Search This Blog

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Orange Slice Garland

I love the holidays.  Not just Christmas, but Thanksgiving, Advent, Saint Nicholas Day, Saint Lucia Day...

One of my favorite things to do when it comes to the holidays is natural and/or handmade ornaments.  I wanted to make something Aidan could help with, and that would work for the Fall, but could also go into Christmas.

I decided to make a dried orange slice garland.  I only had clementines on hand, so the slices turned out a little smaller, and thus a little less impressive than I'd hoped, but we made it, it was fun and cute. :)  So, here's how you make one for yourself:

1. Cut orange/clementine into rings, no thicker than 1/4 inches.  I got about 4/clementine.  Preheat oven to 215 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius.

2. Pat the juice out of the rings

3. Line baking sheet with wax paper or aluminum foil.  Place orange slices on the baking sheet.

4. "Bake" orange slices for 40 minutes on one side, then 40 minutes on the other.  For the record, I totally burned my first batch, as the directions I was following were for full sized oranges, so called for a longer bake time.

5. I used a nail to make holes in each slice, then strung them on some twine, and hung them in the living room.  Because of where I hung them, it was hard to get a great shot, but it looks really cute!

Couple Tips:
- If you have a needle large enough to string twine through, you could add a cranberry or craisin between each orange slice, or pop corn, you could switch it up with rosemary sprigs.. 

- I used clear command hooks so as to save the wall, and to be inconspicuous. 

Please let me know if you make your own, I would love to see pictures of it!  It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Day I Felt Strong

Growing up as a little girl, there were many adjectives one could've used to describe me - cute, blonde, graceful, girly, talkative... 
but strong probably wasn't one of them most people would associate with me.  I've never been athletic, and was definitely on the gangly-side.  I have an opinion, and usually feel free to state it, but I'm not one to shout it out loud.
Growing up in a bit of a fish bowl - as a missionary kid - being well-behaved was valued very highly.  As a textbook compliant eldest, this was not too hard for me.  Apart from a lying streak in middle school, I was always mild-mannered, and minded my p-s and q-s. 

As girls, that is often what people expect from us.  Be sweet, don't hurt anyone, and don't be too loud.

With these as our primary "virtues", it's not so hard to understand all of the headlines in the news recently.

Thankfully, I had parents who always taught me from a young age that I could say "no".  My mom was one of those one-in-a-million moms who actually talked to her kids about their body parts - private or otherwise.  My dad one day abruptly asked me on the way to school, "you know about parts of your body other people can't touch, right?"  With my parents, no topic was off the table.  They empowered me to own my body.

There was a boy at church.  He was one of those boys who was always inappropriate, but since we were all still "kids" (about 10-11), no one seemed to think it was that big of a deal.

We were standing in line to go back into the adult service after Sunday school class, and we were standing on stairs.  
I was standing higher than him, and he kept leaning back in such a way that his head was resting in my "lap".  
I told him to stop.  
He did it again.  
I told him to stop again.  
He did it a third time.

I kneed him in the head.

He went and told his mother.

I became afraid, knowing I would surely be in trouble for hurting him, and for being "mean".  The boy and his mother came up to me and my mom.  The mother demanded that I apologize.
Then my mom looked at me and asked me what happened, and I explained it to her.  She asked me if I asked him to stop, and I said yes.

Then she said the most empowering thing.  She told me I didn't have to apologize.  So I didn't.
I had protected myself when I felt violated, and was justified in doing so.

I felt strong.  I was strong.  I am strong.

I am strong because I am encouraged to have a voice.  I am strong because I matter.  I am strong because I can say no.

That is the way I try to parent.  It's hard when we are constantly meeting new people, on whom we have to make a good first impression.  But we've always told our son that he doesn't have to give hugs, or things like that.  We ALSO teach him, that he can't make anyone hug him, and that sometimes people don't want to be touched.  That it is okay to say no, and also to be told no.
I hope that someday we have a little girl.  I hope that she is sweet, kind, cute and talkative.  But I will also teach her to be strong.  To say no.  I do understand that there are times that people aren't afforded the opportunity to say no, and they are taken advantage of.   But I will teach her that it is her right.

There is no easy or quick fix to our world's problems.  But empowering our kids is a good start.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hungarian Cold Sour Cherry Soup Recipe

One of the delights of Hungarian cuisine is Cold Sour Cherry Soup.  Yes, you read that right.  It is a dessert disguised as a soup.  For those of you who are wondering, yes, it is sweet.  Yes, you eat it before dinner.  Yes, for real.  Do you need this in your life?  Of course you do.  Read on to find out how to make this bowl of deliciousness.


12 oz frozen sour/tart cherries (if you can't find frozen sour/tart cherries, you can use regular ones, but only add 1/2 cup of sugar, and simmer about 5-8 minutes longer)
12 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of sugar (1/2 if regular cherries)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups of sour cream
3 tbs flour
2 egg yolks

Optional - whipped cream and cinnamon

(Serves approx. 8)


1. Pour frozen cherries into a large pot.

2. Add water, sugar and cinnamon sticks.  

3. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer for 10 minutes.  (Taste the "broth", if it doesn't taste cherry-y enough, simmer a little longer.)

In the meantime...

4. In a separate bowl combine sour cream, flour and eggs.

5. Whisk mixture together until it is smooth.

6. By this time your cherry mixture should look like this:

7. Fish out the cinnamon sticks.

8.  Scoop out about a 1/3 cup of the broth (without cherries in it), and mix it into the sour cream mixture.  Mix it in quickly, and evenly.

9. Continue to add scoops of the "juice" to the mixture, until you bring the sour cream mixture up to a decent heat.  (You probably won't be able to get it as hot as the original broth, but try to get it hot.  If it's too cold, it'll separate, and create little floaty chunks that'll rise to the surface.)

10.  Slowly poor the sour cream mixture into the broth, while continuously stirring.

11.  Heat the soup back up a little bit, but be careful NOT to bring it to a boil, or it'll to cook the eggs, and curdle.

12.  In your sink, create an ice bath (ice and cold water).  Put the pot in it, and stir it, until the soup is genuinely cold.  If you don't cool it down enough, and place it in the fridge, it'll sour.

13. Place in the fridge overnight to chill.

14.  The next day you'll need to stir it together, as it'll separate a little, but that's normal.

15.  Serve in a bowl, with a little (or a lot of) whipped cream, and a dash of cinnamon.

1. Hungarians make this with a variety of fruit (like apples), so feel free to experiment!  Just keep in mind, that the amount of sugar will probably change.
2. This recipe is NOT hard at all, there are just a couple things you have to pay attention to: 1; get the sour cream mixture hot before you add it to the broth, 2; don't let the soup boil once the sour cream mixture is added, 3; thoroughly cool the soup down before placing it the fridge.
3. Make sure it tastes like the fruit, not just "sweet".

And there you have it!  Please let me know how your's turns out, if you decide to make it!  Especially if you use other fruit!
Happy cooking!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Strong Like Mom

I come from a line of strong women; all in their own way.  I have a great-grandmother who was a nurse, a Gran who was a teacher, and raised 3 boys, a Grandma who raised a family on a farm, an "adopted" Grandma (Mary), who lost her mother and oldest sister to war, raised her siblings, was a career woman, and had to hide under a set of stairs during the Hungarian 1956 revolution.
And then there is my mom, who has had every reason - loss, death, cancer, illnesses - to let bitterness set in, and yet is full of life and joy.
Strong like mom.

A few months ago, Target caused a buzz, because their exclusive line Cat and Jack introduced this T-shirt that had "Strong Like Mom" written on it.  The initial shirt was for boys, then they also came out with one for girls.  The reason this is such a big deal, is because moms aren't usually portrayed as strong, especially not in reference to their sons.  I love the trend of portraying women in more strong roles (cue Wonder Woman)!

As soon as I saw this shirt, I knew I wanted one for Aidan.

If he's wearing this shirt, whenever I ask him what it says, he shouts "Strong Like Mom!"  (He has even been known to say, "Strong like mom, pee like dad!", LOL!!)

At first I wondered if it was maybe a little vain of me to get him the shirt in the first place.  Or if I really am strong.

I have fears and anxieties.  Am I really strong?

Remember my mom, the strongest woman I know?  She can't swim.  Scared of swimming pools, actually.  But do you know what?  When we were kids, she would get in the pool with us, and although we all knew it wasn't her favorite thing, none of us knew the extent of that fear until years later.

Being a mom makes you strong.  You have a reason to be strong.  Someone to be strong for.

So, yesterday, when I had to fly alone with Aidan, then drive home - as it turns out in the rain - basically everything that unnerves me, I had Aidan wear his "Strong Like Mom" shirt.  Mostly as a reminder to myself.

Being strong doesn't mean you don't have fears.  It means that you are willing to overcome them.  I'm going to go one step further.  I think it is important for our kids to know that there are things we fear, or are uncomfortable with, BUT that we are willing to face them.

During one of our airport potty breaks, my sweet, squirmy boy looked at me and said, "mommy, you're my hero", without any prompting.  I could soar!!!  I never ever want to forget that moment.  He will probably never know how much his little 3-year-old self encouraged me.

So yesterday, I felt STRONG!  I felt like I could conquer anything, and I did!  We had a wonderful trip, and I drove in the rain like a boss.

My favorite verse last year was Joshua 1:9, and Aidan knows it by heart: "Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go."

I am strong, and it's not vain to say it.  I am strong because God makes me strong, and because my son needs me to be.  I am strong.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Preschool Number Practice

Aidan has been doing wonderfully with his letters, but not very sure about his numbers.  So, before we move on, we wanted to review them!  We focused a number a day, and with the exception of the game, we did the same activities.  Not to create monotony  but rather give Aidan the confidence that he knew how to "master" each task.  So, here's each day:

Day 1

1. Game
 I found this egg matching game, which was perfect for Spring!  We counted the dots, put them in order, talked about the numbers, and matched them!
Obviously, this was a fun game, and he liked it!

2. Play-Doh
 I found some play-doh mats (I can't find the originals, but if you just google that, you'll find plenty).  I wish I had a laminator, it would make them reusable. This is a great pre-writing exercise.  Take little pinches of play-doh, and place them within the lines of the number.  
Then fill in the number grid!

3. Q-tip Painting
I found some Q-tip painting sheets.  I thought it would be more fun than it apparently was... 

4. Worksheet
I'm not huge on worksheets, but this one was fun, and the truth is, kids do need to learn how to write, and these were very manageable.  Also, ironically this was one of Aidan's favorite activities each day.  I found them here

5. Lunch
Cheese, carrots, strawberries, and a sandwich, all cut into the shape of the number 1.  Yummm!

Day 2

1.  Game
For this game, you'll need 5 green shapes that look like tree crowns, 15 blossoms, and 5 clothespins with the numbers 1-5 written on them.
 We clipped the clothespins to each of the trees, and then counted out that many blossoms.  Again, perfect for Spring!
This activity practices fine motor skills, counting, putting the numbers in order, and number recognition.

2. Play-Doh
 Aidan loves the play-doh part of each day!

3. Q-tip Painting
But not so much the Q-tip painting.  I can't even be upset, look at that face!!!

4. Worksheet
He did so well on this one!!

5. Lunch
I used a dolphin shaped sandwich cutter, clementines, and a slice of mango.  Yum, yum, yum!

Day 3

1. Game
 I took flashcards, and clothespins, and then we put the correct number of clothespins on the card.  Easy peasy, and fun!
We take counting very seriously!

2. Play-Doh
Getting better each day!

3. Q-tip
At least he did it, haha!

4. Worksheet
He does so well at circling the 3-s!

5. Lunch
I used sandwich for the aquarium, carrots for the net, and fruit leather for the three.  I'll let you guess which part he ate first!

Day 4

1. Game
I wish I cotton balls or pompoms, but I didn't.  So, I used fruit snacks.  So, I took cupcake liners, wrote the numbers 1-5 on the bottom, gave Aidan some tongs, and we counted out the fruit snacks to each cups.  It was really funny!

2. Play-Doh
He was doing so well with making little balls!

3. Q-Tip
There's a slight smile... haha!

4. Worksheet
He's been doing so much better with the worksheets than I thought he would!

5. Lunch
For this yummy lunch, I cut a sandwich into 4 little hearts, to make a four-leafed clover.  I used round slice of mango in the center, cucumber for the stem and leaves, and cherry tomato and olives for the ladybug.  Oh! And fruit leather for the number!

Day 5

1. Game
 I found this Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed Activity.  I just so happened to have the book!  It was so fun, I read the book, and Aidan would take a monkey off the bed each time, and change the number on the corner.
 He enjoyed it so much more than I though he might!
The concentration in is face, melts my heart!

2. Play-Doh
He's doing such a good job!

3. Q-Tip
He finally did it all by himself!  Wahoo!

4. Worksheet
Circling the numbers is his favorite part!

5. Snack
I used gummy frogs, fruit leather for the tongues, and raisins for the flies and number 5.  As you can imagine, it was a huge success!

And that, my friends, has been our week of numbers!