As we enter autumn (Or: Stroopwafel cake)

Over the weekend Roger made stroopwafel cake. Yum!


Here’s a closeup of one of the slices:


And, for randomness, here is a look at the fall mural for Eat Company, drawn by Sophia den Breems:


Spring 2016 mural || Summer 2016 mural

Categories: Food, The Hague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Time to vote (Or: American presidential election)

Next month (8 November) is the American presidential election. But early voting has already started – early voting in person is allowed in 33 states and early voting by mail is allowed in 27 states (English Wikipedia). And that isn’t even counting absentee ballots for citizens living overseas or in the military.

I am a bit late to the game but this year I decided to register to vote for the first time🙂. This entails filling out an absentee ballot and sending it back to the county of one’s last official U.S. address. For me, this means sending it to Rockland County, New York as my last American address was in Pearl River, NY. A county is made up of a group of cities that work together under the same administration, and an American state is generally made up of these counties. So state -> counties -> cities.

For voting information, you can visit, or the Federal Voter Assistance Program. They have articles there like 5 things you need to know to vote absentee.

Step 1 is to download the FPCA (Federal Post Card Application) and mail it in to get into their system. You have to do this at least every few years – mine says it expires at the end of 2018. Also in New York you have to declare your party about 5 or 6 months in advance (Democratic or Republication) if you want to vote in the primaries. The primaries were earlier in the year, and are used to determine who will lead the Republication and Democratic tickets. You can read more about it here.

The only drawback at the moment is that New York state hasn’t fully embraced the digital age. So I can download the FPCA from the website, but I need to send it a hard copy (even if I also email it).

Step 2 is waiting for the actual ballot to arrive. Mine arrived last week, and I filled it out and put it in the mail yesterday. Like the FPCA, you need to mail it a hard copy, not just vote online.

Here is a look at what arrived:


The actual ballot is open in the middle. Above that, you have a smaller envelope which you date and sign. You then place the ballot inside. It’s a security envelope, so you can’t look through it. Below, you have a slightly larger envelope which you put the smaller envelope inside. You put your return address in the upper left and (since I am not in the US) appropriate postage to get it back to the US. Postage is only paid for if mailed from within the US.

And a close-up of the actual ballot:


On this ballot, you had three choices: President and Vice President (column 1), US State Senator (column 2), and not pictured, the House representative. The last race featured Nita Lowey, who was running unopposed.

A bit interesting – you can see that the race for President/Vice President had some duplication, as both the Republications and the Green party supported Trump/Pence. Similarly, there was some duplication for Clinton/Kaine (Democrats, Working families, and Women I believe).

This ballot is from Rockland County, NY. The format probably varies with each county, so this isn’t indicative of all ballots. And in a week or two I can check back online to see if my ballot was received and counted.

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A different kind of workshop (Or: Making a gin and tonic)

Last Thursday some coworkers and I were invited to a cocktail making workshop. The cocktail in question – gin and tonics! Not something I drink very often. Upon entering, we were given a choice of red or white wine:


After we were told that we would be making gin and tonics, we were shown three mystery gins. There was obviously a difference in taste – some herbal, some floral. Not something I would have expected.


Sampling each of the three gins – a small shotglass of each

And here’s a look at the three gins used:


Hendrick’s, Bombay Sapphire and Gordon’s (my favorite was Gordon’s).

After that we sampled three tonics, still mystery style like the gins. One was Mediterranean, another Indian, and I don’t remember the third. The Indian tonic was my favorite as it had a bit of carbonation behind the flavor.

After we had chosen our gin and our tonic, we could add either wet or dry ingredients.


the table with wet and dry ingredients (not everything was shown here)

I kept my drink rather simple, opting for only the slightest hint of basilic basil syrup in an attempt to give it a bit of color and red peppercorns for a bit of spicy after taste. Also a lime wedge, but that was just garnish.


A coworker and I’s inventions – mostly the same, except that she chose the Mediterranean tonic and a lemon wedge. Unfortunately the color from the syrup didn’t really come through, but I was trying not to make it too sweet.

I never drink gin and tonics, but I might have to give it a try after this workshop!

Oh, and a bit of final trivia: the prevailing theory is that gin originally came from the lowlands (Netherlands and Belgium). All gins use juniper to some degree. The Dutch word for juniper is jenever, which became genever in old English, which was later shortened to gin.

Categories: Working & Volunteering | Tags: | Leave a comment

3rd wedding anniversary (Or: A stay at nhow Rotterdam hotel)

Last week Marco and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary at the nhow hotel in Rotterdam (Dutch | English). The hotel was designed by Rem Koolhaas and currently holds the title of the largest building in the Netherlands (at 160,000 square meters).


Our room ended up being in the lower left building, in the upper left corner on the 23rd floor.

Where we were going and where we were staying was a surprise on my part – Marco only knew that it was a city in the Netherlands and we would be spending one night in a hotel.


Rotterdam Centraal, the train station. We ended up taking the new metro line E from Den Haag Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal, but that is for another blog post.🙂

Continue reading

Categories: Marco&Niki, Rotterdam | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Wednesday outing (Or: Cocktails by Milu)

Last week I went out with my colleagues for Wednesday night €5 cocktails at Milu (Dutch | English). It’s a restaurant close to the Grote Kerk (a well-known church in the center of The Hague).

First drink - a spicy mango martini, chosen in honor of Marco, who loves mango stuff ;)

First drink – a spicy mango martini, chosen in honor of Marco, who loves mango stuff😉

Actually Milu was where Marco and I had our wedding reception (back when it was known as “Het Wapon”). We hadn’t been back since it closed and this one came in, so it was admittedly weird to walk back inside and at some point to go upstairs (both the bathrooms and the festival room are there).

Continue reading

Categories: The Hague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Waiting, waiting, waiting… (Or: Joining the MacBook Pro world)

I was going to write about the lovely cocktails that I enjoyed at Milu last Wednesday, but I think that will have to wait until the next blog post! Instead I am going to talk about my PC. I received this computer as a birthday gift from Marco and Roger back in April 2010 or 2011. It is a cute little Asus netbook. Either way it is at least 5 years old. It does okay, all things considered. Except when Windows 10 needs to reboot to install updates. Ugh!

Since I’ve taken that picture it has mercifully come back, but it did spoil my plans to write a blog post there. So instead I am writing this blog via the WordPress app on my iPad while using a Bluetooth keyboard. It’s not the fastest typing in the world, but it is still much faster and accurate than what I can do on the iPad directly. Except for the last sentence. Ironically I made a lot of typos and had to slow down my typing there…

In the meantime I’ve been waiting on the new MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, I expected it to come out in March or June of this year. It’s now September with no end in sight. Well, except an email reply from Tim Cook that they didn’t forget about Macs. Hopefully that means October, but we’ll see! Part of the reason I’ve been patiently waiting was because there is a good chance I will go for the 15 inch rather than the 13 inch, and the processor in the 15 inch is already two years old (it did not get upgraded last year). Not a problem at all, except that I’ve proven I like to keep hardware for a long time, so I want a computer that lasts at a minimum five years. I love my iPhone 5 and secretly dream that I can hold on to it until early 2018. Another reason is that I secretly love to read the “Waiting for Skylake” thread over on Mac Rumors. Skylake being the new processor. The thread is around 24,000 replies and almost 1,000 pages. Crazy! 

Part of the reason that I am looking to get into a Mac is to finally have all Mac devices — I find it really frustrating that I can’t easily copy text from my PC to my iPad or vice versa. That is actually possible with the upcoming systems. But the main reason for writing this blog post was to explain why I haven’t been writing as many blog posts lately — I usually average once a week, usually in the weekend. It takes forever to load websites and copy images over from my phone (I either use Dropbox or a special flash drive with a lightning/USB connector).

Anyway, another month or so, and then hopefully the blog posts will become more frequent! Hopefully.🙂

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Surviving and working together (Or: A day out at Scheveningen)

These photos are actually from Marco, who had a work outing in Scheveningen this past week. The theme was “overleving en samenwerken”, or “Surviving and working together”, which can be complete opposites if you think about it… From what I heard, it was the typical team outing – rope tug of war, get this water from this place to that place using only three bamboo tubes, etc.

The first picture is a look at the art installation “Beelden aan zee” (Images by the sea) (Dutch website | English website). Along with the museum, Beelden aan zee is known for outdoor metal sculptures inspired by fairy tales, a few of which like the one in the photo are very, very tall and make for great photo opportunities. Especially at sunset…

Scheveningen Beelden aan Zee at sunset

And Scheveningen’s latest tour attraction is a ferris wheel partially constructed over the sea on the pier (English news article | Official website in Dutch).

New ferris wheel in Scheveningen

And a close up:

Closeup of new ferris wheel in Scheveningen

It is kind of interesting that I have never set foot on the pier. Well, to be fair it was closed for renovation for a long while. But it’s on the to-do list…

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Belgium turns orange (Or: Verstappen mania)

Here in the Netherlands you have an up-and-coming Dutch racer by the name of Max Verstappen. He’s been around for a few years, starting with the story that he was racing in Formula 1 before he had a driver’s license. Earlier in the year he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

Today is the Belgian Grand Prix, where Verstappen starts 2nd (although at the time of writing, he’s slipping back to 13th due to some car damage). But of course – Belgium has turned orange! Around 50,000 Dutchies were expected to travel to the neighboring country to be at the track. Traffic jams have been reported the entire weekend (article in Dutch) – at its worst about 2 hours extra traveling time.


Photo: Filip Cleeren

The above photo was taken by Filip Cleeren and comes from the article Analysis: Max-Mania at Spa as F1 turns orange (in English).

Categories: The Hague | Leave a comment

New metro station (Or: The Hague to Rotterdam)

As of yesterday the new metro station at The Hague’s Centraal station is ready! It connects The Hague with Rotterdam via metro line E. Marco and I were waiting for a bus to Wassenaar so I took some pictures from a distance:

New metro station at The Hague Centraal

The white tunnel form definitely reminds me of the design near the Beatrixlaan station. And another one:

New metro station at The Hague Centraal 2

Maybe Marco and I have a good reason to finally visit Rotterdam now. I think the last time I was there was for a WWE wrestling show… But that was three years ago, so I am sure I have been back since then. Right?🙂

Categories: The Hague, Transportation | Tags: | Leave a comment

Remnants of theater (Or: Dr. Anton Philipszaal)

Back in December I showed a picture of the tearing down of the Dr. Anton Philipszaal in The Hague. Remarkably, there’s still a small piece of the building left:


Marco and I were on the way to Lebkov by Centraal Station for some coffee. We ended up with iced cappuccinos – yum! Since it’s a nice summer day (but not THAT nice of a summer, the Dutch meteologists say…)


And a look at their logo:


Oh, and one final fun fact – as usual, Sinterklaas candy is already popping up in stores. It’s only August people!🙂

Categories: Everyday purchases, The Hague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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