Monday, May 31, 2010

Front Door

Hahahaha !!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cafézinho and Koffie

Brazilian coffee: tastes round, very round. When you drink it with milk just like in the photo above, you miss the nuances of wood and fruit - heresy ! But well, it reminds me of my childhood. "Cafe' com leite", mmmm... (in Dutch it is called Koffie verkeerd or "wrong coffee")
I receive many e-mails from people asking me about Brazil, Brazilian language, culture, how/where to learn Portuguese in the NL, etc. etc.. Also people asking me randoms about the Dutch habits and culture. Complicated things like...
How to order your coffe in a bar ?

Lately I am loving the videos from Street Smart Brazil blog. Its a great medium to learn about many Brazilian traces, habits, gastronomy and so on. Wanna know about the country ? Then Read SSB blog. Example ? Check this vide about how to order coffee .
And also this one about the history of coffee I have just found in Youtube. The presentator is such a funny guy, I love all his videos !
Holland - and Europe as general - are another story regarding coffee consumption. You sit down and have a cookie with it - only one.
You sit down and calmly... drink... your coffee... calmly sipping with pauses.
Holland is big in coffe rituals b.t.w - it is called koffie drinken.
Would you like it black (koffie zwart), with lots of milk (koffie verkeerd) or with some drops of evaporated milk  (met koffiemelk) ?   With or without sugar cubes ? (met of zonder suiker klontjes) ?
It is something from the last decade or so that Brazilians are sitting down to savour it. Cause commonly you just down a tiny cup in two sips - while on the go ! You drink it to wake up, you drink it to relax, you drink it after drinking alcohol and before driving, after lunch, after dinner, when checking out at a motel, you drink it to brush away your sadness and you drink it when bumping into a friend on the street. Always on the run !
Now excuse me I am going to have a cup before I go to zzzzzz...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Trijntje Oosterhuis - Somebody Else's Lover

Her name is unpronounceable: Trijntje Oosterhuis. Dammit !

Many Dutch singers built up a career singing English songs. Check how Judith Katrijntje sounds clicking on her pic above.

Check her biography here. Remarkably, a huge Brazilian audience is quite used to her voice 'cause in 2009 and 2010, her music "What the World Needs Now" was the theme of the protagonist "Helena" of Brazilian TV novel "Viver a Vida" made by Rede Globo (being watched ty estimaded 120 million people daily).

Have a nice weekend you all!

Psst! Can somebody tell me where I can find a colossal baroque ring like hers ? -Lovit ! ;)

By e-mail

Oi Anita,
Lembrei docê quando vi esse grafitti aqui em Haia. Dai tirei essa foto pra te mandar.
Oi Daniel,
Oba, obrigada !

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview # 9: Lopa Mehta

Today a sweet blogger and multi talented young woman who came from a country that fascinates and intrigues us all: India. I have talked to Lopa Mehta in the virtual world and here is what she has to share with us:

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your blogs.

I am a Project Controller in the oil, gas & petrochemical sector of a company in the Rotterdam area. And I am in Netherlands since June 2008, so it will be 2 years now.

Blogging is a way to share my passion towards life to all the people around. When moved here in 2008, after initial excitement started missing family and friends who were no more at "a stone thrown away"distance. That resulted in a search for a medium to vent it out and blogging came out as a perfect one.
I have three blogs right now. One is my personal blog in which I write about day to day events whatever struck me, some thing I experience or something I come across and sometimes just sharing the thought process. Another is my painting blog where I share my passion for painting. I am trying to consolidate all the work I have done until my school days and continue sharing. Third one is on cooking. It is not impossible but still a bit difficult to be vegetarian in Europe which I had never realised can be the case until we moved here. I keep looking for different things to try my hands at and during one of those moments it struck me "why not to document it in a proper way?" Then it will be useful to myself in future when I want to re-try something I had tried for the first time with trial and error and loved it...hehehe

In India we have a tradition on putting henna before wedding...there is a pic of my henna design before my own wedding.

And why the NL ? Love or work ?

Let’s say: both, hahaha ! Actually, because of my husband’s work. He had been traveling to Netherlands on and off for various projects. Too much travelling didn't allow us to spend as much time together as much we would like. After our marriage in 2008, we decided to accept the offer to move here in stead of continuous traveling so that we can enjoy the new phase of our life with more time with each other. So that's love and work that we are here.
Above: Lopa and Ashu during their wedding day.
Below: after marriage reception.
Indian weddings are very bright events, which lasts traditionally for 5 days but nowadays it can be more or less depending on how one wants it. Celebrations last for days.... music, dance, good food... you are bound to put on considerable weight in wedding season and which is normal in India.
Our wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted, but now a days it is mixed with local language for better understanding for people involved. (We learn the language in school, but it is not practiced in routine life and so most of us don't understand it all, like my Dutch ! )
There are so many rituals that if write about all it will take a long post (may be several posts) and also rituals vary with different states of India. For different rituals from the part of India I am from:
here !

We compacted pre-wedding ceremonies in one day in stead of 3 days and had a after-marriage party for all the friends and a marriage reception for all the relatives by my parents. (For which they distributed 1500 invitation cards, and we were standing greeting everyone for more than 3-4 hours, so tiring...hehe) So in the end it tuned out 4 days affair even after all the compactness !
(Some more links on Indian weddings? Click
here and here and here.)

What surprised you most when you arrived In Holland?

There isn't anything particular which strikes me as a surprise, considering my love for reading and also global excess through media. But... yes, the first thing that struck me after moving here was that it is so beautiful ! I loved the way we can experience the four seasons here, in India we never noticed spring or autumn the way it paints everything here. When we used to walk in the evening we would see those wonderful colors, flowers and houses at canals and people sitting beside it in their yards enjoying sun, we used to think we would like to have a house like that one day and it was a dream come true when we got one !

Have you lived out of India before moving to the NL ? Have you had a cultural shock in the NL ?
No, I haven't lived out of India before moving to the NL. But if you consider India, every state has a different culture and different language. So idea of totally different culture and unknown language wasn't that frightening. I didn't have a cultural shock in that regard but yes I had to make some adjustments in new surrounding. One is weather, never faced such short and even long days ! Then Language, it's one of those difficult languages which one might start understanding over the time but still takes lots of practice to speak and pronounce correctly, something I am still struggling with.

How do you cook here ? Can you find all of your favorite ingredients ?
To be honest there isn't much comparison here, as I hardly cooked back home. It was only after moving here I started realizing passion for cooking which I hold. So my cooking is more like a fusion cooking with whatever available. But, yes - at times we get craving for that typical food we used to eat back home and which is not possible here to get even in Indian restaurant ( which I will say not very much Indian. In a way, it is a bit of customised taste to suit European tastebuds), in that case we get almost all the ingredients from Indian stores. But still sometimes it's impossible to ignore the bit of difference which spices bring... like same spices if we buy here and we buy back home, they are different. There are so many spices those are used in Indian cuisine ( ) and I was delighted that we could find almost everything here but still i prefer some spices which I feel noticeable difference in taste from back home, sometimes mom parcels them and always when we go India, we bring with us.
Above: a vegetarian main course... that's probably what you will eat if you come to my place for a party ... some Indian food.

What do you like most about your "Dutch life" ?

What I love most of this "Dutch life" is balance ! Balance between professional and personal life. The way everyone understands the fact that "You work to live and don't live to work". It is expected that family will always be first priority for everyone. Also the fact I have more time for my hobbies and I am able to pursue so many things I have always wanted. The Dutch are very friendly people and I have found them always very helpful.
Being vegetarian I have not had much luck with the Dutch cuisine. In fact whenever we are out dining it was always a surprise to see all the international cuisines and hardly a few restaurants serving only Dutch cuisine. I like peasoup - the vegetarian version of course - applepies, different vlaais and also potato Bram (frites) if you call it part of Dutch cuisine. I will consider it as I was never a fan od fries and I normally avoided it, but once I had them here with mayo, I crave for more whenever I come across them. They are fresh and different than all the French fries available anywhere else in the world.
Above and below: pics of Navratri ( nav = nine, ratri = nights), that is an Indian festival in which people dress in traditional dresses and do traditional dance for nine nights... That's a pic of me and my brother, ready for the festival and other pic is my sis with her friends in the open grounds enjoying the festival.

What do you miss the most from your homeland ?

Family, friends, food, sun, language :)
And also culture of no appointment any time for friends... hehehe

What have you learned about yourself after living here in the NL ?

Lots of things. I understand more the uniqueness of every culture, I understand how all the different cultures can prevail side by side in harmony.
I appreciate people putting efforts in learning something new more than ever now. When I hear some funny pronunciations from a foreigner it is no more a bit funny but it strikes me more clearly now that it only means their edge over us, that they know one more language than us !
I also learned my potential to manage issues, to learn new things, to adopt new habits.

Above: Rangoli... that's designs people make in front of their house on new year... this design was made by me and my sis during my last diwali back home.

Next pics: some touristical places Lopa would like to share with us. I would like to add that all photos and links in this post were provided by Lopa herself. Thanks a lot Lopa !! And also big thanks to Ashu for pemitting me to post here their wedding photos.

Above: Khajuraho Temple. Check info here.

Above: Orchha. More here.

Above: Banaras ("Varanasi"). Probably the oldest city of India.

Above, Dwarka city: Indian God Shiva

Above: balloon flight, in Rotterdam. Woohoo, bye guys !!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Question of Taste (Decide yourself)

Above: Rene Froger. As he gets olds, he could easily be in the blog "Men who look like old lesbians". (Rene, hon, you should fire your makeup artist and your hair stylist.) He is the only hetero of the trio, b.t.w..

Singer and presentator Gordon. Photo: Now and then he has some cat fights with Gerad Joling. Well, how much credibility has a guy who at age 19 tried to commit suicide taking a bunch of vitamins ?

Gerard Joling. Photo: I think from the three he is the most sincere and genuine. But... He is always too busy promoting hair transplant and complaining about Gordon. How cool is that ?

It is incredible how De Toppers are immensely popular in the Netherlands. Men and women, young and old, hetero and gay, foreginers and cloggies, millions of people love them. Now and then during my fitness I have to stare at two large televisons while Gordon, Rene and Gerard Joling are performing (I cannot run away, damned !). The song "Rood" is unbearable, aargh !! (The problem when you understand another language is that it is not background sound anymore. So you understand things you preferred you had not. But well... what is heard cannot be unheard and what has been seen cannot be unseen. Aaargh !! ) Incredible how even some nice lyrics of Marco Borsato can become something cheap in their mouths.
De Toppers in Concert here. That's exactly the video I compulsorily have to watch twice a week while doing cardio on the step machine. I close my eyes for a while but I cannot block my ears with my hands. (Actually some people in the fitness center are already commenting on my back that I am this kind os weird girl that sometimes exercise with the eyes closed).

Pay attention to their clothes, their acting, the dancers and judge yourself. But, hey ! Maybe you like it ... who knows ?

See you next week !

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blueberry Blondie (Blondie de Mirtilo)

I have found this recipe at Carla Duc's blog, "Entre Panelas", who in turn found it in "Chocolatria" blog. It takes no chocolate and goes perfect with a cup of coffe or tea. Here goes a translation (pls, as always forgive me eventual mistakes with the language):

1 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup dark sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
1 tea spoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup fresh blueberries
Spread some butter in the baking tray (I used one of 30x20cm) and sprinkle some flour.
Preheat the oven at 180ºC.
In a bowl, mix the melted butter with the sugar.
Add the egg and the vanille essence, mix well.
Add the cup of flour, the baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix with care using a fouet or a spatula. Pour delicately in the baking tray and add the berries.

Insert it in the oven and let it bake for aprox. 25min or a little bit longer. Do not let it too long in the oven - it may get too dry inside. If you wish, sprinkle some powder sugar on it before serving.
(Is that all ? Yes ! As I had told you: easy !!)

A receita do post de hoje se chama "Blondie de Blueberry" e eu peguei la no blog da Carla Duc, o Entre Panelas. Ela por sua vez viu a receita no blog Chocolatria.
1/2 xic. de manteiga ou margarina derretida
1 xic. de açúcar mascavo escuro
1 ovo levemente batido
1 colher (chá) de baunilha
1/2 colher (chá) de fermento em pó
1/8 colher (chá) de bicarbonato de sódio
1 xic. de farinha de trigo
3/4 xic. de blueberries – usei frescas
Modo de Fazer:
1. Pré-aqueça o forno a 180ºC.
2. Em uma tigela, derreta a manteiga e misture o açúcar mascavo.
3. Adicione o ovo, a baunilha e misture bem.
4. Adicione a farinha, o fermento e o bicarbonato peneirados e misture delicadamente com um fouet ou espátula.
5. Despeje esta mistura em uma fôrma untada e polvilhada de tamanho de cerca de 20×20cms e espalhe por cima os blueberries.
6. Leve para assar por cerca de 25-30 minutos. Cuidado para passar do ponto, senão poderá ficar ressecado.
7. Desenforme, corte em quadrados e caso deseje, polvilhe com açúcar de confeiteiro.

Essa é a receita original. Como eu não tinha bicarbonato de sódio, eu não usei. Acho que não modificou o resultado. Como eu não tinha nenhuma forma de 20 x 20cm eu dobrei a receita e usei uma forma de alumínio de cerca de 30cm x 20cm. O blondie ficou perfeito ! Acho que fica muito com um café, chá ou chocolate quente.

As forminguinhas lá em casa adoraram o blondie.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Above: Maya, Bahuan and Raj, the main characters of drama "Caminho das Indias" ("Indian Route" or "The Indian Way") a popular Brazilian telenovela filmed in India, Dubai and Brazil with Brazilian actors. Teaser here and opening here. Due to the enormous immigration and miscegenation in Brazil the country counts with a population exhibiting all sorts of racial features. Apparently, Globo Television seems to be concerned last years in informing the masses via telenovelas about the cultural /religious/ economical aspects of countries with an ancient and complex culture such as China and India - main players of BRIC and direct competitors of Brazil in a new economical order. Caminho das Indias was a huge 2009 success - it seems that feijoada with curry made a good combi ! Actually, Brazilian women sometimes may look like Indian women - so much that they are acting in Bollywood films as you can see in this article from Epoca magazine.

Should I buy a package of products from O GLOBO Television in order to enjoy their wonderful documentaries, comedies and programs for kids ( I pass the novelas, thank you) ? Why not ? My children would get more fluent in Portuguese and probably it would also boost my husbands knowledge of the language .

Above: Brazilian actress Graziella Massafera, star of Negocio da China (China Business).

The risk is... I wll never again peek at Dutch programmes. I have worked hard to understand Dutch and if I dive exclusively into Brazilian programmes there will be no return to Dutch TV.
(Hooray !? Hurrah !?)
Above: "O Clone", starring Giovanna Antonelli as "Jade". Filmed in Brazil and Morocco, it had 221 chapters. Check it for example here. Proof that couscous and churrasco do match well !
Many Brazilian soap operas portrait the Colonial Brazil from centuries ago or are contemporary dramas with the story being partially recorded abroad.

Above: Rubens de Falco and Lucelia Santos in "A Escrava Isaura" (Isaura, The Slave), a 1976 production - a soap about the Brazilian society of mid XIX century, with the divison of landowners/farmers opposite to the slaves. Opening here. Audiences cried so much with the slaves' tortures and Isaura's personal dramas. Some curiosities: the sop opera when broadcasted in Russia made the country incorparate the term "fazenda" (farm) into its vocabulary. When Lucelia and Rubens visited Poland, more people were on the streets than when during the Pope's visit. And the population collected some money in order "to free Isaura" (???). There was cease fire during the war in Bosnia when the soap opera went on air. Actress Lucélia Santos became this huge star in China when "Escrava Isaura" was one of the first Western programs to be shown in the 1970s Popular Republic of China. Many Chinese children were named "Isaula" in her hommage. Lucelia has since the 80's regularly travelled to Chinese countriside making documentaries. Former Brazilian president Frenando Henrique Cardoso took Lucelia with him during his official visit to China, and he was shadowed by Lucelia's charisma.

Above: TV Colosso ("Colossus TV", may also mean something as "TV with a bone", com osso") . Children's programme from the 90's. A new version of it may come back to TV in 2011.

Above: Fatima Bernardes and William Bonner, presentators of Jornal Nacional, 2007. After all these years living in the NL I still miss watching the couple presenting the news on TV. It is 8pm, you have already had your dinner, the kids are asleeping and all you need is relax in the couch hearing to Fatima & William in order to get updates about what's going on in Brazil and the world.

Check how the opening (1'15) of Jornal Nacional is here (with Renato Machado and Sandra Annenberg) or how Fatima and William comment Obama's election here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Search: A Garden With Character

Sometimes when I walk around in my village I have the impression some people like to make from their tiny gardens a sort of hommage to amusement parks. People display a statue of Venus de Milo surrounded by seven dwarves, lots of moles, ducks and gnomes, ladybugs and horns, you name it.
On the next photos, a very popular theme: windmills.

I am not so sure whether I like such horns or not. I am not sure of its symbolism or whether it gives a pleasant impression. However, the garden where it is situated is very beautiful.
Photos above and below were made in Zaandam. The flowers are fake (plastic) and are adorning the entrance wall of this house during the four seasons. Clogs - together with windmills and bikes - are another faves for a garden. Soooo cliche ! Flowers on the wall can be a good substitute for the absence of a garden.

Pretty table huh ? The legs are in iron, the table top is made of stone. Another good option when you do not have space enough for a garden.

After the windmills, bikes get a good second place in popularity. I will upadate this post later with more bikes.

Above and the next photos: maybe the most interesting objects in a garden: those which are re-purposed and recycled.

We had a baby bathtub just like this one pictured above.
I do not know the original purpose of this copper pipe, but certainly it was not a vase for flowers. It is pretty, though.
I love this one above, I have already published here last year.
What is this ? A well ? Made of... tin ???
Above (2009) and the same object in a 2010 version below.
Wagons are always gorgeous !

2009 (above) and 2010 (below)

Has anybody a spare sink to give me ? Or an old stove, a beaten cupboard, a vintage suitcase ? An old bike, a toilet pot, a mailbox or a canoe (a kayak will also do) ? Any interesting piece of a ruin from a castle, church/cathedral ? THIS IS SERIOUS I AM NOT JOKING. Help me please ! I need to give my garden a boost !!