A January Day of Making, day 2

For the fresh pasta-making, Cheryl had us make a well of flour and crack and egg into it. I wish I’d gotten a photo of Kavi’s perfect egg sitting cracked in the well, but I was busy trying to corral my egg that escaped its well and slithered across the counter at warp speed.

I have to say, it’s more fun photographing cooking classes than writing classes. No offense, writers! You’re all lovely. 🙂 Cheryl Knecht Muñoz took exactly 1.5 hrs (I was impressed with her timing), to teach seven of us to make a vegetable ragout and fresh pasta, which we then ate and took home. This is a ‘clean-out-the-fridge’ sort of ragout, tasty and healthy, esp. if you use lots of fresh herbs.

I’ve never used a pasta machine before — it was fun! Felt sort of like magic, seeing how Cheryl sending a few passes through the machine made it so long and thin. And then we made ribbons!

There’s lots of laughter in cooking class. Though one thing Cheryl and I talked about, that was interesting, was the difference between a ‘demo’ class, which is the kind of thing you go to with your girlfriends to drink wine and have fun, and a ‘hands-on’ class, where the instructor is trying to teach people to actually cook.

I admit, I’ve gotten a little frustrated teaching cooking class when I thought I was teaching the latter, and it turned out people wanted the former; maybe the solution is to just be as clear as we can be in our descriptions, and use the demo / hands-on language throughout? Also, maybe I should only serve mimosas at the demo classes — alcohol and sharp knives don’t mix that well anyway…

It’s a little magic, how Cheryl can make flour and egg and a bit of water, plus the leftover veggies from the fridge, turn into happy food for happy bellies. Well, and cheese. Must have cheese.

Instructor Cheryl Knecht Muñoz, with two of her students! 

While our classes are geared towards adults primarily, we leave it to the instructors’ discretion to decide whether they’re okay with letting kids participate. This class was 5 adults and 2 kids (with their parents).

Oh, I almost forgot — Josh Siegel was kindly photographing the class for us, but paused us in our can opening to show us the way this can opener is designed to be used, with the blade cutting from the side. MIND. BLOWN. I’m going to have to try it next time I open a can, though I admit, I’m a little nervous.

A January Day of Making, Day 1

January Day of Making starting strong for Maram; I don’t want to intrude on them, but there’s a lively discussion happening in my dining room, with Alec Nevala-Lee teaching Writing Science Fiction that Sells (focus on plot). I am v. impressed with the writers who are dedicated enough to come out for a 9 a.m. Saturday workshop, when it’s only 6 degrees F outside. That’s some writerly passion right there!

(Note also that Ellie appears totally able to nap straight through a writing workshop.)

Maram makerspace programming workshop — v. simple programming, where you enter some questions and answer into a spreadsheet (Kev tried to come up with ones Anand would find funny), upload them, and then Google Home will let you and anyone on your network play the trivia game. Kamal Jackson did a great job talking his students through it.

And yet, even though this programming was super-simple, I think teaching this kind of workshop is particularly challenging — little mistakes the students make often take the teacher’s attention to fix, and it’s hard to scale up.

I used to teach basic HTML in tech writing classes, way back in the long ago, so people could build basic web pages. I remember spending much of the second half of the class running around from student to student, fixing things, while the rest of them had to deal with a bunch of dead time. It got better as the class progressed, and more of them became able to assist their classmates, but still.

There are probably ways to deal with this issue? It doesn’t come up the same way in writing classes!

One of the nice things about having these early workshops at my house is that it’s easy to invite the instructors to bring their kids along as needed. We offered TV, and there was some MagnaTiling, but then Kavi pulled out the long-neglected rainbow loom, and it turned into an impromptu makerspace workshop on looming bracelets. Making brings joy, and unexpected workshops.

Does that mean I’m supposed to pay her an instructor fee now? 🙂 (Actually, I think the youngest girl already knew as much as Kavi did…)

Workshop tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the makerspace workshop and all I want to do is experiment with tasty foodstuffs to put out for people to nibble in between writing great SF, learning to code, cooking fresh pasta, etc.

I was going to go make some more shortbread for Valentine’s Day sale — honeyed pistachio, rosewater, and lime, and passionfruit-ginger — and if I made them now, I could put some out tomorrow and freeze the rest until the sale.

I had an idea for cherry marshmallows dipped in chocolate and dusted with dehydrated cherries. I want to do another batch of passionfruit marshmallows, just ’cause I love them so. I still want to experiment with another try at vegan marshmallows, this time using actual marshmallow root.

But I don’t actually HAVE to cook — I already picked up cheese and fruit and prosciutto and juice and prosecco, plus of course we have masses of tea and coffee and hot chocolate, so there’s really plenty to put out for snacks.

What I am actually going to do is turn off FB and go deal with my e-mail. Maybe some cooking play this evening, though, if I am good.

Sale for January Day of Making

SALE: We’re delighted to note that we’re able to offer a 20% discount on this Saturday’s non-profit makerspace workshops! Just $40 each now! 
Register here

Join us to learn how to:


– write science fiction that sells
– make fresh pasta and vegetable ragout (and take some home with you)
– program in Google Home (no programming experience necessary!)
– upcycle found items into jewelry
– creatively and beautifully mend
– participate in inspiring community conversations

Light refreshments will be available all day, and if you’d like, you can even join us for dinner (either brown bag it, or just $8 for soup and sandwiches). Join us, and make something fabulous!

Just five days until a festival of making!!

Oak Parker area folks, just five days until a festival of making! Write SF that sells! Cook fresh pasta (and take some home too)! Code something! (Beginners welcome!) Make jewelry and textiles art! Learn how to have productive community conversations!

See all my exclamation points?! I am excite!

(If you are planning to register, please do so soon, as it will make my life so much happier if we know that all the classes have enough registration to go. Also they might fill up! If you register for 3 classes, you get a 4th one free! (Which admittedly, I’m not sure how to do in the system, but I will figure it out if someone wants to do it! Or I’ll give you the cash back when you arrive on Saturday….)

Thank you party for Makerspace!

We had a little thank-you party for the people who worked on the maker space project last fall — my first actual cocktail party, I think! It was really silly fun, putting gummy bears on toothpicks, sugaring cranberries, etc.

It’s been so great working with these folks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where we take things. (Pictured first: Kurt and Gayle Hedlund (engineer and gardener), Pamela Penney (textile artist), Alix Mikesell(jeweler). Pam Whitehead (my favorite general contractor, who’s been advising on the project), just visible in the background. Then last photo, Teri Blain — Teri, I need a short descriptor for you, because ‘woman who does everything’ doesn’t really fit in this sort of thing. 🙂 )

We’re waiting on the Big Idea grant proposal now, to see if we made the finalists (it’ll be a few weeks before we know), and I’m setting up a workshop for the end of January — purpose-building circles, fresh pasta-making, up-cycle jewelry-making, and more! Locals, you should let me know if you want to be on the mailing list. I should make FB page too. Things to do…

Creativity Retreat This Sunday!

At my house in Oak Park, the kids will mostly be upstairs, we have a small and gentle dog, and some steps up to the front door.

Morning session (continental breakfast provided, $15):
8 – 8:30: meet and greet
8:30- 12:00 quiet work time

12 – 1: Sri Lankan lunch, talking allowed ($15)

Afternoon session (snacks provided, $15):
1 – 4:30: quiet work time

If interested, comment below! Capped at 8 people, and I have 1 registered already. A portion of proceeds will go to the Makerspace project!

Maram Makerspace Updates

BIG IDEA: The big thing is that we did submit the Big Idea Grant on time! Big thanks to everyone who worked on it, especially Laura, Pam W., and Carollina — Carollina took over from me when I left the country on the 23rd and made sure a beautiful clean copy was submitted. We should hear back in a month or so on whether we made the finals. We’ll start the process of applying for other grants soon, but there are a few other things to do first. If you’re interested in being on the Grants Committee, please let me know — I’d like to have 3-4 people working on those on an ongoing basis.

WINTER PLANNING MEETINGS: I think we’d said Tuesday evening was a good time for core people to meet — if that’s right, then next Tuesday, 1/15, would work for me. 6-8 p.m., and I’ll have a simple dinner of some kind here, probably soup, salad, and sandwiches. (Let me know if you have dietary restrictions, please.) Please RSVP if you plan to be here so I can be sure to have enough food. Carollina had also offered to host a meeting, so perhaps we can do the February one at her place? Please save Feb 12 and Mar 12 in your calendars.

(If you’re not already on our core planning board or advisory board, but think you might want to get more involved, please let me know — I’d love to have you come to a meeting and talk about it more. We’re going to try to keep the process as open and transparent as possible.)

JANUARY WORKSHOP: I’m a little behind my own schedule on this, but I think there’s still enough time to put this together for the last weekend in January and publicize it. I’ve found some free scheduling software that I think will be a big help in getting us a clean professional look. I’ll be working on this either later today or tomorrow, so expect more soon. I’m also adding a small creativity retreat this Sunday at my place, with a portion of funds going to the makerspace. Will send details on all of those soon, once I’ve confirmed with all the teachers, basically.

If you’re interested in being on the Programming Committee, please let me know — I’d like to have 3-4 people working on those on an ongoing basis.

 I’d also LOVE to have a few people on Webmaster duty; if you’re familiar with WordPress and can help out with that, let me know. (I can also train you — WordPress basics are very straightforward.)

I think that’s it for now — more soon! Please comment if you have any questions, and again, thanks for all your work so far! Part of my own homework for the month is learning how to use two new tech tools — a 3D printer and an Instapot. Will be fun!