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Obviously, I cook at home.  That’s nothing strange. Yet, since we’re talking about myself and my “darlings”, this story becomes a little unusual. I don’t know about those from other countries, but for the average Italian the following concept cannot be fully understood because it is absolutely out of the box . I will try to explain it anyway.

If I speak about renovating a house, an Italian can understand me very well. In most cases, they buy a home and hire a company to do the work. Here, in the Netherlands, on the contrary, people are the owners. This means that “we” get down to business and hope (and here I would like to emphasize “hope”) that in doing so we can save a considerable amount of money.  The practice is so common in this country that there is a special word to describe all the activities related to renovating a house: “Klussen”, freely translated into English as “to do odd jobs” :-).  Following the Dutch way, we bought a “klushome” that, you might say, we “won in the lottery” :-). In fact, several years ago, the municipality of Rotterdam started a project , “169 kluswoningen”, through which houses in bad condition are sold before renovation in the hope that  future owners will improve the neighborhood along with improving their homes.

So, to make a long story short, we have being “klussing” for 4 years, and – still not satisfied – we continue designing and building furniture for our house! But why can’t an Italian understand this? Simple! Because where I come from, “klussing” means just painting the walls and hanging a couple of lamps. In our case, we went a little further than that and we literally rebuilt the house turning it downside up.

Firstly, we lowered the roof to create a terrace, as we planned for an extension of the kitchen to be at the top floor (just to make it easier to manage the groceries and the kids!). Secondly, we moved the stairs, thus creating a double-height entrance in the center of the house, a sort of “light well” that connects the different levels: the entrance to the living room and the kitchen. Finally, we created a mini-apartment on the lower floor (the house is organized into three floors: second, third and fourth). It is in this mini-apartment that la Rosa (my mother) lives when she is with us, so that everyone has their own space. She has her own bedroom / living room, a kitchen and a private bathroom. You might think “what a luxury!” …  but believe me, she earned it! When we lived with the 3 of us in the mini-apartment, she slept in the construction site, first under the stairs and then in what later became the baby’s room. I wonder how many years out of our lives this house has cost us… but now that the renovation period is finished, we are very happy with and proud of the end result. It’s even been published a couple of times on the Internet, and a French TV program did a report on it (if you are interested in having a look, click here and here)! I hope I can continue to enjoy it for a long while because I have many plans in this regard.

When la Rosa is not here, the mini-apartment becomes a bed & breakfast, Casa La Rosa :-), a place to welcome our guests with hospitality and the opportunity of a warm meal. Furthermore, our kitchen is perfect for organizing workshops and this is a bit my dream. I would like to organize them for women with cancer, but also for groups of people who love Italian food and/or who may be interested in trying out a more health-conscious menu. First of all, I need some time to recover… then I will start this new project. I want to handle this project in the same way that I had dealt with the disease since November 2012: one step at the time. I will keep you posted!

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