Friday, September 30, 2011

Feeding Didz

If you know me at all, you know I love to cook. It gives me so much joy to prepare something and share it with the people I love. The hour before dinner is my favorite time of day... I put on some music, I pour myself a glass of wine, pull out all the ingredients I need and start chopping, slicing, and dicing, while sipping (and singing)... I love trying new recipes, always putting my own little twist on them (usually making it spicier). Since coming to Belgium, however, I've been sticking to my tried and true favorites - meals that I can make with my eyes closed with ingredients I can easily find here.

Mushroom Risotto

Going grocery shopping always takes about an hour, requires a bit of guesswork, and has certainly caused some frustrations (I walked around the entire store 5 times looking for eggs last week). And since I haven't learned the Dutch names for meat yet, I've been a little hesitant to buy anything other than chicken.

Linguine with garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil
Even buying fish was tricky - I didn't want salmon (though it was easiest to recognize), and didn't know what the others were. I might as well have eeny-meeny-miney-mo-ed while standing there looking at my options.

Mustard-roasted fish, with pan roasted veggies with thyme 
Today however, is a new day, and I will bravely enter the grocery store and buy ground beef - because Didz wants a hamburger. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dirty Laundry

There's a handful of day-to-day activities that shake the vacation right out of me - and the mundane "real-life" reality kicks in. But around here even reality is foreign, and the user manual is all in Dutch.

 I took my first trip to the wasserette the other day. I'm not going to lie - I was dreading it a little bit. I was worried that all the instructions would be in Dutch, the machines would eat my quarters (er, euros), I would shrink all of Didz's shirts and all our socks would end up pink. I seriously debated hand-washing everything in the sink to avoid going. But part of this adventure involves conquering fears - so I gave my head a shake, reminded myself that I am not the first person in the history of Belgium to go to a laundromat, loaded up my laundry bag with dirty clothes and my pockets with euro change and off I went.... praying the instructions would be written in pictograms.

I picked my machine, loaded up my laundry, added my detergent, picked "warmish" water, and closed the door. Then I stood for a minute (ok, two) trying to figure out how to pay for the darn thing... found the pay station machine on the other side of the room, walked up to it, stood in front of it for a minute (ok, five), pushed just about every button, inserted a variety of coins.... and pushed the green arrow. I turned around, and saw my laundry machine come to life, fill with water, and begin to spin. I admit, I kinda felt like a champ in that moment.... it's the little victories. I sat down, sent Didz a text message telling him his wife's a rockstar, and then I saw this:

Even their vending machines have waffles.... That did it for me. Double victory. Wasserette met wafles.  I could go home happy.  

I just had to figure out how to work the dryers....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome to Leuven

Leuven, Belgium: Home of the "longest bar" in Belgium, Stella Artois beer, and now... us. We're here, we're (almost) settled, and we're looking forward to an incredible year. While Didz has been in class (9-5), I've spent my days exploring, wandering, getting lost (though this town is so small it's impossible to stay lost for long), and turning our little European apartment into a proper "home". It will take some time to feel really settled, and to add all the personal touches that will really transform the space into our own, but as Edward Sharpe sings, "Home is wherever I'm with you...." It's true - we're here on our yearlong honeymoon abroad - and as long as we stick together we're golden. We have our home, we have our happiness, we have our love.

The Old Town Hall

Everyone has a bike. Everyone. 

Oude Markt lined with outdoor cafes and bars
 I'll post photos of our adventures and our travels, our stories and other little tidbits I might want to share - from new recipes I try to the latest street style that turns heads in Belgium.