Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Bits

happy flowers

There was a lot of activity going on in Leuven all weekend - a European food market with vendors from France, Spain, Poland, Italy, Hungary... a carnival in the park... various concerts throughout town... and hot, sunny days. The city was buzzing and everyone was outside, welcoming the start of summer. We spent Saturday showing Didz's parents and sister around town and had a lovely dinner in a little garden patio of one of our favorite restaurants. Sunday, Didz and I hung out in the park in the afternoon, and went out for Indian food on a little square - dinner was delicious, but the concert happening in the square that evening was... um... interesting? Imagine an orchestra (correction: out of tune orchestra) playing back-up for the lead singer of Megadeath. It was just dreadful... but hilariously so.

Here's just a glimpse:

the garlic man - selling the most amazing, fresh garlic

fresh, juicy, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth strawberries

making lemon bars

eating lemon bars

musical instruments

Didz figuring out the engineering behind the instrument

chickens on stilts

Didz learning a new trick


worst. band. ever.

bustling cafe

Didz's favorite part of the weekend (which unfortunately was also the biggest disappointment) was the "Grand Cafe" - a tiny little shack set up in the park that served beer, and had a max capacity of 4 people packed in tightly like sardines. Didz was hugely upset that the few times we walked past it it was either closed or full. Next time, Didz, next time. 

The "Grand Cafe" by day and by night

I hope you had a fantastic weekend (Happy Memorial Day to those of you back in 'Merica)... and happy summer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Week 19

As you've probably noticed I don't usually post photos of myself (I like being behind the camera, not in front of it)... but occasionally, I'll let Didz take a photo. So here I am, in the middle of week 19 enjoying a stroll through the park on this beautiful Thursday afternoon. It's very hard to believe that next week we'll officially be halfway through this pregnancy, and at my next doctor's appointment (in two weeks) we'll be finding out if this little Sprout is a little BabyDidzJr or BabyDidzette. The wide range of emotions along with the uncertainties of our future can be a little overwhelming - so instead of stressing out or worrying, I'm doing my best to take it day by day, enjoy these beautiful sunny days, and trust that everything will work out just as it should.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weekend Bits: Geneva

Travelling is exhausting. Travelling when you're pregnant? Double exhausting. Travelling when you're pregnant with your in-laws? Oof! We had a fantastic trip, and we absolutely loved Geneva, but coming home and crawling into our bed last night was my favorite part of the weekend.

Geneva is a beautiful (but expensive!) city with a spectacular setting on the shores of Lake Geneva, at the foot of the Alps. We were lucky the forecasted rain held off for us, making it ideal for wandering and sitting at outdoor cafes by the water. Coordinating seven people in a foreign city can be tricky - but we managed to find a perfect balance between family time and solo exploring. We had a few fantastic meals (our dear friend Ariane recommended a very cool restaurant that we went to our first night in town), and everyone got to cross off some things off their Geneva to-do list. Didz's brother and his girlfriend took a day-trip to Mont Blanc, his parents and sister went to a couple museums and Didz and I had absolutely nothing on our agenda, so we just walked and talked and sat and ate and loved every minute of it.

love this guy



jet d'eau


beautiful day on the water

pregnancy craving satisfied. thank you, room service.

One of the highlights was Saturday morning, when Didz and I went to have a coffee at this funky little cafe on a jetty in the middle of lake called Buvette des Bains. We happened upon this little three piece band playing and people dancing (in Lithuanian we call them "rateliai"... simple choreographed dances danced in circles). It was so much fun to watch - we were tempted to jump in and learn the steps on the spot, but chickened out and sat and enjoyed our coffee and watched the show instead.


the band: Sous le Pont

Geneva left such a good impression on us that I hope we have a chance to explore the rest of Switzerland at some point. This week Didz's parents and sister are visiting Lucerne and Zurich - it'll be interesting to hear their thoughts when they visit us this coming weekend. 

Have a wonderful week! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We're off!

Darlings, what do you have planned for the weekend? We're off to Geneva to meet the DidzFamily who are all flying in from Toronto for a little European vacation... It'll be so nice to catch up with the in-laws, spend some time with Didz's brother, his girlfriend, and their little sister, and explore a new city! Have you been to Geneva? Do you have any tips?

Also, (and I'm sorry I don't have any photos to share), last night I made this amazing brocoli soup with this beautiful zucchini ribbon salad (with goat cheese and walnuts)... if you're looking for something to make this weekend, I highly recommend both. Have a delicious weekend!

ps aren't those the cutest shoes you've ever seen? they stole my heart yesterday... so I had no choice but to make them my own :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Granola Bar Goodness

I used to be the type of person who had a cup of coffee for breakfast and maybe a piece of fruit that I'd eat while running (usually late) to work. Since finding out about the little nugget, my eating habits have changed a bit, and breakfast has become the (two) most important meal(s) of the day. Yes, I eat breakfast twice. First Breakfast happens right when I wake up - usually consisting of fruit. Second Breakfast comes along an hour or two later, and can vary from cereal to eggs to peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (yes, pb&j is totally a breakfast food).

Last week, I made some homemade granola bars... and they've become my favorite thing to munch on for First Breakfast, along with a sliced up apple and a cup of tea. (They also make a great afternoon snack, usually between Second Lunch and First Dinner).

My inspiration came from here (she, coincidentally, is also expecting her first child), but I tweaked it a bit and omitted a few of her add-ins - and kept my granola bars simple with chocolate chunks and dried cranberries, mostly because that's what I had on hand. Any combination of nuts, dried fruit, or seeds would work great and I plan on playing around with different variations. They're nutritious and just sweet enough (I suggest using the smaller amount of sugar or somewhere in between) and don't come full of all the extra junk store bought granola bars have, which is perfect for me and the little papaya growing in my belly.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Bits

This weekend was a perfect mix of food, friends and relaxing in the sunshine. After what has felt like endless rain for weeks on end, we were thrilled to have a weekend of crystal clear skies and sunshine-y afternoons. We took some long walks through town, discovered a newly opened dessert cafe (!!!), enjoyed a homemade Vietnamese feast with our neighbors downstairs, and spent Sunday afternoon relaxing on Robbie's new rooftop terrace with friends. Oh, and both Saturday and Sunday morning Didz practiced his breakfast making skills for future Mother's Day meals... delicious!


my view

blueberry pancakes

dessert before dinner

my love

world's greatest omelet

laurent and his large chip

erik, kirsten, blue sky

robbie's fresh baked bread and the spread

robbie, the bread baker (ladies, he's single!)


I hope the sun is shining wherever you are, too... Have a fantastic week! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Homemade Kettle Corn

Last night I was craving a light snack - something sweet, but not chocolatey, and not too heavy - just something small to munch on while watching a show before bed. We had just bought some popcorn kernels at the store that afternoon - but plain popcorn wasn't going to cut it... so instead, I made some homemade kettle corn! It was the perfect sweet snack I was craving.

I used this recipe - and it turned out perfectly.

A few tips:
- To test if the oil is hot enough, toss in 2-3 kernels first. Once they pop, add the rest and start shaking.
- I added a bit of salt to make a sweet/salty treat.
- It does make a sticky mess in your pot - so soak it immediately before the syrup dries on there forever.
- When it cools, stash half of it away in a tupperware, or you WILL eat the entire batch in one sitting.

Enjoy it on your next movie night, or as a sweet afternoon snack :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

this photo has travelled the world with me for 10 years, now sits bedside

Today is my parents' 36th wedding anniversary... Thirty-six years and the love between them is strong as ever. When I was little, and they would smooch, I would always make a face and make my disgust known ("Eewwww! Gross!")... Now, anytime I see them kiss, hold hands, cuddle up on the couch, cook together, or go out for a night on the town, it makes my heart melt, because I know their marriage is so special. I feel so fortunate to have grown up with such incredible, loving and supportive parents and now, I'm lucky to use them as a model for my own marriage... although, there's a pretty good chance Didz and I will never have more fun than my folks (if you've been to any of their parties, you know what I mean)...

walking me down the aisle

Happy Anniversary! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Perfect Sunday

Yesterday, our friends Kirsten and Erik organized a wonderful leisurely luncheon for a handful of friends. Since the class no longer has to work around the clock completing assignments and papers, they had the whole day to relax, eat, talk, read the paper, and not worry about a thing. With a menu of roast chickens, roasted potatoes (maybe the best potatoes I've ever had - I insisted Erik give me his mom's recipe... and the leftovers), caramelized carrots, and cabbage with pancetta, it was much more than just a lunch, it was a decadent feast... Add in an apple tart and rich chocolate cake for dessert, and it's no wonder we stayed on into the evening, refusing to get up from the table, enjoying every moment with our friends.

I had offered to bring a dessert - but in my pregnant inability to decide between two recipes - I made both (nobody seemed to mind)... The apple tart is something I've been thinking about since last weekend when my aunt and uncle where here and we devoured a delicious tart from a french bakery in Brussels. I used this recipe, and it was wonderfully reminiscent of the tart I've been dreaming of all week. The chocolate cake is one that I've been looking for an excuse to try ever since Annie sent me the book with the recipe last fall. It's called the "Winning Hearts and Minds Cake" and you can find the recipe here. It's probably the easiest cake you'll ever bake - with a total of 5 ingredients, it's just pure chocolate decadence (I can't wait to go home and make one for my chocolate loving father).

"It's going to sound silly, I know, but I think that what it all comes down to is winning hearts and minds. Underneath everything else, all the plans and goals and hopes, that's why we get up in the morning, why we believe, why we try, why we bake chocolate cakes. That's the best we can ever hope to do: to win hearts and minds, to love and be loved."

- Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Emotional tsunami (and some muffins)

Friends, we cannot begin to describe the overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel - all your messages, emails, and comments about the little brussel sprout under my shirt have blown us away. If it takes a village to raise a child, this little one is going to have the most incredible, international, global village of the most wonderful people helping guide him or her through life. For that, we thank you.

In return for the kindness you've expressed, I made you some muffins.

Not just any muffins.... zucchini muffins! They are amazing... and I ate the entire tray (but that's allowed, cause I'm pregnant, right?). I went through a phase - the summer before I moved to New York, when I was still living in Santa Monica and working on the beach - where I would get a zucchini muffin and a coffee from the little bakery up the street, hop in my convertible and cruise down to the beach for a (very stressful) day of work. That seems like eons ago... before I went to fashion school, fell in love, turned Canadian, got married, moved to Belgium and now, prepare to welcome babyDidz™ into the world. But one bite of a zucchini muffin still takes me back to the beach...

If you'd like to be transported to the beach, or wherever a bite of zucchini muffin might take you, you can find the recipe here.

Eat them, dear friends. And enjoy. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Brussel Sprout

(recipe not included)

As if getting married and moving to a foreign country isn't a big enough adventure... we're amping it up even more...

So dear friends, while we'd much rather be announcing this to you personally, sitting together on the living room sofa, or lingering around the dining table long after a delicious feast has been enjoyed, savoring every last crumb of cake... We have no choice but to share our joyful news via the flamingoblog:

We're having a baby! 

Our little Brussel Sprout is due to join us mid-October, and we couldn't be more excited. We're still not sure what our plans will be after Didz graduates at the end of August... we may stay here, we may head home, we may go somewhere new... but for now we're enjoying the Belgian springtime with this little bump under my shirt :)