>> Monday, December 31, 2012

It's already 2013 in New Zealand and Australia!

New Year's eve is always an exciting time.  It's like getting a brand new notebook getting ready to write your very first word in there.  The promise of new possibilities awaiting.  Magical I say!  We're celebrating at the house of our friends'.  I'll be sporting my silver snake skirt print skirt.  That's right!

On an unrelated note:

Latest vocabulary of Jr.

mony - bunny
fok - fork
poon - spoon
pate - plate
kaas - (cheese) referring to anything you put on bread
tita - sit
copper - helicopter

Obsession with cookies seems to be over.
Wishing everyone a super Happy Sparkling Exciting Adventurous Wonderful 2013!!!!!!!


Chicken kotletki

>> Thursday, December 27, 2012

So!?  How was it???????????  :)

My Christmas was very sweet, we celebrated at Vito's mom's house as usual.  We all brought a dish over and I made a jr mistake of eating too much of my mom in law's home made salmon mouse for starters that literally I didn't have room for anything else!  I had to lamely say that I'm saving room for desserts...

I was also tasked with contributing to the holiday meal and I went all "Ukrainian Nostalgia" this year!

I made Chicken balls for starters and a Honey Cake.  Here is the recipe for the Kotletki :)  SUPER EASY!

Getting happy

Ukrainian chicken kotletki (balls)

1lb ground chicken meat
3 slices of bread (white or brown)
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 green onion chopped
1 large garlic clove finely chopped
1 table spoon of lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill (or fresh)
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbs of oil

Soak 3 slices of bread in the milk then squeeze out the milk from the bread.  Tear the breads into small chunks and throw into the mixing bowl.
Put the ground chicken meat into the mixing bowl.
Crack an egg into he bowl as well as the chopped onion, green onion and garlic.  Add the herbs, salt and pepper.   Mix everything together.  I just use my hands... I always liked squeezing the stuff through my fingers..

Warm up a large pan and the oil.  Make larger or smaller balls from the meat mixture and cook in batches if necessary on medium to low heat.  Few minutes on each side should do it, depending if you made larger or smaller balls.

Make smaller sized balls for starters, or larger burger sized ones and serve as main course with some potatoes and veggies.

WARNING: This is very garlicky.  If you're planning to kiss people later that day who have NOT eaten the same balls, leave out the garlic.  But then again, the balls will be so sad without the garlic.


urban planning at its best

>> Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Traffic seems to be a problem plaguing all cities.  
There were quite a few times I had to pull trucks out of the pond.... crazy drunk drivers...
On an unrelated note, can you find the "inspiration point"?  

Lesson kids: (we got MANY today)
-don't drink and drive
-don't go too high up in your ballon because you might get burned by the sun
-don't accept invitations from exotic ladies to 'park' near the lake! 
-stickers are ooodles of fun for young and ''old'' alike!


Oy wei!

>> Monday, December 10, 2012

Ale: Good morning! Did you sleep well?
Jr: Yup!
Ale: What did you dream about?
Jr: Truck!
Ale: Really, and what else?
Jr: Auto!
Ale: ...hmm really... Jr. that's what you told me yesterday... and the day before yesterday!!!! and the all last week...!  I'm beginning to suspect something is up!  Are you telling me the truth???  OOOooooiiii!!! You're not even two yet!  ARE YOU LYING TO YOUR MOTHER?????
Jr:  ...mamma look!  stars! (points to his pajama shirt)

Lesson to sons:  never lie to your mother!  and don't try to change the subject!


Cute robot stuff overload!!!

>> Thursday, December 6, 2012

Don't you love to discover a brand new aspect of yourself that you never knew of before??  Well, I've recently discovered that I'm a big NERD!  Lucky for me, nerds and geeks are hotter then hot now days.  You see back in the days of calculus math and similar such horrors, I would simply sit next to a brainy guy and pretend I have a wondering eye...  Well!  Turns out you can know nothing about math and STILL be a nerd!  Yeeey...?! I manifest this by telling everyone that Jr. is going to be an aerospace engineer.  I even already visited a potential university and spoke to that faculty about what one needs to do to increase their chances of acceptance.  They looked at me and said: oh how nice!  When are you done with high school?...

So because I'm such a lover of all things nerd and geek, I've been totally drooling over these cute guys lately!!!  I just want to take them all home!  And this isn't for just fun and games, I'm working to create a conducive atmosphere for Jr. to be influenced towards aerospace engineering...and stuff...

Tea infuser, isn't he cute!?

Salt and Pepper shaker!!  We can call them Sonia and Pedro, and they're in luuuuurve!  Aww!  But they come from rival families, and they have to see each other in secret, then they'll commit suicides from heart break!  Now... where did I hear a similar story?

Robot ice cube tray!  "It's time to unwind" hehehe... UNWIND... meeehehe

And these guys are just too much!!! Little table top robot vacuum cleaners!

Now all this stuff I want to get is NOT for ME, and NOT for my personal entertainment... no-no... This is strictly for Jr's educational purposes!!!  Absolutely.  Most definitely it's for his education.

Lesson: Having a kid is such a selfless, sacrificing, etc, etc, etc, job....   Yeah...OK...It's soooooo much FUN!!!!


Corner View - Serendipity

>> Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. (wikipedia) 
Here we are exercising our love for travel by hanging off the boat to see glaciers in Patagonia.  (Don't worry, no ginger haired guys were hurt while taking this photo).

I believe that 'happy accidents' happen when you're moving towards something, working on a goal, and pushing along in a certain direction... then... seemingly by accident, but ONLY seemingly, little things happen to propel you forward.  Serendipity? Luck? No way, it's just what happens when you work hard for something and keep your eyes open. 

So did I meet Vito by "accident"?  Some may see it that way.  Though if you peel just one tiny layer you'll see the intricate web of activities that pushed us together.  But that's a story for another day!  

Today is Serendipity, so to answer the question of how I met Vito, I will simply say: Sure ok, he dropped out of the sky into my lap!  No literally, he flew over from the Netherlands to NY to take me out to dinner. :) 

We both worked for the same client just in different departments.  I in NYC and he in Amsterdam.  After a few months of working via email, and a few phone calls that made me conclude he was rude, and him that I was a man (?!???)  we somehow got past it and figured out that we had lots in common, especially love of travel, that we were same age, and so on and so forth.  Then Vito flew over to hang out with me for a long weekend!  It was Easter weekend and precisely a year later on the following Easter weekend I moved to the Netherlands.

Tada!  (Serendipity is such a romantic concept... let's believe in it for just one day)  We can go back to our militant, systematic selves tomorrow!  (Me? militant and systematic?? Yes! Because it's so action oriented, I find being "serendipitous" too passive for my taste.) 

Lesson kids: Look up!  Good things DO drop from the sky accidentally or on purpose.

Play with us next week!!!
Corner view theme by  Kari
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane



>> Friday, November 30, 2012

Jr. is nearing the big 2 birthday.  Only now Vito and I are begging to feel like we live with a third PERSON instead of like a cute pet (that poops a lot).

Jr. is decisively deciding to make more decisions on his own.  Like what shoes he should wear, and more alarmingly... what shoes mama should wear.  He now decides which way his hair should be brushed and there was a bit of a commotion in the bathroom this morning when he tried to "adjust" papa's hair.

Mostly though his newly discovered decision making ability is exercised around food.  Coupled with the new found love for talking this is what we hear all day long:

Cookie! cookie mama cookie! - points to where the cookie jar is.
Apple stroop - (in Dutch, apple butter) anythign that is sweet and spreadable... thanks Grandma!
Apple - apple or any fruit or berry that is red
Nana - Banana
Rin - mandarin or any fruit that is not apple or red or a banana
Bear - Pear
He has never had ice cream but knows how to say it and points it out in a book... thanks kinder garden!

What is this green thing??  Hmm... definitely not a cookie... or apple stroop...
I'm totally not a sweet tooth person so I know he does not get it from me.  Vito has a sweet tooth, but I wonder if that's just a "man" thing?

Man, Jr is a man.... baaaahahahahah I have to laugh otherwise I already feel panic and anxiety that he will want to go on a world wide trip and 'make friends' with nice exotic ladies...

I'm the reincarnation of my Great Grandmothers, and my Grandmothers and my Aunt... wait! Times TEN!

Lesson kids: Having kids is not "hard" it's dealing with your dormant craziness that inevitably surfaces triggered by childbirth that is difficult...(!!)


Corner View - Thankfulness

>> Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankfulness is an art.  It's an art to be practiced, perfected and even if you're really good at it, there are always new techniques to learn.

I myself have to practice this ''art" daily.  The reason I started blogging in 2005 was to challenge myself to see good, and positive things, in every day, which in a way finding something daily to be thankful for.  It's so easy to just make snide remarks about everything.  And doing things that are easy will not get us anywhere.  Finding easier ways to do things that are difficult, not THAT! is something I'm a big fan of.

So here is my recipe for Thankfulness daily:  take a snapshot of something making it beautiful, and if you're not a photo person, write a blog post about something making it sound nice/good/glamorous/beautiful/lovely/fantastic!  Of course I'm talking to a room full of bloggers, you guys know this trick already ;)

Except my friend Cadiz who started her blog in 2005 specifically TO complain...  she's loosened up since then... especially after meeting THE ONE through her blog...and marrying him ... (!!!)

Thank you for today's theme Kari!
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


Corner View - ENERGY!!!

>> Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I define myself by this word!  Energy is the only answer to this thing that we call life, it is ALL we have!
(Hands in the air menacing... at something... bolt of lighting is heard.... somewhere)

Ok, so the drama aside, it's time to reveal a secret.  While everyone that knows me is amazed by my seemingly boundless energy, what they don't know (well actually they ALL do) is that it all comes from a very well defined source.  The fountain of youth?  Pretty close!


Transformation takes place from the very moment the delicious nectar hits my lips.  Life starts pulsing through my veins.  My brain starts registering sounds and sights begin to acquire focus in my eyes.

One VERY satisfactory espresso had by me in the Loire Valley... I took more pictures of it then the castle we were visiting.  I know, I need to discuss this with my toxicologist.  And hey! at least I leave out the sugar, see above diagram for evidence.  Boy, this is like the longest caption ever in the history of the world... No, universe!  Yeah!! 
Even when I was pregnant, I continued drinking one small cup of coffee in the mornings.  After a day and a half of abstaining, I determined that it was safer for the unborn child if I went ahead and had my coffee.

Oh, and please, don't ever, EVER, mess with my coffee...

Corner View theme:  ME!!! 
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane

P.S: Come play with us next week!!  See next week's assignment over at Francesca's.


Giddy for Gidsy!

>> Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My absolute favorite thing about travel is meeting people who live in those destinations and if they take me somewhere they love to go... well I'll just be giddy from such luck!

That is why I thing Gidsy is PURE GENIUS!!!  Think Etsy but for Activities!!!!

I tell you a secret.  Once upon a time when I lived in NYC, I wanted to start a walking tour company.  Then I took a huge shotgun and shot myself in the foot about 38 times.  (Over thinking things like, nyc tourism activity permit, insurance, taxes, etc, etc, etc...)

Now for example, you're on your way to Amsterdam and you're walking around taking in the sites.  You come across one of the many picturesque canals and see lovely house boats.  You lean accross the bridge railing wistfully thinking... "Oh if I only knew someone who lived on such a boat, they could invite me over and I can see what it's like inside..."

Well GUESS WHAT!?  Few clicks on Gidsy and you're in!!!!  I myself have not used it yet, but the next time I'm going somewhere I can't wait to give this a try!  As for the house boat dinner, a total MUST quintessential Amsterdam.

Eat Dutch stew with houseboat crew! by Mark & Cynthia V. on Gidsy.com

Security declaimer: of course the jaded New Yorker in me is screaming not to go into any stranger's house as it could end in a bloody mess.... but I realize that it's a personal problem to work out privately with my team of psychologists so for now I tell the voice to shut it, and enjoy life ;)

Where would you take a tourist to in your town?


It's a shipping container... it's an oil platform? ...it's a...

>> Thursday, November 15, 2012

...RESTAURANT!  How cool is this!?

photos via
The Dutch really know how to do atmospheric eating.  I haven't been there yet, but my husband took his clients there.  Next time I have out of town friends over we'll take them there!  There is something definitively romantic about industrial landscapes!!  Can't wait to try it.  Want to go?


Corner View - Spirituality?

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To me the word "spirituality" signifies some sort of indecision.  I'm a very action oriented person so I don't like to be undecided about anything.  However simply accepting an established answer is also not for me.  So while I don't like the word spirituality I also don't like the word 'religion'.    I guess the difficult part in talking about Faith, religion and God is that there is no template or pre-set instructions even though all religious groups do try to come up with their own.  So what is my view?  I believe in God and I believe in what the Bible says.  Do I doubt this? No. Do I think MY way of seeing it all is the ONLY way?  Of course not! Case closed.

There is nothing sinister about that face!
On a side note.  Long time ago (during the turbulent teenage years) I had a dream in which Yanni was the devil who came to tempt me to 'join him' as we strolled around a bustling square with a fountain in a sunlit picturesque Greek town somewhere in the Greek islands.  He wore a white linen suit and he was extremely friendly and straight forward asking me to 'go with him'.  I remember in my dream being surprised at how NICE the devil was.  At the end or our stroll I told him sorry I won't be 'going with him'.  He smiled and said he thought so, but if I ever change my mind he'll always be waiting.  Goosebumps stuff no!??? ;)

Aside from my crazy dream, I think Yanni makes absolutely amazing music and is a pretty handsome man.

Lesson kids: don't go nowhere with good looking older men wearing white linen suits

Corner View theme:  Kelleyn 
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


Peanut Butter Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches... wow what's a mouthful!

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here is the other cutesy thing I made for the "manly" dinner.  Peanut Butter Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches!

The recipe inspiration for the cookies came from here and the plating from here.

1 cup of peanut butter (creamy)
3/4 cup of organic brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 tsp baking soda
pine nuts for flower decoration

Mix all ingredients well.  Put a spoon-full of on the cookie sheet flatten and decorate with pine nuts. 

Bake on a cookie sheet in a warmed up over at 175C (350F) for 8 minutes.  8 minutes ONLY!  Note that cookies will still be completely soft when you take them out of the oven but they will harden in a few minutes.  Don't stick the cookies to bake longer or they'll burn.  (I burned my first batch because I'm not good with authority and decided to bake longer then 8 mins.)

For the ice cream filling I used store bought cinnamon ice cream, mixed it with a bit of pickled ginger syrup.  



BFF needs dissipline... and ceviche recipe.

>> Friday, November 9, 2012

So again my BFF was getting out of hand the other day.  How do you manage your time?  She asked.  Hmm... Well, I kinda sorta don't do anything so I have plenty of time for "it all"!  I said.  And of course she thought I was trying to be rude and obnoxious.

After more detailed discussions it turns out that I do A LOT!!!!!!!!!!  I have a full time job.  Granted I'm lucky enough to be able to work from home some days and thus save 2 hours of commute time.  But still it's a full time job.
I cook dinner...
Vito and I hang out with Jr...
But then he goes to bed at 7pm and till 10.30pm we have time to do whatever we want.
Once a week possibly I go out with the girls.  And once a week Vito has football.
So my BFF convinced me that I indeed have a packed schedule.
To me that's doing NOTHING.
To me "doing things" is when I'm working on some "BIG" projects or other, and I just don't consider making dinner, or having a light social life very time consuming.  Or doing little home improvement stuff.  Or any other home stuff.  My only 'BIG' project at the moment is Jr. and that's pretty much my only saving face activity, at least I'm accomplishing something - helping a human being grow.  Remember that was my delema for even blogging, since I do nothing so this blog will be about "nothing''.

To me a relaxing day is a day when every minute is PLANNED with activities.  If all I have to do in a day is "relax" I'll probably get really angry and stressed, maybe a bit violent.  So to answer her question about how I manage my time, I still stand by my: I don't need to MANAGE my time, I do NOTHING!  (breathe... breathe... breathe...)

I was complaining about this very thing to my dad the other day.   "Paaappppiiiiii!!!!!! (pouty lip)  Jr. grew 5 new teeth in the last 5 month!!!!!  What have I done? NOTHING!!!!"

My dad, and that's why he is the greatest ever, said.  "Ok, but who is Jr's mother?  Who feeds him?  Who plays with him and helps him grow?"

"I guess.... I do.... (lip is still pouty)"

"Well, then him growing 5 new teeth is just as much YOUR accomplishment!"


"Of course!"

"REALLY!!!????  Yeeeeeey!!!!!!!!!  I have done SOMETHING in the last 5 months after all!!!!"

Thank goodness for daddy, he just always knows what to say to cheer me up.

You know what else cheers me up!?  CEVICHE!!!  I made this sexy little thing for a started for the "manly" party.  The men LOVED it!

Take mini crevettes, avocado, sweet red pepper,  cilantro, (if your husband approves of it) chop it up into tiny squares except for the crevettes.  One juice of lemon and a pinch of paprika.  Let it all marinate in the fridge for an hour or so.  Serve in martini glasses.

Have a great weekend!


Corner View - Longing for....Christmas in Reykjavik?!?

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I just LOVE the two men in the video, they just seem like they'd be such fun dinner guests!!!  I love how the one man just keeps on talking excitedly and the other one just smiles and nods, and I don't know, maybe looks like he is just a tinsey bit laughing at his partner.  So CUTE!  I must show this to Vito so he understands how he should act when I talk and talk excitedly.  He currently rolls his eyes... and even violently protests some things that I say.  He thinks he is so tough.  Does he still not know that 'resistance is futile'???  I thought I proved that to him the day we got married!?

Anyway, I've been recently obsessed by everything Iceland and having come across this video I instantaneously got inspired to start creating some of my very own Christmas traditions.  I grew up in Ukraine and back in the day we had the tree for New Year's Eve, and the presents were exchanged to ring in the New Year with new stuff.  It was a magical night when kids got to stay up till midnight and we ate a very elaborate dinner prepared by the women in the family and watched the obligatory New Year's Eve musical program on tv.  It was something out of this world for a kid.  I'm really looking forward to start to create something like that for us.  For now though I just want to grab the whole family and fly over to Iceland, stalk the two men down and see if they'd invite us all over for Christmas dinner!

Theme by Kasia

Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


manly dinner

>> Saturday, November 3, 2012

We got men coming over for dinner tonight!  Vito's football guys.  I'm thinking of rose shrimp ceviche served in a delicate martini glassess for a starter...  followed by some more chick food and something pink for dessert...


Corner View - Artist?

>> Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Of COURSE I'm an artist!  Look at my "piece of art"... meheheheee (Yes, I laugh at my own jokes, my doctor says it's healthy!)  Oh yeah and I should add, Vito helped with the artistic process.

Here is the full story of how I "killed" the artist in me :)

And here is a doodle.

Theme: Elsa

Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


>> Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What a fiasco of a weekend!

First Jr. takes a nose dive off his bike into... concrete ground.   Blood and all... Twenty minutes later he is fine but I remain traumatized the whole weekend!

Then on top of my child drama, I got to worry about my family in Staten Island as they prepared for Hurricane Sandy.  They're perfectly fine and my dad finally got the credit he deserved for being right in insisting we buy a house with "Elevation A" (on a hill).  Now that I think about it, well duh! Of course you should buy a house that is on higher ground especially on an Island!  Even if the island is part of NYC.

So yes, poor ME and MY ruined weekend.  Yes, I AM the bellybutton of the Universe and the world revolves around me.  :)

But- complaining is not allowed on the Sunny Orangery.  It's totally unproductive.  So instead here is a pretty picture of pink flowers against blue pot right from my back yard.  Pretty no!?


Early Retirement. Yes please!

>> Thursday, October 25, 2012

My BFF and I were chatting the other day.  (That's right! It's perfectly OK for a grown woman to have a BFF and refer to the BFF as "BFF"...ok???)  So we were talking about how seemingly boring our lives are now.  I told her, I WANT my life "boring".  I love it when everyone is HOME (and preferably sleeping).

my cousin and I somewhere on a rooftop in NYC... the PINK the blond, the tans... says it all. 

Yes it's true, if we're comparing our lives now to when we were 20 something and out every single night, falling in love at least three times per week, staying up till 5am and going to work two hours later....  Though believe it or not back then I remember feeling bored and now I don't.  Now days I have to choose which social interaction to have since I can't really participate in everything, and it's perfectly acceptable (since you know: "... the kid, the kid...").  Yes life is quieter and more relaxed, but boring?  No, I would not call it that - restful is more the right word.

So now when people ask me "So what's going on?  What are you up to?" I proudly say with a smile, "Thank goodness NOTHING, just this and that, walks in the park... home stuff..." and think to myself, I don't "HAVE" to be up to anything anymore, I can watch Jr. grow and pretty much anything I do on top of that is extra bonus points.  So bring on more of the BORING!!!

My BFF said: You're RETIRED at 34???  I said: I like the sound of that! :P  ((now if we could only make it official where there was no 9-5))

(Then I told her to hurry up and have a kid so she can join me in "retirement")


corner view - spontaneity

>> Wednesday, October 24, 2012

wednesday night quick fix!


Jump around...

>> Monday, October 22, 2012

Very fun idea for a bridge across the Seine.   But it must be the mom in me because ALL I can think about when looking at the pictures is how dangerous it is.  The American in me is thinking, for how much should this thing be insured, should everyone crossing it be made to sign wavers...  The New Yorker in me is thinking what happens when some idiot decides to knife it.  

 And one final question, where is this boy's MOTHER!!????


Take the plunge!

>> Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm so lucky I love nasty weather.  The grayer, the rainier the better! It gives me energy.  I would have never guessed that about myself a big sun lover and all I thought living in a rainy country would be so depressing.  Somethings you just have to try to realize you love them. 

I thought scuba diving would feel claustrophobic with the tight suit and all that water on top of you but in fact it feels like flying.

I thought having a child would limit you from discovering new things in the world.  In fact a child makes you rediscover everything in the world in a new way!

Alright enough sappy stuff... Happy Friday!

Homework for the weekend: surprise yourself by doing something brand new, come back and report! 

Disclaimer: sunnyorangery will not be held responsible for pregnancies ;)


Corner View - Jewelry

>> Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When I moved to the Netherlands I took all my mom's rings with me and kinda forgot to mention it to her.  It didn't take her long to figure it out though and was OK with it.  She only had one advice: "Wear them!  Wear them EVERYDAY!  Don't wait for special occasions!".  (Exclamation points are because mom always talked with animation, ALWAYS!).

This ring is my absolute favorite.  It's silver with amethyst stone.  And the story goes, when my mom was 21 and just graduated the Moscow State University, she went out with her classmates to celebrate, and during the evening she went into the fashionable mall and bought herself this ring for what at that time was amount equivalent to a month's stipend (Yes, students got PAID in Russia).

Anyway, every time I wear it, and I do very often, I think of the pretty, slender, brunette long time ago who no doubt giggling and using many exclamations, along with her girlfriends went into the mall and bought herself this little present.  I hope I have a daughter and I can give her this ring and tell her how I took it from my mom when I 'ran off' to the Netherlands with my Prince.  :)

Ring fit for a queen.

Corner View theme by Elsa

Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


I'm alive!

>> Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinner was faaaahbulous daaaling!  Everything went smooth, the food was well received and the drinks as well!  So much so that PERSONALLY speaking, it was completely unnecessary for me to have that extra two beers at 2.30am.  That's all I gotta say.  But I did recover... finally... Sunday afternoon.

My friend who was supposed to get set-up was not able to come claiming a flu!  So the blind date did not occur to everyone's dismay as we were hoping for dinner side entertainment... :)  But we will plan a dinner with just four of us later to try again.

Meanwhile it is already Tuesday night and the week is running away quickly...

Oh, and I made WAY too much humus.

Lesson learned for next party: drink less and eat more humus.


>> Friday, October 12, 2012

Party Planning for 8

#Menus #Calm #Greece-Turkey

It's Friday!
Tomorrow is the dinner and I haven't exactly started preparing anything except getting some of the groceries last evening.  But I'm very calm.  The more the situation calls for stress the calmer I get.  I like that about myself.  It scares the kaka out of those around me.  (I can say kaka, I'm a mom, it's normal.)   Oh, and good thing I asked if any of the guests had any allergies or food aversions etc... and turns out there will be a VEGETARIAN among us.  She seemed very nonchalant about it saying I didn't have to worry as she'll b fine eating just the sides.  It's clearly her first time to my house.  In my house all dishes served contain "man-gredient", or meat.  (Yes, men can also be vegetarian I'm just grossly stereotyping).

The theme will be "somewhere in between Greece and Turkey..."

Happy Hour  
We're starting at 6.30 pm with cocktails.  To ensure dining success I like to immediately get the guests to an advanced stage of inebriation.

• Welcome Cocktail - Kir Royale
 Cocktail 2 - Tequila...with something
 32 bites (4 per person)- I was going to make sushi, then... I got real and decided to buy some instead.
 8 sushi bites
 8 pempernikle triangles with smoked salmon and sour cream
 8 cucumber somethings....
 8 something else....

Fun Dishes
Dishes to have on the table before the starters come out.  The starter's starter?

• Beetroot Hummus (Thanks for the inspiration Tiny Woolf!)
• Chickpea Hummus
• Pita Triangles (to go with all the Hummus overload)
• Black and Green Olives
• Bread aioli and herb butter

Main Course
• Peppers stuffed with wild rice, sausage and apples
• Lamb something... (I have not decided yet)

Side Dishes
• Little Gem, garlic olives and feta salad
• String bean salad

• Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries
 Grapes platter (you know for after dinner when we're reclining on our right side.)

Well, anyway, the picture is slightly less fuzzy... I'm very calm. ;)
And now JUST at this moment it struck me to consult people that know what they're talking about....

A quick search yielded the following advice from Michelle @Browneyedbaker:

What she suggest and what I actually did...

1 }  First choose your main course and work the rest of your menu around that - oops... I planned the cocktails first and worked my way up from that...
2 }  I always like to include a salad with a dinner- check!! Little Gem salad
3 }  Then add a vegetable- String bean salad, yey, so far so good
4 }  Depending on how many people you have, you may want another vegetable side dish- Caprese salad
5 }  Starchy side - Wild rice
6 }  Bread or rolls with butter - bread with aioli and herb butter7 }  Now choose your appetizers. For appetizers, the general rule of thumb is 5 servings per person per hour prior to serving a meal. - good deal! I got 4 bites per person plus humus "fun" plates
Piece of cake!


Corner View: Notes on a leaf

>> Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm having a little dinner party for 8 this Saturday.  I'm so excited, I love proper dinner parties!  This one is also special because I'm setting up two of my friends on a blind date!!  Have I mentioned that I LOVE to meddle in other people's love lives?  I'm really bad at it too.  Well, I WAS bad at it but once I realized to go completely against my instincts on matching people I have dramatically improved.  My absolute favorite is throwing (what I feel are) total opposites together and seeing what happens.... ;) 

Uhhhh.... I can't wait! 
Corner view theme by Cole
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


you know your son is dutch if...

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2012

...there is a Heineken truck part of his logistics routine.


I've definitely approved this.

>> Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunshine continued all of Sunday as well.  We went to show our faces around town...

The kid does not sop moving for a second.  I'm not sure what's happening here, I think we're proposing to each other.

Vito's hair matches the foliage... he he he....


I'm magic!

>> Saturday, October 6, 2012

This morning it was stormy, rainy and grey clouds were congregating like teenagers without a cause.  I gave them a dirty look.  (The clouds not the hypothetical teenagers.)  The clouds dispersed because they knew what was good for them.  Now it's bright and sunny, and Vito is complaining about forgetting to bring his sunglasses.  

No matter what the situation is, I always tell him to just tell his wife if something is not going the way he wants it to go, and I'll fix it.  But I draw the line at sunglasses.  Remembering to bring them will stay his responsibility.   ;) 


>> Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm all about clever 'semi-DIY' stuff but this just made me go hmmm......

R U KIDDING me!? 850 Churros!!!?

(found via Messy Nessy Chic)


Eat the furniture please.

>> Thursday, October 4, 2012

 I saw this in a magazine, snapped a photo to remember to look it up...  How cute!?  A waffle maker with little furniture shapes!  A real "treat" for any home decor obsessed friend.  Or maybe your toddler who needs to play with their food before eating it.

Not sure if this is yet available for sale to the "general public" but this is definitely a fun way to surprise your guests with desert or a gift for that hard to shop for person who already has it all.  And now we can finally furnish the gingerbread house of the gingerbread man!

And guess what!?  Tomorrow is FRIDAY!


Corner View: Street Art

>> Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Years ago, while on a girls vacation to Sardegna, we stumbled upon these amazing murals of Muravera.  We  were strolling in the direction of the beach during siesta time in peak sun with the whole town shut down except for a few coffee bars containing old men with their mid day espressos.  Being our giggly early 20s type selves talking about our flirtations with boys the previous evening we were completely surprised and taken aback by these amazing murals.  
Corner view theme by Tania
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


Weeknight Dinner: Salmon, Potatoes and Magical Green Beans

At our house weeknight dinners usually take 15 - 25 mins to prepare.  Not because I don't like to cook, or because I'm a jet-setting career woman with a kid and a husband and don't have time.  I'm simply impatient and love instant gratification even more!  Or maybe can't focus on anything for longer then 15 minutes because I start kinda staring into space a little bit... then wandering around the room.... yes! Sort of like someone who is affected by the shifts in the moon's trajectory! Exactly!

Anyway, I like weeknight dinner to be a quick production I call 1, 2, 3 cooking.  Some kind of meat or fish, plus grain or starch, plus vegetable element, and then rotate to exhaustion for endless combinations.

Take yesterday's dinner: 
~Yeah yeah, there is one "over browned potato", I know, I know, everyone still lives.~

Menu: Seared Salmon + Herb Potatoes + Garlicky Green Beans

1. Herb Potatoes - Peel and chop potatoes into cubes (the smaller the cubes the quicker they'll cool) and boil them in slightly salted water for about 8 mins or so, until the potato cubes are easily pierced by a fork.    Drain water well then add the potatoes to heated skilled with 2 tbs of cooking olive oil.  (At this point I take out a portion of potatoes for Jr.)  Add your favorite herbs and spices!  I use oregano, basil, dill and red pepper.  Fry them for a few minutes making sure to turn ALL of them once in a while (or you'll get one that'll get away from you and burn...). 

2. Salmon - pour 1 tbs cooking olive oil in a skillet, warm it up place salmon in and one twist of salt and pepper.  After about 4 mins turn it on the other side for 2-3 more minutes on lowered fire. 

3. Garlicky Green Beans - In my super market I buy a packet of nicely cut green beans so I don't need to chop them up.  Add a little drizzle of cooking olive oil to a small pot.  Add the green beans and let them hang out in there for a minute or so turning them over.  Chop-up 2 cloves of garlic or use a garlic squeezer and add them to the green beans and mix.  Add a quarter cup of water and cover the pot to cook for a few more minutes.  The water will mostly have cooked off and the green beans should be soft yet still crunchy.   Secret Ingredient Alert***  If you like Warcestershire Sauce, throw in a tea spoon of it in.  Or a tiny bit of soy sauce will also do the trick.  

I gave Jr. the green beans without the Warcestershire Sauce, he threw them at me, one by one, and then grabbed the ones (with the sauce) from my plate.  Then he told me he wants to date an exotic dancer... And I had a heart attack...  No, just kidding.  But that's the scenarios I imagine every time he exhibits independent thought.

Vito also liked the dinner and did not announce that he wants to date any exotic dancers... what a relief! 

Happy weeknight cooking!


>> Monday, October 1, 2012

I visited the Woonbeurs (Interior Design Expo) Amsterdam this weekend.  It was magic.  I saw absolutely incredible things for the home of really surprising quality and craftsmanship.  It was overwhelming   But of course here at the Sunny Orangery, too much of a good thing is just about right.  It was however alarming to see the number of companies that make and sell throw pillows!  I have counted 35 at least.  Throw pillows everywhere...  Pillows that look like little carpets, pillows with silk flowers on them, pillows with birds on them, with poetry on them and so on and so forth.

I did leave with a feeling that what it all comes down to is having excellent sales people because NO ONE will know or care about your product if you don't strategically stick it under their knows at the right time.

Sexy... This display was done as a luxurious tent in the desert with burning incense and candles.  I just wanted to recline there eating grapes for an hour or six.

I wanted to just take this guy home with me!  Isn't he so "matter of fact" cool, so colorful and ethnic, yet modern too.  When I came home and showed it to Vito, he said it was a good thing I din't take him home.  
Of course that made me want it even more!
Lesson for the day: Kiss a sales person, they're saving your a$$!



>> Friday, September 28, 2012

As a lover of ALL THINGS BRAZIL I'm happy to see that Gusttavo Lima will be in Amsterdam on October 4th!  I've been curiously watching, or rather listening, how quite a few Brazilian imports could be heard on the radio here in Holland.  Imagine that!?  The country where a party signifies sitting (or standing) around in a circle.  I've said it once, and I'll say it again.  It just proves that deep down inside we really are all the SAME.  All we really want to do is tche-tche-re-re... ;)

Now while I won't be going to the concert, I may alert my coworker and perhaps he can meet some women "HIS AGE" there.

Speaking of Brazil... and being young...  I can't believe this was FOURTNEEN years ago....  This was some crazy time in Buzios which involved many Batitas de Coco.  Now days it makes me exhausted to even THINK about it.


Corner View: "oh my, ... this is horrible!"

>> Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The other day I had a conversation with a co-worker who I considered "my age".

Me: So what's new and exciting?
Him: Oh this weekend I had a love story with an older woman.
Me: Oh yeah?  How did you meet her?
Him: In a bar, she was just visiting.
Me: Aha... so how old is she?
Him: Thirty four
Me: .....................
Me: What!???????????
Me: What do you mean OLDER woman!?????????????
Him: ....um... I'm 27....
Me: YEAH AND!????
Him: ....um....... she is like SEVEN years older then me...

Later at home...
Stomp feet... to the kitchen
Older woman.... OLDER WOMAN!?!???!!!!!!!
Oh my...this is horrible...

Open the cabinet and throw all glasses on the floor............
Corner view theme by Tania
Hosted by Francesca
Invented by Jane


Keep your man happy - 2 simple steps!

>> Monday, September 24, 2012

This Sunday was romantic.  When our blond butterball was having a nap, Vito and I decided to do something we've been planing for a few weeks (more him then me)....  It involved sweating for three hours!  Vito thought it was so romantic that I did it with him.   Afterwords he said: "Wow, that was a perfect Sunday afternoon!".

We took out paints and refreshed our walls downstairs.

Yes, that's right.  We PAINTED our walls for three hours straight.  And Vito thought it was romantic.


We women go crazy thinking up all these complicated ways of being happy and making our men happy. Every time I come to a conclusion that my grandmother was so right!  She told me that to keep a husband happy (and out of trouble), wife should make sure of TWO things:

- his hands are always occupied
- he is physically exhausted

(and you thought this applied only to a toddler!)

MUST KEEP THIS IN MIND next time I'm drawn to plan a romantic day with him.

Hmm... maybe next Sunday I suggest we chop a tree down and make some wooden furniture...  Or clean out the garage??  Or weed the garden??  Or simply move stacks of bricks from one side to the other...

Now just imagine how much romance will be in my life when Jr. gets older!

All joking aside, I do have to say, I'm very oblivious when it comes to "structural home needs".   If it wasn't for Vito, the paintings would still be leaning against the walls, there would be no furniture in the house... and the warmth would be coming from a small campfire in the middle of the living room...


Clever skirt!

>> Friday, September 21, 2012

Not the best photo job, but you get the point.  This is a very clever skirt not being too tight to constrain certain un-constrainables and having just the right amount of stretch in case the un-constrainables do indeed 'run away'.  And never mind the toe cleavage...oopsi.  
In case you're wondering how I've achieved such a banging thighs and butt.... ehem... I have to comment that it takes a LOT of work!  It doesn't happen just over night!  I worked on it hard!  Spaghetti, pizza, cheese!  Lots and lots of cheese!  :) Speaking of which... I must go join Vito on the couch for hot Friday evening of TV watching and random grabbing (of cheese) from the fridge.   Tooddles!

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