24 February 2013

Frost - Sundays in My City

This is what we woke to on Monday morning. Even though it was a holiday I was working but I went in a little later than normal so it was still light out when I was leaving allowing me a chance to get some pictures of the frost.

Now grab a cup of something warm and settle back for lots of other interesting posts over at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

22 February 2013

I'm Sure It Will Be Fine {Commence Nail Biting}

I've been known to have some control issues. Okay, perhaps that's an understatement. Fine, it's a big understatement! Can we move on, please?

The last couple weeks have been very stressful at work and have included lots of very long workdays (11-12 hours).  I talked to a friend about going away this weekend and found someone to watch the dogs.  Normally, I'm all over planning activities. Whenever I go somewhere I have to have everything mapped out including walking and/or transportation routes between lodging, things to see and places to eat (I like to have ideas of places to eat so that I'm not left super hungry and looking for some place that serves something other than pork).  This time though, I had no time to do any planning. I told my friend it was all up to her.  YIKES! 

I'm sure what she booked is not what I would have booked (although I haven't looked at it because I don't want to freak out).  I don't know if she's looked up anything or even if she has any ideas. I'm sure it will be fine...I'm sure it will be fine...I'm sure it will be fine ...cue panic attack!  I'm trying to breathe and put it all out of my mind and plow through my work today and let whatever happens tomorrow... happen. This is NOT easy for me. But I'm proud of myself for letting someone else handle it rather than stay up too late trying to do it all myself which would only result in me being tired and thus, even more stressed.

Wish me luck tomorrow!  I'm sure it will be fine...

17 February 2013

Misty Morning - Sundays in My City

After all the excitement and celebrating last weekend for Carnaval, it was nice to just relax and look out the window this morning.

Lots of other great views can be found over at Unknown Mami. Go check them out!

Unknown Mami

16 February 2013

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Angie over at Angie Eats Peace tagged me in a blogger award.  You might remember Angie as my Blogger Book Swap partner; although she wasn't blogging at the time. Now she has some great posts on healthy eating and living. I learned a great technique for getting the water out of tofu before cooking it allowing it to better absorb the flavors you're trying to impart and I decided to give avocado another try after reading about so many of her meals.  I tried avocado once a long time ago and while I won't say I didn't like it, I didn't really like it.  It's not that I disliked it; I just didn't feel anything about it.  I tried it again this week and whereas I'm still not in love with it I think I can find ways to make it somewhat appealing and thereby benefit from this healthy fruit.

So, back to this award. Here are the rules:

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

Well, honestly, I don't follow that many blogs so I won't be fully participating (I won't be tagging anyone else) but I'll play along with part of it.

11 Things About Me  
(This took a long time as I found it difficult to come up with 11 even remotely-non-boring things to tell about myself.)

1. I hate onions. Doesn't matter if they're raw or cooked. I don't want them anywhere near my food!

2. Contrary to popular belief, hating onions does not mean I hate other really strong flavors such as garlic and ginger. I love those and cook with them all the time.

3. I never liked coffee until I moved to the Netherlands a couple years ago. Now I drink it most mornings. However, I drink decaf.  And if I don't have my morning coffee it's not a big deal. But I do like the taste. As long as it's very creamy! They serve something here called a koffie verkeerd (literal translation: coffee wrong). It's a little coffee with a lot of milk. It's perfect!

4. I am not a housekeeper. Despite growing up in a very tiny house where things really needed to be kept neat and put away I'm terrible at that. I have no problem doing the laundry or dishes but I never want to put the clothes/dishes/whatever away.  I'm trying to figure out how to take my current cleaning lady (who is absolutely the best ever!) to my next station! That said, I find it rather stressful to have someone in my space and as wonderful as she is, I can't wait until she's done and gone.

5. There are balloons hanging from the light in my dining room.  My cleaning lady hung them up for my birthday a couple months ago (did I mention she's the best ever!) and I have yet to bother to take them down. They will likely stay there until it's time for me to move in a few months.

6.  I hate being cold. I'm fine living on the equator for 2+ years without electricity (so no air conditioning; which I don't use anyway) but I hate cold. And I get cold very easily. That said, I do not turn up the heat in my house. It's cold in here by most people's standards (including mine). I hate "wasting" energy more than I hate being cold. I pretty much always have a blanket on when I'm in my house.

7. I grew up in a very small town. Very small. I didn't really like growing up there.  It was a couple streets with houses surrounded by farm fields. As was every other town nearby. Now, though, it's one of my favorite places in the world. I love going back there (my parents still live in the same house).

8. I can pee standing up (and I do mean standing, not just hovering in a semi-squat). Okay, I guess anyone can pee standing up but I can do it without peeing all over my feet/legs. It's a very useful skill one learns when living in a place like Ghana where there are very few actual toilets.

9. I have a great dislike of automobiles. I don't like driving or being a passenger.  My preferred modes of transportation are a bike and the train. Although I will admit it's nice having the option of a car when I have to work 10-12 hr days because I can take the dogs with me to work (they're too big to fit in the carrier bags on my bike!).

10. I'm not the most athletic person (I don't have great coordination) but I truly enjoy exercise.

11. I love tater tots and cheese and chocolate (although not necessarily all together). There's just something so wonderful about crispy shredded fried potatoes!  Any cheese but the blue family (I don't want my cheese smelling like stinky feet). Dark chocolate. Really dark. With sea salt (not a requirement but definitely a bonus). And bread. Not chocolate with bread. Just bread. Soft crusty bread. Hard dark bread. With or without butter. The Dutch eat chocolate sandwiches for breakfast. How can you not love these people?!?!

11 Questions Angie Picked for Me

1. Where is the one place you definitely hope to travel to in your lifetime?
Antarctica. I have this goal of living on every continent.  Antarctica will obviously be the most difficult to check off the list since I can't just go stay there. I want much more than stepping off a cruise ship onto a little piece of Antarctica. This desire is at odds with my item #6 above.

2. What would your dream concert line-up (artists dead or alive)?
I'd love to see Bruce Springsteen again but in a very small venue. Maybe with Lady Gaga and Janis Joplin. 

3. What were some of your favorite TV shows to watch as a kid?
I don't remember being allowed to watch much TV as a kid and we only had 3 channels. I watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and 3-2-1 Contact and Reading Rainbow.

4. What would your dream career be and why?
Either a National Geographic photographer or something in the 3rd world development realm...probably involving bringing clean water and sanitation to the roughly 2.5 billion people who live without it.

5. What is one of the most important lessons you have learned in your life, thus far?
Sounds cliche, but it would be that money doesn't buy happiness.  I lived with some of the happiest people in the world in Ghana and they were literally the poorest of the poor.  No electricity. No running water. No "stuff."  Kids played with a ball made of plastic bags or pushed around a stick attached to a wheel.   They wore clothes that we wouldn't even use as cleaning rags. But they were happy and would gladly share what little they did have with you.

6. What is the current song stuck in your head?
I don't know what it is. Just a tiny snippet of whatever was playing in the grocery store when I was there earlier.

7. What do you use as a creative outlet?
Photography and cooking.  Not usually at the same time. I don't generally take pictures of the food I cook or eat.

8. Where has been your favorite place that you have travelled?
Wow, that's a tough one!  I guess Ghana is my favorite place because I was there for so long and it had such a lasting impact. Cambodia had a very haunting appeal and I feel drawn to go back.  As far as cities go, Prague was amazing. And most recently I fell in love with Scotland and really want to go back and explore it more by bike.

9. What is the grossest food you have ever eaten?
Vegemite (also known as Marmite). It's a horribly gross Australian fermented yeast paste. It's the most foul tasting substance that has ever entered my mouth!  I hope to never experience anything worse! Of course, I tend to avoid substances that I believe will taste awful. I don't like eating yucky things!

10. What are you currently reading?
I usually have at least two books going; one downstairs and one upstairs. The book Angie sent me, Over the Edge of the World is on my nightstand and I read a few pages each night before falling asleep. Downstairs I have Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Servants of the Map and Fever (about the history of malaria) on various coffee and end tables to choose from depending on my mood.

11. What is your favorite thing about the area in which you live?
So many thing! It's a great location in proximity to lots of other things. I love this little town and all it has to offer (I can walk to the supermarket and to the pedestrian market with its little shops and vegetable stalls, the fields behind the house where the dogs like to run, the Thai restaurant just down the street...) but I'm also so close to so many bigger places. I can hop a train for a day-trip to Amsterdam or Brussels or Dusseldorf, Aachen, Ghent, Rotterdam, Den Haag...and there are low-cost airports nearby... I've flown to Barcelona, Prague, Budapest, London, Edinburgh,  and will go to Porto next month all on the cheap.  From Brussels I can get the high-speed train to London and Paris.  It's a great place to live and from which to travel!

So there you have it.  Is it odd that I found this rather stressful?  I think I'm better at posting pictures than writing about myself!  Thanks to Angie for forcing me out of my comfort zone a little! Now I'm headed out on my bike to the Turkish market for feta and vegetables :)

10 February 2013

Carnaval - Sundays in My City

One of the most important local events in the Dutch province of Limburg is Carnaval. During the three-days of Carnaval people will dress up, go out, drink and be very merry.

Seen while walking the dogs this morning
At the train station
Yellow, Green and Red are the colors of Carnaval

The Vegetable Woman. At midnight on Tuesday, the end of Carnaval, she'll be thrown in the river.

The Carnaval Prince of Maastricht.  The Chronicles of Babylon, in 2600 B.C. speak of the sacrificial death of the king every year during the New Year's celebrations. The king would die for his people in order for them to start the new year without sins. To prevent the kinghood becoming a one-year affair, it was decided to have a temporary king during these days. This would be either a terminally ill person or a criminal condemned to death. During the festivities these men would live the life of a king. Now-a-days a Prince is selected in each city, town and village. As far as I know he is not sacrificed!


You don't have to dress up in costume to join in the fun over at Unknown Mami!

Unknown Mami

03 February 2013

Around the Lake - Sundays In My City

These were meant for last week but this happened instead.  I ride my bike past this lake every day on my way home from work but rarely notice it. I've been to it once or twice with the dogs but despite it being only a mile or so from my house I almost never take advantage of having it so close by.  The snow and ice are gone now (they've been replaced this week by wind and rain) but I took the dogs to work with me one day and we stopped on the way home for a walk around it while it was still freezing cold.

For more SIMC posts (guaranteed good browsing) click the button below and head over to the Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

02 February 2013

Go to Bed

I don't have TV. I haven't had TV for a long time. And I'm good with that. But that means I get almost all my news and entertainment via the computer.  Recently I read an article on how to make resolutions you can stick to (I don't know why I was reading this article because I don't make resolutions...I must have been bored at work).  One suggestion was, rather than resolve to "get more sleep" you should be more specific.  For example, resolve to turn off the computer by 8pm.

It's been great! I don't get stuck watching stupid youtube videos or reading articles that don't even interest me until way past bedtime.  I started spending some time stretching before bed (I workout just about every day but rarely take the time to stretch like I should so this has been particularly good). I have more time to rub the dogs' bellies and scratch their ears during our nightly pre-bed ritual and I'm fairly certain they are okay with the extra lovin. I'm reading before falling asleep; something I used to do every night.  I'm really enjoying spending less time on the computer.  I'm thinking of setting the cut-off time even earlier!