23 December 2009

Ode To Mickey

When we were little, my sister and I each had an ornament of our own that adorned our family's Christmas tree. My sister had a beautiful pink cat. My ornament was a mouse and I called it Mickey. It was not really Mickey Mouse. It looks nothing like Mickey Mouse, in fact. Or a mouse for that matter. As I am writing this, I am starting to wonder if it even is a mouse. I think so.

The ornaments came from my grandfather's store. He normally sold household appliances but every year, after celebrating Saint Nicholas' Eve, he would cover up his storefront windows with paper and spend all night building the most elaborate display of Christmas ornaments, to be reveiled on December 6. He was famous for it, well beyond the neighborhood my mom and her family lived in. I do not know if I ever saw his window displays. If I did, I was too young to remember. My mother has a few pictures but the colors are faded and they do not do my grandfather's creations justice.

I treasure my ornament. Because of its age, and because of its heritage. It always gets a special spot in the tree. And while I would love to have a themed tree from time to time, because of Mickey I never have.

For the second year in a row Mickey is missing from the tree, however. Last year we had just moved into the barn and there really wasn't any room for a tree. Instead I temporarily brought one of our Alberta Spruces inside, pot and all. We decorated it with a homemade cranberries and popcorn garland.

This year I do not have a tree of my own. That's okay. My parents-in-law's tree is beautiful and decorated exclusively with handmade ornaments. Some are very old ornaments made by my father-in-law's sisters. Some were made by my husband and his siblings when they were children. And one was made by Lola and me. Last weekend we created a reindeer from twigs found in the yard (inspired by Jane from Fine Frugal Living). Maybe we can name him Mickey, instead of the obvious Rudolph.


Next year the real Mickey will be back, prominently gracing my tree. I promise!

11 December 2009

Adventures Of A Dutch Girl

Born and raised in The Netherlands, I left windmills, wooden shoes, and tulips behind in 2006 to follow my heart to the United States. It led me to Olympia, located at the tip of the Puget Sound in the beautiful state of Washington, and the 24th wettest city in the nation. My Olympic Adventure has been my greatest adventure yet. I moved halfway across the globe, married the love of my life and became the mother of Lola, the most enchanting girl I have ever met.

It hasn’t been all moonlight and roses. My pursuit of the American Dream didn’t quite work out the way I had imagined. Surprisingly, potential American employers were not all that impressed by my Dutch employers and experience, and it did not rain as many job offers as I had hoped. Not one, to be exact. And when Ryan ended up without a job, and the economy went to pieces, stress levels in our household went up a bit.

This did not keep us from stubbornly proceeding with our plans to build a home. We built a small but very charming barn in our backyard. Unfortunately we ran out of money before it was done. That did not stop us either. We simply rented out the house, and moved into the barn, finished or not. We had no windows, no stairs, no bathroom, and no running water. We didn’t mind roughing it, because we were convinced our persistence would pay off and one of us, if not both, would find a proper job and all would be well. And in the meantime, we were building character.

Interesting decisions and not very wise ones, in hindsight. We were not rewarded for our perseverance. Although we did find work locally, it was not enough to turn my Olympic Adventure into a success story. Because both of us have family there, we expanded our job search to include Wisconsin. Within two months I found a job as a marketing manager, and things are looking good for Ryan as well. In the Northwoods no less, where marketing and sales jobs are few and far between. I think the universe is telling us something.

Having been a city girl all my life, I cherished the rural feel of Olympia’s Westside. I loved pretending to live the country life, with city benefits. It was just us on forty acres of land. One acre was ours, the rest was a nature reserve. The nearest supermarket was a mere five minutes away, and good lattes were readily available. In the Northwoods I have to pretend no more, it really is the country. No yoga classes, no bead stores, no fancy bakeries. My Northwoods Adventure might just surpass all my other adventures.

All this drama does have an upside; it makes for good blog copy. (It would have been great copy if I hadn’t edited myself. Not everything needs to be on the world wide web for all eternity, after all. I have to save something for the book.) Because let’s face it, Happily Ever After is just plain boring.

I want to be boring now. At least for a little while.

Back to Northwoods Aventures

10 December 2009

In Other News

Crandon newcomer Lola N. (2) has made the front page of the Forest Republican, Forest County's local newspaper, within eight days of her arrival. She was photographed last Saturday admiring Dr. Perry's annual Christmas lights display in the company of her mother and grandparents.

Miss N. declined to comment when asked for a response to her front page appearance. She was, however, prepared to admit she really liked the pretty lights.

09 December 2009

Snow! And Lots Of It!


We woke up this morning to a foot of snow. Winter has arrived, full-fledged. Tomorrow the low temperatures will drop even further. (They already have in Washington, everyone - including Ryan - is dealing with frozen pipes or hoses, it seems.)

Getting to work was a bit of a challenge, me being a Wisconsin newbie and a wimp about driving in the snow. But I made it, and in one piece. I felt really bad about being late on my third day, but when I realized hardly anyone (guests included) had come in, I felt much better. So good in fact, that I left again three hours later. I prefer a little daylight with my icy roads.

I came home to a nice and clean driveway. Clearly some serious snow shoveling had taken place in my absence.

08 December 2009

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

It was a lovely drive to work yesterday. The frost on the bare branches made the trees look eerie and fragile. The thin layer of snow on the frozen lakes glistened in the sun. The Northwoods of Wisconsin are so very different from the evergreen forests of Washington but beautiful in their own right. I hummed Winter Wonderland all the way to work.

We're expecting snow over the next two days. And lots of it!

Tis The Season

Nothing cheers me up like Christmas music. When Ryan and I started packing up the barn, he asked me what music I wanted to listen to. I answered: "Happy music." He gave me the Partridge Family. He could not have made a better choice.

I should state I am not a fan of the Partridge Family, in fact I do not remember ever watching the show. I do, however, own their Christmas album. I have had it since 1972. It is my all time favorite Christmas album and the first one I play when my self imposed rules allow me to indulge in the sounds of the season, early December.

I am aware how this might make me look but I don't care. Think of me what you will. A Partridge Family Christmas Card makes me smile. Every time. Nobody says it like David Cassidy...


(Thank you Marja, for uploading this video to YouTube.)

Happy Holidays everyone, especially my blogging SITSta's! May 2010 bring good tidings to us all.

07 December 2009

Gainfully Employed

It was sunny and crisp this morning, when I got in my father-in-law's car to go to work. It took two tries to actually make it into the car, as pencil skirts and pick-up trucks do not match very well. A quick stop at the Tribal Offices to pick up the coveted gaming license, and I was off. I took the long way round today. I probably will quite often this winter because it is the busier and therefore better plowed road to work.

Today was my first day as Marketing Manager of the Potawatomi Carter Casino and Hotel, PCCH for short. It was only half a day and consisted of the grand tour, shaking many hands, a crash course in spotting money launderers, and filling out an enormous stack of paperwork. My colleagues were friendly and welcoming, and I really enjoyed myself. Tomorrow I'll sit down with the Marketing Director, meet my staff, and fill out more paperwork.

The best part? [Big Fat Grin] The preferential parking for managers!

05 December 2009

Home Alone

Lola and I are home alone, watching Home Alone. It is never too early to instill a love of all things Christmas, I say. But perhaps two and a half is a tad young for a full appreciation of the adventures of Kevin McCallister. I don't think Lola completely understands the story.

Until Kevin asked Santa to please bring back his mommy for Christmas. When I asked Lola if she too wants her mommy for Christmas, she answered: "Yes", and then changed her mind.

"No. I want my papa for Christmas."

04 December 2009

Small Town Charm

Every Christmas movie set in a small town I have ever seen, and that's quite a few, features the ceremonial lighting of the town's Christmas Tree. The town folk gather in the town square, they drink hot chocolate, and sing Christmas carols. It always made me feel warm and fuzzy inside and wanting to live in a small town myself.

And now I do.

Sure enough, Crandon has a tree lighting ceremony of its own. It was tonight, and it was freezing cold. The main event was preceded by a flashlight parade to Dr. Perry's house, caroling along the way. Lola, bundled up to withstand minus fifty degrees, marched cheerfully along, swinging her flashlight and singing Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs. And I, still emotionally wrecked, followed her smiling and blubbering while mouthing the words, too choked up to actually sing. Happy tears.

Dr. Perry's house is something you must see for yourself. Every holiday season she turns her house and her property into an enchanted forest filled with Christmas Joy. There is nothing tacky about it, it is unbelievably beautiful. People come from near and far to see it. Lola was mesmerized.



Afterwards we town folk gathered together for hot chocolate, cookies and a little heart to heart with Jolly Old Saint Nicolas. Miss Lola was delighted with the candy cane from Mrs. Claus, and ever so softly told Santa she would like Elmo for Christmas. She's a believer, just like her mom.


Lola is asleep now, nestled all snug in her bed. I have no doubt visions of sugar plums dance in her head.

And it is snowing outside.

02 December 2009

Fresh Start

Hello and welcome to Northwoods Adventures! Your primary source for all things N. & Van H. Visit often and read all about how Hanneke fares with the high rollers, how Lola develops a Wisconsin accent, how Ryan teaches his wife and child to ride a snow mobile (yes mom, I will be careful!).

Because Olympic Adventures has its own web address of the same name, I purchased a new web address with the more generic name www.thedutchgirlsadventures.net to publish our new adventures. 'Cuz you never know, we might end up in Texas some day. (I copied the content of Olympic Adventures into this blog for the sake of continuity and convenience.)

So just this once, change those bookmarks, renew your email subscriptions, and hit the 'Follow This Blog' button one more time.

Thank you!

30 November 2009

Tough Girl

We're here. Here is Crandon WI, population 1961. Make that 1964. Lola, Sandman, and I flew into Wisconsin last Friday. Ryan will follow in a little bit with a U Haul truck full of furniture and clothes. Lots of clothes. After a busy week of packing boxes and suitcases, visits from friends, and selling more antiques, I kissed my husband good bye, and left Washington for good. My Olympic Adventure has come to an end.

I have mixed feelings about Washington. When Ryan and I were driving back to Olympia after celebrating Thanksgiving with friends in Seattle, we were telling each other our happy Washington memories. There are so many. It is the place where I fell in love, became a wife and a mother, where I watched a bald eagle fishing not thirty feet away, where I camped in the rainforest, where I built a home.

Washington is also the place where I learned first hand about the harsher side of America. Where not one employer would give an experienced communications expert a chance. Where most companies cannot be bothered to reply to an application, or have the decency to tell you they hired someone else after interviewing you. Where no work means no health insurance. Where it is every woman for herself.

But that is not all I learned. I found out I am as tough as they come. I am resilient. I can rough it. I can start a fire from scratch. I can operate an excavator. I can go a year, or longer even, without buying clothes. I can give birth without pain medication. (As I write this, I remember how giving birth the old fashioned way empowered me. If I can handle that kind of pain, I told myself at the time, I can handle anything. And I have.)

I know from experience that over time the bad memories will fade and the good ones will remain. So will the life lessons of my Olympic Adventure. I will apply them to my new adventure. Whatever it is, I can handle it. Bring it on! Forged titanium indeed.

26 November 2009

Stellar Solace

Today's horoscope for Scorpios:

The links in your chain are straining under the weight of their load, but they will hold. You are forged titanium. You are built solid, from the ground up. No shortcuts, no alloys.

It may be a generic horoscope in today's paper, but I'll take it.

19 November 2009

Clearance Sale

There is a big empty spot in our kitchen where our beautiful antique cooking stove used to be. It was picked up last night by its new owners. For the remainder of our Olympic Adventure we will have to make do with a microwave, a pizza oven, a rice cooker, and one measly hot plate if we wish to eat.

The big Clearance Sale has begun. The weather does not allow for a yard sale, we do not have a garage, and there is not enough room in the barn for a barn sale. We are making do with Craig's List instead. So far we have been quite successful. In addition to the stove, we have sold our jetted claw foot bathtub and our riding lawn mower.


It saddens us to see everything go. Selling our stuff off makes leaving Washington and suspending this dream very real. The stove especially since it was the first item we stored inside our home and used on a daily basis. It fit the barn perfectly and literally leaves a void. But we tell ourselves everything is replaceable and there will be other cool stoves and bathtubs. And we can take our dream with us to Wisconsin and wherever else we will go.

We find solace in the fact that our things are going to good homes. The tub is on a barge right now, sailing to Alaska, to warm a lovely couple that knows all about roughing it. The lawnmower has been purchased by a church and is doing God's work. And the stove now lives in a converted granary to be cooked on by another European immigrant. Very cool. I know it is silly but it really matters to us. Ryan and I are such dorks.

17 November 2009

Tough Love

My child is a thumb sucker. A passionate thumb sucker. She does not discriminate between the left and right thumb, they both taste equally delicious. In an attempt to prevent future orthodontist bills, I tried introducing her to a pacifier when she was a baby, but when she discovered her thumbs on her own, I abandoned my efforts. She loves it, it soothes her, and frankly speaking, it looks very cute.

Her thumb sucking is impeding her dental development, though. Her front teeth have not completely come down, and she cannot properly pronounce the 'L' and the 'Th'. The time has come to take her thumbs away from her. For a while now, we have been pulling her thumb out of her mouth whenever we catch her. It works for a few minutes, and then one thumb or the other goes right back in.

Harsher measures are in order. Cutting her thumbs off is obviously not an option. Instead, we have resorted to a nasty tasting nail polish-like solution. Tonight was the first night she could not suck her thumb to help her fall sleep. She did not like it, to put it mildly. She cried and screamed my name for what seemed like a very long time. My poor baby.

I remember so clearly how awful it was when I had to stop sucking my thumb. My sister and I quit together, cold turkey. Of course we were much older than Lola. I was ten years old, and had an impressive overbite. The first night was horrible. To help us fall asleep, my mother laid down between the two of us, holding my right thumb and my sister's left thumb in her hands. Not one of us slept very well that night, least of all my mom.

Lola fell asleep after about half an hour. That's not so bad. I think this is much harder on me than it is on her. It is a good thing she has two parents because I am not very good at tough love. I have some growing up to do, too.

12 November 2009

Virtual Friends & Idols

Did you catch the new slide show of favorite posts over on the left side of Olympic Adventures? I would love to be able to say I made that, but no, I do not possess the necessary skills. Yet. Someday I want to learn all about programming HTML, Flash, etcetera. I think it would be a valuable addition to my resume and I know I would highly enjoy doing it.

No, I won the slide show! My new virtual BFF Cheri hosted a give-a-way on her blog Its So Very Cheri. She had quite a few gifts to hand out and I won the slide show made by Jane of Frugal Fine Living. Jane makes a mean autumn pork roast, too, by the way! Thank you both very much, ladies.

It's a funny thing, the business of blogging. I really enjoy blog hopping when I have the time, and finding inspiration for crafts, decorations, and recipes. Or life in general. You leave a comment here and there, and before you know it, you've made a new friend.

I highly admire the women that have turned their blogs into businesses. Not by simply adding Google Ads to their blog, but by being creative. Like The Crock Pot Lady for instance, who decided to use her slow cooker every day for a year and blog about it. Hers was the first blog I started following. She has just published a cookbook! Or Tip Junkie, who wants us all to buy from 'Mom-preneurs' this holiday season. (I am going to ask Santa for the slow cooker cook book I think, doing just that.)



Someday I hope to do something similar. I have no idea how or what at the moment, but there's something brewing in the back of my mind. With life becoming a little less stressful soon, it will be fun to play around with and develop ideas. I'll keep you posted!

11 November 2009

Emotional Wreck

That's me. Ever since I was offered the job in Wisconsin, my emotions have been all over the place. I am driving my husband, my child, but mostly myself absolutely nuts! Very uncharacteristic of me. Perhaps the past years of bad luck and financial woes are finally catching up with me, now that they're about to end.

I want to be happy and joyful about being offered this job but I just worry too much. It keeps me up at night. I am afraid I will not be granted a gaming license, a necessity for working in a casino. It also makes me sad to walk away from so much potential, the property we put our hearts, souls, and savings into. Not to mention there is so much to do before we move. And almost no time to do it.

But we're finally taking a step forward. A small step maybe, but in the right direction. And I am truly appreciative of the opportunity we have been given here. I am very much looking forward to living in Wisconsin.









I just need to have faith that this is where we are meant to be right now, and hand my worries over. The universe will take care of the rest.

Including the FCP Gaming Commission. Hmmm...

03 November 2009

A Midwest Adventure

I was in Wisconsin the past few days, visiting with my in-laws, and interviewing for the position of marketing manager with a casino in the Northwoods. My interview went well, after a bit of a rough start. Rather than opening with the standard "So Johanna, tell us a little bit about yourself..." the first question posed to me was: "Please tell us about one of our promotions and what you would do to improve it?" It felt like I was taking a test I hadn't studied for. "Eh..."

The next question was also a good one: "Tell us about your past experience in gaming." I have none. Things improved after that, fortunately, and I left with a good feeling. I had made a portfolio of marketing materials I have made for my previous employers and it was very well received. I am absolutely convinced they like me as a person, but more importantly, they must like as a marketeer as well. I really hope so, I want to move to Wisconsin. I want to live within driving distance of family and friends, and make a fresh start. It will be a major transition with some very serious consequences, but I am so ready to take that step.

On Friday, the day of my birthday, my parents-in-law and I drove south again. We took the scenic route along the river, through the woods and the rolling hills of America's Dairyland. I have this fantasy of one day living in an old farmhouse on a couple of acres in the middle of nowhere. My dream was almost tangible as we were making our way down state. At one point we saw a young couple parked by the side of the road. They had removed the back seats from their car and simply sat there, looking out over the river.

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." - Elizabeth Lawrence

I celebrated my birthday and Halloween with my brother and sister-in-law. The afternoon was spent carving pumpkins. It was fun watching my nieces work on their creations. E. meticulously carving an intricate design she had downloaded off the internet. M. confidently drawing a face on her pumpkin in one go and carving it out. And L. insisting on scooping out all the goop and seeds herself.

They live in a neighborhood with plenty of children. Every year at Halloween three streets are blocked off to all traffic and one street is converted into a Haunted Street with a haunted house and more spookiness. Huddled around a fire pit in the driveway we watched hundreds of creatures great and small walk by. At one point one of the neighbors remarked he had already handed out 1700 pieces of candy. And he needed more! Since this was Wisconsin, plenty of parents accompanying their kids sported a beer. Something you would NOT see in Washington. A Starbucks coffee maybe, but alcohol? Never!

As I was watching the little ones trot by, I really missed Ryan and Lola. Her first official trick or treating, and I wasn't there. That is the only thing I did not like about my trip: having to celebrate my birthday and Halloween without them. Next year it will be different! I think I'll go as a witch...

02 November 2009

The Cutest Mouse You Ever Saw

26 October 2009

Say Cheese!

24 October 2009

Things To Do On A Saturday

It is a beautiful sunny morning today and I am thinking of things to do. Last week we went to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma for Zoo Boo, a Halloween Party for animals. It was great fun, even if the weather was deplorable. (I know I said I like the sound of the rain and I do. Inside. It's not quite the same when you're walking outside.) There were lots of animals, of course, and face painting, too!



On the way home we stopped at the pumpkin patch for the third consecutive week. This time it was just to pick up some delicious sweetcorn and fresh apple cider. The week before Ryan, Lola, and I had properly visited the Schilter Family Farm together. Ryan had not yet had the pleasure of spending a sunny afternoon with hundreds of children, and I cannot get enough of pumpkins. Lola loves pumpkins too, and all the other fun kids' activities. This time there was a pony ride!


After picking up the corn and cider we took the scenic route to Boston Harbor to buy some fresh salmon. It was a beautiful drive. The Puget Sound is such a gorgeous area!

I think Lola and I are going to run some errands first, perhaps taking the long way home again, and then we'll go look for some chestnuts. While our pumpkin cookies are baking in the oven, we will turn our chestnuts into a variety of creatures with the help of toothpicks and string. It's a pity there are no oak trees around these parts. Acorns would be wonderful to play with, too.

I Love Fall



The rainy season has begun. This morning I woke up to raindrops bouncing off the metal roof. For the next eight months, this sound will be our alarm. That, and Lola. I don't mind it, to be honest. Not yet, anyway. The vibrant colors outside are beautiful, with or without sunshine. There are pumpkins everywhere I look. It's warm and cozy in the barn. We have three wonderful holidays to look forward to.

It's lovely to be inside again and curl up in front of the fireplace. To read a book. To bake pies and make soups. And I truly love listening to the patter of raindrops on the roof!

20 October 2009

I Do It!

Little Miss Independent will not let me dress her anymore, nor put on her socks, strap on her shoes, wipe her butt, and so on and so forth. No, every single time I try to do any of these things, it's "I do it!" She's really cute when she is struggling with doing everything herself, and it is very funny to watch. Most of the time. But it takes FOREVER! My patience levels are reaching previously inconceivable new heights.



Lola really likes being a big girl that does things all by herself. Except when it's not convenient, of course. I am still her mule that carries her blanky, her babies, her bears, her toys, her. But I am also the person that can fix anything and everything. And the first person she calls for when she wakes up. That is the part I enjoy most. While it lasts...

13 October 2009

Style Or Comfort?

I scored a pair of Levi's the other day. They used to belong to a teenager but I don't think they have ever been worn. They were in a bag with children's clothing that was given to Carla. They're a size 6 (36/38) and they fit like a glove! "You suck," Carla told me when I was able to close the zipper and still breathe. I was really pleased.

The thing is, they're 'mom jeans'. Jeans where the waistline actually comes up to a natural height. Somewhere in time jeans' waistlines dropped and 'low riders' became the norm. Only mothers (and the occasional world leader), notoriously uncool, would prefer comfort over style and stick to natural waistlines. Hence the term 'mom jeans'.

Despite having been told for years now that the waistline is on the rise again, I have seen no evidence to support this. It feels very strange to wear pants this high and when I look in the mirror, I am instantly transported to the early eighties, back to my high school pictures. This pair of pants may have belonged to a teenager, proving that fashion recycles itself every thirty years or so, they're still mom jeans.

I do not want to wear mom jeans. I am too young to wear mom jeans. And too cool. I must admit though, they're really comfortable. Maybe with a long shirt, so you don't actually see my waistline?

07 October 2009

Autumn Joy

When I brought Lola to daycare on this sun filled yet bitter cold morning, I noticed a dense fog over Black Lake just down the road from Carla's house. The combination of sunshine, changing colors and mystical fog was too good to pass up. I decided to take the long way home, past the lake and through a beautiful and forested part of Olympia.

The fog quickly subsided but the ride was wonderful nonetheless. Olympia is so beautiful this time of year. Washington is called the Evergreen State because it is covered in tall pine trees. It really is green here year round. During the fall however, it becomes apparent just how many deciduous trees there are as well. A few more sunny days like today alternated with freezing cold nights and every possible shade of yellow, orange, and red will pop from the green.

We're in luck, the weather report has nothing but sunshine for the rest of the week. Oh, how I love autumn!

05 October 2009

For The Love Of Pumpkins

Carla, Dylan, Lola, and I went to the Nisqually Pumpkin Patch today. A petting zoo, a cow train, a hay ride, a corn maze, a straw fort, and of course thousands of pumpkins to choose from; it has to be my favorite way to spend a sunny fall day.









03 October 2009

Releasing My Inner Martha

For most of my adult life I secretly wanted to be Martha Stewart. I never realized this, of course, in fact I didn't even know who Martha Stewart was for the majority of those years.

My desire would mainly surface at the end of summer. Every year at the arrival of autumn, when it was time to go back inside and turn on the heat, I wished to transform my home into a beautifully decorated palace. I ambitiously wanted to organize elegant dinner parties for friends and family to celebrate my birthday, or Christmas, or simply the season.

It has never happened the way I envisioned. Mainly due to lack of energy and creativity. By the time I had baked an apple pie or decorated the Christmas tree, I was pretty much done. I never spent the holidays at my apartment, anyway.

Now that I have a family of my own, I want to be like Martha even more. I wish to grow my own vegetables and cook wonderfully healthy meals every day (the zucchini soup is a start) whilst arranging roses cut from my own garden and decorating my barn. And with Halloween and Thanksgiving, there are even more holidays to celebrate now.

To make matters worse, I have become rather addicted to reading craft and decorating blogs. There are many Martha's out there, I tell you. Stay at home moms, career women, home schoolers, or any combination thereof. I share with these inspiring women a love of thrift stores, the Dollar Tree, yard sales, and spray paint. Not much else it seems, because I have no idea how they can work, raise children, run a household, whip out a crafty project every day and blog about it, too.

When we installed the windows, I vowed to make the barn more of a home. Now that we have space and light, it's time to decorate. It is a bit of a challenge though, since we have no shelves, no walls, no furniture suitable for decorating really. And of course, it has to be out of Lola's reach for the time being.

People without gardens can still garden. It's called container gardening, I did it for years. I would like to introduce the concept of Container Decorating. I took the last of my fruit crates, hung it and decorated it for All Hallows Eve.


There are two projects out there that I am particularly in love with: the googly eyes wreath and the faux mercury glass pumpkins. Having limited space and being on a copper kick still, I altered them to fit my needs. (Also, I am too cheap to buy 'funkins', I buy my all fakes at the dollar store.)



Lola helped too. She handled the hammer like a pro.



I am very pleased with my container, if I do say so myself. I feel confident Martha would approve, if only because I used her felt webbing.

Go check out more great ideas at Its So Very Cheri!

08 September 2009

Zucchini Soup From Scratch

Preparation time: approximately five months. Ingredients: olive oil, onions, zucchinis, vegetable broth, sour cream, salt & pepper. Serves four.

1. Plant zucchini seeds in little clay pots in late spring.

2. Transfer plants to sunny patch in the summer. Fight the slugs and watch the deer eat the leaves.


3. Harvest the two zucchinis that made it at the end of summer when it is starting to feel like fall. Show them off.

4. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pot with a thick bottom.

5. Chop two onions and throw them in the pot, slowly cooking them to a golden brown color over low heat.

6. Meanwhile, wash and dice the zucchinis and add them to the pot.

7. Add one pint of vegetable broth (the zucchinis do not need to be completely covered).

8. Gently boil for about ten minutes until the zucchinis are done.

9. Take the pot off the burner and puree the soup.

10. Stir in one cup of sour cream.

11. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

12. Serve to vegetable lovers and haters alike and revel in their compliments.

Enjoy!

07 September 2009

Rinse And Repeat

Why settle for one window when you can have three?

This time I assisted with the heavy lifting. It was a little scary because the windows really do weigh quite a bit and I was afraid they would topple over. With me on the outside and Ryan on the inside there was no way I would have been able to stop them from falling backwards. But they didn't and all is well.


05 September 2009

So...

My 9th grade English teacher taught me English grammar does not allow starting a sentence with the word 'so'. Use it as an adverb, an adjective, a conjunction, but NOT as an opening. And if you mean 'therefore', use that word instead. I blatantly disregard these rules. But every time I do, I think of him. Every single time.

I really liked Larry Robinson. He was a great teacher. Not only did he provide useful skills like knowledge of correct grammar and spelling, he cared about his students. Very much. He had a good sense of humor. He gave us interesting assignments and I learned about resumes for the first time in my life.

He was a little vain, though, which we thought was funny. He was short which he compensated by wearing high heels (we're not talking Prince here, it wasn't that bad; Mr. Robinson was taller and his heels were lower). He had curly hair that he brushed out, creating a very interesting hairstyle, a semi-afro with a bit of a comb-over. It was the early Eighties, so (see?) he was able to get away with that.

He was young and energetic, and very involved with his students. Sometimes more than they cared for. When he caught wind of the fact my parents' marriage was in trouble, he wanted to talk to me about that. I wished to remain in denial and tried to avoid him, so (I know...) he made me stay after school. Being a teenager, I was very annoyed by it then, but I appreciate it now.

When Muzzey Jr High School closed its doors for good at the end of the school year, and I moved back to Holland, he moved on to Lexington High School where he became a student counselor. He eventually became principal of Andover High School until his death, ten years ago today. He was only in his forties. Much too young.

So, Mr. Robinson, of all the teachers I have ever had, you were the best one by far. I have wonderful memories of my 9th grade year and you are partly responsible for that. I promise to teach my daughter the proper use of the word 'so' and other English grammar rules. I am also trying to teach her another language, so bear with me. Fortunately my mother-in-law is an English teacher too, and I am sure she'll be happy to help out.

I truly wish Lola will some day have a teacher like you!

04 September 2009

No Laughing Matter

Lola has caught on to the fact that in order to shop, you need money. The other day I gave her some coins to put in her purse, where they miraculously transformed into a one and a five dollar bill. (So that's where our money goes...)

Last night she decided she wanted her money on her, and put it into her pants pockets. And then forgot all about it.

This morning when she got up, she went straight for her purse, only to find it empty. "Where is my money?", she demanded to know. Ryan started to laugh.

"That is NOT funny, papa!", she replied.

Welcome to the big world, little girl.

26 August 2009

Hole In The Wall

How to bring light in the darkness in eight simple steps:

Step one
Build the window frame. Careful measuring is crucial here!


Step two
Take a break to clean the gutters. Not really necessary for proper window placement, strictly speaking, but much appreciated.


Step three
Cut a hole in the wall. This is a VERY scary step.





Step four
Remove the cat from the new window opening. Essential.


Step five
Place the window. Enlisting the help of a good friend for the heavy lifting rather than working with your wife on this step is better for your marriage and her back. Unfortunately no wife means no photographer.


Step six
Take pride in your work.


Step seven
Mentally prepare for an eternity of grubby fingerprints on the glass.


Step eight
Enjoy the view. And the light!


Ryan did good. Real good. And did I mention he figured out how to light the oven without blowing up the barn, too? My husband rocks, people!

And never before have I enjoyed window washing this much!
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