Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cuz I Never Told

I was going to write a rant-y post about my missing Amazon Fresh delivery and the subsequent troubles with their customer service "process", but now that they've *finally* delivered my groceries (13 hours late) and given me a full refund, I'm done being mad at them. It did take them longer than it should have to make it right.

Instead I'll write about something much more pleasant. You'll remember that I wrote a few months ago about winning a private cooking demo/dinner for 8 at Crush Restaurant, with Chef Jason Wilson, through a charity event at work.

Last Monday was our scheduled dinner and we were joined by our friends Jenna, John, Travis, Sandra, Dave and Lisa. And it was incredible. The food was good, of course, but even cooler was the amount of time Jason spent explaining to us what he was making. And of course we got to drool over his professional kitchen with some nifty equipment, like the rubberized cutting board (we will soon own 2, thanks to TJ) and the salt block used for quick-curing thinly sliced raw meat and fish.

Again, it was fascinating to peek into a different professional world than my own. Jason told us how he got into cooking, about going to culinary school, and how he came to own his own restaurant. It seems like extremely long hours and hard work, but as we ate the food, I am so glad a place like that exists.

We had a halibut and lamb appetizer, an amazing carbonara gnocchi pasta with lobster (yum!), salad with fresh apples and blue cheese, a lighter pasta with leeks and kale (leekleekleekleek), handmade chocolates that he snuck from the pastry chef's stash, and for dessert, a light financier cake with quince and maple syrup. Everything was different, surprising and YUMMY.

I also found my new favorite thing in the world to drink. I am trying very hard to eliminate caffeine and artificial sweeteners, which rules out my all time favorite diet Coke. But I also hate plain sparkling water.

Jason introduced us to DRY soda, which was developed by a woman in Seattle and still made by her small company here. It's like a more grownup, less faky version of the 'New York Seltzer' stuff I had growing up. It's sweeetened with just a little bit of real sugar, and comes in 6 flavors: vanilla bean, rhubarb, kumquat, juniper berry, lavender and lemongrass.

It's just barely flavored, very subtle, but not salty or bitter like most flavored sparkling water. A few days ago I bought some for myself, and our grocery had only lemongrass (which I had at dinner and knew I liked) and lavender (which I figured I'd try).

And then to my surprise, I came home from work on Thursday to find a case of DRY soda on my doorstep. Burning with curiosity about who sent it, I opened it to find a variety pack of every flavor they offer, and a very sweet note from our friends Dave and Lisa thanking us for the dinner experience. So nice! I am now drinking the Kumquat and enjoying it very much.

So anyone who comes over can try it out, unless I drink all of it in the meantime!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The last time I passed through satisfaction

Ooh, busy couple of weeks. My new favorite band, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, needed a new website, so I volunteered to build it for them. I figured if I was going to spend so much time online, at least I should be doing something useful, right?

And I figured it would be a good opportunity to learn/practice some new skills - registering domain names, finally applying the principles of web design that I've been collecting in my head, and then looking at the statistics and figuring out how to use those to improve the site.

Since we wanted to do this quickly, we chose a hosting provider called Bandzoogle, which provides a pretty quick way to build sites, but still allows customization directly in the code. Since I'm no graphic designer *and* I still have a full time job, this was a smarter choice than building the whole thing completely from scratch.

It's been a fun project so far, and I've gotten a lot of great content and feedback from the band. Obviously since they are the "customer" I want them to feel like the site really represents them.

It's still a work in progress - I'll be adding a Contacts page, an online shop, and a couple of other widgets. But take a look and give me your feedback - I'd really appreciate it.

Oh, and if you're in Seattle, they're playing at Jules Maes Saloon tonight around 10:30, so drop by. You won't regret it!

Leave your feedback on the site in the comments here, please:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I have no gift to bring

I started drum lessons last week!! There's an awesome drum shop in Bellevue, Donn Bennett Drum Studio, that offers lessons. A friend and I are taking a four week group class for absolute beginners. The classroom is set up with 8 drum kits so we each get to pretend to be a rockstar for a short time each week.

Even better, the studio allows students to practice in their lesson rooms when they're not being used. So for the past 2 days I've spent an hour there, practicing the simple rock beat that we learned. That's the cool thing about picking up a new skill - the learning curve is steep but improvements are made really quickly. After just two days of practice, I'm more comfortable with the kit, and I was having a great time rockin out. (very slowly, of course.)

I hope to make it back a few more times to practice before Thursday's lesson. The folks at the shop are really friendly, and I have a brand new pair of my very own sticks. How cool is that?? I should have done this years ago.

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