June 29, 2010

The Master

The day.

The event.

The heat.

The skirt.

The work.

The end.

June 28, 2010

Left-Hand Photo

Smarts & Crafts has started their Weekly Photo Assignments again!

The assignment for last week: take a photo of your left hand. You can play along with this week's assignment and also view more left hand photos, here.

June 24, 2010

New Shoes

I never thought I would ever write this: I bought a pair of Crocs.

But wait! That's not all. 

I bought a pair of Crocs, and I LOVE them! 

Seriously, these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have worn in a very long time. I am about to do some major traveling so I needed something that I could walk for days-on-end in AND still look stylish and cute. I love the squishy foam under my feet and the nubby insides as I walk.

I'm not the only one who is singing the praises of Crocs. In a recent New York Times article in the Fashion & Style section, Jon Caramanica writes of his new Crocs, "airy and casual and... on, what were you asking again? I couldn't hear you over the deafening sensation of peace."

Now as for the Jibbitz, I am not sure I would add one on my shoe, but maybe I would add this one for today's journey.

Bon voyage!

June 23, 2010

Waterloo 1815

I spend a lot of time in Waterloo, but this weekend Jon and I took a ride there on a date.
Our bikes on the B.

Every five years, the infamous Battle of Waterloo is reenacted just outside of Waterloo, Belgium. Last Sunday was the end of a three day celebration marking the 195th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat. Jon and I had tickets to see the two hour show. About 3,000 people participate in historically accurate costume and formation.
Cannons. They shot blanks.

A French soldier.
More French soldiers. Note their authentic canteens and costumes.

I had no idea of what to expect and I didn't really know much at all about the Battle, I was just thrilled to go. I thought it would be fun! We had tickets to sit in the stands and we had a great view. Typical Belgian, it rained and was also 40 degree weather, but WHAT A SHOW!

The beginning, and the British waiting it out...
The slow, grueling battle; everyone is keeping their distance, moving forward cautiously.
French formations returning British, Belgian, Dutch, and German fire.

I think these are the Prussians... I should have paid more attention in history class.

Napoleon is in the bottom right of this photo. He waved to the crowd and got a standing ovation. 

It's getting intense: the French are surround and the British are coming!

Prussians to the rescue! (They helped the British defeat Napoleon.)

The reenactment followed the formations and positions of all who fought that day. It was like a live game of RISK happening in front of my eyes. Our tickets included entry to museums and monuments in Waterloo, and that's where I learned more about the Battle of 1815 and the Duke of Wellington.

After the battle, we made our way up the Lion's Mound. 
There are 266 steps to the top.

From the top, this is a view of the field where the battle reenactment took place.
And this is a portion of the land where 140,000 soldiers fought in 1815. The rectangular monument in the distance represents Napoleon's camp.

I surprise myself when I say that this was one of the best things I have ever done, and I am not a history or war buff, at ALL! It was just so very interesting.
To learn more about the Battle of Waterloo, I like the BBC British History website, and of course there is always Wikipedia

The Kröller-Müller Musuem

Last week I visited The Kröller-Müller Museum which is situated in the heart of the Hogue Valuwe National Park near the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands. The story behind this park is pretty fascinating. It was originally a great hunting ground at the turn of the century owned and operated by the Kröller-Müller family.

The lodge.

There is a shared bicycle system in the park.

All you have to do, once you pay the entrance fee, is hop on a bike and view the vast landscapes in the Hogue Valuwe, which ranges from desert-like sand dunes to green forests.

Theses lovely purple bell-flowers were scattered throughout the park. I wish I knew their name...

It's a lovely ride, and easy too - very flat.

Eventually, you end up at The Kröller-Müller Musuem. Does this look familiar?
K-Piece by Mark Di Suvero, 1972.

The collection of the Kröller-Müller was started and maintained by Helene Kröller-Müller. In 1905, she took an art appreciation course and began to collect the one of the largest, most-renown collections of modern art, including the second largest collection of van Gogh paintings and drawings.
Photo from here.

Let's take a look at the collection, shall we?

Perhaps the most famous painting in the collection: 
Terrace of a café at night (Place du Forum)
Vincent van Gogh, 1888

The man himself:
Self-portrait, 1887

Other van Gogh paintings that I saw: 
The Sower, 1888

Country road in Provence by night, 1890.

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, 1889

And my new favorite work by van Gogh:

La Berceuse (portrait of Madame Roulin), 1889

The red and greens in this portrait really captured my attention, but especially the detail and impasto of the background. Van Gogh's recreation of the wallpaper is intricate and lovely, much more so than the facial details of the sitter. The raised glob of white paint, dabbed where a diamond should be on her ring finger, is an interesting detail I noticed while standing in front of this painting.

These little nuances are undetectable in a book or poster. This is why I love museums. They are sacred spaces to me. I also love this aspect of museums -
They are incredible places to learn.

Ok, I am nearing the end of this post, but I have saved the best for last.

These last two works of art had me at hello.

Redon's Cyclops!
The cyclops by Odilon Redon, 1914(?)

I nearly fell on the floor when I turned the corner and saw this painting on the wall, because this painting  has always captured my attention, and perhaps my heart. I simply adore this painting for the subject matter and the surrealistic manner in which it is portrayed. This is not the evil monstrosity I usually imagine when I think of a cyclops, Redon's version is endearing.

And, last but not least: 
Trowel by Claes Oldenberg, 1971

I love Claes! His work always brings a smile to my face and makes me feel young at heart. He is definitely on my dinner party guest list. 

June 21, 2010


I mentioned that I was drinking Dutch hot chocolate in yesterday's post. I just wanted to share some information of the brand and this rad tin I picked up for Mr. Wonderful. He is a firm believe in consumable gifts, and I liked this vintage looking tin.

Droste cocoa is a product of the Netherlands. It's main difference from brands like Hershey's and  Ghiradelli is that is treated with alkali to neutralize cocoa's natural acidity. Supposedly Dutch cocoa has a finer taste and doesn't over power other ingredients especially when baking. Since I can't bake in our apartment, (for lack of an oven), I can only imagine the taste of this recipe using Dutch cocoa powder from Smitten Kitchen. In the meantime, I can make a mean cup of hot chocolate with a little bit of milk, sugar and love. 

There is a technique in design called the Droste effect and is derived from the illustrations on this tin. It is interesting and you can read more about it here. Jon is thrilled to know this information, "It means so much more now." Ha!

I enjoyed yesterday's cup of chocolate and this morning's coffee in my new mug from the Kröller Müller Museum.
It was a gift, and it depicts the painting Country Road in Provence by Night by Vincent van Gogh. More on that tomorrow.

June 20, 2010

My Love Affair with Europe

Today was such a wonderful day!

We rode the train and our bicycles to Waterloo to watch the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. Despite the 40 degree weather, this has to have been one of the best days EVER! I took a ton of pictures and will share more later this week.

Right now I am sipping Dutch cocoa, listening to Brazilians and Belgians in the street make some noise over Brazil's 3:1 victory over Côte d’Ivoire. And to top it off, there was a Royal Wedding this past weekend! 

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweeden married Daniel Westling, her former trainer.

Photo of the happy and adorable couple from The Huffington Post.

This is quite the fairytale, except this time HE meets his Princess Charming. It is so sweet!!!!

More pictures and stories here, here, and my personal favorite: here.

It's 10:00 at night and there is still some daylight left;

Yup, I have a serious crush on Europe.

June 19, 2010

Arnhem, Netherlands

A few photos from this past week:

1. My hat; 2. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery; 3. bowling fun; 4. The view from the river, also where I capsized my canoe; 5. The White Bikes of Hoge Veluwe National Park; 6. Bruce Nauman at the Kröller Müller Museum; 7. My boy and favorite artist ever: Claes Oldenburg(!); 8. Dutch drawbridge at the Open Air Museum; 9. Dutch clogs; 10. Horsee!