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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Friday, November 27

    Friday Show and Tell: Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

    Happy Day After Thanksgiving! I hope you are all sufficiently stuffed. I know I am. Before we get on with this week’s Show and Tell, I need to tell you about my turkey this year. I spatchcocked it. And dry brined it. And roasted it in mayo. And it was PERFECT. So perfect, in fact, I am going to do a whole post about the process. In related news, I was so inspired by my podcast interview with Kate Lebo earlier this week I ended up making all of our pies from scratch. And it was good. So good. Anyway, more posts to come on all of that, but for today how about some links and TV shows?

    spatchcocked turkey

    First off, food links. For Cool Mom Eats I dug up some really delicious turkey leftover recipes, perfect for this weekend! And, on Babble this month, I kinda went crazy with the kids’ food art.

    Jessica Jones on Netflix

    As I mentioned before, I’m wiped out after cooking all week, so we’re just gonna relax today. Much of that relaxing is going to involve getting caught up on The Voice and watching Netflix. Nate and I started Jessica Jones last night after the kids went to bed. We keep hearing how awesome that show is and, one episode in, I think it just might live up to the hype. Oh, and one more fun Netflix thing! ‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving…when a big box of funny goodies from Netflix arrived on our doorstep celebrating the new Care Bears & Cousins series. (The package included scrunchies. I don’t know if I can forgive Netflix for introducing scrunchies to my girls. Anna hasn’t stopped wearing them since Wednesday. Oh my.) I totally loved Care Bears as a kid (I had the Cheer Bear plush toy!), so it will be fun to watch it with the kids. Hug it out! :)

    Care Bears & Cousins on Netflix

    That’s it! Go eat some leftovers. And more pie. And, as always, comment with your own show and tell!

  2. Monday, November 23

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #9: Kate Lebo

    This Week for Dinner Podcast Episode 9: Pie Expert and Writer Kate Lebo

    Thanksgiving is just days away, which probably means that many of you are on the cusp of baking a pie (or two…or three!). Lucky for us today’s podcast guest is a pie expert! I was actually planning to buy my pies at the store this year (GASP!), but after talking with today’s guest, I’ve decided to make my pies from scratch after all. So, who is this powerful enchantress who has bewitched me into making homemade pie crust? Kate Lebo is her name!

    Kate Lebo is a writer, teacher, and baker from the Pacific Northwest and the the author of two books about the folk art of pie making, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter and A Commonplace Book of Pie. Kate’s essays and poems have appeared in Best American Essays 2015, Best New Poets 2011, New England Review, Willow Springs, and Gastronomica, and she writes the “Cooking the Books” column for the Spokesman-Review. Basically she is an awesome writer with an MFA from the University of Washington who also happens to be obsessed with making great pie and teaching others how to make great pie.

    My chat with Kate was delightful and informative. And, while today’s episode is certainly timely for Thanksgiving, our conversation is perfect for any time of year because pie is always a good thing.


    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!

  3. Friday, November 20

    Friday Show & Tell

    Happy Friday! Soccer season is over around these parts, so I’m looking forward to our first weekend with nothing on the calendar. Sadly I think most of that free time will be spent cleaning the disaster that is our house!

    There is a lot to share today. Ready, set, GO!

    Bagel Snowmen by @janemaynard

    I have a bunch of food links for today, most of them perfect for Thanksgiving!

    And, before we go, just want to share two great causes quickly. It’s the giving season!

    When Cate was in preschool many moons ago, there was a really wonderful group of moms in that classroom. We were all very different from one another but everyone got along beautifully. One of the moms, Rachel Lorkin, had a baby around that time, a little boy named Luke with chromosome 15q duplication. Rachel has an Etsy shop where she sells some of her artwork, which serves as a respite in her otherwise hectic life. From now through December, 100% of the sale price on any of her items will go to the Chromosome 15q Duplication Aliance, an organization that supports research and kindness for families like Rachel’s. If you’ve started your holiday shopping, check it out! It’s a great cause! (The robots on canvas are RIDICULOUSLY cute.)

    rachel lorkin robots on canvas

    Second, last week I had the chance to be a guest judge for a high school speech tournament at an non-profit called Reality Changers here in San Diego. It is absolutely astounding what this non-profit is doing for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to help get them into college. I was very impressed and loved meeting a few of the kids in the program. If you’re in San Diego and looking for a non-profit to get involved with, definitely check out the volunteer opportunities at Reality Changers. If you’re not in San Diego and would like to support the program with a donation, click here.

    That’s it from me today. If you have anything you’d like to share, please do!

  4. Tuesday, November 17

    Kitchen Tip: The Best Way To Cut Dough for Crescent Rolls

    There hasn’t been much Thanksgiving prep happening here on the blog because, honestly, there just isn’t much Thanksgiving prep happening in my kitchen! I AM cooking next week, and I haven’t done one thing yet to get ready. Honestly, I’m not stressed about it. I’m sticking with the old stand-bys this year, so I pretty much know what we’ll be eating. Just need to do some shopping this weekend. It’s all good. However, if you are actually planning ahead, you can click on my “Thanksgiving Prep” tag and see all kinds of posts related to Thanksgiving!

    kitchen tip: cutting crescent rolls with a pizza cutter from @janemaynard

    I do want to share a quick Kitchen Tip today related to Thanksgiving. It’s one of those tips that is kind of a “Duh” thing to share, but I didn’t figure it out until last year, so I imagine I’m not alone in having not done this before. Every year I make crescent rolls for Thanksgiving. And every year I use a sharp knife when cutting dough for crescent rolls. You know, once you’ve rolled out a circle and cut the circle into triangles. Well, last year, I was about to use the knife and then, for some reason, I thought of the pizza cutter. It worked beautifully. Also, what did I tell you? DUH. How had I never done this before?!

    kitchen tip: cutting crescent rolls with a pizza cutter from @janemaynard

    Life changer, guys. Well, when it comes to making crescent rolls at least. You’re welcome and happy crescent roll cutting!

  5. Friday, November 6

    Raising a Rock-Star Reader + Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday, everyone! Before we get to the usual Show and Tell portion of our program, I have to tell you about my friend’s new book!

    Raising a Rock-Star Reader review and giveaway!

    Amy Mascott (my friend!) and Allison McDonald are just published their new book Raising a Rock-Star Reader and it’s wonderful! I received an advanced copy and it is filled with all kinds of wonderful tips, recommendations and resources for getting your children to be great readers. Years I ago I had the chance to hear a lecture from a UC Berkeley professor who specialized in early education. She talked at length about why it is so beneficial to read to children from a very early age – the very act of hearing varied language and many words helps children’s brains develop in tremendous ways. It was fascinating and something I’ve thought about a lot as we’ve raised our children.

    Anna and Cate are both rock-star readers (I am grateful every day for this) and will probably be as excited to read Amy and Allison’s book as I am. Owen is still a wee thing and the tips in this book are fabulous. I can’t wait to start implementing the ideas with all three of our kids!

    Of course you know I love giveaways! So, let’s give away a copy of Amy and Allison’s book! To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment telling us your most favorite children’s book. That’s it! Comments must be posted by Midnight PT 11/13/15 and prize must be shipped within the U.S.

    Congratulations to Amy and Allison for a job very well done on their wonderful book! Here’s to happy readers!

    And, since it’s Friday, a few links to share!

    One last thing! Nate and I discovered Les Revenants (The Returned) on Netflix and it’s AWESOME. I’m always looking out for your TV watching. It’s because I care.

    Okay, so, be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway above! And, as always, feel free to share whatever you want for Show and Tell!

  6. Friday, October 30

    Friday Show and Tell + Why TV In the Bedroom is NO BIG DEAL

    It’s Friday and tomorrow is Halloween! Woohoo!

    I have several things to share today. On your marks, get set, GO!

    5 Freakishly Easy Halloween DinnersImage source: Fork and Beans

    First, a few fun food links!

    American Street Kid documentaryImage source: American Street Kid

    I also wanted to share a documentary with you today. My friend Stacia Fiore has been working with homeless kids for years. She has been an outreach counselor in Oceanside, CA for a very long time and is now a mentor/consultant/board member/all around awesome person for the new documentary American Street Kid. As the team was working on the film, they also started a non-profit called Spare Some Change, an organization that aims to use arts and media to raise awareness about homeless youth as well as create a one-on-one mentoring program and new kind of housing facility. They’re doing great work and I can’t wait to see the doc. I am so happy to help Stacia spread the word. Be sure to check it out! And you can click here to see a trailer for the movie.

    Netflix and Roku TVI just realized after uploading this photo that you can see “My List” and our “Recently Watched” shows. Thankfully there is nothing embarrassing in there!

    Last thing. I’m joining the Netflix Stream Team for another year because, as you know, I’m obsessed with Netflix and television so it JUST MAKES SENSE. This year Netflix generously gave us a Roku TV, which arrived last week! We have had a Roku box and an Apple TV for years and we never use the Apple TV. Combine the Roku with the TV and we are in love! Our living room TV is a Samsung Smart TV and it works pretty well for Netflix and whatnot, but not great. The Roku TV is seamless, fast and perfect for streaming all kinds of content. Also, I started watching Jane the Virgin. It is super cute. For some strange reason I couldn’t get Nate to watch it with me…

    And, since you can tell that my new Roku TV is sitting on a dresser…yes, we have a TV in our bedroom. I was always morally against televisions in the bedroom, then about 2 years ago we decided to give it a try. All the dire things that everyone warns you against with having a TV in your room didn’t happen. Our TV watching didn’t increase, we still use the bedroom as a bedroom, we don’t fall asleep with the TV on every night, yadayadayada…all the stuff I was worried about is no big deal. So, just sayin’, YEAH, I have a TV in my room and I love it! 😉

    That’s it for this week! As usual, show and tell is for the whole class! Pop on into the conversation! Share your own blog posts, things you’ve recently discovered, or tell us what you think about TVs in the bedroom. It’s all fair game!

  7. Friday, October 16

    Friday Show and Tell + The 2015 Maynard Concert Marathon!


    autumn stone wall cocktail from @janemaynard

    I have just one food link for you today. If you’re looking for a good cocktail for fall, well, I’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out this recipe for an Autumn Stone Wall on BabbleThe origin of this cocktail dates back to Colonial times, so, you know, you should totally drink it in the name of history.

    Florence and the Machine in Concert, San Diego 2015, by @janemaynard

    Okay, so Nate and I went a little crazy this week. We went to three concerts, all on school nights. And I am feeling it today. Actually, I was feeling it yesterday when we still had one more concert to go, which I think makes me officially an old lady. But it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. All three concerts rocked (pun intended) so I have to tell you about them!

    • alt-j: I wasn’t so sure how the band alt-j would sound live since their music has a very electronic feel, but they were amazing! Really, so impressive. Their music is layered and complicated and different in a very good way. Such a great show, I highly recommend catching them live if you are a fan of the band.
    • Florence and the Machine: We knew Florence’s voice would blow pretty much everything out of the water and we were right. Her voice is unreal. And she is BANANAS, running and jumping and spinning like a crazy person the entire concert. She must work out a LOT because WOW. Also, she is unbelievably endearing and sweet. At one point she got choked up and confessed that she hadn’t wanted to do the show that night as her beloved uncle had passed away less than 24 hours prior, but that she was glad she had done the show anyway. I don’t know how she pulled herself together after that. Anyway, she rocks. Go see her show if you ever get the chance.
    • Hozier: This guy. I mean, we all know he has a great voice (and it’s even better live), but he is also a phenomenal guitarist who can JAM. And his songs are all great. Oh, and he is SO nice, with just a really positive vibe. He not only introduced the band members but the entire crew, including the bus drivers. At the close of the show he linked arms with his bandmates for a big bow, which was adorable, and he kept plugging the other musicians in the nicest most un-annoying way, including the opening band Little Green Cars (who were really good, btw). Basically, we love him. I also highly recommend going to one of his shows if you ever can.

    If you visit my Instagram feed, you can watch little video snippets from each show. They’re pretty sweet.

    That’s it for me today. As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments! That’s what Show and Tell is for!

  8. Friday, October 9

    Friday Show and Tell + Happy News From Malawi (!!!) + How To Help South Carolina

    Happy Friday!

    Before I get to today’s show and tell links, I am so excited to give you an update on one of the farmers I met in Malawi last May when traveling with ONE and Heifer International. Rhoda invited us to her home on the last day of our visit. She was in the process of preparing a pen to receive a cow distributed by Heifer under the Malawian government’s FDIP program. When we met the delightful and beautiful Rhoda, her pen was in the middle of being built. Here is a picture of Rhoda back in May, getting ready to receive her livestock.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    We learned this week from our friend Mwai, a Heifer employee in Malawi who traveled with us, that Rhoda along with 43 other families in the southern district of Thoylo received their animals! Rhoda’s cow is from South Africa and she has named it Favor. Rhoda said that she feels it is by God’s favor that she received this animal from Heifer International. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one to tear up upon reading the great news. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see her with her long-awaited cow!

    Heifer International Malawian Farmer Rhoda receiving her cow! By @janemaynard

    Heifer International Malawian Farmer Rhoda receiving her cow! By @janemaynard

    Today I have two recipes to share with you that I created for Babble. I am really happy with how they both came out!

    Tandoori Tacos by @janemaynard

    • Tandoori Tacos: I couldn’t help myself, Indian Burritos were too fun…so now, Tandoori Tacos! They taste awesome and they are beautiful, too.

    Brown Butter Gnocchi with Butternut Squash by @janemaynard

    Before we go, if you are looking ways to send help and support to the people of South Carolina as they deal with disastrous flooding, my friend Shani Gilchrist, a writer from South Carolina, shared the following links. In addition to donations, let’s send lots of love/happy vibes/prayers their way!

    As you all know, Show and Tell is for everyone, so please feel free to share links to your own discoveries/finds/recipes/blog posts/anything! 

  9. Thursday, October 8

    What to Eat in New Orleans, i.e. How to Give Yourself a Food Hangover

    Last week I went to New Orleans with my mom, sister-in-law Cora and sister Anne with one goal: to eat tons of food. We not only achieved our goal, we did so with flying colors. Actually, too many flying colors. By the third night I felt strange. Physically strange. I think it was a food hangover. Listen, I’ve been known to put down a lot of food in my day, but New Orleans just about did me in. And it was totally worth it. Man, the food is awesome. And beyond food, the city is beautiful, the people are friendly and the music is the BEST. New Orleans has captured my heart. (As well as my stomach!)

    Cabildo Alley | New Orleans | What to Eat in New Orleans from @janemaynard (photo by Cora Wallin)Cabildo Alley. Photo credit: Cora Wallin

    As we prepared for the trip, Anne made us all do research and put it in a Google doc so that when we were on the ground we’d be ready to go! Of course we didn’t get to half of what was in the doc, but we did a TON in our 3 1/2 days in NOLA and I honestly can’t believe how much food we ate.

    Jackson Square | What to Eat in New Orleans by @janemaynardJackson Square

    If you follow my very enthusiastic advice and visit New Orleans (you better!!!), here are all the delicious/wonderful/interesting/fun places you should visit!


    Ruby Slipper Cafe (Days 1 & 4…we started and ended our time in New Orleans here!)
    My friend Kalli visited NOLA just one week ahead of us and recommended the Ruby Slipper Cafe, stating that the biscuits were the BEST THING EVER and that she wished she had just ordered biscuits and bacon as her meal. I do agree that those items were delectable, but I am SO glad we ordered other items, too. Honestly, Ruby Slipper really stands out for all four of us as a favorite from the weekend. Here are some of our Ruby Slipper top picks! (Click here for full menu and descriptions.)

    • Chicken St. Charles: I could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s UNREAL. The fried chicken is divine, the egg was poached to perfection, and the tasso sauce finished it all off beautifully. (Side note: Tasso ham is a southern Louisiana specialty.)
    • Eggs Blackstone: This was my first meal in New Orleans and, let’s just say, it set a very high bar.
    • One word: BISCUITS. Best biscuits we had all weekend.
    • Bananas Foster Pain Perdu: This French toast was one of my mom’s favorite foods from the whole weekend. Delish!
    • We didn’t imbibe at Ruby Slipper, BUT their alcoholic breakfast drink menu was extensive and delicious sounding. It’s always 5:00 somewhere, right?

    Chicken St. Charles from Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans | from @janemaynard

    Biscuits from Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans by @janemaynard

    Eggs Blackstone from Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans by @janemaynard

    (>> Find out more…)

  10. Tuesday, September 29

    Another Birthday, Another Cake! Owen’s Anchor Birthday Cake

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!

    At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Here’s how to make an anchor cake!

    • Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
    • Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
    • …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
    • For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cakeClick here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.

    Vanilla Cake
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    This is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
    • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, room temp
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
    5. Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
    6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
    8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
    9. Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
    10. For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
    11. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.


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