OM all day…

Ah, Tuesdays…where I have class from 2:30-10:30.  Yes, so long!!!  Unfortunately today it is the same class the whole 8 hours.  Usually it is split up, but not today…that means Operations Management all day…wowza.

I had the pleasure of making this again!  I realized I had another can o’ pumpkin in the cupboard.  This time I added some raisin’s and cereal to the mix.  I’m really liking the crunchy-ness of cereal with the creamy-ness of oatmeal.

Of course, my red cup is close by...

After breakfast, I ran a couple errands.  I rarely take things to the dry cleaners here, but had to take some sweaters.  Guess how much they will cost…6.35 euro/sweater.  OMG – do you realize what that is in USD?!  Like $8 something!  I also went to update my “awesome” pay as you go phone.  I can now call out and send texts – welcome to the 21st century Sarah.

Today I had the pleasure of having a work-out buddy!  My friend from the US met me at the gym and we did some elliptical and some treadmill workouts.  Time flies at the gym with other people!  I still think that people at the gym stare at us when we are talking in English…it might just be in my head, but I really don’t think so!

Anyway, I wanted to share this recipe from the other night – it was delish.

Salsa Chicken: (adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup salsa
  • shredded cheese (any kind you fancy)
This is super easy.  Preheat your oven to 190C (375F).  Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish (spray with PAM).  Then, sprinkle/coat the chicken with the taco seasoning (I only used 1/4 of the bag).  Pour the salsa over both chickens.  Heat in the oven for about 30 minutes (depending on how big your chickens are)!  Then, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Heat again for about 5 minutes (until cheese is melted)!
*I served alongside some sauteed veggie’s and tortilla chips!
We both LOVED the flavor/spicy-ness…of course, we miss Mexican like no other!

YUM!

We both only ate 1/2 as these were HUGE.  I had the rest for leftovers today!
***Yes, I’ve put up some of the Holiday decor!  Don’t judge me…they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here so I feel like decor before Thanksgiving is widely acceptable.
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London, baby!!!

LONDON, BABY!  Anyone remember when Joey Tribbiani said that over and over during the Friends London trip?!?!

Joey = Me, Chandler = Joe

Source

I AM SO EXCITED to be going to London this afternoon!  Many pics to come I’m sure!

But first, let’s finish our wonderful trip in Banbury, UK (about 30 minutes from Oxford).  Let me start by telling you that everyone here has been SO friendly!  Everyone says hi, good morning, how are you, etc.  I get a lot of “isn’t it lovely today” or “how are you love” or “is the hotel treating you right?”  It’s amazing and so different from Gent!  (Not that Gent people are mean – they just don’t interact with strangers).

So – we had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful hotel in the city center, Whately Hall.  We’ve had excellent service and as I mentioned the other day, the included breakfast is great!

Sorry for the pic quality!

Most of my days here (unfortunately) have been spent writing my paper in our hotel room.  Who doesn’t want to write about descriptive statistics, box plots, and correlations/covariances?!  Yes, fun I know.

My days..oops Perez in the background & not my paper?!

I found the cutest coffee and sandwich shop close to the hotel (unfortunately I don’t know the name).  She was SO friendly and made the most delicious grilled veggie and hummus sandwich.  We got to talking and I tried to make it seem like I knew British english.  BOY, that didn’t last long.  I tossed in the word “quid” for money…and she was like, um, you mean cash?  Fail.

I also took a break yesterday to go to a spin class.  OMG.  I have not done one of these since the USA (I’m really not up for gym classes in Dutch in Gent).  At times I thought I was going to die…ok, not really, but it was TOUGH.  I haven’t sweat that much since my half marathon in 2010.  It was awesome and is definitely making me miss the YMCA in Milwaukee!

Ok, anyway, last night Joe and I went out to dinner (for another paper writing break – see a trend).  We went to a nearby hotel, The Cromwell.  IT WAS DELISH.  Check out our meal below!

Appy: Blue cheese stuff mushrooms!

Appy: Duck & hoison spring rolls

Joe: Chicken fajita's (yes, I had food-envy when I saw his)

Me: Side salad - funny there are potatoes?

Me: Veggie & potato soup

A great meal!  We finished the night by catching up on New Girl, Revenge, and Modern Family! AWESOME!

Question of the Day

Will a USA Starbucks work at the Gent Starbucks?  We shall find out soon…:-)

We stayed in and relaxed last night – caught up on our many Itunes purchases!  We are LOVING the new show Revenge, Rules of Engagement, Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family.  Of course, I caught up on Vampire Diaries too (duh)!  Hello Ian.

This morning I woke up refreshed and starving.

Perezhilton is on in the background! 🙂

I proceeded to get organized and enjoyed doing nothing this Saturday morning (besides drinking my OMG coffee).  I opened our mail and found this little gem.

A little note from my Gma Sue!

How cute is that?!  Joe and I then made a trip to the gym.  We both pounded out a long run on the treadmill…ah, felt so good.  On to lunch…

PB&J toast! Simps.

And…finally, we are off to the center.  I’m thinking Starbucks for dessert…hoping the line isn’t toooo long!

 

Choco Chip and Oatmeal Bars!

I got up early this morning to do a quick workout (Hello, Jillian!) and some baking before I headed off to my friend’s house for the day!

I still had this leftover from my trip to the USA!

How I miss Betty Crock!

I really want to make the cookie’s, but realized that my cookie sheet I bought (for our old apartment) does not fit into my teeny, tiny combo oven.  Sigh.  So, I made bars instead…and honestly, am I glad I did!  I LOVE the thickness and the gooey consistency! 🙂  I think Joe did too…I heard a “mmmhhh, wow, amazing” coming from the kitchen once he got home!

Yea - these won't (ahem, didn't) last long!

Like I said, I headed over to my friend’s house for the day!  As I was walking there, I had to stop for some pictures since it was just such a beautiful (albeit, chilly) fall morning.  The weather site said 4 degrees celsius to which my jaw dropped.  I immediately had to look up what that was in fahrenheit (about 40 degrees).  I’m sticking with fahrenheit – 4 degrees is just psychologically so much worse!

LOVE the "row-like" houses here along the river!

Leaves are starting to change!

We had a LOT of catching up to do!  We both had trips to the US to talk about as well as new food recipes, shopping, etc.  PLUS, she is going to teach me how to sew a skirt and a jacket so we had to discuss the styling and fabric.  I’m a bit skeptical at my “skills” in this area, but she ensures me it will be easy!  Next week we will begin the sewing…yay!  My goal is to impress my fam with a cute skirt over the holidays…ha!

She made a DELICIOUS lunch for us!  Home-made pumpkin soup!  The pumpkin was from her OWN garden (very organic)! 🙂  I will definitely attempt to make this myself – roasted pumpkin + garlic + a little olive oil + pepper + stock!  Simply delicious (as you know pumpkin is one of my fave flavors)!

Cute table setting!

Loved the freshly ground pepper!

And of course, our lunch was not complete without a little dessert.  I brought along the oatmeal/choco chip bars and she had made cupcakes with a delicious buttercream frosting.

Helped myself to a little bit of both!

A great day!!

Back to the routine!

Back to the routine…and it feels so good!

This is the first day I feel totally normal and adjusted to the time change.  SO glad because I can start my normal routine again: Blog, Workout, Lunch, Study, Dinner, etc!

So…my breakfast was a quick one before I headed to the gym!  I was VERY excited to workout since I’ve been slacking a lot lately.  A long run on the treadmill felt soooo good (afterward of course – not during)!

Thx for the Almond Butter Jon! 🙂

For lunch, I met up with my American friend, Lisa.  We had a LOT to catch up on!  We hadn’t seen each other since August since our trips to the USA overlapped.  We compared/shared our thoughts on being in the USA and being back “home” in Belgium.  Here are a couple common themes:

  • So glad to be back into a normal routine after vacay!
  • We love and miss our family and friends in the USA every day, but are excited to have friends in Belgium too.
  • Visiting the USA is not what one would call a “relaxing” trip!  Definitely have some learnings for next trip…
  • There is nothing like the town you grew up in…
  • Laundry in America is awesome – I will never complain about it there ever again.
  • Being able to drive is a serious luxury and the independence you feel with it is amazing.
  • Starbuck’s is the best (ok, that’s my thought – but I’m sure she agrees)! 🙂

Veggie soup @ RoOmer Cafe!

This afternoon I caught up on some school work, laundry, and cleaning.  I was also perusing the internet and stumbled upon a new blog (Gina’s Skinny Recipes) that I LOVE.  So, I decided to make one of her recipes:  Chicken Milanese with Arugula and Tomatoes

I only made a couple changes:

  • Kept the chicken as breasts (not cutlets)
  • Left out the milk in the egg whites (had none)
  • Added cheese to the salad (everything is better with cheese)!

Here is a pick of how our meal turned out!  And, OMG, was it delish! 🙂

So freakin' good.

Off to complete my Law presentation slides for Monday.  I’m pretty nervous as I have to present to the class with one of my group members.  I really am not a fan of presenting.  (Side note – You know how when you have to do something you don’t want to do and people say…”OH, but it’s such good experience!”  Do you ever just want to scream, UGH, then you do it).

Anywayyyyyy, we have a “skype” conference call tonight to go over the slides.  I find that really funny (not sure why – just seems odd)!  I wonder if we are going to use the “video” call?  If so, I should probably change out of my oversized sweats…

Tosa Trivia!

Started my Tuesday off right…with a little Jillian Michaels!  Was pretty intense today considering I haven’t done her video in a week or 2!

My mom and I were going to have a full fledge Mother-Daughter day of shopping…at my favorite local shopping mall…Mayfair!!  Ahhh, how I love it! 🙂  We started off bright and early (we were literally there before it opened) and of course, made a stop at the Starbuck’s drive through for a morning pick-me-up.

*I’m going to digress for a minute – this is the first DRIVE-THRU I’ve been to in 8 months.  I can’t think of 1 drive-thru in Belgium…not 1 (and I’m really trying)!  Weird, right?!

Anyway, we spent a great deal of time at our fave stores (Ann Taylor, Loft, Limited, etc)!  I might have missed my calling as a personal shopper.  I must say that I REALLY enjoy helping others buy clothing!  My mom got some GREAT key items…including a brand new pair of AWESOME jeans.  I (of course) got some great new stuff too – cute earrings, scarf, etc.

My sister joined us for lunch…at Panera (again – why stop a good thing)!  This time I had my other favorite soup – Chicken Noodle with the multi-grain baguette.  Still delish!  We followed up lunch with dessert at…yes, Starbucks (again)!  My mom and I split a PUMPKING SPICE LATTE!  I’m sensing a pattern…

I WAS SO excited for this evening.  My BFF is getting married in January and she invited me and Maggie (remember her visit?) to join her for a dress fitting!  Here are just pics from previous celebrations – soon to add pics from Julia’s festivities! 🙂

At my wedding...

At Maggie's Bachelorette party!

Of course, the dress fitting was wonderful and she looked absolutely beautiful.  That’s all the detail you get…since the fiance is a subscriber! 🙂

For dinner, we had plans to meet a group of friends at the Mo’s Irish Pub in Wauwatosa for Trivia Night.  I’ve never played trivia before at a bar and really did not know what to expect.  Let me tell you…it is NOT easy!  Here are a couple sample questions:

  • What state produces 90% of the USA’s garlic crop?
  • What country did Churchill call “the sleeping giant?”
  • Name the 2 heisman (sp?) trophy winners who were drafted as quarterbacks in the same year (BONUS que).
  • How many ‘community chests’ are there on a monopoly board?  I still don’t believe the answer to this…
  • Which country whose name starts with a ‘P’ is the largest in size (sq ft)?
Tough right?!  Well, we were close…but ended up coming in 4th.  Oh well it was fun and so great to catch up with old friends! 🙂

the boys...

the girls...

Oh, I almost forgot…I had the BEST tomato soup last night (with OYSTER crackers – another thing I can’t find in Belgium)!

Note the design on top...nice touch!

Wonderful Weekend in Watou!

Even if you are a Belgian, chances of you knowing Watou are slim…but, thanks to our awesome neighbors, we had the chance to explore this wonderful little town this past weekend.

Driving only about 1 hour from Gent, we stayed at the ‘Het Brouwershuis.’  This B&B is situated next to its owner’s brewery, Sint Bernardus (Joe’s fave)!  Honestly, I’ve never been to such a cute and relaxing place!  Actually, I’ve never been to a B&B before so I didn’t know what to expect, but, this FAR exceeded any expectations I had.  As you arrive, you drive through a nice vine-archway.  You come upon 2 buildings each beautiful with vines and plants growing everywhere (not overgrown – strategic).  It’s so hard to explain how nice it was…so…here are the pics.

Look at that red color!!!

Is that welcoming or what?!

The “main” house had a beautiful living room with games, books, a fireplace, and…unlimited beer (St-Bernardus of course)!  There is also a nice room for the breakfast (which was awesome – no pics on that but think breads, yogurt, fruit, eggs, cheese, ham, etc)!  On the other side of the breakfast room was a pond full of large goldfish!

Sitting room...

So cozy!

Mmm, breakfast.

The bedrooms were adorable as well.  Nicely decorated with cute accents – not too many knick-knacks.  Each room has a separate bathroom (apparently not all B&B’s do that).  Only thing I was disappointed with was that there was no shampoo/conditioner (which I totally forgot to bring)!  But, we only stayed 1 night, so it was ok for me.

Cute!

Thankful for our own bathroom!

Nice, but...lots of spidey's...

*I will add one comment – take it as you will.  As you can see from my pic above, the spiders were in FULL effect.  Definitely NOT indoors, but they were quite a few outside (shocker, right?…spiders outside in a farm area?).  No one else cared, but I have a severe case of arachnophobia (sp?), so I  did get squirmy when walking by trees, chairs, etc.

Anyway, we spent the day using the bikes from the B&B (after finally adjusting the adult bikes to the lowest seat level for me, ugh).  We rode into the town of Watou (very cute town square)!  We stopped for a couple drinks and lunch.  I had a delicious melon and proscuitto salad.

Relaxin'

So fresh!

We then rode our backs in the opposite direction to Abele.  We stopped for another drink (see a theme?) at a cute place in France.  Yes, that’s right…we crossed the border.  We were pretty exctied…:-)

Indian summer?!

Me & Babe.

After all the biking, we were ready to relax at the B&B before heading out to dinner…will post the dinner next (one of the BEST dinners we’ve had in a long time)!  Wow, Watou…we’re impressed!!!

A taste of FALL!

We decided to make a nice hearty breakfast this morning.  It may not technically be Fall yet, but its felt like Fall for about 2 months in Belgium…so, I figure I’ve waited long enough!  One of my favorite Fall things is pumpkin (pumpkin picking, carving, gourds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin choco chip muffins, etc).  So, when I saw a post on one of my favorite blogs for “Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal,”  I HAD to try it!

(If you recall, I picked up some Libby’s 100% Pumpkin at the American grocery store last week)!

Here is the recipe from her Blog (check it out…it’s great)!

Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal:

  • 1 cup oats (we used Quaker Oats – quick cooking since that’s all I can find here)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (from the American Grocery store)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin (from the American Grocery store)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (from the American Grocery store)
  • Nutmeg (sprinkled on top) (from the American Grocery store)
Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop.  Add the oats and cook for about a minute (again, this is a shorter time period since I used quick-oats).  Once cooked, stir in 1/2 banana, brown sugar, pumpkin, and cinnamon.  Cook for another minute or so to let the ingredients warm and combine.  Transfer to bowls (this was a big serving for both Maggie and I) and top with remaining banana and sprinkle on nutmeg, if desired.
Some notes:
  • Maggie said the American Heart Association classifies 1/2 cup oats as a serving size.  Thanks for the tip! 🙂
  • I classified what ingredients I got from the American Grocery store to make a point (yet again) how hard it is to find “common” ingredients here!  Are you feeling my pain yet?!
  • I would DEFINITELY add a little more pumpkin.  I like the pumpkin taste to be extremely prevalent.  I think that the cinnamon (which I love) over took the bowl a little.  Personal preference…but just a tip if you LOVE pumpkin!

YUM - see the nutmeg sprinkles?!

This oatmeal has got me thinking a lot about Fall and I just have to comment on some of my favorite fall things…(even if they are gaggish)!
  • The smell of Fall – the leaves, cool air, etc.
  • How the cottage and lake looks up north + Shack in Sterling
  • Sweatshirts
  • Back to School fashion (um, hello boots and scarves)
  • Pumpkin (obvii)
  • Chili (I feel like chili is a colder weather meal) + Oyster crackers (OMG, I miss those)
  • Decor – at our condo we have a HUGE box of “fall-like” decor (candles, table runner, fake leaves, halloween garland)!  Sad that we cannot use it this year!
  • Last but not least…the anticipation of returning to the USA VERY soon!  Ahhhh
Ok, moving on, Maggie and I decided that we indulged quite a bit the last couple days (with our meals, drinks, and of course, Julie’s House yesterday), so we wanted to do a little exercise.  Out came the Jillian DVD!  We opted for Level 3 of “Ripped in 30.”  And yes, side by side we finished it (both sweating like crazy) and both cursing Jillian during the infamous “duck walk.”  *I really hope the person living below us was not home…I can’t imagine what they thought we were doing!
Finally (this post is getting rather long), I will conclude with what we did this afternoon.  After our strenuous work-out, we rewarded ourselves by sitting outside St. Bavo’s Cathedral listening to a street musician and…indulging in…a Belgian wafel!  And, here it is…

A lil mid-day snack!

 

 

 

 

 

Last Friday of “Freedom” —> means night out!

Today is the last Friday before I start MBA school…so, my summer (ahem, I mean 7 months) of doing nothing in Belgium is about to be over!  Some people in my position might be sad about this, but I could not be more delighted.  I am really looking forward to challenging my brain again, meeting new people, and seeing what school is like in Europe!  Of course, I am VERY nervous too.

Anyway, I had a lot of errands to run today so I got up early and headed to the gym.  By early, I mean that I was at the gym at 9am on the dot (which is when it opens…seriously).  Side note – the busiest time at the gym is between 10-11 (I have no idea why people aren’t working).  I opted for an interval workout on the treadmill + 10 minutes on the elliptical.  My treadmill interval was essentially this:

  • Warm up – 1 mile (about 6.5 miles per hour speed)
  • Sprint/jog – 1.5 miles (alternate between sprint and a steady jog every minute)

Not too shabby…I was enjoying my workout even more because the US open was on (albeit dubbed in French).  I watched Djokovic essentially destroy his competition in 3 straight sets – the match was less than 1.5 hours!

When I got home I was STARVING!  So I whipped up this nice little lunch (hummus sandwich)!

Now, for the best part of the day…whipping up dinner and our Friday night appy’s!

Appy’s: I tried a new bakery in the “mall” in Ghent and bought a fabulous nut bread and multi-grain bread (seriously amazing, but no surprise there)!  We had hummus and the remaining raw veggies that were not used for the skewers.  Of course, the obligatory wine and Belgian beer.  YUM!

*See the little duck napkin holders?  So funny…our table was set like this when we moved in…another reason I love it here!

Main: Grilled marinated shrimp skewers + marinated vegetable skewers (I will devote an entire post to this as I have a LOT to say about it + a LOT of pics)!  Here is one to get your taste buds going…

Joe had a long week and I was ready to celebrate my last night of “freedom” so we decided to go to the ‘Trappistenhuis’ bar.  This bar is VERY well-known in Ghent and happens to be one of Joe’s favorites.  Actually, after last night, he made the very bold statement that it has the BEST beer menu in Ghent (not an easy honor to win in Belgium).  Of course, that was exclaimed after a couple beers…so we’ll see if it still holds true today! 🙂

The interior and bathrooms are very nice and clean.  Take a look at all the glasses hanging by the bar (again, each beer has its own glass).  You can see by our beer pictures as well…my Orval beer bottle + my Orval branded glass.  Bonus – free peanuts! Joe opted for his favorite Sint Bernardus 12 and tried a Watou beer.  I opted for Orval as it has a lower alcohol content (6.2% still isn’t that low, but whatevs it’s Friday)!

Here are some pics!  Prost (cheers)!!

Joe’s Home! + Spicy Chicken & Veggies

SO, Joe got back from his trip and I was VERY eager to show him our new apartment!  Yes, I moved us ALL by myself (+ 3 movers). 🙂  Verdict?  He loves it, whew!!!  We both agree that we feel a lot more comfortable here.

I wanted to make him a home-made meal for his arrival.  If you recall, I received a HUGE marrow last week and I wanted to start using this bad boy!  So, I searched online and found the following recipe from a fellow blogger!  Here is the link: Spicy Chicken + Spicy Vegetables

I made a couple of substitutions based on what was in the fridge – I used white onion and opted to use my marrow instead of the summer squash.  Overall, this was a good simple meal.  We really liked the chicken (I added a LOT of cumin – love spice) and the vegetables were very tasty…minus 1.  The marrow did NOT turn out.  I’m not sure if I didn’t cook it long enough, or if it just isn’t a vegetable that should be cooked on the stove.  Oh well, win some you lose some…and I still have a TON of it left to try other recipes (maybe something backed next time)!

Here is a pic (sorry, Joe’s flight was late so I almost finished eating before I remembered to take a pic):