Barbapapa are one of my favorite childhood characters. This family of lovable blobs are shape shifters and can take the form of anything! I still have many of my favorite Barbapapa books in both English and French. My monkeys love the Barbapapa too although they have never seen the shows which I watched as a child in Toronto.

There is Barbapapa, Barbamaman and seven Barbababies:

Barbazoo (Barbidou in French) is yellow and he loves animals and often takes on the shape of animals. Barbalala, is green and she loves music and playing or taking the shape of musical instruments. Barbalib (Barbotine) wears eyeglasses and is an orange book worm who loves books and can often be found carrying a book around.
Barbabeau (Barbouille) is black- like his mom and the only furry Barbababy he loves art is wears a beret. Barbabelle was my favorite as a girl, she is purple, known for her beauty and a real Lady Of The Arts. Barbabright (Barbidul) is the science guy and blue in color- my younger monkey really likes him. Finally, Barbabravo (Barbidur) is the macho red guy who is representative of strength and honor.

My favorite episode EVER was the one where they made/created their house. I loved how they worked together and I thought their round bubble like structure was the coolest thing ever. (I was not able to embed the actual episode for copyright but here is another one- and you can look up 'house making' on YouTube to see my favorite episode- it is in French).

I’m pretty sure that this show was more popular in Europe than in North America. Most of my Canadian friends grew up with the books and TV show but I have yet to meet an American who knows about it.

When Dr.J and I were in Vienna I found this Tee-shirt in a wicked shop and it is my new favorite.

Do you know Barbapapa?


Zombie Spray

My monkeys have always been afraid of loud noises, the dark, medical textbook photos and zombies.

We have friends in Toronto who whenever we would go to their house to watch sports games L's yelling would make my kids cry.  They both like to sleep respectively with their closet and bathroom lights on.  Dr. J started medical school when our oldest was already born so medical school and textbooks were something that my monkeys grew up with- needless to say they are repulsed by many of the textbook images they have been subjected to seeing- mostly because of their own insatiable curiosity.  Finally zombies- It was an episode of Scooby Doo that I myself remember watching as a child that has resulted in years of fear of zombies.

I recently had my monkeys read this spoof on Preparedness in case of a Zombie Apocalypse-
Not sure if it helped but it sure is funny.

The only thing that has helped with the zombie situation is Zombie Spray- It is easy to make.

To Make Zombie Spray: 
One recycled spray bottle- well rinsed/cleaned- 
I used an old Downy Wrinkle Spray bottle as it is not overly chemically.
Decorate with stickers- markers- whatever. 
We have a Love The Love bumper sticker from a Phish show.
Filtered water
A few drops of a comforting scent IE: vanilla, lavender, mom's perfume etc.
Mix together
Spray every night around room, closet, bed, bathroom- keep within arms reach. 

What were you scared of as a kid?
What are your monkeys scared of? 


Garlic Soup

I am a garlic lover.
In my post a few days ago I wrote about how we ate garlic soup while in the Czech Republic.
My friend Jana from Prague sent me a recipe and we tried it this afternoon- Delicious!

In her own words:

1 large potato, 1 vegetable broth (we buy it in small cubes, dried), spicy sausage (some don't put it in, depends on your taste), 7 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon of coarse flour (or whatever you find, but the principle is the bigger the grains the better), 1 teaspoon butter, salt, pepper1 small green leek (or green onion), 
½ teaspoon marjoram, Edam cheese (or other cheese, white, hard - grated into the soup at the final stage)

Into about 1 liter of the vegetable broth add diced potatoes and pepper
and cook about 15 minutes. Mix in the flour, add crushed 
garlic (if you don't have the garlic crasher, crash it with the flat side of the knife and then chop the finest possible. The crashing yields more taste and aroma than just chopping finely),butter, finely diced sausage (optional), ½ teaspoon marjoram and simmer briefly. 
Season to taste with salt, pepper and green leek. On the plate we put a heaping tablespoon of grated Edam cheese and pour hot soup and serve with toasted bread crumbs (croutons). 

The variations I made were: I did not add sausage or marjoram.  I used organic chicken broth.  The cheese I used was Romano and I gave it a quick blend with the hand-held blender (magic wand) after the second simmer.  I also used leeks. 
Next time I'm going to make my own croutons.

Three out of four people in my house said yum-
The other one made his own muffins and wouldn't try the soup.

Have you made Garlic Soup before?


Mumford And Sons

A mix of Indie and Folk rock- this British quartet plays using guitar, dobro, mandolin, drums, keyboard, accordion and banjo.
Their vocals are soulful and make me melt.  They started out in 2007 making the local performance circuit in the UK.  This year (2011) they played with Bob Dylan and The Avett Brothers at the Grammy's.
I can't get enough of their contagious joy- especially in their live performances.

Dr. J promised to learn how to play a guitar with open tuning so that he can learn to play this song for me-


Biking In The Czech Republic

I have not been 'biking' for about ten years, not counting taking a beach cruiser down to- the beach. 
When Dr. J and I were in Brno, Czech Republic, we went biking with our host family as a day trip.  
I was particularly nervous as I probably had the least experience out of anyone in our group of eight adults (Dr. J is one of those maddening people who is good at EVERYTHING).  

We drove up to the mountains to a town called Zdar nad Sazavou
Which is surrounded by National Forests

The views were stunning and riding down paths in ancient forests was magical.  

We were right on the border between Moravia and Bohemia. 

We stopped for lunch in a village called: Radostin
And ate at this 'Restaurant'
The food was AMAZING!
Broccoli, potatoes done only the way the Czech can- and preserved cabbage salad

Goulash! Served with potato pancakes.

Called 'Dumplings' this was a loaf like dumpling served with a dill gravy
Garlic soup is a popular dish which we enjoyed several times on our trip-
I would love a homemade recipe so if you know one please share!
Peaches and cream
Ice cream! 

The forest was amazing- 
I felt as if I was inhaling the purest air possible
The weather was perfect

 I am so grateful for this experience.


A Kitchen Gadget You Don't Need But Is Super Cool To Have

When we were in Austria our host showed us this gadget:

And then he made us this:
He called it apple butter
We also had espresso with a little grated cardamon

He gifted us one and we brought it home for the monkeys:

It peels, cores AND spiral cuts apples:

I'm super excited about making dried apple rings this summer using the desert heat! 


Press Here By Herve Tullet

Press Here by Herve Tullet is an interactive book which expands on the readers imagination.  Read, not unlike a video game is played, this book consists of an unseen narrator giving commands in order to create a kinetic reading experience.  
The book begins with the narrator instructing the reader to ‘Press Here’ on a yellow dot.  Once you press the dot more dots appear.  The narrator continues to instruct the reader to rub the dot, turn the page, shake the page- the reader can even control changing the color of the dots and turning the lights off... in ones imagination.

I am raising my monkeys in an age where they don’t know life before the internet.  Not long ago my younger monkey asked me if I used Wikipedia, when I was young, to find out what the “biggest or most poisonous” thing was.  I explained to him that because I was a little girl the “biggest or most poisonous” was of no interest to me and that I didn’t start using the internet until I was in grade six.  He looked at me as if I had an extra head.  My older monkey would play video games all day if we let him.  We don’t- he usually only plays on weekends and even then it is limited.  

Based on the amount of words per page this book gives the impression that it is intended for a younger audience.  However, both my tech-savvy, internet dependent and video game obsessed, elementary age monkeys are reading it over and over, while going through the motions AND they love it.  
This is the type of book that will put a smile on your face and I feel intended for ages 1-100.

Press Here is currently number seven on the
NYT Children's Best Seller List

Have you read this book?


Giveaway Winner For The Fox Diaries By Valarie Budayr

Thank you so much to everyone for entering the Giveaway for Valerie's new book:

The Fox Diaries: The Year The Foxes Came To Our Garden
This touching tale of the intimate daily rhythms of a family of foxes is sure to warm your heart.

Selected by random generator the winner is:
Congrats Taryn!

Valerie has been kind enough to extend the winnings to everyone-
To purchase a copy of The Fox Diaries with 15% off 
enter the coupon code:
at check out

To see my original posting about this book click


No Knead Artichoke Bread

It's artichoke season. 
We usually eat it two ways- simply steamed and then dipped in a vinaigrette or baked with a bread crumb, Parmesan cheese crust.
This year I tried something new- No Knead Artichoke Bread.
I used my regular No Knead Bread recipe but instead of water I used the dark green water that was left over after steaming the artichokes and I tossed in some cut up artichoke hearts while mixing all the other ingredients together-

To watch my You Tube- How to make no knead bread video- and 'meet' me, click


Culinary Art In Baden, Austria

You may remember the post I wrote last week about the Health Resort Dr J and I went to in Baden, Austria (it was lost for a few days when Blogger was down and I never did get the comments restored).

  We had a lovely meal in the town square.
I had a hearty Austrian soup with espresso and Dr J had a pretzel with sausages and a beer.
Everything tasted very homemade and the view was perfect.

I love it when restaurant food tastes homemade

Don't forget to enter my:


The Fox Diaries By Valarie Budayr- A Giveaway!

It has been around two years since I discovered Valarie's blog A Place Like This… and always enjoy her variety of subjects.  On any given day there will be beautiful photographs of nature, travel, food, craft projects as well as friends and family.  A Place Like This… exudes warmth, love and a genuine pleasure in the details of family life.  
I was intrigued when Valarie started writing posts about a Momma fox and her family of kits who frolicked in her yard.  I found myself drawn to the rhythms of their daily adventures.  

Not unlike the observations that Jane Goodall recorded with her chimpanzees, Valarie intimately observed the interactions between the Momma fox and her four kits.  

In Valarie's words: It was purely a magical time. I couldn't believe she came to my house and I was able to stop my life and just sit and watch. Momma Rennie included me into her world.

I was so excited for Valarie when she shared with me that she had taken her beautiful photographs and daily recording of the foxes lives and made them into a beautiful book titled:
The Fox Diaries: The Year The Foxes Came To Our Garden:

This book is special.  It captures the magic of these animals and gives us an intimate look at how foxes learn to hunt, dig and work as a team- through play and gentle encouragement from their loving and stoic Momma.  Furthermore, the book includes information which facilitates educational discussion with my monkeys and even taught Dr. J and I some interesting facts about foxes.  This book encompasses two important aspects of reading: enchantment and education. It reinforces the rhythms of life and nature and personifies these often elusive animals.

The book is described on the publishers website Audrey Press as:
From forest to front yard, have a rare glimpse into the private lives of a momma fox and her four baby kits. Watch in awe as these baby foxes learn to navigate this wild and wonderful world, discovering equally its danger and treasures. Come and meet Momma Rennie and her little fox family and share with them this magical journey called life.

Valarie has generously offered to host a giveaway for one of my readers to win a copy of The Fox Diaries.  
To enter please leave a comment below before next Monday 

(May 23rd)

I will announce the winner one week from today!


Share The Love

Monkey Number Two helped me chose three winners this morning- Thanks to everyone who commented. Share the love:

Bruce of Bruces Kitchen is a passionate photographer who specializes in portrait, nature and documentary photography. He is a published writer and art consultant as well as gourmet cook. I love stopping by Bruce's blog because he always has inspirational dishes that he cooks for his wife and family.  Bruce is the type of blog friend you 'meet' and you wish you could invite for dinner (or perhaps be invited for dinner!)
I credit Bruce for inspiring me to get into the No-Knead Bread movement.  See his No Knead Bread.

Get Real Mama is a California mom of two boys with a third about to pop out any day now (but who is counting right?!) She writes hilarious observations of daily life as a working mother and wife.  She is an unapologetic, self described, mac and cheese mama who occasionally makes McDonald runs.  Her blog can only get funnier as she adds another monkey to the mix.  Last week on Mother's day she wrote a letter to her boys about what they put her through on their weekend family 'vaccation'.  Inundated with the classic 'Jewish Mother Guilt' of 'you owe me'- You are sure to laugh your butt off.

Pet of Pencil and Box is a blogger from San Sebastian, Spain.  He posts about art, books, films, food, travel and other creative things.  When we first discovered each other it was a pleasant surprise that we shared so many common interests.  In fact we are constantly sending each other links of post we've written that are similar to each others IE: same book, similar artist.

I hope you get a chance to check out these great blogs and continue to Share The Love! 
Happy Sunday!


Share The Love-

Leave a comment here to join: Share The Love

If your blog is one of three chosen by random generator: 

I will visit, follow (if I don’t already) and give a shout out, with Link Love tomorrow- 

Comments close when I go to bed tonight.
Post will be up tomorrow (Sunday).

True Love if you tweet this- I'm ByLadyRen
Love The Love


Film: Dogtooth

What a weird film.  Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos this 2009, Greek film left both Dr. J and I with an unsettling feeling.  It is the story of three adult children living behind a high walled compound.  During the course of the film the father is the only one who leaves the property.  The ‘children’ are told that evil ‘cats’ live beyond the compound walls and that children are old enough to leave their parents home once they have lost their ‘dogtooth’.  The children are taught the incorrect meanings of words- for example they are told ‘sea’ means ‘chair’; ‘zombie’ means ‘small yellow flower’ and that ‘phone’ is a saltshaker.  There is never any explanation as to why the parents, seemingly well educated, well spoken and well-to-do people; choose to teach their children these fabricated definitions of words.  Ultimately the use of improper words serves as a tool to further remove the children from the ‘real world’ because what they question, seems incompatible with their understanding.    
There is a huge degree of control on the part of the parents.  Nothing is ever given as an explanation as to ‘why’ they have built this sheltered existence for their offspring and ‘why’ they cripple their children by telling them such offbeat lies such as ‘the mother will be giving birth to twins and a dog’.  The myths they are fed conceivably continue to make the children further dependent on their parents. 
The ‘children’ live a seemingly idyllic life which includes swimming, games and watching home videos of themselves.  The NYT review stated that the: three [children] wander about in their underwear, speak in monotones and seem perpetually on the verge of either incest or fratricide or both.   

Have you seen this film? 
If yes, why do you think the parents created this world and what do you think it is a commentary on? 


Romertherme- Baden, Austria- Sulpher Bath, Mineral Springs

Baden is a small spa and wine town about an hours train ride away from Vienna.
Dr J and I spent a glorious day at the Romertherme 'Health Resort' which features one of the most beautiful sauna and bathing landscapes- under the largest, freely suspended, glass roof in Europe. Apparently this spa was a favorite of the composer Beethoven's- I don't think the glass roof was around then!

The Schwefelwandl (small sulphured water baths) are in the 'open air' area.
We had the good fortune of enjoying beautiful warm weather while we relaxed.
This main large pool was connected via separate water 'tunnels' to the outside sulfur baths that were kept at around 36c and had massage like waterfalls.

The outside sulfur pool area had lounge chairs:

There was even a restaurant with cafeteria style health food:

Dr. J and I bought the 'all inclusive' pass which gave us access to the Sauna and Steam Bath area.
There were two Finnish saunas, two aroma stream baths, a bio sauna and an Ottoman steam bath.
Most of these were co-ed naked.
They actually had signs (wish I got a photo) of male/female swimsuit with a big 'X' across them.
We hung out most often in the eucalyptus aroma steam room when we were not in the sulfur baths and it was fantastic.
I must say the European spas are very different from North American Spas!

Have you ever been in a mineral or sulfur bath? 

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