March 24, 2013

365 Photos: Day 77-83

Every Sunday, I will post 7 photos for my 365 Photos project. All of my photos are taken with my iPhone.
Day 77: March 18
Window shopping in Leuven. Skirt and top from Mexx.
Day 78: March 19
A Lasagneria in Brussels (Ukkle, really).
Day 79: March 20
My egg stands on the equinox!
Day 80: March 21
Catching up with my US television shows and cross-stitching.
Day 81: March 22
Inside Leuven City Hall. I went on a tour this day. 
Day 82: March 23
I put on my Converse sneakers today for a change. I am bored with my winter boots.
Day 83: March 24
More snow  +  student antics = Spring fever

Make 52: Week 9

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

This week seems to be light on the projects because my week was consumed with a bigger cross-stitch project.

9. A. Café Chiase Cross-Stitch
It's a work in progress. I hope to have it finished next week. 
This is one of the best dishes I have made in a long time. It would be excellent with fish.

A fun and easy Sunday morning treat. 

March 17, 2013

365 Photos: Day 70-76

Every Monday Sunday 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 70: March 11
Jon's workspace in the Tweebronnen (municipal library), in Leuven.
Day 71: March 12
Snow in Leuven! And one for the record books,
the weather caused 1,600 km of traffic in Belgium that morning.
Day 72: March 13
Some fun works in paper at Atelier Isabelle de Borchgrave in Brussels.
Day 73: March 14
This was the only picture I took this day - the weather was nice and some flower vendors were out along Brusselsestraat in Leuven..
Day 74: March 15
 Walking back towards the In Flanders Fields Museum after the Last Post in Ypres.

Day 75: March 16
16th, 17th or 18th (?) century printing presses in the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
Day 76: March 17
An odd shot in Heverlee.
My rusty handlebars and I venture back home after a run in the park. 

Make 52: Week 8

Every Sunday, for 52 weeks, I will share what I have made that week.
(I'm trying something a little different this week.) 

8. A. Cross-stitched Parisian green arm chair, like the ones in Luxembourg Gardens. 

8. B. Cross-stitched Parisian green chair.
Cross-stitching is time consuming, but also like a rabbit hole. I can hide from tasks and the world by making tiny x's with thread. Probably the main reason I abandoned my blog this week.

8. C.  I made 13 huge (2 inches in diameter) meatballs.
 8. D. I made Huevos Rancheros for Jon and I this morning.
8. E. With my friend Jess, we made 33 apple-date bran muffins.
They were delicious!

March 11, 2013

March 10, 2013

365 Photos: Day 63-69

Every Monday Sunday 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 63: March 4
Laundry day on a beautiful sunny day. This picture is also from that day.

Day 64: March 5
Zuid Station Cappuccino. (South Station in Brussels). A nice break in the day. 
Day 65: March 6
A beautiful day to go swimming (indoor pool.) KU Leuven University Sports Centre
Day 66: March 7
The newest issue of Flow magazine.  Always makes  my day. 
Day 67: March 8
The Atomium in Brussels.
Day 68: March 9
One dozen bean tamales ready to go. The pork ones are steaming in the back in my red Dutch oven.
Day 69: March 10
It's been ages since I've attempted cross stitch.
I got a lovely new book at Creativa this weekend, so I am inspired

Make 52: Week 7

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

7. A. March's Resolution Chart.

7. B. French onion soup.
Last week we got six yellow onions as part of our veggie bag. We used this recipe.

7. C.  Knitted apple to pair with my pear.

7. D. Not pictured: Herb-Crusted Salmon.

7. E. Probably the most labor intensive Make 52 project to date - 2 dozen tamales: one dozen pork, one dozen bean.

March 7, 2013

Strange Night, Alright

We've had some really beautiful weather the past couple of days. The sun was shining, and so many students and families were out and about enjoying the days.
Tonight, it's a strange night in Leuven. There are organized demonstrations taking place in the streets right now, outside my shuttered window. It's strange to hear the drums, shouts and helicopters outside, especially when it is so warm and cozy inside. It feels strange that people are marching for beliefs that I can't fathom.

I was going to write at my computer tonight, but I can't really concentrate - and I would rather curl up on the sofa, knit and watch a good movie. I'll be glad when tomorrow comes.

March 6, 2013

One Little Word - February

Yesterday's post might have seemed to come out of left field. I guess I should have included that creating a chart to help obtain specific goals was part of the prompt for March from the One Little Word class that I am participating in. The concept behind One Little Word is simple: choose a word for 2013 and keep it close to your heart as you work, live, etc. through the year. My word for 2013 is fearless.
Jon's photo of me being fearless at the top of the duomo in Florence! Whew! That was a tough one for me. 

Every month Ali Edwards, the class facilitator gives us a creative prompt to ruminate and develop ideas as we work with our One Little Word. January's prompt is here, but I have yet to share February's prompt which was to create a vision board. If you don't know what a vision board is, check out this article from, and/or this helpful article from Christine Kane

The Process:  I simply went through my magazines and tore out images that I loved: images that I responded to, images that made me think - "I want THIS." Some themes emerged as I worked - travel, family, creativity, home and writing. I think they are evident. Purely by chance, after I made my vision board, I was prompted in The Artist Way to create a vision board.
I have no shortage of beautiful images thanks to the Dutch magazine Flow. Ik hou van dit tijdschrift! The images in the magazine - some illustrations and some photography, evoke such a lovely feeling. The articles are also very interesting and I can read them, for the most part, in Dutch! Flow has articles for self-improvement, DIY and inspiration. It's a hybrid of all of the things I love, and they have an international edition in English
Initially, I didn't want to cut up my magazines, but I thought again... "Why not? Things are to be used. Spend out!" So, I cut up the issues that I have accumulated since I've been in Belgium and created my vision board:
I love it! I have no idea what its connection is to my word fearless, but this is what Christine Kane described as the "Opening and Allowing" Vision Board. Perhaps I am not afraid to share what I want in life? Ik weet het niet. [I don't know...]

The board hangs in a special place in my home, in  my special nook under the stairs. It's not exactly prominent, but I think now that I shared it on the World Wide Web, that's pretty open and out there. This was a great exercise and a great way to enjoy the magazine that I love.

March 5, 2013

Get Active - Intentions for March

I need to get active! 
But all I seem to do is *think* about getting active. 
 However, there are signs all around me,
reminding me to get active!
The books I listened to last month really inspired me to make some changes in my life. I have done pretty well sticking to a schedule as far as writing daily in my journal and keeping up with this blog. I've developed some good-to-me habits, but I have yet to develop healthy habits.

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin creates monthly resolution charts to chart her progress in keeping her resolutions. She has even shared these charts on her website. Rubin was inspired by a similar system shared by Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography. The charts created by Franklin list 13 virtues that he believed created personal character. Perhaps it's the former teacher in me, but I liked the idea of the charts, so I made a little chart of my own for March.
This month I am holding myself accountable to do more and develop some good habits. If this works well for March, I'll continue to add to the list in April. I am striving for checks ALMOST everyday, (except for flossing and writing - I'd like those rows to have check marks all the way through the end of month), and I would like to chart my progress.  Plus, I like giving myself pink checks at the end of the day.
Here's to March's healthy habits!

March 4, 2013

February Book Report

When the month of February started I was in the middle of Week 4 of The Artist Way. Week 4 was especially interesting because it imposes a reading ban. That's right, for one week there were no books, internet, blogs, news, magazines, television shows, you name it! It was only for a week and I have some terrible internet habits that I was willing to shake, but it was very difficult! I didn't participate in a full ban, but I limited my internet time and activities drastically. A reading ban is imposed for the artist who needs to become "unstuck." It was a good challenge and I actually ended up listening to a lot of music - which was so pleasant and inspiring.

Then we went to Italy. I didn't really have time to read on the trip, plus I get quite nauseous reading on busses and trains. But I really enjoy listening to books, especially while I am cooking dinner, knitting, on my way to school, or running errands in the city. I find it to be a great use of my time and I also find that this is the only way I can do two things at once. In Italy, I had quite a bit of time to listen to books - so that's what I did in February. I listened to two books: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs.
I read The Happiness Project back in 2011, but I wanted to re-read it, especially at the beginning of the year. In The Happiness Project, Rubin pursues the quest for happiness during the course of one year. Rubin is a great writer and her words were easy to read, and especially easy to listen to. Though I kept wishing I had my physical copy of the book with me so that I could highlight notes and recommendations. The topics in this book range from marital and family communication to getting enough sleep, are thoroughly researched and backed up with historical anecdotes and actual application in Rubin's daily life. It's an inspiring book and I really gleaned some important information and ideas.

Some key points or ideas that really stuck with me, just off the cuff are: be you, spend out, get a good night's sleep, tackle a nagging task, act the way you want to feel, smile, laugh, act happy. They are simple ideas really, but it was nice to read her journey and be reminded and pushed to create some happiness resolutions and truths for myself. I was especially excited to try Rubin's resolution chart, which I will share here on the blog tomorrow. It's good stuff!

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection was on sale as an audiobook in January through iTunes.  I picked this book because I thought it went with my One Little Word intention for February - Body, In this piece of non-fiction, author A. J. Jacobs, much like Rubin, explores every topic to becoming the healthiest person he can possibly be. From eating right, to skin care, to healthy bowel movements to triathlon training; Jacobs attempts to change his habits from feeble to healthy through the latest fads, research and scientific data. It was a good listen, and as a result we have some healthy changes afoot in my household. Personally, I am making a point to floss, get enough sleep, eat more vegetables and fish, and to be more active for cardiovascular health.

Though I don't feel like there was much personal progress towards actively making changes for the better in February, I feel like I had to think *hard* about the changes that I really want to make in my life. These books were very helpful - informative, and entertaining. Plus, I got twice as much done, because I was able to listen to the books and travel, knit and cook - all at the same time! What more could I ask for?

March 3, 2013

365 Photos: Day 56 - 62

Every Monday Sunday 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 56: Feb 25
Catching up with my favorite shows and trying to figure out a pear pattern. 
Day 57: Feb 26
Check out this swanky Brussels tram interior with leather. Yee haw! 
Day 58: Feb 27
The Lavazza truck parked in front of my house,  but he had no deliveries for me. [Sad face.]
Day 59: Feb 28
My favorite spot to eat and take some tea in Brussels, Le Perroquet.
Day 60: March 1
Another picture from the Stella Artois tour. This is the kitchen, where all the magic happens. 
Day 61: March 2
Do you see the face in this tree? And notice the green lawn in the stadspark [city park]. Spring is almost here!
Day 62:  March 3
This is "the bond," also known as Bondgenotenlaan. It's the main street to the center of Leuven - 
also a straight shot to the train station. Do you see it in the background?