La, la, la, eh hem, ok all warmed up again. 🙂 Today I write another love letter, this time to an art nouveau master piece that, as with many beautiful places in Brussels, brings you back to another time. Walking in Parc Tournay-Solvay feels like a magical portal straight to the 20’s. I love it in every possible way.
Originally a property of the other Solvay brother, playboy Alfred, the property was developed in 1878. It is located in Watermeal-Boitfort, just steps from the local train station. Over the years it grew to include not only the now ruined castle-like residence but a breathtaking rose and flower garden, dreamy art nouveau-inspired lake and bridges and an abundant apple orchard and potager. Today the property is maintained as part of the “Promonade Vert” system.
This is hands-down one of my favorite photo locations in the Brussels area. Each family that has joined me there has been wowed by this somewhat hidden gem. Usually quiet even on the sunniest summer weekend. I can’t recommend it enough to you not only as a place for our next meeting but as a beautiful treasure to explore the next time you want to get slightly out of town and enjoy a picnic or walk in a a time gone by. Enjoy!
This spring a small miracle occurred. After almost eight years overseas, my dad finally made it over for a visit to Belgium! We were so excited to show off our adopted country, it was nearly impossible to choose how to spend our too short time together. But one thing that was set in stone was a trip out to the apple blossoms for a special family photo session.
Today is Father’s Day in America, so I am happy to tell you a bit about my dad. When my mom went into labour with me, my dad drove like a maniac all the way to the hospital saying he wished a cop would pull him over so he could say he was having a baby. 🙂 One of my earliest memories I have is of my Dad waking me up and loading me in the car to run some far away errands. We always stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and then feasted on powdered donuts. No wonder it was a popular outing! When I was in the fourth grade, I cleverly changed a D on my report card to a B. Noticing, my dad pulled me into my room and explained that sometimes people make mistakes. That’s ok, but its when you made them twice that there is a problem. I use this philosophy today with my kids.
From my dad I got my work ethic, my ability to shake it off and my fingers. His taught me the importance of walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them and one of his favorite sayings, “its not the money, its the money”.
I wish he was closer but at least we have this sweet spring day and the images I will never forget. A time when he stopped being just Dad and became Grandpa. Love you Dad!
Its no secret that Brunch is a cultural phenomenon close to my heart. Lazy Sunday mornings, yummy eats and if you throw in kid’s activities as well, I am sold. So its been pretty much ages that I have been meaning to get to La Tricoterie. Many a trusted source has touted this blend of local and fresh breakfast, event space and fun stuff explosion.
So finally last week we managed to get dressed and get into town lured by the additional sweetener of a Maker’s Market. La Tricoterie is located in the St Gilles neighborhood sandwiched between the questionable Gare Midi zone and the lovely Parc de Forest. Choose your parking wisely!
Upon entering, you discover a warm and open space with some intriguing remnants of its former industrial factory life. There are several seating spaces but we chose to sit in the Arches room which is where the kids play area is. Long tables line the open space and seating is open so no need to worry if you have a group coming.
The menu consists of several formula (Classic, Vegetarian, Children’s) and also an a la carte section. We chose the classic menu and children’s which for us meant a plate with several cheeses, bread, a small salad, soup and a seasonal crumble. Decidedly non-traditional brunch and it felt a bit expensive at 16 EUR. The kid’s food was more of a hit with a soft boiled egg, bread and chocolate dipping sauce for 7 EUR (if memory serves!). In retrospect I wish I had chose the Eggs and Toast from the a la carte menu or even the intriguing “Croissant Perdu” as for me there is a strong emphasis on the “Br” aspect of Brunch foods.
While we chatted with friends in the surprisingly (welcomely) quiet space, the littles played in the kid’s zone which was fenced off and filled with fun activities of the creative sort. Blocks, drawing supplies, books, toy animals and a tunnel. Just a heads up, its also 3 EUR per child to join in on the fun.
Though we came for the brunch, I think the real Tricoterie magic comes from the many and varied activities they put on. As seen below, in addition to the Creator’s Market, also massage, painting, language conversation tables, etc. I would love to spend some time exploring these options.
I know I write many a gushing review but for La Tricoterie I say intriguing space for activities. Excellent to have a space for the kids to play while you chat but perhaps stick to the a la carte menu for a better value. Worth checking out to see if its your cup of tea. Brunch on.
Hearts, candy, flowers, love. We love St Valentines Day! This year we decided to do it up with a modish flair. Set in the classic but quiet Gallerie Bortier, I even made a thorough search for sweet and fun props to add a little sparkle.
Special thanks to my stepmom Cindi for coming out and keeping me sane during a long away trip for the Bear. Without her this session would have been completely impossible!
Today do something playful and loving for yourself and those you hold dear for time passes too fast.
Sitting now and reflecting back on the year feels a little surreal. 2016 marked a time of love, adventure and busyness. The biggest event of all, the welcoming of our sweet Jasper. Impossible to think that at this time last year we did not know he existed and now here he is in all his cuddley babyness.
2016 marked a move to the suburbs. A truly grown up endeavour as we settled into a house with a proper garden so close and yet so far from our buzzing city life. Quieter, wholesome and an opening to new friends and routines.
2016 also marked the busiest time yet for Bear & Dragon. The first half of the year was absolutely packed with wonderful families. Friends, old and new alike, amazing events (Royals, Bluebells, Apple Blossoms) and lots of new ideas to come.
This morning I looked back through some photos from the year and was inspired all over again. Though I am savoring every moment of leave with my littlest man, I am excited to jump back in for 2017. Spring will find me dabbling and by fall, a new dedicated studio space. I am so excited!
Now a wish for you. May 2017 hold wonderful days for you. Dance, play and love. Say yes more and live everyday to its fullest!
For us Americans, the day after Thanksgiving signals the official start of the holiday season. One month of Christmas and I can’t wait to get started! To get you in the mood, I am glad to share our perfectly imperfect Christmas session that took us for quite a ride last week. Here is what happened…
Pretty much forever, I have wanted to hold a holiday session at a Christmas tree farm (check your mail for a Christmas mini session next October!). Like many dreams that grow in importance and magnitude over time, this day was a little doomed from the start. Spending way too much time gathering the perfect props, researching Belgian Christmas tree farms and picking out lovely matched outfits, the expectations were high. Too high.
The morning of, our many materials gathered into bags. Snacks, jackets, hats, hot chocolate in a thermos, three kids, lights. It was a seriously pile. As we loaded up and headed out, I just hoped it would all go smoothly and the lovely late fall light would hold.
The first hint of a coming disaster hit on the way to the farm.
Me: “Honey, can you give the kids a banana? They are in the snack bag.”
Honey: “Um, there is no snack bag here. I looked everywhere.”
Next we arrived at the address. No Christmas trees! It seems this was the administrative office of the farm. They can’t be too far I thought so thus we drove in ever widening circles…with fussy, increasingly hungry and tired kids and now an awake and screaming two month old. Until finally, there they were! Gorgeous, green Christmas trees in sweet rows. The trees of my dreams!
So we parked and hopped out. Time to set up. A quick scan revealed that not only was the snack bag missing but also the one with all the props. A lone bag of fake snow luckily stashed in my purse was the only merry-making article to be found. Geez louise.
I will say we gave it our best but after a short time decided it just wasn’t meant to be. Sigh…
Finally home and fed, I reflected on the day. My perfect scene slipped away and here we were without the beautiful pictures I had in mind. Suddenly it dawned on me. We are not perfect. We don’t need a perfect setting, perfect clothes and perfect weather. We are perfectly imperfect. And we have a backyard…. and now all the fun Christmasy things we has left behind.
Thus I present our perfectly imperfect Christmas photos. Taken in our garden. Full of fun and love. Happy holidays!
Its official. I am FREAKING OUT about this amazing fall light and colors. It is a gift to be home with our latest addition but part of me is already missing working with all my favorite families for gorgeous fall sessions. For sure my lovely little ones will soon tire of momma grabbing the camera and tracking them through the forest like mini photographic prey. I can’t help it!
Please get yourself out there for a autumn walk. The colors couldn’t be more beautiful. The air is crisp and the light soft and misty. Fabulous, fabulous fall.
Dear sweet boy, how you have completed us. We are so glad to revel in this feeling of fullness, a complete circle. Welcoming you to the world has been one of the toughest but also best times for us all. You are so loved and we are proud to share some of that love today. ❤
Wow, what a year! Seems like a strange thing to say in August but the time until now has really flew by and now as we near the time to welcome our new baby boy, a sense of completion…and growth have settled in.
As the title implies, this new “project” has led to some ch-ch-ch-changes as we moved out to the ‘burbs into a sweet little house and I am just starting maternity leave now. Really I am much to big and lumbering to do my usual jumping up and down, running through parks and playing during photo sessions! It breaks my heart a little bit to miss my favorite photo time (fall) but I am determined to give this new little guy all I have got to make a great start in life.
So what’s next for Bear & Dragon? In the new year I will open a new studio space in a beautiful and convenient location in Brussels. I expect to be back in the early months of 2017 and can’t wait to see all my families, old friends and new for many new adventures.
In the meantime, stay tuned on the blog for some cool Brussels kids locations and to-do’s and a slice of life from bucolic Beersel.