Dutch Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

It´s full of Spring-feels now here in Germany, particularly here in Bavaria. Despite the “cold spell” and rains that we´re having right now, it didn´t stop me from getting myself busy gardening and rambling about our own “Fruhlingsfreude” .We have a little garden and this makes me feel excited . I can see more colors now , the Tulips and Daffodils are blooming and yes, it feels good to feel some sun again.

Speaking of garden inspiration, I kinda remembered this Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden I spotted inside the Keukenhof gardens in the Netherlands two years ago. Its white and blue inspired so I immediately fell in love with it. I think the idea was very original and of course, very-Dutch!

This Delft Blue inspired garden is full of colorful spring blooms and yes–a bit of Delft pottery, and images.On top of the list was these large crockpot-foliage with lots of crispy white Daffodils and Blue grape Hyacinths surrounded with draping Efeu (Common Ivy).What makes it so unique is that it is decorated with broken Delft Blue pottery.What a genius way of salvaging those precious pottery! I am calling it the Delft Blue giant Bouquet! This is the centerpiece in the garden and it sure made a statement!

Delft Blue inspired Spring garden in the Netherlands

Here in Germany, we have a traditional saying that “Scherben bringt Glück” or Broken Pieces bring Luck. I suddenly remember this when I saw this.This old saying applies for newlyweds where they bring old pottery, porcellain and ceramic pieces, old toilet bowls to smash and crack into pieces. They believe that the noise will drive away demons and bad spirits and protect the marriage. Glass in particular is forbidden to throw since glasses symbolize luck that cannot be destroyed or a Mirror, since a broken mirrow symbolizes seven years of bad luck.

Now this made me thought about the House of Mirrors I visited where a lady named Lydia decorated her whole House with broken Glass & Mirror shingles to cover up the mess made up by termites.Seemed like cultural beliefs are clashing.

Anyway, at least these beautiful blue and white Pottery were salvaged from being disposed. They made quite a nice mosaic that serves as a flower bed here.

Delft Blue inspired spring garden in the Netherlands.

I would definitely go for this inspiration. Blue and white are both very calming colors and it fits perfectly to us here just like our White and blue Bavarian Easter Eggs.

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

I have a few blue and white pots and ceramics which I got from our frequent visits in the Netherlands and now I appreciate it even more looking at this Flower bed with different Delft portraits of the famous scenic spots like the Kinderdyk, Windmills and the Dutch Gable Houses .This made me put Delft to put into our places to visit once traveling is okay again.I can´t wait to visit this place soon!

And what to do with old Delft Blue plates?

In the pond they put together all these plates , creating an artistic Lotus plates.This garden looks even more and more fascinating.

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

Of course it won´t be complete without the famous “Dutch couple kissing”!

Delft Blue inspired Spring garden in the Netherlands

To complete the Dutch theme, of course the traditional wooden clogs is reusable as well as pots.

What do you think of Ceramic inspired Spring Garden?

Do you also believe that broken pieces bring Luck?

Until then, Happy Spring and Tchüss!

Tender Beginnings and picturesque Pink

Kirschblüten or Cherry Blossoms

Today is ” Ostermontag” or the second day of Easter here in Germany.Yes, same as Christmas, Germans have two days to celebrate Easter .One day is enough so we have an extra day of holiday. Well, it´s really a very difficult Easter this year because it doesn´t have the freedom from Corona yet.But then, it´s all okay, at least it´s Spring!

It´s lovely, smells heavenly and feels so romantic!

If there were no cherry blossoms in this world
How much more tranquil our hearts would be in spring.- Ariwara no Narihira (825-880)

A Selfie under the Cherry Blossom tree is a must!

The whole world is celebrating Easter and so are we. After a peaceful gathering at home, where we had Easter breakfast followed by the egg hunt for the little girl, we head outdoors to get some fresh air and enjoy some beautiful cherry blossoms. It´s timely, since I observed that around first days of April, cherry blossom trees around our neighborhood and in the parks are due for blooming.The branches are ripe enough to cast it´s yearly spell.

In Japanese, they called them “Sakura” .They doesn´t last long, normally they are gone within a week. Today was totally windy so most petals are being blown away by the wind.I´ve read that even the petals of Cherry Blossoms are edible. Famous brands like Bath & Body works & Rituals have their famous and top seller sets with Cherry Blossoms as one of the ingredient. I tried them so I know that it smelled heavenly! I am wondering how would it taste on cookies, rice balls and Mochi…now this makes me dream of it!

No wonder they symbolize Renewal, but also the fleeting nature of life.

It´s a joy to see them, and you can´t help to feel “romantic” when you see them.People are happy and smiling under the cherry blossoms. People gather around it, smelling it´s sweet fragrance and looking up to the skies.Nature seemed to be doing it´s wonder once again.I watched a couple under the tree making lots of photos and I guess they just simply wanted to enjoy this magical moment same as I did.In Japan, people loved to do picnics and hang lanterns at night.This tradition called “Hanami ” which means Flower viewing.

One old couple are taking countless photos under the cherry blossoms and watching them makes my heart warm. A picturesque pink photo together with your loveones is definitely a must once you see these pink blossoms. Whether it´s your child, spouse or partner, Cherry Blossoms is a love flower. I think we´ve made it as a yearly tradition to make photos under the Sakura blooms. I have a collection of my daughter on its branches , climbing and smiling.It´s a treasured memory, a lovely keepsake.

Despite the Pandemic, we always opt and turned to nature´s beauty, gasping for hope and endurance. It provides us strength and healing.

I guess some cherry trees are suited for ornamental purposes only. In some parts of Germany, they are really a huge tourist magnet.Although the sight of these pink blossoms are fleeting, it´s really worth it.

Bees surround the fluffy flowers and hovering around it, and never letting them go.The soft sun gives it´s more radiance, like wanting to show it off.The branches are wide, and provide a gentle shade to people who sits under it.It´s a momentarily comfort, a swift escape, a fleeting gift.In April the weather can be so finicky and thesepink blossoms doesn´t like rain. Today was cold and windy and I could already see that some blooms are wilted.

In the cherry blossom´s shade, there´s no such thing as a stranger.- Kobayashi Issa

More snapshots of our Pink World these days …

Our cheery blossoms here are nothing compared to Japan and US and other countries.But then I am grateful that we were able to see it´s beauty once a year even for a few days.It is definitely a tender beginnings for us as we see another year and battling the scares of Corona.

Do you have a favourite Spring flower?

This post is inspired by HeyJude´s Life in Colour series :Pink

Creative DIY : A Plantlover´s Adventkranz

My very first DIY Plantlover themed Adventkranz

Well finally, after 5 looonggg years, I finally embraced another old German tradition—der Adventkranz, or simply the Christmas Wreaths! I never bother to have one of those because I thought it´s just a waste of money.This time, I have made one for us this year, with a twist on a Plantlover´s theme since I loved candles, and of course, Plants and everything about Green nature.If you´re not from Germany, you might wonder what is it. If you live here, I am sure you will not miss this one out!

Let me share with you something about this wonderful, cozy and beautiful, another Christmas-sy tradition that Germans love!

My first DIY Adventkranz, a Plantlovers Pallete theme. With a pot of Succulent in the middle and bronze balls to complete the setting!

First, let me tell you a little something about Adventkranz or Christmas Wreath. I thought that “Wreaths” are something very American and only for decorative purposes.I was mistaken because I read that even from old Egyptian myths and traditions, wreaths made of flowers are widely used in Egypt. Same thing with wreaths made of olives, pine, and palm leaves are also widely used in ancient Greece, especially after winning in Olympic games.In Architecture, laurel wreaths are also widely used as ornamental motif as well as in furniture and textiles. I realized now that most wooden furnitures have this ornament!

On the other side, when it comes to “Weihnachten” or Christmas here in Germany, Wreaths or Adventkranz holds a different meaning. A Pastor named Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) thought of something for the children and teenagers without parents in an institution called ” Rauhes Haus“. To educate and teach them to wait for Christmas, he decorated an old cartwheel with 19 small red candles and 4 large white candles.Everyday during Advent, they lighted the small candles and every Sunday , they lighted the big ones. As time goes by, he started to decorate the wheel with green Fir.Branches of Juniper, firs and mistletoes are said to be symbol of unbroken power of life. In Philippines, we have the same tradition of putting a blessed ” Palaspas” , ( in accordance with Palm Sunday) a branch of a palm tree decorated with flowers hanged on doors to “protect” the household from “harm”.

In the early 14th century, candles also holds a significant meanings. They symbolized for new and brighter times. The red candles also signifies the color of blood that Jesus Christ shed for humanity. Things got so modern, nowadays we even have LED candles that lights our houses all the year round without the fear of something get burned.Adventkranz are normally placed in a center table and during Adventzeit, they light the candle and enjoy quiet family times. So from Hamburg, this tradition goes to other parts of Germany and now, even to the world.

My DIY Creative Project : A Plantlover´s Palette Adventkranz

As soon as November approaches and nearing to Adventzeit, Germans have this tradition . I ignored it before but suddenly it caught my attention.Almost every shop that I visited have different design of Adventkranz.And yes, they can be very expensive and I thought that its quite a pity to light up the beautiful candles!

So I decided to made one for myself, another creative DIY Project i said to myself using some materials that I already have with me.Last Saturday I went to our local weekend market and I got a glimpse of natural elements and materials.I love visiting local markets because there are really nice finds there. Look at these Golden mistletoes! They are painted real mistletoes, it costs 5 Euros and the nature wreaths are ranging from 25 – 35 Euros! Yes, they can really be expensive. From shops, they can be more because of those shiny decorations.I thought I made a handmade Adventkranz for myself with recycled materials so I can save more money!

Take a look at this pink Eucalyptus leaves, they are very much in a trend nowadays!
Some of the materials that I have already on hand. An oldie but goodie gold platter, a plastic fir wreath that I´ve decorated yearly as a Door Wreath and a bunch of Green scentless candles.The candle holder I got from Depot.
The bunch of painted Mistletoes and red berries stems that I am going to used to adorn my vases and decor for my Adventkranz.

I experimented with different designs, using different decors and motifs.This one is with a heart-shaped Christmas balls and some Poinzsettia and rose with glitters. I thought it was nice, and looked very Christmassy!

I think it is a great idea to pair your Adventkranz with the motif you have with your Christmas tree or other decorations so it won´t overload your overall Christmas decorations. I don´t like too many decorations and colors especially if you have a small space. I find them messy so I try to minimized to tone down the shimmers and I stick to neutral colors.

Would you like some bright lights in your table Wreath?

Since I loved plants and I have many potted indoor plants, I thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate them in a simple plant-inspired Adventkranz like this photo below.Plants are great accent to anything! It looks even more raw, natural and simple.

White Christmas Adventkranz

With a simple large round candle, a gold owl deco piece, plus a cute succulent plant in one wooden tablet, then its all set. Isn´t it uncomplicated?

What do you think of this design?

Do it yourself Adventskranz or Christmas Wreath

All the deco pieces that I used are already something that I have so I didn´t buy new ones anymore. I love candles, especially the scented ones so that is also no problem. Even in summer I always light them, I just love the serene feeling I got when I see the burning lights

Minimalistic White Christmas Adventkranz

The Adventkranz symbolizes the anticipation for Christmas. With us here, once we lighted all the candles, it means that Christmas is on the door. It works well with children, it´s like a magic show, it is a great motivation to keep them looking forward to opening their Adventskalendars and yes, naturally, the gifts under the tree! Its like a countdown to Sylvester or New Year, only this time, maybe Christmas and New Year would be a little weird!

This year, Christmas markets are already cancelled and considering the part-Lockdown we are having, we are still not sure if we would be able to celebrate Christmas with families and friends because of social distancing rules.But then….we don´t lose hope.It will get better soon.

Germany´s Chocolate Santa

My Taste of a German Christmas

Christkindlmarkt in Germany

Winter Wonderland

How about you, do you something like Adventkranz?

Stay safe friends….Tchüss!

Ladies Run Germany 2020

One of my Bucket list is doing a Marathon Run. Yes, I wanted to earn something like that, I wanted to do running, but then I know it takes guts and sweat. I think I would drop at the first kilometer or so. And nope, I am not looking for a new Hobby because I think I have too many already…but anyway, why run?

Then one day I just decided to do it…

The goal is to run and finish it…

I think it´s just human nature to dream about something, or putting something into a goal, even if its scary. I have a fast metabolism and I can say that I´m a very active person. I can only count the days where I feel sluggish or couching.But I´ve always felt that despite of this, I don´t feel physically fit, I feel tired, exhausted and though I don´t have too much cellulite to loose, I felt like something is missing in my stamina. I read a lot about running and it really strikes to me as something radical.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a numbers person, there’s no way you can ignore the stats on daily running and reduced cancer risk. According to medical science, if you run a mile every day, you have: 42% lower risk of esophageal cancer, 27% lower risk of liver cancer, 26% lower risk of lung cancer, 23% lower risk of kidney cancer, 16% lower risk of colon cancer, and 10% lower risk of breast cancer. Amazing, right?

I didn´t know that running can make me feel so good like this…

Running after all is not all about winning a race. It´s all about taking care of yourself, of finding the inner peace and doing good to your muscles and health being. There are also many cons about it but then it doess more good to your body. I love the fact that it elevates the happiness-induced chemicals in our bodies.

“When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids. “

Besides, who can complain when you are running with a view like these?

I´ve always admire people who are into Sports, esp. runners. Those slim, lithe, strong ladies who run fast as fast as lightning and have beautiful athletic legs.they are invincible! For me, they are like gods, they are resilient and STRONG.I know it requires training, but then I know that what they are doing scares and challenging me at the same time…I´ve always asked myself If I can also do it?How far could I go, 3 km, 5 km, 15km, or 25km?

Running on a sunny day with the view of the River Danube

But that is a good kind of scare.

I actually did not expect my first run to be a virtual run! Of course because of Corona virus. Running with a goal alone is totally different against competing with others. As a beginner, It is a real struggle and no joke.It´s not actually about winning, its about doing something that you have never done before, and this is something that I have never done befogre. I was always hesitant and giving in to that small voice inside me that tells me to quit and don´t do it.

Is cycling better than running?

But then because of the Corona Virus Pandemic, marathon and sport running like this comes with restrictions! Running without the great crowds is also not that bad, in fact, it works for me the best. No distraction, no contact with others. It doesn´t matter where you are, with your friends or alone, Ladies Run Germany is definitely a good cause. This event is only for ladies who wants to run and do Nordic Walking for at least 5km as a start!

Nevertheless, it was a great experience and I absolutely will do it again and again.I think I got addicted to the end feeling when I am purged with sweat, plustered, worn out and stomach- empty! I can´t explain it but it´s a great feeling.When my muscles aches, it´s a kind of hurt that I am proud of. When I saw my dirty shoes and my wet sport clothes goes into the laundry, I know I got rid of something that I never like. It´s kind of getting addictive and I really look forward to run because my body feels better , stronger and healthier!

My Ladies Run Finisher Medal

I know that I finally found what sport I really love to do for the rest of my life. Now that I can still run, then I am going to do it.If I don´t run now, then when ? I am very grateful that I live in a neighborhood that people loves to run and we have great nature to enjoy. There are plenty of running paths to choose from. Aside from my usual leisure walkings, now I have more stamina to do long runs. I run almost 5 times a week, which I did mostly in the morning hours, sometimes late in the afternoon . It actually varies depending when I am free. Running on late afternoon is also great especially when I avoid too much heat from the sun.

Ladies Run Germany is a virtual run organized by Hikimus Events.Once I saw the advertisement about this event, I immediately registered to join the run on July 13, 2020. I only paid 25 Euros for the “Gold” Packet which includes a T-shirt, finisher medal, a certificate, and a chance to win the Event Game. It was an easy transaction and I received my packet on time before the event. I absolutely think that It´s a great idea to have something like this during this hard times.We need to be reminded that our health is our number one priority nowadays and we should do whatever it takes to protect us from Corona and staying fit.It´s great seeing all the other ladies all over Germany doing the same as I did, in fact they did more!

I admit that it was never easy. My muscles ache and my feet hurts. I gasped for air and I felt like giving up on the first days of my running routine.. They say that it takes at least 28 days for you to pick up a habit and It´s true.Everyday I desire for motivation and put back myself together to get it done. What helps me is also doing cardio exercises at home.

I run together with a friend and it was really fun.It helps to use a running App to track your distance goal and your progress each day. I realize that running for a daily mile is something doable–its not always because you want to lose weight. For me, it paves more for more time spent outdoors and staying fit.

You must do the things that you think you can´t do….

I know that for busy mothers like me, adapting anew sport and schedule can be challenging. But then, we need to be healthy as well to take care our kids.That’s an extra advantage for busy women who can’t seem to make other workouts or classes fit their lifestyle.” And remember: The best workout is the one you’ll actually do.

What´s the last thing that you have done that challenged you?

Life lately under Corona lockdown in Germany

The day people stayed home…

What goes around, comes around

The moment that the Corona virus arrived here in Germany, especially here in Bavaria, this saying had been hovering in my mind.Too bad that what goes around is something that we all doesn´t look forward to. It all took us all off- guard. Unprepared , confused, and scared, we slowly moved into social distancing. This saying is totally true in all sense right now. It´s been almost 24 days now that we stayed at home, and each day becomes a merciless repeat of yesterday’s innuendo. Amidst of this global Corona pandemic, we managed to stay safe, healthy and sane. This is the first time that I am personally experiencing this type of hysteria and yes, I have learned a lot. I guess these part of our lives will be set in history so I decided to made a journal about life lately under Corona Lockdown here in Germany.

Memories of past walks

The news are all scary, some data , especially the infections and death rates are even unbelievably unimaginable, but then it all boils down to one: Everyone´s health is at risk.From Asia to Europe, to Us and to far east and through out all parts of the world, the slow process of shutting down is still on its course. We don´t know until when. Now we are all under this big black cloud of wondering what will happen in the coming days and weeks.

March 16 was the first day that we officially ” go under lockdown” here in Bavaria because of Corona virus containment plan. I think Bavaria was even the first region to declare this emergency measure to prevent the spread of the virus.Supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals are open and limited office are on operation, and that includes my husband´s office. Yes, he still goes to work every day. He does most of the shopping and right now we can´t do anything about this situation. His work cannot be done thru homeoffice so we have no other choice. We practice proper hygiene,wash our hands frequently, shower immediately after he came home. I even sewed masks for all of us so we have protection whenever we go out.We wear masks and gloves when we go out and take precaution all the time.

Life under Lockdown

Outside, people got into panic. Everyone is buying toilet papers and doing ” Hamster kaufen” or simply panic buying. I heard from my colleagues that they did bulky grocery shopping and stocked up on potatoes, pastas, rice and other food. I couldn´t believe it.The shelves in supermarkets got empty. Even bread is out! Paracetamol is out from Pharmacies as well. Disinfectants and sanitizers were all gone.It was crazy.The Pandemic had arrived in Germany!Talking about masks, it was completely obsolete here.

Almost empty streets

Friday, March 13th, the government announced that effective Monday, March 16th, all schools and Kindergarten to closed up until Easter holiday. That would be almost 2 weeks!! I almost didn´t believed it once I heard about it! My worry during this time was who will take care of my daughter while we go to work. What is happening outside tells me that there is really something ” serious” going on. At work, more and more conferences were cancelled because of the scare of Corona virus.We were even advised that if we are sick, we should not report to work. The following day, the Hotel where I am working urgently announced that we´ll be closing for the meantime due to the Corona pandemic and all staff will be on ” Kurzarbeit” until further notice. Kurzarbeit here in Germany means short term work , or simply put as an agreement between the employer and employee about a temporary solution on a crisis like this.We´ll be earning less because we´ll have shorter hours of work, we won´t lose our jobs and part of our income will be compensated by the German government. On the other hand, I was relieved hearing about this, because it means my child will stay at home with me and therefore we will have less risk to be infected. Although it´s not the perfect situation because my husband still goes to work every single day. He´s still on the risk because he goes out everyday.

Someone mediated…someone prayed…someone met their shadow…

We feel the pressure of this and it is never easy. I felt that life outside is never safe anymore. I´ve went out a couple of times to get something from a store and it never feel safe as it is before. There´s really a big change

Today is Wednesday already, the 8th of April and on Sunday comes Easter. Corona suddenly changed the way we will be celebrating Easter.The “Ostermarkt” was already cancelled, together will all the other public events here in Ingolstadt. Days comes quick and ends without no doubt, fast and fleeting. We have sunny days over here and we spend most of our times getting some much needed sunshine in our little garden and my kid played in the Terrace , cycle or ride her roller. We hung eggs in our yellow ” Forsythia” bush and probably make an easter egg hunt in the garden.

We begin to think differently…

When I told my daughter what is going on and why we didn’t bring her to Kindergaten, she just said ” Oh then we are going to do the 30 days challenge Mama! ” She meant that everyday we need to do something creative, more playtime and learning exercises! Indeed we will and we ought to be. Day after day we get creative and bent on learning while Kindergarten is closed.Quarantine with kids is a lot of work but we try to stay positive. She´s supposed to start school on September so we busied ourselves and devoting at least 2 hours doing exercises. It is not always easy being stuck at home with an active child, but then I explained to my daughter what is going on and she slowly understands the need for social distancing. One day while playing in the garden, one of her friend passed by and the 2 girls wanted to hug each other and suddenly hesitated after a quick look…it all looks and feel strange now. I guess it would take a little while to go back to the usual norm.Probably soon…but definitely not yet now.

Spring arrived in the corner and promises the gift of healing.

On the other side, quarantine is by all means welcomed by myself.I see it as a time to go back to my roots and really dig in to what really matters.

Family matters…Staying healthy matters…communicating to loved-ones and friends who are far away is important. Caring during this time is important.

I am not going to deny the fear that I feel everyday. I think I´ve prayed more and more than I ever praxed in my life.The day after lockdown was announced, I got sick.I catch a bad cold and on the next day, my voice was totally gone. I have no idea what to do.I decided to call my doctor quickly and ask if I could visit for an urgent check up. In the clinic there was already an announcement that we need to observe ” Abstand” or social distancing. Meaning, we need to put space, a physical distance between others. In supermarkets as well this is very evident. There was a big bottle of disinfectant right on the door for the patients to use before and after leaving the clinic. The “corona scare” is totally evident everywhere. Turns out that I had an infection in my tonsils and went on antibiotic.I kept watching for other symptoms but that God I get better just after 3 days. In time of Corona, a simple cough is seen like a deadly stigma, it creates a wall and unsolicited looks and stare from others. It is an uncomfortable feeling. The feeling of isolation is totally different when you got sick in times like these.

I learned new ways of being.

The worries that my family, my husband and my little daughter would be put into the risk and everything kept me always on guard. Nowadays I think I am cleaning and disinfecting the whole house more than I did before. The more that I listened and watch news all over the world, the smaller my perspectives become so I tried to limit now myself from stress of media exposure. I decided to filter what I feed my mind and what I feel. I can still be well informed about the virus and not be stressed by it. When I have ” free time”, I absorbed myself with writing drafts in my Blog, I still have lots of unfinished stuff to be done. It´s been ages since my last post and I feel ashamed of this neglect. I painted a lot until I ran out of paints, cooked meals for my family, everyday we read more, hugged more. We always find ourselves looking for ideas to bake.I tidied up the garden and tend to my plants. That gave me unquestionable peace. I am grateful that at least we have a little space to breathe and my daughter has a place to run around.

A new life..new beginning

Living with plants have reminded me that nature has its own course to follow. They know the times very well. Their time to sprout new buds and leaves really signals growth and hope, reminding me that all of these, shall soon pass.The sunshine flooded our living room and terrace nowadays.It felt good to do some BBQ in the garden and quick chat with the neighbors.With short moments like these, I am reminded to be grateful, to move on and keep my sanity.

How about you? How was life lately under lockdown?

Seven hues of Blue Paintings

Abstract Painting ” Turquoise Dreams” 25 x 30 cm

Finally Autumn had arrived in Germany. Long enough, the “Goldener Oktober”( or Golden October) becomes November rain. Everyday here in Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, it seems that the skies loves to hibernate, clothed in dark clouds and keeps on raining! It’s official : The sun is on vacation and cold Rainy days are doing his massive work.

Funny because I am often daydreaming of warm sunny days. More of Spring actually! While the cold reality is biting me to the bones, I opt to do things that I love. Which is— being productive! Day by day, I try to do what I think I can’t do. I feel lazy many times, procastinating and giving in to excuses, or I am just totally exhausted from daily chores and demands from work. The colorful trees and foliage outside are standing still , braving the creepy cold and probably dreading for the dark Winter to clothed them. Many trees are already bald, but few ones are still holding on, with two to three leaves holding on tight. It seems like letting go for the last phase of seasonal changes takes time.The gush of winds and the mainstay of “regenwetter” {rain weather } and November rains, fog and short days are my constant company, but then, I have suddenly created my series of “Seven hues of Blues ” acrylic abstract paintings. So you see, something positive came out from this gloomy weather.

With my paintings– they are all bright sunny blue! Full of tropical hues, Carribean-sea-foamy textured layers of Turquiose shades, and full of love affair with waves and sea is the mood of these pieces.

It’s been quite always busy nowadays. Juggling family, work and life really makes everyday a rolling ball of energy. This year had been quite a productive year for me, in all aspects! Honestly, at the end of the day I feel so tired that when I sit in front of my laptop, I barely can’t think. Sleep was my daily dose of medicine. When my free days comes, I managed to paint. I still loved to paint my dreams and I am not letting go of it. I was talking with a colleague about my painting and then he asked me “Why do you need to paint and make those?” I just said,” Because it’s what I loved to do.”

What do you loved to do?

The long wait of drying time…

I’ve been listening lately to Queen’s music, rediscovering their classics. I have always loved classic rock and during the time that I am doing large paintings, these music have helped me, inspired me in a way. Queen’s songs are stuck in my head for days, and weeks. It’s funny because my little daughter is already humming and singing “Don’t stop me now..”or “Another one bites the Dust, and “I want to ride my bike ..”! Similar to music, abstract paintings do not have clear, expressible meanings by words. Actually, as a painter, I couldn’t explain it quite well. It’s always been an enigma to me. So its really up to you to found its meaning.

For me, the process of creating it from the base paint to the series of layers are the most memorable part. I am always excited to what would it look like in the end. In my mind I have an image that I wanted to convey in my painting, sometimes I managed to bring it out, sometimes it takes a long time to express it.
Each piece of painting is a memory, inspired by a specific day, describing my moods and feelings like diary notes.

Each piece carries a bit of me, of my feelings and my emotions that’s why its priceless and special to me.


Seven seas of blues

As of this time, I am still in the process of updating my listings in my shop. It will take quite some time but these pieces will soon be available for you to view in my online Gallery. I have made many new paintings and I am excited to share it all with you.

Feel free to comment below what do you think of these pieces! I would really appreciate it.

Thank you once again and until next time. Tschüss!

Guten Appetit! White sausage for Breakfast?!

Typical Bavarian Breakfast
Weisswurst, sweet mustard and a freshly baked Pretzel!

Today, 3rd of October is a national holiday here in Germany. We are commemorating the “Tag der Deutschen Einheit”or the German Unification Day. The day of coming together of Germany as one country. The time when the Berlin wall fell and East and West Germany finally reunited to become one solid nation as it is now.No more cold war. No more divisions. As the whole world know, Germany had a share of tragedies, morbid war stories and dark past. But now everything is different. It is a new Germany and became a home for many migrants, foreigners, including me. But then this post is not about history, its all about Food! Food that Germans and Ausländer like me enjoy here everyday!

So I thought of writing something about this land that became my home for the last 3 years up to now. Germany is really more than Football, great cars, castles, and Autobahn. This beautiful country has lots of worthwhile places to see, things to do and great nature and yes—lots of delicious food that meets more than the eyes and appetite!

Do you want to know another special about Germany? What do Germans eat for breakfast?

What’s in their table for breakfast?

Pretzel with butter, sauerkraut and sausages!
Always a perfect combination.Mahlzeit!!!

Beer, cheese, sausages,musli and bread, lots of dark, seedy breads; these are the staples in every German table every day. I am also a certified convert now. I have been converted into this German, or rather Bavarian diet. Believe it or not, I think I eat more bread now than I eat rice!

A typical German breakfast includes different kinds of cold cuts ( ham, bacon, salami etc.), different slices of cheese–Emmentaler, Gouda, weiss Käse ,camembert,cheddar cheese, Obazda and sweet mustard. They also love sliced veggies like paprika, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Of course Germans never forget to eat bread ( Brot) or Brötchen in many different sizes plus freshly bakes Pretzels! There is no other taste that I love other than Bavarian Pretzels–they are really good.With bread, they love different kinds of marmelades, spread cheeses and butter. Some people love also to eat Musli and jogurt plus sliced fruits.All of these should come with a warm cup of Coffee or tea.
Do you love the German way of having breakfast?

But do you know that somewhere down south, people eat something “unusual” before they start their day?

Is that an orange juice? apple juice? or lemonade?!
What do you think of the Beer culture of Germany?

I am living now here in Bavaria ( or Southern Germany) for almost 3 lovely years now and one thing that really caught my eye is the traditional Bavarian “Weisswurst Frühstuck“or in English we can say it as “white sausage breakfast”.

This beloved Bavarian breakfast is composed of white sausage boiled in water, lots of sweet mustard (senf) , freshly baked Pretzel and yes– would not be complete without a Weissbier ( or wheat beer!). Some omit to drink beer but normally you can always find this breakfast meal in restaurants, bakeries and during Volksfest or festivals. During weekend markets, there is always a food stall that sells these combo and it’s pretty cozy to see them eating this way. Add the fact that people here are seen in Dirndls and Lederhosen almost as often as they enjoy sitting in Beer gardens!

Guten Appetit! Typical Bavarian, Typical German. Leckeres Frühstuck!

Every country has its own delicacy when it comes to breakfast and main dishes they eat everyday. Way back home, we opt for a warm breakfast. This means our love for everything with “rice” seemed to be a normal choice. Fried rice, with sunny side up eggs and hotdogs, sometimes with “Tuyo” (dried fish) ,a cup of Coffee and a slice of mango or bananas . In Holland, I’ve learned to eat bread with “Hagelslag”or chocolate sprinkles. I remember my days in Kuwait, we eat lots of Khubz (or Arabic bread) with almost everything , of course with milk, Chai and Gahwa coffee.

Ein leckeres Frühstuck! ( A deliscious breakfast!)

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

What is the native specialty in your place?

More of the Food culture in Germany in these Posts :

The land with a thousand Sausages

870 -Year Old Historic Sausage Kitchen in Germany

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Have you enjoyed this post?

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The Art of Handwritten Mails

When was the last time you’ve received a handwritten mail or a card? or a postcard with a distinct handwriting of the one who send it to you? Doesn’t it feels great, your eyes are wide with wonder as you gaze to an envelop addressed with your own name on it, a mix of wonder and surprise…

You deserved to feel special once in a while
We all could use a little bit of Snail Mails

Few days before Christmas I received a surprise mail (snail mail) from a dear friend from Finland.One of my favorite Blogger, thesnowmeltssomewhere sent me a little surprise which turned out to have a “big love” inside it, she shared her traditional Finnish “Little Christmas” with us. I was feeling ecstatic and grateful that I felt special. It feels good to be thought of, especially from a person who lives across the miles. We haven’t met personally but we shared thousands of messages about life, babies, worries, and laughs! Last year, my other good friend ,Ann, from Grubbs n’Critters sent me handwritten mail together with a box of different spices, which up to now lies in my kitchen and is a daily addition to my cooking!It’s hard not to remember her whenever I cook something with cardamon or fennels! We seemed to be modern-day-Penpals or Penfriends, minus the videocalling.

Handmade and self-crafted cards for all occasions!

Personally, I am a huge fan of snail mail and I totally love it! In High School, i remembered that our class have this Penfriends around the World and we’ve got the chance to have a Penfriend from different countries. It was totally snail mail long time ago. I think I received a mail once a month. I had Penpal from Germany and Finland. Through time I lost in touch because I moved to different places but then the whole experience lingered.

Last year I have also shared about my project to make Handmade Christmas cards to be sent to friends and families during the holidays. This year, I think I’ve sent 40+ cars to 3 different continents and approximately 10 different countries! I worked on this project normally 3 weeks before Christmas. I dedicate 2 weekends to paint and to craft the cards and personally sealed them and post. That is how far I’ve remembered the process. I painted them one by one, and write on each of them personally. I write to each one of them personal message and it really boost my creativity. A simple card becomes so meaningful, so treasured. here’s a snap of the cards and letters we received by post this Christmas. Totally a whole lotta love!

Love in an envelop: Schneckenpost or snail mail

I think that when we write things personally by hand, and not by typing, we retain the original information better. It boost our self-worth and creativity. I even got a new calligraphy pen to enhance my handwriting skills! Just like holding a brush (Pinsel) while painting, you give something from yourself out of what you’ve written.Nowadays that we often used our fingers to tip and swipe on our smartphones, writing manually becomes a whole new experience! I am always impressed with a person who has a unique handwriting. It’s a distinguished character and totally unforgettable.

It’s a whole lotta LOVE!

I am sharing this post to tell you about my personal experience about snail mails. Schneckenpost as we called it here in Germany or snail mail (Post) has totally become vintage compared to the high technology gadgets that we are having now especially with smartphones, iPads and computers. The young people today maybe are totally oblivious of using it or people only knew Post because of Online shopping.I read an interesting article about this and if you have time to kill, you can read it Here.

I have no problem having all these instant technology that we have.In fact, this new millenium of E-commerce and its benefits are one of the technological advances we all enjoy. I value its benefits since I live so far away from my family in Philippines and I’ve lived almost a decade as a “foreigner”in other lands. Emails, money transfers, voice mail recordings, chats via Whatsapp, Kakao and Viber are such a convenient way to get in touch! But there’s something totally different from snail mail. It’s more on the sentiments and personal feelings. From the time that you write your letter, lick the envelop , put stamps and go to Post Office to send it—it’s both a tedious but an exciting journey! The thrill of opening your mailbox and finding a square envelop with stamps and you search where it came from is like opening a present. A journey of wonder.It’s more fun!

From the Little One with Love

When we write to someone, I must say that it increases our levels of happiness and feelings of gratitude. When we think about a person, we search in our memory , the link that bonds us and the gratefulness that we want to rekindle, or to give with this process. Just imagine the same feeling you have the very first time you’ve ever received a “Love letter”from your sweetheart or a letter from your partner that is far away from you, or a surprise letter from someone you’ve never seen for a long time. Snailmail letters bridges the distance!The connection and meaning is far deeper than any mbps from Internet! Handwritten letters and cards spreads love and definitely makes you smile.If you want to let someone know you care—send them a handwritten card, letter or even a simple note.

Give it a thought, don’t you think that simple gestures—done randomly–adds more excitement to a dull moments? Last month, as I was rushing to go to work I found out that our basement storage had a pipe leak and I hurried up to inform my husband to call and inform the “Hausverwaltung/meister” who will fix the leak. By the time I got home, I found a handwritten note from my next door neighbor writing and informing me that he also had seen the leak and called the Hausmeister. His simple gesture really showed that He cares. Aside from the random gifts for the little one which he left on our door, I find his gesture a very valuable one.

It’s the care that comes out from our actions that signals love.

One day we received a handwritten letter from my 4-year old daughter! Yes, she already sent us a letter with a stamp! In the Kindergarten, they make small trips and one of it is to visit the Postal Office. The children are asked to draw and write something to their parents and sent the letter by post. I kept this letter up to this day. When my daughter was born in Kuwait, where we don’t have any relatives, we were totally on our own. My parents-in-law collected handwritten cards from relatives in Holland and sent all the letters to us in Kuwait ( not to mention all their loving gifts for the baby). I was totally speechless.My mother-in-law makes very beautiful handcrafted cards for all occasions, stenciled and crafted by hand. I think that’s beyond hobby—it is a way to show her love. I think she is successful in her craft because she transmit this through her cards!

Crafting for Mother’s Day

We all feel the rush and we have all the excuse to say we are busy. Our schedules are packed, full and noted. Just like when we rushed to checked all our emails everyday and check Facebook, Instagram and chats. We spend time, we decide on how to spend it actually, the way we want it. We all have our errands to do and time flies when we are on the go. I know it’s not that easy to sit and gather our thoughts to write something, compose a letter or to even create something for a special person. I have this stress to create a letter in German ( a challenge in fact!). I try to find the right words.But come to think of it—isn’t it awesome to discover how someone thought of every single detail, just to make someone feel good.The more frequent you do it, the less you think it’s hard, it only takes a little effort.

So how am I doing it?

If it’s not your hobby or you think that “I don’t have the talent to do it!” then you don’t need to panic. Snail mail writing should not come as a stress. For me, I avoid buying the overpriced ready made cards that are really overpriced. I look for craft materials, nude and classic papers, stamps, unique decorating materials that I usually find it art shops, or in flea markets. I even used traditional materials as recycled papers, dried leaves, pins and clippers etc to add more personal touch. I love motif papers or paperDeco that can easily folded into your base for a card. I invested in a good calligraphy pen of different shades and some trendy stickers.Getting started is not as hard as you think!

I have a challenge for you:

Do you want to start and participate in a “Gratitude project”?

Think of someone you want to give a surprise. Someone that you love, or someone that you really thought of. You can start to gather their mailing addresses and create your handmade, handwritten letters, cards or just a simple thank you note and send it. It doesn’t even need a special occasion to send a letter to someone you missed, loved or to a new friend . You will see by your own eyes the result and impact of your action.A snail mail is slow, ( maybe if it crosses continents!) or slower than a click and swoosh from electronic mails, but you must know that it is more memorable than other things.

Once you’ve done this, tell me how does it made you feel.

We are on the countdown to Silvester, few more hours and we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s time to reflect on doing something radical or out from ordinary in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!

Until then, Tschüss!

National “Romantic” Tulip Day!

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Tulip picking !

Are you prepared to gather your own  FREE Tulips?

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Tulips in bloom in Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

Is it Spring already? Nope, its still freezing over here in Germany, as it is still winter here in Europe, but in the Netherlands, you can catch an early glimpse of Spring! As a yearly tradition in Amsterdam, once again this year, the TULPENDAG or the National Tulip Day is set! What makes this super exciting and colorful? You can gather your own Tulips, as much as you can, and yes—all for FREE!

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Memories from Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

In lieu of this year’s theme “Romance“, Tulips are such in tune with any romantic occasion. I ,myself love Tulips no matter what the occasion is. Most especially when it is given to me as a gift. Just last week, I got a bunch of Tulips and when I put it in the vase, I can’t help myself comparing the bulbs from the gorgeous Tulips I have seen back in Holland. They are totally in different genes !!

Tulips are such a nice token to give to someone you love.It has a universal symbolism of purity, love and beauty.Though it can be super expensive in other countries, in Holland, tulips has its own pride.

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On January 20, the Dam Square will once again be filled with over 200, 000 Dutch tulips ! On this day, Tulip growers will wow the world once again by creating a temporary Garden right in the touristic Dam square. From 13.00 to 16:30, so if you are in Amsterdam or you have a chance to visit this beautiful city ( like I did!), then grab everyone along with you to see this event!

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Photos are from my last year’s visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, in Holland!

What about you? What is your favorite flower?

Have you ever heard of a Tulip Movie? I found it very interesting and if you love Tulips, then this is something for you to learn more about the pride of Holland.

Enjoy watching!

Spekulaas : Dutch’s old time favorite soul food.

 

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My First time ever baked Spekulaas Cake ( Spekulaas Koek)

Thanks to my Dutch husband who introduced me to a hidden Dutch goodness, the Spekulaas,  or the longtime Dutch soul food. When it comes to food, the Dutch cuisine doesn’t boast of a world-renowned foods, but when you take a closer look at what’s in a typical Dutch’s table, you’ll be able to understand why Krentebrood, Kroket, Patat, Poffertjes, and Stroopwafels are humble example why you should taste them at least once in your life, at least if you have the chance! I remember the first time I sat on a Dutch table and devoured with delight some home-made meatballs with Rode kool met appleltjes. It was a delightful meal, my first time ever to taste a red cabbage— with cinnamon-tangy apples!

What is Spekulaas ?

I had  Spekulaas was when my parents-in-law  visited us in Kuwait and brought us a handful of Spekulaas goodies from Holland three years ago. There were Spekulaas cookies, Gevulde koek spekulaas and all sorts of pastry cakes spiced with Spekulatius. There was no way we can find Spekulaas spice in Kuwait, let alone the genuine spice composed of cinnamon ( zimt) nutmeg ( muskatnuss), cardamon, ginger, white pepper,and ground aniseed.  I have seen the  Lotus Speculoos  cookie spread ( Belgian origin)  sold in selected supermarkets like in Carrefour, but then it is not the authentic Spekulaas flavor. Since then, Spekulaas became a favorite of mine among Dutch food, creating a statement of soul food. It is not just a winter food.  It’s hard to explain, the taste, the smell, and the rich flavor, it is unique, and I found it to be  decadent for me. Here in Germany, fortunately, Spekulaas and spices are widely sold in most supermarket, all year round. But during Fall, and the Autumn baking season starts, Spekulaas, along with Lebkuchen and Stollen floods all the shop.

Last week, my daughter had the Lantern parade celebrating Martinstag (or St. Martin). The kids along with their parents walked in the dark with their lantern and singing songs. Despite the rain, cold and darkness, it was a meaningful experience. Parents are  also asked to bring some bakes goodies along with kinderpunsch and glühwein. I wrote Spekulaas Koek for our share! I know I must be crazy, because first and foremost, I have never tried making Spekulaas cake, and secondly, I don’t know how to do it! This is totally something bake from scratch!

But as the saying goes ” When there’s a will, there’s a way! ” so  definitely  I found a way! I did my research and get the ingredients and then I prepared to bake Spekulaas ahead of time.I got the Spekulatius spices from Holland. Sometimes I even springkle some in my home made waffles and pancakes!

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Our house feels heaven after I took this out from the oven.

Speculaas or speculoos is one of the Dutch culinary specialties. Normally, it is a spiced biscuit, made with wooden forms or moulds. They are typically winter food, and especially associated with the feast of ‘Sint Nicolaas’ or Saint Nicholas, the original Santa Claus. Along with their infamous Chocolate Letters and Kruidnoten, Spekulaas signals one of the best celebrated feast in the Netherlands  before Christmas;  the Sinterklaas. This feast is celebrated on 5 or 6 December. Speculaas is very old, the spices used date from medieval times.

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Home made baked Gevulde Koek Spekulaas

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My home-made Gevulde koek with Almond filling 

The name seems to derive from the Latin speculum (mirror, the biscuits had the carved figure of the mould in mirror image). Old wooden biscuit moulds show biblical scenes, historic events, ships, windmills, mermaids, and of course images of Saint Nicholas with the small children he had saved according to the legend. Single youngsters could receive a ‘vrijer’ (male admirer/lover) or ‘vrijster‘ (female admirer/lover). According to some this could be considered as a marriage proposal from the giver. These large speculaas dolls (Dutch’s version of  Gingerbread cookies) were often decorated with coloured icing, silver pills and even leaf gold.


The speculaas biscuits from before, say, 1850, were made with a very hard dough containing rye flour and honey.  Be warned though that these biscuits were so hard they could only be eaten if they were dissolved into a sweet (and tasty) porridge.
I enjoyed dipping these hard cookies in my coffee just to make it soft a bit. I noticed that they can also be stored for a long time in an airtight container.

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Decadent blanched almond on top of Gevulde Koek Spekulaas

So I brought the baked Spekulaas cake and Gevulde Koek Spekulaas to my daughter’s St. Martin’s party and  placed it along the German ‘s trays of Lebkuchen, onion breads, macaroons, pizza breads, pretzel and other home made goodies. Here in Germany, I observed that only healthy options are served to feed the children. the parents of the children in the Kindergarten are giving support to the school staff and this way of potluck is a great thing to enhance social aspects. Junk food and soft drinks are totally absent. I kept on looking if people would eat it or it will be left ignored. I stand there and watch each piece dissappear from the tray. When I only saw two to three pieces left from the Gevulde Koek, I felt relieved. It made me feel satisfied that my Dutch- inspired baking was consumed well and I was able to share some Dutch goodness.

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Dutch’s ultimate Soul food: Spekulaas

To get the best verdict : The Dutchman himself tasted and devoured the Spekulaas! I gave a few slices to our  German neighbor as well and they only replied with “Lecker” ! ( or delicious ).

I guess anything made with Love taste better, Do you agree? Are you also fond of home made cooking.

 

Do you like Spekulaas?  What  is your favorite comfort food for winter?

 

If you are inspired to do some Fall baking and bring some Dutch flavors in your home, you might want to try making the traditional Dutch Apple Pie ( Appeltaart ) and bring some crazy colorful Rainbow cake.

Guten Appetit and wishing you a lovely week !

 

Tschüss!