The smell of apple cake

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #194

As night falls earlier, covering the city with its cloak of humidity, I’ve asked myself once or twice already whether I should turn on the heating but it seems way too early in the season. So far I’ve resisted and instead, in the evenings, I’ve been pulling on an extra jumper and spending more time cooking myself hearty meals. This never fails to warm me up, with the added bonus that the flat is filled with the aromas of the ingredients mingling in the pan or the oven. I’ve been trying a few new recipes, but mainly preparing familiar dishes, comfort foods for chilly evenings. One of those is torta alle mele (apple cake), its delicious smell happens to be wafting over from the kitchen counter as I type these words:)

Cactus beauty

Botanic gardens and greenhouses are my happy place.  I can easily entertain myself for several hours, slowly making my way along the pathways, mesmerised by the hundreds of different species and their unique details. A couple of weeks ago, I spent the end of the afternoon quietly observing the cacti in warmth of the desert greenhouse at the Amsterdam Hortus. Here are some of the details which I liked the most.

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This cactus looks to me like a sea-urchin, stripped naked of its spikes, revealing a pattern reminiscent of a scottish tartan.

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These flowers are a delight, the bright colours of their petals popping out against the parched surroundings.

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Look at these incredible spikes, lined up all along this plant, it seems like each tip has been handpainted in reddish brown.

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The symmetry of the Fibonacci sequence spiralling outwards from the heart of this cactus, growing drier and spikier as it goes…

What we do when the sun comes out

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It seems that Winter finally got the message and handed over to Spring. Tiny little green leaves are making their appearance all around and we enjoyed some lovely warm weather in the last days.  Perfect for a weekend without fixed plans, allowing for a long improvised wander along the canals with my sister as we admired the city whilst chatting (and searching for ice-cream:)  It felt great not having my shoulders bunched up close to my ears permanently tensed against the cold, as we sat on a bench soaking up much-needed vitamin D and reading our books undisturbed while the sun slowly made its way across the sky.