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Graasland used to be mainly about books and bentos. And then menu planning with CSA vegetables. But for a while now this grazing land has become barren.

Life goes on and people change. There’s no real need for me to make lunchboxes. And I can’t seem to beat my reading slump. BUT. There’s plenty of other stuff going on!

So this month I plan on flooding you with… snailmailing! I love old-fashioned letter writing and card sending (you did not think I meant the mailing of real snails I hope; a thing that actually happens I recently learned *HORROR*). It’s called snailmail because, well: it’s sloooooweeeer than electronic messaging. Not just because of the time and effort that go into handwriting or the journey it takes from sender to receiver. There’s also the added touch of decorating and/or choosing small gifts to send along your mail. Check the #snailmail and #mailart hashtags on Instagram (IG) if your interested!

Letter writing month 2016 #01

My LWM2016 item #01

April started as National Letter Writing Month in the US and turned global after letterpress greeting card companies Egg Press and Hello!Lucky shared their joint Write_On campaign on social media in 2014, to “promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence“. The challenge to write 30 letters in 30 days has had a growing fanbase. I bet the free stationery kits they supply help – 10.000 this year! :D

Anyway, I’m in! And although I’ve already been posting all my outgoing (and incoming ;) mail on IG labeled #outgnoe (resp. #ingnoe) I’d like to show a bit more of it over here.

The first thing I sent out (on April 1st), was the garden-themed March “Winner Takes All” prize in the photo above. It went to Ciska in The Netherlands, who won it on the Swap-Bot SENG forum.

Outgoing LWM2016 items 1 and 2

LWM2016 items #01 and #02

Because there’s no mail pickup in the weekend, I decided to also mail my item for April 2nd early. It’s a thank you to Marion from Snailmail Magazine who sent me #42 in her 366 postcards project back in February. I hadn’t gotten around to that so YAY for letter writing month!

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things, visiting participating weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

For 2015 I chose to set a goal on Goodreads. 2013-2014 had been slow book-wise, reading no more than 16 resp. 18 volumes. I was too embarrassed frustrated to even post the lists! ;) That’s why a target of 20 seemed a bit of a challenge for 2015, but doable.

<insert drumroll please…> YAY! I surpassed my goal by 9!!! Making a total of 29 (listed further on), whisping me back to the level of 2012. #happydance

For 2016 I won’t be aiming at a certain amount of books. Rather I’d be reinforcing the habit of reading more regularly. Once I’ve figured out the details I’ll share them.

BOTNS Book Bingo

BOTNS_bingo2015What helped keep me motivated the past year was the Books on the Nightstand Summer Book Bingo. I generated a card and though I didn’t really pick my books according to the squares, it was fun checking where a read would fit and crossing it of. My friend Muizz was also playing, which made it even more fun. You should’ve heard me scream “BINGO!” once I got a full row completed! *grin*

Books read in 2015

Listed from most recently to early 2015:

  • The Mutts Winter Diaries ~ Patrick McDonnell
  • Terug naar Oegstgeest ~ Jan Wolkers
  • The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro, #13) ~ Laura Joh Rowland
  • De fietser van Tsjernobyl / El ciclista de Chernóbil ~ Javier Sebastián
  • History of a Pleasure Seeker ~ Richard Mason
  • Hug Time ~ Patrick McDonnell
  • Gevallen God / A God in Ruins ~ Kate Atkinson
  • Legend of a Suicide ~ David Vann
  • Potifars vrouw ~ Sophie Zijlstra
  • The Children Act ~ Ian McEwan
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ~ Marie Kondō
  • Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and Still Have Time to Enjoy Your Trip!) ~ Dave Fox
  • The Buried Giant ~ Kazuo Ishiguro
  • De kat / 猫の客 / Neko no kyaku ~ Takashi Hiraide
  • Wachten op woensdag (Frieda Klein #3) / Waiting for Wednesday ~ Nicci French
  • Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley, #18) ~ Elizabeth George
  • Het boek van wonderlijke nieuwe dingen / The Book of Strange New Things ~ Michel Faber
  • Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen / A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories ~ Lucia Berlin
  • Geen gewoon Indisch meisje ~ Marion Bloem
  • Fox Evil ~ Minette Walters
  • Believing the Lie (Inspector Lynley, #17) ~ Elizabeth George
  • Housekeeping ~ Marilynne Robinson (audiobook)
  • Ik kom terug ~ Adriaan van Dis
  • Oorlog en terpentijn ~ Stefan Hertmans
  • Timothy’s Book: Notes of an English Country Tortoise ~ Verlyn Klinkenborg
  • The Rise & Fall of Great Powers ~ Tom Rachman
  • Maandagskinderen / Synir Duftsins ~ Arnaldur Indriðason
  • The Strange Library ~ Haruki Murakami
  • How to Be Both ~ Ali Smith (audiobook)

Some new or recent, some classics, some bulky — others slim, many Anglo authors, less Dutch and a few other nationalities, hardcore literature and non-fiction next to easier stuff like mysteries/thrillers. Being easy on myself I read English language books more often in Dutch translation than usual.

Have you read any of these books?


The Year of the Daves (aka Favourite Reads of 2015)

Cover Legend of a SuicideLooking back, the novel that left most of an impression is Legend of a Suicide by David Vann. It had been waiting patiently on my shelf for years — and didn’t disappoint! I don’t feel I’ve read anything like this collection before: gruesome, dreary, but touching at the same time. A rough diamant.

Cover Globejotting The most fun I had with Globejotting, a manual for travel journal keeping. It has helped me a lot and I can’t wait to start over, doing all exercises.

Depending on time and inspiration I’ll write a follow-up about some other highlights of 2015. For now: curl up on the couch and have a cosy Sunday!

It’s New Year y’all: time for clean-ups , clean-outs, decisions and resolutions! So YAY for the Winter 2016 Mini Bloggiesta!!!

Bloggiesta logo

It’s high time I had a good look at Graasland. My blog has been comatose for a long, long time now, with only a sporadic sign of life during (mainly) readathons. It’s not that I don’t like blogging, nor do I lack inspiration. It just takes up so much valuable time. I tried several ways but haven’t been able to get it under control. So I got frustrated. Also, my attention diverged more to 3.0 social media (well, really just Instagram folks ;) and I don’t surf the web nor read as many weblogs as I used to years ago. A big part of the fun is interacting with other bloggers… Oh, and did I mention my return to 1.0 art of letter writing?

Now what do I want???

The past year I’ve been selectively building my Bloglovin‘ list and this is working well for me. I don’t get as easily overwhelmed seeing new posts from different sites in one consecutive stream. Unfortunately I have a lot of trouble commenting on posts from Bloglovin’, but I enjoy following again – and miss the sharing myself! This weekend I am using to decide if and how I’ll revive Gnoe’s Graasland. Realistically.

I’m only able to technically participate on Sunday, so today I’ll do my thinking bit. And some of the tasks I’m able to manage while ‘on the road’. In my Bloggiesta to-do list these are marked with an asterisk (*).

Bloggiesta to-do list

  • ✓ Decide future of Graasland *
  • ✓ Clean up Graasland (i.e. remove irrelevant buttons from sidebar, irrelevant pages)
  • ✓ Post Bloggiesta to-do list
  • ✓ Visit other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs * [done and ongoing]
  • ✓ Write one post (next to this one)
  • Fix back-up procedure main computer!! [in process; turned out a big job]
  • ✓ ETA: fix failing Instagram widget in sidebar
  • ETA: backup after Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta wishlist

  • ✓ Update About-page
  • ✓ Post Books Read in 2015 [drafted and planned]
  • Post Films of 2015
  • Email and post about crowdfunding project donkey sanctuary!!
  • Plan 5 year anniversary ExtraVeganza! (deadline January 27th)
  • Post about snailmail hobby
  • Check for missing images *
  • BuJo mini-challenge
  • Clean up e-mail (mini-challenge) *

Added future tasks

  • ETA: clean up Notes app iPhone *
  • ETA: write bento lunch post for VeggieChallenge newsletter (deadline before April)
  • ETA: claim blog on Bloglovin’ once Bloggiesta post is no longer sticky
  • ETA: check for broken links

Wish me luck! ;)

Yup, it’s that time of year again: curling up on the couch in comfy clothes, with cats (!) a fleece blanket and a pile of books to read. Who cares it’s cold and dreary outside? I don’t – it’s rather perfect for fall 24 hour readathon!

Introduction Survey (mini-challenge #1)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

  1. Utrecht, the Netherlands (Europe, obviously)
  2. Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell ^_^ It’s actually a present I bought for a dear friend needing a care package but I can’t resist reading it -carefully- first.
  3. Well it can’t be the apple cake I didn’t bake… I guess it’ a cold soy macchiato! And I bought myself a whole load of vegan cookies *grin*
  4. I love animals more than books, especially (my own) cats, donkeys (!) and wildebeests. ‘Gnoe’ is Dutch for gnu and I got this nickname in highschool as it’s rhyme with my real name.
  5. I’m not going to be hard on myself. Just chill and have fun. Change my reading spots and don’t forget to go outside (yay audio books!)

I will mostly be updating on Instagram today!

Are you joining me today?

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon buttonAlas, Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has ended. Even though my ‘numbers’ (which I’ll add later) may not show it, things went very well this time! I rediscovered my love of reading; so much that I wish the event could continue for another day! Maybe it’s a good thing my Lynley mysteries didn’t arrive in time for the weekend — when I’ve finished my current book they’ll probably be here to help me keep my mojo. Without the help of a RaT. And anyway, the community –YOU– will be still around for motivation!

End of the Event Meme

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    None in particular: all of them due to the pull of social media and mini challenges. Of course I went to bed at three to sleep for a few hours.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    A sequel in a series you like and acknowledged page turners in a favourite genre.
  3. Illustration Mutts © Patrick McDonnellDo you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope. It’s perfect!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    The possibility to pick a medium of choice for updating; not just blogs AND the warm-up tip to use Storify to keep everything in one place! Here’s my story.
  5. How many books did you read?
    Four (not all finished yet).
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    Oorlog en terpentijn (finished)
    Timothy’s Book: Notes of an English Country Tortoise (finished, after three years on hold!)
    Housekeeping – on audio
    Ik kom terug

    Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    The book I’m currently reading: Ik kom terug. Loving it and I want to own a copy after I give it back to the friend who lend it to me.
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    Maybe Housekeeping, just because audio isn’t as intense as reading a book yourself. That I enjoyed this one least of all four does NOT mean I don’t like it!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    Be strict about the amount of time allotted to cheering… I found myself spending way too much time in cyberspace instead of in a story. Make a choice — and stick to it.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    YESH! I can’t wait! I’ll sign up as reader-cheerleader again and hope to keep a better balance. ;)

A big THANK YOU to Mr Gnoe, my Instagram and blog followers, all readers, organisers, cheerleaders, challenge-hosts (and anyone I may forget) for making this event such a success. WOOT!

Mutts strip © Patrick McDonnell

The Sunday

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon button1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

  1. I’m from Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  2. Looking forward to The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and reconnecting with The Best of Mutts.
  3. Can’t wait to devour my homegrown veggies (wrote about them in my kick-off post)!
  4. I like to snailmail: sending old-fashioned letters with small gifts enclosed in pretty envelopes. It’s relaxing and addicting at the same time.
  5. The previous time I participated (last autumn) I hardly read. But I’m mega motivated now! Also, I signed up to be a cheerleader for the first time. :))

Remember, I’m not really updating on the blog during the event. Follow my progress on Storify or Instagram!

YESH! It’s that time of year again: Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is on. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend awfully much because I desperately want to get my reading mojo back. And the prospect of it actually made me pick up a book and read, read, read already in the past week. :) Let me show you my readathon stack.

My reading stack and snack

I desperately hoped my order from Bookdepository would arrive in time because I’m dying to start a new Inspector Lynley mystery. But I just saw the parcel delivery van pass my home without stopping. :'( Not that I haven’t enough to choose from… ;)

I’m currently reading the award-winning Oorlog en terpentijn by Stefan Hertmans, which I’ll probably finish in one and a half hour. I know this because of the Readmore app I use to keep track of my reading. :) On audio I’m listening to Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

My next read will either be Adriaan van Dis’ Ik kom terug or Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, alternated by Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen (A Manual for Cleaning Women), translated by my talented friend Maaike (and co’s). The Best of Mutts comics and Timothy’s Book will provide yet another change of palate.

Mutts strip © Patrick McDonnell

The greens in the background are there for a reason: they’ll provide healthy snacks. Homegrown radishes (did you know you can eat the leaves as well?), corn lettuce and baby spinach. I’ll have to share though because Mr Gnoe is joining me in the readathon for the very first time! Yay, love having a buddy. :D

I don’t plan on reading for the full stretch. I’m not feeling too well today and I never manage twenty-four hours anyway (remember, I’ve been up for half a day already!) Luckily staying at home, taking a rest and read is just what the doctor ordered. ;) I’m just cheating a little by starting a bit early… Local starting time is 2PM and since I’ll be officially cheerleading that first hour I’m kicking-off reading at the nice round number of 1 o’clock. Shoot me if you don’t approve. ;)

Wishing all participants a blast!!!

You can follow my updates during the event on Instagram via @gnoe!

Or see it all collected in one story on Storify.

What are you reading?

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon button

Although autumn weather has been really kind to us so far, the past two days have been really cold (east wind brrrrr) and anyway: Sinterklaas dinner has to be a hearty, wintery meal no matter what the temperature. Comford food! As I mentioned on Monday we’re having company, so we decided on a three course meal which I’ll post below. But first our plan for the rest of the week. I hope you’ll find some inspiration in our meal planning?!

Menu plan 4 – 9 December

  • Thursday: spaghetti with tomato-veggie sauce.
  • Friday (Sinterklaas): see below.
  • Saturday: purple kale-potato mash with homemade seitan sausages from Isa Does It (p.237).
  • Sunday: Indonesian style meal with nasi goreng, sambal goreng kool (cabbage) and a tempeh dish that has to be decided. Also plan on making atjar tjampoer with the rest of the cabbage plus carrots.
  • Monday: vegetable stirfry with tofu
  • Tuesday: [leftovers]

Sinterklaas Menu

  • Starters: ‘Pumpkin Duo’ = pumpkin-sunchoke soup and a pumpkin-potato pierogi with garlic-herb sauce on a bed of two kinds of mustard leaves.
  • Entrée: beer-braised seitan with carrots and sunchokes (Vegan Eats World), oven-baked french fries and large-leaf chicory salad with apple, clementine and walnuts.
  • Dessert: kukicha tea poached pears with candied ginger (Vegan Eats World).
  • After dinner: tea with liqueur bonbon and Inca berries to compensate ;)

Leftover in our fridge are carrots and 4 or five sunchokes. Plenty of options with those!

Turkish meal by Mr Gnoe

Last time we did some menu planning was halfway June, when Mr Gnoe started a new job. We were full of resolutions, but didn’t manage to keep it up. Trying again – just a few weeks before the end of CSA season O_O

Menu plan 29 November – 2 December

  • Saturday: Pumpkin mash with endive and oven baked lemon tofu
  • Sunday: Turkish Feast by Mr Gnoe: millet with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, eggplant casserole, fasulye (beans) and spicedcabbage salad (pictured above)
  • Monday: Isa Chandra’s Braised Cabbage with Seitan (p.97 Appetite for Reduction), potato mash and mushroom gravy (either this recipe or this one)
  • Tuesday: Lisette Kreischer’s easy pumpkin-sunchoke soup (substituting large‐leaved chicory for pak choy and adding a little leftover coconut milk) with bread and salad

I love that I no longer have to think about what to eat the next few days! And looking forward to the meals to come :D Will be planning more after our next CSA arrives on Wednesday. Luckily I’ll have a sneakpeek of the contents on Monday as I have to write the accompanying leaflet this week. Need to think about Friday’s Sinterklaas dinner! We’re not really celebrating but there’s a guest coming and I want to make something special.

Button 24 Hour Read-a-ThonWhile the weather is turning rather nasty as if to mourn, the fall edition of Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has ended. And I’m SO glad I participated! It remembered me of ‘old times’… making me all warm and glowy inside. ;)

What I read

Cover The Bone ClocksAs planned I immersed myself in The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and got some 20% down. Love it! I’m glad it’s a tome and I still have the majority to go. :) I’m sorry I can’t give you a short summary of this magical realist novel yet – I’ll have to see where it’s going first! The birthday party that broke up this RaT was of family I hadn’t seen in a long time. Of course I was very eager to see and speak to everyone, but it didn’t take long or I longed to be back in ‘Mitchell-verse‘.

During some housework I also listened to a short story on audio by Esther Verhoef, called Nouveau Riche. I hadn’t read anything from her yet and I now don’t think I will again. The account of expats in France reluctantly receiving friends from the past was largely predictable and not at all exciting. It was… just okay I guess.

The numbers

To help me keep track of time I used the Timelytics Time Log app on my phone. Handy!

  • Total of time read: 6:55
  • Of which the audiobook took: 0.55

This surprised me as it feels like I read for more than a scant seven hours. I could have gotten in another one at the end but I was hungry and got distracted by making lunch. Before I knew the readathon was over! :( But I’m not going to let that spoil my mood: it was fun and I haven’t read this much in twenty-four hours for a long time!

Lentil salad for lunch

Already planning next time!

In my start-up post I didn’t know yet where I’d pop up in cyberspace. It happened to be on twitter (where I hadn’t been for a long time either; it’s becoming a theme! ;) Twitter is quick and dirty easy, which makes it perfect if you want to feel connected but spend not too much time at your computer or mobile device. And socializing, I realized, is something I really love about Dewey’s readathon and missed some of the previous times I participated. A big thank you to Cautious‘ Katja B. (@eeyorenyk) whom made me aware of it (ánd was a faithful cheerleader).

Jotting down my plans for next time here so that I’ll know where to find them in six months time.

  • I’ll try to completely clear my schedule so I can devote the full 24 hours to the readathon.
  • I’ll reserve some time for socializing — and to keep me to it I may even sign up as a cheerleader!
  • I’ll return to pre-readathon planning:
  1. think about food & snacks; prepare some meals in advance (including a lentil-, pasta – or couscous salad and possibly lasagne or casserole),
  2. line up some audio books for when I can’t read a physical copy and make an actual schedule for when to use these,
  3. revive my ‘readathon update post’ template,
  4. get some drafts set up.

Edited to add after listening to other participants’ experiences:

  • read successive books from a (familiar) series – for example the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (I’m up to #3 Blameless);
  • go read in a library for a while.

Last but never least

I really enjoyed seeing familiar faces names in my time-line – old times relived! My IRL readathon buddies were Mr Gnoe and da kittehs Nina and Kuki, one on each lap (from me and hubs that is). A fun fact is that Mr Gnoe and I are both reading the same book; he’s got the paper -limited edition- copy and I have my Kobo e-book. Can you imagine anything more cosy? :D

Kuki on our limited edition of The Bone Clocks

I’d like to thank all cheerleaders, hosts and participants whom made this readathon a success. And I salute the memory of Dewey, without whom we never would’ve had this marvellous event. I wonder if it’s a (perfect) coincidence that there was a cameo of Professor Dewey in The Bone Clocks today???

Quote from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

Gnoe herding…

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My current fav spot to graze

#latergram of a Japanese package design exhibition I visited in August. 
#eyecandy #sieboldhuis #packagedesign #leiden I wonder where these cuties-beauties ended up... Poultry? 😳
#peacock #bird #griftpark #latergram Postcard swap with @ehagaki_hana and thank you for...
#outgnoe #japan #netherlands 20161024