Wednesday, March 31, 2010

leftover Halloween candy cookies

Before you get grossed out because Halloween was 5 months ago, let me say I bought candy specifically so I could make these cookies.  I've had the Reese's in the cupboard for a couple of weeks and with all the rain I decided it was a perfect afternoon for baking and got right to work.  As I sat down to read the recipe again it occurred to me that maybe I should just take a second to check the basement for flooding since we're having record rainfall in Rhode Island.  Well, I was met with 3 inches of water at the bottom of the stairs, but I just turned around and marched back up because I wasn't going to start doing anything until Matt got home.  He arrived within an hour and we started carrying buckets outside while the cookies baked.  During one trip into our (hopefully) temporary pond my camera slid out of the pocket of my hoodie and landed in the drink!  Matt quickly rescued it but I think it's curtains for the ol' Panasonic.  I had no time to mourn because I was handed a 10 gallon bucket and had no choice but to trudge back up the stairs and outside into the torrential downpour.  We made many more trips up and down the stairs, but soon my cookie timer went off and I got to take a break from water removal duty.  I was quite pleased with they way the cookies turned out - funny looking but delicious.  However, I think the recipe's author and I have very different ideas about the size of walnuts.  Does anyone know any other good recipes that require peanut butter cups?    

Update: We retrieved Matt's camera from his parents' house so I've added my own photos.  Thanks to Julie for letting me borrow her photo temporarily.  However, there's still no finished cookie photos since my camera was kaput before they were out of the oven.  Also, here is a video taken at the Warwick Mall which is less than 2 miles from our house and home to my favorite Target. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Patch NYC

Have you heard about the collaboration between West Elm and Patch NYC?  I've been trying to personalize our home more over the past few months and I think some of these pieces would look lovely here on Oak Hill Terrace.  The framed wall art is very affordable and looks very nice clustered together.  Definitely an option for our blank dining room walls.  I'm a sucker for pretty dishes and this ceramic entertaining set is right up my alley and also affordable.  Pillows, ah pillows... I've never met one I don't like and these covers match our living room perfectly.  It must be a sign.        
My favorite framed pieces are the butterfly, rose, and thistle.  The little pigeon dish is so funny - I would want to use it every day just to make myself smile.  Like I said earlier, I'm not picky when it comes to pillows and the covers in PATCH NYC's collection are no exception.  We'll have to see if any of them make their way over here.
See what John and Don have to say on their blog right here.
Read Holly's post about the collabo here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

sweet shower

This weekend I attended a shower for my friend Sarah who's getting married on June 19th this year.  She and her fiance Ben are having their ceremony at our church and then moving the party downtown to the Providence Piers where they'll dance the night away. 
The shower was given by her sisters, Laura and Leah, and their mother Lorraine, and it was hosted by close family friends, Rocco and Annmarie.  Everyone worked together to create a special day for the bride-to-be that she'll always remember.  
guests were greeted by this cheery wreath
a banner to welcome the guest of honor
a collection of photos of the bride and groom was displayed
festive pompoms and stars affixed to the ceiling at the entrance to Rocco & Annmarie's home
lanterns and candles made the party sparkle
a focal point of the day was a quilt that Sarah is working on for her and Ben (whose last name is Read)
guests enjoyed pink lemonade, peach iced tea, and basil water served in mason jars
Laura, Sarah's sister, is a culinary student at Johnson & Wales University and she baked chocolate lava cakes with spiced whipped cream and fresh strawberry preserves for dessert.  Yummy!
I chose a punch bowl set for Sarah and Ben - it's such a great thing to have around for entertaining!
a spring candy bar complete with paper bags for guests to fill up and enjoy
I'm looking forward to see all the details Sarah incorporates into their wedding day.  You'll hear more about that in late June!

Friday, March 26, 2010

a crafty giveaway

Check out this rad giveaway from LeahPeah's Creative Human Magazine and sponsored by Canvas Corp.  It's in honor of National Craft Month and includes all kinds of great stuff like pushpins, scrapbooking pages, colored pencils, homeplanning layouts, and teeny tiny clothespins.  Just hop on over and leave a comment sharing your deepest darkest secret.  You'll find out on Monday if you're the lucky winner.  Via Cool Mom Picks

sweet dreams

Last night I feel asleep listening to my favorite night time music, bedtime beats, the secret to sleep.  I've been listening to bedtime beats for a few years, not every night of course, but whenever I feel an extreme need to decompress.  If there was ever a week that necessitated decompression it would be this one.  The music featured on the disc is based on research performed at Case Western Reserve University which found that "classical and soft jazz music played at 60-80 beats per minute induces sound sleep."  I'm inclined to agree because whenever I actually settle down to sleep I don't hear more than one song and I'm out.  Bedtime Beats was very popular at the childcare center where I used to work... the kids would drop like flies at nap time which was a good thing for all involved.  Get your copy here.      

Thursday, March 25, 2010

free wedding printables

Can you believe this?!  e.m.papers is offering a black and white wedding printables kit... for free!  The kit includes a wedding invitation, a save the date card, a response card, a wedding program, a menu, place cards, table numbers, a seating list, and a thank you card.  Everything is completely customizable and you can print it yourself.  Talk about easy!  What more do a bride and groom need?  My favorite piece is the bicycle topped invitation.  To take advantage of this fantastic freebie, simply visit e.m.papers, add the kit to your shopping cart, give up your email address, and download away once it's in your inbox!  I can't wait to use all the pieces of this adorable stationery suite.  What's your favorite piece? Via How about orange... via iDiY.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free Cone Day

(image via English Muffin)
So yesterday was free cone day at Ben & Jerry's and it rained for the third year in a row.  Like I mentioned before, this is not a problem because it cuts down on store traffic.  Matt and I headed to Providence with a few friends and waited in line a mere one time because the rain dampened our spirits.  We got there later than intended and it was slim pickin' so I had trusy ol' Phish Food.  Not ideal but still delicious.  The Brown Band entertained the crowd while we waited in line which was almost worth the drive, even if there hadn't been free ice cream!  They covered Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Amazing!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Laura & Ed

Our friends Laura and Ed are getting married this August and she's appointed me "head honcho" of design.  I'm not kidding, I've seen her To Do List and that's my official title.  Anyway, we're going to be sprucing up a rather large and barren space so I've been compiling ideas for the big day.  The room is basically a blank slate and I'm looking forward to filling it with color, pattern, and texture.  Laura wants to create a big impact when the guests enter the room so we're planning on using glass vessels overflowing with manzanita branches hung with votive candles, draped with amaranthus, or adorned with tiny flowers.  Her newest idea is to fill the glass with Bosc pears and have the manzanita branches breaking the surface of the fruit.  

   (image via the knot)

Laura also wants to make some of Martha's tissue paper pom-poms to string along the sides.  Etsy sellers Party Poms, pomlove, and Prost to the Host sell pom-poms and garlands (here, hereand here) similar to the ones I would like to create for Laura and Ed's wedding.  

(image via Party Poms)

Laura also wants to have an old-fashioned soda bar as seen on Oh Happy Day.  Read more about Jordan's idea here at project wedding.  Another option is setting the tables with bottles that coordinate with the colors of the wedding.  Yacht Club Soda in North Providence is a great bottling company where Laura would be able to find old-fashioned sparkling beverages in nearly any flavor and color.  

(image via Jordan)

The bluecube is a self-described "guest magnet" and Laura and Ed want it.  What is the bluecube?  Well according to Matt, it's an automatic memory maker and a party starter... it's a photobooth.  I'm sure Matt of blueflash will deliver (please excuse the shameless plug for my husband) on his promise and the bluecube will be the hit of the wedding.  Besides the love and stuff of course.  

Laura and I in the bluecube last weekend

Now on to the attire... Laura's dress has been picked out for a few months now but I'll just say it looks stunning on her and leave it at that.  Her bridesmaids are going to be wearing a dress that is very similar to this j.crew dress that is no longer available.  Laura's sister and maid (er, matron) of honor Leah made her this Cynthia Rowley dress in fuschia for Christmas and it looks fantastic.  The Walach women are going to replicate it for all the bridesmaids.  I may just have to borrow the pattern to sew up a dress for myself!

The boys are going to wear some sort of J.Crew vest and pant ensemble, but I recommended that Laura check out the Liberty of London collection for Target (see my past post about the collection here) to add some flair to their apparel.  I'm especially concerned about what the groomsmen are wearing since Matt is in the wedding and I want him looking spiffy.  My favorite coordinating accessories are these two ties, here and here.

I can't wait to get started on all the projects for their August nuptials!  Any suggestions?  

Monday, March 22, 2010

i love me some dutch baby

It's important to start the week off right with a yummy breakfast so I present to you one of my all-time a.m. favorites, the Dutch baby.  It's a light, buttery treat that never fails to make my day, whether I'm enjoying it for breakfast, an impromptu dinner, or as a late night snack.  In fact, I could really go for one now.  Martha Stewart Living ran an article a few years ago about cast iron and recipes to make using cast iron and one of the suggestions was a German pancake.  I had never heard of one before but set out to make one the night I read the article.  It's made of ingredients I always have on hand so it was quick and easy to whip together and I LOVED IT.  My recipe is written on a tiny monogrammed piece of note paper and I can't find the original on Martha's website so here it is - 
Dutch Baby
3 large eggs
1/2 C flour
1/2 C milk
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
2 T butter
Heat oven to 400°.  Whisk eggs to combine.  Add flour to eggs and whisk until smooth.  Add milk, salt, and vanilla and mix to incorporate; set aside.  Add butter to a cast iron skillet and transfer to oven until melted.  Remove from oven and quickly pour batter into the skillet.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  At this point you can add whatever toppings you like, such as freshly squeezed lemon juice, confectioners sugar, or preserves.  I'm usually too impatient to bother with any of that so I eat it plain... delicious!

ready for the oven

This one and this one are similar to my recipe.  I think I'd like to try the second - honey and cardamom with apples sounds heavenly.  Check out TasteSpotting for more variations here and here.  Someone even had the fantastic idea of making Dutch babies in mini muffin tins... genius!  Can't wait to try that next time I host a brunch.  Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has a version that she refers to as loopy breakfast goodness.  I would have to agree with her on that description.

Other pancake-like breakfast foods I would like to sample - ebelskivers!  I need this pan and this cookbook for my birthday.  And these would be quite helpful, I'm sure.  Matt?  Mom?  Are either of you reading this?

Friday, March 19, 2010

trunk show chic

Another fun event this weekend was the grand opening of the Trunk Show Chic showroom downtown at the Providence Piers.  Trunk Show Chic is a company that sells their own line of new and vintage jewelry, Zoho Couture, and other brands including Chicklet, Varadian Beaded Couture, One Language, Alex and Ani, and In Bloom.  Matt, owner of blueflash photography (and my husband) brought the bluecube and it was the hit of the party, second only to all the gorgeous jewelry.  Here are some photos from the bluecube... don't you want to rent it for your next party?     
As for the jewelry, I can personally vouch for its awesomeness.  I drooled over a piece at one of his photo shoots that Trunk Show Chic was providing jewelry for (hair accessories provided by In Bloomand he very sweetly remembered I loved it and bought it for me for Valentine's Day.  It's a Zoho Couture piece, Lucky in Love, and I LOVE it and get tons of compliments on it.  I love that it has the Italian horn (that way I can ward off the Malochia) and a giant piece of quartz.  Rachel has designed a lot of other fabulous bracelets and necklaces that are equally eye-catching, including this one, which I love because one of its charms is a rhinestone-studded whistle.  I also have a set of Alex and Ani expandable bangles, some with charms and some without.  For now I've got my eye on this canvas tote screen printed with a bicycle by One Language.  Check out the Trunk Show Chic site or book an event at the showroom to take a closer look at all the designs, and visit blueflash to view the rest of the bluecube gallery.  So, between the evening of enchantment and this par-tay we had a very busy weekend.  I'm looking forward to a low-key couple of days - a work project with the youth group during the day and movie night on Saturday, and church on Sunday.  What are your plans for this weekend?  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

an evening of enchantment

My friend Laura and I attended an evening of enchantment at the Botanical Center in Providence on Saturday night.  It was thrown by a number of fabulous local wedding and event vendors, two of which we used for our wedding - Kristin Spencer and Stoneblossom Floral and Event Design.  Laura and I braved the torrential rain to gain some inspiration for her wedding day which is coming up this August.  We enjoyed the delicious cuisine of Russell Morin Fine Catering and sampled tiny sweets by Confectionery Designs.  Entertainment was provided by World Premier Band, a lively group of guys who know how to pack the dance floor!  The event was beautifully lit by Ormonde Productions and all of the amazing rentals were furnished by Rentals Unlimited.  Read more about the night (and see lots more photos!) on the Stoneblossom blog here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

As an Irish lass I feel it is my duty to write about Saint Patrick's Day.  My mom has always made Irish soda bread during the entire month of March for as long I can remember so I grew up associating it with Saint Paddy's Day and my Irish heritage... yeah, who doesn't, I know.  Anyway, it makes a great breakfast on the run, mid-afternoon snack, or light dessert.  This year I tried my hand at the recipe my great-grandmother Sadie used to make.  Here she is with my great-grandfather Jack.  They both traveled to America from County Cork, Ireland in the steerage section of The Canard.  Don't they look glamorous?  They were married in 1926 at Saint Peter's Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  

And here are my grandparents, a Scot and an Irishwoman, with my mom as a baby.  With six children older than my mom I think they look quite relaxed, don't you agree?  I hope I would have the energy to get my hair done and be fully accessorized if I were to have seven small children!  By the way, eight years after my mom they had one more!

Now on to the baking!  It's a simple recipe to make and I've no doubt it will turn out better for you than it did for me.  I checked the bread when it had about ten minutes left and to my utter dismay I found that it was as brown as a graham cracker and not the familiar creamy white to which I'm accustomed.  In a later conversation with my mother I was informed that although the recipe says to bake for an hour it really only takes about 40 minutes.  That would have been good to know before I baked my bread.  No worries though - as soon as it was cool I sliced it up and quickly tasted a piece.  I found it to be delicious and not dry in the least!  My favorite way to have Irish bread is toasted and buttered.  What's yours?   

Irish Soda Bread
3 C flour
2/3 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 3/4 C raisins
1 T caraway seeds
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 buttermilk
2 T melted shortening
Preheat oven to 350° and grease a cast iron pan or loaf pan.  Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.  Combine eggs, buttermilk, and shortening in a small bowl.  Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and combine until flour is just moistened.  Turn into greased pan and bake for about 40 minutes.  Remove from pan immediately.  Allow to cool through before serving.       

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

free and ice cream in the same sentence

Did you know that every year Ben & Jerry's has a day where you can stand in line for a free cone of ice cream? Well they do!  This year it's March 23rd and if you live in Rhode Island your options are standing in line off of Thayer Street in Providence or on Thames Street in Newport.  I'll be heading to Providence as soon as Matt gets out of work so we have time to stand in line at least twice.  Care to join us?  Last year it was raining which one might think would be a downer.  Au contraire, my friend!  Rain meant lots of people wimped out so the line was short.  I was wearing my galoshes and carrying my umbrella so a few drops of rain were not going to deter me from free ice cream, world's best food.  Did I mention it was free?  I think I had a cone of Mint Chocolate Cookie the first time around and then Coconut Seven Layer Bar... mmm!  This year my plan is to sample Crème Brûlée and Mud Pie.  And then maybe I'll top it all off with a scoop of S'mores.  Locate a Scoop Shop near you here.  What flavors will you get?

Monday, March 15, 2010

spring is here!

We don't have any daffodils or crocuses so the first signs of spring in our yard show up a little later, but I was just as happy to see them.  Unfortunately, since everything in the flower bed in our front yard was just planted last year I can't remember if these are lilies or irises.  Only time will tell, but in the meantime they still look cheery!  Are things looking spring-y in your neighborhood? 
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