Process Over Product

 Sometimes I post about things you can make for children to create with on their own, like our play dough, sidewalk paint, baking clay, or even our much loved mud pie kitchen. Most of what I post about here, though, are coordinated crafts. That is not most of the art we do around here, however.

And it is certainly not the most important.

Day to day, I set my kids up with a requested medium, or introduce them to something new, and let them have at it.

It is far more important to let them explore...

Let them experience art, on their own terms...

...Than to try and get them to make something you envision. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy the crafts we do together, working with each other to achieve a preplanned goal. Those activities are important to us, too, but in an entirely different way.

I make materials available to them, and sometimes I may suggest a way they could use them, such as showing them how tissue paper will stick to wet paint, or bubble wrap will leave a print, but it is up to them. It should be up to them.

 Because the process is so much more important than the product.

 I don't usually post about their free form art activities, because... well, who really needs to be told how to let their children do what they wish with their art materials? You don't need a tutorial for that

 I did wish to let you know, though...

 About the most important art in our home.

Story Time!

The girls love before bed story time
and I think Tony and I enjoy story time with are girls just as much!
Here are some of their favorites...

I love that the girls like to read books with their parents lets hope it last for a long time!

Grandma Kelly's "Sees Fudge"

Grandma Kelly's See's Fudge

This, to me, is what fudge should be.  Deep chocolate flavor, smooth, sweet, with a few walnuts for contrasting texture and bitterness.  My Grandma Kelly knew how to make fudge, and thankfully, she passed the recipe along.  I don't think I've made this fudge since the 1990's though, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps Nanaimo Bars have taken their place in my repertoire.  It needs to make a comeback, and I think this Easter is the perfect time.  Easter happens to be the season that I associate most closely with fudge, not Christmas, because my mom would always include a Sees fudge egg in our Easter baskets.  Good times.
The fudge pictured above was made with Dove Dark Chocolate instead of chocolate chips.  And it is delicious.  Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of it without eating most of it myself.

Sees-Style Fudge
by Grandma Marian Kelly

  • 1 package chocolate chips (or 12 oz., roughly a bag and a third of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises chopped)
  • 1 stick butter, cut into about 8 chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 16 large marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Take an 8"x8" square pan and either butter it or line it with foil.
Place chocolate chips (Dove chunks), butter, and vanilla in a large heat-proof bowl.
In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, unsweetened chocolate, evaporated milk, and marshmallows to a boil & boil for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. (Be careful here.  Mine kept bubbling up like lava, splattering itself here an there on my stovetop.)
Pour cooked mixture over the chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla.  Stir until ingredients are melted together & have a dull appearance.
Add nuts & pour into prepared pan.  Smooth out the top with a silicone spatula.
Allow to cool and firm up before cutting.

Makes about 49 cubes

Dr. Seuss 3

i found this idea here and thought it would be fun to make these during our week.
we added them to our table and they look cute with the other decorations!

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

Drum roll please...I present to you the newest member of Aiden's ever growing stuffy collection...Robot:

Want to make a robot for your little person? It's really quite simple. All you need is some felt, embroidery thread, needles, scissors, cotton wool for stuffing and a pattern.

For Robot I extrapolated from a pattern for a mechanical felt panda that I found in The Cute Book by Aranzi Aronzo. I photocopied and enlarged the pattern, selected fabrics and thread, cut out my pieces, added a few pieces for the face and front panel and then sew sew sewed until Robot was complete. It was a fairly quick project; I made Robot over the course of five evening hour-long tv watching sessions. And the result - a happy little boy with a new robot friend!

Happy robot-making,
Creatively yours,
Maya :)

Iraqi Cardamom Cookies

Our February destination over at My Kitchen My World is Iraq and I made these delicious cookies as my Iraqi dish. I found the recipe here at, they are called Hadgi Badah.

Iraqi Cardamom Cookies (Hadgi Badah)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 1⁄3; cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups ground blanched almonds (about 10 oz.)
rose water (optional) or orange blossom water (optional)
6 dozen whole almonds (okay, the original recipe says it makes 72 cookies and that must be if you make them really small, I made them with about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dough and got 24 cookies, so only needed 24 whole almonds)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets with a light coating of cooking spray, oil or butter. I lined my sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it with baking spray.

Sift together the flour, cardamom, salt, and baking powder.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until light and creamy. Stir in the flour mixture, then the ground almonds. I ground my almonds in a food processor and used regular whole almonds.

Pinch off a small piece of dough and hand form into 1-inch balls, moistening your hands with rose water or orange blossom water, if desired. I sprayed my hands with baking spray to make the shaping easier.

Place on the prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly. Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie. I just brushed the tops lightly with the rose water and orange blossom water, I did 12 rose, 6 orange blossom, and 6 plain -- they were all delicious the waters added more of a scent than flavor.

Bake until lightly browned about 12 minutes. I had to bake mine for 14 minutes and used an insulated baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


These were delicious, especially if you are an almond fan. The cardamom is noticeable if you are "tasting" for it, but it is a pretty light flavor so I would double the cardamom for a real cardamom flavor punch if that is what you are going for.

I made these with my four year old who had fun putting the almonds on. These were really easy cookies to make. They were an after school snack for my older two and everyone loved these! Picky husband hasn't had one yet but I bet he will like them too. They are somewhat soft and chewy and have a delicious flavor.

I had to share this picture because it really makes me smile, such a goof ball my youngest is! Be sure to check out My Kitchen My World to see what other Iraqi dishes people picked to try, and feel free to join us on our culinary world tour :) -- our March destination is Finland!

Dr. Seuss 2

this little treat came from the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook. i check out this cookbook every year from my library... there are lots of fun recipes in it!
this will be our little snack this afternoon after nap and school. as a kid, wasn't it fun to have a surprise when you walked in the door? today, blueberry bumplings are their surprise!

Treasures and the Last Days of Summer

Once a year the local fire brigade has a big fundraiser.  The whole town gets together on this day to devour sausages, pop their children on deflating jumping castles, and most importantly, buy each others donated junk. SOOOOO much quality junk.  It's like a tiny  fair, with an auction and bits and pieces for sale. Delicious scones and jam, silent auctions of donated goods (we won some great wine), and did I mention quality junk?  The kids all bought a little something with their pocket money. I just love it. I was trying to be restrained this year but overdid it on the books. Who can resist fill a bag for $3? And 50cents for 80s records, treasure I tell you!

I now have a bulls head (fake) to go with the Queen of the Rancho (I know it's just a loan sister).  Who could resist? I also acquired some lovely porcelain Mexican items to put in my succulent collection. Are you seeing the quality?

The big Bowerbird mentioned she would like a desk for her room this week and voila, as I walked up to the Auction stand no one was bidding on this treasure. Sold to the ecstatic looking lady for $5. I love the auction, watching who will buy what, and wondering how much items will sell for. I could have bid a bit higher on that lovely door mirror, but there's always next year... 

The family laugh at my keenness to arrive early so as to nab the best bargains, poor dad is quickly placed on kid duty as I nudge my way into the crowds. I even left a guest with baby to arrive early, it was 10am and we did find her easily when she arrived later (yes I am feeling a little guilty). All those old wordly goods, I just love to look and wonder who owned them before. What stories they could tell. What they say about our town and its history.

All the kids got their faces painted, this is post long hot day but you get the idea. One cat, one owl and a monster.

 Then to cool off, a wicked water fight. Luckily I was holding the camera and hence untouchable.


 Then we sat with a beer on the verandah bathing in golden sunlight, watching the children slurp quickly melting icy poles.

A perfect day.