Friday, May 12, 2006

Our first US weekend

Hi all,

well we got settled in, with alllll of our bags, and it was a lot. Jennifer can testify to that. I'm not exactly known as a "light" traveler. LOL
Besides, one of my suitcases looked like I had robbed the chocolate store and the local craft store. No, it didn't look like a stamp store. We don't have dedicated stamp stores over there.... But I did bring loads of belgian chocolate, dutch and UK craft magazines and local craft stuff to swap or as gifts for the people I'd get to meet along the way.
We freshened up, I found out that they have a polish type of shower, you know, where the C stands for Hot and the H stands for Cold... LOL... and then it was time for dinner. The fish Jennifer had prepared was just slightly overseasoned, guess that was a polish thing too, but if husband Bruce hadn't made a comment, we would never have known it wasn't supposed to be like that!! Who are we to know what life is like in an american household?? On this trip we were specifically looking for totally submerging in the american life style if possible, and if that's what they are used to, well, we'll go along with that!! So we didn't even blink and ate that fish. But I think Bruce gave her a restraining order for any further cooking that weekend since he did the cooking for the next two days. LOLOLOL
Bruce's cooking was very good, btw. More on that later. First things first.
While sitting at the dinner table we talked the night away so to speak. There were no awkward silences at all. We were all very interested in each other's life styles and compared how things worked in both countries. It was like we'd known each other for years. Which is true for Jennifer and me, but through e-mail only and that's still something entirely different than spending hours on end together in real life!!
Trust me, the real life experience is waaayyyy better than e-mailing each other!!!
Jan and Bruce got on well too, so that's a bonus for when Jennifer and I started swapping goodies and talking stamps. Heheh.

Am I going to much into detail?? I'm just trying to remember as much details as possible from this trip, and I'll probably read these stories for years to come! Hope it's not too boring for you guys though!!

Anyway, we had been up for quite some time and finally went to bed. Usually I am soooo not a morning person and I even warned the family about that, just in case, but of course I was wide awake by 6am. I blame it on the jetlag. LOL
Though maybe the excitement of going on this trip and the prospect of meeting so many of my online friends might have played a slight role in that too of course... hmmm....
But Bruce was already up too, and we just chatted and chatted and chatted over a cup of coffee... It's amazing that almost perfect strangers would find so much to talk about!!! And it wasn't even about stamping or crafting either!! LOLOLOL

For a three week car trip I wanted to get me a nice large sleeping pillow so I could rest/sleep during the longer parts of the driving, or whenever I'd get real tired. We also needed a cooler box if we wanted the chocolate to survive this trip at least until we'd reach the place where Jan's niece is staying. We have some belgian chocolates for her and her guest family of course. So on Saturday morning Jennifer took us out shopping (another big mistake according to Jan!) for the pillow and the cooler box. I was totally blown away by the cost of some things here!! I had just bought me a large bottle of contacts fluid for this trip and lo and behold, they had the exact same brand and bottle size here!! For less than one third of the price in Belgium. Duh. Of course I'd never leave on a trip without this and I didn't buy one here coz I just got one back home. But I might get one before we head back home though!! Oh, and remind me again why we spent over 50 euros on a battery recharger back home?? Oh yeah, because we needed one to recharge the batteries for the digital camera and the MP3 player, and coz we didn't know we could get that recharger here at Walmart for 7 dollars!!!!!! More duh!!!
There are some plans on getting started on a scrapbook, but I needed something to put the pages and cardstock in so I could get it home without it all getting wrinkly. So Jennifer took us to an AC Moore's. Third big mistake according to Jan. I really felt like a kid in a candy store and was again really amazed at the prices!
The 12" Fiskars cutter was on sale for $9.99; this little baby costs about 35 euros in Belgium. I have one, but was still tempted. I was good though, coz I saw that the stamps were 40% off, so I wanted to spend my money on those!!! LOLOLOL
Also saw a three pack of 3M double sided tape for the price of just one back home.
The price differences are truly mind boggling. Jennifer asked us if we would like to go to a flea market on Sunday morning. Would I LIKE to go??? What a question!! OF COURSE, I'd LOVE to go to one!!! And we invited them for lunch afterwards, as a way of thank you for taking us in for three days. Of course since we didn't know anything there we relied on her to pick a nice place. Suddenly she got all excited and started jumping up and down with twinkles in her eyes saying she knew the perfect spot. A restaurant with a stamp store inside!!! It doesn't get any better than that, does it?? Jan just rolled his eyes... LOL
Bruce's roasted chicken for dinner was like we were out in a restaurant, soooo good!!! And coz Jennifer and me were still busy exchanging more stuff and explaining it to each other, he was on his own for the veggies too that evening. Hahaha!!
The next morning I was up again very early, around 7am this time. Still waaayyy early for me, but hey, it's getting better!! :-)
We went to the flea market with Jennifer and Bruce, and browsed around. It was held at the grounds of a drive-in movie theater, and I hoped I would get to see one. Well at least I got to see it during the day, with the big screen up and the speakers in the parking lot next to the cars. At the flea market I found a leather baseball glove and a baseball as a real american souvenir. Also found the bat, but Jan insisted on "no!".... hmm.....
Jennifer and I found some interesting old books from the forties with nice ads. Some local old business directory book or so from Waterbury. Then we stumbled across some very old handwritten letters from the thirties. When I took my nap in the afternoon they all spent some time reading them, even Jan. Never thought he'd be interested in anything like that, as they turned out to be love letters from a gal named Fran to a certain guy Raymond. Fun to read and what a nice handwriting!!! At one point I was browsing through some stuff at one of the booths when I suddenly saw Jen waving with a stamp in her hand!! Wow!! I almost tripped over in my haste to get to her! Actually husband Bruce had found them, and there were several large boxes to rummage through! I got a few and asked the lady if she would make a deal on those. She took them out of my hands, held them lovingly and kept fondling them while saying to me "oh I so hate to let them go"... Duh, you're selling them!! If you don't want to let go of them, don't put them up for sale, and if you are selling them for whatever reason at a flea market, you gotta be prepared to make some kind of deal on them. Didn't get much off the price, but I still got the stamps... Hahaha!!
I know that one of the stamps I got there would cost around 22euros in Belgium, so I actually never had bought one of that company before. Sad, isn't it??? LOL

Then to top it all off Jennifer showed us the place where we would have lunch, a local restaurant that also has a stamp store inside! There's no words to describe how I felt going in there. It's so different from anything I've every seen before! I was completely overwhelmed! Jan and Bruce got bored and went outside, chatting while they were waiting on Jennifer and me to finish up the shopping. (ggg)
That evening we got a treat: Bruce's famous ribs!! Man, they were sooo good!! I should have asked him to make us some for take away lunch the next day when we would leave. Jennifer and I kept busy swapping treasures with each other until after dinner and FINALLY, we got down to stamping. It's funny how you think you have all the time in the world, after all we were gonna be there the whole weekend, but then time seems to start running away from you and suddenly you realize there's so much more you wanted to have done or said!!

Well, anyway, our first weekend in the US was a complete success and I wouldn't have minded staying longer if we hadn't had all these other plans!!
Thank you so much Jennifer and family, it was a great time together!! :-))

Hugs to all,

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