Monday, March 21, 2011

Did I mention that I'm taking a cooking class?

You are probably used to me mentioning that cooking is not my specialty.  It just does not come naturally to me.  I can follow a basic recipe, but I have no natural instincts in the kitchen.  Well, this year I decided to do something about it.  I like to try new things every year, and I usually try to work in a class or two so this year I signed up for a cooking class; The Fine Art of Cooking Series at Orson Gygi, to be precise.  It's a six week series covering all the basics: knife skills & sauces, starches, fruits and vegetables, chicken, fish, beef & serving.  

I was on the Gygi website preparing to write a Salt Lake City Spotlight post, when I checked the class schedule and noticed the series started the next day and had one spot left.  They aren't offering the class again until June and we might move before then so it seemed meant to be.  I knew the class was great because my friend Jeff took it and has become a wonderful cook so I signed myself right up.  So every Tuesday night you can find me here in the class room located in the middle of the store (have you ever seen such a big island?).

 This is the teacher Chef Shawn Bucher, author of The First-Timer's Cookbook.
He stands at the head of the class and talks about the subject of the night while demonstrating.

 Then at the end of class we always get to try out making something while Chef Shawn and several volunteers are there to help (which I really like because I'm not very confident at times, and it's nice to have people to consult with. It's also fun to try out the different ways classmates season things).  All the food is prepped before we arrive and we each have our own work station.
 This particular night was fruits and vegetables night so at the end of class we were steaming asparagus and making hollandaise sauce or salad dressing and putting together a salad with the fruit and veggies we'd practiced making garnishes with.  Here's one of my orange peel roses.  Fancy, no?
 And not only does every class end with a meal from the things we make and the things Chef Shawn demonstrated making, but they don't let you help clean-up!  We all leave with a smile!
I'd like to be clear that I have no affiliation with Gygi, but I can't recommend the classes enough.  And if you're not a beginner cook, like me, there are a lot of other cool options.  I really want to sign up for the French Macaroon class.  Want to take it with me?

Creed & Ollie, Ollie & Creed

One of the most rewarding parts of parenting has been watching a friendship blossom between these two over the last year.

I remember being worried before Ollie was born about how much Creed's life was about to change.  Many of you commented that Ollie would enrich his life in ways that friends or even parents could not.  How very right you were.

They are so lucky to have each other.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Heart Pinterest

I've spent the last few weeks lecturing my mom, sisters, and anyone else who would listen on why they must join Pinterest ASAP.  Now I can't resist gushing about it to you too because I LOVE it.

Pinterest is a virtual pin-board to mark all your favorite links, but it's better than any bookmarking service that I've used before. When you see something that you like on a website, there's a little "pin it" button on your browser that you click and a window pops up, allowing you to choose any picture from that site to add to your pin-board.  Then you can add a description and categorize your pins.

I have categories like Dream Home, Party Ideas, Things to Make, Recipes, Wishlist, and Places I Want to Go Someday. When I view my pins by category, I see thumbnails of my latest pins.
Then when I click on the category, I see all my pins, and I can click directly on the picture to take me to the website where I found the photo. So easy, right?  It makes referring back to ideas that I saw on the web so much easier.

You can also follow other users on Pinterest (you can follow me here) so I can follow a lot of my favorite bloggers there.  And I'm addicting to browsing Pinterest because it's so fun to see the cool ideas other people are pinning.  When you're looking for an idea for a party or your home, it's a great place to start searching.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's the perfect gift for someone who likes all the things he's not meant to play with and regularly tests it out by chewing on it?

A few of you have asked what we gave Ollie for his birthday because it's hard to buy gifts for one-year-olds.  It's even harder when they are not your first child so you already have age appropriate toys around.  I would have been tempted not to get anything because Ollie had no idea it was his birthday, but Creed would have known and been sad for him and most of our toys are in storage anyway.  Since we put them in storage last May and Ollie wasn't playing with much back then, most of the things he would like are in storage so I felt justified in buying a few things.

First off, for each birthday I like to give my boys a book, and I try to tape a picture of them at their current age inside the cover with their name and the date.  Someday, when they start their own families, they will have a little library of some of their favorite books.  I usually try to buy them their own copy of one of their favorite books, but this year I got Ollie, I Love Birthdays by Anna Walker.  I couldn't resist it because the main character is a Zebra named Ollie. I think we might need the whole series.
Then we got him this simple shape sorting house.

And his very own mini piano, which has been a big hit around here.
It's so fun watching him play with new toys and figure things out that it's hard not to go overboard.  My friend Rachel has a tradition of giving one-year-olds their own box of tissue and letting them go to town pulling it all out of the box, and that probably would have pleased Ollie just as much.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Snow Totoro

A few weeks ago, we woke to lots of snow, but we were disappointed when we ran outside and the snow wouldn't pack together to make a snowman.  We decided not to give up and brought the snow inside and made mini snowmen, which Creed might have liked even better than real snowmen because he got to stay in his jammies.  When they were done, we moved them onto our porch railing so they could live a longer, happier life.
 By the time Creed got home from pre-school, the snow was wet enough to make a snowman, but by then Creed has bigger plans: he wanted a snow Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro is a very popular movie around here) so I gave it my best shot.
 And yes, Creed would not let me take his picture with Totoro until he was wearing my rainboots and a "Princess skirt" (which is really his blankie tied around him).  He makes me laugh every day.
 Larry said all the neighbors would think Totoro was just a bunny, and most of them probably did, but the next day our neighbors told Creed they loved his Totoro so I got to gloat just a little bit to Larry!

Salt Lake City spotlight - The Train Shoppe

I am a city girl through and through and one of the things that I will really miss about living in a big city is the small specialty shops you can find, like this model train store on the fringe of downtown that Creed loves to visit, the Train Shoppe.
 When you see a sign like that and your running errand with your train loving three-year-old, you have to stop, right?
 As you might imagine, it's full of trains galore and Creed could spend a lifetime there.  There is even a set they will let youngsters drive and many other that they'll turn on so you can watch trains circle the store.
 It's one of those place that's eye-opening to me, a world of train enthusiasts with complicated parts that I never knew existed.  While I'm not jumping on the bandwagon, I love seeing people who embrace something that they are passionate about.  It makes me wonder what Creed will love when he gets older.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I want to be the kind of mom who . . .

It's been way too long since I've done one of these posts so here goes:

I want to be the kind of mom who doesn't mind embarrassing herself if it means having fun with her kids.

I want to be the kind of mom who has the home all the other kids want to come to.  I want to know my kids friends and know what they're up to, and I want our home to be a fun place to be.  I think this will involve planning fun things to kids busy and entertained in the summer.  I love this Craft Camp Danyelle put together for her kids and their friends (although, this is more geared towards girls so with boys we might have to adjust this idea a little bit.) I love the tiny memory game they made.

and another great craft to try would be these lego figurines.

I want to be the kind of mom who buys her kids toys that require them to use their imagination.

I want to be the kind of mom who teaches her children to enjoy nature and to leave things better than when they found them.  I've been trying to think of some projects that will make this fun.  Maybe guerilla gardening is in order.  Maybe seedbombing the vacant lots in the neighborhood? Or if we lived somewhere damp we could try moss graffiti. And I always wanted to surprise someone by planting tons of bulbs in their yard in the fall and letting them discover them in the spring (of course you'd have to find someone you know would want them)

I want to be the kind of mom who isn't afraid to travel with kids, and is careful to include sightseeing trips to kid-friendly places that reveal bits of magic all over the world.  I think if we took the kids to Paris, we'd have to try to find this playground.

And this Noah's Arc in LA seems like another must-see
Or if we ever found ourselves in Amsterdam, you can bet we'd go explore TunFun, a huge underground play area built underground in the middle of the city in an old Subway tunnel.

And what kid wouldn't love staying in a treehouse hotel?
I could go on and on in this category . . .

I want to be the kid of mom who raises kids to know who they are not not divert from that to do what is popular.  I love this Alice in Wonderland party.  I love that it's a big family and friends party and even the adults are in costume, but my favorite part is that the guest of honor was a girl who decided to be the White Rabbit, not Alice.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ollie's birth announcements

Speaking of Ollie turning one, shall I post his birth announcement? Yep, I'm really that on top of blogging.  I almost didn't post about it at all, but I really love how it turned out so I think it's still worth sharing.

Our dear friends, Kirk and Eva of Sycamore Street Press, offered to letterpress whatever I could come up with for Ollie's announcement, and I couldn't resist an opportunity like that.  I decided to experiment with a large block of color, which is not really suited to letterpress printing which indents the paper, but I've been curious to try it and I never get the chance when I'm designing things for clients or the Pop line because I can't afford a disaster.  I figured that I would give it a try, and the worst scenario would be that I'd be out the price of the plate and have to start over.
 Luckily, thanks to Kirk and Eva's hard work, it turned out beautifully!  It was legible and still had a great indent.  The color was a little uneven and salty, and we knew it would be before we tried it.  I actually like it that way because I think it really highlights that it is handprinted.
 We are very fond of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are around here, and since Ollie is known for his loud growing noises, it seemed a suitable tribute.  That's another reason doing a personal project like this is so fun, I couldn't have used licensed characters as inspiration like this on anything that I'm paid to design.
I cut the envelope liners from Paper Source wrapping paper because they didn't offer that pattern in the size that I needed.  I love the pop of color it added.
 The pool-colored envelopes are also from Paper Source.
 I added a wrap-around address label that I designed and then they were off (six months late, but it's never too late to send out a picture of an adorable baby, right?)