Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

We are all about little plastic eggs and baskets.  We are all about egg hunts and hollow chocolate bunnies.  Then, of course, there are the tiny faces hovering over cups of colorful vinegar-water, trying to get just the right shade of pink.

And at this special time of year, we are also all about remembering our Savior.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

This Week in the Garden...

On the whole, the garden just isn't much to look at right now.  Its barren beds, stacks of cinder blocks, and shovels strewn about (blush) create a bit of an eyesore.  But, if I zoom in here and there, there's a lot to be excited about.

See, doesn't this lettuce look so happy?

Carrots are starting to come up.

Toes are coming up, too.

Halle is keeping herself busy with all the rocks Tyjah and I dug out of the new curbi patch.

The blueberries and raspberries are looking good.

My trusty wheelbarrow has been hard at work and deserves a break now and then.

I learned my lesson last year.  These red cabbages are hiding from the bugs under some row cover.
I can't wait to make sweet and sour cabbage.  SO yummy!

The going-rate around here is still five cents per snipped slug and the kids know right where to find the scissors.  Last summer they raked in some serious cash.

The strawberries are at peace in their new bed.

And since all of these things are a lot more fun to look at than dirty dishes, my kitchen sink has been little fuller the last few days (blush again)!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I woke up on Wednesday with a cannonball over my left eye.  At least that's what it felt like.  My eyes itched, burned, and generally complained about the whole situation by watering.  The pile of wadded-up tissues beside my bed told the rest of my family how well I DIDN'T sleep.  Allergies.  Maybe I need to switch medication.

I went through the next couple of hours at a crawl.  My littlest ones, of course, didn't understand and still expected Mom to be...well....Mom.  Mom, who makes breakfast and snacks.  Mom, who reads stories. Mom, who does art projects with them every Wednesday morning.

Part of me longed to ignore our "no TV during the week" rule, find something on Netflix for the girls, and wallow on the couch with one eye open.  The other part of me really wanted to see my girls have a special morning.  After all, it was Wednesday morning and Wednesday mornings are for art with my little girls.  

Not coincidentally, they are also for baths.

That afternoon I listened to Lyla sing herself to sleep in her crib, giving me permission to close my own watery eyes for just a bit.  I fell asleep gratefully, not only for the much-needed nap, but that I had pushed through just enough to have a special morning with my little girls.  

Good Things Come to Those Who Bake: What Culinary School was Like, and Why I'm Glad I Did It

What began for me in May of 2009 as an exciting and downright scary culinary adventure is drawing to a close. This week, I completed my sojourn as a baking & pastry-arts student in a well-regarded culinary school, here in suburban Detroit. I never expected it would take me quite this long to complete the program but life happened, as they say, and priorities now and then had to shift. It's been a long and occasionally wild ride, and I don't regret one minute of it.

(This fondant-covered wedding cake was my last project, in my last class. I completed it, and brought it home, on Monday night. Biggest cake I've ever made! It weighed a ton.)

(This blown-sugar swan was a project in Pastry II. I wrote about it here.) 

What drove me to plunge into such a program in the first place? After all, I was 48 years old when I started. What in the world provokes a busy middle-aged woman, with plenty of regular responsibilities, to take up something like this? Why put oneself through the stress of such rigorous cooking and baking classes? Really, at the root of it all, I just wanted to learn new things about baking and pastry that I felt couldn't be learned well on my own. I wanted to be able to crack the code of the classic techniques and most mysterious methods. I wanted to get the kind of careful and ordered instruction from experts that, I felt, could not be gained outside of a formal and structured setting. A couple of basic community-education classes in cake decorating, that I took for fun in 2007, just whet my appetite for more. The next logical step was staring me in the face.

(This box, made entirely of chocolate, was filled with artisan chocolate candies. 
From Pastry II class, this was one of my favorite projects. I wrote about it here.)

And, naturally, the support and encouragement of my husband and kids was a critical factor all along. If they hadn't been okay with me taking lots of time for the classes and homework, I wouldn't have been comfortable doing it (thanks so much, guys!). They are truly the greatest.

(Sam-the-Snowman cake was my final project in Theme Cakes class, in 2010. 
I wrote about him here.)

So, was it all fun and games? Not on your life. Were there teachers there, a la Gordon Ramsay, who seemed to get their kicks by publicly berating people? Oh yeah, I can think of one or two in particular. Was I the oldest student there? Not by a long shot. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the program was the extreme diversity of the student population. Kids right out of high school, men in their twenties right out of the service, women in their fifties who'd left long and/or lucrative careers to follow their dream.

(Three fresh loaves from my Artisan Breads class. I wrote about that class here.)

The year I started, a cluster of middle-aged folks who'd been laid off in the economic collapse also entered the culinary school. Training for new careers, most of them were hopeful, resolute, and took the endeavor seriously. One man I met had been a pipe-fitter at Ford for over thirty years. His new dream was to open a bagel shop. He looked tough, but was actually a softie, and he loved to chat about his life. I once saw him riding his Harley home from school, cloaked in black-leather from top to bottom, with a brown grocery bag of what I knew to be freshly baked bread strapped securely to the back of his bike. Our artisan-breads class had just ended for the day. When I saw him I thought, "Can't judge that book by its cover. A biker might really be a baker."

(I made this sacher torte for my Cookery class in fall of '09; part of my 
assignment was to write an essay on its historical origins. I blogged about the cake here.)

And in a similar vein, last fall, I was dumbfounded when my baking partner in Plated Desserts II confessed to me that she'd abandoned a decades-long career as an ob/gyn in large part to attend culinary school. She quietly shared this information with me, one night after class, as if she were admitting to a crime. She told me that being a pastry chef had been her one big dream since high school, but her parents hadn't allowed her to even consider it; they'd insisted she go to medical school. I was astounded by her story and even wondered if she might be making it up. Curiosity got the better of me. I Googled her name and, sure enough, that woman is an accomplished doctor. That one really took the cake, no pun intended.

(This Elmo cake was one of  our first projects in 
Theme Cakes class, in 2010. I wrote about this cake, here.)

Being a student in this program exposed me to so many fresh experiences, and to new people. Case in point: I'd never in my life pried open a live oyster before I had to do this in Cookery class. I remember how my teacher, who happened to closely resemble the Swedish chef character from the Muppets, demonstrated our task, then chose me to try it first. He handed me the oyster knife and a special armor-like glove to wear on the hand that would hold the oyster. I took them from him, put on the glove, and then realized I needed to stop for a moment to take off my glasses in order to really see what I was doing. An outgoing student who'd just gotten out of the Navy--a tall, wiry guy who looked rougher and older than his years--commented loudly, "She's keepin' it real!" His name was Nick, and he was a character. Once he asked me if I had any kids and I told him I had two teenage sons, who were at the time 13 and 16. He looked at me in complete surprise, and said to me quietly, "No kidding? Well, bless your heart." I guess he expected anyone with two teenage sons would have to behave like a drill sergeant at all times, a description that rarely fits me. We never had another class together but the one time we ran into each other the next semester, I was in Retail Baking class at the time, stirring something on a stove, and he bellowed out to me from a distance, "Hey Jane! Still kickin' ass?!" Of course I responded, "Always!"

(I thought this alligator bread was about the cutest thing I'd ever seen when we made it, 
along with turtle bread, in Retail Baking, winter of '10.)

I could go on and on with little tales like that from school, and I'm sure in future posts I will. But enough for now. I really just wanted to share the news with you that I am truly and finally done! Joy! And as a result, I hope to be more present, here in this blog, which is like an old friend to me, in the weeks ahead. Thanks to you readers for once more stopping by, and for sharing this journey with me.


(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

As I have mentioned a time or two on this blog, I LOVE bread.   In the past, I have made all kinds of recipes from delicious orange rolls, to satisfying bread sticks and bread bowls for hearty soups.  But, my all time favorite way to eat homemade bread is in the form of toast.

Now, I am not a toast snob.  I really love any kind of bread as toast.  Whenever I make a loaf of Oatmeal bread, or no knead bread I save a slice for a snack or breakfast.  Then I toast it up and cover it with butter...oh, it is so good!  A few days ago, as I was sprinkling said toast with some cinnamon and sugar, and I realized that I had never made cinnamon swirl bread.  That was about to change!

I went on a quest to find a recipe.  Luckily,  I had one already pinned on my Breads page on Pinterest.   It comes originally from  The author, Jaime, originally posted the white bread recipe on her blog, Sohpistamom, and the Cinnamon Swirl Bread on

 As bread recipes go, this one is basic and produces the most wonderful bread. But, it can also be combined with cinnamon and sugar to make a loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Bread. That is what I did and I am so happy that I did.  There was just enough cinnamon, sugar, butter mixture swirled between layers of the bread dough.

 There are two ways to create the cinnamon swirliness (new word!).  The first is to mix an egg white with sugar and cinnamon, spread it on the dough, roll up and bake.  The second method is to spread butter on the dough, cover it with the cinnamon and sugar, roll up and bake.  I tried both versions, and discovered the egg white method just didn't turn out for me.  I ended up with a soggy, collapsing loaf of bread.  So I tried the second method and loved the results.

Which ever method you like, I urge you to try it soon. You will love it and so will your family, ENJOY!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Recipe Source: Jaime at

1 tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour (divided)
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
extra oil for the bowl during rising

*Cinnamon Filling:
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons of cinnamon (this depends on how cinnamony you want your bread)

*Alternative Filling Option:
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons of cinnamon

*I tried both fillings and prefer the one with butter.  This is something you will have to try out on your own.

In a small bowl combine the water, oil, and honey.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the yeast, 3 cups of the flour, and salt.  Mix for a few seconds to make sure everything is well combined.  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  If needed, add some of the reserved 1/2 cup of flour.

When the dough cleans off the side of the mixer bowl, you are ready to knead.  I let my mixer do this for me, but you can do it by hand as well.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.  Remove from mixer, roll into a large ball and then place in a greased bowl.

Cover the dough, and allow it to rise until almost double in size in a warm place in your kitchen, about 30-40 minutes.  I use my oven with the light on for the first rise.

When the dough has risen, gently deflate it.  Roll it out into a rectangle that is roughly 5 inches by 14 inches.  Spread the dough with softened butter and cinnamon sugar.

Roll up tightly from the narrow end.

Place the dough into a grease bread pan.

Again, cover and let it rise in a warm place. While your dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Once the dough has risen, place it in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool, if you can!

My Kids' Favorite Smoothie

Monster juice.  Shrek smoothie.  Green smoothie.  Call it what you will, every time I try to switch things up a bit and make a different smoothie, my kids ask why I'm not making this one-

A spread of good ingredients on a clean countertop always makes me smile.

Ingredient List:
Almond milk
Frozen strawberries (semi-defrosted)
Frozen bananas (semi-defrosted)
Chocolate protein powder (we use about 1/4 cup)
Peanut butter
Ice (optional)

Sorry.  No exact amounts on this one.  

Also, a word about frozen bananas-  I chuck all of my mushy bananas in the freezer.  Yep, as is. Seriously, just stand back and throw (still in the peel, obviously).  No bag needed.

Add all of the solid ingredients first.  Then, poor in enough milk to get the consistency you want. Sometimes we want something thicker that requires a spoon.  Sometimes we are more in a sipping mood.  Adjust the amount of milk for what you're up to that day.
Then, of course, blend.

Call all the kids...

...because you will want to compare mustaches.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Spring! Tra la!!

Quote of the Day: Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. - Doug Larson (I got this one from my friend Deb at Dream. Embrace. Believe.) Deb, Joy's voice student, who arrived with a wave and a greeting from me to "pull up closer to the garage. The driveway is a disaster. And, please come in through the garage so you don't fall!" Gosh, what a sloppy mess, and it makes me so happy!!! I got Spring Fever so bad this weekend that I did some deep cleaning, including sorting through my underwear drawer and purging the uglies! Oh, ya. Look out, Sock Drawer, you're next!

I'm having daydreams about warm, sunny days, and flashing back to our winter getaway in sunny Cabo. I spent some time yesterday writing about it on my travel blog, Ride off the Page. Click over there to see how Mr. Happy spent his vacation in Mexico!
It looks like good melting weather this week. The Biker Chef is setting taps on the Maple trees. The boys are talking about riding their bikes to school (that might be further off than they think, considering the snow and ice), but you never know. We could have a good melt over the weekend. Of course, that means flood season is coming! Also, the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge starts next Monday. You'll see posts here, and at other participating blogs, every day in April, excluding Sundays (unless they're behind in posting or in another time zone), and if we're lucky, a bonus post or two at Ride off the Page. Hey, Chef, when you bustin' out the Harley?
So, how are you doing with the Spring Fever? Or, is it always lovely where you live? Or, maybe you're in a different hemisphere from me. In that case, enjoy!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are some signs of spring where you live?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Orzo, Cranberry, and Apple Salad

Secret Recipe Club

I love a good pasta salad, but I am also very picky about my pasta salads.  As a result I don't typically eat other people's salads, nor do I try new recipes.  I stick with what I know and love.  However, this month I stumbled on to this Orzo, Cranberry, and Apple Salad when I was assigned to Life and Kitchen for my Secret Recipe Club blog.

Orzo Salad

Life and Kitchen  is run by Lindsey, a busy mom who enjoys cooking for her family and having fun.  She writes her blog for her daughter and family in a hopes that one day they will understand what day to day life was like growing up in their family.  Lindsey's most current posts don't have meat in them.  In 2012  she gave it up and no longer cooks with meat products.  But, that doesn't mean her recipes aren't super tasty! And, her older recipes do have meat so if that is what you are after you can find it on her blog. 

I searched through her blog and found many recipes I was tempted to make. I narrowed my choices down to Apple Croissant Bread Pudding , Queso Blanco, French Onion Soup , and Orzo, Cranberry, and Apple Salad.  The orzo salad won out because it looked light and refreshing, perfect for the Spring weather we have been having.

Now, like I already said I don't typically stray away from my favorite pasta salad, so this was a big step for me!  The flavors in this salad can't be explained.  The dried cranberries and granny smith apples add a delicious tart bite to the almonds and pasta.  I loved the vinaigrette made with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar too because it soaked into the pasta and created a little morsels of tastiness in each bite.  
Orzo Salad

My family had mixed reviews.  My son would have no part of it.  My husband said it was ok.  My oldest son, daughter, and I decided that we liked it best completely chilled the next day.  Really, it is up to you how to serve it.  We tried it warm, room temperature, and cold.  Cold was my favorite and the way I will eat it in the future.  I did make a few changes.  I used two apples instead of one, two cups of dried cranberries, and one cup of toasted almonds. I also chose to cook my orzo in chicken broth rather than vegetable broth and then added some cut chicken breasts so I could make the salad a main dish for my family.  I hope you ENJOY!

Orzo Salad

Orzo, Cranberry, and Apple Salad
Recipe Source: modified slightly from Life and Kitchen

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound orzo
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 medium green apples, diced into small pieces
2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted*
1-2 chicken breasts, roasted and cut into small pieces

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the orzo and cook for a few minutes until it is toasted and just light brown in a few spots.  Pour in the broth of your choice and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10-11 minutes.  Strain off any liquid that may be left in the pot.

Put the cooked orzo into a large bowl.  Add the chopped herbs, apples, cranberries, almonds and chicken.  Combine well.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Whisk well to combine all the ingredients.

Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture.  Combine well.  Serve at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

*To toast almonds, spread the nuts in a single layer in a non-stick pan.  Allow to toast over medium heat, stirring often.  As soon as you can smell the nuts they are probably done.  You are looking for a very light golden color.  You can also toast them on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 350 F.  Keep an eye on them.  As soon as you can smell them, take them out and let them cool. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Breaking out of the Chore Rut

We have a great family chore system.  We have used minor variations of the very same system for years BECAUSE IT WORKS.  The kids have a few daily chores that they keep up with during the week and then on Saturday they have a longer weekly list to tackle.  I have to say, my kids are really great about getting their chores done and mostly without complaint.  But sometimes, even though the kids rotate through different chores, it just feels like the same-old, same-old.   

So today, I switched up our regular Saturday chores routine for this-

While the kids raced through their chores, trying to be the $4.00 prize winner, I had time to catch this-

How have I never noticed this before?  Halle sticks her tongue out while she vacuums!

In a little over an hour, everyone was done with their weekly chores.  And then I heard the most unusual things-

"Chores were so fun today!"
"Can we do it like that every week?"
"Thanks so much for putting that together, Mom!"

Yaaaaaah.  These are not typical post-chore comments.

Good-bye old Saturday morning routine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt

Today's recipe isn't technically a recipe, but it has become one of my favorite food treats.  I love that it gives me protein, but also tastes like dessert at the same time.  It is cheap, it is easy to make, is portable, and it can be changed to suit your tastes.

I discovered this recipe on Pinterest, and have not changed it very much.  This version is my favorite, but I have made other additions such as white chocolate chips, strawberries  blueberries, and different flavors of yogurt.  You can really do anything you want with it.  ENJOY!

Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt

1 small container Greek yogurt (I prefer vanilla flavor, but you can do use any flavor/brand you like)
1 healthy teaspoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
a splash of vanilla (I really like vanilla)
a dash of salt (because I like the sweet and salty combination)

Combine and enjoy!  

I take this in my lunch and mix it all together right before I eat it.

Other flavor combinations include:

Vanilla Yogurt, white chocolate chips and strawberries or blueberries
Strawberry Yogurt, chocolate chips, vanilla, granola
Lemon Lime Yogurt, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


"No bed!  No bed!"  my impassioned two-year-old insisted the other night as I carried her uncooperative little body up the stairs.  It would not be an easy routine that night.  No amount of gentle coaxing or manipulative silliness would to get her to open her mouth for that toothbrush.  I resigned to just get the job done.

Keeping it real, some nights are like this around here.

But, thankfully, most of them are not.

Some of my favorite mom moments happen at bed-time.  Like when my two-year old actually settles down and just wants to cuddle with me in the blue chair.  Lyla's warm body melts snuggly against mine as we read Goodnight Moon or Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car.

After she is reading her own books in her crib, I head down the hall to my older girls' room.  The peaceful music coming from their CD player is a sharp contrast from the chaos of their bedroom floor.  My ten-year-old is too wrapped up in a good book to look down at me from the top bunk.  I interrupt, "good-night, Sophia."

My five-year old is busy constructing her new fort- ahem- castle.  Night after night, she has to make her sleeping arrangement a new kind of beautiful.

And night after night, after she falls asleep, we untuck the corners, untie the knots, and gently put our princess Halle back to bed.

The boys room is next.  My seven-year-old has been working on having a more positive attitude, so for months now, at bedtime, he has been telling me five good things about his day.  I know he loves this time with me.  Sometimes, he elaborates on one of his "five" with a story.  I get to hear about wall ball games at school and how a first-grader looks up to him because he is a rockstar wall baller.  Or, about the fun time he had playing war with his sister for hours and how every time one of them lost a battle, they would have to add another basket or box to the top of their head.  I'm still not sure how this worked, but clearly Tyjah had a blast playing cards that day.

If my twelve-year old has managed to finish his homework and dawdle his way through brushing and flossing his teeth by then, he won't let me out the door without a "Mom?"  This is sometimes followed by a vision of his future job at Google or the latest Google invention.  "Uh-huh," I say.  "Uh-huh...Uh-huh...Beau?  I'm going to start calling you Google."  He tells me, "whatever" with his eyes as they shift to the side, but his smile revealingly aspires to the techie nick-name.  He is currently obsessed with all things Google.  What I love most, is when I come in and find him on his knees praying or studying the scriptures.  Sometimes he looks up and asks me an insightful question.  With the distractions of the day put aside, he is ready to consider more sensitive matters.  I love these meaningful talks on the end of his bed.

Sometimes bedtime is sweet.

Review of Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul at The Ordway in St. Paul, MN

Quote of the Day:  Tonight we're going to turn The Ordway into an Irish pub! Eileen Ivers, performance on March 17, 2013 at The Ordway Performing Arts Center in St. Paul, MN. I felt like I was at an Irish wedding dance. Your heart sings. Your feet tap. Little kids run down to the dance floor in front of the stage. The melodies, both haunting and exciting, course through your veins.

Eileen Ivers, promo photo from her website. Photo by Luke Ratray
The daughter of Irish immigrants, Eileen Ivers grew up in the culturally diverse neighborhood of the Bronx, New York. Rooted in Irish traditional music since the age of eight, Eileen proceeded to win nine All-Ireland fiddle championships, a tenth on tenor banjo and over 30 championship medals, making her one of the most awarded persons ever to compete in these prestigious competitions.

Being an Irish-American, the intrigue of learning more about the multicultural sounds of her childhood took hold. After graduating magna cum laude in Mathematics from Iona College and while continuing her post-graduate work in Mathematics, Eileen fully immersed herself in the different genres of music which she experienced growing up in New York. Perhaps it was the mathematical mind coupled with her passion for seeking parallels in certain traditional music styles which contributed to what has become the signature sound featured in much of Eileen's recordings since the late 1980's.
What a great way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day to be filled with the exhilarating music of Eileen Ivers, her fiddle, and her fabulous band! You can't sit still while listening to this music. Your heart beats a little faster and you have to at least tap a toe. I envied the kiddos who jumped up and dragged their friends and grandparents to the dance floor. Some of those young lads and lasses could really dance a jig and had all the fancy footwork. I'll admit, I was a little intimidated. When I pop on the CD at home, though, I wiggle a little and practice the moves I saw!
Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul Band, photo by Luke Ratray
You can "Youtube" anything these days. Listen to as much recorded music as you like, but nothing, NOTHING, replaces the experience of live music. The energy in the room was intoxicating. Eileen Ivers and her band really did turn The Ordway into an Irish pub. By the end of the show, the dance floor was filled and overflowing up the aisles and into the balcony. What a rush. What an awesome experience. What an energizing way to celebrate being Irish (anyone can feel a bit Irish on March 17), and cultures beyond the seas and right here at home.
Thank you, Ordway, for inviting Eileen Ivers and her band and all of us to have a night filled with festive fun! Check out Eileen Ivers' schedule on her website. I hope she's coming to your neighborhood. You won't want to miss out on this party!!!
Go to The Ordway for info on upcoming music, dances, and shows. They have a great line-up yet this year, and next year's schedule looks amazing. I'm particularly excited to see Miss Saigon this fall, 2013.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What is your family's heritage? How do you celebrate your own culture and other cultures in your neighborhood?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review of Jackie and Me at The Children's Theatre in Minneapolis

Quote of the Day:  The unwritten rules run the deepest. Mr. Rickey in Jackie and Me, a play about breaking the color barriers in 1947 when Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, based on the book by Dan Gutman, adapted for the stage by Steven Dietz, and directed by Marion McClinton, playing through April 14, 2013 at The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN.

Nine of us attended this show, and we give it 18 thumbs up! "A realistic view of the times," said Pete who was going to college and playing baseball in the 1960's. "It's a good way to show children what it was like back then."

Ansa Akyea as Jackie Robinson, photo by Dan Norman, CTC
The stage is set like a baseball diamond. Our seats are on the first-base line. The tension builds as the lights dim, the players take the stage, and we're pulled into another time and place. Joey Stoshack has to write a report for his history class on an African American who's made an important contribution to society. Joey, an avid baseball fan, chooses Jackie Robinson. With the help of a Bond Bread card with Jackie's photo on it, Joey uses his special gift to travel back in time and lands in the office of Mr. Rickey the day he signs Jackie to the Brooklyn Dodgers, April 9, 1947.
Brandon Brooks as Joey Stoshack, photo by Dan Norman, CTC
How exciting to be present when history was being made! Joey was ready to celebrate. Mr. Rickey signed Jackie with a word of warning. "They will say all these awful things and more. They'll threaten you and your family." He asked Jackie if he was up to the challenge and if he was man enough not to strike back. Jackie said, "Yes, sir, I am." They shook hands and changed the world of baseball forever, and Americans of varying colors and backgrounds started to play together.
photo by Dan Norman, CTC
Not all the players were accepting of the change. They signed a petition stating that they'd rather be traded than play with Jackie. He was told to use a different door to the clubhouse. He wasn't allowed to stay at the same hotels as his white teammates, or eat at the same restaurants, drink at the same fountains, or be treated with the same respect. Jackie got hate mail and death threats. He was risking his life and the lives of his family to play baseball, to change the way people treat each other, and to pave the way for other players like him.
Ansa Akyea as Jackie Robinson, photo by Dan Norman, CTC
This is the first play where I've been so riveted to the story, that I was surprised when the lights came up for intermission. Certain scenes and lines from this play brought tears to my eyes.
Brandon Brooks as Joey Stoshack with Spencer Harrison Levin, and Braxton Baker
You don't know how much you can learn from a baseball card!
Brandon Brooks (Joey) and Gerald Drake (Flip)
Jackie and Me shows us what it was like for someone to be the first to do something both brave and dangerous, to put aside personal fears, and dare to make a difference in the world. The entire cast does an amazing job of making this time and place feel so real. I want to encourage everyone to attend this show, for the history, the baseball, and the chance to travel back in time to understand what it might have been like for another person.
Go to Children's Theatre Company for showtimes and tickets. Call Sundays, starting at noon, for a chance to score $10 tickets for the upcoming week's shows. It is well worth the time and price of admission!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Who would you like to meet?