Monday, March 26, 2012

In Between Photo Hunts

In case you thought we never did anything else....

Remember that "A" is for Astrid of All Trades post I did awhile back? Just when you didn't think there was anything left for her to (know how to) do, Voilà.

As a mater of fact, this was one of the very first things I found out she could do when I met her in 2007. And I wanted one: a "monkey's fist" knotted key chain! It wasn't till a week ago that I watched her make one, from beginning to end, for a co-worker.

At the same table where we do our jigsaw puzzles, Astrid set up shop.
(click any collage to enlarge)

First, the loopty-loops. Four sides of them!
In and out, in and out, always paying attention where she had to go...
before putting the marble stabilizer inside.

Once the marble was inside the loopy mess, the tightening began.
Battening down the hatches! Round and round and round with her nifty tool,
till the knot was compact and hard as a rock, ready for the key chain.

See?! Voilà
The green one above is what Astrid made for me 4+ years ago.
The yellowish one is hers, as are those baseball-sized ones at top-right.
In the bottom-right image (above) is the splicing tool Astrid uses, next to the wooden one her sailor-captain grandfather used in his Merchant Navy days. And the knot on top of hers? Yup, she made that one, too.

So, now you know how a Monkey's Fist knotted keychain is made...more or less!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now, go back to that same table a week earlier when Astrid was working another Jan van Haasteren jigsaw puzzle, all by herself:

Deep Sea Fun, 1000 pieces (image from van Haasteren's site)

While I was busy with other things, Astrid had a hankering to work this puzzle alone.
Who knew it was just what the doctor ordered!
All I asked was that she take pictures of the details when she was done, which she did.
(All following images are Astrid's, processed and collaged by me.)

Remember how I've told you there are his "signatures" in every puzzle?
Sinterklaas came to Holland aboard a ship from España.
His Black Pete is always with him, as are his gifts and scepter, now strewn on the sea's floor.
The American Indian, his arrow, the burglar, the cat and mouse, shark's tail, periscope...
as well as his own self-portrait and initials....

The ghost, the "free" hands and feet, the police, the whimsy.
Always the whimsy, the laugh, the ha-ha-ha.
Who would think of diving into a kiddie swimming pool...under water in the sea!

Notice the top middle image and it's nod to the big diamond from the Titanic movie.
See what I mean? That artist deserves every penny he gets!

Lucky for me, I get to work this puzzle myself this late-shift week for Astrid. She'll also have some overtime hours because of the Easter holiday coming up.

And of course, we did do another photo hunt this past Saturday in nearby Tiel. That'll keep me very busy, too. While the cat is gone the mouse will play....

Monday, March 19, 2012


The day we set out to see the Marken lighthouse (last post), we ended it by visiting the nearby quaint town of Monnickendam, just 10 miles NE of Amsterdam. It received city rights in 1355 and has ca. 11K inhabitants.

My post today at Vision and Verb is about Finding Money and highlights this gevelsteen (gable stone) from this charming city:

De Tijd Vliegt = Time Flies

But first, the city. We were there for only two hours before heading home for the day. It's amazing what you can see in two hours...just like when you meet a friend for the first time and get the "picture" almost immediately.

Monnicken = Monks (who built the dam)
So all over the city you see the city emblem of a monk with his stick.

Smack-dab in city center you see the tall tower of the Speeltoren, a museum.
Right next door to it is the equally famous weighing house, De Waag (below).

This is Astrid's picture from her wide-angle lens.
Here you see both the Speeltoren and De Waag.

Right across the street from De Waag is the Café de Zwaan, where we ate our lunch.
I was more interested in the decor, I see, than in what we actually ate.

Then we were ready to walk around.
Now you know why this is one of those Dutch towns that depends on tourists!

Do you see how crooked the church door-facade is (top-left image)?
And how high that top-middle door is from the ground (in case of flooding)?
The bronze statue is De Palingroker (the eel smoker) in the Oude Haven (old harbor).

Speaking of the Oude Haven (old harbor)...
the town sits on the IJsselmeer in the municipality of Waterland. Exactly.

Now, getting back to my Vision and Verb post today on Finding Money. Of the 60+ gevelstenen (gable stones) in the town, which you can see here in the Dutch database, I found 33 (some of which are in the collages above):

Do I need to translate that Clothes make the man?

That middle cow gevelsteen is from 1611!

See why I feel like I've hit the jackpot in towns like this!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Speaking of hitting the jackpot, by the time we were finished that day, between Durgerdam and Monnickendam, with Marken in between, we also found a handful of weathervanes:

FINDING MONEY is not always about finding money!
Don't you love it?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Marken Photo Hunt

It was a weekend ago that we were itching to get out for another photo hunt and made the decision to drive to the Marken lighthouse. That was the goal: to see the Dutch-famous landmark only 12 miles NE of Amsterdam.

Paard van Marken (Horse from Marken) Lighthouse in the IJsselmeer.

Of course, we had to stop along the way both coming and going, but that part will be for next week....

Once we found our parking spot (€4,50 for the entire day, which is cheap by Dutch standards), we were off on foot, first to see the tourist town and then to walk the 30 minutes out along the dijk to the lighthouse.

Marken is a quaint little peninsula town of under 2K inhabitants.
Because we were there during off-season, we had it pretty much to ouselves.

I love seeing things I've never seen before!
This was outside the wooden-shoe factory (Klompenmakerij)

Enough wooden shoes to shake a stick at that day!

But first...koffie en appeltaart!
It had been awhile.
(click on any collage to enlarge)

Then we were off again to see the rest of the town before heading off to the lighthouse.
This happens to be a town where non-residents are not allowed to drive.
Thankfully, it's small enough to get around on foot. We loved it.

As we walked around one corner to the next, we suddenly were out in the hinterland,
watching Marken the town recede into the background.

The point of reference was always the church,
which, sad to say, we never saw up close and personal.

The lighthouse was at the end of the peninsula, a good 30-minute walk ahead...

...along the dijk.

There she was. The Horse of Marken. Het Paard van Marken.

It's a residence and therefore is private property.
As you see, we went as far as we could go.
And were not disappointed!

On the way back, we took an inland path instead of the dijk,
seeing these cows up close and personal.... well as the bird sanctuary, a haven for bird watchers.
These landing geese tickled me to death because they looked like a stencil painting.

And just as we headed back into town to the car...
a huge barn with 200 cows beckoned us: "Welcome at your own risk."

As if that wasn't enough, we headed to Monnickendam another 12 miles north before ending our day and photo hunt...but that's saved for next week.

Can you tell I'm still playing around with the new collage program, PhotoScape? Still jumping through the hoops and loving it!

Monday, March 05, 2012

COLLAGES: From Picnik to PhotoScape

Many of you know by now that the photo-manipulation site, Picnik, that also happens to offer collage making, is shutting down in April after having joined Google. Some of us went into panic mode!

Making collages of my images instead of photo albums has totally transformed my posts for me (in case you haven't notice). I NEED collages in order to function photographically because I have too dang many images!

Thanks to Linda/Shoreacres, I now have a new collage-making site that I'm thinking is even better than Picnik. Did I say that? I've been playing around with Photoscape (FREE!) all week and will use this post to experiment.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Meet Marius, the 3-year-old son of friends Irmgard and Wim, whom we met on our anniversary weekend, 4 February, in Zutphen, NL. He's adorable!

Because Astrid and I both have sons who grew up on Legos,
we assumed Marius would like them, too.

It didn't take long for Astrid to get him started!
These were his first real Legos...a step up from his Duplo sets.

Once Irmgard came and joined in,
I asked if Marius is a Mommy's Boy.

And why would anyone argue with that!

Astrid certainly didn't care!

Look at those precious little hands!

It didn't take Marius long to become a Lego pro.

Look at all that concentration...
and pay attention to the wee man on the bottom right (above),
because Marius carried him in his hand later when we took a walk outside.

It doesn't get more adorable than that.
(And yes, Ruth, it made me hungry for James Lawrence.)

Here's my YouTube of Marius, made on 29 February,
in honor of Gioachino Rossini's 220th birthday.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

With this post I end our 2nd anniversary weekend from a month ago! But before I leave... are 3 gevelstenen (gable stones) from Zutphen.
The one on the right was made in honor of Wim who is an etcher!

And last but not least, here are weathervanes from the anniversary weekend.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Since the last Jan van Haasteren puzzle, here are two more we've finished (both images are from Haasteren's site):

The Dog Show, 1500 pieces.
This was given to us by 2 of Astrid's co-workers for our anniversary.

The Office, 1,000 pieces