Going Greek! Part 2

Nothing compliments a Greek salad more than a delicious gyro. I love this scrumptious chicken marinade. I was a bit disappointed when I asked my husband to pop the chicken on the BBQ/grill shortly before dinner and he informed me we were out of propane. Yikes! I ended up broiling them in the oven and they were still very good, but the grill would have been awesome….next time, I guess.

Gyros with Greek Chicken

I found this recipe on Cooking Classy and it both looked and sounded delicous. I generally follow a recipe closely the first time around and then “tweak” it,  if necessary. This marinade recipe was quite different than any I had tried before and so I really didn’t change a thing. Now, after having made it once, I feel there is no need to. It was very good as is.

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used freshly squeezed)
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Place chicken in a ziploc bag. Pour marinade over the chicken and seal the bag while pressing out excess air. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for 2 to 4 hours. Remove the bag from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling. Allow to rest at room temperature (in marinade) for the last 30 minutes of marinating time.
  2. Brush the grill grates lightly with oil and preheat the grill over a moderately high heat. Once hot, add chicken and grill until cooked through (165 degrees). Rotate once half way through cooking. Remove from the BBQ and transfer to a plate. Brush the chicken lightly with olive oil and then cover with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into strips.
  3. Assemble the gyros by laying chicken across the centre of a flatbread and then layering the toppings. Wrap it up and serve. You can serve it with extra Tzatziki sauce, if you wish.

Gyro Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Greek Pita Flatbread
  • Tzatziki Sauce
  • diced Roma tomatoes
  • peeled and diced cucumbers
  • chopped Romaine lettuce
  • diced red onions
  • feta cheese
  • fresh cilantro
  • Kalamata olives (optional)

I have to admit, by the time dinner was ready we were in a mad scramble to pick-up Eden from volleyball practise and get Shay to his hockey try-outs. I can’t wait to make these gyros again, on a day when we can slow down and enjoy them in a fashion that doesn’t cause me indigestion. They were really delicious, but I had to gobble dinner down so fast that the enjoyment was lost in the tummy ache that followed. Ugh.

Stay tuned in for the delicious homemade Tzatkiki Sauce recipe that will be up later this week.


Going Greek! Part 1

I really love Greek food and although I have tried a few recipes over the years, I was never really that happy with the results. Well, this past week, I decided to “Go Greek” and try out some new recipes. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised and loved them all! Our meal consisted of:

  • Greek Salad
  • Gyros with Greek Marinated Chicken
  • Tzatziki Sauce

Although I only made three dishes, it was quite a bit of work simply because there was lots of chopping to do. I needed chopped veggies for both the salad and for adding to the gyros. I decided to chop everything I needed and make a tray up earlier in the day. I then just added the veggies to the salad and gyros from the previously prepared tray. This certainly made dinner time much easier.

Yummy Greek Salad:

I am one of those people that prefer my Greek salad with Romain lettuce. This recipe is really all about the dressing! It was a “restaurant hack” and that’s probably why is tastes much like one that would be served when having dinner out. The flavour is great and I will definitely be making it often. As for the actual salad, I used the following:

  • Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
  • tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes because I had them on hand, but otherwise I would have bought cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • Kalamata olives
  • avocado, chopped (add right before serving)
  • cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • pepper, chopped (I used yellow and red because I had them both on hand)
  • Feta (I honestly can’t even believe this, but I completely forgot to add my favourite ingredient because it was the one and only thing that I had not put on my tray. I thought I was so well prepared and it wasn’t until I finished my salad that I realized I had completely forgotten to take the feta out of the fridge. Dam.)

Greek Salad Dressing:

This recipe was adapted from Danielle’s recipe that I found on All Recipe’s. The recipe makes a huge batch because it is an actual restaurant recipe. I originally divided it by 12, but still felt it was too much. I took my 1/12 recipe and then halved that. So, if my math serves me correct….I made 1/24 of the original recipe. I only wanted enough for the dinner salad in case I didn’t like it. In the end, I had more than enough for the salad and enough left over for another smaller salad. Here is my scaled down version of the original recipe.


Pampered Chef Sliding Measuring Spoons

2/3 tsp. is a bit tricky. I was so glad I have these sliding measuring spoons from Pampered Chef!

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar


Mix all of the ingredients together (with the exception of the vinegar). Once mixed, add the vinegar and mix vigorously until the ingredients are well blended. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

Change that Inner Voice: “I’m Enough!”

Like most women, I often look in the mirror and am immediately drawn in by the flaws I see. You know the bags under my eyes, my aging skin, the blemishes, the extra 5 pounds, etc. So often, as women, we seem to have blinders on when it comes to our own self-concept. We have difficulty recognizing, let alone celebrating our own attributes. We are so much more than these “body suits” we wear ~ we have an inner strength and beauty that makes us shine from the inside out. How do you feel when you look in the mirror? I love the message of this empowering video….”I’m Enough!

Pat’s Delicious Oven Stew with Dumplings

stew and dumplings

You may notice that I used baby potatoes in this stew. I usually just peel and chop regular potatoes, but i had these on hand and it was super easy because I didn’t even peel them. Wash and add.

It’s my day off today and I decided to make one of my favourite stew recipes. It was given to me several years ago by, Pat, a great family friend and my spiritual Mama! She was one of my mom’s closest friends and has always been there for me since my mom passed away over 15 years ago. I love this recipe because it is quite different from the traditional brown stew my mom served when we were growing up. I loved my mom’s stew as well, but I was intrigued by the flavour in this tomato based stew.

Pat’s Oven Stew Recipe:

  • 2 lbs. of stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, puréed (I use one 28 oz. tin because we by this size bulk at Costco)
  • 2 Tablespoons of beef bouillon mix
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (or to taste)
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Mrs. Dash (regular) or pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Vegetables of your choice, peeled and chopped  (potatoes, turnip, celery, onions, carrots)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • Optional: 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place the puréed tomatoes in the bottom of a roaster.
  3. Put the stewing beef on top and stir to cover. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir.
  4. Cover the roaster and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the vegetables, stir and cover. Cook another 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If the vegetables are done before the two hours are up, remove them from the oven.)
  6. Dissolve the bouillon mix in 1 cup of boiling water.
  7. Place a colander into a large bowl. Drain the juice into this bowl; add the sugar and beef bouillon mix to the juices. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
  8. Set the drained meat and veggies to the side.
  9. Make a roux with the flour and melted butter in another pot. Slowly add the juice. Cook and stir until you have a nice gravy.
  10. Add the vegetables and meat into the gravy mixture. Stir and serve.

I love this recipe and wouldn’t adjust a thing. However, I did come across a similar recipe one time that included BBQ sauce. I decided to mix it in with the tomatoes and it was a nice addition, so I included it as an option. Either way is delicious!


Dumplings are the selling feature in my family. My kids absolutely love them and they are pretty easy to make. My recipe comes from my Grade 7 Home Economics cookbook “Recipes for Young Adults”. I have to say, I still use several recipes from that book.


  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk or water (I use milk)

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the butter and crumble by rubbing it with the flour between your hands. Slowly add the milk (or water) and mix. Drop by spoonfuls onto the top of the stew. (I usually get 4 blobs from one batch, but I always double it because my family loves stew and dumplings.) Cover. Place in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  Don’t lift the cover during cooking. I don’t worry about the stew over cooking. I just crank it up for the last 10 minutes and it seems fine. The dumplings rise beautifully and are a yummy addition to any stew. (If you are making a stove top stew, just cook the same way – drop on stew, cover and cook for 10 minutes or so.)



Schools Back and So are the Head Lice!

After teaching in an early years classroom for more than 20 years and being the mom of two, I consider myself pretty lucky that I’ve never had a personal encounter with head lice. That’s not to say I don’t deal with it in my job periodically. School has just begun and already the little critters have made themselves known. Yuck!

An article in the Washington Post states:

In a typical infestation, there are more nits than bugs since an adult louse will lay an average of five to 10 eggs a day and a newborn female needs only 10 days to become a mom. So the family tree grows quickly.

Although lice are no respecter of persons, school age children are most prone to them because they are more likely to be involved in activities in which transmission may occur.

Facts and Common Misconceptions Regarding Head Lice:

  • Lice can’t jump or fly. They crawl from one host to another and are generally passed via head to head contact or sharing of items such as hats, hair brushes, pillows, bedding, etc.
  • Lice thrive in hair. They do not care if the hair is long or short, blond or brunette, clean or dirty. They live on blood from the scalp and hair makes a great hiding place.  (I get creeped out just thinking about it!)
  • Lice lay eggs called nits which are sticky and attach themselves to hair follicles. Regular shampoo will not kill or remove nits or lice.
  • Lice can live up to 2 days without a host/source of food.
  • Lice can only be eliminated through the use of an effective hair treatment, combing out the nits and a thorough cleaning of all items that the “source” may have had contact with.
  • Although an itchy scalp is a symptom, there can be other reasons for an itchy scalp. Likewise, some people can have a full infestation and not have an itchy scalp!
  • Both nits and lice can be seen by the naked eye.

Dealing with Contamination:

  1. Treat the “hosts” hair by either purchasing commercial products or using a natural treatment. Continue to check for lice and nits daily until no more are found. You may need several treatments depending on the effectiveness of the product you are using.
  2. You must comb the nits out of the hair section by section with a lice comb. This can be a very time consuming process depending on the length and thickness of the hair.
  3. Vacuum all areas the “host” has come into contact with (including the car seat).
  4. Wash bedding, towels and clothing in HOT water and dry in a HOT dryer.

One of the concerns regarding treatment is that some lice are now developing an immunity to some of the pesticides/chemicals used in treatment shampoos and are rendering some ineffective. There are many different suggestions for products and remedies online ~ both natural and more chemically based. Whichever remedy you opt for, be very cautious and thorough in doing daily checks to ensure the treatment has worked. A lice problem can quickly get out of control when someone feels they have cleaned and treated properly, but then stop doing regular checks.

Although I’ve never personally encountered the little pests, I have tea tree oil in my medicine cabinet at home. It is a recommended home remedy for treating lice and I bought it as a precaution when there was an infestation in my classroom a few years back. I didn’t know this, but a student’s mom recently suggested adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular shampoo as a great way to help prevent lice. Like any product, some people may have an allergic reaction to the oil and many “medical” sites suggest that there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment. Besides this essential oil remedy, I also found some articles suggesting that lice are repelled by peppermint.

I’m certainly not a doctor, but I can’t imagine the chemical treatments are really that great for anyone. The bottom line is that no one wants to be saddled with an infestation of lice. Perhaps being proactive and adding a few drops of tea tree oil each time you shampoo your child’s hair might be a great option, especially if you know there are cases in your child’s classroom.  The oil has a wicked smell and I did not enjoy using it, the one and only time I did a preventative treatment, but a few drops may even go unnoticed. As for the application of tea tree oil as a treatment, there are several different recommendations for how to apply it and how long to leave it on. I think I applied it right to my scalp (I don’t really remember). Others suggest using it is as one ingredient in a “natural concoction” which may in fact dilute the potency, if someone is already playing “host” to the pests. I’m not really sure? The same mom also said that someone suggested spraying mouthwash on their hair before school. I wasn’t sure why that would work, but after reading about the peppermint, perhaps it is the peppermint flavoured mouthwash that would help to repel them?

It seems like the jury is still out on this issue, but at the very least I would be diligently checking my child’s hair until the issue is resolved. I’m not sure about the policy in other school divisions, but in our school we are required to send a note home to all families to inform them if there is a case of lice in the classroom. Out of respect for all of the other children and families, please make sure you tell the school office (as well as family/friends), if you find your child has lice. By informing the school, we can help to ensure other families are checking their children as well and hopefully prevent the spread.

The video at the top of the page is from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. She has two great posts about lice and shares her personal experience with a home remedy treatment. She had good success with a Neem oil shampoo, but for the full story, check out her posts.  She recommends placing combs and brushes in the hot dishwasher for cleaning and also suggests using a high heat setting on the blow dryer ~ lice hate heat. Great ideas Kelli!

Final Words of Wisdom:

Many years ago, one of the classrooms in our school had a lice out break. Like most parents, everyone was a bit paranoid and wanted to avoid infestation at all costs. One particular child arrived at school with her mom, who was in a flap about the lice. As a preventative measure, she had cut off a pair of panty hose and pulled them over her daughter’s head like a hat. She insisted her child wear this “contraption” until the “scare” passed. Luckily, the students were young enough that the kids just took the odd-looking hat in stride and really didn’t make a big deal out of it. For the adults in the building, it was a bit of a “tongue in cheek” situation…if you know what I mean. I think the stigma of wearing your mother’s cut-off pantyhose draped over your head far out weighs the stigma of getting lice….but that’s just my opinion. I must say, it is one of those stories you just won’t ever forget. Too funny!!

Remember contracting lice is not indicative of your family hygiene. Anyone can become infected!

“Thinking of You” Gift Ideas

My friend Michelle told me that she often makes “loaves” as gifts for teachers. Evidently Michael’s sells miniature loaf pans throughout the Christmas season and if you watch for them to go on sale after Christmas, you can pick them up for very little cost. She stocks up each year after Christmas for the following year. I think it is a brilliant idea, but I haven’t yet “cashed” in on the great after Christmas loaf pan sales, so I was pretty excited when I found a set of 6 cardboard loaf pans for sale at Dollarama. I figured I would pick some up and make some zucchini bread with the huge zucchini my neighbour gave me…thanks Kelli! I made a double batch of the recipe and it made 7 pans. The loaves are quite small, but cute. The pans seemed to work well, but I did find the cardboard had enough”give” that the loaves expanded slightly in width, as well as height (when they rose). No big deal, but perhaps not a perfectly formed domed-top and symmetrical shape.

To dress up the loaves for delivery, I just used scalloped scissors to trim the edges of freezer paper (like parchment). I then put a ribbon, cover wire tie and tag on to finish it off. This was super easy and quick to do. The tag was simply a stamped apple that I cut out. The kids took them to their teachers. Of course, baking is always a great gift. My neighbour Jen brought a loaf over the other day and it was such a treat to have fresh baking in the house during my first week back to school! So thoughtful.

If you like to bake, I would suggest picking up some of these next time your at the dollar store. I think I’ll always keep some on hand. I can’t wait to share the awesome pumpkin loaf I discovered last year! If you find yourself down about the cold weather and the end of summer, beat the blues by doing something kind for someone else!

Stained White T-shirt Upcycle: Sharpie Tie-Dye

My daughter has an older white t-shirt that still fits her, but she obviously spilled something down the front and it’s now stained. I saw this cute idea on Pinterest and thought it would be fun to do. I had done “Sharpie Tie-Dyed” t-shirt scarves with the girls at one of Eden’s birthday parties and they turned out pretty cool. I loved the idea of using the Sharpies to draw a simple picture instead of making random marks. What better time to try it out, than on an otherwise useless t-shirt with stains down the front. Of course, I strategically placed the flowers to mask the stains.

I got the idea from the link above, but in the tutorial it suggests using Hydrogen Peroxide. I’m not suggesting it doesn’t work, but I used rubbing alcohol for this project. I’m certainly no chemist, but I went with the alcohol because I knew it would work well from other projects I’ve done. The alcohol takes a bit of time to absorb into the fabric and the colours will continue to spread long after you finish dropping the alcohol. I suggest using an “eye dropper” if you have one. You also want to make sure you do a bit at a time or it will spread like crazy. Second Chances By Susan also has some really cute examples. This is a great craft to do with kids, but it can be smelly. Make sure you work in a well ventilated area or better yet….outside. I worked so fast that the smell wasn’t an issue, but the girls at the party spent a long time using the markers and then the rubbing alcohol. I was feeling a bit concerned about the fumes, so just be aware.

Some suggest that you can also set the design/dye, by throwing your garment in the dryer for 15 minutes on your highest heat setting. I would still wash it separately the first time…. just to be safe.

Blue Jean Upcycle: Funky Lined Denim Lunch Bag

Have you ever had one of those pairs of jeans that you just can’t let go of?

Well, I have this one pair of jeans that I bought about 10 years ago and I just can’t seem to let them go. They were a snug fit at the top with a flared leg. I loved those jeans so much, but like many of the jeans that I’ve owned, it didn’t take long before the bottoms started to get tattered. I wore those suckers until the bottom seams actually tore away from the leg and formed a loop that caused me to trip if I wasn’t careful. It came to the point where I simply could not wear them without risking falling on my face or at the very least looking like I was in dire need of a shopping trip. Not being one to give up easily, I decided that I could continue to wear my favourite jeans if I cut them into shorts. Needless to say, they soon became my “go to” shorts. As my favourite shorts, I got lots of wear out of them, but they too began to show signs of wearing.  The denim in the upper thigh area began to thin and once again, I feared the worst. As the denim weakened and the threads began to break, a small hole developed. At first I was worried about the wearing denim, but I actually grew to consider myself pretty lucky since others were now paying top dollar to purchase torn jeans from the store. I figured these suckers had to be pretty valuable, as this hole was not machine made, but rather worn through the natural process of wear and tear. I sported that hole with pride until the day it caught on something as I walked by. In an instant, the funky worn look was replaced with an “L” shaped rip. I’m embarrassed to say that I was really upset when it happened. It’s bad enough when you get a stain or ruin any article of clothing, but these jeans and I….we had a history. I was so disappointed and mad at myself for not being more careful. I know that sounds totally ridiculous, but I just didn’t have another pair of jeans that fit like those ones. Feeling defeated, I decided I had to try to do something to restore what was left of my poor old jeans. I decided to cut out a heart shaped patch to sew over the hole. Certainly not ideal, but this would allow me to hide my thigh that now seemed way too exposed for my comfort. I think that was about 2 or three years ago and I’m happy to say, my jean shorts live on. Obviously, I wear them at home more than anywhere else, but I continue to love the comfort they deliver each time I slip them on. (I also love the reliable feedback they never fail to give me ~ somedays its like they are screaming at me “EAT SALAD!”)

blue jean shorts

You may be thinking this is where this love story ends, but not so. Of course, years ago, when I cut the legs off those jeans, I packed them away in my fabric tub. So this fall when I wanted to make myself a funky denim lunch bag….guess what I dug out? You got it….I upcylced those cut-off legs into a new lunch bag!

blue jean lunch bag
blue jean lunch bagYou will notice that the bag has one of the chalkboard tags from yesterday’s post. (Also, when doing my final edit, I realized I missed a step. I finished the bottom of the floral bag in the same way I did the denim bag in steps 5 to 7.)

Counter Top Swatch Upcycle: Chalkboard Tags

counter top samplesI’ve had a string of counter top swatches hanging in my storage room at school for what seems like forever. I want to say I was given these (or picked them up from a home store – don’t remember how I got them) about 20 years ago. I’ve only used a couple of them over the years, but could never part with them because I was certain there was a project they’d be perfect for ….I just couldn’t seem to figure out what it was. Well, I finally did!

When I was preparing for back to school this year, I was making some little pots to hold my “leader of the day” sticks. I wanted to put a tag on each of the pots to distinguish between my morning and afternoon classes, and it suddenly dawned on me that the samples I’d been hoarding (I mean saving) for all these years would be perfect.

Counter Top Swatch Upcycle:

This has got to be the simplest project in the history of upcyles! Here’s what you need:

  • formica/arborite counter top swatches (smooth finish)
  • black chalkboard spray paint
  • spray paint (optional)
  1. Lay the swatches down in a “spray safe zone”. (You don’t want dust floating around or off spray ruining anything. I do all of my spray painting in my DIY spray tent which was made from a garage sale garment storage bag.)
  2. Paint one side of the swatch.
  3. Let them dry and then flip them over and spray the other side. (I used chalkboard paint on both sides, but of course, you could leave the original formica colour as is and just paint the back with your chalkboard paint, or use a colour of your choice to paint the reverse side.)

Marvy Garden MarkerAfter the swatches are dry, you can use chalk or something more permanent to write on your chalkboard tag. Depending on the project and how much the label will be handled, I often use my White Marvy Garden Marker for projects in which I want a “chalk look”, but the durability of paint/marker. These garden markers come in different sizes and colours, but I generally use the 6mm white marker. It goes on like paint, but has a chalk kind of look.  (I bought my Marvy at Michael’s, but I found something similar on Amazon called the Bistro Chalk Marker.)

You could also use acrylic paint to decorate the edges of your tag(s) with dots or swirls. The uses for these durable chalkboard tags are endless:  lunch bags, backpacks, basket tags, gift tags, etc. I honestly have at least 60 of these hanging on a string in my classroom storage area. I’m so glad I hang on to them! I’m going to bring them all home to paint.

If you’d like to find some counter top samples for yourself, I would suggest contacting home stores. They often have new lines of product and are getting rid of their old samples. If they don’t have anything available at that time, they might be willing to hang on to old samples for you. If you find a little “mom and pop” type store, they might even call you when they have some. Companies are constantly providing their retail outlets with new product/colour samples, so even after all these years, I think you should be able to get your hands on some.

I’m so excited about this simple project. I’m sure you’ll be seeing these chalkboard tags in many of my upcoming projects!

Over-sized T-shirt Upcycle

I finally took the time to order business cards for my blog, as I was really wishing I had some earlier in the summer when I started my Manitoba Stay-Cation theme. I’m really happy with the finished look of the cards and when I ordered, Vista Print offered t-shirts with the same logo for a mere $6.50. I couldn’t resist ordering myself a top as well. I can’t stand a t-shirt that is too small and wasn’t really sure about the sizes, so ended up ordering one that is way too big for me. Although I could have just kept it and made it a t-shirt nighty, I decided to make a few minor adjustments and try to upcycle it into something I might wear.

T-shirt Upcylce:

I found this super simple t-shirt tutorial from Recycled Lovelies and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to try it out. I figured there was no time like the present and used the ribbon gathering idea on my new t-shirt. Basically, you just add a small piece of fabric to the inside of the shirt and sew three single lines to create a channel for the ribbon. You can then cinch the ribbon as tight as you want and it gathers the shirt in nicely. For the detailed tutorial, follow the link above. I also added a piece of ribbon to the inside of each shoulder seam with a button hole in the end. This allowed me to roll up the “way too big” sleeves. Of course, I had to add buttons as well. This was a pretty simple make-over and although its not fabulous, it does make it fun and more wearable.