Thursday, 28 November 2013


I am in need of a little warmth and sunshine... at least I have flowers.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Taking Stock

I follow quite a few blogs and I saw this list on Meet me at Mikes which I thought was an excellent idea - taking stock of things... she provided a blank list for anyone to copy and paste so I couldn't resist filling in the blanks!

Making : Bunting (or thinking about making it!)
Cooking : Bobotie - I am a little obsessed with it and just made it for friends this past weekend who loved it... anyone want to come over for dinner so I can make it again??
Drinking : Water, and lots of it
Reading: Flow magazine - the kids keep interrupting me so it is taking me forever to get through the latest edition!
Wanting: New pans since the cheap ones I bought suck. I want BK or just anything better than what I have now!
Looking: forward to Christmas. I do love being 'festive'!
Playing: Sarah McClachlan's Wintersongs
Deciding: on what to make for Sinterklaas dinner with our neighbours.
Wishing: that the sun would set a little later so I can take better photos.
Enjoying: the festive Nespresso blend which I bought last week. Cherry & chocolate in my coffee!!
Waiting: for my grocery allowance.
Liking: the Nijhof in Baarn which I have only just discovered. They have an awesome outlet store too!
Wondering: whether I will ever lose some weight.
Loving: my kids.
Pondering: what to do about my future... work / study / just be creative?
Considering: going somewhere hot for Christmas, if I can find a very cheap deal.
Watching: Breaking Bad season 1 on netflix - intense!
Hoping: that we sell our house soon.
Marvelling: at the sheer fun my kids have and how they make me laugh.
Needing: to sort out the pain in my shoulder.
Smelling: Sabon's Pink Rose home scent.
Wearing: my new winter coat from GStar-Raw - guess which one!
Following: too many blogs / pages.
Noticing: that autumn this year is much milder than last year - no complaints here.
Knowing: that it will probably snow and I don't have winter tyres.
Thinking: about pretty things for my house - preferably in pastels.
Feeling: tired. Will I ever get a full night's sleep again?
Admiring: my neighbour - she is a pretty amazing woman.
Buying: lots of little gifts for Sinterklaas and Christmas (I love, love, love gift shopping!)
Getting: impatient for summer. I want sun.
Bookmarking: ideas for Heidi's birthday party - the theme is 'baking' this year.
Opening: boring mail *yawn*, looking forward to sending and receiving Christmas cards!
Giggling: every time I think of Stella trying to fly. She has wings and everything and I promise I'll make a video of it one of these days.

Wow, lots happening right?
Hope you have a great Tuesday. Here are some photos of my sweet Stella with her favourite Nutella to cheer you up:

Monday, 25 November 2013

Coffee Time

Let's take a break.
Make yourself a cappuccino.
It is my special treat about twice a day... you know, to start and end the day right.

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Day at Restaurant Niven

By now you know that I have bought my fair share of Groupon vouchers... it is usually a game of hit and miss with Groupon but spending a day in a Michelin star kitchen seemed like a great idea to me! My husband thought I should definitely do it although he thought it was quite funny that I'll be paying for the pleasure of 'working' in a kitchen.

Restaurant Niven is located in Rijswijk which is about an hour away from Utrecht and on a rainy Saturday morning I met my friend Lisl there. We were completely clueless as to what would happen that day but we walked in the door and was met by a friendly waiter offering us a delicious cappuccino. Then the fun started.

We were handed kitchen outfits and aprons and were literally ushered into the kitchen. All day long we helped the staff prep food. They were very friendly and worked together like a well oiled machine. They patiently answered our questions, and kept us busy. Slicing cucumbers and then putting a blow torch to them was definitely a new thing for me to do!

Chef Niven spent a lot of time in the kitchen, making sure everything is perfect. He is very young and it is quite an achievement to be so successful at the age of 32!! His team in the kitchen is also young and energetic. It was a little strange to be the oldest person there...

After a busy lunch time service we started prepping for the dinner service and let me tell you, working in a kitchen is not an easy job. You stand all day long and there is also a lot of cleaning to be done. You always have something else to prepare, from slow cooked beef cheeks and finely slicing tiny radishes to making dough for the cookies which customers get when leaving the restaurant.

We were surprised by a 10 course dinner after our 'hard' work and it was delicious! It is pretty amazing to know exactly where the produce came from and what it looked like before becoming a piece of art on a plate.

Thank you Chef Niven and team for a lovely experience!

Here are a few photos I took during the day... as you can image it was pretty hard to select only a few! I'll post the photos of our dinner next week :-)

The Niven kitchen
Chef Niven in action!
Michelin style 'pizza' - amazing, right?
Team work! Chef Niven and his sous chef Bas

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Upside Down Pear Cake

I bought a lot of pears and the kids decided not to eat them.
Why? Well who knows.
The pears were sweet and delicious and I should know because I had to eat a lot of them.
So instead of cleaning the house I decided to bake a cake with the last three pears.
Good idea right?

The cake turned out delicious! I could probably have baked it 10 or 15 minutes longer to caramelise the pears more, but I was worried that the kids might not like it if the pears became too dark.

And did I mention this is a weight watchers recipe?
Yep, I'm trying to be very good so there you have it.
It also means that I have to restrain myself from eating the whole cake...

Here is a copy of the recipe in Dutch. If you want an English version then you'll have to mail me or leave me a comment!

1 koffielepel(s) Olie, zonnebloem
2 eetlepel(s) Bruine suiker
2 koffielepel(s) Kaneel
400 g Del Monte Halve peren op sap, drooggedept
6 eetlepel(s) Margarine, 60% vet  (I used butter and not margarine)
125 g Basterdsuiker, wit
2 middelgroot/middelgrote Ei
125 ml Zure room
125 g Zelfrijzend bakmeel

Verwarm de oven voor op 180 ºC. Vet een cakeblik in met een klein beetje olie. Bedek de bodem en de zijkanten met bakpapier. Bestrooi de bodem van het cakeblik met de bruine suiker en 1 koffielepel kaneel. Snijd de peren in schijfjes en verdeel ze over de besuikerde bodem.

Gebruik de mixer voor het mixen van de margarine met het suiker. Voeg één voor één de eieren toe, blijf mixen. Doe de zure room en het bakmeel bij het geheel en roer ook de resterende koffielepel kaneel erdoor.

Schep de cakemix bovenop de peren in het bakblik. Strijk glad met de achterkant van een lepel. Bak 1 uur in de oven of tot de cake gaar is. Test dit door een sateprikker in de cake te prikken. Laat de cake 5 minuten afkoelen voordat je deze op de kop uit het bakblik laat glijden.

Snijd de cake in plakjes en serveer warm.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Monday, 18 November 2013


Sinterklaas arrived in Utrecht yesterday!
We braved the masses to get a glimpse of him.
The kids were very excited... I suppose when you are young it is wonderful to believe in something like Sinterklaas, especially given the prospect of the gifts 'he' will bestow on the kids.

I've been assembling lots of little gifts all year long - you know, cheap and cheerful stuff. Now we'll make sure the kids leave out a shoe a few times before 5 December and I guess we better make sure to have enough carrots in the house for the horse of Sinterklaas! :-)

Friday, 15 November 2013

Kids Art

My kids have such imaginations.
The main after school activity in our house is drawing and painting.
Picture the three of us at our dining table and it should include a stack of paper, pens, water paint and brushes while we create 'art' by the bright light of my big kitchen glass doors. I love that.

Here are a few more pieces of art by my girls.
Trust me, every drawing has a long story behind it and both girls just love telling stories.

Next week I will tell you all about the day I spent in the kitchen of a Michelin star restaurant - it was awesome!! So expect lots of photos...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Yoghurt Barn

I can think of few things as good as yoghurt and cruesli with berries for breakfast. So I was pretty happy to meet some friends at the Yoghurt Barn in Utrecht on Tuesday. Not only because it was great to see my friends but also because I do love their yoghurt. Since I'm trying to be thrifty it helps that they have a breakfast special before 10 am: free coffee with a medium yoghurt! Happiness!!

This time I managed to take a photo of the yoghurt before devouring it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Basic Muffins

Two weeks ago I had two friends drop by for coffee.
It was wonderful to catch up and chat and exchange ideas.
I whipped up a batch of muffins before they arrived and it went down very well with our cappuccinos. Since I had a few strawberries just hanging around I decided to chop them up and throw them in the batter. Not sure that it worked that well although nobody complained. Especially not my kids when they came home from school and devoured the remaining muffins!

Here is a link to the recipe which I found on King Arthur Flour's website.
Here is a copy - I added a handful of diced strawberries and my baking time was 25 minutes:

King Arthur Flour's Basic Muffins

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil or softened butter (optional)*
2 large eggs

*If you leave the oil out, you can reduce the calories in your muffins by about 30%; the flavour will still be excellent, but muffins won't be quite as tender, and won't keep as well should you happen to have any left over.

Preheat your oven to 500°F (250C).

Blend together the dry ingredients as long and as vigorously as you want. If you use a little whole wheat flour in your mixture, it's easy to tell when everything is thoroughly mixed.

Beat the liquid ingredients together -- milk, oil or butter, and eggs -- until they are light.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Take a fork or wire whisk and blend the two for 20 seconds -- no more! The secret to light and tender muffins lies in this final blending. It's OK if you've left some lumps that look as if they want more stirring; they really don't. So, no matter how hard it is, resist the impulse.

Fill cups of a lightly greased muffin tin two-thirds to three-quarters full. Place muffins in the oven and immediately drop temperature to 400°F* (200C). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until muffins test done. Yield: 12 muffins, 24 mini-muffins, or six "crown" muffins.

*When you put muffins in a very hot oven and immediately drop the temperature, you help create the high peaks that make them so appealing.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hamburger Illustrated Recipe

Let's start the week with a little illustration (good old fashioned pen on paper with bad spelling) of a basic hamburger recipe we had for dinner last week. If you can even call it that because making hamburgers is mostly a matter of stacking stuff on a bun. I like to mix a few herbs and spices into beef mince and then shape the patties myself but hey, I'm not judging anyone for buying them ready made!

Personally my own view is the more stuff you can pile onto a hamburger the better... you know, lettuce, onion, tomato, gherkins, ketchup, mustard, cheese, bacon, etc.

Have a great week!

Friday, 8 November 2013


This kid.
She is so damn cute.
I tried getting her to sit still for a quick photo but all I got was funny faces while she stuffed a muffin into her mouth. That's my girl.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mmmm... Illustration

I'm trying to figure out this year's Christmas cards and it is not as easy as I want it to be...

I played with watercolours and pen drawings and I'm just not happy. Maybe I'll do a lino cut again. But whatever I do better happen soon or else I'll be buying Christmas cards this year!

Lentil Soup

I'm a big fan of soup.
It is one of the easiest ways for me to actually get vegetables into my kids.
The only condition being, and I've mentioned this before, the soup has to be green.
Heidi is a big fan of green soup, most days.

I've been adding lentils to all my soups lately.
It's so pretty and good for you too.
Just a hand full of dried lentils, lots of vegetables, water or stock and about 30 minutes later your soup is done.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche with Sesame Pastry

My mom brought a feta, mushroom and asparagus quiche recipe with her which she loves to make.
The funny thing is that she found it in a magazine about 10 years ago and she still has the page with the original recipe... impressive right?

Well we made it for dinner and it was lovely.
I especially love the sesame seeds in the crust.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I guess I'll be making this quiche again very soon...

Here is a copy of the recipe from the January 2004 Woman's Value magazine:

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Oven temperature: 200 C

270g cake flour
50ml toasted sesame seeds
125g butter, cut into cubes
125ml cold water
100g asparagus spears
20ml sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
200g mixed mushrooms
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100g feta, crumbled
100g Gruyere (or mature Cheddar), grated
125ml milk

1. Sieve the flour. Add the sesame seeds. Rub in the butter and mix in about 125ml cold water. Knead lightly, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge.
2. Boil the asparagus in a little water for one minute. remove from heat, drain and cover with cold water. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat the oil and add the onion. Saute for one minute. Slice larger mushrooms and leave small ones whole. Add to the pan and fry for two minutes.
4. Set aside to cool. Mix eggs and milk. Season to taste.
5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and line a 22cm quiche tine or pie dish. Prick base with a fork several times then add the cooled ingredients and the cheeses. Pour the rest of the mixture on top. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden and set.
Serve warm or cold.

Friday, 1 November 2013


Almost a week ago we had friends over for dinner and it was also my mom's last day here.
Less than a week ago.
Seems like forever.

The kids are back in school, my husband is working hard at his new job and life carries on.

This afternoon we have an important meeting at the bank. We are thinking of moving out of Utrecht and in these strange economic times selling a house is not exactly the easiest thing to do. I'm quite nervous actually... so wish me luck please!

Here is a photo of the pretty flowers a friend brought me last week, I love the vibrant colours:

Have a lovely weekend!

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