Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Growing up in New Hampshire, everyone has a yard. And while most people fight to have the greenest grass on the block,  my father (the gardener in our family) put all of his time and attention into his flowers, rather than the lawn. I think that was a result of the fact that at our first house, we have very limited grass. Our backyard was basically a forest and our front yard was a giant hill. This hill was so steep that landscapers had turned it into large “steps” and my dad put a flower bed in each one; limiting the amount of grass to nearly none. I don’t remember a lot about our first house, but I do have a very distinct memory of “helping” my dad tend to the plants in these flower beds. My favorite plant was called a “bleeding heart.” I think even at such a young age, I could appreciate the dramatic nature of this plant. 

 

When we moved to our new house, my parents did a lot of landscaping to increase the size of our front lawn. And while is tends to look pretty good most of the time, my favorite time of the year would be when the giant bed that contains hundreds of daffodils is in full bloom. I remember spending one year planting the bulbs. I thought we were planting potatoes… boy was I surprised when hundreds of yellow and white flowers appear the next spring! I love going to my parents house during the month of April because there are always vases full of these flowers around.

At my wedding, I was lucky enough to have two very good family friends do all of the flower arranging for me. They did it all, from the center pieces to my bouquet. And the best part is, they used flowers from my dad’s garden! We had a lot of peonies, all placed into antique ball jars that had raffia tied around the tops. I loved the way they looked and only wish the flowers would have lasted forever. Unfortunately I don’t have any really good pictures of the flowers – hopefully when I get the professional photos this weekend there will be some. Until that point, here is the best I could do (these lasted until the breakfast the NEXT day!)

Last night, I hung out with my favorite entrepreneur, Jessi Walter of Taste Buds! I love hanging out with Jessi, not only because she is an awesome person, but she always has fun and interesting things for us to do. Often times, we attend cookies or baking classes, but last night was something different – it was flowers! Jessi had found a deal on living social for a flower arranging class at Celadon & Celery Events. While the class was a little shorter than I had anticipated, it was something that was fun to do.

A few tips that I walked away from the class with:

1. Clean your vase really well before you put your flowers in it. One of the main reasons that flowers can die so quickly is because bacteria can get into your water. Washing your vase with cleaner or bleach will help prevent this.

2. Change the water in the vase every day – add a little plant food each time

3. To keep hydrangea  from wilting, dunk the flower heads in cold water for 5 minutes before you put them in the vase. You also want to remove nearly all of the leaves. If you don’t, the leaves will soak up all of the water before it reaches the flowers

4. Cut your stems at an angle and then cut up the stem twice so that it splits into 4 different pieces all attached to the bottom of the stem (see picture here: http://www.israelflorist.com/store/images/site/7.jpg)

5. Try to keep your arrangement no more than 3 times the width of the vase and 2 times the height.

In the end, I walked away with a beautiful arrangement of flowers! Hopefully I can apply these skills without the instruction of the teacher. And one day, maybe I will be doing the flowers for a friend’s wedding!

A Gift for Your Budding Chefs

Taste Buds (formerly known as Cupcake Kids) has just launched their first cooking product. If you have a small child (or even someone who is child at heart) this is a great holiday present.

The kit contains Taste Bud’s favorite cookie recipe and is easy to personalize by adding “cookie bling” (i.e. chocolate chips, sprinkles, marshmallows or more). They are easy to make and will definitely create fun memories in the kitchen, not to mention tasty treats!

While you are on the website, check out their winter class list. The gingerbread classes are a favorite among budding chefs and teachers.

Pizza Party

One of the great things about working at Cupcake Kids is learning fun new recipes. The most popular party that Jessi offers is the “Make Your Own Pizza Party.” I have to say that I became quite the expert in pizza making. Back in November/December of 2008, Jessi worked with a Charter School in Harlem to host field trips for their countless Kindergarten classes. So for 3-4 weeks straight, I would entertain groups of extremely well-dress eager chefs. We would talk about how yeast makes dough rise be releasing gas (like a burp), how honey makes the dough sweet, and how whole wheat flour is a little bit healthier than all-purpose. It was certainly a very tiring time, doing back-to-back classes for a few weeks straight, but I am now a proficient pizza maker. And last night, I put those skills to use.

I decided to make some pizza dough and use up some of the homemade marinara sauce I made Sunday for the baked ziti Matt and I enjoyed during Man Men.

Please enjoy the recipe, as written by Cupcake Kids! I highly recommend trying this at home!

Pizza Recipe-1

The pizza turned out alright, but I must admit, every time I have made it at home, it isn’t as good as the end product at Cupcake Kids. There must be a secret ingredient that the kids put in when I am not looking… oh wait, I think that is called slobber, boogies, and 5-year-old love!

Be Your Own Boss – Cupcake Kids!

When I was in college, I had a friend, Jessi Walter, who was a few years older than me, that I looked up to like a sister. She was one of the nicest people I had ever met, extremely smart, and would give me advice whenever I asked for it (which was probably too often!) I loved hanging around her room – it was clean and organized and she had the most amazing hand-painted furniture.  I always felt like I was in a real house, as opposed to a dorm room when I went over there. Whenever I was there, I just felt happy.

I am so glad that we have reminded friends over the years. She is still one of the nicest people I have ever met, extremely smart, and she still gives me advice on life. Now, instead of hanging out in her dorm room,  we hang out in the Cupcake Kids! kitchen.  Every time I walk into the space, I feel that same sense of happiness, that I felt when I walked into her dorm room many years ago.

The idea for Cupcake Kids! was born when Jessi Walter decided to combine her love of kids and food in a practical way. Jessi set out to create a company that would provide students with hands-on cooking experiences designed to provide them with the opportunity to have fun in the kitchen while learning about food and nutrition. Jessi believes that creativity and education in the kitchen play an important role in a child’s development and help kids to build self-confidence and independence. For 4 years, she has been giving this experience to the kids of NYC.

Formerly a Vice President on Wall Street, Jessi’s passion for kids and food and her entrepreneurial spirit have taken her on a new adventure. Jessi graduated from Harvard in 2003, where she earned an economics degree and was a member of the Women’s Swim Team. As one of the oldest of 23 cousins, she has a passion for kids and their development. In her previous life as a swimmer, Jessi started a company offering technique lessons for young swimmers and brought the same enthusiasm and fundamentals to the pool as she brings to the kitchen today.

What sets Jessi and Cupcake Kids! apart from other child-centered companies is the pride that Jessi takes in her work and ultimately in her company. I’ve had the pleasure of helping out with Cupcake Kids! for the past 2 years. Jessi’s focus is on coming up with lessons that entertain, as well as educate, the “budding chefs” who visit her kitchen. She wants them to walk out of the kitchen with a smile on their face and a new appreciation for food and a sense of accomplishment. They gain confidence through measuring, mixing and baking. By combining ingredients to make a delicious treat, these children are able to see their successes right before their eyes, and taste them too! The excitement that Jessi, and her teachers, have for cooking and food is passed on to the children.

 I am so proud of Jessi for all that she has accomplished. I am also honored to have been a part of it  and I can not wait to see what the future holds for Cupcake Kids!

Please visit the Cupcake Kids! website to learn more about classes and birthday parties and, visit Facebook to become a fan of Cupcake Kids!