Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Food Ruts | Cooking Asparagus


I get in food ruts often. I’ll find a technique or dish I love and wear it out in a way. Lately I’ve been in a real veggie rut. Sick of some of the veggie dishes I’d made over and over and not sure where to go from there.


All images by Katie Dudley Photography

A few weeks ago, Tom (@foodbytom – he’s the real deal) invited Alix, Katie and I to enjoy an evening of fine food and learning. We learned details about vegetables, steak and mousse I hadn’t paid attention to before. With good food, it’s all about the details.


I’m not going to spill all the beans on what I learned in our cooking session, but one of the takeaways from the class was how to cook asparagus to perfection. Just about any cooking method will work (we blanched then cooked in a skillet), but the key to making them amazing is peeling the stalk just below the tip. It removes all stringy-ness. Brilliant, right? We all have Tom to thank for that one.


We also talked about plating food. I realize I’m terrible at it. I over-think the plating so my food looks very one-dimensional. Plating is a real art form. Alix aced it with her meat tower.


I want to have a rad garden so I can use cool things like mini radishes and kale blooms for perfectly styling my meals (maybe that’ll help the kids eat their veggies?).



We learned so much and ate well. There weren’t difficult instructions or outlandish ingredients, so I could duplicate what I learned at home. And I have! The moment I walked through the door that night, I went to work making mousse. Now I’m Penelope’s favorite person.

You can book Tom for private cooking sessions (he’ll come to you) and pop-up dinners! Both are tremendously fun. Chris and I did a double date with our friends Miriam and Allen. We learned the art of gnocchi and pizza.

Party with Me & Some Gourmet Cookies


I went to Ruby Snap (a local cookie parlor) for a tasting party last Thursday & I’ve not been able to stop thinking about the Billie Ann cookie since. You can’t even tell what the cookie is from the picture, but it’s the most delicious cookie made with curry, coconut & carrots. It’s a very unlikely combination, but absolutely divine. The cookie was topped with a coconut whipped cream frosting that’s incredible.

I’m sounding like a fanatic; maybe it’s my recent low-carb menu talking, but this cookie truly is fantastic.


We had a cookie making contest & I won!! I won a gift card for a dozen cookies. I don’t want to eat the cookies all by myself, so who wants to come over to my house for a little cookie tasting party Saturday afternoon, May 21st? R.S.V.P. by commenting on this post by Friday & I’ll pick six of you at random. I think it’d be so fun to get to know you & munch on delicious cookies!


Attending the tasting party was a much-needed break. It was refreshing to hang out with fellow blog ladies, listen to a truly inspiring story about how Tami got started & how she’s overcome several bumps in the road with grace & success. I left feeling that much more excited to start pursuing my goals and hopefully I’ll maintain the energy to make those goals real.


I love that she names her cookies & that Penelope is the name for her peanut butter cookie!! I took the chocolate-dipped cookie home to Penelope & she loved it. So did Chris!

It’s rare that I ever remember to take my camera to events like these, so I’m just so excited to share this with you. Read more about the event here.

Penelope’s Birthday Party Part II


The party was organized chaos. I didn’t take very many photos of the festivities, but I did manage to document the food table. We had Bee’s lemon water (a delicious homemade beverage that’s clear – perfect for living room dining), pulled pork sandwiches, clementines, bananas, cut veggies, chips and cake. The food was all pretty low-key except for the cake, which took a few hours to make entirely from scratch. I made a white cake with lemon curd and lemon frosting. It was deliciously moist and dense. MMM! I’ll make it again and share the recipe with you, if you’d like.

I used the Silhouette to cut a P out of paper to use as a stencil for the decorative sugar. It kind of looks gritty as if I spray painted the P on there. I like that.

I kept the decorations simple by using balloons and a handmade garland using the same paper I used for the envelopes. It was really easy to make. If you’d like a tutorial for the garland, comment! I was going to make the vellum mobiles as seen on Oh Happy Day, but I didn’t have enough time to run to the store for more paper, so I opted to make the strips into a garland instead. The vellum mobiles would’ve looked really rad, had time been on my side. I also made Penelope’s party favors using the envelope paper and a variation on the petal box template (cut with the Silhouette). I filled the boxes with hard lemon candies and candy orange slices.

The festivities were really simple: eating and dancing. It was great to keep things simple, otherwise it would’ve been like hearding cats. Plus, after spending so much time on the invitations, I wasn’t about to plan a creative party curriculum. I’m much too lazy for that. The kidlets enjoyed dancing, screaming, fighting over balloons and playing hide and seek in the ikea garbage cans that we use for storing Penelope’s toys. I say it was a great success! Also, the kids were so entertained, us parents had a great time catching up.

Click here to read part I: The Invitation

Click here to read part III: The Thank Yous

From the Desk of My New Intuos4


EEE! Christopher was so sweet and bought me a wacom tablet for my birthday and it arrived in the mail today! Boy, am I spoiled. Chris even threw me a surprise birthday party. All I gave him was a fanny pack for his birthday. Looks like I need to step it up for Christmas. Now that I have a fancy, handy dandy wacom tablet, you’ll probably see some printables coming your way. SQUEAL!

Dearest Christopher I love you

Here’s the first thing I did upon starting up my new toy. I’m such a newb, but I’m having SOO much fun!!

A last-minute celebration isn’t the worst thing in the world.


Life for the Esplin clan has been a little hectic, as I’ve mentioned in every blog post the last couple of weeks. Since we’ve been so transient, it was a little hard to plan the birthday celebration for Penelope that I had in mind. While I’ve had to come to terms with reality, we didn’t seem to have any shortage of laughter, cake, ice cream and family.

cake & Penelope

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have enough time to send out proper invitations, so I settled for pingg invitations and good ole fashioned phone calls. Pingg is fabulous, except when you don’t have everyone’s email addresses. Sadly a couple of family members fell though the cracks and weren’t informed of our partying.

lemon cupcake

cake face

My theme, if any of this had any sort of theme, was yellow. I love yellow, and Penelope brightens so many people’s lives that it just fit. I wasn’t able to get yellow cupcake cups or yellow napkins or yellow flowers (again, seriously only 24 hours to prep for this thing), but I did find my mom’s awesome wedding plates that had a ribbon of yellow, my yellow table cloth and some yellow wallpaper for Penelope’s happy birthday sign. Find the tutorial on how to make your own banner, here.

birthday banner

I now realize how much effort my parents went to when it came to celebrating my birthdays. They always made such a big deal out of us kids. Stay tuned for a special birthday tutorial & download!

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