Last Week…

It was effing cold! Nearly every day it froze overnight, reaching temperatures of -6C and below. Yes, I know that’s nothing compared to other places.

Anyway, those nights left us with this:

Frozen Field Frozen Field

That’s the field across the street where someone keeps sheepies. The same sheepies that greet me when I walk by. That is actually their feeding field, their sleeping field is to the right. It looks like it snowed lightly, but it’s only frost. *brrrrr*

Long Due Post: Carnival

So I said I’d talk about Carnival here, and that was three weeks ago! Carnival is an important holiday / party day here, or so I’d think, seeing as kids get the whole week of school, most of the stores in the city centre close, and basically everything stops until it’s done and over with Carnival.

The thing that called my attention most was the boxed street furniture. Not joking! See yourself:

Boxed Street Furniture

Boxed Street Furniture Boxed Street Furniture Boxed Street Furniture

These pics show a roundabout with all the sculptures in boxes, some trees in boxes, and even a parkingmeter in a box. It’s handy, for a week you don’t have to pay for parking, starting about two or three days before carnival, and until two or three days afterwards.

I couldn’t take a pic of it, but the shops in the center actually barricade themselves. Yes, barricade. The whole façade protected by plywood, so that the drunkards-partiers can’t break in and steal. Nice, isn’t it?

The Carnival itself is four days of partying, street parades, music, street food, etc. I haven’t ventured in it after the description Jan gave. I can tell, however, there is still alot of confetti to clean off the sidewalks. It’s been two weeks, and they’re not clean yet!

I Can Vote!

Yes, the bureaucracy (or bureau-crazy, as we may call it) it’s done. And I will receive my voting papers via snail mail in the next weeks, and then I can go to the post office, and vote.

Today started like no other day, getting out of bed at 5.30 am. Too early! Walked a kilometer to get to the bus stop, the bus was already there, which freaked us out (yes, Jan was so nice as to come with me so I would not get lost in the big city). Bus was fast and arrived at the train station early. We went to the platform to take the train direction Brussels Airport. And here it’s where the adventure starts.

About five minutes before the train is due, an announcement informs us that the nice train we were going to take, is delayed for at least 15 minutes, making us be.. you guess it, more than 15 minutes later than we want to be at the consulate. So, we change platforms to take the slow train (the one that makes every single stop) to Brussels Central. At least we’d be warm in the train. When we were arriving at Denderleeuw, another announcement tells us there is a connection with a fast train to Schaarbeek, that stops at Brussels Central. So we get off the train, and in the next train.

Finally, we arrived at Brussels Central. First leg of the trip is done. Finding our way around the train station was not easy, but not complicated either. Lets say, Brussels Central is messy. We followed the mass, hoping it’d get us to either the street, or the bus stop. The mass was mostly going to take the metro, but, before you arrive to the metro you can take an exit to the bus stops. I’m glad I saw the signs pointing to the bus stop! Once out, we were lucky, and within one minute the 63 arrived. We had looked it online, it should stop at La Presse, but anyway, we thought it safer to ask the driver. “S’arrête à La Presse?” (pardon mon Français!), and what was the bus driver’s answer? “I don’t know, you better go check on the screen” Yes, you read well, the bus driver did not know where his bus had to stop. That was a first.

Anyway, the 63 does stop at La Presse, and we got there. Off the bus we go, and try to locate where the heck we are on the map. Each of us pointed in opposite directions “I think it’s that way”. First was wrong, second was right. Anyway, we finally arrived at the consulate, about 1h 40 minutes after leaving home. What a trip, yes?

We arrived at the consulate at 8am. The consulate does not open till 8.30 am, but I needed to be there early in order to get a number that would allow me to get all the paperwork sorted. First in line, at least. Half an hour later, and a bit colder than when we arrived, they were so kind as to open the door. Meanwhile, about half a dozen workers had walked by us and got in the nicely warm building, completely ignoring us save to say “Good morning”. We longed for the waiting room, with chairs and warmth. Yay, first in line, I’ll get this stuff sorted fast, I thought to myself.

First thing you do upon entering the Consulate is strip yourself of any metal and put your purse and said metal (coins, watch, belt, keys…) through a scanner while you walk through a metal detector. I love it, not. Then, the security guard asks to see your ID card, which he then proceeds to log in the computer, and asks you what the (*bleeep*) you’ve come to do here. You answer, get your ID card back, and you’re sent through another door, to another waiting room with windows, where you again tell the person what you want to do. I got my number, and three papers to fill in. I only managed to fill in half of the first paper, that would register me as non resident with the embassy, before my number was on screen, and I had to take the elevator to the first floor.

First floor, I got nicely asked to please move to the first window… And then I got nicely told that my paper wasn’t completely filled it.Well duh, of course not, I have had no time! Anyway, I finished filling it in, handed it in together with my ID card and a picture, and about 20 minutes later, I got a bad photocopy about 10x5cm, with a stamp and a date saying I have registered as non resident. I also get my ID card back, and a photocopy of it. YAY! One thing is done.

To request voting via snail mail, I am sent to yet another office. At least it’s the same floor. The person who is supposed to be in that office is however talking with a friend in another office, and yes we could see her there, talking, and doing nothing! Five minutes later she decided to come do her job. About time. It takes another five minutes to hand in the request for voting via snail mail, and get it signed and stamped by the worker. Thirty minutes later, I am finally out of the place, and I will be able to vote on the elections.

Afterwards, we had to get the bus back to the train station. The bus stop that is closest to where we got off reads “Forbidden to get on the bus, only getting off the bus” I did a WTF? eye roll for good measure, and off we went to try to find where we were allowed to get on the bus. Walk walk, and get to the bus stop where you can get on, which is actually the next stop. We got off at Brussels Central (Gare Centrale) after asking the driver, who this time knew the stop was that one. Looked out for a place to have a coffee, after all, it was already 9.30 and we had had breakfast before 6am.

Back to the train station, a train direction home was delayed for about 5 minutes, which made it possible for us to get on it. As we were setting foot on the platform, the train started to move. Byebye train, we missed you! Back to check on what platform is the next train for home due. Change platforms. See the train that will arrive before ours is in direction of Kortrijk, and that it stops at Denderleeuw. It beats waiting for nearly half an hour for a train! So we get on the train direction Kortrijk, get off at Denderleeuw (again), and wait for the connecting train that will take us home. Back in Aalst, we decided to run some errands, and since it was late-ish, had lunch. Then Jan took the bus to go to work (he had only half day off work), and I took the bus to get back home, and surprise MIL was on the bus! So at least I did not have to go all alone.

And thus, kids, finishes the adventure of how Sade got her papers to be able to vote in Spain. On our next story, we may talk about the Carnival in Aalst, and I will hopefully have pics too. Yes, this was a wordy post. If you made it till here, go on, post a comment, and then you can go to the kitchen and have a cookie too!

Public Transport

This post inaugurates the Living in Belgium category. Pop open the champagne, pour a glass and make a toast. Ok, now that it’s officially there, lets start, shall we?

While I’m living here for a few months, and studying for some exams for my degree, I decided to take Flemish lessons (or Belgian Dutch, yes it’s different). This requires me to go to Aalst, and since I’m carless and can’t bike to save my life, I have to take the bus. This would be no problem in Madrid, you walk about 5 minutes and you most likely will encounter a bus-stop, or a metro-stop, and you know the bus (or metro) will show up in 5 to 10 minutes. However, bus stops here are few and far in between. I have to walk 10 minutes at a quite fast pace to get to the bus stop. Then you wait for your bus.

Buses here are very regular. So regular they are always on schedule. And you better check that schedule, unless you want to wait for 20 minutes until the next bus that you need passes by the stop. Yes, you read well, buses only pass every 20 minutes, on school days. So you have this nifty booklet, with the lines you’re interested on, and it tells you when the bus stops at your stop, and when it arrives at the stop you want to get to. Which is nice, and allows you to plan your trip to get there on time. You usually can choose from being there too early, and being there too late.

Bus Schedule

Then, we have the lines. This is so much fun. The line I take stops always at the train station, and then continues to the other end of the line. When it goes from End 1 to Train Station to End 2, the bus stops at one platform at the train station. However, on the way back, from End 2 to Train Station to End 1, the bus stops at a differen platform. It sounds like two different lines would work better, doesn’t it? In fact, they were two lines, until they merged them, and made this mess. How did we find this? We took the bus in the wrong direction once already. Luckily, it was a saturday and I was with Jan, so we could ask how the hell to get home.

And finally, buses change lines when they arrive at one end and scare the shit out of you. Yes, they change lines, without telling you! There I was, after my first day of class (more of that on another post), reading on my book on the way home, and we arrive at the end of the line, but weirdly enough, the bus stops at a different corner. I am perplexed, I ask to get down (I had to open the door by pushing a button), and check that my bus is no longer a #X, it’s a #Y! Where did my bus go?! At least I was home, or well, a 10 minute walk away from home.

Walking home is also quite an experience. My walk is a nice stroll on a paved semi-rural road (Hi, Sheepies! Hello Mr. Rooster!) that has no sidewalks. So I have to walk on the road. I was taught, as a pedestrian, if the road has no sidewalks, you walk on the left, so you can see the cars that come up to you and try to avoid them. Apparently, the rule must be different here, because every single pedestrian I’ve seen on that road walked on the right. Yesterday, on the way to the bus stop, I was nearly run over by a nice camionette that decided to drive 70km/h on such twisty badly paved road. Today it was quieter, but tomorrow, oh tomorrow, tomorrow I get to walk that road at dawn! I have bought a couple blinky lights to hang from my purse in the faint hope the cars will see me and not run over me.

Next in the series, I don’t know yet!


Spain has elections on March 9. Since at the moment I’m living in Belgium, that means I have to register at the Embassy-Consulate as (non) resident, and request my papers for voting via mail.

I fought a bit to find online the address of the Consulate, and then the opening hours and phone numbers. Once that was done, I found out I could ask for an appointment so I didn’t have to wait in queue for as long as it pleased them to do all the paperwork. Seeing as getting to the Consulate takes me 1.5 hours (connections allowing), and about one third of that is walking, I thought an appointment was a good idea.

So, I called this morning, only to find out all the appointments till February 7th were booked. February 7th is the last day you can register in order to request your voting papers timely. The option they gave me was being at the Consulate at 8am and wait in queue for as long as they want. See how long it takes me to get there? It means I have to get on nearly the first bus of the morning to get there on time. Not my cup of tea, really.

Actually, it shouldn’t have surprised me, seeing as their working hours are monday to friday, 8.30 till 13.30. They’re so kind as to pick up the phone up to 16.00, and be open on saturdays from 9 till 12. But you can’t solve any paperwork in the afternoon or saturdays. Because, you know, everybody is able to ask for full days off work to do this kind of paperwork, and of course live within walking distance.

I am not bitter, nope. I am not annoyed, not me, no sir. I am $&#@!&.

Edit: I was hoping I could solve the paperwork during the ten days I’ll be back in Spain for exams. However, that won’t work. I can ask to vote via mail no problem, it’s in the time frame, but the papers won’t be sent to my home address in Spain till after the 18th February, and I have to sign to get them. Guess what? I’m already out of the country by then.

This, apparently, means that even though I want to vote, it’ll be close to impossible. I can’t waste a full day going to the consulate to get registered and then ask for my voting documents, and I can’t ask for mail voting in Spain cause I won’t be there to recieve the papers.

Back to the drawing board. To see how on earth I can vote.


Åsa, from Huso y Rueca, has given me with this award. The rules, like always (The original rules are written in Portuguese, so I asked a friend of mine to translate them, because even tho I understood the meaning, I couldn’t translate them completely. Thanks Rafaelzinho!):

  1. This award must be given to blogs you consider as good. Understanding as such, the blogs you visit regularly, and on which you leave comments.
  2. If and only if, you receive a “It’s not a bad blog”, you should write a post:
    • Naming the person who awarded you, with a link to the respective blog;
    • The badge for the nomination;
    • The rules;
    • And the nomination for other 7 blogs for receiving the award.
  3. You must display visibly and proudly the badge for the award received, in your blog, preferably with a link to the post where you talk about it.
  4. Optional. If you wish to grant some publicity to the creature with too much free time to spend in silly things, Skynet, you can do it on the post itself. He’ll appreciate it. (He really does have too much free time (-; )

So after the rules, here it goes.

The Badge:

Not a bad blog

Right now I’m too lazy to put this on the sidebar, so it’ll stay on this post, and that’s it.

Who has given me the award: Åsa, on her post Premiada.

Who do I nominate. This is a hard one, I have dozens of blogs on my RSS reader, and I check it every day, and read them. I’m not that good at leaving comments, tho. Anyway, blogs of friends that deserve an award, in no order, are:

  1. Yorkie, because she is Yorkastic, always.
  2. Zanne, because four kids and a trucker husband deserve one.
  3. Fiona, lovely Fee of ours, she’s fun, don’t need to say anything else.
  4. CJ, in an attempt to make her write more on her blog.
  5. Lía, down there in the south, and she knits, my hero!
  6. CBear, because I want to.
  7. Adam, because he’s living abroad, and he knits, and learnt German. Really!

Pss, the names are links to their blogs, go and visit them!

I could give this award to more people, but it says seven. I had to chose!

I met more family!

And I have survived.

Today we went to the nunnery in Dendermonde, where two aunts of my mother in law live. We had cake (did I mention they do load the whipped cream with sugar in the bakeries here? My tea tasted sour after eating it), we talked, we had sandwiches, and talked some more. I knitted a bit on Jan’s scarf, and I guess that was the thing that broke the ice in the end, cause by the end of the evening, they gave me a cute present:


Doily Doily

This doily was hand knitted by one of the nuns in the cloister. It looks like it’s made out of cotton thread, on about 2mm needles, and it’s perfectly starched. I will treasure it, since they offered me a gift, even knowing me for so little.

Edit: Do you happen to know of a pattern that is very similar or exactly the same as the doily on the pics? Please let me know!

Pressies! And Much More

Remember I said I’d show you all of my pressies? (it’s on the previous post, in case you don’t). Ok, so I’ll show you today:

(psss, if you click on the pics, it’ll lead you to each pic on the gallery, and you can click for an even bigger version)


The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook, by Dave Myers and Si King. It’s a cookbook, a travel guide (the book is divided by countries), and a history book all in one. You won’t get everything from all three categories, but you’ll get nice recipes with loads of pictures, some tips on traveling (mainly by bike), and some history tidbits about each country.Oh, and lots of humour! It’s the kind of cookbook you can read from the first page to the last, it’s that good.


Amarantine, by Enya, and Come Away With Me, by Norah Jones. Both are very good! These two CDs will become part of my “quiet music” collection, as opposed to my “not so quiet music” collection. In any case, I can fall asleep listening to either ;)


A wooden tray with four small pots with four matching small spoons, that will most likely be used to serve sauces, spices, salt, etc at the table. Given to me by SIL. She knows I like to cook.


Sexy Sheepie, as already introduced on the previous post. Back then, it was New Years, and she was being geeky at my laptop. Today, I got sexy sheepie to pose for the camera, and the result is two more pics: this and this other. She totally seduces the camera, doesn’t she?

Bonus pictures:


`appy `ippo.


Fierce `ippo.

Family Pic

Family Pic: `appy `ippo, sexy sheepie, and fluffy doggy.

We’ve also gone eat out once during these past 10 days. We found a new italian place in Aalst, it’s called La Locanda, and sadly, they don’t have their own website. I snapped a couple pics at our main dishes:

Asparragus Rissotto Pappardelle with sewfruit

That’s one Asparragus Rissotto that melts on your tongue. And one dish of Pappardelle with Seafruit that sent Jan to heaven. The servings are huge, too. We had a nice evening dinning there, but we know for next time (because we sure as hell are going back) to order less. One starter, two mains and two desserts was too much for us two!

Also, some knitting, just for kicks. Seems I haven’t talked knitting in ages, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m designing and knitting this scarf for Jan. The first I made for him, he loves it, but it’s very warm. So he wanted another, and I said I make him one (hopefully) completely original. The result so far is this:


And a close-up of the texture.

close up

The scarf is fully reversible, and fun to knit. The pattern is not complicated, and is easy to memorize. But it’s not so boring you’ll want to tear your hair before you’re half done with it. For those interested, I’ll be writing up the pattern in a nifty pdf, and putting it up for download, whenever the scarf is finished and I have modeled shots.

Recipe Box?

I’ve seen people out there showing out their recipe boxes on their blogs (sorry, can’t remember which, I’ve already seen it in a couple, at least), as Mason Dixon have a show and tell contest, where they asked to see your recipe box, and to share one of your favourite recipes in it. I really don’t have a recipe box, because it’d be hard to fit all the recipes I’ve “clipped” and wrote and modified into a single recipe box. However, I do have a nice method of collecting my recipes:

Recipe Folders

This picture shows the “hard copy” of all the recipes. The five red folders (3 in / 7.5 cm wide) on the right are my cook book / recipe box. Each recipe has exactly the same format, there is a nice index to browse alphabetically, and even better, they are all in a database that makes searching recipes easy. Also, I can access this database wherever I have internet access, which makes having my “cook book” at hand even easier.

Of course, this does not include my growing collection of cookbooks. Because those are not in the recipe binders!

Now, sharing a favourite recipe, that might be hard. I have too many favourite recipes. I will however give you one recipe I tried yesterday and that came out delicious. Sautéed Apple Pie with Short Pastry crust. Serve with Panna Cotta for an extra kick! (I went with the vanilla pod version, so very worth every cent of that pod!) By the way, if you click on that nice “Get this recipe as PDF” link at the bottom of each recipe, you’ll see the format all my recipes have in that bunch of folders.

On a very unrelated note to this post: