Sheep at Sunset

sea sheep sunset


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Dutch Windmill in Acrylics

Time lapse video of making the painting:

windmill


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How It’s Supposed To Feel

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

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Painting fairy tales and windmills

I’m no expert when it comes to feelings and how love works, and I don’t think I’ll ever be (also, I don’t aim to be one), but like all of us, I do know how it feels like to be happy or miserable next to someone. With more and more people in the wrong relationship, I had to step back and think about how it’s supposed to feel, when it’s really right. Even if is never perfect, it should always feel right.

We spend our entire life looking for love. Happiness is everyone’s ultimate goal, regardless of what shape it takes. For some, happiness might be their dream car or house, while for others is the perfect spouse, or a trip around the world. We learn thorough our mistakes, who we really are, and what we really need in life. We’re not born knowing, we just find out as we go. We might start with an image in our mind of how it should be, and end up in a totally different place than the one we pictured for so long.

Not that long ago I had a talk with someone about relationships and I couldn’t help but notice a huge difference between relationships in the past vs relationships nowadays. When our grandparents were younger, everything had to be fixed, not changed, including relationships. They just aren’t programmed this way, and never threw away their love, feelings, past, and start all over again, with someone else. Getting married, was usually for life. Yes, the access to fast divorces wasn’t an option, but also, they never considered that in first place.

Nowadays, more and more dysfunctional relationships appear. And most of the time, we believe that’s how it’s supposed to be. We struggle to find happiness, but the last puzzle piece doesn’t fit perfectly. Still, we sometimes try to fix something which will never work or give up on the relationship at the first sign of it not going as planned. Even when it’s the right missing piece, we are programmed to throw our feelings away, put our pride and selfishness before the other person and our relationship, instead of working things out with our partner.

What’s the right feel?

Breakups are never easy. We all go through them at one point in our lives, and we all wish we wouldn’t have to deal with something like this ever again.  It’s painful, stressful, consuming, and leaves us with missing pieces of our hearts, every time we lose the partner which was, at one point, the love of our lives. We feel like it’s pointless to even look further for THE ONE, as the past one was the one, and now it’s only a stranger. And then we pick ourselves up, and move further, on the road to achieving happiness, looking somewhere else, and then somewhere else, and so on, until we think we found it, and then we start all over again.

Sometimes what ruins a relationship is the picture in our head of how we WANT it to be. The truth is it will never be the way we pictured it. When something involves more than just yourself, it will never be YOUR WAY. It will be a compromise between what both partners want. Having it your way and not considering your partner’s feelings, means you will end up breaking up over and over again. It will always be something different than what you had in mind, but the question is: how it’s supposed to feel like when it’s the right one for you?

Being stuck in a relationship which doesn’t make you happy isn’t only wrong, but is also useless. It will never keep you on the right track of your life. It will only bring you down, make you question yourself, your choices, your dreams and desires. You will end up in a place where you forget who you really are, what your passions are, and what you used to dream about, for your future.

When it feels right, your partner will bring out the best in you, will inspire you, support you in your wildest dreams, and bring an unexplained joy in your life. Like a missing puzzle piece, the right person will make the image ahead of you clearer. No matter how broken you are, you can see it clear; it finally comes back to you. You know who you are, you are motivated to follow your dreams, you are playful, happy, smiling for no reason, and eager to do more and be better at anything you do. You feel alive, and you two form a perfect team.

The one, will never ask you to change anything about yourself either, and will never let you lose track of who you are, and what really makes you happy. On the contrary. Both of you will blend into a perfect team, an unstoppable power, with the same destination in mind: happiness. And neither of you won’t let anything come between you and your goal.

The right person isn’t perfect. Not at all, but love knows no boundaries. Love knows nothing about social status, skin color, age, educational level, career path, looks, … Love just happens, in the weirdest way, with the strangest person. He/she has a lot of faults, like you also do, but it’s definitely perfect to you. There’s nothing you would change about him/her, and nothing better than their perfect imperfections make you any happier. You choose to be with them not wanting to alter anything, but to keep them as they are, in your mind and heart, just like in the first day you met.

Life is too short to bother with the wrong person. As harsh as it might sound, if someone doesn’t make you feel this way, it’s just not worth your time. You can’t waste the best years of your life, being unhappy, trying to change the person next to you, only to end up old and tired of what still doesn’t work. The perfect fit is never forced, it just works! Besides, its always better to be alone, than to feel alone next to the wrong person.

When you don’t want to lose a single moment of your life together, and when even your dreams seem less beautiful than reality is, then you know you’ve found the one. You will simply know. And when you finally do, hold them, cherish them, and don’t let them go. Love is very fragile and very breakable. Even with the right person for you, you should never take anything for granted, but constantly work on keeping the feelings alive.

Social media, movies, TV shows, tend to promote a very confusing image of how it’s supposed to feel. We are constantly bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ relationships which have nothing to do with real life. Life isn’t perfect, neither are relationships, but it’s all about learning how to dance in the rain. With the right person, anything is achievable and you feel like you can even move mountains (sure you could as well leave them where they are, if they don’t particularly bother you 🙂 ).

Real love doesn’t need to be advertised, doesn’t have to be on any social media, but should only be located deeply in our hearts. Our hearts will know when the right person is the one, and so will we. When it happens, you will finally know how it was supposed to feel, all along.


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Keukenhof – Flower Paradise

Keukenhof ( in Dutch, “Kitchen garden“), situated in Lisse, the Netherlands ( halfway between Amsterdam and The Hague), is also known as the Garden of Europe, which is the world’s second largest flower garden following the Dubai Miracle Garden.

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Short History

The origins of the garden goes back to the 15th century, when Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, Jacoba van Beieren, gathered fruit and vegtables from the woods and dunes around, for her Castle kitchen.

keukenhof_treesLater on, in the 1850’s, the landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son, Louis Paul Zocher, were asked to redesigned the castle’s gardens, which became the basis of Keukenhof, as we know it today.

Only in 1949 the idea of a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs, appeared, and this is the moment when Keukenhof became a spring park, opened every year, for 3 months only.

With approximately 7 million flower bulbs planted annually, on an area of 32 hectares, Keukenhof is a fascinating place for spring flower lovers.

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The Origin of the Famous Tulip 

As we learn something new everyday, I think it’s important to mention that contrary to my belief, the first cultivation of the tulip began not in Netherlands, but in Asia.

The Tulip was originally a wild flower growing in Central Asia, cultivated first, by the Turks, around 1,000 AD. The flower was introduced in the Netherlands in the 17th century by Carolus Clusius, a famous biologist from Vienna.

The flower is called tulip, after the Turkish word for turban!

Because he was hired by the University of Leiden to research medicinal plants, he brought back some bulbs from Turkey, for his garden in Leiden. This was the start of the amazing flower fields we can see today.

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In the 17th century, the tulips were used both as a garden decoration and medicinal purposes and soon became a trading product, being sold for unbelievable high prices. The traders made large amounts of money, to the point where people started to sell their businesses,homes, farm and animals, only to participate.

The over-supply led slowly to lower prices and dealers went bankrupt, moment known as the “Tulip Crash”, when the government introduced special trading restrictions for the flower.

The flower became so popular because of the bright colors,which was a way to impress among the wealthy.

Visiting Keukenhof

If you visit Keukenhof by public transport, I recommend taking the Keukenhof Express bus 858, from Schiphol, or the 854 from Leiden Central Station, as there’s no direct connection from Amsterdam to the garden.

If you plan to visit by car, make sure you leave early and get ready for a long and frustrating traffic jam. Because the garden is open for only a short period of time every year, it attracts a large number of tourists from all around the world, which makes the area very busy.

The best part about visiting a new place is always the company, so I want to thank my blogger friend, Gin, for the wonderful opportunity of meeting her, in person, at Keukenhof. What really makes a place beautiful, is the wonderful people you travel with, so I would say the tulip adventure was just perfect!


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Zaanse Schans – Overdose of Windmills

A Short Windmill History

DSC_6119Before visiting the windmills it would be nice to know something about them, and about why they are so appreciated. Yes, the mills are fascinating to watch, but the looks are not what drove Dutch people to build them in first place.

So, then why so many windmills?

The first time in Dutch history when windmills are mentioned, is around the year 1200. During that time, the country wasn’t the ideal place to live in, as Netherlands was a combination of swamps and wetlands, separated by sea and sand, with cities and villages often destroyed by terrible floods.

As soon as the water was pushed away after the construction of dams, the windmills were built as an effort to drain the land. In the 16th century, after a few adjustments to the structure of the mills, they started being used in the building ships industry, and in the flower, oil and mustard production. This caused an explosion of mills to appear everywhere around the country, and by the 19th century, their number was close to 9,000!

How not to love them? Netherlands is where it is today, because of the mills!

About Zaanse Schans

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The fascinating village is located in the province of North Holland, on the banks of Zaan river. With a history dating all the way back to the 17th century, Zaanse Schans is a stunning community, which consists of historic windmills and traditional style houses. Because of the rapid urban development in the region, many windmills and buildings were moved to Zaanse Schans from other parts of the country.

What I’ve found particularly extraordinary are the efforts made to restore the windmills and keeping them running through the years. Also, all the windmills are working, performing various functions.

The village is absolutely gorgeous and the color combinations blend perfectly with the colors of nature. In the area you can visit saw mills, mustard mills, grinding paint pigments mills, and oil mills, every single one with its own fascinating history and evolution.

The Windmills

There is so much to say about the mills. Every story is complex and complicated, presenting the twisted evolution and change of every windmill, through the time. Also, no story is even close to any of the other stories.

Here are a few of the most important moments in the life of Zaanse Schans’ mills.

DSC_6154De Huisman – located in the village since 1955, is a mustard windmill, built in 1786. The mill was previously used as a tobacco mill, and later as a sawing mill. Only after the move to Zaanse Schans, the mill became once again a mustard mill.

DSC_6155De Gekroonde Poelenburg – is a paltrok mill, used as a wind-powered sawmill, listed as a Rijksmonument. It has a complicated history, and is the result of several combined windmills. Originally built in 1869 in Koog aan de Zaan, the mill was rebuilt completely, after a fire destroyed it completly. It was moved in the village in 1963.

DSC_6157De Kat – is the only remaining working windmill in the world which makes paint pigments, the old way. It was built in Kalverringdijk between 1646 – 1696, working initially as an oil mill. In 1782 it was destroyed by a fire, being rebuilt fast afterwards. It’s been in Zaanse Schans since 1960.

DSC_6159De Zoeker – is a very old oil mill, built in 1672 in Zaandijk, where it was used initially for draining the land, later for paint, and even later turned into a oil mill. Now that’s what I call adapting. Relocated in 1968, the move was extremely difficult, taking one day and one night, during which the mill was transported also by boat and lifted over several railway lines.

DSC_6160Het Jonge Schaap – is a sawmill originally built in 1680 in Westzijderveld, used until 1942, when it was demolished. It was rebuilt in 2007, using as much as possible the 17th century methods.

DSC_6163De Bonte Hen – is a oil mill built in 1693, with a long history of lighting strikes and fires, always making a miraculous escape, in time. I guess we are lucky to still see it around.

The best way to see the windmills and learn something about the history of Zaanse Schans is by boat, so I highly recommend a cruise on the river.

DSC_3092Besides the windmills, which obviously are the main attraction, you can also see demonstrations of crafts, from woodworking to cheese making.

Unfortunately the village became a bit too touristic in the past years but it still has its charm, thanks to the constant efforts made to keeping alive the spirit of the old times.

All the windmills are beautiful, and definitely worth seeing. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I guess we all have our own. Which one is yours?

To the Windmill!

20141019_1407111A windy day is a perfect day to visit a windmill and actually see it work. So, I hopped on my bicycle and started the trip towards a beautiful mill, from the beginning of 1900. You might think: ‘1900?! Oh, it’s probably a museum.’ Guess again! It’s still working, and it does a fantastic job.

Even before getting close to the fascinating building, I could see the enormous blades turning. What a fantastic mechanism!

I couldn’t believe my ears when the miller told me they used the windmill even during storms with wind speeds of 89–102 km/h. And I have to say, I was very impressed by the power such a construction can develop. Being inside, I could feel the entire mill moving. As soon as the wind starts, it all comes alive! This explains why it is used for such a large spectrum of activities. Historically speaking, the windmills kept Netherlands going, being used in pumping the excess water from the land into the sea, in cutting the wood needed for building ships, and, of course, as a source of power. The millers even use the windmill to pull the bags of grains, at the desired floor.

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The bags of grains are ready!

I was touched to see all the work and dedication invested into maintaining everything. Basically, being a miller is not a job or a hobby, but a way of life. You have to love what you do, in order to feel the mechanism and understand it perfectly.

Not an easy job I would say, but people really love their mills, and take very good care of them. Hard work, as the reparations have to be done in the same way and with the same type of materials used by the original constructors. This was learned the hard way, when the mill was repaired, at one point, by a contractor who used new, fancy construction materials. From the very first use of the windmill, it was easy to see that the newly set bricks couldn’t support the movement of the entire structure. The whole reparation had to be restarted, and done properly, the ‘old fashioned’ way.

Very imposing and fascinating buildings, and all the respect for the millers who invest so much time and energy into keeping them going!