Tuesday, June 30, 2009


recipe for best birthday party ever: berries, friends, cakes, grass, shade, trees, children, frisbee, babies, blankets, sunshine, cool sea-breeze, mini-kites, balls, grilled vegetables, watermelon, smiles and bare feet.
(only spot of bother: the vengeful bee... 'Mama, au. Tij au. inger. au')

Thursday, June 18, 2009

elderflower cordial

recipe here. new favourite cocktail: white wine with a dash of elderflower. in a bowl (of course). yum.

Monday, June 15, 2009

where should i start?

(strawberries, grapes in becoming and mysterious pumpkin/courgette plant imported from P's veggie garden: all on our balcony)

whenever i ask this question (often, often, often), the universe consistently replies: right where you are. but this one is really hard for me to crack. simple as it sounds in theory, living it is bloody impossible. for a multitude of reasons, my mind would rather i began 'over there'. and then moved on. oh how vague this all sounds. rewind.

two years ago, we bought an allotment with a little house (remember?) in leiden, 45 min. by car from here. the idea was to turn it into a dream garden for us to spend all our summers in. this was two years ago, and i have been there four times, a grand total of six hours or so spent on our plot. the said plot is still a swamp, much worse in fact than when we bought it, and in the two years we have owned the house, we haven't managed to get our act together to connect the water, so that the floor still hasn't been washed. in the meantime, my once blooming, flowering, fruiting balcony at home has been dead for two years, since clearly there is no point in planting things on a balcony when one is the owner of a huge GARDEN, and few weeks have gone by without me becoming very agitated about the whole GARDEN issue.

so that's the bit about trying to start 'over there'. i have this image in my mind, frolicking babes, jolly dogs, sunshine, huge veggie garden (which in fantasy land is not being trod upon by either dogs or babes), me reclining in the shade of a blossoming apple tree, in my hammock, reading a book and sipping lemonade (and not being disturbed in these activities by babes, dogs or the necessity to actually care for the huge veggie garden). you know, soulemama meets nikki mcclure kind of stuff. but then on a fluffy cloud. and in my haste to make this vision my own, i tend to forget a few steps. the first few steps.

(marc is planning to go on an old-fashioned quest next spring, walking to compostella or some such place. at first he was planning to start somewhere in france, but then he decided it was more real to start from our door. i love how, under the surface, his life and mine always intertwine. 'you know what it is, though,' he said to me, 'the first thousand km will be so boring...'.

yes, but without them, you won't get wherever you're going, honey. and neither will i.)


so, for the umpteenth time, back to the drawing board, also known as square one. we are selling the doomed garden. and my balcony is coming alive. next year, perhaps, a small veggie garden in town, P-style. you know, the next step.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


sweet peas and stone softies (felted stones we made at the bijenmarkt on saturday).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

passion for bowls

the one i broke (half of tord boontje), the one i found (perfect chipped scratched blue white breakfast bowl), the one i inherited (polka dots from my grand-father's house)

i can never get enough of bowls. they make me insanely happy. the way my hands cup around them. the roundness of them, the fragility. the way they can carry everything i need. i once went on a retreat and brought along a bowl (golden hungry bowl by tsé-tsé), then spent the whole reatreat eating and drinking only out of that bowl. it was a fantastic experiment in mindfulness: i couldn't drink and eat at the same time, nor could i eat things that didn't belong together. i only ever had to wash the one bowl. but i had to wash it often. if i wanted to eat huge portions, i couldn't fool myself into thinking i had eaten hardly at all (that's your seventeenth bowl there, honey!).

would it work at home do you think? i'd like to try. anybody wants to join me for a bowl week? starting monday? (that gives me a few days to choose my bowl...)

in perspective

we own a pasta machine. this is the second pasta machine in my life, the first one was bought years ago, in a pre-children life, when i spent an entire afternoon making tagliatelle with my brother, hung the tagliatelle to dry in the kitchen, went to have a drink to recover from our efforts, and returned to find out that cats do, surprisingly enough, like fresh pasta. i then cleaned the pasta machine thoroughly, with much soap and grace. and found out that pasta machines rust in water. exit pasta machine. forever. or so i thought.

last year, we were visiting one of those local organic markets brimming with goodies, with my brother (again?), and there was a young woman offering fresh-made ravioli to the crowd. the ravioli were delicious, the machines lovely, glinting in the sunshine. enter pasta machine II. used once. on the day it was bought. put away. much too much trouble.

until a few weeks ago, when we went away for a few days to the beach with P. and her children, and we thought, why not, a nice project to do with the children, we'll make our own pasta. so i brought the machine along, although not the instructions, because i remembered them so well, of course. make the dough. divide it into eight balls, put away in the fridge for a few hours. then begin rolling. there are nine positions on the machine, each ball must go ten times through each position. easy, no?

yeeees. except it took us two days, and four shifts of two hours with two people per shift to get one portion of pasta ready. hhmm. so much for jamie oliver's claim that making fresh pasta takes as long as running to the store for the dry kind. we swore. we laughed. we cried. we drank. we got mad at innocents. we cursed. we philosophized. we questioned. mostly though, we turned. and turned. and turned that bloody handle. the result was amazing silky pasta. such as none of us had ever had. but clearly, clearly, CLEARLY, not worth the trouble.

i came home disturbed (in more ways than one), and immediately sat down to investigate the world of fresh-pasta-making. turns out the actual instructions would have been useful. not ten times through each position, but once. we might have been done in a little under an hour instead of the eight it took us. ahm. (the amazing thing is that P. is still talking to me...).

... and here is the other amazing thing. suddenly, making fresh pasta does not seem like so much trouble. in fact it's on our menu every week. because, you know, it takes barely longer than running to the store for the dry kind!

Friday, June 05, 2009


i found a bird
but only
one broken
nestled between
two pavement stones
then fluttering
then nestled
in my hands

its beak soft
the warmth
of space
where fingers meet

its claw
the waist of my thumb

this was nine days ago
my hands still hold

not daring
to stretch
my fingers

not daring
to feel
the ache
of ‘he is gone’

not daring
to trust
the gift he left

Thursday, June 04, 2009

once a year...

... we put on our twirly skirts, take off our shoes, and dance the day away at the international gypsy festival in Tilburg. and no matter how high my expectations, this is one special day that never ever disappoints. it was perfect. just you look at my girl.