Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

I run the blog http://www.lifeinthehague.com

Sinterklaas! (Or: 5 December)

Today is Sinterklaas in the Netherlands (Wikipedia: Dutch | English). Mostly celebrated by kids who receive small trinkets in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Everything culminates in tonight – Pakjesavond, or “Evening of presents” as a loose translation. It’s no secret that Sinterklaas is bigger than Christmas for kids, but it’s still weird to realise this coming from the US.

But – one tradition that you’re supposed to adhere to is not putting up the Christmas tree until the day after Sinterklaas leaves.

Erhm.

christmas-ornament-gold-ball

No comment.

 

Categories: Holidays | Tags: | Leave a comment

Gevulde speculaas (Or: Another dessert by Roger)

Yesterday Marco and I visited Roger and were treated to gevulde speculaas. This translates to “filled speculaas” – the speculaas is filled with almond paste and the speculaas cookie is softer. I liked the homemade version Roger made – it was a lot less sweet than what you find in the stores. It’s mostly made around the the time St. Nicholas visits the Netherlands (5 December, Sinterklaas in Dutch).

Here is a look at the entire piece, before it was cut:

gevulde-speculaas

Almond paste inside, almonds on top…

And a look at a slice of it, where you can more clearly see the almond paste inside:

slice-of-gevulde-speculaas

Delicious!

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Aim Aroy (Or: Thai restaurant in Tilburg)

Last Saturday (Nov 19), Marco, Roger and I went to a rock concert in Tilburg. We saw two bands – Killswitch Engage and Bullet for My Valentine. It was a lot of fun, even if Tilburg really is not that close by. It is about an hour to an hour and a half depending on what train you can get. Luckily it was on a Saturday night, since we got home closer to 1:30AM.

But before we went there, we stopped by a small Thai restaurant for dinner. We had a 4:30PM reservation so we wouldn’t be late to the arena, but that meant we were the first ones there – even before the cook! We could see someone inside, so we decided to wait outside and see what happened. Long story short, they soon took pity on us and let us in.

This is my blog, so I can decide to start with the dessert picture. Check this one out!

spekkook-and-coffee-by-aim-aroy-tilburg

Spekkoek and coffee

If you don’t know what spekkoek is, check out the Wikipedia article.

Although it definitely was not the best lighting, I took a picture of the darkening sky from inside the restaurant:

a-look-at-the-sky-outside-aim-aroy-tilburg

The decorations here are just a silhouette against the sky.

decorations-at-aim-aroy-tilburg

This was also a nice decoration, in the corner of the restaurant.

spring-rolls-and-sate-at-aim-aroy-tilburg

Appetizers to share – spring rolls and Thai (chicken) sate

chicken-and-veggies-in-a-green-curry-aim-aroy-tilburg

A look at my food – chicken and veggies in a green curry, with a side of white rice.

My meal was a bit spicier than I expected, but Marco offered to finish off the spiciest part, the soup!

If you’re in the neighbourhood and you like Thai food, I do recommend checking this one out. It’s a bit small, though, so reserve in advance. They have a lot of takeout traffic as well.

And: good dinner choice, Roger!

Categories: Food, Tilburg | 2 Comments

Bijenkorf (Or: A look at Bijenkorf’s 2016 Christmas selection)

I am officially posting on my brand new computer! I picked it up on Wednesday night and it looks gorgeous. I have missed being able to easily make blog posts, and now it is even easier – turn on Bluetooth between my iPhone and MacBook, and I can transfer photos without any extra cables! Of course, the move to a Mac has been an interesting one, but that’s what I have Siri for, right? At least she knows where to find various settings…

(Speaking of which, it was very disconcerting to hear a male Siri! That was one of the first things I switched…)

I recently went into Bijenkorf (rather than just staring at their pretty Christmas trees outside) to have a look at their holiday section.

christmas-decorations-at-bijenkorf-2016

Very contemplative…

Below is a look at some of the Christmas trees on offer. This year (maybe for the first time since I moved here?, they did not have the large Christmas tree near the front of the store). In its place was a Piet hanging from the ceiling. I was not able to get a picture of it, unfortunately.

party-tree-at-bijenkorf-2016

Say hello to the party tree!

christmas-tree-at-bijenkorf-2016

Bijenkorf does like to colour-coordinate their Christmas trees!

christmas-tree-2-at-bijenkorf-2016

A bit too pastel for my tastes, but I can see how others would like it.

christmas-items-at-bijenkorf-2016

Christmas items for purchase at Bijenkorf, The Hague

Until next time!

Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Holidays at the Grote Markt (Or: Colorful decorations)

Last week I took some photos of the Christmas trees by the Bijenkorf (a department store). This week I was able to take a few photos of the lights along the Grote Markt street:

christmas-lights-at-bijenkorf-the-hague-2016

The new tear-shaped lights the city put in earlier this year look really nice!

Lights by the entrance:

christmas-lights-at-bijenkorf-entrance-the-hague-2016

And a look at the lights in the other direction, towards the movie theater and Primark:

christmas-lights-at-the-grote-markt-the-hague-2016

Oh, and today a coworker brought in 12 oliebollen (sorta doughnut-y pastry that is usually made with raisins inside and covered in powdered sugar). They started selling those on November 1st… It is always something to look forward to!

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

Here we go (Or: Christmas at Bijenkorf)

Last week Bijenkorf (an upscale department store) put up their Christmas decorations. See for yourself:

img_0348
They also put the lights up outside of the building (here is a photo from 2013).

In other news – I finally ordered a new computer! As you can see from this photo of a library book, I am switching from PC to Mac.

"Van PC naar Mac" library book
If you ignore that one semester in college using a Mac and QuarkXPress for a student job, it will be my first time using a Mac. And yes, it might be geeky but the book has been helpful explaining the differences in keys and in the dock at the bottom of the screen where all the program icons can be found.

Although I have a few more weeks to wait, the computer can’t come soon enough. I wanted to write this blog post on my netbook, but Chrome errored when I tried to open it. I restarted my computer but it has been stuck on a blue screen which says “getting Windows ready – don’t turn off your computer”. For a half hour. Heh…

Update: it came back after 45 minutes, although Chrome is still erroring. Oh well! That is a problem for another day.

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

Enjoy these with coffee (Or: Halloween themed cookies)

homemade-halloween-cookies

Halloween themed cookies, made by Marco. Pumpkins, ghosts and skulls. And the skulls were spicy! A bit of haberno powder, while the pumpkins were made of marzipan.

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , | 1 Comment

10 year anniversary (Or: Hamburger and fries dessert)

Marco and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary on Wednesday. This was the anniversary of us meeting (October 19, 2006). We actually met each other after Marco went to a hockey game — Nashville Predators vs New Jersey Devils — in which the Predators won 4-3. It makes the date rather easy to remember, as you just need to look up the hockey game if you forget.

Marco surprised me with this on Wednesday night:

dessert-posing-as-hamburger-and-fries

Trust me, this gesture was sweeter than you think.

Hamburger and fries, right? Wrong.

The fries on the left are actually pieces of waffle and cake. The lower right is strawberry, kiwi and mango with yellow sauce made to look like mustard. And the hamburger itself is made of two donuts for buns and with chocolate “mug cake” posing as the hamburger patty and strawberry sauce as ketchup.

What a creative surprise!🙂

Categories: Food, Marco&Niki | Tags: , | 2 Comments

As we enter autumn (Or: Stroopwafel cake)

Over the weekend Roger made stroopwafel cake. Yum!

stroopwafel-cake

Here’s a closeup of one of the slices:

piece-of-stroopwafel-cake

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

eat-company-the-hague-fall-2016-mural

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 fvap.gov, 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:

ny-federal-election-ballot

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:

ny-federal-election-ballot-closeup

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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