Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Foods You Can Make At-home That the Kiddos Will Love

This is a guest post by Joe from Village Bakery
My ideal foods are normally healthy - greens, salads, lots of baked chicken – you get the idea. And, my Saturday morning often consists of runs to the farmer's market to pick up locally-grown goodies.
Kids don't seem to like my zest for good-for-you foods.
I've learned how to cook veggies kids will eat, but they always want the store bought foods filled with sugars and preservatives. I'm going to discuss 5 foods (and trust me, there are plenty of others) that you can make somewhat healthy at-home.

1. Zucchini Pasta

I grew up in a household that ran on pasta. We ate everything from spaghetti to ziti and anything you can think of as long as pasta was included. But, carbs aren't the best thing to overload kids with all of the time.
A compromise that I've recently learned to love is making zucchini pasta.
Zucchini pasta doesn’t taste 100% the same, but it's also healthier and has far fewer calories, which is a major health bonus.
What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
Peel your zucchini and cut lengthwise. Use your vegetable peeler to make the cuts and stop when you reach the seeds. Continue until the zucchini is peeled thoroughly, and cut the strips into thin, spaghetti-like strips.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat and stir the zucchini into the mix. After a minute or two, add in your water and cook until soft (5 – 8 minutes). Season, add spaghetti sauce if you like, and serve.

2. Turkey Meatballs

My family is from Italy, so we love our Italian food. Meatballs are another great treat, but the traditional ground beef meatballs have a higher calorie count than their turkey counterparts.
And there's also the benefit of homemade meatballs being tons healthier than store-bought.
FatSecret says turkey meatballs have 42 calories, while beef meatballs have 57 calories – a big difference.
What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
You'll want to finely chop the onions and chop the parsley up, too. What you'll do next is place all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form little meatballs and place on a lightly oiled nonstick pan. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
Check the meatballs and cook until the outside is nicely browned.

3. Homemade Bread

I'm a fan of bread (who isn't?). While not the best to eat day and night, there are times when bread hits the spot. I recommend investing in breadmakers if you'll make bread often because it takes a toll on the arms, and cooking it just right is half luck and half science.
Let's get started:
What You'll Need
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
Your butter needs to be melted, so place it into the microwave for a few seconds. Set the butter aside for now. Now, you'll want to mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, add in 2 cups of water and the honey.
Mix very well for a minute or two, gradually adding in the additional water.
Knead for 8 – 10 minutes by hand (a mixer helps a lot here), cover and then let rise for an hour.
Place your palm in the middle of the dough to make a crease, break into two loaves, and knead and shape the dough until you have two loaf shapes. You'll need to tuck the ends thoroughly.
Grease a bread pan, place the dough in it, cover, and allow to rise again. Bake at 375F for 20 – 25 minutes, remove, and brush with the butter before baking for an additional 10 minutes or until done.
This isn't coconut ice cream on bread, but it's equally as delicious.

4. Homemade Nutella

Nutella is sinfully delicious, but it has a place on everyone's must-try list. This delicious chocolate hazelnut spread can be made right in your own home, and it's a lot of fun for kids to help, too. If you're clamoring with excitement right now, so am I - I love nutella.
What You'll Need
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 16 ounces chopped milk chocolate
  • 3 tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
You'll need to set your oven to 350F, spread the hazelnuts across a baking sheet and roast them for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned. The skin should be blistered, so place in a towel and rub until the exterior of the skin comes off.
Allow to cool and melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until you have a paste consistency. Place all ingredients except for the chocolate into the processor. Process some more until the mixture is smooth before adding chocolate and blending well.
Place in a jar, and eat the night away.

5. Salad Dressings
I eat bunches of kale, tomatoes, cheese and whatever else I feel like putting into a healthy salad. A real treat for my tastebuds, salads are a great, healthy food to eat in most cases. The biggest threat to my salad is the dressing.
I love the store-bought dressings, but they're filled with so many preservatives that I question what I'm really eating.
What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Since there is no cooking involved, this is super simple: add all ingredients into a jar and mix together. Add in pepper and salt to taste. Boom, you're done. This is a classic vinaigrette, but it's healthy and not filled with a bunch of preservatives.

So, what foods are you starting to cook at-home that you used to buy in the store?

Joe Hughes
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website, http://www.village-bakery.com, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at Joe@Village-Bakery.com.

*This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh my, what kind of Spanglish is this?

My good Friend Annabelle organized a month long series on her blog The PiriPiri Lexicon called "A-Z, Raising Multilingual Children". I chose the letter O because it's one of my favorite letters and I bring you my post called "Oh my, what kind of Spanglish is this?"


My kids and I speak Spanglish, with some other words mixed in that we have picked up along the way in Asia. I call our language Asian Spanglish. My youngest one prefers English over Spanish and I'm pretty sure that's because the only people that speak Spanish to her are her dad and me. When she is with her brother they switch back and forth endlessly usually speaking a good ole Spanglish mix with some Thai words and even Indonesian words thrown in for good measure.

There are lots of instances I remember when they mix the words from both languages and sometimes change them to suit the verb tense. I am always reminded of one time when my first daughter was a tiny baby and we were living with a British family in the Peruvian Andes. We were having lunch at their long kitchen table and someone came to call for the mum. She answered matter of factly; "Tell them we are almorzaring and to come back later".

That little sentence struck me as the reality of the way her kids were living, speaking Andean Spanglish; which is quite different to my kids Asian Spanglish. Her kids grew up with a mix of British and Australian English and Andean Spanish mixed with Quechua. Her kids have amazing accents when they speak Spanish! My kids, specially the little one speaks a kind of English that I can't fully place, it's so neutral and mixed at the same time.

The way she says "mommy" at the end of a sentence for example is extremely British sounding, but when she's just waking up she calls "mamaaaa" in a more Latino tone. My son's English has a distinctive South American twang which I love hearing. He is so good at switching back and forth.

Just now coming back home from the Supermarket my daughter said "You won the ascensor maawwwmieee" because I arrived at the elevator first. When the kids want to drink coconut water it really depends where we are; In Thailand they will say "mamá quiero nam mah phrao" or "agua de coconut". Here in Sri Lanka it's "quiero un thambili mamá!" or me asking them "Do you want thambili"? 

Every time we talk we are switching back and forth and mixing words around to suit the moment. May daughter can't roll her r's so she's specially funny when trying to speak big words in Spanish like ferrocarril and carro rojo.

I wonder what other Spanglish mixes they will have as we keep moving around the world and collecting new words. I'm sure it will be entertaining at least. The fact that my daughter has a Peruvian passport but has never been to Peru (yet) reminds me of how I have an Italian passport but can't even speak Italian. 

What language mixes do you have at home? Had you ever though of different dialects of mixed languages like "Andean Spanglish" and "Asian Spanglish". I made those up, you are welcome to use them. 


My kids speak Asian Spanglish, my oldest daughter's first language was Andean Spanglish. My kids' accents are insane and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I am not Mafalda, I love soup

During my childhood, if I wasn't doodling on a piece of paper or playing with friends or cousins, I was reading Mafalda comics. Mafalda is a little Argentine girl who hates soup, and makes a great big fuzz over it. Whenever I think of soup and specially of someone not liking it, I think of Mafalda.

I am not like Mafalda because have always liked soup, all sorts of soup. My absolute favorite is Pumpkin Soup but only the way my grandmother made it, if it's made any other way then I don't like it. Most of my childhood was spent in Peru and I had my share of soups; from my nonna's red minestronne to Peruvian green menestron and Sopa de Olluco with charki to Adobo in the mountains at dawn and many many more.

I can't pick my favorite Peruvian soup but if I had to pick one to eat right now it would be Sopa Criolla. The best flavor for any winter day with beef broth,  angel hair pasta milk and a fried egg. 

Every restaurant will have this soup as it's a staple for any menu.

21. Sopa a la Criolla

I found this great recipe for you at LimaEasy.com

LimaEasy's Recipe for Sopa a la Criolla

Ingredients for 3 to 4 servings

  • 250 g beef steak (or ground beef)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon aji panca paste (or powder)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 l beef stock (or water)
  • 1 big potato
  • 80 g angel hair pasta (or thin spagehtti)
  • 50 ml evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking oil
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • garlic salt


Cut the beef in very small cubes (or use ground beef), chop the onion, peel and press the garlic and peel and cube the potato. Prepare beef stock, so it's hot when you need it in just a few minutes.
In a heavy saucepan heat a splash of oil. Add beef and let brown. Salt and pepper the meat. Then add the onion, the garlic and the aji panca paste to the beef. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the oregano and stir for another 2 minutes. Pour boiling beef stock (or water) into the saucepan. Then add the potato cubes. Put the lid on, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons. Cube the white bread and sprinkle some olive oil and a little bit of garlic salt on top. Mix with your hands. Heat a skillet and fry the bread cubes from both sides until brown. Set the croutons aside.
By now the soup should be nearly done. Add the angel hair pasta to it and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes until al dente. Then break in the eggs, stir once or twice and allow the yolks to becoming hard. Turn off the heat. Incorporate the milk and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve immediatly garnished with the croutons.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm getting tired of Curry

Oh Curry, ambrosia of Asia. I'm getting tired of you.

I can't be sure if I am getting tired of curries in general or just the Sri Lankan style. Definitely prefer to eat curry with chopsticks than with my hands, or rather with a spoon while everyone else gets their hands right in there with the spicy stuff.

Let's review my life, curry by curry in chronological order

In Peru:
Pollo al Curry: Chicken legs cooked in yellow curry powder served with rice. Definitely not spicy.

In Australia and back in Peru:
Chicken Curry: Chicken legs cooked like a stew with curry paste, not sure if Indian or Thai or what. A bit spicy but nothing major.

Chicken Curry with coconut milk: Same as the last one but with coconut milk.

Finding out that there were three kinds of Thai curry; yellow, red and green.

Love affair with curry begins!

Eating Indian Food at an Indian Fair and really enjoying all the different curries. Minimally Spicy, probably because the cook though it was best for "foreigners".

Eating Thai Food in a restaurant and trying green curry for the first time. Minimally Spicy. Didn't care much for the tiny green eggplants but no big deal.

In Thailand:
Green curry, red curry, yellow curry, I WANT CURRY!
Finally started to taste how spicy curry could be, but Thai curry has a "fresh" taste that even if the spiciness gets overbearing it is still delicious.

Tried Japanese Omu Rice with brown curry. Interesting...

In Indonesia:
Indonesian curry is ok, Rendang being the best of them. But they just aren't Thai Curry.

In Sri Lanka:
We weren't even there yet and the waiting area to get on the plane in Bangkok smelled like curry. Arriving in Colombo, the first smell was curry. 

Sri Lankan curry is not made from paste like in Thailand, but instead with roasted powders. The flavor of curry leaves and spices and chilli are extremely overpowering. No matter what the curry is made of, meat, vegetables, fruit, the chilliness takes over the flavor and you need more and more rice to be able to eat it all.

The local Sri Lankan staple is Rice and Curry, wrapped in plastic and newspaper, eaten by hand and then left to pick at by the crows. Finding a nice curry is not an easy task, spicy (tasteless) curry is everywhere.

Curry for breakfast, curry for lunch, curried snacks, curry in the air, curry on the ground, curry for the crows, curry in the bread buns, curry in the elevator.


I am tired of curry.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thinking of getting new sneakers?

I have been looking at the Reebook store every time I take the kids to school in the morning. When we were looking for new sports shoes for Big Kiddo we found some great ones at Reebook and I started drooling at the adult ones.

My old sneakers are getting to the point of no return and I think it's time to get new ones. Have you been thinking of getting a spanking new pair of sneakers to kick off the New Year? You can save money on a pair of Reeboks with coupons.

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on these classic beauties:

Or maybe some rocking tights! The ultimate yoga pants for the yoga I will probably never do. The last tights I had were also reeboks and I wore them for so long I loved them. They weren't as cool as these though, I think it's time to go all out and get some patterned ones. 

Hey, maybe if my tights look great I'll start doing sports again. Yoga is probably the best idea but I'm so lazy. Funny though, I love sports gear even if I don't do sports.

If I was living in a place that was colder I'd definitely go and get some rocking hoodies cause who doesn't like putting her hand in those wonderful unipockets! I've had hoodies in all colors and I love them when they are oversized! I never had them with the thumb hole and I think I'd really like that. I want to move to a cold place so I can start wearing hoodies again!

How about you? What's your favorite sports gear? Do you even do any sports? wink wink

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kidloland App and Christmas Songs

Download the app at the Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store
Your kids will thank you specially if they are small. 
My kids are proof.

Kidloland is an educational app available for iOS and Android that is easy to use and keeps little ones entertained. The app is geared to kids younger than 5 but the older kids might want to watch along too!

My kiddos have been using the Kidloland app for a couple of weeks, and every time they sit to play with it they have a great time picking if they want to hear a story or play a game. There is so much to do in Kidloland that they always find something new.

I was impressed as to how many different options there were to play with and the graphics are quite entertaining. 

There are games, stories, songs, phonics songs, abc songs, activities, popping games, classic songs like row your boat and the wheels on the bus.

My oldest little on is 6 so he gets tired faster of the app, my daughter is 4 and she stays on longer. I would totally recommend this app for little ones, it's entertaining and educational all in one.

Just last night my kids discovered the christmas songs and have been playing them over and over. Some of the songs are part of their christmas concert so they were happy about that.

We have played the 12 Days of Christmas on repeat for a few hours now. Their favorite part is of course fiiiiiive gooooldeeen riiiiings. That's my favorite part too. The illustrations on the video are cute to follow and full of color. Small Kiddo also likes the Jingle Bells song and saying "hey!". 

What I really like about the Kidloland videos is that it has the singalong words at the bottom so that parents can actually sing with the kids. I sure don't remember all the words to the songs but having the letters there helps a lot, and the kids learn faster as well.

I have to say my kids much haven't delved into the phonics and abc's parts of Kidloland, I think it reminds them too much of school. For homeschool families though, this is a great addition. I had a look at it on my own and it's quite entertaining like the rest of the app. 

There is one thing though, since there are so many possibilities of play inside the app, you have to download it by pieces as the kids go along. This is great if you have good internet but if you don't then you can only use the ones you already downloaded. For car trips, parents would have to download all the little bits first so that the kids can use the app freely.

I would definitely recommend buying the full version as there is so much more to see and learn, it's easy to use for little fingers and the music is attention grabbing.

Download the app at the Apple StoreGoogle Play and Amazon App Store

Kidloland gifted us a subscription of the app in exchange for a review, but the thoughts are all my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My new glasses from the GlassesShop.com

When GlassesShop.com contacted me about sending me a free pair of glasses in exchange for this blog post, I jumped at the opportunity. Why? Because finding a nice pair of glasses is either difficult or ridiculously expensive, and I'd never had an excuse before to write about wearing glasses so I figured why not. Read my review below my little story and then get an awesome 50% discount with the code at the bottom of this article.

A story of my eyesight and my love of frames

The first time I put on seeing glasses was when I was fifteen and the greatest thing I noticed about the world was how the big trees had lots of leaves and were not just green blobs sitting on top of other brown blobs. An aunt of mine owned an "optica" on Av. Petit Thouars, really close to my grandmother's house and I remember it was called "Optica Cientifica". I got all my glasses there until more modern opticians opened up around the city.

My first pair of glasses were round and black. For years I went back and forth with contact lenses and frames but now I wear mainly glasses. My eyes tend to get dry quite fast and contact lenses become uncomfortable quite fast. When I wore contact lenses I would wear all sorts of sunglasses.
I have had many kinds of frames throughout the years. I have a box in storage with old frames that I don't want to get rid of because they are so pretty. I have a pair of antique wire frames that I used for over a year until I changed for a pink and yellow model.

When I was traveling back and forth to Argentina I got all sort of fashionable frames and even had two seeing frames at a time that I could switch back and forth with. Then I stopped wearing contacts altogether and went back to frames full time. We left Peru while I was sporting the pink cats eye frames. On a beach day in Thailand I had to choose between holding on to my baby or to my glasses when a wave came our of nowhere and covered us completely. I hope you guessed that I held on to the baby!

After that it took a long time to find another pair I really liked. I had been making do for a couple of years when I get an email from a company that sold glasses online who wanted to send me a pair of glasses! Thank you GlassesShop.com for my new thin tortoiseshell nerdy chic glasses!

A photo posted by Graphic Designer + Artist (@oranavelarde) on

My honest review of buying eyeglasses online

On the first try of picking out the glasses, it was a bust. It turns out the prescription glasses are ordered online through an american company but the actual product comes from China. Sri Lankan post isn't so great and they can't track all the numbers. Needless to say, the first pair got lost. It took me a few months to realize what had happened, but then it was all ok after I talked to the representatives about it and started the process again. The original pair I had wanted wasn't available anymore so I picked my second choice,  a thin tortoiseshell rectangular frame that suits me better then i thought it would.

The frames with prescription lenses came in a cute plastic case and a good quality cleaning cloth.

I noticed quite quickly that the frames were not very sturdy and slipped off my face. With care the frames will be fine, and then slipping off I managed to fix quite easily at the optician in my neighborhood, she folded the legs a little bit to fit behind my ears better.

I was happy that I had my prescription with all the details like pupil distance in an email from a previous optician in Indonesia. I imagine that to order these kinds of frames online you need to get your eyes measured first and some opticians only do it if you are going to buy frames for them.

I've never had prescription sunglasses but it could be interesting. GlassesShop.com has prescription sunglasses too, apart from the regular clear ones.

Discount Code for you my Crazy Little Followers

If you are looking for some new glasses, then you should definitely consider ordering some new one from GlassesShop.com.  Make sure you have a prescription to send them and also make sure you give them the right address as I think that my first pair didn't make it because there was something wrong.

Get yourself some new glasses by using the code GSHOT50  as you check out. Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Each Peach Pear Plum. A book as old as me

I have been meaning to write this post for years. I am not sure why I never did. It's one of those things that you think, I'll get around to it eventually but then life takes over.

There is this book that I love called Each Peach Pear Plum.

Currently we have a hardback cover that I found out of serendipity in a Bali bookstore between princesses and transformer sticker books.

Right now I'm on the second copy of this book, I'm not sure where the first copy is but I think it's hidden in between all the other hundreds of books at my father's house.

Have you ever played the game "I spy"? If you have then you will love this book with classic fairy tale characters like Mother Hubbard and The Three Bears.

Small Kiddo loves finding Tom Thumb and Baby Bunting's pacifier.

The frog had it!

The Ahlbergs

Janet and Allan Ahlberg is easily my favorite artistic family. A writer, an illustrator and then a baby that became an illustrator. 

Back in the late seventies, Allan Ahlberg was married to his first wife Janet and they wrote and illustrated such classics like Each Peach Pear Plum, Peepo and The Joly Postman. 

In the back of the book Peepo, Janet illustrated the family inluding the family cat and it's just the loveliest thing you've ever seen.

I get a kick out of how the first printing of  Each Peach Pear Plum is 1978, the year I was born. Together the Ahlberg's published 37 books together and every single one is a beautiful piece of art. The most popular of all of the books is definitely Each Peach Pear Plum. Allan Ahlberg said in an interview for the Telegraph UK;

"If I had stayed in my little terraced house in Leicestershire, I could have lived off Each Peach Pear Plum for the rest of my life."

I Spy

A classic game played with children, I Spy is the premise for the Each Peach Pear Plum book. Each page has a prompt to find someone in the illustration. The Ahlberg's created a fictional place where Cinderella lives with Mother Hubbard and Tom Thumb, The Three Bears hunt in Robin Hood's forest and the Wicked Witch falls in the brambles with Jack and Jill.

Kiddo's love finding all the characters and all the extra little things that are illustrated in the pages. That is one of my favorite aspects of Each Peach Pear Plum and the Ahlberg family books; the detailed illustrations with incredible depth and story. 

"Each Peach Pear Plum
I Spy Tom Thumb"

He's up in the tree reading a book!

Your kids will love it

If you haven't yet discovered Each Peach Pear Plum or any of the other Ahlberg family books, wait no more! Not only will your kids love them, so will you. They will stay with your kids for years and will become the most important books they've ever had. I can assure you of this.

What could get any better than a plum pie in Mother Hubbard's Orchard with Cinderella, Jack, Jill, Robin Hood, Tom Thumb, The Three Bears, The Wicked Witch, Mother Hubbard and Baby Bunting? Ok, maybe the last page where the rabbits and birds eat the leftover crumbs.

Need convincing? Here's a video...

* Interview with Allan Ahlberg for The Guardian
* The World of Allan Ahlberg for The Telegraph
Both great reads

Because you are a book lover....