Friday, February 28, 2014

Foodie Friday - Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Who doesn't love chocolate? I mean, I know there are a few of you out there but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the population is like me and thinks chocolate is one of the best things ever created. Seriously.

Chocolate cake with chocolate icing, how can you go wrong? Don't you just want to gobble it all up?

Okay, enough with the chocolate love, time to tell you about how I made that fabulous cake up there. The other day, I was cruising along on Facebook (I know, not Pinterest!) and I came across an amazing picture of an amazing looking cake that I just wanted to smash my face into immediately. If you click on this link and look at the pictures, you'll know exactly what I mean. I'll wait while you check it out.

Now that you have looked at her fabulous pictures and are salivating for that cake, I'll share my experience of making said cake. Warning, it looked nothing like hers. I hate how everything I ever make never looks like the original bloggers. It's no fair.

This cake was pretty easy to make, but did take some ahead of time thought since you had to refrigerate the coconut milk and make the quinoa and icing beforehand. But as far as putting ingredients together, easy peasy. Half of them go in the food processor and the other half in a bowl, then mix together.

You don't even have to grease any pans, just line them with parchment paper. I hate greasing pans so this suggestion was a win in my books.

I LOVE the fact that there is no flour in this cake, which makes the whole gluten-free thing so much easier. Not to mention how little work it is to make it dairy-free too. And if the idea of quinoa in a cake turns you off, get over it. You don't even taste the quinoa so you won't know it's there. In fact, I regret telling some people what was in the cake since they then decided there was no way they were going to taste it. But I do have a friend who dislikes quinoa and still totally liked the cake. It's that good and that non-quinoa tasting. Chocolate my friends, makes everything better.

The whole cake making progress was going so smoothly and I was beginning to feel quite good about myself, until I got to the icing. I followed her directions exactly but my icing looked nothing like hers. In fact, it looked the exact oppposite.

Hers was smooth and silky, mine looked like wannabe truffles. Maybe I refrigerated it for too long? Or maybe because my chocolate was bittersweet instead of semisweet? Who knows what it was, all I know is that my icing was disappointing compared to hers. I ended up adding a couple splashes of almond milk to it so that it turned into a consistency that was at least spreadable.

Sorry for the horrible lighting in the above picture, we had lost all natural light and ended up having to use the flash which made the cake look an unnatural light brown. I just wanted to share with you how nice the cake looked when it was all in once piece, since by the next afternoon it looked like this.

Ya, it was that good.

Granted, we did share it with friends so Dan and I didn't eat the entire thing by ourselves. Although we probably could have if we really wanted to.

Looking at that picture makes me sad that the cake is all gone. Yes, we ate it all in less than two days and I totally don't regret it. I will for sure be making this cake again, although I'll be tweaking things as I go along. I'm going to try using semisweet chocolate next time for the icing, since Dan wasn't a huge fan of how bitter this one was. I also want to try and make the icing look more like hers, since that one looks so good!

All in all though, this recipe was a total win and I am so glad I made it. I now have a go to chocolate cake recipe that is sure to be a hit no matter where I serve it.

Anyone else baking delicious goodies lately? What's your favourite chocolate dessert? Are you skeptical of the quinoa in this recipe or are you game for trying new things? If you do give this cake a try, please let me know how it turns out for you!


Foodie Friday Mini Series

Week 1: Roast Chicken
Week 2: Gluten Free Bread
Week 3: Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Week 4: Homemade Larabars
Week 5: Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Week 6: Brazilian Rice & Beans 
Week 7: Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry 
Week 8: Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - February 27, 2014

"Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life."

Good Morning

Hello readers! I have nothing much to blog about this morning and since I'm feeling lazy, I'm really not putting much energy into this post. But since I know certain people (I'm looking at you Jackie) will comment if there is no blog post at exactly 9:00am, I thought I would jump on and share with you what our driveway currently looks like.

We had a whole bunch of wood dropped off yesterday and it is smack dab in the middle of our driveway. We still need to stack it all but the wind was so horrible yesterday that we opted to wait until we could actually be outside. But then it snowed last night. Awesome.

So that's it for my morning post, be sure to check back this afternoon for my Thoughtful Thursday share!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Enough With the Blood Draws Already

As you may remember, I blogged about my vampire appointment back in January where they took 18 vials of blood and I very nearly passed out. I also gave you some information on our fertility testing, telling you that they were doing blood work and an SHG (sonohysterogram).

Well I am back today to give you an update on how things are going. First of all, they took all that blood back in January to run tests to figure out why we keep losing pregnancies. Honestly, I can't even tell you what they are testing for because I can't pronounce, let alone understand, all the tests. They gave us a sheet of paper explaining what they were doing and I was like, this must be important, I'll file it.

In the beginning of February I went in for the SHG. I was lucky enough that my OB/GYN could perform the test so I didn't need to drive back to Toronto for it. According to him, everything in my uterus and fallopian tubes looks good, so that's a relief. I was really worried that I would have scar tissue from my D&C's so it was nice to hear that everything looked pretty.

The next set of tests were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week, more blood draws. I needed to check my progesterone levels on days 23 and 24 of my cycle, as well as Dan and I both getting karotyping done.

I went alone on Monday and all went well. They only took four vials which seemed like a piece of cake compared to the last time. But the nurse somehow botched the job and gave me a bruise on my arm, not only where the needle went in. I've had bruises before so that wasn't too big of a deal but the part that really annoyed me was that my whole arm ached. Seriously, I didn't know my arm could hurt so badly just from a blood draw.

Going back to repeat blood work sucks. I was terrified to go back in on Tuesday since my one good arm was bruised and sore and my other arm never has any veins in it worth poking. But I put on my brave face and went.

The brave face didn't last that long. As you can see in the above picture, I left there with both arms having been pricked.

After fishing around in my right arm (the bruised one) with the needle, the first nurse gave up. I started crying and being all dramatic so she called in another nurse. The new nurse is my favourite person of the week. She was super sympathetic and kind, distracting me with conversation and using a butterfly needle to finally get the blood she needed. She also totally gave me a sticker.

Yup, I'm that cool. I've never been given a sticker after a blood draw before.

Oh and just for the record, this is the vial count for Dan and I over the last month.

Dan - 1
Jennie -24

Who do you think is winning?

So that's its for testing for us. For now at least. We go back to the specialist on March 24th where we are hoping to get the results for all this testing and a plan in place. I'll be updating you after that appointment and let you know where we're at. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cute Labels in the Pantry

I am a huge fan of Classico pasta sauce and admittedly buy too much of it. While I love homemade spaghetti sauce and plan on sharing my recipe with you sometime in March, occasionally I am just too lazy to make it and want the option of grabbing a jar of sauce out of my pantry. Since there are so few "quick" meals that I can make being gluten/dairy/corn free, pasta and sauce is a life saver.

I always save my jars though, since they are glass and can be reused into something wonderful one day. My only problem is actually reusing them. I tend to jam them all into a kitchen cupboard and forget about them.

I have a large collection of empties going on right now.

Oh and peanut butter jars, all the green lid jars are peanut butter ones. I guess I like peanut butter and Classico sauce a lot.

I finally decided to put all these jars to work and have been busy finding new uses for them. I have frozen my last couple batches of chicken broth in them and have been storing more dried goods in them as well.

But yesterday I decided that I needed a little more organization and consistency in my pantry, so I pulled out some jars and boxes and got to work.

Much better, right?

But in order to make it even easier to find things quickly, I thought I would make some cute labels for the tops of the jars. I found my inspiration from Pinterest and got right to work on this super easy craft.

A fabulously quick and easy craft that improves things drastically!

All you need is some chalkboard spray paint, mason jar lids and chalk. I did two coats of spray paint on the lids and then let them air out for a few days. ***Disclaimer: Dan did all the painting for this job, so the previous sentence should have read "Dan did two coats of spray paint...". He thought it was necessary for me to edit this post to clarify, in case people were going to give me all the credit.*** Be sure to wash them first before putting them on your jars.

I'm really happy with how well these turned out and am delighted with how much nicer my pantry looks now.

Anyone else do any organizational projects this past weekend? Or any small crafts? Do share, I love to hear what my readers are up to.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Game for Two

On Saturday, Dan and I took a drive in the fabulous sunshine. It was a crazy windy day so not great for walking but driving seemed like a good idea. We got to soak in the sun, get out of the house and spend time together.

We ran some errands while we were out and one of these errands took us through a small little town that we never stop in. It's just one of those towns that you drive through on your way to somewhere else. On Saturday though, we stopped. Dan had to drop off some business cards to a local grocery store and while he did that, I waited in the car. Until I saw that basically right outside my car door was a small thrift store.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE thrift stores. There's just something so wonderful about wandering through a store full of hand me downs and second hand items, trying to find some sort of treasure that you will get at an awesome deal.

Folks, Saturday was my day to score an awesome deal.

That's right, Battleship and Mastermind, both in excellent condition. I couldn't believe my luck, since we have been talking about getting Battleship for over a year now but could never justify the $20 that Walmart was asking. I kept hoping to find it on sale but never did.

Want to guess how much we paid for these two games? I couldn't believe my ears when I asked the lady at the store how much she was charging. She said "Well.... $0.25 each sounds good". Twenty-five cents each! I hurriedly grabbed them up and told Dan to run out to the car and grab some change from the ash tray.

When we got to the cash, our total was $0.50 but Dan is way nicer than me and gave her $2.00 while telling her to keep the change. I never would have even thought to pay more, I would have taken my games and run! Good thing I've got Dan around to keep me generous.

The best part about these two games is that they are specifically designed for two players. Dan and I love to play games together but we sometimes get tired of playing the same ones over and over again. We obviously have our favourites but it's nice to be able to branch out now and then.

Getting these games inspired me to go through our games cupboard and see what games we actually have and which ones we can play just us. While we have some awesome party/group games, we rarely get to pull those out.

We have a total of 43 games, not counting decks of cards. I had no idea we had so many! Probably about half of them can be played by two and the rest need more people.

Two Person Games (or more!)
  • Battleship*
  • Mastermind*
  • Mancala*
  • Chinese Checkers
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Backgammon
  • Othello
  • Admirals
  • Sudoku Game Board
  • Pass the Pigs*
  • Scattergories The Card Game*
  • Cribbage
  • Yahtzee*
  • Blokus*
  • Careers*
  • Payday
  • Uno
  • Monopoly Deal*
  • Farkle*
  • Jenga
  • Boggle
  • Sequence*
  • Monopoly
  • Scrabble
  • You Might Be A Redneck If...
  • Dutch Blitz
Group Games
  • Taboo
  • Things In A Box
  • Clue
  • Risk
  • Loaded Questions
  • Dirty Minds
  • Wizard
  • Phase 10
  • Poker
  • Rumoli
  • Twister
  • Pictionary
  • Rummy-O
  • Quip It!
  • Cranium 
  • Apples to Apples
*I starred our favourite games to play together

Quite the list of games, isn't it? We really need to start making better use of them. 

Hopefully this post has inspired you to pull out a game from your collection and sit down tonight with your friends or family and play together! Games are such a fun way to spend time with others and a helpful way of pulling you away from screens, whether it be the tv, computer or phone.

What is your favourite card/board game?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Foodie Friday - Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry

Last May, I shared a recipe for Chicken Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry and raved about how amazing it was. Seriously, this is one of my favourite stir fry recipes, so full of flavour and healthy too! You should try it.

Well my sister Cora must have come across this recipe after I shared it and tried it for herself, but putting a vegetarian twist on it. When I asked her for some vegetarian recipes, this is one that she shared with me. So I figured I would give it a shot, but without meat this time.

It basically uses all the same ingredients as the original recipe, but swaps out the chicken for some white beans. Oh and for some reason I missed the fact that it called for a jalapeno pepper and cilantro. I copied out the "new" vegetarian recipe from Cora over the phone and didn't write those two things down. So all these pictures don't have those two ingredients mixed in. Which is sad because I have both in my fridge/freezer!

I love how colourful this recipe is, with all the different veggies. It's also super easy, which is a plus in my books.

While we did enjoy this meal, both Dan and I have decided we like it better with the chicken. We're both meat lovers and found that the chicken added that extra flavour boost that it needed. But then again, maybe the vegetarian version would have been better with the jalapeno and cilantro.

I was asked to share more vegetarian and quinoa recipes in my Foodie Friday series and this meal was both! So Erin and Bunny, I hope you enjoyed reading about it and are excited to try it yourself! For the original recipe, click here.

I think it's time I share some yummy desserts for Foodie Friday so be sure to check back next week to find out what sweet thing I will have whipped up for you!


Foodie Friday Mini Series

Week 1: Roast Chicken
Week 2: Gluten Free Bread
Week 3: Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Week 4: Homemade Larabars
Week 5: Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Week 6: Brazilian Rice & Beans 
Week 7: Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry 
Week 8: Chocolate Quinoa Cake  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - February 20, 2014

"Comparison is the thief of joy."
- Theodore Roosevelt

I needed this one today. It's so easy to compare ourselves to others. Our accomplishments, our failures, our bodies, our houses, our dreams, but comparing rarely makes us feel better.

DIY Kitchen Hand Towels

Some of you may have noticed that over the past (almost) three years, there have been the same hand towels in the kitchen.

See the cute green and red one hanging off the stove? That is one of the two that I own and both of them are Christmas themed. I'm just that cool.

My sister Cora made them for me a long time ago and they are my absolute favourite hand towels, so I have used them until they are basically dead. I've had every intention of making new ones for at least a year but never got around to it.

Well last month I finally went out and bought four new hand towels. They then sat on the shelf in my laundry room until this week, when I decided I couldn't put it off any longer. Out came the pattern I found on Pinterest, my bag of material scraps and my sewing machine.

I thought to myself thought I "this will be easy and quick". I thought wrong.

The measuring and cutting went fast but the sewing, not so much. Turns out, I couldn't even remember how to use my sewing machine. I had to bring out the manual! I really should try and sew more often or else I will never improve my skills.

I meant to take pictures of more of the steps but I got so annoyed with everything that I kind of forgot. Oops. But seriously, I was ready to throw the machine out the window.

I only completed one towel this week, since I seem to have misplaced my button collection. I also made this first one crooked, as you can see in the above photo, the towel doesn't line up along the bottom. Oh, and I butchered the button hole. But by the time I got to that point, I didn't care what it looked like.

The good news? I didn't give up and I now have a new hand towel! It may not be the best looking or that well sewn, but I made it and I am proud of myself for finishing it.

I made three more hand towels that are just missing the button (and button hole) but like I said, I can't finish them until I either find my button collection or buy some new ones.

Overall, I would call this project a success.

Anyone else sew anything lately? What are some good beginner projects that I can do to work on my sewing skills? Any words of encouragement?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

House Tour!

Earlier this month, I showed off some gorgeous sketches of our house layout, to give you a better idea of where things are in our house.

I then promised to do a house tour video before the year was up. Well I did it before the month was up! Are you impressed or what? I kept wanting to wait until our house was perfect, but since that is never going to happen, I figured why not do it now.

I filmed it in two steps, the first video is of the main floor and the second one is of the basement. Before you watch them though, remember that filming is not my strong suit, so it is a little bumpy in some places and dizzying in others. I hope to improve with time though, so maybe next years house tour will be better!

Oh and excuse all the sniffling, I have a cold.

So there you have it, house tour 2014. What did you think? Too dizzying to watch? Annoyed with my sniffling? Feel like you now live with us?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February in Ontario

I am going to share some pictures of the outdoors today! I know it's been a while, since I tend to hibernate during the winter and snap very few pictures of anything outside of my house, so I thought it would be a good a time as any.

I'm feeling a little let down about my blog posts lined up for this week, since last week was so awesome. It's my fault for being too crafty all at once and then making the mistake of sharing it all with you in the same week. So I apologize for my less exciting posts this week.

But then again, this post may be exciting for my followers who live in areas that don't get any (or much) snow!

We have pathways shoveled to the compost and hen house
Last week on Facebook, I had a couple friends post about how excited they were to be getting snow that stays on the ground. I wish I could trade places with them right now.

We haven't had this much snow in one winter in a long time. Last winter we would get snow and then it would melt, we'd get snow and then it would melt, etc. At least it's pretty, right?

The chicken run has a roof now!
I know I shouldn't really complain. I love that we have four seasons here, I really do. I also know that some people have it way worse than us, people who live farther North. But gosh am I sick of all this snow.

Mia's pathways in the snow
Oh and did I mention that we are supposed to get more this week? Yup, the weather forecast is calling for more snow.

But despite all this white stuff surrounding me, I am happy. I have a cozy house where I can sit by the fire and look out at all the sparkling snow. Not to mention, yesterday it was nice and sunny, which makes everything better.

I am ready for Spring though. Is it April yet?

What's the weather like where you are? Snow, sun, ice, grass, beaches, igloos?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Simple Pleasures - February 2014

I had fun this week, choosing things that made me smile. I actually had to choose between multiple things, instead of forcing myself to find something that gave me joy. It was awesome.

Sunday: My newest additions to my Berenstain Bears Books

Monday: Super tasty almonds!

Tuesday: Dark chocolate bar! (That gives me a tummy ache, but I didn't realize that when I bought it)

Wednesday: The snow was so sparkly!

Thursday: My very first pair of skinny jeans (Mia loves them)

Friday: Progress on my sock!

Sunday: My "I Am Thankful" jar that I received from a friend
What have YOU been finding joy in lately?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Foodie Friday - Brazilian Rice & Beans

I asked my readers on Facebook for Foodie Friday suggestions and one of them mentioned they would like some more vegetarian recipes, so I got right to it and picked out one that I thought looked nice and tasty.

You see, Dan isn't a huge vegetarian meal fan, since he's a lover of meat, but occasionally he doesn't mind them, especially if they are packed full of flavour and substance. So when I came across this recipe for Brazilian Rice & Beans, I thought it was perfect. It was full of yummy ingredients and had a nice list of spices to give it that extra push it needed to make it past Dan's requirements.

I excitedly got right down to making it last week and was delighted as it came together and the kitchen smelled like a fabulous mix of spices and flavour.

Everything looked so good and I excitedly served up my dish, garnishing it with some avocado and parsley. I just had a feeling that this meal was going to be a winner. It smelled and looked good, it had to taste good right?

Wrong. It did not taste good at all. I mean, it was edible and we both finished our bowls but we really did not enjoy it one bit. It didn't have much flavour and the consistency of it all was kind of a turn off.

I was so disappointed and ready to not even tell you about my flop meal, but once again, my Facebook readers encouraged me to share. I guess people like to hear that I'm not perfect and want to learn from my mistakes.

I basically followed the recipe exactly as it was written out, except I used a red pepper instead of a green pepper and didn't add the fresh cilantro. But that's it. Why did it fail so badly?

Dan did tell me that adding a bunch of hot sauce to the leftovers made it a little more palatable. I have no intention of making this meal again, even just to tweak the spices, but if any of you want to attempt it, let me know how it turns out!

Anyone else make any failed meals recently? Tell me I'm not the only one who screws up in the kitchen regularly.


Foodie Friday Mini Series

Week 1: Roast Chicken
Week 2: Gluten Free Bread
Week 3: Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Week 4: Homemade Larabars
Week 5: Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Week 6: Brazilian Rice & Beans 
Week 7: Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry 
Week 8: Chocolate Quinoa Cake