Friday, December 30, 2011

hello weekend

(image via The Ball Drops Here, photo credit: The New York Times)
As we wrap up 2011, I'm thinking of all that's happened over the past year, and I wanted to say thanks for taking time out of your day to read what I write over here in my little corner of the internet. I appreciate every comment and hope you'll keep reading! My plans for the tiny hummingbird are always evolving and we'll see where this year leads me. Instead of a link list from greater blogdom, here's a list of some of my favorite posts from each month, the tiny hummingbird in review.
January - we embarked on a healthy living adventure and officially announced Ezra's arrival (I just watched this mini movie -again- thatMatt made of Ezra's first day and I choked up... love him!)
February - celebrated one year of blogging and threw a bridal shower and a personal shower for Hillary.
March - thought about prioritiesstarted ice cream season off right, and made Matt an embroidered love note.
In April I bought myself flowers.
May - completed operation cardigan and made a triple chocolate cake that I must make again.
June - fell in love with macarons and sat with Ezra for a special photo shoot
July - discovered The Locals and hung some things in our dining room.
In August we tried being vegetarians for a week
In September I sort of went missing.
October - made a baby quilt with a guitar motif and a list of goals (click the link to see how I did).
November - shared Ezra's birth story, finally finished his room, and celebrated his first birthday.
December - made chocolate pretzel piecookie stars, and shared a tutorial for an advent calendar.
Many blessings to you in the new year, dear readers... here's to 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

recap: Christmas at Kelli's

Each year my friend Kelli hosts a Christmas party for the ladies in our Sunday school class. She always decorates beautifully so I couldn't resist taking lots of pictures of details from the night.  
Everyone seemed excited about the hot chocolate bar Kelli had set up. There were lots of mix-ins to add to your cup of cocoa, like crushed peppermint, chocolate shavings, miniature marshmallows, and white chocolate chips. 
Even the windowsill above the kitchen sink was decked out for the holiday!
Kelli got a Silhouette as an early Christmas gift and she put it to the test, creating lots of pretty decorations for her home. I especially loved how she displayed a manger scene on these hanging plates. 
A simple ticking wreath embellished with rolled fabric flowers dressed up the dining room windows.
Potted greens added a festive touch to shelves along the dining room walls.  
The candlelit mantle along with the lights on the Christmas tree caused the living room to glow.
Another pretty wreath hung from the windows opposite the Christmas tree and stockings hung from the stairs.
Even better than all the decorations was the sense of community we shared that night. We chatted over various appetizers, soups, and salads, and then focused on Jaclyn as she spoke about the way Jesus came to earth, shedding new light on an old story. Afterwards, we indulged in lots of sweet treats and participated in a gift exchange. If you can believe it, I'm already looking forward to next year's party! Thanks for opening your home to us, Kelli!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

recap: Christmas Day

Here's Ezra on Christmas morning. Wondering why his outfit looks familiar? That's because he wore it to dinner on Christmas Eve. I did laundry at around 11:00 pm (and we took showers and a bath to wash away the odor of fried calamari and smelts) so he could wear his candy cane stripe shirt again to church on Christmas morning. He wanted a more casual look the second time around so I let him wear his mini skinny jeans. Opening gifts was over quickly and then...
of course, Ezra enjoyed playing with the wrapping and boxes more than he enjoyed the actual gifts.
surveying the damage
 playing with an empty yogurt container
playing with a decorative ball that belongs on the mantle
and just looking cute

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

recap: Christmas Eve

Although I know there are more important and meaningful things to consider, this year my favorite part of Christmas Eve was Ezra's outfit. He wore a bow tie, for crying out loud! (Thanks, Laura!)  
With his already flyaway hair charged with static electricity he looked like the mad professor. Now if only I could dress Matt, too...
Ezra spent much of the night banging away on his great-grandmother's piano. The kid doesn't even need to read music.
He spent the rest of the night handing clementines to unsuspecting family members to peel for him. Note the bulging cheeks. 
To top off the photo sharing, here's a self-portrait of me and Matt. Can I say self-portrait if I'm not the only one in the photo? I'm saying it. Heck, I already said it. Hope your Christmas was lovely! I'll share more photos of Christmas events later on this week.
Ezra's outfit: collared shirt from Crazy 8 / chinos from The Children's Place / Chuck Taylors by Converse from Marshalls / bow tie from Crew Cuts

Friday, December 23, 2011

hello weekend

(image by Matt)
What is there to say about this weekend? It will be a whirlwind, that's for sure. Tonight (fingers crossed) we'll just stay home and relax... we're having breakfast for dinner and I can't wait to indulge in some French toast made with homemade bread and a cup of tea. Tomorrow we'll be at my parents' house in the afternoon for a lunch of homemade pizza (topped with pineapple - my favorite!) and then back in Cranston for dinner at Matt's grandmother's house. We'll leave with our bellies full of the seven fishes and our hair perfumed with eau de fried squid. Ezra is having a bath no matter what time we get home. On Sunday we're having breakfast with my family - bowls of hearty oatmeal all around - and then going to church to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Later on we'll head to Matt's parents' house for dinner and more gift exchanging. How are you spending the holiday weekend? 
- have to throw a party so I can use this idea for confetti invitations
- love the idea of a family gift swap
- save these holiday party invitations for next year
- definitely making dark chocolate bark as soon as I can think of an excuse
- I want to dress Ezra just like these guys
- see my favorite gift tag for Christmas (it's free!)
- how to do your own glittery nails
- take a minute to read "of all the ways he could have become"
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
P.S. Start planning for next weekend and check out these spots to celebrate New Year's Eve in Providence.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

a little Christmas party

If I were going to host a little Christmas party this is how I would do it...
{light some votives}
{fill up a few glass bottles with sparkling water and other fizzy drinks}
{bake like crazy}
{serve everything on these pretty confetti plates}
{work on our Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle while listening to Charlie Brown Christmas music}
{send everyone home with one of these rustic gold bells to remember the night}

all images via Crate & Barrel except the cookies (via Martha Stewart) and the puzzle (via Amazon)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a belated birthday quilt

In October my mother-in-law celebrated a milestone birthday and she asked if I would make a quilt for her redecorated bedroom. Well, really she asked for a quilt and then told me it could a birthday gift. 'Sweet,' I thought to myself. This year's gift was clearly a no-brainer. Little did she know that it would come closer to being a Thanksgiving gift than a birthday gift. Oops! 
She had the floral fabric left over from the newly reupholstered cornices and the solid green was a remnant from the trim on a set of pillow shams. Since the fabric she gave me to work with was all home decorator I stuck with that weight for the rest of the fabrics I chose. All are from Joann, even the prints she gave me to start with. 
I didn't have a pattern in mind when I began the project, but the size of the oddly shaped floral fabric remnant dictated how I would begin. Basically, I was forced to cut the floral fabric into twenty-two inch wide strips that were really really long. I cut the strips into more manageable pieces and ended up with nine rectangles, about 9" by 22." 
I brought them along to the store to pick out some coordinating prints and solids and chose a stripe in the same colors, a brown and cream print (does anyone know if that one has a name?), a solid blue, and a solid brown. Each fabric was cut into strips of varying thicknesses. Then I laid out three of each fabric into three columns, playing with the design until I was happy with it. 
The back is the same blue from the front, and you can see a tiny triangular label in the bottom right corner. My mom helped me with the free motion quilting since she has more experience with it, her machine is better equipped to handle it, and she knew I was anxious to get it done... this being December. And my mother-in-law's birthday was in October. I think the quilt ended up measuring about seventy inches by fifty something. I'm so precise.
The quilt is bound in the main floral print. Let me say that making a quilt out of home dec isn't the easiest thing to do. That was one thick stack of fabric when I was binding the corners. 
Ezra was keen on interrupting my quilt photo shoot and insisted on incessantly poking his Grandma's gift with a stick. My little boy is already obsessed with sticks.
{couldn't resist posting this photo of his chubby hand}

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

dinner with friends

From these photos, it would appear that the friends we had dinner with are a reindeer and a moose because, as usual, I forget to take any pictures once people arrived at our house. Our friend Elsa was in town for a couple of weeks so we had her and her new boyfriend, AJ, and our friends Dave & Hillary and Ed & Laura over for dinner on Friday night. I took lots of photos of our Christmas decorations and sadly not one of any people.  
birch bark reindeer :: mossy pot & bronze ornaments :: candles
tea lights :: olive leaf votive :: birch bark moose
our advent calendar is slowly being covered by Christmas cards
twinkle lights illuminating a silhouette of Ezra
more twinkle lights!
a little country church :: bread basket :: salad dressing
Haha... our night was much more than random Christmas decorations, but you'll have to take my word for it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

cookie stars

To kick off the week before Christmas, I'm sharing what I thought was a fantastic idea (if I may say so) for easy and festive cookies. Have any parties to go to this week? Were you pegged to bring a dessert on Christmas Day? These cookies have your name written all over them. They're also delicious, as cookies should be. The process is simple. Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough (I used this classic recipe) and instead of making drop cookies, spread the dough into a baking pan. Bake as directed. Mine only took about twenty-two minutes in a 375° oven. 
While the giant cookie rectangle is baking, rummage through your kitchen drawers to find your favorite cookie cutters. I selected four stars of different sizes. When the "cookies" come out of the oven, you can do one of two things. Either allow the cookie to cool and cut out your shapes later, or get right to work.
We had plans to go out as soon as my oven timer dinged, so I was forced to let the cookie cool before cutting. I think it would have been easier to cut the star shapes if it hadn't cooled for a couple of hours. Ten to fifteen minutes would have probably been enough. Then I wouldn't have needed to use my entire body weight to press the cookie cutters into the cookie bar and a dishtowel to protect my hands from the sharp edges that were digging into my flesh. Learn from my mistakes, please. 
Anyway, cut out whatever shapes you like from the cookie bar and then enjoy! This is now my official method of making chocolate chip cookies. I know bar cookies aren't new, but I've never really made them before and they're so much easier than drop cookies. One pan makes for much less clean up, and you're not waiting for batch after batch to come out of the oven. So chocolate chip cookie bars it is, and if I'm feeling fancy I'll dig out the cookie cutters. Maybe next time I'll make some wild animals!
Bonus: there are a lot of cookie scraps left over, and you don't even have to share those with your guests.

Friday, December 16, 2011

hello weekend

(image via Garden City's facebook page)
Tonight Matt and I are spending time with some friends, one of which we don't get to see very often and her new beau! We're keeping it simple and just making pasta and Italian bread. My friend Hillary is bringing a salad and my friend Laura is bringing dessert so I'm off the hook for two courses. And of course there will be tea. This weekend also brings another Christmas party, this time with our youth group at church. I've spent a month wrapping empty boxes for the centerpieces and I can already see them being turned into projectiles and hurled across the gym. Anyway, here are my favorite finds from the week... I'm going to click away while enjoying the scent of baking bread. What are you up to this weekend? 
- found my 2012 calendar... and it's free!
- it's official: the color of the year is tangerine tango
- give the gift of a mini frying pan. no, really!
- want to pick up a box of ginger pear tea next time I'm at Trader Joe's
- check out this holiday mixtape if you're in need of Christmas spirit
- on the merits of saving old recipes
- this winter hat would look so cute on my head (and that's a compliment to the hat, not to me)
- Jonathan Adler teams up with Skip Hop
- aaand here's another free album for your listening pleasure - Hey, It's Christmas, volume 2. (Check out volume one while you're there, too.)
Don't forget: the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

chocolate covered pretzel pie

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a wicked sweet tooth, but I'm also a big fan of salty things. Put them together and I'm in heaven. A couple weekends ago we were invited to dinner and I knew just what to bring for dessert.
This chocolate covered pretzel pie. Chocolate? Check. That pretty much sums up my criteria for a good dessert. And the crust was pretzels and butter, for crying out loud. Can't forget that there was fresh whipped cream covering the whole thing. And more chocolate.
We ate slices of it off of my friend's cute dessert plates that (I think...) her sister got her from Anthropologie.
Between four people we killed almost the whole pie. I ate the only remaining piece the next day, pretty much for dinner. Let's just say I'll definitely make it again. 
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