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My life in five years, if all goes according to plan…

So, let’s pretend five years have passed. My business is booming and things are going well for us. Here is what my goals are for my ideal life five years from now…

I wake up in the morning a little before my family and have a coffee while I journal for a little while and prepare my agenda for the day.

Once Lily (and the boys if they’re still living at our house) wake up, I join them for breakfast and help them get out the door to school or work.

If the weather permits, Lily, the dog and I walk together to her school and then the pup and I walk back up the hill. She’s getting a bit old so it takes us a while to get home but there’s no rush anymore.

When I get home, I check the plants, do a little yoga, reading or meditation, listen to the birds and clear my head. Once in a while, one of my friends or a coaching client stops by during this downtime and we chat over a cup of tea. 

I then head in the house and go up to my workshop. I’ve worked hard to make it a beautiful and constructive haven. All of my crafting and sewing supplies are easy to find and easy to hide out of sight when I need to stay concentrated. My worktable doubles as a desk for one-on-one workshops and appointments. I’ve got a audio-visual devices around the room so that at any moment I can start a live video to hangout with other creatives around the world.

I try to alternate my days, one day I work on my own creative projects, one day I work on projects for the blog, one day I develop products to sell, one day I write a blog post. This room has become one of my favorite places in the world and every minute spent in here recharges my batteries.

When I finish work for the day, if I have time, I head either to the reading room to work on whichever book I’m currently working through or down to the kitchen to bake some snacks.

At 3pm, I walk down to Lily’s school to fetch her and we have a snack together before cleaning the house and playing or creating things together.

Most evenings, the whole family eats dinner together and we watch a little Netflix before heading to bed to get a full night’s sleep for another day.

I spend no more than one weeknight teaching workshops or classes away from my family. I am so happy to have the ability to snuggle and read to my daughter nearly every single night before she falls asleep and to have plenty of relaxed time to spend with my husband once the house is quiet.

Some of my days are different. From time to time, I have a full day workshop to teach. Once in a while, I invite a creative person I know to come to the house and teach me (on video) how to do something I’ve never done before. Sometimes I have an appointment with a coaching client to help them develop their own creativity.

A few times per year, I have a creative retreat to lead. These can be one weekend or sometimes a full week. I rent one of the MANY castles or B&B’s in my area and spend an extended period of time working on projects with my clients and giving them the encouragement they need to move forward.

We live a comfortable life. I earn enough money through my various revenue sources that Phil and I can afford to pay all of our bills with no stress. We go on our two week family vacation to Spain every summer and once in a while we splurge on a special family trip to the states, Guadeloupe or someplace else.

I’m relaxed and happy. I have a lot of things going on in my job but they’re ALL things which bring me joy and so I’m very rarely stressed out by my work. I earn enough that I can afford to outsource those aspects of my job which bring me stress and concentrate instead on just those aspects which bring me joy.

Our home is nicely decorated and filled with handmade, one-of-a-kind items. Our garden overflows with easy-to-maintain and edible plants. Every member of the family has a favorite spot int he home where they can relax and recharge their batteries.

First thing every morning and last thing every night, I sit in my bed to count my blessings, and all of you are included.

I create. I’m happy. My family is calm, relaxed and happy. Life is good.

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Our Family Command Center

With the new move, I find myself more motivated than ever to get our home and family organized. I’ve tried and tested many different household management methods over the years and I feel that I’ve finally got a good idea of what ought to work for us.

In our new house, there is a space between the kitchen and the stairwell which I feel will work perfectly as the location for a family command center. This little room is big enough to be considered a breakfast nook but for us it’s not much more than a glorified hallway. However, we go through it many, MANY times per day. One side of the room is going to serve as a coffee / drinks bar but this wall here would be a perfect spot for the calendars and memo boards.

What a huge expanse of blank wall!

What am I talking about? A family command center is a designated place in the home for communication and organization. It is different for every family depending on their needs, interests and desires.

While I researched command centers, I gathered my ideas together in my Pinterest in an effort to figure out exactly what we need.

  • a family calendar to keep all of our schedules organized
  • a meal planner of some kind (Phil received a free calendar at the local SPAR and wants to use that for his menu planning)
  • a place to post messages to one another
  • a way to file and sort our paperwork
  • a centralized to-do list

After a trip to IKEA to hunt for solutions and a bit of time to let my ideas marinate, I was ready to get started. The first step was to assemble the Kvissle filing system and cover it with some white oak adhesive vinyl. Of course, the little one helped.

Nothing better than working with my apprentice by my side

Once all of the pieces of the command center were ready, it was time to figure out the set-up.

My first step was to carefully measure all of the components of the command center as well as the available space itself. I took out my trusty Atoma notebook and made a scale model of the entire project, wall, message boards, everything.

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Once everything was sketched out, I cut out the pieces and played with the arrangement until I had something which looked right.

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Once I was happy with the set-up, I made full size templates and pulled out my ruler to put them up on the wall as I’d planned.

To make your full size paper templates, set your to-be-hung items on old gift wrap and trace around them. Cut out the template and mark where nails and screws have to go. Now you can simply tape the templates onto the wall and rearrange until you’ve found a layout you enjoy. Then there’s nothing easier than simply drilling the holes through the templates themselves!

Paper templates

The wall, unfortunately, is structural. I had to send Phil off to the hardware store to get a more powerful drill as ours just couldn’t get through the concrete. He drilled my holes for me and I was able to get the entire thing set up to go in a matter of minutes.

I love my to-do list but it needs a bit more tweaking before it works as planned for our family. Once I have worked out all the kinks, it will get its own post.

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Quick and Easy Coffee and Wine Bar

The kitchen in our new house is tiny. There is about half as much cupboard space as in our old house and the pantry is still unfinished. The biggest cupboards in the kitchen are reserved for food items, then there’s the plates and serving dishes. The pots and pans take up all of the space under the microwave and suddenly we find that there’s not much space for cups and glasses. Whatever is a coffee drinking family to do?!

Fortunately, there’s the nook off of the kitchen which we walk through many times a day. It’s an ideal spot for a fancy coffee and wine bar like you see in those expensive home decor magazines.

We moved the buffet into place and I started measuring and plotting. I want to have the coffeemakers and boiler on one side and my wine cask and Sodastream on the other. The best solution for this, would be to build a pair of risers which would raise the machines up to a convenient height and separate the space visually.

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Suddenly, I realized that the two shelves I wanted to build of 50 cm wide by 30 cm deep were exactly the same measurements as the apple crates I keep seeing for sale on Facebook marketplace. The only problem with the crates is that they’re 40 cm high, so more like extra shelves than simple risers.

When I told Phil of my discovery, he perked right up. Crates mean that I can get the most often used glasses out of the buffet cupboards where they constantly pick up the smell of the wood and need to be washed before each use.

There were several people in my immediate area with apple crates for sale but after a week and a half with no reply, I decided to search a bit further. I discovered a hidden treasure trove with opening hours like no store I’ve ever seen in Belgium!

Guy Guy La Brocante is located in a warehouse in the little town of Vitrival between Namur and Charleroi near the N-98. Mister Dethier, the owner of the business is a passionate entrepreneur. He and I chatted for a bit while I was in his shop and he told me about how difficult it has been for him to earn a solid living as a small business owner.

He has a lot of things in his shop which I may have to come back for in the future. He sells wine casks turned into liquor cabinets, for example! He’s got various sizes of casks, including ones large enough for my dream doghouse for Zoubi.

His specialty, however, is apple crates. He has hundreds of them throughout his shop. They’re available in a variety of sizes and you can choose your favorite finishes. There are vintage crates, new crates, flame finished (my favorite!), and painted. Many of them are sold exactly as they’re used in an orchard but he also alters them by adding shelves or dividers.

I chose several different flame finished crates, two of the 50x40x30 crates with a horizontal shelf and several smaller ones for decorating the rest of the house.

I ran home with my haul and was able to quickly set up my drink bar.

Wine and Coffee bar

I had a nasty little surprise while setting up the bar, however. The crates have a bit of a rough finish so when I tried sliding them around to finalize their positions, I noticed that the one on the left was digging a deep scratch into the buffet.

I fixed that issue this morning by buying a piece of thick felt at AVA which I cut into four strips and slipped under the edges of the crates. I’ll probably move things around a bit more in the coming days until I get the set-up perfect for our needs but I ADORE this coffee and wine bar.

If this post inspires you to create your own wine or coffee bar, please let me know. I’d love to see what you make!

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Is hypersensitivity a blessing or a curse ?

One characteristic which has always been part of my personality is the fact that I’m hypersensitive. This has often been seen as a burden to be overcome. That is because while I am aware of my heightened emotions at all times, others tend to notice this more in when I’m bathing in negative feelings.

As a child, I would laugh and cry for no reason that anyone else could understand. My poor mother anguished over how best to deal with me. She had six daughters and ran a home-based daycare, she simply did not have the time and energy required to get into my head and help me make sense of my world. I would often be told to stop over-reacting and that I had to learn how to make my reactions proportionate to the events which were occurring.

This lack of understanding of one of my most fundamental personality traits led me to develop clinical depression and suicidal fixation by my late teens. I wanted nothing so much as to simply stop feeling everything all of the time. I began to develop some bad habits in my early twenties which were mostly focused on numbing my reactions to the world around me. Obviously, this was never the correct path to follow.

When I was about twenty five, I decided to open a home-based daycare like my mother before me. One of the very positive aspects of my hypersensitivity is that I can love very quickly and very strongly. I quickly developed a core group of clients who felt blessed to know that they had a daycare provider who, while their children were in my care, would love and support their children as if they were my own babies.

In one instance, a six month old infant was having a terrible time teething. He had several teeth breaking through at the same time and to make matters worse, his mother had only recently gone back to work. Between the anguish of being separated from his mother for the first time in his life and being in more pain than he’d ever known, the poor child could not stop screaming.

In many daycare situations, this poor baby would have had to cry himself to sleep and learn to self-soothe very quickly. I had five other children to care for and needed to cook, clean, and entertain everybody. I could have put him in his playpen and simply checked on him every twenty minutes or so to apply his teething gel and adjust his mobile… however I could not bear to allow the poor child to suffer from something so far beyond his understanding of the world. So, I purchased a baby wearing scarf.

When his mother dropped him off in the morning, we would simply transfer his tiny sleeping form from his car seat directly into my sling. He’d stay there, next to my heart until his mother arrived at noon to nurse him then he’d go right back in for the afternoon until she came to pick him up. He still screamed from time to time and even managed to give me a bloody nose once with a well placed punch but his mother could concentrate on doing her job well because she knew that her little treasure was as loved as he would have been with her.

When the economic crisis of 2008 hit us in rural Indiana, most of my clients lost their jobs. With no children to care for, my daycare failed and I found myself unable to pay rent on my home. The family of this little boy opened their home and hearts to my animals and me for the next year and a half. I would watch their kids when they were at work and when they got home, I worked on getting back on my own feet. More than a decade later, I still think about them daily and I know that my family and I are often mentioned in their evening prayers.

While working with children over the last two decades of my life, I’ve come to realize that being hypersensitive to others’ emotional states means that I can identify with ease those children who need their hug to last just a little bit longer than usual, those children who need someone to sit quietly beside them and listen, those children who do not feel heard or understood. I can blur the line between friend and authority figure for many children so that they feel comfortable asking me questions they would never dare ask another adult in their lives. Given some of the encounters I have had, I am sure that my ability to put their minds at ease has helped a good number of young souls to set aside their worries and concentrate on enjoying life.

Being hypersensitive has made me a better mother. While our teenagers don’t always want to discuss what is going on, I can often notice small changes in their behaviors which my husband doesn’t see. This has allowed us to have him plan some alone time with the troubled child to allow them a chance to confide in their father over whatever is happening.

I’ve been highly aware of my little girl’s emotional states ever since her birth. I’ve been able to understand and appreciate her attempts at communication since very early on. In one instance, when she was around four months old, I was changing her diaper and she reached over to me. Curiously, I allowed her to manipulate my arm. She brought my elbow to her mouth, attempted to nurse on it, and burst into a fit of giggles. I looked at my folded arm and understood instantly that my folded elbow was indeed quite round with a sharp point and yes, it DID resemble a nipple. My tiny pre-verbal baby had made her first joke! My ability to perceive and understand what she was expressing meant that this charming moment did not get overlooked as something as simple as gas giggles.

She has learned that if Papa doesn’t understand what she’s trying to say, she needs to come to Mom for a translation. I can pick up on cues that her papa simply doesn’t notice. For example, when she pointed out this light in the bathroom of our new house, exclaimed “Nose light!” and started giggling, I was instantly able to see what she saw and laugh along with her. Now, each night as she puts on her pajamas and delays bedtime by saying goodnight to everything she sees, we both blow a kiss and wish her nose-light a goodnight.

Liliana's Nose Light

Being hypersensitive means that yes, it doesn’t take much to cut me deeply. I am fully and constantly aware of the smallest expressions and subterfuges of the people around me. I can, from time to time, find myself hurt to the point of tears by a small comment from someone I care about.

Fortunately my loved ones are aware of this and will not hesitate to explain when I’ve misunderstood their meaning. I’ve also developed, over time and through endless conversations with my husband, the ability to express what has hurt me and why I reacted so strongly using language that non hypersensitive people can comprehend.

Noticing small insults has, however, made me hyper-aware of the facades and subterfuge of those who I feel very friendly towards but whose intentions towards me are less than genuine. This allows me, more often than not, the time to start building an emotional wall to protect myself before their words and actions have a chance to escalate to the point of consciously trying to hurt me. Often these people are those for whom someone like me, someone who feels everything strongly and is unashamed to have emotions, is seen as a target with weak defenses who they could easily destroy. Often they are surprised when I do not react quite as they predicted.

Yes, it’s heartbreaking each and every time that this situation replays. However I have developed a pride in my sensitivity which grants me the resilience to weather the storm of emotions and hurt so that I come out of the situation with deeper love for myself, a sympathetic feeling for the one who would hurt me, and the courage to reevaluate the events which led up to the most recent occurrence. I often bounce back from the heartbreak with positivity, joy, and motivation to redirect my path towards something more genuine. My capacity for deep hurt is nowhere near as strong as my capacity for deep joy and optimism and that is an enormous strength.

My hypersensitivity has made me a magnet for others with the same quality. I have developed a core group of friends who love and support me and who I can always trust to share their genuine reactions with me. I have been able to work with my mother to repair our broken relationship by translating my feelings and experiences into words she could understand and doing the work of understanding the meaning and intention behind her own feelings and reactions.

Being hypersensitive means that I cry easily, sure. However it also means that I smile easily, I laugh readily, I love deeply and I can connect with ease to the emotional states of those I love and search for ways to improve their lives and their world.

I used to regard my hypersensitivity as a curse. It made me feel weak and it attracts those who would victimize me. Now, however, I see it as a blessing. I am able to empathize with other sensitive souls, no matter their age or social standing, and develop true and deep connections with people who our society grossly undervalues.

My hypersensitivity is one of my most valued qualities and I have grown quite proud of the abilities it grants me. Yes, it can be a burden sometimes, but as Peter Parker is quite fond of saying “With great power comes great responsibility.” I’m more determined than ever to use my power for good and work towards improving the world, one sensitive soul at a time.

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Introducing myself to my new town…

I’ve done something which is very “me”. My family and I have moved to the little city down the hill from our village and as I’ve decided to be more active in my local community from here on out, I made a little video to introduce myself. Yes, I could have written a post in French but I still make so many errors that it’s just that much easier to prepare notes and speak to the camera.

The video is in French, but I’ve gone through and created the English subtitles so that you English speaking readers can also understand what I’m saying.

Here’s the transcript in case you can’t watch the video:

Hello, I would like to introduce myself. My family and I are going to be moving to Huy in the coming week and, well, I decided that I’d like to present myself so that you know who I am.

We’re a very loud family who adore their animals, who value living with the seasons, living with less waste, and we like to support the small business owners and the artisans of the region whenever it’s possible to do so.

As for me, I’m an American, immigrant, 37 years old, I’m creative, compassionate, I enjoy medieval reenactment (bah, sorry for the stutter, for a moment I forgot the word in French )reading, local tourism, and everything related to DIY. My sense of humor is a bit silly but I find beauty and humor in
absolutely everything.

My husband is a very geeky introvert. He’s Belgian and enjoys cooking, playing billiards, petanque and badminton. We have two teenage boys who keep to themselves for the most part, but who would secretly love to be invited by other children in the neighborhood to play football, or video games, they’re at our home on Wednesday afternoons and every other weekend. They enjoy being out in nature, technology, the world cup, and above all, the “Top 50” from the 1980’s
We also have a two year old daughter who is bilingual (English and French)and in March she will start preschool at a local elementary school. She already knows some of the children from the neighborhood thanks to the Bébés et Compagnie group in Wanze.

I’ve been an English teacher for seven years. I’ve taught Business English,
and for young learners but principally, at the moment, I teach at Kids&Us; in Hannut where we offer English classes for children as young as one year old
it’s magnificent, very effective, and I love it. I also offer some English conversation classes through the Centre Culturel of Marchin and…um…so for the most part I work weekday afternoons and Saturdays.

We’re taking advantage of our move to restart some things in our lives. First of all, I’m going to revive my blog in order to push myself in several directions. I want to create pretty things, beautiful and homemade for myself
and for my family. I would like to meet as many people in the new neighborhood as possible. I would love to have people stop by our home to say hello and join me for a cup of coffee any weekday morning. I dream of having neighbors who
will spontaneously come say hello when they happen to be in the neighborhood and have a moment to spare no need to call me ahead of time, I always have fresh coffee ready to serve.

I would like to meet people who’ve lived here in Huy, and the surrounding areas for a long time to learn all about everything there is to find, to see, to live, to do, I would like to meet some families who would like to build
strong, neighborly relationships. I would like to meet all sorts of creative people; all the creative people in the world, come meet me! I would like to meet entrepreneurs, artisans, people who would like to join me to walk our dogs together in the mornings; people who have children who could be potential new friends for our kids; people who adore gardening, organizing, interior decorating; and who would like to help us to make our new house feel like a real home. I would like to meet people who organize gatherings or events in the area where I could lend a hand some morning after taking my daughter to daycare or school; I would like to meet people who would like to taste some American egg nog or some American cookies, for Christmas or whatever other occasion
and who would like to welcome us to the neighborhood; I would also like to meet local producers of food, drinks, hay for our rabbit, presents that we can offer to the people we love, everyone, basically.

Um… my blog:
It’s called “Château de Brouillon” (castle of rough drafts),so, why “brouillon” (rough draft)? Because one of my philosophies is that life is NEVER the final, polished version that we dream of having. That’s nothing but a fantasy. It’s but a rough draft.You always have to revise it, you must always try to improve it.

I have the feeling that waiting for perfection does nothing but save for later all of the little improvements that we COULD make in our daily lives.
I feel that our society is really missing creativity and the ability to see creativity as an important quality in and of itself and not just a means to add extra lines to one’s resumé. It’s not always possible and it’s not always preferable to earn a living by making beautiful things and by creating magnificent things, sometimes we need to create them in order to create, you know?

I believe that there are many people in the world who,like me, whose soul feels that there’s something more which they could be doing with their lives,
who could be more creative, and who need somebody to give them that push.

Anyway, that’s the kind of person I am. I believe that one must work constantly towards building the world and the community in which we dream of living. My ideal world is one where people can be creative, emotional, sensitive,and a bit silly without fear of being judged. Where you don’t need to carry a collection of masks everywhere with you just to present this
side here or that side there for someone; where people are free to simply stop,
randomly, at a neighbor’s house to ask if they have any eggs or to offer them
a few extra biscuits that you’ve baked, where people of all generations, of all careers,all languages, all religions, all social classes,can see beyond their differences, can appreciate their differences, and treat everyone in the world like potential friends.

No, I’m not an invading American who is going to come into your home and try to change the whole neighborhood I’m just trying to make my world a little bit prettier, a bit more welcoming, and a bit more creative.

I would like to organize, via one of the local Centres Culturel, (so if someone has an idea please tell me!) some creative workshops where everyone from all generations can get together, work together, share their knowledge and skills.

I would like to organize some retreats and events to network with other creative people.

I would also launch myself in the field of creative coaching for people who feel the need to express themselves in life. So, what it means, is that someone who needs a coach like me would be someone who is a little bit “too much” who has always had people tell them “You’re too imaginative” “You’re too weird” “You’re too much of this” “You’re too sensitive” “You’re too much of that”
and they’re fed up with always having to roll themselves up into a tiny little ball in order to be palatable (is that the right word?) well, so that people can appreciate them. They want to work with someone who knows what it’s like to feel things too strongly, to be too loud, to be too sensitive, to be too open, to be too friendly, maybe they’re retired, maybe you’re a professional, maybe you’re a housewife (or househusband), maybe you’re just getting started in life, and one thing that you sense is that you feel a need to do something creative. Even if you don’t know what it is.

During my life, I’ve done just about every type of crafting that you can imagine. I know the basics of, easily, hundreds of different arts and crafts techniques. Either I have the supplies needed to learn the basics or I have the knowledge needed, or I can easily find everything needed to get started.

I love helping people determine why they want to be creative, how much they want to invest (whether we’re talking about time or money), the frequency of which they want to work on their arts or crafts, and which methods they are most likely to feel fulfilled by.

I can also help you if you have a large creative project in your mind and you don’t know how to get started. Together, we could break down your project into a list of tasks to be done which are realistic and achievable. I would be right there alongside you to help you bring your project to fruition and even to lend a hand in person if there is a step which you don’t know how to do.

Now, I’m not yet declared as an independent, all of this remains a dream, it’s the career of my dreams. So, I’m offering you a somewhat rare opportunity.
In order to build my business, my company, I offer three places. I will need some testimonials. I must collect some statements from satisfied clients in order to help me build my business plan. Normally, if I were already established as a Creativity Coach, this service which I’m offering you would have a value of approximately 400 euros per month. Yes, I know that’s expensive. Believe me, I know it sounds expensive, but here is what is included:

First, an initial meeting during which we will determine your needs, your desires, and how much time and effort you are capable of devoting towards expressing yourself. I will help you to complete a brainstorming session to find everything which you would like to create and we will work to break that brainstorm session down into achievable goals.

I will offer you one hour per week. Either in person or via Skype to see if you are making progress, where you are blocked, and to help you remove the hurdles which prevent you from continuing your project.

I offer you fully customized help. I can help you create your master project list, and break it down into a step-by-step plan. I can accompany you to buy the supplies which you need. I can sometimes simply provide the pressure which you need in order to actually push yourself to actually create the thing which you dream of making and to verify that you’re making the progress which we’d agreed at the initial meeting that you wanted to make.

Once a month, we will have a reevaluation session where we examine everything which you’ve done up to that moment in time and we reevaluate the plan for everything which remains of your coaching subscription.

As an extra bonus, do not forget that my professional training has been as
a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. This means that, if you so desire,
all of your sessions can be done entirely in English ! Either to improve your language level, or simply to practice using the language.

I can easily provide you with a level test, Grammar worksheets, vocabulary lists, everything which you need in order to support you.

So all of this would last for three months. Now, if you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact me!

First, yes, I am fully aware that it’s very strange for me to do an video
like this in order to introduce myself. The principal reason why I have chosen to do it like this is because even if I am able to speak French almost entirely correct (with small errors)but I’m nearly bilingual; I detest writing it! I’m sorry but I much prefer to write in English and if I have something to say in French, I prefer to do so verbally.

I completely understand if my oddities make you uncomfortable. I understand if this video only makes you want to avoid me at all costs. That’s your choice.
However, well, this is who I am. I’m bizarre, I’m sensitive, I’m compassionate, I’m creative, I’m informal with everyone simply because for me, it’s impossible to NOT treat everyone as equals and potential friends. I’m too noisy, too chatty, and a bit too THERE.

However, there are people for whom someone like me who is “too”, is too rare. Who have been looking for someone like that, and if this sounds like you, don’t hesitate to come by our new home (once we’ve finished moving this week!)Chemin d’Antheit 64, to introduce yourself, to drink a cup of coffee, and to see how we might be able to help one another in life.

We are very, very impatient to meet you all.

See you soon!

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The move has begun, here’s a tour of the new house

I made this video for friends and family during a brief pause in the move. The house was still fairly empty and it’s quite easy to see the millions of potential projects which are waiting for us to attack them.

 

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The beginning of new tradition

Lately I have been overwhelmed by the feeling that Philippe and I get so caught up in the day to day running of our lives that we simply don’t put much effort into building and maintaining family traditions. I’ve decided unilaterally that this is going to change. Traditions are extremely important and our identity as a family is built on them.

One thing I’ve decided that I can do is plan regular, seasonal outings with my family. We can afford to set aside even just one day per month to leave the house and simply spend some time together. It’s time to stop just talking about it and actually make this idea happen.

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Well, hello again!

It’s been quite a while since I wrote any posts for this blog. My personal life has had a bit of upheaval since publishing my last post in December of 2016.

Back when I wrote my last posts, my husband and I were still fighting a battle against my fertility problems (PCOS is no laughing matter!). After several years of trying to conceive, I finally found a local gynecologist with experience dealing with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

In January of 2017, we discovered that I was finally pregnant. Our daughter joined our family in early September. Our princess was born several weeks early via emergency cesearian due to very slow growth. She only weighed 1.97 kilos (4 pounds 5 ounces) and she spent 17 days in the neonatal unit. She had to undergo surgery a few weeks after leaving the hospital and while she has managed to stay out of hospital ever since, her first year was quite exhausting for all of us.

Around her first birthday, I started working at a new English school in my area. Now that she’s two, I’m working around twenty hours per week as both a teacher and an academic coordinator for this fantastic little school.

I’ve been very gradually coming out of the baby bubble and am beginning to feel like myself again. I haven’t had much energy to devote to my creative endeavors, writing included, especially since we’re smack in the middle of moving house (we sign the purchase contract this Friday!).

There will be a few changes in this blog due to the fact that the energy and time which I have to devote to it are quite limited. For one thing, it is going to be almost entirely a home and lifestyle blog with very little energy devoted to the Etsy side of things. I still have all of my stock, so I may open the shop back up down the line, however for the time being, I don’t have the time to maintain and promote the shop much less travel to the post office (especially with the extremely inaccessible hours of the Belgian postal service.)

I have some bad news for my Francophone readers as well. When I was posting regularly before, my poor husband was doing all of the translations for me. After a while, I began to feel very guilty about asking him to translate all the time when he has quite a busy life of his own. While this may sound a bit silly, I had less and less desire to write, simply because I didn’t want to impose on his extremely limited free time. For this reason, I will no longer be asking him to manually translate each and every post, especially since services like Google Translate are providing automatic translation services of much better quality than when I started this blog.

Here’s what I CAN promise my readers:

  • I will try to work my way back up to 15 minutes of creativity every day
  • I will work to improve how I document my projects so that the posts will become easier to write
  • I will respond to comments and emails from my readers with no more than a few days of delay

The posts which you can expect to see in the next year will most likely fit into the following categories:

  • Things to do and see in Belgium
  • The adventures of raising a vivacious, bilingual two-nager
  • Homemaking and hospitality on a shoestring budget
  • Selling, buying and decorating a home in Belgium

If there is anything in particular which you would like to see, please send me a message so I know that there are living, breathing readers out there.

Thank you so very much for your patience whilst I work on coming back out of hibernation. I look forward to sharing more of my creations with you very soon.

Biz,

Misty (the Queen of the Château)

 

 

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First Steps in Bobbin Lace

In the spirit of ongoing learning and sharing of knowledge, I am going to design and create a Bobbin Lace course for those who’ve got no experience or knowledge of the art whatsoever.

My goal will be to follow MY lace teacher’s methodology and have each progressive assignment use no more than two new techniques. However, once you’ve put your first attempt at each assignment into your portfolio, I want to create patterns which can be recreated as something useful / decorative from the very first lesson.

Part of the course will include making your own beginner supplies.

I have five students lined up to test the lessons and help me perfect the class. Once I’m happy with the course, I will publish it on Skillshare to earn a small passive income. Skillshare is a fantastic site where you can study all kinds of creative classes and if you follow this link, you’ll be able to get your first three months of full access to thousands of classes for only $0.99 !

I’m working on perfecting the first lesson as we speak. Who’s in?

The very first handout, with a class description and materials list is available here:First Steps in Bobbin Lace – Introduction and Materials – EnglishIf you are interested in joining the waiting list so that I can let you know as soon as the course is available on Skillshare, please let me know !

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Carreau à dentelle fait maison, 2ème Partie : Matériel

Read this article in English

Dans la première partie de cette série, j’ai parlé de mes carreaux à dentelle actuels ainsi que des tutoriels que j’ai trouvés qui m’ont inspiré pour ce projet.

Ce projet requiert beaucoup de matériel, donc cette partie ne parlera que du matériel et des outils dont vous aurez besoin.

 

  • 1 pupitre d’ordinateur portable de chez Ikéa. Le modèle de pupitre n’a pas grande importance, mais assurez-vous que la tablette soit ajustable en hauteur et que la surface de cette tablette soit assez grande pour répondre à vos besoins. Certains ont fabriqué ce genre de carreau avec le pupitre DAVE, mais comme celui-ci n’était pas disponible en Belgique, j’ai fini par utiliser le SVARTÅSEN. ( 20 € )
  • Un rouleau de papier à patron. Du papier d’emballage peut également fonctionner.
  • Un crayon
  • Une pièce de monnaie (pour tracer la rentrée de couture)
  • 1 panneau de polystyrène haute-densité. Ce truc est fantastique. Vous pouvez vous le procurer dans le rayon « Isolation » de la plupart des magasins de bricolage. N’achetez pas le polystyrène blanc « basse-densité » qui est utilisé dans les emballages car il cassera lamentablement rapidement à l’usage. La version verte de ce matériau est tellement dense qu’il se réparera tout seul pendant un bon bout de temps (8 €).
  • Un découpeur à fil chaud pour tailler le polystyrène à la forme voulue. Ceci est difficile à se procurer. J’ai trouvé le mien chez AVA pour 20 € mais on peut en trouver chez Amazon également. S’il y a assez de demande, je penserai à en avoir sous la main pour achalander ma boutique Etsy pour que vous puissiez vous en procurer chez moi.
  • De la super Glu pour coller le polystyrène. Assurez-vous de vous procurer la bonne colle car la majorité des Super Glu contiennent du dissolvant qui liquéfiera le polystyrène sous vos yeux (6 € chez AVA).

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  • Des sangles pour coincer les morceaux de polystyrène sans laisser de marques.
  • 1 vieille couverture (une couverture en polaire en polyester fonctionne très bien, car c’est doux et extensible).
  • 1 mètre de beau tissu pour le dessus du carreau. Il est préférable de prendre quelque chose d’un ton neutre qui contrastera joliment avec votre dentelle tout en étant agréable aux yeux pendant des heures. Imaginez-vous regarder un tissu vert fluo pendant quelques heures… non, ne vous imposez pas cela ! Un tissu de couleur unie serait beau et fonctionnel, mais si vous voulez quelque chose de plus fantaisiste, évitez les motifs trop lourds. J’avais acheté mon tissu il y a environ 10 ans pour utiliser dans mes costumes de reconstitution historique, bien avant que je me rende compte que cela ne serait pas du tout adapté aux périodes historiques en question.
  • 1 mètre de tissu solide et contrasté. Vous l’utiliserez pour couvrir la base de votre carreau donc il doit être suffisamment robuste pour résister à la surface sur laquelle vous travaillerez. Je vous montrerai également comment en faire une housse pour votre carreau, donc ne prenez pas non plus le tissu le plus moche que vous avez !
  • 1 boîte en bois qui s’adaptera dans le coin supérieur du carreau. J’en ai acheté quelques-uns de plus avant qu’ils ne soient plus de stock et si vous êtes assez rapide, vous pouvez vous en procurer un sur ma boutique Etsy.

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  • Des épingles solides pour maintenir le tissu en place sur le polystyrène jusqu’à ce que vous puissiez le coudre définitivement.
  • Des ciseaux  de couture
  • Du fil et une aiguille
  • Des gommettes en velcro
  • Un morceau de carton (ou un paquet de céréales)
  • Une assiette creuse de 14 ou 15 cm de diamètre

Une fois tout le matériel réuni, réservez-vous un week-end pour fabriquer votre carreau. Dans la 3ème partie, je vous guiderai dans la fabrication de votre carreau ainsi que de quelques accessoires (carreau cylindrique, housse de carreau ainsi qu’une poignée pour transporter votre carreau où que vous alliez.)