Tag Archives: children

Chocolate Hardware Tools and Book Signing in Brooklyn

Melissa Iwai 2016

Melissa Iwai 2016

Anne Rockwell, the author of Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, and I will be at BookCourt (163 Court St.) in Brooklyn tomorrow  (March 26) at 2 pm to read and sign books. I will also talk a bit about how I created the artwork for the story.

I also made a bunch of treats to bring to the event!

First up are dark chocolate and milk chocolate tools. I bought a cute tool mold here to make the candies. I melted chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (about 1.5 to 2 minutes). Mixed well to get rid of any lumps and poured into the molds.

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Getting the chocolate in the nooks and crannies takes a bit of time. You can nudge the chocolate with a spoon. Then, I wiped the edges clean with a damp paper towel and tapped the mold hard on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. I found the dark chocolate to be easier to work with. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. The milk chocolate took longer to harden. Also, I discovered that the longer you let the chocolate chill, the easier it is to remove.

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To do so, you just turn the mold over and gently press on the shapes. The chocolate should snap out in one piece.

Finished tools -- they are so shiny!

Finished tools — they are so shiny!

I wrapped the chocolates in foil, and then printed out my illustrations of tools from the book and affixed them to the wrapped chocolates.

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For the toolbox, I made gingerbread. I used the same recipe I used for my Haunted Gingerbread House and Magna Tiles, but made one and half batches. I was inspired by this blogger’s cute tool box, but I made my own template, and I used a breadstick instead of a straw for the handle.

The trick is to roll the dough out on the baking sheet on parchment.

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Then, using a template, score the dough gently with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes. While the dough is still warm, cut out the shapes. This ensures a sharp clean edge.

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Then I frosted the pieces using this recipe. I am not so great at frosting and made my flooding icing too thin. 😦 So my toolbox is not so pretty. But it holds my chocolates well. I made a divider out of card stock that is labelled “dark chocolate” and “milk chocolate” on each side so people can choose their favorites.

If you are in the Brooklyn area, please stop by and say “Hi” and grab a chocolate tool! 🙂

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Chocolate Candies

1 bag chocolate pieces

  1. Pour 5 oz. of chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave oven, checking the chocolate each time. You don’t want to overheat it. When it is smooth and silky when you stir it, stop heating. For dark chocolate it was about 90 seconds. For milk chocolate it was a little longer.
  3. Pour chocolate into candy molds. Be sure not to overfill. Nudge chocolate with a spoon or knife into nooks and crannies.
  4. Wipe around mold if you got chocolate in between shapes. Chocolate will come out easier if all the edges are clean. Tap mold hard several times on counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To remove, turn mold over and gently press on the bottom. Chocolate should pop out easily.
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Filed under Art Related, Children, Cookies, Desserts

Jamie’s Soup and My Society 6 Store

jamie'ssoup

I did a similar soup post way back when when I created this creamy green soup.  This one, however, is even easier, and I recently taught my ten year old to make it by himself!  It is his favorite soup these days, so I make it a lot. And now he can do the honors.  This is a good thing because I am so busy these days with MATS A and other work!

All you do is cut 2 large zucchini into slices.

cutting

Then you steam them in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes.

Place steamed zucchini into a Vitamix along with 2 cups of broth and season with some salt and pepper if you like.  Blend and serve!  If you want it warmer, just heat it a little for about 30 seconds.

Drinking the green yumminess!

Drinking the green yumminess!

This is what I did in my class last week– I designed a collection of ceramic plates:

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To read about the process, you can go here.  It was quite painful!  But all good. 🙂

Also, I just reopened my Society 6 store. I’ve been hesitant dipping my toes in the waters — I don’t know why….  But I made my first sale!  To myself!  ha ha.  I bought a pillow that has my bunny head design on it.  It is nothing really, but exciting to me, because it’s such a novelty for me!  There is a SALE in my store right now for $5 off everything plus FREE shipping until 11/9, so check it out!  🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.53.01 PMJamie’s Zucchini Soup

2 zucchini

2 cups of chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cut zucchini into slices.  Place in large bowl and cover with saran.  Microwave for about 5-7 minutes until soft (it depends on your oven).  Alternatively, you can steam in a steamer on the stove for 8-10 minutes.

2.  Blend cooked zucchini and broth and seasonings in a Vitamix or blender until smooth.

Makes about 4 large bowls of soup.

 

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Filed under Soup, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Brooklyn Children’s Museum Literacy Quilt Exhibit

Muriel's 2012 WOW Brooklyn quilt. My square is the girl in the center.

Last year I was invited to participate in a quilt project developed by Muriel Feldshuh.  Muriel is a wonderful literacy advocate. After “retiring” after 30+ years working as a librarian, she continues to be actively involved in the Books for Kids Foundation which promotes literacy among youths.  One of the organization’s projects is to launch children’s libraries in under served areas.

Photo credit: Sara Heidinger

Since 1997, Muriel has been inviting authors and illustrators to illustrate a square of the quilt, which she then pieces together by hand.  Her beautiful quilts are displayed all over the country.  I had participated in the past when she made her 2009 quilt and was happy to do it again last year when Soup Day came out.  I painted a version of my character reading instead of eating soup. 🙂

Check out the back of the postcard which has a list of all the participating artists:

I especially love the Ezra Jack Keats one from “A Letter to Amy” –such a wonderful book!
This Saturday (March 3, 2012) is the grand opening for the literacy quilt to be on display at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (145 Brooklyn Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11213).  I will be there along with other artists to read and talk to the children.  My scheduled slot is 12-1 pm.  I’ll be reading Soup Day and talking about how I created the artwork for the book.  I used all different types of materials, from painted paper, origami paper, cotton balls, photographs, to dried pasta and sequins to make my collages.  I then scanned them into the computer and cleaned them up and added details, such as falling snow, some shadows, a bit of frost on the window panes…

This is the original collage. The snow is made of paper towel and the girl's jacket is trimmed with cotton.

This is after I added snow, frost, and a tree in Adobe Photoshop.

At the museum, I’ll do a collage demo and help kids make their own collage creations there.

If you are in the area, please come by and join us and celebrate reading and books!  Also, please pass the information on to folks you think might be interested.  Thanks!

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Snowy Day Vegetable Soup

Winter.  Frigid mornings.  Snow piled up.  Dry skin.  It takes about ten minutes minimum for the three of us to get bundled up, don our jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, and finally step outside.  We are still in the thick of it too — the Weather Channel says it feels like 17 degrees outside right now.

My son was home all last week with a nasty ear infection.  To comfort him and get some nourishing goodness into his system, I made Snowy Day Vegetable Soup from my book, Soup Day.

This is the last page of the book -- the recipe.

It’s the perfect remedy for a cold, icky day, and my son loves it.  I added a bit of cooked chicken at the end from some added protein.  He’s all better this week, thankfully!

There are several bloggers out there who’ve made it with their kids.  It’s very simple and a good way to get some vegetables in your family’s diet.

Sales of  Soup Day are going pretty well.  It sold out of its first printing about a month and and a half after its release.  I am about halfway to meeting the required sales amount to get my sequel!  Please help me out and buy a copy for the budding little chef/chefs in your life!    (If you’ve already done that, tell your friends! 🙂  )

Yesterday,  I braved the cold and visited the same two Kindergarten classes at P.S. 142 I mentioned in a previous post, and read it to them.  Afterward, we did a soup bowl collage craft together.  They loved coloring, cutting and gluing their paper pieces of vegetables and dried pasta to their bowls.

Hard at work coloring vegetables...

Making soup...

One of the finished soup collages!

If you’d like to do this craft with your child, feel free to download the activity sheet off my website.  There is also a related Hidden Pictures puzzle there as well.

Enjoy! 🙂

Snowy Day Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup diced onion

½ cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

kosher salt to taste

6 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock

2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

½ cup carrots, sliced into rounds

2 cups zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 cup sliced mushrooms

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 oz. dried pasta of choice

¼ cup packed chopped parsley leaves

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat.  When oil is hot, add diced onions, carrots, celery and pinch of salt to pot.  Saute until onions are soft and translucent.
  2. Add stock.  Increase to high and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add potatoes, carrot rounds, zucchini and mushrooms to pot.  Add pepper, thyme, and salt to taste.  Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 15- 20 minutes.
  3. Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan.  Add a pinch of salt to water.  When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to an al dente doneness according to package instructions.  Drain and add to vegetable soup just before serving.
  4. Season to taste with salt and paper and garnish soup with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Note:  Please take care to keep children at a distance from burners on the stove.

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Filed under Art Related, chicken, Children, Soup, Vegetables

Gingerbread Castle

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas for those of you who celebrate!

We went to visit our family in Long Island for the holidays.  I always bring some goodies.  This year it was a  Gingerbread Castle which Jamie and I made and decorated beforehand, and assembled at my sister-in-law’s house.

The process was the same as when we made the Haunted Gingerbread House:

I made a pattern and printed it on card stock and cut it out.  Then I made gingerbread and cut out shapes using said pattern. We assembled it using royal icing as the “mortar” to hold the pieces together.  For the windows, we filled cut out holes with crushed Jolly Ranchers that melted into “glass” when baked.  The moat of the castle  was a giant gingerbread frame and filled with “water” made from Blue Raspberry and Green Apple flavored crushed Jolly Ranchers.

With the drawbridge up... Note the "swampy" water...

With the drawbridge down. "Chains" made from fruit leather.

Jamie decorated almost the entire castle by himself.

We used a happy colored “palette” (e.g. brightly colored jelly beans, candy coated chickpeas, licorice, candy covered chocolate, fruit jellies, and candy coated seashells) since it is a cheery holiday, rather than the muted dark palette we used for the Haunted House.

Instead of ghouls, Jamie  made a snowman out of fondant and decorated it with a food coloring pen.

Unlike the Haunted House, the Castle was picked at and eaten and demolished in a day and a half or so by a houseful of people, rather than our small family of three. 🙂
Hope everyone has a great last week of the year!

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Filed under Children, Cookies, Desserts

Fall Harvest Soup Revisted

Click to see larger version

Awhile ago I did a post on this yummy fall soup.  It’s great in winter too!
I recently redid the illustration which now appears on theydrawandcook.com which is a wonderful website devoted to delicious recipes and beautiful artwork!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

ooxx Melissa

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Filed under Art Related, Soup, Vegetables