Friday, 10 October 2014

Time for Change

So here's the thing. 
The reason why I've been a little quiet.
I'm working on a new website for myself.
The illustrator / photographer self that is.
The one that wants to make a living of her art.

The website is a work in progress because it turns out there is a LOT to learn once you delve into the world of html, css and wordpress. My oh my. 

You can see my progress here:
Don't be surprised if it changes daily.
I have big plans.
But not enough time.
I'm taking a little break from blogging here to give myself more time.

It would make me so happy to have your support and patience as I commence this new adventure.

I'll leave you with a few photos of the kids enjoying autumn in the Netherlands.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Apple Pie - the Italian Version

Last week one of my neighbours invited the kids and I around for some apple pie. While my girls played with her daughter we enjoyed our cappuccino's with this delicious apple pie. I knew right away that I had to bake this and do it soon.

Lucky me, the opportunity presented itself yesterday when Heidi received her B diploma for swimming. Of course I already bought the apples last week at the weekly market in town... just in case you see.

We enjoyed a late afternoon celebratory slice of pie (although it is a bit like cake) and everyone was very happy indeed.

My neighbour found the recipe on (in Dutch), here is a copy of it in English:

150 gram butter
150 gram sugar
4 eggs
500 gram apples
150 gram self raising flour
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Peel and core the apples, then cut into thin slices and cover with the lemon juice.
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
Place the sugar, salt, lemon zest and 4 eggs in a bowl and beat well, until mixed and frothy (for lack of a better word!).
Mix the butter into the apples and then add the flour and mix together.
Now add the sugar mixture to the apple mixture and mix well.

Grease and line a spring tin of about 28 ø cm and pour the batter into it.

Bake the apple pie for about 40 -50 minutes until cooked.
Switch off the oven and let it rest for another 5 minutes inside the oven.

Remove from the oven and cover with a sprinkling of icing sugar (which I chose not to do!).

Friday, 26 September 2014

Martha Stewart's Red Velvet Cupcakes

I was on a roll with baking a few weeks ago so who could blame me for baking cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes... not once but twice I made them and both times I was very happy with the result.

Being a Martha Stewart recipe you would expect it to be easy to do and indeed it was. I was quite happy using the gel paste food colouring because you need to use a lot less than you might think to achieve that deep rich red colour. Delicious!

Here is  a link to the recipe and here is a copy:


2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color (I used 1.5 teaspoons of gel)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting (I used the frosting from the red velvet cake I baked based on the delicious magazine recipe)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Kröller-Müller Museum

In the summer we went to the Kröller-Müller museum. The last time we went Heidi was still a baby and it seems like a life time ago. Luckily the museum did not disappoint. It really is lovely. We spent most of our time in the sculpture garden with the kids. We even had one of Heidi's friends along for the day.

They have white bicycles which you can use to cycle through the park but with three kids in tow we just didn't have the energy to add cycling to our activities that day. It is a beautiful national park so we took a little drive to show the kids a bit of nature after we had our fill of art (as if that is possible!).

Even though we have museum cards we still had to pay entrance to the park so it isn't a cheap day out... but definitely worth a visit every few years!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Selfie and such

My husband bought me a remote for my camera as a birthday gift. I love it. I've been playing with it this past week and took a few photos of myself.

I do love black and white.

I need some distraction from the problems we have. A lot of unexpected bills which we cannot pay, one in particular that arrived yesterday which totally blindsided us due to an error by the contractor who built the house.  All the plans we had for the garden will have to be cancelled and the holiday I was secretly hoping for in October will also not be happening. I tried baking something yesterday to make me feel better and for the first time in my life I managed to ruin a banana bread. Needless to say I did not take a photo.

But hey, nothing stays the same so this too shall pass. Maybe we win the lotto or maybe I find a job. At least we have some good weather right now!

Monday, 15 September 2014


One of the great things about our new neighbourhood is the activities hosted by the neighbourhood association. We've had several parties for the Word Cup Soccer, we've had a neighbourhood barbecue and on Saturday we had BINGO! They even had an afternoon session for the kids with lots of prizes.

Stella didn't find it all that interesting but the older kids loved playing and most of all they loved winning something from the prize table... Stella almost cried out Bingo a few times just so that she could win a prize but it wasn't her lucky day. Next time!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

You guessed it. I had spinach and I had mushrooms. So yes, a quiche was inevitable, right?

I searched the internet for recipes but didn't find anything I wanted to use so I just made it up as I went along. The result was delicious and the quiche was enough to serve two dinners (with a side salad) and one lunch which made me feel thrifty too!

Here's what happened. I made a pastry which is basically flour, butter and sesame seeds. While it was chilling in the fridge I sauteed a big bag of fresh spinach leaves with a bit of crushed garlic and olive oil. Once wilted I let it rest in a colander so that the excess fluid could drain away. The next step was cooking the mushrooms and letting it rest. Then I whisked three eggs and added 300 ml double cream which I just happend to have in the fridge (yay!). After I rolled out the pastry and draped it into my pie dish I pricked the pastry with a fork.  I decided to blind bake the pastry for about 15 minutes just to give it a head start.  Layer the spinach and the mushrooms on the pastry. Make sure you squeeze as much juice as possible out of the spinach before adding it to the quiche.

A sprinkling of grated cheese goes a long way. Lastly pour over the double cream and egg mixture (remember to season it with salt and pepper!). Place it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Red Velvet Cake

I finally baked a red velvet cake! For my birthday, because it isn't every day you turn 40...
The cake turned out really well. I was happy and as such ate way too much of this cake. But it wasn't a very easy cake to bake. A few things didn't work out as I had hoped and I'm still not sure why my cake didn't rise as much as I expected. I probably should have looked for an easier recipe but regardless I will certainly find an excuse to bake this cake again.

The frosting is a winner, in fact my husband wants only this frosting for all future cakes. Let me not think about the calories involved. Let's not go there. The only thing you need to know is that this cake is fabulous. Enough said.

Here is a link to the recipe from delicious magazine and here is a copy:

200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
235g plain flour, plus extra to dust
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large free-range eggs, separated
30g cornflour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
235ml buttermilk
60ml red food colouring (we like Silver Spoon)
1½ tsp white wine vinegar
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting
300ml double cream
600g full-fat cream cheese (we like Philadelphia, see Tip)
500g mascarpone
300g icing sugar
White chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds to decorate

1. To make the sponges, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4, then grease, dust with flour and base-line 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar together with an electric hand whisk for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. In a second large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa. In a third bowl, mix the buttermilk with the red food colouring. Sift a third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then pour in a third of the buttermilk and mix together until just combined. Repeat this process with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.
3. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form fairly firm peaks. Add to the cake mixture, a quarter at a time, folding gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated.
4. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles. Gently fold into the cake mixture, then quickly pour into the tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of each sponge comes out clean.
5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Cut each sponge in half horizontally to create 6 rounds.
6. To make the frosting, whip the cream in a large bowl until you have medium-firm peaks, then set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar together until stiff, then fold through the whipped cream.
7. To assemble the cake, put a sponge on a platter and spread with a layer of frosting. Top with a second sponge, then repeat until all 6 sponges are layered with frosting. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a palette knife as you go. Finally, decorate the top with white chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds. Chill the cake for a few hours before slicing; it will keep in the fridge for four days.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Een Zee van Staal

Last week as we were driving away from the beach at Wijk aan Zee we stumbled across a sculpture park next to a huge steel factory. It is aptly named 'een zee van staal' which translates to: an ocean of steel.

It was pretty incredible to be able to run around and even climb these huge steel sculptures. They are beautiful. The ominous weather even added to their beauty. Of course the irony of its location was not lost on me, but somehow they seem to fit perfectly in the landscape.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Banana Buttermilk Muffins

I found my new favourite banana muffin recipe!
It was on a blog called Alida's Kitchen and I love it and so do the kids.
The main reason I made them was because I had buttermilk in my fridge, two ripe bananas and half a cup of chocolate chips. Clearly a sign that I had to bake muffins. I just had to do it. And I cannot wait to bake them again!

Here is a link tot the recipe and here is a copy:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup well-mashed ripe banana (I used 2 large bananas)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (I used plain chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Spray 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl (or in a liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, banana, oil, egg and vanilla.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and fold until just blended. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, and fold until combined.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and then move muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. completely.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Break: : Love

The end of the summer holiday is upon us. I would be lying if I said that we had summer weather the last two weeks. In fact I have been pretty depressed by the lack of sun but today we braved the weather and headed to the beach. I love the beach.

It turned out to be a beautiful day.
A bit of sun shine, lots of wind and the kids having a great time.

Tomorrow it is back to the school run routine!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

August Break: Something New

I was in the garden this morning with my daughter who eagerly tried to harvest our carrots. Luckily I was able to prevent her from harvesting a strawberry, one of only two. I love the flowers from the strawberry plant and in my opinion they qualify as something new. 
A work in progress.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

August Break: Lines

I was going to search for interesting lines outside today but then I remembered that I have a very busy day ahead of me... so as I sat at my kitchen table, trying out my awesome new birthday present pens the lines just started forming themselves.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

August Break: Treasures

I have a lot of treasures... my husband sometimes calls me a hoarder but he does so endearingly. I took out a few of my precious things and my daughters jumped at the chance to dig into forbidden territory. Ultimately I have no greater treasure than my children and my family.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

August Break: Black & White

It has been a grey day.
Lots of rain.
So much so that I didn't leave the house.
The children required a lot of attention because they have cabin fever.
I'm feeling pretty low with this cold summer weather.
I wasn't planning on taking a photo today but decided to capture my antique milk jug before the light is gone for the day. 
Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

August Break: Bookshelf

I have a lot of books and a lot of cookbooks specifically. Here is but a sample since I have the rest hidden somewhere in boxes. These days I tend to read on my iPad but every now and again I just cannot resist buying a new book. There really is nothing like holding a book in your hands, turning the pages and losing yourself in the story.

Friday, 15 August 2014

August Break: Blue

I was going to take a photo of the sky but since it is grey, cold and uninviting I had to settle for something inside. I found a little bit of light blue in my cupboard... it is my favourite colour after all and the house is filled with shades of blue!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

August Break: My Guilty Pleasure

I had a wonderful morning in Utrecht without the kids including lunch all by myself. 
I guess one could definitely call that a guilty pleasure!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

August Break: On the Table

A little flower arrangement by Heidi is gracing my table today.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

August Break: Drink

A little bit of doodling with my cappuccino for breakfast.

Friday, 8 August 2014

August Break: Selfie

I have a love hate relationship with photos of myself.
This morning I used the tripod and hated all of the photos I took, except for this one. I like the fact that I captured some motion as I walked towards the camera and that it is not quite in focus, hiding my imperfection. And my favourite mirror is in the background too.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

August Break: Today is...

Today is the day that I might just sort out the Barbie mess. Then again if I clean it up the kids will probably see it as an invitation to make an even bigger Barbie mess tomorrow... decisions, decisions. One thing is certain, this poor Barbie is having a very bad hair day.

Today is also my parents' last day visiting us. We're pretty sad to see them go but it was wonderful to have them here!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

August Break: Three

Three. It just didn't feature today.
But one flower and two buds make three, right?

Monday, 4 August 2014

August Break: Orange

One of my least favourite colours but yet I use it all the time...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

August Break 2014

Last year I discovered the August Break by Susannah Conway.
It is really just about getting you to take more photos during the month of August. What I like about it is the prompts she gives for the month. Sometimes you just don't want to think too much, you know?

Here is the list of August Break 2014 prompts and I'll be starting on Friday, the 1st of August :-)
Are you joining me?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Het Jagershuys

My parents are visiting and it was a good excuse to go out to a pancake restaurant. As you may (or may not) know, pancake restaurants are a big thing in the Netherlands. BIG.

We went to Het Jagershuys pancake restaurant in Zeist and it was pretty good. They have all the standard pancakes but also a wide selection of special pancakes. My dad tried a Mexican pancake and my mom had one with chicken and bacon (like a caesar salad but not) and I had a salad. Because I'm not that crazy about pancakes but everyone else in my family love them.

We also had ice cream for dessert - definitely a great way to end lunch! I think we'll definitely be heading back to this restaurant :-)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Chocolate Yogurt Muffins

The kids wanted muffins a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to bake something.
I had chocolate chips in the pantry and a big tub of plain yogurt in the fridge.
So I found a recipe which incorporated both!

This is a very easy recipe and the muffins turned out very tasty.

Here is a link to the recipe on and here is a copy:


 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 cup white sugar
 3/4 cup chocolate chips
 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 egg
 1 cup plain yogurt
 1/2 cup milk
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I left this out since I ran out of chocolate chips!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
Combine flour, sugar, 3/4 cup chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.

Whisk egg, yogurt, milk, and vegetable oil in another bowl until smooth; pour into chocolate mixture and stir until batter is just blended. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

I made 24 regular muffins but it depends on the size of your muffin tin!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Potato Salad

Well it certainly feels like summer!
It has been hot. Tropical heat.
Which is quite uncharacteristic for the Netherlands.
I'm not complaining because I would much rather have the heat and sun than miserable rain!

We've been eating outside every day and mostly it is salads or cold meats but we've also had a few barbecues. I've made potato salad about three times in the last two weeks... because I had the ingredients in the house!

It is very simple. Boil 8 medium peeled potatoes in salted water until cooked (the amount of potatoes will depend on the number of people - I used about two medium sized potatoes per person). At the same time boil one egg in another pot with salted water. Drain both the potatoes and the egg and let them cool down. In the mean time finely dice one medium sized onion and cover with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Roughly cut the potatoes into bite size pieces. Pour the onion and vinegar over the slightly cooled potatoes. Now make the rest of the dressing.

Depending on your guests and their allergies you may or may not use some sour cream on the dressing. Mix a teaspoon dijon mustard with a tablespoon sour cream and about 4 tablespoons mayonaise. Mix well.

Peel the boiled egg, dice it and add to the potatoes. Add the mayonaise dressing and mix it all very well. Taste and add salt as needed. Lastly dress with finely sliced spring onion and chives.

Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve with the barbecue!

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