Finding Myself Friday: What it’s like to be ‘In Jennie’s Kitchen’

In Jennies Kitchen Sign

After eight days of creatively cooking up meals for Passover without matzah last month, I couldn’t wait to get away from my kitchen. My family, on the other hand, could live on matzah and cream cheese all year long. The day after Passover ended, I had the perfect excuse to get out of the kitchen and enhance my culinary quest. I was leaving my kitchen for an afternoon to spend some time at a very special gathering of New York area bloggers, in Jennifer Perillo’s kitchen. In the blogging world, these gatherings usually are accompanied by a product that we should be tweeting and pinning about. At this particular event, we were all gathered in honor of the success of one of our very own; fellow mom blogger Jennifer Perillo. Not only is she a gifted writer and chef, she is just as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. I was so thrilled to celebrate her first cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen. We celebrated in style, and what better place to do that then ‘in Jennie’s kitchen’. I felt so privileged to be in her element and see first -hand where her passionate baking comes to fruition; her kitchen.

Lighting in Jennie's home

When I first walked into Jennie’s home, I immediately felt a sense of warmth. I was drawn in by the natural lighting (this is a big thing for me). Everything from the color schemes, pictures on the walls, and cozy sitting areas was a reflection of Jennifer’s world. It encompasses a feeling of love and appreciation of all that is around her.

Jennie in her kitchen

The kitchen is where I found Jennie upon my arrival. It is not a huge kitchen, in fact, it is very modest. Most importantly, has everything she needs. What she creates in her kitchen supersedes anything I have ever seen before.
All of a sudden, the quick exit from my kitchen was forgotten. I actually wanted to join Jennie in her kitchen and start cooking! When you see the pure joy and ease that Jennie has when working with food, it makes spending time in the kitchen that much better. When you see the ease of making meals from scratch, you will be inspired to make them in your own home. Homemade with Love is a book that you will not only use to make delicious, healthy meals, but thoroughly love the stories that go along with it as well.

Made from scratch

I can’t wait to make this! You can find the recipe online at

Lentil Ricotta "Meatballs"

Love this girl!!! Esti and Jennifer Perillo
Esti and Jennie

All of the above the photos from the event were taken by Lisa McDonald. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images with us.

Extended Clip from Disney’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Disney Oz Picture


I just received this extended clip from Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful. My 5 year old saw it and can’t wait to see it again. This is a great movie for the entire family.

Thanks to my friends at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures for sharing this clip with me.

Disney Oz

Award-Winning Disney New Concept Store Opens in Queens, NY and GIVEAWAY

Disney Store Giveawaymagic mirrorunlocking the store

I just found out that this Saturday, January 12th, the Disney Store will celebrate the grand opening of its award-winning new concept store at Queens Center in Elmhurst, NY. Since this is happening on Shabbos, I will not be there for the grand opening. However, I am really excited to know that an indoor destination of this magnitude is available in Queens.

The Disney Store’s new design aims to deliver “magical moments for guests of all ages” through immersive experiences, including a Disney Princess castle with magic mirror, translucent magical trees, Disney∙Pixar CARS neighborhood, and the Disney Store Theater, featuring the latest in Disney entertainment. The interactive shopping destination features magical experiences for Disney fans of all ages to enjoy. This sounds outstanding! Even for this Disney fan!

When it comes to Disney and grand openings, every piece of spectacular is in the plan. For example, one child will “unlock imagination” with a beautiful oversized lock and key and officially open the Scarborough Disney Store location at 10a.m. on January 12th. I was glad to know that Disney Store’s signature opening ceremony will take place every day at the Queens Center location, giving many more children an opportunity to create an unforgettable Disney Store experience. Observing the Sabbath is the highlight of my week. However, for those of you who don’t and plan on attending, I have been informed that the first 500 guests to attend the grand opening celebration will receive a free gift. From noon to 4 p.m. a meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie Mouse will take place in the main Court area of the shopping center, with an opportunity for guests to take photos with the characters*.

“Disney Store brings the magic of Disney to life every day in Elmhurst,” said Paul Gainer, senior vice president of Disney Store North America. “We’ve created an interactive shopping destination that offers technology-infused, engaging experiences for the entire family to enjoy.” The only other magic needed her is the ability for my kids to walk out of the store without breaking the bank!

Since launching its new design in 2010, Disney Store has been transforming its stores into magical retail experiences to the delight of guests around the world. As guests enter the store and look above, they will see a unique skyline with iconic Disney storytelling scenes and Elmhurst landmarks.

In celebration of this new Disney Store, I am giving away a Disney Store Gift Bag:

Leave a comment below with what you would love to find at the Disney Store for a chance to win. This giveaway will end on Friday, January 18. This contest is open to US residents only.
To find a Disney Store location, guests can visit or call (866) 902-2798.
Guests can also sign up for email alerts at , become a fan on or follow them on Twitter to stay connected to your favorite destination.
*Characters alternate every 30 minutes. Character appearances are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Crafts, Karaoki …and Snow! Radio Disney Delivers to the Desert

by Audrey Matalon-Rogers

Like all things pint size and worth getting excited about (like mini muffins), Radio Disney tailored New Year’s Eve for the kids at the Phoenix Zoo. There were great incentives for parents to attend such as a sweepstakes to win 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, a trip to Disney Park and the Justin Bieber concert. But even more incentives for the kids like tons of snow that Disney brought to the desert.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Update

by Audrey Matalon-Rogers owner, Esti Berkowitz, has taken a stand for using “Social Media for the Social Good”. So following her lead and her passion I offer you the following link to the story, “Inspired to Act #26Acts”. Inspired by 1 person but taken up by many around the world, people are commiting to 26 acts of kindness to remember the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Can you imagine our world if every single person participated in #26Acts ?  Please go to Twitter and use hash #26Acts.

Please take a minute to reflect on the short lives of 6 year olds, Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, the first 2 victims laid to rest today.
Noah Poznerjack pinto

Ordinary Days

Audrey Matalon-Rogers

How many times have we had an ordinary day? Thought it was boring, not even worth a reflection. Many people wish they’d had an ordinary, boring day last Friday.
By now most Americans have heard about the young man who changed lives, destroyed lived, took lives, killing 26 people (20 are children between 5-10 years old) at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

broken hearts

There are many articles you can read on the subject, Who was he? Why did he do it? Was he mentally ill? Who’s fault is it?
But right now it seems prayers for those in pain, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, and maybe reaching out in some way is the important thing.

Click here for more ways to help.

candlelight vigil teddy bears

And remembering, especially while we are in the “holiday season”, the season of miracles, we can adjust our Miracle Glasses and recognize our ordinary day is a cluster of miracles taken for granted.

 Our hearts go out to all those directly affected and the innocent souls who lost their lives.  Please leave a comment and tell PrimeTimeParenting about your

Raising a Thinker

Contributed by Audrey Matalon-Rogers

All I want is to raise children who think. “Thinking” defined by Websters is to have an intention; to have an opinion; to exercise the powers of judgment, conception, or inference.

I believe that cultivating ‘thinking’ starts young, very young and requires time spent learning and exercising the mind in conscious, intentional ways. I’ve heard lectures on early childhood education. The main theory is that unstructured play develops thinking and creativity. Children naturally engage in play when unobstructed, so I wondered what could enhance children’s natural inclination to play and learn, and think.


As I walked into 2012 Time To Play Holiday Showcase looking for what toys are on the horizon, my experience would be framed in…Which will help my kids develop their thinking and emotions? Are there any toy brands conspiring with me to raise thinkers?

If your desire for thinkers is similar to mine then please take a look at the special toy finds from this year’s Time To Play event…

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It’s easy to tell an Eric Carle item. The incredible artist and children’s storybook writer has an admirable understanding and appreciation for the minds of children evident in his toy and book product line. Colors so vibrant and saturated are an instant draw for children, almost like looking at luminous colors in a bed of flowers. His characters, animals and bugs have perfect imperfections; quirky, boxy, rigid edges. It gives an illusion as if he cut shapes and textures from various materials and pasted them together. I’m glad my children will be exposed to Eric Carle’s art because I want them to have appreciation for the natural, not things that have been worked over…10+ times!
Enhancing what naturally exists in children, I was happy to see he’s branched out into the tactile realm of toys and play. There’s the Days of the Week Playmat for children and the activity bar for babies which attaches to a car seat or play pen and helps to widen the baby’s awareness for details, since it has so many. It’s a beautiful, soft version of his hungry caterpillar.
To note his persevering influence, I found The Grouchy Ladybug in a second hand children’s store in Phoenix AZ, The Very Hungry Caterpillar in a box of random books a friend game me and as part of Kohls’Cares, which donates profits to children in need, I found Eric Carle books and toys near the checkout at Kohls.


The creators of are dads definitely on course for making learning lively and enjoyable. They are now the creators of StoryBots , animated tools for learning through play. (Please read my post about StoryBots for a more detailed profile.)

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vtech always operates on the forefront of what’s next in technology and how they can bring it to children. Children’s tablets are expected to be a big hit this holiday season. You can see vtech‘s InnoTab tablet in the picture above. Leap Frog also has a tablet, LeapPad but vtech’s rep assured me in comparison it’s InnoTab is superior and point for point a better buy. Vtech’s InnoTab is $80 and LeapPad $100. LeapPad has a set 2 GB while Vtech expands to 16 GB. While they have the same size screen, the InnoTab is a bigger frame, which I like as a shock absorber. I find vtech very durable in design. Just this morning my 2 year old, Azzie, was throwing the vtech Move & Crawl Activity Ball repeatedly on the floor. It’s still working!
The vtech also has the Alphabet Activity Cube which is an electronic version of the standard activity cube, but with removable pieces. While I have not personally tested the InnoTab (or the LeapPad, or the Alphabet Activity Cube), I do trust vtech to produce educational and stimulating toys at a decent price, and that will last for years.

Another avenue of the tech and electronics genre is social gaming networks. While I definitely don’t want my children to replace friendships with electronics I do acknowledge social gaming networks are here and are reaching children younger and younger. So it’s my responsibility to investigate this arena and see how it can fit into the goals I have as a parent.


Moshi Monsters is one of the most popular social gaming networks for kids right now. The brand, Moshi Monsters, is committed to “fun, education and safety.” My children are too young, but I did go to the site to see how they execute “fun, education and safety”.
One of the first things that happen is parents are asked to permit their child to become a “User”. As a User, children may invite their friends for heavily monitored interactions within the social network. The next layer includes the User to adopt a pet monster. Their monster becomes like their child, and requires the User to care for the monster while solving puzzles and playing games. With successful solving of puzzles and games your child earns a form of money which they spend on items for their monster. What a valuable experience.
It will be a few years before my  children will be of age for the Moshi Monster experience but I strongly encourage parents of children 6-12 years old to at least visit the site. It’s a beautiful concept.

ImageDo you think Mit Romney lost the Presidency because he threatened Sesame Street funding? It’s believable! Sesame Street is inarguably a pillar of American society and deeply loved by millions. More than just having a childhood memory of Sesame Street, Big Bird, Elmo, Grover and the Count, many people attribute their early childhood education to the gang on Sesame Street. Now the Sesame Street character can interact with your child, or Mit Romney.
Yes, it’s Xbox & Elmo! It’s Kinect Sesame Street. Children ages 3+ can participate in a story plot or play a game and with Grover or Elmo. The characters can virtually catch a ball your child has thrown at them. It’s crazy and fantastic at the same time. Individual episodes are $5. Eight 30-minute episodes on two discs is $30.

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This year I fell hard for Nickelodeon. Probably because I have a child of age that shows me how powerful the Nickelodeon programs can be. At the event I was given a Team UmiZoomi DVD. I had not seen the program before this. It’s now one of Azzie’s favorite DVD’s! Prior to Azzie’s love of Team UmiZoomi and Sid The Science Kid I was against sitting “my child” in front of TV believing it would encourage mental and creative LAZINESS. Honestly I have changed my viewpoint with the quality that is coming from Nickelodeon…and StoryBots… and Disney.


I have depended upon the iconic Disney to support my quest for purity and creativity. I could go on about Disney products for days. My newborn is in DisneyBaby clothes. I have used The Lion King as a bribing tool to get Azzie to eat his dinner. And Disney inspired baby and child gear have helped me get this far (as mom). Tigger has been in Azzie’s crib since he’s 7 months old. New Disney product this holiday season is Bouncing Tigger. He bounces on his coiled tail. You might ask why I’m mentioning a Tigger doll when I’m talking about raising thinkers. In my opinion, Azzie’s 3 Tigger dolls have offered him security and an experience of friendship. And part of being a thinker and having confidence stems from a healthy emotional foundation.


Shrinky Dinks continues to be a favorite. The Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker has been chosen one of the Best Picks For Children’s Products 2012. How do you improve upon great? I love Shrinky Dinks for the amount of involvement it requires; eye-hand coordination, artistic expression, planning the design to fit its final purpose. For example, if you are making a charm to wear then you need to cut a hole where a cord can be strung through. Answering the question, ‘How do you improve upon great?’ With the Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker being an oven children can put Shrinky Dinks cutout on the small tray and slide it in the Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker themselves. From a window on top they can watch the plastic take form which will mesmorize them for at least the first 50 Shrinky Dinks.

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From classics like Disney, Sesame Street and Shrinky Dinks to new comers, Armorteria The brand is the essence of what you would expect from people raised to think and create. The product is Sani-CuFFS, a wrist cuff that stocks hand sanitizer, squirting out a portion when it’s squeezed. The Sani-CuFFS are trendy wristbands designed with various characters and colors.

Ever had a teacher whom you feel impacted your future? I had a few who I still think about things they said, what they believed in or how they carried themselves. Because of the impact that school teachers have on the minds of children I want to share the process that led up to the creation of Sani-CuFFS… Two school teachers from Queens, NY, started working on this product after teaching their classes. They encouraged their students to be part of the project, interjecting students’ ideas, opinions and designs. What a strong message to their students about thinking outside convention and about their own ability for creating something in the world! I like everything about this product and am happy to see teachers who inspire our kids.

Summing up: On my quest to raise thinkers… (with brands like these) I can see I’m not alone.

Find Yourself Fridays/ WANTED: An 8th Day…for Moms Only

Contributed by Audrey Matalon-Rogers

I’m in this quandary about time. How is it there’s never enough? 

A few weeks ago we celebrated Rosh Hashana which marks the beginning of a new luna year. Now Jews around the world begin reading the Torah from the beginning, again. “In the beginning…” in the Torah, it says G-d created day and night. Was this the first marking of time? Was that when pressure began? Does pressure exist without time? 7 days is just not enough when you’re a mom.

I know peaceful living is important, feels better and is better for me. But it takes time to get… Zen. And if you live in the Mother’hood as I do (that’s the neighborhood where time’s a scarce resource, patience is thin as film and demands fog all sight) we need to ‘arrange time’ to ‘have time’ for peaceful-living. But we ‘need time’ to ‘arrange time’ in order to ‘have time’ for peaceful-living. It’s known by many that Moms can do, fix, arrange, create and recreate anything. Can we do the impossible, redesigning the 24/7 week?

To add on to the confusion about time and how to make more of it, as a massage therapist for 20 years (pre-motherhood) I definitely was one-of-those-people who pontificated ‘you have to make the time for yourself” or “carve it out if necessary”. If I had been a mom during my years of Zen advising it might have sounded very different.

Meditate… Mediate your kid’s fights. Bribe with cookies if necessary.
Breathe deeply… Breathe deeply, shallow, pant–anything. Every chef-waitress-driver-cleaner-24/7 butler- needs oxygen to stay awake.
Stretch… For earplugs to block out baby crying.
Make gratitude list… Make a survival list.
Go for a conscious walk… Go for an unconscious Ben & Jerry’s blitz.
Take a relaxing shower or bath… It’s raining. Take the garbage out, get the mail—by any means steal the time to get wet.

Maybe that’s why on the 7th day, the Sabbath, Gd rested. But moms still have to be Mom on the Sabbath.
And after hours. And on vacation, holidays and snow days. Back to my original quandary of being short on time to fulfill all my roles.

And wondering, would pressure to get “it all” done exist without time? Is time just a function of a collective illusion or ordained by Gd?
Could Gd have created an
8th day…a “day of rest” just for moms?
Or is it too late?

Leave a comment if you want to join the collective illusion of an 8th Day: Rest Day for Moms

The Story Behind StoryBots: The Story of Dads Gone Wild

Contributed by Audrey Matalon-Rogers and

Wonder what happens when dads go wild? When they’re super-committed dads operating at the extreme end of creativity and business savvy, they end up with StoryBots!

Before we get to StoryBots, let’s connect the story dots…

●Gregg and Evan are brothers from the east coast. Jerseylicious to be specific.

Photo by Steve Labadessa/ BusinessWeek

Fast forward:
●Evan is (brilliant) creative end. ●Gregg uses his business sense and sees opportunity for a new kind of media company.

(photo from JibJab blog)
●Together in 1999 they create JibJab.

●Together in 2000, the crash, they went broke.
But along with their ability to see and integrate the currents of technology, business trends and traditional human need for humor, connection and cerebral stimulation, the 2 young guys have the freedom to take risks and producing edgy, roasting material.●
Their 2004 Presidential election satire video has unexpected popularity. JibJab wisely uses this as a spring board, putting at the tip of typing fingers.

Fast forward again:
●Evan & Gregg have added wives…then children(in that order). Now what for the edgy, sometimes ●raunchy, JibJab?

●The kid’s market. JibJab produces JibJab Jr., iPad apps for personalizing children’s books using child’s photo and name.
Their latest, and maybe their greatest to date, of their clever and playful creations…StoryBots!●

I had the pleasure to meet Gregg and Evan at Time To Play 2012 where they showcased StoryBots.
I decided to show you the StoryBots for letter A, because StoryBots is “A”mazing.

These are excellent learning tools that will allow your child to absorb the lessons through play and in an age appropriate style. Kudos to the artists who developed these adorable and relatable cartoon images, music and lyrics. I feel very grateful I will be able to offer this to my children as soon as they’re ready.

Look at these precious characters! It’s hard not to fall in love with StoryBots, not to mention Gregg and Evan, the wildly creative, smart, playful dads-next-door.

I did not receive compensation for this post. The only thing I received was promotional material which included a few songs and 2 StoryBots letters, all of which you can find for free on My commentary here is from my heart because living in a country where our educational system is failing our children I’m forever grateful that we have thoughtful, talented people producing products that are valuable beyond itself. Please support business’ such as JibJab/StoryBots that are of the few (very needed) brands that while making profit are looking to improve quality of life.

Changing the Menu on “Finding Yourself Friday”

Contributed by Audrey Matalon-Rogers

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead.

I was going to write about something else for Finding Yourself Friday. But today I’m feeling too successful with causing a change for the betterment of a small group of young children’s health.

About 2 weeks ago my son’s nursery school announced they would be offering lunches for purchase on Monday’s and Friday’s. Preparing my son a healthy lunch that he will actually eat when I’m not there to spoon it into his mouth is something I currently do 5 days a week, every morning so that it’s fresh. Initially when I heard they were planning to offer lunch 2 days of the week I was ecstatic.

Until I read that Monday’s was to be fish sticks, pasta and corn and Friday’s would be pizza, French fries and corn. The thought of these things made me sick. Thinking they would be filling up their little 2 year old bodies made me sicker.

I spoke to interim administrator and asked to please read online articles about the ills of French fries, especially for young children. More articles about corn and white pasta. The pizza and fish sticks are not great but with the side dishes of pasta, French fries and corn—-YUK!

The Administrator went to head of school who told her, ‘Leave it the way it is. The parents aren’t complaining.’ Even though I was resigned there would ever be a change I spoke to my son’s teacher and to 2 other moms I suspected might be interested. One of those moms is related to owners of school. But even she said, ‘Don’t get your hopes up. The parents here do not care.’

Today I received an email saying there was a change in the menu. Monday Menu: Pasta, Fish Sticks, Sliced Cucumbers/Tomatoes/Peppers & bottled water. Friday Menu: Pizza, Steamed Vegetables, Sliced Apples & bottle water.

Not perfect. Definitely a step in the right direction.