Monday, February 27, 2012

An Egyptian Feast

A few years ago, my cousin and his wife lived in Egypt for a while. When they returned, they had several treasures that they had brought back with them. Preston and I were very fortunate to be getting married right around the same time that they were returning, so we received these two very special gifts. 

Both of these items have had many "homes" around our house over time, but I was thrilled to be able to incorporate them into our Egyptian feast table decor. 

While preparing for the evening, we set up our buffet in our dining room to show the books that we have read, the flag that we made, and we pulled two camels from Aiden's playmobil collection to sit atop mirrored candle sticks and watch over it all. 

The sweet little kiss photo never leaves the buffet, so it might not be Egyptian, but it's there anyway :) 
Of course, I had Egyptian music playing while I prepared the meal. We borrowed a couple of CDs from the library and both were so wonderful! (I shared one of my favorites on my facebook wall a couple of days ago, but if you missed it you can check it out here.)

Our dinner guests arrived just before the food was ready, we poured some mango juice into the glasses and served dinner. Each plate was marked with a cartouche so that everyone knew where to sit. (See the making of the cartouches here.)

The Dinner: Sole with Dukkah, Kosheri, and Cucumber Chickpea Salad. We also had a fair amount of baba ganoush left over when we made it, so I stuck the rest in the freezer and pulled it out to have with our dinner along side cut up pitas. 
This is my plate of food. I don't eat fish, so I took extra of everything else.
Since I didn't have any fish, I photographed Preston's and he (as well as our guests) said it was delicious.
While we ate our dinner, I asked the trivia questions. I like to do this because it is a good way to recap what we have learned, and introduce our guests to a little bit of it as well. Occasionally, I even throw in something that we haven't learned about just to get the kids talking and make a last ditch effort to teach them one last thing before moving on to another country. 

For dessert I made Date Candy, which was pretty disappointing to me as I discovered that I am not a fan of cardamom, so did the rest of my family. Fortunately, our guests really liked it (or at least they said they did) so they got to bring home a bunch of left over date candies. 
After dinner, our guests did a bunch of dishes for us, which was a super nice treat! Then, we finished the night off with some good conversation and even a little belly dancing. After our guests left, we looked around and most of the remnants of Egypt were already fading, the left over food had been tucked away into containers and piled into the fridge, the cartouches all went with their rightful owner, and the music was over. 

We had a wonderful time learning about Egypt. Sometimes it seems as if a month is not enough time to spend on a country. As always, I am both sad to be saying, "goodbye" to Egypt, but eager to see what we will learn next month about a new country. 

**Don't forget, if the text is blue it is a link to recipes, other posts, trivia and more.**

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wrapping Up Our Egyptian Tour

As we close in on the end of the month, I am working on finalizing our menu and putting together a grocery list for our Egyptian dinner. Before that can be done though, we still had to scratch our map and stamp our passports. 

The first thing I did was have the kids scratch our scratch map that we got for Christmas and I first mentioned, here. It didn't take long to scratch only one country, and having the kids take turns seemed a little crazy, but they each scratched a part of it and so they were happy. 

Next up was passport stamping. I decided that rather than cut a potato stamp like I usually do, I would incorporate another gift that my kids were eager to use. For Christmas, Aiden got some Egyptian stencils (like these) and we have been trying to figure out how to work them into a project. We decided that for this month, we would use the stencils to "stamp" our passports. We chose to use The Eye of Horus stencil and then color them with markers

You can see the passports being made here.

With the making of the flag, the crafting, the snacking, the belly dancing, and the passport stamping behind us. We look forward to a delicious meal that we will be enjoying soon, you can read all about it right here on Monday. 

What kinds of things have you created with your littles lately? Have you been inspired by my obsession and tried to use Sculpey with them yet? Have you tried any new foods? 

Monday, February 20, 2012

We Did What???? (Egypt)

As I promised in my last post, we are trying something new. A new adventure to add to our list of cultural studies. 

I suppose it was inevitable that at some point we would be faced with the decision of whether to learn to belly dance or not. We knew that in Egypt it is only women that belly dance, but in our house we don't discriminate by gender, so we decided that if anyone was going to learn to belly dance, then we all were. So, somehow, it was decided... we were all going to learn to belly dance. 

After some online research, I found an instructor who agreed to give us a private lesson for a very reasonable price. We were scheduled to go yesterday, but then our instructor called and she was sick. After the initial panic wore off, Preston and I talked about what we might do and decided to use our usually trust worthy friend, the internet. We found a website that teaches how to belly dance in eleven steps! ELEVEN!!! How bad could that be??? It also had a nice little demo video at the end. We committed. We were now going to teach ourselves how to belly dance. (See the steps here.)

So here it is, we played some Egyptian music and started practicing our moves.

Ultimately, the kids were on the floor laughing hysterically. 

I kind of felt like I should be making one of those new memes that are going around. You know, the ones that say, "What I think I look like" and "What I actually look like." The first picture would be of Shakira and the second one would be... well.... what we actually looked like, ridiculously off beat and not even a little bit fluid. 

I think that trying to teach ourselves how to belly dance was a fantastic endeavor, and probably a lesson from a professional would have turned out better results, but at least we can say that we have tried it. We also learned that our stomach muscles, our leg muscles and our arm muscles get sore really fast and those belly dancers absolutely have something on us. At the end, I can't say that I looked like Shakira, but I did look like this, so I'm good with that.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reading Egypt and More Exploring

On a recent trip to our local library I made it my mission to find a book about Egypt that was not entirely about Ancient Egypt. As you may or may not know, this is a very difficult feat. I love that there is a massive amount of Ancient Egypt books since Aiden is obsessed with Ancient Egypt (it makes my life really easy), however for the purpose of our current goal, I really want to learn as much about the current culture as possible. 

We found and borrowed a few books that were focused on Ancient Egypt, but looked too good to pass up, like one that is a book of project ideas called Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself (which you can find here.)

Among these books, we found one called We're Sailing Down the Nile: A Journey Through Egypt By Laurie Krebs. This story is about getting on a river boat and traveling down the Nile River to see the sights a long the way. This book covers some of the ancient landmarks, but is from a modern day perspective. It was a fun one to read as it follows a nice rhythm with a lot of repetition. This book is definitely good for little ones up to bigger littles (my kids are four and seven and both enjoyed the story.)

If you are looking for a good book that has some modern day perspective, this is one that I would recommend.

As an added bonus, completely separate from our Egyptian focus, we also borrowed from the library, We All Sing With The Same Voice By J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene. If you aren't familiar with this one, it is also a song that was performed on Sesame Street and the book came with a CD, so after reading the story, I popped the CD in and we had an impromptu dance party. Since the book is the song, we also read and sang along with it. I love the diversity of this story/song. Just for fun, here is a video of the song as performed by kids on Sesame Street. 

I have added both of these books to my book list here on the blog, so you will be able to check back for them if want to find them later. 

Also, I am super excited about an adventure that we are going on this weekend. I will be posting about it on Monday, so be sure to check back! The last time we went on a "field trip" we got henna tattoos while learning about Morocco, you can see them here.

After having a few people contact me about trips that they are taking or have taken, I have decided to add a post (once a month if it works) that will focus on my readers' travels. If you have traveled somewhere or are planning to travel somewhere that is one of the countries that we have focused on or are focusing on, and you would like to share a few of your photos and answer a few questions for us, please get in touch with me at mamacitasglobe[at]yahoo[dot]com. I look forward to keeping you updated as this new feature develops. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snacking On Egypt

It is time to eat some Egyptian snacks... ok *an* Egyptian snack. After a bit of searching, we opted to try to make Egyptian baba ganoush. Baba ganoush is made using eggplants (also known as aubergines.) There are a few different ways to make baba ganoush and it appears that depending on the territory, or country there are variations that are specific to that area. In Egypt, baba ganoush has a distinct smokey flavor that can be achieved by roasting the skin of the eggplant over a flame on a gas stove burner, before completing the rest of the steps. 

The next step of making the baba ganoush, was to cook the eggplant in the oven. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and then cooked two eggplants for 40 minutes. 

Once the eggplant was done cooking, removed from the oven, cooled and skinned, I tossed the two eggplants in the blender along with two cloves of garlic (minced), two tbsp of olive oil, two tbsp of lemon, some tahini (the recipe I read called for 3 tbsp, but I didn't actually measure this, I think it can be adjusted to your taste), a pinch of parsley and a pinch of chili powder. Hit the puree option on the blender and let it go until it is smooth (or your desired consistency.) After the first taste we thought it was a bit bland, so we added some salt. We sprinkled a little fresh parsley on top and that's it! 

We served it up with some mini pitas cut in half.  

How about you? Did you try any new foods over the weekend? Have you had baba ganoush before? What are some favorite snacks in your house? 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Nameplates

Aiden is still really excited to be learning about Egypt, but he informed me that he is only interested in Ancient Egypt. After explaining that it is important that we learn about modern day Egyptian culture, I told him that he was in luck because much of modern day Egyptian culture is greatly influenced by Ancient Egyptian culture. We are learning a lot about both ancient and modern Egypt and we plan to share the adventures with you along the way. First up, is an Ancient Egyptian inspired craft.  

Ancient Egyptians believed that if their name was not written down somewhere then they would disappear after they died. So in order to be sure that their names were written, they made cartouches and attached them to their coffins. A cartouche is essentially a nameplate. 

We thought it would be a fun idea to make nameplates for ourselves to have on the dinner table at the end of the month when we have our celebration.

While trying to figure out how we should make them, we fell back on our trusty old crafting staple... Sculpey. I know what you're thinking, "Why is this chick always using Sculpey?" To be honest, it's one of those things that is a really good medium for the kids and really has little to no mess. I always put some cardboard down on the table because occasionally a little bit of color will bleed off, but otherwise, it's a quick set up and a quick clean up. Also, this time, my kids suggested that we use Scupley, they like using it.

I searched the handy internet and found the Hieroglyphic alphabet here and then we carved our names. We started out using toothpicks, but they were actually pretty thick and left a lot of extra clumps, so Aiden and I switched to the tip of mechanical pencils (Eliana wanted to continue with the toothpick.) Since Eliana is four, she needed a little help, so I did her name very lightly and she traced it. Aiden didn't need help. 

The completed cartouches. From left to right: Aiden, Eliana, Preston (made by Aiden), Raina.
This was a fun project and a really quick one. I think we spent more time trying to find the right tool for carving, but it was cool anyway and we were pretty interested to learn a little about hieroglyphics. 

For more Egyptian fun, be sure to check back next week and see what we're up to, or "like" Mamacita Spins The Globe on Facebook and get little tidbits along the way there. You could also just go hog wild and do both ;)

**To see more of my Scupley obsession, check out the Greek Matis that we made here, the Moroccan napkin rings we made here, clogs from The Netherlands here, Irish decor here, and Scarab Beetle necklaces for Aiden's birthday party here

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Eagle of Saladin

We have moved on to a new country and with the start of every new month, we create a flag. This month we are "heading" to Egypt. I recently found a pack of flash cards that are "Flags of The World" at Target in their dollar spot (holler for a good deal! woot! woot!) I thought it would be helpful to have another reference tool besides the trusty ol' internet. 

The top flag on this card is the Egyptian Flag.
I gathered up the usual supplies, a straight edge, a pencil, scissors, a glue stick and some construction paper (red, black and white). This time, we had to add an Eagle of Saladin to the middle of the flag, so I also pulled out a marker. The flag of Egypt is definitely not as easy as the flag of Ireland, but not quite as difficult as the flag of Mexico since the eagle is all one color on the Egyptian flag.

Since the eagle was somewhat difficult, I drew it with pencil and then gave it to the kids to trace the outline and color. 

As usual, Aiden cut and Eliana glued. 

After the flag was completed, the littles were being pretty silly when it came time to photograph the final product. Which was a nice break from the usual "mug shot" pics I get out of them. 

This flag was somehow easier than I had expected when I first saw the photo. Obviously, it has some cute little four and seven year old touches, but I think it came out pretty nice.

We're very excited to learn about Egypt. Aiden has been fascinated with all things Ancient Egypt for quite some time now and I am hoping that this month will be an opportunity to learn more about modern day Egyptian culture. It's not going to be easy to find information that is more about modern Egypt, when there is such a huge amount of Ancient Egyptian history, but I think we will have fun either way. 

For more information about the Egyptian Flag, check out the Wikipedia page. There is an image of the flag (not created by a four and seven year old) as well as information about the symbolism of the flag. 

*Don't forget to "like" Mamacita Spins The Globe on Facebook to see what's going on in our house between blog posts. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baile, Baile, Baile (Dance, Dance, Dance)

Did you figure out the clue in my last post? "The final step of our Cuban celebration" is dancing. We have made the Cuban Flag, created little birds, tried a new snack, made banana leaf table decorations, stamped our passports, read a new book, and eaten a Cuban meal. Naturally, the next step would have to be dancing. 

My Cuban friend told me that after a meal, her family always does some dancing together. I'm not at all surprised since Cuban music inspires me start boogieing, so it must be the same for everyone else, right??? So, after we ate our delicious Cuban Feast, we moved the party into our almost complete, newly renovated living room, for some Cuban music and (not so Cuban) dancing. We put in The Buena Vista Social Club CD and turned the volume up loud. 

This kid has some moves!
And check this one out! 

Incase you are wondering at this point, my kids and I were not the only ones dancing. Though my mom did take a break to snap these pictures of me with my littles. Aiden and Eliana decided to do some break dancing and even managed to get my dad on the floor to teach him a move or two.

My parents have been practicing their dance moves for a while and they have some really fancy footwork. I took a few photos of them, they were moving so fast and grooving to the music, that I didn't want to ask them to slow down. 

After eating good food and finishing the night with a Cuban dance party, my parents went home and my littles brushed their teeth, climbed in bed and fell asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. 

We are sad to be saying, "Goodbye" to Cuba, but we have already spun the globe again and we are ready to set our sights on a new horizon. 

Have you done any dancing this week with your littles? Did you learn any new moves? How about break dancing? 

**Don't forget to "like" Mamacita Spins The Globe on Facebook, if you haven't already!** 

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