Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You Really Stink!

While sitting in the airplane, I am readily aware of the close quarters and the odors ( in particular that awful smell of soap or cologne when people exit the airplane toilets. Yuck!!!)

Luckily, the days of the unpleasant reeking unclean body odors of travelers is a thing of the past. At least on the trips that we make to, from, and around Europe and the US.

But travelers and shoppers and those around us still STINK!

In 2015 the stink is usually an unnatural sweet smell. So sweet and flowery that your nose begins to twitch and you often sneeze. The aromas are not nice! They make me ill.

I can remember while teaching seventh graders ( you remember those dirty little kids?) and watching some boys running to their hall lockers (after playing a rowdy game of four square or dodge ball at recess) and spraying lots of aerosol deodorant on their sweaty shirts and pants to camouflage their B.O. 

I also remember about this time of year giving the annual Spring speech to those cute boys and girls reminding them to shower every day and begin using deodorant. So I guess you can blame me for the stench of deodorant on their sweat impregnated clothes. 

I was really happy when aerosol (Right Guard in particular) deodorant was banned at our school ( kids were setting fire to the spray in the PE locker rooms or using the spray as a weapon). At least with the roll-ons they had to go into the restrooms to pollute the atmosphere and sweeten up their adolescent armpits.

Today we aren't just clean, but we have decided that isn't enough. Now we have to "smell" clean. Thereby lies the "stink."

My kind nephew recently brought a lovely and expensive bottle of real perfume to me as a "bread and butter" gift. Although I was thrilled to receive such a thoughtful gift, I wondered what I would do with it. I don't like any perfume! It all stinks to me! And the aroma clashes with ever other toiletry item that I use. 
For instance, 
I shower everyday with a smelly soap.
I smear a smelly day cream on my face and body.
I brush my teeth with a minted toothpaste and rinse with an aromatic mouthwash.
I wash my hair with herbal or floral shampoo and condition with a spicy argan oil conditioner.
Then I style  my hair with gel and/ or hair spray that makes me wish I didn't have to use them.
I pat on a face foundation that looks innocent, but it isn't.  It is produced "in a scent" that is supposedly cleaner than my clean face.
Even the mascara and face blush and lipstick smell.
Then comes the real stinker--the deo to protect my underarms from B.O.
And if that isn't enough, my clean clothes reek of detergent and dryer sheets ( often two diSTINKt fragrances).

Last week I bought an expensive "no perfume" clothes detergent. What a joy it was to wash our clothes and have them have no smell at all! They were clean and not scented.

Now to find an all purpose house cleaner that cleans but doesn't stink up our house. (Flip will be so happy!) Even those homemade varieties with soda, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid are just masking the stench. 

I want the "open the windows" "clean as springtime" freshness aroma. 

Not the STINK!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Communicating with My iPad

Email messages are good.

IMessaging is good.

Facetiming is okay. But like my mom, I am always more worried about how my hair looks or if the caller will notice that I still have on my p.j.'s and robe than actually conversing.

I don't text (unless you call iMessaging texting).

Blogging has become a way of life for me. 

But phoning is still the mode of communication that should be the best and easiest for me. My telephone app for my iPad makes it a cinch to do. 

As long as I don't cover up the microphone by holding my iPad up against my belly.

Sorry, Mom!

---On a side note, my mom asked if we really did eat all the food that I pictured in my Kartika Restaurant blogpost. The answer is Yes, but please go back and look at the photos. Those bowls are about 4 inches and the spoons are teaspoons. We have eaten larger Indonesian rijsttafels with as many as 30 dishes, so this one was just enough for the two of us.

And we walked over 10,000 steps that day, Mom!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lucky Ducks

We are soooo lucky that we made our trip to Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum yesterday and not today. 

Not having electricity in the Amsterdam vicinity for a couple of hours today has caused a lot of people a  whole lot of stress.

Lucky Ducks ( Dutch)

Dinner at Kartika Indonesian Restaurant in Amsterdam

Yesterday we had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant called Kartika.

If you read my blog yesterday, you know that the rain was pouring down when we entered this small restaurant at about 4:15 pm. We were hungry after our train trip to Amsterdam, dizzying walk/tour through the Late Rembrandt exhibit in the Rijksmuseum, and brisk walk dodging the cars, bicyclists, and raindrops from the museum to the restaurant.

The kind owner would not ("Nay, Mijnheer") allow us to sit and wait for the restaurant to open at 5:00 pm, so we went next door to Starbucks for coffee/ hot chocolate.

Most folks I know would have found another place to eat, but we waited patiently at Starbucks and went back to eat Indonesian at 5:00.


Cute rice bowl.


We ate it all! Just the right amount of food for the two of us.
Restaurant was cold ( probably because we were too early!!).
Plates were cold.
We had to eat quickly while the food was still warm.

Will we go back to Kartika? Hmmmm.

Probably Not!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You Know You Are In The Netherlands When

Your train traveling 140 kilometers per hour to Amsterdam is delayed because there is a baby deer running in a panic alongside a fence next to the train track, and the engineer said he has to get out and scare it off the tracks.

You have to wait in a long line to line up for the toilet in the Rijksmuseum.

You have to push your way to the front of way too many visitors at Rembrandt's Nightwatch.

You try to enter the Late Rembrandt exhibit at the Rijksmuseum, and you are told it is way too crowded at that moment, so come back at your appointed time.

You need a GPS to find anything you want to see in the Rijksmuseum.

You have to ask directions in the museum, because the maps of the museum on the iPad museum app look like chicken scratch.

You expect a sunny day and exit the museum to find it is raining cats and dogs. (And you left your umbrella at home.)

You enter your chosen Indonesian restaurant in the pouring rain to hear from the owner that he doesn't open until 5:00 pm, and "No, you can't sit and wait for the restaurant to open." Even if it is pouring rain!

You go to Starbucks for coffee while you wait for your restaurant to open, and the girl sitting next to you is speaking Norwegian.

You can't get your OV transportation card to work in the tram, and the conductor has to help.

You find the last empty seats on the tram.

The conductor shouts out in English that everyone standing should move to the front of the tram, "because there is more room over there than over here."

The conductor shouts out in English. "we are arriving at the Dam Square, Madame Tussauds, and the Red Light District. And a lot of other things."

You fall all over your fellow train passengers while making your way to a seat on the train from Amsterdam to the Beltway Apartment.

You sit in an S (silence) train wagon and smash your knee into the metal trash container attached to your seat.

You write this blog post while sitting on the train using FREE WIFI


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guess Who Came to Dinner in Olst?

For my faithful blog followers, you will remember that my Dutch husband and I had the pleasant opportunity to have dinner on a real Dutch farm with the family of four precious daughters and four other guests last November. Click Here

While browsing the Internet this afternoon, I found this local newspaper article about our dinner at "De Riet." We had to laugh when we read about how we were described. 

Here is the text and a translation:

Bij De Riet in Olst schoof een oud-buurtgenoot aan die met zijn vrouw inmiddels al meer dan twintig jaar in de Ohio (USA) woonde en toevallig op vakantie in Nederland was. Zo was elke etentje uniek en bijzonder. 

"At De Riet in Olst, an old (former) neighbor and his wife who have lived more than twenty years in Ohio (USA) were by chance on vacation in The Netherlands and joined in for dinner. So each dinner was unique and interesting."

About the only thing they got right about us in this article is that we are "old." 

But the dinner was outstanding and delicious!

That is correct and the truth!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fishy Business

Recently someone asked what I did to fill my time since I was retired. As far as I know, that person has never worked, so I should have asked what they have been up to for all these years. But I didn't show disrespect and said I puttered in the garden and wrote a blog. Neither seemed to interest the questioner, so end of that discussion.

I enjoy those "don't have to do anything right now" moments, but this morning I had some fishy business to handle.

Back in early November 2014, we visited my blog friend Alie's Huisje Weltevree kringloopwinkel De Boelschuur in Urk. The winkel was grand, meeting Alie was even grander, and coming back to the Beltway Apartment with 10 kilos (22 American pounds!!) of frozen fish was astonishing! We were so overwhelmed by the fish gift from Alie that we found a place for it in the freezer and left it in Deventer over the winter. For the last few weeks I have been trying to get up the nerve to "tackle" the fish. 

Last week my hub's cousin gave us a long fish poaching pan. And it works on the top of our induction heat cooktop! So yesterday I took the huge bag of schol fish out of the freezer, put the bag in a large bucket in the pantry, and waited for it to thaw. In the meantime, I peeked into the bag and saw lovely headless spotted schol. Lots and lots of them.

This morning I checked the bag of fish. Noted they were thawed but still quite cold and searched for a simple poached fish recipe. My goal was to poach everything and then put most of the cooked fish into the freezer for other meals. No special flavors on the fish, just poached fish. I found a recipe and then went to work. This is what I did:

Simple Poached Schol Fish Recipe

Rinse each headless/cleaned fish in clear/cool running water.

Slice up 4-5 medium sized onions and a half garlic bulb and place in the bottom of the fish poaching pan. (Mine has a shelf that can be lifted out.) Then add lots of water. (Fish must swim!)

Bring this to a rolling boil.

Add a few fish to the boiling water. (I had room for 4-5 fish to poach without stacking them on top of each other.)

When the water returns to a good boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and turn the heat down so the pan will not boil over. At the end of 5 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp of the fish. (According to my recipe, it should register 175F (80C). In most cases, I gave the fish a couple of minutes more heat to hit that point.)

If you are planning to serve the fish immediately, prepare your fish sauce and veggies and enjoy.
In my case, I had 17 (yes, you read right) fish and planned to eat three tonight and freeze the rest. So I carefully wrapped the poached fish in aluminum foil ( 2-4 to a package) and cooled them for freezing.

As always, the worst part of this fishy business is the clean-up. But that is done, and tonight's fish dinner just needs a sauce, some rice, and veggies. 

Then dinner is served!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Not Etsy, But "Etsie"

I am not trying to sell anything here. While preparing for our trip to the Late Rembrandt exhibit next week, I ran across this bit of technology. If you are interested, click on the Make Your Own Etsie under the "etsie" of my son. Have fun!

More later this week about the train trip to Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum visit.

Make Your Own Etsie


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some Real Characters in a German Garden on an Early Spring Day

(Everyone knows that I am no language wonder, so this visit to a garden in Germany yesterday may have a few German relatives ready to tell me to stick with English. But I enjoyed the garden and the fun characters I photographed there.)

"Willkommen" in our "Garten."

There are "Vogels."

And "Damen."

And a "Prinz."

And, of course, "Herren."

And more "Herren."

A hedgehog "Haus."

And a "Wasser" feature.

"Feders von Vogels"


Just like a girl's "Hut."


"Primel" in a vintage pan.

"Lampe" for a cloudy day or dark night.

"Guten Tag!" Hope you enjoyed a visit to our German "garten."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hankie Quilt--Something to Do

On a recent visit to a local thrift shop, I picked up these new hankies for about 5 cents each.  After squaring up one hankie, I used it as my pattern for trimming up the other 30 with scissors.

After sorting the handkerchiefs out and snapping a couple of photos, Hub helped me choose my first arrangement (below) as the one I will use for piecing.

Now to sit down at the hand crank sewing machine and get this quilt top together.

The winning choice:

Here were the other options:

This last one is my second pick.

Oh, sunshine! Time for getting outside. This quilt top can wait!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Easter Tree 2015

As I rarely get around to putting up a Christmas tree in December, this Easter tree idea is even more out of my character. But this week at the really great thrift store out in Wijhe, I found some little packages of Easter bunnies and chicks and eggs I could use on an Easter tree.

I always wanted to purchase a bunch of curly twigs for such a tree, so on Friday I finally broke down and paid the 2 Euros for sticks. After decorating with my thrifty buys and a few plastic eggs that have been sitting in the buffet drawer for a few years, here is the result:

(And, no, this tree has a better place on the coffee table. The lighting and background are just too bad today.)

Another view.

These are not vintage decorations, but cute anyway.

This couple remind me of my son's Sylvan Bears from 30 years ago.

Eggs, chicks, and rabbits. What else do you want a couple of weeks before Easter?

Bunny mobile.

Now back to the coffee table before Hub knocks it over.

(psssst! Two plastic eggs tumbled onto the hard floor and cracked. Oh, well. They were nice for a few hours.)

Have a Bles-id Sunday!

Lately there has been a lot of discussion in the news about the greeting using the word "blessed." 

When we moved back down south nine years ago, we started hearing "have a blessed day" quite a lot. The expression doesn't make me feel uncomfortable, and I have convinced myself that most folks who say it do so just as someone years ago would have said, "now, ya'll come back, ya hear."

What worries me most about the blessed day thing is that few people who use it pronounce the "blessed" part correctly.  

When used as an adjective (as in blessed day), blessed is pronounced (bles-id).

Now have a bles-id Sunday and ya'll come back later for my Easter tree photos.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Things are Looking Up!

We may be staying in the "low country," but the Beltway Apartment is on level 3 of this old school built back in 1912. Besides trying to get in my daily 30 minutes or more of walking, I have been also trying to use the Art Deco stairways whenever possible.  And this is what I earned:

Now, how cool is that?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In My Next Life as a Plumber

When we built our home in Wetcreek back in 2006-2007, we had difficulty finding a plumber. Not a good plumber. Just a plumber.

The plumber our builder found did the initial work, presented the bill, and then refused to itemize the bill. When I asked for a discussion about the bill, he told me to forget it. He said that I owed him nothing. 

You guessed it! He got nothing from me. And his uncooperation caused us headaches. We had to find a plumber who could use his own imagination about what had already been done before he arrived. 

Luckily my brother knew a young fellow who was trying to get his Allstar business up and running, and we were able to get our plumbing work done. This young fellow did not always answer his cell phone when we called, but I learned to call from different phone numbers (the phone at my dentist, for example), and he would answer. Caller ID isn't always helpful for the caller, unfortunately.

Recently we ended up installing our own kitchen faucet when no plumber wanted to come out into the country to our house in Wetcreek. Since that dizzying experience for my hub, we have seen some handy ideas on television handyman shows for future installations. Gosh, let's hope that won't be necessary!

If all goes well today, we can say goodbye to our Dutch plumber. Last week he and Colin installed a new water heater, and today they installed a new bathroom ventilation system and a new (old) heater for the spare bedroom here at the Beltway.

As I said at the onset of our home building in 2006, in my next life I will return as a plumber. Here is a list of the necessary items that I will take along to "finish" my jobs:

1.  Two plastic buckets
2.  Many large towels or rags to mop up water
3.  Shop Vac
4.  Floor mats or floor protectors
5.  My own coffee/tea/bottled water
6.  My own cookies

You guessed it! Our Dutch plumber (who also helped us with our Zoeterwoude farmhouse remodeling almost 30 years ago!) never brings the items mentioned above. Items 5 and 6 I have learned are the norm here in Nederland. 

As for the rest, a good plumber needs to bring items 1-4 and use them!

Hmmm! In another lifetime, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Food from Morocco Tonight

I wasn't really impressed with our meal plan on our trip to Morocco.

Finally, for the last dinner in the hotel in Marrakech, we had couscous. I was beside myself!! No one else in the buffet line seemed to know what it was or even care. They were all shovelling in the potatoes and desserts!

Tonight at the Beltway apartment, we are eating beans from Morocco and salmon filets from the Faroe Islands (Danish territory between Scotland and Iceland).

Shame that we had to go back to The Netherlands to eat the food we could have had on vacation.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring Fever

Sunday was as close to spring as we will probably get while we are here at the Beltway apartment. 

At one moment out on the balcony in the sun the temperature was 32 degrees Celsius. For you Fahrenheit folks, that is warm. 90 degrees F warm! 

And I was sweating bullets while washing the balcony windows. The temperature only lasted a few minutes, and the windows were sparkling clean in no time. I really shouldn't complain, since I only wash the windows here at the Beltway about twice each year. 

I'll have lots of dirty windows waiting for cleaning when we get back to Wetcreek in three weeks.

It is 5:00 a.m. here. Hub has finally stopped coughing, so I'll sneak back in bed and see if I can get some rest. 

Don't know who is sicker. Hub with the flu or me sick of him being sick. 

Good night.

Friday, March 6, 2015

On The Street Where We Live (at the moment)

What do you do when you are having trouble breathing from a bad cold? 

I take a walk. On the street where we live.

Care to come along?

A dentist office just down the Beltway. Actually my hub lived in this house many years ago. His grandpa had this house built for the family.

No pumpkins growing here in the bushes. But orange balloons are always appropriate in Nederland.

Entrance to the cemetery.

View across the street of the colorful vehicles.

In case of deep snow, this water meter locator is hard to miss. Love the color!

Olive trees in the front yard. Low maintenance yard!

Crocus vacation?

Another low maintenance yard. 

Candy sweet automobile colors.

Speaking of candy, isn't this a sweet bike?

At the local bike shop, there are plenty to "sweeten" up.

In front of the teak shop, there are huge colorful treats for your home.

Another former home of my hub. His name is even on a stone near the front door. 

Across the street is Dennis's flower shop. Perfect location in front of the cemetery.

A view to the right gives a glimpse of a mosque with a round minaret.

And our friends at our hairdresser look for us a couple of times each year.

On the Beltway!

Almost home.

Snowdrops, but no snow.

Hub is recouping up in the top right apartment.

Yes, the one with two little triangle rooftops and the balcony.

Velux windows on the side.

A large home across the street from the Beltway apartment.

Just a few more steps along the new sidewalk.

A turn to the right at the old agricultural school where bamboo is out of control.

Not sure anyone lives in this house. There is a big plywood board in the front window. Definitely not Dutch!


Still two vases in the front windows like a couple of years ago.  Not much changes here.

New baby girl in this house.

Now which child would not want to climb these rocks?

Wow! This patio/yard looks special!

Even their side yard looks classy.

But not this!

What fun! A real Dutch view!

Back at the rear gate to our apartment, I turned around and shot this. My hub was born in that deserted hospital in the background. (almost 70 years ago!!!)

View from the elevator.

There will be 40+ houses built behind the Beltway apartment soon. Really thought they would have begun work on them. 

Wonder what the folks in the houses on the right are going to do with their community garden?