Monthly Archives: January 2015

Serial the podcast (And: Other technological thoughts)

Lately I’ve been searching for something to listen to during my time at work. Previously the most success I have had was with Radio 1, the public service radio channel in Dutch. There is something to be said for having Dutch piped into your ears for hours on end when you are trying to learn the language. With that said, you’re tied down to whatever they are talking about at that moment – and sometimes it can be a bit boring. A little variety is nice.

On Thursday I re-found a podcast, “Serial“. It is a non-fiction story told out over multiple episodes. I had seen it several times over the last few months as I looked for podcasts but hadn’t listened to it. Apparently it was #1 for iTunes podcasts before the first episode even aired. Or something like that. Season 1 is twelve episodes long. It covers the 1999 murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee and the former boyfriend who was convicted of killing her and sentenced to life in prison.

Serial podcast logo

What makes this podcast interesting is the use of actual interviews, recorded phone calls and court room testimony. It is not the voice of one person but the voice of many. Since the events are real, you can’t help but feel like you shouldn’t be listening, like this is private. It’s an interesting feeling.

Here are some interesting links:

Official page
Wikipedia page
Reddit thread
Facebook page

I only started listening to podcasts within the last year or so. While I do feel like I grew up with technology — there were computers at my elementary school and I was online regularly by 11 or 12 — I can definitely feel the divide between my generation and the digital generation. I still prefer email over texting. I don’t follow much of the latest crazes like Vine or Snapchat. Never tried Instagram. I had a twitter account, but deleted it after it got hacked (used the same simple password for that as well as a message board password, and the board got hacked first). I didn’t grow up with an iPad in my hands from birth or a pressing need to have a smart phone by age 7. I didn’t get my first cell phone into high school (Nokia, I believe) and didn’t get a smart phone until 2013.

So I can relate to older generations – I can only imagine what technology is going to confuse the heck out of me in 50 years. Heh. Get off my lawn, and just give me my iPad…

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Chocolate delight (Or: Green tea kit kats and chocolate oranges)

Ever heard of Green tea kit kats?

Green tea kit-kat

Me neither!

Right before Marco and I went to America for the holidays, a friend from Japan visited us, bringing way too many tempting treats. Two bottles of Baileys (one regular, one orange flavor), for instance. The most unexpected was definitely the green tea flavored kit kats. It turns out that provinces in Japan each have their own flavor.  You can read reviews of 15 flavors at kotaku.com. There is even a red bean sandwich flavor! And here is an article from CNN about how Kit Kat managed to get so big in Japan.

Another gift he brought was one of Terry’s chocolate orange. I have slowly made a dent in it every few nights, as it is great with coffee. I must admit the first night I found them quite artificial tasting (how often do you eat chocolate flavored oranges anyway?) but the second night and there after they definitely went well with the coffee.

It is either a pity or a good thing that those irresistible orange slices are almost gone.

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Gardens (Or: MCH Westeinde, hospital)

Today I went with my mother-in-law to the hospital for her scheduled eye operation. It went well, but feel free to leave her well wishes here or on Facebook. 😉 Betenschap!

It was in total about 90 minutes (as there were a few folks before her) and a bit of time in the cafeteria afterwards. I took the time to read a bit. I had charged up the phone and tablet but ended up not needing them at all. Go paper books!

On the way out I took a moment to take a picture of the indoor garden. It is near the entrance, a level below you, but visible as you cross over the bridge.

image

image

Pretty! It was just missing the small waterfall…

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Graffiti of Delft (Or: On the way to Ikea)

A few weeks ago, Marco and I went to Ikea in Delft to see if we could buy a bookshelf for me. I originally wanted the narrow, but tall version, in dark wood – but it was way too heavy to carry back on the tram. So we settled for the shorter version which still stores a fair amount.

Of course, I still need to populate it with more than junk (there’s a lot of random papers that I threw in there simply to clear off the nightstand) but it did mean that I was able to set up the earring holder I got for Christmas. Which made me realize I have a lot of blue earrings, but could use some more of other colors…

Some other random news: I started the second half of the B2-C1 Dutch course at Volksuniversiteit. Like the last one, it is 10 weeks and should be done around the third week of March. After that, my Dutch is good enough to sign up for courses (in general, not just at this school) with native speakers. Hmmm…

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of graffiti that I took on the ride over to Ikea. The owl has already made an appearance on this blog, but this picture is a bit better. The other is new.

Owl graffiti in The Hague

Random graffiti in The Hague

The graffiti is always more interesting on this side of the pond!

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Delft | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Cheese and crackers (Or: With tea please!)

A reader of my blog could say that my blog is mostly about random food and snacks.

And they would be right.

Yesterday Marco and I had cheese and crackers, with tea.

Cheddar cheese with crackers (and tea)

The cheese (not pictured) was a cheddar easily purchased at Albert Heijn, the local grocery store. Tophat 48+. The crackers, well, those came from Kelly’s expat store. Ritz crackers from America. Deliciously buttery with perhaps a bit too much salt (tastes good to me). Of course this particular box came from the UK, so a bit easier to transport.

The tea holder is a Christmas gift from Roger, from the Dutch version of Amazon: bol.com. The cups are from my brother and sister-in-law (thanks!). They say “We go together like” and “peanut butter and jelly” with our names personalized on them.

And the little hat – that is from a promotion; this time of year they can be found on Innocent juice bottles. See more at The Big Knit project. Cute! And useful, since the top is hot when we need to remove the tea holder.

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Naga Thai (Or: Ice cream tasting

Over the weekend Marco and I went to Naga Thai (you guessed it, a Thai restaurant). I have been there a few times but this was Marco’s first time. We were there for lunch so he was able to try out the lunch menu. I was torn between the two appetizers: a fish cake and a loempia/egg roll — or chicken served in coconut milk with mushrooms. Both are quite good! This time I went for the soup.

For the main course we both had finely chopped chicken with basiculum and red peppers. It was pretty good, but not as good as the non-chopped version in my opinion.

Dessert was three types of ice cream: lycee, coconut and mango ice cream, with a sliver of chocolate on top. Yum! We rounded that off with a small (Dutch size) cup of coffee.

ice cream at Naga Thai in The Hague

And for randomness’ sake, here is a photo of a discount Christmas item that they were selling at V&D last week. I like it enough to upload it in a larger size, even if I didn’t buy it!

Christmas ornament at V&D

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Saturday morning experiments (Or: Waffle making

Yesterday morning Marco and I tried out the waffle maker we got for Christmas from Marco’s dad and his wife. It is a Bestron “Sweet Dreams” waffle maker. It was an experiment – the dough might have needed to be slightly runnier in future attempts.

Bestron "Sweet a Dreams" waffle maker

Bestron “Sweet a Dreams” waffle maker

Marco modeling an almost finished set of waffles. This dough was sweet, however we also received a receipe from that described how to make a more savory version with ham and cheese. We also received a sample while at their house – it was delish (lekker)!

Waffels!

Some attempts above. It can be difficult getting the amount of dough you need to add just right – too little and it is not completely filled in, but too much and it runs over the sides. Messy business that!

I suspect our next attempt will be something savory. Yum.

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On the move again (Or: Paagman’s moving to Lange Poten 41)

Tonight I visited Paagman’s (a bookstore) on Spuistraat. Before 2014, there was a different bookstore at this location — read my post about what happened to Selexyz. Before that, it was De Slegte, yet another bookstore. Marco tells me that De Slegte was there for ages…

So imagine my surprise when I walk in and see that Paagman’s didn’t last long either!

Paagman's moving to Lange Poten 41

They are moving as well. Not that Lange Poten is that far away; it’s only a few streets from Spuistraat. But we are beginning to think that this particular location might be cursed.

The sign reads: “Paagman’s is opening a new store on Lange Poten 41. We are also bringing the second hand books with! 700 square meters reading, listening and discovering. Books, music, film and coffee.”

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Upside down delicacy (Or: Port infused Stilton cheese)

Okay, I can assume that this is one post Roger will not “like”! (He is not a cheese person.)

Earlier in December one of our friends visited from England. We showed him around The Hague and a little bit of Amsterdam. One of our stops while in Amsterdam was Albert Heijn of all places. It is one of the many Dutch grocery store chains. This one was close to Central Station so it was interesting to see just how many items on offer were geared towards tourists. Things like drop (black licorice), stoopwafels (syrup waffles) and more. All of it was offered in pretty touristy bins.

Another unexpected thing we saw was cheese being infused with port.

Infusing cheese with port

In this case the bottle was simply turned upside down into the partially scooped out cheese. I found what looks to be a pretty decent link on how to accomplish it by doing a Google search.

I was never a big cheese eater growing up (at least nothing that definitely had visible fungus growing on it) so I am not sure if I would be adventurous enough to try this one. Maybe another day!

Categories: Food | Tags: | 4 Comments

Cloud Gate sculpture (Or: Chicago’s skyline)

If you have ever been to Chicago, chances are you have been to the Cloud Gate. The locals call it “The bean”. It is a huge metallic sculpture which has impressive reflective qualities. This was my favorite “tourist” photo from the Chicago trip. (You can get an idea of the size if you look underneath to see the shadows of people taking pictures.)

Cloud Gate in Chicago

You can see the skyline at nighttime, reflected on its surface.

Funny story – we actually went there to listen to a choir singing Christmas songs. This was supposed to happen every Friday in December from 6:00-7:00pm. By the time we got there at 6:45pm, people were leaving. Hmph. I know the website says that it might be shortened due to extreme cold, but it wasn’t that cold! Oh well. Maybe the next time we are in Chicago for Christmas.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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