:: One more week ::

One more week and we finally have the keys of our new home. And while that’s day is coming closer, nothing in our house would betray our upcoming move. Everything is as full and as chaotic as it always is. I think I packed my first official box yesterday. Kitchen stuff that is not often used and won’t be missed the next month.

Because, yes, moving will have to wait until the end of May. I decided to give in to my husband’s strong desire to remove that wall between kitchen and living room now, before we move. It makes sense of course, and if there is one thing that I don’t feel too happy about, it is that wall, but I was planning on moving in and living there and feel what we need. Alas, only one wall and with our buyer not putting pressure to get out, it’s the right time to do so.

pink blossom
It’s not all thorns and roses. Pink blossoms too!

The garden gate is open already. We’ll have to fix that lock later, but for now, I love how I already get to enjoy a walk around the pond and dreaming up the garden. The children already played hide and seek, it’s just the perfect place to do that. And there is that one huge coniferous tree (I have yet to figure out which one) with an equally huge cherry laurel bush underneath that forms just the perfect playspace. I can’t figure out if it has been lead to make an igloo but it did and it’s just perfect: next to the pond but the branches form a natural barrier, enough branches to climb up and a huge natural playhouse on the ground that has only one gate-like access. I hope to find some lighting to put in there (I was thinking solar powered but with al that shadow that might not be the best option). And the cherry laurel is blooming so there’s that lovely dense honey smell, heavy but not too heavy.

I also decided on the vegetable garden, in a corner, close but out of sight (I’m not the cleanest gardener ever. Let’s say my idea about gardening is: putting something in the earth and letting it do the job. But I have to be quick. My husband is on the ‘clean and neat’ team and he is pushing for a greenhouse. Nothing against a greenhouse, but if I’m not claiming the spot first, I have a feeling the greenhouse will be put just there and it will be way bigger than I can handle.

veg garden to come
Veg garden to come. With holly hedges, for now.

The previous owner (well, the almost-previous owner) is a great women with a very clear idea of what she likes and how it will work in her garden. Apparently she loves roses and holly. It does work well, but man, there is holly everywhere. Not the best bushes for children to play in. I’ll keep one or two for birds and christmas, but the first thing going out is those bushes, now that they are still small enough to handle.

canadian goose breeding
Breeding goose. Or is it a statue? She did not even blink!

And the geese… they are still there. Only two of them – the couple that’s breeding there every year. And yes, they are breeding again. And I have no clue what to do. Except for taking idyllic pictures, because well, they are kind of cute. And majestic. And up until now, not aggressive. I managed to reach the island and I was shaking eggs I saw laying around, wondering if that was how they breeded – scattering eggs everywhere, which seemed odd to me. And then I saw here, watching me, but frozen on her nest. I have nu clue on how many eggs she sits and I’m reluctant to chase her off the nest to check (especially since I knew the gent is around somewhere). We know some people who can shoot them, but that seems so harsh. We just want to prevent the eggs from coming out – it’s when they have geeslings (and lose their feathers so they can’t fly) they become aggressive and territorial. Right now, they don’t bother us. To be continued…

:: stamped nostalgia ::

While Eunice was crossing the country in a very loud way, my husband and I were on a nostalgic trip ever since we discovered my husband’s old stamp collection in one of the boxes that I went through. The beauty of it: my son is very much intrigued too and yesterday his first album finally arrived. He had been asking for it for a while now, often enough to make me believe that he was genuinely interested in building his own collection.

old Belgian stamps
All those stamps in old Belgian francs. I remember each time when postal services upped the price for sending a letter, we had to buy new stamps, or a sheet of very cheap stamps to complement the previous value.

I had a small envelope with international stamps I saved from my last Postcrossing-episode. He was delighted and we spent the day trying to get them off, which worked for almost all of them. When we also found a big batch of Belgian stamps and a box of old letters that were still in stamped envelopes, we decided another album would come in handy.
Good thing too: I got rid of the letters, which were filled with the most impossible adolescent drama. It’s not nice to throw away letters, but I finally cringed at the idea of rereading them, let alone my kids ever reading them, so this was the last little nudge I needed to delete that shoebox from my life.

Watching him arrange the stamps carefully brought back so many fond memories. My grandfather was very proud of his and showed us how it worked. He would always bring us some doubles. I especially liked the bird series, and they were plenty.

stamp european nuthatch
This one was my favorite – a European nuthatch!

My grandfather also checked contest answers of a magazine my uncle worked for. On a regular basis a big box of envelopes found its way to their large dining room table. He and my grandmother were very routinated and worked like a machine to get the forms out, check for stamps on the envelopes, and then sorting the answers into a pile of totally correct ones, a pile with only one mistake and so on. They had a special red pen to do that and whenever I was sleeping there when one of those boxes arrived, I was invited to help. I felt so proud and involved and I almost forgot about it, until a few days ago.

envelopes stamp collection
It took me a while to know what all those weird country names were 🙂

My mother sent me pictures of our stamp collections (and reclaimed albums), and the gazillion little envelopes with international stamps. On each of them is the name of the country, in my handwriting. I can still feel the pure joy that ran through my veins when I sorted everything out.

It’s a bit harder to fuel the hobby today though. People aren’t exactly writing letters or postcards anymore. Of course, there are some options. I could buy a batch from those sellers who offer them for scrapbooking. But because the slow and steady flow of stamps coming in was part of the fun, I spread the word in the family. And I reactivated my Postcrossing account. That too. So far for my ‘cheaper than Pokémon shizzle’ math. But at least it will be way more fun to open the mailbox in the coming weeks!

:: moving ::

sun on bamboo in garden

The sun is embracing our house, now the storm has passed. We’ve had a lot of wind and heavy rains last night. I love how everything looks when it all has cleared up – fresh and sparkling. Unless there is damage of course, but so far we’ve had nothing.

Nostalgia is flowing through my heart as the sun through the windows. It feels strange that these will be the last months in this house. This house is the first we owned – we bought it quite unexpectedly, just after our honeymoon. It is the house that brought us joy, love, a garden and children to enjoy it with us. It has its perks – but we made it work and I still love the vibe of it. I also came to love the people here. Good thing that we’ll not move far then – the end of the street seems far enough to me.

In a way I am also glad that the big renovation plans stranded on a lucky timing. While the renovations would have certainly made things work even better for us – the house would lose a bit of its authenticity. It would be clean and simple and lovely and there would be improvements that we always wished for… but it would not be the house I fell in love with anymore, I think. The woman who bought it from us is alone, without children. She can improve (if she wants to) without compromising on the character, I’m sure. It will fit her well and I hope she’ll be as happy in here as we have been.

It will take some getting used to for the other house to feel like home, but I’m confident it will after some time. It is a good house, especially when the kids grow up – which they do at an alarming rate. The pond will make me nervous, as the swimming pool in this one has done, but a close eye and clear set of rules will make it doable. The kids will miss the swimming pool, I’m sure, but they’ll be delighted to watch the ducks, observe the frogs, and can play hide and seek and do excursions in the backyard. And in summer they will find a spot to play in the water anyway. We’ll have trees and bushes, and a pile of earth to dig in. There is already a perfect spot for a camp underneath a large tree, it is as if nature has bend itself around the expectation of kids playing house. It’s what they’ve always dreamed of – what we always dreamed of for them. And something I would have loved as a kid myself. 

So the next months will be about packing up, doing a major declutter, and dreaming up our new home at the end of the street. So many fond memories are tied to this place, but I’m delighted with the blank slate that comes with a move. A whole lot of new memories to make!

:: Reflections on Sunday ::

apple blossoms in white and green

The first week of the Easter holiday has flown by, as usual. Little girl went to daycare every day (and rocking the whole potty training over there), and Big boy had a jungle week with a class mate, organized by the local youth sports council. He has done similar weeks before and always was quite enthusiastic.

Kidsfree, but busy week for me though: our car didn’t pass the yearly check-up and I had to replace the two front tires. Costly, but not as costly as redoing the complete bottom as I anticipated (18 months ago, I got stuck on a little brick wall someone destroyed and that I hadn’t seen because of the bushes hanging over, not my best driving skills, I admit. Funny part: I was saved by seven Polish workers passing by that just lifted my car on the road again. I kissed them all!). No comments on the bottom part, so glad I did not have that repaired before going to the check-up. Of course, I first checked with maintenance to assure there was no danger in driving around with the scratches for another year or so. Because there was other work to do on the car, I had a replacement car for two days and fell in love with it. Not to mention the kids as it was brightly colored in white and red (okay, okay, and maybe also because it was clean and shiny). We were on the verge of crying when we had to give it back lol.

Citroën C3 white red
  • I’ve been reading around quite a lot in the internet lately, with Instagram as a favorite starting place. Especially since low-waste caught my attention (feeling ashamed of the tons of trash and wasted food and plastics present in our household), I’m feeling very inspired. For me, food is a great and favorite way to ease into anything, and The Zero-Waste Chef keeps inspiring me with every instagram post. I think her post about reducing food waste is a great place to start.
  • Another instagram account that is one of my favorites, is the one of Noémi. When I saw her post about a monthly craft box, I was intrigued. We had something alike for a while, but it was a little overwhelming, and I wasn’t so fond of the instructions or the materials. They outgrew themselves anyway, so that subscription was automatically cancelled when they stopped. But I kept my eyes open for something similar (but smaller and cheaper), so when she posted about Pandacraft, I didn’t hesitate for long. Our first box is on the way, we can’t wait! (And I’m secretly hoping, my boy casually picks up my love for the French language )
  • Slow life and homesteading keep pulling me. I don’t plan to move anytimes soon and my veg garden is as neglected as always, but this time I won’t let myself get overwhelmed. For me this post was en eye-opener, because it mentions a lot of steps and skills I want to look further into.
  • And while I’m still not over bottled water, I switched to glass bottles and I’ve started infusing again. As I had to very ripe mangos laying around and a whole bunch of mint, I made mango chutney (recipe to follow) and I used the pits and the mint to infuse my tap water. I actually really liked that one!
infused water with mint and mango

And you? How was your week?

:: Currently ::


Just finished a book one of my students has to read for my class. Inspired by What should I read next, the fabulous podcast of Anne Bogel, I let my students make a list of three things they have loved reading/watching and one element they really can’t stand. Based on that, I handpicked three French books that are fairly recent (so untranslated, which is key), that might spark their attention and let them choose one of them to read. I am reading along with them so we can have a genuine book talk as their oral exam. So far I’ve read three out of seven and enjoyed them all. Even more: I could imagine asking them specific questions on their reading experience. I’m totally giddy about it now and glad I could update my French reading list with three recent lovelies that leave plenty to discuss.

Right now, I’m diving into Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. A few years ago I read her Temeraire series and was hooked. I also thoroughly enjoyed Uprooted, so I’m confident this will be once again a great read. I’m very enthusiastic about the fact that it’s loosely based on a known fairy tale (Rumpelstiltskin). I love literary connections!


Not much, as usual. With soccer on television, I’m not very tempted either. But my husband finished the second season of Westworld and that was one of those series I’ve mostly seen from the corner of my eyes because it really spoke to me. Quite complicated though (that’s probably my own fault, refusing to drop the book while I was watching anyway).


Podcasts mostly. I’ve been looking for some French ones that could spark my attention, but I don’t really know where to start. I am charmed by the slightly geeky Relife. Big part of the fun is the interaction between the two hosts. I think that is what my favorite podcasts have in common: interaction. I tried some individual ones and it felt more like a monologue to me and that wasn’t keeping me interested (especially not if I had the impression of an all too well prepared as in: completely written and then read aloud text.)

And you? What are you reading/listening/watching? I’m always open to suggestions, especially of podcasts to check out!

:: On being handsfree, neglecting attics and beach holiday stress ::

Thursday morning. Early. Not that early, because everybody is already out of the house, but early enough for fresh morning air breezing through the quiet rooms. It’s my hands-free week, youngest at daycare, oldest on a summer camp. In the late afternoon, I pick up two slightly whiny, because overly tired, kids, try to feed them something healthy and stop them from biting each others head off. And I laugh a lot, because, well, they can be funny too.
I had a lot of plans for this week, but on Tuesday decided that I was absolutely not enjoying it – feeling stressed by the to do list, realising that I wouldn’t finish it and get to read and relax all at once. I chose the latter – keeping up with laundry and groceries and that’s about it. Still feeling a bit stressed though – mostly out of guilt. I have to firmly tell myself that I can take this time. Nobody will die if the table in the master bedroom is still full of a gazillion little things to find a place for. And the attic has been a mess for two years, this summer ain’t any different – but it will have to wait. Saving my sanity first.


I did make up a budget though. And, for the first time in ages: explicitly informed my husband about it. Asked him what larger expenses he thought were coming up this month. He asked me to budget a dinner at a nice restaurant. He forgot his card in the ATM – so is without it for the days (knowing him: weeks) to come and actually, that’s a good thing. I gave him some pocket money on his other account and he will have to be happy with that (I’ve been quite generous, in my opinion). To be honest: he is not the big spender, I think I qualify more, but if you add up all those lunches with colleagues, and after work drinks…  Anyhow: he’s informed and that feels good, because he acts on it.


He’s counting the days to our yearly beach holiday. He has done it since childhood and it hasn’t even changed a lot. I’m less convinced, but the children adore it, so I’ll go with the flow. Once they are a bit older, I might get to enjoy it for myself too, now I’m too busy nervously preventing them from drowning or getting lost. I think that last category especially will be a thingy this year, with our youngest. She does as she pleases, so I’ll work on my general fitness I guess, running after her. She isn’t too fond of sand under her feet too, which might be a problem at the beach lol.


So this is where I am at right now. I’l have to leave the house though – buying sunscreen, groceries and to the post office to send back clothing that didn’t fit (booh!). And chain locks for the little gates of our beach house, giving the fact that Girl will be able to open them this year.


And you? What’s up in your neck of the woods lately?

:: Songs of home, again ::

Do you know Down to Earth? It’s a blog by Rhonda Hetzel. I follow her blog since the very beginning of my blogging adventures. During our holiday in France, I finally got to read two of her books: Down to Earth and the Simple Home. While the contents were no surprise and not really new to me, they were fulfilling and in a certain way energising . Suddenly I remembered that the very name of my blog was inspired by how she talks about life at home. It made me crave that kind of contentment. Not in a bad way, but in all the good ways.

The thing is: I never liked chores, I am a project starter, but I hardly ever keep going, I am as disorganised as can be, mainly because I procrastinate on almost everything. But every time I read one of her posts, I feel like I’m slowly but firmly driven in the right direction again. Even if I don’t know what the right direction is, she makes me feel like if I just keep going and doing my best, I’m on it. No judging.

I’ve been mentally writing so many blogposts lately. And then deciding not to put them on screen anyway, because … I don’t know actually. I was thinking about what way I want to take this place, only to figure out I have no clue. So now it’s summer holiday, and I have quite a few weeks to root, to find out, to try and try again. That’s what summers have looked like the last few years. I don’t even find it frustrating. I like how those two months off give me the possibilities to potter around and to enjoy it. Not striving for perfection this time.

Not that I would be able to. The next two weeks, both of the children are home with me. Our boy, five and a half years old, is getting way too much screen time and I am determined to lessen it a little. His dad is not too helpful though (but he’ll be back at work tomorrow). His little sister, almost 2 years old, is just as addicted… to me. Really, I can’t even go to the bathroom for a second, and taking a shower when my husband is not around to carry her out is almost no option. Hopefully I can encourage some proper independent play, for both of them, so at least I can get food on the table.

We’ll see how that goes. I’ll remember to enjoy, to take it easy, to regroup often. Hopefully find the time and the peace of mind to write about it more often. Songs of home, as was the intention from the start.

:: the one that finally survived delete ::

It’s insane how many times I have started a post lately, just to delete it halfway through. Nothing seemed worth telling. Just snaps of my day with no clear silhouette. There is a lot to tell though, those little moments, small thoughts that linger around and keep nestling in my mind. So I thought, let me give you a glimpse of the totally unpolished me. The randomness, the snippets, the completely unimportant importance of it all.


  • Like how my boy, my first-born, had a sleepover at his favorite great-aunt. It was the best thing to do, as he had a day off, I had to work today and my husband is on a five day biking trip. But I don’t like my children to be away from me at night. It was quite peaceful without the “it can’t be bedtime already” struggles, but at the same time there was a little hole in my heart.


  • His sister decided to keep my mind from worrying about it too much and kept me awake the whole night. Really. She had been sleeping rather well the last few weeks (we come out of a horrible sleep-deprived winter and it’s just starting to get better), but not this night. She even ended up in bed with us, something I never do. Not because I’m against it, but because we all sleep even worse when she’s in the big bed. Like tonight. Ugh.


  • It has been glorious hot summer weather. And it ends tomorrow. You know, when I’m home with the kids for the next four days. No escaping.


  • Because of the new tiredness I’m not going out this afternoon. I have three hours left until my boy comes back and my girl is at daycare. I will sleep. And write. And sleep. No grocery shopping. (I might regret that tomorrow, but we’ll make do.) Pancakes make perfect survival material in my opinion. Extra bonus for cheapness.


  • There might be some Masterchef Australia binge watching going on tonight. Just might. If I can manage to not fall asleep before the first onion is cut.


What are your plans for the day?




:: tribe ::

Somehow, spring finally had the chance to show her beautiful face. And last weekend we enjoyed it to the fullest with a family trip to Zeeland, that little piece of paradise just across our border. To be honest, I was nog sure if I would survive the whole packing-for-two-nights with the lack of sleep we’ve been having lately and the grumpy, clingy toddler that comes with it (and when she’s not, she is in overdrive completely). But I did. We’ve payed quite a lot, but had the best weekend with the complete family: my gran, my parents, aunts, uncles, my siblings, alle the cousins, nephews, nieces,…

We had a blast! I came back so energized, feeling so connected and part of a tribe that only now I realize how much I actually need that feeling. I love how relaxed my family is, how everyone is looking after everyone, how the kids naturally mix and connect even if they see each other only twice a year. Always someone to hang out with, to play with, to give you a drink, a sweet, whatever you’d like at the moment. My youngest had a hard time coming back and having to do with a lot less attention, space to run around (and people wawing her dress of course). My oldest found his personal hero and best friend in one of my nephews who is a few years older, but they clicked instantly and now he’s already asking if his new best friend can come over. My heart sings with joy and gratefulness.

It was a very simple weekend, not an extended one, so Monday felt rather stingy. I love my job and my collegues, but no, no tribe there. Luckily there are a few short weeks ahead of us, and then it’s the last run before the final exams, so we’ll manage to struggle through. I’ve had it with this school year already. The good news: only one year of working fulltime ahead of me. Then I switch to teaching less hours for as long as possible. It should give me the opportunity to get more work done at school and leaving out some of the stress that comes from thinking about all I have to prepare for the next day once the children are in bed. I hope that will bring some much needed calm.

:: Reflections on Sunday – the digital edition ::

This morning is the first morning in like forever I wake up to a silent house. Both of our children are staying somewhere else, and while that would have been the perfect chance to sleep in, I don’t. Even more: actually I am some kind of waiting for the call that I can pick up my baby girl. I could should get dressed and I could should do some school work. But for over a week now there has been that nagging thought that I want to write. That I don’t care I have been silent here for so long, that this is my spot, my happy place and the time I spend here is well spent.

I’ve been feeling stressed lately. I have taken up some extra responsibilities at school, and family life is completely ignoring the fact that I should do some school work at home too. So I try to cram everything in the few empty hours at school, being as productive as I can. It has worked so far, but when I look at the calendar for next week, I feel a little dizzy.

Some of the good things lately:


  • Evernote. Since long I’ve decided to take a premium account. I probably don’t need it, but it feels good to be on the safe side, especially now that I have a phone that allows me to scan newspaper articles. Most newspaper side go all digital, but as I use those articles in class, I can’t get them to print properly in that format. Taking a picture of the actual newspaper with the Evernote app has solved the problem: great quality, and text that is formatted for print. And while snapping away, I can add course material and links and all that I like, so basically it’s the best addition I could have made to my course material. Now I feel like I am finally using the news in a way I haven’t done before. And my students seem to appreciate. Double win!


  • Shared calendars. FINALLY my husband took the time to dust our shared calendar and integrate it in his workflow calendar. That was about time – I was getting nuts of writing everything down and telling him the planning for the week about a gazillion times because he couldn’t care less for the paper planner we have on our wall. The only thing that seems to work with both of our systems is the Google Calendar, so that’s what we use. (Besides: I do like the schedule view their app offers. Especially since they suddenly added a little drawing when I planned my yoga classes, it really looks professional.)