Sunday, July 15, 2007

Visit to Mannheim, Germany

A couple of weeks ago we visited our friends Steven, Susan and Jonathan in Burstadt, Germany. They are our long time friends from when we lived in Mannheim. It's always wonderful to see them! Ed and I spent almost 7 years there raising our kids. We have so many wonderful memories. The military community in Mannheim is like a ghost town now, so many young men and women deployed to Iraq. I believe allot of their families have gone back home. I think I would have done the same.
Ed worked at Coleman Barracks in one of the aviation units. He arranged the placement of this Huey helicopter in the front of the installation when he was stationed there and it is still there!!!

Charming Custom

The Dutch have such charming customs! I saw a book bag hanging from a flagpole and thought to myself, that was a cruel practical joke! But then I kept seeing them - so I had to find out why so many back packs were on flag poles! Turns out it is a custom when a youth graduates from High School to hang their backpack from a flagpole!

12 Days and Counting!

12 more days and I'll be home! I told two of my kitties we are moving and this was their reaction ;) . I have not told Gabby the little one, her mental status is much too delicate for the stress. (Yes, kids, I am indeed a freaky old cat woman!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sorry for Not Posting

Sorry for not posting to my blog in a couple of weeks, I've been in major denial. That is usually how I cope with change and stress - denial and lots of carbohydrates! Those of you that have seen my hips know I'm not kidding!!!! Anyway, not a good example for my now grown up children, but I do the best I can. I guess I could have worse coping skills! The big news is that we are headed to the Moline, Illinois area at the end of July. I was hoping for the southeastern United States to be closer to the kids, but Moline is only a couple hour plane ride away or a very, very long days drive.

I was born and raised only about 45 minutes from Moline, and after living all over the world it seems strange to me to be heading "home." I have many bittersweet memories, as I'm sure most people do. It will be wonderful to reconnect with family.

Ed and I have been looking at real estate sites in the Quad Cities area (Moline, Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Bettendorf, Iowa) for houses. Housing prices seem to be more affordable than they were in North Carolina. It's hard to tell since we are not checking out the whole neighborhood though. It has always been a dream of mine to have an old house. Now, I know that is a relative term, old to me is 100 years old, I know that is nothing over here in the Netherlands, but that is old enough for me. I love the craftsman style prairie houses of the early 1900's. They have such beautiful wood work in them. I haven't found too many Victorian houses. That's ok, I think I saw too many horror movies that had Victorian houses in them as a kid and I think they are all haunted! Ed is really drawn to brand new homes, which are fine, they definitely have their pluses. I'll let you know who wins!

So it looks like the end of July we will be headed out of here with our three cats. It will be crazy, we will have to buy 2 cars, a house. I don't think Ed will want to ride his bike to work in the States like he does here!

We are planning one last mini trip - "mini" due to the costs of the above paragraph!!! Ed wants to go to Normandy and I want to go see Giverny where Monet lived and then spend a day or two in Paris. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Birthday Pictures

Here are some pictures from my surprise birthday party that Ed gave me - very cool! There were like fire works on my cake, much better than 47 candles!!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sad, Very Sad News

The company my husband work's for has announced the intent to close the factory in Enschede. It's very sad, many people will loose their jobs, I pray the transition will not be painful for them. As for us? Who knows. Ed's job is secure, the location we will move is yet to be determined. More to follow...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's Been Quite a Week!

Ed has always teased me that the week between Mother's Day and my birthday has always been a week long celebration, but I do have to agree with him this year! He really spoiled me this year! We went away on Mother's Day weekend and stayed in Maastricht Saturday night after seeing Luxembourg and drove around Belgium. We saw Bastogne where the Battle of the Bulge took place and the American cemetery in Luxembourg city. It was nice to see that the cemetery is so beautifully kept but sad to see so many young lives cut short. We also saw the German cemetery and was reminded that they too lost sons and fathers.

We stayed in Maastricht that night on the river and had a wonderful dinner.
The next morning we headed to Tongeren for my favorite thing to do - checking out flea markets!!! Ed found a great painted trunk and lamp made out of an old surveyors tool. I picked up some wooden bowls and some white stoneware potties (yes, I know that's weird.)

Thursday we headed to Amsterdam by train and checked in to our hotel. Kelly, our daughter had arrived in Amsterdam the day before with a group from her church. We met up for lunch and then took a tour of the Van Gogh museum. I think he was my favorite artist. The museum did a great job of displaying how his style progressed over the years of his life. We then went out to dinner with Kelly and then Ed and I headed down to the Red Light District. It was kind of sad actually. I couldn't look the young woman in the eye's. It sickened me to hear men making obscene remarks at them and laughing at them, but most of all I think I'm not happy with my self for going down there.

Friday was totally a fun, fun day!!!! Coffee with one of my daughters, two quilt shops, a bead shop, a canal boat tour, apple pancakes, and two English book shops, need I say more!!!!!!
This is a picture of Den Haan & Wagenmakers in Amsterdam. It is such a beautiful store! It is not a traditional quilt store, but sells mainly the traditional reproduction Dutch fabric that I just adore!!! I learned that the fabric is actually made not to far from Enschede, it would be great to go see it made, hopefully I can figure out how to make that happen.

We got back home Friday night and then Saturday morning, the day of my birthday we headed to Munster, Germany for the first big flea market of their Summer season. It's a great flea market and huge! Needless to say, I took a long nap that afternoon! Saturday night Ed took me out for dinner and boy was I surprised when several people we knew were there waiting to surprise me! I felt very honored and loved this week!!! Thank you honey!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

I can say without a doubt that motherhood has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has also broken my heart, made me mad as hell, made me anxious and worry, and taught me what true unconditional love is. It has made me laugh so hard I cried and so proud that I thought I would surely burst. I consider my now grown children my closest friends along with my husband Ed, I am truly blessed. I miss you guys and love you soooooooooooooooooooooo much!!!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Having Fun Making Jewlery

The last few years I've gotten in to making jewelery and with Spring upon us I was in the mood to make some costume jewelery. I like to use sterling silver but have been unable to locate any sterling silver jewelery findings here in the Enschede area so I've been using just what I've been able to find. When I lived in Raleigh I took a metal working class at a local college, I had allot of fun, but I'm just to intimidated and clutzy to work with power tools and fire!! I haven't managed to hurt my self with my quilting yet, though I have heard of people sewing through their finger!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More pictures of Germany

We've had three straight days of rain, I know we need it badly but I am missing the sun so I thought I would post some recent sunny pictures from our trip. We drove through miles and miles of beautiful fields of yellow. I've learned that the fields are actually planted with rapeseed. I had never heard of that before, but I guess it is used to make vegetable oil and is also used in the production of diesel fuel. I'm partial to olive oil, but the rapeseed fields sure are pretty.

Monday, May 7, 2007

New Hairstyle

I've come across a website that you can upload your picture and try on different hairstyles (, very fun!!!!! I've been letting my hair grow; this is the longest Ed has seen it and I wouldn't even consider it long. Well, I have had it with the hot flashes and the back of my neck being constantly wet, so I'm getting it chopped off again tomorrow. I still want a different style, I've basically worn it the same more or less for the past 25 years. I'm printing off a bunch of pictures and hopefully my hairdresser will help me decide on which one. If all else fails, I can always go for this free and easy look - and with the hormones in wack I may just be able to grow the beard too!!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust!

One more quilt is done, yeah! It's my mission this year to get all my UFO's finished. It is so hard to not start something new! Seeing what everyone is doing on the Quilting 4 Pleasure Ring is filling my head with all sorts of projects I want to do. All in all, I don't have too many UFO's left, so I should be able to get them done within the year. I don't count my Dear Jane quilt. That is on the five year plan at least! The carpal tunnel problem keeps flaring up, so I find my self using the sewing machine more and more. I love to hand piece and hand appliqué though and I hate to give that up. When I get back to the states, I guess it's time to check in with a dr. to see what can be done.

Back at Last!

Sorry for the long absence! My sister and her husband were visiting for 2 1/2 weeks and we were traveling much of the time. I also ended up with a cold that turned into a sinus infection so I was not feeling the best. It was wonderful to see my sister Laraine and her husband Gregg. We had a great time, got to see allot and catch up with each other since we saw each other last year.

We spent 5 days in Germany traveling all the Martin Luther sites, Wartburg Castle, Erfurt and Wittenberg. I must say I was quite surprised by how "depressed" the former East Germany still is. I guess it will take some time to restore the old buildings. Regardless, it was amazing to see the places where Martin Luther walked. The museum in Wittenberg was particularly interesting. To see actual items that Martin Luther used and his pulpit that he preached from for 30 years was a highlight. We spent 1 1/2 days in Berlin, not nearly enough time since there is so much to see. We also spent 1/2 day at Buchenwald concentration camp. We hadn't planned on stopping there, but I'm glad we did. It was hard for me to ignore the contrast of such a beautiful spring day with beautiful views and the horrors that happened there 60 years ago.

Later in the week we headed to the tulip fields, Kinderdijk, Delft (and drooled over all the beautiful blue and white dishes!) We then headed up north of Amsterdam to stay the night in a small village. The next day we went to the Zuiderzee Museum and Marken, an old fishing village. It is a little more touristy than I remember it from 12 years ago, but it is still quite charming.

I hope Laraine and Gregg had a wonderful time. I told them they had to go home, because I was exhausted!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Het Stift

Monday morning, (2nd Easter here in the Netherlands) we headed to the flea market in Weerselo. It was very crowded so it was difficult to look at things. There were not many antiques, nothing that really excited me too much, so we didn't stay long. We stopped at this little place in Weerselo that we always say we are going to stop at and never do. I'm so glad we did! Turns out it was a very old convent from the year 1100! Most of the remaining buildings are from the 16th and 17th century due to fires in the 1500's. We ended up having lunch in a converted barn and I had my very favorite Dutch treat, Appelpannekoeken! YUMM! Here is the website, if you are interested - Het Stift.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Easter evening we went over to our friends house and they had wonderful Dutch Easter goodies for us to eat! We then went to a Paasvuur (Easter Fire!) I had never heard of one of them before. But it is an old custom of long ago of celebrating new life, ridding the area of demons and ensuring fertility. Well, I could go along with the first two, but not the fertility one, maybe I can pass it along to my daughter Kristen ;) I'm teasing, NO I am not ready to be a grandmother!

Anyway, back to the Paasvuur. It was amazing. People had piled trees and brush and lumber at least 3 stories high. At dusk it was lit and we had a huge fire. From what I understand the Paasvuur is especially still held in the eastern part of the Netherlands. With my American mind, all I could think about were lawsuits and how we could never have something like that in the States! It was wonderful. This is the first year in my entire life I don't think I have a chocolate bunny hangover after Easter!!! If interested, here is more information on the Paasvuur.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Update on Dutch Quilt

This is one block from my Dutch quilt I've been working on. The block is 18" square and there will be 4 of them set on point alternating with blank squares. I think I'm going to do some appliqué in the blank squares. I'm not sure of what yet but I'm thinking it makes sense to do tulips, it being a Dutch quilt! I've been hand piecing, which I really love. I'm not sure if I like the very pale yellow along the outside of the block though. I ordered it from a shop in Amsterdam and on the website I thought it was a little more beige. Maybe it will be ok. In the picture, it doesn't look so yellow, (maybe it is my computer!!!!)

That's Not Cute!

Ed sent me this picture along with this text from a local TV station:
" FC Twente… (local soccer team) could have sheep on the team and still beat Almelo (another cities soccer team) this weekend"…. These sheep are along Hwy 1 along with a banner saying the same thing!

I know Europeans are crazy for soccer, but leave the poor sheep alone!!! :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

My 40th Birthday Quilt

It seems like I can't get anything completed lately, so I thought I would show a quilt that is done! I think maybe I am working on too many things right now, if I could focus on completing one project maybe I would feel like I am accomplishing something! All this beautiful weather has given me spring fever I guess, so I have difficulty working on one project for any length of time. Anyway, this is a quilt I made in honor of my 40th birthday. It is a tree of life quilt and if you look close there are a couple "planned" errors in it. That is to reflect the side of the family that gave me my mental issues!!!!! It is scary to say, but my 50th birthday is in 3 years and 1 month. Goodness! Well, I guess it beats the alternative. The Dutch have a custom of calling one's 50th birthday their Abraham or Sarah. When one reaches the age of 50 they are supposed to be filled with wisdom. Well I better hurry up and start getting some of that wisdom, because I could sure use it! Can you see the errors?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

So Cute!!!!

Ed and I went for a drive Saturday to the farming village of Staphorst. It is a little town about 1 1/2 hours west of Enschede. We saw this little fella - isn't he adorable! There is nothing cuter than baby animals! There were lambs, kids? (baby goats), calves and baby horses every few feet along the roads! I'm sure Ed got sick of hearing me say - "OH, MY GOSH! HOW CUTE IS THAT!" I've never eaten a baby animal in my life and I know I will definitely not eat one now! You wouldn't eat lamb chops anymore too Brad, if you had seen the little sweeties!

Staphorst was very quaint. I felt like we were transported back in time!!! Almost every house had a thatched roof and beautiful lace curtains at the windows. The barns were actually attached to the houses so they looked like one huge building. I love animals, but I think that might be a little too close for me. The woman (mostly older woman) still wear the traditional clothing and wooden shoes! Here is a picture of a woman mowing with her John Deere Lawn Mower (the residents are smart too!)

I saw this bike outside of a shop (a quilt shop of course!) and thought what a cool idea! They had crocheted a decorative piece for the wheel, (I have no idea what to call it!) Ed said that the lady had too much time on her hands.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thank you Frau King

A lovely woman recently passed away, Judith King. She was a very dear, special lady who was so kind to our family. Steven, our good friend in Mannheim introduced us to his mother when we were stationed in the military there. I loved to hear her stories about WWII and what life was like. There are many things I will remember about Frau King. She loved to have guests in her home and would spoil them by setting out her special china and silver and serve delicious coffee and pastries. I remember once she had me over for coffee and I hadn't drank coffee in the last 10 years due to being pregnant and nursing babies. I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't drink coffee after she layed out such a pretty table! I was so wired from the caffeine of that strong German coffee, (I haven't stopped drinking coffee since!) Frau King tried to teach me to knit in the continental way. Unfortunately I never got the hang of it and am still a "thrower." At Christmas time she still used real candles on her tree!!!! She had our family over and she lit the candles (and yes, the tree did catch on fire!) No big deal though, she simply squirted it with a spray bottle of water! I started quilting in earnest when we lived in Germany and Frau King had me make some items for her. She had a collection of antique white linens and lace that she asked me to cut up and make into a quilt for her. I was very reluctant to cut up such beautiful pieces of fabric, so I was able to persuade her to just cut up the damaged ones. It turned out quite pretty and I hope to make one for me one day.

I never thought I would see Frau King again after we left Germany for Colorado. It's funny how life twists and turns and you never know where you will end up. Seeing Frau King again after moving to Holland last year has been one of my highlights of being back in Europe. All three of my children were able to see her again before she passed away and for that I am grateful. She was very special to us. I will miss you, Frau King.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Clam Shell Quilt

This is another quilt that I used the millennium charm packs for. As you can see, I got bored with this one too - so it is small also! I love charm quilts - I love owning them and looking at them - but boy do I get bored with making them! I have it hanging in the little bathroom - so I had to photograph it at an angle (in other words - it really isn't as crooked as it looks!!!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My "Millennium" Quilt

This is a quilt that I made for the new millennium. It was part of a charm pack a month club during the year 2000 from a shop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Needless to say, I got really, really sick of this quilt - and ended up making a small quilt instead. So instead of the 2000 different fabrics it is supposed to have I think it only has a couple hundred. Oh well, I started out with good intentions!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I realized the other day that I haven't posted much about the city we live in. Enschede is a good sized city - about 160,000 people live here. Their are several colleges and universities in the area so there are allot of young people here which always is nice - it gives an area energy I think. Enschede is just a few kilometers from the German border so it is in a nice location for traveling.

Enschede has a great market on Tuesday's and Saturdays in the downtown center shopping district. European markets are wonderful. Wonderful flower stands, fruits and vegetables and cheese stands. I don't care much for all of the fish stands though. I like my fish without heads and tails on them.

Enschede was once a large textile center in the Netherlands, and there are many remaining beautiful villas in town of the wealthy textile owners. We have two old villas in our front yard. Today, most of these gorgeous homes have been converted into businesses.

We are in walking distance of downtown which is nice. I know my husband is laughing at this comment, because I usually take the car - (it's usually raining!!!)

Flea Market Treasure

This is my latest flea market treasure. It is an old graniteware bread box from the 1940's. I'm guessing that was when it was made. It does have some wear on one of the corners - (I call them character marks) but I only paid 8 euros for it and I've seen ones in perfect condition going for 50 euros and up. It will come in handy when the weather gets nicer and the little flying bugs start to invade our kitchen to eat our bread (we don't have window screens.)

I also picked up a toy barn that a gentlemen had made. I have a collection of German toy farm animals and they needed a place to stay! Ed gave me a horrible time about buying it - but I saw its potential!!! I'm going to paint it and try to turn it into a miniature version of a beautiful Dutch barn that you see in the country here. I'll post pictures when I'm done.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring has arrived!

Spring has arrived in Holland! The daffodils are out in full force on our patio and the flowering trees are doing their spring thing. It has been a beautiful week - SUN! Wonderful sun!!!

Brad was here visiting on spring break, it was great to see him.

I haven't done allot of quilting this week - but hopefully I will get back to getting my current projects going again. I did baste my Lone Star and appliqué quilt and started quilting it though. I added a pieced border to it containing the other fabric in the star and appliqué - and I think it will be ok. Ed is playing golf - so I am off to quilt!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My Baby Girls

Never in my wildest dreams would I have hoped or believed my girls would ever learn to play nicely together!!! They were born 17 months apart and I think until recently have never stopped fighting! I believe they still have bite marks that they had given each other on their arms from when they were little! I'm glad you both are becoming friends - especially with me and your dad being so far away. You make me proud! Love you!!!!

Dutch Fabric Quilt

I've been looking through my old quilting magazines and books to get an idea of what I want to do with my Dutch fabrics. I think I've decided to do something with this block . I'm thinking maybe 4 of these blocks set diagonally and then work out from there to make a medallion quilt.

I'm not quite sure what to do with the background though. I feel very comfortable with using white or off white for backgrounds - kind of like all the white walls in my house! I love to see color on walls and in quilts that people use, but when I use it - I feel it doesn't look right. It reminds me when we lived in Colorado and I decided to paint the bedroom a lovely shade of green, well the bedroom looked like it had toothpaste thrown all over the walls! Needless to say - we repainted it white!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Yesterday's Post

You know you are getting old start telling stories that use to embarrass you and you thought you would never tell!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Rome Was Wonderful!

Ed and I got back from Rome a week ago and my ankles are still aching from all the walking we did! It was definitely worth the pain! This was one of the best trips Ed and I have ever had! We flew to Rome on Air Berlin - a charter service out of Germany. I was pretty impressed, our tickets round trip were only 109 Euros! They were actually great flights - I guess if you can call flying great. I think I have flying short distances manageable - I sure still hate those big trips over and back from the States though. I know, get over it!

We got to Rome on Monday, checked into the hotel. We stayed at the Residenza Farnese Hotel, close to Piazza Farnese and Campo dè Fiori. The hotel was originally a palace in the year 1000! In the 19th Century, the palace was bought by the Church and became the seat of the Ecclesiastical Institute for the formation of young new priests. We got a great deal from our new best friend, Carola - our travel agent!

We headed out for a walk and to find a place for lunch. We found a great little restaurant and sat outside - (yeah sun!) The food was wonderful - in fact it was wonderful all week. I have even grown quite fond of expresso! After lunch we headed out walking and were just amazed. Ed had been to Rome for a day several years back, but this was my first trip to Italy, (except for lunch over the border from Austria several years ago - so I don't think that really counted.) I felt like I had been dropped among a movie set. It was difficult to comprehend that this was Rome!

While walking, Ed and I came upon a building with ruins around it. Ed got his map out and said, - hmm, this is the back of the Pantheon! We walked around the front and there it was - just like I had seen in dozens of history books. The mosaic tiles and the domed roof were amazing. I know I keep saying amazing, but if I had one word to sum up Rome, that would be it.

There were liturgical shops everywhere with beautiful robes, crosses, and altar pieces. And of course lots and lots of nuns and priests. I'm not fond of nuns, I've never had a good experience with one. Maybe, I've just met mean ones - I guess they're allowed to be cranky. When I was 13 I wanted to be a candy striper (volunteer at the local Catholic hospital) and I went with my best friend Debbie to interview with the nun in charge of the program. This delightful nun told me, you know Laura, you should lose weight, boys don't like fat girls! When I was in Rome, I wanted so badly to go up to a nun and say - ha! I found a boy that loves me just the way I am!!!!! I told Ed that story and he made me promise I wouldn't accost a nun while in Rome, he wasn't sure he could get me out of jail.

Here is another naughty nun story. Maybe it was me that was naughty! When Ed and I met, I lived in an apartment building that was owned by Catholic nuns. It was a residence for single working women. Well, one night Ed and I were caught necking in the recreation room and I was called in the following day to the head nun's office about our inappropriate behavior. I was told if there was another indiscretion, I would be out! Of course, I totally played innocent, shame on me for not being truthful to a nun! Any way, back to our trip-----------

Monday night we went on a tour of Rome at night. I love city tours at night. The fountains and buildings are so beautiful lit up. We saw the Trivoli fountain, so beautiful. I was severely pestered by a rose carrying conman. These guys hold bouquets of roses and give one to the ladies saying they are a gift and once you grab it - you are expected to pay for it. Well one guy would not leave me alone, he would not take no for an answer. Ed stepped in and yelled at him to leave me alone. The guy bumped Ed, and well, you just don't bump Ed. Ed bumped back a little more forcefully, they exchanged a few words and then the guy finally left. Eddie, my hero!
Tuesday we headed off to the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. I hadn't realized the Forum was so large and had soooooooooooooo many ruins. Yes, amazing. We had another great dinner out. Wednesday we took a bus down to Naples and Pompeii. The port at Naples is so pretty - so blue. Pompeii was much larger than I thought it would be. There were stray dogs sleeping everywhere. They looked like people were taking good care of them, but it still made me sad.
We went on a tour of a cameo factory. Yes, Ed bought me one for our anniversary. It's beautiful!
Thursday we went to the Vatican. Wow! We saw the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Cathedral.

St. Peters Cathedral is beautiful. I have seen some of the most beautiful churches ever built, but my favorite churches are still the small white country churches that you see in the rural United States. I saw the strangest thing at the Vatican. There was this middle aged man with short hair that had twisted the hair on top of his head to form two "devils horns." I thought he was pretty bold walking around the center of Catholicism, maybe a nun had been mean to him when he was a child also!

Friday we took a bus out into the countryside to the Appian Way. So beautiful. We stopped at the catacombs at St. Sebastions Basilica. I actually went down into them! I'm getting brave in my middle age! We had wonderful lunch at a restaurant that use to be the stopping place for travelers on the Appian Way to rest and water their horses. It looked like a dive on the outside, but on the inside it was so charming. Their wine cellar was in one section of the catacombs. We then went on to see the aqueducts and some more of the Appian Way. We ended our stay in Rome with another wonderful meal. The wine was wonderful, though wine and cobblestones streets don't mix well with me!

On trips Ed and I usually ask each other what our favorite thing we saw was. I honestly could not give an opinion this time, the whole trip was my favorite! Click here to see more Rome pictures!