We have just returned from a trip home to see Grandma and Grandpa in North Carolina. It was a wonderful trip. Our trips home are a funky combination of shopping, outings, and taking advantage of grandma and grandpa for non-kid time. It can be hectic and it can feel like there just isn’t enough time, but looking back – it was fantastic. We ate lots of good food. We spent a lot of time together. We went to the park. We walked in the woods. We saw the neighbors. We saw old friends. The days flew by.
Now we’re back home, working on jet lag again and getting ready to hit the old routine running. It’s 11PM right now and Peanut is upstairs whistling. This might end up being a very special week! My goal is to get ready for my first market this fall. It’s on Saturday, so time is short. I’ll be at the Herfstmarkt taking place at the Vrije School Meander in Nijmegen from 11:00 until 14:30. The market is great fun for families with lots of activities for kids, think candle making and open fires! Hope to see you there.
I have to confess that I don’t enjoy most “kids” activities. Playgrounds drive me a bit nuts. Indoor playgrounds seem like they were invented by the same people who invented the asylums and then led tours through them. I love culture and history and books in a bad way! My kids have plenty of art supplies and I’m working on a killer library, but amusement parks? No thank you. With summer vacation coming soon, how do you do museum or “cultural” outings with little kids? Mine are 3 and 5 and I think we’ve got it figured out. Today, we left the house at 9:30, drove an hour, spent an hour in a thrift store, spent about three hours at Paleis Het Loo (one of the Dutch royal palaces), and then they opted in for a second thrift store before we drove home, arriving at 6pm. We had a great time, all three of us. Read on and I’ll tell you how we make it work!
Last week was a school vacation week and we went to Scotland. It was a great trip. We avoided the cities for the most part and spent some lovely time first on the Isle of Arran and then at Loch Lommond. Scotland is a beautiful place. It was very green with lots of rolling hills and space. We’ve lived here for so long that it’s easy to forget how a little elevation variation can be so beautiful. We did a couple of nice walks, visited a distillery, ate lots of pub meals, and rode on ferries. Add to that a yummy Indian food experience, delicious scones, a good friend, a surprise ice cream stop, and a super used bookstore discovery – you’ve got yourself a perfectly lovely week.
Last week was Crocus Vacation here in Nijmegen. We had a week of lovely weather and a great four days in Belgium, two in Ghent followed by two in Brugge (Bruges). It was my first trip to both cities and one of our most balanced family trips in the sense that everyone got to do something they really wanted to do, we found lovely places to stay, we ate out, we ate in, and no one got pushed past their limits. The result – a lot of fun!
Happy New Year! The littles and I celebrated the New Year in Oslo with good friends and a torch lit walk. Until they put a torch in Peanut’s hand, I didn’t realize the kids would be carrying the torches, but hey – why not?! We had a great time and now we’re back, back from Oslo, back to school, back to rhythm, and back to work. It’s amazing how much calm and quiet has descended on our family as we move into proper winter. January is also reflecting and planning time, so let me do just that.
The thing about inspiration is that you can’t go looking for it. Well, you can, but it usually finds you on its own. Last week was fall break in the Netherlands. We took some time to go to Weimar, Germany and visit old, good friends. On the way home, we stopped in Eisenach to visit Wartburg castle. The drive up to the castle from town was gorgeous. I’m always particularly taken by the contrast of the dark lines of the damp (it is northern Europe!) tree trunks against bright fall colors of leaves on the trees. Once we got to the top, the views were amazing in all directions.
Ever obedient, we followed our friends’ advice and bought tickets for the guided tour. My German is still pretty good for listening, so it went fine. It helped tremendously that the tour guide was a fabulous story teller. He had such style and enthusiasm, I think he could have turned a recipe for stew into a riveting tale! The first rooms we saw were not particularly exciting. They have been well restored, but most of the furniture and fixtures have long since disappeared, so that made it a bit harder to appreciate them. Our tour guide helped, though, causing more than one listener to gasp and then chuckle with wonder when he explained that medieval castle dwellers solved the problem of unruly storage in large boxes by (wait for it) turning boxes on their sides and inventing cupboards!
I’ll just give you a minute to gasp and chuckle. And yes, he was really that good.
We’re back in Nijmegen now, but what an amazing trip home. It was our best in years. I particularly enjoyed having a project to work on besides clothing and entertaining the family. My thoughts constantly returned to getting this site and my little business started. As a result, it seemed like inspiration was everywhere. There were so many pretty things to see – there were bags to examine and fabrics to admire. There were colors to fall in love with and patterns in nature that I’d never noticed before. It was a treat and filled me up with things to think about for the coming weeks.