Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's a serious matter

In continuation with my last post I thought I might jot down a few recurring facts I have observed with my family-in-law who visited us last week and that define a typical Southern Italian famiglia:

First and foremost: food is taken very seriously!
- Meatballs and spaghetti DON'T go together! This is a purely American invention.
- Always have fresh coffee boiling on the stove. Grazie mille for inventing Nespresso!
- Make sure you plan your meals ahead, preferably at breakfast or even better the night before during dinner.
- Have at least five different kinds of pasta stocked in the larder. Every pasta has its own sauce to go with it! No, spaghetti still doesn't go with meatballs.
- Be prepared to spend long hours at table.
- When you're NOT eating, be prepared talk about food all the time!
- Fuss over the bambini. 
- Make sure they get enough food. Follow them around the house with the plate - if need be - to make sure they eat enough.
- Prepare the fruit before your meal and stock it in the fridge to serve chilled.
- Stock up on wine and mineral water. Lots of it!

In general:
- Don't plan, improvise!
- Don't improvise when it comes to food, it's a serious matter.
- Forget about any kind of timing. "Andamento lento" is the rule. What are 15 minutes in a lifetime?
- Talk alot and laugh out loud!
- Skip museums and similar visits, food market so much more interesting!!!
- Invite friends over: the more the merrier.

As a general guideline: be nice to people and welcome friends anytime of the day. Even if they are friends of friends, friends of the family or family of friends. Where there is food for 10 there's food for 11.

I've gotta run now, my familgia is sitting downstairs like a pride of lions waiting for their next meal!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

10 things Italian children learn at the table

The dining table is the most important piece of furniture in Italian houses. Italian familiy relationships are forged “a tavola” and children learn very soon how they should behave.

 1.) SI MANGIA TUTTI INSIEME - WE EAT ALL TOGETHER
Italian children are treated as young adults. Adults and kids eat all together. Parents help their kids to eat only until they learn to hold a fork. Then they join the family at the table at the same time.

2.) MANGIAMO LE STESSE COSE - WE EAT THE SAME THINGS
As soon as children don’t need help with the fork, they eat exactly what adults have on the plate. They eat smaller portions of course, but learn to taste different foods very early.

3.) È PRONTO! - IT’S READY
When mom or dad say “è pronto”, kids must join immediately the family at the table. If they don’t, parents or older brothers go and pick them up. No excuses.

4.) AIUTAMI A PREPARARE IL TAVOLO - HELP ME TO SET THE TABLE
It’s like a game. When mamma (nowadays also papà) asks for some help for setting the table, children put la tovaglia, the table cloth (there’s no Italian table without table cloth!) i tovaglioli (napkins), i piatti (plates) and le posate (fork and knife).

5.) USA FORCHETTA E COLTELLO - USE FORK AND KNIFE
It is amazing to see how Italian children learn to use fork and knife so early. Of course, they start using safe knives. A fork is as dangerous as a knife, the soonest children learn to use knives properly, the better for them.

6.) PER FAVORE, GRAZIE E PREGO - PLEASE, THANKS AND YOU ARE WELCOME
Please, thanks and you are welcome, per favore, grazie e prego are words children learn at the table when they ask for more food, for water or salt.

7.) NIENTE COCA COLA - NO COKE, WE DRINK WATER
Soft drinks in Italy are not as common as they are in the US. Italians usually drink water. Coca Cola is allowed in pizzeria or in special occasions.

8.) FACCIAMO GLI GNOCCHI? - LET’S MAKE GNOCCHI TOGETHER
There are positive side effects coming from this terrible economic crisis. Italian people are starting again to make their own food with basic ingredients, and ask grandma and grandpa how to prepare proper food. It’s cheaper and better. Just like 40 years ago, children learn how to make bread, pizza, gnocchi and pasta with mom and dad.

9.) NON LO MANGI OGGI, LO MANGI DOMANI - YOU DON’T EAT IT TODAY, YOU EAT IT TOMORROW
Italian parents used to be quite strict with bambini capricciosi, naughty children. Whenever kids refused to eat things they didn’t like, mamma put the same thing on the plate the day after. Nowadays parents are softer, but this rule still exists in some families.

10.) NON SI MANGIA FUORI DAI PASTI - DON’T EAT AT STRANGE HOURS. RESPECT LUNCH AND SUPPER TIME
Merenda is the Italian word for the afternoon snack. Fruit, a small pizza (pizzetta), focaccia (soft bread with salt and olive oil) or a panino with salame or prosciutto (Italian sandwich) are common. That’s the only food they are allowed to eat outside regular meals.  Before lunch (pranzo) and after supper (cena) the fridge (frigorifero) is off limits.



Around the World in 25 Children’s Books

Imagine taking your kids on a world tour without ever leaving the house. That’s the idea behind Spin the Globe: The Incredible Adventures of Frederick von Wigglebottom, a new travel-themed children’s book series. Learn the story behind author Edward Moldenhauer’s novel idea, plus get our picks for other great books that help kids explore the world.

1.) SPIN THE GLOBE: THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF FREDERICK VON WIGGLEBOTTOM

The Spin the Globe series came from just that—spinning the globe. When author Edward Moldenhauer realized he needed fresh ideas for his kids’ bedtime stories, he had them point to a random place on the globe; wherever their fingers landed became the setting for his next tale. “One night would be about climate, the next would be about animals,” Moldenhauer explains. “My wife said to capture those moments before they were lost.” And thus The Incredible Adventures of Frederick von Wigglebottom was born.

2.) DREAMTIME IN ALICE SPRINGS
Alice Springs, Australia

Frederick von Wigglebottom’s first adventure takes us to Alice Springs, a town in central Australia with heavy Aboriginal influences. “I tried to pick cities that are less well known, but big enough to have culture and unique characteristics,” Moldenhauer says. His geographical experience as a military intelligence agent—paired with extensive research about the sites—provides the factual base for each Spin the Globe story.

3.) FJORDS, VIKINGS AND REINDEER
Trondheim, Norway

Mr. von Wigglebottom visits Norway on his next journey, learning about Viking heritage and Scandinavian history. Frederick always makes new friends on his trips, this time a pair of children named Nikolina and Erik (a sweet homage to Moldenhauer’s own kids, Nicole and Eric). Each book in the series features colorful illustrations, conversational prose, and a glossary of terms in the back, making Spin the Globe great for children—and parents—of all ages.

4.) THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET
Paris, France

What’s not to love in a story about a 12-year-old boy living within the walls of a train station? But the award-winning illustrations are the real reason to pick up Brian Selznick’s creation: the book features more than 300 pages of pencil drawings depicting Parisian life in the 1930s.


5.) MADELINE
Paris, France

We’d be remiss not to mention the other essential Paris-themed children’s book: Madeline. Whether readers are watching her visit tigers at the zoo or get her appendix removed, no one will ever forget the smallest of the 12 girls in two straight lines.


6.) ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Prince Edward Island, Canada

Anne Shirley gives us the most idealistic version of Prince Edward Island possible, transforming the locale into its own magical character. Any kid will be begging to visit Canada after hearing about “The Lake of Shining Waters” and “White Way of Delight.”

7.) MONSOON
Delhi, India

Monsoon depicts one girl’s thoughts and actions as she waits for India’s rainy season to begin. Through poetic language and dreamlike illustrations, author Uma Krishnaswami offers a sensory portrait of life in Delhi—the temple bells, oppressive heat, and hustle and bustle of the busy city streets.

8.) STREGA NONA
Calabria, Italy

Strega Nona is one of the most popular Italian stories for children—and not just because it features infinite amounts of spaghetti. Tomie dePaola’s classic book may be fantastical, but it also wonderfully showcases the terrain, wavy roof tiles, and food of southern Italy.


9.) WABI SABI
Kyoto, Japan

Wabi Sabi is a kitten living a peaceful life in Japan, until she starts to question the meaning behind her name. When her master can’t give her a good answer, she sets out on a journey across Kyoto, discovering Mount Hiei, Ginkakuji, and the importance of beauty in unexpected places.


10.) ELOISE IN MOSCOW
Moscow, Russia

The precocious little Eloise is known best for her antics at The Plaza Hotel, but she also spent time gallivanting around Russia. Along with her dog and Nanny, Eloise discovers Moscow’s marble subways, the Bolshoi ballet, and plenty of fur coats. The book also features one of Eloise’s greatest lines ever: “The Rolls is the only sports car I will drive in a Russian blizzard."

11.) FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER
New York City

Before there was Night at the Museum, there was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This timeless book tells the story of two young siblings spending the night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exploring the details of this NYC landmark. Kids have been dreaming of overnight museum adventures ever since.

12.) DODSWORTH IN ROME
Rome, Italy

The Dodsworth series takes kids to on a different adventure in each book, led by the titular mouse and his sarcastic duck sidekick. In Dodsworth in Rome, the duo toss coins in the Trevi Fountain, compete in a pizza-throwing contest, and come dangerously close to repainting the Sistine Chapel.

13.) TINTIN IN TIBET
Tibet, China

Tintin is perhaps the most famous cartoon traveler of all time. In this installment, he reads about a plane crash in the Himalayas and travels to the site in hopes of rescuing his friend who was on board. Rumor has it that Tintin in Tibet is author Hergé’s favorite story from the Tintin collection.


14.) UNDER THE PERSIMMON TREE
Peshawar, Pakistan

Under the Persimmon Tree tells the stories of two different people: Najmah, a young Afghan girl whose father is conscripted by the Taliban, and Nusrat, an American woman waiting out the war in Peshawar. As the two seek refuge and look for answers, their fates intertwine.

15.) JOURNEY TO JO’BURG
Johannesburg, South Africa

Thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, leave their village to find their mother in Johannesburg, revealing the culture and landscape of South Africa along the way.

16.) A SINGLE SHARD
Ch'ulp'o-ri, South Korea

In this Newbery Medal–winning book, young Tree-ear works for a master potter in the village of Ch'ulp'o-ri, South Korea. He takes a long journey to the royal court to get commission for his work, determined to prove himself—even if it means arriving with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

17.) FLY HIGH, FLY LOW
San Francisco, CA

In Fly High, Fly Low, two San Francisco birds hatch some eggs in a very unconventional place—the letter “B” in the sign on top of the Bay Hotel. This Caldecott Honor book features breathtaking vistas of classic San Francisco sites.

18.) INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN
Saigon, Vietnam

This Newbery Honor book was inspired by author Thanhha Lai’s childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the fall of Saigon and moving to Alabama. The young protagonist not only gives a child’s-eye view of immigration, but also a realistic portrayal of the sights and thrills of Saigon.

19.) BOXES FOR KATJE
Olst, Netherlands

After World War II, there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst. But one spring day, the postman delivers a box of food and clothing from a girl in America, beginning an international correspondence that's full of surprises.

20.) THE LIBRARIAN OF BASRA: A TRUE STORY FROM IRAQ
Basra, Iraq

Alia Muhammad Baker, a librarian in Basra, struggles to save her priceless collection of books after war breaks out in Iraq. This true story teaches powerful lessons about the life of women in the Middle East and the universal love of knowledge and literature.

21.) MERCEDES AND THE CHOCOLATE PILOT
Berlin, Germany

This is the true story of seven-year-old Mercedes, a girl living in West Berlin during the Airlift, and Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, a pilot who would drop nourishment and supplies to the children below. The book’s youthful tone and evocative paintings help portray life in 1948 Germany.


22.) A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON
London, UK

Ever since Michael Bond first wrote about Paddington in 1958, the marmalade-lovin’ bear has become a staple in the children’s literary canon. In his first book, Paddington’s adventures take him all over London—on the Underground, to the theatre, and, of course, to Paddington Station.

23.) LITTLE LEAP FORWARD: A BOY IN BEIJING
Beijing, China

Little Leap Forward is a coming-of-age tale that brings to life the era of China's Cultural Revolution. A young boy growing up in the hutongs of Beijing in the 1960s discovers the heartache of loving and having to let go when he captures a bird, only to discover that she will not sing in confinement.

24.) MOONLIGHT ON THE MAGIC FLUTE
Vienna, Austria

This installment of the Magic Tree House series takes us to Vienna, Austria, during the 18th century. Set against the backdrop of the famous Schönbrunn Palace, this book is packed to the gills with history, mystery, and magic.

25.) BEAVER IS LOST
Chicago, IL

In this nearly wordless picture book by Elisha Cooper, a young beaver is accidentally separated from his family. Beautiful pencil-and-watercolor illustrations depict Beaver’s efforts to find his way home, highlighting the landmarks and busy street life of Chicago along the way.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Container Lugano: a beach in the city

Feel like sticking your toes in the sand? Look no further, just head towards Lugano's lakeside (La Riva Caccia) and look out for one or more maritime containers. Yes, the sort that you see unload and load on ships in ports all over the world. To do what? To turn them into mini-beaches, such as is seen in Paris, for example.

Inspired by the great cities of Europe, Lugano also will have its own container of emotions. Appetizers and trendy music will be featured during a non-stop, action-packed 16-day programme.
Their facebook page has caused quite some hype in town as has their advertising campaign.

Have I peaked your curiosity? Well, it all starts tomorrow, July 19th, 2014. The grand Opening will be at 17:00. You'll experience Lugano's first Beach Bar ever. Have fun!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nutella Croissant Pudding recipe

Sunday morning usually contains a family breakfast with pancakes or waffles. This morning I thought I'd try something new. We're on holiday so let's go over the top a little. Easy to make even for little hands:

Nutella Croissant Pudding


Ingredients:
3 croissants
6 big tablespoons of nutella
¼ cup pecan halves
Custard
2 eggs
1 cup thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup caster sugar
Preparation:
1.) Preheat oven to 180C fan forced
2.) Cut croissants in half lengthways
3.) Spread two heaped tablespoon of nutella onto one side of each croissant
4.) Put halves back together and then cut croissant in half to make six pieces
5.) Place croissants into a small ovenproof dish
6.) Sprinkle pecans over croissants
7.) Add custard ingredients into a large jug and whisk to combine
8.) Pour custard mixture over croissants
9.) Press each croissant into custard mixture
10.) Cover with foil and bake in oven for 25 minutes
11.) Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden
12.) Serve warm with icecream

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Lake Festival Lugano 2014

The beating heart of the Lugano summer is once again the LongLake Festival. Over 250 events and outstanding guests will enliven the city, its squares, streets and parks each and every day for almost a month. So, what are you waiting for? Head down towards the lake shore this weekend and be part of the fun!


The 4th International Festival proposes entertainment, theatre and dance shows, concerts as well as a lot of activities for kids. To better acquaint yourself with the ongoing events, the LongLake Festival has been split in six different Festivals:
Rock’n’More Festival Lugano
Classica Festival Lugano
Buskers Festival Lugano
Urban Art Festival Lugano
Family Festival Lugano
Words Festival Lugano
and many other side events Plus.

You'll find the daily programme in English here: http://longlake.ch/en/

For an extensive programme in English click here: http://issuu.com/dge.lugano/docs/ll_magazine_2014_web

The Family Festival offers a wide choice of events for families and children, it proposes fairy tales reading, movies, magic and illusion shows. For a programme in English, click here: http://longlake.ch/en/family/

Download the official app of the Long Lake Festival here.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Free online multilingual support

Reading is so important for language learning and there are several fantastic websites that offer free books and activites in several languages.

Maria has collated and excellent list of websites where you can find a suitable children’s book in your language:
http://www.trilingualmama.com/online-stories-for-children/

Michele has found Spotify to be useful for finding audios of nursery rhymes and stories – note that the stories will be interspersed with adverts if you go for the free option:
http://intentionalmama.com/home/family-friendly-french-spanish-music-for-children-recent-finds

Frances uses audio books to teach her children to read Spanish:
http://discoveringtheworldthroughmysonseyes.blogspot.fr/2014/05/using-spanish-audio-books-to-teach-my.html

In Amanda‘s post you can find information about her five top favourite Chinese learning apps:
http://www.misspandachinese.com/5-best-kids-apps-family/

Annabelle writes about her family’s favourite iPad apps to support her childrens language development:
http://www.thepiripirilexicon.com/2013/04/our-favourite-multilingual-ipad-apps.html



Monday, July 7, 2014

Navigating the seven Cs of multilingual parenting

Did you know there are seven "C's" of successful multilingual parenting: communication, confidence, commitment, consistency, creativity, culture and celebration. These are core components for successfully passing on a family language to the next generation.

Rita Rosenback, spills her secrets in the book entitled “Bringing up a Bilingual Child”. Children and languages are her passion, and she has written this book for parents and carers in families with more than one language.

It is an easy-to-read guide with practical advice for parents raising bilingual children. In addition to the down-to-earth hints and tips, she also tells you about her family’s journey and how her daughters acquired their languages. The Special Edition contains two additional chapters – the first one list ideas on how to engage your child to speak your language and the second is a list of encouraging thoughts for when you need them the most.

If you would like to read more about bilingual child raising check out her blog: http://multilingualparenting.com/blog/


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Voilà ma Suisse!

Now, here is a summer project if ever there was one: "Voilà ma Suisse".

Ever heard of a crowdsourcing project? Until October 2014, you can borrow one of ten Mazda cars - kitted out for filming, thanks to streetview cameras - and film your favorite spots in Switzerland on a trip up to 30km.


Discover a colourful, multi-faceted Switzerland, like you've never seen before. Become part of Switzerland, reserve your trail along with the Street View car of your choice and tell your own story. Do you know an exceptional story, a special place or an adventourous track? Then go ahead and contribute!

Photos and personal videos are obviously welcome, since the idea is to share your unique experiences, favourite spots and personel tips on social networks and the internet.

To participate, you must register. I highly recommend you visit the site "This is my Switzerland". Click here and let the fun begin: https://www.voila-ma-suisse.ch.

The only little hick is that the site is in Switzerland's three Official languages and not in English!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Italian Hand Gestures RAP

Take a look at this video and tell me what the American Consulate in Milano was thinking. This crash course on Italian Gestures will teach you how to talk with your hands like a real Italian. I am wondering if the Ambassador is in the loop?


Here are the 16 gestures:

I am hungry
You are crazy
This is perfect
Time to go

There is nothing
I don't care
Full of people
Are you scared?

Have some water
Drink some wine
Get a coffee
Take your time

This and that
So and so
What do you want?
You must go!


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