Sunday, 30 December 2012

Oscar Wilde

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.
Oscar Wilde (author and poet, 1854-1900)

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

God rest ye merry gentlemen

For all of you, happy Holidays and enjoy Christmas. Also enjoy this wonderful and original version of the old Classic 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' by Annie Lennox. She has such a wonderful voice and if anybody can sing a beautiful song it is Annie Lennox.

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

G.K. Chesterton

When we were children we were gratful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

G.K. Chesterton. (English author 1874-1936)
(Yes I know, the picture is not really in line with the quote by Chesterton. I think there is nothing wrong with enjoying the season, as long as you do not loose track of what is really important. And don't forget to be grateful for the rest of the year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The lake

I live here in the middle of The Netherlands on so called 'new land'.  My province 'Flevoland' used to be sea, but after the Second World War they wanted to create more living space. Out of the water new land was made, and the city I live in began in 1975. So this city and I have the same age.
Water still plays an imortant part, as it does in all of The Netherlands. Close to my house there is a large lake and I love to go for walks on the dyke next to it. It is gorgeous in the summer, but also when it is a grey day like last week, it is still very beautiful.
It was cold, and you can see how much wind there was when you look at the water. Also notice the amazing sky, especially in the third picture. There is nothing as beautiful as a Dutch sky.




Sunday, 16 December 2012

Edith Sitwell

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”


Edith Sitwell (1887-1964, English writer and poet)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Colour coordination

In expensive design magazines, or on the internet you can find pictures of people who have their bookcases organised by color. I am always a bit baffled by this, I do not think I would be able to find a single book if I did this, bit somethimes it looks quite nice.
I think this is a well known photograph, and I found it HERE
There is even a company Books by the foot where you can order the colours and the metres you need, and they will send you the books. Books are no longer trusted friends you know and love, but only part of the design.
One evening I did decide to try out what a few colour coordinated book shelves would look like, and here is the result. It looks nice, but like I said, I would never do all my bookcases like this, I would never be able to find another book again.
I do not like yellow, and I am glad these are all the yellow books I own.

All the different shades of blue make a beautiful combination, I think.

A very fun looking shelf

Very striking, all these reds together

Gold and silver (and some greyish)

The green shelf is very nice and tranquil

Quite stylish, all this white combined.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

King winter arrived, and left the next day

Here in The Netherlands it has been very cold in the past few days, snow and temperatures below zero (centigrade) made sure our country was changed into a winterwonderland.
Snow on my balcony

The view from the living room
Another view from the living room
I had planned to go out for a walk on Sunday to make beautiful photographs so you could see the snow. But, unfortunately, on Sunday it was raining and all the snow disappeared. Shame.

Just a few leftovers of the snow can be seen, the rest has vanished.
And the day after all that rain, this was the only bit of snow left. Literally, the only bit. There was no snow to be seen anywhere, but for this little heap. Very strange.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Anonymous

Never give up on the things you believe in.
Photograph made by me, Rome 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dutch December traditions


Today it is the fifth of December, a date every child here in the Netherlands knows by heart. It is the feast of Saint Nicolas, or as we call it here: Sinterklaas.

In the fourth century saint Nicolas was bisshop of Myra, now in Turkey. During his life he made a lot of miracles happen. He saved a child from burning, he saved sailors from drowning, he prevented a famine and when a poor man had no dowry to give to his daughters, little pouches with money appeared in the house, enough for the dowry.
In the 11th century his body was taken from Myra by sailors who brought him to their hometown Bari, where they built a cathedral for him.
Saint Nicolas is the patron saint for sailors, children and he is also the patron of Orthodox Russia and the Dutch capital of Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands the catholic roots of the feast of Saint Nicolas are mostly forgotten by most people. The tradition of celebrating 'Sinterklaas' is centuries old and the tradition has many customs. According to the stories Saint Nicolas lives in Spain during the rest of the year, but in November he comes to the Netherlands on his steamship. He has the company of his servants, called the 'Zwarte Pieten', (the Black Petes). 

A Saint Nicolas and a Black Pete
When Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, he is greeted by the mayor of the town he arrives in and usually there is a huge feast where all the little children are dressed as little black Petes.

When Sinterklaas arrives..
It is customary to give presents to eachother, especially to the children. In the weeks before the fifth of December, children can place their shoe by the fireplace, and Saint Nicolas will fill it with little presents and sweets. This was already done in the 17th century, as you can see on this picture by Dutch painter Jan Steen.

Sinterklaas rides on a white horse over the rooftops, and he uses the chimney to deliver the presents. In his big red book he has the names of all the children and he knows if they were good or not. Sometimes, the children were told that bad children would be taken back to Spain by Sinterklaas.
Traditional sweets for the fifth of December
Almost every family (especially if there are little children who still believe in the 'Sint') will celebrate 'pakjes avond' (presents evening) tonight and also in all kinds of places you will find Saint Nicolas, for example in schools. When the children are older and do not believe in Sinterklaas anymore, it is usually still a family celebration, with loads of presents, and sometimes poems and all kinds of traditional sweets like pepernoten, suikergoed, marspein and of course: chocolate letters. (your first inital in chocolate)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Mother Teresa

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones- the ones at home.
Flowers at the Forum Romanum, photograph taken by me, Rome 2012

Mother Teresa (nun, 1910-1997)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Foreign animals

When I am on holiday, I always enjoy taking photographs. And when I am home and look at the photographs, I notice I do not only like to make snapshots of buildings and other landmarks, somehow all kinds of animals also manage to catch my attention. I am always on the lookout for cats, but birds and even small lizards also find their way into my photographs.

This beautiful cat was watching everything that was going on at the Forum Romanum. It was clear this cat and his feline colleagues owned the place.

A little lizard was baking in the sun, also at the Forum Romanum

Some beautiful bird, I must admit I have no idea what kind of bird. At the Forum Romanum

A cat lying in the sun in the getto of Venice.

Pigeon on San Marco's square, Venice.

A very shy cat in a little park in Venice, that was waiting for somebody from the neighbourhood who always came and fed this cat and the other cats in the park.

Al these photographs were take by me, The ones in Rome in 2012, the ones in Venice in 2011.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thomas Moore

And the heart that is soonest awake to the flowers is always the first to be touch'd by the thorns.
Photograph made by me, Rome 2012

Thomas Moore (1779-1852, Irish poet)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Mouthwatering cookbooks

I am not a great cook, but I do like to read cookbooks. The fun part for me is not just reading the recipes, but reading the extra information. I like it when the author not just tells you how many eggs you need, but also tells you stories about their lives or their experiences. Luckily for me, most cookbooks today have this extra information, and even more important, photographs. Photographs of beautiful plates of food, but also of vegetables, of cutlery, china plates and bowls, beautiful linen and stunning combinations of all these things. 

Two of my favorite cookbooks are the two Sophie Dahl wrote. ‘Miss Dahl’s voluptuous delights’, and ‘From season to season, a year in recipes’.

I know a lot of people criticize  her for not being a ‘real chef’, but she never claimed she was. In her own words (more or less);  she is just somebody who loves food and who like to write about it.
For me, her recipes are simple to make and taste good.
The amazing pictures just add to the pleasure I have when I use these books. I have the Dutch translation, because in cookbooks I otherwise get confused with different measurements etc.
Just look at these pictures, do they not make you want to go into the kitchen and start cooking?



I also enjoy this cookbook, 'The Paris neighbourhood cookbook' by Danyel Couet. This book is about Paris and the different recipies for the different neighbourhoods of the city. This book also has loads of beautiful photographs of food, but also of Paris. A book that makes you feel like you are in Paris, and not just sitting on your couch in your own home.

And of course, being a fan of Italy and Italian food, I have a couple of Italian cookbooks as well. I enjoy reading the delicous recipies, and admiring the gorgeous pictures. Now all I have to do is find the courage to actually make some of these recipies!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Plato

Good people do not need laws to know what their responsibility is, bad people always find a way around the laws.

Plato, Greek philosopher 427-347

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Home improvement on a budget

Sometimes you want to make some changes in your house. You can re-arrange your furniture, but if you live like I do, that is not really a possibility. All my walls are lined with bookcases, and those cannot be moved, therefore things like couches, beds, chairs, the dining table etc must all stay where they are.

And if you do not have a lot of money to buy new furniture, how can you create a new look in your living room? The answer is, as most of you will probably now: change the accessories.

I have a brown couch, and last year I bought a new chair, that is blue. I must admit, it does not look so good together as I hoped it would when I bought the chair, somehow it is a little bit bigger and also more blue than I expected. To bring the couch and the chair together I bought two dark blue cushions for the couch, the bright pink one is for an extra spark of colour, since it did look very dark together. It looked okay, but I was not crazy about it.
The brown couch, the blue cushions and a cat
The blue chair, and part of the brown couch with a blue cushion
Last week I found the solution. First of all I bought a white fleece blanket, to drape over the couch. I also bought two white cushion covers for the dark blue cushions. I chanced the bright pink one for a pale purple one. One white cushion on the chair, one white and the light purple cushion on one side of the couch, and the white blanket hanging from the other end. Now, the chair and couch look as if they belong together, and my living rooms looks much brighter.


It looks brighter
On the coffee table I also did something different. During the winter months I always have a tray with bright coloured candles on my coffee table. I have candles again, but now I put a white and two light brown candles on the tray. Again, now it looks like it belongs together. The colour of the brown candles is almost the same as the colour of the couch.
So, a new look for under 15 Euros, and I did not have to make huge changes, buy new things, or change my entire living room. Just a few things can make a difference.  
Now it looks like it belongs together
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