Blog Break

My last post dates from April - it is now September...
Needless to say, I´m on a bit of a blog break, and I have no idea how long this will last. It may be  a while before any updates are posted.

If you´ve somehow stumbled upon my humble little blog, welcome!
Feel free to browse.


5-year anniversary!

Five years ago today I wrote my first post on this blog.
Who would have thought I´d still be blogging five years later? I certainly didn´t!


Reading streak

For the past 3 years, I seem to have mostly read fan fiction... [hangs head in shame - not really ;-)]
I still get my 'daily fanfic dose', but lately I've gotten around to reading more 'regular' books again as well.

Some books I've recently read and enjoyed:

Past end present meet when an American journalist researches the 1942 Paris Vel d'Hiv raid.
*English title: Sara's Key  / film adaptation: Elle s'appelait Sarah

historical novel about Jacoba (a.k.a. Jacqueline) of Bavaria.
Who said history is boring? This woman inherited large parts of Europe in her teens, married 4 times and was imprisoned by her uncle...

 I finally got around to reading this, it's been on my to-read list since it was published... I visited DC in 2008, so it was nice to read about some of the places we've been to in a different light (such as the Washington Monument).

One of my buys from my London trip - it was hard to miss the displays at book stores and it peaked my interest... Read it in 1,5 days, then went to see the movie (which I thought was pretty good).
Now waiting for part II and III to be delivered!


Keep Calm and Carry On

Last weekend, my cousin and I visited London for a few days. It was a great trip, and we really lucked out with the weather - I even had to put on some sunscreen at one point!

We both had been to London several times before, but managed to visit a lot of spots we hadn't been to so far which was a lot of fun. Amongst other things, we went to Borough Market, Portobello Rd. and Carnaby St., and did some shopping at one of Europe's largest bookstores (Waterstones on Piccadilly), the M&M-store, Japan Centre at Regent's St. (I think I actually squealed when we stumbled upon it...), Liberty department store and, of course, Harrod's (where I bought a somewhat authentic Japanese bento lunch - it was yummy!).

 At the M&M-store, the cashier tipped us about the Big Egg Hunt. During Lent, 200+ eggs are displayed throughout London this year. We didn't go on a true egg hunt, but did stop at them when we came across them.

We also stopped at 2 (two!) Hummingbird Bakery-shops (at Portobello Rd. and in Soho), where we naturally had to sample the goods ;-)

We stayed at the same hotel my mom and I stayed at 2 years ago, and had dinner at both the wonderful Chinese restaurant and amazing Indian restaurant that my mom and I tried back then. And of course, a trip to the Hard Rock Café was a must as well.

We came across a lot of "Keep Calm and Carry On" merchandise while (window)shopping, and while I was  familiar with the posters already (thanks in large part to Pinterest), I didn't know the story behind it.
Coincidentally, I checked Nienie's blog today, and lo and behold, one of her recent posts was about the origin of this particular catch phrase / poster!

Here's a video about the origins of the "Keep Calm and Carry On"-poster (and can I just say that I really want to visit that bookshop some time?? It looks awsome!)


Tough week

This past week I attended 2 funerals. Though I was not particularly close to both persons, it was still quite emotional and draining.

Tuesday was the funeral of my uncle's mother-in-law. Since I've known her my entire life, I felt I had to pay my respects.

The same day I learned that my mother's uncle had died on Monday. When his daughter got home and wanted to call her son to let him know his grandfather had died, she was informed that he had died as well that afternoon, due to a car accident.
In other words: my mom's cousin lost both her dad and her son within hours of eachother. My great-aunt lost both her husband and her only grandchild.
It's almost incomprehensible - it it weren't so serious, you'd think someone must have made it up.

My great-uncle's funeral was on Friday. Since my parents were away on holiday and would not get back until after the service, I represented our family by being there in support of my great-aunt. It was a very touching moment when she told us that she had been burning a candle for my grandfather (her brother) since he died last year, and would now burn a candle for her husband instead.

His grandson's funeral was on Saturday. I didn't know him, so I didn't attend. My parents had come home on Friday afternoon, so my mom went to support her aunt during this difficult time.

Two funerals in one week's time. Let me tell you, this is one personal record I would have liked to have gone without...


Fowl Dinners

Last week I stumbled across this program by Jamie Oliver via Nienie's blog. It's about the food industry, particularly the egg and poultry industry.

Eye-opening, to say the least.

It got me thinking and:
- I decided to renew my adopt-a-chicken contribution, not just for a year like a few years ago (which I was too lazy to renew...) but open-ended this time so I won't forget to renew it next year.
- when grocery shopping this week, I paid extra attention to buying organic products. It's a work in progress (and I know I won't be able to part with some of my favourite items which aren't organic), but every little bit helps, right? In the past, I already made a point of always buying free range eggs, but from now on I'll also make an increased effort to buy more organic foods.
- This week I made the concious decision to get some vegetarian meat-alternatives for dinner. (some were a bigger success than others...)
Going totally vegetarian isn't an option for me - to be honest, I simply like eating meat too much, and biologically we are omnivores after all (in my opinion, we need some animal-derived products in our diet to stay healthy. To all nay-sayers: I respect your opinion, but I think I know at least a little bit of what I'm talking about since I've been battling chronic vitamin deficiency for some years now)
All in all, I consider being a part-time vegetarian to be a happy medium.
- Cheap meat = animal cruelty. I need to make an effort to buy organic meat. The animals are still killed, but at least they've had a good life and they are killed somewhat humanely.
- Since 2 of my cavies died last November, I've thought of getting 2 new cavies to complete the pack. Instead of buying 2 babies at the pet store, I drove to Utrecht yesterday to adopt 2 rescue cavies. Tommie and Annika have meanwhile bonded and are getting used to their new surroundings. In a few weeks, I'll introduce them to the rest of the pack.

They say "a better world starts with yourself". It's a humble start, but I'm trying to do my part.



The other day I had a bit of an aha-moment. It kinda snuck up on me...

There was some work-related issue that I had a strong opinion about (all in all not particularly unusual...). Oftentimes my supervisor tends to agree with me, but in this particular instance, he didn't. I was not amused, to use an understatement. In fact, my inner 5-year-old was about 2 minutes away from throwing a temper tantrum, pouting and feet-stomping included.
However, I managed to restrain said inner 5-year-old and remained my 30-something composed self ;-)

It did make me realize that I tend to get my way a lot. Hell, even as an adult, I still have my dad wrapped around my pinky, for one...
I guess I haven't had to deal with a lot of adversity in my life. It's actually been a pretty smooth ride so far.

My parents are still happily married after 40 years.

Though we weren't exactly rich while I was growing up, I don't recall ever lacking anything as a child.

No traumatic events such as abuse or war that scarred me for life.

I didn't even have to put much effort into school to pass with flying colours.

Being an only child, I've always fought against the spoiled brat stereotype. And I don't know whether it stems from being an only child, or whether it is my red hair or my star sign (fire sign) or my character, or whether it's simply human nature, but I don't like not getting my way. One bit.

OH.MY.GAWD {insert Janice-from-Friends-voice}

Seems like I'm a spoiled brat after all!


One trip each quarter

At the beginning of 2011, after a few years of infrequent travelling, I set myself the (luxury) goal to take at least one trip each quarter during the upcoming year. I did allow myself a pretty broad definition of "trip": it could be anything from a long weekend away in NL to a few weeks abroad and everything in between.

I'm pretty fortunate that I managed to pull it off last year, even if it was with some outside help (my trip to Egypt was postponed from October 2010 to January 2011, for instance).

Let's review, shall we??

Q1: 10-day trip to Egypt in January.
Q2: 4-day trip to Istanbul at the end of March (OK, so technically this was still Q1, but it was literally the last 4 days of March so I'd say it counts ;-) )
Q3: 1-week trip to Texel in August.
Q4: 17-day trip to China in October.

I really liked having something to look forward to each quarter, and I especially liked the idea of taking a trip to a sunny destination in Q1, to battle my Winter Blues (which seems to be getting worse each year).

For this year I want to attempt the same. I've already booked 2 trips, one to Israel next month (vitamin D-boost!) and one to the USA in Fall, so I'm already halfway there! I'm also thinking about a city trip to London in Spring, and one in December to Vienna, but we'll have to see how that pans out.

In any case: happy travelling!