Recently on Craving Boston: Power Café

*Updated 2/15/2020: Unfortunately Power Café has closed.*

Power Cafe

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll take a look at my most recent article on Craving Boston, where I interview Galit Schwartz. She opened Power Café, a new bakery in Watertown founded on good food and inclusion of those with developmental disabilities. Two things that are very important to me.

You may recall my fundraising for All Aboard The Arc! and my affiliation with the Brockton Area Arc, whose mission is “to work in partnership with, and for, the community to provide advocacy, information, and direct services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.”

Speaking with Schwartz and learning how she became involved with the disability community and creating a cafe was so inspiring. I hope you’ll be inspired too!

Screenshot: Craving Boston

Special Day Cooking: A Life Skills Cookbook

Special Day Cooking cookbook cover

When I heard about a cookbook written especially for people who love to cook and have an intellectual disability, I was interested in learning more, so I accepted a review copy to look at myself.

The author, Beverly Worth Palomba is originally from Massachusetts, but moved to the West Coast. As a high school Special Education teacher, she created a life skills cooking class especially for her students. Since Palomba’s unique method of teaching worked so well, she decided to write a cookbook. An excerpt from her website gives more insight.

Special Day Cooking was written to help people with developmental challenges become independent in the kitchen. Whether you are living at home, in a group home or on your own, Special Day Cooking provides the tools to be independent or part of a team. Special Day Cooking chefs have the ability to prepare dinner, pack their own lunch, and bring a goodie to a social event. Cooking involves so many aspects of life; it is creative, builds social skills, fosters teamwork, encourages self-confidence and is a fun activity to do with family and friends.

I haven’t made any of the recipes from the cookbook, but I’m impressed with the variety and the easy feel of it. There are recipes for every meal of the day, soups and salads, vegetables, drinks and snacks. And my favorite – dessert! There is even a recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake!

I love cooking and think that the more people who cook their own food the better. Saving money and healthier eating are also big benefits of cooking, so having this life skill exponentially increases the positives in our lives.

This book is a great idea and would make a wonderful gift for anyone who enjoys spending time preparing food and has an intellectual disability or is just a beginner cook. Either way, Special Day Cooking is a cookbook that will provide some tasty food and lots of fun!

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 Disclosure: The review copy was provided complimentary to me. Thank you!

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Screenshot: Amazon

#GivingTuesday: Brockton Area Arc

Brockton Area Arc logo

What is #GivingTuesday? It’s “a global day dedicated to giving back.” If you’re looking for a worthy organization to support this Giving Tuesday, the Brockton Area Arc (BAArc) is one of the best! Just go to the website and click on the donate button.

Brockton Area ArcI’ve written about this organization many times before and give my time as a member of the Board of Directors.

The Brockton Area Arc is one of more than 700 national and local chapters of The Arc, which is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism and acquired brain injury. This organization is on the front lines to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the support they need to be members of the community.

The local chapter has been a great help for my brother and my family. Below is an excerpt from a post that I wrote a couple of years ago.

One of the things that I want to especially point out is the work of BAArc’s Family Support Center. It provides information, education, and referral services to help parents manage the challenges of raising a child with disabilities.

Support groups and parent meetings let families connect with other families, share resources and build support networks. There is a Sunday Recreation Program, Extended Day Programs, and Sibshops, for brothers and sisters of individuals with special needs. Being a sibling is how I became involved with BAArc.

Also, the Brockton Area Arc has made a special effort to make sure that all families benefit from their services by hiring coordinators to reach out specifically to the Haitian and Cape Verdean communities in the Brockton area. The coordinators speak Haitian Creole and Cape Verdean Creole, so that people can feel comfortable speaking their native languages.

Happy Giving Tuesday! I hope that you will consider making a donation to the Brockton Area Arc!

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Photo Credit: Brockton Area Arc

A Blind Tasting at Perkins School for the Blind

Food for blind tastingSome people may dread reading their email each day. I look forward to seeing what opportunities each message brings. One wonderful email was about an annual event called Taste of Perkins at Perkins School for the Blind, which I attended a few weeks ago.

Fellow food blogger Molly Parr of Cheap Beets, works in the development department at Perkins and gave my name as a blogger who might be interested in covering the event. I’m so glad she did! By the way, Molly also writes a fun column called Four Questions, where she interviews interesting people for

Most of you are probably familiar with Perkins School for the Blind. Born in 1880, Helen Keller was probably its most famous student. The school is now in its third century and continues to educate and serve children and adults with visual impairments. Most students are not just blind, but have several disabilities. Many students are deaf too. Perkins is located in Watertown, Massachusetts and has over 200 students in its residential and day programs.

While Perkins has made monumental changes for those living with visual impairments and to the perception of the blind around the world, there is still more work to be done. They are still trying to raise awareness that even now, “in New England, around the nation and throughout the world, many people who are visually impaired are not receiving the services they need to be healthy and independent.”sensory toys at Perkins

There is an increased need for services by seniors who are losing their sight. Plus, many premature babies who wouldn’t have survived years ago, now are living with vision and hearing problems. As Perkins increases services, their need for financial support grows as well. Taste of Perkins raised over $100,000.00 this year. Hopefully, even more will be raised next year! But you don’t have to wait to help the school, your donation is much appreciated at any time.

While at the event, they had some great food to snack on. Max Ultimate Food did the catering. The mini take-out boxes were so cute! They were good too. There was pasta, vegetables and two huge shrimp. I had to restrain myself to only eat one. Kim’s Candy Buffet was a huge hit! People were going to town grabbing a variety of candies that were displayed and there for the taking. Talk about letting your inner child out to play!

There were interactive sensory displays where we could learn about some of the toys available for kids at the school as well. I tried the game above where you feel the balloons and guess what is inside them. I got them all right!

There were students at the event helping out and giving information about the school. I was especially grateful for the guides that were outside. The campus is huge and after I parked, I really had no idea where I was going. They had people standing outside at different points showing us which way to go. It makes sense that a school focused on those who cannot see would be especially sensitive to people unfamiliar with their new surroundings. It was much appreciated!

Perkins Book GroupPerkins is also reaching out to the community and not just serving those students on campus. I was really impressed with the new  Library Without Walls program by the Perkins Library. Since I was a child, libraries have always been a home away from home for me. I still go all the time and love taking out books to read. I have a new stack right now! Plus, I’ve had fun being part of a book group.

For those with visual impairments, the neighborhood library usually is not quite enough. Library Without Walls is for people all over Massachusetts who are blind or print-disabled, where patrons can call in for a series of events to discuss books and hear guest speakers over the phone. Perkins is breaking down barriers, so that a visual impairment isn’t keeping individuals from enjoying what life has to offer.

“This is our way of replicating what a local library offers,” Perkins Library Outreach Coordinator Debby Smith said. “We’re offering programs so anyone from Pittsfield to Provincetown can participate.”

At a typical town library, local residents can drop in to discuss a bestselling novel at a book club or listen to guest speakers in person. However, the Perkins Library serves a much more geographically diverse audience, and many of its patrons have limited access to transportation.

“A lot of our borrowers are pretty isolated,” Perkins Library Director Kim Charlson said. “They can’t drive. So being able to bring an author into their homes via the telephone no matter where they live in Massachusetts really lowers that barrier, so they can have those same library opportunities.”

While I was walking around, I also was lucky enough to have a chance to speak with Amber Bobnar, founder and curator of which is now a project funded by Perkins. Resources for Parents of Blind ChildrenShe created WonderBaby in 2006, a year after the birth of her son Ivan. He has visual impairments and she was not finding the information that she needed that specifically dealt with babies. Most of the information available was for older children and adults. As she started researching, she decided to compile what she was finding into one place. In 2011, WonderBaby teamed up with Perkins. Bobnar still runs the site and also has a blog. Among other things, sometimes she comes up with DIY sensory toys and games that parents can make at home, like the balloon game above.chandeliersAfter visiting the different displays, I headed into the main event. The blind taste testing. There were many  people waiting in line, but it was worth the wait. The picture above is the ceiling of the big room where the tasting was held. Isn’t it pretty?

Before entering the room, I had to put on a blindfold. Then I was guided to a chair and given directions to sit down. Once you cannot see, you really have to trust the person who is leading you. It was a rather disconcerting feeling. Perkins blind taste testingI really enjoyed two of the wines, but the other two were not to my liking. I was asked to describe them, but it was rather difficult. I was able to tell white wines from red and did not enjoy the red. I could tell dry from sweet, but sadly could not delight with references of smoky notes or anything like that.

I loved all the food and would have liked to have eaten more. I especially enjoyed the s’more on a stick! It was so good! But torture to eat just one!

So that was my Taste of Perkins experience. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Disclosure: I was invited to the event by Perkins and my admission was complimentary. Thank you!