31 October 2012

Patching It Up

We traveled down state on Saturday to celebrate Halloween and my birthday with Ryan’s brother and his family. Their neighborhood blocks off a few streets every year to ensure safe nighttime trick or treating for kids. Roaming the streets in the dark does All Hallows Eve more justice than walking around in broad daylight, don’t you think?

On the way back up, we stopped at the pumpkin patch in Allenton where we petted and admired alpaca’s, goats, emus, and turkeys, and picked out a nice big pumpkin to carve.

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30 October 2012

A Visitor

My mom is coming and I am super excited. She’ll be in the US long before she travels up north to visit us, but just the thought of having her close makes me happy. Of course “close” is a relative term. She will be about 1,000 miles away for most of her visit, but still, she’s here. In the country. I can hop in the car and according to Google Maps I can be with her in 18 hours. In current traffic. Not stopping for gas or food.

She is planning to come up mid December. She’ll stay for about a week and then we ship her back to her sister to spend the holidays there. She hasn’t been to Wisconsin before; the last time she visited we were still in Washington. Hopefully it snows when she’s here. I have a few fun things on my list to introduce my mom to the Northwoods, and some of them involve snow.

Naturally I have sent my mom a nice little wish list with things to bring back from the homeland. It’s interesting what you miss when you live in another country; band-aids by the yard, homeopathic meds, and anti-fungal cream are on my list. I remember going shopping for my aunt and uncle when I would fly out here to visit them. They too, had a interesting list with salad dressing being the strangest in my eyes.

Of course my mom will probably want a decent place to sleep in return. It’s time we get going on that guest bed we have been talking about.

26 October 2012

Catching Up: Craft Fair

Our small town holds an annual Fall Festival every first Saturday in October. The whole town is decked out with fabulous fall displays and there is music, food, hayrides, pony rides, and an ever growing arts & crafts fair. This year Dutch Girl Originals participated in the craft fair for the first time ever.

Of course, as soon as I signed up for the fair, I was offered a job. I briefly contemplated cancelling, but I really didn’t want to. I decided to go for a smaller booth instead. So I worked my butt off at night getting ready for the fair while working a regular job during the day. It was a little stressful but I am so glad I did.

The first sale of the day went to Lola. She had worked hard on making drawings and cuttings and sold them on the side. I did okay for a first timer. My big seller were the owl pillows. It quickly became obvious people were not yet ready to start thinking about Christmas. A glance at the ornaments was the best I got.

The wonderful garland display did not attract as much attention as I had hoped. Ryan built it by mounting two thin poplar trees cut from my parents-in-law’s yard, not for this purpose though, in Christmas tree stands. I strung the garlands in between the posts but they didn’t show up very well against the park back drop. A white wall would have been better.

It was cold though. So cold. We kept it dry for most of the day but did see a little bit of snow (!) come down, smudging every single one of my tags. I should have listened to Ryan who suggested laminating them. Every now and then my mother-in-law would walk down, my booth was just down the road, to allow me to warm up inside.

Despite the cold, I had a blast. I am already looking forward to next year. Now I need to get my Etsy shop ready for the holidays. After I finish Lola’s Halloween costume, that is. A crafter’s work is never done.

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25 October 2012

Open Letter To YouTube

Dear YouTube,

Earlier this year, in April to be exact, my five year old daughter Lola danced her very first ballet recital. It was too cute for words and naturally we, the proud parents, wanted to share this moment with friends and family. In our case they live spread out over the world and the easiest way to share a video is by broadcasting ourselves via YouTube.

I uploaded the footage I had made of Lola’s ballet and tap dance recital. Almost immediately I was hit with a copyright notice. In August you made good on your word and the two videos were blocked in select countries around the world. That turned out to be a bit of a euphemism because only if you lived on Guernsey, Jersey, Samoa or some other exotic island, were you able to watch either video.

Naturally I disputed both claims because a) we are talking about a bunch of non-commercial four and five-year-olds dancing on a carpeted stage for friends and family, and b) my daughter’s dance teacher pays a hefty monthly royalties bill to compensate the artists and the music companies that own the rights to their work for the use of it.

The first claim was almost instantaneously dropped. The second one, for Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes,” was not. When I checked on the status the other day, I noticed that all but one music company had dropped the claim. The one remaining company was Orchard Music, a young and independent company from New York. They claim they own the rights to Franks Sinatra’s “High Hopes.” And because of that claim, the poor people of Germany were still deprived of the pleasure of watching my daughter and her friends dance.

Dear YouTube, the reason I am writing this public letter is because you are now owned by Google and no longer allow individuals to contact you directly. You see, there is something very wrong with the Orchard Music Group’s claim. They don’t actually own the rights to Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes.” They don’t own the rights to a lot of the songs and lyrics used in the YouTube videos they have laid claim to. I don’t know why they do this. They like to harass people, evidently (see here and here). But you, dear YouTube, have grown too big to care.

For the record; I am aware that the initial Content ID Match is an automated process. However, once I as a user disputed the claim, it was manually checked by the claimants. For the Orchard Music Group to reinstate their false claim was a conscious act. Fortunately I am not that easily intimidated. I contacted Orchard Music Group directly to point out there was no basis to their claim and they were really being quite ridiculous. And lo and behold, within ten minutes they lifted their claim. With a mere 43 hits, they must have realized there was no money to be made here.

Your methods are seriously flawed, YouTube, and companies like the Orchard Music Group are taking advantage of that. Please consider updating your tools. If you cannot, ask your parent company, Google, to help you with that. They are really quite good at this. If you won’t do it for me, then do it for the Germans. And grandparents everywhere. Herzlichen dank.

Sincerely,
The Dutch Girl

24 October 2012

Fabulous Fall

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23 October 2012

Spammed And Scammed

A couple of months ago I received my very first spam comment on this blog. I was so proud! Receiving spam comments on your blog is like a rite of passage, a sign that you have reached the big leagues.

"This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader
entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Excellent job.
I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Too cool!
Here is my web-site : ranking check"


This comment was left on a really old post from the early days of the blog, when we were still living in Olympia. It seemed rather pointless. I mean, if you want to attract traffic via my blog, wouldn’t it make more sense to comment on a post that has a better chance of actually being read?

I didn’t delete it, of course. And then last week I received my second spam comment. On the same post. Hmmm. When I took a look at the post itself, there was nothing there. No comments, nothing. The spam is a scam.

I feel robbed.

22 October 2012

Tales From The Patch

The very first time we started a vegetable garden, we made a few mistakes. We picked a partially shaded spot, for one. We did not thin out our sprouts enough. We were not on top of weeding. And we did not realize just how much room a pumpkin plant takes up.

Despite overtaking half of the garden, the harvest was pitiful. Only one measly pumpkin made it, which we did not find until we cleaned the garden up. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant surprise. The next time we wised up and planted the pumpkin seeds in a sunnier spot which they had all to themselves. A whopping two pumpkins we grew that year. Still not very impressive but a hundred percent improvement.

This year was our third attempt. And keeping with tradition, we harvested three pumpkins! Including the biggest one yet! Next year I want the kind you can eat. And maybe little gourds. Perhaps they'll do better.

Big pumpkins get big smiles

21 October 2012

Domestic Diva And Saver Of The Planet

A while ago, probably over a year by now, I read a post on the blog Thy Hand Hath Provided on how to make your own liquid laundry soap. I very much liked that idea. It's easy, cheap, and chemical free. I love projects that are kind to the environment as well as my wallet.

I bought a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, a box of borax, and a box of washing soda and set out to make my first batch. Easy as pie. A little grating, a little stirring, and some patience was all it took to end up with five concentrated gallons of detergent. A lot of people seem to prefer powdered detergent but since my washer and dryer are located in a rather damp basement, that is not an option for us. I added about twenty drops of lavender essential oil to make it smell nice(r).

So far, I am really happy with my soap. It works great. I use the same amount of detergent per load as I always have. The only thing I changed in my laundry routine is that I have started to add about 1/3 of a cup of borax to every load. We have very hard water and borax is said to help with softer water, nicer smelling laundry and better stain removal. It seems to do the trick.

To complete my transition to chemical free washing, I made my own dryer balls, too. These balls of tightly wound and felted wool yarn (from local sheep!) replace the need for fabric softener and dryer sheets. They work by tumbling around in your dryer and fluffing up your laundry, cutting down on dryer time, taking care of static cling, and smoothing out most wrinkles. They too can be made to smell nice with a few drops of essential oil.

Depending on the size of your dryer and the load of laundry, you need about three to six balls. If you have an extra large capacity dryer like I do, you might want to throw in a few more. The dryer balls will last you for many, many years. And all that time you're saving money on fabric softener and/or dryer sheets. And the planet thanks you, too.

20 October 2012

Catching Up: First Day Of School

Hard to tell who was more excited: the kindergartner or her mother?




19 October 2012

Catching Up: Six Years

Ryan and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary last month. The original plan was to camping in Door County together while Lola stayed with her grandparents. But then we learned about the Kermis in Little Chute and we decided to go admire their genuine, imported from Holland and rebuilt in Little Chute windmill instead. And we brought our Fairy Godmother along.


Our Fairy Godmother is my aunt. Some twenty years ago she, my uncle, and my cousin moved to the US and ended up in Wisconsin. My cousin and Ryan went to school together and when T. got married, I flew in for the wedding and my aunt seized the opportunity to hook her niece up with a nice looking usher. That was in July. We were married in September of the same year.

The Kermis was much smaller than we thought it would be, but the Dutch pancakes we had for breakfast were the real thing, and it was strangely comforting to see a working Dutch windmill against an American skyline. Kermis in Dutch means carnival but there were no rides to go on. We visited the craft fair and took silly pictures in our foam Dutch hats. Next year we'll go camping in Door County.

18 October 2012

Woman At Work

So I have been a bit of a slacker lately but only on the blogs, I promise. In fact, I have been hard at work for the past two months. It started with various projects for my husband’s employer that I was usually able to do from home. Slowly it progressed to a near full time job. And since the first of this month I happily commute to the UP every day. I do a little marketing, a little project management, and whatever else comes my way. It’s fun. Lola is back in day care and lovin’ it.

Of course, something’s gotta give, and that’s the blogs. I participated in my very first craft fair and was reasonably successful at it. (It was cold that day, though. It even snowed a little bit.) I try to keep a clean house and am reasonably successful at that, too. We purchased a dishwasher to assist with household tasks. It sits in our garage, patiently waiting to be installed. We want to tile the kitchen floor first. Makes sense, doesn’t it? And so I wait patiently as well.

Summer is officially over. It is full on fall here. I have seen some gorgeous colors come by on my commute but the rain and wind of the last few days have blown most leaves off their branches. We spent a couple of lovely weekends camping up in the UP on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We putzed around looking for property to realize our B&B dream on. We tried one on for size and squatted on the land for a night. Nice spot with a perfect view of Mount Bohemia.

Lola is back in school, a true kindergartner. She is learning to read and write. It’s fun hearing her sound out letters and watching her write them. She can almost count to a hundred now. No more skipping the number seventeen, and getting confused at twenty. Just like that, it clicked. She has been getting into a little bit of trouble every now and then, mostly for talking too much. But she genuinely seems to be enjoying school. She had enrolled in dance again and goes to girl scouts every other Monday.

That’s pretty much it, I think. You’re all caught up. I will try to upload some pictures this weekend to accompany the aforementioned events. But I am also working on Lola’s Halloween costume (she will be a mermaid this year), sewing a custom order for a client, and getting my Etsy shop ready for the upcoming holidays. So I can’t make any promises.

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