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Breakfast for dinner (aka “brinner”) is one of my family’s favorites, and a great way to plan a vegetarian meal into the week.  We keep the formula pretty consistent, but vary the details a bit.  Breakfast for dinner is always a starch (waffles, pancakes, toast, or a quick bread like zucchini or banana), egg with vegetables and cheese (scrambled, omelet, quiche), and fruit salad.  As my friend Kristi recently taught me, if you are restricting (or eliminating) carbs, you can make your waffles, pancakes, etc. with almond or coconut flour.

Breakfast for dinner

On this night, we had pumpkin challah french toast, scrambled eggs with low-fat cheddar and baby spinach, and cantaloupe.  This french toast recipe is my all-time favorite– the bread is soaked in a bath of egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and a pureed vegetable (pumpkin in this instance).  The recipe originates from the Sneaky Chef, but instead of using her recipe for orange puree (which is a blend of carrot and sweet potato) I use whatever pureed orange vegetable I have in the freezer; (usually pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato).

To find out what we’re doing for dinner, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

It’s my day to be a patriot. I am at the Orange County Courthouse because I have been called for jury duty. I have been waiting for a little over an hour before being led to the small jury selection room. I am there with 39 other potential jurors. Eight of us will be picked…six jurors and two alternates.

Close to 11am: We sit tightly packed in as three lawyers enter the room.

If chosen, we will be hearing a case of a 3rd grader who claims to have been accosted and sexually abused in the boy’s bathroom by other kids. The parents are suing the Port Jervis School District. The incident occurred in 2004 and the young man is now 16. WOW!

Could I be impartial? Sex abuse is a topic we have written about in Hudson Valley Parent. I am sorry to report, that one in four girls are abused. And one in six boys.

I am lucky that I don’t know anyone involved in this trial…not the family, the school district, the psychologists, the teachers …and the list goes on.

Some of the jurors are excused. By the end of the jury selection 10 additional people will be excused. But I am still sitting tight. After all, this is my civic duty.

The lawyers ask the first six potential jurors if they understand the difference between a criminal trial and a civil one. I don’t have a clue. But no one speaks out. We are told that there is a difference in the level of proof. (Interesting but not terribly informative.)

First the prosecution attorney, who represents the family, asks the first six potential jurors questions. Then the defense attorney begins his questioning. It is slow going.  They ask questions like, “Can you be impartial?” When asked, some say, Yes,” others nod.  But in my estimation, how do we know if we can really be impartial? Especially for those of us who have never been in this situation before?

At some points during the process the attorneys leave the room to ask jurors questions privately. The rest of us sit staring forward waiting. The attorneys return.

At one point, one of the attorneys starts making jokes.  It is after 12 noon.  I am hungry and I don’t do well when I am hungry. This goes on for a while and I finally speak up. “Do you mind if we continue with the job at hand?”  I ask. The attorney turns and apologizes. “I am meeting all of you for the first time and I get nervous. So I use humor to break the ice.”  My thought:  If you are a defense attorney and are nervous in front of a new group, then maybe you are in the wrong business.

When the attorney’s leave for another powwow , the rest of the jurors look at me and some say, “I guess you won’t be chosen.”  They were probably right but we will never know because my name was never called.

It’s 3-1/2 hours since I arrived and I am being excused, not to be called for another six years.  I am ready for lunch.

Don’t know about you, but I have been sent a note to serve for jury duty three times, but yesterday was the first time I saw the inside of the Orange County Courthouse in Goshen.

9:40am: Wasn’t sure what to expect so I got there early. Good thing because the parking lot was packed.

I beeped going through the electronic screening, but the guard tells me it’s no big deal as they wave the wand over my body. (I wondered if this was a sign of things to come.)  The guard points to a room with about 180 plastic chairs all facing forward and only three other people have arrived before me.

10:05am: About 40 people showed up. We sit watching the USA Channel. A sitcom about terrorists. (Was this telling us something?) Finally Terry comes out and in a very loud and staccato voice introduces herself and says that the lawyers of the case are meeting with the judge. She presents an overview of what to expect and asks us to be patient. She collects our jury cards.

10:40am:  Terry returns. She pulls six names from one of those bingo-type ball cases. They are led away.

10:50am: We are told to line up and are lead into a small room with 3 rows of more plastic seats. We complete a one-page, 20- question form. You know the type: name, age, how long you lived in the area, your occupation. (You get the drill) And again we wait.

I have been in the courthouse for a little over an hour. I am not sure what I expected, but I didn’t feel particularly patriotic. After all, I was fulfilling my duty as an American. Early on, Terry mentioned that of the people sitting in the jury waiting room probably 70% of us have never served on a jury. She was wrong. Only three of the 40 served.

I remember my dad serving on a jury. Something to do with landlord – tenant problems. We were always the tenant. I don’t think my mom was ever called, and I think it strange that I was never curious as to why. Maybe it would have helped if this topic was discussed at the dinner table or if I had a better civics program in school.

Wouldn’t it be great to have judges and attorneys do scripted trials in schools. Students would be jurors and be told about the law. They would hand down sentences. A much better scenario, then me coming in cold to my first jury trial. It reminds me of having my first baby. The nurse places this newborn baby in my  arms and says (not out loud), “Go take care of this child for the next 20 years.” No training. Just go do it.

Tomorrow learn about the lawyers and the dance they do in the jury selection room.

I was talking about my summer camp experience the other day (it’s a story in our upcoming May issue), and how we’d go to a local public school and play dodgeball.  Then, I remembered how our children’s activities are slowly being reduced in the name of “safety.”  I think the game of dodging a ball thrown by an opponent has been banned from schools, and I think from camps unless they had medical professionals on the premises.  Or something like that.  And then this book comes across my desk, The Art of Roughhousing.  It’s written by a medical doctor and a psychologist, who have taken on this touchy subject.  They not only claim that roughhousing makes kids smart, they go so far as to say, “Play — especially active physical play, like roughhousing — makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” 

Roughhousing, they write, “activates many different parts of the body and the brain,” and then they go on to mention parts of the brain which are way too complicated for me type.  But to paraphrase, they say, it helps process emotions, builds eye-hand coordination, and can help kids learn to make high-level judgments.  Many parents, they say, especially Dads, put aside their natural tendencies to play rough and tumble with their kids, fearing that they’ll make them “wild, aggressive, and impulsive.” But, not true.  The animal kingdom is actually one of the writers’ biggest sources of information and statisitics, from the monkeys to the lions; they are creatures following their own instincts, without overthinking it.  They (the animals) are also not making new rules based on a few rotten monkeys in their part of the jungle who went too far, or one lion cub bully on the plains who played too mean.  They’d probably just eat them.       

But, overall, I like the book’s tone.  Like my Mom says, “everything in moderation,” OH, and with adult supervision.  TTYL, mj

We get so many interesting and thought-provoking books sent to us that from time to time, I’d like to mention one and then discuss.  Like my very own book club.  Feel free to write me with your suggestions of books that helped you put a hot topic in perspective at    

As I was driving along, an old song came on, one I’d classify as “Old School” and it immediately brought me back to when I was eight years old. The next song brought me to the days when I was a teenager. I was reminded just how many years have passed, and how “life is but a vapor.” That’s a phrase I’ve heard before, but today, it had new meaning, putting many things into perspective.

When you can look back and see decades behind you, it speaks to just how fast and how much more valuable our time here on Earth is. Every day we rise with a new chance to make it our best day ever, to set goals and reach for them, to be a better parent or to contribute meaningful engagements. Too often I hear people complain about life, but isn’t life really what you make of it? Do bad things happen? Absolutely they do, every day, to somebody, somewhere in the world. Most times we cannot change our situations but we sure can change how we respond to them. If someone has hurt your feelings, there is a way to move beyond it. If you were overlooked for that promotion, or you never get the appreciation from your spouse or children you crave, you don’t have to let it control you. You know your situation is controlling you when the things that “happen” to you dictates the kind of day you’re going to have.

Take back your control, choose how you will respond to life’s ebbs and flows because in the end… life is but a vapor.

This past week has been full of joy with the birth of a new baby, and sorrow with the passing of a mother.  Right here in the Hudson Valley we were rocked by news of the sudden passing of Kate Moore.  She was a wife, mother, daughter and beloved sister to a close friend of mine.  Generations of this family have grown up in Dutchess County and right now they are grieving this devastating loss. 

So many things have been running through my head the last few days since this hit so close to home for me.  I’m a young Hudson Valley mom myself and do plan on having more children and this has certainly scared me.    My friend Lindsay was Kate’s sister-in-law and during this tough time for her family, she has been tremendously strong.  She is a wonderful wife and mother to 3 beautiful children and a remarkable aunt to Charley and Maddy.  My heart goes out to the entire family. 

The Moore Family has an immense amount of love around them which is hopefully consoling them right now. Kate’s husband, Craig and two daughters, Charley and baby Maddy have a long road ahead of them but this community has opened their hearts in an outpouring of love and support.

If you would like to support The Moore Family please visit:  Book of Memories for Kate Moore at McHoul Funeral Home, Inc.

We recently got some Shrinky Dinks into our office. So I took them home and we played with them. One of our sales associates came over to join the fun. We remembered these from when our older kids were little and thought they were lots of fun. We wanted to see how they had improved on this cute little craft. You draw on it, cut it out and bake it. They shrink down to about ¼ of the size that they started out. They have different kinds of plastic now: clear, opaque and one you can color on both sides. Pretty cool, but nothing spectacular. Felice and I remembered the old ones coming with stencils. These just came with all kinds of instructions. More than I wanted to read, so I really only skimmed most of it. So….no stencils, use your imagination. I made really lame stuff but my 21 year old son came in and wanted a try. I now have a very cool batman symbol pin to wear. He made a 3D guitar that he put together. Very cool. You are limited only by your imagination and that of your child. On that happy note, the sky’s the limit so have fun.

I went to church with my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren. On the surface of it, that may not seem so unusual, but my daughter-in-law is Catholic and I am Jewish. Usually I go with them to the children’s service to see what the priest is introducing to all the young families who attend.

The family service was a 9am on Easter morning and the gym, where they held this service, was packed with moms and dads, and kids of all ages. The priest was really good about accepting the crying and talking that was swirling around the gym. He commended all the parents for getting their kids to such an early service. He also acknowledged that it takes some kids a while to settle down and that was okay. He was a breath of fresh air. Many clergy will try to speak over the noise rather than just accept it and embrace it.

He also mentioned the 50 days after Easter. He said this is a time to reflect on the rebirth of the earth and everything around us. The priest suggested that we use these days to take special joy in the goodness we see…like when someone does us a favor or even does something as simple as a nod hello.  Smile when you hear the sound of laughter.  Watch others as they visit the local park. Take in the sights and sounds as you walk down the street.

Relax and enjoy the beauty of the flowers that are about to burst through the winter’s crust.

It can be tricky to use produce before it becomes past its prime, and heaven knows most children (and plenty of adults) won’t eat a bruised piece of fruit, or less-than-crisp vegetable.  What’s a girl to do?

Less than desirable produce has a few options in our kitchen.  Vegetables get pureed or shredded, and blended into another dish, such as meatballs, pasta sauce, or meatloaf; or tossed into soup.  Fruit can go in the blender with some yogurt and become a smoothie, get diced and stirred into oatmeal, or become the star of the show.  If I’m ready to bake, I’ll take those slightly aged apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, peaches, pears, or really any fruit, and chop it up.  It spices up pancakes, waffles, muffins, or a quick bread.  If I’m not ready to bake, it’ll go into the freezer.  When I’m ready to use it, I’ll thaw it on the counter, or in the microwave.

A recent fruit revival

The banana bread is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to browned bananas, but there’s no reason to stop there.  On this day, I had a carton of strawberries getting mushy, so I used those as well.  It gave the bread even more moisture, and I had enough fruit to make two loaves, so one went into the freezer.

In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of applesauce and ¾ cup of sugar.  Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Blend in 1 cup (about 3 medium) mashed bananas and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Add in any other fruit you’d like, such as blueberries or strawberries; even a handful of chocolate chips.  In a second bowl, combine 2 cups of flour (use at least half whole-wheat pastry flour, no one will ever know!), 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp each baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredients into the banana mixture, mix only until moistened, and pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake 50-60 mins at 350, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Fresh fruit really jazzes up pancakes or waffles, so try mixing it into the batter the next time you’re making a weekend breakfast.  To find out what we’re doing with mature fruit at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I don’t know why I’m so resistant to cutting coupons.  Or maybe I do.  Back when I was a stay at home Mom, cutting coupons was something I did in the evenings to keep from snacking after everyone went to sleep.  My kids were asleep by 7 or so, and my husband, who had to get up at some ungodly hour, way before any human should have to get up for work, was out like a light by 8:30.  And, me, the night owl, needed to find a hobby.  And, so, since we only had one income, and I had time on my hands, my scissors and I went to work. 

I not only cut them out, but categorized them and filed them in a convenient coupon carrier.  It went with me everywhere — that is when I remembered to take it.  But once in the store, wagon at the ready, and my pocketbook strategically placed in the childless front seat (I never took my kids food shopping – it was torture for them most of the time, torture for me, so I went when Dad got home.)  And then began what was the most stressful hour of my day: coordinating the items on my list, versus the coupons I had, and then searching for the particular item, particular brand, and then particular size and flavor.  So, for example, “purchase five packages of orange-flavored Jello, 8 oz. size, and then go stand on your head.  Save 50 cents.”  Now, my family didn’t eat orange flavored jello, and I really didn’t notice the teeny-weeny fine print until I got to the jello aisle, and then with a great big “sigh,” purchased 5 boxes of a flavor my family would actually eat, and thus paid full price.  Fast forward to checkout.

I place all my items on the belt, pull out my collected coupons and dutifully hand them to the annoyed teen cashier, anticipating the big savings at the end.  But after the annoyed teen handed me back the outdated coupons, and the ones for items not purchased (making me feel like a criminal, like I’d actually plot to ruin my reputation by sneaking in a coupon saving 10 cents on an item not bought.)  And then only to find that the total saved was something like $8.  

So, as you can see, my initial experiences with coupon cutting were less than favorable, actually it was downright annoying, with the bottom line that it wasn’t worth the time and stress.  It’s now been, oh, about 15 years since I actually made it a point every week to cut coupons and have them ready for a scheduled trip to the supermarket.  With the onset of key fobs from the supermarkets which gave you instant savings, I was of the mindset that “coupons” would be a thing of the past.  But, rather, they are the RAGE now.  More and more websites are offering easy and more efficient ways of cutting and using coupons.  And I’m slowing being wooed back into that world I thought was gone forever.  I’m not entirely back in the fold yet, but I’d LOVE to hear your experiences with these coupon cutting sites, and if they are worth the time and effort.  In the meantime, I need to go and make up my supermarket list.  Have a great Saturday.  TTYL, mj

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