Back to Terschelling

So, last month we went back to Terschelling for a two week holiday. Just can’t get enough of this island….

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If you ever have the chance to visit, go to the Wrakkenmuseum ( shipwreckmuseum) in Formerum, a small village in the centre of the island. It’s a magical place where you can spend hours and hours, looking at all those treasures big ans small, new and old, that have been found in the sea, or that have washed up on the shore.

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In the backyard there’s a great playground for the kids that really triggers their imagination, all made of found and recycled materials.

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Indoors you can have your coffee or hot chocolate surrounded by treasures from the sea; bones, shells, ancient diving costumes, pictures and funny stories. Just keep an eye on your kids ……..no, honestly, it’s a very, very relaxed place to visit with kids. So much to explore, see and do

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We spent halve a day here and still haven’t seen and experienced everything. A good reason to go back….again…..

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“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

DIY playdough

When the kids where younger, I often made their own playdough.

Now they are older, they play with playdough less often, but it’s still a success during the holidays! This time I made a cinnamon scented pink batch. Fun ( and a few quiet moments for me) guaranteed!

 

You will need: one cup of salt, 2 large cups of flour, 2 large cups of water, 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1,5 teaspoon cream of tartar, a large pan and a wooden spoon. Optional: foodcolouring, scents).

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Put all ingredients (except the foodcolouring) into the pan, and stirr above medium heat. Stirr well!  Within a minute or two you will see your mixture changing into a playdough-like ball.

Remove from pan and place on your workspace. Allow to cool, kneed thoroughly and add foodcolouring according to taste.

Now, let’s play. When done, store in an airtight container and use again and again.

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You can use this recipe for very young children too. They love to feel, kneed, smell, touch….taste….., and you don’t have to be afraid they put anything poisoness in their mouth if they decide to taste it!

Happy 20 sweet 16!

No better place to spend the first day of a new year, than on the beach!

We didn’t jump into the sea, like so many others do for a real ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’, a dive into the new year, but we did get our shoes and socks wet.

 

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Happy New Year to all of you, let’s make it a good one!

Christmas decorations

It’s that time of the year again; time to bring out the Christmas decorations!

Not the most fashionable ones perhaps, just the ones that make us happy, and that make our home a comfy colourful welcoming place.

 

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Our Christmas decorations are thrifted:

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Fairtrade:

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Made by the kids, throughout the years:

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And handmade by me:

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That Christmas tree is hard to photograph, but you get the idea I  guess: branches collected in the woods, dried, and tied together, hung on the wall and decorated.

 

…and it ain’t Christmas ’till I’ve had time to crochet some stars!

A walk in the woods

No fall holiday is complete without a good walk in the woods.

I’s a 20 minute bike ride out of town, to a forest on the edge of the dunes, where magical wooden creatures live…..

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A good walk, a good ride, hot chocolate and apple pie in the middle of the forrest, rosy cheeks, bright eyes and early to bed! A walk through  Panbos is very, very good way of spending your Fall Sunday!

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Vegan ‘hutspot’ and a celebration

In October 1574, after a siege that had lasted for months and left many people starving, a young boy climbed upon the citywalls of Leiden. He saw how  the Spanish soldiers  had left their campements, fearing the rising water. They left, leaving everything behind. This boy, Cornelis Joppensz, ventured outside the city walls to explore the deserted army camps. He found a pot, filled with a mixture of carrots and onions, and brought it home. Ever since that day, people in Leiden eat ‘hutspot’ on the 3rd of October.  And so did we….

3 oktober 2015 leiden After an eventful day on the fairground, I cooked a large pot of hutspot to end our 3 Oktober celebration in style.

Hutspot is usually eaten together with meat, but I went for a vegan variety!

For a hungry family of four you will need:

1 kg potatoes, 750 gr carrots, 2 medium parsnips, 3 medium onions, vegetable stock, olive oil, ground black pepper.

optional: vegan ‘meatballs’.

hutspot 2Clean the potatoes, carrots and parsnip, chop in roughly equal cubes, cover with water and cook for about 15-20 minutes (check in between: you want to mash your veggies, not make porridge).

Chop the onions and glaze them in some olive oil, and powdered vegetable stock and pepper to taste.

Drain potatoes,carrot and parsnip,  add onions and mash. You can make it as smooth or as lumpy as you like. Add some more oil and vegetable stock or pepper according to taste.

Et voila, you’re done!

Just fry some vegan meatballs or even falafel (did that last year..) to go with your hutspot and you’ve got yourself the vegan version of  Leidens ‘signature dish’.

Eet smakelijk!

Growing up in Leiden #2

Growing up in Leiden is all about traditions this time of year. On the 3rd of October (and the days preceding it) Leideners celebrate the fact that on the 3rd of October 1574, the town of Leiden was liberated after it had been under Spanish siege for months and the population nearly starved to death.

We celebrate this year after year in a celebration loaded with tradition. Children in Leiden learn that ‘3 oktober’ is about much more than going to the Lunapark, and coming home with toys won, and teeth aching from all the cotton candy they ate.

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For example,they share a meal of hutspot in school (mashed potatoes with carrots, after the food that was found by a little boy from Leiden after the Spanish soldiers had deserted their camps outside the town). They also join in a ceremony where schoolchildren all come together to sing songs about the history of 3 oktober. Many children also participate in a grand parade through town,a tribute to the heroes of 3 oktober 1574.

Tonight my eldest daughter participated in this parade, the taptoe. The youngest 2 spent some time on the historical fairground outside the Pieterskerk, and then waited on the side of the road for the parade to pass.

Tomorrow, we will go to the big, modern lunapark, and yes, probably eat some cotton candy too….but only after they’ve finished another plate of hutspot…homemade…..

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And I can’t help but wonder….look how important freedom is, how important it is to be safe, to have food on the table, to be able to move in and out of town freely, no soldiers waiting for you out there. It is so important to us, that we still celebrate this historical event, even after more than 400 years.  And I can’t help but think about all those people who are fleeing wars, or are living in cities under siege today…….

Growing up in Leiden #1

I’m planning to write a series of blogposts on things to do with kids in Leiden. I want to share with you some suggestions for nice outings, aswell as some of the surprises we’ve stumbled upon ourselves, and enjoyed very much.

Leiden I think is a wonderful place to grow up. It’s a very old town, not too big to feel lost, not too small to feel trapped. It is situated in a beautiful part of the country, and is surrounded by some really lovely nature worth enjoying and exploring. In Leiden itself there is always a lot to see and do.

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Like today, for example. While walking throug town on our way to our favorite icecream man, we stumbled upon a bride and groom on the bridge behind the city hall. They were surrounded by kids holding little radios, listening to directions and all running off at once. It turned out the bride and groom were taking part in what is said to be the largerst ‘foxhunt’ in The Netherlands. All over the historical city centre of Leiden, 50 groups of LCKV- volunteers could be found, dressed up, sometimes really putting on an act for the children en encouraging them to participate in singing, dancing, communicating without  words and having their face painted. The challenge was to find all 50 ‘foxes’ and to collect a stamp from all of them. The kids could tune in to Unity FM on the little radios that were handed out to them, to listen for directions.

We decided to join in and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the streets of Leiden, searching for foxes and having  really great time. We came home with painful legs and sore feet, but big smiles on our face. We’d spent the whole afternoon enjoying the sun, the city, the enthusiasm of all the volunteer foxes who were really dedicated to give the kids the time of their life, the sight of 300 kids exploring the streets armed with little radios and purple backpacks, helpful parents giving eachother directions, and in the end, we even came home with a price: entrance tickets to the Museum of Ethnography, won by my youngest daughter, who found 26 foxes!

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The foxhunt took place during OPEN, a cultural event that takes place every last Sunday of the month in the streets of Leiden. I like these kinds of events because they really encourage you to explore your own town and to appreciate all the social and cultural initiatives that take place here.

Oh and back home I baked a really tasty vegan bananabread. I will share the recipe with you later this week. Now the house smells sweet (banana and cinnamon yumm), and the kids have all gone to sleep peacefully…..Sunday evening bliss!