Friday, March 30, 2018

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #006

Hi! Oh wow, the first quarter of 2018 is almost over. Time flies so fast, and it's time again to blog about what has transpired in the last 2 months, January and February, the deep winter months of the Netherlands and Europe.

The highlights were our wintersport holiday in the French Alps, calling in at 2 Dutch towns, Kampen in the northeast and Gorinchem in the southwest (click on the read more link and scroll down) and visiting suppliers and design ateliers for our house project.

Let's start with January...

Dutchman and I tend to keep the Christmas tree up until the second weekend of January when we finally bring it down. We have a fake tree but when we move into our new house, which is almost twice the size of what we have right now, we are open to having a real pine tree for Christmas. Although the house will be delivered at the end of this year (2018), it won't be ready for Christmas just yet as we still need to do some interior design and furnishing. So the real tree will have to wait for the 2019 holiday season.

January was spent mostly working on the house, with deadlines on the electricity, plumbing, bathroom, kitchen, extensions, etcetera. It was a bit stressful since it is difficult for us to foresee how we are going to live in the new house. One would only truly know your home habits and how you live when you actually live in the (new) house. So having an electrical plug near the dining table might not be handy as initially perceived.

In the picture above is a sample of a kitchen and dining room of the model house we have. We will have a kitchen island as well but it will be more than twice bigger and wider than in the picture.

January for us also means wintersport holiday in the Alps.

We have been going to the French Alps for years, other times we go to the Austrian Alps. This year we went to Val Cenis ski resort in the French Alps for a week of skiing and snowboarding. I will be posting more pictures and stories about our holiday there soon.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

This was a quickie lunch I made in the weekend for myself, salami and cheese on wheat bread. I placed this on the oven grill. Then added some spinach for measure. Spinach leaves are great for salads you know and I love eating them raw.

My neice who is studying Hospitality and Tourism management spent 6 months in Bangkok, Thailand for an internship at a 5-star hotel. She returned to the Netherlands last January and we had a little celebration for her homecoming at her parent's/my sister in law's place.

She managed to do some short trips in Asia which she really enjoyed very much. And that monchou taart (cake) is one of my favourites. So simple, yet so delicious.

We visited Kampen!

Dutchman and I went to visit Bru and her beau in Kampen for dinner at their place. But before dinner we did a little walk in the city centre. It was freezing, with below 0 temperatures and some flurries. We were a little bit cold, also because of the windchill factor, so we decided to hit the Het Stomme van Kampen bar and have some drinks. It's said that the bar is very old and I must say though that it was a nice place as well.

Since Bru and her beau were not in the mood to cook, we ordered Chinese takeaway for dinner which we picked up after the drinks. Then we did a little drive in the surroundings of Kampen, checking out some of the nice houses for sale.

The Chinese takeaway food was getting through to our noses and stomach inside the car, so we decided to go back to Bru and her beau's place for dinner. We did not wait any longer and attacked the delicious Chinese food with gusto. Yum =)

It was a great evening just talking about all things in general, work, career, money, houses, and life per se.

The town of Kampen in Overijssel in the northeast of the Netherlands.

The location of Kampen in the Netherlands.

Kampen is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from Utrecht by car and 1 hour and 15 minutes from Amsterdam, also by car. There are train connections serving the city as well.

Beer and bitterballen in Het Stomme van Kampen bar.

Then came February and this was the lowest temperature we've had so far that I was able to record from the dashboard of my car, well at least in Utrecht. -4.5C. Little did I know that March would be the coldest month though this winter!

This is my usual breakfast every weekday: Greek yogurt with muesli, wheat flakes, and blueberries.

For this one, I added some strawberries. The bowl is really small so this is a good portion for me since Greek yogurt can be very filling and fatty too, although on the good side. This holds me up for a couple of hours in the morning.

Dutchman and I visited the showroom called Michel & Oprey Beisterveld in Vianen, which is a supplier of natural stone. We were looking for inspiration for the flooring of the house. Because we will have the heating on the floors, we cannot have wooden flooring on top of it, so we are entertaining the idea of having natural stone, among other choices such as ceramic and PVC.

The above picture is a modern kitchen island... which is the same length as ours, except that our kitchen island will be a bit wider.

We also visited Van der Donk Interiors and I was again inspired to be creative.

Did you know that I have a degree in Fine Arts with a major in Interior Design? Although it was very shortlived, I was an Interior Designer in my previous life. I am now again very much inspired to create some arty pieces.

For the new house, I have so many plans!

I want to design and make my own hanging lamp/chandelier, as well as paint my own painting that I will both hang in the dining room. I am designing a vertical garden for the back wall of the kitchen which is going to be stunning. Then I am designing and creating my own wall mirror for the living room which will be huge, funky yet an elegant work of art. I am also looking at having a modern-style electric fireplace in the living room. In the hallway between the entree, living room and dining room, I plan to place the existing dressoir we have and hang pictures of each country I have visited on the wall, all black and white with thin silver frames.

And this is just the ground floor of the house! I have more plans for the garden which will have dining and sitting nooks, our bedroom with my own little corner on the first floor, the Dutchman's work/game room, our walk-in closet, and the second floor which will be a spare bedroom, the laundry room, and my own atelier.

Because I am more into the minimalist modern design with an accent on classical pieces, all major furniture and objects in the house will be very well thought of. I do not like clutter. I prefer to have items that have a purpose and function. The coming months will be very exciting times for sure =)

We also visited Gorinchem!

The visit was spontaneous. We were in the area checking out Woonboulevard Spijksepoort and got a bit hungry. So we drove into town and were very much pleased with what we saw. Gorinchem old town center is small and pretty. It used to be a fortified town, with city walls, towers and stone gates and a few of them still remain.

Fact: The Netherlands has many of these charming fortified towns and they are great to visit during spring and summer when the weather is better and the cafe terraces are open.

We managed to find a snack bar just a bit outside the center where we had some patat (fries) and cheese sticks. What is so interesting with the snack bar is that the owner has a collection of a Christmas village on display, complete with a rail track, shops, and what not ornaments.

The nearest big cities to Gorinchem are Rotterdam and Utrecht, approximately 36-38 minutes with the car. Amsterdam and The Hague are about an hour.

One of the remaining old gates in Gorinchem.

The snackbar in Gorinchem with a large collection of Christmas village ornaments.

Dutchman and I also did a long drive on the Waaldijk (a dike and a road), along the Waal River, which is a distributary river of the River Rhine. The sceneries were very nice and relaxing and typically Dutch.

We actually do this from time to time. Instead of taking the highway, we do a detour and drive on the dike and the small roads.

Fort Vuren on the Waaldijk is a protected monument and is part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, a 17th century line of defense for the Netherlands. It is a UNESCO world heritage site that runs 85 kilometers with 46 forts. Fort Vuren is one of them.

This is Slot Loevestein (Loevestein Castle) which I have visited many years ago.

The Waal River. This river can go up, thus the surrounding areas are protected by a dike. The dikes usually function as roads as well.

Dutchman had a party to attend so I treated myself to some KFC, haha. I eat this every once in a while, like every 3-4 months. I prefer to eat the hot and crispy chicken wings. It's one of my comfort/bad foods =)

This is also a new KFC in Utrecht, in Leidse Rijn which was opened late last year.

I was not expecting Dutchman to be giving me flowers on Valentine's Day because we are not into this kind of thing but he came home with these flowers.

Before I could open my mouth and say, "Why are the heck are they pink!?" (because I do not like the pink colour at all). He said, "All the other colours were gone, they were sold out!"

This is a very vegan lunch at work.

I made this myself at lunchtime, just quickly really. I threw in beets, avocados, radish, yellow paprika, pumpkin seeds, on top of the romaine lettuce. Then I sprinkled salt and pepper and some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Delicious!

Here at work I was having an alphabet pretzel snack. I cannot live without my reading glasses anymore. I am really getting old.

That's it for January and February folks =)

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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