A New Direction (and a new blog!)


It’s time for a new chapter. I’ve been away for sometime as I sort of lost my mojo for blogging. I’ve thought long and hard about starting again, and after much consideration (and a large glass of red wine!) I’ve decided to return to blogging, but with a new focus. A focus nearer, and dearer, to my heart – To Make A Home.

Like many of you, I’m a transplant to Brussels. I first moved here 12 years ago and have experienced this city from many different perspectives – jobs, relationships and, of course, where I have lived. Building a life in a foreign country comes with many challenges, but one thing that we can do to ease the transition is create a place to make us feel comfortable and energized, and enjoy every day.

I’m not talking about building or remodeling a huge four-story townhouse (although that is my dream!) or being the perfect 1950’s-style home-maker (my worst nightmare). I’m talking about taking wherever you live at the moment – your first apartment, a rented property or even your friend’s spare room – and making it your own.

And the best part is it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! I have lived in all of the above and have learned over the years how to make the most of my space and budget. Brussels is not the easiest, or most affordable, city to find home furnishings, so I’ve grown to be a die-hard DIYer, bargain shopper and creative IKEA hacker. I want to share what I’ve learned and tested (and what has failed), as well as what inspires me to create my own home.

I hope you will join me in this new adventure, whether you care about decorating or not. I especially want to write this new blog for anyone who wants to improve their home but isn’t sure where to start, thinks they don’t have enough money or simply doesn’t have much time. I strongly believe that a well designed home, no matter the size, has the ability to change the way we live for the better. Even if it is through small adjustments we make, like a new lamp, changing the wall color or rearranging the furniture, creating an environment that suits individual style and needs helps us enjoy our spaces more and feel like we are at home, even if far away from where we grew up.

So come join me over on my new site To Make a Home and follow along on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. And you can always revisit Best of Brussels past posts for my thoughts on this city!

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Obama in Brussels

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know President Obama is in Belgium today. As an American, I’m thrilled to finally have a US President that I voted for come to Brussels for a visit, even if a short one. Lots has been written in the build up about the cost and disruption, but despite the €10m price tag and traffic concerns, I think people are genuinely happy to welcome Mr Obama. Just take a look at Twitter this morning and all the welcoming comments from Belgians and expats alike (#ObamainBelgium #ObamainBrussels). Even folks in DC have taken notice of the importance of Brussels!

Obama in Brussels

Obama is on quick tour of Europe (The Netherlands yesterday and Rome tomorrow) and is busy this morning seeing the Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem and then attending a EU-US Summit and NATO meetings this afternoon. He’s also giving a speech later at BOZAR which you can watch live (starts at 17:45).
Unfortunately President Obama isn’t expected to have much downtime for site seeing or chocolate shopping, like good old President Bush did back in 2005 when he visited the famous Mary’s chocolate shop. I’m sure most of us won’t get a chance to see him, or even a glimpse of The Beast (his limo) but it’s great to finally have him in the capital of Europe. Welcome Mr President and hope you enjoy Brussels!
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Spotted by Locals

So the nice folks over at Spotted by Locals are sharing the Brussels love this week. Their City of the Week is Brussels and to celebrate they’re offering their iPhone app guide for free until Friday (usually costs $3.99). I downloaded it yesterday and gave it a little test run. Here are the results.


The app is easy to use, with lists of places around Brussels sorted by categories like bars, restaurants, music, shopping, etc. You can also view the featured locations on a map or by searching nearby. Each entry has a short review from the Spotted by Locals team, address, hours and other useful info.

SpottedbyLocals app             SpottedbyLocals app

The list of bars is pretty decent and includes some popular spots like Bar Beton, Chez Franz and L’Ultime Atome. The restaurant list is okay with reviews of places like Kokuban, Ici and Toukoul but is missing some of my favorites and generally more up-scale eateries.

I like that they have a list dedicated to coffee & tea, as a good cup of coffee isn’t always easy to find. There is also a list of spots to relax around Brussels, including parks, squares and other public spaces. The shopping list is rather limited but they make up for it with the more complete overview of arts, culture and music venues.

SpottedbyLocals app            SpottedbyLocals app

Overall the app is useful and allows you to make a selection of your favorites. This week Spotted by Locals is also offering free city apps for London and Berlin so get’em while they’re hot. If you roll old-school style, you can always download the PDF version of the Brussels city guide for a reduced price of $0.89.

There are several other smartphone apps for Brussels out there, many of them for free, which I posted about here and here a little while back. This latest one is a good addition to the mix!

P.S. and be sure to also check out The Spotted by Locals list of top Brussels blogs posted yesterday. Best of Brussels made the cut!

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Foodie Fridays – Brussels in Loft

How cool is this idea? A pop up restaurant designed by the owner of Le Show Room with top European chefs. And they throw in some live music to top it all off!

Brussels in Loft

Brussels in Loft, organized by Open Kitchen, is a temporary restaurant set up for eight days at the end of March / early April. The concept was first launched last year with local chefs (including a good friend!) and musicians. For this second round the hosts have invited pop up restaurants chefs from across Europe. Each evening will have a different city theme from Lisbon to Prague and several places in between.

Brussels in Loft

Tickets are 60€ per person and there are only 40 places available for each night. It’s not quite clear from the website what you get for your money, but I’m assuming the best and expecting a few courses and some decent wine.

Brussels in Loft

I’ve bought tickets with friends for the dinner on 5 April which will feature two German chefs, Max and Felix. They run the Reinstoff restaurant in Berlin that has two Michelin stars so I’m sure we’ll be in for a treat! The music will be courtesy of Marie Warnant, who has her third electro album coming out in March. This isn’t exactly my style, but I’m sure it will make for some interesting entertainment over dessert.

Hope to see some of you there!

Images via Brussels in Loft.

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