Tag Archives: travel

Expat Living- Friends


“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”

One of the most difficult things about being an expat is making and keeping friends. Expat living can be a very transient lifestyle, people are always coming and going. It can be very rare that you are in the same place, with the same people for very long.

Here is how it starts, when you first move to a country, you try to be friends with any one who speaks the same language as you. Maybe they work with you, maybe you meet them in a classroom, or maybe you over hear them speaking English in a Starbucks and you start up a conversation with them. Whatever the reason, the commonality of language is the key factor.

You realize that you are only friends with that person because of the language. That they are a person who, in your normal life, you never would have been friends with. Sometimes that is a good thing, and you’ve opened yourself to a whole new kind of person and friendship, and sometimes it isn’t.

Then, you start to become more picky, just speaking the same language is no longer enough, you start to look for friends who you actually have something in common with, or dare in say, like.

And then once you’ve settled into a routine with this friend, coffees, shopping, even play dates with the kids you both have, it is time for one of you to move on.

What do you do? How do you deal with this revolving door of friendships?

Keep in touch! You never lose a real friend. They are always with you, and these days it is even easier to keep them with you. Facebook, Skype, text, keeping in touch is not as difficult as it once was.

Keep making friends. You can never have too many friends. You don’t need to replace them, just make room for everyone.

Keep your options open, yes you are no longer going to be friends based solely on English, but give someone who you wouldn’t normally be friends with a chance, maybe she is ten years older than you, or not married, but perhaps there is something else that that you two have in common.

Since I started my life as an expat I have had some of the most amazing friends, people who have been through all of the major and minor moments in my life with me. I am truly lucky.

In the last few years I have had to say goodbye to so many of these amazing friends, and looking towards the summer, I am dreading saying goodbye to two more amazing people.

This is the life of an expat.

You can’t close yourself off, as my grandmother used to say, every stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Advertisements

Baked Camembert


Cheese.

Is there anything better?

I love living in this part of Europe, if for nothing than the variety of cheeses.

Hard, soft, stinky, sweet, white, yellow, orange and blue, old, young, every kind of cheese you could ever imagine.

I have fallen in love with Camembert. A soft cheese, stinky cheese. It tastes so good on a piece of crusty baquette with some grapes on the side… Heavenly.

I do like my Camembert the traditional way. However, sometimes I buy a Camembert, and it ends up sitting in my fridge for a bit too long, and it is no longer as soft as I would like.

So I bake it.

It becomes so ooey-gooey, and the herbs give it a lovely new flavour layer.


Here’s my recipe for baked Camembert…

Baked Camembert

1 Camembert cheese in it’s wooden box.
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
A small handful of fresh oregano, torn
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C

Remove the cheese from the plastic wrapping and place it back in it’s wooden box.

Score a circle into the top of the cheese and pull of the circle of rind.

Put the garlic, oregano. Pepper and oil in the cut out circle.

Put in the oven for about ten minutes.

Remove and eat. If it is too runny, let it sit for a few minutes to firm up.

Expat Living- Breastfeeding in Public


Today I went to my local breastfeeding support group. There are two facilitators, Jane and Cindy, (who are so resourceful) and a bunch of new mothers, some first time, some second or third babies. We sit and chat about breastfeeding problems, mothering questions, new baby issues and try to bounce ideas off of each other to help each other out.

Breastfeeding is hard. It isn’t as easy as it looks in the beginning. I had some very painful problems in the beginning with both Alara and Ela, and with Ela, this group helped me out immensely, and I have since been able to go on and continue breastfeeding her.

What does this have to do with breastfeeding in public? A lot actually, because if you are not comfortable and relaxed while breastfeeding, there is no way that you are going to even attempt to breastfeed in public.

Seyfi and I always said that we were never going to let having children stop us from traveling and going out. However, we don’t want to leave our kids at home either.

So we take them everywhere.

With Alara she went to every restaurant, cafe, dinner party, you name it with us when she was a baby. Here’s the thing though, I would breastfeed her in a separate room. I would go to a different area, or one of those breastfeeding rooms in the shopping centre, and breastfeed her there.

Not with Ela.

With Ela I have a whole new outlook on breastfeeding in public.

I do it wherever I want.


I have breastfeed Ela, in airports, on airplanes, in restaurants while eating, at friend’s houses, at the library, at the park, the list goes on. I have even breastfed her on the top of a open double decker tour bus while touring around London!

I just make sure that I cover myself up.

There are a few reasons why I no longer hide myself…

1. I have a three year old, I am not going to lock Alara in a room with me while I am trying to feed Ela, and it is just the three of us.
2. If it is the four of us, or we are with friends, I don’t want to be left out. I don’t want to miss out on anything that is happening around me!
3. I love going out, and so does Ela. I don’t want to spend the next year of my life stuck at home. The best way for her to see how to behave in public, is for us to actually take her out in public.
4. We are only in this part of Europe for a short time. I don’t want to take a year out of being able to travel around and see great places.
5. And this one might be controversial, but I am just feeding my baby, and there is nothing wrong or shameful in that.

Ok, so those are my reasons, here are a few tips…

*bring something that can go over both you and the baby. Most people won’t even notice if you are covered up. I generally use an old pashmina or really big scarf. You can buy/make one of those cover ups.

*if you think you are going to have to breastfeed in public, plan your outfit accordingly. A dress that doesn’t allow access from the top may not be the best choice. But blouses, flowy shirts, wider sweaters all work well.

*find somewhere comfortable to sit down. This is so important, you do need to be comfortable, otherwise it will be difficult to get comfortable, and then you will have to adjust yourself more often, which I find stressful.

*this is a tip for restaurants, but try to put your baby on the side that allows your ‘good’ hand to work. This way, you can still eat without dropping food all over yourself!

You know, I’ve never had anyone say anything to me while I was breastfeeding in public, maybe I’ve been lucky, but I’ve done it in a few different countries, and it hasn’t been an issue…

I hope that if you choose to breastfeed, that you have all the support that I have had, and you can always email me if you need some more!

Location:Rue des Brasseurs,Mons,Belgium

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


When it comes to making cookies, I am generally not too adventurous. I make chocolate chip cookies throughout the year, and the shortbread and gingerbread at Christmas.

I never make oatmeal cookies.

I don’t know why I never make oatmeal cookies, maybe because I usually think they are too healthy to be a cookie. Or because they usually are so hard that they would make a better hockey puck than after school treat. I just never make them.

My friend Jane makes the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Whenever she has them out at her house, I usually eat about ten, I’m not even kidding!

And she uses really delicious/expensive Belgian chocolate…

When I was in England, I bought a bag of really soft oatmeal raisin cookies from the Tesco bakery. They were so delicious, with a hint of cinnamon.

I thought to myself, there is no way I can compete with Jane and her expensive chocolate, so I will try to make something better than Tesco’s.

I made them with lots of raisins, and lots of cinnamon. It gave the cookies a really nice texture, and flavor.

Here’s my recipe…

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Directions

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C.

Put the raisins to soak in a bowl of warm water.

In large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture.

Stir in oats and remove raisins from water and stir in.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
Cool slightly, remove from sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Jamie’s Italian


Since Seyfi has been wanting to do more cooking, to get inspiration, he has started watching more cooking shows. One of his favourites is Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals.

So, when I suggested that we go to a Jamie Oliver restaurant while we were in the U.K. last weekend, he was totally up for it.

I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver’s for a super long time now, and ever since he started catering his cooking style to an accessible, easy, home cooked style, I have really gotten into it.

I also, really agree with his ideas on how we should be feeding our children, about introducing them to new tastes, and giving them healthy food. I loved his food revolution shows (both the ones in the U.K. and U.S.), and learned so much from watching them.

Anyway, onto his restaurant…

It was BRILLIANT!

Loved it! Loved the food, loved the atmosphere, loved the service! And it wasn’t too expensive either!

Firstly, let me start by saying this, they know how to take care of people with dietary challenges- and we are such a family! I’m deathly allergic to fish, Seyfi has celiac disease, so there is no gluten, and none of us eat pork! We are not easy people!

But, the server handled it all, listened to everything, helped us choose, and made appropriate substitutions where necessary. We left there feeling great!

So here is what we ate:


A shin of beef, braised over night in balsamic vinegar served over creamy polenta…

Amazing…


A whole spring chicken, split and grilled, served with artichokes…

Delicious!

This was Alara’s…


Two mini sliders, one turkey, one beef, served with polenta chips and a ‘shake it’ salad…

The polenta chips were to die for!!
(obviously Seyfi didn’t eat this one… Poor guy…)

Here is Alara enjoying hers…


I was so happy with everything about this restaurant! I can’t say enough about it! I only wish that we could have gone there for both lunch and dinner!

I hope that if you are ever in the U.K. that you will take the opportunity to try out one of Jamie’s Italians. Totally worth every pence!

London


Up until this point, I had always considered myself a Paris girl, that is until this weekend…

We’ve just returned from a long weekend in London, and had a wonderful time. We spent two days in London, and a day in Oxford and the Cotswolds.

Brilliant.

In London, we did the totally tourist way to see it. On Friday we enjoyed the Champagne Experience on the London Eye.


The London Eye was fun for all of us. Even Alara enjoyed it. She was given a bag with binoculars, a notebook, and a pencil to use while on the ferris wheel. We all enjoyed our drinks, and got to see London from a different view.

On Saturday, we took a bus tour around the city. It was an off and on tour, and it truly was the best way to see the whole city and to learn some really interesting facts, that I never would have learned on my own.


It is because of the bus tour that we were able to see everything that we wanted. It was also a great way to see lots of things with the girls. Alara loved being on the bus, looking at the sights and hearing the stories about them, and Ela either looked around, slept or fed (more on that later) while we toured about.

I absolutely loved London. It is such a relaxed place, the people are so nice and helpful, the food was great (yummy curry!!) and it was so easy to get around.

I can’t wait for our next trip there!

Expat Living- Air travel with Kids, an Experience

Yesterday I was watching the episode of Up All Night where the Reagan and Chris take their baby on an airplane for the first time. They are all stressed and panicked, but of course in the end all is good, and they learn that their lives don’t have to change after having a baby.

A very good lesson.

As an Expat, travel with children, especially air travel, is a fact of life. Something that you can’t avoid, or put off.

Last night we travelled from Belgium to Turkey. And I have to say, it went really well.


When we left our house, it was already dark. We drove to Germany, which is where we were flying out of. The girls slept the whole way, three hours.

Then, we got the the airport, and other than the people on our flight, the entire place was empty and closed. We checked our bags, went through security, passport control and sat at our gate for, just over and hour.

Ela, whose almost three months, slept the whole time. Alara, whose almost four, sat with us, looked at the airplanes, and talked to the older couple beside us. Very cute.

On the plane, we were told there was a free snack, Alara wanted to wait up for this, she ate it, and then laid down, and went to sleep.

We woke up as the plane was descending, got off, did passport control again, got our bags and hopped in a taxi.

I honestly don’t know how we did it. This was not ‘s first flight, she loves to be on a plane, I think the excitement of seeing her grandparents made her a better traveler. Ela, was also very good, perhaps she realized that this was something she’d be doing for the rest of her life.


Here are some tips that I find make things easier:

*Keep your child talking. Talk about what you see, what’s happening, where your going. I think this attention helps them stay calm.
*Play a man on man defense, each parent takes a kid, and switch it up. That way each child gets what they need.
*Forget about watching your own movie, listening to your own music or reading a book.
*If you see a bathroom, use it.
*Give yourself plenty of time to get everywhere. You don’t want to be running through an airport dragging your kid and their things behind you!
*Show no fear! Kids can smell when you feel out of your element.

All this being said, I hope I haven’t jinxed air travel for us!