Monday, December 19, 2011

Let It Snow!

All it took was a light dusting of snow for me to get excited about the holidays (that and the arrival of my two older children two days later - my true Christmas gift)! Yes, colorful Mont des Arts with the town hall spire in the background (photo 1) was stunning to see just after Thanksgiving, and watching the Saint Nicolas procession (photo 2) was quite entertaining in early December, and the Electrabel Nights at the Grand Place (photo 3) featuring new technologies and special illuminations was exciting a week later, and the Christmas Market's ferris wheel (photo 4) next to approximately 250 chalets (selling anything and everything christmassy) and an ice rink made for a fun day, and my purchase (photo 5) at said Christmas Market was special since I buy each child one new ornament every year... but it was a little snow on our patio furniture (photo 6) that had this California girl shrieking, "It's snowing, it's snowing!". Mind you it's only the 4th or 5th time I'd seen snow fall from the sky so that may have had something to do with it...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Under the Hammer for a Holiday

With winter approaching and temperatures dropping by the day, I admit to spending one too many hours watching antique and auction shows on the BBC. I'm thankful for this British obsession, especially when I miss the English language but need a break from the EU's debt crisis according to Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron. Plus British English sounds so distinguished - I'm always delightfully entertained and well-informed when tuning into: Flog It!, Cash in the Attic, Cash in the Celebrity Attic, Antiques Road Trip, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Bargain Hunt and Homes Under the Hammer. The premise for most of these shows is an antique expert and contestant rummaging through a home, car boot sale (that's British for flea market) or quaint antique shop for items to flog or go under the hammer (auction). If a profit is made, it's often used by the contestant to purchase even more antiques for his/her attic or towards a dream holiday in Spain. The educational aspect is evident when the host visits stately homes, country castles, medieval museums or other places of historical interest. All this got me thinking about a possible undiscovered treasure in my neighborhood antique shop and wondering if I could Flog It! for a dream holiday in Spain!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I experienced my first strike (manifestation) in Brussels last week. It was actually quite civilized... The STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles) applied for a permit to shut down most metro, bus and tram lines at 11:00am on Friday, for the day. Everyone was well prepared with many people walking (me), carpooling or telecommuting. Back home, strikes typically go on for days or weeks (until concessions are gained). They don't last as long here though they are more frequent. Before moving to Brussels, I still associated the word strike with bowling to indicate all pins have been knocked down with the first ball of a frame. This brings me to today's post... It was, no surprise, a wet and gloomy evening and we, the non-natives, were getting restless! I was also on the hunt for some much-needed, albeit indoor, color. We headed to The Bowl Factory in Waterloo, complete with "cosmic bowling" (the tracks & bowling balls glow in florescent colors when the lights go down), an arcade and Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant. Everyone bowled a strike but me - that's okay, I still had a ball ;-)