Lost in a Novel

Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash

Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash

 

It has been a very hectic week at work and I’m not even near the end of all the fidget. And I think winter has finally arrived here in the Netherlands, at least in the northern half of the country. In my hometown however, it just gets colder, but no sign of snow and ice yet. Woohoo (sorry for all the winter wonderland lovers, but I’m more of a spring/summer girl). All the more reason for me to hide myself in a blanket and loose myself in a good book. It’s been ages since I lost myself in a book. But the everyday’s reality, a very busy job and a fun social life all make it difficult for me to achieve.There are a lot of books in my bookcase that are waiting to be read. Like ‘Sophie’s World’ for example, the classic novel by Jostein Gaarder. I’m ashamed to say it, but I have that book for more than a decade and still don’t make the time to read it. Shame on me!

The fantasy novel ‘The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’ by Michael Scott is also one of the books that I long to read. Well, there’s 6 books! I heard that there’s a film adaptation of these books, so I really really want need to read it before the movie’s released.

And then there are tons of books written by my favorite international author Paulo Coelho that I keep buying. These books keep each other company in my bookshelf, but still…

Although it’s just Monday, I think I have an idea what I’m gonna do this weekend…

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Morning Journals

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Ever since I’ve read Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’, I started with morning journals. Morning journals are a diary-styled written composition that I must do every morning, before I do anything else. As soon as I wake up, I’m supposed to write 3 pages with everything that comes out of my heart and my mind. ‘Cause between sleeping and waking up is the best time to write from the heart, as Miss Julia claimed. I’m writing for several months now. At first it was hard, but soon I got the hang of it. It’s just that I’m not really a morning person, and to think that it adds up 30 more minutes in my morning rituals is not really something I like to think about. On the bright sight: it’s kinda relaxing. I feel like it’s a form of meditating. And besides, I finally have a great purpose for my notebook collection.

journaling 2_bewerkt-1As you all can see I have a soft spot for pretty stationary, especially notebooks. But I’m careful not to buy very expensive notebooks. As Geertje Couwenbergh, my writing guru from the book ‘Zin, lust in je leven door te schrijven’ (transl: sense, lust in your life by writing), warned me that if you have very expensive and too pretty notebooks, you’re saving it for ‘brilliant writing stuff’ that  probably will never come. In other words: I won’t use it, because I would consider it too valuable. So I bought mine at local drugstores, typical ‘dollarstores’ and groceries. In the Netherlands I buy notebooks at stores such as Tiger DK, Xenos, Kruidvat, Action and ofcourse Hema. But occasionally – if it’s on sale – I treat myself for stationary at Paperchase or the local warehouse such as V&D and Bijenkorf, and even online.

Behind the scenes shots: my cat Chelsea decided that he should be the center of my photography

Chelsea decided to act like a model with his modeling behaviour

Chelsea decided to act like a model with his modeling behaviour

I don’t use my notebooks for the sole purpose of morning journals. Every page is a blank canvas for me to create things that’s coming out of my mind and my heart. I do have journals for the purpose of quotes (in 2012 I wrote a quote every day), for one sentence-diaries, for writing and drawing idea’s for DIY and crafts, and inspirational journals. And if any of my writings are a possible novel material, I tag it with post-it notes. Because it is my secret wish to ever write a book, preferably a children’s book with my own illustration.

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If you’re interested to learn more about ‘The Artist’s Way’, and about Julia Cameron, you can find it here.

The book “Zin” by Geertje Couwenbergh is – as far as I know – only in Dutch available.

My 2014 notebook

It’s almost 2014. Officially the first week of 2014 today. That means that I can finally use my new diary. This year I’ve chosen the weekplanner of Flow Magazine (again). I’ve hesitated between Moleskine and Flow. I chose Flow because it’s almost the same as the Moleskine one I wanted, but with pretty pictures and frills. I don’t mind that the diary is big. I write a lot and I always carry a bigger handbag.

I think this is the best Flow diary so far. It is a weekly notebook, with on the left space for your diary appointments and on the right enough space to write, draw and droodle something. Especially handy for to do lists and my intention to blog regularly and finally promote my blog. The illustrations and all the paper extras are created by Aiko Fukawa, she’s a real genious when it comes to paper art. If you like to see more of her work, you can visit her website here.

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Flow created a video for a better look of the 2014 diary. You can find it here.

Flow: book for paperlovers

I have an addiction. An addiction in paper. I love stationary. I love patterns. I adore graphic designs. And illustrations are my guilty pleasure. I love everything that’s crafted with and from paper. I love crafting with paper, painting with paper and decorating with paper. So I was looking forward to get the ‘Book for paper lovers’ by Flow Magazine, a Flow special to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the magazine.  And finally, they just delivered it. Thank you Mr. Postman! The result of the ‘book’ is amazing. There’s only very little text, but lots and lots of paper goodies. A pop-up illustration, writing papers and envelopes, postcards, stickers, diorama, halyard and other paper craft projects.

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Clockwise: Helen Dardik, Studio Ping, artist unknown, (probably) Geertje Aalders

Clockwise: Helen Dardik, Studio Ping, artist unknown, (probably) Geertje Aalders

I am so happy to see that Helen Dardik contributed in this Flow special. She’s one of my favorite illustrators. Her artwork is amazing. Her colorful illustrations really brighten my day. You can visit her website here and her Etsy webshop here.

Posters to frame

Posters to frame

DIY projects such as upcycling a matchbox

DIY projects such as upcycling a matchbox

Even a lovely pop-up

Even a lovely pop-up

DIY peepbox by Ruby Taylor

DIY peepbox by Ruby Taylor

For those of you who are not familiar with Flow Magazine: it’s an inspiring and positively orientated magazine for paper lovers, full with beautiful illustrations and images from nowadays designers and artists from long time ago. The items published in the magazine can be summarized into 4 themes: ‘Feel Connected’, ‘Live Mindfully’, ‘Spoil Yourself’ and ‘Simplify Life’. And in each magazine there’s two or more small paper gifts, such as posters, postcards, notebook or calendar. 4 times a year they publish a Flow special with much more papergifts. You can visit the website here.

A magical crispy-skin salmon

My favourite food writer at the moment is Gizzi Erskine. I have her book ‘Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic’ for a while now and I’ve tried a lot of recipes since then. Love the food. Love the food writer (and chef). She’s so stylish. She reminds me of Holly Golightly in one of my favourite movies “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, even though miss Golightly can’t cook.

Today I want to share with you my favorite food from “Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic”: crispy-skin salmon with wasabi soba noodles. A true winner.

In the book this food was prepared with black soba noodles. But it´s so hard to find any, so I settled with regular noodles. The taste is still delicious.

crispy salmon with wasabi noodles

Crispy-skin salmon with wasabi soba noodles
Recipe for 4

  • 250g soba noodles (if you can find black ones, they’ll look beautiful)
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • a 3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 salmon steaks, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi
  • 50g sugar-snap peas, diagonally sliced
  • ½ red pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 spring onion, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. If you don’t like crunchy rawness of the vegetables, you can parboil them for a little while. But if you cut them really thin, it’s not necessary to parboil them.

Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, mirin, grated ginger and sugar in a bowl. Soak the salmon steaks in this marinade for 5 minutes, or longer.

For the noodle sauce, mix the mayo and wasabi together in a mixing bowl. Add the warm noodles, along with all the veggies, and mix thoroughly. Divide between 4 plates.

Take the salmon out of the marinade and wipe off any excess. Keep the rest of the marinade.
Fry the salmon in a pan, skin side down, in the oil for 6 minutes or until the skin has turned really golden and crisp. Be careful not to cook it too quickly – otherwise the sugar in the marinade will burn. Turn the salmon over and finish cooking it on the other side for a couple of minutes or until golden.

Remove the salmon from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Pour away the oil, then add the reserved marinade to the pan and leave it to bubble away until slightly syrupy.

Lay a piece of salmon on each plate, drizzle with a little of the marinade and sprinkle over some sesame seeds.

Step inside an illustration

comic artist turned children's books illustrator

This gallery contains 11 photos.

One of the greatest things in The Hague is the museum of children’s books. Especially until 31st of August there’s an exhibition of Thé Tjong-Khing, a famous Dutch (and Indonesian originated) illustrator, known for his wonderful children’s book illustrations. And … Continue reading

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’.

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…