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?

Fourth Question

Sorry folks, until I have more inspiration, you're going to have to make do with answers to all kinds of questions. I figure it's beter to keep writing something, than not write anything at all :-)

Todays question: What do you enjoy spending money on?

Simple answer: Nothing.
I don't like spending money. When I do, I feel guilty. Always, always there's a little voice in my head asking me if what I'm buying is really neccesary and if I can't get it cheaper.
I have learned how to silence that voice though, or to thoroughly rationalize things so that I can get something almost guilt free.
Spending money on coffee with a friend for example. I've really had to learn how to do that and to enjoy it instead of sipping it while thinking of how much cheaper it would be to drink coffee at home! Or buying clothes for myself (which is a traumatic situation in itself). I still struggle with getting something really nice (and therefore more expensive) because, deep down, I probably don't think I'm worth it.
I don't buy books, for example, even though I'm a great lover of reading. Part of me thinks it's just not worth it, considering the pace at which I read! And to be honest, I think that that is a pretty good argument. Secondhand will do me just as well, and even then I protest at the amount of money people sometimes want for a book!
This money thing has been passed down through the genes, at least partly. I guess being a missionary kid can do that to you! And partly it's because of how Herman and I started off our marriage. We were practically kids, Herman had just started working and we had our kids when we were young. No time to build up any savings, so we learned early how to spend our money well.
On the other hand, I'm also proud of the way we spend our money. We have no debts, have never had any, are able to take vacations (however simple they may often be), we tithe, we have a roof over our heads, are well-fed and can afford a luxury every now and again. Really, no reason to complain!
I just want to work some more on the guilt free spending though, so that I can thoroughly enjoy it when I do spend it!

Song tekst

I went to a Kees Kraayenoord concert. I loved this song.

God Of The Moon And Stars

God of the moon and stars
God of the gay- and singles bars
God of the fragile hearts we are, I come to you
God of our history, god of the future that will be
What will you make of me, I come to you

God of the meek and mild,
God of the reckless and the wild
God of the unreconciled, I come to you
God of our life and death
God of our secrets unconfessed
God of our every breath, I come to you

God of the rich and poor
God of the princess and the whore
God of the ever open door, I come to you
God of the unborn child
God of the pure and undefiled
God of the pimp and paedophile, I come to you

God of the war and peace
God of the junkie and the priest
God of the greatest and the least, I come to you
God of the refugee
God of the prisoner and the free
God of our doubt and certainty, I come to you

God of our joy and grieve
God of the lawyer and the thief
God of our faith and unbelief, I come to you
God of the wounds we bear
God of the deepest dreams we share
God of our unspoken prayer, I come to you

God of a world that's lost
God of the lonely cross
God who has come to us, I come to you