Friday, September 30, 2016

Count your blessings - sept 2016

  1. Colleagues who contact you on Friday evening to ask if they should put the forgotten bottles with pumped milk in the freezer, after they've noticed them in the company fridge. 
  2. A group of 10 small children jumping enthusiastically up and down and yelling "wave wave" to a hot air balloon that flies by slowly and low, on a warm sunny September evening. 
  3. Dropping Kabouter off at school just before the bell goes and observe him hop to the classroom hand in hand with his best friend.
  4. Sun beams peaking through the forest on my morning commute to work
  5. The joy of throwing stuff away and seeing some new free space in your house
  6. A flock of geese flying over in formation really really low
  7. Visiting my dad... who is finally back at home after 4,5 months. 
  8. Booking a city trip again
  9. 2 kids with their nose pressed at the window, waving when you park the car in front of the house and walk home
  10. Acquaintances that drop off a forgotten-at-a-babyparty birthday present toy 
  11. The neighbour pharmacy that turns out to be on weekend duty when Kabouter reacts allergic
  12. Running with Kabouter in my arms to the school because we are late and breaking both into laughter because of the shaking.
This is a monthly list of simple things in my life that make me happy or that make me smile.  
As the world often seems full of negativity and disaster, I want to pay attention to these small things that make me happy in my daily life and be greatfull for them. This is the 9th edition. You can find all of them via this link

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Braderij Tiensestraat

Running some errands downtown is a bit more fun if you get to walk through a traffic free street that just organised a flea market and outdoor rummage sale


When I lived in my apartment in Ghent, I bought cans of pop for myself as I don't like drinking a lot of water. I like to alternate some tastes but I didn't drink enough to open a big bottle of pop: by the time I'd finish the bottle, all the CO2 would have escaped already.  But after a visit of Jan, a whole pile of cans was gone each time in one evening.  Jan has the amazing capacity to sit down after dinner in the sofa and start glass , two glasses, .... an entire 6 pack of cans or a full bottle.

So since we live together, we consume a lot of bottles. We are in a constant need of buying multipacks of water, sparkling water, lemonades and coke and our plastic recycling bag fills up quite quickly. We were especially constantly running out of sparkling water, that Jan uses to quench his thirst.

So we started to wonder whether the Sodastream system would be something from us. I remember having seen the system for the first time on a market in Ghent more than a decade ago and I judged it something for people that wanted an alternative against the big evil brands of the big corporations that are out there to steal our soul. It seemed like a bizar system for hippies that wanted to drink obscure self-made drinks. Yep, I'm pretty good in judging and labeling if I want to be.

But recently you see the Sodastream systems in all supermarkets and we wondered if it didn't make sense after all. A FB enquiry among our friends gave a clear opinion: do not try all the fake lemonade tastes etc  but if you consider it as a sparkling water machine then it works actually quite nice. There were quite a lot of our friends with the system already.  So we bought a promotional machine and gave it a try.

After 2 months, I must say we are very fond of it. Our plastic waste has gone down with over 50%, our drinks shopping list as well and I notice I start to drink a lot more sparkling water now over bottled mineral water, lemonades and coke...because it's so easy and always available on the table. We are still learning how long we can go with 1 CO2 cilinder and how easy the refill process is from those cilinders.  But so far we're quite enthusiastic. On the other hand, we do not feel tempted whatsoever to add flavoured syrups to the water to make our own lemonades...there I faithfully stick to my popular brands.

The Sodastream principle is simple: you fill one of the Sodastream bottles, which are thicker to support the CO2 pressure with tap water, you connect it to the machine which holds a CO2 cilinder and give a few pushes to inject the CO2 into the bottle and ....your water turned into sparkling water. Quite a good concept: it makes the logistics of drinks at home so much easier, hopefully the CO2 cilinder production process is ecologically enough to make the entire system more ecological than the regular bottle industry and after  x time you've saved back your initial investment of the system and then it also becomes a cheaper way of drinking.

Note: this is not a sponsored post

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Made in Belgium: Olla Vogala

It's been ages ago since I've served here some world music. Olla  Vogala makes music inspired by folk, jazz and classical music. Their name refers to the oldest Dutch phrase recorded .

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Paris, la belle

Before and after last week's dinner with colleagues at Ile de la Cité. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016


My little boy is gorgeous
He is loved very much

also by the insects

but his body doesn't love them back. Kabouter has apparently inherited my easiness for allergies.  We try to prevent him from getting bitten all summer by applying each night anti mosquito roller and by using a anti mosquito (chemical) plug in his room very often (which I dread really).

But then we assume the risk is gone and we ease our habits

and BANG, our little boy is eaten again
and he's itchy
and he's swollen
and he's sad

and I feel bad :(

Because we believed his eye was swollen more tonight, we went to the doctor on duty despite knowing the response "it's an allergic reaction"  but hopefully the new sirop will help a bit better against the itch and swell

Friday, September 23, 2016

A week of ups and downs

  • Since last weekend already I'm so tired even though I am usually spending enough hours in bed.  I think Beertje was drinking more frequently at night.  I just couldn't achieve anything and spent my evenings counting down until I could go bed early. Jan was complaining about fatigue in solidarity. 
  • I had to go to Paris for 2 days for work  = an alarm clock at a painful early hour to leave through the dark silent city with some extra paracetamol in my handbag to battle some (fatigue?) headaches. 
  • The visit in France was very interesting, including touring half a day with a French after sales technician on the road in the south of Paris to learn about their after-sales organisation, processes and software. The French customers were really nice, despite off/ thanks to the Belgian delegation shadowing the repair technician at their doorstep.   It was very inspirational for the project we are launching in Belgium.
  • Our French colleagues were so nice to invite us for a nice informal dinner downtown Paris, earlier than they'd usually eat out to respect some of the our cultural differences (phewww). Nevertheless I had to use some of my paracetamol and my hotel room's supply of instant espresso before we went to manage to hang out for another evening. 
  • The traffic in the French capital was relatively nice to us those days. 
  • I slept for the first time a non-interrupted block of 7 hours since more than a year :)
  • I pumped milk for the first time in public, right on my spot in the Thalys train and also in the technicians van.. there is a first for everything. 
  • I managed to jump on a connecting train within 5 minutes of the Thalys arrival in Brussels.
  • We got the tragic news at work that a colleague lost his son unexpectedly yesterday.   
  • This tragic news hit us all while we were still digesting the devastation that another colleague got totally unexpectedly a really bad diagnosis of far spread cancer in multiple organs, 2 weeks ago.
  • I could walk an excited little birthday boy to school with a box full of muffins and got him back in the evening with a huge crown that he didn't put down anymore.  (it's been different in previous years) . 
  • Jan almost missed his birthday due to Thalys train issues (or train tunnel technical issues) but a rental car finally solved the issue despite the many traffic jams. I took the children "out" in a nearby bistro for a spaghetti, where Kabouter showed off his crown and birthday cards that he had carried over there.  Fortunately they both behaved and were calm so it worked out on my own with them.  Jan, in the end,  managed to deliver the birthday boy his present on the bed just before bed time. 
  • I've got a cold (which could explain the fatigue and soar throat earlier this week?) and also the kids are running around again with very snotty noses.   Hurray for autumn and winter coming. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Made in Belgium - Ertebrekers

We already knew that you can't put one label on Filip Kowlier. He's been introduced here before with his hip hop band 't Hof Van Commerce, he  has gone solo with among other a reggae album .
Since this spring he is also one of the members of the new group Ertebrekers that want to bring Flemish always in the Westvlaams dialect.  Fantastic :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Balade en terre des artisans

Previous weekend was the 2nd edition of a local craftsmen walk in our village and neigbour village in the Ardennes.   35 homes had opened up for the occasion and were welcoming a local craftsman to show off their craft work in the broadest sense of the word.

All the village roads were almost traffic free and a horse carriage was riding up and down between the villages. There wasn't a huge crowd out, compared to the yearly summer flea market, but there was a pleasant amount of people outdoors.

The walk was a bit chilly: autumn has clearly arrived in the high east of the country.  We underestimated the time it took to visit all stands, so we skipped a few but we saw a lot of nice woodwork, patchwork & clothing, candles, ceramics, paintings and drawings, ... While I enjoy to watch these type of decorations, those usually don't fit our style in the house. On the other hand we loved all "food stands" and tried some local nut wine,  local sausages and paté and also fresh ice-cream and waffles from our neighbor dairy farmer. Mmmmm!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Back at home!!

4,5 months after my dad fell at their arrival on vacation in Spain, he's finally back home! After months of recovery after the hip surgery, heavy deterioration of his Parkinson's and moving back and forth between hospitals (orthopedic departments and neurologic departments) and revalidation centers, he's actually fit enough to return home. It's a great relief as for a long time it didn't look promising and his recovery didn't seem to happen, on the contrary.  Spring was a period with heavy worries that weighed on us and while we thought we were up for some very tough decisions this summer, a turn seemed to happen after all.

It feels really good and emotional to see him home together again with my mom although he's still very weak and fragile and needs a lot of care and support. There's some extra assistance arranged that will hopefully fulfill their needs, keep his condition stable and allow them both some quality time.

We had a good visit with the kids absorbing all attention as they usually do.