February 28, 2013

Il Papiro

I'd like to share something special Jon did for me while we were in Florence, and it's fitting that I tell you today because today is the day before our the one year anniversary of our legal marriage ceremony. And, if I told you the story tomorrow, it would be too late because tomorrow is the day after our one year anniversary of our legal marriage ceremony. Do you follow?
It's me - the bride!
We got married legally one year ago on February 29, 2012, but we had our ceremony later that year in June. I am a lucky girl who gets TWO wedding anniversaries. Well, technically I get two anniversaries once every 4 years. Anyway, the traditional gift for the one year anniversary is paper, and that is exactly what Jon got for me in Florence - a tour and workshop at offices of Il Papiro in Florence.
This is the original preserved façade of the first Il Papiro.

February 26, 2013

New Routine = New Projects

Hallo allemaal!
This week I made a decision: I stopped taking Dutch. I guess you could say that I quit, but I don't see it that way at all. I made room for some bigger things in my life, and also some sleep. I am happy with the Dutch fundamentals that I've learned and use them everyday. But, I just don't have the time to devote to my classes AND be successful. I don't want the extra stress in my life right now. We've only got about six more months left in Belgium, and I really want to enjoy my time here while I can. I'm still keeping up with my French course, and learning Dutch through reading beautiful books and magazines. However, now I can make dinner, use up my yarn stash, write in my journal, read books, get some exercise, eat more waffles and friets, learn French without my Dutch words getting in the way, and learn Dutch through my beautiful books and magazines. And, I'm ok with that.

Alle is goed met mij. 

February 25, 2013

365 Photos: Day 49 - 55

Every Monday I will post 7 photos for my 365 Photos project. All of my photos are taken with my iPhone, until I can save some money for a nice "real" camera. Let's see what this iPhone can do...
Day 49: Feb 18
Monday morning walk/ride to school along the Muntstraat.
Day 50: Feb 19
Coffee break during my Dutch class. For  0.70 it isn't half-bad.
Day 51: Feb 20
I stopped by a mini-mart on my way to class and found a few bottles of Dr. Pepper at the bottom of the fridge.
I was excited to taste my old favorite, but it wasn't the same.
Gross! I will not be doing that again.
Day 52: Feb 21
I am a ball-knitting-machine!
Day 53: Feb 22
I took myself on a date to see Les Misérables. I'm glad I saw it, but also glad I spared my loved ones. 
Day 54: Feb 23
Rondou, the best butcher in town. A visit here means the best quality meat, but a long line is guaranteed.
Day 55: Feb 24
I woke up craving pancakes. Then later at my friend Kaat's house, I ate them!

February 24, 2013

Pisa and Lucca

It still looks like it's leaning, even from this angle. 
Pisa is about an hour and a half west of Florence. And after taking the bus to Siena, we thought it best to travel by train. It was fast and inexpensive. We had heard that there wasn't much to do and see in Pisa except for the Leaning Tower, so we planned to see Lucca, another Tuscan town about 30 minutes north of Pisa.
We thought this warning sign was so funny! 
This is another long post about our trip to Italy earlier this month. Most of the bold text links to wikipedia in case you're interested in learning more about the sights and history of Pisa and Lucca.

More after the jump...

Make 52: Week 5

Every Sunday, for 52 weeks, I will share what I have made that week.

5. A. I made a 22.5/40 on my test. More than 50%. Believe it or not, this pleases me, but I know...
Ik moet studeren.

5. B. I made beet soup with pretty much all of the veggies in the groentetas this week.
I used this recipe, and it was pretty good! We blended the leftovers to try something different, and I prefer the blended version of the soup.

5.C. I made a ball.
It's been a while since I've made one, but I've still got it! I made it in less than three hours which made my shoulders hurt a bit the next day. Because I knit it so fast, the loop at the top came off. I am told that the baby loves to play with it and prefers it as a ball, and not an ornament. Yay!

5. D. Chocolate mousse with whipped cream.
From scratch!

5. E. Flemish sausage with red cabbage.
I didn't make the sausage, but I made the everything else.

February 22, 2013

Outtakes from Italy

Mouth of Truth...
 It's early Saturday morning: 1:11

I've had a busy couple of days... I went to school (French and Dutch), experienced some art in the city, made some stuff (which I will write about on Sunday), and I watched some great films: Les Miserables and The Intouchables. That makes three this week, which is three times more than I watch in a normal week.
Am I boring you?
I had wanted to write about Pisa and Lucca, and I will... just not tonight and maybe not this weekend.

Here's some pretty fruit. Just because. 

February 20, 2013

Starting with Siena*

We took several day trips from Florence.
San Giovanni Battista or dell'Autostrada del Sole [Church of the Highway], just outside of Florence.1961.
We made a special trip to this church because of the unique organic design of the architecture. Of course.
*I actually start this post with a church that is not in Siena, nor in a town per se.
It is actually a church built for travelers of highway A11, which goes no where near Siena. Oh well.
Half of our trips were by train, and half were by bus.
I get so nauseous on bus trips. It started when I lived in Mexico and has since stayed with me. Short trips are fine, but longer ones make it hard for me to hold my lunch, or breakfast in most cases. We took the bus to Siena because it was shorter and less expensive - but I'm not sure it was worth it. At one point I didn't want Jon to talk to me, or touch me. It was that bad.

But I made it! This is another long post and most of the bold text links to wikipedia in case you're interested in learning more about the sights and history of Siena.

More after the jump...

February 19, 2013

Photos of Firenze [Florence]

The duomo peeks above buildings in Florence.
After spending a short time in Milano we took Trenitalia south to Florence. It's about a two and a half hour train ride with one stop in Bologna. For the rest of our trip we had a home base in Florence and took day trips to Siena, Pisa, and Lucca. We had exactly one week in Florence/Tuscany - which was a nice amount of time, but we still have lots to do when we go back again. (I can hope, right?)

I LOVE Italy! and this trip was MAGIC! Three years ago, we went to Rome and Orvieto. After studying about the Renaissance and art history in college, I HAD to go to Florence. I was really disappointed that we didn't make it to Florence that trip, but Jon promised we would go some day. And he made good on his promise and Florence did not disappoint. I was so impressed with the city - the size, the architecture, the history, the food and the art was just so... wow... MAGIC. 

This post is only about Florence, and is quite long. I've added a jump to save blog space. Also, the bold words mostly lead to wikipedia, in case you're interested in learning more about the sights and history of Florence. 

February 18, 2013

Pushing Back

Bonjour! I didn't want to let a day go by without a post, but today was busier than I planned....

And there may have been naps involved...

And I may have watched this beautiful movie...

I'm pushing back my posts for Italy until tomorrow. 

Get it? 


February 17, 2013

365 Photos: Day 42 - 48

Every Sunday Monday I will post 7 photos for my 365 Photos project. All of my photos are taken with my iPhone, until I can save some money for a nice "real" camera. Let's see what this iPhone can do...
Day 42: Feb 11
Back to the school grind. In Dutch class early Monday morning. I miss my Italian coffee!

Day 43: Feb 12
It was a pretty uneventful day. I bought snacks for school.

Day 44: Feb 13
 It was a friets kind of day. Total comfort food.

Day 45: Feb 14
Candle light dinner with friends.

Day 46: Feb 15
Beet's for dinner. What a delicious mess!

Day 47: Feb 16
Something I saw on my errands. I think there was a parade earlier, but I missed it.
He's wearing a skirt!

Day 48: Feb 17
I went to STUK today for the annual Artefact Festival here in Leuven. The theme this year is A City Shaped. I will write more about it later this week, but first I am dying to share my photos from Italy. That's my plan for this week anyway, starting tomorrow! 

Next week I will post my 365 photos on Monday. That gives me more time to play over the weekend. 

Have a great week! 

February 16, 2013

Make 52: Week 4

Every Saturday, for 52 weeks, I will post what I make that week.

4. A. I made a lot of coffee this week. I started my intensive Dutch class and it was so hard to get back in the swing of things. I might have thrown a tantrum, but it was because I was so tired! I am still going through my Italian photos and souvenirs. 
4. B. A few more valentines for my Belgian friends. 
4. C. Another batch of Rustic Cabbage Soup. I still think it's delicious. 
4.D. I made my Moleskine journal a 100%  better with fake, but brightly colored washi tape from HEMA.  
I bought my Moleskine journal on super sale which is why it's pink. 
4. E. A vision board. It's been ages since I made one of these. I'll write more about it later. 
Check out that fancy camera I hope to have. Something better than the iPhone.
4.F. I made Alfredo sauce from scratch tonight!
I combined a recipe from this website, and techniques and ingredients from this video

Now that I am back in classes, I think I will post my Make 52 project on Sunday and post my 365 Photos on Mondays. That gives me more time on the weekends to play, which is what I have been doing all day. 

February 15, 2013

A Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's day was great! 
Jon and I just got back from an amazing trip, so I wasn't really expecting anything. But, he's such a romantic. He brought me beautiful orange and yellow tulips and the tiniest budding cactus. He's the best!

This year was the first time I mailed Valentine's to friends and family, and it was such fun.

This is wedding confetti. You can find it by the city halls in various Belgian towns. I would call it Belgian wedding confetti, but it's made in China. I think it's pretty regardless and I thought it would be fun to include in my envelopes.
One friend said her cat had a fun time playing with the floating fluttering hearts. Another friend decorated with the hearts.

I used the wedding confetti for inspiration, but also this wood carved stamp that I found at a shop in Antwerp.
I've collected scissors for a while now, so they are kind of my symbol.
I found some cheap paper and envelopes at HEMA and went to town. I made envelope liners out of the paper and used matching washi tape on the envelopes. I had been thinking about my Valentine line for a while now, I knew it had to reference the scissors somehow. Then one night it came to me. And just like that...
Here is a variation of my design. In the end, they looked a little different.
I even added pieces of yarn from my pom-poms. Another friend said they were so "touchable."
That was nice. 

This was the first time I have ever sent out big batches of cards. Even our wedding invitations were sent digitally. But, I loved the process, and in the end it didn't really take that much time once I got in a rhythm. I have even started to think of a design for next year's cards as well. 

February 14, 2013

Let's Talk...

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 13, 2013

Santa's Back...

We have a house guest staying with us whose name is Santa.
His, or her name is Santa because we first met him/her last Christmas. We haven't heard from Santa in a long time, but I guess the demolition in the building next door made Santa want to come back for a visit... and some cereal. Jerk.

Jon set up traps, but this does not make me very happy.  It's kind of funny, because for our first Valentine's Day I made Jon this card:
My inspiration was a book I had read to my pre-school class, and the mouse that he had in his loft. 

And here we are 4 years later...

By the way, guess what the guy at the hardware store told Jon to place in the traps?