Monday, December 5, 2011

Mythology Monday: Sinterklaas

I'm so excited for this evening I can hardly wait! I've set out a search through the house for my parents and worked really hard on my "surprises" (pictures will follow later!) and I hope my parents will like their gifts. But for now I will share the history and traditions of the most fun Dutch holiday with you!

Sinterklaas is a centuries old feast which has only gotten better with the years. In the 13th century it was just for children or the poor, but now it's a huge celebration for everyone. It's a lot like Christmas in some ways, but it also has a lot a special unique traditions. This is how Sintklaas is celebrated every year :)
He arrives in the Netherlands on the twelfth of November and stays till the sixth. He comes from "Spain" in a steamboat, loaded with gifts and all his Zwarte Pieten (literally "Black Petes"). His arrival is celebrated in many towns, but it's especially huge in Amsterdam, with a parade of boats on the Amstelriver and hundreds of Zwarte Pieten who strew pepernoten everywhere :)

From the day he arrives till "pakjesavond" children are allowed to put their shoe in front of the chimney (sometimes with a carrot for the horse or a drawing in it) to see it filled with candy or a small gift the next morning if you've been a good child all year, or a birch rod in case you haven't (though I don't think parents are that mean anymore). Pakjesavond is celebrated in the evening of the fifth of December when Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten come to every house to give presents to all the children.

I believed in Sinterklaas till the age of eight I think and I still regret that all the magic is gone. My parents once hid a bag full of presents in the shed and asked me how Zwarte Piet could have gotten in there and I answered that he obviously just came through a hole in the roof or crept under the door or something :)

There is a fun part to not believing though: Surprises! I'll show some pictures tomorrow because I don't want my parents to know all about them already :) I'm pretty disappointed none of you understand Dutch, because now you can't read my Sinterklaas poetry ánd I can't share any Sinterklaas songs! You'll just have to take it from me that both are pretty awesome ^_^

I'm going to stare at the big pile of gifts at the chimney now and wish my dad comes home soon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A kind of huge update

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. I just feel so swamped and then I stress out so much I do almost nothing in the end en feel even more stressed out the next day... I still have to organize my internship (which is already starting in February!), final exams are coming up (less then a month left...) and the Dutch version of Christmas, Sinterklaas is next monday! I have all the gifts ready, but traditionally we also make a "surprise" (Dutch pronunciation: sur-PREE-seh) which is an elaborate way of gift wrapping, often in a specific shape, which has to relate to the gift inside ánd the (also traditional) poem. So... lots of work to do ^_^
It's always so much fun though, and very much worth all the hard work. It's just my parents and me, sitting around the fireplace with our enormous pile of gifts and eating ridiculous amounts of kruidnoten and speculaas.

This makes me realise how much typically Dutch things are associated with Sinterklaas! I think I'll have to do a Mythology Monday post about him next week! And I'll take pictures of all the exotic food :)

Some other news: I've been going to a bookbinding course for the past three weeks! I'm the only one below fifty (and therefore the only one not complaining about bad eyes and menopause related issues) but it's a lot of fun and I'm learning all kinds of things I had no idea about. I'll show some things I made there some time soonish, but in the meantime, you can see some notebooks I previously made here, here, here and here.

And last but not least: my mom and I finished a polar bear hooded scarf to go with this bag! Pictures will follow soon, but I can already promise you it's very, very cute :)

I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Living in a cloud

This dense fog has been hanging over the Netherlands since Saturday evening... It gives everything a very gloomy feel, but that means I can take some nice and gloomy pictures as well :)

 So now you all know what the view from my bedroom window looks like...

Here are some pictures of trees, because I like trees.

 And at this point my camera started to fog up. I think it has a nice effect though, kind of like snow. This fog has pretty much the same effect as snow too: it's white, cold, everything sounds muffled and can't see much further than five metres in front of you...
Cycling to the neighbouring village for my piano lessons was like cycling into a huge cloud of nothingness.

According to the weather forecast it isn't clearing up anytime soon, so I'm keeping my camera close for the next few days :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh Land & Cat Bag

I went to the concert of Oh Land tonight. I also went to see her the last time she was in Amsterdam (you can read my ramblings about Nanna and her band and listen to their music here and here). I'll have a full post ready next week, but for now I just want to share something really cool.
The last time I went I wore my catbag and Nanna said she really liked it, so I made her one (together with my mom, because I'm not that great with a sewing machine) and gave it to her tonight...
And she already put a picture of her wearing it on facebook!

I hope she'll wear it a lot :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mythology Monday: Pandora's Pithos

Did you know that the "Pandora's box" was not a box, but some kind of large storage jar? The word "pithos" was mistranslated! (I learned this from Percy Jackson) So actually it looked liked this:

So now you all know this you are ready for the story of Pandora (and her pithos).

Prometheus had stolen fire from the gods, which made Zeus very angry. Therefore he send an "evil thing" which would cause their selfdestruction. This was Pandora. Her name means "All-gifted", because all the gods worked together to create this plague for men.
Hephaistos mixed earth and water to create a figure that resembled the godesses. He also gave her a voice and the strenght of human kind. Athena tought her the useful things, such as needlework and weaving, while Aphrodite gave her grace, and the power to make men long for her and forget all about themselves. Last, Zeus ordered Hermes to give her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature.
With these final "gifts" Pandora was released on earth with her pithos. In this pithos all the evils for mankind were held, but Pandora did not know any of this. The only thing the gods told her was that there were very powerful things inside it and that she should not open it under any circumstance. But of course she became too curious and thus she released death, disease and all other evil things into the world. Only hope remained within the jar, and remains with mankind to this day.

{Pandora by John William Waterhouse}

All women descend from Pandora and have inherited her evil traits. Zeus also made sure women would be an unending burden to men. If a man chooses to live without a woman, he will die alone and childless, but if he chooses one he will have a life filled with endless strife.

I do hope my boyfriend doesn't share his opions about women with Hesiod...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mythology Monday: the Beginning and the End of the World

I'm very sorry for this very belated Mythology Monday post. I was swallowed whole by the Midterm Monster and after emerging from its maw I had some serious demonstering en relaxing to do.
I think the waiting will pay off though, because this is one of my largest paintings yet and one of the most interesting stories: the creation and destruction of the world according to Norse mythology.

In the beginning there was only Muspell in the south, Niflheim in the north and Ginnungagap in between. Then, layer by layer, ice began to grow in Ginnungagap and Ymir, the first frost giant, appeared. Next the ice formed the shape of the cow called Audhumla. Four rivers of milk streamed out of her udder, and on this the giant Ymir fed himself. She licked the salty ice for nourishment, and with every lick she created the likeness of a man. This man was called Buri, and from him all the gods descend.
A grandson of Buri slayed the giant Ymir and together with the other gods he made from him the world in the middle of Ginnungagap. From his blood they made the sea and lakes, and from his flesh the land. His bones they build into mountains and from his teeth, molars and broken bones they made stones and gravel.
They raised his skull over the earth to make the sky and placed a dwarf to hold it up at every corner. These dwarf are called East, West, North and South.
Trees were made of Ymir's hair and from his eyelashes the gods formed Midgard, which would be the dwelling of man. Last, they threw his brains up in the air and these formed the clouds.
The stars, the moon and the sun were created from sparks that flew in from Muspellheim. They fixed places for the stars among the heavens, but the sun and moon were placed in chariots. Both the chariots are chased by a hungry wolf, and to avoid them they move across the sky.

Three grandsons of Buri were walking on the beach one day, when they found two trees. From these they created people. The first gave them breath and life, the second gave them intelligence and movement and the third provided them with form, speech, hearing and sight. They were given a home in Midgard.

The gods made a stronghold for themselves and called it Asgard and between this place and Midgard they build a rainbow bridge called Bifrost.
The ash tree Yggdrasil is in the middle of everything. The gods hold their court at it each day, and it's branches spread over the whole world. The root of Yggdrasil reaches down all the way to Niflheim, where Nidhogg gnaws at it.
All this will end, however, at Ragnarok. The wolfes will catch the sun and the moon.The Midgard Serpent will awaken, and with the help of the Giants and other monsters, it will bring the world to an end. Two people and a few gods will survive though, and their descendants will rebuild and inhabit the world.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Midterm Monster

I could go on and on about how much work I need to do (al lot) and how stressed out I am (very), but this drawing says it all.

Also, I really am too busy studying for my midterms... I'll be back on monday with a Mythology Monday post though!

P.S. You can read Hannah's full post on the Midterm Monster here. She's a genius. She also did a series on How to be a Hipster which you should read because it is really funny (and kind of confrontational for me...)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mythology Monday: The Good-looking, the Ugly and the White

My teacher said this was an African myth, but I have no idea from what part of Africa it is and I couldn't find it anywhere else. My teacher kept calling the deity in this myth "Great God" and since I don't know where this myth is from, I don't know if he meant Mumba or someone else, so I'll just call him "Great God". This myth explains why some people are good-looking, some people are ugly and some people are white.

Great God creates all the people, and most of the time he really tries to make the best he can. He gives them handsome features, some nice muscles and keeps everything nicely in proportion. But even Great God gets struck by a case of the Mondays sometimes... On those days  he makes the ugly people, with way to large ears, crooked teath and gangly arms. And sometimes, when he gets drunk, he really messes up and makes white people.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mythology Monday: Procrustes

Sadly, today will be a short one with no painting by me because I have a test tomorrow. I was kind of looking forward to painting a bed with some bloody limbs next to it, so I might make one later on :)

This is the myth of Procustes the Stretcher.

Procrustes had a home near the road between Athens and Eleusis. Many people came along this road and Procrustes always invited every weary traveller into his home for a nice meal and some well deserved rest. He was even kind enough to let people sleep in his own bed! He probably had some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder though, because he couldn't stand it if his guest didn't fit his bed exactly. So if the person was too small, they'd have to be stretched, and if he was too tall, Procrusted would just chop of all the parts that stuck out. And nobody ever did fit...
Eventually Theseus came along and wrestles Procrustes onto his own bed and killed him. It isn't told if he had to be stretched or "shortened" but on the picture below he seems to be sticking out quite a lot.

I must say there are some very strange things about this myth though. First, as my teacher pointed out: the bed is Procrustes' own, so it should fit, right? Very weird indeed...
Secondly, they both appear to be very naked. If Procrusted was always unclothed when inviting his guests in, I really think they shouldn't be that surprised to find out he was a bit of a psychopath. And I don't even want to think about what Theseus has done with his clothes...

Oh well, so much to think about :) I'm heading back to my soliloquys, sonnets and consonances... Wish me luck!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mythology Monday: the Owl-eyed Athena

In many myths Athena is described as "owl-eyed" and this is how I imagine her as a girl:

According to the myth however, she sprang fully grown and armoured from the head of her father, Zeus.
This is the story of her quite remarkable birth.

When Zeus had defeated the titans and became the ruler of Olympus, he married his first wife: Metis, the goddess of wisdom. Though she was a good wife and a true equal of Zeus, it was foretold by Gaia that she would be the one who could bear a child strong enough to defeat Zeus himself. Zeus wasn't too happy with this news, so to prevent Metis from bringing forth this child, he tricked her into changing herself into a fly and swallowed her.
Metis, however, was already pregnant with Athena and, while inside Zeus, she began to forge an armour for her daughter. The hammering caused Zeus such a headache, that he asked Hephaistos to split open his head. Out of the crack sprang Athena, the new goddess of wisdom. Though she is also the goddess of warefare, strength and strategy, a woman could obviously never overthrow her father and Zeus' reign over the gods and mankind was secure.
An additional advantage of swallowing Metis, was that Zeus now had Wisdom inside of him. Therefore he became a much wiser god and he could go on to marry his sister Hera and have many affairs with mortal girls.

Athena, very unlike her father, vowed to remain a virgin. She does have a very cute little owl called after her, aptly named "Little Owl" or Athene noctua.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A not so Little List of Socks.

Have I ever mentioned I like socks? I don't think so. But the thing is, I really do. I really really like socks. I could probably ramble on forever about how amazing socks are (they keep your feet warm, they can be really weird without anyone noticing, you get two at a time, etc.) but I'm just going to share some of the ones I've been drooling over the past few weeks :)

These pairs are all from Ozone Socks and I really really love them. I think I've spent almost four hours on their website since I discovered it. (about ten days ago) And you know what the best part is? They offer a Single Sock Service! I doubt I'd ever let any of their socks out of my sight long enough to abandon me, but it's still pretty handy!

These are my absolute favorites! But they do ask me the question I've been asking myself a lot lately: green or blue?
(This goes on to me regretting not having bought a skirt in blue, but only in green about three years ago)

These ask me annoying questions too.

With these I tend to prefer the pinkish one, but I'll probably end up buying both because I can't decide in the end :)

And with these I just thank God they don't come in green...

The following are from Topshop. They have this everlasting Special Offer going on (three pairs for eight Pounds), so the last time I was in London I bought three pairs: one with flowers, one with a bear and one with little deer. They're still among my favorites, but they've got some pretty cool new ones...

These are pretty...

These are cute...

And these are just incredibly awesome. I want to meet the genius who though of koala geek socks and form a cult around him/her.

I think I have to buy some socks soon...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mythology Monday: the Hare and the Moon

This is a myth from South-Africa that explains the mortality of man and why hares have split lips (with no particular priority).

The Moon looked down on the earth and saw humans living on it's surface. The sight of them pleased the Moon and she wanted to grant them the gift of immortality, so she could always look upon them. Therefore she asked her companion the Hare to bring a message to the people: "As I die and am born again, so will you die and be born again".

But as the Hare traveled from the Moon to the earth, it got confused about the Moon's message, and when it came to the earth it said to mankind: "As I die and am never born again, so will you die and never be born again".
After delivering this message, the Hare came back to the Moon and told her what it had told the people. The Moon got so angry with the Hare for what it had done, that she picked up an axe, threw it at the Hare and split it's lip.

Though the Hare and the Moon have made up since then, I don't know if I can forgive him that easily...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Risotto recipe

I can't believe it's been more than a week since my last post! I do feel a bit swamped at the moment though... Lost of reading to do and my mother just had surgery on her foot so. It's nothing life-threatening, but she can't walk further than the bathroom for a while... Which means I have to do most of the cooking! (My dad can only make things that start with a p: pasta, pizza, pancakes and potatoes :P) I don't really mind though, because I can make anything I want now :)

Yesterday I made a mushroom risotto inspired by a recipe I found in the newspaper which was by Edwin Florès. I changed a lot of things though and it was delicious :)

This is what you'll need for three persons:

  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 300 g arborio rice
  • a dash of white wine
  • 400 g assorted mushrooms (I used a mix of oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, common mushrooms and some other things I don't know the names of but tasted very good)
  • 1 l mushroom stock
  • 2 spoons of crème fraîche
  • 200 ml cream
  • 50 g parmesan cheese
  • A few leaves of fresh basil
What to do:
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan and chop the onion
  • Fry the onion and add the rice
  • Stir until the ricebecomes transparent
  • Add the wine and a ladle of stock
  • Fry the mushrooms in another pan with a few spoons of olive oil
  • Keep adding stock to the rice until you've added about half of it
  • Add half the mushrooms to the risotto
  • Add more stock until the risotto is done, but not mushy
  • Stir the crème fraîche and the cream through the risotto and let it cook a few more minutes
  • Divide the risotto and the rest of the mushrooms between three plates
  • And serve with some grated parmesan and fresh basil

I promise you it'll taste good!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back to school...

I can't believe how fast time went by! The last three days went by in a blur of stress, new classes and new people. School has definitely started!
I had my first classes of Japanese stories, English literature, Classical literature and Mythology. I hardly remember Japanese stories because I was too bewildered by all the new people and actually finding the right classroom to pay attention to anything, English literature went better because I happened to sit next to a girl who didn't know anyone either (she's taking me tea shopping next week so that should be fun) but we also had to discuss a poem, and I got sorted into a group with two guys who really didn't want to agree with me... With classical literature and mythology I felt more at ease. I recognized most of the names in the stories and I just really like myths :) I think I might start something like 'Mythical Monday' to share the best ones with you :)

I really want to read the Iliad and the Odyssey now... And this is definitely the prettiest version that contains them both :)

I'd really really like to have this one though, I love the clothbound classics!

But they don't have a clothbound versions of the Iliad, so I might go with these two, because they'll look nice together and they're a bit more practical to take with me on the train :)

Well, I'm off to eat the chickensoup my neighbour brought over. I guess she thinks I'm only eating unhealthy food now my parents are on their holiday, because the said "If it doesn't taste good, a least it's healthy!" :P
I actually eat pretty healthy though, except from the occasional speculaas ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Galaxy nails

I've been wanting to do a nailpolish post for a while now, but (being a pretty huge procrastinator) my nailpolish was already chipped by the time I got round to making some pictures. But it's finally here! This is my take on the galaxy nails by Caitlin I came across a few days ago :)

I think they turned out pretty well! And it's really easy to do. I just used a very dark purple as the base coat and dabbed some green, lightblue and silver on it with a piece of cloth. Add some glitter and you have the whole galaxy on your fingertips!

As you might have noticed, my fingers are pretty long. Some people think they're creepy, especially when I do things like this:

But it's always nice to have a coversation starter :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Icelandic seabears

Yesterday, I went to the concert of Sóley and Sin Fang.

Sin Fang is the stage name of Sindri Már Sigfússon and he started the band Seabear. Sóley is also part of Seabear, but she's going solo too. So first we saw Sóley with someone, then they went off the stage and came back with four more people :P I think they should be called Seabear when they're all together, but for some reason the venue called them just Sin Fang. Also, some of the members from Seabear play in another band called Kimono. If you think this is complicated (I do) and want to now more about it, there's more info here.

But on to the music! First up was Sóley. She was very cute and obviously a bit nervous (lots of "ehm... well... right"s and awkard faces) but she has no reason to be! She sang her beautiful, quiet songs wonderfully with a soft, gentle, fairytale voice. And she looked very adorable :) 
You could clearly hear she was from Iceland. Her voice and way of singing made me think of Emiliana Torrini and that is certainly a good thing :)

Here is the song I liked the most:

It was too bad Sin Fang didn't live up to my expectations though... He just seemed thoroughly bored all the time! And you couldn't hear Sóley singing at all...
I do like his doilybeard though :) Though I'm deducting a few more points because he didn't wear it at the concert...
He wasn't as great as I thought he would be, but he wasn't horrible to listen to either. So all in all it was a pretty nice evening :)
I forgot my camera by the way, that's why there are no pictures by me...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A little bit of red

Here's a little list of of lovely little things with a little bit of red :)

A bird cage wall decal to brighten up a plain wall :) 

A set of pretty little pillow cases with birds. These would look so good.. well.. anywhere!

An unusual bookmark for the stranger kind of books...

I don't wear rings because I always think they look weird on me, but I think this one might suit me!

A lovely print about living in the forest.

These are listed as espresso cups, but since I don't drink coffee I'm pretty sure they'll hold my tea as well :)

 I really really love these earrings! I love fairytales, I really like red riding hood and wolves and the paintings are originals!

I hope you enjoyed my little list :) It makes me wish I could buy something though... :P
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