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.


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!


So Luxembourg has this festival. Beurgbrennen.

For all intents and purposes it's your standard pagan-holiday-turned-semi-religious-after-Christianity-came-to-Europe kind of holiday. The entire community comes out, lights a big pile of old Christmas trees on fire, and celebrates the 'burning away of winter' and the welcoming of spring.

There's just one little catch. That pile of dried up Christmas trees? It's arranged in the shape of a cross.

Yup, once a year, every Luxembourgish village burns a giant cross.

For Americans this is a little unsettling: that kind of iconography is burned (ha, get it?) into our brains to represent hate. But here? Burning crosses mean only one thing - Beurgbrennen.

Over the weekend I went with Cafe Lux to a small village on the Mosel, and sat on the rocks, drinking beer, watching the end of another winter go up in flames. It felt warm and cozy - and not just because a pile of wood roughly the size of a house was burning five yards away from us. You couldn't help but feel the magic of standing together, with loved ones, watching the passage of time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ohio Homecoming 2011

While I'm loving my European adventure, I haven't forgotten about my little city on the lake. Last year, it got a little bit of a bad rap (a certain magazine rated it as the 'most miserable city' in America), but instead of Clevelanders letting that bring them down, they decided to show the world exactly why we weren't miserable. That, in fact, this city has so much to offer and some of the most genuine people in the mid-west.

To quote a fellow Cleveland enthusiast: 'This city is buzzing.'

So, this July, a mere week after I move back to the states, I'll be celebrating Cleveland's birthday with an event called Ohio Homecoming. This video was shot last summer and I get goosebumps every time I watch it - I remember looking out at the crowd, thinking 'miserable? yeah right.'

I have a little project I've been working on that will be in this summer's line up of events (more on that later), and I gotta say, Cleveland rocks.

If you're reading this, from Cleveland, and interested in learning more about Ohio Homecoming, shoot me an email! There are so many fun ways to get involved.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leuven, Belgium

The city center...
....fresh flowers....
....bricks and bikes...
....moon lit libraries...
...architectural eye candy...
...and inside? It's practically a different world.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"The vital importance of being earnest"

Not too long ago I found myself back in Paris and I figured it was about time to visit some dear friends (morbidly enough) in Pere Lachaise cemetery. There was Chopin, Edith Piaf and dear dear Oscar Wilde.

I don't know many 16 year old girls who would lay on their stomachs, giggling over Mr. Wilde's prose, finding lovesick solace in his wit. But we did, and I figured the least I could do was lay a few blooms on his already very venerated grave.

So thanks Oscar.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility! - Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Obidos, Portugal


On this last day of February I find myself wondering where this month went. It certainly took me a lot of places. For a month that holds no expectation, I found myself blissfully surprised by the love and light I found in a month known for the cold and darkness.

Last week I was swept away again, once more to the southern part of the continent and the sunny shores of Portugal.

And, I think I have one picture.

It was one of those weeks where it almost didn't seem possible to capture these fleeting moments on film. I just wanted to absorb everything and let it all soak in - the sun, the colors, the smells, the little flutterings in my heart.

Et alors, adieu fevrier. March, let's see what you've got.