Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Isn't life just duckie? | a shower for Ari

Last weekend I had the pleasure of helping my dear friend Ari's mom prepare for a shower to help welcome baby "Duckie," Ari's little girl who should be joining us in about a month. We were inspired by this theme from Hostess with the Mostess; Donna decided to go with it since Ari and her husband Matt are calling the baby Duckie until they reveal her name once she makes her debut.

We used lots of things we had on hand to dress up the home where the shower was held... mirrors, glass marbles, punch bowls, rubber ducks... just kidding about having the rubber ducks on hand, Donna bought those. Although now I have five on hand since she gave me some to take home for Ezra's bath time enjoyment.

I put together a little guest book of sorts where everyone who attended the shower could write notes of love and encouragement both to Ari and Matt and to the baby. (Recognize the font? Yeah. It's my new favorite.)

A garland of baby photos of Ari was hung across the fireplace. See the one on the top right? It's Donna when she was pregnant with Ari - such a sweet addition to an already charming display.

This guy presided over the festivities. Notice his tissue paper pom pom bubble bath. That's right. I made pom poms. Again.

Donna even made sure we had coordinating plates - she used hot glue to attach blue marbles to plain white dinnerware. Fancy! (See the tablecloth? It's really a fabric remnant and I got to take it home with me... score! Thanks, Taylor :)

We served brunch and I must say that everything was exceedingly tasty. My favorites were the baked prosciutto egg cups, cranberry scones, and mini white cheddar muffins. For dessert, Ari's sister Mia made chocolate cupcakes with the best peanut butter frosting ever. I repeat: the best peanut butter frosting ever. Must get the recipe from her. 

Friends within wombs! Ari is on the left and our friend Karissa (of klm photography fame - remember our birth photos and these special photos, too?) is on the right. Karissa is due about a month after Ari and she's having a baby boy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DIY business cards, take two

Hello hello! Remember the business cards I whipped up? I ended up liking them so much that I made a couple other variations, and it turns out I like them even better. Those chartreuse stripes are pretty sweet. My stack is already dwindling after an event with The PVD Lady Project at The Dorrance a couple weeks ago. I don't know if I should make some more or if I should commit to a design and get some printed. What do you think?

Monday, February 27, 2012

menu of the week

Sorry for the radio silence last week... my computer went from exhibiting minor symptoms of distress to literally falling apart. We're waiting on the arrival of a new fan and hinges so Matt can repair it, so for now I'm using his ten year old laptop but at least I'm back! A few highlights from the weekend before I share last week's menu:
- Our friends Matt & Kayla got engaged on Friday night - hooray!
- We shared a delicious meal with friends on Saturday night and learned that Ezra loves carrot soup. (Who knew British carrots have their very own website?)
- Yesterday I put together what I thought was an awesome outfit but when I went downstairs Matt told me that I looked like a "hobo grandma." Clearly he doesn't know a thing about mixing patterns. Just had to share that because I thought it was funny. (For those of you who are wondering, I wore a circle skirt with a large floral print, a cheetah print cardigan, black leggings, gray suede moccasins, and a wrinkled blue scarf).

So what did we eat last week? Some pretty tasty things. Check 'em out....
ginger and lentil soup - Ginger is a flavor I tend to shy away from. It's just a little too strong for me, but since I'm always encouraging Matt to try new flavors and give foods a second chance I felt I should take my own advice. I think this soup was extra good because Matt made it, not because he's a wonderful cook but because I didn't have to. We added lots of Gruyère, so how could it not be delicious?

let's eat with our fingers quesadillas - Another recipe from 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, this one was even better than the frugalista burritos we tried a few weeks ago. It was so simple to put together and the flavors were a lot more vibrant than I thought they would be. To recreate this meal, just chop and onion and a couple potatoes and sauté them in a little olive oil. Add some beans (I used about two cups of kidney) and continue to stir over medium heat. When you're ready to serve mix in some Monterey Jack (again with the cheese!) and wrap it all up in a tortilla. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

black pepper pasta - This is a recipe for one of those nights when you forgot to defrost anything and you have next to nothing in the fridge. Boiling the pasta in chicken broth gives it a more substantial flavor to stand up against the bold taste of the pepper.

slow cooked sweet potato chili - Anything cooked in a crock pot is your friend because when 6:00 rolls around, dinner is done. In my case, it was done before I even woke up because Matt sweetly prepped all the ingredients before he went to work. Our house smelled spicy all day. In a good way. And of course, we added some cheddar when it was time to eat.

Italian wedding soup - Italian wedding soup is one of my favorites, but I must confess I had never made it before this week. I've had a recipe from Giada's Family Dinners for years but I was intimidated by the seventy-five mini meatballs it required. Silly, I know, so I overcame my fear and rolled them all up before church on Sunday morning. After that the rest was super simple - boil some broth, add the meatballs and chopped escarole, stir in some grated Parmigiano and eggs, season with salt and pepper, and you're done! And it was so so good. (I only used ground beef rather than a combination of beef and pork.)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway to celebrate the blog's second birthday! I've added a few more things to the goody bag - paper bunting and some twiggy pencils. You have until Wednesday to leave a comment.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

tea leaves

If you've been reading the tiny hummingbird for any length of time you know I love the library (thanks, Ben Franklin), especially my library. Ezra and I are there at least once a week picking up volumes on our current favorite topics: food from scratch, Paris, and toilet training. Home Made falls into the - you guessed it - food from scratch category.  

This section on making tea is one of my favorite parts. Author Yvette Van Boven describes how to forage for ingredients and blend flavors. I'd love to explore making my own brews because lately I've been sticking to wild raspberry or tazo passion, but I need to mix things up. The best tea of all time (yes, it's that good) is Aveda comforting tea and I've recreated it in the past with just peppermint, licorice root, basil, and fennel (that's all it is!) but I think it's time to perfect my blend. In fact I think I'll go have a cup right now. What are your favorite teas? And you simply must go check out Home Made and the rest of Yvette's work!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

happy birthday to my blog

It's a big day here at the tiny hummingbird... it's been two years since I started blogging and I can't believe how important it's become to me. I love updating each week and would do it even if no one ever read it, so it makes it that much sweeter that you all are here. Thanks for reading, for commenting,  and for making logging in to blogger each day something I look forward to. To celebrate, I'm giving away a few little things to one reader... here's a peek at some of the goodies - 

 and some washi tape magnets

I plan on adding a few more fun treats, too, like some hand stamped cards and some other things I have up my sleeve.

There are two ways to enter the giveaway. Here's the deal -   
1. Leave a comment on this post. Any comment at all. If you're so inclined, you can tell me your favorite thing about the tiny hummingbird.
2. Mention the giveaway on your blog, facebook page, or twitter and link back to this post to spread the word! Then come back and leave a separate comment to let me know.
Best of luck to you all!

Giveaway Guidelines
- You have one week to enter this giveaway (closes Wednesday, February 29th at midnight)
- anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure I know who you are and how to contact you!
- the winner will be chosen randomly and announced in next week's hello weekend post on Friday, March 2nd
- winner must respond within seven days to secure the prize or an alternate winner will be randomly selected

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

happy mail // lovely indeed

Isn't mail the best? Not the endless stack of unwanted flyers and bills, but mail that deserves to be mailed. A couple weeks ago Chelsea of Lovely Indeed said she was going to send a little something to her readers so I signed up, but soon forgot about it.

Then when I discovered a bright orange envelope from New York in our mailbox I remembered and giddily tore open the envelope. Apparently it's the little things that excite me.

Along with a few business cards, Chelsea included a green glittery clothespin. And there were sequins! Is it unusual that I saved them? I could use five gold sequins in a future project!

 Also. I saved the bakers twine the cards were tied with, but I promise I'm going to use it!

And finally, there were stickers with lovely phrases printed on them. Now I must decide where to stick them, and it must be somewhere out of Ezra's reach (see item no. 2 here).

If you haven't already, visit Lovely Indeed for a daily dose of inspiration.

Monday, February 20, 2012

menu of the week

It's the still the weekend for us (Matt has today off) but I wanted to get this post up first thing. Last week was an unusual one in our house because each night I made a new recipe. That's right, every single night was basically an experiment in prep & presentation, and all in all I think it went pretty well. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I created the menu because it could have gone horribly wrong but luckily that wasn't the case.

hearty kale & potato soup - Another recipe from The Cleaner Plate Club and another success. It came together quickly and the kale was tender rather than bitter. I thought Ezra might turn his nose up at this meal but he dug in with his own spoon and ate quite a lot.

steak au poivre with long leek pie - If you read my post from the day after Valentine's Day then you know my special date night dinner didn't go as planned. For one, I didn't realize the steak was folded inside the package and only realized it when I took it out of the pan. Fail. After making the sauce, I practically started over with the steak so the ends were on the tough side, but the majority turned out just fine. Phew. The long leek pie is another story altogether. I thought four sheets of puff pastry sounded like a lot but I generally follow recipes pretty closely the first time around so I went with it. While the edges crisped nicely, the underside was doughy and quite the disappointment. If I made it again I would only use one or two sheets of puff pastry, but the leek and goat cheese topping was delicious.

spaghetti with herbs, chilies, and eggs - This one was super quick and easy, but I did leave out the chilies because I'm lame like that. I was surprised at how much I loved the runny egg yolks with the pasta, which was whole wheat, by the way.

salmon and brussels sprouts with ginger-scallion sauce - A new favorite of mine. I wrote about my usual way to prepare salmon here, but this was a refreshing change and the ginger scallion sauce so good that I completely smothered my salmon and brussels sprouts in it.

swiss chard and cheddar quiche - Thanks to a pre-made pie crust I picked up at Whole Foods, this meal was a cinch to prepare; however, the oven time just about killed Matt who was apparently wasting away. I told him to eat an apple and be quiet. Forty-five minutes later we ate the hot quiche with a salad of red and green leaf lettuce with sliced pink lady apples and a mustard vinaigrette. Very satisfying, although Matt was a bit ravenous so I imagine he would have been satisfied with almost anything.

To satisfy our sweet teeth (tooths?), I made peanut butter and fleur de sel brownies. They disappeared in just three days. What are you cooking this week?

Friday, February 17, 2012

hello weekend

(image via merci beaucoup)

Last night I went to an event at The Dorrance with Laura and Hillary. We met some pretty cool people and I'm excited for some potential collaboration in the future. It feels like the weekend started early for me, but there's still lots to do around here before Saturday. Wondering what's going on? I'm helping my friend's mom and sisters throw a baby shower which is one of my all time favorite things because it combines two wonderful things: babies and parties. So excited for our menu, decorations, and of course, lots of lovely gifts! I'll share more next week. 

Here's a list of things that distracted me this week:
- a typewriter quilt is on my to do list
- this macaron coin purse is so cute and if I didn't hate working with zippers I would make a few
- what a sweet little picnic of love
- some tips on trying to avoid raising picky eaters
- wanna see some photos of Ezra with his friend, Fiona?
- wish I lived in the UK so I could use these Roald Dahl stamps, via a Cup of Jo
- the new Kate Spade collection is polka dot heaven
- would you try red beet and poppy seed muffins
- do you agree with this voicemail policy?
- have a listen to Everybody's Falling in Love by the Infamous Peeps and just try not to dance
- I love this hippo canvas (yes, even more than the giraffe canvas)

Hope you have the happiest of weekends!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

from the visual team

Visiting Anthropologie is worth it for the window displays alone. This one is made up of zillions of hanging strips of paper of varyling length (they're stapled to the ceiling) and vertical stripes painted directly on the window. There's a sign in the entryway of the store that says they're looking for visual interns for college credits. I wonder if interns get a discount. Maybe I should go back to school...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the day after Valentine's Day, or why I want more gold necklaces in my life

Unfortunately for me, last night was a bit of a bust - dinner didn't go as planned (read: raw puff pastry and the worst oil splattering you've ever seen in your life), and Matt had band practice which I secretly thought was his way of covering up a Valentine's Day surprise but was really band practice. So I spent the night with Ezra and ate chocolate mousse (which Matt made for me) while reading The Happiness Project (which I am loving) after he went to sleep. I don't want to make Matt seem like a bum though - he wrote me a sweet note and booked me a massage which I plan on scheduling asap. My mom got me a Valentine's Day gift, too - one of the necklaces I wanted. I put it on immediately, along with the Italian horn that I got in Florence when we were on our honeymoon and gold coin that I was already wearing. Now I want to layer gold necklaces every day. Here are a few I have my eye on...
My friend Briten wears the infinity charm necklace from Stella & Dot minus the bird and the stone. I love how pretty the single vintage coin looks.

This simple gold circle reminds me of the charm I already wear with the horn, but the little diamond is such a great addition. It's the oro necklace by Leslie Lewis.

A gold bow necklace (by Avishag Kroizman) would make a nice gift, wouldn't it? Your sister, your best friend, your mom... who wouldn't love it?

I'm loving all of Alex Monroe's designs for anthropologie, but this pedal pusher necklace is my favorite. 

J.Crew always gets it right, and this pretty locket is no exception. Plus it's named after one of my favorite paintings - it's the starry night locket necklace

Here's another one from Stella & Dot, the ever after necklace. I love it paired with the on the mark necklace.
Kate Spade's anchors away pendant is perfect for a Rhode Island girl like me.

Looks like I can already start my birthday wishlist. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

love is in the air

Today is Valentine's Day and if you have a Valentine like I do then you probably have some plans for spending a romantic night together. Here are some ways to make the night special if you just realized you have no plans. (Not a good thing, unless you are a Valentine's Day rebel and your sweetheart is, too.) 

hang some pretty garlands, like these from Creative Place

make chocolate cupcakes to share, like these from cannelle et vanille

exchange loves notes (purchase this sweet card from Parrott Design Studio)

sip hot chocolate from ruby red mugs by Little Wren Pottery

snuggle up and watch Midnight in Paris
(or Pride and Prejudice, The Notebook, Casablanca... whichever suits your fancy)

Happy Valentine's Day, loves!

P.S. Here are some ideas for a night out, and some gift ideas, too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

menu of the week

(image via Martha Stewart)

So this is technically last week's menu that I'm posting this week because I thought it would be more useful. This way when I try new recipes I can let you know how they work out. See Tuesday night's meal for a perfect example.

beef, cheddar, and potato pie - How can anything be bad when it has cheddar in it? That's right, it can't. Well, maybe in rare instances but this pie certainly isn't one of them. The prep involves chopping veggies and browning ground been, and the crust is puff pastry which makes everything extra yummy. It's comfort food, for sure, and we like it so much I usually make two and freeze one for a day when we need something warm and tasty stat. Important: do skip the step involving the slotted spoon or your pie will be greasy and gross. Also, we don't have beer so I substitute beef broth.

honey sage sweet potato pasta with shallots - This recipe is from the cookbook The Cleaner Plate Club which I borrowed from the library (I  heart Ocean State Libraries) last week. In addition to lots of recipes I can't wait to try, the book has loads of information about food and cooking in general (knife skills illustrations, articles on why GMOs are bad for you, thoughts on stealth cooking for children and why not to try it), so it might be a cookbook I add to my own library. Oh, and the pasta? It was delicious. But then anything with sweet potato and sage is. My only complaint was that it was a little on the dry side, so next time I would reserve some of the cooking water to moisten the pasta. Also, I used Pecorino Romano instead of Parmigiano Reggiano.

anasazi beans and riceMatt used to hate beans. Now Matt loves beans, so he requested beans and rice one night last week. I kept things simple and used a recipe from the back of Bob's Red Mill package. Peppers, onions, Monterey Jack, and you're done.

French onion soup - While I don't necessarily enjoy thinly slicing three pounds of onions while tears stream from my eyes, I do enjoy the aroma of said onions as they carmelize. And I definitely enjoy them when they're simmered in beef broth and then smothered in Gruyère which is broiled to a crispy brown. In addition to not having any beer, we don't have any sherry. I just skipped it and the soup turned out just dandy. If your husband isn't obsessed with making bread like mine is, buy a loaf at your local artisan bakery. If you live in Rhode Island, I recommend Olga's Cup + Saucer or Seven Stars.

cheesy spinach and pepper calzones - We used a pound of Matt's dough (frozen for convenience and great on a Friday night) and filled the calzones to bursting with peppers, spinach, and cheese (I'm seeing a theme here, are you?), and twenty minutes later we had a steaming hot supper. I served it with my homemade tomato sauce (gravy for you Cranston Italians) and we finished every last bite.

As usual, we had green & red lettuce salad almost every night with a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, red win vinegar, brown mustard, and freshly ground salt and pepper. Some nights I added sliced peppers or cucumbers, but most nights we kept it simple. Still stumped? See more menu ideas here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

hello weekend

(image via chá de retalho)

Fun times are in store for us this weekend - that's right - we're going to a princess birthday party tomorrow! Matt and Ezra are less than thrilled but I am super excited for all things pink and sparkly. Then I hope to work on some baby shower and Valentine's Day projects that I need to complete a.s.a.p. Hopefully the weather will continue to be unseasonably warm so Matt and I can keep working on our project, too. What are you up to this weekend?  

Here are some reasons why I love the internet...
- aren't these pillows awesome? the polka dots are my favorite. (via Design*Sponge)
- this interview with Jenna Lyons is a must read for J.Crew lovers (fun fact: Lauren Hutton styles herself for the catalogs!)
- do you have a pair of pink pants
- can't stop thinking about all the windows from this home tour (see more here)
- now following a new-to-me blog, Sincerely Kinsey
- not usually a fan of Coach, but this collection has me looking twice
- happy day - the rumors are true!
- must make matching tee shirts for Matt & Ezra

Hope your weekend is the best weekend ever!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

semi-DIY Valentines // with tons of love from Ezra

Ezra and I were shopping at Target last week and he spotted these cute elephant Valentines and hinted that he might like to send a few to his lady friends. I knew Matt would be proud of his boy so we took the box home and got crafty. 

Well, kind of. It is a kit, after all. I think Ezra had the most fun taking everything out of the box and that was over in seconds, but we persevered.

We handled the creative process like an assembly line. Kind of a contradiction in terms, but it worked. Peel, stick, jab, repeat. The kid was like a regular Henry Ford.

One by one I handed the stickers to Ezra and kind of showed him where to place them. As in, I held the sticker over the spot where I wanted him to put it and he jabbed it with his tiny finger so that it stuck.

He took liberties with my sticker placement ideas anyway.

Exhibit A

Things I learned: 
1. Ezra likes sticking things to other things. 
2. Ezra likes peeling stickers off of things. 
As you can imagine, item number two wasn't very conducive to ending the project any time this month so I had to wrap things up. 

P.S. You may have noticed that Ezra recently earned his MD in love. He even carries a lollipop in his pocket for problem patients.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a morning in the city // breakfast at tazza

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make for yourself at home, but there's just something about eating out in the morning that makes paying $8 for fried eggs feel worth it. Plus then you absolutely must get dressed and brush your teeth before nine. In the spirit of approaching the day with a "go get 'em" attitude, that's just what Ezra and I did one day last week. We got dressed, brushed our teeth, and met Laura and Hillary in Providence for breakfast at tazza last Thursday.

The breakfast menu is pretty limited with only a few egg type dishes, oatmeal, and maybe one or two other items, but that was more than enough for me to choose from. I ordered a sandwich with two fried eggs, cheddar cheese, and pesto on a bolo. Now I know you're wondering what a bolo is and I confess I was, too, until Hillary asked the waitress. A bolo is a Portuguese sweet bread roll. I don't know about you but I call that a Portuguese sweet bread roll. I've never heard it called a bolo before and we have our fair share of Portuguese bakeries around these parts. Wait just one second - okay, a quick google search tells me that bolo is the Portuguese word for cake. Can anyone confirm this?

Okay, enough semantics. The bolo egg sandwich was wicked good, and Laura and Hillary enjoyed their meals, too. Hill got eggs with a bolo on the side (and bacon - yum!) and Laura got the same sandwich I did except her bread of choice was a bagel. 

Aren't they so cute? They don't even have any food in their teeth even though I insisted on taking this picture mid-chew.

This one was looking very cute, too, but he was in a huff because I wouldn't share my hot chocolate with him. I did let him play with the little spoon that came with it though. The spoon was so cute I was tempted to take it home with me. Not really, but it was a really cute spoon. Really. 

I still want to have brunch at tazza. I mean, would you look at this menu?! Shrimp and grits? Buttermilk beignets? Malted Belgian waffle with Chantilly cream and BACON ALMOND BRITTLE?! Sorry for yelling but I just think that sounds amazing. Let's go on Saturday.
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