Dutch Balls

Do you have the balls to make these Dutch Balls? Haha.. I’m not sure if Dutch people are the most courageous, but we are known for being direct. I think that counts! These snack balls are made with a Dutch spice called ‘speculaas’. Speculaas is actually a mixture of different spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. All these spices together is called ‘speculaas’. You might know this as in Dutch biscuits. Or in the ‘pepernoten’ we eat when it’s ‘Sinterklaas’. It’s a super nice spice and I thought why not make snack balls with it? This way it’s healthy too! If you can’t get your hands on the ‘speculaas spices’, you can always make this yourself:

-Mix 2 tbs cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cloves, 1/4 cardamon, 1/4 white pepper, 1/4 coriander seed, 1/4 ginger, 1/4 aniseed. (all ground)

DUTCH BALLS

Makes: 12-15

-1 cup oats
-1 cup soft dates
-2 tbs coconut oil (melted)
-2 tbs almonds
-1/2 tbs speculaas spices
-pinch of salt
-4 tbs desiccated coconut

-Put everything (apart from the coconut) in the food processor and blend until it’s sticky.
-Make balls of the dough and roll them through the coconut.

Do you know the Dutch speculaas spices? Are you going to try to make this recipe? Please let me know when you’ve tried them. You can do this in a comment below. You can also tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Yay for King’s Day!

As I’m Dutch myself, I’d like to give King’s Day some credit from over here. Everything in the Netherlands will be orange today! Today the Dutch people are celebrating the birthday of king Willem-Alexander. As we used to have a queen for very long (King Willem-Alexander is the 1st male monarch in 123 year!), it used to be Queen’s Day. The first Queen’s day was held on 31 of August 1885, in honour of the birth of Queen Wilhelmina. What means it’s a long going tradition. Later on, the date changed to 30th of April, the queens birthday. The next queen, Queen Beatrix, kept that date in honour of her mother and I’m sure part of the reason is also that her own birthday is on the 31 of January. Way too cold! Basically everybody in the Netherlands is celebrating this day. What means it’s probably the biggest birthday party in the world. People dress up, mainly in orange, but also in the colours of the flag: red, white and blue. As the lion represents the Netherlands, this is also a symbol you most probably will spot this day. But the most important rule seems to be: the crazier, the better! There are flea markets and activities everywhere, spread over the country, but especially Amsterdam is going totally crazy! Around 250.000-300.000 are traveling to Amsterdam, from all over the Netherlands and the rest of the world, to be part of it. Because for a long time the date used to be April the 30th, there are still a lot of tourists who come to Amsterdam, all dressed up, 3 days late! Poor them! Anyway,, I’ll not be in the Netherlands this time to celebrate, but especially for King’s Day I created 2 healthy (orange) recipes.. lunch and dinner if you like. Oh and if you are going: Enjoy!

RAWR

Can be eaten all raw (leave the bread out and use raw sesame oil). It might seems strange in combination with the strawberries, but I promise you it’s tasty.

Serves: 2

1 courgette
1 cucumber
2 carrots
6 strawberries
1 avocado (smashed)
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs sesame oil
salt/pepper (to taste)
fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp mixed seeds
2 pita breads

-Use a spiralizer for the courgette, cucumber and the carrots.
-Mix the avocado with the garlic, the lemon juice and sesame oil.
-Mix everything together and add salt/pepper.
-Shape the strawberries and the basil leaves into tulips and use them as decoration.
-Sprinkle the seeds over the salad and serve with warm pita bread.


KING’S MEAL

Super healthy and loaded with protein. Apart from eating this on King’s Day (to restore energy), this is a perfect meal for after a good work out.

Serves: 2

200 gr red lentil pasta (uncooked)
1 cup butter beans (cooked)
3 hands spinach
1/2 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/3 chili pepper (chopped)
3 tbs houmous
1 tbs olive oil
salt/pepper (to taste)

-Cook the pasta as described on the pack.
-Put the olive oil, the onion, the garlic and the chilli pepper in a frying pan and fry them until the onion gets brown edges.
-Add the beans and the spinach. Switch off the heat, just before the spinach all slunk.
-Mix in the houmous and then carefully mix in the pasta.
-Add salt and pepper.

Are you in the Netherlands today to celebrate King’s Day? Are you going to make these recipes? I’d love to see some pictures (of the food and of today..)! You can show them to me by tagging me in the picture or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. I look forward to it! Thank you! X

Netherlands – Easter

Early early! My boyfriend, Steven, and I had to wake up at 3:00 in the night. Walk to the bus stop and get to LiverpoolStreet. From there we took an Uber as the trains didn’t go as normal. So annoying, but apart from that it’s a lot more expensive, it’s easy though. Or it should be easy.. because the driver almost wanted to drop us off at Stansted. Steven noticed it just in time and so we were able to turn around. We did make it in time and didn’t have to wait long at the airport itself. The flight went well and within an hour we were in Amsterdam. We started with a Starbucks on Schiphol and then took the train to Amsterdam Central. I made a whole planning (always prepared) and so we started as planned, at Dam Square. From there we took a right to the Singel and crossed at the Blauwburgwal bridge. There in the corner is vegan shop called: Vega Life. They sell all vegan things here. For a good pair of vegan shoes, belts, shirts and much more, this is where you want to go. It’s not big, but they have a lot of choice. It was nice to have a quick look. From there we walked to the Prinsengracht, crossing the Herengracht and the Keizergracht. I wanted to have lunch at Bolhoed, a quite known vegetarian/vegan place. It was still a little early though, so we decided to walk around in the Jordaan (an area in Amsterdam) for a little while. We saw a lovely bakery and Steven wanted to go in for a coffee. But when he saw the delicious bread with jam a lady next to us was eating, he wanted that too. It was called the children’s sandwich, but who cares. He loved it! I had a fresh mint tea and after that we made our way to Bolhoed. The first thing I saw when coming in was a very big Main Coon! He looked so fake the way he was lying down, but after a while he moved, haha! Bolhoed is very vintage. Very different from everything you know. It really reminded me of Berlin. Vintage, strange art, but very easy going. I ordered pitta bread, with salad and humous and Steven ordered the soup of the day. Their menu isn’t big, but almost everything is vegan. The food was nice, but I expected a lot more from it. It was fresh and filling though, so it was definitely getting me through the afternoon. We walked on the Prinsengracht, all the way to the Rijksmuseum. On the way we passed a very cool Japanese Antique shop, called ‘Van Hier Tot Tokio‘ (translated: From Here To Tokyo). Steven’s eyes started twinkling and we basically looked at everything in there. Very nice! The Rijksmuseum is amazing. The building form the outside is already very impressive, but the inside is amazing too! I always wanted to go here, but I never took the time. It was very nice to now share this experience with Steven. We saw so many beautiful paintings from such famous artists.. Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer.. but most impressive, was the ‘Night Watch’ from Rembrandt. It was amazing to see this in real life. It’s absolutely beautiful and a little bigger than I expected. The whole museum is very impressive and definitely worth going! When we came out of the museum, we took a little break at Museumplein (Museum Square). This is the big square behind the museum. It’s beautiful, with lots of tulips, water and grass. There are some little coffee/food stands and Steven got a veggie burger. They even had a vegan burger, but the only thing was that it was sold out.. a shame, but also very positive! Haha! I wasn’t very hungry actually, just the fact that a random food stand has a vegan burger makes me want to try it. Try it for me in case you can get your hands on them and let me know if it was good. We walked towards the Vijzelgracht and Steven drunk a beer on the corner there. We had lovely seats, next to the canal, in the sunshine! Then we followed the Lijnbaangracht and de Reguliersgracht, until we reached Rembrandtplein. It started of quite chilly in the morning, but now it was lovely and sunny, with a bright blue sky. We walked back via the Kalverstraat (shopping street) and the Rokin, towards the red district. Every tourist goes here and as it’s Steven’s first time in Amsterdam, I had to take him. It was quiet on the Wallen, but it’s a good way to make our way back to the station. In the meantime it was already a little after 17:00 and after another Starbucks and getting some snacks at ‘AH to Go’, we got our suitcases (we left them in a locker at the station, so handy!) and our train tickets. Turned out that the train wasn’t going to Zwolle and so we had to change 3 times before we got out at Assen. It was 22:00 in the meantime, but my mum was waiting for us over there and it was sooo lovely to see her and to introduce her to Steven. I love my mum and on the way home, what is only 20 min, we already had so many laughs. At home Julian (my brother) and his girlfriend Marsha were there and it was so amazing to see them too! Also aways lovely to cuddle the cats Kenya and Dublin and Nynjo the dog. And so nice to all introduce them to Steven. My mum moved houses a while ago and this was also the first time I saw her new house. A lovely black, cozy, Swedish house. I love it!! We all kept chatting a little bit, but as Steven and I were already awake for almost 22 hours and had such a busy day, we were also happy for our heads to finally touch the pillow.

The next day I had to drop my mum off at work at 7:00, so Steven and I were able to use the car in the morning. I did crawl back into bed for a little bit after I came back though, but then we really had to get up and get the Easter groceries. We had to go to 5 different shops and Steven still regrets he came with me. I’m kind of a nightmare in supermarkets. I did make a list, but I do like to take my time. Reading ingredients and think about how much I need. I love it, but it turns out, Steven and I do not have that in common, haha! We went to my mum’s work to pick her up (For the people who don’t know: she works as a hostess at Rikus in Eext, a lovely hotel-restaurant. You can read about it in my other travel posts from the Netherlands if you like.) and she showed Steven around. At home I made Vivera burgers for everybody. They’re so yummy and there will be a huge review about this amazing brand soon. Stay tuned! If I had to believe my weather app it was going to rain the whole time, but this Saturday afternoon it was actually quite nice outside. Though the wind was a little cold, we (Julian, Marsha, Steven and I) decided to cycle to the lake anyway. It’s less than 10 min and it’s very beautiful over there, with lots of good memories. We skipped stones over the water and though Steven made it look very easy (he is so good at it), I managed to do it 3 times, but with a lot of effort, haha! It was very nice to be in the forest and we even saw lots of tadpoles in the lake, yay! Later that day I started baking. I had to make the whole Easter brunch by myself, for 9 people. Normally my sister and I make it together, but she wasn’t coming unfortunately. So I started with a chocolate chia pudding, the Hopping Bread, a vegetable bread and a frittata. It all went well, but I couldn’t make more, because we (my mum, Julian, Marsha, Steven) decided to go out for dinner. We went to Breed, a wok-buffet restaurant. My dad came too, what was so nice and we had a lovely evening all together. They have a lot of vegan options and it’s very tasty. After we came home I put the veggie bread in the oven and Steven helped me preparing the carrot cake.

I woke up at 8:00 to continue making the brunch. It was going to start at around 11:00, but I still had to bake the frittata, the croissants, the little breads and bake the pancakes. I also wanted to make scones, but as there was already so much and not that much time, I decided not to. Steven helped me and that was really nice, as it didn’t only go faster, but it was also nice to make it with him. My mum and dad arrived around 9:00, Julian invited a friend from school and my sister dropped off my nephew and niece, Jinan & Joella.. and when everybody finally arrived, we started eating all the goodies. Everybody luckily really liked it and everything turned out well. I was worried about the frittata, as I never made it before and I just did something, without having a recipe, but everybody actually really liked it. A shame I didn’t write down what I did. I have to make it again and make it into a recipe I  guess. After the brunch and after everything was tidy and clean again, my mum, Steven and I went to my dad’s place. He also just moved houses, so we had to see his place too of course. He lives in the middle of the forest (the forest where we had loads of family holidays) in a lovely sweet little house with a veranda. I loved it so much! We did have to get back in time, because we were a little tired and my mum, Steven and I planned to go to the cinema. So after some nice tea, we drove back, we all had a quick nap and then drove to Groningn, where the cinema is. This cinema is inside the football stadium. It’s avery nice cinema. We went to see ‘The Beauty & The Beast’. I already watched it 2 times, but I loveee this movie and I really wanted to watch it again (and again actually). Steven also already watched it (we went together, right after it came out), so he went for the second time. My mum never watched it and that was the reason why we went. It was so nice to watch it again. If you didn’t go yet, then book your tickets now, before it’s too late! It’s the best movie I’ve every watched in the cinema, in my life. It’s like going to a musical. As soon as it’s on iTunes, I’ll buy it. In the meantime I listen to the songs and the music all day long. I can tell you that Steven doesn’t really appreciate the ‘repeat’ button atm. Hehe..

Today we planned to go to the north. To see the house where I grew up, the dikes, the sea, my grandparents and my best friends. We left a little later than we wanted to, but there was still enough time. For me it’s already a treat to drive the car, as I don’t get to do that much in London anymore and I absolutely love driving. It was so nice to show Steven the place I grew up and all the memories I have around there. Though it was very cold and windy at the dikes (as always), we did take some lovely pictures. We then went to my friend Nienke and her daughter Annemarie. Always so nice to see them, especially because Annemarie grows so fast and she looks like a different girl every time I see her. They also
have a pig, doggies and a cat.. so lots of cuddling! We didn’t stay long, because we also wanted to go to my grandparents. We had a cup of tea there, but as they can’t speak English and our flight was going in a few hours, we had to head back after that. Still lovely to see my grandparents though and to introduce Steven. I know they really appreciated this. When we got home we quickly packed our suitcases and left to the airport. Everything went smooth, but it’s never nice to say goodbye to my mum. It was so short this time, only 3 nights. But we did have such an amazing time. Busy days, but all worth it!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Vega Life
– Singel 110, 1015 AE, Amsterdam.
Bolhoed – Prinsengracht 60-62, 1015 DX, Amsterdam.
Van Hier Tot Tokio – Prinsengracht 262-HS, 1016 HH, Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum – Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam.
Museumplein (Museum Square) Amsterdam.
Kalverstraat (shopping) Amsterdam.
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext.
Breed – Nieuwe Streek 35, 9351 BZ, Leek.
Kinepolis Cinema – Boumaboulevard 53, 9723 ZS, Groningen.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you know about these cool hotspots (you can find more in my earlier travel post about Amsterdam) or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip! ..and what did you do with Easter? Please tag me in your Easter creations! You can also comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Keen On Aubergine

img_6378If you read my Christmas Holiday travel post, you know that I made this aubergine dish a lot when I was in Holland. This recipe is just real a winner. In all aspects. It is super easy to make, though it tastes like you have been cooking for hours, it’s super healthy and filling and everybody loves it! It’s a perfect dish for if you have a dinner party, for if a friend is coming over or to bring to someones house if you have been invited. I’m positive people will ask you for the recipe (you can just send them this link..). Also you can easily make a lot of it. You do need quite a big pan for the aubergine in case you want to double or triple the recipe. You might want to do that in two times. It’s worth it though!

img_6379KEEN ON AUBERGINE

Serves: 2

2 cups rice (cooked)
1 aubergines (chopped)
1/3 cup chickpeas
1/2 onion (chopped)
1/2 bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbs harissa
1 tsp coriander (ground)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (ground)
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

img_6380-Cook the rice as described on the package.
-Fry the aubergine with the salt, in the olive oil on a high fire, until it colours brown. (about 5min)
-Add the onion and fry them until they get brown edges. Then add the bell pepper and fry for about 2 minutes.
-Add the harissa, the coriander and the cinnamon and mix well until everything is covered.
-Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Then let it simmer for about 10 minutes on low fire. Stir now and then.
-Add the chickpeas and mix for one minute.
-Serve with the rice.

Are you going to try this recipe? Or make it for a dinner party? Please let me know when you’ve tried it. You can do this in a comment below.. or you can tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Stamp-Pot

img_8328Living in London, I often get the question ‘What is typical Dutch dish?’. Well.. There are not a lot of Dutch dishes. Of course there are the famous ‘stroopwafels’ and ‘speculaas’, but the only thing I can come up with is stamppot. What is basically mashed potatoes with vegetables mashed in it and a piece of meat on the side. There are different combinations (with kale as the most popular). It’s not a dish to be super proud of. This must be the reason that Holland is famous for a lot of things, but definitely not for the Dutch kitchen. Stamppot is an ok dish though, people eat it mostly in the winter. It’s a typical winter-dish in Holland. I thought it will be a nice dish on the last day of March. To really finish off the winter. I’m so ready for lots of sun! I was never a huge fan, but as I am a huge fan of Asian kitchen, I made a combination of the two. The one with potatoes, carrots and onions is called ‘hutspot’ and if I had to choose, then that is my favourite, so I used this one for todays recipe. I happened to really love it now, haha! I hope you will love it too.

img_8331STAMP-POT

Serves: 2 

-4 big potatoes (chopped)
-3 carrots (chopped)
-2 big hands spinach
-1 onion (chopped)
-3 tbs milk
-2 cloves garlic (minced)
-1 tbs sesame seed oil
-1/2 tsp coriander (ground)
-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
-salt/pepper (to taste)
-2 Vivera fillet steaks*

-Put the potatoes, the carrots and 1/4 of the onion in a pan and let it boil for 20 min. Until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
-Fry the onion until the edges start to get brown. Add the garlic, the coriander and the cumin and fry for 2 minutes. Add the spinach in the last minute and until it slinks.
-Add this mixture, the sesame seed oil and the milk to the potato-carrot mix.
-Add salt and pepper to taste.
-Serve with Vivera fillet steaks*.

*The fillet steak on the picture is from the brand Vivera. They do not sell this in the UK yet, but they soon will. It’s an amazing brand I’m sure you will love. So stay tuned! If you want to make this dish now, I recommend eating it on it’s own or to replace it with something else, like sausages. 

Did you have stamppot as a Dutch dish before? Are you going to try this Dutch-Asian stamppot? Please let me know or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thanks you! X

Hundreds Of Miles

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-19-16-02As you might have noticed (if you follow me on Instagram), I’m in loooove! Last November I met the nicest guy ever and now we’re together, what makes me so happy. I was single for the last 2 years, after coming out of a very difficult relationship. I never thought I would be in a relationship again, but I couldn’t ignore these feelings. He’s so amazing! We had to miss each other for 25 days over Christmas, as we were both on holiday and that’s when I wrote this poem. Missing somebody is not nice, but being able to miss somebody is a good sign. It means you care and you want to be with that person.

HUNDREDS OF MILES

Every day I feel my love for you growing,
addicted to feel more as it’s mind-blowing.
Every time I see you I feel more and more,
so missing you makes my heart feel sore

I want you to be here and hold me very tight,
me wrapped up in your arms just feels so right.
Knowing you’re so far away makes me so sad,
missing your loving kisses on my forehead.

I miss your stories and your cleverness,
imagining your voice doesn’t help I guess.
It makes me want to hear you even more,
makes me miss you even more than before.

I am missing your passionate cuddles a lot,
for now, memories are the only thing I got.
But me knowing you’re not away for good,
makes me excited and it lights my mood.

Never really knew this actually did exist,
realising that it’s you I’ve always missed.
You’re so different from everything I know,
but it feels more right than ever though.

Yes in between us are hundreds of miles,
but I’ll wait forever for one of your smiles.

Did you like my poem? Would you like to say something about it or do you have any other thoughts? Please let me know in a comment below! Thank you! X

Netherlands – Xmas Holidays

img_3639The end of 2016 was quite hectic for me. Mainly because I had to find another job before I could book my ticket to Holland. At some points it was so stressful, but in the end I got to choose between 2 jobs. It was hard, but I did it and then I could finally book my flight to Holland for the Christmas holidays.. and a little longer, as my new job doesn’t start until the 16th (yes.. that’s today!). So I booked a flight from the 20th of December until the 9th of January. Steven, my boyfriend, left the 16th for his holiday to Brazil and was going to come back just 2 days before me. So the time in Holland would be a good distraction from missing him. Even though I basically did something every day and it sometimes felt busy, it was also quite a relaxed holiday, because I had 3 weeks. And because it’s 3 weeks and that’s quite long, I will write a little bit of what I did every day, like a journal. Of course I do have a few hotspots too! I will list them in the end, so you can easily find them.

img_3678December 20
I was so excited about this day. I was just very much looking forward to Holland. Partly cuz I already  missed my boyfriend like crazy and because I love Christmas! I left very early as my flight was at 7:40 in the morning. I like to book early flights, because otherwise the day is so long before you can finally leave and also because then you don’t feel like you’re spending the whole day traveling. I had 2 (heavy) suitcases and my handbag, but I managed to get to the airport at a perfect time. The flight was very relaxed and that 1 hour I was in the air, I even snoozed a little bit. At the airport my sister and my niece were waiting for me. It was such a nice surprise to have my niece running to me with her face all brightened up. What a lovely moment! We drove straight to Rikus, my mum’s work. I wrote about Rikus before, but for the people who don’t know yet, Rikus is a hotel – restaurant, in a former farm. It’s a beautiful renovated building, with lots of peace and amazing nature around it. So in case you ever want to escape the big city and go for total silence.. book a room! (I’ll list them as a hotspot again) It was so nice to see my mum, even though I’ve seen her not that long ago. It always feels like I haven’t seen her for ages. We went back home for some tea, before we went to the hairdressers. My mum wanted to cut her hair. I didn’t agree with it, as I like my mum’s hair long. So with me not taking my eyes of the scissors it was being cut. In the end, I must say, though I prefer it the way it was, it was looking very nice. It reminded me I have to cut my hair myself. I always do that myself and I might write an article about it one day if you guys will like that?! After the hairdressers we went to the snackbar, what is so Dutch. You can compare it with the Fish&Chips shops available in the UK. Only at the snackbar you get mainly fries, and you choose some sort of snack with it. There are no vegan options if it comes to the snacks, but I love fries so much, that I don’t mind. I brought my own Vegenaise mayonnaise and I really enjoyed the veryyy yummy fries. What a great end of my first day.

img_5242December 21
I decided to go to Germany today with my mum, my sister, my niece and Odette (a very nice colleague of my mum). It’s only an hour drive. Just across the border, in Leer, there is a very big shopping mall, where apparently things are a lot cheaper. I never went, so I was curious. Nobody knew exactly where to go to, so we first ended up in the centre of Leer. What was actually very nice. Next to where we parked the car was the Bio Markt, where I got some nice vegan goodies. Yummm! I bought a new shirt at H&M and I’m very happy with it. Though I had to keep a close eye on what I spend, I had to get this shirt. I wore it a lot already, it’s one of my favourites now, so worth it. I also bought this cute wooden sign what says ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, on sale. We eventually used the TomTom to find this big shopping mall, called ‘Familia’. We first had some tea there and then we did some more shopping. I didn’t think it was that much cheaper, but I did get some nice things. It was still nice to be in a huge supermarket, I love that. We had so much fun too, good laughs! In the evening my mum and I did the Christmas tree.. I know, a little late. It was very nice though. As we’re celebrating Christmas, the gifts have to go somewhere.. haha!

img_4579December 22
Today my dad got the most amazing news ever! It needs a little explaining first.. my dad is ill and he can’t work anymore because of too much pain. It became impossible. Though in Holland it isn’t easy to just stop working. What is a good thing, but if what you have makes it sometimes a lot of times impossible to even function normally during the day, there comes a point where you need to stop working. My dad reached that point about 2 years ago already, but he kept trying. He is an all round carpenter/builder, specialised in renovating, so it’s heavy work. The whole process of being able to stop working, but still to receive the money you have the right to, is long and sometimes very unfair. It was super stressful, what made the illnesses worse. But today.. he finally received the letter, after all his hard work, that he didn’t have to work anymore, but would still receive his payments! To get this incredible news just before Christmas is just so amazing! You probably understand that there were a lot of happiness tears! It made the day very special. Another very nice thing was that Julian, my brother, and Marsha, his girlfriend, performed together on stage for the first time and it was so lovely. They sung a beautiful song whilst Julian also played the guitar! I watched the little video about a 100 times. So proud! In the evening my mum and I watched one of my favourite Christmas movies, ‘Love Actually’. Gosh I love that movie!

December 23
Apparently everything we did for Christmas needed to be late, because we went to get groceries today. Normally I’m never like this, especially not when it comes to Christmas (remember I started to do my Christmas shopping in October?). Lucky us, we didn’t need a lot of things other people needed too, so everything was there and it was very cheap. We had enough food for 8 people (ok and we still ate from it 2 days after, so we could have had 12 people over I think). All together it was something like 80 euros, which I think is such a good price. In the afternoon I looked after my nephew Jinan. We went to the little village supermarket, because he wanted to get Julian and Marsha something for Christmas. What is so sweet, as he’s 9. My heart melted of course. He picked sweets and chocolate and we wrapped it together. They were the first presents under the tree. When we got home I worked on my blog and he also did some things on the laptop. In the evening I cooked us some dinner and we ate it together, he’s so sweet! In Holland ‘The Voice of Holland’ is on at the moment and so my mum and I watched that together. A lovely relaxed evening in front of the telly. Did you know the program originally comes from Holland?

img_3836December 24
I planned to drive to the north today, to Uithuizermeeden to be precise. To deliver some last Christmas cards (again, I know.. late!) and my best friends and my grandparents live there. When I wanted to post my aunt and uncle’s Christmas card they just got out of the car with 2 of my cousins, so we had a little chat, was nice to see them. Then I drove to my grandparents and I stayed there for a few hours. I love my grandparents and I always see them every time I visit Holland. It’s important to me. In the afternoon I went to the house of my friends, Nienke, Jeroen and their 1 year old daughter, Annemarie. We had a late lunch together and did lots of chatting. They got me some very nice gifts and Nienke made me a very nice hand-made card and tags. I also always see them when I go to Holland. I know Nienke since I was a toddler and Jeroen since I was 13. I love them! One of the reasons I also love to go to the north is because I love to drive the car, haha! As it’s Christmas evening my parents and I decided to watch a Christmas movie together. I actually wanted to watch ‘Elf’, but my dad is not a big fan and so we looked on Netflix. I actually like movies I already watched before (haha!), but there was this movie called ‘The Spirit of Christmas’, what looked nice and none of us watched it before, so we gave it a try. Turned out to be such a nice movie, with a very nice actor.. hehe.. So I want to recommend it for next Christmas, in case you’ve watched ‘Home Alone’ too many times already.

img_3831December 25
It’s Christmas! ..but guess what.. in Holland we’ve got 2 Christmas days. 1st Christmas day and 2nd Christmas day. Today my sister still had to work and so we decided to celebrate Christmas on 2nd Christmas day. Felt a bit weird to do nothing on the 1st, but I was looking forward to tomorrow. At lunchtime we went to Rikus, as Freek was having lunch there with his son, his son’s wife and his grandchild. Freek used to live across the street, but he moved to a home for elderly now. My parents still visit him 2 times a weeks and sometimes I come with them. We just went to say ‘hi’ and I had a Christmas card for him. In the afternoon I wrapped up all my gifts, what was lot of work, but I like it.

img_4038December 26
Yay!! Was looking forward to this day and I started cooking straight away. I made sweet potatoes with a nice black bean filling (recipe), a beetroot salad with dill (recipe) and an aubergine curry with rice. It wasn’t even that much work and I really enjoyed it. I was also very excited to meet my brothers girlfriend, Marsha, as it would be the first time I would meet her. So I got myself ready, my mum was doing the table in the meantime and everybody was walking in around 16:00. We decided to first do presents, because doing dinner before presents, whilst there are a 9 and 2,5 year old excited for presents, the dinner will not be very peaceful. There were soooo many presents! We should have gotten at least 3 big Christmas img_5243trees to make it fit. It took us 2 hours to open everything, but it was so much fun. I got so many lovely things! Really appreciate them all. The only thing is that I wish that Steven could have been there too, missed him so much! Everybody liked the dinner and to make it even more perfect.. my sister made a chocolate pie with chocolate icing! Deeelicious! I’m so lucky to have an understanding family. My dad and I are the only vegans, but everything was vegan and everybody is ok with that. I feel so grateful for that! We had a very good time at the dinner table. Marsha, who’s so nice btw and a perfect fit for our family, brought her guitar and we sang lots of songs together. Was so much fun! This was one of the best Christmases I’ve had. Would have been totally perfect if I didn’t have to miss Steven though. I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas too. Tell me about it if you like!

img_3976December 27
On the 21st of August it was my nephews birthday, but I never gave him a present. I promised Jinan to go to the cinema for his birthday, but the last time I was in Holland we didn’t have enough time. Of course I didn’t forget and because it’s the Christmas holidays, there was enough time now. So we went today. He picked the movie ‘Pets’ and it was on in Assen at 10:45. Jinan absolutely loved the movie, I thought it wasn’t that good actually, haha! It was nice to be there with him though and see him laughing and having fun. After, we ate some fries at the snackbar across the street and it was so nice to spend some quality time with him. Before we went back to the car we walked to ‘Eko Plaza’, a health supermarket. We got some vegan mayonnaise, chocolate, red chilli pepper sausages and I got a hair mask from Weleda. My hair is quite dry from drying it with the blow dryer and I decided to look after it a lot better. So regular hair masks will be a good treat for my locks.

December 28
Quite a relaxed day today, I didn’t do much. Christmas is finished, but I still didn’t watch one of my favourite Christmas movies, ELF. This movie is so stupid, that it’s hilarious! Haha.. My sister and Jinan never watched it before, so in the evening we went to their house to watch it. We had tea, some yummy snacks and we laughed so much. It was a lovely evening!

December 29
Because I love Nienke so much, we planned another visit today. This time she was coming my way. She also brought Annemarie. We had lots of tea, lots of biscuits and we did lots of chatting! Melody, my sister, also came with Joëlla for a little bit and the 2 girls together are just so much fun. It’s like watching an entertainment show!

img_4148December 30
Starting the day, like every day so far, with a lovely sleep in. Opening the blinds woke me up instantly though, it was very white outside from all the frost. It looked beautiful, but it meant it was very cold outside. I don’t like cold. The only thing what excites me about it, is that I can take some nice pictures. So around lunchtime I went with my dad to walk the dogs. I took some nice wintery pictures, but we went home quite fast again, as is was way too cold. At home we made tea to get warm again and we kept chatting for a few hours, lovely! In the meantime Steven send me pictures of palm trees and sunny markets.

img_5244December 31
Tonight it’s New Years Evening! Yay! I love to end a year, to start with a new one. In the afternoon we were all invited by my mum’s work. My mum works at ‘Rikus’, but the owner has another Hotel-Restaurant, called the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’. The party was at the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’, same as last year. Before we went there I made some cinnamon rolls (recipe) for tonight. In Holland, at New Years Evening, we eat oliebollen. Oliebollen are typically Dutch and are some sort of fried cakes. They are not vegan, so that’s why I made the cinnamon rolls instead. I should veganise oliebollen though, that would be nice. Maybe next year! At the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’ it was really nice, but after 2 hours we went home for dinner. We always eat the same thing at New Years Evening and everybody is always very much img_4358looking forward to it. We eat mushroom ragout with pastry cups. My dad always makes it from scratch. He used to make it with chicken, but as we’re both vegan he veganised the recipe and it’s delicious! My mum, brother, Marsha and me played a card game in the evening, what was very fun. After that we watched ‘Ik hou van Holland’ (I love Holland), a game show. They always make a special New Years Evening version of the show and it’s very nice and very funny. We kept watching that until it was 00:00!!! After wishing each other a very Happy New Year, I got a message from my amazing boyfriend. He wished me a Happy New Year all the way from Brazil (where it’s 3 hours earlier). Loved that so much! Then we went outside to img_4355watch the fireworks and to wish the neighbours a Happy New Year too. Eext is a very small village, but quite a lot of people have beautiful firework. Julian and Marsha had a wishing balloon and they asked me to help them. So we went to the dark field behind the village and we tried and tried, but the wind was just too strong and unfortunately it didn’t work. My hands got so cold, that they were stinging a lot. I was scared they might fall off. Happy to be back in the streets, I joined my mum at the neighbours house and we stayed there for a little bit. Around 2:00 we were in bed, but I wanted to wait until it was 3:00, so I could wish Steven a Happy New Year too. Around 3:30 I finally fell asleep.. cheers to a New Year!

January 1
Heading to the north again! To wish my grandparents a Happy New Year. We picked up Melody in Groningen as she celebrated New Years Evening with friends. My aunt, Renske, my uncle, Rudie, and my cousin, Blessing, were also at my grandparents and later on another aunt walked in too. So lovely to see everybody, to catch up and to wish them all a HNY! In the end I quickly went to Nienke, Jeroen and Annemarie for an hour. Had some tea there and we said our goodbye as I wouldn’t see them again until the next time I’ll come to Holland. We left in the beginning of the evening and we took Blessing with us. He always likes to stay over for a few days when it’s the holidays. He is such a nice child. He just turned 12 and it makes me realise how fast time is going, as I remember the day he was born so well.

img_4419January 2
My sister, Melody, picked me up in the morning to get groceries, because my cousin, Santos and his girlfriend, Charlotte, and also Julian and Marsha, were coming for dinner tonight and we were going to cook. It’s hilarious and partly exhausting to go to shops with Joëlla, haha, but we got everything we needed and so as soon as I was home again I started to cook. I made this yummy aubergine curry (recipe coming soon) again and the raw RainBOWL (recipe) salad. They came around 4:30 and after some chatting we had dinner. Melody made a nice pasta salad, yummy pizza and a dElicious apple pie. Everybody enjoyed it and almost everything was all finished in the end. That’s a good sign! We drunk some tea after and I must say that it was a really lovely evening, lots of fun!

img_5245January 3
In Groningen they opened the first Vegan Supermarket! Yay! My dad and I went to check it out. It wasn’t very big anddd.. they had ‘Oatly Foamable’! I didn’t succeed finding it anywhere else in Holland and there it was. I was so happy! It’s the best milk ever! So I got 3 packs. I also got some nutritional yeast and chorizo slices for my parents and 2 croissants. Apart from the ones you can roll out and bake yourself in the oven, I didn’t have a normal croissant since going vegan. I really liked this supermarket. The staff is amazing and very friendly. The man let us taste some mayonnaise and told me about the vegan supermarket in London (why didn’t I know this?! They will definitely will be a hotspot soon!). After walking outside with lots of vegan goodies we decided to go for a drink. We went to ‘Coffee Company’. It’s a very nice cafe. Lovely green tea and a cool interior. You can img_5246sit upstairs, where you can find benches and comfy chairs and downstairs you can sit at a long table. You can also plug in your laptop at the work tables next to the windows and work from there. Very popular with the 347962352 students living in Groningen. We ate our delicious croissants there and talked about all the holidays we had together when I still was a child. Lovely times! On our way back we popped into this very nice store called ‘Yantra’. You can get all sorts of nice jewellery, Buddha statues, singing bowls, crystals and a lot more. Such a beautiful store. I got myself some lovely smelling incense. Just before we got in the car I was able to quickly take some pictures of the many graffiti art around that place. Love it! In the afternoon I introduced my mum to the series of ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Steven introduced it to me and because I miss him so much I like watching it again. Luckily my mum loved it! We watched the first episode, but then we had to get ready, because we planned to go to Odette in the evening. Nicki (another nice colleague of my mum) was going to pick us up. Odette lives above Rikus with her boyfriend. ..and OMG! I love her house. It’s so cool. It’s one big space, but with just a few build-in walls to make a bath- and bedroom, overlooking beautiful fields and the forest. I’d love to live like that one day. We put on some facial masks and we watched ‘The Proposal’, with lots of chocolate, crisps and other snacks. A real girls night. So much fun!

img_4525January 4
Today I looked after Blessing, Jinan and Joëlla. Jinan and Blessing were doing things on the computer as it was cold and rainy outside. Joëlla and I went to get some groceries. I could go grocery shopping with her every day, so nice. She was behaving very well, apart from throwing the Pombears on the parking space in the end. Haha! When we got home we all had lunch and after Joëlla’s nap we watched some Peppa Pig together, with cucumber sticks and Pombears. I loved it!! I’m missing so much of my nephew and niece and to spend time with them when I can, just feels amazing. Blessing slept at Jinan’s house since, but as this was his last night he slept at ours. In the evening we watched ‘Iron Man’ and he really liked that. It’s also a movie I’ve watched with Steven.. hehe..

img_5247January 5
Happy Birthday to Melody! Normally I always have to go home just before or on my sister’s birthday, but because my new job doesn’t start until the 16th I had time to stay longer and so I finally was able to be on her birthday. We went to her in the morning and she made a very yummy yogurt cake with an Oreo base.. I had 3 pieces.. or was it 4? Oops! I braided my brother’s hair in the meantime and we drunk tea. Very nice! In the afternoon I went to my friend Esther. Blessing wanted to come too, because she has a lovely English Bulldog, Lucy. I know Esther from secondary school, but only later on we became friends, because of Pamela. Pamela was my English Bulldog and she went to Esther when I moved to img_4190the UK. I’m forever thankful for the amazing life Pamela had with her. It was lovely to see Esther and her boyfriend and wonderful to cuddle Lucy. She also got me some very nice gifts. I’m very excited for her to come to me in April. Yay! In the evening Rudie and Renske were picking up Blessing again but they also stayed for dinner. Surprise surprise.. I made the aubergine curry again! I also made pasta with a home made tomato sauce. They absolutely loved it! I knew that for sure as Rudie had 5 plates.. I don’t know how he did that, it was impressive! They stayed in the evening too and we all had Chai tea with Oatly Foamable, yum! It’s always so much fun with them.

img_4742January 6

In the morning my mum and I went to Freek and in the afternoon we looked after Joëlla, who wasn’t feeling very well. Poor her! So we stayed inside and watched some Peppa Pig again. In the evening my dad made home-made pizza, what was delicious. After that I introduced him to Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I really like to watch the same things over and over again. It’s my ‘special’ talent.

img_4911January 7
No!! Snow! It snowed in the night and everything was white outside. I don’t like snow. I love the look of it and I love to make pictures, but I don’t like that it’s cold and messy. My mum and I went to Assen, to go shopping. I still needed some gifts and it was nice to go to Assen for a bit anyway, the city I lived for 5 years. My mum needed a special kind of pencil sharpener and as we passed the arts and crafts store, we popped in. We found one and in the meantime I wrote ‘GO VEGAN’, with the big wooden letters they sell there. Hehe.. little activism! I got all the gifts and I also scored great new jeans and we had some yummy tea together. Shopping with my mum is the best! It was a good distraction too, because Steven was on his way back from Brazil and I’m always a bit worried with such a long journey. Luckily in the evening he send me a message that he landed all safely. The hard part now, was waiting for the next evening. Missed him so much!

img_4855January 8
There is somebody else I always go to when I’m in Holland and that is Mrs. Veenstra. She has been a friend of my grandma since forever and so my mum and all my aunt and uncles grew up with her. She is such a lovely lady! It’s always feels like a little party going to here. She is so sweet and super hilarious,, I love her dearly! My grandma called in the meantime and my aunt, Marieke, my uncle, Roel, and all 5 of my cousins happened to be at her place. So after we said our goodbyes we drove to Uithuizermeeden again. Was so lovely to see them all, because I don’t get the chance that often. ..and guess what?! They all turned out to be big Sherlock Holmes fans, haha, so funny! Tomorrow I’ll be going home again, this was a great last evening!

img_4769January 9
My last day here. Normally I’m not that happy to go home again, but knowing that I would see Steven again after more than 3 weeks, just made me very excited! I was going to be home around 20:00 and I was counting the minutes. I had this little suspicious feeling that he might be waiting for me at the Airport, but as today was his first day back at work, it was very unlikely. In the afternoon I packed my suitcases, what wasn’t that easy. How was it possible I had more stuff now than on my way here?! I still don’t know and though both suitcases were heavier than they should have been, the lady at the check-in was very kind. Lucky me, because normally they’re always very strict in Groningen. The journey took so long as I was so excited. heartI landed safely though and who was waiting for me there?! Steven! Gosh I love that man! I was so happy to be back in his arms.. best surprise ever!


HOTSPOT LIST
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext
Jufferen Lunsingh – Hoofdweg 13, 9337 PA, Westervelde
Bio Markt – Mühlenstraße 128, 26789, Leer
Familia – Nüttermoorer Str. 2, 26789, Leer (Germany)
De Nieuwe Kolk – Cinema/Theatre – Weiersstraat 1, 9401 ET, Assen
Eko Plaza – Torenlaan 24, 9401 HR, Assen
Vegan Super – Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 87, 9712 NG, Groningen
Coffee Company – Oude Ebbingestraat 39, 9712 HB, Groningen
Yantra – Oude Ebbingestraat 61, 9712 HD, Groningen

I hope everybody had lovely Christmas holidays and that you liked to read what I did in mine. If you have any questions or if you want to tell me about your Christmas, I’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Xmas Dinner

img_3262It’s almost Christmas! Are you reeaaady?! I wasn’t really, as I wanted to post this recipe a little earlier, but I didn’t have enough time. Sorry guys! Are you a real Christmas fan or do you think it’s all a bit too much? I personally really like Christmas, especially buying the presents and making a nice Christmas dinner for my family. At first my dad, my sister and I always made it together. My sister and I did the starter or the dessert and my dad did the main, but lately me and my sister are doing everything, what is nice too. My sister is really good at making desserts, so I decided to do the rest. I chose to do some simple things and also we’re just going to img_3264put everything on the table, instead of making every single plate. We did this because it’ll be a lot easier with 8 people and you can just take the things you like best. Now you’re probably curious about what I’m going to make? I’ll make a dill-beetroot salad and stuffed sweet potatoes from the oven, but there will also be lots of other veggies on the table like brussel sprouts, pumpkin, green beans, corn cobs and broccoli. Yum! If you don’t know what to make for Christmas yet, then this might inspire you. It’s easy to make, it doesn’t involve hours in the kitchen and it’s quite on budget too.. oh and did I say it’s delicious?!

img_3261BLOODY SALAD

Serves: 2

4 Beetroots (chopped)
2 tbsp mayonaise
1/2 avocado (chopped)
1 walnut (chopped)
1/4 cup peas (frozen)
1/4 tsp fresh dill (chopped)
1 cup spinach
2 tbsp feta (crumbled)

-Get the beetroots which are already cooked, the ones that are vacuum packed.
-Defrost the peas by putting them in boiling water for 10 minutes.
-Mix everything together and crumble the feta + come extra dill on top.


img_3265STUFFED SWEETY PIES

Serves: 2

2 sweet potato
1/2 black beans (canned)
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (mashed)
4 baby corns (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
1 tsp fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tbsp cream cheese
pepper/salt (to taste)
2 tbsp cheese (grated)
1 tsp olive oil
pepper/salt (to taste)

-Preheat the oven ay 200C.
-Rub some olive oil and a little salt on the sweet potatoes and put them in the oven for 50-60 minutes (depends on how big your sweet potatoes are).
-In the meantime you fry the onion, the garlic and the baby corns in the wok for about 6-8 minutes.
-Add the black beans, the tomato, the parsley and some pepper/salt and keep mixing it for 2 more minutes.
-Take the wok from the stove and mix in the cream cheese.
-Cut open the sweet potatoes, stuff them with the filling and put some grated cheese on top.
-Put the potatoes back in the oven (or grill) for a few minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted.

img_3260Are you having a Christmas dinner with family and/or friends?What are you going to make (or eat) ? If you didn’t decide yet, then this is a good option, also if you’re bringing (a vegan option) something when you’ve been invited. Or maybe you can make it for New Years evening?! Or whenever you feel like it of course.. haha! Please let me know if you decided to make these recipes! You can do this by leaving a comment below or by showing me on Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Sint Twist

img_2682In the Netherlands, every year, we celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’. A lot of people confuse this Dutch tradition with Christmas. Some people even think we celebrate Christmas earlier in the Netherlands, but Sinterklaas is very much separate from Christmas. Though there are similarities: It’s both in December, Sinterklaas en Santa Claus do look like each other a bit, it’s important you’ve been good all year, it’s also with presents and nice food and children love it. We celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December, but as we officially welcome him to the Netherlands about 2 weeks before this date, there is something else we do. You can put your shoe in front of the fireplace, sing a song, leave some treats for his horse and write him a letter if you like. The next morning it’s swapped for a present. So exciting for children!

img_2683On the day itself a lot of people have a nice meal together and after that it’s time.. The presents are waiting at the door and somebody(a family member, friend or neighbour for example) will ring or knock the door really loud. Children will run to the door and of course there is nobody there. When the presents are all inside it’s time to open them and it’s just so much fun! A typical sweet what is given by his helpers, are ‘pepernoten’. It’s like little biscuits. They’re delicious! I thought it would be nice to give you a little recipe today for a ‘pepernoten milkshake’. Very simple, very yummy!

SINT TWIST

Serves 1

200 ml oat milk
1/4 cup pepernoten
1/2 banana
1/2 tbsp palm sugar

-Put all the ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth.
-Sprinkle a crushed pepernoot on top.
tip: you can get pepernoten in the Dutch shop ‘Hema’.

Did you know what Sinterklaas was already? Have you tried pepernoten before and are you going to give this recipe a go? Please let me know in the comments below or share a picture on Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X 

Netherlands – Family and Friends

meLast week I was in the Netherlands. I always go back to the Netherlands about 3 times a year. I only went in the beginning of May this year (you can read about that time by clicking here) and though I always go with christmas it was too far away for me. Especially for my nephew, niece and the daughter of my friend Nienke, Jinan, Joëlla and Annemarie. They are 9, 2 and almost 1,5 and they grow up so fast and I already miss so much of them. I was really looking forward seeing them. Also my mum got very cheap train tickets you can use in the weekend and it was the perfect excuse to visit a cool city and to do some hotspot hunting. We decided to go to Rotterdam, but because I was going to sleep in
Eindhoven for 1 night and I was going to meet my mum the following evening at the birthday party, I decided to also go to Amsterdam. Those 2 city trip days were so busy, that I decided to write a separate post about that. In this one I would like to tell you about what I did the rest of the week.

hotelOn Thursday the 20th, very early in the morning (4:00) I woke up to get to the tube station, because I had to go to Liverpool Street. From there I take the Stansted express to the airport. At the airport it wasn’t busy at all and I could easily walk through security. No hassle, I like it! There is a Starbucks at Stansted Airport and I don’t need to tell you that I always go there, haha! The flight was a little bit delayed, but overall it went very well. I was going to sleep one night in Eindhoven for a few reasons. The next day I was going to a birthday party in Woudenberg and because my parents live all the way in Eext and we were going to Rotterdam the day after it would have been so much traveling. Also it gave me the chance to go to Amsterdam before the party, plus my best friend lives in Eindhoven and I didn’t see him for almost 2 years and it was our 5th anniversary this October! And if that wasn’t enough, I always wanted to sleep in the ‘Tulip Inn’ above the airport as it looks so cool. I was at Eindhoven airport at 11:15 and the hotel’s check-in was from 14:00. I could have asked to check in a little early, but I had so much work to do that I did that at the airport, assssss they have a Starbucks there too, haha! So I got a lot of work done in the meantime and I was rewarded with the most amazing room ever. My room was on the top floor, all the way in the corner. What meant that I had 2 windows and I was able to overlook the whole airport. It was amazing! The room itself was so perfect too. So spacious and with everything you need. A lovely bathroom, clean white sheets, a desk to work on, a lovely big sofa, a kettle with tea and so much more. I took a quick shower and then did some more work, until my friend came over. It was so nice to see him, I missed him so much. We had a lovely evening, talking about so many things and drinking tea. I love him lots!

pieThe next morning I woke up so well rested, without the airplanes waking me up. They have very good windows. I got myself ready and left the hotel to head to the train station to go to Amsterdam. I will tell you about my Amsterdam trip in my next travel post. So I will skip to the part where I met my mum at Amersfoort station that evening. When I arrived at the station my sister was there waiting for me. They wanted it to be a surprise, but ‘my mum’ was texting me whilst I knew she was driving the car and so I expected my sister to be there as my mum would never text and drive. It was so nice to see them both! I actually saw my mum the week before, because she came to London for 4 days to help me at work, but it was like I didn’t see her for so long. The party was very nice. It was the birthday of my mum’s friend Trudy, they know each other from school, so they have been friends for quite a while. I didn’t see her for very long and it turned out her sister and her parents were there too and it was all lovely to see them too. The biggest surprise was that Trudy made a vegan cake, because she knew I was coming. I couldn’t believe it! She has no idea how much I appreciate that. It was a lime-yogurt-cake and it was deliciousss!! I also really liked that everybody liked it so much, even though people were thinking at first that a vegan cake must come from a different planet. It turned out vegan cakes were not made out of grass, haha! I had some lovely conversations with people about my blog, though mostly I talked to my sister. I know.. but we didn’t see each other for so long, there were lots of things to talk about. Overall it was a lovely evening and I’m so happy I was a part of it. The next day we went to Rotterdam, but just like my Amsterdam trip, more about that in my next travel post. So lets fast forward a bit.. Sunday morning! I was so happy I didn’t plan anything that Sunday, as the last couple of days (weeks actually) were a bit crazy. It was the first day since ever that I didn’t have any plans. So I had a lovely sleep in and in the afternoon me and my mum did one of the things we love best.. grocery shopping! I got the ingredients to make an authentic Dutch apple pie. And honestly, that is the only thing I did that day and it was lovely!

pie2Monday I had another sleep in, yay! ..and then I made the apple pie. Never in my life I made it just right. My sister is very good at making them, but with me they were always too dry or not done. With that in mind and the fact that I was also going to veganize it, I was a little nervous. Especially the moment I was cutting it, but you know what.. It was perfect! I never made such a good Dutch apple pie. The fact that it’s all vegan must have made it perfect. I’ll make sure to share the recipe with you guys soon! In the evening my cousin Mandy was going to come as after being vegetarian for 10 years, she’s transitioning to being vegan. I’m so proud of her and I wanted to share and show all the products I have and use. Unfortunately she got very sad news that morning and had to cancel. I really hope to meet her next time. In the afternoon I watched ForksOver Knives and Cowspiracy with my mum. These documentaries made my dad go vegan. My mum is vegetarian for quite a while already and I would love her to go vegan too. She was very surprised by all the facts and really understands me more after watching it. The things what is stopping her to go vegan too is cheese and that other people will always think she is the difficult one. Though she is thinking about living more vegan and making an exception now and then. What is already making me so happy, as it such a big step in the right direction. I love that my family is becoming more and more conscious. Personally the hardest part of being vegan is that the people I love most are not caring about their own health, animals and environment enough to do something about it. I know I can’t force this upon them, but luckily my family and friends are nice enough to talk about it. I think I can consider myself very lucky with people like that. I could have been in the middle of big meat eaters who don’t want to listen to anything what matters. It meant a lot to me that my mum watched the documentaries with me. In the evening my brother came to visit. He lives in Groningen (for only 2 months) with friends. It was so nice to see him and because me and my mum dropped him back home I even saw where he lives at the moment. It’s an amazing location, in the middle of the centre. Though it’s 3 boys living there and I don’t think I need to say more, haha. Though I really liked what he did with his personal space and also that he really has a good time living there.

puOn Tuesday I got out of bed at a (for me) reasonable time, because I wanted to go to my mum’s work. My dad has a new car and  he let me borrow it, what was super nice. For the people who didn’t know yet, my mum works in hotel-restaurant called ‘Rikus’ as a hostess and she also does the cleaning. Rikus is also in Eext (didn’t make the drive very long, hehe..) and is not even 2 years old yet. My mum works there since the beginning and she loves it. I understand why, because it’s lovely. It only has 9 rooms and 1 apartment and you can make lovely strolls through the woods nearby. They grow their own organic fruits and vegetables which they use in their dishes. When I came there my mum made me a lovely tea and after I helped cleaning a room. I used to be a maid in a big hotel for a few months before I moved to the UK and it was funny to clean a room over there. They have lovely rooms, so if you’re looking for a room with a lot of peace and quiet, Rikus is definitely a good option. In the afternoon I went to get a few things at the shops in Gieten, a village next to Eext. I got all ingredients to make a pumpkin soup, some little presents for the kids I look after back in London and some other snacks (yum!). That evening I went to visit my friend Nicole, she lives an hour away, what I don’t mind at all as I love driving. Nicole and her boyfriend just bought a house and though they don’t have the keys yet she did take me there so I could look at it from the outside. A lovely house and I really like houses, so I really liked seeing it. Next time I come they’ll be living there and I can’t wait to see it from the inside. Then we went to get some groceries to make a big salad at home. The rest of the evening we did what we do best, chatting.. with tea, chocolate and left over apple pie I brought. Great evening!

pig-2The next day I was looking after Joëlla and planned on visiting my friend Nienke and my grandparents (they live in the same village). My mum was coming too and so we waited for her to come home from work. She had to work a little longer than expected, but it was so nice to spend some time with Joëlla. We sung songs, read the book ‘The Gruffalo’ twice, cuddled and made pumpkin soup together in the meantime, so we could bring it over for lunch. When we finally arrived Nienke was waiting for us with a set table and we were al so hungry that we immediately started to eat. The pumpkin soup was so yummy and I’ll share the recipe for sure. Nienke has a daughter Annemarie and it really feels like she’s my niece too. She’s such a cute girl! It was the first time I saw pigher walking and she changed so much, that I told myself I should visit a little bit more often. Joëlla and Annemarie played so lovely together and it was hilarious at times, we all had a good laugh. Children can be the funniest ever! Before we left we had to visit their pet pig.. of course!! They have a pet pig.. you understand I’m madly jealous! She’s called Madelief and the kids loved to feed her apples and chestnuts. Lucky piggy! It was a shame we didn’t have more time, but because I wanted to visit my grandparents too (I aways do), we had to go. It was lovely to see my grandparents and again we couldn’t stay long, but for me it’s very important to see them. On our way back we dropped Joëlla (who of course fell asleep in the last 5 minutes) of at her house and then went home frwhere I made dinner for my parents and myself. Already the last evening, but another amazing day with my lovely friends and family.

I started to pack my suitcase when I woke up and said my goodbyes to my brothers cats, Kenya and Dublin, who kept me company every night (normally they don’t because they only want to be with my brother). I’m really going to miss that. My dad looks after Jinan and Joëlla on the Thursdays and the Fridays and today I could pick up Joëlla from nursery with him. My dad and Joëlla have such a close bond, it’s lovely to see that. I made her and Jinan (who came home for lunch a bit later) lunch and then had to say goodbye to Jinan as he wouldn’t be back from school in time. Not long after I had to say goodbye to everybody as it was time to go. My mum dropped me off at the train station in Assen. Everything went very well, had some yummy fries for dinner at the train station in Eindhoven and before I knew it I was back in London.

I always have a good time whenever I’m visiting the Netherlands. I love my friends and family so much and I always try to see everybody, what makes it so special the times I’m there. For everybody who read this and who, in any way, made my visit worth it, a big  big thank you! Love you all!

Did you like reading my story? Did you visit the Netherlands too? I would love to hear about it! You can let me know in a comment below or via Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X