"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, November 29, 2009

People and places.....

This past Saturday was the 1st anniversary of a wonderful shop in the little village of Havelte. The shop In Den Uylenbal is full of wonders this time of year. The owners Lejo en Christy are such nice people too. The shop was all decked out for Christmas. It was nice to walk from room to room and I must admit that I do so a couple of times. I found a nice addition for my decorations at the cottage which you can see how I used on the photos.

Later in the afternoon, we drove out to the garden nursery that we regularly buy from to get something for on my table by our front door for the Christmas season. The two ladies who work at the cash registers were there and one found me as I was searching for plants. She said it had been so long since she saw me and was everything okay. Then she ran into Jos who was still out in parking lot as she helped an elderly couple take their things to the car where she talked to him. When I went to pay for my plants, she walked away for a moment and then back to the cash register with this bouquet of flowers. She said it was from them all there for all I have been through this year. Wasn't that incredibly nice of her?

Now this morning, I am laying on the couch after just returning from the oral surgeon. My tooth has been removed and the infection cleaned up. I am hoping it won't hurt too badly when the shots wear off. He gave me four of them to be certain I would not have pain while he was working on it. I am already starting to get a swelling the size of a walnut in my jaw so I am afraid it is going to be baby food for the coming week. Jos bought me a chocolate milkshake on the way home which I am slowly drinking for lunch. What a start to the week don't you think? I have learned my lesson that if I don't trust a dentist then I need to make him stop and seek further help. There was a needle sticking out of the tooth when it came out. I don't think that was part of the root canal? I have to ask my dentist yet since I forgot to ask the surgeon by the time he was done with the procedure, but I think my dentist's guess that a wire or needle had broken and was left in the jaw was correct. He thought this was perhaps what caused the infection. It has been four years of having pain and the infection causing an abcess. Glad that is over with and now my new dentist can make a bridge.

So today will be sitting wrapped up in my mother's afghan with a book or some stitching. What are you doing this Monday?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Was it all worth it???

In a word, yes! We are really happy with how our laminate floor looks and I have decided I definitely don't hate laminate floors. *grins*

We had to work alongside the man that laid the floor moving our large furniture as he worked. We had put it all in two rooms and then moved it back when he finished a section so he had space again to work further.

We feel like our upstairs is finally complete with this beautiful old floor boards look. The bedroom is back in place so I am sharing it with you. Our other rooms are still a work in progress as we have so much to bring back upstairs yet and a few items needing changed around. We are changing my quilt studio and guest room around.

The room finally looks like it is finished and bigger also. Right now I am too busy to sit in my reading corner with a book but I am looking forward to it.

And now for the two winners of this week's giveaway...

Set 1 goes to DonnaTN
Set 2 goes to Regina

Congratulations to you both. I will get them out in the mail as soon as possible. Please contact me with your address. I think I do have yours Donna but not sure I still have Regina's.

The next giveaway will be announced later today on AllMyScatteringMoments which is my handwork blog. Join in there as I am looking forward to sending you a set of coasters too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back to the boxes

This weekend is back to boxes and carrying as much as possible downstairs. Oh my! It is amazing to learn how much we have gathered in the 13 years of living in this house. I am still busy selling some things online. Many asked me about it but I am using a Dutch site which is similar to Ebay called Marktplaats. This selling is hard work. *grins* It is taking a good bit of time each day but I am bringing in money from unused items. I am hoping to pay for the laminate flooring but that might be stretching it. I already got enough to pay for the new furniture though. I am close to being able to pay for the floor to be laid so I am pleased. Every little bit helps, right?

We just ran into our neighbors at the DIY shop who were worried perhaps Jos was laid off as they saw his car home too often. We told them it was because of all this work. We have missed three weekends at Cranberry Cottage. Will the tiny house let us in the front door when we are able to go up north again??? There are four or five men in our little street now unemployed. It is scary if you think about it too much. So I will not think about it as I have enough on my mind at the moment.

Our floors are being cleaned well before the floor is laid and, if I can help it, our home will be as well dusted as I can get it.

The giveaway continues now this week and here are the next two sets I have ready for two lucky winners. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. It does not matter if you already won some. I just love giving! I will draw names this coming Wednesday. Good luck to you all again.

Edit: Please remember that if you do not have a blog to leave me your email address or I will not be able to enter you in the drawing. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A dose of beauty!

Sometimes life brings you happy moments just when you need them most. After reading my last entry, you know we are sitting in the midst of total chaos in our home. It is even worse now but as the saying goes...things can only get better. We continue to pack up things are carry them downstairs. It is wonderful to make you purge and part with things. But everyone needs a break and dose of beauty every now and then.

I had made arrangements to take one of my friends from my quilt group out as she had to miss our group's day out for High Tea. She rarely is able to go along because of her job. I promised her a chance to still do the High Tea when she was able. The timing could not have been better as we went on Tuesday. I needed a dose of beauty and got it in spades!

We went to an old Dutch farm called De Espeterhoeve. This farm is being used as a combination of lifestyle and floral shop and a tea shop. They recently added a new thing to the menu which is a Cafe Plateau. My friend is a coffee drinker and I thought she would like this better than having High Tea. I was not sure what to expect but it was wonderful and perfectly arranged as normal by this tea shop. You are greeted and shown to your table after which they bring you each a tray of French style morsels to enjoy with your coffee.

Bep and I then spent time going through the lifestyle and floral shops to enjoy all the pretty things and get ideas for brightening our home and garden in the coming dark season.

Wicker bells are big here this year.

I wish I could have taken this beautiful oblong urn home with me. It was far too pricey but did give me an idea of how to dress up my own urn at home.

I have these lighted branches in brown and white and now have some new ideas of how to use them. The first arrangement was using real tree branches mixed with them and then tea light holders from "poor man's silver" hung from them.

The second display was using pine boughs with the white lit branches and then hanging pearl berries and white ornaments from the branches. I think this would be beautiful with any color of ornaments.

This simple display of boxwood in tall containers was so pretty as it started to get dark in the afternoon and the pretty fairy lights outlined the form.

A long pine branch becomes a fetching decoration when you add a red bow, apples, pinecones and berries. I loved the length of this. I am definitely going to try making one of these.

So I came home contented with the gift of friendship and full of inspiration to give my own garden a pretty new look for winter. Now all I need is the time to start...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dangerous! Do not try this at home!

My bright ideas should always come with a warning label. Well, this time it was not exactly a bright idea of my own but doctor's orders. This cannot be good for me health right? *grins*

Our living room is a disaster area with boxes, Kleenex, furniture, Kleenex, stacks of quilts, Kleenex, bedding, Kleenex, lamps, Kleenex....well you get the picture. It would have been easier to simply move out. As it is there is still tons upstairs and you can only move in small paths to the couch and kitchen. How did we ever accumulate so much??? By the way, the Kleenex is for my running nose and not crying although I have seriously considered it as we moved all this stuff.

We had an emotional weekend as we both realized how much we do have. It has really hit us that we keep too much. And I always thought I was good about getting rid of things I no longer love and use. I also realized my quilting hobby is out of control. I can stock a shop. *wink* So we are listing a number of things online so we can clean out the house and perhaps earn some back as well. Wish us luck?

I am going to hold a sale for my quilt group to try and reduce my fabric stash as the doctor says that it sitting around is not helping. I made a joke two summers ago to Jos that my quilting was making me sick as I was spending entire days at a time in my quilt studio. What I did not realize is that it was true.

We know this is going to help as I have bad reactions to having everything out and pulling up the carpet. How can a bug invisible to the eye reek so much havoc??? We have two bedrooms yet to do and will have to come up with a way to move as much as possible of the large furniture into one room while the floor is laid in the others. It is a shame we cannot empty the upstairs totally but in Holland we have armoire wardrobes for our clothes and they are just too heavy to move down the steps.

I have drawn three names for my first of the ongoing giveaway. The winner of set 1 is ElizabethD, set 2 is WildRose (Marie) and set 3 is Susan in SC. Congratulations to all three! Please email me your address so I can get these in the mail to you this week.

There will be more sets placed on my handwork blog All My Scattering Moments so you can try again there. And join me for the next sets here later in the week...

Hoping you are having a happy and perhaps clutterfree Monday!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sint is in Holland and gift giving time...

Today, SinterKlaas arrived on his steamboat in Holland. It is always a big day when Sint and his helpers, Zwarte Pieten, arrive. From tonight, the children can place their shoes by the fireside for a special treat. This is done each Saturday evening until December 5th. On the evening of December 5th, SinterKlaas will leave a burlap sack filled with gifts for all the good girls and boys.

During our vacation, we had visited the open air museum and I purchased a set of nostalgic postcards of SinterKlaas. I have a frame saved to use for them. The little shop has an email address which you can see if you enlarge the photo. I am not sure if they have a webshop. Isn't the bag neat?

So my frame can be hung for the coming weeks...

The kruidnootjes (tiny ginger cookies) have been purchased which are a special treat we buy the week The Sint arrives. There are many wonderful speculaas treats in the shops now. Speculaas are my favorite cookies and I also collect the cookie moulds.

As this is the season of giving, I have decided that I am going to hold an ongoing giveaway on both of my blogs for the coming weeks. Each week, I will draw names from each blog and the winner will receive a set of four holiday coasters which I have handmade.

I came up with this idea when I knew my dust mite allergy was so severe and I now have to get rid of as much of my quilt stash as possible. I thought what better why to reduce fabrics than making gifts to share with others. It is my way of saying Happy Holidays to you my special blogging friends. I will show the coasters each week and allow you to choose if you want to enter the drawing for a specific set or all of them. Just leave me a comment on this post along with the sets you would like to win. If you like them all then please tell me to enter you for all three drawings.

I will pick a winner in a couple of days. I gave away a few of these sets last year on my handwork blog. If you won last year, you can still try again for another set this year. You can enter each week if you like, even if you have won. Since you get a set of four, you will have a larger set if you win a second time. I just love the idea of giving this year!

If you do not have a blog then you must leave me your email address in order to enter. If you do not want to leave it on a comment, please go to my profile page where you can email me.

So with no further delay, here are the three sets you can win this week...

Set 1 is red and beige with a green background...

Set 2 is black and red poinsettias and green with a gold background...

Set 3 is burgundy and green with a green background...

Good luck!

Dutch SinterKlaas song:

Zie ginds komt de stoomboot,
uit Spanje weer aan.
Hij brengt ons Sint-Nikolaas,
ik zie hem al staan.
Hoe waaien de wimpels,
al heen en al weer.
Hoe huppelt zijn paardje,
het dek op en neer.
Zijn knecht staat te lachen,
en roept ons reeds toe:
"Wie braaf is krijgt lekkers,
wie stout is de roe."

The translation to English:

See there arrives the steamboat,
From Spain again.
It brings us Saint Nicolas,
I see him standing there already.
Look how the flags,
Flutter back and forth.
Look how his little horse,
Hops up and down the deck.
His servant stands there, laughing
And he shouts at us:
"Who's good, gets sweets,
Who's bad, gets the whip."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Did I say I hate laminate flooring???

Yes, I have always said I hate laminate flooring. I had it in my previous home upstairs in the bedrooms. It was a light beech and terrible for always looking dirty as well as sounding awful when you walked on it. When I was told by my doctor this month that I have an allergy to dust mite and need to get the carpeting upstairs replaced, we had choices. We could take up the carpet and use the even more awful yellow vinyl floor already down which is exactly what was on the floor in the rehabilitation center physical therapy room where I spent four years working on my bad back and condition for fibromyalgia. Not an option!

We could have new vinyl flooring laid in a nicer pattern but Jos hates vinyl flooring so ... not an option.

We could invest money in a real wood floor ... not an option.

We could go pick out laminate flooring and have it laid quickly by a man that is going to come in just over a week. Now I first said no but everyone says laminate is not like it used to be. I have same floor as our previous home in Cranberry Cottage. It is still for sale and extremely cheap to buy but not very nice. We went off to the DIY market yesterday and were surprised at how much choice there is now in laminate. The man that is laying the floor gave us lots of good advice on choosing the floor.

Nowadays, they even make the laminate with V groves so it looks so much like a real wood floor. But I have to have something we can clean well and keep as dust free as possible so we choose a smooth French antique gray oak floor. Sorry for the glare on the photo. I took it through the plastic packaging. We like how this floor seemed to come to life as there are many tones in the floor and had a matte finish. We wanted to keep the upstairs light too. I am anxious to see how this will look. It is a little frightening after always not wanting a laminate floor.

The dust mite allergy is what caused my chronic airways infection. I am now using asthma medication which is helping wonderfully. At the moment, I am busy working on special giveaway gifts in my quilt studio which is really hard on my breathing. I will not only be getting rid of the carpet but must also reduce my fabric stash in the studio.

So once again, my house will be in total disorder for the coming two weeks. It seems we only just got the repair work completed from the leak and now my downstairs will be full again with things we have to bring down from up. Yikes! I am not looking forward to this. I think I can feel a decluttering bug coming on!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dutch version of comfort food

We stayed in the city this weekend as Jos has a couple of kidney stones and we want to be home in case he has too many problems. It is cool and was pouring rain this afternoon here so comfort food is in order. In Holland, one of the winter favorites is "stamppot". This is made in various ways but I had promised Judy, a blogging friend, I would show how I make it with kale.

Peel potatoes and place in a large pan (I use a Dutch oven for those back in the US). Fill the pan half full with cut up potatoes (approximately 11 to 13 potatoes) and sprinkle with salt.

Top off the pan with chopped kale. Be sure you really fill the pan to overflowing as the kale is going to reduce as it steams. I always freeze my chopped kale which gives it a better taste and it can be placed direct from the freezer into the pan.

Place enough water in the pan to just cover the potatoes.

Cover and boil until the potatoes are soft. Your kale will steam on top of the potatoes.

In the meantime, I cooked a Dutch smoked sausage. This is in a vacuum package and is simply cooked in hot but not boiling water. You can use any sausage you like to go along with your "stamppot". Some people add chopped bacon to their "stamppot" too.

My own secret ingredient is adding herb cream cheese instead of butter as I mash the potatoes. Add a little milk as needed but the potatoes should be more sturdy than regular creamy mashed potatoes would be. This is done with an old fashioned hand masher. The dutch word for mashing potatoes in "stampen" which is where the word for this dish derives from.

I also made onion gravy but you can eat this without gravy also. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is a dish that warms you inside on a cold day.

I have a number of comfort foods that I enjoy making from time to time. This year, I am going to share some of my favorites throughout the winter season. Do you have a favorite comfort food?

Comfort? Did I say comfort? Jos loves goat's feet. No I do not mean literally a goat's foot but this cookie you see below. They are called "bokkenpootjes" which means goat's feet. I even found a recipe for these here online. My quilting friend Joke (pronounced Yo-ka) and her husband Gerard stopped by this week and brought giant "bokkenpootjes" for him as a surprise. I placed them beside a slice of bread to show you how large they were. They were absolutely delicious and we thank Joke and Gerard very much for their thoughtfulness!

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do I look like a pincushion???

This is the question I asked myself this afternoon. No seriously, don't laugh. I had to go to the hospital for an EMG. The electric shocks are one thing but when the neurologist inserted what he called a very small needle into my muscle to test even deeper, I told him I did not think he was a very nice man. He laughed and said fortunately his reputation was not damaged when he started this work. It was nice that he had a sense of humor too. His idea of a small needle is not my idea of a small needle. I hand quilt with number 12 betweens (the name for tiny quilt needles) and I would not want to stick that into my hand or leg either. *grins*

The photo is a giant pincushion I made for a stitching blogging friend of mine this past summer.

So tonight a little cozy candlelight is in order once again. It is raining outside as I write this and the sound of that rain ticking gently on my windows evokes my sense of love of handcrafts. There is nothing like this kind of weather to make you want to take a needle to hand.

Since I had just finished a quilt which you can see on my other blog, I picked up another project I started before I got sick to work on it once again. I have a goal to finish it by the end of this year along with a couple of other projects. This is a tiny quilt created with little stitchery blocks of the story of Noah's Ark. You can see more of the blocks by clicking here. This is a fun technique and easy to work on while talking or watching television. Shown below is the ark which I hope to finish this evening. I have five more blocks to go and am starting to sew them together now as I finish a section.

Needle and thread are the only therapy I need. It helps distract me from the terrible itching I have from the Hashimoto's disease. Well, until I have to go to sleep. We are finding that I am scratching myself until I bleed at night. *sigh* I hope the doctors come up with something to relieve this soon but in the meantime, it is not an extra neurological problem. Thanks to all of you for your words of support, prayers and good thoughts. I so appreciate each and every one of you!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Truly autumn.....

Don't you just love a rainy Sunday evening at home? Light a few candles and cover up with a warm blanket. What could be better?

When I was driving home from the hospital two weeks ago, I decided to stop in at a garden center that I love going to. They have the most wonderful displays in the autumn and winter. I always leave there with inspiration for my own home and garden.

So when I spotted these three lanterns, I was thrilled. This is the same garden center where I bought my mirror. As you can see, the mirror is darkening with time. I am sure these lanterns will too. They were in the little mark down room and I bargained with the lady if I took all three of them at once. There is nothing wrong with them but they were the last three they had of this model. I will create a different arrangement in them with each season. And for autumn? I placed a handful of leaves from my maple tree, a gourd and a candle. I used a tea light in a glass holder to avoid anything catching fire. I just love these and the pretty effect of autumn light on a rainy evening.

We are supposed to get some heavy winds this week so I expect the trees to empty of their beautiful leaves this week. We enjoyed all the color this weekend up at Cranberry Cottage. I think our warm and dry summer gave us nicer color this year. We had to drive through the countryside on Saturday so I could run a special errand for my blogging friend Tam. We really enjoyed the drive! And the errand? It was a success Tam and now I will email you for your address so I can send it off to you this week. *grins*

This photo is on the brink (village green) of Dwingeloo where we stopped for a cup of coffee and treat on the way back to the cottage.

How was your weekend?