One Month!

Last night I was up rather late. I went online to write my blog (not intending to do anything else), but one thing led to another, I answered some emails and then next thing I know it’s 2:18am and I’ve just spent the last couple hours watching music videos on YouTube. I say, Lady Gaga’s music seems normal, but then you watch the music videos and you’re thinking ‘what the heck is she on?!’. I mean sure, she’s very artistic and creative and ‘theatrical’ (according to Glee), but I’m being honest when I say that sometimes you can go a little over the top. But hey, the world needs a few people like that so the rest of us feel normal. I’m not dissing Lady Gaga, there are some of her songs I really like listening to. I’m just being observant and voicing an opinion.

I thought staying up would be ok because I could sleep in today, but I ended up getting up to go to Little Gym with Bastien and Adeline. Today was the end of a cycle and their was a show where family could come in and watch what the kids do every week (like they do with dance classes) and take pictures and things. Normally it’s just one parent per kid in the room. I didn’t have to go, but I thought it would be neat. So I have a bunch of pictures and some video. It’s a really neat place where the kids can be active in a safe environment (with lots of padding) and try out mini gymnastic type things. They also have this big circle pad where they put the kids on it on their stomachs and roll them towards another pad. When the get there, they help the kids do a somersault onto the pad on the floor. It looked like fun! They sang some songs and even had one of those big parachute things that are great to play with in groups. At the end of the parachute section they had the kids go underneath it and when all the kids were supposed to leave from underneath, there was Bastien trying to stick his head out of the center hole. I don’t have a picture of it, but I have it on video! Bastien even let me take his picture with his diploma. Now he will move up an age group and go at a later time.

Let’s travel back in time for a minute shall we:

Flashback to April 1997.

Some of you might know/remember the story of how when Jean-Go’s family came to visit the year he lived with us we went to Medieval Times in Toronto and someone (I can’t remember who, I was 10) won a blue teddy bear and gave it to Lisa. This is the one time I remember actually throwing a temper-tantrum. I know it happened more than once, but this is the one time I remember. I wanted a bear too! Yes, I admit, I am somewhat ashamed at my behaviour. Oh well. So when we took them to the airport Jean-Go’s Dad and younger brother disappeared for a while. When they came back they handed me a beanie panda bear and Charles (Jean’s brother) told me his name was Freddy. I remember playing with that bear a lot. I even took it to school and when my friends and I built small forts in the snow, I put the panda in them. I still have him. I actually brought him with me.

End flashback

This is the story of Freddy the Sleeping (now he’s awake!) Panda. So remember how I was saying (yesterday I believe) how Bastien likes to go on ‘trips’ with his backpack-on-wheels and he likes me to go with him with my suitcase? Well, he wanted to do that again today. So when we were in my room getting my suitcase he went and got Freddy. He had gotten him earlier when we were playing as well and I had put him (the bear) in one of my hoodie pockets. So Bastien tried to do that, but he didn’t have any pockets! So he told me to put him in my pocket again. Thus starts the funny part of the story. He decided that Freddy needed to have a nap so he took the bear and put him in my bed. Lying on his back of course (he corrected me when I put Freddy on his stomach). Then Bastien pulled up the covers (and now for something REALLY CUTE), gave him a little kiss and said good night (and good nap), just as if he was putting a little kid to bed. Then as we left he had me dim the light. Bastien closed the door, started walking into the library and then stopped! Freddy was awake! So he went up to the door and said ‘tok tok’ (knock knock) Bonjour Freddy, opened it (had me turn up the lights) and went to get the bear. He brought Freddy back out with him (but not before pulling my covers back up, so thoughtful) and got the library again and decided it was time for Freddy to sleep. This happened at least 10 times, I’m sure of it, and he never got very far (sometimes only a few steps) before he would take Freddy back into my room and put him back to bed or go and get him when he was ‘asleep’. Sometimes Freddy was crying, sometimes he wasn’t. Bastien would always talk to Freddy very nicely, and give a kiss before leaving. I couldn’t stop laughing (silently of course), it was cute and so funny. It was funny because he did it so many times and because he never got very far before he was back either waking him up or putting him to bed. It was adorable. Actually, I think Freddy is still in my bed right now :D. He’ll have to go back to his place on the nightstand tonight though, I sleep alone :).

During this time two of Adeline’s friends were over. One I met at the wine and cheese party and the other I just met today. Both are very, very nice. And for the occasion Adeline picked up a tarte sucre (sugar cake) from the bakery. Very tasty. We had hot chocolate as well and fruit.

Also today is my 1 month anniversary of my arrival in Belgium! And I haven’t missed a day of blogging yet, go me! And I guess I have this strange obsession with ‘!’ marks. I just get so excited!! 😀


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On my own…

… pretending he’s beside me…

Ok. Enough with the musical references, sorry :P. Today we went to the bank to figure out what was wrong with my debit card. It worked at the bank machines, but it wouldn’t work any time I would try to use it in a store. Turns out this is because I am now 25! The account I had was for young people, but since I just had my birthday last week, I need a different account. It was all taken care of there and I have a new card. We just couldn’t figure out what was wrong!

I also had a letter to mail and so after going to the bank Adeline went home (which is right across from the bank) and I took the boys to the small grocery store in Wasseiges and to the post office. I bought sausages all on my own. I had already asked Adeline what the French was for ‘I would like’ and I said that and told the clerk that I only spoke a little French. He asked me (in French) where I was from, so I told him. He was very nice. He opened the door for me when I was going in and leaving, on account of the stroller and the step. Now, I forgot this at the time, but I could have  just kept walking in that direction till I got to the Police Station/City Hall where there is a red post box and dropped my letter in there. But like I said I forgot, so we walked back towards the house (and in the direction of the post office). Now, I’ve only been to the post office once, so I actually went down the wrong road. We got past the bakery and I was all ‘Oh! This is the wrong way!’. I quickly remedied the situation and we were soon going down the right street. Bastien put my letter in the box for me and we were on our way home.

That’s about all the excitement for today!

Wine and Cheese Party

Last night was the much-anticipated Wine and Cheese Birthday Party! While I spent quite a bit of time off to the side by myself (I was feeling a little under the weather and I still don’t speak enough French to understand all the conversation!), I still had a great time.

I made a fruit salad all by myself…I know this isn’t hard and all I did was cut up the fruit, but for me it is a step in the right culinary direction! And on Friday I helped Adeline make an olive cake, but I didn’t have any because I don’t like olives >_<. Before I put him to bed, I took a lot of time taking care of Sylvain. Greg thanked me because that left him and Adeline free to socialize (he explained to me earlier that they don’t get to see all of their friends regularly because they all live an hour away) and I was happy to do it. It’s really nice when you get time with your friends who you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone was really nice and I met the couple who we are going to the sea with in June.

On to the cheese! There was so much! And I actually have no idea what they were all called and I didn’t try all of them, but I tried about, hmmm, 5 or 6 different flavours. One thing to say about Belgian cheese is that it is a lot stronger than our cheese at home (or at least the cheese I’m used to eating). It tastes so real, less chemicals. I know for sure that I do not like goat cheese. I’ve tried it 3 times now and I don’t like it. It’s like when I gave foie gras a second chance – nope – don’t like it at all. The other cheeses were good, but I think it’s going to take a little time for me to get used to them and to really like them. They’re a lot stronger than I’m used to. We also had a cheese pie which smelled like feet but tasted really good! That’s another thing about real cheese…some of it smells nasty, but you have to ignore that and just eat it!  We also had fresh bread from the boulangerie (bakery) down the street and grapes. You can’t have a wine and cheese party without grapes! I didn’t actually have that much wine. I’m not really a fan, but I will try it some times. Also, when I do drink it I prefer White, but Greg says that with cheese you drink Red. I also had a little bubbles to drink (remember, it’s not champagne if it doesn’t come from Champagne France!).

For me, the best part of the night was the dessert! From the bakery we got two fruit pies (cherry and apple with almonds) and two mousse cakes (chocolate and speculoos –> a typical Belgian cinnamon cookie).

Chocolate:

Speculoos:

And then we got to blow out the candles! Ready Greg?

1 – 2 – 3!

MAKE A WISH!


King’s Cake

Hello!

Today, so far, has been a great day. I got up to help get breakfast and Bastien ready (although I slept in a little >_<), and then after I went back to bed for a nap….that took the next three and a bit hours. I didn’t realize I was THAT tired. Then again, yesterday was a very full day. Let me explain…

January 6, 2011

After sending Greg and Bastien off, I went to get ready for the very full day ahead of me. Adeline picked up the Gâteau des Rois (or King’s Cake) and then we were off to Louvain-la-Neuve. She had a doctor’s appointment so I stayed with her Mom and Sylvain. When she returned we were off to Namur to see Jean-Go and to get my tour of the city (the old part of the city). It was raining (while it’s not England, it still rains a lot!) and I was very grateful for my Mountain Equipment Co-op rain jacket! 

You may be asking; ‘why did Holly go on a walking tour of Namur in the pouring rain?’ Well, it wasn’t quite pouring….all the time, and you can’t control the weather, so if possible, just go ahead with your plans! We went to the old part of the city that is all paved with cobblestones and there are certain places cars can’t go, so it’s really nice to walk around. We went to the old market square and went inside this old church (which was beautiful in a lonely kind of way). Before doing much though, we went for lunch at this restaurant called ‘Le Royal’. It was….decorated with a lot of pink.

They even had Canadian lobster on the menu! I had this really great dish called Bouchée à la reine. It was chicken with mushrooms in a cream sauce inside this pastry bowl, with fries on the side.  There are always fries! With mayonnaise! So tasty. Did you know that fries were invented in Belgium? The art of double frying them for extra crispy-ness originated in France, but the story goes that fishermen were in the habit of deep-frying their fish right on the boat. One day someone said ‘hey, why don’t we do that with our potatoes?!’ So they did. They realized that what they really like about this process was the crispy-ness of the outside so they thought that if they cut the potato into strips there would be more crispy-ness!  And fries were born. (That is the story as best I can remember from Jean-Go telling me yesterday) After lunch is when we did our tour. I think we spent a little more than 3 hours walking in the rain. We did make lots of stops to take a look at things and we even went into a toy shop to warm up (this was Jean’s idea, I always knew he was just a big kid! ^_^). We saw a basilica that has a wine brewery in the basement and they have tours in October and November (which Jean put his name down for), so that will be neat to see. Jean took us by his university and we ran into this brand new building that looked very out-of-place amongst all the others. Jean was surprised by it because he had never seen it before and it looked quite ugly surrounded by the older buildings. We saw the ‘Arsenal’ which until just after WWII, I believe, was the arsenal for the army and it’s right along the river. Now it’s conference rooms and a university restaurant. We couldn’t go inside because it was closed, but Jean tells me that while it looks old and historical on the outside, on the inside it’s new (like a lot of buildings). Let’s see, what else. Now I’m not sure how correctly I remember all this, but Namur used to be a really fortified city (we didn’t get to go to the citadel, but we will some other time) and it’s on one of the main rivers in Belgium. This river goes all through Belgium, and out to the sea. Where the citadel is, is also where two smaller rivers meet as one, so it was a very important center back in the day.

We also went to a coffee shop and saw the coffee roaster outside. Did you know that before being roasted, coffee beans are green? Neither did I. They pointed out a liquor store (which is unusual, normally you can just by beer and other things in the grocery stores), which specializes in rare alcohol. There was a lot to see, that I don’t even remember all of it! I will definitely go back when my family comes later in the year, so they can see it. Hopefully it won’t be raining and I can get pictures without my camera getting wet!

Now I bet you’re all wondering what a Gâteau des Rois is? It is a very tasty cake that’s what! In Belgium on January 6, they celebrate the Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the three Kings to the Baby Jesus. For more information you can check out this link http://blog.pangea-collection.com/2010/01/06/celebrating-epiphany-with-a-kings-cake/. We were invited to Adeline and Jean-Go’s mother’s house for dinner and cake, but before we that Adeline had already ordered her own from the local bakery (boulangerie). So now we have extra cake! (Which we actually had for breakfast…..yummm). It is cake on the inside and pastry (like pie crust) on the outside. Somewhere in the cake is baked an item (ranging from a bean to a plastic king! *except that plastic would melt, so of course it’s not plastic*) and whoever  gets the piece with the surprise wears a paper crown and is King for the day (or at least of the rest of the night). In Belgium, to make sure that the distribution of cake pieces and possibility of getting the special one is fair, they have a tradition of having the youngest member in attendance go underneath the table and calls out the names of the people around the table. At first Bastien wouldn’t come over so Jean-Go said that I would have to do it! (although they weren’t going to make me climb under the table) But, Bastien came over eventually. He wouldn’t go under the table though, so he just stood next to Adeline and said who should get each piece. Alas, I did not receive the special piece, it was Adeline’s Grandma who did. I would like to get a recipe for making this cake. It was very good! And you don’t even need icing.

January 7, 2011

I hope you all have enjoyed this post and maybe next January when I’m home I can make my own King’s Cake!

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