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In januari deed ik voor het eerst mee met een heuse mending circlein real life, niet virueel/online. Nieuwe mensen ontmoeten is al spannend genoeg dus ik wilde het mezelf niet te ingewikkeld maken zo’n eerste keer (je moet ook een beetje sociaal zijn en niet alleen maar geconcentreerd met je werk bezig zijn toch?), dus nam ik gewoon een stapel sokken mee om te stoppen. Het was een gezellige avond met leuke mensen en het leek net alsof we elkaar al langer kennen. Bovendien kwamen eindelijk mijn versleten slofsokken aan de beurt die zeker al een jaar in een hoek liggen. Ja, één paar sokken en daar ben ik nog niet mee klaar. Heerlijk om zo samen bezig te zijn!

Ik paste op de dieren van een vriendin die weg was voor werk. Haar huis ligt niet heel centraal, en bovendien waren het drie dagen van constante regen, dus ik heb me lekker binnen op de bank vermaakt (!) met verstel-/herstelwerk. Zo fatsoeneerde ik een oude theedoek met gestileerde tulpjes van afgedankt beddengoed. En maakte ik de fukin af waaraan ik begin van de maand was begonnen; een versleten vaatdoek weer bruikbaar dankzij een een nieuwe laag van oud textiel (handdoeken, werkpoloshirt, kussensloop, restjes haakkatoen). Dat was een mooie aanleiding om eindelijk aan de slag te gaan met de 24 Days of Sashiko van @sashiko.lab. De e-mails met iedere dag een ander patroon om te leren, moest ik in oktober parkeren omdat ik er toen geen gelegenheid voor had. Op mijn vaatdoek ben ik niet verder gekomen dan dag 4 (de “cross-flower-stitch“), maar ik heb bedacht dat ik met de volgende doorga op een spijkerbroek.

Call for help with elaborate pattern by Tree of Needlework

Als laatste reageerde ik deze maand ook nog op een oproep van Majo van Tree of Needlework, om te helpen met het uitvoeren van haar Challenge Oude Borduurpatronen van komende maand. Het zou een spoiler zijn om daar nu al wat van te laten zien dus kom hier later in februari maar terug om te zien welke bloemetjes mij inspireerden.


Spring birthday gift with origami flowers

In april I wrote about getting reacquainted with origami. Remember I made some flowers to decorate a present?

Some of you asked how I did it and I decided to make a video… Let me tell you: that’s easier said than done! ;) But I’m going to present my 7-minute amateur film anyway, since this month’s mission for Hello Japan! is to create some origami. And who wouldn’t want to be eligible for that awesome prize consisting of kawaii origami paper and droll geisha bookmarks?

If you’re familiar with the art of paper folding, you may want to know that we’re starting of with a bird base (of which the well-known origami crane is created), folding it into a ‘small kite’.

And if you’re an origami newbie and I’m working too quick for you — or the video is too vague, knowing this will enable you to search for additonal instructibles on the web. ;) But try and watch this first!

I have also scanned the instructions I originally used myself. They’re in Dutch so I will redirect you to some English sources and roughly translate the part I couldn’t find online.

It’s best to choose some flamed origami paper for this flower.

  1. Start with a square base with the coloured side of your paper down.
  2. Continue to make a bird base.
  3. Follow the instructions accompanying the picture below.
Instructions for Origami flower
  • Hold your bird base in front of you with the open point downwards.
  • Fold the ‘wings’ down to make a small ‘kite’ shape.
  • Now unfold the whole figure!
  • Using the same creases, fold the coloured part inwards and flatten the paper. You’ll get a 33° pyramide shape; I guess you’ll really have to watch my video for this to understand.
  • Slightly open all four sides and curl the leaves outwards with a chopstick or pencil.
  • You’re done!

Have fun!

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task relating to some aspect of life in Japan.

Noooo, I’m not going to a bingo night ;) It’s just that I’m rather preoccupied with our sweet tomcat Ringo – and one of his many nicknames is Bingo! :)

Coffee-time tier: mini croissants (inspired by Bentobird) with strawberry jelly. There’s also a small cup of ‘faux sour cream’ in this box for the Mexican beans in another tier.

Fruit tier: pink grapefruit, opal prunes and white berries.

Background tier: rice, chili pepper ‘flower’, frijoles with corn and slices of gerkin, lettuce.

Right hand tier: dal (Indian red lentils with caramelized onions), mushroom masala, cucumber underneath cup of salsa picante and roasted eggplan caviar to eat with the crackers on the side.

Office Lunch for Tuesday August 2nd, 2011.

Ringo, the loveliest guy

In loving memory: Ringo (02-08-2011)

Edited to add on Tuesday…

Of course I was not preoccupied with Ringo without reason. Today our adorable shy-guy died; he joined Yoshitoshi to roam the Eternal Graasland. Ringo only got to stay with us for four years but it seems like a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute of it. We were really lucky to find him — ask Juno if you don’t believe us! ;)

To the contrary of what you may think, we did not name Ringo (directly) after that Beatle person with the same name. It’s just a family rule that cats should have a two-syllable name ending at -o and both Mr Gnoe and I love the happy song “Ringo, I love you” by Stereo Total. Bye bye, cute little guy!

Yoshitoshi in action
On Thursday July 21st our dwarf hamster Yoshitoshi went to roam the ‘Eternal Graasland’.

Tale of Genji to Denver, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi She was named after the Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, who is considered to be the last great master of Ukiyo-e (woodblock printing).

Yoshi herself appeared to be a great Master of Disguise when in the last days of her life it turned out that she was no tinygrrl at all.. but a toshboy! Full of tricks our little hamster ;)

It was an appropriate coincidence that we had a simple Japanese meal planned for dinner that night — leaving enough leftovers for Friday’s bento.

My office lunch contained brown rice udon noodles, green beans with sesame dressing, orange-teriyaki tofu & extra sauce, pickled ginger (gari), cabbage tsukemono sprinkled with fresh chilli pepper from our balcony, grilled veggies with tonkatsu sauce (same as bento #145), nori rice crackers, umeboshi, opal prunes and melon. Details of wasabi & black ‘smoked’ sesame seeds, radish flowers, parsley, curly red-leaf lettuce.

We Love You Yoshitoshi! Bento (22-07-2011)

We have a 21.5-inch iMac and I can tell you: it’s fabulous to have Yoshi’s picture as a background image! He will not be forgotten ;)

Chinese woodblock print of orchids (postcard)

Hanakotoba is the language of flowers: emotions or messages are communicated through the symbolism of flowers. Since it turned summer on June 21st, I figured I’d tell you about the meaning of orchids.

Mahjong Guardian Stone Summer OrchidAs a mah jongg-player I thought it was THE flower of the season, orchid being the Summer Guardian Stone. But having looked into Japanese flower symbolism, I seem to be wrong! Yeah well, mah jongg is originally Chinese, so.. :) Never mind. As the game is being played in Japan as well, this post is still relevant as my submission for June’s Hello Japan! mini challenge about Flowers & Japanese Gardens. ;)

Mahjongg Card Summer OrchidStarting of with a haiku by Yosa Buson (1716 ~ 1783), translated by R.H. Blythe.

An evening orchid,
Hidden in its scent,
The flower’s whiteness
yoru no ran
ka ni kakurete ya
hana shiroshi

The orchid represents refinement. It is no common plant and it’s pleasures are reserved for the privileged few, so it is also a symbol of the rare and precious. The essence of refinement is an continual process of improvement until absolute perfection is reached.

In the art of fortune telling with mah jongg cards or stones, the Orchid Guardian protects young girls. If it appears in response to a question about a daughter or a younger female relative, it serves to allay any anxieties regarding their welfare.

I have a white orchid at home. It was a birthday gift from my aunt several years ago. White seems appropriate for a flower like this, since it indicates purity and cleanliness in traditional Japanese society, and is seen as a blessed colour because of its sacred nature: it’s the colour of the gods and therefore free of all ‘contamination’. But what is maybe best — if you’re into Zodiac signs that is (which I’m really not) — the white orchid belongs to my sign of Pisces.

White orchids

I’ll leave you with the Japanese version of a beautiful song about flowers by Einstürtzende Neubauten: Blume, sung by Etsuko Sakamaki-Haas. I invite you to listen to the English translation afterwards.

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. June’s mission is ‘Flowers and Japanese Gardens’.

That I don’t have a garden doesn’t mean I have to do without fresh herbs, fruit and veggies. Here’s a view of my balcony. ;)

Our Herb Garden

On the drainpipe are hanging baskets with oregano, sage, strawberries, thyme and rosemary. On the little tiled table you see lavender (not sure it’s an edible variety though, when it gets awfully quiet here you’ll know it wasn’t ;) and in the back are a 3-coloured raspberry plant and blackberries.

And that’s not even the end of it. Outside of the picture are cherry tomato plants, red hot & sweet chili peppers and a yellow bell pepper. The fruits are an experiment but we have successfully grown vegetables on our balcony before.

We also have some additional herb plants within reach in the kitchen: parsley, basil and cilantro. But these usually don’t survive for very long.

Let's Get Naked with Jamie Oliver Cooking ClubThanks to Carol of There’s Always Thyme to Cook who pointed me in the direction of Jamie Oliver’s Let’s Get Naked Cooking Club in her contribution to Weekend Cooking.

Now I can’t join the club today because I didn’t cook up a recipe of Jamie’s, but it inspired me to post about our own little herb garden anyway.

It seems appropriate to conclude by recommending a recipe by Andy McDonald, the ‘vegetarian Jamie’, that’s an all-time favourite at our place: Beetroot risotto with herb oil (in Dutch). We usually substitute some of the stock for wine and since turning vegan I just leave out the Parmesan cheese or throw in a little soy cream and nutritional yeast.

Red beet risotto with green herbs

I’m curious what Jamie’ll be cooking up tomorrow!
I hope it’s something vegan :)

– – – – –

Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!

Beth Fish Weekend Cooking logo

Edited to add that this bento is featured at JustBento in the Great Bento Idea series! ~

Today’s bento is overflowing with bright colours. Anything to keep the dark November days back! And a little hint of the Middle-East.

Bright Bento #115, 04-11-2010

Upper tier

  • couscous salad with tomatoes, red onion and smoked paprika, with extra gherkins and tomato
  • a friendly niqab babybel lady peeping out from behind ;)
  • cilantro
  • lettuce

Lower tier

  • falafel ball
  • cauliflower floret
  • red beet hummus
  • baby figs
  • SkyFlakes cream crackers
  • a dip of ketchup & home-made sambal bawang for the falafel
  • mung bean sprouts

On the side I brought an apple doused in lemon juice.

The falafel, shallot sambal, hummus and couscous are all leftovers from this week’s menu.

Home-made sambal bawang of home-grown red peppers and CSA shallots

Home-grown: chilli peppers (sambal), bean sprouts
Local & organic: lettuce, tomato, red onion, beetroot, onion (hummus), shallots (sambal)
Organic: chickpeas (hummus), cilantro, couscous, falafel, tomato ketchup, lemon juice (hummus), garlic (hummus & sambal)

Submitting this post to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Mondays {no.5} & Shannon’s What’s for Lunch Wednesday (week 23).

Meatless Monday button Bento Lunch

Homegrown chillies

These gorgeous chillies did not come from our CSA distributor Amelishof, but I harvested them myself — on our balcony! You might remember I swapped a head of endive for a couple of red hot pepper saplings in May. That was a good deal! I throw these buggers in almost any dish, but they keep on coming. I’m thinking of making sambal… :)

And here’s the picture of this week’s CSA loot.

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 40, 2010

  • red bell pepper
  • hokkaido pumpkin
  • chicory (curly leaf endive or frisée)
  • red leaf lettuce
  • carrots
  • shallots (yay!)

Menu plan with these (& last week’s) vegetables

  • Courgette omelet with fresh basil, pasta salade with pesto and tomatoes
    [Wednesday] New recipe from ‘Vega Gerechten’ cookbook.
  • Roasted beet salad, cabbage dish with leek & mustard seeds, potato mash
    Have made these recipes from ‘Vega Gerechten’ cookbook before.
  • Chinese take-away [Saturday: read-a-thon]
  • Indian night: Gujarati carrot salad with fresh mint, lime and mustard seeds, basmati rice, Diu corn curry
    Trying out new recipes from World Food Café Global Vegetarian Cooking.
  • Endive-potato mash with blue cheese & cashews
    Easy all-time favourite.
  • Basil spaghetti with sauce of soy cream, mushrooms, leek, sun-dried tomatoes, bell pepper & pinenuts, accompanied by tomato-rocket salad.
    Will just make it up while cooking.
  • And… (drum roll) carrot cake!!! I had it for a treat during the read-a-thon and it was Very Good. The recipe came from a magazine cut-out I had been wanting to try — hope to post it soon!

Carrot cake

I have nothing planned yet for my pie pumpkin. That’s because I want to make something special out of it for the Kookgrrls’ October theme! During the read-a-thon someone mentioned pumpkin pancakes… Yum! And tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn was eating pumpkin bagels for breakfast.

I did have a really nice Halloween cookies recipe but strangely enough it has disappeared from earth (& cyberspace). Sigh. Maybe one of the other grrls will put up a pumpkin recipe that I can try! :)

Or do you have a nice suggestion for a veggie pumpkin recipe?

Meatless Monday button

Yesterday I worked for six and a half hours on Graasland throughout the day. I didn’t do as much as I had hoped, but I feel accomplished anyway. And I did’t overdo it ;)

I made an outline for this month’s Hello Japan! mini-challenge, which I’m turning into a series of no less than five posts about Japanese music! The first one being a belated New Year’s post that got blogged yesterday.

I also started on my back(b)log of book reviews with my favourite read of 2009: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I hope to finish it today! I dread book reviews the most because they take so much time to write :( Actually, I hope to find a more efficient way to blog about books! That’s my main goal for 2010 and I hope this Bloggiesta will get me off on a good start with that. Do you have any suggestions? Are there any blogging buddies available out there?

Some more ‘small’ stuff I got done yesterday: thanks to Farm Lane Books I made a backup of my weblog, and Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? encouraged me to make a blavatar (the little cat in the tab) — my gravatar (in the address bar) was already up so that’s neat!

I cleaned up some old (imported) posts, diminishing the ‘uncategorized’ section of Graasland. Now there are just 15 more of them left — will get to that, though maybe not this weekend. And I updated my current reads. I still have to unclutter the sidebar of last year’s challenges though… :\

Although it will be snowing a lot today we need to run some errants, like returning our Rob Scholte silkscreen to the art exchange because it has expired. We’re sad to see Golden Horizon #8 go! Would love to buy it but unfortunately that’s not possible.

But I’ll get back to this fiesta a.s.a.p.! Because I’m having fun ;)

ReadathonpileThis is my final readathon pile! The third book from above (Model Gliding by Marcel Möring in Dutch: Modelvliegen) I will actually not read on paper: I have the audiobook waiting on my iPod. With thanks to Elsje las!

Listening to the advise of oldtimers I’ve decided to start with a short book to get a feeling of accomplishment: The Pianoman (also in Dutch: De Pianoman), by Bernlef. It’s the boekenweekgeschenk from 2008: ‘book week present’. Each year in March there’s a week devoted to books and reading. If you spend 20 euro’s on Dutch literature, you’ll get that year’s gift written by a famous author. This started as early as 1930! In the beginning the public had to guess who the author was by reading the novella.

Oh my, I suddenly discover I forgot to put one book in the photograph… The China Lover! Well, I might even never get to it anyway ;)

I wonder what this readathon will do to my daily post statistics… LOL The hard part of coming 24 hours will be not to spend too much time behind my computer blogging and following other readathonners! Beneath you can see my starting position. Good luck to all! :)


Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

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Gnoe herding...