Saturday, March 09, 2019

My Daily Life in the Netherlands 010

I quite feel guilty about this blog. What do they say? Promises are made to be broken? But then again I do not mind posting late. Seriously, I actually feel the pressure of the mountain load of backlog posts I have. I really want to post more often, but.... *sigh* At this moment, it is what it is.

So back to my 10th edition of My Daily Life in the Netherlands. It is winter season!


The Dam Square and Dam Palace in Amsterdam taken in December.


Lots of dinners at home during the cold months.

The culprit: Real life gets in the way. Always. The Dutchman and I are also in a very busy period now with the house. It will only get busier because the house will be delivered in 2 weeks time. I am very excited! But I can also feel the enormous stress building up. Just thinking about the tasks at hand is overwhelming. Because we are not selling our current place (we plan on renting this out), we will have to do some renovations on top of the work that we will be doing for our new house. Plus we both work full time with demanding jobs. Luckily, we do not have kids. A blessing in disguise? Haha.

This blog will suffer for sure. I am already missing it, seriously. I used to post regularly, like almost every day. Nowadays, I am super drained when I get home and I just can't focus on blogging. But I love blogging. I love journaling a part of my life and posting the pictures I made... so I will definitely keep doing this when I have the time.

Nevertheless, here are some snapshots of my winter months: November, December, January, and February.

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

NOVEMBER

The month of November was a busy month. The month also signals the beginning of the winter and Christmas holiday season and two of the local specialties that I always look forward to are the oliebollen and appel beignets. The bakery near our place had them early so I bought some.


Oliebollen and appel beignets. They are only baked and sold during the holiday season.

We went to our niece's birthday. She lives with her boyfriend in the center of IJsseltein. The kids have grown up now and have their own lives. Sooner or later they will be squirting out little mini me's. I tell you, I feel old like I am now from a generation far away.


The main shopping street in the old town center of IJsselstein.

I went to the headquarters of the famous Dutch bank, ABN Amro for an event at the CIRCL, which is a building made of sustainable materials. It is pretty impressive. There are a lot of things and activities going on here, so if you are visiting Amsterdam Zuid (Zuidas), do check this place out. They have a hip restaurant too where you can hang out.


The Restaurant of the CIRCL.

At the basement of the CIRCL we get our coffee and you have to order in coffee sign language. In order to help guests, they have a touch screen menu wherein when you tap the coffee of your choice and it will then show a quick video of how to order in sign language. Cool!


My first time to order sign language coffee!


Spotted these super cool lounge cushion mustache in the basement of CIRCL as well. 

Dutchman and I went to visit the Dutch Father at the Noordenveld cemetery. It's Lichtjesavond (an evening of Lights) so there were many people in the cemetery. The family visits him regularly but the Lichtjesavond is a yearly thing in November just after All Soul's Day. It's a beautiful celebration; the whole graveyard was lighted with candles and bonfire everywhere.


Lichtjesavond in Noordenveld Nieuwegein.

So I was craving for some real seafood. All because of the seafood boil mukbangs I am watching on YouTube as part of my de-stressing therapy. I need my Alaskan King Crab too! So I went out with an old friend to the Harbour Club in Vinkeveen. This has got to be one of my expensive meals... a lunch in 3 digits... I cannot complain, still very worth it.


Alaskan King Crab happiness and Gin & Tonic.

Then the Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody hype caught us as well, we watched the movie! For starters, even before everyone was talking about Freddie Mercury and the Queen, we have been real avid fans. Especially the Dutchman who's been to a lot of his concerts in the 80's and 90's. We knew about this film a few years ago and we were actually wondering how Rami Malek (we also knew him from the series Mr. Robot) would fare because the original leading man the Queen group picked was Sasha Cohen of the famous Ali G, Borat, and Bruno fame. This didn't materialise due to a misunderstanding between both sides. Sasha, however, had the body build and height to match Freddie while Rami was a wee bit smaller. Anyway, we now know that Rami did a great job and has even won an Oscar for this role.


We watched the Bohemian Rhapsody movie at the new cinema in Leidse Rijn. It was our first time here and there was free parking (quite huge) available!

This is Dutch fast food in a snack bar presented in a chic way with salad and fries. Not my typical lunch fare though at work, by the way. This was an exception as I was treating some partners for lunch last minute after a very long meeting.  I usually bring my own lunch, some salad stuff or left over from last night's dinner.


To be fair, this burger was quite good.

Middle of the month I went to Malta to meet up with a very good friend for a short holiday break. Let's call her Della in this blog. We were schoolmates back in high school in Cebu and she now lives in Nevada, USA. I will be blogging soon about our Malta adventures.... and we are planning for another exciting trip soon as well! #happywhentravelling


Malta: The Three Cities from Valletta.


We rented a car and drove around. Malta drives on the other side of the road just like the UK and Ireland, so I had to keep this in mind. This is the Dingli Cliffs.


And we enjoyed very much the food at this pretty fishing village called Marsaxlokk.

I went to Brussels for work and stopped at this impressively designed petrol station along the highway. The station has a modern design with an annexed open restaurant where you can sit down and eat, work-on-the go, have business meetings or simply hang out. This is how petrol stations should be like! I took a picture of the walls as inspiration because our back garden wall in the new house will be exactly like this.


The back garden wall of our new house will be similar to this.

After my long meeting in Brussels, I made sure to drive back to the Netherlands right away because I knew traffic would be crazy around the Brussel and Antwerpen rings. Well, I was not spared. I had a delay of more than 1 hour! Luckily, I have an intelligent GPS who told me to pick a different route going via the Liefkenshoef tunnel that goes to Rotterdam and then to Utrecht. 4 long hours of driving. When your work involves being out on the road, it really helps when you have a comfortable car. #lifeontheroadatwork


Slow moving traffic near Brussels.


I love the dashboard of my car. I actually have 2 screens. I can see my GPS running on Google Maps on my main dashboard in front of my steering wheel but I also have a separate pop-up screen that can show the GPS with live traffic feed. How cool is that?

After the Malta trip with Della, we both flew together to Amsterdam as she is meeting her hubby here. They plan to spend a week in the Netherlands, after which they part ways, she going back to the USA, and he to Germany for a business trip. On their last night in the country, we met with them for dinner at Buurten in Utrecht. The last time we had a meal with them was in Las Vegas, more than 8 years ago.


Dutchman and I had dinner with Della and her hubby in Buurten, Utrecht.

The following weekend, I went with my niece and Dutch mother to the Country & Christmas Fair in Castle de Haar in Haarzuilens, Utrecht. My niece is crazy about Christmas so this was perfect for her. We both managed to buy some stuff. I bought a wool scarf, a silver ring-earring set and a vest and shirt for the Dutchman. We stayed quite long here and will for sure be blogging the pictures soon!


My lovely niece and the Dutch mother.


Country & Christmas Fair at the Castle de Haar / Kasteel de Haar.

The Jaarbeurs exhibition, which is not too far away from where we live and which we use as our route going to the city, was packed with interesting events. There was a back to back Sinterklaas and Cosplay Convention going on. I was quite thrilled! Because it was such an eye candy to see all the out of this world costumes and the little children in their Zwarte Piet clothes.


The little child attending the Sinterklaas event was amused at the Grim Reaper (attending the Cosplay event). 


Cosplay Convention in Jaarbeurs Utrecht.


A boy dressed in Zwarte Piet going to the Sinterklaas Event in Jaarbeurs, Utrecht.

In the city center, I did some needed shopping errands and made sure to treat myself to some oliebol. Just 1 oliebol for now. The local delicacy is popularly baked and sold during the end of the year holiday season.


A quick snack of oliebol!

DECEMBER

We start the month of December with a Sinterklaas dinner at M, the older Dutch sister. She has moved into their new house now which is such a charming and quirky place. There are so many special details to it including a wine cellar, a separate guest house and that they live behind a dike. We joked around that they now live outside the Netherlands because their new place is in the countryside, although it's just a 20-minute drive from Utrecht.


She prepared some soup and quiches and we all got out chocolate letters.

Another niece celebrated her birthday too, so we popped in at their place in Nieuwegein. She has a lovely and huge cat called Bailey. She's a Norwegian Forest cat I believe and she's very pretty but can be arrogant too.


Hi, my name is Bailey =)

Here are some of the food items I prepared at home that I managed to take photos. Most of the times I forget but there are days and nights when I remember that I have a camera and et voila.


Dutchman and I went to Friesland to attend a party at our friend's place. We usually stay longer there until we were the last ones to leave. It's always fun catching up with the same set of faces at the party. Lots of intellectual exchanges about work and politics, travel and reminiscing of silly bloopers during the heydays. This was the drive from Friesland back to Utrecht. It was snowing and I slept for most of the drive. Dutchman is the BOB which means the designated driver because he doesn't drink.


Slept most of the ride from Friesland to Utrecht and woke up to this.

Of course, it's the Christmas (Office) Party season! We went to this outback themed restaurant, bar, party, entertainment and sports center rolled into one. We had Kart racing, after which a DIY or GIY (grill-it-yourself) big barbecue feast, then the adventurous ones had a roll with the bull, and then after, we all had a mini bowling tournament. It was a full packed activity Christmas party.


Kart racing, bull ride, bowling and a barbecue feast in one evening.

Before Christmas, I went to Rome, Italy for a quick business trip and managed to visit the ancient city and my favourite fountain on the Spanish Steps, the Barcaccia Foutain. I also managed to eat well and down a half a liter of wine during dinner, hehe. When it comes to picking restaurants, you can never go wrong anywhere in Italy, not even in a big touristy city such as Rome. The food is always delicious.


The Fontana della Barcaccia is a work of the famous sculptor, Pietro Bernini.


Pasta alla Scoglio. Yum!


Working in the hotel room late at night finalising a presentation.

Back at home, we visited the Dutch mother and the cats. Puka was hiding under the Christmas tree while Lucy was always in for some petting time. Dutchman pampers her all the time.


Puka and Lucy have very distinct characters.

The Dutch mother gave us some pre-Christmas present, a delicious Amandelstaaf, which is an almond paste pastry popular during the Sinterklaas, Christmas and winter holiday season.


Meanwhile, the Dutchman tries to pet Puka. She doesn't always like it but she lets you pet her for a minute or two, then she goes away.

Christmas Dinner!!! This year was at the second Dutch sister A. The family is growing, what with the nieces having boyfriends and partners now, so the table needs to be extended. Next year, rather this Christmas Dinner December 2019, Dutchman and I will be sponsoring at our new home. I do plan to buy a new dining table and looking at having a 2.5-meter or 3-meter long table. Should be able to accommodate everyone.


Cheers! Haha.


Our Christmas Dinner 2018. So much food I cannot handle and we were served with 2 desserts!

In the Netherlands, we have 2 days of Christmases. So on the second day of Christmas, we invited the Dutch mother to join us for dinner at home. I am not into prepping up my place now as I am waiting for the new house, so I only make use of what I have at the moment. I made a 3-course dinner.


First course was some buffalo mozzarella with, the second/main course was a Pancetta roll with grilled asparagus and potato chips and I cannot remember the dessert anymore. Looks like I forgot to take a photo.

Towards the end of the month, Dutchman and I went back to Amsterdam for our now yearly Amsterdam Light Festival walk. We have been going now for the past 3 years in a row. It is an excuse for us to visit Amsterdam and walk around the city.


These are 2 Amsterdam Light Festival installations.

Of course, the walk, which is usually about 2+ hours strolling along the cold canals and bridges of Amsterdam is followed by some dinner somewhere. We decided to try something informal. The Dutchman hasn't been to the De Hallen so I brought him here. It's my third time.


We had a full course meal at De Hallen with food from different cuisines and stalls.

During the holiday period, the cats were pampered endlessly by the Dutchman. Lucy and Puka don't like each other actually, they try to avoid crossing each other's paths, so this is one of those rare moments that the 2 cats were nearly touching each other.


Lucy is actually jealous that Dutchman is petting Puka, haha.

The Dutch mother visited us for tea at home. I served some butter cake with ice cream and chocolate sprinkles and added some marshmallow that I got from the Christmas gift box I received at work.


Then it's the end of 2018. We just stayed at home and watched the countdown on TV. They have impressive fireworks going on in Rotterdam. There is one in Amsterdam as well. Afterward, we went out to the balcony to see the fireworks in action. The Netherlands is literally a war zone during New Year's Eve. It's one of those very typical Dutch stuff. People really go crazy with their fireworks and spend money on this.


Happy New Year! As we watch the organized fireworks in Rotterdam on TV.

JANUARY

The first of January is always a visit to the Dutch mother. She always prepared oliebollen and appel beignets, typical Dutch treats for New Year's and the holiday season. After eating an oliebol, I accepted a half appel beignet. I am trying my best not to be greedy here while Lucy is enjoying some petting attention from the Dutchman.


Lucy the cat and half of an appel beignet on New Year's Day.

Then we celebrated Dutchman's birthday. The family, as usual, came over. We like to keep it small and a family affair. Here are some little bites after the obligatory cake and coffee and tea. 


Dutchman's birthday at home.

I met up with an ex-colleague from Sweden for a Saturday lunch who is in Amsterdam for a job interview. She extended her stay a bit so she could see old faces. It has been years since I saw her so its a good catch up on how things are going on with her.


The ex-colleague from Sweden is vegan so we went to this really nice vegetarian restaurant.

Since I was already in Amsterdam, I took the day playing tourist. It was so nice to see Amsterdam again this way. I should do this more often.


One of the busy streets in Amsterdam Centrum near the Dam.

Then on the third week of the month, we went skiing and boarding in the French Alps for a whole week. We went to the same ski resort as last year, in Val Cenis. Dutchman and I were saying that we will not be doing this for a long time because of age. Our limbs will one day get old and sore, haha. But for now we will enjoy our eclipsing youth.


The 12-hour + drive (with stops)  to the Alps.


We had some blue skies weather days.

We also skied and boarded at 2 other ski resorts, both half an hour away from Val Cenis, the picturesque Aussois and La Norma. In addition, I visited the beautiful village Bonneval sur Arc. This was a lovely wintersport holiday with so many facets to it!


The weekly market on a Wednesday in Val Cenis.


The road to Bonneval sur Arc.

A week later I was in Kampen with Bru. We just hung out at her place and went to the nearby market center to check out some stuff. We made a delicious salad lunch with anchovies. This was yummy. She quite liked my dressing recipe.


Salad lunch with Bru in Kampen.

Then a busy week at work with visitors from Italy and the UK. I had to do some entertaining and was also chauffeuring them around. I brought them to Utrecht center, toured them a bit, showing the canals, the Dom tower and the bar cafe that was once a hidden church. Then we had dinner at the Markt.


Dinner at the Markt in Utrecht center.

On another evening, we had dinner at the Water Toren (WT Urban Kitchen) which I have been to last summer with my niece. They requested a unique place for dinner and when I showed them the website of this restaurant, they were both excited. We booked a table right away. It's a popular chic restaurant so bookings in advance are important.


The Water Toren in Utrecht. The restaurant is right on the top. It occupies 2 floors, the lower part with a view to the kitchen in the middle and the top part with a view to the whole of Utrecht.


This is just the starter. Food is gorgeous here.

Visited the Dutch mother in Nieuwegein again. She and Puka have a very special bond. Puka only listens to her. We couldn't pet Puka for a long time and if we call her, she would hide away, haha.


Dutch mother and Puka.

This is an example of my lunch at work, it is food that I brought myself from home. Speaking of work, I now have 2 work bases, one in Utrecht province (10-minute drive) and the other in Geldermalsen province (20-minute drive). So I sit at any of these places when I am not visiting customers or partners. Nevertheless, I always make it a point to bring my own lunch.


Lunch of smoked pepper salmon, salad and half of Naan bread.

FEBRUARY

Here comes February! The month started with cold temperatures and some snow but ended with a very hot February, which was not something we are used to here in the Netherlands. I mean it even went up to 12C!


We invited the Dutch mother again to our place for dinner. She lives on her own now so she can get lonely, which is why we invite her from time to time. Again, as usual, I made a 3-course dinner fit for the winter.


We started with lightly grilled aubergine with bruschetta on top. Our main is meatballs with gravy, boiled potatoes, and sauteed spinach and onions. Dessert was apple strudel with vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The delivery of the new house is nearing. We will get the keys in 2 weeks from now! So February was spent on running around during the weekends checking last minutes on everything. We need to make the final decision on the floor of the bedrooms and the attic (my atelier) for example, and so many other stuff. I have also been looking at sofa lounges. We need a new one.


This place is selling floors.


I quite like this sofa lounge but I want a black one, and perhaps with a semi-corner lounge extension.

One of those breakfast moments on the weekends and a few other food moments when I remember the camera. I love noodles. Seriously, we've had so many noodles in the month of February, but wasn't able to document these dishes, except for the one in the collage below.


Food I made in February.

I went to Utrecht center to inspect the renovations of the city. There is a lot of great progress! I also went to the Asian grocery store, often called the Toko here, and this one in Dichterswijk is the biggest Toko in Utrecht. I bought some seafood (frozen squid and scallops), some noodles, Kimchi, Asian snacks and Chinese pickled cabbage.


This is the square between Utrecht Centraal and the Hoog Catharijne shopping mall.


I managed to check out the Saturday market on Vredenburgplein and of course, I have to buy some kibbeling. I don't like having sauce (prefer lemon) but it's already part of the price.


This is one of the Asian snacks I bought at the Toko. This is the bomb!

I was in a roll and went back to Utrecht again to hang out. Well, I needed to buy these shoes that I saw and like the other day. I normally let a night pass and if I still like it, I go back and buy the item. So I did. Time to celebrate my new buy with KFC chicken wings (the snack version only) and some sparkling cava at the Drieharingstraat in Utrecht. The Drieharingstraat is a nice pedestrian street in Utrecht center filled with restaurants with outdoor terraces.


Then afterward I checked out the Moreelseplein area of Utrecht with the now famous bike and pedestrian bridge (the Moreelsebrug) that runs above the railway tracks. This is a beautiful modern part of Utrecht. Must visit if you haven't been here.


The modern Utrecht Centraal Railway Station. This is the main railway hub of the Netherlands. All major trains from across the country are connected to here.


The Moreelse Bridge for bikes and pedestrians that spans above the railway tracks.


Croselaan has had a lot of facelifts in the past years.

Back at home in my kitchen. These are just a few of the dishes I made for dinner in February. I seriously need to up my plating game.


Meanwhile, Dutchman and I are still running around in the weekends for the house. We were thinking of doing the painting job ourselves but it looks like its such a humongous task for us to do alone. It's close to 500 square meters of walls and ceilings. So we might outsource this. The spending never stops.


Translation: Wrinkles are fine as long as they are not on your wallpaper. Hehe.


I am liking these lighting fixtures!


I am looking at headboards as well, but not fancying the glossy velvety shine of this one although I quite like that it is high. 


Of course, since we were in the Woon Boulevard, we popped over at IKEA for some food. It was my first time to try their vegetable balls, and this ricotta chocolate dessert is just amazing.

This is an example of a leftover from last night's dinner lunch at work. I just added some romaine lettuce and voila. Yum.


See you in the next months!

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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