My all-time top five favourite books

These books are my five favourite, in no particular order, as I simply can’t choose which I like the best.

Lost Nation – Jeffrey Lent

Description: A man known only as Blood guides an oxcart of rum towards Indian Stream. An ungoverned territory high in rural New Hampshire, north-east America, Indian Stream is the place where the luckless and the lawless make their way in order to make a fresh start — and Blood’s reason for heading there is no different. A man with a past he’d rather forget, he hopes to establish himself as a trader. But on their arrival, he and Sally — a beautiful sixteen-year-old won in a game of cards — soon find their presence there is the trigger for conflict within the community; conflict that finally forces Blood to confront his ghosts. Jeffrey Lent carries us deep into conditions of desolation and hardship, but at the same time maintains the relentless beat of hope. Written in lucid and seductive prose, LOST NATION resoundingly confirms Jeffrey Lent’s place in the front rank of modern novelists.

My opinion: This is a great book. The plot has so many twists I couldn’t believe it. I bought it in a clearance shop for little to nothing. I haven’t seen this book ever since, but it sure deserves better then be put on sale. If you can, please have a go and read it.

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Description: This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

My opinion: I’m so glad I’ve decided to buy this book. I’ve read Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry before and up to the third part I’ve enjoyed that book. The third part let it down for me. So I wasn’t too sure about this book, but ever since I started reading I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read every single minute. And I’ve thought about letting it rest when I found out the inevitable turn of events, but I simply couldn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t. This book has made me cry over and over again. And still I want to read it again. The switching between times is sometimes a little hard to follow, but otherwise it’s a lovely, lovely book.

 

The Unburied – Charles Palliser

Description: Dr Courtine, an unworldly academic is visiting an old friend in the Cathedral town of Thurchester in the late 1870s. On his first night he is told the story of the town ghost, a legend deeply mired in the medieval intrigues of the Cathedral when two prominent churchmen met their deaths in unexplained circumstances. The story of dark deeds in the ancient close captures Courtine’s donnish imagination, and he is also embarking on some amateur sleuthing of his own – attempting to track down an elusive 11th century manuscript to prove his theories about the life of King Alfred. Suitably distracted, Courtine becomes the unwitting witness to a terrible crime committed on his own doorstep…

My opinion: After reading it at least ten times, I’m still no closer to solving the riddle that is this book. The description says it’s situated in the late 1800’s, but it could so easily be somewhere between 1700 and 2020. There’s no clue to what era this book is situated in. It gives me a uneasy feeling every time I read it and yet, I love it. This, again, is a book I picked up in a clearance shop, years and years ago. I’ve been asked to lend it out a couple of times, but I’m so afraid to loose that it stays on my shelves, until I pick it up and read it again.

 

The Lost Book of Salem – Katherine Howe

Description: While clearing out her grandmother’s cottage for sale, Connie Goodwin finds a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane. And so begins the hunt to uncover the woman behind the name, a hunt that takes her back to Salem in 1692… and the infamous witchcraft trials. But nothing is entirely as it seems and when Connie unearths the existence of Deliverance’s spell book, the Physick Book, the situation takes on a menacing edge as interested parties reveal their desperation to find this precious artefact at any cost. What secrets does the Physick Book contain? What magic is scrawled across its parchment pages? Connie must race to answer these questions – and reveal the truth about Salem’s women – before an ancient family curse once more fulfils its dark and devastating prophecy…

My opinion: I love witchcraft and this book is a great witchy story. From the beginning you are bombarded with curses, random stuff happening and more that simply hasn’t got a simple explanation. The names of the women are great and they’re apropriate for the times that their lives are set in. Again, I had a really hard time to stop reading. If you are into witchcraft, read it. I think you’ll love it. And if you’re not into witchcraft? Still read it!

 

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

Description: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.
Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’–the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps. Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled.

My opinion: This book was given to me by a friend as a BookCrossing book. I’ve since given it to the next reader and I can’t help but think that was a mistake. I so want to read it again. The wonderful writing really sucks you in, makes you feel like you are part of the book. Part of the lives of little Sarah that’s so desperately wants to go back to her little brother. I was so mad when I found out the truth. I remember thrwoing the book through the room whilest tears streamed down my face. I’ve had lots of nightmares about this book. I really wanted to help Sarah.

 

Vegetarians Nightmare Pizza

I thought I’d share my recipe for my infamous pizza. It’s really easy and fun to make and it’s the most delicious pizza. It’s better then those horrible store-bought frozen pizzas. This will be enough for two to three people.

First the dough:

  • 200 gr of flower (not self rising flower)
  • 125 ml of water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 gr bakingpowder
  • 5 gr herbamare seasoning

Put the flower into a mixing bowl or foodprocessor. Add the olive oil, the bakingpowder, the seasoning and half of the water. Mix it gently and add water just bits at a time. When the dough forms a nice ball that’s not too sticky it’s done. Don’t worry if you didn’t add all the water. If the dough is a bit sticky, add a bit more flower.

When the weather’s nice outside I place the dough in a glass bowl, with cling film over the top, on the grass in the sun for around 45 minutes. When it’s cold or shady I’ll preheat the oven at 90° Celsius. Place the glass bowl in the oven (aluminium foil on top, as I have no idea if cling film can go in the oven) and heat it for 3 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Now it’s ready for the next stage.

Take the tray you want to use for your pizza. I use a huge round earthenware tray for this (∅ 40 cm). Rub it with olive oil (or butter). Roll the risen dough really flat and place it in the tray. Push the dough into the corners so it rises up a bit around the rim. It now needs to rise again. And again, there are two ways. Either place it outside in a see-through bin liner for 45 minutes or preheat the oven again on 90° Celsius and put it in (with aluminium foil) for 3 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

Your dough is now ready.

 

In the time your dough is rising you can get all the other ingredients ready. You need:

  • 700 gr chickenbreast in cubes
  • 10 gr of piripiri seasoning
  • Pizza sauce
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 6 slices of ham
  • 6 slices of salami
  • grated cheese
  • pineapple pieces
  • Little bit of olive oil

First make a paste of the olive oil and the pirpiri seasoning. Put in the chickenbreast cubes and leave it for at least 2 hours. If your chicken is still frozen, make sure you’ll leave it to marinade even longer. (tip: I slice the chicken into cubes when it’s still half frozen. This way it’s much easier to slice. But you need a VERY sharp knife to do this!) Fry them til there just about done.

Put the pizza sauce onto the waiting dough. Put as much on it as you like. Then slice the bacon, ham and salami in half and place them on the pizza. Put the fried chicken over the top and make sure to distribute it evenly around the whole pizza. Put the grated cheese over the top and place the pineapple  on the grated cheese. Again, put as much on it as you like.

Put the whole thing into a pre0heated oven on 175° Celsius for 30 minutes. Enjoy your Vegetarians Nightmare!

 

Note: I’m not responsible for any over-eating, nor am I responsible for never wanting another pizza again! 😉

Love

Normally I never ever say anything about my work and the people who I care for. But when this happened, I couldn’t help but want to share it.

Yesterday I was with this couple. He can hardly stand, never mind walk. She suffers from Dementia. She is his arms and legs. He tells her what to do and she does it. Many times she hasn’t got a clue what butter, milk, tea, an electric razor or anything he asks for is, but eventually they’ll get there.

Well, yesterday was his birthday. She, of course, had no idea. With the first round, at 7.30 AM, I checked on them both and congratulated him. I came back to help them get washed and dressed around 9. When both were dressed, i got him into his wheelchair and rolled him into the livingroom. I went back to the bathroom to clean up the mess. As I walked past her in the kitchen I whispered in her ear “It’s your husband’s birthday, you should congratulate him.” The last bit is necessary, as otherwise she wouldn’t have a clue what to do with the info I just gave her. She smiled, went over to him and grabbed his hand. I disapeared into the bathroom, and watched what happened. I saw the most beautiful thing happening.

“Congratulations on your birthday, sweetheart.” She said. He looked up, surprise and happiness sweeped across his face. “Thanks.” He replied. She gave him a big kiss and they hugged several minutes while I disappeared, with tears in my eyes, and cleaned up the bathroom. When I came out, she was in the kitchen and I don’t think she remembered what had happened.

He called me and asked “Did you tell her it’s my birthday?” When I said yes, he grabbed my hand and said “Thank you, that was the best birthday gift I’ve ever had.”

 

Our garden project

Last year, in september we got the keys to our new house. When we came to view it, three times in fact, we knew the garden was overgrown and it hadn’t had much attention over the years. But little did we know what we’d find once we began to clear it…

This is how the garden was when we first came to view the house:

Note the two conifers and the hydrangea on the right. On the left the bushes in the garden of our neighbours are also really overgrown. This picture is from the estate agents.

In February of this year we began to clear to right side of the garden:

 

The hydrangea was a little bit harder to get out, but we managed to do it relatively quickly. It was then that we found 6 tree stumps in the garden. 5 at the far end and one near the fence on the left. At first we thought it would be relatively easy to get them out. Jay worked tirelessly for 3 weeks before he got the first one out:

We then realised it would take ages to get all of them out. But Jay worked on and uncovered the second stump:

A few weeks ago I asked my dad to come over and mow the lawn, as the grass was really, really high and I felt uncomfortable when I saw the neighbours looking at our garden. It was a big mess. My dad came and promised to bring a chainsaw and other tools to help and get the tree stumps out as well. This was how our garden looked before my dad came to help:

The first saturday the mower had decided it needed a vacation and quickly after that the chainsaw decided to follow the mower’s example. So my dad went home and got back the next week:

Jay and my dad even got the railway sleepers out that were hiding under the huge amount of grass:

Notice the strawberry plants on the right and the flowers and berry bushes on the left. I got those from my stepmom.

They took the railway sleepers and the stump that Jay managed to get out to the recycling station and that was about it for that day. The next week, this was last weekend, i had to work. My dad came here early and Jay and he set to work on the remaining 4 stumps (somewhere in the beginning of the year we did get another one out, but it was tiny):

I came home to this, at about 1 pm. After lunch they got out the final stump:

Finally! All stumps removed. The only thing that was left to do was to get all the stuff to the recycling station. Jay and my dad did this yesterday, in the pouring rain. So, now we are left with a huge hole in the back of the garden. The one on the left side (which you can see just above here) is already filled in. There’s only a bit of grass to remove before we can sow new grass. Then Jay’s going to get the tiles that are in 2 neat rown in the middle of the garden and place them as a border at the back. I’ll put the plants I got from my stepmom at the back, so that will be my vegetable patch.

And when we’re ready for it I want to tile the whole grassy area, so we’ll have a great seating area. With lots of pots and hanging baskets and other stuff I’ve seen. I’ll post an update when I’m going to do the vegetable plot.

Oh, and here’s a picture of all those plants I got from my stepmom:

 

Butcher’s Goulash

Yesterday I cooked up my infamous goulash and I posted a pic on Twitter. Today I figured I’d post the recipe for those that are interested in how to make this dish. Note that this isn’t the original recipe, but one I learned when I worked in a butchery, hence the name. This recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 800 grams of pork meat; use what you like, but I love to use pork shoulder for this, as that’s very tender when cooked for quite some time.
  • 3 bell peppers; I tend to use one red, one yellow and one green to get a bit of colour in.
  • 2 big onions.
  • 2 tomatoes
  • chili seasoning mix; in the Netherlands it’s called “stroganoff seasoning” but it’s hard to come by.
  • Butter

Directions:

  • Cut the meat in cubes; about half an inch each.
  • Mix the meat with the seasoning and let it rest for at least 4 hours; the longer the better. I usually season the meat the day before.
  • Put a large deep pan on the stove; I like to use a casserole pan or dutch oven for this, but a deep frying pan with a lid will do just fine.
  • Put the butter in the pan and let it melt til it’s just turning golden.
  • Put the meat into the pan and stir it regularly til it’s brown on all sides.
  • Chop the onion and the bell peppers and place them in a bowl to one side. Do the same with the tomatoes.
  • Put the lid on the pan and stir every 5 minutes or so for the next hour.
  • Then, put in the onion and bell peppers; depending on how you like them you can do this earlier or later. Stir it every once in a while for the next 1 to 2 hours.
  • Half an hour before finishing the dish, put in the tomatoes.
  • Again, keep stirring every few minutes.

If you’re lucky, you won’t have to put in extra stock or anything. If it looks too dry and it’s sticking to the pan, put in a bit of stock. If it’s too watery, you can thicken it with some flour or cornstarch. Note that cornstarch can change the flavour a bit.

Serve with cooked potatoes or, as I do, with rice and have a great meal!

Please tell me if you liked this recipe, or if you need any help. I’d be happy to give you some advice, but note that I’m not the best cook in the world…

Ubersocial :(

This is an email i sent to Ubersocial this morning, due to some massive problems i’m having since the latest updates. I don’t think they’ll fix it any time soo, since i’m not having a lot of faith in them anymore. I always thought the people behind it were businessmen, but i’m beginning to think they are 2 14-year olds in their moms basement…

 

Dear sir, madam,

I’m having huge problems with Ubersoc. Over the last 48 hours it has been updating 3 times, each update was more broken then the last. Since yesterday i van’t even tweet or read tweets due to massive problems.

First of; it resets my settings every time i open the app or after x amount of minutes. Usually about 10 minutes.
Second; i can’t read the last tweet in my timeline because of a pop=up box type of thing in the upper left corner of my screen.
Third; It asks me if i want to follow @Twidroyd every time i open the app or try to change the settings.
fourth; It wants me to take a tour every time i open it or try to change the settings.
Fifth; Im unable to change the theme to any other theme. It does nothing anymore. I need a dark theme due to an eyedisease. The standard colours are way too bright for my eyes.
Sixth; Due to resetting my settings every time it drains my battery like there’s no tomorrow, since it resets itself to update every 5 minutes…

I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling, but that doesn’t help. I’ve now resorted to delete the settings and turning the app off, so it won’t do anything. This however, made me unable to even use Twitter. And why did i get this app? Yes, to use Twitter on a regular basis!
I’ve tweeted about this last night, without expecting any help, i must say. Since you haven’t replied to anyone who’s having trouble. The only thing you tweeted are things that won’t be of any help to any of us.
But, to answer your question: “Would you click on a ‘Hate’ button on Facebook? http://cot.ag/HwYvmp Check it out!” I would rather have a hate button for this app, so everyone can let you know how they feel!

Furthermore, why is there no chang-log available for the updates. Isn’t it right to let people know what you (tried to) fix? I’m currently feeling like i’ve paid to be a alpha-tester, because if this was a new app, it would be in it’s alpha stage. The only thing that is keeping me from turning my back at this app all together is the fact that i’ve paid for it.

And now that i hopefully still have your attention i would like to propose some future changes:
one; a chang-log, so we can see what we’re getting into.
two; less bright colours, it’s hard to even adjust the settings with these colours.
three; the app remembering my settings after an update. Right now it forgets everything after every update, and with 3 in 48 hours i’m getting sick of it.
four; please change the orange coloour in the dark theme to a less bright colour (green was good). The orange is hurting too.

So please, get rid of the last 3 updates. I think we all can live with the jumping timeline issue. Just not with the app resetting every x minutes…

regards,
@angelfrouk

What time would you visit if you had a time machine?

I’ve been thinking about this since i saw a picture of a so-called time traveler. So where would I go?

First of all, i’d go visit my grandfather and me on one of the walks we took when i was little. I’d tell myself to pay attention to what he’ s telling me, because he won’ t be around for ever and i’d forget most of the stories he told me.

Secondly, i’d go visit Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, to see the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Why? Because i’m very interested in everything to do with WWI and i want to see and feel why this all happened. Why was he assassinated along with his wife? Did the driver really took a wrong turn or was it intentional? And why did this incident cause chaos all over Europe?

The third thing i want to see is the Titanic departing from Southampton. I think you can understand why.

The fourth thing is to go back to around 1800 and visit Harlingen. One of my ancestors lived there and i’d love to go see him and talk to him. We can’t find out more about him, because he’s born in Germany and the only way to get more information is to go there and visit the archives there. If i just could go back in time and ask him some questions, it might be easier to find out more.

The fifth thing i can think of is going to Pompeii on the 23d of August 79 AD. I chose for the day before the destruction because, lets face it, nobody really wants to be there on the day of the destruction and run the risk of being burned alive. But i’d love to walk its streets and undergo the roman lifestyle. So many things have been uncovered about the romans, but i think there’s a lot more that we don’t know or simply have no idea of. Why did they do certain things? Is it true that we find so many temples if we dig the roman ruins? Or are we simply giving these buildings too much credit? Could they just be hotels or houses?

 

So, these would be my choices. Where would you like to go? Would you try and change history? And if you would try it, why?

 

Skating tour

My dad in law and I did a skating tour of 20 km yesterday. Here are some pictures I took whilst skating, well most of them anyway.

Women and fixing cars

As you may know, both Jay and I are driving a Ford Ka. We are both mad about these cars and love them to bits.

Now, about two weeks ago, when my Ka was at the garage for a minor issue to the rear suspension bushes, i wanted to drive Jay’ s Ka to work. Jay went outside to clear the car of ice when he noticed the dashboard lights weren’t working. That, in itself is a bit of a problem, but i figured i could still get to work safely. When i left i was checking all kinds of things, but not my rearview mirror. Only when i came to a bend in the road i watched the mirror. I then saw someone running behind the car really fast, waving his hands. So i stopped, but only after i figured out it was Jay. He informed me that my tail lights also weren’t working. Now, you can’t go on the road without good lighting, so i drove home and called work that i was going to be a bit later. We tried to fix it, but we couldn’t find out what was wrong in such a short time.

I went to work by bus (i hate buses) and Jay went to work as usual. He googled the problem and found out it probably was the combination switch. This problem happens very often in Kas. It turned out this combination switch was fairly easy to replace yourself (one screw and two pins), so i went to the junkyard to get the part, after i phoned them to ask if they had it.

So i stepped into the building when a young guy (about my age) asked me what he could do for me. The following conversation happened.

He: Hi there, what can i do for you?

Me: I need a combination switch for a Ford Ka from 2000.

He: You phoned earlier about it, didn’t you?

Me: Yeah, did i speak to you?

He: No, that was a colleague of mine. I’ ll get you the part, just a moment.

Me: *waiting for a good 5 minutes*

He: Here’s the part. Now, who is going to put it in your car?

Me: Why do you think i need someone to put it in?

He: You mean you’re going to do it yourself?

Me: Yup.

He: I’ll get you your receipt

He went to the office where two more men were sitting (felt like they were checking me out). He spoke to them and they came with him to the counter.

Guy2: So you are going to fix your car yourself? *smirks*

Me: Yup. Not that hard.

Guy3: No? Are you sure?

Me: one screw and two pins to remove. Then place the new part in. Doesn’t sound hard to me. But maybe it’s hard to you…

Guy3: *blushes*

Guy2: So you are sure this is your problem?

I explained the problem and told him this was a fairly common problem. He agreed with me and asked if i fixed more problems myself.

Me: Yup, fixed a weird problem that even the Ford garage couldn’t find. Cost me a lot of money and i had to fix it myself.

They were a bit impressed. I don’t think there are many women coming to the junkyard, knowing what they need AND know how to fix it…