Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays 2007 ~ Fijne Feestdagen 2007

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"Greetings - A New Day, 2007" .. copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" x 7" approx.
Colored pencil drawing on Sennelier "La Carte" sanded paper.
Digital lettering was later applied to the jpg.

Tis the season .... for delicious things in the house!
Yum! "Mom" made cookies again and I stole the butter!! ;-)
(Lekker! "Mama" heeft weer koekjes gebakken en ik heb de boter gestolen!!)

"Christmas cookies for 2007"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

I also helped decorate the tree.
(Ik heb ook geholpen met het optuigen van de boom.)


"Sacha and her tree! 2007"
photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

Actually, I just played around under the tree, rearranging the packages and constantly annoying "mom". Hey, that's my job! While I was messing about, I saw a package under the tree for me and I can't wait to open it.

We hope that your holidays are merry & bright!

Wij hopen dat u fijne feestdagen heeft !

Prettig Kerstfeest,
(Merry Christmas),
Sacha & Judy
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About the Colored Pencil drawing at the top of this post:
I love working on Sennelier's La Carte sanded pastel paper. It's a tricky surface to work on because you can't get it wet at all (have to keep Sacha away from it, I can tell you!). However, the results are so satisfying and it's my favorite of all the sanded surfaces. While the La Carte is originally designed to be used with soft pastels, colored pencils do work wonderfully well on it. It's not as abrassive as other sanded surfaces, so it doesn't eat up your pencils.
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This drawing is based on a larger work that I have yet to complete, but the flower top just seemed right for a "merry & bright" holiday greeting. On this drawing, I used Prismacolor, Faber-Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt colored pencils. ~ Judy
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Making Marmelade and SNOW! ~ Marmelade Makken en SNEEUW!

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copyright, Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Tangerine study", Graphite pencil on Bristol vellum.

I'm helping "mom" make orange marmelade (sinaasappelmarmelade). My human "Oma" (grandmother) loves it, so each year she gets a big jar of it for Christmas (Kerst).

Cutting and pressing the oranges.

Here's the simple recipe (recept) that we (oops, I mean "mom") uses. It's supposed to be easy, and it is, but it takes quite some time to get the white pith out of the orange shells...much more than an hour.
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Orange Marmelade
Ingredients:
6-8 small oranges, weighing about 550g
juice of 1 lemon
1.4 litres water
1.1kg granulated sugar

"Mom's" method:
- Remove the pulp, pits and juice from the oranges and whir them all up in a blender or food processor.
- Clean the white pith from the empty orange shells. Get as much of the white pith out as you can ("mom" is very picky about this) , as the pith makes marmelade bitter and we don't want that!
- Slice the cleaned out orange peels into very, very thin strips - size of very thin matchsticks.
- Put the orange pulp, pits and juice mixture into a large soup pot with the water and juice of the lemon (make sure not to get any lemon seeds in this).
- Over medium-low heat, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- While it's still on medium-low heat, plunk in the sliced orange peels. Stir.
- Turn up the heat and bring to boil for a 10-15 mins. Then turn down the heat and let simmer for about 1.5 hours ... stir occasionally. Skim off any foam that comes to the surface.
- After 1.5 hours simmering, the mixture should be reduced by half. Keep it on the low heat while you test for consistency.
- Put a litte of the marmelade on a cold plate and place in the refridgerator for a few minutes to test if it's thick enough ... jelly-like. If not thick enough, cook about 15-20 minutes longer and test again. If you have to keep doing this to get the right thickness, then just repeat... but don't cook on high heat! You don't want to burn the sugar.
- When it's just right, put the marmelade into clean, heat sterilized, glass jars. You don't have to seal the jars with wax if you know the marmelade will be used right away. We don't wax seal them.
Enjoy!
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I enjoyed playing with the oranges (sinaasappels) before they were cut!

Oops! one rolled off the table...
Lucky for me, the marmelade came out tasting perfect and without cat hairs in it! heehee! Anyway, I'm sure the marmelade will be a hit with "Oma", even if I did sort of get in the way.

We have loads to do before Christmas, so the pictures from "Mom & Dad's" December vacation in France will have to wait!

SNOW! SNEEUW!
In the meantime, it did snow here two days ago!!!
Taken yesterday morning, this is the view from our back deck (vlonder) over the small canal (sloot) towards the little neighborhood skating pond (schaatsvijver).

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
Same scene, but from today when the sun came out!

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
The snow was very lovely, but oh so cold on my little cat paws (kattenpootjes) !

©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
I forgot to put on my klompen (clogs /wooden shoes) . It doesn't look like we'll have a white Christmas, but this was fun for a couple of days.

Have to go wrap some presents now...

Doei (bye) ,
Sacha

About the drawing at the top of this post:

This drawing, done from life, was created on Bristol vellum paper in graphite pencil. It's not really an orange, but a tangerine (clementine) ... have to get that Vitamin-C into you at this time of year. :-) ~ Judy

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sinterklaas Pakjesavond ~ St. Nicholas Gift Night

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Yay!!! It's December 5th and that means tonight is "pakjesavond"(gift night), when we celebrate the feast of Sinterklaas...and eat lots of "pepernoten" (peppernuts, aka gingernuts/cookies).


"Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten!" (peppernuts, a Dutch spice cookie)
Copyright 2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" h x 10" w, colored pencils on drafting film.

Pakejesavond is also when we give each other gifts, open our gifts from Sinterklaas, get our chocoladeletters (chocolate letters) and really just have a good time. :o)

Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) has been in the Netherlands since mid-November. He's been busy riding on his white horse visitng all the cities, towns and villages in Holland. He is assisted in this task by his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Pete (Piet is pronounced in dutch the same as Pete is in english) ). The Sint (Saint) has more than one Zwarte Piet, actually he has many... it's a big task making sure all the presents and chocolate letters get to the right people! In fact, we saw Sinterklaas and two Black Pete's (twee Zwarte Pieten) on our street this past weekend! We waved to them too :-) I wanted to join them, but "dad (papa) " made me come back in the house... well, maybe next year.


"Klompen en wortels" (clogs and carrots)
photo by J. Nijholt-Strong

In front of many houses in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten will find carrots & water for the Saint's horse and empty shoes (sometimes wooden clogs ( klompen)) left by the hopeful children in Holland. What they hope for is that they've been good enough all year and their names are down in Sinterklaas's big red book, so that they will get presents and their shoes will be filled with candy or money (usually gold foil-covered, chocolate coins (chocoladegeld) ).

We wrote a long blog post about Sinterklaas and the tradition last December 5th. If you'd like to read more, you can see it here: Sinterklaas might be the original Santa Claus!


Sacha with her own Sint & Piet.

"Mom", "Dad" and I wish everyone een Fijn Sinterklaasfeest! (Fine St. Nicholas Feast!).
Tomorrow, Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands and won't be back until November 2008. So remember, be good and you too might get a chocolate letter next year! :-)

Off to France again:
"Mom & Dad" are going to France again this coming Saturday - for a small winter vacation. They are hoping to get over to Amiens to visit the Christmas Market there and to see the Amiens cathedral lit up at night in all the colors that it was once painted in (many centuries ago). I hope they have a wonderful time. I'll be home with my human step-brother, trying not to bother him too much... ;o)

I'll show you pics when they return.... uhmm, I mean, "mom" will show you pics.

About the colored pencil drawing of pepernoten:
This drawing was done on Duralar Double Matte Drafting Film (availble only in the US, I think). I have been unable to find something similar here in Holland, but I'm still looking.

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Pablos and Prismacolor colored pencils on this piece.

The "pepernoten" were drawn from life (well, the ones that were left before I gobbled them all up) . The background, gift wrapping paper, is from my imagination...

This is the first time that I actually enjoyed working on the drafting film. It's definitely a learning curve. I took several wrong turns before I figured it out! LOL ~ Judith Nijholt-Strong


Tot ziens!
Sacha & Judy
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