Tuesday, April 30, 2013

All Night Long with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima

How Dutch can you get? At 4:30 a.m. today my hub came to bed with the following request: "wake me before 7:00 a.m. so I can watch the next stage of the coronation."

At around 6:20 a.m. Flip did the waking, so we were all up and in front of the television (connected to YouTube on the Internet) in time to see the new king and queen of The Netherlands complete their coronation in the Nieuwe Kerk (which isn't really a new church at all, since it is a 15th century church!) in Amsterdam.

Around 9:00 a.m. I left Hub in front of the TV, and heard that later around 11:00 a.m. the Internet connection was broken as Andre Rieu was leading his orchestra in audience swaying music on Rembrandtplein.

So then my Dutch hub went to bed. When I phoned him after 4:00 p.m. while buying flowering plants for our front veranda, he said he had just gotten out of bed.

So he spent the night and day (or day and night) with a king and queen.

Actually a coffee or tea date with them and their girls would be enough for me.

Aren't they a good looking family?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Small World

As I write this post the world outside is claustrophobic. We have dense fog!

The temps have soared to the 80's F, and airco has replaced heating. Guess it is time to put away the woolens. Even my Dutch hub is ready to put away the sweaters and jackets. But air conditioning can get a little chilly sometimes, so the sweaters will not be far away.

Last night at 10 pm when Flip and I went out to check for "spooks," the fragrance from the honeysuckle behind our red barn was intoxicating. I actually looked forward to the aroma this morning when letting Flip out, but the fog seemed to have smothered the smell as well as the sun.

This all reminds me of one of my favorite poems.

FOG (by Carl Sandburg)

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Artichokes. Who has a good recipe?

Our artichoke plant just "keeps on giving." Last year I enjoyed the beautiful purple flowers when the fruit bloomed. This year I will promise to try to steam a few. Now to find out how to determine if they are ripe and then a recipe for steaming them.

Maybe I should try Pinterest ;)))

Check out my new pins on Pinterest.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Walmart--Shame On You! Rant!

Yes, we shop at Walmart. But after what I witnessed at our local Walmart yesterday, I am not so sure I want to go back.

Rumor has it that Walmart does not pay or treat their employees too well, but what I saw yesterday caused me to send a formal complaint to Walmart headquarters.

I should have taken a photo, since you had to see it to believe it. A very "fluffy" young girl was down on her hands and knees washing the baseboards of the meat cases with paper kitchen towels. My hub was concerned with the waste of the paper products, while I was infuriated at the sight of the young woman with her clothing in disarray crawling around on the grocery store floor at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

Torture! Disgrace!

No one should be expected to scrub down on the floor of a public place at any time! There are machines and mops and brushes for those kinds of cleaning jobs.

In fact, the only time anyone should get down on all fours to clean is in the privacy of their own home!

Shame on you, Walmart!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sell By Date on Greek Yoghurt

How long can you keep homemade Greek yoghurt in your fridge?

Well, actually you can keep it forever. But after six weeks my own Greek yoghurt is still good. Really better than any Greek yoghurt I could find in the grocery stores in The Netherlands.

Before we left on our trip "over the puddle," I froze most of my leftover homemade yoghurt. (I will be interested in how that tastes after defrosting it in the fridge.) As I still had a bit left in a jar, I just left it there in the fridge and ate it yesterday and this morning. It did not look or taste any different than when we left.

So my conclusion is that you can keep homemade Greek yoghurt in your fridge for at least six weeks. But who besides me would be so frugal as to do that?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Packed and Ready to go Home

The Beltway apartment is still not home. Not yet anyway. And maybe it will never be our home.

When we left here back last November, it was still Oma and Opa's virtually empty apartment.

And now, it is still not our home. On paper, yes, it is our apartment.

But when we return in the fall, it will be virtually empty again.

And then we can make it a home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Vans on the Rooftops

If my iPad camera had been good enough, you would be looking at a photo taken from the Beltway balcony of white vans driving backwards on the rooftops of apartments near the train station. Actually it would be a photo of white vans being transported by train through the city.

We had never realized that you can see the train transport from the Beltway balcony.

Without leaves on the trees, we can see lots of things we had not expected to see.

White vans on rooftops, for example. ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shorts Weather in Nederland (Take 2)

Who would have dreamed that I would be looking for shorts on April 14? And yes, we are still in The Netherlands!

Temperatures are warmer here than at our home in Wetcreek. But by the end of the week, folks here at the Beltway will have freezing temps. Again! So they had better enjoy the warmth and sun while they can. And we will be back in Wetcreek where the oven is just heating up for six months of baking weather!

Now back to the warm, sunny balcony for perhaps the first rays of the promise of Spring.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kalfslever met spek en uien -- De Pijnappel Restaurant in Klarenbeek

Liver with bacon and onions! Yum!

We have been so lucky with restaurants this last week. I guess that makes up for the bad experiences with restaurants on past trips. Last evening on our sight seeing trip back home from visiting our friends in the "west," we stopped to pick up some milk at a grocery store in Klarenbeek and then ate at the restaurant across the road.

My hub and I are both liver and onion fans, but preparing it myself is always a really messy job. The last time I fried liver, we invited my mom who likes that kind of food, too. This time we chose this delicious meal at a super restaurant in Klarenbeek. We were early for the evening meal, but at De Pijnappel (the Pineapple) that was no problem since the kitchen opens there at noon.

Our meal began with an amuse of a fried breaded shrimp and a sweet/hot dip sauce. We each received one delicious warm shrimp, and our taste buds jumped to attention. What a great starter!

Then after a short wait and a bottle of lightly sparkling water, the feast was presented to us. Besides two large pieces of fried liver, a mound of fried onions, and fried bacon for each of us, the waitress filled the table with two kinds of fried potatoes (French for my hub and fried rounds for me), mixed salad, three different vegetables, and a bowl of apple compote.

We had planned to order dessert, but after cleaning all of the bowls, we did not have room for more food.

Now we have two restaurants in the "neighborhood" that we plan to visit when we return to the Beltway next autumn.

Colcannon (Curly Kale with Mashed Potatoes) from the Hairy Bikers

I am a sucker for cooking programs. Last night the Hairy Bikers prepared Colcannon. Here is their recipe, which I plan to try ASAP:


1kg/2lb 4oz medium floury potatoes, preferably Maris Piper or King Edward
75g/21⁄2oz butter
100g/31⁄2oz rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 2cm/3⁄4in pieces
300g/101⁄2oz fresh kale
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
200ml/7fl oz double cream
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the colcannon, peel the potatoes and cut into evenly-sized chunks. Put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until very tender. Test with the tip of a knife.

While the potatoes are cooking, trim the thick stems and cut out much of the tough central vein from each kale leaf. Thinly shred the leaves and wash in a colander under cold running water. Drain.

Heat 25g/1oz of the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the bacon and kale for four minutes, stirring regularly until the kale is tender. If it is still a little tough after four minutes, add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and continue cooking for a couple of minutes more. Add the spring onions and cook for one minute, stirring.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander and return to the saucepan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Warm the cream and remaining butter in small pan. Mash the cooked potatoes with the cream and milk until smooth and season to taste. Use a set of electric beaters if you want your mash to be really fluffy and light.

Tip the softened kale into the same pan and stir together until lightly combined. Transfer to a warmed dish.

(photo to be added later ;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

For the last two days I was sequestered in the Beltway apartment because of a stomach "thingy."

I am feeling so well now that this evening we had a very nice dinner in a quaint restaurant a few steps away from the restaurant where we had our wedding lunch almost 33 years ago. We had planned on having dinner in the "wedding" restaurant, but it has now become a pancake (pannenkoeken) restaurant.

We weren't too thrilled about the idea of pancakes, and then we saw there was another restaurant a few steps away that served "real" food. We sat on the glassed-in porch and enjoyed the warm sunshine, ferry crossings, and a delicious three course meal that should have been only two courses. It is terrible when you don't have the appetite for the dessert!

Earlier in the day we traveled to pick up parts for our Friese Staartklok. If you read my Wetcreek Museum Blog (December 9, 2012) then you know which clock I am writing about. The gentleman running the shop was very interesting. He let us know very quickly that the Internet was ruining his business. His words were, "No one drops by here anymore." And boy did he like to talk!

Don't misunderstand me, this was not a weird little Dutch guy in a dark little shop on a narrow street in a quaint little village. This 50+ gentleman had his very modern and well-lit manufacturing shop in his modern light brick house on a small but very modern road about an hour's drive from the Beltway. My hub found this guy's complete catalogue on the Internet, and we could have ordered everything. But we chose to drive there instead.

We got the pieces we needed plus extensive explanations of how they were made. When he said we could clean and oil the clock ourselves, we added a small bottle of clock oil. Then he took us back into the well-lit workplace so that he could make us a minuscule dipper for the oil. We heard about his 90 year old father who has a clock museum and still goes to auctions and markets to buy more, while his mother has been using the same refrigerator for the last 35 years and needs a new kitchen.

When he said he was the 7th generation in his family of klokkenmakers or "fooling around with clocks," we knew what made him tick.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


They say that if you "google" your aches and pains, that you will eventually find out that you are going to die. Or maybe you are already dead. Well death is not an option for me, but I think the flu I have is not the flu at all. I just have a terrible bellyache (with all the attributes of the flu). So with a cup of tea in my hand at all times and another package of melba toast, I will get over this real soon.

In the meantime, we have had to postpone another visit to friends. As they are the proud grandparents of their second grandson, they are probably very happy that we won't be bringing little viruses into their home.

Since I read that "infected" persons are not supposed to prepare food for the family, my hub is on his own.

Wonder what he will bring home from the grocery store?

Monday, April 8, 2013

In the Grip of the Griep(Flu)

Yesterday we walked to the Stoffenmarkt. We have never seen so much fabric (stof) in our lives. This market comes here twice a year, and we just happened to be here for the Spring event.

Since I have no sewing machine here and the Beltway still needs some work, I will not be sewing much here for a while. So we had a quick look at fabric, but did not buy any. Prices were not too bad, but we do not even know what we need in this apartment.

I did find a good deal on large spools of polyester thread and a special stand to feed it into my machines at home. So walking to the market was not a waste of time.

Then it happened. On the way back to the apartment, I could almost not put one foot in front of the other. By the time we entered the apartment, I was freezing. And I didn't get much better after putting on two sweaters, a warm housecoat, and fuzzy slippers.

This morning I slept until 9:30 am and then went back to bed around 10 and slept until 1:00 pm. My hub made me a pot of tea, and I found some melba toast on the kitchen counter. After calling off a coffee date with our dear neighbors, I will just sit here and trust that this is a 24 hour flu.

I still have things to see and do the next week before we travel back home.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mevius Shop and D'Olde Bakkerieje in Deventer

While walking the Walstraat yesterday, we passed an interesting shop. As my hub is not a shop browser, I was the first to notice this shop and the inexpensive goods out front. He heard "cheap" and followed along.

What a shop! It was better than a flea market or second hand shop, since everything was still packed in cellophane. And indeed the prices were just right for our frugal shopping.

Hub bought a book he has been wanting to read and three silk ties, all for 2.50 Euros each. He also purchased a wool scarf for 7.50 Euros that he has needed for the last 2 1/2 weeks and a surprise for our son.

I was the "last of the red hot spenders" with my package of jewelry fittings (50 Euro cents)to repair our clock chain back home and a handmade macrame bracelet for 25 cents.

That shop with its books, curiosa, decorations, and jewelry was not the only shop we visited. Just down the street from Mevius is D'Olde Bakkerieje with the baker's oven still being used (as a display for curiosa!). The brocante, curiosa, glasswork, enamelware, silverware, chinaware, chandeliers, cabinets, and More are overwhelming.

We have a neighbor back in the US who would go crazy in this shop with its merchandise spread out over at least four buildings at the intersection of Walstraat and Golstraat. And she thinks her shop in Louisiana is full! ;)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Three Year Old with a Hammer

This morning I woke up to the sound of dripping. Or was it tapping? Or maybe scratching?

Oh, something woke me up! In the Beltway apartment it could be anything anywhere. You know how these apartment walls carry the sounds!

Out in the country in Louisiana, I usually wake up to a paw on my face. Flip's paw, that is. But here in the city, it is mostly the "swish" sound of the cars passing on the drivers way to work. But this morning there is the noise similar to a toddler hammering on the wall with his toy hammer or Tonka truck (do they still make those?).

I miss the birds singing here in the city. Maybe these Dutch variety are still shivering from the cold, since the weather is still winter temps here.

I will keep listening for some promising sounds of Spring and hope the tapping sounds take a coffee break or nap. ;D

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Inside the Beltway

The last few days have been very enlightening concerning the Beltway apartment. (Is there anyone else who can't make the connection from the street address and the English name?)

As we are waiting for some big furniture to be removed from the Beltway, we are looking around to see what we can do to improve this dwelling.

While sleeping in the MB, we have noticed that we have some noise pollution and lots of sunlight (and resulting heat). Rubber strips around the windows that can be opened have helped some, so now we are trying to attack the sunlight and heat of the slanted window pictured below.

As this window is not "standard" in any way, most window curtain dealers turn their noses up at trying to help us out. Yesterday we finally found someone who might be able to help us, but we will still keep looking.

Today we plan to visit a shop that is only open on Thursdays. Imagine that! One day a week, but they should also have a stall at the Friday street market. We did the street market thing last week in the freezing cold, so think we will visit the shop today.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Doppelgänger Manuel from Fawlty Towers

Over the Easter weekend we stayed in a nice hotel along the Rhine River in Germany. The hotel was "prima" and full to the hilt on both nights we were there. That is the reason that our Dutch friends and Hub and I decided to eat at a restaurant in the village instead of at the hotel buffet.

The restaurant in the village was a good choice. So good, in fact, that we went back for Easter dinner on Sunday. But I am not going to tell you about the HUGE American size portions of meat and food served there. I want to tell about the funny waiter.

I am still not sure if the thin, dark-haired waiter was German or some other nationality. Remember, I do not speak German. So he could have been speaking with a strong Slavic accent for all I know. Anyway, we all agreed that his manners (or lack of them) reminded us of the crazy Spanish waiter on the 1970-80's Fawlty Towers television show.

The first evening "Herr Manuel" seated us at a table that was still dirty from the previous guests. After slinging around the crumb covered cloth placemats, he threw down a few knives and forks in front of the four of us. Then he took our order and came back every two minutes to see if everything was in order. Picking up the finished plates was even humorous, since he expected help from us, but wanted to direct traffic.

From the look on his face, the tip left on the table Saturday evening was quite disappointing. So I wasn't too surprised at his rudeness on the following evening.

As Sunday was a holiday, we decided to make reservations for our holiday meal. Actually that was not necessary (I noticed later), but better safe than sorry.

We arrived at our appointed time of 7:30 pm, and we were seated at the same large table as the previous night by our "favorite" clumsy waiter. This evening he seemed to have it more together until he leaned over our friend's elderly mother and elbowed her in the head. Instead of backing away, he seemed to push closer and more awkwardly. Our friend ended up shielding her mom from the pushy arms, elbows, and water bottles.

For the rest of the evening, we all tried to keep our distance from "Herr Klutz."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Four Languages and a Funeral

Saturday we attended our dear friend HW's funeral in his fatherland Germany.

The trip there in our new "used" car went better and quicker than we had expected, especially in the misty, snowy freezing weather. For an Easter Saturday morning the autobahns were surprisingly not too busy, since we were very early and the road condition was not optimal. As you can imagine, we were both glad when we arrived at the chapel one and one-half hour before the service.

Everyone you speak to thinks that reuniting with your extended family only at funerals is really a shame. At least we still have some connection with those who are dear but not always near to us. After the first couple of minutes chatting, the years that have passed since the last time you saw each other seem to vanish. Then you know that you may be "out of mind," but you are never "out of heart."

Funerals are really great reunions. Years ago while traveling with my parents in Europe, we had dinner in a restaurant where relatives of a deceased family member were having dinner together after the funeral. Both of my parents remarked how good it was that the surviving family members had the opportunity to get together around a dinner table and enjoy themselves with fond memories of the deceased and of the living family members.

Our situation on Saturday was even more unique. There were four different languages being spoken at the coffee/reception following the funeral. The deceased spoke all four languages fluently, and that was basically because his family is so multi-lingual and because they have married into different cultures with different languages. First off, German HW married my hub's Dutch cousin around 50 years ago in The Netherlands. Their oldest son who studied in Germany and in The Netherlands (and who stayed with us for a couple of months near Rotterdam), married a Dutch lady. Their two sons are studying in a German high school. HW's only daughter studied at German and Dutch schools and later worked in England and Spain. She married a Spanish fellow who speaks some English and Dutch, and they now have two children who attend Spanish schools and do a good job speaking Dutch and are learning German and some English.

HW's youngest son studied in Germany and The Netherlands, and he speaks German and Dutch fluently. (He also aways speaks English with me.) His partner is German, and from what I could tell around the table only speaks German.

The fourth language was of course my English, which Europeans call "American English." Before I moved to Europe in the late 70's, I thought there was only one English language. Can you imagine telling a Nederlander (Dutchman) that he speaks "Nederlands Nederlands" ? 

As always, I get a headache from these different languages! What happened to "broken English"? We are all pretty fluent in that!

Monday, April 1, 2013

700 Followers on Pinterest

When I began "collecting" pins on Pinterest, I never dreamed that over 700 Pinterest fans would begin following me or my boards. For non-Pinterest folks, 700 sounds like a lot. But actually my numbers are quite modest considering there are many people who have over a million followers.

My most followed boards are my Mastering Gardening, Beauregard Master Gardeners, Brocante, Crochet, and Crafts boards. The majority of my almost 15,000 pins also fall in these categories.

Pinterest is still fun to do. Now let me see if I can find a pattern for that cute felt piggy bank that I saw in a German museum shop this afternoon at Moyland Castle.