a graduation card

Did you know that 5th graders have graduations from Elementary School into Middle School? I don't remember having a big graduation ceremony for kindergarten or elementary school or even middle school.  Though I do like to brag that my high school graduation was at Red Rocks...

Why do I know about 5th grade graduation? For the last two years, I've spent an hour per week volunteering at a public school in Denver. The teacher of the class is a good friend of mine. I started tutoring the kids in math when they were in 4th grade, helped run a reading club last summer and went back to math tutoring this school year.

Most of the kids are Mexican and some are recent immigrants who don't speak English well. Some of them are bilingual and translate for their parents who don't speak English well (or at all). After two years, they still don't remember that I can understand them when they speak their secret language (Spanish). I always loved responding to them in Spanish when they didn't think I understood what they said.

Going in to see them was often the highlight of my week. Whenever I enter the classroom, they eagerly greet me. When their teacher says he's going to send a group back to work with me, they all raise their hands wanting to be included in my group.

The kids are awesome and it's been so exciting to see their progress over the last two years. They've gone from apathetic to interested, behind to caught up (even ahead!), discouraged about learning to excited about what they can accomplish. They're taller, more mature and don't seem much like kids anymore. I'll definitely miss seeing them every week when they move on to different middle schools.

I thought about getting them gifts to celebrate, but what do you buy for 27 5th graders that's affordable and useful? Instead of buying something, I decided to design a card with my newly acquired Adobe Illustrator skills (I'm still a beginner...) The card I made is below...next step is to write 27 notes to the kids! 

Graduation CArd

recent happenings + fun friday links

I've been making very slow progress on my knitting and other projects lately. Going out of town every other weekend for 2 months will do that to you, though!

I spent a weekend in Estes Park in mid-April. It snowed, but that was pretty much the norm in Denver every week from April through mid-May.

I celebrated my 30th birthday with some friends in NYC. It was really fun to go back to the city where I used to live. We had amazing spring weather, shopped and ate and drank a lot. I stopped by Purl Soho, the shop that inspired me to learn to knit 8 years ago where I bought some fun fabric and thread for a summer sewing project. The photo below is our hotel room at the W Downtown

Last weekend I went on an epic road trip with some friends to Zion National Park and Bryce National Park. It was a 10ish hour drive from Denver so we spent a lot of time driving for a 3 day weekend. The parks were absolutely amazing, though.

Zion National Park
Bryce National Park

I'm headed to San Diego next weekend to visit my brother and sister-in-law. And then I'm staying put for a little while!

Since it's Friday, here are some fun links for you:

Spring rolls in a bowl look like a perfect summery meal

I made these grilled carrots with dill last night. They're super easy and delicious!

I've been taking some fun classes on Skillshare lately. They're cheap, super useful and you can go through them at your own pace. Currently, I'm learning more techniques for digital illustration using Adobe Illustrator. I'm working on a redesigned logo and design for the site here!

My latest obsession is green smoothies. I make one every day for breakfast. My coworkers make fun of me, but these are seriously tasty and healthy!

Have a great weekend!

an italian feast

I'm currently in week two of a brand new job. It's going well so far, but I've been feeling a little overwhelmed as I settle into a new routine, new job, new situation.

Before I started the job, I threw a big dinner party for 9 of my friends in my little apartment. I moved a few tables into the living room for a banquet style table. I borrowed chairs from neighbors. For some reason, I only have sets of 9. Nine chairs, nine wine glasses, nine plates. My neighbors (who also came to the dinner party) let me borrow one extra set of everything.

I decided to make an Italian feast to celebrate.

 

On the menu:

Red wine (lots of it)

Garlic rosemary flatbread (plus a gluten free variety)

Roasted pepper salad with capers, kalamata olives, and garlic

Pasta e Fagioli (my grandmother's recipe)

New York Cheese Cake with Cherry Topping (from Smitten Kitchen)

The recipe for pasta e fagioli (or pasta and beans) is a "recipe". My Mom just knows how to make it. She learned by watching her Italian grandmother and her Mother while growing up. When I asked her for the recipe a few years ago, she sent me a 3 page email describing how to make it. So I have a "recipe", but not in the traditional sense.

The pasta takes a long time to make, but it's worth every minute. It's a lot of work and I don't make it that often--definitely a special occasion treat. And apparently it was so good that I forgot to snap a picture of it. But believe me, it was enjoyed by all.

Someday, I'll sit down and turn my 3 page email into an actual recipe and post it here. But that day is not today. I need to get to bed early...it's supposed to snow tonight and I might need a little extra time to scrape the snow off my car and commute.

My dinner party was a success...in fact, it was so successful that my downstairs neighbor complained about the noise. I guess that's the true definition of a loud Italian feast!