dinsdag 26 oktober 2010

A walk of art

A short while ago my husband and I did 'Een rondje Dordt'. This is a walk along galleries and vintage stores, that is held in Dordrecht every first sunday of the month. A must, for not only lovers of art and brocante, but for those who are interested in architecture as well. Dordrecht is one of the oldest Dutch cities, with houses dating back to the 17th century. I have written about Dordrecht before in the winter, when the streets were covered with a layer of snow.

This time we had a cloudy, but dry day. Perfect weather to explore some shops and galleries and walk through the old town. Do you notice the colours of the doors and windows? Not long ago Dordrecht was full of green doors and white window frames. This was until the Dutch 'Monumentenzorg', who take care of monuments in our country, changed their attitude. More colours are allowed. Nowadays its different shades of green, grey and red that adjourn the houses. The funny thing is that although more colours are used, they match perfectly. I think it makes the city look more attractive.

Let me take you on a tour and show you some of the alleys, shops and houses.

Wish you a lovely day! Lieve groet, Madelief

woensdag 20 oktober 2010

Tea and cakes

We are having a short 'autumn' holiday in Holland. The girls are free from school and I took a day of work. Just to enjoy; be with the girls, do some baking, cooking and some much needed house cleaning. A dear friend of mine came for tea and dinner. I decided to bake something special.

After leafing through my baking books, I decided on mini coffee cakes from the book 'Good food 101 Cupcakes & small bakes'. They were simply delicious. Full of walnuts, with a slight hint of coffee. I can recommend the book to you. It costs less than five pounds and is full of delicious, easy to make and foolproof recipes! I have several of the little '101 books' on my shelves and I often use them.

The flowers on the photo's are probably the last Cosmea's and Zinnia's from my garden. They look so bright and cheerful on a grey and wet autumn day as today. My neighbour kindly gave me some branches of the Calicarpa, which look great in between the pinks.

Wishing you all a happy wednesday! Lieve groet, Madelief

Oh, before I forget: the other pies on the photo's are the famous Dudok apple pie & chocolate truffle pie. The plates are from the PIP home collection.

Mini coffee cakes

100 gr walnut halves
140 unsalted butter
140 gr caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp strong coffee (espresso or made with instant), cooled
175 gr plain flour
4 tsp baking powder

For the icing
three tablespoons of coffee
140g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Finely chop all but twelve of the walnut halves. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale, then gradually beat in the eggs. Add the chopped walnuts, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of coffee. Mix the flour and baking powder, fold in gently, then divide the mix among the baking cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with about 3 tablespoons of coffee. Ice the cooled cakes, then decorate with nuts.

zaterdag 16 oktober 2010

Paris for a day

Over the past year my train leaving for work left on the same platform (wrong side ;-) as the train leaving for Paris. Day in day out I have been looking at the crowds through my compartment window. I saw businessmen in fancy suits, backpackers, friends on a day out and children going on a school trip, hopping on the train. Such happy and fortunate people! If only I could join them.

This week something was different. I was on the right side of the platform .... among them. It felt simply great! When I told one of my colleagues how much I had been longing to step on the train to Paris, she decided to join me. We had a great day. Leaving at seven in the morning, see the sun coming up over the Seine and the Place de la Concorde.

It was our intention to visit the Monet exhibition, but the queue was more than two hours. We dediced to walk along the Seine, into the city centre and have coffee and macarons at LadurĂ©e. It was a good choice. We visited the fashion department of Le Printemps, strolled through Le Marais and took the train back home at seven.

I realise our visit to Paris may have been a bit decadent, but now and then it's good to step out of one's daily pattern and do something crazy. I can recommend it!

Dear Chantal, thank you once again for the information you gave me about Paris. It was very useful!

Wish you all a great weekend!

Lieve groet, Madelief

zaterdag 9 oktober 2010

Autumn flowers

It's a beautiful autumn day in Holland. The sky is blue, there is a gentle breeze and the people on the street look much more happy! The weather is warm enough to sit outside, enjoy the sun and a good book. I am reading David Mitchells book 'The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet' at the moment. It was a bit difficult to get into the story at first, but now that I am on page thirty something, it gets better.

My garden is like a wilderness. Because of the rain we had, it is still impossible to mow the lawn. The garden is soaking wet. Several plants are overgrown, like the Cosmea you can see on the last photo. It is still beautiful though. The Asters are doing fine and still attract lots of butterflies. The colours of the Hydrangeas are fading, but they look very pretty. The Calicarpa I planted three years ago is still small, but full of little purple berries. I don't want to pick the branches yet, but hopefully in a few years time I can. The only flowers left in the garden which I can still use for picking are Zinnia, Cosmea, Sedum and Hydrangea. There are still a few tomatoes on the plants and one or two courgettes and thats it. We will have to wait and see what next year brings us. How is your garden doing?

The cup with the roses was given to me by one of the ladies of my choir. It was once her mothers. Dear Ada, when you read this post thank you once again!

Wish you all a lovely weekend!

Lieve groet, Madelief

zaterdag 2 oktober 2010

My parents garden

As I was scrolling through my photos recently, I came upon pictures I made of my parents' garden. They were taken in August, when a lot of plants were in full bloom.

My mum and dad only have a small garden. I think it is about 5 metres to 10 metres, but it is little piece of heaven. It is packed full of plants in the brightest colours. Especially pinks, purples and blues are among their favourites. They have several roses, like the Constance Spry and Pink Cloud climbing against the walls, as well as two or three varieties of Clematis. Quite a lot of plants, especially the annual ones, are in teracotta pots or wicker baskets. I enjoy sitting in their garden, just looking, smelling and chatting about all kinds of everything and gardening.

As they live nearby Boskoop, which is the horticultural centre of Holland, we often visit one of the smaller nurseries. My favourite corner in the nurseries is where they keep the plants that are reduced in price. It's simply impossible for my mum and me to come out of that corner empty handed. So know you know why my parents garden and my garden are so full of plants :-) I am afraid it runs in the family!

In Holland sunny weather is predicted for tomorrow. I hope it will be great weather in your part of the world too. I wish you all a lovely day!

Lieve groet, Madelief