Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay, New York

I like every season for different reasons. One of my favorite things about spring and summer is the abundance of gorgeous gardens. I’ve been stopping to smell the roses…and the lilacs and lilies and hyacinths and hydrangeas. This past Mother’s Day was spent at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York which is on Long Island. After that, we stopped at a nursery to buy flowers. Outside on a sunny day absorbing vivid colors and sweet scents? Lovely!

Show-n-Tell Ceramics, 2021

Hon, just like my manuscripts, some ceramics pieces were practice, some were thrown away, and some will be polished and glazed another time. But, I’m happy with these small vases and bowls. I especially like the carving on the vases and the throwing lines on one of the bowls.

Wishing me and you places to go in our minds, practice and work where creativity keeps us in the moment and allows anxiety and self-doubt to disappear into the background.

Passover Fudge Bombs Recipe

Passover, like Thanksgiving, is a lots-of-cooking holiday. Figuring out what to cook for dinners for eight days is one topic of conversation. Next topic? Desserts! Shout out to Marci Charm for sharing her easy recipe for Fudge Bombs, and shout out to Just a Pinch Recipes for further recipe info. These meringue-ish cookies live up to their name. They’re super chocolatey and, according to my kids, even better when heated up for a few seconds in the microwave.

Happy baking, hon.

Passover Fudge Bombs

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar (can be omitted)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (only egg whites are needed for this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and salt.
  3. Add approx. 2/3 of the egg whites, stir, and add remaining egg whites. Mix until combined and batter is thick and glossy. It takes a bit of stirring before the batter gets to the correct consistency.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto 2 parchment lined cookie sheets, about 5 cookies per sheet. Leave plenty of room between cookies, as they spread while baking.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until tops look slightly cracked. Let cookies cool COMPLETELY on baking sheet and do not move them. When cool, transfer to airtight container for 3 days, or freeze.

Jens Jakobsen Creates Enchanting Gardens

Image source: London Stuff.
Jens Jakobsen at Ian Stuarts’ bridal boutique in London. Image source: Follow that Bug.

Last year, when Hubby and I traveled to London, we came across the most interesting garden. Jens Jakobsen’s floral construction utilized foliage and branches in ways I’d never seen. On his website, Jakobsen says, “Flowers are a never ending story, filled with all the emotions; joy, happiness and sorrow. I am truly alive when amongst nature, the very presence of flowers is enough to inspire me.”

Jakobsen created a garden that adorned bridal designer Ian Stuart’s beautiful boutique located in Blewcoat, a historic school built in 1709. It was inspirational and enchanting.

Click here to see more of Jakobsen’s designs. Hon, we all need a dose of enchantment right about now.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Mini Torahs for Simchat Torah

Chag Sameach! (Happy Holiday)

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah) marks the end of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings and the beginning of the new cycle. It is a joyous holiday that celebrates the Jewish love of Torah and study. Simchat Torah is celebrated by taking all the Torah scrolls out of the ark in synagogue and spending the evening dancing, singing, and rejoicing.” (https://toriavey.com/what-is-simchat-torah/)

The 2 year-olds in my preschool class made their own mini Torahs and flags. For the flags, they decorated paper with stickers and then glued the paper onto popsicle sticks. For the Torahs, they finger-painted thin strips of paper. After the paint dried, I hot-glued each end to wrapping paper rolls cut into small tubes. The ends were rolled up and their Torahs were closed with pipe cleaners. They loved waving their flags and showing off their Torahs to the cantor, rabbi and other classes. Fun!

Wrapping paper tubes were cut into 3 inch pieces.
After finger-painting thin strips of finger-paint paper, I hot-glued each end to the small tubes.
Each end of the mini Torahs was rolled toward the center and held together with a pipe cleaner.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts & Recipes: Gluten-Free Mandarin & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not Cardboard!

I’ve found a gluten-free cookie recipe which yields cookies that don’t taste like cardboard. Hallelujah! I’m not a fan of several recipes from Gluten Free Baking by  Michael McCamley,  but I liked this one. The cookies have an all-over chocolate taste with a hint of citrus that complements the chocolate chips.

Happy baking, hon! 

Gluten-Free Mandarin & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces gluten-free semisweet dark chocolate (or gluten-free chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing (I used margarine.)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 cups gluten-free, wheat-free all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 Tablespoon gluten-free unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
  • juice of 1/2 mandarin orange
  • zest of 2 mandarin oranges

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Break or chop chocolate into small chunks and set aside one-quarter of the chunks to top the cookies. (I used chocolate chips so I didn’t break anything up.)
  3. Cream together the sugars and butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg. Add flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda, chocolate chunks, and the orange juice and zest.
  4. Bring the mixture together by hand, forming a ball, and invert onto a floured surface. Divide into 8-10 circles, using about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough per ball. Tip: The mixture is dry and messy, so I add small amounts of warm water until the batter is mixable. Then, grease hands with vegetable oil, combine ingredients, and pinch out batter to make individual cookies.
  5. Place circles on baking sheet, allowing space in between for each cookie to spread. Flatten each cookie slightly and sprinkle with reserved chocolate chunks or chips.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until just firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool o a wire rack.

Yield:  10 cookies

Kid Lit Author Theresa Julian Walks Into a Bar…and Tells Us How to Write Humor. There will be a give-away!

Theresa Julian knows how to make you laugh! Even better, she can teach it to kids. This is going to be a great holiday gift to some nieces and nephews. So excited to to re-blog a post about one of my critique partner’s debut book.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

The Joke Machine: A Creative Writing Tool That’s Disguised as a Joke Book by Theresa Julian

So, two guys walk into a bar…

Wait, that’s not how I meant to start. I meant to start by telling you that I’m the author of The Joke Machine, a new non-fiction book that teaches middle graders how to create their own jokes and become funnier. I’m nervous because my spellcheck mysteriously switched into Hungarian and I can’t tell if words are misspelled.

The Joke Machine: Create Your Own Jokes and Become Instantly Funny! by [Julian, Theresa]Spelling words wrong is something I do knot want to do. I know the importance of proper spelling, it’s something my feather taught me. If I mix up even two letters, this whole post is urined.

Now you’re probably wondering, is she kidding about the spellchecker? The urined post? And most importantly, what happened to the guys who walked into a bar? Well, the answers are yes, yes, and…

View original post 711 more words

NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 Test of Orion

I have amazing news!

No, I don’t have representation (yet), but guess what hon? I’m practically jumping-out-of-my-skin-excited that I’ll be riding on the coattails of my teenage daughter and chaperoning a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in FL to see the launch of NASA’s Orion Ascent Abort-2!

My daughter’s high school class Space Exploration class had a challenge–to create an APP simulating the experience of the launch of the Orion Ascent Abort-2 space capsule system. NASA chose her team’s APP (and another team from Tulsa) and are invited to see the actual test flight in Florida! All expenses paid!

From the NASA Students FB page: Congratulations to teams from Riverfield Country Day School in Tulsa and Millburn High School in New Jersey! Your entries in the #AA2App Development Challenge rocketed above the competition! You did a great job of visualizing the Orion Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test, an important early step on our #Moon2024 mission. We’ll see you soon at Kennedy Space Center!”