Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday Fragments- May 28, 2010

We had a rather nice birthday get together for Martijn last night and I didn't go to bed until after 2. Therefore, once again, I am fragmenting a little late.

  • I'm in the process of breaking up with Firefox. I stubbornly stuck with them because the other browsers didn't offer all the same sorts of wild magic extensions and add-ons but now Chrome will do most of what I want. There is no reason for me to be wildly frustrated because it completely eats up ALL THE RESOURCES on my netbook and makes it run like a slug. NO MORE!

  • Eindhoven is officially the "least safe city" in The Netherlands again! Perhaps that has something to do with the measly amount of police officers. Just to give you an idea- Rotterdam has 1 police officer for every 232 inhabitants. Eindhoven has 1 per 382. For the largest city outside of the Randstad, that doesn't seem like much. Honestly though, I don't spend much time worrying about being unsafe here. There are a couple of places that I wouldn't want to be alone in the dark here but for the most part it's not bad.

  • My inburgering portfolio was accepted the second time around. In the typical manner of the organization (I use the term loosely here) that takes care of things, they screwed up and sent a bill instead of just deducting the cost from my "student loan." We had to call and straighten that out and now I'm just waiting for the letter that says when my panel interview is so that I can reschedule it (since I'm 99% sure it will be scheduled for sometime when I'm gone).

  • Speaking of being gone, we're leaving REALLY SOON! We fly out of Schiphol on the 8th and get to SLC at a very very very late hour. We have a 7 1/2 hour layover in Houston. Does anyone know of anything interesting to do around the airport there?

  • I found a sewing basket jam packed full of stuff at the thrift store today for €3.75 so I snatched it up. I always think that it's interesting to go through other peoples sewing goodies. I'll keep some of it and pass on the rest. I haven't decided if I'll keep the basket. I'm thinking no, but I might change my mind!

  • I love strawberry season. The little teeny ones are so so freaking good that it makes me never want to eat tasteless out of season ones.

Mommy's Idea

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sewing Scissors

Scissor Group

Today we are going to talk about sewing scissors! I think that having the right tool for the job is really important. It can mean the difference between enjoying something and getting completely frustrated with it and never wanting to do it again!

Dressmaker's Shears


These 8" shears have a bent handle which allows the lower blade to stay flat on a cutting surface. They're most commonly used for cutting out fabric and patterns, but PLEASE for the love of everything holy don't use the same pair of scissors to cut your patterns and your fabric. I have a similarly shaped orange handled pair of Fiskars for cutting pattern paper. If I'm being honest, my good shears are probably my least used pair of scissors because I prefer to use a rotary cutter and mat for cutting out. When I first moved here I was stuck without them and missed them, so they do have their uses.

Tailor Points

Tailor Points

These little guys are about 5" long and are a pretty versatile. They are nice and sharp so you can cut through several layers, and they're smaller than the shears which makes them more useful and less unruly for trimming and clipping seams. It also works well for buttonholes (though if you're as completely clumsy as me you might just want to use a seam ripper for that).

Applique (Pelican) Scissors

Applique (Pelican) Scissors)

You can probably see why these are sometimes called Pelican-bill scissors. Strictly speaking, these aren't a MUST HAVE for your sewing box, but they are incredibly useful for appliqué and grading seams. The wide bill of the scissors slides along the layer(s) below and holds it down so it doesn't get snipped. Plus, everytime you look in your scissor drawer you can giggle a little since they're so funny looking.

Thread Nippers (Snips)

Thread Nippers

The next funny looking pair of scissors are my thread nippers. When I was growing up I felt like these were the most useless scissors my mother owned. They were awkward and as far as I could tell the tailor points were much more useful for trimming threads. Until... I realized... that I'd NEVER actually used them right! My mom showed me how they were supposed to be held and I was a convert!

Thread Nippers

Don't put your thumb through the loop. They're designed to put your middle finger through the loop but I have giganto hands and find it slightly more comfy to put my ring finger in the loop. Then put the blades between your thumb and index finger and snip away. Complete time saver, and if you have a billion threads to clip at the end of a long project your hands will likely thank you later (at least mine do... I find the snips to be easier on my hands than normal scissors for a lot of really little snips).

Embroidery Scissors

Embroidery Scissors

Embroider scissors are pretty self explanatory I would guess. They're very sharp and pointy so you can trim up close with great accuracy. Gingher advertises their brand as being built more strongly so you can also snip thicker yarns and trim up fabrics.

Rag Snips

Rag Snips

Have you ever made a rag quilt and then wanted to cut off your hands because they were so cramped from sniping a thousand billion tiny little snips into the seams? Well, this solves that problem. They're spring loaded and the blades are just the right size for snipping into the quilt seams. My grandpa discovered that tin snips will also work marvelously for this purpose!

You might notice that I haven't included pinking shears in this list. I don't own pinking shears because I don't find them to actually be all that useful. I have a pinking blade for my rotary cutter that I use if I need to pink something. There are also scissors specifically made for cutting buttonholes but I don't find myself making so many buttonholes that I need them.

Can you think of any others I may have missed?


I'm participating in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! Click the link below to see what sort of other splendid and spectacular things people have posted about.

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, May 20, 2010

R is for Ric Rac

Ric Rac Attack

I love ric rac. I can't help but smile when I see it used on things. In fact, I think there are very few things that can't be improved upon by the application of a little bit of ric rac!

You can twist it together for a different, but still awesome, look.

Red Flowery Reversible Apron

Or just use it to embellish!

Picture 2246

Even sock monkeys like ric rac.

Sock Monkey Stowaway

Are you a ric rac lover too?


I'm participating in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! Click the link below to see what sort of other goodies people have posted about.

Jenny Matlock

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friday Fragments- The Late Edition

Today's Friday Fragments is brought to you by the letters I and P. I for Imagine and P for Pretend that it is still Friday!

I've not gotten home until after 1 AM the past two days and by that point, blogging isn't on the top of the list... HOWEVER! I had really good reasons for irresponsibly staying out so late! Friday night we went to a Hayseed Dixie (imagine AC/DC in bluegrass) concert. Near the end the cigarette smoke was getting to me and I went outside and sat in the fresh air for the last 3 or 4 songs. There is a smoking ban in public places here, but a lot of people just ignore it and that just pisses me off. I did have an awesome time though and I'm glad we went. I think Martijn had a blast too and that made me happy.

One weird thing that happened at the end of the concert... I was waiting for Martijn by the door since I'd been outside, and some guy started hitting on me and asked me out for pizza. I was like "Uh, no, I'm waiting for my husband!" He asked me about three times if I was sure, so I guess you have to give him credit for persistence. It was so weird!

The other late night adventure was going to visit my sweet friend Lori and her husband. They were staying in a vacation bungalow a little less than an hour from here and since that's much closer than we usually are to each other we drove over and hung out. I told them about the aforementioned pizza incident and over the course of the evening it morphed into some sort of dirty euphemism. I love that my friends have the same sort of warped sense of humor as me!

Martijn invented a nice recipe for fish this week. He mixed some cream cheese, dill, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and freshly grated parmesan cheese and spread it over the fish. It was really good. We had it twice and will probably eat it again next week!

It's asparagus season so as you drive around you see many fields that look like this:

Asparagus Fields

They mound dirt over it and cover it with the tarps so that it doesn't get any sun. Since it can't produce chlorophyll without sun, it stays white. I do like white asparagus, but I think I prefer green and it's harder to find and stupid expensive here. I have my fingers tightly crossed that the cooler temperatures and SNOW in Utah have kept it from coming up too fast and there will still be some delicious in-season green asparagus when I get home next month.

I've been thinking about doing a potluck birthday party in Utah since I'll actually be there for the first time in ages. I really just want to see lots of people and a party seems like a good means of doing so... I'm terribly sneaky!

I shall leave you with a picture of the lovely roses Martijn gave me last weekend.


Thanks Mrs4444 for hosting our weekly brain dumps!
Mommy's Idea

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Queen's Day

I'm a couple of weeks late, but I wanted to save Queen's Day for my AlphabeThursday Q post!

Queen's Day is the celebration of the queen's birthday in The Netherlands. It's also the day when everybody goes completely mad for orange (oranjegekte) and the entire country turns into a giant rummage sale. The weather this year was a little subpar, but that doesn't mean we didn't go out and have a good time scouring the markets for goodies!

This guy found a nice carpet and as any proper Dutchie would do, took it home by bike!

Queen's Day 2010

The next few shots are in the streets of Weert, a city about 25 minutes to the south-east. Since the weather wasn't that great, it wasn't quite as busy as usual. And it's NOTHING like the massive crowds in Amsterdam!

Queen's Day 2010

Queen's Day 2010

Queen's Day 2010

Queen's Day 2010

The next few are in Eindhoven when the weather started perking up a little!

Queen's Day 2010

Queen's Day 2010

Queen's Day 2010

I can't think of anything in the US that would be considered equivalent to the Queen's Day celebrations here. It's a little like the Fourth of July in that everyone has a good time and is more patriotic, but that's not even a good comparison. You just must experience it for yourself!


I'm participating in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! Click the link below to see what sort of quaint things people have posted about.

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuna Salad

I sorta went off on my own this week in regards to the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge. I took the Tuna Everything Bagel recipe from Tyler Florence and made it my own! Sorta... well, not really but I did change a few things.

Tuna Salad

First, you might notice that the bagel is missing. Actually you might be noticing the whole "sandwich" aspect of the thing is missing. I wish I had a cool story about ninjas stealing my camera so I couldn't photograph the actual sandwich, but we were hungry and ate them before I even thought of taking a picture! The lovely tomato guarded tuna salad photo above is from my dinner night when Martijn was out with friends. It's the same salad, minus the sandwich part. Anyhow, I've seen bagels here before but not been compelled to buy them. I used these whole wheat "bake at home" breads that I like for sandwiches like this. Secondly, I did not artfully sling red onion rings over the top of my tuna salad tower like the photo on the Food Network site shows. I hacked them up into little bits and added them into the salad. For the sandwiches I didn't bother with the tomato and cucumber and we had a side salad instead. Lastly, I used dried herbs since I had everything I needed and didn't have to buy anything this way.

Onward to the recipe!

Tuna Everything Bagel
Courtesy Tyler Florence

Tuna Salad:

3 cups good quality canned tuna (packed in water), drained (This seemed like a lot. I used two of the normal sized tuna cans and I don't think it was anywhere near 3 cups)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 cornichons, chopped (These are just little pickles. Don't be fooled by the fancy French word!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (2 tsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves (1 tsp dried)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves (2 tsp dried)
2 tablespoons capers, drained (I chopped these up too since the flavor is okay but the texture freaks me out if I bite into a whole one)
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2 everything bagels, sliced and toasted
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced crescents (chopped small enough to add to the salad)
1 vine-ripened tomato, sliced (skipped on the sandwiches)
1 seedless cucumber, sliced (skipped on the sandwiches)
4 Bibb lettuce leaves


Begin with the tuna salad. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. I recommend mixing everything EXCEPT the olive oil and then add it last so you can get the right amount of moisture from it. It's hard to tell if you need more or less if you add it before things are mixed up. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Take cut bagels (or whatever) and toast under a hot broiler until golden brown. While still hot smear the bottom with the cream cheese immediately. Top with a scoop of the tuna salad and then layer with red onion, tomato, cucumber and lettuce. Or, if you're me, scoop on a glob of salad and leave the snooty artful onion slinging for the experts. Add the top half of the bagel and serve.

The Verdict: This was good! In fact, I've already made it twice this week. I like that it has a little less mayo and the cream cheese between the bread and the salad is genius!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Fragments Returns- May 7, 2010

I started having Friday Fragment guilt because I was linking up and not being able to get around to everybody each week, but I decided that's okay. I've met too many fun people to give it up and I'll just do the best I can and visit as many people as time will allow.

I submitted my inburgering portfolio and waited a month for them to tell me it wasn't good enough. They are SO VERY specific in what they will accept, yet they don't actually tell you what they want. Some of my things were rejected for being "reading evidence" instead of speaking or writing evidence, but their "reading evidence" is perfectly appropriate for other things. Apparently this is a big problem with a LOT of people so I tried not to be too devastated and only spent half the afternoon wailing and stomping around. I fixed the crap things they said weren't good enough and resubmitted it. I hope to find out in the next month or two if they accept it this time around. I'm not holding my breath.

It's been raining the all day and I wish that it would stop but the forecast for the next several days looks quite wet.

Life isn't all bad though. I finally found my Holy Grail Orange Sewing Machine. I already posted a picture a few posts back, but you can never have too many. We tuned it up a little and it sews like a dream. A DREAM!

Orange Husqvarna Viking 6430 Sewing Machine

Next on the list is selling two of the other ones I bought to tide me over until I found THE sewing machine. Martijn keeps teasing me about having 5 sewing machines (which I don't- only 4 and a serger) which isn't really fair because he has WAY MORE than 5 computers. I think it's a bit of a double standard, don't you?! Really though, I need to unload a couple so I can make space for other awesome things.

I'm starting to feel like my creativity is coming back. For awhile I felt like all I was doing was filling out paperwork and asking Dutch people to take pity on me and sign my papers for my portfolio, but now I'm FREE since I can't do anything else with it until they approve/reject it again. Now I can start making monkeys again. And maybe finish Mrs Yummy.

Tomorrow I'm going to brave the rain and meet up with a couple of pals in Utrecht. I love hanging out with them but we live on opposite sides of the country (shut up people in great wide expansive America... I'm turning European and 2 1/2-3 hours of travel is JUST TOO MUCH) so we don't see each other very often. I look forward to it very much.

Mommy's Idea

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pillowcase Tutorial


Some time ago, we did laundry and as Martijn was putting the pillowcase on the pillow, his hand went right through it.  It was so threadbare it really sortof just disintegrated in his fingers.  We like to keep two pillowcases on the pillows to keep the pillows slightly less gross from head sweat, so I figured I'd just make a couple new inner cases and things would be great.

Except... I was at the fabric market and I couldn't find any plain white fabric that I felt was suitable for a pillowcase.  So I got this cute little flowery print for 1€ per meter and figured it would do quite nicely.  Then I got home and working on the pillowcases and decided they were too plain and needed some giant yellow rick rack to jazz them up.  Everything can be made better with rick rack, seriously.  So I showed my darling pillowcases to Martijn when he got home and he said "Those are too cute to cover up."  The result was some lovely pillowcases, but not the pillowcases we needed!

Click read more for a quick tutorial. I like these because they've got a little flap on them so the pillow stays in securely and doesn't fall out the end!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Apple Cider Chicken

Sunny Anderson seems to have a LOT of good looking uncomplicated recipes that normal humans would eat! Sometimes of the recipes I've found for other chefs had me wondering who their target audience actually was, but I think Sunny's target audience is ME! I made Apple Cider Chicken

Apple Cider Chicken

Apple Cider Chicken
Courtesy Sunny Anderson

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter (skipped this since I didn't think it needed both oil and butter)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) (I made two breasts but didn't halve the sauce ingredients)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped (for the Netherlandians- Albert Heijn has zoete uien or you can find them at most markets)
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges (peeled mine and added an extra apple)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups apple cider (I used some unfiltered apple juice since I think it's basically the same thing... can anyone confirm or deny this? "Cider" here is alcoholic).


Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, add to pan and sear until golden, about 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside. Add remaining butter and onion, apple, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Saute until apple begins to get color and onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Nestle chicken back into pan, add cider, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

The Verdict: YUM! I'm not always in the mood for fruity sweet with my meat, but this really hit the spot. I think it would be a wonderful sauce to put on pork chops too!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Just Another Rainy Sunday

The intention was to go enjoy a nice clear warm day like the one we had last weekend.


The reality was more like this:




Visit Unknown Mami for more Sundays in My City.
Unknown Mami
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