Category Archives: LIFE

Summer Feesten


Welp, last weekend was the big weekend. MontgomeryFest in Illinois kicked off and we saw searches and hashtags flying all about the web. Those party animals were livin’ it up – fun jumps, carnival prizes, fireworks. Heck yeah.

Over here in Belgium, we had a little festin’ going on as well. Complete with hot air balloons at Lokerse Feesten and front porch sittin’ at the palace…well, front street at least. I think we might be turning spoiled. Goin to festivals in front of the Royal Palace and not thinking two thinks about it. Except when someone asks about moving back to the states and my first thought is no more parties at the palace or every day walks near 8th Wonders of the World type places…how do people live like that. Obviously, I kid…but no, I’m not ready.

Last Thursday evening, we drove up to Lokeren, Belgium to see Donovan Frankenreiter, Seasick Steve and Damien Rice play. I wanted Donovan to feel welcome on our continent, and in the slimmest chance that his buddy tagged along, so I sported a Mr. Ben C. Harper tee and a skirt that I got at Bonnaroo three years ago, that when J commented that he liked it, I told him where/when I got it and that I never wear it and his response was – ‘and THAT’s what made it into The Necessary Pile coming to Belgium?!’ chyeah. Welcome to my fashion blog.

shoes via Walmart….supply shopping for that same Roo
ring via my mom‘s mom..or maybe her mom’s mom – we can’t remember
purse via Florence

More kidding.

feestenphoto 1feestenand Damien was killin’ it in his yellow suit and ‘fro’d out hair. But, Damien always brings the (1)

Then, on Sunday, we took a walk down to the palace and attended it’s yearly open house. Welcomed by kid paintings that rival my own, we quickly discovered our chandelier collection is slightly below par.

afterlight (16)feestenfeestenfeestenafterlight (17)

That magnificent green up there is made from the shells of over a million beetles. Thai jewel beetles’ emerald green shells reflect light in this crazy cool, iridescent way. They call the ceiling Heaven of Delight and it’s certainly a sight.

We are such city kids. Every time we find ourselves strolling around in downtown, we’re reminded how we can never do it enough. The energy and the art that’s ever moving is addicting..

afterlight (15)feesten

In true Annie fashion, I rambled a bit. So, let’s try to recap the day so far:

palace tour – check.
video on the new Belgian king being sworn in and subsequent half-meltdown that we missed the best day to be in Belgium all for a non-baptism out of town – check.
subsequent gleeful moment when J told me his grandmother sent the Belgian king (3 kings ago) flowers and got Thank You letters back and I started plotting all of the events that Philippe and Mathilde need flowers from us for! – check.
strut through downtown – check.
a lay in the royal park – check.

That only leaves music left on the list. That’s your cue, Dandy Warhols……

feestenfeestenand then I put on J’s glasses and things got outta hand, especially mine..afterlight (21)feesten

And, do you remember this song? Apparently, that 1980s hit band is still touring. And rockin’ it.

Hope you had a rockin’ weekend. If so, we want details….




Rock Werchter, BelgiumAdriatic Sea glass
Verona, ItalyDuomo | Milan, Italy
Kamenjak, Premanthura | Pula, CroatiaCandelabra Collection
Nuremberg, GermanyRock Werchter, Belgium
Fourth of July | Montgomery FestRock Werchter, Belgium

rockin’ the Werchter // Adriatic Sea glass // intoxicating hues // duomo is a cathedral. hashtag Italian lessons // turquoise // candelabra collection  // say ‘cheese’, Nuremberg // dancin’ hipster feet //4 July, 2013 // peace out!



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Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

Hey all! As MongomeryFest is off driving wild, wonderful Europe they asked me to contribute something to their blog. Their exciting trip reminded me of one of my favorite driving moments – not exactly a relaxing holiday drive (and, uh, I wasn’t exactly driving), but a good one nonetheless.

Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

The first thing you should know is that I’m an ESL teacher in Moscow, Russia. The second thing you should know is that Moscow’s traffic is among the most soul-crushing in the world. Unluckily for me, my school was actually outside of the city, requiring a 15-kilometer, hour and a half bus ride at least twice a week.

So there I was, trapped on the very last row of the bus. It was stuffy and uncomfortable, but I just kept chanting “it’s almost over, it’s almost over” in my head. I only had two more weeks of going through this purgatory and then I’d never have to ride that damned bus again!

Unable to relax comfortably while wedged between two hefty grandmothers, I decided to scope out the bus. I almost immediately made awkward eye-contact with a cute Russian guy about my age. Easily embarrassed, I looked away (and thanks to my red hair, likely blushed bright red). I snuck a look back and he was still looking, turned almost all the way around in his seat. I assumed he was someone I had met and forgotten about since that happens quite often.

After a moment he turned away smiling and I intrepidly tried to ignore the weirdo for the duration of the hour long trip.

Upon reaching my bus stop, I hopped off, assuming I’d never see anyone on that bus again. While crossing the street I heard a “devochka!” (girl), turned around, and sure enough it was bus boy. I let him catch up – he was tall, good-looking, and we were surrounded by people. I felt pretty safe I wouldn’t get ax-murdered.

I spoke mediocre Russian for a bit before he figured out I was American. He spoke tentative English. It turns out that he lived a quick two-minute walk from the school I worked at! We agreed to trade phone numbers and the rest is history!

Guest Post | A Girl and Her Travels

Oh, except for a quick kiss outside the school’s windows which caused another teacher to abandon her class of children to grill me on what was going on.

Oh, and the fact that I just took that very same bus this morning from his house to get a decent wifi connection. They say love makes you do crazy things, but they never said it would torture you with Russian traffic jams!

Adorbs, right?! We always love hearing how the couples we know met, especially around the world. Always different, quirky, interesting, and gives a little sneak-peak into what is to come. Check out what Polly and the Russky are up to at A Girl and Her Travels, and thanks Polly for adding your story while we’re out on our adventure (updates to come!).


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We found the secret

The other weekend we had brunch (yes! the real kind! finally!) at Alex’s swanky Secret Garden. It may not seem like much, but we had all but given up on finding a proper brunch in this little country that we’d moved to. Yes, we’ve found locals (numerous) who’ve sworn that they had the absolute best brunch spot for us, but here, brunch typically just means a late breakfast.. you’ll have a piece of bacon if you’re lucky (proper bacon, i.e., not just a piece of ham that you have with breakfast). So, that’s what makes Alex our favorite chef ever. Allison did a fancy feature of it here. And here’s our completely un-fancy rendition of the fête..

La Britannique | Brussels, BelgiumLa Britannique | Brussels, BelgiumLa Britannique | Brussels, Belgium


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man, we miss the headband // party over the canal // ‘ello Mr. Fox // poolside at Knokke-Heist // A craves velvet // peep-hole // Brussels got deep // best time of the year

More random adventures on instagram at: montgomeryfest


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Recipe | Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad via MontgomeryFest

It’s one of the more common questions about living here that we just didn’t see coming: “What do you guys eat?” Not like we needed to scratch our heads or anything to find an answer (even after mentioning waffles and fries), just one that was unexpected for us. Which, really, shouldn’t have been. Grocery shopping was one of the things that while basically the same, feels completely different as compared to back in the US. Yeah, it’s all still sorted into aisles and we pay at the check-out counter, but little things like different brands, different names and different packaging had thrown us for a loop when we first arrived. Our first few trips would take at least 1 to 2 hours and would maybe yield two meals for us. And it wasn’t just grocery shopping, the entire dining experience is different here, where the idea of a fast casual meal is almost scoffed at, making it difficult to simply swing by a place and grab something quick for dinner.

But we’ve managed to stay (get back up?) on our feet, and have both gotten a lot more comfortable experimenting in the kitchen, eagerly awaiting the seasonal change in the produce aisle to find out what we have to work with. With summer arriving and the brief heat-wave in Brussels last week (really, felt like the tropics) we needed something that was a bit on the lighter side and didn’t involve the oven heating up our A/C-lacking apartment anymore that it already was.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad via MontgomeryFest

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 9 ounces grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook one cup quinoa in approximately two cups water for 15 minutes or until there is no liquid remaining in the pan. Set aside and let cool. Add garlic with olive oil and red wine vinegar and mix well. Add in grape tomatoes, parsley and feta cheese, then salt and pepper to taste.

We originally got the idea for this guy from Ms. Stewart but made a few edits to make it our own – mostly switching out the bulgur for quinoa (we like the texture that the quinoa adds, but we’ve used couscous in the recipe with decent results too), and subbed a lot of garlic for the little bit of shallot (ok, and really, we just use a garlic press instead of mincing, but it just doesn’t sound as nice. And while we’re being honest, it’s really more like 5 cloves in our house but we realize that’s probably a little much).


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Bicycles at the Bois

Humans on Wheels Parade in Place Flagey, Brussels, Belgium

On the way back from a Friday evening toddy at our favorite Irish pub patio, we noticed the streets of Flagey were being blocked off by police…in Flagey…that never happens. Some sort of humans on wheels parade was a’happening. Hundreds of ’em. Hundreds!. First, the rollerbladers. Then, the skateboarders. Then, the bicyclers. Then, the standby ambulances. We had so many questions. Although, with our daily experiences in Brussels, that’s usually the case.

As well as normally. Which I learned last week is synonymous with usually in this country. J says he hears it a lot at work, but I heard it for the first time on our visit to Knokke. Justin: ‘What time is check out?’ Front desk: ‘It’s normally 11am.’ Buuuuut….., nothing. It’s just that it’s normally 11am period

Oh, okay.

Mind you, this was the same lady who told me ‘this is the nicest part of Belgium’, after I asked her to recommend a reasonable resto for lunch while I was in a (modest) swimsuit coverup with 8 percent wet hair. I’m serious.

Normally I don’t judge the pretentious (but this time I made an exception).

And, we’re back –

Perhaps those humans on wheels are what sparked the bicycle idea the following day. We may never know. We drove to the edge of the Bois de la Cambre, because we’d most likely not want to walk the short walk back after getting on a bike after…I don’t know how many years. 

afterglow-28-e1375043351447 photo-jun-15-4-55-34-pm-1-e1375043152337Bicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium

That is one part worry that I’ll run that huge monster of a vehicle into a tiny human on light pink rollerblades | One part trying to keep my headband perched atop my head | And one part chatterbox that J should know by now doesn’t stop just because he has the camera out.

Bicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, BelgiumBicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, BelgiumBicycling in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium

If only I had skateboarding skillz.
If only.
Then they could maybe make up for my lack of cupcakes from scratch baking skillz that did not improve any today, but the sugar high from the batter was worth it because, let’s be honest, the batter is the best part. Sorry Winne…next time I’ll add more sugar (hehehe) (and, yep, like Winnie Cooper….don’t you just want to meet her parents?! #jealous. But one time at a bar in Dallas, someone called me Winnie Cooper and I will forever hold it in my heart.)

May the force be with you.
(and with me because Anthro is having their annual sale and I’m not evening going to check out the site except to grab the link for you even though I already know the link and it makes me go to the .eu site anyway when all I want is the .com site because I feel more comfortable there and just LET ME GO TO THE .COM, but, really, I’m NOT going to even tempt myself, but if there were a surprise box in the post with the two words Anthropologie and Montgomery on it, I’d be one happy, happy girl. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller….) (Seriously, bye already.)


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Story Time

So, this one time. Last Friday. We were patioing pretty hard at the trendy Place Lux (it’s at the foot of the Parliament, so it makes for great over-dressed-HH-watching). At the time, it seemed like a really superb idea to crash a family get together at our friends who live nearby – blame it on the Leffe’s. (yeah, yeah.) And when we were at the doorstep telling our peeps goodnight and sorry for the 14th time, J tunes in to the concert playing next door. My non-pop music listening better half yells out ‘it’s We Are Barcelona!’ and before I could hear the next beat (and remember that I had heard of them before), ‘and they’re playing We Are Barcelona!!’…grabs my hand and we run off just in time to catch the end of the set. I’m pretty sure we said goodbye. Random nights are the best.

Photo May 31, 11 17 11 PMPhoto May 31, 11 17 42 PM

And then, on Saturday, we set out to visit Durbuy, the smallest town on earth. Just south of Brussels, there’s this forest that’s known for its bluebells in May, so we pit-stopped there. The fun part was the Dutch signs – when you see red and white signs with 24 character words, it’s easy to assume that they’re trying to warn you about something. With barely any cell reception under the trees, we tried to translate and decided that it probably says we can’t go in. Maybe 10 minutes worth of translating and debating later, we (J, the driver) pulled the car to the side to park it. At exactly the time of ‘park’, some car whips by us and drives into the forest. It’s not that funny right now, but we cracked up at that for another .10 minutes. Dutch is hard, yo. We drove around a bit. The trees were pretty. Lots of runners. And one bluebell. Apparently, May means May, because it was June 1st and we missed the season. (If you’re really curious because I spent a whole paragraph hyping it up, have no fear – A Bee and Toe actually made it on time.)

Also, that anti-climatic pit-stop made the trip to Durbuy extra long, so we stopped again along the way in Namur. And, can I tell you, we were pleasantly surprised at how bustling that cute, little-big city was! We’ve had a knack for finding the squares with violin/accordion stars lately and I’m lovin’ it. We’ll be back Namur, save us a dinner cruise.

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Okay. You know how it’s strawberry season? Well, there’s the precious little town just south of Namur called Wépion and it’s the Belgian capital of the strawberry. Uhhm, so it’s obviously the next stop in this thrilling novel. The road between the two cities boarders the Meuse River and right when we crossed into the town, little strawberry stands and park benches started popping up! Those suckers made the car smell delicious, so we had to hurry home for dinner and dessert – the.sweetest.strawberries.of.our.lives.

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We never actually made it to the smallest town on earth.

Sunday was made for lounging. There isn’t much of a story here, but the day unfolded like this: ‘let’s go to the park.’ picnic blanket – check. ‘I miss Symphony in the Park.’ ‘I miss that park.’ (we lived by my favorite park in Dallas) ‘I miss wine in the park.’ Wine glasses – check. Night shop on the way (Brussels is closed on Sundays…this is their exception) – check. ‘This is a good day.’ And then our friends from Friday night passed by and we didn’t redeem ourselves any. But, really. this is the life.

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We hope you had a fantastic weekend, too – Care to share? Was there a fair? Did you do your hair? Dr. Seuss wants to know..


Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium, LIFE


PeoniesMorning instagram scene via MontgomeryFest
Amsterdam via MontgomeryFestAmsterdam via MontgomeryFestAmsterdam via MontgomeryFestStrolling through Paris via MontgomeryFestBrussels patio via MontgomeryFestThe L train via MontgomeryFestRoyal Greenhouses of Laeken via MontgomeryFestBridal bliss via MontgomeryFest

Fancy Sablon has fancy flowers // morning scene // Amsterdam alone // Amsterdam + 2 // t a l e n t // mother-daughter strolling in Paris // patioing professional // I don’t want to go back to driving  // ‘Let’s name this tree ‘Annie” – Mama Jo // twinsies

More random adventures on instagram at: montgomeryfest


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MontgomeryFest in Florence MontgomeryFest in Florence Postcards via MontgomeryFest Pink bicycle via MontgomeryFest MontgomeryFest One Year Anniversary Abbaye de la Cambre door via MontgomeryFest

Besties // Touring Florence // Italian postcards… From Belgium // Annie randomly came home really wanting a bike after her walk one day // One year // Strolling Abbaye de la Cambre

More you ask? MontgomeryFest on Instagram


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