Monday, January 31, 2011

Happiness lies in a small corner

photo by Lana Joos

I believe this is one of the best pictures I have of you.. I keep looking at it and it warms my heart.. Life hasn't always been easy on you, but you never gave up. Instead, you pulled yourself together and you fought back.

Times are changing. You've started to show some small wrinkles around the eyes and I know they bother you. But you know what? They don't bother me at all. I believe those wrinkles to be wrinkles of joy. I see you laugh. I see you embrace your son and the way you take care of him moves me.. He's a lucky boy, to have you as his mommy. Yes, the two of you are like two hands on a belly. You understand each other with a glimpse and a wink. Sometimes you agree to disagree and that's okay too. Because that's how you teach your son about life.

Have I told you lately that I'm proud of you? I'm proud of the way you stand with both feet on the ground. You have your dreams and you try to chase them. You'll get there, trust yourself. There's a lot more of you to be revealed.

I'm lucky to have you as my sister-in-law. You're a strong and giving person and you're down to earth. Just the way I like it. Just the way you are..

Sunday, January 30, 2011

If the wife's happy, life's happy

Women are a kind of their own. They are funny species. They are different and so not like men. Not meant in a mean way, like they would be better than men, but they are just totally different. Women want to be treated like princesses. They look out for the knight in shining armor. They want a man who treats them with respect and love and dignity. Happy women make happy men, right?

We have two girls. Quite often I wonder what kind of men they will encounter in their lives. Will they love them for who they are? Will they treat them with respect? Will they provide for our daughters and take good care of them? Standards in life are changing. Women no longer stay at home to take care of their families. They have a career of their own, making their own money and having their own wishes. They don't have as much time to spend with their family, as they need to work out at the gym, socialize with their friends and attend work conferences. It's very important then, to have great communication with their spouses, so there's still quality time with the people they love.

Over time, things have changed quite a bit for men. They no longer know what their position in the family is. They are no longer the only money making person in the family. Their wives are not ignorant nor submissive. They have a mind of their own and they want to be equal to their spouses. Don't you think that is confusing to all men out there? They no longer know how to act or what to do or how to define their position in the household. The gap between men and women is getting smaller year after year. I believe that's a good thing. Women shouldn't be holding up their hand to get their allowance or weekly budget. Things have changed. Life has changed. People are still changing..

I still don't know what to think about all of these changes. We won't know about this progress until many years later. Will our daughters be modern women? Will they have a career? Will they get married to a husband who respects their wishes or will they be submissive and do whatever their husbands wants them  to do? I hope our girls will be assertive and able to make up their minds.

Because after all: if the wife's happy, life's happy..

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Excuse me?

Asian influences, I mean. You know: mirin, hoisin, soy sauce, black bean paste, rice vinegar, udon noodles, lemon grass, fish sauce, wasabi.. ?? no?? Never heard of?

I love to cook and discover foreign cuisines. It's exciting to try out products you have never used before. You have no idea what to do with them at first, but then you google the products and you come up with tons of ideas. You eat out in Japanese, Thai or Chinese places and you end up with some more ideas. That's when the experimenting can start. Making sushi is not as easy as it seems, but it's well worth the effort. There are plenty of videos on the Internet to show you how to make a perfect Vietnamese springroll or seared ahi tuna. Dare to try new flavors! It's so exciting to have a burst of flavors in your mouth you have never experienced before.

I believe the Asian cuisine to be very pure. They use fresh produce and interesting seasonings. In fact, their cuisine is lean and low calorie. That is if you omit the sweet & sour sauces and deep fried dishes, of course. But there's always the option to ask for broth poached fish/meat or a fulfilling noodle soup loaded with pea pods, bean sprouts and mushrooms. Don't you just love to dip your sushi into those tiny bowls of soy sauce and wasabi dots? The wasabi makes your nostrils go wild and your eyes burst into tears, but the feeling afterwards is sublime.

Sushi has too many carbs for me, but sashimi and miso soup are true winners! How about a Vietnames spring roll, filled with fresh salmon strips, soft butter lettuce leaves, tender avocado slices, glossy rice noodles and spicy wasabi? Let me wipe off the drool from my chin now, before it drizzles all over my keyboard. I mean it, I need to go out and get inspired some more. Who wants to join me for Japanese food?

Friday, January 28, 2011


Home by Michael Bublé

Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home

Maybe surrounded by
A million people 
I still feel all alone
Still feel all alone
I just wanna go home
Oh I miss you, you know

And I've been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you
Each one a line or two
"I'm fine baby, how are you?"
Well I would send them but I know that it's just not enough
My words were cold and flat
And you deserve more than that

Another aeroplane
Another sunny place
I'm lucky, I know
But I want to go home
MMmm.. I've got to go home

Let me go home
I'm just too far from where you are
I wanna come home

And I feel just like I'm living someone else's life
It's like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right
And I know just why you could not
Come along with me
'Cause this was not your dream
But you always believed in me

Another winter day has come
And gone away
In even Paris and Rome
And  I wanna go home
Let me go home

And I'm surrounded by
A million people
I still feel all alone
Oh let me go home
Oh I miss you, you know

Let me go home
I've had my run
Baby I'm done
I gotta go home
Let me go home
It will all be all right
I'll be home tonight
I'm coming back home

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Is some strange force trying to hurt us?

Sunday night, coming back from our diabetes meeting, I had just dropped off a friend at his place. I headed back towards the highway, when all of a sudden, my car started to shake. I had a real hard time keeping it on the road. An alarm went off in the car, although no lights were showing on the dashboard. I was so happy there were no other cars near me, because I would most certainly have hit one at the time. My heart was pounding and as soon as I had the chance, I parked the car so I could take a deep breath and find out what the problem was. My wheels were still attached to the car and I could not see the problem..

The other day, I told my friend about this incident. He drives the same car. I thought he was kidding, when he told me he had experienced the exact same thing on the exact same evening? Hello??? Now that is freaky!!! The only difference was, that his car didn't give him any alarm signal, as mine did. He thought he had hit a spot of oil on the road. But there was no such thing.

I will mention it to my car shop. It's strange. I no longer feel safe in my car now. Yikes!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Live-abetes instead of Die-abetes

Most of the time, I don't mind having diabetes. Of course it would be better to be diabetes-free, but I can live a pretty good life with D too. Some days, diabetes really sucks. I hate those high numbers. Many D-friends fear low numbers, but I hate hypers. They tire you out and they give you an overall sick feeling. It makes me wanna puke if my numbers are high. I would drink the contents of a full bath tub, go to bed and never wake up again. A couple of years ago, my numbers were often in the 400-600 mg/dl region. That's not where they are supposed to be. Knowing that 70-160 mg/dl is acceptable. I didn't mind back then, to have those outrageous numbers. I was used to them. Going below 250 mg/dl was scary at the time. Now that I'm used to "normal" numbers, those high numbers really freak me out. I have such a hard time to keep my eyes open (okay, the high blood glucose is not the only reason.. thank you for reminding me, I'll have that fixed in the near future). All I want to do then, is give an extra shot of insulin to lower that ridiculously high number, go to bed and be left alone. That's exactly what I did this week, during a visit to my inlaws. I had planned a day out with my mother-in-law and all I could do was lay down on the couch and nap. I know she didn't mind and I know she wanted me to feel better, but I hate it when that happens. I hate to loose control over my body. Because I never intended to sleep in the midst of the day, did I? Giving up control is a part of D I don't like. And sometimes, there's not much choice, because every now and then, D takes over. All you can do, is give in and hope you'll feel better soon. Extra insulin, a lot of water and a good rest solves the problem most of the time. And then we move on. We forget about it. There's no use crying over spilled milk, is there? It's just one of those things about diabetes, we have to accept..

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tell me what it takes

Both our girls have been blessed. They are pretty to look at and they take good care of themselves. Our oldest daughter, Lana, is already wearing braces. Now it's time for Eva to decide whether she wants braces or not. There wasn't too much hesitance: YES! She's been looking forward to paying the orthodontist a visit. We have chosen a different one than the one Lana is frequenting. Since Eva goes to school in Bruges, it would be better for her to have a local orthodontist.

The place is very neat and modern and they use the most modern technologies. The braces are custom made in the US. I don't know how many orthodontists work in that practice, but there were too many white costume wearing people around. We had to be there on a Saturday night. Listening to the numbers of the cost, my head was spinning. The doctor was pointing out her view on dental treatment on a computer screen that was hidden in a mirror wall. It was like going back to the future! We were all pretty impressed, especially about the prices of the treatment.. The icing on the cake, was the gold wire they would place on the inside of the teeth after the last treatment. Just to prevent the teeth from going back to their previous position. A gold wire.. go figure. And no ma'am. Health insurance doesn't refund the cost.. unfortunately.. Hmhmhm.. Health insurance is a little old fashioned. They refund the costs of braces that were made 40 years ago. Technology has changed dramatically since, but they have not adapted their refunding. Will that keep us from giving our children the perfect teeth? Absolutely not. Us parents think a nice mouth is an important feature in our face. The orthodontist gave us pictures of Eva before the treatment. I'm looking forward to the after pictures, a year from now.. That is if we start the treatment this month. We'll see.

Monday, January 24, 2011


The common laptop died.. forever this time. It was close to exploding and a burnt smell entered the room. Time to shut it off and throw it out. What a pain this Packard Hell has been.. I'm glad to get rid of it. It's too bad for the money it has cost us, but there's no use in getting it repaired again.. and again.. and again.

Both girls have new laptops now. They both got a 15 inch HP and they are very happy with it. I'll stick to my Mac for the moment and Hubby can use all three or his iPhone to check the Internet. Let's keep our fingers crossed, this time the laptops will serve a little longer. Life wouldn't be the same without the Internet, I know. The girls need it to sync their music, to keep in touch with their friends and to do some research for school. Nowadays children are almost obligated to have their own computer. If not, they miss out on so much. We do make sure that both girls still have time to visit their friends and have a real life next to their virtual life on the Net.

I'm glad we only have 2 kids, not 5 or 6..

Sunday, January 23, 2011

For free

I have no idea how you guys feel about working as a volunteer, but it has always been an interest of mine. Working as a volunteer can be very satisfying. At a certain point in my life, I have worked a fulltime job as a volunteer in a nursing home. It felt good to go there and be of any help to the elderly. They were so happy to see me and really looked forward to the frequent visits. Many of them never got other visitors, so my visit became more important to them than ever.

Many organisations need volunteers to make things work. Not all organisations have enough funds to run smoothly. That's where you can help out. Have you ever considered it?
I have a friend who regularly walks dogs from the dog shelter. For free. Because she cares. Because otherwise nobody else would walk them. Simply because there's no money to hire people.
I hear about people taking care of severely sick children, so their parents can take a break every now and then. A break they need to remain sane. Someone they can trust with their child, so they don't need to worry. Someone who's not afraid to spend a day around a child whose life is coming to an end. Those people are golden..

Working as a volunteer is different than working for a pay check. It's a different kind of satisfaction. You will go deep, because you may experience emotions you haven't experienced before. There are so many things one can do. You don't need to work as a fulltime volunteer. You might even jump in once a month to help out. Because every set of hands is priceless. Think about it. Consider it. Do it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The road leads back to you

Tomorrow, we're having our annual diabetes meeting in Limburg. I'm thrilled to see my friends again. Some I see more often than others, and this is the perfect opportunity to have a chat and catch up. It was good to hear that a new member of our forum will join us as well. He and his family are very welcome. I hope us chatty women won't scare them..

Diabetes will always be the catalyst in our friendship. It doesn't matter if you're a type 1 or a 1.5 or a type 2. Whether you have an insulin pump, pens or oral medication, you all have diabetes or maybe a member of your family has this chronic disease. It's good to discuss what keeps us busy, but please don't think our meetings are elegies. Absolutely not! We have a wonderful time together and there's so much laughter and joy when we are together.

It might get late. Because that's what happens at diabetes meetings: we loose track of time.. Who cares? We're together and we're friends. There's plenty of food and drinks and we have nowhere else to go. See you all tomorrow!! I'm sorry for those who can't make it this year..

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oops.. I did it again..

Where are you? I miss you! Please come back and cuddle me!

That's what I believe Inthe must have thought when she and Rebba were waiting on the couch for me to get up. They must have got bored or lonely. When I came down, they didn't welcome me at the door. And when they don't, it means they are in trouble.. Again..

The stuffing from the couch was spread all over the floor.. Blankets and pillows were scattered around the room. But worst of all: they had found my glasses... And again, they had been chewing on them. Darn! Those glasses are not even a year old, silly morons! I hope there will be a way to get them fixed. I'm lucky I didn't trash the other set (although they don't look much better since they underwent the same treatment).

Since I'm back from Florida, the dogs don't loose track of me. They follow me around all day. I'm not even safe in the bathroom, because both heads are peeping from behind the door. I love them to pieces and I missed them too, but there's no need to be following me around like a shadow..

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I will be giving my all

She has made her decision: Lana is ready for a student job. She's looking for weekend work and something to do during school holidays. Some extra money comes in handy at any time and she's nearly 16 now. It will give her some extra insight in life as well.
I asked her what she wanted to apply for. She didn't know, she said. Always in doubt, always weighing pros and cons. I have done several jobs as a student. Just 13 and already up and going. I served some time in a launderette, worked as a waitress for several years, raised a bunch of tiger cubs, cleaned restaurants in a theme park, helped out the local baker, took care of children, walked around dressed up as the mascot of that same theme park,.. There are so many different jobs to consider. It's just too bad there aren't as many vacancies... That's why we went downtown to have her enrolled in a bureau where they hire students. They wrote down her co-ordinates and promised her to contact her as soon as they had a vacancy. She's expecting her first call this very same week. I do believe that is a little too optimistic, but we'll see.

I'm proud of my daughter. She's doing real well. She's punctual, hard working, dutiful, reliable and energetic. I'm sure she'll make a great employee. Having some extra money of her own will do her good. She's studying economics and is very aware of the costs of life. No money will be wasted if she's in control. She'll put the extras aside for her future. What a great kid..

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And I need you now

It's been a rough day. I need something to help me relax. Since I don't smoke and I drink no more than 4 glasses of wine a month, I have to pick something else. Music could be relaxing, but I don't feel like listening to music now. Maybe a good cup of Pickwick Starmint tea could do the job. This hot tea is a mixture of anise, fennel, licorice and mint, with a hint of peppermint for a fresh accent. It smells of Morocco and maybe it's the smell of the spices that soothes me? I don't now. But I could surely use a cup right now..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green green!!!

I'm not very good at remembering jokes, but every now and then, jokes are so good I can't but let you people know. How about this one:

A student had English exam and one of the questions was: make a sentence that holds the words: green-pink-yellow. The student had no idea what sentence he could make and he started rubbing his head. Until he came up with the following phrase:

Green green!! I pink up the phone and I say: Yellow??

I thought that was hilarious! It makes me smile every time I think of it.. You too?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Duvet days

Things have gone back to normal. It felt kinda strange to drive Eva to school this morning, after having had a chauffeur for 17 days, but it felt good to be in control again. Around 8:15 AM I was shopping for groceries in my favorite supermarket. The cart was filled with fresh fruit, crispy vegetables, some turkey and chicken, milk and butter so I could get started to make some delicious home cooked food. Our first dinner was an all American meal: Country Captain oven dish. Plenty of chicken, green peppers, raisins, tomatoes, celery and carrots. Guess what: no dessert!!!

I am starting to feel healthy again.. It was good to see though, that my scale still loved me. I have not gained any weight during our stay in Kissimmee, Florida. On the contrary, I have lost 2.5 kg!!  I can chill now..

I'm too tired to budge. I want my duvet and crawl up on the couch with the dogs. It's been a lazy day, after having cleaned up the house and put away the holiday reminders. I want to sleep now.. My throat is still sore and red and there must be some infection there..

Sunday, January 16, 2011

For your safety

America is very clear about the safety of its residents. Wherever you go, you will hear this opening: for your safety, .. Whether you are in Disney, on an airplane or just buying some items, "for your safety" is practically always part of it.

When we were visiting Epcot, security agents searched our backpacks for unwanted objects. They used their flashlights and patted down our bags. Americans are so used to this procedure, that they believe it to be the most normal thing in the world. It gives me a sort of fake feeling of safety. What can they see in ones backpack? Would you really hide a bomb in a backpack, on top of your spare clothes, drinks and snacks? The ones who really want to misbehave, will find some way to do so. It's just something we don't see in our country and I'm not looking forward to a future of this manner. I feel safe. I don't need anyone to search me or pat me down. I don't need a label on the inside of my shirt, to tell me not to iron the shirt while wearing it.

Things will be different again. This afternoon we landed in Schiphol, Holland, ready to head home. We had another 2 hour 15 min drive ahead of us and we had started our journey the day before around 2 PM. It was a long flight and we were exhausted, but it was worth every penny.

The suitcases have been sorted out and the presents have been handed out. The children were extremely happy to see me (they had missed me for 17 days, remember?) and the whippets.. well.. what can I say: they cried with joy. They jumped all over me and their tongue went in overdrive. Little Inthe brought me all of her toys so I could play with her and Rebba wouldn't leave me alone any longer.

There wasn't much to tell my family, since my voice is now sore and harsh. In the coming week, they will hear more and more about my American adventure. I'm looking forward to telling them all about it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Start spreading the news

This is it.. It's time to go home. The suitcases are packed and extra suitcases have been purchased and packed as well. It's been awesome. I have a new favorite American State to pin down on my map of good places to spend your vacation. We have been very fortunate to have that much sun and from now on, the weather can only get even better!

We're going to have our last breakfast at Hoolihan's, right back where we started. It's a good place to terminate our holiday and enjoy a last meal together. As we all know, airplane meals are no biggie and we'll spend some time at the airport before we finally head home. So it's better to have some food in our tummies in advance, while we still can.

The apartment looks kinda deserted now.. The closets are empty, the trash has been thrown out. We have called a cab to pick up the extra suitcases, because they won't fit in the trunk of our car anymore. It'll be a bit more comfortable that way. The girls will be so excited to unpack the suitcases and see the presents I got them. They will want to hear all about this journey, so they can plan our next trip later this year.

By Monday morning, life will have gone back to normal. Hubby will go back to work, the girls will be off to school, and I'll have some special time with the whippets. Time to unpack, to get the laundry sorted out and do some grocery shopping. I'm looking forward to preparing some menus out of my new cookbooks. If there's one thing I have missed in Florida, it must be my fruit and veggies. Now I realize how important healthy food is to me. Not that I have splurged over here, but restaurant food is always different. It's full of hidden ingredients, as I have experienced just the other day. Having ordered a salad of walnut-crusted goat cheese and leaf greens, I expected no carbs but some from the blueberries and the fatfree salad dressing. Will it surprise you that my blood glucose meter gave me a nasty look when it showed an ugly 295 mg/dl after lunch? Knowing it showed me a pretty 61 before lunch? Exactly... hidden sugars in the dressing.. That's why I'm longing for healthy - no additives added - food. Just the pure stuff. I will bake some potatoes in the coming weeks, because I have really enjoyed those cream cheese topped baked potatoes. I'm pretty sure I won't find the same size potatoes, but that's okay, since I eat only a quarter.

Well folks, it's been pleasant. I'm glad I got the opportunity to explore the Orlando area and have a wonderful time with my friends..

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crocodile tears

Florida is the state of the gators. We haven't seen any yet - stuffed ones not included - but we know they are out there. There are signs to warn us. There are puddles, ponds, lakes all over the place and they sure look like they have alligators in them. Crocodiles are not my favorite animals, but they are kinda cool, as long as they remain on their property.

Our vacation is coming to an end. I'm having mixed feelings about that. Kissimmee has been everything we expected and more. It's been a wonderful experience and we have seen so much.
The weather has been good and the locals were friendly. They treated us real well and we have no complaints whatsoever. It is a shame though that my family couldn't be here to enjoy the Florida sun and surroundings. I wanted to share it with them, but it wasn't possible this time. They'll get here, no doubt about that. And in the mean time, I'll tell them all about it and I'll show them the pictures. There are lots of presents in my suitcase for them to pick out. We'll have some special cuddle time I guess..

I might shed some tears. It's been good. It's been fun. I have some more memories to file in my archives. Some good moments to remember..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Let's cook!

I want to cook! Today I have bought 4 new cookbooks and I'm very reluctant to put them down. I started reading the recipes and my head is full of grocery lists and ideas. We're having a wonderful time over here and many would be happy to go out dining all the time. Most meals I've had here have pleased me too and none have given me a bloated tummy. But still, I miss my veggies and a home cooked meal.

Today we visited Epcot, one of the Disney Theme Parks. I had not visited one single Disney park before, so I was pretty excited about this event. Disney is huge! It has its own highways, parking lots, restaurants, .. and it's crowded, even out of season. It took us a while to get to the ticket booth, since every visitor has to hand over his backpacks to be checked. What a waste of time.. It gives people a fake feeling of safety and it makes me laugh. But oh well, if that makes them happy..

Disney tickets are expensive. Very expensive. I will never ever again complain about parking costs in Belgium or theme park tickets at home. Going to one of the Disney parks with a family of four, leaves a big gap in your wallet. Make sure to bring at least $ 550 if you want to grab a drink and a bite as well. Don't enter the souvenir shops and bring your own snacks. The prices are just outrageous.

Epcot is a nice theme park if you like to walk around and sniff the Disney atmosphere. The landscapers did a terrific job and there's plenty to see. Epcot is all about different countries, situated around a huge lake. Take your family along this journey to France, Italy, Morocco, China, Japan, Norway and of course the US. We had lunch at this authentic French restaurant where even the waiters were French. And yes, we ran in to some Disney characters and took their pictures. It was nice to hear Mary Poppins's British accent and The Beauty and the Beast were very charming. The best attraction was Soarin'. It is a multi-sensory attraction that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over the Golden State of California.
The multi-passenger glider is lifted 40 feet into the air. An IMAX projection dome wraps 180° around you, so you're fully engulfed by the impressive scenery. It really feels like you're flying as you glide over such awesome vistas and landmarks.
Feel the wind in your hair, while the air fills with the scent of orange groves, evergreens and the sea breeze. You may think your feet will get wet when you dip down so close to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, before you return to the sky to continue your hang-glider ride.

We did some more shopping after our visit to Epcot. There are so many shops to discover and so many fun treats to lay our hands on. Today was a cold day and I got myself a pair of woolwarm boots to pamper my feet. I got some more presents for the people left behind in Belgium.

We crashed at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse to have a satisfying dinner. We thought being inside could warm us up a little, but air-conditioning thought differently. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our meals and the company, before we went back to the apartment to pack out our goodies and have another chat before we hit the hay..

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy as a Hippo

Did you know that one can be ecstatic about experiencing a hypoglycaemia? Yesterday, my sugar levels were out of range for the whole day and I hate it when that happens. I felt like crap. My throat was so dry it was like having eaten a bag of marshmallows (not that I have any clue what that feels like, but I suppose it must be in that area) that got stuck halfway my throat. No water could quench my thirst (I didn't want to run to the restroom 10 times a day either) and my legs felt so heavy I didn't want to make one more step. Just imagine being in the mall and having no energy to enter a shop??
So in the middle of the night, I was cheering for that 52 mg/dl on my glucose meter. Yes! Back to normal! I enjoyed my little bag of Cinnamon Goldfish before I went back to bed.. to wake up a couple of hours later with more normal readings.

As I had said earlier: we went to Daytona Beach. Before our little conference we had to attend, we had breakfast at the local diner called Rossi's Diner. What a neat place! Friendly staff, wide range of choice and fast but home cooked meals. Did you ever have a fulfilling breakfast of corned beef hash, home baked fries, silver dollar pancakes, cheese omelette, Southern grits, sliced tomatoes, English buttered muffins, eggs sunny side up and toast? I didn't think so.. But it was darn Good with a capital G.

We were a little disappointed about our visit to the shore. It wasn't what we had expected. Maybe we have become too demanding? Of course it's out of season and it was windy and cloudy, but nevertheless, the streets were empty and deserted. We didn't sob too long over it and made a U-turn to head for new horizons.

We ended up in Orlando where we enjoyed a great All American lunch at Johnny Rockets. It was an item on our to do list and I'm happy we visited the place. This is fast food at its best: a good bowl of home made chili with melted cheese and diced onion, vanilla milkshake, toasted tuna sandwich, American fries and a ketchup happy face. Johnny Rockets rocks!

We have so many more outings planned and we're running out of time.. I would love to stay another week, but I don't think my family at home nor the budget would appreciate that. But like Arnold Schwarzenegger would say: I'll be back! it won't be too long before we come back. Now we have a reason to visit Florida more often!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I don't like Mondays

I honestly believe that many people dread Mondays. I'm not one of them. I like Mondays. I like the first day of the week to be a fresh start. When everyone is back on their way to school or work, I get to organize around the house, run some errands and relax.

Today is going to be a good and pleasant Monday as well, although I'm not home. We're going to Daytona Beach! Did you hear me? Daytona Beach!! Aaarrgghh! That's going to be fudging awesome! The weather forecast made us happy as well and there's lots to do around the area. We have some formalities to fill out while we're there, but for the rest of the day, we'll be strolling around town and digging our toes in the sand.

It's a one hour and a half drive from where we are staying, but over here, distance is no issue. Roads are pleasant to drive on, traffic is chill and we're together. We enjoy ourselves wherever we are, don't we? Maybe we should have a sing-a-long in the car? Our friend is driving and we have a GPS, so there's no real need to pay attention to the road. We're lucky to have a careful driver who is very happy to bring us wherever we want to be.

I'd better start looking for a summer outfit, to fit in on Daytona Beach!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

La famiglia

The sun is out. It's warming our hearts and minds. Catching some warmth on the front deck, I'm thinking over the past days. We have done quite some outings by now and they were nothing but pleasant. Yesterday we strolled around a local flea market and that was fun! It's real life, not some tourist attraction. Just don't ask what we bought or must I say: what I bought. You really do not want to know..

This afternoon we're going to church. Yes, you heard me: to CHURCH! Not to attend some kind of service, but to have a gospel brunch in Downtown Disney. It's not really a church, it's called The House of Blues, but it's kinda like attending Sunday's Mass. Praise the Lord! Curious Georgette can't wait to find out what that's going to be like. I'm always open to new things and this sounds like a good plan to me.

Old Town is a must do if you are over here. It's not far from the apartment and there's a special atmosphere walking around the funfair. People were bungee jumping, eating cotton candy and candied apples or having a beer or two. There was a parade of old-timer cars and they were extraordinary. Don't be surprised to run into Elvis look-a-likes!

Being here, is like being with family. Enjoying each other and having a great time. There aren't any disputes or unhappy faces. Nothing but good times. It could be the sun or the time spent abroad, but maybe it's just because we bond well?

Friday, January 7, 2011

You ain't seen nothing yet

There's so much to see around here. We won't be here long enough to do whatever we would like to do. But so far I'm happy with every outing we do. We have so much fun! We are trying to get the most of everything, tasting a bit of this and that. This afternoon, we decided to pop in at Universal Studios. What a great idea that was! The place was not too packed but still crowded. It gave me a good idea of what to expect when I come back in August with my family.

Lunch at Cracker Barrel, Davenport was a joy! It's a fun place to go to and it's worth the visit. It's another restaurant on my list now. Staff was real friendly and helpful and they have a great store in front. Maybe we'll go back there some day to have breakfast. We took the menu home to check it out. Another restaurant on our list is Panda Express. They are all over the States and we have seen their logo everywhere. Now we only have to decide on the location we want to visit. We'll get there. I got the advise to try the Orange Chicken. Sounds like a plan to me!

Tomorrow, we're going to attend a flea market in the morning. I'm really looking forward to that. It'll be a fun pastime. Late afternoon is reserved for Old Town, near to Kissimmee.
We're going to have a gospel brunch on Sunday. I'd better hit the hay, so I'm rested for all these fun events!

I need a moment..

I'm sitting on my bed in my room in Kissimmee, Florida, indulging the sounds from my "new" household of friends. Mrs T is sitting on the deck at 10 AM, blowdrying her locks and enjoying the sunbeams. It's January!!! I mean, really, I'm wearing T-shirts and the sun is warming my face while typing this blog! One of the friends is relaxing in the living area, another one is rinsing off the fatigue of yesterday in the shower and the third friend is checking the schedule so we can enjoy another day.

I need a moment to think things over. To absorb all the new impressions and relive the memories of the previous days. I feel so blessed to be here. Never would I have thought this would happen to me. I have always had a good feeling about the US and it was my dream to come back here one day. I have gone back to Massachusetts before and to Oregon, but this time it's different. It's like coming home.. I really like Florida. People are friendly, the weather is good, there's so much to do. I can hear this man mow the lawn and the racoons have their parties at night, investigating leftovers in the bins and tasting whatever they feel like having. Getting our groceries at Super Target is like being at home. Opening our fridge and finding goodies to enjoy a little snack, is comforting.
I have this crazy feeling this place could become my second home..

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cash to splash

I still can't believe we are actually in Kissimmee, Florida. What a joy! It's been quite a journey, but we're here and we're online. There's a router in our apartment now so we have free access to the Internet. It's always nice to keep in touch with you people at home and by checking my analytics, I can tell you have been waiting for some news. Well, let's give you an update.

Kissimmee is awesome! That's not what we can say about Orlando airport, where 80 yo ladies are being tested on drugs and patted down. We were glad to get out of there and pick up the huge rental car. Just the right size to stack in our luggage (I have no idea how many rides we're going to take back to the airport after all of our shopping trips) and make safe trips to wherever our driver takes us.

We were tired when we arrived at the apartment, but still in doubt whether we would start doing some shopping or not. I love the US! No need to worry if the shops will still be open. They are always open!
Can you believe we went grocery shopping at Walmart? We were joking about getting one shopping cart each, but in the end, that's what we did. The place is huge and we came two eyes short to see it all. There are just way too many shops around here. I was told there's a great supermarket called Publix. We'll have to check it out, as soon as we leave Super Target.

You may be sure: we won't have time to go hungry. Romano's Macaroni Grill is a great place to enjoy an excellent meal and Hoolihan's was a pleasure too! But there are so many places we want to spend money on.

There's a great mall called Winter Garden Village you can compare to Maasmechelen, but better. Oh my gosh... thanks Visa and Mastercard, for allowing us to splash some cash!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Totally irrelevant

I think I'm going to order myself another T-shirt, saying: Yes, I'm allowed to have sugar!

In 1994, there was a new understanding on how diabetes should be treated. Scientists figured out that all carbohydrates eaten become glucose in our body. That same body doesn't make any difference in the source those carbs come from. So whether the carbs come from candy, bread, rice, potatoes or fruit: it all turns into glucose in our body after all. So yes: diabetics CAN have sugar. The trick is to make sure you know how to count your carbs. Take a class, buy yourself a book or surf around the Internet. You will find plenty of information on how to count carbs.

If you're overweight, you have to be more careful on your carb intake. Work out a plan with a certain daily amount of carbs you want to stick to. Replace some carbs by other if you want to have a treat. But please, don't forget to live. Life is too sweet..


Photo by Lana Joos

what do we need:

100 grams of shortening
100 grams of light brown sugar
30 grams of honey
80 grams of flour
50 grams of almond slivers
30 grams of candied lemon zeste
1 bar of dark chocolate

what to we do:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Melt the shortening with the sugar and the honey until no sugar crystals are left to be seen.
Mix the melted shortening with the flour, almonds and lemon zeste.
Spoon 20 florentines on a silicone baking mat.
Bake the cookies for 12 min or until golden. They will crisp up some more after cooling down.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium heat. Dip the bottoms of the florentines in that melted divine mass and let them dry upside down on a piece of baking paper.
Keep the florentines in a tin. That is if you can keep from having them right away.


If you wish, you may add some finely chopped dried apricots or cranberries, to give some extra taste. You will end up with a slightly thicker cookies (I won't look lacy), but they are full of flavor!

Skinny jeans

You must have seen them: skinny jeans.. They were hot in our days. I mean, like 25 years ago. And they are hot again, so I see in the shops. The girls love skinny jeans. They don't look good on many bodies, but few people can get away with it. I mean, storks, herons, Twiggy, .. If your legs are normal size or bigger, you are not fitted to try on skinny jeans. Really. They show everything!!! Or you need long boots to cover your calves, but then what's the use of the skinny jeans? I'm sure they come in handy if you want them tucked into your boots, but otherwise? They're not my cup of tea..

Monday, January 3, 2011

An eye opener

My eyes are causing me problems. It's like the eyelids are dropping and covering half of my eye balls. It is so annoying and my eyes feel tired all the time. I have to force myself to keep my eyes open although I would like to keep them closed at all times. It's like having to dilate my eyes like when you would have to put eye drops in them.

Maybe it's time to contact my GP and see what he can do. It would be great if he could forward me to an adept surgeon I can trust my eyes to. I hear the operation is not such a big deal. It doesn't scare me either. I feel the need to have it done, because it's really annoying not to see well. I keep cleaning my glasses and my make up runs all the time.

2011 would be a great year to have this "maintenance". We'll see.

Till I hear you sing

Nat King Cole, Nina Simone, Dean Martin! Wasn't that Helen Shapiro? I'm sure Il Divo sang that song too! No, no!! that was not Eartha Kitt. Did I recognize Celine Dion's golden voice?

That music contest was such a fun idea! There are so many good songs to discover and I have the feeling I might need to get an iPod. We don't need to go to a Karaoke bar to enjoy ourselves. We have our own repertoire and artists to listen to. It was kinda like playing Buzz. And I was busted.. Because I couldn't give that many good answers. My friends beat me. Their memory must have multiple music archives I have been missing out on.

Amstelveen was worth the visit. Only a 10 min drive from the hotel, but a good opportunity to prepare ourselves for Florida. Plenty of shops and good company. We needed some little extras to survive 3 extra days, right? I'm longing for some sun though. Holland is still cold and rainy, although a narrow sunbeam surprised us every now and then. Thank goodness for indoor malls..

I'm looking forward to another healthy breakfast: fresh pineapple to cleanse our bodies, some yogurt, fresh ham and beans on toast. And yes: Latte Macchiato!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Que vas tu faire sans moi?

I was told your intestines rumble. It was not a nice sound. You were feeling pretty uncomfortable. Every time you're in a stressful situation, your intestines get upset. You give me an accusatory glance and I look back at you and nod my head. It's not fair. Don't do that. We have a life too, you know. There's no need to make us feel bad. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. It's not the end of the world, okay? It's not like we dump you somewhere and forget about you. You're not even home alone, you're in good hands, so relax Rebba. There's no need to worry. I'll be home before you know it..


Great things in small packages

Happiness is not about money. It's not about expensive gifts or extravagant ideas. Happiness to me, is all about the small things in life. Don't always look for the biggest box. You might be extremely disappointed being handed out the biggest box. Maybe it's good every now and then to settle for the smaller box. Who says bigger is better?

Happiness is not about wealth or a luxurious life. It comes in handy, that I won't deny. But have you ever felt the warmth within your inner self, when someone has worked to the bone, to do whatever was in his possibilities to make you feel good? That's an example of happiness that lasts a whole lot longer than a diamond on your finger. Life is about the little things. The small gestures. The guiding hand on your back, the twinkle in the eye, the soft tone of a reassuring voice. A chair being pulled back to make you sit down as a lady. Someone who makes others step back to let a lady get on the bus before the crowd rushes to get the best seats. A friendly word of a salesman who works in a busy diner at the airport. The extra steps a hotel receptionist makes to come tell you your room has been cleaned for you.

I'm a lucky girl. You know why? I have experienced so many great things in small packages in such a short amount of time, that it warms my heart. I truly feel blessed and moved to be able to see the good things in life and forget about the things that could annoy us. Life is so much easier if you try to see the bright side. To any unfortunate situation, there's another side to discover. It is up to us to find that other side and make the best of it..

That's what I wish for all of you in 2011: great things in small packages.. Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


We were supposed to be in Orlando by now. Fate has decided otherwise. We are still in Amsterdam, near the airport. We were all up and ready to check in at the airport, when a crowd of people waiting in line overwhelmed us. We stayed calm, did whatever what was asked of us (checking in your own passport and printing the tickets is part of the deal now) and waited in line. And waited.. and waited. Some people in front were holding up the line, because one had some stupid bird cage to check in. It felt like ages before he finally checked in. By the time it was our turn, the clock had been ticking away too many quarters of hours. We took a sigh, put the luggage on the transporter and handed over the boarding passes. To hear this awful ominous message: I'm sorry, your flight has been closed.. Hello??? What do you mean, our flight has been closed?? Twenty minutes before closing time and almost an hour before the plane was about to take off, the flight had been closed??

We couldn't believe what we were being told.. We were given several options:
  • you forget about the whole thing and you go home
  • you book a flight to Dublin without any sight on a connecting flight to Orlando and no place to stay in the meantime
  • you check with your airlines to rebook your flight some other day
  • or you check with some other airlines to book a new flight at your own expense
We were a bit confused to say the least. Our friends have put so much effort, time and energy in planning this whole trip, I really felt bad for them. They are so peculiar about getting everything organized and then..

But hey, did you really think we were going to cancel our vacation? Absolutely not! We pulled ourselves together, rolled up the sleeves and thought things over. Our best option was to rebook our flight with the same airlines. Meaning we couldn't leave earlier than January 4th. Okay, that was not the best offer and certainly not the plan, but it was the only acceptable offer.

The shuttle brought us back to the hotel and we decided to extend our vacation. Meaning we'll get to spend 3 extra days in Amsterdam! And that's not such a bad deal, is it? After all, Amsterdam is not Timbuktu, is it? We won't shorten our vacation either. We'll stay in Florida a little longer than planned. You won't hear me cry about it. Instead of a 12 day vacation, we'll have a 15 day vacation! More time to enjoy each other's company. So yes, I'm a happy girl!

We have a plane to catch!

This is it! Move out of the way you guys, we have a plane to catch!! I'm so excited I'm nearly falling apart. For two months, I have been looking forward to this journey and now it's become reality. My new passport in one hand, the ticket to Orlando, Florida in the other hand, I'm ready to order a Latte Macchiato before we head off to customs.

I'm thinking back of my first trip to the US, so many years ago. I was young, naïve, adventurous and had no money in my pocket. Things have changed a bit over the years, but some things will never change. I will always be an adventurer and travelling will be a hobby that lasts forever. There are quite some states I have visited already: Oregon, Washington State, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois. And now I can add Florida to that list. Not bad huh? I can say I have visited more states within the US as I have seen countries within Europe!

I really have to go now.. I'll miss you peeps and pets at home, but I'll have so much energy when I return!