Tag Archives: sharing

Rocky Road – a summer read worth reading – Take the ice cream personality quiz at the end

I do like to read young adult fiction, I can say it because I am pre-reading for my children but that is only a partial truth – I like the quality of the writing, the story lines and the fact that I can read it in the time I could read a Harlequin romance…not that I read those now – but I did in college – by the armful, and the occasional Danielle Steele novel, too. I did say I would read anything…and I have – if you are judging me now, so be it. I also read “grown-up” books and am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog now. Back to YA…

The last young adult fiction book that  I read was Rocky Road by Rose Kent  – Pragmatic Mom let me borrow an advance copy back in June but I am just getting around to writing about it now – it was already published in hard-cover by the time I got the  pre-published bound copy but it was still kind of cool – I walked around with it casually…on purpose. No one asked about the advanced copy but I had fun.

Anyway,  the story involves a more than usually dysfunctional family (Note to YA writers – you know how Disney  kills off a parent for the sake of the story line? YA writers sometimes rely too heavily on family dysfunction for their conflict), having said that and loving YA the way I do, I really liked this book.  The family was dysfunctional in an interesting way with a lot going on. Tess, a seventh grade Texas transplant, whose bipolar mother (father is not involved in this family) moves them to Schenectady, NY in the dead of winter to open an ice cream shop. Tess’s younger brother, Jordan, is deaf and struggles to make himself understood by their mother who can’t seem to manage sign language. The mom is charming and high-functioning and Tess is an artsy-crafty girl who struggles to fit in.  The story is believable and you really care about the characters – and there are plenty of well-drawn characters here,  A strong sense of community and friendship and good values like hard work and responsibility also run throughout the story. If that sounds like a drag, it isn’t. I liked the characters, the writing and that the author dealt with tough topics – bipolar disorder, financial troubles and even caring for a younger sibling (when you may not really want to) are all interwoven in a way that make these topics accessible to younger readers but also engaging to – ahem – older readers, like myself.

All in all, a good read that makes me want to find other books by this author. I found this one: Kimchi and Calamari about an adopted boy who is researching his roots.

About Rose Kent  –  a native Long Islander who spent her summers in the great state of Maine. She is a former naval officer who also worked for a major food corporation. Rose’s first middle-grade novel, Kimchi & Calamari (HarperCollins Publishers) was inspired by her adopted children from Korea. Kimchi & Calamari has been nominated for the NY Charlotte Award, the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Award, and the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award.

Ice Cream Personality quiz that Pragmatic Mom found and I blatantly copied. Thanks, Pragmatic Mom!

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Filed under Authors, books, Books and More, Creative outlets, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, mom blogs, young adult fiction

A Mom’s Night Out with a purpose

A Step Up - Boston Globe photo

Suzanne Kreiter - photo Boston Globe

It is a hideously rainy night and I am slogging through serious puddles in a vain attempt not to look like a drowned rat when I reach my destination.  I am only mildly successful.  The house is lit up and I can hear the voices and laughter of the women (yes, this is a women only event) before I even open the door.  Is this some great party – on a week night, in the suburbs? – no, it is the brainchild of five amazing women who decided that they could do something more.  More than care for their families (which they all continue to do), volunteer in the community (still doing that, as well), more than work at home or out of the home (again, yes)? Yes, they went even further and saw a need for local charities to be given a bit more attention or, as they called it A Step Up.

I walk in and am warmly greeted and I write a check for $35 for the featured charity (tonight More Than Words) and place it into a large glass bowl.  The energy is wonderful and although I only know two people there, I am welcomed and made to feel comfortable. We mingle and chat over wine and lovely food and it seems like another Mom’s Night Out.  Then our attention is directed by the hostess to the reason we are here and we gather on couches and chairs and turn to the speaker.  She is engaging and well-spoken and sincere and clearly outlines the program and why she started it.  Her name is Jodi Rosenbaum and she if the founder and executive director of More Than Words*.  More Than Words is a physical bookstore on Moody Street in Waltham and it is also a social services connected program that helps some of the most marginalized youth through support and job training.  Jodi’s commitment and dedication are evident and we are all attentive but when we really sit up and become fully engaged is when the two teen speakers – graduates of the program – tell us their stories.  Their stories are a far cry from the comfortable suburban lives we are living and the opportunities that we are able to provide for our children. In turns, I feel guilty and blessed.

The amount of work that has gone into this evening is incredible. These women have, as a group, carefully researched the charity being showcased that evening and prepared for a party of 100 plus people, and made it look effortless. All five members of A Step Up invite their friends who are encouraged to invite their friends. It is a truly collaborative effort.

Here is a great article about the women behind A Step Up that ran in Sunday’s Boston Globe –

‘Giving circles’ boost donations, catch on in communities west of Boston – The Boston Globe and here are  A Step Up Events listings.

*MTW is led by Founder and Executive Director Jodi Rosenbaum.  She has over 13 years of experience in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and education fields and was a Teach For America  Corps member.  Jodi has an Ed.M. in risk and prevention from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education

**Check this out – I wrote about the non-profit Web of Benefit, when I had just stated this bog, here (way back in February) which was introduced by A Step Up

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Filed under Books and More, charitable works, Creative outlets, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, local events, Volunteer

A Mom's Night Out with a purpose

A Step Up - Boston Globe photo

Suzanne Kreiter - photo Boston Globe

It is a hideously rainy night and I am slogging through serious puddles in a vain attempt not to look like a drowned rat when I reach my destination.  I am only mildly successful.  The house is lit up and I can hear the voices and laughter of the women (yes, this is a women only event) before I even open the door.  Is this some great party – on a week night, in the suburbs? – no, it is the brainchild of five amazing women who decided that they could do something more.  More than care for their families (which they all continue to do), volunteer in the community (still doing that, as well), more than work at home or out of the home (again, yes)? Yes, they went even further and saw a need for local charities to be given a bit more attention or, as they called it A Step Up.

I walk in and am warmly greeted and I write a check for $35 for the featured charity (tonight More Than Words) and place it into a large glass bowl.  The energy is wonderful and although I only know two people there, I am welcomed and made to feel comfortable. We mingle and chat over wine and lovely food and it seems like another Mom’s Night Out.  Then our attention is directed by the hostess to the reason we are here and we gather on couches and chairs and turn to the speaker.  She is engaging and well-spoken and sincere and clearly outlines the program and why she started it.  Her name is Jodi Rosenbaum and she if the founder and executive director of More Than Words*.  More Than Words is a physical bookstore on Moody Street in Waltham and it is also a social services connected program that helps some of the most marginalized youth through support and job training.  Jodi’s commitment and dedication are evident and we are all attentive but when we really sit up and become fully engaged is when the two teen speakers – graduates of the program – tell us their stories.  Their stories are a far cry from the comfortable suburban lives we are living and the opportunities that we are able to provide for our children. In turns, I feel guilty and blessed.

The amount of work that has gone into this evening is incredible. These women have, as a group, carefully researched the charity being showcased that evening and prepared for a party of 100 plus people, and made it look effortless. All five members of A Step Up invite their friends who are encouraged to invite their friends. It is a truly collaborative effort.

Here is a great article about the women behind A Step Up that ran in Sunday’s Boston Globe –

‘Giving circles’ boost donations, catch on in communities west of Boston – The Boston Globe and here are  A Step Up Events listings.

*MTW is led by Founder and Executive Director Jodi Rosenbaum.  She has over 13 years of experience in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and education fields and was a Teach For America  Corps member.  Jodi has an Ed.M. in risk and prevention from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education

**Check this out – I wrote about the non-profit Web of Benefit, when I had just stated this bog, here (way back in February) which was introduced by A Step Up

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Filed under Books and More, charitable works, Creative outlets, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, local events, Volunteer

The story of the rainbow cake on the day we had compromised water*

capability mom makes the rainbow cake - spoonsHere is the thing. I love to bake but am not especially gifted in this area. Oh, pshaw, Capability Mom, you say, it looks like you are…well, capable. I am capable but I am not inspired. I am a nervous baker and can’t easily adapt a recipe or change part of one that I like and add something else instead. I have friends who are incredible bakers and so I know the difference.

capability mom attempts the rainbow cake

These are the pretty cakes.

When I made The Whisk Kid’s crazy gorgeous rainbow cake, for instance, I followed her recipe exactly…except when I didn’t. Here is another thing about me – I love to read but not directions…like on cake flour boxes. So I had cake flour and thought how nice it would be to use it for a cake, logical, yes? But I failed to read the box which told you the formula (not difficult – just another tablespoon or so of cake flour for each cup called for in recipe) and when we made the first batch (yes, this was before we had no water – thankfully) and they were flat and full of airholes and some were quite raw. The colors were gorgeous but I knew the cakes were a failure. Sigh. I do so dislike failure. After determining that all were mostly lost, we remade the cakes with all-purpose flour – as I should have known to do in the first place – and they came out perfectly wonderful round layers.

At this point we called it a night. I had made the base butter cream frosting from The Whisk Kid’s recipe – my first ever – and was thrilled because it was delicious.  I covered it and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I made the top coat of butter cream frosting and waited for the under or crumb coat frosting to come to room temperature. Despite the heat of the day (and it was so hot), that butter cream remained unspreadable. Rookie that I am, I was too nervous to do anything to it other than jab at it with a spoon (this does nothing) and make 3 or 4 more batches of the top coat (because I had started frosting with that and was now committed to it). Luckily, I had tons of eggs and sugar (and a container of egg whites that vaguely felt like cheating). Why did I not just go to the store and buy Duncan Hines? Because I am stubborn and I was making this cake and it would be from scratch because that would show my daughter that …what, exactly? The lesson learned was that her mom is, if anything, determined and stubborn, yeah, like that is news. I was pretty flustered but mostly capability mom's rainbow cakekept it together (except when I gave up and enlisted two middle schoolers to frost the cake because this is an area of great weakness for me) and I was putting together a party with a moonbounce, cotton candy machine and no water, thank you very much.

It was a success and thrill and surprise to most of the guests and worth the eggs, sugar and time spent. Next time I might read the directions, too.

*There was water – running water – we just had to boil it to use it for washing dishes and drinking and brushing teeth. Good times.

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Filed under Food, rainbow cakes