Everyday purchases

Christmas men made of bread? (Or: More breakfast fun)

Here is another breakfast item Marco bought at the local supermarket, Albert Heijn:

We decided to be funny and bake some bacon as well. That way they would have a scarf to keep their necks warm. What do you think? This bread was not that much different from the bread shaped like a Christmas tree we had earlier in the week. (Which, if I must admit, was a bit tastier. These weren’t bad, though.)

And yay, I have a day off tomorrow! I am quite looking forward to sleeping in. And later in the day Marco and I will be going to Roger’s for New Year’s Eve. It is hard to believe I haven’t been to his place since March (!).

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Christmas trees made of bread (Or: Breakfast time)

On the second day of Christmas (December 26), Marco and I had a Christmas tree for breakfast:

A Christmas tree made of bread, that is! Marco found it at Albert Heijn, one of the local grocery stores. We ate it with the usual hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and speculoos paste.

In other news: you can legally turn in fireworks today and tomorrow in The Hague (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). Today 207 kilos (457 pounds) was turned in. You can turn in up to 25 kilos of fireworks, even fireworks that are usually in the ‘illegal category’, without being fined.

The reason the city is organizing this is because it is illegal to possess fireworks outside of the few days around the New Year’s Eve holiday (those are also the only days you can legally possess fireworks). This year The Hague said that setting off fireworks would be illegal to keep hospital visits low.

You don’t legally have a reason to have them in your house and you can’t legally set them off, so unless you want to illegally store them for a year, turning them in now is your best option.

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Chocolate mania (Or: Bonbons by Simon Levelt)

Anyone up for some chocolate?

These were the bonbons on offer at Simon Lévelt in De Passage a few weeks back. Saturday, December 12 to be precise, before the lockdown rumors started. I had to stand in line; the store is quite small so only five customers are allowed in at a time. And of course the two people in front of me were a couple who wanted to go in together, probably to look at gifts. They were allowed in but they had to stay in the front of the store, not by the registers.

And why was I there? Lebkoeken!! (English Wikipedia). German Christmas cookies. I had to get them there, considering the Royal Christmas Fair was closed this year…

The store worker managing the line asked what I was looking for. She was able to point me to the display so I didn’t have to wander around looking for them. The line outside the store was only getting longer at that point so it was probably for the best. (Note: Simon Lévelt is open as normal. Since they sell primarily tea, coffee and chocolate they are an essential business.)

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A new addition in Grote Markt (Or: Toilets)

Kudos to The Hague for putting temporary public toilets on the Grote Markt. The most shocking of all: I didn’t see any signs that you had to pay, which would be quite normal in the Netherlands. Generally the only free bathrooms are found in restaurants or cafés.

Normally these barriers would be used for the Royal Christmas Fair. However, the fair was cancelled so the barriers could be put to a different use. And public toilets are very important right now. At the moment restaurants and cafés are only allowed to be open for takeout or delivery, so there not many public toilets available to shoppers at the moment.

I also saw some toilets by the plaza outside the Tweede Kamer parliamentary building, so it is not just on the Grote Markt. (Oh, and for American readers: yes, that’s TJ Maxx in the background. However in Europe the company goes by the name TK Maxx.)

Above is a tweet from the Scheveningen police, wishing everyone a nice Sinterklaas evening. Everyone opens their presents from Sinterklaas on the evening of December 5, aka last night.

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Opps… (Or: I am neither elderly or sick, but…)

This morning I went to a local supermarket to pick something up for dinner. While I usually go to Albert Heijn, this item required me to go somewhere else. Actually, the first place I tried was closed but I kind of figured that would be the case, so I walked on to my second choice.

I was pleasantly surprised to enter a quiet supermarket, only spotting two customers on my quick trip through the store. I quickly found what I needed, checked one other thing and then moved to the cash registers to pay. While waiting for the cashier to appear (it really was quiet) I saw a paper before my nose detailing the opening hours of the store. And then realized that 09:00-10:00, when I was visiting, was actually the weekday ouderuurtje, aka the “elderly hour” where elderly or “immune compromised” persons can visit a supermarket to do their shopping in the quieter hours. That is one of the corona laws the government passed earlier this year. Opps.

I did apologize to the cashier when he walked up, but of course he didn’t care. Probably because it was unbelievably quiet… but still, I know better for next time.

In other news:

Tired of sniggers, Austrian village tweaks its name to Fugging from uk.reuters.com. I assume you can guess what their current name is… but hopefully this way people won’t steal as many of their signs.

Wintersporters blijven met Kerst massaal thuis, ‘nauwelijks boekingen from nu.nl. Dutch skiers are choosing to stay at hore for Christmas, rather than visiting Italy, France, Austria and similar. Although there is some speculation that last minute bookings might still occur. (This is important because the first wave of Covid this spring came from Italy, brought back by Dutch skiers.)

I told Marco about this one; he could only exclaim “Wow, like Pet Cementary!”: Culled mink rise from the dead to Denmark’s horror from theguardian.com. The reason is simple, though: they weren’t buried deep enough and when their bodies started to decompose, well, bodily gases caused them to rise back up to the surface. Still, ew…

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Crazy flavors (Or: Red velvet kruidnoten, anyone?)

Did you notice flavors are getting crazier every year? Marco recently took a photo of some red velvet kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) at Albert Heijn:

Apparently this flavor was the winner of the ‘kruidnoten thuisverkiezing’ or ‘kruidnoten home vote’. I can believe that.

Still, it doesn’t beat the Lay’s potato chip flavor “Baguette with garlic butter”. That was memorable!

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Anyone up for cookies? (Or: Spotted at Albert Heijn)

While shopping at Albert Heijn I noticed they had gingerbread men baking mixes:

The box is in the upper right. Of course I’m not sure if it is actually gingerbread, since the box calls them “Winter holiday cookies”, translated.

And even though you can’t really see it in my photo above, if you go to AH’s website you will see that the box says (in the bottom left): “Good for Halloween, Sinterklaas and Christmas!”

I’m trying to imagine making gingerbread men for Halloween, but I can’t.

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Well, that’s memorable (Or: Wine choices at Bijenkorf)

As I wrote about earlier, this year the Christmas department at Bijenkorf extends into what is traditionally the wine department. Perhaps it is for social distancing purposes?

Marco and I couldn’t help but notice this bottle of wine (in the middle):

It is pretty normal to see something like this in the Netherlands. It isn’t nearly as bad a curse word in Dutch as it is in English, although you still wouldn’t want to have your kid saying it.

(Is anyone else tempted to give it a try just to see if it lives up to its name? If I was a wine drinker, that is.)

Did you know that there is a wine brand with the name Slurp! at Albert Heijn? That one always makes me laugh.

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Christmas displays (Or: The view at CASA)

CASA is a home goods store on the Grote Marktstraat. I decided to take a few photos of their Christmas display for you:

And here’s a look from the escalator:

I don’t think it will be that much longer before we put up our Christmas tree. We’re home a lot these days, so why not make it extra festive?

In other news:

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New Uniqlo store in The Hague (Or: A mini Japanese garden)

A new store has opened up where Marks & Spencer used to be – Uniqlo, a clothing store originally founded in Japan. The inside looks completely different. Where the escalator used to be there is now a set of stairs. And a mini Japanese garden…

The sign on the wall reads: “Honoring The Hague, known for being one of the greenest cities of The Netherlands, a real garden has ben recreated at the heart of the UNIQLO Grote Markstraat store. Inspired by the traditional Japanese Garden at Park Clingendael, the garden incorporates true Japanese elements such as bonsai trees and green moss, perfect for a serene setting. At UNIQLO, we are committed to maintaining the planet and producing clothing in a way that is harmonious with nature, without excessive burden on the environment. To discover more about UNIQLO’s environmental initiatives, visit the sustainability area on the 1F.”

The reason I came to Uniqlo was to see if they were selling their reusable face masks in the store. After a few weeks of wearing single use face masks I decided it was time to move on to reusable ones. Hopefully ones that fit better than the one-size-fits-all face masks I have found until now. I’ve been crossing the bands before placing them around my ears to try and get them tighter, but it isn’t perfect.

Uniqlo’s face masks are sold in small, medium and large, in the colors white, grey and black. I’ve seen a few recommendations about how comfortable they are, so hopefully I can try them out in the next day or two.

(Side note: You can see the face mask display to the left of the stairs in my photo.)

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