It's 2014, and our family is embarking on our virtual travel to West Africa. To explore these countries and their culture, we will follow along with the festivals, cook and eat traditional foods, learn of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Weekends in a Nutshell

A rare family photo, complete with all four of us - even if one of us isn't smiling :)
It's been all about celebrating Autumn around here for the past couple of weeks. It is most certainly my favorite time of the year, with the weather still nice, the beauty of fall foliage, and the activities that abound at farms. We did the requisite corn maze, giant pumpkin farm and chestnut gathering. (What exactly is it about gathering chestnuts that is so entertaining? My husband, the gatherer, collected what feels like bushels of them.)



Along with preparing for Halloween by carving the countless pumpkins Elle insisted on getting (actually, I counted 14. 14! That does include mini pumpkins, but still. We just may cater to her pumpkin "obsession" a little too much), we also marked Diwali, the Hindu festival of Light by drawing mehendi, henna tattoos on each other. We have also been gorging on pumpkin seeds :)


I've been absent lately as I've been working (on and off for months actually) on another website and coming across many a challenge! I think it will just go on the back burner for a little while, so I can share more West African culture here. Oh, and a few more pancakes :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop | #20

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop! This month I'll be joining Multicultural Kid Blogs and various excellent bloggers in co-hosting a blog hop featuring what I love most: learning about different cultures with kids. This link up is an excellent resource for virtually traveling the world - I hope you'll join us.




The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time!

Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.

This month our co-hosts are:


Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate! Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you're following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
<div align="center"><a href="http://multiculturalkidblogs.com/?p=5802" title="Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop" target="_blank"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/.../share+culture+button+2-email..." alt="Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop" /></a></div>
  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don't be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you're featured, don't forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
<div align="center"><a href="http://multiculturalkidblogs.com/?page_id=5802" title="Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop" target="_blank"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/.../featured+culture+button+2..." alt="Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop" /></a></div>


Here's my favorite from last time:




Becky of Kid World Citizen put together this excellent round up of crafts and activities to celebrate Day of the Dead for Multicultural Kid Blogs that can be found here. We celebrate this every year to some degree, and I'm looking forward to adding a couple of ideas from this list for this year!

Thank you for linking-up, and we can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Around the World with Pancakes: Mexican Hot Cakes


We're trying out pancakes from around the world, looking beyond fluffy pancakes and beyond breakfast food

In Mexico, pancakes are known as hot cakes. Though similar to typical North American pancakes, they differ slightly because they're made with masa harina, dried and powdered corn dough, rather than wheat. They're popular for breakfast and are sold on the streets, eaten at all times of the day and night. They are served with fruit, honey and sweet toppings such as sweetened condensed milk or cajeta (goat milk caramel). 

Mexican street vendors selling hot cakes
Photo Credit: Waywuwei
We used the recipe on the back of the Maseca bag of masa harina that we found in the Mexican foods section of our grocery store. Making hot cakes was also a great excuse to find some cajeta, a caramel made from goat's milk rather popular in Mexico, and in our house. It can be found in Latin grocery stores, in jars and squeeze bottles. We enjoyed these pancakes, and with their strong flavor of cornmeal doused in caramel, they have the perfect flavoring for the fall. 


Hot cakes bought from street vendor with what looks like a fruit preserve topping
Photo Credit: Angelica Portales


Mexican Hot Cakes

Serves 4
As mentioned above, this recipe is from the Maseca brand bag of masa harina

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • scant 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil + more for pan
  • 3/4 cup milk
Maseca is a renown brand of masa harina, generally easily found. The cajeta we bought was the only one available at the only Latin grocery store in our city, I wouldn't know whether this is a comparably good brand - we thought it was tasty, though cajeta we bought while visiting Toronto was delicious, but I don't remember what brand it was. 
1. Sift together the harina, sugar and baking soda. 
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and oil. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir until there are no lumps. 
3. Heat a pan on medium heat and grease lightly with vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto pan. When bubbles appear on the top, flip and cook for about 1 minute more. 
4. Serve with sweet toppings!



You can find a slew of ideas to celebrate and explore Hispanic heritage at the Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop & Link Up

You can find more posts exploring culture, geography and history with kids at

You can find more pancake recipes on our page:



Fon Story Cloth from Benin | Make a Fon Story Cloth Craft {With Printable Template}


Our latest West African textile craft comes from the Republic of Benin: Fon appliqué story cloth.

The Fon kingdom of Dahomey began in the 17th century, and by the early 18th century reached the peak of their power and wealth through the slave trade. Introduced in the 17th century, appliqué cloths were commissioned by the Fon kings as royal cloths to express the power and authority of their kingdom. Colorful pictographs are cut from colorful fabric and appliquéd to a larger cloth, usually black. These cloths were used as wall hangings, banners, umbrellas and tents. The pictographs used were symbols depicting the kings - whether by representing a story extolling the might & character of the king, the means by which the prince ascended to the throne, or a piece of significant history that occurred during the king's reign. They were also made to commemorate victories in battles. You can see various examples of Fon appliqué story cloths here. In a culture where oral tradition is norm, these cloths are a great visual means of preserving history.

Adapted from CC photo by Lia

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our Weekend in a Nutshell

Can you believe there is 4 years difference between them? Elle is just growing up so fast!
This past weekend was our Thanksgiving weekend, and I admit to being grateful for an extra day off, nearly as much as family, friends, and the abundance in our lives. It was a wonderful, long, beautiful fall weekend filled with time together enjoying nature.


We have a series of must-dos in October but I was itching to try something new, and so we drove out a couple of hours to a ski resort that celebrates the season over the long weekend with chair lift rides up the top of the mountain. None of having ever made it past the kiddie hill on ski trips, the chair lift itself was a new experience - and I realized I may be developing a bit of a fear of heights! Once we reached the top, we had various ski routes back down to choose from for a gorgeous hike, with just the loveliest scenery. 


Elle and I spent more time in the woods, returning to a trail we especially enjoy. She had a great time climbing boulders, and it was lovely to see her coming out of her comfort zone and venturing out, off the beaten path, more than she is usually comfortable with. I always find that both of the girls open up more when spending time in nature, and this made for especially nice one on one time together. 


Our long weekend ended with the best of friends, much laughter, and over indulging in turkey dinner (and pie). Ok, perhaps my gratitude for my wonderful family and friends, those near and far, far exceeds the additional time away from work :)

 
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