Fishy Fishy

Welcome to my downstairs WC, otherwise known as the toilet.  If you are American, “bathroom” with only a toilet and 4 walls.  A week ago it had 4 white walls and black and white tiles.  Now it’s full of fish and shells and sand and grasses.

This little tiny room really needs to be completely renovated.  It needs to be taken back to bare bricks, re-plumbed and rewired.  But we don’t have money for that so I really wanted to do something to cheer it up a bit and make it at least fun.  A fun toilet?  Yes, why not.

I started by painting the wall behind the toilet itself, and around the doorway, and the ceiling, white.  The walls are all papered, but I just painted over the wallpaper.

Then I went on to the fun part.  I first painted gold for sand.  Then I painted a mixture of gold/silver below that for rock.  After that I painted the blue.  It’s a shining silvery blue in color “ocean”.  I then painted some darker blue streaks through it, which looked really bad, so I painted some more “ocean” over that and it looked better.

Then came the trip to the beach to gather sand, shells and grass.

I mixed the sand with paverpol and patted it on by hand.

I had earlier in the week printed out images of tropical fish and cut out each one.  I glued them on, also with paverpol.

I glued some grasses in the corner as kind of an experiment.  I wasn’t sure they would stick.  That paverpol is pretty amazing stuff!  I was even able to glue down the sea shells with it!  It dries clear too.  And this is the final result!

I’m really happy with the final result.  I’ve never done anything like this before so it was all just a big experiment.  At least we’ll have something to look at while doing our business.  Hopefully one day we’ll have money to redo it properly, but until then this will be fine.  DB wants to somehow rig in sound so that when you open the door you’ll hear whale calls.  If anyone knows how to do that, please let me know.

Last Knitting FO This Year

I admit it.  I’m a sucker for new toys that are small and cute.  An iPad mini for instance.  I bought one.  Did I need one?  Of course not.  But I really really wanted one.

I also bought a blue front cover to keep the screen safe.  That’s not enough protection though because the back could still become scratched and the front cover can come away from the screen while in my bag or purse.  I needed to knit a cover for it.  ‘tuurlijk.

I looked through my knitting books to find some nice cable patterns to give the bulky yarn even more bulk.  I intended to make the whole thing in the bright green but I didn’t have enough yarn for that.  I like the blue and green together though.  The button made of bone and was bought at the Handwerkbeurs in Zwolle a couple of years ago.

I think the whole envelope look is pretty cute.  It took me no time at all to make, with yarn from stash (dyed myself this past summer).  I’ll get LOTS of use out of it.  And, btw, I LOVE my mini.

Aftermath

This is the aftermath of my first run in about two months.  Yes, it’s muddy out there.  I managed a measly 4km before a very sore hip muscle decided to flare up.  If it holds me back from running regularly I’ll have to go to the physical therapist again.  AGAIN.

Speaking of therapists, and medical expenses, I’m changing insurance companies on January 1.  I am still on my previous employer’s policy and now I’m joining DB’s employer’s policy.  It’s actually going to save me 30 euros a month!  Never mind that it’s going to cost him about 30 euros more per month.  Win some, lose some.  Or as our big friend Cruyff says, “elk nadeel heb z’n voordeel”.

Merry Christmas Dinner

Yesterday, Christmas day, we had 10 friends over for dinner.  It’s not often we have people over. I don’t know why.  I guess everyone seems so busy and most of our friends live in Amsterdam (and we in Haarlem).  Sorry excuses I know!  After having such a good time yesterday I think we really need to do this more often!

I started Monday with Christmas cookies.  They were simple flour/sugar/butter cookies, decorated with red marzipan, white cream cheese frosting and green colored butter frosting.

P & K brought the first course for dinner – bright red cold soup!  It was delicious.

For the main course we had cheese fondue, raclette, beef stew, and a couple of salads.  I think everyone liked the food.  It’s not your traditional Christmas dinner, but I thought it would be a fun change.

Here’s a sweet photo of Z. and M. decorating one of the cakes we had for dessert.

Here’s to friends and special dinners.  Let’s do it again soon!

Mermaid Socks FO

Yesterday while riding in the train from Rotterdam to Haarlem I finished the second of my Mermaid socks.  Aren’t they fun!

Sorry for the indoor crappy photos, but it’s just so dark outside these days that there’s no point trying to take better photos in the daylight.

Honestly I don’t have giant legs.  The above photo is just from a weird angle.  I was trying to get a good photo of the heel.  These are garter stitch short row heels.  They are super easy and fast to make and look and feel great.  Very squishy on your feet and I think they will wear very well.

The pattern is by Lucy Neatby.  The yarn is Regia “Random Stripe” designed by Kaffe Fassett.  Top down, knit the top cuff first, then pick up stitches around the cuff and knit down.

I was thinking yesterday about how incredibly satisfying it is to finish knitting projects.  I get just as much satisfaction and happy feelings about finishing a pair of socks as I would from finishing a DIY project in my house, or finishing a really big project at work or making a good time on a 10k race.  But working on and finishing a knitting project is also FUN along the way.  You just can’t beat it.  It must be some kind of brain high.  I wish someone would study knitters’ brains and explain to us why we like it so much.  I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation.  In the mean time, I’ll just enjoy wearing my new socks.

Creative Sunday

Yesterday was a very crafty day.  I went to a spindle spinning class at Penelope Craft in Amsterdam, taught by the very talented Christopher.  He’s a wizard with a spindle, with any kind of fiber, and can stand there making lace weight perfect singles while talking to us at the same time.  He’s also a professional singer and musician.  Such a talented guy!

Some of the students had done this before, but most of us had not.  It’s much harder than Chris makes it look.  My feeble attempts came out like bulky weight thick/thin singles.  The only fiber that I was really happy with was the pure silk.  It was just easier for me to draft for some reason.  I find that drafting (pulling the fiber out it just the right amount at the right speed) is so difficult to get right.  I know, practice makes perfect.  Chris kept reminding us about how long it took us to get really good at knitting and not to be disappointed in our first 3 hours of spinning.  We all seemed to be perfectionists who want results NOW.  Silly us.

At the same time as this class was going on, Ginni was having a craft market at her studio, DIY Textile School.  I didn’t want to miss it so I ran out of Penelope Craft just at 3pm and headed to the other side of Amsterdam as fast as I could.  I got there in time to buy a necklace of crocheted steel and beads, and a pair of earrings made with vintage beads.  And I had a tiny piece of the most amazing chocolate pecan pie.

If you are in Amsterdam at the weekend before Christmas, I think the Sunday Market at the Westergasfabriek will be pretty amazing.  I won’t be able to make it because I’ll be busy painting our downstairs toilet (more on that later).  But go there if you can.  Happy crafting everyone!

Parnassia in the Snow

Yesterday afternoon DB wanted to go for a run.  All the sidewalks were snowy and icy so the only place to easily and safely run was at the beach.  I’m still down with this dreadful cold so my contribution to the event was playing taxi.  I really wanted to go to the beach anyway.  It felt like a long time since I was at the beach and I missed it.

We had a break from wet weather yesterday.  It was sunny all day.  Cold, but sunny.  We didn’t get to Parnassia until about 2:30pm and by 3pm the sun was sinking fast and the shadows were long.  It was so nice to walk on the beach and take a few photos.

The photo above was taken from outside the Parnassia cafe, just above the beach, looking south.  The photo below is looking north.  In the distance you can see IJmuiden.  The air was so clean and clear that everything seemed closer than usual.

DB ran for 45 minutes.  I walked for 30 minutes.  Hopefully I’ll soon feel up to running too.

Hat

I made this hat over the past two days.  I’ve been down with a bad cold and frankly making this hat was about the only thing I had energy for.

A teenager in DB’s family is going through an especially difficult time and I made the hat for her.  She really likes slouchy hats and this one is slouchy.  I don’t have a photo of a person wearing it because I wanted to get it into the mail quickly, and hats look terrible on me.  I don’t have enough hair to wear hats successfully.  Hats make me look bald.

It’s a fun easy hat to make.  It’s called Rosebud, by Jared Flood.  The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in color Terrarium.  What lovely yarn!  Andy recently finished a sweater using this yarn and it looks stunning.  Maybe one day he’ll get around to blogging about it.

I hope the teenager in question likes the hat.  I hope she is doing ok.

First Snow

I took this photo from our bedroom window this morning.  Snow!  There are fewer trains running this morning and for a time there was a traffic jam on our street.

I hope my plants survive this winter.  Last winter there was a period of really cold hard freezing weather that nearly killed my roses (and they still haven’t really recovered) and killed our fig tree.  The new fig tree (in the blue pot) needs to be put into the ground before it freezes hard so he has a chance of survival.  Or move the pot closer to the house.

This weekend we’ll move the little pine tree that is in a pot into the house and decorate him.  This will be the 5th year we’ve had this little tree and he gets bigger every year.  I hope he survives a few more years in a pot because we have absolutely no where to plant him in the ground!

I was supposed to have an interview for a teaching job in Amsterdam this afternoon.  The woman I was to meet just called to say that we’d better reschedule to Monday because if I come by train I might not get home again!  Sometimes I think that the NS should send people to Switzerland for a winter to see how to run trains in snowy weather.  Swiss trains are never late and never canceled.  It’s not impossible to run trains in the cold!

Sinterklaas in de house

Sunday was the family Sinterklaas party.  The Sint himself showed up, along with 2 full sized Piets and 1 Mini-Piet (or Piet in training).  It was good fun, as always and the kids really loved it.  Unfortunately for us all, time does march on, and not all the “kids” believe anymore and are not included in the presents or fun of standing in front of the Sint to discuss the events of the past year.  I don’t know what will happen in 5 years time when none of them believe it anymore.  I guess we’ll have to wait until that generation starts having kids and then the cycle will begin again.

After Sinterklaas and the Piets left, we piled out presents into the center of the room and played the roll the dice game.  Inge is in charge of the rules and this year they were a little different again.  Change keeps thing interesting.  Everyone comes with 2 presents each (1 “from the attic” and 1 newly purchased).  DB and both left there with only 1 present each.  Everyone HAS to leave with something so we were lucky to get away with just 1 each.  I got a box with 2 of these plastic dryer things that are supposed to make your clothes wrinkle free.  DB got a wooden tray to carry me coffee up to bed on weekends. 🙂

Here are some photos, and at the end a little movie of the song we sing every year.  Tot de volgende jaar Sinterklaas!

(More photos here.  Info about the traditions of Sinterklaas here.)