Sunday, December 30, 2012

The first kiss..

It's been a while. Let's say, it's been a long, long time ago. That first kiss. So important, so frightening, so grown up. I had been longing for that kiss, dreaming about it. Who would be the first  one to kiss me? What would it feel like? What was I supposed to do? I read about it in the teen magazines and I would close my eyes in bed and imagine what it would feel like..

He was older than me. I think he must have been my sister's age. I only remember his first name and that he was blond and tall. I didn't even fancy him. But he gave me my first grown up kiss. He had been drinking. The only thing I could think of was: I hate the smell of beer.. His tongue touched mine. I had never realized how big a tongue could be. How intimidating it could feel. That first kiss wasn't special. It was not a kiss to remember, although I never forgot. But it meant I entered a completely new world: the world of the kissers! Finally I knew how to kiss and nothing could stop me from finding another boy, who didn't drink beer and who wasn't that tall that my neck hurt reaching for his lips.

It feels strange to go back in time and recapitulate. I let former boyfriends pass my mind and I try to remember their kisses. Did you ever keep notes on boyfriends? You know, like giving them scores and stuff? I did!!! I honestly did!!! It was hilarious to say the least. I would rate them on kissing, appearance, .. I kept that notebook for quite a long time. When a friend in Portland, Oregon laughed at my notebook, I thought it was time to let go. I wish I could scroll through that book again, to refresh my memory and see if reading about those boyfriends would bring back memories. It would help me understand my daughters I guess...

I'm no longer 14. Being 41 is somehow different. You have passed the stage of discovering new things. But I believe one is never too old to kiss. Kissing is wonderful and very intimate. It's like going back to basics and being completely in love again. I love being in love. I love to kiss.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


You must have seen them in the supermarket. You know, those "fake" sausages and "veggie" burgers. I still don't get it, why vegetarians want their greens to look like meat. If they really don't want to eat meat, then why do they want the substitute to resemble it? To me, it is such a disappointment. Although I am not a meat eater, I can appreciate a chipolata like sausage on the BBQ. But what if that sausage doesn't taste like the real thing??? You expect the juicy taste of pork and you get nothing but badly seasoned cardboard?

Isn't it the same with alcohol? Ever tried non-alcoholic beer (I haven't, but I don't drink the real deal either)? Why would you want to replace beer by non-alcoholic beer? You only fool yourself, don't you? If you want it to taste like beer: have the real stuff. If you want to quit drinking beer, drink something that doesn't even come close to the taste. Otherwise you keep tempting yourself, I would think.

Now how about fake cigarettes? The commercials on TV make us believe that there is no problem switching to fake cigarettes if you want to quit smoking. You can even smoke these cigarettes in the house, because they don't smell like cigs. The (grand)children will no longer hate you or wave the polluted air out of their face if you smoke in front of them. Does that make smoking more acceptable? Or is it another form of disillusion?

Would there be a substitute for insulin? If there would be one, I wouldn't want it to be fluid. I would want it to be crunchy, carb-free, tasty and well seasoned..

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is that alright with you?

If you are lucky, you have a parent-partner to discuss all of the children-issues with. It is important to be consequent when raising children. It is also important to have a broad mind and let others state their values. Your method could be as effective as mine or the other way around, or maybe there might be a third method that both parents can agree on. As long as there is room for discussion and consideration. We don't always have to agree, but it would be helpful if we could work something out between us, before the children come in. Raising children is not easy. Having teens in the house is a challenge. We'll get there, I just know we will. It will take some more discussion and we may need to listen to each other without interrupting the other so we can make ourselves understood. Children need freedom, to a certain extend, so they can learn and experience life. They do need some guidance as well, because some consequences of their actions are too hard to understand at such a young age. Sometimes children need to be protected from themselves.
Maybe I need to let go of the reins every now and then. Maybe you need to pull the strings every once in a while. I don't want to be the bad guy at all times. You can't be Santa every day.. The girls won't stop loving us for not getting all that they want.. We will always love them. That is the best present ever.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Clutter causes stress

Admit it: clutter causes stress... I'm not much of a housewife when it comes to cleaning the house (like in mopping the floors, cleaning windows, vacuuming, ..) although I really like a clean house. To me, it is important to have a clutter free house. There is always clutter in a family house. If everyone would pick up after themselves, it would save a lot of time cleaning up. There are some helpful tips to keep the house tidied up and to get rid of the stress that comes with clutter.

  • Keep a basket handy at all times. Whenever you go around the house, bring your basket along and gather all the clutter. Give every person in the household their own cabinet (we have these cabinets under the stairs). Put the clutter in the right cabinet and let your beloved ones sort out their own clutter once a week. Whenever they are missing something, they will know where to look.
  • Keep a box for missing socks. It happens all the time. Keep them all in one box and go through this box every now and then to match pairs. It also works for gloves.
  • Have a box that says: Dressmaker. Whenever you find an item that needs sewing up or repairing, put it in this box with a little note stuck to it that says what it needs done.
  • Make your bed as soon as you get up. Coming into a bedroom with an untidy bed, always make the room look like crap. And don't we all love a well made up bed when we are ready to go sleep? Change your bed linen every other week for wonderful night times.
  • Hang up any wet towels right after showering. It keeps the bathroom clean and it gives the towels the opportunity to dry. Open the bathroom window at the same time, to let fresh air come in and let the fog on the mirror drift away.
  • Put away your coat, gloves, umbrella, shoes, .. when you are still in the hallway. What makes you think coats should be hung on a chair in the dining room if there are clothes hangers in the wardrobe?
  • We have tons of blankets to have that cozy feeling sitting on the couch at night. It's easy to fold them and put them away when you go to bed..
  • Whenever you go to the kitchen, bring something that was left on the coffee table, like empty glasses, yogurt containers, spoons,.. Don't just put them in the sink. We do have a dishwasher and a bin.
  • Fill up the dishwasher while you are cooking, so the sink is not loaded once dinner is over. (that's my job for the upcoming weeks - I know I make a terrible mess in the kitchen when I cook)
  • Take of your clothes near the hamper. It's easier to put them right where they belong, so the laundry gets done in time.
  • Put away freshly ironed clothes. It's wonderful to open your wardrobe and see everything is cleaned up and tidy.
  • Do small favors for other people in the house, without expecting anything in return. It makes life so much easier.
  • Put a new bin liner in the bin when you take out the trash. Don't forget to pick up any dropped items.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ready or not

The soft sound of Enya was playing in the dimly lit room. Not one chair was empty. I heard people sob and every now and then I could hear someone blow their nose. The chairs were lined up in half a circle. Every chair had a white rose, tied to the back of the chair with white silk ribbons. In the middle of the circle, on a high table, there was a small white coffin. The matte sheen of the wood seemed serene, just like the people present. The coffin was open all the way. It had satin upholstery and on the satin pillow, decorated with white little roses, rested the head of a beautiful young girl. Her black shiny hair was combed to perfection. Her hairpin with the little black and white flower kept the strands of hair from covering up her eyes. Her eyelids were closed, showing her perfect thick and long lashes. Like delicate porcelain, her skin was pale and spotless. I recognized her favorite black dress, with the fine patent leather belt around the waist, the skirt wide and fluffy. Her legs hidden in black tights, just like she always wore them. Her little feet, kept warm in the shiny black patent leather slippers, that looked just like doll shoes. I didn't see her pacifier.. she cannot sleep without her pacifier, I mumbled. Nobody heard me. Maybe I didn't even say it out loud. I remember how tiny her hands were in mine, when she would sit in my lap for her afternoon nap. I would hold her hands together under the blanket, her head resting in my neck, her legs bent and the soles of her feet touching each other. I took another glance at the little Princess. She looked so fragile, so delicate and at the same time so peaceful..  But didn't she always look like this? She was like a beautiful doll.. 

I'm not ready for this. Not yet. It was nothing but a bad dream. I will see her on Thursday. She's okay. She has a chronic disease, I know. She won't grow old, I know. She gets seizures and pneumonia and she has troubles breathing and swallowing. I know. But she's still there. And I will take care of her whenever I get the chance to. Because there is so much left for her to teach me..

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Like-minded souls

Not even 6 months ago, a mutual friend introduced us on Facebook. What started out as small talk, turned into a friendship that neither one of us had expected. So many similarities, so many mutual hobbies. Today, we met for the first time in real life. It never crossed my mind that this moment would actually occur. Overall, she lives in the Northern part of Holland, about 400 km from our little village. It is a long drive, but since part of his family lives over here, they do visit our region 4 times a year.

It was a joy to have them over today. It was like seeing a long lost friend. It was like she took the words right out of my mouth. She would say something at the exact same moment as I was thinking it. Creepy huh! We wanted to surprise each other with home made goodies (she's a foodie too - what did you think). Can you believe we made the exact same chocolate pistachio fudge by Nigella Lawson??? Unbelievable.. of course her version will be different from mine, even though the recipe was the same. You can never make the same recipe twice. Every cook has his own touch and we all interpret recipes in our own particular way. But I'm sure I will love her fudge. I already tried the fig chutney she brought and I'm looking forward to the home made chili jam. What a lovely thing to do!

I think we would sit in each other's kitchen pretty often if that 400 km distance wasn't in the picture. It's great to have someone to talk to in English and to share so many things. Thanks for coming over! Although I wasn't feeling well, I loved having the two of you. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What are you doing this for?

Sometimes I get really irritated. To others, for no reason. To me, for many reasons. Maybe I cannot always point out the reasons, but they are there. Having a household of 4 people, 2 dogs and a cat (I'm not mentioning the fish, the turtles, the chickens - I guess I just mentioned them nevertheless), there are always a lot of chores to be done. A three story house and a large garden need maintenance if you want to keep it clean and tidy. We all have a role in it. I'm so lucky to have a husband who is helping out as much as possible. He takes a big part of the housekeeping on his shoulders. So many things need to be done around the house and the TO DO LIST is growing by the day.. I don't know when all of the chores will come to an end, because things keep piling up. I promised myself I would have some more time to myself, but it's not working. the ME TIME LIST got lost somewhere..
I keep adding things to the To Do List and the list is getting longer day by day. I can cross off some things, but new things get added faster than I can cross them off. I'm irritated. I AM IRRITATED! I.A.M.I.R.R.I.T.A.T.E.D. !

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Aid

No, don't worry. No ambulances or doctors involved this time...

Today, while I was driving my oldest daughter to school, we had this talk about medication. I don't remember how we got to this subject, but it reminded me of my childhood. In the pantry, there was a First Aid cabinet. Of course, we were not supposed to open the door to that cabinet without supervision, but we knew some things in there were pure fun. There was a jar, filled with black powder. That powder was called Norit and it was nothing else but activated carbon. It was there in case one of us had a mild form of diarrhea or some kind of poisoning. The fun thing about Norit was, that if you ate a spoonful of the carbon, your mouth, tongue and teeth would turn black in a jiffy. It had a strange taste to it and I can't say it tasted bad or good. It just tasted different and it looked very appealing. There was no chance our mother wouldn't find out, because of the black traces the powder would leave behind..
There was something else I really liked.. children's aspirin. The small pink tablet would melt in your mouth. It tasted sooo good! I don't recall the brand of the aspirin but I do remember the taste. I would easily eat a full strip of aspirin, just for the fun of it. I guess I didn't have much of a fever..

This is the end

It's the end of the world and we know it..

Are you still there? Or have you taken your rescue boat to escape from the end of the world? Then where are you headed to? Let me know, so I can come visit you wherever you may be..

This story is not so absurd. Lately we have seen different documentaries on preppers, getting ready to defeat the odds. They are convinced this world is coming to an end on Dec 21 2012. They have been preparing themselves for this drama for several years. I wonder if they did anything else in those last years, besides collecting 22.000 kg of food or enough arms to provide an entire group of soldiers. Did they have fun getting ready? Or were they really depressed about the upcoming ordeal?

Just assume the end is really coming. Just assume you have no more than 2 days before THE END. What would you do? How would you spend those days and especially: who would you spend them with? Is there something you wouldn't want to miss out on or are you okay with the life you have been living so far? Have you lived your life to the fullest or do you have the feeling your life hasn't started yet?

Why not live every day as it is our last one on this planet? We never know what lays ahead of us. There's not much we can do to alter the future. But we can decide what we will do today. Love the people around you and make sure they feel your love. Surround yourself with positivism and enjoy every moment we have on Earth. Life can be short. Embrace life and be thankful for what you have. Don't take life for granted..

Sunday, December 16, 2012

7 days in a week

Cracking my mind over the perfect Christmas gift for a 13 year old cousin, I was thinking about my own childhood and how things have changed over the years. Kids no longer play Twister on the floor in the kitchen or stick their tongue between their teeth while making their best drawing ever in their Moleskine sketchbook. Contemporary children look at you in a very strange way if you give them a CD or knitted gloves for those cold winter days. Times have changed and so have the presents. It's not real easy to make a child happy if you don't want to buy them the 34th playstation game or give them an envelope with paper money (I hate money envelopes - nothing personal about giving money). But then what do you give them?

Do you remember the panties, printed with the days of the week? There were 7 of them..  (this child probably lost one.. what a tragic moment). Each one had a different color and image and of course every single one said what day of the week you had to wear it. I loved those panties! They were awesome! I remember my set of Holly Hobby underwear and how difficult the day started if I couldn't find the matching pair of knickers. You just couldn't wear your Thursday panties on a Monday! That was simply not done. The knickers would come in a plastic see through package, with a snap button in the middle. You could see all knickers were sitting next to each other, showing the days in the exact order. I'm pretty sure my sister had a similar package of knickers, probably with other images. I don't recall this kind of underwear existed for boys? I could be wrong though..

Anyway, back to the subject.. I still haven't found the perfect present for the 13 yo old, let stand the 12 yo boy. I know they would rather have money, but hey, I'm not giving in! I will find that one present they have been longing for (without being aware of that craving). Maybe I need to do some shopping tomorrow. I don't mind you helping out though..

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's so not me

Why are so many people so in to Christmas? I can't wait for the holiday season to be over. I really don't like December. It's a dark and cold month and there is too much fake activity going on. People are too friendly to each other this time of the year. More friendly than they would be in March or September. Why? Because it is expected of them? Because they want to belong to a group of other Christmas lovers? I don't know.. I guess I don't get it.

First there is the inevitable Christmas tree.. You just have to have a Christmas tree. Preferably the real thing. The kind that has needles that poke you, that get stuck in the carpet. Okay, real trees bring a nice smell to the house, that's correct, but that scent doesn't last long. Yes, fake trees can be real ugly, but there are real nice ones too. We have had too many pines in the house, that ended up in the backyard. Hubby would dig a hole in the backyard to put in the tree, once January appeared on the calendar (thank you!). The idea was, to use that same tree year after year (which we obviously never did..). Hubby wasn't very happy when he heard I mulched his Christmas trees, one by one (and yes, I truly enjoyed that! - evil me). So for a couple of years now, we have a real, fake tree!

Let's talk Christmas decoration. Where did we put it? What did the tree look like last year? Can we decorate it in the same way or should we get brandnew decoration? I prefer the last (just because I like to shop and maybe because I'm too lazy to go find the Christmas decoration box). Black, ivory white. Some shiny, some with a matte finish. I like it. Even though I'm not a Christmas junkie, I like the decoration we bought..

Christmas lights. AAAaaargghhhh! Exactly! The pain of every household! Have you ever tried to unravel wound up Christmas lights? You can't! Period! No matter how well you store it, they always seem to get tangled in the box, waiting for you to open the lid and laugh at you! So we bought new lights last year. Led-lights, of course. They don't get tangled. I don't know why. And I don't expect any explanation or reason.

Presents. Of course I like presents! Hello??? Are you out of your mind? Why would I NOT like presents? Give me one good reason? Picking out the right presents, is difficult. It's a challenge too. I always run out of time and inspiration. I would love a basket full of small presents in front of the tree, but it's never the case. We shake the presents, listen to the sound they make, in a desperate attempt to find out what's hiding inside. I check our bank account, to see what shops have been visited. I blackmail the girls, to find out more. But mostly, Hubby spills the beans and before he knows, he blurs out what he got me..

I admit.. The Christmas tree looks wonderful this year. It looked wonderful last year. And the year before. It's not my merit. I didn't do anything but buy the decoration. So the credit is all the children's. Merry Christmas to all of you. Don't expect any Christmas cards, because I won't send any. I don't like Christmas, remember? Unless you send me a card first...

Photo Lana Joos

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy as a clam

I don't know how it happened, but I was surfing on the Internet and ran into this awesome food blog. I couldn't focus on anything else. This was the best food blog ever! The chef calls herself Pioneer Woman and refers to her husband as The Marlboro Man (although he doesn't smoke but has a rough edge to him). They raise 4 little punks at their home in the American country. I just had to open each one of her recipes and couldn't do anything else but pause and make some of her recipes. I know what will keep me going in the next couple of days.

A dish full of pots de crème are setting in the fridge. They will look at me tomorrow morning and beg for some whipped cream to finish them off. I know I won't have any myself (okay, that one heaping spoonful is just not a portion so it's to be neglected) but there are enough volunteers around here who will happily dig in.

As I am making my own food blog, I am more than happy to try out some of Ree Drummond's recipes and share them with you.

There is something about the way Ree describes her recipes. It's like you are in the same kitchen, sitting at her counter and hearing her out. Her descriptions are so, so, well.. I can't find the right word for it. Just try and read some of her recipes and you will understand what I mean. She sure made my eyes sparkle, my heart pound faster and my fingers itch to race to that kitchen (in reality: shove that notebook from my lap, push myself up from the couch while dropping the blanket on the floor and stumble towards the kitchen that is so not cleaned up)..

Ree Drummond: you rock! I'm happy to have found you. Sorry Nigella... I have to let go of you.. My first copy of a Pioneer Woman cook book is being shipped to Belgium right at this instance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kiss me goodbye

This morning, around 5:20 AM, our car was packed with suitcases and bags. Three beautiful young ladies were sitting in the backseat, very quiet and somehow sad. Hubby and I were in front, trying to hold back the tears. I turned off the radio, for the music didn't seem to be appropriate. Only 15 more minutes, before we had to say goodbye to our new member of the family.. Ilaria is going home. She has been living with our family for 3 months, as an exchange student. Coming from Bari, the Southern part of Italy, Ilaria had a hard time coping with our cold season and chilly evenings. Going to school in a very different setting, she couldn't understand why she couldn't use her cell phone during school hours or chew gum in the class. The rules were pretty stupid, in her opinion. Back then, she could've decided to go home and rejoin her own class and continue her life. But she didn't.. She hung in and talked to us about her concerns and questions. We are glad she persevered.

The taxi was waiting for us at the school gate. Gianmario, the Italian friend who came to Belgium with Ilaria, was standing on the curb, tears in his eyes. Even this young man had mixed feelings about going home. After all, having spent 3 months in a Belgian home is an experience. On one hand you want to go home and see your family and friends. On the other hand, you have to leave your new family and friends behind, not knowing if you will ever see them again.. The taxi driver was emotional too, I could tell. But then again, he was not just a taxi driver. This young man had become very friendly with these Italian youngsters. He even came to visit Ila for a last time yesterday afternoon..

Yesterday was a very strange day. So many things we wanted to say, so many stories left to share. We knew this relation would not just stop here. There is Skype and Italy is not the end of the world. I'm sure the girls wouldn't mind visiting her and her loved ones. We have a lot of memories, many thoughts to make our faces smile. I'm sure we will all have to get used to being by ourselves again. That one bedroom looks so empty now and there is no fifth chair at the kitchen table. Tonight around 9:30 PM, nobody will come down the stairs and ask: Can I take a "douchan"?

We will miss you, Ilaria Landriscina.. You are a wonderful girl and we enjoyed your company. You will make more rides with Daddy Cars in the future and your Belgian sisters are looking forward to going out with you in Bari. I'm not to sure about the piercing you promised Eva though... Hahaha... we'll see. Rebba, Inthe and Arthurio are looking for you and they can't find you. Inthe was on the sofa wearing your "muts". I think I will listen to Gente di Mare and dream of a visit to your beautiful home..

Monday, December 3, 2012

A little bit confused

It's almost December 6, the day of Saint-Nicholas. Although the girls no longer believe in the existence of the holy man, they still like to be surprised. This year, the celebration of Saint-Nicholas is a little different from other years. We have an Italian student among us. It's almost time for her to go back to Bari, Italy. But not before she has enjoyed the feast of Saint-Nicholas and his Black Peters. She was really curious about our habits. I told her my childhood memories. I remember how frightened we were, when we heard someone pound on the front door. Sitting in our pajamas and listening to Saint-Nicholas songs, the old man would come to our house, carrying his big book full of comments on us children. We were digging through our memories, to persuade ourselves that we had been good kids. The Black Peters were always funny but nevertheless they scared us. Our hearts were pounding in our bodies and our eyes were like saucers that big. The Saint-Nicholas album had probably come to an end, because our father would turn it over to play the other side. I was startled by the voice of the holy man and his sincere way of speaking. The Black Peters opened their bag of toys and handed out whatever we had written on our letter.. wow.. those were magic moments. Our student was all ears and thought it was a great story. They don't celebrate this feast in Bari. I think she would like to have it too...

Since Ilaria is leaving next week, we had an early Saint-Nicholas party and on the same day, she and the girls decorated the Christmas tree. I took her shopping and she got to pick out the new decoration. And she did well, because the tree looks fab! It's a bit too soon for presents, since Santa Claus has to wait for his friend to leave the country, but there will be plenty of surprises.

Enjoy the holiday season. We will do the same..