Thursday, June 18, 2009

All good things come to an end

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog. It has changed my perspective on life and helped me appreciate things even more. You see life and nature in detail as you blog about it. My blogger account is full and I am starting over with a clean slate and fresh ideas. I am having fun now with a new blog called The Cranberry Chronicle. I hope you will follow the link and join me there from now on.

To all who have commented on this blog over the years, I thank you. It has been wonderful to interact with you through here and I appreciate your comments. I treasure the online friendships I have made.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pink and black...

Pink and black really seem to add impact when you put them together. I did just that at my front door.

Do you remember me telling you about a garden project that we had? We bought a wrought iron garden table stand and a cut iron table top which Jos steel brushed and painted in black.

The table came up a dream by the time Jos was done with it! It is very heavy and so decorative.

I love dahlias and found these pretty pink ones in the garden center. They have a beautiful yellow tint in the center of the open flower petals.

This flower combined with the decoration on the table is a wonderful accent to welcome people to our front door.

Update on our disaster ~ Good news and bad looks like our wood floors will be okay and our floor in the cupboard is dry but our walls are still drenched and really smell. We have major damage to a wall which was just pastered so that will have to be totally redone. Thanks so much for all your kind words and support about the flooding. I do try to use my sense of humor to battle grey clouds in life and enjoyed that so many understood my choice in the Soggy Bottom Boys to sing to you while you read about my woes. *grins*

This will be my last blog entry on this blog. My account is full and I already started a new needlework blog. Once I have decided on a title, I will be starting my new home and garden blog also. I want to thank everyone who has read this blog and especially for the comments left. I have really enjoyed it! I promise to give you the link very soon right here so stay tuned.

Friday, June 12, 2009


This is me today! I don't have my energy built up at all yet but today was a real test of my endurance.

Yesterday our handyman showed up to install our over, hob and faucet. This morning, I got up and went downstairs only to walk into a puddle of water. I then realized there was a sound of water running. Here a pipe had burst and there was water everywhere. We called the man and he came right over. He found the problem and fixed it. He had a sweeper to sweep the water away. But then I realized that our cupboard under the stairs which is beside the kitchen was also flooded. He was long gone so I had to try and clean that up on my own. What a mess!

So I have my new oven but no energy to use it at the moment.

Monday, June 08, 2009

It arrived!

Look what arrived in the middle of my living room today! We finally have our oven and hob. What a terrible time we had with this. First, the one we ordered was delayed a week. Then we were called to say it would be six weeks followed by a call that it would now be the end of July. They also told us there was no guarantee that it would arrive then either. We just gave up.

The problem is that I want a nostalgic look oven in black and they are no longer in fashion. Things not in fashion in Holland are just impossible to find. A couple of companies are still making them but they are few and far between. I found this one which has a great oven and not so great fob. I want iron not metal for the fob but this had to be my comprise as the next choice would have been very much more money and I would have probably had to buy new pans as they would not have held up. That hob had an extra strong burner. So I made the comprise and the oven is sitting in my living room waiting our handyman's attention.

He also has to replace our brand new faucet which is not working. It is faulty and we arranged for a new one (different model as this one is no longer being produced...go figure) and to be able to return the other one as soon as the handyman can switch them. They wanted us to bring it in when we picked up the new faucet but we told them we would have no water and have to pay our handyman for an extra visit. This kind of thing is fine when you can do this work yourself but not when you are paying someone. I will be so glad to see the last part of the kitchen come together.

To top that off, my electric water cooker died this past week. I always said when it did I would not replace it with another. I want to go back to the old fashioned whistling tea kettle. I bought one for Cranberry Cottage and realized how much I miss waiting for my water to boil and hear that whistle blow. A simple pleasure in life. I have picked one out I would like but we have to get downtown which is not easy for me right now.

Did you know it is cherry season? Cherries are available now again in the shops here in Holland. Hard to believe that it was not that long again that I was posting about driving to see the cherry blossoms.

Jos loves warm cherry sauce on ice cream. He saw they had cherries in a jar on sale at the supermarket and brought home a jar which he left sitting on the counter for me to find. I place them in a saucepan with the liquid in the jar and simply add some cornstarch to bind them into a thicker sauce. It is a great treat on a summer's eve.

A further note about my health ~ I had my check up at the hospital on Friday. I was told with two to four new higher dosages, I should be in balance again and start feeling better. If it ends up only two dosages are needed, that will be feeling better by autumn. The doctor told me to remain patient. I am not a person to only lie around on the couch and it is hard. I did get a little disheartening news in that my second biopsy is needed and has now been scheduled for August. I am scared this time as my thyroid is becoming hard as a result of the treatment. My doctor gave me something to take starting the day before the biopsy to help me relax. I will be very glad when this is over.

Friday, June 05, 2009

My Edith Holden rose

Ever since I discovered The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady in a bookshop when I was a girl, I have loved and admired Edith Holden. Her handwritten diary is a joy to read over and over each year. Her life was also one I admire.

So when I found out quite by chance online that there was a rose named after her, I went on a search to find some for my garden. In the end, I found one nursery with them in Holland. I asked a friend who is from the area the nursery was if she had ever heard of the place. Not only did she know but her mother lived right next to it. She offered to have her mother go buy the rose bush for me and she would bring it back with her the next time she visited her mother. The bush is happily blooming again this summer. I just love it as I find it unique. So many ask me what rose is it as it is such an unusual color with a hint of brown in it. Up to this year, I kept it growing in a terracotta pot. I decided to plant it in the ground just under one of our maple trees this year. Edith is very happy there and blooming beautifully once again.

Friday, May 29, 2009

For the love of books...

At the beginning of the year, I had set a few goals for myself. I wanted to get some of my quilting and stitching projects finished and started reading more of my books that had sat neglected on the shelf. You never know what time will bring to you and with not feeling well, I am able to concentrate more on two of those goals than I had ever anticipated. I stitch a good deal as that is easy for me to do while I rest on the couch and I am reading.

My goal was to try and read about two books a month this year as I have many books that I had not gotten to in the past couple of years. My mother and I are always sharing cozy mysteries with each other and I let them stack up lately. My mother reads at an incredible speed which I do not. Some of them are rather older ones in a series. I pulled them from my bookshelves and have been working my way through them. You may get the impression that these are the only books I read but it is simply that I have so many needing to be read right now that I have decided to concentrate on these mysteries.

After having read three of them this month, I decided I need a break from mysteries and am rereading The Secret Garden as well as an Amish themed novel by Beverly Lewis. I want a change for next month's books. I am sure once I am feeling better, I will be up doing things and my pace of reading will slow down considerably. But for now, I rest with a cup of tea and a good book and it is not so bad at all. It is nice to see some open space again in my bookshelves for a change. It will bring me closer to my goal of adding more vintage books to my shelves if I can make more space as I pass on books to friends.

What kind of books are on your bookshelves? Are you like me and have many on your 'to be read' shelf? Do you have a favorite classic book that you like to reread?

"My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. "

~Thomas Helm

Note to Andylynne: If you read this, can you email me once again. I cannot find your email and would love to email you back!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Secret Garden

Welcome once again to our "secret garden". Our garden is at the front of our home as the house is built right in the water. We wanted to created a place that still felt secluded and mysterious even though it is on the road itself. Perhaps I have been influenced by a favorite children's book "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I find as the years go by, I am still fine tuning how I want the garden to feel and look (with the emphasis on the feeling in the garden). Many comment about this feeling when they visit our garden but I have not been able to put that into my photographs. I wish I could! Here are a few of the changes I was talking about in my last entry.

As you may remember, we added the iron gate last year. My wisteria has bloomed and now the green leaves are taking over. As they grow and combine with our red birch hedgerow, they add to the idea that you cannot see the entry gate right away from the street. But like little Mary Lennox, if you can find the door amongst the growth, you can enter the secret garden and it will come to life...

This year, we added a large urn which I have filled with pretty purple petunias. I love old fashioned flowers.

We also hung a mirror on one of the walls to add more depth to our tiny city garden. I fell in love with this mirror which is shaped like a church window.

I love the reflection of the flower filled urn in the mirror but it also gives the illusion that there is yet another garden room behind the wall.

One thing I find important is to look for accessories in your garden that really touch you. Little things like the lantern, child's wooden shoes and abstract bird statue I have placed on the wooden bench are just as important as the flowers in the garden.

If you have never read the children's book "The Secret Garden", why not treat yourself this summer. The story is about Mary Lennox who comes to live with her uncle at Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors after the death of her parents. The characters come to life on the pages of this joyous book and a perfect summer read. Do it for the child that lives in you! Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8:

"She looked at the key quite a long time. She turned it over and over, and thought about it. As I have said before, she was not a child who had been trained to ask permission or consult her elders about things. All she thought about the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden, and she could find out where the door was, she could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened to the old rose-trees. It was because it had been shut up so long that she wanted to see it. It seemed as if it must be different from other places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years. Besides that, if she liked it she could go into it every day and shut the door behind her, and she could make up some play of her own and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was, but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth. The though of that pleased her very much."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Spring is the season of change, of growth. In spite of all that I am facing with not being able to do much, we have been working on the garden to make a few changes. Here are a few of them done so far.....

A number of things have been repositioned like our sundial. I will reveal in the next post why we tucked it away in this spot now as we added some pretty new things to the garden. It no longer tells us the time where it is placed but we still love seeing it when we come into the garden. It was the first major thing we purchased for our garden after we got married and moved to Sweden over 22 years ago. We brought it back from there and have enjoyed it since.

This year, I moved all the planting between the poles of our pergola in the middle of the garden and replanted some here in the garden while others moved to Cranberry Cottage. I wanted to have rows of Annabella's which is a type of hydrangea to line the little path to the second terrace. They are growing well and starting to show a few buds. I am excited to see how well they will do in their first year in the garden. At the moment, our spring bulbs, wisteria and azaleas are all finished blooming so the garden is looking very green. The clematis is growing in leaps and bounds up the middle pergola with a promise of a roof like cover of many tiny blooms to come.

I have not planted as many vegetables and herbs this year. We have sage, basil and parsley all growing well... well as two types of specialty leaf lettuces. We love eating salads in the summer and I find it fun as well as frugal to have these more expensive types of lettuce to pick leaves as I want them.

Our garden dame was disappearing among the growth so this year, we raised her up on a wooden pedestal which is already hidden among the planting. This is a statue that Jos just loved and bought many years ago. She has adorned 3 of our gardens and still looks lovely. Enjoy the words of this verse which to me paint a picture of the feeling of the season in our garden.

"The young May moon is beaming, love.
The glow-worm's lamp is gleaming, love.
How sweet to rove,
Through Morna's grove,
When the drowsy world is dreaming, love!
Then awake! -- the heavens look bright, my dear,
'Tis never too late for delight, my dear,
And the best of all ways
To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!"

~ Thomas Moore ~

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Nots are the sweetest little flowers. Suddenly each spring, they are somewhere totally new in your garden. Like foxgloves, perhaps not a plant for the fainthearted as they will go wonder through your garden as they wish. I love that about both foxgloves and forget me nots. It is as if the flower fairies have played with them in the night and then coaxed them out to surprise in the morning sunshine. A little elfin hide and seek. This year once again, they are looking very beautiful at Cranberry Cottage.

I am sorry that it has been a large timespan between posts. I choose to share my forget me nots as I have not forgotten my dear blogging friends but had some complications as a result of the radioactive therapy done in March. The therapy was to try and shrink the enlarge thyroid which is otherwise health and functioning. Or it was until a couple of weeks ago. At Easter, I had fallen on the stairs and at the time thought it felt like I had no legs for a moment and just went down. I assumed it was my fibromyalgia. Only after seeing my doctor for my check up the same week, did she tell me that we had to watch out for certain symptoms including extreme muscle weakness and pain. Only later did it click that this probably caused my fall.

At the time, I told her I would never notice the symptoms she mentioned as many mirror the fibromyalgia. I was so very wrong about this. I became actually sick and had to call the hospital. She asked if I had a way to get to the hospital right then and there. Luckily, Jos was working from home that day and he ran me over. They did up my blood work and she called me the next day to say she was faxing our local pharmacy to get me started on medication immediately. She said I have had an extreme reaction to the therapy and my thyroid has stopped. It will improve after I have been on the medicine for a while. She told me I will see an improvement before I go back in for my check up. I did have to run to the emergancy doctor's post this past weekend and was put on antibiotics for a severe sinus infection which was making the breathing from the enlarged thyroid worse. That has really improved how I feel also.

Right now, I spend my days on the couch feeling very cold so I am wrapped up in a quilt I just finished which you can read about here on my other blog. I am not well but okay. I am so glad this problem is fixable with time so I keep myself occupied with DVDs and my stitching. I already finished a little sampler dedicated to my grandmother which you can see here. I am enjoying watching my double DVD of the life of the Bronte sisters wishing I was well enough for us to go to Haworth once again. Since I do nap a great deal, I can just doze off and dream of going there. *grins*

All things considered, I am doing fine and just need to find patience to hold me through the coming weeks as I wait for my body to respond and it will. Thank you for your comments and emails. I am trying to visit a couple of blogs each day now that I do feel a little better. I miss it when I don't stop in to visit with you.

When bees hum in the linden tree
and roses bloom in cottage plots.

Along the brookside banks we see
the blue wild forget-me-nots.

~ Patience Strong ~

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Astonishing wisteria...

Each year at this time, we are again astonished by the beauty surrounding our garden literally. Jos and I have always loved wisteria and never had success in growing it until we planted it in our city garden. This tiny garden hosts hundreds of heavenly scented blooms each year. Each year, we are awed once again by its pure beauty. The Dutch call wisteria 'blue rain' which is exactly as it looks right now. It started to really blossom on Sunday and is going to peak this weekend. I am happy it is timed just right with having a few Dutch needlework bloggers over to my house on Sunday for High Tea.

We are making some subtle changes to our garden this year. Since I took these photos on Sunday, a few things have changed and I promise to share more about that later. What is happening in your garden this week?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Of wood and dandelions...

We had a very busy weekend up at Cranberry Cottage. Jos has long been wanting a woodshed to store our firewood. This weekend, the carpenter came and built the woodshed. It is just amazing. I joked right away that it looks so nice, I want to live in it. *grins* We have to now lay a bit of sand and either tile or gravel the bottom so we can place some pellets on it to stack our firewood on. I am just tickled pink with how nice it looks. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would look this nice when we discussed our ideas with the carpenter. Take a look for yourself...

Last week, I was talking to my friend Joni via Skype. We were talking about gardening. Now Joni believes that dandelions are a flower. I guess Mother Nature agrees with you Joni because we stopped the car so I could jump out and take these photos for you. It is a pretty field with yellow flower...yep, they are dandelions and I have to admit they are a sight of beauty like this!

I wish you an inspiring Monday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old Dutch look kitchen...

The kitchen is practically finished and I was excited to share some photos with you. The practically finished part will be revealed in a moment.

Click on the photos to enlarge them...

First, I searched for some photos of my kitchen as it was. I hated it. I lived with it for almost 13 years and tried to do things to make it feel cheerful and cozy while also creating light but I just could not make it work. Our living room is a U shape and the kitchen falls in the middle of the house with no window and no natural light. I called it "The Black Hole".

I realize I must have really hated it as I cannot find a photo of the kitchen. Only this photo taken in the kitchen of a gift I made for my niece's baby. You get a pretty good idea from this photo how dark it was in there. I have not changed the lights and the cupboards are the same but it now is a different world to me at least. Gone are the teal plain doors that shined but still looked dark... Gone is the drab and heavy drainboard of beech that always looked dirty... Gone is the floral tile border we had put in as an attempt to cheer up the space...

I now have a kitchen that reflects my love of old Dutch. The "bones" of the kitchen have not changed but we have a "new" kitchen for a very budget price. We had fun searching for the elements which I knew I wanted to include in the kitchen. It really feels like my own creation since we did the remodel this way and not just go into a kitchen shop to order a new kitchen. Both Jos and I have enjoyed watching it come together.

I knew a couple of elements I wanted to use including this tap which I matches the smaller version of our tap in the downstairs half bath or WC as we call it. I love the nostalgic look of the porcelain knobs with hot and cold.

Our new tiles are called "Hollandse witjes". These tiles are still being produced from as early as the 17th century. In order to be "witjes" they must measure 13 cm by 13 cm. They are all uneven and not necessarily perfectly square. They have a highly glazed finish which is why they were well loved. The tiles reflect light very well and created a light look to a dark kitchen back in the 1600s. What worked then, certainly works now. Our handyman stayed later than he intended the first day he did the finishing last week, even though it was his birthday. He wanted to see how the tiles were going to look so we did one wall before he left. I handed him the tiles in the order I wanted them put up. There are three shades which needed randomly placed. By enlarging this photo, you can really see how the tiles are uneven. This is what gives them their charm.

These wooden knobs are also still being made and can be found in very old Dutch farmhouses. One of the first things we searched for was a wood turner who still makes these.

I started out wanting a white sink but Jos talked me into going with the stainless steel again for ease of cleaning. I really like the shape of this sink now that it is in.

The drainboard is also the same look as found in original old Dutch kitchens.

We choose a cream color when we had our doors sprayed. I am very happy with how they turned out. Jos just painted my shelves which were also antriciet. We still have to touch up the walls after putting the shelves back and we are finished.

Here is my great gaping hole where the oven will be. I choose an antriciet nostalgic look oven and hob which they don't keep stock as they are not ordered often according to the company. I will wait patiently as I am sure it will be worth it. But having to eat takeaways for more than a month is not an option for me. Jos drilled an opening for my gas to connect to a loose hob which we were able to buy cheaply secondhand until the appliances arrive. We just made sure the hole falls within the area that our new hob will be placed. After all, necessity is the mother of invention as the saying goes...

My wall of speculaas moulds remains as it was. I really have a weakness for these beautiful cookie forms and the cookies themselves. *grins*

This cupboard used to go right up to the ceiling and extended out with hallogen spots to the other side. I was so glad to see the spots gone but also liked having the cupboard above the built in fridge gone also to create a more open feeling. The side was antriciet and we had it drywalled and skimmed so I could use the same paint as the rest of the room. This does not jump out at you now when you come into the dining area of our living room.

Edit: My mother just asked me if the tile are yellow but they look more so than they are in real life. They are the creamy color of real butter.