30 May 2010

Unplanned photography

"Once upon a time she sat there drinking lemonade."

I took this photograph the other day while running an errand. Something about that vine and the worn checkerboard veranda really called to me. I do love that I always have a camera with me now that I have an iPhone and I have a lot of fun with the filters in the CameraBag app. This one I ran through the "magazine" setting to give it that warm tone. I love living in a city filled with beautiful buildings. So much of North America is just so unabashedly ugly. Cheap to build, but it doesn't make your soul sing.

Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

17 May 2010

Furniture News

Dresser before & after

Awhile ago, my sweetie and I lugged home a beat up dresser from the thrift store. Ok, well, I just carried the drawers. It wasn't too pretty looking, with lots of chips, nail holes, and missing drawer pulls. But some patching of holes, some drilling of new ones, a bit of paint, some pretty knobs, and ta-da! A pretty little dresser for my bedside. It's still in the dining area at the moment because the paint is still a bit odorous. I'm really pleased with how well it turned out, though.

Dresser makeover after

In other furniture news, we got sick of not having a desk or a coffee table or a proper dresser (this bedside one is quite small) and caved to the ease of IKEA. Last weekend, we rode our bikes out to IKEA (a rather fun adventure) and picked out some things. We paid to have them delivered and then biked home (not as fun an adventure since D had to awkwardly carry some items and there was a charming headwind). But it's oh-so-nice to have a real desk to be typing this at, and to have my current artsy mess scattered on it instead of the dining table!

Artsy Mess

Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

06 May 2010

Passementerie in Amsterdam

Passementerie shop

If you're looking for trims in Amsterdam, in addition to the shop in the Albert Cuyp market that I've mentioned before, there's a great little passementerie shop in the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) area. They're moving in June and I have the new address on a piece of paper that I've put somewhere ... "safe". Which means that I have no idea where it is, but if/when I find it, I'll post an update.

Passementerie shop

Where there is overlap in stock that I could directly compare, their prices are a bit more expensive than at Jan. However, a specialist store like this generally means there will be a few special somethings not found elsewhere.

Passementerie shop

My favourites are the adorable woven trims with little woodland creatures. I've so far resisted buying any since I don't have a sewing machine here yet. But let me tell you, the little-red-riding-hood trim and the turquoise one with birds and hearts are both calling to me. Even though I have no idea what I'd do with them other than admire their cute-ness. Is that a good enough reason?? If I succumb to temptation, I promise to post pictures of the trims in question.

Tassels in the window

Update: I found the scrap of paper with the new address! As of 1 June 2010, the shop's address is Elandsgracht 43.

Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

04 May 2010

Queen's Day in Amsterdam

Queen's Day

One Amsterdam adventure that I can't really compare to anything else I've ever experienced is Queen's Day. Imagine a city-wide anarchic garage sale and festival with costumes and beer. Lots of orange, particularly inflatable orange crowns and orange feather boas. DJs and bands on every street. Boats of revellers, also with music and beer. Street food of all types. Strange, strange ways of making some money (like smashing plates on pictures of the royal family, or having people throw eggs at someone's naked bottom sticking through a cut-out, sponge-toss style). People everywhere through the whole city, partying on every corner, all day long.

looking ahead

As you might guess, we didn't really get terribly good pictures since we were busy taking in the atmosphere and eating delicious things (blood orange sorbet, Italian sandwiches with fresh buffalo mozzarella, and poffertjes, amongst other things).

Party boats

The sort of similar holidays in Canada would be St-Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec or Canada Day in the rest of Canada. In Canada, there might be an event at some exhibition grounds, with music and fireworks. But it would all basically be contained to that one space. In Amsterdam, it was the entire city. Every street was filled with people. And the canals with boats. The Museumplein was packed and had the largest stage we saw, but by no means the only one. There were small stages and bands and DJs set up all over the place. The streets of the Jordaan were lined with people's garage-sale type tables and blankets (possibly selling all the stuff they rashly purchased on last year's Queen's Day). Food stalls were everywhere: from the usual frites trucks to someone who decided to sell cupcakes to booths set up outside cafes. It's a "vrijmarkt" or free market day, where you don't need a license to set up a stall, and people were selling everything and anything like a giant flea market crossed with a carnival. It was awesome. Amsterdam sure knows how to celebrate.

Queen's Day street scene

Apparently, the population of Amsterdam doubles for the day because people come in from outlying areas, and then all those people are out in the streets and squares, dancing, eating, drinking beer, and wearing orange.

Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.

03 May 2010

A visit to Keukenhof gardens

Tulips and Blossom trees

My parents visited us in Amsterdam at the start of April and we went out to the famous Keukenhof gardens to look at the flowers. The spring has been a bit late this year, so the tulips were not all out, but there were blossom trees and hyacinths and some tulips.

Tulips in the greenhouse

In the greenhouses, there was a massive and stunning collection of different tulip varieties.

Tulips in the greenhouse

It's a bit of trip out to the gardens since you need to take a bus to the airport and then catch a special shuttle bus to the gardens. From Amsterdam, it will take you about an hour to get there.


However, it's really worth doing at least once since tulips are such a symbol of the Dutch culture. There's even a windmill at the gardens, though it's no longer functional.

Windmill at Keukenhof

I highly recommend visiting during the week. We went on a Tuesday, and while there were lots of people, it was not unpleasantly busy. All the rest of my pictures from the gardens are here. It's probably one of my most colourful sets of pictures ever.

Tulips and Daffodils

I was a bit pokey about uploading all the pictures because my parents' visit was unexpectedly extended due to the volcano eruption in Iceland. We tried to take full advantage of the extra few days and it was nice to have a chance to do the things we hadn't had time to do before. We went to the farmer's market, some thrift shops and a flea market, and cooked some delicious meals at home. We even had a little trip to IKEA since we needed extra bedding and towels.

Photographs by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.