I love it when I discover something new and awesome in the Seattle area. Well, this time the discovery was precipitated by an invitation to a 6-year-old’s farm-themed birthday party at the location, but it works for me.
The Farrel-McWhirter Farm park is a Redmond city park that also happens to be a working farm.
Bunnies, goats, chickens, pigs, cows, horses, and ponies – All kinds of things to make 6-year-old girls squee.
Really, it’s the best kind of city park. You’d never know you were in city limits.
The 68 acre park includes a preschool, summer camp program, orienteering course, and of course, pony rides.
My daughter was particularly fond of this plywood cow with a water-filled rubber glove that demonstrates how milking a cow works.
And this magical tree, where she spent quite a bit of time pretending to be a baby eagle.
And, did I mention the pony rides? Because that’s pretty much all I’ve heard about for the past week.
We can’t wait to get back out there for another visit.
Earlier this week, we had a day full of adventure at the Seattle Children’s Museum, which is situated in the lower level of the Armory at the Seattle Center.
The museum allowed her to try on differents hats for different careers, such as Fire Fighter, or Bus Driver.
The global village showed a little bit about how some people live in a few different parts of the world such as Japan, the Philippines, and Ghana.
COG City was all about machines and mechanics and how things work.
With supplies and opportunity to build a few things on their own.
The optometry office was a big hit for our bespectacled girl. She loved having the opportunity to wear the optometrists jacket.
She loved getting a closer look at the equipment where she could explore and study it in a way that was not possible when she got her eyes checked at the real optometrists.
Daddy was a patient patient, and even tried on her glasses.
There was a model market where they could practice shopping for food and making healthy choices.
The scale was a big hit.
And while we know that all the world is a stage, especially for a 6-year-old, nothing compares to some uninterrupted time on a real stage with mom and dad (and others) in the audience.
And then there was a magical fantasy room, full of books, and fairies, and a happy little girl who really didn’t want to leave.
The Seattle Children’s Museum is designed for kids up to ten, but I think where it really shines is for the preschoolers. It’s a lovely place to spend the day with the little ones, especially the toddlers and up to 5 or 6, but I think many kids would outgrow it before they reach ten.
The summer heat chased us from the apartment early; we were left wandering, in search of breakfast and air conditioning.
What we found were legos.
Lots and lots of legos.
We discovered a new cafe/kids play area dedicated entirely to legos – big duplos for the littles downstairs, and upstairs massive amounts of regular legos. The lego table is in the center of the room, with tables for the parents around the outside. It’s called Wunderkind, if you’re interested, and in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Wifi, coffee, air conditioning, snacks (with many healthy options), beer, wine, sweeping views of the cemetary (hey, its actually quite a serene view) – including peekaboo views of the Blue Angels performance over Lake Washington. Just the break this tired mama needed from the oppressive heat.
I could work, uninterrupted.
Or, play around on Facebook.
And my girl? She had the best day ever! (her words)
We’ll be back.
This is not a sponsored post.
This year, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s August Break. Follow the hashtag #augustbreak2015 on various social media to find more posts from participants.
When I stepped off the elevator into the Allrecipes offices, it opened up into a stunning kitchen and dining area. Food is the focal point of everything they do, and the kitchen is where that magic happens.
The stunning view from the kitchen looked out over Westlake Park, and across to the Macy’s building.
I had no idea that Allrecipes was in Seattle, a start-up born 17 years ago from a few University of Washington students bouncing around ideas for using this new internet thingy in conjunction with database technologies. I think they hit on a winner.
17 years is ancient in terms of social media, and they brought out their experts to give us some pointers
Don’t simultaneously post the same update on all the social media outlets.
Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are used differently by media consumers, take that into consideration when posting.
Schedule posts in advance so they go out throughout the day, rather than bombarding readers with multiple posts hitting their feeds all at the same time
Kale and quinoa, and other healthy foods are hot right, but if you want a boost, cheesy casseroles are always good for a bump in shares.
Everyone loves grandma’s cheesy casseroles. People love grandmas. Grandmas are hot right now.
spritz food with water or olive oil to freshen it up during the photo shoot.
a sprinkle of salt or large grain sugar adds sparkle
if you are working with whipped cream, adding a little cornstarch during whipping will help it hold up better during the photography session
Of course, they fed us at the Allrecipes event: salad on a stick. That turned out to be quite the cute entertaining idea – the buffet line include kebab sticks with easily pierce-able foods such as ravioli, mozzarella pearls and cherry tomatoes. My favorite combo was watermelon, feta, and mint.
True to form, combining a bunch of bloggers with a food oriented event meant getting through the line took a minute as we all snapped away as we loaded our plates. Luckily I snapped a couple shots before loading my plate because I quickly realized that I am not graceful enough to juggle photography with a plate full of food.
Dessert was on a stick as well: strawberry shortcake on a stick. This was doughnut holes and strawberries. Chocolate sauce and whipped cream were provided for embellishing the treat.
This was such a great event, and I want to thank Allrecipes and Seattle Bloggers Unite for putting this event together. I look forward to delving into all that Allrecipes has to offer, and you can expect more recipes to be highlighted on this blog in the future.
My husband turned 39 yesterday, so we made him a pie. My daughter had some thoughts about what kind of pie we should make. The conversation went like this:
Gem: I want to make Daddy a cherry pie for his birthday Me: I just bought ingredients for coconut cream pie, because it’s his favorite Gem: I think Daddy wants cherry Me: Did you ask him? Gem: Daddy, do you want a surprise?
Such is my life. For the record, we ended up making the pie I planned on, and she got away with being cute. It’s a kind of win-win. And, she was a great help in the kitchen.
The Dahlia Lounge has the best coconut cream pie in Seattle. Maybe anywhere. Aaron and I are big fans.
I was so thrilled to find that Tom Douglas and his team published the recipe for their Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle. This cookbook is a great teaching cookbook. It’s more than just recipes, and it covers the how and why of techniques, so you really learn how to cook rather than just how to follow directions.
That was the pie I made for Aaron’s birthday. And it was amazing.
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup ice-cold water (more as needed)
Coconut Custard Cream
1 cup milk
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (stir before measuring)
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped Cream Topping
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chunk of white chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened chip or large shred coconut (or 2/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut)
Coconut Pie Crust
Make sure the butter is very cold.
Combine all ingredients except the water, and pulse in a food processor until it forms coarse crumbs.
Intermittently pulse and add a tablespoon of the cold water until a pinch of the dough holds together when pressed between your finger and thumb.
Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap on the counter. Use the wrap to pull the dough into a disc.
Chill for an hour before proceeding.
Unwrap and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.
Roll the dough to a 1/8″ thick circle, checking underneath occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the board.
Place dough in a 9-inch pie pan, and trim, allowing about an inch to hang over the edge of the pan.
Turn the edge under, and pinch edge all the way around with fingers to finish.
Chill the pastry for an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place some parchment paper in the pie shell and fill with dried beans to prevent the shell from puffing up during baking.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and use the paper to lift out the beans.
Return the shell to the oven to bake another 10 minutes.
Cool the shell completely before filling with the coconut custard cream.
Coconut Custard Cream
Cook the Custard
Combine the milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut in a medium sauce pan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean and scrapings to the pan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat, until the mixture gets ready to boil.
Put the eggs, sugar, and flour in a blow and mix them together well.
To keep the egg mixture from curdling in the hot milk, temper them by adding a third cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture. Blend well. Then add the eggs to the hot milk mixture.
Keep the heat medium-high, and continue whisking the mixture for several minutes until it becomes very thick. The mixture should be bubbling a bit through this process.
Stir in the butter until it is melted and well combined. Remove the vanilla bean.
Cool the Custard
Fill a large bowl half way with ice and water. Pour the custard into another bowl, and place that bowl in the bowl with ice water. Keep stirring the custard until it cools.
Cover the custard with plastic wrap. Place the wrap directly on the custard to keep a skin from developing.
Whipped Cream Topping
Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together until peaks hold their shape.
Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and lightly toast them at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes.
A little toasting adds a lovely toasty flavor to the coconut. This is a little too much of a good thing:
Not that I would ever burn coconut. Nope. Not me.
This is a little more like what you’re looking for:
Put it all together
Make sure the pie crust is completely cool.
Make sure the custard is completely cool.
Pour the custard into the pie crust, and even out the top.
Cover the custard with the whipped cream. This can be spread on, or for a prettier finish, piped on with a pastry bag and a star tip.
Garnish with the toasted coconut chips and then use a vegetable peeler to top off the pie with curls of white chocolate.
recipe is from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas.
The first thing that struck me at WordCamp Seattle was the inclusive sense of community. People from all walks of life, hobby bloggers and coders, grandmas, hairdressers, and hackers, came together to discuss WordPress, how to use it, and how to improve it. People were so friendly, no snobbery, no cliques, no standoffishness…
I have attended small scale blog conferences before, but this was the first time to attend an event of this kind for me.
What is WordCamp?
WordCamps are non-profit conferences that are organized and run entirely by volunteers. No need to break the bank on wardrobe or ticket prices. This is definitely a come as you are event – be yourself, no one is there to see your shoes – and the amazingly low ticket price of $20 is offset by the many sponsors who make these conferences possible. I spent some time speaking to reps from the sponsors, and these people really get the community focus of WordCamp, and WordPress as a whole.
Nearly 700 people converged on the HUB at the University of Washington for WordCamp Seattle this year. It was huge, and so well run. There were panels for rank beginners and seasoned developers, and everyone in between.
So many useful sessions
The schedule was packed, so many talks from which to choose! Here are the sessions I attended (slides used by the presenters linked below):
So many great talks, and of course, there were four different talks going through most of the sessions. But the slide shows and video of the events has been made public, so you can see what you missed at a later date. A note about the videos, there is one long video for each of the three rooms that covers all of the talks that took place in the room, so get yourself a really big cup of coffee before sitting down to watch.
This conference was just so rich with useful information and resources that two weeks later I am still processing everything in my head.
But that was just day one. Day two upped the community aspect in a completely different way…
I wasn’t really sure what they meant by Contributors Day, but it turns out they take the community built and open source aspects of WordPress pretty seriously.
Contributors day took place in a smaller shared workspace called the Impact Hub Seattle in Pioneer Square. Participants gathered together to contribute to the WordPress product. The group divided into teams to work on everything from documentation to help desk questions, to directly addressing bugs, to working on updates. No need to have advanced programming skills. People contribute as they are able to, and there is place for everyone who wants to participate.
OK, so obviously, I’m new to the world of open source, but the more I learn, the more I want to learn. I’ve been using WordPress since 2008, but until now, I never bothered to learn much about how it was built. Now that I’ve seen that process in action, I want more.
I love this world I stumbled into.
I learned that there are regular WordPress Meetups here in Seattle (also, around the world for those of you not in Seattle). I will be checking these out, so look for me at a Seattle WordPress Meetup soon.