Monday, 17 December 2012

Renting in The Netherlands

The rental property market is quite competitive in The Netherlands at the moment due to the mortgage crisis. Many people, including us, do not want to buy a house just yet because prices are dropping, mortgages are harder to get and the amount you can actually borrow is pathetic).

The rental market can be divided into 2 sub-markets:

i) Sociale Woning
These houses/apartments are subsidised (by the government) rental homes for households earning a maximum of €34 085 euro per year. The maximum rental for these places are €664.66 per month (but most are in the €250-500 range). 10% of subsidised rental homes can go to families with incomes higher than €34 085 BUT no more than just over €40 000. Sadly, we cannot qualify for this as our household income is above that. What's even sadder is, the homes are ALREADY subsidised yet the people who get to live there can also apply for rental benefits from the government.

It can be hard to get a property this way as waiting lists in big cities can be very long (something like 7 years in Amsterdam). If you're homeless or in a terrible position, you can request to be put ahead of other people in the list.

ii) Vrije Sector
Homes are not subsidised and are thus much more expensive than 'sociale woning'. Also, there are not all that many homes which are available for a longer period of time. Most are available until the homes are sold. Moving is expensive plus renters are obliged to allow viewers in the home whenever needed.

What is even more annoying is renters have to earn 50 times (if one income) or 80 times (2 incomes) the monthly rent! That's just crazy because on an annual income of €100 000, you can only rent a place of €1250 which lets face it, will not get you much (depending on where you want to leave). For €1250 per month, one could rent an apartment in a lousy suburb with a high crime rate in Amsterdam.

So we're stuck:( There's no point moving unless we can rent something a little nicer. Or we'll just have to bite the bullet and buy something for the next 5-10 years and move again after that.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Sinterklaas 2012

The Dutchman and I are not romantic. I'd like him to be but he's more likely to do the dishes over buying me a bunch of flowers haha. A few years ago, he surprised me by preparing a 4-course meal all by himself. We had just moved and had barely any furniture. The dining table that evening was a ratty, old desk and the table cloth was a bed sheet. Good times.

We enjoyed it so much that it is now an annual tradition- he cooks for me on Sinterklaas and I try to impress him on Christmas Eve/Day.

Dutchman's menu this year:

Dutch smoked beef sausage with sauerkraut braised in beer, apples and a forest fruit confiture

Poached Scottish smoked salmon stuffed with cod and an apple salad

Ribeye steak

A peach and orange mousse
OK this isn't food but the first time he's ever actually surprised me with a present! HAPPY!
All in all, very tasty! Plus, it only took him a few hours to shop and prepare the meal. I have some ideas for my Christmas dinner but I foresee myself running around like a headless chicken trying to source certain cuts of meat or spending hours in the kitchen just for a single meringue!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Flowers of the Week

I still buy flowers every week-sometimes twice a week- but hadn't bothered taking pictures for some time. Time to revive this weekly feature, don't you think?!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pork Tenderloin Stew with Bockbier

My HelloFresh box arrived on Tuesday evening and the first meal I cooked was the Pork Tenderloin Stew with Bockbier (brown beer- this one's from Texel).

It was yummy and was such a generous portion that we had leftovers for lunch. Oh and I don't think we've eaten that much vegetables in our lives!

We still have the pumpkin mash and fish to make (went out for dinner yesterday) - hope they're delicious too.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

New Concept- HelloFresh!

Just so you know, this isn't an advertorial (if only it was...;) ). If you want 20 euros off your first box though, the promotional code is: 54LWJ4

HelloFresh is a sort-of new concept which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. Now, granted, I've only JUST signed up and haven't even received my first box yet but I can't wait!

What it is: a subscription (which can be stopped for an unlimited or limited period of time if need be) for a box of 3 or 5 meals per week. This is NOT a catering service- you have to cook everything by yourself but you just don't have to plan your meals nor do the shopping for it. Depending on where you live, your box of groceries (everything you need for the 3 meals) and the recipes get delivered on Monday or Tuesday.

I am stuck in a cooking rut and I hate doing the groceries. I mean, as far as chores go, grocery shopping is one of the things I enjoy-but sometimes, leaving your home just to get a lemon or a bag of salad is just such a pain in the arse. Also, I don't drive so I go with the Dutchman once a week (but we don't buy EVERYTHING since we are not disciplined meaning we can't decide what to eat and if we don't feel like eating X that night, we just don't = a lot of wastage and because we can't be bothered carrying too much stuff). I also go to the supermarket/ butcher an additional 1 to 2 times a week to get ingredients for more meals/wines and what not. So yeah, with this box, I can go less often and we get to eat different (every week, you have 1 meat, 1 fish and 1 vegetarian dish) and more importantly, HEALTHY stuff. Next week (I was too late for next week though so I will only start on October 30th), subscribers will be eating:

Meal 1- Cod with tomatoes, broccoli and garlic thyme potatoes. Meal 2- Ham, beer and dates stew, pumpkin stamppot with feta and pumpkin seeds
Only thing I'm killing myself about this is WHYYYYY didn't I think of this idea for my business plan back in school! Such a simple concept but so brilliant.

The 3-meal box is a bit expensive (39 euro for 2 people) but the 5-meal box is pretty reasonable at 49 euro for 2. I got the 3-meal box as the 5-meal one isn't available in Arnhem yet and I also got 20 euros off my first box! If you want to get 20 euro off your first box, the code is: 54LWJ4

I can foresee myself blogging on a weekly basis because of this box hahaha 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dinner @ a 2-Star Michelin Restaurant

I'd like to apologise for not writing down notes. I've completely forgotten most of them but I can tell you that they were all incredibly yummy!

Goat's cheese, beetroot etc.

Keropok with trout, trout roe etc.

Savoury Meringue, can't quite remember what was in it anymore

A tomato and basil sorbet. Such a classic combination but ridiculously yummy

Don't remember, sorry!
Again, something I don't remember but it was also yummy

The Starter: shrimps, barbecued watermelon etc.

2nd Course- half-eaten. Forgot to take a picture before it was too late. I think it was plaice

Main- duck

Dessert Amuse- a buttermilk sorbet. Very refreshing! Loved it

Goji berry dessert with citrus fruits. Also very good. Apparently goji berries are happy berries which explains the smiley face.

Coffee & friandises   

All in all, an excellent meal. Every single morsel of food was a joy to eat. Service was very good- nice, smooth, everything went well and yet, not painfully formal. They handled our large noisy table very well (I felt sorry for the couples sitting near us). Would definitely go back again.

Monday, 27 August 2012

It's Been A While

By now, I've had plenty of amazing and not-so-amazing meals out, am married and haven't cooked all that much as I just didn't feel like it.

HOWEVER, since last week, I've started cooking again. We still have McDonald's once a week but that beats unhealthy daily take-aways. You know what's funny, despite the McDonald's, KFCs, snack bars and what-not, I didn't put on a single kilo hahaha but for all I know, my arteries are hopelessly clogged.

Dinners last week:

Monday: Barbecue with shrimps, lamb, pork and chicken
Tuesday: Chinese Take-away
Wednesday: Lamb chops (from the same organic butcher), potatoes and a salad
Thursday: Thai Fried Rice
Friday: Really amazing rib-eye steaks from the organic butcher with bread and a salad
Saturday: Macaroni & Cheese (with cauliflower so we can pretend it's healthy)
Sunday: McDonald's ;)

This week:

Today: Baked Chilli & Bean Pasta
Tomorrow: Probably an aubergine mince stir-fry with rice
Wednesday: Probably a veggie lasagna
Thursday: Dinner at a 2-star Michelin restaurant YUMMY!
Other days: will decide later!

I am enjoying not HAVING to do anything and I LOVE living in the center- within a 3 minute or less walk, I have 3 butchers (1 organic-expensive but good-, 1 halal and 1 normal), a green grocer, 2 supermarkets, 1 organic supermarket, a cheese shop, a bakery, a florist, a wine store etc. Love it!

Saturday, 14 April 2012


I am horrible at this blog thing, aren't I?:D

I don't have any pictures of food. Heck, I haven't even really cooked anything proper for a long time. I just have zero motivation to make anything nice! Not to mention, my diet started last week so everything I want to make, I can't eat so what is the point, really? Haha

We're almost done with the wedding. We are SO looking forward to the holiday! I am enjoying my job but it is somewhat difficult (in a nice way but also the pressure to perform is....) and is bloody faraway from where I live. I spend half my day commuting. Wedding planning itself is just..painful. The nice bits are picking out your dress, flowers, the venue.. that kind of thing. Everything else is just sh*t really.

The venue annoys me to death. Everything has a ridiculous price tag but we don't have a choice because we've commited. So right, somehow a 40-person wedding is going to cost us RM100 000. Looking at it in Ringgit terms is giving me a heart attack ugh. It's not like it's even fancy! My shoes are from China! Our band is dinky! My earrings aren't even diamonds! We don't even get a honeymoon! Hahaha I have to laugh just thinking of the band, sorry:-P

All in all, I AM excited though. I just hope it won't rain and that no one gets hurt/misses their flights/ loses their luggage/ ill etc. I try not to be such a Debbie Downer but I really wish we had eloped just so I don't have to worry about our guests...

Right..bedtime. Night!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Wedding Planning

I am enjoying most of it! I am so excited and I can't wait to get married already. Also, I'm terrified that it will be a total flop.

I absolutely LOVE them. These are probably the most beautiful invitations I have ever seen. Yes, it was very expensive and yes, people will just throw them into the dustbin but they make me happy.

I bought my dress!! This was quite a journey. I went to about 4 stores (I went 3 times to the store where I bought the dress so I basically tried on dresses about 7 times haha). First dress was a total disaster. I thought I would never find the one. I'm not VERY short (although I AM short compared to a Dutch person. I am 5ft 3") but all the dresses had humungous ball gown skirts (and not just a bit but huge. Like so huge, the Dutchman would have to stand 1.5 metres away from me). And the styles they have here.... were just sort of thrashy and I wanted something elegant.

Finally, feeling guilty and thinking that I would never find the one, I settled on one which looked great on me but wasn't really my style. Of course I felt like sh*t after that, I felt almost embarassed that people would think that is something I would pick so I cancelled the dress a few days later. As I had already paid a significant deposit for the dress, I had to pick THE dress from the same store.

Anyway, I ended up in something I didn't expect but it gave the look I was aiming for (elegant, romantic, classic). Woohoo! I never thought I could ever get a Pronovias but after adjusting the budget a little bit (i.e. less money for flowers :( ), it was possible to get my dream dress. Yay!

Again, ended up being totally different from what we wanted but it was really comfortable and the rings were the only ones which actually didn't make our fingers look stupid. The one thing which was significantly underbudget;-)  

Very happy with the turnout on my side. Sadly, most of Dutchman's friends are too poor and half his direct family will not be attending (afraid of flying, no money, babies). I feel sorry for him as this wedding shebang was his wish (I wanted to elope).

Slightly problematic. It is a high-end venue and expensive. However, because our wedding is relatively small and they are used to mad Russian millionnaires, our wedding basically does not generate a great amount of revenue (it is a lot to us but not them). Thus, we are small fry and treated as such.

I want peonies but they are not available. Ah well. Not sure what the options are...

So many things to organize but in a way, it's quite fun having an almost free rein (except obviously budget restrictions) to plan an event;)