happy friday!!!

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

Last year was my first EVER time in London. (See our self satisfied punams and the London eye in the photo.) What did I think of London? I absolutely loved it!!! I did not have any huge expectations, in fact I've never quite heard any good reviews of London from friends that have been. Here are some things I've heard as opposed to what I discovered:

1. People are rude - FALSE! People are lovely, funny, friendly and polite.
2. Girls are ugly - FALSE! They're very cute and stylish, and the wear the highest heels I've ever seen any group of girls wear. Much higher heels then in Manhattan too.
3. Guys are ugly - FALSE! I've seen tons of good looking guys in London. TRUST me.
4. English food is terrible - FALSE! English food is yummy first of all, secondly there is just about ANY kind of cuisine to be had in London.
5. Everyone gets totally smashed when they go out - True. Now that's the only one I do agree with. On Fridays abour 2pm everyone seems to be at the Pub and already in a drunken state.
6. Everything is super expensive - FALSE false and false!!! There are tons of shops for all kinds of pockets and most of the high street shops like your Zaras and such are actually cheaper in London. Then again, I'm also comparing it to Amsterdam where everything is crazy expensive.
London reminded me of Manhattan the way Manhattan wishes to be. London was bigger, cleaner, and more interesting.
I was impressed, and so I'm really pleased to be going there for a week. I'm there for some work meetings but hopefully I'll have a chance to do just a bit of running around for my own purposes!


East vs West

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why are Asians so slim? My friend M, who came to visit for New Years brought me some yummy Asian food treats that she knows I love. M is originally from Taiwan, so there were always interesting snacks to try when we hung out at her house "studying" in high school. And yes M is super thin.

As I ripped into a bag of gummy "muscat grape" candy already imagining poping a handful into my mouth I was met with an obstacle! Each candy was wrapped individually! Very suggestively indicating that I should eat only one... What!? Ofcourse I ate more then one obviously, and as I cleared away a small mountain of wrappers I thought. Are asian people thin because they exercise portion control?? I pulled out a similar package of gummy candy bought in Europe. Sure enough candies were not individually wrapped speaking to your inner psyche to eat the ENTIRE bag!

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from our brothers in the East.

My friend M however, is a bad example; she eats like a black hole! Like there is no tomorrow. As if she was about to be dropped of on a deserted island. As if she was pregnant with a fully grown football team!!
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Does doing taxes stress you out too?

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Well actually Vito did our taxes. But he made me pay attention when he explained what he was doing. AND he made me go and fetch some related documents he needed from my side. That was already stressful enough. I made myself a little pick me up to de-compress...
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dramatic granola and yogurt breakfast

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

In November we went on a family trip to South Africa with Vito's parents and brother. We were there for two weeks driving around the southern cape, it was glorious! Of course one of the funnest things about being in a foreign country is the food! I love noticing what is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner when I travel. One of the things we noticed in South Africa is that Granola and Yogurt is the quintessential breakfast food. One of the most amazing breakfasts we had was In Prince Albert, a tiny one street town in the Karoo (dessert). We had a beautiful spread with huge wine glasses containing layers of strawberry yogurt with granola, then big chunk of french toast with raspberry, fig and plum gams arrived in large terracotta plates. The most delicious cafe latte and fresh squeezed orange juice was also presented in beautiful tall glasses. After we liked our fingers the waitress brought a check. This was strange since breakfast was included with our hotel stay. After a slight commotion the waitress said that she misunderstood that we were actually guests at the hotel and that yes indeed the breakfast was included.

The next morning our breakfast included the same food however it was presented differently, less grandly. Cafe latte came in a simple white mug, yogurt and granola were placed on the table in two large bowls for us all to share. French toast was simply stacked in a bread basket. We enjoyed the breakfast again but there was definitely a difference. The prettily presented breakfast is definitely the one that delighted and surprised us and the one we remember when we talk about Prince Albert.
And here is a step by step granola and yogurt beautification process. It's so easy, but everyone will think you're a genious!


winter wonderland no more...

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

This is what my little town looked like just a week ago. Now the sun is shining and all the snow has turned into sloppy mush. Oh well, at least I have a picture to use as Christmas cards next year! :)
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Get your man into the kitchen rice pudding recipe.

>> Saturday, January 16, 2010

Creamy rice pudding

One of the things that surprised me when I moved in with Vito is that we were not good at cooking together. I guess it never came up because while dating we would eat out on our dates. And because we lived on different continents while we were dating, impromptu cooking sessions after say, watching a movie at someones house never happened. I knew that Vito could cook so I assumed that cooking together would become a regular activity after I moved in...

Well... it didn't quite happen that way. After a few times trying to cook together we both decided that it would be better to just take turns. In our case it was like trying to drive a car together! And I don't mean one person navigates and one person steers, I mean as if two people trying to steer and shift gears TOGETHER. We're just two control freaks. So that was a bit of a surprise to me. In my head I had a vision of us making delicious food together gliding around the kitchen like pairs figure skaters, our dance interrupted only when we would spontaneously drop to the floor to make love every ten minutes. Gosh, you know how sometimes in your head things may seem so nice but in reality they're not so practical? Do you know how hard marble floor is? Ouch!

Anyway, after a bit we figured out a way to sometimes come together in the kitchen in a 'safe' and orderly manner. ;) We figured that we can cook together if each of us is completely responsible for one (or two) dishes. So for example if Vito is making the stakes, and he is better at meat then me (since I apparently don't have enough math knowledge to figure out when to turn it over to the other side), I make the sides. Sometimes when preparing for a dinner party, I'll make the main course and Vito will take care of the starter and dessert.

Now this was a rather easy solution, but what do you do if your partner wants nothing to do with the kitchen and you want to fulfill your fantasy of synchronized cooking?? Well this recipe is perfect for you to get your man (or gal) into the kitchen with you!

Introducing: Super easy Rice Pudding desert.

Now the fun thing about this recipe is that it's super easy, all your partner needs to do is stand and stir! A genius thing about this recipe is that they'll need to stand and stir for about the time it'll take you to make dinner, about 20 mins. Brilliant! So let's get started.

1 cup of long grain rice
1/2 liter milk
1 table spoon non salted butter
2 table spoons of honey
1 table spoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of cardamon
few drops of Vanilla extract
secret ingredient: slivered almonds

Warm up a medium sauce pan on the stove. Throw in the butter and let it melt. Add the rice and stir to get the butter coating the rice until you see rice turn a bit translucent. (About 1 minute) Turn the fire down to small flame. Now you will start to add milk in 1/2 cup at a time. Stir, stir, stir. Keep adding more milk and keep stirring. After about 10 mins stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, honey and brown sugar. Stir some more. Add 1 cup of boiled water to the mix and let simmer while stirring occasionally for about 10 more minutes. (Add more milk along the way if necessary.) Depending on the rice you use, long cooking or 8 minute rice, it may take longer for you to cook it. Try the rice and if it's ready then you're done, if it's still hard you can continue to add more milk and stir.

You'll probably have to walk away from it to eat dinner so if you want to eat your rice pudding hot, just turn the fire back on stir it for a minute or two add a bit more milk if you want and serve hot. Now before you serve it take some slivered almonds and throw them in, stir and serve! The almonds will add a nice crunch that will contrast nicely with the soft creamy rice.

Do you have any tips on getting your significant other into the kitchen with you?


Quick and easy ways to donate to Haiti earthquake victims

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google has set up a special page with all the information about different ways to donate:


There you can donate to organizations using Google check out, as well as see info for SMS donations.


Coloring book for little girls AND big girls.

I'm reading my newly arrived Liv' magazine and noticed this. "My Wonderful Book of Fashion" by illustrator Nina Chakrabarti. How fun!? Gosh too bad I don't have a little daughter and my only niece, little Alexandra, lives in Florida! Otherwise we'd be spread out all over the floor coloring right now. Such a cute gift. What girl (big or small) does not love shoes?
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The easiest carrot cake ever!

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

I've been terrified of baking for a long time, until one day I just... did it. I turned the oven on, I followed the instructions and it actually worked! Well, that was a long time ago. Since then I've learned that oven is your friend. Oven does the work FOR you. Oven and I are buddies now. If only I can say the same for me and the laundry machine...

Here is the easiest recipe for a carrot cake EVER!



>> Friday, January 8, 2010

That is exactly how I can describe weather conditions outside. I walked over to the inlaw's house foe some coffee and cookies during my lunch break. It's great to be able to work from home. Snow is actually enjoyable since I don't have to fight people to get on the delayed public transport.
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I'm dreaming of a white...

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I love it! We had another snowfall this evening. Though it caused major havoc for the commute home, I just can't help thinking how magical it looks!! Yepiiii snow storm!! OK I'll start acting my age next year. Maybe. :)
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An orangery in France.

Now here is a great example of an orangery. I took this out of our bedroom window at the house we stayed at. While architechturally it fits the bill of an orangery, it was located in a closed courtyard which is totally self defeating if you as me. I mean the point of an orangery is really to display what's inside to the world and at the same time be able to see the world from the inside.

It would have been much better placed on our side of the house which overlooked misty fields and a bit of a forrest.

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new year's eve dinner

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I have not had a chance to describe the opulence of our New Year's Eve in France. The six of us stayed at an old farm house and cooked up an amaizing multi course dinner. My best friend M was visiting from Chicago with her husband E. What a change this NYE was. Not to long ago my NYE consisted of wild dancing on the beach of some exotic country or other, just 4 years ago M and I were in Costa Rica viewing the fireworks from a beach at Manuel Antonio. Well now we celebrated also in a different country but it was a bit more relaxed. I found it perfect in its own way. Growing up is not so bad.


taramasalata on blinis
about a million oysters


roasted chicken with chessnuts
green beans
garden vegetables
thyme roasted potatoes

Cheese course:
french cheese gallore, I will be lost to recount all the cheeses

petit fours

Champagne and red wines from Burgundy accompanied the feast.

It was the six of us in a farm house somewhere in the middle of French country side (Ok, a tiny little village called Poligny) and we were thinking about having a very relaxed New Year's Eve, but somhow we still managed to go to beds around 3am. We just got carried away with the deliciousness. It was great!! I would not mind to do a similar stint next year. Just where...?
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>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

Driving back home! Good 'ol Netherlands look just as snowy as when we left her. Exciting! You know what else will be exciting? Sleeping in our own bed!
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