October 19, 2009


I am working in a sketch book made in India and I wouldn't be surprised if it's the famous Elephant Dung paper. However I think that it may be produced in Sri Lanka. More elephants there, you see. If it were made in India, it would possibly be made from cow dung. Got to make do with what you've got, I say. Still, my pencil occasionally collides with rather sizable pieces of straw no matter what chewed it.

Whether or not there is poop involved, it works fine for what I am doing: making rough sketches for designs that I am going to stencil on fabric (very excited). While drawing these, I became suspiciously aware of their familiarity until I realized that I grew up with this design. My family had a company that made gorgeous (now there's a word I seldom use) embroideries on evening gowns, bridal gowns and all kind of gowns. I call them gowns and not just dresses because they belonged to another world, where people dressed up and went to the opera, wore gloves and stolas, and, for heaven's sake, used cigarette holders. Those people did not wear a dress, they wore a gown and an especially gorgeous one if it had been through the hands at Holland Artistic Embroidery Works.

October 18, 2009

We all look forward to.....

I think that most ladies living here look forward to having lunch at the Garden Cafe. They close in the Summer you see, and that makes life here a lot harder. It's not the scorching temperatures that we mind or the lack of a gift store that isn't part of a discount chain store. (Prickly Pear, where are you?). The hardest part of getting through the Summer is that, other than good oriental and Mexican food, there are no restaurants where you can while away an hour of your busy day with a friend, and eat a Strawberry Turkey Salad, a piece of excellent Torture or Killer cake, a Tri-tip salad or a bowl of home made Tortilla soup sitting under a canopy of trees and umbrellas. I mean, having lunch at Applebee's just is not the same experience, and life is really about experiences, isn't it?  So from Mother's Day, when they close, until when the heat dips under 100 again, we live like desert creatures with few niceties in our lives. Dressed in shorts and tank-top, we make a dive for our car where we will burn our buns on the hot seat, dive into the supermarket, where we stand a very good chance of freezing to death in the first 3 minutes that we are there, before we head on home again in our car that has managed to heat up in that short time to oven-like temperatures.

The Garden Cafe is open!

October 17, 2009

Photoshop meets the 50's.

I have something in mind that requires a bright, yet simple design and suddenly I found I had made this very 50's looking sketch of seedpods. I drew and colored it only once, but with the help of Photoshop I was able to see it in different color combinations and make my choice. Personally, I like them all.

October 16, 2009

Sweet pears.

When we left my brother-in-law's house (Jasper's dad and the one with the trendy fireplace) he filled our hands with bags of pears, walnuts and flowers, all from his garden and my mother made one of my favorite Autumn desserts. It really doesn't involve a recipe. As boiling potatoes does not involve a recipe either. Peel and cut the pears into quarters. Cook very slowly with some water (it doesn't take much water - perhaps half a cup, a stick of cannella (cinnamon for non-desert dwellers) and some Port wine. Again doesn't need to be much wine either. No sugar and just simmer on low until the Port and water start to form a sauce. I like it with yogurt, ice cream or custard (the last two are just wishful thinking).

October 15, 2009

Mini make-over.

Before I left for Holland I had already decided that my little studio corner of the house needed some attention. It is after all right by the front door and has been a workspace ever since I decided that the dining room table was almost larger than the dining room itself and that made no sense. Also, living here decidedly ended my entertaining days. Living in France you always have guests, especially if you live near Paris.
I am an Ikea shopper, in case you hadn't noticed and after landing in Phoenix I made my way to Ikea for a couple of Fira (and ABBA crab pate, which does so well with boiled eggs on toast). You can see by the roses, that I didn't waste any time fixing up those little cabinets. I even made tiny, polymer clay drawer pulls. I used a piece of the purple and gold sari I have as curtains on the adjacent window, to cover the drawers. The accents are the same green as the walls.

The two pictures below the drawers that now hold my ink, paint and other craftsy materials, are of the frieze my brother Chris made for me when the house had just been built. I love them. I will probably have to break out the walls if I ever leave here because I would hate to part with them.
P.S. Before you think that all my paint and stuff fits in those few tiny drawers....I have a large workspace in the garage and I use the guest room closet space for storage too. 

October 14, 2009

Enkhuizen harbour.

Reluctantly I move on to new things with one last look over the harbour (US English harbor) of Enkhuizen. I was fortunate to live in the center (centre: as I learned it) of town in a fine house with a bell gable (klokgevel in Dutch) built somewhere in the 18th century. I miss going around the corner to buy fresh bread, cheese and vegetables from the people you were on first name terms with. Some are still there, some have closed. Delft Blue Pottery is making a revival in Holland. Who would have thought it? It was okay for your grandmother to have but it really was for visitors. Now of course, I wish I had not given away all I bought for friends in other countries, but had kept some for myself too. All I could find in my house was a tiny pair of clogs, a little tile I recently received and a very old little dish.

October 13, 2009

These are not mushrooms.


The falling leaves, the warm light and the evening breeze all indicated that Autumn had arrived in Holland but all the days of my stay were sunny and mild. One could not wish for more in the country of my birth. Fleur and I made up a super tale when we found these mushrooms all about fairies and dragonflies and the sparkles on the water of the pond, which you see, is not really reflecting light but are really water fairies catching the light on their capes made of spiders' web and silver fish scales. (I am turning off the light now, so go to sleep).

October 12, 2009

Life at the edge of the pond.

Feeding ducks is fun, but imagine when one morning the swans no longer keep to the agreement: we will let them be, if they stay somewhere in the middle of the large pond. 
Hissing and being just generally pretentious as only swans can be, two of them sauntered up to our cottage and were demanding something. I pretended that I was too busy with my camera to hear them, because you can't respond to every little hiss you hear and Fleur was laughing at me from behind a window. It didn't take too long before I had to grab a chair and become a fearless lion tamer swan tamer, and hiss right back at them. Ultimately they won, I retreated brandishing the chair and taking baby steps, backwards through the door Fleur had opened for me. 

October 11, 2009

Purple Duck.

 I do love that little country but I find the streets very narrow and last time I visited, my mother and I were driving through villages and down country lanes as happy as can be, when at a point we entered a pretty little town (they are all pretty and picturesque) and I realized that I was driving on the 'fietspad' (bike lane) where only bikes are supposed to go. I mumbled something like 'well, it all looks like Madurodam to me', but I don't think my mother heard me because she was laughing so much.

October 6, 2009

Daar bij die molen reden we in een paarse eend.

Of course I didn't mean to post "aqua' it just happened. Jet lag probably and trying to upload a lot of photos to my Picasa albums online, in the midst of unpacking and doing my laundry. With this picture it's no secret where I have been. Blue skies, green pastures with friendly black and white cows, and in the background the soft whooshing of the windmill. Actually, that is my wild imagination because there was no whooshing going on. I did have blue skies though all the time I was there, and when I returned the inferno I call home had simmered down to a lovely temperature, and I could open all the windows to let in some cool night air. Sometimes life is so good. 
I am going to add a bit of a description to "Aqua" so that it makes sense.

October 4, 2009


Posted by PicasaThis is a detail of my brother-in-law's super trendy fireplace.
I came back from Holland inspired by so many things, people and places that I have enough plans for a least 3 months....and then I will have to go travel again.



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