Friday, January 28, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #26 - Teach Your Kiddos (and Yourself) To Laugh in the Face of Frustration

Emmanuelle, after "The Cocoa Incident"...

I have bad days... yes, it is true. We all do. Sometimes, I feel like maybe I present too rosy a picture of my life on this blog. I am an energetic person and I like to be upbeat, optimistic, and positive. But, of course, I am not always this way. I get frustrated, angry, and impatient. I am better about this, in a way, now that I have kids, but I am also tested on a much more frequent basis than before I had kids. I had all the patience in the world when I was a portrait photographer who mostly worked with pregnant moms, babies and kids. That's because they weren't MY kids. I remember thinking I would be infinitely patient with my own kids. Um, hmmmmm, am I? It depends on the day and the situation. I do think I am learning patience, but sadly, I can be less patient with my own kids than with those of others. Before kids I thought I would usually be on my best behavior, in control of my emotions, the bigger person, the shining example for my own kids. Hahahahaha! I think a few people did point out to me that it was a nice thought but...

This brings me to one of several trying incidents in our house this week. And to the fact that I sometimes surprise even myself...

Quin had asked me for cocoa. It was a good day for it so I set to work. The milk was heating on the stove, the Cocoa Camino was open and had a spoon in it, and all I needed were the marshmallows. I climbed onto the step stool, and reached for the bag on the highest shelf in the cupboard and then lost my grip. The next few moments were in slow motion, like in a movie, as the full bag of marshmallows dropped from up high directly down onto the end of the spoon that was in the cocoa container. The spoon flipped up, somehow sending the entire can of cocoa powder flying 6 feet to the left, dumping DIRECTLY onto the forehead of poor Emmanuelle who was innocently minding her own business. It beaned her on the head with a clatter and covered her in the cocoa that had not already spilled onto the stove top on the way to her head.

She was completely startled, not to mention covered in cocoa; her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her shoulders... She started screaming because she was scared, she was inhaling cocoa powder, and, well, it hurts to be knocked on the head with a can. Quin was now shrieking because of the loss of the precious cocoa and the fact that there was a huge mess (she and my mother share a fondness for order..). I rushed over to dust off my baby and to try to soothe her. At the same time, I was telling Quin it was OK. This is where I would normally have started muttering about the huge mess I now had to clean up on the stove, the floor, and the baby.

I would have normally started removing Emmanuelle's clothes, told Quin not to move because of the mess on the floor, and basically started feeling sorry for myself because of the added chore. But do you know what? Now that Emmanuelle was clearly ok, I looked around, and I started laughing. And I kept on laughing, even when Quin looked at me like I was crazy (and it was a genuine laugh NOT a crazy laugh). And because she was looking at me like that, I realized that I NEED to show her how to laugh at a situation like this. I NEED to laugh at myself and these types of incidents more often. I NEED to teach my kids that set backs and unforeseen challenges are not always a big deal and that laughing can instantly make you feel better, much better than yelling or feeling sorry for yourself.

Emmanuelle, Miss Happy-Go-Lucky, whose first inclination is to smile about anything, understood right away. She bent down and started writing with her finger in the powder, then she showed me her finger.

Seeing this, Quin started to loosen up, and I explained to her that sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves and at situations that are out of our control. I explained that not everything should be taken so seriously. I finished making the cocoa, complete with marshmallows, and I even gave a little to little Emmanuelle, who deserved it. The three of us laughed, and talked, and drank cocoa, BEFORE we cleaned up the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekly Recipe - Heidi Swanson's Multigrain Waffles

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum... that pretty much sums up these waffles. We eat these whenever we have the time for a leisurely breakfast. The batter comes together in a snap. I received this recipe in my inbox, right about the time I had started lamenting that our white flour waffles were good but not good for us. I know that this recipe is a keeper because my kids and husband like it BETTER than our white flour waffles. It is by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks where you can find TONS of healthy recipes. She has also written her own cookbooks, Super Natural which is amazing and Super Natural Everyday will be released soon. Since I have not received permission to repost Heidi's waffle recipe here on my site, I am going to just give you the link to the recipe on her site. Here it is... I just want to make note that if you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute by adding 1 T lemon juice per cup of milk. The hint of lemon flavor is lovely! Enjoy :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Newest Toy - Leica D Lux 5

Move over old toys, there is a new toy in town! Most of the old toys are as happy as I am, but one of them looks a bit worried... After three years of owning a Leica D Lux 3, which I used everyday, I decided it was time for the D Lux 5. I am not one to have the lastest thing, especially when it comes to camera equipment. If you know me, you know that my favorite cameras are my vintage Polaroids and my Holga. They are all very lo tech, analog film cameras. My Nikon D SLR is 8 years old, which is ancient in digital terms. Some professional photographers upgrade their cameras ever few years or more but I just don't see replacing something that I am comfortable using and that serves my needs. There is a certain snob factor in photography and because I don't like showing up to gigs where the client has a newer and better camera than I do (although it is true that it is not the camera but the eye of the photographer who knows how to use the camera...) I did sell my D70 recently and bought a D90. I will post on that soon. While I was selling things and saving money I decided to upgrade my Leica point and shoot. I LOVE Leica. And I bought my D Lux 3 after a lot of research. I wanted a point and shoot that I could bring everywhere, even travel with, when I didn't want to bring and babysit my "big" camera. The Leica D Lux series of cameras are pretty much D SLRS without being able to change lens. I can use the camera fully manual or select the aperture or shutter speed, or use program mode or auto. The D Lux 5 can even support an external flash unit. My Leica has been my constant companion for photographs of my kids and pretty much everything you see on this blog. She is now on her way to her new home, with photographer Barbra Ziemer, who has promised to take good care of her. So now, to get to know my new little beauty. I will be sharing the results with you in each post...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vintage Find - A Fisher Price Music Box Teaching Clock (Just Like I Used to Have)

I had this clock! I had this clock! That is what I was screaming inside when I found this cute little vintage gem at a local church rummage sale a few months back. Let me just take a moment to reflect on the fact that toys were more durable when I was a child. I may sound like my grandparents, waxing nostalgical about the past and how things are just not made to last anymore, BUT IT IS TRUE! As a mother, I can speak for toys, and as a photographer, I can say the same about my equipment. Anyway, all I can say is that this beautiful toy is made of wood, and after all of these years it still winds up, tick tocks, and plays music. The musical movement was made in Japan. I can only imagine how many of these are laying in landfills, perfectly fine, having been chucked to make room for "better", more modern toys. My kids, and I, love it!

Just look at the cute illustrations... I want to go to this school!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #25 - Make A Snowman (or Woman)

January 18th was World Day of Snowmen. The funny thing is that I almost wrote this post on the 18th and it was only today that I found out this tidbit of information while reading about a photographer in Ottawa who is having an exhibition of images of snowmen called Melting.

Making snowmen is something that can only be done when the snow is just right (wet enough to stick together). There can be snow all winter and only a few time when it is perfect for making snowmen. Here in the Canadian Rockies we had one good day in September (which is when these photos were taken) and one just the other day. We seize the opportunity to make snowmen whenever we can as do others we know. I bumped into one mom and her kids at the grocery store the other day and they told me they were buying some "snowman making supplies"...

Kids enjoy making snowmen, especially when there are no rules and they can be creative. There is a classic formula for what is needed for a snowman but I think mixing it up is the best way to go. One of our favorite snowman books is called Sadie and the Snowman. "Sadie can't believe it! For a whole winter, she builds and rebuilds a snowman who becomes her very special friend, but it always melts. At the end of the winter, she manages to save just a little bit of her snowman for next year." If you would like some lesson plans for this book just Google the title.

I hope this post inspires you to make a snowman this winter. The next time the snow is sticky and you think, "hmmmm, this is perfect snow for making a snowman!" grab your kiddos and let your imagination run wild.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Mixed Media Art Quilt "I Need Your Kindness" Featured in Muse Flash in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine

One of my very favorite magazines is Cloth, Paper, Scissors. It comes out 6 times a year and I own every single one of the 34 issues that have been printed. I submitted my mixed media art quilt "I Need Your Kindness" to CPS and was thrilled when they contacted me to feature it in the current, January/February 2011 issue. It is featured in the Muse Flash section. You can see more images of my piece, which features portraits of Haitian children, here. It is exciting to see my work in such an amazing magazine and I look forward to submitting to them in the future... If you have been on the fence about submitting your work for publication, I hope this inspires you to try. You have nothing to lose!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Creative Challenge - Make Handmade Goodies for Your Facebook Friends

Crayon cakes I make from old broken crayons... (you can make them too, just check out this post...)

The other day I was updating my Facebook fan page and soon I was checking out what my friends were up to on my Facebook home page. My friend, Michelle's status read:
Pay it forward 2011: I promise something handmade to the FIRST 5 people who leave a comment here. However, to be eligible, you must re-post this status, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011. Sometime.

Well, I pretty much only buy or make handmade items for people so this is right up my alley. First, I made sure I would be one of the five getting in on Michelle's action. Then, I posted this on my status, late at night, and by morning I had 5 takers. The fun part was, I went right their pages to be one of the people they are making for. Then, I decided to open my offer up to another 5 people. Right now, I am taking one more person... it could be you!

I challenge you to post this on your Facebook. Your handmade items can be something you bake, cook, write, or make. I am thinking of giving crayon cakes to people with kids and maybe pendants, magnets, photographs, or tiny collages to the others. Whatever it is I am bound to record it here. I love how inspiration can come from anywhere. I hope you are expired to make something for someone sometime soon...

Friday, January 14, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #24 - Make Snow Angels

We have received over a foot of snow in the past two days. It is the light and fluffy kind, not good for making snow men and women but perfect for making snow angels. Making snow angels is a pretty common activity for kids who have grown up around snow. Even as an adult I like to make a few each winter. I get the same cheesy grin I got as a child while I make one, the same grin my daughter gets when she makes one.

Now because I have a lot of experience with playing in the snow I had to laugh when I read the "technique" for making snow angels on Wikipedia:
"The creation of the snow angel is a simple process. The first step is to find an undisturbed plane of snow. The next step is to lie supine, spread-eagled in the center of the snow. The limbs are then swept back and forth, creating a trough through the snow. When it is finished, the snow angel should have the appearance of an angel, the movement of the arms having formed wings, and that of the legs having formed a gown."

The current world record for the largest number of snow angels made at the same time in one place is 8,962. It was set on February 17th, 2007, on the grounds of the state Capitol building in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Making a snow angel to celebrate a touchdown is not allowed in American football. Wes Welker was fined $10,000 for making one after a touchdown in the Gilette Stadium on December 21st, 2008. I have to say that if I made the salary that a football player does, and I scored a touchdown while playing outdoors in snow, I would make a snow angel, too. Good thing we are not football players and we can go make as many as we like, right now...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's That Time AGAIN... Time for Thing-A-Day!!!

That's right everyone! I am signing up for my THIRD year of Thing-A-Day, a month-long creative extravaganza that takes place every February. I was first alerted to TAD by my friend, Robyn, of Inspiration Junkie. I have been thanking her ever since! I have met many other creative people through TAD, and it helps me to focus on being creative and documenting it daily for a whole month. It may sound like a huge undertaking, but you are really just supposed to spend about 20 minutes a day doing something creative for TAD. So, you can work on a piece of art for that time, then document it, then do it again the next day, on and on, until it is done. Or you can create something for your dinner and document that. There are not really any rules or anyone who can hold you to creating each day, other than yourself. Don't be shy, don't be scared (I have two small children and I am not afraid...) just jump right in! And let me know how it goes... See you around the Posterous site where I can read about all of your creations and adventures!

Environmental Art I created for the 2010 Thing-A-Day

If you would like to see what I did each day in previous years, just go into my blog archive for February 2009 and 2010...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Snow & New Books

First Snow of the Year in Banff September 2010

I grew up in Minnesota where cold and snowy winters are typical and people talk about storms they have weathered with pride. The largest one I can remember was on Halloween in 1992, when 30 inches of snow dumped in one day, just two months before I moved to Phoenix, Arizona for a year and a half. I had had enough of winter. But, I learned while in Arizona that I could not stand to have the sun shine everyday and to not have any seasons to look forward to. I moved back to Minnesota briefly before heading off to Florida for one winter, which really woke me up to the fact that I am from the North and that I love winter. After a few more moves around the Northern US and Canada, I now live in the Canadian Rockies. I love everything about it, well, almost everything...

...everything except winter driving. I used to be good at winter driving. I had nerves of steel and I felt immortal. I didn't know any different. I remember that after that Halloween storm I drove an hour from my house to see a friend. I was the only compact car on the road with a bunch of seasoned truckers. I was young, I was kid free... in fact, the most winter driving I ever did was when I lived in Maine and my future husband lived in Ottawa, Ontario. I drove a 12 hour round trip to see him for 3 years. It was 6 hours on a good day or night. In a winter storm it could be an 8 - 9 hour white knuckled journey through a white out. It started with two lane windy mountain roads, then two lane highways through tiny Quebec towns, then finally a highway. I was in love. I was trying to insure offspring. NOW? You can't get me out the door and into my car if it is snowing.

Silly? Yes! I hate to admit it. With all of my experience I should only gotten better at it. But, I remember every time I have slid into a snow bank, done a 360 degree turn, and narrowly missed accidents. Our family was in a bad one when I was in the second grade. Now my nerves are shot. My family laughs at me. My friends laugh at me. My husband, with his big four wheel drive truck, laughs at me (partially because I am kind of cute when I am throwing a tantrum). He manages a ski hill that just happens to be at the top of seven switch backs on a narrow, crazy road, that only last year had guard rails put in. I do realize that if I would only get over it, it would be better. I am a huge advocate of the phrase "Be Brave". I love the idea of being "Fearless". I pretty much am in every other aspect of my life. I have traveled the world (and I don't mean luxury travel), moved from place to place, started businesses, immigrated to a new country, had a baby in my own home... I know that worrying about something is useless until there is something to worry about. And that if you don't resolve something that you will be faced with it again and again. Hence the reason I must have wound up in the Rockies, why I have to drive my daughter to French preschool in a town that is 30 minutes away three times a week, and why when I am not doing that I am driving her to a ski hill at the top of seven switchbacks. I should really get a grip.

It is the trek to preschool today that started this rant. I usually look out the window when my husband wakes me up, but today I didn't. I just got up and ready and it was only after he had put both kids in my car that I looked out the window and saw the snow. I only had the same amount of time I have on a good day to get to school but for some reason, I was feeling brave. And for the most part, things went well (when 18 wheelers weren't passing me and turning the drifting snow into zero visibility). We made it to preschool, almost on time! And after dropping Quin off, Emmanuelle and I were treated to these elk, up on a hill, enjoying the snow. I am not a wildlife photographer but I am in awe EVERY TIME is see wildlife (which is pretty much everyday) and I wanted to share it with you.

Around here it can be one thing to get where you are going but another thing to get home. The snow continued to fall for two and a half hours before we headed back. The drive went faster than I expected, Emmanuelle fell asleep, Quin & I had a nice lunch, and two packages from Amazon were waiting! If you know me, you know I am a book worm. I am just as happy with used books as with new ones and I rarely splurge but when I get holiday money I do. I have been waiting for these books and it was such a nice reward to have made it through a stressful morning to be able to find these lovelies waiting for me. I will share my opinions on these books soon... off to read!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Work - BE Assertive Collage on Canvas

BE Assertive
By Tiffany Teske
Collage on Matboard and Canvas

I don't have any trouble being assertive but it may be something some of you are wanting to be as this new year begins... This may look familiar to you. I wrote about when I told you about teaching a children's collage class at my local library. I often work on my pieces in a couple of stages. I will create something, then look at it for a long time, and finally decide how to finish it, after reworking it once or twice.

About BE Assertive

This piece started off as a demo that I made for a class I was teaching at the Banff Public Library. The class was for kids aged 6 - 10. I was inspired by the book, 1 2 3 I Can Collage, by Irene Luxbacher. It is a wonderful book and there is a colorful collage much like this on the cover. I really enjoy working with circles and was struck by how this was such a professional looking piece, even though it is in a book for 4 - 7 year olds. I showed the book to my 4 year old daughter and she made a lovely piece that I also showed the kids in my class. The collage I created is on matboard and was unfinished, as far as being a complete piece. My main goal was just to have a visual, aside from the book, to inspire my students. Thanks to the Cloth Paper Scissors button challenge, I got out this piece and decided to finish it. I mounted the matboard on a canvas that I collaged with a sewing pattern. I then handsewed vintage buttons below the collage. This piece is made from a sewing pattern, decorative paper, vintage sheet music, a fortune cookie fortune, and vintage buttons. It is 10x12".

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vintage Find - My Cousin's 1950s Themed Christmas Card (Think Norman Rockwell...)

Happy Holidays, compliments of The Krikkens

Ok, I had to share this with you! This vintage find was sent direct to my door, by my husband's cousin, Amy Beth (whom I incidentally knew BEFORE I knew my husband). I would have posted it earlier but our local mail being what it is, I didn't get it until after New Year's (along with about 20 other cards!). Amy Beth and her husband, Ramon, a photographer like myself, go all out for their annual holiday card. I am always in awe of his card. The thought that goes into them, the staging that is done, and the flawless execution of their idea is always incredible. And it doesn't hurt that they have THREE adorable boys to use as models. Great job, Ramon & Aim, spreading laughter, joy, and cheer to your friends and family far and wide!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #23 - Learn About a Holiday You Don't Normally Observe

Quin's, 4 1/2 year old hands (sporting a bit of marker) holding the very tiny baby doll we found in rosca de reyes bread while celebrating Three Kings Day in Mexico.

The first week of January is already over. I was going to write this post on January 6th, but half of our family has been fighting the flu...

Karina, Quin, & I in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, January 2008

This week was the birthday of my very good friend, Karina. She likes to keep her birthday low-key after all of the holiday celebrating and it was a treat to have 45 minutes to chat on the phone with her. We got to reminiscing about the time she and I met up in Mexico in January of 2008. I was teaching a digital photography workshop in San Miguel de Allende, which is an amazing and inspiring part of Mexico for artists like ourselves. I brought my eldest daughter on the trip with me, she was about 19 months old. It was a memorable trip in many ways and I look forward to returning there with my husband and both of our daughters someday. If we do go, I would like to go in late October/early November during the los dios de los muertos festivities. On the trip Karina and I took we arrived at our amazing home rental on January 6th which is Three Kings Day. As I spoke with her this week, I thought about Three Kings Day, and some of the other holidays, like los dios de los muertos, which are holidays with interesting origins, traditions, and stories, but that are not holidays I grew up celebrating. I think it is a good way to teach my girls about other cultures by teaching them about these holidays.

Rosca de reyes bread

Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, celebrates the visit of the three wise men to Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus. Epiphany is celebrated all over the world. In Mexico, people eat a wreath-shaped bread called "Rosca de Reyes". A small, plastic doll, meant to represent the baby Jesus is baked into the bread. The person who finds the figurine in their piece of bread has to provide the tamales for the next party, although it is said that everyone else tends to help anyway (very nice!). My daughter was given the doll from our bread, and we enjoy it as a souvenir of our time spent in Mexico. I have never made Rosca de Reyes but here is a recipe for you to try if you are game.

The newly-found baby doll in our rosca de reyes.

If you are interested in seeing more of my photographs of Mexico, just look to the right of this post, for the slideshow titled "San Miguel de Allende". I will also post some of the images as photography features in the coming weeks.

Thanks to the internet it is easy to find history, crafts, recipes, and other activities related to holidays all over the world. Some other holidays that you might like to explore with your children include:
~ La Befana; On the night of the 5th of January in Italy and Italian communities, kids wait for La Befana to fly in on her broomstick and fill their stockings and shoes with presents and candy while she looks for the baby Jesus.

~ Chinese New Year; This important traditional Chinese holiday begins with the first new moon of the new year and ends on the next full moon. In 2011, it begins on February 3rd. This time is filled with preparations, celebration, gift-giving, feasting, and spending time with friends and family. Children and unmarried people are given "lucky money" in red envelopes. A wonderful book we have read about Chinese New Year is Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin.

~ Mardi Gras; Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French. This day, March 8th, in 2011, was set aside for excessive feasting and celebration before a long period of fasting. It is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. A great craft for Mardi Gras is mask-making. Please check out this tutorial on masks that I made with a local after-school club.

~ Poila Baisakh; This is the celebration of the Bengali New Year. It is tradition to pay up your debts on this day and to create a book called halkhata for keeping track of your new accounts. At sunrise the celebration starts with a procession in which celebrants wear new clothes, and then dance, sing, and eat with family and friends.

~ Diwali; This holiday is celebrated in India as well as other parts of the world. It is known as the "festival of lights". It begins on the new moon between the months of Ashwin and Kartika, which will be October 26th, in 2011. During Diwali, homes are decorated, people share gifts, sweets, and wear new clothes. To welcome the light, diyas are lit everywhere.

If you celebrate a holiday specific to your culture please share it in the comments so that other readers may explore it, too...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weekly Recipe - My Swedish Pancakes (Using Whole Wheat Pastry & Barley Flours)

Have you ever bought something at a yard sale or thrift shop that you could not identify? I have a thing for cast iron pans. I love them, I use them, I give them to others and hope that they will love them. At this point, I have as many cast iron pans as one household could need, a 12", a 10", a square one with ridges for grilling, and a 9" crepe pan that is thin and super light for swirling around batter in the pan. I really didn't need anymore... then one day, I came across a cast iron pan with seven recessed circles in it. And when I flipped it over, a ribbed flower pattern on the bottom (I should take a picture of the bottom...). I had no idea what it was for. I thought maybe for eggs, but thinking of my egg poaching pan I knew the wells were too shallow. I am a bit of a kitchen gadget and equipment nerd but have been stumped before. Anyway, whatever it was for, I knew it was a specialty pan like my madeleine pan and my Nordic Ware mini bundt pan. I knew I would one day figure out what it was for and kick myself for not buying it. Especially since it was $3! Plus I thought to myself, it is so flat that I can store it under the lazy Susan in the corner cabinet where I store my pots and pans...

... which is exactly where it stayed until my birthday this past November. That is the morning that I woke up thinking I wanted to make a pannekoeken, a traditional Dutch pancake that is cooked in a skillet in the oven. I have eaten them, have a great Dutch cookbook series, but have never made them. And yes, my idea of fun, on my own birthday, is to cook something I have never made first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person, but I am skilled at breakfast making, and the thought of a hot pannekoeken was all the inspiration I needed. My daughters agreed and I jumped online to find a recipe for Swedish pancakes, BECAUSE the whole time I had been thinking about making a pannekoeken, I had been calling it a Swedish pancake. I had my countries and breakfast foods mixed up, hence the reason I didn't go and look the recipe up in my Dutch cookbooks! And am I ever glad I got mixed up. In fact, I believe that my Great Grandma Gerda, from Sweden, was looking down on me that day, because as I looked at the first image that popped up from my search for "Swedish pancake" I SAW MY CAST IRON PAN!! And, I started dancing around the kitchen with my wee ones, laughing, and brandishing the pan that I NOW knew was a Swedish pancake pan! HAHAHAHA. The reason that I had never know about this pan, since my grandmother, Harriett, daughter of Gerda, did make pancakes for me, is because she just made them in a regular pan. Which you can totally do. So, no worries if you don't have a "special" pan like me, you will be a-ok, and very happy that you followed the recipe for Swedish pancakes below. I have tweaked this recipe to fit our tastes and these pancakes are different than crepes, pancakes, and pannekoeken. They are richer, thinner, but moister than a traditional pancake. Give them a whirl. They made my birthday extra special and when I spoke with my grandmother Harriett on the phone, while I was making them, they made her happy as well. She has been losing her short term memory but when I told her I was making Swedish pancakes I could hear her voice change and it was like she was back on the farm as a kid. She was excited and it touched my heart because since my grandfather died she is never very excited. As I hung up the phone I felt happy to have made her day and happy to know we can now make pancakes that will always remind me of her.

Swedish Pancakes
By Tiffany Teske
Serves 3 to 4

I use organic ingredients whenever possible.

~ 3 eggs
~ 2 T sugar
~ 1 cup milk
~ 1 cup half and half OR buttermilk (you can use all milk but they will not taste as rich)
~ 3 T melted butter
~ 1/2 tsp sea salt
~ 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
~ 1/4 cup barley flour


1. Using a wire whisk beat the eggs, sugar, milk, half & half or buttermilk, and the melted butter for one minute.
2. Slowly add the flour while continuing to mix. When the flour is completely added blend for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Heat griddle or pan. When griddle or pan is hot, grease with butter or cooking spray. Pour pancake batter in a large circle for crepe size pancakes or small silver dollar size pancakes. They will cook quickly.

Flip when the underside is golden brown and the upper side has an opaque look. They are done when both sides are a golden brown.

4. Serve hot with maple or fruit syrup, powdered sugar, applesauce or, with Lignonberries.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #22 - Make Plans for 2011

This is the first year my eldest daughter, who is 4 and a half, was aware of New Year's. It was a fun holiday season filled with many questions about the holidays and why certain things are done. After ushering in the New Year by visiting friends on New Year's Day we sat down and talked a bit about what it means for the old year to end and a new year to begin. I explained that how some people like to see a new year coming because they can reflect on the old year and make changes and plans for the new year. I am a goal oriented person and I like the clean slate feel of a new year. I don't make resolutions in the traditional sense but I do like to think about what I would like to accomplish in the new year and if there are some changes that I feel need to be made, that come up during my thinking, then I strive to make those changes. Quin and I decided to write down a few of the things we would like to do our best to accomplish in the coming year.

1. I will make a rainbow picture and give it to one of my friends.
2. I would like to go to Vancouver.
3. I will try not cry about little things but to talk about them.
4. I would like to give one of my Berenstain bear book to someone.
5. I would like to give a coloring book to a friend.

1. I am going to do my best to show my girls how to love being here on earth (I will do this all the time, not just in 2011).
2. I will to work on a book project with a friend.
3. I will deal with frustration better.
4. I will make a new series of art (since I have shows coming up in February and June).
5. I will send extra money and letters to the child I sponsor in Haiti.

Together Quin & I decided...
1. We will go outside everyday (we don't always do this in the winter but should).
2. We will collect pennies for the charity Pennies for Peace.

I think that this is a worthwhile activity that can be suited to a child of any age that can talk and express themselves. There are no wrong answers. There is also no penalty for not reaching the goal or accomplishing the task. The point is to put the intention out there and to then support each other in working on these things. What do you want to do in 2011?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! 365 Days with Kids - #21 - Make a Banner to Celebrate the New Year (or ANY Special Occasion)

Welcome 2011! 2010 was a great year for us, so I was in no rush for 2011, but here it is. Our family has been partying for over a week now and I am looking forward to relaxing from the relaxing :) My husband and eldest daughter didn't make it to midnight, but my 18 month old and I were treated to a fireworks show from my bedroom picture window. Nice! She has been going to bed way too late and sleeping in way too late so I had a feeling this morning that she and I would probably be ringing in the New Year together. It was fun to watch her eyes glued to the bursting fireworks as she babbled "Happy New Year!" It was even more fun to know it was freezing cold outside (-26 C) but we were in the warmth of our home watching this harbinger of the New Year. All while Sister slept in the next room and Daddy snored...

Earlier in the day, when my little one was napping, her sister and I decided to make something to celebrate New Year's Day. We settled on a banner. It was amongst a plethora of  New Year's crafts for kids on a site called Kaboose. We gave it our own twist, of course. I thought of making a paper banner but we decided that if we were going to take the time to make it, we might as well make something we can use year after year. While it may be too late for your own New Year's Day banner, this craft can be adapted for any holiday or celebration. We have decided to keep the "Happy" banner up all year round...

New Year's Banner
By Tiffany Teske

What You Need:

- Craft felt in up to 12 colors
- Colorful yarn or string
- Felt glue
- Scissors
- Sharpie
- Sequins; we used very fancy ones...

How To

1. Measure out a rectangle of felt that is 3" x 8". Cut it out. Use it as a template with the other colors by tracing around it with the sharpie. You will need 12 rectangles in all. Cut out each one. I wanted to use pinking shears but Quin wanted to use the regular scissor...

2. Cut your yarn into two 48" pieces. Find the center of one. This banner will say "Happy". Center your middle flag, the one that will be the first "P", on the center of the yarn. Apply glue to the inside of the bottom half of the rectangle, then line up the top of the rectangle, over the yarn, with the bottom and push them together, smoothing with your hand so they stick well. Move over an inch on each side of the first rectangle and do the same for the next two and then the next two flags.

3. For the second banner, find the center of the yarn and attach the flag that will have the "Y" for "year". To the right of the "Y", spacing each flag out by an inch, attach each flag for the rest of the word "year". To the left of the "Y" about 2 - 3 inches over, attach the three flags for the word "new".

4. Using the felt glue and working on one flag at a time, write the first letter in the font of your choice on the first flag. Place your sequins onto the glue and press down so they are secure. The glue will dry clear so don't worry if there is a bit extra.

5. When you are finished with all of the flags let your banners dry for several hours to overnight. When you pick the banners up for hanging, check to make sure all the sequins are securely attached and reglue any that fall off.

6. Hang you banner!

There are many variations for this craft. You can use regular sequins, glitter, metallic confetti, or craft jewels for your bling. Or you can cut out the letters from felt or other fabric. To jazz up the flags you can use a pinking shears or a different shape than a rectangle. I am sure I will be trying several banner variations in the coming year. Quin, who is 4 1/2, enjoyed the results and was able to stick with me through the sequin glueing on the "Happy" banner. I did the rest. She is looking forward to making an Easter banner and now that we know we can hang it across the window between our kitchen and dining room we may have to try a double sided version. Plus, I am a bit of a font junkie so I want to try this with different fonts. Also, this is a nice idea for a birthday gift for kids. If you have ever made a banner I would love to hear about it...

Happy 2011 Everyone!