For Kids

Weird But True! Facts to Amaze Your Friends

Disclosure: I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and to post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Throughout my life, I have always had this affinity for weird but true facts.  It’s often been useful when playing trivia games.  On more than one occasion I’ve had people ask me why I even knew those facts, so when Moms Meet asked if I was interested in reviewing some of the National Geographic Kids Weird But True! books with my son, there was no hesitation.

It is the 10th Anniversary of the original Weird But True! series and there are 10 volumes of the series available to share with your family.  In addition to the main series, there are also specialty themed Weird But True! books.  We received the Weird But True! Canada and the Weird But True! Christmas editions of the books.  It has been a while since my son and I have sat together and enjoyed reading a book together.  Normally he wants to read on his own.

Weird But True books

Being so close to the holidays, the boy decided he wanted to read the Weird But True! Christmas edition and learn some facts that he could share with his friends.  One of his favorite holidays facts was a 10-year-old girl (same age as he is) recorded the hit song “I want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” (our favorite Christmas song).  She got one (but donated it to a zoo).

As a true Canadian, I am always interested in learning facts about my country, so I grabbed the Weird But True! Canada edition first.  Did you know that Hawaiian pizza (a pie topped with ham and pineapple) was invented in Chatham, ON?  I grew up not far from Chatham and had no idea.  Another very interesting fact in the book says that it is illegal to climb trees in Oshawa, ON.  When my son heard that fact, his eyes grew very wide and asked “Mommy, does that mean I am going to go to jail?  I’ve climbed a few trees in Oshawa?”  I couldn’t stop laughing and reassured him, he was fine.

Several times now I have found the boy curled up on the couch enjoying these books which is amazing because getting him to read can sometimes be a bit of a struggle.  Anything that gets him happily reading is definitely a winner to me.  And if your looking for some age appropriate and useful content for your kids to enjoy on YouTube, the National Geographic kids channel has a ton of great content.

Weird but true reading

So with the holidays just mere days away, if you are still looking for some great gift ideas that you can enjoy as a family or that will get your child enjoying reading, I would definitely stock up on some Weird But True! fact books.

If your Canadian kids (ages 6-14) have a verifiable weird fact about Canada, their hometown or province, submit it to natgeokids.com/wbtcanada by March 1, 2019 to win some Weird But True! books of your own.

Parenting/Life

Protect your family with First Alert

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by First Alert.

I swear it never fails, if my smoke alarm is going to tell me it’s battery is low, it always decides to do so at 4 o’clock in the morning.   And as much as this is a terrible annoyance, I guess it is peace of mind that the detector has been working and keeping myself and my son safe.  When these alarms go off, the temptation is often there to just take out the battery and replace it whenever you get around to it or just leaving it unplugged.  I know I’ve been there.  However, knowing that according to the Canadian National Fire Information Database, 80% of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, often due to missing alarm batteries or expire alarms.

In addition to your smoke detector, you should also have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your home as well.  Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible odorless and colorless gas that can be produced by any fuel-burning device such as a furnace, boiler, stove or car.  With the cooler weather upon us and it’s soon going to be time to switch the heat on in your home, now more than ever is it important to ensure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home as these alarms are the only way to detect and protect your family from this poisonous gas.

With October being Fire Prevention Month, it is a good time to check your home alarms to ensure your alarms are working properly and have not expired and needing to be replaced.   If you can’t remember or don’t know how old an alarm is, it is best to replace the entire unit.  It’s suggested that you replace the batteries every six months and an easy way to remember to do this is when you turn your clocks ahead/back for Daylight Savings Time.

Recently, there has been a great advancement in alarm technology with the development of new 10-year sealed battery alarms.  With these 10-year sealed battery alarms, there is no longer a need to remember to replace the batteries for the life of the alarms.  And this also eliminates the risk of every having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.  It is still suggested that you test your alarm every six months, but it does eliminate to unwanted 4 am wake up calls.

First Alert has both a 10-year battery Smoke Alarm but a 10-year battery Carbon Monoxide alarm available for your home.  The Smoke Alarm is a low-profile alarm that uses the most advance smoke sensor – providing the highest level of smoke detection while minimizing false alarms.  The First Alert Smoke Alarm is half the size of a standard smoke alarm, the detector has a slim, contemporary design with a low profile for easy integration into any home decor.

First Alert Fire

The First Alert 10-year battery Carbon Monoxide Alarm with digital display, uses and electrochemical carbon monoxide senor – the most accurate technology available – and emits a loud alarm is CO levels are detected at dangerous levels.  Design to sit attractively on a tabletop or dresses, this stylish alarm also displays ambient temperature while protecting from CO exposure.

First Alert CO

Every year we hear about fire related and carbon monoxide poisoning deaths each year that could have possibly been avoided if only working alarms were in place in the home.  More than 1/3 of Canadian homes doe not have a CO detector installed and 67% of Canadian report they they do not replace their alarm alarm batteries every six months.  All it takes is a few moments to check and replace batteries or replace outdated alarms to protect you and your family’s safety.

Is your home in need of a new First Alert 10-Year Battery Smoke Alarm and 10-Year Battery Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display?  Head over to my Instagram post to enter to a First Alert prize pack.

First Alert both

Recipes

Seriously Good Freezer Meals – a review

For me, meal planning is the only way to go.  Not only does it keep me on track with my eating but it also keeps me on track with my budget.  And some evenings, scheduling doesn’t allow me an hour or so to prep a meal so having a few ready to go freezer meals on hand is really, really helpful.  I often scour the internet for new and delicious recipes but I have to admit I am a sucker for a good old fashion cookbook.

I love flipping through pages of recipes especially when they have lots of photos of the finished products.  I am usually more drawn to recipes that I can see what I am going to be eating in the end.  When I got my copy of “Seriously Good Freezer Meals” by Karrie Truman, it had everything I wanted all in one book.  This is Karrie’s first cookbook is the proud owner of the blog Happy MoneySaver.

Cover Freezer Meals
Courtesy of Seriously Good Freezer Meals: 150 Easy Recipes to Save Your Time, Money & Sanity by Karrie Truman © 2017 http://www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.
Image credit: Charity Burggraaf

What I really liked about this book is not only does it include the instructions on how to prepare meals for you to eat immediately but it also includes the instructions on how to prepare it in advance and put it in the freezer to use in the future.  It’s not just cooking it and throwing the leftovers in the freezer.

If you wanted to prepare a bunch of freezer meals all in one batch, it has instructions/menus for 7, 30 and even 50 meals including shopping lists and time saving tips.  It is a meal preppers dream.  And for someone like myself who has never done batch meal preps for the freezer there is so much amazing information about how to freeze, what you can freeze and tips about thawing and preparing frozen foods that until now I had no idea about.

There is a wide range of recipes from breakfasts, appetizers, desserts and of course, main dishes.  There are so many of the recipes that I want to try and it has definitely given me the push to buy a standalone freezer as my current freezer is much to small to hold a lot of freezer meals.  And I definitely want to take a day and make a bunch of meals at once to make meal time much easier for myself in the months ahead.  This recipe book is a must-have for busy families!

Here’s a taste of a few of the amazing recipes you will find in this book.  (All recipes are courtesy of Seriously Good Freezer Meals: 150 Easy Recipes to Save Your Time, Money & Sanity by Karrie Truman © 2017 www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.)

Lemon Dill Tilapia Tacos

Tacos Freezer Meals
Courtesy of Seriously Good Freezer Meals: 150 Easy Recipes to Save Your Time, Money & Sanity by Karrie Truman © 2017 http://www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.
Image credit: Charity Burggraaf

Makes 6 servings.

1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter

1/4 cup (60 mL) chicken broth

Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

11/2 tsp (7 mL) dried dill

1/2 tsp (2 mL) minced garlic

2 lbs (1 kg) skinless tilapia fillets (about six 6 oz/175 g pieces)

To serve

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil

12 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas, warmed

Toppings

1 cup (250 mL) shredded lettuce

1 cup (250 mL) canned or cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

1/4 cup (60 mL) salsa or pico de gallo (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill and garlic.
  2. Place marinade mixture and tilapia fillets in a gallon-size (4 L) freezer bag or bowl. (Label the bag if freezing for later.) Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, or cover bowl. Transfer to refrigerator to marinate for 15 minutes.

Make It Now Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Drizzle olive oil over a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to oven while it preheats. Once oven is preheated, remove baking sheet from oven, add fillets and return it to oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until fish is flaky and lightly crisped on the edges. Remove from oven and chop into chunks. Arrange tortillas on a work surface. Evenly divide fish and lettuce, plus beans and salsa (if using), among tortillas. Serve.

Make It a Freezer Meal Freeze bag.

Thaw and Cook Place bag in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours to thaw. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Drizzle olive oil over a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to oven while it preheats. Once oven is preheated, remove baking sheet from oven, add fillets and return it to oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until fish is flaky and lightly crisped on the edges. Remove from oven and chop into chunks. Arrange tortillas on a work surface. Evenly divide fish and lettuce, plus beans and salsa, if using, among tortillas. Serve.

Tip: You can also make a dilly sauce, if desired. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tsp (10 mL) cornstarch and the marinade from the bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Build your tacos and then drizzle a little lemon dill sauce overtop.

Chicken Tortellini Soup

ChickenTortellini Freezer Meals
Courtesy of Seriously Good Freezer Meals: 150 Easy Recipes to Save Your Time, Money & Sanity by Karrie Truman © 2017 http://www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.
Image credit: Charity Burggraaf

Makes 6 servings.

6 cups (1.5 L) chicken broth

1 celery stalk, diced

11/2 cups (375 mL) frozen diced carrots or sliced fresh carrots, blanched

1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried rosemary

1 tbsp (15 mL) dried parsley

2 cups (500 mL) chopped cooked chicken breast

2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen cheese tortellini (about 71/2 oz/215 g)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnishes

Minced freshly parsley (optional)

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

 

Make it Now In a large pot, combine chicken broth, celery, carrots, rosemary and parsley. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-high and boil for 5 minutes, until carrots and celery are tender. Add chicken and tortellini; season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes (7 to 8 minutes for frozen tortellini), until tortellini are tender and filling is hot. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with pepper and parsley and thyme, if using.

Make It a Freezer Meal In a labeled gallon-size (4 L) freezer bag, combine chicken broth, celery, carrots, rosemary and parsley. Seal, removing as much air as possible. Place chicken and tortellini in another labeled gallon-size freezer bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible. Place both bags together as a kit, seal and freeze.

Thaw and Cook Place bags in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours to thaw. Pour contents of broth bag into a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-high and boil for 5 minutes, until carrots and celery are tender. Add chicken and tortellini; season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until tortellini are tender and filling is hot. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with pepper and parsley and thyme, if using.

 

Molten Hot Fudge Lava Cakes

Lava Cakes Freezer Meals
Courtesy of Seriously Good Freezer Meals: 150 Easy Recipes to Save Your Time, Money & Sanity by Karrie Truman © 2017 http://www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.
Image credit: Charity Burggraaf

Cakes

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp (3 mL) baking powder

3/4 tsp (3 mL) baking soda

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

11/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla extract

Additional unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Ganache Filling

1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy or whipping (35%) cream

1/2 cup (125 mL) milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup (125 mL) bittersweet (dark) chocolate chips

 

  1. Cakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer), combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; beat together on Low for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the motor running, add eggs, milk and vanilla, then slowly add butter mixture. Increase speed to Medium and beat for about 1 minute, until combined (batter will be thin).
  4. Grease 6 cavities of 2 silicone 4-cavity fluted mini cake pans (1 cup/250 mL capacity per cavity) and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Place prepared pans on a baking sheet. Pour batter into prepared cavities until half full (leave the other two empty).
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Ganache Filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream almost to a boil. Remove from heat. Add milk chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips; stir until melted. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Using a spoon, drizzle half the chocolate mixture over cakes. Set aside remaining mixture to cool until thick and smooth, about 30 minutes.
  8. Using a piping bag, pipe chocolate mixture into insides of cakes, leaving a dollop of chocolate on top. (You can also do this with a spoon.)

Make It Now Place each cake on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave, one at a time, on High for 20 to 30 seconds, until chocolate is bubbling out the top. Serve hot.

Make It a Freezer Meal Place filled cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until solid. Remove from freezer. Wrap each cake in plastic wrap, then place cakes in 2 labeled gallon-size (4 L) freezer bags. Seal, removing as much air as possible, and freeze.

Reheat Remove cakes from freezer and remove plastic wrap. Place each cake on a microwave-safe plate and, one at a time, microwave on High for 45 seconds, until chocolate is bubbling out the top. Serve hot.

 

Parenting/Life

Fall to Sleep with a MediFlow Waterbase Pillow

Disclosure:  Although items in the post were provided to me, all comments, opinions and photos are strictly mine.

I am the worst sleeper ever.  It takes me forever to fall asleep, I toss and turn constantly, I am always having to adjust my pillow and am either too hot or too cold.  And if there is a bit of noise, I am instantly awake.

Over the years, I have tried everything to help me sleep better, even medications.  Sadly, I find that most of those make me more wired than anything else.  So when I was asked to try the MediFlow Floating Comfort Waterbase Pillow, I have to say I was pretty skeptical but was definitely curious about the concept of having a water based pillow.

Pillow in Package

Now this is going to age me, but I remember as a kid, sleeping over a friends in their waterbed (yup, remember those?) and finding those some of the best sleeps I would have.  So knowing this, I was anxious to see how the pillow worked for me.

The pillow has 3 layers to it, on top, there is a layer of soft CombedLoft™ Fiber, than a thermal insulator that surrounds the water layer and then of course, the water layer.  The pillow arrives with the water layer empty and you fill it up to your desired firmness.   I like a fairly firm pillow so I had to try it out each night and added water accordingly.

Pillow water valve

I normally use 2 pillows (and even 3 if I have a cold and my sinuses are blocked up) but I decided to try the pillow on it’s own.  Having the support of the water layer for my neck, I didn’t feel like I need an extra pillow at all.  I can say that I have seen an improvement in my sleep with this pillow and more than anything else, I have found that my neck isn’t as still in the morning as it has been in the past.  Also, I find it keep my head at a comfortable temperature.  I often will flip my pillows in the night because me head gets too hot.

Pillow Sleeping

If there is anything that I can say about this pillow that is a bit off, is that I haven’t mastered getting the air out of the water pocket as it is described in the instructions and the water does slosh around a bit when I move it.  It’s nothing that is very disruptive, just something that I notice and definitely doesn’t prevent me from using the pillow.

And of course, my son had to give it a try as well.  He tends to be a bit of a snorer when he has a stuffy nose and I found when he tried it (and just so happened to have a cold), he didn’t make that nasally snoring noise when he slept.  Something tells me, I am going to need to get another one of these pillows as someone is trying to take claim over it.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Local dining at it’s best at Bistro 67

Disclosure:  Although items in this post were provided to me, all opinions, comments are strictly mine.

There is nothing better than finding that local hidden gem of a restaurant that is close by and has the most amazing food.  I recently found that a Bistro 67.  Last Thursday, I joined a few of my favorite local bloggers for the Wine and Cheese night and was definitely not disappointed.  In fact, I am looking to go back there again soon.

Bistro 67

Bistro 67 is located within Durham College’s award-winning W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF).  Meals are prepared by students in the college culinary program and the food is either grown in their very own gardens or sourced locally in the Durham region.

Bistro 67 inside

The Wine and Cheese meal included a choice of Creekside white or red wine.  I am not a seasoned wine drinker but I thoroughly enjoyed the white and will be trying it again.  The cheese board included pickled beets, garlic scapes, a raspberry compote, a spicy feta just to name a few.  It came paired with the most amazing freshly made bread.  The Wine and Cheese Thursdays are held from 11am until 8pm includes 2 glasses of the wine for only $25 plus taxes.  An amazing meal high quality dinner for such an affordable night out price.

Bistro 67 wine and cheese

After we enjoyed almost every morsel, we took a tour of the gardens and were able to see the wide array of produce grown literally next door to the restaurant.  From fork to field in mere steps.

Upon our return to the restaurant, we were give a tour of the kitchen by Executive Chef Raul Sojo and were able to see where all the magic happens.  The students were very enthusiastic to welcome us and answer any questions that we had.

As we passed by this large pot of corn cooking, we were asked if we would like to have a sample once it was ready.  I was excited to have a taste of field fresh corn.  When it was brought out, it was topped with a chipotle aioli, lime, Feta, cilantro.  One word to describe it – amazing.  So many wonderful flavors in each bite.

And what is a meal without dessert?  We all shared a gluten-free cake that was delicious.  With bellies full and being treated to the most amazing service, we were sad to leave but vowed to return soon.  With harvest season upon us, I am looking forward to returning to see what the students create with the bounty from their gardens.

Bistro 67 has been rated as  a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant and also holds a Feast ON designation in recognition of its use of local food and beverage. It is open Tuesday – Fridays for lunch and Tuesdays – Saturday for dinner and open year round not just during the school year.  Although reservations are not required, I would recommend making a reservation so that you aren’t disappointed.

 

For Kids · Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Ready, Aim, Fire with Low Impact Paintball

As my son is getting older, I was starting to feel like we had outgrown a lot of the typical party locations in our area.  I wanted something different that the kids would enjoy and have them active to burn off their boundless energy.  When I discovered Low Impact Paintball, I knew this would be a perfect option for my son.

When kids these days seem to love the shoot’em style video games, paintball can somewhat bring the games to life.  However, when I first envisioned paintball, my first reaction was “No Way! That is going to hurt them way too much!”   But then I was told about the low impact version.  Instead of using the normal size ball that are typically used, they use a smaller caliber paintball that takes less impact to explode and therefore, less of a sting.    I know in the past my son has mentioned paintball to me, but at that point I knew he was much to young.  Now with the low impact kids 8 years of age or older are permitted to play.

Low Impact Paintball can be found at many of your local Paintball locations and have party packages available for birthdays or just a general group get togethers.  Our group descended on Defcon Paintball, not to far from us, and the boys were ready for some fun.

Of course, they were ready to play immediately and couldn’t wait to get started.  However, the staff made them go through quite an extensive training and review of all the rules and regulations.  It was implicitly implied that if the rules were broken, they would be immediately removed from the game.  As a Mom, I was very impressed with the time they took to ensure the kids knew these rules and how important it was for their safety.

After suited up and helmets were on, the boys were ready to go.  They could barely contain their excitement.

I was able to slip on a helmet myself and sneak in to get a look a the playing area and see the boys in action.  This was an indoor park and they had it well designed for the kids to get into the action and play.

There were a few points where some of the kids were taken aback initially by the impact of the paintball but I think it was a great learning experience for them.  When they play video games, they don’t get the actual ramifications of the shooting they are doing.  This made things much clearer to them.  My son and I actually had quite a conversation about this on the way home.

The boys flew threw a good allotment of their paintballs in their first round of play but once they understood that they didn’t have an unlimited supply of ammunition, they were much more methodical about how and when they shot.  It was neat to see them talk strategy with each other. By the end, they were quite worn out from all the running around they had to do and were ready for the pizza and snacks waiting for them in the party room. 

They were disappointed that they could go back in after they had some more fuel in their stomachs.  Most commented immediately that they wanted to come back again soon.  I was really happy to hear this as it is always the sign of a good party.   I would definitely recommend parents’ check out their local paintball park as an option for their next party location.

Disclosure:  Although items in the post were provided to me, all comments, opinions and photos are my own.