Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Do you have moments when you see something in a shop and just know you have to buy it? I had a moment like that last week. It was school break here and a friend and I had promised her teenage daughter to have a high tea when she was off school. The place we went to is called the Esperterhoeve. It is a shop in a beautiful old Dutch farm with a little cafe at the back. After having eaten until we needed to shop off our calories, I discovered a set of beautiful black mirrors. I saw them in the distance and knew I had to buy them. They would really bring out our headboard just perfectly. Jos has now jokingly (I hope) said he hopes we have enough mirrors. *grins*

I had hoped to be giving you an update on my thyroid condition by now as I had my next appointment at the hospital. I had been given the choice of either having surgery or trying radioactive therapy. I choose the therapy which will take up to a year before we know if it is effective. It means being in isolation for most of March. If this is not successful, I will still need surgery in a year's time. I do not have hyper or hypo thyroidism which would have made it easier to treat with medication instead.

The specialist decided to repeat the ultrasound since the hospital where I am now going did not do the first one. I went to have it done this week thinking it would all be routine but ended up having to have a biopsy done right after they finished. I am afraid we are back to waiting. The appointments are set up for the radioactive therapy but it now all depends on how the results of the biopsy turn out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dressed just right...

If only we dressed like this still...

The museum I went to last week with friends had a quilt exhibition. There were many aspects of quilting included. It also contained clothes. I love seeing these beautiful creations!

How is this for keeping warm on a cold winter's day? A heavily quilted skirt which is practical, functional and a thing of beauty all in one.

This little girl's dress was such a treat as was the beautiful quilt behind it. You can see more of the quilts if you are interested here on my other blog.

This was a favorite one of mine. I think the combination of tartan and check fabric is so pretty!

And finally, a lace collar makes any dress look something just that little bit more special. I wish I could go back and live in the times of the Bronte sisters just so I can wear the dresses. Do you have a favorite time period for clothes?

If the photos seem out of focus or dark, it is because I was allowed to take photos without the flash. I hope you can still enjoy them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Come with me to visit 'Het Eysingahuis'

This week, I went to a museum with a few of my quilting friends. There is a quilt exhibition at the museum in the northern city of Leeuwarden. I will show many of the quilts on my needlework blog but wanted to share some photos of the rooms in the house of the museum called 'Het Eysingahuis'. This house was the home of the family of a nobleman Frans Julius van Eysinga. He had this city dwelling built in 1779 where his family would spend six or seven weeks a year receiving guests and hosting dinners.

The house is built in the Louis XVI style and each room had a specific function. A few of the rooms are now decorated in a manner that a nobleman's home would have been in the 18th century although it is unknown exactly how 'Het Eysingahuis' looked at that time.

I love wandering through rooms like this and imagining the elagant ladies and gentlemen that lived and visited here. When there are few people in the rooms as there were that day, it is easy to almost see the ghosts of those long past.

The yellow salon was used for receptions, dinners or musical afternoons.

What a beautiful setting for a dinner!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope today your thoughts will turn towards things like...

Wine! Okay I took liberties with this photos as it is grapes yet hanging on the vine from a vacation photo of one of our favorite destinations in France ~ The Alsace. It will be wine eventually...grins...

Chocolate! I am dreaming of the wonderful chocolate shops in Brugge, Belgium where you have two feasts ~ one for the eye as you choose your chocolates from the pretty displays and one as you enjoy later perhaps with a cup of cafe au lait.

Roses! For me, not the traditional red rose but the Edith Holden rose that bloomed last summer in my garden.

And speaking of gardens...did you know that Valentine's Day is the day that birds choose their mate? So I leave today to ponder on the thought that spring is coming and this sweet verse...

"Must, bid the Morn awake!
Sad Winter now declines,
Each bird doth choose a mate;
This day's Saint Valentine's.
For that good bishop's sake
Get up and let us see
What beauty it shall be
That Fortune us assigns."

~ Michael Drayton

Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends.
You all mean so much to me!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A 5th birthday...

...and no I am not telling porkies as my English mum would say! *grins* I won't explain the story again but will send you to last year's entry which explains everything. Now I wish I could get my little grand niece Zoe to believe that her great aunt is only just turning 5 so look at this photo...

Is this card not proof? Did you enlarge the photo and look at that number? I just received it in the mail this morning from a dear quilting friend of mine. I am 5 because the birthday card even says I am. When I said that to little Zoe, she laughed and told her mother I should not tell lies. I liked the year before's response better. She said to her mother..."I already been 4 right Mom?" Children do grow up too fast which is why I find my big brother a very wise man with his philosophy. We will just never grow up.

The flowers are also from my quilting friend and thank you so much Elly! I made two bouquets out of them.

Then Jos came home with a bouquet of red tulips for me yesterday evening. I joke with him as he no longer brings me flowers. It has everything to do with him having allergies though. He can have certain types of fresh flowers in the house and tulips are one of them.

I arranged the bouquet in a metal (zink) pail which by chance that same friend again gave to me last year for my birthday. I have lined it with an old plastic bowl which I no longer use. Using unusual items like this for flowers is fun.

Jos bought me this book which is the complete works of the Bronte sisters. I have always wanted to get the Bronte novels in old books but never done so. I hoped to find them in an old secondhand bookshop which is in Haworth, England. We have not been back to visit Haworth for a while and I still don't have all the Bronte novels. With the exception of Jane Eyre, those I have are cheap paperbacks. Don't get me wrong, paperbacks are great for reading but not so fun for a collection.

Now I have all the Bronte novels in this huge volume that is so pretty. There are pencil drawings and old illustrations throughout the book. I will enjoy using this book for vignettes in my home.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The extraordinary today

When I need a 'Bronte fix', I pick up my book of poems written by the three sisters under the name of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. I was reading a poem written by Currer Bell or Charlotte Bronte called Winter Stores.

A poem can be many things to many people. You can pull an insight from a poem which might change at another point in your life. This poem inspired me to remember that this is an extraordinary day.

Not extraordinary in a special event but extraordinary in its everyday normality. I am going to spend the morning baking and doing my ironing. But today is a gift even in doing normal chores. I am content in life. I love being a housewife. I love doing everyday things.

I am reminded reading this poem to let today's ordinary be seen as a blessing, making it extraordinary. Listen to Sarah McLachlan sing about Ordinary Miracles and take a few quiet moments and enjoy Charlotte's beautiful poem...

"Winter Stores"

We take from life one little share,
And say that this shall be
A space, redeemed from toil and care,
From tears and sadness free.

And, haply, Death unstrings his bow,
And Sorrow stands apart,
And, for a little while, we know
The sunshine of the heart.

Existence seems a summer eve,
Warm, soft, and full of peace,
Our free, unfettered feelings give
The soul its full release.

A moment, then, it takes the power
To call up thoughts that throw
Around that charmed and hallowed hour,
This life`s divinest glow.

But Time, though viewlessly it flies,
And slowly, will not stay;
Alike, through clear and clouded skies,
It cleaves its silent way.

Alike the bitter cup of grief,
Alike the draught of bliss,
Its progress leaves but moment brief
For baffled lips to kiss

The sparkling draught is dried away,
The hour of rest is gone,
And urgent voices, round us, say,
"Ho, lingerer, hasten on!"

And has the soul, then, only gained,
From this brief time of ease,
A moment`s rest, when overstrained,
One hurried glimpse of peace?

No; while the sun shone kindly o`er us,
And flowers bloomed round our feet,--
While many a bud of joy before us
Unclosed its petals sweet,--

An unseen work within was plying;
Like honey-seeking bee,
From flower to flower, unwearied, flying,
Laboured one faculty,--

Thoughtful for Winter`s future sorrow,
Its gloom and scarcity;
Prescient to-day, of want to-morrow,
Toiled quiet Memory.

`Tis she that from each transient pleasure
Extracts a lasting good;
`Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure
To serve for winter`s food.

And when Youth`s summer day is vanished,
And Age brings Winter`s stress,
Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished,
Life`s evening hours will bless.

By Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hearts galore!

My winter tree is put away and I now have my Valentine's tree in the living room. I have again created a slideshow to share the photos I made of the tree and a few other spots decorated for the upcoming holidays. I hope you enjoy them...

Do you decorate for Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The blessing of a friend!

One thing I love in Holland is the fact that there are mail slots in the front doors. Your mail falls right onto your doormat. I love the old fashioned feel of hearing it plop onto the doormat. In this modern age, it is often bills or bank statements as handwritten cards and letters are scarce. So imagine my thrill just now as I heard the mail fall and went to pick it up where to my surprise I found a package for me.

It was from my blogging friend Mary who sent me a sweet gift and good thoughts over my health. I am so touched by this!

As many of your know, I love and collect vintage books. Mary sent me a book she found at her favorite antique shop.

This books is from 1917 and is a school primer. I love the fact that it is about the Dutch twins Kit and Kat. The pencil drawings in the books are so adorable.

Thank you so much dear Mary. I will treasure this book which I add to my collection but even more I treasure the caring and loving thought behind you sending it. I am glad to call you friend!

Monday, February 02, 2009

February's heartsease

It is February and all thoughts turn to early signs of spring and signs of love. It is the month of Valentine's Day. A month when you let your spouse, family and good friends know that you love them and care. So while reading with my morning cup of tea, I came upon a sweet little passage about violets and knew I should write a post about this sweet little blossom.

Depending on our weather here in Holland, from this time on we can see 'bosviooltjes' or our wood violets appear. This year we are having a cold winter so it will be a while before the first appears. Called heartsease or commonly Johnny Jump Ups, these are wild pansies. Pansies mean "loving thoughts" while violets mean "faithfulness" in the language of flowers. Old fashioned wood violets are something I have never seen growing yet here in Holland. I did plant some last year at our cottage and hope they will return this year.

This is the first year I can ever remember that I don't have baskets and pots planted up with pansies. So far, with our cold weather, they have looked very poorly at garden centers and I have not purchased any yet. They are a very favorite of mine. So I am lingering over my photos of my baskets from last year and dreaming of adding these cheerful bright colors to my garden soon. In the meantime, I will content myself with this passage from the book "Flower Fables" by Louisa May Alcott...

"Then she spread the table afresh, and to it came fearlessly the busy ant and bee, gay butterfly and bird; even the poor blind mole and humble worm were not forgotten; and with gentle words she gave to all, while each learned something of their kind teacher; and the love that made her own heart bright shone alike on all.

The ant and the bee learned generosity, the butterfly and the bird contentment, the mole and worm confidence in the love of others, and each went to their home better for the little time they had been with the Violet."