October 27, 2009


This past weekend in Belgium we turned back the clocks; we have officially 'fallen back.' Another aspect of falling back in Leuven is hazing.
The darker clad group is an assembly of singing students who have just been through an obstacle course filled with mayonnaise and mud. It was an interesting spectacle but not as beautiful as the colors of the trees.

I have never 'seen' fall like this before, the leaves are so beautiful. I can not get over all of the bright amazing colors and the consistent wondrous shapes that fall from the trees. It's so hard not to stare at the ground, and even harder not to pick up every beautiful leaf I see. I am in awe and at a loss for words, I have already used the word 'beautiful' twice. For someone who hails from Texas, I am not accustomed to such visual beauty. It makes me all the more thankful for my time here.

And again yesterday...

They are orange... the new color of the moment here in our house.
I am such a lucky girl.

October 22, 2009

My Love Brought Me Flowers Today

and chocolates.

Last week he brought me a pot of chilies.

That's why he is Mr. Wonderful.

Among many reasons...

Milk in a Tube

Have you ever seen this?

Sweetened condensed milk in a tube.
I had never, but my friends on Facebook tell me that it's available in the US. I just about died when I saw the packaging. Too funny! I've been eyeing it, wanting to buy it and use it.... And ok, I really wanted to get on my bicycle, go for a long hard ride up hill, reach my destination and squirt sweetened condensed milk in my mouth! Ahhhh! Sounds refreshing!

It's gotten much cooler here in Leuven, and while the sun was shining today, I was cold. I needed something warm in my system; I wanted arroz con leche and I needed bananas. So, I bundled up and went to the store to buy bananas, rice and a tube of sweetened condensed milk. I would soon taste sweet rice from my childhood. It's very easy to make, and is great dish that can be served warm or cold. Here's my recipe.

I do not have any measuring utensils in my house, sorry if my measuring devices are a bit peculiar.

First, you need a pot big enough to cook your rice. In the pot add
1 coffee cup rice
3 coffee cups milk
and another 1 - 2 coffee cups water (I added half of the water as the rice was cooking).
Also, add a few dashes of cinnamon. (Be generous with your dashes).
Bring the milk, water and rice to a boil, lower the heat and stir until the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Next, add a tube of sweetened condensed milk - squeeze out every last drop!
Add 2 espresso spoons of vanilla beans and a few more dashes of cinnamon.

Stir. Sample.


October 21, 2009

My New Project

The weather has turned cooler and I've been itching to get back to my knitting needles, but I left them in Texas knowing I would be able to find some here, not to mention the bigger selection of nice yarns. Prices for nicer years can cost some money in the US, but here skeins are reasonably priced. Personally, I do not knit with acrylic anything. When I can, I try not to buy any piece of clothing made of man-made fibers. I'm kind of a hippie that way.

Anyway, I have my eye set on a sweater pattern, but need to practice before I attempt such a project. Therefore, I resolved to make something for Mr. Wonderful. Respecting folklore and not knitting him a sweater, I decided to knit him a scarf - which is not as easy as it sounds. He is a minimalist, a man of good taste, he knows what he likes. I have not known him to wear a scarf, but I'm making it for him anyway. The only thing he was particular about was the color. It had to be Prussian Blue.
Image from ColourLovers.com

Once the color was established, I had to find the yarn. Fortunately a few meters from my door is a yarn store called Twolwinkeltje.
I found my skeins of 100% Italian Merino wool in the perfect color,

I still had no idea which pattern to use.

It couldn't be too fancy, or he would not wear it. It needed to be simple, but elegant. I searched until I came across this pattern for a scarf from World War I. During the war the American Red Cross encouraged Americans to knit for service men, they even provided instructions and yarn. This pattern appeared in the 1917 issue of The Modern Priscilla: A Magazine Exclusively for Women. I liked the idea of knitting from a pattern from 1917! It's a very easy pattern, not too much thinking involved for me. It keeps my hands busy and my mind clear, and I am excited to have something to do on the train. Find the pattern here.

The script on the bottom says,"This scarf is plain knitting. May be made by a beginner."

Knitting pretty in a skirt.
I have a way to go, we'll see how long it takes me.

October 19, 2009


It's been busy here, but I have managed to read a couple of books, since my last post on the subject.

The last book I read was Spiral Jetta, a memoir/scholarly book of a journey out west to visit and contemplate earthworks such as Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field, and Donald Judd's work at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. While the book was interesting from an art and art history perspective, the book was just kind of dry. I didn't really relate to author Erin Hogan's personality. She's a little uptight, a stereotypical art historian/librarian type stuck behind a desk in a white gloved world. Maybe that's too harsh... She did some of the trip alone, and stated that she set out to challenge herself. I just didn't really see her journey as that much of a human challenge. It seemed that she hadn't really done enough living before the experience, almost like her journey was for the purpose of writing this book. She went to the art works, and was constantly discontented. Site after site, work after work, this seemed to be the case. All I could think was, "we should all be so lucky." The times when she did find herself in colorful local watering holes , or lost, she definitely drew lines, distancing herself from her experience with her words. It was disappointing. I did learn a lot from this read, but nothing more than I could have found in the library or visiting these works for myself ~ which I still hope to do someday. Definitely.
Anyway, I was happy for the read, but also disappointed. Here is a NYTimes review, and a review from The New Yorker. If you have read it, let me know what you think.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was a book that I bought it here in Leuven at fnac. I was hungry for a good book. I have been wanting to read this book since its release as an animated film in 2007. I ravished it, I finished it in three days. I thought that was a long time, considering that it's a graphic novel, but the read was so interesting. Visually, the drawings juxtaposed are so simple yet complex at the same time. I learned something with each page, and related to Satrapi's coming of age story more than I initially thought I would. I knew nothing of the conflict in Iran, and it was enthralling to read Satrapi's perspective of the events.
I loved her illustrations, and the fact that she combines two of my favorite subjects: art and literature.

My Current Reads

I picked up this kid's encyclopedia at the Saturday market here in Leuven. I paid 2 Euro for it, and I LOVE it. The illustrations are wonderfully classic, executed in a manner only 1965 could appreciate.
Another fantastic example of art and literature combined, except this is more educational. It's a fun way to learn Dutch, not to mention colorful:

And finally, a FICTION novel!
I can't tell you how long it has been since I have read a piece of fiction. That's the thing about graduate school: it puts a damper on your luxury reading. I read so many articles about theory, practice and foundations that I wasn't sure I could enjoy or appreciate a work of fiction. The fictional works that I do enjoy have a memoir quality to them. Anyway, since I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, I thought I'd better read an example of fiction. It's been ages since I've read fiction, and I did not bring one fiction book with me from Texas.

I found this book, Getting Back Brahms by Mavis Cheek, at Spit in the tiny, two shelf English language section. The back jacket summary was interesting: the main character Diane is broken hearted and is nursing herself with a project... And I do love projects! The price was right = 1,30 Euro, so I got it. Ms. Cheek is a writer from the UK, and even though this is written in English, there are so many paragraphs that I have to go back and re-read. There are words and expressions I don't know, because it's written in a vernacular that I don't quite understand... and English is my first language! So far it seems to be a fun read... fluffy.

It's been two years since I completed my MA, I think I can handle fluff now.

Belgian Stencils

Graffiti or Art?

Follow the yellow paint...

Look on the wall:

October 18, 2009

Park Abbey

It started out like a normal Sunday. You know: lazy, coffee, reading, internet surfing, some light cleaning, and then I got antsy. The sun was shining brightly and once again, she was calling me outside. I hopped on my bike and started to ride in a direction that I hadn't been before.
I love riding on Sundays; the city sleeps and there is hardly any traffic. I took my time, turning on streets that invited me with a pleasant view. I rode like this for about a half hour... and then I found myself here...
Not quite sure where...

It's pretty though,

and quiet.
The English translation was on the other side. Somehow I had arrived at Park Abbey, one of the best preserved abby of the low countries. It was founded in the 1100's, but most of the buildings on the estate are from the 17th and 18th century. First I entered upon a cemetery, making my way around the grounds. I walked around a pond, fed the ducks with a stranger and traced my steps back to where I first entered the site.

There is a fungus among us.
Doesn't this look like a Van Gogh painting?
Nobody here but me and the cows.
An entrance at Park Abbey.
Grave yard art.
I don't know why I snapped these shots. Perhaps because it was so colorful compared to everything else I saw. Also, there is something very touching about a child honoring an ancestor. It's very sweet.
The sun streaming through the colorful windows, echoed my sentiments of wanting to tour the inside. Alas, it was closed.
Eerie view from inside the Park Abbey cemetery.
Park Abbey barn.

Park Abbey pond.
Along the grounds.
I do as I am told.
It was very similar to my walks around White Rock... sort of.
Feeding the ducks.
A popular photo op of the abbey just across the fish pond.
Back on the grounds, a walkway that leads you to the living quarters.
Park Abbey through the trees.
Man made radial design.
Lovely blue Belgian sky.

Nature's ultimate radial design.

Door knob detail

Key hole detail. Can you imagine how big that key must be?

It was a lovely Sunday.