Saturday, February 28, 2009

Photo Hunt Thankful

This week's theme for Photo Hunt is "thankful"

I'm thankful for all the happy things, great and small, happy and sometimes sad ...
that have made my life what it is now.

Find more Photo Hunt players here

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fave Five Little Every Day Happy Stuff

Time to look back and reflect on the good things from the past week.

1. Home baked bread. I love to bake my own bread. It's been a while since I last baked one until last night, when I realized how I had missed it. It's aroma slowly spreading through the whole house while it's in the oven. The rustic look of it when I put it on my wooden cutting board.
That crunchy crust, and the taste of that first slice when you have hardly given it the time to cool down thoroughly... It needs nothing more.
Hmmm, unless ... some real butter, some marmalade or home made jam ... strawberry jam mmm yes! A hand cut thick slice of that bread, with some Parma ham, a little salad on the side and some mustard and pickled onions to go with it? I think it would be a great idea for lunch!
Eww, I must be hungry? Or seen to many Nigella Lawson cooking shows on television this week?

2. The days are definitely getting a lot longer now. The last day of February already today, now where has that month gone to? March will be on the calendar as of tomorrow.
Next week is the tenth week of the year, and for some reason, I don't know why that week has always been some sort of wake up call, when new energy starts to flow. I think I carry the genetic heritage of a hedgehog inside of me! Oh well, it could be worse!

3. Coffee. Yeah I KNOW I talked about coffee last week too, but that was about the first coffee in the morning, which is very different to the coffee I treat myself to some time in the afternoon.
That's when I make myself a little espresso. My latest treat is some foamed up milk to top it off.
I add some flavour to the milk, ( cinnamon, vanilla, sweetener, or that new orange - star anise sugar I bought yesterday) heat it in the micro wave and stir it with my aerolatte milk frother.
( You can find recipes through this link)
It works great to get a terrific low fat creamy layer on top of the coffee! Yum!

( You can click to enlarge this collage)

4. The new things I learn through blogging. I learn something new every day, and I love that.
Sometimes I have to Google stuff I don't quite understand, but that's what makes it interesting.
It can be fun! Having to Google stuff sometimes makes me feel stupid, but then I discover that I am not the only one to never have heard of "a dog and pony show" before.
But I'm afraid it will still take some time before I'll be able to participate in Quilly's Three Word Challenge though! Or do a Haiku, or a 100 word challenge ... **Sigh**
Still. I've come this far, and I'm grateful for what I learn each day.

5. I was feeling a little lonely yesterday, so what does a girl do? Yes, I went shopping at the mall! Not that I spent that much money, nor did I spend it on clothes.
I ended up in one of those shops for foodies like Oil and Vinegar, and a trendy tableware shop.
I KNOW I do not NEED more new plates, but I could not resist, besides, they were a steal!
Beautiful plates always inspire me to create a new recipe to use them for.

Mind you, these are just a few highlights of the week that has passed.
There was also that deliciously creamy Veal Goulash I made, the Blue Tits inspecting the nest on my patio, the blue Hyacinth I bought and it turns out to be pink, the first good lace design I have finished this week ( No, no pictures of that just yet, I'm building up some tension here!)

Find other people's Fave Five's at Suzanne's, on Living to tell the story.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sepia Scenes Mirror, Mirror ....

For this week's Sepia Scenes I have used this picture, taken in a costume museum in Pernes-les-Fontaines. It's an authentic old tailor shop, all the original furniture is still in there.

First I created a layer, and then I put a sepia effect on it by using the time machine in Corel Paint Shop Pro x12. I then erased the sepia from the reflection in the mirror with the eraser tool.

Because it is a reflection in a mirror, I get this really soft colour.
I think it's a very subtle effect, I like it a lot.

Find more Sepia Scenes here

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Melli's ABC challenge ... K and L

Time for Melli's ABC in pictures again ....
K and L this week ...
So here's my first K,

okay ... okay, I did flip the picture(s), but a little creativity never did any harm, did it?

As for L ...

they ARE everywhere.

But it did take me some time to find an interesting one though, but I love how the daylight makes an L shape in that window.

Visit Melli's to meet the other players.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ruby Tuesday Three Roosters

They were sitting on that bench in the garden of the bed and breakfast hotel where we took breakfast last week. Three noisy roosters... I wonder what it's like to sleep there, and have them wake you up in the morning. It beats an alarm clock, but still?

They made a very photogenic threesome. I should have made more close ups I think.
Anyhow ... they're my rubies for this week ...

Check out Mary's Work of the Poet to find more Ruby Tuesday pictures.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fun in the Kitchen

It looks like I'm multitasking this week. Christina at had this wonderful real German Cuisine recipe challenge I simply could not resist. She wants us to mess experiment with German cuisine and asked us to ruin prepare Rahmgulash this week, a creamy veal goulash. In Belgium we call it Hungarian Goulash.
I really don't know why, but I have never made Goulash before in my life, so I promised her I would participate. And then I remembered I had signed up for Fun Monday as well!

But given the fact that both challenges happen in my kitchen ... I'm doing them both!

Ari is our host for today, and this is what she wants to know:

It's time for show and tell. What does your kitchen counter look like right now? (And no fair cleaning just for the picture!) Do you have any favourite or unusual items on your counter?

Now, all of you nosy sweet Fun Monday people who want to know what mess I made while doing this awesome recipe what my kitchen counter looks like, you'll better scroll down. Now GO! Shoosh!
But ... it would be such a pity to miss out on such a delicious recipe, don't you think?

So here's the recipe:

By the way, you can click to enlarge any of the collages, okay?

You'll need:
2 1/2 large mild onions.
2 cans of peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons of clarified butter
About 1/4 liter of beef stock ( I used a stock cube)
1 kg of veal for goulash, cut in bite sized pieces.
150g of heavy cream.
2 tablespoons of Crème fraîche ( sour cream)
salt, freshly ground pepper.
1 tablespoon of sweet paprika powder.
a sprinkling of hot paprika powder.
1 tablespoon of citrus zest. ( I used the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon)

Gently melt the butter on low heat, to clarify.
Use the oily part of the butter only to brown the meat in.
The oily part of the butter supports much higher temperatures without burning.
Brown the meat ( in small portions ) on a high heat.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onions.
Add the chopped onions to the veal, and let it cook for a minute.
Sprinkle everything with the paprika, and let it sweat for a moment.

Heat the beef stock.
Drain the tomatoes and chop them roughly as well.
Add the stock and the chopped tomatoes.
Cover with a lid and let it simmer on a gentle heat for 45 min to an hour, until the veal is tender.

Stir in the cream, salt, pepper and citrus zest.
The original recipe did not specify what kind of zest to use, but referring to an Italian Osso Bucco recipe, - which is also veal in a tomato-ish sauce - I decided to add some orange zest as well.
Cover with the lid again, and let it simmer for another fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the side dishes.
We had steamed baby potatoes, a green salad, cherry tomatoes and grated black radish with lemon and sour cream. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on it as a finishing touch.

There was no denying. It tasted delicious!


This is what my kitchen counter looked like afterwards.
Anyone care to do the dishes for me?

What? Show off? Now don't give me that!! You did get dirty pictures as well, didn't you?
Of course it's clean, I can't stand a dirty kitchen.
And what about my favourite stuff? All of it, actually.
Let's see, I really really like my espresso machine, and the steamer right next to it.
And I love how my utensils are all within reach.
And yes, I do have a lot of stuff. There are three pepper mills and three salt mills there, that's correct! And I do use all three of them!

There, that's it from me today, now go off and snoop in somebody else's kitchen now!
Visit the other Fun Monday players here .
And don't forget to drop by at Christina's for the German recipe challenge, okay?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekly Winners, Home and Homely ...

There were many great moments this week.

First signs of Spring.

Lounging ...


Reflections in a tea pot.


but not at Tiffany's.

Domed food.


And last, but not least...

Home is where the heart is ...

Find more Weekly Winners pictures at Lotus' blog, the homeblog of Weekly Winners.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Photo Hunt " Warm"

This week's theme for Photo Hunt is "warm".
When I started working on this post this morning, my initial idea was to upload a landscape from the Moroccan desert. It had been very warm when I took those, but when I saw the picture, I realized that was not what I was looking for. There are many more definitions of "warm" ...

(Click to enlarge the picture.)

1. having or giving out a moderate degree of heat, as perceived by the senses: a warm bath.
2. of or at a moderately high temperature; characterized by comparatively high temperature: a warm oven; a warm climate; a warm summer.
3. having a sensation of bodily heat: to be warm from fast walking.
4. conserving or maintaining warmth or heat: warm clothes.
5. (of colors) suggestive of warmth; inclining toward red or orange rather than toward green or blue.
6. characterized by or showing lively feelings, passions, emotions, sympathies, etc.: a warm heart; warm interest.
7. strongly attached; intimate: warm friends.
8. cordial or hearty: a warm welcome.
9. heated, irritated, or angry: to become warm when contradicted.
10. animated, lively, brisk, or vigorous: a warm debate.
11. strong or fresh: a warm scent.
12. close to something sought, as in a game.
13. uncomfortable or unpleasant: His opponents made things so warm that he decided to quit.
14. British Informal. well off; in easy circumstances.
–verb (used with object)
15. to make warm; heat (often fol. by up): to warm one's hands; to warm up a room.
16. to heat or cook (something) for reuse, as leftovers (usually fol. by over or up): to warm up yesterday's stew.
17. to excite enthusiasm, ardor, cheerfulness, or vitality in (someone): The wine soon warmed the company.
18. to inspire with kindly feeling; affect with lively pleasure: It warms my soul to hear you say that.
19. to fill (a person, crowd, etc.) with strong feelings, as hatred, anger, or zeal: Restrictions had warmed the crew to the point of mutiny.
–verb (used without object)
20. to become warm or warmer (often fol. by up): The room will warm up when the fire gets going.
21. to become ardent, enthusiastic, animated, etc. (often fol. by up or to): The speaker quickly warmed to her subject.
22. to grow kindly, friendly, or sympathetically disposed (often fol. by to or toward): My heart warms toward him.
23. Informal. a warming: Sit by the fire and have a nice warm.
24. warm down, to conclude or follow a period of strenuous physical exercise by walking or gentle stretching.
25. warm up,
a. to prepare for a game, sports contest, dance, etc., by moderate exercise or practice beforehand.
b. to increase in excitement, intensity, violence, etc.: The racial situation was warming up.
c. to become friendlier or more receptive: No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't warm up to that proposal.
d. Radio and Television. to entertain (an audience) prior to a broadcast to increase receptiveness.
26. warm the bench, Sports. to serve as a substitute who rarely plays in a game: The young outfielder warmed the bench for the Yankees last season.

Find more pictures with this theme here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fridays Fave Five, a Review of a Wonderful Week

It's time to look back on some of the favourite things from the past week again.
I love this meme, it's great to remember the good things in life.

1. I had my daughter over for supper last Friday evening.
The poor girl had been in a traffic jam for almost two hours just to get here, but it was worth it she said! I love it when she keeps me company in the kitchen while I cook.
I enjoyed every minute of it, even doing the dishes together is special to me...

2. The next day, my husband surprised me with my favourite perfume as a Valentine's day gift.
I had only a few drops left in my old bottle, and I was reluctant to use it. But now I can spoil myself again with a luxurious fragrant puff each morning ... Wonderful.

3. A champagne breakfast on Wednesday in a charming bed and breakfast hotel. Bacon and eggs, smoked salmon, fresh fruit salad, vanilla yoghurt, croissants crunchy baguettes ... It was all there, and everything was delicious.

( You can click to enlarge the image)

4. Snuggling up on the couch with the new book I bought. It turns out to be a very witty entertaining read. It's written by a Belgian biologist and it's based on Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory. A fascinating and very well written book.

5. And then last night we dined out again! A fun formula with small samples of food on tiny plates, tapa style. The tiny domed plates come rolling by ( like at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant) only it's not sushi but Basquish pinxtos. And you have to use your fingers to eat it.
Delicious and fun!

So there, those are just a few of last week's happy moments.
Go here to read more Fave Five posts.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sepia Scenes Au Naturel

Today I wanted to find out what would happen if you turn a natural sepia,

.... into sepia.
I think I prefer the natural sepia. What do YOU think?

Find more Sepia Scenes here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Melli's ABC in pictures, I and J

It's time for Melli's ABC in pictures again, and this week we have to post the letters I and J.
I have spent so much time looking for the rest of the alphabet, that I kind of overlooked I and J, because they're so easy to find. Or that's what I thought. So I did not look all that well, and now I find myself desperately browsing through my archives to find something suitable!
So here we go.

I think those columns can pass for I's don't you think?

If not, there's always this one, okay?

Now, J was just a little bit harder, but I found one.

One of the key hangers I made a while ago.

So there, that's it from me this week.
Click here if you want to find out what the others have posted.