Do you have a cookie recipe that you use over and over? In 2008, I discovered No-Fail Chocolate Chippers in the Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook, and I've made them about once every month or two ever since. What makes this recipe amazing? It uses oat flour as well as all-purpose flour, which makes the cookies chewy and substantial.Read More
'Tis the season for baking cookies, so I'm happy to let my four-year-old show you one of the most basic tips all bakers should know: how to make brown sugar. With only two ingredients, it couldn't be simpler, and it's certainly more fresh and moist than store-bought. Brown sugar is also a key ingredient in our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
How to Make Brown Sugar:Read More
If you're familiar with Europe, you probably associate December 6th with St. Nicolas Day, but my thoughts always turn to Lyon, France, and la Fête des Lumières (the Festival of Lights) around this date. Having lived there as a university exchange student, I knew nothing about the event until I attended with my host sister. But Wikipedia claims that Lyon's Fête is the most attended festival in the world after Rio's Carnival and Munich's Oktoberfest. While I don't have much confidence in Wikipedia's accuracy, I do know that the festival is an amazing experience.Read More
A few months ago I shared an overview of the French children's magazines available in the U.S., and now I'm glad to give a more in-depth review of my daughter's favorite early childhood magazine: Popi.
Popi (pronounced PUH-pee) refers to a cuddly stuffed monkey who was originally a character from an English children's book series by Helen Oxenbury. Now he has his own cartoon (Léo and Popi). But Popi magazine doesn't focus on the monkey much--he's just one of several reappearing characters with their own brief stories in each issue.Read More
Joy to the world--it's December and Christmas is near! My little ones remind me of the simple joys of Christmastime at home, from candles and recorded carols to cookies and calendars. Advent calendars are one my favorite activities for anticipating noël because they are a concrete way for children to comprehend the passage of time. (Advent traditionally starts four Sundays before Christmas, but it's easier to stay on track by starting December 1st.) If you haven't started a countdown yet, it's not too late to catch up!Read More
Bonjour, mes amis! My family was on vacation in central Oregon earlier this week. Now that we've returned home, I love seeing my children spend long periods playing with their familiar playthings again. The old becomes new with absence!
Yesterday was a strange Thanksgiving Day for us. We celebrated with my family a day in advance, and we'll celebrate with my husband's family tomorrow, so our actual Thanksgiving Day was uneventful. The quiet of this holiday reminded me of Christmas 2004, when I was a university exchange student living in France. I spent that Christmas Eve in an inexpensive Paris hotel.Read More
Quel joie, les fêtes! What joy it is to celebrate! But how easy it is to let stress sully our holiday preparations. As a mama of young children, I am reminded of a few tips little ones can offer us during the holidays:
Aim to bless, not to impress. The heart of hospitality lies in our motives.Read More
I attended college in Santa Barbara, California, where the mild Mediterranean climate attracts movie stars, tourists, and the homeless alike. Mental illness was so common among the homeless there that my psychology professor assigned a project that involved observing a street person displaying signs of mental illness, identifying a probable diagnosis, and writing a suggested treatment plan. Several years prior to my arrival on campus, a fellow college student was so troubled by the ever-present homeless population that he dropped his classes, donated the contents of his bank account to a local shelter, and moved onto the street to join them. Clearly, this was neither wise nor a significant solution, but I admire the depth of his concern.Read More
Aren't you thrilled to celebrate Thanksgiving next week? I'm grateful that my husband has a week off work this year, even if some of the days are unpaid furlough days. I hope you have plenty of time to relax too! From hackschooling to newborn twins in France, enjoy the links I've compiled for you this weekend.Read More
We Americans will soon celebrate l'Action de grâce. I love the French translation of Thanksgiving, because in addition to gathering with family for food, this season is indeed founded on grace and gratitude. My favorite definition of grace is "unmerited favor." Sometimes it takes disasters like the recent super typhoon in the Philippines to remind us that we have far more than we deserve, and it's more than appropriate to pause in wonder at God's protection and provision.
Here in America, our lives have continued to be characterized by increasing abundance. My "five kernels" of gratitude reveal the generosity that God has shown me:Read More
I'm only four years into the experience of motherhood, but it's enough to see how quickly children grow from feather-light swaddled packages into youths who beg you to watch as they perform new feats. Yet only now do I realize that the growth and achievements visible in our children often parallel the changes taking place in our adult hearts and minds. Parenting is transformative, perhaps most of all for mothers. As mothers, each moment brings scenarios requiring our response: the baby wakes early; the toddler tugs at our pant leg while we're washing dishes; the child bursts into tears when plans are thwarted--but with these everyday challenges we take a breath and find ways to respond with patience and creativity that we lacked a day or two before.
Do you see how you are growing, mama? Have you realized how you are beginning to shine? Don't fear that you are losing yourself.Read More
Tile board is great dry erase material! It can be used at home to create large family wall calendars or to display the week's menu. As a foreign language teacher, I used shower board to make a classroom set of mini whiteboards. (We used them for translation games.) If you're interested in making a large dry erase family calendar, read on. Frankly, this DIY project is incredibly easy, since the home improvement store employees can cut the tile board for you.Read More
Of all the cultural treasures in the world, lullabies must be among the sweetest snippets of language and melody. In the short film collection Paris, Je T'Aime, one of the more moving five-minute stories featured a nanny singing a Spanish lullaby. The lullaby she sang is called "Qué Linda Manita" and it refers to the sweet little hands, eyes, and other body parts that God gave the baby.Read More
As we express our appreciation this month for what we've been given, we also start thinking about what we want to give. Of course, experiential gifts, such as a trip to the aquarium or a live performance of The Nutcracker, are a fantastic alternative to material things. But when we do purchase things for children, we want those things to bring joy and contentment for as long as possible. I haven't purchased any Christmas gifts yet, but I'll be acting on my ideas soon.Read More
Although Veteran's Day has been officially marked on the American calendar since 1926, it wasn't until I lived in France that I realized why November 11th was the day chosen to honor our veterans. I was riding a bus in Lyon when I spotted a street named "11 november 1918." I knew World War II had ended in 1918, but until that moment, I hadn't realized that the 11th day of the 11th month marked the end of the fighting. I'm grateful that the French name their streets after historic dates and persons. There's beauty in preserving knowledge in such a publicly visible way.
This Veteran's Day, I can't think of this day without also recalling images from a project called The Fallen 9000.Read More
We live in a neighborhood of cookie-cutter homes, but we know our neighbors and we appreciate our little pied-à-terre. Yet few of our neighbors have young children, and fewer still know about the park within walking distance from our street. We call it le Parc des Champignons because of the mushrooms that grow from the bark chips there in the fall and spring.Read More