Bunnies Grow on Trees

Konijntje Boom
Last week it was free-range chickens; this week it’s bunnies growing on trees. There’s always something to make you pause in surprise!

Saturday, as we were walking along the Oudegracht, enjoying the misty but pleasant autumn weather, we were stopped in our tracks when we saw this tree. It’s not often that you see a tree draped in an assortment of fabric rabbit shapes.

Rabbit Tree

I have no idea who put them there or why. I did a quick Google search and came up with nothing, other than the fact that one other person posted a photo of them on Twitter back on 17 October, so they’ve been around for a while.

Perhaps they’re the new variation on guerilla knitting. Guerilla konijnen? Whether they serve a greater purpose or are just meant to give passers by a smile, I’m glad they’re there. They’re just one of the many reasons I’m thankful to live in such a fascinating and lovely city. (That’s my subtle way of saying Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans. We’ll be celebrating on Saturday, when I can get pecans for the all-important pecan pie.)
Blue Bunny

The Big Utrecht T-shirt Competition

Utrecht Skyline
Has Utrecht inspired your creativity? If so, you may want to consider a new competition taking place that aims to find a winning T-shirt design that best represents Utrecht. The VVV Utrecht and Katoenfabriek are looking for the best t-shirt designs to be voted upon and then sold on utrechtshirts.nl.

The competition highlights the creativity of Utrechters, while also continuing the idea of duurzaame (sustainable) textiles and printing. I told you sustainability has been a keyword around the city recently. If you want to participate, go to utrechtshirts.nl to read the rules and download the template. The designs are then loaded to a Facebook group where people will vote on what they think is the best design. The winner will receive their winning shirt at the opening of the new VVV Utrecht concept store, as well as receive a portion of profits from any shirts sold.

You’ve got until 20 September to enter, so get to sketching!

(My Utrecht-inspired painted cigar box is still available, by the way. Hit me up with your best offer, if you want. Don’t forget, the holidays are coming up!/shameless plug)

Guerilla Knitting by the Centraal Museum

Guerilla Knitting at Centraal Museum
The other day, while waiting for a friend outside the Centraal Museum, I couldn’t help but notice the latest installment of guerilla knitting. It’s been showing up around the globe for a few years now, including here in Utrecht. It was a nice and colorful surprise on a grey day and makes me want to do a bit of urban decorating of my own.

Wrap the Bend

Pipe Warmer

Crafts and Cupcakes

Teacup Jewelry
For once, I’m going to suggest that you go to Amsterdam if you’re within travelling distance. Specifically, go this Sunday, 6 March, to the Sunday Market (Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek,Haarlemmerweg 8-10, 1014 BE Amsterdam). Once there, go visit the booths of solohandmade and American Baking Company. You won’t regret it.

For one thing, you can buy beautiful necklaces like the ones in the above photo. Those are both ones I own and adore and wear regularly. Kerry, who is the solo handmaker, takes some of her beautiful photos and turns them into mini necklaces. She also makes various “pretty and practical” things, such as coasters, pillows, hair clips and more. You can see and order her items on her etsy shop.

The American Baking Company
While you’re wandering around the market, you may get a bit hungry, or maybe you will be looking for a little something sweet and delicious as a pretty end to your weekend. In that case, go check out American Baking Company. Based in Den Haag, they make the most divine cupcakes and other treats, such as pies, bars, cookies and cakes. They’re also absolutely beautiful to look at, but once you take your first bite, you’ll be too busy inhaling them to stop and look any more. Seriously, buy more than you think you’ll want, because once you’ve eaten the last one, you’re going to want more. They’re truly addictive. Fantastic flavors, moist cake, and frosting to die for! They also do fantastic traditional American flavor combinations, including peanut butter and jelly, and peanut butter and chocolate. Amazingly enough, considering the Dutch do eat chocolate and do eat a fair amount of peanut butter, they don’t put these two great tastes together! Fortunately, ABC is doing it’s job to spread the wonder of this flavor combination. They also have a delicious red velvet cupcake with wonderful cream cheese frosting, and all sorts of other flavors.

So go. Enjoy. And say hi for me. The people involved are my friends, but they’re also truly talented and wonderful people and I’m promoting them here because I want everyone else to see their work, because it’s truly fantastic.

Kerstmas Decorations

Kerst Kleuren
When we moved here, we left behind the bulk of our possessions (which my parents helped us get rid of. Thank you again!). I left behind most of my Christmas decorations, as well, including the skirt I had made for the tree the year before. I did, however, bring almost all of my Christmas tree decorations, specifically the ones that had personal meaning or that we’ve had since I was a young child. My mother has given me ornaments most years that have something to do with what is going on in my life that year, or that have some sort of meaning behind them. As a result, every time I decorate our Christmas tree, I’ve got a wealth of memories to go with each decoration.

For the past two years that we’ve been here, our tree has been about the only Christmas decoration we’ve had. It’s a small house, so I don’t really miss having a lot of decorations, otherwise it just starts looking cluttered and is bound to tempt the cats into some sort of destruction. Yet I found myself wanting a few more decorations this year. Fortunately, some of the craft/design blogs I follow provided me with some inspiration for my own decorations.

The wonderful How About Orange … inspired me to make these multipoint star decorations. Rather than buy special paper or even use up perfectly good printer paper, I went through the 2010 IKEA catalog and found colorful pages to use. I was going to toss (recycle) the catalog anyway, so it seems appropriate that a decorating catalog should be used for decorations! I’ve made two so far and may well make more. I might do a bigger one to hang in the front window.
Handmade Star Ornament

Another design blog mentioned Scandinavian Christmas decorations, which somehow inspired me to make a garland of sorts out of Sculpy/Femo clay. The original was simple stars, if I remember correctly, but I couldn’t find a star-shaped cookie cutter that I liked, so I went for a mix of snow flakes, trees and shooting stars. With the help of some duct tape and twine, I ended up with a simple little garland to hang on the wall for a small but cute bit of decoration.
Christmas in New York

I’m feeling a bit more holiday cheer this year as I get used to the little differences and find new ways to enjoy the holiday spirit. It didn’t really feel like Christmas to me the first couple of years, because I realized that there were so many social/societal triggers that I responded to, which were primarily American, and thus missing here. It can be as simple as tv movies and specials, or the sound of the Salvation Army bells ringing in the shopping centers. It’s not that the Dutch don’t have their own holiday traditions. They certainly do! They’re just not the ones I grew up with, so they don’t create the same feelings in me. I’m having to learn a new set of stimuli to get myself into the spirit of things. With this my third Christmas here, it’s starting to work. Making these little decorations — and finding the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade online — have helped me feel a bit less bah humbug.
A Personal Favorite
(This was my favorite little spot to decorate in our last house. It was particularly nice at night with the lights glowing softly.)

Crafty Shout-Out

Not that long after moving here, I bought a second-hand sewing machine and whipped up a couple of napkins for us to use, since I had left behind all of my others in the US. (I really did leave behind an extraordinary amount of things.) Anyway, I hated to just leave them plain, so I sketched out a little Dutch couple and embroidered them on for a his-and-hers set.

Fast forward a few years later, and as I was trying to wrangle my Google Reader back under control today — I had 1000+ items to be read — I came across a post by one of the crafty/cute blogs I read, appropriately called she likes cute. The author of the blog is a Dutch woman living in Rotterdam and her latest post was titled Inspiration Tuesday: Dutch Handmade. Lo and behold, there were my napkins! It was a very pleasant surprise to see my humble little napkins included. It definitely made my day!

Friendly Promotion

Lovely Birdie [Day 143/365]
As I mentioned previously, the Utrechtse Fabriek, an indie craft show took place this weekend (well, Sunday and Monday, but Monday was a holiday) and I stopped by on Monday to see what was on offer and to see Kerryanne’s display. I’ve always admired her work on her blog and her website, so it was nice to finally see it in person. Over the holidays, she had posted some photos of little crocheted birds that I thought were adorable. Fortunately for me, she had some for sale at the Fabriek and I was able to pick one up. Isn’t he/she cute? I need a name (and a gender), though. Any suggestions?

Later on that day, we did head over to the Domplein to see the UDans that I posted about, even though I never did get around to attempting to learn the choreography. Unfortunately, the big dance wasn’t happening until later, it seems. We stuck around for a while to watch some of the other dance performances, but I had spent the day lounging in the sun and was quite sleepy as a result, so we soon headed home. There was a pretty large crowd there, though, so I’m sure it was quite a sight when everyone got their chance to shake what their momma gave ’em!
Waiting to Dance

Op De Tafel

One of my favorite color combinations is blue and green, particularly light blues with apple greens. In decorating the house, I’ve been using those basic color combinations quite a bit, as well. Our bedroom is decorating in shades of blue and green, as is our bathroom, and I’ve brought it into the dining room, as well.

I’ve been looking for just the right fabric in those colors to either recover or embellish our currently white dining room chairs. No luck yet, but I found a way to bring a bit more of that color combination into our dining room by making a table runner with some fabrics I’ve had on hand for a while. I bought the floral print a few years ago in North Carolina, simply because I liked it, without any real plan for what to do with it. The blue is a cotton canvas I bought at the lapjesmarkt here in Utrecht. The bottom of all the circles is a light purple fleece-type fabric that I bought ages ago in New York City to make cat toys. Quite the cosmopolitan table runner, I guess!

Foto Vrijdag 1.8

I studied art history at university and ended up becoming fascinated with architecture. I still am. I’ve got lots of favorite buildings throughout town, both big and small. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as a row of rooftops, such as these. Especially gezellig on a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky (something I haven’t seen in a while). If you’ve seen my Flickr stream recently, you may find these particular rooftops vaguely familiar. I recently painted them onto the lid of an empty wooden cigar box (thanks for the box, M&R!). I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Teacup Humans

I’ve had a variety of ideas of things to blog about, but then I got some sort of stomach bug this week and my plans went the way of the mice’s. I’m feeling better now, but it was a mental struggle just getting one Trippist post done today. I’ll hold off on the deeper thoughts I’ve had about learning the Dutch language until I’m feeling a bit more mentally alert.

In the meantime, I’ll (hopefully) amuse you with my latest crafty hobby. I’ve been making these little sarubobo dolls, just for the hell of it, since they’re fairly quick and mindless to make, although the tiny size makes them a bit more challenging. It’s also a good way to use up some of the small scraps of fabric that I have. Oddly enough, I just noticed that the blue ones are for luck with study and the green ones are for luck with health. I’m not sure the green one I made the day before I got sick helped. Hopefully the blue-ish ones I’ve made will help with my Dutch studies.

One of my other “hobbies” recently has been catching up with seasons 1 and 2 of the HBO series True Blood, which has just started airing here in the Netherlands on the Foxlife channel on Mondays. It’s a show about vampires living in Louisiana, not New Orleans, though. It’s silly and fun and recently had a great line about children. Vampire Eric referred to them as being small, like teacup humans! When I saw a screencap of the scene with one of the quotes, I figured I’d combine my two hobbies and have some fun with them. The result is this: