Thursday, January 5, 2023

Travel: Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands

Last summer, after a couple years of saving, we were able to fly out as a family to visit my sister, her husband and their new baby in Belgium. They are stationed near Peer, Belgium in the Air Force. It is a tiny base with no housing or schools or even a commissary. They have to drive to the Netherlands to visit the BX. But the street and town they live in is lovely. Very bucolic. There are horses in the backyard, wheat fields on the street, and a quaint temple at the end of it. 

They sleep with windows open. The doors are unlocked all day, even when they leave the house.

Meeting my niece for the first time was amazing. Ellie and Scarlette hit it off pretty quickly.

We made our way to the city center. The streets were immaculate, the buildings had fun details like this cheeky fella holding a shutter open.

We ate some gelato, fries with copious mayo, and walked around.

The poppies and wildflowers were everywhere. I was totally enamored.

We visited Antwerp, Belgium and went sightseeing, but I didn't take a ton of photos that day. It was mostly about soaking it in and spending time with the family. We drove to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg next. The Walls of the Corniche were awesome to see, encircling the city. They are called Europe's most beautiful balcony and I can see why. 

There was a small market going on in the city center. I picked up a few thrifted trinkets from a sweet lady. We visited the museum and ate at McDonald's of all places. The girls loved seeing the menu differences. And yes, instead of a Quarter Pounder, I had the Mc Royale. 

Luxembourg was Savanna's favorite place.

After that we rested a day and hung out at the house, watching TV, catching up. Then it was Scarlette's 13th birthday. She chose to go to a theme park in the Netherlands (I looked up a lot of different places, an arcade, a zoo, and more- this is what she landed on) called Eftling. It is an old fairy tale theme park that was utterly enchanting.

We rode rides, Scarlette and Dustin rode a roller coaster, we did a boat cruise, and walked through a fairy tale forest.

The food was surprisingly cheap. I am used to Disney and Universal prices. The huge hotdog I got was only $4. It would easily have been $14 at Disney. It was delicious too.

We spent a week staying at their home in Belgium. It was charming, beautiful and peaceful. The second week we all packed our bags and took the EuroStar high speed rail under the channel to the UK.

I will post that adventure next. We loved Belgium. Adam, the girls and I still talk about it. It was funny, even a couple nights ago Adam told me he had a good dream about being back there.

Monday, January 2, 2023

2023 Reading Challenge


Jay and I got together once again to create a reading challenge for 2023. I was thrilled with how last year's went for me. I got a ton of great reading done. It is all tucked away in my heart and mind, enriching my thoughts. We typically do close to 30 prompts, but with the coming year being extra busy for us we whittled it down to 25, that is two a month plus a bonus. Please follow along with us and use the hashtag so we can see what you are reading and recommending!

1. 2023 Word for the year- Inclusive. Choose a book with an author that has an IDD

(Intellectual and Developmental Disability) or topics or themes revolving around IDDs. 

2. Viva Magenta! or Rainbow Colors! Pick a bold cover with vibrant hues.

3. Read something by the best selling novelist of all time (only behind the Bible and Shakespear)- Agatha Christie. 

4. A blind pick: have a friend or partner pull a book for you, or close your eyes and choose. Some thrift book shops

even have blind paper bag buys. Those can be fun!

5. Seasonal: Read a book with a season in the title. 

6. Diving Deeper: Read about a topic you listen to podcasts about, watch documentaries on, or are learning about.

7. LOL!- Find a book that makes you literally laugh out loud, or at least crack some smiles- if not these,

then authored by a comedian.

8. Long-Ass Title: Find a book with at least seven words in the title. 

9. Absolutely Amazing Alliteration in the title.

10. Book set in Africa.

11. Weekend Escape: A book you can finish in a couple days.

12. Mood Reader: Read whatever feels good or fits your mood.

13. Miniature Delights: Read a book that is 5 x 7 or smaller. 

14. Book pairing: choose a book and a favorite chocolate, tea, or wine to enjoy right along with it.

15. Magpie: Choose a cover with stars, sparkles, glints, or shimmery attractive bits and bobs.

16. Book Shield: grab a book for when reading is your coping mechanism

17. 90s: set in, or written during

18. Enigmatic title: one that makes you do a double-take, in which you must find out more.

19. Eye-opening read

20. Speculative fiction: encompassing books that take place in our world but with an added

magical/supernatural/futuristic twist

21. Author you can't believe you haven't read yet

22. Library setting or Bibliophilia

23. Booked on a feeling: books that cause big feelings

24. Fantasy subgenre: for reference: High, Low, Epic, Historical, Urban, Magical Realism, Grimdark...

25. Reflections: cover or content

This year I would like to reading the last book in the Outlander series, I have it sitting on my shelf ready to go.

I would also like to add in The Outsider by Stephen King, some Emily Dickinson poetry, and a new series.

What are you hoping to get to?