Lately: November Days

I did a ‘life lately’ sort of post a few weeks ago that I enjoyed writing and that you guys seemed to like, so I thought I’d give it another go!

First things first … you may have noticed that since this post I’ve been suspiciously quiet about our house-hunting. Having learned the hard way not to count your chickens before they’ve hatched/your square metres before the contract is signed, I kept my mouth shut about some very exciting news.
But now, I can finally tell you guys! The contract is signed, the (piles and piles of) documents are in order, the notary appointments are made, the bank is on board, we’ve given our landlord our month’s notice … and we’re buying an apartment!
We will be taking ownership on 31 December and moving in the first week of January.

Everything happened all at once. We saw the place for the first time during the Open House Day we went to in Utrecht, and we both knew immediately that we wanted it. It’s in precisely the location we were interested in renting in, with two bedrooms, an amazing and newly renovated kitchen (the woman who currently lives there is a food blogger!), tons and tons of light, and a balcony! We made a bid the very same night, and after just a few days of back-and-forth with the owners, we came to an agreement. Since then it’s been paperwork and stress and calculations and decisions about mortgages, but by God we’ve done it!

Do you know what is less romantic than talking to your significant other about property ownership percentages, and who gets what part of the mortgage if you break up, and how much you should be ensured in case you die?

Nothing.

utrecht, autumn

We wandered out on the canal for a solid hour as we fervently discussed the bid we should make and made calls to the agent and to Pieter’s parents for advice – they have been amazingly helpful throughout all of this. I don’t know how we would have navigated the bidding process without them!

So – adulthood! How did that happen?! To counteract this sudden change I’ve taken to drinking all beverages out of my penguin mug and eating Sinterklaas goodies at every meal and basically being extremely excited for Christmas!

christmas, expat

Something I’m not so excited about? The darkness. It is so incredibly bleak out most days, and with the sun setting around 17.00 I feel like I’m walking around in perpetual night. Thankfully, the bright light therapy lamp I bought last year is still serving me well. I don’t know what I would do without it! Yes, the weather stinks, but unlike last year I don’t feel this oppressive force pulling me into the comfort of my blankets and sucking all of the energy out of me. I would seriously recommend one of these lamps to everyone. (If you’re in the Netherlands, I ordered mine off this site and was happy with the service.)

nl-winter-1

nl-winter-2

At least this is a pretty place!

In more exciting news, to celebrate my very belated birthday, my wonderful friends took me out for sushi in Utrecht (a middle point for us). It’s a little tradition of ours to go totally crazy at Sumo, and I was very happy to keep the tradition alive! It’s nearly impossible to get the four of us together in one room – all the more reason to celebrate!

utrecht

(But seriously – do you see what I mean by bleak?)

As most months are, really, this has been a serious eating month for me. Aside from our time in London, Pieter and I have also been out more than usual in The Hague. One successful night out was at Limon – a great little tapas place on the Denneweg. The food we had was really wonderful and, though the service was honestly quite slow, I would definitely go back.

limon, the hague

The atmosphere itself is so warm and welcoming and buzz-y – you’ll feel like you’re out in Spain somewhere!

We went for some pan con tomate to start, followed by the ‘gambas al pil pil’ (garlic-oil shrimp), sardinas a la plancha (sardines grilled and served with herb oil, lemon and tomatoes), and our two favourites: the pulpitos al ajillo (deep-fried baby octopus) and incredibly good patatas bravas, which we hadn’t expected to like so much!
In the interest of honesty, we also ordered a sort of stuffed aubergine dish that was fairly underwhelming. All of the seafood dishes were just divine though.

My pictures really didn’t turn out but I can hardly resist …

limon, the hague

spanish-tapas-denhaag5

If you’re in the mood for great tapas and you don’t mind a leisurely paced evening, I highly recommend giving Limon a try.

We actually loved the octopus dish so much that we decided to fry our own this past week – and it was surprisingly delicious!
Simply dip your octopus into first flour, then a mixture of egg & milk, and finally breadcrumbs, and then deep fry until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt, and serve with lemon. We will definitely be making that again!

fried-octopus

We’ve also been really digging Middle Eastern food lately – in particular, this specific Iraqi/Israeli street food that my friend introduced me to a few weeks ago. It’s a sort of wrap or pita pocket stuffed with tahini sauce, fried eggplant, boiled egg, green pepper & herb sauce, and fresh cucumber and tomatoes. Sounds weird, tastes insanely good. Give it a try!

ottolenghi, sabih

ottolenghi, sabih

I used Ottolenghi’s recipe but made it into a wrap – using, of course, my favourite flatbread recipe.

So this has gotten quite long and food-centric – as usual. I’d say by now my lunch break is well and truly over so I’m going to get back to it. Hope everyone is having a great week so far! Happy Tuesday!