Friday, May 11, 2012

When you're a blogger

Today we're departing from our usual hijinks so I can tell you about a few fun things I've done lately as a direct result of blogging:

Noodles & Co.

So you know that Noodles is a favorite destination of the kids, and particularly of E's. I've written about it here enough times (this is either embarrassing or amazing; I can't decide which and I think the answer is 'both') that I was invited to have a private meal with the company's executive chef and to ask her anything I wanted when she was in DC last month. Meet Chef Tessa Stamper:

and Bangkok Curry:

Tessa sat with me (and her PR manager) for an hour as I tasted anything I wanted on the menu and asked questions about anything and everything. Here are a few nuggets from our conversation:
  • if your pesto sauce tastes too thin, your meal was cooked too long. The pesto separates if it's not tended carefully, but the Noodles policy is to remake any food that doesn't satisfy you, no questions asked.
  • the rice krispie snacks are made fresh daily and what's in them is a secret she wouldn't reveal.
  • the company tries to source local produce for as much of the growing season as is possible, and buys organic if the quality is as good as conventional.
  • the rice noodles are made by hand in Thailand and are unbroken when fashioned, from the tradition that long noodles represent long life and breaking them is bad luck. When they arrive to the restaurant, they are prepared in the same manner, without breaking them. In this way, Thai traditional noodle-making methods transmit good luck to you. 
  • although asparagus season is almost upon us, the seasonal asparagus dishes of the past few years are not returning for 2012.
  • there are no current plans to add Noodles in upstate New York, where all the kids' grandparents live. 
Weird blogger experience details: although I never knew her name before this meeting, Tessa is an important figure in our family life. We appreciate Noodles for the opportunity to feed our kids in a setting that prepares fresh food, serves organic milk, and incorporates vegetables everywhere. I recognize that it's still not exactly health food but it's not junk, either, you know? Meeting Tessa felt like meeting a celebrity, in a way. I was not expected to write about the meeting and I was not paid for the meeting but I had a one-on-one conversation with the executive corporate chef where I was free to ask anything I wanted. I also ate anything I wanted, and left with a handful of coupons for free Noodles bowls. Those have already been redeemed.

The Puppet Co.
photo credit: Christopher Piper

The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo invited use to their production of Pinocchio, which is still running. My girls loved this show, and the best fun happened after it ended when the show's director brought us backstage and we got to meet the puppets and the puppeteers. It is a tragedy to me that I only had my phone to serve as camera with me. 

Most of the puppets for this show are from 1974. "They're old -- they're older than many of the parents in our audience," the director laughed. L asked me: are you that old? 

"No, honey," I answered. "1974 is from before me." Oh, good, she said. Because that's reaalllly old. "Well, that is when Daddy was born." Oh, she said. So Daddy's very old. I'm glad I know that now.
  • Fun fact: The Puppet Co.'s is the second largest collection of puppets in the United States, after a company in Atlanta. They have hundreds of puppets that are stored archivally in two separate locations to ensure preservation of the collection. 
  • The puppeteers roll around on low-wheeled stools behind the stage. It reminded me of scooters in gym class in elementary school. (Kadimah friends: remember Mr. P's yellow scoooters??) At the beginning of rehearsals for each new exhibit, the puppeteers have trouble walking up and down stairs after exhausting some narrow interior butt muscles from silently wheeling huge puppets over their heads for hours at a time.
  • And backstage, puppeteers can be just as bawdy as any other actors. God bless my oblivious daughters. (G and his daddy stayed home and napped during this adventure.)
  • And if my kids were bigger, they'd be all over this puppet-making workshop that's coming up for 10-12 year olds.
Weird blogger experience details: we were given free tickets to the puppet show, and invited backstage for a private tour. The girls hugged puppets and manipulated puppets and had many, many questions about Pinocchio's nose growth, which the puppeteers gracefully answered in detail.

Amazing Art Studio

Oh, you guys. I've had a weakness for glass forever. Pre-blogging (so you might not know it happened), the lovely husband gave me a glass-blowing class in Baltimore for my first Mother's Day. It was amazing. At the Amazing Art Studio, I got to try glass fusing for the first time, which was way easier and produced results just as beautiful. The evening was put together by Amanda from Tots2Tweens and about a dozen of us sat together chatting and crafting. It was like a book club with safety goggles. So fun. 
  • Breaking glass into precise little shapes is not only not difficult, it makes you feel badass. You should try it. 
  • The Studio is adults-only on Thursday nights and they keep wine glasses in the cabinet because you can BYO and they help you keep it classy. 
  • They also do birthday parties, but they don't break out the wine glasses for those.
  • You assemble your glass piece, which is like collaging with glass. They fire it in the kiln and you return later to pick up your creation, which is food- and dishwasher-safe.
  • They also offer ceramics, but why would you do that when you can play with glass?
I made this:

and I love it. Who wants to go back with me?

Weird blogger experience details: we were treated to cupcakes and other light refreshments, and didn't pay for the glass pieces we made. It was basically a blog-sponsored ladies' night out.


I was at a dinner Wednesday night with several women who blog professionally. I doubt that will ever be me; while I don't mind making money from blogging it's not my primary focus nor something I pursue beyond the opportunities that fall into my lap. I have friends who have free computers and free cameras and free trips across the country and the world because of their blogs, and my little memoir blog (which I love dearly and am not denigrating here) will not likely generate those opportunities.

But- even the humble storytellers among us get to do some really fun things because of blogging, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about what that's like. This is still a very young medium and if you've ever been curious about the advantages of blogging instead of journaling, these little opportunities are one good example. Truly, though, I still think the supportive community you grow around yourself as you write out loud is the best reason to blog. And that means all of you.

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mosiphinebaker said...

Playing with glass sounds like so much fun, I have a weird obsession with cobalt glass, next time you go, I'm in!!

Father Goof said...

This rockZ (with a Z!) and if I haven't said it lately so do you! Noodles & Co is huge in our lives too - next time they see you the little Goofs will look upon you with awe!