Saturday, August 30, 2008

Groceries - Dutch style

From the money I received for my birthday I decided to buy a sensible product: bicycle bags! This is the way Dutch women get groceries. Not the weekly ones, where you buy liters and liters of milk, but the odds and ends that you forget and have to run to the store for. Some people don't have a car; they use them for everything.

As you can see the bags have zippers. That way, when I have a lot of things to carry with me, I can enlarge the bags. The elastic bands across the bags also hold a box or purse in place.
Are these even available outside of Europe?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Ten years ago, I had spent the first two weeks of my exchange year in Indiana. Today I celebrate my birthday in a trailer in my backyard. My, how time flies!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Have you ever taken a bath in a bathroom showroom? We have! We found a tub that is big enough to fit my M, but has armrests so I'll fit in it as well. It's 190x90 cm (6 ft 3" by 3 ft). We had fun today, trying out the different tubs and looking at sinks/toilets/urinals.It was our third day in bathroom stores so we were getting a little silly... But now we have three different prices on our bathroom and toilet, so we can start comparing. That way we'll know where the best deal is.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Family portrait

Prairiecowboy had asked me how the baby chicks were doing. Time for an update!

Here's a before picture:

The little one that is face down didn't make it. But two other ones did, so four chicks survived. Three of these babies turned out to be roosters, one of them is a hen. She's lucky. Check out Prairiecowboy's site to see what will eventually happen to the roosters.
Let's start with a photo of Bjorn and Marloes. Bjorn is the white rooster, Marloes is one of his wives. Both these chickens were born here October last year.

If you wonder why Marloes's feathers are a little jagged on the side, well, let's just say Bjorn is to blame for that.

Here's a slightly scary picture of the four chicks in a row. The big ones are Marloes's boys (or her sister Piri Piri, it's hard to tell because they're identical).

Left to right: rooster, rooster, rooster, hen. They're all the same age, though different in size. The first rooster and the hen's mothers are a lot smaller than Marloes and Piri Piri. That's why their kids are smaller, too. Bjorn is the father to all of these kids.

This is Ellen and her son. You can tell they're alike. This little boy is the dark chick from the top photo.

The chickens were pretty freaked out by the camera's flash. That's why none of the pictures turned out to be World Press Photo candidates ;-). That's ok though, you get the idea!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weighty changes

When you cook for people who build a house, you have to make sure you feed them plenty of calories. All that carrying bricks around and jumping up and down scaffolding makes them burn a lot of energy, and they need to eat well in order to replace that. That's why I had been buying, baking and cooking lots of cookies, carby soups and elaborate sandwiches. (I don't know if a sandwich can technically be elaborate, but you get my point).

My M has been faring well on this diet (and the exercise combined). He's lost 8 kg (17.6 lbs) and toned up a lot since we started remodeling. I have also fared well... but in the bad sense of the word. I gained a little weight and definitely didn't tone up at all. When you live in a trailer you don't walk any stairs. I don't have a vegetable garden this year (there goes that form of exercise, gardening) and while rounding up the schoolyear I found myself sitting on a bench with the laptop on my lap all too often.

That's why I decided to make some changes. Starting the first day of summer vacation (6 July) I changed my diet. I banned unhealthy snacks, started to eat more fruit and vegetables, bought healthier versions of products (I like the words "light" or "diet" on a label), started weighing my dinner ingredients so I wouldn't get too many calories, and started keeping track of my calorie intake. I also started exercising more regularly (I try to get at least 30 minutes of moving my butt a day). The result so far? I've lost 3 kgs (6.6 lbs). That doesn't seem much in five weeks, but I'm ok with it. It's progress, and I can keep it up without feeling too sorry for myself. I've read that the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to start yo-yoing. And that's not the poing of this plan. The point is that the numbers on the scale are slowly moving downward. And in another 3 kgs I'll be really satisfied (and then the challenge is to keep it that way). That means I'm halfway now. I'll keep you posted how I do!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Easy pasta sauce

Every year I have a vegetable garden with all kinds of veggies and fruits. This year, however, my vegetable garden is non-existent, because that's where all the old bricks and roof tiles have been thrown. It's literally a junk yard!
People know that I like to grow vegetables, however, and sometimes they give me plants. I can't throw away a plant so when I received two tomato plants and a zucchini plant, I went ahead and planted them behind the trailer.
When we came back from our two-week vacation, three zucchinis and a bunch of tomatoes were ripe. It's hard to keep them well in the trailer, because it gets pretty hot in here. On a sunny day 32 C (90F) is not uncommon. That's why I decided to freeze them to have easy pasta sauce in the freezer.

Inspired by the Pioneer Woman, here's the cast of characters:

Olive oil, three bell peppers, three onions, three cloves of garlic, three zucchinis and a bunch of tomatoes. There's also wheat macaroni in the picture but I didn't need that until later, when I actually converted the veggies into pasta sauce.

First, I cut the onions and garlic in little pieces, and started sautéeing them in the olive oil. Because I'm not the Pioneer Woman, I don't have a picture of that.

When the onions were almost transparent, I added the cut up bell peppers. I like to use three different colors, because it makes my dish look happy.

After they were softened a little, I added the zucchini pieces.

The tomatoes were next. After I had added them, I turned the fire down and let everything simmer for a while, stirring it occasionally. After about ten minutes, everything was nice and softened and there was a little layer of juice in the pot. I then grabbed my handmixer and blended everything. Not so smoothly that it looked like baby food, but smooth enough so it was a sauce with still something to chew.

Depending on the zucchini:tomato ratio this sauce usually turns out anywhere between a green -orange - red color. Two kgs of vegetables made four 2-person servings. We ate one and froze three.
I added some ground beef and italian spices, and voila! Easy pasta!