Funny reminders

Sometimes I forget, but I live in quite an awesome city. Amsterdam. And whenever I forget, the city itself hands me a kind reminder, telling me “Hey you, look! It’s pretty lovely around here”. 

Like today. I’d done my errands and picked up a massive parcel which made it impossible to cycle. So I walked the last 10 minutes, looking like a pack-donkey. Almost home, I passed the local florist. Of course, from the corner of my eye I spotted flowers that were perfect for my collages, so I made a stop to have a look. They were perfect, so I wanted a bunch. Two things you can do: 

a. Walk home, dump stuff, return later.

b. Buy the flowers immediately, embracing your inner pack-donkey. 

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go with option b. The florist came to help me and the moment of payment arrived. Card at hand. He… only accepted cash. Solutions are there for those who need them, the ATM was two doors down. 

I started to clumsily fiddle with my bike and the several bags hanging from it. But “no, no, no, leave your bike and bags! Come on, in you go with that bike!” the florist said. Yes. He was bloody serious. I found myself riding my bike into the flower shop. Bags and parcels included. The florist would make sure it wouldn’t get stolen. 

He kept his word, I paid for my flowers, carefully rode the bike outside again, walked home and thought to myself “only in Amsterdam…what a wonderful city”. 

Flowers look so good on my bike.

A Heart A Day #10

It’s Gay Pride in Amsterdam, so for today’s heart from me to you I thought I’d stick to the colours of the rainbow. This heart turned into my morning meditation, then got me into a drawing-flow.

Gay Pride and compassion are an interesting duo, I think. We celebrate that everyone has the right to be who he or she wants to be, no matter what sexuality. Pretty compassionate. Yet so many people have something to say about some other’s sexuality. Judgement seems to be around the corner. Especially on days like these.
But what if all people judging others would start with themselves? If they would start to feel, listen to themselves. Would they maybe be surprised to hear a total new story, to see a whole new picture, that isn’t influenced by parents, friends, neighbours, isn’t influenced by someone else’s story and opinion? Would that make them more compassionate? In my ideal world, yes, it would.


[I love love and I love hearts! But oh, there’s too little of it, this world needs more love. So let’s change that, step by step. Away with pessimism. Away with hate. Let’s fill this world with love. And hearts. To show compassion towards each other, towards the planet, towards ourselves. It proves to be difficult for so many of us. But instead of judging it’s more meaningful to show love, to respond with love, to act out of love. Say it with hearts.

I’m sharing A Heart A Day. Homemade. Every day I will create a heart and post it on this blog. Will you help me make love and hearts spread like a contagious but healthy disease?]

About a Discodipped and starry night

Last week I celebrated my birthday. I turned 31 but celebrated like I hadn’t even reached 13 yet. Growing up is something I’ll save for later.
I celebrated my birthday with a group of lovely people that I feel blessed to have in my life and call my friends. The theme was DiscoDip, after my favourite ice cream decoration.

Ice cream1

This accidental Discodip picture I took a couple of years ago. Copyrights by me, 2014.

I bet all my friends stressed out at the thought of a theme. That was the only true reason I decided to go with a theme – to make them feel a little awkward. And also the fact that Discodip is just too good and colourful to be true. It really makes me happy!

We met up at the TonTonClub in Amsterdam’s Red Light district. No red ears or under-age warnings needed; TonTon Club is kind of a modern game arcade where you can play Jenga or get lost in a car race (never ending if you keep on feeding the machine coins) and dive in a ball pit. You can also watch the prostitutes from a safe distance if visiting them is too much for you, guys.

Like any 13 or 31 year old probably wouldn’t… I made party bags for my friends. The kind my mother used to make for my birthday parties when I really was young. With a candy heart, confetti, a weird-shaped eraser and a lucky star. Because I love my friends, I love to give and I love to show my gratitude. The lucky stars I made myself and I added a little message to them before I folded them. Unless they’ve all unfolded their stars, they still don’t know what’s written on it.

So here it is, my message to you ‘unfolded’:

“Be the DiscoDip to someone’s icecream”. That’s the loveliest thing you can be: colourful, happy and full of love. And to share that is spreading it, like a colourful love-virus. So I won’t stop you from spreading. Enjoy!

If you want to fold Lucky Stars – it’s pretty easy! I just don’t like to write out the instructions so here’s a link to someone else who already did write the instructions down for you.

The colour-hunter

Today I received a card from a friend, and some words she’d wrote down for me coincided with a little day-challenge I gave myself. She wrote “…no matter how dark the days can be sometimes, you always manage to see light and make your life so colourful!” Her timing was perfect and her words touched me with all their might: after a couple of dark days – or more, weeks – this morning I’d given myself the challenge to go colour-hunting. As I felt I needed to see more light and colour again.

I sometimes give myself a single colour at the beginning of the day, with the simple challenge to notice that colour during that day. Where ever I go. It’s amazing how the whole day seems to burst with that given colour. You should try it! Today was multi-colour day and the colour-hunt brought me lots of colour, which was marvellous on a very grey-gloomy day.


These are some of the treasures I discovered today. Blue stood out somehow. Maybe as a tribute to my “little blue lately” ;-)

Which colour will you be hunting tomorrow?

Being biased

There is a new shop in my hood. It opened its doors to the public yesterday. And I think it’s amazing. But I’m biased. I rent a shelf there. And on that shelf lie my cards!

That new shop is called TOON. It existed before, on a different location. But has now moved to de Baarsjes in Amsterdam. TOON is a shop where you can show your products and art, by renting a shelf, couple of square metres or a nail on a wall. It also has a little stage where performers can do their thing. Some people rent square metres and create there little studio there.

The shop is enormous. It has corners and lovely shrines filled with a diversity of beautiful things. You could get lost. You can have a cup of coffee too. Sitting on any chair in the shop you like. The only risk there, is that the chair is being sold while you sit in it.

If you’re in Amsterdam only for a short trip, skip the main shopping area and head over to de Baarsjes in Amsterdam West immediately. Stop by at TOON. Come say hi to my cards in their own little corner and leave your drawing marks on the sample-cards like this little guest has so beautifully done.

Someone understood what the pencils are for and multi-coloured this heart!

Someone understood what the pencils are for and multi-coloured this heart!

Marvel at all the beauty the shop has on offer. It’s absolutely worth visiting. I know, it’s not convincing hearing that from someone as biased as me.
If you would like to see my little corner at TOON but are not anywhere near Amsterdam, pay a visit to my corner on their website (which is in Dutch, so good for your language skills).



TOON is located on the Jan Evertsenstraat 4 – 8 and can very easily be reached by tram and bus.


I sketched how to get there


[ Note that my cards will be at TOON for the next 3 months! ]

Prakken in West – een artikel voor buurtkrant De Jan Eef

[ Time to practise your Dutch! Below a scan of an article I wrote for the local newspaper…]

Voor de lokale buurtkrant De Jan Eef schreef ik onlangs een artikel over de nieuwste sociale onderneming van Amsterdam West: Prakken in West.


page 1 page 2

Dit artikel werd gepubliceerd in de tweede editie van De Jan Eef – De buurt van binnenuit, een initiatief van Winkelstraat Vereniging Ik geef om de Jan Eef. Uitgave: December 2014.

Happy Today to you!

Happy Brownie and Pretend to be a Time traveller Day to you all!

Jaja you forgot, but I didn’t. Today is December the 8th. The day we get to eat brownies and time travel to where ever it is we want to go (it’s raining here in Amsterdam so I’ll be travelling to the supermarket in my time capsule later on. I don’t have a car.)
Or maybe it’s December the 19th by the time you read this. In that case: have a ball this Underdog Day and Look For An Evergreen Day! And if it’s raining on the 19th too, no one will mind you time-travelling to the grocery shop.

These days every day is a “special day” (that’s just too many days in one sentence). Special days as moments to remember and be aware. Or simply celebrate funny facts and make every day a party. Whether you like it or not – I LOVE it – every day celebrates at least one thing. From Eat Red Apples Day (which you sadly missed as it was the 1st of December) to Disobedience Day (July 3rd) and Creative Ice Cream Flavours Day (July 1st). And, unbelievable but true, last Friday was International Ninja Day. Damn, you missed that one too!
The most creative days I’ve come across on my all-time favourite website Days of the Year. On this site you can check what day it is today, what day it is next Thursday – apart from being a Thursday – and even what month or year it will be. Believe me when I say: check this site if you are having a so called off day. I promise you you’ll find a reason to celebrate something, a reason to buy yourself cookies or caramel popcorn (April the 6th is going to be your day if you like caramel popcorn) or another good reason to take a day off. It always manages to make me happy anyway.

If you feel a resistance against the upcoming month of January – always a dreadful one – then comfort yourself with the thought January is going to be The Month of:
1) Oatmeal;
2) Brainteasers;
3) Creativity;
4) Hot Tea;
5) Soup;
6) Getting Organised (I’ve granted myself furlough from this one)
7) Being Kind To Food Servers;
and last but absolutely not least comes
8) The Celebration of Life Month.

Amen to that.

Me, I look forward to April 19th 2015. The day it will be Garlic Day (Luciana, you were born for this day!), Hanging Out Day and Bicycle Day all in one. My advice: cycle somewhere that day with your friends so you can hang out with them and feast on garlic sarnies with garlic butter and some extra garlic on the side. After you’ve done that, make sure you don’t come near other human beings for at least a week.
The whole month of April is going to be grand as far as I can tell, as it will be Decorating Month. And on April the 11th I’m having cheese fondue for breakfast, lunch and dinner to celebrate the invention of cheese fondue. I literally cannot wait!

The only day I haven’t found yet is Drink Tea With Milk Day. And that’s a loss for all of us, I find.
Which is why
*imagine drum roll*
I hereby declare April the 20th
*imagine more drums roll*
not only to be my birthday and Chinese Language Day, but foremost
*the drumming is now getting somewhat out of hand*
Drink Tea With Milk Day!

If that’s not gonna make your day then I don’t know what is… I guess I’ll just leave you be then.

Time for me to go and post the card I wrote for AirmailChristmas yesterday (it was, after all, Letter Writing Day and a card is almost a letter).


On my way back I’ll be resisting the brownies – which I’m pretty sure will be handed out for free in the streets of Amsterdam today – because for very unfortunate reasons I chose today to be the start of Skipping All Sugar until Christmas Fortnight… Exactly, that’s 14 days.

Have a good day!!

A figment on tenderness

Even though one of my main blog subjects is ‘happiness’ I’m going to apologise beforehand as this post is going to be a bit of a vent. Towards some people. Of the GVB – the main public transport provider in the city of Amsterdam.
Avoiding this public transport is my aim. I’ll only take a tram or bus when it snows or rains too heavily to cycle. Or when I’m physically too exhausted to walk much or cycle at all.

Today, however, was a non-avoidance day. A hairdressers appointment most of the time is too exhausting to do the cycling to and fro. The whole washing-combing-uncomfy-chairs-and-lots-of-pulling-my-head drains me. Enough about that though. On my way back home something happened on the tram.

A little girl with the big pink bag got on the tram. Wide eyed she placed some money on the conductor’s counter.

I was too far away to overhear the conversation, but from the way the conductor started talking more loudly in Dutch with some English words flung around I made up that the girl wasn’t Dutch. Next thing I know, the girl was send off the tram at the following stop. Second next thing I know, I was too late to jump off the tram too to help her but not too late to see how she walked away upset. Crying, to be precise. The conductor, not at all sensitive for helpless young kids but sensitive enough to notice the critical looks from passengers, then explained to all who wanted to hear it how the girl was 11 (only 11!) and needed a parent with a special pass to be able to pay for a special discount fare for 4-11 years-old. The girl got the discount amount in cash. But no parent or chip card to actually get the discount. And so she had to pay the full fare for a one hour ticket, which is €2,80. Instead of the 34% discount that is given to 4-11 years, which would make the fare €1,85 (if I’m not mistaken…but even with the help of a calculator maths isn’t my strongest subject). GVB almost would have had a gap in today’s budget of €0,95. The girl probably had a €2,- coin with her, so the GVB’s loss could’ve been reduced to only €0,80…but let’s leave that bit of information aside. The girl didn’t speak Dutch. The girl was only 11. The girl even had some money with her.

Come on! COME THE FUCK ON! I don’t want to go all black and Goth or black and white about it, but this is what’s wrong with us humans. Exactly this!

At the next stop I jumped off. Walked back. Passed the stop where the girl got off. I looked for her. I wanted to help her. Take her by the hand, pay for the journey and bring her to B. No pink bag with little girl attached I found. So I walked the last 15 minutes home, not willing to contribute anymore to the GVB. At least not today.

Dear people, call me naïve… but for the love of Tea, is it really always necessary to be so strict?! Is it really impossible to sometimes turn a blind eye? Be kind to one another? Helpful? Are these little kids or homeless people that can’t pay (the full amount) for a ticket really such a threat for the GVB’s annual financial report? I mean, how often does this happen…I refuse to believe that situations like these, can bring a company down. Try a little tenderness, people. Please! I assure you it won’t kill you. Nor will you go bankrupt instantly.

Dear little girl with the big pink bag and tears rolling down your cheeks, I really hope you’ve made it from A to B in the end. And that while on your way to B, you met some warm and helpful people after all. We’re not all like that unwilling and witch-like conductor.


Cycling home after a lovely afternoon spent with a friend on a terrace, I spotted an amazing sky!
However, sitting on my bike and holding a bottle of wine in one hand – no, I’m not an alcoholic drinking whilst cycling, I had just bought a bottle – I wasn’t really able to take a snap shot.
And okay, yes, I could have stopped.
But enjoying that sky, sun setting, the wind playing with my hair…
Not a fan of hassle, I simply couldn’t be bothered stopping.
I was enjoying the moment and still full of a lovely Saturday.
The moment, the feeling of contentment, mattered more than having it on film.

At home, browsing through my pictures, I remembered this one.

Sun setting Same street, Jan Evertsenstraat in Amsterdam, couple of months ago.
Another enchanting sky.
A bit more cloudy than tonight’s sky.
But, you’ll get the picture.
And I’m happy with my decision of just enjoying the moment.