Lazy Sundays (Or: Just the way I like it)

Today is turning out to be a lovely, lazy Sunday. Marco and I slept in a bit before enjoying a nice breakfast (peanut butter toast and buttered toast for me, banana spelt pancakes for Marco). Later on we’ll go visit a friend for his birthday, but for now we’re just taking it easy.

Here are some random things going on in The Netherlands:

The Netherlands is getting rid of its deer farms after new breeding ban from dutchreview.nl. This also has an effect on The Hague’s deer farm by Central Station/Malieveld, although the farms will only disappear from 2024 after the last deer passes away. But it makes sense in today’s world – why keep an animal in captivity, even if you have done so for hundreds of years.

Above is a deer by Koekamp near Central Station/Malieveld (August 2020).

Going Dutch? The language test won’t be harder this year after all from dutchnews.nl. About a year after you come to the Netherlands you need to take a language test to allow you to stay in the country. When I came over the language level was A2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (English Wikipedia). A2 is still fairly basic; you can understand simple situations but you can’t independently get through most Dutch conversations. The Dutch government wanted to increase the requirement to B1 but they weren’t able to do so for 2023. After moving here I took the equivalent of the B1 test and it was okay. I continued on with B2 classes and stopped halfway through the C1 classes.

Note: it’s also interesting to click on the article above because you can see a photo of a corona sign asking people to stay 1.5 meters apart. But in the sign it says “1.5 meters kan je mama’s life saven“, which is a horrible, horrible mix of English and Dutch. Someone also took offense to the use of English, crossing out life saven and writing leven redden, what it should be. Just like Spanish (where non-Spanish speakers like to add an -o to everything), people who don’t speak Dutch or remember the verb will sometimes use the English word and just add -en.

French fries become more expensive due to price increase of Dutch potatoes from nltimes.nl. Oh uh. There are many factors here: the dry summer last year, increased demand, the war in Ukraine (due to rising energy costs), etc. etc. But considering this country loves its potatoes, that’s not good.

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Random finds at Xenos (Or: The store known for its randomness)

Xenos is a store which sells random stuff (official website in Dutch). Housewares, posters, keychains, outdoor furniture, food, drinks, you name it. I’ve been blogged about them before – the word “Xenos” is Greek and means stranger or foreigner.

First up we have the cookie dough bites cereal:

When I was growing up, the most unhealthy cereal we had was Cocoa Puffs. At some point in my childhood I also saw Reese’s cereal in the store, but I never had any interest in trying that. Cookie Dough Bites originated as a movie theatre candy in the US. I can remember Marco and Roger buying those at the movie theatre (or at Target and sneaking them into the theatre!). And then suddenly they were sold in the Netherlands. These days they had a dozen flavors and now they are a cereal. Who knew.

And here is a key chain that Xenos sells:

Having been born in the 80’s and spending my childhood playing (or watching others play) Super Mario Brothers, I told Marco that is probably the only keychain I would consider buying. Not that I need a keychain; it would probably go on my backpack if I ever did buy it. But considering Xenos has offered it for sale the last 5 years I am in no rush to purchase it. And if they ever discontinue it, I will always have this picture to remember it by.

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The weather turns cold (Or: Cold for the Netherlands, at least)

This week the temperature has been around 0-5C (32-41F). Of course that isn’t that cold for my readers from the US, but after 10 years in the Netherlands, it is cold. Luckily one of my Christmas gifts this year was a decent set of gloves. They keep my fingers nice and toasty. Mostly.

My streak of never taking a sick day at work has ended after about 20 years, unfortunately. The last time I took one I was a student worker at my university’s library back in 2003 or 2004, to give you some idea. It isn’t that I am stubborn, I just don’t get that sick that often. Or there was the one time my body decided to get sick around 7pm on a Friday evening, I was confined to the bed for the entire weekend, but then somehow felt well enough to go back to work on Monday. That sort of craziness.

This time I think it was a light version of the flu as the Netherlands is in the middle of a flu epidemic at the moment. I did test negative for corona. I suspect I picked up the flu virus at the hairdressers on Saturday as I was there for a while. Either way, the worst is over, Marco was very loving and received many brownie points, and my sick day record has officially been broken.

In other news, check out the chocolate egg selection at Jumbo (a supermarket):

Because of course Easter eggs start getting sold as soon as the New Years Eve memorabilia is out the door. Some of the flavors include caramel sea salt, nougat, creme brûlée, brownie, tiramisu and peanut butter. At this point, those all sound pretty normal as Jumbo usually has a huge selection.

Random link that might interest you: 11 books based in the Netherlands to add to your reading list from dutchreview.com.

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Food truck festivals (And: News from The Netherlands)

Good news – the food truck festival Rrrollend is coming back for a special winter edition from March 1 to March 5 at the Lange Voorhout. Official website in Dutch. Indebuurt.nl (also in Dutch, it means “in the neighborhood” reports that the winter edition means they will be selling glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate. Yum. Rrrollend will also be back in The Hague in Mid-May (at the Hofvijver) and in mid-August (at the Lange Voorhout).

Above is the shaved ice cream Marco and I enjoyed back in 2019.

In other news, The Hague’s public transportation company will stop selling HTM bicycles in The Hague on February 1 (official website in English) due to low demand. Most people use the NS train company’s bicycles instead. The bikes will be moved to Zoetermeer, a suburb of The Hague, where the demand for them is higher.

The cool event in Scheveningen is open for one more week (the last day is the 22nd). You can go ice skating or view ice sculptures. Official website in Dutch.

If you want to travel to Utrecht, you can also visit the I Light U light festival going on through January 29. The artwork is all in the neighborhood of the main train station. Official website in English.

And finally, we had some pretty strong winds last Thursday. Some planes were asked to use a runway at Schiphol airport that is not normally in use (the Oostbaan, or East runway) but one plane arriving from Detroit still managed to land the plane just short of the runway. Although to be honest I don’t know how much you would feel that as a passenger. See also dutchreview.com in English.

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A new Dutch reading board (Or: This one is a bit tastier)

At some point last month Marco and I were at a store and spotted a different type of reading board. Dutch reading boards have been used for over a century to teach kids how to read. It shows all of the commonly used consonants, vowels and diphthongs in the Dutch language, with words and pictures like aap, noot or mies (ape, nut, word for a woman or kat). See also the photos at this Dutch Wikipedia page. You can also read more about the history of Dutch reading boards (link in English).

Or you can just admire the reading board that Marco and I spotted that is crafted especially for men, apparently:

Leesplank voor kerels = reading board for men.

And here is a random link of the day: in 51 places in The Hague you can take an umbrella / leave an umbrella for free (article in Dutch at denhaag.nl).

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Happy New Year! (Or: Oliebollen time)

Happy 2023, everyone!

Marco and I made oliebollen a few days ago. It’s a donut-like snack that you fry in oil and then cover in powdered sugar.

Of course, purists would say that donuts took their inspiration from oliebollen, not the other way around.

I also purchased some apple beignets from the oliebollen stand at the Grote Markt yesterday. New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the season for oliebollen stands; this particular one opens at 06:00 on New Year’s Eve.

Here is a look at some photos of the New Year Eve’s fireworks above The Hague, from regio15.nl (article in Dutch).

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Sweet treats (Or: Van Delft store in The Hague)

Earlier this month Marco and I visited the Van Delft store in The Hague. They are well-known for their stroopwafels, kruidnoten and pepernoten.

Here is a look at their store setup this year:

Above: a look at some of the kruidnoten flavors they have on sale.

A close up look. Think of flavors like intense orange, disco dip, white chocolate, dark roasted coffee, etc. I bought a bag of the dark roasted coffee flavor. Yum! Of course, kruidnoten are a treat for Sinterklaas (5 December) so they aren’t being sold at the moment.

In other news

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10 years in the Netherlands (Or: Can you believe it?)

Today marks 10 years in the Netherlands! Wow. I almost can’t believe it. Although maybe that sounds a bit too negative – I do love living here and don’t miss living in the States.

Here was my post at 5 years. I didn’t bake cookies this time for my coworkers like I did last year (delicious, soft, chewy lemon cookies. Yum.) Maybe next time. A lot of coworkers choose to work remotely and only come in once a week, so it can be hard to know when there are enough coworkers around to share in the sweets.

I have visited the Royal Christmas Fair a few times this year already though (just like 2017). Once with Marco right when it opened and once with coworkers. The fair runs through 22 December this year and sells a mix of crafts (like nativity scenes, candles, ornaments) and food (like sausages, raclette. crepes). Oh and also some very tasty mulled wine. Although we call it by its German name, glühwein.

Above: a look at some of the nativity scenes for sale at one of the stands.

In other news, here is the most random thing that happend today: Marco and I were flipping through the channels this afternoon and we came across an infomercial selling very sharp kitchen knives. Strangely enough the original presenters were speaking English, but it was dubbed in German and for good measure subtitled in Dutch. It was a bit hard to watch. Normally you would just get the original programming, English speech and all, with Dutch subtitles underneath. We don’t dub anything in this country.

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Spotted at Bijenkorf (Or: 2022 Christmas tree)

Here is a look at the Christmas tree at Bijenkorf’s department store this year:

And of course, I’m not that big a fan of heights (this Christmas tree is about 3-4 floors high), hence the railing in the middle. That was about the closest that I wanted to get when photographing it.

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2021 (not that different from this year’s really)

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2019

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2018

and back in 2015, with more decorations than it has now. It looks like they have scaled back in recent years.

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It must be after Sinterklaas (Or: Lots and lots of oliebollen mix)

I was recently at Albert Heijn doing some grocery shopping. I swear, you almost don’t need a calendar when you walk in there — you can easily tell it is after 5 December (Sinterklaas) because the first ingredients for making oliebollen (a donut-like treat frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve) have started to appear.

At the top of the display you have powdered sugar in the blue and white cans, oliebollen mix in the middle in the yellow and orange boxes, and whipped cream on the far right. Although they haven’t quite set up the tower of sugary goodness that they had last year. Yet.

I am also happy to report that my favorite Christmas cookies are back at Albert Heijn. I picked up a pack for home and a pack for my coworkers the first day they were stocked. It’s a nice large Christmas cookie (in the shape of a wreath) dipped in dark chocolate and covered in red and green sprinkles.

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