Friday, November 30, 2012

Buzz is One Year Old

Last Christmas holiday we (Hub, Flip, and I) dogsat with my youngest brother's new dog for about 8 days until the cutie (the dog) could be revealed on Christmas Eve.

My dear sister-in-law trusted us enough to leave the young pup with us, and we had an eventful week keeping the little critter from watering our brick floors. Actually, I am pretty sure that we house-broke Buzz in that time, but today he is a BIG outside dog.

I have a wonderful video of Buzz howling, but while I look for that, here is a baby picture.
Happy Birthday, Buzz!

Where oh where is that howling video?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moving Blankets

It is that time of year again. Time to look for blankets. Our beagle Flip has always known that to keep his tush warm, he needs to sit on something warm. In this picture made last winter, he found a moving blanket draped over my rosemary plant. Protects the plant and the doggy bottom from the cold.
This morning there were no blankets (except of frost), so he came right back inside when I let him outside to do his thing. Later the sun was so warm that he forgot the chill and went out willingly. Funny dog.

A New Museum at Wetcreek

Having a lot of photos of brocante and antiques was not my goal for this blog, so this morning I officially opened the Wetcreek Museum blog at We have so many old treasures that I wanted to document as much as I could with photos and provenance. I do this for no one else but me (I think).

 If you are remotely interested, the last of our shipments of family goods arrives tomorrow morning. Then the real fun begins. What goes where?

You Are Gifted

It is that time of year. Gift searching and gift giving.

I remember back in the early 70's when my annual salary was less than $5,000 and my Christmas gift limit per family member was $7.50. Why that strange amount? It was probably what the first purchased gift costed, so I kept that amount for the rest.

Back then we had only seven immediate family members (Mom, Dad, my two brothers, one sister-in-law, one grandchild, and me), so I had only six presents to whip up at Christmas. And whip up I sometimes did. Back then I sewed housecoats as Christmas presents. For friends I filled pretty glass jars with layers of dried beans or punched and studded oranges with cloves to make pomanders.

I never seemed to have a special boyfriend at Christmas, so that made gift giving easy. And there are no old "boyfriend" gifts stashed in the cupboards around here. No regrets about that either!

One of the best gifts I have ever received is this iPad. This fall it was a lifesaver when our laptop did not function properly while we were in Europe. Although my hub still thinks the touch stuff is annoying, I love my iPad!

Just wish my gift receivers will think the same about my homemade gifts this year. ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Testing These Image Possibilities

Waiting on customs to release this container of our recent shipment.

Filling up the container.

This reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy movie where they dropped a piano out of a window in a tall building.

Finally Sold!

My Dutch sister-in-law and her hub just recently sold their lovely old city farmhouse after having it on the market for over three years. The beautiful blue hydrangeas shown above out in the backyard were surely the pride and joy of the "gardener." My hydrangeas in my front flowerbed will never look like that! :( Our heat in the summer is much too intense.

Dutch city farmhouse
We are extremely happy for A and P, and wish them all the best with their packing, storing, and moving to Ceintuurbaan. Hope all of the stress of changing homes will be gone in time to have a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exactly Four Years Ago!

Four years ago this was the way our pond drainage pipe looked.

Guess what, Folks, the pipe looks exactly the same (sans waterfall) today.  Only now there is a barbed wire fence about where I am standing in the photo above.   A fence that separates us from OUR pipe.

To the left of the pipe can now be found an elaborate display of riprap.  The riprap is what we requested that the neighboring landowners would allow over four years ago.

Now they have the riprap, OUR pipe, no natural drainage, AND a barbed wire fence to keep someone off their land.

And what did we get? A new levee (and all the headaches that involved), a smaller and new pond, erosion along the banks of our new pond, and a huge "airstrip" of rutted, eroded land that separates our pond levee from the neighboring landowners' property and barbed wire fence!

Bah Humbug! (Thanks, taxpayers, for paying over $50,000 for this debacle!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today is Summer!

Yesterday we had winter. No really, yesterday morning it was so cold here that I could have worn my "beremuts" ( bear skin cap) instead of my wool crocheted cap when I took my early morning walk with Flip.

It was so cold that our Rainbird irrigation meter out by the barn may have frozen. And all of the little lettuce plants were wilted from the cold. And our rooftop was solid white from the frost. And my single tomato plant in the boxwood cutting box in the front flowerbed froze. That is how cold it WAS.

Today is a different story. Rain came through from the southwest and along came the warm weather. Temps today should be up to 26 C (80 F).

Actually that is a more spring type temp than summer. But for friends in Europe, we have summer today. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Greek Yoghurt and Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

That is all it takes to make dark chocolate cookies. Since I had waaaay too much Greek style yoghurt on hand, I looked for a cookie recipe to use up the excess yoghurt. I found the following recipe on several blogspots, so I gave it a try.

Here is my version:

Quick Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 32 cookies  Prep Time : 15 minutes.  Cook Time: 10 minutes per cookie sheet


1 cup Kroger's Greek nonfat yoghurt (all natural-1 cup 150 calories)
1 Betty Crocker Devil's Food Super Moist Cake Mix ( pudding in the mix)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Lotus Speculoos Hagel (sprinkles)


Preheat oven to 350F.
Line one large cookie sheet with a silicone mat.
Pour yoghurt and cake mix into a large bowl and stir with a fork. Continue to stir until all dry cake mix is incorporated into the yoghurt.
Stir in the chocolate chips and Speculoos sprinkles.
Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet at about 2 inches apart. Press down with moistened and sugar coated fork.
Bake for 10 minutes. 
Cookies will be very soft, so let them cool on the silpat mat until they have firmed up. Then remove them from the cookie sheet and place on cooling rack.
Let cool completely before storing them.
Makes very soft cookie.

The original recipe is from

Healthier Three Ingredient Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins


1 box of chocolate fudge cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup of Greek strained nonfat plain yogurt (I use Chobani or Fage)
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Pour cake mix and yogurt into a large glass mixing bowl and stir with a spoon. It may appear that there is too much dry batter to blend with the yogurt but if you continue to stir, it will come together into one uniform dough. A little more cake mix will stick to the yogurt with each stir. After the dough comes together, if it really does seem too dry, add in one more tablespoon of yogurt and mix until blended.
2. Stir in chocolate chips. Take rounded tablespoons of dough and place on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press down gently on dough as it does not spread that much during baking. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes. If you touch them, they will still be very soft. The cookies will firm up and set after finished cooling. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet and firm up before removing them from the baking sheets.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lost Son-in-law

Last night my youngest brother lost his son-in-law! Well, let's put it a different way. His son-in-law seemed to be lost.

The two guys came out here to my brother's property to hunt deer. They came after three o'clock in the afternoon, and we thought that was strange. At this time of year darkness falls quickly and at around 5:00 pm.

But they know better than we non-hunters, right? Wrong this time!

At a little before six my brother drove up to ask if we had seen his daughter's young husband. My hub and I were just then saying goodbye to our son, but as soon as he drove off then we started turning on as many lights inside and outside so that the lost hunter could see his way back in the otherwise pitch dark woods.

My brother seemed pretty calm about the whole thing until he could not understand why his son-in-law was not answering his mobile phone. Knowing that we don't get good reception out here in the country, my hub and I were not too surprised at that. 

Before I could pick up the phone to call our kind hunting neighbor and friend to come help my brother go out in a real search effort, I heard, "He's back." And there he was! Not lost at all. Just staying out until dark like his father-in-law had said he should do. (Sigh)

A Fence for Nothing

I think I remember back in the 60's or 70's that a governor here in Louisiana commissioned a bridge to be built from nowhere to nowhere. Maybe it was called the Sunshine Bridge? The governor of "You Are My Sunshine" fame, probably?

Well, we have a new fence that separates nothing from nothing! And it is a barbed wire fence, at that! Those pesky (pesty?) paparazzi landowners next door screwed the US government and taxpayers. 

After three years and $50,000 of taxpayers' money, they finally have what we tried to get the landowners to agree to back when. Our pond is a bit smaller, but we have a new levee (which we did not ask for), AND there is riprap on the ground under the original drainpipe. OUR original drainpipe remains on the neighboring landowners' property just like it was three years ago! Not much has changed on their property. But now since our pond draining situation has changed, in case of a really heavy rain or hurricane, our overflow will drain right over the second levee and right NEXT to the riprap. Fence separating nothing! Riprap for scrap! What a waste!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful For...

I am thankful Nancy J. Carmody

...the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
...the taxes I pay
because it means that I'm employed.
...the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat. shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.
 ...the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.
...all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.
...that lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.
...lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home. huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.
...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means that I have been productive.
...the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I am alive.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yoghurt Needs a Warm Bed

Yes! I am home and back to making my own Greek yoghurt. Last week I bought a couple of containers of Kroger's Greek yoghurt, but that was not a success. It tasted like schoolboard chalk pudding. Don't know how I know how that tastes, but it tasted like chalk would probably taste. Chalky and yuck! I ate it anyway, but I brought some home to use for my bacteria starter. Sounds awful, but I think that was missing in the Lidl and Albert Heijn varieties in The Netherlands. Yoghurt needs to "grow." And it needs a warm place to sleep while it is growing.

Here is what I did yesterday:

Soon after I took my walk with Flip, I turned the triple pot crock pots on low and poured in the whole milk.

With the lids on the pots, I waited about 3 1/2 hours for the milk temperature to come up to about 170-180 degrees F.

Then I turned off the crock pots and removed the pots to a cooling rack. When the milk cooled off to about 110 degrees F, I whisked in 2 big tablespoons of the Kroger Greek yoghurt (warmed up to room temp) into each of the three crock pots.

Then I panicked! My usual warm yoghurt sleeping place was now like ice. This small room is situated next to the indoor pool, but the pool has been inactive for the month we were away. And since it is now late November instead of hot summer, where do I find a warm place in a cool house?

Almost everywhere I turned, the space was too cold to keep my new yoghurt around 100 degrees F for a long time. So I put them back in the crock pot elements, turned each one on warm, and measured the temp for the next few minutes until I was sure that they would stay warm. Then I shut off the switches, unplugged the machine, and covered the entire triple crock pot apparatus in 4 huge towels and many, many layers of wrapping paper from my new soup bowls. Then I crossed my fingers and waited for the bacteria to do their jobs from lunch until 10:00 pm. At bedtime they all three looked "done," so I popped them into the fridge for a cold night. When I finally got around to checking on the yoghurt at 10:30 this morning, they looked and tasted like professionally made yoghurt. I saved a half jam jar of the new yoghurt to use as a starter in 10 days.But I strained out most of the whey from the rest through my paint strainer mesh for three more hours and then bottled the new yoghurt. Now I have enough to feed an army!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remotes Help Men Conquer the World

Where is the button to just turn on the TV?

Yesterday morning before my son left for the weekend, he showed me how to operate the remote for his apparatus(what is the plural of that?). It looked so simple that I did not try it myself. What a mistake! Last night I turned off the set, and now for the life of me I can not get a channel. Only as I punch the button to turn it off do I see the news channel that I want to watch. And then BLIP, it disappears and everything goes black.

Later, when I think he is awake, I will phone him and ask directions.

Now I know why all the men that I see driving their cars to work are talking on their cell phones. They are explaining to their wives how to turn on the TV.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No Dummy

Who says beagles are dumb? 

When our Flip realized that he was stuck with me (and only me) this afternoon, he whined one weak whine and disappeared. When I realized he wasn't asleep under my propped up legs, I started searching for him. I think this may be a rerun. I was experiencing déjà vu, since this has happened before. 

So I first looked on the staircase landing, then his bed in the dining room, and then I remembered that I found him a couple of months ago in our son's clothes closet. 

Nope, he was nowhere! 

Finally I climbed the stairs and peeked into the bedroom where we sleep when we visit, and there he was. Sleeping on his little covered mattress next to our bed where he always sleeps when we visit our son in the big city.

Smart pup!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Domino Effect

We are back in the really big city with our son and our beagle.

Our son is old enough and wise enough to take care of himself and of us, but the beagle is another story.

As Flip had missed a few walks the last month, we are playing catch up. Last evening around six o'clock he and I took a stroll down my favorite neighborhood street. As he passed in front of each house on the block, he set off the barking dogs. By the time we got to the corner of the street, there had been a domino effect set into motion.

A cacaphony of barking dogs all because one pooch was taking an evening stroll! What a sound!

This morning at 5:30 Flip and I were both awake, so we went out for an early stroll in the dark. Luckily the dogs along the route were fast asleep, or we would have had a repeat performance of the Barking Dogs Review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Look into the Past

Before we cross back over the puddle, today we drove out into the beautiful Dutch countryside to visit a farmhouse previously owned by my hub's ancestors.

Although a rich businessman and his wife remodeled the typically Dutch farmhouse years ago, some of the original characteristics are still intact. The bedstee (bedstead) in the kitchen has become the long-haired retriever's dog bed. Hub said he is sure that his ancestors are turning over in their graves over that. Dogs were meant to sleep on anything except the owner's bed. I agree!

Then we saw the wonderful old hearth with old Dutch tiles near a built-in china cabinet in the kitchen. In the living room the present owners enjoy the monstrous stone fireplace mantle that originally contained homefires in a French mansion. The original ceiling beams and boards made us wonder just how old this farm really is. And to my surprise, the original feed troughs were still where they had been for ages. (Now in the living room!)

We found information about this farm among my deceased  inlaws' papers, and we decided to check it out. You can, too, since it was put on the market for sale six weeks ago! Please take a look at this historical monument, and for 1,000,000 euros it could be yours!

I will be "out of pocket" for a short while. Be back as soon as I can get connected to the Internet.

Photo of bedstee (bedstead) in the farmhouse we visited.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dark to Light

When I got up this Sunday morning I was ready to write about the dark, gloomy weather here in The Netherlands. And how it was time to go back home to sunny and warmer weather in the US.

Before I could get the dishes out of the dishwasher, there was light! And sun, and more sun!

The temps are still on the cool side at 47 degrees F, but the sun is shining!

We rearranged the living room in the apartment so that we now have a reading/visiting sitting area in front of the huge glass balcony windows. So no need for lamps this afternoon. We are enjoying the cheery sunshine on this chilly November Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Close To You

Before I forget, I am passing the 300th blog post with this post. Never dreamed I would write so much in less than one year. Now on to the next hundred postings!

Today I realized what a small and crowded country we are in while doing some last minute shopping for dinner. My hub went to a different supermarket to return some plastic water bottles and pick up some cheese while I went on my own into my favorite Albert Heijn grocery store. It was terribly busy with lots of really old feeble ladies balancing themselves behind rollators and mothers and fathers with tiny children pushing miniature shopping carts. If you can get an American size Walmart out of your mind and envision a significantly smaller Dutch Albert Heijn, you can imagine me dodging the other shoppers. By the way, they did not dodge me. I have proof on my heels and shins.

Then the strangest thing happened. While I reached into the glass doored display case for a package of grated cheese, I was confronted by a man's face only about three inches next to mine. As I turned to expect my sometimes sneaky and joking hub, I almost came in facial contact with a stranger. I was so shocked that he was so close that I almost slammed the glass door on his head. Then he said, "I needed to go there, too."

I have been laughing ever since.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Big Fat Sour Greek Yoghurt

What happened to Greek Yoghurt here in The Netherlands? For the last few weeks I have been "taste testing" different Greek yoghurts, and nothing tastes like the yoghurt I know. It must be about time for me to go back home and make my own.

 In the meantime, I might even try the following recipe:

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tile Tattoos

Since our furnishings moved out and are crossing the great puddle, we have had a chance to see this apartment in semi-nude condition.

Although it is a lovely, bright place to stay, we now notice a few things that could be improved.

Back in March we removed the Astro turf from the balcony floor that was beginning to harvest a good crop of moss.After treating the tiles with soda and vinegar, the green thing is under control. We also removed a black safety mat from the master bathroom floor back in March, and the beautiful blue floor tiles are shining again. 

When we cleaned the carpet in the living room a couple of weeks ago, we rolled up the huge red Persian carpet and found a perfectly clean spans of blue carpet underneath where we now have our reading area. Two days ago we bought a "make do" wooden dining table from Ikea and painfully (without drill!) put that together to go with our four 2nd hand wooden dining chairs from our favorite Kringwinkel in Twello.

Yesterday we walked into town and back to look for "tile tattoos" to improve the kitchen appearance. We found what we wanted at Xenos, but now I am trying to decide whether I like the ecru flowery tattoo or the old Dutch blue one. I am leaniing toward the more modern ecru design, since I decided to try to keep our furnishings of this place different from our home in the states.

Sorry, no photos of the flat (apartment). It still looks like we are camping out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!”
― Dr. SeussHorton Hatches the Egg

This morning I heard an interview of an American lady in Colorado. She expressed my feelings exactly about the election results. 

Sorry, Mr. Romney.  I never was convinced that you meant what you said and said what you meant. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kan Niet, Mag Niet, Moet Niet

Our heater in the apartment needs inspection and possibly cleaning, since a sticker on the machine states that the last inspection was done in October 2010.

As we have only one more full week here, my hub phoned the service company today to set up an appointment. The service lady my hub talked to said the appointment could be scheduled in two weeks, but we will be gone by then. When my husband asked politely if someone could come this week, the receptionist connected him with an inspector. And, believe it or not, he can come to check out the heater tomorrow between 8 and 12 noon!

Thus the "kan niet, mag niet, moet niet" Dutch mentality of the 1970's still exists. They can not, may not, and must not, but, of course, they will. And then what about tomorrow morning?


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ladies, Vote! It Is Imperative!

Americans, check out the following website--

Be sure to go vote on Tuesday, November 6.

Induction Cooking, Yes!

When we moved to the US back in 2006, we took an induction cooktop with us. (We also took 5 toilets that could be installed inside the bathroom wall, but that is another story.) We took the induction cookstove, because we knew our new house would be an all electric house. Before that time, I had always prepared our meals on gas stoves. While I lived in our barn apartment for two years, I had an electric cooktop. Luckily I did not have to cook many important meals during that time, since an electric burner usually burns up everything, including my dinner!

Induction cooking is not new in Europe nor in the US. But I am amazed that very few people know too much about how fast and easy it is. The biggest problem is making sure that you have the correct pots and pans for cooking on the stove. Induction only works when you use a cooking vessel with a bottom that is attracted to a magnet. Up until I ruined my Dutch bank card, I used to carry a small magnet in my purse to check out any new cookware I was planning to buy. The things we do!

In this apartment we have set up an induction cooktop on top of the gas cookstove, since induction is far safer. Only one cooking vessel, a brand new wok, in the inlaws' kitchen worked on the induction stove. So while we were in Germany last week, we bought a skillet, a soup pan, and a small sauce pan from an 86 year old German lady who ran a very unusual household shop. She moved very slowly and even spoke English to me when she realized I was an American. Our purchase may have been her largest sell for the day.

Tonight we had boerenkool (kale) stamppot. Our two burner induction cooker and a new soup pan plus the new/used wok cooked our dinner to perfection. Check back to a post on October 10 for the recipe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jysk vs. Ikea

Vacationing in this "empty" apartment is not as bad as we thought it might be. Having kept cooking essentials in the kitchen cabinets makes meal planning and prep reasonably easy. Who cares that the plates and cups do not match? We don't even worry about that at home in the US.

Yesterday we had just about had it with trying to watch tv and maybe even take a nap in front of the tv while sitting in the two remaining winged chairs in the living room. Last Spring we purchased  Ikea footstools to give us more relaxing comfort, but we are used to sitting in comfy recliners to watch tv.

So we found an ad from Seats and Sofas on the Internet and went out to get our two inexpensive "relax-fauteuils." When they proved to be worse than we thought with plastic bag upholstery, we walked down to the other shops on the furniture boulevard. Most of the shops were cheap junk shops that we knew did not have much furniture, so we kept looking.

Then we saw Jysk. Somewhere I had read about this store, so we popped in to look around. Everything had a low price, and then we saw our two black recliners. The floor models were worn, but that was even better than the winged dings at the apartment. Before we could get back to the front cashier to make our purchase, we checked out the rest of the store. There were good bargains on everything! My kind of store! If we ever need to furnish an apartment or house here in Europe, I am definitely going back there. Needless to say the merchandise will not last for a lifetime, but we already have that kind of stuff in our real home in America or on the Bonn Express.

So Ikea, you have met your match! Jysk warning ya!
(And we came home with two NEW black recliners!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Turkish Yoghurt Today

Most of my blog readers know that I eat yoghurt every single day, and that I make my own Greek yoghurt whenever I am at home. While we are on vacation in Europe, I have had good and not so good Greek yoghurt. Yesterday I bought Turkish yoghurt as well as Greek yoghurt in order to compare the taste. I love the following story from The Gutsy Gourmet:  




Yogurt is made and consumed by many different ethnic groups throughout the world. It is probably most popular in Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia. It's popularity in the United States is quite recent and was due to the emigration to the U.S. from other countries.

As one of Armenian ancestry, I had heard stories of the difficulty in bringing in, through U.S. customs, the bacterial culture that is needed to make yogurt. As immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, the INS officers would look at the little jars of yogurt starter carried by the immigrants. they would have most certainly opened the jars and smelled the sour, acrid odor of the bacterial culture. It was of course immediately thrown into the trash. In correspondence to the old country, one Armenian immigrant bemoaned the fact that they could neither buy or make this diet staple they had enjoyed for centuries. An enterprising woman in Turkish-Armenia, who was shortly leaving for America, came up with a solution to the problem. She took clean white handkerchiefs and dipped them into a large bowl of yogurt and then hung them out to dry. She then carefully folded them with her other linen and packed them in her trunk. After she got to the U.S. she had no difficulty in going through customs with clean white hankies. Once settled, she dipped these hankies in warm milk and thus freed the bacteria to culture and make yogurt.

Yogurt is a very healthful milk product and is really the precursor to making cheese. You can drain Yogurt of the whey and have a very high quality cream cheese. It has for centuries been a cure for ulcers and just recently used in the replenishing of bacterial flora in the digestive tract after extensive antibiotic therapies which deplete the body of good bacteria as well as the bad.