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Archive for October, 2010

A Brief User Guide

Thanks to all of you, our wonderful readers for your support and comments.  We’re having a great time writing for you all, and it’s great to know you’re having fun reading about our pre-wedding adventures.

We’ve gotten a couple of questions though, about the basic functionality of the site (which we want to continue to improve upon throughout the year).  So we’ve come up with this brief user guide to help you all get your Lindsey and Trevor fix by the most efficient means possible.  In the future, we’ll also link to this post on our “About” page (which, if you haven’t noticed, is at the top).

Who’s Writing What?
The most frequent comment we’ve gotten is that people can’t tell who’s writing which posts.  We worried about this one a bit ourselves, so here’s a bit of clarification.

The easiest way to tell who’s writing is to check the author section directly below the post title, to the right of the date.  Check out the picture below, in which I’ve crudely circled the post author field using MS Paint.


(Click if you need a larger image)

Still confused?  Yeah, we understand that too, what with the so-cute-it-hurts name collisions we use as our usernames.  But the usernames actually serve a purpose too.  Aside from our insatiable desire to be disgustingly cute at every moment of the day, we’re trying to keep as much of our private information off the Internet as possible.  As a student who will potentially be applying for PhD programs and defending a Masters thesis within the next 9 months and a young wannabe-professional on the hunt for jobs in a foreign land, we thought it best to keep our full names and identities as private as possible.  So don’t go posting our last names in any comments, please.  Or tagging scanned pictures of our birth certificates.  (As strange as it sounds, at least 6 people reading this blog right now likely have that ability.)

So here’s the breakdown:
Trevsey = Trevor
Lindvor = Lindsey (more…)

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Trevor is pointing to the street we live on, just to give you guys a visual of where we are in the city.

Firstly, I apologize to those of you who actually checked the blog looking for a post yesterday. I honestly forgot to write one 😦 But in my defense, the last post is a hard act to follow. Tuesday we had the most views EVER on the blog with 173 views total! You guys rock! Obviously, “Tiny Belgian Apartment Workout Plan” was a big hit. It was definitely the most fun we’ve had writing a post as well.

Evidently, we, and everyone else in our building did enough phone raises to the landlord that the heat was eventually a priority to them, and they came over and “fixed” it again. It’s not as broken now, meaning that the people downstairs have consistently working heat, while the apartments on the top floor (i.e us) have an on-again-off-again relationship with the radiator. Luckily, we didn’t splurge on a space heater, as our landlords realized that forcing some of their tenants to live without heat while others in the building have full access to all it’s glory is unfair. So we got a “free” space heater. Mind you, we’ve already paid for the full year of utilities up front when we signed the lease. (That’s how it works here). So it’s been frustrating, to say the least, to not have those utilities available.

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Doors

I  thought this looked so medieval. Enjoy

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Since we live in a small apartment, it’s tough to get a workout in.  And with all the reading, sitting, and typing we do all day, there’s just not a lot of time for activities like dumbbell curls and jogging.  That’s why we’ve designed these healthy exercises to help tone up.  They’re perfect for anyone living in a tiny apartment, but they’ll be especially helpful if that apartment happens to be in Belgium.

Small Fridge Squats
To begin the exercise, squat to reach the food in the fridge.  Once your body has reached the level of the food, extend your arm to grasp the food, then extend your legs in a rising motion.  End by placing the food on the counter.

For added difficulty, try picking up heavier foods.  Next, as you place this heavier food on the counter, realize that you are, in fact, poor, and that eating that right now will probably end up costing you another 5 euro later on.  Now squat back down, replacing the food in the fridge for later.
Works: glutes, thighs, and triceps


Tiny Stair-stepper

Gingerly step from one step to another, remaining on the balls of your feet.  Be sure to be extra ginger; if you’re not, the staircase will probably break apart beneath you, leaving you in a pile of rubble on top of our kitchen table.  (Cleaning the rubble, however, could be a nice arm workout too.)

For added burn, ascend and descend the stairs with your arms slightly raised away from your sides for balance.  This will help work your lower back, and it will help keep the stairs from swaying so violently that they pitch you off.
Works: the calves, quads, and balance


Shivering

Most people shiver out of necessity, taking for granted the wonderful health benefits that come along with debilitating cold.  But shivering can also be a vibrant part of a healthy lifestyle.  It’s a whole-body workout that’s sure to hit all of your target zones, melting the fat away like a leather belt attached to a paint shaker.

To add to the burn, drink hot tea while you shiver–the caffeine suppresses the appetite and works as a natural diuretic.  Not too much though!  Too much tea will warm you right up, and that’s the major no-no of this powerful new exercise.
Works: whole body
Note: If you can’t find a place with ideal shivering conditions, come to Belgium and sit on our cold wooden chairs and hard wood floor that never seem to warm up, no matter how much body heat you lose.  If you can’t make it to Belgium, tell your landlord to call a group of unskilled, unqualified “handy-men” to “fix” your heat for you.  You’ll be shivering in no time.


Running away from Trevor’s cold hands

This isn’t my favorite workout, but Linds swears by it.  To begin, find a Trevor (this may be difficult, as the only one is currently in belgium).  Stand in close proximity to his icy cold hands, preferably while showing skin on your arms or neck.  When the Trevor’s hands come near you, run in the opposite direction until you either hit a wall or trip on a pair of shoes.  These short-burst sprints will add to your lung capacity and burn calories quickly.

Try this exercise after warming up from a good shiver and glass of tea, as the endorphins from the shakes and the caffeine from the tea will combine perfectly to help give you that extra jolt you need to get away from Trevor’s icy grip.
Works: heart, lungs, legs


Phone raises

No matter what my workout plan, I always like to add at least one exercise for my arms.  That’s how I came up with the revolutionary exercise I’ve dubbed “phone raises.”  Though lifting your phone to your ear doesn’t exactly count as weight training, doing it enough times will help tone and sculpt your biceps, triceps, and wrists.

Begin by picking up your phone.  Hold the device in front of you, carefully typing each digit of your landlord’s telephone number (this fine motor focus will help build long, lean muscle).  This might seem like a one-and-done exercise, but believe us, it’s not; there’s no telling how many reps you could get in before your landlord actually decides to pick up the phone.  In the rare event that your call is answered, don’t worry.  Simply hold the phone in place for as long as possible, until the landlord assures you that Bruno will be over to fix everything later, or as is usually the case, informs you that–no matter what the content of your request–“This is not possible.”
Done on the phone too soon?  Don’t worry.  Give ’em another call.  There’s sure to be something more around your place that needs fixing.
Works: biceps, triceps, wrists, patience

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Tosti’croc je t’aime


Have I ever told you that cheese and crackers is my favorite food?
Well cheese and crackers is my favorite food.

This unfortunate realization came about after my high school graduation party–the leftover crackers and cheese from which it took me a whole week to polish off.  I didn’t know that cheese and crackers were really my favorite food until all those toasted rectangles and all that dairy were gone.  Not only was I not sick of cheese and crackers, I was sad that there weren’t more.  Oh, dairy, you are a cruel mistress.

For whatever reason, I find myself in a similar predicament now to the one I found myself in all those years ago.  Sure, there’s plenty of cheese to be had in Belgium, but the cracker situation here is abysmal.  The selection of crackers here is very small and very homogeneous.  Rather than selecting the best possible cracker to match our cheeses, each week we seem to find ourselves choosing between the lesser of two wheat-thins.

So I was elated to find these crispy, hidden gems early on.  Mesdames et messieurs, I give you the Tosti’Croc.

Not exactly a cracker, but close enough, these delicious little wafers (found in wheat or white varieties) are both economical and satisfying.  With a texture akin to puffed rice cereal or thin cut cheetos poofs, the Tosti’Croc is ideal for snacking.  And at just 1.25 for 1/8 lb (more than you really need), I find myself topping them with everything.  Stilton cheese, chevre, peanut butter (or at least the poor excuse that serves as peanut butter here in Europe), jam, or Nutella, I have become a Tosti’Croc fiend.

Future Tosti’Croc related ideas include toasted Tosti’Crocs with oil and ground cayenne pepper, a Tosti-Croc-chos nacho plate, and Tosti’Croc crumb fried chicken.

I love these damn things so much I could marry them (though Lindsey urges me not to do anything rash).

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Waffles


After much anticipation and build up, it is finally here…a post on waffles. I promised this many posts ago and have been waiting for the right time to do it. So here goes…

Waffles are amazing. I was a waffle lover back home in the States and believe they are superior to pancakes in almost every way. However, in the U.S., the two aren’t really that different. I mean, it’s just the cooking method that differs most of the time, but really pancake batter and waffle batter are almost always comprised of the same ingredients, have the same basic texture and taste. Even still, the waffle iron at Towers Dining Hall served me well for 4 years of delicious waffle making with Rhett embossed right in the middle.

However, these are no dining hall wannabe waffles. Oh no. Belgian waffles shouldn’t even be placed in the same category as “American” waffles. So just strike everything you think you know about waffles right now. Because these don’t look, smell, feel, sound, or taste like those impostor fluffy, pancakey things back home.

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Doors

For some reason, this door reminds me of Dr. Who.

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Linds loves herself some dairy. Needless to say, she had a bit of a hay day during her time in France for that very reason.

I, however, am what scientists refer to as a “lactard.”

This makes life difficult for my counterpart from time to time. She gets to buy less milk and cheese than she’d like to–there’s no one to help her finish it before it goes bad–and in a country with great milk and cheese, even I can see the tragedy.

So every once in a while I encourage her to splurge when she gets a dairy craving. Such was the case today. We were in Carrefort-Express, the only grocery store in Leuven open on Sunday (post forthcoming), when Linds spotted one of her true lactose loves–fresh milk.

For those who don’t know what fresh milk is, or who like me, assumed that it’s just milk that’s … fresher … than other milk, a brief explanation: fresh milk is milk that hasn’t been homogonized or pasteurized, but it’s often skimmed, which differentiates it from whole milk.

Most people find fresh milk to be more “milky” in some way–more akin to the metaphysical ideal of milk. Linds describes it simply as, “SO GOOD!”

So, being a properly supportive fiance and penitent lactard, I urged her to buy it. She feigned protest for a moment, citing the aforementioned reasons we don’t keep too much dairy stocked in our apartment, but within seconds set to carefully deliberating on which one of the three available fresh milks she should purchase. After far more discussion than was necessary, she selected the freshest milk with the lowest fat content.

And that’s when things went horribly wrong. (more…)

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In our continuation of the wildly popular series called “Things that are different,” we move from bikes to laundry. It’s all about the little things anyway…

In Belgium, laundry is different.

How could laundry really be that different you might ask? Well, there are several ways. First of all, laundry detergent smells different and has French and Dutch writing on the packaging (weird!). Where’s the Tide?! Why Tide is no where to be found in this god-forsaken country. And Bounce dryer sheets? None. But I guess we can make due with our off-brand detergent for now. It’s really not that big of a deal. Plus, our off-brand detergent smells amazing, so I am not complaining, just commenting.

Secondly, there is no laundry in the building. LAME! So in order to wash out clothes, we had to trek at least ¾ of a mile lugging our heavy and awkwardly shaped laundry bags with us. We received many questioning glances along the way, as if Leuven-ites never carried their laundry bags on their heads because it is the only way to evenly distribute the weight of the bag properly! Turns out, there might be a laundromat closer to our apartment, but we didn’t know about it.

Thirdly, laundry is ridiculously expensive. When BU upped the price of drying from $1.25 to $1.50 per load, I remember having a mini-meltdown. “Are they kidding me with this? Why must they always try to gouge us at this university?” I look back on that and cry tears of mirth now. I long for the days when washing my clothes was so cheap because here it’s anything but. Our month’s worth of clothing cost us a whopping 28 euro to wash! We spent 20 on the washing and 8 on the drying. However, at the end of the day, we had wonderfully clean, fresh smelling clothes, so it’s not like it wasn’t worth it. But still…

So thus concludes our “laundry is different” post. I hope you have a new found appreciation for the cost of clothes washing in the States, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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The coolest thing about classes here isn’t just, as I alluded to  earlier, that they don’t include busy work.  I’m sure there are a lot of schools back in the states like that too.  No, the reason I flew across an ocean to start school at a place I’d never been or seen beyond a google image search was because I had an inkling that the academic climate in here was somehow different.  That’s a very broad sort of statement to be making, but I think it’s a true one.

It’s not as though the classes here were designed for me, per se, but they were certainly designed for a certain type of person, and I just happen to feel that certain type of person is an awful lot like me.  It’s a very nerdy sort of person.  Let me illustrate. (more…)

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