Friday, June 29, 2012

hello weekend

Happy Friday, peeps! (Remember when people said 'peeps'? Do people still say 'peeps'?!) I feel like I accomplished a lot this week and it's such a good feeling. Don't you love that? We're getting ready to launch a new ministry for high school girls at church and there's so much to do to prepare! I can't wait to get started on it all. More work on that this weekend, for sure. It's turning out to be hot and humid today, so we're semi-hibernating inside next to two fans right now, and we have plans to visit the Children's Museum tonight with Matt. Then tomorrow some friends are getting married at Goddard Park...  I can't wait to get dressed up! What are your plans for the weekend? 

- don't have long hair? make a fishtail braid bracelet instead!
- you can make your own ice cream cart. for reals.
- I love downloading new free fonts
- get yourself to a post office to buy these pretty stamps
- more pretty (and free!) iPhone wallpapers (and no, I still don't have one)
- some pretty cool printables for kids, via How About Orange
- you might find these grocery shopping tips to be helpful
- what a cool graphic of this Audrey Hepburn quote
- I want to make my own painted canvas sketchbook
- temporary tattoos are pretty old school but these authentic looking ones make me want to order myself a set

Have a good one!

image by me, from a recent playground visit - look for a guide to the best toddler friendly playgrounds in Rhode Island soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

tea with Rose | Teavana

Our tea tour continues, this time at Providence Place. We'd been to Teavana a couple times before and knew we had to include it here... with so many choices there's something to please everyone. Just look at all those tins!
As I've mentioned before, I almost exclusively drink herbal tea so when the girl working at Teavana asked what I'd like I told her that I wanted something caffeine free. She informed me that rooibos tea blends don't contain caffeine, and that she had actually just brewed a new blend for one of the store samples - citrus lavender sage combined with opus rouge rooibos. One sip and I was sold. 

I forgot what chose, so you'll have to read her take on Teavana right here

After we made our purchases we had to stop at J.Crew to do a little shopping. Ezra and Hillary hid out behind some pants while I browsed above them.

While these Vans were a little big for Ezra, he definitely proved that he can rock them. 

Note to self: will have to pick up a pair when he's a little bigger.

All in all, this was my favorite stop on the tea tour yet. I may even head back to Teavana to get myself a couple ounces of tea to brew at home, and at about $10 an ounce, that's saying something. I'm already looking forward to our next cuppa.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Big Backyard | a day at the zoo

Recently the Roger Williams Park Zoo opened a new exhibit area called Our Big Backyard. It truly is like a big backyard, like an awesome backyard on steroids. If you live in Rhode Island (or even nearby Massachusetts or Connecticut) put a visit to the zoo on your summer to do list. Read on to see why...
As soon as we passed through the fence Ezra was off and running. We were the first ones there that morning (although not for long!) and it was really cool to be able to experience everything alone for the first few minutes of play. 
The Sticks and Stones Building Zone was a big hit, and Ezra tested out each different building material. Bins are filled with blocks, miniature bricks, bungee cords, sheets and clothespins (for tent building!), and a tall tunnel stands nearby, soon to be covered by growing vines. 

In the Creativity Corner kids can play a giant xylophone, "paint" with water on slate easels, or put on a performance on the stage. While we were there a couple zoo employees (or they may have been volunteers) performed some dramatic readings of zoo themed children's book. Lots of silly voices and animal noises had the kids giggling. 

Judging by how soaked Ezra's shirt and shorts were, I would say he had the most fun playing in the Drip Drop Water Garden. My favorite part of Our Big Backyard is this fence - it's covered in faucets that can be connected with tubes, and each connection causes a different water reaction. Some create a sprinkler type effect, one causes a fountain to start flowing, another spins a water wheel...

This short stream leads to a little pond where kids can float wooden boats and splash around. 

Ezra was a little too short to reach any toys once they were in the pond so I spent a good amount of time fishing around in the water myself. Can't say I minded since it was about 97° out. 

There's also a tree house out back, and while we did make the trek beyond the fence we found that there wasn't much for toddlers. We headed back to the Backyard pretty quickly. Besides, there were boats to float and sneakers to soak!

One thing that I really liked is that much of Our Big Backyard is shaded. I still slathered Ezra in sunblock, but us fair-skinned folks have to be cautious. We could have easily spent all day here, so if you go (and you should!) pack a lunch and a change of clothes for your kids! Or just dress them in their bathing suits... if I had known what the water play area was like I definitely would have done that and will do so in the future. Since we're members I'm planning on visiting Our Big Backyard a summertime weekly event!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Red Stripe | dinner at Wayland Square

Let me begin this post by saying that Matt and I don't often eat out spontaneously. However, sometimes I have days when I already went to the grocery store. Twice. And I still don't have everything I need to make dinner. The reason for this is unclear. Also, on these days (they occur about once every two to three months) I have no ingredients in the "pantry" (also known as the hall closet) that I can turn into a meal. This leads to me texting Matt something along the lines of: "either we go out to eat tonight or we're not eating." Eating dinner is a priority for Matt, and he prefers to do it as soon as possible when he gets home. Last Monday was one of those days. We went to Red Stripe at Wayland Square.
We'd been there once before but Matt's memory was hazy so I was excited to reintroduce him to the restaurant. It's definitely what I would call a nice restaurant, but it's one you can take your toddler to. Trust me. They have high chairs and even a mini menu for the little folks. We started out with a couple appetizers - sweet potato latkes and an iceberg wedge waldorf salad. Both excellent. I think Ezra ate more of the latkes than I did.
Dinner was grilled cheese with roasted tomato soup for me and sesame crusted tuna for Matt. I couldn't get enough of the soup. Seriously had to stop myself from licking the bowl clean. Luckily the sandwich helped me sop up all the tomato-y goodness.
Here's Ezra smiling because he knows we're getting dessert next. Okay, I doubt he actually understood that dessert was on its way, but this is what he does if you tell him to smile. He squeezes his eyes shut as tightly as he possibly can. I love it.
Now it was my turn to smile...
Hello molten chocolate lava cake.

Matt got a brownie pie sundae. Don't be fooled by the photo - it was enormous. We easily could have shared one of these babies for our end-of-the-meal sweet treat, and that's coming from someone who is loathe to give up even one lick of an ice cream cone.  

Definitely a great place to eat out on a spur-of-the-moment type night, or any night for that matter.

top image by Public Image Photography for Red Stripe, all other images by me

Monday, June 25, 2012

brownies and bananagrams | date night at home

Hello all! How was your weekend? Ours was nice - not too hot like last week, but now we're getting hit with a major thunderstorm. Matt was supposed to shoot an engagement session but it has to be rescheduled, so I'm thinking an indoor date night is just the thing for us to do tonight. Here's what we'll need...

candle for mood lighting / cream soda / music, preferably Little Broken Hearts 
bananagrams / brownies, the most important thing of all (besides Matt)

How do you make a night at home special?

Friday, June 22, 2012

hello weekend | a few links + the weekly menu

It's been a hot one so I haven't been blogging much... not sure exactly how those two things correlate, but I think that's the reason things have been slow over here. I hope to get back in the swing of things soon. A few things are going to change around here though - I hope to have a slight redesign completed in the near future and I'm going to devise some sort of summer schedule that I can stick to. Also, the menu of the week posts shall be no more... I'm still going to write about food from time to time and may even do a menu post once in a while, but I've found that writing about what we eat each week for five or so months in a row gets a bit boring. I know it's not Monday, but here's the last one for a while - 

black bean and butternut squash burritos - We love any combination of black beans and orange veggies. 

spaghetti with braised kale - Simple, and the kale brings up the health factor since you're eating plain pasta.

crepes with goat cheese, wilted spinach, and toasted pine nuts - I declare my first time making crepes a smashing success. Just be careful of keeping the heat too high... I had to turn the burner down a bit to get good results.

falafel pita pockets - Another first for me, and they came out great, too! The falafel mixture was easy to prepare and they cooked quickly. Definitely serve with yogurt - so refreshing! Along with all the fresh veggies, of course (we had sliced yellow peppers, shredded carrots, green lettuce, and cucumber rounds).

shrimp scampi over couscous - A nice twist on a classic. My recommendation: use fresh shrimp, not frozen... the flavor is so much better!

And the link list to get you through the weekend, whether it's a heat wave or thunderstorms. I'm hoping for some of each. Okay, well maybe not a heat wave, but warm weather with some scattered showers would be nice... 

- how to host a tea party
- a popsicle party is in the works!
- super cute birth announcement
- such a cool mood board... love that Orla Kiely print
making playdough will be a fun project when Ezra is a little older
- loving this round up of neon accessories
- have you ever made root beer? (I have!)
- I wish we had something like this around here!
- happy thoughts on getting dressed
- lovers of fabric, take note - inspiration from Denyse Schmidt
- just put visiting a peony farm on my life's to do list
-  a picnic on the first day of summer is a tradition I can get on board with

image via Seven Eleven Studios

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

go fly a kite | Brenton Point, Newport

Have you ever flown a kite? I only have a few times but Matt and I want to find a great kite flying location so we can go this summer with Ezra. Brenton Point in Newport is one of my favorite picnic spots and it's always full of tons of people flying kites. There's even a kite festival there every summer... I think we'll check it out this year. We'll be the ones flying a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kite :)

image by Paul Octavious via 20 x 200

Friday, June 15, 2012

hello weekend

It's time to make jam! A couple years ago my mom, two of my aunts, and one of my cousins and I got together to make strawberry rhubarb and peach raspberry jam. We wanted to do it again last year but it just didn't happen, so I'm really excited that we're making time for a jam session tonight. I'm off to Jaswell's to pick lots of strawberries... we'll see how that works out with Ezra in tow. Then tomorrow I'm going to a brunch hosted by the PVD Lady Project at Local 121, and Matt us bringing the bluecube... so much fun! And let's not forget about the French toast. Mmm...

- tips for nice summer skin
- love this fun party fan photo booth backdrop
- cute baby shower invitations of the free download variety
- I wanna make this secret storage box
- thinking of using these labels for the jam we make tonight
- an unusual vacation idea 
- so many pretty colors and patterns all in one quilt
- very cool custom illustrations of your brownstone, building, block, or city
- a super cute twist on the top knot - a hair bow!
- looks like a perfect picnic lunch
- enjoyed reading these practical playground tips 
- did you hear the news? Pottery Barn is coming to Garden City!

Monday, June 11, 2012

menu of the week + a secret recipe!

Hello and how are you on this bright and sunny day? At least it's bright and sunny where I am... and I'm paying for it. Serious allergies over here. I guess the rain last week wasn't so bad after all. I made a smoothie this morning to make me feel better (peach raspberry!) and made the leftovers into popsicles. So looking forward to having one later. And then of course there will be dinner at some point. Here's what we had last week - 

beef stew - Um, no recipe here - sorry, folks! My friend Karissa emailed me a recipe from a friend of hers. Basically it said to put stew beef and lots of vegetables in the crock pot with some canned tomatoes and vegetable broth. Perfect dinner for the rainy week we were having. 

eggs over polenta with gravy - I love me some polenta and I'll eat it for any meal as evidenced here. The polenta is from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook. I made a couple fried eggs and served it all with some homemade gravy - see the secret recipe below! Delicious. Also makes great leftovers for breakfast the following day. Just make another egg!

steak sandwiches - Easily the best steak sandwich I've ever had. The combination of carmelized onions and gruyere on top of the grilled steak and toasty baguette was a revelation.

three cheese calzones - Disastrous. Probably won't be for you though. Just don't accidentally buy bread dough instead of pizza dough. Actually dinner was salvaged - we ate mini pizzas instead of calzones and the dough was just slightly different than usual.

sweet potato quinoa salad - Perfect melding of flavors - goat cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and scallions. I like the to use tricolor quinoa because it's prettier.

Okay, so this recipe isn't really a secret but don't Italian grandmothers always have secret recipes that everyone wants? Since this is my recipe and I'm neither Italian nor a grandmother I've given myself permission to share it.

gravy (also known as spaghetti sauce)
makes enough for one pound of pasta with a little extra for serving on the side
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cans Pastene kitchen ready tomatoes (get the ones with no salt added)
2 T parsley
2 T basil
2 T oregano
freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir; cook for about five to seven minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and stir, making sure the onions are incorporated throughout. Add the herbs and (wait for it...) stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but taste it to make sure it's seasoned to your liking.

Note: I triple this recipe to put some away to freeze for those days when dinner needs to be quick and I'm unprepared.

image by Jeannette Ordas for Poppytalk

Friday, June 8, 2012

hello weekend

I don't even like donuts but I love this illustration, so there you go. I just couldn't resist the look of that shiny pink frosting. And the one with the jimmies. Anyway, I hope you had a good week! Ours was wet and dreary for the most part, but we still had fun splashing in all the puddles. Plus, our friends Jared and Amanda welcomed their third child (a baby boy!) into their family this week - hooray for babies! I can't wait to meet the little guy and squeeze his cheeks. This weekend is jam packed with plans - today we're going to check out Our Big Backyard at the zoo, tomorrow we're going to a parade in my aunt and uncle's neighborhood (Ezra's first!), and then we have a friend's backyard lakeside wedding after that. On Sunday we'll be at church and then off to a little birthday celebration for my father-in-law - phew! That's a lot of things to do. Will your weekend be busy, too, or low key? 

- this is my new pretty desktop wallpaper for June
homemade cheez-its just went straight to the top of my to do list
- take a couple minutes to watch this short of a letterpress in action
- for my next birthday I'm definitely having a unicorn party
- slices of tea! via Black Eiffel
- check out these sandwiches by state, via Wit & Delight
- such a sweet nursery for a little girl
- get beachy waves a la Ashley Olsen
- the anatomy of a pinata

illustration by Joël Penkman

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

menu of the week

Clearly I'm not on the ball this week. No post Monday or Tuesday and I'm only now writing up the menu of the week. Now that I look at it I notice that we had pasta four out of five days... yikes! Not exactly a balanced diet. So much for meal planning. Lots of last minute things happened last week and my dinner plans were often changed. I vow to do better this week. So far - beef stew and eggs over polenta with gravy. Any suggestions for me? I'm kind of in a dinner slump.

rigatoni with gravy - Defrost previously made gravy. Boil water. It's as simple as that. I'll share my gravy recipe soon.

somen noodle stir fry - Asian cooking is not my thing. After trying countless times to make various versions of pad Thai and stir fries I'm only now coming to the realization that it might be time to hang up my hat. Try this recipe if you like, but mine ended up bland and all the vegetables were overcooked. I tend to have that problem with stir fries. I think I'm afraid of the high heat.

lemony cod en papillotte - I based this dinner off of instructions from my friend Kayla - I tore off a section of parchment (large enough to create an envelope of sorts for the cod), layered sliced lemons on the parchment, and placed the cod on top. I dotted the fish with butter and sprinkled it liberally with fresh parsley, salt, and pepper. Folded and crimp the edges of the parchment and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Serve alongside roasted teeny tiny potatoes (find them at Trader Joe's).

spinach shells - A favorite in our house. This specific dish was frozen from a few weeks back when I doubled the recipe.

cheese tortellini in light broth - Such an easy dinner with lots of flavor for minimal hassle. Boil veggie broth, add cheese tortellini and freshly ground pepper. Serve topped with fresh parsley and lots of grated Pecorino.

One bright spot in this week of carbohydrates was the many salad we ate - lots of spring greens, spinach, and some green leaf lettuce. I mixed it up each day... some of the combinations to go along with the greens were cheddar, apples, and pecans; pears and goat cheese; and peppers, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds. Did I punctuate that right? I don't feel like looking it up and I don't think I care.

illustration by Lisa Orgler

Friday, June 1, 2012

hello weekend

It's the first of June! I know Memorial Day sort of signals the beginning of summer but now that June is here it really feels like it. I've been getting our summer calendar in order - with all the weddings and miscellaneous shoots Matt has scheduled I need to maximize our free weekends. We always go camping in July so that's on the calendar, and we have a two week trip to Paris planned for August- yippee! I'm so excited I think about it every day. Do you have any plans for the summer? 

Some things I wanted to share with you...
- are you going to the Providence Art Festival tomorrow?
- loving the Kate Spade clutch print from Bright Bold & Beautiful 
- handpainted bees on a wall may be my next home project (scroll all the way down)
- definitely one of the better looking tissue paper flowers out there
- these pretty buns and bows make me want to grow my hair out (I'm noticing a theme...)
- would you ever get lash extensions?
- bright colors to wear this summer
- we went to Not Your Average Joe's last night and loved it

Hope your weekend is a good one!

image by Delesie via Plum Pretty Sugar
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