Fresh Picks (Dec 3)

It’s been such a busy few days between getting the flu, volunteering at school, holiday parties, and all the extra work that comes with Hanukkah that I forgot to post this! already another order has come in!

Two weeks ago I received green cabbage, spaghetti squash, yellow onions, parsnips, cranberries, red potatoes, and chard.DSC_0181

I immediately got to work the next day whipping up some soup and cranberry bread. I thought both turned out good enough to share the recipes with you!

I used up half the cabbage, the potatoes, and one parsnip an adaption from Ciao Italia’s Cabbage Potato and Bean Soup. I was able to throw in some of the kidney beans from a few weeks ago that fresh picks delivered too. I really liked the way the parsnip added a sweetness to the soup.DSC_0195

I used all the cranberries in a Cranberry Cake recipe adapted from The Kitchn.


It did have a lot more sugar than I would normally let myself but it was so good people.

Cranberry Cake
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Breakfast, Afternoon Treat, Dessert
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Oz cranberries
  • ½ cup crushed candied pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray loaf pan.
  2. With a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.
  3. Beat in the butter and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.
  4. Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle crushed pecans on top.
  6. Bake for 60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

So good people, sooo soooo good. Seriously think about it for the holidays.

As for the spaghetti squash I just want to thank Fresh Picks for giving me this gift. I’ve never tried it before and I’m pleased to say it is SO easy to prepare and top with whatever and it comes out delish.DSC_0223

I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted it, cut side down on foil at 375° for about 45 minutes. Let it cool enough to handle then ran a fork through it and it made beautiful, spaghetti-like strands. I topped it with the steamed chard from this order, marinara and mozzarella then stuck it back in the oven and let the mozzarella melt. Would definitely make this again, and not just when Fresh Picks delivers it to me.

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More Hanukkah Bear Mischief

The Hanukkah bears were up to more mischief these past few days.

Yesterday morning when the boys woke they found the Hanukkah bears dressed up just like them…


Then this morning they found the Hanukkah bears taking a joy ride in their make shift hot air balloon…


Meanwhile the past two nights the boys opened up legos, lego calendars, huge garbage trucks that my sister bought for the twins, Harry Potter movies and more.

Jack brought home gift for all his family members from his school’s holiday bazaar. Very thoughtful stuff like a photo frame for me (even my 7 year old knows I’m addicted to my camera), a clock for Adam, and little ice cream bowls for all his siblings.

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Hanukkah Starts

Yesterday was the first day of Hanukkah and the kids were ecstatic that their wait was finally over.

DSC_0308Yes, they’re baaaaack. The kids were greeted with the Hanukkah bears yesterday morning.

In the evening they almost burst with anticipation waiting for Adam to get home from work.

We sang the Hanukkah prayer and lit the candles.

DSC_0310Well, Adam and I sung it. Ben and Jack watched. Aaron and Sam sang ‘Happy Birthday’.

DSC_0314We opened the first night’s toys. Jack and Ben actually picked out all their toys and wrapped them themselves so they knew exactly what they were getting. There is Jack’s remote control Dino car. Ben got mini superheros and villains, also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hot chocolate mugs from his aide. The twins got matching ambulances. We also opened up gifts from Aunt Aloha and Uncle Ronnie. Puppets, books and Macadamia Nut Chocolates.

It was a great haul for the first night! Or any night!


Then it was time for the dreidel game. Aaron tried to eat his whole stash and Ben got really upset when he lost, but Adam was able to bring him back in and show him how to play. I was proud he was able to come back and recover from his upset. Shows he’s getting better.

This morning, the bears were up to no good again…


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Star of the Week

With all the holiday show hoopla, I forgot to mention that Ben had another very good week last week.

He was ‘Star of the Week’ in his kindergarten class and proudly filled out this poster about himself all on his own. He wouldn’t let me help write a single letter. I noticed for Jack’s Kindergarten ‘Star of the Week’ poster I wrote everything. (First time mom rookie mistake!)


Highlights include Ben’s chosen profession when he grows up: Lawyer and Police Man. Jack wanted to be a truck driver on his.

Ben’s favorite food is Egg Rolls, Jack’s was Sushi. Yes, I’ve managed to pass on that asian gene!

For the things he does at home her wrote “iPad and TMNT” (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and for the things he does at school he wrote “be good for treats”. Ha ha ha ha.

Finally, for his three supercool facts he wrote he can swim, he collected 1001 pieces of candy for Halloween, and he can do almost anything!

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Holiday Show

It was the usual morning frenzy Friday morning at the Calisoff house. Today’s frenzy du jour was the holiday show at school. Both Jack and Ben were performing and everyone, including the parents, were very excited.

It was a big day for Ben. In the past Ben has not done well in performance situations. I don’t know if you all remember the puppet show incident. He basically wandered around the stage during his performance then kicked and screamed his way off the stage. In hindsight, we figured standing alone on stage with no one to regulate him was a bad idea.

So when it was once again time for him to perform, we approached with trepidation. We actually told his aide not to let him perform. We didn’t want him ruining the show for everyone. And we’ve seen Jack’s school shows. They are AMAZING.

When we told her not to let him participate, her face fell. She told us he would be really disappointed and she thought he could do it. So we told her okay, but if it’s not working out we are okay not seeing him onstage.

The staff at school not only managed to teach him his lines and get him to practice, they also made him line leader. He was a leader! I was really, really hoping he would succeed.

So back to the Calisoff morning frenzy. For some reason, Jack said he couldn’t stand up to get dressed. He was acting very strange. But I don’t think anyone spent any time trying to figure out why. Jack really wanted to do the show and we really wanted to see him do it!

Please do not judge me when you see the picture I snapped before Adam took them so school. When I look at it I cringe. If it were in a newspaper the caption might read, “Stage Mom Ignores Sick Kid’s Symptoms. The Show Must Go On!”

DSC_0260 And the show did go on.

Ben did an incredible job. I couldn’t tell him apart from any other kid up there. He did the movements and sang the song. He waited patiently to lead the other kids off stage. I was so proud of him. HE DID IT!

DSC_0266Jack fought the sickness and performed in both shows. In between he put his head on his desk. As his teacher said, she knew he was sick because today they had plenty of opportunity to horse around with their buddies and he didn’t do it.

DSC_0283 - Version 2The auditorium was packed so there was no room for siblings but while I was watching Jack perform I turned around and saw this image in the doorway…


It was such an upbeat way to start the holiday season. Many thanks to Jack and Ben’s school!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Another birthday! And so soon! I feel like with each passing year the birthdays come quicker and quicker.

Actually I have a theory on that. When you are 4 years old you have to wait, like 1/5 of your life for your 5th birthday to arrive. That’s a long time to wait! But when you are turning 42, it’s only 1/42 of your life since your last birthday. Which really isn’t a lot at all.

So another birthday!

Adam and the older boys were out creating some elaborate surprise that they unbelievably kept a secret from me until my actual birthday.

DSC_0235Adam took them to a pottery place and they made these great little boxes for me to put stuff in.


Then the twins came in with a card they scribbled up real good for me. They were very proud of themselves too.


I got spoiled with breakfast out at Meli Cafe, reflexology at Fit Foot, and cupcakes from Sweet Mandy Bs.

DSC_0253That evening we got the sitter and went to the gym then to dinner at Japonais by Morimoto.

It was a perfect day. I loved all my gifts and thoroughly enjoyed getting spoiled, but the best gift I got this year came from Ben.

An entire week of good behavior reports from Ben’s school…


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Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Has anyone been reading about wheat intolerance in our country? Does anyone know why we have it so bad nowadays?

Some people claim Gluten Intolerance from Roundup Herbicide is the reason. I wasn’t sure, but after reading it all of a sudden I was scared of commercially produced bread.

Enter my sister’s recommendation - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I had NO IDEA it was so easy to make bread. And how much more delicious it would be than the stuff you buy at the store.

Jack and I have become professional bakers!

Boule and Dinner Rolls

So far we made a Boule bread and dinner rolls. Then we made Naan bread…

Naan Bread

Which we turned into pizza….

Which we used to make pizza

Next we moved onto Challah bread.

DSC_0206Jack and I made matching braided breads.

DSC_0208At first the other kids were happy to sit on the sidelines, sipping hot chocolate and watching.

DSC_0209But soon we became a full on “baker’s half dozenish”.

Here is all the great shapes we came up with.

DSC_0214Jack made ‘car challahs’. Can you spot them? Ben wanted a braid of his own.

Here are the two braids Jack and I did…


It’s been so much fun to do this with the kids. More than I imagined it would be. And as an added bonus I’m saving money and feeding my kids less preservatives and added sugars. It’s a very satisfying venture all the way around.

Next up we are tackling bagels…

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Naughty or Nice

Has anyone seen the recent article on naughty and nice names for kids in 2014?

If I read it right, they tracked 1 million rewards stickers to figure out which names corresponded to good and bad behavior in the school system.

How did my kids fair?

Jack was listed as #8 in the nicest boy name category. Benjamin was also #8, but in the naughtiest boy name category. Hmmmm. Sam and Aaron didn’t place on either lists.

How did your kids fair?

Check here: Who’s been Naughty and Nice this Year?

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Making Old Memories New Again

It is one of the many memories that I had as a child.

Each family has it’s own little world that it lives in together, imprinting each other every day, shaping and molding who we are and what we are to become in the future.

This memory was the kind of memory that I would never repeat to my high school peers for fear of shame and humiliation. But thank goodness I no longer live in fear of being judged. In fact, I’ve learned a memory like this can be seen as funny, and now I can share it with you with pride. At the very least, after what happened today, I can no longer make fun of my parents and sister for it.

It was 1983. Maybe it was 1984. There we were, our entire Devensky Family. Mother, Father, Older Sister and I, breathing heavily and contorting our bodies to Jane Fonda’s workout video. You know the one? Where she is wearing that signature 80s workout leotard that cuts up on either side to her rib cage. I think she also wore a belt. And leg warmers.

We were in old t-shirts and shorts, sitting on fraying beach towels. My mom was yelling back at the VHS tape, “It burning, Ai Ooman, it burning you see!”

My dad was laughing at himself because Jane was telling him to stretch his body over his legs and he couldn’t even sit up straight in that position, much less bend.

It was one of those great family memories that probably would have been completely forgotten if I didn’t find myself in a very similar situation recently.

I’ve been working my way through Shaun T’s T25 lately. Any day I can’t make it to the gym I drag myself into the spare room at nap time or after the kids are in bed and force myself to do it.

After hiding it from the kids, you can imagine my shock and surprise when, over Thanksgiving break naps for the twins, Jack and Ben showed quite an interest in doing them with me.


Oh yeah, I got a visual. I hope my sister and parents are laughing as hard as I am right now. There is me and Jack, the next generation on, making it burn.

I’d like to say it was a perfect memory. But unlike the stuff I remember from my own childhood, I’m not as patient or forgiving as my predecessors. At one point Jack was bumping into Ben repeatedly and after a few warnings I yelled at him. He was so hurt that he left after a few minutes of doing the video. So Ben and I completed it. Well, Ben laid on the floor for most of it, but he stayed with me.

The whole time I felt terrible. I went all Orange Rhino on him when there were so many better ways to handle it. I ruin a perfectly good memory and had no idea how to fix it.

Luckily, Jack did.

When it was over he came in with a piece of paper and pen asked me how to spell ‘circle’. I spelled it for him and he gave me this note. (I wrote my reply under it.)

t25 again note

We both giggled a bit nervously and I started the video AGAIN from the beginning. I figured 50 grueling minutes contorting with Shaun T was the least I could do to punish myself for yelling at Jack!

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Happy Thanksgiving 2014!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family checking in today!

It was a low key day for us.

Board games, indoor races from one side of the house to the other, lots of reading to the twins and older boys, a few tickle torture sessions, iPad playing, some proactive housework (Adam cleaned out and moved the kids books around), some football, a hilarious hour with a few workout videos which the older boys were surprisingly interested in doing with me, and some traditional Thanksgiving dinner.DSC_0063

Scarily I spent about as much time on dinner as I normally do. It seemed so ordinary that I actually felt the need to put the table cloth on the table so the kids might feel a difference from other nights!

Since we didn’t have any guests half of us are still in our jammies, which I considered a real luxury.

Hope everyone reading had as many things to be thankful for as we did.

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