SLC Tourist, Edition #2: Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version, Round 2)

My oldest loves picking dandelions wherever she goes.

My oldest loves picking dandelions wherever she goes.

After a brief hiatus, I’m back with SLC Tourist Edition #2: Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version, Round 2).  I realized after I had posted the previous list of things to do that I missed some of my favorite places/parks to visit with my kids.  I’ll focus (mostly) on places beyond Salt Lake City proper for this post, in case you’d like to venture outside of the city limits.

Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version, Round 2)

  • Parley’s Way Park (Tiny park at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon, this park has a huge sandbox and wonderful playground equipment especially for younger kids, 18 months+. 2843 Wilshire Dr, Salt Lake City)
  • Rooftop gardens of the Main Salt Lake City Library (Fun view of the city. 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City)
  • Rooftop gardens at the Conference Center (Take a free garden tour! 60 West North Temple, Salt Lake City)
  • Sugar House Park (Plenty of places to play, picnic, and explore. 2100 South from 1350 East to 1600 East, Salt Lake City)
  • Tanner Park (2760 South 2695 East Heritage Way, Salt Lake City)
  • Evergreen Park (Lovely pavilion, playground equipment, and picnic tables. 3425 South [Evergreen Ave.] 2230 East, Millcreek Township)
  • Canyon Rim Park (Large pavilion and great playground equipment. 3100 South 3100 East [Grace St.], Millcreek Township)
  • Big Bear Park (One of my all-time favorite parks from my childhood, this park features excellent old-fashioned metal playground equipment. 9695 South [Onyx Lane] 930 East, White City Township)
  • Veterans Memorial Park (You MUST visit this park.  There is a HUGE playground that’s more like a giant wooden fort.  It’s a place for kids’ imaginations to run wild.  Pack a picnic and spend several hours here. 1985 W. 7800 South, West Jordan)
  • Wheeler Historic Farm (FREE and fun for kids.  This is a fully functioning farm complete with farm animals. 6351 South 900 East, Murray)
  • Copperton Park (If you’ve never heard of Copperton, you need to visit.  You’re not able to visit the copper mine in nearby Bingham any more, since the landslides took away the visitor center, but you should still make a point of visiting Copperton at least once in your life. Make a half-day trip out of it. It’s a quaint little town tucked far away from anything else, but there are some terrific well-preserved historic homes and other buildings. 8791 West Park Street, Copperton Township)
  • Mountview Park Splash Pad (Huge water play area. 1651 E Fort Union Blvd, Cottonwood Heights)
  • Gateway Olympic Fountain (Kids can run around in the fountains wearing swimsuits.  No shoes required. 6 N. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City)
  • City Creek fountains (Don’t plan on taking your shoes off at this fountain.  Security guards are pretty picky about kids keeping shoes and clothes on.  Make sure your kids wear flip-flops/sandals and a t-shirt over that swimsuit. 50 S. Main St., Salt Lake City)
  • Mack Park (Beautiful park worth visiting if you’re ever in Logan or Smithfield, Utah)

That’s all I can think of right now.  I’m sure more will come to me as soon as I publish this post.  Enjoy!

SLC Tourist, Edition #1: Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version)

SLC from 600 North, by Justin Wheatley

SLC from 600 North, by Justin Wheatley

Even though I’ve lived in Utah (specifically in and around Salt Lake City) pretty much all of my life, sometimes I like to pretend that I’m a tourist in my own backyard.  I’m a travel junkie, but opportunities to hop on a plane and explore a new city/country are usually few and far between these days, so adventures in discovering new venues in my own home town feed the travel bug inside of me.  Visiting the same old sites with new eyes keeps life interesting.  (Having two little ones in tow when I venture out also helps me see these places with fresh eyes.)

Anyway, I decided to focus my next few blog posts on great things to do in and around Salt Lake City.  Most of these are kid-friendly, with a few exceptions, that I will note.

  • Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version)
  • Things to Do (Arts & Culture Version)
  • Things to Do (Shopping Version)
  • Must-Try Restaurants

Most of these things are free or low cost (an added plus for a thrifty mom, with the exception of the restaurants, of course).  I really love Salt Lake City and all that it has to offer a mom with two young kids (and another kid on the way).  These are just a few of my favorite haunts.

Things to Do (Parks & Rec Version)

  • Memory Grove (Utah Heritage Foundation offers tours during the summer – check the website)
  • Liberty Park
  • Lindsey Gardens (426 N “M” Street – a great park in the Avenues)
  • Shipp Park (479 E 4th Avenue)
  • Bonneville Shoreline Trail (catch one trailhead by driving all the way to the top of “I” Street in the Avenues)
  • Silver Park (126 West 500 North – a tiny gem of a park)
  • Heber C. Kimball Park (in between State St. and Main St., just north of North Temple)
  • Brigham Young Historic Park (100 North State Street – a great place for free concerts in the summer)
  • Salt Lake City Cemetery (a good place to find the headstones of many LDS prophets)
  • Ensign Peak (great views of the Salt Lake Valley)
  • Reservoir Park (South Temple and 1300 East)
  • Gilgal Gardens (so weird because of its crazy sculptures, you have to check it out – 749 East 500 South)
  • Miller Park (1708 E 900 S – close to the 15th & 15th neighborhood)
  • Salt Lake City Garden Park Ward (not a park, but the grounds are gorgeous and a must-see – 1150 E Yale Ave.)
  • Jordan River Parkway
  • Steenblik Park (fondly known as the “cat park”, for its giant cat statues – 1050 W 800 N)
  • Riverside Park (1490 W 600 N)
  • Red Butte Gardens

Jesus and the Angry Babies

Every once in a while, my husband and I join a few local artists at a drawing group that meets every Friday morning on the campus of Brigham Young University (BYU).  It’s a nice little creative getaway from our kids; plus, we get to mingle with some of our favorite Utah artists: Caitlin Connolly, Fidalis Buehler, and Brian Kershisnik, to name a few (all of whom, by the way, are incredibly down-to-earth people with extraordinary artistic talent).

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After teaching Brian and Caitlin how to fold paper boats (thanks to paper boat folding knowledge I had gleaned from a Curious George book I had read with my daughter a few weeks ago – long story), our little artists group enjoyed a fine lunch at nearby Mountain West Burrito (I LOVED my veggie burrito – excellent fare – I highly recommend it).

Later that day, I was perusing Brian’s website and found some gems.  I love how he captures moments of life and motherhood in his art.  This is one of my favorites, “Jesus and the Angry Babies”.  Because babies will be babies, no matter who is holding them.  And also, sometimes you just want to toss your children onto someone else, especially when those children are driving you crazy with their antics or annoying each other to no end or throwing fits of irrational rage.  Who better to throw your angry children at than Jesus?  I can think of no one else more patient or loving, especially towards angry babies.

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I like this one, too, which portrays how I feel as a mother sometimes.

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Mr. Kershisnik has a great talent for putting moments and feelings on paper.  Please peruse his work here.

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Mason Jar Fruit Salad

If you haven’t checked out le zoe musings, you simply must. This is a divine blog, filled with superb photography, dreamy recipes, and all sorts of other wonderful things. Plus, I love this Mason jar idea.

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I’ve basically replaced all of my drinking glasses to mason jars. They’re just so oh incredibly cool and versatile. Zoey doesn’t eat veggies but she loves fruits. Preparing a fruit salad in a mason jar makes it fun, colorful, and majorly appetizing.

Pop a lid on them and take them anywhere and everywhere- car rides, work, picnics, etc.

Mason Jar Fruit Salad by Le Zoe Musings5Healthy snacking doesn’t get any easier or prettier. Not to mention, it’s completely mess-free!

Happy Thursday!

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Dreams do come true in La Jolla

My husband and I spent the past few days in sunny San Diego.  Sans kids.  A small miracle, if you ask me.  (BIG thanks to grandmas and grandpas who were willing to care for our kiddos while we spent some time out of town.)

The main purpose for the trip was the yearly National Art Education Association convention (held this year in San Diego) that my husband attended.  With him in conferences all day, that gave me some much-needed solo free time.  Believe me, as a mom, I rarely enjoy solo time, wherein I have the freedom to do whatever I please, so this opportunity that came with the trip was most certainly welcomed and appreciated.

On a particularly fine morning, I ventured from San Diego to La Jolla, a gorgeous area of southern California to which I would gladly return.  My mission in La Jolla: visit the world-renowned Salk Institute, designed by famous architect Louis Kahn.  The Salk Institute has been on my bucket list of “buildings to visit before I die” ever since I learned about this iconic building in architecture school.  I signed up for the guided architectural tour (I highly recommend it), and I was so happy I did.  I learned so much about the Salk Institute’s architecture that I never would have, and I gained a wonderful understanding and an even greater appreciation for the building.  With all of the anticipation that I carried with me before actually experiencing the building, let me tell you, that this place did not disappoint.

For some experiences, there are no words.  The fewer words I use to describe my experience at the Salk Institute, the better.  So I leave you with some photographs.  Enjoy!

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Why I Love Shigeru Ban

A few days ago, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban won the Pritzker Prize, a prestigious award given yearly to an accomplished architect with a large portfolio of significant projects.  Being an architect myself, I’m always interested to hear who wins the yearly Pritzker Prize.  When I heard that Shigeru Ban won this year, I was rather excited.  I’ve always admired Ban’s work, especially his humanitarian efforts and his usage of discarded materials (paper tubes, etc.) in his designs.

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I have a soft spot in my heart for Ban, though, because years ago, when I was a lowly student in the architecture program at the University of Utah, I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the AIA Convention taking place in Salt Lake City that year.  My classmates and I, crammed into the standing-room-only convention space in the downtown Hilton Hotel, hung onto every word that Ban spoke.  Here was a master in our midst, providing us a rare opportunity to listen to humble architectural/humanitarian opinion.  I was already a huge fan of Ban’s work, but I have to say, I was most impressed with Ban’s down-to-earth nature and his complete lack of ego (which is usually the trademark of most high-profile architects).  Ban inspired me with his work and his ways.

Congratulations to Shigeru Ban, for earning a well-deserved Pritzker Prize.

Small spaces require creativity

With baby #3 (a girl) on the way, I’ve been rethinking the children’s bedroom.  Currently, my two girls (ages 3 and 20 months) share a room (toddler bed + crib).  Thinking ahead to when we’ll add girl #3 to the same bedroom, I’ve been researching bunk beds to find something that will fit their compact space.  With 1700 square feet to work with in our home, I need to use our space creatively to fit the needs of our growing family.  I’m also picky when it comes to furniture, having a predisposition to clean, modern-looking furniture, and preferring sustainably sourced items, although I’m not opposed to acquiring second-hand pieces.

In doing some research (thanks to Pinterest), here are some amazingly creative bunk bed designs.  I really love the designs featuring stairs and incorporating additional storage somewhere around the bunk beds.

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What do you think?

Obsession confession

Confession: I am 21 weeks pregnant with my third child.  Each pregnancy has felt pretty much the same to me, with slight differences in my cravings.  The current pregnancy has me fettered to cravings for pizza (any kind – even Little Caesar’s Hot ‘n Ready sounds good to me at any time of the day) and fruit smoothies.  I can’t get enough of either.

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My mouth is watering again just looking at this photo.

Pizza fit the bill for dinner one evening last week.  I combined two of my favorite current domestic kitchen loves/experiments – cheese making and sourdough bread making – for a scrumptiously irresistible homemade marguerita pizza that I could have easily eaten all by myself.  For the recipe, I combined Ricki’s 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe and Chad Robertson’s Tartine Country Bread recipe (whole wheat version) with my own preserved/homegrown crushed heirloom garden tomatoes, fresh basil, a drizzle of good-tasting olive oil, and a sprinkling of kosher salt to produce a lovely pizza product.  Homemade mozzarella cheese, homemade chewy sourdough crust – you get the idea.  Although this dinner was a labor of love (i.e., time-consuming), the end result was heaven in pizza form.

*For more information on both Ricki Carroll and Chad Robertson and their talents, see below the photographs.

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Stirring the curds while making mozzarella cheese.

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My ball of mozzarella curds, pre-microwave.

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The end result of my mozzarella making. Doesn’t it look lovely?

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Sliced fresh mozzarella, awaiting placement on the pizza dough.

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The whole wheat sourdough crust, pre-toppings.

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Crust + toppings, pre-oven.

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The finished product. I want to eat this right now.

Ricki’s 30 Minute Mozzarella Recipe (from the awesome book pictured below – I highly recommend it if you’re interested in cheese making)

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Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  2. 1 gallon pasteurized whole milk
  3. 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet, unchlorinated water or 1/4 rennet tablet, diluted in 1/4 cup cool unchlorinated water
  4. 1 teaspoon cheese salt ( coarse, noniodized flake salt similar to pickling salt, do not use iodized salt)
  5. 1/4 cup cheese salt, added to whey if using the non-Microwave method

Directions

  1. Remember if you are using fresh, raw milk, you have to pasteurize it first (found above in the ‘Description’).
  2. Slowly heat the milk in a stainless steel pot to 55 degrees. While stirring, add the citric acid solution to the milk and mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat the milk to 88 degrees over medium-low heat. The milk will begin to curdle.
  4. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion for 30 seconds. Then let the milk sit still while heating it to between 100 and 105 degrees. In about 5 to 8 minutes, the curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat.
  5. The curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of shine to them, and the whey will be clear. If the whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes before turning off the heat. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a 2-quart microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible.
  6. Microwave the curds on high for 1 minute. (Without a microwave follows below.).
  7. Drain off all excess whey. Gently fold the cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with your hand or a spoon. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145 degrees inside the curd). You may want to don rubber gloves at this point, as the cheese will be extremely hot to the touch.
  8. Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each; add salt to taste after the second time. After each heating, knead again to distribute the heat.
  9. Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it’s done. If the curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.
  10. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm. Or place them in a bowl of ice water for half an hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly; this will produce a consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese. Although best eaten fresh, it can be stored in the refrigerator at this point.
  11. Note: If you are using store-bought milk, and your curds turn into the consistency of ricotta cheese and will not come together, switch brands of milk. It may have been heated at the factory at too high a temperature.

*How to Make Quick Mozzarella Cheese Without a Microwave*.

  1. Follow the recipe for 30-minute Mozzarella until Step 5.
  2. When you get to Step 5, reserve the whey. Then put on heavy rubber gloves.
  3. Heat the reserved whey to at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of cheese salt to the whey.
  5. Shape the curd into one or more balls, put them in a ladle or strainer, and dip them into the hot whey for several seconds.
  6. Knead the curd with spoons between each dip and repeat this process several times until the curd is smooth and pliable. When it stretches like taffy, it’s done.
  7. Roll the cheese into small balls, and serve warm. Or place them in a bowl of ice water for half an hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly. This will produce a consistent, smooth texture throughout.
  8. If you have any cheese leftover (highly unlikely!), cover and store in the refrigerator.

 

Chad Robertson’s Tartine Country Bread Recipe (borrowed from MarthaStewart.com but found in the book below)

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Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery & Cafe describes a starter — a mixture of flour, water, wild yeasts, and bacteria — as a baker’s fingerprint. Making one is simple, but it does require a commitment: Count on feeding and caring for the mixture for three weeks before you start baking.

For something closer to immediate gratification, begin using the starter after five to seven days, or order a fresh starter at kingarthurflour.com. (Keep in mind, the flavor won’t be as complex.) Another secret to baking like a pro: Weigh all the ingredients — even the water — using a kitchen scale that includes metric measurements.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Tartine Bread,” by Chad Robertson, with photographs by Eric Wolfinger.

Tools and Materials

  • For the Starter:
  • White bread flour, 1,135 grams
  • Whole-wheat flour, 1,135 grams
  • Water (lukewarm), 455 grams
  • Water (78 degrees), 150 grams per feeding
  • For the Leaven:
  • Water (78 degrees), 200 grams
  • For the Dough:
  • Water (80 degrees), 750 grams
  • Leaven, 200 grams
  • White bread flour, 900 grams
  • Whole-wheat flour, 100 grams
  • Salt, 20 grams

Chad Robertson’s Tartine Country Bread How-To

1. Make the Starter: Mix white bread flour with whole-wheat flour. Place lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Add 315 grams flour blend (reserve remaining flour blend), and mix with your hands until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place until bubbles form around the sides and on the surface, about 2 days. A dark crust may form over the top. Once bubbles form, it is time for the first feeding.

2. With each feeding, remove 75 grams; discard remainder of starter. Feed with 150 grams reserved flour blend and 150 grams warm water. Mix, using your hands, until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Repeat every 24 hours at the same time of day for 15 to 20 days. Once it ferments predictably (rises and falls throughout the day after feedings), it’s time to make the leaven.

3. Make the Leaven: The night before you plan to make the dough, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the matured starter. Feed with 200 grams reserved flour blend and the warm water. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 10 to 16 hours. To test leaven’s readiness, drop a spoonful into a bowl of room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready and needs more time to ferment and ripen. As it develops, the smell will change from ripe and sour to sweet and pleasantly fermented; when it reaches this stage, it’s ready to use.

4. Make the Dough: Pour 700 grams warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 200 grams leaven. Stir to disperse. (Save your leftover leaven; it is now the beginning of a new starter. To keep it alive to make future loaves, continue to feed it as described in step 2.) Add flours (see ingredient list), and mix dough with your hands until no bits of dry flour remain. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 35 minutes. Add salt and remaining 50 grams warm water.

5. Fold dough on top of itself to incorporate. Transfer to a medium plastic container or a glass bowl. Cover with kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. The dough will now begin its first rise (bulk fermentation), to develop flavor and strength. (The rise is temperature sensitive; as a rule, warmer dough ferments faster. Robertson tries to maintain the dough at 78 degrees to 82 degrees to accomplish the bulk fermentation in 3 to 4 hours.)

6. Instead of kneading, Robertson develops the dough through a series of “folds” in the container during bulk fermentation. Fold dough, repeating every 30 minutes for 2 1/2 hours. To do a fold, dip 1 hand in water to prevent sticking. Grab the underside of the dough, stretch it out, and fold it back over itself. Rotate container one-quarter turn, and repeat. Do this 2 or 3 times for each fold. After the 3 hours, the dough should feel aerated and softer, and you will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. If not, continue bulk fermentation for 30 minutes to 1 hour more.

7. Pull dough out of container using a dough spatula. Transfer to a floured surface. Lightly dust dough with flour, and cut into 2 pieces using dough scraper. Work each piece into a round using scraper and 1 hand. Tension will build as the dough slightly anchors to the surface as you rotate it. By the end, the dough should have a taut, smooth surface.

8. Dust tops of rounds with flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest on the work surface for 20 to 30 minutes. Slip the dough scraper under each to lift it, being careful to maintain the round shape. Flip rounds floured side down.

9. Line 2 medium baskets or bowls with clean kitchen towels; generously dust with flour. Using the dough scraper, transfer each round to a basket, smooth side down, with seam centered and facing up. Let rest at room temperature (75 degrees to 80 degrees), covered with towels for 3 to 4 hours before baking.

10. Bake the Bread: Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat oven to 500 degrees, with rack in lowest position, and warm a 9 1/2-inch round or an 11-inch oval Dutch oven (or a heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid).

11. Turn out 1 round into heated Dutch oven (it may stick to towel slightly). Score top twice using a razor blade or a sharp knife. Cover with lid. Return to oven, and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.

12. Carefully remove lid (a cloud of steam will be released). Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes more.

13. Transfer loaf to a wire rack. It will feel light and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool.

14. To bake the second loaf, raise oven temperature to 500 degrees, wipe out Dutch oven with a dry kitchen towel, and reheat with lid for 10 minutes. Repeat steps 11 through 13.

 

I love to knit.

Ever since I was roughly eleven years old, I have loved to knit.  Maybe it’s the old lady inside of me, but I seriously find so much enjoyment in turning a skein of lovely yarn into something beautiful and wearable.  Of course, I’ve had my fair share of “practice projects” to make up for the nicer looking ones.  Today, I finished two of the nicer looking ones: two identical hats for two baby boys to be born to two of my cousins in the coming months.

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Front of the hat.

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Back of the hat.

I just love the ear flaps and the little knitted details featured on the hat.  Subtle, but adorable.  I used a free pattern from Purl Soho for the Garter Ear Flap Hat, making only a couple of minor adjustments.  Instead of alpaca, I used a gray wool yarn in the same weight.    I also only used size 7 double pointed needles to create the hat, since I couldn’t find my size 8 needles, and since I didn’t have circular needles in the correct size.  (I think I prefer double pointed needles anyway for hats like this.)  This was a fairly easy pattern to use, and it’s very versatile.  You can make any size of hat, from a newborn size to an adult size.  Maybe I’ll make one for myself one day.