Wednesday, 31 August 2011

End of summer

Summer is the warmest of the four temperate seasons. I find it hard to believe it is the warmest, as it hasn’t been very warm & sunny since June. Today marks the end of summer. Tomorrow we go onto the autumn season. Actually, I think it has been here for some time. It came little earlier this year.

This is what you see when standing in the backyard at 3pm. I hopped outside quickly as it was raining. I didn’t want to get wet Eye-rolling


I than ran to the front and the sky looked like this.


As we don’t have very good light today. The picture of the backyard looks like this.


And this is how the front of the house looks.


Luckily everything is still green, otherwise I would really get depressed. It is on these days I ask myself why do I live in the Netherlands. The light is so much better in Australia and the summers a lot longer!

I’m hoping for an Indian summer, especially in the coming weekends! For those who don’t know what an Indian summer is, this is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in the autumn. It refers to a period of considerably above normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions.

Bye bye summer!

Wednesday – the Simple Woman’s Daybook



Wednesday, August 31st 2011

Please visit The Simple Woman's Day book

Outside my window...the birds are chirping & tweeting letting themselves be heard. The sun is trying to beam its rays through the grey clouded sky. A slight breeze is coming through the window. Loving the crisp morning breeze.

I am thinking... how will is be to work full-time again after having a six week break. Although I’m looking forward to getting started again and help others to optimize their work performance, I have to admit that I liked the life I led the past weeks. No stress, no worries, no nagging, no negativity. It was bliss. Maybe I should continue saving for another break, maybe plan a sabbatical to make some progress on a book I would like to write.

I am thankful...for the life I’m leading and the people in my life.

From the learning rooms...although it might look like I’m pretty goal-oriented I’m learning to accept that it is ok to go with the flow. 

In the kitchen... everything is cleared away. However, there is still some left-over milk in the Krups Milk frother after making myself a caffè latte.

I am wearing...white jeans and grey&white striped tunic top.

I am creating...dreams

I am my old employer a little later in the morning to return my car, mobile and laptop. Tomorrow I’ll get a new car, mobile and laptop from my new employer. So this afternoon you might see me on my bike cycling through our village to get some groceries & maybe some flowers. 

I am my trip to the office will be tomorrow. Will be taking the train & bus to get there. Curious what kind of car they have decided to give me to take home. I’m a little agape. I know it is a little silly but I loved the car I had the past 3 years. It was a real Helen’s car. It is hard to let it go. Is this silly of me?

I am reading... nothing at the moment.

What did I do this morning…. went to the dentist on my bike. Nothing beats an early morning ride, cycling through the parks along the way and seeing little bunny rabbits hopping out of the bushes. Amazed how many I came across, at least 5. I really should take my bike out more often!

I am hoping... that I made the right decision.

I am looking forward to...the barbecue this weekend. Meeting up with friends and catch-up on all that is happening in their lives. We might even have an extra guest!

Around the house... it is pretty quiet. Teddy is sleeping on my sofa chair.


I am pondering...about a word that keeps popping into my head -  grace. Trying to figure out what grace means to me. It might be a subject that will pop-up more frequently in future posts.

One of my favourite the moment my iPhone!

A quote I like to share….

“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” ~ Harvey MacKay

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


The inside of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Meditative moment

yoga beach-2

Yoga is starting again tonight!

I love yoga because it helps not only improve the physical condition of my body, but yoga also helps me (re-)discover myself on a mental and spiritual level. This is because yoga aids the individual in connecting with your inner self and thereby I (usually) feel enlightened and calm during the session.

One an half hour of bliss.

But I have to admit I’m usually a little hyper when I get home from a yoga-session, just ask hubby.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Gratitude post – week 33 and 34

Nearly two weeks have past since my last Gratitude post. I was unable to write one last Sunday as I was away for a short break. Some would wonder why I didn’t go online, but I find it too much bother when residing in another country. I’m still feeling very cheerful even though I’ve been back five days. Had a great end of summer break with my mum. It was nice to be away and explore a small part of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany. I’m also grateful for having such a super mum. We had a good time. Actually a great time. We hardly squabbled, which is unusual as this defines part of our mother-daughter relationship. Love you mum.

On hindsight I’m becoming to appreciating the crisis I went through more and more. It has made me a happier Helen. I’ve had to endure some discomfort the past months and that is voicing it mildly. I realize that an attribute of a great crisis is that you can’t skip the state of feeling ruined and having lost all control. And did I lose it! My personal radar had collapsed and I had no compass.


It is hard to see that all your beliefs and ideas about yourself seem to have demolished. You think, s**t, I can start all over again!  But how? Re-occurring questions keep popping up in your head: who am I, what do I want, what do I need, where do I want to go, what do I want to be, what do I aspire? Questions that you can’t seem to answer straightaway. It takes time! And time seems to go by so slow. But I’ve come to realize a crisis means new opportunities, clarity, clearance, freedom. But the saying is true: no pain, no gain. You have to go through the pain, you have to take your time and endure some discomfort. But when you have been successful, you find that a crisis can be a very significant and helpful experience that makes your life easier to understand. You find that your world has widened. I’ve become wiser. So you guys who are still lost, hang in there. I’m convinced you will come through the crisis with flying colours. You will survive!


A new challenge has come across my path. Leadership. How do I define leadership? What is my leadership style? Am I a leader? How can I incorporate my personal leadership style with my managerial style? Personal leadership is a state of mind, of heart, and of body. Personal leadership describes a way of being and of interacting with the world that begins from the "inside-out. Personal leadership offers the possibility of a creative and inspiring relationship to work, family, friends, and colleagues—to everything we do. It offers us a way to "walk our talk." I’m a listener, I seek multiple perspectives, I have a relentless predisposition and I’m open to critique (maybe too open). I’m a bridge-builder and able to zoom in and zoom out at will. I love facilitating others to unleash their potential and discover the leader in themselves. Some would call me a ‘Integrator’.  Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". Some leaders lead with their hearts while others lead with their minds. I lead by the heart. But is the world ready for me? Am I ready for the world? I see all around me that people still seek traditional leaders. Traditional leaders still have the power and even today we still appoint new leaders with traditional style of leadership. I’m appreciative of my coach who challenges me to think about these things and by doing this I’m discovering who I am.

Feeling exuberant after meeting some of my new colleagues. The meetings and the End of Summer barbecue have energized me.


Tickled after a lovely shopping spree with an ex-colleague. Will be doing this more often. I’ve been in shops I’ve never been in before because of her. It was also a very successful evening as I came home with some new tops that I can wear to work.

Pleased that the outcome of my annual check-up was good. 

Blissful after coming to terms that I can’t do everything. A day only has 24 hours! Have come to accept that my progress on the Dear Jane will be slower that I would like. This is also true for ‘Tis the night before Christmas quilt and Zoë’s quilt. I need to claim time too for blogging, reading, meeting up with friends and family and work.

Joyful for all the compliments I get for this Gratitude post. You know who you are! I’m overwhelmed and it is encouraging to keep on trying to voice my gratitude.


Last but not least I would like to voice my thankfulness towards the developers of the iPhone4. You really developed a phone that I love to use. Why did I wait so long to get you?


Start day – quilt classes, workshops are kicking off again

Saturday, 27th of August was the kick-off of the autumn quilt season at the Quilt Cellar in Putten. It is becoming a tradition that I’m asked to help. Like last year, I assist people in helping choose their fabrics. I like this job because Riek (shop owner) & Aagje (quilt teacher) have a lot of faith in my ability to select the right fabric and complementary colours for the quilt, the (novice) quilter wants to make. I seem to have the knack to help people in making a choice they are happy with. We all know that the choice of quilting fabric is important, but the right colour scheme is even more important. Colour and fabric choice goes together hand in hand. A wrong colour scheme or even one odd colour can make the quilt look shabby and unappealing, and we don’t want that! Lot of quilters are a little unsure about choosing the right colour scheme, and really rely on the advise of the assistants.

Here is an impression of the day.

Henk van Kooten was there too, to give a lecture on the quilts he has made. Impressive work, especially the quilting. I think he gave about 5 lectures. I was lucky to be present during his 11.30 am lecture. It was great. He and his partner are great storytellers.

If you missed out, next year his quilts will be displayed at the Quilt Festival in the northern of Groningen (one of the provinces in the Netherlands). Click on the flyer for more information (it will be in Dutch however).


Some time ago, Henk was also interviewed by the Alliance for American Quilters. Click here to read the interview.

Have to share the picture of ‘Hugo’ and me. Hugo is the golden retriever (the puppy dog) in the photo underneath. He came for a visit to the quilt shop late in the afternoon. Isn’t he cute?


If only I could take him home with me. Maybe one day, when I’m retired, I can have a dog like Hugo!! Oops, here is another close-up. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.


I also enrolled myself in another workshop. I couldn’t resist the Tilda dolls displayed. I’m going to learn how to make these Tilda’s Christmas man, designed by Tone Finnanger. Visit her website here.

imageAs Christmas is coming soon, these will look lovely with all the other Christmas decorations! I can start unpacking the Christmas decorations in about 3 months time. We usually decorate the house around the 1st of December Smile

End of Summer Break

I’ve been away for a couple of days. A short break before I start work for my new boss. Where did I go you might wonder. Well here:

Grotere kaart weergeven

A stunning area in former east Germany. The Harz in Saxony-Anhalt.

Our home away from home.


Dresden. Mum and I have wanted to go to Dresden for a long time. Heard so much about this city. Well it was worth our effort. And an effort it was, as it was a 2 1/2 hour drive from our hotel and it was hot & humid. Naturally we choose to go on the day it would be about 32 degrees! Lucky for us we saw most of the city using the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus. For those who are planning a visit, a bus leaves every quarter of an hour at the "Theaterplatz".



Burg Falkenstein

An old church anno 1678!


Teufelsmauer, the Devil's dance floor according to legend.


Another burg


Sunrise! Room view from hotel.


Mum and I had a great time. Looking forward to our next break.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Look what the postman brought


It really is Christmas in August!

What is great about this pattern, it includes pre-printed linen en red embroidery floss. I ordered the pattern here. In less than a week it came all the way from Australia to the Netherlands. How cool is that?

Christmas in August

I’m still working on my ‘Tis, the night before Christmas! Absolutely love this project.

2011_08_13_stitchery&new watch-1

Baby Jane G5 – Poof completed

Go here if you want to see my progress on the Dear Jane.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gratitude post – week 32

Being in Gratitude is having a continuous attitude of appreciation for every thing and every one around you.

The grateful mind is constantly fixed on the best, therefore it will receive the best. ~ Wallace Wattles

I can now say that it is true that our hardest experiences tend to have been our greatest teachers and be the catalyst for our greatest growth and transformation.

I’m in a transition towards joyful gratitude: the natural sense of wonder that comes from appreciating life exactly as it is. I’m accepting me for who I am. For that I’m thankful. 

I believe character can take you where you want to go in life more so than anything else. There are three personality traits that will get you on the road to where you want to go. I think I have a more humble trait. Humble can be defined as "not proud or arrogant". When you have humility, you are less likely to offend anyone and people will naturally want to help you and be nice to you, at least that is what I think. I think humility is a good personality trait to have. It comes naturally to me. But this isn’t a good trait when living in the Netherlands. This sometime puts me in a difficult predicament, as I really believe if you are humble before people, people will be humble before you and give you whatever you want. I find people very off putting who think themselves to be better/more than ‘others’. I don’t think you should gloat about your achievements, as they usually aren’t just your own. Two other traits remain to be discussed: patience and charm. Career wise I have a lot of patience. Maybe too much patience and I don’t always take the lead when I really should. While writing this, I realize I should work on my charm. But why do I think so negatively about charm. I think I know! Some people I know are real charmers but while charming me, they are also being deceptive. I’ve been placed in some difficult situations by falling for their charms. But charm is not deceit. Charm can be a sincere personality. I think I need to work on this! Work on my charisma or ‘gift of grace’.

I found a blogger that I want to share with you. Nearly every post delights me and inspires me. It gets me wondering - if only I could write like Emily - comes to mind often. I love the analogy about the bench! Do check it out as the concept rocks. I’m looking for that place to be. My blog is a place to talk about things and share them with you. Blogger is giving me a place to do it. I prefer not to be in the spotlight. Yes, this is the humble Helen. Blogger provides me a bench to sit on and share. Believe me, when I say you won’t see me often on a stage like this one to share my thoughts and feelings. 


I’m glad that we are receiving all this rain. This is what is coming over at the moment. Nearly all of the Netherlands is covered by rain filled clouds.


It gives me time to read books on my Kindle, to write on my blog, to keep up on all the posts of other bloggers, to prepare for my new job & Houston, getting ready for a trip to the Harz, Germany, doing some stitchery and just ponder.

I’m rejoicing as I have finally decided which classes I will follow in Houston. Yesterday I enrolled and hope to hear from them soon if I can do all 5 classes. I’m doing two classes on hand appliqué. Maybe I might see you there. I’m not too impressed with my skill level so far. Hopefully I will learn some good & useful techniques. Do you find appliqué hard? If you do, I hope to meet you in HoustonSmile

I’m delighted for being able to meet up with an old friend last Monday. I hadn’t seen her for more than 8 years!! Funny, how it doesn’t feel like 8 years once you start talking.

Blithesome after a very enjoyable meal at an Arabian restaurant in Utrecht. The food was great and the company fantastic. If you are in the Netherlands do check it out: Badhu.

Tickled with these books:

IMG_6136 IMG_6132

Yes, I’m getting ready to go to Texas! I’m dreaming about the lone star quilt on the front cover. One day!

Have to share this quote: “I cried, and cried some more. I told God that I was weary of trying. And, God told me to quit trying. It doesn't sound like a revelation, but it feels like a revelation. Because I got it on a deeper level. I'm going to quit trying. When I forget, I'm going to remind myself. I'm going to do what I want to do; and I'm going to quit trying to do the rest. It's not the doing that's exhausting; it's the trying. The doing is exhilarating!” ~ Jan Denise

Feeling exhilarated with my simple happy life.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Christmas in August

It is that time of the year again when you realize that in only 136 days it will be Christmas. I love Christmas, especially the pre-Christmas phase. Dreaming and getting all mellow just thinking about it. Christmas is a joyful time of the year. When I think of Christmas I think of good times and creating memories. Christmas is the best time of the year for me. Christmas means having fun with your family, spending time with each other, travelling from one place to the other, seeing all the beautiful lights, decorating the tree, singing along with all the Christmas songs, pondering on the Christmas menu, cooking & baking in the kitchen, setting the dinner table with all my Wedgewood, eating roasted turkey with all the trimmings, and buying presents for other people.

Nothing beats Christmas. Christmas means new beginnings.

To revitalize the mood I work on ‘Tis the night before Christmas – redwork stitchery quilt. Yesterday afternoon I traced the stitchery pattern onto the fabric. The right-side border is about 80x140cm. My arm is a little sore from all the tracing. I’m not used to holding a pen that long!


I’m really enjoying making this quilt. Wouldn’t it be great if I could finish the top before Christmas? Girl, lets not get ahead of ourselves! Just enjoy the process.


So, after dinner I went to Berna, and started stitching on the right-hand border. Naturally, Berna has started on a new project. It is a lovely pattern. Her embroidery is immaculate. I wish I was able to make such neat little stitches. If you want to see more of this quilt, go to her blog


She also showed me the quilt she just finished sandwiching. She is now going to start quilting this beauty.

I love the little roll-up block keeper. I would love one myself. So I took plenty of pictures so that when I find myself a spare moment I can make one. Some of the ladies at the Dear Jane Club have one too. Only theirs are a little smaller than the one Berna has. Choices, choices. What would be handy, a small one or a big block keeper?