Posts Tagged ‘ DIY ’

Traditional Christmas Cake, French-Style

Friday, December 20th, 2013

To me, French is the most beautiful language. It floats like a cloud and feels romantic. It’s the language of love. In high school, I worked my butt off to become proficient, taking honors-level classes, joining French club, and even becoming a teacher’s aid. I had dreams of keeping it in my daily life and raising bilingual children. Unfortunately, like a flower, language is delicate and must be tended everyday in order to flourish. When I got to college, my schedule doubled and I didn’t hold a single conversation en français.

Enter the French Institute Alliance Français (FIAF), a non-profit organization in New York City that promotes cross-cultural dialogue for children and adults alike. One of the largest and most respected centers of French-American activities in the U.S., FIAF offers art and education workshops for families.

Last Saturday, I tagged along to FIAF’s holiday bûche de Noël cooking class, where kiddos spoke elementary-level French to their moms and dads—c’est manifique!—while slathering layers of sponge cake with rich chocolate icing (and tons of red and green candies). Taught by Sylvie Berger, a chef raised in Paris, the class fully immersed children in the French language and was sprinkled with bits of English.

The bûche de Noël (“Christmas log,” or “Yule Log”) is a rolled sponge cake filled with buttercream and traditionally decorated with meringue mushrooms, marzipan holly, and wood-grain scored frosting. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Celtic celebrations of the winter solstice, but French pastry chefs popularized the confection in the 19th century and each bakery became known for its unique and elaborate embellishments. Today, few French people celebrate Christmas without one of these cakes.

Though messy, making the baby bûche was a blast! Take a look at my mini how-to video (click the play button), then make your own Christmas cake using one of the recipes below.




Want more? Check out these recipes for easy holiday treats!

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Pasta Prints

Monday, November 25th, 2013

DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.


Spaghetti-Stamped Tote Bag

“Growing up, Sundays meant pasta; Mondays, school and then pasta. And Tuesday: leftover pasta,” Alison says. “Here is the result of a lifetime of playing with food when I wasn’t supposed to and having far too much access to every kind of spaghetti and ravioli ever made.”

Canvas tote bag
Rigatoni pasta
Fabric paint
Drop cloth (or newspaper)

1. Lay out a drop cloth or newspaper on a flat surface and smooth the tote bag on your workspace.
2. Dip one open end of a rigatoni pasta into fabric paint and press firmly but evenly onto the canvas.
3. Repeat in any pattern you like (in a variety of colors!) and then allow to dry according to paint instructions.


Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:

  • Swap it: Instead of tote bags, paint pillowcases, tee shirts, or canvas sneakers. Or, use acrylic paint to stamp card stock, wood plaques, or terra cotta pots.
  • Search for more unexpected stamps: Test out pretzels, clementine wedges, Cheerios or Froot Loops, flowers, corks, buttons, straws, and pencil erasers.
  • Need more ideas? Check out Parents fruit and veggie stamps.
  • Try it freehand: Draw small plus signs and scalloped petal patterns—then stay in the lines.
  • Challenge your kiddos: Ask them to name shapes, count pasta pieces, and mix paint colors.


For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.

Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.

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Dip-Dye Design

Monday, November 18th, 2013

DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.


Berry Stationery

“Have left over blueberries in the fridge? Let’s make something of them!” Alison says.

3 cups water
1 cup blueberries
Card stock

1. Pour water into a pot and heat over a high flame until boiling.
2. Stir in blueberries and smash with a spoon or potato masher. Mix well and allow to cool slightly until lukewarm.
3. Dip card stock into dyed water and allow to dry completely before using. (Experiment with dipping times and angles.)


Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:

  • Swap it: Instead of blueberries, try beets, blackberries, tea, or turmeric spice.
  • Challenge your kids to count and measure the ingredients before you get started.
  • Explore and investigate! The color of your dye is true to what it looks like in the pot, so experiment with your measurements to create different shades.
  • To let stationery dry without disturbing the dye, secure the card stock to a wire hanger with clothespins.


For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.

Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.

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Punchy Placemats

Monday, November 11th, 2013

DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.


Pantone Placemat

“Create a color scheme that inspires you,” Alison says. “Lay it on the table. Have your hue and eat off of it, too.”

Clear Con-Tact paper (found at Michaels and Amazon)
Paint swatches

1. Cut two identical rectangles from Con-Tact paper.
2. Peel one rectangle of Con-Tact paper from the adhesive backing and lay it sticky side up, taping the corners to your workstation surface.
3. Arrange and overlap paint swatches on the Con-Tact paper.
4. Apply a second layer of Con-Tact paper on top of the paint swatches and press along the surface to eliminate air bubbles.
5. Pull the placemat free from the tape and use scissors to cut around the paint swatches.


Alison’s Extra Tips for Parents readers:

  • Swap it: Instead of paint swatches, ask your child to create custom artwork, drawings, and paintings for the project.
  • Make meal-time fun: Press coloring pages between two sheets of Con-Tact paper and let kids decorate uniquely every time (with washable markers or paint, bits of cereal or fruit).
  • Customize placemats to suit the theme of your little one’s birthday—guests can take them to use at home!
  • If your child has outgrown placemats, preserve his memorabilia—like baseball cards, concert tickets, sports game flyers, or newspaper clippings—between Con-Tact paper sheets. Hang laminated memories on the fridge or in his room.


For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.

Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.

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Cookie Cutter Craft

Monday, November 4th, 2013

DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.


Cookie Cutter Frames

“When I’m not baking cookies, I’m figuring out ways to put my most adorable confectionary cutters to work,” says Alison. “The result: a new way to display photographs.”

Cookie cutters

1. Place a cookie cutter (geometric shapes like stars and triangles work best) on top of a photograph.
2. Trace the outer edge of your cookie cutter with a pencil.
3. Cut the photograph along the traced edge.
4. Pop the cut-out photo into the back of the cookie cutter.
5. Attach double-sided tape to the backside of the cookie cutter to hang on a wall.


Alison’s Extra Tips for Parents readers:

  • If photos don’t fit perfectly into your cookie cutters, apply strips of washi tape (patterned Japanese tape—you can find it on Etsy or at craft stores) around the cutter’s back edge to secure the photo in its newfound frame.
  • Attach a magnet (instead of double-sided tape) to the backside of the cookie cutter for fun fridge frames.
  • Use finished frames as placeholders at holiday and birthday parties—or, send guests home with them as personalized favors!


For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.

Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.

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Young House Love Comes to Parents!

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

We were superexcited at Parents when two of our favorite bloggers–and first-time authors–John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love dropped by for a visit this week to talk about their debut book.

They were so fun to chat with and to have around, we would’ve kept them here all afternoon, if they didn’t have a flight to catch home to their kids. Followers of the Petersiks’ wildly popular DIY home-improvement blog–it gets 5 million hits per month–know that would be almost 3-year-old daughter Clara and beloved Burger, their chihuahua. (Daughter and dog get featured on their parents’ lovely spinoff blog, Young House Life.) But we did have a chance to talk to Sherry and John about their house, their blogs, the book, Sherry’s hair, John’s favorite project, and having a J.Lo moment….

Congrats on the book. Beautiful cover! Did you have a hand in it?

Sherry: It was a total group baby. Originally the book wasn’t going to be called Young House Love. It was going to be called Spruce. The subtitle is “243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love,” and we thought it would be wrong to have “love” in the title and subtitle. But then we were told, “Everyone loves your blog, it should be called Young House Love!”

John: Those wood letters that spell “house” were actually hand-carved and are in our home now.

Sherry: We threw on those keys on the “e” at the last minute.


And cute picture of you two on the cover….

Sherry: At first we didn’t want to be on it…

John: …and to have to look at our faces at every signing.

Sherry: Yeah, it was more like we didn’t want to see our faces big on the front every time. But our shot is small and we’re very happy with it!


How does it feel to be authors?

John: Throughout this whole process I was so excited to say my book is in a library somewhere, and that someone can check it out. It still has an element of being surreal. It’s exciting because not everyone reads blogs, and it’s nice to be able to dip our toe in different waters.


Do you notice you have new readers now, thanks to the book?

John: We were just taking about this at lunch!

Sherry: Someone will say, “I got your book as a gift at Christmas, and now I’m reading your blog.” We’re like, “Oh weird—it’s backwards!” For so long it’s been people reading our blog. So it’s funny to hear people who went book-then-blog.


What’s your favorite project?

Sherry: We have the same favorite project. It’s number-one in our book. [The project: "Faux Wallpaper the Back of Your Bookcase."]

John: It was one of the first ones we came up with.

Sherry: It’s gift wrap! It’s so easy. You probably have gift-wrap in your house already. You could do this on a rainy afternoon without leaving the house. Or you can use fabric or wallpaper or posterboard or foamboard. It’s really wrap anything with anything.

John: I have another favorite, though. It was that desk I painted. That took a very long time.

Sherry: Oh yeah, John was the tapemaster with that one.

John (pointing to project in the book, “Paint a Graphic Pattern on a Desk”): These were all individually cut pieces of tape, so I’m pretty proud of that! I was excited about how that came out. We didn’t need that piece for the house, so It was fun to loosen the reins and do bold colors.


It seems you’ve gotten bolder with your design picks over the years.

John: Before Clara was born, before we were parents, we tried very hard to make our house look like a “grown-up house,” like because we’re 25-year-olds who have a house, we have to make sure you can’t tell!

Sherry: Everything was beige. The cream slipcovers with cream pillows and a tan rug and tan walls!

John: And when we had Clara we realized, OK, we don’t have to convince people any more we’re adults. That gave us a little more confidence to be more playful, to realize we have a child—let’s be fun for her. We don’t have to put up these airs anymore.


What are some of the biggest misconceptions you think people have about decorating?

Sherry: I think the general fear is you have to hire someone who knows what they’re doing, like “I need to hire a design consultant,” or a painter. It’s surprising to me when someone who’s been reading our blog for years says, “I’m going to hire a painter to paint my bathroom.” I’m so tempted to say, “Don’t you dare! It’s a bathroom! It’s small and you can do it!” And it takes everything in me not to say it. Ultimately, though, people need to do whatever’s in their comfort zone.


What’s one of the more surprising questions you’ve received?

Sherry: Someone asked me if I wear thongs!


Um. What?!

Sherry: When I was really pregnant, someone asked me! I said, “I’m going to plead the fifth on that.” And I get loads of questions on my bangs—why aren’t I wearing bangs?


You’ve overhauled two houses, have an almost three-year-old, the dog, the book, the blog. How are you so productive?

Sherry: The truth is we sleep much less than we should. The misconception of blogging is, “What a cakewalk, you work at home.” But it’s like working for a newspaper and you do it all yourself: Every day there’s another story due, and some days you have two stories due, but you don’t have a photographer so you shoot it yourself, you edit yourself because you don’t have an editor or proofreader, and because it’s on the Internet you answer questions indefinitely. I’m answering questions for posts that are three years old, every morning, and then I’ve got new questions. Then I also have to find time to do projects. So we do 90 percent of our projects when Clara’s napping or sleeping for the night–mostly when she’s sleeping for the night

John: Or sometimes I’ll get up before she gets up.


What time do you get to bed?

John: About midnight.

Sherry: Sometimes we’ll light a room at night like a stage, and paint it then collapse into bed at 1 or 2 in the morning.

John: This is the year we said we’d find more balance, but….

Sherry: We’re learning, to say no more. We realize we don’t need to take every single thing, every interview.


With readers feeling such a connection with you and expecting so much, how do you decide which parts of your life go on the blog, and what stays off?

John: I think that’s a line everyone draws differently. I think many readers would like to know more. We judge it on a case-by-case basis. If people want us to write about potty training, we will—but we’re not going to share pictures about it. We think about whether this is something that might embarrass Clara later down the road….

Sherry: Right, like when she’s 13! The Internet is forever. The best thing I ever came up with was when I was lying in bed one night is: Our blog is like a window on our house. We know we don’t have shades on it, and we know people look in there, but there are a whole bunch of other windows with shades on it, and that’s the life people don’t see. Like when a family member’s ill, or when we get the flu, or we’re doing our taxes—we don’t talk about everything. We have a real life behind the windows, and the same is true with Clara. When we show a 30-second video of Clara, that was 30 seconds of her whole day.

John: You missed the tantrum, and the bath, and the mealtimes…

Sherry: Right! Its not like her whole life is on the Internet. You saw a video of her singing her favorite song, or a picture of her on her birthday—you’re not seeing her whole life.


Do you get recognized in public?

John: Yes!

Sherry: Yes, but it’s funny. We’ll go to an event and 700 people will be lined up to see us, then we go around the block to a restaurant and nobody knows who we are! So it’s funny because one minute you’re like, “Wow, people are yelling our name! They want pictures with us!” It’s like a J. Lo moment! And then we get on the plane, and no one knows who we are…

John: …and you’re quickly brought down to earth!

Sherry: In certain settings, we’re setting ourselves up…

John: Yeah, like Target or Ikea or Home Depot….

Sherry: Those are our places!


Be sure to check out Young House Love for more details about YHL, the book.

Thanks for visiting Parents, Petersiks!

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Crafting with Tori Spelling

Friday, June 22nd, 2012


Crafting’s gone cool. Think beyond twee crocheted potholders and macramé plant hangers. Spurred on by Etsy and Pinterest, the new crop of crafters can seemingly make anything. And now they’ll be put to the test: DIY folks do battle in “Craft Wars,” premiering on TLC on Tuesday, June 26. Each week, three contestants will go scissor-to-scissor in creative challenges, and one will win $10,000. We chatted with host (and mom of 3!) Tori Spelling about the new show, and her advice for crafting with kids—especially her little artists, 5-year-old son Liam and daughters Stella and Hattie (ages 4 and 8 months).

Parents: Why this show, and why now? Do you think that crafting is trending?

Tori Spelling: I’ve been an avid crafter my whole life, but the whole crafting movement has definitely changed. It went from hobby to DIY home when the economy went down. People started to figure out how to redecorate their home or make a fashion statement by crafting everything yourself. It brought a lot of people with many different interests together to create. Creation is passion!

Parents: Are there any craft blogs on your bookmarks list?

TS: I love PSIMadeThis (by Erica Domesek, one of our judges on “Craft Wars”), Curbly, DesignSponge, TipJunkie, and HonestlyWTF. We also show great crafts and DIY craft projects on my website, EdiTORIal.

Parents: What kinds of craft projects do you make with your kids?

TS: We craft weekly as a family. We sit at my kids’ small craft table for hours creating cards, tags, presents, and jewelry, and we paint pottery and canvases. We get glitter everywhere and laugh through the whole thing. So fun!

Parents: How do you store or display your kids’ artwork or craft projects? Any fun alternatives to tacking them up on the fridge?

TS: They each get their own clear art storage box. Then I show off their work in mismatched lacquered frames and make a picture wall of their art projects mixed in with great black-and-white family photos. I also decoupaged a bunch of their artwork on top of a table. Every time we use it, we see their amazing creations.

Parents: Do you have a go-to crafting tool?

TS: Mini glue gun. And twine. I use twine on everything!

Parents: What are some easy craft supplies parents should keep stocked? Is there anything you think that parents should avoid?

TS: We love colored paper, stamps, ink pads, markers, glitter, and jeweled embellishments like stones, rhinestones, and grommets. Glue is messy. Try glue dots, instead!

Parents: Any advice for containing kiddie-craft messes?

TS: Do crafts on layered newspapers. When you’re finished, fold the newspapers and toss them away. Easy clean up!

Parents: Will contestants be crafting any kid-oriented projects on “Craft Wars?”

TS: Yes! They’ll make stuffed-animal pillows and playhouses made out of school supplies.

Parents: What other challenges can we look forward to this season?

TS: A birdhouse from a junk drawer and jewelry made from the wires inside a boom box!


Want to show off your kids’ creations? Download our Pocket Galley iPhone app.

Photos courtesy of TLC.

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Shop for Greeting Cards on!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Have you ever found yourself lingering up and doWn the card isle searching through what seems like thousands of greetings for your child’s 5th birthday card, with less than thrilling results? If you answered yes, your card shopping and sending routine is about be revolutionized!

Meet Treat, a new customizable card website, that has simply delighted us around Parents HQ. To choose from one of Treat’s 4,500+ awesome designs – 300 of which are from Hallmark itself – go to, select a card template, then go to town editing the layout, inserting a personalized message, and adding pictures of your cute kids. You can even including gift codes that can be redeemed for gift cards, charity donations, or just plain cash. My favorite part is that the site allows you to create custom cards from thecomfort of your own home without sacrificing store-bought quality. In other words, no more sloppy printing and folding for the artistically inept.

Once you’ve completed your card design, you can choose to have the card mailed to yourself so you can hand deliver it, or have it mailed directly to a loved one.

Delivery typically ranges from 1 to 3 days. Even better: at only $3 each, these cards are a steal compared to store prices that tend to push the five-dollar mark. But don’t take our word for it…your first Treat card is FREE so you can try it yourself in time for Father’s Day and graduation season.

iPhone owners: Be sure to keep an eye out for the convenient Treat app coming out this summer!




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