Monday, August 30, 2010

Pie Time

by rosanna's eldest daughter, alessandra wollner

Dilemma: What do you do when you have two frozen pie shells and you are moving out of your apartment in two days time?

Solution: You make pie.

Dilemma #2: There are two of you, and lots of pie, which contains vast quantities of butter that you do not want going straight to your thighs, but which you will eat in its entirety, if left to your own devices.

Solution #2: Go out for drinks, meet up with friends, invite friends over after last call for homemade pie.

Problem(s) solved.

Around the same time my mom wrote about throwing a spontaneous cupcake party, I found myself in my friend’s soon-to-be-vacated apartment with two frozen pie shells on my hands and a directive to do something with them. Having filled one shell with a peach/blueberry medley topped with a crumble crust (so so easy—just toss the fruit with some lemon juice, sugar, flour and cinnamon for the filling and mix together some oats, flour, butter and brown sugar for the crumble) and the other with simple custard and chopped strawberries (you can even use an instant pudding Jello mix for this if you want and dress up the pudding with other chopped fruit inside, like banana) we were on our way to pie city. TMP, (Too Much Pie) turned out to be the perfect excuse to have some friends over to chill. It was totally low-key, almost insultingly easy and utterly satisfying, socially and gastronomically.

Let them eat cake? NoNoNo—It’s all about the pie.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Spontaneous Cupcake Party

Everyone loves a party, but not everyone loves to throw them. The prospect of the planning, the prep and the mess can sometimes discourage people from hosting gatherings. Parties don't have to be labor intensive. Here's one idea for a simple party...A Cupcake Party. Who doesn't feel happier with a cupcake in their hands?

To make a Cupcake Party you will need:

*A single or tiered display pedestal from one of my collections. Try Decor Bon Bon-White, Decor Bon Bon-Colors, Le Gateau or White.

*Some pretty paper napkins.

*A box of your favorite cupcake mix. ( I like Dr. Oetker's Organic Mix)

*Baking supplies.

Assemble and bake the cupcakes. Frost them using my homemade frosting recipe (see below.) Arrange them on the pedestals and use as your centerpiece. This party is so easy to put together that you could even make it an impromptu gathering and invite friends on the spot. One of my favorite ways to decorate cakes and cupcakes is to use fresh flowers...whatever is in season and outside your door. They really make the desserts stand out.

Homemade Pink Frosting
3/4 stick of butter
2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons organic whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

Red food dye

Cream the butter until very light. Add the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of whole milk (you may need to add more liquid, but be mindful of the fact that if you add to much your frosting will be too thin. If this happens, add more powdered sugar.) Add the vanilla and salt along with 1 to 2 drops of red food dye (depending on how pink you want the frosting.) Frost the cooled cupcakes and serve on tiered cake pedestals. If they're meant for a birthday, don't forget to garnish each cupcake with pastel candles!

A cupcake party is one of my favorite parties because their is barely any mess to clean up afterwards. The cupcakes are self-contained and they make people happy. What could be more perfect?

Friday, August 20, 2010

This Moment

Each morning in Providence, Francesca and I would walk to class. And each day in Roger Williams Park, the smallest national park in the nation, a group of historical reinactors would recreate scenes from the countries earliest days, pitching tents, or marching in formation, so long as it was bygone.
Afterwards, the national park rangers would make their daily rounds, maintaining this tiny patch of green space. The spectacle and the ritual never got old. Removed from my daily existence in Seattle, I found it was easy to take pleasure in the smaller activities and modest scenes that I walked by every day. Sometimes, all it takes is a little variation to open your eyes to the beauty right in front of you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The American Way

The United States amazes me. Especially after spending time in two cities with major significance in American history, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. For me, part of getting to truly know a new place means learning as much as I can about the history of the area. By learning about the history of Charleston and Providence, I also learned quite a bit about the character of the people who made the dream of a new nation into a reality.
From an early age, we are told about the bravery, determination and integrity of our founders. But it all felt distant to me until I saw the places that connect with the stories and the landmarks that still exist today. I was humbled by the work ethic and the initiative it took to found a new society and to forge a set of values from which a country could be built. Now, I see even more clearly that these values are still present in American society today.
The recession forced us to return to these values in order to stay afloat. But for these values and for the rich history of a young nation with so far yet to go, I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the American way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Plunge

When I first suggested to Francesca that she take art classes at RISD this summer instead of at our local arts center, she was hesitant. Even with me along, it was going to be a huge step outside of her comfort zone. But with encouragement from me, her big sister and her art teacher, she finally agreed to go. I started to save towards the trip, an experience I was thinking of as an investment in Francesca's education, both in the classroom and in life.
Now that our adventure in Providence is over, I can say for sure that the experience was invaluable for Francesca. It pushed her outside of her comfort zone and gave her new confidence in her artistic talent and her ability to excel as an art student. All of us, no matter how young or old, must go outside of our comfort zones in order to grow. As a parent, it was extremely satisfying to watch that growth occur before my eyes.
Expose your children to as much as you can. Encourage them to stretch and dare them to challenge themselves. Start young. Helping children find the courage to take the plunge is one of the most important qualities a parent can pass on.

Monday, August 2, 2010


During our two weeks in Providence, RI, Francesca and I lived very simply. RISD gave us housing in an apartment-style dorm, and because Seattle is so far from Providence, we brought only the essentials with us-- sheets, linens, pots & pans and some Rosanna-ware.
In those two weeks in Providence, our life shrunk down to fit a smaller scale. We didn't get in a car once. Instead, we walked everywhere--to class, the grocery store, the laundromat--all the while admiring the breathtaking historic architecture of this old American city. Walking, going slower and simplifying allowed us to connect with our surroundings on a much more intimate level.
Both Francesca and I were surprised to discover how much we enjoyed living simply. We truly felt the difference it makes to cut out unnecessary elements and live with less.
So, if you can, I suggest a little experiment: simplify your existence for a week. Make a list of the most essential things you need and get rid of the rest. When we stripped down our lives, it became clear how little we actually do need. And, more to the point, without all the other stuff in the way, we were able to see something important: the things that make us truly happy.