg is all that needs to be added for this cookie dough to be ready for mixing!
Now mix all your wet ingredients together and pour them in to the nice big bowl of dry ingredients you had set aside earlier. 

Now you're going to mix mix mix with a nice mixer till the dough is too thick to continue. Once this happens, roll up your sleeves and start stirring with a nice wooden spoon. 
Boy, my siblings and I could tell you stories about wooden spoons. Namely, being spanked with them. Not that I got spanked often. You can ask my parents, it's the truth. Quinn also agrees he got spanked a lot. 
Don't worry though, it hasn't done either of us any lasting emotional damage. Once you're done, all the flour should be totally mixed in. Make sure there's no white left!

Now's the time for your man (mine being Quinn) to light your stove and turn the gas on. Set your oven to bake at 375 F.

Pour some white sugar into a small bowl. (we're going to roll our cookies in sugar because it makes them extra good!) 
Now, use a cookie scooper (or your hands) to scoop out cookie dough in 1 inch ballsThis particular cookie scooper I got as a bridal shower gift from two girls I babysat for several years. 
They knew how much I loved baking cookies, and they thought the most important thing I needed to have in my new kitchen was a cookie scoop! Thanks Rebecca and Melissa! 

Roll the cookies in sugar and place them about an inch or so apart on a cookie sheet (no need to grease it, remember all that oil?). 
Stick your cookies in the oven for 10 minutes. It may seem like an eternity, but try to wait! I promise these cookies are worth it.

Now don't those just look yummy? In fact, lets put the kettle on and make some tea!                                                        And after the tea is ready, maybe you could snuggle up with a blanket and your freshly made cookies?

I think that sounds like an amazing idea!

Molasses & Ginger Crinkle Cookies
     Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Ginger Crinkles Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg

Stir together the first five ingredients plus 1/4 teaspoon salt, stir to combine. Combine the other remaining ingredients and beat. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and beat well. Form one-inch balls with hands or cookie scoop. Roll in granulated sugar if desired (but you should!), then place two inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet for ten minutes in a 375 degree oven. Take out and let cool on racks. Seal in container for munching on later, or enjoy right away!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy Birthday to Laura

If there's one thing we love in the Zahasky household (besides coffee, chocolate, and sunshine), it's a party! Yesterday marked Laura's 24th birthday, but we celebrated early, having a party for her last Saturday. One of the ovens was covered in brightly wrapped presents, and the whole house was filled with delicious smells. 

The table was set, everything was ready...
we just needed the birthday girl!

Laura wore a sparkly birthday crown all throughout the evening, especially made by me! It proudly said "Birthday Queen" on it (for she was indeed the Birthday Queen).

While Mom and Dad worked in the kitchen to get everything finished, Quinn and Laura tried to get Xochie to sing "Happy Birthday" (her favorite song to sing, unless it's someone's birthday of course...). 

Everyone was given a start when dad, after coming out of the cupboard, said "There's a mouse in there!" I know I jumped a bit! A mouse? In the cupboard!? 

It wasn't until everyone looked with surprise at the cupboard did they understand Dad's joke...

An adorable little felted mouse Abigail had given mother not long ago.

Abigail helped mom put the finishing touches on the incredible torte she had made as a birthday cake for Laura. Layers of chocolate, homemade whipped cream, raspberries and mint chocolate shavings had everyone more excited for dessert than dinner! 

How on earth would we wait for such
a lovely birthday cake?!

Dinner was wonderful, and before we knew it, it was time for presents!

What was Laura's favorite present you ask? 
Well of course it was the fancy coffee given to her by mom and dad! Coffee is always the best present.

24 birthday candles were lit,

a song was sung,

and the candles were blown out to cheers and laughs. 

As an after dinner treat, everyone gathered out on the back porch in the rainy, windy weather to light lanterns...that way all of Juneau would know that it was Laura's special day!
What makes a house a home, you ask?

Well we think the answer is this:

It’s a place to fill with love and family,

A place when you’re gone you’ll miss.

It’s a place where memories have been made,

It’s the place where new memories will come.

A home is not always tidy or clean,

But you’re proud to say where you’re from.

The windows hold faces of people you love

There are pictures of people you miss…

And on cold winter evenings we’ll gather around

We’ll laugh and talk and reminisce. 

And as the last lantern became only a twinkling light 

in the dark, Alaskan sky, 

we all wished Laura a most wonderful happy birthday. 

We hope this next year is amazing for you Laura!