8 Easy Ways to Improve a Boxed Brownie Mix

8 Ways to Improve a Boxed Brownie Mix

The best thing about boxed brownies mixes are the convenience and ease of use. It’s really hard to screw up a boxed brownie mix. If you have a half hour, you can make the fudgy, chewy treats for a quick chocolate fix.

But those two selling points are also the pre-made mixes biggest limitations. You’ll scratch that chocolate itch but you really won’t wow anyone with the results. Even the best box mix will still be a box mix. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can do to dress up that box mix. Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Hairspray & Half Birthdays

So, what did you talk about over dinner with your families this week? Another difficult and harrowing week that was tough to put into words. We did not show the kids the video and we made sure they knew they were safe, but we did not shield them from the news, either. We then did our best to talk about what was happening and why it was happening.

I found a lot of these books (many available as e-books) a great way to continue those conversations with the girls.

I don’t know how much of the why really sank in but we felt it was important to try. The girls are learning about citizenship and civil rights now in school, so maybe…? Kids are messy, frustrating and stressful but often kinder and more perceptive than adults. Best to start early and try to keep it that way.

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Flour Bakery’s Famous Banana Bread Recipe

The girls will no longer eat any banana is it has a single spot of brown on it. Really, they’d prefer to eat them with a healthy tinge of green still visible. Given these habits and the fact that I can only eat so many bananas in a single day, we often end up with a small pile of seriously brown bananas once in a while.

Suddenly, the girls’ attitude changes. They know that the most proper use of brown/black bananas is banana bread and if you’re going to make banana bread that really tastes like bananas (too many taste like chocolate or just sugar), you want to make Joanne Chang’s famous banana bread from Flour Bakery. Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Astronauts & Ice Cream

If you have any conversation with friends and family right now, you are likely to hear stress, fear, confusion, maybe anger, definitely fatigue. But it’s mostly fatigue, I think. I had the week off and I’m more tired now than before.

But the kids? One of my main parenting tenets is to do my best to model the behavior I want them to learn. In this case, I might need to learn from them.

The girls are aware of what’s going on but they remain energetic and excited most days. They tolerate the homeschooling but after that it’s all about the green screen, inch worms, unrolling the slip ‘n slide, and the weird egg they found outside. It’s also mostly about when they can have their next snack, but they manage to stay remarkably present. There is something refreshing about their narrow views, ordinary complaints and not being overwhelmed by the relentless negativity and uncertainty of world events.

Maybe I can tap into that. Maybe I can be a little more like a kid. I’m not abandoning ship. I’ll still monitor the cheese stick consumption but I’ll try to also enjoy this strange, surreal experience. Or, at least not let it grind me down. Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Camping Hangover

Just about a month left of homeschooling. Hooray! Maybe? I’m starting to worry about the summer. There are certainly a lot of challenges to remote learning but it has provided a structure to the weekdays. Yes, it’s sometimes chaotic and stressful, but it has given a definitive shape to our days where we can count on at least four or five hours to tag-team our day jobs.

How will we handle the transition from teachers to camp counselors? Camp Cul-de-Sac may not hold their attention for more than a week. Zoom canoeing seems…terrible. What then? There are only so many times I can sell washing the cars in their bathing suits as a fun activity.

I think we are going to seriously test the theory that curiosity and imagination blossom from boredom. I’m thinking one part free-range parenting, one part planned activity, one part Netflix, 6 parts grapefruit shandy (for me, not the kids). If they aren’t bleeding, it’s all good.

What are the rest of you thinking? Continue Reading

Race Recap: HMEA 5k 2020 Live Stream

When is a race not really a race? In the time of quarantine.

It might be a long time before we get back to live-action road races but last Sunday, I had the unique opportunity to race a 5k. Through a weird hiccup of circumstance, I actually won the HMEA 5k last year and when COVID forced this year’s fundraising event to go virtual, they invited the men’s (me) and women’s winner to run and be live streamed on Facebook as part of their fundraising day.

So how did it go? Continue Reading