Friday, November 26, 2010

The first jingle of bells

Yesterday, the first snowflakes hit Belgian soil. The Brussels’ Christmas Market is ready to open. My Christmas decoration is impatiently waiting in our garage. Temperatures have dropped below zero, and the hilly Ardennes got a beautiful white carpet. Winter has arrived. Meaning:
- P & I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary
- It will be “Sinterklaas” very soon
- my birthday is in a few weeks
- and so are Christmas and New Year.

In other words: I never know whether to feel happy or sad this time of year. As a result, I always get stuck in some kind of nostalgic twilight zone. But I’ll do my very best to stay focused on all the twinkly Christmas lights, and forget that’s it already dark at 4.30 pm. I’ll also try to forget my age, and refrain from the habit of making an analysis of the past year. I’ll try to lower my expectations concerning parties, gifts, surprises, etc. And there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll be celebrating New Year (ever) again in an airplane. I won’t cry on my birthday (another bad habit), and I’ll try to control myself when it comes to Christmas decoration (but can’t make any promises on that one...).

So there, these are my “Old Year resolutions”.
Should be entirely do-able :-) (I know it should be "feasible", but do-able is just a funnier word)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FYI : it's PTO

This conversation took place yesterday evening

N : I have a job interview tomorrow evening
P : Well, you better be home on time, ‘cause I have…P – T – O !!!
N : huh?
P : PTO!! It’s this really cool new thing we have at work!!!
N : (questioning look, & noticing that this PTO thing must be far more interesting than her job interview)
P : “Protected Time Off” !!! Everyone on the team now has one PTO-evening, so we can do stuff like sports, or meeting friends, or going home on time,…!!!
N : Wow – careful, you guys might end up having a normal life…

So ,for the past 7 years that P has been working at the Big Consulting Company, I’ve been asking for one free evening a week. You know, just one evening were we could have dinner together around 8, just like normal people. Needless to say, this never happened. Up until this three-letter word appeared. Now it’s suddenly “a really cool new thing”.

And that’s why, dear readers, from now on, I will put all my wishes and demands in three-letter words. Because apparently, a little marketing-trick is all it takes.
These are some of the projects in the pipeline:

WTP : wish to procreate
CAN : communicative action needed
PTT : planned time together

Damn, this is so easy! Now a little power point presentation to sell the whole idea, act as if it’s a totally new concept, and BINGO!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Life path

My parents.
Does this picture need more words? I guess not.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three-dimensional experience

Tonight I took my godchild A and his mom to the movies. For me, it was going to be a “first one”, namely my first 3D-experience. After 5 minutes, I felt as if my eyes were going to pop out of my head, cartoon-style. I was squinting so hard that, by the end of the movie, all the carefully applied anti-wrinkle serums of the past 5 years were a wasted effort. Teary eyes followed. A headache was building up. I was even getting dizzy.

A quick search on the net learned me that I’m not the only one suffering from these side-effects. While typing this, my eyes are still acting weird – as if my left eye is focusing on a point further away than my right eye.

So, sorry to say this, but I hate 3D. A screen is flat – I like to keep it that way.

Other than that, the film was great. A. wet his pants after a bucket of coke, and not reaching the toilets in time during the break. He walked out of the theatre in his undies, covered up by my long winter coat. He told me and his mom to stop laughing (which we tried, but failed). We introduced the new term “poop” instead of “shit”( maybe now you know which movie we saw). We took goofy pictures with our 3D-glasses on. We stole a parking spot from someone else. And we ended the night at McDo. Not a “despicable” night out at all :-) !

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The yearly visit

Waiting room full of new moms and newborns. And soon-to-be-moms. And me.

Finally, my turn.

(skip details)

Doc : So you want to have children? I see here you said so last year. And plans yet?

Me: well, yes. And no.

Doc : (in a very sweet voice) You know that as of 30 your fertility seriously decreases, and it takes another plunge downwards around 35, which is..(checks my file) ah, within one year. In my own experience, couples over 30 take about a year or more to get pregnant – if it all works out allright. So I’ll be honest with you: if you want children, and especially more than one, no, there is not that much time left.

Me: (nodding, smiling) Mhmh. Right. (as if I didn’t know all that already).

Outside again. On my bike, going very fast downhill. Sometimes the ice cold wind is a welcome excuse for watery eyes. And thank god for the Dutch goodies waiting for me at home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dutch delicacies

P and I just got back from a little get-away in the Netherlands. Arnhem, Nijmegen, the Veluwe, and lots of rain. But it was great to pay another visit to our neighbours in the north. The friendliness of the people, the cleanliness of simply everything, the car-free city centres, the cheap grocery shopping, the cool clothes shops, the coziness of the pubs and restaurants…It all adds up to a place I love visiting.

And then I haven’t mentioned the food yet. For years Belgians have looked down upon the “Dutch cuisine” – don’t ask me why. All I can say, is that every time I go North, I spoil myself endlessly with
- saté saus (a sauce made of peanuts),
- stroopwafels (fresh waffles filled with sugar syrup),
- apple pie (it’s their staple food),
- pancakes (there’s a “pannenkoekenhuis” with at least 30 varieties in even the smallest town),
- snert ( a thick pea soup with pieces of smoked sausage),
- Fries suikerbrood ( bread with loads of sugar and cinnamon in it),
- vla ( a kind of light pudding),
- hagelslag (very small pieces of chocolate or coloured sugar that you can sprinkle on anything you like), - and last but not least : poffertjes (best described as tiny, puffy pancakes, served with butter and sugar).

The list of jummy foods gets significantly longer at this time of year, because then the Dutch celebrate “Sinterklaas” (the original version of Santa Claus). So think: pepernoten, kruidnoten, gevulde speculaas, taai-taai (all different kinds of biscuits full of winter spices such as cinnamon,) , letters van banket (flaky letter-shaped pastry filled with allmond paste), etcetera, etcetera.

So it should be no surprise the P and I came back with as much food as our tiny fridge and kitchen can contain. We imported a bit of Holland into Brussels – and I think that it’s safe to say that, by the end of this week, nothing will be left of it. Eet smakelijk!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brain zaps

Twinge, snap, zap goes the brain
Making me even more insane
Don’t worry, just a side effect
Go on and try to neglect
Feeling like you’re coming down with flu?
Ah, side effect too
Being nauseous and dizzy
Also part of this cold turkey
This is the reward for feeling better again
Blowing up your last smile and “zen”
Checking if you’re really up to it
Want to stop? Here, another crying fit
Think you can do without?
Fine, here’s some anger – feel free to shout
Aah, what a shame – you forgot
You’re too weak, are you not?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Move over, Ladurée

So you thought you had to go to Paris for the best macarons, hm? Wrong! THE Best Ever, without any doubt, are to be found five minutes from my doorstep (as if having the best cupcakes just around the corner wasn’t enough).

Fabrice Collignon is the man who does all the magic. He has worked as a “patissier” in several multiple-Michelin-star restaurants in Paris, New York, etc., before settling down right here in Brussels. The macarons are homemade on a daily basis, and they melt in your mouth before you can say “whoa, what was THAT?!” Seriously, Ladurée tastes like rubber compared to these. Like an angle peeing on your tongue – or so the Dutch saying goes.

And then I haven’t told you anything yet about his heavenly, and very beautiful, cakes. Or the biscuits. Or the pralines. Just go check it out for yourselves. And don’t shoot the messenger for that extra pound you gained after just one visit.