Thursday, 30 January 2014

Keeping Busy, Looking Forward

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers

As you might have noticed I've made a few changes here lately.  After fiddling around with several different fonts and sizes I've finally settled on this one.  It was a bit chaotic looking around here when I was reading old posts and they jumped from one font to another. So the other day I took the time out to change the fonts on each and every post and fix them all up a bit to be a bit easier on the eye. So the many references to the fonts and the look of this place might not make any sense anymore if you don't remember how it used to look. I hope you like the new look and will visit often. Moving on:

This is becoming my new favourite for a roast dinner:  Poussin

There's a market stall on the Dappermarkt (right down the street from me) which sells these along with other fowl, rabbit and something else I don't recognise. They only cost € 3 each. They're tastier than a mature chicken and are easy to prepare.  I've done them twice already.  Once was fully on the stove, covered and on low simmer like the photo on the right, but minus the veggies.  I browned them first in a little butter.  The second time I roasted them in the oven with some foil over them.  I put a little butter inside of them and a clove of garlic, salt and peppered them and that was it.  In 45 minutes they were done and were delicious.  This week I decided to do them like the first week (simmer) but then finish them off on the oven with the lid on for all but the last 10 minutes.  But I first stuffed them.  There was a 2 for 1 special of my favourite crusty bread at the Albert Heijn and I'm a little pissed off with the pigeons right now so I had loads of bread that was getting old.  I cut the crust off and toasted a few slices.  Then I chopped up apple, onion, and celery, added some raisins and seasoned with salt, pepper and think some rosemary (I'm a improv type of cook) and  mixed it with some melted butter.  I put another pat of butter in the birds and stuffed them both and carefully trussed them up and then let them simmer a bit in a chicken stock and white wine concoction with some carrots and potatoes around them.  After about 15 minutes I put the pot with the lid on in the oven and roasted it for about 1/2 hour with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.  I remember basting it once during the last few minutes. I spooned some of the pan juices over the chicken and veggies and dug in. They came out absolutely delectable and melt in your mouth. (It sound like I'm talking about candy or cake!)  I ate most of it with my fingers.  We split one of them and there's another saved for dinner tonight.  One stuffed bird is enough for two people with small to medium appetities. This third time was a charm and I'm going to do it like this again.

I started this a few months ago and was experimenting with free form and shapes.  I put it down for a couple of months and then got inspired and picked it up again right after Christmas.  Getting the circles on was quite tricky. But I persevered and then got the idea to attatch it a metal ring.  That was also tricky and took some manoeuvring but I'm pleased with the results.
                                                               A Suncatcher

 Today there was a glimpse of sun and it was showing through it.

There's a window box in the front room (it has no real name but is used as a dressing room, office and with the right furniture could be a spare  bedroom).  There's one plant that has not only survived the winter but look what's happening!
I can't believe that I'm seeing signs of spring already.   I'm working on something big for the spring and these flowers are just giving me the push to keep working on it through these mostly dark, damp and deary days.

ps: Take a look at the Flickriver badge to the right to see more things I've made.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Surviving Winter

Hi There!

 It’s been a year since I changed the name of my blog and I got the renewal notice for the domain today. It reminded me that I haven’t been here in a while and made me wonder whether it was worth running the blog at all. I haven’t used I it as much as I thought I would but hopefully things will change.

It’s January now. Christmas was a quiet,cosy affair with my son coming over from London. We did the usual eating til overstuffed, drinking til tipsy, playing silly games and watching silly telly and recalling Crimbos of the past. My birthday has also come and gone without much fanfare and I entered into a new stage of my life as an OAP. The sad anniversary of my oldest son’s death 8 years ago has also come and gone and I was filled with the same amount of sadness as I felt that awful day back then.

The trees that the neighbours sit on has been cut back drastically as some branches were actually touching the balconies. They don’t seem to be here as much as they used to but I’ve got new neighbours who are much more fun to watch.

I built a little feeding station for them which the pigeons can’t get to and can spend hours in my favourite chair watching their comings and goings. They seem to have special times of the day when they drop by. I also like watching the interaction between the different types of birds. The parakeets don’t take any shit from the pigeons. I’ve watched them stand up to them and see them off. They share nicely with the little birds which seem like some sort of finches and the occasional robins that drop by. I’ve also spotted the odd “rare” bird here and there and wish for a better camera and time enough to get a photo of them before they fly off.

These nasturtiums were planted back in September just to see what would happen this late in the year and they’ve surprised me by flowering.

They add a bit of colour to an otherwise dull view on these endless grey, dark, damp days.

Inspired by the birds I made these two new ones.I’d seen something like them when I was Googling images for birds and thought they were so cute and that I just had to try to make them without a pattern. The only thing I don’t like about them are their beaks which are far too big. I didn’t realize it until after I’d finish them. They’re were just my prototype for some I’m working on for a bigger project.

I’ve been working on a few crochet projects at the moment and have managed to sell my first piece! I wasn’t even trying to sell anything but the opportunity presented itself when a guest liked something I made and asked if I could make them one too. I’ve been asked to make more but don’t want to commit.I’ve found that when I got into selling things that I made in the past the commitment to produce stifled my creativity. I just want to create as I feel it.

I’ve got other projects in the works as well. Some are only still in my head and others are in the active stages, acquiring materials, drawing patterns/plans, etc. Not being able to get out and about easily has forced me to buy all of materials online and it takes time to get all the bits and pieces required because no one site has everything I need.It’s very time consuming but the least painful option in the long run.I bought a dress form a couple of months ago and want to make some summer clothes but buying fabric online is not an option in this situation.I want to see it and feel it in person so will have to plan an afternoon out to my favourite (but expensive) fabric shop on the Albert Cuypmarkt. Actually, I find all fabric to be rather expensive here in Holland and miss all the cheap little fabric stores who sold a bit of this and a bit of that that I used to go to when I lived in Brooklyn. I wonder if they’re still there now.

The biggest project of all though will be to keep this blog going. Maybe even collect a few followers and become interactive. I’ve made a few changes to it and hope it will become more visually appealing. I’m still learning how to do all of this so it’s trial and error.

I've run out of steam so it’s time to sign off for now. So long and thanks for stopping by.