Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Where is The Food??????

Photo Lana Joos
That's what my two impatient whippets seem to say, when they sit by the cupboard that holds their pellets. They know the exact hour they are supposed to be fed: 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM. We're not always home around feeding time. That's when they sit outside in their larger kennel. They know they have water and pellets available, but they won't have any until we get home. They are our treasures..

Monday, July 30, 2012

You're getting there

Photo Lana Joos
Taking care of two young boys - one has Asperger's syndrome -  you make some babysit money. The boys' parents own a small restaurant. That night, only one of the boys was at home and all of a sudden, the other one could spend some time with a friend, so you had nothing to do. The parents asked you to help out in the bar, cleaning up and rinsing glasses. Your eyes lit up right away. It was a step up for you and a welcome change. Apparently you did real well and the owner of the restaurant asked you of you would be willing to help out in the future? Of course you would!

I told you about the jobs I did when I was your age. One of my jobs was working in a restaurant. There was room for 50 guests. Marianne was the cook and her husband Sonny supervised the restaurant. It was my job to serve the guests, to make the drinks in the bar, help out in the kitchen, clean up the bar and do the dishes when the guests had gone home. I had to vacuum the restaurant late at night, change the linen on the tables and polish the wine glasses before I put them back next to the clean plates. At midnight, after my shift, I would kick out my high heels to walk home on my nylons, rubbing my sore feet. My back would hurt from running around all night, carrying 3 plates at once and washing copper pans in the kitchen. It was a hard life and it didn't pay much, but it gave me independence and freedom and that's all I needed.

I'm proud of you. It's rewarding to see that you are willing to work and build up experience. It will make you stronger and you will appreciate the money you earn. Go for it. Pull up those sleeves and make the best of it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Give me your hand and I will hold it

Last night, we dropped of our youngest child at the restaurant, where she takes care of two young boys. The weather was still nice and we decided to sit outside on the deck and have a glass of wine. The place wasn't crowded and we were relaxed. Some appetizers were ordered and we enjoyed a night by ourselves. It had been too long since the two of us took the time to have conversations over a glass of wine. Why don't we make it a habit, to take the time as a couple to do things together? Some grown up time? Would you like that?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Don't reprimand me

Some time ago, I blogged about how people try to interfere when you have diabetes. They always seem to know someone who has "severe" diabetes (do they mean yours is not severe?) or who has lost his limbs or sight due to diabetes. They tell you what you can't have or do and saying it, they indulge a huge piece of cake covered in icing. They tell you to exercise while sitting in their lazy chair themselves. Not being familiar with diabetes, they pretend to know more of the subject than you do. Until you talk about carbohydrates, ketoacidosis, glycaemic index or glucagon. That's when they stop babbling and when their mouth drops open. You tell them your disease is not called "the sugar" but Type 1 diabetes. You inform them that you didn't do anything wrong but you got it nevertheless. It's not contagious: anyone could get it. Yes, even you, who is telling me all about what I'm not supposed to do. I wonder what it would feel like to you, if you got diabetes and I would tell you what to do. Would you appreciate my interfering with the way you treat your diabetes? Don't think so. Think twice before you reprimand someone else. We do the best we can.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I don't know what to say..

What can I say, other than I'm sorry?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A plan!

July 23 1992. Twenty years ago.. The day I crossed the ocean and started a life of my own..

On my way to Portland, Oregon, I was taking a deep breath on that huge airplane, thinking about what I had got myself into. Making the decision to go live abroad for 13 months, is not something you do overnight. It took me several months of preparation and hard work, to earn the money and pluck up courage for this major adventure. Without any help but an add in a local newspaper (no Internet back then), I found Au Pair Homestay USA in Overijse. This was the organization that would help me live my dream. How friendly and kind they were and the information they gave me was making my heart tick even faster. Meeting up with former au pairs, was so exciting, that I wanted that July 23rd to be there asap.

Once I was given the documents and files on my au pair family, the dream started. I was going to Portland, Oregon!!! My host family had a 3 yo girl, by the name of Natalie Scott. They lived on Southwest Brae Mar Court, on top of a hill, seeing out over downtown Portland. Looking through the pictures they had sent me, I realized this dream was really going to be reality in no time. I had to finish College first and make sure my grades were good. I was a good student though I didn't foresee any problems of that manner. It was good to discuss my plans with one of my teachers. He knew exactly what I wanted to do and he gave me his full support. I graduated and packed my bags, leaving the student behind and welcoming the adult I had become.

Meeting up with the other girls at Brussels Airport was thrilling. I was surprised though, to see so many of them in tears. Why were they crying? They were about to experience the best year of their life? They were hugging their parents and handkerchiefs were wet with tears. My family stood there. We didn't hug. We didn't cry. I was very impatient and couldn't wait to hop on that plane and leave. The relationship with my parents was not of that order, that we were so close we couldn't miss one another. I must even admit it was a relief to get out of the house and become independent. Too many rules and not enough love, made me run off. By the time I got on that plane, Belgium left my head to make room for the US. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made. It sure changed my life dramatically.. My childhood was over. I was ready to live my own life..

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A good friend

is someone who knows all about you and loves you nevertheless.. How many good friends do you have?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bedtime reading

Some people like to read a book in bed, before they turn off the light and close their eyes. But how about reading your friend's messages on Facebook before you head off to bed? Isn't that the modern version of bedtime reading? I like to check the statuses of my friends on Facebook at night. We like to chat and tell one another about our day. It's rather addictive to check Facebook. You keep pushing that refresh button to see if anything has changed. Isn't that silly? On the other hand, you get in touch with people that you never would have talked to without FB. For instance, other diabetics, who live all over the world. I like to read about their way of diabetes treatment and how they motivate each other.
I need to find the balance between bedtime reading books and bedtime reading facebook. How easy the days were, when we were young and facebook was not even in sight..

Monday, July 23, 2012

What a difference!

You were counting down the days. Today, around 8:00 AM, your orthodontist is going to free you from your braces. Your eyes are sparkling and your hands are sweaty to see the outcome. What a relief it will be, to let your tongue touch your smooth teeth. I'm sure the orthodontist will clean your teeth thoroughly before she will hand you the mirror to check out your new mouth. Smile sweetie! Congrats for not giving up. It took you a while to get those wonderful teeth, but it was definitely worth the effort. Keep brushing!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

مرحبا بكم في مراكش

We couldn't decide whether we would book a vacation or not. Thinking of going back to Florida, one of the girls protested that she wanted to go some place else. A place where she could visit historical sites and learn about the country. On the other hand, daughter number two was more than willing to go to Florida. She mainly wants to shop and lie down by the pool... Hmmm what a dilemma... I'm not entitled to take a break yet, since I just started working again. Hubby worked hard all year round and he's desperately looking forward to some time off and a vacation abroad. Arrgghhh!!! We need help!

We decided the kids would go to summer camp and the oldest daughter is starting her first summer job in August. Maybe we could go to Florida around Christmas? Or to Indiana? How about Bali? Darn.. if only all of us could agree on a destination and a set a date?

My in-laws would like to come to Florida with us. They talk Easter vacation 2013. That was the plan. Until Lana told us her class was planning a schooltrip to Italy around Easter. And Eva just announced that she would like to go to Durbuy to take courses so she could become a monitor for summer camps. So the Easter vacation is a no-go as well.

At work, we discussed the schedule for August. My employer and his family have planned another break, meaning I would be off August 10 - August 20th. So the idea started to grow in my head, that maybe, just maybe, we could escape from our rainy country and enjoy some sun some place else? I have always wanted to go back to Morocco. Not Agadir this time, but Marrakech. I would love to stroll around the Medina and enjoy the Moroccan cuisine. Just bed and breakfast and no children around. It's been a very long time since mom and dad went away all by themselves. The girls will be very disappointed, but we'll make it up. I'd better schedule care for the whippets as well. Arthur can stay at home, but the dogs would be better of at Fiefoerniek's to go play with their whippie friends.

I'm looking forward to the Arabic sounds, the music, the food, the sun, the atmosphere and some quality time with my husband. La Sultana looks very appealing and luxurious to us... Can't wait to go..

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Un poco di pepe


Cooking and baking is such a rewarding hobby. I'm so grateful to have a well equipped kitchen, full of all the appliances I could wish for. I spend quite some time discovering new recipes, completing my cooking blog, trying out different flavors. There is a never ending source of recipes on the Internet. Just try the search engine machines and surprise yourself. People who say: I have no idea what to cook, have not discovered these sites yet. I don't have enough days in a month to try out all of those new recipes. That's why I prepare several dishes a day and so many menus a month. I learn so
much from trying out and although I have not taken any classes, I feel my experience is grower bigger by the day. I love to improve my produce knowledge. Always looking out for new products, I don't hesitate to enter foreign supermarkets and explore what they have.
 It's good to hear my children recognize different spices in the food I cook. How often do they enter the kitchen, saying: it smells of this or that... because they recognize the herbs I use. They know what dim sums are, they know the difference between cilantro and parsley and if I ask them to hand me over the baking soda, they know exactly where to find it. Is it common for teens to have smoked salmon blini's or home made crab ravioli? Probably not.. at least, that's what their friends tell me. They are used to having mashed potatoes, sausages and applesauce. Nothing wrong with the Flemish cuisine, trust me. But there's so much more to discover. Get your peppermill ready for un poco di pepe on top of that wonderful tomato bruschetta. Really, give it a try. It is so satisfying..

Cilantro lemon chicken
Chorizo baked potatoes egg sunny side up
Chicken Enchilada

Friday, July 20, 2012

A smitten kitten

You are coming home today... It's been too long. Not hearing anything from you was really weird. I'm not used to not talking to you and you couldn't even bring your cell phone along. That was a hard one. Not only for us, but also for your boyfriend..

Last night, I was just typing a note for him, to ask if he wanted to join me to come pick you up at the railway station. All of a sudden, the door bell rang. Not expecting anyone, I opened the door and to my surprise, your sweetheart stood on the sidewalk. He asked me if it were okay if he would pick you up at the train station. That was so sweet of him! I could've hugged him! I told him about the message I was sending him an instant ago. What a coincidence! 

Of course he can pick you up. He is so in love with you.. and you will be so happy to see him. I'm sure you will want to take a shower, but he'll take you to MacDonald's first. That's what he promised and I just know you will be very happy to go. I hope to see the two of you somewhere in the afternoon. He's more than welcome, you know that. It'll be good to have you home honeybun xx

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Salt 'n Pepper

I'm proud to announce to you the opening of Salt 'n Pepper, the best Indian Restaurant in Ghent. My friend and her husband are the new owners of this place, that serves the Indian Mughlai Cuisine. All dishes are prepared on the spot and are super fresh. The chef integrates a special variety of herbs and spices. The ingredients of the Mughlai Cuisine are carefully selected. We talk cayenne pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and garlic, to name a few. Indian food is good for you. It has plenty of vegetables and fresh herbs to tickle your taste buds.

Starting with the typical Indian home made roasted fennel papadums is just wow! Not to be compared to the store bought version: absolutely not edible. Dip your papadums (they could be compared to very thin crackers) in the accompanied sauces or chutneys.
We tried the samosa's to experience the street life of India. Apparently every streetcorner in India has samosa stands, just like we have our French Frie places. These deepfried triangles contain  minced meat and an exquisite pallet of flavor.
We asked for the vegetarian version, just for the hang of it. We got two and I wanted to ask some more, but we had other dishes coming up.
My friend had Matar Gosht, a lamb stew with peas, onions and tomatoes. The smell of turmeric, cumin and nutmeg was overwhelming. I even dared to pick a piece of lamb, although I am not a lamb lover. I must say: the meat was very tender. I still prefer vegetarian dishes, but the lamb was sweet. A side dish of white rice came with the stew.
Durbari Aloo
My favorite dish of Bombay Potatoes is called Durbari Aloo (aloo meaning: potatoes) in Salt 'n Pepper. It's a tasteful dish of baked potatoes,
tomatoes, mustard seeds, onions, ginger, cumin, coriander and fenugreek leaves.  It was rather spicy - a bit too spicy for me - so next time I'll ask to tone the spices down a bit. But I loved it! I dipped my freshly baked Naan bread (baked right there on the spot in a authentic Tandoori oven) in the sauce of the Durbari Aloo and I truly tasted India. My rice pilau was moist and a great side dish.
I wish I could have had yellow Pakistani mango for dessert. I will tip the owner about serving this delicious Pakistani fruit in his restaurant. It's just so sweet by nature and totally different from the more common green/red mangoes we know.
It was a wonderful visit. I hope to go back soon and have some more Indian Chai to quench my thirst after a delicious meal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot legs

I was discussing the difference in food culture between America and our small country. My American friends were appalled by the fact that we eat horse meat, frog legs, squab,.. I even fooled you for a moment, Paula,  telling you we prepared chicken pot pie with peacock instead of chicken. Just kidding, my friend! We would never eat peacock! Go figure! But yes, we have horse meat and squab and even frog legs. You told me you had never heard of anyone eating frog legs. A couple of days later, I saw a documentary on the Hairy Bikers in Arkansas. They went "frog gigging", meaning they went hunting for frogs to eat them. They would use a spear  with 3 or 4 barbed tines, to catch the frogs. A flashlight shone into the eyes of the frog, would make them daze, making it easier for the hunter to gig it. The popping sound it made when the spear was dug into the frog, was absolutely gross. I have no idea how our frogs our caught. I don't even know where our frog legs come from. Maybe China?

The way those Hairy Bikers prepared their frog legs though, looked very tasty. They would roll them in flour, shake of any excess, dip them in buttermilk and then cover them with Japanese panko bread crumbs. Once that preparation was done, the frog legs were fried in hot oil and then dipped in spicy BBQ sauce, just like they would do with chicken wings. Trust me, frog meat is very tender and tastes somewhere between chicken and fish. Just like crocodile meat. In New Orleans, it's pretty common to have crocodile for dinner. We have it in our supermarket on special occasions, but it's not exactly something I would pick. I have tried it when I was in New Orleans and it tasted pretty good, but not that good that I would prefer it over a juicy steak.

One day, Paula, I'll bring my family to the Hook Ranch. I promise you: we won't bother your frogs. They can live happily every after. They look much better with their legs attached to their body..

Monday, July 16, 2012

Please don't cry

What age is a fitted age to look after someone else's children? I'm not sure. Remembering my first babysitting years, there were different children I used to look after. Some were toddlers, others were teens. The first night I looked after someone's child, I was only 13 myself. The parents had asked if I had done this before. I nodded - and I lied.. for I had never looked after anyone.. The child was not even a child. It was a 2 month old baby. So tiny, so fragile. It was endearing to hold this little creature and cuddle it. It felt a bit awkward to be in someone else's house and hear all of those different sounds. But I sat myself down on the couch with this little cutie and I enjoyed "motherhood". The fun didn't last long though. Little baby woke up and started to cry. First a soft sound, a bearable sound that I could hush down. When the crying started to go up, I stood up, held the baby against my shoulder and walked around a bit, not knowing why it was crying. Was it discomfort? Did it feel ill? Was the baby longing for its mommy? I didn't know and the idea that the baby couldn't tell me about its grief, scared me. A bottle of milk was sitting on the counter, but I had no idea how to warm it up or how to feed a baby.. I tried to heat the bottle on the stove, in a pan of water. I tasted the milk and it was too hot, so the baby had to wait just a little longer. How would I know you had to hold the bottle up high for the milk to flow out?? The baby went ballistic for the milk didn't come out of the bottle nipple. I started to cry along and was in total despair, for not being able to comfort nor feed this child that was trusted to me. So I called my mom and she came over and showed me how to...

You have been looking after these 4 children for a while now. You're only 15 and the family lives only a few steps away from our house. Little Marie is only 5 months old and she's the cutest baby ever. Well, that's what you keep on saying. She was a little less cute the night she woke up and screamed her lungs out for half an hour. You panicked for Marie woke up her brother Cyriel and all of a sudden you had to take care of a baby in tears and a toddler who wanted his mommy. If only mommy had taken her cell phone along, but it was ringing in the kitchen when you tried to call her in despair. Luckily daddy had his cell phone on him, but how unfortunate that he didn't hear it ring.. You had no idea why Marie was crying so loud. She had been fed and her diaper didn't need to be changed. For 1.5 hours she had been sleeping and all of a sudden she woke up, stretching and kicking her legs like crazy. There was not much you could do to comfort her or make her feel at ease. She didn't want her pacifier either. That's when I got your phone call. You were crying along with the baby and I recognized the despair. So I hopped into my clothes and came to help you. The front door was open by the time I got there and you were more than ready to hand over this cute little girl. Her little face was red and in tears and so was yours. I calmed you down and held the baby, but she was inconsolable. I checked her diaper and her temperature. She was not having a fever but the way she was kicking her legs and making fists, made me assume she was having stomach ache. You told me she had had meds after her bottle, for she has cramps every now and then. We tried to give her some water to drink, for she was exhausted by then. She drank but it was not enough to calm her down. After another 15 minutes I decided to give her some pain relief. You were comforting Cyriel in the other couch who was crying for his mommy. You were very unhappy with the whole situation and I had a hard time calming you down as well. When I started to hum rock-a-bye-baby, Marie seemed to relax a little. I hummed this lullaby at least 30 times in a row, rocking her back and forth in my arms, holding her pacifier and streaking her eyes with her favorite cuddle. Her medication started to work as well and finally she fell asleep. Not for long, because we heard the car park in front of the house. Cyriel woke up as soon as he heard his parents come home. Little Marie opened her eyes and was more than happy to see her daddy. What a night... I hope it didn't scare you in that manner that you would be afraid to go back another time. You did what you had to do. Children cry you know. They are not always happy and cheerful. And sometimes you need help. That's okay sweetheart. You did the right thing. I'm proud of you!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I love your smile

Photo Lana Joos
Your mom chose Hubby as your godfather. He was very proud that she had asked him and he looked forward to being a good godfather. Someone you could count on. Someone who would be there for you whenever you needed him. You're 12 now. Ready to go to Highschool. That comes with a family party, this afternoon. We will all be there, except for Lana, who is still in summer camp. But she'll be thinking of you. It will be your special day and everybody you love will be there to celebrate you. We love you kiddo. You are special to us as a godson but also as a nephew for our girls. When we have you over at our house, we have fun and we do things together. I never heard you protest to come stay with us and sleep over.
In September, you will be going to your new school. Last year, you were the oldest in school. This year, you'll be the youngest again. It will be strange to make new friends, have different teachers and different subjects. But as always: you'll do just fine. It might be frightening in the beginning and it will take you some time to adjust, but it's a good thing you are not shy. It's easy for you to mingle and make new friends. You're an outgoing personality.
It's a pleasure to hear you laugh. Most of the times, when you laugh, tears roll down your cheeks. It's a catching smile and we can't but laugh along. Keep that humor with you. It makes life a whole lot more fun.
Your godfather is going to take you to the Euro Space Center. Just the two of you. How about that? I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Because I know you

The thing between you and me, is that we are so much alike. We look alike and we tend to have similar experiences. I recognize so many situations. I was 15 once, looooooooooooong time ago. But I remember being a teen wasn't easy. Trying to find your own identity, you try out different things. You want to be challenged. You want to be popular and do things others are afraid to do. But I know you, because I know me and I remember what life was like at your age.

There was a basket full of cigarettes in a cabinet up front in our house. The basket was long and made out of  brown rattan. It held like 8 different brands of cigarettes. Those cigarettes were not my parents', since they didn't smoke. They were not ours, since we were not supposed to smoke. We even hated cigarettes or the smoke they produced. It would sting our eyes and it would make us cough. My dad bought them for visitors, so he could offer them a smoke when they felt the need. Back in those days, that was common and very acceptable. 

You like to hang out in the park with your friends. We let you, because we think it's important for teens to socialize and have a good time. We trust you to behave and make the right choices. Last time I picked you up though, you had too much gum in your mouth and your face was all red. You looked out of the window all the way home and you didn't say much. I had suspicions you had been smoking, but I waved that presumption away. You hate cigarettes as much as I do. You say it smells bad and it's bad for your health. So I trusted you and I put away the thought of you smoking...

I had no friends who smoked. So nobody tempted me or dared me to try it out. It's just that one day, I was home alone and I needed something from the cabinet. Closing the cabinet door, the corner of my eye caught the rattan basket full of cigs. I don't know why, but I thought it would be kinda exciting to try out one cigarette. That green box of Saint-Michelle looked the most appealing to me. I had no idea how I would light that cigarette, but I grabbed some matches on the way to the backyard

I was emptying your baggage when you came home from camp. There was so much laundry to do and I held your backpack upside down to make everything fall out. To my surprise, a lighter fell out on the floor. For an instance, my heart stopped. I was not wrong. My intuition had not failed on me.. I was so disappointed.. Why??? You're such a clever girl.. you are popular, you have so many friends. Why do you try something this stupid? How many did you have already? Are you still smoking? Who's providing you? Do you use your allowance to buy the things you need?

I was pretty nervous. First I tried to light a match and light the cigarette, by just holding it in my hand. Obviously that wasn't working.. I remembered seeing my grandma smoke. She had the cig in her mouth when she lit it, so that's what I tried. It worked! And it tasted awful.. I spit out what I had just tasted in my mouth. But maybe the second try would taste better? I didn't get the chance, because my mom came home and called for me. I freaked out! I buried the cigarette, together with the matches and I promised myself never to be this stupid again. I couldn't stop smelling my fingers and my heartbeat went up by the minute. My mom came outside to look for me and I was terrified she would notice...

I confronted you with the lighter. The tone of your skin changed into a deep purple. You didn't look at me, but you said you didn't want to talk about it. Bad luck. I'm your mom. You don't decide whether you want to talk about this or not. In the end, you admitted you had tried smoking. But you refused to tell me why the lighter was in your backpack. I'm disappointed... I really am. Right there and then, I wished you would not look after me that well..

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's the catch?

Summer Sales! Not a period of the year I look forward to. I hate crowds of people, rushing into shops and grabbing in clothes to get that one favorite piece. How they push each other aside, how their armpits smell sweaty of excitement and how they mess the clothes up without any embarrassment. The long lines of people, waiting to try on their latest catch.. ugh.. I really hate it.

My friend and I planned a shopping day in Holland though. We have the same taste, same size and we pick the same brands of clothes. We only visit one shop, no more. Our favorite place to be, is The Sting. It's a great store! We have three brands we tend to buy. No need to fit the clothes, since we know the brands and sizes by heart. My wardrobe is now exclusively reserved for these outfits. I'm so happy to have found this shop and it's always a pleasure to go there and enjoy their clothes. Now leave me alone, because I have some clothes to put away and rearrange my dressroom.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Comfortable in my own skin

 All pictures were taken by Lana Joos

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rise in size

You may be very proud of yourself! For the first time, you have crossed the ocean. It's the first time you took an airplane. And all of that all by yourself. I'm pretty sure your intestines protested quite a bit when the plane took off, but in an instant a smile will have appeared on your face with joy, for the adventure has finally started.

The Hooks let me know that they would wait for you at the bagage claim. I'm glad someone is out there to pick you up. It will be another 1 hour drive to the Hook Ranch in La Porte, Indiana and you will be exhausted by the time you get there. It was a long flight after all. But you did it! And there were no problems at all. So there was no need to feel anxious about it. Your vacation just started. What a great reward for the end of this school year. Half a year ago, there were no plans of that order. And now you are in the US, looking forward to a whole lot of fun.

Keep in touch every now and then, okay? We are all anxious to hear about your stories and yes, we want to see pictures!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the road

It's your turn. You're leaving for summer camp too. Your sister has been gone for a couple of days. The house will be empty and quiet (and clutter free too) without you girls. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be with you. Daddy has tuned up your bicycle so it's all ready to bring you to your destination. It will be a very long ride, 116 km to be exact. That is, by car. The actual bicycle ride will be around 155 km. Your bottom will be very sore by the time you get there, but you will persevere. It's not in your nature to give up and nag over things you can't change.
We got you a new backpack. A real one! A good one and you will take good care of it. You are good at packing your things all by yourself. I'm sure the goodies and candy won't be forgotten.

We'll write you kiddo. And if others are willing to do the same, just grab a pen and a piece of paper and send Lana some news:

VZW KLJ-Eel - Den Bouw
Chiro Ekyrpak - Lana JOOS
Eelstraat 4
2380 Ravels - Eel

Monday, July 9, 2012

Be who you wanna be

My yesterday post was there for a reason. I didn't always feel like loving myself for who I was. Because for a long time, I didn't like the person I saw in the mirror. That person made me sad and disappointed. It was not the person I wanted to see and I couldn't embrace that image. It's hard, you know, if you are no longer able to love yourself. It's like you have become someone else and you are not able to find the other you. Sometimes you have to let go of images you had of yourself. Because we all age and we all change. But this image was not an image I wanted to have of me. I didn't long for the person I was years before. I just wanted to be happy with who I was and that had been too long.

Now, 2 years later, I can say that I no longer avoid mirrors. I'm outgoing again and I don't fear fitting rooms any more. Now it feels okay to rub my body with lotion. It's no longer scary to undress and see myself naked. There are signs of the time, but those signs don't bother me any more. I know where I come from and I know what I've been through to be where I am now. It's been a struggle and it wasn't easy, but I don't regret having done what I've done. It's comforting to feel good about myself. I'm not perfect, but that was never my goal. I wanted to be the best person I could be. And I'm getting there.. I'm getting there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Be your own best friend

If you want to love somebody else, you need to love yourself first. Do you love yourself? Or do you find that selfish? I don't.. find it selfish, I mean. I do love myself. I learned that lesson a few years ago. It is important you know. To love yourself. Take good care of you, before you are able to care care of someone else. Pamper yourself. In no particular order:
Go to the hairdresser more often than planned.
  • Take a foam bath.
  • Have a manicure or a pedicure (or both if that makes you feel better).
  • Spend too much money on a glamourous outfit without an occasion to wear it.
  • Create an occasion to wear that fabulous outfit.
  • Shave your legs until they are extremely silky smooth (my male readers may skip this one).
  • Get a turbo tan.
  • Laugh your heart out over nothing.
  • Get advice from a stylist and change your look completely.
  • Have an expensive Latte with extra milk foam and hazelnut flavor at Starbuck's and enjoy it with your eyes closed.
  • Shoes. Buy new shoes. One pair. Two pairs. Maybe three. Four if you're desperate. Shoes always do the trick.
  • Rearrange your wardrobe. Throw out everything you haven't worn in the last year. The emptiness of your dressroom will make you feel a whole lot lighter.
  • Throw out your scale and don't bring it back inside.
  • Buy a doorsize mirror and admire yourself. Praise your good points and forget about the minor ones. Tell yourself you look real nice.
  • Yes, it's okay to get a new purse. Doesn't matter you have 15 already. That one has a totally different color, really.
  • Have your car washed by hand. Interior can be done as well. Ask for an oriental fragrance.
  • Smile at yourself!
  • Give yourself a pat on the shoulder and tell yourself you're doing pretty well.
  • Call a good friend and arrange a pleasant outing.
  • Sit on a terrace and enjoy a glass of cold Chardonnay, reading your latest eBook.
  • Take the dogs for a walk and enjoy their happiness for taking them out.
  • Don't do this all in one day.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

They're here!!!

5:00 PM It's getting pretty hectic around here now. One hour to go before the guests arrive. I need to hop in to that shower and find the right outfit. Rearranging the food plan in my head, I can check off most things on my to do list. That velvety vanilla ice cream cannot be made ahead. It needs to be soft and creamy. The table has been set, the dishes are put away and the wine is cold. I think I'm ready. Hubby is sweeping the terrace one more time. The dogs have been fed and are taking a nap in their bench. One daughter is having the time of her life in summer camp and the other is enjoying her first two day festival in Bruges. I hope our friends will have an empty stomach when they get here. Because I have prepared quite some goodies. It's great to have people over and tickle their taste buds.
6:00 PM Time to hug the friends and enjoy their happy faces.
6:15 PM Champagne and appetizers
ciabatta bruschetta with Southern style tomatoes
 surprising popsicles
prawn tempura and sweet chili sauce
oxtail soup and veal meat balls
home made grissini with truffle tapenade
6:45 PM Time for the entrees! There's a choice between: pork cheek stew with baked apple cubes crab cakes with home made tartar sauce home made breadrolls
7:15 PM Medallions of pork tenderloin, a mixture of fine vegetables, romanesco, black pepper sauce, pommes parisienne with rosemary or baked potato and sour cream
8:00 PM Dessert! Coming up: home made vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Can't forget the double cream!
8:30 PM Coffee and tea freshly baked double chocolate chip cookies madelein cakes panna cotta and cuberdon advocat In between there will be laughter and good conversation. There will be time to hug and enjoy each others company. It's been tooooooooooooo long.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Just smile and be happy

Photo by Lana Joos
You're all set. You packed your bags last night, all by yourself, like you have done for years. Totally excited about this summer camp, you sent your last facebook messages for this week. In Durbuy there will be no Internet. So used to that way of communicating, but now you will have to go back to basics: just talk to each other, without a computerscreen or keyboard. Your world will be a bit more narrow than you are used to, but that's more than okay. Old friends, new friends, friends to be.. plenty of fun and hopefully some sun to brighten up the days.

Have fun sweetie pie. Enjoy your summer camp, have a ball and meet up with peers. There will be so many stories to tell and I'm looking forward to hearing them. See you in a week!

PS If you would like to make her happy with a written letter or a more modern email:

La Petite Merveille
Eva Joos
Rue comte Th. D’Ursel 51
info@lpmforkids.be (write her name where the subject should come)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The past has gone

A new age has made its entry. You can finish that book and put it aside for a while. A new book is waiting for you to pick it up and start reading it.
You are probably on your way to your new job now. I wonder if you play a certain CD in your car or if you just turn on the radio. I don't think you play no music on your way to work. I try to imagine your work outfit for this first day. I hope you did what you thought was suited and I hope you feel comfortable in whatever you are wearing. There's no need to stress out. Your new boss has a blank canvas. You have a blank canvas. Those blank canvases are waiting to be painted on. Make your first streak. It may be a careful one, with shaky hands, but you will paint. Have faith in who you are and what you do. Because it's the best you can do. I'll be thinking of you. I hope to hear from you tonight. My fingers are crossed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Taken advantage of

There's not much I regret in life. Some things I could have handled better, that is correct. We are all humans and we all deserve respect. I like to do things for my friends and make them feel well and at ease. Do I expect something in return? No, I really don't. Giving without expecting anything back, is more than satisfying. Up till a certain point I must say. When I start to feel that people take the friendship for granted or when they start taking advantage of me, cracks start to show in our bond, no matter how close we used to be. I just can't stand it when people do that. I don't talk about single occasions, but numerous situations. They can no longer be excused. I'm not stupid, you know. I wait and see and I evaluate. I give people multiple chances to pull themselves together. But if that is not sufficient I need to protect myself and walk away.. Sometimes with pain in my heart, because we are all blessed with a unique personality. I have been abused just once too often. I'm done. To me, it's a point of no return. The damage has been done and I have been more than patient and forgiving. It doesn't mean you are a bad person. You are just no longer a person I want to share my life with. I wish you all the best and I hope life lessons have been learned..

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It all went wrong

This Saturday we are having friends over for dinner. It's been a while since we last met up, so it will be fun to enjoy each other's company. If only I had not had this awful dream..

I needed to get some final groceries to prepare the meals I had in mind. I was in a rush an I could not find my shopping list. So I decided to leave the house without the list. I knew what I wanted to make, so how hard could it be to race around the store, retrieving the products I needed?
I was doing real well and I was on schedule. The table had been set earlier that day. The champagne was getting cold in the fridge and my dessert was looking great. No sweat!
Our friends arrived and I was calm as a cucumber. No stress at all. Why should I stress out? I mean, come on, these are my friends after all. So we served drinks and appetizers and I was getting ready for the entrees. There was a choice of fish or meat and my friends had given me their preferences in advance. I opened the fridge to take out the fish.. where did the fish go??? I checked the other fridge, but I couldn't find it anywhere! Panic! Breathe, breathe.. I could hear Hubby laugh and chat with our guests, while I was dying in my kitchen.. My sugar level dropped instantly and..

That's when I woke up, to treat my low. It was only Sunday night. I had not done any shopping yet and I had plenty of time left before the weekend. But my heart pounded like a mad man's heart. Just chill.. I'll do just fine. I'm prepared and nothing of that manner will happen, right? Right?

Monday, July 2, 2012

It was nice in time and place..

but it's time for a change. Our bedroom used to be the bedroom of the girls. I'm talking a long time ago, at least 10 years, I would say. Nothing has changed since, except for the shelves I built to display my shoes. There was a separate area for the sunbed, but that same sunbed died some years ago. We got rid of it, but not of the separate area. Maybe that should go to. I'm sure anyone with some common sense would admit lila and pink are not appropriate for a parents' room. The wall to wall carpet might have been flattering back then, but it's faded and worn out. I would like to freshen up the room and give it a more adult look and feel to it. It needs a decorative wallpaper on the wall our bed is placed against. The rest of the room could do with a good coating of paint. I would like to make the room come alive with a huge green plant next to a black leatherlook man's chair. That could become a nice place to relax and read a book. I want the TV out of the room, since it's of no use to any of us. We would keep the night stands, maybe. A large mirror would be great too. It's always a bonus to check yourself out if you are getting ready for a night out. We can keep the blinds and the curtains, but we could try to sell the antique desk. It truly is a beautiful piece and I know you would rather keep it, but we have no destination for it. Sometimes it is better to let go of something old and replace it with something more contemporarily. A bright and expensive looking chandelier could become la pièce de résistance in our new bedroom. New bed linen and tons of pillows will finish it all off. At least, that's how it goes on Make Over TV shows..

Now all we need is our youngest daughter to come up with a design. She is creative and she has splendid ideas when it comes to decorating. Did I mention this will be your birthday present? After all, one deserves an adult bedroom at the age of 45. Happy Birthday Hubby!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Simple comme bonjour

There are certain days my mother-in-law expects all of her children and their spouses to bring her grandchildren to the parental house. We never question those invitations. We just try to be there, out of respect and because hanging out with the crew is always pleasant. This time is no different. Every first weekend of July, we have cake and pies and cookies in Eastshop. Originally the event was the fair. A couple of years ago, there was not much left of the fair, but the tradition continues and we still get together. It's not easy to motivate everybody and it's possible one or two can't make it. But the major part of the family will be there to enjoy the company and the goodies. I'm grateful for my mother-in-law's energy and patience with all of us. It is of no effort to her to have around 20 people over and feed them. It's what she likes to do and it's a good way to keep the family together.
See you this afternoon! I'll bring the home baked cookies and pies. You bring your enthusiasm okay?