Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas post from Antwerp, Belgium with a sketch! - Dec. 2009

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I did a few more sketches, but I'm not near my scanner! So, here's one sketch and some pics of Antwerp at Christmas time. Hope you enjoy - we sure are enjoying Antwerp. :o)
.

copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sketch of Antwerp Central Train Station's Christmas Tree
December 2009 - Antwerp, Belgium
Pen & ink , Copic markers and Colored pencil in Fabriano sketchbook
.

photo copyright Auke Nijholt
Judy sketches the Christmas Tree - Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp, Belgium - December 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Leonidas Chocolatier's window - Antwerp, Belgium
December 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Christmas tree on Astrid plein (plaza)
Antwerp, Belgium - December 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Christmas Market with part of Onze Lieve Vrouw Cathedral in back - Groenplaats (green place)
Antwerp, Belgium - December 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Statue of Peter Paul Rubens on the Groenplaats with Christmas Market
Antwerp, Belgium - December 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Christmas day breakfast in our hotel room :o)
(Little Kermit sat right in the middle of it all..lol)
Antwerp, Belgium - December 25, 2009


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
The Kermits having too much fun at the Café Jozef.
Antwerp, Belgium - December 2009

That's it for now... will post more sketches & photos in January. This was fun to be able to post from the hotel (free internet), but it's a lot of work and I'm still on vacation! :o)
tot ziens,
Judy
...............................

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands 2009 ! ~ Fijne Feestdagen vanuit Nederland 2009 !

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photo and art work, copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Happy Holidays - Fijne Feestdagen, 2009!
Photo: "Finn" my black cat ornament.
Border: Colored pencil drawing of holly on Strathmore Bristol.


We're about to leave on a holiday trip to Belgium ( and a big birthday for the Dutchman!), but before we go, we want to wish everyone a Joyous, Happy, Merry, Exciting and Fun holiday ... whatever you celebrate!

I may post from the hotel, but I also may be way too busy having fun. lol Most likely, I wont be back to blogging until the New Year (2010 ... oh my!). So, here's hoping it's a super new year for everyone. :o)

Prettig Keerstfeest en Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
(Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

Judy, Auke and "Sacha", of course!

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vreeswijk by Candlelight Dec. 16, 2009 ~ ~ ~ Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht Dec. 16, 2009

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I received several emails asking if I had seen the annual display of tea-lights (candle lights) in Vreeswijk again- and, if I did, could I show some photos here on the blog? Well, yes I did go to Vreeswijk and it was really cold this past Wednesday Dec. 16th ! No snow on that night, but cold! lol

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Temperature & Date board in Vreeswijk ... cold!
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December 16th, 2009

So here you are, some of my photos of Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 (Vreeswijk by Candlelight).

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Boat in the Harbor with Candlelights
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

As it is every year, the atmosphere was enchanting...
photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Front of House with Tea-lights and Candles in the Window
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht, 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

All the shops on the front street were decked out with candles, tea-lights and torches.
photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Shop with Tea-lights
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

A closer view of that window above...because I like it!

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Angel in a Window with Tea-lights
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

There was even a klompenmaker (clog maker) demonstrating in the window of the butcher's shop. This isn't the best picture in the world (mainly because of the crowd in front of this window...lol), I know, but I had to take it. :o) That really is a wood clog that he's carving...not some piece of meat. lol
photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Klompenmaker in Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

Another view of the harbor - different boat ...

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Sailboat in the Harbor with Candlelights
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

Even the alleyways were lined with tea-lights ...

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Tea-lights Line the Streets in Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

The entire community of Vreeswijk get together to decorate the suburb (wijk) with candles. Streets, shops, private houses, restaurants, windows, sidewalks, bike paths, boats, bridge railings, roof ledges everywhere you look are the empty glass jars with the tea-lights glowing - simple and so beautiful. A testament to community spirit too!

There were choirs large and small, brass bands, trios & duets singing/playing all up and down the main street - adding to the happy spirit of Christmas. Hot chocolate or hot mulled wine to drink, also helped make spirits bright! :o)

The churches were open as well . It was good to have a warm place to get out of the cold and hear some organ music or a choir singing - or see a pretty nativity scene ...

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Nativity in the Barbarakerk (St. Barbara Church) - Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht,  Netherlands
December

The angel over the nativity ...

photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Gloria in Excelsis Deo - Barbarakerk, Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

And this phrase, spelled out in tea-lights on the harbor wharf ...
photo copyright J. Nijholt-Strong
Vrede op Aarde - Peace on Earth  - in tea lights.
Vresswijk bij Kaarslicht 2009 - Utrecht, Netherlands
December

If you want to see my post and pictures from last year, follow this link:



tot ziens,
Judy
..........................

Friday, December 18, 2009

White stuff fell on my flamingoes... snow in the Netherlands - Dec 17, 2009.

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photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Flamingoes with Snow-do's
December 2009

Yep, it snowed and it snowed, and then it snowed some more. In the 10 years I've lived in the Netherlands, there's never been such a snowfall in one day.

Sacha and I didn't venture out too far... just to the back garden. lol

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha in the Snow - none too thrilled!
December 2009

Poor Sacha, she forgot to put on her "klompen", but I didn't...
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Judy's Klompen in the Snow
December 2009

Dutch Klompen (wood clogs) are still the best shoes in the world. These wooden shoes are almost 40 years old and still keeping my feet warm and dry!

Now ok, we know for some of our readers who live in snowier parts of the world, this isn't a great deal of snow - but for us it is! Long gone are the days when the Netherlands used to experience heavy winter snows like the kind you see in old pintings such as this one by the impressionist painter, Claude Monet...

Claude Monet
Amsterdam in the snow, ca. 1874
oil on canvas
Private collection - online source The Athenaeum

The only person we know who braved painting in that snow yesterday was René "steenstraat arnhem"- winter wonderland Holland. , who lives near Arnhem (further east of us). He's brave and maybe a lil crazy ( just kidding René). ;o)

So, the consequences of one or two days of heavy snowfall, in the Utrecht province (the middle of the Netherlands), is quite an event now. For example, yesterday, all the trains running in or out of Utrecht Centraal Station (central station in english) were stopped (no one in, no one out), causing a lot of folks to be stranded in train stations all over Holland and an increase in auto traffic jams. Traffic jams are already a pain on Holland's heavily trafficked highways/by-ways, so when the trains stop it's, well, it's a nightmare! Centraal Station is the hub station for all lines that run through the Netherlands so you can just imagine the pain. Sacha and I are very happy that yesterday we didn't have to take a train anywhere!

They say more snow might be on the way... hmm.

tot ziens,
Judy & Sacha
......................................

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacha helps decorate for Christmas 2009 - Sacha hielp mee de Kerstversiering 2009

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photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha loves the Christmas Tree - Dec. 2009

I've been helping decorate the house for Christmas (Kerst) and I really do love my Christmas Tree (Kerstboom). I sit in the window sill and make sure "mom" gets everything done right! I'm especially fond of this Saint Nick card ornament - so pretty when it spins around & around as I bat it about. ;o)

I also helped make this Christmas bow decoration ...


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha helps with the Christmas Bow - Dec. 2009

Something distracts me ...


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha gets distracted - Dec. 2009

Now the Christmas bow is done...


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha declares the Christmas Bow Finished! - Dec. 2009

Next task (a cat's work is never done): I have to help my humans with their Christmas cards - this ornament reminds me to make sure they post them this week.


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Christmas Post Ornament - Dec. 2009

Someone, in their *infinite wisdom*, closed down the post office (postkantoor) in our village - just before this December!! Now we have to go into the city to post packages or important mail, because the people at the grocery store (or other little shops) where you can buy stamps, have no clue and are not real postal workers. We can't do a thing about it, either - local post offices seem to be a dieing breed in the Netherlands. I don't know what good can come of all the post offices in Holland getting shut down... sad really. Buying stamps at the grocery store doesn't seem right to me and I'm just a cat, mind you!. (rant over)

What? Did I hear someone say it's time to bake cookies?


photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Sacha Looking Like an Alien by the Christmas Tree -Dec. 2009
(sorry for the crappy photo - Sacha sticks her nose in the camera all the time and she moves too fast. lol! ~ judy)

Cookies? I get to make the cookies too??!! Ok, but only if "mom" promises to make me some Chirstmas Cookie Mice this year (because she didn't last year...*grumble*)

Gotta go then ... cookies (koekjes) !!

tot ziens,
Sacha the "kat in klompen"
...............................

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Collections: Souvenirs - French Café Sugar Cubes - pen and ink drawing with watercolors

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copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
French Cafés Sugar Cubes Collection
5.5"x 5.5" approx.
Pen & Ink with Watercolors on Arches hp watercolor paper

Wherever I go, I seem to amass a large collection of sugar cube packets from my travels. These are some from different places that I've visted in France. They're always different and always interesting ... to me.
Free souvenirs, again. :o)
Never can say I don't have sugar for my coffee or tea!

tot ziens,
Judy
...........................

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec. 5th 2009, another Sinterklaasfeest and a watercolor painting too!

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artwork copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong. all rights reserved.
Taai-taai cookies for Sinterklaas
approx. 5"h x 7"w - Watercolors on Arches HP watercolor paper

Yes! It's another Sinterklaasfeest (feast of St. Nicholas) tonight!

The painting above is of the special Dutch cookies called Taai-Taai which are baked in lovely wooden moulds in the shapes of Sinterklaas and his helper Zwarte Piet. I happen to love the taste of Taai-Taai, which has an anise and honey flavor along with back notes of the traditional speculaas cookie flavors. The word "taai" in dutch means tough, or in the case of these cookies, chewy (because of the honey in the batter) - they're great when you dunk them in hot chocolate. :o)

If you want to read more about the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, I have written 3 other posts over the years:
Sinterklaasfeest 2008 (St. Nicholas feast 2008)
Sinterklaas 2007- Pakjesavond (Gift Night)
2006 - Sinterklaas might be the original santa!

I hope everyone who celebrates Sinterklaasfeest has a wonderful "pakjesavond"( gift night).

Oops! I forgot to add this photo yesterday...too busy with pakejesavond, that's my excuse! lol

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong. all rights reserved.
Winter Moon in Lemmer, Friesland - The Netherlands - 2009

I was up in Freisland last week and when I saw the view above, I could just imagine Sinterklaas on his horse Amerigo travelling over the rooftops in Lemmer. Cool! It doesn't take much for me to still believe in Sinterklaas (or Santa). :0)

Gelukkig Sinterklaasfeest!
(Happy Saint Nicholas feast!)
tot ziens,
Judy
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