Garth Stein!

September 16, 2011

We were treated to an extraordinary evening with Garth Stein on Wednesday, September 14. The author of The New York Times bestseller, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein was kind, funny and generous. Speaking to a standing-room only crowd of 150, he read the opening paragraphs of his beloved book, and then went on to discuss his muse (his wife, and she is not a muse in the way you might think), his inspiration for the book (reincarnation and a Billy Collins poem, “The Revenant”), the wild parrots of Seward Park, WA, and his “intimate” tour of the Ferrari factory R&D department. He was disarming, engaging, and utterly likeable.

He also spoke about the need for bookstores and libraries to create a healthy and vibrant community, some of which I captured on video:

The truly crowning achievement of the evening was our partnership with No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Jaimi Haig, the Marketing Specialist at NMHPU, set up a table with literature and a donation jar. Garth Stein offered to MATCH any funds that were raised that evening. Jaimi collected $1,000 in donations, thus raising $2,000 for the organization which is “working to end the euthanasia of homeless pets in Utah and to promote humane alternatives for feral cats.

Cake Wrecks “World Tour”

June 25, 2010

Salt Lake City and The King’s English was the second stop on the Cake Wrecks “World Tour”, and it was fantastic! A great turnout–over 300 fans–and many satisfied cake eaters. Jen will most likely post pictures also, and probably with much funnier captions, but we wanted to share a few here as well…

This young girl created a cupcake for the contest and was so excited to meet Jen!

Custom made Cake Wreck t-shirts!

That's My Cake made the hugest cupcake ever and plenty, PLENTY of cake for all to enjoy.

The winners of the contest with their death-defying entry.

And now the wrecks!

Thanks so much to Jen Yates and her husband John for bringing the World Tour to Salt Lake, and many, many thanks to That’s My Cake for providing the beautiful and delicious cakes.

A perfect evening with Audrey Niffenegger

January 25, 2010

It really couldn’t have been more perfect: a brilliant author, a thrilled audience, a few ghosts and a few jokes. Audrey was gracious and fiercely intelligent. Audrey began with a short reading from Her Fearful Symmetry, which, if you haven’t yet read it, is not to be missed. Then she opened the floor to a host of smart, writerly questions. Everyone wanted to know how she managed to write such incredibly complex works of fiction, including many fans of her earlier work, The Time Traveler’s Wife. And she obliged, offering up many tidbits and hints for aspiring writers, in fact, she was inspiring.

Photos from the Calamity Jack party! Otherwise known as the Shannon, Dean and Nathan Show!

January 12, 2010

If you have never been to an event that features Shannon and Dean Hale and their trusty sidekick and illustrator extraordinaire, Nathan Hale (no relation), you are missing a show!

Folks who came to the event hosted by TKE at the Anderson-Foothill library were rewarded with a fabulously funny afternoon. Nathan Hale, seriously talented artist and illustrator of Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack gave a multimedia presentation starting with how he got into illustrating all the way through how his original first drawing of Rapunzel and how he actually laid out Calamity Jack.

And then, oh yes, and then Shannon Hale, New York Times best-selling author of six award-winning young adult novels, and Dean Hale, her super-human husband and co-author of Calamity Jack, presented their interpretive dance: Cooperation. The room was filled with fans and everyone got a chance to meet all the contributors, get their books autographed in a rainbow of colors, and snack on Screaming Brownies and some Pixie Dust.

You had to be there, but if you weren’t and even if you were, here are a few pictures that help describe the scene.

Click on the photos to see in a larger view. Photos by Stuart Jensen

Gingerbread House storytime at the bookshop

December 13, 2009

Usually I start off these blogs with all the great books we read, but the girls were so excited to make the gingerbread house that I didn’t even get through one third of The Night Before Christmas!
Gingerbread PiratesI had envisioned how it would go: we would read Gingerbread Friends and The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett and then Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup. We would sip our hot chocolate and munch on some gingerbread cookies. Nope, not happening. The draw of the icing and gumdrops was greater than the desire to listen to favorites books! And so, we commenced the gingerbread house-making! I worked very hard at squeezing the frosting out of the tube and they worked very hard at following me and eating it, one finger lick at a time!
The main eventIt was a lovely little party. Mina’s friends Addie, Audrey, and Ella joined us. Mina had separated all the candy into individual little cups before everyone arrived and she was the perfect hostess, asking if anyone wanted hot chocolate. If they said yes, she would run through the store to the back kitchen to make it!
Audrey clearly had lots of experience with gingerbread houses. She gave me excellent directions on how and where to put the frosting. And she had the great idea of putting some frosting along the outer edge of the house. The girls had so much fun putting the candy on the house and moving all around to make sure each side was evenly decorated. I am surprised we had candy to put ON the house with everyone eating mouthfuls of gumdrops!

The gingerbread house

The gingerbread house

Once the gingerbread house was done, it was onto phase 2: the take-home felt gingerbread house project. The whole point of doing the real gingerbread house at the bookstore was because I wanted the girls to have the experience of making a gingerbread house, but not have the tempting candy actually RESIDE in their own house. Their take-home project needed to be fun, but not full of sugar.

One night, I had this idea of making a felt gingerbread house. I worked it all out in my head and hoped for the best. It worked out really well, except for the glue dots. I went back and forth about how to adhere the brown felt house shape to the milk container form: should I use Elmer’s white glue and then have them wait until it dries? Do I bring in my hot glue gun? Then I noticed that I had a box of extra strength glue dots in my craft box. Maybe they would work, or work well enough to play with for a little while. Well, they were OK. They didn’t stick well at all, but it was enough to keep the shape together until they got home.The felt gingerbread houses
They all LOVED the project. It was so nice to see them really get into decorating their felt houses with the cutout shapes. Ella really went to town decorating her house and they all concentrated very hard on which shape to put where on their own felt gingerbread houses.

Finally, stories came at the very end. Sara, Ella’s mom, sat down with Ella to read some books while I cleaned up and soon she had the crowd all around and on each knee listening.

We hope to see you at next month’s workshop Friday, January 8, at 4 p.m. We will be making sock puppets and reading Sandra Boynton’s One Shoe Blues book.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!