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Crafting: Book-Purse & Steampunk origami

I’ve been getting off my computer in the evenings lately and working on a handful of crafty projects. I’ve always been impressed by people who make things and frankly would like to be one. Given my current small apartment I’m starting small. Currently I’m focusing on creating things from used materials with a Steampunk flair. Here’s a taste of what I’ve done so far.

Woordenboek Purse

This “purse” is actually a small book I hollowed out and attached to a leather strap. Language dictionaries are great for this type of project because they tend to be thick for their cover size.

Inspired by 19th century schoolbook straps.

Inside the purse. It fits my wallet (or several cards and cash), but not my cellphone.

I purchased the book and the leather (as a briefcase actually) at the Kringloop Zuid and the brass ring on the top at Mattie’s Kringloop. The thread also came from Mattie’s. The snap I purchased new at the Panhuis on Markt square.

Steampunk Tulips

After cutting out most of the pages of my purse, I was left with a lot of rectangular paper. It didn’t seem right to throw it away so I did what I usually do with scrap paper. Origami. Because the text comes from a Dutch to English dictionary, I chose to make tulips using a traditional origami method (and a few lilies). The leaves are my own design and left me with very little scrap to be recycled.

A small sample of tulips in my pepper shaker.

I picked up the stems and copper wire at Pipoos. I’m now looking for containers or objects to build bouquets around.

A Future Project: Umbrella Rain Pants

Ok, so this one isn’t about Steampunk, but it is about reusing material. Around Christmas it occurred to me that there are a lot of broken umbrellas laying around Maastricht and that while the metal parts may be busted, the fabric is almost always still intact. So I’m going to collect umbrellas and make things with them. I’m starting with a pair of rain pants and maybe some tote bags, but ultimately I think it would be fun to create a tent.

But to do all that I need more umbrella fabric. If you’ve got some umbrellas you’re planning on trashing anyway, why not send them to me (or if you’re local, let me know and I’ll pick it up). Email me for my address if you’ve got a trash umbrella or two to spare.

Christmas Markets Across the Region

The holiday season is coming, which here in Europe means a plethora of excellent Christmas fairs and markets. For those of use in the Maastricht region, this is a great time of year because our central location makes it easy to reach some great markets before Sinterklaas and Christmas are upon us. Here are some markets to get you started.

Maastricht Winterland

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Maastricht’s Winterland may not be one of the largest Christmas markets, but it does draw people from all over to explore its shops, eat holiday treats, and skate on the temporary ice-skating rink. There weren’t many handmade goods last year, but there are some good finds surrounded by the usual plastic Santas. A “Festival of Lights”, featuring a walk and art projects, starts November 13th. The rest of Maastricht’s holiday offering kicks off December 3rd.

Christmas Market at the Velvet Caves, Valkenburg

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A large and entertaining visit, the Valkenburg market’s claim to fame is being underground in the marl caves that honeycomb the land beneath the town. For 4 euros, you can explore the cave at your leisure as you survey the various handmade and not-so-handmade products. There were some unique artists there last year when we visited. This Christmas market and the one in it’s sister cave (Gemeente cave) open November 19th.

Christmas Village, Liege
The “Village de Noel de Liege” is the largest holiday market of its kind in Belgium and is very popular; attracting 1 million visitors a year. Nestled in the heart of the city, you can visit the 170 holiday shops selling everything from handmade goods to decorations to traditional Christmas food and drink. Especially sought after are the traditional Walloon & Liegeois ornaments created by hand by a Liege-based couple, and there is even a sledding hill! This village opens its doors on November 26th.

Christmas City, Aachen

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If you’re looking for a German Christmas Market, the Christmas City in Aachen is a great place to start. Boasting 1.5 million visitors a year, the Christmas City features many shops with a variety of goods, lots of holiday delicacies, and a carousel. Aachen’s market is the earliest, starting on November 19th and running until Christmas Eve.

Aachen market photo by Jaycross & used under Creative Commons-By Attribution.

This post was original published at Maastricht Region: To Live.

World? Novel Writing Month

November is upon us and that means cold weather, hot coffee, stamppot, and noveling. Yes, noveling. This year I’ll be joining thousands of people around the world as we each attempt to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days as part of National Novel Writing Month.


Tchaippachino & Laptop


My first attempt at NaNoWriMo three years ago was when I was still in the United States where the event originated. I wrote in the sort of frenzied zeal you can only drum up when you don’t know what you’re doing and no one has told you that you’re doing it wrong. It was a terrible novel, but it ended up over 80,000 words long and a ton of fun to create.

When we moved to the Netherlands, much of my writing energy shifted over to blogging, but I still made an effort to write some short stories last November about a hard-boiled detective cat and his raccoon sidekick. This novel was less successful, but I was excited to discover that NaNoWriMo is really the “World Novel Writing Month” and that the Netherlands had a strong showing.  Every year the various regions are ranked by word count and the combined Holland & Belgium group had a strong showing despite our relatively small region size.

This year I know of several people here in Maastricht, as well as many other places in the Netherlands, writing their 2010 novels. Both my husband and I are participating this year, but there is always room for more so I challenge you dear reader to take on NaNoWriMo and add to the Holland & Belgium region word count. You’re only a couple days behind.

If you want to join the fun, sign up on the NaNoWriMo website and join the Europe :: Holland & Belgium region. This will give you access to the forum where all the local writers can communicate and arrange meet-ups. The forum is kept in both English and Dutch, so don’t feel intimidated about posting in the language you find most comfortable. Several write-ins have been planned throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, including a regular Thursday write-in in Maastricht and even a “traveling” write-in for people who prefer to write on the train. If you want to “friend” other writers, you can do that as well. I’m “locusta” on the site.

Once you’ve signed up, just start writing on a new project (officially a novel, but many people use the time to write for their blog or to write nonfiction). Keep your caffeinated beverage of choice near at hand and be sure to add your word count to the site and help push our region up the ranks.  Happy Writing!

This article was originally published on Maastricht Region to Live.

A Spooky Night in Limburg

I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. I’m not fond of being scared, but I do love dressing up, so I was disappointed that the holiday isn’t that popular here in the Netherlands. Maybe everyone gets their costuming energy out around Carnival. Fortunately for those of us who do like Halloween, it is catching on, especially over the border in Belgium. Here are a handful of events in the region:

Foire d’octobre Liege: Not strictly a Halloween event, this large festival and fairground hosts a Halloween parade for children and parents on November 2nd at 5 pm. There are gifts and prizes for registered participant. When you’re not marching or watching the parade, you can ride the many rides at the fair or sample some of the local food. Foire d’octobre Liege will be open from now until November 15th.

Spookstad Bokrijk: From October 30th through November 1, visitors to Hanger 58 in Bolrijk (BE) can explore a haunted town, complete with witches, horror stories, and ghosts. Hanger 58 sounds like an interesting place, with an “old town” built in 1960 to encapsulate the evolution of architecture from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Tickets cost 10 euros per person and are slightly cheaper online.

Fenix Halloween Party: For adults, Fenix Poppodium in Sittard is hosting a fancy dress dance party for Halloween on October 30th (10pm to 3 am). The cover is 5 euros.

Halloween at Kasteelpark Born: Kids can come dressed as witches and wizards to Kasteelpark on October 31st from 1pm to 4pm to celebrate the holiday. The witches of Theater Netwerk will be making spells and potions and a real bat specialist will also be there to teach kids about bats. You can participate in the Halloween activities for the cost of admission to the park.

Halloween Walk, Lummen: Families are welcome to join this 3,5 km Halloween hike and a big bonfire. The hikes run continuously from 6:30 pm to 9 pm and start at the St. Ferdinand Sports fields in Lummen (BE). Children can participate for 3 euros and adult admission is 5 euros.

Halloween op de Dijk: Visit Tongeren on October 30th and 31st from 5pm to midnight and enjoy pumpkin decorating, ring dances, food, and a 200m tunnel of horror. Admission is 1 euro.

Do you have a favorite event? Share it in the comments below.

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region to Live.

Jazz: Finding the Music in the Maastricht Region


Not from Maastricht...

Jazz is a big part of the music scene in the Maastricht region, with many local and nearby musicians who play live on a weekly basis. A little searching can usually turn up a least one musical event at a cafe or a concert, and regional musicians sell their work both in stores and online. As autumn settles in around us, two jazz festivals are on the horizon for lovers of this type of music: Jeker Jazz and the MECC Jazz Maastricht.

Jeker Jazz (14-17 October): The first of these two festivals, Jeker Jazz (last year called Jazz Promenade) is a four day event in Maastricht’s downtown Jeker quarter. The event focuses on admission-free jazz, blues, funk, and related music played live in various cafes and pubs, mostly from regional musicians but some do come from all over. This year is its 20th anniversary! Dan and I attended one of the concerts last year, and had an enjoyable evening. But show up early; the cafes fill quickly.

The MECC Jazz Maastricht (29-30 October): The MECC Jazz Maastricht festival is a new event this year, but its roots began in the 1990s with another event called Jazz Mecca. Located (naturally) at the MECC, attendees will be treated to a mix of international and regional musicians as well as great food and drink. You can check out the program and purchase tickets on their website. Entrance is €42,50 for one day, or €72,50 for the complete event.

Beyond the individual festivals, live music is quite easy to find in the Maastricht region. If you’re looking for live events in Maastricht, try Jazz Maastricht, where they maintain a calendar of music events and also have more information about festivals when they take place. For Limburg area events beyond Maastricht you can try JazzClub Zuid-Limburg which also has an itinerary.

In all likelihood these events and websites only scratch the surface of live music in the Maastricht Region. Do you have a favorite jazz event you’d like to share? Please add it in the comments below.


Source: This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Image Source: by pedrosimoes7 on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons By Attribution.

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