Around the World in 12 Dishes: Sweden

April 23, 2012

When I came across the Around the World in 12 Dishes project and knew it was for us!  Each month the hosts are picking a country to explore with the little ones through food and crafts.  Fun fun!  This month the spotlight is on Sweden.  We were just hosting family from Sweden, so this should be extra enjoyable for my guy! 

We had a hard time narrowing down our food options, but we ended up going with Swedish rye cookies.  Rye cookies are often made around Christmas in Sweden.  They can be hung on the Christmas tree or served as a treat.  

We followed an updated recipe at 101 Cookbooks that substitutes whole-wheat pastry flour for white and included cream cheese for a little extra something.  The dough is nice and heavy, perfect for a 2 year old wielding a cookie cutter.  Taste wise I like a more decadent cookie, but they were a huge hit with my little one.  They aren’t too sweet and would make a good base for a snack bar. 
For our art project we did Swedish flag inspired sponge painting.  I cut two sponges, one blue and one yellow, to make the respective shapes of the flag.  We got out the yellow and blue paint and headed to the art table.  

 I had thought we would end up with lots deconstructed flags, but instead it turned into a game—I would make a flag and he wanted me to say “I ONLY want a yellow and blue flag on my page, NO GREEN ALLOWED.” Then he would quickly squish and squiggle his hands through the flag mixing the colors to make green, laughing hysterically the whole time.  We did this about 30 times!

We are looking forward to having our passports stamped again next month!

First Art

Favorite quote from MaryAnn F. Kohl's, First Art: Art Experience for Toddlers and Twos: "Whatever the the resulting artwork--whether it is a bright, sticky glob or a gallery-worthy masterpiece--to a toddler or two-year-old, it is only the result of 'doing art', not the reason for doing art."  

Painting Egg Carton Ice Cubes

April 16, 2012

Every other month Rachelle at Tinkerlab challenges her readers to incorporate a new item into their art making. We can always use a little inspiration, so I am jumping onboard!  This month's challenge: the egg carton.

I never know what is going to strike my little guy at a given moment, but an ice/paint combo seemed like a great place to start.    We pretty regularly paint with ice cubes, but I thought it might be a fun to paint on ice cubes.   Our egg cartons are plastic so I filled one with water and stuck it in the freezer.  I taped a piece of white fabric down to the table, thinking he might like seeing the water patterns form as the ice cubes melted.  And, I put out a plate of paints.  

He came to the table and we popped out some of the ice cubes.  He spent a long time painting the cubes on the table and those still in the carton (and, of course, painting himself!). We noted the thinner coats of paint freezing on the ice and then turning into swirly puddles as the cubes melted. There was a lot of moving the cubes around and pretending they were ice rinks.  There was stacking and dropping.  He ended by putting all the cubes back in the carton.  He handed them to me saying they were cupcakes for Mother Elephant to take to a party.   A fantastic first challenge!  Thanks for a great art time, Tinkerlab!


April 10, 2012

We had a festive and delicious Easter!  The bunny always brings a new bolga basket with treats inside for the little ones.  The baskets have made great toy storage.  This year our guy got a magnifying glass, a wooden kazoo, a set of tropical colored markers, a few chocolate treats and And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano.  In the Little Miss’ basket was an extra large wooden egg, two floating fish for the bath and Plip-Plop Pond by Kaaren Pixton. Everyone was pleased!

We hosted a few friends for brunch.  We served a goat cheese quiche with a hash-brown crust (thank you Martha Stewart!), roasted asparagus, arugula salad and crusty bread.    This year’s lamb cake was the tastiest yet.  It was a devil’s food cake covered in a thin coat of chocolate frosting, topped with butter cream.  Yum.

Easter Treats

April 6, 2012

Cookies for Easter!

Bunny Action Poem

Once there was a bunny
 (make fist with bunny with ears)
And a green, green cabbage head.
(make fist with other hand)
"I think I'll have some breakfast," the little bunny said.  
(Move bunny toward cabbage)
So he nibbled and he nibbled
 (wiggle bunny ears)
Then he turned around to say, 
(turn bunny forward) 
 " I am so full of cabbage now, I'll be hopping on my way!" 
 (Make hopping movements with bunny)

Easter Cards

Easter snuck up on me this year!   We just got our Easter cards in the mail yesterday.   Here are a couple photos of them in process.

Painting on Fabric

April 3, 2012

The Noodle made a painting for Colleen for her birthday.  I taped down a piece of heavy cotton fabric and he went to town.  Fabric can hold a lot of paint and still dry flat. Above are a couple action pics!

Burnt-Butter Brown-Sugar Cupcakes

For Colleen's birthday we made Nigella Lawson's Burnt-Butter Brown-Sugar Cupcakes from How to be a Domestic Goddess.  So good.  Like maybe the best cupcakes ever.

Ice Painting

March 30, 2012

Fill an ice cube tray with water.  Add a few drops of food coloring to each compartment.  Cover the tray with foil.  Stick handles (sticks, spoons, forks, etc) through the foil.  The handles can be placed at an angle or straight up and down.   The paint cubes can also be made without handles which is a great for young ones!

Painting Together

March 21, 2012

Lately the Noodle has been really into painting and drawing things.  Here are our takes on a few objects that we painted side-by-side!

Planting Peas

March 17, 2012

For many St. Patrick’s Day is a good reminder that the ground is nearly ready for planting.  Our little patch of outdoors is all shade and rock, so we are observing the St. Patrick’s Day planting tradition by germinating seeds inside.  We are going to watch them carefully and tend to their needs.   When their first shoots appear we will plant them in pots and place them in our window.  They may not bear pea pods, but the process of taking a seed from packet to plant is fantastic for little ones.

Five Little Shamrocks Rhyme

One green shamrock, in the morning dew,
Another one sprouted, and then there were two.
Two green shamrocks, growing beneath a tree;
Another one sprouted and then there were three.
Three green shamrocks, by the cottage door;
Another one sprouted,
And then there were four.
Four green shamrocks, near a beehive
Another one sprouted,
And then there were five.
Five little shamrocks, bright and emerald green,
Think of all the luck these shamrocks will bring.

St. Urho's Day

March 16, 2012

My Finnish American grandma reminded us each St. Patrick’s Day that the Irish were not the only ones with a saint looking out for them.  St. Urho is said to have driven the grasshoppers out of Finland, saving the grape crops and the jobs of vineyard workers.  He is all fiction, made up in Minnesota in the 1950s, but all the same he is celebrated in a tongue-and-cheek way on March 16 in Finnish communities around the US. 

In honor of Grandma Clara today we are eating pasties and celebrating our sisu!

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski is a classic tale of kindness rewarded with kindness.  The towns of Tralee and Trala have an annual St. Patrick’s Day decorating contest.  Tralee always looses, but this year little Fiona Riley has a plan to win--paint the whole town green.   But when a stranger in distress arrives in Tralee they choose helping over winning and end up bringing home the trophy anyway.  It is a fantastic holiday story!

Cardboard Mosaic Tiles

March 15, 2012


Cardboard mosaic tiles are super easy to make.  Simply apply a thin coat of watercolor paint to any piece of corrugated cardboard you have on hand.  After the paint dries, cut the cardboard into whatever size shapes that works for your project.  This is great for making big tiles for little hands.

Sparkling Play Dough

March 14, 2012

I finally found a play dough recipe I like!  Makes and Takes has it here. In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day I added a teaspoon of gold glitter to half and a tsp of green to half. I found the glitter at the dollar store. Hooray for inexpensive art supplies!

Shamrock Onesie

I bought these sweet crocheted shamrocks on etsy a few years ago.  Two years later I am finally putting them to use!  

Felted Bowl Full of Turnips

March 10, 2012

We took a copy of The Three Little Pigs out of the library a few weeks ago.  I am still not sold on the merit of some of these classic stories, but it really struck a chord with the Noodle.  He likes to be the wolf and wants me to be the little pigs.  Besides blowing the houses down, his favorite part is when he tries to lure me out to pick turnips.  Today he found a few turnips in the fridge and put them in this little felted bowl for me to carry back from the garden (aka flannel blanket) during the game.  The turnips were too pretty snuggled in there not to get a picture.

St. Patrick's Day Cards

March 8, 2012

Most of our family lives out of town so we do a big mailing for holidays.  Since I never know when my two-year-old is going to be in the mood for a specific project, I try to start the cards early so we can get them out in time.  

I had a loose idea for St. Patrick’s Day—rainbows.   So on an unseasonable warm day a couple weeks ago, when we went out to the porch to paint I had these cards in mind.  Along with a bunch of other paintings that weren’t for this project, Noodle painted five construction paper sheets in their corresponding color—red on red, blue on blue, etc.   After they were dry we stuck them on a shelf till we were ready to make cards. 

On Sunday night I cut the construction paper paintings into strips of varying lengths.  We had some kelly green card stock that I cut in half and folded.  I glued the strips of paper onto the cards.  The lengths could be mixed and matched in any way.   I thought that we would add pots of gold, but I ended up liking them as is.  There is something a little modern, but crafty about them!

Raisel's Riddle

March 7, 2012

We aren't ready for Cinderella over this way yet, but this one was a favorite of the kids I used to nanny for.  Raisel's Riddle by Erica Silverman is a Cinderella story set during Purim. Though it doesn’t turn the Cinderella narrative on its head it is a good alternative for parents of all faiths looking for a heroine whose intelligence is front and center. 

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric Kimmel presents the traditional story of family, faith, and power that is at the heart of the Purim celebration. This one is too old for my little ones, but they would be great for the grade school set.

Mondrian Collage

Today is Danish painter Piet Mondrian’s birthday.  His most recognizable pieces, solid squares of colors surrounded by dark lines and white space, were painted in 1920’s and 30’s.  In homage we made collages in his Neo-Plastic style. 

The prep was easy.  I cut out blue, red and yellow rectangles and black stripes while the Noodle was napping.  When he got up we taped a sheet of clear contact paper (sticky side up) to the living room table. He stuck the stripes then the rectangles onto the contact paper.  We put three sheets of white paper over the pieces and then covered the white paper with another sheet of contact paper (sticky side down), sealing the collage inside.  

This was the first time we used contact paper in this way and we will definitely be doing it again.  It is fantastic for toddler crafting!

NY Aquarium

March 1, 2012

The NY Aquarium is no gem, but it is a great place to spend an hour with a toddler!


February 29, 2012

Last week we were stuck inside with bad colds and I suggested we make playdough.  Unfortunately I didn't realize till Adrien was happily standing on the kitchen stool that we didn't have any flour.  I channeled my grandmother who let my sister and I as children mix together (and sometimes cook!) whatever ingredients we wanted, in whatever proportions we saw fit.  We would make a terrible mess, but we loved it.
 For his first concoction we used a pretty safe mash up of ingredients: crunchy peanut butter, powdered milk, honey, oil, powdered sugar, water and cornstarch.   Much much more fun than regular old playdough making! 

Love Bug Valentine's

February 11, 2012

Danyelle's ( valentine's are just about the cutest thing ever.  When I saw them I knew I had found the perfect cards for Noodle's play school group.  Above is my stab at them!  Check her's out and print your own here.

Grandmother Winter

And we have flurries!  It has been a relatively snow free year in Brooklyn, so any bit of white is very exciting!  In celebration of the snow I bring you one of our favorite winter books, Grandmother Winter.    A tale of the woman who brings on the snow with a shake of her down quilt.

Winter Visit

February 3, 2012

We are still  dreaming of the snowy days we spent with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents last week!