"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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Al fresco.....

For me, Easter weekend started on Good Friday as a day out with a friend. We went to a brocante market at a garden center but it was disappointing so we decided to drive further to a nice shop called Nostalgic Living where we found this lady on her nest. Now I am used to seeing storks up north near our cottage but this one was in the middle of Holland on what I found to be a rather low nest. She was happily brooding her eggs. I wonder how many she had???

We came back a little earlier than planned as Jos had called in the afternoon to tell me that he was laid off at work. They had warned this department on Wednesday evening that they were going to push through rush lay offs. He was on the list unfortunately.

We loaded the car and left for Cranberry Cottage as planned. Being there is always so restful. It was busy in our little dirt road but pleasantly so. We arrived and ate dinner. I had brought everything along to make us a nice big dinner salad. Since the Dutch weather is more like summer than spring, we went outside to clean our terrace ready for the coming days. Jos mowed the grass for the first time this season but sweetly mowed around these Cuckoo flowers (also called Lady's smock) for me. I loved seeing them in our garden.

We had all our meals outdoors! Even our breakfast became a treat as we sat out listening to the loud calling of all the birds in the woods. They are all very busily singing to their mates.

A drive to a local farm gave us an evening meal of day fresh white asparagus served in the traditional Dutch way. Even our potatoes are farm fresh. We drove back via Fochteloërveen to buy them. There is a farm there where they play around with various kinds of potatoes and grow the absolute best! They call this variety "bonbons of the clay".

The garden was starting to bloom and we enjoyed seeing where our forget-me-nots decided to come up this year. They always surprise you and do just what they want...

I planted this variety of old fashioned violets a couple of years ago. I love how they are spotted.

Breakfast on Easter morning was scrambled eggs with mushrooms, bacon bits, tomatoes and cheese. We enjoyed it with fresh bread rolls, orange juice and cafe au lait.

It was not all play as we took two of our old radiators apart and repainted them. They look refreshed now.

But there was plenty of time to just relax with warm baked ciabatta and homemade herb cream cheese with a glass of Prosecco, reading some magazines...

Neighbors popped into our garden to chat among the flowers. We are one of the few that have planted up a real flower garden in our little road.

Easter dinner was a pork tenderloin stuffed with brie. The local butcher is exceptionally good there. We often do not bother with meat when we have not been up north. We have been spoiled by his quality and would rather go without if it is not from him. I accompanied it with grilled herb tomatoes.

On Monday morning, as we sat outside having breakfast, we could hear the fire engines rushing to Fochteloërveen. As I mentioned, our weather has been so summer like and we are in need of rain in Holland. This weekend they moved the warning of code orange up to code red for forest fires. Unfortunately this beautiful area caught fire which is thankfully today under control again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter!


Here in Holland everyone is starting a long and unseasonably warm and sunny weekend. Many do have to work nowadays on Good Friday but we also have Easter Monday along with our Easter Sunday. The "normal" exodus of traffic started yesterday to spend the long weekend away at vacation hotspots. As for Jos and I, we are looking forward to spending it with our bird friends in the woods at Cranberry Cottage. I am taking a little blogging break.

Our floor is still not fixed and now shifting apart in more areas as there is one whole side removed. The man who did the floor is not reliable. *sigh*

This year, I created a little Easter arrangement in a bird cage. My bunny is protecting these eggs until the big day. *wink*

"Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!"
~ Thomas Blackburn

Happy Easter to all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


...are fun in the garden. We have a sour cherry tree in the back of the garden.

It is blooming now and snowing tiny white petals...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good books and bad house woes.....

This past week, I finished this book called The Frozen Lake by Elizabeth Edmondson. It is one of the best books I have read in a while. When I closed it after reading the last sentence, I just exclaimed WOW.

This book is about two families in the Lake District. When the lake at Westmoreland freezes over, people flock to the lake to skate, both visitors and family members. Returning brings back memories but also some secrets. Lies have a way of coming out.

This book is one I would recommend highly. It is the second book I have read by this author and will not be the last.

Murphy has returned to our home with vigor. Jos noticed a drip on our new radiator. The seal between the sections had broken and it was leaking. The company who makes these radiators gives great customer service and came to fix it. They replaced the ring but it was still leaking so they literally turned around and came back as they were on their way back to home. After trying three rings, the man contacted the company and a new radiator was decided.

We had to only wait two weeks as they rushed this order through and came back to replace it for us.

Then Murphy decided he was not done having his fun yet. After hearing our wood floors snapping for about a week and a half, it buckled up and split open in places. We could no longer close the studio door without getting stuck inside. Jos called the man who put in the floor who came and did this...

I am totally not happy with this as he had to order the hard wax and is going to put it back in no longer flush to the wall but with a flat plinth to cover the gap. This floor has been nothing but problems and I wish we had forced him to renovate our old floor under it as agreed. We feel like we were taken advantage of not knowing enough about the situation with great expense to us too. I will be glad when he finally comes back this week to put the new sections back in. Needless to say, the extra floorboards will be gone soon at this rate. The floor is the bedroom looks like it is going to start doing the same thing. You assume that someone who is certified knows what they are doing but we have our doubts anymore. If it gets any worse, we will have to file a complaint with the CBW insurance guarantee.

Why can't Murphy move off to someone else? But then I would wish him on no one!

In the meantime, I have been bitten by the spring cleaning and decluttering bug. I am going through cupboards pulling things that (although I love them) no longer work with our furniture or do not fit and am selling items. It is nice to see a little money come back from these items and space in our home. Do you enjoy doing some spring cleaning at this time of year?

We have spent the weekend planting up our garden and enjoying the nice weekend weather. Anyone gardening? No matter how your weekend looked, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April showers.....

It is that time of year...April showers have come so I thought it was a great time to show you another room in the house before and after renovations.

We started on this area as our first project in September 2010. The shower room had been open in the bedroom, only separated by a partial glass block wall which was open on both sides into the bedroom. The room smelled very damp as a result. Our handyman specializes in bathrooms and got stuck in removing the glass blocks. We were able to sell those right away which brought a little money back.

The sinks were tiny and very modern. There was one on each side of the shower itself. Attempts to sell these have failed. We already took over the mirrored cupboards to the charity shop and they told us they did not even want them to try and sell. Guess it was not only my own idea that they were awful when even a charity shop will not take them. *wink*

The door frame was in place and a wall was built around it. We created an opening a little wider than normal so that it is wheelchair friendly.

We used two of the walls as they are with the white tiles and added two new walls with a tile that worked with it.

Now we have a separate shower room in the downstairs bedroom as you see from the after photos.....

The newly built wall and small wall where the sink was is not part of a very large walk in shower. We choose tiles that have a drift wood look. They worked well with the existing tiles. I love the amount of space.....

We have a rack inside the shower as this area does not get wet and we can hang our towels out of the way as well as having shampoos and soaps to hand.....

My choice was an English rain shower. I just love this kind of shower and find it very relaxing. We were able to hang it nice and high for Jos who is tall so no more ducking under the shower head for him.....

After much searching, we found a mirror in the right size that has a driftwood look to match the tiles. We have a sink that looks similar to a Belfast sink. I am still searching for a wall lamp that I like.

The window frame still has to be painted. We had originally thought we would need to get a new window installed with a portion that opens but the electric ventilation along with the ventilation strip about window work well. We are going to go ahead and have this frame painted to match the rest of our woodwork and leave the window as it is.

This room has come up very well and we are very pleased with it. It is a luxury to have such a large shower.

April showers are also occurring inside the house as we encounter major problems with Murphy once again. More about that in my next post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The peace of sleeping.....

Not long ago I was asked again how I can stand having all the pillows on my bed once again. I am currently working on a piece of stitching while will be a new pillow for our bed. You can sneak a peek here. Reflecting recently on a blog post by Elizabethb about the simple pleasures of changing bed linen, I decided to reflect on my blog about this subject.

A bedroom should be a place you love. A place you come to rest and restore your body and soul. It should be a room filled with the things that you love that also bring you to a place of feeling filled with peace.

If you look at your bedroom, do you love it? If not, try and see what you need to do to change that. It does not have to take a great deal of money to create a place that pleases you. I spent money a couple of years ago on two really pretty sets of bed linen that I switch with each other.

I have much of my stitching on my bed and walls, patchwork quilts I have made both on my bed and placed around the room, pretty mirrors to reflect light, a granny square afghan my mother made for me, flowers to remind me of nature's beauty, books to read and even a reminder of childhood and a favorite aunt in a stuffed dog that is now tattered and well loved.

Each morning when I awake, I feel it is a blessing to make my bed up prettily which means I have been given another new day. It is never a chore but instead a joy!

"And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created."

~ D.H. Lawrence

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunshine yellows.....

Holland had a summer's day in the spring this weekend. Yesterday was just beautiful...sunshine and temperatures of 23C.

Jos and I had a trip across the border to Germany planned for Saturday morning. It is a favorite thing for us to do making a grocery shop run. We got a 3 or 4 of them buying things we love from there. We also bought some vegetables as they were much cheaper than in Holland.

We found these lunchtime mixed salads in the vegetable area marked down. They even had a little fork inside the salad bowl. A bottle of salad dressing, fresh rolls and a drink and we had a great lunch.

What better than to enjoy that sunshine eating our salads outdoors. We started back home and found a picnic table beside this lock on the Haren-Rütenbrock Kanal. For only a few euros, we had a wonderful lunch.

Then it was back to Cranberry Cottage to enjoy our own flowers. Lots of yellows in our garden at the moment. There are daffodils coming up through the grass...

The forsythia is showing off like tiny rays of sunshine...

The miniature daffodils are not as plentiful after a second long cold winter but are just now in bloom...

But there are other colors coming out in the garden such as the rose and blues of this lungwort...

The pinks of winter heather which was a surprise to see blooming as it was hit hard by the cold...

The winter white of the hellebores...

The bright blues of the dwarf periwinkel...

Or the browns of the delicious spice cookies called 'Drentse heideplaggen' as I sit with a hot cup of tea back home working on this blog entry. Life is full of color and that is good!