About Me

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Antwerp, Belgium
Welcome to the new, and improved version of Heaven in Belgium. I am Jientje. "Jientje", like the boys name Gene, followed by "chu"? "Gene-chu", that's how you pronounce my name. Yes!!!!That's it!! So now you know huh? I am an addicted blogger. I was born and raised and am still living in Belgium. Yeah, the "this-is- Tuesday-so-this-must-be-Brussels" kind of Belgium .. There, you see? Maybe you couldn't find it on the map, but at least I'm trying to change that a little by sharing lots of pictures. I really love to cook and create new things, like this blog for instance. I am a mother, not a grandmother,I don't know if I'll ever be, but I'll let you know in due time! Oh and um ... I am a wife too! They say I'm a traveler, and a photographer. Well that's just what they say, I love to make pictures, but I am far from professional ... If my English is not perfect, that would be because it's my second language. I do hope you'll forgive me any possible misspellings or strange vocabulary ... Now, as a result of all of the above, I get way too little sleep and my days are always much too short!

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Heaven is in Belgium

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday’s Fave Five The Best Things in Life …

 

friday fave five 12

 

It’s Friday, the last Friday of the month of July already! Time flies, and some of those good moments in our lives are sometimes so easily forgotten, because … We don’t dwell on them like we tend to do with the bad things that happen in this world. Or to us. Since I started documenting my daily life with pictures  - and blog about it - I began to realize how beautiful my life is. And most of the time, it’s the “ordinary” stuff that makes my day. And on Friday, we share the things that made us smile through this meme. I’m sure Susanne won’t mind me including the following message.

After all, isn’t that what this Fave Five is all about?

Positive-Day-246x300
Today, 31 of July 2009 is Positive Day in this blogosphere. It’s the wish of a twelve year old girl, who wants us to think and blog in an uplifting way.

“ Then on July 31, share the things in your life that are positive. Count your blessings. Tell us why you are thankful.
CHOOSE to "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."

I agree.
If we all did that just a little bit more than we do now, the world would be a better place. If we all chose to remember the positive, if we could smile instead of being grumpy, if we could sing and splash around in the rain, like they do in the movies…

People might say we’re crazy, but hey? Who cares?

It might be catchy? 
So what if it is?
Let’s spread this epidemic!
Write a nice post, follow the link,  get over there and tell her you’re in!

1. Last Sunday was a beautiful day, so we took our camera’s and visited Bokrijk Museum Park again. We have a season ticket so why not use it? I always enjoy going there, the park shows life as it was a hundred years ago. Old houses, farm animals, wildflowers, bees and butterflies, actors … Hundreds of photo opportunities. And I had a blast! 
No less than a thousand and eight pictures in one day! WOOT! 


2. I finally found made time to work on my lace project again. I challenged myself to pick this old skill up again after at least twelve years of non practice when I promised to create something for my friends in a Pay it Forward give away. It took some time and a lot of study to get the hang of it again. I think I have good reason to be proud of myself because I found out I can still do it! But when Spring came I got busy doing other stuff and it was put aside again. But that does not mean I intend to break my promise. To those of you who signed up for this, I’m working on it, and it’s coming along just fine. Stay tuned. Oh and click the pink links to see what I’m talking about.



3. Like I said, Spring and Summer came along and other “stuff” keeps me busy sometimes. My potted garden on the patio is one of the things I enjoy so much.
To spend some time outside taking care of my plants is one of the joys of Summer.
The Sweet Peas my father gave me years ago always make me smile. He gave me two little sprigs, and now they’re everywhere! The Pansies and the Primula’s  are even blooming for the second time. The garden hose sprinkler system my husband installed seems to give them a real boost. That purple clematis is one I got from a friend when I spent some days in a hospital. It has not bloomed in years, I even thought it was dead, and there she is, in all her glory! Oh and last but not least, look at that gorgeous blue sky we had here. Beautiful eh?


4. When we were in France my husband bought me this cute garden decoration with the swallows. I put it between the plants until I got inspired by Wanda’s bird feeders last week, and I tied a string of nuts and birdseeds to it, and filled the other bird feeder with peanuts again. It did not take long before the sparrows and the tits came back to feast on their treats. I could watch them for hours, and my camera is never far …


5. THIS recipe I found at Kim’s blog, my dear blogger friend in Tasmania. It’s an Osso Bucco recipe from Kim’s Mom’s Italian recipe book. Kim has recently lost her dear Mom, and when I saw the recipe, I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate her. After all, what better way is there to remember a mother by but her very own recipes of the glorious food she made? I went straight to the supermarket to get the necessary ingredients and made it so we could eat it the next day. It was delicious.
The weather was nice, so we could eat outside, and that’s when I photographed that beautiful blue sky in the third collage. I think I might make this my new header for a while.


As you can tell, another glorious week. Life is good.

Find more Fave Five posts at Susanne’s Living to Tell the Story
and/or join Positive Day by adding your link here.

 

Quote of the Day:
Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
--Anonymous

Laundry Day …

window_copy

When Window Views meets Thematic Photography …
This week’s theme for Thematic Photography is “laundry”.


Friday seems to be laundry day in Provence, everywhere we went on a Friday, there was laundry hanging from windows and balconies.
One day, we were walking in Cucuron and the Mistral was blowing rather heavily there.
I was looking for a photo opportunity themed "wind" and I thought it was rather funny to see the flags on one side of the street and the dangling laundry at the other side.
So I snapped a picture of the street, but then decided to take one of only the window and the the laundry.

I waited for the right moment ....

and it has turned out to be one of my favorite pictures.
Oh and I KNOW I have shown this one before, but I could not resist posting it again…

Look for more Window Views here.
Find more Thematic Photography pictures themed "laundry" here.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Thousand Words in Idioms, Almost there ...




As long as people have been around, they have tried to communicate with each other. As a means of getting the message across as clearly as possible, idioms and sayings have found their way into our language. Now, because "a picture paints a thousand words", I thought it would be nice to make this a photo challenge. The idea is to choose an idiom, or a saying, ( even slang is allowed) and illustrate it with a picture. Each week we'll cover two letters of the alphabet, okay? You can find the first edition here if you need some inspiration.




"A Thousand Words in Idioms"

If "language is the dress of thoughts" ( Johnson), then idioms must the wardrobe ...


The next to last two letters from the alphabet already, we’re doing W and X this week!

Now some players have asked me what I will do when the alphabet is done. More and more people seem to find this a fun challenge so I would want to make this a weekly.
The only thing I would like to change is that we get rid of the alphabet and let the players decide for themselves which two idioms they want to use. Everybody can join in and play, as much as they or whenever they want, nothing to catch up if you’ve missed a week. We will play on Wednesdays, like we did up until now.
What do you think? Is this a good plan? Do you want to join in?
Go ahead and grab your camera’s!


Like I said …
W is for …
Water off a duck’s back: If criticism or something similar is like water off a duck's back to somebody, they aren't affected by it in the slightest.

And X is for ….
WARNING
okay, send your kids off to get an ice cream or something before you scroll down,
because …..

X is for …
X rated!!! If something is x-rated, it is not suitable for children.
Ahem.

And NO, they’re not the same bugs as I the couple I showed here. It must have been bug mating season when I was there, I just kept stumbling upon this kind of hot stuff!

Now take your minds out of the gutter and sign Mr Linky if you’re playing this week, okay? Oh and make it a link to the actual post instead of your homepage, this will make it easier to look you up whenever we want, okay?


As always, I’m very much looking forward to what you’ll come up with.
See you all again next week for Y and Z, and let me know if you want to continue after that, okay? I sure hope so, because I’m still having fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ballroom of Waltz

A couple of days ago, I saw a post at Korie’s blog Lilacspecs featuring a video of Frank Vander Linden and his song “In de Walszaal”. It’s a Flemish singer and the lyrics are in Dutch. It’s here if you want to hear it. (You could open it in a different tab, click on the video and come back here to enjoy the music while you’re looking at the pictures, it’s the perfect way to enjoy this post.)
I was totally in love with the song from the first time I heard it. Korie did an outstanding job translating it, she turned it into real poetry. Then she sent the lyrics to me, because I had told her I had the perfect pictures to go with it. I hope my pictures add to her beautiful lyrics.

This is the Antwerp City Festive Hall, the place I dragged Gattina into just before we went to the station. It was used as a ballroom in the golden years where people still used to dress up in beautiful evening gowns. My husband used to go there as a young man. It had been destroyed by a fire sometime during the eighties . It took many many years to restore the place but now they reopened it as a shopping mall. The designers have combined the original architecture with modern features in a very clever way (to my taste at least, I know not everybody agrees, but still).

To me, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Antwerp, and I have made photo’s from it on various occasions. Let me take you there …


Just imagine you’re spinning around in the arms of a handsome romantic dance partner wearing one of those beautiful dresses, dancing to the music of a beautiful waltz.
Enjoy ….

In the ballroom
I saw you standing
And walls and I both did agree

That the ballroom
As old as she was
Never the same could she be

In the ballroom
We whispered together
While the music played loudly

There was so much to say, and no need for explaining
And I had eyes for no one but you.

In the ballroom, slowly we spun
Slower and slower, with shallower breath
And today our dance may be done

In the ballroom I met you
And there I can lose you for good
Ah, the wind from the north and the emptier words
Ends the dancing long before it should

In the ballroom, I’m asking you now
Give us just one last chance
For the ballroom was once just for us

We did so much more than just dance.
We did so much more than just dance.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Macro Monday, Come On Baby Do the Juke Box Jive

 

mm

 

If you’ve seen the two previous posts, you’re probably wondering why there were no pictures of the jukebox Gattina caught me photographing? Well, I wanted to save them for Macro Monday.
It was so beautiful, I just HAD to grab my camera and get some pictures from it. So while Gattina was visiting the rest room, I took my chance! I moved the basket of baguettes which was in front of it to the other side, and started shooting some close ups and macro’s. I popped up the colors a little using the “time machine” feature on my Corel Paint Shop Pro x12, to make it look a little more funky.

 








Find more Macro Monday pictures here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer in the City

 

Summer Stock Sunday JPEG 

It had been very wet and grey all week …


Okay, living in Belgium, you learn to see the beauty in that too …


Water drops and puddles can make nice pictures. *sigh*

But the weather gods listened to me, and Gattina and I were able to go for a walk in Antwerp city after all. I took her to the beguinage, a hidden place where time stood still …

I’m a door geek, does it show?

 

I love my zoom …

Madonna’s watch over you everywhere …
This one is a pub, right next to the cathedral.

This is at the Vlaeyckensgang, one of the oldest streets in the heart of Antwerp.

I can never leave Antwerp without photographing her.


And this is my very special Summer Stock Sunday picture. They’re in front of an ice cream parlor in the heart of Antwerp.


Find more Summer Stock Sunday pictures here

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Like Old Friends …

When I first talked to Gattina on the phone the other week, I immediately knew we were going to get along just fine. We set a date to meet each other in Antwerp. I would pick her up at Antwerp Station at eleven, and when I walked to the station, it was raining. All week, the weather forecast had announced 90% chance to get rain for Thursday so I was not really expecting sunshine and blue skies. I hoped at least we would manage to keep it dry and go for a walk around town. I wanted to show her some of my favorite places, and no matter how beautiful a city is, it’s just not the same when you’re hiding under an umbrella all day!
There was never any shyness when we met at the station. I recognized her immediately and we hugged each other, walked arm in arm under our umbrella’s.
Like old friends.
First thing on the agenda was to find a place to have a good cup of coffee, the best way to get to know each other a little better and avoid the rain at the same time.
Gattina HAD to ask the waiter to take pictures of us. Ewww, I dread that! Posing for a picture is pure torture for me, but the man was a professional, he did a great job.


When we continued our walk after that, the rain had stopped. We put our umbrella’s away, and we even got some blue skies and sun later in the day. We both had our camera’s but we had so much to talk about, we did not really take a whole load of pictures. And when we did it was like: “ Look, a Ruby Tuesday! or “there is a nice Window Views!” “ That would make a nice Odd Shots!


I took her to the not so obvious places, like the beguinage, a place where time has stood still. I showed her the hidden places where you would walk right past if you did not know of them. The Madonna’s on the corners of the streets, and other places I’ve discovered while I was out on one of my photo walks the past two years.

It was past noon, and it was time to find us a place to have lunch. Again, I hate ending up in a tourist trap, so I wanted to find something nice. My first two options were all closed. But then I spotted a place called “ ‘t Goe Leven” which means “the good life”. Now with a name like that, you can’t go wrong I figured, and the place looked very homely and cozy. Good music too, from a genuine Wurlitzer juke box which I HAD to photograph by the way!


You can have tapas there and other small servings of classic dishes like Bouillabaisse or salade Niçoise. The food was delicious. And it must have been interesting to eavesdrop on us. We had geek conversations, we talked about blogging and photography, we shared stories from our lives, and it all came so natural! It’s so weird when you meet a blogger, how well you know each other and how familiar everything sounds. It’s like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. The conversation was laced with remarks such as “ Oh yes, I know, I read that” or “I saw that in a comment” stuff like that. Hard to believe it was only two hours ago we first met in real life!

Time fled by, and we never had any awkward silences in our conversation. I wanted to show her my favorite place for coffee, and we could even sit outside!


Before we knew it was past five in the afternoon, so it was time to walk back to the station. We were not just around the corner like she thought we were, we had another half hour walk ahead of us. But I still could not resist dragging her inside some “must have seen” places like the Vlaeyckensgang and the Antwerp Festive Hall.




We arrived at the station just in time for her to catch the train back. We said goodbye, but we both knew it would not be the last time we get together.
We’ll do this again, and I can’t wait to visit Brussels and discover the hidden places she has in store for me!


PS: Read Gattina's post on our meeting here.

I'll show more pictures in tomorrow's post and in the next few days, okay?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday’s Fave Five, Let’s Have a Blast!

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I know I know, I say that every week, but hey, can you believe it’s Friday again?
Another week that has whizzed by so fast I would probably forget I have ever lived it if it was not for this great meme! Friday’s
Fave Five is hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and I just love to participate each week.

A very busy week it has been, lots of good moments, let me share some of the highlights from this week today…


1. Sunday we had our little dinner party here at home. My friend Annie and I love to play in the kitchen, so we get together once each season to cook a gourmet meal. It was my turn to host the event, and we spent a couple of hours cooking and mixing and chopping and cutting in my kitchen together. And then in the evening, our husbands joined us at the table so the four of us could enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Go here to see more pictures of our culinary efforts.

2. Tuesday was a day off for most Belgians, as it was our National Independence Day.
There is a military parade in Brussels, and the members of the Royal family make their appearance, and there are fireworks here and there, but that about covers it.
It’s not huge like the fourth of July is in America. There is one tradition though. There has to be a huge shower on our National Day. ( Not that it does not rain on other days, but National Day would not be the same without it! )
People in Belgium call it “drache National”. The picture in the left corner might give you some idea of the impact of this year’s “blessing from above”.

3. A blogger meeting. Yes, another one. While at the other end of the world in Chicago the BlogHer blog convention opened it’s doors and all some of the famous American Bloggers meet and get together in this huge event, I had a little blog meeting of my own.
I had a date with Gattina yesterday. She came to Antwerp and I showed her some of the little streets and some hidden little places there. We had a wonderful time together. I think I might tell you more about it tomorrow.

4. We went to my favorite coffee house in Antwerp and I had a delicious Vienna Cappuccino Coffee. It was topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. A heavenly combination. Yum.

5. Blog Positive. The brainchild of Jennifer’s twelve year old Diva Daughter. 
I quote, straight from Jennifer’s blog Dust Bunny Hostage:

Positive-Day-246x300

On July 31, 2009, I would be humbled and blessed
if you would participate in the day envisioned by Diva Daughter.
It would be an opportunity to show that young people
do indeed have a voice and that they can make a difference.
If you feel so inclined, grab the badge and post it on your sidebar.
Then on July 31, share the things in your life that are positive. Count your blessings. Tell us why you are thankful.
CHOOSE to "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."

Isn’t that what we should do each day?  Now I KNOW most of my readers already do that, and that’s why I am not afraid to ask you to grab the button, head  over to Jennifer’s blog and tell her you’re in as well!

Let’s make this little lady’s dream a real blog blast, okay?

This does not mean I am going to skip Fave Five’s next week, I think I’ll combine the best of both worlds into one big positive post!
Well, that’s it for me today, go here if you want to read more Fave Five posts.
Or join in, it’s fun.

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