Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Back in the Saddle Again"

Well here we are, reality has set in and it's time to get busy! First and foremost - a huge thank you to Caroline for organizing my stay in the Netherlands over the past 2+ weeks. It was just an amazing time. If you haven't yet moved into 'overload', check out my Netherlands photos (actually most of those were taken by my personal photographer [Caro]) Look on the right side of the blog and click on Netherlands 2009. All the days are listed there and each one is full of photos.

My body is adjusting to a clock that is (currently) 8 hours earlier than western Europe. [they will move to day-light saving time this week-end] I made it to 6am today - the typical time to get up around here. After 9pm is still a bit challenging, but we very much enjoyed a concert last night by the Calvin College Women's Chorale. They were in the Northwest from Grand Rapids, MI. I was really impressed!

Monday morning I returned to my dear Stone Soup Quilting. Photos below. Our "director" Patty has broken her ankle, so she is sidelined, sewing bindings at the moment.

I have a number of projects ready to go, but need some time to do some catch-up - you know - put away the suitcases and start some laundry, etc. Caro and I designed a little gardening wall hanging on Sunday morning (the day I left for home) so that one is to be first.

And, our first RV event of the year is this week-end. I know it's still a bit on the cool and dreary side, but 'ducks' in the northwest aren't stopped by a little wet. We are headed down towards Mt. St. Helen's. Photos to follow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Saturday morning "quickie"

Today we are off to Simone's for our official Crazy Exchange potluck. Yeah! When we get home [Den Haag] we'll upload photos of our last couple of days. Thursday was visiting Minewood Quilting and Agnes Mijnhout, the most charming dorp (little city) of Doesberg and Atelier Bep and on to Caro's parents home in Epse. Friday was the delightful city of Munster (Germany) and a brief visit to Bad B???? (a georgous castle on the German/Dutch border). Hope you aren't sick of all of this. I have been having a fantastic time, seen so much and made to feel so totally welcome. Lucky, lucky me!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photos to catch you up

PHOTÖSDay 10 Peace Palace The Hague

Spring has surely arrived in the Netherlands

To finish up with yesterday - we had a most interesting and enjoyable day yesterday. Check out Caro's blog. I did manage to purchase a few fabrics - the reds are from the Haarlem quilt shop [I just read that it is no longer called Irma's, but simply De Sampler, Patchwork and Quilt Shop] and then on our visit to Evy's Quilter's Palat I found the wonderful blues. See the photos.

Today is another lovely day with very few clouds and very blue skies. We have been making very good use of the dining room table and working on many, many projects. The split 9 patch top [photo yesterday] is almost complete. I taught Caro how to do a string-pieced block. And then we made one up, cut it into quarters and made 4 pin cushions, just because we could. We have made a scissor holder from a potholder, finished the bag for the game tiles [for the new French/German game that Rob and Caro gave us] made a small ironing surface for Caro to put beside her sewing machine [with an cardboard yardage bolt, thinsulbrite and an old dishtowel] and tried out the new travel iron. Oh yes, and we had some breakfast. About 11 we showered and headed out the door to enjoy the sunshine. We drove to the North Sea and walked along the beach with dog running up and down. Oh glorious! There was a slight breeze but not enough to interfere with coffee in one of the beach stalls. How perfect for March.

We are being very lazy this afternoon. Tonight we will have the Quilt Bee at Dieuwke's home (again). My photos didn't turn out last week, so we will try again. Aren't I so lucky?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tuesday, dawning sunny

No one can say that my life is dull. I just so enjoy all the variety. Yesterday in the morning, for example, we went for a walk with the dog in the nearby Haagse Bos (Hague woods) - an urban park with lots and lots of trees, located just a few streets away. On our way home we stopped at an appliance store and found a travel steam iron for Caro - I told her she needed one in her sewing room for quick presses - then we wandered past a stand that sold lumpia (sp?). So we wandered home and enjoyed that for lunch. We continued to work on Caro's split nine-patch made from charm packs I brought with me and made decisions about borders and backing. I also cotninued to work on my mouse, Wym. Such a very cute pattern.[he will have a face, just as soon as I embroider it] Caro has one she made last year - so they are currently sitting together on the dining room table [amidst all the other clutter and sewing projects] Caro and Rob gave us a new game, so I have made a little bag for the tiles [in case my hands forget how to use my sewing machine] ;-) After lunch we went to visit the Peace Palace. A most remarkable effort and fabulous building. The funds to build the building were provided by Dale Carnegie. Czar Nicholas liked the idea and gave money and gifts for the building. After dinner we watched a German movie with English sub-titles. Ain't life grand?
Today we are headed to Rob's grandmother for a cup of coffee and then will go into Haarlem. Sadly Lucy had to change our plans to visit with her and we will schedule that visit for another time. But we will visit Irma's - a very nice quilt shop. Such fun!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Taking a breather . . . .

Today (Monday) is our first really un-programmed day. I must say that I have been looking forward to it. Not that we haven't had a fabulous time, but you know those days where you hardly have time to think too much - just go go go. So today we get some of that back. The plan is that we will sew for much of the day. Caro has two tops cut out and ready to go, so we will each sit down behind a machine and see how far we can get. Elaine flew back to the U.Sl yesterday. Poor dear has work today. 5 of Caro's friends arrived late morning for a "quilt bee". Most everyone brought along their own project and cheerfully chatted around the large dining room table while working on their projects. This was a lunch "potluck"so we enjoyed a fabulous soup made of pureed zucchini and leeks, with small meatballs. Bread, cheese (of course, this is Holland) and egg salad. As soon as they all left, Caro's parents arrived from Deventer. Yesterday was Caro's birthday, so we celebrated with another Gourmetten dinner (various meats cooked on the griddle on the table). Such a very nice evening.

The majority of the rest of the week is dedicated to sewing and quilting, in a variety of ways. This afternoon we are going to the Peace Palace. There was a trial in session last week, so it is closed to public tours during those times. Tomorrow will be a coffe visit with Rob's grandmother and then a visit (and coffee) with Evy at Quilter's Palat. We had visited there last year and I'm looking forward to it.

The pictures will continue to come and hopefully make some sense. For those of you in Seattle stories are coming. Life is good.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

You may have noticed that an entire week has gone past without blogging. We have been busy folks, here in the Netherlands. So the quick recap:
Mondnesday: the Haagse markt and downtown den Haag (Hema, C & A, V & D, the Passage)
Tuesday: Utrecht, the mechanical music museum and dinner with friends Goos and Jos
Wednesday: Amsterdam, Begijnhof and Amsterdam Historical Museum (Quilt group in the evening)
Thursday: long Bus ride to Kijkduin for pannenkoeken lunch
Friday: Aalsmeer flower auction (7am!) [quick trip to the vets as the dog got into some chocolate bars] and tour of the Dutch government buildings (Ridderzaal/Knight's Hall en Tweede Kamer)
There are a few more details on . There are many, many photos. We are lucky that we have had very little rain and only Thursday was grey and dreary.

PHOTOS Day 4 - 7 (Haagse Markt, Kijkduin, Amsterdam)
PHOTOS Day 8 Flowermarket/Auction
PHOTOS Day 8 Knight's Hall
PHOTÖS Evening day 7Dinner and Carcasonne

Today (Saturday) is Maurits Huis, art museum, and off to Delft for the afternoon.

Stories to go with the photos will be coming later.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 3, Sunday in Scheveningen

Relaxing breakfast, followed by a tram ride to Scheveningen. This town is located right on the north sea and is a "holiday" town all year. The weather kept improving as we walked first to a lookout tower, likely used by Mesdag as the inspiration for his Panorama [in the Hague]. This tower looks out over the dunes and the seashore. We then walked along the beach. Paco was sure this was heaven as people kept throwing his ball for him to fetch. We walked along the boardwalk and had a lunch of the famous Dutch pannenkoeken.
Returning to the tram, we were a tired but happy bunch.

Dieuwke, Erik and Willem joined us for a 'Gourmetten' dinner. In the center of the table a large griddle is placed. Everyone then cooks their own dinner. We had hamburger balls wrapped in bacon, marinated chicken [2 flavors], salmon chunks, marinated pork, pineapple slices and poffertjes - all cooked/heated on the griddle. Also served was a green salad and fresh baguettes. It was such fun! Lots of laughing, giggling, and wine brought a wonderful day to a close.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Photo link

Through the genius of Caro, I now have a photo album full of ALL the pictures of our adventures. If you are a glutton for punishment, then you can enjoy our pictures.

Pictures day 1

Pictures day 2

It's still early, so more adventures to follow later tonight. Life is good.

'"hanging out" in the Hague

WE MADE IT! Our flight left Seattle 15 minutes after scheduled take off, as the weather meant we would arrive too early in Amsterdam (must have been tail winds) and we were still here a bit early. The pilot just slowly cruised from the North Sea to Schiphol airport to use up a bit more time. Wonderful friends Caro and Rob (and 4 legged friend, Paco) met us at our easy, and early morning arrival. After a quick (and very typical Dutch) coffee, we headed to their home in the Hague. We are enjoying their hospitality in their very spacious, urban apartment - new to them. After a brief rest, we headed out for a walk. Along a nearby shopping street, we headed into the Haagse Bos. This is an 'off-leash' park and the dog thought he was in heaven. We wandered past one of Queen Beatrix's palaces and she was at home. However she did not invite us in for tea.

Today dawned bright and clear (although the clouds have returned - very Seattle-like). We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast and took the tram into the center of the city. At the tram stop we were 'greeted' by a Draaiorgel (caliope) - memories of a bicycle trip through Haarlem. We walked through the Passage, an exquisite shopping arcade dating from 1884. On our walk through Binnenhof,we noticed increased security [compared to the U.S. it was nothing more than some well- dressed men with cords running from their ears] Apparently there was a meeting of some members of the Dutch cabinet (government). A few press were there, as were we, along with one policeman sitting in his car. Various cabinet ministers arrived, including Wouter Bos, Deputy Prime Minister.Of course a coffee stop with appelgebak (apple pie with whipped cream) was required. More walking, enjoying the spring flowers and marvelous architecture and then it was time for lunch. We are doing a few things beyond eating, but you know how vacation time is. After lunch it was more walking, including the Queen's working palace at Noordeinde, just down the road from a quaint hofje of perhaps 6 apartments.
We did a bit of a hunt searching for a 1/4 inch foot for Caroline's Pfaff sewing machine, but the only store we could find didn't have any. Alas! On the tram ride home, I didn't manage to 'hop up' quickly enough and so I missed the stop. Lucky for me, it did stop again in about 4 or 5 blocks and I just added to my walking total for today. Helps to work off all those delightful calories. Oh how much I like this charming country.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Life sometimes interferes

Oh no, I have not fallen from the earth, just been incredibly diverted from catching up here. Planning for our trip has been the largest chunk of my real (and mental) time. All that laundry, what do I bring, do I have enough toothpaste/shampoo/etc, etc. You know how that goes. Always fun, but. . . . . . .

Thursday and Friday last week were fun and rather challenging. We awoke on Thursday morning to:

Now normally, it wouldn't be too big a deal except 2 others were meeting me here (6:45am) to drive south to Puyallup (20 miles +/-) for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. This is advertised to be the largest of its kind in the U.S. and I would believe it. You really should try to come sometime as it is amazing, fun, and exciting if not somewhat overwhelming. I couldn't take photos so you will have to look at the website, but it an adventure to be looked-forward-to (is that real?) each year. With my CTA involvement, I was 'invited' to volunteer for a half day or two (or more) to help out. We did things like take tickets, help people find seats for the seminars, be sure that the presenters had whatever they needed and generally act as "room mothers" for half a day. I helped with seminars by Pam Clark (Background fillers for Machine Quilting), a gal who was a Jenny Haskins instructor (Debbie Homer, Embellish Ready made clothes) and Sandra Betzina (Zippers, zippers, zippers) on Thursday. Friday was Marcy Tilton, Silk Screening Made Easy, Sue Hausmann, Amerca Sews & Quilts, Pattie Otto, Savvy Fleece Embellishments and Cheryl Barnes, The Quilt as you go Advantage. Each afteroon, then, was devoted to checking out the more than 200 vendors selling everything you could want, need or imagine. In some ways, overwhelming, but quite fun. And it's a marvelous jump-start to creativity for many months to come. As you might imagine, I arrived home after 6pm pretty wiped out!

Working backwards a bit, on Tuesday I visited my friend Miriam (another RVing buddy) and she and I sewed together (along with visiting, chatting and generally setting the world a-right) :-) I managed to get 3 pillowcases done for the grands as little Easter extras. Sorry, no photos - One is baseball and 2 are butterflies.

Spring has been teasing us - intimating that it may arrive, one of these days [after the snow]

So there you have it. I will take my camera and Caro has promised to help me upload photos - so with luck you will be able to follow along with my adventures.

Oh life is so good!