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Butter flavored…? (Or: Curious possibilities at the Asian store)

Sometimes I like to go to a local toko, which I usually just call “the Asian store”, to see what odd things they have on the shelves. Next to the awesome things Marco and I can’t live without, of course. I’m back on my faja lobi peanut butter kick (orientalwebshop.nl), which is Surinamese peanut butter mixed with Madam Jeanette peppers. So awesomely spicy.

Anyway, today I spotted these crackers:

The yellow Magic creams product is apparently “butter flavored cream cracker sandwiches”. Who wants cream that tastes like butter? Probably a lot of people, but I can’t wrap my mind around it. The chocolate version on the right looks pretty decent, though.

And sticking with the subject of crackers, check out these Fita crackers:

Does the logo and packaging remind you of anything? They are definitely going for the same branding as Ritz crackers (English Wikipedia), down to the color scheme and the amount of holes on the crackers. I haven’t tried the Fita crackers but they will probably disappoint. Marco and I purchased similar crackers at Xenos (xenos.nl) last year but they weren’t that good. So we still get our Ritz crackers at Kelly’s expat store (kellys-expat-shopping.nl). And since I am on a spicy peanut butter kick, as mentioned above, we usually get two boxes at a time…

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Fleeting – Scents in Colour (Or: Upcoming exhibition at the Mauritshuis museum)

The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague will be unveiling a new exhibition as soon as it is allowed to open its doors again. The exhibition will run through 29 August. The name of the exhibition is Fleeting – Scents in Colour (mauritshuis.nl, in English). According to the Dutch website nu.nl scent dispensers will be available at 8 paintings to allow visitors to “smell” the scene, as it were. The dispensers will be foot activated. The smells range from pleasant (spices, tobacco, coffee and teas from faraway lands) to not-so-pleasant (foul-smelling canals and unpleasant body odors).

It’s an interesting way to make museum visits even more interactive. There is also a book available at the Mauritishuis webshop, in either English or Dutch. The nu.nl article also mentions that the museum is working on packaging the scents so that you can experience the scents from home while visiting the exhibition virtually.

In other news: Foutje herder veroorzaakt babyboom bij schaapskudde Balloo: ‘Nu al 20 lammetjes’ from nos.nl in Dutch. (Herder’s mistake causes babyboom in a flock of sheep: ‘There are already 20 lambs’). In short, a young ram was allowed to stay with his mother too long because he was still nursing. In the meantime he managed to get very frisky before the herder noticed. Since then twenty lambs were born. Since the ram is black, and all of the offspring are black, it was quite obvious to see who the culprit was…

DUO maakt printfout met brieven: burgerservicenummers op straat, from nu.nl in Dutch. (DUO makes a printing error with letters: BSNs accidentally visible). DUO is an government which helps students with financing. They recently printed letters with the burger service number (think social security number for Americans) visible in the address portion of the envelope – that is, visible without even opening the letter. Opps? Up to 1,700 students could be affected although the number is likely to be much less than that as some letters in the batches were fine.

DUO said that the numbers were printed a bit too high on the paper. They are now investigating whether the numbers need to be on the letter in the first place. It does seem like a good idea to leave them off…

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In the meantime, at Albert Heijn (Or: Different batches, I guess?)

Earlier this week I was at Albert Heijn and idly looking at the focaccia breads on sale. My eye was immediately drawn to a focaccia that looked almost burnt, next to a pale one that looked okay.

I suspect I’d probably buy the lighter version if I really wanted it, but I can’t say that the darker version didn’t look tasty as well. Just… slightly burnt. (You can also see some dark exemplars in the back, so it seems like there was just a difference in the batches.)

Today is kind of a weird day, probably a day when I should stay away from checking the news. A few days ago we were at 2,700 infections, then yesterday 3,600, and now today 4,600. Last week’s winter weather could be a culprit, since a lot of testing areas were closed. There were also closures this past Monday when rain came while temperatures were still around freezing. Still, I think it is a sign I should read less news, to avoid feeling frustrated.

For a crazy-but-very-interesting story, check out: People are rescuing thousands of ‘cold-stunned’ sea turtles in Texas from theguardian.com. The cold-blooded sea turtles became paralyzed due to the temperature of the water. At this point over 3,500 sea turtles have been brought in. They will be released once the water warms up, but that will take some time as another cold front is expected in the coming days.

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Valentine’s Day box from FOAM (Or: Two roses)

Marco ordered the Valentine’s Day box from FOAM for the two of us. How cute!

The two extra roses were a nice touch. The box contained fruit salad, an avocado and smoked almond sandwich and a beetroot wrap with black pepper cream cheese, tempeh bacon and cress. On the sweet side we had French toast, banana bread and a chocolate/coffee cupcake. Oh, and juice made of beet/apple/ginger/blueberry. Yum yum. The only thing that I personally didn’t like as much was the black pepper cream cheese, perhaps because I didn’t know the cream cheese had black pepper in it to begin with. It was an interesting flavor either way! The unexpected star of the dish was definitely the fresh toast.

Marco likes to take the artistic photos. I benefit from getting to post them on my blog!

After half a day of rain, the snow and ice has begun to melt. Tomorrow we’re looking at highs of 10C/50F and the weekend might (if we are lucky) get up to 16C/60F. Oh course I read my parents back in the US are facing another snowstorm today… brrr.

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Four days later (Or: Still cold and windy)

The Netherlands is wrapped in a cold spell, with temperatures set to get even colder over the next few days before gradually warming up from Monday.

Code Yellow: Roads still icy, trains still running on adjusted schedule from nltimes.nl. For the most part Sprinters (stop trains) are running to serve all stations, but there are not as many Intercity trains which run between cities. Although the NS promised to put in longer trains, people are still seeing packed trains:

A tweet showing full trains without the ability to keep 1.5 meters distance, noting that shops are closed but this is allowed.

Speaking of shops, they are now allowed to be open for click & collect, but a lot of bigger stores are not offering this option, including H&M, Bijenkorf and Zara (article in Dutch at nos.nl). In some cases because they think the work involved won’t be worth the money gained.

Arnhem zoo brings penguins inside due to the cold from nltimes.nl. Considering these penguins occur naturally in South Africa and Namibia, this does make sense. It does say that the only the partner-less penguins and young penguins without a cave to keep them warm were brought inside (awww, they have their own caves?)

And, finally, while not related to the Netherlands at all, I must simply share this tweet:

Combination cat-lawyer!

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Fun in the snow (Or: Storm Darcy arrives in the Netherlands)

Marco and I went for a walk around lunchtime today to take a few pictures of the snow that fell. It was fairly cold, but that was mostly restricted to my fingertips.

First a picture of a very cold Hofvijfer. There were actually about 10-15 birds in this part of the water, although it is pretty difficult to see.

I didn’t even see the bird flying above when I was taking the picture. My only thought was of my freezing hands and wondering how fast I could take the picture and put my gloves back on.

Lange Voorhout. Off in the distance (and almost impossible to see) is the Escher museum (official website in English). Did you know it is possible to take a virtual tour of the museum? I found it pretty interesting, even if I felt like I had to move the mouse in the “wrong” direction to move around. Note: I’m not sure if they will keep the virtual tour up after the museum opens its doors again, so don’t wait too long.

Look at the snow on this car on the Lange Voorhout – you can see how hard the wind was blowing.

Handhaving grijpt in vanwege drukte tijdens sneeuwpret from regio15.nl in Dutch. In English: Security intervenes due to overcrowding during “snow fun”. The University of Delft’s library is built into a hillside, which means their roof is basically a grassy hill. They said it was okay to snow down the hill (provided no one uses sharp objects which might damage the roof underneath), but of course that meant massive crowds arrived by the afternoon. It is a very cool library design; I’ve been inside once.

Code Orange weather warning issued for Monday; Expect school closures, roadway problems from nltimes.nl. Code orange is a step lower than today’s code red, so there is some improvement. Monday should have been the first day that primary schools were allowed to re-open in the Netherlands, but the weather has definitely thrown a curveball in that regard.

Opps. Tram 16 derailed earlier this morning. Admittedly HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram provider) is still trying to ride most of their routes, with an adjusted schedule. NS, the national train service, said no trains would run today. Amsterdam’s buses and trams were running this morning but have since stopped. Amsterdam’s metro held out a bit longer, until earlier this evening, before that was stopped as well.

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Code red (Or: Brrr, cold and windy!)

Later this evening and tomorrow the Netherlands will be under a “code red” warning for Storm Darcy. Apparently the last time the entire country was under code red was February 2012, before I arrived in the Netherlands.

Dutch issue Code Red weather alert for snowdrifts, blizzard conditions from nltimes.nl. The expected snowfall itself varies anywhere from 2 to 6 inches; it really depends on who you are listening to. The wind is the real problem for traffic, since it will cause snow drifts and limited visibility. Some days it will feel like -15c to -18c (closer to 0F) next week, which is rare in this country. Some news sites are calling this a “once in ten years” event.

And of course, what you would expect to see in this situation…

Empty shelves, of course. That’s the bread area by an Albert Heijn (grocery store).

Dutch health services announce closure of all test and vaccination sites due to weather alert from nltimes.nl. Makes sense. Even the Dutch government is getting in on the action, posting a page about having “fun in the snow” in a responsible, corona proof way: Schaatsen, schaatsbanen, sneeuw en winterweer from rijksoverheid.nl in Dutch. Mainly rules about skating, snow ball fights, etc. Oh, and don’t forget to be inside by 21:00 for the curfew…

In other news: Legendary rock band Golden Earring stops after 60 years on ALS diagnosis from nltimes.nl. Golden Earring (English Wikipedia) is a Dutch rock band from The Hague, internationally known for their hit “Radar Love”, among others. Here is a YouTube link of Radar Love.

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Five Guys (Or: Time for a bit of fast food)

Marco graciously allowed me to change our plans; we picked up Five Guys for dinner tonight. We haven’t been in there a year and a half, probably… definitely not since the corona crisis started. Which is a bit strange, since it is much quieter there these days. Unfortunately for them.

That’s technically where the line would be, if there was a line. And of course there are no free shelled peanuts at the moment.

But ignoring that – woo, Five Guys! Hamburger with jalapeños, grilled onions and mustard for me, with cajun fries. This time we were smart and ordered “cajun on the side”, so we could add the spices ourselves. That meant the spice was a bit more uneven, but at least they were not completely coated in cajun spices this time.

One of the two message boards at Five Guys, a staple by all of their locations I think.

350 snow plows ready to keep Dutch roads clear over snowy weekend from nltimes.nl. Snoooowww! And cold. With lots of wind. So we’ll just stay inside all week? (Of course some Dutchies will strap on their ice skates and rush outside.)

As frost and snow looms, the Dutch draw up rules for Covid-proof skating from dutchnews.nl. See what I mean?

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Falafel (Or: A tasty Sunday meal)

On Sunday Marco and I had falafel for dinner. It is part of FOAM @ home, a pickup service offered every Friday.

It is one of those things – I am sure I have had falafel before (deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas or lava beans, served in a pita). However I have no direct memory of it so it could indeed be the first time.

It was pretty tasty, a perfect light meal for a Sunday evening.

Eurovision planning live event in Rotterdam; In-person audience unknown from nltimes.nl. It seems like ages ago, but the Netherlands did win the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2019, which meant they were able to host the event in 2020. Only the 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus, so they will be hosting the 2021 event instead.

Milder temps to give way for icy weekend from nltimes.nl. Brrr. Winter is coming back this weekend with temperatures around freezing and high winds. Also a chance of snow, but we will need to wait and see if that happens. Again, brrrrrr.

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Last day for oliebollen! (Or: The end of January awaits)

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day you can buy oliebollen and krentebollen (=oliebollen with raisins) from the oliebollen stand at the end of the Grote Marktstraat next to the Blokker and Xenos stores.

This is our Marco, Roger and I’s favorite place to get oliebollen and apple beignets. Usually they close every year by 15 January, however this year the city granted them a permit extension through the end of January. They were also able to open a month earlier due to most carnivals not being able to open during 2020 (the same was true for all oliebollen stands in the area).

Check out their official website.

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