Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My new email address:


I just finished setting up a new email address: Please use my new email address from now on and don't forget to update your address books!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vegan Cake-mix cookies

Mint-Cocoa Cookies

  • 1 box (allergy-free) cake mix, any flavor
  • ½ c. oil
  • 1 tbsp. Flax meal
  • 1 tbsp. egg replacer
  • 5 tbsp. warm water

Whisk the cake mix in a bowl to help "sift" it without the extra step. Add the oil, and begin to mix it in until it's too dry to stir. Add the Flax and egg replacer to the measuring cup, and add the water, stirring to combine. Stir well to avoid clumps that will ruin the cookies. Add the Flax mix to the cake mix, and stir. Fold everyone together using a strong spoon; when the dough is ready, it will form a ball in the bowl. Drop teaspoonfuls of the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets; they should be fairly round, but without overworking the dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 365 degrees; they may crackle on top, but that's fine. When they are done, set out baking racks, and slide the cookies onto the racks to cool.
FLAVORS: We use a white cake mix for sugar cookies (they would be great at Christmas with actual colored sugars), or add Vegan chocolate chips. YUM! Just be aware, the yellow cake mixes I have seen use butter or some dairy to make them yellow, so we stick to the white. We use the chocolate batter for mint-cocoa cookies, but plane is nice, too. If you like the idea of a lower-fat "Mint Thin", simply add 4-6 drops of mint flavor to the batter with the Flax/'egg' mix. Or add a little red food coloring to the white mix, some strawberry or cherry flavor, and mix away! Or just make a couple batches of red/white/blue for national holidays! The choices are endless. AND delicious!

NOTE: Do not let the mix sit for long after you add the water to the egg replacer; it is a powdered version of the chemical makeup of eggs, and once it is mixed, it begins the chemical change. Like yeast, it changes the moment you add it to liquid.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vegan Banana Bread Muffins...

Even my skeptical youngest son LOVED these.  The recipe made 17, and I think he ate a third of them!  This is my favorite Banana Bread recipe, tweaked to be delicious, AND they're dairy and egg-free, for anyone with allergies.

V Banana Bread Muffins

3 overripe bananas
¾ c. sugar (I use white an raw)
Pinch of salt

¼ c. canola oil
½ tbsp. baking powder
¾ tbsp. flaxseed meal (mixed with the water)
3 tbsp. warm water
2 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
Vanilla, cinnamon & pumpkin spice to taste (no more than ½ tbsp. vanilla)

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl, and blend in the sugar, salt and oil.  Mix the flaxseed with the water, and add to the mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add the flour and baking powder as you continue to stir, along with any spices you wish to add.  Pour into prepared muffin cups, and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean in the center of the muffins.

Keep in mind, this was my first attempt using the flaxseed to replace the egg, so I don't know how well it would work as an actual loaf.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out!  And I'd love for you to share...  why do you cook Vegan?  Is it a personal choice, or do you have allergies that match the Vegan lifestyle?  Thanks!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

And they're off!...

Hans finally got his braces removed!  YAY!  Of course he has to wear a retainer now, but they are off, and he can occasionally chew gum or have a caramel.  I'm so proud of him - how awkward and uncomfortable, and he just handled it like a champ.

So I had to get videos and stuff...

(Love to all)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cody and I took a trip together, just the two of us.  We spent a week in Cancun, and then a few days in New Orleans, while my parents were generous enough to keep the kids with them.  We went scuba diving, swimming in the infinity pool and lounging in the ocean, and a little sightseeing/shopping in Isla de Mujeres.  It was a wonderful time, and we enjoyed New Orleans as well, though - to be honest - we weren't overly impressed.  It was a nice city, with historic features; maybe living 20 minutes from downtown Philly and its' historic features (and food, events, etc.) have raised the bar for us.  But then again, Cody and I aren't into big, wild parties with tons of people we don't know - so we wouldn't enjoy Mardi Gras.  Overall, the trip was wonderful, and really helpful for us to have some time alone where we could relax together and just hang out!


 New Orleans skyline at night from the edge of the Mississippi River, near the French Quarter.






This was funny - and VERY awkward!

Grandma photobombing Bethany as she shows off the aMAZing, vegan, 4th of July cake she made!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our newest addition to the family, Russell Valentino (he was born on Valentine's Day).  And we LOVE him soooo much!  He was a birthday present for Hans' this year, and he has become much loved by all.  He is a Dutch Dwarf (though I'm not so sure about the dwarf - he's getting pretty big), and the cutest thing on earth.  He and Tucker are even getting along!   


Carmelized Pears - EASY!

After you've finished grilling those Brats or BBQ'ing the chicken, use the coals to make an EASY but delicious, healthy dessert, that cooks while you enjoy your dinner.
Grilled Carmelized Pears:
Take 5 pears, any kind (or as many as you need), and cut them in half, top to bottom.  Cut the core out of each half.  Put aluminum foil down on the grill, and as it warms up, coat it with butter-flavor Crisco (or the regular kind - they both work).  Make sure you have enough foil so you can fold it back on itself halfway; and DO coat the whole thing.  Then sprinkle on cinnamon-sugar, a nice coating of it - so you almost can't see the foil through it.  Then lay the pears on the cinnamon-sugar, cut side down.  Sprinkle more sugar mix on top of the pears (the skin side), fold the foil over top, and crimp the edges a bit.  The coals were running about 225 degrees at this point, and I left the pears on for about 30 minutes.  When you finish your dinner, you'll have soft, warm, caramelized pears just begging for a scoop of vanilla ice cream!  ENJOY!

(Thanks to for the photo - everyone ate mine so quickly, I couldn't get a good picture, but that's exactly what they looked like!  Next time...)

Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

I have tried several Vegan ice creams, and even made my own recipes (early on in the learning process).  They were edible - which is fairly impressive - but NOT good.  When we discovered my daughters food allergies a few years ago, she took the news with grace and style.  She had just turned 13 at the time, and to be told that you suddenly can't have chocolate, enjoy quiche and cheeses...  I don't know if I could have handled it so well.  But I'm not afraid, so I jumped right in and started cooking "vegan" dishes (that was the easiest way to search).  I can add meat to anything, but the best way to find the allergy requirements is to go to Vegan sites.  This ice cream - EVERYONE LOVES IT!  It is creamy, tasty, it freezes nicely, melts with the same speed and texture as dairy ice cream...  It really is perfect!  I did the cashew base, and it was a vanilla ice cream; but my two older kids - who didn't watch me make it - did not know the base.  When they tasted it, they immediately named the flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on:  COOKIE DOUGH.  Yep, for us - going the cashew route - the final product had a distinct Cookie-Dough Ice Cream flavor.  And BTW, I used it the first time as the special dessert for my daughter's birthday, and served it with Grilled Carmelized Pears  (I posted the directions on my blog).  It was soooooo  delicious.  My husband, who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, had seconds!  So thanks for this recipe - if you want Vegan ice cream that is fabulous, and hate the exorbitant prices for a little container that will NOT be as good, make this recipe.  Follow it, and life will be sweet!

Find the ice cream recipe here:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hans was hurt...

So I know this isn't the best way to tell everyone, and HANS IS OKAY.  Before I go any further I need to tell you that.  But this afternoon, down at the neighborhood park, he fell off a swing onto his back.  He apparently wasn't swinging hard, but he slipped off and hit his upper back area.  I got the call from Josh, and when I got there he had crawled away from the swing and was laying on the cold ground in the dirt and mud.  Not moving.  It was a horrifying sight.  I took Josh's coat and covered him, held his head in place and called 911.  They were there in about a minute - they were right around the corner.  (God was watching out for us.  Thank you, God!)  They boarded and collared him, so he couldn't move, and then took us by ambulance to Crozer Hospital.  I know how horrible and painful the collar and board are (jump injury in the 82D), but after a couple of hours, visits with nurses and Dr. Ward, everything was deemed in its' place.  He's getting ice for the next day or two, and taking Ibuprofen for the pain.  Which should mostly be soreness and possible bruising.

I'm sorry I didn't call, for those of you who feel you warrant one (and there are quite a few), but I couldn't talk about it.  Not yet.  That was a terrifying experience, and I get too upset if I'm talking about it.  So, after Melissa's incident the other day, this makes two.  What's the wives tale about "things come in threes"?  I hope not.  That seems a little silly, but it's all too often right.  So Katie and Eric, tell your kids to be more careful!

Love all...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A day filled with special moments...

So this was one of those boring, nothing really happening days that surprised me and had several memorable moments.  Hans had a PFT (pulmonary function test) at the hospital this morning, as a precaution and to rule out asthma.  It went well, and we weren't overly concerned, but it's best to check.  (As a singer, I know a thing or four about breathing, and hunching over and moving your shoulders does NOT help breathing.  I'm thinking it's a posture issue!)  So we had breakfast after, eating sandwiches in the park before he went to school, which was lovely.  But THEN he came home and announced that his teacher asked him to stay after for a moment, and she wanted to know if Hans would be interested in running for 7th grade STUDENT COUNCIL PRESIDENT!!!  AHHHHHH!  I'm so proud - really!  He was SO committed last year and hardly missed a meeting, I know he'd make an amazing president!

Then Bethany came home after school...  I was on the back porch taking a break, eating my lunch, and she came outside with her snack, and we hung out for some time.  We were just talking, and she had me help her study for her French quiz, and it was just ... wonderful.  It was so relaxed, and we were enjoying spending time together (and she's really good at French)...  I know that sounds kind of boring, but it was a wonderful, memorable mother/daughter moment.  Relaxing in the sunshine, together.

And Josh was a HUGE help today.  We ended up spending several hours pulling ivy out of the back yard; I started wanting a small spot to put my new firewood rack (away from the house), but we cleared quite a bit - and I wouldn't have gotten that far without him!  OH - and say a prayer or just keep him in your thoughts, because Thursday he goes for his driving test!  Watch out, Philly - there's an actual good driver about to take to the roads!  (This area has the WORST drivers ever!)

So it was a really nice day, and I appreciated Cody picking up Josh tonight from class, and now I'm done.  Seriously - I HATE that ivy, and it totally kicked my butt today.

Oh yeah!  I almost forgot; here's a picture of our newest addition, Tyler!  We adopted her for free, and Bethany is her 'mommy', but she is very lovable and social!  We're very happy to have her!  (And unlike Toffee, she isn't agoraphobic, but she sticks to the second and third floor, unless we're all hanging out downstairs.  Then she'll come down and see us.)

Love to all...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Power Surge"

Bethany is making a video series titled "Power Surge".  It's an internet/youtube series based on the modern day Greek gods and goddesses, and she's filming the entire thing herself.  She has props, voices, and she's using her Littlest Pet Shop cats as the characters.  (You can see quite a few other series using LPS characters on youtube - they're kinda impressive!).  So I don't have a preview yet (she's hoping to release a trailer within a week, and has Episode 1 ready to go), but Bethany said I could blog about a little bit...  I wrote the original soundtrack theme song, Power Surge, so you can take a listen if you like!  It's not completely finished (the MIDI keyboard I ordered was a bust so I have to order again), but she likes it and says it's good enough for the trailer, so...

Power Surge theme song

Long time, no see...

WOW!  There is so much to catch up on, I think it might be easier to work backwards from today!

For starters, Hans now has braces.  It's been a tough week for him, since they put rubber band spacers between his teeth for a week, and then yesterday the braces went on.  And of course they had to redo one bracket that didn't attach, and he has these "turbo's" behind his 2 front teeth to help him adjust his overbite.  But he still looks cute!  (With new glasses, too).    

Then this past weekend, we went river tubing on the Reading River.  It was a beautiful day, but not overly hot - which meant the water was a little 'cool'!  And I (of course) forgot to grab my waterproof camera from Boo (she's using it to make her movies), so we only have the pictures as we got in the water, but it was really relaxing.  There were just enough spots where the river had baby rapids, to make the experience just a bit exciting...


The week prior to that (18-22), Cody flew out to Mesa, AZ, on Sunday, and then spent the next four days flying an aircraft back across the country.  Imagine driving across country, but you only get to stop  twice a day (lunch for gas, and then overnight to sleep), with no pit stops and your thousands of feet above the ground.  It was very exhausting!

Finally, Saturday night before Cody left, we went to Longwood Gardens for the Fountains & Fireworks show with music from Elton John.  It was the event we were supposed to have done for Cody's birthday, but there had been a fireworks malfunction at the time, so this was rescheduled.  It was nice, but Hans wasn't feeling that great, and we waited WAY too long after dark for the show to start.  It was lovely, but one of those events that if you've seen it once, you're good.  Here's some of that afternoon...