Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life lessons among the blueberries?

Odd title for this entry? All will be revealed...

We went to Cranberry Cottage a day earlier than we normally do last weekend. Friends are staying at a campsite near us and we had them come for the day on Friday. One of the things the men do each summer is pick blueberries.

This year, the women decided to tag along. I picked with Jos last year often and enjoyed it so my girlfriend wanted to try it too. There were many berries ripe while there are many more to go back for more.

It was so very hot that day but we set to work...

We brought home a bucket full of blueberries and a small container of red currants. I froze some of the blueberries to enjoy in the winter season.

Soon we will be picking these blackberries but they still need a few weeks in the sun. Now speaking of the was just baking down on us so I finally thought it best to give up and get myself out of the sun. I told the men we were going across the street to a shop to cool off.

Now for 4 years, I have passed this shop and never bothered to go in as I thought I wouldn't find anything there being a rotan (wicker furniture) shop. It does not look all that interesting from the outside and I don't buy any wicker furniture after watching my cats destroy some pretty chairs we used to have. Remember the saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover'? This has proved to be very true here! We were greeted by the owner as soon as we stepped foot in the front door and said we just wanted to browse. A moment later, he asked us if we would like a cup of coffee or tea. I said tea would be nice to the shock of my girlfriend who is not used to the hospitatility of people in the north of Holland. She felt like she was imposing. She was later glad I did say yes as we were sat at one of the beautiful tables for sale in the showroom and enjoyed a little refreshment. Doesn't the cookie look fun and it tasted so wonderful too.

I wanted to drink up and get shopping as I worried the men would show up too fast. They were among the blueberries in a panic that we took off to shop after all. Little did I know that a little shopping angel was watching over us that day. The men did show up not long after and the owner showed them to a set of outdoor chairs in front of the shop and made them fresh coffee while we continued to shop.

Oh heavenly bliss! The owners of this shop have used an English country style theme with their rotan instead of the normal Eastern exotic theme. It was just the most wonderful shop that to my very surprise was full of the most wonderful accessories. We literally did not know where to look next.

This framed portrait of Willem of Orange is now living with me. My girlfriend bought it for me as a gift.

The owners also sell pretty Dutch oak furniture and each piece is accessorized in the showroom to make it look like a house.

I love these Victorian look lampshades and never did get around to asking if he sells them seperately or only with the lamp itself.

If you would like to see more of this shop, check out the website here. If you are ever in the village of Wilhelminaoord in the north of Holland, it is most certainly worth the stop. I have learned that you should not judge a shop (oops book) by 'its cover' or you could be missing out on something really great.

Alas, we had to stop shopping and pay for our treasures so we could go home and put our own shoes by the fireside just like the photo. By the way, this pretty vase also came home to live with me. Can you see me smiling?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brown paper packages.....

Sunday evening, we picked up two packages that the postman left with our neighbors over the weekend while we were gone. One of these packages was a surprise from a very sweet blogging friend Mary. If you have never seen Mary's blog AcrossThePond, do go and enjoy her beautiful home, front porch and garden.

As I pulled the package out of the padded envelope, I found a beautiful box wrapped in white tissue paper. I just love Pre~Raphaelite paintings so to me this box is itself a real gift.

The back of the box is also very beautiful but when I lifted off the pretty ribbon saying 'imagine, wonder & dream'...

I found the box was personalized with the letter 'H' and filled so prettily that I almost did not want to take things out to look closer. But curiousity would get the better of me so look I did!

In the floral tissue paper I found a gift which was a vintage eyeglass case. And laying next to it was an adorable card...

It instructed me to 'Open & Read' almost like Alice in Wonderland. This is the cutest idea Mary and I have never seen it before. I will save this to hang on a sewing Christmas tree in my quilt studio.

Inside the eyeglass case was a pair of vintage eyeglasses. I collect them and love adding this pair to my little collection. These are so fun as they are a very strong perscription and have bifocals in them. Who were they made for I wonder? Eyeglasses are great fun to use when decorating.

I thank you my dear friend from the very bottom of my heart! I will treasure these and think of you often when I see them. I think of you often anyway Mary!

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

~ Aristotle ~

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


"It is never too late to have a happy childhood."
~ Tom Robbins

I really enjoyed reminiscing with you about childhood memories. When I awoke this morning, I had no idea what I wanted to post on my blog. I then read the latest comment from Tanya and was still thinking of the joys of childhood things. I loved reading her story about winning a coloring book from her childhood on eBay. I don't think it is silly as it takes us back to fond moments and endearing people when we discover things of childhood.

I found this antique cradle when I was shopping with a friend about 3 years ago. It was perfect for the tiny doll's quilt I had just made from castoff corners of another quilt. I sewed these cut off corners together to form little pinwheels and the size of the doll's quilt was determined by the amount of scraps I had. Still, when I saw this cradle, I knew it was just the right size! My friend was amazed that it really was just the perfect size when we got it back to my house.

I set to work making this old fashioned mattrass. Even though you don't see it now as it is covered with the sheets, pillow and quilt, I wanted to know it had its own little mattrass.

The sales lady told me the cradle was probably from Eastern Europe. It has sweet painted sides. The front and back are of a man and woman dancing.

The sides have roses painted on them.

The cradle sits happily in my living room as decoration and a reminder that we never really grow up if we are lucky.

Do you have items from your childhood or things you have purchased that remind you to always search for the child still inside you? I am really looking forward to reading your comments so please stop in and say hello...

"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again."

~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Friday, July 18, 2008


Each Saturday, we drive out in the country to buy our fresh eggs. For ages, we never noticed a tiny patch of garden put aside for a pig. One rainy day, I noticed this beauty out in the mud. Oh, glorious mud! This year, she has given birth to her family of piglets which we see grow each time we drive by.

Not only the family has grown but also the pig's space. In the left corner of this photo, you can see the old and much smaller fenced area for mother pig. When I jumped out of the car to take the photo, one pig who looks to be the runt was looking up at me from a little hole dug behind Mother Pig. In the first photo, he is standing beside Mother.

It brings to mind my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Greer. Do you ever wonder what happened to your teachers all these years later? She was so wonderful and loved reading books aloud to us each day. She read things like Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan and James and the Giant Peach. She brought Charlotte and Wilbur, Louis the swan and James with his wicked aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, along with his fantastical insect friends to life for me.

Each year, she would take a handful of her best students to go on a camping trip with she and her husband. I got to go and can still remember things from that trip. We had to create our own little stove top from an empty coffee can. On it, we were supposed to fry our only egg and a piece of bacon. She only had enough eggs for one each and mine slipped off the can as I, very silly child that I was, placed mine too much on a sloop. The bacon was tasty though! *grins*

Do you ever see something that sparks off deeper memories like I have had with these pigs?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Be it ever so humble...

...there's no place like home! Remember this sweet little ditty? I can almost hear many of you humming it now. I have been having serious nesting tendencies this week. I moved all our living room furniture around, rearranged flowers and reworked the vignettes on my tables. To me, there is no greater bliss than this.

Perhaps I was urged on the nesting feelings after finishing this book yesterday, "How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life" by Mameve Medwed. This was a fun book and great summer reading about a woman who owns an antique booth in an antique mall and finds she has a treasure that changes her life forever.

This has me thinking about my own love of certain quirky antiques. I collect a number of things one of which is opera glasses. I don't have very many pairs but hope to add to this collection as I find affordable ones. They look great combined with my vintage and antique books.

These are the first two pairs I bought. The underneath pair is embossed brass and such a pretty detailing which unfortunately does not show up on the photo. The second pair I bought were the ivory ones which still had their original case seen just slightly off to the right of the photo.

I received this leather and brass pair from my good friend Joni. Thanks again Joni!

"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule."

~~ Frederick W. Robertson ~~

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Learning as we go...

It was fun reading your guesses as to what this plant was. The closest person was Sonja thinking it was a potato as it is something edible. It is buckwheat (Dutch ~ boekweit/Fagopyrum esculentum) and is now starting to spread. There are a few more little plants coming up. Jos thinks perhaps it blew seed from a farmer's field as we have no idea otherwise how it ended up in the garden this year. Hard to think that this plant gives us the grain used to make yummy pancake batter.

And to think that I almost pulled it out but decided this year to leave anything growing there to see what wildflowers would appear. I will show more of our wildflowers another time.

We are still working on planting up the various areas of the garden which is a bit hit and miss for us. We pretty much have to try things out and hope for the best. Some plants work perfectly while others need moving around a bit and still others just don't work at all. It is amazing that even some shadow loving plants still won't work in this wooded garden. We learn as we go or perhaps I should say as we grow.

The terrace area by the cottage itself had been planned to look symmetrical with a butterfly bush at each corner. Last year, we planted the second one as the first had done so well. This year they would have both been the same size but the first one has died and we have had to replace it with a new one. I now have to wait with my fingers crossed that they will next year both do well. We also had two clematis growing on one side of the rose arbor and wisteria on the other side. One of the clematis did very well and gave us some pretty blossoms already in its first year while the other has dried up in the heat and died.

One thing that we are having success with is Astilbas. We have them in three areas of the garden and they are doing so well that we bought these pretty red~pink ones also.

Up to now, the place we bought them from has had only white ones for sale. We found the other color at a private growers home. We do try to support these private sellers buying from them and have found the plants are really good quality too.

Do you remember the poppy field I showed you last year? It was the second year this amazing and beautiful crop was being grown.

This year the same field looks like this...

It is now potatoes in bloom. It took me a while to get used to missing that pretty field of poppies but then again...potatoes in bloom are pretty too. The most often seen rotation crop in this area is lilies. I think we will probably start seeing them again often in the next year or so. It is fun to see the changes the farmer's make to the same field year after year.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Changes come with hard work

Welcome again to Cranberry Cottage. This tiny house on the edge of the woods is our special hideaway each weekend.

Last year in September, I told you about a major project we were starting up at Cranberry Cottage. You can see how it used to look here. It has been such hard work for Jos as we only had the odd Saturday to work on it. He has removed the row of conifers, re~leveled a fire ditch and built a living fence. Now the living fence will take another summer at the very least to start to really come to life. All the plants are doing well so far. We have an extra two meters depth of garden space that was hidden by the conifers before.

We created a new terrace which gives us a nice view back to the direction of the cottage and the side garden. It is right at the wooden fence which we put up between the living fence to allow ourselves and our neighbors privacy. Although I must admit we love chatting over the fence with our new neighbors who are a sheep farmer and his wife. Now to me, a farm is an idyllic life but they come to their cottage to get away from it all.

We had a bit of a problem with the gravel as we thought it would be darker. It is not what we wanted and we may add a layer of the same red split we used for our driveway to mix it and create a darker looking area. We have not quite finished as the bench needs to be moved back once we get some patio blocks to stabilize it. I used items I already had so far for the fence but we will be looking out for some wreaths now as I thought a couple of them would look nice on the fence.

A funny thing happened last Saturday. Friends came for dinner. We had a wonderful time eating Al Fresco. We decided to take a little walk before having our coffee and my friend asked me if I leave my pillows and cushions out when I am not sitting there. Horrified she said the birds will do their business on the quilt and pillows. Jos and I told her that had never happened in the four years we have the cottage. Well, yep, you guessed it! We came back and just a half an hour they had done their business not once...not twice...but three times. Did she jinx us saying that?

I am so lucky to be able to buy bouquets directly by a woman who grows flowers and sells them by the roadside. She only charges 2 euro for flowers like these cheerful sunflowers.

Now let me leave you this Friday with a challenge. Do you know what this plant is? It is growing among the wildflowers we get in the garden. I will reveal what it is on Sunday. I thought it would be fun to see if anyone knows it as Jos and I were surprised when I looked it up.

Have a wonderful weekend filled with happiness and contentment dear friends!