Colours

These are my pretties. I love sitting down and fully concentrating on a colouring sheet. I bought myself an agenda which alternates between actual [useful] stuff and colouring sheets. For me it’s a great way to relax. It kinda feels like meditating, without the boring parts.

Fantasising…

image(14) Since the 2nd of February I no longer have a high speed internet connection at home. Since the 2nd of February I no longer have any internet connection at home, none except for the 3G connection in my cellphone. It is weird because when my laptop is on I find myself clicking on the Firefox icon, realising I have no connection… and realising I have nothing I really need to look up. I have a lot more free time. Time I spend with a little cleaning up, but mostly going back to an old love… books!

My uncle gave me loads of paperback crime novels he no longer had any use for. I love the mystery, although I end up getting some twisted, bloody dreams every once in a while. Dreams in which people I know are getting murdered in bizarre ways. Luckily they aren’t really nightmares, because I don’t wake up screaming or even afraid. They are weird though, because when I watched [I no longer, because..  well lack of internet and time because I actually have a job] a lot of police dramas I never really had such dreams.

Besides my regular books I still love my audiobooks. I really loved the last one I listened The Gem series by Kerstin Gier. It’s a trilogy about a girl who discovers she is a timetraveler. What follows is a story about intrigue, betrayal and romance.

Maybe I miss my high speed internet connection when I see an empty Firefox window, but I have enough books left to not miss the internet at all. I think I will remove the Firefox icon from my desktop.

[But you will hear from me and my mobile again]

Chinese Christmas Lights

I went with my parents, brother and his girlfriend to the Botanic Gardens in Utrecht on Christmas Day. There was a really beautiful exposition of Chinese lighted installations. I really enjoyed myself and wanted to share some of the pictures I took. They are made with a cheap smartphone, but they turned out really good. [Although I do have to credit either my brother or his girlfriend with the dragon picture, theirs was better.] Further we played Trivial Pursuit, ate goulash and did some preparations for the day after.

In The Netherlands we not only celebrate Christmas Day but also the day after. I know some people know this day as Boxing Day, but we know it as Second Christmas Day. This year we celebrated Second Christmas Day with my mothers family. We played Trivial Pursuit [again] this time with most of my cousins, I made Apfelstrudel with my sister as dessert, and played a pub quiz I helped organize.  I had a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will have a Christmas dinner with my Dungeons and Dragons friends and then the Christmas period is officially over and I will start of making New Years resolutions… Happy Christmas!

Scouting Creatives

image(168)I also found some picture of projects we did with our cub scouts [aged 7 to 13]. I love doing creatives with them, because that means that I can do one myself. I discovered that they would take longer and work more precise when the leaders are participating, instead of just hovering and waiting to see if we can help.

We bought little bottles at Ikea and glass paint. I [and our kinds] thought it was really fun to do because it’s different from normal creative projects. The hardest part was taking care that the paint wouldn’t drip. The easy part was that the paint was easy to remove with a wet cloth. Afterwards we filled the bottles with sweets and gave them out as mothers day gifts.

image(169)My favourite shop for creatives is the action. It’s a Dutch non-food discounter. They have so much and everything is really cheap.

We bought blow pens there. We made stencils we used to create our artworks. Afterwards we laminated them and the end results were place mats we immediately used for our diner. I kept mine simple because I had to help the kids more than with most projects, but even so I liked the end result. It reminds me a little of this painting I saw in the Kröller-Müller Museum, which of course was many, many times better.

image(170)The last for today is this collage. Our kids are working for their journalist badge. They were making newspapers. They cut pictures out magazines and invented their own stories to go with them. My group was doing really well so I started making this whilst I was advising them. Not quite sure what I would do with this, but the colours are pretty.

Buitenkunst [Part II]

image(164)Read here about my other adventures at Buitenkunst.

These paintings I made in a workshop about abstract painting, where we were only allowed to use a maximum of 20 brush strokes. The assignment was to paint vacation memories, either a specific memory or an impression.

image(166)I choose the trip I went on with my parents to Ypres Salient. The scene of some of the biggest battles in World War I.
Which I wrote many posts about.

image(165)The first painting I made was still reasonable figurative, because as it turned out I found this assignment hard to do. In the next two painting I used the same colour scheme. The green/white/blue representing nature, the vastness of the landscapes and the now. The red/grey/black representing the history and the deaths. Making the third one the ‘teacher’ told me to try to work freehand, instead of trying to get the precise hard lines of the second one. I like the hard edges in the second better, but the green/blue/white in the third came out far better.

image(167)The last one I did I let go of all the things I did before and tried to find a new interpretation. I used forest colours as a background. The red and blue area are to symbolise the opposing armies. The white line is the ease with which you are able to walk around now. I don’t really like this one, but I can’t really say why. It just doesn’t work for me.

Once again, I’m not pretending this is amazing art, but it was a very interesting exercise. It made me push my boundaries, because I would never make work like this otherwise. It’s a shame but I don’t have any photographs of other work I did at Buitenkunst. I do have a couple of stories I wrote [in Dutch] but I am still contemplating if I want to post them on here.

Buitenkunst [Part I]

image(163)This past summer I went to Buitenkunst, which translates to ‘Outside Art’, a camping which offers workshops in all kinds of art forms. I did a lot of awesome things, like attending various writing and painting workshops. We also translated Johnny Cash music in Dutch and sang it together. There were also a lot of drama and dance performances [for which I didn’t attend any workshops]. It was really cool but I never really took the time to upload some of the art I made there. So I decided I shouldn’t put it off any longer. This is the first and others will follow.

These paintings I made in a workshop about minimalism. The assignment was to paint a detail and keep painting that same detail the entire workshop. We weren’t ‘allowed’ to start over, but encouraged to keep changing little or big things during the day. The photo above was the result and the photos below show the painting in progress. I’m not saying this is great art, but it was a very interesting process. The detail I choose was a part of my aviators, but at some point I also started to associate it with a sad figure, hunched over and head down.

Read here about my other adventures at Buitenkunst.

Harder Better Faster Stonger

image(10)People who know me, know that I have had a really hard year, or maybe even years. Not that there were major negative life events or even deaths. I ‘just’ was overworked and got severely depressed, to the point that I seriously considered suicide. Luckily I got help before I acted on it, and gradually I started to feel better. I started doing things I liked and spoke with a psychologist. I still feel inadequate when things don’t work out the way I thing they should or when I fail to live up to the ridiculously high standards I set for myself. However there is an important change because I get better at putting those things in perspective and my instinct is no longer immediately ‘I might as well give up’, but is shifting more and more to ‘Let’s try again’. This week is the very first I had in which everyday I did something I was proud of and/or made me feel good about myself and the future. For me this is a huge thing, so I felt like sharing!

[Technically the week has two more days left, but tomorrow I go rowing and then to my scouts for the weekend. Both of which have never made me feel bad about myself, although there were times I just couldn’t gather the energy to do them, so I have put them in the win column already.]

June and July

image(44)Obviously things happened the past two months. Great things, average things and even things I rather forget. I wrote about none of them. At least not on here. However I joined up on Twitter and Instagram and I did some updates there, mostly about the awesome things, because – let’s face it – social media is mostly about bragging about your life…

So what happened? I went on a scouting camp, twice. Once a King Arthur themed camp, complete with costumes [made by my mother] and home-made plastic swords [made by my dad and me]. The other weekend we made place mats, built models and received an incredible amount of presents, as a thank you for our efforts. All of which was awesome.

I made new friends in the complex where I live and started playing Dungeons and Dragons, went to a midsummer night party where I didn’t know anybody [and still enjoyed myself] and watched one of the World Cup matched in the common room. All of which is a huge victory over myself as I often am uncomfortable around new people. So I’m kind of proud and have gotten to know some really cool people.

I saw the musical ‘Soldier of Orange‘, with my mother, sister and sister-in-law. It’s based on the autobiography of Erik Hazelhoff, who lived trough the Second World War. He was a spy and later a RAF-pilot. After seeing the musical, I read the book and it was – if possible – even more impressive. I literally sat in the bus reading my book with tears in my eyes and finished the last pages as I was walking from the bus stop to my house.

I had some more family time as we [my mother’s family] gathered at my aunt’s house and camped in her backyard, which has a pool. I [again] got a sunburn, but it was fun and we played a lot of board games. I went to the Kröller-Müller with my parents and to the Efteling with my cousin. Also I went to visit my other cousins circus, Cirque Moustache. That sounds so impressive, and it is. He did a really good job putting his own circus together. It is mostly for children, but it was still very enjoyable.

We celebrated my mothers birthday and pre-birthday [the day on which everybody you want to be there actually can be]. I celebrated my own pre-birthday as my parents left on holiday yesterday [only three more nights and I’ll be 28]. I got a new battery for my laptop, a blender [which sadly hasn’t been delivered yet], a refrigerator [at least I will when my brother moves to Groningen] and a tent [which I will take with me on holiday in a couple of days]!

And finally after a sixth try I passed my theory exam so I can try to get my driver’s license. Although six is far to often to think of it as some amazing accomplishment I still am proud. I kept trying and in doing so I saw something of my country as there was a long waiting time to take the test here in Utrecht. So I after I tried three times in Utrecht, I tried once in Amsterdam, once in Baarndrecht and finally [and successfully] in Nijmegen. So a reason for a celebration.

That were some of the fun and successful parts of June and July. I’m looking forward to my birthday [in three days] and the vacation I’m going on [two days after that]. I’m going to ‘Buitenkunst’, which translates to ‘Outside Art’, a camping which offers workshops in all kinds of art forms. I’m going on my own, which is scary, but I’m excited.

Leibster Award

image(146)A really, really long time ago. I received two nominations for the Leibsteraward. Leibsteraward is basically an informal way to draw attention to lesser known Blogs you like to read.

So I would like to thank CKB.Reviews and Sarah Rhea
Share 11 things about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.

So… my 11 facts:
1. Up to when I was 16 I wanted to be a cop.
2. I can’t leave my house without my blue-tooth headphones, as that would mean having no music or audio book.
3. I did a major in philosophy because of the book ‘Sophies World‘ by Jostein Gaarder.
4. I wear my earrings asymmetrically, I have two small hoops on one side and three studs and a pierced cuff on the other. I only ever change the cuff, the others I have since my 16th.
5. I’m a TV-addict who doesn’t own a TV, as I enjoy American and British TV so much more than Dutch TV.
6. I don’t have any depth perception as there is something wrong in how my brain interprets the signals given by my eyes.
7. I ‘speak’ four language, although I’m only fluent in Dutch and English. I did have lessons in French and German, but I can only say/understand the basics.
8. My shoe-size is 44 [UK: 9,5 and US: 10], resulting in me wearing mostly sneakers, as women’s shoes are hard to come by and expensive in my size.
9. I have two framed posters in my room. One is a map of Westeros the other is of the tenth and eleventh doctor.
10. I have a brother and a foster-sister, who lived with us for so long I don’t know any better. I also had two other foster-sisters but I haven’t got much contact with them. Both of them lived with us for about two years [not at the same time].
11. I hate t-shirts with store-bought prints because almost always they are weird or meaningless. So I mostly wear plain shirts or once with self-made prints.

My slightly more than 11 answers, because I had two sets…
1. If you could have one of these things which would you want out of: Money, Power, Fame?
Fame seems to be highly irritating with people following you and always wanting your attention and without money you won’t be able to escape it, so that’s a no. Power would be good as it is real power to do big things like stopping war or famine, I don’t however thing that, that kind of power exist for one person to have, or should exist. So I would choose money, because you can do good things with money too, and it has the added bonus that you can live comfortable yourself.
2. If you could go back in time to when you were 13 and re-live your life, knowing what you know now. Would you?
Why not I like high school and I liked university. I love studying and there were always cool people to hang out with. Also there wasn’t as much pressure to know where you are going with your life.
3. What is your favourite joke?
I like kermit-jokes. They however don’t really work in English. The Dutch word for frog is kikker, so he is called Kermit the Kikker. Then you take a word which rhyme with kikker like sticker or snicker [and there are many more in Dutch]. So you could ask ‘it’s green and sticky? Kermit the sticker’ or ‘it’s green with peanuts? Kermit the Snicker’.
4. Using only the numbers, 2,3,4,5 and the symbols + and = can you make a ‘true equation’ without google?
Yes because I’m awesome and studying to be a math teacher and just to demonstrate my true equation is ‘2 + 5 = 3 + 4′
5. Put iTunes on shuffle. What are the next 5 songs that get played?
Ed Sheeran – Fire Alarms
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
Hayden Panettiere – Telescope
Flogging Molly – The Worst Day Since Yesterday
The Script – If You Ever Come Back
6. If you could invite anyone [living or dead] to a fantasy dinner party which 5 people would you pick?
I feel like I should give these really sophisticated answers, but then I would be sitting at a table with these incredible minds and feeling stupid and not knowing what to say and these incredible people will have this very interesting conversation and I’m not really able to follow it… So maybe I should opt for the more accessible people? Or a mix…
Jostein Gaarder, because as I said he wrote the book that influenced my choices the most.
Aaron Sorkin, he wrote The West Wing.
George R.R. Marin, out of his mind came this elaborate world with its own history, religions and culture.
Barack Obama, as the “leader of the free world” [which I do not subscribe to] he must have a fascinating life and I think he and Sorkin would have an amazing conversation.
Herman van Veen, because of Dutch/Utrecht-pride and he has amazing songs, but also wrote this very intelligent children’s cartoon which has all these deep-real world themes.
7. If you could pick one thing to happen in your future, what would it be?
I would write this amazing book.
8. Quick, a zombie smashes into your house, you have 3 seconds to grab the object closest to you. What is that object?
Actually I made swords from PVC pipes, insulation foam and duct tape. I made them for our cub scouts. This weekend we have a King Arthur themed camp. I have no clue if they would actually be useful against a zombie, but it looks badass. So one of those.
9. What one moral issue can you honestly say you would never bend on? [For instance, not eating meat for a vegetarian.]
Murder isn’t something to do lightly?
10. Fight or Flight
After this last year I would say fight.
11. What is the best story you have regarding a life event?
I can remember the day my sister came to live with us. I was seven, so this is over 20 years ago. We didn’t have a car so we went to pick her up by train. When we were walking from the children’s home she used to live to the station she realised she forgot her teddy bear and my father had to run back and get it so we wouldn’t miss the train. The image of my father running with a backpack is the one thing that made the biggest impression on me that day. I vowed to never run with a backpack. I liked that it was that what I remember most about that day, because it makes her coming to live with her so much more normal. She has been my sister for over 20 years now and I really don’t know or remember how our family was without her.
12. Who was the last person to whom you said “I love you”?
Probably my mother.
13. Who would you want to play you if your life was a movie?
That’s a hard question. First one who comes to mind is Kate Moennig, not that she resembles me in any way, but I liked her character Shane on The L Word and wished I could be a little more laid back like that.
14. You win the lottery, all debt has been paid off and you’ve already given money to your friends and/or family to help them out, what is your first frivolous purchase for yourself?
I would like a large penthouse, something with very few walls and lots of space, preferably in The Hague, so it’s close to the beach but still in a city.
15. Day or Night?
Absolutely night.
16. You’re having a dinner party with 3 guests…who is with you? This is the twist…1 is living, 1 is dead, 1 is a fictional person or being.
Kind of similar to question #6, but those were all real and living [as far as I know]. So one of them and Nelson Mandela, because my parents named me after his wife and of course The Doctor, preferably ten or eleven.
17. Guiltiest pleasure?
I have more than one. Definitely ‘Kinderen voor Kinderen‘ it’s a children choir which releases a new CD every year in December. When I was younger we listened to them endlessly and knew most of the songs by heart and I still enjoy listening to them at times, because it is pure nostalgia.
18. Where are you in 10 years?

At this point I’m not willing to look further than nine months, then I will have my teaching qualification and I will make a decision. Hopefully happy and alive.
19. What is your favourite colour?
Red or denim.
20. Do you have a token [book, bear, blanket, etc…] of your childhood you haven’t been able to let go?
Not really…
21. What’s your favourite curse word? If you don’t have one, what’s your favourite word?
I’m trying to quit cursing, because I think cursing isn’t the best example to set. I like the word ‘incommensurabiliteit’ it’s the Dutch version of ‘incommensurability‘ it means as much as there not being an objective reason to choose between two different theories. Also I like the word ‘ace’ for something [or someone] that is cool/excellent.
22. When all your dreams come true, who do you want standing beside you? [bonus kudos if you know where this question comes from]
I want my bonus kudos this is One Tree Hill! But I wouldn’t choose Lucas… Not quite sure who I would choose in real life either.

Done and done!

My parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary….

image(145)This year my parents are married for 30 years, which is amazing. Two weeks ago we, my parents, my sister, brother and his girlfriend and I, went to Hoek van Holland for two nights to celebrate. [A slight downgrade from the two weeks in Greece five years ago, but still a great way to celebrate.]

Hoek van Holland, which literally means the edge of Holland, is a seaside-town. So we went swimming and flying a kite. I got a sunburn, which means nothing because I always get a sunburn even if there is only the slightest amount of sun, but the weather was in fact great.

Hoek van Holland is also the place were all the ferries to Harwich in England leave. As my aunt was going to visit her son in Manchester we went to the pier watched her ferry leave. We waved and we think we saw her wave back, but as the boat was to far to actually recognize people standing on it we weren’t sure.

The next day we went to Rotterdam, where my sister’s boyfriend had the premier of his play. It had a great soundtrack with exclusively songs of David Bowie. Afterwards we hung out at the theatre for a little after party. We ended up going to dinner in restaurant which used to house a school for train machinists. There was lots of sun on the terrace and it was a great ending for the weekend.

The leaning Tower of Pisa

image(144)I was always convinced that the leaning Tower of Pisa stands in the middle of a big green. It’s a tower and except for the obligatory ‘look I’m holding it up right’-picture [which my sister pulled of great] it’s not that much of an attraction.

Not true however. The tower doesn’t actually stand on the green, although there is green on one side. Also there isn’t this large space around it. It stands next to a cathedral, which together with a baptistery, cemetery and two museums constitute the tourist attraction that is the leaning Tower of Pisa. I think that in the end we spend about four hours looking around. Take into account that we skipped one of the museums. I was really glad that my sister said she really wanted to go there on the way back from Florence to the airport in Pisa. I might very well have opted to skip it, and that would have been a shame because it’s very impressing.

Comeback

image(143)I’ve been back from Florence for over a month now, but I kind of quit uploading new posts. It was more irritating then I expected to type on my phone and it did some weird things to the lay-out, so I postponed and when I came home I postponed some more, for less obvious reasons.

Yesterday I decided I would start-up again. I reworked the layout and this is my ‘I’m back!’-post. The picture is of a statue of Dante. I took it in Florence and I love the contrast and the dark look it has. Normally I take a lot of pictures of buildings, statues, paintings and the view when on holiday. Almost always those are the ones you never look at again, because they don’t show the people you were on vacation with. This one however, is the background picture for my phone. So I get to look at it everyday.

My adventures at the ‘Duomo’

image(142)Today we planned to go up the Duomo, the dome. Our original plan was to go at 8:15, as the lines probably wouldn’t be as long. That was voted down as my sister wanted to at least sleep in a little and my dad planned to buy fresh bread at the bakery which opened at eight. Eventually we stood in line at 9:20. The rain was pouring down and there was no movement. Even though we decided last night that if the line was too long we would go earlier tomorrow, we didn’t. So we stood in line for about an hour and a half. Luckily the rain changed to just a drip about midway through.

When it was finally our turn, we made the 460+ steps up to the top of the dome. I was hyper ventilating, sweating and scared. My family was sweet and caring. I sat unmovingly as far away from the edge, just shy of having my eyes closed. They were enjoying the view and taking pictures. The picture above is the view you – and I – missed.

You might ask yourself why torture myself like this and the answer is simple. This is the cheaper and safer form of bungee jumping and it even gives you more time to take in the view. I’m scared to go and really don’t want to, but when it’s done it gives a massive kick and I’m proud of myself. I did make a deal with myself though: I have to do each view only once. That means I’m now allowed to skip the Eifel tower [Paris], The Sagrada  Família [Barcelona],  St. Peter’s Basilica [Vatican], St. Paul’s Cathedral [London], The Fehrnsehturm [Berlin] and of course the Dom tower in my home town Utrecht.

Observations made in Florence

image(141)1. The Italian name for Florence is Firenze and every time I see it written somewhere I think about the centaur in Harry Potter.

2. They don’t know how to number their houses. When we were looking for our apartment, number 15, we found two in the same street. Also the numbers don’t ascent or descent, but are randomized.

3. Evidently it’s okay to list prices without taxes and not mention it. We had to pay around 10 euros extra for our diner. To which my dad – an econ teacher – remarked “at least these Italians pay their taxes”.

4. We have an amazing view from our bedroom, evident by the picture above. However the window is so high we need to stand on our bed to see it.

5. The street vendors have access to a zillion umbrellas, even when there is hardly any rain. Those are called umbrellos or umbrellies. They also have a zillion sunglasses, belts, scarves and reproductions of famous painting not to be found in Florence and for some reason Heath Ledger as the Joker.

6. The clothing stores are longer open than the supermarkets. Also there almost aren’t any ‘normal’ supermarkets only really small ones which only sell some essentials. Although they really make an effort to pack in as much as they can.

7. I scored three new postcards for my collection ‘Consequences of war’ by Pieter Paul Rubens, ‘The vision of Ezechiel’ by Raffael and ‘Sleeping Cupid’ by Caravaggio.

8. There is graffiti everywhere, except maybe the biggest two or three monuments. A lot of the buildings are in poor condition even if they are considered cultural heritage. This seems to be normal for Italy as they have so much cultural heritage and not enough money for restoration and upkeep.

That’s it for now… tomorrow we are going to see the museum Uffizi. As a fan of Caravaggio I will certainly enjoy it.