“No fuss” Mothers day

A cup of tea, an apple and a banana, served as ‘breakfast in bed’ at 7 am.

Handmade little gifts and  a crushed chocolate heart we shared together.

Sweet notes found at random places throughout the house.

Sisterly quarrels, as usual. Today is just another day.

Sunshine, kids playing out in the park.

Two bruised knees, one torn pair of pants. Red cheeks and shiny eyes.

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Time to read a while, Dave Eggers “Heroes of the Frontier” it is.

Daydreaming a little of packing up my bunch and travelling through Alaska in a Camper too.

Early dinner, kids helped to clean up and ran off to play some more in the evening sun.

Not so bad, not so bad at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terschelling

Who needs overcrowded airports, traffic jams and endless flights to find that perfect holiday, when all this is just a train – and ferry ride away?

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*An evening beach, that is all yours*

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*A boat, to take you to the seals*

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*Seals, actually, on a sandbank in the Waddenzee*

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*A place to roam*

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*A deserted forrest to cycle through*

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*cycling trips under a grey sky, seawind in your  hair, open space all around*

And that, really, isn’t even half of it……….

Why travel far when happiness really lies just around that corner?

2016 what happened ?!?

Oh oh oh 2016, what happened blogwise? After several months of happy cooking, baking, reading, crocheting and – don’t forget – blogging about it , all went silent in the summer.

Health and everyday live took all my time and attention, and blogging became just about the last thing on my mind.

I did a little crochet, made two lovely baby blankets but took no pictures. I cooked a meal everyday, but stopped experimenting. I hardly baked a thing, but fortunately, I did read another book or two.

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source: Pinterest

 

Some of the loveliest ones where books I read with my eldest daughter: the Dutch ‘Gips’, by Anna Woltz, and ‘The thing about Jelly Fish’ by Ali Benjamin.

For 2017, I did not make many resolutions, other than ‘going with the flow’ and trying to be gentle, with myself, the people and the world around me.

Oh and yes, to keep reading ofcourse, to be a bit more creative, and to try and blog again every once in a while . Let’s see how that goes.

To keep track of my reading ‘history’ I started a new list of books.

Let’s see if I’ll be able to add some recipes and crochet projects to my lists aswell this year.

The single parent’s survival guide to dinner

Do you know the feeling…it’s been a long day and yet you’ve tried to make the most of dinner. Some vitamins, some colour, nothing extraordinary, just, you know something healthy…

The food isn’t even on the table yet before number one claims she has a headache and therefore…no appetite…number two is tired and iritated, and number three starts screaming as if you try to feed her poison:  ‘what’s this?! Oh no, I can’t eat that!’

All you can think is ‘why did I even bother? ‘ and….. ‘Now why isn’t there another adult at this table to  tell me ‘well, honey this is just delicious, kids, don’t fuss, eat your dinner!’? ‘

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Some nights, you’ve just got to do what makes everybody happy: feed ‘m pancakes and ice cream…………… with hidden vitamins….

For your pancakes, just make your usual batter, then add a grated zucchini (use these light green ones if you can, they’re perfect camouflage. If you use the darker green ones, be prepared to answer questions  such as ‘Mom, what are these green spots in my pancake?!?’…now try to answer that without using the V-word!

Bake and serve as you normally would…..then sit and watch them eat their veggies and smile…..

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Since we’re in a good mood, why not add some ice cream? Blend 2 chopped banana’s (frozen) and a large mango (cut into small pieces)  with the juice of one lemon. Serve, watch ‘m eat, enjoy……

Don’t feel like eating pancakes? Make yourself some soup! Chop another zucchini, boil in a little vegetable stock, throw in a handful of kale, add some cumin, coriander and black pepper, blend. Serve with some (vegan) cream, and a good swirl of ground red pepper. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

New years resolutions

A new year, time for some resolutions!

What is it with January that it makes one want to start all over, do things differently…and better?

While I write this post, my two youngest kids are cleaning out their bedrooms, spontaneously and all by themselves. Must be those January vibes, because this is so unique!

I sit quietly, afraid of spoiling the magic, thoroughly enjoying the sight of those little kids walking through the house with the vacuumcleaner, and a smile on their faces.

A clean slate, a fresh start……….. So, why don’t I share some of my resolutions with you?

In 2016, I want to:

  • Reduce the amount of plastic used in our household. I’ll try to keep you posted on my successes and failures. Any suggestions on how to go about are welcome!
  • Craft more. It is hard to find the time in between work, kids and household, but it’s such a necesary thing for me to do. I just feel better when the creativity is flowing. So why are my crafty moments always on the bottom of my to do list?
  • Read more. More even than crafting, reading is a life necessity. I can’t be happier than when I’m lost in a book. To keep me reading, I will keep track on this blog of the books I’ve read. I’d appreciate it if you’d share the most beautiful and inspiring books you’ve read in the comments below to give me some reading inspiration.
  • Blog more frequently.
  • Take further steps to reduce our ecological footstep and live a greener life.
  • Discover new recipes

And in 2016, I will go to bed on time, keep up with the laundry, be a patient mom, start running again, spend more time with the kids, read them all those nice childrens books that are still waiting for them, participate in their school activities, sew their carnaval costumes, plan their birthday parties on time, and cook them wholesome meals they’ll eat with a smile……………Ok, wait….let’s not set the aims too high, let’s go with the flow, see how we roll?

Either way, let’s have fun in 2016!

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What are your resolutions?

 

Stuff I’ve been up to in October

So, if you thought October couldn’t get any better after ‘3 Oktober‘, you’re wrong.

October so far has been good, very busy but very good. Too busy to blog apparently so here’s a little catching up on what I’ve been up to lately.

One of the biggest events this month was the annual ‘Afstudeerfeest’ organised by The Foundation for Refugee Students UAF.  On this day we celebrate the graduation of all our students who graduated over the past year. As always, a great and inspiring event. I organised the children’s part of the program, and that kept me busy on October 10th and in de days and weeks preceding this celebration! But it was a joy, and particularly so because my friend Marije once again decorated the kids with beautiful paintings on their faces and arms.

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Furthermore, yes October is Vegan challenge month in The Netherlands, and I signed up!  I will be honest with you…the occasionall bite of milk chocolate or a tiny bit of cheese did happen yes. Especially when eating out I find it hard to be strictly vegan, though I try. It’s a process I guess and as this month is progressing I feel better and better about the whole ‘vegan thing’. Definitely something to continue after October! The daily mails and facebook posts and the  extensive recipes on the Vegan challenge website bring on a lot of motivation and inspiration by the way.

I’ve been focussing on including more and more vegetables in my meals, and have been eating lots of soup this month.

I was also very happy to find kale leafs at our local organic supermarket. You know, the Dutch must be the number 1 kale eaters in the world. We’ve been eating kale since long before it became fashionable, and we all grew up with ‘stampot boerenkool’; which basically consists of a mixture of chopped up kale and mashed potatoes. (which is also just about the only recipe for kale in the entire Dutch cuisine!).  So, the only kale you can buy is chopped up and put in a plastic bag. Convenience.is.everything.

Anyway, I stopped counting how many times I ate kale this month, but it was a lot. Imagine the things one can do with those green leaves: kale smoothies, kale pizzas, kalechips, macaroni’n kale…… shall I go on?

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Meanwhile the kids are enjoying their fall break, and I will also be taking  a few days of. We’ve already had a sleep over at the grandparents, a visit to Naturalis Biodiversity centre, and an autumwalk looking for chestnuts in the golden sunshine. And there’s more to come. Hurray for holidays!

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And finally I am trying to get my crochet-groove back. Crochet is always such a good way of escaping the busy day to day events, but it’s also something that ends up as the last thing on my list all too soon. But now I’ve started on a new crochet scarve for a good cause:

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Following a call from @vintageretrokitch on Instagram, I decided to participate in her #swapwithamessage. An initiative to send parcels to the mothers staying in a large refugeecamp in Nijmegen; women who have to look after their children in overcrowded places with little privacy, thousands of kilometers away from what’s left of their homes, and facing an uncertain future. There’s no ‘me time’ for these women, and I fully support the initiative to send them caring welcoming packages!

Now, let’s see what the last week of October will bring!

Share what you have and care where you can: refugees are welcome here.

Anyone following the news in Europe knows that at the moment thousands and thousands of refugees are arriving in Europe, and something has to be done. To help the people in need, and to come up with sustainable solutions for the future. A challenge, yes, but not one we can close our eyes to.

Where politicians are having a hard time dealing with the current challenges, and waste time talking, it is heartwarming to see how ‘ordinary’ people have opened their hearts and their homes for the refugees arriving at our doorstep.

We blessed Europeans, do we realise how lucky we are? To be able to travel where ever we want to go? No fragile boats, no walking for miles and stumbling upon fences. An overcrowded train in an exotic place is a good story once we’re back home, that’s all……… lucky people we are.

Currently there are several  Dutch initiatives to help refugees: from apealing to politicians to filling little backpacks for kids, to sending boxes full of warm clothes to Greece, collecting welcome packages for refugees arriving in The Netherlands, and inviting refugees into our homes for a shared meal or a roof above their head.

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It’s wonderful to see how welcoming people are and how ready to help. I hope this spirit lasts because after the bags and warm clothes have been distributed, and a welcoming meal has been shared, people have to start building a new life; a new home, a new language, a job…. and deal with the memory of all they’ve left behind.

While all this is going on, I wonder….as a Dutch mother in a safe country, how do you raise kids to be responsible worldcitizens, to care for those in need, to share what they have and to realize they are blessed and to be grateful for that?

I am trying to find that balance between making them aware but not scaring them. Making them care, but not to burden them too much. They are children after all. Caring and compassionate, and with a growing awareness that the world is bigger than their own town and the people who live in it.

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Because I want them to know, and to care and share, I recently tried to involve the children in a few projects. We filled a large box with wintercoats, warm socks and shirts, for the refugees arriving on Lesbos and sent it all the way to Greece. The girls also filled welcoming packages that will be distributed among refugees in the Netherlands.  In a few days, they will participate in a sponsor run, organised by school.

These are all small drops in the sea full of care that is needed, but they are their drops, drops of love and drops that will grow, as my daughters grow up………

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Are their any special initiatives in your area and how do you involve your kids?