4 Easy Origami Toys From 1 Piece of Paper

4 Simple Origami Toys from One Piece of Paper

Origami is both an exacting art and simple form of fun. As a child, we always had books on origami around the house and, even though we couldn’t read Japanese, we could follow the illustrated directions. The only origami I ever managed to memorize, however, is a crane.

Before our wedding, my family sat around a few nights before folding a couple hundred origami boxes.  We wanted to include the Canadian tradition of British wedding cake (a dense fruit cake), which we placed inside Japanese origami boxes on plates. We sat around folding paper, recalling stories, and singing songs all evening.

These origami toys are simple to make but full of fun. And you can make all of these from one piece of paper. For more fun you can use coloured paper, although construction paper is probably too thick.

These would make a perfect small gift for a child. For a younger child you can just make them, for an older child you could include instructions so that they can make their own as well (links to printable instructions linked at the bottom). These toys are quiet, require no batteries, and are soon ruined so no clutter.

This is also suitable for a child to make as gifts. The two older girls and I had a lot of fun folding all together.

Read More

November 17: The Velvet Revolution

Velvet Revolution

In Slovakia, the 17th of November commemorates the Velvet Revolution, the protests that eventually brought down the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. This year, 2014, celebrates 25 years.

In a very brief nutshell, after WWII it was stipulated in the constitution of Czechoslovakia that the Communist Party had to be the leading party in the government. Funny thing is, they still had elections. Everything was set up formally, with screens and ballot boxes. There was, however, only one option to vote. When my mother in law went to vote behind the screen, the officiator said, “Lady, where are you going?”

For 40 years the Communist Party governed with varying degrees of severity. In 1988 was the first mass demonstration in Bratislava against the Communist Regime since 1969 in Czechoslovakia called the Candle Demonstration.

On Nov. 16, 1989, encouraged by the success of Poland, Hungry, and East Germany, students in Bratislava organized a peaceful demonstration to commemorate Jan Opletal, a Czech student killed by the Nazis, and sent a delegation to the Slovak Minister of Education to discuss their issues. Though viewed as problematic by the Party, it ended peacefully.

On Nov. 17, students in Prague gathered to commemorate the death of students by the Nazis, and while they had permission to gather they did not disperse afterwards as ordered, but began to march towards the centre of the city about 15,000 strong. The police blocked off all the exits and began to beat them.

Read More

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut seems to be all the rage in healthy food circles recently. Fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotic and other benefits, as opposed to the canned vinegar variety which might taste alright but does not have the same health impact.

It’s easy to get excited about eating sauerkraut, but then when sometimes I’m at loss as to what to actually do with it. Just put in on the table in a dish for a condiment?

Yes, you can do that, but there are so many more options! Below are over 25 ideas and recipes for using sauerkraut. Some of the recipes may need some adjusting to fit your idea of healthy. Read More

Nuts in Honey: a handmade gift

Nuts in Honey sweet Christmas gift

When do you start getting ready for Christmas?

In general, I start thinking about gifts in September but then do nothing until the last ten days beforehand. I want to make all sorts of cutesy crafts with the kids and get into that holiday spirit, but we’re lucky if we get some paper snowflakes cut out and taped to the window. I plan handmade gifts for everyone I know, and then end up with none.

This year, I’m going to get it all done in a timely manner. And trim my expectations to be a little more realistic.

Now, however, is a good time to start thinking about handmade gifts. If you feel intimidated by the idea, it can actually be quite simple They don’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to be crafty. Read More

Glowing Cemeteries: November 1 & 2 in Slovakia (All Saints and All Souls Days)


All Saints and All Souls Day in Slovakia

The atmosphere is hushed, despite the number of people. Families walk slowly, stopping for a moment here or there with a candle or flowers. Candles and more candles flicker in the dark, illuminating a portion of chrysanthemums or the leaves on the tree above.

“May perpetual light shine upon them…” Prayers for the dead waft heavenward.

I’m in a cemetery. So are many others. Read More

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulash)

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulas)


Sometimes it’s easy to get enthusiastic about fermenting, and then not know what to do with the work of your hands.

“Yes! Probiotics are healthy! Let’s make super easy sauerkraut! Oh, wait…how am I going to eat all this?”

Fortunately vegetable ferments stay good for a long time. In the fridge, sauerkraut can keep for years even, although it will continue to sour.

I’ll have a post with more recipes for eating sauerkraut soon, right now I have a Slovak stew that uses sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in soups or stews was totally new to me when I came to Slovakia, but they quickly became some of my favourites.  Read More

Super Easy Sauerkraut

I’m a huge fan of fermenting foods, for probiotics benefits and more, but I’m an even bigger fan of healthy being simple and easy. This method of making sauerkraut utilizes time in place of work, making health and food preservation that much easier.

Lazy Sauerkraut

So, I totally and completely blew my 31 Days of Probiotics and Fermenting. It wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had more than 31 ideas of both information and recipes.

I was unrealistically enthusiastic. I forgot that I have kids, and that time management is still an area where I have room for much improvement. I still want to write on both topics though, so I’ll continue to update that page as an index.

Right now I have a recipe for super easy sauerkraut. If you have a food processor, you could even call it 5 min sauerkraut, because that’s about how much active time is involved. I don’t have a food processor, therefore cutting all those strands by hand takes a little more time (aren’t they lovely and thin strands?).

Read More

Sitting: The Silent Killer

sitting the silent killer

It sounds like an exaggeration, that sitting is killing us. But it’s true. Studies have demonstrated over and over again, that sitting is bad for our health, from increasing cardiovascular  disease to impairing the  utilization of fats properly.

From sitting, you say? Yes, it was surprising to me too.

And even if you get in your half hour (or more) of exercise a day, it doesn’t undo the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Read More

Giveaway, worldwide: win a cookbook of your choice

Cookbook Giveaway, open worldwide

Update: Congrats to Aaron, who requested The Edible Atlas: Around the World in Thirty Nine Cuisines. The book looks fascinating, it’s another I’ve added to the list.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen an amazing blog giveaway, and then was bummed that it was only available in the US, or US & Canada if someone was being generous. So I was determined to have a giveaway that was available to you no matter where you live, to say thanks.

And the Book Depository makes that really easy. Even though a certain other company seems to have the majority share on the online book market, it isn’t based in the country where I live, and the shipping cost of a book can be horrendous.

The Book Depository, on the other hand, includes the price of shipping in the price of the book, to 90 countries in the world. You don’t have to try to reach the maximum of a shipping weight category or ship to a friend to mail it to you, or think you’ve found a cheap book but get blindsided by shipping costs. Nope, the price that is quoted is the price that will get it to your door, almost wherever you live.

I know that ebook are popular and don’t take up paper resources or have shipping costs, but there is something I love about holding a real hard copy book in my hands. Maybe I’m old fashioned and nostalgic, but reading an ebook just doesn’t have the same satisfaction as reading a book that has pages.

And there are so many amazing cookbooks out there, full of nourishing recipes and beautiful photography. Some of the cookbooks on my radar include:

Read More

Bryndzove (or Feta) Cauliflower

Bryndza, a soft sheep cheese, is a traditional food in Slovakia. It tastes something like feta but is soft. Bryndzove halusky is the classic Slovak dish, little potato gnocchi smothered in byndza and bacon. This version simulates the taste for those who don’t have access to bryndza or don’t have the time to make potato gnocchi. 

Bryndzove (or Feta) Cauliflower

Ask any Slovak about traditional Slovak foods, and you’ll most likely hear about bryndzove halusky (halushky).

Halusky is usually translated as potato dumplings, but I’ve seen dumpling cover everything from bread-like blobs to Chinese wontons to Slovak potato drops, all exceedingly different.

Bryndza is a soft sheep cheese, tasting something akin to feta, salty and sharp. It’s used to make spreads for bread, fill perogies, or even make soup. It’s most common application is as a sauce over halusky.

Many brands mix sheep and cow milk to make bryndza, but some brands use only sheep milk, and a few even have raw sheep bryndza. To fit in with my probiotic and fermenting theme, bryndza is full of probiotics. There is a study examining which bacteria bryndza contains and their antimicrobial activity.

Read More

« Older Entries