The law of reversed effort

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The Law of Reversed Effort 

A personal post about what I’m experiencing for the past days.There were days where my mind is like a muddy puddle, unclear and chaotic, and desperately in need of clarity.

The truth is, a struggle  creates struggle and  my life as an expat  is not all  bed of roses.Let’s face it, everyday, more often, it’s bleak and grey ,you are  faced with the hard realities, instead of the fairy-tale fantasies of living in a world of different culture and language. I don’t know, maybe I need to blame the weather, the cold, the situations or my attitude and the way that I reacted to events.

I needed clarity but it is so elusive, the harder I tried to figure it out, the less output I get,  it only gives me all the blurry ones.I’ve felt like I’m in a rat hole that I couldn’t get out.I can’t say what I wanted to say in exact words that I wanted to say. I feel helpless.

I wanted to do things but it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to be.It felt awkward.I felt like my effort were all wasted.I even tried to paint my emotions but I ended up making a mess.

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C’mon Spring, do your thing!

I heard you, I know you might say; isn’t it should be “Try and try until you succeed? ”

So I decided to take a walk in the park one day and just sit there and wait for clarity. At best, I am hoping to just stop fighting myself. As usual, the sun is elusive, hiding behind the clouds.I gazed upon the buds in the branches and the sprouting leaves in the bushes. The grounds start to get greener once again. I saw signs of new beginnings, new chances. A rebirth.Spring is definitely on the way.

How odd but sometimes I felt like I am a plant who wants to grow in the middle of cold winter. I realized that my negative thoughts are apt to be more effective than the positive because the negative usually has more feeling with it.

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A budding signaling a rebirth

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”. – Alan Watts

Like a muddy puddle, it’s best to leave it alone to clear.I let my mind rest and my body to just do nothing. Literally nothing. Like my daughter in tantrums, I let her sort her own emotions by staying calm, just watching how things naturally sort themselves out without my constant “interventions “.

Today,the clarity that I needed came.Along the way,and out of my stubbornness, I discovered something beautiful about the law of reversed effort.This came like a wake up call. Many times, things in life only sort themselves out only when we don’t do anything, taking the concept of the Law of Reversed Effort a bit further, it sometimes refers instead to a state of mind, a state of  mind of ‘not doing’, perhaps this is akin to a flow state of automatic action, a mindset of effortless concentration that only resides when we are present and ‘in the now’, because if we try to mentally push things too far in this mindset we just get the opposite result.

Isn’t this also the truth when writing a blog post? Or finishing a project? Our deep need for a clear slate to write down our thoughts? A state of mental relaxation is the only way for clarity to be achieved. Easier said than done but yes, it’s the only way to get things done, naturally, without causing stress in my mind.

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The Law of reversed effort

Like these buds which reminds me that nature has its own course to follow. It’s an autopilot that only nature comprehends.Nobody can intervene. I can’t hurry up the seasons or mold the people around me the way I wanted them to be.Nature has its own way, and it’s definitely not My way.

Here is the original quote from Huxley about the Law of Reversed effort.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us”. Aldous Huxley (The Law of Reversed Effort).

Any thoughts ?

Have you ever felt like this? How did you overcome it?

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Pussy willow home decor

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Twigs with bulbs with fur-like an animal- Wow!

A typical Bavarian home decoration during early days of Spring up to Easter is a bunch of pussy willow branches decorated with painted plastic eggs hanging on them. But it can also be a great home decor to create a “Spring-y“ambiance. The name of pussy willow in German-Palmkätzchen  translates as “palm kittens” or “willow kittens.” Same thing. Since they don’t have many palm trees in Germany, so they use pussy willow for Easter decorations.

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These delightful branches of pussy willow were sold at the local ‘Wochenmarkt ‘ ( wet market)  we visited  this morning. I don’t wanna go home without grabbing some because I really adore these branches at first sight. I didn’t even know what it’s called so we just asked the woman who’s selling these twigs. It’s Palmkätzchen, she said. My husband called them sticks but for me they are so much more. I mean, they really look nice, in a very unique way. Most important thing, here in Bavaria, they are a real sign of spring! Most locals I have seen today are carrying a bunch in their hands, from out and about and even while cycling way home.

The silk-like buds that cover the branches appeal to the Chinese apparently, who use them as a major display at Chinese New Year.  In Northern and Eastern Europe and in America they are often used as a replacement for palm leaves (a practical issue rather than aesthetic, I think – palms don’t grow naturally that far north) on Palm Sunday.But in Philippines, we grew up using palm leaves during Palm Sunday.The blessed wreaths are placed in doors, believing that the household will be protected from tribulations, or natural disaster like lightning strike.

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The pussy willow is the first bush that blooms after the harsh winter. No wonder it is a prominent Easter symbol because out of its dry twig, bursts a beautiful flower of life.It has many uses beyond decoration and spanking.  Willow branches have long been used for weaving baskets and furniture, and even coffins.  The ancient Egyptians as well as back in the eighteenth century, and Oxfordshire man used ground willow bark to cure rheumatic pain and this eventually led to the development of aspirin. A more recent use is in biomass burning to generate electricity, for example at the Drax power station in Yorkshire.

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Easter is a big thing here in Germany and Germans take the egg-decorations seriously. The shops are flooded now with so many Easter decorations, especially the painted plastic eggs, easter bunnies and other mementos.The busyness of having an Ósternbaum (or  Easter Tree) is also one of the traditions which every household look forward. I guess every house also have a vase of these pussy willows.

If you are into decorating your living room, or you want to create a centerpiece for the coming Easter, you can try Pussy willows for an ideal minimalist home decor.Put it in a white transparent vase without water and allow them to dry. If you got them shipped, simply remove them from packaging and allow them to start drying.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and all is well.

Thank you for reading my friends. Stay tuned for more local sightings stories. Oh by the way, did you know that here in Germany, the egg box which normally comes in 12 pieces only comes in 10? Dunno why but I only found out today…

What surprising things you have learned lately?Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

Smakelijk! traditional Dutch Apple pie

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Traditionl Dutch apple pie with cinnamon crumble

Koffee met appeltaart “, or coffee with apple pie is the Dutch’s way of celebrating..well, of everything! It’s sold in every bakery , bars and featured on every café menu, sometimes being the only sweet option listed. Now, as I am married to a dutch guy, I discovered that Dutch cuisine is not the most celebrated cuisine in the whole world , nor it is something you can say as unique- but it has a character, especially in their baked goodies and pastry. My personal favorites amongst all other delicious Dutch pastries are Gevuldekoek, kozakken, the Roomboter staaf , and of course, dutch authentic Stroofwafels. You haven’t fully experience Dutch’s culture unless you tasted one of these. I gave in to this treat when we were in the Netherlands. It’s a good thing that my generous parents in law are bringing us these Dutch goodies whenever they come for a visit.

Appeltaart is Holland’s magnificent national pastry. It dates as far back as the Middle Ages and it is said that during that time, because ovens with temperature control didn’t exist, baking time was measured by the number of prayers a person had to say until the pie was ready.

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Where it all started – Last 2014 , my first taste of the delicious Dutch Appeltaart that I devoured during our visit in the Netherlands.Warm, gooey, with rich cream on the side, paired with my favorite coffee and I’m good.

Here in Germany, it’s almost similar where in I fully  integrated as well  to their “Kafee und Kuchen” habit. Germans have a sweet habit of cofee-ing & cake-iing,  in the coziest way. To tell you, I was surprised to see Germans having a slice of cake and coffee for lunch, dinner & as early as 9 am.

So I dedicated myself to baking , and making apple pie is my favorite. My  version of Dutch apple pie crumble is proven crowd pleaser when I serve it. Once in a while, I opt for my simple recipe since it’s so easy to make with all the ingredients that can be found already in our kitchen, no special ingredients!

My daughter eats apple like crazy, she can down 2 pieces in a day! Before, she only eat parts of it, gnawing on them. I don’t throw the apples,I peeled off the good part and use them since I don’t want to waste. Since  the sight of apples always make me think of a warm gooey apple pie, with lots of crumble, and I mean those soft, slutty cinnamon crumble, the mere thought makes me wanna bake. Our house smells heavenly that my neighbors sniff the smell from 10 meters radius. Now that it’s still officially a snuggle season and everyone loves comfort food, there’s always a  reason to indulge from time to time. Last Fall, I started making my own apple pie from scratch. Making my own pie crust was a success, with the little help from my Google friend and thought why I didn’t make this before.

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The cinnamon crumble topping that I add-on every pie I made. I also made a pie lattice once but I love how these crumble melts into my mouth.

The Dutch’s Gezelligheid and their love for appeltaart is just so wonderful, and sometimes it is  contagious. This recipe is for Mamas on the go,  super easy  to make that you’ll find yourself baking your own pies. I tell you, I forget and stop buying ones from the store.

To create a flavorful, deep-dish apple pie recipe worthy of recommending to others, I used the old-time trick that I’ve learned. I am used to making this filling for topping in our weekend pancakes. My husband loves them so much. I sautéed a combination of  apples ( or whatever is in your local grocery shop) in  brown sugar, cinnamon,nutmeg, pinch of salt, raisins, add some chia seeds (optional)  and butter. Once they were softened, I removed them from the pan and added heavy cream to reduce and deglaze the pan. Combine the apples and cream mixture in a prebaked pie crust and topping the pie with a crunchy streusel and crumble heaven for the finishing. The more crumble on top, the better!

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Juicy gooey and soft apple cinnamon filling of my Dutch apple pie crumble.

If you’re interested in making an apple pie the Dutch way, here I wanna share with you how to make one.

Traditional Dutch Apple pie crumble

Prep  time : 30~45 mins., serves 10.

For the crust
1½ cups [360 g] unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
1 1/3 cups [240 g] brown sugar, packed firmly
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
5 cups [600 g] all-purpose flour ( type 405, the one I used here in Germany)

For the filling
5 firm apples or 3 soft apples (such as Golden Delicious or Pink Lady)
Finely grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup [80 ml] brown sugar (plus more for the crumble)
2 tsp [10 ml] speculaaskruiden (I use Verstegen Koek & Speculaas)
2 tsp [10 ml of cornstarch ]

Dash of cinnamon (zimt)  and nutmeg (muskatnuss gemahlen)
½ cup [125 ml] sultanas (or raisins )
½ cup [125 ml] chopped walnuts (optional)

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Traditional Dutch apple pie with cinnamon crumble

To make the crust:
In a medium bowl , mix the butter and brown sugar together until creamed. Sprinkle with the salt and add almost all of the eggs, keeping a tablespoonful [15 ml] to brush over the pie later. Pulse until the eggs are well-incorporated. Pour in the flour while incorporating it gradually. Add the remaining flour and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven at 375°F [190°C].

To make the filling:
Peel and core the apples, then cut them into bite-size pieces. In a very large bowl, mix the apple pieces with the orange and lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar, spices, cornstarch, dash of cinnamon & nutmeg, sultanas (if using), and walnuts (if using). Add a pinch of the spekulaas spice. Sautee in medium heat until it starts to steam a bit. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream & let it cool while you make the crumble. Set aside.

To make the crumble :

175g all- purpose flour

110 g brown sugar

110g cold butter, cut into cubes

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and flour.Mix in butter with a fork or stand mixer ( I prefer to use my hands ) just until the topping is crumbly. Top your pie with this before baking.

Assemble the apple filling in your pie crust and top it with the crumble. Bake for 40-45 minutes and check once the crumble turns golden or brown. Serve with dollop of  whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. Enjoy!

 

Are you a pie person? What is your favorite comfort food?

 

 

 

 

Creating Ambience in your Home

Are you familiar with the good feeling when you finally got home from a long day?

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What’s the aura of your home?

You open the windows and soak the view outside and after kicking your shoes, you lounge in your favorite chair. The familiar scent of your home fills your nostrils. You breathe in and the feeling of sense of belonging…the relaxed feeling, the calmness, right in your cozy own place. Even the taste of your home- made tea , your own favorite mug, the flavor is different from the ones you buy from cafes. It’s all about personal space. I am self-confessed homemaker and for me, creating an aura, a cozy atmosphere in my own place is very important.

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A corner  in our kitchen where we have soothing views of the garden and  ample natural light

Just like style, I believe that creating your own ambience is totally personal. I love it when a simple detail can enhance the overall feel of a room. Be it a lamp shade, a picture frame or a vase full of flowers, it doesn’t matter, the effect always affects your mood. That is why I am a fan of neutral colors and natural lighting from the sun. This is why I love our new home here where we have large windows & doors made of glass.In Germany, curtains are almost rare, totally opposite from the norms in Kuwait where dark,patterned heavy curtains are essential because of the harsh sun.

I can’t claim our home to be completely minimalist ,but it’s almost livable even without the technology disturbances. This works for me since I have a 2 year old kid, where de-cluttering with tons of baby stuff and toys is almost impossible to achieve. Not at the moment. So by keeping things less, it’s less stressful,more appealing and most important –Easy to clean

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A Corner of fond memories of travel and Expat life
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A bathroom with the calmness of greens.It’s only here in Germany where bathroom windows are placed directly facing main streets.

Having an active toddler ushered us to live in simplicity. With the daily chaos and noise from playing, screaming &  running, we’ve been trying as much as possible to bring in the calmness by putting more green plants, keeping our ornaments and decorations to minimum, and keeping our furniture simple and natural. Truly, less becomes more.

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How to create homes with an Ambience .

Our kitchen has the most amazing natural light and I love the views I have when I’m cooking. I watched the sun rises & sets here while I do the dishes,listen to the raindrops, the swaying of the trees, and now, the magical snowfall. Most of the pieces we keep have a sentimental value and putting them in the right places draws us to fond memories of our Expat life.

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What’s the aura of your home?

Ambience is the feeling that you’re creating in which ever place you’re in. Either it has been created by others for you, or self-imposed, you allow that feeling to manifest in your system and to others. As for me, the best ambience to languish is the one coming from your own home. Nevermind the noise, the clutter and the mess–because really, there’s no place like home.

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Our garden in complete whiteness of snow

What about you, what do you think is the impression that others get from your home?

This post is in response to this week’s WP Photo Challenge |Ambience

Are you on Twitter?  follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.Thank you so much for dropping by!

Gästehaus Panorama : A 360° Panoramic stay

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Our Guest cards for the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena

“A 360° Panoramic  surroundings filled with natural landscapes, cozy rooms with  decent amenities, conveniently located, accessible to all attractions in the Zugspitz Arena, and provides a homey atmosphere for my family– This is what I called a “Home away from Home”. The satisfied feeling that I’ve got from our stay in Gästehaus Panorama in Biberwier, Tirol, Austria.”

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Our room view of the Zugspitze mountain in Biberwier,Tirol, Austria
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We have this view while we stand at the entrance of the hotel

If you’re planning for a holiday in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena, then I highly recommend Gästehaus Panorama for your accommodation. I seldom give reviews on places we’ve stayed , since I don’t have time to look further into details of hotels,or share our experiences, but on our recent Winter Wonderland stay in Biberwier,we were just totally satisfied with this place. It really exceeded my expectations, considering that it’s only a 3-Star hotel as per Hotelstars.Eu standards. The whole region is filled with Pension houses and even on Biberwier/Ehrwald area, almost all houses are turned into a family run hotel business. Gästehaus Panorama offered us with something that you can only have once you’ve experienced it . Once you are here you leave your worries behind and feel totally at home .

 

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Picture of the Winter Wonderland Stay

 

Karin, our Hostess did a wonderful job all throughout the days that she and her family welcomed us in their homey  house located at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain.Our reservation went smoothly and we’ve got immediate confirmation. This hotel is ideally located just a few meters away from restaurants, the Marienberg Ski & Snowboarding resort,and 5 minutes away from the beautiful hiking paths.It has a panoramic views of the mountains, the forest, and sparkling springs that flows nearby. A 3- minute walk to the bus stop for all the Hiking & Winter wandern in the region. There’s so much things to do and I had my top 10 Reasons why I love Winter in Austria,especially in this region.

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Cozy stay at Gästehaus Panorama

Our room was located in the ground floor adjacent to the service entrance area where we can leave my daughter’s Kinderwagen and for guest’s ski and Wintersport gears.There is a Infrared Sauna & Massage room right next to our room. We have TV-Sat, a very good wi-fi connection, closets, and its great that our bathroom was clean, with enough fresh towels & even a hair-dryer! It maybe outdated compared to modern standards but I didn’t see any problem with it.

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Hallway in the ground floor

The beds in Germany and in Austria was one of the culture shock that I eventually got used to. I was so surprised to see that  beds here consists of 2 separate mattress, and with 2 separate blankets. Totally weird for an Asian like me who grew up with different bedding arrangement.Always making us feel comfortable, they have arranged an additional bed for my daughter as well, offered to lend their sled, and gave us all the info and tips we need in exploring the area.

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Wall display

Every morning, we have delicious buffet breakfast personally arranged & served by Karin. Everything  with her personal touch. She prepared everything with the help of her kids and I find that so impressive. We were really pampered and treated like a guest in their house and not as a client in their business.My husband was happy with everything and so as my daughter who enjoys all the many choices of cereals, breads, cheeses, and fruits. their orange juice is really good and the best so far that I have tasted! I could even sit there for hours for the view!

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My daughter checking out  the beds

We always have a great time lounging in the Breakfast room because we have an amazing view of the mountains. When it’s snowing, we all kind of speechless just watching how magical the winter wonderland experience we are having. This place is super -value for your money and worth the travel since now, the new Tirol Express Arena have free train connections from Garmisch-Partenkirchen up to Vils. From the Ehrwald station, you can be in Biberwier within 10 minutes. Going to main attractions such as the Ehrwalder Almbahn & the Tiroler Zugspitzebahn, there is a free bus ride to take you there almost every half an hour! Totally convenient for us since we have a toddler with us and this place is super kid-friendly.

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A very hungry guest at the Gästehaus Panorama

We wanted to extend our stay but we have already purchased our return tickets. If we would have a chance to visit Tirol once again, maybe in Summer, Gästehaus Panorama would always be our choice.We were even offered by a free transfer to  Ehrwald station by Karin’s husband and it was really a kind gesture from them. Totally unexpected.

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The postcard that we’ve brought home from Gästehaus Panorama

If you’re heading to Austria on your next holiday staycation, do check out Gästehaus Panorama. Experience an authentic Tirolean hospitality in their house to have an unforgettable Winter Wonderland & enjoy the fresh snow in the Tyrolean Zugspitze region .

Please Check out their great offers for skiers and Kurzentschlosssene with their amazing deals for 3 Nights in Double/Triple/Single or Family Rooms for only 105 Euros/Person from 11:01. – 01.27.2017 including daily buffet breakfast, 1 time Sauna/Massage/Ehrwalder indoor pool, a trip to visit their alpacas & a parting gift.

Hotel Contact details & Address : Gästehaus Panorama- Prof.Giemsa Weg 1, A-6633 Biberwier/TIROL, Austria

Tel. + Fax .: +43 (0) 56 73-25 46/ Tel .: +43676621 92 01

Email : info@gaestehaus-panorama.at /www.gaestehaus-panorama.at

You can also check their Facebook page and they have an App available in the App store:Gastfreund to have instant travel tips, top news in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena region, Food & Drinks , Tourist Attractions and so much more!

 

5 Reasons why hand made greeting cards makes a lasting impression this holiday season

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Christmas project 101 : Personalized and hand painted Christmas greeting cards

There’s something about receiving greeting cards, either by hand or by mail. I couldn’t explain it,  but for me, I find it sooo special to receive a card through snail mail or express. It really becomes a lasting impression. A special memento, a keepsake that is treasured. Traditional greeting cards beats all the technology that we have in right now.Receiving cards is totally different from e-cards,and mobile messages that we can send through internet.Call me traditional but I can never trade the crisp texture of an envelop containing a card than swiping my fingers in my iPhone.

It’s Christmas time once again and one of the things that floods the shops and bookstores are wide arrays of Holidays greeting cards. There’s so many designs and styles to choose from.From family to friends, to business and for general media, you name it, there’s always a card for any occasion.Back then in Kuwait, I couldn’t have this lifestyle because the mailing system is so crazy that there is 99% that mails got lost into doom land. There were numerous times that our mails were lost and it’s so hard to track. Now that we live in Germany where the local postal system is just right at our doorstep, I find another excuse.

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My Christmas greeting cards project this holiday season

 

If receiving cards gives a lasting impressions, how about making and giving it instead,yourself?

This year I wanted to make something special. I wanted to make a craft project that I can really do and not compromise. I needed to squeeze my tight schedule for a craft time for drawing & designing cards. So instead of buying dozens of Christmas cards to be sent out to our dearest  friends and family, I decided to make them instead.

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Holiday Craft project : Watercolor painted greeting cards
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The materials are simple and very handy : Watercolor, colored pencils, construction papers or  parchments, a creative mind and  a lots of love!

Why personalized and handmade greeting cards make the lasting impression this Holiday season? Here’s my  FIVE (5)  reasons ;

  • It shows your style – The type of card, design and the content you share always shows  a bit of who you are.Your personality is delivered through your drawing, handwriting, and even on the choice of materials  you used.Remember, every card is special.
  • A bridge to connect with someone special – As an Expat, we are very good in connecting to far away friends & love ones.But almost all of them through our phones. There’s No better way for me to bridge the gap between love ones and friends than making an effort to send a message to them. This also depends on your location and accessibility to make this happen. Sending mails and cards can be expensive too but it all depends on your budget and lifestyle.
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Few of my personalized greeting cards, all hand made, designed and drawn by me.
  • It has the unbeatable element of Surprise – There’s no undeniably bad reason for having a big surprise when you receive something that is totally unexpected. That moment when you receive a greeting card from a friend that you haven’t spoken for years, that family or relative that live across the other side of the world..It’s all about the element of surprise. It’s a priceless gift and oftentimes, unforgettable!
  • It’s really the thought that counts – Okay , so if you’re not feeling creative or crafty and your artwork sucks? Never mind, for what really matters is the thought of giving. I once received a card for my daughter that is drawn by a 3-years old, it only shows smears and dots made out of colored pens, more like a scratch. But for me, I find it so special.
  • It shows that you care – The act of making it,and picking out a design to make cards shows that you care and you are willing to give a fraction of your time during the busiest time of the holiday season, and that is enough reason to make someone else laugh, smile and feel loved.

Do you still need more reason?

To make cards and to give them away  is simply because its Christmas! and who doesn’t want to feel loved this time? I have learned this mantra : You cannot give what you don’t have.

Have a little love, have a little artwork, spread a lasting impression!

“There’s something about the tactile nature of receiving a card,” says Shelley Patenaude, product manager for season cards. “It says that someone cared enough to pick out a card just for you, hand-write a note, and place it in the mail or deliver it by hand. Unlike a message that shows up on your computer or mobile phone, greeting cards make a lasting impression. You can display a card on your mantle for all to see or keep it forever as a memento. And with the hustle and bustle of the season, a greeting card provides that moment of peace that’s just between the sender and the recipient.”

Do you like to send someone a card this Christmas?

If you like my designs of cards in photos above and you want to receive a FREE hand-made & personalized  Christmas card,just write your thoughts in the comments or you can email me at justbluedutch@gmail.com!

 

 

 

Life without TV

So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.  ~Roald Dahl

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Life without television

For almost half a year now, we don’t own bought a TV.

Yes, you heard that right, almost 210 days now without the Bubble tube in our humble home. With today’s  Plasma & LED flat screen TV generation, these days without television made a  difference in our lives. It looks weird not having it if you are used to having a TV in your house. It’s like not having a smartphone. For me, I don’t have such relationship with TV, nor having it didn’t make me  feel outdated or insecure. Although our guests are wondering why we don’t have it. Since they  don’t  have anything to watch while they ogle in our living room,they can just admire our Solar Eclipse photos beautifully hanged in our wall.

I’m one of the person who can say that I can live without TV. This is a personal choice, and not because I am trying to be different or minimalist.It is as normal as some people can’t live without their phone, their car, coffee, or even Lush’s bath bombs, but some can. It’s not something that you’ll die when you don’t watch TV.When most homes today have one or more TV, adding up the smartphones and tablet technology, I can really see that the concept of having a TV in one’s household depends on personal choices from person to person & their lifestyle.

After all, you’re the only one who can dictate what kind of relationship you can have with television.

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Are you still enamored with Black & white TV?

What kind of relationship  do you have with your TV?

I remember seeing my father fixing our television. He died at a young age and my fond memories of seeing him trying out his best to be the clever Handyman technician-trouble shooting geek to fix our television set when it’s not functioning well. Way back then, flat screens are not yet the fad, but rather TV’s with big picture-tubes. Obviously you can’t hang them in the wall. They come in compartments and stands. My grandmother even owned a TV with partitions. Eventually, it turned into a side table. We loved to watch cartoons in our black  n’ white TV as a family but later on we had the colored one. It is already a prized possession that we have. Colored TV’s on those days are expensive and you need to have a special antenna or subscribe in a cable connection to get nice shows.We have restrictions though, we can only watch a few hours on weekdays and after nap on weekdays. My mother says we can’t watch too much TV because of electric bill. I remember that many of our neighbors doesn’t have a TV yet so they flocked to one of our neighbor who placed their TV in their garden so people can watch some favorite soap operas or sports match.

Life was so simple back then.

Watching TV  means unquestionable happiness, a privilege especially  for someone surrounded with poverty .

When I was living in Kuwait, we had TV provided in our flat. Most flats are equipped with modern televisions and buying flat TV is common for Expats since you don’t have to worry about electric bill.You can have as many as electric appliances as you can. We subscribe to local cable from Philippines so me & my flatmates can watch local news from our home country. Normally we only watch TV during mornings while having breakfast and after work. It’s the only thing you have if there is a Sandstorm. I admit that TV was never a necessity for me. It’s not like that my world would crumble if I don’t watch the latest TV shows or sitcoms. Even with the soaring heat in Kuwait, I managed to be outgoing and spent less sitting in front of it. I known some Expats who can watch  TV all day long and can’t live without it. It was accepted as a “favorite hobby“, right? Our Harris has 2 TV. He would place one of his TV out there in front of his room so he can enjoy watching Football match with his friends while drinking Sheesha. Inside the most traditional tent and Diwaniya Halls in Kuwait are  big flat screen TV where they can enjoy good Arabic Ghawa coffee, tea & dates. Having the TV background adds to the coziness of their habitual Diwaniya.

Watching TV is a  way to temporarily disconnect yourself from your world &  lose yourself  in another dimension, in a medium called TV. One can find a sense of belonging while they’re absorbed watching their drama series, beauty online shopping, or for men–sports. Nowadays, who needs a TV when you have smartphones?

“Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.”

~ Ann Landers

When  we had our daughter, I watched TV as seldom as the raindrops in Kuwait. I even watched news in zero volume! Looks weird, right? For the reasons that I don’t wanna wake up my daughter when she’s napping. Our living room was connected to her room so the white noise from TV is something I try to avoid. They say that letting your child watch TV makes you a bad parent, but what do you call when parents letting their kids watch You tube, nursery videos in their iPad? If you think that watching TV is nothing but a waste of time compared to reading, then what can you call a person who is glued to a computer, or his/her phone? Bottom line is, everything that is excessive, is abusive.

Watching TV can be a me time for others who just want a simple break and time to relax. Going home from a hard day’s work and  to be in your couch , watching with  warm coffee or tea means total bliss.  It is like cuddled up with potato chips with your favorite book. A simple escape or retreating. It’s the same when I absolutely enjoy my own “me time“when I go on my Wandertags,cycling, or baking goodies for my family. I knew someone that instead of watching TV, she just clean, clean & clean.It’s therapeutic for her.

If I prefer reading interesting Blogs, your Blog for example instead of watching TV, does it mean something? After all, whatever medium it is, every one of us has their own ways of “escaping “from this crazy world and signing-in to another world. It becomes a habitual log-in activity.

Do you have a favorite TV show? How often do you watch TV?

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Today was the last day of  Volkfest here in Ingolstadt and although the weather was  grey, it didn’t stop us from visiting once again the Volksfestplatz.  This has been my first taste of Bavarian  Oktoberfest and so far, it’s really good. It’s really more than just   Beer, sausages and huge Pretzel, it’s one of a kind festival , for all ages &  family oriented, cozy and Gezellig as the Dutchie may call it.

Before we say Auf wiedersehen to Oktoberfest, I grab something that really interests me, the German Lebkuchen-the original Gingerbread! Now who wouldn’t be captivated by this yummy looking  heart-shaped cookie? Hmmm Lebkuchenhertz

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Bavarian Lebkuchen, with writing “I like you”

I had my first taste of Lebkuchen when my husband brought some from his business trip in Munich last year. Here in Bavaria, Fall season comes along with abundance of these threats which is clearly seen in the shelves of local supermarkets, along with German baked cakes and pies in food stalls in the city center, and of course, a crowd pleaser in every Volksfest. There’s something very festive when you see these Lebkuchen hearts hanging in Fruhshoppen. You just got to grab one!

The one country that takes gingerbread making to a whole other level, especially for the holidays, is Germany. Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbread. Christmas season is when gingerbread makes its most impressive appearance. The German practice of making Lebkuchen houses (gingerbread houses) has caught on worldwide and is a fun and festive tradition in numerous countries around the world.

They range in size from small saucers to large platters and are strung with a ribbon for easy wearing. Of course they are decorated with the obligatory messages of love: “I love you” (Ich liebe Dich), “You’re my sweetheart” (Du bist mein sußes Herzchen) and “I think only of you” (Ich denke nur noch an Dich) and of course, since we lived in Bavaria, the famous Bavarian phrase,  I like you “I mog di”.

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Lebkuchen, the original Gingerbread cookie

Nuremberg, Germany is considered to be the mecca of gingerbread. Each bakery keeps its recipe a secret. The Lebkuchen (gingerbread) has a Protected Designation of Origin and must be produced within the boundaries of the city. In 1643, the city officially recognized the Lebkuchen-Baker profession by creating the “League of Lebkuchen-Bakers.” In 1645, the league created strict guidelines that commercial bakers had to follow in order to sell their lebkuchen.

Did you know that in Nuremberg, Germany, the quality of the lebkuchen gingerbread was so high that it was used as currency?

Leaving the Oktoberfest grounds without one of these for your sweetie is against the rules. So if you’re in Germany and have seen these yummy threat hanging in one of the stalls and bakeries, go ahead, indulge and have a bite. It is Goodbye for now for Oktoberfest but definitely a warm Hello to Lebkuchen season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going nuts over chestnuts

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Chestnuts in the ground during Autumn

Aside from the sight of dewy cobwebs, pumpkins and dried leaves, Autumn is definitely the season where chestnuts come in the show ,and the best way to find them is by looking down to the ground.Today while I’m with my daughter in the park, and while running after her in the playground, I noticed that some of the kids are hovering around the trees. All of them have a bag and they kept on picking out something from the ground.

They’re picking chestnuts from the ground!!

Way back in Philippines, chestnuts are expensive and only available during Christmas season. I remember in Kuwait, I’ve seen these dark brown nuts in the supermarket and although I wanted to have some, I’m in doubt how to cook them.So I decided to join the hustle and pick some and to my delight, we gather a handful, almost a bowl. My daughter had fun picking up the chestnuts and playing with it.

Now what to do with it? The ever-curious in me runs high so after googling out how to cook it, I decided to try it.

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The bowl of chestnut as my first haul today.

Here are some important points if you wanna try the Caveman-way, I did it by roasting in the oven for 210 deg C  for about 25~30 minutes. The chestnuts will crack & turn brown once they’re done you can smell the delectable aroma .

(I call it caveman way because If you don’t like sweating out & hurting your thumb, then just buy the ones in the supermarket, it taste the same anyway )

1. Carefully cut an X into the flat side of each nut with a sharp, pointy knife, cutting through the shell.

2.Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet for the oven or directly on the grill, cut side up

3.Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until they’re tender and the shell comes off easily.

4.Wrap the hot chestnuts in a towel and squeeze them to crush the skins. Leave them wrapped in the towel for five minutes afterwards.

5.Peel while nuts are warm. Remove the inner skin along with the shell. Reheat briefly if the nuts become hard to peel.

Step # 6 is Enjoy which I omitted and I will tell you why.

Before you devour those chestnut, make sure it’s safe to snack on!!

Evil  Horse chestnut impostors are, in a nutshell, making you wanna vomit. Which means it’s a good time to remember that not all chestnuts are what they seem: Some, turns out to be fake,they are Horse chestnuts — similar in appearance and much more common, but inedible. Horse-chestnut poisoning is rarely fatal, ( as per Web site of Canada’s Nova Scotia Museum )  though effects can include vomiting, loss of coordination, stupor and occasionally paralysis.

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Horse Chestnuts that are poisonous ( Aesculus hippocastanum)

Raw Horse Chestnut seed, leaf, bark and flower are toxic due to the presence of esculin and should not be ingested. Horse chestnut seed is classified by the FDA as an unsafe herb. The glycoside and saponin constituents are considered toxic. Aesculus hippocastanum is used in Bach flower remedies.

The moment I’ve tasted these nuts, it tasted bitter and I knew something is not right. I immediately throw all of it in the bin. Again, there’s really nothing wrong about Googling. But sure thing that your taste buds will warn you, unless anything bitter is delectable for you.

So next time you wanna experiment the same way that I did, make sure you are harvesting the right kind of chestnut,and not the ones who can make you ill. Thanks to this incident or else I wouldn’t know that there is such a thing called “Horse Chestnuts”. Here are some for you to look just in case you are harvesting chestnuts this Autumn. These are based on a home-and-garden information center operated by Clemson University Extension distinguishes good nut from bad nuts.

*Edible chestnuts are like woodsy sea urchins, sporting very prickly burrs with one to several nuts inside. Horse chestnuts are less prickly, more easily handled (and thus, more sinister).

*Chestnuts have long, narrow leaves; horse chestnuts have big, compound ones composed of five to nine leaflets sharing a common stem.

* Chestnuts are starchy (and edible). Horse chestnuts taste horribly bitter. Taste buds description :  INEDIBLE.

*Horse chestnuts, have a nasty scent. Unlike edible chestnuts, their covers don’t pop off easily, which makes them, literally, a tougher nut to crack.

Do you like chestnuts?

Have you ever tried eating something and then it’s just too foul to taste?

 

 

 

Feuillemort & Lessons from dried leaves

F e u i l l e m o r t

(adj.)  Having the colour of a faded leaf.

French- feuille morte a dead leaf

Earlier today , I’ve learned something deep from simply looking at the bunch of brownish-coppery shades of dried leaves,  it’s Feuillemort. Looking at the trees around me, I watched the dried leaves  falling one by one to the ground with a gentle sway of the wind.  In a rhythmic motion, they dance to the call of gravity. It’s the call of the hour. It struck me as Letting go.

What if the trees itself refuses to let go of its dried leaves during fall ? What difference does it make?

Letting go makes room for growth.

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Autumn is the season of letting go, letting go enables us to grow.

A time to toss the clutter, the insignificant “part”of our lives that blocks us from growing.

I admit that I have the feeling restlessness these past weeks. Being in a new place with so many new things around me, sometimes my body & my mind refuses to comprehend.Transition takes time. Integrating on a new culture is a pain in the ass.

Do you know how hard it is when you can’t say what you want to say?  It’s like being in a bubble. You feel trapped. On the other hand, this momentary  black hole gives me time to reflect, to listen to myself. A time to change.

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Letting go gives us a given benefit, the means to focus more on our core–on what really matters to us.What matters to you the most?

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For us, it’s not leaves. It’s dried up love. Crumpled relationships. Shriveled plans. Browning dreams. Something’s died, and we have a choice: will we hold on to it, season after season, while it saps our energy, stunts our growth, and strangles our beauty?

I decided not to.

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Expats are known for packing their luggage. Sometimes ‘living out from suitcases & boxes’. We roam around and travel like nomads looking for greener pastures. Off to next destination. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of packing the “dried leaves” from our past so in the present, it’s still with us. You can change places, but you ‘re still  “unchanged” within. What is your color?

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I hope you find inspiration from the dried leaves as I did today. Let’s take a lesson from the trees, from autumn, and let that old, unhelpful stuff in our hearts fall away. Trees don’t choose to let go, but we can. Any season of the year.

Focus on letting go of negative thoughts, letting go of patterns of behaviour which do not help you, letting go of doing things you think you should but don’t really want to…

Let go of that which you no longer need and give yourself permission to nurture yourself.

Let go.

Are you having a hard time to let go ?

Do you find time to reflect and meditate?

 

 

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