Sunday, March 31, 2013

Other stuff I wrote recently: Passover, April Fools' Day and more

It's Sunday night and that means I like to share what else I'm cluttering-up the Internets with lately:

I would also like to thank:
And last, I'm also documenting my daughter Kay's love-hate relationship with matzoh has it evolves from Day 1 through Day 8 of Passover, so if you haven't liked Random Handprints on Facebook, now is the perfect time!

Tomorrow I plan on pulling a good prank on my kids, celebrating the penultimate day of Passover, and planning for pizza and cupcakes come 8:07 pm Tuesday night. And you?

Friday, March 29, 2013

April Fools Day Fun - Easy Joke to Play on Your Kids

I actually got my kids good last year on April Fools Day.

With apple juice. More accurately fake apple juice.

I got them first thing in the morning. I told them to go in the family room and watch TV and I would make breakfast and call them in when it was ready.

Then I brought them all a glass of refreshing apple juice to enjoy while they were waiting for breakfast...

...and stood in the corner and watched as they slowly realized their juice was just apple-ly looking gelatin.

It was great.

The kids later claimed they should've none something was up when I told them to go watch some TV while I brought them a drink. Yes kids, you should've. But you didn't. HAPPY APRIL FOOLS' DAY!

Note: This prank inspired by Jelled Juice. I made mine with plain Knox unflavored gelatin and apple juice.

Now to think about something good for this year, who has a good (and easy) idea?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recipe: How to Make Perfect Homemade Matzo Balls

Making homemade matzo balls is really easy. Here's how:

Yield: 8 regular size or 6 big matzo balls

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup Manischewitz® Matzo Meal
2 tablespoons seltzer water
Itty-bitty pinch of salt

1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.

2. Add the vegetable oil, matzo meal and seltzer water and then mix all of the ingredients together at once - not one at a time.

3. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. A real 30 minutes.

4. While your matzoh ball mix is chillin' in the fridge, boil about 8 to 10 cups of water (approx. 2 quarts), or of chicken stock/soup/broth if that's how you'll be serving the matzo balls.

5. When the water (or chicken stock/soup/broth) is at a full rolling boil - a real rolling boil - it's ready for your matzoh balls. Wet your hands with a little water and form your chilled matzoh batter into balls, about the size of a walnut or a little larger.

6. Reduce the heat on the stove and gently plop the matzo balls into the pot. If you did not let the water truly boil first, your matzo balls will not poof correctly, so much sure you are patient and don't add them to the pot too soon.

7. Cover the pot tightly and let the matzo balls lull around in the water for at least 40 minutes - a real 40 minutes. You can't really over-cook matzo balls, but I've learned the hard way you can under-cook them. So be patient!

8. That's it! If you're serving in soup, which I think is pretty much the only way to eat matzo balls, either heat them in chicken soup/stock/broth instead of water in the initial preparation in Steps 4 and 5 above, or reheat them by simmering in soup before serving.

A few hints:
1. Do not double the recipe. I'm not sure why you can't but it doesn't work. If you need to make lotsa matzo balls, just make it twice using two separate bowls, than boil in two separate pots.

2. While you can make matzoh balls ahead of time and freeze, I don't. Too many issues, and too complicated to do it right. Instead, I make the matzo balls up to two days before I want to eat them, and just store them in liquid (chicken stock or broth works best) in the refrigerator.

3. Make sure you use plain seltzer, flavored seltzer doesn't work. Also, plain seltzer sells-out all the time before Passover - buy it early!

4. I make my matzo balls with just a tiny pinch of salt because that's how I roll. You may want to add more than that when you're making them if you are a more salty kinda person.

5. This recipe is for fluffy matzoh balls, not the dense "golf ball" ones.

Note: This version is adapted from the recipe on the side of the Manischewitz® Matzo Meal canister.

I was not compensated for this post, just sharing my love of a good matzo ball.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chag Sameach! Happy Passover!

Two-fisting the matzoh.
We celebrated Passover last night with our traditional abbreviated Seder, which my kids still think is too long. I can't wait for their first visit to a friend's house during college when they finally experience what a real Seder is like.
And while I will always be a fan of our shortened style, I do feel a little badly that we skipped all of the songs this year. And that for the first time in as long as I can remember my matzoh balls didn't turn out quite right. Oh well.

Minor technical difficulties aside, it was a wonderful night. The kids loved helping with the Seder plate which we always fashion a homemade shank bone for, and add an orange for girl power. Only one of our guests could correctly identify why the orange was on the Seder plate, which honestly was one more than I had guessed would know.

We had a festival meal, delicious wine, and the annual teasing of my nine-year-old about if she would be going to the ER this year (she made a Passover trip to the hospital when she was two to sew up a busted lip, and we predicted correctly then she would now hear about this for every Passover forever).

Afikomen was hidden, and found.

And then dessert: Marshmallow twists, which were dubbed Passover Mallomars:

Now, eight days of Passover cereal and matzoh sandwiches, and next year in Jerusalem. Or in Jersey, but with more singing and better matzoh balls.

Chag Sameach!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mother-Daughter "Matzoh Manicure" Fun with Sally Hansen!

Sunday nights at our house I'm all about getting ready for the week ahead. Kids rooms picked-up at least a little bit, backpacks emptied of papers, important or otherwise, and clothes washed by me but put away by the smaller set.

Then, once the chores part of our evening is over, my daughters and I - and my three-year-old son if he wants to join the fun - have our weekly manicures. My girls love to pick fun, bright colors and when possible have their nails match what's happening that week.

Last week, of course, had to be sparkly green for St. Patrick's Day.

So when I had an opportunity from Collective Bias to try out Sally Hansen nail products, I knew this was something that would be perfect for my daughters and me to try out our latest nail art ideas.

For this week, we have a couple of good choices. One idea was frosty white, because even though it's officially spring, we've got a forecast for snow. Another was to do a Passover theme, since we'll be celebrating this holiday for eight nights starting Monday night.

My girls liked the idea of painting the ten plagues, but that was a little complicated for my limited nail art abilities.

We finally decided on a brown and white pattern for a fun holiday matzoh manicure!

We thought we would do it using a brown base coat (the exact shade is Forbidden Fudge) and a white crackle top coat (named perfectly given the weather, Snow Blast),

but as it turned out the crackle effect wasn't as matzoh-y as we thought it would be, so we went back and did our nails instead with a white base coat topped with brown flecks added by hand for a fun, more modern matzoh-y look. We all loved it, and our nails are ready for Passover celebrations.

We purchased the items we used for this I Heart Nail Art project from, as well as from my local Walgreens store. Shopping at Walgreens online is so easy, and there's even free shipping for purchases of $25 or more.

And until March 30, 2013, all Sally Hansen Insta Dri products are buy one get one free. Sally Hansen also has lots of Runway-inspired ideas like I Heart Nail Art - Animal Instinct on

Do you paint your nails for holidays like St. Patrick's Day and Passover? Please share your nail art ideas, my daughters and I are always looking for something fun to try next!

To connect with Sally Hansen like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @SallyHansen.
To connect with Walgreens like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @Walgreens.

For more photos from my shop, check out my Google+ Album. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram at #IHeartMyNailArt.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®and COTY. #CBias #SocialFabric.

All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Good and the Bad on Pinterest and the Winners of the Book "I Just Want to Pee Alone"

Huge thanks to everyone who entered to win a copy of the book I Just Want to Pee Alone!

I loved reading your stories of Pinterest success and failure, and it's good -really good - to know I'm not the only one who often finds my Pin-reality falls short of my original Pin-spiration.

Here are the five book winners and their Pinterest tale:

Di: I tried, and failed, to recreate a "sock bun." I mean, what the heck could I mess that up, right! But alas, I did and my hair fell. Beautiful!

Monica: I've watched many Pinterest tutorials on curling hair with a flat iron. I can't do it!

Kathy: We tried making these SWAPS that look like cupcakes that we found on Pinterest but clearly I was doing something wrong because they came out a big gross glue mess.

Amanda: The best AND worst thing I ever tried from Pinterest was a 3 tier fondant covered Mickey Mouse cake. It was a 6 hour nightmare, cute but a complete nightmare. I will never make anything like that again. I wanted to smack the person who made Pinterest that day.

Jenny: My worst was this Dr. Seuss thing called Oobleck. It's this gooey play-stuff from mixing corn starch and water. Mine turned into disgusting soup and then hardened in a big chunk.

Thanks to everyone for entering and sharing your hilarious stories of Pinterest gone wrong!

Winners: Please email me at and let me know if you'd like a signed paper copy or a digital copy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Photos from our Family Vacation to Ireland

Thanks to my brother Ethan for letting me lift these photos from his blog, American Vernacular Landscapes.

All photos taken 12 years ago next month, which seems like a very long time ago but also sorta like it was just yesterday.

If these pictures look familiar, it's because I also posted them last year.

For more St. Patrick's Day posts from the Random Handprints archives, click here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Last Week's Funniest Tweets... According to Me

Thanks very much to HuffPo for featuring my Curious George tweet in their roundup of the Best Parenting Tweets last week.

It inspired me to share some of my own favorite tweets, parenting theme not required.

My brother, of American Vernacular Landscapes, and dad to a 15-month-old:

Jessica of FourPlusAnAngel, whose family clearly is enjoying the clock change as much as mine:

Amber of Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, on husbands at the grocery store:

I'm late hopping on the Honest Toddler bandwagon, but I'm glad I'm finally there:

And last but not least, this from Sarah Silverman (on Facebook, not Twitter, but close enough)
"CURTIS FINCH JUNIOR is a viable argument that God exists and is good."
For those (i.e., my mom) who don't know who Curtis Finch Junior is, he's a contestant on American Idol. And he's awesome.

Know a funny Twitter account? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Enter to Win One of Five Signed Copies of "I Just Want to Pee Alone" - The Funniest Book Ever About Being a Mom! {Giveaway now closed}

{Giveaway now closed.}

As I mentioned earlier this week, I am one of the contributors to I Just Want to Pee Alone, the funniest book ever about being a mom -- and I'm not saying that because, uh, I'm one of the contributors. The book really is hilarious. But you don't need to trust me, read the reviews of I Just Want to Pee Alone on Amazon here.

There are thirty-seven hilarious essays from  mom bloggers included in the book, which when arranged not in alphabetical order but in pyramid order, looks like this (Thank you Baby Sideburns for this perfect solution for sharing all the contributors in a way that is so fair, even toddler twins couldn't find complaint.)


In honor of I Just Want to Pee Alone holding down the #1 spot in the Humor category on both Amazon and iTunes, I'm giving away five signed copies of the book - winner's choice of paper copy (emblazoned with my signature as well as those of Kim of the Fordeville Diaries, Kim of Let Me Start By Saying and Amy of Amy's Real Life.) Or if you don't want our awesome autographs, you can choose to get the book via Kindle download, too.

My essay is entitled: A Pinterest-Perfect Mom, I Am Not. You probably already figured this out from the title, but my chapter looks at a Pinterest project at my house that goes very, very wrong.

To enter to win a copy of the book, just leave a comment with the best or worst thing you've ever tried to craft, create or bake or share the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen on Pinterest.

For three additional entries leave a comment that you did the following, or that you already:
Good luck! Enter now! Giveaway closes on Wednesday, March 20 at 10:00pm EST.

I'll announce the winners here on Thursday, March 21! WINNERS ANNOUNCED TOMORROW

Giveaway small print: Contest open to U.S. residents age 18 and over. Contest ends at 10:00pm EST, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Winners will be randomly selected via and announced here. Winners must email Anna ( to claim their prize or entrants must provide contact information in their comment, and Anna will contact them. If winner does not respond within forty-eight hours, a new winner will be selected.  I was not compensated for this post or for promoting this giveaway.

For more information and full giveaway rules, please contact

Good luck and happy reading!

For more about I Just Want to Pee Alone, click here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Instructions for my husband: you don't need to buy "easy to peel" clementines

What sort of marketing bullshit did you get taken in by at the grocery store today?

What are you going to come home with tomorrow, magic beans?

What exactly do you think makes an "easy to peel" clementine different from a "regular" clementine?

And to begin at the beginning, how long have you been secretly thinking every time you tried to enjoy a sweet piece of citrus fruit, "Dammit, this clementine is impossible to peel. If only there were clementines that I could peel with more ease, perhaps such a thing exists only in my dreams."

As far as I know, clementines are all the same in terms of peel-ease, and let's face it, I'm not sure how much easier they could be made to peel. They're not surrounded by barbed-wire or rows of tiny shark teeth. It's not like peeling a Clementine takes a lot of strength or endurance, nor are there any other difficult side effects, say like one might find when taking on the difficult task of peeling an onion.

In fact, I'd say marketing "easy to peel" clementines is pretty much just another step towards the final lazification of civilization, the slippery slope of which Ellen DeGeneres pointed out years ago:

"We're just so lazy. We used to have breath mints. Now we have breath strips that just dissolve on our tongue. Can we not suck anymore?"

So no, the world - and our family - does not need "easy to peel" clementines.

At least that's my take on it. Wendi Aarons of course would be the first in line to get some of these newfangled clementines, located in the produce aisle directly across from the gluten-free strawberries.

This is the thirtiest instruction in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

Have an instruction for your other half? Email me at and be a guest instructor.

More of the same on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest - don't miss it; join us!

Lemon-Lime Pudding Recipe from my Irish Grandma

My Irish grandma was as my mom so nicely put it "a dreadful cook," but she did make delicious Lemon-Lime Pudding. And even though it's not green, or Irish, I'm making it in her honor for St. Patrick's Day.

Here's my family recipe, which if you like this version, is similar to Lori Longbotham's My Favorite Lemon Pudding.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature

  • Directions:
    1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch.
    2. Add the milk slowly, mixing until smooth.
    3. Add the egg yolks and the lemon and lime zest, and continue to stir over medium heat. As the pudding warms, it will thicken.
    4. When it is no longer liquid and has become pudding consistency, remove the pan from heat and quickly mix in the lemon and lime juice and the cooled butter.
    5. Pour it all through a strainer and let it cool until it is room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours until it sets.
    Pudding will stay good for up to three days in the refrigerator, but let's be honest: this is an eat-it-all-in-one-sitting kind of dessert. Enjoy!

    What's your favorite St. Patrick's Day recipe?

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    What I Wrote Recently and... I'm in a Book!

    I've written about a lot of fun stuff lately.

    For New Jersey Family magazine I wrote about where to find Easter Bunnies all over New JerseyPi Day (it's March 14, get it?), and Leprechaun Tricks you can play on your kids for St. Patrick's Day.

    And for Barista Kids, I checked out Grug, an amazing kids show in Manhattan, as well as two new exhibits at the Liberty Science Center.

    I also survived four playdates, 3 half-days of school, and two school conferences. Oh, and a surprise snow storm.

    And yet... I've saved the biggest news for last. I'm in a book! A best-selling book!

    Here we are hanging out on iTunes right behind the lovely Tina Fey.

    My essay is in an anthology of funny stories about motherhood, I Just Want to Pee Alone, put together by Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

    You can read more about the book here, as well as how to order I Just Want to Pee Alone online.
    Later this week I'll be having a book giveaway, too. Because you know you want to read this book.

    This week, we've got the aftermath of the time change, but other than that I'm hoping for spring weather and good times ahead, even if I don't know where we're going.

    Have a great week everyone!

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    Fun for Kids in NYC: "Grug" at The New Victory Theater

    On a cold Thursday morning a week or so ago, my three-year-old son Ziggy and I decided to break from our daily routine of going to Target in the morning and sitting around the house in the afternoon and go into New York City to see Grug at The New Victory Theatre.
    To be honest, at first Ziggy was completely uninterested in the idea of a trip to Manhattan, despite me breaking down the multiple fun parts of the trip. We get to take the train! And the subway! And see a show! With crafts before it starts!
    Luckily, Ziggy was willing to give it a try and he loved everything about the day from handing the conductor our ticket on the train, to ducking under the turnstile in the subway station.
    At the show, after ignoring all the grown-ups and kids taking part in the craft beforehand, and making me worry that I could take the boy out of Target, but not Target out of the boy, he was totally into the show once it began. And even now, days after we saw the performance, he still talks about it.
    And I still talk about how the nosy New Yorker inquired about where his coat was, asking "Aren't you cold?" to which Ziggy replied, "Nope, I have an invisible coat! And an invisible gloves! And an invisible hat!"
    I may just turn him into a New Yorker yet.

    For a full review of the show, which is totally awesome, visit for Grug: A Perfect NYC Show for Little Ones.
    I'm inspired to take Ziggy on additional cultural outings like this, because even though we both like our lazy suburban lifestyle, there's more to life than trips to Target, and occasionally, Whole Foods. And he should know this.
    Grug is part of the programming from The New Victory Theater and is being performed at the New 42nd Street Studios, Studio 3A-B, 229 W 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. Performances are Thursday-Sunday, and the show ends its run on Sunday, March 17.

    For a full list of show dates and times, click here. Tickets are $20; $14 for members.
    I received review tickets to the show; neither my opinions or my son's were influenced.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Finding the Funny - March Edition

    Welcome to March's Finding the Funny!

    Meet the Hosts

    Anna @ My Life and Kids
    Kelley @ Kelley's Break Room
    Robyn @ Hollow Tree Ventures
    Kerry @ HouseTalkN
    Keesha @ Mom's New Stage
    Meredith @ The Mom of the Year
    Toulouse @ Toulouse and Tonic
    Anna @ Random Handprints (that's me!)

    And welcome to our new hosts!

    Julie @ I Like Beer and Babies
    Ellen and Erin @ Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    The Rules

    Link up an old or new funny post. Link up as many times as you want (we're serious.) The party is open until Friday at midnight. The earlier you link up, the more clicks you'll get.

    Click around and meet the other funny bloggers that are linking up.

    Follow the Finding the Funny Pinterest board. We'll all be pinning our favorites throughout the month.

    We don't ask you to link back to us or include a button on your blog, but we do ask you to send out a tweet or post about the party on your Facebook page. Be sure to use #findingthefunny.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Hungarian Goulash - My Grandma's Recipe

    My mom and I have started cooking together lately, which is nice but not quite as nice as when my children were younger and she would bring me ready-made meals for the week.

    Our latest joint-cook was to make Grandma Rose's Hungarian Goulash, a family favorite. Here's the recipe, easy enough if you're a semi-beginner cook like myself.

    1-2 lbs beef chuck cut into 1.5 inch cubes
    Yellow onions chopped (use the same weight as the beef chuck)
    1 cup catsup
    3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    Dash of garlic powder
    Drop of Tabasco
    3 tsp Hungarian paprika
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1 Tbsp brown sugar
    Salt and pepper to taste

    1. Brown meat in a small amount of rendered fat. Set meat aside. Saute
    onions until tender in same pot.

    2. In a bowl mix the remaining ingredients - catsup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, Tabasco, Hungarian Paprika, vinegar, brown sugar and salt and pepper.

    3. Add mixture to the pot with the meat and onions. Add just enough water to cover the meat.
    4. Simmer for two hours.

    5. Serve over egg noddles and garnish with flat parsley (optional).

    Eat, enjoy and remember the Old Country!

    Do you have a favorite family recipe?

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

    Fun for Kids in NJ: The Big Apple Circus is in Bridgewater through Sunday, March 17

    It's hard to say who loves the circus more, my kids (or me). So we welcomed the chance to see the Big Apple Circus, currently showing under the Big Top in Bridgewater, NJ through Sunday, March 17.

    We had seen the Big Apple Circus' Dream Big tour in Manhattan last year, and so I knew my kids  (ages 3, 7 and 9) would love the chance to see the new show, Legendarium: A Journey into Circus Past.

    Legendarium is all new-for the 35th season of the Big Apple Circus, and hearkens back to the early days of the circus with lots of old-school tributes to yesteryear. Glorious costumes, amazing feats, and of course some clowning-around all add-up to a fantastic experience for all ages.

    My kids couldn't really choose a favorite act, but when forced to choose my two daughters both thought that Elayne Kramer was the best one. Performing since she was seven, and practicing contortion since she was four, she is a six-generation circus performer. She gave a truly spellbinding performance, and left us wondering over and over again, how did she do that?

    The Big Apple Circus is a single-ring circus, with all seating within 50 feet of the performers, so it is perfect for kids. There are amazing feats of human skill, highlights for us were an acrobat, the contortionist mentioned above, and an incredible bicycle troupe from China, all which mesmerized my kids (and me).

    Also very popular with my kids (and me) were the animal acts. In keeping with the Legendarium theme of yesteryear, the dog performance was set in Victorian-era Central Park and it was delightful.  All of the dogs featured were rescues from shelters, which adds an additional heartwarming aspect to the story.

    And of course, no visit to the circus would be complete without cotton candy, it's hard to say who likes it more: my kids (or me).

    Big Apple Circus presents Legendairum at Bridgewater's TD Bank Ballpark through Sunday, Marcy 17, 2013. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

    Performance runs two hours with one intermission. All ages, but best for 3 and older.

    Next stops on the Big Apple Circus tour are Boston and Queens.

    We received tickets to the press performance. Neither the opinions of my kids (or me) were influenced, and opinions here are all our own.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Easter Crafts with Duck Tape

     A re-publish from last year, because nothing says Happy Easter! like Duck Tape covered eggs.
    Last year we covered plain ol' plastic eggs

    with Duck Tape for this happy result:

    To make these yourself, all you need to do is take plastic eggs and cover them with Duck Tape. You can overlap the tape a bit for texture and patterns, and that's it!

    Of course, once covered you can't open the eggs so this is not a project for kids hoping for surprises in the eggs. This project is strictly for decorative purposes only.

    And I do think it's turns out very decorative.

    Looking for some more projects with Duck Brand duct tape? Here are a few more Easter projects using Duck Tape:

    - Duck Tape Easter Basket (great directions for the basket and how to make grass, too)
    - Duck Tape Hair Bows and Duck Tape Hairbands (very easy to follow how-to videos)
    - Duck Tape Easter Bonnet (requires fabric and more effort than I'm gonna guess most of us are capable of, but still very cool)

    And for lots and lots more ideas, visit my Duck Tape Awesomeness board on Pinterest!

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