A Brussels Itinerary in 24 Hours

Hey there! It’s been a minute. Summer Jacinda and Summer Jaime have been living it up. Here’s what I was up to last week. First: a little background: I am 38 years old. I have several sisters and brothers, the youngest of which is Rachel. She is 20 years old and studying to be a veterinarian. She works her booty off in school and I am busy mothering and such, so we don’t get to spend as much time together as sisters probably should. When we both had a week off this summer, we decided to take a trip. It was her first visit to Europe so we made a mad dash through several cities via the train (thank you Rail Europe) from London. I warned her about jet lag, the stress of seeing so much and walking so much, blah blah blah none of it mattered, she basically was like a veteran traveler after 5 minutes on the ground – figuring out train schedules and conquering jet lag like an old hand. Our first stop after leaving London (1.5 hours on the eurostar) was 24 hours in Brussels, Belgium. Here’s how to get the most out of your short stay in this charming city.

The Hotel Des Galleries is perfectly located in the city center on this charming little walk street. The hotel is perfect in it’s elegant design, and has a lovely restaurant and wine bar right in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Hotel Des Galleries Brussels

After you check in, the first thing you will want to do is take a short walk to the Grand Place to admire the architecture and soak in the vibe. Here is Rachel and me in front of the stunning Guildhalls. Grand Place Brussels Jaime and Rachel.

You can stop by the tourism office on the square for a free walking tour (ask for the times at the desk), or you can pay 40 euro (plus tip) for a horse drawn carriage tour, which we did and was totally worth it. Brussels Grand Place

You’ll learn about the buildings of the Grand Place and tour a bit outside the city center. I was fascinated to learn about Brussels’ history of comic strips, which are memorialized in several murals throughout the city. Brussels Comic Murals

You will also learn from your guide about the terrorist bombings of March 22, 2016. This graffiti touched me. Fear Heals Nothing Brussels

And of course you will see the famous Manneken Pis. It’s smaller than you think, but it’s a must see when in Brussels. Manneken Pis

Blink and you’ll miss the smallest house in Brussels. The Smallest House in Brussels

After your tour, stop at a cafe for a Belgian beer and some seafood. Then take a walk through the beautiful Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a shopping arcade dating back to 1847. You will want to bring home some chocolates – you can even take a chocolate tour. The Belgians I know recommend Pierre Marcolini, which you can find in the Galeries and a few other locations around the city center. It’s spendy, but worth it. You can also arrange a chocolate tasting tour – there are many, many, many chocolates to be had. Galeries Royale St. Hubert

Make your way back to the Grand Place, taking note of the spring flowers and doorways to secret gardens. You will want to watch the sunset and see the buildings light up in the dark. In the summer the sun won’t set until almost 10 pm, giving you plenty of time to have some wine or more Belgian beer on the square. Grand Place Brussels

Find a local shop and have a late night Belgian waffle. The topping options will overwhelm you, I suggest going with crumbled Speculoos – the famous cinnamon and ginger Belgian cookies. So good. I would have taken a picture but my sister and I ate the whole thing. Get a good night’s rest and wake up with a delicious cappuccino. In the morning, walk to the Magritte Museum by way of the Brussels Library. At the top of the stairs you’ll enjoy this lovely view. Brussels Library View

The Magritte Museum suffers from not having his most famous works on hand, but it is still a must to learn about this Belgian artist while in Brussels. The museum will take less than an hour to experience, then walk next door to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium for an immersive tour of the paintings of the old masters and a few modern works as well. Don’t ask me why I snapped a picture of this Dirk Bouts. It should be obvious. Royal Museum Belgium Decapitation

From there, if you have time, stop into the Musical Instruments Museum before walking back to your hotel. Finish up your 24 hour visit to Brussels with a selfie and some frites in the square before grabbing your bags and heading to the train.
Brussels Graffiti Rachel

Next up – Amsterdam!

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Summer Jacinda and Watercolor Wednesday

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IMG_3652Hello my precious’. As Jaime explained in her last post, we are in Summer mode y’all and here in Texas we are unapologetically living life just exactly how we want to do so, with a few reading charts mixed in. I’ve been calling myself Summer Jacinda and Summer Jacinda can’t be held to a daily blog post calendar. Summer Jacinda is playing lifeguard, playing tennis, coordinating playdates, playing dominos, doing a lot of Summer reading, doing a little Summer weeding, sipping some pink beverages, and occasionally tapping away at a keyboard with pink fingernails. Summer Jacinda is going wild people, but in the most chill way possible.

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A few days ago Clare had her cousin/best friend/neighbor Manning over for a sleepover so we set up an impromptu watercolor painting session just as the afternoon glow hit the cacti in our front courtyard. You can see more of that space here. It’s definitely due for an update but there hand-painted stools are hanging strong. The girls love to paint and I love their artwork so much. Aren’t they both beautiful and so unique? I want to frame them… but framing seems like more of a Fall Jacinda project. Time will tell.

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I hope that all of you are enjoying your Summer months. Making beautiful memories with friends and family and taking some time to refresh and relax, in whatever way means the most to you.

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Prudent Summertime Updates & A New House!

This week has been ridiculously beautiful. More on what I’ve been up to in a minute, first just wanted to address that Jacinda and I haven’t been popping in quite as much lately and that’s because it’s summertime! Also, we are working on some behind the scenes update to our site, which are taking up some of our precious time as well. Scarlet is 8 now and going to third grade (at a new school next year, eek!) in the fall, that means only 10 more summers at home with me! I want to make them count.

So first things first, my big news is I BOUGHT A HOUSE! Carleton, Scarlet, and I have loved our spanish bungalow for the last 7 years – you’ve seen it in our Pretty Prudent Home book. Well, the time has come to make a change, and we are moving into a perfectly preserved 1949 mid century modern gem. Lots of posts to come on this as we get closer to moving in August, but here’s a sneak peek. Isn’t it wonderful?? Pretty Prudent House

So while I am going through the escrow process (so fun :/), I am also trying to make time for a magical summer with my sweet girl. This week I surprised her by starting her summer with two days and one night at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove. Jeez Louise, that place is exorbitantly expensive, but we did have a blast. We went on waterslides until closing time at 9 pm, and we magic-quested all over the hotel. She was ecstatic, so it was worth it. After that, the rest of our week has been utterly free, and also super fun. We went for a hike up around Franklin Canyon with our rescue mutt, Princess Cheese. Princess Cheese

Had to snap some pics of my woodland sprite.
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Scarlet has taken a few photography classes down the street at Samy’s Camera, so she wanted to document our hike. I’m actually really impressed with her skills! Love this shot of the lake. It’s hard to beieve this little hidden gem of a park is smack dab in the middle of Beverly Hills. Franklin Canyon Lake She wants to do a post of her photography, I told her I would let her post her favorites here later this summer.

Yesterday we had her BFF Xylee over for a playdate. We headed to Jo-Anns to grab some crafty projects to do. They made these bird houses. This one says “Birds! Come! Eat!” Birds! Come! Eat!

And this one says “Birds Please Have a Good day at Restaurant For all birds!!!!Birds please have a good day

I also spent some time re-potting some of my succulents. I grew these from the some of the same tiny clippings I used to make the internet’s first Succulent Wreath DIY back in 2010. See how tiny they were? Now they are so big and beautiful. They are going to look lovely around my new pool! Potting Succulents

I’ve also been obsessively making and eating my grilled corn salad. Seriously, try this recipe. I can’t get enough of this stuff. I’ve been eating it outside on my somewhat-new equipales table and chairs. I’d been craving a set like this for years, and a few months ago I finally bought it. Backyard Equipales

Well I made the mistake of not properly treating it before setting it outside and it has a few rings and stains on it (spilled grilled corn salad). So I spent some time researching the best way to treat it, and then an hour or so doing the table top. The trick is to use Neatsfoot Oil and an old t-shirt scrap. Don’t drip it right on the table though, I did that and it soaks in so fast that it made darker marks. Apply it to the t-shirt scrap first and quickly rub it into the table. A few layers and it will be good. It won’t be uniform but that’s part of the appeal of equipales (which by the way are made of pig skin, not cow leather). I’m glad I spent the time to do this, and wish I had done it before I ate on the table. I haven’t done the chairs yet, but I will because the oil darkened the leather on the table top (attractively) so I want the chairs to match. Treating Equipales

So that’s generally what I’ve been up to this first week of summer break. Looking forward to taking Scarlet to the Curtis family reunion and the Elmswood Dairy farm in Pennsylvania next week, where we will be staying with her Great Granny (the queen of our family) and playing with all the extended family Curtis cousins! I hope you and your families are well and enjoying the season.

P.S. As I’ve been writing this, Scarlet has been making electrical circuits that make her playdoh light up and make noises. My friend Erin gave this to her for her birthday and it is awesome for any STEM minded kids out there: DIY Electro Dough Kit.

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Best Bardot Styles for Summer

Best Bardot Styles for Summer 16 I know the off-the-shoulder cut doesn’t immediately register as a look most of us want to rock, but it’s actually more flattering then you think, especially when the silhouette is loose and blousy. Here are some of my favorite takes on the bardot style for the summer of ’16 (and I’m working on a DIY too)…

Love the longer ruffle on this one: Tennessee Dress from The Reformation.

Eyelet balcony off-the-shoulder top in mystic yellow from Madewell

This bright red is ballsy and I love it: Piper Bogo Embroidered Off Shoulder Romper from ASOS.

I don’t love the drawstring waist on this (not great with my large chest), but it would look adorable on many: Embroidered indigo mercado dress also from Madewell.

Love this low-cost version: Off-Shoulder Tie-Belt Dress for Women from Old Navy.

Love the color on this one: Embroidered Bardot Dress from Topshop.

I love florals on black, so I love this Retro Bardot Frill Off-The-Shoulder Top from Topshop.

I love some stretch. Just cause we are curvy doesn’t mean we can’t go off-shoulder. Get out your best strapless bra and rock this one: ASOS Curve Bardot Romper from ASOS.

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Summer is Upon Us

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This is where I would typically share about being nervous regarding school ending and the terror of keeping my kids busy for the next three months but for some reason, this year, I’m all about Summer. Aside from those induced by Quinn’s plan to be home schooled,  by me, every day, the entire Summer, I have had no episodes of extreme anxiety. I mean really, I would be the worst homeschooler ever. She will soon see.

I do however, excel at lazy days by the pool and the occasional craft project. Here are some of my favorites from Pretty Prudent that are sure to delight the young and old. It’s going to be a great Summer. Don’t worry. I promise.

“How to Build a Campfire” Cookies

How to Make a God’s Eye

(more…)

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The Best New Outdoor Toys for Summer

The Best New Outdoor Toys of Summer 2016Here all the toys Scarlet has or wants for this summer. Well, one of them is for me. That first one. I want a giant inflatable pool swan, which I can get on Amazon. But, for this I really need a pool. I mean, I guess I could sit on it in the yard?

Wet Head Game This game is the follow up to last summer’s crazy Pie Face Game. We have had so much fun playing this one… the squeals from Scarlet every time someone pulls a pin are hilarious! And when someone finally gets all wet it’s hilarious. Find it on Amazon.

Little Monkey Playground Jungle Gym I love this for smaller kids, because you can climb all over it, or with a few towels it makes the perfect fort hideaway. And its only $125 on Amazon right now.

Poof Pop Fly They can play catch with themselves, ha. They stomp the paddle and a beanbag or ball is launched into the air. On Amazon.

Nerf Rebelle Scarlet found one of these for 99 cents at the 99 cent store. It shoots foam darts at stuff, in her case she stacks up paper cups or makes herself targets. She LOVES it. Here is a similar one on Amazon, but seriously go to your local dollar store and see if you can find the 99 cent version.

Triple Water Slide. This one is from H2OGO. We have it and its held up pretty well and is as fun as you can get without having a pool. Find it on Amazon.

I hope y’all have some great fun in your backyard this summer. Any toys you would suggest for my little monkey?

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Happy Birthday Jacinda! Here is your cake.

In honor of Jacinda’s birthday, I made her a cake. No I didn’t… but I made her a post of cakes that she made. She is really good at making cakes.

First here is a perfectly iced cake with our How to Ice a Cake Tutorial. This tutorial was one of our early big hits on the site, it’s really well done and easy to follow. I reference it every time I actually make a cake, which is rare but does happen occasionally. How to Ice a Cake

Here is a tutorial on how to ice any cake with a star tip. This is a great way to get a pro looking cake even if you don’t have mad cake skills. How to Use a Star Tip

This is the cake I know she would want to eat the most: The Smörgåstårta or Swedish Sandwich Cake. Smorgastarta

Here is an ombre petal cake for you Jacinda. Ombre Petal Cake Tutorial

I hope your day is full of New England lobsters and love! Happy Birthday!

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I Freaking Love Tangerines: Pop Edition

Tangerine Pops There is not much of a recipe here, but I am just in love with tangerines right now. Their season is coming to a sweet, sweet end in my backyard. For some reason they are extra sweet this year. I’ve heard it’s because of the drought, does anyone have an idea why that would be? Maybe it’s just because they’ve been hanging up there for so long. Either way, I’ll take it.

These pops would probably be prettier if I tossed some tangerine slices in the molds (like on my Sweet Tea Pops). They would probably be even more delicious with a bit of creaminess and some vanilla, like my Peaches & Cream Pops. But when it comes to backyard tangerines, I guess I am a purist. I like my tangerines straight up, or straight juiced.

Recipe: Juice approximately 2,846 tangerines. This will take approx. 2 hours. Strain the juice several hundred times. Pour it into pop molds. If your juice isn’t sweet enough for you, mix some simple syrup in before pouring into molds. This is our favorite pop mold: Norpro Ice Pop Maker. Soak your popsicle sticks in warm water. After an hour in the freezer, insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for four to six hours, but preferably overnight.

Try some of our other pop-ular pop recipes (har) if you’re looking for something more fancy for a party or BBQ.
Jaime’s Famous Strawberry Basil Balsamic Pop Recipe
Mango Sriracha Popsicles
Cucumber Mint Pops
Blueberry and Honey Wellness Pops
Magical Matcha Green Tea Pops

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