Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dutch FOOD!

I love food, and Dutch food is especially good. I suppose if it were to be summed up in two words, it would be: comfort food. Lots of breads, lots of casserole-type dishes... and, of course, cheese!

On our first day in Holland, we drove around a bit before going to a little cafe. Thankfully, my grandma could translate items on the menu for us; the people were very nice too. My favorite Dutch food (other than Gouda) is Krokets.

(Picture not by me)

Mmmmmmmm... It's meat (and gravy) wrapped in a breaded crust. Delicious. It was the perfect thing to eat on our first night, after several hours in an airport and airplane.

I don't know if this is a Dutch thing or just something everyone does... but wherever we went, there was always plenty of food. Here's an example from the day we went to the farm.
Sunday morning, we ate breakfast and then went to church. After church we went to my dad's cousin's house (not the one with the farm) for lunch. But before lunch, coffee (the Dutch love their coffee time!) and cookies.
About an hour later, lunch. Bread, yogurt, these strange Dutch sprinkle things that go on bread, krokets (MMMMM!!!), cheese, meat, and I don't know what else. There was enough to feed an army! Well, a small army.
After lunch, to the farm!
At the farm, we were treated to more food... M&Ms (which tasted better than American M&Ms) and nuts, and more tea and coffee.
It was like that everywhere we went. I definitely came home a few pounds heavier.

One thing we ate a lot of was bread and cheese. This is something I'm fairly used to, as we always eat bread and cheese (or ham buns) on road trips. I think it's a Dutch thing. My dad grew up on bread and cheese sandwiches for lunch and when we go up to visit grandma, that's usually what we have there too.
My mom said, "Take a picture, so we can know what we ate in the car every day for lunch!"

And now, a word on Dutch pancakes.
Most people, when thinking about pancakes, conjure up this image:

After many a year of eating pancakes with my cousin at Grama's house, however, I have learned to think of pancakes like this:

Mmmmmmm... Pannenkoeken... Where's the whipped cream?
They are more like crepes than something you would find at IHOP, but, oh, so infinitely better.
My grandma took us to a pannenkoeken huis while we were in Holland, to experience real, Dutch pancakes, like she had growing up on the farm.
These pancakes filled up the whole plate (and they weren't small plates either - they were bigger than any dinner plate I've ever eaten off of) and, if you so chose, had other things baked onto them such as...

Or bacon:

Or, apples and bacon! There were a multitude of other choices as well... like with onion, or with cheese... I chose the one with apple.
My grandma, great-aunt, and mom all chose the one called "speck of bacon" which had one piece of bacon right in the middle.
And this wasn't regular old bacon (don't let the above picture fool you). This was all fat bacon. Very crispy and very, very good.
My grandma and her siblings would have this "speck of bacon" pancake for breakfast on the farm.
They were very, very delicious.

The other night we went out to IHOP with church friends and the pancakes just weren't the same... They were too light, too fluffy (and also, too cold!). I guess I've just been spoiled by pannenkoeken!

I bet you've had Dutch food, whether you knew it at the time or not... whether it be Gouda, oliebollen, krokets, pannenkoeken, poffertjes, or dropjes. Tell me about it!

Live long and prosper.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 10: In which Tintin meets TomTom.

On day 10, we went to the Openluchtmuseum. The Openluchtmuseum is an Open Air Museum filled with old farm implements and buildings. It shows what life was like on the farm. There was this incredible display of several houses throughout the centuries. It showed what life was like in the 1700's through the 1970's. It was really cool. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures.

Here is the inside of a barn, and a structure to keep hay under:

It's a good thing my dad didn't live in the olden days...

...Though if Dutch men back then were known for their height, I supposed my dad would have fit in. Why were the doors so short?

They had a fun area where you could ride two wheeled bicycles (the cool kind - like the one Captain Kirk rides when he goes to break in on Cat Woman/Fantine's wedding to that English guy in the second Princess Diaries movie).

Mmmmmmmmm... poffertjes... (little pancakes)

Tintin had great fun at the Openluchtmuseum.

 (Bed in the wall!)
(What are you looking at?)

And Tintin made some... er... new friends...

Mmhmm. Okay, time to leave.

The rest of the day was mostly spend traveling from one great-aunt's house to another's. 

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 9: Zondag (Sunday)

April 27th was a very special day for us: we visited the church that my grandma went to when she was a little girl, and we visited the farmhouse that she grew up in!

The Ooste Kerk.


(Look how symmetrical it is!  Isn't that cool?)

This stained glass window was given to the people after World War Two. Beauty in brokenness.

There's something special about worshiping with other believers, even if you don't understand the language. On this particular day, they were having an infant baptism. At first, I thought the father was the baby's big brother! He looked rather like a young Michael Jackson (or one of his big brothers in the Jackson Five) and sang like him too! The baby's older sister - who looked about five or six - was in charge of holding a candle. And not one of those fake ones. This was a real candle, very tall, with very real fire at the end. I thought she was going to light her siblings on fire! Either them or the minister in his robes. Thankfully, no mishaps occurred. 

My grandma's family have supposedly been living on the same piece of land since the 1600's. In the 1850's, the below farmhouse was built. It was where my grandma, her siblings, and many of her other relatives (including my dad's cousins) were born.

The farm is run by my dad's cousin and they raise cattle for milk. While we were there visiting I drink some pure, unpasteurized milk, that came straight out of the tank (that had recently pumped the milk out of the cow). Wow! If milk tasted like that all the time, I might drink it. (When I was little, I had an allergy to milk. I've since grown out of the allergy, but we never switched from rice milk to regular. I don't drink milk; it goes only on my cereal and occasionally in hot chocolate.)

The farm, like most other farms, has other animals... cats, a dog, and some ponies, which my dad's cousin's daughter trains and rides. I even got into the saddle for a short ride!

My dad's cousin's daughter (I will give five hundred imaginary dollars to whoever figures out what relation she is to me) doesn't speak much English, and I don't speak much Dutch (I'm better at understanding it) but we managed to communicate a little bit. We're around the same age. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I tried to explain youth ministry in the church... but that didn't work too well. Whenever I told anyone about youth ministry, they didn't really understand. It wasn't a speech barrier, more like a cultural or religious one. They just didn't seem to have any programs for youth - at least not in the churches we visited. But more on that in a later post.
The girl was telling me about what she wanted to do as well. I believe it was something with horses and equestrian... but I could be mistaken.
In the end, I don't think either of us really got much out of the conversation, but it was fun nonetheless! And the horse was very nice.

Now, there are several big barns where the cattle are kept, but when my grandma was growing up, the animals were kept in the barn attached to the house. Can you imagine the smell? Now, the cows are milked in the attached barn. The really young calves live in the attached barn as well.

Inside the farmhouse there were three bedrooms upstairs, and one more downstairs. There was also the kitchen/parlor, where my grandma's family would usually sit. We sat in the "Sunday parlor," which, when my grandma was young, was only used on Sundays (it reminded me of Great Expectations). Now the parlor is used any time.

I could have stayed at the farm longer, I think. Not only were the owners of the farm and their children there, but two of my dad's other cousins with their children and spouses came as well! And an old aunt. There were 18 of us all together, I think! It was so much fun to sit with every one and to listen to them laugh and talk in a strange mixture of Dutch and English! I love having such a big family; I don't love that everyone lives so far away that we can't just invite them over or be invited over on a Sunday afternoon.

We had to leave, however, because we were going to another church service - a special Koningsdag service. This service had a female minister, and a beautiful, beautiful choir! Oh, how I wished I could go up and join them! The roofs of old Dutch churches radiate the music back to those sitting in the pews; it's gorgeous. I can't wait to do a special post on Dutch churches, because they were really wonderful (maybe not so much the worship - because we couldn't understand it - but the architecture, and the music. Oh).

It was a nice, restful Sunday.

Stay tuned for Day 10, where Tintin made a new friend named TomTom...

P.S. For anyone wondering, I didn't actually have my wisdom teeth removed today. There was a scheduling mishap where they didn't even have us down for an appointment today (plus the surgeon is in India because of a family emergency) so now my surgery is rescheduled for sometime in the last week in July.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pretty much all the poetry I've ever written

I Don't Write Poetry by Abbey, March 6 2012 (for my friend Jen's poetry contest), edited June 17 2014

I don't write poetry
I can't rhyme.
Even if I could,
where would I find the time?

I'd much rather be reading
or writing a book.
I'd even attempt it
on my friend's Nook!

My idea of a good poet is Sir Percy Blakeney
whose rhymes deal with the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Pimpernel is an alias for-
Shhh! Spoilers! I'll never tell.

Music and piano and lit. are for me
so why, oh why
do I need poetry?

If only I could write poetry,
if only I could rhyme,
I'd enter Jen's contest,
and maybe be on time.

Now someone draws near...
to see what I write...
They recoil in fear!
They cower in fright.

They speak up with courage,
saying, "Something's amiss!
If you can't write poetry...
What is THIS?!"

My Orca Whale by Abbey, 2007. (This was a writing assignment... If I remember correctly, I had to include an orca, pizza, margaritas, and a dog named Legos.)

I have an orca whale.
My orca's name is Jack.
He likes delivering pizzas,
while swimming on his back.

Jack drinks margaritas;
he drinks one every night.
He shoots Legos out his blowhole
and gives the neighbors a fright.

Sea Snail by Abbey, 2008 (This is the result of learning about poetry in writing class, and gastropods in science.)

The stomach foot scuttles towards food.
Dead or alive, the prey is devoured by a gastropod which uses its denticals to eat.
Disturbed by a predator, the sea snail shuts its operculum door.

Assorted Limericks by Abbey, 2009ish. (The last two are homework assignments from a Civil War class.)

There once was a poodle from Maine
who caused everyone so much pain.
They threw the dog out,
onto a whale spout!
Last I heard he was sailing towards Spain.

Food in the Civil War camps
gave the soldiers terrible cramps.
Beans three times a day,
don't keep the doctor away.
Let this be a lesson to you young scamps.

Long ago in eighteen-sixty,
doctors were as mean as could be.
They'd cut off a limb,
put it in the bin,
and send it off to charity.

The Gloating Goat by Abbey, June 17 2014

Once upon a time there was a goat who bought a new coat to match his tote. The goat with his matching tote and coat felt very fashionable and went out on the promenade to gloat.
He saw a boat on the moat and thought, If I get aboard that boat and float down the moat, everyone will see my matching tote and coat and think I'm a very fashionable goat indeed.
So the gloating goat climbed aboard the boat on the moat, carrying his tote, and wearing his coat.
The boat began to float down the moat and soon people began to take note of the goat on the moat with his matching tote and coat.
One little boy - with a toy - took note of the floating goat, and didn't much care for the tote and coat, for they made their wearer gloat. The boy with the toy came up with a coy ploy to teach the goat not to gloat over such silly things as a matching tote and coat.
So the boy left his toy and climbed aboard the boat on the moat that held the gloating goat.
As they floated down the moat, the coy boy pretended to dote on the goat's tote and coat and asked the goat to recommend him to his tailor.
The goat reached into his tote and pulled out a note and as he wrote to the tailor - with a pen from the sailor - the boy put his coy ploy into action and shoved the goat over the side of the boat into the moat!
The tote and the coat were ruined!
"That should teach you," said boy to goat, "not to gloat over totes and coats."
At first all the goat could do was fret, though in the end he was in debt, to the boy who taught him a valuable lesson, even at the cost of getting all wet!

Rhyme by Abbey
My liver quivers when I shiver.

And that's about as serious as it gets, folks.

What is your opinion of poetry; should it be something deep and difficult to understand, that needs interpretation from the reader; or should poetry be fun and easy to read, like Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein; or epic, like Beowulf and The Faerie Queene? Is a pleasant mixture the best, or should poetry just be thrown out altogether? Do you write poetry?

Live long and prosper!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I Have Confidence

I have been taking voice lessons for two and a half years, but something really clicked in the past six months (no doubt thanks to my wonderful voice teacher!)
My recital was last night, and I sang I Have Confidence from The Sound of Music.
I hope you enjoy!

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Jenelle Leanne Schmidt tagged all her followers!
It's that old elevenses tag... I've been saving facts for a few months, so here goes nothing!

List 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 facts from the tagger.
Make 11 new questions for the people you tag.

Without further ado, 11 random facts...

1. I really like Elton John's music.
2. Like most homeschoolers, I went through a dinosaur phase.
3. I just ran out of 11 random things... I thought my list that I had been saving was longer.
4. Strawberry cheesecake is my favorite type of dessert.
5. The other day I got Tolkien's translation of Beowulf!!! Eep, I'm excited to read it!
6. All I want to do is write short stories. But at the same time, I'm too lazy/tired from schoolwork to actually write them.
7. I figured out today that I will finish Algebra 2 by August 15, a week later than I had anticipated. Maybe I need to start upping my game to three lessons a day instead of two...
8. My mom and I are watching Star Trek Voyager again. Man, I love these characters. But I really need to stop guessing what's going to happen because I keep contradicting myself.
9. My voice recital is on Friday night! I'm singing I Have Confidence from The Sound of Music. Look out for a video on Saturday.
10. My wisdom teeth come out on Tuesday. At least the bottom ones. I'm glad. They're impacted. Sigh, I shall no longer be wisdomous... oh no! It's already started!
11. My friend and I used to put on Hannah Montana concerts when we were younger. That was fun.

Jenelle's questions:
1. What do the words “as you wish” mean to you? 

2. Which would you rather face: incredibly fearsome large rodents who are relentless, or a sphinx that can see straight into your heart and will blast you with lasers if you’re not pure of heart? A sphinx! Those are cool! Even if they can blast me with lasers.

3.  Name a song that has brought you to tears. Oceans by some Christian artist or another...

4. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Oooo, tough question. Probably chicken alfredo with a side of bagels (with butter), strawberry cheesecake for desert, and a banana/strawberry/peach smoothie to drink.

5. Would you rather be a giraffe or an elephant? An elephant. I don't think they smell as bad as giraffes.

6. If you could enter one fictional world, but you had to stay there for the rest of your life, which one would you choose? Oh, another hard question! Well, it certainly wouldn't be the Inkworld. Hmmmm... probably- argh, this is a hard question. Not because there are too many to choose from; it's because most of the places I would want to go were real places or took place one time in history (or in the future). It would be pretty fun to go into the Defender's of the Realm world. (Defenders of the Realm is a super fun strategy board game. Like Catan or Carcasonne or Ticket to Ride, except more strategy. The "heroes" work together to kill minions and evil generals. The game gets more difficult as you progress through different stages of war.)

7. What is one place you haven’t been to that you would love to see before you die. I would love, love, love to go on a tour of places in the Bible someday.

8. If you had to be a henchman, which evil villain would you most want to serve? Mwahahahahahahaheeheeheeheeee... Professor Fate from The Great Race, played by Jack Lemmon. He's got a snazzy theme song.

9. Would you rather make people laugh or cry? Oh, laugh, definitely. "Make 'em laugh... make 'em laugh... Everyone wants to laugh..."

10. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Night owl, most definitely. It's 11:30 and I'm just starting to consider tottling off to bed. I like being a night owl; I hate being a night owl who watches TV until so late at night, she can only read one chapter out of one of the five books she happens to be juggling at any given time.

11. Favorite hot drink? Tea.

Instead of tagging anyone particular, or coming up with 11 questions... I'm just going to come up with one question which you ALL must answer!

Name your top five characters from TV, and tell me why they are your top five. 

Live long and prosper!

Day 8: Koningsdag!

For the past 100+ years, the Netherlands have had a queen. Last year, however, Queen Beatrix abdicated her throne to her son, Willem-Alexander.

Every year, there is a special celebration day set aside on the Queen or King's birthday. This year, the celebration was on April 26. Even though King Willem's birthday is on the 27th, they couldn't have the celebration on a Sunday, so Koningsdag (King's Day) was on Saturday.
Koningsdag was wonderful! It was so great to be in Holland for this celebration! 
The day is mostly for children... parades, carnivals, singing, and the like. The evening is for the grown ups, who go to the bar to have a few drinks.

My day started at 8:00 when I awoke to the sound of glorious church bells (more on them in a later post), ringing out 'today-is-Koningsdag.'
At 10:00, the town square had 'singing' which we went to. 
Practically the whole town showed up! Everyone was wearing red, white, blue, and orange. 
Originally, the Dutch flag was orange, white, and blue, but the orange faded to red, so the orange was changed to red, and now the flag is red, white, and blue! But orange is still a big part of the culture, especially because of Willem of Oranje (also known as William the Silent, or Willem of Nassau), who led the Dutch revolt against Spain in the 1560's-1640's (The Eighty Year War).

(The Town Hall, where the singing took place.)

Before the singing took place, everyone who had a balloon, let them go free! It was SO. COOL!!! (Though, no doubt, bad for the atmosphere.)

Here's some samples of Dutch singing... Their music is very bouncy and polka-ish (at least the patriotic stuff).

Here is the mayor singing along:

He attempted to lead us in the national anthem... but it didn't work out too well.

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
ben ik, van Duitsen bloed,
den vaderland getrouwe
blijf ik tot in den dood.
Een Prinse van Oranje
ben ik, vrij, onverveerd,
den Koning van Hispanje
heb ik altijd geĆ«erd.

In English...

William of Nassau
am I, of German blood.
Loyal to the fatherland
I will remain until I die.
A prince of Orange
am I, free and fearless.
The king of Spain
I have always honoured.

The second verse is about fear of God and God's direction. A very popular verse to sing in church, which we did. Twice.

Since we didn't get to go to Loevestein Kasteel, we decided to visit a different one during the afternoon. This one was closer by.
This castle is called Doornenburg, and we got to tour it! Yay! One of the things I specifically wanted to do in Holland was tour a castle.

Here is the outer wall, which  led into a courtyard (and then the castle was across another bridge).

Not only is there a moat around this outer wall, there is a moat around the castle too!

On the left side of the picture is the castle's chapel.
During World War Two, Doornenburg was a hideout for German snipers. After the Netherlands was liberated from the Germans, the Allies had to make sure all snipers were out of the country. Therefore, the RAF flew over and bombed Doornenburg. It turns out that there were no Germans inside... and a perfectly good, old castle was destroyed for nothing. 
Fortunately, a huge restoration effort went on and the castle was restored to what it looked like originally! 
The chapel was not bombed, and is still the original. It's foundation isn't on stable ground, however, and is slowly sinking on one side... You can see it lean. It's pretty funny. 

In the late 1960's, a TV show called Floris (based off of comics of the same name, I believe) was set in Doornenburg! It looks like a great show (sadly it's only in Dutch. Happily, I'm learning Dutch).

We went on a tour... which was also in Dutch. There was a very nice young lady who translated for us. On the tour with us were a Christian couple from Gronigan who came to see the castle just because of the TV show! It was kind of funny. 

The inside of the castle reminded me of Beowulf.

(The big beams are called "Moeder" [mother] and the small beams are called "Kinderen" [children])
(The cellar where they would hang up the meat to dry. One of the steps leading into the cellar was bigger than the rest. If you lived in the castle, you would know that. If you were a thief trying to steal meat, you would step too far and fall, causing a commotion, and alerting someone to your uninvited visit. Now the cellar a party room with a nice bar and piano.)
(Staircase in the wall!)
(See how thick the walls were? They were thick for insulation, protection, and structural integrity.)

Some of the people who lived in Doornenburg in the Middle Ages had their portraits commissioned. Now, in one of the rooms, there are replicas of the outfits they wore in the portraits! Very cool. Also, there were lots of old buttons and such from the Middle Ages, which were cool to see.
We also learned the origin of the term "pair of pants." Ever asked yourself "Why is it called a pair when there is only one"?
Here's the answer!

They actually used to be a pair! Kind of like leggings, except without the connecting part. It all makes sense now. The men would pull one up as high as it would go, and then the other. I believe they had some sort of way of fastening the pants, but I can't remember what it was, and I neglected to take a picture.

In another one of the rooms, they let us try on some armor.

(Me and my dad.)

In the castle tower, there was a super cool model set up of Doornenburg during an attack!

Outside, Tintin had yet another flashback to our East Coast trip in 2012...


We also got to ride some Trojan Horse wannabes:

Outside the outer wall there were some friendly(ish) Oreo Cookies Cows.

You don't see those too often!

On our way back to my aunt's house, we drove through a corner of Germany! Woohoo! Five different countries under my belt now! (America, Canada, England, Holland, Germany!)

After a nice dinner of pancakes (to be discussed in a later post), we walked around one of my Grandma's childhood haunts... Bredevoort. This city is known for it's bookshops. My grandma said that when she was young, nearly everyone ran a bookshop out of their homes! There are still many outside book stalls. You pay by "honesty slot." It's a little hole in the door, where you can drop your money. I really admire the trust of the Dutch. In America, you would never be able to run a bookshop by "honesty slot" but in Holland, that works just fine!

 (There were lots of bookshelves just full of books standing next to people's houses. Hence the honest slot... if it was after closing time, you could still buy a book!)
(It reads: "Bredevoort. Book City" or "City of Books")

I would have loved to stay longer, but Grama was tired, so we kept walking. She just happened to be walking passed someone's house (remember, the Dutch don't close their curtains), while I was looking at some books, and, as she peered in, her cousins peered out! So we sat with some extended family for a bit and my mom got to discuss quilting with some distant relation of some sort. It was quite nice. My poor dad had to try and communicate with my grandma's cousin's husband, who only spoke Dutch. 

I can't wait to go back to Holland, so I can explore Bredevoort in full!

Thus ends day eight... Stay tuned for more...