Keukenhof in Pink!

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Gorgeous Pink Impression tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, April 2017

I know what you’re thinking…

I know, I know, forgive me for spamming you with my posts about our recent trip to the Netherlands but I can’t help it, Keukenhof is just too gorgeous!  One photo  wouldn’t do any justice and a single post is an understatement of my amazing experience there. The flower arrangement , the garden shows and the different exhibits showcases the epitome of beauty of the flower-mania  in Holland. For flora and fauna enthusiasts, it’s definitely a must-see during Springtime in Europe!

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My daughter adores some fine pink Tulipa ‘Menton’

 

After seeing all these beautiful spring flowers in the most beautiful spring garden in the world, my standard for nature has been elevated. My impression about Tulips in general has become so great that I have  now high regard for this wonderful piece of nature. I didn’t know that flowers could have such an effect to humans in general, and not only to gardeners, landscape designers, and flower enthusiasts.I have great respect for the artistic mind and tremendous hard work and  labor of the people who make Keukenhof a place to show this grand beauty.

To give credit to this amazing place, this time I’d like to share with you some photos from Keukenhof gardens once again, in pretty  Pink floral colors and it’s symbolism  to tell about your love to someone. Pink Tulips symbolizes the ” Awakening of Love “!

I have seen thousands of tulips coming in different shades of pink, from dark ones, almost purple, and with some bright tints of whites and red. Pink Tulips are a symbol of caring, attachment (not as strong as love, like the red ones) and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member.

Here are some snaps of my personal favorites so far!

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Pink Double Blooms
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Tulipa Negrita

Close up with ‘The Negrita” -Though it’s not as darkly colored as its name suggests (“nigra” means black in Latin), the purplish-pinkish color looks great in the garden with almost everything.

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Bi-colored peach-pink standard Tulipas!

Pink tulips  express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. It’s an ideal gift to have them sent to someone’s office as a warm first-day-on-the-job surprise. I was obsessing photographing them in layers because I just love how they are aligned with each other and how they create a striking sight!

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The pink impressions in Keukenhof gardens
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Pink-reddish lilies!
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Pink roses in the Flower show in Oranje Nassau Pavillion
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Up close with some pretty Pink Pearl Hyacinths
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Pink Double  Blooms, eager to blossom
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Parade of pink beauties!
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Beyond words…

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I must say that If you really have the chance to visit Holland in Spring, make time to get into Lisse, in the Netherlands to visit this garden. A day filled with colorful flowers can brighten anyone’s burden and who knows, It might change the way you see life.

Do you like Tulips? What is your favorite color so far?

If you’re interested to know more of different types of tulips, you can read it from here.

 

 

 

Holland, as I see it!

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Holland, our second home , as I see it!

Even from my countless visits, I am still charmed by Holland. It has its endless enigma that is so unique, so complicated and yet so unforgettable. This country behind its countless dikes, polders, and gazillions of bikes, is enormous. There’s a lot to enjoy and really worthwhile to explore, especially for families and for all ages.

For the first time,we spent our Easter holiday with my parent’s in-laws and my husband’s relatives and as usual, it was  a nice time, always ‘Gezellig‘. Though the sudden drop in temperatures dampen our moods for a while, the crisp winds, hail and rain came as a surprise but not for long, we managed to roll and live like a local.

So, aside from my recent Tulip-coma from the gorgeous Keukenhof gardens, here I share with you some of the things that still caught me by surprise.

This is Holland, the Netherlands, as I see it! Enjoy…

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Spring in Holland : Tulips everywhere, anywhere. I saw these bunch of  red beauty right along my in-laws neighborhood.

Easter egg hunt right in Opa’s garden!

Just like in Germany, Easter in the Netherlands was a blast. My daughter and her cousins had lots of fun hunting for eggs and of course, we had an overload of Osterhase ( Easter bunny) and chocolate eggs.

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Easter dinner with some fancy appetizers

Talking about the wind and Dutch Cloudscapes

The photo below is a typical Dutch cloudscape. I snap this  photo while I was in the attic and opened the window during dusk. You can almost feel the wind in the higher parts of the sky; the strips of clouds they call “wind feathers” . I know I am in Holland when the clouds makes an exhibition of their fluffy, airy, and colorful palette.The ‘cumulus’ type of clouds is as typical as the tulips and used as inspirations by artists in many classic paintings in the Netherlands. If you have time, Google ‘ Solomon Van Ruysdael’ and you will know what I am talking about.

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Phenomenal sky in the Netherlands, April 2017.

The Kissing couple  

I love everything Delft, and this one is far by my favorite second to the Tulip vase that I’ve seen from our visit to the Rijksmuseum. I can’t find any history of this but this little piece of a Dutch farmer kissing his wife in the fields is really something very-Dutch. It come in all sizes but they are typically in the blue and white color which means that they are made of Delft Blue (or Delftware) – a Dutch version of Chinese porcelain.

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Only in Holland, The Kissing Couple

Crystal clear water reflections

I know that I am in The Netherlands when nature is visible in any bodies of water. The water is super clean and clear that you always have a mirror-like reflections. I am obsessed photographing all these reflections. I took this photo  from one of our walks in the city center where the small river lies along the green trees and a castle. It always seems like just a few meters away and I am taken away to another place.

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Crystal clear water reflections

Flower power  spectacle in full colors

Need I say more,when it comes to colors, the Dutch have a reputation to defend. This applies to famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of my favorite painters, whose work can be seen in several Dutch museums. One of my unforgettable experience was seeing the “Night watch” in Dutch –De NachtwachtBut Holland is best known for its spring flowers, especially Tulips. They are gorgeoussssss!!!

My recent trip to the Keukenhof left me with a flower-coma but I’m telling you, by Springtime, a sight of tulips  are seen ordinarily in every Dutch household. Actually the flowers are just a by-product, it’s the bulbs that counts and is exported all over the world.

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Keukenhof Gardens, Easter (April 2017)

The Dutch Tulips, and the season of Spring in the Netherlands is something that you should not miss if you are visiting this country. If you wanna know why these flowers causes the first financial crisis in Holland, you better read it Here.

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Pretty in bright, red tulips, the queen of Spring season.

I have a kid who is obsessed with animals and in Holland, the wild animals are typically seen up close. You can see herds of cows, goats , chickens and sheep as you drive along the highway. There is always a country-farm feel like even in the midst of a busy city. I think I have seen so much horses and stable in my entire life every time I am in Holland. Here, deers are still 100% natural. In the Veluwe, a protected wildlife park, there’s always a chance to run into one. My daughter enjoyed her up close encounter with huge deers that she can feed and with the petting zoo in Keukenhof gardens.

 

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Huize Almelo 

Our lazy walks lead us to this castle, just a few meters away from the city center. Huize Almelo is a castle ( manor)  in Almelo which is owned by the family Van Rechteren Limpurg. It is not open for public access but of course you can view it from a distance.We love walking around here as it has a beautiful greenery and clouded with trees with a nearby lake and ponds.

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Local sighting- a herd of cows lounging in the fields

The taste of Dutch cheese

Need I say more? Gouda is the type of cheese that is known worldwide, but the famous cheese market is held in the town of Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam. I don’t know about my husband why he doesn’t eat cheese, but as for me, I adore cheese and I could eat this everyday!

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Delicious Dutch threats 

My sweet tooth indulgence when I am in Holland is elevated to the max. I can’t resist the delicious goodies like the  stroopwafels, gevuldekoek, kozakken,  Dutch Apple pies and bonbons. Though the Netherlands is famous for its ‘Frites’ and bitterballen, you can never underestimate the Dutch homemade dishes. My parents-in-law always spoiled us with so many home-made cooking that I can’t describe farther than ‘Gezelligheid’. It is always served with lots of love. And yes, even in Holland, it is Spargelzeit!

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Having a Gezellig time inside the Bolletje ” bakery and museum where the Apple pie is as good as their spiced biscuits and the all time Dutch favorite—Kruidnoten!

Our visit to Holland is not  complete until we had coffee and a slice of warm Krentenwegge ( raisin bread) and Dutch apple pie with a window view of  spring violet pansies, for which is truly relaxing. This bakery which dated since 1867, is a home to my husband’s favorite- raisin bread and Kruidnoten.

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If you see bikes  everywhere, then you know you are in the right city and you are definitely in the Netherlands! Either tucked in the central station, if not on a bridge, they are firmly locked over a canal or  in front of Dutch houses.

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Ik voel me zo ( I feel so..) Miffy figurine design created by Artist Mies van Hout. One of the life-size decorated Miffy  we loved during the Art parade on 60th Anniversary (2015) in Amsterdam.The fact that Miffy rarely shows her feelings allow children to project their own feelings on her.The red line that winds its way around Miffy is made up of faces that expresses all kinds of feelings.

Her name is Miffy, and  she’s older than Hello Kitty !

Nijntje, is a shortening of “konijntje,” which means “little rabbit.”Oftenly mistaken as Japanese because of it’s ‘kawaii’ features but actually she’s Dutch. Sanrio even got sued for copying her design; the court ordered them to discontinue their “Cathy the bunny” character.

Dick Bruna released his first bunny book in 1955, followed by over 30 more. This year, Dick Bruna passed away but left a legacy with this white bunny character loved by children all over the world, even adults. We were lucky to witness the Miffy Parade last August 2015 in Amsterdam for its 60th Anniversary where 60 artists decorated a life-size miffy  (1.8 metre high) from creepy goth to rubber ducky. My daughter adores Miffy  since birth, and I am thrilled that we brought home one of the limited edition’s design.

There’s still so much to write about but I don’t want this post to be a novel . But do you wanna know what’s my priced souvenir from this family trip? This…

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Finally, my own Dutch Potato masher!!! I am completely Dutchie-FIED!

You know you are completely Dutchi-fied when you have this in your kitchen!

 

Did you enjoy reading this post? If you’d like to waste more time reading about stuff Dutch people like, make sure to follow my Blog  for more stories like this and hey, If you like to support my artwork, please like my facebook page JustbluedutchArt  which I created just recently.

Are you in Instagram? Please follow me in JustbluedutchArt and let’s stay connected!

 

 

 

Keukenhof, the most beautiful Spring garden in the whole world!

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Welcome to Keukenhof Gardens, a Dutch pride!

Woowww!” This is my daughter’s word when we saw the bright, bursting colors of tulips last Monday in the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, in the Netherlands.

Visiting  Keukenhof on the second day of Easter was totally overwhelming, but yes, for me, it is probably the most beautiful garden in spring in the whole world! I have been looking forward for this trip this Spring and I am so glad we had a great weather to witness this place. This year was the 68th time that the Keukenhof gardens ( literally translates as kitchen garden) wows approximately millions of tourists and even locals. My husband, who is a Dutch native, but a first-timer to see the flower-mania inside the Keukenhof gardens was surprisingly impressed by the beautiful landscapes. He thought only old people and tourists go there, but then he was mistaken.Seeing tulips grow as normal as weeds during spring in almost every backyard all over Holland, he saw the other side of its beauty.He was greatly enamored by the flower power as I did. He hates crowds but I must say that the traffic flow inside the park was still controlled and manageable, even with a 2.5 year old toddler with us. Since our visit falls on a holiday, we’ve seen visitors from all over the globe,different nationalities.Totally chaotic but then also so much fun!

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Tulipa…in bright dark red blossoming in Springtime in Keukenhof.
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A chaotic, crowded garden on the second day of Easter in Lisse, the Netherlands.

We took the trip with Arriva tours and it was very pleasant, on time and smooth all the way.  I won’t be surprised if visitors this year would surpass last year’s  2016 recorded 1.1 million visitors! As one of the highlight of our Holland trip, my feet was itching from the moment we book our tickets and kept on hoping that we had a great weather or else we will definitely cancel the trip.The time that I come face to face with the gazillions of around 800 varieties of tulips, I fell in love!

There is beauty everywhere I look! Have you ever heard of Tulips coma? There is never enough Tulips to see, and of course, to photograph!

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This year’s theme in Keukenhof Gardens is the “Dutch Design”, or also known as Mondriaan. This is a landscape created to depict the artistic dutch design in red, blue, yellow and white frames.

I think this is how I’ve felt when I saw the bright tulips fields, the tripartite layers of colors, gorgeous landscape filled with different colors, unique artwork, inspirational gardens and flower exhibitions!

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This year’s theme is “Dutch Design“. Dutch Design is characterized by Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions.The Mondriaan Garden with its primary square color patches was crowded and so as the Roses flower show in the Oranje Nassau pavillion was a great crowd pleaser. Surprisingly, my daughter had a blast in the petting zoo, in the Miffy house ,spacious playpark and running around the garden. The restaurants were crowded but there were plenty to choose from.You will have something to eat and drink depending on what you want.Don’t forget to  try the Dutch , Bitterballen, and yes, the Kroket sandwich to have a taste of Dutch foods.

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Orange crown tulips

Personally, seeing this garden up close and personal  was a dream come true!

Gazing at the tulips made me appreciate nature even more and I was just overwhelmed by how beautiful the flowers are.From this, the Dutch people should be very proud because they have this heritage. It’s no wonder people travel across the world just to see flowers, especially  this Tulpen-Mania!

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Beauty everuwhere…Tulipas in dark pink and yellow.

This spring,we are lucky to see the new amenities of the park, like its beautiful grand entrance hall, with geometric design ceiling, visitors luggage deposit area, restaurants, souvenir shops, and a car park where 4,500 cars and 1,000 coaches can park. If you like to gaze at the Tulips fields, you can walk a few meters from the park and just be amazed by horizons painted in red, yellow, violets, and pink tulips!

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I am so glad that I had the chance to see this place in person. It was totally worth it. This place fueled my love for nature even more, flowers and the inspiration behind the art. I think its not just the tulips but there’s really a creative art behind these landscapes.

Here are some interesting facts I’ve learned while researching about this amazing garden.

1. 2017 is Keukenhof’s 68th opening to the public.

2. Keukenhof is only open eight weeks each year and, in that time, welcomes 1.1 million visitors ( as of 2016 records).

3. Nearly 50 million people have visited Keukenhof since it first opened and, nowadays, 75% come from more than 100 countries abroad.

4. More than 7 million bulbs are planted in Keukenhof’s 32 hectares (79 acres), which are supplied, for free, by 100 bulb growers.

5. The gardeners dig out these bulbs, at the end of each open season, and destroy them (by order of the growers). Most are used as food for livestock.

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Pretty in Orange ( Orannje Tulipas Double Blooms)

6. There are about 30 full-time gardeners, who work year-round at Keukenhof.

7. Each autumn, the gardeners plant the bulbs, by hand, in a completely new design. It takes about 3 months. The bulbs are selected to bloom throughout the eight-week opening period.

8. The bright green grass, around the park, is a special quick-growing variety, needed to cope with the shady trees. It is reseeded each year.

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A garden full of colors!

9. In addition to the tulip gardens, Keukenhof also hosts a Japanese garden, an English landscape garden, a spring meadow, a natural garden, a historic garden, a garden maze, and seven inspiration gardens that are different each year.

10. Although known for tulips, Keukenhof is home to the world’s largest lily show, during the last ten days of the opening season.

11. Keukenhof began, in 1857, as an English landscape garden, designed by the Zocher firm, who also designed Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

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12. Keukenhof’s name has even older origins. Countess Jacoba van Beieren owned the land in the 15thcentury. The uncultivated land was used for hunting and gathering herbs for the castle’s kitchen, hence Keukenhof, or Kitchen Garden.

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Fringed Tulipas…a rare breed!

13. The striped tulips, so popular in the 17th century, got their colouring from a virus, transferred by aphids, only discovered in 1931. These days, multi-coloured tulips are bred to look that way.

14. Growing 4.2 million bulbs a year, the Netherlands is the world’s largest producer of tulip bulbs. Half of which are exported.

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The Kissing Couple , famous Delft figurine from Holland

15. The main bulb-growing region of Holland stretches from Leiden to Haarlem. The number of hectares for bulb production has increased from 10,000 hectares in 1960 to more than 23,500 hectares in 2007. However, the number of growers is decreasing, from 13,000 in 1960 to only 2000, in 2007.

16.The website travel guide, Lonely Planet, opens with a feature on Keukenhof. Wikipedia has just one photograph of the Netherlands: of Keukenhof. More recently Keukenhof was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor

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If you have the chance, you need to give it a go to visit this amazing garden, you won’t regret it. Keukenhof is  definitely a family & kid friendly place and there’s so much events and activities inside Keukenhof for all ages!

 

Did you enjoy this post? If so, you might want to see Keukenhof in Pink and The National Tulips Day in Amsterdam .

If you are planning to explore the off beaten attractions in Holland, you might want to check out why Dutch clouds, especially the Cumulus clouds are long time inspiration from artists and depicted in famous paintings. Read more in Holland, as I see It!

Spargelzeit : White asparagus time in Germany!

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Spargelzeit ! ( White Asparagus season) ,Germany’s King of Vegetables arrives in Springtime!

Spring is totally  all over here in Germany!

Everyday, as I  look at how the pretty magnolias and enchanting pink cascades of cherry blossoms brings a pink spectacle in our surroundings, this makes me love even more Spring! Even the tulips that I planted in our garden blossoms into bright fuschia and red bulbs, beside the rows of yellow daffodils making it super ‘Gezellig‘, and undeniably a cozy, warm & festive season! And yes, time for Germans to indulge in white Spargels! When I say indulge, imagine a  consumption of whooping 125,000 tonnes per year!

It is true,that’s a whole LOT of Asparagus or locally known as Spargel!

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The “White Gold”in Germany, the White Asparagus

Just as the Apple marks the Fall season and culinary delights for baked pies, Spring time here in Germany signals the start of Spargelzeit, or the season of White Asparagus!

Have you heard anything like this before? Well for me, I only knew of Green Asparagus! I’ve read that there’s a purple variety as well but white, it never really occurred to me!  I have never seen or tasted  a white asparagus in my entire life. Not until I’ve been here in Germany. If you’re wondering what’s the difference, very simple actually;  the white variety grows entirely surrounded by earth. In turn, this protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and keeps it from turning green. This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Rich in nutrients and very low in calories, asparagus is a healthy and delicious food!

Remember my story about how Germans decorate their fountains with 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs? Germans as well, prefer this seasonal white delicacy that grows only during Spargelzeit, from April to July. Now nobody can really underestimate the Germans special affection to Easter, Spring festivals and their culinary calendar in each season. Especially here in my Bavarian town,  Ostermarkt (Easter Market), Osterbrunnen (Easter fountain)  and the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival) are all big celebrations . But the special culinary specialty for Spring is no doubt the white, long, slender stems of white Spargel (asparagus) .

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My first sighting of the famous White German Asparagus ( Spargel) in our local Farmer’s market .

Germany’s  “king of vegetables” can be seen as early as middle of March but the official harvesting season of white spargel starts around April and ends until June 24. First time that I saw these white asparagus was in our local farmer’s market and since then, I saw these bunches more often as well in various supermarkets. Though prices might soar up high during the season, and many will sprout as cheap ones, they say that it’s still best to get the best grade asparagus since as for the Germans, it is always worth paying more for the ‘white gold’.

So how does the White Spargel taste?

White asparagus is much softer in texture and stringier than the green asparagus.It has more subtle and delicate flavour. It is traditionally served with melted butter and potatoes (Spargel mit Butter), with ham (Spargel mit Schinken) or with hollandaise sauce (Spargel mit holländischer Sauce).

I’ve found out more interesting facts about the White Spargel :

  1. It takes 3 (Three) long years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip.The soil is piled up in knee-high banks making its unique appearance.
  2. The states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony take special pride in being prime asparagus growing regions in Germany.
  3. Just like beer festival, there is also a “Spargelfest” ( Spargel festival)  held where culinary experts showcase their fresh spargel dishes,peeling contest and even celebrating with the Asparagus Queen!
  4. There is an Asparagus Museum in Herten, North Rhein Westphalia, in Germany.The Vestisches Spargelmuseum is dedicated to this spring delight, owned by Ludger Südfeld.  The exhibit display trace the entire cultivation process of this vegetable.
  5. According to the records from 2012 released by Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently, asparagus uses a fifth of the entire open land area for vegetables in Germany, making it the vegetable with the largest cultivation area in the country.
  6. The city of Schwetzingen claims to be the Asparagus capital of the World!
  7. During Spargelzeit, the average German enjoys the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day. This, in turn, adds up to a national total of over 70,000 tons per year!

 

Yes, would you believe that in this country known for its ordnungs, there is also Asparagus quality !

Asparagus Quality

Germany has divided asparagus into strict quality classes, comparable to USDA Grade A, Choice, etc. The classes of “Spargel” are:

Extra – Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.

Handelsklasse I (HK I) – Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.

Handelsklasse II (HK II) – Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students.

 

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever tried eating white Asparagus?Also, do you think eating Asparagus makes your urine smell?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

Artwork : Sittin’ on the dock of the Bay

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“Watching the Sailboats “original artwork in Aquarelle, 36 X 48cm  with my first bud of Tulips that I planted in our garden.

 

A midweek inspiration to share with you since I was sick these past few days. I am feeling lethargic but my mind is full of images that I wanted to paint. Seascapes, with  fluffy clouds,more like a stormy weather, strong waves and scenic seascapes are flowing in my mind so I had to grab my brush to materialize them. Spring is a fantastic season, with all the blossoming of flowers and things sprouting in colors, still, at the back of my mind, how I wish to sit in front of the beach and waste some time! I know, it’s my guilty pleasure.I guess loving the waters has been in my system since the time I have learned to swim (though not professionally),but because  I am a self-confessed nature-lover.  I don’t know why, but the sight of waters makes me feel calm.Be it in the beach, river, lake, or a waterfalls, or a cozy swimming pool, all of it  sure keeps me happy.

And yes, I’d like to waste time just watching the waves, the water, the sun and time goes by. While painting these artworks, these lyrics was in my mind ;

“Sittin’ in the morning sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I watch them roll away again, yeah”

{ Sittin’ on the dock of the Bay, Otis Redding}

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Watching the sailboats go by ( Original artwork in Aquarelle 36 X 48cm)

My ideal summer getaway would be in an island, with lots and lots of beach, blue skies and tropical paradise! I kinda miss the coconut trees & palm trees. Give me Hawaii, or Maldives, or just my home country’s virgin and secluded paradise like Amanpulo, Bohol or Palawan.When I was living in Kuwait, I have spent so many times just strolling along the Arabian Gulf and literally “sittin’ on the dock of the bay“, watching the skyline on a clear , dust-free sky, the overreacting jet-skiers, and boats passing by. With the magnificent background of the sunset or sunrise, I am feeling ecstatic all the time. I would never trade an hour of sitting in front of the beach to watch the waves rolled by , or watch how the clouds change their colors and shapes. Today, as I checked my camera roll with its 3,000+ photos, I’ve noticed that my most photographed subjects were  my daughter, flowers, nature and the sunsets. The best ones are with bodies of water in it.

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Stranded ( 36 x 48 cm) Aquarelle painting

“So, I’m just gon’ sit on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time..

Looks like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, listen”

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A cloudy Day ( 30 x 40 cm ) Watercolor Artwork
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The clouds, the only birds that never sleep.
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Two of my favorite seascapes painting.

 

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Original artwork. Follow me in INSTAGRAM : JustbluedutchArt

I am happy that I could “enliven” the sea in my paintings.While doing it, my mind travels through time when I was so busy island -hopping with an adventurous banca and enjoying some fun with nature. I find it so relaxing that I can equate my passion with the things that I love, that painting can even express my desires, emotions and yes, wish lists.

Do you love going to the beach?

What is your favorite beach soundtrack?

Thank you for reading friends,I love reading your thoughts on this post so please feel free to leave your comments.

If you have more time to waste, please head over to my Instagram so you can see more of my latest Artwork.

 

We’ve got a long weekend coming over here in Germany, Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

Artwork: Surreal Aquarelle skyscapes

Hello friends!

I am working on a different series nowadays. Maybe it’s the changing season that’s inspiring me to create a different palette of colors and play with surreal sky effect visual artworks. A different forte compared to my style in making the “Faces in the Crowd” series, with this surreal paintings of skies, stars, and colorful  cloudy effects —the options are limitless and no painting is similar to the other. Every single painting turns out to be different.

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‘” Twilight “- original hand painted  and 100% hand-made item in 36 X 48 cm acid-free, age resistant aquarelle paper using Artist’s grade paints and inks.
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Closer look on this Twilight sky and  starry night  Aquarelle painting.
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Ready for shipping!

I love how it turned it so well. When I put it beside the Eclipse’s photos, I realized that there is only a thin line separating from my imagination of the starry skies, the moon, the stars, and the sun. It’s amazing how nature can inspire us to create something surreal.

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Surreal Sky and stars effect watercolor paintings ( Artwork by JustbluedutchArt)

 

 

This one is a version of a cloudy day. The painting is made with lots of greys, viridian, violets, blues and lots of wet-on-wet washes techniques. I specifically used a heavier, matt paper to withstand the washes. I am using the finest grade of Hahnemühle aquarelle papers which are acid resistant, age-free, and totally absorbent and causes no warping. I love the quality of these papers and they come in a block form so I don’t even need a canvass board while working on them.Quite expensive but the quality is good.

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“Stormy Clouds “- original Watercolor painting in 36 X 48 cm aquarelle matt paper

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Do you like paintings like these? What style of paintings do you prefer?

 

I love to hear your comments on my artwork, so please feel free to leave your comments!

If you’d like to view more samples of my Artwork, add me in Instagram where I post daily my current works! I’m still working on the online shop and updating the gallery feed so please stay tuned.

If you want to support a local budding Artist like yours truly, just send me an email in justbluedutch@gmail.com just in case you want to collaborate, inquire for purchases or whatever. I hope to hear from you!

 

Thank you for stopping by and here’s to a great weekend!

P.S. For those celebrating Easter, do you do Egg hunt and do you know by chance a sample of “Osterbrunnen” culture like the one we have here in Germany?

 

The Gable houses in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal houses

Even before I’ve met my husband, seeing Amsterdam is already on my bucket list. I love how different this city is and how unique the architecture you’ll see once you walked through the narrow cobbled-streets of Amsterdam. Oh yes, the bikes are another thing ! The first time I’ve visited Amsterdam and looked from the plane’s window, I was totally surprised by how different the landscape compared to the “brown, desert scapes” I saw when I first I came to Kuwait. Holland is flat as Kuwait, but at least with green landscapes.

Yes, The Netherlands is a flat country same as Kuwait, no mountains or valleys. Literally, about 27% of the country lies below sea level and tracing back the history, very prone to flooding.This fascinating country of my Dutch man  falls into three natural topography, the dunes, the lowlands or “polders” , and the higher eastern section of the country. But Holland is not only world renowned by bicycles, colors, thru Van Gogh and Rembrandt, or from its Tulips spectacle, but also with its capital landmark ; the remarkable Gable, and leaning  houses along the canals of Amsterdam.

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Reflections in the canals of the Gable houses in Amsterdam

“A leaning standpoint “, this is my first impression when I saw how crooked and odd the houses looked in a row. Some houses appear not to be standing straight, some really are!

When I explored Amsterdam and walked along the canals,even with a toddler in a tow, I really noticed that some of the houses are tilted, and wondered why. Maybe they just follow the previous pattern of houses. I know that it’s not only me, most of the tourists observed this. It was hard taking a decent photo if you follow an aligned perspective.Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. The vibes in this beautiful city is really wonderful, very diverse and totally laid-back. I could spent hours and hours walking on the small alleys, admiring the quaint cafe and shops, and the details of the houses. Everything is just so pretty!

Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometers of canals and its charming Canal District holds the city’s hidden gems; elegant canal-side mansions. From research, I’ve learned that the cost of living in Amsterdam is high, let alone renting an apartment along the canals. Amsterdam is known for its luxurious canal houses and it’s famous for the series of canals that encircle and crisscross each other throughout the city. From 17th century, locals built their houses along the canals which also served as their business offices, the basement and attics are used to store goods to be sold.

The architecture of these houses is very unique and particular and the intricate style shows the talent the carpenters had when building them many years ago. The 17th-century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.

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Beautiful houses in Amsterdam, a world heritage site ( UNESCO)

These Canal houses are known for being slim, high and having interiors that run deep. Due to the danger of flooding, the front door was usually built higher up and only reachable via stairs. The floor of the main story was a few steps above street level for this same reason. One of the things that stands out in Amsterdam are the big windows and charming gabled façades, many houses that seemed tiny from the outside opened up into beautiful spaces within.

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Every street along the canal is picturesque, unique and vibrant.

It is these very gables that are an exclusive Amsterdam design! When looking up at these majestic houses, you can see that many of the gables are adorned with a hook. Although it may look like a decoration, the hook is there to enable tenants to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the top floor. Canal houses were built slightly leaning forward so that the gable was further out into the street, in order to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window. A special beam or pulley installation would be located in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. You can see this method being used today as the pulleys are still used for moving furniture in and out of houses.

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A postcard from Amsterdam

Also,many old Amsterdam houses  are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Amsterdam was a typical ‘staple port’. This is a place where merchants make money by trading all kinds of goods that enter into the city, usually by boat. And speaking of boats, there are so many boat houses in the canals, most were privately owned and adding to the “charm” of the rings of canals flowing all throughout the city.

 

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Amsterdam canal houses

The thing about Dutch houses is that the large open windows  don’t have any curtains, which guarantees zero privacy. The sheer size of them and complete lack of drapes illustrates the openness of Dutch society and how its people show that they have nothing to hide. Having one’s possessions out in the open for everyone to see isn’t very common, with many closing their curtains at night for privacy or security reasons. This idea of transparency is a key social element and shows how comfortable they are with being completely open.

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Throughout the centuries, the phased expansions of the city of Amsterdam were thoroughly planned. The plots of land along the 3 main 17th century canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) were initially quite small. Each plot was 5 to 7 meters in width. Probably they chose to divide the land this way because that way, a maximum amount of houses has an entrance on the waterfront, the most important means of transportation in the late 16th century.

Amsterdam houses might seem narrow, but they are quite deep. In the back there is a large garden hidden from view and often the rich had a carriage house in the back.If you want to experience a chance of “Dutch’s Gezelligheid”, take a peek of their lifestyle the next time you roam around and walk through the small alleys. Amsterdam sure thing is a busy city and literally never sleeps, but you can’t afford to miss the beauty that this city holds!

 

Have you visited Amsterdam? What do you like from your travels?

 

 

How to find a Kita for your child in Germany | Expat Guide

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Tender beginnings for the  little ones 

Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!! 

I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.

Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this  news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.

So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?

If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.

“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”

What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;

  1. Do your research. –  I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).

 

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My Pre-schooler tiny Goblin

2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.

3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.

4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls  to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.

5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.

In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :

  1. Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
  2. Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
  3. Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
  4. Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)

With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the  start of semester in September.

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Repotting the Uprooted child

So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?

Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!

Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.

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Eager to learn..

Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;

Tagesmutter  ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.

Nannies-  are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators.  For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.

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The long wait is over…

Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:

  1. Tagespflege (Daycare)
  2.  Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
  3. Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
  4. Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
  5. Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
  6. Babysitters 

I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.

If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.

For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !

 

Cherry Blossoms magic in Bavaria

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Fluffy, sensitive blossoms for tender beginnings…

The Cherry blossoms turning the Neues Schloss into a  magical fairy tale land!

I don’t need to travel to Bonn, to the world-renowned Heerstraße street or to other scenic parts here in Europe to see the Cherry Blossom spectacle, because right here in my old little town in Bavaria, our streets are flooded as well with these gorgeous pink blossoms . It’s been a while now that these flowers are  dazzling us everyday.  I realized why people say that seeing these pink lovelies during early days of Spring is one of the things you should do before you die— it is simply gorgeous! I know I am not the only one who is crazy enough to snap  photos of these flowers, and why not, they are irresistible to not capture. They are the popular photo motif at the moment. See feeds in Facebook and Instagram and you know what I mean. I do believe in seeing the beauty of the moment before it vanishes.

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Well, remember the long dark, grey winter days where all the trees are bald, leafless, and barren, now Spring is bringing back everything to life! Just like the other wild spring flowers, Cherry blossoms brings such a happy spirit, lifting our souls to enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine once again. Isn’t it  amazing how our moods  changes, when we see a change in our surroundings?

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Just like the charming yellow Daffodils, Cherry Blossoms are such an enigma to behold during Springtime! I found more about this flower when I did a bit of reading and now I understand that aside from touristic reasons, Japan’s  Sakura is such a magnet for tourists.

Hanami is the Japanese tradition to admire the blossoming of flowers in spring, especially the delicate cherry blossoms. It dates back to the Heian period. The term, however, refer to the cherry blossoms (sakura), symbol of the Japanese culture. The true meaning of this tradition is not observing flowers blooming passively, but rather in living the journey of these beautiful flowers coming off the trees by the spring breeze. Cherry blossoms are not only symbols of rebirth and wealth, but also of the samurai’s qualities: loyalty, honesty and courage. Hanami is also an opportunity to meet friends, planning parties, picnics and karaoke sitting under the cherry blossoms trees. It is amazing admiring a rain-scented flowers, just like what the Dutch’s thing for Gezelligheid!

Did you know that Cherry blossoms are very sensitive flowers? The first flowers emerge slowly under the protection of the old branches. They do not like rain at all, and frosty night temperatures can easily harm the flowers as well. Since the weather here in Bavaria has been cooler than usual, we even had rains & hail today, I already see that some blossoms are down in the streets.

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Picturesque pink magic …

Here in our neighborhood alone, rows of pink and white cherry blossom  trees gives us a happy vibes whenever we walk and cycle.Fortunately the trees here are tall and have been pruned so high that no one can reach the blossoming cherry branches. Otherwise the precious trees would probably be looted by souvenir hunters, myself included!  I was even tempted to cut a branch! At this safe height, the fluffy pink flowers swing in the warm spring breeze.

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Capture the beauty while you still can…

 

Remember that the cherry blossoms only lasts for a short time, around 10 days, so if you have the chance, make the most of them whilst you can!

 

What do you love about Spring in your area? Do you also love Cherry Blossoms as I do?

 

 

Artwork : The mountains are calling

“What a Glorious greeting the sun gives the mountains…”

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“The Mountains are calling “ watercolour original artwork in 30 X 40 cm artist’s quality paper using Profimaler Royal Talens Van Gogh paints and Rembrandt’s inks. This baby needs a new home and can be yours ! Shipping worldwide from Germany!

Hey friends! How is life lately?

With the arrival of Spring here in Germany, everything just had a carpet of changes. In a span of 2 weeks, the weather becomes mild, perfect for outdoor cycling and just being out again without freezing your hands! Have you seen how the cherry blossoms literally painting the town pink? The fields are turning into mossy greens once again and the wild flowers are unstoppable from popping out from the ground, splashing wonderful colors everyday. The other day, I was amazed by the amount of yellow Daffodils in our garden and the tulip bulbs are greedy for sunshine, also ready to pop. This makes me so excited especially with our upcoming trip to Keukenhof in Holland! Spring is such a wonderful time, and by this, I am flooded with inspiration.

So one of the things I love to do for my ‘Me time ‘ is painting my thoughts away. I have made some new Landscape paintings and one of my favorites so far is  inspired by the Alps. Remember my post about our Winter Wonderland adventure there last January? Well it seems that the Alps have left some fond memories in my thoughts and I have tried a humble artwork, trying to feel the emotions evoke by this gorgeous mountain.

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I love working on this piece, the painting is done with lots of Aquamarine deep blues, cobalt blues, and some tint of Burnt Sienna, and I mixed lots of greens to make a patch of trees and blended them all in lots of wet washes! I am using Profimaler paints and inks from Royal Talens & Rembrandt and high-grade aquarelle papers from Hahnemühle. Check more in JustbluedutchArt instagram page!

I have only seen the Alps in the winter time, where the slopes are covered with snow. On a bright sunny day, the glistening peak can be a mesmerizing sight, especially if you are not used to seeing limestone cliffs, steep peak like the Alps around the Tiroler region in Austria. The pine trees and the beautiful valley below add a picturesque vista on any given day. For me, the mountains are a symbol of the wanderer soul inside all of us, like a quest that all of us have in search for the unknown. Have you seen the great video from North face about the calling from the mountains? I think it sums up what I feel about mountain landscaes and the desire of exploring.

If you have time, do check it out Here, I highly recommend it!

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Do you know the feeling of being so close to a nature wonder everyday?

I love the fast paced of a modern-city life, but my heart always longs for nature. Mountains, lakes, rivers, and especially the beach!I grew up with a view of the amazing Mayon Volcano in Philippines and I tell you, the sight of the volcano with smoke and clouds hovering around it everyday becomes like a second skin. My hometown is the place where this perfect cone volcano can be found and the feeling is surreal when you realize that you have something everyday that no one else have from the other parts of the world. Stay tuned for my version of Volcano scapes soon!

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Also, I am currently doing a project of a series of mountain- scapes like this and will share with you on my next posts. But this time, hope you enjoy this artwork as much as I do.

 

If you are interested to purchase any of my artwork and support this striving artist, please feel free to send me an email in justbluedutch@gmail.com or follow my Instagram for more updates!

Exciting things are on the way, My Online shop coming out soon and the gallery will soon be in details. Thank you all for stopping by and have a lovely week !