Saturday, October 25, 2008

Winter saving time

Hi guys

Just want to let you know that this night we change to winter saving time!
3 am becomes 2 am
I know that you'll follow, but later...
In the meantime, enjoy your "summer" (which is not a problem in sunny California of course).

Love you

Friday, October 24, 2008

Flanders hugs

On my drive to work this morning, I was listening to the radio and heard that today is "Hug day" in Flanders. "Hugs are free" today!
So, my dearest friends, all around the world:



Monday, October 20, 2008

Elewijt - Village with a future

This is what I read in the newspaper today: Elewijt - Village with a future
Village with a future was a competition which 93 villages entered to try and become the "Village with a future".

Elewijt entered the project "Een stoel voor jou" (a chair for you). Click on the link to see some pictures of the decorated chairs that were on display everywhere in our small village.
Ger De Broeck invented the concept, the idea behind it was to bring people from our village closer together by putting a chair outside your house (nicely decorated) and thus inviting your neighbors or other people passing by to sit down, have a talk, relax.

Beginning of this year the workgroup "De stoelmadammen" (the chair ladies) started the project. A few actions were organized to visualize the project and chairs could be seen everywhere in the streets. On April 26, children from the local school and youth movement painted chairs. But also other locals did their best to create a nice chair.
All chairs were on display during the weekend of May 11. That weekend we have a half marathon in our village and also the local procession.
The action ended by the end of August.
And the winner is: ELEWIJT...
a reward of 10.000 EURO will be invested in a big party for the village of Elewijt.

Isn't it great to know that you live in a "Village with a future"?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A new member of the family

"Finally" Axelle would say! And indeed, she was already asking for a pet in Marina del Rey, but we always told her she would have to wait till we were back in Belgium. I think she did her best waiting, considering we are back in Belgium since mid-July! Yesterday she got her cat... she's (it's a female) named Niki.
The story behind this adoption is the following one.
On Wednesday we went to the shelter to pick out a cat we would go and get this Saturday. We wanted a little tiger and saw a little male we wanted to give a new home. He had had a vaccination earlier that week and was not feeling well, had a bad reaction. Anyway, they told us they would give us a call in case the cat would not be able to go home with us on Saturday. Since I did not get any calls, we assumed that on Saturday Spiky (that's how we wanted to call him) would be our new pet. We were told at the shelter that Spiky was not doing well at all and that they had to put him into quarantine because his health condition even got worse.
And so Axelle started playing with this cute little black cat and little misses black came home with us. She was eager to step into the transport box, did not complain at all on the way home and quickly adjusted to her new home. In the evening we had visitors and she was not shy at all but wanted to be cuddled by them all. Crazy isn't it... Most of the time cats will hide in a new environment, well, that's not our Niki!
So here she is, are new little darling.... we're all so happy to have her in our lives and hope she'll live long and happy for many years !

Monday, October 13, 2008

A very unusual weekend

This has been a very unusual weekend... filled with happiness and also with sadness.
Let's start first with the sadness, so we can end this post on a happy note!
Friday evening we got the news from our neighbors Rosette and Monty that their grandson had had an accident. He was biking and a car drove him off the bikepath. He was seriously injured and is still in the hospital. It has been a very emotional weekend for our neighbors, since Saturday was also the day we would celebrate Monty's 60th birthday. The party went on as scheduled, but of course our thoughts were with their grandson.
Also this weekend, my mom told me that my uncle was hospitalized... Actually, considering what could have happened, this was a good thing, since he escaped a heart attack by going into the hospital with some health complaints. Normally he will be back home tomorrow...

And now the nice things about the weekend...
The weather! Yes, the weather! We have had a very nice and rather warm weekend, temperature about 70°F... nice for an autumn weekend! It was even warmer in our garden, since we face South and are well protected on our patio.
Saturday was a rather busy day. Axelle went with me to the place where we would celebrate Monty's birthday to help me and Mira (Monty's daughter) decorate. We finished in a bit more than one hour and went back home. Axelle wanted to stay with her friend Dieter and so I ended up by myself. In the meantime Alain had gone to do some shopping and to check on my parent's computer. I took time to go and shop for a nice dress for the party and to get a big birthday balloon. Except for some ironing, I did not do a lot on Saturday... it was party time after all!
At 5pm we were expected at the venue for Monty's birthday and a lot of guests were already there when we arrived. The party started with some drinks and little snacks and dinner started soon after. We had a Flemish style buffet... for those who were at our Welcome Back party (some of the dishes were the same). While we were eating a magician was demonstrating his tricks at the tables. Amazing what that guy could do... This was fun for everybody, not just for the kids!
After dinner, a first suprize for Monty... He did not know that weeks up front his wife had contacted the guys from his former rock band and that they agreed to play music at this party. But that was not all the surprise, his daughter sang the song he sang years ago while entering a competition. She changed the lyrics and made it a song about him and how he met his wife. Very nice and the whole audience enjoyed it!
Last year Monty and Rosette did not celebrate their wedding anniversary because we were not home yet, so this birthday party was also a celebration of their wedding anniversary... only thing was that Monty did not know about it. Rosette arranged to have a fake minister in the room and so they exchanged vowes again (but believe me, funny text... nothing serious about it). Everybody in the room had a good laugh and that was the whole purpose about it.
After the exchanging of the vowes the dance evening could start. And so we danced the night away! Exhausted (especially our feet) we arrived home around 2 am with a very awake Axelle in the backseat of the car... amazing how she stayed up till that early hour.
Because we had "enough", or should I say "more than enough" to drink on Saturday evening, Sunday started with a headache. Good thing Advil exists and that I bought tons of it in LA... (lol).
Once the medication started kicking in, I felt up to doing some usefull work outside. So I treated the patio to a major cleanup action. In the meantime Alain was building a cathouse with Axelle. Axelle has been very persisting... she wants her cat soon, very soon...
The cathouse is now installed and nothing stands in the way to go and get a young cat at the cat shelter next weekend. Axelle is all excited of course... and if I'm honest... I'm too!
We were most of the time outside yesterday and even had a bbq... probably the last one of 2008. But, I've said this before, so I'm still hoping we can do this again soon...
Today is another beautiful day... same temperature, but I'm at work (this is my break at noon) and so I'm only enjoying the sun through the windows.
I wish all my friends a good week and sunshine in their hearts!
To those who are sick or hospitalized: I wish you a quick recovery...
Love you all...

Pictures will follow later...

Monday, October 06, 2008

A busy breweryweekend

Indeed, a busy weekend it was ! On Friday evening Laurie, Jon, Laura and Alan arrived. Laurie was the photographer that made such a nice photo shoot of our little family in Marina del Rey. Jon, her husband, is about to start up a small brewery with tavern and his intention was to visit as much breweries as possible during their stay here in Belgium. Laura and Alan are Laurie's parents and they were together with them on the trip.

They already arrived in Holland a few days before, but we had the honor to have them at our place during the entire weekend. On Friday evening we had dinner at home. I made pork filet with a sauce with geuze beer and mustard. They seemed to appreciate it. It's easier to drink and eat geuze, then to pronounce it (isn't it Laurie?)...

On Saturday morning we had a good breakfast, Axelle went to oma and opa and we started our brewery tour. We drove to Beersel (close to Brussels) where we visited Drie Fonteinen. Although the brewer did not have a lot of time to explain everything, he really made a big effort so we did not have to leave empty handed. We also tasted the real geuze and the real kriek… which means without added sugars. The taste was totally different (read less sugary) from what you find in stores. But of course that’s what made it so interesting.
Our next stop was a café “De Kring” which is very close to Brewery Boon. Brewery Boon was not open during the weekend, so the only way to taste their beers was to go to the nearby café. The owner, used to having visitors from abroad, immediately gave us his visitor book so our American friends could sign it.
Next stop was Geuzestekerij De Cam. They have a nice and cosy restaurant. We tried delicious dishes like: kriekjes met ballekes (meatballs with cherry in cherry sauce), pens met appelcompote (white sausage with appel sauce), and so on… Everybody was very happy to get some food after all the beer we already tasted, and before it would start over again. At 5pm we had a guided tour at De Cam. You could immediately see that this guide was extremely happy with his job. We learned a lot about fermenting, blending and so on and left De Cam to go home and change for dinner.

Dinner we had in Mechelen, a town at 15 minutes from where we live, in the restaurant “Het Anker”. This is the restaurant that goes with the brewery where Gouden Carolus is being brewed. Unfortunately the brewery was not open for visitors, because they were renovating. Lucky we were in good company because they were having a problem in their kitchen and so it took more than one hour to get our plates on the table. Also lucky that it was SO good that it had been worth waiting for. Most of their dishes are prepared with their beers… yummy.

Everybody was tired, so we went to bed after dinner. The next day would be a busy one again. Alain went with Laurie and Jon to a café close to Brussels, which is called “Verzekering tegen de grote dorst” (or translated: Insurance against being large thurst).
They came home and we immediately left for Beerzel, a village close to Lier and Putte. In Beerzel, ‘t Hofbrouwerijke brews very delicious beers.
We even bought a full crate, because I liked it so much!
Also the owner was so full of energy talking about his brewery… we learned a lot and Jon probably did not miss a word.
The brewer mentioned that we could go and see another brewery in Itegem, close to Beerzel. Here we went to Brewery Serafijn, where we first of all had a snack (our insurance against being drunk!). A tour of the brewery followed for those who were still in the mood. I stayed with Axelle in the tavern.
Back at home I prepared dinner: Belgian endives with ham and cheese sauce and sausage with Brussels sprouts… two typical Belgian dishes.

I had to say goodbye on Sunday evening, because Monday morning was back to work for me and they were all still in bed when I left the house at 7am.
Hope they had such a great time as we did!
Looking forward to seeing you them again in California or in Florida…. Who knows!
Hereunder: Laurie and Jon - Laura and Alan - us ...