I heaved a sigh last night, when I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. My husband asked me what was wrong. I answered and told him I had nothing to look forward to today. Nothing except cleaning the house and minding kids.

You're depressed, he said.

– You think?

What I do know is that any form of passion for life seems to have flown right out the window. In the back of my head I'm writing posts filled with frustration and rage. Over those posts a layer of guilt is pasted. Guilt for feeling the way I do. For wanting to take escape.

I'm not tired of life perse, I'm tired of THIS life. I have visions of freedom, of doing my own thing, of not being worn down by the continual presence of spoken and unspoken demands. Demands on my time, my attention, my capabilities. They eat at me, leaving behind an empty shell with nothing left to give.

I don't like this me. Don't like feeling this way. Frantically I try to place my life in perspective. I have a home, a husband who loves me, kids who love me, friends and family who care.

But it doesn't help. So then my old friend guilt returns to me and tells me I'm ungrateful and should be ashamed.

When we moved, I hoped we had entered a new phase of our lives. A phase in which love would reign in our family, new beginnings could be made and a new life could be started. Instead I find myself weighted down by unmet expectations. By hopes that have been trodden on, dreams that have not come true. We are who we are, and we packed ourselves as well as our household when we came here. Dysfunction didn't get put out with the trash, it travelled right with us, and it's weaving its insidious way into our family as I write.

And I am incapable of stopping it.

There are always two ways of looking at things. Is your cup half empty or half full? What words do you chose when you tell somebody how you're doing? What words do you chose when you write? It's all in the presentation. You decide what to bring to the foreground, and what to leave unmentioned.

I want to mention the unmentionable. I want to uncover my dark side, get the demons out of my closet, from underneath my bed, put into words the depth of desperation that sometimes clutches at my soul.

I don't need platitudes. I don't need to hear it's the weather.

What I do need to hear is that this is ok. That I'm not a bad mother or a bad wife for feeling the way I do. I need to know that I am loved, even when I tell you about the nasty part of me. And I need to be given room. Room to be me, not someone elses idea of me.

Maybe then I'll be able to see what I have, instead of what I don't.

Just for laughs

"Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit."


When the angels appeared to the shepherds, late at night, they sang "Glory be to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will toward men."

There's a dutch Christmas song based on these words. For me, no Christmas service is complete without singing it.

I thought I would share it with you:

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Market

Went to a christmas market with Herman, Tristan and divers other family members last night. Marinda was at the ballet with a friend. But that's not the point...

The market was in Kampen, pretty close to here. It's an old town with old gables and eaves, next to a river. A nice place to organize a market, Dickens style. Much to my enjoyment there was hardly a Santa to be found. Just one at the end of the evening, riding a sleigh. But sadly, there were also hardly any stables or Joseph or Mary or any mention of Jesus birth to be found either. Just one silly scene; a big wooden board painted with the traditional manger scene with the added attraction of sticking your head through so that you became the face of Mary or Joseph. I couldn't really appreciate the humor in that.

Anyway, here are some pictures of what we saw!

Gingerbread houses

Lots of careful preparation:

Careful use of technical support:

With this as the end result:

Thank you Ikea!


I've had a busy social week. Last night I was out with some of my volunteers, tonight I was out with my colleagues and board members. Board members make me nervous. I feel I have to be all upbeat and professional and all "yeah I love this job and give me more money please!!" all the time. And I feel a huge lack of sincere interest on their part. Something which was again made quite clear to me by the one know it all who bothered to start up a conversation and then got up and left halfway through a sentence. I think it was one of his sentences though, so that was no great loss!

Anyway, I find it draining to have to put up appearances. I was ready to go home about an hour and a half before I did and almost felt the smile on my face turn into a grimace. I missed meaningful conversation. To be honest though, I didn't start up any meaningful conversations either. So really, who am I to call the kettle black?

I have two weeks of free time ahead of me. I can hardly grasp the concept. And I must give the above mentioned board members some credit. I got a nice Christmas bonus. I'm thinking of turning it into the beginning of my "get me to my high school reunion" fund. Every little bit helps!

Now I will take my grouchy unsociable head to bed.

Growing up

I grew up, at least partly, in a relatively strict christian setting. The kind of setting where dancing is a sin, and drinking.... don't even think about it! Sex before marriage, big issue, smoking... up there with drinking. Maybe you know the kind of setting I mean!
That's why it was funny for me to see an old friend drop by my blog and then scarper off as fast as her mouse could take her. Because in the last week I have blogged about naked men and beer. That must have gotten some eyebrows raised!
But I also know what it's like to see the complete opposite. People getting falling down drunk, lots of sleeping around, smoking... no drugs though as far as I can remember.
I think I've found the balance somewhere halfway. Although some would think there's no halfway about it. I'm just a prude according to some standards!
I have a drink now and then, but have never been drunk. I love to dance, but am incapable of doing it. I have christian and non christian friends who smoke but almost choked on my own first and last cigarette. And as for sex... well I have two kids, so I must be doing something sometimes, right?
I just realized that I can add blogging about sex to the things I've written about this week. Now I've pretty much guaranteed some people won't be reading this blog!

Just a note

Just a note to say that a cold beer, Christmas music and a bit of peace and quiet have great healing properties. They should be put into a pill I can take daily :-)


I have a busy week this week. Two nights away from home doing Christmassy things at work. Sometimes that's ok, but right now..... not really.

Added to that I have some decisions to make and every time I think I've got things sorted in my head, something happens to make me doubt my choice all over again.

And I got told to take good care of myself today, seeing as I was pregnant and all.
Just one thing.... I'M NOT!!!

Oh yeah.... those peppermint candy canes?
They weren't.

So excuse me while I say



I'm more of a candy than potato chips kind of person, but Doritos are absolutely my all time favorite. I ate them when I lived in the States when I was 13 and have had a hankering for them ever since. When my dad travelled to the States when we lived in Ethiopia, I'm pretty sure Doritos were on the list of things to get.

A couple years back my friend Sharon was coming for a visit to Holland. This was in her wild single days ;-).
I specifically asked her to bring me a BIG bag of Doritos. Imagine my surprise when the day before she arrived, Doritos finally hit the stores here in Holland!
Since then I can eat Doritos to my hearts content. One bag will disappear in a sitting if I let it! But usually I buy them to accompany wraps.

My kids also appreciate the gustatory delights of a crispy nacho cheese dorito. It's a small bit of heritage from their third culture mom. That and peppermint candy canes. Which, I am very very pleased to announce.... will arrive in our house on Sunday, delivered by an angel of a friend who stalked a store in Utrecht for me!!

Christmas is here folks! And the nicest tree ever, we all concur!!

Only in Holland

Only in Holland can you go to a night in celebration of volunteer work and behold a naked man walking across a stage with only two thermos cans covering his private parts.....

Yes... only in Holland.

It's beginning to look a lot like

I don't make the best pictures, but here's an impression of what has been Christmasized in our house.....


Last night I went to a concert organized by the choir that my parents in law sing in. It was in a chapel about 5 kilometers from here. I had hoped to go with Marinda but... homework called!

I came into the church and found most of the back rows taken. Seeing as I actually wanted to see my parents in law, I ventured forth to the front seats. I actually ended up sitting by myself, about six rows to the back with nobody in front of me. Is that a dutch thing, to not want to sit in the front row?

The church was filled with grey heads and dark coats. Even though there were coathangers in the foyer, everybody kept their coats on. Is that also a dutch thing? To go into church looking like you're ready to run out at a moments notice? It wasn't due to the cold, because the heater was working!

I looked at the program and then sent Herman a rather desperate sms. This was supposed to be a Christmas concert and I only recognized two of the twenty songs! And the language! Here in this traditional, very very very traditional area great joy is found in singing old old songs. Written in ancient dutch. Comparable to singing hymns written in shakespearean english.
When I first came to Holland and went to church with Herman I would nudge him and ask for an explanation for every other word of the songs we were singing.

Eventually the choir came up and I got smiles of recognition from my parents in law. And then the music burst forth. Surprisingly good actually! I had expected a rather unprofessional set-up, but they sounded good! Old and traditional sure, but I still enjoyed it, despite the sonorous tones of the organ and the sloooooooooow tempo in which all was sung.
And I recognized enough of Silent Night to get at least some of the Christmas spirit.

That, and the tree which is standing unclothed in our living room, are the beginnings of Christmas in this house!


We celebrated Sinterklaas yesterday with friends.

We went from this to this within a matter of hours!

Creativity abounded....

And there was plenty of good cheer....

An experience worth repeating!

What to say

What to say about a day that is ending with me sitting on the couch with an egg on my head, watching Big Mommas House with the family?
I was cleaning this afternoon, in preparation for our Sinterklaas celebrations, when I impatiently jerked the plug out of the vacuum cleaner. It sailed through the air and landed between my eyes. Leading to some loud expletives and a lovely bruise.
Our evening was spent among ourselves instead of with our friends due to sickness on their part. We're hoping to celebrate Sinterklaas tomorrow night. I had my kids hanging over me giggling and squealing half the evening. Loved that!! It isn't too often that we spend the evening in the same room in the house. We even played battleship.
And on another positive side.. some other opportunities have arisen. Too soon to confirm anything yet, but I hope to have some good news in a week or two. I have been feeling very very gloomy lately, and this could be the good news that I've been longing for.
That's all for now!

The search continues

The last three weeks have been spent looking for peppermint candy canes. A couple of years ago I discovered them in a candy store and started the tradition of hanging them in our Christmas tree. A very undutch thing to do, let me tell you! Since then candy canes have taken over the stores, but nowhere are they peppermint! It's all strawberry and rainbow and bubblegum and what have you.

But that's just not good enough for me! I want peppermint, because there's no peppermint that tastes quite like candy cane peppermint.

So I will continue the search. I have exhausted the stores in my town, the next step will be to haunt the stores in the nearest big city. Christmas just won't seem Christmas without those canes.....

I found my golden ticket!

written by Marinda

Well, I didn't actually find it. I got it. From the department of Education to be precise.

It's called a CJP-pas, which means Cultural Youth Passport. It's a card every student gets in 'de bovenbouw'. (grades 10 to 12) Its purpose is to stimulate young people to go to a mu
seum or theater more often. The card provides a 25 per cent discount at almost every museum in Holland and a shocking 50 per cent discount at all popular musicals! That means my ticket to go see Tarzan isn't €64 but only €32! This has actually made me consider going sometime. Guess the card really works. And that, dear people, isn't the best part yet. Because that would be that I get a 10 per cent discount at, here comes; America Today, Six, Accessorize, Wonder Woman and Cool Cat! I can go shopping! And surprisingly enough, that is still not all. On each card there is a €15 credit. And because Marinda chose art class, they throw on another €10 for me. That's €25! I love you dear Mr. Plasterk! [Minister of Education] He's a 51 year old, grey-haired man. But hey, he's giving me money!

No, I'm not that superficial. I actually like going to museums. Tomorrow me and my art classmates are going to the Krüller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, to look at some painting of Van Gogh. There are some paintings that I really like. Stop laughing, I really do! Have you ever noticed that in one of his self portraits one eye is green and the other one is brown. Really, here's proof. The left eye is green and the right one is brown. I always notice that kind of weird things. For me that's actually the fun of art. Spotting minor little details and telling them to the person next to you. Who then of course answers with: Well, look at that, you're right. I was there last summer, so I already collected some fun details. So tomorrow I'm gonna stun all my classmates and art teacher with my amazing eye for detail.


Tired and watching House. It's been a busy two days at work. Nowadays I practically need the five days between to recover! Which is really ridiculous.
Anyway, hanging on the sofa watching an exaggerated medical tv program is enough to turn my mind numb and afford some kind of relaxation :-)
Tomorrow we're off to do some Sinterklaas shopping. We're going to Ikea, like the best place ever. Which means we'll either get breakfast for a euro, or get a hot dog and soda for a euro. And we'll get doughnuts for the kids, because around here Ikea doughnuts are as close as you can get to american doughnuts. Soft and sweet and sugary, yum.
I think I must be hungry...


There's nothing quite like cooking or baking for making me feel better. Actually I should say it the other way around. When I feel better, there's nothing quite like cooking or baking. It gives me a sense of fulfilment and an opportunity to express some form of creativity.

Right now I've got a pumpkin on the boil, waiting to be turned into soup. While scrounging around in my cupboard for a bouillon cube, which I couldn't find, I happened upon a kruidenbuiltje (a tea bag filled with assorted spices meant for chicken soup). I added that instead. Later I will toss in paprika and garlic and onions and then see what the end result turns out to be!

When I'm feeling bad, I don't like cooking. It's boring, dull and uninspiring. And baking... not a hair on my head thinks of baking.

So if you enter my house, and something is smelling good, you can be sure I'm having a good day.

And if I know one of you is dropping by, you can be pretty sure something will be baking!

A day in pictures

A day in pictures, from the end to the beginning:

6.30 p.m.

4.30 pm

2.30 pm

10.30 am
(recognize her?)


A book meme! What could be better? Thank you Dori!

Here are my 7 (ok then, 8) random book related facts.

1. I taught myself to read dutch when I was about..... 8 or 9. I grabbed a book out of my dads bookshelf and started sounding out the words and then found out I could read them!

2. My love of James Michener stems from when I was about ten and read the first chapter of his book about South Africa, The Covenant. I couldn't get through the other chapters then, but I re-read that first chapter many a time. I recently re-read the whole book. It was an eye opener about apartheid! I love the way Michener combines people with history.

3. My reading is severely mood related. I pick books randomly and love to have a wide variety to chose from. Experience has taught me that it's no use picking a book that does not appeal to me at the very moment that I'm looking at it. If I bring along a book I think I might like some other time I invariably end up not reading it. Making a list of books to read is a sure fire way of making sure I don't read them.

4. I am a walking disaster when it comes to buying books. 9 times out of 10 I will spend my money on some book I do not finish reading, or one that I hate. That's why I love libraries!

5. Around the same time I started to read dutch I discoverd a delightful word play. Flower and flour in english are bloem and bloem in dutch! What are the odds of that?!? I remember being charmed by this play on words and pronunciation for days. (so!?! I'm a bit weird... who cares!)

6. Reading is pure escapism. Yet I often find that issues that are in the forefront of my mind will have "magically" resolved themselves after reading. Some part of my brain keeps working, even when I'm filling the rest of it with sometimes senseless words.

7. I married a man who does not read. Ok, sometimes. One or maybe two books a year. He doesn't get my reading, I don't get the fact that he can watch sports for hours on end. Ah well... when he watches sports, I cuddle up and read. It works for us!

8. When I read I'm dead to the world. It literally takes several seconds for speech to enter my brain. Which means I get yelled at a lot.
mom....Mom... MOM!!!

Now I should be tagging others, but I'm not going to. But please feel free to share a random book fact in my comment section. Curious minds want to know!


Due to an influx of colds (head colds that is) to divers family members, there is little action to be found here on this blog. Time is spent wiping runny noses, holding back explosive sneezes, and patting teary eyes.


Bless me.


Home improvement

Even though Herman has been sick, he has been able to do some home improvement. Like the painting of the wall that I mentioned yesterday. And the hanging up of these ethiopian paintings.
I'm grateful for him, for the handy man he is. Grateful that he has enough energy to fiddle around in his own time making our house that much more ours.

What to write?

It's been such a hectic two days that I don't know where to start. I think I'll just sum up the happy points!

- I'm ever so glad Renzo passed his sports massage exam!! GLORY!
- I'm grateful for a good friend who helped out when I was feeling so nasty yesterday, and who helped transport my son to his sleepover. And who provided wonderful catering after Renzo passed his exam :-)
- I'm happy that I came home to find my husband had painted two of our walls red. (I have mentioned that red is my favorite color, havn't I? and that I have a very handy husband? )
- I'm thankful I can relax now, and not have to do anything for a while.

Boring post, I know! But I do want to keep the gratitude flowing, so this will have to do for now!

A good cry

Yesterday morning I had a good cry. A sympathetic ear, a comforting shoulder and some new perspective was offered by my husband. It was with relief and new emotional space that I faced the rest of the day and the tomorrows that will follow.

Space which was taken over quite brutally today. I came home after a hectic day of work to a husband worried about pain in his stomach. A worry I share wholeheartedly. He's just starting to get better and this pain could be the onset of a setback. I also came home to a very disgruntled unhappy son, who has a bleed in his ankle which pretty much rules out the sleepover he was so looking forward to. My heart aches for them both.

I think I managed to rise to the occasion in my own flawed way, but this was also due to the fact that I had had my cry and (almost literally) had room for them.

So today I am thankful for a good cry and the room it gives to deal with what life throws at you.


I love singing. I used to sing in the RVA choir, and I have sung in choirs here, but not very often. But I also like singing at home, loudly, falsely, in my miss piggy voice, or just melodically (or so I like to think). There's just a small problem. Not so much my problem, but a problem for my dear loving family members.
The thing is, I have singing dyslexia or something like that. Somehow I never know exactly what I am singing, so what comes out is often laughably ridiculous. Not that I think so, because I will keep singing it even if it makes no sense at all, just for the joy of having noise coming out of my mouth.
But nowadays I have to be very very careful about where I sing and what I sing. Because practically every single time either husband or children will look at me in dismay or simply burst into laughter. Today I was caught singing "silently, across my heart" instead of "sign your name, across my heart".

Yes, it does make more sense now.........
So I have to keep on the alert for when nobody is around so I can let go with a great blast of nonsensical songs. Now I find myself singing the first couple of words that I'm sure about and then tapering off to a na na na na which covers a multitude of verbal sins.

Today I'm thankful for a family that can laugh together. Though sometimes I wish it wasn't so often at my expense!


When we moved here, we pretty much automatically chose the school around the corner for Tristan. Word of mouth had it that it was a pretty good school, and come on, it's literally just around the corner!
We've had some regrets since. Tristan is a smart kiddo and was doing some extra work at his old school with other smart kids. The school here doesn't have any extra programs and seems to think that being average is quite good enough thank you.
Take tonight for example. We were getting information about different school options after elementary school. (Middle school and high school here are seperated into different levels of education, depending on grades, study habits, intelligence and child personality). There was a ton of explanation about the average level of education, and very very little about the options for smart kids.
And that bothers me. Because I think Tristan should be ambitious, and I think we should be ambitious with him. I don't think it's ok for him to chose to go to an easy school where he won't have to do anything to get good grades. I want him to be challenged, to want to learn, to aim high. And that is seemingly not done here. Being average is quite good enough. Which means we'll have to get a bit stubborn and search a bit further to find the school that will encourage him and not endorse averageness.

So what am I grateful for? For my smart kid. Because I really do realize that that is a gift and not something to be taken for granted. And I'm grateful for a school system which creates room for kids with all kinds of capabilities, making it possible for practically any child to find the niche that he or she will fit into. Even if that niche then means you can settle into being average :-)


Being thankful is no hardship today!

Yesterday morning I decided to bake an apple pie. Just because we had a lot of apples, and I felt like it. While making it I was thinking about how we rarely have visitors here, in contrast to when we lived in Houten. We often had people over then, and I love baking and cooking for an appreciative audience.
About an hour later a good friend called and asked if she, hubby and kids could come by. So they did, and we had a good time visiting and eating that apple pie! And then we added on some soup and sandwiches so that they could stay a bit longer

Then this morning started off with me actually getting some time alone in the house. The kids were at school and Herman was off at a work thingy for at least part of the day. Which meant I got to turn up the music real loud, do some crazy singing, talk to myself, invite friends over for coffee, clean the house and so forth and so on and all IN MY OWN TIME!! That is pretty precious to me!

I ended up having a delightfully productive day. The house is clean (enough), I changed the beds, did major grocery shopping, cooked food, had a friend over for coffee in the morning (she brought cake!!) and one for tea in the afternoon (she brought flowers!!), washed dishes, got my cell phone working again, read a little, blogged a little, ate at the dinner table like a civilized family..... Very very fulfilling, a day like today!

Now I will go up and do the last of my chores for today; folding up a huge pile of laundry. I will be able to leave for work tomorrow with peace of mind about the state the house is in. Lovely thought, that is! And I am every so grateful for friends I can chat with and bake pies for!

Night of the Proms

I was out with Herman and some other family members last friday. We went to Night of the Proms, which is a kind of pop meets classic music evening. Held in a huge stadium with a couple thousand people attending.
One of the stars of the evening was Sinead O'Connor. Everybody remember her song Nothing Compares to You? That song is irrevocably linked to my dating Herman way back when.

She came on stage wearing a wide black pants and a tunic, not a trace of make-up on her face. She closed her eyes, opened her throat and SANG! No gyrating, no flirting with the camera, no pretensions whatsoever. She looked completely approachable, like you would strike up an easy conversation with her while standing in the grocery line. She was so normal, it was almost odd.

Close behind her the lead singer of the Simple Minds came on stage. That was another story. An old geezer, attempting desperately to look cool. He did the gyrating, leaning into the audience, grabbing peoples hands and so forth and so on. He wore too tight jeans and to my taste, kind of made a fool of himself. Him I would not say Hi to, it would feed his ego too much. (yeah right, like my saying Hi would matter to him! well... you know what I mean!).

So I guess I'm grateful for stars who act like normal people, who give you a chance to enjoy music for what it is. Glorious sounds, no show needed.


I have not been a faithful blogger lately. I have made do with answering questions, or not writing at all, or very little. To be honest, the lack of comments has been demotivating me. Makes me wonder if I should be paying more attention to my content as wise bloggers say you should do. Not that I have ever had a ton of comments, but I crave feedback in all kinds of shapes and forms! And sometimes the lack of it makes me forget that I like writing, even if it is about boring and mundane things. And I guess that my life has been feeling rather boring and mundane lately, which is also not conducive to creative writing. I find myself having to think a lot harder about things to write, instead of my writing in my head all day long!

Now I'm going to try to do a month of gratitude, posting something I'm happy about every day. It may be tagged on to a post which is miserable and gloomy, but I am really going to try!

Today I'm grateful for a jaunt in the town center with Marinda. Sinterklaas arrived today, which meant the center was crowded with moms and dads carrying little zwarte pieten on their shoulders. There was the smell of oliebollen in the air, and the stores were crowded with people buying the first presents needed to put in their childrens shoes.

As did I. Actually I already have some gifts stored away for putting in the shoes. Tonight, before they go to bed, I will again threaten the children with no gift if they don't sing at least one Sinterklaas song. We have to keep some form of tradition going here!!


Today I saw pain in different forms.

I was visiting one of my volunteers, a 71 year old woman. We chatted and then I brought up the subject of her insecurity while on the phone. I wondered why she often sounded so hesitant when she had to make a call and asked if there was anything I could do to make it easier for her.
I could see something happening to her, her face became still in that tight closed way that makes you realize something is happening inside. Then she told me with tears in her eyes it was the memory of her mother. Her mother, who always compared her to her sister, who didn't mean to hurt her, but did, by wanting her to be something she was not.
Old pain, yet still so very visible after so many many years....

I came back to the office, and called another volunteer who had asked to talk to me. She is 80 years old. She told me, with her voice raw with pain and choked with tears, that she had just heard that her 33 year old granddaughter was going to die within 6 months. Breast cancer, just married, young child.
Recent, fresh pain, still hard to grasp.

It was a hard day.


We ate wraps tonight, and somehow that felt wrong. The sun wasn't shining, it wasn't warm, the doors weren't open to let in the fresh air, there was no ice cream for desert. Instead it was dark outside, there were candles burning, the doors were firmly shut and the heater was on. It's autumn! And wraps are summer food. Or so I like to think.

Days like this are days for solid meat and potato meals. Like stamppotten, a staple in the dutch diet. Which usually amount to masses of potatos and veggies mashed together, with a bit of meat on the side. I have learned to like them! One of the easiest is hutspot, which I think is really dutch: potatos, onions and carrots boiled together and then mashed. Gravy on top and a meatball and you're all done. No culinary finesse involved in making that! Though the last time I made it I added chunky bits of salami and it was pretty good! I just searched the internet for an appetizing picture of it, but that is not to be found. It just looks like orange gloop on a plate. I have no idea how you could tart that up to look really appetizing!

Another autumny, wintery dish would be stoofpeertjes, otherwise known as stewed pears. Not sure if that's what they're called actually. But I like to stew my pears in red wine with lots of spices so that they turn a beautiful color and taste and look scrumptious. And they make the whole house smell great.

My mother in law makes sudderlapjes, meat cooked on a low heat source for a long time till it gets all soft and full of flavor. What would the name of that be? Stewed meat? Doesn't sound appetizing at all. But it does taste good! Here's a lyrical description of exactly what this kind of food does for the soul. No one can quite put things into words like she can.

Any suggestions for other great winter food?


Name one wish for the coming year:

Don't think this should be so hard to answer, but it kind of is! I've been noticing lately that I'm living on automatic pilot a lot of the time. Doing my routine things in my routine way. There's not much to challenge me right now, and I don't seem to be looking for any challenges either.
Which is a contrast to how I have spent many of the last years. Always looking for a new challenge, always with a long list of things I still want to do, explore, or find out. And almost always with at least one book which makes me really think, instead of lulling my mind with somebody elses life. Plenty of challenging books in the bookcase, but no real appeal is coming from them!

So, one wish for the coming year.... I really do have to sit and think! For me a wish is something big, slightly unatainable, something that needs to be striven for. So writing down that I hope our kitchen will be installed sometime in the coming year, or that our new garden fence will be up just doesn't quite cut it.

Oh, I know!
I wish to regain some of the vision and hope and challenge that seem to kind of have sunk down into the morass of boring sameness that has been filling my days.

What do YOU like about yourself?

I cheated a bit, because the question I picked was just too hard. So I'll save it for another time.

Instead, I picked out this question...

What do you like most about yourself??

Now my first reaction "should" be: oh no, how difficult, I can't think of anything nice about myself (and I should be blushing and simpering while saying this). I say "should" because evidently that's how we are raised -especially here in Holland-. To be perfectly and completely capable of saying the most denigrating things about yourself and to have a really hard time saying something nice.

The funny thing is, that although I am most definately not the most positive person in the world, especially about myself, I am also not so stupid that I can't realize that I am a nice person and that there are nice things that people can say about me. And there are nice things that I can say about myself. And really?? I think that everybody should be able to do that. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is all bad. I really sincerely believe that there is something good in pretty much everybody if you look hard enough, and there is most definately something nice in YOU, dear reader!! (just the fact that you are reading this means you're nice, real real nice!!)

Anyway, after this little rant, what's the answer to the question? I think what I like most about myself is my friendliness. I am open for contact with others and hope and think that I can be pretty unjudgemental, meaning that I can get along with a wide variety of people. The odder, the better sometimes!

Now I know I havn't had a lot of comments lately (bless you if you have commented, you have no idea how encouraging it is!) but would you, could you please write down what it is you like about yourself? One word will do!

Hard Question

When was the last time you felt rich?

Now this question is open for interpretation. Rich could mean rich moneywise, or rich in experience, or rich with happiness, or richly fulfilled...whatever!
I'm going to see if I can answer this question at least two ways.
Moneywise, well, I have to go back to Ethiopia again! I do keep going on and on about our vacation there, don't I? Ah well.... good memories :-)

When I was on my road trip with my family it was an absolute delight and a joy to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have not a care in the world about how much it cost. Really, not a care in the world. The food may not have been high quality (though nothing beats a good injera eaten locally!, and the coffee.... oh the coffee.... I don't think Starbucks can beat a good ethiopian macchiato, served in a thick mug or tall glass, drunk on a wiggly chair, surrounded by happily sipping, chomping and guzzling ethiopians....... sigh..........)
Now what was I saying?? Something about feeling rich I think. Well, all of the above mentioned pleasures cost next to nothing which greatly added to the amount of enjoyment involved!

Richly fulfilled? Those are snapshot moments. Taking a bike ride with my daughter, or by myself, spending time with family, enjoying creativity. These moments often come in a flash, a warm gush of happiness flooding my body, making my eyes water. They pass but leave a lingering sense of well being and a smile on my face.
And if I blog about them, they bring a smile to my face time and time again.

Personal Question

When I "committed" to answering questions, I decided I would randomly pick a question and not put it back if I didn't like it. Well, I got one now that is kind of personal :-(

The question is: What side of yourself do you not show easily?

I think I come across as being a strong independent woman, especially if you meet me in person. Here on this blog I show other sides of myself as well, more sides maybe than most people get to see in real life!
One of those sides would be sorrow. It is only rarely that I will cry with sadness. Oh I cry easily enough when watching a sad movie or reading a sad book or while listening to somebody who is sad, almost anything will set me off actually! But to really show sadness, my own personal sadness to those around me? It's not often. I am more likely to cry angry frustrated tears than cry tears of sorrow.
The last time I remember crying, really crying, is when we left Ethiopia after our vacation there last winter. Oh my, did I cry! I wept and wept and wept with a vengeance. And then I couldn't find any tissues to wipe my face with.....
Anger is a much easier emotion to deal with. Anger makes me move, get going, produce something, DO something. Sorrow.... well.... it's just there, and it's not very useful at all.

Favorite color

The fifth question was: What is your favorite color?

Care to take a guess?