Birthday cakes to remember


Fun with fondant

The sky's the limit when it comes to creating your next birthday masterpiece. Fondant is such a versatile cake-decorating tool. It can be used to cover cakes or make great little cake toppers. I personally call fondant grown-up Play-Doh because it can be so much fun to create different decorations that fit your theme. Cookie cutters and molds can be used to cut out a base for your fondant or gumpaste decorations., and your local craft store are great resources for decorating supplies.


If you're not the most confident baker, that's okay! Here are some helpful tips to help you succeed:

Before you get started, be sure to read the recipe thoroughly. Baking is a science, so be sure to understand the directions.

Room temperature is best for your ingredients. Let your items such as eggs, butter and milk sit out on your counter for a couple of hours prior to baking.

Correct measurements are very
important! My advice? Before you start mixing, make sure you have all your ingredients pre-measured and ready to go. I use this practice in all of my baking.

Want a box cake to taste like it came from the bakery? Follow the directions on the box but add an extra egg, use melted butter instead of oil, and replace the water for milk. And don't be afraid to add a little flavoring like a teaspoon of vanilla or a touch of almond extract.

Greasing your pans is an important step! Butter is best, but a 1:1:1 ratio of oil, flour, and shortening (otherwise known as "cake goop") is also great. And if your cake doesn't release entirely from the pan, no worries! Wrap that cake up and freeze for cake pops later.


cake checker


Checker board technique

There are many different ways to create a fun birthday cake but one of my favorites is the checkerboard technique. And you can do this without having to buy expensive, fancy pan sets. All you need is some circle cutters that you can find at your local craft store. The one I use is by Celebrate Arts sold at Michaels stores.

The largest of these circles start at 5 inches, which is perfect for a cake that is 8 inches. I used 6 inch round cakes that I colored pink and purple, with one layer having some fun sprinkles it.  Start by cutting two circles out of every cake layer. When assembling, place a different color circle in each cake round until they are complete.

What's really cool about this technique is the reveal when you cut into your cake-it will have checkerboard appearance. And because I used three different colors instead of two, it added a little more dimension to the inside of the cake.

Beautiful, isn't it? And it's super fun when creating cakes such as unicorns, mermaids, or lumberjack themes. Give it a try using different flavors and colors. It will be a hit at your next party!

Under Pressure: Instant Pot Favorites

under pressure


I'm not an early adopter. In fact, if I finally embrace a new technology, style or fad, it's a sure sign that it's on the way out. So I was certainly not the first mom to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon. While everyone else claimed the Instant Pot was changing their lives, I was holding firm to my crock pot. We'd had a long and happy relationship and I didn't have room (literally, no cabinet space) for a new appliance in my life...

But when my rice cooker gave out and I learned that I could cook rice in the Instant Pot, I suddenly had the justification I needed: swapping one appliance for another was cabinet-space neutral. A few days later a giant box was at my doorstep. Several days after that, it was still in the box staring me down from the dining room table. I would not be defeated by an appliance but, I must admit, I was a little intimidated-okay, terrified-to get started. It's been a few months now and I am by no means an expert, but I am a convert. I'm still a complete Instant Pot neophyte but, after some experimentation, our family definitely has some Instant Pot favorites.



Red Beans and Rice

This simple recipe is a huge hit in our house. Technically it's a side dish, but we throw it on a plate with some salad or veggies and call it dinner. Warning: there are never any leftovers.


3 bacon slices, chopped into ¼ inch pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 large pinches of cayenne

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed
and drained

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper



Select Sauté to preheat Instant Pot. Once hot, add bacon and cook until lightly crisp. Remove and set aside. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more until onion is translucent. Add cayenne and bacon and stir. Add the rice, beans and broth and stir. Season with salt and pepper and secure lid. Select Manual and cook at high temperature for 5 minutes. Once cooking is complete, use natural release for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.

Source: The Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook, Laurel Randolph



Lentil Rice Soup

This is another family favorite that's perfect for chilly winter evenings or thrown into a Thermos en route to a ball game.



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and sorted

¼ cup uncooked rice, rinsed well

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Sour cream (optional)



Press Sauté; heat oil in Instant Pot®. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add salt, herbes de Provence and pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in broth, lentils and rice; mix well.

Secure lid and move pressure release valve to Seal position. Press Manual; cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.

When cooking is complete, use natural release for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure. Stir in parsley. Top with sour cream, if desired.

Source: Instant Pot® Favorite Recipes



Minestrone Soup

This soup makes an almost weekly appearance at our house. It's easily adapted depending on what's in your pantry. No potatoes? No problem. Substitute frozen
spinach for kale, if needed, or
swap out cannellini beans with
red kidney beans.



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves, garlic, minced

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon black pepper

⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 russet potatoes peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can diced tomatoes

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


Press Sauté; heat oil in Instant Pot. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook and stir for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper and red pepper flakes; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in potatoes, broth, beans and tomatoes; mix well.

Secure lid and move pressure valve to Sealing position. Press Manual; cook at high pressure for 3 minutes.

When cooking is complete, press Cancel and use quick release. Stir in kale. Secure lid and move pressure release valve to Sealing position. Press Manual; cook at High pressure for 2 minutes.

When cooking is complete, use natural release for 5 minutes, then release the remaining pressure. Serve with cheese, if desired.

Source: Instant Pot® Favorite Recipes

Celebrating Black History

It's important to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans to U.S. History all year long, but in February-designated as Black History Month-we have an opportunity to recognize this history in a special way. Celebrate with your children by learning about the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to our collective history.


Here's a selection of books you can read with your children. Some highlight historical figures, while others celebrate heart-warming stories of children of color.

book list


1 The Quilt By Ann Jonas

Age: 0-3 Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Publishers Weekly called this delightful book a "landmark in children's literature." Made from her old pajamas and curtains, a young girl's new quilt inspires a dream adventure. The squares of the quilt become part of a dreamscape she enters into in order to find her lost stuffed dog. An ALA Notable Children's Book

2 Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman (author) & Caroline Binch (illustrator)

Age: 3-6 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Grace loves to act, but one day some kids tell her she can't play the part of Peter Pan because of the way she looks. Grace's grandmother helps this young girl realize that, with effort, anything can be achieved. An inspiring and heartwarming story.

3 Bigmama's By Donald Crews

Age: 3-6 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Every year the narrator and his family take a trip down to Cottondale, Florida, to visit his grandmother, Bigmama. This autobiographical story recalls the joys of summer and the contrast between the author's life in the city and Bigmama's lush, rural home. While the illustrations suggest it was a period of segregation, this thought never overpowers the carefree summer celebration.

4 Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

​By Doreen Rappaport (author) and Bryan Collier (illustrator)

Age: 6-9 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.

5 Whoever You Are By Mem Fox

Recommended ages: 4 and up

This book offers a preschooler-friendly introduction to the concepts of diversity and equality. Award-winning author, Mem Fox, tells little ones that wherever they are, whatever they look like, and no matter their customs, there are other kids like them all around the globe: "Joys are the same, and love is the same. Pain is the same, and blood is the same."

6 Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom By Carole Boston Weatherford

Recommended ages: 5 and up

Introduce children to Harriet Tubman, the champion of the Underground Railroad who earned the nickname "Moses" for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. Spirited text and paintings portray how Tubman's compassion, courage, and deep religious faith helped her lead 19 trips from the south to the north in order to help fellow African-Americans.

7 Little Leaders and
Little Legends
By Vashti Harrison

Recommended age: 8 and up

These beautifully-illustrated biographies celebrate exceptional black men and women in history.

8 Teammates By Peter Golenbock

Recommended ages: 6 and up

This book takes us back to 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. He was taunted and terrorized by baseball fans, opposing players, and even his own teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers. Historical photos and watercolor illustrations transport us to the fateful game when Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers shortstop, embraced Robinson on the field as his teammate in front of a heckling crowd of spectators.

9 I Am Rosa Parks
By Rosa Parks and James Haskins (authors) and Wil Clay (illustrator)

Age: 6-9 Reading Level:
Independent Reader

The famous civil rights activist, Rosa Parks, has simplified her autobiography for young readers in this Puffin Easy-to-Read book. She describes how she was arrested for not giving up her bus seat and shows that her personal role was part of a wider political struggle.

10 Through My Eyes
By Ruby Bridges

Age: 9-12 Reading Level: Independent Reader

Six-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first African American to integrate an elementary school. Her memories of that year, when so much hatred was directed at her, makes for a powerful memoir. A 1999 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are countless titles to explore with your family. So visit your local library to expand your knowledge of Black History.

Book summaries adapted from, and

How to thrive during a power outage

the kid

Treat yourself. Have water, drinks and pantry snacks on hand so you can feed your crew without opening your fridge. Make it fun. This is not the time to stick rigidly to your "healthy snacks only" mantra. If you have reason to believe the power will be out for an extended amount of time, go ahead and break into that gallon of ice cream in  the freezer-it's probably going to melt anyway.

Let it glow. Deck everyone out with glow sticks, then turn off all the flashlights for a glow party.

Blow it up. Always have balloons on hand. They're inexpensive and surprisingly entertaining. Try balloon volleyball or tennis, waddle races, pass the balloon or
the classic rub the balloon against your hair to create static energy.

Camp out. Kids will likely want to sleep with you, or at least with each other, while the lights are out. Be ready with extra blankets or sleeping bags to create a common sleeping area in your bedroom or living room. Go for the full camping effect by pitching a small tent.

Make it flash. Put those flashlights to good use by making shadow puppets or playing flashlight tag or freeze dance.

Take a break. Your family will likely come to treasure this time off the grid together, but that doesn't mean that mom doesn't need her breaks. Try to stick to nap or rest schedules and carve out some time for you-sneak away with a miner's lamp and a good book, or lie down while the kids build a fort around you (it's dark, they won't see that your eyes are closed).

Cowboy Christmas Treats

christmas treats



Walla Walla author Shanna Hatfield's latest book, A Cowboy Christmas, is filled with traditions, decor and recipes for a fantastic holiday-cowboy style! Cowboy or not, everyone will love making and eating these simple, sweet treats.


Chocolate Chex Trees

These yummy and adorable trees are so simple to make and a great project if you have kids at home who need something to do. Set them on a disposable plate, foil-wrapped piece of cardboard, or a large sugar cookie wrapped in cellophane for gift-giving!


Ingredients: Makes 6 trees

3 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal

6 pretzel sticks (the thick kind,
made for dipping)

½ cup peanut butter

¼ cup Nutella

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar


Mix the peanut butter, Nutella, butter and powdered sugar in a bowl.

On whatever you plan to use for a base, mold the peanut butter mixture around the pretzel stick until it stands upright and forms a slight cone shape.

Hold it steady by using the tip of the pretzel as a handle and begin inserting pieces of cereal into the peanut butter mixture in a symmetrical pattern around the stick. You can tip the cereal pieces up or down, depending on your personal preference. Add more cereal pieces, staggering them as you move upward, until you get near the top.

For the top of the tree, use broken pieces or cut them in half to get the smaller scale of branches near the top.

Use two pieces of cereal back to back to form the top.

Dust with powdered sugar.


Elf snack mix

Ingredients: Serves 8

10 cups popped popcorn

1 package white chocolate candy melt

1 bag red and green M&M's

1 cup cocktail peanuts

2 cups pretzels

¼ cup Christmas sprinkles (optional)


Mix popcorn with peanuts, pretzels and M&Ms. Set aside.

Melt white chocolate according to package directions and pour over popcorn mixture.
Stir well to coat. Top with Christmas sprinkles, if desired. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh.


book-lover's buyers guide

title image






Make a difference

Editor's notes

It's hard not to get overwhelmed by all that is wrong and unjust in the world, and it's harder still to answer the questions of our children, who often view the world simplistically, feeling that everything needs to be "fair."

"Why do we have so much when others have so little?" my kids often ask, especially as we approach the holidays. The truth is, I don't have a great answer to this question. But I have found that when I feel despondent in the face of injustice and inequity, it helps enormously to remind myself, and my kids, that we can all make a difference every day.

We might not cure cancer or end homelessness, but we can do something every day to improve the world-in our home, in our neighborhood, in our school, in our community. Sometimes it's as simple as greeting someone with a smile, or visiting with a neighbor even though we're in a hurry. I tell my kids that we might not be able to clothe and feed every person we see in need, but we can acknowledge them with the dignity that every human deserves. We can say, "Hello," look them in the eye and wish them a good day. Everyday we can find someone at school or work who needs recognition and inclusion.

When we focus on small things that we can control, our outlook feels more hopeful. Collectively, all of our microactions can create strong, thriving communities. I am constantly inspired by our Cover MOMs and readers who are making a difference every day in the lives of their families and communities. So the next time you feel discouraged by all of the need in the world, ask yourself what small act you can take today to make a difference.


Why? Because I said so!


Angela Hibbard
MOM Magazine Editor-in-Chief

Angela H


Broccoli Power

Screen Shot 2019-10-03 at 9.08.19 AM

Most of us know that we can reduce our cancer risk by doing things like avoiding smoking and sun exposure, but did you know that one-third of all cancers are linked to diet? That's according to Emily Ho, Director of Oregon State University's Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health.

Emily Ho studies the therapeutic value in non-nutritive compounds in vegetables, especially in the stinky stock compounds in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. That's why broccoli is Emily's favorite vegetable. In fact, you might even call her a broccoli evangelist. So what does all this mean in plain English? If it stinks, it just might help prevent cancer. But you don't need to suffer through stinky vegetables to eat healthy. Try these quick and delicious recipes that are packed with powerful broccoli.



2 cups cooked quinoa, warmed

2 cups canned hominy, rinsed and warmed

1 head broccoli cut into florets

1 avocado

8 ounces grilled tempeh, tofu or chicken

1 cup shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup shredded red cabbage

1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the broccoli florets on a baking sheet with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast until tender. Meanwhile, assemble the slaw. In a bowl combine cabbage, tomato and cilantro. In a small bowl whisk together garlic, lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, cayenne and approximately 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss the cabbage with dressing and let sit for 10 minutes. To assemble the bowls: In eight bowls place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup hominy, 1/2 cup roasted broccoli, 1/4th of the avocado diced, 1/3 cup of the slaw and 1/4 cup of the protein of your choice.


Beaver Nation Broccoli Salad

½ cup nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt, plain

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

4 cups broccoli florets, bite-sized

½ cup red onion, chopped

½ cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds, salted

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled



In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Adjust salt and pepper
to taste.In a large bowl, mix the broccoli florets, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and feta cheese.

Add the dressing and stir to combine. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes for best flavor.

Serve immediately or make ahead up to 24 hours.

Surviving Daylight Savings Time

TitleJust when your family has finally settled into some sort of sleep rhythm, daylight savings time sabotages your Zzzzs. This fall, daylight savings time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 3rd. So be prepared with this expert advice on how to help your kids make the transition.

Pro advice
Adjust your child's schedule gradually-make bedtime about 15 minutes earlier each day for four days before daylight savings time ends and try to wake your child up 15 minutes earlier each day. The same approach works in the spring when daylight savings time begins, just gradually adjust sleep and wake times later.

Mom translation
Spend an extra 15 minutes yelling at your kids to "Get back in bed!"

Pro advice
A blackout shade is always helpful when encouraging sleep and they definitely come in handy when adjusting to daylight savings time.

Mom translation
A dark cave wouldn't induce your child to go to sleep early but, sure, throw a dark curtain up and see if that helps.

Pro advice
This is one of the many times when a consistent bedtime routine pays off. Stick to your normal pattern of bath, reading, cuddling, etc. to help your child's body get the message that it's time for sleep.

Mom translation
If by routine you mean, the whack-o-mole game of putting your kids to bed then having them get up endlessly for a cuddle, potty or their 89th glass of water then, yes, stick to the routine.

Pro advice
If your child is waking up too early put a fun digital (easy-to-read) clock in their room so they can monitor when it's OK to get up.

Mom translation
Having a clock in your child's room means that now he can yell, "Mom, it's 4 o'clock. I can't sleep!" so loud that the entire neighborhood is awake.

Pro advice
Despite your best efforts, everyone will likely be a little tired and grumpy for a few days. So give yourself, and everyone else, an extra dose of patience.

Mom translation
Give yourself a break. Everyone will fall into a routine eventually-just in time for the clocks to change again!

Toothpaste Batik


What is batik?

Batik is both an art and a craft, which is becoming more popular and well known in the West as a wonderfully creative medium. The art of decorating cloth in this way, using wax and dye, has been practised for centuries. In Java, Indonesia, batik is part of an ancient tradition, and some of the finest batik cloth in the world is still made there. The word batik originates from the Javanese tik and means to dot.


Scrap paper
Embroidery hoop
Sharpie pen
White toothpaste
Hand lotion
White fabric or
Squeeze bottle
Paint brush
Permanent tempera or acrylic paint
Colored Sharpies



1: Select your embroidery hoop size and trace your circle. Then kids can begin drawing their ideas on to scrap paper. Tape your picture to a piece of cardboard or hard surface and trace with a black Sharpie marker. Make sure there is something under your art in case the Sharpie bleeds through.

2: Then, tape a piece of white fabric over the drawing. The Sharpie lines should be visible through the fabric. Doing it this way, means there are no pencil lines on the fabric.

3: Mix toothpaste and aloe hand lotion together in squeeze bottles. The ratio is 1-to-1. It doesn't have to be exact, you just don't want it runny. I found the lotion and toothpaste at Dollar Tree and used glue bottles for squeeze bottles. You can use glue instead of the toothpaste-lotion mix, but it is less precise and the glue lines can seep together making it blobby looking. Right before use, shake your bottle, then trace over your lines beginning at the top so you don't smudge your work.

4: It takes about 24 hours to dry and will feel rubbery when dry.

5: Paint directly onto your fabric. Tempera paint is best because it drys soft while acrylic dries hard. Try your favorite brand, but remember: DO NOT USE WASHABLE PAINT!  You can paint right over the toothpaste/lotion lines.

6: Let the paint dry. To remove the toothpaste mix, run the fabric under warm water and rub gently. If you used glue instead of the toothpaste mix, soak in warm water for about an hour.

7: Add additional details as desired with Sharpie markers. Insert into the embroidery hoops, hang and enjoy.