July 13, 2020

Belgium - At the lavender farm

If you live in Luxembourg, I would not recommend to visit just the lavender farm in Belgium, simply because it is too small and you might be a bit disappointed. BUT if you pair it with another thing to visit in that area or you are passing from the Netherlands as we had, the Limburg Lavendel Farm is a place where you can experience a bit of Provence (I know Provence is more than the lavender, don't even bother). 
The farm has 4 hectares (on paper), it has a shop from where you can buy everything lavender related, it has a coffee shop from where I recommend you try the lavender ice-cream and it has the field which is free to visit. By the time we arrived at the farm it was the middle of the day and everyone was more focused on looking for the shade of the trees and not pictures with the flowers, but nonetheless it was a nice experience. We ate an ice-cream, took some pictures and went on our way. The farm has an ample parking space which is as well free.

The farm also has a garden where you can explore other different types of lavender and one of those is this yellow lavender. I wonder if I could buy it from somewhere in Luxembourg and also if it survives here.
They also have small lavender plants to buy, but only the type from their field, not the ones in the garden.

Oh yes, there is also this weird sculpture, art of some sort, which frightened Luna and us with her. You will see a lot of sculptures in the garden and the lavender field, but they are more eye appealing than this one :)

And YES dogs are allowed on the farm/field, but on the leash. 

As usual you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

July 6, 2020

Luxembourg - Have you been to Gringlay?

Little by little we are re-starting to visit places, keeping in mind to stay in the area at least for a while. And as I was worrying there isn't a place in Luxembourg, we haven't yet checked out, I've discovered the Facebook page of An American in Luxembourg (I recommend you follow him if you live in Luxembourg). He visits the country by bicycle and discovers lesser known places and one of those places is Gringlay.
In Luxembourg, as little as it is, you have lakes (Echternach, Remerschen, Upper-Sure and Weiswampach) and you have a "mountain" area called the Luxembourg's Ardennes or Éislek. It's the area where you have most of the Luxembourgish castles. Well in that area there is this Gringlay which is an overview point looking towards the Bourscheid Castle on the trail linking Ettelbruck to Bourscheid Mill.

To reach the viewpoint we put the coordinates (N49.915626° E6.091719°) on the GPS and it lead us to the town Lipperscheid where we parked the car in a hotel parking and continued on foot. You have to walk for a km or even more, but the trail is picturesque with wild flowers and at the time we went there with flowered bushes which smelled incredible. The trail is also accessible with a children's pram or a stroller from the village to the viewpoint, I don't know further, but it might be.

As a bonus if you go to the Camping Panorama in Bourscheid you will have another fantastic viewpoint over the castle. There just park the car and walk maybe 100 metres, but be civilised as there are people living close by and you might not want to disturb them.

I hope you liked my little recommendation and I'm waiting for your impressions of the place on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu  

June 29, 2020

Corona times - Working from home, my tips

As you may know, I've worked from home way before the Corona times and as in some cases working from home will be the new normal for at lest the next few months, here are some things that worked for me.
My windowsill office at the beginning of Corona Times

Change clothes

I know it seems like a small thing, but it does help. At the beginning I would spent the whole day in a pyjama or in some joggers and a t-shirt, often the ones I've slept in and changed them right before I went to bed. At some point I put on jeans to walk Luna and little by little I have a sort of the same routine as of someone going to an office all day. I wake up, change into other clothes, even if they are also joggers and t-shirt, and then open the laptop and start working. I think that at a mental level there is a switch and I feel like I separate more the working time from the home and family time.

Make a to do list

I am a big fan of lists, but this also works. I have my calendar with all the meetings and stuff to do for those meetings, but in my case I have a daily to do list and then a monthly to do list. My biggest satisfaction is to check things off the list. I put on my "to do" list even tasks outside of work, such as writing posts for my blog.

Have a dedicated office space

I have a desk with a pc. That is my working space. When I'm there I work and everyone in the house knows that I should not be, if possible, disturbed. My desk is in the living room, but you can have an office room or a windowsill as I did when my husband was as well working from home, or the ironing board in my laundry room when my zoom meetings should be private. It also helps to mentally separate the home world from the office world.

Maintain regular office breaks

Most of my friends say that they seem to work from home longer than at the office and that is because at home on one comes to your desk to have a chat, there are no lunch brakes and no cigarette or coffee brakes either. You also have to schedule those breaks. Now it is even better that my husband also works from home and we both sit for lunch, but at the beginning I skipped lunch a lot or I had a sandwich over the keyboard. That was wrong. Now I walk Luna down the street, 20 minutes, and that is my coffee break. 

Be very unyielding (had no idea that also meant firm) about office hours

So if you decide that at 6 p.m. your working hours are over then they are over. No more checking the office email, no more meetings, no more work. At the beginning I thought "so what if I have a little meeting?" "so what if I solve this one last email?". A small tip, no one expects a reply right away especially if they send that email after working hours. Working in an office building meant that at 8 p.m. the guards would come and kick you out, at home there are no guards, so you have to be very firm about working hours.

Be kind to yourself

We live strange times, so what if your kid makes an appearance on zoom? So what if during a meeting you go and help your kid or your dog with something? No one expects you to be office all day and if they do, it is not the right environment for you. We have lives outside the office and now that the office is home and everyone is also home, you will see my kid and dog, you will hear my husband or my neighbours, you will see my messy couch and my uneven paintings on the wall. It is my space and it says a lot about who I am. I personally don't like to work with people who have an empty wall behind their back. I like working with people who have book shelves with little knick-knacks as I have them, too. I love working with creative people who made an effort with their personal space.

Funny story my colleague works from his couch and at the beginning of the pandemic everything was neat and tight around him. Day by day he added things to that couch and now after three months of working from home you can't even see the couch anymore. :)

Also, one of my clients was so focused on a zoom call one day that she did not notice her son was painting the furniture in the background. The funny thing is we did not notice that either :)

As usual you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

P.S. There is no rule of conduct on zoom, but if the person in front of you has the camera open, you should also keep the camera open. I've been in numerous calls presenting something and having no feedback from the audience. It is awful. 

June 25, 2020

Luxemburg - Ziua Iei 2020

Nu sunt multe de spus, anul ăsta nu am avut chef să port ie. E drept că anul ăsta ne-a cam ținut în casă, dar chiar și când am ieșit nu am avut starea necesară să port ie. I-am cusut Ilincăi o cămașă și pentru că mi-a fost milă să prăduiesc cănepa pentru dimensiunile unui copil de 4 luni am croit ca pentru un adult mai sighinaș și în consecință Ilinca innoată în ia ei, nu-i bai, o să o poarte mai încolo, dar eu m-am caznit că o voiam acum. Apoi cămașa mea de cânepă se tot destramă la gât și trag de ea și nu îmi stă, trebuie să îi schimb firul și uite că deja sunt doi ani de când o port așa stricată cum e. Cămașa Matisse e cămașa Matisse, nu prea iți vine să te duci la birou cu ea. Și uite așa, anul ăsta nu am purtat ii. Mai am, evident, cămășile din alți ani, cămăși adorate, mă uit la ele ca la stele, dar nu găsesc momentul să le port, nu am chef și basta.

Și uite așa a trecut jumătate de an de acum și eu dacă am purtat o cămașă de vreo două ori. Și vine Ziua Iei, însă e o zi a iei atipică, nu avem voie să ne strângem mai mulți în public, nici vorbă de autorizație să ne vedem în Piața Clairefontaine asa cum obișnuiam. Fără tragere am făcut un eveniment pe facebook și l-am populat cum m-am priceput mai bine, însă lumea nu a postat, nu au postat nici cei care ziceau că postează, sunt dezamagită, dar cumva îi înțeleg. Și pe mine mă traversează o lahamite de tot și toate, dacă nu aș fi pasionată nici nu ar conta ziua asta nici pentru mine.

Însă nu pot să nu remarc că mă fac greu înțeleasă sau că oamenii nu mai au chef să citească. Am spus, vă rog postați poze pe eveniment, au dat like la pozele postate, au dat like la text, dar sunt convinsă că nu l-au citit, nu au găsit 5 minute să posteze o poza, bună, rea, cu ie, fară ie... În fine, dacă eu nu mai organizez evenimente de ani buni, nu știu cine o face, și dacă eu nu știu deja că oamenii și-au pierdut răbadarea și atenția...

În schimb producția de poze și video și zoom pe Facebook a înflorit de Ziua Iei, cred că îmi va lua săptămâni să parcurg tot pe-ndelete. Asta e bine. Pandemia ne-a forțat să ne adaptăm și ne-am adaptat.

In fine, am reușit să mă văd cu fetele, am făcut și câteva poze, am vorbit, ne-am sfătuit, ne-am spus dorurile și durerile, pandemia asta ne-a lovit în mod diferit pe fiecare și ne-a afectat cumva pe toți, dar suntem sănătoși, continuăm.
Mustafa, proprietarul cafenelei unde ne facem noi veacul, și-a decorat terasa cu multe ghivece de flori. Este o cafenea/magazin de antichități specială și tot mobilierul e din povești. Nu e ceva de acolo să zic ca nu imi place sau nu își are locul.
De pandemie, cu masca mea din in comandată prin martie ajunsă la mine prin mai, insa la fix pentru ultimele zile de izolare
De pandemie
Nu aveti idee de când mă chinui să fac această poză în Luxemburg. Pe balconul de deasupra mea e motto-ul Luxemburgului, ”vrem să rămânem ceea ce suntem” apărut după cel de-al doilea război mondial. E o poveste acolo, poate v-o spun altă dată.
Cămașa Matisse în poate cel mai iconic loc din Luxemburg
Sânzienele din Luxemburg
Îmi place poza asta pentru că nu e perfectă, nu pozam, eram noi.
Cam asta a fost, mă găsiți pe Instagram la @mademoiselle.ralu sunt ceva mai activă acolo

June 16, 2020

Corona times - The new normal

Little by little our life has gone back to sort of a normal in the sense that the borders are open and we already met all our friends in Luxembourg, we even went shopping once in Germany and this weekend we will go to the Netherlands. From June 15th the flights from Brussels are slowly crossing again our sky, the last closed border, the one with France is open for non-essential travel, so life is somewhat on a track.

We still have to wear masks on the public transport and in the crowded places and outside social gatherings are limited to 20 persons (so this year the IA day will be online). Also, even though the flights to Romania have resumed, you still have to stay for 14 days in quarantine if you come from Belgium or Luxembourg and for us that is not an option.

So for the Summer the tourism will be local, but we have plenty of nice places to choose from so we are not complaining. It's been a while since I haven't written a Corona post so let's look at the pictures.

First, the weekly market in Arlon resumed and we went to it on one sunny day. I've remembered why I haven't been to a local market in Arlon for the past eight years so that was that. But when we left in the parking, my husband took this very dear to me photo of me and Ilinca in a tenderness moment. 
As soon as we could we went to Luxembourg for a stroll at the old places we love and the Melusina statue is one of those places. Not very friendly for people with strollers, but as my husband insists in taking one and not carrying our daughter, he had to deal with the bumpy pathways. 
We also discovered a nice trail with a gorgeous belvedere spot.
Of course I continued to make banana bread, now that I have the perfect outfit of this.
From now on I will always have toys in my pockets. 
Also I've restarted to slowly wear my Romanian blouses again. Since the Pompidou Paris trip  I haven't felt the desire to wear one, not even my hemp one. 
The Arlon authorities sent us fiber masks and vouchers to spent at local stores in an attempt to help the local economy. 
I've discovered this interesting artist, Martina Hoffmann from Berlin who handed out coloring pages for free and who has an interesting Instagram profile with gorgeous paintings for kids. Of course I've ordered some for Ilinca's room.
This year, I don't know if it was because people spent a lot of time inside or because of the unusual weather, all the flowers bloomed in amazing colors, especially poppies.
I don't know how these flowers are called, but they are blue and I love them
We even went for the first time to check out a castle we visited almost 8 years ago when we first moved to the area. The Beaufort Castle in Luxembourg. Last I've seen it, it was inhabited by sheep and the wind inside would sweep you of your feet. Now they worked on it and they give tickets at the entrance and Luna was not allowed. So we walked round it and went home.  
The meme of the period.
Actually, after wearing masks my face started to act up so I need some sort of a coloring BB cream, but I still can't wear any lipstick, not even the balms I was frequently using :(
Luna was reunited with the postman and is happy. She also wants every single thing Ilinca uses. That is Ilinca's pillow, but now they share it. 
Ilinca reading a book about the regal Romanian jewelry 
Me during the commute, in the train.
Also inside the train.
Favorite belvedere spot in Luxembourg
The progress I've made with Ilinca's Romanian blouse
We went for the first time since the pandemic started to the DM store in Germany and because I was with the trolley and my husband was with Ilinca's stroller be bought two hand creams. The biggest one is the one we finished during the lockdown, the middle one was picked up by my husband and the smaller one, by me. At least we both are optimistic that the "wash your hands for 20 second" period is over.
My blue flowers 
Nice flowers
On our walk recently we discovered a private castle. I took a picture of the imposing gate and can only dream about the actual castle inside.
The lavender is growing fast
Finally Ilinca has a children's book as she kept borrowing mine :)
As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu