Monthly Archives: December 2013

Dutch gourmetten (Or: Eten eten eten!)

It’s New Year’s Eve which for most Dutchies can mean only one thing – gourmetten! It’s a social activity – get together with friends and family and eat, eat, eat. You grill meat and other things, a few pieces at a time. Very gezellig (a happy, warm feeling when you do things with others – no direct translation).

the start of Dutch gourmetten

the start of gourmetten – lots and lots to eat!

We had lots to eat – lots of different types of meats, as well as paprika, onions, mushrooms, bacon, pineapple (yum – you haven’t lived until you’ve had grilled pineapple), bread, and other things.

Dutch gourmetten in progress

gourmetten in action!

There was also a lot of sauces – peanut sauce (pindasaus), garlic sauce, chili lime hot sauce, barbecue sauce (thanks Mom & Dad!), buffalo wings sauce, and more.

Dutch after dinner snacks

after dinner snacks

And then you have the snacks afterwards – krentenbollen (of course – oliebollen with raisins), appelflappen (apple dessert), ananasflappen (pineapple), and more. Yum!

Eten eten eten… and later, fireworks!

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Intricate work (Or: Holiday themed napkin holders)

No, I most definitely did not make this (an awesomely creative family member did).

Dutch Christmas napkin holder

No, I most definitely did not use it during Christmas dinner. It came home with us instead.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: | 2 Comments

Now with your pepperoni pizza… (Or: Fireworks!)

Yesterday Marco and I went to Roger’s for Christmas Eve. Much fun was had by all — Roger even got me a new game: Rack-o. I charged ahead for the first few games, but in the end Roger won by getting to 500 points first!

We also ordered some pizza. I was surprised to see a promotional flyer on the box – spend €25 and get a firework (vuurwerk) for free (worth €11.95). These Dutchies love their fireworks so much they even offer it with their pizza!

free fireworks with your pizza offer

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Christmas Trees (Or: It’s Christmas eve!)

Over the last week or so I’ve seen a lot of Christmas trees around The Hague. One tree that I was not expecting to see was in De Passage. It’s not the best picture but it’s not a small tree either! (The black wall in the background is the construction area before the Apple store).

Christmas tree in de Passage, Den Haag

This was unexpected because of the agreement between a not-yet-opened Apple store and De Passage. In the contract between Apple and the shopping area, it was stipulated that there would be no more Christmas tree in the center as it would block the view of the storefront. Of course, people were quite annoyed by this. But Marco and I found out a few days ago that the tree was back! Only for this year, as a consolation because the Apple store isn’t yet open.

I also found  a smaller Christmas tree at Central Station in The Hague:

Christmas tree in the Central Station, The Hague

Good news for Marco – the rest of his Christmas presents just arrived (via Amazon UK/PostNL) so he will have a present filled Christmas this year! He was even nice and went downstairs to get the package from the mailman. Nothing like waiting until the afternoon of Christmas Eve, but I ordered things pretty late this year.

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

Bijenkorf (Or: Christmas time in The Hague)

Here are the Christmas lights that Bijenkorf put up a week or two ago:

Bijenkorf in The Hague Christmas time

The decorations are not actually strands of individual lights, but rather sections of net which descend down the entire length of the windows and have the lights woven into them.

In other news, I officially got the news last night that I passed all four sections of B1, so it is on to B2! There are two sections starting next month, both Tuesday/Thursday nights. One starts the 14th and one starts the 21st. The class will be done by the end of June. That seems like a far away date right now… but it is really not.

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

Ka-boom! (Or: Almost time for Dutch fireworks)

I received an email from the US embassy today. This is nothing special as I’m voluntarily on their mailing list. Usually I receive information about protests in the area and similar.

It must be that time of the year, because I received an email about fireworks safety today… Most of it would be useful information to the craziness that is that is Dutch fireworks culture, but some of it is amusing:

The Netherlands is known for its extensive use of fireworks in celebrating New Year’s Eve. Officially, fireworks can be lit between 1000 on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to 0200 on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. The legal sale of fireworks (for those aged 16 years and older) starts on the morning of Friday, December 27, 2013. For those unfamiliar with this celebration, it can be quite distressing for young children and pets. Or adults, depending on where you go!

What will the police do to prevent these problems?

The Dutch police have zero tolerance for people using fireworks before or after the permitted times/dates. (In actuality fireworks will start going off a day or two before its legal.) Illegally purchased/ stored fireworks and all remaining fireworks in possession will be seized from any individuals or groups if caught before that date. Anyone under the age of 16 found possessing fireworks may be sent to HALT, the Dutch juvenile reform bureau, for mandatory awareness training.

Some trends you should be aware during the permitted firework time:

1. Groups throw fireworks indiscriminately on the street and in gardens. Quite true. You really have to be aware of your surroundings (perhaps this isn’t a big deal everywhere).
2. Fireworks are tossed fireworks in mailboxes, dumpsters, and garbage containers; causing damage to the owner’s property. I can see that, yes.
3. Fireworks are thrown at pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and pets, and in mail slots. I’m not quite sure that it happens that often, but you do have some evil spirited folks out there. 
4. Fireworks may be launched from holes in street manhole covers. At first I read this and thought they meant that people go into the manhole covers and wait for people to come by, and then jump out and throw fireworks at them…
5. Stacking and setting fire to old Christmas trees at various (designated) locations on public streets. Generally the rule is that Christmas trees don’t get put out until a few days after New Year’s, for just this reason…
6. Possibility of increased criminal activity over New Year’s Eve, especially in areas frequented by large crowds.

When could problems occur?

In particular, right before and after New Year’s Eve; right after the sale of fireworks begins, and at locations where young people gather. Normally this is from dusk until after midnight.

What can you do to improve your safety?

Adults should always directly supervise children who are handling fireworks. Be alert and extremely cautious of fireworks lit in your direct vicinity. Beware of unexploded fireworks lying on the ground – consider such items as “live.” When lighting fireworks, remember they can explode sooner than expected, and can follow a different route than planned. Avoid wearing nylon or other flammable clothing and always use eye protection. Never keep lit fireworks in hands or pockets. In case of injury, call 112, or go immediately to the nearest hospital.

What can you do to prevent or minimize problems, damage or loss?

Inform your children that the police will inevitably be called in regarding any dealings involving illegal fireworks; i.e., possessing (illegal) fireworks or lighting fireworks before 1000 on Dec 31. Keep your windows, including transom windows closed and garbage containers out of reach. Empty your outside mailbox and if removable, bring the mailbox inside as soon as mail has been delivered. If you have a mail opening in your door, close it with wood or hard plastic (using screws or tape). Use your external light fixtures to illuminate your garden, and set timers to illuminate the interior of your unoccupied premises. Call 112 if you observe or hear people causing dangerous situations by throwing fireworks in your vicinity.

Really, the biggest thing is paying attention to your surroundings and what the people (including strangers) around you are doing. One time Marco and I walked a bit closer to a bonfire in the middle of the street. We saw someone throw something into the fire and we instantly bolted about 10 feet away. (It turned out to be nothing, but better safe than sorry. It really can get insane at times!)

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Een jaar geleden verhuisde ik naar Nederland!

One year ago today I moved to the Netherlands. One year ago today I nervously had this conversation with the passport control worker at Schiphol:

Worker: And what is your business in the Netherlands?

Me: Ummm.. I’m moving here? (pause as he looks a bit confused. He definitely wasn’t expecting that response!) But there’s an MVV in the back? (MVV being a sticker which gave me permission to enter the country with the purpose of moving here.)

Worker: (flips to the back of the passport) Oh okay. (stamps the sticker) Thanks.

And that was it… done. We (I) fretted about that moment for weeks, and it was that simple!

Christmas tree in Bijenkorf

Christmas tree in De Bijenkorf, Den Haag

Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 7 Comments

At the end (Or: Test day 2 of 2 at ROC Mondriaan)

Tonight I had my listening and reading tests for Dutch. The listening test started off pretty easy but definitely became harder by the end. Part 1 was about 20 short listening exercises, each with its own question. Part 2 was compromised over three longer listening exercises, each with 4-7 questions. In total there were 40 questions. Seven or eight of those were questions that I was less than 100% certain of. But it was kind of nice to hear all of the different scenarios, each with different people (and thus different accents).

The second test was reading, with 27 different questions. My nervousness about this test disappeared when the teacher said that it was a bit easy – and that her and another teacher kept meaning to make it harder but hadn’t found the time. This one was again different scenarios. The longest one was about grofvuil or the larger trash items that don’t fit into a trash bin — thus you have to ask the city to come take it away for you (couches, tables and similar). I had already read up on that when we had to get rid of the old couches, so the vocabulary wasn’t new. Out of the 27 questions I had 3 that I was not 100% sure of. So no problems there.

Between the two tests the teacher asked if anyone would like to know their grades for the listening test, but everyone seemed to content to wait until Thursday for the results. So after the reading test was done I very quietly asked and she said I had passed — which means that I am all but assured of passing B1 and going on to B2. Though of course it will be nice to hear it officially on Thursday!


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Just a little nervous (Or: Test day 1 of 2 at ROC Mondriaan)

Last night was the speaking and writing test for the Dutch B1 course. I ended up doing the speaking test first and I was definitely a bit nervous… Which I found funny because I can talk in Dutch for two or three hours at times without too much trouble.

If course that depends on who I am speaking with (their accent, how much we have in common) and the topic. But last night I was definitely nervous. Not sure why, except that I want to do really good so I start to worry about failing. :p There was 8 or 9 questions, with only a few sentences required for each answer. For the most part I did fine, except two questions. One where I had to give advice (I wasn’t sure if I should use third or first person, and I used third person. Should have been first, but my grammar was correct anyway.)

The other issue was a question where we had to describe some form of nature where we had lived – flowers, trees, mountains, rivers or etc. I had no idea what to say! I just drew a blank. I did manage something but it wasn’t quite what I was asked for. My teacher did give me a chance to add something else so I did. So in both cases it was probably ‘okay’ though I did fine on the other 7 or so questions.

The other part was writing. No problems there really – perhaps a point or two lost somewhere – but I did end up using almost the entire time and I erased A LOT. I second guess myself sometimes!

Next Tuesday is listening and reading and then it’s done. Almost there.

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Almost at the end (Or: Dutch class 26 by ROC Mondriaan)

Yesterday’s class was the final class before the two test days (tomorrow and next Tuesday). It was pretty relaxed though you could really tell who wanted to be there and who didn’t. Most people hadn’t done the homework. Just me (what else is new) and another woman who admitted doing it on the tram on the way over.

Tomorrow is the writing test as well as the speaking test. I am doing the speaking portion before the class itself begins, so luckily I can leave as soon as I am done with the writing component. That’s easily my strength thanks to all of the emails I sent to Marco while he was at work!

I was also able to find out what book we’ll be needing for the next course, B2. I was happy to find out that it was De Finale (The Final, or ‘The End’). I have seen that book before — it is a textbook that helps prepare you for the NT2-II exam. From what I have seen it does look look like a good book for that.

There’s a slight chance my B2 course might start in the first week of January. My teacher said that a B2 course started this week (since the school receives money from government of The Hague they probably wanted to get additional money on the 2013 books) so it will only run for two weeks before the holidays start. I wouldn’t mind joining in week 3. But even if that doesn’t pan out, there’s probably another B2 course starting next month as well.

We’ll see how it goes…

Categories: Courses | Tags: | 2 Comments

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