Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fizzy Science

Today I did *not* get to sleep in. I still decided to make great effort not to be grumpy about it... once I had coffee and a banana muffin, that is. Yesterday's fun activities inspired me to continue my list of fun things to do with the lad as it is another late work day for my husband so I might as well make it fun for both of us, right? I mean, if he had siblings to play with I would honestly probably be significantly less hands on with this kind of thing. But he doesn't (yet) so instead of being begged to play cars for hours on end, this is how I would rather roll. And I admit, I do really enjoy these kinds of things.
Anyways, yesterday had more of a math/numbers focus so today we went with science. Fizzy Science to be exact. Before we got started I looked up why vinegar and baking soda react the way they do, then I explained it to my son as if I had known all along. I kinda doubt he grasped the dual reaction thing, but you know, it's all about exposure, right?
Our first two experiments were done one right after the other, not only to see how the two ingredients responded to being combined, but also to contrast the difference between adding the vinegar to the baking soda and then vice versa. He was pretty excited to get started.

Both were a lot of fun and *super* easy. He especially loved the color mixing part of the prep. Adding the colored vinegar to the baking soda was more of an art project for him. It fizzed enough to be fun but he really liked the color aspect of it. However, the second part, where we added the baking soda to the colored vinegar really got him. He expected less of a reaction and got really excited when it started overflowing over the muffin cup. Even after both projects were done he had fun moved the different colors to different cups and making it fizz as long as it could. This is something we will definitely do again. Great rainy day project. Or a great take it outside on a nice day project.

A couple of hours after those, we did one last "fizzy science" experiment. I got this idea and directions from here. Read the order of doing it at that site, but basically you use these items:
Take it outside and put them in the bag in the right order, then watch it explode.

okay, so ours was a bit of a bust. It looked like there were two tiny holes in the bag so the pressure didn't build up like I had expected. And then, in his true style, my son didn't have much of an immediate reaction. He likes to think about things before really showing what he thinks... oy

All in all they were all three fun and educational and something I hope to do again. Especially with an un-holy bag.

PS Sorry about the video being sideways and poorly recorded! No idea how to fix that....

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fun Day

Today my son slept in. I thought for sure he would be getting up soon after my husband left for school/work, but instead he slept in until 8:50AM! I was thrilled. I decided to reward him with making today really fun. It is probably my job as a stay at home mom of one to help make all of his days fun, but that doesn't always happen. Especially with it being chilly out and my being very pregnant, and only knowing a handful of people in this town who don't work all day.
I definitely play with him and do activities with him, but I feel like at this point much of my time is spent trying to figure out how I will get through the next few (or many) hours until my husband gets home or until bedtime. I know this is normal for stay at home parents, but I am also realizing more and more how numbered our days are of it just being Elijah and I. Very soon we will have another one that will be with us constantly and while those will be special days, I do really want to cherish this one on one time with my eldest. SO back to my being determined and motivated to make today fun.
Almost everything I decided to do was activities I found on Pinterest. If you don't already use it, you should. It's amazing. A major time waster if you let it be, but fabulous and quite useful nonetheless. I spent about 15 minutes looking stuff up and just a few minutes prep time for each one. And then I became Fun Mom :o)

But first, we started our morning with tea time and a bit of watching Green Eggs and Ham.

After taking this picture I realized he needed a hair trim. So we did that and then got on to the more fun stuff. I let him choose what order we went in. First, he chose this project.
It was so easy! Basically you just cut out your shape out of colored construction paper. Then, using a q-tip and baby oil you can "paint"your designs onto the shape. We taped some twine to the backs and then hung them in the window. Unfortunately the sun has yet to shine through said window today, so we are still waiting on the finished product. I have to say though, if you do this, use lots of oil. we kept ours a little thin in most parts and I don't think those will shine through as much.

Next, we did this. My son doesn't have a nerf gun (yet) so instead I gave him a straw and made the object of the game be to blow the lego men off without knocking over the cups. Then he decided to make a second tower and compare knocking over his lego men to his dinosaurs. Turns out dinos are much stronger. This kept him busy long enough for me to do some dishes and make lunch. And now there are lots of little towers around the living room and I kind of love it.

After lunch we kept with the lego theme and printed out this cool coloring sheet. Instead of doing sums with dice, we did more number identification using the cards from this game. Whichever card he picked he got to color once he matched it and could tell me what number it was. He tends to get bored with coloring quickly but he loved this one.

After that, we moved to the other side of the table where I had placed this worksheet and some coins. We talked about the different sizes of the silver coins and how many go into the dollar. He filled in all the spots and found that we only had $2.65...the downside to not planning ahead.

Lastly, we kept the money theme going and went to play in his room. He has been really into setting up "toy stores", which he also calls "a different kind of Target" and has us come buy things. We always just pretend the money part. Today I gave him some coins and I was the shop keeper. Each section cost a different kind of coin. He came in, learned the cost of each item, made some thoughtful purchases, sorted through his money, then paid his bill. We did this probably 10 times and I let him keep part of the change for when he goes to a real store.
After all this it was time for quiet time, which just ended as I am typing this. It has been a fun and educational day but I honestly cannot believe it is only 4PM and I still have a solid 3 hours before my husband comes home! Movie time... :o)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Parking Cars

I am working on number identification with my son and he really is not terribly interested. I do "school time" with him, which varies from crafts to working on letters and numbers, and really just about anything I decide to do with structure (It is something I have to force myself to do, being structured). I try to make efforts to have it be fun for him (he is only 4 after all...) and to include things he really likes to help him to care more. One of the main things he really cares about is cars. The child has been obsessed with cars since he was 17 or 18 months and his love has only grown. So today I told him to load up his dump truck with cars of varying colors and to meet me in the living room for school time. He was intrigued.
I showed him the "parking lot" with spots for 14 cars and told him he would be practicing parking his cars, but that they had to match the cards.

I set out the number line for him to use if he needed help identifying the number, then had him pick a card. He could then see how many cars he was to park, as well as what colors the cars needed to be. It was up to him as to how many cars of each color to use. It ended up being a lesson in addition as well with things like, "how many orange cars did you choose?...4... How many blue cars?...3...So 4 plus 3 equals...?" It was easy to set up, educational, and he really enjoyed it. Plus, it was something that once he got the hang of it he really didn't need me to be very involved other than to affirm that what he did was correct. Definitely a keeper for us!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meatless Mexican Pizza

I really don't like fast food. I dont eat fast hamburgers or struggle with french fry cravings, and even though I am a mom, I am not a huge fan of Chick-fil-A, but I do have one fast food weakness. Okay, I have two weaknesses, I love Sonic slushies, but I am not thinking about beverages at the moment, just food. Warm, crispy, cheesy food: the mexican pizza from Taco Bell to be exact. I get it without meat and add extra hot sauce and I love it. It is the one thing I could eat even when in the midst of horrible nausea and vomitting with both of my pregnancies. I would crave them. At times even to the point of having my loving husband drive me to Taco Bell so I could buy two. I ate one, had him pull into a parking lot for me to throw up, then I ate the second before we ever got to our destination. I know that is so gross, but pregnancy is weird and that is how much I love them.
I rarely give into the magnetic pull that I feel when driving by the place, but I think about it often. Today I was really feeling it, but knew I shouldn't. So, instead, I made it for dinner. I know I have done it in the past, but I have no idea when or how long ago. It was so easy and really, really good.
So here goes it, my version of a...

Meatless Mexican Pizza:

What I Used:
-corn tortillas
-refried beans (i love the trader joes fat free kind)
-chopped onion
-chopped green chiles
-1 diced tomato
-chopped cilantro
-bit of cumin
-non GMO canned corn
-sliced black olives
-shredded cheese
-sour cream

Preheat oven to 350degrees

Heat a bit of oil (I used non GMO canola oil, but I know grape seed is much better for you for high heats) in a skillet

Place a corn tortilla in the oil and let is sizzle for about 15 seconds, then flip it over and do the same on the other side. Take it out and let it drain the excess oil onto a paper towel on a plate. Do this until all the tortillas you are wanting to use are crispy and not dripping wet. I used 9 as I was making 4 2-layer pizzas for my husband and myself and a single layer one for our son.

Place bottom layer tortillas on a cookie sheet and top with a layer of beans, onions, and cumin.

Put second layer tortilla on top and add corn, olives, more onion, green chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese.

Stick it in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until melty and smelling amazing.
I added some more fresh tomato and cilantro and some sour cream. And Enjoy!

If I had thought about it I also would have smashed up an avocado and added some lime juice to the mix, but it was still REALLY good and totally hit the spot. Plus, this way it was real food I was eating and not nearly as questionable. As with most recipes, the options are endless for toppings and ways to do it.

What do you like to put on a Mexican Pizza?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Husband's Birthday

First off I have to say that I have the most wonderful husband. Ever. He is smart (working on his MS in hydrogeology), funny (no specific examples, but he really is), friendly (everyone loves him. if you don't, something is wrong), creative (he does awesome paintings that people pay actual money for), manly (he goes caving and takes out the trash without being asked), he is kind and compassionate (again no specifics, but its true), and is an amazing father to our son. And today is his birthday. I am so thankful to my in-laws for making and raising such a handsome and intelligent man.
He is in grad school and spent the day working on his thesis and teaching undergrads environmental geology things. He was coming home too late and tired for us to really go do anything today in honor of his birthday and he is never too big into having a party for his day, so instead, I fed him good food. And I have to say, it was seriously good. Plus, every single bit of it was from scratch. The beans were dried and the cake batter was *not* from a box, so it was a real labor of love in my 8.5 months pregnant mind.

Elijah helped quite a bit (it really is all relative I suppose, haha) and insisted on giving Mike his gifts first.

Then we moved on to dinner.
Besides the cucumber slices in vinegar with dill they were all new recipes for me and they will all be repeated. The spicy beans were per his request and definitely lived up to being called "spicy". For some reason I was under the impression that the mashed cauliflower would feel like mashed potatoes. They didn't. But it is still something I will make again, especially since our son ate a bunch of it. I also did a baked fried chicken that was REALLY good.
Then we moved on to dessert.

The chocolate raspberry ganache double layer cake was everything it should be. And the peach cobbler was... a good peach cobbler. It has never been my favorite, but I do like it. Elijah helped me pick out and make both desserts. Having the rich chocolate cake and the warm fruity dessert was kind of like the best of both worlds. It definitely satisfied my sugary cravings.

Tomorrow we have a couple of friends coming over to watch our son so we can go out on our own (hoorah!) and they will hopefully help us finish these sweets off so I don't make this baby any more giant than he already feels!
Also, sorry about all the random "frames" around the pictures. It is really starting to bug my OCD-ness and I am not sure how I didn't realize how much they dont match each other...
Happy Birthday Mike, I love, love, love you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nashville Weekend

This weekend was our last time visiting Nashville for the next couple of months. I have grown accustomed to going back to visit at least one weekend (usually two) a month ever since we moved further east this past May. While I really am sick of the drive there and back, it had been so nice to be able to stay so connected with friends and enjoy all the things we love about Nashville. However, being 8 months pregnant and Mike being so busy in school this semester, it is just not realistic to keep it up. Thankfully, our weekends away came to a temporary end with a boom. It was *such* a fun and busy weekend from getting together with my book club girls to brunch with bunches of friends. We ate at some of our favorite places, attended a friend's art show/reception, and (my favorite parts) had 2 baby showers! One was a surprise for a dear friend who is pregnant with her third daughter and shares a due date with me. It was so much fun to treat her to a girl’s night out at a favorite restaurant and remind her of how loved and dear she is. I was honored to be a part of putting it together.

Then on Sunday I was once again honored, but this time by my beautiful sister who threw a shower for me despite the fact that she just gave birth a little over a month ago! Amazing!

It was a cookies & milk party with a winter theme. Beautiful AND delicious.

It meant so much to me that so many friends came. I felt so loved by my Nashville community last night that it almost made me cry. Not that that is anything new to have me cry, but still.

We had planned on coming home after the shower, but decided to stay one more night and have pizza and games with family. It was a wonderful ending to a fabulous weekend. And I am quite impressed with all the great gifts I received. My family and I are so blessed to know so many beautiful people. Thank you, thank you! to all who came out.

We had a variety of 13 kinds of cookies, chocolates, berries, dipped marshmallows, and some more salty snacks in the kitchen for those who are less sugar inclined.
Our party favor for everyone to take home was a pretty take out box for people to fill with cookies they liked best. And I am in love with the little milk bottles/striped paper straws we had for the drinks.

We had cold pitchers of local milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, and caramel vanilla iced latte's. YUM!

It was all so beautiful and satisfactory to all the sugary cravings I have had this pregnancy.
And I have to add that this morning I found my husband eating leftover muddy buddies (aka puppy chow to some) with milk as his cereal....yikes....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Veggie Pot Pie

Someday I plan to have this blog be about something in my life other than just food. However, today is not that day. Every day for the past week I have been planning on making this warm comfort food and just never did it. A friend from back home flew all the way from California to take my maternity photos (!) and I really wanted to make this for her. She is a vegetarian and for some reason I have always had a hard time finding chicken-less pot pies so I thought it would be nice. But ya, it never happened. I finally got around to making it tonight and it was perfect. Especially with the cold windy evening that it is and the predictions of snow.
I am not opposed to chicken pot pies, in fact, I rather like them. However, we rarely buy meat as we are picky and only get the fancy grass fed organic kind, which doesnt fit into our student budget very often. And not being crazy about meat anyways, it works out easily for us.

This pot pie can easily be made with chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth, but then it wouldn't be suitable for most vegetarians (obviously).

Veggie Pot Pie

2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 russet potatoes
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Take your beautiful veggies, wash them, and chop them up! (i have extra ones in the pic...)

Once they're all chopped, put them in a med sized pot and cover with water. Boil for about 15 minutes. Drain and set them aside. Here is where I like to add about a cup of frozen peas. I don't like to overcook them and adding them now will thaw them within minutes amidst the hot vegetables.

Meanwhile, melt 1/3 cup butter in a pan and add garlic. Chopped, minced, whatever you like. Normally I would throw in half an onion and soften it in this buttery garlic glory, but I didn't have one. So I added more garlic.

Once you are satisfied with your butter meltiness, add the salt, pepper, flour, and milk. I also usually do celery seed here, but since I am out of that, too I threw in some sage. I have no idea how much. Then mix in the vegetable broth (not pictured).

Mix it all really well over medium heat until it turns into a smooth gravy. You can leave it like this or be like me and add, you guessed it, more garlic. And maybe some seasoned salt. And more sage. And seriously, I could eat this by the spoonful. This makes me think I am in the right place living in the south...

In a deep pie dish lay down your pie crust. Layer half the veggie mixture, half of the gravy, other half of veggies, then gravy. Should I be calling it sauce? Lastly, top it off with the second pie crust and cut little slits to let the heat escape while it bakes.

30 minutes later it should be browned and look something like this.

Dig in! I assure you, it does not lack in flavor with the vegetable broth! Especially with the garlic and sage or whatever other seasonings you like to add. My husband, 4 year old, and myself ate half of it for dinner and it makes great leftovers.