Archive for December, 2011
Things are a little slow in our household this week. Last week was filled with holiday parties and two days of “camp.” Does anyone else understand this logic? You pay for preschool by the month. Then there are two weeks off in December, but there is an option for you to pay more for another week of “camp” instead of school. Doesn’t make any sense to me.
In an attempt to keep my daughter entertained and allow me to not go crazy, we have been watching baking videos on Youtube.com. My daughter loves to bake, but I have no will power and will eat everything that we bake. Therefore, I try to limit our baking, or I cleverly have my daughter bake with my Mother, so that very few cookies ever reach our house.
The other day my daughter asked to watch a video showing how to make a princess cake. We had watched some a few months ago on Howdini.com This time, I let her click from video to video while I was making dinner – I can see her and the computer from the kitchen. So she now “knows” how to make a fire truck, a castle, a duck and numerous other festive cakes.
Somehow she left cakes and found her way to videos of people making miniature candy ice cream and bento in Japanese. There is no explanation in either Japanese or English. It is called Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ and as far as I can tell it involves pouring water into little containers that have been filled with special powder, stirring, sometimes adding colors and delicately displaying the wares once they have set. It is very odd. And the strangest aspect to me is that some of the videos have literally been viewed millions of times. You have to check them out.
My daughter also found videos people post of their elaborate cakes. Generally there are slow pans of beautiful cakes and stacks of cupcakes with a bit of commentary. Sometimes there is a soundtrack. My daughter doesn’t really like them, but will watch them. I am amazed by the detail and intricacies.
We went to a gingerbread decorating party on Christmas Eve and our house was totally chaotic. I must admit that I had picked up some tips from watching these videos, but they didn’t seem to apply to my daughter. Oh well.
Check out this piece in the New York Times about Moms, who notice a problem and look for a solution. When they see that there isn’t anything available; they design it, make it and bring it to market.
Before we announce our 6 winners, I wanted to thank all of you for making 2011 such a fantastic year for Paper Culture. We launched our first non-stationery product, our Bamboo Wall Art. We grew to over 100,000 Facebook fans. We planted almost 200,000 trees this year, well on our way to surpassing our goal of planting 1,000,000 trees by 2020. And most importantly, we met so many of you both in person and virtually. You let us be just a tiny part of some of your great life events and holidays, and for that we will always feel a sense of pride and honor that you chose us amongst your many options. Thank you.
We are getting close to the Chanukah/Christmas finish line and I still have some outstanding presents. I try to plan ahead and buy gifts throughout the year when I see something interesting. I find it stressful to shop at the last minute. I don’t like to end up with gifts that are just ‘meh.’ But my planning is far from perfect. Sometimes, I end up a lot of Melissa and Doug cupcake decorating kits, or red moleskine notebooks, when I really need something for the whole family.
As if you needed more temptation during this Holiday season, speculoos is now available at Trader Joe’s. I have some Belgium friends, who live in Portland. Whenever we visit, we eat bread smeared with speculoos, a cookie spread, for breakfast. They bring a few jars back from Belgium each time they visit. I never thought that I was in danger of making it a part of my daily life. But now speculoos is being marketed in the U.S. as a peanut-free alternative to peanut butter and sold at my local market.
According to my friends, everyone in Belgium eats speculoos cookies, which are light-brown buttery cookies with a hint of cinnamon (you may have tried one on Delta Airlines). In the morning, they dip them in their coffee or hot milk and patiently wait to scoop-up the dregs from the bottom. A few years ago a Belgian woman won a competition on an “invention” reality TV show where she made a spread of speculoos cookies. Now speculoos paste is incredibly popular in Europe and it has made its way across the Atlantic into mainstream America. I know, it sounds weird, but it is out of the world yum. Try it.
Since the holidays are a time of giving, we thought we’d get in the spirit by rounding up some of our favorite companies to give away their wares to YOU! It’s our little way of saying thanks for being so supportive as we build our little business. These aren’t just any companies, these are companies, all of whom we have personally met with, worked with AND feel that their products and companies share many of the same values as Paper Culture. There are bigger companies like giggle who you’ve likely seen us talk about before, and companies that we hope to introduce you to for the first time. Most are some combination of eco friendly, modern design and family oriented – all themes that are at the core of our ethos.