zondag 20 juli 2014

A holiday in Tuscany - part one (planning)

Hi there, happy sunday!

My fellow western-europeans will sympathize with me now, the past three days the temperature here reached record heights, so bad actually that I got ill of the heat last night. Boohoo. But here I am, sitting in front of the television reminiscing about a little over a week ago when I was still in beautiful Siena. While it was very warm there too, there were so many other factors that made it so much more enjoyable, and I remembered thinking while on holiday: "I must write a blog post about this, other people could relive my holiday through the internet in some way". And on top of that, by writing a blog post about my holiday maybe I can inspire you and offer some tips for when you want to visit Siena and the rest of Tuscany.

Wishing I was still there, with that ice-cream

This blogpost will all be about our planning process and things we arranged on beforehand, during the coming days you can expect blogposts about the holiday itself, what we visited, where and what we ate and all of those details split into three separate blogposts. I'm already looking forward to writing that because it will be like reliving my own holiday ;), so I'll try to do it as good as possible to properly deliver the wonderful holiday in text to you.

Why Siena?

Piazza il Campo

I went away for 6 days together with my boyfriend, and this region is really perfect for a romantic holiday for two. We decided to go there on a very 'interesting' decision making process. We went to the website skyscanner and looked for the cheapest flights we could find to a warm country (and preferably not Spain because we were there for the last two holidays). Flying from the Netherlands to Pisa Airport was the best option at that point so we started working from there.

I've been to Siena and other regions of Tuscany a couple of times with my parents when I was younger, so I knew Siena was a large enough city to spend a couple of days discovering, and I knew there were a lot of little villages in the neighborhood that would be lovely to visit. When going to Tuscany you do want to be able to rent a car (you also want to have some experience of driving in hilly areas, but more about that later). I looked up whether it was easy enough to travel from Pisa Airport to Siena, found out that it actually is really doable and then we set out to find a hotel (I will give you a description of how to travel from Pisa Airport to Siena later).

Where to stay?
In Tuscany you can opt for renting a house, or looking for a hotel. Since we chose to stay at a hotel in Siena, that is what I will focus on. For booking a hotel I recommend the website: booking.com. When staying in Siena there are a couple of things to consider because there is a wide array of options when looking for a hotel in Siena. You can either be really in the city center, or right outside of the city walls, being in or outside of these walls does determine some other options, for example parking space and the availability of a swimming pool. We went in the beginning of July, which raises the possibility of very hot weather so we chose to look for a hotel with a swimming pool. Joost and I are both still students so our budgets match that, so that was another criterium we had to incorporate in our search. Long story short, we chose to stay at Hotel Garden.

How to get there and get around

The first view-from-a-height you'll get

At Pisa airport there is a little desk where you can buy train tickets, you probably won't expect it there so when you arrive, keep your eyes open! We asked for train tickets to Siena and we got one ticket for two adults (due adulti) from the airport to Pisa train station by bus and from Pisa train station to Siena train station with a switch in 'Empoli'. The bus from Pisa Airport leaves about every 10 minutes and it is a short ride, you'll arrive at the back of the Pisa train station and you'll need to take a tunnel that connects all of the different tracks. While underground you have to look for an information board that lists every train that leaves every day, look for the first train that passes through Empoli and what is the final destination of that train (if I'm correct that is 'Firenze'), then you look at the digital notice boards above each of the tracks and find the train you need. The trip from Pisa to Empoli is a short trip, you'll pass two or three other stations. At Empoli you do the same thing, you find the information board that lists all of the trains and you find the train to Siena, go to the right track, get on the train and enjoy the scenery! You've arrived in Tuscany!

Once you arrive in Siena a whole new adventure starts. You look for the information boards that point towards the city center and you'll have to go up about 12 escalators, and it is really steep. Every time you'll think: "another escalator?", yes, another escalator. You'll end up at a large gate outside of the city walls and you'll get your first wonderful view of the Tuscan scenery from a height. Walk to your left and you'll end up in the inner city, walk to your right, and you'll end up at hotel Garden.

As I already explained, we were on a student budget, so we couldn't afford to rent a car for more than one day, but it was definitely worth it! We rented the car (a cute Fiat 500) from monday at noon until tuesday at noon, and we had the rental car company deliver the car at the hotel because their office was on the other side of town. I've had my license for over 5 years but I'm Dutch so I don't have any experience with hills or mountains which resulted in some scary situations. So either make sure you travel with someone who does have experience in driving in such situations or read up on it before you leave. I managed to wiggle myself out of some tricky situations, but I had the luck of traveling with Mr. Cool&Collected-Joost. He stayed so calm and relaxed while I was driving which was great whenever I panicked.

Our experience

View of the garden of Hotel Garden, it suits it's name

We had a wonderful stay, it is a very large hotel with friendly staf, a beautiful pool and a great location. It was about half an hour walk of the piazza il Campo (the heart of Siena), and in total I think we took the bus 4 times, so unless you have problems walking it is really not a problem. The rooms are decorated in a kind of old fashioned Italian way, but they are clean, comfortable and well equipped. The hotel had a nice bar and a great breakfast every morning with a gluten free option, the only comment I could make that would be less positive is that it is not necessarily a hotel for 'young couples'. If you're looking for something a bit more modern and cool you probably won't feel at home in this hotel, but we had a great stay.

I know I looked for this kind of information before we left and it was difficult to find up to date information, so I hope anyone will benefit from this blogpost (and that it was enjoyable to read for everyone else who is not planning to go to Tuscany). If you enjoyed this, do leave me a comment, that makes the writing of these posts even more enjoyable!

Lots of love,

maandag 30 juni 2014

Update & vacation/style favourites

Hey there! Happy monday!

*beware: a long and rambly blogpost is following*

There we go, June's almost over and it's officially summer! Time flies when you're busy! It's been a while since I blogged and I feel like the last couple of posts I wrote were more focussed on the recipes rather than on what I was getting up to so I thought it'd be nice to catch up a bit! 

I have finished all of my classes for my master's degree, the only thing left to do now is write my thesis. Technically that should have been finished by the end of this summer but I've bitten of more than I can chew so I'll be working on that a bit longer. It also didn't help that I was finishing up all sorts of things, my committee work for ESN, my last classes, trying to find out what kind of work I could and want to do when I'm finished with all of this, but I seem to be getting nice on track. On top of that I figured that it would be helpful to do an internship, a bit more practical experience never hurt anyone, right? 

Sometimes it does get kind of stressful for me though, imagining what I'd actually like to do when I'm finished, and trying to find out who would actually like to hire me and for what qualities. But I don't think I am the only one stuck with these kinds of questions, or am I? Thinking about that makes me feel a bit more confident. On top of that I am now applying for an internship at a company I've been following for a while, my thesis is starting to take some shape (not physically yet, but my ideas are starting to settle), overall, things are going well! No better time for going on holiday I'd say! 

So this friday I'm leaving to go to Siena in Tuscany, the prospects of spending a week in a country where there is going to be sunshine and 30 degrees all the time is getting me SO excited. At the same time I got this feeling, and I'm pretty sure you are going to be able to relate to this: 'WHAT THE H*** AM I GOING TO WEAR?'. Last week I thought I'd lost my favorite skirt, and that got me so down I actually thought I had only one dress and two pairs of shorts to wear. Luckily when I actually opened my closet I found I had enough summer outfits for three weeks worth of summer vacations haha... (If you'd like me to show you what kinds of outfits I had in mind leave me a comment below, I'd actually might like to do a photo series on that). 

However, going on holiday I think is a perfect time to go shopping, there are always these little things you can buy that'll transform your old wardrobe into a completely new set of clothes if you manage to buy the right things! I chose four things I have bought recently and that I've really been enjoying and that I know are a great addition to my existing collection of stuffs. 

Essie - Go Ginza
To start off: two beauty items. 
The first is this nailpolish by Essie. It is a soft lilac color called 'go ginza', the reason why I think this nailpolish is a great buy right before a vacation is because it is a light color that will contrast nicely with a tan. It also goes with a large array of clothing, it's awesome with pastels of course, but it can also girl up a rough looking jean-jacket. Before I applied two coats of this polish I filed my nails to make them completely smooth. Essie nailpolish is amazing, I've been wearing this for 5 days now and while you can tell it is not a 'fresh paint job', it still hasn't chipped at all! 

Clinique - High Impact Curling Mascara

The next thing you can really treat yourself to before you go on holiday is a really nice mascara. Most of the time I buy drugstore mascaras by Maybelline or L'Oreal but they really are nothing in comparison to this one by Clinique. It is the High Impact Curling Mascara and it makes my lashes curl and voluminous like nothing else! And the best thing about this mascara is that you can remove it with warm water, so no make up remover needed! While I'm typing this I can imagine this might raise questions with some of you, because if you can remove it with warm water, won't it come off in the swimming pool? No, you need to gently grab your lashes between your index finger and thumb to remove the mascara when it is wet, so if you don't touch your eyes while swimming it won't budge or bleed at all! A mascara is a great thing to buy right before you go on holiday because when you've got a tan, you really don't need a lot of make up at all to look great and glowing, the only thing you need is a good mascara! 

See through stripy T-shirt from Primark
This next one is a 'fashion' favourite. I would never claim to be a fashionable person. I wish I had the fashion sense of some of my friends who are amazing at shopping in vintage stores, generally I have to look at them and other people to get inspiration for cool outfits. But I really do like simple clothes with a funny detail to them, and I like to pair it with a nice necklace or a pair of larger ear rings. I bought this shirt at Primark last friday and it really fits the description I just gave about my 'fashion sense' haha. It is a loose fitting high neck tshirt with stripes of black fabric and mesh in between. I thought this would be great on vacation because it kind of covers my shoulders, which I like when I'm carrying my camera around, but at the same time it looks really loose and airy because of the see-through stripes. Obviously I wear it with a tank top underneath, but paired with my necklace that is missing a bead I think I look rather cool ;). Plus it doesn't take lots of space in my suitcase...

Pieces bag
My last vacation favorite is this bag. I bought it only yesterday but seriously I'm in love with this thing.... If you read my blog regularly (or when you scroll down...) you know that I carry around quite large bags all the time. The things I bring with me from day to day... completely useless. The only way to limit this, in my case is to bring a smaller bag! Perfect for on vacation because I think I might have made my back grow crooked because I've been wearing these heavy large bags on my right shoulder for years now... It is a bag by pieces with a cotton front and back with a cool print. On top it has a black zip and the interior has three compartments that are the perfect size for some sunglasses, a phone, passport and some money. It has a large crossover strap which I like because then it won't fall off of my shoulder every 5 seconds! It was love at first sight!

Phiew... what a great feeling to type so much in one go... maybe I should try doing the same for my thesis haha! I hope you've enjoyed reading this, I would really like to hear from you guys! You can just leave a comment below on what your staples are during vacations, follow me on instagram or twitter or go over to my blog's facebook page! I'll talk to you soon :). 

Lots of love,

dinsdag 3 juni 2014

King of the Summer Salad

Hello there! Welcome to summer!
Almost. Almost welcome to summer!

Summer captured in 4 pictures (including my post-running face)

The weather is not always agreeing, if I would have written this blog post last week you probably would have declared me crazy. Even though it is not extremely sunny today, it is still hot, humid and sticky, which equals to a true Dutch summer if you ask me! Luckily enough there have been enough sunny days to have the amount of strawberries exponentially increase in the shops (for reasonable prices, locally grown).

So when I say strawberries, you say:

but I say:

Say what? Say salad! In a month I'm going on a holiday to Tuscany (in Italy, obviously) and even though I'm moderately happy with my body when I'm clothed, I'm not too confident while wearing a bikini... Expecting me to diet is a very unrealistic thought. I like to run, so I try to do that a bit more often, and to be a bit more active overall, but I like food too much to be seriously cutting back on that department.

I really do think you can have it both ways though... it is all in choosing overall healthy ingredients that taste great and keep you fully nourished so you won't feel the need to snack throughout the day! That is what this salad will do for you. I've had the basic salad years earlier for the first time, but I stumbled across another version of it on the blog called gimmesomeoven, if you click the link it'll take you to the original recipe.

However, I found that the original recipe was not really a full meal... I had it for dinner with nothing on the side yesterday and I was so hungry the rest of the evening I actually stole some of my boyfriends food off of his plate *naughty*. I had so many of the ingredients left over today I thought I'd give it another try, but this time I added some bits and pieces that did make it a full evening meal. So here it goes, I hope you'll like it!

King of the Summer Salad

Goats cheese & bacon, Summer on a plate

Ingredients (for 1 serving):
50 grams of pasta like orecchiette
2 large handfuls of baby Spinach
3 large strawberries cut into little pieces
half an avocado cut into pieces
half a red union, thinly sliced
2 rashes of bacon
soft goats cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
a bit of honey
poppy seed dressing

Poppyseed dressing
Ingredients (for 1 serving):
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of honey
half a teaspoon of mustard
pepper & salt to taste
1 teaspoon of poppy-seeds

To start I turned on the oven, my oven does not really have settings... but I put it on medium heat. I took the bacon and cut the rashes in half. Then I put 1 teaspoon of goats cheese on each half of the rashes of bacon, added a drop of honey and sprinkled some oregano on top. Then I folded the bacon over the cheese until it was completely covered. I baked these parcels of love on a sheet of baking paper for about 15 minutes in the oven. The cheese will probably seep out a bit, but that honestly doesn't matter.

I boiled some water, added some salt and boiled the pasta. You might think that this amount of pasta is not enough, but don't forget you're adding a complete salad to this... it is only to bulk it up a bit! Once it is cooked (after 10 minutes or so) you rinse them under cold water.

I then assembled the salad, which really is the most difficult task of this recipe because you have to toss everything on a plate and make it look artistic. You then mix up the dressing, which possibly is even harder than the salad because you have to put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix it up... Add your dressing to the salad and put the goats cheese/bacon treats cut into little pieces on top!

The strawberries and poppy-seeds really need to be the heroes of this dish, so before you add the dressing make sure it is not to sour, and don't get tempted to add more bacon to this dish, you won't need it!

Give it a try and let me know what you think! You can leave me a comment below this article, or follow my facebook page, instagram or twitter, I'd love to hear what you think!

Lots of love,

woensdag 14 mei 2014

Procrastination (a.k.a. rhubarb muffins)

Hey! Happy Wednesday!

It's been a while since we talked! Or actually since I talked. But really just wrote. And you read. Anyways, I had things to do, so obviously I decided it was time to bake again haha.

Lately I've been obsessed with rhubarb, and for the non-foodies amongst us I'll get into Jamie Oliver mode: "What is up with these kids nowadays, they can hardly recognize a potato! Rhubarb is a plant with long stalks that are green at the tips and bright red at the bottom, uncooked it is really crunchy and sour but when cooked they get really soft and silky and they are really good in savory recipes as well as baked goods.

I saw those bright red stalks in the shops last week and suddenly was craving a rhubarb and apple crumble. I had some of the apple-rhubarb mixture left over and I've been eating it for almost a week for breakfast with some yoghurt and muesli! So good! Then this morning, I had the last little leftover and I hurried to the shops and buy some more. This time no crumble however, too mainstream for me. I wanted to make rhubarb muffins but for some reason I couldn't find any recipes on the interwebs that sounded good enough?! In the end I decided to modify a banana and cinnamon recipe that I found in one of my cookbooks, and I was so pleased with the result I decided I couldn't keep it to myself.

So here you go: My rhubarb banana and cinnamon muffins

400g of Rhubarb 
5 tbs of sugar

350g of flour
3/4 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
160g of caster sugar 
375 ml of buttermilk (Or 375 ml of milk with two tbs of lemon juice)
1 egg
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
70g of unsalted butter
1 banana, peeled and mashed

1. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces, add them to a pan with the 5 tbs of sugar. Let it cook down until you are left with a jammy mixture that is slightly sweet but mostly tart

2. Preheat your oven to 170C 

3. Mix all of your dry ingredients together (the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon) 

4. Mix the buttermilk (or your milk mixture) with a beaten egg and the vanilla. Add this to your dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined

5. Melt your butter and add together with the mashed banana to the mixture, mix again with the wooden spoon until evenly dispersed

6. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases in a muffin tin. On top of each muffin add a tsp of the rhubarb mixture

7. Put it into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, this really depends on the size of your muffin tins, mine were really small so they were done really quickly. I covered them with tin foil for the last 3 minutes to stop them from browning

This really are the best muffins I've ever made, they are really fluffy, absolutely not dry and not overly sweet! I had them with a nice cup of green tea but once they are cooled down I think they are also very nice with some lemonade as that would complement the tartness and sweetness of the muffins! 

I'd love to hear what you think of this recipe, and whether you share my love for rhubarb! To what do you like to add rhubarb? Or do you prefer some other type of summer fruit in pastries? 

Thanks so much for reading, and I'll write to you soon ;)

lots of love,

maandag 24 maart 2014

What's in my bag?

Writing about food is great and all that, but let's not kid ourselves... I don't cook elaborately every day... (except for the last 5 days, but that's an exception, lasagna recipe coming your way soon!). In those cases you need some other things to write about.

Then I got this great inspiration from a fellow blogger and friend: perlenmama. She is a mommy blogger who writes in German about her daily life with her just-turned-2-year-old daughter, if you know how to read in German or if you know how to work google-translate you should check out her blog! A couple of days ago she wrote a post about the contents of her bag, and since I always get surprised every time I open my bag I thought it would make a fun post for my blog as well!

So this is my bag for winter. It is very practical. Hi, I'm Dutch, did I tell you that already? :P It rains a fair bit here, so you want at least one bag that'll prevent your phone from drowning and this one does the trick. It is a bag from Fossil, which is one of my favorite brands! I've been wearing watches from that brand since I was seventeen ( I bought it in New York ), and when I discovered there was also a shop in my neighborhood I've been buying their bags as well. It looks kind of compact, but it can fit quite a lot! 

This is a list of what you can find in my bag: 
  • A Rimmel lasting finish by Kate in the color 'rossetto - 07'
  • A Labello Repair & Beauty lipbalm (which I don't love... why do I keep it in my bag?)
  • Two of my L'Occitane handcream trio in the knitted pouch
  • A spectacle-cleaning-towlette-thingee
  • A Maalox tablet
  • A hairpin from Oysho
  • Four pens (why do I carry around so many pens... I told you I get surprised every time I look in my bag)
  • My iPhone 4
  • My week planner from Flow Magazine
  • My Tommy Hilfiger wallet I've had since I was 17, I might need a new one haha
  • Peppermint with licorice flavor
  • Mint and Strawberry gum
  • A lollypop I got in Barcelona at a restaurant haha
That, minus a couple of receipts that I threw away when I found them hiding in my bag! Hm my bag is even more practical than I already thought! 

Sooo, now a little update on my week. i've been writing papers again, what a surprise! I did manage to plan in some fun stuff as well, gotta keep things balanced, right?! Last thursday me and Joost made an insane amount of sushi and we washed it down with some really good gin and tonics, on friday I heated up a portion of home made lasagna of earlier that week, which is even more awesome than eating it the first time you make it because you have to put in no effort and still you are enjoying an incredible home made meal! On saturday I had a team-building activity with my committee, we went glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing (yes that exists...) and in the evening me and another committee-member cooked up a nice meal (chicken wrapped up in bacon with oven-baked potatoes and a lot of salad and a tiny apple-pie dessert). Yesterday me and a friend went cycling on the country side and we ate pancakes, had an awesome time and when I got home I made couscous with sausages and ratatouille. Okay that was my week in food haha. Oh and I bought flowers! They are orange and look very cute! 

And now life continues, and I'm writing another paper! 2 down, 1 to go... I'm almost there, almost there!

That was all! I hope you enjoyed this post, I'd love it if you left me a comment if you did ;). Also check out my facebook page over here: https://www.facebook.com/FloorOneSmileaDay

Lots of love,

dinsdag 18 maart 2014

Millionaire's Shortbread

Hey there! Happy Tuesday!

What's that? You've got a craving for chocolate, caramel AND cookies? 
You can't choose? Why would you, when there is such a wonderful thing as millionaire's shortbread?

A famous writer once wrote: 
"Everything in moderation, including moderation"- Oscar Wilde. 
And that is exactly what you should keep in mind when making and eating these delicious treats. You will have bowls that are covered with sticky caramel and melted chocolate that are impossible to get out, so you will feel the strong urge to clean everything with your finger and your tongue. I wouldn't discourage that, but do it in moderation, because you will be to nauseous to even try the shortbread when it's done! 

I made this last thursday with the 'Boyfriend', and he had a jar full of good quality salted caramel from a foody type of birchbox. We just baked the shortbread, spread the caramel on top when it was cooled down and added the chocolate. The recipe does not call for this but I did have some gluten-free flour lying around and we thought it would make the shortbread more crisp and flaky while at the same time we would limit the amount of gluten in the cookie, which for some people is a good thing! 

The result looks like this, and the ingredient list and recipe you can find below! 

Tiny treats, great for sharing (or not)

Millionaire's Shortbread

1 tin of condensed milk
150g of flour
100g of gluten-free flour
75g of white muscavado sugar 
300 g of flour
125g of sugar
200g of pure chocolate

Start with the caramel, I didn't make this myself but this recipe for caramel is fairly widespread so I think we can assume it will lead to the same kind of result! Of course if you can find a good quality caramel in your shop, you can totally go for that instead.

If you're making the caramel, put the tin of condensed milk covered in a pan with boiling water with a lid on top and boil it on low heat for three hours. Check every now and then whether the water level is still high enough, the tin should be totally covered! After three hours take it out of the pan and let it cool down for 30 minutes. Then melt 125g of the butter in a pan and add the sugar and let everything melt together. Add the caramelized condensed milk and let it warm up for 5 minutes. You can also add some sea salt to make it a salted caramel, the jar I used did have salt and the result was awesome!

Heat up the oven to 180 degrees C. Crumb the two types of flour and the rest of the butter (175g) together and add the white muscavado sugar. Kneed the crumbs together to a dough and press it down in your square baking pan lined with baking paper. With a fork make some little holes in the dough and bake it for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven until it's nice and brown and done. Let the shortbread cool down completely. 

On top of the cooled down shortbread spread your caramel and let it set for a little while. I put it in the freezer so it would set a bit faster and if you do that it only takes 10 minutes to set. While it's in the freezer, melt your chocolate au-bain-marie, and then spread the chocolate on top of the caramel. We also added some sea-salt flakes on top of the chocolate to give it an extra kick! Put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes and then you can take it out. 

Take the Millionaire's Shortbread out of the baking tin and cut it into small pieces. Again, everything in moderation, including moderation. That goes best if you cut it into small pieces, so you don't end up eating half the thing in half an hour and getting completely sick with all of that chocolate and caramel. 

So... good luck with that. I can't stop eating those things, it was a good thing I wasn't at home this weekend otherwise I would have eaten even more... But then again, I had more than enough treats this weekend, I was at my parents place I had so much good food once again! At least now I have some more little treats to get myself through the week haha! 

I'd love to hear your comments, whether you've tried to make them or any other recipe's for me to try! So do let me know how you get on! You can contact me through facebook, twitter, instagram or in the old fashioned way, through the comments below this post! 

Lots of love,

donderdag 13 maart 2014

Healthy Breakfast Favourites

Once again, it has been too long!

I hope you haven't been missing my blogs too much, as time dragged on I was getting more and more ashamed of not writing yet another day, which of course did not help my creative process... So before I get on with the main topic of this blog, a little update on what I have been up to!

I think it is about 2,5 weeks ago since I wrote my last blogpost, since then I have been to The Hague (twice), Breda, Utrecht, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. (As I'm writing this down I can hardly believe it actually... I didn't know I've been all over the Netherlands so much haha). I've been on excursions with ESN twice (to Amsterdam and the Hague), celebrated carnaval in Breda, spent some time in the sun in Maastricht, interview consultants in Rotterdam and went about with my daily life in Utrecht.

With some of my best friends in The Hague
Celebrating Carnaval with Joost <3
exploding fields of crocuses in The Hague

Ahhh the daily life, you probably will recognize this, the good times and the bad. Last week was one of those 'bad' times. I like some routine in my days and suddenly I was thrown out of my routine because of a lack of classes and other things. I was so grumpy all week long... So what I've been trying to do to improve my own mood is go for a run two times a week. Having these anchor points in my week (and in my days) help me so much to stay motivated. I push myself to go faster and further every time I run, and I know that when I get back I take a nice shower, have a proper lunch and then have more energy to get Uni-stuff done. It has improved my mood a lot!

Something else that improves my mood is my breakfasts. Going for a run twice a week has motivated me to have healthier breakfasts as well. The typical Dutch breakfast is a cheese sandwich or a sandwich with chocolate sprinkles or peanut butter and a glass of milk or coffee/tea. But as you can imagine, this is not the best breakfast you can give yourself to stay nourished and full all morning. I started putting more effort in my breakfast and taking a bit more time to prepare something healthy, so here I have two healthy options for you to try if you are looking for some new breakfast ideas!

My first option is best for the colder days: Oatmeal!
I don't think I've ever had this as a child... But I love it now and I think it would be very suitable for children as well. I started making this half a year ago with milk, but these large quantities of milk started to give me stomach aches and made me very nauseous, so I steered away from that for a while. I always thought that making it with milk would lead me to a tasteless, disgusting porridge but actually it is not that bad at all! So now I make it with mostly water and a splash of milk to add a bit of creaminess.

1 portion Oatmeal:

Yummy oatmeal with in-season blueberries

175 ml water
4 heaped tablespoons of steal-cut oats
a splash of milk 
a pinch of salt

Toasted almonds, cinnamon, raisins (and a sprinkle of sugar)
Blueberries, desiccated coconut, cinnamon
Banana, Raisins, cinnamon

Heat up the water in a small pan until it starts boiling. Add the oats and let them cook for about 2 minutes, add the sprinkle of salt. When it starts to bubble cohesively and looks a bit gloopy it's perfect. Take it off of the heat and stir in the milk. Leave it for about a minute so that the oats can soak up all of the liquids.

Pour the oatmeal in a bowl and add the toppings. I gave you three of my favorite versions, as you can see I LOVE cinnamon... I can't help it. I also have a bit of a sweet-tooth, so I always add a sprinkle of sugar. Not too much, just a bit to give it a hint of sweetness... I know I should learn to live without... 

I don't always have the time to prepare my oatmeal, so I used to have some regular cereal that I would eat with yoghurt or milk if I had to get out of the house really quickly. But then I found a recipe to make my own granola! Life changer! It is so damn easy, and so tasty, and I really believe it is a healthier option to buying the stuff in the shop! The reason for that is that you can control the amount of sweetness you add, and I prefer to use honey because it is a natural sweetener and I think that makes it a healthier option to some artificial sugars. Make a large batch of this stuff on the weekend and you'll be laughing the rest of the week! I eat it with some yoghurt and some fresh fruit, and I'm a good girl so I don't add any more sweetness to my yoghurt and muesli, at least that is one step forward ;). 


The result of a saturday morning cooking session, granola with mango
Steal-cut oats (as much as you want...) 
Sunflower Oil
(egg white)
ground ginger

dried fruits
desiccated coconut
toasted almonds

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. 
Pour your oats onto a baking tray and add your spices, then start drizzling some honey and some sunflower oil over your oats. You want all of those little oats to be coated in some lovely sweetness and a bit of oil, it should end up looking a bit sticky. If you would start baking this off now you would end up with a granola that has a lot of loose oats (which I like). You can also loosely whip an egg white and add that to the mixture. The egg white will make sure more oats will stick together and you'll end up with some nice crunchy oat-clusters. Yum! 
As with the oatmeal, the toppings really are up to you! Before it goes into the oven add the stuff that needs toasting off as well, such as the coconut and the almonds. Add the dried fruit after the mixture comes out of the oven so that they don't become too tough. 
Bake off the oat-mixture for about half an hour, or even longer. It really depends on how dark you want your granola! Do mix up the mixture on your baking tray every ten minutes so that every oat gets nice and toasty. 
When you're done baking it, take it out of the oven, and let it dry completely on a cool surface. So take it off of the baking tray and let it cool completely until dry. When it comes out of the oven it might feel a bit moist but that will go away within 10 minutes!

Ahhh I'm glad I got that done... I hope it is as nice to read as it was to write! Please let me know what you think about my 'healthier' breakfast options, what toppings you like to add to your oatmeal and also please let me know if you give making your own granola a try! 

Lots of love,

maandag 24 februari 2014

Something new: YouTube Video!

Happy monday everyone!

I hope you're all surviving the first day back at work or back in school, and I hope you didn't have any problems getting out of bed this morning! I had to get up at 7 am. It was just not the right time if you know what I mean!

Last week I've been thinking about about what I wanted to do for my blog, since I really like to try new things and trigger my creativity. Unfortunately my creativity failed on me, but the reason for that was perhaps that I was focussing a bit more on some other things. I'll ramble on about those things in a second but in the end I did manage to make something new for you guys: it's a youtube video!

Last week I had another one of those weeks where I didn't cook anything all week besides my breakfast. I know my mother would love to have a week like that but feel really disconnected if I don't cook my own food, I like to know what goes in it and the process of buying the ingredients and cooking everything is very soothing to me. I was also wearing a new (not necessarily pretty) accessory: a borrowed fitbit. If you're a bit into fitness you might have picked up on this hype, it is a little sensor that detects how many steps you take every day, how many stairs you climb, how many calories you burn etc. So at the same time I was focussing on moving around a bit more, but I was eating very unhealthy and I didn't cook anything... That seems a bit unbalanced, doesn't it?

This week I'm cooking again, and I'm also focussing on my fitness because I got some new running gear from my dad, which is a good incentive for me to go for a run. (By the way, if you are in need of some new running gear to get you out of the house, check out the H&M. I got the cutest and most comfortable top in bright orange with long sleeves and a little orange jacket to go with it and I'm soooo satisfied with the quality of the fabrics! And it's H&M so the prices are really wallet-friendly!)

My new flashy running gear :)
Back to the cooking... Most of the time I cook pretty healthy anyways, but I do like to bake. My personal philosophy is that if I have baked it myself it's not as bad as when I buy my treats because I'll end up sharing more and I only put in good ingredients in anything I bake. So when I finished my assignment on sunday afternoon I thought I deserved some little baking-time. I made madeleines again, and if you've been reading my blog for a while you know I have a blogpost about honey and earl grey madeleines, but this time I made lemon and poppyseed madeleines. This change is not really worth writing a whole new recipe so I did something else instead! I made my recipe into a little video!

It was very funny to film because I used my iPad, so I was holding it while stirring or picking things up, so every now and then you'll see me mis-grab something or just being very clumsy in general haha, but in the end it turned out to be quite cute, so I thought that would be a fun thing to start this week with!

I hope you guys enjoy it as well, please let me know if you do because then I know whether I should try to make these little clips more often! You can like it or comment on it or send me a message via twitter or via facebook, in general I just love getting messages from you :).

Lots of love,

zaterdag 15 februari 2014

These are a few of my favorite things!

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles,

Haha just joking! (Although I wouldn't pass on a good apple strudle!)

Happy saturday! 
It's weekend again and my mind has cleared up from all those stress clouds that were so dominant last week! The moment I know things are going well and relaxed again is when I start to notice all those little things that can make you so happy. That is why I am sharing those with you now, maybe you're stressed out and you need a little reminder of life's joys, or maybe you are already on a life-high, in that case we can ride that wave together! High-five! Yeah! (Did i just virtually high-five you...? I guess I did hahahaha)

1. First of all, I got my new glasses! Finally! I've been waiting for 4 weeks before they were ready! I don't really mind wearing contacts, but I hated my old glasses, so every time I would wear them I would feel seriously unpretty. Definitely not a way you want to feel because of something silly as glasses... But now I've got these and I like them ;). What do you think?

My new Vogue Specs :)

2. Yesterday I had the best valentines day ever, and the best thing about it was that it wasn't a big deal for once! It sounds really boring but I really like the security I have with Joost as my boyfriend, while at the same time we go out of our way to do all these fun things together. It's so uncomplicated! We had an excellent dinner though, tapas like they are supposed to be and a good glass of red wine for me and some beers for Joost :).

The best tapas in town!

3. I read somewhere that with celebrating valentines day we also celebrate spring winning the battle with winter, and I totally agree with celebrating that! Spring is about a month early (or so I read), but I started noticing little green buds and pastel colored flowers in gardens and fields. Best time of the year ever! 

Bright green buds on a tree

4. With spring comes a different set of clothes, not everyone might agree with me but I cannot wear the same colors in winter as in summer. In winter I wear a lot of burgundy, black, dark blue and green (and I think winter has been going on too long according to Joost because he starts to comment on my amount of dark clothes now haha). While in summer I wear more brights, corals, mint greens, white and light blue. My mother is actually a really good seamstress, so today we went to a large fabric wholesale store (the ones participants of project runway go to as well), and we picked up some lovely fabrics for a pair of pants, a blouse and a dress for me. The colors are so bright, you can only get happy looking at them! Love!

Beautiful fabrics for some summary clothes

And then there were all these little other things: shouting at the television because a Dutch ice-skater almost won a gold medal, apart from 0,003 seconds (Koen Verweij, if you read this, we're still so proud!!), finally figuring out a knitting pattern, treating yourself to a Starbucks cappuccino with cinnamon, and it goes on and on and on!

I hope I have inspired you a bit, let me know in the comments what you have enjoyed today and let's keep this happy-wave rolling and infecting many more people!

Lots of love and happiness,

woensdag 12 februari 2014

What I ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Oh what a day haha... This week I'm running around town entertaining a group of international students, mostly in the evening. What a culture shock for me! And no I'm not talking about the cultural backgrounds of the members of my international group, I'm talking about the 'being active in the evening'-culture.

As you might have read I had one of those writing-boring-essays-weeks again last week, which was the reason why I locked myself in my room with my laptop and my books once again. The world outside is so real, and cold, and busy. Luckily I have some time today to curl up with a blanket and experience the outside world through my window, safe, inside the house ;). Haha no I'm just kidding, but I am trying to cope with a never ending hangover, it started as an alcohol hangover and it continued with a lack of sleep hangover, do you know what I mean?

On those days I try to be a bit nice to myself, I'm never really strict with what I eat because I believe that if you keep thinking about all those things you can't have you end up wanting them even more, so I allow myself to eat a couple of things I normally wouldn't have.

What I ate Wednesdays are one of those blogger things, and I thought I'd join in to show you that I don't always cook gourmet meals. Good food might make you feel better though so I do choose what I eat carefully! We're only half way through the day though and I haven't had lunch yet, so I'll just describe to you the things I ate yesterday to make myself feel a little bit better while coping with a massive headache:

  • I started with water and a vitamin supplement, I don't always take those, only when I feel like my body needs a bit more... 
  • I was out of bread and I didn't feel like having my normal oatmeal so I had two mini raisin rolls and a cup of tea, if I had had the energy to cook I would have made oatmeal with water and raisins, some cinnamon and toasted almonds. 
  • Then I went back to bed and around 1 I did some groceries, so when I got back I had two pieces of toast, one with hummus and sliced chicken (such a yummy combo) and one piece of toast with nutella (and another cup of tea)
  • As a little snack I had a couple of 'cranchito snax', it's a new thing from Milka chocolate: corn chips (savory) covered in chocolate. It's really good but you can't eat too many of those...
  • For dinner I made something that I wouldn't cook for myself on a regular day, but a friend told me it was the best anti-hangover cure! I wouldn't want to call this a recipe because we stacked a burger and some things on a bun and called it a hamburger but it was an epic one so below this list you'll find the little 'recipe' of my creation. With the hamburger we had a couple of fries and a little salad to keep it on the healthy side! 
Epic hamburger by housemate Peter

1 soft bun
1 hamburger
an egg
curry sauce and mayo

We toasted the buns, caramelized the onions, panfried the bacon, panfried the hamburger, fried an egg, put the cheddar on top of the hamburger, put some sauce on the toasted bun, put onions on top, added lettuce and tomato, added the hamburger, added the bacon, added the egg, top of the bun on top and done! 

The egg yolk should be runny and when you're finished your face should be completely covered in food, that's the only way to eat it, I assure you! But it made me feel so much better that I had enough energy to go out again till 2 in the morning. When I woke up at 7 today I wasn't that pleased, but hey. It's only for one week. I will survive! 

I hope you liked this post, it was a bit out of my comfort zone talking about what I eat during a day but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. 

What do you like to eat when you're hungover? Do you prefer savory things or do you get a sweet tooth the day after? Please let me know down in the comments below this post or have a look at my facebook-page or twitter to find other ways to get into contact with me :). 

xxxx Floor

donderdag 6 februari 2014

Study food: comfort food (Spaghetti Bolognese)

Happy thursday everyone!

Oh naughty me... I should be working on a paper on Research Methods, I've only got 300 words to go and it'll be finished but damn it, I need to let out some inspiration first before I can finish this boring paper haha!

Me, not studying, in Barcelona, ahh the good times!

It is one of those weeks again, two paper deadlines and of course I've left it to the last minute to write them, I never seem to learn the trick do I? :P I'm not particularly stressed out either, I just don't want to do it, if I was stressed out I might have spent a little less time on facebook and twitter, but that's not the case for me this time! Still, most of the time this week I've been trying to concentrate on writing my papers and during those weeks I want easy, tasty comfort food. And what's better than making a whole pot full of delicious sauce that is too much for two people so you get to save a little bit for another meal during the week! It always makes me feel so satisfied... not having to think about what I'm going to eat in the evening and not having to do groceries every night of the week!

So last monday I decided to make Spaghetti Bolognese. Multiple reasons for that: it's easy, you can make a large pot, it's super tasty and it contains basic flavors that won't bore you after one night (which is necessary if you're planning to eat something more than once during a week if you ask me). Another personal reason was that my boyfriend thought he didn't like Spaghetti Bolognese, and I'm not bragging when I say this but everybody loves my Spaghetti Bolognese. I stick to a very basic recipe and I'm very keen on only using good products, fresh products, and I don't use any silly supplements.

In the Netherlands there is a commercial on television at the moment of a fake Italian chef who makes Spaghetti Bolognese with this 'powder', I've never really understood people who use powdered food... I've tried it, and when I first started cooking I did use it from time to time but the flavors are so bland and boring... With a couple of herbs, onion and garlic you can get so far and it isn't more difficult than popping a bag of powder in a pan with some water... So if you're one of these people who, out of habit, uses powdered food a lot, do me a favor and promise me to at least try this recipe. I can promise you that it is the easiest thing, you don't need a ridiculous amount of ingredients and you'll feel so satisfied and proud of the dish you've made from scratch!  (The only exception I make is for stock-cubes... It really takes a long time to make stock, and you can get pretty good quality versions of those stock-cubes).

I cooked this on monday and posted a little comment about it on twitter. A fellow blogger called 'perlenmama' commented on my tweet saying that she couldn't wait for the recipe even though I initially wasn't planning on doing a blog post about this week haha, but because she was looking forward to the recipe I decided to share it with you anyway, even though I didn't take a lot of pictures of it!

Spaghetti Bolognese

The final result

Makes 4 portions

a swig of olive oil
500 g of mince meat (half pork half beef)
a couple of slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery 
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
half a stock cube
1 small can of tomato concentrate
1/2 tsp of dried rosemary or oregano
25 ml of milk
Spaghetti (or any other type of pasta)
-optional: 100 ml of red wine-

Start by heating your pan and add the olive oil. When the pan and the oil is nice and hot add your bacon and fry that off for a couple of minutes. It doesn't need to be crispy, you just want to get the flavors going. When the bacon is cooked add the minced meat and fry that off until it really is nice and brown and you have some bits sticking to the bottom of your pot! At first, some liquid might seep out of the meat, just leave it on a medium heat so that it can evaporate and your meat can brown, no need to drain it because then you'll lose some of the great flavors!

While the meat is browning cut your vegetables in teeny tiny pieces, when they go in the pot you want them to almost melt in the sauce, Bolognese is not a sauce that's all about the vegetables (I feel a lot of students make this mistake...). The vegetables give the sauce it's flavor and sweetness but you'll need to prepare some vegetables on the side with this dish to make it a healthy one! When that's done add everything to the pan and make sure all of those little veggies go soft and yummy and release all of their sweet flavor.

When the meat is yummy looking brown, add the wine if you are using it. You want to use it to get the brown tasty bits off of the bottom of the pan and melt into the wine-sauce that you're making. The alcohol should evaporate immediately and you should be left with a wonderfully smelling kitchen! Then add your can of tinned tomatoes and stir it in. 

Now make a cup of stock-tomato tea: get a large mug, add half the stock cube and the tomato concentrate and some boiling water. Stir everything so that it starts to look like a strange tomato-soup and then add it to the pan! This is actually the first time I'm flavoring anything, the stock-cube will add some saltiness and the tomato concentrate with some acidity. 

As a last step add your dried herbs and spices (either the rosemary or the oregano, I used rosemary just because... I love the smell, sometimes I prefer oregano). Also add some pepper and some salt to taste: TO TASTE, that means that you should grab a spoon and taste what you've got so far! 

What is left to do is leave it for about an hour. Put the heat on low, you don't want it to 'boil', you want it to 'simmer' lightly. This is probably the most difficult part for anyone starting to learn how to cook: things get better over time! Thats not only the case for cheese and wine, but definitely for sauces as well. You want all of the flavors to marry and become one big family in a pot. 

After that hour (or 45 minutes if you really can't wait) add a tiny bit of milk to taste. In the ingredients list I said '25 ml' but that's just an estimation. The milk helps to correct the sharp tastes if there are any, this Bolognese sauce is all about the round and soft flavors. So grab a spoon and give it a taste, does it need that bit of milk? Does it need a bit more salt, some more pepper perhaps?  

During this last stage you should have also cooked your pasta according to the directions on the package. It usually takes about 10 minutes or a bit less for pasta to be done. 

Serve with some parmesan cheese and a green salad on the side then it should look something like the picture at the top of this article! 

I hope you enjoyed this post :) I feel it was very chatty in comparison to what I usually do haha. Please give the recipe a try and leave me a comment if you liked it! Also check out my twitter and my facebook page if you want to get in touch! (The last couple of days I've had loads of people from the philippines like my facebook page haha, hey everyone, I don't know how you found my page but I'm hoping you like the things that I put on there!)


maandag 3 februari 2014

Cheer up recipe: Scones

Happy monday everyone!

Have you survived your weekend? Did you manage to drag your but out of bed this morning? I know I had some issues this morning... I still had to do all these boring house chores and find time to finish writing a paper, so very boring...

But I have the best way to help you cheer up! It takes you half an hour in total and you instantly feel a lot better! Have one of these scones in the afternoon with some tea and take some time to feel proud of all those boring things you ticked off your to-do list! (On top of that, the amount of sugar and butter that goes into these delights is, if you ask me, very limited, so you don't have to feel guilty for having a treat). If you don't get the monday blues you could also bake these scones for a friend, it's always nice to help someone else feel better ;).

I made these with one of my best friends a little while ago when we had our own little tea-party. We don't get to see each other very often so we always need a lot of time to catch up when we do, so I made these scones and she made some lovely sandwiches! A couple of days later I saw a video of Fleur de Force who had filmed the making of her own tea-party with one of her friends, such a funny coincidence! You can watch the video below if you'd like :). But she made fairy cakes and I really prefer scones :) (or maybe she doesn't have a good recipe for scones... Maybe I should send her this link haha...). Anyway, it is a good thing to make for yourself, but even better to share with friends, as goes for all baking I guess!

Buttermilk Scones

makes: 10 scones

450 g of selfraising flour
1/4 tsp of salt
100g of cold diced butter
85g of sugar
284ml of buttermilk (Dutch: Karnemelk)
2 tsp of vanilla extract
a splash of milk or a beaten egg

I've tried a number of different recipes but I discovered this one recently and it is definitely the easiest one I've come across and (if you have all of the right ingredients) it is a real no-brainer!

Start with pre-heating your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.

Add the diced butter to your self-raising flour, make sure it is self-raising, I forgot to do this last night and my first batch was a total failure haha. In case you don't have self-raising flour you could just take normal flour and add 1 tsp of baking powder for every 100 g of flour. 

Add the butter to the self-raising flour

Using only the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until you get a sandy texture. It is important to only use the tips of your fingers because that will ensure that you don't melt the butter with the warmth of your hands. If you've done it right the mixture should a little bit like this: 

Butter and flour mixed together
Now add in the sugar and the salt and mix it a bit more with your finger tips. After doing this take a cup and mix the vanilla extract with the buttermilk. Put the cup in the microwave for half a minute on medium heat, you don't want it to become 'hot' but you slightly want to heat it up. 

Vanilla + buttermilk

Now take a separate bowl and add a bit of the flour mixture to the bowl, add a bit of the vanilla and buttermilk and mix it together either with your hands or with a spoon. Keep repeating the process until everything is more or less mixed together. 

Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together

Make sure you don't over mix it! So when everything is almost combined, turn the bowl over on a clean work-surface dusted with some flour and slowly use your hands to really bring everything together (you want to use all of those ingredients, don't leave anything behind!). 

Finish it off with a bit of kneading to make a dough

You now want to flatten the dough a bit, it should look like a really thick cookie, about two fingers high. Then use a round cookie cutter or a small glass to cut out little rounds. 
Put the rounds on a baking tray lined with baking paper and glaze the scones with some beaten egg or some milk to give them a nice brown color. If you have the feeling your dough is not really cohesive and it is a bit flaky, don't worry, you've done well! 

Put a bit of milk or egg on top of the scones

Bake the scones for about 15 minutes or until you feel satisfied with the way they look, some ovens work a bit different than others :). This is the way they should look when you take them out of the oven:

Nice golden brown little scones

They're best when they are still warm and with a bit of clotted cream and jam or lemon curd! In the first picture you see I also have dried apricots lined up, and that is what I sometimes like to do: add some raisins, some dried diced apricots, maybe some lemon peel and poppy seeds... whatever you like! But this is a really good basic recipe, at least: it's the best one I've tried! 

So give it a go and let me know how they turned out! Or some other suggestions you have for added flavourings for scones, or what you like to eat your scones with (a cup of coffee, cup of tea?). And do you have any other way to cheer yourself or your friends up? Let me know! You can send me a facebook message, a tweet, an instagram, or a comment, whatever you like :)