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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In the pink...

This time of year as things start to blossom, I like to add a few pink accents to the house.

Jos came home from buying some groceries for me on Saturday morning with a bouquet of pink tulips. Aren't they pretty?

I also like using some of my vintage books that pertain to the season along with nests for decorating.

Two pink quilts I made that work together on my couch for some spring color.

Pink renoncules in my urns on the sidetable.

And this little man is in the pink soaking up the last rays of sunshine during a very busy time here. Our kitchen is just about done with Jos needing to rehang some shelves he painted. We also found a temporary solution to having no oven or hob until the order comes in. I hope that I can share some photos of it with you in the next day or so once our shelves are back in. We are both thrilled with how it has turned out. Dagi found it all to be a bit tiresome and even came downstairs to have a discussion with our handyman about all the 'goings on'. Perhaps all that meowing is what wore him out. *grins*

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apple blossom time! - Part two

We now travel to the village of Ingen. This village is so picturesque that you just have to stop and take a look around. There is a beautiful ancient church, a windmill called 'Op Hoop Van Beter' (In Hope of Better) and amazing old homes. There are cherry orchards right in the middle of the village. Take a moment to walk around charming Ingen with me...

My mother told me I needed to find the song Apple Blossom Time for my blog. The only version I found was so old and made her giggle. She says it is from my grandmother's time but I think a classic is always good.

Note: Our kitchen renovation is coming along nicely. We have the new worktops and faucet installed. I also helped our handyman with one wall of tiling before the day was over. I am afraid we got some bad news that the oven and hob that I picked out will not just be a week delayed but a month. Not fun as I have no oven or hob now. We put our heads together and I realized we have a stove top that is able to be brought down here from Cranberry Cottage. The handyman is going to drill a small hole where the new hob will be inserted so I can use this one until our new one comes in. It will mean improvising for a while but I don't want to change my choice in the oven and hob. More photos will come as things are a little farther along...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Apple blossom time! - Part one

The Easter long weekend holiday is behind us but I wanted to share our day out in The Betuwe, an area of Holland where the fruit orchards are. It is apple blossom time in Holland and with the sunny weather we had over the weekend, it was a great day out for our Easter holiday.

We used the ferry to cross the river and stopped at the first farm that is a tea room. It is called Hofstede De Koningslinde in a village called Eck en Wiel. A link to the farm's website can be found here. The farm is open as a Bed and Breakfast and also as a tea room. The owners are very friendly and welcoming. We enjoyed sitting in the sunshine while enjoying a piece of Yvonne's homemade apple pie. Take a moment to enjoy the slideshow for an impression...

Next time, more on apple blossom time!

Note: Thank you for the many comments about my new header photo. The quilt is one that I did make myself. Some of the blocks were given to me from ladies in my quilt group when we held a log cabin block swap.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter bunny is remodeling

Do you remember back in November when I showed you the start of our kitchen remodeling project? You can read about it here and here. A few have asked me since then if they missed the finish. No...we are still very busy working on it.

When we finally decided on a worktop, we had to order and wait over 6 weeks for it to come in. Our tiles were the easy part to order as I knew I wanted "Hollandse witjes" which are reproductions of the old handmade Dutch tiles from the 16th century. We are using three shades ~ white, cream and beige. Now the beige is a darker cream to me but this will give the look you find in old Dutch kitchen.

Our handyman called to say he had time again between jobs and could come this week. This meant we needed to use this long holiday weekend to hack the old tiles off the walls. You can see the old tiles in the first photo. They are tiled over another layer of tiles so Jos had to get through both layers back to the bare walls.

What a mess it made but after getting through inch by inch in the corners, he was able to get them off easily. They started coming off in big plates of three tiles and double layers at a time. We thought it would take him all weekend but instead he started at 2pm on Saturday and was all finished by 6pm including me cleaning the kitchen to be able to cook again.

Of course, now our garden is a mess. We carried bucket after bucket outside. But I am so excited to see the rest of the kitchen come together now. I am saying a prayer that my new oven and stove top arrive by Thursday. Last week, my hot air oven died for the third time and we have decided it is not worth the money to repair it again. I think it was meant to work out this way as we can have the stove top placed in the new worktop now.

Coffee breaks did have a little Easter flavor to them. These bonbons are so adorable. I must admit that I did not like them though and Jos gets to eat the whole box. I don't think he minds that at all. *grins*

Easter morning was a quiet and relaxed time for us. We has our breakfast and spent time on our laptops. I was able to make some blog rounds to wish people a happy Easter.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A hidden violet...

On Good Friday, a tiny reminder of miracles and surprises of nature is found in my garden. I did not plant this sweet little violet but here it is blooming so prettily in a small corner.

Violets stand for modesty in the language of flowers.

"This humble flower has been celebrated in poetry and romance from ancient time and is mmuch loved for its delicate powdery scent. It was widely referred to by Shakespeare, who called it "forward", for it blooms early and heralds the approach of summer. The plant is often described as modest for hiding it dark beauty away in the long grass and for flowering so fleetingly.

There are many stories regarding the Violet's name, but it almost certainly originated in Greece where it is considered the flower of Zeus, the king of the gods. Legend has it that Zeus was in love with a beautiful maiden called Io and in order to protect her from Hera, his jealous wife, he changed her into a beautiful calf. Then in order to feed her with delicacies, he commanded the earth to bring forth a beautiful flower in her honour, which he named Ion, the Greek word for Viola."

~ from Penhaligon's The Language of Flowers

“The splendor of the rose and the whitness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its lovliness.”

~ Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter eggs appearing in our home...

Is the Easter bunny on his way? Our home has suddenly starting showing signs of him.

There are fabric Easter eggs in our entrance hall. I just finished making these yesterday. They were great fun and easy to do.

Then a find in a little shop in Havelte up north called Thuis(Home). I loved these little egg ornaments and decided I needed to do an Easter tree this year. I used to do an Easter tree each year and then stopped and gave away all my ornaments.

But these sweet little eggs tempted me. They are metal and I just love the cutouts on them as well as the aged effect. I will be looking forward to my next visit to this shop!