Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Blog!

Hey there!

I've got a new blog to go with a new phase of life: www.kelleyjeanne.wordpress.com

It's still about ma belle vie, but just a little different :)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Old photographs

A little story, a little nugget, that I discovered while packing this morning.

Scanning my apartment, trying to discern what I needed to shove into a suitcase, and what would stay put, I rested my eyes on the sudo-canvas-photo-painting that I bought for two euros last year at the Differdange flea market.

I wanted something to pep up my stark white walls, and for two euros? I could leave it here. And really, while it's a nice black and white photo of a cafe scene, it wasn't something that I was in love it, but something I could enjoy for a year on my wall.

But today, I realized something. I looked more closely at the name of the cafe....'Cafe Brasserie du Dom'...I had been there. Last week.

In fact, it's one of my favorite moments of late, sitting at that cafe, waiting for him to arrive from the metro right across the street, sipping a cafe au lait, wearing my favorite blue dress, butterflies in my stomach.

I know it sounds weird, but it was one of those moments when it felt like puzzle pieces of my life clicked together. A painting bought a year and half earlier, a brief parisan rendez-vous, two different moments suddenly becoming intertwined.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy National Holiday!

It's lovely little Luxembourg's National holiday today!

So here's to raising a glass of cremant (Luxembourgish sparkling wine) to one of my favorite little corners of the world.
Some of my favorite girls and I celebrating at another Luxembourgish festival in August

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I love you, Maastricht






A cathedral of books in Maastricht, the Netherlands. I sipped coffee where the old altar stood, lost myself in the sweet silence of  paper backs and pages where pews were lined up. An old house of worship, converted, re-purposed, but still gently holding onto the reverence of its former life.

It is a beautiful place, in a beautiful city.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy [Belated] Fathers Day Papa E!


Happy Fathers Day to the coolest, sweat-band rockin' guy I know. 
I love you Dad!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hopping Through Echternach

video

This Tuesday (known on the Christian calendar as 'Whit Tuesday'), there was the annual hopping procession of Echternach, a small Luxembourgish town on the German border. 

They've been hopping in honor of St. Wilibrord for centuries (heck, UNESCO even made it a world heritage event last year), and this year was no different. 

From 9:15am until 1:15pm, hundreds of folks danced through the streets to the same tune, holding white handkerchiefs, in the rain and sun. 

And once again, I found myself quietly amused by this little country and its customs, feeling so privileged have lived in this little piece of the world for a brief moment. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oostende/Ostende





What's the best remedy for a week that's left you a little out of sorts?

A quick road trip to the coast of everyone's favorite county-without-a-government  for sun, buckets of moules et frites, and lots of girl talk.

There was also a quick detour to James Ensor's house, the 19th century flemish artist who lived and died in Oostende.




You see, when I was 16, my dad showed me Ensor's famous painting 'Christ Entering Brussels' during a visit at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. And believe it or not, it was seeing this piece that planted the seed that studying the history of art could actually be, really quite fun.

You better believe it was just as wonderful to see that this artist, with his quirky, crazy paintings, was just a colorful in his day-to-day life. And I bet he was a phenomenal dinner guest.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where's Cleveland? A Scavenger Hunt!


Even though I've been based in lovely Luxembourg for the past two years, I've been lucky enough to keep up the hometown connection with a little project I've been working on!

Introducing 'Where's Cleveland?', an amazing scavenger hunt that's going to be taking teams of folks all around Cleveland to participating in fun challenges. And when I say challenges, I'm talking about taste testing, mind games, stuff that will test your navigation skillz and your Cleveland trivia.

If you're a Clevelander, and you're interested in joining in on the fun (and I promise you, it will be a blast!), go to www.ohiohomecoming.com for more information! Click on the events button for Saturday, July 23rd and you'll find all the glory details. Registration will be open in a few days so stay posted....

Trust me. This is something you won't want to miss.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The countdown begins...

There has been silence in this space for the past few weeks because, in typical world-of-academica fashion, there has been a transfer of students; season veterans leaving, overwhelmed newbies arriving with a healthy does of goodbyes, welcomes and hugs mixed in.

Also, there was a quick little hop over the pond to hug a very special sister who was graduating from university.

So. I'm back in my little apartment in my little Chateau. For just a little over six more weeks.

And then? Then it will be back to the good ol' mother land, the country of bbq sauce, bagels and every variety of Mexican food your heart could dream of.

And, as with all transitions, saying hello to a new adventure, means saying good bye to a place that has become so familiar and dear.

 But hey, isn't that the best excuse to really live it up? Carpe diem, live each day as its your last, dance like no one's looking kind of 'living it up'?

And if that means going to the gelato shop down the street every day, I'm in.

So stay tuned folks...there's a lot on the docket - new places to explore, old haunts to revisit, many glasses of wine to share with friends. It's going to be one helluva summer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

le printemps francais






Et Voila: spring scenes of Normandie in April. A region characterized by clouds, mist, and striped shirts, the sun was an unexpected (albeit pleasant) surprise.

Right now the fields all around Europe are filled with those yellow flowers - patch after patch, brilliantly contrasting with the rich green. They represent the end of winter, a breath of fresh, warm air, and the beginning of glorious spring. So badly do I want them to stay. I know once they fad, it will be almost time to go home.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

le francais - je t'aime

Watching this video took me back to the year of les francais - trains, markets, getting lost (figuratively and literally) and falling in love with France.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Emaischen

Welcome to another installment of 'Luxembourgish festivals I can't pronounce.'

Let's see: there was February celebration of burning crosses and the early April Sunday dedicated to pretzels. The newest event to add to my repertoire of la vie luxembourgouise is Emaischen, a.k.a. the day of clay bird whistles.



Another day that happens just once a year (Easter Monday to be exact), this festival is characterized by stand after stand of vendors selling their version of peckvillercher, clay birds of varying sizes, shapes and colors.

Making my way to the center of town on Monday afternoon, my concerns that I might not find the market instantly vanished. The cadences of the bird whistles grew louder and louder as I neared the old church. While with Bretzelsonndeg you could follow your nose, with this festival, you definitely followed your ears.




And there, stand after stand, filled with (clay) birds, vendors demonstrating the whistles, children trying out their new toys, mixed with keen collectors examining this year's 'flock' - it was equal parts strange and magical.


It was Luxembourgish.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Adventures

So, I had a conversation, not too long ago, where the question was asked: Would you rather have a life filled with little adventures that happen daily, or one characterized by big, soul-inspiring adventures that happen only a few times?

 I love the adrenalin rush of exploration. Going boldly into the unknown - a new city, a new culture - not knowing what you'll find around each corner, who you'll meet, and what could happen. It's a thrill that I yearn for - attacking the buffet that life of what the world has to offer with gusto! You could say I'm a junkie...

But the small adventures. Those cannot be forgotten or appreciated with any less vigor than those big life changing moments.



There was a moment this week that made me pause a bit, to realize, as if it were a sign in big flashing neon letters, that life is beautiful and short.

And so often, it's those little adventures, those tiny moments, that make me breath deep the joy of living.


The smell of spring lilacs, junky flea markets, 1 euro yogurt gelato, a surprise piece of cake with my coffee at work, an unexpected conversation, a forty minute train ride through Luxembourg, with only me, my thoughts, and a really good book...I guess you could say I'm also a junkie for that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Traveling Scotsman

This European adventure has been lovely and fulfilling in so many ways, but if I had to choose one thing that I'll cherish always (other than pain-au-chocolat being readily available and accessible around every corner) it would be the people I've met.

Before I headed out for two weeks of study tours and the Camino, I was reunited with one of my favorite people, the Scotsman from my blissful sojourn at another Chateau near Paris. Our little band of followers (six in total) drank whisky on old stone steps, harvested buckets of spinach from the kitchen garden and debated politics and religion during our afternoon gouter on the gravel path.

Two whole years later, the Scotsman and I finally had our long discussed reunion. And when I saw this crazy guy standing in the courtyard, kilt and all, it was like no time had passed.


After a few days, it was time to part ways again, but not before lots of catching up, a few walks in the woods, and maybe a sip or two of whisky.

One piece of advice: if you are ever driving though Europe and you see someone standing on the side of the road, in a kilt, their hitching thumb out, stop, give him a lift. Even if it's for five minutes I promise you, you won't regret it.

Safe travels dear friend. Come back again soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Camino de Santiago


"With scarce belongings on your back
And enormous heritage in sour soul. 
Free from material things,
You greet many people
And love even more,
Free from material things,
You smile to all
And give away good wishes.
This is how you will climb and climb.
Feet firmly on the ground
Walking to your dream.
Pilgram, walk in freedom,
Walk without your belongings.
Pilgram, always towards your destination,
But never alone;
You encounter many in your way
And they remain in forever your heart.
You carry them in your rose-scented hands,
With which you give not only objects
But also joy.
Pilgram, may God remain forever
Wherever you transit."
:from a small spanish Church, on the way of St. James. 


With a seashell on my backpack, I joined centuries of men and women on the spanish path towards Santiago de Compostela.  Words cannot describe that week on the trail: the rain, the people, the landscape, the struggle, the joy. 

I feel so incredibly humbled to be a small speck in this tapestry of stories, of pilgrams, who have been making this journey for hundreds of years. 

God is good. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turkish Lights

Lamps at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Les Petits Riens

This weekend I found myself with that all too familiar urge to go on a little adventure. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of adventures to be found in Luxembourg, but I wanted to get out of my apartment, out of Differdange, heck, even out of the country.

Now, something you need to know (if you didn't already) is that I love thrifting. There's something about sifting through piles of junk for that one little treasure that thrills me. The wonderful Cate introduced me to the realm of second hand in high school, while Laura and I found ourselves in some pretty funky shops during our European adventures. In Luxembourg there's really no 'thrifting scene' so I did a little research about Brussels.

And I hit the jackpot.

Allow me to introduce to to Les Petits Riens, a warehouse of everything located just outside of Brussels' centre-ville. A social project (think Salvation Army), employing the unemployed and donating the proceeds to local homeless initiatives, it was like walking into a different world.


Each of the four (four!!) floors was filled with piles of clothes, mounds of dishes sold by the kilo, luggage, speakers, frames, furniture. There were vhs tapes, fake flowers, records, record players - an amazing collection of the obscure and archaic mixed in with the quirky and intriguing.




 If you visit, chances are you'll also find scores of artsy-looking students scavenging through piles. A fashion show is hosted every year comprised only of things found at Les Petits Riens. Standing there, I could imagine infinite possibilities for project-runway-esque challenges (complete with Tim Gunn).



I came back to Luxembourg with a small trash bag filled with scarves, a crazy looking dress, and striped sweaters. The next task will be figuring out how to wash, wash and wash again my new finds made of knits, wools and some kind of shiny fabric I can't identify. And thus, the adventure continues...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bretzelsonndeg

Today is quite possibly one of my favorite days in Luxembourg.

It's  bretzelsonndeg a.k.a. pretzel sunday.

Now, the concept of this day is that a nice gentleman will present his lady love with a beautiful pretzel on bretzelsonndeg. She might say thanks, and even give him a little kiss, but the true indicator of requited love comes weeks later on Easter Sunday. If she feels the same way (and really, if anyone gave me a pretzel, I'd probably love them forever), she presents the pretzel-giver with an Easter egg.

I knew I wouldn't be receiving a pretzel today (unless logistically insane shipping was involved), but how could I just sit in my apartment knowing that the bakeries were filled with pretzels? And we're not just talking the soft pretzel variety you find at the carnival, but sweet pretzels covered in chocolate and almonds.

So I rolled out of bed in time to make it to the bakery before it closed at noon and ordered a delicious pretzel and a cafe a emporter before I strolled around my sleepy Luxembourgish town taking in the morning.



I wondered, as I stood in front of the pastry case, if ordering myself a pretzel on pretzel Sunday was the equivalent of buying yourself chocolates on Valentine's Day but figured for this? For this day, I'm willing to look desperate if it means I can eat this:

Monday, March 21, 2011

A 20k stroll...

On Saturday, armed with the determination to do some serious training for the camino, Cafe Lux and I left in the wee hours of the morning for Lac Madine (If you haven't noticed already, she's sort of my partner-in-crime here in Luxembourg).

Lac Madine is a man-made lake in Lorraine, France, near la belle ville of Nancy. Though we only got a sprinkling of sunshine, it was beautiful.






 We took a little detour, climbing to the top of Montsec, a hill that over looked the lake. At the top was this monument, dedicated to the American soldiers who fought in this region during WWI. Actually, as we learned from another American who was visiting the monument at the same time, this hill was site of an important battle. The details escape me for the moment (I've never had a brain for battle history), but I remember sitting up there, wondering how many people visit this place. It must have been important at the time of it's construction - why else would it be there - but now? Now it's just a forgotten memory, until, maybe, another group of hikers gets a little curious.

It's something that I love about France, about Europe in general. No matter where you go, there's a treasure commemorating a moment in history. Sometimes its a monument, sometimes just a simple plaque, but it always makes you pause for just one second longer, to remember. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Expat Book Club


So, I have a confession.

Ready?

I'm a major book snob. I blame it on my English teacher junior year of high school. After heckling him about the literary merits of Harry Potter (I'm not so much of a snob that I don't appreciate the Hogwarts gang), he told us that, reading was like eating. Dessert, every once in a while is great, but if you were to try and survive solely on sugary delicacies, you'd get a stomach ache. Not to mention, it wouldn't be very healthy for you. So, from that day on, armed with that metaphor, I viewed reading as feeding my brain. Confronted with a new book, I ask myself, is this literary spinach, or the book equivalent of a ho-ho.

So, when I found this book on my bookshelf at the Chateau, I was skeptical. I considered -please don't hate me - the Di Vinci Code a little over appreciated (this also to do with the fact that I majored in art history in college and couldn't get behind his far fetched art theories), so a book that was compared to this Dan Brown novel made me a little nervous.

It was awesome. And perfect for train travel - not too much of a mind bender, but something to keep you happily engaged as you watch the scenery rush past.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jenna Sais Quois

My wonderful friend and fellow blogger, Jenna Sais Quois, has invited me to contribute as one of her weekly 'L'Amour List' features. She's a pretty stylish lady, so I am beyond honored to be on her blog this week.

Check it out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beets, Bears, Battlestar Gallactica

As we approach the middle of the semester, as sprint courses end and the first round of professors leave, the inevitable happens. I inherit a cornucopia of spices, grains, teas, coffee - the left over non-perishables that find their new home in my tiny little kitchen.

It's always a little bit like Christmas day, seeing the bounty that ends up outside my front door. It's almost like getting a little window into peoples' lives. Some would tell you to rummage through the garbage if you really wanted to get a small picture their of day to day living, but I tell you to check out the groceries.

This time around I found myself with yet another container of pine nuts. While I realize that for some this is an essential cooking standard, I always seem to forget I have them in my pantry. Thus, they remain unused with the unavoidable fate of being passed on to next year's tenant.

Until this weekend.

With my new supply of pine nuts and the hankering to do some serious cooking, I set about researching recipes. My criteria? I wanted to make something a little European (when in Rome, er Differdange, right?), without breaking the bank on groceries, or better yet, using up stuff I already had.

You can't get more European than this beet, leek and goat cheese tart, so I cracked open a beer and set about roasting les petites betteraves and toasting les pignons.


Continuing with the theme of tarts, for dessert I made little pine nut tartelettes (almost like a French version of pecan pie). The best part? Their petite size made them perfect for tossing in the freezer for a rainy day.


I still have quite the stash of pine nuts in my pantry, but if anything, this little cooking endeavor prompted me to think a little outside the box. Bon appetit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Anything But Settled'

To celebrate 'Pi Day' (3-14), I did the obvious and baked a pie. I also published my first post for a new collaborative blog effort that I'm a part of with a slew of insanely talented ladies- check it out!