Monday, December 9, 2013

Please tell me I'm not the only person who is crazy busy!



Hello! I k now, I know, I have been terrible at blogging and reading blogs and keeping in touch, in general. It is not due to a lack of interest though, it is purely due to a lack of time. My life just seems to have gone a little crazy at the moment. I hope you wouldn’t hold it against me.

So let me see if I can do a very quick update on some of the things that have been keeping me so busy:

·         Work! work and more work!
·         Sport! With Himself out of the country for a week I had to do the single parenting thing which meant I had to go to all the training sessions for both kids
·         We had Sinter Klaas / Saint Nicholas who came round last Thursday night
·         We trimmed the tree at home
Okay, when I write it down it doesn’t seem like all that much but it really has been busy. I can’t wait for things to calm down.

St. Nicholas came to my work



We each got a little something, (speculoos cookie, chocolate and some chocolate coins)
Yum!



The table at my work Saint Nicholas party

The kids

Grauwr!



Trimming the tree

clearly feeling the joy of Christmas

I hope you are all well and enjoying the run-up to Christmas! We are all working full steam ahead until the 20th (included), and then we are going to relax. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with your blogs then to.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

For all my American friends


I hope that you have a lovely day with your nearest and dearest. That you eat too much and have lots to be thankful for. 
(we all do, don't we).

.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What do you think?



So this is all over the online newspapers so I was wondering what you all thought about this:

First Ms. Kang posted this photo on her FB page:

image was found on her FB page, but I covered the faces



Then apparently last Friday she that posted that she  was 'annoyed' by 'news stories about how overweight, nearly obese women should be proud of their bodies' - referring directly to a story by MailOnline highlighting a 'selfie' photo campaign launched by Curvy Girl Lingerie.



Now, I’m curious to know what you ladies think.

Do you think she is right?
Do you think she is wrong?
Do you think she is both a little right and a little wrong?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Phew!



What a busy weekend!  I know, they all are busy but this weekend was even busier than usual.

It all started on Friday already. I had after work drinks & the kids had their usual sport. Luckily Himself was able to sort the kids out and I managed to get home in time to put together a pan of mac & cheese out of the oven the moment they walked in the door.

On Saturday, Tiger had another football (soccer) match, which I gave a skip to go to the hairdresser. I just had to do something about my tresses! Just a quick cut & run and then back home to do a couple of loads of washing.

Cat had a swimming competition in the afternoon so after Himself & Tiger got home from football it was time to leave for that.

Poor girl was so disappointed. She thought she had a false start in the breaststroke and stopped dead … (there was no false start) so she came in 4th.  Backstroke was okay but it’s not her best. She did, however, manage to pick up a bronze medal for freestyle (crawl). Sadly Himself & I only heard about it after the fact since we on were the train on our way to Paris when she swam that.

Yes we were in Paris on Saturday night.  The Springboks were playing rugby against the French on Saturday night. We were meeting up with two of the guys I work with, and their friend/wives to watch the game.

As expected the Springboks did not disappoint and beat the French 19/10, on their home grounds. 



Picture: REUTERS via the web


I’ll admit that it wasn’t the most exiting of games but it is always fun to watch a live match.

After the game we all went and got a couple of drinks.  Himself & I made our way to another part of Paris and then made our way back to the train station. We were on the first train back on Sunday morning.

Now, all of this would have been fine, and fun. But then,  while we were waiting for our train at the station. Just sitting there, minding our own business this guy approached us and started hassling us.

So Himself just spoke to him till he got bored and walked off, only to come back with 5 friends. Then they started getting really aggressive and insulting. So we got up and asked them to leave us alone. Only they didn’t and tried to get us to react even more.

Now, normally something like this never happens. Himself is not the kind of person who looks like a victim.

Anyway, I managed to convince Himself not to react, despite them throwing a glass bottle at us and ran off down the stairs, obviously hoping to draw us after them.

So, we ended our night with a bit of ‘excitement’, hopped on the train and came back home. I got about 2 hours sleep, got up to make us something to eat and then I had to go fetch the kids from my parents.  Needless to say I was dead asleep before 10 last night. My poor husband had to work and it turned out to be another long night. He only got home at 3:30 this morning. Poor guy was broken this morning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Where shall we go for lunch? France?



I swear I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, just been really busy.

It has been so long but other than being busy we are all well.

A couple of weekends ago the kids & I went to visit my dad’s cousin Daniel. He lives in the Ardennes (hilly, dense forest area, popular for hiking and hunting).  We popped over to France for a lovely lunch.

Yeah how cool is that not, we just went for lunch in France. I love living in Belgium.

The kids obviously got bored listing to the old people talking so they went off discovering the town and taking photos …  

Point A is where we ate lunch - point B is where we live

my dad (l) & his cousin Daniel (r)



the restaurant



Hargnies - the village in France where we had lunch


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lily Allen Rocks!



I’m a huge fan of Pink because she doesn’t want girls to grow up thinking that to succeed they have to act vapid and stupid.  And because she is true to herself. She doesn’t make excuses and she doesn’t shy away from admitting that she is far from perfect. I love that fact that she will be the first to admit that marriage is hard and I love the fact that she rocks.

But Pink is not the only one.

So does Lily Allen. She rocks! and I love her new song:



Lily Allen - Hard Out Here

I suppose I should tell you, what this bitch is thinking
You find me in the studio and not in the kitchen
I won't be bragging 'bout my cars, or talking about my chains
Don't need to shave my arms for you, 'cause I've got a brain
If I tell you about my sex life, you call me a slut
Them boys be talking about their bitches, no one's making a fuss
There's a glass ceiling to break, uh huh, there's money to make
And now it's time to speed it up, 'cause I can't move in this place

Sometimes it's hard to find the words to say
I'll go ahead and say them anyway
Forget your bulls, and grow a pair of tits
It's hard, it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch

It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch
It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here

You're not a size six and you're not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight, 'cause we can't see your bones
You should probably fix your face, or you'll end up on your own
Don't you want to have somebody who objectifies you
Have you thought about your bar, who's gonna tear it in two
We've never had it so good, uh huh, we're out of the woods
And if you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood

Sometimes it's hard to find the words to say
I'll go ahead and say them anyway
Forget your bulls, and grow a pair of tits
It's hard, it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch

It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch
It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here

A bitch, a bitch, a bitch, bitch, bitch
A bitch, a bitch, a bitch, bitch, bitch
A bitch, a bitch, a bitch, bitch, bitch
A bitch, a bitch, a bitch, bitch, bitch

And I won't let you promises, that is here to stay
Always trust the injustice, 'cause it's not going away
And I won't let you promises, that is here to stay
Always trust the injustice, 'cause it's not going away

Sometimes it's hard to find the words to say
I'll go ahead and say them anyway
Forget your bulls, and grow a pair of tits
It's hard, it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch

It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch
It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here

It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here for a bitch
It's hard (for a bitch, for a bitch)
For a bitch it's hard, it's hard out here

Bitch
 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Granny Dawn



Other than the usual craziness in our house I’m going to be doing the single parenting things for the next week or so.

My granny-in-law died yesterday so Himself is flying out to support his mom.

So if you don’t hear from me it is just cause I’m busy trying to do everything at home and at work.






She once made Himself (who was about 12 at the time) take a ½ eaten watermelon back to the grocer and demanded her money back. She said that ½ in the watermelon was just not good anymore.

Not only did she get her money back, she also got a free watermelon.

Granny Dawn, she was a force to be reckoned with and will be missed!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boo!




Last week Thursday we took the kids Trick or Treating. Yes, I do know that it is an entire week too early but there is a reason for it.  Halloween is not bit in Belgium, yet. But because there is an ever growing expat community things like Trick or Treating is growing. Plus, have you ever heard of a kid who didn’t like getting free candy.

So as far as I know some years ago a couple of American moms who all lived in a specific area decide to organize it for their kids. Other parents heard about it and it grew and grew. This year I heard that more than 200 kids took part.

It is super organized. In September you get an email reminding you that it is nearly that time of the year. 3 Weeks before the night you get another email with the link to enroll before the cut-off date.  There is an entry fee of 15 euro per child. Every child will then get a wrist band and you get a map of all the houses which will be taking part. The 15 euro is to pay the houses which are taking part for the candy and a percentage of the money also goes towards charity.

There are 3 entry points in the area and the streets are closed off and only kids with wrist bands are allowed in.  You can easily tell which houses are taking part since they all have orange balloons outside.  Some of them really make a lot of effort with their decorations.

There is also a free hot chocolate stand and this year there was a mini concert at the end of one of the streets. They had put up a stage and a couple of high school kids did a mini thriller dance show.

After wards Noreen and I took the kids to McDonalds for dinner and to swap out their sweets, cause Alannah wanted marshmallows and I told my kids that I wanted their reeses cups. (I love them but you only get them in a couple of stores here not to mention what they cost!)






Tonight we have a massive party planned at the pub.  I don’t expect them to close before 5 tomorrow morning … but the kids and I will be having a quiet evening at home watching scary movies.

Hope you have a super spooky Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Part fish part girl



I am one proud mom let me tell you. Yesterday Cat took part in her first ever swimming competition. All the hard work and hours spent in the pool clearly paid off. Our girl won 2 gold medals!

One for the 100 m breast stroke and one for the 100 free style.  Then she took part in the team mixed 8 x 50 relay and was both the starter and the last swimmer since one of the kids had gotten sick.

Her times:
·         100 m breast stroke--> 1:57
·         100 m free style --> 1:38

She told one of the coaches that she is planning on swimming for Belgium one day … who knows, she might just get there.  If she does, just remember that you read about it here first.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pretoria - aka the Jacaranda city



It’s not often, but once in a while I get a little pang of ‘home-sickness’ for South Africa.  It’s not that I still consider it as being home but there are just some things that you can’t replace.  The smell of the air, the dry heat. O boy do I miss the heat!

Right now it is spring and a very good friend sent me a couple of pictures, (actually, I’m not so sure if she is such a good friend at the moment) just to remind me of what my home town looks like at the moment.

For the record I have no idea who should get the credit for these pictures but I hope they don’t mind me sharing them with you all.


We actually lived on a street that would look like this in spring






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whos the boss?



My big, big boss is retiring at the end of November. This morning we had our meet the new boss meeting, at 9!

Usually I’m in the office between 8:30 and 9, all depending on the train service. But the last week my trains have been running late, in the morning and in the evening. So I had to make sure that I was at the office on time this morning.

The kids were great about getting up earlier this morning:

Cat had some advice: ‘To make a good impression I have 3 pieces of advice for you: 1. be on time, 2. smile and 3. dress nice’

Tiger: ‘Don’t worry, you are going to get there on time this morning, I’m wearing my lucky shoes’.

I don’t know if it was the lucky shoes or not but I was on time, actually I was even a bit earlier. The earlier train was running late so I could get it and made it to the office by 8:15. ( I stopped and gave directions to a lady, else I would have been even earlier).

Did I make a good impression? I don’t know, she came in and met 35 people … I’m not going to be working with her on a one to one basis but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make a bad impression.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Girls day



On Saturday Cat & I had a girls day in Antwerp with my friend Noreen & her daughter (Cat’s ‘cosmic twin’) Alannah.

A friend had given the girls a free mani-pedi for their birthday in September and we were finally all able to meet up.

We got up early and took the train to Antwerp.






Let me tell you these girls are so spoilt. Drinking kiddie champagne & eating pretzels while having their nails done.


Alannah got a french manicure while Cat got her nails painted blue



After lunch at Pizza Hut we took them for a bit of shopping, cause really what girls day is complete without some shopping.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Last night my kitchen smelt sooo good!



Every Thursday someone in my department brings breakfast to work for everyone, between 20 – 25 people.  So each of us have to do it roughly twice a year.

Let me tell you, you never feel quite as popular as you do on that day. That is, unless you are late, or forgot. Then you are treated like an ugly step child would be in a movie.

Today it was my turn.  So I went home last night and baked up a storm. Really we even had thunder and lightning (it might rain a lot here in Belgium but we very seldom have thunder and lightning)

I baked a bacon and corn bread … and it was nice but a bit on the heavy side. I think the next time I bake it I might not add the cream style corn.  This bread was very popular but it is heavy so a single slice goes a long way.

I also baked pumpkin muffins and they were DELICIOUS, even if I have to say so myself.
I will for sure be baking them again.  I did not stick to the recipes very strictly but the end result was fantastic and that is all that counts.

That plus some fresh bread from the bakery, cold cuts, cheese, and fruit juice … the breakfast menu was complete.

please excuse the quality of the photo, taken with my phone at around 11 last night

again, bad photo, taken last night before the glaze was added. for some reason the photo I took of the glazed muffin did not want to load.


Bacon & Mielie bread
(mielie (pronounced mealie) is Afrikaans for corn.
PS. This is not the recipes I used but I think it is a slightly better one since it does not call for the creamed style corn.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8 Rashers of Bacon, Diced
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ¼ cup Butter, melted
  • 3 cups Corn Kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2½ cups Cheddar Cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 170 ºC and then start by frying up the bacon bits until crispy.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  3. Whisk the melted butter, milk and eggs together in a bowl.
  4. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well.
  5. Add the corn kernels, cheese and bacon bits to the mixture and blend well (mixture will be thick).
  6. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and top with half a cup of grated cheese.
  7. Bake the bread for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow the bread to cool before slicing. Top with butter and enjoy as a side or for breakfast.
Credit goes to:
Serves: 12

Pumpkin muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)**
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice***
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar****
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

* I used 2 ½ cups
** I bought a small pumpkin and made pumpkin puree from scratch, you can’t buy pumpkin puree here in Belgium. It came to about 1½ cups worth of puree
*** yet another thing that you can’t buy here in Belgium so I just added 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp - ish of  ground cloves & about ½ tsp of nutmeg
**** I used nearly a cup of brown sugar but because that was all I had in the house and all the shops were closed I used plain old white sugar for the rest. Also, I might have used more than ¼, but whatever.

Instructions

Whisk* together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl. (I did not do this at all)
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture (again, didn’t do this at all). Bake at 350F / 170 ºC until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. (I think I baked them for about 18 min in a fan oven, so just keep an eye on them)
Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.
* I used a metal whisk and whisk it all by hand, that way you don’t over mix (don’t they always tell you not to over mix muffins?)

Before going to work this morning I quickly made a glaze to drizzle over the muffins.
I didn’t measure anything out, just a blob of butter, melted in a pot, some icing sugar, a dash or two of vanilla and some syrup. Mixed together and drizzle. I’ve run out of maple syrup but I think if you used maple i/o regular it would be even better.

credit: the basic recipes, before I got hold it can be found here