"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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Inspiration in the shadows...

The shadow of silhouettes, that is. I have mentioned before how I love silhouettes and make them myself.

When we had our floor redone upstairs, we changed my quilt studio and the guest room around. I wanted to be sure this room was cozy to sleep in. But I also had been wanting to create a silhouette wall for some time and thought this room would be a perfect place for it.

To think that a silhouette was the poor man's portrait in the past. And I suppose making them myself means it is the modern day poor man's version as real silhouettes are not for the faint hearted wallets. *wink*

I just adore these shadows of the past. I mixed my wall with a few portraits with them.

There are a couple more needing framed so I can develop this silhouette wall even farther.

One trick to making them look great is to hunt for really good dark (preferably black) and gold frames. I am always on the lookout for nice frames.

My other love in the guest room is my starting collection of Persephone books. If you are not familiar with them, you can brouwse the bookshop site here. They are a joy to behold for any book lover. Since I only order two a year, my collection grows very slowly. I dream of being able to visit the bookshop on Lamb's Conduit Street or Kensington's Church Street in London. *sigh* Do any of you out there in blogland also have a weakness for these beautiful editions?

I do love using books to decorate in each room in my house. Do you have any special tricks for decorating with books? I will show you more of how I use books in my next blog post. Until then, I hope you are having a great day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What a shock!

Now I have heard often of people warning against photos being taken from blogs and used by others. Today I happened to discover that five of my photos were taken without my permission. I guess I will have to learn how to use a watermark on my photos after all. I found out they were taken through my own blog of all things too! I had to change my music when the old playlist no longer allowed access to Europe. I switched to MixPod and it works great. It even has a video built in which you can watch from the blog if the music you choose had a video attached. So while playing around seeing which of my songs have video, you can imagine my amazement when I clicked on Little Toy Village and saw many of the photos from my OWN village being used in this video. They are obviously my village and it is unique as it was handmade by my mother and sister. Even the wall rack where the village is set up is visible and that too was handmade by Jos and I.

Now had the person approached me to ask if they could use my photos, I would have probably said yes but I think I should have at least been asked! It is shocking to discover this. Humm...they could pay me in embroidery threads to compensate along with an apology if they are reading this blog. *grins*

You can see this video by clicking on my song list where it says video and then scroll down to the song Little Toy Village.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Soup's on...part two

This soup recipe is just about as simple to make as they come. I made Potato and leek soup on Thursday when Carolien came over to my house for some stitching and chatting. I enjoyed making it for her along with cheese and parsley scones. I want to perfect that recipe so I will share it with you later when I have tried some changes.

You will need 3 potatoes, one leek, two vegetable bouillon tablets, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Dice the potatoes and cut up the leek.

Saute the potatoes and leek in olive oil in a Dutch oven for about 10 minutes over a low fire. You do not want to brown them, just start the cooking process.

In the meantime, make 750 ml vegetable broth from the bouillon tablets.

Add the broth to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so that soup simmers for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Salt and pepper to taste and add milk (about 60 ml or 1/2 cup - I used my small mug full of milk).

This soup really has a great taste. We finished the little that was leftover for lunch today and it warmed up beautifully. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Soup's on...

During the cold days of January, there is little more comfort that can be found as that of a hot bowl of soup. I thought I would share a couple of my soup recipes with you this month. Now this Tomato and ravioli soup is a real stick to your ribs soup but still very simple to make. I never buy canned soups for us as making soup from scratch is easier than you think, rewarding to make and much tastier than anything from a can.

For this soup, you will need an onion, a leek, a package of ravioli, 2 cans of peeled tomatoes, a jar of grilled red peppers, 2 vegetable bouillon tablets, (fresh) basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Dice up the onion and cook in olive oil.

Slice and dice up the drained grilled peppers.

Add the grilled peppers and two cans of tomatoes with liquid to the pan. Chop up the tomatoes with a spoon in the pan. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

Make 750ml bouillon and add this to the soup. Allow the soup to cook again a further 5 minutes.

Cleaning a leek is easily done if you remove the green end and cut from just under the root to the end. If you want smaller pieces in your soup, cut again creating 4 sections. Let the leek rinse under cold running water to wash out any sand. Now cut your leek up in thin pieces.

Your soup should not be ready to puree before adding the last few ingredients.

Add the leeks.

Add a package of fresh pasta to the soup pan. I used porcini mushroom filled ravioli. You could also use tortellini. Salt and pepper the soup to taste.

Leave the soup to simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes. You must be sure your pasta is cooked. It may need to stay on longer.

Serve with ripped fresh basil leaves and a light sprinkling of flaked parmasan cheese. You can choose to add dried basil along with the pasta and any kind of cheese is optional. Enjoy this hearty soup with fresh bread.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Taking tea

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you."

~Gladstone, 1865

Do you take time out of your day, no matter how busy, to treat yourself to the art of taking tea? I can promise you that it will reward you. You will feel rewarded by having made time for this simple luxury that we can all afford. It will relax you and even change the pace of your entire day.

Make a small pot of your favorite flavour of tea. For me, that is strong English breakfast tea with a little milk. Be sure to use a pot as it does affect the taste of tea when made in a pot.

Take out a teacup and saucer. No mugs allowed when you really take tea. I promise you that tea taste better in a teacup and holding the cup will also influence your mind to slow down and relax for a few moments.

Perhaps you have a pretty spoon you purchased like me at a flea market? Or perhaps you even have one that is a family heirloom? Place the spoon on your saucer to remind you that you deserve this moment.

And enjoy a little cookie to nibble on. Almond biscotti is delicious with a hot cup of tea as one example. Don't feel like you cannot take tea alone. It is a way to pamper yourself and slow down in your day, whether you only have 15 minutes or an hour. Taking tea alone each day should become a necessity and not a luxury!

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future."

~Thich Nat Hahn

Painting above...Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin - Lady Taking Tea

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The winter tree.....

Christmas has come and gone along with all the trimmings. Yet don't you just miss the pretty white lights of your tree? I put up a winter tree each year for the month of January. It is such a pleasant sight in the evenings with the lights low and my handmade winter ornaments glistening on the branches.

It all started when I found a tutorial online to make mittens. I immediately thought it would be fun to create a winter tree but wanted more things than the mittens on the tree.

So I created some ice skates using a pattern in a Tilda book...

...and these scarfs which I came up with myself. There is a tutorial for these on my old handwork blog showing how I aged the ornaments also.

"Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again."

~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What do you do on a winter's day?

You go to the museum, of course. For some months now there is an exhibit in two museums in Holland of the Dutch realist painter Anton Mauve. I had been wanting to go to at least one of the two. The Singer Museum in Laren is not too far of a drive so we decided to go there. I had read information about this painter online after having seen advertisements about the exhibit. It was my first time to see his paintings and well worth the visit.

He painted Dutch landscapes in the village of Laren where he lived from 1885 to his death. These are some examples of the woman of the village which he painted in their daily life.

One of the things I loved about this exhibit was reading little excerpts from letters he wrote to his wife which were printed on the walls. I am going to include two of them and do my best to translate them to their due worth giving Anton Mauve's letters justice...

"Een mooi land, prachtige heide, schapen zijn er ook, magnifique rieten daken en zeer vriendelijke hoekjes".

'A beautiful countryside, pretty heather with sheep, magnificent thatched roofs and very cozy spots.'

"‘t Is aandoenlijk mooi hier, van een fijnheid van lijnen, een liefelijke poezij straalt uit alles, binnenhuizen, wegen, akkers, boschjes en de menschen is van ‘t liefste soort dat te bedenken is".

'It is movingly beautiful here, from the delicate lines, a sweet poetry streams from everything... inside homes, roads, fields, woods and the kindest people that one can think of.'