Paper scrap quilt

paper scrap quilt

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a stack of toddler art that has had its time on the front of the fridge then gets put into a drawer – and then that drawer starts overflowing. Sometimes I cut out parts of the tot’s art for creating homemade cards, but there is usually still a lot of creations that either need to be chucked or repurposed in some creative way.

After watching the morning episodes of Curious George and Cat in the Hat, some sort of crafting show usually comes on. Today happened to be quilting, and the tot was mesmerized.

What is that, what is that, what is thaaaaaaaaaat?!

I tried explaining quilting to my daughter, to which she promptly said, “Wanna make one?”

She pulled up a chair to the table and waited while I figured it all out. And, in that moment, I did. I tugged open that overflowing toddler art drawer, pulled out several creations – along with some scrap paper – and started cutting out squares. If you’ve got a kid that’s old enough to wrangle the scissors, this is a great opportunity to hone those skills.

Offer your child a square-shaped object to use as a template. Encourage your child to trace around the shape and then cut out lots and lots of squares from the papers. I used a square cut from some scrap cardboard for cutting mine.

Now mix together equal parts glue and water and get out a sheet of white paper. Invite your child to paint the backs of the papers and then press on the paper creating rows of squares, just like a quilt.

I was amazed with how my daughter really got into this project. She concentrated on painting the entire backside of each square and then carefully positioned the square of paper, creating a finished paper scrap quilt just like the fabric ones she had seen on the big TV.

And, as soon as she was finished with this one, she wanted to make more, more, more. For fun, have each member of the family make their own quilt square and then tape them all together for a big paper scrap quilt. Or encourage your child to create a pattern or design within the paper scrap quilt.

Happy quilting!


Peanut butter and jelly quick bread

peanut butter and jelly quick bread

I’m tired of the rain. I really can’t complain – for the majority of our “winter” it was in the mid 60’s and sunny, so this late rainy winter season is lame (but really good for all the plants and stuff). I’ve been busy making soups and stews and casseroles, but not much just for the tot. She’s pretty obsessed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the moment. We’re restricted from taking anything nutty to preschool, making her indulgences strictly limited to around the house.

I’d love to teach her how to open the fridge, get out the bread, peanut butter, jelly, a knife, and slather the stuff all over the bread because I’m tired of making piles and piles of the sticky sandwiches. Her face gets covered, jelly ends up on the furniture, ants start gathering…

Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m being a bit of a peanut-butter-and-jelly-Debbie-downer.

Oh well.

So, while the rain was doing this outside for the third day in a row,

I came up with a fun way of making that laborious task of tossing together those countless sandwiches into a quick and easy concoction.

Peanut butter and jelly quick bread.

This is a super easy bread to whip up, and if you aren’t feeling like dealing with cleaning the loaf pan, fill your muffin tin with liners and make mini-breads. I know you have all the ingredients (nothing crazy here) and the kids can even offer a helping hand – or make this easy recipe themselves. Just make sure to wash hands after handling raw eggs, not to lick the spoon (or bowl) clean, and offer assistance around that hot oven!


1 egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 c plain yogurt (vanilla would be yummy, too)

1/2 c water

1/4 c sugar

Dash salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 c flour

1/4 c peanut butter

1/4 c jelly (any kind is tasty)

Simply whip together the egg, yogurt, water, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Go ahead and crank your oven to 350 F while you’re happily mixing away.

Slowly add the flour along with the baking soda and baking powder. Once the batter comes together, take a moment to prepare your loaf pan by giving it a nice slathering of vegetable oil, or a spray of no-stick whatever, or line your muffin tin.

Now measure and add the peanut butter as well as the jelly. Carefully stir (or fold) the peanut butter and jelly into the batter. You want big swirls of the stuff not for the peanut butter and jelly to become completely incorporated.

Gently pour the peanut butter and jelly quick bread batter into your prepared pan and toss into your hot oven for 50 to 60-minutes. Let your bread rest for at least 20-minutes before slicing (if you can wait that long). If you slice into it too soon, you will tempt the happy Quick Bread Gods of Fate and things may crumble to pieces (which is still tasty, but very messy).


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Fine art for kids: Color field with Barnett Newman

color field painting

The other day the tot and I got out the paints and spent some time swirling and moving our brushes all around our papers. My daughter was pretty insistent on using one color for covering the entire area. While watching her concentrate, I couldn’t help thinking of the color field modern paintings by Barnett Newman. Newman’s famous creations, which he called, “zips,” filled canvases with colors strikingly divided by a thin straight line. He was considered an abstract expressionist and one of the big players in the American color field movement during the late 1950’s.

While the tot was busily painting away, I pulled up a few of Barnet Newman’s paintings and shared them with her. She yelled out colors and pointed while I scrolled through the images. This is an ideal project for toddlers, perfect for honing fine motor skills through holding and painting with a small brush and encouraging tots to think of the whole picture – or using the entire paper for creating.

Get out a plastic place mat or a few sheets of newspaper, a sheet of white paper, a length of painter’s tape, several small paintbrushes, a small container, and tempera paint. Get your child set up with the place mat – or newspapers – and then place the paper in front of her.

Offer your child a length of painter’s tape that is just a bit longer than the width of the paper. She can pick the perfect spot for pressing it onto her paper and the place mat underneath.

fine art for kids

Now your child can select which color she’d like to use for her Newman inspired color field painting. My tot yelled out, “RED” and red it was. I squeezed a bit into a small container and got her set up with a few different sized paintbrushes.

Encourage your child to swirl and move her paintbrush all around the paper, covering the entire area. This takes a bit of concentration – and motivation, so sit on down and keep your tot focused on creating a solid paper full of color. Kids at this age love to scribble away, which is exactly what this abstract art activity is all about, except with paint!

color field painting

Once the entire paper is covered, let things dry before inviting your child to carefully peel of the tape. Now your child can make another exciting abstract color field creation using two pieces of tape – or three – and as many colors as she’d like. Display the finished creations together showcasing the big areas of color.


Sexy split pea soup

sexy split pea soup

There’s really no way to make split pea soup sexy. It’s green, a bit gloppy, and totally doesn’t top the “decadent eats” list. But, savoring a nice bowl of the healthy stuff could help you be a bit sexier. Split peas are packed with fiber and other good stuff, which makes the body feel nice and full after a big bowl – resulting in a bit less jiggle in the middle.

So the other day, when we were in the middle of a bit of rainy NorCal winter weather, I got the hankering for some split pea soup. I didn’t have much stuff in the house (and had no plans for going out) so used what I had to create something really tasty – and super easy to toss together.

This recipe makes a nice big pot – perfect for a week’s full of lunches with enough to share (if your family or friends are interested). Not only is this a hearty soup, but also it’s also low in calories and vegetarian – and vegan. I was utterly amazed when at lunch my tot wanted a taste of mine, and then gobbled up the rest. Serve with toasted pita wedges or whole-wheat crackers and you’re on your way to being one hot mama!

And, you might just find that this split pea soup is pretty damn sexy with it’s wonderfully smooth texture, full flavor, and resulting oh-so-good feeling in your tummy after you enjoy a nice, big bowl.



1 small onion chopped

2 carrots chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

½ teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon orange juice

½ teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 lb split peas

¼ teaspoon each of salt, pepper, celery salt, thyme

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water


Chop up all the veggies – and the garlic – and toss into a big soup pot and drizzle with the vegetable oil. Turn the heat to medium and give everything a stir.

Sprinkle the veggies with the salt, pepper, celery salt, and thyme and let simmer for about five minutes over medium-high heat. Once the edges of the onions start to caramelize (or brown), pour in the orange juice. This deglazes the pan and gives the veggies – and split peas – and really lovely flavor.

Keep stirring the veggies until most of the orange juice has bubbled away, and then add the soy sauce and apple cider to the mix. Go ahead and add the split peas and stir until things are nicely coated and simmering away.

Now you can add the vegetable stock and water, cover, and let bubble for about 40-minutes or so. Don’t forget to give things a stir along the way so the soup doesn’t clump up and stick to the bottom of your pot.

After about 30-minutes check in and see how things are going. This is a good time to enjoy a taste test. If you want it saltier, add more salt. Like pepper? Sprinkle on some more. Or, if you want things tangier, dribble in more apple cider vinegar.

Depending on how you like your split peas, at around the 40-minute mark they should be nice and tender – but not mushy. But, if you want things more on the smooth side, add an additional ½ cup of water, cover, and let simmer for another 15-minutes.


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Cardboard box oven

cardboard box oven

I love cooking in the kitchen, which means the tot loves to “cook” in the kitchen. I’ve been searching for a really fun interactive kitchen for her to play with that isn’t all plastic-y or super expensive (you know, those all wood ones). I’d seen some really cute ideas for how to make your own using an old side cabinet, but didn’t have one hanging around nor wanted to frequent the stores searching for a used one. So, the other day, the answer came to me when we received something from UPS.

A cardboard box oven.

To make your own box oven, you’ll need one 18x18x16 box along with another to use for adding your embellishments. You can make your oven however you like – and add special items for your budding cook.

This is how ours turned out…

I started by taping one end of the box, which allowed me to still have access to the insides. I traced around a rectangular plate of the tot’s to create the opening for the oven and then carefully cut on the line using a utility knife – but not along the bottom edge. To create the opening, I pressed a ruler along the base of the opening and then folded out the cardboard. Then I used a piece of sand paper to gently smooth the edges. For the handle, I cut one handle-shap from some scrap cardboard and then used that template to cut two more exactly the same. The hot glue gun held them together, and then to the front of the oven door with the help of a few small rectangles to make things more stable.

Next up? Cute knobs – that turn! With the help of a few egg cups and pipe cleaners, these knobs were good-to-go. I separated the egg cups and cut four same-sized circles from the extra cardboard. Then, I used a push pin to make two holes in each of the cardboard circles, just like it was a button. Simply thread the rounds with the pipe cleaners (doesn’t matter what color) and then hot glue the tops of the egg cups over the cardboard button, with the pipe cleaner end coming out the other side. Now measure (or don’t) where you’d like your knobs at the top of the box above the oven door. Use the push pin to make holes, thread with the button knobs, and then twist the pipe cleaners on the inside of the box oven, adding a dab of hot glue to make things really secure. I even used a black marker to add cooking temperatures.

 To create the cook-top, I cut the side off the extra cardboard box and hot-glued it over the top of the cardboard box oven, which made things a bit more stable. Then, I cut four large circles from the extra cardboard, plus an extra four smaller ones to make the burners. Once again, my hot glue gun secured everything in place.

Just because the bottom of the box was just a bit low to use when the front of the oven door opened, I cut a length of extra cardboard to fit right under the door when open and also held happily in place with a bit of hot glue. Making the pice just a bit longer makes it easy to fold the sides and then glue in place. This way the tot’s cakes would bake up just right.

After taping the bottom of the box, it became apparent that the top of the range would be a bit low. So, with the help of a four folded squares of extra cardboard, I created legs for the cardboard box oven and used that trusty hot glue gun to attach.

The tot could barely stay away while the cardboard box oven was in production, and the minute she could have at it, she was in love. And what’s awesome is that it cost me basically nothing to make, took just about an hour, and can be hot glued back together when things fall off – or recreated with a bigger box!

Turkey cheese waffles

turkey cheese waffles

It’s been raining all week. Due to that rain, I’ve been a bit mopey. Well, there have been other things that have contributed, like our tax bill coming out to be twice as much as estimated (GULP! Pasta and ground turkey for the next 6-months at our house), the tot tossing lots of tantrums (yeah, really – throwing and screaming), and stuff like the roof leaking (again) and having to take care of funky plumbing issues.

Usually I turn to food to comfort my soul and fix things up right, but I wasn’t even in the mood for baking, or cooking something new, or eating.


After the initial shock of our tax bill started to wear off (well, not really), and the fifth full day of rain pounded upon us, I picked myself up and did a bit of cleaning, which amazingly actually helped. While dusting and organizing the tot’s toys, I had an idea for a total comfort lunch both the tot and I would love.

Turkey cheese waffles.

Here’s the deal. These are super messy, but really tasty. You’re going to have cheese everywhere, and probably some waffle batter, too. It really doesn’t matter because these turkey cheese waffles are the perfect combo of savory and sweet – and your whole family will love them no matter the time of day. Making your own waffle batter allows you to add more vanilla or less sugar – however you like it. And, you really only need a few ingredients.

What you need

1 3/4 cup flour

2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of salt

Sliced turkey (I used thick cut)

Sliced cheddar cheese (or pre-cut slices of that really melty orange cheese – you know what I’m talking about)

What you do

Whip up your waffle batter by whisking together the milk, eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. If you want things to be a bit sweeter, you can add another tablespoon of sugar, or a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. And, you can skip the vanilla, or just add a splash, if it’s not your thing. If you want really crispy-crunchy waffles, use melted butter instead of the oil.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the batter and then slowly add the flour, stirring as you go. Once the batter comes together, let it rest for a minute or so.

Preheat your waffle maker and get out your sliced turkey and cheese. It just so happened we had a few slices of that totally oozy-gooey creamy orange cheese, which really melted amazingly. Or thinly slice some cheddar and you’re good to go. You’ll need about 1 slice of turkey and cheese for each waffle, and the batter makes enough for 6 good ones.

When your waffle maker is hot pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter, top with a slice of turkey and cheese, and then drizzle another 1/4 cup of the batter over the top. And, you might find 1/4 cup is too much, or too little, for your maker (especially if your batter starts oozing out), so the first waffle might be a bit of an experiment. Slowly close the top and continue to cook according to your waffle maker’s waffle making deal. Ours “dings” when it’s done….

Keep making waffles until there’s no more waffles to make. Yes, you’re going to make a mess, but, really, SO good.

*The tot and I ate several for lunch and the husband ate the leftovers when he got home. He then asked when I would be making them again.

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Fun and exciting left-brain art activities (that trick the right brain into participating)

Left-brain art activities don’t have to be boring – they can be filled with exciting ways for enticing kids to tap into the benefits of combining both sides of the brain into one fun creative machine.  Kids often let the dominant left-brain take charge forgetting the beneficial creative right-brain completely, leading to comments such as, “I can’t draw.” Encouraging creative left-brain art activities promotes self-confidence and the child’s brain to work together when getting creative and problem solving.


Young kids greatly benefit from activities that engage the left-brain in creative art projects. Introduce kids to shapes along with the math concept of pattern through a fun water resist art activity.

-Look at patterns with the child and discuss how they are created. The left-brain is encouraged when the big picture is looked at instead of the small parts of a project.

-Offer your child a sheet of white drawing paper and a set of crayons. Younger children can enjoy the process of engaging the logical left-brain through creating simple shapes, while older toddlers can attempt to create patterns using both colors and shapes. Or, if you’ve got a real young one, help them out by creating a few shapes together.

-Remove the crayons once he’s finished making patterns. Your child can now paint all over the paper using watercolors, practicing dipping his paintbrush into the paints on his own, which develops fine-motor skills. Invite him to paint without concern for staying within lines or following any set directions, allowing his creative right-brain to coordinate with his left.

-Discuss the finished artwork together further engaging the child’s visual cortex and his creative development. Talk about what he liked about the art making process and encourage him to explain his finished patterns.

Children Aged 5 to 7

As kids age and become more critical of their artwork, encouraging left-brain art reminds them that artwork doesn’t have to solely rely on creativity but can be accomplished through using left-brain skills, too. Create a geometric design with your child, which encourages basic math knowledge as well as artistic skills.

-Discuss geometric shapes with your child, having him draw pictures of as many as he can and then write the names of the shapes, further engaging his left-brain.

-Invite the child to select three shapes to use for his geometric design.

-Give the child a sheet of white drawing paper and have him draw the first shape he selected with a marker so that it almost touches the sides of the paper. Offer him the use of a ruler to help create his lines. Then he can draw the second shape within the first, and the third within the second shape, making his three shapes all within each other.

-The child can now use markers to color each shape in, using a different color for each shape.

-Discuss how the finished creation is an abstract masterpiece, full of shape, line, and color.

Children Aged 8 to 13

Older children begin to lose interest in art as they age, which is also partly due to art classes not always a part of many middle schools and high schools as a required subject. Preteens are at risk of missing out on honing creative skills and finding ways to remind the brain that merging right and left-brain talents helps form a complete human being. Challenge kids by creating a 3D sculpture from a piece of construction paper.

-Provide the child with an 8 by 10-inch piece of construction paper and invite him to figure out a way to create a freestanding 3-dimensional form using solely the paper and a pair of scissors.

-Look at modern sculptures by the American artist David Smith, and discuss how he came up with the motivation to make the interesting forms. Discussing artwork stimulates the visual cortex and promotes use of the right brain.

Brainstorm ideas for how your child can create the sculpture. Working through the problem to find a solution kick starts the left-brain, making it ready for the challenge.

-Encourage the child to fold, cut, and shape the flat paper into a form that is able to stand on its own without support.

-Once finished, display the folded and cut marvel in a location for the whole family to enjoy.

Young Adults

Once kids hit young adulthood, they become aware of their inabilities in the area of the arts. Most feel they aren’t creative, where in reality creativity is hiding out in the right-brain just itching to get out.  By creating a mathematical grid drawing, your child is able to easily and comfortably recreate an image without fear of mistake or disappointment – and pulling out that hidden creativity.

Chuck Close is an American artist that uses mathematical grids to recreate photographs into larger than life portraits using pointillism. Look at examples of his work with your teenager and discuss his techniques.

-Invite your child to find an image from a magazine or an actual photograph to recreate in the style of Chuck Close.

-Using a ruler and some basic math, he can figure out how to enlarge the small image onto a larger piece of paper. For instance, if the photograph selected is 4 by 6-inches, he can create a grid with marker lines every 2-inches around the image. The small 4 by 6-inch image can be enlarged onto a 12 by 18-inch piece of paper with a grid drawn lightly in pencil every 6-inches around the paper.

-Your child can use markers to recreate the image using large and small dots of color, encouraging the left-brain to work methodically from one square to the next in the grid formation.

-Due to the left-brain not feeling challenged to create a realistic image, the right brain is able to offer a helping hand, which allows your teenager’s artistic abilities to shine through without him even realizing it.

-Display the finished grid drawing alongside the picture, sharing with others how the artwork was created.

By encouraging kids to use their left-brain and their inner creativity, they will feel confident about their artwork and also feel ready to share their creativity with others.



Shine Supper Club – Quick fried chicken

I’m afraid of making fried chicken. Really. I love it, and often enjoy it when others prepare it. But, to make it at home? Nope. I had salmonella as a tot. I don’t remember any of it, but, according to my mom, it wasn’t pretty. Supposedly, the wonderful sick came from eating undercooked home-fried chicken (not made by my mom).  I ended up in the hospital and everything. So the idea of frying my own chicken freaks me out a bit. Especially with my tot at home.

The other day I came across a new foodie idea over at Shine Food – The Shine Supper Club. The first assignment was to tackle cooking something you’ve always a bit intimidated by but always wanted to try.

I knew I had to tackle fried chicken.

I did some research, checked out a few recipes, and then did a bit of adjusting. Lots of recipes suggested letting the chicken sit overnight in buttermilk – and I just don’t have the patience for that. I came up with a short-cut idea that turned out wonderfully tasty and super crispy. And, by using a meat thermometer to check the inner temp, I felt just fine frying away. But, here’s the deal. There’s no way to healthy-up fried chicken. I tried whole-wheat flour and the coating became really dark and a bit burnt tasting. So just accept that it’s going to be fried – and amazingly good.


1 (around) 3 to 4-pound chicken cut into 10 sections (split the breasts)

1 garlic clove chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups vegetable oil

Get out a big bowl and mix together the milk, yogurt, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and rosemary. Toss in your chicken, cutting the breasts through the wide middle, creating two equal sized chunks (not the long-skinny way). Move the chicken around making sure it’s nice and covered and then pop in the fridge for at least 30-minutes. Letting that chicken hang out for 2-hours is perfect.

Gather together your dusting ingredients along with a paper bag. Toss the flour, salt, dry mustard, paprika, dried oregano and pepper into the paper bag and give things a shake to distribute.

Now get out the biggest pan you’ve got. A 12-inch should fit all that chicken easily. But, two smaller sauté pans will work just fine, too. Add the oil to the pan and crank to medium-high heat. You want the oil to be about 325 F before adding the chicken.

Add a few pieces of chicken at a time to the paper bag and then shake, shake, shake. Lift out a piece, give another little shake to knock off any extra flour and then slide into that hot oil. Repeat until all the chicken is happily frying.

Set your kitchen timer for 10-minutes and walk away. You can check back to make sure your oil isn’t too hot. If you see the edges start to darken after just a minute or two, you can turn the heat down a bit.

Once your timer dings, flip that chicken, set the timer for 10-minutes and let that chicken fry. After about 15-minutes of total cooking time, use an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temp of the chicken. For a perfectly piece of fried chicken, you need that meat to be around 165 F. Check the temperature of both a dark and white piece of chicken just to make sure . If your chicken hits 165 F before your timer dings, you’re good to go.

Create a nice resting spot for your hot and crispy chicken by stacking several sheets of paper towel. Remove the chicken, place on those paper towels,  and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the chicken cool for a minute or two before serving.


French onion kale soup

I don’t know about you, but one of my total craves is really ooey-goey French onion soup. It’s so simple and yet amazingly flavorful – and out-of-control comforting. This last week wasn’t one of the best weeks. I don’t really know why or what caused things to be so craptastic, but it just wasn’t a good week. I was craving comfort food fast. Instead of reaching for the flour and sugar and butter and eggs, I decided to go a bit healthier.

French onion kale soup.

Yeah, that’s right. I put a big bunch of healthy and hearty kale in my French onion soup and the result was super yummy. This recipe makes a nice big pot, perfect for a week of total comfort lunches, or enough for a couple of big bowls for dinner.

And it’s really easy and ready to eat in 30-minutes.


4 large onions sliced (around 3-pounds)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon thyme

Dash pepper

1/4 cup dry white vermouth (or white wine)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sugar

32-ounces good beef stock (the stuff in a box)

2 cups water

1 big bunch kale chopped (about 3-cups)

Whole-wheat bread

Sliced Jarlsberg cheese (or shredded Parmesan)

What you do

French onion soup is all about the yummy caramelized onions (well, really, it’s about the melty cheese), which is the flavorful base to the soup. Slice the onions in half and then into 1/4-inch half round strips. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add the oil, sliced onions, salt, thyme, and dash of pepper. Give things a stir to coat the onions.

Let the onions simmer and caramelize for about 10-minutes. Keep stirring every few minutes to keep them from burning or sticking to the bottom of your pot. Before you know it, they’ll shrink up and start browning around the edges…

Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and stir pulling up all those caramelized bits and mixing them in with those onions. Now you can add the soy, apple cider vinegar, sugar, beef stock and water. Crank the heat and bring to a boil.

Once the French onion soup is bubbling, add the kale and let simmer covered for 20-minutes.

Pre-heat your broiler and dig out an ovenproof bowl, a slice of whole wheat bread, and your cheese. Ladle the hot soup into your bowl and top with a slice of whole-wheat bread (I cut the crusts off to prevent burning) and then cover the bread with two slices of Jarlsberg. Don’t have any Jarlsberg hanging around? You can cover with Parmesan or even mozzarella, and this soup is still tasty (I tried both!).

Place the bowl on a sheet tray and then under the broiler. Don’t walk away – keep a close eye on your soup! Once the top of the cheese starts bubbling, you’re good to go.


(don’t burn your mouth!)

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Fine art for kids: Spring with Monet

The weather outside is definitely no longer frightful. The blossoms are blossoming, bulbs are popping flowers, and the grass sure seems a lot greener. While out on a walk with the tot the other day, she got caught up admiring the fresh yellow flowers adorning the sidewalk. She picked several, positioned a few in her hair, and then proceeded to squish the rest of them up.

Oh, to be three.

When we got home, she was determined to paint a picture. While getting out the paint, I had a flash of those dreamy, romantic paintings by Monet. I grabbed the trusty laptop and pulled up a few images for the two of us to check out. Claude Monet is a mega artist – pretty much everyone has heard of him or seen his art at some point. He is considered the Big Daddy of French Impressionism, which was all about capturing the light and impression of a scene or object through small brushstrokes of color. In fact, the style was named after his painting titled, Impressionism, Sunrise 1872.

I shared a few examples of Monet’s water lily paintings with my daughter while encouraging her to comment on colors in the pictures. I gathered together the colors she yelled out along with two sheets of white paper.

This is an art activity perfect for kids of all ages. The really young can explore making marks and learning more about color theory by watching the colors blend together. Older kiddies can focus on color arrangement and creating a finished painting just like one of Monet’s.

Offer your child several different colors of tempera paint similar to the ones found in Monet’s water lilies’ paintings or colors she thinks of during spring. Along with a collection of paints, have a few paintbrushes close by, too.

Place one of the sheets of paper on your workspace. This gets a bit messy, so place the paper on a few sheets of newspaper or scrap paper. Now your child can dip a paintbrush in a color of tempera paint and dab, dab away on the paper, just like Monet.

Encourage your child to select a fresh paintbrush, dip into a new color, and continue dabbing. Keep dipping and dabbing until the paper is just about covered.

Now place the other white paper next to the painted paper. For the younger ones, offer a nice wet paintbrush to use for swirling all over the paper. Older kids can dip and paint the water around the paper until it’s lightly coated (not dripping wet…).

Carefully flip the water-downed paper on top of the dappled painting and give it a light press all around. The bit of water will help blend and swirl the dabs of paint together, giving it a really wonderful Impressionistic feel. Some of the paint might squeeze out the sides, but that’s okay.

Lift off the paper revealing your child’s watery, colorful spring impressionistic creations. Display on the  family fridge or use for making bright spring cards!