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What we’re doing this summer: Oobleck

18 Jul
Not your typical summer recipe.

Not your typical summer recipe.

Hello summer, how are you?

I love summer. I love having everyone home, having no specific daily schedule most days, taking some time off, and having much less stress, overall.

It’s not that we’re not busy, it’s just a nicer pace. After the hectic school year, we enjoy the slower pace of the summer. It’s often a balancing act, balancing our work schedules over the summer with family and vacation time, but it works well for us. Since I am self-employed, I only get paid if I work, so I always make sure that I work much harder during the school year so that I can take some time off in the summertime and enjoy my kids while I have them home. I know that those days are fleeting, and the time is going fast.

Sometimes in the summer the kids, like lots of families we know, will make Bucket Lists: things they want to do over the summer. I always remind them that their lists are simply wish lists, things they hope to do, but won’t necessarily get to do. What I like about the lists is it gives us a starting point when we’re looking for fun things to do with them to make their time off more memorable. I have my own mental list of things I’d like to do with them, but I don’t tell them what they are. I like to keep some things unexpected and different.

Orange flavoring added a new element to the science experiment, something I had never thought of before.

Orange flavoring added a new element to the science experiment, something I had never thought of before.

My kids, like many other kids their age, follow a lot of YouTubers. They learn all kinds of life hacks, tricks, hairstyles, DIY projects, STEM ideas, crafts and more by watching these YouTubers. One thing they’d been asking me to do for weeks was to make Oobleck. I’d done Oobleck years ago when I hosted a Family Science Night as a teacher, but I had not done it in years. I remembered the basic premise of it and remembered how cool it was to make, but during the school year the thought of it was too much for me to handle. I told the kids to save it for summertime.

And so, it went onto the Bucket List.

Last week I got the question again, “Can we make Oobleck today?” I finally said yes. The thing about having older kids is that you don’t have to oversee every little project. This “recipe” had just two ingredients: cornstarch and water. As an added twist, the kids had seen that you could add food coloring to make it a unique color, which I’d done before, and flavoring such as mint, vanilla or orange extract for example, to add a scent, which I’d never heard of before. We had a few choices, and they went with orange extract and purple food coloring.

Within minutes we had a lot of cornstarch on the counter, but overall not that much of a mess, thankfully. The kids had done the whole thing themselves, and they were mesmerized looking at and playing with their Oobleck. It was neat to watch it liquify and solidify as they played with it. I managed to wrangle it into zippered closed bags for them so they could do some more observing for a couple more days before it eventually went into the trash. I noticed a purple tint to my wet paper towels and wipes as I wiped up my counter the next few times, but overall, we survived the science experiment unscathed.

It was a fun, easy, relatively quick activity and it was a little bit educational too, different than some of the typical summer activities we do. I liked that this item on their list was something they had found and wanted to learn about and create on their own, rather than something I thought of and carried out for them. And, I liked being able to check one thing off their list. They enjoy making the lists, but they enjoy crossing things off just as much.

For more information about Oobleck, you can do your own search and check out the many available instructions and options, or go here for starters.

Have fun!

Keeping your Oobleck contained and (out of the bedrooms) is key.

Keeping your Oobleck contained and (out of the bedrooms) is key.

New recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole from Skinny Mom and Sue

27 Jun
A new recipe for us!

A new recipe for us!

Well here it is, the last week of June!

Hooray!!! We made it to summer vacation! I will admit, there were days and nights I didn’t think it would ever, ever, EVER get here, and the final month of the school year was absolutely brutal to get through, but we did it. We have a newly minted junior in high school, an eighth grader, and a sixth grader, and we will finally be back in just two schools again next year, rather than the three from this year.

To help us make it through the year, we relied on many of our tried and true recipes, but there were also a couple of new ones thrown in there every so often. This is one I have been wanting to post for some time now, but I just never had a chance to get on and do it.

I’ve mentioned my friend Sue on this blog a few times already. You can read about Sue, her kindness, generosity and her fabulous recipes here and here.  Sue has this wonderful habit of texting me to let me know that she’s left me a treat in her milkbox. It might be a bag of the snacks I linked to just now, or it might be cookies, or a book, or in one case, a container of a new recipe she had tried out. The recipe was for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole and it was from the blog Skinny Mom. You can view the recipe here.

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

As soon as I tried Sue’s casserole (which was gluten free and low fat, perfect for our family’s needs) I knew I had to add it to one of our two week menu plans. Sue had made some adjustments of her own, adding in mushrooms, using the sauce she likes, and things like that, and I opted to do the same thing. We added in mushrooms and olives, used a sauce we liked, and I even decided to double the recipe, thinking we’d then have it leftover for another night’s meal.

I cooked this recipe in my new Pampered Chef stir fry pan, and as I did, I quickly realized that not only would I have enough leftover for another meal that week, but I actually had enough for two full casseroles: one for that week with leftovers and one to bag up into a large-sized ziploc freezer bag and freeze for a future night. It would just need to be thawed out and baked with cheese on top.

I also tried out a new gluten-free biscuit mix which we flavored with a garlic powder and butter topping, and that went over well too. All in all, I had a new, delicious meal and I had enough for a whole second meal as well. It was a win-win for us. I would most definitely make this meal again in the future. Anyone who loves stuffed peppers or even American Chopped Suey, would love this recipe too! I encourage you to try it, and I thank Sue for sharing it with me!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!




I thought everyone in the whole world was nice.

8 Jun

dandelion-925721_960_720I’ll never forget those words out of my daughter when she was young.

I don’t remember the conversation we were having, but it had something to do with protecting oneself against some sort of evil. Might have been stranger danger, might have been something else. I don’t know.

All I know is that I will never forget her reaction: her small, questioning voice and her confusion as we stripped away a small layer of her innocence, never to be replaced. She was now aware that no, not everyone in the world is nice.

We are raising girls here at our house. We are raising women. We are working hard to make them savvy, to make them strong, to keep them safe, to make sure they know they are loved and respected, to make them loving and respectful to others, to keep them honest.

Not necessarily in that order, and I’m sure I may have missed a few thousand things on my forever-long list of things we must do when raising them.

It’s exhausting. Some days are so hard. Some days I look at the world they’re in and I just don’t even know how we can do it any more. I look at what we’re up against and I am exhausted. I feel as if we’re swimming upstream, against the tide.

This week was one of those weeks.

I’m sure that by now, you’ve all read about the newly convicted rapist Brock Turner, a former Standford University young man who had been drinking alcohol, and then brutally raped a young, unconscious woman who had also been drinking alcohol, behind a dumpster until he was caught by two individuals who just happened to be passing by. He tried to run from his crime, the unconscious woman left behind in an instant, victimized, brutalized and still unknowing; but thankfully he was caught by those who had seen him, two heroes.

He was convicted on three felony charges of sexual abuse and thanks to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky’s ruling, Brock Turner will serve just six months in jail for his crime, even less if he behaves well while in jail. He will be put on probation and must register as a sex offender. The maximum time allowed by law was 14 years.

Six months. Approximately 180 days in county jail for him, or maybe just 90 days if he’s a good boy, while he was able to deliver a life’s sentence to a woman he didn’t even know.

That young woman could’ve been my daughter.

Any one of them.

That young woman shared a more than 7,000 word statement with her attacker in court at the time of his conviction about how his brutal attack had affected her life in the days since. Clearly, she can’t put into words yet how it will affect her life forever, because she has no idea.

I have no idea.

But I can imagine, although, I don’t want to.

The life sentence Brock Turner has bestowed upon his rape victim is approximately 25,550 days long, if she lives for 70 more years.

In her statement which I couldn’t even read in its entirety at first, there is one part that I can’t get out of my head. Well, truthfully, there are about 7,200 parts that I can’t get out of my head. But this one part, the part where she realizes that the details of the attack were made public in a news story (the story she read which gave her the intimate details she previously hadn’t known about her own attack) and that she had to tell her parents. She wrote about sitting them down, about having to tell them that she had been attacked and raped, and not to read the news stories, that they were awful. Trying to stand up, her parents having to hold her when she could no longer stand as she recounted her experience as she now knew it.

That, next to actually being attacked myself, is the stuff my nightmares are made of. Hearing those words come out of my child’s mouth, I can’t even imagine the anguish that family has had to go through. As a parent, you try so hard to protect your children, to teach them to protect themselves, to make good choices, to stay safe, to treat others kindly, to do unto others as they’d like done unto them.

To hear that your child has been attacked, brutalized, victimized, left for dead in a rape-and-run crime, violated, forever changed, wounded and damaged. That might be some of the hardest, most devastating news to receive as a parent, in my personal opinion.

I can’t get it out of my head.

But the story, like any story, has even more ugly twists and turns.

There’s the actual crime itself, which alone is violent and sickening. There is the male judge’s lenient sentence for a brutal rapist, and his statement in court that he feared for the impact on this young man’s life if he had issued a stronger sentence. He didn’t mention fearing for the impact this crime would have on Brock Turner’s female victim. There is the news report about the crime that included the fact that the boy was a champion swimmer, once having had Olympic dreams, now dashed. It didn’t seem to mention the dreams of the rape victim in the report. There is the picture of Brock Turner that was first shared all over the internet, a pretty, blond athletic-looking boy in a nice navy blue suit with a button up shirt and tie.

Where was the mug shot we’d normally see plastered all over the internet?

I wondered.

And then, the icing on the cake: Brock Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, and his written statement of how this crime that his son committed, his non-violent “20 minutes of action” over 20 years time, has affected his son’s days, his son’s appetite and prior love for a good steak, his zest for life, and all of this in his opinion, is just so unnecessarily so.

He hardly did anything at all, apparently.

That’s when I feel like slumping down the wall that’s holding me up on our uphill climb, raising girls in today’s world.


This is what we’re up against, this is what our girls are up against. This is when I feel like we haven’t come very far as a society at all in our fight for women and their rights. We’re up against a world where men brutally attack and rape unconscious women, leave them for dead, get a light punishment, and have people feeling badly that their appetite has diminished in the days since  devastatingly attacking a woman and, in essence, her family, setting them off into a nightmare for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes I feel like our society is so broken, so beyond repair, especially when I see stories like this. I fear for my daughters and their lives all over again, no matter which daughter, no matter how old. I fear for a day when one of them sits me down and delivers this news.

Now I know you can’t live in fear. I know that you can’t slump down the wall and stay there, and you have to keep on keeping on. But some weeks it’s just harder than others.

Last summer some of my girls and I took a walk one night, something we all do all the time when the weather is nice. As we walked, we came across a car parked in front of a home in the neighborhood. The car had out-of-state plates from a nearby state, and the driver was sleeping in the front seat with the windows open. We thought it odd, but the house seemed dark and we assumed when we walked by that the driver had arrived early from out of state, no one was home at the home she was visiting, and she fell asleep waiting for them to return. It was only early evening, still daylight.

On our way back from our walk, we noticed the young woman was still there. Still sleeping. The house was still dark. I peeked in through the open car window, and only noticed a cell phone in her hand. No evidence of drugs or alcohol, but something was definitely not right.

A neighbor called 911 while I called my husband to walk over too. We stayed close by. We were worried, the girls and I, as we waited for emergency personnel to arrive. We did the right thing, we were later told. Whatever was wrong with her, she needed medical attention. It could have been absolutely anything from a drug overdose, to a diabetic induced shock, to being dehydrated or being drunk. The house she was in front of was random. She did not know them. How she got there, why she was there, we’ll never know.

What we didn’t do though, was beat her, rob her, kill her, drag her out of her car through the open window, drag her behind the house, or behind a dumpster. My husband didn’t arrive and brutally rape her, just because she was unconscious. Her being unconscious didn’t mean we got to victimize her in any way. One did not beget the other.

We helped her. We believe we saved her life. We did for her what we hope someone would do for one of our girls if they were in that situation. We only wish we’d done it sooner, on the way there, rather than on the way back from our walk.

How I wish for Brock Turner’s victim and her family, her parents and her younger sister, that he had made a different choice other than the one he did, but even more so, how I wish that the male judge hadn’t minimized what happened to this young woman, how I wish he hadn’t favored a former male champion swimmer’s life and experiences over the victim’s life and experiences. How I wish Brock Turner’s father, Dan Turner, hadn’t raised Brock to believe that getting “20 minutes of action” was a thing, hadn’t raised him to believe that raping an unconscious woman was a non-violent action,  and hadn’t raised him to believe that his love of a good steak or loss of a swimming scholarship should be valued more than his respect for another human being’s body and life.

I wish and I hope and I pray that everyone would treat women, their bodies and their lives with respect, so that my girls, my future and fellow women, will have a safer world to live in than the one they live in today, because unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Not everyone in the whole world is nice.


What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Salad with a Twist

25 May
Doesn't it look delicious?

Doesn’t it look delicious?

It’s been a little while since I have posted a new recipe and I’ve been wanting to share this one since last month when we first tried it. The recipe is one that one of my daughters found on the back of a Whole Grain Wheat Reduced Fat Triscuit box. Our family loves these Triscuits and we keep them on hand regularly, so once we saw this recipe, we continued to see it on every box of Triscuits we bought. Each time we’d buy a new box, my daughter would say, “Mom, we have to make this!”

Finally over the school break in April, I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients, and we finally made it. I truly enjoy cooking with fresh veggies and it makes me so excited for summertime, when we have our own garden. Tomatoes are a favorite of almost everyone here, and we especially love the more unusually colored varieties along with the typical reds. This time around I bought a large container that had a mixture of several types of tomatoes in it, and it made for such a beautiful salad.

Since one of the girls eats a gluten free diet, I chose to make hers separately with no Triscuits and no red onions, since she doesn’t like those either. Tomatoes are one of her favorite snacks though, so she was just as excited as everyone else for this new recipe.

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we'd be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we’d be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

This was a simple recipe to follow. It is called a Panzanella Salad, but it’s very much like our usual Caprese salads, just with a bit of a twist, provided by the added Triscuits. There is no cooking involved, just chopping, slicing, dicing and assembling, so the preparation was quick. We just had to keep stopping ourselves from snacking as I was prepping.

While I cut up the tomatoes and the cheese, I had my daughter prep the Triscuits, counting out the amount the recipe asked for, and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. That was definitely a “one for me, one for the bowl” activity as well.

We served this with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, and it was the perfect side dish. It’s going to make a great addition to our sides for this upcoming summer. We loved the added crunch to the salad that the Triscuits provided, and my younger daughter enjoyed her gluten free version just as much as we enjoyed ours.

Here is the recipe according to the Triscuit box:


  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 18 Triscuit Reduced Fat Crackers, coarsely broken
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper



Combine  first 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Mix  dressing and garlic until blended.

Add to cracker mixture; mix lightly. Let stand 30 min.

Tear  basil into small pieces. Add to tomato mixture along with the pepper; mix lightly.


Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!




Cave Tools BBQ Brush Review

25 Mar
Look at the difference between our old brush and the new Cave Tools Brush!

Look at the difference between our old brush and the new Cave Tools Brush!

Yesterday was the first day of spring, and being New England, we had snow today. There is a funny saying here that is, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes and it’ll change,” and it’s so true. That said, yesterday was nice enough out to cook on the grill, while today, it’s a completely different world outside.

Luckily we had the day yesterday to marinate a London Broil and cook it on the grill for dinner. Our grill is super old. We’ve had for more than a decade, almost two, since we moved into our house. Parts and piece of it have been replaced through the years, but the old bones of it are the same. We tend to be the type of people where if something’s not broken, we don’t fix it, and so as long as our grill is in good working order, we’re still using it.

That said, we’ve gone through many grilling tools throughout the years. We’ve bought some, received some as gifts, and they’ve come and gone, not really anything too noteworthy, over the life of the grill.

Recently however, we were given the opportunity to try out the new Cave Tools BBQ brush, in exchange for an honest review of the product. Given how much we’ve loved all of the Cave Tools products so far, I jumped at the chance to give this brush a try. If it could clean our old grill, it could clean anything! The brush we had been using for a while was on its way out, but we still had it, and when you put one next to the other, you can see that there is just comparison in the quality of the two.

Looking at the newly cleaned right side of the grill versus the uncleaned left side, you can see what an amazing job the BBQ brush did!

Looking at the newly cleaned right side of the grill versus the uncleaned left side, you can see what an amazing job the BBQ brush did!

When I read the features of the brush on the Cave Tools website, I liked what I saw. It’s 100% rust proof, it’s got a heavy duty strength clip which holds together three brushes which allows for maximum cleaning power on all types of grill grates. The stainless steel bristles wrap all the way around in order to achieve better cleaning angles and longer lasting durability. It’s even safe for porcelain. When my husband used the brush to clean our grill, he said that there was a 100% difference between using the old brush and the Cave Tools Brush, and the ability for the bristles to wrap around the grates made all the difference in the world.

My favorite thing of all though, is when a company stands behind its products, and I really loved that Cave Tools provides a Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee for the brush. To me, having that peace of mind is priceless.

You can check out the Cave Tools BBQ brush on the website here, or on here. If you choose to order the Cave Tools BBQ brush from Amazon, you can use this coupon code to receive 15% off: V9BW7SDN.

All clean and ready for spring!

All clean and ready for spring!


Happy Birthday Don and Alexandra!

23 Mar

So what’s the best birthday gift *you* ever gave someone?


Today is a very special day.

Today is Alexandra’s birthday.

Today is also Don’s birthday.

That makes me the best wife ever because seven years ago for Don’s birthday at 1:22 am I gave him our third daughter.

I know, I know, best gift ever, right?! It’s hard to top that one though, so I don’t really try. I’m back to t-shirts, pajama pants and stuff like that for his birthday gifts.

Alexandra’s First Birthday 2006

Since sharing his birthday with his daughter, Don has been blessed with getting to have a Snoopy party, a My Little Pony party, a Dora party, a Purple party and this year…Hello Kitty. Technically they’re not his parties obviously, but you see what I mean.

Birthday crowns all around on Alex’s second birthday.

Thankfully, my parents have this neat tradition that they started with us where we celebrate the adult birthday parties at their house each year and we “kids” get to choose our meal and our cake. I choose….well I won’t tell you what I choose until it’s my birthday this summer. But Don chooses a totally opposite type of meal and cake than I would choose, so I guess it’s good that we each get a chance to choose our own, to choose what we like. Don chooses meatball sandwiches (made with my mom’s homemade meatballs and gravy) with lemon cake for dessert. It’s probably the only time all year we have it and he really enjoys it.

Therefore, today I thought I’d share with you the recipe for Don’s birthday cake of choice each year, the lemon cake. It’s really yummy, I particularly love the corners.



A cake *just* for Daddy!


1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water

2 beaten eggs

Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix

1 can lemon pie filling (divided)


In bowl by hand, mix together oil, water, eggs, cake mix.

Add 1/4 can of lemon pie filling into the mix.

Put into greased 9×13 dish.

On top, distribute the rest of the pie filling.

Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cool, glaze with:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Add a little hot water if necessary.

In honor of Pi Day: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

13 Mar
Life-changing, indeed!

Life-changing, indeed!


March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day!

No, silly, not PIE day, PI Day!!

You know,”Pi: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, approximately 3.14159, an infinite number which has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.” (For more information like this about Pi, Pi Day and related celebrations, click on the link above!)

Pi Day also falls on the same day as Albert Einstein’s birthday. How great is that?!

Pi Day does have some similar qualities to Pie Day though (and if there isn’t actually a Pie Day, there should be), in that many people like to encourage the eating of pie of any kind to help with the celebrating of the mathematical concept!

To that end, my oldest daughter’s Algebra class will be celebrating Pi Day tomorrow with some sweet treats during class, so I said I’d send in a pie for them to use as part of their Pi Party. I had a single crust in the freezer and just enough ingredients to make the newest pie that I’ve fallen in love with this winter: a chocolate chip cookie pie.

This pie recipe was sent to me by a friend during the first blizzard we had in January as one of 23 different Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes to try out. The list claims to be a life-changing experience. If this pie recipe is any indication, I’d say they’re right!

This is a really quick pie to put together. Few ingredients, few steps. You don’t need to pre-bake your crust and the cook time is about an hour give or take, depending on your oven. The recipe is found on the Love from the Oven blog, and she has credited the original recipe to Nestle.

Obviously I did not make the Pi Day pie and then eat it myself, so my photos here are from the second blizzard of 2015, when I made this pie for dessert one night. It was a keeper for sure, and that’s the only sad thing about sending away a pie for Pi Day….we got to smell it baking, but didn’t get to eat it!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie Recipe from Nestle
Preheat oven to 325

1 unbaked pie crust, homemade or store bought
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)


Beat eggs in a large mixer until foamy.

Now add in flour and sugars. Beat until well blended. Beat in the softened butter.

Stir in your chocolate chips and nuts.

Stir and pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake at 325 for  50-55 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (optional).


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