Snickers Caramel Apple Salad from Chef in Training

apple snickers salad

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad is a super sweet and awesome simple dessert that I learned about on Pinterest from Chef in Training website.  It didn’t take much, right from the start, they had me at Snickers…

The ingredients are simple. Preparation is a breeze.  And when I served it, I had no leftovers.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 6 Snickers Bars (full size)
  • 4 Medium Apples -I used either Golden Delicious or Granny Smith.  I know they were green or yellow, but not red–whole lot of help I am…The Chef used Red Delicious
  • 1-5 oz package of Instant Vanilla Pudding mix
  • 1-16 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed to room temperature
  • Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • 1/2 cup milk

As instructed by the Chef in Training, in a large bowl, whisk the pudding, milk  and Cool Whip together until combined.  Chop up the apples and Snickers bars to bite sized pieces.  Keep some of the snickers aside for decoration on the top, maybe a handful or so.

In my excitement, I made the rookie mistake of adding all of the Snickers.  So, my photograph is much less snazzy than the others that you’ll find on the internet with the Snickers on top.  All I had left was the caramel, so I did the best I could.

Stir the apples and most of the Snickers into the pudding and Cool Whip mixture.  Please, learn from my mistakes.  Drizzle with caramel topping and remaining Snickers pieces.  Chill for an hour before serving.


Jill signature



A Red Washcloth…source unknown

red-wash-cloth-canstockphoto21107440Last week, my daughter sustained a burn on her hand from sticking it in the wheel of our wagon.  See my last blog post, The Plastic Bag Trick.  This event led to a conversation on the subject of first aid with my friend, Jen.  My friend offered this little tip, although she couldn’t remember the source.  We both absolutely remember that it was neither one of us.  And Jen doesn’t have a blog, so it’s not like I’m poaching her content or anything like that.

The unknown, yet savvy source suggested adding a few red washcloths to your towel collection.  Then, the next time one of your children has an injury with a little blood, it will blend with the red cloth.  A white washcloth with red blood on it can be jarring for a young child, so in this case that image is no more.  This tactic can also be employed with squeamish husbands and wives or other loved ones.

I thought the red washcloth was a pretty smart idea.  I wonder if it was the same person whose idea it was to make the last few tissues in the Kleenex box beige so that you’d know you were running out–ingenious.

Now, I know this is stating the obvious, because my readers are a bunch of smarty smart folks.  But here I go anyway and I will italicize for effect.

***The red washcloth is not a first aid device.  This post is in no way, shape or form medical advice or a substitute for medical advice.  Please take your injured children to the doctor.  This is just a mommy tip.

Jill signature


Don’t worry, I’m disappointed in me too!


It is 49 minutes before day’s end as I sit here at my keyboard.  And I feel like I’ve let you down.  I am not sure I will publish this before day’s end.  I pride myself upon being “in the know.”  Being on the cutting edge. And absolutely in the loop–a real mover and a shaker.  Just in case you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm here, actual movers and shakers just move and shake, they don’t run around talking about it.

Anyhow.  I dropped the ball.  The past few days have been a bit chaotic, more than my typical life in a blender.  (and I’m  not a referring to a margarita blender –again, because that would actually be kind of cool).

I was driving home about 15 minutes ago, when I heard on the radio that today was National Lasagna Day.

Really??? I thought to myself.  First, I was stunned that National Lasagna Day would occur in the summer.  It just doesn’t seem to fit the picture in my head.  Sitting outside in shorts and flip flops on the patio your patio, enjoying the summer weather, sipping a cool refreshing drink in the summer heat and eating lasagna?  A respectable Italian lasagna would make a mockery of your average plastic summer plates.

I wonder, are all the other “National Whatever You Want to Honor Days” taken?  Am I missing something?  Is today the birthday of the inventor of Lasagna?  Then it would make sense to me.  Because I can’t wrap my head around the idea that all of the winter or fall days, when lasagna would really hit the spot, were already occupied by some other holiday.

And by the way, how does something get to be a National day?  Who do you go to to apply for such a thing?  I mean, I know where to go get a passport, but if I wanted to start National Peeps Week–don’t you dare act like you’re surprised–where would I submit the paperwork?

I digress.  My real point in running to my computer as soon as I got home was to say Never Again!   Next year, I will celebrate National Lasagna Day, and I will subject you to reading about it.  I can’t tell you whether it will be meat lasagna, vegetable lasagna or what I will have in store for you.  Let’s just say, I’m living in the moment.

Jill signature



***Am I the only one who thinks it a little odd that there is a cherry tomato posing on top of my lasagna image with a leaf of basil laying next to it?

The Plastic Bag Trick


The other day, in an effort to stop the movement of her wagon, my daughter Giuliana stuck her hand inside its wheel and ended up with a decent sized burn on her left hand.  My husband and I have done our best to keep the wound wrapped and protected as directed by our pediatrician.  In the meantime, my daughter has continued playing and mixing it up with her brother Charlie like a trooper.

Last night, at bath time, Giuliana began to resist getting into the tub.    When we asked “Why,” she said that she didn’t want to get her hand wet.

I understood, or at least, thought I did.  I thought that maybe the water hurt her wound and told her that I had a plan.  We headed to the kitchen where I took out a plastic bag and asked for my daughter’s hand.  Giuliana approved of my methods, and confidently offered me her hand….her uninjured hand.

At this point, feeling like she’s been through enough, I let her be the boss.  I wrapped my daughter’s good hand in the bag, tied a knot.  Victoriously, she turned and marched to the bathtub looking like a surgeon holding up two sterile hands.  She climbed into the water.  One bath, two dry hands.

Oh well.

Jill signature

On Friday nights, they have a guy who makes Balloon Animals…


On Friday nights, a local chain restaurant hosts a man who makes balloon animals in their dining room.  A relative suggested we check it out.  Sure, I thought.  Balloons animals.  That sounds like fun.  We packed up and headed to the restaurant.

We were a few minutes early.  Really, I should be writing about how we pulled that off, but let’s leave that topic for a different day.

As we waited in the parking lot in our family mobile, I could not believe what I was seeing.  People were exiting the restaurant carrying unbelievable balloon creations.  Not just balloon animals, these were works of art.

From my car, I saw monkeys hanging on palm trees and bananas, rainbows and flowers that were at least 4 feet tall.  As a child, I had seen balloon animals, but they were mostly four legged animals.  Dogs and giraffes…pretty basic stuff.

With much respect for the balloon animal creators of my youth, I must say that even the simplicity of a balloon dog is way beyond my own ability.  My expertise is limited to filling balloons with water and running around the yard tossing them at each other.  Ask me for a balloon animal, and I’ll give you one.  You just have to decide whether it’s a worm or a snake.

We went into the restaurant and barely contained the children enough to order our meals.  The kids were craning their necks to see the young man furiously making things like giant 5 color rainbows, mermaids and Ninja Turtles.  As a little girl who knows her mind, my daughter decided what she wanted.  She told me.  She told everyone at the table.

I was a little apprehensive.  It sounded like a big ask, and I wondered if it was even part of the man’s repertoire.  This was all new to me. I tried to buffer what I thought might be sure disappointment by suggesting that she might have to choose something else.  But we would certainly ask.

We waited our turn as the children stared, mesmerized by the cheerful man with the balloons.  As we approached the front of the line, my daughter softly conveyed her request to the man.  I stood near her, tempering what seemed to me like a lofty goal, by sheepishly asking, ”Do you even make that?”

“Sure I do.” The enthusiastic balloon maker chirped as he immediately got busy twisting and building.

Balloon animals have come a long way, haven’t they?


Minnie Mouse Balloon Animal


Now I wonder what the life expectancy for this little beauty is…I may not be cooking dinner next Friday night.

Jill signature

Peep Week continues with a Chocolate Peep Shake Recipe…sort of…

yummy-2What do you get when you combine 5 marshmallow Peeps, a couple scoops of chocolate ice cream and a generous splash of milk?  You get a yummy Chocolate Peep Shake–it is a wonderful marriage of chocolatey goodness and creamy peepness. Hey, it is Peep Week, I’m allowed to make up Peep words too!

Adapted from a few recipes I found online, this shake is super simple because at 10:15 pm complicated is absolutely off limits. Consider yourself warned that I made this milkshake the same way I make my meatballs, by sight and taste. It is not easy to pass on a recipe, but the meatballs are great!

First, put 5 marshmallow Peeps on a cookie sheet and place them under your oven broiler for 1-2 minutes until they are toasted. I actually burned the tips of the blue Peeps I chose, but they worked well anyway. Let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Put the Peeps into the blender, followed by a 2-3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. Add a splash of milk and blend for a minute or so until it is mixed together and a creamy texture. Pour the mixture into your favorite glass, top with a Peep and enjoy!

Jill signature



PS. As you might be imagining, Peep Week is dwindling faster than my huge stack of Peeps…

That day, my word was more important than my wallet…

One day in early April, I was preparing for a conference where I would show my merchandise.  A totally new experience for me, I needed to assemble shelves and other items to display my cuddly treasures.  As with any of my weekday adventures, my children were in tow. 

Riding in the stroller like a pair of champs, I dragged my kids through store after store.  Overall, they were pretty patient as I wrapped it up in our final stop.  As we navigated the aisles, my daughter mentioned Peeps.  I felt an immediate sense of pride in my daughter.  It was the pride a parent feels when his or her children carry on a tradition, and I smiled immediately for my brainwashing success.  My children know what Peeps are!

I had not seen exactly what my daughter was talking about, so I asked the kind of basic questions that you would ask a toddler and arrived at the obvious conclusion that she wanted the box of Peeps.  It seemed like a no brainer.  “Of course you can have the Peeps,” I said.  “If you can show me where they are before we leave, I will get you the Peeps.”

 We continued on our way, gathering what I needed.  As I finished my shopping, I wanted to honor my word, and buy the Peeps that I had promised.   I pushed the stroller through the aisles, asking my daughter where she had seen them.  Eventually we arrived in an area with candy, and I saw the unexpected.  It was a giant box of Peeps with a rainbow assortment of the fluffy marshmallow chicks—six colors in total.  It was a sixteen dollar box of Peeps—I had no idea such a thing existed.  But, I decided that a promise was a promise.


Jill signature

Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a workout for my children???



So, it was Saturday and my arms, especially my triceps, had that familiar sore feeling that you get from a recent workout.  I did have a workout, I just didn’t know it was coming.

I was tired of keeping my children captive in the house all winter, and confident that flu season was nearly over, so I summoned up my bravery to take them to our local bounce place.  You know the place, a primary colored wonderland, filled with giant inflatables for jumping and sliding.

If you’re asking yourself why I needed bravery, I’ll tell you.  Twin toddlers are like a big bag of marbles.  Take them somewhere without the stroller, let ‘em go and they scatter like marbles.  Containment is laughable, and it brings out in me a woman with whom I am intimately familiar—the crazy twin mom.  The crazy twin mom is the overwhelmed version of a mom who gets look that range from admiration to pity from bystanders who make comments like, “you’ve got your hands full,”  “double trouble,” and a whole litany of other words that really don’t help.

Needless to say, I wasn’t interested in being the crazy twin mom at the bounce place.  In truth, I never am.  If I can bring a relative or friend for reinforcement, I will.  But this time, if I wanted to go, I had to go it alone.

I created a buzz with the kids in the early morning.  I kept asking “who wants to go to a fun place?”  In true toddler fashion, I was met by a chorus of “me” “me” all morning.  I was eager too, taking the kids to new places and watching them have fun is awesome for me too.

I was confident we could have a great day when we entered the lobby and the kids were already excited.  They climbed on and checked things out while I hurriedly signed the waivers.  (Note to self—Next time, download, fill out and actually read the waivers from the bounce place to avoid chaos in the lobby.)

As we walked into bounce room 1, I could hear the buzzing motors of the giant inflatables, and apparently so could my children, because they clung to me with fear.  We took off our shoes and proceeded toward the bounce houses.  With a near 40 pound child on each hip, I tried to encourage the children to loosen their grips from me and have some of that fun that I was chirping on about all morning.  They weren’t having it.

I put each reluctant child into the first bounce house, assuring them I was not far behind.  The review was a solid NO.  I took them to the second bounce house and I even jumped around to show them what it was all about, but this one was just as much a dud as the first.

Then I saw what would be the bounce place salvation and my source of exhaustion—a slide.  When I asked, both kids animatedly agreed to go on the slide.  Massive air filled bounce houses may be foreign, but slides, they know.  As a newbie to all things bounce, it totally freaked me out to see how high my kids and I were going to have to climb to get to the top of the slide.  I kept my anxiety to myself.

I hoisted my son up the wall, remembering his lighter times.  On my tippy toes, I wasn’t tall enough to get him to the top and on our first effort, I had to bring him down, regroup and start over.  My second try got him to the last foot peg, and he was able to pull himself up from there.  Charlie fearfully sat atop the climb wall and waited for his sister and mom.  Giuliana, (see also the crib ninja) was a bit more skilled and assisted me in getting to the top by putting her feet on the pegs and climbing a little.  I still wrangled and stretched to help her to the top.

Then it was my turn.  Not a big climber, I made it to the top with a moderate effort, praying the entire time that the combination of my socks and the slippery surface did not send me sliding down the wall to land on someone else’s child.  The ways I see it, it is inevitable that children injure other children in the course of play, but a grown adult falling on a child—that’s a whole different batch of shame.

I make it to the top, and the three of us joyfully slid down.  I was elated that Charlie and Giuliana felt confident and safe enough to go down the slide independently.  The unexpected consequences of this new found autonomy was that I got caught in a cycle of hoisting children to the top of the climb wall.  This was where the crazy twin mom emerged.  Naively I tried several times to climb down and take pictures of my giggling children, like the singleton parents seemed to be doing with ease.  But, every time I stepped off the 2 foot step to the wall, one of my children was rounding the corner shouting “again, again” and it was time for me to get on my tippy toes and deliver them to the slide.

I kept this pace up for about a half an hour, constantly lifting my children to their perch atop the climb wall, my only break came when another child chose the slide.  It was a slow day at the bounce place, so resting periods were rare.  After a bit, we headed into the second room with a slide and obstacle course and at the end, I was one sweaty, disheveled and well worked out mom.  And thus, my well earned sore triceps three days later.  And yes, I can’t wait ‘til we go back!

Jill signature



P.S.  Here are my best pictures!


Yes, Santa…I’ve got some explaining to do


This Christmas was the first Christmas where my children were aware of the whole “Santa brings the toys” phenomenon.  If I am being honest, it may have been lost on them, were it not for my campaign to make Santa a key player this holiday season. I played Christmas specials a few times a week, told them that Santa’s bringing toys and pointed him out to them as we passed every 5 foot inflatable lawn Santa.

Little by little, it began to sink in and they seemed to understand that Santa was coming to our home.  If you asked them “who was coming,” they’d chirp, “Santa!”  Follow up with “what does Santa bring?” and they’d shout out “toys,” like anxious contestants on a game show.

I was excited.  As a mom, I want them to Believe.  I want them to believe in possibilities, in magical and exciting things.  I was totally diggin’ it…or so I thought.

I thought I was fine with the idea that Santa got all the credit, and my husband and I were saddled with the assembly and receipts.  Really, it’s the natural order of things where Santa’s concerned.  Like my father before me applying sticker after sticker on my three foot Barbie Dream Camper– my dream, but a total nightmare for my Dad.

I thought I was fine with the Santa situation.  My analytic mind says I’ve got little aggression toward Santa.  Here’s why.

As I was applying sticker after sticker on our kids’ pretend kitchen, my son handed me a box of train tracks he had opened on Christmas morning.  He was pointing to a bridge that was additional, and not included, a toy company practice which is a little cruel for a toddler if you ask me.  Is he really out of line to expect that if something’s on the box, it would have been in the box?  But I digress…

He kept pointing to the suggested bridge on the box, and without even thinking, I threw Santa under the bus.

“Sorry sweetie, we don’t have that bridge…Santa didn’t bring it.”  The blaming words were out there and I couldn’t take them back.  What had that jolly man done to me?

I guess if there’s a naughty list, my name would be toward the top.

Jill signature

The Battle of Crayola

Crayons Image

A few weeks ago, I decided to take my children to the Crayola Experience as an afternoon activity.  I thought it was the Crayola Factory, but Experience was probably more accurate, because I’m pretty sure they’re not making the crayons at this location.  And, for me, it was definitely an experience.

We were a party of four, one adult to each child and my aunt and I took advantage of the opportunity to leave the stroller in the car.  Typically my life is two against one, and the stroller is a must.  But with two adults, man to man defense is possible, most times.

It was a great afternoon, super cute crayons and markers were made.   We learned about the Crayola version of Play Doh, “a superior product,” according to the staff person, and much fun was had.  The children behaved like rock stars, going from room to room without so much as a peep of resistance.  They even seemed to take the news of our visit’s end in stride.

Then, in a super generous gesture to convert my daily passes into season passes, my aunt, the other grown up, needed to have her hands free to pay and could not continue to carry my son.

Charlie bolted like a boy with a plan.  Like lightening, his two year old little feet hit the polished concrete floor running.  He jetted straight under the roped dividers.  And no, he didn’t run parallel inside the ropes, like civilized people at Disney.  He cut his own path, straight under the dividers, missing the ropes by inches.  I trailed a few feet behind him, doing what must have looked like a drunken limbo as I tried to keep up.

In the course of pursuing Charlie, I had to set Giuliana down.  Now, both of my children were darting around the room.  From the ticket line through the coat room and to the water fountains my little lovelies were running laps and laughing their little heads off as I pursued them.

To exacerbate my shame, Charlie let out a cough that sounded directly out of a TB ward.  The last lingering symptom from a cold he had weeks before, it was a cough that he typically had once a day.  And I guess this was the moment.  So, as I ran around like a woman on the edge, I added the task of uttering “he’s not sick,” to everyone and no one in particular.

At some point, I was able to grab one child, and then eventually the other.  It was a blur who surrendered first.  I staggered to the register, a thirty pound child on each hip.  I had won the battle, but I was defeated.  I was a mortified, sweaty, exhausted mess, whose hair was more all over the place than usual.

I stood at the counter, hoping that the staff person had satisfied her information gathering needs and and I could be released from this embarrassing experience.  I had given birthdates, addresses and more. I know it is not true, but it felt like forever.  I wanted it to be over.  I wanted the clerk to take pity, hurry up and let us get out of there.

As I stood with burning biceps, holding my two wiggling children, the clerk twisted the knife.  “Okay,” she said, “look right over here and smile, Jill.  I’m going to take your picture.”

Jill signature