May 18, 2020

Corona times - Final week of lockdown

Things are slowly getting back to normal, the stores are open, the museums are open and the kids have re-started school. We still work from home, from May 25th the European Institutions will probably decide to give up teleworking and only allow it on a voluntary basis.

There are 3930 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Luxembourg, in Belgium there are 54.989, 173.152 in Germany and 141.356 in France (Delano). As the burden on the health systems lessens, medics and academics have started looking into other diseases and complications this virus causes and my hope is they will concentrate on a treatment and maybe a vaccine. The reports of the effects this virus had on patients cured is horrific and I do believe we still don't know what we deal with.

In the meantime wearing a mask is strongly recommended as well a washing the hands and limiting as much as possible the human contact. I went to Ikea on Saturday and although not one second I felt in danger of getting the virus, this is no way of shopping. I was not a fan of offline shopping anyway,  but now more than ever I feel that I will stick to online. And speaking of Ikea, Belgium still hasn't opened its borders and the due date is 8 June, but we are on May 17th and people living in Luxembourg are able to cross the border to go to Ikea and Decathlon and the other shops in that area, but are not allowed to see their friends in Arlon. The border controls are set right after the Ikea highway exit. If you need more prove we live in a capitalist world, well this is it.

Rant over, let's look at pictures.
I will miss the walks we had through empty Arlon. Don't get me wrong, Arlon was pretty empty even before the lockdown, but people were in their cars. During the "corona times" people started walking, greeting strangers on the street, helping other people. I am afraid these human connections will be over once we no longer face a common enemy and we will again turn on each other, people with cars against people without, people with dogs against people without, English speakers against French ones, people with kids ... you get the point.
This too shall pass rainbows filled the windows of Arlon and not only Arlon, I've seen them online all over the world.
They again started putting commercial posters all over the city, even the Bauhaus one, in Luxembourg (on the bottom right corner of the photo) even if we are not allowed to go shopping in Luxembourg, for now. But somehow the #staysafe one is still there.
A lot of people asked about Luna. She is fine, I'm sure she will miss this time with daily long walks and both of us home, but she wants to see more people. Have I've told you at one point I've asked the postman to pet her? She is a very social dog.
During the lockdown my chocolate intake was over the limits, especially Milka wafers, but somehow I did not like the chocolate eggs we bought for Easter. So this week I've mixed them with roasted nuts and biscuits and created some sticky mass which reminded me of home made chocolate back in Romania. That was the last of the chocolate, I hope to quit this habit,  will let you know how it goes.
I've restarted working on Ilinca's Romanian blouse. I like the documenting process more than the embroidery one, but I'm committed to finish it by June 24th and that gives me a deadline. It will be too big for her this year, but I will of course post pictures and maybe create a dedicated post if I have enough information.
I will surely make an Instagram story if not an entire post about things I've found on that platform for kids at the local stores. Well I will say it here, there is a small bookstore in Luxembourg called Little English Bookworm selling books in English and I've made a purchase and got the package the next day. I think it was delivered by the bookstore owner, a lovely lady. We chatted about my book choices and I'm sure we will meet again as I plan to at least visit all these local small shops I've found in the area. So if you happen to read this and live in Luxembourg or Arlon, check her bookstore.
Have I've told you enough times the stores are opened? Well one of my favourite stores in Luxembourg and Arlon is Veritas. It attracted me, when I've first arrived in Luxembourg, because it sells craft materials and in particular beads. If you remember I was into jewellery making in Dublin. Well one day I went to Veritas in Arlon and all I've bought was a mask making kit :( 
My windowsill office. 
I've got so accustomed with it that even now I'm writing on my laptop, even if the desktop is free. 
Somehow everyone I know in Romania loves these flowers, I'm not yet a fan. 
The Corona Times memes are getting better and better. Don't know about the sneaker as I was too little that time, but I do remember the dices and the dreamcatchers and I've seen a lot of people hanging their mask that way, too.
And that's it folks, hopefully the final week of lockdown. I hope the number of people getting Covid-19 will go down and we will be able to enjoy a sort of a Summer and most importantly I hope we will be able to go to Romania to visit our family. I miss my friends especially now that Luxembourg went out of lockdown two weeks before Belgium :( 
As usual you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu I am more active there.

May 11, 2020

Corona Times - Week 10 of isolation

The end is in sight. On May 11th the second phase of the lockdown exist will begin in Belgium with opening some of the other stores which were declared as non-essential in the first confinement stages. Wearing of masks is recommended in places where keeping the safe distance of 1.5 metres is not possible. At the same time, from May 11th Luxembourg will go out of lockdown completely with schools opening gradually starting with older kids.

At the moment the statistics are grim in the area, in Belgium there are 52.596 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 8581 deaths, in France there are 138.421 cases and 26230 deaths, in Germany there are 167.300 Covid confirmed cases and 7266 deaths and in Luxembourg the numbers are 3871 and 100 deaths (from Delano, statistics from May 9th). At the same time in Luxembourg they say that only 2% of the population has Covid 19 or was in contact with a confirmed case. In my small town there are 84 cases of Covid 19.

Personally I have no reason to rebel and I'm waiting patiently to see the evolution of things. I've kinda accepted that we will be very lucky if we will make it to Romania for a week during the summer and that is about it. Waiting for Christmas although they talk about reorganising even the Christmas Markets (so weird to talk about Christmas in May!). From May 15th we will be allowed to make a short one day trip in Belgium and I hope we will make it to the seaside. By now I've cancelled three planned trips, each and every one with a day of depression. But all the things are not bad, we are healthy and together and we even managed to not spend as much money as if we would go to Luxembourg everyday.
This is the moon from the bedroom window photographed with my phone. It did a decent job :)
The lilac in the garden 
The memes related to Covid-19 got better and better, but at some point I've stopped noticing and collecting them. I don't know why.
This meme is one of the most inspired I've seen this week
Life goes on in the little Grand Duchy and there is a new printed magazine, a travel one, called Lucy which is distributed free and is even send to other countries. It arrived in my mail box and I've enjoyed reading it out loud to Ilinca in the garden.
On Tuesday we went to Habay to the lake and it was so nice and empty. Only two or three other people there. Normally I would want to see people, especially now, but last time we went to Habay we could not even get out of the car because of the crowds. 
It rained a little and the atmosphere has cleared out a bit so the pictures are clearer somehow.
This 10th week of confinement marked the first time we went to buy take away. I don't know what I thought I would sense, but it was a plain burger with fries. There was a long queue and we stood a bit under this tree.
Sometimes Ilinca falls asleep in my arms. This period of time where we were both home with her is a blessing. As she is more active during the day, I don't know what I would have done without my husband.
My maternal grandmother had these plants in her garden 
The deconfinement stages in Belgium.
As usual you find me more on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

May 4, 2020

Corona Times - Week nine of isolation

It was a long weekend, have you noticed? I didn't :) I've sent emails even on May 1st cause it felt like a regular Friday.
This week I took pictures of a lot of flowers. It was a rainy week, first after two months of sun, (can you believe it?) so maybe I felt the need to see some colours...I don't know
First this door. I've always seen it from the car, but never had a chance to park and take pictures. Well, on April 28th, the day our daughter was three months old, we took a looooong walk through the empty city and came across this door. It is a sign :)
It is an art nouveau style door (I think), but its colour intrigues me. Who would paint a door this blue? Well, me, but apart from me, there is (or was) someone in Arlon that loved blue as much as I do. If you wonder, yes I could have removed the bricks in photoshop, it would have taken maybe 5 minutes, but what would be the point?
Doing dishes these days :)
At the beginning of the lockdown. I've ordered some coloured pencils and they arrived this week.
There they are. I would never justify spending money on fancy coloured pencils, but I have a kid now :) She will play with them :)
Tradition calls that on the May 1st to offer lily of the valley to your loved ones as a token of luck and prosperity for the coming year. I don't have lily of the valley and also no idea where to get them, so this is white lilac from my garden :)
I went shopping a bought tulips for my office. They changed price. It was 2,99 and now it is 3,50.
The ones in public places are free, but please don't pick them. They are gorgeous!
Queuing at the supermarket I noticed I've never took a selfie of me with a mask. Am I the only one with a big nose and a mask that gets into my eyes because the wire does not hold her in place on my nose?
Another benefit of the lockdown. Those poppies are in the middle of a busy roundabout near our house. I would never have dreamt to cross it. Now there are so few cars we walked to the middle of the roundabout and took a lot of pictures. I love poppies, especially these Turkish ones.
My white lilac
So bad you cannot smell it! Especially now that it rained and my hay fever cooled down a bit, I can smell it :)
Also because it rained the atmosphere was so clean you can see bigger distances from Belvedere. The cherry trees lost their flowers in less than a week, but the old neighbourhood still looks good and we enjoy walking up the hill. 
Iris flowers. I love the combination of colours
Last week I've talked about Dalgona Coffee Challenge, well this week I've made time to make a Turkish coffee. I've bought it from a gas station in Germany maybe half a year ago and never found enough time to make ibric coffee. Ibric is the copper pot where you boil the water and then add coffee and boil it till the right moment and then pour it into a cup and drink it. It is an art in making this sort of coffee and we used to make it every morning before those fancy coffee filters came into our lives. We sacrificed ibric coffee for less time consuming filters, but maybe, now and then we can make Turkish coffee again.
That's it, the ninth week. If you want to keep in touch you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

May 3, 2020

Corona times - Week eight of isolation

I keep complaining about the freedoms we lost when I should concentrate on the fact we are alive. You see, living in Luxembourg was bearable because you were in the middle of Europe with a couple of hours drive to major European cities and flights of all budgets connecting to the rest of the world. Also with the ability to shop for groceries in Belgium and toiletries in Germany we took full advantage of free movement. When all that was over, Luxembourg was left with the empty streets, bad weather, expensive supermarkets and snobbish people. 
Even more different is the life in Arlon, Belgium, at the border with Luxembourg a former province which once belonged to the country Luxembourg and which the federative government of Belgium keeps forgetting. Its people enjoy the benefits of working in Luxembourg with the ones of living in cheep Arlon, but once the borders were shut, they had to face the Arlonais reality. 
No or fewer food deliveries, no free face masks sent by post, not so many Covid-19 tests, no freedom to drive (in Belgium driving has to be limited to supermarkets or hospitals and going out should be limited to two km around the house, while in Luxembourg it seems that everyone can drive or bike everywhere), interacting with the locals who have no knowledge of English nor German. 
For me the first trip to the supermarket was like I just moved to the area, I did not know the packaging of everyday items, I did not know the way products were arranged in the aisle and everything seemed so chaotic. 
So, on the eight week of isolation we took full advantage we have a dog and a kid under 5 years and we drove to the woods and to Belvedere and because it was sunny we spent a lot of time in the garden and on the terrace.

From the woods

The Belgian de-confinement plan. Waiting patiently for it to be over so we could meet again.

It's such a privilege to walk under the cherry trees.

I might have not given the impression, but you see I am alone even without lockdown. Because I've lived in Ireland and Romania, I have different tastes in most things. And one of those things is shoes. I love Irregular Choice shoes and own a few pairs. I also buy coloured snickers from Sipet de Sidef in Romania and painted shoes from Dogo in Berlin. So when I first arrived here, 8 years ago, no one even knew what coloured shoes are, let alone what Irregular Choice is. So to find a pair of IC shoes on a window of a SH store in Arlon...well that means I am not alone :)

OMG Dalgona Coffee. If you are in lockdown and you are between 15 to 45 years old you must have encountered somewhere online this challenge, to make Dalgona Coffee, which is nothing more than something we called NesFrappe, back in the day. It was whisked instant coffee with milk and ice. And going back even more, in communist time Romania, coffee was sparse, but we had instant coffee. And one of the customs when you had guests was to mix instant coffee with sugar and whisk it till it became whiter, using a spoon, then you will put hot water and had a sort of a coffee. Growing up I liked to whisk the coffee, so much so, I always eat it like that and not put hot water. 
So seeing influencers in our days whisking instant coffee with a KitchenAid, is something to put a nostalgic smile on my face.

Do you believe those are tulips?
Granted we didn't get to go to the Netherlands or even to Floralia Brussels this year, but we found so many tulips in the city and I think I've photographed all. We stopped the car for these ones :)

First BBQ of the season

My windowsill office and with the Romanian Blouse I'm making for my daughter. I think by now I love more to document how to make a blouse than actually making it :) It will be a child blouse, different from an adult one, made from hemp and embroidered with red thread. Once it's done I will of course show it to you :)

After at least three years, I've rediscovered jeans and they became my go to outfit for walking Luna. I don't know why I've stopped wearing jeans, but now I want a Levi one, bootcut. 

The news of the week was the distribution of free face-masks in Luxembourg, as they became mandatory in public places and places where one cannot keep the 1,5m distance from another person. Well, as we work in Luxembourg, I got an e-mail that even we got masks, I'm not sure it was from the government or the company, but as I haven't checked my mail box in 8 weeks now, I can't get them.
In Arlon the budget would not allow for the authorities to distribute free face-masks, but the fabric ones were made by the local associations and made available in exchange for a donation of 3 euro. If you do not have 3 euro you can still get a mask. I liked this local spirit and for sure I will buy at least three as they are funny and different from the medical ones, still haven't found the time to see exactly where can I get them from :)
In the picture is St. Donat the patron saint of the Belvedere church wearing a locally made mask.
That's it, the eight week. As I'm writing this I'm already at the end of the ninth week. If you want to keep in touch you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

April 20, 2020

Corona times - The seventh week of isolation

By the seventh week of isolation measures were taken to start loosen the lockdown and get things back to normal, how that normal was gonna look, no one really knew. It was certain that holidaying in the summer was over and we would be lucky if we could go to visit our parents. I think what is most dangerous right now are believing the rumours. I have faith in the decisions the Luxembourgish authorities take and up to now the authorities in Arlon are mirroring. What is certain is that all public events are cancelled until July 31st in Luxembourg and August 31st in Arlon, that means both national day celebrations, we are required to wear face masks in public places, schools will gradually restart and also garden centres and recycling parks will reopen.
I have a subscription at the crafty/hobby magazine, Flow and they also shared these colouring sheets. It started with the blue tiles, but it got me colouring again :)
Despite de lockdown and the constant menacing of the corona virus we are lucky to live in this area and live walking distance from this beauty. This is the view from Belvedere Arlon or St. Donat Church.
This wall hanging came with a bunch of things I've ordered before I gave birth to our daughter, from Next. I kept moving it from place to place not finding a spot for it in Ilinca's room. In the end I used a blob of patafix :) it's not aesthetic, but it will do.
I've told you a few weeks ago that I've enrolled into a bunch of online classes or workshops, well I've managed to actually take part in one. They are organised by Calea Victoriei Foundation in Bucharest and this particular one was about Brancusi. It was interesting to a point, I can't wait now for the next one about magic and folklore.
Cherry trees from Arlon Belvedere
I've already forgot about the Easter Monday in Luxembourg and Emaichen
So tradition calls in every Easter Monday for a clay market to be organised in a small town in Luxembourg, Nospelt the epicentre of the clay industry in the area, now extinct. And from that market children would buy little bird shaped clay whistles. The picture is from last year, but I do hope to share this wonderful tradition with our daughter again, next year. 
Speaking of, they are my wonders, Luna and Ilinca. 
Luna is very sad about the whole situation, because she is a sociable dog and lacks the pets and hugs from the postman and the sniffs of other dogs on the street. I don't know why the dog owners do not allow their dog to smell each other, but I do hope things will get back to normal as Luna is very unhappy.
Ilinca is all smiles and she is a very good child. You have one guess who dressed her for this walk :) Not me.
In this region we were lucky to have free travel. I would not go as far as saying we took it for granted, as we realised how lucky we were, but now that the travelling is put to a halt, we miss having the opportunity to visit a castle in Germany or a town in France or even to walk in the Luxembourg's Grund area and visit Melusina. The small things, like seeing our friends for a game night, or going to a terrace, or to a park, I think we miss those the most.

Instagram made me buy it :) 
It's not just me, each of my friends say they are tempted to buy a lot of things online, as we still have the possibility. Ilinca started grabbing things, but only small ones as small as fingers and while I was browsing Insta I've spotted these toys, Matchstick Monkeys. She seems to like them, but now she is too little to chew stuff. Still they are very nice and well made and in these times helping small businesses is important. 

The third banana bread :)
From the forest
This was our seventh week of isolation. I tend to keep busy on Instagram so if you want to stay in touch you can find me there @mademoiselle.ralu