Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dutch masters coming home

Flora by Rembrandt
The Russian tsars loved the Dutch artists of the 17the century. They bought paintings by Rembrandt, Van Hals, Potter and many more. These works form an imporant part of the permanent exhibition in the Hermitage in Sint Petersburg

Since October 7th some of these paintings have come home to the Netherlands, for a special exhibition in The Hermitage museum in Amsterdam.

Over sixty paintings can now be seen in Amsterdam, seven of them by Rembrandt. This one, Flora, is one of them.
Many of these Dutch paintings have come home after more than 300 years in Russia, and they will stay in Amsterdam for eight months.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cookbooks by Tessa Kiros

I love to read cookbooks. Of course, I use them for recepies as well, but I like a book that is more than just a list of ingredients and cookingtimes etc. I like a story, atmosphere and loads of photographs. Both of the food and other photographs thay convey the mood of thcookbook.

I have quite a few amazing cookbooks, but I feel I am very fortunate to own three cookbooks by Tessa Kiros. 

What sets these cookbooks apart from most others, is how absolutely beautiful they look. Two of these are gorgeous hardovers with absolutely amazing photographs.

On my shelves I already had Venezia, Limoncello and Linen water but recently I bought a third one, Provence to Pondicherry.

Venezia: Food and Dreams (2008)
This books is all about the magical city of Venice. I have visited Venice twice and I love the atmosphere. This book oozes that atmosphere. It has beautiful photographs of Venice so you feel like you are actually back there, but also of the ingredients and the dishes.

Venice is a city of water, so there are a lot of recipies with fish, but also recepies for risotto, pasta and desserts. Some typical Venecian dishes are in this book, like the spaghetti al nero di sepia, the black spaghetti with squid-ink.

Limoncello and linen water (2012)
This amazing book is more general Italian. I already wrote about it earlier (HERE), and I still love it very much. It is a book I often pick up to read, especially if I am feeling blue! It really lifts your spirits.

Provence to Pondicherry (2016)
This book is not about the Italian kitchen, but the French kitchen. And what I really like is how it goes from the South of France and Normandy to other parts of the world that once used to be a part of the French colonial empire. The kitchens in Vietnam, Guadeloupe, Réunion and Pondicherry all took something from the French kitchen, but also added their flavours into the richness that is the French world-kitchen.

Again, a beautiful book with amazing photographs, and mouthwatering recepies.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Knocking on the door

Some doors I saw during my city-trips in the past years.
Bologna, May 2017

Groningen, 2017
Rome, summer 2015

Venice, Summer 2016

Berlin, 2015 (not a doorknocker, I know, but still beautiful)
Paris, August 2017

Friday, 29 September 2017

Wrapping up September

September is almost over and I thought it would be nice to look back at this month, and to look forward to October.

Back to school
School began again in September and within a couple of days it felt like there never was a Summer vacation. Although the first weeks are always especially hectic, things are getting back to their normal routine and things are okay. I like most of my groups and my students, and that is the most important thing.

I want to get healthier and in a better shape, and a few weeks ago, I joined a gym! And I am very proud of myself for going there twice a week, as scheduled. I did not skip once, not even the morning when I had a terrible headache. I go on Saturdaymorning and Wednesdaymorning, and although I often do not feel like going, I do feel good once I am doing my round in the cardioroom and later at the fitness equipment, and I feel super after I am done!

I loved
The flowers I got. A couple of weeks ago I told you about the flower-workshop I did and that you could subscribe to getting a beautiful bunch of flowers deliverd to your house each week or every two weeks, just as you prefer. Well, in September I got my first flowers, and I loved the combination. I got the small bouquet, but this was more than big enough for my dining table. Lovely colours and some very special and unique flowers.
I have changed the water twice and took away a few flowers that were not fresh anymore, but this bunch lasted 2 1/2 weeks!

Books and films
I tried not to buy any books this month, but of course I failed. I bought a very beautiful Dutch novel that is set in 19th century Russia and that I loved very much.

I also bought a cookbook by Tessa Kiros, about the French kitchen.
I really like her cookbooks and I could not leave this in the shop. So I bought it. I will tell you more about it soon.

I did not see any films in the theatre, but I did watch the series The Kennedys on DVD. More about that later as well!

Looking forward to in October
There will be some very nice things for me in October. There are at least three exhibitions I want to go to. The first one is in the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam and this will be a special one, since I became a friend of the museum and I will have the chance to see the exhibition before regular visitors do. Not just me alone of course, but all the people who are friends of the museum are invited. The exhibition has paintings from Dutch 17th century masters, that were collected by the Russian tsars. Some of these paintings come back to The Netherlands for the first time in 300 years!

The Van Gogh museum also has a great exhbition lined up about Dutch painters in Paris, and the Singer museum (also a favorite of mine) had an exhibition about modernist paintings. I think all of these exhibitions will be very beautiful.

And I am very much looking forward to my little trip to Nice in France in the vacation. I have never been to the south of France, and I hope for good weather and a lovely city to explore

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Beautiful Groningen

A couple of weeks ago I visited a friend in the city of Groningen. This is also the city I was born, but my parents left there when I was three years old.

Groningen is an old city, with plenty of history left. I asked to see a few of the many 'hofjes' Groningen has. In the Middle Ages and in the ages after that, there was no social welfare state, and if you were poor, sick or a widow, it could be very difficult to survive.

Wealthy people in the cities built hofjes, with houses for a specific group of people (the poor, widows etc).
Often the rules of living in a hofje could be very strict, with restricted visiting hours, no alcohol and regular church going, but it was usually a whole lot better than living on the streets.

Nowadays most of the hofjes still excist, but everyone can rent a house here if they want to, and there are also no rules about visitors or going to church. Some of the hofjes are open to the public and it is absolutely lovely to see these quiet little places in the middle of a busy city. If you visit a hofje, you are asked to respect the privacy and the quiet of the people who live there.

But we also visited a beautiful city-park, and a garden that was designed in the 18th century.

And of course we saw the most famous church in Groningen, The Martini tower, or 'the old grey one', as it is often called.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Last try with my Bonsais

I love Bonsai trees and over the years I have tried many times to keep a little Bonsai tree alive. The problem is that they are often sold at the gardening centre in really small pots, so it is very hard to give them water. Usually the trees are dead within just a few months.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend's house, who had the most beautiful Bonsai trees, all in excellent condition. Her secret was that she planted them in new, bigger pots after she bought them. This solution is so simple, I cannot think I did not think of it before, but I decided to give it a try immediately.

I bought two new Bonsai trees, one without a pot, and one very small one in a very small pott. I also bought two new pots and special soil for Bonsai trees.

They now look lovely in their new pots, but it is the last time I will try working with Bonsais, if this does not work, I will never buy another Bonsai again!
Setting it up in the living room

A new pot filled with new and good soil.
 The little Bonsai is almost ready to go in. 

Two beautiful Bonsai trees, and I hope they will live!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

See what I have done, Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty wax
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one

Some crimes, however long ago they were committed, still spark people’s curiosity. Lizzie Borden is one of them. I recently saw a very entertaining pulp series on Netflix called The Lizzie Borden chronicles with Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden who kills familymembers and neighbours without batting an eyelash. 

And a couple of weeks ago I also picked up this new novel. It tells the horrible story of the murder on Andrew and Abby Borden. Abby was Andrews second wife and he had two daughters with his first wife, Emma and Lizzie.

On August 4th in 1892 both Andrew and Abby were murdered brutally with an axe.

Lizzie was arrested, but since the jury did not think a young woman was capable of a crime like this, 
she was acquitted.

There were several theories of who was quilty. Was Lizzie the murderer, or perhaps the maid Bridget, or was it a stranger after all, or did Emma have something to do with it?

In See what I have done Sarah Schmidt plays with the different theories and makes them into one story.

She tells of the almost claustrophobic atmosphere within the house, of two sisters who could not live with each other but also not not without each other. And both of them had their problems with their parents. Andrew refused to spend money on his family and Abby was deeply unhappy.

Sarah Schmidt managed to write a very interesting story, where the language took me a few pages to get into, but after that I found the way she uses words makes the story even stronger. It is a very physical book in that respect. 

It is not easy to write something original when so much has already been written about a case like this, but this is certainly an original and well written book that I really enjoyed.

Published in 2017
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