This season!!

I can't believe it's December 21!!! But who says a lickedy-split season can't be savored?

We have been loving every second!

The Jamails laid-over in Brussels for a day just to spend time with us! They were incoming from Rwanda so the cold was a little shocking! These gals scurried around Brussels in not much more than borrowed scarves and rain boots! Such friends!

We braved the strange looks at the grocery store once more in preparation for the gingerbread house party. Candy-buying time! It's so fun to change things up and roam the aisles in search of building materials instead of meal ingredients. Cereal= roof shingles and gummy bears= garden gnomes.

Clay has continued meeting with Belgian pastors putting together some videos to be used as teaching tools. It's neat to get a broader perspective of what's going on in other parts of the country.

Oh, and news flash!! You are not going to believe this. We finished it. We have been working our way through MacGyver since before we were married. It has accompanied us many places (even the side of a mountain). And inspired much action (to be witnessed here, password: "secret").

And just this past week, the fellowship ended. We'll miss you Mac. Say hi to Jack, Kate, and Sawyer for us. Show 'em a thing or two.

Last weekend we benefited from some more friends laying over in Brussels. We got to share lunch and some Belgian desserts with Gabe and Janet. Such a fun day!

The day got better as not only was it Amy's birthday, but it was also the night of the light parade!! Which we got to watch from the warmth of our living room! Living on main street is where it's at!

It wasn't so much a Disney World light parade, more of a people wrapped in light ropes kind of thing. There was loud music and people were dancing. It was super fun and very "belge."

This past weekend it was mostly just a lot of this:

So what do you do when it looks like that? Watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, of course. If you have yet to do it this year, I encourage you. It really should be an annual thing. And make sure to pause it every few hours to pull back the curtains and ooo and aaahhh about the weather and your incredible fortune at being inside with the hobbits.

Huy really is gorgeous right now. Very icy and fresh. And slushy around the curbs. We love it.

And of course, Clay busies himself perfecting his snowball craft.

And that's our life right now. A quick-paced fun season, some work and some play. We are enjoying it all right now!


At the market today I beheld this sight:

A sad man not believing what his eyes were seeing.

Yes, Christmas trees for sale mere steps from our apartment.

And half the price of the one we lugged across town 2 days ago.

I think we'll laugh about this a long time. And neither of us regret Monday's trek in the least :)

Ali and Nada came over for enchiladas today! So fun. It was their first taste of Tex-Mex so we had no idea what they'd think.

Not only did they have seconds but the Chalula was even broken out!

Even Nada tried the hot sauce. When I saw this I immediately ran to my stash and presented her with their own bottle to take home. I was so proud.

We had a fun afternoon with our friends watching the snow falling outside the window. It was a great day.

Pray for sweet baby Mazen if you think of him. He has a horrible chest cold and has this breathing machine thing that the doctor gave him. Poor little love.

Now, off to construct some gingerbread houses!


Christmas-time is here!

I feel very motivated this Christmas. Motivated to focus on and soak every drop out of this season in which we celebrate God coming to earth to give us life. Last year Christmas just kind of came and went. I think it had something to do with it being our first solo Christmas away from family. Kind of lonely and sad to be honest. I realized last week that if we were going to really do Christmas this year, we were going to have to make it happen ourselves.

I keep hearing about Advent on some of the blogs I read, so we've been giving it a shot. We haven't quite found the right study yet (maybe I should start researching before December next year :) but being reminded everyday to really focus on Jesus' coming and what it means to us has been really incredible.

We watched The Nativity Story a few nights ago and have plans to watch The Star of Bethlehem with some friends soon. (The guy that does the Star of Bethlehem presentations is going to be in College Station Dec. 23. We highly recommend it!)

The season is starting to kind of take on a mind of its own and I'm LOVING IT!

We decided to really festive-up the apartment this year.

We got our first real tree!!!

We've never had a real tree as a couple or even an artificial one taller than 24 inches, and decided that THIS would be the year we officially deck our halls.

We called around and found that Mr. Bricolage had some real trees for sale. Only a 30 minute walk to get there.... in the freezing cold.

Consider it done.

The chosen one. (And our lovely nuclear power plant in the background.)

Here we go.

The walk home wasn't quite so much fun as the walk there, but it was pretty exciting thinking about getting home to decorate our new little friend.

As we were walking we texted Josh and Amy to come over for tortilla soup and to decorate tree Sandoz.

Clay has decided that we shall never cease to tell our future children how easy they have it. "Why, back in our day, we didn't have fancy cars to lug our Christmas trees home for us. We had to stumble for miles and miles through the snow to ol' Mr. Bricolage, only to have to carry the darned thing on our shoulders all the way back home."

Yes, our kids will thank us for this Christmas.

We had to split up so I could find a tree-stand, so Clay muscled the final quarter-mile himself. Can you see my little tree-carrying man crossing the bridge?

Clay and Josh did the hard labor while Amy and I strung popcorn and buttons into garland.

I like this picture because Josh just got stabbed by some incredibly sharp needles.

The finished product.

It's Christmas-time, friends!


It's that time of year again.

Guess what time of year it is again?

The time of year I do what I swore last year I would never do again.

Gingerbread time!

This year, I shall not be outwitted by dough. No more tears. I bought a HUGE mixing bowl and ditched the wooden spoon for a hand-mixer. My forearms are thanking me and I am thanking Clay who is currently cleaning the kitchen because he is wonderful.

5 batches of gingerbread dough never came together so easy.

Now, to the fridge with you! We meet again tomorrow.

It's interesting going through the exact same process that I went through one year ago with this gingerbread. I think the whole experience is telling and something for me to learn from. This 2nd time around is no big deal. The stress level is turned way down. Making the dough was a cinch due to my notes from last year and the nearly 2 year-old comfort of my Belgian kitchen. My expectations for the party are super mellow, mainly because I am better friends now with everyone that will be there, my French is better, and most of the guests are all old pros now at decorating strange little cookie houses.

I want to remember all this when it's time to dive back into a sea of "firsts" again. That it just gets easier.

Oh, and you want to see something cute?

Check out Mazen in his winter suit.

I am in love.

Goodnight all!


Pumpkin Pie.

Sirin and I had a fun snow day yesterday. Xavier had a meeting near Huy so he deposited my friend with me for the day.

Last year they mentioned they wanted to try pumpkin pie so that's what we set ourselves to. (Sidenote: I also discovered something new at the grocery store- we have evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk here! Thank you lait concentré. You are worth your weight in the cheesecake that I can now make with you. Indeed this changes everything.)

We felt like little apothecaries measuring our powders and grinding cloves. All done in super-cute aprons of course.

O it IS the holidays, it really IS!

While our masterpiece cooled we went out for a walk to the shops in Huy. The snow was intense. The flakes were coming down in clumps. And their shapes were incredible

Can you make out the big one in the middle there? A perfect star! We stood there staring at it until we finally had to start letting people pass on the sidewalk.

The perfection and intricacy of snowflakes kind of blows my mind. To see something so creative and then realize that there are a gazillion more of them falling unceasingly in buckets all around you... God is kind of overwhelming. If we had stood there much longer I probably would have been weeping.

After dinner Clay and I enjoyed a piece of pumpkin pie and saluted Leslie Nielson in Naked Gun.

We'll miss you Mr. Nielson. Thanks for making us laugh so hard.

"This is our hill... and these are our beans!"

P.S. We will see how much fun snowflakes are when I have to walk to the laundry mat today to dry our clothes...



Thanksgiving! The 4 of us Americans decided to share the day with some of the Belgians in our lives and introduce them to a proper Thanksgiving meal.

Our guests started arriving before we even did. Nothing was ready. The table wasn't set, food was still in the bags we carried them over in. We just told them that chaos was a part of the American Thanksgiving tradition, and they rolled up their sleeves and jumped in to help. We set the table, which included spreading miniature pumpkins and pumpkin seeds around the plates. Center pieces are not something I would normally call essential for Thanksgiving, but there is some switch that flips on when you are celebrating an American holiday outside of America that makes these details non-negotiable :)

We went easy on them for appetizers. Spiced wine was served alongside a tray of typical snacks- stuffed olives and peppers. We did however shake it up with the Tabasco jalapeno jelly.... I wish you could have seen their faces when I poured the jar out over a nice big brick of cream cheese. We needed someone to break the ice for sure. I called Clay over to try some on a cracker and also be the official taste-tester of the group. All it took was a first taste and they were hooked.

Amy made a pumpkin soup the get things rolling, and then we cleared the plates to get ready for the main course. Only...

The huge rooster we had prepared wasn't cooked through. Awesome.

We turned the bird over to Sam and Nathalie who are way more experienced.

While we got the rest of the meal table-ready, Clay entertained some of our guests. I love this picture because you can tell by Clay's face he is speaking French. The guy is so belge. It cracks me up. I also like all of their faces. We get looked at like this a lot :)

My full plate. Yum.

The bounty: Ham, stuffing, salad, beer bread, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a rooster that was still in the oven.

They loved the ham. The sweet potatoes had them all scratching their heads, though. The whole concept of something sweet mixed with the main meal is pretty uncommon here. Oh and the cranberry sauce had me laughing. I bought some in a jar at our grocery store, but when I went to put it in bowls I realized it was really just jelly. So we ate straight up jelly with our meal. You can blame us if you ever come across a Belgian that claims to be "just like the Americans" by eating jelly with a fork. Yeah, that one's on us.

Dessert was apple pie, brownies (Betty Crocker, a true treat), and ice cream (Blue Bell wouldn't ship so we settled for the local brand.... it sufficed). Pumpkin pie isn't something that has gone over well in the past so we decided to abstain this year. You have to pick your battles.

It was so special sharing one of our traditions with people that have been sharing theirs with us for the past 2 years.

Another thing that had me laughing was the pumpkins. There was this one particular mini pumpkin that I was saving to take home. I had grand plans of making the world's smallest jack o lantern. It was going to be awesome.

Which pumpkin do you think Anthony chose to destroy by fire?

The favored one.

When I saw it I couldn't stop laughing. He reminded me of that creepy neighbor kid in the first Toy Story that mutilated all those toys. Boys.

This week looks to be a slower one. Lots of video work to keep us inside, which is great considering the snow that's been coming down.

This was the view out of our kitchen window yesterday around 5pm (yes, FIVE! It gets dark so early!). The flakes had just started sticking to rooftops.

And this is the sight that greeted us when we woke up.

Time to pull out the thick socks, boots, and those fabulous jeans that are huge enough to accommodate an extra layer of long-johns underneath.

The up-side is that it's gorgeous. I wonder if snow will ever get old? Years of Houston winters has me loving it!



Guess where we were the last few days:


It was a quick trip home in between our flights from Latin America to Belgium.

And it was perfect.

We were able to spend close to 24 hours with each family. After such a long video/photography trip, I was ready to put the camera down, but I snagged a few of Mom's pictures that make me smile.

As usual, the Pasches were laughing together from pretty much the moment we walked in the door. Gma had brought down some jeans she had found in her closet from the 8os. It was so good to be together and laugh! (how were zippers ever so long??)

Of course most of the time was spent like this. LOTS to talk about!

Gma made her meatloaf on Wed. night and it felt like Christmas all being at her house.

I for one am happy to finally see one of these Gma-dining-room-shots with ME in them! :) Mom even gave us all a Christmas present just to take advantage of it feeling like a holiday.

You really can't beat this.

We flew out at 6am on Thursday morning and arrived back in Belgium today.

As the train from the airport got closer and closer to Huy, we were just so happy. To have completed our month-long video trip well, to have snagged 2 incredible bonus days with our family, and to then be traveling closer and closer to our little apartment and more importantly our BED, which we were pretty ready to fall into by that point.

It was so good to be home!!!

And the leaves are changing! Huy had such a pretty welcome ready for us.

It is rainy and chilly outside, but we are warm in our sweet little home, nestled down deep into our cozy burrow of dirty laundry and unopened mail :)

It all feels really good.