Skip to content

I’ve moved!

March 8, 2011

Yes, it’s true! I’ve moved! Both in real life and online.

If you can’t make it to my new apartment (in the center of Leuven, Belgium!), then the least you can do is visit my new site:

http://brittspencer.blogspot.com/

Advertisements

wherein i resolve to not make resolutions

January 14, 2011

Over the last 14 days, everyone & their brother has been making NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. Their bolding. Not minee.

Given that I am utterly incapable of following through with anything, much less such lofty things as resolutions, I hereby announce that I will NOT be resolving anything this year. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. And I most certainly will not be resolving to do the following in 2011:

1 – Post everyday. Take a look at the last time I posted. Right. I think we can all agree this is obvious.

2 – Run and/or engage in other exhausting forms of exercising on days when it’s raining. If you are familiar with the climate in Belgium you will know that I may or may not have just given myself a free pass to be lazy for, oh, I don’t know, 6 months of the year…

3 – Losing a worthwhile amount of weight. Do you have any idea how expensive pants are? I snagged two perfect pairs of wool work pants while I was home and they juuuust fit. As long as I don’t breathe while walking. I’m considering losing a pinch or two around the middle so that I don’t pass out due to asphyxiation. But that’s about it. It’s not that I’m lazy.  I just care more about the size of my wallet than my waistline. Yup.

4 – Stop reading ridiculous books. These awesome ppl I know got me a Kindle for Christmas and I fear I may be developing an obsession. I’ve become something of a ebook stalker. You see, I check Amazon Kindle store for free books. And 99 cent sales. “Limited Time Promotional Offers” ebooks. And. If it looks even a little bit interesting ala a shapeshifting detective who has psychokinetic powers, all of a sudden my cursor is drifting over to “Buy Now with with 1-Click” and I’m clicking. Against my will. Anyways. My point is that although there are hundreds of classics available for the Kindle, I highly doubt I will find myself buying The Odyssey while on autopilot. But you better believe I will read “A Game of Thrones” and its sequels. Right.

Next War & Peace, I swear.

5 – Become fluent in French or Flemish. Or Dutch, German, Swiss-German, Spanish, Portugese, Nepali, Bulgarian and Swahili. In fact, I may become less fluent in English.

6 – Stop gushing about my amazing family, friends, Home [Pittsburgh] and home [Leuven]. Or posting random pictures of these aforementioned amazing things.

Example:

I mean, really, who doesn’t want to see this cutey patootey? Even if she’s getting unacceptably big.

 

That’s all I can (not) commit to right now.

I’m fairly certain that the rest of 2011 is going to be one big surprise. Full of it’s fair share of contradictions and broken promises and small kindnesses. Belly cramping laughs and full body cries. Ambitious travel and trips around the corner.

Maybe. Just maybe I’ll do better than 2008, 2009 and 2010 and actualy, you know, document some of that here… in this blog that was started for just those sort of things.

 

One more note on moving…

November 5, 2010

So yes, we are moving in January.
This is not wholly surprising. In fact, it’s exactly as planned.

My offer letter – dated November 2007 – states clearly that the firm will assist me in moving back to the U.S. in January 2011.

That was three years ago.

THREE. T-H-R-E-E. THREE!

In that time I have made friends from all over the world, learned at least a 12 different words in both Flemish and French, tied the knot (twice!) and fallen madly, head-over-heels in love… with Belgium.  It’s food, it’s people, it’s laid-back yet rich culture. All of it. (Even the weather is lovely when you take into account all the opportunities to wear your awesome pair of  plaid Wellington boots.)

Amazing architecture + lots of  Wellington weather. What’s not to love?

And if I love Leuven, then Lou is obsessed with the place. In the 7 or so years we’ve been together, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as happy as he is here.

Which is why we decided to stay a smidge longer. A year-ish. No longer.  Not one day past January 2012. Definitely not the additional 3 years we signed for in the lease. I mean, did you see our new place? Who would want to spend more time there? No, we’ll definitely be back in the land of candy corn and Turkey day in no time. ish.

 

Worth the hassle?

November 4, 2010

It’s no secret that I’m not the hugest fan of our current apartment. The living room area is a smidge on the small side, there are no closets, the placement of the shower head is just silly, our stove/oven is hilariously bad – unless you like everything burnt on the bottom and, the piece de resistance, I hit my head on the sloped ceiling in the bedroom at least… um… twice a month. The place is just so very “meh.”

But. The price is great, the location isn’t terrible and the whole place is perfectly adequate for our purposes. Despite our many complaints, the few pros out way the many cons when you factor in the hassle of moving.

Ugh. MOVING. Does reading that word make you shiver a bit? Because it should.

It’s difficult in the U.S., but in Belgium?? Ooof. If you want to move from one apartment to another, here is a sampling of what is required:

1. Find new place via websites, word of mouth or, if you don’t mind paying extra, a real estate agent.

2. Visit potential places at odd times dictated by the property owner. “5pm on a Tuesday good for you? No? You work. Ok, how about 3am Wed.?”

3. Miracle of miracles, you find a place you like and there is no “option” on it – you take an option, think on it for a day or two, submit an offer and, if accepted, you meet on another date to sign papers.

4. You sign the lease and learn you need to set up things like bank guarantees and that the minimum lease is 3 years. THREE! If you cancel after one year you have to pay 2 month’s rent as penalty, if you cancel after 2 years, it’s a penalty of 1 month’s rent.

5. After signing lease on the new place you have to contact your current landlord IMMEDIATELY (if you have not already done so) and inform them that you are canceling your lease. Sometimes it is written into your contract that you must call and send a registered letter THREE months before you move. So that’s fun.

  • Extra special clause: If you do not make the 3 month cut off, you need to make sure your place has a new rentor by the time you wish to move out. Which means from the date you notify your landlord you need to have your apartment “viewable” at all times.

6. Cancel your internet and whatnot at the one place and have it set up at your new place. I’m sure customer service at these companies is top notch and that they live to serve you, so this should be e-a-s-y.

7. Hire a moving company of some sort. Unless you have family that you can pay in beer & pizza. But even then, you usually need the moving van + some professionals to move your stuff in and out of these tricky Belgian apartments where the only option is often to move lots of your stuff through windows. This is also fun.

8. Move.

9. Notify commune of the move. Communes are notoriously easy to deal with. This should be a breeze.

10. Have a stiff drink.

*** Disclaimer*** I know that I can’t complain too much! When we move back to the U.S. there will be a few things added to this list (like de-registering from the commune) but others will be removed. As far as the physical moving goes, a professional company will take care of everything for us. Like, from the packing to the lifting to the driving. Everything. I watched my friends move over the weekend. It was amazing.

Generally, just thinking about that list of To-Do’s was enough to keep BF and I from browsing the apartment listings. No amount of patio space could possibly be worth the hassle of sitting on the phone with Telenet or packing up all of our stuff. Just to move where? 3 km into the center of Leuven? Not gonna happen.

But then… the ceiling was leaking a bit last week. And the oven wouldn’t heat properly. And the window broke. So I hopped on immoweb.be.

And saw this:

From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment

Ummmm….. yeah. Kind of stunning, no?
Apartment in the CENTER of Leuven. Just off the Vismarkt. Dates to the 1600s. Is some sort of listed historical building. Parking is included. It’s within our budget.

We signed the lease on Saturday. We move in mid-January.

Worth the hassle? I think so.

in Review: October

November 3, 2010

Once again, the months are sailing past. Despite my request for a “Pause” around the 15th, October kept up its breakneck speed and now we are to November.

Although there are many exciting things in store for November – a long weekend in London, for example – October was so lovely, it deserves a proper memoriam. A recap, if you will.

Here goes.

1. FLOWERS.

The first weekend in October featured some standard Saturday shopping in Leuven. BF accompanied me on this sojourn and was not only patient but helpful and enthusiastic while I shopped for flowers. We went to not one but three different shops looking for the perfect bouquet. When we finally found it, he both paid for and carried my chosen pot throughout town. Amazing! [Full disclosure: BF’s birthday was November 1st and he admits he may or may not have been campaigning for certain birthday presents…]

Here was the winner:

From October

2. Champagne!

October 9th-11th was spent leisurely sampling the fruits of Champagne, France. Namely, the amazing food and bubbly famous throughout the world. Very cool, yes, but what was even better was being able to do it with my friends from Belgium and Melissa, my friend since high school who recently moved to London (yay for old friends on the continent!).

I hope to share more details later, but for now here are some pics:

I really need to thank the hiring partner for letting me work with them. Makes life so much more fun.
Janey, Me and the famous Melissa
Grapes + a little magic leads to….
Bubbly!

3. Birthday!

It was my 27th birthday on the 12th and, for the first time in our 7+ year relationship, BF pulled out all the stops. He started off the morning with *wrapped* presents (another first!) from my favorite store in Leuven, Louvaniste, that included super cute teacups and bowls so that we could have a birthday breakfast in style.  He then made me coffee and cereal, drove me to work, picked me up and, when I walked in the door after work he presented me with MORE presents (awesome candles with giraffes on them and this great blackboard – all from Louvaniste) and surprised me with news that he made reservations. Yes, let me state that again. BF. MADE. RESERVATIONS. And not just any reservations, he secured us two spots at this amazing place in Leuven we had only just heard about called Luzine. Spectacular would be an understatement. Easily one of the top 3 dining experiences of my life. Easily.You know what else is an understatement? To say that I had my work cut out for me for BF’s birthday…

So yeah, 27 started off well…

4. Family, Friends & Pumpkins

As always, I had a wonderful time at home. Admittedly, it was a bit of an odd trip in that I wasn’t there for any specific reason. No weddings to attend. No holidays to celebrate. No work trainings to grace with my presence. Instead, I was home because I could be. I had vacation days to spare and a free flight via my “home leave.” My little sister bought a new house and I wanted to help with that process somehow, some way, even if it was just unpacking some boxes. My big sister bought a new car and I wanted to see that. My friends were flying in from all over – Miami, Arkansas – for our friend’s housewarming party/mini-reunion and I wanted to be there too. Besides, Pumpkin Spice Lattes were available at Starbucks. Needed to get me some of those.

Anyways, as mentioned, it was great to be home. I had lots of quality family & friend time and loaded up on every type of pumpkin imaginable! It was just a bit strange to be there for a normal weekend. Whatever. Look at the pictures 🙂

Breakfast at King’s (American-Style Belgian waffles! Yum!) with Grandma, Jordan and Pap Pap!
Cheese!
Mini-Reunion at the Davis household…

5. Halloween!
My Aunt Kim mentioned that before coming back home (to America) for good, it should be our goal to establish Halloween as a holiday throughout Europe. Well, we couldn’t agree more and, at the moment, we have adopted this as our mission. Our Halloween party this year was a step in the right direction – everyone came in costume – however, there was a glaring lack of trick-or-treaters. Perhaps next year?
For now, I’m just going to bask in the success of this year:

BF went as a “windy guy” – from the right angle his tie, scarf and jacket appeared caught in a breeze.
Tastefully costumed girls. True sign of growing up if ever there was one…

List-ing

October 7, 2010

Hey. Check me out. Three posts in 10 days. This may be a record for me.

Although. Does it count if one of the three posts was semi-unfinished? Not that buying flowers isn’t a noteworthy event, it is for me, BUT, I actually had more planned for last weekend. Saturday marked the annual “Nuite Blanche” in Brussels, a full night of arts and events and general revelry that I’ve been wanting to attend for the last 2.5 years. Totally wanted to write a bit about that.

Unfortunately, my post ended up being a little more finished than I would have liked.

You see, the highlight of the weekend ended up being buying flowers. And this is not because the fantastic Young Amadeus Floral Shop was more fun than the rumored awesomeness of Nuite Blanche. No, it’s because it was a rainy, cold Saturday in Belgium AND BF & I spent the weekend working and cleaning. And then working some more.

Now, for various reasons, I am placing the blame for our failure to have fun on my failure to make a proper list for the weekend. Perhaps if I had written NUITE BLANCHE across various mediums – blog, email, the chalkboard in our kitchen – we would have gone.

So. As I am very into learning from my mistakes, I am going to be proactive for my little trip home and begin my MUST-Do List for the 4 days I’m in the U.S.:

MUST-DO While Home:

1. Visit with family & friends (duh).

2. Drink my weight in apple cider & pumpkin spice coffee/lattes.

3. Gather supplies for the big Halloween party we are planning in Belgium (So, a proper Halloween costume as well as candy corn)

4. Update my wardrobe a bit. (I recently realized that 70% of my clothes are from college, 5% are from high school and 1% can not be traced.) Not okay. At least a few new purchases are of particular importance at the moment as I am suffering from “Newlyweight Syndrome,” a terrible disease whereby newlyweds gain back all the weight they lost for their wedding PLUS 10-15 lbs. It’s kind of awful. I’m considering demoting Boyfriend back to being my actual boyfriend as I’ve heard that helps you lose 20 lbs. in an instant. Although. I can’t imagine the paperwork involved in that… Perhaps I should just start exercising? That’s probably easier.

5. Go to a pumpkin patch & apple orchard with Baby J & whoever else would like to go with me.

6. Get pumpkin spice cream cheese from Einstein’s.

7. Start working on my top-secret, super awesome Christmas presents.

8. Help Kels unpack/organize/decorate her NEW. HOUSE.

** I realize that if I check off all of the items on this list I may turn into a pumpkin, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

 

 

 

Weekend Fun

October 1, 2010

Good Morning!

How are you all today? It’s currently sunny – not a cloud in the sky – and 60 degrees in Belgium. A PERFECT fall day. Although the weekend calls for rain and gloom, I am coming up with a few things to do that will be fun – rain or shine.

They are as follows:

1. Buy Flowers.

Fresh. Beautiful. Fragrant. Flowers.

This is the current state of the plants in our apartment:

These are the opposite of fresh, fragrant flowers…