Monthly Archives: August 2011

if I were in Berlin…

If I were in Berlin, I would visit Gestalten Space to see Sarah Illenberger‘s solo exhibition in celebration of her first monograph. Gestalten writes:

Sarah Illenberger’s richly-detailed work opens up new perspectives on seemingly familiar, iconographically-charged forms and content. She expertly avoids imbuing her materials and subjects with artificial significance or forcing a meaning upon them. Instead, Illenberger’s penetrating creative eye reveals their true essence—one that has usually remained hidden just under the surface from our fleeting and routine everyday glances.

For another view of one of my favorite artists, check out the Freunde von Freunden interview and peek inside Sarah’s home.

spoon fork bacon

The new food blog Spoon Fork Bacon is a delicious feast in itself. The photography is top notch, the styling inspired, and each post sprinkled with complementary design elements.

First on my list to try out are the grilled zucchini tacos, the spinach and ricotta stuffed shells, and the simple blackberry jam. Served up with a kiwi capiroska or sweet cherry gin and tonic.

Images courtesy of Spoon Fork Bacon. Photography by Teri Lyn Fisher and styling by Jenny Park.

Weekend Links #36

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed over the last week:
1. Watching this cute video about bicycling
2. Jotting down the ingredients needed to make a Lillet Buttermilk Shake (pictured above)
3. Booking tickets to see David Sedaris at Carré on 25 September
4. Browsing photographer Brennan Linsley’s images of Icy Greenland
5. Reading a good reminder of why we should approach official accounts of secret operations with caution
6. Finding a map of Amsterdam West on the site They Draw & Travel, a collection of maps drawn from artists around the world (pictured below)

a soft breath of anonymity

To San Franciscans ‘the City That Knows How’ was the Bay, the fog, Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Top o’ the Mark, Chinatown, the Sunset District and so on and so forth and so white. To me, a thirteen-year-old Black girl, stalled by the South and Southern Black life style, the city was a state of beauty and a state of freedom. The fog wasn’t simply the steamy vapors off the bay caught and penned in by hills, but a soft breath of anonymity that shrouded and cushioned the bashful traveler.

Currently reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, as part of my summer of exploring modern American literature with my little sister.

Amsterdam love

The other day a colleague remarked that she was surprised I could be so positive about the dreary weather of late. Things tend to look good when you have a sunny holiday on the horizon. (photo above by Gijlmar, photo below by B)

a great country

I am a huge fan of Fresh Air, not only because I am a strong believer in the power of a good interview, but also because host Terry Gross and guest host Dave Davies attract some of the most compelling minds around. The diverse topics they cover with guests make me do what all great content should do: share it with others.

On 1 July, Terry interviewed journalist Fareed Zakaria, asking what a post-American world looked like, the subject of his recent book which discusses the diminishing power of the US and ‘the rise of the rest’ as the distribution of power shifts. A fascinating conversation throughout, two parts struck me:

The idea of losing power does not bode well with many Americans. Yet, Fareed reminds us that “the United States has been a beacon of hope and liberty, has been an incredibly vibrant and prosperous society for many, many decades before 1945. We were not always the absolute, supreme power in the world and we were still an unusual, distinctive, wonderful country…the nature of America, the DNA of our society, is not bound up with being a world empire.”

At another point in the interview, Terry asks Fareed how American taxes compare with other countries. He responds, “There are two ways that you can think about American tax rates, you know I hear a lot of people say we’re overtaxed. Now this can’t be a statement in the abstract. To be overtaxed means one of two things: we are overtaxed compared with American history or we are overtaxed compared with other countries. We have the second lowest major tax burden of the major advanced industrial economies. I think Japan has lower, we are the second. Every other advanced economy – Germany, France, Britain, all the northern European countries – all have higher taxes than we do. Federal taxes, as a percentage of our GDP in America, are at their lowest point since 1950. In other words, compared with our own history, we have extraordinarily low tax rates.”

These two points were great reminders that power does not necessarily produce a strong country. My idea of a great country has more to do with innovation, quality of education, health care, infrastructure, quality of life, and fostering creativity. And these things often are the result of a strong tax system. I know life in America and life in the Netherlands, one with low taxes and one with a high tax system. I have seen firsthand how taxes can hinder or help to facilitate the possibility of creating a great society. It doesn’t take much for me to admit that I prefer the quality of life in my country of residence. But, despite all, I have hope that my country of birth will become as an unusual, distinctive, and wonderful country once again.

Typographic map by alliemounce.

Note: For a while, I went back and forth about publishing this post. I don’t see small sight as a political platform, nor do I want it to become one. But the truth is, I care about politics and sometimes I feel compelled to speak out.

Mobile Welt des Ostens

On our recent holiday to Germany, we found ourselves in a small town with a unique attraction. Mobile Welt des Ostens in Calau is a showcase of old East German treasures. Vintage cameras, books, clothing, and other articles are spread amongst classic cars, motorbikes, and communist paraphernalia.

As we walked around the exhibition, Marcus’ father told stories of the old days in the East, pointing out the model of his first car and explaining the strange way of life under communism and the eye of the Stasi. He was impressed to find such a collection in the middle of nowhere, dedicated solely to the remembrance of DDR times. Nostalgia for East Germany, referred to as Ostalgie, has resulted in the preservation of memory objects and a continued admiration for the aesthetics of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Some extend this admiration to the politics. However, I think the fascination for the East is best manifested in exhibitions, films, and even hotels dedicated to remembering life in the DDR.

an urban farm in Amsterdam West

Amsterdam isn’t a very large city, but there are strong neighborhood identities. Over the years, I have come to know the ins and outs of several neighborhoods in Amsterdam, from Weesperbuurt en Plantage and Oostparkbuurt to Oud West and Oud Zuid. Having lived in the West for over two years, I am convinced that it is my favorite place in the city. This belief was further strengthened a few weeks ago when I rode past a new development on my way to work. The Stadsboeren is an urban garden located on the site of a demolished building with an array of graffiti as a backdrop. It’s the perfect complement to the small animal farm located just around the corner and I’m excited to see how they develop it over the next months.

Photo via the Stadsboeren.

photography: Jonathan Levitt

The photography of Jonathan Levitt makes me want to jump into the storyline. Quiet scenes from an idyllic land craft tales of vast fields, plentiful food, and old friends. See more on his blog Grassdoe.

Photos used with permission from the photographer.

return of de krat

After two weeks without de Krat (due to holidays), it was such a thrill to hear the doorbell ring on Saturday morning. This week’s box of local, organic food contained a bottle of apple juice, a head of lettuce, two ears of corn, a loaf of whole grain bread, fennel, round zucchini, smoked mackerel, plum, apples, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, and a pot of fresh basil. The week ahead will be filled with salads, zucchini bread, plum and fennel compote, and much more goodness.

Weekend Links #35

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed over the last week:
1. Reading about the loopgraafbrug (trench bridge) built by RO&AD for the in the Dutch town Halsteren (via Anneke)
2. Revisiting again and again to the new album from Beirut streaming on NPR
3. Listening to the song in this great video (embedded below, via Ms de Bie)
4. Expanding my knowledge of html & css with don’t fear the internet
5. Thinking of even more ways to consolidate food waste


stormy skies

Every year when August comes around, I look forward to my favorite event of the year, Pluk de Nacht. An open air festival that shows films that didn’t quite catch the media wave. It’s a festival in the true sense. With a Vedett sponsorship, it’s almost like going to a carnival-style party with all the hipsters in town. Beach chairs and loud music with a host of people streaming through the gates. And every year, without fail, it rains.

In many parts of the world, August is reliably the warmest month of the year. In Amsterdam, the summer’s energy (notably absent this year) just seems to sputter out, which is a pity with so many summer festivals taking place. Last Friday, the sun was actually shining so Marcus and I packed our blankets and wool socks and headed to Pluk de Nacht. Sadly, the forecast for the remainder of the festival looks like rain. My blanket will be waiting by the door Friday evening and I will be hoping for a lucky clearing in the sky and another night in the open air.

Above photo by me, below photo from PdN.

nautical flags

Since I was little, I have been fascinated with flags and the countries they represent. These 26 handpainted nautical flags by Best Made are based on the International Code of Signals, with each flag representing a letter in the alphabet. I love the designs and picked my favorite four (above) and then decided to choose four very sweet letters (below).

august days

A perfect weekend. A visit to the embassy, four books sold and one purchased, tea and appeltaart with a friend in the sun, an outdoor film with Marcus, a lucky escape from the police checking for bike lights, frolicking goats on Saturday morning, coffee and lunch on the Amstel with a great lady, navigating through the crowded canals with ease, watching the evening rain from the comfort of my home, a slow Sunday morning, an afternoon workout, and ending with a beer on a gusty terrace with my favorite Dutchman. Summer, you are too kind.

Weekend Links #34

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed over the last week:
1. Receiving tickets to see The Avett Brothers at Paradiso thanks to a dear colleague (pictured above via)
2. Watching Jack Goes Boating at the open air film festival Pluk de Nacht
3. Reading an interesting interpretation of a book I recently re-read,  Seeing Catch-22 Twice
4. Contemplating the dangers of fast fashion again while reading The Tyranny of Trends (via @tout_moi)
5. Enjoying Rachel’s stories of short fiction on Elephantine
6. Viewing Don McCullin’s lost negatives of the Berlin Wall


Last weekend found me once again in Proef, a restaurant in Amsterdam’s Westerpark that serves local, organic food that is in season and creatively prepared. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting and the meals are satisfying and delicious.

The concept of the restaurant, created by Marije Vogelzang, is perfectly executed. Small details fill the space, from a guest book at each table and the proud pitcher of Amsterdam tap water to the presentation of food and the bathroom decorations.

A salad almost too pretty to eat.

Inside Proef.

The Proefplank, a selection of vegetables served on a board.

Why not roast a marshmallow by the fire?

Chickens wander the gardens outside.


For those travelers always itching for the next adventure, a short video about movement across 11 countries (via MB)

head, skull & crossbones, seahorse

I will never tire of Amsterdam graffiti and all its creativity.

thou art mortal

The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember Caesar, thou art mortal.’ Most of us can’t rush around, talk to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury