cran·ber·ry
1. A mat-forming, evergreen shrub (Vaccinium macrocarpum) of eastern North America, having pink flowers and tart, red, edible berries.
2. The berries of this plant, used in sauces, jellies, relishes, and beverages.
cot·tage
1. A small, single-storied house, especially in the country.
2. A small vacation house.
cran·ber·ry cot·tage
1. A tiny house in the woods in the north of Holland.
2. Peace, quiet, paradise.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My best Christmas present ever!

My best Christmas present ever? Our beautiful old man cat Dagi (which is short for Adagio) of course. It is his birthday today. He made it to 15 years old! When we got him, our vet warned us that these kind of cats are wonderful characters but do not get old. We had him on a special diet food from 6 months old so he told us he was getting the best from a young age but still we expected to loose him between the ages of 6 to 8 years old. These cats simply have an ultra sensitive digestive system.

He has not been well but is showing us daily that he is happy regardless. Jos read up on old cats with eating problems and discovered that meat is the best for them to digest. So we gave it a try. I know he loves chicken and turkey. I bought him some chicken lunch meat. He LOVES it and has actually been getting ever so slightly stronger on it. He keeps it down well too.

He is old and has trouble jumping up and sleeps so deeply most of the day but he also still loves to hold a conversation with me regularly. This month was my quilt group's yearly Christmas party and you can see Dagi sitting in the middle of the busy group group of quilters listening intently. He is sitting next to a very dear friend Enny.

Happy birthday to my dear Dagi! We are so happy you made it to this wonderful old age. You are a sweet and dear companion to Jos and I!


It is Christmas Eve tomorrow so I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May your Christmas be a happy time together with the one(s) you love dearest.


Heidi

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas impressions.....

With these busy days upon us, here are a few impressions of our home at Christmas...




Today is the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales being published. My favorite is Little Red Riding Hood. When I was a little girl, I had a game I would play with my mother. I would go outside and ring the doorbell. My mother would answer and ask who was there. I would happily call out Little Red Riding Hood or another character. Since Little Red Riding Hood was my favorite, my mother sent me this beautiful picture a number of Christmas ago.


Thank you for your wishes for my getting better! I was back laying down yesterday all afternoon but am feeling much better again today.

Do you have a favorite fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm? 

Heidi

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A simply perfect day!

Each year in the little fortress-ed Dutch village of Elburg, there is a Christmas event. The village becomes Christmas of 1900. It is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year but there is something really special about it each December...

The beautiful buildings and displays...


The villagers participating in the parade...


Including horse and carriages and the amazing goose shepherd and his dog...


Old world market...


Old world crafts...


And wonderful food! After a snack at a street booth, we had a lunch at an Italian restaurant. They had hot rabbit stew and white gl├╝hwein. It was such a delicious treat since we rarely go out to eat since I love to cook so much.


At the end of the day, we came home with a loaf of Elburg wholemeal bread and two oublies (old Dutch pasty with a cookie wafer with mocha cream and covered in chocolate - these are not often for sale in bakeries anymore). More fun was being able to first watch 3 young men in the rope factory as they made a rope with a loop which is woven into the rest of the rope for me to use for a fresh garden garland (will share that later after I make it) and two hand forged hooks bought at the blacksmith shop. I spent almost nothing for those items but went home with wonderful memories of watching these old crafts.


It was a simple and perfect day. We went early and left after we had lunch to avoid the crowds. I have been sick and stuck in the house but was glad I was well enough to have seen this before hand.


I will leave you with this funny photo. Enlarge the photos to get a closer look at the  impressions of Elburg but also the humor of this outhouse in front of a shop...

Heidi

Monday, December 3, 2012

There is no cottage like gnome.....

Christmas is starting to appear in the woods at Cranberry Cottage. I started my decorating this weekend. I have just a few more touches I will add when we make it back up again.


In the meantime, I snapped a few photos to share with you. Remember that crocheted gnome hat I made and the toadstools? I created a gnome tree from my Christmas tree at the cottage. I have always used the bird theme on this tree. I added the gnome hat on the bird house tree topper so I think a gnome must have moved in by now. *grins* There are toadstools on the branches. I have yet another idea but have to find some spare time before we make it back to the cottage.


This little tree skirt was made specially for my pencil pine tree. It had been a patchwork block I used for a quilt class I gave years back in 2004 which was also the first Christmas we had at Cranberry Cottage. It is a reminder of when we bought the little cottage.


Please forgive the horrible wallpaper. The paste dried too fast as the sun streamed in on this wall. We still have to redo it. A shame since I loved this paper and color. We added some things to give this area some festive cheer along with a quilt I made 17 years ago.


So now to decorate our house in the city. I am put in the mood today as we are having our first snowfall this season. It is supposed to turn to rain later today but I will enjoy gazing out as I decorate while it lasts...


Heidi

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A small addition with a big effect.....

Monday evening, Jos and I went over to IKEA which is only minutes from our home. I had been wanting to buy the Fintorp kitchen rail with hooks for some time. We already had my wall with my collection of speculaas cookie molds (click for post on my previous blog) in the kitchen...


We bought two and connected them to one long rail. I hung some of my Brixton baby mugs. I just love these mugs with their homemade look...


I also hung the stitched tea towel I won in Willy's giveaway recently. I just love it and have two of these towels to make more to match. Thank you once again Willy...


It is a small addition to my little kitchen but I love the big impact it has made to give it a country feel...


Heidi

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I might be far away from America but the Thanksgiving holiday is alive in my heart. This is a day to remember that we are all blessed and it is the simple things that really matter. While you read this, you might want to hear a song that always brings this thought of being grateful for the simple things to my mind (click here). 


Our table is set. I love setting the table so decided to go ahead and do it very early ready to enjoy our meal. It is always just Jos and I but with my family back home in our minds and hearts. Our menu is a roasted sage rubbed turkey breast with onion gravey, cheddar-onion potato bake and fresh broccoli. Dessert is something special that I tried a couple of years ago. My mother was visiting and I wanted to do something new with pumpkin so I made pumpkin mousse. Here is what I do to make it.....


First, cut open a pumpkin and scrap out the seeds. I will be roasting them this afternoon for a snack in the evening. I only made a piece of the pumpkin and will bake the rest later. Place (half) pumpkin skin side up on a baking sheet. Add a little water just to ensure it all does not dry out. Place in a 170C/325F oven for 15 to 25 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft when pricked through the skin with a fork. Remove from the oven and turn meat-side up. Allow to cool just slightly and start scraping the meat out of the pumpkin with a spoon. It will scrap out easily so be careful not to get the skin in the meat. You will not need to mash it as you simply stir it well in a bowl. Simple and instant pumpkin puree that tastes better than any canned pumpkin.


For the pumpkin mousse for two.....mix 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup of whipping (heavy) cream, a dash of pumpkin spices and 1/4 sugar. Mix the ingredients to a smooth paste and cook on simmer for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, whip 2/3 cup of whipping (heavy) cream with a 7gr sachet of vanilla sugar until the cream is thick and has soft peaks. You can use a dash of vanilla for this instead if you don't have vanilla sugar. Fold in the well cooled pumpkin into the cream. Be sure it is cool before you do this! Now crush some crisp cookies. I used kruidnoten which is a Dutch tiny spice cookie for SinterKlaas but you can use a spice cookie or ginger cookie for this. Place a little of the cookie crumbs in the bottom of a parfait glass. Layer the mousse then another little layer of cookie crumbs half way before adding the remaining mousse. Sprinkle a little of the crumbs on the top and chill.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Heidi

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A little touch of winter.....

We just spent a glorious week up at Cranberry Cottage. It was nice to be able to enjoy the last days of autumn color while also having time to get some much needed work done. Jos painted the black wood trim around the windows now in a nice light beige color. What a difference it has made. Before, the black trim stopped your eye as you looked out but now you really see the view. We look right out into the woods from the cottage so we will enjoy the new look. We still have a great deal of painting left to do but I will show you it all in the end one day. We do not get much time to be able to go at a fast pace with work on the cottage.


I bought this planter the first winter after we bought Cranberry Cottage. It has been sitting neglected on the cottage lately. I decided to make a winter arrangement in it as I plan on starting my Christmas decorating at the cottage when we can get up there next time. I have really been pulled to more natural looking decorations lately so I filled the planter with moss pulled from our side garden. Bits of periwinkle came up with the moss but I think it looks nice that way. I then added some faux hellebore's and holly berries. Last I stuck in some small pinecones to complete it.


I just hope the birds do not do too much damage to it. I could not use real holly from our garden as there are no berries this year. Last year our holly trees were full of berries so I wonder if this is a sign it will be a mild winter?


Heidi

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did you ever wish you were a gnome?

On a recent trip to Germany to go to some grocery stores, Jos noticed a bunch of large toadstools along the roadside. You know the gnome kind ... red with the white dots on top just like the gnome homes.

That prompted me to make this crocheted miniature gnome hat...


Which prompted another idea which is still a work in progress so keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more...


Heidi

Friday, November 2, 2012

There is a definite chill in the air.....

...and it makes me want to bake...like this new recipe for pumpkin gingerbread to have with our evening coffee...


...and change to our warmer winter quilt...


...oops!...I woke up Dagi who was sound asleep on my pillow...


...but the begonia plant in my bedroom window which I bought for its beautiful leaves seems to think it is spring as this is the first time it has bloomed since I bought it two years ago...


Have a great weekend and keep warm!
Heidi

Monday, October 29, 2012

Witch legs...Halloween decor

Yesterday, I hosted a Halloween high tea party for my quilt group. You can see it here. I wanted to give my house an extra tint by having a few witches visit...well, at least attempt a visit...wink...


To create a witch landing head first in your flower pot is a simple, inexpensive and fun Halloween decoration. You need two wooden dowels (I used a piece of leftover curtain pole), some ribbon and left and right witch's shoes printed twice. I first asked Jos to saw the pole in two pieces which I wrapped the ribbon down it to give a striped effect. Cut out the shoes and glue two right and two left shoes together leaving the ends open to slip over the wooden dowels. Stick them into a flower pot and enjoy the reactions of those who come to your door.


Happy Halloween!
Heidi

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Sunday walk in the woods.....

We like to walk in the woods. Two Sundays in a row we have been out enjoying the colors and scents of autumn. The weather has been great here in Holland this fall so I simply put on a warm knitted cardigan (thanks Mom!), wrap myself in a flower scarf I crocheted and off we go...


The woods right beside Cranberry Cottage are small and yet very beautiful. I wanted to go out to forage for chestnuts and some fallen twigs. The twigs you saw in my last post for my Halloween tree. The chestnuts are in a bowl being roasted regularly to eat with dinner. Yum!


This piece of woods is has a good area of hilliness. It is amazing when you think how flat it is in Holland to suddenly have a steep area in the woods caused by glaciers in the ice age.

The dampness in this dense wood creates perfect conditions for toadstools and I was not disappointed on this walk. There were so many pretty fungi to admire.


"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life."

- PD James

Heidi

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Counting down to Halloween.....

Halloween is coming near. I went for a Sunday morning walk in the woods which I will show you more of in my next post but I wanted to get some twigs for a Halloween tree...


Each year, when I put out these ornaments (most of which my mother made for me), I think of my sister as this was always her favorite holiday.


Dagi is trying out a funny face for Halloween. What do you think? Boo! *wink*

Heidi

Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn lights.....

An outdoor lantern filled with gourds...


...simple and festive...


...to celebrate autumn!

"Thy bounty shines in autumn unconfined,
And spreads a common feast for all that live."

- James Thomson

Heidi

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A decorated shelf...

Jos and I built this shelf unit for our laundry room in our previous home but it now hangs in the entrance as you come into our home.


For autumn, I added a charcoal sketch that I did a long time ago. It complemented my wooden books along with the addition of some mercury glass acorns and faux blackberries.


This is a piece of bobbinlace which I also did some years ago with three toadstools. I simply mounted it on some fabric and framed it.


The small dough bowl has a Halloween pillow with wooden figures (witch's hat, Jack o' lantern and a crow), acorns and pomegranates. I bought these little battery lights last year at Christmas time which I use now year round. I might buy more again this year since it was nice having them on in various areas of the house even after the holidays.


Heidi

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkins.....

The nice thing about my new quilt wall is that I have yet another space to bring in seasonal decorations. Back in August, I showed you this space (click to see the old lamp) with a lamp that was too large. I changed it to this candlestick lamp. What do you think?


The quilt is one of my doll quilts I made back in 2010 which I call Pumpkin Fields. It is so cheerful to see all the autumn shades in the evening when the lamp is on. Again I used another tiny quilt and a stitched pillow on the butler tray.


Our coffee corner in the garden has received an autumn touch with a Turkish turban gourd in my vase planter. Did you know that if you rub pumpkins and gourds with some salad (I used olive oil as that is all I have) oil that it will help it to stay fresh longer locking out moisture?

I am linking to French Country Cottage's Feathered Friday Nest.


"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."

- Henry David Thoreau

Happy weekend!
Heidi