Sprinkle-of-Love Cake

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Moment of truth: This cake didn’t turn out quite as intended, no thanks to a chocolate cake layer that didn’t set right in the pan! So what was originally intended as a two-layer cake with cut-out hearts turned into a single-layer cake with sprinkled hearts on top…But we loved it anyway! Any way you slice it, this is a sweet cake to bake for your Valentine’s this week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-inch round) chocolate cake, cooled
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce freeze-dried raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • Sprinkles
  1. Bake the cake ahead of time, whether it’s your favorite recipe from scratch or one made from a vegan mix (such as Cherrybrook Kitchen). Set aside.
  2. Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until finely ground. Fold into the powdered sugar mixture, along with the milk.
  4. Place the cake layer on a plate, and frost with 1/2 cup frosting. Reserve the remaining frosting for another use.
  5. Place a heart-shaped cookie cutter on top of the cake, and gently tap in a layer of sprinkles. Pink or red ones would be ideal, but the organic sprinkles we had on hand were multicolored, which worked in a pinch. Repeat with as many hearts on top as you’d like to make.

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Serve with a spoonful of love!

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Tasty Toes

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Unless your child grows up to be a troupe member in Cirque du Soleil, chances are this is the only time that he or she will ever be able to get his or her toes into the mouth. So encourage this adorable action, and let them enjoy!

This morning, I pointed out her toes to Veronika, drawing attention to the lower digits by feeling them, naming them, and wiggling her toes for her.

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Next, I encouraged her to touch her toes, handing a foot to her just like I do with a toy. She held on right away!

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Gently bend your child’s legs until the feet are near the mouth. Nibble nibble!

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There are lots of other fun ways to draw attention to those cute toesies. Later in the day, we played games like “This Little Piggy”.

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Mid-afternoon, I caught her playing with her toes all by herself! Who knew feet could be so fun?

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What is a Landmark?

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We’re only in our second month of a subscription to Raddish Kids, but I continue to be impressed with the company’s thorough lesson plans to accompany each recipe. I mentioned last month that the lessons are meant for everyone from preschoolers through big kids, so you’ll need to adapt and adjust accordingly. To wit, I worried Travis wouldn’t get much out of a lesson on French landmarks (to go along with the French dessert we baked), but boy was I wrong!

The idea is to learn about the Eiffel Tower specifically, and then follow-up with a discussion of landmarks in general. So we started with a video clip about the Tower.

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Travis had so many questions right away: Could you really go to the top? What was the tower made of? How did they light it up at night? He was even more amazed when I pulled out a few old photos from my own trip up to the top!

Next, we looked at pictures of other landmarks. I selected some from a travel magazine, and showed him a mix of man-made (the Great Wall of China) and natural (the White Cliffs of Dover). Now it was time to ask him to define a landmark based on what he saw.

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This was a tricky question for a preschooler, but he decided it was something you built. I pointed back to the cliffs again, and we settled on this definition: anything that can be easily recognized, that marks a specific location.

We explored further with a fantastic STEM activity, encouraging kids to build replicas of famous landmarks. Duplo was a natural medium for my preschooler, and he loved the challenge.

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Here is our little Eiffel Tower, replete with a tourist on top!

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We also tackled London Bridge, the Parthenon, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Big kids can get super creative with these, in a wide variety of materials, and aim to be much more exact.

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From here, older children can go on to make a brochure, travel blog, or model of any landmark they choose. But Raddish’s suggestion for young kids was to keep things closer to home. I’ll be honest: If I didn’t have a three-month-old, I would have taken Travis to a world-famous landmark in nearby New York City, like the State of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

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But since that was out of the cards, I asked Travis if he could think of a landmark in our little town, and was so proud when he remembered the bell we pass ever day en route to school, part of a Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building.

So off we went on a frigid morning for a few pics!

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Travis loves using our instant camera, so was a happy participant despite temps in the teens.

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We came home and wove it all together by making a brochure. I showed him a few examples, and soon he was gluing pictures down proudly.

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In sum, this was definitely an advanced social studies lesson for a preschooler, but I’m glad we accepted the challenge to tackle it. Travis learned so much, and we had a blast in the process.

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