Our daughter who’s nine has expressed a long-time interest in all things culinary. She’s a little foodie who will eat just about anything and her food knowledge exceeds that of most adults. She is an avid watcher of Cooking Channel, Food Network, and especially loves The Greatest British Baking Show. Her dad is a classically trained chef, and she has taken classes locally, but the kids didn’t get to do very much in our local classes because of the teacher-student ratio. She desperately wanted to do something more hands-on.
One day when we were at Whole Foods in Nashville, we picked up a schedule of cooking classes and enrolled Anna Claire in an Easter treats class. We were so impressed with how much kids were allowed to do during this one lesson, and there was almost an instructor per child. She loved it and learned so much, we signed her up for the weeklong summer camp.
It was a financial sacrifice for our family, but when the interest, effort and passion is really there, and the doors open to meet it, we find great value in that. We always want to support both girls in any way we can to achieve their goals and dreams.
Cooking class day 1: Anna Claire got to grate, zest, use serrated knife for the first time and pan-sear.
Today’s theme was picnic. The kids made a potato salad all by themselves. AC said it was very similar to the one we make but mustard based. They diced the potatoes, grated the carrot, and all that. She raved about the corn on the cob with chili lime butter and she especially loved the tomato and manchego tarte.
Cooking class day 2: Today’s theme was party. Anna Claire was so excited to tell us about the mini meatloafs they made using muffin tins. They layered biscuit dough, ground beef, shredded cheese and ketchup. She is confident she could recreate this solo, and the instructors let her make the meatballs.
Cooking class day 3: AC asked to arrive early because she gets to help set up and with the mis en place. She said they had smoothies for them when they arrived – mango/pineapple/spinach.
Today’s theme was breakfast. They made monkey bread using the same pizza dough recipe they used before- glazed in simple syrup and rolled in cinnamon sugar – she goes to bring some home and they were delish!
She was excited to explain that the kitchen has a special proofing drawer that cuts down the time it takes the dough to proof.
She also said all of the ingredients they used came directly from the Whole Foods store so that automatically raised the quality of the outcome.
They made parfaits, sausage balls, hashbrown nests (with eggs, cheese, bacon, red bell pepper.) Anna Claire said the teachers asked her to demonstrate dicing the red bell peppers because she did such a nice julienne.
Cooking class day 4: AC has been the most excited about this day! They got to make homemade pasta and called in an expert pasta maker to be the kids’ instructor. They made two pastas: pappardelle and tagliatelle. The kids were able to use the pasta machine and AC is begging for one. She does have a birthday coming up…
Cooking class day 5: The theme was luau and also AC’s graduation. They invited parents to come in for an extra half hour at the end of class for a tasting of all they made. The kids prepared kabobs with pineapple and chicken. The teachers said they were a little grossed out handling the raw chicken and putting it on the skewers. They also made a macaroni salad, fruit salad and chocolate coconut pie.
I have been so impressed with this program. The kids literally have done all of it. I even see them cleaning the tables and tending to the dishes when I pick her up each day!
The age range of this camp is 7-9 and she is 9, but will be 10 at the end of this month. There is a camp for ages 10-12 but she wants to wait and do it next summer.
My nine-year-old daughter Anna Claire and I have wanted to visit Restoration Hardware and its cafe. Today we were in Nashville, just the two of us, which is rare. We typically have my spirited five-year-old with us too. It seemed like the perfect day to treat my big girl to this experience.
From arrival to the end, we felt so special here.
We had already had a good lunch so we were just wanting to have coffee and tea in the cafe and then explore.
A hostess greeted us, and immediately made us feel at ease. There wasn’t a table available, and a 30 minute wait, so they gave us the option to put our name down for a table and wait, or take a to-go cup upstairs to the roof. My girl had wanted the formal tea service, but decided to go ahead to the roof so we could have time to shop afterward, so that’s we we did.
(I have to add that even the paper cup of tea felt special because it was served with the cutest jar of honey!)
The elevator, Anna Claire declared, was the nicest one she had ever been on, and the stunning chandeliers and light fixtures throughout the entire building we keep you saying, “Wow!”
You absolutely have to see the roof! My daughter immediately declared that “THIS is how to live!” Everything is furnished beautifully, of course, and there were many fountains and foliage that made it feel extra special. I didn’t think the roof would be an option for us on this rainy day but we got lucky because it had stopped briefly for the time we were there.
When we got back downstairs, I checked to see if by any chance there was a table available, and she told us one of the better ones was! We got couches!
From here, our minds were blown at the attention and awesome service we received. We explained to our waitress that my daughter had wanted the tea service, but there was no table when we arrived. She asked what kind of tea she had, and came right back with the tea service and also brought us chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were huge and still warm, right out of the oven. And Anna Claire’s tea was jasmine silver needle which tasted just like my jasmine essential oil! It was the neatest thing.
This is such a special experience that I absolutely recommend for mommy/daughter bonding. Followed by shopping at Green Hills mall, of course.
Madeline spotted this little friend yesterday in a shop and her Daddy and I both gave her the “you have so many stuffed animals already talk.”
But then…we saw her hide the toy under the other stuffed animals she said “so no other child could find her.” She came home and counted all of her change, $4.07, and presented it to me as an offer for her unikitten. She came up to me several times last night and said she couldn’t stop thinking about the unikitten. Then this morning she said she had a dream about unikitten.
And as you can see, today she is now the proud owner of this “very rare animal.” It is pretty cute. 😊
My oldest, Anna Claire, had two of her Harry Potter box set stolen out of her cubby at school. She loves reading HP more than anything right now. I was able to find both at McKays and use a credit I had from where I sold books a few months ago. I also grabbed a Barefoot Contessa cookbook for her. She’s my ten-year-old foodie and chef mini.
My youngest baby, Madeline, loves watching nursery rhyme videos on YouTube with her daddy. The Ugly Duckling and The Gingerbread Man. I found both at McKays plus a collection with Humpty Dumpty, another fave. I found a Barbie and Pinkalicious Collection too. And I remembered her saying she was sad that we can’t find Little Einstein’s on tv anymore so I was excited to find a dvd of one of her favorite episodes there too.
It is truly a treasure trove at McKays. My girls were over the moon. I love finding things to surprise and delight them and I’m overjoyed that books bring them so much happiness.
My school was greatly impacted this week by the sudden loss of a well-loved teacher, Kenna Robards.
I have read many touching descriptions of Kenna by her students, close friends and co-workers.
Although I didn’t know her as well as some, her spirit continues to inspire me as the words “live life to the fullest” have echoed in my mind all week long – every time her name is mentioned or I come across one of the many pictures of her shared by those who loved her on social media.
Kenna did live life to the fullest. One friend shared that Kenna “did more in a day than most people do all week.” She showed up for her students in a big way, attending their basketball games, plays and more. She was always willing to step up and volunteer.
I know that as she watches over us, she would want us to live life BIG, just like she did. As I read the synonyms for the word “vibrant,” each one fit her to a T: enthusiastic, spirited, lively, full of life, energetic, sparkling, dynamic, passionate, determined.
Kenna was larger than life. To know her, was to love her. She would light up a room, and not just some days. She was a big personality and in the best possible way.
While I am almost old enough to be her mom, she always made me feel special, just like she did everyone. Her last words to me were that I was a great role model and she always told me I was a good mom. She did that for everyone: made them feel loved, supported, included, special.
Kenna helped me keep up with the times. She taught me how to Snapchat and I did my first Snapchat post with Kenna.
She was a treasure at my school and if I am heartbroken over this young person I adored, I can only imagine the impact this must be having on her family, close friends, her current students and teachers on her hall. My love especially extends to you all.
We had the best experience at Soundwaves. And it wasn’t just the water park. Everything about our stay was satisfying from customer service when we arrived, to our fancy schmancy hotel room to enjoying walking around the beautiful hotel grounds.
When you book your package, you can request early arrival, which we did, and they will hold your bags and let you go ahead to the water park while they are preparing your room. They text you when your room is ready.
You will need to pay $32 for parking and it is only $8 more for valet.
We thought ahead and packed a pool bag with everything we would need and had our swimsuits on under our clothes. You won’t need beach towels; they provide them for you!
Once your room is ready, you can grab your bags, get your bearings and go back to Soundwaves if you want. We took everything to our room and checked out our digs, then spent another hour on the lazy river at Soundwaves.
In addition to the lazy river and a traditional pool, Soundwaves offers something for everyone in the family, from a gentle toddler area, to a more daring kid area with climbing and an obstacle course, to surfing and super fast water slides.
We recommend locking up valuables in your room. Lockers cost $12 in the Soundwaves area.
As far as food, we didn’t go there, but it was nice that they had Decibels restaurant inside Soundwaves. It looked cool if you wanted to grab a bite without worrying about drying off and changing clothes. You could just eat in your swimwear.
They don’t allow you to bring outside food into Soundwaves. We did bring lots of snacks with us on the trip and made frequent visits to our room to consume them and save money.
If you are on a budget like we were, the pizza place located in the Delta was yummy and a good deal. It was $4 for a big slice, which was enough to fill me up. Pizzas are cooked in wood fired ovens and it was great because pizza is a favorite food of my picky eater who is five.
We did splurge on room service. Our girls begged for desserts from room service. My big girl devoured the tiramisu and my little one turned the creme brûlée over to me after trying one bite. It was amazing.
Booking your stay. You will need to book a hotel room or a party room to do Soundwaves. Check out all deals available. My daughter wanted family time instead of a party, and really wanted to stay at the hotel anyway. I didn’t look into the cost of booking a party room, but it is an option to consider.
When I booked there was a Soundwaves package, and when you go to the website for Soundwaves/Gaylord Opryland, you will most likely end up on Marriott Bonvoy website since that is who you will book through. I was able to find a teacher discount just by doing a google search, and if you live in Nashville/Davidson county they offer a special discount. Be sure to follow Gaylord Opryland on social media. They post offers and discounts there.
Another way we were able to get a better rate was by being flexible with the date we chose. Please do this. There can be a $200 or more variance in cost from one day to the next.
We went for my oldest daughter’s birthday and booked the for the end of our spring break. Her birthday is in June and we just went so that tells you we were extremely flexible. Waiting until June would be a) peak season, and b) have costed three times as much. When I pulled up their rates calendar where you can see prices for each day of the year, that date was the lowest, so we jumped at it. An example of the rate calendar is below.
Get approved for the Marriott Bonvoy credit card for $200 credited back. Be sure and read the fine print: we had to use our debit card initially for the deposit, then they transferred our balance to the Bonvoy card upon arrival at the hotel. We should see the $200 credit on our next statement or the following. I will keep you posted on that.
Sheerlume (aka “Spanx for your face”) is back in stock!
Dark circles? Age spots? Fine lines? Redness? Acne scars?
Just the tiniest amount lightens, tightens and brightens your whole face. I was skeptical when I first bought it but it really has evened out my skin tone and using this along with Frankincense has turned back the clock. My skin is smoother and younger looking for sure. I get nervous when I’m close to running out!
Most skin brighteners have hydroquinone or mercury (warning: heavy metal poisoning)as their active ingredient. Hydroquinone has been referred to as one of the most harmful ingredients used in personal care products.
Sheerlume is free of these. Like all other Young Living products, you can trust it to be plant-based, formulated with a blend of botanicals and pure essential oils including Royal Hawaiian sandalwood, sacred frankincense, vetiver, geranium and jasmine.
I have been rationing the small amount left in my jar and so thankful it is back!
As a Young Living member, you get 24% off this gem and all future YL purchases, and it only costs $45 for a membership. What I love is that with the membership is you will get the YL favorite, Stress Away essential oil. Become a member here, and be sure in the drop down menu to select “Basic Kit.”