Shovels or Make Snow Angels?

So we have a week of snow.. okay maybe alittle more than a week. And then the rain came and wash the beautiful white snow away. Annoying! Although I really enjoyed the view of white everywhere, I must say these snow causes a lot of inconveniences just as much as the fun we have with it.

Usually, day one of the snow fall… the whole of Netherlands will be in chaos. Just like the war zone… no, I’m exaggerating! 🙂  The highways will be jammed up and you will see on T.V. and hear on the Radio how bad the “File” is. (File in dutch means traffic jams).

Picture from http://www.rnw.nl

And with these “File”, the lazy dutchies (the non-dutch, me included) will be stuck, working at home on the laptop until the “file” is cleared. That could take the whole morning! No, maybe more… hmm.

On the next few days of the snow fall, drivers like me have to be ready with a “Shovel”. The reason is simply because your car might get stuck in the 10 inch snow and no matter how much you step on the accelerator….. the car WILL NOT move. Been there, Done that but without the shovel! Well, because I was never taught I needed one. I have to kick the snow out with my lovely boots! It was a pain! But otherwise…. snow is fun. 🙂

We were enjoying the white a lot and even planned for weekend ice-skating. Until one faithful morning, we woke up and see the white almost gone. The sky was dark, the wind was howling and the rain won’t stop pouring. That was when the snow started melting and the temperature started rising. Before I know it.. the feeling of freezing cold is gone. From -5 degree C, today, we are at +7 degree C! Not that I like the freezing cold weather so much but rain is in my opinion not nice.

Here, I’d share a few of the pictures I’ve captured during the snowy days. After seeing these pictures once again…. I really miss the snowy days! See you soon Snowy! 🙂

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On The Second Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me….

The beautiful Town of Maastrict!!

From my earlier post, I’ve mentioned, we are not done with Christas, we have Day 2. So, yes, the magic continues in Maastricht on Day 2…

Maastricht is a town in Limburg, about 20 minutes from where we stayed. The town was crowd with a lot of people even though the shops are closed. There was a fairly huge crowd also visiting the Church where we lit our candles.

Basilica of Our Lady

In the Centre of the Centrum lies the Christmas Market selling food, commodities and also fun rides.

Christmas Market at the Centrum of Maastricht

Huge Ice Rink @ the Centre of the Market

Also, I was completely engrossed with the shops there even though most of it was closed on the 2nd day of Christmas. As we walk, our head covered with our hoodie because it was raining, the corner of my eyes was drawn to the items behind the glass windows. The Shoes, The Coat, The Bags so beautiful so nice. Deep inside me I was dying for them to be open so I can shop to my heart’s content. Ladies, based on my instinct, I think Maastricht is a very good shopping ground, so if by chance you happen to be in the Netherlands, do not forget to mark Maastricht as a stop for shopping and definately beautiful sight seeing.

Due to time constrain, we did not see alot of Maastricht but again, I cannot be thankful enough to have been able to place my foot on Maastricht town. I promise silently at one corner of the town that I will definitely be back for another weekend getaway. It already feel good being there without seeing much.

After a not so eventful round at Maastricht, we head back to our apartment where we have nice dinner with Jos’ family. We were so pamper with good home cooked food! Fried Risotto Rice Balls with cheese and Pear Soup as starter, Roast Chicken and Beef as Main Course and Super Rich American Chocolate Cake as Dessert. Besides all that, there are also vegetables dish, an apple pie and yummy salad!

Look at Our Christmas Dinner Spread!

wait there is more…..

The Potato Thingy…

The pear Soup in a small cup… because there isn’t enough bowls. How creative! 🙂

Ok and finally… here is a picture of the very rich cake made by Jos… it is so delicious, I am so proud of him!

Yummy!

After a night of the Dutchmen gathering, we had to head home. On the way home, Jos and I had a fight, we were both very angry with one another. We argued from the beginning of our journey home. 2 hours to be exact but we ended the fight before we fall asleep. Each time we fight, at the end of it we thrive…. 🙂 Now, here is a picture of an example of what we were usually during a fight..

Is this sweet or what? 🙂

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me….

Limited Edition – Bike of the seasons.

No, that is not really what I got from Jos of course, but that was really one of the unusual things I have experience over the past 2 days.

We stay over in an apartment together with his parents for 1st and 2nd day of Christmas. And what he really gave me was a touristic view of a small part of Limburg (Mechelan) the most hilly part of the Netherlands. And to me, that was an awesome experience.

Limburg is about 2 hours drive from Dordrecht, it is also near to where the drielandenpunt is located. Drielandenpunt is the famous point where the three countries (Belgium, Netherlands & Germany) Meets. I’ve wanted so much to stand at that point at least once in my life time to be at 3 countries all at the same time, ok not literally but almost!

The day we were at drielandenpunt was rainy  no i should say it was even STORMY at that point. On the way to the drielandenpunt, Jos’ mum was mentioning that there is a little viewing tower there. As I listened in anticipation, she said: “And when we reach the top of the tower…. we can see… NOTHING.” I laughed out really loud because that was really the truth because it was already dark at 430pm. The storm didn’t help, we had to run out and back in to the car just to feel the need to be there. Just like, okay, I’ve been there and done that. well, done what? I quickly did my check in on facebook while the car drove away 🙂

Besides being at the drielanden punt, I’ve seen many unusual things there. One of it was a tree trying very hard to grow in a shape of a house, no bigger, no smaller. And succeeded! What triumph!

Witness a tree succeeding in growing according to the shape of a house.

And other things were like a cross like the one below. We can find them at every corner of every street. Some are huge, some are smaller and others are full of colors. This is because, this small village has a large community of Roman Catholics.

A Catholic Cross

A Catholic Cross

Since we are so near to Belgium, we also patronizes the very famous Mother Goose Inn in Belgium. I did not take any pictures because it was cold, dark, crowded and I was very hungry. The restaurant has a very nice ambiance but unfortunately, I cannot say they serve the most delicious food that day, but the service was really good for a very busy day.

Follow this link to visit their website… http://www.moederdegans.be/English_website.htm

That ends my 1st day of Christmas. I have a wonderful 1st day of Christmas and I cannot be thankful enough to experience Netherlands on the other end. And just for my happiness record, we still have the 2nd day! This is like the first time I celebrate Christmas extensively. In Singapore, we have holiday only on Christmas Day. Here in Holland, we have the 2nd day off too! Blessing number one! 🙂

To top it off, this is also the first year Jos and I celebrate Christmas and New Year together in the same country. For the past 3 years, we had to stream on Tango or Skype to see each other during festive seasons like these. Thank GOD we do not have to go through that trauma ever again! How blessed! 🙂

Our Christmas Tree at Home!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a blessed & peacful Christmas.

Lotsa Love,

Jess

Stamp the Pot with all your might!

I’ve only landed in the lowlands for exactly a week now but there is so many things happening. I’m little overwhelmed but am handling it quite well. A lot of tears because I’m missing home very much. I’m really glad I had Jos who has been so patient with me. Living with my emotional mood swing everyday must be a horrible experience for him.

Anyway, back to the many happenings. Being a Singaporean, the food I ate or love to eat are very different from what the dutch dishes are. I like western food, steak, pasta, hamburger etc but no, don’t like them on a daily basis. So getting use to eating what the dutch would eat naturally become a challenge for me.

I remember Jos made me a Winter dish in November last year, he proudly calls it “boerenkool met worst”. I love this dish very much even though I’m not a big fan for Carbohydrates. So being back in the Netherlands, all I can remember was to eat the same dish since I remember enjoying them enough to remember the name of the dish.

A Stamper

This time, I made it together with Jos although not “met worst” which means “with Sausage” but it’s still good.

I realise, the process of making this dish is simple and fast, all you need is a Stamper, put all ingredients together and mash it with all your might! Thereafter, flavored it with salt and pepper.

I wonder if this stamper is created because of the dutch habit to smashed their food with ease… because I’ve never come across a stamper in our Asian kitchen. On the flip side, this stamper does make it a lot easier to mash the ingredient up but it didn’t say you should be gentle with it. Jos had to repeatly remind me to press the stamper to the bottom of the pot!

Well, the first thing we did was to put bacon to cook in a saucepan until crispy as seen below. While cooking the bacon, we can start boiling potatoes (skin shaved) and 2 eggs (in dutch : Eieren) in a big pot. While cooking and boiling, we chopped up the endive. And then, we make a cup of coffee and return to the couch and relax while waiting.

Randomly, we checked on the bacon, making sure it does not burnt and the potatoes to check it’s softness.

After all that, the hard work begins. Drained the potatoes, remove the eggs and peel the shell. Put the endive and the crispy bacon into the same pot we use to boil the potatoes and begin smashing with all my might.

Anyway, let me now allow the picture to speak it’s thousand word on how this dish is being cooked. 🙂

First thing First - Cook the Bacon with a pan.

Boiling the main ingredients - Potatoes and Eggs

Next you chopped up the Endive!

After everything is cooked.. the bacon, potatoes & eggs (remove shell please..) put them altogether in the same pot.

Stamper is ready to mash them up.

Without the Human... it is not possible of course. 🙂

Finally, the result after much hard work with the Stamper 🙂

This may not be very professionally presented but the taste of it might be nicer than you thought. I had TWO servings of this! So it must be good. If you care for a fuss free and quick fix to your dinner, I believe this could be it and it don’t have to be winter to enjoy a meal like this.

Back in the Lowland with Three Layers

I’ve finally come to term with my move and officially landed in the lowland yesterday. Arrived with 3 degrees and light snow. I was happy to finally see snow again but that didn’t last very long. But the smell of nice fresh air fills me with a light smile. Such fresh air, I will never experience in Singapore.

Except for summer in Holland, most time I had to wear at least 3 layers. First layer, the inner wear, 2nd layer, a light t-shirt, 3rd layer, pull over a sweater (best if wool to keep warm) and finally a heavy over-coat. Oh, that’s 4 layers if the inner wear is consider a layer.

Being home at 830 am on a Sunday morning, Dordrecht was quiet as always. Sunday is supposingly a rest day and the shops are closed. This is not something you will see if you live in Singapore City. Sunday is just like every other day in Singapore, it is hardly quiet.  So having a quiet environment isn’t a bad thing after all if you just landed with a jet lag of 7 hours. I slept for a good 3 hours, waking up feeling hungry, I needed food! When I turn to look out of the window, I snuggled back in bed and slept for another hour.

The cold winter even without much snow sent me back to slumberland. I was dressed comfortably in single layer with the warmth of the heater, I just cannot bring myself out of that warm, fuzzy condition and bring myself out to the cold. It’s not good, I know. I can already imagine myself turning into a white polar bear hiding in it’s den entering its hibernation.

Not moving....

Jos dragged me out of bed anyway. He wanted me to do the usual Sunday walk at the park like everyone else does. I’ve done these walk a few times and I don’t mind having such walks. The difficult part is going through that “4 Layer” process. I fight that all the time but once I’m out, I will always enjoy being out. The strange part is I never stop fighting each time I have to get out of the house. The worst is when I just want to get out to grab a sandwich across the street and even that, I’ve to dressed up in 4 layers. That totally kill me!

Anyway, I do think I should stop complaining and start getting use to these layering since I’m going to be here for an extended period of time. So, let’s focus on the fun ahead! I have found out over 1 day what people do during winter and here is what I’ve found.

Nature Park Walking

I do realise, when Jos had nothing to do, he drag me out to walk the park. Naturally, I asked… “is this park walking thing a Dutch thing? And naturally, the answer was “Yes!” Yesterday, we went to the same park we went during summer last year – De Merwelanden. I remembered the first time Jos brought me there was when I sulked because he didn’t want to bring me anywhere and in the end, we went Park Walking. This time, he brought me back to the same park because I was asking for green bean soup for lunch and they happen to have a nice cafe by the park of which I remembered was in front of a very pretty lake. But this time, the feel of walking the park during winter and summer brings a vast different. It doesn’t look the same at all. First of course, there wasn’t any sunshine and also the trees has no leaves! I realise now how depressing it is when the trees has nothing but branches without the green leaves.

Anyway, my point is, winter or summer, spring or autumn, people in Holland, walk. These park are well organised with walking path and cycling tracks. These path are even segregated between long walk, not so long walk and shorter walk. So if you feel fit, you can talk a longer path. Whatever path you take, it will lead you back safely. I don’t know how, but I managed with Jos’ guidance.

Park Walking

Ice Skating

I missed by one week to do the real skating on natural ice. After some interviewing and chatting up with local dutch besides Jos, I realise the dutch are quite crazy about ice-skating. Although, the dutch generally do not like winter very much, they made full use of the condition.

“Dear Weather, if you bring on the snow and make it nasty cold, we will do the ice-skating”

With love, Dutchies

But the horror truth is, there are people who get drowned due to ice-skating. This is because the ice cracked and the unlucky one fell through the crack and was unable to find his way out since the rest of the ice is nicely intact. In another words, you could be buried under ice if you are the unlucky one. That in my opinion is scary. Ok, I know I’m being paranoid but still, think about it! No, I do not want to ice-skate on natural ice….

Do not cracked on me!

That’s all for today’s sharing on my view about the lowlands. Don’t take my view too seriously because I can be too negative and extremely paranoid. Wait till you did the same, we can share our views. Now, I’m looking forward to spring! Bring back those green and all the colors! 🙂

Christmas Trees are Trees decorated

I know right.. I’ve been writing too many posts about Christmas and Winter and Snow.. and Snow and Winter and Christmas.. Sorry I just had to since now Christmas to me is not just about partying in a club, counting down to Christmas and getting wasted with loads of beer. Christmas in Holland isn’t about clubbing, well, at least I was told, all shops are close so everyone had to stay at home or have dinner with friends and relatives.

It seems to me that having a Christmas Trees in every household in Holland is almost mandatory since even Nelly had to make sure Jos has one in his home although Jos hates decorating the tree.

For 2 years, I’ve decorated the Christmas tree at Jos’ home. And both years, they were live Christmas Tree. The reason I emphasize “Live” is because in Singapore, a fake tree is recyclable and a real tree have to be disposed after Christmas and its really not important to have a real tree or any tree for that matter.

Jos and I was shopping for a Christmas tree and he picked one that is crooked. I’ve spotted the crookedness and had suggested we should pick another. Its strange but Jos insisted on that 1st tree he set his eyes upon! He insisted that these are Natural and there are bound to be some flaws which he claim we could easily fixed. Ok, he win.

Take a look now at how crooked the mini tree look : (you must agree with me)

But after some artificial help to correct the standing of the tree with wood blocks by the Grandmaster.. The tree was standing up right! So what’s with imperfections? There will always be a way to beautify them.

Things that are natural cannot be perfect but they can still be pretty. After all, a Christmas Tree is any Tree that is decorated. You can pick the ugliest tree from any random garden, oh but make sure you cut and trim them to a shape of a triangle, decorate it and tada! It might be good enough for some Christmas Tree Contest! Is there even one? Maybe there should be one sometime soon!

Merry Christmas People!

 

 

Walking in the Winter Wonderland

I really miss snow. I miss the beauty of white all around me. I miss making snow balls. I miss skiing. I don’t mind the glare, I just love the view of snow everywhere!

Why is it not snowing in the Netherlands yet? This time last year, it was already snowing heavily with snow as high as my tall boots. To proof what I’ve said is true, check this:

Look! Snow!

I remembered having so much fun walking along Utrecht town with Hilde who didn’t like the snow as much as I did. She was walking so fast just to get into any shelter while me… taking a video of the falling snow. That’s plainly because I’ve longed to walk in snow. I enjoyed every bit of snow flakes dropping on me out-stretched hand. I count every snow flakes that falls on my hand and watch them melt away slowly. God’s creation! I marveled at God’s Creation of this season. I feel plain happiness just doing that.

While editing a video I wanna make for Jos, I found out that I still have a short clip of the walk in Utrecht, Netherlands. So do check the video below from December 2010. You would probably feel the same way I did while watching this short clip.

When will I do the same again? I want it to snow so bad. Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW!!!