Saturday, February 28, 2009

Brussels, Belgium Part IV

One of the streets that we stumbled upon was the street of seafood restaurants. Several of the restaurants had displays outside their front door. These displays are made only from fresh seafood and shellfish and fruits and vegetables. Really intricate.

Right around the corner from the fish street is a covered gallery. It is several blocks long and was the first of its kind in Europe. The shops in the gallery are rather upscale. I didn't have the nerve to go into this chocolate shop. I think they charge to breath the air. But, OMG the chocolates looked sooooo edible.

And finally here is my favorite shop. Belgium waffles. I can't believe I had spent 9 years in Europe and not had one. The only thing I can think of is that I do not normally like waffles. These are not normal waffles. Totally different. Light, fluffy, a little sweet. No Bisquick involved. I had the waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. I felt that I had gone to heaven.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brussels, Belgium Part III

Food. Did I mention the food????? OMG I was in heaven. There seems to be a restaurant every few steps. Right outside of the back door to the hotel, not 30 steps away is an Italian place. Starched linens, attentive waiters, good prices and last but not least, really good food.

I started with some wine. All I asked for was some really, really dry white wine. I prefer that the wine is "Sahara Desert" dry. It was. Really good.

Spousal Unit found a beer that he really liked. Leffe. I took a sip and it is really good, but I'm in a wine mode at the moment. That didn't stop him from helping me drink the half carafe though.

For appetizers the waiter automatically put a small bowl of mixed olives and bread on the table. Yummy.

I started with the mixed salad. Huge!!! I ate everything on the plate and then went back with the bread and sopped up the sauce (dressing).

Spousal Unit had the veal and pasta. He didn't have much to say most of the time after his dinner arrived. Just a glazed look on his face. I think I detected a mood of Ecstasy. Hmmm. Maybe I should be a little jealous???

When my dinner arrived, I understood his lust. I dove right in and forgot to take a picture of the presentation. I haven't had shrimp this good since we visited Greece many, many years ago. Well, at least I got a picture before I devoured the whole plate.

I can't say enough about the food/dining experience we enjoyed. This is one of the main reasons for our wanting to return to Europe. It sure beats sitting in a waiting area of a local chain restaurant with a vibrator/buzzer in my pocket.

Brussels, Belgium Part II

Just outside of our hotel, down the street there is a small church. The plaque on the outside stated that the church had been built and rebuilt many times. It is a mixture of very old, old, and new. I found it really interesting that this wood carving is still on the door of the church. We visited the Brussels Museum and saw many of this type of carving. I am surprised that this artwork is allowed to "Brave the Elements."

On this day we went strolling to go see a fountain. On the way there we ran across this scene.

Street statues are every where. This is a statue and a street performer mimicking the statue. If he had stayed still I really would have thought it was two versions of the same man. Oh, by the way that is a representation of Vincent van Gogh.
He was really pissed that I took pictures and didn't feed his box of money. I would have donated if I had my picture taken with him. But I did not.

This is the little fountain of Manniken Piss. I had always wanted to see this fountain. When the guide book said that it was a small fountain tucked away on a little side street, they weren't kidding. You can pass it by with out even knowing it is there. If it wasn't for the crowds and tourists taking pictures.

I think Mannikin Piss is just like Paris Hilton. Famous for being famous. I read that he probably has more outfits than she does though. There is a whole wing in a museum devoted to his clothing.

They also do him in chocolate. Letter openers, bottle and wine openers. Just about anything can become a Mannikin Piss. I passed on the chocolate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brussels, Belgium Part I

On Friday, Spousal Unit said that he would be home by 12:00 noon so that we could get an early start. We didn't want to drive in the dark, if at all possible, since he had only been there once. This was to be my first visit to Brussels.

Well the best laid plans, obviously do not get carried out in our house. He didn't get home until 2:00 and had decided that he wanted to drive straight through and not stop in Liege. I had offered up this option to not have to drive in the dark.

So I hop on the Internet and Google hotels in downtown Brussels. Spousal Unit mentioned that the "Grand Place" is were we wanted to be near if at all possible. I checked out some of the hotels and came upon a weekend special. 50% off the Royal Windsor, directly on the "Grand Place." Woo hoo. A Five Star hotel, did I mention that I got it for 50% off?

We finally take off at 3:00 and hit the road. A girlfriend said that it would be a drive time of 3 1/2 hours- MAX. The Google maps said 3 hours. Actually it is more like 4-4 1/2. The directions were really bad, once we were in the city. I didn't have a map with enough detail to really point us in the correct direction. It is really dark outside. Like most major cities, Brussels doesn't sleep. Oh, the street signs are on the side of the buildings, that you can read just as you are going by.

So....... we drove around for an hour and a half. Luckily, Spousal Unit is a Navigator. He always finds his way some how. We finally found the hotel.

It is gorgeous. Very old world elegance. The bell hop comes out for our bags and then parks the car for us.

We are escorted to our room.

The bedroom.

The mini fridge. Even has a French champagne for us to purchase. Not!!!! Not at those prices.

The marble bath room with bidet.

The Grand Casino is right across the street.

The beer that seems to be the national beverage. I didn't like it. The taste is OK, but I couldn't get past the smell. For a bar snack, the bartender served us potato chips.
I was starving, but the restaurant had already closed. I also was too tired to go out and search for something to eat only to go to bed. I ate the chips. They were really good.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food, Beer, Sights, And Impressions To Follow


We were able to pick up Spousal Unit's car today. The good news is that we have enough money for food for the rest of the month. Blackie, the car's name, is not cheap to fix. Luckily, the car was free, a gift from Spousal Unit's father. True, 20 years old, but Mercedes tend to last a long time. And are fun to drive.

Our planned trip for the weekend is still on.

We are taking a road trip to Brussels, Belgium. Spousal Unit has a meeting there next week and asked if I wanted to get away for the weekend.

I have spent the majority of the day researching the sites in Brussels. I have never been before.

I really want to see some of the museums, the architecture and the "infamous" fountain "Mannikin Piss" It is a centuries old fountain of a naked little boy. Well, the name of the fountain says it all.

Boo hoo. The Royal Botanical Gardens won't be open until Mid-March. The gardens are a wonder, all iron and glass over more than 6 acres, built in the 1800's. Maybe I can entice the Spousal Unit to return. Hmmmmm.

I am really looking forward to this trip and will keep you posted.

I am not bringing the laptop so this will probably be my last post until this coming Wednesday.

Hey Gal Pal, Sunshine. I am going to try to find a decent Belgium beer. grin grin.

Food, beer, sights, and impressions to follow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just Some Random Thoughts Today

  • We are still a one car family at the moment.
  • I had to get up a little early to drive Spousal Unit to work this morning.
  • I then had to hurry home to shower and get ready for a luncheon I was to attend.
  • Had to then Google the directions, since Spousal Unit is against me getting a GPS.
  • Decided to follow Google directions over the mountain, since I hadn't gone that way before.
  • Really enjoyed the scenery, when I could take my eyes off the road, momentarily.
  • Didn't see much scenery.
  • Mountain roads can be really scary and steep.
  • The luncheon was held in an old monastery, church all the way on top of another mountain.
  • I had the Pfannkuchen. A tomato-less pizza style dish. Didn't like it.
  • Didn't see much of that scenery going up or down.
  • Didn't have time to take any pictures because we are still a one car family.
  • Went to pick up Spousal Unit so he could take me home and he could keep the car.
  • I shouldn't expect Spousal Unit for dinner.
  • He's working late and I don't drive after dark.
  • I really hope we get the other car back tomorrow and that it will keep all 4 tires/wheels on the axles now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Anxiety Seem To Follow Me

I have had some really YUCKY stuff happen in my life this past week and I haven't really wanted to share, so I haven't posted or blogged. I still don't want to share what's going on at this point, but wanted to let you know that I haven't abandoned blogging. I will share later, just not now, so don't ask.

So, just some tidbits about life, otherwise, about what's going on today:

Spousal Unit tried to go to work this morning. He does not get President's Day off so needed to work. Well, it snowed again last night and was still snowing this morning. We live on a small mountain. The roads are steep. He slid off the mountain and proceeded onto the next town. He came back 30 minutes later. That scared me. He informed me that he did 3, 360 degrees spin outs and decided that going to work wasn't going to work. He had to walk home because the car wouldn't make it up the mountain.

He's lucky that he can work from home when necessary. Of course, when the roads were a little more clear, he headed out again.

He let me know that he would be leaving the office around 4:30 to come home.

He got home and just wanted a hug. A major big hug.

It turns out that thankfully, wisely, he did not take the Autobahn home tonight and chose to take the streets through the little villages and towns. Slower driving.

By the Grace of God.

As he was driving, the driver's side tire fell off.

He didn't have his cell phone. He couldn't call anyone to help.

Luckily, he was able to jack the car and put the tire back on and come home, with his flashers on to drive slowly.

I am following him, with flashers on, tomorrow to the car repair shop.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Scored. Again?

Today has been periods of hectic moments and then blocks of time that I just sit and wait for an email to come in.

I have successfully avoided the dusting of the furniture and the dust bunnies are alive and well and doing what all bunnies do best...multiplying. My housecleaning skills, at times are like a fine wines. Only ageing will tell the outcome.

Part of my hectic moments came from me sleeping several hours after I normally rise in the morning. I usually get up at 5:00-5:30. Why you ask? Cause that's when I wake up and can't usually fall back to sleep. Well, this morning I didn't wake up till almost 8:00 and it screwed up my whole morning.

I like to get up and go downstairs to have a glass of orange juice while waiting for the water to boil for my coffee. I make my coffee in one of the Melitta pots, where you pour boiling water over the coffee grounds and it trickles into a glass pot. It is a very strong, full flavored coffee, with no frills attached. In this sense I am a major coffee snob. I grind my beans every morning and then do the water bath thingee.

All while this is occurring I usually start to read my morning paper. After the news I work the crossword, Cryptoquip, and Word Scramble. This is my routine and I have kept this routine for many, many years. I may be up early in the morning, but I can't really be considered to be part of the human race at that time.

So this morning, because I slept late, I couldn't do much more than brew the coffee to drink after my shower and while fixing hair and makeup stuff. True, I came upstairs to check my email. In my inbox was a message from a garage sale site about a 22o volt treadmill for sale. Only 175.00. Holy crap Batman, can you say I jumped on it and emailed back, pick me, pick me, ooh ooh, pick me.

I had just started into the conversation about information on the treadmill. On these sites, and in the stores on base, if you see something you need, buy it then or it is gone. (too many people and not enough merchandise.) Then had to tell the gal that I had to leave.

This usually means death to a purchase on these sites. But I made a promise that I had to keep.

I had to hurry to get out the door to go pick up gal pal, Heather for her dental appointment. She had a tooth extracted and originally thought she could drive herself there and home. Wrong! What if she had a bad reaction to the Novocaine? So had I volunteered to take her last week to the appointment. Just in case, after the appointment, I stopped at the ATM to pick up the cash for the treadmill.

I delivered Heather to her door, gave her some "Motherly" advice, promised to make her some homemade chicken broth, and hightailed it home to see if there were any further correspondence from the treadmill lady.

Nope, no messages.

So being the productive person that I am lately, I played Spider Solitaire, I cruised the net, and played more solitaire. I was about to give up waiting and really do something productive like water my plants when the email came in. She picked me.

She gave me her address, I Google Mapped and came up with nothing. A little thing like that wasn't going to stop the "She Who." I got in the van and headed off for a town that I had no clue where it was. I live on top of a very big hill, small mountain. She is located in a town in the valley. Beautiful scenery on the way. Very scary roads down the mountain.

I made it.

We girl-handled the treadmill into the back of the van, I gave her the money. We talked about people we knew in common. I left.

Can you say? I scored. Again?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Scored Again

Its just a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am avoiding the dusting and vacuuming still. I was supposed to go to one of those hostess parties this afternoon, but backed out. I really don't need to buy anything and I so... don't want to buy anything either. I only agreed to go because one of the hostesses is my gal pal, Heather.

Well, Heather was up all night with her youngest, who just cut two teeth. A very unhappy baby at the moment. Her next youngest has the creeping crud and managed to ruin everyone's lunch. I won't go any further with those descriptions. Let us just say that Heather isn't hostessing the party this afternoon. She is staying home with several fussy girls instead.

So I decided to stay home too.

Spousal Unit thinks he is surprising me by making Baklava. He makes the best I have ever eaten. That includes the bakalava I had in Greece, several years back. He usually makes it over the holidays, but didn't this year because of the boys visits.

I scored another Free cycle deal this morning. A book, really a travel guide, written by ladies living here. It has a little about life in various areas of Europe based on personal recommendations. Shopping, hotels, restaurants, and sightseeing. I found out about it several days ago and so went looking for one. It is sold out every where. I finally looked online and saw an out-of-date one for 35.00. It didn't cost that much when new!!

Now a little thing like that isn't going to get me down. It makes my OCD nature come out. I just posted a message on the Free cycle network requesting a copy if anyone was moving back to the States and wouldn't need it anymore. I got several responses and met up with one of the ladies this morning. She also seems to be very sweet and we might get together for coffee in the near future.

I scored again. I love free cycling!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Hit The Jackpot. Make That Flowerpot.

I just got back from doing a free cycle run. I put out a request for flower pots and planters. I have a gajizillion of them in storage but did not bring any with me. The prices in the local stores are rather steep, even if I do use a tax refund form.

Anyway, I have been chomping at the bit, since getting back from Southern California, to start planting my seeds for my garden this Spring. I didn't get to have a garden last summer and it really got to me not to have my fresh veggies throughout the Summer.

I have been hitting some of the stores and garden shops, which of course only feeds my early Spring fever. I have been looking at the larger flower pots for putting on my front step. Really pricey. So I haven't bought any yet. I am so glad now that I didn't.

The gal that answered my free cycle request told me to come on down, actually up since she lives in the mountains, to get her pots. She is leaving in a couple of days and needed them all gone.

When she started pulling out the pots I was a little disappointed. Really old cracked plastic planters for window sill. OK, beggars can't be choosers. No problem, I'll take them.

Then she started to pull out really large Italian clay pots. Then some more large clay pots. Some fertilizer, more fertilizer, soil, and to top it all off.... She gave me several of the large clay pots I have been eyeing in the garden shops.

She was really sweet and I hit the Jackpot. Make that Flowerpot.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Am Amplifying. Enunciating. Exulting. Helping.

This past week I really slacked off on the house. Its not dirty or messy, but not up to the standards that I have kept for the past few months. Yes, the laundry is mostly done, folded and put away. The dishes are clean and in the cabinets. The larder is stocked and ready for me to go on another cooking binge. But, the dust bunnies are multiplying and the furniture has acquired a new protective layer of dust.

Suzy Homemaker seems to have left the building. The reason is because....

I met with a lady this week, who is responsible for sending out the section's newsletter every month. She is overwhelmed by this task. Can you say computer illiterate? She doesn't know how to do what needs to be done, to assemble and edit the letter.

The meeting didn't start out with her asking me about my computer skills. It was just a friendly meeting, to get together for coffee, to get to know each other a little better date.

I told her a little, actually a lot, about myself and her eyes just got bigger and bigger. I think she thinks I am her guardian angel. (Not really, but that felt really good to type.)

I have skill sets that are totally alien to her and I am so........


No, I am not shouting. I am amplifying. Enunciating. Exulting. Helping.

I took the volunteer job and am so glad it was offered.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Drivers License


This is so upsetting, thought I should pass it along. Check your drivers license...

Now you can see any one's Drivers License on the Internet, including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was...Picture and all!

Thanks Homeland Security. Privacy, where is our right to it?

I definitely removed mine, I suggest you all do the same....Go to the web site and check it out. Just enter your Name, City and State to see if yours is on file. After your license comes on the screen, click the box marked "Please Remove."

This will remove it from public viewing, but not from law enforcement.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In The News

I didn't do a Snopes search on this article, but wanted to pass this on. What a hoot!


CENTERVILLE, Utah (Associated Press) -- John, a porcelain commode gunned down in an accidental shooting at a fast food restaurant's bathroom, has died. His age was not immediately known.

The toilet was shattered by a bullet Jan. 12 when a man's gun fell from its holster as he was pulling up his pants, police said. Police do not plan to file criminal charges in connection with the incident.

Christian Martinez, manager of the Carl's Jr. where John was gunned down, held a memorial service Friday at the restaurant. He gave away bottles of John's favorite toilet cleaner, Kaboom Bowl Blaster, to the eatery's first 50 patrons.

A Bountiful flower shop provided a large floral arrangement.

"In all my years, I can say without a doubt that I have never delivered for a toilet," said deliveryman Doug Graham, "but I thought it was the funniest thing I've ever heard. I got a kick out of it."

Remnants of John hit and cut the gun owner's arm, but he was not seriously injured.

Police blamed John's death on the gun and style of holster the man was using.

"He was survived by the men's urinal and wash sink," said Martinez. "He left us way too soon."

Butt Side Up And Breast Side Down

I've been doing a lot of cooking recently. Its a little over the top, considering that I am now cooking for just two people. I also have the problem of not knowing how to cook for just two people. I still cook as if I have two growing, very healthy appetited, teenage boys in the house. True, I am learning to scale back, but really some recipes just can't be cut down.

Anyway, I have been cooking.

This past Friday I made Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches with a nice side salad. Of course since the grocery store only sells previously frozen Italian sausage packages, I have to cook the whole package. I usually eat one sausage and Spousal Unit will eat two. That leaves several to be baggied up and put in the fridge.

Saturday we were out and about most of the day and also went for dinner. There is a new place we tried. A Chinese restaurant the next town over that was actually rather good. I love how, here on all the tables, there is a small jar/container of Sambol Olek along with the soy sauce. Sambol Olek is a fiery hot sauce that we slather on most of our Chinese food. I really love mixing it with soy sauce and dipping my egg rolls in it. I also love it with fried rice.

So I didn't cook on Saturday, but I went all out Sunday.

While visiting in California, my adorable Step Mother-in-Law who doesn't cook, purchased half of a roasted turkey breast. She then proceeded to introduce me to turkey and avocado sandwiches. I fell in love.

To make a long story short, on that scenario, I have been craving more turkey. And I just happened to have a turkey breast in the freezer. I pulled it out to thaw several days ago and roasted it last night. I also made stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and a tossed salad.

Thinking that soup also sounded good I pulled a smoked ham bone out of the fridge and simmered that most of the day for some soup stock. I have the start for a 15 bean soup which is always good on a Winter's night.

Well, the directions said that the turkey needed to be in the oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours for its size, considering that I stuffed it. After the allotted time I got out my handy-dandy meat thermometer and tested it for doneness. 160 degrees. Drats. It needed to cook til 190 degrees. Back into the oven for more cook time.

A couple of hours later I tested it again. 175 degrees. This can't be right. So I had Spousal Unit start carving the breast after it rested. Looked great. I threw the thermometer in the trash and will buy a new on in a few days.

On the up side the meat was moist and succulent. Its a good thing that I now roast the turkey butt side up and breast side down.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhogs Day

Phil Says "Six More Weeks of Winter!"
Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:Hear Ye Hear Ye
On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009
Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators
Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper
And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths
After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time
And a bright sky above me
Showed my shadow beside me.
So 6 more weeks of winter it will be.
Scenes from the morning of February 2nd: