Sunday, September 30, 2012

Milk Chocolate - Taste Test

It was another De Winter family dinner night, and since we all enjoyed doing the Cream Soda taste test so much, we thought we would do another. Except this time it was time to be more serious!

My dad is Belgian, and they are known for arguably having the BEST chocolate worldwide. My mother and all four of us had our turns working at a Bernard Callebaut chocolate store (Belgian). Needless to say, we are all chocolate snobs.

My mom scraped the words off of all of the chocolate bars and chopped them up onto little plates. At the end of the testing, I was SHOCKED to find out the average scores.

Here are the results:

1. Purdy's
2. Trader Joe's
3. Cadbury's
4. Ritter Sport
5. Bernard Callebaut's
6. Dove
7. Lindt
8. Jersey Milk (dubbed the brown crayon)

I am still shocked! Purdy's has been a border line swear word in our family for decades.
But wait!
I must say... I think this test has made ME more of a chocolate snob... why? Because I know what I like and still voted Bernard Callebaut's as number one... so did my mother. From now on my mother and I will save ourselves a lot of money and buy Purdy's for everyone else but each other. I'll get my mom the good kind.

With all of that chocolate though, and all of the laughing, it was a really great night and one we will all remember for days to come. That's all what doing different mini events like this is all about anyways right? Making memories.
Now go! Eat chocolate!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Taco Salad - From My Kitchen

This salad is super easy to make, affordable, fast and yummy. I make this salad for dinner and it makes a satisfying. meal.

What you will need

For the quinoa: 
1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup of salsa
1/2 cup of vegetable stock

For the rest: 
1/2 head of washed and torn lettuce
1 can of black beans 
1 cup thawed and rinsed corn 
1/4 finely diced white onion
1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup salsa
corn chip 

Serves 3

1. Combine the ingredients for the quinoa in a small pot. Bring to a boil then simmer until the quinoa is tender. Cool ahead of time. (I have added the frozen corn to the quinoa to cool it off faster if you couldn't do this ahead of time) 

2. For the rest, layer the ingredients for individual servings, or lay them all out on the table for guests to assemble themselves! Easy as PIE!

There are lots of other ingredients or substitutions you could make. Why not try avocado, grilled chicken, green onions, chopped bell peppers? I also like to serve extra corn chips on the side. Yum yum! Get creative but most of all, ENJOY! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crochet Lace Covered Rock - Build Your Home

I really like the combination of the delicate lace and the rough texture of rock in this project.

I made this lace covered rock for a wedding present this last week and painted "build your home" on the bottom to remind the couple to build their marriage on Jesus Christ.

To make your own lace covered rock, you can use any circular lace patten to start. Crochet the rounds flat until it covers up until the edge of the rock. Once the lace covers the top, you decrease the stitches quickly to make the lace stretch tightly over the rock. Or you can follow my pattern below. I'll also explain how to decrease stitches to get the lace snugly around the rock.

What you will need:
- #1 size crochet hook
- washed and smooth rock
- white or ivory crochet cotton 
- acrylic white paint (optional)
- small paint brush (optional) 

You don't need very much yarn but it all depends on how big your rock is. I used about 1/8 of a 1 lb ball.

Pattern Shortcut key:
ch= chain
sl st= slip stitch
dc = double crochet

- ch 5 then sl st into the beginning of chain to make a small loop
- ch 5, turn
Row #2
- dc inside the small loop ch 3 (x7)
- ch 3
- sl st in 1st chain of row
Row #3
- ch 9, turn
- dc in top of last row's dc
- ch 6 dc in top of last row's dc (x7)
- ch 6
- sl st in 1st chain of row
Row #4
- ch 4, turn
- dc under last row's chain
- ch 2 dc x5
- ch 2 dc x6 (in next 7)
- sl st in 1st chain of row
Row #5
- ch 6, turn
- dc in last row between stitch 3 and 4
- ch 4, dc between 6 and 7
- repeat pattern all around
- sl st in 1st chain of row
Row #6
- ch 6, turn
- dc, ch 4, dc ch 4 repeat
Row #7
- repeat row #6 if the round needs to get bigger  but increase each chain by 1.

*also keep in mind the next instructions for row 8 and 9 should have an increased chain as well. 

Continue until the round covers the top of the rock. I only needed to do up to Row #7. The next rounds will be decreasing. Always check when you are half way around to make sure that the rock fits inside before it gets closed too tight.

Row #8
- ch 2, turn
- 1 dc under the last 2 chains of the previous row.

*Push the crochet hook through under the chain, wrap the yarn over, pull it through, then go to the next hole/chain from the previous row and wrap the yarn over, pull it through, then wrap the yarn over and finish the dc as normal. I do this instead of skipping to decrease stitches so that you don't get as many gapes.

- ch 4, 1 dc in the last chain and next chain repeat all around

*check your rock fit. The next round will make it tight really fast.

Row #9
- ch 2, turn
- 1 dc under the last 2 chains of the previous row
- repeat pattern all around pulling the lace tight around the rock as you go.
- sl st in 1st chain of row

cut and weave end in.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

20 weeks Mama style

This is week 20! I'm half way there. It is really true that the time seems to fly when it is your second pregnancy. I am feeling the baby move finally. I was surprised because I felt Ezra move at 17 weeks when I was a first time mom. It is usually supposed to be the other way around: second time moms are supposed to feel their babies move sooner than first time moms. Either way, its an exciting time to be pregnant! 

There are these beautiful sunflowers that have finally bloomed in front of out kitchen window. I hope that I will have a chance to harvest them before the frost comes. 



Outfit Details: 
- coral and lace top - thrifted
- maternity indigo jeggings - Thyme 
- moccasins - Winners
- brown belt - Old Navy
- jewellery - Pieces I Enjoy  and the locket is a retro one from my mom. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cream Soda - Taste Test

It was family dinner night (with the De Winters), and after the babies went to bed me, a couple of my brothers and my parents were involved in a very lengthy conversation about cream soda! From, when was cream soda invented, to what brand of cream soda was it that we drank as kids to what is the best available brand of cream soda you can get now?

I thought I would arrange a little taste testing session for our next family dinner. I didn't realize we were such cream soda snobs. It was hilarious!

I brought out a little of each can/bottle in a wine glass for each member of my family to try. Each member then rated the cream sodas out of 10. Here are the results:

1. Henry Weinhard's
2. Jones Soda
3. Crush
4. Dad's 
5. Blue Sky
6. Zeevia

I really wanted to include Stewart's and Schwepp's, and Boylan's but I wasn't able to locate these in time. We might have to do it again...

Henry Weinhar'd bottle lid. How appropriate, for all 8 of us who tasted, we all agreed that Henry Weinhard's was our favorite by far!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad - From My Kitchen

This year my dad decided to put a couple tomato plants in the garden to see how they would do. They did very well! From only two plants there is about 15 pounds of tomatoes. Since I am one of his favorite people, he gave me a few. I made this delicious salad featuring protein packed quinoa, fresh basil, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Very often in my kitchen, I won't use a recipe. Only recently have I started to write some recipes down. I thought I would share this one:

What you will need

For the quinoa:
1/2 lemon, juiced and zest
1 cup of water
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
3 Tbsp of your best olive oil
2 tsp dry oregano

For the rest:
approximately 2.5 lbs of fresh diced tomatoes (I used 3)
1 long english cucumber diced
1/4 white onion finely chopped
1 cup of fresh basil chiffonade
1/3 cup of feta cheese crumbled or cubed
a few garlic cloves finely chopped (optional)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Serves up to 4

1. Squeeze the juice out from half of a large lemon into a measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup with water up to the one cup mark. Add these to a medium sized saucepan with the zest, vegetable stock and quinoa. Bring pot to a boil, then immediately bring the temperature down to simmer with the lid on until the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and fluff.

2. For the rest... combine ingredients into a large serving bowl. I didn't add garlic to mine since I still have a pregnancy aversion to it. I did however, add a dash of garlic powder at the end.

3. Once the quinoa is cooled to room temperature, mix in the olive oil and dry oregano.

4. Add the quinoa mixture to the rest of the ingredients in the large bowl and gently mix with a wooden spoon.

5. Add pepper to taste. You may want to add some salt as well, but I didn't since the feta is already salty.

I made this one night when it was just me and Ezra eating for dinner. He really enjoyed it! I made sure that the quinoa was really soft for him. I made a huge batch because I wanted to have more for left overs. I'm glad I did. It was very yummy.

A Tip!
If you feel intimidated to cook with quinoa, or have found that when you have in the past its been bland, make sure you are adding flavor during the cooking process. That way you can get the flavor deep into the grain. To do this, simply substitute the water for a different liquid(s) such as: stock, juice of any kind (diluted), vinegar (diluted), salsa! You name it!

Once I realized that I could do this with quinoa, it quickly became a main staple in my pantry. It is such a protein packed grain that it leaves the body satisfied for a long time.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Birthday Date!

Friday night, we celebrated my 28th birthday. These pictures were taken behind Jesse's work's building in yale town before we hit the town.

19 week baby bump!

Outfit details
- black and white striped cami - Winners
- mustard sweater - Target
- floral screenprinted scarf - thrifted
- maternity pants - Zara
- sandals - Urban Outfitters
- black square cocktail ring and earrings - PiecesIEnjoy 
- silk purse - my auntie gave it to me when I was little

Saturday, September 15, 2012

PIE Birthday Giveaway - Ooooooo!

Hello folks! So today is my 28th birthday. In celebration of it I am doing two things:

1. Win a Sky Blue Vintage Japanese Glass Pendant by Pieces I Enjoy!

I will be drawing a name on the 1st of October 2012 for the winner. In order to get your name in my hat, you must be a fan of Pieces I Enjoy on Facebook and wish me a Happy Birthday comment here on this post on this blog. The contest will be closed 11:59 p.m. on September 30th, 2012 PST. Only fans from Canada and USA may enter please. 

The winner's name will be announced on October 1st and will be requested to send me their mailing address by e-mail. The prize is non exchangeable and it is lovely! I will of course pay for shipping as well.

2. Every purchase made at my Etsy store between now and 11:59 p.m. September 30th, 2012 PST will receive a 30% refund (not including shipping) made through Pay-pal IF you wish me a Happy Birthday in the comments during check-out. Please allow up to two days for your refund.

Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Thanks for all of the Happy Birthday wishes in advance! 


Update - The Contest and Sale are now over! Thanks to all who participated. CONGRATULATIONS RHONDA! You won the contest. Please email me with your address so I can send you your gift. pie{dot}gabrielle{at}gmail{dot}com.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Matryoshka Doll Collection

The thing I enjoy the most about the best collections is that there is usually a story behind each piece.

When I was a little girl, my parents gave me my first Matryoshka doll for Christmas. I was thrilled! I played with my first set a lot and my mom decided that she liked the idea of giving one to me every year; and so my collection grew. When I was a teenager she stopped the tradition since she thought I was too old, but my collection kept growing because I had not and still have not grown out of it.

Today, I have 20 nesting dolls in my collection and there is a definite sentimental value in each one. Not all of them are Russian or Czech made, but they are all legit to me.

When we moved to North Delta I wanted a place where I could put them on display where I could see them because they were so special. My dear husband, Jesse helped me put up these white shelves in the kitchen.

I really can't say which one is my favorite. There really is a great story behind each one. Here are a few:

This one was given to me by my mother for completing a music theory test for the Royal Conservatory of music when I was young. I worked very hard studying for it and achieved with honors with distinction. This doll has the most number of dolls inside and is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest sets I have. 

Look how tiny it gets! How can I not like this set? There are 10 all together. 

I found this one myself when I was 16 traveling in France. It was a big deal to me that my parents allowed me, trusted me and supported me to go since it was with school and that I would be away from them for almost two weeks.

 This one was given to me from a missionary when I was about 13. He was visiting the church I used to attend sharing what he does with the congregation. He asked that when I saw it, it would remind me to pray for him and his family. It still does and I still do.

 I liked my collection so much as a girl, that I even fantasized about being proposed to with one of these dolls. I imagined opening the dolls up until at last, I would find an engagement ring! It didn't happen that way, but this doll IS from my husband. He gave it to me on our 5th wedding anniversary. It is traditional for the gift to be made of wood for that year. There also happens to be five dolls: one for each year we had been married. He got it from Russian World in Vancouver. What a thoughtful gift.

This collection is beautiful too. They came in handy this month when I helped my mom decorate for a "Garden Tea Party" themed bridal shower. I used my nesting doll collection, the Potted Plants in Ladies' Blouses, and a few old books to decorate each table. They worked so well because I could open them up and they filled the space well. I wish I could have done more, but I only had a half an hour to set up. They were special for the bride to be too since she also happens to have a nesting doll collection!

As precious as collections are, they need to be used and shared. If you have read this and you have a beautiful collection that is collecting dust somewhere: bring it out! Share it with the people you love and display it so you can enjoy it.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Maternity Style Dilemma

A few posts ago I announced that we were going to have a second child! Well, as excited as I am about it, sometimes its hard to feel good about yourself while being pregnant. It might have SOMETHING to do with your hormones doing backflips, blowing chunks, being tired almost all of the time and hopefully not, but yes I do, worry about being ready for another baby.

It might seem petty, but one of the things I learned from last time is not to give into the frumpy dumps! You know? When you just don’t care how you look anymore and you want to just stay at home in your pjs, eat ice cream and watch Star Trek? Maybe its just me, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with this, or a version of this.

I looked back at some of my maternity belly photos this week and realized that when I felt the best: had the most energy, felt the most optimistic and even excited about the future while being pregnant I also happened to have a cute outfit on. I also remember at the end feeling like I had no creativity left in me. That had something to do with it I’m sure.

These are a few of those outfits from my first pregnancy where I still feel good about two years later: 

19 weeks in my first pair of maternity pants from Thyme maternity. In the beginning of my first pregnancy I thought I could get away with wearing pre pregnancy pants with extenders and Bella Bands, but I got to a point early on when I just couldn't stand the feeling of having any restriction on my tummy. The were a definite life saver first time around, and I'm sure will be the second time too. 

25 weeks here! I loved my first pair of maternity jeggings so much, that I went back to Thyme and got the same ones in a dark denim colour. The rest of this outfit is from Urban Outfitters. I was glad to be able to find lots of long non maternity tops that definitely work for maternity. 

27 weeks here. Dark even wash jeggings by Thyme again. A bright non maternity top by Gentle Fawn and non maternity black blazer by Kensie (unbuttoned of course!). This is definitely the LAST picture of my pregnancy that I feel good about. Thats so sad to me now because pregnancy is and should be a time where I felt beautiful! I was growing another human being! Its a miracle. 

This time I have a plan to combat the Frumpy Dumps, among other things. One of the small ways I hope to keep myself aware is to upkeep this blog: including what I wore. I’ve always enjoyed fashion, so why not share it.

So far I think I’ve been doing okay... These are a few outfits I’ve worn so far in this pregnancy: 

13 weeks and barely a bump. Besides my hair, and the fit of the cardigan I like this look. I'm wearing a dress as a skirt here with the the straps tucked in. The dress was thrifted and I wore a simple white cami with it.

15 weeks along here. It was a hot day. I wore this refashioned lace dress over a white cami and slip skirt. Its pretty sheer if I don't. I added a simple thin black belt and black heels.

17 weeks and probably one of my favorite looks because you can barely tell I'm pregnant here, even though I am bigger than in week 15. I found this loose fitting dress at the Bay of all places. Department store WIN! Paired it with some statement jewellery from my PiecesIEnjoy line and presto!

It will probably get harder as the belly grows, but I’m up for the challenge! Hopefully I'll have some more maternity outfits to share in a few more weeks while the bump gets bigger, the weather gets colder, and my creativity gets harder to muster up!

Enjoy the rest of the summer!