Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Baking with Kids : Zucchini Quiche

Perhaps the best way to get kids to eat something they normally wouldn't is to hide that food into a dish that they would eat. One such example is hiding zucchini inside quiche. My kids love the savory dish in almost any combination and to be honest I bake a quiche every other week, making it one of my go to dishes. Of course it varies almost every time but I do have some favorite ingredients, zucchini being a recent addition to this list.

It is also very easy to involve kids in preparing this quiche. Mine love to chop mushrooms and zucchini with plastic knives, safe and useful. They help me by whisking eggs and creme and in the end mixing the ingredients and pouring in the mould. The boys feel useful, they see how the food is prepared and maybe they will eat it better because of the pride they feel in having cooked.

Enough about my kids, here is the recipe for this mouthwatering zucchini quiche.

Ingredients:
1 large zucchini
1 small onion
1 cup mushrooms
3-4 free range eggs
250 g sour creme
1 cup grated cheese
1 pack quiche dough  
salt, pepper, curry, etc
optional - cherry tomatoes, diced bacon

How to
Peel and grate the zucchini. If you have organic produce, you can keep the skin after you wash it. Chop the onion and throw it in a pan of hot oil, when the onion is translucent, throw in the zucchini. Stir. Wash and chop the mushrooms, throw them over the zucchini and onion. Stir some more, add salt, pepper, some curry if you want. The whole is done when the mix is no longer watery.



In a bowl, whisk 3 or 4 eggs, depending on egg size and the size of your baking mould. Add sour creme, grated cheese and the vegetable mix from the pan. Mix all together an pour over the quiche dough.
Bake for about 30 mins at 180C

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

How the Czechs Clear a Path

[EN]It's winter already nd sometimes, global warming aside, this means we will soon have to find our way through snow.


The following photos are not recent, they are in fact from last winter but they are a good example of how snow is delt with in a country used to the white powder. I want to see if they do the same good job this year (provided they will have enough material to work with) so consider these photos as comparison material.

[RO]E deja iarna și asta înseamnă, de multe ori, dacă lăsăm la o parte încălzirea globală, că în curând va trebui să ne facem cărare prin zăpadă.

Pozele nu sunt recente, de fapt sunt din iarna trecută dar sunt un exemplu bun despre cum se ocupă de zăpadă o țară obișnuită cu pudra albă. Vreau să văd dacă vor face treabă la fel de bună și iarna asta (dacă au și material cu care sa lucreze), așa că puteți să considerați pozele astea ca și material de comparație.
As you can see, there was quite a bit of snow but they chose to only clear a narrow path for people to walk on safely. I saw this in the whole neaighbourhood, in Pilsen but also in Prague. The rest of the snow was thrown over the grass.

The roads and cars are also taken care of. Once the snow stopped, people get the shovels and brushes and start clearing the snow from the cars, as you can see with the red car above, there is snow around but not on it. The roads are mantained by the city hall, but not completely cleared, just enough to be practicable. They come in with small snow ploughs and clean the roads and sidewalks.

După cum vedeți, căzuse destul de multă zăpadă dar au curațat doar o porțiune îngustă a aleii, pe care oamenii să meargă în siguranța. Am văzut același lucru prin tot cartierul, în Plzen dar și în Praga. Restul zăpezii a fost dispersat pe iarbă.

Străzile și mașinile sunt și ele ingrijite. Cum s-a oprit ninsoarea, oamenii iși scot lopețile și periile și curăța mașinile, cum se vede in cazul celei roșii de mai sus, rămâne zăpadă în jurul ei dar nu pe mașină. Străzile sunt întreținute de primării dar nu sunt complet curățate decăt cele principale, restul, răman practicabile. Se vine cu un plug mic și curăță străzile si trotuarele.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Czech Changing Tables

When I was a new mom, one of the things I struggled with is going out because I knew  that at some point I will have to change my baby. And I feared that moment. Luckily for me, I quickly found out that 1. I can change a baby on any flat, stable surface, provided I had a changing mat or towel or anything similar and the baby was in no danger of falling and 2. most public places in the Czech Republic have such a space, you just need to ask, sometimes it's just an Ikea changing table by the ladies' bathroom, other times it's a complete nursing space. This reminds me, they nixed the nursing chair in Ikea Zlicin.

In Romania, however, I haven't seen so many changing tables but tables are starting to turn and I saw at least two places with baby changing anemities when I was in Bucharest, last May. I don't need those anymore, my youngest is almost one and a half and I can change a number 1 with him standing and hopefully number 2 comes before we leave the house. Still, good to know for when the unexpected happens.

In writing this article, I was inspired by some of the blogs I read, written by moms like me and so I  took pictures of changing tables wherever I went.

At the swimming pool, in the women's locker room area. There are 3 such tables because they give swimming classes to babies and there is an area for kids. At the club where I go we just change them on the floor.


 In the restaurant of an ethno museum. This one is really complex, an overkill if you ask me (No one did, I am just posting this to the sky), would work great in a smaller flat perhaps, lots of storage space.

At the local mall. Nicely decorated, clean, modern. Sure makes shopping a nicer experience when you know you can spend as much time as you need in the shopping center.


If you have pictures of changing tables or nursery rooms in public spaces, please do share.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cum se Schimba Tevile in Cehia

Prin cartierul nostru se schimbă țevile de câțiva ani, stradă cu stradă. S-a început cu strada principală și se continuă cu străzile mici, una câte una, cam o stradă pe an. Au schimbat țevi de gaze și apa și canalizare acolo unde era nevoie. La fiecare stradă au lucrat câteva luni dar a fost mereu în extra sezon, adică primăvara-vară, când nu e nevoie de gaz pentru încălzire. Traficul in zonă a fost bineînțeles perturbat, problema cea mai mare a fost lipsa locurilor de parcare, oricum o problemă destul de mare în zonă. Și totuși nu a fost atât de rău pe cât mă așteptam.

Când au ajuns pe strada noastră m-am temut că vor distruge dalele de piatră care sunt doar aici, pe celelalte străzi sunt dale din acelea ca biscuiții. Surpriza plăcută a venit destul de rapid după începerea lucrărilor, au făcut multe găuri in trotuar și  pe stradă dar pe măsură ce terminau o porțiune a lucrării, acopereau o groapă. Iar supriza cea mai mare a fost că au păstrat dalele originale. Mai jos, poza înainte și după.



De când au început lucrările s-a comunicat prin afișe iar șeful de șantier a mers din ușă în ușă să discute despre când ne convine să se închidă gazele pentru racordarea fiecărei case. Per total, aș zice că cehii se ocupă foarte bine de șantiere, nu știu cât de bine e făcută lucrarea.

Bonus, băieții au putut să urmărească buldozere și excavatoare la lucru.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Weekend dedicat istoriei in Plzen

[RO] Weekendul respectiv a fost deja acum aproape o lună, dar eu am uitat sa postez. Oricum, orașul Plzen este mai mereu plin de evenimente variate pentru copiii și aduți. Evenimentul principal din weekendul dedicat istoriei, a fost cel legat de povestea orașului Plzen si de împaratul Rudolf al II-lea. Acest împarat este cunoscut mai ales pentru protecția oferită alchimiștilor și despre legenda uriașului Golem. Mai puțin cunoscută este legatura dintre împaratul Imperiului Roman și orașul berii: în secolul al XVIIlea, Plzen a fost capitala Imperiului timp de 9 luni, cand Rudolph și-a mutat întreaga curte aici. În fiecare an se organizează evenimente pentru a marca momentul și de multe ori se leagă de alte festivaluri sau expoziții cum ar fi weekendul gradinilor deschise, expoziția de cactuși, festivalul internațional de folcor sau noaptea bisericilor.

Noi am început weekendul de sâmbătă, vizitând gradina de meditație și memorialul victimelor răului. Îmi pare rau că am ratat noaptea bisericilor dar a fost vineri și eram prea obosită. În schimb gradina a fost o oază de liniște cu multe flori, foarte bine intreținută. Am măncat si frăguțe. Cred că vom mai veni, se poate vizita, costa 50 de coroane.


Revenind la weekendul istoric, pe scena principală, aflată în piața Republicii, au fost începănd cu vineri 9 iunie, mai multe spectacole legate de perioada secolului XVII, muzică, dans, teatru. Nouă ne-au plăcut cel mai mult acrobații vagabonzi și teatrul pentru copiii, chiar dacă nu avea nimic de-a face cu epoca.

Pe lângă acestea au fost alte evenimente cu sau fără legatură cu istoria orașului și un târg. Noi am mai fost și la festivalul internațional de folclor care se desfășoară in fiecare an în perioada asta. Am văzut trupe cehești, bretone și slovace. Mi-ar fi plăcut să vedem și ceilalți invitați, italieni și americani dar parcă au fost atât de multe evenimente și prea puțin timp.

Ce doi băieți ai noștri sunt interesați de tramvaie și cum istoria orașului este legată și de fabrica Skoda, am profitat de ocazia de a face un tur al centrului cu un tramvai vechi, construit în 1899. Cred ca ăsta a fost evenimentul principal pentru băieți, nu vânătoarea de comori prin centru, adaptata mai mult copiilor de școală.

Prin oraș s-au plimbat zombie si tot felul de fantome, a fost un concurs de costume infricoșătoare, asta ni s-a părtu ca nu prea avea legătură cu istoria dar nici o parte din celelalte evenimente și activități. Una peste alta, a fost un weekend în care nu puteai sta în casă. Și vremea a fost superbă.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Czech Living: When You Hear Wedding Bells

While commenting on some blogs I read, I started to think about how relaxed Czechs could be, compared to Romanians. The first wedding I attended here, I didn't know I was actually crashing it - I thought I was having a beer in a crowded pub, with my friends and someone's grandma. Didn't seem strange the only available tables were near the toilet nor did I wink when the cook offered free goulash.

Only later I noticed the girl in a vintage dress and the great grandma leaving the party early with some of her grand kids. And then I realized the cook was the best man and our waitress spoke French. She was the one to cue as into the subtleties of Czech wedding style. The girl in the dress? That was the bride.

Here, in Czechia, you invite your family and friends to attend the ceremony, usually in the town hall of your village or a nice baroque castle, sometimes in a church, baroque as well but not in both of these places, one ceremony is enough, either religious or civil, as long as there is someone licensed to officiate. After the pictures are taken, you and your better half take only the relatives closest to you and invite them for lunch. Meanwhile, I don't know what happens to the rest of your guests, but you can ask them once you met them later, perhaps in your favorite pub that you booked for some refreshments and partying.

And that's it. No fuss, no 200 guests and a band. I think the biggest part of the wedding budget is the photographer and the fee for renting the castle. Because there would be no Czech wedding without pictures in front of a castle. Preferably while the bride and groom clean up broken dishes. Or eat soup.
Picture from Girl in Czechland http://girlinczechland.com/2010/06/24/quiz-time-check-out-just-how-czech-youve-become/

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

DYI Paper Helicopter for Rainy Days with Kids

Are you inside on a rainy autumn day with nothing to do and an energetic child who  loves helicopters (and planes and trains and buses)?

Here's a tip for an activity you can do with him (or why not her?), old school or maybe Montessori: build something like a paper helicopter using sticks from ice creams you ate during summer and cardboard paper? Really easy,; I found this in a kid's magazine.


All you need is cardboard paper, 4 wooden sticks like the ones for ice creams (the "propellers" are from Magnum), glue, a cardboard tip from the separators inside the boxes in which eggs come in - goes under the propellers. My 3 year old was happy to cut, fold and crease (as instructed by me) and even happier to play with his new toy. There is room inside for a little toy friend.

PS. I also had a baby screaming for attention so I made a mistake and put the windscreen on the side - the green paper is rotated 90° - but I actually like it better this way, otherwise I would have had to paint a white square in front.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Homemade Kid's Play Kitchen

My 3 year-old loves to cook for us. Of course it's just make belief but he is learning a lot and I also get to see what he's picked up from us. I often cook with him around and I get him to help me either by peeling a carrot or stirring the eggs for an omelet. This way he feels useful, he learns new things and hopefully will get to appreciate the food.

Until recently he didn't have a play kitchen at  home, he just had fruits and vegetables he received at Christmas, the Ikea ones are really well made and some dishes made out of plastic food containers, his own invention. Once, he decided his oven was under the couch, another time he had an imaginary sink by the bar. I like his creativity and imagination so I was in no hurry to buy him a kitchen but he played with one at our friend's houses and in the play areas at restaurants.

The second reason I wasn't in a hurry to buy him a kid's kitchen is that those things are expensive! Most are branded and they sell them for a bucket of money which I don't think is fair. On top of it, many are just plastic and not very pretty in my eyes. Wood kitchens are even more expensive, even second hand ones. Again, Ikea have a nice one but do you do when the kid outgrows it? Ok, probably not happening soon.

I liked the idea of making the kitchen myself so I turned to the internet and found ideas for cardboard kitchens. You can buy the cardboard boxes with the cut outs and drawings from these guys KiddoBox Toys, thanks Miruna for the tip.

But still, the idea to make it for him with him was still there. So I started gathering boxes in the garage until the light came up in my head that my husband had this nightstand/cupboard he had bought for his dorm room which was now gathering dust with only a sweater in it. The end result is below:
























I scoured the cheap shops to find the bowl for the sink and the metal gas stove protection I used as a...gas stove, not that difficult to find. I wanted to put some sort of fake faucet but decided against it because he is using the screws and buttons from the wood workbench as buttons for the stove and faucet for the sink. I don't ask questions. it's like it is. The fruits and other produce stay in the cupboard and his mixer and laundry machine on the lower shelf. And voila! You might be asking why the wood tools there? I just needed a place to put them and this seemed perfect, out of the reach of a crawling little brother.

The young chef cut the double sided tape himself as I instructed him and we put everything the way he wanted it. I could've bought the cardboard kitchen, or the one from Ikea which has the added advantage of storage space but the excitement in the kid's face as he was sticking the sink bowl to his dad's old nightstand...priceless.

Tonight we had salmon soup with hot peppers, coconut and yogurt, all together. Yummy! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Getting All Dressed Up - Milotice Castle

In the heart of Slovacka area of the Czech Republic you can find the usual, the vineyards that go on for miles, the little houses that the winemakers use to produce and store the wine in and you can also find the less likely: a baroque castle with an immense collection of costumes you can try on.

This is Milotice Castle. When you walk in you are surrounded by these baroque statues of dimple cheeked angels and fat Madonnas. You won't expect to like the dress up but trust me, it's fun.

The Castle café is like going back to grandma's old house, lace, old pots and embroideries welcome you in this odd space that serves pretty much the same sweets and beverages you're used to, coffee, lemonade and cake. You'll realize by this occasion that the Saecher cake is just nothing much.


The light is a little off in this place, You'd think you stepped into another time. It gets even more weird when you get to the beautifully tended castle gardens and you notice what seems to be characters from a vampire movie, going around in broad day light, or maybe princes or characters from a play all dressed up in fancy costumes. It seems the big attraction in Milotice is not the baroque building or the statues, not even the garden but the collection of costumes. You can try one out and go take photos in the garden in your best Contessa dress. For 30 minutes only and for a little less than 10 €. But don't ask for a pirate or count Dracula, these are real imitations of real 


To visit the chateau, first take a look at thir webpage, they are open all year round www.zamekmilotice.cz. Also in the area are the better known castles Lednice and Valtice. If you feel like a change, you can go boating on the Bat'a Canal built by the famous shoemaker.

If you are in South Moravia for the wine, do stop by the castle at Milotice, there are wine cellars in the village you must stop to visit to have a taste of the best this region has to offer. We had a local prepare a wine tasting for us and I have to tell you, Moravians can make some excellent wines, the Palava is one you must try but also the more famous Tramin.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Firefighter birthday party

I recently threw a birthday party for a 3 year old, and yeah, it's been 3 years already, oh my god! Since he's already a big boy, I decided to give his party a theme. But which? There were plenty of choices, an abundance even, he doesn't watch tv but he has so ,any interests. I'll list them all to inspire you and maybe force me to come up with more posts.
  • Airplanes, helicopters and airports
  • Trains
  • anything green
  • the forest
  • the house and the garden
  • Building site and construction trucks
  • Trucks and cars
  • Fireengine
  • Ambulances and police cars
  • Cooking
  • Animals - around the house, in the forest, at the zoo
I chose of course to do a Firetuck/firefighter themed party, complete with a cake, decorations and games to match the style. You can check out my inspiration on the pinterest board I created about firefighter themed birthday parties.

The color scheme is red orange and yellow to represent the flames, I put them against the white backdrop of the table cloth. The blue ballons represent the water drops that quench the fire, very poetical, isn't it? I don't know what the green is for, but there had to be green ballons and the grass, he loves anything green (note for the future, start the theme from the kids favorite color not from the birthday present)



We did some craft sessions the week leading to the party, this is how we produced the flames on the table and posts, and the flames for the game.

The flames were made out of crepe paper following the instructions here. Really easy and the kid loved to cut the paper

We colored the cups using acrylic colors. I let him play with the paint and then did them all over again by placing my fist inside and just going left right with the brush strokes. The trick was to place the cups on the bottom, not upside down, if there are any drops they go down, so eventually it will look like flames going up, once you stack the cups. I used 10 styrofoam cups but really only needed 6. For the water, I gave them a beach handball ball because I had it around and it was blue and soft but you can paint blue a styrofoam ball used for flower decorations and reuse it afterwards.

I went online and printed some easy coloring pages involving firefighters, firetrucks, a flame, a cat, that sort of thing. Easy peasy, for 2-4 year old kids. You can find them on my pinterest page.

For the food, I cut veggies and fruit in the theme colors, I made pigs in a blanket and baked pommes noissette because they look like great balls of fire :)  I ordered pizza because it was too hot to bake some more and served beer for grown ups, apple juice and raspberry soda for the little guests.

The cake was made by my friend Ivana. I just showed her my ideas, either the firetruck like she had already done in the past or a layered cake and she chose the layered one because it was cooler. I think both are hard to make and admire her talent. This is her facebook page if you are in West Bohemia.

Since the kids had fun, I think I'll throw more themed birthday parties, I just need to find an excuse.


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