The F Word

Feminism.

I’m sure a vast majority would never call me the poster child for feminism and would say I have little right other than my gender to speak on the topic, myself included. I grew up thinking that I shouldn’t be bossy. I was rarely one to take the lead, unless I felt overtly passionate about a subject. Even now as an adult, a wife, and a mother, I find myself quiet on topics that I find I can let go when looking at the bigger picture. I pick and choose my battles. I think that’s just part of growing up, and you just hope at the end of the day you’re not on the winning side, but the one that is right morally.

It took having not just a daughter but also a son to really bring me into feminism. I have tried to raise my kids with eyes wide open to prejudice and inequality not just for themselves but those around them, and I’ll be honest, there were bias that I hadn’t even realized I turned a blind eye to before having kids. Never for a moment would I let them believe it was okay to see someone as less or even greater than themselves based on prejudice, even if that prejudice is gender.

All that being said, I’m also a “kept woman.” (That’s the nicer of terms I’ve been labelled staying at home while my husband works.) What I see as a partnership that has spanned almost a decade with my husband that now allows me to be a stay-at-home mother to our two kids, many see as me being bought and paid for. I could sit and list the tasks I try to complete on a daily basis, but the list of things I don’t seem to have time for is nearly twice as long. (Honestly, I shouldn’t even be blogging, which is why, if you look, you will see this part of my life is sorely neglected.)

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Not usually the view I show the world-Chipped nails, no makeup, crazed hair, and passed out while my husband is trying to talk to me. 

Most of the time I just feel worn out. I feel like I have given a piece of myself up to be a mother and spouse. So much so that I sometimes find myself forgetting my own name. I’m just “Mama” or “Addy Osmani’s Wife.”

I’m not complaining. Those are my favorite titles in the world, I’d have to say. I am so proud of my husband and children. I am their biggest fan. I sit in the front row. I take pictures, and I lug around all their crap from event to event.  I cook, I clean, I garden, and I chauffeur. I sit through doctor and dentist appointments. I worry about them all constantly, and I love them more than reason. Even though sometimes I feel overworked and underpaid, the benefits are so great that I couldn’t imagine a career in anything else.

Osmani

#ThrowbackTeamOsmani

Recently I was at an event with my husband. It was kind of a big deal. It was the first one I had been to in a great many years, through circumstance at first, but then as the years went by and his “stardom” (or twitter followers) rose, I became more and more intimidated to attend. Sure, I had been the one to harp on him to finish his thesis for Uni, and I encouraged him to go after his “dream job,” but when it comes down to it, when my husband is on stage, I barely understand a fraction of what he’s talking about. I couldn’t tell you the difference between JavaScript Design Patterns and China Patterns. He dedicated a book to me about these patterns, the JavaScript ones, not the other racially insensitive ones- and I honestly have tried and tried and TRIED to get through it, but I can’t. Not even the first chapter, but I do know that it is beautifully written, and I cherish it.

When I am around his colleagues a lot of times people will ask if I code, and when I say that I do not, they are curious how we met, because I am an anomaly in his world, as he is in mine. We laugh when people ask if I’m in the tech industry. Not to make fun of the person asking or even me, but the idea is very silly to us both, because I am the least tech savvy person you may meet next to your own grandmother. I once attempted to delete System Windows32, but in my defense it was in add/remove programs, it said it was rarely used and taking up a lot of room. (true story) I mean, I have my good qualities. I can make you a pie from scratch or paint you a picture. I break things, and I make things. It evens out.

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I make things.

So, I walked around the event in search of swag to send to a childhood friend that is a huge fan of my husband and also had hopes of finding something child appropriate for the kinder. I stayed away from the fray, because not everyone has the patience to talk to a n00b. That’s when I found a sticker I had been searching for ever since my tablet died, and it refused to be removed.

BINGO! I could have squeed. I may have. I stopped worrying that people were looking at me, knowing I was a total fraud and had no idea what they were talking about, although I listened to each pitch and brought home my husband a bag full of literature to go through.

I was so happy and excited that I forgot being insecure around all these tech gurus, and I asked if I could have not one but two. I know, I know. Greedy, but a girl can never be too careful. (Am I really the only one that has bought a second pair of my favorite shoes, that hide in the closet, waiting for the next blowout?)

When the young woman scanned my badge, she looked at the company listed and asked what I did there, and I made the bad joke of being married to an employee.

I explained the mistake-

My husband works there and to get my badge printed, he typed in his company name while my hands were full. (The badge had printed, and I knew my fate was sealed. That I would be trying to correct people all day, so I tried to explain through fancy networking ribbons.)

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She asked where I did work.

I sheepishly said that I was a stay-at-home mom.

They have those in the tech industry?” She laughed hysterically at my expense. “Don’t tell any women in tech that, because they’ll find it offensive.” She chuckled a little more.

Her words cut me like a knife, and while an older male colleague of hers started in about ageism in the industry, my ears started buzzing. It felt like a punch in the gut, because it brought up all those doubts I had about myself over the years to give up working every day or taking care of my family as a full time job.

My self worth diminished in that moment, I turned away and soon left. Ironically I was on my way to listen to keynote talks about diversity, inclusion, and community. I actually felt like an outsider looking in as they went on, and my recent interactions stewed inside of me until I was slightly shaky from anxiety, but those with unseen illnesses like anxiety and depression (although that’s a whole other blog post entirely) will empathize with me all too deeply when I say that I can plaster a smile on and act like I don’t have a care in the world. It’s an exhausting affair, but I grew up on the phrase “fix your face.”

I still couldn’t believe a woman in any industry would treat another woman like that, but especially a woman in a field that is already facing its own battle with sexism. My daughter aspires to work in mathematics or business, and I kept thinking, what if she had heard that? What if either of my kids had heard it?

Would they think less of me as a mother? Less of a feminist? A woman? Less of a person?

Would they grow up and think less of those that dedicate their lives to raising families and greater of those that have careers?

I learned to type twenty five years ago. I was the only 2nd grader in summer school keyboarding class. I took it by mistake. My mom told me I could learn to play the keyboard, but I’m pretty determined, so they got me a big phone book to sit on, and I was at 35 wpm before I knew it. They said I was adorable, and I’d make a great secretary one day. As luck would have it, I got an electronic typewriter before I ever had access to my own “family” computer.  Today I can type faster than the great Addy Osmani, but that’s about as far as my typing skills have taken me.

Today my daughter can not just learn to type, but she can learn to code and take robotics in the 7th grade! That blows my mind and makes my Grinch heart swell three sizes. That people look at my daughter and see the same potential as my son is amazing to me, because I didn’t grow up in that society. I hope that one day they grow up in a world that is blind to race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender.

At least that’s my dream. I think as a mom we all hope for a perfect world for our children.

I’m not naming this woman or the company she works for or even the event, because my goal is not to shame another woman. I feel there has been enough of that for one day, thank you. I merely want to point out to women in all industries and walks of life that we can stand together, or we can tear ourselves apart, but if we can’t treat each other with respect, how can we expect the rest of the world to respect us.

 

I would tell her to walk a mile in my shoes.

 

That’s the only response I could croak out to that young woman without crying like an idiot.

I feel so many women don’t even realize this country is more than 220 years old and women have been able to vote for less than 100 years, because we were seen as “less than.”

I implore any women reading this to just be kind to one another. Compliment each other. Inspire others. Support one another.

The world is tough enough on our gender without us being hard on each other.

xoxo

L.

 

P.S. Sorry for the insanely long post, but even though Twitter was little quiet on my tweet, but it lacked GIFs or hashtags of my usual tweets. When it posted to my facebook page , some people wanted an explanation beyond the 140 characters I was allowed on Twitter. So, for the TL;DR you can check out that tweet.


Hello, My Name is Elle

And I am a bookaholic.

book-drunkard

If I am a crazy old lady that ends up on Hoarders it will be for my castle made of books.

There’s actually a book store in LA that I want to visit with my family sometime. Because I am the type of person who goes on vacation to read. Srsly tho. Click that link and put that on your bucket list.

It’s been one week since my last binge read. The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series. My eyes ache, and my soul is a little empty, because I have to wait at least three more months for the new series to come out. AHH. Tolkien had a word for it. Mythopoeia. As much as I am loathe to admit that Stephanie Meyer is right…Cassandra Clare does create a world you want to live in. Well, at least, a world in which I would want to live, where mundanes like me can rest easy, because angels walk among us, fighting our demons for us.

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I am also the type of person that will fall in love with an already cancelled show, so I watch until just a few episodes before the end, so that it’s still going in my mind. I suppose I’m that way with books. Sometimes I will read a book so slowly or not finish the last chapter, because in my mind, the story continues. (Ironically, the Never Ending Story is on that list.) It’s been this way for Go Set A Watchman. I know that for certain there will never be another Harper Lee novel, and I am treating this book like the long lost treasure it is.

To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book. It is a piece of literature that has touched the depths of my soul. I will say this. That if ever in the pages of a book, a white knight resided, Atticus Finch would be mine.

And if I gave a voice to Scout. It would be that of Reese Witherspoon. I have got to buy the audiobook! Because even when I’m not reading a book…I’m still reading a book. Or rather, having one read to me.

Alas, it’s the middle of the night, and I am writing and not reading, PROGRESS! Even if it’s just writing about reading…

Love and Mockingbirds,

L

xoxo


There Are Two Types of People: I’m The Annoying One

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Oh, Christmas. I love you, and you exhaust me. Whatever made me think getting married three days before Christmas was a great idea…I don’t know. Maybe it was Magic Mommy Juice.

There are some people that bah-humbug the holiday, and that’s fine. Just don’t rain on my Adoration Day Parade. They had a Light Up ceremony that was akin to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree in terms of celebration on this side of the pond. I miss driving through the lights with the kids. Sometimes three times in a row. Nothing beats Silver Dollar City at Christmastime. Is it any wonder that I love Christmas? I did personalized Christmas ornaments as my profession for three seasons and worked at a year round Christmas shop. It’s really no wonder that my Instagram is filled with holiday decorations. Tis the season.

It also means sending twenty Christmas cards, half a dozen packages, and ten shoe boxes.  The shoe boxes sounds like a lot, but I wish I could have done ten times that number. I wish I could volunteer at soup kitchens and read to kids in the hospital. I am only one person, though.

I grew up in a small Baptist church environment. Some years when I thought I wouldn’t have much of a holiday at all, they showed me the true meaning of Christmas.

Now I try to give back as much as I can, and it often leaves me drained. It’s why I can’t shop the month of December. I reserve that time for baking. Nearly 20 loaves of banana bread for the school faculty and friends/neighbors…banana bread again? Yes, I am actually being lazy. I don’t want to bake 20 dozen cookies. I also have to make four dozen cupcakes for the school bake sale this year. I don’t even wanna think of Christmas Eve dinner or my son’s birthday twelve days after Christmas. A Grinch could not do it. Would not do it. That’s okay.

Because I was a crazy woman that got married seven years ago, three days before Christmas. That is a day that I try to silence the holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid…Kwanza, whatever that may be (if you know without Wikipedia, feel free to try and find the comment button–I think this stupid layout put it at the top of the post)…that’s the day I focus on my husband. Sure, he gets other days. Valentine’s, His Birthday, and Father’s Day…but I married a Grinch. His favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard. He is all bah humbug until he opens his gifts on Christmas morning. Kinda like my dad.

He needs that couple of days before Christmas to keep his head from exploding.

I think we both do.

But especially him. I mean, he married me.

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This year I am planning our anniversary festivities. I can barely keep the awesome secrets inside. It’s going to be epic. I’ll have to blog about it in a couple of weeks, or I will surely explode! Let’s just say. I might be the annoying type of person, but sometimes there is a fine line between annoying and awesome.

 

Love and Maple Syrup,

L

xoxo

 


The Best Ever Gluten-Free Banana Bread!

Elle's Awesome GF Banana Bread

Elle’s Awesome GF Banana Bread

Okay, to some people, it might not be the “best ever” per say…but it’s my favorite recipe. People seem to really like it. If you actually read my blog, which is unlikely, but if you do, then you know that I just said that after baking I never feel like blogging. That’s true usually, but this is while it’s still quiet in the house. The kids aren’t awake yet, the neighbors haven’t pulled out their power tools, and I’m enjoying the silence and a cup of coffee. This is before the four yapping dogs, drills, saws, and my bickering children have had a chance to crush my spirit for the day. Besides, the website where I originally found this recipe is down. I had to have my husband search the dark spaces of the internet for a cached copy, so that I could write it down (and tweak it a little).

For people who already know how to bake and don’t appreciate my witty monologue, trust me, I understand. In a couple of hours, I’m going to have two kids in the house who don’t care how it magically appeared. They will just want to consume my offerings and go numb their minds with some form of technology. Such is the life of tweens. (Editor’s note: I am not a bad parent, or at least the worst. Most of my kids’ games have been educational and non-violent. They also love reading. I’m not suggesting they are going to play DOOM or Grand Theft Auto while facebooking and tweeting.)

So, I’ll cut to the chase. Post the recipe here, and then go through it for clarification for some people who might not understand certain terms or know what substitutions can be made. People, say, perhaps a software engineer who might tell his wife that he can bake, but ever since the Great Cookie Debacle of ’07, she might tend to believe otherwise. (I’m lookin’ at you, Osmani.) He is a web wizard, though. If your ‘ key suddenly stops working, as mine did earlier, he will fix ‘er right up. If you need a caked iced, though, he’s more likely to lick the spoon when you’re finished than help. I know a lot of people who will see how long it takes to make this recipe or the ingredients, and they will feel intimidated and not try or just “wing” it. For those people, I’ll give a few tips at the bottom, but for people who know how to bake, I’ll shut up and get on with it.

Elle’s Awesome GF Banana Bread

(My recipe, so I get to name it.)

Ingredients:

(Dry Ingredients)

1 1/4 c. Gluten Free Flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. xantham gum

1 c. sugar

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

(Wet Ingredients)

2 eggs

2 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 c. coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C

Prepare bread pan

Melt and cool coconut oil

Mash bananas with a fork. Mix wet ingredients along with the sugars together with hand mixer until combined.

Measure the remaining dry ingredients in separate bowl. Whisk until cinnamon, salt, xantham gum, and baking powder are incorporated into the flour.

Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix with hand mixer until combined.

Pour into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy! Should make 1 loaf. ❤

Now, for the some people that might look at some of this like:

jackie-chan-confused

I mean, why is sugar a dry ingredient, but is almost always mixed with the wet ones? I don’t know. I’ll tell you what my Grams always tells me…because I said so, that’s why.

Some people don’t think pre-heating the oven is important. It takes a few minutes for the oven to heat up. You want your food to cook thoroughly and for it to come out at the correct time. Some people would say: I know that, I’m not an idiot. You would be surprised. I find myself forgetting to turn the oven on first sometimes. Usually before my first pot of coffee…

The difference between greased and prepared is pretty simple. A greased pan is coated with an oil. I prefer to use butter when I am baking (making sure to get into the corners really well.) I just think it works nicely and tastes better than trying to use say…olive oil. A prepared pan is greased, then you tap flour around the inside (cocoa powder if you are making something chocolate, like brownies or a cake) until it’s lightly dusted. Even though the oil I use in this recipe is coconut oil, I still prepared/greased the pan with butter (note: allow the butter to “soften” a little before you use it), and although this recipe only makes one loaf, I greased an extra pan to show the difference.

Greased vs. Prepared

Greased vs. Prepared

Now, when it comes to the coconut oil. I usually measure it out into a glass measuring cup, then I can just microwave it at 30 second intervals, adding a little oil if needed, as I go. This is the WARNING: that I write on my recipe cards, so that even I won’t forget it. Make sure the oil is cooled before you add it! Otherwise, it will scramble your eggs. Literally. You don’t want your eggs to start cooking until they are in the oven.

Not So Pro Tip: In the picture the eggs are in my other glass measuring cup (if you look closely you can see I have one for the US and one for the UK). I was taught to crack my eggs in a separate container, so that if you crack an egg with say a “gross little surprise” inside, it won’t go messing up all the ingredients you already have in the bowl. Also, it makes it easier to pick out shells.

Eggs & Oil

I’m sure you could try to an egg substitute if you wanted to make this a vegan gluten-free recipe. We like eggs, milk, and meat in this house, but the head of the household can’t handle his gluten. (I’m lookin’ at you, Osmani.) You could also use melted and cooled butter, sunflower, or canola oil instead of coconut oil. (It goes without saying that the sunflower and canola oils are already melted and cooled, but I’m saying it.) I like coconut oil in this recipe, because I think coconut oil is better for you, and the slight trace of coconut flavor compliments the banana more than it would say, fried chicken.

I find myself having to substitute quite often, but google it first, don’t go guessing all willy-nilly. I left the gluten free flour up to the imagination a little bit. There are a few types of GF flour. I use a blend. I would not compromise or omit the xantham gum if I were you, though. A lot of gluten-free baked goods are dry or crumbly. This is the ingredient that gives it that faux-gluten texture in my opinion.

When it comes to the bananas, make sure they are ripe. Try not to bake with green bananas. Brown ones are great. I like to buy the discounted brown bananas at the grocery store, peel them, and throw them in a bag in the freezer to use for pancakes, muffins, bread, and smoothies.

Here’s another little tip that I learned when I first started baking. Another, oh, yeah, that’s totally obvious tip. Don’t measure your ingredients into the cups/spoons over top of your mixture. Measure out over another bowl or plate, so that if you go overboard, you don’t have to adjust all your ingredients accordingly. For sugar this isn’t as bad as say accidentally spilling a tablespoon of salt into the recipe.

I could just tell you this, but I am adding a photo to show off my heart shaped measuring cups, because they are pretty.

<3 Measuring

And here comes the heart-shaped whisk (but if you aren’t fab enough for the heart shaped whisk, you can use a fork). Make sure the flour, baking powder, salt, and xantham gum are blended before you add them to the wet mixture, so they are evenly distributed. You don’t want a clump of salt in your food.

<3 Whisk

Don’t over mix the bananas with the hand mixer. The original recipe said you could combine everything in the blender or food processor, but I like to make things harder on myself. Which is why I mixed everything by hand, because I like to be difficult and forgot to remind myself before my first cup of coffee about the arthritis in my hands and wrists. Ususally, though, I use a hand mixer for this recipe.

Not So Pro Tip: When you put the bread into the oven, put it on a middle rack, so that you don’t over bake the top of the bottom. I have a tiny British oven, so I put it on the middle rack for 45 minutes, then check the bread, usually moving it down to a lower rack for the last 10-15 mins, so that the top/edges don’t burn.

Since the pan was prepared beforehand, it should pop right out of the pan after you pull it from the oven. I put my bread on a wire cooling rack, but it barely had a chance to say hello to the air and let me take a picture before it was gobbled up. This is a family and friend favorite recipe. If you found out before now that I don’t actually eat the banana bread, you might have stopped earlier and said “screw this.” It’s a great recipe. People love it (I have one friend who seems to ask me every Sunday at church when I’m going to bring her some more), but I prefer cookies.  *insert winky face*

I hope that I helped people who might need to eat Gluten-Free but think they can’t bake much more than a frozen pizza. It’s not as hard as it looks/sounds. Promise.

So, Good Night Day and Good Luck.

Love and Loaves,

L

xoxo


Silly Blogs With Leigh-Leigh

I hope that reminds someone of Veggie Tales.

I know I have a Water Buffalo.

Right. So, this blog is dedicated to my seven year old daughter, Heaven Leigh, and I have called her Leigh Leigh for as long as I can remember. Heaven, she insists, is very much like her father. A little devious. “Mad Evil Genius,” he would say.

Her first devious after school act was committed curled up on a chair with a library journal with an evil little giggle. Anytime I came near her, she hid the notebook, and her end result… You know, when I saw it, I thought, it’s like a mini Adnan Osmani came up with that.

When I saw it, she laughed and laughed, but then again, so did I, laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

Suddenly, she stops laughing and says, “Mama,  you have to put this online, so you can get a million hits. You will be famous. Even more than Daddy!” I chuckle at her. Me? Famous. I don’t think so. My husband has two books and more than twenty thousand twitter followers. Me? I bounce between fifty eight and sixty two. She’s an optimist for sure. Over thirty thousand stalkers on his blog and I barely have a few hundred.  Enough about who is more awesome than who (it’s me, clearly). I’m actually very proud of my husband, and who do you think pushes him all the time? Well, I wouldn’t say a push, sometimes all someone needs to succeed is a nudge- someone to believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves.

I wouldn’t even be writing a blog right now if Leigh Leigh didn’t ask me to. I’ve got to pack two children to move to London in what feels like virtually no time at all! To say I’ve been frazzled is an understatement. I can barely write my own name, let alone a blog, but I’m taking time out between laundry and other late night clean up activities to introduce to you, my seven year old, Heaven Leigh Osmani, the devious, yet adorable, Mad Evil Genius.

My Family By Heaven Osmani

The part that made me laugh was her depiction of her father. Spitting image. For that I’ll get a face-palm, I’m sure.

There you have it, Leigh Leigh’s million hit Silly Blog. I love my kids so freakin’ much! I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

She really did put a lot of effort into it and used me as a spell check for some words (she, however, prides herself on knowing the difference between but and butt), colored her art work, and wrote an endearing little message. She deserves her own blog.  Someday when she’s older.

Love and Growing Pains,

L & LL

xoxo


Gotta Hand It To Antwerpen: Belgium and Back (Part Deux)

Elle in Antwerpen

I know. I’m so punny.

I planned on writing this second part far earlier than this, but it’s a crazy month with at least twelve family birthdays, my husband’s and mine included. Among other things. Like starting the Leap Year off with a tornado.

Now lets take the DeLorean for a spin back to November. A surprisingly calming time, despite the chaos of a trip across the ocean, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday shopping all in one week. (Yes, I am one of those insane people that waited in line for hours for a three dollar waffle maker. Actually, it was a ten dollar Crock Pot.)

Back to Belgium –

We went to the city a couple of times for we left. Where did I really want to go? The Aquarium.

Why? Because my husband is amazing (sometimes- don’t want him to get a bigger head than he already has), and he fulfills those childhood memories that I never got around to making. I’ve also never been to the zoo, but he’s saving the London Zoo for my first time. 

He also took me on my first train ride. It wasn’t the Orient Express, but it was still a train ride. I live ten minutes from an actual train station, and I have for about fifteen years. Despite that little detail, I didn’t go on a train until I went to London in 2010. I know, I’m super lame in the face. I do things like hang out backstage to see Sum 41, hang out with Gallagher at the Landing, and I like to hang out with magicians…these are not very impressive details to a general audience. It’s okay. I’m aware of my own lamedom. You have to own who you are.

Yes, it’s right next to China Town. >_<

Okay, so that’s not the best photo from Aquatopia, but it’s my favorite. I could make a whole blog dedicated to the aquarium Let me just say that it’s a great place to visit. You can bring your kids or your dog. Or your ball and chain… You’ll have fun. Get some great photos and make some memories. I definitely say check it out if you’re there.

Now, some things were planned activities, aside from ones having to do with jQuery-  (Again, if someone linked to this blog because of my husband, I apologize. No, I know nothing about JavaScript or jQuery, and I don’t speak binary. I’ll tell you Al Gore invented the internet just to jerk your chain. I’m a writer of things that don’t really matter to most people, and I’m completely content with that.)

Such activities did not include being in a protest. After grabbing some amazing deals at some sales, we walk out to see a group of hippies and semi regular looking people marching and chanting in Dutch. I know enough about human nature to know it was definitely a protest. So, we joined in to see where they were going with it. They were playing instruments made of sticks, balloons, and a homemade looking drum. Being that we got to Antwerp during a Dutch holiday weekend, Addy was convinced that it was a parade or some sort of festivity.

…but I thought Belgium didn’t have a government? Who are they protesting to?

I know, I’m usually right. Girls usually are. To the ladies, boys will never learn. To the gentlemen, you’re in a constant state of denial…but it’s okay. I’m accepting of this. It’s like how women are completely insane. I’m aware of this in a million different ways, but I can’t change it. That’s like me trying to be black. There’s no reverse Michael Jackson for that. In a lot of ways, you can’t change yourself, even if you want to. We are who we are. Own it.

Now, back to this trip, before this becomes the most annoyingly long of my posts by far…

One thing I really enjoyed were the creative window displays.

My favorite?

What’s up, Bra?

Yes, it’s a dress made from braziers in a lingerie shop window. My husband liked the metallic Marge Simpson in the window of the hair salon, but it’s my blog, not his, and my next picture will redeem me in his eyes.

Belgian street art…

Street Art

Okay, now I look like a lameface. Why? I know nothing of European comics. I grew up to Family Circus, Garfield, and the Peanuts in the Sunday funnies. I grew up with Inspector Gadget and even Matthew Broderick couldn’t make that worth watching. I do know that he’s beloved in Europe as Blue’s Clues is to North America.-

I don’t care if I saw Steve Burns in real life, I’d make him sing We Just Got A Letter.

At any rate, my husband thought that this cartoon was TinTin and begged me to take a photo of it with my camera. Turns out someone corrected me, which I welcome. My husband will object, saying I need to be right, but honestly, I don’t mind being wrong. It just so happens that in his case, I’m usually right. ;-D

Right…

Where was I?

At this point, I wonder if it’s not worth posting just a bunch of random photos or a slideshow. It’s getting late, and I have an early, big day tomorrow.

WWHSTD?

What Would Hunter S. Thompson Do?

Probably drop some acid, huff some ether, and stay up all night. Also, write something far more entertaining than this that would contain at least one hallucination. Unfortunately, that’s not even in the realm of possibilities for me.

Brothas.

I could’ve posted a couple of pictures of the beautiful architecture, art, music, or any girl’s best friend…the diamond district, but that wouldn’t be me. That would make sense.

I do know that if you’re American, you won’t starve. There’s a pizza place on every corner, Europe is not without Aldi grocery stores, and I even got to eat at a Chili’s. Fajitas and cherry bubbly alcoholic drinks  for the win! The people are lovely. The place is lovely. I definitely wouldn’t mind going back, but I really have my heart set on the Canary Islands for my next vacation.

Love and Fajitas,

L

xoxo


To Belgium and Back (Part 1)

L and O

This past long over-due winter break I went to Antwerp, Belgium with my husband, who was speaking at Devoxx and attending the jQuery summit online. No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in any other life, I probably wouldn’t either.

The point is Elle hit Europe, but were they ready?

We actually stayed in Ekeren, we went into the city for Devoxx, sightseeing and shopping. I decided to break the first part of this blog into Ekeren photos, because there are far too many pictures and things to blog about as it is.

My favorite place to eat.

Now some might judge them for how they spelled Chinese, but not me. Those girls spoke Chinese, French, Dutch, and English. Amazing. You go to a Chinese restaurant in Branson, and they act like they don’t speak Chinese or English. I love the tolerance of other people. They say that Europeans hate Americans. Maybe the Brits, I find that to be a tiny bit true. However, you have no idea how many Dutch conversations a sweet smile and a polite, “I’m sorry, I’m American” got me out of with a small chuckle an apology. It’s almost like when I get a flat, and I call roadside assistance. “I’m sorry, I’m a girl,” it works every time.

Preggers Belgian Barbie

Sounds crazy, and I’m more than a little crazy, but this was one of my favorite finds of the trip. Just sitting on the shelf with all the other Barbie and Justin Bieber dolls, Knocked Up Belgian Barbie, and she even gives birth to a tiny baby. Totally creepy? Maybe, but highly hilarious. Two thumbs up.

No Doggy Doo

Is this vulgar? Possibly, but it also had me rolling. It was probably the beers I’d had before that, but seeing this sign gave me a serious case of the LOLs. I found it on the side of a building in a seemingly sketch part of town.

Leopold II, King of the Belgians

In my neck of Ekeren, I didn’t find many actual sights per say, but I did find this lovely church and statue of Leopold II. Not the greatest guy if you lived in the Congo in the late 1800s, but the Belgians liked him well enough, I suppose.

That concludes my pictures of Markt Ekeren. I was only there a little over a week, so I didn’t do the greatest amount of exploring, and as my husband reminded me, it was a business semi vacation sort of trip. On the bright side, I finally got to finish 1984 by George Orwell, and it was just as brilliant as I imagined it to be. Not much more I could say about Ekeren. My husband would scold me for not mentioning Jump-Inn, his favorite restaurant, but as I said, it was his favorite, and this is my blog.

*insert silly winky face*

Until next time…

Love and Leopold,

L

xoxo