Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Day Today

Lots of things accomplished today, and lots of fun too!

After school, Jaymi had a playdate at our house, with her friend, Olivia. They had fun playing dressup, doing some artwork, playing pretend, and of course, petting the mice.

This is Squeak, by the way,

And this is Spot.

Meanwhile, I made jello (Jaymi helped me out with this),

Jaymi and I played Snakes & Ladders after Olivia left,

I roasted a chicken with some veggies tonight for dinner, and then used the carcass and extra chicken bits to make homemade chicken stock.

I also made banana bread, with maple syrup - it smells great!

Tomorrow I'm going to make another batch of homemade yogurt. It went over extremely well here. Jaymi ate a jar each day. She especially loves putting a little bit of vanilla extract in it.

Park play, magnet study, crafiness, and reading

The past few days have brought us some fun moments.

Playing at the park with one of Jaymi's friends...

Discovering how to make Webkinz clothing out of a sock...

Doing a bunch of cool experiments with a magnet kit that I found at a thrift store, like:
making a paperclip float in mid-air...

...hanging paperclips from each other...

...making a marble move along a track without actually directly touching it...and more.

Reading lots of lots of books (Jaymi's reads constantly!).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Redecorating ... a Princess's Room

For the past year, Jaymi's bedroom has been a disorganized mess. Her last bed, which she stopped sleeping on for a variety of reasons, had been taken out of her room and taken apart, so she has been sleeping on the floor, on her mattress (which she was completely fine with).
Although she has bins and a few shelves to organize her toys and stuffies in, there was no nightstand, no proper bookshelves, and her dresser wasn't big enough for the amount of storage she needs, etc.. It just wasn't a room that encouraged organization and cleanliness.

She has been wanting a fairy/princess room for a while now, and while she was away at a sleepover at her Gramma's house, we surprised her by redoing her whole room.

We decided to give her the spare bedroom bed (which is a queen-sized bed - wow!) as well as the matching nightstand and dresser.

Her Littlest Pet Shop animals are organized in their 'apartments', she now has the awesome goldfish lamp (which has little fish swimming in liquid in the base and the yellow goldfish-shaped cover) that I found at a thrift store, a hook on the headboard for her sleepmask that she uses every night, and lots of room in the nightstand for her flashlight, bookmarks, and many books.

Her awesome magnet wall is courtesy of her Grandad - he very nicely offered to paint her one wall in the magnetic paint that we had bought.

Her closet has now been turned into a dress-up area (for now) but I think we would like to turn it into a big bookcase at some point.

She got this fantastic fish chalkboard from her Granna and Grandad at Christmas.

We put these great white handwritten words on her wall (they're rub-ons) - it says "thank heaven for little girls', Mark decided to attach a set of dress-up butterfly wings beside it, her turtle clock is now hanging up (finally), there is lots of room on the dresser now for her stereo & CDs as well as her jewelry. And her 'restaurant' fits perfectly in the corner along with the shopping cart that we gave her for her birthday.

We organized her stuffies in cubbies and on shelves (she likes to organize them in categories, and that helps to keep her motivated to keep them neat), her princess chair is set up with a stuffie princess sitting on it, and there is a toy box with the rest of her stuffies in it.

Cooking up a Storm!

In the interest of being healthy, and also saving money, I have been attempting to cook lots of new, healthy recipes, and also to make more things myself.

For example, last week, I:

learned how to make my own yogurt with my yogurt-maker (which, unbelievably, worked, and my yogurt tasted and looked great!) and it was incredibly easy...I just need milk and culture.
I am never buying yogurt again!

I had a zucchini to use up (got it free from Jaymi's school) and made chocolate-zucchini mini-muffins that were awesome too.

Here is the recipe:

1 ¼ cups flour, whole wheat pastry
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 banana, ripe, mashed
½ to 1 cup sugar, raw
½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
¼ cup milk, skim
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup zucchini, shredded
¼ cup walnuts or chocolate chips, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together.
In another bowl, cream mashed banana with applesauce and sugar.
Add in milk, vanilla, zucchini, and nuts/chips to wet mixture.
Stir to combine.
Add flour mix to wet mix in 3-4 batches.
Stir until just combined.
Spoon into greased muffin pan.
Bake 15-20 minutes.
For a cake (you'll need a bundt pan), double the recipe. Once it has cooled, drizzle a sugar glaze overtop (confectioners sugar mixed with water or milk and a touch of vanilla extract or lemon juice to form a runny glaze).

I made one of my family's favourite snacks, Roasted Chickpea Crunchies. All this one is, is tossing a can of chickpeas in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasting them in the oven until they are like nuts.

I had some bread that was going stale, so I made bread crumbs and froze them in a Ziploc bag (I have been adding to the Ziploc whenever I have some extra crusts, bits of bread, stale bread, etc.)

And I have also tried a few recipes that were soooo good!
Here they are for you to try. Please leave a comment on this post if you try one and like it!

Crunchy Corn Chips (from The Sneaky Chef book)

12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 tablespoons oil, olive
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400F.

Brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Stack 6 of them together and using shears, cut into 8 triangles, for a total of 48 chips. Repeat with the final 6 tortillas.
Scatter the chips in a single layer onto a large cookie sheet and sprinkle them evenly with salt. Bake 10 minutes, then flip them using a wide spatula and bake another 8-10 minutes.

Sweet & Sour Beef & Cabbage Soup (which I made because I had a cabbage to use up)

tablespoon oil, canola
1 pound beef, ground, lean
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
2 ½ cups frozen bell pepper mix, thawed, chopped
1 medium apple, Golden Delicious or other sweet-tart cooking apple, unpeeled and diced
6 cups broth, beef
1 15-oz. can tomatoes, crushed or diced
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon paprika, perferable Hungarian sweet
3 cups cabbage, Savoy or green, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoon vinegar, cider
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef, caraway seeds and thyme and cook, stirring and breaking up the beef with a spoon, until it is mostly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in pepper-onion mix and apple; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes more.
2. Stir in broth, tomatoes, honey and paprika and adjust the heat so the mixture boils gently. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in cabbage and cook just until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Season with vinegar to taste, salt and pepper.

Egg & Ham Turnovers (a fantastic breakfast - make a bunch and freeze individually for later)
from Eat Clean magazine

1/2 cup scallions, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 eggs
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 16-oz pkg pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough (the recipe also works with whole-wheat wraps/tortillas if you have to)
6 1-oz slices of Swiss cheese
6 oz low-sodium ham, torn into small pieces, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium nonstick skillet, saute scallions, garlic, red pepper and mushrooms in 1 tsp oil for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. While sauteing whisk together eggs, egg whites, black pepper, thyme and parsley in bowl. Pour egg mixture into skillet. Scramble with veggies for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Let cool.
2. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Knead dough until it is in a tube-like shape, about 6 inches long. Divide dough into 6 sections by cutting with a knife. Roll out each section into a circle and place circles onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
3. To assemble, layer the following ingredients: On each circle of dough, place 1/2 slice cheese, 1/3 cup egg-veggie mixture, 1 oz ham and top with other 1/2 slice cheese. Fold dough over to make a half-moon shape, pinch sides together with water to stick. Brush outer dough with remaining oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes for dough and contents to set.

Paprika Chicken (

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon oil, vegetable
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 19-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pepper, green, diced
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons parsley, fresh, minced

Cut chicken into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken, in batches. Transfer to plate.

Drain fat from pan; fry onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Return chicken and any juices to pan. Add green pepper; cover and simmer until sauce is thick enough to mound on spoon, about 10 minutes. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate until cold. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours or freeze for up to 1 month.) Garnish with sour cream (or plain yogurt) and parsley.

Tilapia Fish Sticks and Cucumber & Yogurt Sauce (from Eat Clean magazine)

1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
2 egg whites
2 1/2 tbsp flaxseeds, ground
2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
8 oz tilapia fillets
1/4 cup cucumber, minced
1 tbsp yellow onion, minced
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a mini food processor, pulse sunflower seeds for 10 to 15 seconds, until reduced to a fine consistency. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites for 30 seconds. In a separate bowl, stir together ground sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, parsley, pepper and salt.
2. Cut tilapia fillets into thin strips. Dip strips in egg whites, then in bowl with sunflower mixture to coat. Place strips on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare sauce: In small bowl, stir together cucumber, onion, vinegar and oil. Add yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Chill in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes in order to meld flavours.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Egypt Study

We had a lot of fun this past weekend, studying Egypt.
It all began with one of Jaymi's Magic Treehouse books, called "Mummies in the Morning".
She started asking me a bunch of questions about Egypt and the pyramids and mummies, so we decided to do a study of Egypt on the weekend.

We learned a lot of fascinating things, like:

- they took out all of the organs when preparing to mummify a body, except for the heart.
- they took out the brain through the nostrils, with a large metal hook.
- ancient Egyptians mummified their animals and even some food!

We learned all about the Nile river, the Sphinx, King Tutankhamen, and Pharoahs.

I found some fantastic websites:

I printed out some colouring pages and crossword puzzles.

We made a small vocabulary list.
We also learned about hieroglyphics and Jaymi wrote her name.

We pretended to mummify a stuffy turtle. We went through the whole process, complete with rubbing it in pretend natron salt, taking out its organs, wrapping it up in cloths, making a death mask for it, putting good luck charms on it, and placing it in a tomb.

We learned about 'frontalism'...the way ancient Egyptians used to draw.

We even found a game that Jaymi loves to play, over and over - more of a quiz, really.

We learned how important cats were to the Egyptians, and that they were the first society to bring cats into their homes and domesticate them.

We also found a very cool video showing us a real 3,000-yr-old mummy!
Check it out!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What we've been up to...

I haven't had a chance to post any pictures in a while - none so far in this new year. But we have been keeping busy.
It's nice to get back to a regular schedule of school & work, Brownies, ballet, playdate, and lots of our fun stuff that we do together.

So, here are some of the things we have been doing so far this year (and a bit of the end of 2009 too):

We made a healthy version of a gingerbread house, and then promptly ate it!

We celebrated New Year's Eve at home together. Jaymi made a New Year's hat, and we all shared a New Year's Eve drink as we always is the one time every year when we make Jaymi a 'bubbly' drink (usually juice with a little bit of carbonated water).

Jaymi and her friend Kristin got to help me out at the grocery store. They love the self check-out.

And, we have some new pets! Mark found a tiny, wild mouse that was trapped in a bucket outside, and Jaymi and Mark decided to keep it in our old turtle tank. They fed it and gave it water, things to chew on, etc., but at one point when Mark was petting it, it escaped. It was a wild animal though, and didn't really want to be in that tank. So, the two of them decided that they would buy a couple of new mice at the pet store, along with a cute cage with a wheel, tunnels, and everything the mice would need.
They are so cute and tiny and soft. Jaymi's friends have been having fun meeting the mice, which Jaymi has named Squeak and Spot. They're also so tame. They love to be petted, and can be trained too.

Jaymi asked her teacher if she could bring the mice to Show and Share, and she said yes.
The class loved them!

Kristin helped Jaymi with her homework one day, testing her on spelling words.

Jaymi got a bit of a hair trim before school started. She wasn't thrilled though. She is trying to grow her hair long, and the hairdresser cut a lot more off of the front than she had wanted.

She helped me make meatballs one day. She hated the feeling the of the meat, but had fun making it into not-so-little balls.

She had a dentist appointment, along with some x-rays.

Learned how to play Battleship.

Stay tuned for my next blog entry, when I'll let you know all about our latest learning adventure - all about Ancient Egypt!