Sunday, December 28, 2008

Santa was good to me!

`
From all the trouble I got into this past year, you might have thought I wouldn't get anything for Christmas ... but, you'd be wrong! I lucked out this year. ;o)

Some pictures from Christmas day - what nice surprises and I had so much fun.

What's in this? Is this for "moi" ?

All the way from France, a fuzzy blue thing on the end of a fishing pole. This toy is loads of fun and my human "brother" enjoyed playing with me too.

"Caught!"
all images copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I even received a new Christmas mouse from my cat "cousins" in the Untied States (Hmm, "Mom" is stepping in here, Sacha - you know perfectly well that it is the United States , not the "Untied" States. What were you thinking there?? LOL Silly little cat! We might have to make an appointment with the cat psychologist, for you, in the new year. Freudian cat slips! lol ) Thanks again Nigel, Toby and Bill!

First meeting ... hmmm ...


I gave the mouse (muis) a kiss (kus) .
Wat leuk! (How nice!) .

At the end of the day, I took a long nap in my tent that I had decorated for Christmas.

"Sacha's Big Christmas, 2008"
all images copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

:o)
doei! (bye)
Sacha
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands, 2008 ~ Fijne Feestdagen vanuit Nederland, 2008

`

"Golden Ornament - Christmas 2008"
copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
10h"x 8"w (approx.)
Winsor-Newton watercolors on Bockingford paper, with digital addition of Merry Christmas greeting (you can't possibly imagine I could paint those letters so fine! LOL)

Santa Claus (Kerstman) was spotted last night on the wharf of the Oudegracht in Utrecht!
He stopped in at a restuarant for a bite (maybe cookies) and he waved to us! heh heh ;o)

"Santa on the Wharf - Utrecht 2008"
photo copyright, Judith Nijholt-Strong

We hope everyone has a lovely holiday (whatever you celebrate), and a wonderful new year!


Proost! Cheers!


Judy and Sacha
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Baking Day for Christmas 2008

`
Yep, "mom" baked today.

Fudge Brownies before baking...


Ingredients for the Toll House Cookies (chocolate chip cookies)


Yummy..the batter! Cookie dough!!! (I snuck a lick.. heh heh).


The results; a lovely plate of Toll House Cookies and Fudge Brownies.


Lekker! ( Tasty !)

And me, Sacha, watching all the baking from my regal bean bag chair.
I wonder if she'll bake some cookie mice this year?
:o)
Tot ziens,
Sacha
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vreeswijk by Candlelight 2008 ~ ~ ~ Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2008

.

"Vreeswijk Harbour by Candlelight 1, December 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

On Wednesday, 17th of December, we went over to the neighborhood of Vreeswijk in Nieuwegein (Utrecht) to see the community's display of tea-light candles and torches lighting up the entire old village center for a special Christmas time evening - including the boats in the harbours and canals, the streets and sidewalks, and the private houses.

More photos of the evening - not quite the same as being there, but enjoy!

"House with Tea-lghts in the Window - Vreeswijk 2008"
copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Tea Lights Along the Harbour Steps - Vreeswijk, 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Vreeswijk Harbour by Candlelight 2, December 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Vreeswijk Harbour by Candlelight 3, December 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Vreeswijk Harbour by Candlelight 4, December 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Vreeswijk Harbour by Candlelight 5, December 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Tea-lights and Garden Windmill, Vreeswijk 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Houses Along the Canal, December 17th 2008, Vreeswijk"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


"Shopping Street, Vreeswijk by Candlelight, Dec. 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

There were many bands and choirs on the streets, singing or playing Christmas carols and popular Christmas songs.

"Christmas Choir, Vreeswijk by Candlelight, Dec. 2008"
photo copyright Juidth Nijholt-Strong

Everyone gets involved - a real demonstration of "community spirit"; simply marvelous, imo!This is a photo taken through the picture window of a private home - every year this living room is completely decorated with a Christmas scene...the entire living room.
A-ma-zing!!

"Christmas Living Room Window - Vreeswijk, Dec. 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

There were also booths where you could buy hot chocolate, mulled wine (gluwein), doughnuts or the Dutch treat this time of year - the "Oliebollen"

Another window of a home in Vreeswijk. I loved this one in particular; so warm & inviting - "gezellig".

"Santa with Tea Lights - Vreeswijk, 2008"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

We had a wonderful evening in Vreeswijk.
It was magical! Tot volgende jaar (until next year).
:o)



Tot ziens,
Judy

...............................................................................
.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sinterklaasfeest 2008 ~ St. Nicholas feast 2008

`.

"Feast of St. Nicholas" by Jan Steen
c. 1663-65 , oil on canvas
The Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
.
Tonight is "pakjesavond" (gifts night) here in Holland, for Sinterklaasfeest (feast of St. Nicholas)! As you can see in the painting by the Dutch Master painter, Jan Steen, this is a very old tradition here in the Netherlands. The good children have received gifts, cakes and treats - while the crying boy in the background on the left, woke up to nothing in his shoe. Looks like his little brother might be holding the "roe" (rod) that awaits naughty children! By the way, the "rod" is not one of the traditions that lasted!!
.
We've posted about Sinterklaas before on this blog, so if you want to read those posts, you can find them via the links at the bottom of this post or from the side-bar catagory "Sinterklaas". This time, I'm just going to show you some images taken by my "mom" of some of the Sinterklaas treats in the bakeries and candy stores in Montfoort and Oudewater (towns nearby us).
.
From a bakery in Montfoort: The cookie on the lower left in this photo, with the almonds in it, is the same sort of cookie that Jan Steen depicted in the painting (the diamond shaped cake/cookie on the lower right of the painting above).

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

The Sint (saint ) and his helper Zwarte Piet (black pete) in the window of the bakery in Montfoort.
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
.
Yummy! A Zwarte Piet cake and chocolates in a bakery window in the town of Oudewater.
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
.
This is a delightfully charming candy store, "Hocus Pocus", also in Oudewater.
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
.
There were lovely Marzipan Sinterklaas candies in the "Hocus Pocus" candy store. Note the little red "Sintboekjes" (little saint books) made of marzipan. If your name is his big red book without a big X by it, that means you've been good all year and you'll get treats! :o)
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I was good and this is what I received this year.

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

A "kattenkruidmuis" (catnip mouse)!

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


Happy Sinterklaas to all my friends!
I hope you were good and got loads of treats!
.
Doei! (bye)
Sacha
.
Links to past posts about Sinterklaas ... with more of the story of the tradition:
2007:
.
2006:
.
...............................................................

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sneeuw, Snoep en Slaap ..... Snow, Candy and Sleep

`December already... it snuck up on us!

"Dedo in the Snow" - Dec 2008
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

It snowed today... yep! Poor "Dedo" was stuck outside on our back patio, looking rather unhappy about it. heh heh

"Mom" stayed inside and sketched things on her desk.
These are some little "schuimpjes" (foam candy) for Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas). The "fun" is tomorrow night, but more about that tomorrow.

"Roze Sinterklaas Snoep - Pink Sinterklaas Candy"
copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
colored pencil sketch in Moleskine sketchbook

And I, of course, slept! Here I'm in my newest comfy spot, in the zolder (attic).

"Sacha napping, as always"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I'm just dreaming about what Sinterklaas might bring me tomorrow night!
Until then ...

The word list:
Sneeuw = Snow
Snoep = Candy
Slaap = Sleep
Schuim = Foam
Schuimpjes = Small foam candy
Sinterklaas = Saint Nicholas
Roze = Pink
Zolder = Attic

Tot ziens!
Sacha

.................................................

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chinese Lantern Plant and Thanksgiving...nothing in common.

`

"Fall-ing Lanterns" copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" x 8" approx., colored pencils with pen & ink

Well nothing in common, really, except maybe that the little "Chinese Lanterns" on the plant look like pumpkins (sort of) and they remind me of Thanksgiving.

This drawing was done with Lyra Rembrandt colored pencils, Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils (which are both oil-based colored pencils) and black Sigma Micron ink pens. I don't know what paper I used, as there was no watermark on it ... perhaps Arches, but I'm not sure.

Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family in the USA, The Netherlands and wherever in the world you are.

Eet Smakelijk! :0)
(bon appétit ! enjoy your meal!)

doei (bye)
Judy
.....................................................

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crows from Utrecht ... Kraaien van uit Utrecht

`
Just some images of the crows (kraaien) in Utrecht city center.
We find the crows entertaining, interesting and beautiful. We know most people don't like them, but we do.

By the Oudegracht in Utrecht.


In a park in Utrecht. Very freindly, this one!


View of the Oudegracht in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Typically an overcast fall day. Photo taken last week.

Crow = Kraai
Crows = Kraaien
Black = Zwarte
Old Canal = Oudegracht

That's all!
:o)


Tot ziens,
Sacha & Judy
...............................................................................

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering ... Veterans Day, Rememberance Day or Armistice Day.

`
"Verdun" Félix Vallotton - 1917
oil on canvas , Musee de l'Armee - Paris, France

Today is "Veterans Day" in the USA. A day first established in 1919 (and then called "Armistice Day") to commemorate/remember the end of the First World War and to honor those who served. Today, "Veterans Day" in the US is also to honor those who have served in all past/current wars - the "veterans".
.
The UK and France also have their "Rememberance Day".
.
Having vacationed a lot in the Somme region of France, (where the fiercest battles of WWI took place), my "humans" have seen many monuments and memorial gravesites to those fallen during WWI.
.
This is a British gravesite near Auxi-le-Château in Beauvois-Wavans, France.
photo copyright Auke Nijholt
.
A typical wrought iron cross marking a spot of a battle on a field (now a wheat field) in the Somme region.
photo copyright Auke Nijholt
.
Poppy fields in France. This photo was taken near St. Valery-sur-Somme, France last summer.
photo copyright Auke Nijholt
.
The red poppy is the symbolic flower of WWI.

"Veterans Day" or "Rememberance Day" is not celebrated in the Netherlands. During WWI, the Netherlands remained neutral. However, Kaiser Wilhelm II fled Germany to take up residence here in the town of Doorn. This is a picture of "Huis Doorn"(House Doorn) where he lived until his death. Yes, that's a bust of old "Kaiser Willy" there in the pic., with the manor house in the distance.
photo copyright Auke Nijholt

The "Kaiser" is buried in the mausoleum on the grounds of "Huis Doorn".
photo copyright Auke Nijholt
.
You can take tours of the house, see the massive amounts of personal belongings he brought with him (by train loads... many trains!) and stroll the expansive gardens. It's actually quite interesting, according to my humans. ;-)
.
Tot ziens,
Sacha
.
For more on Huis Doorn, see this amazing website (also available in english and german). You can look through the collection of photos and objects in the collection.
http://www.huisdoorn.nl/huisdoorn.html
.
For more on French artist Félix Valloton:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A9lix_Vallotton
.
I also found this website of art from the First World War...have a look, it's very interesting.
.
.................................................................................

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proud to be ...

~

Frederick Childe Hassam (b1859 - d1935, American Impressionist painter)
"Allies Day", 1917 - oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Yes, my human "mom" is proud to be an American - real proud!

We (my humans and myself ) stayed up to watch the election returns on television until 6am yesterday! The returns were broadcasted here in the Netherlands on two Dutch tv networks, the BBC tv network, RAI the Italian tv network, CNN world and ZED the German tv network. We watched all of them and if we received the French network, we would have watched that too! lol Which is why I'm a day late in posting this! lol

What an election; what a result! "Yes we can" and yes we did! It was wonderful to listen to a beautiful acceptance speach by the President-elect Obama and a gracious conscession speach by Senator McCain.


"A New America" (Een Nieuw Amerika) October 6th, 2008
The Utrecht newspaper on my kitchen table
Utrecht, Netherlands

If America can begin to heal its wounds and look to a hope-filled and peaceful future, then so can the rest of the world. That is our wish for everyone.
:o)
Sacha (de kat)
and my "humans"
Judy & Auke


For more info on the impressionist artist, Frederick Childe Hassam, click here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childe_Hassam
......................................................................................

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote! ... (and a blog milestone)

~
Just a reminder for our friends in the US ...



I don't really care who you vote for, it's your choice to make ... just VOTE!
but ...
Kats-in-Klompen vote for Barack Obama :o)
We like change, it's a good for you!
(as an expat, "mom" sent in her ballot early last month)
This also marks the 100th post on this blog ...hooray!
tot ziens,
Sacha
..............................................

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from Holland - 2008

:o)


"Sacha enjoying the Halloween Decorations!"
digital collage copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong


We hope you're having a great time with lots of treats and no tricks!
( we're off now to go gobble up some *treats* ! dinner pics some other time... )

Happy Halloween from

The Netherlands!



doei,
Judy & Sacha (de kat)
..............................................................................

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

She returns from France ...

`
Returned! I just opened mine eyes, and lo, I’m back in the Netherlands! You would not believe that I'd been abducted by aliens, so I won't bother with that story, but they did provide me with French chocolate and pastries while I was their “guest”. :o)

Upon my return to the "Pays-Bas" (the low lands), I am now distracted with: discovering time stands still for no one, personal projects that need attending to, generally being Snow White to society in general (which means the family and the wash), the impending Halloween events, a demanding little Sacha cat who needs an insane amount of attention right now - my days are fun and exciting from the light through yonder window breaks to sun down and beyond. I am happy with that - life is good.

I won't promise anything to you but I will blog about *something* when I find a minute or two in the next few days/weeks. Well, I'll try... maybe even tomorrow... we'll see ... I don't know, it depends on the "spirits". ;o)

This is for my ever faithful, devoted public ...
A picture of a French party shop decked out for Halloween. I took this pic a couple of weeks ago in Rouen, France.

photo copyright 2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Espirit de Fête - Rouen, France - October, 2008"

Have to scoot ... see you next update.
(Sacha is loudly meowing next to me, as if no one petted her in 2 weeks - she lies, of course. She’s spoiled rotten! )

Tot ziens,
Judy

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