A memory of kindergarten

Most of my memories of my childhood are pretty vague. Some people have very clear memories, but I’m not one of them. Thinking about kindergarten make paper flowers pop up in my head. I had to make a huge paper flower and give it to someone. I remember being very sad I wasn’t allowed to keep it myself. But why did I had to make this flower and why must it be given away and to who?

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I looked trough my photo album and found this picture. My mom wrote that this was a saying goodbye to a teacher. Flipping trough that album I noticed 5 occasions where I had to say goodbye to teachers. Kindergarten teachers often where women and during the 80’s it was normal for women to quit their job when they got children.

I’m the girl in the middle, I do look sad. I remember my mom promised me  we would make a new flower, I can’t remember if we actual did make one.

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The Netherlands

I’m excited to give you a tour around my own country this time!

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a small country in Europe. It’s also known as Holland, but Holland is only a small part of the Netherlands. The picture on the left shows the Netherlands and only the yellow part is Holland. The country is divided in 12 provinces. The youngest province is called Flevoland, this is reclaimed land after closing the Zuiderzee. A big part of the Netherlands is below sea level. The picture on the right shows the areas that would be flooded without dikes.

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I’m getting a little confused with the lingo about ancient Netherlands, but if I understand it correct the oldest found human remains date from 248.000 BC. People have been living here for a long, long time. The first reports about this part of the world are related to the roman empire. At that time the Netherlands didn’t exists and it was populated by 3 tribes: Franken, Saksen and Friezen. Charlemange sort of united these tribes and he introduced christianity into this part of the world. We’re now around 800 after christ and the first steps towards modern Netherlands are now taken, but it would take until 1815 to have an official Kingdom of the Netherlands. In those 1000 years there have been vikings, british and french rulers, epidemics, wars and floods. If you like to read more about it’s history please go here.

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During the 17th century the dutch where doing great at trading, science, war and art. Famous dutch painters of that era are Rembrand and Vermeer. Anthon van Leeuwenhoek was the founder of microbiology. The trading was done by the VOC and WIC. The focus of VOC was Asia, the WIC focused on countries around the Atlantic ocean. As like many other european countries the dutch couldn’t just sail the oceans and trade with the local inhabitants, they had to colonize it. This part of my nations history still feeds public debate. Maybe I tell a little more about that later.

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Since 2013 Willem Alexander is king of the Netherlands (his mother Beatrix retired). The tasks of our king/queen are mostly ceremonial, but until 2012 the queen appointed the (elected) government. The king/queen also has to approve all changes of law. Queen Juliana (who reigned from 1948-1980) refused to sign once, but this is the only time the royal didn’t approve the government. Our king/queen is mostly busy with connections with other countries (diplomatic and economic) and they are very important in uniting the dutch people. We are a blunt nation with people that speak their mind and opinons are very divided, but we all (well, most of us) love our royals (and the dutch soccer team, even when they suck).

Elections are held every 4 years, unless the cabinet falls apart. There are 285 official politic parties known in the Netherlands, 98 of them have runned or are running in national election. (285 parties, I said it, we are a divided country) You understand it never happens 1 party gets enough votes to be the government, so coalitions are formed. Since 2000 until now there should be 4 coalitions (according to every 4 years an election) but we’ve had 7.

Dutch food is plain and easy, with a lot of potatoes. But it will give you a lot of energy to continue working. I choose this dish because of the funny name: Naked behinds on the grass.

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You need: potatoes, french beans and canned white beans, some milk and pepper/salt as pleased. Peel potatoes and boil them for 20-30 minutes (add salt in water if you like) then smash them with a little milk (add some pepper if you like). Cut french beans in small pieces and boil them for 15 minutes, add white beans after 10 minutes. Mix mashed potatoes with beans and your meal is ready to eat. Combine this with some dutch meatballs and you have a traditional dutch plate.

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In 1916 there was a huge flood that killed 51 people and affected the cities Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This wasn’t the first flood and would not be the last, the Zuiderzee was claiming land and wouldn’t stop doing so by itself. Because of this flood it was decided to create the Afsluitdijk. This Dike would turn an inland sea into a fresh water lake. In 1953 another flood came over the Netherlands. This time not from the sea in the north, but in the west. 1836 people died within this flood. Also the UK an Belgium where strucked by this flood. This flood is still in our collective memory, also because many survivors are still living today. (My mother can remember sitting on top of a roof waiting to be rescued, she was wearing a new red jacket and was worried it would get dirty, kids…) This flood was the start of building the Deltawerken. It closes the sea from the land in the south/west area. Here you can find a video on youtube on how those huge and impressive barriers are build.

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I live in Dordrecht and above is a map of my city from 1650. The city has grown a little since then and my house would be somewhere behind the word DORT. It’s a very old city. It was founded in 1220 on a piece of earth where 3 rivers joined and it was possible to cross the rivers here. It became an important trading city between 1600-1800. In the old centre are still many buildings from that era. Many painters lived in Dordrecht (Ary Scheffer was even born here). Today you will find many galleries here, art still is important for the city. During the summer you find all sort of art and food events, but also the biggest book market of the country and an almost magical steam machine event.

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Dordrecht played a important part in how christianity is lived in the Netherlands. The “Canons of Dort” where written here in 1618/1619 and these rules are still used in the reformed church. In those days the reformed church was the biggest religion in the Netherlands, now that’s catholic. (50% of the nation has no religion, 23% catholic, 10% reformed, 5% islam and 6% other).

It’s a city you have to learn to love. Yes we do have all these gorgeous buildings, but at first sight the city seems to be run-down. The shopping centre has many empty buildings and could use some paint. But leave that mainstreet and start wandering around and you will find so many beautiful sightings, special stores and unique restaurants/bars.

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Many of the old buildings have a plaque or some other sort of interesting detail. The naked boy above comes with a story. Long time ago 3 brothers lived in Dordrecht, they where very competitive with each other. The made a bed about who could build the most scandalous house. 1 came up with this naked boy, 1 with a mermaid with naked breasts and the thirth was that much scandalous the house was broken down by the villagers and no one mentioned what it was. The boy still can be found in the city. In 1897 he was covered up to be decent when the queen visited.

 

 

 

Oman

I was thinking it might be nice to change my normal writing routine for this passport challenge and take you with me while I’m exploring Oman. The first thing I did was watching this movie about Oman and also part 2. It’s a very positive movie about Oman. It looks like it is a modern country with high goals in research and development, good human and women rights and beautiful landscapes. I must admit I’m skeptical, Oman is an Arab country and therefor it’s hard to believe that human and women rights are valued. I don’t want to offend anyone, I know this is very short sighted of me. At this point I’m very curious what this journey will teach me and I hope I’m wrong.

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In the south-west of Oman a site was discovered holding stone tools that belong to the Nubian Complex. So far this was only found in north-east Africa. This means human have lived in Oman (or what we now know as Oman) for a very long time. It also gives us information about how and when people migrated from Africa to the rest of the world. Maybe I should learn more about this ancient migration thing. I’ve seen it mentioned before and I know long time ago all the continents where connected to each other, but I know very little of it and it might be interesting. Oman was influenced by the Persian dynasties until the country accepted Islam as their religion. It was 1 of the first countries that came in contact and accepted Islam. As like christians, Islam had it’s ambassadors as well. (I never thought about that before, but now I think of it, it makes sense. It’s kind of weird to realize how little I know). From 1507 -1650 Oman was ruled by the Portugese, followed by the Ottoman. In 1741 a leader of an Omani tribe took over and he was the first of the sultan family that still is in charge. Oman becomes a powerful empire with a peak in the 19th century. For those who want a more in depth read about Omans history here is a link.

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Qaboos Bin Said is now the sultan of Oman. He came in charge in 1970 and put a lot of effort in making Oman a modern country where life is good for it’s inhabitants. Many health and education facilities where created, everyone is allowed to vote at the age of 21, women can participate in society, even in the government. It looks like that movie I watched is telling the truth. That makes me happy, although the praise to the sultan in the video makes me feel uncomfortable, but that could be a cultural thing. And then I read this article about human rights in Oman. It’s not all sunshine. Freedom of speech is such an important thing in my world, it’s also a much discussed subject in my world. It’s a difficult subject, I don’t think the world gets better if everybody can speak their mind without considering other peoples feelings and values, I also don’t think it’s good if people aren’t allowed to say they don’t approve to rules and opinions.

I’ve read a short folk tale about a princess who doesn’t speak. Her father says the man who makes her speak can marry her. Gorgeous looking men with all kinds of skill come over, but the princess  never speaks, until that 1 man that doesn’t look so hansom and doesn’t have impressive skills appears. He wins the heart of the princess by being kind to all people around him.

Above video is of a dance that is on the Unesco list. I love how Unesco tries to also keep traditions alive. Here you can find a youtube playlist with more Omani music. I don’t know if you have ever heard of an artist named Gaslampkiller, but he could turn this into something I would like.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done an excursion and brought home a souvenir. I went to Ras Al Jinz, a turtle reserve. 5 of the 7 sea turtle species can be found here and this is 1 of the places they lay their eggs. The centre creates awareness of human treats against the turtles and you can book an excursion at night to watch the turtles nesting. That would be very special to see for real.

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I cooked a chicken dish with egg and cheese bread as a sidedish. It’s probably me, but I had some difficulty understanding the recipe, therefor I adjusted it a little. I first baked the chicken and onion and then let it simmer with tomato and spices for about half an hour. The dough of the bread is very sticky indeed. I couldn’t split it. I took my baking tray and spread out the dough on that to make 1 big bread and baked it in the oven. The bread was a little too thick and not well done in the middle. Warm cheese is a thing I always love and that made it still tasty, but it wasn’t my best cooking.

 

 

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Welcome to see my desk. Be prepared, it’s a huge mess! I’ve been working on some christmas cards and didn’t clean between several projects. Luckily I’m good at working on top of a pile 🙂

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I warned you! On the bottom you see the card om working on right now. It has a paper embroidery border that is raised from the paper below. In the square wil come some glitter, like a shaker card.

On the right bottom you see my new weekly diary for 2017. It’s the same brand as I used this year. On the left pages are weekly planners and on the right you can write down notes. It was a real helpful planning tool last year and I hope it will be next year too. First appointments are written in it as well. It’s good to have something to look forward to.

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And 3 more christmas themed atc I’ve made. This is the last part of the atc advent calendar I did for a swap. It was a great project, challenging to come up with this many designs and fun because I already received some cards and play by the rules so I haven’t seen them yet, but I wish I did. Ofcourse nobody knows if I do open them now, but it will spoil the advent fun.

If you would like to see more desks, please visit Julia.

 

November treats

I’m not very fond of the typical autumn vegetables that are found in the Netherlands, but I challenge myself to eat 1 of them once a week. This swap, where we had to made a typical autumn meal , therefor was pretty easy for me, it already was on the menu.

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I made a pumpkin soup. there are many ways to prepare pumpkin, but I like soup the most. The ingredients happen to be all orange, even the can of coconut milk is orange 🙂

  • pumpkin 400 g
  • carrots 300 g
  • orange (zest and juice)
  • coconut milk 500 mL
  • curry powder
  • bouillon 500 mL

I made it extra easy for myself and bought already cut veggies. Put everything in a pan and let it cook for at least 20 minutes. Then mash everything together.

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I must say, I liked this soup. It’s sweet and creamy, perfect comfort food. Even my husband (who only likes tomato cream soup) said he wouldn’t mind if we ate it again. Which is a good thing, because I made enough to put 2 portions in the freezer. Next time will be even more easy.

 

Winter Blues

Does your mood get affected by winter? How do you coop with that?

At the end of september I started to see it: light came later in the mornings and dark came earlier in the evenings. It still was warm and slowly the leaves started to turn yellow and red. O my, I love autumn, everything is so beautiful! I went outside a lot, searching for mushrooms and other typical autumn treasures and life was good. But then the clock was set from daylight saving time to regular time. When I get up in the morning it’s still dark and when I come home from work there is about 1 hour daylight left. The rain came and the wind and there was the first time I had to scratch off the ice of my car. It’s cold and it doesn’t matter how much I heat the house I keep feeling cold. I want to sleep (a lot) and I want to eat, preferably things with lots of fat and sugar (also a lot). My skin is itching and I know it will start bleeding soon. It’s only november, winter hasn’t begon for real and that is scaring me. How will I survive this years winter? And please, please don’t be too cold or rainy or snowy. Oh I know this feeling. Hello Winter Blues, really, you don’t have to pay me a visit each year.

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This isn’t new and I have a survival plan. I know I have to take good care of myself: eat healthy and regular, find things to look forward to, things to enjoy, give myself enough rest and stay active. This seems to be easy, but it costs a great amount of energy. I was searching the internet for more tips, but had a hard time to find new ones. I found 1 about taking vitamin D supplements. This is the vitamin we get from sunlight. I’ve never taken that before and it’s worth a shot. Another tip was to embrace the season. Yes! Changing my mindset would definitely be a great idea and probably work very good. But how do I do that?

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I read something about affirmations. If I understand correct these are lines you repeatedly tell yourself. Words to live by. I believe in the power of words.  And I do think that how you speak about something influences how you experience that something.

So I will try to find positive words for this time a year. Everything better than a depressed ‘here we go again’ and I’m going to make a list of positive things of wintertime.

A self loving self portrait

You have to value yourself to see why it is so important to take good care of yourself. I have the tendency to forget what I am worth, it’s so easy to put the needs of others before my own needs. It’s what I learned as a kid: be kind and help others. I don’t think my parents wanted me to neglect myself and feel bad about myself, they didn’t want me to be selfish. Caring for yourself isn’t selfish, knowing what you are worth isn’t being arrogant. You have to take care of yourself to be able to care for others and knowing what you’re good at makes all kind of processes run smoother.

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This painting I made a few years ago. She doesn’t look like me, but she represents me. Above the hearts I wrote good qualities about myself. This weekend I will find time to make a new portrait and rethink about my qualities. I hope you join me and share your portrait on the facebook group.

Your portrait doesn’t have to look like you, you only have to feel some sort of connection to it. Maybe you’re not a drawing/painting person. That’s fine! You can make a collage portrait or copy or alter a photo of yourself. Anything that feels good for you.