Sometimes, I’m a nerd.

I bought a new travel mug, because let’s be honest, having my coffee / tea be lukewarm after only 1,5 hours is no fun, and that’s what happened with my old one. It was a cheap one, so I guess I can’t really complain about that. But you see, I take the mug along when I have a 1 hour commute, and I like to enjoy my hot beverage during at the very least the whole first class of the day, and preferably longer than that.

So as I said, I bought a new travel mug. I purchased a Contigo Aria AutoSeal 470 ml. A tad bigger than my old one, but hey, coffee addicts rejoice. Notice how I also did not get the 600 ml one? I know my limits. I bought it from Cool Blue (more precisely, their theepotstore) for a mere 30€ including free next day shipping. And today around 11am it was delivered to my door.

This is the travel mug in question:

Contigo Aria 470 ml (Purple)

Contigo Aria 470 ml (Purple)

Yep, it’s purple. While Contigo does make it in other colors, it seems like most stores only carry the purple one. Not my most favourite color, but I don’t hate it.

So what’s a future engineer to do upon getting a new thermos mug? Test it out. I took out my candy thermometer, boiled some water, and took some measurements. Boiling water just poured measured at 96°C (which means I should calibrate the thermometer, but was too lazy to do it today and will take the 4 degree error as systematic and completely ignore it. Because I can). So I then measured after 5 minutes without the lid (about how long it takes for tea to brew) and put the lid on. I measured again at 30 minutes intervals and got to 7 measurements before I got bored. Results are that after 3,5 hours, the water is at 54°C, which is still nicely drinkable.

Temperature in function of time

Temperature in function of time

Of course, I did not pre-warm the travel mug before making this totally unscientific experiment. Should I pre-warm it, I expect the drink would stay warm(er) long(er), and probably up to the 5 hours Contigo states this mug keeps warm.

As for the 100% leak free? I simply upturned the mug (over the kitchen sink, I’m not that crazy), and yep, absolutely no leak. The lock mechanism works nicely, and you can indeed use it with one hand. Really handy when you’re busy taking notes. The real test comes next week, when I’ll be taking it to school.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with either Contigo nor Cool Blue. No one has paid me to run this test and write the review.  I don’t get any cash if you click those links.

Forty days without meat: 3

Yup, still veggie here. Today I discovered that there is a campaign to make all the restaurants at Gent’s university serve only meat on Fridays. I would start by making more veggie options, and healthier at that, available. A typical day menu has three dishes with fish or meat, and one vegetarian, plus one soup that is not always veggie (chicken cream soup). I would aim to make the menu: one meat dish, one fish dish, two different veggie dishes, and either make all soup veggie, or serve a second veggie soup on the days the chicken soup is served.


  • Usual musli with milk
  • Orange juice


  • Tomato soup
  • Sammich with cheese & veggie “meat”loaf
  • Mini sammich with nutella


  • Veggie spaghetti bolognese


  • Apple
  • Mandarin
  • Coffee & tea
  • Speculoos cookie


A Matter of Ash.

So, I’m supposed to go to Madrid to visit family & friends, and pick up some papers that I need for university here. The travel is in the air with Mr. Eyjafjallajökull smoking so many cigars lately. Since there is nothing else to do about it, please take the following survey to pass the time:

I should be flying to Madrid the 26th of April and back to Brussels the 29th of April. Will I be able to?

So, when do you think the volcano will stop spitting ash into the atmosphere and the airspace in Europe re-open?

Silly polls over serious matters, do you like?

Thank you for your cooperation, and have a nice day!

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.


A Big Bag

It’s not quite like MaryPoppins’ Carpet-bag, not because I don’t like hers, but because I’m looking for instructions to make one ;) It also doesn’t fit a lamp, or a night stand or an umbrella, but it does fit all the stuff I carry on Mondays to school1.

It’s a simple zippered flat bottom trapezoid bag. Bottom is wider than top and the sides are straight. It has two long wide sturdy straps so you can hung it over your shoulder to carry all the stuff. It’s fully lined, and there is a (giant) hole on the lining to insert a cardboard base to make it stiffer. It also has two small pockets inside, for tissues and other small things that I don’t want to have floating around.

  1. Folder with papers, couple of thick books, pencase, bottle of water, tupper with lunch, fruit for mid-morning snack, and other tidbits. On the way back it also carries my cardigan and scarf

After one week…

… of class, I can already tell I’m gonna be dead most weekends.

My schedule goes as follows:

  • Mondays 9.30 till 12.45, and 16 to 17 (lab)
  • Tuesdays 9.30 till 12.45,
  • Wednesdays 8.30 till 12.45,
  • Thursdays 8.30 till 12.45,
  • Fridays 8.30 till 12.45.

Of course to this you have to add the hour of transport to get to university, and the hour back. And waking up an hour before I leave the house to do morning ablutions, dress and break the fasting. Plus expending all afternoons after lunch studying, doing exercises and preparing the classes for the following day.

There will be one Monday when I’ll have another lab, between 14 and 15.30 approximatedly. On Mondays I’m taking lunch along, since the food at university is over priced, bad and I doubt it’d pass a Health inspeaction either. On top of that, there are no vegetarian options. So bento lunches it is for me. Or most likely a salad and a sandwich.

Life otherwise is boring on this side. I haven’t been knitting much either. I think I haven’t picked up knitting in over two weeks. No time, not feeling like it, or just plainly too tired. I have started some sourdough, hopefully in a week I can have sourdough bread and other tasty things!

Not Lost

Just too busy.

I’ve been sick since after Christmas (see that previous post, I didn’t have the strenght to post any more after that…). Got a sinusitis that took me several times to the doctor, got me on two rounds of antibiotics, corticosteroids nosespray, and other assorted medicines. I have to go for the second skull x-ray next week to make sure it’s gone. Cross yer fingers, press yer thumbs, do as ye want, wish me luck!

It’s also exam period. I’ve already had two exams, and I have two more, coming monday morning and tuesday evening. I’m not prepared, because the last month I haven’t been able to study. Guess why? That goddamn sinusitis didn’t let me. I had such a brain fog, nasty headaches and lack of focus, opening a book was a chore that took all my strength, and understanding anything at all was nearly impossible. So, that’s all. Previous two exams I felt like I could have stayed home, but wanted to go in case they ended being easy. The next two I’ll go in case they end being easy as well, which I seriously doubt, but if I don’t go, they will be. Murphy’s laws hate me.

Jan’s coming to Madrid on wednesday. He hasn’t traveled here in over a year, and he’s really looking forward to it. We’ll be going to eat out a lot, and will hopefully walk around the city cow hunting. Other than that, we plan on relaxing and spending five days not doing much. We both need a vacation.

We’re house hunting in Belgium, around Ghent. It takes a lot of time and phonecalls and looking around and online. I wish people would make accurate descriptions of the houses, detailed and up-to-date. And same goes for the pictures, blurry, bad frames that show only details and not the shape or state of the room. Not to say those pictures that were taken 3 years ago, and all this time the house has been left to its own devices. What on the pictures looks like a well laid floor turns out to be vinyl coming apart and rippling from humidity… We have a budget, which is a bugger cause it’s limited. The houses we like are at least 100k over it usually.

That’s a life update for you. Stay tuned, maybe next time it won’t take a month and a half to post again!

I Hate Mornings

I’m not a morning person. Or well, not early morning. I have to get up at 6.40 am every day for class, which I know it’s late for some of you, but it is early for me. My body likes to get up at 9am. And then I navigate the metro (subway, tube, underground) for 45 minutes to get to class. And here it’s what I hate:

  • People that don’t shower. Stinking of sweat at 7.30 am, in a closed space with no ventilation such as a metro is very very inconsiderate
  • People that stink of smoke and smoke in front of me. I’m a non-smoker, don’t blow your crap towards me, the city pollution is enough, thank-you-very-much
  • Smelling the parfume of a person that’s walking 10m in front of me. Parfume is for short distances. And by short I mean 20cm.
  • Speaking of parfumes, there are summer parfumes, winter parfumes, and night parfumes. In order of strenght and warmth. And when you wear a parfume always, you get used to it and don’t smell it any more. Don’t use more, dammit, it’s still the same strength for the rest of the world.
  • Your music. I don’t care what kind of music it is. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care you’re getting deaf with your music so loud, that’s the least of my problems. I am not interested in your damn music, period.
  • You and your chatty friends. Fine if you’re a morning person, I don’t need to hear your conversation from the other side of the train.

And that’s a short list that comes to mind. I’m tired of getting sick to my stomach thanks to the lovely inhabitants of the city.


I start classes on monday, but I won’t be able to enroll til mid-october (again) because I get the mark for the exam I took yesterday until the 8th (revision on the 13th). I’m still indecesive about what courses to take. Well, I know two of them, but still have to decide about the third. I’ll go to the first class of the two courses I’m thinking about and decide from there.

But, that’s not what I really wanted to tell. I got my papers to enroll yesterday. So I can look at schedules on paper and other information. There is this one about sports at university. And this year there is good news! I can take Integral Yoga on Tuesdays from 13.30 to 14, Iyengar Yoga on Wednesday from 13 to 14.30, and / or Pilates on Thursdays from 15 to 16.30.

I think I’ll take Pilates, and one of the Yoga classes (each full course is 60€), but I can’t decide on which Yoga class to take. I’m wondering if the Intergral Yoga they teach will be too… philosophical-religious? I’m writing the school to ask about the teachers and more info, but any comments or suggestions are welcome.

PS: This will make me get in gear and sew a bag for my yoga mat and some clothing!

Mmm Ice Cream

Lets start by saying how nice and lovely and sweet Jan is. While I was in Spain, taking exams (better not talk about those grumble), he went to Aldi and bought me an Ice Cream Machine! Yesh! All for us! He told me he had bought me a surprise that day, and I wondered if it’d be the ice cream machine I had been showing him for the previous week. But I didn’t ask, wanted to be nice ;) In the end he told me, and I was already looking forward to make ice cream!

Fast forward to last friday (the previous was around the 20th June). I finally had time and peace to make the base of the ice cream. I decided on plain vanilla, because you can’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream. I followed the recipe that came with the ice cream machine, and got a nice vanilla custard that I let chill for a full day – while the ice cream machine bowl froze. Then I set up the machine, poured the custard, set it to “soft serve” and let it work for 30 minutes. Lovely result, a sweet intoxicating vanilla icecream. Simply delicious:

Ice Cream Ice Cream

You can see how creamy and soft it is in those pictures. And yes it has vanilla speks from using a real vanilla pod and scrapping all the seeds so the ice cream would taste like real vanilla and not those chemically loaded ones they sell out there.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream


  • 3,5 dl milk (I used half-skimmed)
  • 2 dl cream (I used 30% fat)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 3 egg yolks

Make it:

  1. The day before you want to make ice cream – yes it’s time consuming in the waiting department, it is definitively no instant gratification here – make your custard, and put the ice cream machine bowl to freeze. You want a good 24 four hours of cold in that!
  2. In a deep sauce pan, heat up the milk and cream, with the vanilla pod. Make sure to slice it in half lenghtwise and scrap all the seeds. Once it’s reached boiling point, remove from the heat and let cool with the pod still inside.
  3. While the milk cools down, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until foamy and creamy. When milk is warm, remove vanilla pod and add milk to eggs slowly while whisking non-stop to keep the custard from going, well, custardy and lumpy before time.
  4. When the eggs have been warmed up by part of the milk, add the egg mixture to the rest of the milk and heat the pan again. Do not let it boil and stirr constantly. When custard has thickened, about 10 minutes, remove from heat, pour in a bowl, and cover.
  5. Chill your custard to fridge temperature, ideally over night (that way the machine has less work to do!). Once everything is nicely cold and chilled, assemble your machine, pour the custard in, and let it do its thing for around 30 minutes.
  6. Dive in, enjoy.

Yield: One liter of frozen orgasmic vanilla ice cream.