Sunday, May 31, 2009

Working on my tan

This Pentecost long weekend turns out to be (like last Ascencion long weekend) a really beautiful one. And then the divers hit the road. And then it's quite fun to join them even when you must stay dry on land.

And our club excersions turn out to be ever more and more food festivals. Cookies, chips, candy, drinks make magical appearances from bags and cars after a dive and all goes round and round in circles at a much to high speed to keep on taking. With weather so inviting for some lake-side tanning and relaxing, also portable BBQ's have appeared with an abundance of meat and salads and we make it in total day-time camping excursions. Nice to forget for a moment all wedding preperations except for that tan that I urgently need to get!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New neighbours

During dinner outside in our garden last Monday (before the big thunderstorm) , Jan noticed a lot of new activity next doors. ...Unwanted buzzing activity just under the roof.

So I went to warn the house owners yesterday about the wasp nest and immediately I was dragged into their garden to point out the flying intruders at the corner of their house.

Today I heard they didn't have wasps but bumblebees. And apparently those have a hard time in Belgium and are protected. Hmm I didn't know that! So the fire department told our neighbours that their outside houseguests must remain there in their little newly decorated nest under the roof and cannot be touched. But they wouldn't bother us either.

It actually makes sense because I was already surprised that the wasps had let us have outside drinks and dinners over the last weekend without interruption. I guess these fuzzy fatties mind their own business.

So one week after some negative media messages about the disappearing bees in Belgium, we have new neighbours for the summer that are not so unwelcome after all. I hope they come and visit our strawberry flowers a lot :). Maybe I should get some more flowers for them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mijn restaurant final Kortrijk - Sint-Truiden

Yes, the final is between Del'Anno in Kortrijk and Bigarreux in Sint-Truiden, the 2 restaurants who got consistently the best reviews. A logical choice as I said before. Now the choice becomes tough, although I do believe Claudio is a better chef than Ann.

Multiple choice

I am almost too tired to watch "Mijn Restaurant" because

I phoned my boss yesterday to tell him that I felt too well to remain in sickleave and that I needed some mental challenge, even though I can only sit with the help of a special pillow and driving a car is still out of the question.
Then I spent a day catching up 4 weeks worth of e-mails, problems, questions and information in an ever more painfull tense position on my chair. In the evening I had to go for a walk to deblock my cramped shoulders and back. Today it was already a lot better, but I'm clearly not used to a work rhythm anymore.

b) 3 AM
A low sound rumbles in the background, combined with a loud wooooosh wooosh and ticking on the window

G: (very sleepy) "huh, is that a thunderstorm?"
J: "Is the window open upstairs"
G: "I'll go and check"
...opens bedroom door and faces the hallway window
"oh my, that's scary...that much lightening! Hell, I don't dare to go up"
J:"turn the light on"
...turns the light on
G: "ah ok much better"
....goes upstairs to close a window
G: "my gosh never seen such a thunderstorm. That lightening is insane. It doesn't stop a second. We are so lucky that the center of the thunderstorm isn't here. I hope it doesn't come closer, that's insane to be in the middle of such a storm."
J: "mmm..."
J: "Gosh" (gets up and opens a curtain)
"Wow so much lightening"
G: "Told you so"
J: "I'm telling you , this storm is going to be headlines in the news again. We are lucky, I think in the direction of Brussels is much worse."
G: "yeah, going to be fires and floodings and damage"

G: turn turn
"sigh, it's too clear, so much lightening"
J: turn turn turn


c) I'm thinking of more and more small last minute wedding preparations to do. Or at least I think there's still a lot out there and I simply don't realise them in time.

d) all of the above

Sunday, May 24, 2009


This post is going to be short in words as I am too tired today to type much coherently. But pictures will tell it all, I hope. Of course my friends knew what I'd like and totally dislike when they organised my bachelor party. So as expected it ended up a cosy relaxing but very fun day/evening with a fun and quite diverse group of friends. I had nothing to worry about, just enjoy :)

Afternoon: a picture hunt walk through part of Leuven. Fortunately I knew the city well enough to find the way and guide the rest. In the mean time I received some assignments.

My egg with Jan's picture was my buddy for the entire day and I had to take care of it to proof my care capabilities in marriage.

Yet I had to remain independent in marriage as well so I was forbidden all day to talk about or refer to Jan all day. Any infringement got punished by a piece of chocolate I had to eat....for me that is a punishement, but I played by the rules and ate (whenever they had noticed I had mentioned Jan). Posing with a chocolate bar can be combined with a big smile... while eating it the smile disappears.

Playing hints on the busy big market square in Leuven. They were so gentle to me: I was simply dressed in white instead of some hideous costume and I didn't have to harrass the people with stupid assignments. I really pitied a "colleague" Pipi Longstocking who had to sell condoms to the people so I bought 2....who knows, they could come in handy as 'protection' for the egg, right?

In the city park I had to humn songs to my public who clearly thought I was quite funny.
Evening: A belly dancing course proofed us we had muscles where we had never imagined we'd have muscles....only we had no clue how to use them :p. Fun but not easy! the challenge is to isolate a part of your body and move it while the rest is stable (or moves in a different direction).

Later in the evening: A nice cosy dinner with a big group of friends

Later in the evening: some more cocktails to be tested in downtown Leuven.

.......and an unfortunate egg that somehow truly by accident slipped from my hand at the doorstep while coming home. Fxxx! I took care of it so well day and now my little egg is broken

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No control

I like to be in control of things
I like to know what is going to happen when where etc.
I like to know whether we might eat late (so my purse can hide some cookies) or we'd be outside a lot or not (additional sweater taken along), ...

But in half an hour my friends come and pick me up for my bachelor party and yes now I start feeling nervous. I have no clue what they are up to. I know about some friends that they are coming, some are coming late, some are sleeping over tonight, ... That's it. Lots of jokes about funny Mega Mindy costumes etc have been made and they were good fun as I don't take them serious at all.

I have done some late minute ironing as I am requested to be dressed in white, some last minute eating in order not to head out of the door with empty stomac, .... Euh what else do I need to prepare. Must make sure to drag my special pillow along so I can sit down now and then.
euh what else...Comfortable shoes (so no white, sorry) as I don't know how much walking we'll do, ....

Gosh it's annoying not to know what's going to happen! But I do trust it's going to be a fun afternoon and night.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Come and see: a chicken is born

Remember the baby elephant hype? Well a big healthy elephant calf popped out on Sunday morning and got the name Kai Mook being pearl in Thai. Well at least so they thought at the zoo. But Khai Mook is pearl and apparently Kai Mook is....chicken.

Whaahaaa...allow me to have a good laugh about that blunder. Come and see the new baby chicken born in the Antwerp Zoo :p

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Half a size

There I stood all dressed up, proudly smiling to my image in the mirror.

She frowned and pulled the tissue under my arms
"You lost weight, right?"
"Euh, yes I did, I'm recovering from recent surgery"
"I'll have to call the seamster again"

A bit later there's 1 cm tissue pinned in under my arms at each side. It does look better and so the dress stays in the store for one more week.
Bye bye see you next week!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Eurovision songcontest final in 2009

I've not seen any of the semi-finals this year, so I can watch this final with a "fresh" look. In the mean time the Belgian candidate stranded in the semi-final already. I'm not surprised: I've listened to it on youtube to know what we were sending and didn't bother to listen to the end. This year Wallonia could send an artist and hence there's not been a big Flemish preselection series catches all the media attention.
However a Flemish girl from Turkish descent Hadise, a bigger star in Turkey than in Belgium is representing Turkey. And all the Flemish media follow her on her tail as well and cheering for her. It's almost as if they must mention the Belgian artist out of obligation but then quickly and gladly move on to talk about Hadise.

I'm home alone tonight (Jan celebrates his stag party tonight) so I'll amuse myself by sharing my random thoughts as they come by. That's probably more fun to do than to read...Oh well, too bad for you guys. Too bad for Jan for not being able to see it ;)...I'm sure he truly misses it. Hehe.

  • Lithuania: an honest (non overloaded with crazy kitch) ballad...but I don't like ballads very much.
  • Israel: a song with a message for peace. Quite repetitive, not the nicest melody. The 2 singers look quite sympathetic girls. Hopefully they can convince their region!
  • France: Patricia Kaas, a French star who dares to join this mad circus. How courageous. Simply performing her song alone on the huge stage: "less is more". Aaah French chanson in its best tradition. It makes me wanna grab a glass of red wine and close my eyes and relax. Not sure if this is a song for a televoting contest though but it brings quality music.

    huh weird bow at the end.
  • Sweden: Opera with a beat. A blond babe with a white dress in front of a bright white background as if she must represent an angel.
  • Kroatia: he's named a young Julio Eglesias ....and yes I can totally hear Julio starting this song when I close my eyes. The boy needs a bigger fake tan though if he wants to be Julio all the way :p. I think he has a stronger voice though than Julio. It turns more and more into opera at the end.

Intermediate note: 5 songs and no mad circus kitch situations yet? Hmm am I watching the right festival? Is this about singing again?

  • Portugal: the title sounds a bit like Fleur d'Elise , the restaurant that has been closed last Thursday :p . Are those costumes supposed to be folkloric or doll impressions? Hmm lots of colors and flowers and rainbows projected in the background. Sounds like a group that could go perform in kindergardens and elementary schools.
    Her voice seems a bit weak now and then.
  • Iceland: long eyelashes in that very close-up! Well I suppose it's approriate if the song is about eyes.
    Pffff boring, too nice and too dreamy. It lacks character. They should have asked Björk to coach them a bit to spice it up. Ah they are listening, it's speeding up a bit. Too late to convince me.
  • Greece: oh come on, stop grabbing your crotch. You're not Michael Jackson ok? This must be one of the 60% gay performers for sure. Stop overacting.
    Oh that sideways slide is kinde cool.
    oh and that leaning forward that's stolen from Michael Jackson too.
  • Armenia : A song with the name "Jan Jan" . Oh now I'm interested!
    A few dansers doing some kind of Shiva on some etnic tune.

    Weird weird, a bit of ethnic, a bit of dance, weird folkoric costumes, a choreagraphy that akes me think of mythical monsters. Ooh now they turn around likesome derwisjes.

    I'm intrigued :p
  • Russia: did she simply put a sheet with an elastic on? Really? Like those towels under which you can get changed??? Maybe she'll pull it off later on as a big suprise and reveal a stunning dress. For once I am hoping for such a cheap show trick!

    She looks so pale like a pierrot without the rolling tear painted on her cheek. She screams! Yikes. And now she pretends to be crying anyway, while some portrait projected behind her shows her hair being grey as an old sad lady.

    I think this would suit better in a theatre with a story. But I don't get the story. Why bring it here????? And she really didn't pull her sheet off , so that truly was her dress. My gosh. Pff no winner for sure.
  • Azerbaijan: catchy rhythm and tune. Not special or original but happy and it gets my foot ticking along. I'll probably be forgotten it in a minute though. Miniskirts in front that have anckle long tips in the back is so oldfashioned by the way!
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina: oooh there's some marching drummers in the background. With the costumes this seems to belong in some dramatic costume musical!
  • Moldavia: ooooh very very ethnic. I close my eyes and see a shephards girl chanting out over the glowing hills.
    Oooh it changes....coo-hool this sounds a bit like Shantel. The gypsy trumpets, the rhythm.
    ok gone again. And back, jump jump jump.

    Pff song with very ups and very downs :). Let's cut it in half and throw away the rest ;)
  • Malta: the reporters must repeat again that the composer is a Belgian...A composer who has sent already some very unsuccesful Belgian songs to the contest before :). Oh but our Flemish proud needs this straw to pretend we are still participating a little bit, right.

    Once again a singer in front of the microphone bringing the song without unnecessary show or glitter. Seems like tonight isn't going to be the eurovision kitch festival after all. Cool.

    Not that I am overly fond of this song but I like the fact that the focus seems to be back on the songs and singing. It's a bit oldfashioned.
  • Estonia: euh sorry, got distracted.
  • Denmark: oh no not that kind of ballad again, I don't like that. So Ronan Keating has partly written this huh? Yep, I can imagine so. Phew, it speeds up a bit.
    hmm yes yes, the better boysband work. I can see teenage girls loving this. I can imagine this being on the radio frequently. And I'd probably change channels.
  • Germany: A guy in silver glittering tights, black open shirt and big necklaces. This must be part of the 60% gay performaners too. No no we don't want the kitch anymore. Yikes he's scary to watch.

    Some swing show elements. Huh is this really Dita Von Teese in painful tight corset parading by now? Oh it is too!
  • Belgium....Oh no sorry, Turkey. We'd almost forget she's not participating for Belgium.
    My gosh so much cheering in the stade. I don't like the many high shreeks in this song and the loudly shouted DUM TEK TEK. Half of the time it sounds more like screaming than singing. I like the energy level in this song, I like the dancing, ... but I really believe Hadise can sing better than this. Then again her belly dancing is attractive.

    It's one of the better acts. This song shouldn't win though, I am sorry to say. She doesn't "sing" enough. And yet I bet Belgium will give 12 points to Turkey. 100% sure.

  • Albania: Such a tiny ballerina type girl with an amazing low voice.
    Pfff is it still going on?

  • Norway: aaah the favourite for tonight. I've seen it on You tube already and it's not bad. Lots of cheering indeed when he comes on.

    3rd time I hear this and it's in my head already. I guess that's a good sign. Cute boy, cute fiddling and my foot is ticking. After a while the fiddling might become annoying though. I wouldn't be upset if it wins.

Sidenote: Presentors don't need to shout in order to look enthousiastic. Can anyone tell those Russians that, please?

  • Ukraine: eeek, ugly. Big metal circles with hardly dressed metal soldiars dancing in and on it. Square techno music.
    Isn't there a familiar tune in the background?

    Is it possible this song gets better the longer you hear it or should I worry about my own taste? Wow weird.
  • Romania: drums drums. And a bunch of boobs that want to pop out of the dresses.
    Pff song collapse already like a soufflé taken out to soon as soon as the drums start.

    Where's the forward button???
  • UK: I'm curious, this is the song written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
    A very classical song with 4 smoking violists and sir Webber himself at the piano. A girl with a very good voice, wow, impressive. Yep she can surely sing.
    This is quality....but not my style. A bit oldfashioned I fear. Although...I don't know. It's refreshing to hear such a voice.
  • Finland: Dance-rap. The type we Belgians are so good at. Very commercial, high hit potential.
    I'm already singing along, quite predictable. If they'd play that at 3 AM on a party, I would stay on the dance floor.
  • Spain: very eurovision. Energetic and lots of choreography. This could have been in the 80ies versions of the eurovision contest as well.
    Horrendous make-up and stupid ice skating outfit.

So televoting is going on. And to counter the eastern European "bloc voting" , the professional jurys have been reintroduced today. their votes count for 50% of the points. In an edition were singing is more central than the previous years, that could be very interesting!

And the votes from the Belgian jury: Twelve points for Turkey....I told you so , I told you so, I told you so!!!

After only 8 out of 42 countries voting , Norway has already double as much points as the second one. I guess I can go to bed now...Norway is winning as predicted. It's rare that the favourites in the media win, but I think tonight that's the case.

(half awake....too many countries that need to give points)

So Norway won. Sleep well!

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

  • There's currently a new internet hype in Belgium. We're all logged on and staring at an elephant wandering around nervously in its room here. We're watching it so massively that the server gets overloaded now and then and zoo asks to log off when we go and do some shopping or cleaning or so. "If we want to be certain of good views, we must go to the big screens on some square in Antwerp". Even the Dutch news is now broadcasting the fact that so many Belgians are staring at Phyo Phyo the elephant.

    So why are we all staring so much and checking if there's more slime coming out of her ass. Why are we checking so much if she is still crossing her backlegs all the time? Well she's expected to deliver an elephant calf any moment now, or in the next 24-48 or more hours.

    It's the first time an elephant is about to have a baby elephant in Belgium and the director of the zoo is a bright marketeer who has managed to attract the population's involvement. A few months ago already the zoo keepers got interviews as she was due any moment (they didn't know exactly when she had conceived as the male elephant had visited a couple of times :p) and we all could vote for the future name and start watching webcams.

    And on Friday the newspapers reported that the delivery had now truly started and the baby calf is expected sometime this weekend. And so we are all watching while nothing is happening so far, but we all hope we are behind the screen when the 100 kg baby will floop out ...or maybe not floop out as easily. Hell has anyone ever seen a live birth of an elephant? That's why it's so interesting and fun to go back.

  • I've spent a lot of time at home over the last weeks. Because I can't sit in a car, my world has shrunk to the dimensions of our house and the surrounding streets. So anything happening in front of our door is very interesting all of a sudden.

    Last week we heard a lot of hoofs clicking...only to notice a dozen horses and wagons coming by. Apparently a historic immegration to Germany was being relived by a big tour "starting in Brugges , crossing most of Flanders and ending in a couple of weeks in the German region "Fläming" . And they came by in front of our door as well!

  • Last Thursday a van had parked in front of the door and a man was hauling with some carts back and forth all the time. I figured someone was moving but much to my surprise he started putting out billboards next to the road with big Coca Cola balloons. It turned out Coca Cola was doing some sampling of Coke Light at the crosspoint here.

    The guy was very eager to give me some whenever I dared to come out of the door but had no clue whether this Coke Light was any different than before. He dutifully repeated all the time "No sugar, no calories". Right, wasn't that already not the case for the last 10 years?

    Either it's new after all, either I am totally used to Coke Zero by now as I thought the taste was horrendous. And the poor neighbour pharmacist doesn't drink Coke either and every customer wanted to please her by bringing in one of the sample cans :p. She had a whole counter of cans already.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eurovision flashback: Pas de Deux - Rendez-vous

So last Tuesday Belgium apparently didn't make it to the Eurovision final. It's a tradition.

This is the Belgian song in 83. Quite avantgarde, abstract and absurd . One of the most controversial participants with a lot of booooos when selected in Belgium. 26 years later it's still hip and cool and would still suit well in the contest.

I like it!

Medical questionmarks

When you are on sickleave at home, it's terribly boring. Standing in the kitchen behind the laptop at the counter top gets boring and dull. Reading and watching tv isn't so exciting when you have all the time to do so. Wedding preperations are frustrating as they must happen in those few painless hours behind the laptop.

And yet time flies by as well. Somehow you can spend a lot of time doing nothing special and yet days go by. Sleeping in, having a very slow breakfast with tv on, checking some online newspapers, reading some mails and facebook statusses, having the nurse come over, recover a bit by pacing slowly through the living room, preparing lunch, resting a bit on the sofa in front of the news, doing some household chores slowly, doing a few phone calls for the wedding and before you know it it's evening and I'm in pain and all that is left for me is laying on the sofa flipping through the tv channels.

So anyway, it's been 2 weeks since the doctor cut the hole. 2 weeks of painful treatments by the nurse (she's very sweet and compassionate though!), 2 weeks without sitting at all , 2 weeks of painfull feet, 2 weeks of constant sleepiness.

Finally I could go and see the surgeon and hear his opinion whether the wound was looking as "good" as the nurse claims. I really wanted him to tell me whether this was a fistula or not as he had casted some doubts last time on the source of all these infections. A fistula would imply he needed to do more cutting and with a wedding coming up in 3 weeks and a dream (diving) honeymoon that's not something you want to hear.

My first appointment got cancelled and postponed and then yesterday I could finally get my check-up. I got the reassurance that the wound is indeed looking good, but there is still no certainty whether it'll close entirely or not. It's a medical mystery: the lab finds no clues to indicate the source of the problem : neither cyste neither fistula. Argh.
And although I can feel the painlevels reducing as the wound is getting smaller, I don't know how it will evolve. The surgeon was kinda too optimistic in my opinion "either it closes in the coming weeks and then all is fine for the wedding and honeymoon ....or the wound doesn't close but as long as it's open no new abcess will develop, so I should be fine as well. I can 'probably' swim on vacation and maybe my husband could desinfect the wound now and then a little bit. "

Aaaaagh, I don't feel like leaving to a tropical island in those circumstances.

So based on my cousin's advice (also a surgeon, different speciality), I phoned the other bigger hospital in Leuven and asked for an appointment with one of the surgeon professors there to get a second opinion. If it weren't for my wedding and honeymoon I'd probably have a more relaxed "wait and see how everythings develops" but right now I want to get more information.
Much to my surprise I got quite easily an oppointment for the beginning of next week.

Gosh when it comes to medical services we do live in a luxury country I suppose. No wonder we "consume" so much. It hardly costs us anything either: a normal house doctor visit is 4-5€ (you have to advance 20€ but get refunded by our mandatory social security system), a specialist is 7 -10€ (yesterday's consult will cost me 7,5€). The surgery itself cost 688,51€ but my social security pays 670,91 automatically without the need of advancing it and my personal contribution was 17,6€. It would have been a lot more if I had demanded a private room as the doctors are free to charge a much higher rate then, but why would you need a personal room if you are only one day in the hospital, half of the time in the operation room anyway? The nursing cost for the prescribed service I get at home each day is directly paid by the social security system....I have no clue how much that would be as you never get to see any bill for that.
Man, we are so lucky. All the above mentioned costs are then as a matter of fact refunded by my medical insurance from work except for the firsst 75€. So the good news about having a recurring problem is that the entire treatment has become free for me.

I'd still rather have no more surgeries though, they are no fun! Argh, who wants pain? I just want to be healed and get active again, do sports, get outdoors, .... My world has shrunk so much because I can't walk far neither can I sit in a car. Thank goodness there's internet to keep in touch with people!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eurovision: a fun flashback

As you could read over at Lilaspecs, tonight the Eurovision song circus has started again and it almost lasts a week: a semi-final tonight, another one on Thursday and the final on Saturday. What a madness.

The quality of songs last years is so horrendous (or I grew up?), so tonight my tv stays tuned on "Mijn Restaurant" mostly. Yet the Eurovision song contest does bring me a lot of nostalgia form my childhood when I was still a tremendous fan of all the kitch....when the top 10 hits were all filled with eurovision songs....when the contest truly produced songs that I liked and remembered....when my parents woke me up when the results got in to tell me who had won.

One of the songs that I've always remembered and still always brings a big smile to my face is Israël in 1987: Lazy Bums with "Hoppa Hulla"

Enjoy! Wouldn't you want this to still participate??

Monday, May 11, 2009

Less than a month!

Surgery and wounded or not....the last preperations for the wedding must go on while standing with the laptop at the kitchen counter top (and with some help from Jan and friends who go and check some stores or take some pictures of the wedding locations for me).

And in the mean time we keep our fingers crossed that the surgeon tells me on Wednesday that I'm having a speedy recovery (and that he does not discover a fistula that needs more cutting work!!) and that I will be able to sit painless in a couple of weeks time.

  • location: booked more than a year ago
  • caterer: booked
    menu confirmed
  • townhall: booked
  • church: booked
  • dress + shoes + jewels: bought/ordered
  • men's clothes: ordered
  • rings: at home....and so beautiful...I want to wear my ring already. I think my hand looks very good with my wedding ring on it :)
  • DJ: evening discussed
    => we still must notify him our chosen opening song :)
  • photographer: booked
  • guestlist: final
  • invitations: sent & starting to gently chase the people who have not yet returned an answer
  • children's clothes: bought and very cute!
  • choir: booked and songs chosen
  • flowers: chosen and booked
    => still need to find a grey/beige cloth to hang over the altar (height: 92 cm width: 148 cm depth: 82 cm)....if I don't find some modest end of roll cloth in the downtown textile store which is in my "I can walk half an hour" distance range, I might need some help!
  • Taxi: booked
  • Honeymoon vacation: booked (and new passport and international driving license ready and vaccinations checked)
    =>yes we have a cancellation insurance, let's hope we don't need to use it!!
  • Hairdresser: booked (tests planned and postponed)
  • Make-up: booked
  • Air brush tanning: to book after doctor's appointment
  • Wedding service : finishing
  • Witnesses: chosen and contacted
    => bring names to city hall: to do
  • Notary: ongoing
  • Table settings: to start
  • Wedding candle: ordered
  • Buy candy for children at church: to do
  • Maybe buy guestbook and candid camera's : to do
  • Hen party: apparently getting planned
  • Find victims to set the church chairs before service, check the carpet being rolled out there, bring the serice booklets to the church and distribute them to the guests, to read texts in church, ...: to do! => volunteers are welcome to report to me :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


How many bridesmaids will I have?

If you ask in Dutch how many "bruidsmeisjes" I'll have (bride = bruid maid +- = meisje) than the answer is 2. They will wear the same dresses and they will walk in front of me. I've known them all their lives. They are cheeky and good fun.

They are my two 4-year old nieces :).
And Stef, my 4-year old nephew will accompagny them. They will carry flowers and the rings.

So a row of adult bridesmaids as I know them from Anglo-Saxon movies does not exit in Belgium. No line of girls all dressed alike that need rehearsals to know when & how slowly to walk down the isle and where to lign up. Neither is there a series of groomsmen, best men , etc....stressing all day about speeches etc...

In traditional Belgian weddings the bride and groom are accompagnied by the "suite" which basically consists of their parents and siblings, their partners and the witnesses if they are no siblings. The women are never dressed alike though. They might at maximum arrange that all wear hats or not and that all have similar lengths of skirts.

The groom comes (in rented taxis) at the brides house to pick her up. He rings the door and the bride opens in her beautiful dress the door. The suite comes in and they all can have a drink and some pictures can already be taken by the photographer.
Then the entire suite then leaves for the wedding service where all the guests are waiting. So bride and groom arrive together :)...although when strictly following traditional etiquette the bride will be seated with her dad in the last taxi/car, preceded by the groom and his mother in a different taxi and the other members of the suite before that. The cars lign up and and all couples leave the taxi one by one and walk down to the entrance of the church/town hall to wait and welcome the bride. After the service all couples walk back out one after the other but now of course the bride and groom walk side by side.

However most weddings don't follow strict formal etiquette rules anymore: there can be only one taxi or or a big (oldtimer) bus for the entire family or no taxis at all so all people simply drive their own cars to the ceremony .... The bride and groom can have no official "suite" so family members arrive in church more unofficially among the other guests. I've seen a wedding where the groom was waiting inside the church ffor his bride to enter "like the movies".... Anything's possible but I've never seen a wedding in Belgium with a series of adult bridesmaids and groomsmen though.

We prefer a less formal day so don't expect all the traditional rules applied to our wedding!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mijn restaurant

Last year I was totally hooked on the tv reality show "Mijn Restaurant" (based on the Australian 'My restaurant rules'), especially when the contestants in Leuven were often nominated yet won their restaurant in the end.

This year the started restaurants are located in different cities so neither my ex-home town Ghent or my current hometown Leuven is participating. This allows me to watch with a little more distance than last year, yet I am so hooked again. Jan clearly doesn't enjoy it as much as last year (when he could only see one out of 2 shows due to his London-Leuven commute) and thinks 3 hours per week is really an overdosis. He is so visibly frustrated by the many many blunders that these new restaurant owners are making, but to me that's part of the charm.
Let's face it: there's only 2 competitors this year that really stick out and the others aren't playing in the same league. But if the show would only be about Sint-Truiden and Kortrijk, it'd get a bit boring no? It's a tv show after all, so I don't mind some nagging, stressed-out, blundering couples.

So far the show seems to follow the line of expectations:
First restaurant closed again was La Scène in Sint-Niklaas launched by the only couple who both couldn't cook and had to manage a chef while missing essential food knowledge themselves. Though both charming ever friendly optimistic people their lack of involvment was sometimes so painfull with Dominique preferring to stand behind the bar and observe and Ben needed to ask 3 times each time what was on the plate before he could go serving it to the customers.
And come on...a restaurant completely painted in black and bright red with plastic chairs...eeeek....not my idea of a top restaurant where you can have a cosy relax evening either!

So now Diest and Turnhout are competing against each other for closure. No surprise either since both got a lot of criticism from all critics coming by. Despite clear improvements they both are no match for Kortrijk and Sint-Truiden.
Rebekka and Deborah in Fleur Délice at Diest seem to serve ok, but no exquis food although they desserts suck. Whaahaa and then Murphy's law struck and when the Michelin critic was in the restaurant Deborah just snapped and lost her temper at him. Oh irony oh irony, way to go girl. In a toprestaurant you simply never can loose it, never have a bad day and certainly never ever go into discussion with your customers. sorry girls, I think you both could perfectly run a nice pleasant restaurant but you should not have the ambition to have a top restaurant. Know your own limits. Maybe if they focus a bit more on the new romance of Rebekka and the sous-chef, they'd be able to get some sympathy votes :p. Hihi.

Wendy and Chris at 't Gerecht from Turnhout get mostly in the picture for their constant nagging as a couple. While Chris has culinary experience, he never seems to convince the critics and takes all criticism with such an incredible defensive stubborn attitude that he becomes so annoying and arrogant. Wendy on the other hand has gained a lot of self-confidence and starts to run the serving more firmly . She realises very much that the need to step up in order to keep in the she nags Chris constantly which only makes him more stubborn. Hilarious, annoying and a bit tragic at the same time. Sorry to say but they don't deserve to make it either.
So for this nomination I don't really care who wins or who loses as....the next nomination the other one should loose anyway so it should only be 2 weeks postponing of their ultimate fate as they'll run up against on of the favourites. (and please let us not vote for the underdog for once).

And then the final should be between the 2 favourites: Bigarreux in Sint-Truiden run by Ann and Tom and Claudio and Gaël from Dell Anno in Kortrijk since they get so many praises from all food critics. Claudio comes from a culinary family and has truly gained a lot of experience in top restaurants. Ann also seems to run her team firmly as a chef with a lot of confidence.
And half of the Flemish woman seem to fall for Tom's charmes (and ignore completely the fact that he is gay) whereas the Tom is also a dream for the waiters in the competing restaurant Dell Anno :p. Gaël's pretty face and Claudio's Italian charm also give them a lot of fans who couldn't care less whether they can run a restaurant or not.

Aaaaah it's still going to be so interesting. I don't get an overdosis with those 3 hours a week :-). And in the mean time Jan and I amuse ourselves as to critic each other meals on texture, pallette of taste, dressing of the plates, ...I think Jan should win ;)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Out of office

It's been more than 5 weeks now that I've been in the office. In April I was in sick leave, then working a bit from home and right at the moment I was supposed to return to the office, I was forced to go back into sick leave.

In the 9 years that I'm working I've never been ill more than a week I think until this recurring problem has started. It's really strange to be away that long from work and colleagues and a working environment.

But it's nice to be missed. Since I stayed home, my employer is ensuring I don't loose the connection with work by a relaunch of our major brand, media campaign, press conferences and news articles, roadside billboards and "fanpage invitations on facebook" (don't hesitate to join by the way, lots of prices to win!).
It's nice to be reminded to work so regularly while being stuck at home and I am not in the slightest bit sarcastic. I'm really happy to see the relaunch that my colleagues have so enthousiastically prepared for months, happening and all the positive reviews it's getting. Hey good job, it's tasting good! Cheers :). I didn't forget you guys.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mexican flu and youth exchanges

This flu outbreak has now in the news for about 2 weeks and has caused some hysteria worldwide. Let's take a step back though: most people suffering from that flu are in Mexico and the USA and those infected in other countries almost always came from these regions. So thanks to all drastic quarantaine measures it doesn't seem to spread spectacularly at all.
In total about 20 people have died from this flu now. I'm sorry to be so blunt but wouldn't it be fair to say that any sort of flu could cause this number of deaths? So is this really anything more than the regular flu that spreads each winter? ....well no, because it's a new sort that has no vaccin yet, but is perfectly treatable.

So can we please calm down a bit? People trapped in a hotel in Hong Kong, every news emission that starts with an update on this flu, ...come on! Governments need to be precautious and indeed try not to spread a flu massively but they should prevent hysteria as well.

What really upsets me is that AFS has forced all exchange students in Mexico to go home a few months early. Those students are living in families, they have become part of a community, they go to school and want to finish their year with their new friends, they have travel plans, party plans, .... How cruel to force them to return prematurely whether it was their choice or not, whether they lived in an affected region or not. Other organisations like YFU has given their students in Mexico the choice and only 1% chooses to return home.
So 12 Belgian students (why does the Belgian media talk about 6 Flemish students and a bit further about 6 Wallonian students anyway....does it matter to make this distinction?) have returned to Belgium. I really feel for them! And I'm glad Canada had no flu when I was there!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Standing at the kitchen top

Here I am again standing up with the laptop on the kitchen counter top: too sleepy to do much, but too awake to nap :p.

Anyway, surgery went ok I suppose. It's not like I know what's been going on as I was sound asleep right :p. And the fact that I'd be more in pain as before the surgery was anticipated and normal as the goal of the surgery was cutting out an infected zone creating an open but clean wound that can grow up slowly but healthy. Yet the pain isn't too bad.

All in all it went fine. Better than the days before the surgery where I managed to get myself sick from nausea from stressing out beforehand. I am so talented in doing so. Envisioning myself dizzy with an upset stomac on my back (ouch) in the recovery room made me exactly so...before.
The irony is that reality was better than my negative expectations: I've asked for something to calm me down when checking in at the hospital and a purple Xanax made me doze slightly off while waiting to get rolled away and hear the anesthesiologist tell me "sleep well". And I believe they've given me different anesthesia (since I had to answer on the questionnaire whether I had nausea last time) which simply made me wake up from a deep sleep with a steady stomac. Yeaah. Ah and that silly blue surgery dress actually had some buttons that remained closed this time unlike last time where they were merely decorative but not functional at all!

So now I have to wait again for the wound to cure itself ...and if it does entirely since the surgeon all of a sudden didn't rule out a fistula anymore. He can't prove that hypothesis (yet) but he couldn't prove I was suffering from cyst(s) either. Damn. The nurses that come at home to desinfect the wound say it's looking good. I wonder how a wound can "look good"...glad it's at a spot I can't check myself :p.

....35 more days to get cured and to get seated again ....