Slovakia Day

Today turned out great. The Ps and I started out the morning making kolacky for breakfast. We used some blueberry jam that my mom and I had canned a couple years ago. They were amazing and are definitely something we will be making again and again. The Ps would not even wait until they were cool to start eating. They just picked around the edges until they could shove them in their mouths. As we all sat and eat we talked over what it is like in Slovakia and the Ps learned what landlocked means.

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After breakfast we were joined by Shari and started coloring flags and got the Jablkovy Kolac done.  That was sooooo good.

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This was followed by the arrival of Chris and Misti,  which is when things really started to get moving. Everyone colored a flag today. p even drew what looks like an amoeba on the back of hers. P, not to be outdone, decorated all around her flag. Please forgive the spots; someone splashed food on them.

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The next couple hours were a blur of cutting, mixing, boiling, and baking. Chuck found us a random Slovakia radio station which played – of all things – Coldplay.

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The food was wonderful and I would love to eat it all again and I think everyone else would agree.

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After lunch we pulled up Google maps and got to take a look into some of the cities and drive though the streets. The girls noticed that the cars seem smaller than here in the states and wondered if Chuck or Chris would be able to fit in them. They also really loved seeing some of the pictures that people had posted. P announced that it looks a lot like here.
I am happy to say today was a success. I am sad to say that we will not be doing another International day until after the holidays, but don’t worry. January comes fast and we have decided to do Japan to start off the new year.

Also, I am hoping to do posts about the days we did before we had started this blog. Oh, and December is a big cake month for me and Chuck has said he is going to do a post or two. So there will be posts going up. I know you were worried. :)

Menu for Slovakia Day

As always the wonderful world wide web has provided me with some wonderful blogs and websites to help me get recipes that I hope are a good representation of Slovakia. So next Saturday we will be eating.


Chream cheese kolacky

I am also hoping to find some Bryndza cheese for spending on bread. Maybe Wegmans has it.



vegetariansky Paprikas

Karboatky so syrom

stuffed tomato in bread crumbs


Jablkovy Kolac


Couple things I wanted to share

I am very excited about Halloween. We started working on Ps costume tonight. So far lots of boxes, duct tape and some red led lights. Anyone want to try and guess what my crazy 6 year old wants to be?

I also wanted to let everyone know that some of the things that we do for these International days stay with us. My kids will sometimes randomly tell people facts about places we have done. They will request to eat things we had on these days months later. One of these foods that have really stuck with me is the Labouyi Bannann (Plantain Porridge). I have been making a batch every couple weeks and then eating it for breakfast for the week.

California Day

A couple of people have asked why we do states as well as countries? The answer is that most states are the same size as a county and each state is very different. They have their own dialect, flag, culture, and food; and when families move from state to state, just like when they move from country to country, they keep these things and pass them on to their kids.

Take California, which we did today. I learned today that if California’s economic size were measured by itself compared to other countries, it would rank the 7th largest economy in the world.  We also learned a lot about grapes, wine, movies, and the gold rush. I also got to tell the kids about how my parents moved us to California when I was about p’s age to start a vineyard, but because of red tape and bugs we ended up living by the beach for a year and then moving back to the east coast.

We started the day a bit late with coloring flags.

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Then brunch, the girls tried grapefruit for the first time and really liked it.

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Because of some things going on this weekend, the menu got modified a bit. We cut the cobb salad and the rolls, but kept the rest.

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After Monte Cristo Sandwich, Avocado spread on Sourdough bread and raisins we drove some of the streets on Google maps and talked a bit about the climate and earthquakes. P was very interested in the plate tectonics. Uncle Chris and Chuck did a great job explaining it all to her.

Chuck and p spent the afternoon in true laid back California style.

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What state or country would you like to see us do next?

What happened to the rainbow pound cake?

I finally had time to do something with the the leftover pound cake from last week’s cake (besides taking it to work and letting my coworkers eat it). I mashed it all up and added a bit of butter and made a chocolate pie with a rainbow crust.


Plus I had enough leftover to make rainbow lemon bars. They did not hold together as well as I would like, but they were very good, and looked very cool.


California Day Prep/Menu

I got a bit delayed in setting up the menu for this coming Sunday, but tonight I forced myself to sit down and plan out what we are going to eat. I found a website that gave not only great recipes, but it also gave lots of history on how the food came about and why. We have had a very busy week and month so I tried to pick easier food but still stayed true to the state of California.


mixed Fruit and Raisins

The big meal:

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Avocado spread


Cobb Salad

California roll

I should also add that P’s big thing right now is that she loves sushi, and of course California rolls are her favorite. So I thought she would really love to get to make one herself.


Mia’s Birthday cake

This week my little sister turned 30, and I thought I would share the cake I made for her party. She requested a Rainbow Tie-Dye Surprise Cake that she had seen online. I did change a couple things though. I did not use box pound cake. It is not that I have anything against boxed cake, I just had never made a pound cake from scratch and wanted to give it a try. It turned out very yummy. I also made two cakes not one. I had to make one for each number you see. The kids loved helping me with the coloring the dough for the inside numbers cake.

kids mia's cake colors colors 1ready for the oven

I really loved how they looked when cut, and since you used cookie cuts to get the numbers I now have a very large tub of rainbow cake scrap that I will have to find a use for. I am thinking maybe rainbow pie crust? or rainbow cake balls? or rainbow bread pudding? or I could freeze them till needed? hmmm decisions decisions.

out of the oven filling

I decided since this is for a grown up and my sister loves animal print instead of rainbow fondant on top I would use one of the zebra print sugar sheets and a black swirl icing. I like the way it turned out, but I should have done a second layer of white icing. Unluckily, I can see cake in a couple places.

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All and all the cake was a big hit and the birthday girl really enjoyed it.


Oh, and it looked great when it was cut.

IMG_20140914_143302(1)I wanted to add a quick note that the original recipe is by a woman named Beth Jackson Klosterboer who runs a very cool blog with lots of fun recipes and ideas called Hungry Happenings.

Event review: TCEP 21

One of the things that we like to do as a family is play games. This can be a bit difficult when P wants to play a game and p wants to run across the room repeatedly yelling about how fast she is. It’s also somewhat difficult to decide which card to play or which move to make when being climbed on.

Enter: a family friendly event that’s fun for almost all ages.

Family playing a game

I won’t go into the history of the event that you can read for yourself at

The way that we have approached this event has been different for the last few years, depending on the needs of the small ones. Last year, we arranged child care and went as “adults”. This year, we decided to take everyone because of P’s interest in a few new games. She has surprised me with skills and strategy in a few of the games that we play with her.

Although the “convention” starts on the Friday before Labor Day, and ends on Monday afternoon, we decided to opt for the short version – arrive on Saturday and leave on Sunday. We have been attending these events for longer than I care to admit publicly, so we know many of the attendees and staff; and those that we don’t know are usually familiar faces.

For a laid-back event, there are many things to do. The group takes over three or four of the large meeting rooms in the hotel, and sets up open tables. We took a few of our games with us, mostly the games for the small ones. If there’s a game you’d like to play, sit down at a table and start setting up the cards or pieces. Odds are, someone walking through will either express interest in learning the game (or playing an old favorite), or negotiate with you to play something they’d like. “So you want to play Battle Cattle? How about you play a quick round of Grave Robbers from Outer Space with us first, then we’ll all play Battle Cattle?”

There are organized events that are scheduled; the annual charity poker tournament, the kid’s roleplaying adventure, and more (that you can find from the same link above). I tend to just join in when I see a game I like being played, or try to convince people to play something I haven’t been able to in a while. Many times, a game will end and continue into a long conversation about anything between old and new friends.

One of the bigger scheduled events is the LARP (Live Action Role Playing). While this phrase may make one think of the stereotypical pictures of nerds in wizard gear in a field, that’s not quite accurate for this.

This year’s LARP was written and produced (yes – it’s a *ton* of work) by a dedicated group. I was able to join the crew of The Starship Edsel while Amber played with and watched the girls. My character was Dr. Mallard Decoy, and I tried to figure out what was going on in the various plots in the game while meeting my own goals by having conversations with the other players. The end result is that everyone had a good time, I got dressed down by the ship’s Executive Officer before being stunned by a “Klingon” and finished the game unconscious on the Bridge.

There were more kids in attendance than I remember seeing in past years. I am pretty sure that ours were the youngest, but that did not stop us from having a few good games of “Skip-Bo Jr.” and “The Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Game

Family playing SkipBo

P got to join in a game of Telestrations and Tsuro with a group of older kids while p ran between us and ate snacks from the “convention suite” – a room where multiple fresh breads, snacks, and movies are available during the open hours of the event.

I could mention the Chaos Machine that has inspired P to try to build one out of stuff we have at the house, rather than to buy the Chaos Toy kit. I could mention the restaurants nearby (I liked Firehouse Subs). Or, I can suggest to anyone that finds this interesting to attend the event. There’s your sales pitch. I get nothing for it, except maybe some new people to play with or against.

ITALY May 28, 2012

The first international day that we did was Italy. I can’t believe it has been over 2 years since we started this. We will most likely have to redo it in the future for a couple reasons; we were still coming up with the outline of what we were starting, and we had the idea but had not really figured out the best way to execute it. Even now we are finding new resources and adding in new things to improve the international days. One of the things I decided when I came up with the idea was that we would not make any food we normally eat, and for the most part we have kept up with this. With some of the countries this can be a bit hard because everyone has favorite foods that come from other places. The countries we did in the beginning we focused a lot more on the food. Don’t get me wrong food is still a big part of the days, but we have continued to add in more and more. P had just turned 4 and p had only just turned 1. The food and music were enough to start at that age.

The menu for International day Italy was an Italian cod, spinach & ricotta patties, Italian bread pudding and Italian cream sodas. None of the food came out right, except the cod which was pretty good. The patties did not hold up well to boiling, but they tasted ok. The pudding just did not set and had orange peels all though it that even with all the cooking seemed raw. To top it off, I grabbed tonic water instead of club soda making the normally very yummy cream sodas just gross. I think P face below says it all.

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While the food cooked we all colored flags and I read off a few facts I had found online. I love the picture below of p and Chuck.

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The next hiccup was the music. Chuck started playing a station streaming from Italy. Did you know they like nickelback? After a couple more stations we found one in Italian and enjoyed – well the cod at least – while we listened. Chuck had the great idea to drive the streets on Google maps and see what some of things that were different.

564279_4097851331580_451978620_n Mostly cars of course. Him and P are great lovers of cars.

So needless to say it was a rough start but we kept with it and now things run a lot smoother. Not prefect but better and everyone seems to have a ton of fun.

Keep an eye out later this week for a post from Chuck telling you all about our favorite gaming con.

Turkey Hill Experience

I found out about The Turkey Hill Experience surfing the web trying to find fun things for our stay vacation. I thought it would be a factory tour type of thing. I was pleasantly wrong. There are some cams set up in the factory you can watch live but the real factory is 6 miles away. Good! This way no one can sneeze in the ice cream.

I really enjoyed this place. The staff was very friendly and really seem to enjoy what they were doing and interacting with the kids. We did the Experience plus the taste lab. Which cost$46.05 for 2 adults, one Junior, and one under 4. Not bad if you ask me, lunch can be more then that for the 4 of us depending on the restaurant. The taste lab is very cool everyone gets a pint of plain ice cream then you add one of the 15 flavors, some mix ins, and lastly a swirl of some kind. They encourage you to keep trying it to make sure it is right, of course. Then they put it in the deep freezer for 10 minutes, and to entertain you while you wait they give you a presentation on how all of this is done in the factory, which I found very interesting and the kids sat though very well. At the end of 10 minutes they give you the now hard ice cream and a spoon and send you on your way.

p making ic 2 p making icAs you can see, the kids loved it and so did Chuck and I.

The experience starts out with 2 fake cows you can milk. Don’t worry, it is just water.milking

There is also a truck the kids can climb on and pretend how to drive. Next up are the 2 tasting areas; one for ice cream and one for tea, lemonade and coffee. I did not know they made iced coffee and wow was it good. After this there is a very short film, and then you start the process of designing your own virtual ice cream, container, and then commercial . The girls were both very cute, but Chuck’s ice cream commercial was the best. If you listen you can hear me creaking up in the background. They also have a bunch of different things that teach about making ice cream but are really fun for the kids; a ball pit, a few computer games, and even a few matching challenges.

There are a few things to note. Go early, it got very busy around when we left. This is geared to kids, keep that in mind. That pint of ice cream is not going home with you. They will give you a lid but it will melt before you leave. This place is out in the boondocks.

All of this said the kids and us enjoyed this much more than I thought we would. If you go please share with us what flavor you make. :)