Author: Laura

Anonymous, France, after Gioacchino Giuseppe Serangeli, Napoleon and Alexander I Say Farewell in Tilsit in 1807, c. 1810. Oil on canvas
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

One woman, two men. History in the Hermitage

I had seen the posters of the Hermitage all over the city: Alexander, Napoleon & Josephine: a story of friendship, war and art. The website speaks of “Female power” and  the exhibition is at my favorite museum, the Hermitage. So I decided to visit and get inspired by these ‘three historical giants’. To start with the negatives; I hardly got any “female power” vibe. Yes, Joséphine collected her own art, and was popular with the people and the two men. So popular that even after divorcing her for not giving him children, she remained empress of France. (It was a riddle to me why he’d divorce her because of that – she did have two kids of an earlier marriage, so one could argue she should be able to deliver..?) There was no story of how they met, or what Joséphine brought him. Yes, mention was made of her beauty and intelligence, but the exhibition spoke of no real accomplishments in my opinion. That Alexander and Napoleon liked each other became clear. Also because of …

The collection of Eva Maria Hatschek

Social Design at the Temporary Fashion Museum

What is a better way to spend a saturday than the opening of the Temporary Fashion Museum? Another exhibition my sister did project management for. I have to say, it took some effort (the A16 to Rotterdam was closed and Ms. Navigation was unable to give me a decent detour) but it was an afternoon well spent. Fleece or Freak? Did you know that one fleece sweater contains the same amount of plastic as many plastic bottles? That’s a whole new approach to recycling, don’t you think. The exhibition of Conny Groenewegen made me aware of this. Thousands (8kg I heard my sister mention) of fleece sweaters were cut into one piece, tied together and used as one big thread to create a new piece of fabric. Recycling at large. It got me thinking about fashion and recycling. Hacked Alexander van Slobbe and Francisco van Benthum, who organized “Hacked”, also thought of that. This exhibition told the story of how large fashion stores such as H&M and Zara, run their logistics so smooth and at large, that …

Chanel

Book review: Coco Chanel, The Legend and The Life

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I chose to read the biography of Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie. Was it all about fashion? I remember a movie I saw about her, and what I remember most is that Coco Chanel was not at all the stylish, female lady I thought she was: more of a tomboy. But I wás curious about the empire she built. Especially back in those days, it was not simple to be a business woman, I presume. What inspired her Chanels childhood is a bit of a tragedy. A poor family: a father who abandoned her, her mother who died while the young girls were at home. Picardie speaks of the influence her father had: she cut her hair short because her father didn’t like the smell of dirty hair. Supposedly, her christening gown, sent by her father from the United States, was the first dress she had a true emotion with, and became the inspiration to the many dresses that would follow. In many ways, it seems like Chanels …

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Book review: Reset, make the most of your stress

Standing at the Self Help Books area in Barnes And Nobles, New York, I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of topics one can help herself in. I was in New York for a short holiday, to get away from it all and energize, and I heard my therapist in the back of my mind, saying “recharging in NY is not a solution, Laura. It is an instrument, but it’s effects will wear out. You’ll have to make real changes”. Yeah yeah yeah. So, stressed out from all the choices in self help books, I stumbled upon this one. RESET: Make the most of your stress. Admittingly, the book appealed to me because of its positive approach towards stress. I happen to think that stress is part of life, and is quite good in some areas. Where would you be without a little adrenaline, right? Well, it took me nearly two months to read it. I have to say, just opening the book gave me an uncomfortable feeling (must.do.something.about.life). But yes, I managed. And honestly, …

Kasteel de Haar Utrecht

Society networking: herring, castles and hats

The location: Castle De Haar. The dresscode: Tenue de Ville with hat. The occassion: the first herring catch of the year… Yes, I attended this oldest dutch networking event, as I was invited by a customer of ours.    Herring The typical dutch tradition of eating herring… I always find it somewhat funny, that foreigners cannot imagine eating raw fish like that. Well… ever had Sashimi? Yes, I happen to love herring. So this was a true treat. The “54e Nationale Haringpartij” had ten fishmongers representing their location, and were judged on originality in representing the herring. So, we tried herring on ryebread, herring sushi, herring salad, herring soup… I was actually quite glad there also was some paella as well. I was too late for the Oysters though, bummer… Schuitemaker Vis, from Katwijk, won the contest.  Society networking This was the 54th version of the event, a true society and closed networking event. As I got the invitation one day before (great planning..) I had to quickly origanise a hat. (Yay! A hat event!) …

Personal Trainer, with his back facing the camera, looking at a gym

Personal training… Lessons for managers

I have been working out with a personal trainer for almost ten years. When I worked in the United States, I first came across the phenomenon and, as my prior US adventure had me gain 10kg, I was determined to prevent that from happening, so I got some help… Nowadays, my weekly personal training session is one thing I cannot live without. Not just for my shape and overall condition, it is also a great way to get your mind of things, release stress, anger (lóóóve boxing), and to be honest, my poor trainers were often half shrink as well. Thanks guys, for sticking with me 😉 Today I was training with my current Italian trainer, who worked me very hard, and said, “Yes I know, I’m a son of a b*tch, sorry” . I responded: ” Well, I need you to be. So no apologies.” He told me about this client of his, whos former trainer was really nice. He drank coffee with him, asked him about his wellbeing, explained everything twice, didn’t give …

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London: Shakshuka at Nopi 

On a short business trip to London, I noticed that Nopi, an Ottolenghi restaurant, was located near our hotel, Le Meridien Piccadilly. We did not have much time, so I opted for brunch there. Of course, I can’t resist getting to know Ottolenghi!  The vegetable chef For those of you who don’t know Yotam Ottolenghi; he’s an Isreali chef, based in London, who wrote various cookbooks. He is well-known for his dishes in which vegetables play the biggest role. I actually read about him in a Sylvia Witteman column for Magazine Linda, I think, in which she complained that since Ottolenghi, everyone appears to add pomegranate seeds to every dish His bestselling book, Plenty, just had a successor: Plenty more. I’ve never tried any of his recipes, so a good introduction would be to eat at one of his restaurants:)  Breakfast or brunch Considering the limited time we had, I opted for brunch at 11. Which is, I now know, not really a brunch time. Oh well. Breakfast it is. The restaurant itself was quite …

Calendar.On Blank Desk.

The challenge, second week: all setup

So, I decided to Get Prepared. I started the second week, with a thorough plan. No more improvising groceries. No more thoughts about outfits. So, I made a change, starting with groceries. One of the reasons why I always end up going to the grocery store three(!) times, is because I think of a recipe I want to cook. Then, I tend to forget half of the groceries. And afterwards, I add a desert to the menu. And guess what, then I need to get those ingredients… Again. This time, I was going to do it differently. I found two great recipes: a lentil salad and a South African meatloaf dish. And, I decided to order my groceries. Ordering online is lovely, because you actually can use the search box to find ingredients. No more strolling through the supermarket. Oh, and if they don’t have an ingredient, you can just google ‘replacement for…’ So, my online grocery basket was filled. Took me only 15 mins. The biggest challenge was to be home at the time …

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Pikaplant: funding to water my plants

I came home one evening and emptied my mailbox. To my suprise, between all the flyers (I still need a sticker on my mailbox. Note to self.) I found this little card. It had a picture of a beautifully designed plateau with lovely fresh plants. But what triggered me, was the “Kickstarter” logo. Kickstarter Several months earlier, I was introduced to kickstarter: a platform for crowdfunding. At that time, my office was working on our own crowdfunding platform, so ofcourse this one intrigued me. The products, and especially the movies of their really inspired creators, really energized me. I remember a man from Kenia who made belts and bracelets with a story: you were able to see where, by whom an how they were created. And supported the local economy by funding. Very Artisan. I also remember “Homey”, the voice controlled house automation. Siri – eat your heart out Online meets mailmarketing So, I was very surprised to see this product, that is on kickstarter.com, on a postcard in my mailbox. No stamp, no address, …

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Book review: No excuses!

Yes, I am a sucker for books about success and willpower. This is one is exactly about that. No excuses! Brian Tracy helps you building successful habits, by becoming self-disciplined. The book starts with saying that self-discipline, is thé one thing that can change your life. It is written for people who are ‘hungry’ for more, do more, have more. Well, I can certainly relate to that. The book says that, in order to achieve that, you must become a different person. Interesting… There are over a thousand things that can make you more successful, but without self-discipline (“the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not”) they won’t work. Eliminating enemies to success So, to become self-disciplined, you need to eliminate your two worst enemies: “Path of Least Resistance” (taking short cuts) and “The Expediency factor” (thinking short term). You must be able to deny yourself the distractions, and live for the delayed gratification, instead of the instant, because short term gain can …