Saturday, December 29, 2018

My Daily Life in the Netherlands 009

I have been wanting to post a daily life update in the Netherlands a while back but I just didn't have the time to collate all the pictures I took. So, the idea was to do an every 2-month update (ideally monthly) and now I am 6 months too late! Goodness gracious, haha.


I took so many food pictures that I do not know how I am able to post them all of them here? I have to make choices. This is one of our weekend breakfasts. 


Driving on the Lekdijk (Lek dike) in Utrecht.

The struggle is, I have LOADS of pictures and they are all over in my albums (downloaded from my camera) and my phones. My travel albums are organised according to the places I have visited per year, so the times and dates sometimes do not always correspond especially for local travels where I have multiple visits. I have to look into each album to check which photo's are for a particular month. This is going into the details kind of work, ugh.

So for this daily life update post now, I am doing a 3-month timeline: August, September, and October. I will do my best to post the last months in a few days. This is important to me because these kinds of posts I need in this journal when I look back 3, 5 and 10 years from now.

So I guess you know what my New Year's Resolution will be. Do a daily life update every 2 months or monthly!

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

AUGUST 2018

The month of August is the height of summer and business is slow at work. On the personal side, Dutchman and I have been canvassing local dealers and shops for the interior materials of our house. I have also been busy in the kitchen, so as always, every single day. Preparing for food and cooking is like therapy for me.


Two of my favourite vegetables here: Green peas and cauliflower. I love roasting cauliflowers but this one is sauteed with onions.

Beginning of August I went to Braintree in Essex, England for work. I stayed there for a few days visiting our office and facility, as well a customer in Ipswich, which is an hour further away.

I rented a car and it was the second time of the year that I drove on the other side of the road. The first one this year was last May in New Zealand. Driving on the other side of the road with a stickshift car during travels is a struggle, because, by the time you are used to it, you are leaving.


My hotel room in Braintree.


A warning notice outside Tesco supermarket. I find this pretty ironic but it seems that these signs are typically English or a local practice to prevent break-ins. 


Braintree town in Essex, England (UK).

When I got back at home in Utrecht, Netherlands, I was also back in the kitchen, a favourite zone in my home. We eat most of the times at home, probably 90%  of our dinners. We only eat dinners outside when we are on holiday and a few special occasions. Nevertheless, I love to cook and the Dutchman prefers to eat in privacy. Win-win.


One of our many dinners.


Fresh and plump blueberries on top of the biscuit and sprinkling of powdered sugar. We had this to go with our afternoon tea.

We went to IJsselstein to visit a stone floor tile dealer. We already know what type of floor tile we wanted for the house, which will be a ceramic stone in wooden style, but moreover, we have also made a decision which model of the ceramic tile. This decision, in fact, took us months to decide. So we have also shortlisted the dealers and we are just doing the rounds for the final decision.

We take our spending seriously, especially when they go in the thousands of Euros, they are very well thought of and calculated.


This is IJsselstein town, not too far away from Utrecht city center.

Then we visited the Dutch mother-in-law and her two (2) lovely cats, Lucy and Puka. The cats have grown on us now and we spoil them to bits. When we visit, we always give them a hug and petting session.


This is Puka, the younger cat.


The Dutch mother always serves us tea with something, and she prepared a biscuit smeared with butter, topped with fresh strawberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar. 

So on the weekends, Dutchman and I are busy running around canvassing many shops. For this weekend, we have surveyed a number of hardware and garden stores for the trees that we will plant in our garden. I have an idea what kind of tree it will be but there are so many types.


This tree which looks like an oversized bonsai is not cheap.


Driving on the dike and passing this farmhouse selling their own produce: cheese, butter, apple juice, jam, and syrup. I would love to be partly self-sufficient.


We managed to catch a glimpse of a flock of birds above the dikes as well.

I went to Amersfoort to visit an important customer together with a colleague. After the meeting, we had some lunch at the IKEA nearby. IKEA is really handy, not just for the home, but for business as well. They have affordable, fast and healthy food =)


My IKEA lunch in Amersfoort.

I also had dinner with a visiting colleague from the UK. Sometimes it is obligatory or out of courtesy to take them out to dinner.

Loft 88 located outside Utrecht city center on Biltsestraatweg was a good place because it has a nice outdoor terrace and there is free parking. And because I have a hybrid car, I always get an available parking space. Most parking lots have specials spots for electric and hybrid cars.


We both ordered the Fish and Chips. Yum!

Again, because of our house (in construction), weekends are spent checking out hardware and garden shops, home decor stores and interior material dealers. This one was in Leerdam I believe.

Oh, we have signed the purchase of our ceramic stone floor with a dealer in Leerdam, so that's like one task down among a mountain of others, haha. But indeed, it was a relief after months of searching, comparing and visiting shop dealers.


I have this idea of creating my own lamp for the dining area. I want 3 huge lamps hanging above the dining table which will be a table length of 2 to 2.5 meters. I still have to buy the new dining table, but at least I know what size I want it to be.


Karwei is a home decor shop and this in Leerdam. We have just signed the purchase of our ceramic stone floor tiles from the dealer across this shop. So before leaving, we decided to stop here to have a look in the shop.


On the way home, we passed by this herd of cows.

Weekends are also time for personal errands and I prefer to do this in Utrecht city center. The city center is still going through the facelift renovation but there are already major changes in place. I cannot wait to see the final makeover.


The Singel canal is now back! This is the view from the new Hoog Catharijne shopping mall to the Singel and Tivoli.

We invite the Dutch mother from time to time, during weekends, to have dinner with us at home. When she is around I would usually whip up a 3-course menu. It is the perfect chance for me to experiment in the kitchen. We had some pasta for this evening as our second course.


These candle holders I bought in Cebu, the Philippines many moons ago.

Dutchman and I love to walk and when we are not in the forest flexing our leg muscles, we would make time to go out for a stroll in the nearby neighbourhoods. Here we went out for a walk to our newly under construction house and we took the route via Papendorp, which is a business district in Utrecht.

Papendorp used to be a massive field with very little development. 15 years ago I bike here from Utrecht to Nieuwegein Skipiste for my skiing lessons. The place was so bald, there were only a few buildings standing. Now it's a real business park.


Crossing the Prins Clausbrug (Prince Claus Bridge) connecting Papendorp and Kanaleneiland neighbourhoods.


Here at Papendorp, a quick stop to take pictures.


Passing the A2 highway which I drive on during the weekdays.


And seeing some sheep in between as well.

This is another dinner meal at home. Noodles with vegetables are the bomb. I love them with lots of cabbage. I also love it when the noodles are al dente.


Noodles are my favourite comfort food, whether dry or in soup version.

Towards the end of August, I went to London to visit a customer. This particular customer has an office in one of the prime office towers in the City.

Well, I had a serious travel blooper. I forgot to pack my black high heels! Luckily, I realised this mistake while I was still in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and quickly went in search for something. I found H&M selling black pumps for just EUR 19.99! *whew*

I was also so glad I brought an umbrella with me because it rained cats and dogs on the day of my meeting. Uh well, what's new in London? But seriously, I forgot my heels but not the umbrella, haha.


I stayed in this funky hotel which was just a few minutes walk to my meeting.


H&M in Schiphol Airport selling these very comfortable (that was a surprise) velvety black pumps for just EUR 19.99! What a life saver, haha.


While in London, I managed to visit the Sky Garden in the City during lunch. You need to book in advance to get access and a visiting slot. It is free though.

Back home in the Netherlands, Dutchman and I were invited to a summer evening dinner at the sister in law. It's warm so we eat outside in the garden. Isn't this green cosy nook just lovely?

Oh, I cannot wait for us to have our own garden soon too in the new house!


Dinner al fresco with the family.

SEPTEMBER 2018

The days of September went quickly for us. Weekends are still spent doing the rounds at the home boulevards and checking out hardware and garden stores. We were not buying anything, we were just canvassing and getting inspiration.


I am eyeing a similar mini-daybed for my walk-in closet. Not sure yet with the colour.


This Poffertjes (similar to blinis) stand is a regular in the weekend at the Home Boulevard in Utrecht.


We went to IKEA and afterward, we had some early dinner here.


Fish and Chips for moi while Dutchman settled for the quintessential Swedish meatballs with cranberry compote and gravy sauce. Not bad. Yup, a date in IKEA.


IKEA Utrecht is the biggest IKEA in the Netherlands. On top of the store and the huge parking garage, is a football field. It also has a large restaurant. 


We saw this somewhere near Leerdam. We initially thought -- What the heck is Bruce Springsteen doing in this village of nowhere? So we stopped the car to have a good read of the poster. "The Boss" is not coming to town, it's a local tribute concert.

Mornings during the weekends are full breakfasts for Dutchman and moi. We normally have pancakes on a Saturday, so when Sunday comes around, I make something else like eggs. Sometimes I make the sunny side up version with bacon and cheese similar to the Dutch "Uitsmijter".


Burrata with avocado and Roma tomatoes and a half omelet. Fruits for breakfast are a staple.

Did I say earlier that Dutchman and I love to hike? Hiking helps clear the stress in our heads. It also keeps us fit. When you get older, you need to move regularly.

For a change of scenery, we went to Rhenen in the eastern part of Utrecht province. We hiked through plantation fields, the rugged terrain forest, and passing by the Grebbeberg Military War Cemetery, the War Memorial and the Grebbeberg Museum. We didn't expect the latter but very glad we found it.


Moi leading the way =)


We passed by the Grebbeberg Military War Cemetery, the Memorial and the Museum about the Second World War. We stopped here for a bit.


The War Museum at the Grebbeberg in Rhenen.

When I have the time in the weekend, I cook and bake quickie items such as these puff pastry with apple bits in it.

When we move into the new house, I will for sure be cooking and baking more. My new kitchen island is more than 3 meters long! 3.20 meters long by 1.30 meters deep to be exact. It is massive and will be the stellar of the house. I cannot wait to use it. #iamexcited


Having afternoon tea at home with my homemade puff apple pastry.

This is one of our weekend city walks where we took the Oog in Al - Lombok route. Ah, it was nice to be able to get out and grab some fresh air. During the stroll, we encountered this ginger cat.


The Munt Museum (Money Museum) in Utrecht. This is where the Dutch Guilder was printed in the past (before the Euro).

Ooops, excuse me. Dutchman on the paparazzi mode here, haha.

I cannot remember why I was sleeping on the sofa in the living room. I think I woke up very early and decided to go back to sleep, but instead of going back to the bedroom, I ended up taking the couch. You have those days sometimes.


Sleeping soundly in the living room.


Then I made breakfast. One of my many versions of an Uitsmijter.

Dutchman and I checked out this beach in Leidse Rijn called the Haarijnseplas. I have been intrigued by this piece of water because its big. There is a resident cafe restaurant called Key West. I am sure it will be very busy here in the summer.


The beach on Haarijnseplas in Leidse Rijn, Utrecht. Unfortunately, September is not a beach weather month. At our new house, we also have a beach (a lake actually) 100 meters away.


So we just had tea instead at Key West.

In September, I went on business travel again. I flew to Dublin, Ireland for a meeting with a customer. It's my second time in the city so I know my way around. I would love to come back to Ireland for pleasure and do a country road trip. That would be fantastic.


Moi strolling along the River Liffey in Dublin.


The always lively in the evening, the Temple Bar District. I managed to go in here to catch some of the singing and merrymaking.


Ireland is a country with a burdened past with clashes and uprising, be it in politics, country jurisdiction or religion. 

There is always time for tea back at home in Utrecht, the Netherlands. This one I believe is together with the Dutch mother-in-law who was visiting us for afternoon tea and dinner.

This porcelain set is the Royal Doulton, the Pacific collection.


I baked those delicious bacon strips wrapped around the puff pastry, while the Dutch mother brought those cheesy crackers.


The second-course dinner is a beef burger and some potatoes. There was a heap of vegetables that went with this that is not on the picture by the way.

Dutchman was in the mood for shopping. He said he needed new clothes and I can only say, "Yeah, about time!". So that's new polo shirts, new pullovers, new socks, and new pants. So I went shopping with him. To be clear here, I did not shop for myself, instead, I was a mere company... and well, a fashion adviser, haha.

I do not have much patience with shopping unless I am on holiday, or I am on a mission and badly needed something.


The Utrecht tram that plies Utrecht to Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.


This is the new square called Plein (when translated to English means Square) outside the Utrecht Centraal Station and Hoog Catharijne Shopping Mall. Beautiful canopy design.


After shopping, Dutchman and I went to Graaf Floris Cafe Restaurant for tea and appelbol (Apple Ball). Highly recommend this place especially their apple balls! So delicious.


The Graaf Floris cafe restaurant.

One evening the Dutchman had some work event and didn't eat dinner at home. It was an opportunity, or shall I say, the chance, to eat some of my comfort food.

My comfort food is usually noodles, seafood, and vegetables. I didn't have noodles and seafood in the kitchen but I have lots of vegetables and some rice paper! Oh, stinky soft old cheese is another comfort food. Yum.


I was digging some tofu and lots of vegetables. Those are lettuce, carrots, spring onions and fried tofu wrapped in rice paper. I had some grilled sausage (in slices), Danish Blue cheese, and seedless grapes.


Another one of the dinner meals at home. We love eating vegetables.

OCTOBER 2018

October promises a number of family gatherings in the Netherlands, with a couple of members in the family celebrating their birthdays. But in the meantime, I still have my tofu obsession...


Tofu snack, this one with raw white radish and spring onions. Delicious to eat with balsamic white vinegar, some chili, and Vietnamese spiced salt.

I went to Enschede, in the German border of the Netherlands for a business meeting, after which I went to the city center to quickly grab some lunch. It was my first time in Enschede and I would have wanted to stay a bit longer.


The Oude Markt (Old Market Square) in Enschede.


The Enschede Town Hall's design is said to be inspired by the City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dinner at home was a fresh and light meal consisting of pumpkin soup (not in picture), some bread, and this green salad (of Little Gem) with sauteed pork shawarma, onions, and garlic, and then topped with pomegranate seeds.


Fresh and light but filling.

The Dutch mother-in-law celebrated another year with us. She invited the family to have pancakes with her at our favourite pancake house, the Theehuijs Rhijnauwen Pannenkoekenhuis in Bunnik, Utrecht. Last year, we were here for her birthday as well.

We have been going to this pancake house for years already. It's become a local and family tradition. Pancakes are typically Dutch.


The birthday girl =)


My pancake of choice for the evening with lots of almonds and cinnamon.


I could not finish this pancake all by myself.

The weekend thereafter I was craving for seafood, which is what happens when you watch all the seafood boil Mukbangs on Youtube, haha. Yup, I am a fan and I seriously watch it.

So I went to Utrecht and had a King Crab leg at the Seafood Bar. Expensive but worth it! I may need to pop in here from time to time when my seafood craving gets wild.  I love fresh oysters, crab, lobster, prawns, squid, and all the shellfishes.


Moi here at the Seafood Bar in Utrecht. That crab leg alone costs EUR 32!


The steps on the Utrecht Centraal Station and City Hall (white building).


I usually walk from home to Utrecht city center.

Ah, it's weekend afternoon tea time again at home with the Dutchman.

I have also started doing some sketches and floor plans for the house. I still have a lot to do. I want to be able to have some impression per room. Some of our furnitures will stay and a number will go. We are not rushing to furnish the house though, and we prefer to do it one at a time. I go for quality stuff that will last a long time and I hate clutter, so less is more. That's part of the concept.


This is croissant dough that I stretched to form like like baguettes with sharp edges. We ate this with butter, fig jam and powdered sugar. Very simple but delicious.


The garden floor plan sketch I made for the house. It's a minimalist garden with a play on the tiles and stones. There will be 2 parts, a lounge, and an eating area. I will probably have 4 trees at the back to serve as a privacy screen. The garden walls will be made of partly stone (gabions).

We had great warm weather in October so Dutchman and I went to check out the beach at Katwijk aan Zee for a stroll. It was quite busy there!


I was playing Pokemon here. Yup, I play it from time to time. Lots of Pokemon monsters on this beach!


An orange sea of goodness. Sunset at Katwijk aan Zee.

Back at home on a Sunday morning.... er brunch I mean.


I eat one (1) egg while the Dutchman eats two (2).

We had a boating excursion in Amsterdam!

The idea came from the brother and sister-in-law. The Dutch sister was celebrating her birthday and wants something different this time. She would love to spend it outdoors and with the great weather so far, the boating in Amsterdam was the best idea. And we were invited =)


The birthday girl on the boat.


Amsterdam houses, bridges and canals.


We enjoyed this boat excursion very much.

And another weekend with the Dutch mother having afternoon tea with us at home. I made this apple pastry myself and this was quite yummy. The silver teapot I bought in Marrakesh, Morocco many years ago.

This is another China set I have, Maxwell & Williams. I mainly use this for dinner and I may need to buy extra when we move to the new house.


I like the crunchy appeal of this apple pastry.

When Dutchman and I are not strolling, we take the bike and check out the neighbourhoods in Utrecht. We haven't been to the new Leidse Rijn centrum, so we mounted our bikes and pedaled to this new place. We want to try something different and new. Isn't it great when you can just go with your bike anywhere in the city?

The idea of the Utrecht municipality is to create Leidse Rijn as the second largest city after Utrecht in the Utrecht province.


The new Jumbo Foodmarkt is a new supermarket + food market concept of Jumbo that I really like.


At the main shopping square of Leidse Rijn.

This is one of the many dinners we have at home with the Dutch mother-in-law as our guest.

I made some beef stew Bourguignon style here for our main with fried potatoes as a side and some salad portion. The beef stew took me more than 2 hours to prepare because the meat has to become tender and flaky.


A well-balanced diet consists of lots of vegetables. I am just lucky that I adore vegetables. It's my go-to food.

We are back on the hiking trail!

The family went on a forest walk which became a long-winded one. We parked our cars in Soest and took the train to Amersfoort where we started the hike. We got lost somehow but managed to be on track. While all this happened, I was playing Pokemon and was able to catch a lot of Pokemon monsters in the forest, hehe.


Regrouping to check out the map. We got lost.


A desert in the Utrechtseheuvelrug in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, I am still obsessed with tofu.

This is fresh organic tofu and I cooked (fry) this myself. Those chillies are very hot! Delicious to eat with fresh raw radish. Sprinkle some vinegar and soy sauce and maybe add a bit of onion. A great in-between light snack!


The tofu is organic.

I go to Brussels, Belgium on a regular basis for business meetings and this was one of the drives back to the Netherlands, and actually, I was already in the Netherlands when this traffic situation happened. There was an accident involved. When its turtle moving traffic, what do you do? Nah, no selfie for me, but I took this picture of the road warning sign.

Nonetheless, I got home very late.


The traffic was due to an accident.

That's it for August, September, and October folks!

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Jo Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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