December and traditions

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December brought the cold wind and freezing temperatures.

Every morning I bike to work as the day is getting a little lighter and come back home when it has gotten dark again. While at work in the shop I meet many friendly people: new parents who want to create new traditions with their little ones, even if they don’t really get who Sinterklaas or Santa are yet; elderly people telling me how they love the shop because it reminds them of when they were young, and they tell me how they celebrated Sinterklaas or Christmas; people getting excited about giving a present rather than receiving it,they choose carefully, doubting whether the recipient will like it or not.

December has always meant a lot to me: my birthday, Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa, who gets here on the evening of the 5th of December), and Christmas recitals at school on Christmas Eve and hot milk with chestnuts around the bonfire in the village in Italy.

I am such a sucker for traditions. Unlike my family, I am really emotionally tied to them (otherwise they wouldn’t be tradition, would they?) and I miss them once they fade away.

As a child December started with Sinterklaas evening, on the 5th. After dinner Sinterklaas would knock on the door and we’d find lots of presents on the doorsteps. Every present would be accompanied by a poem in rhyme, and sometimes the poem would direct you outside where you’d had to follow clues to get to your present. There would also be hot chocolate, chocolate letters, pepernoten and speculaas.

Then, on the 9th, it was my birthday. Every year my parents woke me up by singing “Er is er een jarig, hoera, hoera!” and brought me tea or coffee on bed (depending on the age). They gave me a present, sometimes wrapped with Sinterklaas wrapping paper because they hadn’t decided beforehand which present would be for my birthday.

A few weeks later, on the 24th, Christmas Eve, I’d be spending the evening being nervous and excited because of the school’s recital. Being the shiest kid at school, I usually was one of the background angels singing, or the turkey the Little Match Girl dreams about while she’s starving and freezing to death. One year, the last year of Elementary school, I was the protagonist, I still am proud of that part, I was an awesome calendar, arguing with a clock on who was more important.

After the recital we’d go back to the village me and my family lived in. There always was a big bonfire in front of the church, everyone sitting around it, staring at the fire, while drinking hot milk and eating chestnuts.

These traditions slowly faded with the years. My parents didn’t really want t celebrate Sinterklaas, even though I would have loved to. My birthday lost a little the excitement I had when I was little, and Christmas isn’t celebrated around the fire anymore. Now christmas is in a totally different country, with other people around me. Fortunately these people remind me that traditions fade but new traditions can be created.

In fact, without even noticing, we have now celebrated our new version of Sinterklaas three years in a row. And although I am not sitting chatting with people around a bonfire with Christmas, I get to talk to people everyday at work, I get a glimpse of their lives, and then once I get off work, around Christmas, Roberto comes to pick me up and we go and have a glass of Mulled wine, however disgusting it might be, it is extremely heartwarming. Just like the awareness that we can create more traditions in the future.

What are your childhood traditions? Are you carrying them on or have you created new ones? I want to hear all of your stories!

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The other day I just wanted to photograph something food-related really bad. I might be something weird to “crave”, but whacha gonna do about it, I just wanted to.

I could have made a salad, or a cup of tea, but I went for the Chocolate Chip Cookies; who knows why. After a short quest for a perfect recipe I found this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Linda Lomelino (this lady inspires me so much).

Now, I know my post is called Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies and not Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies like hers (woah, hello alliteration!) but I guess that has to do with my oven being a tiny grill oven and not a fully functional ventilated oven. The cookies turned out super crunchy and delicious. To be honest, the best cookies I have ever made, so thanks Linda!

Hope you like the photos. If you like them please make sure to visit my website and like Juliette van Eijsden Visuals on Facebook.

What are your plans for this weekend? Anything exciting happening?

 

Tessa

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“Ask her what she craved and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. The plants and the season. Also freedom”.  Charles Frazier

For this shoot Tessa and I were inspired by the French look that she likes so much. Lots of black, and some black and white stripes. Classy and elegant as she can be. If I had to give it a name it’d be “Promenade parisienne”

A few hours walking around Leiden turned into this shoot that in my eyes really tells the story of a classy girl walking around town.

For more info about my photos visit my website juliettevaneijsden.com

An Ode to Leiden

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(for more travel photography visit my portfolio at juliettevaneijsden.com)

This town, just between Rotterdam, the Hague, and Amsterdam is so magical. I have been living here for almost three years now and I still like to go out and explore it. It is made of canals, small streets and alleys were you will find the typical Dutch houses and a few windmills as well.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays the town is more lively because of the market. Along the canal there are stalls selling flowers (lots of tulips), fish (raw herring, anyone?), clothes, nuts, and all sorts of food. I am lucky to work in a shop along the main canal where the market life is the liveliest. People laughing, quarrelling, having a coffee or buying some cheese, I see it all and love every second spend around there.

During summer you can have a coffee or a drink on one of the boats on the canal, just in front of the cafe/ pub. When it gets colder fairy lights light up the trees, and when it gets really cold and the canals freeze you will see people ice skating on them.

I don’t know if I will live here for ever, or if I am going to move a hundred more times, but I am sure I will always come back to this beautiful small city.

Autumn in Italy

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Autumn always makes me think of the poem San Martino by Giosue’ Carducci; we had to learn by heart at elementary school.

It’s amongst my favourites, and I still know it by heart.

La nebbia agli irti colli
Piovigginando sale,
E sotto il maestrale
urla e biancheggia il mare;
Ma per le vie del borgo
Dal ribollir dè tini
Va l’aspro odor de i vini
L’anime a rallegrar.
Gira sù ceppi accesi
Lo spiedo scoppiettando:
Sta il cacciator fischiando
Su l’uscio a rimirar
Tra le rossastre nubi
Stormi d’uccelli neri,
Com’esuli pensieri,
Nel vespero migrar.

Translated by John Baker in:

Drizzling, the fog
the steep hills climbs,
and the northwest wind torments
the howling, foaming sea:
but in the village streets
the seething vats send forth
the pungent smell of wine
and cheer the weary souls.
On fiery logs the roast
turns on its spit and crackles;
the hunter stands and whistles
and watches from his door
the flocks of birds that,
back upon reddish clouds,
like forlorn thoughts gyrate
at dusk, preparing to migrate.

Lac de Serre Ponçon, France

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Unlike other years, this year Roberto and I decided to stop in France overnight before heading to our parents and start the hectic meet-all-of-your-parents routine.

We chose to stay and visit the Lac de Serre Ponçon; my parents and I had been here last year after a road trip through Northern Italy and Southern France. It is a beautiful blue lake, not far from Briançon, Gap, and the Italian border.

We arrived very early in the morning, after sleeping in the car between Grenoble and Gap. We drove along the lakeside and stopped in the small town Savines-le-Lac, where we had a café au lait and pain au chocolat, after washing our faces and brushing our teeth in a parking lot.

After breakfast we went to a beautiful part of the lakeside, from where you can see a tiny island with a charming church on it. Then we went back into town and bought a baguette, goat cheese and tomatoes for lunch and drove back to the lake and photographed all afternoon.

We stayed at a cosy AirBnB on top of the mountain in Crots, just a few hundred meters from te lake. The next morning we went to a bakery to buy some more pain au chocolat and then we drove up the mountains Italy bound. From the top we could see how big and incredibly blue the lake was and we had to take a few more photos.

We noticed there are many activities on and around the lake, like paragliding, water skiing, SUP, climbing. One reason more to come back.

 

10 Road Trip Tips

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It’s 3.30 pm and I am sitting on the bed of our AirBNB with Roberto sleeping next to me. We drove 15 hours non-stop yesterday, we had little to eat, and we slept in a fully packed car, without being able to incline our seats. I woke up every hour, sometimes because of a cramp in my leg, sometimes because trucks where driving by at full speed, one time because I found out there is a red flickering light in the car I had never seen before, and another because I though demetors might find the car.

We have been on pretty many road trips since we met. The first one was in 2010, and it was also the longest we ever did; from Italy (Turin, Milan, Aosta), to Switzerland (Bern and Costanz), through Germany (Munich and Berlin) to the Netherlands (Leiden, Amsterdam and Utrecht) and back through Belgium, Luxembourg, and France (Cevennes).

Then we moved to the Netherlands, and since then we’ve been on many more road trips to go back to Italy and to explore the Netherlands.

While driving yesterday we thought of gathering some tips for any of you guys who is planning on going on a road trip. I hope these tips will help you organising your trip.

1. Check oil, water, gas, etc. and all documents before leaving

Obvious, I guess, but very important. Do it a few days before departure, to avoid last minute panic attacks.

  1. Get informed about highway rules in other countries

When we drove to Switzerland we knew you had to buy an “admission” sticker and put it on your car window, but we had no idea where to get the sticker from. We drove through the border and still had no sticker. I was really worried we would get a big fine for passing the border without the sticker. Fortunately I found out they sold them at the first service station. It would have been easier if I had informed myself before leaving.

Another example is the French law: you need to have a Breathalizer in your car at all times. Who knew that was necessary to drive through a country safely?

  1. Prepare food in advance

Before leaving go grocery shopping and prepare your meals for the day or days you will be on the road. The food they sell at the service stations is not convenient, and it is not the healthiest either.

I always bring lots of fruit and vegetables that are easy to eat: apples and bananas (only when it’s not too hot), and tomatoes and carrots. I also usually make a few sandwiches.

Bring a few bottles of water too, since they’re pretty expensive on the highway. Stopping for breaks to us means two things: bathroom and coffee!

  1. Bring a (heavy) blanket

Whether it’s August or February, you will want to bring a blanket. In 2010 we stopped to sleep a few hours in a service station in France; it was only the beginning of September, but at night the temperatures dropped and we just couldn’t sleep more than two hours because we had only a very thin blanket and we were freezing.

  1. Bring good music (obviously)

We like pretty much the same music, so we are lucky on that part. But try to change CDs and allow everyone to listen to their favorite artists. We usually do that who drives decides.

Personally, I like to bring some more upbeat CDs for the day, and a little more calming music for the night when Roberto is sleeping. He listens to 80s rock whenever I try to sleep, but usually I manage to fall asleep anyway.

  1. You don’t have to drive 130 km/h because everyone else is

When you are driving long distances you will notice, especially around big cities, that people are in a hurry. Everyone wants to go at full speed, and sometime you are surrounded by a swarm of cars who want to drive as fast as they’re allowed to. If you don’t feel like driving 130, and feel safer driving 110 instead, don’t do it, slow down and drive at whatever speed you feel safe.

  1. Dress comfortably

Put on you pajamas if you want, no one will care. I usually wear leggings, a long shirt and Toms at my feet.

  1. Be flexible 

Not everything might go as planned. Try to be flexible: if you printed out your itinerary, but for some reason you cannot follow it, find another way and enjoy that moment. I feel like this when something unexpected happens (unless I have little time, then I get very nervous).

  1. Save coins for the tollbooths

This might be different in other parts of the world (let me know if it is!) but in France, for example, you will pass from tollbooths where you have to through your coins in some sort of basket. It will be much faster and easier if you will have the money ready.

10. Don’t trust the GPS

We threw out the GPS of our car the day we went to see Jack Johnson in Vigevano (Italy) and he (or better, she) let us drive through tiny roads between rice fields and finally just wanted us to keep making a U turn into a wall.

We also got lost in Brussels one time, and we drove the wrong way on a big road, which scared the heck out of me.

We dusted off our 2001 maps of Europe, France, and Northern Italy, and bought a map of the Netherlands and Belgium. Since then we never had a problem finding our way.

These were the tips came to our minds while driving. If you have any more tips let me know!

(I wrote this post a few days ago, but didn’t manage to finish it until today. We have arrived in Italy now. If you want to follow what we’re up to, check out my Instagram)

Ready

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I have never been more ready for a road trip. Not that I have everything sorted out and organised yet. Like, I have no idea if everything will fit in the car (I always bring loads of stuff back home: books that I won’t read a second time, Dutch food for parents and friends, etc.). But mentally I am all set. Hand over the keys!

We will be leaving on the first, kicking off the month the right way. Driving southwards through the Netherlands and Belgium, stopping at random service station to get coffee and probably sleeping in the car the first night, somewhere near Lyon.

On day two we will drive a little more on the highway, until getting off near the Alpine border with Italy. We will stop at a beautiful lake in the Maritime Alps, called Lac du Serre Ponçon which I discovered with my parents last year, and we’ll stay there one night.

Then we’ll drive through the mountains, cross the border, and stop for our first cappuccino, which is always the first thing we do when we go back to Italy.

After that we will have plenty more time, but have tons of plans piled up already, so we won’t be bored.
4 days to departure.

What season do you prefer going on holiday? Have you ever been on holiday off-season? Did you enjoy it? 

Something new

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When still going to school September was the beginning of a new year: clean notebooks, new stationery, and new resolutions. Although I graduated three years ago, I keep feeling that with the colder weather come new plans and brighter ideas.

So here I am, like every year, starting something new. This time I am more enthusiastic than ever before, more confident and ready (but nonetheless scared too).

I am officially a photographer now!


How did I start photographing and how did I get into it?

I have been photographing since the dawn of time; the first photos I remember taking were one of a cow and one of my mom’s friend when I was about 7/8. That was all anagogic and I still have those photos in a book somewhere.

One time I went on a school trip to Rome and the photographer who was gonna develop the photos messed the film up; he told me “well, that’s not that terrible, you can go to Rome again”. I was shocked and cried a lot.

Time passed and I kept stealing my dad’s new gadgets, usually point-and-shoot cameras. On vacation, at home, always, everywhere.

When I graduated from High School my parents gave me a bridge camera as a present. The best present I ever got, since this started my passion.

Meanwhile, I had also started this blog (after a few others, by the way). I never knew what made me love blogging: I thought it was having my little corner of the Internet where I could write whatever I wanted, until I realized Internet is not a safe haven, on the contrary, it’s a pretty tricky place to spend your time on. However, I kept blogging and photographing my daily life. Silly things, a prologue to my Insta-life in a way, photographing food, clothes, myself, the long trips to Turin and back home,..

My blog was (and still is) a mess. I kept reading that a blog should have a focus on one topic. But what was the topic I wanted to talk about? I love eating healthy, but also baking, I love traveling a lot, I love music, nature,.. every time it was a different topic I wanted to talk about, but the photos in the posts were indispensable.

While I kept giving more attention the photos for my blog, I realized photographs were the easiest way for me to communicate. I have always had doubts about the language I should write in: my family is Dutch (I currently live in the Netherlands), but I was living in Italy and had been my whole life, and English was the language I was studying at University, and also “the” language of the Internet.

I graduated and my parents (bless them) gave me a DSLR camera as a present, the one I still use now, a Canon 600d. From that moment, I started an ongoing learning process, I started watching photographs from professionals, looking up information on the Internet, experimenting by myself, reading about settings, and I started stepping away from the Automatic Settings.

Since I moved to the Netherlands and I started earning my own money, I have been able to attend some workshops and be more involved, and buy some more gear too. I have been photographing friends, babies, a wedding, a small business for which I also made this video, lots of food (benefits of having a boyfriend who is a cook), places we visited, and much more.

I understand now that photography is my language. It’s the way I try to convey emotions, often melancholic, sometimes dreamy, and mostly natural.

If you want to se what I’ve been up to, you will find my portfolio here.
I would love to receive some feedback from you.

(These two lovely girls are my friends Mirjam and Tessa; please make sure to link back to http://www.juliettevaneijsden.com and ask my permission before using these photos).

What about you? What is it that most inspires you? What makes you jump out of bed in the morning, and what keeps you up late?

Video: De Keuken van Greendelicious

I met Natascha in the shop I work in. She just opened an amazing workshop atelier just outside Leiden and my team and I got invited for a workshop. Her workshops focus on organic and natural ingredients, preferably self-grown. Her food is vegetarian, but I no one notices until she mentions it, because when working with her recipes even a carnivore doesn’t miss anything.

This is a video that portrays her world: from the beautiful garden where Mr. Piet grows some amazing produce, to her atelier, where she shows her guests how to make delicious dishes; from her little herbs and edible flowers garden to great evenings filled Italian music and great food and some wine or a coffee.

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