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Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 | 0 comments

Birthday Cupcakes from the Furloughed Fed

Birthday Cupcakes from the Furloughed Fed

When Leslie and I met Danielle during the tour of her amazing DIY home renovation (part 1 and part II of her story can be found here) we didn’t know the EPA attorney had a secret talent — baking and cake design! And, she’s making a part-time job of it. As a federal employee faced with the furlough, she wanted something to do to make up for the loss of income and extra time, so why not make some money doing what you love. The discovery of Danielle’s talent came at an opportune time as I was also looking for a special cake for my husband Mark’s birthday. Logistically, I knew I wouldn’t be able to surprise him with homemade cupcakes, so I gave Danielle a call. Since Mark is the assistant coach of our son’s baseball team (and a huge baseball fan as well), I decided cupcakes resembling baseballs made sense. The plan was to bring them with us to Cinema Del Ray where we were meeting friends for a picnic...

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Posted by on May 3, 2013 | 0 comments

Playing the Celebrity Party Game

Playing the Celebrity Party Game

Maybe you’ve heard about the party game called Celebrity. (It’s for grown-ups. I think I should add that point since we most often write about kids’ parties.) I’ve now played it at gatherings a couple of times and it really is a blast. Next time you’re hanging out with your family or a group of friends, it’s a perfect time to bust out the game. You don’t need any special equipment — just your brains, a timer, some slips of paper and pens, a bowl, a scorekeeper, and a willingness to act silly. I first experienced the game on New Year’s Eve with friends and then we played last weekend with family and neighbors outside after a BBQ picnic. I like that it’s a game you can play anywhere. Here’s how it works: You divide up into two teams. Either way, everyone writes the names of about eight celebrities on slips of paper and puts them in a bowl. The celebrities can be dead or alive, real or fictional. People...

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Posted by on May 2, 2013 | 2 comments

Del Ray Café Rotisserie Rendez-Vous

Del Ray Café Rotisserie Rendez-Vous

On DIY Del Ray, we love to share great deals around the neighborhood. So we’d be remiss if we didn’t share one of the best deals in town, the rotisserie chicken dinner from Del Ray Café. Before Del Ray Café opened a year ago this month, we followed the progress during the renovations, eagerly awaiting the promise of croissants, freshly baked baguettes and delicious French cuisine. And once they opened, we especially grew fond of their to-go rotisserie chicken dinner, the answer to mid-week meal-planning quandaries and a welcome break from our normal dining routines. Last night was Del Ray Café chicken night at my house. I fancied up our outdoor meal by serving it on a platter, garnished with some sprigs of rosemary (c’est magnifique!), borrowed from a neighbor’s garden. The chicken, juicy on its own, comes with gravy, roasted red potatoes and a baguette. I supplemented the carbs with some sautéed Swiss chard we already had. Plenty of food for our family of four. Like the sign outside Del Ray Café says, this...

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Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 | 3 comments

Del Ray’s Signature Speakeasy

Del Ray’s Signature Speakeasy

When Katie and I heard there was a speakeasy right here in Del Ray, we knew we had to investigate. The word “speakeasy” brings to mind images of glamour, intrigue, suspense — something new and exciting for our sleepy little neighborhood. Through a mutual acquaintance, we tracked down Tim and Kari, the couple who run the Midget Inn, “Del Ray’s Signature Speakeasy.” We succeeded in getting ourselves invited as “press” and set off one night with my husband Matt for what would become a very interesting evening. Tim and Kari provided the address and said “look for the neon open sign.” (There really is a neon sign.) Such intrigue! We tiptoed in with a bit of trepidation, but when we got inside, Kari welcomed us with open arms. It felt like a basement, but the coolest basement renovation you’d ever set foot in. Kari escorted us to the bar to see the list of that night’s special cocktail choices. We pulled out our wallets to pay, but they insisted on treating us....

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Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 | 0 comments

Nadja’s Animal Storytime Birthday Party

Nadja’s Animal Storytime Birthday Party

My daughter Nadja wanted an animal-themed 5th birthday party, which had me stumped at first. How could I entertain 10 rambunctious kids, age 3-7, in our small house? And what if it rains and we have to be inside the entire time? Then, I decided to hire Barbara Effron, storyteller and a former children’s librarian, whom I had met last winter through an acquaintance. And all was well. Looking back, I think Nadja’s birthday party was probably the easiest I’ve organized yet. Barbara’s performance started as soon as the children arrived and lasted about an hour. She kept the kids, ages 3 to 7, entranced the entire time. Since Nadja wanted an “animal theme” for her party, Barbara chose stories to fit. She first performed the story from a classic children’s book called Crictor, about an old lady’s pet boa constrictor. She acted out the story using the giant stuffed snake she brought with her in a gift wrapped box. Then, she led the children in the story of Three Billy...

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