Thursday, March 27, 2008

A fun project.....

I love silhouettes! A few years ago, I found these two reproduction Georgian silhouettes in a little shop in The Cotswolds. They were not cheap to purchase then but have become very expensive. I keep looking at them on eBay but they all go up too high. I felt like these two are so lonely and needed to get some more.

While in Brugge, I bought a beautiful black frame. I started thinking that a silhouette would look so lovely in it. So for a fun project, I copied this image of what is reputed to be a silhouette of Jane Austen onto thick, textured paper. I then tea dyed the image being sure to do the staining twice so it would become very splotched. I am so happy with the results. This made having more silhouettes an attainable thing.

I will be shopping for more of these ornate black frames for more silhouette portraits.

For my guest room, I wanted to put a silhouette in a pretty frame I received at the Christmas gift swap with my quilt group ladies. I know which silhouette I would use for here...Charlotte Bronte. For this one, I kept the paper white as it works well in this frame and in the room itself.

While looking into some images to copy, I started reading sites about the history of silhouettes. It was very interesting to find out that the name comes from Etienne de Silhouette (1706-67), French Minister of Finance under Louis XV. He created shadowed portraits as a hobby. Later, they were named after him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter or Christmas?

Easter was very early this year but also very surreal. On Easter morning we awoke to snow and it felt more like we should walk into the living room to light the Christmas tree than set the table for Easter brunch. Mother Nature has been surprising us this year. We have had no real winter to speak of and now that it is approaching the end of March, we have winter at last.

I have mentioned before that we have a postage stamp as a garden. Here you can see how tiny it is. That is the reason we love to escape to the woods at Cranberry Cottage. There is space and peaceful surroundings there. But alas, this weekend, we wanted to get the painting in the living room finished so we stayed here. It is now completed. I also got a quilt UFO finished yesterday which you can see here. We had a quiet Easter, just the way we like it...

How was your Easter weekend?

I am going to leave you today with some words by Emily Dickinson which I find very appropriate for our spring so far...

"A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter wishes

We started our Easter Sunday with the Dutch tradition of brunch. I made coddled eggs and we had fresh orange juice, kwark brood (creamy raisin bread), warm rolls and a fruit salad. We are not ones for going overboard which happens now at Christmas and Easter. It turns us off just to see the overflowing carts in the over busy supermarkets anymore. We have been keeping our holidays low key for a couple of years now and enjoy it that way.

I have not set the table like this for some time and had fun doing it this morning.

On Saturday late afternoon, the doorbell rang and it was my mailman with a box of these wonderful surprises from Gail at The Tattered Nest. Thank you so much Gail! I loved all my things especially getting a nest from your nest.

I wish you all a very Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Working like rabbits.....

We are not at Cranberry Cottage this weekend. We decided to stay home and get some more of the painting done. Jos is now working on the trim around the French doors and windows in the living room. We want to have this room finished.

Jos took a break to have a cup of coffee after lunch and we had an Easter pastry we purchased at the bakery this morning. There is a bakery right beside the grocery store and we decided to treat ourselves something since it is a holiday weekend. Don't you just love the tiny bunny on top of the pink pastry?

I ordered a wonderful vintage book from Mad Hatter's Bookshop in New Zealand. It is called "Nests and Eggs ~ Shown to the Children". I carefully read all the descriptions of the available editions on Abebooks and Mad Hatter seemed to have a really good copy. I was not disappointed. It is a lovely book and in really great shape.

The illustration plates in this book are so wonderful. It is such a fun book to look through and has chapters on each bird species and their eggs.

Books like this are fun to use for decorating. This one really brings springtime home to us and is perfect sitting on my coffee table with my antique eyeglasses next to my tray of primroses.

How are you spending your Saturday before Easter?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It is spring!

Celebrate the seasons.....celebrate spring!

***Note to everyone: It is Thursday, March 20th here in Europe but when I published this blog entry, it shows Wednesday still. It's a blogger thing. ***

Today spring has officially begun. It is the season of growth. I hope you find this season full of growth for yourself. Spend a few moments today really appreciating that a new season is beginning in your part of the world. Take a look outside at the signs of growth around you.

This is a famous painting by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. It is simply called "A Branch of an Almond Tree in Blossom". A single branch becomes a work of art when we take the time to really look at it. If there is nothing in bloom in your corner of the world, why not go out and treat yourself to a spring bouquet of flowers today? Why not go out into the garden and cut a flowering branch in bud. Bring it indoors where you can force it open in the warmth of your home?

I have learned on this journey that life is what we make it and it is the small things like this that teach us to appreciate the things around us. I used to feel down when spring arrived as I knew summer was coming with all its heat. My favorite seasons are autumn and winter. I learned through blogging to appreciate spring and summer for what they are. There is no autumn without a summer. I finally look forward to the rewards of nature in spring. I look out from this room where I sit onto my tiny garden. I can see my two very large wisterias full of buds and promise. I am looking forward to them blossoming and once again smelling their sweet perfume as I open my front door. To me, I now can appreciate spring as promise.

I was tagged by Mary at Across the pond for the six word memoir. I had also been tagged for this on my other blog and found it difficult until I realized I was making it too complicated. Today is a perfect day for this memoir...

Celebrate the seasons and their rewards!

Thanks to each of you who read my blog for taking this journey with me. It has been a wonderful way for me to see more around me. It has helped me to see in much more detail also. I have had new visitors comment lately and love getting to know more people. I appreciate my comments so much and look forward to getting on my blog to read your responses.

I am supposed to tag 5 blog friends but this is not an easy tag and many have already had it. If you would like to play along, then tag.....your it!

The rules are:

1. Write your own six (6) word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration, if you like.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible, so we can track it as it travels through the blogosphere.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Happy birthday Mother!

On this special day, 69 years ago my grandmother gave birth to her last child a baby girl who she named Nancy. This little girl grew up her daddy's spoiled little girl. My grandmother really showered love on her. Later, she met and married my father and I was the third of their children and her little baby girl.

My mother and I have had a typical mother~daughter relationship when I was growing up. Like all kids, there were good and bad moments but one thing was very different in my childhood which I only now realize as an adult. My parents very much encouraged my creativity. They allowed me to try anything I set my heart at with my hobbies. It has turned me into the person I have become. They also taught me to strive always to be truthful in life. I also developed my sense of humor from my family.

I remember a conversation I had with my mother when I was about 16. She told me that I would regret wanting to grow up too fast and would wish for the day when I was a child again. She was wrong and I told her so many years later. I told her I would not want to go back as then we were simply mother and daughter with all that needs to go along with her bringing me up correctly but now we are both that and friends. The adult relationship with her has brought on a new deminsion that I would not trade for the world. I even tell her to behave at times. *wink*

I wish you, mother, a very happy birthday today. It is an important day as it gave me and my siblings the person who loved us then as children and now as adults (well, almost adults as my brother and I say we never did really grow up).

"The Nest" painting by Sir John Everett Millais

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I love butter!

I love butter and have totally switched back to eating it instead of margarine about a year ago. It is a healthier product than margarine. Did I just shock some of you? Butter is something your body recognizes and can deal with while margarine is not. Yes, it is 80% fat. I know that but it is also a natural product that your body can burn off if not used in excess while margarine is harder for our bodies to dispose of.

I love butter for its wonderful taste. I enjoy a piece of toast or some warm French bread for breakfast often simply with some butter on it. Simplicity is a good thing.
I also love butter from Belgium or France whenever I can buy it. Our winter trips to Belgium mean I can enjoy this luxury.

For months now, I have been eyeing this beautiful creamware butter dish. I ran into a favorite shop up north on Saturday just 15 minutes before they closed. I saw they had two of these dishes marked down to over 50% off due to small blemishes. I love it and snapped it right up not believing my luck to get it for that price after all this time of wanting it. I love it.....blemishes and all.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easy and healthy cooking...

I don't normally give you two recipes in a row but I wanted to share the simple recipe for Crustless Tuna Quiche that I just love to make...

First, slice a leek and fry lightly in butter or olive oil. You could use an onion if you prefer.

You will need two mixing bowls (I just love my colored bowls that I found at a discount store! They remind my of my mother's wonderful vintage ones.)...

Beat two eggs and two egg whites together with one cup of milk and salt and cracked pepper.

In the second bowl, mix contents of two cans of drained tuna, one cup of cheese (I use old Dutch cheese but your own favorite will do), 2 tablespoons flour and the cooked leek. Stir in the egg mixture and pour into a greased (vegetable spray) 9 inch pie pan.

Cook in a preheated 350F oven for about 35 minutes. (A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.) Let the quiche cool in the pan about 10 minutes.

Cut into pieces and serve. Makes four servings.

I don't think I got the greatest photos tonight but cannot retake them as dinner is all gone. *grins* I do hope you will enjoy trying this really tasty quiche.

The Andre Rieu waltz is for my mother who is a huge fan of his. We are talking about going down towards the area where Andre Rieu is from while she is visiting and she is saying she hopes she sees him. I don't think so Mother and he is probably on tour.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A recipe for St. Patrick's Day

I was asked for the recipe for Irish Soda Bread last week. It is a great thing to make with tea on Monday for St. Patrick's Day. It is best eaten warm right out of the oven. Enjoy it!

For one loaf:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cup all~purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup buttermilk

Cut butter into flour, sugar, baking soda and powder and salt until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in raisins and enough buttermilk to make a soft dough that holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and need about 1 minute until smooth. Shape into a round loaf and place on a greased (I use a piece of baking paper) cookie sheet. Cut a cross into the load with a bread knife and bake 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown in a 375F oven.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lord Byron's lady

Do you ever see something and know you just have to buy it? It is love at first sight. This happened on Saturday when we went to the garden nursery to buy some climbers for our living fence. There is a section of things for indoors or on your garden patio. I saw this lady on a shelf. She was the only one and I was struck by how well made she is. She is very heavy and it took some convincing Jos to get her off the shelf and put her into our cart. She is on the chest of drawers now in the guest room. I was struck right away by the Lord Byron poem when I saw her.....

"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!"

Friday, March 07, 2008

Inspirations of spring...

With thoughts of spring dancing around our heads, we are planning on getting some of the living fence planted up at Cranberry Cottage over the weekend. I am researching which plants I would like to look for at the garden nursery online today. It is rather damp weather which gives the new plants a great chance to take hold. Even if we do get a little frost, the living fence is in an area with many trees and they will be okay there. They say we are a month earlier in the seasonal calender this year so we have to think it is like April now instead of March. These are some of the Tete~a~tete's from our garden at the cottage. To spite our storm last weekend, they were poking their heads out.

Jos is busy working from home today so I made us a loaf of Irish Soda bread for lunch. There is nothing like eating this fresh and warm from the oven with a cup of English breakfast tea with milk. I have not been baking anymore and realized this morning how much I miss it. I just don't make time for myself enough each week to be able to bake.

As I pack up our bags for the weekend, I pack these magazines to take along for some fun spring inspiration. I now have a subscription to both Victoria and Romantic Homes both of which arrived this week. I purchase the German Wohnen & Garten from a newsagent in a city we sometimes visit up north on the weekends. We love to go to the vegetable market held in the city on Saturdays.

What are you planning for your weekend? Are you having spring weather or is winter still sharing its white glow with you? Whatever you do this weekend, make it a great one!

"in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how"

~~ E.E. Cummings ~~

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mother Nature in her fickle state...

...has gone from sunny spring weather to fall like storms to winter snow showers here in Holland over the last couple of weeks. But this is pretty much typical for March here. This is the scene I awoke to this morning. I knew the snow would melt away before I had a chance to get dressed so I asked Jos to take a quick photo for me this morning before he left for work. Now to me anymore, a few flakes are something to get excited about.

But it is spring here with the bulb flowers all starting to blossom. I have been putting out my Easter decorations this week. Yesterday, I went to a pretty little village to enjoy a day out for lunch and shopping with two friends. We had a fun day and this is one of my purchases. I found this lacy looking metal plate which looks perfect for one of my cloches.

I love vintage (reproduction) cards and this one I saved from about 20 years ago. My mother and father had sent it to me and I use it with my decorations ever since. Isn't it pretty?

I have to dig out my crazy quilt spring tablerunner for my dining room table but I did put one of my vintage cloches on display with a nest and eggs along with one of my old pieces of stitching.

Simplicity is best with spring decorations I think so I placed some straw, primroses and a glass plant spray bottle in a wooden tray on my coffee table.

And finally, remember that bunny I showed you last time? His twin brother is sitting on an end table with a vase of white violets and my vintage card.

Easter is so close now. Are you decorating? What kind of decorations do you like at this time of year?

Thank you all for the comments about my living room! I wish you could stop in and see it for real especially in the evening light when it is at its prettiest. Can you believe that a realtor told us that if we wanted to sell our house we would have to paint out our red walls and make them white. I did paint away my pretty linden green walls in my bedroom a couple of years ago when we were trying to sell and will never do that again.