"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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Caterpillar life for him.....

Anyone who spends time with Jos realizes that there is a great sense of humor under his serious exterior. He keeps my family laughing. He used to have to travel to America once a year for his work. A couple of years ago, he came home and unpacked his suitcase showing me what he bought while he was there. He proudly showed me his new boots. He had worn out his previous pair and needed some new ones. But these shoes were from the construction equipment company Cat. He loves these work boots and wears them every day, any season...well not with his suits he wears daily to work mind you. *wink* You see his job has nothing to do with Cat bulldozers or anything of the sort.

It started to become a joke that he would lift up his pant legs and tell me to look at his Cats, even in public. My mother and I laugh our heads off at him. Did I tell you that I am married to a lovable nut? *grins* Whenever we see one of these bulldozers parked, I ask him if we should buy it to match his shoes.

So when we were in the grocery store Lidl today, he found these. They only had one pack left in his size. PERFECT! Home they came to match his shoes...

See! I snapped this photo of him last year when he was teasing me again while we were at the open air museum here in Holland. I think he might have liked to take the truck was standing beside home too. They don't make them like this anymore.....him or the truck. *grins*

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sweet as a daisy.....

When you sit in the living room of our house, you look out onto the terrace. We have a table right outside the sliding glass doors. I like to decorate the table since it is pretty to look at from inside. I use a couple of pots on the table. I decide in the spring each year which flowers I want to use for the outdoor season. I filled my large pot with small white garden daisies this year and the small pot had a miniature mum in it. They bloomed so well until there was not a flower left.

Since the outdoor season is not yet over, I want to replace it with something bright and colorful. I found this Callistephus or China Aster. This flower was new to me. I have had the small purple asters in my garden but this blousey and bold pink China aster is one I have never seen at the garden center before. This flower makes me think of fireworks.

It is a joy to see nice things on the patio table each day. Just grouping things together make a still life. Our white daisies bloomed so well all summer but are a little tired as the season draws to a close but they are perked up by the pink explosion of color beside them.

While I had the little bird from a couple of years ago, I found this plaque this year and thought it would work nicely with the look.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Seasons start to merge....

...at this time of year. We had to drive to pick out our tiles for the shower room in the new house. Our drive took us through many beautiful villages and scenery in the Dutch province of Drenthe. We found some wonderful tiles that give a look of a washed out driftwood effect.

Hunting tiles is hungry business so we stopped in to have lunch at 't Oelnbret in Dalen. We discovered this restaurant when we went up to the tile warehouse a couple of months ago and just loved it. Since the weather was just right, we sat outside on the terrace and had our lunch. I had a 'boerensalade' (farmer's salad) and a glass of rosé wine. Now I do not like rosé wine but last time we went to the restaurant, the owner gave me a glass of it to try as she said I don't like it because I have not had a really good one yet. It was so good that I ordered a glass this time when we had our lunch. It is called Whispering Angel. Jos had a wheat beer and homemade tuna salad sandwich. The garden was planted with many of the old fashioned Dutch plants like dahlias so we really enjoyed sitting here.

Autumn is starting to show through right now in little ways. The heather is starting to bloom which always tells me autumn in blowing our way. What is more typical Dutch countryside than a windmill? This one dates back to only 1902 which means it is not even that old but really stood out against the blue skies dotted with light and fluffy clouds.

The corn is standing high in the fields but will be harvested soon. All through this drive, we saw farmers rushing to harvest their hay from the fields. There was rain predicted for the next day.

After buying some new potatoes at a local farm, we came across these guinea fowl wandering around on the road. They took their good old time crossing the road.

And off they went into a nearby polder...

See the grass drying in the field ready to be bailed up for winter feed for the cows?

What better sign of autumn than pumpkins???

We stopped in a garden nursery in the village of Noord Sleen and I bought this dish. It is a concrete dish made using a rhubarb leaf as a form. The woman who owns the nursery said her daughter makes them each spring and they sell them in the autumn. The reddish color in the middle is actually from the red in a rhubarb leaf.

They allow you to pick pumpkins for in the dish. I got all green and white pumpkins and gourds for mine. I will wait until September to buy any orange ones but loved this look together. When autumn is passed, the dish can be used as a bird bath.

Our cool and grey days are also echoing autumn.

Are you noticing any signs of autumn or are you still in the throws of summer where you live?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A pot of warmth.....

A good way to be frugal is to eat seasonal vegetables. Right now, one of the vegetables in Holland that is cheap to buy due to it being in season is cauliflower. You can buy some beautiful large heads of it for only 89 cents in some shops. I purchased one so large this week that we had to cut up and place half in the fridge for later.

The other half was used to make our dinner for tonight. Since it has become cooler, I am feeling very cold. Back to a warm pair of socks and a sweater to keep me warm. Another favorite way to keep warm is a hot bowl of soup! One of my favorite pastimes in making soup so I wanted to share this Scandinavian Cauliflower soup with you.

Cut up your cauliflower into flowerlets.

Slice two onions.

Boil two cups (500ml) water with two vegetable bouillon tablets. Add onion to the boiling water.

Also add the cauliflower and bring back to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for approximately 20 minutes. The cauliflower must be soft and tender so this time may vary. Check it on and off by pricking with a fork.

Once tender, blend the mixture together. Do not drain the bouillon before blending. As you see, I use a hand stickblender but you can use a regular blender for this also.

Make a simple rue by melting two tablespoons of butter (30 gram) and stirring in two tablespoons of flour (30 gram) until it is smooth and bubbly. Gradually add a cup of water (250ml) to the mixture. Let it come to a boil stirring constantly.

Add the rue to your blended cauliflower and allow to heat to a boil. Salt and pepper the soup to taste. I use freshly ground pepper and sea salt.

Finally, pour in one cup of low fat half and half (250ml gemengd koffiemelk met halfvolle melk). Once again allow to heat up to (but not) boil. Serve in a bowl with grated nutmeg and your soup is ready! Eat this soup with a chunky bread as it is wonderful dipped in the soup.

Cauliflower soup is delicious served hot or cold. A perfect thing to make up and serve at a picnic!

I hope my soup will warm you body and soul! I find many people who say they normally are not fans of cauliflower do enjoy this recipe. Why not give it a try?

Monday, August 2, 2010

On the shelf.....

I had mentioned a while ago that Jos and I had put up some wallpaper on one wall in Cranberry Cottage. We used vlies wallpaper which really goes up easily since you spread the paste on the wall and not the paper. It is thick and covered a good deal of problems starting to show on the 35 year old dry walls. We thought this might be a good solution instead of having to go to the great expense of either replacing the walls or having them plastered. It worked so well that I want to now continue with a lighter color of this wallpaper on the other walls.

We picked a sea grey green wallpaper and it really makes the color of the brick in the fireplace come out much nicer now. The paper is so thick that it feels like fabric on the wall when you touch it and it is a perfect match to our couch.

I wanted to take time to decide what to do with the wall as I just did not like the look of the hooks and rail for a quilt which I had hanging there previously with the new look. I found some decorative shelf holders (sorry but I forgot to take a photo of them close up) for our new house. They seemed just right for here instead so we bought a beechwood shelf and stained it. I slipped a rod in the scrolling of the shelf holders for one of my small quilt to hang. I plan to take up my green and beige fabrics to see what ones I want to use and create a few more quilts in the right size to hang here. It will be nice to be able to change them also throughout the year.

Now I can continually change my decorations on this shelf throughout the changing seasons. It will be nice to have space to do that in the tiny cottage. I have been wanting to have a mantle made for the fireplace to do that but we still have not gotten around to finding a carpenter to make one for it. Now I have this shelf and the prospect of 'playing' with it. *grins*

For summer, I have three plants on the shelf with some glass tea light holders, a wool felt picture from a little shop in the village and some gifts I received from Ria - a snail - and Sonja - an iron pinecone tea light holder.

Having done this wall only seems to make me have itchy hands to get busy with the other walls. I am also searching for a lamp that is just right to sit on the shelf. Any excuse to shop is a good thing right? I have not found one so far but I am sure I will with time. In the meantime, let me leave you today with the saying on the wool felt picture.....

"Let me live in my house by the side of the road
and be a friend to man."