This is one of those posts where the photos tell more of the story than the words. Because in a crowd of people, one can only observe so much. The camera, though–well, nothing escapes it. Here’s a little foreshadowing, heh heh:
The plan was conceived weeks earlier. Danielle and I were completely idea-less for birthday gifts for Brandy. She’s not really a materialistic person–she lives simply, she doesn’t have a lot of stuff… Last year I got her a gift certificate to The Studio Salon and Day Spa, which she liked, but I didn’t want to repeat that. And really, she appreciates people and experiences more than objects or possessions. I figured a group of us would go out to eat somewhere, probably get some sushi… And that’s when I thought of it–a gift that contains people + food + experience.
So I emailed Praserth at Beyond Restaurant and Lounge, and–what the heck, it was worth a shot–asked if he or one of their sushi chefs would come to my house and teach Brandy to make her favorite sushi. And to my delight and squealing excitement, he agreed! WOW!!
Danielle and I went about inviting some folks (I really only had room for about ten people for this kind of thing), all of whom very enthusiastically accepted AND showed up, and we picked up a few appetizers and such around town. All Brandy knew was that her birthday present was “happening” at my house at 5ish. A few days earlier she had somehow tricked me into playing twenty questions, and before I figured out what she was doing, I had answered like ten questions… but thankfully she still didn’t figure it out and I managed not to flake and spill the beans.
That day, Anneke and Danielle came over early to help set up. :)
Then Praserth rolled in and took over my kitchen like he makes sushi in strangers’ houses every day.
All the guests arrived including the birthday girl, and the party started. First Praserth told us what rolls we’d be making: the Dukes, New Orleans, Japanese Breakfast, California, and White Knight. Then he gave us some pointers.
1. It’s easier to roll sushi with gloves on.
2. Lube up your glove with oil so it doesn’t stick to the sticky rice.
3. Pressure is important. Apply too little pressure and the roll will fall apart; squeeze too tight and stuff will come out the end (oh lawdy).
4. When you cut the roll, dip your knife in water first. Cut til it gets stuck ( ! ), and then dip your knife again.
Wait, now I know what everyone was giggling about! Geez! Poor Praserth–in front of an audience of women+Todd Yoder.
Anyhoo, after the demo, we all got a turn, and then we got to eat what we’d made! It was sooooo much fun! :)
Around seven, Praserth was done with the lesson; we thanked him and bade him farewell. We sang “happy birthday” and ate yummy cake.
We sat around and giggled. Brandy opened her presents. Then someone broke out my copy of Cake Wrecks (if you haven’t seen this book and/or website, stop reading this and do it now) and we laughed our butts off at that for a while. Rachel Herr especially liked it because, well, she’s a baker, you know.
I also have Awkward Family Photos, which is so awkward at times it’s almost hard to laugh at it. Well, not really. We laughed pretty hard. And then we started googling “awkward” everything and anything and found all sorts of things. I highly recommend “awkward graduation photos” and “awkward pet photos.”
Ultimately, those who remained ventured downstairs to the basement where we had a pillow fight. Ha! Just kidding. But I did end up wearing my pet rabbit in a sling.
I guess the moral of the story is that you don’t have to go anywhere fancy or exotic to provide a memorable experience for someone’s birthday. You can stay right here in Harrisonburg and see what services our local businesses are willing to provide, even if it’s something they don’t usually do. Thanks again to Beyond for going above and… beyond. What a treat!!
Photo credits: Brandy Somers, Danielle Campbell, Rachel Herr, Todd Yoder. Stay tuned for more photos!!
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