A royal treat

The American have the fourth of July, the Irish have Saint Patrick’s Day. And the Dutch have Queen’s Day. Every year on April 30, the Dutch celebrate ‘Koninginnedag’ (queen’s day), a national holiday to commemorate the birthday of the country’s (former) queen. Everywhere in the country there are a lot of festivities, musics and street parties. Children and adults sell their junks on the street: they name it ‘the free market’, because only on this day the Dutch may sell things without a license. And the Netherlands is colored orange.

In the big cities the festivities start from April 29, at 6 p.m. Traditionally, Utrecht have one of the biggest free markets that also start at this hour. So last night I visit Utrecht’s free market until it got so dark that I couldn’t see a thing anymore. Then I went for a drink and a dance at one of the many street parties.

Here  are some of my Queen’s Day treasures.

I love music boxes, especially if it’s a Merry-Go-Round

 

A wooden fishing-game: I think this toy will be a wonderful gift for my niece and nephew. I can’t wait to give it to them.

Today I was about to celebrate Queen’s Day again with friends, but it turned out to be a very sunny and warm day. I was working in the garden, reading some books and decided that I’ve had my share of celebration for this year. I didn’t want to go to downtown in a very crowded place. So I cancelled my appointment and went on illustrating in my garden instead. Am I getting old? Probably. But after a drink of a cool pink lemonade I decided I made the right decision.

Even my orange cat Chelsea agrees with me to just have a lazy Queen’s Day in the sun

Meet Alice

Work in progress

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice very earnestly.

“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”

(Lewis Carroll (1865) Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

Last lazy Sunday afternoon project: pimping an old and ugly teapot with fabric. I got the idea from the book ‘Everything Alice: the Wonderland book of makes and bakes’ by Hannah Read-Baldry and Christine Leech.

The book contains lots of arts and craft projects and recipes based on Lewis Carrol’s most beloved book, such as a cupcake sewing box, Mad Hatter Hats, March Hare tea cosy, Cheshire Cat-sandwiches and giant macarons. I intend to create a lot of these projects, starting from the fabric-coated teapot turned flowerpot

The instruction in the book suggests to use universal glue to apply the fabric on it’s surface. The problem with the teapot I chose is that it’s made of vitreous enamel. The result is that the fabric hardly stick to the surface. So I applied super glue at the tips of the fabric. Later, after I have done some research, I found out that Mod Podge is actually the best choice to work with. Or you can first paint the material with a base coat and then glue the fabric bars.

Teapot before

Teapot after

At first, I’m not really satisfied with the result, because I’m a perfectionist (something I have to let go).  But after two days I decided I shouldn’t be too hard on myself: after all vitreous enamel is a difficult material to work with.

If you want to pimp your own teapot, you need to have a fabric of aproximately 20”x20”. The other requirements are ofcourse a teapot, scissors, Mod Podge (or any other glue you like to work with), paintbrush (or any other applying material for the glue you choose) and varnish. Cut the fabric in bars of 2”x4”, glue it and apply on the surface.

Book image Everything Alice: fabric-coated teapot turned flowerpot

You can even pimp old furniture with fabric instead of paint. Use wallpaper glue instead of universal glue or Mod Podge.

Book image Everything Alice: fabric-coated furniture

Image of some of the loveliest creations of the book ‘Everything Alice’:

Book Image Everything Alice: dressing up Alice and White Rabbit

Book Image Everything Alice:
Left: the white rabbit-teddy.
Right: Teatime jewelry styled in a miniature dollhouse

PS: the site of Hannah and Christine provides some wonderful work of others with their own Alice creations. Just go to http://www.everythingalice.co.uk/ and click on the menu ‘Your Alice’.

Dear Diary

I found something! Actually, it found me.

Daphne’s Diary: the beautiful Victorian cottage of and handmade by Sandy Foster

I accidentally bumped into a magazine rack in a shop which name I’m not going to reveal. So a lot of magazines fell on the floor. As I knelt down to clean the mess I made, suddenly one of the magazines caught my attention. And before I knew it, I was sitting on the floor, reading that particular magazine instead of putting all the magazines back to the place where they belong. Until a sales-assistant came to me and asked if everything was allright…  Right… ofcourse sir, I’m allright. Ofcourse I’m allright, I always sit on the floor with a pile of magazines, reading. By the way: I’d like to buy this mag please… Don’t wrap it, it’s for me…

Daphne’s Diary: pictures of the ‘Pinksterfair’ (Whitsun fair) in Slot Zeist (a knight’s castle)

That magazine’s called Daphne’s Diary. It’s a diary in the form of a magazine. The mysterious Daphne published stories, experiences and pictures of her creative world of living, gardening, cooking, traveling, crafting and shopping. It is kinda like a blog in a rural and romantic style. The colour scheme is not blatant or intense, but soft, weathered and rustic. I like the style, it felt like the dreamhouse I haven’t dreamt of yet.

Image from Daphne’s Diary: brocante

Image from Daphne’s Diary: New Blue

One of these days I’m going to post my personal story to this mysterious Daphne. Maybe she’s crazy enough to publish it… ^^

 

(all image are at the courtesy of Daphne’s Diary itself (since my scanner is broke)

Image from Daphne’s Diary: your own story

My vintage tea party at last

Remember a few days ago I was talking about preparing my own vintage tea party? Well, today was the day. I have prepared my own tea party and made some lovely treats. Most of them are from the book ‘The Vintage Tea Party’ by Angel Adoree. My friend Ingeborg assisted me with preparing the food and the decorations.

My friend Ingeborg while baking macarons

This is the list with what we made for this day:

  • French Macarons
  • Cake of pear with dark chocolate
  • Lolly’s of jamsandwiches
  • Tomato-mozzarella balls
  • A flag of sandwiches with roastbeef and cucumbers
  • Welsh Rarebit
  • Green Jasmine Tea with bubbles
  • Lemon and lime granite
  • Lots and lots of tea

We’ve already skipped some treats such as muffins and scones, otherwise it would be too much. But believe me, if it was up to me, I would have made a lot more.

Tea Party by Ima’s World

My friend Joyce while drinking tea the posh way

The cake of pear with dark chocolate really surprised me, though. Usually, I’m not a fan of baked or cooked fruit (except for bananas), but I really love this cake. Or, in fabulous English: ‘tart’.

Here is the recipe of the Cake of pear with dark chocolate. I translated it from Dutch, as my version of the book is in Dutch, so I might have used other words than the original.

cake of pear with dark chocolate, from the Vintage Tea Party book

Cake of pear with bittersweet chocolate

  • 115 gr. Butter, plus extra to grease the pastry mould
  • 100 gr flour, plus some extra
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 175 grams fine granulated sugar
  • 4 small pears, chopped, plus 1 pear to garnish, diced in slices
  • 175 grams dark chocolate, chopped in small slices, plus some extra to garnish
  • 100 ml crème fraîche, to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven till 180oC.
  2. Grease a spring cake tin of 23 cm with butter and cover with some flour. Strain the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Mix in a large bowl the eggs with a mixer till a white, thick mass. Add the sugar and mix well together for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
  3. Heat up the butter in a saucepan until golden brown. Stirr occasionally. Pour the brown butter in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add one-third of the flour and baking powder and mix well together with the eggs and sugars. Stir half of the brown melted butter until batter is smooth. Stir again another one-third of the flour, then the other half of the brown butter and finally the rest of the flour. Stir until batter is smooth.
  5. Pour the batter in the spring cake tin. Pour with some chopped pears and dark chocolate on top of the batter.
  6. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes in the preheated oven until golden brown and until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Serve the cake warm and garnish every piece of cake with some crème fraîche, one slice of pear and some rasped dark chocolate

Note: this recipe is from the book ‘The Vintage Tea Party’ by Angel Adoree.

If you’re not a cooking princess, try making the Tomato-Mozzarella bites. It is really easy and it’s a real treat to the eye.

Tomato-Mozzarella Bites

Using a toothpick or a large barbecue bamboo pick, spear a pomodori tomato, a piece of fresh basil and a mozzarella ball. If you don’t have mozzarella balls, use a large mozzarella and chop it in small squares, like I did. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Place on a serving dish. Mix in a small bowl 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar,  1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Use it as a dipping sauce for the Tomato-Mozzarella bites.

Enjoy 🙂

Today I saw a giraffe and a fish

Today I saw a giraffe and a fish in a hospital…

Okay, it went like this: on the thirteenth day it was Friday. For centuries many has considered it to be an unlucky day. My mum does; she is a constant believer of unlucky numbers and days. And yet, today was the day that she had made an appointment for an examination at the hospital. Don’t worry, nothing serious, just a routine check. Being a good daughter, I have taken and brought her to the hospital and stayed at her place just to be sure.

Usually I don’t like hospitals, but this one I do like. It’s because the hospital is filled with works from different artists. Like today I saw a giraffe and a fish made of paper mache. It’s so beautiful that I had to take a picture of them.

Paper mache giraffe

Paper mache Fish

The treasure Hunt

It always feels like home to your childhood when you  not only visit, but also stay at your parents’ house. Although it certainly is 15 years already since I moved out, still, you know exactly every inch and every corner of the home of your childhood place. In this place my sister and I pretended to be mannequins, in that corner stood my piano and in the hallway near the kitchen our dog used to sleep. Although things are different now, because my mum suddenly has so much space ever since her two daughters moved out and the dog has passed away, but this place will always be ‘my home’. Especially since there’s still evidence that this house once was housed by two young girls.

Childhood memories

There’s also another reason why I love this place. My mum is not exactly the world’s greatest decorator or homestylist in the world – I can think of someone who is least talented than she is – but people always give her stuff. Like me, she loves old and used things. And she likes getting them for free. With all the rooms to spare she has a lot of space to store all these gifts and junks. So everytime I visit her, it’s always a constant treasure hunt to see what kind of stuff she got lately.

Shabby (chic) frame and vintage medicine cabinet

My mum’s magnetcollection

Vintage Tea Party – Judge a book by its cover

On my last birthday I received a book called ‘The Vintage Tea Party Book’ by Angel Adoree (with a name like that you have to be famous, right?). I have seen this book before and I immediately fell in love, so you can imagine that I was thrilled to receive one as a birthday gift.

I fell in love with the cover of the book. Although some may say: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’,  but truly the cover is amazing! The artwork – full of beautiful aquarels of old-style animals, is so inspiring!

The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree

The tea party itself is divided in three chapters: breakfast, afternoon tea and evening (I didn’t know such evening tea parties really exist). And if you think tea is only for the ladies, don’t worry lads: Angel has some recipes of alcoholic brews as well, with tea as a main ingredient. Besides recipes of very nice food and beverage, I really love the craft ideas. There are tutorials how to make your own invitations and thank you-cards, flags and curly aprons.

This Saturday I’m having my very own vintage tea party with two friends of mine. I intend to try some of the recipe in this book. With my tea-set collection the decoration wouldn’t be a problem. However, I can’t decide which recipe I’m going to choose!  The book is full with tasty sweets and drinks that it makes my hands itch, ready to try it all, although I´m sure in some recipe, there will be a challenge.

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea my dear

Sometimes you just take a look at your agenda and know that today is the day that you’re gonna visit an annual fair somewhere in Utrecht, for example. And then you go to the place where this fair’s supposed to, but it’s not there. Is it the wrong address? Is it the wrong date or time? Or are you just dreaming? Anyway, you just can’t figure it out anymore. But while you’re busy getting astray, you come across a second-hand store that you wanted to visit ages ago, but you haven’t visit before because back then, you couldn’t find it. Today was such a day for me. Luckily, the day was not a total loss, because I ran into this beautiful small tea set, just a slightly bigger than a children’s tea set. The beautiful teapot is about the right size for 500 ml tea, and the teacups are so tiny that it would be perfect for espresso or a café dopio. Hmm… maybe it’s an espresso set, disguised as a vintage tea set. I admit, the idea is lovely and I haven’t seen such espresso sets before.

Although I’m the lucky owner of a lot of teapots (unfortunately missteapot.wordpress.com isn’t available, otherwise that would be the name of my blog, because teapots are my passion), and I have made an oath to myself to not buying anymore teapots until I have a decent show-case to display my collection, I just couldnt resist! Now I’m the proud owner of a complete tea set with a sugar-bowl and a milk jug. And it’s for such a small price, even for a second-hand. (Do you often have the feeling that since Julia Roberts wore her vintage Valentino to the Oscars, everything that’s second-hand got more expensive than it used or supposed to?)

So this is a part of my teapot-collection. Believe me, I have more, lots more.

I só need a showcase now.

Quirky birds and rolling fish – anything is possible

For a while I’m a member of postcrossing.com, a site where you can send and receive handwritten postcards from members of all over the world. Let’s face it: since internet and e-mail the handwritten cards and letters are at the brink of extinction. And projects such as postcrossing are a great way to honor this century-old tradition.

So every now and then I get a little treat when I receive a beautiful postcard. Postcards are small arts and very affordable. Combined with a beautiful stamp it will be worth a thousand pictures. Don’t worry, I won’t post every postcard I receive in here – therefor you can visit my postcardwall on postcrossing.com. But every now and then I’m going to share some of the loveliest postcard here on this blog.

Today I received two postcards. This is absolutely one of the cutest postcards I’ve received so far and I really really love it (yup, birds).

postcard The Owls by Santoro London

Of course I had to visit the website where the card’s supposed to be provided. It’s called Santoro-London.com and they really really have very nice stationary.

The other one is a thank you card from someone to whom I’ve sent a postcard of a lovely wannabe-mermaid the other day, an artistic drawing designed by one of my favorite webshops: La Marelle en Papier.

Isn’t it nice? So today I received a postcard from her as well, of wooden fish on wheels. Especially the message that she wrote ‘anything is possible, even fish on wheels’ made me smile. I think I’m going to draw a beautiful mermaid for her myself and send it to her ^^.

Diapercakes and Take-Away baby food

Exactly one month ago a dear colleague of mine have had her first babygirl. It’s just happened that today I’m going to visit the little baby and her mum, ofcourse I can’t come emptyhanded. So I decided to make a diapercake for her. I know that the new mama will appreciate gifts that are useful. But if you wrap it in a special way, the gift itself will become more special too, in my opinion. If you haven’t heard of diapercakes before, then here is a description. I rolled some diapers together, until I have 3 round creations – one bigger than the other – and then I put it on top of the other, just like a cake. Then I decorated the ‘cake’ with ribbons, stickers, small gifts and anything that I have in stock. Wrapped in cellophane foil and decorate it with ribbons and you have a very cool gift for a babyshower or maternity visit.

I have taken very cool pictures of my gift, but unfortunately I erased the pictures (/slaps myself). So I can’t show you the pictures. However, two months ago, when my colleague left for a maternity leave, I have treated her with a diaper cake and other gifts as well. Luckily I still have these pictures.

diaper cake made by Ima's WorldAs I said before: I love to giftwrap things in a special way. This one is actually a washing-powder that I wrapped in an old Chinese Newspaper. I love Chinese, Japanese and Arabian newspapers for their beautiful typography. Again I decorated it with other beautiful and colorful papers and ribbons, and a very small note. Yes, I gave her a neutral washing-powder, because when it comes to babies, you can’t have enough washing-powders, right? 

I have bought jars of babyfood and put it in a Thai take-out box that I cut and fold myself. Then I printed a ‘logo’ of a fictional take-away restaurant wich I named ‘The Baby Food Factory’ and paste it on the take-out box. I googled an image for this label, so it’s not my own creation. The cutting and folding of the boxes took most of my time.

For a take-out box you need an iron wire for the grip. But I didn’t have iron wires. Instead I made a grip out of ribbons. It added a fun and colorful touch.

If you want to make these take-out boxes yourself, Mirkwood Designs provides a very good template and a good instruction.