Love this place and these people

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back after 18 years!

Where did I go back to after 18 years? That would be Philadelphia, PA, the city of brotherly love. I went there the summer of 1991 on a family reunion trip. Here is a photo, courtesy of my parents, of the kids in front of the Liberty Bell. Can you tell which child is me? And now, 18 years later, with friends Amanda and Christina.

This was just a quick weekend trip to visit Amanda's house actually and pick up some china from Amanda's mom for a tea party we're going to have. Her parents live in a darling cottage outside of Philly. And since her parents were such amazing hosts we felt like we were staying in a B&B. Not kidding there was a little bedside table with a rose and drinks plus a basket full of random shampoos/soaps/toothpaste/etc. for us to use. And the next morning even though Amanda's mom had to be at work by 5am or something, she still laid out a beautiful breakfast for us. So sweet. We enjoyed our stay very much.

We met up with Stacy and Krissa after visiting the Liberty Bell and we all went to the market where the highlight was definitely the baker's dozen of delecious gourmet cookies that we purchased and then divided into 5 parts so we could all sample each one. This is a video of Amanda cutting up the cookies. She was taking her job very seriously. The cookies were AMAZING!!!

The rest of the day was spent walking around Philly, taking random photos, visiting the Art museum, running up the Rocky stairs which I actually never knew were in Philly. (I don't know that I've actually even seen that whole movie...) The museum was probably my favorite art museum I've ever been to. They don't just have art on the walls, they have entire rooms that are from all over the world. This was one of my favorites. Christina and I walked in and both of us were instantly reminded of Sound of Music when Maria is dancing in the ballroom. I of course had to take a picture of me doing the same. I just wish I would have had a dress on like hers.

The funny part about this trip is when Amanda gave us a list of "must dos" for our day in Philly, the majority had to do with food. I already talked about the cookies, the other two major foods were soft Pretzels and Philly steak and cheese. The pretzel story is kind of ridiculous, but basically we couldn't find a place open and we finally found one when we were on our way home. They were good but I prefer Pretzel Time (which always reminds me of hanging out in the St.George mall when I was in middle school). And for the Philly steak and cheese, those of you who know me best will recognize that steak is not something I usually eat, but I sacrificed, and it was surprisingly delicious. I took off about half the steak that they piled on, but combined with the onions and peppers and some ketchup, I enjoyed it. I think I could handle eating one every few years...

All in all, the trip was fantastic. I love living in a place where weekend road trips can take me to places so different and historical.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Domestic Goddess

I have always enjoyed doing arts and crafts but lately I have been delving into all sorts of new and exciting things. There are so many projects I don't even know where to start. So I'll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...

My friend Dianna and I decided we were going to have a sewing night. I really wanted to make some pajama pants. For all you tall girls out there, you understand how difficult it is to find PJs that are long enough and not 13 sizes too big. I mostly just have one pair of warm PJ pants, my beloved gray sweats. Oh how I love them and will continue to wear them until they are nothing but threads. Anyway, I decided I wanted to make some new pants. We stopped by JoAnn's and picked out some fabric and other sewing paraphenalia (pattern, elastic, thread, etc.). I have made PJs before but it's been awhile. But after washing and drying the fabric, I was able to put them together pretty quick. And I love them. Made them just the right length and they are soft and cozy. Yes they are orange and they have dump trucks and contruction signs on them. My 2 year old nephew Tyler is very jealous. Love it.

So that was the first project. Next came my manager's baby shower. I was helping plan/prepare and I was in charge of making cupcakes due to the reputation I have gained at work from bringing cupcakes to people for their birthdays. Many people have suggested I open my own cupcake shop on the side, which is an entirely different story, but let's just say that I would love to except that DC is already being taken over by cupcake shops. So I decided that I didn't want to make just any kind of cupcakes, they had to be delicious and beautiful (of course). I did some research and found so many ideas I couldn't decide what to do. There was one cake website I came across that has the cutest cakes I've ever seen. You should look at it.

Finally, I combined some recipes to come up with my own creamcheese filled chocolate cupcakes with creamcheese frosting. YUMMY!! And I piped the frosting on and put little chocolate hearts and words that I made from melted chocolate chips. Yes this was a fairly time consuming project, but I loved every second of it. And everyone else loved the results so it was a worthwhile project. Oh and I also made some very delicious, and aesthetically pleasing punch.

Next on the list was Valentine's cookies. When I started doing all the research for cupcakes I discovered the Wilton cake decorating aisle at Michaels. How I have missed it all this time, I don't know, but it's my new favorite aisle. I used my coupons to buy a whole set of tips and bags for decorating and Dianna and I decided to try them out for Valentine's Day. And we had a great time. I had no idea what any of them would really do, so I tried as many as I could. I just remember my mother spending hours on our birthday cakes when we were younger. I wish I had the pictures of some of the works of art that she spent time on. Now that I have labored over my own cookies/cakes, I have a greater appreciation for her efforts. She did a great job and I think it might be hereditary because I think I have a knack for handling a bag of frosting, Dianna told me so. And on Sunday asked for my help frosting her delicious chocolate ganache w/raspberry cream topping cake. Another delicious creation. And all of this fun stuff led me to look into the cake decorating classes that are offered at Michael's. I didn't think I would be able to do it because of work but I finally found a class that worked and I have my second lesson this week!! I love it!! And this is just course 1 but I'll be sure to post photos of my creations.

Just two more arts and crafts. My friend Jack had purchased some blank Matryoshka dolls that he wanted to paint and he invited me to help him. But instead of doing the usual doll and flower pattern we decided to get creative and used 5 Little Monkeys Swingin in the Tree as our inspiration. I was in charge of buying the acrylic paints and as I was selecting the proper colors it reminded me of all the paints that mom has that I have used for various projects through out the years. I'm finally starting my own collection. Hooray! We didn't have time to finish (imagine that, me running out of time on a project...perfection takes time!) but we got a lot done. And I of course loved the entire experience and can't wait to finish them up.

Last but not least, I have recently been watching a lot of old movies on TV due to our apartment deciding to upgrade our cable to Direct TV with DVR. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Katherine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and all of my favs. There are so many enjoyable things about these movies but the one I have been noticing lately are the great dresses these women got to wear. It's true that fashions recycle and those dresses have been back "in" for awhile now. I have tried some on, but they just aren't made for girls with long legs and torsos. So what do you do when you can't buy something that fits and you don't have your mom around to make something that fits? You get online and find old dress patterns. That's exactly what I did. No joke, http://www.oldpatterns.com/, has hundreds of old patterns organized by year that you can search through. I ordered four of them and I'm anxious to start the latest project. It's going to be hard to fit it in with the cake decorating, painting, etc. but I'm determined. And even though my mother is way across the country, you can bet there will be many phone calls made to ask for help. I don't think I've ever made an article of clothing other than PJs. The best ones being some Tara and I made in sewing class many years ago...oh how I wish I had the photos from that fashion show. They resembled a tent and had hot pink, VERY itchy lace around the neck and arms. Did they really expect us to sleep in that?

I hope you have all been inspired by my craftiness and felt the urge to go create. I was listening to Pres. Uchtdorf's talk from last Relief Society broadcast and he encouraged us to make things beautiful and to create. Hopefully my latest endeavors will fulfill this counsel.