Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Experiment Successful!

YES!  Money successfully transferred!
I was beginning to worry I'd have to escort it back to Canada personally in a suitcase or something, but this is much MUCH better.

Now to get back to researching plane tickets and dreaming in gingerbread (more about this later.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

A scary (and possibly ill-advised) experiment

An international transfer of funds from my bank account here to my bank account back home.

When this was last tried it was Boyfriend trying to transfer funds from his account here in Belgium to an account we'd set up for him to receive the funds in Canada, and it totally didn't work.  Granted, the woman processing the transaction at his bank messed up and wrote down the wrong sequence of numbers, but thanks to her error by the time his money was bounced back to him he was several Euros lighter, and back at square one.

I sent a message to my bank outlining the information I needed from them.  They sent me what seems like some of the right information and some irrelevant information... possibly.  From exploring my bank website here, I was (crazily...what was I thinking?) led to believe that maybe I *did* have all the information I needed after all to initiate the transfer.  So I did.  And now I'm scared.

There are so many ways this could go wrong, and I'm just really hoping right now that this doesn't end up being some sort of expensive failure/learning experience.  Because that would suck.

I'll be nervously checking my Canadian account every day like a mother-hen.  Where is my money right now?  I don't know!  It's trying to navigate the void!  Why god, WHY did I decide to try this on a Friday?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recent additions

To my hips!  I stumbled across another stash of chocolate bars one day, and well, lets just say they didn't last too long.  First up: Kinder's Happy Hippo.  This also comes in White chocolate only versions if I understand correctly, but here I tried the one that has half chocolate cream and half white cream inside.  It absolutely wins on the novelty front, with the adorable shape and the idea of wafer on the outside and chocolate on the inside.  Also, very tasty!  Better than all the other Kinder products I've been exposed to in fact.  There's a rich taste to the chocolate filling that is sweet, but not sugar coma sweet.  And it's creamy.  Mmm.  If you see one, get it.  Eating enjoyment!

You could just eat him up, what with those adorable "please don't eat me" eyes and all, no?  Well, I could at least.

Balisto Korn-Mix: 2nd best of the Balistos I've had so far.  Although it's not too sweet, and while the corn taste is noticable without being annoying, I have to say that when it comes down to it, this bar is boring, meh.

Notice how this one says "à la tiramisu?"  Liars!  This is what happens when a marshmallow meets a snack cake in an amaretto-coffee confused haze, and then a bastard child is born.  Tragically bad.  The texture was ... gummy, and the taste was decidedly cake-like but not at all tiramisu-like.  This one is now at the very bottom of my list.

Another variety of Balisto.  I think that they try to market themselves as healthy simply because they don't taste very good, because god knows they don't actually have any fibre, or less calories than the other real chocolate bars kicking around in Belgium.  This one was very, VERY sweet.  There was no real taste of yogurt or berries, and no textural difference from the others.  I had hoped for little currant-like fruit-bits as were in the Meusli-mix Balisto, but *sigh*, no.  Hopefully I've eaten all the kinds of Balisto in existence now, because I have to say the disappointments with them... it's getting monotonous.

Now to go for a niiiice looong walk.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Well whaddya know?

I finally figured how to get my blog to allow comments.
It only took me... 8 months of fighting with my formats after accidentally setting something the wrong way to begin with.  yeesh.

In other news, today I finally stumbled across this video.  Having attended a well respected University of the Arts, all I can say is though I still don't really like Lady Gaga all that much, I do love this video.  It's unhealthily awesome, and though the song compliments the video, the video is 10 times more awesome than the song.  All the little details in it (hello 3:01-3:02 albino bat headpiece) make me want to watch it in slow motion, or even better yet with stopped frames.  And the almost lobster-claw Alexander McQueen heels that she's wearing (which one fashion magazine in Canada complained nobody could walk in) while singing "walk walk fashion baby"are fabulous.  This is an aesthetic cornucopia.  The digital editing on her body when she's in the cage-like structure (Shades of Chris Cunningham's creature in the Aphex Twin video "come to Daddy",) very cool.  The white PVC costume with the built in ribs and spine for that extra-creepy emaciated look ... hello!  As an aside, I love her nails in the opening sequence, where I also love the "slightly more whacked" Anna Wintour hair/shades combo.  And the glasses!  The lenses are made of razor and Xacto knife blades!  Can I die now?  Here is a video really working very hard at selling a song.  That along with Alexander McQueen fashion, and Nemiroff vodka (mind you I personally think this product placement stands out as a little gaudy,) and Parrot audio gear, Carrerra shades and, well, I guess we know where the all the money for the video came from now, don't we?

Video: "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga

Now.  Just remember after all I've said that this is about the video.  I still don't like Lady Gaga.  Never have.  I'll be offended if you think I do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Buckle in...

This may be a long one.  *Takes deep breath trying to organize thoughts & events.*  It might be a little messy too.  But there are pictures!

So.  I've been sleeping like some kind of creature preparing for hibernation lately.  Yesterday I slept in until 7am (I normally wake around 5), then went back to bed at 11 and slept until 2:30.  I dozed off again on the couch later around 8pm and aside from being woken up to head upstairs to bed, slept right through until 5:45ish this morning.  Soundly.  Evidently I have a little black-bear DNA hiding in there or something.

Yesterday being November 11th, boyfriend and I both had the day off.  During our non-lazing about time, we went and paid a visit to the nearby American Cemetery of the Ardennes, in Nandrin.

Recently visited stones had sand rubbed into the engraving.  I'd like to know the story behind this.

This one confuses me a little.

I will say this much: it was a miracle that it wasn't raining when we went to the cemetery.  I'm beginning to think Belgium's winterish weather is worse than Toronto's.  Here, it rains.  It's cold and it rains, all the time.  It's miserable!  Going for a walk in the forest is a muddy mess, and though many would disagree on account of the colder temperatures in Toronto, all I can say is it's easier to stay warm when you are DRY.  Dry air is what we get with the cold in T.O., and you can brush snow off... rain...not so much.

Which brings me to Rally weekend.  The first day of Rallye du Condroz I woke up with very unpleasant stomach pain, and it of course was raining and cold outside.  Joy.  I did manage to get my butt out the door though, and we made it to the first special (race) on time to see the zero cars pass (these are the cars that come before the competitors in order to ensure the route is ok.)  I have to say that this is one of the things I discovered about Rally watching here: Hot spiced wine makes being out at 8am in rain and wind much better.

Are you shocked?  I should have taken pictures of all the people with 24 cases of beer, eating pain au saucisse at 8am for you too.  It's not just a Rallye thing either, morning drinking is not seen as odd here, really.  I've had friends say they're shocked to see people drinking beer at 10am in Berlin.  Here it's more like 7am that you can walk past a café and see two old gents chatting over a glass.  We had a good laugh last night while watching the news, when the subject of non-smoking legislation in cafés was being discussed.  It was because the report started off with the anchor saying "many people enjoy their morning cigarette accompanied by a cup of coffee or a glass of beer."  As if it were dead normal, which it pretty much is here.  Now for a few Rally pics:

Rain = slippery conditions

Very slippery.

Did I mention it was slippery?

On our way to the second special.

Finishing off day 1.  Cold, wet, dirty.

Day two was much sunnier!

And now for something completely different:  If you are into food and cooking (as I happen to be,) then you should see Julie & Julia.  Not the most serious cinema, but well researched, interesting, touching, and funny.

Rain rain go away.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's official...

The seat on the bus that faces someone else is the 'get coughed on' seat.

Everytime!  Everytime I sit there, I get coughed at by the person sitting directly opposite me.

Today that meant on the way to work, and on the way back.


This weekend is the Rallye du Condroz!  Tomorrow I'm off to watch cars do stuff on narrow winding roads!  It's my first rally!  I'm taking my camera!  I hope it doesn't suck!


Just an interesting factoid from over around these parts: 25 employees of France Telecom have committed suicide in the past 20 months.  Wow, I wonder what their company culture is like?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Les approches de saison

It's safe to say it's fall here, and quickly on it's way to being the double-Christmas.

Double Christmas?  Yes.  I have termed it this because here on December 6th there is the jour de Saint Nicholas, which is the day which seems to be more of a gifting-occasion.  On the 25th there is Christmas, which seems to be more of a gathering with family thing, but not exclusive of gifting as well.

This is a little confusing for a person who comes from a super-consumerist "gogogo" overscheduled sort of society.  I have to say that the sentimentalist in me thinks it's nice that there are several family and friend gathering occasions around this time of year (New Years Day is also another,) however the obsessively organized part of my mind is panicking, not knowing when I need to be ready for what.  I don't even know when to start making Christmas sweets so they'll be ready for the correct occasion, because Christmas has been deconstructed, oh nos!

Of making sweets:  I've been looking awhile now for a decent candy thermometer that will double nicely for chocolate work, and have yet to see the one I feel like forking out several euros for.  We scoped out another professional kitchen supply store yesterday, and while they had several things I hadn't yet spotted here that would be nice to have or at least to know where to find for when the occasion arrives, the top items on my list were not found, yet again.  Seriously, how hard is it to find a store that has a decent bulk supply of quality chocolate, and a frikkin' digital candy thermometer?  I think I'm going to have to resort to online means, or a trip to another country, or at least to the other side of this country, where the Callebaut factory lives.

So there is a little pressure mounting, and there has been a little disappointment in the sweet-creating part of my mind and life.  I've recently tried 2 new recipes and had 2 failures.  One fail was the internet recipe which looked ok on paper, but the result was, well, not great.  Edible but not great.  The other fail was my fault.  This morning I was trying out a new carrot-cake recipe (interesting to me because it used nut powders, and had a distinct absence of raisins or spices.)  I misconverted 2,5cL as 250mL.  It was morning, and I could plead foggy headedness but somehow I think this is just one of those things where my foreign brain isn't accustomed to seeing cL or dL in recipes very often. : /  I *thought* a cup of oil was a lot... and it was.  There was no redeeming the fail, (unless I felt like making 10 carrot cakes, which I didn't) though I did try a few culinary experiments before retiring the batter to the garbage.  In case you had ever wondered: sweet carrot pancakes are interesting, but not all that good.

And that's where things are at.  Nothing terribly exciting for the moment, which I suppose isn't all that bad now and then, a little calm leaves me the time to do a few things around here that need doing (like hemming pants, which is boring I know,) watching a few borrowed DVDs, trying to figure out how to most intelligently handle the deconstructed Christmas, (not to mention how to try and get gifts to Canada on time by post,) and getting a little extra sleep (never bad in flu-season.)