Monday, December 31, 2007

Old year's day

Old year's day: baking day!
Today my husband started baking old year roll's and later our daughter took over. So here she is very busy rolling the old year rolls. Cookies served as a roll because the old year is now rolled up and lying closed in front of us. If you don't roll the cookies and leave them flat they symbolize the new year lying ahead of us, a year to discover and do new things. We add a little bit of cognac and anise seeds to make them taste even better. Yammie, yammie.While baking the old year's rolls the dough for the oil balls was rising and is now ready to bake the oil balls. Another Dutch tradition on old year's day!
Here you see the sun in our garden.And here you see the kids busy with fireworks. In Holland we are allowed to light fireworks from 10.00 a.m. on old year's day till 02.00 a.m. on new year's day. Our youngest son is really crazy about fireworks and has been looking forward to this day for nearly a month now, driving all of us nuts!! In the meantime the oil balls are slowly turning nice and brown in the oil.And here is the first load ready to be devoured! Yak, I like one or two when they are still warm but it is not my favourite dish! Too oily for me. But still a Dutch tradition I try to keep. Have a nice evening, enjoy the fireworks and see you back in 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Visit to Soestdijk palace

After the last residents of Soestdijk palace passed away in 2004 the palace was opened to public. Since then a lot of Dutch people have visited this palace. Especially those who remember the years before 1980 when the complete royal family would stand on the front steps of the palace on Queen's day (30th April) waving to all people parading by with all kinds of festive things. By the end of the parade the lower steps would be covered with flowers and the royal family would be standing on the top steps.

I don't remember all these things that well because I lived abroad in those years and after I returned to Holland all I remember is seeing the palace from the street, as seen on the following picture.When looking backwards from the point I took the above picture the following picture is taken showing, in the distance, the "needle" (placed in 1815) remembering the battle of Waterloo.

A few months ago we booked tickets to visit the palace. So yesterday that's where we went. When leaving home it was raining heavily but lucky for us the weather changed on our way there and when we arrived near the palace the sun was shining bright in a clear blue sky.

When entering the palace grounds we passed by the water tower in which the palace giftshop is located.Prince Bernhard (the last inhabitant of the palace) was really fond of elephants and here is a pair we saw standing in the garden.Before entering the palace for the inside tour we walked around the lake and came across this royal bench. We didn't feel the need to sit on it as it was very wet and it doesn't look like a warm and comfortabel bench.

From the royal bench the view over the lake on the white palace is just great.

After walking through the gardens we joined a guided tour of the inside of the palace. We were not allowed to take pictures of the inside but just in case you might be interested click here to visit the homepage of Soestdijk palace for more information.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007: we started off with a christmas breakfast and later in the day my parents came over to spend some time with us.

In the evening we had a lovely christmas dinner at home, with traditional christmas crackers. Not traditional for Dutch people but traditional for the time I (and my parents) used to live in Gozo. Every year again the kids have fun pulling the christmas crackers open and reading the little messages inside.
When it turned dark our youngest enjoyed making a fire in our firefriend outside. Good thing it wasn't freezing cold anymore.
Even though Christmas was not white we had a nice time.

On Christmas eve we spend a long time at table enjoying a gourmet meal. Afterwards we opened the little gifts under the christmas tree.

Today, boxing day was spend around the house, reading, computering, watching TV. In the evening we visited my mother-in-law who was looking quiet well under the circumstances.

Hope whoever reads this has had a relaxed and nice christmas 2007.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Northern Lights

Last week I also did another exam and I think I didn't do too bad. By the end of January I will know the result. It was a relief that the exam was finally done for it is awful to have to study in December when there are so many other fun things to do. But I managed once again. After some bloghopping I realized that I wasn't the only one studying for Kathy did her Final exam yesterday and Andre is still preparing for his exams. Kathy I hope you did well yesterday and Andre good luck with your studies!

Now that my exam and christmas shopping have been done I finally have time again to relax a little and read a good book. The book I am reading is Northern Lights by Nora Roberts. This novel is set in Alaska, in a town called Lunacy which has a population count of 506. According to Northern Lights is not just a romance. Elements of mystery and drama are present throughout. There is a daring mountain rescue, a murder, and the whole psychological process of the main character dealing with his partner’s death.

A book that suits me well right now. The icy cold of Alaska in the book I feel a little when I go outside. However Alaska is so much colder and days are even shorter than we have them here. Over there twilight comes early, around mid afternoon. How awful! Definitely not my place to live. But so far it's a good read and I am anxious to continue reading. So off I am. Bye for now.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday dear Cousin

Just now I changed the date of my post The beauty of the day. Even though the pictures were taken on Friday they might as well have been taken on Thursday as we had several beautiful icy days. Besides that the sadness about my mother-in-law has been with us for some time now and will remain with us for a much longer time.

Today the shortest day is also my cousin's birthday. Both things are worth a celebration. So here is a Happy Birthday dear cousin! Will celebrate in real with you on the 19th. See you then.

The shortest day is also worth a celebration for that means that days will slowly start getting longer again and I am always really glad about that. In fact, after Christmas holidays, it always feels and looks as if the darkness doesn't fall that early. Despite the coziness of days this time of year I prefer the light and the sun of longer days! So much better!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The beauty of the day

Today I tried to capture the beauty of the day
And in the afternoon the sun send out a shiny ray
Making everything look simply wonderful
Even though white is not so colourful

The beauty of nature brings little relief
As we are not happy for we silently grief
Our mother cq mother-in-law cq grandma
Is slowly passing away making us all very sad.

Looking at the beauty of nature around me
I wondered about life and let it be
For that's a question without end
And the answer is not an easy bend.

We'll try to keep our spirits up
To bring her as much comfort and support
Knowing that life is slowly passing away
Is making this a very sad day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

A little history!

On reading Andre's blogpost Driving you mad I couldn't resist myself as memories came up and I just have to write a litte history.

Andre, don't get frustrated by what I am going to write now but do let me tell you how I got my driving licence in Gozo many, many years ago in 1982. First of all my mum was my driving instructor and all we had to do for that was pay LM1 to get a Lesson sign for my mum's Mini Cooper. Every time she let me drive we put the sign on her car to show that the driver (me) was learning how to drive.

What I remember of the day I got my driving licence is that a policeman sat next to me while I had to drive down the road from Victoria to Marsalforn. Half way he made me turn back to Victoria. On turning I even let the motor switch off. But when I returned at the start he signed the back of the Malta Highway Code and I had my licence. Besides me also three motorcyclists got their driving licence in the same ride.

Total costs for my driving licence: ca. LM 5. Well you can guess my parents wouldn't let me drive in Holland. So when I got back to Holland they made me take lessons again!! And trust me prices for driving lessons were already skyhigh here in those days.

Wishing you all the best in getting your driving licence. The world opens for you once you have that license!! At least I wouldn't want to do without it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What The Holidays mean to me

What The Holidays Mean to You

For you, the holidays are about celebration. You enjoy all the fun and fellowship that the holidays bring.

You celebrate the holidays in an over the top style. If something is cute, you'll buy it. People end up with a lot of gifts from you - and your house is like a holiday wonderland, full of decorations.

During the holidays, you feel happily busy. There's so much do to and not a lot of time to do it. But you enjoy every minute of your holiday chores.

You think the holidays should be nostalgic and sweet. The holidays bring out your inner child.

Your best holiday memories are of childhood foods and traditions. You secretly still wish you believed in Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Time in December!

Yuckiducky, it's raining terrible outside so what better place to be than inside with the heater on making it cozy and warm.

What this post is all about is time for that's what's always lacking and mostly so in December. Like I wrote before December has so many things that must be done. Yuck I hate the word must!!

Today I was in the supermarket doing some shopping and I just mentioned hating having to do the shopping every time again. The girl behind the desk looked up in surprise and asked me: "Don't tell my you don't like shopping?". I said no. What fun is there in having to buy mostly the same things every week: milk, fruit, vegetables, etc. etc. etc. Besides not seing the fun of it, it always costs time, time, time and that's what I need a little more of.

Time to do shopping
Time to sleep
Time to hang the washing
Time to fold the washing
Time to work
Time to dust
Time to sweep
Time to iron
Time to clean the house
Time to cook
Time to do the dishes
etc. etc. etc.

All things that must be done and not only once a week but mostly in a daily routine. Yuck and December is making that even worse, for you must decorate your house, you must send christmas cards, you must enjoy everything, you must........................

OK enough, you got the point. Too much to do and too little time!! And still I do enjoy all those little blessings and the fun of this crazy month! Hope you do too and don't let December get at you. I won't!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A little bit of everything

Sorry for not posting for so long. It is such a busy period this time of year. Much too busy to enjoy December. Besides all the normal hectic of this month my mother in law is very ill and it doesn't look too good. Every little improvement is a big delight for all of us and keeps us hoping she will return home one day. But as the days pass by and the recovery is going in waves: one day good, the other day bad, there is not much improvement on the whole. At the moment she is back in hospital and we visit her as much as possible. Here you see a picture of her several years ago when she celebrated St. Nicolaas with us. You wouldn't recognize her if you saw her right now.

Yesterday it was the feast of St. Nicolaas and we celebrated a little here at home. We had no large bags full of St. Nicolaas gifts but we decided to give the kids some money so they can buy whatever they like. Last evening when we drank coffee we served all kinds of traditional sweets and had a nice and cozy evening. A few weeks ago our daughter did surprise us with a St. Nicolaas present under our pillow. During the St. Nicolaas period we also put some traditional sweets in their mugs and under their pillows.

Today I managed to write all the christmas cards and tomorrow I will post them. Then there is a little over one week to go before our twins will be 16 years old!!! Sweet 16, where did the time go! I still remember taking this picture when they were only a few months old.

The day after their birthday it is exam time for me once again and I am busy preparing for that exam.

In between all things I try to enjoy this festive month as much as I can but it always seems to me that December has become a month with too many things that must be done!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eating at Amadeus

Last night we were going to visit some friends and so we asked if our youngest could stay with my brother and his family. The other two are nearly 16 and can stay at home alone if they wish. But they also decided to go along and stay at my brother's house. It is really great having family living so close by!! Thanks brother and sister-in-law for taking them all in for the night. This was really luxurious for us so as soon as they were gone we decided to take this opportunity and go and eat out: just the two of us!!! Nice and relaxed. There is this new steakhouse, close to where we live, and from the outside it really lookse nice. So that's where we went. We were lucky we came early and so they still had a free table for two. Later on in the evening that wouldn't have been possible any more.

Before I knew it I lost my hubby behind the menu. It didn't take long for we decided to stay in Amadeus style and we both ordered a steak Amadeus and later a dessert Amadeus. The food tasted really good and we had a lovely meal. Nice and quiet, just the two of us.

When we left the place I looked back and took this picture. It shows how cosy the place is. There is stuff hanging everywhere. Candles and soft light give the restaurant a charming look. Don't know if this is typical American but that was the impression we got.

Before leaving we had to use the little room. The man's room had this funny toilet and while doing their thing they can read the latest news for that is hanging on the wall above the toilet.

Glad that it's not me having to clean that toilet, for I think reading the news and doing their thing is not going to make them aim in the right direction! I underestimating the opposite sex???

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Educational day

Perhaps I told you before that I work in the primary education. Not as a teacher but as an administrative assistant to a general manager of 10 primary schools. Mostly I am concerned with the financial part of all these schools.

Today we had a day for all people working for these 10 schools as all our schools will have a whole new computer network as from January 1st.

Each employee, for 99% teachers in primary education, visited three different workshops to discover the possibilities of the new computer concept in the educational programme we offer.

Even though I am not a teacher there was enough to learn. I visited three workshops: how to make a picture book using powerpoint, how to use the computer with history lessons and how to use the interactive whiteboard. This last workshop was my favourite. In fact it makes me wish I followed my job ambition when I was a little girl. I always wanted to become a teacher. What possibilities there are now using the internet. So great and useful!!

We all had lunch together and the catering did a great job.
The day ended with a cabaretshow about education. It was hilarious and a good end to an educational day.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My blog's reading level

cash advance Wow this is amazing!! I found this little tool on Sabine's blog and I tried it out. The result really surprised me. A postgrad college level for the ramblings I am putting here in this blog. Funny too because right now I am still trying to achieve my bachelor's degree and might never do a postgraduate study. Equally amazing as I always have the feeling that my English could be so much better. Well I guess I should take this reading level for what it is: just a coincidence. Thanks anyway to whoever invented it. It gave me a good feeling. Back to my studies now for otherwise I will never reach that bachelor degree. Pfffffff exams are coming close and the subject is harder than I thought it would be. Especially the probability theory (the branch of mathematics concerned with analysis of random phenomena) is giving me a real hard time trying to understand it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ciao, ciao!

Early this morning the exchange week was over for the Italian students. They left by train from Emmerich station at 7.15 a.m. . Good thing the strike in Germany ended at 2.00 a.m. this morning for otherwise we would have had to take them to Cologne Airport and that's 1,5 hour by car from where we live. Here are some pictures to show some of the things they did this past week

After our Sunday in Utrecht it was party time in the evening!On Monday the Dutch students showed their Italian guests their school and in the evening they went swimming. On Tuesday they went to Amsterdam and meet this funny figure on the Dam. They also visited Madame Tussaud and the Rijksmuseum. In the evening they ate Mexican food.

On Wednesday they had to work on their projects at school. And in the evening they did a creative workshop. On Thursday morning they started the day doing sport at the sportschool. Afterwards they were busy preparing the presentation evening. We all went to school in the evening to see the presentations. The language quiz, a fashion show and we tasted Italian food. Besides that we watched a video of Siena and surroundings for that is the place these students come from. After the presentation all the students went to the disco and had a great time.

On Friday they slept long and after they took the train to Winterswijk to do streetgolf and do some shopping. In the evening they all ate Chinese food at school and watched a movie.

After the movie they came home and we said goodbye to Laura, the girl that stayed with us.

It was a wonderful week and we greatly enjoyed it. It was nice to have Laura as a guest in our house. But time flies especially because it was such a busy week, most of all for the students. Good thing they will all meet again in April when the Dutch students shall be visiting Siena and staying with the Italian students that came here.