Friday, 11 December 2009

Holy MacGyver

Buying things is easy.

If you have money there is really nothig that is impossible and it is one thing I'm painfully aware each time that I need something for my house and cannot afford it.

Rememebr the chasm that the new windows left in my bank account? aforementioned canyon brought me directly to a a little, nevertheless necessary acrobatic backflip to solve an issue in the kitchen


I know, you're right, you're right, I know you're right.

But that kitchen is unfinishable, there is nothing I can do about it.

It's my nemesis, my arch enemy and, more than all, I REFUSE to give up on it.

Rememeber the hole I left by the oven?

Probably not, so here is a quick recap. Please note the two sliding shelves, they will be needed later.

A quiet annoying fact about my kitchen is that it is the realm of of wall cabinets, but has not a single drawer to put spoon and forks in.

Till now they were all kept outside of this room leading to very funny situations when you sat at the table and suddenly realized you did not have a knife.

That is why I had already planned that that empty space would be used for that purpose.


Sadly not, main issue of that kitchen is that it is custom built and not a single kit furniture of Ikea could fill the space left by the lead builder ( I'm talking of my father in case you were wondering).

That is why I had to design a furniture from scratch.

I was ready to build and, even if quite complex it was a promising structure.

Sadly the windows typhoon arrived and beat to pulp my dreams, leaving me with the problem but without solutions.

Let's give up then.

Yeah, right,

In this home we try new paths, find daring solutions and try to cover ourselves in most utter ridicule.

Money out? Enter improvisation.

Under the guide of St MacGyver I started to ponder and fell on the furniture in the living room.

This furniture was an old bar with a rotating platform that could transform it in a table ( and that was what I was using it in my old home in fact). Structure was almost intact and it was there waiting to be used in some way.

So all that remainde was to collect the Swiss- kni... The tools and get to work.

Let's keep it short

Right, and there goes the sides of the table, shortened to allow the furniture to enter the narrow space.

The final result had to be movable, thus I changed the bottom and set it on wheel.

Weels have inbuilt brakes, so, if I need it, the platform can stop and stand firmly.

That done it only remained to reduce the turninng table to follow the body.

One issue was that said table was sustained by a steel leg that had to go at the beginning. it was substituted by two pivoting steel triangles that allowed minimum used space.

Once all is patched up it looks like that.

It is small, but once opened gives a wide surface to prepare food on it.

Just for the eyecandy a quick color swap took place.

This is the last intervention in the penguin lair for this year, next one will be end January in the living room.

Can barely wait :)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The berber horde

To be honest my home works, including transformations and decorations, are surely tiring yet painless matters.

They are done following my rithm, planned easily and then reported here.

Exception to the aforementioned rules are two class of works:

A) the one involving my father
B) the one involving external contractors.

Being my overzealous father far away from my home at the moment what I'm about to tell you is a story involving said extrernal contractors ( thunder and lightnings, thank you).

Seven windows.

The windows frames came straight from the sixties and the fact that nobody found it normal to swap them always left me baffled.

Let me get this straight, the fact that we have global warming and that winters become warmer and warmer must not fool you. When it is cold in Belgium it is Fecking cold, period.

I remember waking up with my face stiff and frozen more than once and once to have found that a bit of tea, forgot in a cup, was transformed in ice during the nght.

Some badly insulated light glasses were paired to the light alluminium frames and finished the work leaving ice cold air blades stab you.

I held out last winter, but was adamant about the fact that the windows were going down before this winter starts.

Easier said than done.

Never leave for tomorrow...

Explain me something.

I do technically live in the second worst economical recession this world ever knew. A crisis that is so bad that everyone weeps and cries its heart out.

With those premises why in the world is it that difficult to find a contractor that works for you? I mean I should receive red carpets and be treated like a saviour, wouldn't I?

Yeah right.

Excluding insanely overpriced requests ( one asked us 40K Euro to do the job) when we finally found the one that would do it for a reasonable price, we had to chase them via phone and mail all around Belgium.

Order was placed beginning of Juli, workers started to demolish the house half of October -_-"

... What you can nuke today

When I say Demolish I'm not joking at all. The moroccan workers started their task with the quickness of a Ferrari mech team that switched tire during a race and the delicacy of Attila's Huns ( There is no grass in my house, but I'm darn sure there never will be now).

Old frames were torn, stripped, sawn and ripped to tatters.

At a certain moment the proud sons of North Africa started to cut the metal with a mechanical grindstone. The old frame waved to this final assault and before giving in burned TWO of the assailant's electrical engines.

When I saw the metal fall I realized that it was a third grinder that they were using and commented to myself " They are well equipped nevertheless".

It was only later when my neighbour from the third floor came asking if I had seen his mechanical grinder that I decided to avoid further comments...

It took three non consequent days of work ( with a lots of phonecalls in between) and when I came back form my little trip to Italy I could see my wiindows finished...

... And a whole lot of little problems.

Only one more push.

When my tactful workers left the house left two not really small issues as well.

First one was a series of holes in the walls around the frame. That was a consequence that they did not cut the metal Ls that kept the old structure in place before tearing it down.

Second issue was more baffling. When I came home I found that three out of four windows in the living room were missing and were replaced by white plastic boards.

The reason to this was simple and absolutely coherent with my contractor's way of working. Only God knows why, when we placed the order, some windows came in too big for the frame.

They assured me a quick substitution, but my phone and me knew better than that.

In the meantime there was the issue of the hole in the walls. Olivier, my third floor neighbour, gave me the number of two brasilian specialists that had already worked for him.

I called them, they came and after a deadly contract round (solved with the help of my neighbour, praised be his name) we agreed on an acceptable price that included everything, work, materials and saudade.

One thing I have to say over those two, they did chat like old ladies on a park bench, but they worked fast and had a God blessed hand for it.

Two days later they were finished, and they did it so well that I reallly wanted to tell them "Right lads, rip all the house open and do it all anew."

Even destiny had decided he had enough fun at my expenses and as soon the job was finished I received a call that informed me that my windows were just arrived, probably on camel back directly from Morocco.

The same day the tactful contractors were there and gave an admirative look at the high quality work that my Brasilians helper did.

Not even a second later one of my berbers crashed the window corner into the job scaring it.

It really is hard not giving away to racism.

Final touch

Only cleaning up the house (after living for three weeks in a talc mine) and painting remained.

That's right, because even if I stil have to paint my sleeping room ( that's for 2010) the colors I put on the Living room were gone and had to be redone.

Cleaning took 8 hours, 4 of it only to dust each single furniture in that house ( inbetween I took the time to go to grand Place watch the jugglers)

Painting took two hours, but I did skip the color work and just put the basic ones. I will finish the work in a couple of hours of free time later.

You happy?

Now that it is over yes.

I have a dent in my banck account that will need a while to heal, house is still quite dirty, but I'm happy.

Home has never been that warm and waking up in the morning in a room that is , I adit, cold, but nothing like the cellar I was used to is priceless.

Now that this is over, just a little last intervention in the kitchen and I can close the works in the house for 2009

Timetable has been respected:)

Berbers aside.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Grand place

Grand place is one of those places who really makes you always think you are somewhere else.

I deeply admire this town for the fantasy and cleverness of use of this space, encased between the old walls of its beautiful, gold roofed buildings

So sunday afternoon, after 5 hours cleaning up the mess that the renovations works left in my flat ( more of that later) I arrived in Grand place to find

So it is, 600, 600 jugglers all gathered together on the middle of this beautiful stone paved stage.

The view was incredible. As you entered the square, air was filled with balls, maces, rings and whatever you could throw.

Not a single point of the square was left empty

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The penguin asks...

Is the glass half full or half empty?

Make your choice....

Autumn in Brussels

Not dead yet, relax.

It only happened that works are under way at home and thus I have even too many things to tell.

Kitchen is unreacheable and here you see a fine example of my actual dinners.

Let me catch my breath again and I'll tell you everything this week.

See you later...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Happy Birthday

Usually I do not use my Blog for personal messages, but seen the reason, I will do an exception for that one.

We have almost the same age, just a couple of years divide us, but we come from the same generation.

We are children of the seventies. Those wonderful years in which it seemed still possible to change the world with a few dimes and many dreams.

We both come from difficult years, the energetic crisis of the seventies has become the financial crack of the 21th century.

We did not know each other then and our initial confidence has become friendship only recently.

that said we are too similar, too much one of a kind to not see that little time together does not mean much.

So I take two minutes to tell to my friend what I do like of him and, as true friend do, even what I dislike of him, frankly and sincerely, the way friend should.

I like you because I can count on you, you're strong, trustworthy, have few pretentions and you always find a way to meet my requests, even if I'm totally broke.

I like your semplicity and your ability to be ready in minutes when I need you.

I love your patience in accepting roles that are not really cut for you.

And I'm happy to know that if I needed you for something completely crazy you would give it a least a try, just to show you never give up.

And as much I hat your legendary laziness, the fact that I have always to drag you up the stairs and your piggy habits to make a stall of every room you enter , I admit that when the work is over a beer and a laugh with you pay up for How tired I am.

We started a path together my friend and it has just begun.

For your first thirty years, happy birthday Billy.

We'll do great things together :)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The sun over Brussels

What can I say

Thanks for everything love.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Moroccan Mint tea

Many times asked and terribly late here is the holy recipe of the most marvelous moroccan Tea, which was taught to me by a Moroccan Tea master, owner of an internet point.

So what? You think it is so easy to find a Moroccan mountain-living Hermit in the middle of Brussels?

You funny guys you.


Some fresh mint
Two soup spoon of Gunpowder Tea
8/10 soup spoons of sugar (Not a joke, read on and I'll explain)

You are goint to need a metallic teapot, a wooden spoon or stick a glass and, if you like, some rose or orange water.


- Boil a cup of water and pour it in the teapot

- Start boiling up enough water to fill the teapot and a bit more (you'll need it )

- While water boils clean the leaves and separate them from the stems.

- When water is boiling, empty the teapot and pour two full spoons of tea in the teapot.

- Pour a bit of water on the leaves rinse and pour out the Tea

This operation is needed to open the leaves and gets the tea powder out of the teapot so that your tea is clear.

Repeat two or three times

- Pour sugar.

The obscene quantity I told you has a practical reason and a personal reason.

The practical reason is that the tea will sit in the teapot all the time you're drinking it, thus getting bitter.

Sugar will cover this.

Personal reason is that this is a dessert and as such has to BE sweet.

This quantity is for about a liter water, but you will have to go for try and fail on your teapot till you find the right quantity.

- Add mint

- Pour water and let brew for 5 minutes.

- Stir with the wooden stick or spoon to break the sugar on the bottom of the teapot, then pour some Tea in a glass and back in the teapot.

- Repeat a couple of times till you're sure the sugar and Tea are well mixed together

- Pour in a glass letting it fall from high so that a soft foam forms on it.

- If you like it you can put a couple of drops of rose water or orange water in the glass before pouring the Tea

Enjoy :)

Friday, 7 August 2009


My new oven kicks some serious butt :)