Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

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

Do you know what trees eat? (Or: Traffic signs, apparently)

Here is an article from a local news website a few weeks ago:

In other words, a tree is busy eating a nearby traffic sign. Apparently the tree views the traffic sign as a sort of “wound” or “injury” which it needs to heal. It does so by growing around it. If you click the article, you’ll see a second photo at the end of the article with how the tree and sign looked back in 2005. It is definitely a slow process, but it makes for some cool pictures!

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Goober jelly and peanut butter (Or: All the way from America)

It has finally happened – jars of Goober have arrived in The Netherlands, spotted at the Albert Heijn grocery store. Goober is jelly and peanut butter in the same jar (!). I thought it was an invention from the 1990’s, but according to Wikipedia it has been around since the 1960’s. Who knew.

I am a bit particular about my jelly and peanut butter ratios (about 1x jelly to 3x peanut butter) so this arrangement doesn’t work for me. Also, I have realized the awesomeness of Dutch peanut butter (aka less sugar and a bit thicker) so going back to American peanut butter would be a bit difficult. The only time I have it these days is when I am at an American hotel and I get one of those individual peanut butter containers for my toast. I do miss American style breakfasts.

Of course, it is entirely possible that this product has been available in The Netherlands for a while and I just noticed (it was hiding up on the top shelf after all)…

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Made of bread (Or: A Christmas tree for snacking)

Check out this Christmas tree made of bread rolls:

It is as tasty as it looks. It is actually bake-off bread – you buy it at Albert Heijn and finish baking it in the oven. Perfect toppings include butter, peanut butter, speculaas paste (Wikipedia), and/or hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). If you’re Dutch you would add a layer of butter and then the hagelslag sprinkles, but luckily I am not Dutch so I am exempt.

We also split a mini kerststol (Wikipedia) between us, a sort of sugary Christmas bread with almond paste inside. And it was one of those rare mornings where I went and made a second cup of coffee… Good times!

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Looking up (Or: Our new Christmas tree)

Our old Hema tree lasted for 9 years before we retired it last year. Actually, going to Hema to pick it up was our first stop after I moved to The Netherlands – I arrived on 18 December and on 19 December we picked up the tree at the local Hema store.

We have upgraded to a slightly taller tree (so we had to rearrange a few things and place it somewhere else). This tree comes in three parts and is pre-lit. Unfortunately we could only find a pre-lit tree with warm white lights, not the colored lights that most American trees have. But otherwise it was a nice purchase. A bit more annoying to set up then we expected, but we will be old pros by next year.

🎄 Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 🎄

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

Mauritshuis museum (Or: Christmas trees)

Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.

Here’s hoping for a quick reopening in 2022!

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Christmas decorations at Casa (Or: Reminders of my childhood)

Earlier this month I took a photo of Christmas decorations at a local homeware store called Casa (Dutch website). This was of course before the lockdown started and stores were closed, although pickup and delivery are still allowed.

I like the toy in the front, of an pendulum-based amusement ride. It reminds me of the Zipper ride (English Wikipedia) which is an even crazier design where your individual carriage also flipped while the ride spins. When I was just a kid, my mom would occasionally go on the Zipper when the carnival was in town (sometimes with my cousin Roxanne, I think?). I was always pretty shocked by this, as I never wanted to go anywhere near the contraption. I liked watching others go on it, though. From a safe distance. At some point as I grew up Mom stopped going on it, as it can get pretty painful to ride it of course. But whenever I see a ride like that I always think of her riding it.

As a kid my biggest accomplishment was riding the Tower of Terror. Twice. I was pretty proud of that. But I did skip on the (admittedly wimpy) Thunder Mountain roller coaster, until years later when Marco and I went on it. The first time around I kept my eyes tightly shut and kept whispering “No no no”. Oh, and I watched a few YouTube videos to help me get a sense of where all the turns would be before getting on it. Things went much better after that first time and I decided it was safe to actually look around on the second ride. Heh.

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A tower of sugary goodness (Or: Oliebollen and powdered sugar)

Spotted at an Albert Heijn in The Hague:

It is a tower of oliebollen mix and powdered sugar canisters! The sign reads “Enjoy the Christmas weekend”. A lot of oliebollen gets made and consumed around Christmas and New Years. Here is a look at the oliebollen Marco and I made for New Year’s Eve 2020.

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Christmas decorations at Bijenkorf (Or: 2021 edition)

Here is a quick look at the Christmas decorations at Bijenkorf, a high-end store here in The Hague. They are also the store with the beautiful Christmas window displays each year; see also this year’s post about those.

First off, the very tall Christmas tree (spanning about 4 floors) which changes every year. They usually put it up before Sinterklaas and decorate it for that December 5 holiday first, but I didn’t get any pictures of those decorations this year. Also, sorry about the not getting closer to take the photo :), but times like this bring out my slight fear of heights!

Random Christmas table display.

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At the movies (Or: Christmas tree at Pathé)

Marco, Roger and I were able to squeeze in one last movie on Saturday morning before the lockdown arrived on Sunday. We booked the tickets for Spider-Man: No Way Home a week previously, as soon as they went on sale. We even had to wait in a virtual queue for an hour to get them! In the end, Roger was the lucky one who was able to get into the site and book tickets (after some technical difficulties as the website and app kept crashing due to the Spider-Man demand). They were great seats, too.

I must say the movie theatre itself was definitely doing everything they could to take it a safe experience. You were required to show your CoronaCheck app (vaccinated, tested or recovered) to get in and wear a facemack until you were sitting in your seat. There was also social distancing in the theater; the seats around your group’s purchase were blocked out automatically and not available to purchase.

Since we are Marvel geeks we already had tickets for a second showing for Spider-Man on Sunday morning, but we will unfortunately get an automatic refund for those. We understand how lucky we were to be able to see it on Saturday, even. And Mom, if you’re reading this: what Marco and I told you about Spider-Man was an integral part of the movie! (“Hey Mom, did you know…?”)

Christmas tree at Pathé Spui near the drink/food area. Actually it is right next to the Starbucks coffee machines. And the rooster on the right side is because Pathe’s logo is a rooster.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Holidays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Back into a lockdown (Or: “Fun” in The Netherlands)

The Netherlands is officially back in a lockdown, as of this morning at 05:00. In the end it went pretty fast – I started hearing rumors on Friday evening, which intensified when I went to bed, and then there was an emergency government meeting Saturday afternoon and a press conference Saturday evening. Of course, everyone could see it coming after Friday night so the stores were packed on Saturday. Consumers rush to do last minute shopping; Rotterdam municipality asks people to avoid center from nltimes.nl.

Hard lockdown in this case means only essential stores (like the supermarkets, pet stores and pharmacies) and services (gas stations, libraries, notaries, lawyers’ offices) are open. See also rijksoverheid.nl in English for a full list of the lockdown measures. In this case services includes driving lessons and swimming lessons, two things that have a long, long waiting list due to corona. And considering The Netherlands is full of water, swimming lessons for children are quite important.

The good news is that The Netherlands have learned from previous lockdowns, so it isn’t quite like the first one. It is possible to order something online and pick it up by the door of a physical store (called “click & collect” here). Non-essential stores are also allowed to be open as package pickup points, although while they usually receive a small stipend for staying open from the delivery companies it generally isn’t worth it. Cafés and restaurants are also open for takeaway and delivery.

Group sizes are also further limited, inside and outside. Except for the holidays (24, 25, 26 and 31 December; 1 January) group size is limited to 2 persons. During the holidays it is limited to 4 persons. You are also not supposed to visit more than one household per day. Although that is a bit iffy since the police can only check things inside your home if they have a different, valid reason to be inside your home. So if you don’t make a lot of noise…

The interesting thing is that infections are also decreasing at the moment. Although they are very, very high still (higher than any wave before this one). But the lockdown is for the arrival of the next variant, omikron. While hospital admissions are decreasing, they are still also too high to deal with the upcoming variant. At the moment about 25% of the new infections reported in Amsterdam are omikron, and that percentage was already from a few days ago.

Here is a cartoon for you that sums up 2021 (although it is not 100% negative like it sounds):

How are we supposed to just keep going? What a long grim year, again – First Dog on the Moon, The Guardian

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