Blogs

My first CPR call

In the Netherlands we are building a network of voluteers who can do CPR. Everyone who has been trained can apply for this and you can get a call when help is needed in you direct surroudings.

So yesterday evening I got my first call. I have been a volunteer for 2 years now, so it doesn’t happen too often luckily.

I got to the scene together with another volunteer and it connected us. We had both dropped everything when we got the call and ran as fast as we could. Two strangers, now connected by something like this.

The ambulance got there before us so I didn’t have to do CPR for real but still the whole situation shocked me. A 19 year old guy got a heartattack whilst he was playing sports. 19 years old! The poor guy… 

I am grateful for being able to perform CPR. I’m glad I have this skill, that my former company trained me for this situation. I hope to never have to use it, but I’m glad I can.

Us volunteers don’t really get an update about the situation afterwards so I don’t know if he made it. I hope he did..

I must admit I didn’t sleep much last night. The adrenaline kept me going way longer than needed. I don’t think I’ll forget this day any time soon.

Can you do CPR? It can save a life.

Love, Laura

 

 

Reorganisation at work – will I lose my job?

No clickbait, I might actually lose my job!

The last year hasn’t been great for the company I work for. There was an issue with the factory, causing a production stop of 3 months. That resulted in a massive decrease in profit, as you can imagine.

But, during the New Years speech, the VP hardly mentioned those issues so everyone was surprised.

Now we now why. 2 weeks later, everyone received an e-mail in which reorganisations were announced. After that e-mail, it got quiet again so all commotion calmed down a bit again. 2 weeks later, viavia we heard all temporary employees will lose their jobs. Not officially yet but it makes a lot of sense so they can start looking for a new job. Not fun but at least they know what to expect.

The next group that is on the line are people like me. With a one-year contract. Last week management had a horrible meeting. Aparently they are really looking at every individual to see if they need to fire him or her. Tomorrow the numbers for the year will get published so probably just before or right after that announchment we will hear more. The waiting has already been so long! I just need to know! Now!

I could already search for a new job but with M. having to switch jobs next year spring, I actually just want to wait for him to make a move first. I don’t want to start somewhere new just to, have to quit again after only year.

What would you do? I kind of feel like a sitting duck at the moment but then again, this is the first reorganisation I am actually a part of.

Have you even been through something like this? Any tips?

Fingers crossed for now..

Love, Laura

Plastic frustration!

I am frustrated with plastic packaging. I really am.

We are sailors, love it, we hope to one day sail around the world.

For Christmas we got ourselves a membership to the magazine Zeilen (Sailing). A magazine for and by sailors. We bought a few editions in a bookstore before and loved it so we wanted to get more from them.

When the very first edition arrived in our mailbox, I could not believe my eyes. It was covered in plastic! WHY?!?!

I know they want to keep the magazine nice and dry, and it is easy to print the address on the plastic etc. but we also recieve a magazine from our catamaran sailing club and they do not cover their magazine in plastic, they put a sticker on it with the address and ship it. If it gets wet, too bad, it happens maybe once a year, and you can still read it, the pages only get a bit wrinkly.

I remember from a few years back every magazine came without plastic. Can’t we go back to that? It is such a waste and a massive problem for the environment.

So I sent a note to the magazine, to ask why they, hardcore sailors, water lovers, cover their magazines in plastic. I never got a reply. It frustrates me. Let’s have this discussion!

Please help me by connecting to companies like this. If we can ban plastic straws, we can also remove the plastic from magazines! It would save so much plastic. If we work together we can change this!

Which company are you going to ask to change their shipping method?

Let’s start this change!

Love, Laura

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Wedding update part 2

A DJ can make or break your party!

Right, a DJ..

There are hundreds of people offering their DJ service.. some are very cheap (too cheap??), some are super expensive (why would you pay 2000€ for 4 hours???). We needed to find good value for money, and we needed to find it quick. I set the goal to find and book one before the end of 2018. We made it, only by 3 days, but we made it! After a lot of discussions with another DJ company, we eventually decided to book The Differences. We liked their style and story. Also their DJ booth looks nice.

Wedding suit

M. found a suit and he doesn’t want to tell me what it looks like! How frustrating!

He went shopping with his mom… Yes, I was surprised as well and the best/weirdest part: they had fun…! I found a suit online that I really liked, so he looked up where he could try it on. One company was an hour drive away but they were shutting down their business and had discounts as high as 60% on everything! So he went there. He did tell me that it is not the suit I liked so now I’m even more curious. M. gets to pick it up on the 16th of February. Exciting!

Wedding day coordinator

Early on in the planning process we decided not to hire a wedding planner as we wanted to do everything ourself. But We also knew that on the day itself, we did’t want to be bothered with anything that didn’t go as planned so we hired a coordinator! Yes! We HIRED one. We didn’t want to give that task to anyone of our families or friends (which is actually very common here) as it is an important job as we really just want everyone to be fully enjoying the day, not running around to fix things. We had meetings with 2 ladies, and we really liked the second one, Nathalie Roskam from The Wedding Dream. So we hired her.

Decorations

We got some nice lanterns for the wedding that actually work on sunlight so we don’t have to take them down when it gets dark, light them, and hang them again. They will start burning when it gets dark automatically! Love that!

We also decided what we want for a type of guestbook. We want to place a large vase next to some small notes, ribbons and pens so people can leave us a small note, or advise, or wish or whatever they like. But it is less formal than a real guestbook which only gets filled half.

Getting dressed

On the day itself, we need to get dressed without seeing each other, so we need two rooms that are nice and open and will look good on pictures. As we are planning on starting a family after our wedding we decided to already give up our guestroom and change it into a very neutral room, suited for the wedding and easy to change into a baby room later. I also got an idea to change our bedroom, as we currently have a walk-in closet which we never use. All of our clothes used to be on to of our guest bed, as we never have guests staying over.. Haha. It was super lazy, but it worked for us. But now that bed is gone (someone is picking it up tomorrow).

So I first rearranged our washing room so it can store all of our clothes and we still don’t need our walk in closet. I made the rack for all of our hanging clothes myself, with materials from Hornbach, a very cheap DIY store near us. It cost me less than €60,-. We also bought a 4 drawer cabinet (from Jysk, again, very cheap but functional, think of Ikea) which is placed next to the washer and dryer. This holds all of our underwear, jeans, cardigans, sweaters and basic T-shirts and tops.

So part one (changing the washing room) is done. Part two (change the guest bedroom) is underway (I’ll share a photo when it is fully done). Part 3 requires some more thinking as it also involves electricity, lighting, drywall and flooring. We might hire someone to do it. It took me over a year, but M. finally agreed with me that it would really improve our bedroom. I plan on removing the wall between our bedroom and the walk in closet. When we do that and turn our bed 180 degrees, we will create a nice open space in front of a massive window that should be a really great space for relaxing and photos. Again, if it is finished I’ll update you with a photo of the end result.

Honeymoon

We could not decide where to go. We looked at renting a sailboat in Croatia, we looked at the Bahamas, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Bali, Marocco, Greece, Lombok, Costa Rica, Cuba, Zanzibar, and a few others. But we finally fell in love with an Island near Madagascar. Mauritius here we come! We are going on a super relaxing, 15 nights, vacation to Mauritius after our wedding. We will be switching hotels every 5 nights to be able to see some more of the island. I can’t wait! We used Tripadvisor to find the best deals on hotels, works like a charm!

Open things for the wedding:

  • A cake that M. actually can eat (cow milk protein intolerance).
  • Flowers
  • A runner for down the aisle (M. wants a white one and I would like to paint it with some blue and green to match our color scheme)
  • We need to take our mothers to the venue in the coming month or so, so they can see it and get an idea of what we are envisioning for the day.
  • Meet with our coordinator to go through all the vendors and the contracts.
  • Finish part 2 of our upstairs shuffle
  • Start and finish part 3 of our upstairs shuffle.
  • And a ton of other things I can’t think of right now, I have a list somewhere….

So this update is a little shorter than the one before but I didn’t want to make that one too long.

My next update will not be about the wedding, I promise!

 

Love, Laura

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year! (Wedding update)

Only 3.5 months left until our wedding!!!

Sorry for the exclamation marks but every time I think about it, it freaks me out. Time is passing so fast, I can’t believe it.

In the past 2 months we have been so busy with the preparations for the wedding, as there is so much stuff to do. I’ll walk you through it. With everything we ordered I try to put the link in.

Wedding photographer
We finally decided on a photographer for the wedding (woohooo!!). This was a massive item on my to-do list and it frustrated me beyond reason. I think, without exaggerating, I have contacted over 30 photographers, asking for pricing and availability. Some did not respond at all, others said our wedding wasn’t within their region (HELLO, this is the Netherlands, you can go from west to east in less than 2 hours and from south to north in 3h. If you live anywhere near the center, everything is in your region!) and most of the others had ridiculous prices (either they are really, really, really good and won a lot of prices or they were just asking too much money for what they had to offer). Please take into account I already made a selection before asking availability and pricing based on the type of photos on their respective websites.
You get it, it was a horrible task. But in the end I managed to find a few that were priced within reason and had a style we both liked.
One was a bit more traditional and would give us the standard wedding photos. He would shoot photos when the moment would be right. He would not be orchestrating a lot of shots.
The other one I found had a great portfolio but that also means he knows how to get a good shot and probably will direct you a bit more to get the best shot possible.

After meeting both, we felt we had to choose between the invisible photographer and OK photos or the visible one with great photos afterwards.
As they both came out around the same price, we decided to go for the 2nd one. We want photos we love!
So our photographer will be Marcel Fischer, from Fischer Fotografie.

Wedding invitations
After having spent an entire birthday party in November avoiding questions about our wedding, dodging the questions about our budget and the date and the location and the dress and who all would be invited and whether they could stay the whole day or only for the party, we decided to send out the invitations a.s.a.p.
We had them nearly finished end of November (we designed them ourselves) and we already had a complete guestlist, so why not just send them out?
In December in the Netherlands we get a discount on stamps (to get more people to send a card to all their family and friends to wish them happy holidays and a wonderful, great, fantastic, superb, nice, healthy, etc. New Year.) so we decided to get our invitations out in December. I know, it is super early, but we also knew we didn’t want to sit around the dinner table on the 25th with all my family with all of their questions and go through such a day again.

We went to a printing company nearby (Prima Print)and spend a wonderful afternoon there. At least, I had a lot of fun. We had our design with us on an USB stick so we could get some proof printing done on different types of paper.
We explained what we were looking for (off-white with texture) and the owner of the store was willing to help us. Het gave us 3 proof prints that were very different. One was super white and glossy (we didn’t like that). One was not glossy with some texture but it was nearly yellow, also didn’t like that. And one was super white but not glossy, and also no texture. Also didn’t like that one. So M. thought he would have to compromise and after spending a full hour(!!!) doubting what to do, he went back to this man, explaining the issue(s). This man saw it coming and he came back with another type of paper. Linen pressing it was. M. still wanted a proof print but I already knew. I asked the owner: WHY didn’t you give him this in the first place?! It would have saved us all an hour!!
And we both laughed.

The next day we sent our files, the different backs and the front and I got to collect the final product within 3 days. He didn’t mention it but I have the feeling we got a major discount. So I had the invitations, I got all of the required envelopes from our local bookstore and I had the stamps. Ready to rock and roll right? Nope!

We still had to round the corners of the cards, so that is 4 corners per card and we had 60 cards. Great… luckily, we bought the right tool, but still, a lot of work. We had to find a way to get the addresses printed on the right spot on the envelopes.
In the end, after a long day of work, we were able to post them before the deadline to get them delivered before Christmas! It turned out during our Christmas dinner with my family, everyone besides one couple had received their invites before Christmas. We are going to hear about them not receiving one until we are grey and old, that is for sure.

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Cutting the corners of our invitations.

Wedding rings
Another important item to arrange are our wedding rings.
We visited 3 jewelers and each time we got a better idea of what we were looking for. By the time we got to the 4th, we knew what we wanted and were just looking to get a good deal. We put a 600€ down payment and because I choose to add 4 sapphires to my ring, which come in multiple categories of blue, I get to go back in February to pick the exact stones I want, which I think is pretty cool!
In the end M. choose to go for a simple yellow golden ring, a classic, timeless, model. It suits his skin tone and overall style. I, on the other hand, looked horrible with a yellow golden ring. My engagement ring is white gold with a diamond, so I wanted something to compliment that. Even though I will not be wearing both rings on the same finger, they will be on the same hand, so they should match. My wedding ring will be small, to make my fingers look long, with 7 stones, alternating sapphires and diamonds. This way, a diamond will be in the center, to match my engagement ring. I am so glad we found the perfect rings. Even though at first, we were going for matching rings. But with our different skin tones, one or the other would just look odd. Our rings come from Le Mariage.

Will you be my witness?
We finally decided on our witnesses!!! Gosh that was a long process.
Here in the Netherlands we get to pick a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 people to be our witnesses.
It is considered a real honor to be selected for this. We don’t usually do the entire bridesmaids & groomsman thing you see in the US a lot. We pick witnesses.
We wanted to have 2 each, but then I had to choose between 2 of my best friends and my brother.
M. has 1 super best friend (the type you don’t see for a year but when you are together it feels like you see eachother every day), which he doesn’t see enough, one good friend, which everyone considers to be his best friend, but I don’t (he doesn’t tell him everything, whilst his other friend he can talk about really everything), and he was thinking about asking his youngest sister (ai.. is that going to cause envy with his other sister?).

So we both had 2 friends and 1 family member.

We decided to select one of each. M. picked his real best friend (whoohooo!) and his youngest sister.
I selected my female best friend and my brother. So we would both have a female and a male. It’s all in the details…

The day before Christmas we got the chance to meet up with M.’s best friend, who came over from the UK to visit his family. We used this opportunity to ask him in person. He was so amazed and surprised. He really didn’t see it coming. Mission accomplished!
On the first day of Christmas (we have 2 days here, the 25th and 26th), we had a large family dinner, with 19 people in total, at my parent’s place. At the end of the evening a managed to pull my brother away for 2 minutes and asked him if he wanted to be my witness. He was like: don’t you need a girl to do that?!
But he was thinking about all the bridesmaids you see on tv. Nope, you don’t need to wear a dress for this task (too bad though, would have been fun as he is about 2m tall, can you imagine???). After clearing that confusion, he was very honored.

In the first week of January I met with my best friend for a high tea and asked her there. She was expecting it, but still stared to blush, so sweet! The week after, M. went out to dinner with his youngest sister and asked the question. She also said yes.

So we are complete! we have our 4 witnesses!

Wedding veil
Something I didn’t order when getting my wedding dress is a veil. During the last fitting I did try 2, but as they were 100€ each, I found it too expensive. But M. has mentioned he really liked the idea of me with a veil so I started the hunt on Marktplaats to find a second hand one. Those should be priced a lot nicer. I found the exact type I tried on in the wedding dress shop, but it turned out to have a massive hole in it. Such delicate soft Tule, I was not going to be able to fix that! Too bad, but I had to let the deal pass.
After having scouted the internet for weeks, I decided to start looking abroad and I found a wonderful wedding veil in the US and including shipping and taxes it cost me only 50€! I was sold! M. loved it as well, so we just ordered it a few days before Christmas and it already arrived on the 24th! It is not soft Tule but that doesn’t matter, I will be wearing it low on the back of my head anyway, so it doesn’t have to follow every curve of my face. I love it, I will link to it here.

This blog getting a bit long so I’ll split it in two and post the next bit soon.

Love, Laura

Too Cute!!! Meet & Greet with Alpacas

Hi there!

Today I want to tell you all about my meet and greet with Alpacas yesterday.

My best friend has been talking about Alpacas for years now, but she has no space for them around her home. So sad!

All of a sudden 2 weeks ago, she said: let’s meet the 17th, I’ll come to you and we’ll go somewhere. It’s a surprise!

if you read my blog about celebrating life, you know I’m very good at guessing what my surprise will be. She knows that too, but still wanted to keep it a secret. So the challenge began!

The first hint I got was that Maarten couldn’t come because it would be too girly. Hmm.. what could that be?!

So I thought maybe she wanted to go horseback riding on the beach? Or a high tea somewhere? But she isn’t really into horses, and neither am I. So that wasn’t really an option. High tea was stil possible but she wouldn’t be so secretive about it!

My 2nd hint I got on Friday, when she suddenly texted me: whaaa I just saw the temperature is going to be so low tomorrow, it is going to feel like it is below 0 degrees C!!! And we need to be outside tomorrow!

Right, so high tea was no longer an option…

I spend half of the evening thinking about what the activity could be, knowing my friend, it could literally be anything.

But Alpacas are still her favourite animals and I know she has never been somewhere to feed or touch them. So I checked online to see if there were any Alpaca farms in the neighbourhood. Well, it turned out there were too many to count! So my bet was a visit to an Alpaca farm.

On Saturday when my friend arrived, we first had lunch and a short chat. Maarten told her that I thought we were going to do something with Alpacas. She kept such a straight face! So I still didn’t know if my guess was right! We jumped in the car and started driving, she gave me directions, still without telling me where we were going! After 45 minutes driving, she said: “ok, we have half an hour left to get there, and according to google maps, it is just over half an hour drive left.”. So I continued the drive, still not knowing where we would end up.

When we were only 15 minutes away she said: “ok, I’ll tel you now, you guessed right… it is not fair! how did you guess this?!”. She looked up the information that was send to her via email and finally noticed that we needed to be there 15 minutes in advance. Hahaha, that was literally not even possible anymore, we where going to be right on time or a few minutes late actually.

But they didn’t mind we were a little bit late, luckily they had been waiting for us.

So after a small talk and explanation we were escorted to the Alpacas!!!! (I’m typing the !!! for my friend, she was so excited!)

They told us some interesting facts like if they spit on you, you need to shower at least 3 times before the smell will be gone.. yikes!And that baby Alpacas (sorry, forgot the name) become fertile after 1,5 years (female) or 3 years (male). Fascinating these numbers don’t match don’t you think? Also, Alpacas don’t really like cuddles! What? Why does everyone think they are so cuddly?

The herd we visited stared out with 5 only 5 years ago, and now they have 30. Alpacas carry their baby for almost a year! (about 11,5 month) and can only carry 1 at the time, (sad fact) if it is twins, one almost always will die before birth.

These animals are into food! You would not believe it! As long as we had some food, they would be all over us, but as soon as it was gone, gone was their interest in us too!

But it was fun! We got to spend about an hour with these funny animals, then we had a cup of tea and a lovely apple triangle. It was so nice to just spend some time with my friend again, we hadn’t really spoken with each other in months, so we were waaaay overdue for a girls day.

I still need to ask her to be my witness at the wedding, any ideas to make the question extra special? Currently I’m thinking about taking her out for dinner to ask it, or we might invite all our 4 witnesses for dinner at our place around Christmas and ask them all together then. Any thoughts?

 

Love, Laura

 

Should we aim for FIRE?

FIRE????? What is that?

I recently learned about the FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early) and it blew my mind. I have always felt uncomfortable with the idea of having to work until (probably by that time with the increase retirement ages) I’m 70 years old. That would mean another 42 years! Having started working at 21, it just seems too long. I want to enjoy life!

The general idea of FIRE is that you minimize your spending and increase your income, savings and net worth, up to a certain point (25x the amount you need to life off per year), followed by living of 4% of your worth per year.

 

Taking finances

We recently sat down and talked finances. It was super uncomfortable, but it was good!

It turned out, we are willing to lower some costs but nothing too extreme.

We are already in a good place with regards to savings. We both have a very nice income and are able to save about 20-25% of our combined income each month.

Besides that, we are paying off our mortgage which in a way is also a savings account.

In 2014, the housing market was bad, really bad, houses were sold way under their real value, but we noticed the market started to recover so we actually bought our home in that year, knowing the value would go up. We started with a mortgage of 104% of the value of our home and are now down to 92%, if the value would have remained the same as when we bought it.

Luckily, the housing market has, as expected, increased significantly since we bought our place. If we would sell our house now, we would probably be able to get about €50,000 to €70,000 more for it. A friend of mine bought his house one month before us, he is now selling it for €80,000 more than he payed for it, and the first bid already went €10,000 over the asking price.

Combined with the part of our mortgage we already paid off, that would provide us with €80,000-€100,000 euro’s, just like that. Ok, in the Netherlands you are obliged to use that for the purchase of your next home within 3 years, otherwise you will have to pay taxes over this “fortune”. But still, less mortgage for the next house, or if you don’t buy a new home, more money to invest.

 

Increasing savings, lowering cost

So back to FIRE. The next part was finding out how much we could save, without any effort, without losing any of our luxury, without noticing it in our daily lives. Because that is the best saving right?

We both went through our memberships and other automatic payments and found we could save a lot of money. I had a membership which cost me €16.47 per month, only so I could save 5% on some of our insurances. I did the math and it doesn’t save me 16.47 or more per month, so actually, this membership is costing me money. So I ended it and informed the insurance company of my changed membership. To make sure I save this €16.47 per month, I set up an automated transfer to my savings account.

Same for my parking membership. Per license plate you have in their system, you pay 2.5 euros per month. You can add and remove license plates as you like, but you always need 1 at least. Even though we have 2 cars, I turned out to have 3 license plates in my app (one was from my mom and I used it once). I removed 2 and saved 5 euros per month, and I can always add a new one if needed.

Again, this money goes to the saving account each month.

You get the idea, we stopped a lot of these unnecessary memberships and payments. With some, you must wait for a few months before they really end your membership but that’s ok, at least we took the time and effort to stop those payments in the end.

We also investigated spending less on groceries, but this is really a habit we need to change so this requires some more work. We did stop with getting daily groceries and switched to 2 to 3 times a week. Let’s say we have successful weeks and less successful weeks.

 

Increasing income

So far for reducing our spending at this moment, the next part involves increasing our income.

Even though with my new contract, I went down in hours, my monthly income is still the same as with my former company. This freed up more time for me, without losing income.

This extra free time, we decided, will be spend on trying to create passive income streams or other income streams, besides our regular jobs.

Options for this are:

  • Start my own business, to make and sell wooden cupboards or cabinets. I made two for our own home, because we have some odd sized rooms and corners, and they turned out great and I loved doing the work. If I can offer these made to fit, this might be a nice side income.

my own wooden furniture

  • I speculate on the stock market with plus500.nl. I aim to put some more time into this and increase my profit.
  • Maarten has started to invest in small loans against a 5 to 15% interest rate for projects in our own country and usually in our direct neighborhood.
  • Instead of throwing away stuff we never use, we now take the effort to try and sell it on Marktplaats (similar to Craigslist, but Dutch).
  • Maarten loves to explain things and he is very passionate about his field of expertise so we might start a Youtube channel for that. I’ll let you know when the time is there!
  • Maarten might take a job as an expat for a few years, this would definitely boost our bank account.
  • We hope to be able to keep this house if we ever want to move, so we can rent it out.

And a few more similar options. As we can’t start everything at the same time we are focussing on things that are easy to implement, to start gaining some momentum.

 

Concluding

Do I think we’ll be able to retire at, just putting out a number, 40?

No, I don’t, but we might be able to increase our savings enough to retire waaaay before 70.

On the other hand, I’m only 28 now, in 12 years we should be able to get a long way! Let’s try and see how far we’ll get.

But for now, these extra savings are very welcome for our wedding 😉 by the way, only 6 months left till our wedding!!!! Time flies!

 

I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

Are you aiming for FIRE? How are you managing your spending? How are you creating more (passive) income?

Love, Laura

Celebrating life

It has been a while since my last update, so I got a lot to share with you!

First some exciting news, my temporary contract got replaced with a year contract per the 1st of October, so that means at least another year of job security, YES!

That also meant all of my saved up leave was going to be paid out at the end of my contract, so we decided to take leave instead of having it paid out. So in the last week of September we rented a lovely place in Friesland, a part of the Netherlands with lots and lots of nice lakes. We brought our small dinghies there and had a super nice week of no people around us, no computers, no work, just us and some sailing. I really recommend you staying there! The weekend we got back, we also visited a place that had just opened, like, that day, and as they are also an official wedding venue, we asked for a quote. This is the Lake House Rotterdam.

Despite a reminder after 2 weeks, I still haven’t received a quote (we are talking about a month lead time as I’m writing this).

Only a week after we returned to work, we had a meeting with another wedding venue on Sunday but that morning I felt horrible, my skin was aching, and I had a bit of a temperature. Within 3 hours, my temperature rose to 40.7 degrees C, at which point we called the venue to cancel our appointment. Luckily within 2 hours my temperature came back to normal, but I still felt horrible. It turned out I had a stomach flu. I had to call in sick from work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, I felt slightly better, so I returned to work but on Friday I was out again. I was so relieved when it finally finished on Saturday! Having lost multiple kilograms in one week means I now need to gain weight to still fit in my wedding dress! The struggle…

During the week I was so ill, M. had his birthday, he turned 32. We did go out for dinner that night but let’s put it like this: I was glad it only took a 10-minute car ride to get home, I wouldn’t have made it otherwise 😉.

While I was upstairs in the bathroom being super happy to be home again, the doorbell rang… M.’s parents! OH NO! What a timing from their side. They had not let us know they wanted to come and visit that evening. Luckily after only an hour they left again, as this was the first time we saw each other after we announced our engagement in July (which they didn’t like too much, to say the least).

As our birthdays are only 13 days apart we wanted to celebrate them together, to keep it simple for the family and to keep the number of cakes to a minimum. We had decided on the 20th of October, one of the Saturdays between our birthdays. But as his parents already came on his birthday, we saw the friends on the 14th and my grandma also couldn’t make it the 20th, we only had a birthday with my parents, brother and his girlfriend. It was nice though, you at least get the chance to talk to everyone.

For dinner we served a very nice taco with salmon, not our own recipe but I’ll link it here. It is super nice and easy, also great for summer. We only replace the sour cream with mayonaise.

On Sunday we retried to meet with the venue we had to cancel some weeks ago and it was a very nice place. It is called Wet ‘n Wild, because it is next to a small lake with a water skiing system in it. Only 3 hours after we got home we already got the offer for our wedding, that was the fastest so far, by far! (and it also was a good offer).

Yesterday we met with the caterer from our first venue, to see if we could do anything about the price as this is still our preferred location (Wet ‘n Wild is in 2nd place). We managed to decrease the cost by 2000 euros just by choosing some simpler options and the vendor will check some more things like what it will cost to serve our own wine and stuff like that. We are hoping the new offer will come in just under 9000 euros, still a ridiculous amount of money I think but that would mean we decreased the price by 25%. Also, we noticed the vendor was willing to work the prices a bit because we come from the same town (his in-laws are our neighbors). So, fingers crossed!

Something else:

I am never allowed to guess what my gift(s) will be because I usually get it right, M. hates that! This year, I didn’t ask for hints or anything but I still guessed it. He was furious… It was so funny!

Let me tell you a bit about the background of this gift:

We recently (1,5 week ago) cleaned up our garage, which still had an old kitchen in it. We took it out, end capped the water pipes, put some wheels under an old cabinet and screwed an OSB plate onto the cabinet. When we were finished, we had a work bench at our height (we are tall) and lots of storage space underneath. On the side there was room for a vise, which we didn’t have at the time. 3 nights ago, just before we went to bed, I was thinking about this vise, and found a nice one online so I showed Maarten. He was like: No I don’t want that one…

But I didn’t get it because it really was a great deal, it was super cheap and of good quality so I continued: why don’t you want this one? What is wrong with it? You won’t find a better deal soon!

After a long time, he finally whispered: because I already have one….

I waited for a few seconds before I burst out into laughter: IS THAT MY BIRTHDAY PRESENT!?!? A VISE??? HAHAHA

So, I again found out what my present was before my birthday… LOL!

I got to open it this morning as today, the 23rd, is my birthday. I turned 28, which oddly feels very different from 27. Maybe because 27 is closer to 25 than 30…

M. was so kind to already install the vise today, as he was working from home today so I got to admire it this evening. M. seems extremly happy with my birthday gift 🙂

I really enjoyed the past month, despite being so ill. Having our birthdays made me realize once again how fast time is passing and that we should appreciate it more. It is time to spend some more time with my friends. I haven’t seen them in ages.

On Sunday, M. will have his first trail run, of 10km and it is super close to my best friend so we will definitly be visiting her (and I need to bring cake so that will be my main task for Saturday).

Stay positive and celebrate life!

Love, Laura

Super easy Pasta salad with Mackerel and Cucumber

P1070497Hi again! Here is another one of my favorite recipes. This Pasta salad with mackerel and cucumber is super easy and fast and should not take you more than 30 minutes to make.

This recipe is ideal for a warm summer evening. I thought about saving it until next summer to post it but I thought, maybe someone can still enjoy it on a nice September evening.

For 4-6 people you need the following ingredients:

  • 400gr. pasta (we always use those shell types because the mackerel and sauce really go into it)
  • 1 steamed or smoked mackerel (this recipe is particuly nice with fresh home smoked mackerel)
  • 1 cucumber (diced)
  • 1 white onion (diced)
  • 1 bunch of dill (chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons of mayonaise
  • 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped really fine or use a garlic press)

Those are all the ingredients, not too bad right?

The recipe:

  • Ok, to start, bring enough water to a boil and cook the pasta.
  • In the meantime, remove all the parts of the mackerel you don’t like (make sure you get all those tiny fishbones) and pluck the filets into small pieces.
  • When the pasta is finished, dump the water and rinse the pasta with lots of cold water (yes cold, you want to stop the cooking process). Let the pasta drain very well.
  • In a large bowl, put the mackerel, onion and diced cucumber.
  • To prepare the sauce, mix the mayoniase with the balsamic vinegar and the garlic (this looks very nasty, I know, but the taste is great!).
  • Add the fresh dill and the sauce to the large bowl and mix it all together.
  • And that is it! Enjoy!

Some tips:

If you are not a big fan of raw onion, try chopping it really fine or only use half of the onion. If it is still to much for you, try heating the chopped onion until glassy  (use a tiny bit of olive oil) and add to the mix.

This recipe is great to prepare for parties, besides for the reason that almost everyone loves it and they always want the recipe, cause you can easily prepare this a day in advance, the flavours will mix a lot better, making this even nicer! Also, it is easy to make big portions.

I really hope you love it as much as we do, this has turned into one of our family recipes.

 

Love, Laura

 

Delicious Risotto with Cold Smoked Salmon and Vegetables

Hi there!

Here is my recipe for a delicious risotto with cold smoked salmon.

It takes about 40 minutes to make, from start to your plate.

For 4 people, here are the ingredients:

  • 300 grams of risotto rice
  • 150 mL white wine (fruity is nice)
  • 1.5 L of fish stock
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 leek (in half rings)
  • 1 handful of basil leafs (chopped)
  • 150 grams of cold smoked salmon (in small pieces)
  • some butter
  • grated cheese
  • pepper & salt as you like
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil

You’ll need a non stick pan for the risotto and a big enough pan to keep 1.5L fish stock hot.

The recipe:

  1. Heat the fish stock, put it on a small fire to prevent it from cooling down. It doesn’t have to boil.
  2. In the non stick pan, add the oil and heat it on a medium fire.
  3. Add the chopped onion and leek to the oil, stir until the onion turns glassy.
  4. Add the risotto and stir until it turns a bit glassy.
  5. Pour the wine into the pan and stir until almost absorbed.
  6. Now you can start to add the fish stock to the risotto in small portions, stirring often. After each addition, wait until it is almost absorbed before adding more stock.
  7. When you start to run out of stock, try some of the risotto to see if  it is nearly ready. The rice should still be firm but there should not be a hard piece in it anymore. If the rice is not done yet, add a bit more hot water, 100 – 200 mL usually does the trick.
  8. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and let the rice sit for a few minutes while you chop the basil and smoked salmon.
  9. Add both ingredients together with some bits of butter (makes it really smooth).
  10. Stir well and add some salt and pepper for your liking. (I never add salt as the salmon and stock are pretty salty)
  11. When everyone likes the same amount and type of cheese in their risotto, you can add the cheese at this moment, I prefer to let everyone add the cheese on their plate due to different cheese preferences.
  12. ENJOY!

I nearly forgot, this recipe is also very nice to take with you for lunch, fills you up really well!

Hope you love it as much as we do!

Love, Laura