Forty days without meat

Forty days without meat (40 dagen zonder vlees) is a campaign of a student in Maastricht. She proposes to eat vegetarian for Lent (the forty days between Ash Wednesday -today- and Easter Monday). Another interesting campaign in Belgium is Donderdag Veggiedag, where people are encouraged to eat vegetarian one day a week (Thursdays).

I am not taking part because I am already vegetarian, and the point is convincing people that eating less meat (and fish) can be healthier for them and for the planet, as well as tasty.

What I do want to do (hopefully) is during these forty days tell you (and perhaps show you if I remember to take pictures) what I eat as a vegetarian. So, without more blabla:

Forty vegetarian days – Day 1:


  • Glass of orange juice
  • Musli with milk


  • Bread with quorn slice (vegetarian cold cut), cheese, and nutella (not all on the same slice!)


  • Pasta with mushroom sauce and quorn pieces


  • Apple
  • Tea
  • Mandarins
  • A cookie

And as a bonus point, the recipe for the pasta dish:

Pasta with mushroom sauce and quorn pieces


  •  olive oil, salt & pepper
  • 500 grams mushrooms, clean, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 150 gr quorn pieces
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 1/2 glass water
  • 1 tsp maizena
  • 2-3 tbsp light cream (7%)
  • 125 gr whole wheat pasta


  1. Put a pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta. When it starts boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions. I like my pasta al dente so I tend to boil it for a couple minutes less.
  2. In a wide bottomed pot, heat two tablespoons of oil. Sautee the quorn so it has some nice color and remove it from the pot. In the same pot, add another tablespoon of oil, and sautee garlic & shallot until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and let them cook until they have more than halved their volume. You can help them along with a sprinkle of salt. If the pan seems dry, wet it with a tablespoon or two of water. Add the thyme.
  3. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the wine and boil for a few minutes. Add the marmite and stir. Dissolve the maizena in the rest of the water and add it to the pot to thicken the sauce. Boil for two-three minutes. Add the cream and the quorn pieces, and heat through.
  4. By now the pasta should be ready. Drain it and add it to the mushrooms. Stir to combine.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.

Makes two servings.

Pasta with mushrooms and quorn


So, first of January and all that. You say “Happy New Year!” (Happy New Year!), you kiss and hug, you smile, and then you make an unreasonable list of new years resolutions like going to the gym five times a week, eating seven servings of fruit & veggies and clean the house from top to bottom every month.

I am not going to make resolutions. Because we all know that most resolutions are not kept anyway. But I do want to put here things I’d like to do this year. In no order of importance, small or big, doesn’t matter. I’m not even going to call them goals, like other bloggers are doing this year. Because having a goal (or a resolution) will most likely set me up for failure. So this is just a list of things I want do do!

Here we go:

  • Getting my bachelor’s! Yes, halleluja. Moving to Belgium and finishing my studies here was the smartest move ever I think. Right now I am one exam period and one semester (with its own exam period) away from this. I still can’t believe it!
  • Sewing more, and drafting some more patterns. I want to try a t-shirt and some trousers.
  • Knit more. I am enjoying knitting my first cardigan, so I might jump in and make a second.
  • Crochet more. I’m still taking toddler (not any more baby, I’d say) steps in crocheting. I prefer knitting, but there are some things that are more suited to being crocheted.
  • Keep reading. Brain candy! Something to let my brain rest after studying in Dutch.
  • Cooking. I want to try new recipes, adapt some Belgian classics so they’re vegetarian.
  • Blog more. I wrote a whopping 5 posts last year :(
  • Getting acquainted with our Nikon D7000. Maybe even read the manual gasp
  • Be happy!

And there is probably more to it. But that covers the basics. Enjoy the year, and don’t be hard on yourself. Who’s going to love you if you don’t?

Happy 1005 Times Two

(That’s 2010 for those not inclined to do math or those who have had a wee bit too much to drink)

We celebrated with a feast for two, watching the Spanish tv with the 12 bell tolls from Madrid, fireworks from the balcony and bubbly in our glasses.

A quick recap of our menu with pictures. Just because I’m such a meany ;)

Cavi-Art on toast Faux Gras on toast Cottage cheese mint samosas and mango chutney
Mushroom Sundried Tomato Risotto Rosemary focaccia Chocolate pear cake with cinnamon whipped cream
Click on the pictures for a bigger view

Those are, in order from left to right, first row then second: Cavi-art on toast, Faux Gras (de Gaia) on toast, Cottage cheese mint samosas served with home made mango chutney, Mushroom & Sundried tomato risotto served with Rosemary focaccia (home made, of course), and Chocolate pear cake with cinnamon whipped cream. All accompanied by a lovely Spanish Rueda Verdejo and some bubbly.

Wishing you a lovely 2010, and hoping your wishes come true. I’ll be working on mine to come true, because well, fate always benefits from a bit of pushing in the right direction.


Yes, it snowed! And I took pictures:

Snow 1 Snow 2
Snow 3 Snow 4

And then we went out and had a snowball fight, and tried to make a snowman but didn’t go all too well. And I made a sorta snow angel and froze me butt in the proceed. But it was fun! Then we came back up, warmed ourselves up with a cup of “winter mix” tea, and some speculoos. Winter is starting to look like winter, now it just needs to snow a bit more for Christmas!

Mandatory Monthly Update

It seems like lately I don’t feel like updating much or often. It might be because right now I have nothing to update on. Life is mostly boring and routinely for me. I’m not in classes or have a work (yet, I’m looking…). I actually was supposed to be working now, trial period, but got called that they were going to hire someone that had previously worked at the place and wanted to work full time, instead of lacking experience me that wanted to work part time cause I’ll be in classes hopefully soon.

Last week I went to Knit Flanders. And I forgot my camera so I didn’t take any pictures. Mostly we knitted, had some drinks, and some people had cake too. It was fun. I had to leave early because I wanted to go to UCT and ask about enrolling in the intensive Dutch courses. I have to go again this week after I filled some paperwork so I can enroll and take a placement test.

I also won the Free Fabric Friday over at Sew, Mama, Sew‘s blog. Which means I got a yard of the fabric of my choice. And I chose a lovely Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom:

Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom
Picture Credits: Sew, Mama, Sew.
Click on the picture to go to the store and buy this fabric.

I still don’t know what I will do with the 44″ wide yard (110 x 90 cm approximately) . Options that come to mind: easy peasy A-line skirt, some sort of top, bag of some kind, or just thought of decorating a bulleting board with it to hang in the studio.

Maybe next week I have more news, maybe not. Stay tunned!

Long Time No See?

I know I haven’t posted in a month and a half. Life hasn’t been so hectic as to put it as an excuse not to post, to be honest. I just haven’t been in the mood to post, and didn’t really have that much to talk about either. I still miss Macchiatto dearly, our little cavy, it makes me sad thinking about all that we could have done and didn’t know to do in time.

What has been going on since then? Not much, I have been getting used to living in Ghent with Jan, me mostly been at home doing stuff, as it was pointless finding a job for two months, then come back to Madrid for another month, then finding another job when I get back to our home at the end of the month. Officially, I’ve been marked as house-wife, never mind I’m not a wife! And that’s actually what I’ve been doing most: grocery shopping (thanks given that we have two shops within easy walking distance), cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, and so on and so forth.

I’ve also been preparing more paperwork to enroll at UGent. I need to fill in a lengthy application form and give them ton of information from my previous University. I’m hoping they’ll accept me and also transfer my credits. It’d be a great help if I only have 1 to 1.5 years left to get my Bachelors, and then another 2 for my Masters. The end is near, way closer than at my previous University, which is sad. I’m also going to enroll at UCT for either the preparatory year of Dutch, or only the levels I still need to take (3rd to 6th) preferably.

On the cooking and baking front, I haven’t innovated much or made up any recipes worth posting. I’ve kept to my staples with the savory, and not done much baking either. I made curry, and stir fries, some baked casseroles and the usual. I baked some muffins and was planning on cookies but forgot to buy cookie sheets!

I did get three balcony rectangular planters, and filled them with dirt, put some seeds in, and patiently waited for them to grow. I have Lettuce, Rainbow Chillies, Rocket, Leaf Beet (or Perpetual Spinach), Land Cress, Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives… All ready to pick when I need some. Nothing better than a sandwich with lettuce right off the plant. Or a pesto with such fresh basil (crossing fingers it grows enough that I have enough to make pesto soon).

Craft wise, I finished a beret (no pic), that still needs the ends sewn in. And I started on a lace shawlette using the Luna Moth Shawl free pattern from Elann, and a fingering weight yarn that’s a bamboo / silk / cotton blend, in creamy white. Since a post without pictures is boring, I’ll put one here of the shawl:

Luna Moth Shawl In Progress

I also got a set of funny giraffe rubber stamps. I made some thank you notes and gift tags that I plan on putting up for sale. I sewed a beach dress for me, using my brand new sewing machine that I plan on use a lot (Promise!). I’m right now waiting on an eBay auction to finish, and hopefully I’ll be the owner of 3.5m of MacKenzie Seaforth tartan to make a high waisted skirt.

I think that’s about it. Hopefully next time it will be sooner than with this post.



As a parting gift for my best friend, who is also moving for next year at University (and the following, to finish her degree in a different University from where we both started), I got her a small Teddy-bank1 at Tiger. It comes with some paint and a paintbrush to decorate it yourself. The end result can now be showed, since she has the present already.

Teddy Bank Front Teddy Bank Back

On moving, I’ve already moved in with Jan. There are only a few details in the apartment left to do, namely paint one small thing, and do some retouching here and there. And then putting everything where it should be. But we’re moved in and happy! We survived our first week together already, inluding our fifth anniversary2. One lovely view out of our balcony happened a couple of days ago:

Sunset from our Balcony
  1. Same as a Piggy-bank, but it’s shaped like a Teddy. So cute!
  2. Yes, we’ve been already 5 (five!) years together, and as happy or more as when we started.

The Bus, Part Two

A while ago I talked about public transport here in Belgium. Today I’m going to talk about the good things buses have here. (I’m not going to talk about how frequently do the railworkers strike, because it’s annoying, even tho I do not take the train often).

So first, lets talk about the tariffs, shall we? You can buy a single trip ticket on the bus for 1€ (approx $1.50). Or you can buy a single trip ticket via SMS with your cellphone for, if I remember correctly, about 1.5€ ($2.30). Yes, you read well, you can buy a ticket via SMS. You send a SMS to the number (that I do not remember because I’ve never used it), and then they send you a message back with a “ticket” that is valid for half an hour. Another option is buying a ten trip card. If you buy it in a shop, like a tabbacco shop or newspaper agents, it’ll cost you 8€ ($12.60). Or you can buy it in the bus, and it’ll cost you 10€ ($15).

And then you have the monthly card. This one is great. Mostly because it’s not valid for a “natural month”, that is, January, February… Nope! It’s valid for 30 days starting the day you buy it (or the following day if you ask them so). So you can buy it the 20th of the month, and still use it for 30 days, until the 19th of the following month. Lovely! And then the price: a normal month ticket costs 27€ ($42.5) for people between 25 & 55 years old, and it allows you to ride any bus from De Lijn, all over Belgium, as many times as you want, for the whole 30 days. And the best part? Living where I live, it’s half price! So I only pay 13.5€ for 30 days of buses!

This is my OmniPas, 30 days of bus rides!

The downthing of the buses it’s that they don’t ride very often. For instance the line I use the most, drives 3 times an hour (every 20 minutes) Monday to Friday, with the first bus at 5.45 am and the last at 10.10 pm (except during summer, when the last bus is at 9pm). Saturdays is also three buses an hour until 6pm, then once an hour, first bus at 7.50 am and last bus at 22.30 (that could get me home). And Sundays and Holidays are even better: one bus an hour, starting at 8 am and finishing before 9pm. However, if you have the schedule, you know when the bus will be at the main stops, and they are there at that time. Which is handy.

And then the drivers. Most drivers will know the routes the do like the back of their hands, or even better. You can politely ask them to please tell you when such-and-such stop comes, because you know you need to get off there, but don’t know the stop. They will greet you when you get on the bus with “Goodmorning / Goodafternoon / Goodevening” as approppriate with a smile. They will say “Thank you” after you show them your bus pass, or “Please” when the machine spits your ten-trip card out after validating it. And they will wave bye when you get off the bus. I have to admit that the “Goodmorning” really makes my day brighter.

And thus we conclude (hopefully) the talk about public transport in Belgium. Stay tuned for the next chapter of life here.