Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Dutch's national sport.

 No it's not ice-skating. Neither is swimming. Nor biking. It's DIY-ing. Destroying your home to make it yours. The Dutch take so much pride in personally fixing their homes that whenever you visit someone's house for the first time, it is generally accepted to ask for a tour of the whole house while the owner proudly explains everything they did with their own hands. They have huge warehouses filled with all kinds of construction material, readily available for the average customer. In Mexico, you would get this kind of material at small, specialized shops, one for paint, one for screws and tools, another one for plumbing material, etc. Here you get everything in one huge American-style shop and they have several chains of those. If you go on a Sunday, you might get extra discount so it's always full of families ready to DIY on the weekends. They even sell stroopwafels in case you need extra energy while working.

My brother-in-law just rented an apartment and the whole summer has been spent fixing it. At first I was in great shock that ALL this work would go into a place that is rented. Shouldn't fixing it be the responsibility of the owner or agency? Who am I kidding, I am still in shock and it is taking what seems like every second of our free time (with the exception of birthdays and meet ups with friends that had been planned beforehand, thank God for those). It is quite the cultural shock... to spend SO much time, effort and money on a place that is not even yours. Anyhow, it seems like the place he rented had only been inhabited by an old lady and it had not been renovated since the 50s. There was old flowery wallpaper, most of which was damaged, stains on the walls... no stove! And to top it off there is no floor. Yeah. When you rent an apartment in The Netherlands people take the floor away and sometimes the curtains and the kitchen too (even if those are often customized to the exact meausurements of the apartment). So there has been scraping down the old wallpaper, painting doors and window frames, putting up new wallpaper.... choosing the floor, changing the toilet seat and the piping under the sink... It seems like the never-ending story, and it's not over yet.

This cute bird appeared while taking the wallpaper away.

But this is only a shock for me. This is perfectly normal in the Low lands. How is it in your country? Are you allowed to make such drastic changes in a rental apartment? Are you supposed to do so? Or do you just choose a place and move in with your stuff (maybe change some minor things... like I was used to?).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer holiday

It has been incredibly hot for pretty much all of July over here. We have to keep all windows open to create air currents, or the house becomes really warm.

Anyhow, this is just a short note to say that I might not be posting regularly through August. But I will be back soon :) And of course if I find exciting things to share I will be here. I hope you all have a great time... I will be somewhere around. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The breakfast club: Olive Dragonfly

As I try to find ways of eating a more healthy and varied breakfast I decided to ask a few of my internet friends and readers to share their favorite breakfast. (My usual breakfast is  almost always the same, bread, butter, tea and some sort of jam). Today I am excited to bring you  the cheerful Bex from The Olive Dragonfly. You will be drooling by the end of the post, such good ideas and such pretty photos. By the way, I would be thrilled if you would like to participate in this weekly series, in which case, just send a breakfast themed post to: poppiesandicecream@gmail.com

I eat weird things for breakfast.  I never fancy anything sweet so cereal is out. I'll occasionally have pancakes as a treat but need to have a little something savoury first, maybe a small slice of toast with Bovril.  Yes, Bovril on toast, or in a pinch, Marmite.  What I most like for breakfast is leftovers.  I'll eat any leftovers for breakfast - curry, spag bol, noodles, anything that can be reheated.  I've even been known to make a tuna sandwich if there's no other choice but cereal.  I even prefer croissants to be savoury with ham and cheese or marmite and cheese!  (I basically love anything with cheese!)

We do have cereal in the house but I prefer it in the evenings or as a snack.  If I'm really hungry, I'll have porridge after something savoury as a sort of breakfast pudding!  You can't beat a two course breakfast!  I really love my fig recipe served with pancakes for a sweet breakfast course, they were perfect after smoked salmon bagels on New Year's Day.

Smoked salmon with garlic & chive Philadelphia on a sesame seed bagel
Figs in spiced sauce with mascarpone
Perfect with Scotch pancakes!

Anyway, I do eat more normal things as well and when I'm trying to be healthy or am generally just organised, I love to have a proper cooked breakfast.  I say healthy since my preferred choice of breakfast consists of some kind of combination of grilled veggie sausages (ideally Quorn "chef's selection" or Cauldron), grilled bacon medallions (I love Morrison's NuMe bacon - see also below), scrambled eggs, grilled mushrooms and sometimes baked beans.  I'll sometimes have a slice of wholemeal toast or bread as well.

You can tell hubby was there that morning, he always makes me shapes on my latte :)
I particularly love eggs in the morning as even when I'm not organised, I can stick some eggs on to boil and squish them up on a slice of bread for a breakfast on the run or even make a super quick omelette.  (Although my favourite omelettes are the ones my husband sometimes makes on the weekend, occasionally with smoked salmon.  They're always better when he makes them!)

Omelette with light babybel & tomato with mushrooms
Lately I've been loving smoothies as well, I love making different concoctions of fruit to enjoy on the side of whatever it is I'm eating that morning and it helps fill me up more so I'm less likely to snack at 11am.  I rarely eat fruit as a snack as again, I tend to prefer savoury options so a smoothie is the perfect way for me to get my vitamins and fibre!

I think you can tell I quite like breakfast.  I can never skip it as even though I can't usually face eating when I first get up, I can't get past 9am without eating something or I get very grumpy!  On weekends, I love to plan nice breakfasts or brunches with my husband when he isn't working.  

A particular favourite was Huevos Rancheros which I'd found online somewhere.  

My savoury muffins also make a very nice breakfast combined with boiled eggs and a cuppa.

I also LOVE a BLT for breakfast.  I make mine with NuMe bacon and plenty of lettuce.

Sorry this post has turned out to be pretty epic!  When Amanda asked me to write about breakfast I knew I'd be able to deliver ;)   I'd love to hear of any more savoury breakfast ideas you have?
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