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Monday, April 21, 2014

Living Room Update

So . . . I am finally posting our living room renovation.  The living room remodel was part of the kitchen/stairs work that we did a year ago.  Although there was  no structural change to the living room, we revamped everything: darker floor stain, paint, curtains, added built in shelf, and furniture.  Our couch took forever to get here, but we finally got it!  We could truly be an ad for West Elm!

Just to remind you, here is the living room BEFORE:




And now, the AFTER photos:







This is usually where Calvin can be found every day.

We would like to start our basement renovations this summer.  Once again, Lisa has created a masterful plan.  Hopefully, I will post some "during" photos of construction soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Simmons' Going Away Party

When Sebastien and I moved back to Tennessee, we met Wes & Nancy within the first couple of weeks.  Wes went to Carson-Newman and graduated the same year as me and Sebastien.  Wes & Nancy moved to Jefferson City to lead RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) at Carson-Newman.  It has been such a blessing to have the Simmons live nearby.  They are headed to Auburn University with RUF next month.  Sebastien and I are saying a lot of "goodbyes" these days, but we are so thankful to have Wes and Nancy as friends.  

Since we have known about this "goodbye" for a few months, we decided to throw a party.  It was a blast!  The weather was perfect, food and drinks were superb, and the friends (new and old) were fun!

 Demoinys & Simmons



Saturday, April 05, 2014

Barcelona

Barcelona has it all - friendly people, spectacular architecture, history, good food, and a great soccer team!  Oh, and it's on the Mediterranean Sea!  Our first experience in Spain (Basque country) came with a couple of letdowns in regards to food and people.  Our mind was changed in Barcelona.  It does NOT disappoint!

 We got to go to an FC Barcelona soccer game.  It was the game where Leo Messi broke the all-time scoring record for FC Barcelona.  It was a fun experience (Sebastien was loving it!).

 Barcelona was full of grand avenues - reminded us of Paris.

 Our hotel - Hotel Casa Fuster


 This is a glimpse of La Sagrada Familia Basilica.  It looks like a fairy tale.  The famous architect, Antoni Gaudi began working on this basilica in 1882.  He worked on the basilica, actually living in the space, until his death in 1926.  They are still building the basilica!  As you look at the photographs below, you will understand.  It is breath-taking!




 The play with perfect lighting - not too little, not too much - was awesome 
(I am using the word correctly here!)


 This side of La Sagrada Familia reminds me of the drip sandcastles that me and my sister used to make.

 Did I mention Barcelona is on the sea??


 Along one section of the beach, there is a row of restaurants and night clubs.  
It is a perfect spot for sangria!


 This is another piece of work by Gaudi.  A wealthy textile family hired Gaudi to design their home.


 Again, you can see how Gaudi was inspired by patterns in nature and light.  This is a 4 or 5 story opening to a massive skylight.

 Rooftop


 Now, to the food!  Of course, Spain is known for its tapas.  We ate tapas 3 out or 4 nights.  It was easy to indulge, especially the cured hams!


 On our last day, we headed a little outside of the city to do a cava tasting.  Cava is another name for champagne or sparkling wine.  Sparkling wine can only be called "champange" if it is made in the Champagne region of France.  Cava is from Spain.  We toured the Freixenet vineyard.  You can find Freixenet, often in a black bottle, in most wine stores in the U.S.  The business is still family-owned.


 Crazy fact - The caves, storing areas, in Freixenet hold on average 
over 100 million bottles of cava at a time!




Barcelona - We highly recommend!


Monday, January 06, 2014

New Year's in Belgium

Sebastien and I left the weekend after Christmas to spend New Year's in Belgium.  We spent  the week with family - eating and eating and eating some more!  It was a fun, chill week.

Our friends, Amelia and Per-Ole, from our church were in Europe visiting family too.  We met up with the Linds the day we arrived in Brugge.  As always, Brugge was picturesque.  We lucked out with sunshine all day, which is not the norm for Belgium in winter.  Sebastien and I are thankful for the Linds and enjoyed spending a special day together.




 P.O. took some amazing pictures, and I am thankful he shared this one.   We were waiting on a bridge that leads to the monastery.

On New Year's Eve, we went to Pascal's house for a Demoiny reveillon.  It was a great time with absolutely divine food, drinks, family pictures, and karaoke!  We got home around 3:30 am.

 Cousins - Pascal, Sebastien, Sophie, Raphael, & Valerie

 Brothers - Jacques & Paul




On New Year's Day, we headed to Hastiere to visit Sebastien's grandparents.  In Belgium on New Year's Day, it is customary to have a family meal - often a raclette and to bring flowers to one another.


 Crazy Cousins - It is rare to see Lorien looking crazy and Bastien appearing calm:)

On Saturday, Sophie took us to Antwerp.  It was the first time that I have visited this city, and it was beautiful!  Antwerp is well-known for its port, especially for diamonds.  It lies in Flanders, the Flemish (Dutch) speaking part of Belgium.  Interesting fact - Most Belgian cities have a Flemish and a French name.  Sebastien's family calls Antwerp, "Anvers" (Antwerppen in Flemish).



I love this picture (thank you, PO)!  I feel like it typifies me and Sebastien as a couple together - city, travel, walking to explore.