Thursday, 30 June 2011

Maplewood Farm

Yesterday Sydney and I met up with our friends Andrea and Aaro and Barbara and Beau for a visit to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver.  If you have kids and haven't been here, you really must go!  It is such a lovely little farm and so kid-friendly!  They had all sorts of animals on display: chickens, cows, horses, pigs, peacocks, rabbits, sheep, goats, birds....the kids absolutely loved it!

The kids could pet almost all of the smaller animals which they loved, especially the bunnies.  Sydney loved the little ponies and watching the baby goats jump and play together and feeding all the birds.

It was a lovely day spent with friends despite the rainy weather.  Looking forward to another visit on a sunnier day!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Dinner for a Hot Summer Evening

Sydney and I went to Costco yesterday for our weekly shopping run.  I spend so much time shopping at Costco these days that I could literally fill an entire blog on that alone!  I always pick up a hot rotisserie barbecue chicken when I'm there so am often searching for recipes that use cooked chicken for the leftovers.  Found two new ones today that I thought I'd try out.

Tonight for dinner I made a homemade Creamy Curried Chicken Soup and Chicken Wraps with Curry-Chutney Mayonnaise and Peanuts.  It was delicious and so perfect for a hot summer evening.  The hint of curry in each dish really complimented each other well!  It was super easy to put together, I had dinner on the table in record time and everyone loved it!

Here's the recipes, enjoy!

Chicken Wraps with Curry-Chutney Mayonnaise and Peanuts

1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip, I used the fat free)
1/4 cup mango chutney (surprisingly easy to find, in the store where you find jarred curry sauces)
1.5 tsp curry powder
6 large flour tortillas (I used the spinach ones)
2 cups diced cooked chicken (you can also use turkey, great for Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers!)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons coarsely chopped lightly salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups coleslaw mix (the green and red cabbage with carrots is best)

Mix mayonnaise, chutney and curry powder in a small bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 2 tablespoons curry-chutney mayonnaise in a two inch wide strip down the middle of each tortilla.  Divide the rest of the toppings evenly between the tortillas; chicken, cilantro, peanuts and coleslaw mix.  Fold sides of tortilla over ends of filling and roll up burrito-style. 

Creamy Curried Chicken Soup

10 oz can cream of celery soup (I used the low fat version)
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp onion powder or minced dried onions
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken

Whisk together soup, milk and spices in a saucepan.  Stir in peas and chicken.  Simmer until hot, about 10 minutes.

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Summer Outfit

One of the best things about having a little girl is all the cute girly clothes that are out there!  Even before Sydney was born I was going nuts shopping for teeny-tiny little pink everything and it continues to be a source of joy for me!  I love building out her wardrobe!

The other day Syd and I were at Gymboree and they were having an amazing sale, many things were $4.99 or less!  The bargain hunter in me could have spent all day hunting through stacks of clearance clothing but Sydney's stamina for clothes shopping is still being developed, so I had to settle on one cute outfit to take home for her.

 "Fintastic Day for a Swim" ~ isn't that the cutest thing ever?  I love the crazy pattern on the shorts too, it will be adorable on her! 

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Greek Days

Paul and I have had a Sunday morning tradition since long before Sydney was born of waking up super early in the morning and taking a long leisurely walk to Granville Island for coffee at JJ Bean.  (By the way for those of you in Vancouver, this is arguably the best cup of coffee you can find in the city!)  Since Sydney's been born, we have been keeping up the tradition and today was no exception.  We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day and took our babe for a stroll to Granville Island for coffee and a walk around the market.  Sydney loves feeding the birds there too which has now become part of the Sunday morning tradition!

It was such a beautiful morning that we dawdled back to the car and stopped at Kits beach for a while to enjoy the ocean, we are so blessed to live in Vancouver!

To round the day off, we took Sydney down to Broadway for Greek Days, a street party celebration of all things Greek, which happens once a year on a Sunday in June!  It was such fun, music, dancing, great food, free balloons and popcorn and cotton candy...Syd was in heaven!  One of the best things about Greek Days is the amazing food that is cooked up right on the street, I had the chance to try a Lamb Souvlakia Pita from the Nu Aegean Cusina Restaurant.  It was absolutely delicious, the lamb was seasoned and cooked to perfection!  To finish off, I had a heaping pile of loukoumades which are Greek donuts made with honey syrup, to die for!  Check out the cute little Greek flag toothpick stuck in the top! 

They were handing out both Canadian and Greek flags for the kids, Sydney got one of each.  She is obsessed with the Canadian flag, points it out to me wherever we go.  I kept trying to get a picture of her holding both the Canadian and Greek flag together but she just wouldn't give up clutching tightly to her Canadian flag.  My little patriot!  Should come in handy next week for Canada Day!  Notice how crumpled the Canadian flag is compared to the Greek one? 

All in all it was a perfect Sunday with both the loves of my life!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Boynton's Greatest Hits & A Havanese

Yesterday was Sydney's second cousin Issy's 8th Birthday.  To celebrate, his parents threw a dinner party with the whole family at their home.  It was such a great time.  Sydney had a ton of fun playing with the kids and chasing their cat Nellie around the house!  She even had her own chair at the dinner table this time with all the grown-ups, she loved it!!

Issy's Mom is very sweet and often gives Sydney little gifts that she has picked up for her, and yesterday was no exception!  She gave Sydney a stuffed Havanese dog and book about them from Scholastic Books and a boxed set of Sandra Boynton's Greatest Hits, four board books by one of our favourite kids' authors.  Both kept Sydney entertained for much of the evening but she especially loves the little stuffed dog.  Today I saw her giving it the hugest hug and kiss when she thought no one was looking, it was so precious!

It was a very nice treat to leave the party with a few gifts of our own, will look forward to lots of days reading ahead and cuddles with the new puppy!  Happy Birthday Issy!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Day Trip to Bellingham

Sydney and I spent the day in Bellingham, Washington today.  I have long been an avid cross-boarder shopper and am so happy to be able to take my girl shopping for the day in the States!  We had a great day together, hit up Bellis Fair mall and loaded up at Target on all our favourite things.  Am so excited that they will be coming to Canada in 2013 and are opening a store at Oakridge Centre, ten minutes from home and right next to where Syd will be going to preschool!

At least once a month I try and get to the states to go to Trader Joe's.  If you have never been, you really have to go!  They have amazing organic food at a fraction of the cost of Capers or Whole Foods in Canada and an assortment of other interesting things that you can't find elsewhere.  Here are a few of my favourite things that I get there:

Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

Need I say more?  They are SO delicious, the perfect sweet treat for a hot summer day or really any day that you feel like you need a chocolate fix with a little less guilt because of the banana inside!

Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

These are the best ready to bake frozen cookies I have ever come across.  They come out of the oven all hot and gooey and everyone always thinks that I made them myself!  They are so perfect to have on hand for those occasions when you have a friend popping by and don't have anything to serve them!  Just pop these babies in the oven, make a pot of tea and you're set!

Tandoori Naan

We love curry in our house and naan bread is one of our favourite things to order when we're out for Indian, but it's really hard to get good naan bread at home.  This stuff is amazing, it's frozen, but warms in the oven for literally two minutes and you'd swear that it came right out of a tandoori oven, soft warm, melt in your mouth, yet thick enough to soak up any curry sauce.  I buy six packages of these at a time, they are awesome!

Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix

I haven't actually tried this before but thought I would include it because I'm sure they are going to be great and are another thing that's perfect to have on hand for those unexpected guests.  I always like to try something new every time I go to Trader Joe's and this was it for today.

All in all a very successful shopping day, got all my errands done and came home with a car loaded down with yummy goodies from Trader Joe's!  God Bless America!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A New Outdoor Toy

One of the presents that we received for Sydney's 1st birthday was a Playskool Step Start Walk and Ride.  This great toy doubles as a ride on as well as a push cart, and was perfect for her just as she was learning to walk.  Problem was, that my friend Sarah had given us one that was very similar, so this one ended up in the storage room in the basement until just the other day.  Sydney and I were playing in the backyard and I thought, 'wouldn't it be great if she had a riding toy out here' and then remembered the Playskool one we had been given for her birthday!

So I pulled it out of the box and much to my shagrin, it required quite a bit of assembly....I mean look at those directions, you'd think I was building a Boeing 747 not a kid's toy on four wheels!  So after about half an hour of figuring out what went where and finding all the pieces that Sydney had hidden away to play with while I was assembling, we had a fully operational walk and ride! 


Sydney loves it, she has been pushing and riding it all over the backyard, it's exactly what she needed out there! 

Monday, 20 June 2011

A Toddler Bed

Sydney has been refusing to sleep in her crib for the past several weeks.  I'm not sure what changed for her, but she has now claimed Mom and Dad's bed as her own for both naps and nighttime. While I do love having her in bed for the extra snuggles, both Paul and I are not getting a great sleep with her wriggling and rolling all night long between us.  I was struggling with what to do to solve the problem until the other night...

I went out to pick up dinner for Paul and I after putting Syd to sleep in our bed and when I came home Paul had converted her crib to a toddler bed.  I have to admit that I wasn't mentally ready for the crib to be gone and got a little teary-eyed thinking that my baby was gone and in her place was a full grown toddler who was capable of getting in and out of bed on her own!

The next morning when Sydney woke up, Daddy took her to her room to see her new bed.  She walked right over to it, grabbed her stuffed giraffe off of it and walked off as though nothing was new.  Over the next few days she gradually got used to climbing in and out of bed and is now sleeping for both her nap and part of the night in it!  Amazing!  Daddy knew what he was doing all along!

Goodbye crib, hello Big Girl Bed!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

Sydney and I have been doing lots of walks through the neighborhood lately.  This time of year is incredibly beautiful with so many flowers blooming in the gardens.  Sydney has just learned to "smell" flowers, it's too cute, I often think of how great it is to have this time with her to, literally, stop and smell the roses! 

Here's a few shots of the gorgeous flowers in our neighbors' gardens:

Last night I hosted a lovely dinner party at Hy's Encore to celebrate Paul's birthday.  It was a fantastic evening shared with his family and friends.   The Flower Factory made the most beautiful centerpieces for the tables, such bright and cheerful colours!  I sent most of them home with different guests at the party but saved one for myself, I have been looking at it and smiling all day long!

One of the guests at the party brought me this gorgeous bouquet of flowers, it was such a lovely surprise from such a thoughtful guest!  I am so enjoying having both the centerpiece and bouquet in my kitchen, the smells and colours are so cheery and bring back the memories of the lovely evening we had celebrating Paul's birthday!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Greek Dinner

I am always looking for quick, easy and healthy dinner recipes to make during the week.  One dinner that I make at least once a week, and is a big hit, is Greek Chicken with Lemon Roasted Potatoes served with rice and steamed broccoli on the side.  It's a great dinner because it can all be made up in advance and popped in the oven when the time is right.  I have a rice cooker with vegetable steaming baskets that fit on top so the rice and broccoli can cook simultaneously too!

Here's the recipes below, enjoy!

Greek Chicken

1/2 cup miracle whip
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 TBSP chicken broth
1 TBSP dried oregano leaves
1.5 tsp black pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up into smaller pieces

Mix all ingredients together except chicken.  Place chicken in a small, shallow baking dish.  Coat chicken well with mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until chicken is cooked.

Lemon Roast Potatoes

4 to 6 potatoes
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried oregano

Whisk all ingredients except potatoes together in a measuring cup.  Peel and wedge potatoes and place in a rectangular baking dish.  Pour mixture over potatoes.  Bake on middle rack of 350 degree oven, uncovered for 1.5 to 2 hours or until all mixture is absorbed by potatoes.  Baste potatoes every 30 minutes with sauce to coat evenly.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Happy Birthday Paul

Yesterday was Paul's birthday.  Every year when I ask him what kind of cake he'd like me to make for him he says "a money cake"!  Did you ever have one when you were a kid, a cake with coins wrapped in wax paper baked into the middle, they were awesome!  Well, being that I had limited time to make a cake this year, Paul got his second favourite, an angel food cake.  I cheated and made one out of the box, it couldn't be easier and was so yummy!  It was a lovely treat with fresh sliced strawberries and kiwis and a dollop of whip cream!

We are having a dinner party with family and friends for Paul this weekend to celebrate but being that Paul's actual birthday fell on a Tuesday evening I thought I should make him a slightly nicer dinner than normal so I made my famous rack of lamb baked on a bed of cherry tomatoes along with baby potatoes, asparagus and orzo on the side.  It was delicious.  We topped it off with a bottle of 2004 Burrowing Owl Merlot which we had gotten when we were at the winery a few years back, it was the perfect pairing with lamb!

All in all it was a very special evening together and we're looking forward to continuing the celebration this weekend with friends and family!