Posts Tagged ‘ getting your kids to do stuff ’

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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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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How To Get Kids To Eat Veggies

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Jamie DeenI recently was lucky enough to eat lunch with Jamie Deen of The Food Network. The event was sponsored by Hidden Valley Original Ranch, and was promoting healthy eating for children. Deen’s mom is Paula Deen, whose recipes are certainly known for being delicious—but not necessarily for being healthy. Jamie, however, is the father of two boys, ages 6 and 17 months, so he has made it his mission to make sure they eat nutritious foods every day.

Here are some of his tips for parents on getting kids to eat those veggies and other healthy foods:

1. Get them eating healthy foods right away. “I think it’s important that you start them off when they’re young,” Deen says. “That’s really the key.” He and his wife bought a baby food maker and use it with fresh fruit and vegetables like butternut squash. Then, they’ll put some of the mix into an ice cube tray and freeze them, so they can pop them out later and feed to Matthew, his youngest son. “He’s eating different tastes and different textures at 17 months and that opens up his palate,” Deen explains.

2. Lead by example. “Kids emulate what they see,” he says. “If you’re eating healthy, it’s part of their life and that’s just what they eat. That’s what I cook, that’s what’s at the table, and that’s what we eat.”

3. Let kids get involved with meal preparation. “If my older son touches the food in the production stage, the more he’s likely to eat it and take ownership of it,” Deen explains. “He’s like, ‘Oh, I made this and this is mine.’” Deen and his wife encourage him to decorate his fish with zest or help his mom make fruit smoothies.

4. Pack a lunch. Deen makes sure to include a simple sandwich like peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and jelly, along with a fruit cup and pretzels.

5. Find new options, if necessary. If your child really cannot stand one particular food, look around and see if you can find a substitute. “Or, use a little low fat ranch dip and that helps mask some of the bitterness for the kids,” Deen suggests. “If that’s the trick you use to get your kids to eat more fresh vegetables, then that’s a good option too.”

Photo courtesy of Hidden Valley

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Loving the Black & Decker Toy Leaf Blower

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

It’s fall in the ‘burbs—the comforting smell of fireplace fires wafting down the street, Saturday afternoons swallowed by soccer…and the sound of leaf-blowers whirring in my neighbors’ yards 24/7. Can you guess which of these three seasonal mainstays most captivates my 5-year-old, gizmo-loving son? Yep, the leaf blowers. Hearing the familiar roar of motors again reminded Julian of the Let’s Play Black & Decker leaf blower we’d given his friend Teddy for his birthday last year—and he began hounding me for one of his own.

I typically belong to the new-toys-are-for-Christmas-and-your-birthday camp, but when he volunteered, for the first time, to pay for the tool with his own moola, I caved. Julian painstakingly counted out $20 of the $23 of Grandma-money in his bedroom. I braced myself for eventual tears, figuring he’d get tired of the toy in an hour and want his, er, money back. Wrongo! He gets a major kick out of faux blowing our backyard. If it this thing had a real motor, our lawn would be immaculate.

I asked my resident landscaper what’s so amazing about his new toy:

So, Jules, what do you like about the leaf blower? It looks so cool I want to marry it. It makes noise and has a blade inside with all these beads, and when you turn it on, all the beads inside spin.

Was it worth the money? I don’t know, but I’ve still got a whole bunch of money, so nothing to worry about.

You missed a spot. Even if it doesn’t have air to blow, I still like it because it looks like a leaf blower and it makes a cool noise. Real gardeners blow leaves with a backpack on their back, though, so I should wear one of those, too.

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Eco Crafts: Recycled Bottle Top Art

Friday, July 29th, 2011



I’m one to collect abandoned aluminum cans, paper tower tubes, plastic bottles, milk jugs, and egg cartons (I could go on) for craft projects, but honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this collection of drink bottle tops!

These kids made a cool mosaic in the style of Kandinsky, like the painting above.

High art, with a green twist.  Found via Crafty Crow, originally posted on Kunstraum.

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Sidewalk Chalk Quilt

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

chalk quilt-1584

chalk quilt-1591

There are so many things I love about these photos…

  1. That gorgeous property in Boulder, CO. Don’t you want to live there?
  2. The cement grid in the front yard—imagine playing checkers with large, plastic jar lids!
  3. The vibrant chalk quilt (totally kid-created) that Anne of Flax & Twine came home to.

Even if you don’t have this unique pavement feature, you can make your own chalk quilt by taping off squares with masking tape. Just check the forecast—all that hard work to be washed away the next day would be a craft-tastrophe!

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Earth Day Craft Extravaganza

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The Crafty Crow is doing a great series of posts asking the question “What can you make with ______?”. These are the perfect eco-crafts for, you guessed it, Earth Day! (That’s tomorrow if you forgot!) Now go root through your recycling bin and get crafty!


Beautiful bottle cap crafts.


Egg-celent egg carton crafts.


Precious plastic crafts.


Whimsical wine cork crafts.

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The Color of Love

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010


Valentine’s Day is one of my very favorite excuses to craft, and if you’re looking for a non-sugary, inexpensive gift, look no further. The Long Thread posted this adorable heart crayon, made by melting crayon scraps, but she took it one step further by mounting it on this sweet card! And she’s that nice that you can dowload two different heart cards from her blog for free.

Now that’s true love!

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