And then it was Christmas already

Less than a month after my birthday, we were on an aeroplane to Florida again for the Christmas holidays. It was a very busy month at that with both of us finishing up courses we were teaching, I got to give a talk at MediaMatic, Sinterklaas celebrations (very important) and Christmas shopping. But we got it all done and we were on our way to the sun. And sunny it was!

It was actually warmer than it should have been for the time of year, but that was OK. It just meant that I could go outside in a t-shirt every day. Which I did. I managed to start most days with a short yoga session outside while looking out over the water. Not bad.

Paul gave me my Christmas present early, which was yet again a super awesome present, namely a new wetsuit. I already knew that he was getting me that, because I wasn’t allowed to bring my wetsuit on holiday. So on December 21st, I got to try it out, and it was toasty! It also works very well with the changing towel that Sinterklaas got me. This lady is one happy camper.

Sadly after two days of waves it was flat again. But there was still enough to do in Pensacola, such as the Christmas cabaret, trying out the new bakery that recently opened (fabulous cakes), hanging out with Paul’s friends in sports bars (I still find those weird, the sports bars, not the friends) and strolling along the beach.

We also went shopping because Paul needed some new clothes, so it was off to the outlet mall again. We went to the movies (Tin Tin, Sherlock Holmes & Mission Impossible IV), had lunch outside several times, slept in or had a nap in the afternoon, got a tan, watched the sunset…it was a real holiday ๐Ÿ™‚

Since we were also going to be there for new year’s eve, and Paul likes oliebollen, I had brought the necessary ingredients. At first I wasn’t sure whether I would make them, but internetradio was playing the Top 2000 and because Paul didn’t know Paradise by the Dashboard Light, how is that possible?! I decided to update him a bit on popular Dutch culture, so I went all out pulling up Wikipedia pages on artists and making oliebollen.ย I’m not a pro, but they were still quite decent. So we also had oliebollen for New Year’s Eve. And some the next morning, had I told you yet about the nice weather? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Getting spoiled

This year my birthday was on a Friday, and I had to work. But still, I got spoilt rotten. It started already the night before, with a book that was waiting for me on the bed (The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, fiction, a fun read for anyone who’s into their vampire/history stuff).

The next morning I found a CD on the table, and it’s seriously one of my favourites ever since (it’s Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars):

My office mate had also decorated my desk:

After work, Paul first got me the coolest apron ever, with all sorts of handy info such as conversions and little cookery tricks. All upside down so if you hold up the apron while you are wearing it you can see what to do. He also took me out to our favourite restaurant on KNSM island, De Wereldbol, and he had arranged for a fancy dessert with fireworks:

The next day my family came over to Amsterdam and we hung out and had dinner together. Oh and cake from Patisserie Kuyt. And I got presents, the tajine that has become one of my favourite kitchen appliances, a handy thermos, a dodgy book and a photo frame, and a gift card for a shop that sells cake decorations ๐Ÿ™‚

A Sporty Weekend with the Family

I’m always late delivering on promises. Last year I had promised my dad to take him out horseback riding. We both know how to ride, and we used to go on riding tours together sometimes. Anyway, early November I had finally arranged for a tour through the Mastbos in Breda. Winter was unusually mild here, so even in November, the weather was still amazing and the forest looks absolutely splendid.

I must say, it took a little getting used to being on horseback again, in particular the galloping bit, but I’m just blaming the saddle being weird ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย It was a lot of fun though, it really was nice to be out and enjoy the landscape and chat a little bit.ย This spring we’re going to try to go riding on the beach.

After we put the horses back into their stables, and had some hot cocoa, I quickly needed to get a shower and then I was back off again to Breda. This time with Paul, and the first stop was my grandparents. There we had tea and loads of sweets. Onto the next family stop, dinner with my uncles. Instead of home cooked goodness, they had decided to take us out to a nearby restaurant that they wanted to try out, works for us ๐Ÿ™‚ ย It was splendid. So was the Licor 43 afterwards at their place.

The family weekend wasn’t over yet though. Frank and Joyce had wanted to try out the new slope at the indoor ski place in Rucphen. Since Paul and I hadn’t used our gear in a while, and still had some vouchers for a lesson, we joined them. I found out that with these vouchers, you can only do beginner’s lessons, so I was back on the kiddie slope (with lots of kiddies), but at least we got to refresh our basics and ease back into it. After our lesson we joined Frank and Joyce and went for the speeding and jumping (well they did, I tried a few times and failed to steer myself onto the ramp properly, I guess I need to practice some more).

Around 4pm we got a ride back to Etten-Leur from Sara and on to the train station so we could make our way back to Amsterdam. Sore but happy ๐Ÿ™‚