Most people will know by now that I am trying to lose weight and with a good result so far. On that later a bit more.

A few days ago I was in Haarlem and I decided also to buy some new jeans.

At a shop I found I went directly to the XL, XXL and XXXL section as I used was over the last years. I got a bit frustrated as I could find nothing that fitted well.

A lady working at the shop must have noticed my frustration, she came toward to me and asked me if she could help. I explained that I had problems to find fitting jeans.
She took two steps backwards and looked at me. Then she told me that I should not be looking here at the larger sizes, but should go to the section with the common sizes.
I literally felt a warm glow… back to the “normal” sizes. What an achievement!

The kind lady showed me the part of the store where I should be according her.
I asked her if she could advise me on the size of jeans I should look for.
She looked at me again and said 38/32. I really could not believe this. But there I was a few minutes later, wearing jeans of size 38/32! Completely unbelievable for me!

Why this was a huge surprise for me? Some pants I bought some months ago was of the size 58/32. Yes, you read well… 58… and now 38!

I am so happy with this complete out of the world result.

So yes, I have been trying to lose weight and as it shows with good result. People all around me told me that it showed so very well. There was even one person who carefully informed if I was ill.

In the around two months I am working on this I lost around the 18kg. An average of 2 kilo per week, which is good because losing too much too fast is really not good (and often leads to gaining weight later on again). And I went from “seriously overweight” to “overweight”, but my goal will be of course “normal weight”.
My last concern is my belly. But I know this will be the hardest to get back to normal and it will take time. But I will go for it.

Some folks asked me what my secret was. Well, there is no secret. Move more (10.000 steps at least per day, which sounds a challenge but isn’t) and eat healthy (look at calories, stay away from pre-prepared things, no sauces and alike from the supermarket, focus on vegetables and fruit… but choose wisely :P). My fear was that I only could eat things that weren’t really tasty. What a mistake! I can eat salmon and other fishes, all kinds of beef, poultry, many kinds of vegetables and much more.

What really helps a lot is the support and advices from the people around me. Specially when people react very enthusiastic on the result I have, that really gives a damn good feeling.

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Mountain Tea

by Mel on

What an interest suddenly for Mountain Tea. I would expect interest for well-known Greek products as Olives, Olive Oil, Oregano, Ouzo, Honey, Feta, Kavourmas, Loukaniko or even Manouri. But Mountain Tea?

But okay, Mountain Tea!

Mountain Tea

Mountain Tea (Σιδερίτης) is also known as Shepherd’s Tea, here we have right away a reference to the origin of Mountain Tea, or Ironwort as it also is called.

Mountain Tea is of course not a real tea. Real tea is prepared from the leaves of the tea-plant (“Camellia sinensis”), while Mountain Tea is prepared from the Sideritis-plant. In Greece there are 17 species of the Sideritis-plant (some bounded to a local area, others more common). Among these 17 species is there only one cultivated: Sideritis raeseri, the other species are growing in the wild.
Throughout the Mediterranean other variations are known (mainly in Italy and Turkey).

Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations in the world. In ancient times shepherds resided in remote isolated regions and developed a deep intimacy with their natural surroundings. It is through these conditions they discovered the qualities of many herbs. And Mountain Tea was one of these.

Mountain Tea is rich in iron and antioxidants. It is good for the digestion and it is anti-inflammatory.
There are over 60 chemical constituents in the essentials oils within Mountain Tea that have been shown to be beneficial for a wide array of health ailments, such as common cold, flues and coughs. It is also said that it can have a positive influence on Diabetes, osteoporoses and seasonal allergies, to people who interested in weight loss, dieting, increased performance in the athletic world all the way to those with severe depression, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease (read careful: A positive influence, not a final cure or anything alike).

One advice on preparing Mountain Tea: It is important that Mountain Tea is boiled and/or steep in hot water for a period of time long enough to extract the essential oils within this plant (at least 5 minutes). It is tough to penetrate the woody Sideritis-plant, because of its evolution to growing out of hard limestone and at times under extreme weather conditions.

The Mountain Tea we drink here is coming from Macedonia, the Greek province of Macedonia and not the Republic of Macedonia (<- Small political rant here).

Mountain Tea tastes the best with a little bit of Honey. Greek Honey of course, as produced around my home town. *SMILE*

Rob, there is a nice portion of Mountain Tea for your colleague and you on its way to the Netherlands *SMILE* .




(Credit photo: Mel)

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When I waked up last Friday here in the hotel, there was message for me waiting on my iPhone: Rob did hurt his ankle again and he need for now a crutch to walk.

On his way to work he stumble on lose tile on the side walk. He was walking from his home to the train station, so he was not that far away from home. Luckily he made the right decision and returned home. Continuing to his work most likely would made it all a lot worse.

When I called him he told me that his ankle was all swollen and very painful. Put weight on made it even hurt more. Luckily he had crutches at home, so he could start to use those right away. It is not the first time that Rob had something like this (an accident he was involved in made his ankle a weak spot) and so he had already cooling packs at home. These eased the pain a lot he told me (remember there is currently a time difference of 7 hours between us, so by the time I got him on the phone he was already cooling his ankle).

Poor Rob, this kind of things always happens to him!

When Marissa heard about this (and knowing that I am in the US), she decided to drive right after her work to Rob’s place to help him out. What a wonderful woman my niece is! And apart from helping him out, it was also nice that he had some good company during the weekend.

Just chatted a bit with Rob. His ankle is no longer really swollen and the pain is a lot less. So tomorrow he will be going to work as normal, but he already decided for himself that he will be using a crutch for some days, so he will not encumber his ankle too much. Good decision of him!

Why this kind of things always happen when I am really far away. I would really liked to be there for him now.
Any way, just one and a half week and I will be going home. Looking very much forward to that!




(Credit photo: Public Domain, see Pixabay )

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TeaMany of us drink often tea, or something that we like to call tea, and have almost no knowledge about tea at all.

Tea is an aromatic drink prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the tea plant. There are many teas around that we call tea but isn’t tea (because no tea leaves were used). Just like apple wine isn’t wine because it is not made of grapes or white chocolate isn’t chocolate because it doesn’t contain cacao.

Tea has its origin in South west China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It became popular as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants brought it to Europe during the 16th century.

There are different kinds of tea.
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea. Green tea originated in China, but its production has spread to many countries in Asia.
Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavour than the less oxidized teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis.
White tea may refer to one of several styles of tea which generally feature young or minimally processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.
Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering the plant under strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Most oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, involve unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of oxidation can range from 8 to 85%, depending on the variety and production style. Oolong is especially popular with tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, as is the Fujian preparation process known as the Gongfu tea ceremony.
Rooibos (meaning “red bush”) is a broom-like member of the Fabaceae family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos. he leaves are used to make an herbal tea called rooibos or bush tea (especially in Southern Africa) or sometimes redbush tea (especially in Great Britain). The product has been popular in Southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the old Dutch etymology. So by definition it is not a real tea. As a fresh leaf, rooibos has a high content of vitamin C. Rooibos tea does not contain caffeine and has low tannin levels compared to black tea or green tea

Tea can be stored for a very long time without losing its quality (when stored in a right way: air-tight, dry and not in direct sunlight). Although some tea can be stored more than a year, replaces Rob once per 6 or 8 months the teas he has. And today he did that. The whole room is filled up with the wonderful scent of tea, herbs, spices and fruits.


So now we have the next teas here at Rob’s house:

“Greek Mountain Tea”, also known as Sideritis thee or Ironwort and comes from Florina (West Macedonia, main land of Greece). The tea is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the plant Sideritis. This plant with its velvety, greyish leaves and yellow flowers grows to about 45 centimetres high. The tea is rich on iron and antioxidants and it is said that the Greek mountain tea is good for digestion and is anti-inflammatory.
Mel is always kind enough to send us this tea (among other Greek products) directly from Greece.

The other teas are bought at a Dutch webshop and are a good collections of green, black and white teas, all with their own combination with herbs, spices, flowers and fruits.

Tea honey

We always drink our tea with honey and if you have tea of a very good quality, you also want honey of a high quality. We always use thyme honey. Greece is known for it very fine honey. And yes, thanks to Mel we are never without honey *SMILE* .
Honey contains antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents. Besides honing contains many valuable nutrients-including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Honey is used for centuries as treatment of a sore throat. And of course honey is already used for ages as Outside the product served honing earlier usefull as sweetener.


And oh, before I forget, the title of this article is taken from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, the book that Rob likes so very much.



(Credit photo’s: Marion)

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by Jennifer on

flu griep
I heard that Rob was down with the flu. I talked with him a little on the phone. He is really feeling awful…. fever, headaches, hurting lungs, body aches and very tired.
It seems to be going around at his work and not only there.

Flu, is such a common disease, but what is it really? According to Wikipedia:
“Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.”

Okay, that we know now (if we didn’t already). This is not to going to be an scientific post, but more some facts and handy things to know.

So it caused by a virus. A virus cannot be destroyed like a bacteria. For the virus that causes the common flu this means just sit it out and take care of yourself (or have someone taking care of you *HEART* ).

Flu Is contagious. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

While the flu viruses can be detected year-round, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

For an healthy person the flu is not a real threat, as long it is taken care of in a proper way.
This is different for older people, children and persons with a weak health. These are the people that need special treatment. Also they should apply for an anti-flu shot, something that for someone a good health is not needed.

There are many suggestions going around to help to feel better: Breathe aromatic steam (eucalyptus oil), warm showers, drink a lot of liquids, rinse the noise with salty water, warm (chicken-) soup, spice up your meal and many more. It is to your personal experience if these will work or not.

And most of all I hope that Rob recovers fast and go back to his normal way of life.




(Credit Photo: Public Domain, see Dreamtime )

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Vitamin C – the hoax

by Miranda on

Yesterday I was at a drug store to buy a small present for Jennifer, when I heard the cashier tell someone that she had to take lots of vitamin C, because that will heal her cold. That statement is not correct. But when you believe the advertisements on TV and in the magazines you have indeed to take (lots of) vitamin C when you have a cold.

They want us to believe that vitamin C can cure the common cold, which is absolutely not correct.
Whenever they put “vitamin C” on the front of their product they are able to sell more because a lot of consumers are convinced that vitamin C will cure their cold. Don’t trust the big written ext on the label. The small text (the ingredients) is where they have to very precise.

Yes, if you are low on vitamin C, then taking it would be recommended, but in countries as The Netherlands this mostly not a real problem any more. Taking lots of extra vitamins should only be done when a doctor advises it. The best way to get your vitamins is through food.

A cold virus cannot be cured. Drinking, sleeping and decent food can help your body fight it off faster.

There many incorrect stories around food and health, but this one always comes around again. After what I heard yesterday in that drug store and by reading something about it on the web I thought it was a good idea to give it some attention.




(Credit photo: Public Domain, see Public Domain Pictures)

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Running through the moor….

by Sanne on

Today very early in the morning I went jogging as I so often do, but I was really in the mood to take a longer track as I normally do. So I did put my running clothes on, stepped into some good running shoes (very important!). So I got in my car and drove to the farm of my parents, who live next to “Het Haaksbergerveen”, a bog/moor-like nature area of approximately 500 hectares. It is an very beautiful area where I already love to come since I was young girl.

At the farm of my parents I parked my car and after a cup of tea, I started to run towards “Het Haaksbergerveen”.

There was a gentle drizzle rain when I started to run, but that was okay. I even liked the soft rain on my face. But after the first kilometres the rain started to get worse, until it was really raining cats and dogs. And even that I didn’t mind really. The temperature was not too bad and by those first kilometres my body was already warmed up. I felt good.
My speed and rhythm were good. Even my running clothes that were soaking wet didn’t bother me.
I left the main paths that lead through the moor and entered the area of small sand paths where almost no one ever comes and most likely not many are aware of. But as I grew up here I know them from the many trips I made through “Het Haaksbergerveen”, which my parents were not happy about at all. As they said, it was dangerous (and they were right with that) and I should started to behave as a young lady (Mhhuuaaaa :P).

While running I passed by many spots that hold memories for me. The small lake were I as young girl always went swimming (which was not allowed by my parents). The spot with a great view over the surrounding moor, where I took someone I loved often. The area where the Drosera grows. And many other sports with good memories.

I have to say that I not only felt good, I felt extremely good. My soaking wet clothes that made me feel the rain directly on my skin didn’t change that.
I think my complete run was around 14 kilometres. This slowly older getting body is still in good shape.

Back at the farm of my parents my mother looked at my wet clothes with a shaking head. With a grin I borrowed a big towel to put over the chair of my car and drove quickly home.

Home again, I took a long relaxing hot shower. And now sitting in my bathrobe on the couch, I only can say that I loved the running of this morning. And now I am enjoying a hot choco and I think I earned it *SMILE*

The photo was not taken today (I had no camera with me and even I forgot to take my iPhone along), but some years ago. Just wanted to show how beautiful “Het Haaksbergerveen” is.



(Credit photo: Sanne)

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I had already some remarks from people that I hadn’t posted here and on my photo-site anything for some time. Well, the reason for this is that I was involved in an small incident…

So what happened? End of last month (so about 4 weeks ago) I went on a bicycle trip to make some pictures. My goal was a small town called Nauerna. In Nauerna is a nice old sluice to bring small ships and boats from higher to lower water (and the other way around). A nice location to map pictures.

So I arrived at Nauerna and just started to make pictures…

I was walking on a wall of about 90 centimeters wide. One side water, where I wisely kept distance from. On the other side grass on the same level as the wall.
So I made a few steps backwards to get a little more distance between the sluice and me, placing my left feet on the edge between the wall and the grass. Well, it looked as there was grass… below the spot where I placed my feet there was no ground under the grass, but a hole… and my feet slipped into that hole! Which of course resulted in me losing my balance.

The result my left feet very badly twisted on two spots (near the toes and the ankle). Very, very painful and making it impossible for me to walk normal.

Something I am a little bit proud on is that I managed during my fall down to turn my body around so I wouldn’t fall on my camera. My camera and lenses survived it all without any damage. And I am very happy about that.

Anyway, my feet was purple of all the extravasations. And it was very swollen and as said, extremely painful. I could not move around without crutches.
The first two weeks I couldn’t use my feet at all. But slowly it is getting better. I can already put some weight on my feet again and with the crutches I can even “walk” again and that was something I could not a week ago.
So yes, it is getting better, but it is taking time. But that seems to be very normal for such an injury.

Currently I am training my feet again so I will be able to use it as normal again, but I am advised not to overtake it. Easy does it, seems the motto for this.

I am very happy that a colleague who lives close by is willing to take me with his car to work, so I can work as normal again and I get out of my apartment. I really like my apartment, but I am not the person to sit all day inside. I like to go out and do things. And that is currently not something I can do :-(.

So there you have the reason why I didn’t post anything here on my blog for some time…. I couldn’t sit that long behind my desk and, maybe even more, my mood was not after it.

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A bad nose cold…

by Rob on

It is the time of year and the weather to get all kinds of colds. And yes, I am victim this year. I have a rather nasty nose cold.

A nose cold is always annoying. One nose channel really blocked is very annoying. But when both nose channels are completely blocked is becomes really nasty.
For me it means no sleeping (or very less sleeping). It means I have to breathe through my mouth, which leads to a dry mouth in minutes and that is enough to wake up again.

Two nights like that is enough to break you up. On advise of the local drug-store I bought something and it seems to help. My left nose channel is open again and it feels if the right one is opening up.

I already catched up some sleep this evening and that already made me feel a lot better. Lets hope I will sleep tonight also a bit better :).

And yes Marion, if it takes to long to heal, I will go and see a doctor :)

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Here it happened…

by Rob on

As you asked, Marion. This is the exact spot where I had that accident last Wednesday.

Seeing the picture I think I know what happened.

On the moment that the taxi passed by me while driving way too fast, I must have been with the front wheel of my bicycle on the rail. So when I pulled hard to the right, the wheel slipped straight into the rail. Add to that, as a colleague told me, those rails can be extreme slippery after rain.
I came from the other side with my bicycle (where on the picture that car is approaching).

The lesson learned is that tram rails are dangerous!!!!

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