Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm on board

When you asked me to join you to cooking class, I didn't hesitate one moment. I love cooking classes! There are always new things to learn and when you explained this class was vegetarian, I wanted to go. The teacher has a history of knowledge on cooking macrobiotic meals and she is more than willing to share that information with us. I'm not much of a meat eater, but I'm no vegetarian either. I like my vegetables, don't get me wrong, but I'm not really familiar with the vegetarian diet. So I packed my notebook and I was very anxious to learn more about it.

My sister-in-law has been working for this company in vegetarian produce and she's a fan of the diet. I know she has a lot of knowledge to share as well. So yes, I'm happy she asked me to join her. I have eaten things I had never tasted before. Some I liked, some were a real turn off, but I'm open to tasting anything. I'm a little hesitant to bring the produce into our home, since my husband is a meat eater. He would not replace his meat by substitutes. I don't look at it that way. I don't want to replace anything. I see vegetarian food as a bonus to my dishes. It's good to bring some variation into your diet, so you get to absorb all the vitamins one could possibly need.

Looking forward to the next class. I'll see you in a bit.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do you remember the times...

Her name was Kathy. She was my best friend in elementary school. We would sit next to each other from first grade until sixth grade and were really upset if we couldn't for some reason. Because we shared our name, our friends would refer to us as Kathy 1 and Cathy 2. She was Kathy 1, first in the alphabet by her last name. We lived on the same street and we would always walk home together. Her parents were divorced and that was not very common in those days. She was a quiet girl, but very outgoing when we were together.

On the playground, we would hold hands and play games. She would bring her elastic band and I would bring a hool-a-hoop. I have no idea if kids still play these games during recess? The elastic band game asked for 3 kids, at the least. Two kids had to step inside and hold the band around their ankles. Another child would jump over and in between the elastic band by a certain sequence. If the child had finished that sequence, the elastic band would be shifted up higher, up to the calves, then the back of the knees, thighs and waistline. Most of the time, we wouldn't be able to finish the game, for the schoolbell would disturb us. There was always another recess to continue the game. Thinking about it, brings back good memories of my friendship with Kathy 1. I hear from her every now and then. She has two kids, just like we do. Isn't it funny that her and our youngest went to summer camp together, not knowing their moms used to be best friends? We didn't find out until after camp. But that was kinda weird to know. She looks so much like her mom and Kathy 1 said the same about our daughter. L'histoire se répète, one could think. But that won't happen. The girls are no longer in elementary school. Teens don't play old-time-games any more. But I'm happy they still have best friends to talk to. I'm sure they have a lot to discuss, just like we did in our days..

Monday, May 27, 2013

I have this crazy idea

My husband says I'm not normal. To a certain extend, I can't blame him for saying so. It's probably not very common to start cooking as soon as you read a recipe. He's always amazed at how I can start to cook just out of the blue, no matter what time of day it is. It's not about the eating, it's all about the cooking or baking. If I get hold of a cookbook full of pictures, it just makes my mouth water and my fingers itch to get at it. So I think about my supplies and an instant smile appears on my face if I'm sure I have all the products in my pantry. Whether I want to cook mushroom soup with three kinds of mushrooms or bake bread rolls or a moist rhubarb pie: I can do it. In the meantime, I prepare my oatmeal and fruit breakfast for the next day or I beat batter to make pancakes for tea. Sometimes the bowl of my Kenwood has to be taken out of the dishwasher to serve for the next recipe. Am I crazy? Obsessed? Totally insane? Probably. But I love it. I love the chaos and the activity around the kitchen. TV doesn't do anything for me. Except if the Food Channel is on. Maybe I should have a TV in my kitchen, so I can watch new recipes while I'm cooking and indulge all that new cookspiration.. Can't wait to do some more grocery shopping. I'm mentally preparing myself to the menu of the week and I'm getting all hyper over it. Now let me be, okay? I have to stir that sauce and check the oven, for the house is smelling of home made bread..

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flash in the pan

Okay, this is the deal. I have this book on baking bread (yes, I have more than one and I read them like novels) and finally I have found the time to start acting. I have read all the guidelines and reviews of other bakers and I felt like I was ready set go. Not that I haven't baked bread in the past, but I have always had the feeling that I lacked professional background. The breads tasted right, but they did not always proof the way I wanted them to. Some breads had holes in them (they were not donuts, so there were not supposed to be holes in the middle), others were chewy and not risen to the fullest.

Photo Cathy Van de Moortele
There is this Dutch lady on Facebook I have been reading for a while. I follow her recipes and I read the reviews. This week I made my first order in an online bakery shop and the goodies came in the very next day. Can you imagine the butterflies inside my tummy? I'm sure my friend Jan has this same feeling when his goodies from Ali Express fall on his doormat..

I love the Internet. You can communicate with other bakers and the responses come as fast as you can type. It's been a big help so far. My first bread according to the new guidelines, came out real well. I'm not being real honest now. The first bread ended up in the bin.. it didn't even make it until "bread" phase. I trashed the dough, for it was too tough. I tried to soften it up by adding some more lukewarm water and oil, but that ruined the whole recipe. So I started all over. (thank me for all of the extra supplies in the pantry - I can give myself a pat on the shoulder for that.)
So the first/second bread came out and it had risen all above the tin, just like it was supposed to do. The crust was just perfect and we couldn't wait for it to cool down so we got the bread knife out. The top of this Tiger Bread or Dutch Crunch bread is supposed to look like Tiger fur.. well.. it didn't. It doesn't change anything to the taste, but it didn't look right.

I'm stubborn. I wanted my Tiger Bread to look like Tiger Bread. So later that night, I started all over, again. Darn me! When did I run out of fresh yeast? I did have some grain yeast in my pantry. Although I prefer the real stuff, there shouldn't be a problem with prepacked yeast. When I lifted the towel to check on the bread, I immediately knew this bread was not going to proof in the same way as the other one. I should've waited for my baker to open his shop in the morning, so I could get fresh yeast. O well. I'll do it again. Monday, I promise. 

Born again

Sometimes in life, we do things or make choices we later regret. No matter what led us to making that choice, we should hold ourselves responsible. There may be circumstances where one could say: I honestly believe you had such a rough time that you saw no other way than to do what you did. Of course there where other solutions, but you were either not ready to see them or you chose to pursue the only way you knew. It takes courage to change your ways and perseverance to go on. Giving up will most certainly have been a possibility that crossed your mind. Something or someone must have given you the strength to give up your addiction and start all over. With a family of 5 children, things needed to change. You were about to loose your job over your addiction and that would've been a total disaster. Your children have only known you as a father that was never present. They missed a dad, being there for them. They remember you as being away or claiming the couch because the alcohol had made you sleepy. The day you gave up drinking, your children were no longer children. They already had a life of their own. Have you set an example to your children? Did you ever talk to them about what an addiction means to your family? It's been 21 years now, since you have sobered up. I met you 19 years ago and I've never seen the drunk man you were before. Every Monday, you meet with your fellow friends to talk about your addiction. I don't know all of the steps in the plan, but is there a step that teaches you how to talk about your addiction with your family? Are you never afraid one of your children will become an addict as well? I know it scares me.. They say kids mimic their parents. If you grow up with a parent who thought drinking is a normal way of life, does that make you more vulnerable to getting an addiction yourself? Is the drinking a way of dealing with problems and emotions? How do you deal with issues if the only way you know, is loosing yourself in alcohol..

I'm happy you have been sober for 21 years. It gave you a different life. You have been given a second chance to be born again. I hope you are happy with the choices you have made. It was to the benefit of your family. Has it been beneficial to you too?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Let's call it a day

It's quiet around here. Apart from the monotonous sound of the dishwasher and a lonely car passing by, I can not hear anything but the sound of my dogs lips, while breathing out. Taking a look to my right, there is our tomcat Arthur, safekeeping the remote control. Only a few inches apart, Inthe is sunken in a deep sleep and breathing heavily. Would she be dreaming about chasing hares or getting a treat of dried cow's ears? I love to observe their ways and I often wonder what they would think. Rebba's nose is touching Inthe's bum, as they lay beside each other on the couch. Rebba's teeth are showing and I can see her Adam's apple going up and down as she swallows. Her heart is pounding rapidly in her supersoft chest. It feels like it's made out of shammy. I like to stroke her chest. Whippets have very soft and vulnerable skin and..

It's 23:15. I should be in bed by now. Can't stop looking for recipes though. The house is still smelling of the Italian ciappe I made and I'm sure I overdid on trying them out. Too much carbs for a late night snack, but I couldn't resist to try some ciappe with pesto. The number on my Dexcom says 183 and a downwards pointing arrow is reassuring me I won't need any more insulin to correct that number.

Had some lovely conversations today. Have been asked to give two more presentations on diabetes. Two lunch dates have been set and one of them is going to be a blind date with a person I have only known by mail so far. Exciting!

It was a productive day as well. Being introduced to vegetarian cooking is interesting. In cooking class you get to meet new people and you get the chance to share opinions and ideas on food and cooking. We exchanged foodblog links and webshop addresses and it won't be a surprise to you that I have made new wishlists. In between cooking class and setting appoints, I found the time to reorganize half of my pantry. I felt like a kid in a candy shop, typing necessities on my BlackBerry grocery list.

I needed some distraction today. It was good to talk to my friends and hear their voices. There is one voice I will never hear again. One person I will never again exchange recipes with. Her Christmas cookies in a jar will never be opened, for I want to keep them as a memory of my friend Suz McDonnell.. Her passing away has made me realize once more how precious life is and how short our time on this planet can be. I don't want to go to bed yet. Maybe there's no time to waste. Maybe I don't want to lie down and let my mind wander. I need some time by myself, to reflect over life and the afterlife.. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


When I taught my children how to wash their laundry or iron their clothes at the age of 12, it was not meant as a punishment or as slavery. I wanted to teach them about the importance of being self-reliant. I wanted them to be independent teens going into adulthood. They know how to cook simple meals. They know where to find things at the supermarket and they make their own appointments with the hairdresser or doctor. It's good to see that they gain more confidence every time they stretch their limits. They may not fully realize it now, but they will once they will leave the house to go live by themselves or with a partner.

I was in highschool. Probably around the age of 15. We had sewing class (I don't know if they still do sewing class nowadays) and the theme of that month was: sew your own skirt. I sucked at sewing. It didn't interest me either. In fact, I could care less. I liked the teacher though. We got along well but sewing was just not my cup of tea.
My mother is a seamstress. She sews for a living. The most obvious thing to do, was to let her make the skirt for me. I didn't even assist her or asked her about the way she was going to design the skirt. I knew what it was supposed to look like, because my teacher had briefed us.
The next time in class, we had to show our work in progress. Not one student could show anything decent or be optimistic about the assignment. To the surprise of my classmates and the teacher, my skirt was already finished. The teacher was full of joy and she asked me to step forward and show the others how I had made the skirt. All of a sudden, I was sick to my stomach. I told her I felt nauseous  Could I go see the school nurse?

Without any doubt, my skirt looked the most professional and I got fabulous grades on my report card. Was I proud of myself? Did I learn anything? Apparently not.. my husband is good at sewing buttons on shirts or fixing holes in clothes. He didn't have a mom to fix everything for him. He had nobody else to rely on. He learned a good lesson..

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reality strikes

I met Suz on Facebook, through a mutual friend. We exchanged several mails and pretty soon, we realized we had so much in common. Suz is Canadian and she got married to her big love, Wilfried, who is half Belgian but lives in Holland. Looking through their marriage album, anyone can tell how happy they were on their wedding day.

Suz and Wilfried came to visit us around Christmas. There was not one minute of silence between us. We discussed recipes and we both spoke our favorite language: English. Wilfried had his coffee and I could see the admiration in his eyes, while observing the love of his life. These two were truly made for each other. You were so excited about your upcoming trip to Canada. You wanted to bring Wilfried along and show him your region. How sad were you, when the C-word came in the picture again and ruined your plans.

I knew about the C-word that had affected Suzy's life. When she told me her back hurt like crazy, she went to see several doctors and therapists. Her worst fear was back... oh Suz.. why? You were so happy with your Wilfried and your furry friends. The way you talked about your kitchen and the Creuset cooked meals for your husband, that really warmed my heart. You had to go back to the hospital. Things weren't going well, but you were courageous and determined and Wilfried was the most supportive man. Nearly every day, you posted a picture of you in the hospital, on Facebook. You wanted us to know how you were doing. People from all over the world supported you and we loved seeing how you continued to take care of yourself. Wilfried brought your own pillow cases, so you would feel at home. You found the energy to put on bright lipstick or make some decorative element in your hairdo. We loved your hats and you wore them like a queen!
You were so sorry to loose your hair again, but proud as you were, you could put that pride aside and take off your blonde wig. That's you, Suz. Just the way you are: nothing to hide. Your inner beauty is plenty. It made us forget the baldness. You were very good at staying strong and keeping your calm although your inner fear must have been so big. We all knew how much you loved Wilfried. You saw his sadness and you didn't want him to suffer..

I hadn't read much from you in the last two weeks. You didn't post any pictures and you didn't write down your thoughts. That was worrisome. When Wilfried posted some updates, we all realized things weren't going right. Your energy levels were dropping and you were getting sicker.

Today Wilfried had to make the most difficult decision ever. Medication was not kicking in and the doctors had told him there was not much left they could do. I'm so happy Suz had talked this over with Wilfried. The doctors have put Suz in a deep sleep, to make sure she won't have any more pain. It might be a matter of days. This is so sad, but it's the last Wilfried can do for his lovely wife. What a brave man. What a brave couple. Don't be sad, he says. It has been enough. Suz is done fighting. She needs peace now..

Dear Suz, I had no idea this would affect me so much. One moment, you were sitting around my coffee table. Now you're in a deep sleep. We didn't have time to say goodbye. I don't want to say goodbye. I want to read you, I want to see your pictures and your wonderful smile. I want to see your hairbands and your lipstick and I want Wilfried to polish your toenails. You're done fighting Suz. You have done so much, but there's nothing more you can do. You are loved by so many and so is Wilfried. Your love will always remain.. Then why is there this ugly lump in my throat?

Your wedding picture says: All I want to do, is grow old with you.. I'm so sorry for the both of you. May 2012 was such a great month for you both. I'm so happy you finally got to marry this wonderful man... Keep an eye on  him, Suz. I'm sure you will inspire many people from wherever you are..

R.I.P. Suz lost this valiant battle May 23.. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The way you make me feel

When I'm with you, I need less insulin. You have your very own particular way to bring peace around the house. The gift of being around someone without speech, is special. Sometimes I wonder what we would talk about if you were able to speak. Being a young girl of 5 and a half years old, you would probably talk about your friends in kindergarten, your teacher, birthday parties, toys and games or story books. Every now and then, I hear your voice when you make happy sounds. You have a very nice voice. I sing songs for you while we hold hands. At the end of every song, I kiss your neck and I make funny noises. Tickling the inside of your legs makes you laugh out loud. I give you tons of little kisses and you can't get enough. It's so good to see you enjoy life..

When you are ready to take a nap, we cuddle on the couch. My right hand is holding your legs together in my lap. Your tiny hands fit right into my left hand and you clasp one of my fingers to make sure I stay right there with you. Our heads touch and our cheeks feel soft against each other. I hum in your ear and sing you lullabies. Your blanky keeps us warm and in a jiffy, you doze off. Every now and then, I see you peek through your long lashes, just to make sure I'm still there. I cherish these moments and I listen to our heartbeats..

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Should I have said something?

Let's assume your parents occasionally have a drink when they go out. A glass of wine at the dinner table or a refreshing beer on a hot day, a glass of champagne to celebrate a special occasion. Sounds acceptable, right? Not one person would say this is socially not acceptable, since the drinking habit is within limits.
Let's assume your parents have a drink or two when they go out. They have a drink at home, before they go out, because it sets the mood right. They treat their friends on shots at the pub and they think soda pop is for teens. How about a glass of wine with every meal and a shot of whiskey to round the day? Maybe a small glass of port around 11 AM, just for the fun of it? Half a crate of beer at a family party, just to show off and let their friends know how tough they are? What if they let you, at the age of 12, sip their drink, to see if you like the taste? Is that acceptable?

I wonder if there is a connection between the attitude towards alcohol and the chances you start to abuse alcohol, if you were introduced to alcohol at an early age. If you grow up under the assumption that alcohol can be used on a daily basis and as a part of a healthy, normal life, would you consider that strange? Would you question your parents about it? Maybe you don't know any better, since you trust your parents to raise you in the best possible way. They want you to become an independent individual with a mind of your own. To them, alcohol is part of that life and considered normal and acceptable. So you grow up and live your life and just like your parents, there is always an occasion to drink: a celebration, not feeling well, a rough day at work, one more glass left in a bottle you wanted to throw out, sad moments, happy moments, social drinking, getting promoted, 11 AM shots (as long as you don't drink before 11 AM, it's normal, right?). The alcohol makes you happy. That's what you experienced as a child. You saw your parents laugh and have a good time while having a couple of drinks. Easy, right? They would open a bottle of comforter to help getting rid of grief. There was no shoulder to cry on, because there was a cabinet filled with bottles to choose from.. A different drink for every emotion.

Are parents the role model in drinking behavior? How do you teach your children about moderation and the danger of addictions? How come 14 year olds are binge drinking without anybody stepping in? What's your role in educating your kids alcohol is a drug too?

I'm sure there are plenty of excuses: it's genetic, it helps me relax, it takes away my sorrows and I'm much more happy and cheerful if I have a few drinks. Does anybody tell them about the aftermath? Do they realize problems don't disappear but only get bigger? Do they discuss hangovers in a serious conversation or is it cool to tell others how much you have been drinking? What is the role of the parents? Is it necessary to step in and set the example?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How was the party?

Waking up with a pillow full of vomit, wearing jeans instead of pj's and without any idea where your T-shirt is, is not the most attractive way to wake up. Your throat is sore and feels like sandpaper. You are so thirsty and your head feels like someone is using a meat mill to grind your brain. You try to get your legs out of bed and you stare at that pair of jeans that isn't yours. What the heck.. You reach for the door knob and on your socks, you sneak out of the bedroom, assuring to be quiet because you don't want to wake anybody. In the bathroom, the clock is telling you it is late afternoon. Is that clock working allright? You take a glance in the mirror and the image is telling how you are feeling. Like crap, that is. A peek through the window says there is no sign of your car. Shoot.. Rubbing your temples, you try to figure out what had happened to previous night, but there's only a black hole. You remember going to the pub just down the street and having a great time with your friends. You taste the sweet wellness of cherry liquor, although it no longer tastes the same as the night before and right there and then, it makes your stomach twirl. You fall down to your knees in front of the toilet and you fear your guts may come out. Never again, you promise yourself. This was the worst hangover ever. You fear going downstairs because you don't want to face your parents. Their disappointment will be huge and the rant will be correspondingly. There is no time to come up with a plausible story, since your mother is trotting up the stairs. Your heart is pounding in your body and you try to prepare yourself for the storm in the glass..

It's part of the growing pains. There's no use crying over it. It happens and we can only hope it won't happen again. It's a good lesson in life. Alcohol makes you sick and it wipes out your memory. It makes you feel invincible one moment and it turns you in to a terrible mess the very next. It's up to you where to draw the line. The life of a teenager isn't always grand.. Let's hope not too many people witnessed your disastrous night.

Peace of mind

I was 18 and I had just finished highschool. Not ready to go to work yet but not knowing what direction I was headed to either. That was a hard one! I know I didn't want to go to university. I was not that much of a student. Not that my grades were bad, I just didn't like to study on a regular base. So university was not an option. College. Okay, that sounded more like it. I wanted to go to school in Ghent, because that's where all the fun was, right? I wanted to move out and find a room. In Ghent, obviously. Because, well, same reason.. I just had no clue what I wanted to study. My mom made the decision for me: I was not going to Ghent, not by any chance. I didn't understand? Was it because my sister was already studying in Ghent? I didn't see the problem. She did, so I heard. She suspected her second child to be out and partying all night long and neglecting school. I had no intention to do that whatsoever. Of course I would go out for a drink with friends, every now and then, but I would not get drunk or sleep on a street bench or do drugs or anything like that?

So she decided I couldn't go to Ghent. She also decided becoming a kindergarten teacher was the best option for me. Wasn't that the choice she had wanted to make for her own career? Hmhmhm. I admit I'm creative and yes, I'm good with kids. But becoming a kindergarten teacher? That was not an option I had considered myself. I was more the Tourism type. I wanted to do something with traveling and languages. But hey: I had the choice: go to school to become a teacher or go to work. So far for a choice..

I decided I wanted to go to college and I chose a school as far away from home as possible. It was a 2 hour ride by train and I have spent many boring hours on that wooden train seat before I treated myself to a car. My mom had no other choice than to let me rent a room in Eeklo. For her peace of mind, she agreed Eeklo was not Ghent and there weren't as many pubs or facilities to be distracted.
She and my sister accompanied me to visit different rooms. That first room was horrible. This old lady was looking for a resident companion. She had the attic for rent and there was this unstable stairways to my room, that she would push up at night, so I would be locked up in my room until the next morning. I'm sure my mom was thrilled by this idea, but I wasn't!

I ended up living with two sculptors. We became pretty close in the 3 years I shared a house with them. I loved my room. It was in the middle of the center (okay, Eeklo is not Ghent), close to school and vivid enough for me. Although there was no cell phone to check on me and the sculptors didn't spy on me, I behaved pretty well for a college student. I didn't go out every night and I didn't need alcohol to have a good time. I still didn't like to study a whole lot, but despite all of that, my grades were very good. To be honest: I was a good student and I ended up being one of the best students in class. My teachers told me I was going to be a good teacher. Then why was I so opposed to becoming one? It's your guess..

Friday, May 17, 2013

Just say when

Although I try all different kinds of food, I'm a picky eater. I like to know what's in my food and how it has been prepared. When I go out to eat, I'm happy if the waiter can tell me more about the preparation method of the food I'm willing to order. Is there a possibility to have my meat grilled or to have a sauce on the side? I like my steak medium rare and I will send it back if it's overdone. I don't mind paying for my food, as long as it's well prepared and to my taste.

I remember the Olive Garden in Kissimmee, Florida. We went out for dinner and we were going to have a salad on the side. We were impressed by the big bowl of fresh greens, crispy croutons on top and sliced bell peppers in all kinds of bright colors. When the waitress stopped by with her cheese mill, I was happy to see her grate a big chunk of Parmesan cheese over the salad. No prepacked fake Parmesan: yay! She said: just say when.. I'm happy hubby didn't understand her. She was still grating cheese when he said: when is she going to stop grating??? It gave us a lot of excellent cheese and a wonderful dinner. I like it when waiters do the best they can to give you good quality food and try to satisfy your needs. Would you like a baked potato instead of French fries? No problem, ma'am. Fresh pesto instead of cream sauce? Of course. Without asking, a slice of lime is making that cold water taste a whole lot better.

Call me spoiled, I don't care. I like creativity in the kitchen and it immediately shows the stock the chef has on board. If it's impossible to have the "shrimp stir fry with noodles" without the shrimp, you know they just open a bag of frozen rubbish. I like my food fresh and tasty. When the menu says: vegetable curry with fresh coconut, I check the open kitchen and I never hear the cook crack an exotic coconut... Then why state it's fresh? They can't fool me..
If I want prepacked food, I'll have a box of lunchables. Never!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To hell and back

You were expecting pain and tragedy and a lot of inconvenience. But magically, you are doing really well. Of course you feel they have operated on you, but it's not like the pain is unbearable. I'm glad you follow up your doctor's advice to keep quiet and relax. We have installed you on the couch, the remote control within reach, the bottle of diet coke next to you and no work that is waiting to be done. You are being fed and waited on. That's the least we can do to take away any discomfort you may feel. After all, we want you to be up and going in the best possible way and time. It will take some time before you will be dismissed from not driving your car, so visits need to be scheduled if you need a ride. Of course you have your iPhone to keep posted and there's Facebook to log into. You even have the chance now, to read the newest Dan Brown without being disturbed.

The dogs miss you. They miss their long walks with you. From the day you came home from the hospital, they have been pampering you. Animals have a sixth sense when it comes to feeling their people parents are not ship shape. They are calm with you. It's been a week since we saw them jump you over to lick your ears and face like they do when you come home from work. They lay by your side on the couch and they take turns putting their heads on your knee. They kinda like the ice pack you're using to take the swelling away. I'm glad they are taking good care of you too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Life, O-Live

I was sitting on the couch, my notebook in my lap, typing some new recipes for my cookbook.
You were in the kitchen. I could hear you break eggs in a bowl, shoveling with pans on the cooker. The chopping sound of the knife while you were cutting up some fruit for a fresh fruit salad. The radio was on and I heard you sing along with Life, o life..

Instantly a smile occurred on my face. I assume you must have been 3 or 4 years old when this song by Desree was a hit. You thought Desree must have craved "olives" for making a song about it... We have laughed about this for many many years and every time we hear the song, we don't need words. Just looking at each other is enough to bring back the memories..

Memories are important in life. It's the memories that bring us back in the past. They make us relive the happy moments. Children grow up fast. Very fast. The memories may fade, but they won't go away, for we keep them alive. Or was it O-Live?

Monday, May 13, 2013

The immediate now

There was a long line waiting at the reception of the hospital. It was an early rise. We left the house at 6:15 AM and by 6:30 we were number 7 in line. Most of the patients present needed some sort of knee operation. Some were there for a follow up consultation. I was not ready to hear any horror stories about things that went wrong or about horrendous misfits. At that time, I was happy hubby is selectively deaf. He was so busy stressing out, that he probably didn't hear half of the conversations, or he would've left the clinic right there and then.

The nurses were expecting their patients and the rooms were prepared. Hubby and his room mate were asked to put on their operation outfit. A questionnaire kept us busy for some time:

"Please state your name"
"What operation is awaiting you?" "Right knee?"
"How much do you weigh and how tall are you?"
"Are you sober?"

     Dang... I didn't eat, if that is what you mean?

"No, I meant: did you eat or drink anything?"

    No more than 2 cups of sweetened coffee.. That's okay, isn't it?

"Sir! You were not supposed to drink anything, not even water or coffee! We will have to delay your operation.."

     Are you kidding me? I guess not??

"Are you on any medication?"

     Yes. I take tablets for high blood pressure.

"Your blood pressure is 20/10. That's not good at all. Did you take your medication?"

     Well, I'm supposed to, but I didn't. I forget taking them all the time. But I do have them at home..

"That ain't gonna help much, what do you think? This is a dangerous situation sir. I can't believe you're doing this..."

I'm glad this discussion was not held with my husband, but with his roommate. It did mean though, that my hubby was first in line. The nurse started to shave his knee in a fast mode, since he was expected downstairs. In a jiffy, he was shaved and disinfected and ready to go. I kissed him goodbye just outside the operating room. I knew he was in good hands and the sedative had taken away the stress. The operation would take no more than 10-15 min.

I waited and waited some more. One hour. Two hours. Nearly three hours and half later and a lot of other patients that came out of the operating room, but still no hubby. Had there been complications? Probably not, because they would have warned me, right? Isn't that why they asked me for my phone number?

That's when I heard his voice and even a laughter. He was in bed, looking bright and happy. Pain free at last! The pressure was gone and I could tell he was happy to be alive and almost kicking. It would take the rest of the day before the surgeon would stop by and give his blessing to go home, but hubby could use that time to rest and watch TV, while I ran some errands.

I picked up the kids from school and we went back to the hospital to pick up dad. He was happy to see the girls and they were relieved to see him without pain. His leg looked a bit swollen but it wasn't sore. We packed his bag and loaded with prescriptions and guidelines, we took off. Hubby insisted on using his crutches and he didn't want me to go get the car. He is not a pussy you know! He hobbled all the way down the parking lot to the car, but I assume he was happy he got there in one piece.

We installed him on the couch with some extra pillows and a drink, while we got started preparing dinner. I'm grateful for the help I got from the girls. While Inthe and Rebba were taking turns in nursing daddy, I peeked over to the living area to see how he was doing. He was looking good. In the immediate now, he's perfectly fine. Let's hope it will be the same tomorrow....


Today is the day. You have been in pain for way too long. There was no rush to go see a doctor, since doctors and you don't match. But it has come to a point, that there is no more time to waste. Your knee looked twice as big as usual and the pain killers were disappearing faster than ever. So you went to see our GP. Like I thought, he forwarded you to the hospital, to take a scan of that painful knee. We all knew the inevitable outcome of that scan: an operation. That's what you have dreaded all along. It's the only solution though. You like to play tennis and do sports. It's not possible to keep working out with a knee that won't cooperate. 

Your baby brother has been a great help in getting an early appointment. Surgeons are very popular and their waiting list is longer than my wishlist. I expected them to schedule the operation around September. But hey! you were lucky! You had to wait no longer than one week before they will operate your knee. I know it freaks you out since you cannot stand pain. But you're in good hands. Your brother will be there to keep an eye on you and to make sure everything goes well. Don't worry. You may close your eyes and before you know it, you will be awake and in your room. I'll be there, to help you sit up and encourage you. It will be hard at first and you won't be able to climb the stairs. We'll make you a bed downstairs and there are crutches in the car so you can move around when you are ready. 

Good luck hubby. You'll do just fine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


"Happy Mother's Day"

Photo Eva Joos
I'm blessed with two wonderful daughters.. They are the best daughters I could ever have wished for. Although I had not planned on having children, they came upon our way and they have enriched our lives ever since. I'm a lucky woman, I realize that. Who would I be without my baby girls..

Thank you for being who you are sweeties. You make me laugh, you make me happy. I love to hear your stories, to sit down with you and talk, to spend time together in the kitchen. It warms my heart when you open my very own cookbook to surprise me with a treat I wrote down for you. Let's cuddle up and feel our warmth. I love you girls.. Being who you are is the best present a mom could wish for..

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mama always said

If you don't like your dinner, breakfast will taste extra good in the morning..

I don't know what kind of mom you are, but my heart is not strong enough for this. For many years, I have cooked different meals for all of us. You don't like Brussels sprouts? I'll stir fry mushrooms for you. Don't feel like having boiled potatoes? How about mash or scalloped potatoes?

I'm not convinced this is the best way and I'm sure it will not teach my children to taste different foods. Making them eat things they absolutely despise, is not the answer either. I'm still traumatized by my mother's "hutsepot". Ugh! She would make me eat it for dinner. I would cry over it and she wouldn't let me leave the table until my plate was finished. By then, the "hutsepot" was cold and even more repulsive. Just the smell of it, made my stomach twirl. Then why did she expect me to eat it? I could never understand and up until this moment, I'm not going to eat "hutsepot". When she got sick of watching me sit there, poking the dish without eating it, she told me to leave the table. First thing I got the next day: exactly... the game started all over again, until tears rolled down my cheeks and vomit came up in my esophagus trying to get rid of that nasty stuff. I would constantly gag and the food would sting in my throat, in a desperate attempt to go some place. I wished I could disappear somehow or someone would call my mom, so I could spit it out. Her method obviously didn't work, on the contrary. I will NEVER EVER eat this horrible "hutsepot". I guess my children will never try it either. Is that so bad? Will they lack vitamins if they don't eat this food? Don't think so..

Then what is the best method? How do you make kids enjoy all kinds of food? By eating it yourself? I know kids imitate their parents all the time. So yes, my kids love frog's legs, they like shellfish and complicated dishes, they don't even mind spices in their food, but no, they don't like cabbage, turnips and leeks and all those snotty vegetables. They despise the rim of fat around meat and yes, just like me, they cut out the lean piece and give the fatty bits to their dad.
I make them eat veggies every day but they get to pick their own choice. Whether they have their greens cooked, steamed, baked, fried or even raw: I don't care! As long as they have veggies on a daily base. And that works well. If that means I have to make zucchini pancakes or spinach casserole: that's what I do. Cause in the end, we all want to have a good time around the kitchen table and we don't want to nag about food... 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In a slight state of shock

I'm not exaggerating but I was truly in a slight state of shock, when I looked into the software of my Dexcom. Since the last meeting with the Dexcom rep and the phone call with my diabetes nurse, my numbers have been so much better. This time I have plenty of energy to fill out my food diary. It's no problem to write down what I've been eating or checking my BG. I have a date with my endocrinologist beginning of June and I'm sure he will be surprised to see the results of these few months with Dexcom. Not many doctors are truly convinced by this concept, but that is because they don't see enough patients who use it on a permanent base. I remember one of my doctors telling me, that by no means I would be able to get those high peaks out of my system. Because they are part of having type 1 diabetes. Well, I don't agree. I won't say it's easy to work things out, but it can be done. It takes a lot of work and I need to remain alert. It's not always possible to bolus half an hour before I start having a meal or a snack. It needs concentration to think about the amount of carbs I'm going to have half an hour before mealtime. But it's feasible. Looking at the results, it's worth the effort and I'm ready to try out new things. My nights have been so much better. Staying away from lows and highs, I am rested in the morning. I wake up before the alarm and my head is not that heavy. I hope my weight will come down again if I can prevent more lows from happening. At least those swings in my BG have reduced and that's what I was looking for.

For the first time in years, I am using my Multiwave bolus for every meal or snack. I dose most of the insulin right away and save the rest to be delivered over one hour. That in combination with the bolus half an hour before mealtime, is doing the trick. Never give up on your diabetes treatment. There is a way for all of us, to get better control...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

School's out for summer

I can't believe this school year is already coming to an end. It's your last year in highschool. Today was a special day for all of you. You were celebrating the last 100 days in highschool. All dressed up, you and your friends left the house in the middle of the night, on your bicycles, to Eeklo, where all of the excitement was going on. You had a blast! Looking like a rock chick, tattoos and all, you wandered around town, celebrating and cheering.

Tonight, there will be a mega party for all the students. It won't be too long before class 6D will split. It will be a strange sensation, to say goodbye to highschool. I remember my days and how things would never be the same again. Enjoy those last months sweetie... You're almost off to college now. We came to the realization that you won't spend much time at home anymore. That's okay with us. That's the way things go huh? It's part of growing up and moving out. You're ready. Go girl!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Things are not always what they seem

We met and before we realized it, we were living together. Things went pretty fast and we got to know each other in a real short period of time. You worked three jobs and so did I. After work, I tried to cook a full meal, existing of an appetizer, a main dish and dessert. It was that time of the year, that the white gold was available. I just loooooove asparagus and I wanted to treat my new love with a wonderful dish. I put a lot of work in my dish and I was so proud to present you this delicate vegetable. You were hungry and ready to dig in. I was truly surprised when you spit out your first bite and said: ugh! this is no good! I was astounded and I tried my asparagus. They tasted just right to me. What was wrong? You told me it didn't taste like the salsify you were used to eat. Hello??? These weren't salsify, it were asparagus???

Okay, you had never eaten asparagus before... It wasn't a pleasant dinner and my ego was smashed to pieces. Nowadays, you love asparagus as much as I do. Whenever we get the chance to have asparagus, we order them.

Last Sunday, we went out to dinner. We didn't have asparagus this time. We frequented an excellent restaurant in Knokke. After all, this was not just a restaurant visit. We had something to celebrate. We have been married for 18 years. We have learned a lot about each other in that period of time. For better or worse. That's what we told each other when we got married. There have been ups and downs in our marriage. But we are still here and we are closer than we have been before. I'm a lucky woman. I love you xx

Monday, May 6, 2013

I would be so lost without you..

Photo Lana Joos
I got really emotional, when I saw the two of you on the couch. Inthe hasn't been feeling too well lately, recovering from a strained muscle in her hind leg and the bruises from jumping over barbed wire. Rebba is like a true nurse, taking care of her friend and licking her wounds. Inthe has had difficulties jumping on the couch. She's doing better now, but she's still careful.

But I was saying, I got a bit emotional when I saw the two of them on the couch again. I'm sure they missed each other. Inthe has spent quite some time in her bench, sobbing over her injuries. Now that they can lay beside each other again, Inthe has her friend back. And that showed!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Maintenant je sais

For over one year now, I have had the opportunity to come to your house and spend time with you. You have grown taller and our bond has become stronger. You know when I'm with you. Although you are not able to tell me, I feel that you enjoy my presence. The way you tuck your head into my neck when we cuddle up on the couch, gives me such a warm feeling. I can honestly say that you are a very special girl and you have your own ways to let people know that you care about them.

When I applied for this job, your parents told me about the epileptic seizures. That they may occur every now and then and that I shouldn't be afraid. That it's best not to hold you while having an episode, but to put you into your chair or to lay you down on your changing table. It is important that I talk to you and comfort you and let you know that you are having a seizure. You must hear that it will be over soon and that you'll feel better afterwards.

No more than week ago, I asked myself why you had not had seizures in my presence during that year. Did you want to protect me? Did you think I was not ready to witness one?
Last Saturday, I was saying goodbye to you and your daddy, when all of a sudden, your eyes rolled back and your limbs started to tremble. Your daddy held your hand and struck your arms. He talked to you in a very calm voice and told me that you were having a seizure. I held your other hand and we both remained calm and spoke to you in a soft voice. It didn't take much longer than one minute before you came back and I was relieved to hear your laughter. You were euphoric that the seizure was over. You laughed out loud and you waved your arms and legs in an attempt to let us know you were okay.

I'm glad your dad was there. It was the first time I had witnessed an epileptic episode. I'm okay with it. My blood sugar dropped instantly but I knew that was going to happen. I knew you were okay and that was the most important...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Does this sound count as annoying?

Back in the '80s, we were in the midst of renovating our house. Because of all the dust and the work going on, we temporarily moved in with our grandparents for a couple of months. They lived in a different town but not that far off. My grandparents were really funny people. They loved to laugh and we had a wonderful time staying there. It must have been around the summer that we were hosted in their house, because I remember the jingle of the ice cream truck. Most of the time, my siblings and I were playing outside. Their was a rectangular grass field not far from the house. A small chapel was on one of the sides and we used to play ball there. As soon as we heard the ice cream truck, we would race back to grannies house and beg for some change. She would always give us the money to buy ice cream. We would pick a corn with one or two flavors of ice cream. Grandma would pick an ice cream sandwich, 3 flavors in one: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. When I think of it, I can still see her lick the sides, her eyes closed so she would enjoy her treat to the fullest. I don't recall my grandfather having any. Maybe he wasn't home around that time, I don't remember.
I have good memories of the time I spent with my grandparents. Grandma was there for us and we could always play outside with our friends until sunset. Sometimes our uncle stopped by. He owned an MG convertible and every time he drove into that street, he would honk his horn to warn us. We were all chipper and jumping up and down so he would take us along for a ride..

Nowadays, there is no more ice cream truck in our town. It's a shame. There used to be one, when we just bought the house. Some neighbors complained about the hour the truck drove through town. Their kids would be in bed and rush downstairs to get a cold treat. Maybe the truck will come back one day... just maybe. Just for old time's sake..

Friday, May 3, 2013

It just made my skin crawl

This week, I have been speaking to a lady friend I hadn't seen for a while. Although she only lives a block a way, we sporadically run in to each other. I do know her phone number by heart so sometimes we talk to one another to see how everybody's doing. She works hard and with 3 kids and a husband, there's always a lot of work to do.

She knows how passionate I am about food and cook shops and food stores. So when she called me to hear if I was interested in going to the ISPC in Ghent with her, I didn't hesitate one bit. I had done my grocery shopping that morning and I had just unloaded the car (not only the trunk, but the seats were taken as well). She has a van and that comes in handy when you go to the ISPC. Some other friends warned me to leave my VISA card at home and I told myself 1 shopping bag would be plenty.

I guess we had not been in the store for more than 5 minutes, when my first goody was in sight. I have been longing for this pastamaker I can attach to my Kenwood and there it was: like it had been waiting for me to pick it up. My friend has the same Kenwood and we both decided to get the pasta maker. What a joy! When she talked about the Robot Coupe she had ordered and the Green Egg she had bought, I could only sigh and dream on. I have many appliances in my kitchen, but they are nothing compared to the professional tools she's using. The thing I really like about her, is that she's so normal about it. She doesn't brag about it. She's just happy sharing the information and I love to hear her talk about her kitchen utensils.

This morning, she had provided me with a 5 ounce piece of pork shoulder, to make slowcooker pulled pork. I had planned on making Mexican carnitas with the result and since the slowcooker would need 10 hours to shred the pork, I had time to make fresh ravioli with my new toy. There's nothing wrong with my manual pasta machine, but the electrical version works so fast and the pasta sheets are much smoother. It means I can make much more pasta in one hour. The veal ravioli is sitting in the freezer now and I'll bring her some after work tomorrow. She was going to make me some sweetbreads topped with foie gras. I guess my belt will need an extra hole.. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

If you're a mom and you're the cook in the house, I'm sure you have had this conversation over a zillion times. Every day you cook lunch and dinner and you make dessert and sometimes you run out of inspiration. So you ask your family what they would like to eat for supper. Guess what? Same answers as you get? "I don't know" or "Whatever you make is fine". I hate it when they do that. I put a lot of time in my cooking and if I ask, it's truly because I want them to think and tell me what they like. It doesn't happen that often, maybe once every 2 months or so. But I have a plan.. I will ask them and if they can't come up with an answer, I'll only cook the food I like. Isn't that the best idea? It would make things a whole lot easier for me, because I sure know what I like to eat. It would mean a lot of pasta or dim sum, salads or stir-fries. It would mean almost no meat and more fish and broth based ravioli. They'd better be aware...

I'm ready to bake cookies now. A recipe I have chosen. I don't need their help for desserts, thank you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

He is the cheese to my macaroni

The broad smile on her face, that went from ear to ear, said it all. "It's been three months today", she informed me. I saw her eyes twinkle like stars. She's madly in love.. It really warms my heart to witness that pure love. She said he had a surprise for her. No school on May 1st, so the ideal day to go out and have fun in the sun. He was going to pick her up on his Dax. Yes, that same vehicle our little girl is dying to buy. He has had one for over 2 years now and he's a good driver. I thought 20 km was a bit too far to come pick her up. But the idea was real romantic and sweet. He definitely wanted to see her..  

We decided I was going to drive our kiddo to a different meeting point. Grandma's house sounded like a good deal, since it's on the way to BF's (boyfriend) house. He had not forgotten to bring an extra helmet, size S. How considerate! I saw her hop on his Dax and put her feet right where they belonged. I could tell she had been on that Dax before. She blew me a kiss, just like she did when she was a toddler. Holding her arms around his waist, they left for a surprise picknick in the woods. I was truly moved by this gesture. What a nice young man.. He's a lucky man too, for he has picked an amazing girl as his girlfriend..