Monday, December 30, 2019

Hello Stranger! 2019 is almost over!

Life managed to take an auspicious turn on the road, so here I am back again =)

What can I say? I have been super duper busy in the last 6-7months that I didn't really have the time to come in here and give the usual blogging love. I really feel bad about it. And very guilty. However, as bad as it is, we all must make decisions and set priorities.

Before I give you an update of what I have been up to, let me show you my Christmas tree!

I wanted a silver tree this year but I couldn't just let go of my gold ornaments so I made a truce to myself and settled for both silver and gold. I bought some of the glass and silver ornaments at the Monschau Christmas market.

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

So what has happened to me in the last 6-7 months?

Back in October 2017, we bought a house (to be constructed) and in late March this year, the house was delivered. Like most of the new houses built in the Netherlands, the builder delivered the house to us on "casco" terms meaning "bare". The new homeowner will have to do the interior finishing of the walls, ceilings, floors and everything else. This means we will be responsible for contracting all these directly with suppliers and contract workers.

Well, what do you know.... this was one hell of an adventure! The Dutchman and I have sworn never ever again to do this! We had to scout and deal with a number of contractors. One contractor for the garden, for the ceramic flooring on the ground floor, for the kitchen, for the stucco walls, for the painting, etcetera. The complexity of it all is one of the reasons I had to stop blogging because Murphy's Law seems to say hello all the time.

Then in July, we moved into the new house. No explanations needed, we all know what moving is like, right? Here is a preview of the house, the kitchen, and the dining area... still lots to be done. The doors to the garden will be repainted black... I will be hanging a vertical garden on the wall of the kitchen.... and on the wall side of the dining, perhaps some artwork that I do not know yet because I want to keep the interior modern and simple.

By the way, we spotted this lovely furry thing walking on our fence. She's become a regular appearance now. Dutchman and I badly want to adopt a cat... *sigh*

We didn't sell our apartment, instead, we decided to rent it out. The housing market is going insane right now so we want to make the most of it. Hence, we have to renovate it first before we start contacting a real estate agent. We still had a lot to do with the new house, but we have to leave it as is because of the apartment. I have to say that I am quite proud of ourselves for doing all the renovations on our own. Because the apartment was big, it was a lot of hard manual work for us. The bedrooms, for example, had carpet flooring and to make it easy with maintenance, we installed wood laminate flooring over it ourselves.... in 3 bedrooms! As you can see, my hands have been having muscle tension in the last weeks.

In addition to all this, the company I worked for announced in July to stop the activities of our division worldwide. It all came as a shock. Suddenly, I am dealing with HR. All of us are getting fired and we don't know when.

But a week after the news went out, I started receiving calls from recruiters and companies. The competitor wants to hire me!

Two more weeks passed, my new manager asked me to be responsible for the winding down of the business in Europe and to stay until the end of the year. Most of my colleague's last day was the end of September and although we receive severance pay and bonus, the additional months work until the end of December and all the extras offered to me were like a blessing in disguise.

Also, because I turned on my availability on Linkedin, I received so many messages from recruiters, most of them from large enterprises. Suddenly I am having talks and meetings. They didn't seem to be like "interviews" at all. I was completely floored at the attention but I had to say no to a lot of these Fortune 500 companies. It's a crazy house! Isn't there a saying that goes... "When it rains, it pours?"

Nevertheless, I signed with the competitor but since my contract with the current employer strictly ends on 31 December 2019, they have to wait for me to join them in January 2020. The competition clause was, of course, waived because of the situation.

And oh, in between I travelled to England (UK), Brno (CZ), Lesvos (Greece) and Bari, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Matera (Italy). I also visited 2 Christmas Markets in Monschau (Germany) and Gent (Belgium).

I didn't realise this was TARDIS, the fictional time machine until someone pointed this out to me on Facebook.

Flying above Vienna, Austria. Vienna was the nearest international airport to Brno, Czechia. I had to drive almost 2 hours to Brno.

I rewarded myself with this typical Czech "duck" cuisine for dinner on the first evening.

Moi eating a pita gyros on Agios Isidoros Beach in Lesvos Island, Greece and this dog wants his share as well.

Moi in Matera, Basilicata, Italy. Matera is a city of (ancient) caves!

With the Tulli houses in lovely Alberobello in Puglia, Italy.

Monschau Christmas Market in Germany.

The Ferris wheel at the Gent Christmas Market.

Towards the end of the year (this was when we finished renovating the apartment), I indulge in furnishing the new house. I have been all over the country canvassing, checking, back and forth to make sure I have the correct ones I wanted with the right prices. I have visited so many interior furnishing and garden center shops, online and offline. This house stuff is a lot of hard work.

Although I am not done with the house project, the positive progress is very much visible now in the home and I am quite happy about it.

Lastly, I hosted 2 Christmas dinners at home, at the new house! Two consecutive dinners on the 25th, the first day of Christmas (for 7 people) and the 26th, the second day of Christmas (for 8 people), both dinners were a 5-course dinner, well actually 6-course because to the bubbles and canapes. I was cooking from 10:00 to 15:00 non-stop for 2 days.

Both evenings were amazing and I will definitely do this again next year. Check out our Christmas table dinner below.

Too bad the two sets of Christmas trees table decors (silver, white and green) can't be easily seen in this picture angle.

Inspired by my recent Italian trip, the Christmas dinner theme was a bit Italian. This is the first course, some Burrata cheese paired with Italian meats (Copa Stagionata, Prosciutto and Spianata Romana -) and grilled veggies (aubergine, paprika and courgette).

Then the day before yesterday I got struck with the flu! It is the season. I think it had something to do with the massive number of people at the Batavia Outlet I visited. I did some quick end of the year shopping there with Bru. Well, I am much better now.

This is what I ate this morning. Noodles. My comfort food, especially when I am sickly =)

As you can see it has been a whirlwind of events in the last 6 months!

But I am back... the big hurdle has passed.

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


  1. I'm very happy you are back to posting. I was wondering what happened to you.

    Congratulations on your new house! It's a lot of work but it's worth it.

  2. I'm glad that you are back posting. I missed reading your blog.

    1. Hi Christine, hope you are well and good to hear from you! Life and work does take a primary role... I miss blogging.. and I wish I could blog more often.


Hi, thank you for taking time.

Link Within

Related Posts with Thumbnails