Sunday, May 29, 2011

Amsterdam, The Bicycling City

This video has a bit "educational" tone, but is a good one. Amsterdammers love their bikes, despite the high index of stolen ones. Not only is the country flat, but the drivers are also polite towards people cycling. Sometimes, I even think that people bicycling become too pushy in their rights. For instance, in my village it is not uncommon that two or three people bike side by side, reducing all the speed of the traffic of cars behind them.  Or a protective parent that goes into the street with his/her five year old slowly practicing on the main street. I have also met people in Amsterdam with top jobs who raised kids and built a busy life withouth never owning a car - yes, it is possible. I hope I have never to drop my car in the future - my life would be more difficult without one, especially during rainy or very cold days. But everytime we have a "good weather" (=no rain) I use the bike. No doubt about it !

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Dutch Garden Center (with a French Allure)

A couple of days ago I decided to visit one of the local garden centers in my village, in order to be in contact witth the beauty of the new plants that arrive on Monday afternoons. I also wanted to check the new pots, vases, arrangements, statues and other articles. Maybe I would even buy something to cheer me up - although my house is already full !

There are a lot of French words and expressions on the furniture and pots this year. I remember years ago you would see rather Spanish and Italian. So instead of "Côte D'Azur"on a chair, you would spot "Costa Brava", "Las Canarias", or in Italian "La Bella Olanda", "La Vita è Bella", "Dolce Far Niente" writen - or things like that.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the border between "sweet" (above) and "tacky" (below).
Above the most expensive item in this garden center: the statue above. I am not sure about the material it is made of, probably zinc ? I'd rather prefer very heavy concrete and another theme. Surely not a figure holdin a weapon...
OMG, what nonsense is that ? Hahaha !  

Above, an idea that pleases me a lot: the support is from an original Singer sewing machine - with a marble top. It looks like one million ! If this was on sale, I would make an offer.

Well, I entered in this garden center in or der to sniff around for something special. I was not very sure about what I was looking for, I like concrete vases and images, for instance. There were some plants, like an olive tree, that I like A LOT - but it doe'sn't survive to an intense frost in Holland. (It was advised on a label that you should keep the little olive tree in a big concrete pot and remove the plant into your garage during the winter months. Oh, such an impractical plant to be kept in a cold country).  Finally, I have found something sweet and different that I ended up purchasing for my little girl. Have a look:

I think I can do a better mix that these above - I plan to use some leaves, herbs and a couple of mini roses.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Indonesian Chicken Satay (Kip Saté) [Saté de Frango]

While in the Netherlands you cannot escape tasting Surinamese, Chinese and above all Indonesian cuisine. Not everything is my fave, but certain dishes and combinations are just brilliant. Take Indonesian chicken satay (kipsateh) for example. When invited for a barbecue in the NL, certainly you will be served some. (Shocking for me at first - instead of several cuts of read meat during a barbecue, I was offered just a tiny stick with two or three pices of chicken and incomprehensible sweet/hot sauce. Made of... peanut ?  Are you kidding ?)

Well, when in Holland and invited for a barbecue I am already used to the fact that maybe no red meat will be served. Here is a recipe for a must have dish in the NL. I have found it on the internet and used it during the last "barbecue"at my in laws (I am not sure whether this is 100% Indonesian though) :  

my father in law in action...

Chicken Satay Marinade

Spice paste:                                                
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
2 stalks lemon grass                                                 
6 shallots (peeled)                                                 
2 cloves garlic (peeled)                                                 
4 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 teaspoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of turmeric powder (optional)                                                
4 spoons of Ketjap Manis
1 spoon of oyster sauce

Cut the chicken meat into small cubes. Grind the spice paste in a food processor. Add in a little water if needed. Marinate the chicken pieces with the spice paste for 10-12 hours. Thread the meat on to bamboo skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve hot with fresh cucumber pieces or a salad.

A traditional sauce for indonesian chicken satay as served in Holland in peanut sauce. There are many brands readily available in the supermarkets, you do not have to bother about preparing some.
 But I will tell you how to cheat when you cannot fancy going to the supermarket... My mother in law told me how to. When I am craving for peanut sauce and do not have any at home I just do like that:

I grab a small pan, fry some finely diced onions and garlic in sesame or sunflower oil, add peanut butter (in Dutch it is called pindakaas), some water and mix it. Warm it up until it thickens to your desired consistency. You can add some chili powder. Presto ! You have now some pretty good peanut sauce (pindasaus). Or almost, hehehe.

Kipsaté (chicken satay) goes very well with bread and salad - or french fries and a very simple salad of tomatoes and lettuce. It is easily found everywhere in the Netherlands and now you know how to make it also at home. Or at least cheat it, hahaha.
Eet smakelijk !
Bon appètit !
Enjoy ! 

Dutch kids love chicken satay

The Souldiers - Down on Me

A very simple video with Dutch sisters Sofie and Cato on the vocals, and their brother Joost van Dijck. The band is based in Amsterdam and strongly influenced by soul, funk en blues.
The Souldiers are also: Robin van Baaren, Christiaan Dros en Daniel de Vries.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dutch Duo Beautifies Slums in Rio

Since 2006, a Dutch artist duo named Haas & Hahn have been painting massive murals in Rio de Janeiro's most notorious slums. These are very poor and violent communities and the two artists had the help of the locals, in order to accomplish such projects.
An example below:

Is this a LSD trip or what ?

Cool !

The videos are in portuguese. I found great fun hearing the Dutch guys speaking portuguese, so recognizeable Dutch accent !

Pretty Wardrobe Doors [portas de guarda roupa]

The photo above was spotted by me on decoeuração blog here. When I see somthing I really like I copy it and insert in an archive about home interiors. Sometimes I have no clue how to accomplish the ideas or where to find the materials and objects, but I keep the photos anyway. For a while I was searching artistical ideas to be apinted on my son's wardrobe. Coincidentally, months after seeing the photo above I have seen another idea for kids - just the black silhouette of a drawing for kids. It was a mural on the kids corner of the town hall in my my village. See below:
O armário acima foi visto por mim no blog de(coeur)ação aqui. É um dos blogs que eu mais sigo e persigo. Quando eu vejo uma coisa que gosto muito eu copio a foto e coloco num arquivo relacionado a decoração de interiores. Às vezes eu nem sei como posso realizar algo ou onde encontrar os objetos, mas eu guardo a foto assim mesmo. Eu queria uma silhueta de um desenho para o guarda roupa do meu filho e coincidentemente, meses mais tarde eu vi uma outra ideia de tema para crianças com só a silhueta em preto do desenho. Foi no cantinho de espera para as crianças na prefeitura da minha village. Veja abaixo:

Isn't it amazing ? No colours, just the contour. As if it should be coloured with your own eyes and imagination.
Não é lindo ? Nenhuma cor, apenas o contorno. Como se fosse para ser colorido com os olhos e imaginação.  

And the idea of a silhouette is what my father graciously accomplished on the doors of my son's wardrobe. My father is a classy and very accletic artist - he does such works for the family pleasure and as a hobby. He has drawn and then painted just the countour of Milou (I am not sure how it is called in English) - but with a discreet touch of colour...

E foi isso que meu pai acabou realizando no guarda roupa do meu filho. Meu pai é fera ! Um artista muito caprichoso que faz esse tipo de tarefa só para a família. Ele passou a lápis e depois con tinta preta só o Milú das Aventuras de Tintim - cor um toquezinho de cor que fez toda a diferença...

It cuts my heart the fact that we will leave this pretty wardrobe behind, made by father under my request. While commenting this on the phone with him lately, he told me: "Me and your mother we are coming to Holland for the summer. You can start thinking what you would like as art on the wardrobe of your kids. For your son we can make something bolder now. Spaceships, dragons, Avatar or superheroes - think of what you would like, ask him what his tastes are. For your daughter maybe puppies, or a pair of butterflies/ladibugs & birds ? I will make anything you wish !"

Realmente me corta o coração deixar esse guarda-roupa para tras com uma arte especialmente feita pelo meu pai. Quando eu comentei isso no telefone com ele, meu pai me tranquizou: "Ih, nem se preocupe. Quando eu e sua mãe chegarmos aí eu faço outras coisas na casa nova. Vai vendo o que você quer e eu faço. Agora a gente pode pensar em algo mais elaborado pros seus filhos. Como naves espaciais, dragões ou com tema de super heróis ou desenho animado. Pra sua filha eu posso fazer coisas delicadas como gatinhos, ou só um par de borboletas e pássaros, bem delicado. Pensa aí que eu faço ! "

Maybe for my daughter in the new home I will go for a more "dreamy" theme, like the door above ? I have found this pic on the blog Design*Sponge  - but I do not have the link any longer.

Eu acho que ao invés de gatinhos eu vou de algo mais fantasioso como a porta acima ? Eu vi essa foto no blog Design*Sponge, mas eu nao tenho mais o link, infelizmente.

Above, a detail of a painting with 16 fairy tales my father made for my little girl in 2006, with his typical signature hidden somewhere - in this case on a tree branch. Have I told you guys that my father is just incredible ? I think the next wardrobe of hers must have indeed a touch of fantasy on the same style of this painting. Wait until the ende of the year and I will blog about it. With every phase of the painting, and maybe my father on the pics ? (hahaha, he is such a shy guy...)   

Acima, detalhe de uma pintura que meu pai fez para minha filha, durante o ano de nascimento dela - 2006. É típico dele assinar a pintura com uma dedicatória em algum lugar escondidinho. Meu pai não é um artista incrível ? Acho que o próximo guarda-roupa dela vai ter uma arte feita pelo meu pai nessa mesma linha da pintura. Esperem até o final do ano e verão aparecer aqui no blogueto. Acho que vou postar cada fase da pintura - e talvez até colocar meu pai nas fotos ? (caramba, ele é tímido, hihihi !)
This is the wardrobe she has, made of mdf. Because we have a new house I have decided not to request any special decoration on this one. I have just bought some door hangers and that's it.

Esse e'o guarda roupa da minha filha, feito de mdf. Eu decidi que esse não terá nenhuma arte especial, já que estamos com uma casa nova. Só comprei uns puxadores para dar um charminho e pronto.
The door hangers are from Zara Home, located on the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam. Zara has amazing accessories and objects for home. If you have the chance when in Amsterdam please do visit this shop (the Home section is located on the 4th floor), I highly recommend it. Have a look on these knobs I have bought for the wardrobe doors in my new home:
Os puxadores acima são da loja Zara (Home), situada na Kalverstraat em pleno centro de Amsterdam. Eu vivo fuçando as coisas lindas de lá. Os acessórios, cabides, espelhos, almofadas... tudo magnífico.  Se passarem por Amsterdam nunca deixam de visitar a Zara, recomendo. Dêem uma olhada nos puxadores de porta de eu comprei para os armários da casa nova:

Elegant, aren't they ?
Uma graça, não ?

For my husband's wardrobe I have chosen these squared ones below, they remind me of cufflinks.

Para o armário do meu marido eu escolhi esses puxadores quadrados e sóbrios que mais parecem abotoaduras, não acham ?

This is a detail of the final result, below:
E depois do armário do meu marido ser pintado por mim, coloquei as abotoaduras os puxadores e o resultado ficou assim:

I wore plastic gloves to do this job and fortunately I didn't have to worry much about occasional paint drops on the ground, because the floor was not installed yet. But I couldn't stop the whole time thinking about DIY programmes I had watched on the telly. The women do painting work while wearing rings and bracelets, smiling, with pretty hair. This makes you feel dirty, ugly and incompetent in the real life. After three days busy with the painting (whie the kids are asking for cookies, or for a ball, calling me from the rest room, and telling that a friend threw a pot with flowers into the canal and that I must come asap to rescue it, **sigh**) I reached some conclusions. One of them is that you shouldn't watch DIY programmes on the TV. Never. You will be fine without them.
Dureza viu gente ? Dureza pintar um guarda-roupa inteiro (levou mais de três dias, esperando sempre cada camada secar antes de aplicar a próxima). Ainda mais com crianças e amiguinhos correndo por uma casa vazia, pedindo biscoito/água/bola/limpar bumbum no banheiro/resgatar vaso-de-flor-que-o-amiguinho-jogou-no-canal-do-quintal... ô paciência que que tenho, viu ? E também cheguei à conclusão que é tudo mentira nesses programas de "faça você mesmo" que eu vejo na televisão. Eles sempre fazem questao de colocar mulheres/apresentadoras sei lá, usando bijuterias, boas roupas e cabelos soltos fazendo esse tipo de serviço, sorrindo enquanto fazem comentários. Eu prendi os cabelos e usei luvas de plástico e ainda assim sujei os braços e as pernas. Suei, fiquei péssima de tensão e desapontada com a falta de elogios (Ha ! Holandês não elogia e além do mais marido e sogro também andam ralando muitíssimo com pintura de teto e parede). Não vou ver nunca mais esses programas na televisão.  

Luckily, all the wardrobes were already painted inside when we bought the house. Luckily.
 Felizmente, tudo jé estava pintado por dentro dos armários quando compramos a casa. Felizmente.

Above, the final result with the door painted by myself. I think it is a ver good result.
Acima, o resultado final, com as portas pintadas por mim. Ficou bonito.

Above in the new house: my wardrobe, and below my daughter's. I am really joining courage to paint the basis and then start with the colour (light yellow/beige)so that my father can perform an amazing work of art on it.

More two wardrobes that need a coat painting, pffffff ! But I really have no mood for that now... ****SIGH ****
Mais dois guarda roupas que precisam de tinta base e duas camadas de tinta, ui-ui... Tô morta e sem coragem. Mas eu sou brasileira e não desisto nunca, então...
(to be continued...)

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Would You Do ? (Wat Zou Je Doen ?)

Despite the sunglasses, none of them are in the Matrix (I think...)

BLØF is a rock/pop group from south Holland (the province of Zeeland) who is since 1992 producing many hits - a total 35 singles & 20 albums so far. Below you can listen to a pretty song - "What would you do ?" that I have freely translated into English. The hit is from 19998. Oldie but good ! One of my fave songs in Dutch.  (Note: "Zou" can be annoying when translated into English. It can be employed as "shall" in some situations, but in this case I have opted for "would". If, if, if... grrr ! The conditional and suppositions can drive us crazy !)

(double click on the video to go to the original Youtube page)
Wat Zou Je Doen ?

Wat zou je doen, als ik hier opeens weer voor je stond
Wat zou je doen, als ik viel, hier voor je op de grond
Wat zou je doen, als ik dat deed

Wat zou je doen, als ik je gezicht weer in mijn handen nam
Wat zou je doen, als ik met mijn mond dichtbij de jouwe kwam
Wat zou je doen, als ik dat deed

Zou je lachen, zou je schelden
Zou je zeggen dat ik een klootzak ben
Zou je janken, zou je vloeken
Zou je zeggen dat je me niet meer kent
Zou je lachen, zou je schelden, van verdriet

Wat zou je zeggen, als ik met mijn vingers door je haar zou gaan
Wat zou je zeggen, als we samen voor de spiegel zouden staan
Wat zou je zeggen, als ik dat deed

Wat zou je zeggen, als ik vertelde over al die tijd
Wat zou je zeggen, als ik zei: Ik heb van al die tijd toch echt geen spijt
Wat zou je zeggen, wat zou je doen, als ik dat deed

Zou je lachen, zou je schelden
Zou je zeggen dat ik een klootzak ben
Zou je janken, zou je vloeken
Zou je zeggen dat je me niet meer kent
Zou je lachen, zou je schelden, van verdriet

Wat zou je doen, als ik hier opeens weer voor je stond
Wat zou je doen, als ik viel hier voor je op de grond
Wat zou je doen, als ik dat deed

Zou je lachen, zou je schelden
Zou je zeggen dat ik een klootzak ben
Zou je janken, zou je vloeken
Zou je zeggen dat je me niet meer kent
Zou je lachen, zou je schelden, van verdriet

Wat zou je doen
What would you do ?

What would you do, if I suddenly appeared in front of you ?
What you you do, if I fell at your feet on the ground ?
What would you do, if I did that ?

What would you do, if I took your face in my hands ?
What would you do, if I came with my mouth next to yours ?
What would you do, if I did that ?

Would you laugh, would you scold me ?
Would you say I am a loser ?
Would you cry, would you curse me ?
Would you say you do not know me ?
Would you laugh (at me) or cry from sadness ?

What would you say, if I ran my fingers along your hair ?
What would you say, if we both stood up in front of a mirror ?
What would you say, if I did that ?

What would you say, if I told you all about that time ?
What would you say, if I said: I do not regret anything about it
What would you say, what would you do, if I did that ?

Would you laugh, would you scold me ?
Would you say I am an idiot ?
Would you cry, would you curse me ?
Would you say you do not know me ?
Would you laugh (at me) or cry from sadness ?

What would you do, if I suddenly appeared in front of you ?
What you you do, if I fell at your feet on the ground ?
What would you do, if I did that ?

Would you laugh, would you scold ?
Would you say I am an imbecile ?
Would you cry, would you curse me ?
Would you say you do not know me ?
Would you laugh (at me) or cry from sadness ?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Feeling hot, hot, hot !

Another beautiful hot day in Amsterdam; summer has definitely arrived earlier !

Where is your favourite place to soak up the sun  ?

(   ) Zandvoort, or any other beach
(   ) The Vondelpark, or any park in the country
(   ) A terrace at a café
(   ) Own backyard
Fairy-tale Vondelpark, as I have seen it during the last Queen's day