25 May 2008


The Dutch love football (soccer). They also love their national team. They don't have national pride in a whole lot else, but Orange Fever sweeps the nation when the European championships creep nearer. Entire streets become orange as houses are covered in orange tarps for the occasion. Dutch flags fly, face paint abounds, and everyone whips out those orange clothes they keep stashed away especially for Queen's Day and important football matches (I have an Isaac Mizrahi dress in a very patriotic shade of orange hanging in my own closet). Even food gets dressed up for the occasion, and bakeries are stocked with orange-frosted goodies. So what's my favorite Orange treat?

Perhaps we'll find orange Oreos on the shelves soon...

16 May 2008


Ok, so some of you may have noticed my little-used 'Lost' blog. If you don't know what Lost is, go crawl back under your rock. For the rest of you, I'm not going to go on about it - I just want to gripe about the state of television in Holland.

I'm a huge Lost fan. It's a fantastic show - although it has become considerably less fantastic than it was at the beginning. Season three was really when it started to collapse, but I'm glad to see the writers taking their time this season trying to reclaim some of their former glory. The flash-forwards this season are a welcome addition - but who is the sixth? And does the baby count as one?

I digress. My complaint - Holland is one of the few countries that doesn't broadcast the new episodes within about 24 hours of their original broadcast stateside. We not only get it on Sunday, but we're also several episodes behind. It's absolutely heinous. And they're still showing season 2 of Ugly Betty and trying to pass that off as new! As far as I know, even the insular media of China is doing better. What is wrong with television here? Hell, we're still watching Malcolm in the Middle every night on our weird, twisted version of Comedy Central. When was that show on? Last century, I think.

The bottom line: TV in Europe sucks.

15 May 2008


I have opinions about a lot of things. One of my favorite things to have an opinion about is art, especially when it comes to people. There are most certainly good and bad ways to go about creating a portrait, but there aren't really any concrete rules about it. Yes, there are definitely guidelines - but there are plenty of good portraits that throw those rules out the window. At the end of the day, all I care about is that I like it, and it doesn't look like something some schmuck in a bowtie at Sears took.

To anyone who takes photos at department stores for a living - you need to quit doing that. They're bad.

This one's a favorite of mine. One of the things I really love about it is all the color. Taken in Bedford, England, with a crappy HP Photosmart. But you know, often enough bad cameras take really good pictures. It depends more on the person behind it. So for anyone who doesn't have a big fancy camera, remember that.

Babies are tough subjects. You can't pose them (although I think that very few portraits should be posed - candids are so much more compelling), and you never know what kind of face they'll be making when the shutter clicks. Staying tight helps - you want to be close to them to get the most interesting photos, and strange angles don't hurt, either. This was taken of my little Dutch baby today - she's one month old now!

More little Dutch babies... Lots of great portraits happen when the subject deosn't know you have a camera. I snuck this one of my friend and her baby; I think she still has no idea I took it.

Little kids are almost as tough as babies - in fact, sometimes tougher, since they run around more. Again, candid shots are great. The best advice: get a big lens and stay far away from them. Knowing they're having their picture taken is usually a recipe for photographic disaster. My little muffin goes nuts in front of the camera, striking poses and making ridiculous faces. At this particular moment she was just mad about leaving the petting zoo.

Like I said - get a big lens and stay far away. Just make sure no one thinks you're a stalker or pedophile. Best to do with your own children, or one you've borrowed from his/her parents for the day.

What happens in Holland stays in Holland.

I make an exception for crazy escaped birds. This one was pillaging our quiet street a while back, tearing blossoms off the trees. Why? Because he could, I assume. He had scary demonic red eyes - and no, it was not from a flash. I hate flashes (though I do concede that they have their uses).


I've decided I need to make a commitment to this blog - I have hundreds of photos squirreled away that no one ever sees, so I promise to post at least once a week (hopefully more, but you never know with a newborn around).

Hold me to it, faithful reader(s).

17 April 2008

Hoera, een meisje!

Sofie Elise, born Tuesday the 15th of April at 9:52 AM Dutch time.

14 April 2008


I love cake; it's delicious. I also like to bake, almost as much as I like to eat what I bake - the only problem with liking to bake is that I live in The Netherlands. People here do not bake or cook - they pretend to bake or cook. Dutch supermarkets are set up, quite cleverly, so that one can bring home groceries and put on a lovely meal without actually having gone to any real work. There is a prepared version or boxed kit or a mix for anything you could want (particularly powdered mixes and seasonings), from salads and soups to baked goods, international cuisine, and traditional Dutch meals. I've never seen a people so infatuated with pretending to cook. It's like someone gave them all Easy Bake ovens when they were kids and they never quite grew up. They even have cake mixes that are all mixed - you literally just cut open the pouch and pour the ready-made batter into a pan and bake.

But I digress. The problem, as I said, with liking to bake is that I live here. As much as I like it here, you cannot be a serious cook of any sort in a small town in Holland. You simply cannot find ingredients to make whatever you want from scratch. My latest odyssey has been the quest for baking soda. Our grocery store does not sell it, either in store or online (we have our groceries delivered each week), and my mobility is rather limited at the moment, so I can't easily search elsewhere. I thought I was challenged with vanilla extract and allspice (I had my 'drug' mule bring both over from England), and I was irritated with the baking powder that only comes in little pre-measured packets, not cans. But the problem with not having baking soda is that all the cake recipes in my Betty Crocker cookbook called for it, and I will not eat cake-mix cake. So here I sit, wanting cake for days and days, finally giving up the search and hunting down new recipes online last night. After almost an hour, I finally found a lemon cake with lemon icing (icing, not frosting) that I had all the ingredients for. It was heaven. Moist, fluffy (but not TOO fluffy), and surprisingly refreshing; it has a perfect moist crumb and we ate some warm right out of the oven, thick-sliced and dripping with lemony icing, while we played rummy last night. And then we split another piece, because it was just so good - there are few things in life quite as good as warm fresh cake, and it's only warm and fresh for so long.

I am kind, so I will share. Have a slice of cake.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me where to find baking soda in this bloody country?

29 February 2008


They really are beautiful, especially this one - she's mine. Our second is due in just a few weeks.

Camera: Nikon D40x, Nikkor 18-55mm lens, ISO 1600, exposure 1/6 at f / 5.0, focal length 40mm. Shot in color, developed in Lightroom.

This one is a friend of my precious, on a preschool field trip to an art exhibit.

Camera: HP Photosmart C945, ISO 100, exposure 1/170 at f / 2.8, focal length 7.6mm

On magicians and their secrets.

It's not cool to give them away.

Camera: HP Photosmart M407

The tulip.

There is nothing so quintessesntially Dutch, it seems, as the tulip. It is perhaps outdone in its Dutchness only by the wooden shoe or the windmill. And yet these iconic flowers actually originated in Turkey, and were imported to the Netherlands en masse during the tulip craze of the 17th century. What I discovered about them this morning, staring at an orange (really, really Dutch) bunch on my dining table, is that their insides are so very interesting.
Camera: Nikon D40x, Nikkor 18-55mm lens, ISO 400, exposure: 1/25 at f / 5.6, focal length: 52mm

06 February 2008

New toys.

I recently 'acquired' a bunch of fantastic new paint/image editing software, but my hands-down new favorite is definitely Adobe's newest little nugget, Lightroom. It's chock-full of handy little tools that make organizing a digital photography collection quick and easy so, as they put it, you can spend less time behind the computer and more time behind the camera. I couldn't be more delighted. It imports without hassle, features drag-and-drop organization, and includes some simple but spiffy development filters. Gone are the days of the darkroom - welcome to the age of the Lightroom!