Friday, July 4, 2014

Beer Talk

Westvleteren, consistently ranked the #1 beer in the world, is a Trappist beer. There are only 10 Trappist beers in the world, six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, one in Austria, and one in the United States (Boston!). 

Source: Cheese Web

We have had the opportunity to check out the Westvletern monastery a few times and also pick up some six packs they sell at the cafe. You can not enter the monastery where the monks are busy making beer, cheese, and delicious jams, but you can enjoy a great beer on a terrace in the middle of farm country. One reason the beer is so popular is because its extremely hard to find since the monks don't make the beer for a profit but instead just to sustain their way life.  

Yesterday, after multiple days of calling ahead to pick up two 24 packs, we finally picked up the Mother-load of all beer. Let me rewind a bit....

So if you want more than a six pack (which is sometimes unavailable at the cafe, depending if the monks brewed enough) than you need to place an order over the phone. Sounds simple enough, wrong. First you will find this screen.

Then you will try to call, for instance this week - only on Wednesday from 9-12 or 1-4pm. Ryan and I called for three weeks, a totally of four days to reserve our two cases. 

Here's a glimpse of what our trip looked like yesterday. I have to say Ryan looked like a boy in a candy shop, and I am sure our friends Josh, from Germany, and Tom, Ryan's neighbor from WI, would have been the same. 

The pick-up

 Waiting in line, we saw a monk - PS. No photos allowed. 

Arranging the beer, thanks Melanie and Robert for your car :) 

Yummy strawberry jam. 

For him: Banana split. 

For me: "In De Vrede" ice cream, made with the Westvleteren 12... bizarre but delicious! 

Surrounded by farm land, Ry felt at home ;) 

The terrace 

Our two 24 packs. We could each only pick up two six-packs, 
but a simple change of the shirt and an ice cream break later- we had four more six packs! 

Westvleteren is definitely a Belgian beer worth the effort, and I have a feeling some of you might be calling us when we get back State-side for a sample! Of course we will oblige. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The Happiness Project 

I am in the mist of reading Gretchen Rubin's book about Happiness. Each month she tackles a new topic on her adventure towards happiness. For the month of May; Be Serious About Play. This chapter got me thinking about what I found fun. There are many things that other people find fun but I don't enjoy and vice versa. "Research shows that regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times more likely to feel happy." 

Similar to Gretchen, I love the idea of wandering an art museum, learning to play chess, doing crossword puzzles, or going to a 10 story dance club until 6am. I understand why people enjoy these activities, but they aren't for me. Sometimes I wish I liked them, but moving on! I need to Be, Leigh. 

Right now, here are some things that are FUN for Leigh: 
in no particular order 

  • riding my bike 
  • cooking and baking for people (especially Ryan)
  • walking through town and picking up a coffee
  • reading (blogs and books), especially outside  
  • doing research for traveling 
  • going out to eat 
  • being around kids 
  • trying to taste every beer in Belgium (over 800...) 
  • Skyping with family and friends 
  • working on my photography/photoshop
  • dancing in the kitchen with Ryan 
It's funny to me to look at this list and think about how much I have changed. 3 years ago my fun list would have been completed different. But I am okay with that. I know in 3 years time it will change again. 

Gretchen's Blog: The Happiness Project 

So what's fun for you? 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beauty Bloggers

While being in Belgium we haven't had cable. No reality shows, or mindless episodes of ______ (fill in the blank). One way I like to unwind after a long day at work is on the couch with some tea or some speculous ice cream and watching my favorite beauty bloggers on YouTube. Those of you who have not experienced real reality TV - you need to check out the YouTube scene. Here are some of my favorite subscribers that have opened my eyes to the best face products, some fabulous lipsticks, and how to create the most epic winged liner. 

Essie Button- My favorite blogger and you tuber who also Vlogs (yes, it's a video blog of her life). She reminds me of a best friend growing up (Meg!). She is a Canadian who moved to my favorite city, London, with her boyfriend. She does some amazing hauls, routines, and brand reviews (like Bobbi Brown and Soap and Glory).  

Lily Pebbles- Another favorite, Lily posts videos about makeup, skin care, makeup, and Vlogs of her life in London. Did I mention she has a British accent? You'll notice a trend here... 

Anna- Lily's best friend Anna is adorable with her boyfriend Mark. She continues the trend of Lily and Essie. I love her style and natural look. Look at these amazing brows! 

Fleur de Force- Fleur is a beautiful blogger and you tuber who recently got married and is remodeling her home. Not only will she help you with the best self tanner but also gives home tours. 

I hope to post some of things I have learned and purchased thanks to these great blogs. As I am growing up (hehe) I have realized the importance of taking care of myself, especially my skin. I have really become interested in skin care and a proper regime every morning and evening. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I'm back!

That one time I disappeared from the blogosphere for 3 months and you probably thought I was never coming back... 

Some things you shouldn't force and apparently blogging was one of them, but I am back with some fresh ideas. Before I jump into anything, let me show you some things I have been doing since... March! 

We made a movie of about being a first grader! 

Some spring art projects

 Favorite waffles from the Wednesday farmers market 

Made my own perfume called Grace 

Not to be confused with my name "Leen" 

We went to Edinburgh and sampled some whiskeys 

Then I flew home and saw some of my favorites from USC :) 

And this girl! 

I made some very berry muffins my two European best friends. 

These two! 

I shook Obama's hand. 
Amanda came to visit! We went to Milan, Cinque Terre and Lisbon. 

We went to Amsterdam for the Food and Film festival and listened to Joel Salatin from Food Inc. He inspired me to get a chicken and plant some veggies. 
We had bagels tapas. 

We went on a Ferris wheel ride. 
We spent some time on a farm and made goat cheese. 

The swans had their babies. 

We went to a Memorial Day service at the American Cemetery in the Ardennes. 

We checked out Palma Mallorca and Formentera, Spain. 

And now, now I am getting back into blogging! Happy Saturday everybody. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

On The Table

For my peanut butta lova :) 

Autumn Salad that has been on the table a few times this year, I love 
the apple cider vinaigrette.  

First time making these bad boys. Chickpea Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers. YUM-O.
For left overs, I mashed them up and put them in a wrap with spicy mayo. 

Just made this tonight, we had all the ingredients already and
 no cream required! Substitute for whole wheat penne and a mediterranean  
seasoning instead of parsley. 

Tomato-Basil Spinach Risotto, I served this with a simple chicken. 
Would be better if our tomatoes were in season :) 

Are you seeing a trend here? I basically use the blog Iowa Girl Eats and 2 Martha Stewart books to make our menus each week. Once in a blue moon, I will use other recipes I have found from Pinterest.  I like to plan 4-5 menus so we don't over buy and to stay healthy! Any recommendations? 

Something new on the table this week were smoothies. We bought a VitaMix but unfortunately the voltage/watts (long techie story) doesn't work, but we have been using our old blender. Each night we make a smoothie to bring to work for the next day. Ry has been able to get right into the green ones, me on the other hand, it's taking time. I'll post more about some recipes we have tried this week! 

Happy Eating!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Power of Empathy

As some of you may know, one of my resolutions was to read the book "Daring Greatly". I wanted to share this quick video about the power of empathy and the importance of connection. Connecting with someone can make bad times better! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Teaching Abroad

I recently wrote an article for TEFL, a program to help me teach abroad. I took the online version of the class before we moved to Belgium. It's a great opportunity to live, work, and teach abroad. You don't have to have a teaching background to do it either. Check it out!